Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Lou Reed's Berlin on DVD 9/30

Lou Reed recorded the album Berlin in 1973.
It was a commercial failure.
Over the next 33 years, he never performed the album live.

For five nights in December 2006 at St. Ann's Warehouse Brooklyn, Lou Reed performed his masterwork about love's dark sisters, jealousy, rage and loss.

Julian Schnabel, April 23, 2007
So opens the filmed version of the performance of Reed's third solo album about a drug-addicted couple, Caroline and Jim, and their tragic love story.

When Schnabel first heard the album in 1973, he was so affected by it that he would play it on a daily basis. Later, when he would meet and befriend Lou Reed, he would plead with Reed to let him make it into a movie.

And Reed had always intended for his rock opera to be performed on stage--but the mixed reviews and poor sales nixed that plan.

Lou Reed's Berlin is the convergence of both their dreams: Lou Reed backed by a thirty piece band and twelve choristers is captured by Schnabel's portrait-like direction in a most unique concert performance.

With similar techniques as used in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Schnabel uses light, superimposition, montage flashes and symbolic imagery to not only put us in the midst of the performance, but illuminate the story behind the songs as well.

Schnabel even uses actress Emmanuelle Seigneur (aka "Mrs. Roman Polanski") who played Celine in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly to portray the tragic Caroline. Between the musicians on stage and the montage inserts, Schnabel and Reed create an effect that is both visually and aurally mesmerizing.

My favorite moment was back-up singer Antony Hegarty's solo in the encore Candy Says. His beautifully emotive performance brought tears to Lou Reed's eyes. There's also a rendition of Sweet Jane at the end of the film. Lou Reed fans will no doubt be enthralled by this film.

The DVD contains footage of the show on tour and an excerpt from Spectacle: Elvis Costello with Lou Reed and Julian Schnabel, which is notable mainly for the fact that Mr. Reed, at age 65 or so, looks much more fit than either Costello (53) or Schnabel (56).

Way to go, Lou!

Lou Reed's Berlin available on DVD September 30th.

Heroes - One of Us, One of Them

Of all the special abilities on Heroes: regeneration, flight, invisibility, time travel, super human strength, super human speed, telepathy, etc., the most amazing is that of the writers: the ability to turn a bad guy into a good guy.

I thought Sylar was laid to rest at the end of season one. Maybe his continuance on the series was the plan all along, maybe the fact Zachary Quinto is a charismatic hottie had something to do with it. But the plan this season seems to be to take the mean and vicious killer and turn him into a warm and fuzzy hero. As Mommie Dearest Angela said to Noah Bennet, "He's been misunderstood. He just needs structure."

Like he's in pre-school and acting out!

So she sets Sylar up to partner with Noah to catch the baddies. And Sylar does save Noah from certain death from the trap the villains had set for him. Okay, he also slices open Jesse's skull to get his sound wave ability, but a little backsliding to be expected. (At least Future Peter rescued Present Peter from being trapped in Jesse's body before that happened and whisked him off to the future to show him why he tried to kill Nathan.) If the previews for next week are to be believed, Sylar's become positively domesticated. I bet he even does needlepoint!

Heroes has a thing with pair-ups: Noah and Sylar, Future Peter with Present Peter, Hiro and Ando (although that partnership is starting to fray) and Matt with Usutu, the tribal guy who also possesses Isaac Mendez-like painting the future powers. Although Usutu's power seems to be limited to painting Matt Parkman's future. Which is also interesting given the fact that it appeared Parkman wouldn't survive season one either...

At least the writers found another way to incorporate the artwork of Tim Sales back into the series.

The Haitian is none too pleased with Noah's new sidekick. "Am I being replaced?" he asks Bennet. Bennet tells him it's only temporary--until he finds Sylar's weakness. "And then I'm going to kill him," he tells the Haitian. That is, if Claire doesn't get to Sylar first. She's out for vengeance after what he did to her.

The most intriguing storyline was Tracy Strauss, the Niki Sanders look-alike. She tracks Niki down to New Orleans in order to try and figure out what their connection might be. Unfortunately, Niki's in a casket having not survived the warehouse explosion from last season's finale. But Tracy comes face-to-face with Micah who almost mistakes her for his Mom. Using his ability to talk to machines, Micah finds the connection between Niki and Tracy: they were both born in the same hospital on the same day delivered by the same doctor.

Now wait a minute--wasn't Niki already a twin? Her sister, Jessica, died at the hands of their abusive father and later became the basis for Niki's alter ego. When Tracy tracks down Dr. Zimmerman, he recognizes her--but calls her "Barbara." When she corrects him, he remembers saying "Beverly Hills." "I created you," he tells her.

So, Niki and Tracy are clones. And there's a Barbara somewhere out there as well. Wonder what her power is...

Monday, September 29, 2008

Five Years Later - The Return of the Desperate Housewives

Last night Desperate Housewives returned. Although it's been less than five months since we last saw the ladies of Wisteria Lane, time has flash forwarded five years.

Yup--the weird epilogue at the end of season four was a clue to the direction creator Marc Cherry was taking the show:

Susan and Mike were in a horrible car accident which left the other driver and her child dead. Susan's guilt apparently tore her marriage to Mike apart (although we were led to believe James Denton's Mike Delfino went the way of Rex Van de Kamp, Paul Young and Ida Greenberg) and now she's tentatively allowing a bit of happiness back in her life in the form of Gale Harold who plays house painter, Jackson. (As in painter Jackson Pollack, get it?)

Jackson serenades Susan with the Ramones I Want to be Your Boyfriend at Edie's homecoming party, but she wants to keep him under wraps--for now. Initially I thought it was an age thing but it turns out Teri Hatcher is only five years older than Gale Harold.

Gaby has had two little girls and in the process is no longer looking like the hot pampered ex-supermodel that she has in past seasons. In fact, Gaby's flabby. Perhaps this new story line is the reason Eva Longoria's microscopic "pooch" was mistaken for a baby bump. We should all be so "fat."

Gaby's four and half year old daughter, Juanita, however, definitely has a weight problem. And Gaby's fears about the loss of her own hotness come to the surface when dealing with Juanita. I can't locate the age of Madison Lovato--the little girl who plays Juanita--but there's no way she's four and a half. She looks like she's at least ten.

Oh, and Carlos is still blind.

Lynette and Tom are dealing with their juvenile deliquent twins. And Felicity Huffman is dealing with the worst wig ever. Worse than her cancer wigs.

Bree is becoming the new Martha Stewart. Her obsession with her career is causing a rift between her and best friend Katherine Mayfair--but it's due to the fact that Danielle took baby Benjamin away. So now Bree is channeling everything into her catering and cooking empire.

But she still has Andrew, who manages her affairs, and Orson is back in her life.

And Edie's also back! Nice con job making us think Nicollette Sheridan was leaving the show. I guess "technically" Edie did leave--for "five years." But now she's back. "I have a husband now," she tells the gals. "Really? Whose?" counters Susan Mayer.

It looks like Edie's hubby, the very persuasive Dave Williams (Neal McDonough), has a secret past and an axe to grind. Someone on Wisteria Lane should be worried--but who?

Bob and Lee are still happily married and still as hysterical as ever. When Jackson is frantically getting dressed outside Susan's house when Lynette drops by unexpectedly, Lee drolly pulls out his cell phone and snaps a picture. No words and yet it was the funniest moment of the show.

Let's hope season five sees more Lee and Bob!!!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Memos to Morons - part six

TO: Potential Employers

RE: How to Properly Conduct Yourself During the Hiring Process

I've spent the last three months searching for the ideal career opportunity. And, although I have finally found said position (Yay!), the job search was a grueling process. No thanks to the many employers that I encountered along the way. So for you, moronic employer, I offer a few basic tips:

1. Please post a salary range in your ad. Let's get past the whole salary history/salary requirements guessing game. If your range is too low, I won't waste either of our time in applying. And while we're at it, please be reasonable in coming up with that range. I've seen ads where an employer wants someone to maintain their website, keep their books and basically run the show--for a whopping $13/hr. C'mon people, this is L.A.! Rent is expensive, gas is expensive--who can live on $13 an hour?!!

2. Everything is electronic these days. If you request a resume via e-mail or your web-based application system, don't ask me to print two copies to bring to the interview. You have an office and a printer, print out your own damn copies! I will never understand this request.

3. If you have a deal-breaker when it comes to skills, please identify this in our brief phone interview. It makes no sense to have me come out for an interview only to find that I don't not possess the required experience in SAP. It wastes your time, but more importantly, it wastes mine.

4. I know you've received hundreds of submissions and you cannot reply to each applicant. But, if you've called me in for an interview, then you owe me the courtesy of a follow-up of where you are in the process. Out of the many interviews I had, only two employers had the respect to let me know where things stood. Even a "Sorry, we've hired someone else" via e-mail is sufficient.

5. Recruiters, for the most part, you are the pathetically parasitic leeches that sponge off the talents of others. Thanks for taking my resume to fill a quota and then never bothering to follow-up with me. I'll be sure to recommend your services highly to my friends. NOT!!!

6. Careerbuilder and Monster, enough with the layers of junk ads that I must wade through to apply to a job. How sneaky of you to make said ads look like I'm applying to a job, rather than signing up for a pitch to attend dental hygienist school. Please go away! This is why I prefer using Indeed.com.

7. Dear Spammers, I have no interest nor am I qualified to sell insurance. I know you think my resume posted on Monster is an indicator that I am DESPERATE, but I'm not. Please stop filling my inbox with "Special Offers." Please stop calling my cellphone with your sales pitch.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

R.I.P. Paul Newman

So sad to hear of the death of movie legend and philanthropist extraordinaire Paul Newman.

He's the sort of class act I wish I could be when I grow up.

Looking back over his credits, I realized that he didn't really break through until he was in his thirties. He then went on to create memorable performances and be infinitely cool for the next five decades.

Not too shabby.

Here's a list of some of his more notable films (the stars indicate ones I've seen, the double stars indicate ones YOU should see!):

The Long, Hot Summer *
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof *
The Hustler **
Harper *
Cool Hand Luke **
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid **
The Sting **
The Towering Inferno
Slap Shot
Absence of Malice *
The Verdict *
The Color of Money *
Blaze *
The Hudsucker Proxy
Nobody's Fool **
Road to Perdition
Empire Falls **

What's your favorite Paul Newman movie?

Jackpot: The Best Bette

Whether you're a fan of Bette Midler or not, you cannot deny the fact that the Divine Miss M. has an inimitable style of her own. In an era of generic, overproduced pop tarts, Bette Midler is immediately distinctive and distinguishable. No matter whose song she's singing, she always manages to make it her own.

Her latest CD is titled Jackpot: The Best Bette and it features nineteen songs spanning her more than three decade long career. Midler jives to Du-wop ditties like In the Mood and Boogie-Woogie Bugle Boy, rocks out on the Stones Beast of Burden, breezes through the R&B ballad Just My Imagination and soars with standards such as Tenderly.

She is a truly versatile performer.

Her big hits are included--although I'm not much of a fan of the sappy Wind Beneath My Wings or the simplistic From a Distance. Her rendition of The Rose however, from her starring role in the movie of the same name, is just as achingly beautiful as ever.

I really dug her countrified take on the folksy This Ole House and the sultry stylings of the previously unreleased Something Your Heart Has Been Telling Me.

Here's the complete track listing:

1. In The Mood
2. This Ole House
3. Beast Of Burden
4. Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)
5. The Rose
6. When A Man Loves A Woman
7. I've Still Got My Health
8. Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most
9. Hello In There
10. The Glory Of Love
11. Tenderly
12. Wind Beneath My Wings
13. Do You Want To Dance?
14. Baby Mine
15. From A Distance
16. Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy
17. Friends
18. Something Your Heart Has Been Telling Me
19. Cool Yule

No matter what your musical tastes are, there's a bit of Bette for everyone!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Back to Work for Ugly Betty and The Office

When we last saw Betty Suarez, she had to choose between sweet Henry's marriage proposal or spicy Gio's romantic Italian vacation. Both Rae and I guessed she'd pick neither Henry or Gio, but instead would go off on her.

And we were right!

Although Betty didn't take a European vacation, she explored the good old U.S. of A. We got to see her travels via postcard-like shots of the Grand Canyon, Yosemite and San Francisco set against the B-52's Roam (God, I love that song! Note to self: Download for iPod!).

When she returns home, she feels she has changed--but so have the circumstances at home. Ignacio has a job at Flushing Burgers (an unfortunate appellation for a food establishment). Justin bedazzles his name on his cap and when Ignacio balks says, "I was trying to put the YOU in uniform!"

Okay, so some things HAVEN'T changed.

At Mode there are even more changes: Daniel has been ousted and Wilhelmina is running the show. Willie's reign of terror includes all black and white decor and sub-arctic temps. It's so bad that Mark and Amanda are absolutely THRILLED to see Betty back. The reunion doesn't last long as Betty finds assisting Daniel means working at Player, a men's magazine that features hot biker chicks rather than fashionable chic.

As Betty is adapting to the new environment, Daniel is adjusting to being a father to D.J. aka Daniel Jr. (Julian De La Celle), Hilda making compromises for her relationship with the married Coach Diaz and Ignacio is trying to please his bitch-on-wheels boss, Kimmie Keegan (Lindsay Lohan).

Turns out Kimmie used to torment Betty in high school, but now is jealous of her glamorous life. This culminates in one helluva food fight followed by apologies and heartfelt conversations all round--Betty and Kimmie, Betty and Ignacio, Betty and Hilda, Daniel and D.J. Well everyone except for Claire and Alexis--due to Wilhelmina's machinations, Alexis has killed off Claire's Hot Flash magazine. Claire reflects that Willie was able to get Alexis to oust Daniel, and now her. How much longer until she finds a way to get rid of Alexis? Not too much longer--Rebecca Romjin's pregnancy with twins is definitely starting to show, so obviously her exit from Mode will coincide with her maternity leave...

Betty's three goals were 1. find an apartment, 2. get more responsibility at work and 3. avoid romantic entanglements. She accomplished numbers one and two, but there's a snag with goal number three in the form of musician neighbor Jesse (Val Emmich) who returns Betty's "B" necklace and serenades her with a cover of Tom Petty's American Girl as the episode ended.

The previews for next week looked like fun: Betty becomes Wille's protege. How did the tagline go? "When you make a deal with the devil, there's hell to pay!"

The Office featured a whacked weight loss contest, the return of Ryan (this time temping as a receptionist to replace Pam while she attends design school in the Big Apple) and Jim's proposal to Pam--which was surprisingly romantic despite the rain and truck-stop setting.

The weight loss challenge brings out the crazy in everyone. Kelly collapses from her cleansing routine and later Creed sells her a tapeworm. Stanley does leg lifts with paper reams. Dwight replaces vending machine snacks with pieces of fruit.

The insanity leads Dwight to drive Phyllis out to an abandoned warehouse and then leave her to walk back--because she needed the exercise. This leads to an intervention with Michael displaying his world famous interpersonal skills--wearing a fat suit and posting pictures of Elvis (in his later years), the Stay-Puf Marshmallow man and Jabba the Hutt. He tells Dwight, "Apologize for making her walk five miles--which for her is basically a death march!"

Andy, however, is really excited about losing weight for the wedding. "I really want to have washboard abs when Angela first sees me naked." Meanwhile the blushing bride-to-be is sneaking off to storeroom rendevous with Dwight and giving Andy a list of impossible list of wedding demands: a thousand year old church in the continental U.S., rainbows and there may have been a unicorn in there.

According to Andy, every little boy fantasizes about his dream wedding--but he's miffed when Angela shoots down his honeymoon plans: "But this is where my parents decided not to get divorced!" How long are we giving this engagement when the groom wants his school acapella group, A Whole Lotta Treble, to not only perform at the ceremony (Angela's choice of song: The Little Drummer Boy), but also gang up to be his best man?

It was pretty brilliant to bring Ryan back as Pam's replacement. So funny to see the fallen wunderkind groveling mea culpas to his old co-workers (although adding Jim and Kevin to his "list" for when he's back on top again...)--especially Kelly, who was rubbing his nose in her relationship with Darryl. Michael copies Ryan by growing a goatee--and then shaves it off after Ryan does. Which leaves Dwight, who has grown a goatee to match Michael, out in the cold as usual.

A brief but memorable appearance by Jan who says about her growing business enterprise: "Remember last week when they held the vigil for that girl who went missing? Guess whose candles they used?" Which sets up the triangle between Jan and Michael and new HR person, Holly--who finally learns in this episode that Kevin is not mentally challenged.

And speaking of HR people, we got a follow-up on Toby in Costa Rica, hospitalized after a tragic zipline accident. Poor Toby!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Strip Away Stress and Get Nude!

Barney's New York is sort of a fashionista's and beauty junkie's playground. It is our Disneyland. Y'all can go on Space Mountain--I'll be over here at the skincare counter! (It's also where I first met fellow beauty junkie, Stevie Wilson over eight years ago!) So when I got the call about Sava Spa savant Joanna Czech at Barney's giving facials using nude skincare products, I was sooo there!

I've been under a lot of stress and a facial sounded like just the ticket. And in Joanna's capable but gentle hands, I felt all my worries melt away. Joanna, whose exclusive New York City spa services the likes of Kyra Sedgwick, Christy Turlington and Uma Thurman, has long been an advocate of a more gentle, nourishing and protective form of skin care. It seems our long held "no pain, no gain" mentality of acids and exfoliation and lasers has been counterproductive in achieving the healthy, glowing skin tone that we all long for. nude's philosophy, which is shared by Joanna, is to protect the skin's natural acid mantle through the use of probiotic ingredients.

Starting with nude's cleansing facial oil, Joanna gently cleansed my skin. I love how gentle and yet thorough this cleanser is--it leaves my skin clean, but moist and supple! She followed up with the facial scrub which contains ulta fine beads of rose quartz. Rose Quartz--how amazing is that?!!!

Spritzing my skin with the hydrating water, Joanna then used the replenishing night oil to give me a facial massage. And a neck massage. And a shoulder massage!


After applying the miracle mask, which contains natural AHAs and mandarin along with red ginseng, she finished me off with a mixture of the advanced smoothing complex and replenishing night oil. Pure bliss!

If you're a lucky New Yorker, check out the lovely Joanna Czech at Sava Spa, 211 Pinehurst Avenue, New York 10033, 212.543.0008. nude skincare is available at Barney's New York, select Sephoras and online at nudeskincare.com.

DWTS - 2 down, 11 to go!

It's only week one but two contestants have already been voted off Dancing with the Stars this week. In a marathon that had couples doing two dances over the course of two nights, season seven has gotten off to quite a start.

I thought it was a bit sadistic of the producers to make the couple wait out the entire show not knowing if they would get a second chance to dance, or shown the door. It was especially mean that they made soap diva Susan Lucci wait until almost the last moment (as if her 21 year wait for an Emmy wasn't punishment enough!). Comedian Jeffrey Ross (yeah, I've never heard of him either!) was booted off Tuesday night. Too bad for his professional partner Edyta who, until last season's pairing with Jason Taylor, never manages to make it very far in the competition.

Ted McGinley, who was paired with new pro Inna, received his walking papers tonight. Too bad--he was kinda charming and I was really rooting for Kim Kardashian to have her @$$ kicked off the show. She's just a terrible dancer and the whole "I'm so shy" act is weird. Who appears on a reality show if they're reserved? It makes no sense!

As far as handicapping the contestants goes, from what I've seen Brooke Burke and Toni Braxton are favorites with the judges, so I expect them to do well in the competition. Both Burke and Braxton have greatly toned down their public personas for this competition. Who would know that Toni Braxton is a sultry R&B diva the way she keeps her eyes downcast during judging? And Burke is playing the "Aw, shucks--me, sexy?" card. I think this will eventually work against both of them. Humility is great, but false modesty is not.

For male contestants, my money is on Lance Bass. The so-called "worse dancer in 'NSYNC" is still one of the best dancers in the competition. And I'm thoroughly surprised by Hannah Montana's (Ugh--just typing that made me ill!) Cody Linley. I wasn't expecting much of him, but he's kinda adorable in a puppy dog kinda way. And he's paired with equally adorable Julianne Hough. I wouldn't be surprised to see him make it to the finals.

Cloris Leachman (who seems to be channeling Lucille Ball) is this season's lovable geezer--and she's playing the part with gusto! If the 82 year-old Leachman weren't on the show, 61 year o-ld Susan Lucci would take oldest cast member honors. Does she look awesome or what?

Dancing with the Stars has often been touted as a great weight loss program for some of its contestants. Joey Fatone and Marie Osmond both praised the competition for helping them shed pounds. But it looks like a couple of the pros having been slacking off while on hiatus and could use a bit of the show's trimming effects. Was it just me or was both Cheryl Burke and Karina Smirnoff a bit thicker/poochier in the middle? Of course neither of have anything on Cloris Leachman's mid-section (or MINE for that matter!). Please God, don't let the wardrobe people ever expose that!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

South of Pico

This indie film has won multiple festival awards, has a high rating on IMDB and was compared to one of my favorite movies, Crash. As in, it's better than Crash.

I thought to myself, "Better than Crash? I really need to see this!" Crash is one of those movies that I wish I'd written--plus South of Pico has the locality factor going for it. Pico Avenue is a main drag in L.A.--and one that I'm pretty familiar with. I figured I'd see lots of familiar sites in South of Pico. Places I could point at and say, "I've been there!"

So is it better than Crash?

Um, no.

That's a pretty high bar to reach, but South of Pico might as well be located in Antartica for as close to Crash as it gets. Let's see: they both start with a car accident and they both have multi-racial casts. But that's as far as the similarity goes.

South of Pico is blessed with a talented cast--Henry Simmons (NYPD Blue), Gina Torres (most recently seen as Simon Elder's ex-wife on Dirty Sexy Money!) and Kip Pardue (Remember the Titans). What it wasn't blessed with was a big budget or well-written script. The lack of budget is evident in shots that look washed out and faded and the obvious lack of rehearsal and tight filming schedule. Most of the dialogue delivery sounds like a table reading than actual acting.

The script is carefully constructed; opening with the sound of a horrific accident followed by a series of grunts and thuds. When we as the audience are allowed to view the scene, we get our first introduction to the four main characters who are all covered with blood. The film then flashes back to the beginning of the day before the accident and weaves the story of these four diverse individuals who are total strangers before a twist of fate brings them together. The narrative moves with ease between the four strangers and their stories, but relies too heavily on shallow plot devices to ramp up the drama.

Kip Pardue plays Robert Spencer, a limo driver who seems to be modeled on the Jude Law remake of Alfie. Early on we witness the limo lothario boffing a bride-to-be on the way to her wedding. It was at that point I said to myself, "This was written and directed by a guy." A guy who seems to have bought into the whole porn fetish fantasy. Yeah, every day cable guys, pizza delivery boys and limo drivers are having wild sex with their customers.


In other guy-like worldview, we see Patrick Wise (Soren Fulton), a young high-schooler, spying on a teenage couple making out in a stall in the boys bathroom. Not highly unlikely, but the scene was constructed so that:

1. Said couple spend no time checking for feet to make sure that the bathroom is truly empty.
2. Despite the fact Patrick can quite clearly see their feet, they are wholly oblivious to his.
3. So oblivious are our young lovers, they are not even aware that Patrick has heaved himself up to peer over the stall's wall at them.

I dare you--next time you're in a bathroom, pull yourself up so you can hang your head over the stall and see into the stall next to you and see if occupant of said stall doesn't hear or see that.


Henry Simmons plays Walter Chambers, a doctor specializing in treating pediatric cancer. He's got a golf game with Mr. Rush (Peter White aka "Linc Tyler" from All My Children), who is a rich prick that Walter is trying to get to fund his research center. How do we know he's a prick? Well, because we overhear Walter call him a prick in a phone conversation with his wife. And if that weren't enough, he toys with Walter over the issue of the donation while they play golf. And if THAT weren't enough, he has half a dozen minions dressed in dark suits and ties and shades and looking like escapees from the Blues Brothers Band acting as caddies. And if THAT weren't enough, Mr. Rush, in his infinite "prick-ness," takes a piss on the golf course.

Yeah, he's a prick all right! Sheesh.

Winning a wager about making a putt, Walter returns to the hospital only to find his favorite patient's test results are back and they're not good. The cute little boy has begged Dr. Chambers not to put him through chemo anymore, but despite his tests showing that chemo will most likely not alter the probable outcome, the boy's parents insist on it.

Okay, I have a problem with this. First off, cancer treatment is unbelievably expensive. Unless you're extremely wealthy, the only way you can afford chemo and hospitalization and all the tests is via a good health insurance. There is no way health insurance will pay for treatment with a doctor's authorization, so how am I supposed to believe that these parents can override their doctor's call?

The reason for that scene and many others was to contrive situations where our four characters are basically having a really crappy day. Robert's long-time girlfriend has finally dumped his cheating ass and won't change her mind even after his remorseful honesty; Patrick tries to meet up with his feckless father, but his Dad gives him the wrong address and he ends up in a bad part of town and gets assaulted by some thugs; Walter has to deal with the prick and the heartless parents of his patient; and Carla Silva (Torres)--well, I'm not quite sure what her bad day was. Seems the filmmaker tried to set something up where the damaged and reticent Carla comes out of her shell cautiously only to have everything smashed before her eyes.

At least I think that's what the whole snail symbolism was about...

When they converge to witness the horrific accident, the hell that they've been through in the hours prior to the incident becomes unleashed. The footage of the accident itself is effectively and nauseatingly graphic--as is the events that follow it. But I never really bought it. Although it's been described as four strangers "bonding" (albeit in the most twisted sense of the word...), it comes off more like a mob mentality. And four people does not a mob make.

The story was inspired by a fatal road rage incident that happened in Chicago in 2003. I've tried researching the specifics of the actual story, but haven't been able to find anything a sensational as Ernst Gossner's take on the situation. The Austrian writer/director/producer is to be commended on several counts: his structural craftsmanship, his multicultural casting and his competent execution of the ultimately flawed story. I'm sure we'll be seeing more of his work in the future!

South of Pico is now available on DVD and can be rented from Netflix or purchased from Amazon.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Heroes - The Second Coming/The Butterfly Effect

Admittedly season two of Heroes was a disappointment. We had the annoying addition of supernatural twins Maya and Alejandro. In my opinion, the writers killed off the wrong twin. Hiro spent most of the time in the 17th century. Nathan spent too much time looking like Grizzly Adams. Peter was trapped in a box with amnesia. And the three M's--Matt, Mohinder and Molly--were playing house in Manhattan.

Looks like season three is off to a much better start. Nathan survived the assassination attempt, thanks to the healing powers of a resurrected Mr. Linderman. Oh, but the catch is no-one but Nathan can see Malcolm McDowell. And Nathan's assassin? None other than brother Peter, who came from the future to prevent Nathan from disclosing the secrets of the heroes. Future Peter is on the lam, screwing up the present while present Peter is trapped in the body of a Level 5 escapee named Jesse. Oh, and it that weren't enough for the Petrelli family, mom Angela has taken over the Company following the death of Bob and reveals to Sylar that she's his mom.

No doubt it will make for fun times at the next family reunion!

Still with me? Okay, Sylar manages to get Claire's regenerative power making him pretty much unstoppable. (Was anyone else confused at how--if Sylar had lost all his abilities as he himself said, he managed to throw Claire up against the wall and laser her scalp via telekinesis?) He lets Claire live, however, telling her that even among the special she's special and that her brain is different. It seems though, that when he assimilates her power (and not by eating brains which, as he says, is "disgusting"), he removed her ability to feel pain.

After Sylar acquires Claire's power, he heads off to Level 5 where the company has the evil villains like Adam detained. He kills Bob and takes his ability and is about to kill Elle, when she emits an electrical charge that disables him long enough to be captured. Unfortunately, the charge shuts down the grid and allows a dozen bad guys--including present Peter trapped in baddie Jesse's body (and Milo Ventimiglia played "Jess" on Gilmore Girls!)--to go on a rampage. Angela uses this as a reason to "fire" Elle from the Company. (Apparently other than producing superpowered spawn, Angela has the ability to see the future--and it's looking really grim!)

Noah Bennet also escapes Level 5 and is reunited with his family. He has to leave, however, to track down the evil escapees--but he leaves Claire and the rest of the Bennets in good hands: Claire's biological mom--the human flamethrower.

Hiro and Ando are together again. This time chasing after the two halves of a formula that will destroy the world. Although cautioned in a message from his deceased dad not to open the safe that kept the formula secure, Hiro ignores the warning and the formula is stolen by "speedster" Daphne Millbrook. Hiro visits the future to see the result of the formula in the wrong hands and witnesses his murder at the hands of Ando. This puts a bit of a crimp in their relationship. Hiro and Ando set off after Daphne to retrieve the formula.

Did Niki die in that fire last season? Maybe. maybe not. Ali Larter is back--but this time as Tracy Strauss, the Ice Queen of K Street. Tracy's resemblance to Niki throws Nathan off when she comes to offer him the vacant senatorial seat. "Do you think you know me?" she asks. "The word "biblically" comes to mind," Nathan replies. Great line. Turns out Tracy is a REAL Ice Queen--having the power of turning things--including a nosy reporter--to ice. Anyone else get the obviously planned irony of having said nosy reporter played by William Katt, aka "Greatest American Hero."


Meanwhile, we're down to two M's with Mohinder and Maya. Molly has apparently been shipped off somewhere for her safety. Wonder if that's where Micah ended up as well...Mohinder's packing up to return to India, much to Maya's dismay. She wants him to cure her ability. Mohinder makes the connection between Maya's moods and her plague inducing ability and deduces the powers are in the adrenal glands. He is able to make a serum that creates rather than cures abilities. He injects himself and turns into Spiderman. It's really creepy. But even more creepy than the ugly skin condition he develops as a side effect, was the icky love scene between Mohinder and Maya. Let's hope Angela sics Sylar on the two of them and SOON!

As for the third M: Matt gets wise to future Peter who flings him into the Sahara desert for much of the episode. As he collapses from heat exhaustion, a turtle tells him that he can obtain water from the plant. But it wasn't really a turtle, but some African tribal guy who has quite the sense of humor. He asks Matt if he knows Britney Spears and when Matt asks to borrow his cell phone, tribal guy says "No Service. Should've gone with Sprint." It was funny--even if it was an obvious product plug. Turns out tribal guy paints the future just like season one casualty Isaac. And "Park-man," as he calls Matt, is not supposed to be there.

Whew! Part one's title comes from W. B. Yeats' apocalyptic poem (a favorite of mine!):

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Dexter ROCKS (and Rolls!)

When I went to my mailbox today, what should I see inside but this awesome sight! Dexter Magazine!

Actually, the faux Rolling Stone cover was an ad on the back of the latest issue of Rolling Stone magazine. Flipped upside down so it looks like the front cover of "Dexter."


The front cover of Rolling Stone features the not nearly as hot guys from Metallica.


I haven't even opened it yet--I just keep staring at the cover.

The Dexter one, not the Metallica one.

Is someone gonna tape season three for me or what?

SpaMafia - A Family of Products Fighting Dirty

My favorite part of working out is...the shower when I get home!

Ah, it feels soooo good to wash all the sweat off of my body. To be clean, cool, refreshed.

Lately I've been using products from SpaMafia to lather, scrub and moisturize my skin after a tough workout. Behind the clever name and the Sopranos-style branding, there are some great products in this very affordable and (mostly) natural, paraben-free and organic bath and body line.

Owners Rachel (aka Sophia the Saltress!) and Estelle (the Exterminator!) created this grass-roots company in San Francisco and then infused the marketing with a sense of humor to distinguish themselves from their competitors and get people asking, "What's all the racketeering about?" The concept is cute, but the products speak for themselves:

1. Fresh Sugar Body Scrubs - Come in five awesome scents (Berry Martini, Fresh Grapefruit, Warm Vanilla, Mango Colada and Organic Lavender), are paraben-free and contain fair trade ingredients. I love how the scrubs don't leave a greasy film on my body, but do leave my skin soft and smooth. Fresh Grapefruit is my favorite--it's sunshine without the seeds!

2. Organic Apple and Oat Shower Gel - 70% Certified Organic ingredients, paraben-free and no added color in a hydrating gel infused with glyercin, shea butter and panthenol. Comes in six great scents: Apple-licious, Brandied Pear, Cucumber Melon, Organic Lavender, Pink Martini and Pomegranate. A little goes a long way with this stuff--it really works up a lather!

3. All Natural Peppermint/Tea Tree Lotion - Combine the cooling power of peppermint and eucalyptus with the anti-bacterial properties of tea tree oil in a lotion loaded with heavy-duty moisturizers like safflower and jojoba oil and you've got a recipe for relief from hot, tired skin. It's paraben-free as well!

4. Organic Spa Lotion with Olive Oil and Grapeseed - This can be custom scented, or unscented if you prefer. What it has: 70% Certified Organic ingredients and loads of anti-oxidants. What it doesn't have: parabens, dyes, animal or petroleum ingredients. I love using this on my face--it's great for sensitive skin!

5. All Natural Glycerine Soaps - These 100% Vegetable Based soap bars make it easy to shave your legs in the shower. The bars come in scents like Pink Martini, Pomegranate, Warm Vanilla--and qualify for free shipping if you order them! I loved the Pink Martini scent. It not only made ME smell good, it made my whole bathroom smell good!

6. Organic Oatmeal Complexion Bar - Made with 20% Oat flour and 37% Certified Organic ingredients, this bar is an effective, but gentle, way to cleanse your skin.

SpaMafia also makes body butters, bath salts and gift baskets--products for men and for dogs (which may or may not be redundant...) and for kids as well. SpaMafia may be full of softening and sweet-smelling products, but I'm sure Estelle and Sophia would insist that they're tough on grime!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Ghost Town

I'm not a big Ricky Gervais fan.

Sure, I love The Office--the U.S. version, but I've never quite gotten Gervais' awkward, halting humor.

Until today.

Ghost Town is filled with great characters--living, dead and canine--but it is pretty much the Ricky Gervais show. And what a show it is! The role of Bertram Pincus, a dentist who avoids human contact and interaction at all costs, is tailor-made for Gervais. His dryly acerbic delivery had me laughing out loud--and his tender turn-around brought tears to my eyes. Although an unlikely romantic lead, Gervais manages to create an odd and oddly affecting character.

During a routine diagnostic procedure, Pincus is clinically dead for just under seven minutes. But the experience leaves him with a highly unwanted aftereffect: now not only does he have to deal with the living, but he is afflicted with the ability to see dead people as well.

I thoroughly (and surprisingly!) enjoyed this movie. It's funny and sweet and heartwarming and sad and touching and ultimately uplifting. Part The Sixth Sense, Ghost and A Christmas Carol, Ghost Town fires on all cylinders and hits the ground running. In addition to Gervais, Ghost Town boasts a great supporting cast. Greg Kinnear as a tuxedoed ghost named Frank can do the glib and dapper role sleepwalking. Tea Leoni offers just the right mix of wit and winsomeness as Frank's widow Gwen. Kristen Wiig is hysterical as usual as Bertram's surgeon and even Billy Campbell knocks it out of the park in a small role as Gwen's way too perfect love interest, Richard.

Co-written and directed by David Koepp, Ghost Town is brightly and briskly paced with a balance of humor and pathos, sweet and sour, light and dark. The cinematography of Fred Murphy really captures the charm and beauty of New York City. I've always found the Big Apple a bit overwhelming--but Ghost Town manages to make New York City's appeal apparent even to me.

And the film about changing one's outlook had another effect on me as well:

I am now a big fan of Ricky Gervais!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Killing Time with the Keywords

Back by popular demand--whoohoo!


1. What does Ugly Betty look like?

This is what Ugly Betty looks like....

...and this is the lovely America Ferrara, the talented actress who plays Ugly Betty looks like!

2. In Ugly Betty, where did Amanda's biological dad find out about her and her performance?

Gene Simmons, lead singer of KISS, was allegedly believed to be Amanda's dad. We subsequently learned that he faked the Tweety Bird tattoo in order to score a reality series. But, acccording to the deceptive dad, he found out about Amanda and her performance because "I google myself every morning."

3. What is the budget for Heroes?

Approximately $3-4 million per episode.

4. How well did the new 90210 do?

According to Lisa de Moraes of the Washington Post, the premiere of the new 90210 did better than the premiere of Gossip Girl with an average of almost 5 million viewers. By week three, it has lost about 2 million of those viewers.

5. Why did Earl say there was no karma?

Earl had a crisis of faith where he was unable to see where two years of doing good deeds had gotten him.

6. What does Elina's tattoo from ANTM say?

According to Honestly ANTM, it says, "A voice for those who can't speak."


1. What is the song on Matthew McConaughey's cell in Tropic Thunder?

McConaughey who played Rick "Pecker" Peck had a ringtone of the Dan Hill song "Sometimes When We Touch" on his cellphone.

2. Fargo movie fact or fiction?

Fargo was NOT based on a true story, but is in fact the product of the warped minds of writer/directors Ethan and Joel Coen. According to IMDB, they may have been inspired by some actual Minnesotan crimes:

"The specific crimes shown in Fargo didn't happen, but the plot seems to employ elements of two well-known Minnesota crimes. In 1962 a St. Paul attorney named Eugene Thompson hired someone to kill his wife, Carol. Unbeknownst to Thompson, his man hired someone else to actually do the job. The second man fatally wounded Mrs. Thompson in her house but she managed to escape him. She went to a neighbor's house for help while her assailant fled the scene. The sloppiness and brutality of the crime attracted great attention. The murderers were quickly caught and gave up Thompson, who denied knowing anything about the crime for many years afterwards.

In 1972, Virginia Piper, the wife of a wealthy Orono banker, was kidnapped. A million-dollar ransom was paid, one of the largest in U.S. history. Mrs. Piper was then found tied to a tree in a state park. Two men were convicted of the crime, but were acquitted after a re-trial. However, one of them later went on a shooting spree when his wife left him, killing her, her son from a previous marriage, her new man and one of his boys, and his own five-year old son. Only $4,000 of the money was ever recovered."

3. A couple of people were interested in Pineapple Express wardrobe--specifically "belt buckle that looks like Dale Dentons" or "what company makes Seth Rogen's belt buckle?"

This is what Dale Denton's belt buckle looks like:

It's a pewter iron cross belt buckle.

...and the closest I could come in finding one that looks like it was this (on left):

$14.99 from BCheap. Knock yourselves out!

4. Classic films starring dog?

IMDB lists over 16,000 titles tagged with the keyword "dog." Here are just a few of the relevant ones:
  • Benji
  • Old Yeller
  • Beethoven
  • Turner and Hooch
  • The Wizard of Oz
  • Scooby Doo
  • Sounder
  • 101 Dalmatians
  • Lady and the Tramp
  • Cujo
  • Come Back, Little Sheba
  • Lassie Come Home
  • I Am Legend
  • Snow Dogs
  • The Ugly Dachshund
  • K-9
  • My Dog Skip
  • The Shaggy Dog
  • White Fang
  • Oh Heavenly Dog
  • Air Bud
  • and last, and certainly least, the upcoming Beverly Hills Chihuahua.
5. California wines that 2006 rematch mentioned in Bottle Shock?

According to Wikipedia the top three were:
  1. Ridge Vineyards Monte Bello 1971
  2. Stag's Leap Wine Cellars 1973
  3. Mayacamas Vineyards 1971 and Heitz Wine Cellars 'Martha's Vineyard' 1970 (tie)


1. The Road Cormac McCarthy symbolizes?

I'm not sure The Road "symbolizes" anything. It was a painstakingly realistic portrayal of life after a nuclear holocaust. And to the searcher looking for "The Road + happy ending," there really isn't one. Sorry.

2. Main character of Russell Banks The Sweet Hereafter?

There was no main character in the BOOK. The novel devotes a section to each of several characters: Dolores Driscoll, the busdriver; Billy Ansel, the Vietnam veteran who lost his twins; Mitchell Stephens, the lawyer; Nicole Burnett, a teenager paralyzed in the crash and finally Dolores Driscoll again.

The movie, however, puts much of the focus on the Mitchell Stephens character.

3. Similarities between John Irving's life and A Prayer for Owen Meany?

I believe it was Until I Find You which featured situations drawn from Irving's own life.


A lot of searches for tattoos: "cool Indiana tattoo" (sorry to break this to you--but that's probably an oxymoron...), "female crotch tattoos" (OUCH!), "gross tattoos" (see previous...), "pit bull tattoos," "laugh now, cry later tattoo" or the similarly popular "smile now, cry later tattoo," "world of warcraft tattoo" (as if you weren't already a big enough geek...) and my favorite, "let's get fucked up and die tattoo."


Note: I am NOT a doctor, I just play one on this blog...

1. Dry scaly patch above eye?

Do you wear glasses or sunglasses? Do they have metal frames? Could be contact dermatitis from a nickel allergy...

2. Odds of cervical dysplasia morphing into cancer?

According to the Women's Health Channel, 30-50% of cervical dysplasia can progress into cancer IF left untreated.

Yearly PAP smears = very important!

3. How to inject with Novolog Flexpen?

Ah, this I am an expert on!
  1. Take cap off pen.
  2. Remove seal from pen needle and insert open end onto pen. Twist until it's attached.
  3. Remove protective cap from needle and set aside.
  4. Remove purple plastic thingy and throw away.
  5. Dial up one unit of insulin and depress orange button to make sure there are no air pockets.
  6. If no insulin comes out of needle, dial up another unit and depress orange button.
  7. When insulin comes out of needle, dial up correct dosage on pen.
  8. Find a fatty area on your body (the stomach is easiest and least painful) and slowly allow pen needle to pierce skin.
  9. Make sure the needle is all the way in and depress orange button to inject insulin dosage.
  10. Keep holding the orange button DOWN and allow 10-30 seconds for insulin to disperse.
  11. SLOWLY pull needle out of skin while still HOLDING the orange button DOWN (this prevents any backdraft).
  12. Take protective needle cap and insert it over needle. Use cap to remove needle from pen by twisting.
  13. Dispose cap with needle appropriately.
  14. Recap pen.
Voila! The most important part is to do the "air shot" (most guides say to do two units, but as long as you see a bead of insulin when you depress the orange button, there's no air pockets) and to allow the needle to stay injected until the insulin completely disperses. That way you are assured of getting your full, correct dosage.

Also, holding the orange button down until the needle is completely withdrawn is important in case you accidentally hit a blood vessel. Although not foolproof, holding the button down can prevent blood from being drawn back into the pen--thus contaminating the insulin.

3. Witty clips for power point presentation and vitamin D in endocrinology?

Wow. Who knew that endocrinologists had a sense of humor?


1. The name Smart & Final means?

Amazingly enough, it's the combination of the names of two of the founders: and Jim SmartHildane Final. You learn something new every day!

2. "Derm" stands for?

"Skin." Derma is latin for skin and so dermatology would be the study of skin diseases and a dermatologist is a doctor who treats skin diseases.

3. Lyrics to the song with the words "lend me your ears and I'll sing you a song" in it?

The Beatles song "With a Little Help from My Friends" featured drummer Ringo Starr on lead vocals and goes like this:

What would you think if I sang out of tune
Would you stand up and walk out on me
Lend me your ears and I'll sing you a song
And I'll try not o sing out of key

Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends
Mm, I get high with a little help from my friends
Mm, gonna try with a little help from my friends

What do I do when my love is away
Does it worry you to be alone?
How do I feel by the end of the day
Are you sad because you're on your own

No, I get by with a little help from my friends
Mm, I get high with a little help from my friends
Mm, gonna try with a little help from my friends

Do you need anybody
I need somebody to love
Could it be anybody
I want somebody to love

Would you believe in a love at first sight
Yes, I'm certain that it happens all the time
What do you see when you turn out the light
I can't tell you but I know it's mine

Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends
Mm, I get high with a little help from my friends
Mm, gonna try with a little help from my friends

Do you need anybody
I just need someone to love
Could it be anybody
I want somebody to love

Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends
Mm, I get high with a little help from my friends
Mm, gonna try with a little help from my friends
Yes I get by with a little help from my friends
With a little help from my friends

4. Italian word for "main event"?

All the translators I used came up with "evento principale" which is most likely a literal translation. Any Italians out there who can give a more idiomatic translation?

5. What name goes well with the middle name Stella?

Personally, I don't think the name "Stella" should be hiding in the middle! But whatever you do, don't name the kid "Ella," "Bella" or "Della."

Odds and Ends

Still getting people searching for skin: "nude yoga," "nude runner," "Mark Cuban shirtless" and "Tom Bergeron shirtless" (Hi Elisabeth!).

For the person searching for "who was the monartch from 1520-30?"--could you be more specific? Monarch of France, English, Spain, Sweden? Narrow it down, Dude!

Then there was a search for "ugly ghost faces," "movie footwear ultimatum," "craigslist in frostproof Florida" and "cheaters never prosper for power writing."

And to the person searching for "Picture of Napoleon Dynamite wearing a Speedo"--Please get help. Soon.

Finally, we had "what's the difference between below average, average and above average beauty?"

It's all in the eyes of the beholder. See "Picture of Napoleon Dynamite wearing a Speedo" and "Tom Bergeron shirtless" for examples...

And last, "Average person can become above average or even higher?"

Most definitely! Just keep reading this blog...

Friday, September 19, 2008

Found on Craigslist

I've often said you can find almost anything on Craigslist and here are a few posts from the Los Angeles General Community section to prove it:

1. Misplaced your way to send messages to your secret love in Altadena?

Homing Pigeon Found

2. Hey, it's Hollywood! We don't have TRYOUTS for sports teams!

Casting Female Flag Football Team

3. They shoot horses don't they, but this is a bit odd:

Do you have a stainless frig I can shoot?

4. I hope they're not using these to feed grandma!


5. There's someone in L.A. who's just realizing they're not in Kansas anymore:

Have a Barn?

6. Better than robbing a bank...

To: The person(s) who took the money tree in (long beach)

7. Hmm--maybe it's the same person who took the money tree?

I need help finding my STOLEN CAR!!!!!

8. I'm holding out for enchiladas!

Santa Monica Burrito Project, Meets TONIGHT

9. Looks like Kramer and Frank Costanza finally got funding for the "Bro."

Lose your Man Boobs!

10. Because Buffy the Vampire Slayer is otherwise engaged...

Anti Zombie Crew

Thursday, September 18, 2008


In Northern Uganda, a civil war has raged since 1985 displacing millions from their ancestral homes into refugee camps. But War/Dance is not so much about the horrors of this ongoing strife, but more about the hope that still resides in the children of the Acholi tribe.

"In our daily lives, there must be music...if there's music, life becomes so good."
The film follows the students of Patongo Primary School as they compete in Uganda's 2005 National Music competition for the very first time. Focusing on Nancy, whose father was murdered by rebels who hacked his body to pieces with a machete; Rose, who lost both her parents in a brutal massacre; and Dominic, who was abducted along with his older brother by the rebels and forced to participate in their killings; War/Dance achieves an empathetic intimacy with its subjects.
"In my heart, I am more than a child of war."
Writer/directors Sean Fine and Andrea Nix do an outstanding job of capturing the pathos and the passion of the Acholi people, but it is Fine's gorgeous cinematography that deserves most of the praise. With shots framed like portraits, he conveys the colors and the rhythms, the ugliness of the living conditions vs. the beauty of the country, the horrors and the hopefulness. Visually, it's a beautiful piece of work. Aurally, War/Dance resonates with the drumbeats and chants of the Acholi tribe--and in the echo of those sounds, there is the triumph of life.
"Music...is our tradition. Even war cannot take it from us."
As the students travel 200 miles accompanied by armed soldiers in a two day journey that takes them to Kampala, where the music festival is held, you sense that their real journey covers much more ground. In the words of one of the students:
"I'm excited to see what peace looks like."
Now there's a sight that's worth seeing!

For more info about War/Dance or to purchase the DVD, check out the Shine Global website.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Recharge with Biotherm

It never fails, I'm going about my business and someone will say to me, "You look tired. Are you sick?"

This is code for "You look like crap."

Yeah, I love hearing that!

Fortunately Biotherm has come up with a solution: Multi Recharge Yeux. With pure ginseng extract, caffeine, ginkgo and vitamins A & E, Multi Recharge Yeux helps reduce the appearance of dark circles and puffiness. The Recharge line also features Flash Concentrate Serum and Flash SOS Anti-Fatigue Mask.

Since I've been using the eye treatment, my eyes are less puffy and the dark circles are less noticeable. And no-one has asked me if I'm tired lately!

I've also been loving Biotherm's classic skin treatment: Source Therapie Superactiv Concentrated Skin Perfecting Serum. Wow--that's a mouthful, isn't it? Biotherm should just call it "Magic." It's like a mini Spa getaway vacation in a bottle.

Like their Rides Repair line, Source Therapie Superactiv is based on the healing probiotic properties of Pure Thermal Plankton. Enriched with a moisturizing complex of glycerin, hyaluronic acid and oligo-sugars along with the pure thermal plankton, Source Therapie Superactiv has been helping soothe, protect and help skin resist the signs of premature aging for five years now.

I've found that my skin looks calmer and more refreshed after less than a week of use. So if people have been telling you that you look like crap tired lately, give your skin a wake-up call with Biotherm Flash Recharge and Source Therapie Superactiv.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Dirty Sexy Money and Private Practice - Season One on DVD 9/16

When these new series started airing on ABC last season, I had no interest in adding to my already overcrowded TV watching roster. And I certainly wasn't expecting much when I received the DVDs to review. Surprisingly, both shows turned out to be fairly engrossing and somewhat addicting viewing experiences.

Dirty Sexy Money was called "Dynasty for the new millennium" by creator Craig Wright. And I can certainly see the resemblance. The ongoing saga of the poor little rich family and the principled lawyer struggling to keep them out of trouble--while he struggles not to compromise his integrity--definitely reminds me of an Aaron Spelling production. Although, Dallas and Dynasty seem quaint and realistic compared to the envelope-pushing that occurs on Dirty Sexy Money.

Despite the title, the show isn't so much about Dirt or Sex as it is about Money. Lots of money. The rich live in bigger houses, drive bigger cars and have bigger problems and secrets than us--or so the writers would want us to think. The new millennium's Blake Carrington comes in the form of silver-maned and silver-tongued Tripp Darling--played by an exquisitely understated Donald Sutherland. Sutherland creates a character so complex and layered in his portrayal of the powerful patriarch that it's a completely engrossing experience to watch him do his stuff.

The cast is pretty star-studded with Peter Krause (late of Six Feet Under) as the principled Nick George, who inherited the Darlings from his father, Devlin aka "Dutch," after Dutch's untimely death. It's a devil's bargain, with Nick taking on the spoiled Darling clan in exchange for a ten million dollar trust fund with which he can do his charitable works. Jill Clayburgh plays Darling matriarch Letitia "Tish" Darling and Billy Baldwin plays son and Senatorial candidate Patrick (although Baldwin comes across as more "goombah" than "blue blood" in my opinion).

Then there's the even more delicious than ever Blair Underwood as Simon Elder--a billionaire Russian immigrant who may or may not be plotting the Darling's downfall. Okay, the whole "Russian" thing is weird. According to the storyline, Elder's parents once worked for the Darling family with Elder's mom having an affair with Tripp's dad. Apparently Dutch got involved and pulled a few strings with the State Department and got the African-American Communists deported to Russia where they eventually ended up in a Siberian work camp. See what I mean about pushing the realistic envelope?

The problem with this story is that Peter Strauss, who plays the late Dutch George, is 61. McCarthyism was at its peak around 1954. Making Dutch only SEVEN when he allegedly got Simon Elder's parents deported. Even if Dutch was actually Tripp's age (Donald Sutherland is 73, but how many times do you see actors playing OLDER than they are in Hollywood?), he'd have been only NINETEEN. C'mon writers--the audience isn't THAT stupid! Other than the obvious mathematical challenges, Underwood's Simon Elder character is an intriguing addition and definitely helps to put the SEXY in Dirty Sexy Money.

Other members of the Darling family include professional divorceé Karen (Natalie Zea) and the twins Jeremy (Seth Gabel) and Juliet--who are the most immature 25 year-olds in history. Especially Samaire Armstrong who plays virgin (yep, another stretch of the already strained credibility!) Juliet Darling. Juliet is supposed to be a Paris Hilton knock-off, complete with fake acting career, small dog accessory and Nicole Ritchie type feud. The problem is, Armstrong doesn't think she's Paris--she thinks she's Cindy Brady and plays the spoiled little rich girl as if she were SIX! I'm waiting for hair and makeup to do her up with spiral curl pigtails.

My favorite character is black sheep brother Brian Darling, an Episcopalian priest with a nasty attitude and a bastard son. Later, it turns out that Brian Darling is also a bastard (in all senses of the word) as he is actually Dutch George's son--the result of a 40-year long affair with Tish. The idea for the character of a priest came from Craig Wright's own stint with Seminary and it's an interesting set of contrasts: man of God who is mean and nasty rather than beatific, the rich boy who grows up to be a religious servant. The only problem is to reinforce that idea, the character wears his collar ALL THE TIME. I'm sure even Catholic priests take the collar off when they're off the clock.

Glenn Fitzgerald
plays Reverend Brian Darling--a despicable worm--with such panache you can't help loving him. Like the scene where he tells the school bully picking on his son that God is so disappointed in her and she should stop or she'll burn in hell for all eternity. "And eternity is a very long time," he intones serenely. It certainly doesn't hurt that he is pure hotness, either! I also love the chemistry between Fitzgerald and Will Shadley, who plays his son Brian Jr. Shadley is just precious and the relationship between father and son is oddly touching.

I have to give a shout out to Shawn Michael Patrick who plays the family chauffeur, Clark. Clark is like Alice the maid, Mr. Belvedere, Mr. French and Hazel all rolled into one. He gets the trouble-prone Darlings out of more scrapes than does lawyer Nick George. And kudos to the producers for bringing Candis Cayne, a transsexual actor, on board to play Carmelita, Patrick's transsexual lover. This is part of the reason that ABC topped GLAAD's list last year. The other addictive component of the show is the fabulous soundtrack. Shiny Toy Guns, Rage Against the Machine, Concrete Blonde and Coldplay all add great background and atmosphere to the series. I'm going to end up making a serious dent in my iTunes playlist due to this show!

The 3 DVD set contains all ten episodes of season one along with:

  • The Road to Excess: Making Dirty Sexy Money
  • Enter the Penthouse: The VIP Set Tour
  • Haute Couture: Dressing the Darlings
  • The Other Woman: Candis Cayne
  • Bloopers, deleted scenes and audio commentaries

The Grey's Anatomy spin-off featuring the winning Kate Walsh reprising her Addison Montgomery character in sunny Santa Monica also got to me. I found myself sniffling at the end of each and every episode of Private Practice. Another star-studded cast with veteran series actors Tim Daly, Amy Brenneman and hottie Taye Diggs combined with Audra McDonald, Paul Adelstein, KaDee Strickland and Chris Lowell add up to an attractive and engaging ensemble.

Yes, we are again in fantasy land--or perhaps more accurately "Shonda-land"--with the members of Oceanside Wellness Center. Hey--I have a terrific holistic physician. She returns phone calls and e-mails promptly. She is very caring and always hugs me after my visit. But house calls? No Medical Assistants? No receptionist, office manager, billing coordinator? Are we supposed to believe Dell, the nurse and aspiring midwife runs the whole administrative side of the practice?

Okay, if you can get past the medical Garden of Eden that is a medical practice made up of a world class double board certified neonatal surgeon, fertility specialist, internist/author, holistic practitioner, shrink and pediatrician (Oh, and let's not forget the jack-of-all-trades midwife!), then you've got the set-up for a lot of deeply affecting personal stories with these saint-like doctors and their patients.

I only hope that Private Practice doesn't fall into the Grey's Anatomy trap of getting too incestuous with the doctor's personal lives and relationships. I mean you have a core cast of four men and four women--how many times can they break up, make up, hook up, switch partners and switch back again before it gets icky?

The 3 DVD set consists of the nine episodes that made up the abbreviated season one--two of the episodes being the "extended" versions--as well as a bio feature on Kate Walsh, a behind the scenes featurette, deleted scenes, outtakes and commentaries.

Season One for both Dirty Sexy Money and Private Practice are available on DVD today, September 16th--which should tide you over until their season premieres on October 1st!