Friday, October 31, 2008

Looking Forward to my Extra Hour of Sleep...

It's no secret how I feel about Daylight Savings Time. In order to "gain" that extra hour of sunshine, we give up an hour of sleep.

This weekend we get it back!

I, for one, am very happy about that. 'Cuz God knows I could use it...

An article in the Washington Post talks about the phenomenon of clock changing we go through twice a year. Ironically the two parts of the country that don't participate are Arizona and Hawaii--the home states of our two Presidential candidates.

Maybe our future President will eliminate this idiotic practice once and for all. Forget the economy or the war, let's vote on a real issue: sleep deprivation every Spring!

Ugly Betty/The Office - Halloween Tricks

In honor of Halloween, there were plenty of tricks on last night's episodes. An elaborate set-up resulted in Kimmie Keegan's termination from Mode. Ah, yes--this is what happens when you diss the King and Queen of the Mode prom.

No, not Daniel and Wilhelmina--Marc and Amanda!

Betty is spurred on by cute neighbor Jesse to take some initiative and make her dreams come true. We all know my undying adoration of Gio (aka Freddy Rodriguez), but Val Emmich might be growing on me. Responding to Betty's question about what he is doing, he answers "Serenading you with advice."

Cute.

Betty contribution to Mode's Hot Issue is "Sizzling Hot Fruit." Thanks to Ignacio, she settles on the tico berry--which turns out to be the patron fruit of supermodel Adriana Lima. (Someone needs to explain Ms. Lima's appeal to me...Frankly, I find her more than a little scary looking. Especially when she smiles!) Booking the supermodel for the cover shoot of the Hot Issue is a major coup for Betty and she is rewarded with the assignment of project manager from Daniel--as well as the wrath of Kimmie.

Speaking of Ignacio, the newly naturalized American is so excited about voting in his first election. Loved the shout-out to fellow ABC show Dancing with the Stars. It seems Ignacio can be as obsessed about voting for his favorites as I am.

It's not long before Kimmie has wrested control of Betty's photo shoot from her. Following a distrastrous interview with Suzuki St. Pierre (Amazingly the writers found a way to beef up Alec Mapa's usually brief exposure on the show...), Kimmie is assigned to help Betty. Unfortunately for her, she's burned bridges with Amanda and Marc--especially after she gets Marc's boyfriend Cliff (Yay--the return of David Blue!) shafted from the Adriana Lima photo-shoot.

Meanwhile, Claire warns Daniel and Wilhelmina that there are pressing financial issues threatening to destroy Meade Publications and that they need to hire a C.F.O. Coincidentally, Wilhelmina runs into a superior candidate while waving down a cab in the person of Connor Owens (looks like Grant Bowler aka Captain Gault from LOST landed in a good place...). Wilhelmina floats the idea of Owens coming to work for Mode, but Connor tells her Daniel would never allow it.

Wilhelmina runs the idea by Daniel, but Daniel is vehemently opposed. Later, she manages to get Daniel to at least be open to meeting with Connor--but the two men are at odds during the entire process. Wilhelmina is resigned to the fact that Daniel will never agree to hire Connor Owens, but he surprises her by offering his nemesis the job. But the real surprise is that Connor and Daniel planned the whole thing all along.

And speaking of plans, the one concocted by Marc, Amanda and Betty to get Kimmie fired is going swimmingly--until Betty gets cold feet about compromising her principles. She tries to tell Kimmie it was a set-up, but the bitch doesn't believe her and stands up to Wilhelmina--only to be knocked down, fired and carted off by security.

Hopefully that's the last we've seen of the lame stunt casting of Ms. Lohan. Although how funny was the cameo by Ralph Macchio as Councilman Archie Rodriguez getting a haircut from Hilda? IMDB shows Macchio in at least one more upcoming episode, so we haven't seen the last of him yet!

The Office celebrated Halloween by everyone dressing up. Kelly as Carrie Bradshaw of Sex and the City, Ryan as Gordon Gekko ("Oh, from the insurance commercials!" says Kelly), Andy as a "kitten," and Creed, Kevin and Dwight as the Joker. In New York, Pam dresses up like Charlie Chaplin, but no-one else at corporate comes to work in costume. Pam moans, "I can't even take off my hat because then I'm Hitler."

As expected, Holly was transferred to Nashua, NH because of her relationship with Michael. Michael and Darryl drive her up to her new place, but during the trip Holly starts crying realizing that the distance is too great for her and Michael to continue their relationship. "Don't make it harder than it has to be," she tells Michael. "That's what she said," Michael mumbles.

Pam meets Jim's brothers who decide to prank Jim (or are they pranking Pam?) by ragging on her for studying art.

But the best story line was the Dwight-Andy match-up. Dwight arrives to the office wearing a Cornell sweatshirt. Andy, a Cornell graduate, is aghast. Dwight tells him that he's plannng to enroll--he doesn't figure it will be difficult to get in, seeing as Andy was accepted.

Andy retaliates by getting himself appointed as Dwight's interviewer. He asks Dwight for his role models: Dane Cooke, Jack Bauaer and Eli Whitney. (Dane Cooke? Seriously?) "Comprehension skills: sub-par," Andy jots down in his notes. "Interviewing skills: sub-par," Dwight counters in his notes. "Applicant has a head shaped like a trapezoid," says Andy raising the stakes.

To cap off the episode, Andy comes to work the following day dressed as a beet farmer. Ed Helms is so great. I'm really glad he made the transition from the Stanford branch.

Now that Holly's in Nashua, does this mean Toby will return to the office from Costa Rica?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Thrill the World - 2008

Fans of the Michael Jackson hit all over the world celebrated by re-enacting the video. This is the official Los Angeles version:

Pushing Daisies - Dim Sum, Lose Some

I now have a new favorite phrase compliments of last night's episode of Pushing Daisies: piss jitters. This was the term coined by Chuck (going under the alias of "Kitty Pimms" these days...) in response to Ned's query, "Do you ever shiver when you pee?"

Seems Ned got a case of the piss jitters due to the appearance of a mysterious stranger (Stephen Root) who seemed to know an awful lot about his past.

The stranger, Dwight Dixon, came to see Ned in order to track down Ned's Dad. This leads to Olive and Chuck obtaining Ned's estranged father's last-known address (from Ned's "clue pad") and deciding to check it out. What they find is that Ned has two twin half brothers (which, according to Chuck, is equal to one whole brother...) and that his father has also abandoned them--disappearing once again.

The Dim Sum storyline was clever enough. It was nice to see Mae Hi, who played Lai Di. I knew Mae from when we were both members of CineWomen--how cool is that?

I loved how they played poker using food. The only issue I had was the scene where the restaurant manager pushed the waitress to bring menus to the table that wasn't in her section. In my experience of going for Dim Sum, there were never any menus. I went with a Chinese friend and there were always about a dozen women pushing carts around. They'd stop and she'd converse with them in Chinese. They'd open up the pots and she'd review the contents and shake her head yes or no.

No menus. Not in a real Dim Sum restaurant.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Scary Movies for the Squeamish

It's Halloween and time for witches and ghosts and assorted creatures from the Underworld. It's also time for scary movies. I'm not one for slasher flicks or gross-out gore. We're up to Saw V now--how in the world did THAT happened? What is wrong with you people--weren't one through four enough for you?

Apparently not.

Well, I won't be watching Saw or any the many Halloweens or Nightmare on Elm Streets, but there are some good and scary movies without the gross-out gore. In the spirit of the season of ghoulies and ghosties and long-legged beasties, I've compiled a list of not-so-scary scary movies.

So if you're like me (and Esther!) and you're too squeamish for most horror flicks, here's a few of my favorites:

1. The Lost Boys - This Joel Schumacher flick is stylish and sexy and at times darkly humorous. You've got Jason Patric and Jamie Gertz (both of whom have never looked better!), Kiefer Sutherland, the two Coreys (Haim and Feldman), Dianne Wiest, Barnard Hughes and Edward Herrmann (In quite a different role than his stint as proper Grandpa Gilmore) in a film that gives a new twist on the teenage rebel without a cause theme and contains one of my favorite movie lines: "Death by stereo!"

2. The Sixth Sense - Creepy and atmospheric, M. Night Shyamalan may never be able to top his premiere effort, but who cares? When you've achieved perfection, what more is there to accomplish? Great performances by Bruce Willis, Toni Collette, Haley Joel Osment (who also may never top this effort) and Olivia Williams--not to mention a completely creepy Donnie Wahlberg--and the killer plot twist makes this completely enthralling viewing. Even when you already know ending, it's still engrossing.

3. The Others - A very underrated performance by Nicole Kidman is what gives this horror-thriller its kick. She was nominated for an Oscar for Moulin Rouge the same year, but she deserved it for this performance. No blood, no spatter--the spookiness is primarily in watching Kidman's character unravel.

4. Shaun of the Dead - If you're squeamish, then flesh-eating zombies are definitely not your thing. Unless they're offered up by Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright in a movie that is both homage and spoof of the genre. It's really too silly to be scary most of the time--although there is one squirm inducing moment. An early scene of Shaun riding a bus without fellow passengers who wear the vacant glazed stares of the undead--or perhaps they're just zoned out rat racers--is brilliant.

5. Poltergeist - Spielberg and Tobe Hooper create escalating tension as the Freeling family goes from being initially intrigued by the psychic phenomena in their new dwelling, to being beseiged by the spectres haunting their home. Maybe it's all just a diatribe on the time-wasting and soul-sucking attributes of TV, but the film certainly brought a new term to the real estate lemon: instead of buying swampland in Florida, it's now property built over an old Indian burial ground.

Caveat emptor indeed!

6. Interview with a Vampire - The creepiest thing about this film is the final scene with Tom Cruise's LeStat driving along in a red convertible. There's something about vampires--what with their predilection for biting the exposed and vulnerable necks of their victims. I dare you to watch this movie and not be compelled to wear a scarf to bed!

7. The Devil's Backbone - Guillermo Del Toro's ghost story is as unsettlingly creepy as it is visually arresting.

8. The Orphanage - Del Toro produced this horror/mystery/thriller about a grown-up orphan and the mysteries that lie within the walls of her childhood home.

9. Rosemary's Baby - This classic is more psychological thriller than outright horror. But you will definitely be shaken up by this story of the devil's spawn.

10. Stir of Echoes - One degree of Kevin Bacon, who does his usual competent work as a man obsessed--or perhaps "possessed"--with solving the mystery behind the visions he sees of a young girl's death.

So there you have it--a list of films to make you shudder and run a shiver up your spine. Feel free to post your own recommendations for some not-so-scary scary movies!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The 4400 - The Complete Series on DVD 10/28

I never caught this sci-fi series when it aired from 2004 to 2007, but now the complete series is available on DVD. 


All 43 episodes.

On fifteen discs! 

It's a bit daunting. But at the same time, I'm finding the series completely addictive.

It's sort of a combination of Heroes, The X Files and Invasion. Over a period of 60 years, people all over the world have gone missing. Then in July of 2004, they all return in a flash of light in a remote area of Seattle. All 4,400 of them.

As it turns out, they were not abducted by aliens, but by future humans who chose them to help save mankind--which is in danger of extinction in the future. When they are returned--months, years and sometimes decades after their abduction--they haven't aged a day, remember nothing and possess unusual new abilities. Clairvoyance, telekinesis, super strength--to name a few.

Sound familiar?

The series balances procedural drama with sci-fi thriller; episodic structure with serialized story lines; and a mystery that unravels over the course of the series along with personal stories and dramas of the characters we come to root for.

While The 4400 is fiction--science fiction--it also illuminates issues we face currently: homeland security and loss of civil rights, fear and hate crimes, ideological factions and persecution. It's entertaining and thought-provoking and, while I'm only about halfway through the second season, I'm totally invested in finding out what happens to these people and how the story turns out.

The DVD set contains bonus features including:
  • Video Introduction by Series Creator Scott Peters
  • Pilot Episode – Audio Commentary (by Scott Peters & Joel Gretch)
  • The Great Leap Forward – Audio Commentary (by Ira Baer & Craig Sweeny)
  • The 4400: The Ghost Season
  • Promicin: The Moral Choice
  • Deleted Scenes (with optional commentary) Seasons 2 & 3
If you're into sci-fi thrillers, I highly recommend checking out The 4400.  

Heroes - Eris Quod Sum

Veronica Mars fans can rejoice as it was the return of Kristin Bell on Heroes last night. Seems electric Elle is short-circuiting and so she shows up on Claire's doorstep for help. She's got a hell of a way of asking for assistance, however, and it takes a bucket of water poured over her by Claire's brother Lyle to get her under control.

Nice move, Lyle!

Claire and Elle decide the only way to take control of their morphing powers is to go to Pinehearst--proving the "dumb blonde" stereotype--and during the plane trip, they bond in a most unusual way. As Elle's electrical short-circuits threaten to crash the plane, Claire holds her hand and become a sort of lightning rod for Elle's overflow.

Just like I predicted, Sylar was dispatched by Mommie Dearest to rescue Peter. "Show them why you're my favorite. Make Mommy proud!" the comatose Angela tells Gabriel telepathically. At Pinehearst, Peter is being a typically rebellious child--refusing to help Daddy with his evil plan to rule the world. Arthur grounds Peter until he decides to behave.

The elder Petrelli also recruits Mohinder to help perfect the formula that will create abilities in the general population. Petrelli relieves Maya of her plague ability and she exits the show.

For good I hope!

Mohinder wants Arthur to relieve him of his new-found abilities. Well, actually he wants Arthur to relieve him of the side effects and leave his abilities intact. Mohinder wants to have his cake and eat it, too.

He's so annoying.

When Daphne shows up at Pinehearst sans Matt Parkman, Arthur orders her to go back and kill him. Matt's father Maury protests and Arthur kills him instantly. Nothing like a little motivation to get the employees in line. Daphne returns to Parkman's apartment--gun in hand. Matt tells her to shoot him if it means saving her life, but she can't go through with it. Knox shows up to finish them both off and leaves thinking he succeeded. But he's mistaken. "I got inside his head with my brain mojo thingy," Matt explains to Daphne.

That's the scientific term for it--"Brain Mojo Thingy."

Back at Pinehearst, Peter becomes Mohinder's first test subject. But Sylar shows up to save the day. Does anyone else remember when Sylar was the BAD guy? Damn, those writers are good! Peter escapes, but Mohinder's super powers kick in and he uses them to beat the $@#% out of Sylar. He is stopped by Arthur who tells him that Sylar is his son.

Father and son reunion, part two. Arthur puts Sylar into suspension and as he floats helplessly in the air, tells him that Angela was so freaked out by the future she saw for him that she tried to drown him in the bathtub when he was a baby.

Poor Sylar--no wonder he has issues!

But then Peter comes backs--this time to save Sylar ('cuz that's what brothers do--doncha know?) but Sylar refuses to leave with him. Now officially a "Daddy's Boy," Sylar catapults Peter out of a window where he lands at the feet of the incoming Claire and Elle. Claire decides that her half-brother being stripped of his powers and falling out the top of a tall building is a sign that she should not proceed with the Pinehearst plan, but Elle is only too happy at the prospect of having her powers stripped from her.

I guess we know which blonde is dumber now, don't we?

Back at Mohinder's lair, Tracy and Nathan wait for help to arrive. Tracy is worried about the coccoons on the wall. One grabs her, but Noah Bennet shows up with Meredith and his stun gun just in time. Nathan receives a call from Claire who has gotten Peter to safety.

Peter is convinced that Sylar actually saved his life because there is no way he should have survived that fall. Arthur is suspicious about that outcome as well. Looks like Sylar's got something up his sleeve. Hopefully he'll be able to thwart Arthur before Nathan shows up. Flying Man tells Tracy, "I don't need doors open. I plan on kickin' 'em down."

Okay, out of the brothers Petrelli, we all know the only BADASS is Sylar. He's the only one equipped to take on Arthur. Or maybe they'll all join forces like the Three Musketeers to take Daddy down and live happily ever after with their Oedipal complexes.

But I digress...

Finally the episode ends with Hiro and Ando and the tribal guy who feeds them the disgusting hallucinogenic mixture made from hyena dung. Hiro says, "Spirit walks sounds much safer than time travel," but I bet he has second thoughts after hearing what he has to eat to get to that state.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Mental Floss History of the World

History never was my favorite subject. All those battles, dates, monarchs. Who can keep track?

My eight grade history teacher, Mr. Merich, used to have a way to keep us awake. He'd pace the room droning on about the Louisiana Purchase or something and then raising his voice several decibels would query, "Isn't that right, Stella?"

Fortunately, even if I wasn't interested, I was awake.

The guys over at Mental Floss have found a way to put the story in history but making the subject that used to make us snooze in school INTERESTING.

How about that?

The book covers about 60,000 years of history in less than 400 pages. According to co-writer Erik Sass:

"A natural question about any single-volume of history of the world should be: "Is everything here?" The straight answer is: no. Not that we didn't try. Sadl, HarperCollins rejected our original 500 million-page manuscript as "overenthusiastic" and "hard on the back." (Whether it would have been marketable as the first book visible from space is still up for debate.) And while this version does omit a few details, we think did alright."
That's the sort of wit and irreverence evident throughout the book. I've only made it through the first chapter so far, but I'm looking forward to zipping through the next couple thousand years.

The book is divided into twelve chapters:
  1. Africa and After (60,000 BCE-1500 BCE)
  2. Chaos and Control (1500 BCE-500 BCE)
  3. Athens, Alexander and All That ( 500 BCE-0 BCE)
  4. There's No Place Like Rome (Except China, Persia, India, Mexico, and Peru) (1 CE-500 CE)
  5. The Not-Really-That-Dark (Unless You Lived in Europe) Ages (500-1000 CE)
  6. The Fair-to-Middlin' Ages (Even If You Lived in Europe) (1000-1300 CE)
  7. Renaissance, Anyone? (And How About Genocide and Slavery?) (1300-1575 CE)
  8. War and Slavery (And, Uh, Enlightenment) (1575-1750)
  9. The Age of Liberation, Fragmentation, Stagnation and Plain Ol' Nations (1750-1900)
  10. The Empire Strikes Out (1900-1930)
  11. To the Brink of the Abyss (1931-1962)
  12. One World (1962-2007)
Appendix - Oh yea, Canada
Sass, along with co-author Steve Wiegand, promises action, sex and violence, psychopathic mass murders and orgies. What more could you ask for?

Like they say, truth is stranger than fiction. And history is apparently a lot more interesting than the stuff they make up in the movies. The Mental Floss History of the World: An Irreverent Romp Through Civilization’s Best Bits arrives on shelves October 28, 2008.

Now I've got to get going on chapters two through twelve. I am so gonna kick ass next time I watch Jeopardy!

Desperate Housewives - An Evening of Surprises

Last night's episode of Desperate Housewives was one of the most eagerly anticipated of the season (at least by moi!), but all-in-all the recap of what happened to the desperate divas in the five year gap between last season and this one was,in a word, anticlimactic.

I appreciated the clever way the story was structured with each flashback occurring as each woman was preparing for McCluskey's surprise 70th birthday party. For Gabby, it was lipstick. Susan was doing her eyebrows. Lynette working on her hair and Bree applying eyeliner.

Unfortunately that was the limit of cleverness in a fairly lackluster episode. We learned that Gabby surprisingly got pregnant and popped out two little girls--one after the other. Well, duh!

We also learned that Carlos was supposed to have gotten a vasectomy--which he didn't. Initially, this leads to a huge blow-out between the Solis' but eventually Gabby concedes to the possibility of maybe trying to have son in the future.

The evening is full of blow-ups. Lynette freaks at Tom's plan to sell the restaurant and take the family to travel the country in an RV. The missing piece in the Scavo's past was Tom being accidentally electrocuted and almost dying. His resuscitation gave him a new outlook--he wants his life to count for something more than an obituary that reads "Local Pizzamaker dies."

I can't help but empathize with Tom. Unfortunately Lynette continues her massive kill-joy streak. Teri Hatcher must love the writers this season. They've succeeded in making Lynette far more annoying than Susan ever was.

Speaking of Susan, she and Jackson also had a major fight. Jackson has fallen in love with the ditsy Susan and wants to take their relationship to the next level--by moving in with her. Susan's flashback consists of her first meeting with Jackson and her divorce from Mike (double DUH!). After Susan balks at the idea making their relationship more than "casual," Jackson walks out.

With Bree we get a bit more info: after Orson is incarcerated and Danielle takes Benjamin, she returns to drinking. It's Katherine who comes in and kicks her ass (figuratively) and moves in with her to support her through her ordeal. Once Orson understands why Bree feels such loyalty to Katherine, he backs down from his threat of divorce and makes amends with Katherine. It's nice to see Dana Delaney getting a bit more juice on the show--hope it continues.

The only real intrigue during the episode was Dave's attempt to get rid of McCluskey. While Edie takes her out for a birthday drink before the surprise party, he breaks into her house and moves some things around and leaves a bat on her sofa. McCluskey is incensed at the violation and almost attacks him with the bat at the party--just as Dave had planned. Her wild rants about Dave moving stuff around and taking and returning her cat lead her neighbors to call 911 and have her hospitalized.

Before the ambulance takes her away, McCluskey tells Dave she knows he's up to something awful. "You don't know what "awful" is," he tells her.

So now Dave is free to pursue his revenge on the man who ruined his life. Last week we found out the number one suspect for Dave's nefarious plan is none other than Mike Delfino.

Better watch your back Delfino!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

RocknRolla

It looks like Guy Ritchie is not only back on the market, what with his impending divorce from Madonna, but back to form with his latest directorial effort, RockNRolla.

In the style of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, RockNRolla is an ode to guns, gangsters and rock 'n roll. Filled with all sorts of sketchy characters with names like "One Two," "Mumbles," "Cookie," "Fred the Head," and "Johnny Quid," the film takes us to a world of dirty dealing, double-crossing and the knock-down, drag out.

Although Gerard Butler gets top billing as rough and tumble tough guy "One Two," but Tom Wilkinson--who can do no wrong in my opinion--nearly walks away with the whole movie playing mob boss Lenny Cole.

The story is narrated by the character of Archie (Mark Strong--most recently seen as Nick in Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day), Lenny's right hand man, who starts us off by telling us:

"People ask the question... what's a RocknRolla? And I tell 'em - it's not about drugs, drums, and hospital drips, oh no. There's more there than that, my friend. We all like a bit of the good life - some the money, some the drugs, other the sex game, the glamour, or the fame. But a RocknRolla, oh, he's different. Why? Because a real RocknRolla wants the fucking lot. "
The eponymous RockNRolla of this tale is one Johnny Quid, Lenny's erstwhile stepson and drug addict rocker who fakes his own death to increase his album sales. Played with mesmerizing charisma by Toby Kebbell--who was outstanding as "Rob Gretton" in Control--Johnny Quid is one part Johnny Rotten and one part Jonathan Rhys Meyers. In a movie filled with tough guys, he's the baddest ass of them all.

The film also features performances by a cool customer named Stella (but of course!) played to icy perfection by Thandie Newton as well as cameos by Jeremy Piven and Chris Bridges (aka Ludacris) who play Johnny Quid's American managers. Despite their standout performances in Entourage and Crash, the pair barely register in this colorful cast of characters. I'm not sure why Ritchie felt the need to import a pair of Americans into this story. Although the theme of immigration plays a part in the narrative, Piven and Bridges seem wholly out of place.

If you liked Ritchie's other offerings, RocknNRolla is more of the same. Complicated, witty and highly stylized, but all -in-all a raucous romp in the seamy underworld.

I loved it.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Masks You Can Wear All Year Round

It's Halloween in less than a week and that means tricks, treats, candy, costumes and masks. If your skin has been looking a little iffy, then you might be wishing it was Halloween all year long. But there are some masks you can wear to improve your skin--rather than hide it.

Zia Natural Skincare makes a bunch of different masks featuring yummy natural ingredients such as pumpkin, apple and papaya. I had a chance to check out three of their almost edible concoctions and I'm happy to report I won't be needing to hide behind a mask this Halloween--at least longer than the twenty minutes or so it takes Zia's masks to do their job!

The Apple Refining Mask contains organic apple juice, plantain and firming pectin to clarify sun-damaged, lined or clogged skin. It helps eliminate toxins and impurities while minimizing the appearance of pores. The fruit acids, borage and green tea improve skin texture, lines and discoloration while triggering new cell production.

This is a very gentle way to exfoliate skin and make it look brighter and more even-toned. I love the smell--it makes me think of apples and cider and fall foliage. Aaahhh!

The Fresh Papaya Enzyme Mask contains nutrient-rich certified organic Papaya to gently remove excess dead surface cells, eliminate dry, flaky spots and pore blockage. This enzyme-based mask is even gentler than acid-based exfoliants. Antioxidants and hydrating certified organic honey, help nourish and repair for the softest, silkiest skin possible while vitamins C & E aid skin repair and minimize surface damage.

Although this comes out of the tube a greenish color, it disappears into your skin when you apply it. So you can answer the door while you're wearing it without scaring off trick-or-treaters!

If you need more intensive treatment, the Citrus Night Time Reversal provides overnight repair for dry or aging skin. Four different acids from red wine (tartaric), buttermilk (lactic), sugar cane (glycolic), whole citrus (citric) work to clear pores and signs of aging by promoting new cell production while helping minimize lines, sun spots and enlarged pores.

This is a great way to wake up with refreshed skin as well as a refreshed body!

The Zia Natural Skincare line has six other great masks, including the seasonally appropriate Pumpkin Exfoliating Mask, and you will never find harsh chemicals, artificial colors, or artificial fragrances in their products.

No scary ingredients, no scary skin! Zia's masks make your skin look so good that you won't need to hide it behind a Halloween mask.

Thoughts from James the Philosopher

My brother never ceases to make me laugh. His thoughts on getting older:

"I'm not getting any smarter, but I am getting less stupid."

Friday, October 24, 2008

Ugly Betty/The Office - Granny Pants and Crime Aid

The claws have come out on Ugly Betty and surprisingly it's not between Daniel and Wilhelmina who are sharing control of Mode magazine. Well, not exactly "sharing"--it's more of a power struggle in the "I know you are, but what am I?" sense of the word.

Was anyone surprised that Willie was Daniel's blind date? Yeah, me neither. Still, they did manage to work together to get off the dreadful date cruise. "You can't set the boat on fire. Exposives work better." I loved the hairspray blowtorch that Willie used to set off the fire alarm. I've always wanted to use that in a script...

The real fireworks were between Betty and her former nemesis, Kimmie Keegan. When Kimmie lands a temp gig at Mode, Betty is prepared to let her twist in the wind as a result of how horribly Kimmie treated her in high school. But Ignacio convinces her to be the bigger person and so Betty helps Kimmie by training her in the art of ARG: Anticipation, Research and Gumption.

But the student soon becomes the teacher with Kimmie excelling under Betty's tutelage that she helps get Mode featured on Page Six and lands herself an assistant editor position. With her confidence back in place, Kimmie become the same evil conniving bitch that mistreated Betty in high school. And so Betty's former nemesis becomes her current nemesis. As Christina says to Betty: "You may have graduated but high school never ends..."

Sigh. Amen to that!

But Betty's torment won't last for long--according to rumors (coincidentally or not, from Page Six), Lohan's stint on the show has been reduced from six episodes to four.

(La Lohan is looking a bit ragged. Although she's two years younger than America Ferrara, her skin has so much sun damage that she looks ten years older. Although the discoloration of Lohan's skin did distract me from the horrible swoopy bang thing that was going on with Vanessa Williams hair...)

From next week's previews it looks like Kimmie's reign as Mode It Girl is going to be short-lived. It's bad enough to have Marc and Amanda gunning for you, but cross Wilhelmina and you've just about written your own epitaph...

(I have my closed captioning turned on for my TV, and when the theme song for The Office starts it states [cheerful music]. I love that!)

Okay, we all love Jim and Pam--but I have to say that Michael and Holly are certainly giving them a run for their money in the cutest couple category. Gearing up for date number three, Michael wonders if--as per "tradition"--this will be the date where they consummate their relationship. He's not sure Holly is on the same "schedule" and muses, "If she starts having sex with me, I'll know for sure..."

Not content to let nature take its course, Michael in all his Michael-nes comes right out and asks if they will be having sex after their date. "Hell yeah," says the unperturbed Holly.

God, they are so perfect for each other...

Meanwhile, another relationship is on the rocks. Dwight is chafing at the thought of Angela's marriage to Andy. Phyllis offers a shoulder to cry on. Dwight tells her that Angela "introduced me to so many things. Pasteurized milk, sheets, monotheism...presents on your birthday, preventative medicine." He asks Phyllis how Angela could marry Andy. Phyllis replies, "Angela's not much of a risk taker. And Andy's not much of a risk." Phyllis advises Dwight to give Angela an ultimatum. And if she chooses to stay with Andy, then Dwight should move on. Dwight tells Angela she has until 6:14 pm to make up her mind.

Holly and Michael end up having sex in the office after hours--but that may have left the building open for thieves to rob the office. Oscar complains that his laptop is missing and Kevin whines about his stolen surge protector. Oscar asks how that compares to his stolen laptop and Kevin says, "I'm now going to be prone to surges!" Angela is creeped out by the robbery, but Andy assures her, "You're always safe with me. I'm a very good screamer."

Michael comes up with the brilliant idea to have a charity auction to raise money to replace the items that were stolen. "Crime Aid." The big ticket item: Two Bruce Springsteen tickets. "The boss scored The Boss," says Holly. Michael opens up the auction with Huey Lewis and the News and "The Heart of Rock 'n Roll." Darryl, who was enlisted to pull together Michael's ten favorite Springsteen tunes, says the list consisted of three songs by Huey Lewis and the News, Tracy Chapman's "Fast Car," and the song "Short People."

The gavel Michael uses for the auction is a rubber toy. "It squeaks when you bang it. That's what she said!" Michael riffs. As it turns out, the Springsteen tickets were "stolen" (i.e.; they never existed), but the big ticket item turns out to be a hug from Phyllis. Dwight gets into a bidding war with Phyllis' husband Bob Vance, raising the bid by a penny each time. Bob buys a hug from his wife for $1,000.

After the auction, David Wallace from Corporate--who donated a weekend at his place on Martha's Vineyard for the cause, catches a glimpse of Holly and Michael kissing. Sigh. Looks like Holly's departure from the show is imminent...I wonder if that means Toby will be back soon?

As for Jim and Pam, a random encounter with Pam's ex, Roy, leaves Jim a bit unsettled--and he almost drives to the city to ease his anxiety. But right before the exit, he turns around--'cuz he's not that guy.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Seven Facts Followup

My brother's comment on my seven facts post stirred my sister's memory of my very first car accident (Not that I have had MANY after that!)

The accident caused like $2,000 worth of damage--a fact that will be forever ingrained into my head by my parents (It actually increases over the years due to some weird parental inflation. I believe it might be up to $12,000 worth of damage now...). My mother tried to prepare my father to mitigate the inevitable screamfest. She told him that I had broken my leg in the accident (in reality there were NO injuries--I don't think I was even going more than 5 miles an hour...) in order to give him some perspective.

My dad can be volatile to say the least, so I was girding myself for the upcoming drama. In the spirit of "the best defense is a good offense," I planned to point out the fact that neither parent had spent quality time with me letting me practice driving. I was all ready to weather the storm of my father's wrath.

When he got home, he sat next down next to me and said, "I heard you had a bad day."

I burst into tears.

According to my sister,

[T]he whole incident proved to be a rare good moment for dad. I remember when dad got home Jamie and I were hiding at the top of the stairs halfway terrified that he would beat you to death for damaging the car!!!! When he came in and said, “I heard you had a bad day," James and I looked at each other with shock and utter disbelief. You weren’t going to die!! I think I cried actual tears of relief.
Yeah, I never thought he was going to beat me for damaging the car. Give me a good tongue-lashing maybe, and never let me forget it. I was spared the former, although not the latter.

Pushing Daisies - Frescort

If you were wondering where Monica from Heroes ended up, the answer is working as a perky frescort (friend+escort=friend for hire) at My Best Friend, Inc. Yup, that was Dana Davis as Barb who met an unusual end being hugged to death on last night's episode of Pushing Daisies. Dana wasn't the only Heroes connection on the show last night: Hayes MacArthur who played the psychopathic Buddy is engaged to Ali Larter in real life.

David Arquette also made a guest appearance as a twisted, socially inept taxidermist. His character of Randy Mann had more than a little bit in common with the Piemaker as someone who reanimates the dead. Turns out his character also had something in common with Buddy, who kept the mummified remains of a former high school classmate in his office.

Pigby and Digby got along like two peas in a pod, and at first Chuck and Olive seemed to be getting along swimmingly as roommates as well--but when push came to shove (as in shoved in a locker together), things got "too close for comfort" truthful. Another relationship reassessment between Emerson Cod (Emmy?) and his chain-smoking, tough talking mom Calista also occurred in last night's episode.

It looked like Chuck was set to move back in with Ned, her king-sized duvet of goose-down goodness (Is that the most excellent and most accurate description of Lee Pace or what?), but Ned convinced her to make amends with Olive because she wasn't the only one who needed to experience life on her own.

My favorite scenes in the show were the machine-gun interrogation of potential suspect by the Cod mother/son duo, Randy Mann's taxidermy circus and Olive and Chuck's training classes for their cover as future frescorts. Mixed CDs anyone?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Crunching Through the Keywords

Given the dearth of time available to me these days, I thought I'd just roll through some of the random searches that end up on my blog. It's the part that Elisabeth likes best anyway...

Prurient Fantasies

In addition to the ubiquitous "Tom Bergeron shirtless" (waving back at Elisabeth!), we've got "nude dudes cleaning" (sounds like a great idea and name for a business...), "Donnie Wahlberg naked" (and you thought it was Marky Mark that got all the love!) and probably even more ludicrous than "Mark Cuban shirtless" is "Eddie Steeples (aka Darnell "Crabman" Turner) shirtless."

Tattoo Trends

Sexy tramp tats
Perseverance tattoo (Does a Capricorn glyph count?)
Prison tattoos meaning done time stars
Filipino tattoos, filipina actress tattoos, filipina sun tattoos
Tattoos from Indiana
Sea turtle tattoos
Scooby Doo tattoos (Other than the assonance, I can't imagine this being cool...)
Thyroid cancer survivor tattoos
Disapline [sic] tattoo, praying hands tattoos and Jesus loves me and my tattoos

Research Questions

The Tudors why are they so well known?

Ever heard of King Henry the VIII? The six wives of King Henry the VIII? His progeny Queen Elizabeth I?

Very famous members of the House of Tudor...

At what age does the average Panamanian girl marry?

If you Google "average marriage age panama," this site comes up as the second result. And the answer is 21.9 years.

What is wrong with me insatiable hunger, light-headed, fuzzy thinking?

I hope you're seeing a doctor and not trusting Google for your diagnosis. Could be hypoglycemia, diabetes, hyperthyroid to name a few.

Blouse worn by Teri Hatcher on first episode of Desperate Housewives with letters on it she is in a scene with Jackson the painter.

Hmm...Could you be more specific?

Really Random

Burning Barbie's hair
catch your eye eye opener widget consumer crux
carole raphaelle shrimp on the barbie striping
submarine poughkeepsie
voice operated typewriter
details of Tony Maroni's pizza Chapter 11
weight of average cell phone, above average words, average poems, name for an above average person

Well, I don't know about a name for an above average person, but Stella works if you're WELL above average!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Kiss of the Spider Woman - On DVD 10/21

When you think about the genesis of the independent film, you may think of Pulp Fiction or The Crying Game, but the first breakthrough indie film was actually Kiss of the Spider Woman which garnered four major Oscar nominations and earned William Hurt the Best Actor Academy Award.

Based on a novel by Manuel Puig, the story of two polar opposite prisoners--one a hopelessly romantic homosexual named Luis Molina (Hurt), the other a fiercely passionate political prisoner named Valentin Arregui (Raul Julia)--who transcend their imprisonment via the power of story and form bonds that transcend their differences spawned a play, a film and a Broadway musical.

In the film, the luminous Sonia Braga plays three very different women in the film--a forties film icon adored by Luis, Valentin's bourgeoisie girl friend and the eponymous Spider Woman--each representing a facet of the feminine. As forties film icon Leni Lamaison, Braga portrays the role of a French chanteuse turned reluctant French resistance fighter in the film within the film which becomes Luis' method of coping with his imprisonment. Leni's story also parallels Luis' journey of deception, betrayal, heroism and redemption.

In addition to the feature film, the DVD special features include:

* Trivia Track in English and Spanish
* Feature Length Documentary: “Tangled Web: Making Kiss of the Spider Woman”
* Manuel Puig Mini-Documentary: The Submissive Woman’s Role
* Spider Woman on Broadway: Mini-Documentary with Hal Prince, John Kander, Fred Ebb, Chita Rivera, Terrence McNally, Manuel Puig
* Slide Show Commentary: Transition from Novel to Film
* Photo Galleries: Over 150 Exquisite Images

Heroes - Dying of the Light

Does customs allow you to import turtles from Africa? I don't think so--even if they are your totem animal. Of course Parkman could have performed his mind control techniques to get the customs agent to let him pass through. And who was there waiting for him but the very person he was seeking--future wife Daphne, the speedster.

Parkman takes this as a sign not realizing that Daphne's only intent is to recruit him for the PineHurst operation. The logo on the business card is the same symbol we saw last season. Looks kinda like DNA, huh? Considering they're in the business of creating abilities--like in Nathan and Tracy--it's probable that's what the symbol represents.

Speaking of Nathan and Tracy, they show up at Suresh's for help not realizing that he's not operating under an altruistic agenda. Nice move by Tracy getting Mohinder to drop his defenses long enough to freeze him a bit. Using the same frostbite technique she breaks free of her restraints and helps release Nathan. But Mohinder has gone Incredible Hulk on the pair--and we know what happens when he gets very angry...

Not surprisingly we find out that Hiro did NOT kill Ando. He used his teleportation ability to go back to the past to warn Ando to play dead when he faked stabbing him. Hiro is sent on a mission to fetch the precog painter. Daphne warns him, "It's not easy catching a precog...they see you coming."

That turns out to be the case as Hiro finds the camp of the "Mr. African Isaac" and views a painting showing him being hit over the head with a shovel and ends up being hit over the head with a shovel by the precog painter. He goes back in time to before he was hit in the head and gets hit in the head again. Finally he eschews his powers for just sneaking up on the tribal guy who for some inexplicable reason is wearing a Universal Studios t-shirt. (Not so inexplicable actually, since NBC/Universal is the home of Heroes...)

Meanwhile, Claire, her bio Mom and her adoptive Mom have been captured by Puppet Master Eric Doyle who engages them in a twisted game of Spin the Pistol Russian Roulette. Claire's adoptive Mom ends up shooting Claire (no biggie since Claire can't die) and this allows Claire to catch the Puppet Master off guard and take him down.

Peter and Sylar engage in a bit of sibling rivalry. After Sylar releases Peter so that they can save "their" mom Angela, Peter kicks the $@#% out of him and goes off to find out what PineHurst is all about. Before he arrives, Adam Monroe is brought to the bedside of Arthur Petrelli. Apparently Daddy Petrelli has the same ability as sons Peter and Sylar: the ability to absorb the powers of others. But Sylar is more of a chip off the old block than Peter because Arthur's absorption abilities leave his victims without their powers at best--or in the case of Adam Monroe--dead.

So when Peter arrives for the unplanned family reunion and Daddy Dearest asks for a hug, the paternal embrace leaves Peter powerless--and Arthur the beneficiary of all of Peter's abilities.

Who wants to bet that it's Sylar that ends up rescuing his brother?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Seven Facts

I've been tagged by Esther to come up with seven factoids about myself. I've been tagged before and I've already revealed a total of 16 random facts about myself.

Not counting the 50 Things that Make me Happy.

Seven, huh? Here it goes:

1. I have an unreasonable phobia of spiders. I can't even bear to look up words beginning with "tar" in the dictionary because for some sadistic reason all dictionaries seem to include an illustration of a "tarantula." Big, furry spiders that can do a vertical leap? For creating them, I think God is one sick bastard...

2. I was once pulled over by a cop while walking down a sidewalk. It happened in the Georgetown section of D.C. I thought maybe I wasn't dressed properly for walking in the high-class, high rent neighborhood. The female D.C. cop asked for my driver's license (Since when do you need a license for WALKING?!!! Fortunately, I had it with me.) She looked it over and handed it back to me explaining that I fit the description of a missing person.

If I were missing, wouldn't I know it?

3. I consider just about anything under 5 miles "walking distance" and walk almost everywhere. My new job is only about a mile away so right now I'm only driving my car once a week when I go grocery shopping. Take that global warming!

4. Speaking of driving, I didn't get my driver's license until I was 21. My sister, who is two years younger than I am, ended up teaching me how to drive after an accident I had when I was 17 when I was first learning made me skittish about being behind the wheel.

5. Speaking of my new job, it's the first full-time 40/hr per week gig in over eight years.

Sigh. I miss the freedom of part-time, although not the financial instability...

6. I don't drink coffee, beer or milk.

7. I'm a pantheist. I live by the credo I once saw on a bumper sticker, "My God is too big for one religion."

If you want to play along, post 7 facts about yourself in the comments--or a link to your post on your blog.

Desperate Housewives - Back in Business

Last night's episode was more of the same on Desperate Housewives although the Bree/Orson storyline moved a bit and we found out who Dave Williams' target is.

Mike Delfino.

Okay, it's possible that Susan Mayer is the REAL target and Dave is using Mike to get to her--but given Mike's shady past and all the effort Dave has put in to getting close to him, it's the more likely possibility.

First, Dave brushes off the Hendrix wannabe accountant guitarist, then he purposely takes a bat to a pipe in order to hire Mike's plumbing services. When Mike turns down his offer to join the garage band, Dave suggests he move closer to cut the commute. Mike can't afford rents in Wisteria Lane, so Dave buys a house and offers cheap rent to Mike--without Mike realizing that Dave is the landlord. Mike was all too happy to move back to Wisteria Lane since his distance from M.J. had him playing second fiddle to Jackson in his son's life.

Whatever the grudge is that Dave holds against Mike, it seems like it's a doozy since even the mention of plumbing set Dave's hands to shaking and caused him to pop some pills to control his anger.

Bree's book launch gets underway and she is awarded Business Woman of the Year by the Chamber of Commerce. This makes Lynette jealous and she reacts by trying to redo Bree's marketing campaign. Lynette's not the only one feeling slighted by Bree's success--Orson is pouting as well. It doesn't help that he's unemployed. His last employer found out that he was a convicted felon and lied about the fact on his application and fired him.

Now, if I remember correctly, Orson was a dentist. Does one lose their license to practice dentistry after serving time for a felony? And what exactly is a dentist qualified to do in the business world?

Poor Orson. He suggests a partnership with Bree--much to Katherine's chagrin--but is even rejected by his own wife. Bree relents and offers an olive branch in the form of a chef's hat. I doubt Katherine will be thrilled about that.

As for Gabby, she's trying to set up playdates for Juanita so that she and Carlos can have some alone time for sex. Juanita catches the two in the act and worries that Carlos was hurting Gabby with their "wrestling." Gabby assures her otherwise saying, "Sometimes I fake it when I wrestle with Daddy." Carlos and Gabby decide that the only way to deal with the situation is to tell Juanita the facts of life. Which backfires when Juanita repeats what she's learned to all her little friends.

A four and a half year old being told about sex complete with clinical terminology? Right. Juanita is muy annoying. And we're supposed to believe that she's four and a half? No way.

I've been wondered what had happened in the five years between the end of last season and the beginning of this season. Looks like we're going to find out next week! Not so coincidentally, the five year recap is episode five of season five.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

W.

I'd heard reviews of this movie state that Josh Brolin's portrayal of George W. Bush is spot on and I'm here to tell you that if you close your eyes, you can barely tell the difference between the actor and the real thing. I know because I spent a good amount of time with my eyes closed during W.

'CUZ I KEPT FALLING ASLEEP!

Maybe if you're a political junkie, if you're riveted by C-Span, if you are transfixed by the State of the Union address, if--unlike me--you watched every single one of the recent debates instead of waiting for the SNL recap, you might find this movie fascinating.

I found it as intriguing as watching the stocks ticker running along the bottom of the TV screen or a PBS pledge drive break.

Oliver Stone has directed a lot of compelling and controversial films. Whether or not you think he's a crackpot conspiracy theorist nut job or not--you have to admit he presented an intriguingly coherent case in J.F.K. and his portrayal of a society gone celebrity mad teeters on the brink of brilliance in Natural Born Killers.

But this film doesn't push the envelope like his others. In fact, it teeters on the brink of boring. In an interview, Stone said "we tried not to cross the line of truth," but in adhering so doggedly to the facts, the film loses an opportunity to create a compelling narrative.

W. presents vignettes illustrating Bush's trajectory from partying frat boy to itinerant job-hopper and perennial paternal disappointment to President of the United States. The problem is, while these pieces of Bush's life are presented with dramatic verisimilitude, they don't add up to a coherent larger picture. While they succeed in illuminating the inexplicable evidence of the axiom, "Anyone can grow up to be President," they don't quite succeed in providing insight into what drove a mediocre good ol' boy to achieve the U.S. Presidency.

The film postulates that Bush Jr. was driven by a need for approval from Bush Sr., the inner workings of his mind and his unshakeable belief in the rightness of his positions loses out in the back and forth chronology between Bush's past and the launching of the Iraq war. Had Stone focused his attention on either the events leading up to the war or the events that shaped Bush's personality, it would have been a stronger film.

There are some excellent performances in the film--along with Josh Brolin, James Cromwell delivers as the austerely patrician George H. W. Bush, Elizabeth Banks never looked better going brunette to play wife Laura, Richard Dreyfuss is a positively Machiavellian Dick Cheney and Toby Jones nails the weaselly Karl Rove. The star-studded cast also features Noah Wyle, Stacy Keach and ubiquitous character actor Bruce McGill.

I wish Stone had delivered his usual pushing the boundaries type film. W. might have worked as satire, as twisted black comedy, as a political psycho-drama. But in choosing not to cross the line and play it safe, Stone sacrifices evocative and provocative for a dull docudrama.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Blogging Goddesses

I'll be posting something about catching up (or clearing out or killing time--you get the idea...) with the keywords soon, but in the meantime I've been catching up with my some of my favorite blogging buddies:

Jennifer has posted about her trip to Vegas and lusting after Louboutins.

I expect to see you wearing those shoes, Dellapina, the next time I see you!

Stevie has been insanely busy covering L.A. Fashion Week and posting about which mascaras are the best, courtesy of [my] Style Files.

Okay--so which mascara is the all-time BEST?

As usual, Tami makes me salivate over Coco-Luxe Caramels and Kika's Treats.

Geez, woman--how is it that you stay so tiny?!!!

Linz does some Weekend DVD reviews of her recent watches: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Charlie Wilson's War and The Darjeeling Limited.

Yo, Linz--we have such similar taste in movies!

Rae has some Friday Fun with Google Ex Smackdown.

Hmm..haven't been googling my exes--but I've noticed lately they've been googling ME!

Hollie is justifiably glowing after persevering through the NOs and finally getting a "YES"!

You go, girl!

Esther blogs about Hallmark's newest greeting card additions--celebrating same-sex wedding or commitment ceremonies.

Over 20,000 different cards? There really IS a card for every occasion!

Megan posts about having a blast at BlogHer Boston '08.

Sigh. Sounds like fun...I'm so envious!

And Elisabeth has been very quiet lately.

I miss the limericks and the pictures of doors! Come back soon!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Jason Natural Products

With my new job, my schedule has completely changed. Instead of a morning shower (okay, AFTERNOON shower!), I've been waiting until after my evening workouts. But while my workout might rev me up, I've found a little aromatherapy in the shower helps calm me down right before bedtime.

I've been using Jason Natural Satin Shower Body Wash in Lavender. It contains no lauryl or laureth sulfates and plenty of rich natural oils of Avocado, Apricot and Vitamin E. Soothing chamomile and lavender are known for being aids in sleep and relaxation. It does help me crash after a hard day's work--and workout!

But if aromatherapy is not your thing, Jason also has a line of completely Fragrance-free products. Either way, Jason Natural provides effective, environmentally-friendly alternatives to mass-produced, synthetic chemical products.

Ugly Betty/The Office -Betty Suarez Land and Baby Showers

Ah! The return of Freddy Rodriguez to Ugly Betty...Could Gio end up giving Jesse a run for his money in the weeks to come? Hmm--I don't think Gio's up for another love triangle. Actually, at the beginning of the episode Gio wasn't up for any kind of geometric figure when it came to Betty Suarez--he banned her from his deli and his life.

But by the end of the show, Betty had regained Gio's friendship via an abject apology, an adventure at Coney Island and some rare cheese that Gio calls "heaven from a cow." Amanda even offers to trade her (PRODUCT PLACEMENT!!!) Healthy Choice Cafe Steamers for the scarmoza donato.

In addition to trying to get back into Gio's good graces, Betty spends the episode trying to help Daniel keep D.J. out of the hands of his grandparents. Alexis reveals that she's D.J.'s father to Daniel but in relinquishing her parental rights, she opens the door for D.J.'s parents to take custody. Daniel tries to hide D.J., but Betty helps him realize that it's foolhardy to prevent the grandparents who love D.J. and who are nice people from having custody of their daughter's son.

So we had a touching emotional moment between D.J. and Daniel and later between Daniel and Alexis. After Claire cuts a deal with Wilhelmina, Alexis is released from prison and decides to take some time off in Provence. Of course we all know the real reason is that Rebecca Romijn is about to give birth to quintuplets. Actually, I think it's twins--but seriously the girl is as big as a house!

The deal that Willie agrees to gives her a 50% share of Meade Publications, with Daniel getting the other 50%. Co-owners, co-editors--it's a recipe for continued conflict. What would the show be without it? Hopefully Wilhelmina's coup with give her enough money to afford something better than the hideous outfit she was wearing tonight. Willie in purple and green? La Slater doing matchy-matchy with her obsequious assistant? I think the wardrobe stylist was smoking crack for this week's episode...

In addition to Julian De La Celle and Rebecca Romijn's exit from the show tonight, this may be the last we see of Eddie Cibrian as Hilda decided to call it quits with Coach Diaz after his distraught wife pleads with her to ask Betty to back off. She assumed that Betty was the other woman when she saw her husband exiting Betty's apartment after a tryst with Hilda. Hilda decided she didn't want to be the reason for their marriage breaking up.

But with the departure of those three cast members (and who knows how much we'll see of Freddy Rodriguez), we've got the return of Lindsay Lohan.

I don't know if I can stand it...

The Office opened with a hilarious sequence of Michael preparing for the birth of Jan's baby by practicing using Dwight and a watermelon.

Dwight: Babies are one of my many areas of expertise. Growing up I performed my own circumcision.

In addition, the office preps for Michael's (uh, I mean Jan's) baby shower. Michael confides to Holly that "to pay respect to her [Jan's] bloated feelings," he will be acting coldly toward her.

(Okay, I like to pride myself on knowing my actors but it completely escaped me until last night that the fabulously geeky Holly Flax was played by Oscar nominated Amy Ryan who was so amazing in Gone Baby Gone. Just goes to show what a chameleon she is. Give the girl an Emmy!)

Then Jan (in the form of the marvelous Melora Hardin) arrives--along with the newborn Astrid. Michael is more than a little put out that she went and had the baby without him and while Jan crashes, hands off the baby to Phyllis. By the time Jan wakes up, Angela and Andy are using Astrid to make their own Anne Geddes portrait.

Too funny...

Michael seeks out Darryl to figure out why he isn't bonding with the baby. Because it's not your baby, Darryl tells him.

Dwight performs crash tests on Jan's $1,200 stroller.

Jan asks Michael not to date Holly. Michael agrees and then walks back into the office and goes straight to Holly and hugs her. Then he asks her out saying later, "I didn't feel much when I held Astrid, but I got a good feeling from Holly."

Jim and Pam are at odds with trying to catch up with each other. At the end of the episode, their out-of-sync communication efforts synchronize to the point where they call each other at the same time and get each other's voice mail. Even their messages match up with them reminiscing about the same incident.

Very sweet.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Pushing Daisies - Bad Habits

For some reason last night's episode of Pushing Daisies felt like a Nancy Drew mystery. I don't mean that in a bad way--I devoured the series when I was in elementary school. There's something about secret doors and passage ways that made me nostalgic.

It was an Olive-centric show--which made me happy. And at the end, it was the conclusion of Olive's retreat to the nunnery and her reunion with her friends at the Pie-Hole, which made me happier. I worry though that the writers have a bit of a problem on their hands as Olive is becoming a more interesting character than the two leads.

Kudos to Kristen Chenoweth for creating such a winning character.

Don't get me wrong--I love Lee Pace and the chemistry between him and Anna Friel's Chuck is fabulous. But Chuck's quirky perkiness has taken a somber turn lately and it's kind of a downer. Ned has been a sad sack as well--not only due to Chuck's move next door (Hmm--I wonder where she goes when Olive returns home and back to her apartment...Olive and Chuck become roomies? And Pigby, too?), but his childhood scars due to his father's abandonment.

As for last night's episode: When Olive's friend Sister LaRue takes a dive from the belltower, she hires Emerson Cod to prove that it was an accident so that the nun's soul won't be in jeopardy. Although Olive has taken a vow of poverty, she offers to pay Emerson in prayer.

Surprisingly, Emerson accepts. Olive warns him not to bring Ned or Chuck--but of course he brings both. Posing as investigators from the Vatican, Emerson introduces himself as Father Dowling, Ned as Father Mulcahey and Chuck as Sister Christian. Mother Mary Mary may not be the quickest on the uptake with the pop culture references (obviously they don't watch TVLand in the convent...), but she does eventually do some digging of her own and calls the trio's bluff:

"Sister Christian is nothing but a heavy petting power ballad," announces Mother Mary Mary.

"We're motoring," Emerson replies.

But their escape is blocked by a small army of nuns...

At first it seems like Mother Mary Mary might have murdered Sister LaRue, then suspicion falls upon Father Eduardo. But it turns out that it was Pigby who accidentally pushed the wayward nun in an attempt to retrieve the rare Italian white truffles she had hidden in her habit.

Chuck almost meets the same fate, but is rescued in the nick of time by Olive--and Pigby, who helps pull her back from the ledge. But then it's Olive who loses her balance and ends up falling off the tower--and ends up landing safely in a hay-filled wagon.

Although the reappearance of Ned's long-lost father has been hinted at since the first episode of the season, it would appear from the cast list for next week's episode that it is Emerson Cod's past that will play a part in the story. Oh, and while I was doing a little detective work of my own for this post (just call me Nancy Drew!), I stumbled across a Pushing Daisies Wikipedia.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day - Poverty Awareness

Today the blogosphere unites to discuss, illuminate and bring awareness to the issue of poverty. I'm not sure what to say on the subject. In the words of Mike Todd, I've been broke but never poor. Although there have been times in my life where I was living so close to the edge that that there was not much separating my situation from the people I see pushing their carts along the sidewalks, sleeping under bridge overpasses.

Homelessness is a big problem in Los Angeles. And no, these are not freegans. There was the guy who used to sit on the curb near the public parking lot near my building who I'd pass every day. As time passed, we give each other a familiar nod.

I haven't seen him in a long while. Maybe he's found another curb. I hope he's okay...

Another vagrant I'd see frequently was this androgenous Iggy Pop type. He'd smile and wave shyly whenever our paths would cross. He hangs out at the Public Library during the day. I have no idea where he goes at night.

Maybe underneath the 405 overpass. Whenever I walk down that sidewalk, I see at 3-5 bedrolls sprawled along the concrete. Of course many of these people are mentally ill and have slipped through the cracks, but I have encountered scary behavior only on rare occasions. One time I was out walking and passed two homeless men arguing with each other. They stopped when I walked by and one called out to me, apologizing.

Another time as I walked past a homeless man, he called out to me asking me how it was the angels made me so gorgeous.

I know a lot of guys who could take some lessons from him...

Some of them are "lucky" enough to be living out of their cars or campers. Others scrape by as a result of dumpster diving. There are some like the old woman I've named "Annie" who walks around in a trance-like state, literally in rags. Then there's the guy who is so fastidious about his hygiene, he uses storefront windows as a mirror so he can shave.

I'm not sure what can be done to alleviate this situation--it's a pretty overwhelming problem. Sometimes I wonder to myself what I would value enough if I could only possess that which would fit in a shopping cart. Other times I see a sad figure wandering the streets and I thank my own good fortune to have a roof over my head.

On Maslow's hierarchy of needs, shelter is on the first level--along with breathing, eating, drinking and sleep. I would add the need for compassion and dignity to a list of basic needs. Those without a place to call home could certainly use both of these.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Stuck on DVD 10/14

The movie Stuck could just as well have been called "Struck" as it tells the story of nursing assistant Brandi Boski (Mena Suvari) who hits a homeless person (Stephen Rea) late at night and finds her life complicated by the fact that she can't quite get rid of him.

It's a grim and gruesome tale--the hit and run accident involves Thomas Bardo (Rea) crashing through Brandi's windshield. Completely freaked out, she just keeps driving with the profusely bleeding stuck halfway inside her car and half outside on her hood.

Life would be so much easier if the homeless--and therefore anonymous--Bardo would just get it over with and die, but despite numerous setbacks that brought him to the fateful time and place of the accident, he refuses to give up.

It's excruciating to watch Bardo impaled on shards of glass as Boski keeps him locked in her garage rather than risk an imminent promotion by taking responsibility for her actions. This is not for the weak of stomach or otherwise squeamish. I found enough of the scenes squirm-inducing enough that I spent a good amount of time averting my eyes. But then what would you expect of director Stuart Gordon whose ouevre is generally horror.

The film explores the idea of choices and consequences and the primal struggle for survival, but I wish more time had been spent on the issue of homelessness. The mindset of how these people are somehow disposable due to their transience is brought up but the loss of humanity that is inherent in their situation could have been hit harder. By casting Stephen Rea as the down on his luck Thomas Bardo, director Stuart Gordon does go a long way towards illuminating the human backstory of the so often faceless and nameless people.

I also wish there had been more interaction between Suvari's and Rea's characters. Given that it's pretty much a cat-and-mouse struggle, it's a shame the two leads don't share more screen time. The DVD version has been cut by about nine minutes from the original festival version. Perhaps those scenes ended up on the cutting room floor. I would have liked to have seen more of a progression from Boski's compassionate nurse to the ruthless and inhumane monster that would allow Bardo to bleed to death in her garage.

The film is based on a true story of a woman who hit a homeless man with her car and let him slowly bleed to death while stuck in her windshield. Director Stuart Gordon called this "the way the story should have turned out." Maybe, maybe not. Truth be told, the ending is a bit over the top and stretching credibility. But ultimately it is a satisfying turn of events in a film that certainly makes you question what you would do in the same situation.

If you want the bells and whistles, get the Blu-ray version. It contains:

  • Audio Commentary Featuring Director Stuart Gordon, Writer John Strysik and Actress Mena Suvari
  • Featurettes: Chante’s Inferno, The Gory Details and Driving Forces
  • Theatrical Trailer
The DVD version contains only the feature.