Saturday, January 31, 2009

Movies I'm Just Not That Into

January is traditionally Death Valley as far as movie releases goes. Witness the success of Paul Blart: Mall Cop and you know just what I mean. Hopefully, we won't have to wait until summer blockbuster season before a decent movie hits the theaters, but I've already compiled a list of upcoming releases I have no desire seeing:

1. He's Just Not That Into You - Despite the star-studded cast featuring the moppy-haired Mac guy, no good can come of adapting a snarky, misogynistic "self-help" book. Unless this gets rave reviews (and I highly doubt it), I'm just not that into He's Just Not That Into You.

2. The Pink Panther II - 'Cuz the previous Steve Martin version was such a huge success...

3. Push - Pass.

4. Fired Up - The posters for this emphasize the "F" and the "U." My thoughts exactly!

5. Tyler Perry's Madea Goes to Jail - Given the fact that Perry's entire career seems to revolve around his penchant for travestitism, I'm guessing Madea gets out of jail in time for the next installment of this tired franchise.

And movies I AM looking forward to:

1. Sunshine Cleaning - This movie shares more than part of its name with another indie sleeper hit, Little Miss Sunshine, it shares producers and star Alan Arkin. I loved LMS and Amy Adams has been uniformly great in everything I've seen her do--plus there's Emily Blunt to boot!

2. Duplicity - Tony Gilroy wrote and directed one of the smartest movies of 2007 (Michael Clayton) and this time around he has Julia Roberts and Clive Owens recreating the chemistry they had in Closer--albeit with more sizzle and sass. I'm hoping it's as much fun as the trailer makes it look.

3. Fast & Furious - After two sucky sequels--and some sagging careers, the franchise reboots with the original cast (Gotta love the tagline: "New model. Original parts."). I thought the first one was a helluva fun ride. Here's hoping the manage to recapture that magic...

Friday, January 30, 2009

The Latest iTunes Playlist

Ever since receiving a $15 iTunes gift card from my brother and his girlfriend for Christmas, I've been making a list of tunes I want to download. This is what I've got so far:

1. I Feel Good - George Michael: It's not a cover of the famous James Brown song, but a slinky, smokin' jazz tune that caught my ear while watching Eli Stone.

2. Sex on Fire - Kings of Leon: My yoga instructor Jessa has this one in rotation for class. It makes holding those poses a little bit easier...

3. She Don't Use Jelly - Flaming Lips: I heard this silly song while driving around with my sister and brother-in-law a couple of weeks ago. It cracked me up.

4. Paper Planes - MIA: This trippy tune featured heavily in the Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack. Love it!

5. Young Folks - Peter Bjorn and John: It's the whistling at the beginning of this song that sucks me in.

6. Love Remains - Gavin Rossdale: This is one of those songs that feels like an old friend from the very first time you hear it.

7. Schizophrenic Psycho - Puddle of Mudd: This quirky tune has been on my wishlist for quite a while now.

8. Ball of Confusion - Love and Rockets: Long live the 80s!

9. Love Will Tear Us Apart - Joy Division: I didn't know much about this precursor to New Order until seeing the film Control, but their most well-known song is both melancholy and catchy.

10. All the Money or the Simple Life - The Dandy Warhols: How in the world could I pass up music by a band named "The Dandy Warhols"?

That still leaves five tunes to go. Any suggestions?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

LOST - Jughead

Well George promised us an exciting episode and he was right. All the Desmond lovers out must have really enjoyed the fact that the off island activities centered solely around our favorite Scot. And Des and Pen had themselves a baby boy--named Charlie.

Awwww!

Although Penny's not thrilled, Desmond goes to Oxford to find Faraday's mother. Not only is he not able to locate Daniel's mum, but no-one at Oxford seems to know who Daniel is--or was. But Desmond finds the infamous laboratory where Daniel conducted his time travel experiments. A maintenance worker interrupts his search but confirms that Faraday was at Oxford but that it's not surprising Oxford officials won't acknowledge the fact "After what he done to that poor girl."

The "poor girl" in question was Theresa Spencer (I think!). According to her sister Abigail's explanation, "poor Theresa" seems to be suffering from hallucinations or dementia. Or perhaps she was a volunteer for one of Daniel's time travel experiments as her "visions" have her returning to when she was five and talking with her dead father.

Des finds out that Faraday's research was funded by none other than Charles Widmore. So he goes to Widmore's office to confront him and find out where Faraday's mother is. Widmore tells him that she's in Los Angeles (Aha! So I guess she probably IS Mrs. Hawking! But why doesn't Daniel have a British accent?), but after he delivers his message, he and Penny need to go back into hiding.

Back on the boat., Des tells Pen that Faraday's mother is dead--but Penny immediately knows he is lying. She knows he will never forget, so she agrees that the three of them will go to Los Angeles to find Daniel's mother.

On the island, Charlotte, Daniel, Miles and a couple more "redshirts" reach the creek--but Sawyer, Juliet and the rest of the survivors (Hopefully Bernard, Rose and Vincent survived the flaming arrows okay...) are not there. The redshirt almost immediately trip a landmine and get blown to smithereens and Mile, Charlotte and Daniel are surrounded by uniformed Brits pointing guns. The blonde one named Ellie asks "Who's in charge here?" and Miles points to Daniel.

Nice way to CYA, Miles!

Turning to Daniel Ellie says, "You just couldn't stay away, could you?"

At first I thought maybe their paths had crossed when Daniel time-travelled back to the DHARMA era, but it appears that Ellie and her group think that Daniel and company are part of the US Military.

The men captured by Sawyer, Juliet and Locke aren't very cooperative and it pisses Sawyer off. Sniping at Locke he asks, "Where the hell have you been?" Locke replies that the more accurate question should be "WHEN the hell have I been?" The two captives start speaking to each other in a foreign language. Juliet immediately recognizes it and begins speaking to them in it. She tells Sawyer they're speaking Latin and he wants to know how the hell they know Latin. "Same reason I do. Because they're Others."

Apparently Latin is "Others 101" according to Juliet. Hmm--wouldn't it have been funny if it were PIG Latin?

One of the captives tells them that the rest of their people are either captured or dead because when Sawyer yelled for everyone to head to the creek, they sent a party out in advance to waylay them. "Well maybe I should have said it in my secret language!" says Sawyer sarcastically.

Juliet speaks to the men in Latin to get them to reveal the location of the Others camp. One captive kills the other and breaks away and escapes. Sawyer angrily asks Locke why he didn't shoot him. "Because he's one of my people," Locke replies.

Meanwhile, the freighter trio is marched towards the Others camp. As they are walking, Miles tells Daniel that they just walked over a fresh grave containing four U.S. soliders dead less than a month. One died of radiation poisoning. The three are taken to the ageless Richard Alpert who tells them, "I assume you came back for your bomb."

Daniel offers to defuse the bomb, but Alpert is dubious of his motives. Daniel tells him he's not going to detonate the bomb "because I'm in love with the woman sitting next to me and I would never do anything to hurt her."

The Other who escaped from Locke and company arrives back at the camp. Alpert chastises him because he's led them to their location. The Other scoffs that their leader is a "sodding old man." "You think he can track me? You think he knows the island better than I do?"

Yes, grasshopper. John Locke, knife-thrower extraordinaire can track you. And he knows the island better than anyone--except maybe Alpert. In fact, Sawyer, Juliet and Locke are on their way to the Others camp. Locke asks Juliet how old Richard Alpert is. "Old." Juliet replies. Interesting...Juliet knows about Richard's agelessness.

Ellie takes Daniel at gunpoint to the bomb--a huge hydrogen bomb named "Jughead" hanging from a scaffold. It's leaking something--which causes Daniel to dismount the scaffolding and move away from it with Ellie. He tells her it needs to be patched with lead or concrete and then carefully taken down and buried. Ellie is dubious that this is an appropriate solution, but Daniel assures her it works because in fifty years the island is still there.

Sawyer and Juliet show up and disarm Ellie who asks Daniel if they are from the future too. "You told her?" says Sawyer incredulously.

Meanwhile, Locke approaches the Others camp yelling for Richard Alpert. With a rifle pointed at Locke's head, Richard appears. Locke tells him "Jacob sent me," and Richard orders the gunman to lower the rifle. When he argues with him, Richard tells him "I said put the gun down, Widmore!" Locke asks if he is Charles Widmore and when that fact is confirmed, he grins knowingly and says "Nice to meet ya."

So Widmore was on the island before. Well, we pretty much figure that out. He was also an Other--but did he ever become the Others leader? How/why did he get off the island?

I guess we'll find out soon enough.

Locke shows Alpert the compass and asks him how to get off the island, but before he gets an answer another flash occurs and the Others are gone, leaving just Locke, Sawyer, Juliet, Miles, Daniel and Charlotte--who starts having a massive nosebleed as the episode ends.

If that's not enough LOST for you, check out the recap on Lostpedia, the screencaps at Dark UFO and Liz Kelly and Jen Chaney's Dueling Analyses at washingtonpost.com.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

LOST: Where are the JUGHEADS?

It's amazing how this series brings people together. From bloggers like me and my buddy Rae who watch it and then dissect and discuss it online, to the myriad of sites dedicated to trying to unraveling its many mysteries, LOST has created scores of obsessed fans.

Like me. And George, who I met last night at a Happy Hour mixer. George sends out a weekly missive to fans of LOST and I was lucky enough to be added to his mailing list. So in anticipation of tonight's episode, I share George's latest musings on our favorite show:

"Hello LOSTies,

"God help us all". And with that LOST kicked off Season 5. Both Pierre and Ms. Hawking repeated that phrase when it came to the time-traveling properties. And Dan has now spelled out the rules of time travel, as well. Can't change the past, can't change the future. When Ms. Hawking met with Desmond back in season 3, she actually told him the same thing...you can't change things that are supposed to happen.

Ben has now got his plan in place and has 70 hours to get the O6+Locke back on the island. Ms. Hawking's pendulum makes it seem that she knows exactly when the island is going to "leap" into their time period.

Speaking of leaping, we lept 3 times:
1) Between 2002-2004 before the crash, when Yemi's drug plane crashes on to the island. This is where Daniel speaks to Desmond, causing Desmond's "memory"
2) After 815 crashed where Richard takes Ethan's bullet out of Locke and gives Locke the compass he gave him when he was little.
3) Before 815 crashed when the "firethrowers" killed several LOSTies, including Neil.

So here's your O6 tracker:
Jack - Already working with Ben to get the O6 together.
Kate - Hiding out in LA
Aaron - With Kate
Sun - At a hotel in LA cozying up to Kate & Aaron
Sayid - At the hospital with Jack.
Hurley - Being arrested by the police to avoid Ben's invitation to go back.
Locke - In a van being kept at Jill's butcher shop.

Now on tonight, the search of Daniel's mother begins as this season's Desmond episode is upon us. Desmond's episodes have been this series best including "Flashes Before Your Eyes" and "The Constant". This episode will rank up there...get ready for JUGHEAD.

There is more than the mom search happening to! This episode moves quickly between Desmond and the island. And so many twist and turns, I might have to do a special edition of the newsletter tomorrow to explain everything (the last time I did that was Season 2 when I emailed everyone the picture of the DHARMA map).

I won't give up too much but make sure you have your drool cups because one mother (or father) of a revelation will be coming tonight! Ille te lego hac volo verto vos bene irrisorie.

You will know what "Jughead" means in this episode...and no Archie doesn't appear out of nowhere...and Charlotte's condition is studied a bit more.

Man, you couldn't just stay away, could you?? Between your LOST coma of your thoughts of Charles Widmore vs. Ben Linus and your moments of love still being able to blossom on the island...i think you will love tonight's episode.

See you in another life, brotha...maybe even another time..."

The Calendar says Winter, but it's Spring at Smashbox

Los Angeles readers might be shivering in their Uggs as they're reading this (In SoCal, anything below 70 is cold and anything below 50 is freezing!), but Spring has already sprung at Smashbox Studio. So head over to Fred Segal in Santa Monica tomorrow evening and check out Dean and Davis Factor's Spring Muse collection.


Here are the details:


Ugly Betty, Grey's Anatomy, The Office and 30 Rock are all RE-RUNS this Thursday night--so check out Studio at Fred Segal instead!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I don't like cereal THAT much...

I've often said you can find almost anything on Craigslist. I wonder if this cereal fetishist (as opposed to a "serial fetishist"...) found his snap, crackle and popping soul mate:







"I am looking for a kindred spirit that enjoys, sex, baths, and cereal. So why not try them all at the same time? Now, be warned… I have some very specific stipulations for this fantasy of mine:

1) The cereal must have less than 2 grams of protein per serving. That’s right, the pure sugar stuff kids eat to get roofed like junkies on speed. These can include:

Fruity Pebbles
Count Chocula
Cookie Crisp
Cocoa Pebbles
Cocoa Puffs
Golden Crisps
Honey Smacks
Cap’n Crunch’s Peanut Butter Crunch
Cap’n Crunch
Apple Jacks
Froot Loops
Corn Pops

If you have other suggestions I am more than happy to entertain them.

2) It must be 2% milk, having sex in a bathtub full of cereal is no time for moderation. Plus, I need to get my daily dose of Vitamins A and D.

3) You must be comfortable in the doggie style position. I don’t see any other way to avoid shrinkage and still let you enjoy your cereal before it becomes too mushy.

4) If you insist of photography/videography I will need to insist that I wear a Mexican wrestling mask a la Nacho Libre.

5) I plan on making this a safe encounter to please feel free to bring your own utensils.

After we are finished if you feel like you need something to make you regular again, I should have some Grape-Nuts that you can nibble on. If you are serious, send me a photo, I need to make sure you can fit into the tub."

Monday, January 26, 2009

It's the Year of the Ox

Today marks Chinese New Year and the year of the Ox. I was born during an "Ox" year--so I'm hoping 2009 will be an auspicious year for me.

Other notable Oxen include Barack Obama, George Clooney, Paul Newman, Jim Carrey, Princess Diana and Jorge Garcia aka "Hurley" from LOST.

Awesome, dude!

Some notorious Oxen include Nixon, Napoleon, Saddam Hussein and Hitler.

Oh well--ya gotta take the good with the bad, eh?

Pride and Glory on DVD 1/27

Pride and Glory takes a cue from Training Day in its exploration of police corruption vs. integrity. Edward Norton portrays good cop Ray Tierney while Colin Farrell plays his brother-in-law and corrupt cop Jimmy Egan. Farrell gets the New York accent right, but despite the shared billing with Norton, his role is fairly negligible.

It's really Norton's film all the way. There are some great supporting performances: Jon Voight does a credible job as the patriarch cop, Noah Emmerich offers a solid turn as Ray's older brother and John Ortiz is memorable as a troubled cop working with Jimmy. But Edward Norton carries the film much like his character carries the weight of the world on his shoulders as his investigation into the deaths of four police officers leads him to discover a trail of corruption that ends up in his own backyard.

Director Gavin O'Connor, a cop's son, co-wrote the script with Joe Carnahan (Smokin' Aces) and really wanted to make a movie that cops would watch and feel it was authentic. From the cinematography to the extras, the film does convey a believable, gritty reality. The world of family and loyalty and tradition juxtaposed against criminals, deception and betrayal makes for a compelling story. Unfortunately, the script is weighed down by cliched dialogue and scenes that fall flat.

The actors, however, rise above the material and O'Connor creates a world with cops who are scarier than the criminals they are supposed to protect us from. Too bad he offers no real solution or even a statement on this situation where, in a post-Rodney King world, civilians have a mistrust and even fear of those whose job is to serve and protect. Although the film opened with a football game between a team of cops vs. fireman, O'Connor has little to say on the dichotomy between the way the two types of public servants are perceived in our society. If anything, he just adds to the current perception.

If you're a fan of Ed Norton's work or just like a police thriller, Pride and Glory offers some moments of drama and tension. Pride and Glory is available on DVD Tuesday, January 27th and includes the feature film, making of documentary and bonus digital copy.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

...and the Envelope, please!

I did pretty well with my guesses:

Best Actor in a Leading Role - Sean Penn
Best Actress - (old guard) Meryl Streep
Supporting Actor - Heath Ledger getting the posthumous nod
Supporting Actress - Kate Winslet (I guessed this one wrong!)
Ensemble Cast - I was happy to get this one wrong--whoohoo Slumdog Millionaire!
Best Actor/Actress in a Mini-series - Missed both these predictions with Laura Linney and Paul Giamatti winning for their performances in John Adams.
TV Drama Series Actor - Hugh Laurie as I predicted...
TV Drama Series Actress - I got this one wrong. Did Sally Fields do her "You like me, you really like me?" routine?
Male Actor in a Comedy Series - Yup, Alec Baldwin.
Female Actor in a Comedy Series - Tina Fey as I predicted...
Best Drama Series Ensemble - Mad Men
Best Comedy Series Ensemble - 30 Rock

Well, I was eight for thirteen. It will be interesting to see if the SAG nods pan out at the Oscars with Streep winning Best Actress, Penn Best Actor, Winslet Best Supporting Actress and Ledger Best Supporting Actor.

Kind of takes the suspense out of it, huh?

15th Annual SAG Awards

Awards season is in full swing what with the recent Golden Globes and tonight's SAG Awards. The thing about all these awards shows is that the biggest of them all--the Oscars--become anti-climatic once we pretty much know who's getting best writer, director, actor, actress. Other than Best Picture, the element of surprise is pretty much missing from the Academy Awards.

Unless you're biting your nails wondering who is going to win "Best Sound Editing."

Here are the nominees and my picks for the SAG Awards:

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
RICHARD JENKINS / Walter Vale - "THE VISITOR" (Overture Films)
FRANK LANGELLA / Richard Nixon - "FROST/NIXON" (Universal Pictures)
SEAN PENN / Harvey Milk - "MILK" (Focus Features)
BRAD PITT / Benjamin Button - "THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON" (Paramount Pictures)
MICKEY ROURKE / Randy - "THE WRESTLER" (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

This is a strong field--with the exception of Brad Pitt's cipher-like CGI-enhanced portrayal of a man aging backwards. I really loved Richard Jenkins' understated performance and Frank Langella was amazing as Richard Nizon, but I think what with the Prop 8 brouhaha Sean Penn's gonna walk away with this one.

Not that there's anything wrong with that!

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
ANNE HATHAWAY / Kym - "RACHEL GETTING MARRIED" (Sony Pictures Classics)
ANGELINA JOLIE / Christine Collins - "CHANGELING" (Universal Pictures)
MELISSA LEO / Ray Eddy - "FROZEN RIVER" (Sony Pictures Classics)
MERYL STREEP / Sister Aloysius Beauvier - "DOUBT" (Miramax Films)
KATE WINSLET / April Wheeler - "REVOLUTIONARY ROAD" (Paramount Vantage)

Kate Winslet cleaned up at the Golden Globes but that doesn't necessarily mean anything to the U.S. actors union. I'm thinking it will either go to the old guard (Meryl Streep) or the upstart (Anne Hathaway).

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role
JOSH BROLIN / Dan White - "MILK" (Focus Features)
ROBERT DOWNEY, JR. / Kirk Lazarus - "TROPIC THUNDER" (Paramount Pictures)
PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN / Father Brendan Flynn - "DOUBT" (Miramax Films)
HEATH LEDGER / Joker - "THE DARK KNIGHT" (Warner Bros. Pictures)
DEV PATEL / Older Jamal - "SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE" (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

I'd put my money on Milk, but I think Heath Ledger will get the posthumous recognition for his mesmerizing Joker.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role
AMY ADAMS / Sister James - "DOUBT" (Miramax Films)
PENÉLOPE CRUZ / Maria Elena - "VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA" (The Weinstein Company)
VIOLA DAVIS / Mrs. Miller - "DOUBT" (Miramax Films)
TARAJI P. HENSON / Queenie - "THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON" (Paramount Pictures)
KATE WINSLET / Hanna Schmitz - "THE READER" (The Weinstein Company)

Again, a really strong field! I'm thinking it will be either Viola Davis or Penelope Cruz.

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture

THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON (Paramount Pictures)
DOUBT (Miramax)
FROST/NIXON (Universal Pictures)
MILK (Focus Features)
SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

I'm betting on Milk.


PRIMETIME TELEVISION

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries

RALPH FIENNES / Bernard Lafferty - "BERNARD AND DORIS" (HBO)
PAUL GIAMATTI / John Adams - "JOHN ADAMS" (HBO)
KEVIN SPACEY / Ron Klain - "RECOUNT" (HBO)
KIEFER SUTHERLAND / Jack Bauer - "24: REDEMPTION" (FOX)
TOM WILKINSON / Benjamin Franklin - "JOHN ADAMS" (HBO)

Please let it go to Tom Wilkinson!

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries

LAURA DERN / Katherine Harris - "RECOUNT" (HBO)
LAURA LINNEY / Abigail Adams - "JOHN ADAMS" (HBO)
SHIRLEY MacLAINE / Coco Chanel - "COCO CHANEL" (Lifetime)
PHYLICIA RASHAD / Lena Younger - "A RAISIN IN THE SUN" (ABC)
SUSAN SARANDON / Doris Duke - "BERNARD AND DORIS" (HBO)

Laura Dern was magnificent as Katherine Harris. She's got my vote!

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series

MICHAEL C. HALL / Dexter Morgan - "DEXTER" (Showtime)
JON HAMM / Don Draper - "MAD MEN" (AMC)
HUGH LAURIE / Gregory House - "HOUSE" (FOX)
WILLIAM SHATNER / Denny Crane - "BOSTON LEGAL" (ABC)
JAMES SPADER / Alan Shore - "BOSTON LEGAL" (ABC)

It'll probably go to Hugh Laurie, but I so want Michael C. Hall to win it!

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series

SALLY FIELD / Nora Walker - "BROTHERS & SISTERS" (ABC)
MARISKA HARGITAY / Det. Olivia Benson - "LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT" (NBC)
HOLLY HUNTER / Grace Hanadarko - "SAVING GRACE" (TNT)
ELISABETH MOSS / Peggy Olson - "MAD MEN" (AMC)
KYRA SEDGWICK / Dep. Chief Brenda Johnson - "THE CLOSER" (TNT)

I thinking it's a Mad Men year, so Elisabeth Moss.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series

ALEC BALDWIN / Jack Donaghy - "30 ROCK" (NBC)
STEVE CARELL / Michael Scott - "THE OFFICE" (NBC)
DAVID DUCHOVNY / Hank Moody - "CALIFORNICATION" (Showtime)
JEREMY PIVEN / Ari Gold - "ENTOURAGE" (HBO)
TONY SHALHOUB / Adrian Monk - "MONK" (USA)

I love Steve Carell and hope he wins, but I think it will go to Alec Baldwin.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series

CHRISTINA APPLEGATE / Samantha Newly - "SAMANTHA WHO?" (ABC)
AMERICA FERRERA / Betty Suarez - "UGLY BETTY" (ABC)
TINA FEY / Liz Lemon - "30 ROCK" (NBC)
MARY-LOUISE PARKER / Nancy Botwin - "WEEDS" (Showtime)
TRACEY ULLMAN / Various Characters - "TRACEY ULLMAN’S STATE OF THE UNION" (Showtime)

Hmm--will Christina Applegate pull in the sympathy vote for her recent double masectomy or is Tina Fey just gonna steamroll right through like she did with the Emmys?

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series

BOSTON LEGAL (ABC)
THE CLOSER (TNT)
DEXTER (Showtime)
HOUSE (Fox)
MAD MEN (AMC)

It'll probably go to Mad Men, but I'd love to see Dexter get the win!

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series

30 ROCK (NBC)
DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES (ABC)
ENTOURAGE (HBO)
THE OFFICE (NBC)
WEEDS (Showtime)

I think 30 Rock will walk away with the trophy, but my pick would be The Office.

Who do you think deserves to win? Who do you think will win?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Out of Africa

Out of Africa is not just a multi-Academy Award winning film, it's also the name of a shea butter based product line created by Victor Lulla. The products feature high percentages of unrefined, pure shea butter and no chemical, additives, sulfates and parabens.

One of the products I tried was the Tea Tree Shea Butter hand wash. Between putting in and taking out my contact lenses, testing my blood sugar, etc., I wash my hands a lot. The Out of Africa hand wash cleans without drying out my hands--and the tea tree oil acts as a natural anti-bacterial. You can also get the hand wash infused with Lemon or Lavendar essential oils--but for hand washing germophobes everywhere, the tea tree is a great alternative to those chemical filled anti-bacterial soaps.

I also got to test drive the Shea Butter Body Oil in Lavender. In addition to pure, unrefined shea butter, the body oil contains avocado and olive oil. It's a great moisturizer when applied to damp skin after a shower. It left my skin moisturized but not at all greasy! I also like rubbing a bit into my palms and using it to smooth down flyaway hair. The lavender is a nice calming and soothing scent--but the oils also come in grapefruit, verbena and as well as an unscented version.

The Out of Africa product line also features body butters, bar soaps and body washes. And 3% of all sales are contributed to School for Children Unite--a groundbreaking project helping to provide education to children in West Africa. In addition, the products are handmade bu women's co-operatives in Benin--which creates jobs and economic stability in one of the poorest nations in Africa.

So you've got a good cause that's also good for your skin. Out of Africa--coming soon to bathroom near you!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Ugly Betty/The Office - Sisters on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown and Prince Family Paper

Well, Ignacio survived his heart attack and the resulting quadruple bypass, but the ordeal put an even bigger strain on the Suarez sisters' relationship. Hilda accuses Betty of being a "Bossypants," Betty's not convinced that Hilda can take care of Ignacio, so she takes charge.

She takes Ignacio to Claire Meade's cardiologist Dr. Farber. When he hears that the Suarez family doctor, "Dr. Steve," diagnosed Ignacio's cough over the phone, he says "On the phone. Terrific. That's how I order Chinese food."

Daniel and Holly try to keep their vacation in St. Bart a secret, but Betty accidentally sends their vacation photos to Suzuki St. Pierre. While Dr. Farber is running tests on Ignacio, she tries to retrieve them but the flamboyant fashion reporter won't give up his journalistic scoop.

Amanda and Marc suggest that Betty blackmail the reporter by digging up dirt from his ex--who just happens to be James (Alexander Chaplin) from Spin City. Amanda threatens to "tell everyone you have ambiguous genitalia" and James--I mean "Fabian"--writes an address on her hand.

The address leads to a suburban tract housing neighborhood in Jersey where Byron Wu, mini-van driving soccer dad resides. Wu, aka Suzuki St. Pierre, is probably the only straight guy to have a gay "beard." Despite Wu's agreement not to reveal the photos of Molly and Daniel, Molly shows up in the background of a photo of Speidi on Page Six. Daniel is cropped out of the picture, but the picture of the bikini-clad Molly in St. Bart is enough to catch Connor's eye.

I'm not sure why he would care about what's going on with his ex given how hot and heavy things are going with Wilhelmina. Sporting matching goggle tan-lines from a skiing vacation in Switzerland, Connor and Wilhelmina have problems keeping their relationship under wraps back at the office. Since they can't seem to keep their hands off each other, Marc has to cover for the distracted Willie.

He's doing a great job with a presentation to some advertisers, when Willie breezes in and completely disses and dismisses him. She presents him with an expensive watch after the fact, but when he is less than enthusiastic she tells him, "I expect gratitude, not attitude." Later, she shows her gratitude when she lets him take a meeting in her place.

While Marc is moving up at Mode, Betty is moving out of her apartment with Amanda. After all that happened with Ignacio, Betty wants to be with her family. I'm going to miss Betty and Amanda sharing an apartment. Talk about an odd pairing. Amanda was under the impression that it was BETTY who had the heart attack. She warns Betty to take care of herself, "These things get passed down. They're generic."

That and she named the roaches in their apartment so they're not so scary. I don't name my roaches. I squish them dead.

On The Office, David Wallace sends Michael on a fact-finding mission to get the scoop on a family-owned paper company whose territory he wants Dunder-Mifflin to expand into. While Dwight and Michael go undercover to scope out the Prince Family Paper Company, the office gets into a prolonged debate over whether or not Hilary Swank is hot.

Although she declares that "Hot is a temperature, people," Angela sides with the "hot" side just so Kevin won't win. Michael and Dwight argue over Denny's vs. IHOP with Michael overruling Dwight's objections of IHOP's socialism telling him, "You will have pancakes and you'll like it!"

At the Prince Family Paper Company, Michael poses as a genius lawyer. He asks the kindly owner how long he's been in business. Mr. Prince tells him he began the business when he returned from Vietnam. "Vietnam. I hear it's lovely," exclaims Michael.

Meanwhile, the office continues to debate Hilary's hotness.

Dwight enters the Prince Family Paper Company to pretend to apply for a job. When he's told they're not hiring, he points at one of the employees and tells Mr. Prince to fire him. When he's told that the employee in question is the his son, Dwight says "I'm your son now. You can visit him on holidays."

Mr. Prince gives Michael a list of their clients who can recommend the company and Michael and Dwight try to make their getaway having hit the jackpot. But when Michael damages his car exiting the parking lot, the Prince family helps repair the bumper with duct tape.

I think my family might be related to the Princes. That's how we repair EVERYTHING.

Back at the office--where they are no closer to deciding Hilary's hotness--Michael has second thoughts about handing the list over to David Wallace. Dwight attempts to convince Michael by telling him, "...but if Frodo hadn't destroyed the ring..." When that doesn't work, Dwight is forced to chase Michael around the office and into the parking lot where he is able to retrieve the list from Michael.

"I'm not a shark!" Michael says plaintively.

The list ends up being sent to David Wallace, but it's a bittersweet moment for Michael. Like bittersweet chocolate, which Michael hates 'cuz what's the point? Why not just "sweet"?

Steve Carell cracks me up.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Jimmy Kimmel gets LOST

Omigod. So funny!

LOST - Because You Left and The Lie

Wow.

LOST returned with a bang last night. The main event was preceded an hour-long recap of seasons 1-4 which provided no new info other than the fact that Sun THINKS Jin died in the freighter explosion (meaning perhaps he's actually still alive?) and that the writers may finally explain the four-toed statue (Apparently people have been attracted to the island throughout the ages).

I have no how anyone who hasn't been faithfully following this series for the last four years was supposed to be brought up to speed in one hour--but there you have it.

The first episode of season five opened with a clock flipping over to 8:15 am (as in Oceanic 815, get it?) and someone putting a vinyl LP on a stereo (Willie Nelson's Shotgun Willie) which was very reminiscent of the opening of season two with Desmond down in the Hatch (Remember the Hatch? Ah, good times--good times...). Later Daniel Faraday uses the analogy of a record playing--and skipping--to explain the time shifts that occur after the island's move.

The first two installments of season five had the story flipping back and forth as well--on the island, off the island, time shifting into the past and future.

Trippy.

It seems like this season will be all about the time travel--starting with Marvin Candle (aka Dr. Chang) explaining the massive energy beneath the Orchid station which will act as a time machine. "What--we're going to go back and kill Hitler?" jokes a construction worker. No, there are RULES he is told.

The notion of the RULES are reiterated by Daniel (who pops up in the past as a Dharma worker). Those left on the island have been "dislodged" from time--but whether they are in the past or in the future, the RULES are you cannot change time. Whatever happens, happened. The only one immune to the RULES is Desmond who is special according to Daniel. When Charlotte's nose starts bleeding (indicative of someone in desperate need of a Constant as we learned last season), Daniel urges past Desmond to seek out his mother at Oxford after he gets off the island.

Desmond awakes and tells Penny, "It wasn't a dream. It was a memory." And pulling up anchor on the Searcher, they head for Oxford.

Locke is doing some time shifting of his own. At one point he ends up right when Mr. Eko's brother's plane crash lands in the trees. (Do you think this means they might bring Boone back? Ian Somerhalder...swoon!) He is shot by the still living Ethan and later told by Richard Alpert "What comes around, goes around..." Alpert attends to his wound, gives him a compass and tells him that the only way to save the island is to get your friends back. When Locke asks how he does that, Alpert says "You're gonna have to die, John."

Which is exactly what happened at the end of last season. But is Locke really dead? When Ben tells Jack he needs to take his body somewhere safe, Jack asks "He's dead, isn't he?" That's what I'd like to know...Ben finds a way to keep him from "going bad" courtesy of butcher shop run by what appears to be an Other. My guess is that Locke gets revived once back on the island...

The second hour focused on The Lie--the story concocted by the Oceanic Six to keep the others left behind safe from Charles Widmore. Sayid springs Hurley from the mental institution after killing the guy who had been staking it out. "You know maybe if you ate more comfort food you wouldn't have to go around shooting people," Hurley tells him.

In reference to Locke's alias "Jeremy Bentham," Hurley muses, "I need a cool code name."

I heart Hurley.

Indeed, The Lie was pretty much the Hugo Reyes show--with Hurley and an unconscious Sayid on the run from unknown enemies. At one point, Hurley is pulled over by a cop who turns out to be the deceased Ana Lucia. After admonishing Hurley to get a change of clothes and his act together, she tells him "Libby says Hi" and disappears.

In the classic LOST recurring theme of path-crossing, Kate pulls into the parking lot of the convenience store as Hurley and Sayid are leaving. Kate is on the run again after lawyers show up at her door wanting samples of her and Aaron's blood. While she is figuring out where to go next, her cell phone rings. She heads to a hotel and takes an elevator to the 31st floor with Aaron asking "Can I push the button?" (Again, a reference to season two and the every 108 minutes button pushing...)

Anyone surprised that the person she ended up meeting with was Sun? I didn't think so.

Kate confides to Sun about the lawyers saying, "Somebody knows we're lying." "They just want Aaron," Sun tells her.

Locke's special, Desmond's special and Aaron's special. Sigh. I wish I was special...

Before arriving in L.A., Sun is detained by the powerful Charles Widmore. She confirms to him that they have the same agenda--to kill Benjamin Linus.

Back on the island, they're not only dealing with time shifts but flaming arrows. Ah, Frogurt--we barely knew ya. But ya gotta know if wardrobe outfits you in a red shirt, you're toast. How appropriate to be toasted by a flaming arrow to the chest. The survivors scatter but Juliet and Sawyer are captured by some angry Brits wanting to know what they're doing on THEIR island. Widmore's people, perhaps? Just as one is about to chop off one of Juliet's hands, he takes a knife to the chest.

John Locke and his killer knife-throwing skills to the rescue...

Hurley ends up back home and convinces his Dad to take the still unconscious Sayid to Jack. Jack is able to revive Sayid whose well-honed fight or flight skills kick in immediately as he tries to strangle Jack. Sayid was pretty bad-ass throughout the show. Did you catch how he dispatched one of the bad guys? Death by dishwasher--pretty gruesome!

At home, Hurley breaks down and tells him mom the truth about the island and the smoke monster and the Others in a 30-second monologue that pretty much covered the hour-long recap we sat through earlier. His mom tells him, "I believe you. I don't understand you, but I believe you."

Later, Ben shows up at Hurley's home. "Sayid warned me about you!" Hurley tells him. Ben tells him that they all want the same thing--to go back to the island. "If you come with me, you won't ever have to lie again." "Never, Dude!" Hurley replies and races out of the house and gives himself up to the police.

This leaves Ben in quite a pickle. Meeting with the mysterious Mrs. Hawking--who appears to be doing calculations to locate the relocated island--he explains that he lost Hurley. She tells him he has 70 hours to get it together.

Hmm--is season five going to take place (more or less, not accounting for time shifts, etc.) over the course of seventy hours? That should be interesting....

So far it looks like they're pulling out all the stops as they wrap this series up.

You can check out recaps of Because You Left and The Lie at Lostpedia, pore over screencaps at Dark UFO or read Liz Kelly and Jen Chaney's Dueling Analyses at washingtonpost.com's Celebritology.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Clearing Out the Keywords

This is the time of the month where I take a look at the search terms that brought people to my blog. If the search led to a dead-end, I try to rectify that by providing the answer to whatever was being searched for.

I like to be helpful that way.

This time I have no additional assistance to provide. Although some of you really, really, REALLY need help.

I strongly suggest you get some.

1/16 of ounce crippie
hollywood fl crippie hook up (Like pot dealers advertise on the internet...)
she was shackled slave
tujunga steel pit assholes
was jerry rice a whiner
what does the anti-aging do for my superpoke pet? (Um, keep them from growing older?)
classic funny movie scenes spreading ashes from urn and blowing back in face
geena davis singing a song about santa accidental tourist
geena davis thelma and louise panty shots

deep dental cleaning bullshit?
dentist felon
elly and bob having sex (If you mean Elle and Bob having sex aka the characters on Heroes, they played father and daughter so Ew, ew, EW!!!)
fashion tips mens thong (Fashion tip re: men's thongs = DON'T!)
freddie highmore circumsized
free alyssa milano embrace of the vampire full length in its entirety
gay cosmetics spend average
mother-daughter kosher spa retreats (Talk about niche marketing!)
grocery store christmas song
hooked on speedman pina colada

how to deal with a difficult gay boss?
how to gap rewards work?
how to get over an office crush
how to use gap reward points
can children take 40 mgm a day of pycnogenol

indian porn actors
soren fulton shirtless (That's a new one!)
nude dudes cleaning
nude dudes cleaning
nudedudescleaning

length of an average kiss
average amount a boutique makes
average first time screenwriter advance
average housewives in panties
average keep
average kid cell phone
average soap opera career
average time it takes to read 100 pages

pictures of above average men (See "nude dudes cleaning")

above average boutique
above average in french
above average looking is that not good (Word.)
above average quotes

We know nothing of "average" or even "above average" here.

Only that which is WELL ABOVE AVERAGE!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Vicky Cristina Barcelona on DVD 1/27

I have to admit: I'm not a fan of Woody Allen movies. Once upon a time I found Annie Hall endearing and my favorite Allen movie is Sleeper which I find to be a spot on adaption of Orwell's Brave New World. But the whole Soon Yi thing skeeved me out and I have pretty much boycotted Allen's movie up until Small Time Crooks.

...which was so horrendous it made me boycott Woody Allen's movie just on the basis of badness and not even his slippery morality and ethics.

I had high hopes for Vicky Cristina Barcelona. After all, it did just win the Golden Globe award for Best Comedy. And it has a most attractive and talented cast.

But I have to agree with Ken Levine's review. The writing is indeed amateurish. The story goes nowhere. The voice-over narration is stilted and heavy-handed.

Voiceover is a fairly ubiquitous crutch in drama these days. Whether it's the "Life is like a box of chocolates" homespun wisdom of Forrest Gump or the acerbic irony of Dexter: "Harry and Dorris Morgan did a wonderful job raising me. But they're both dead now. I didn't kill them. Honest ," narration can capture and convey mood and illuminate subtext in a way visuals alone cannot.

The voiceover narration in Vicky Cristina Barcelona is neither wise nor witty. It's banal. It's boring. It's completely superfluous.

Example:

"Vicky and Cristina decided to spend the summer in Barcelona. Vicky was completing her master's in Catalan identity which she had become interested in through her great affection for the architecture of Gaudi...After the girls unpacked and Judy's husband Mark got home from the golf course, lunch was served on the terrace...In the days that followed, Vicky and Cristina drank in the artistic treasures of the city. They particularly enjoyed the works of Gaudi and Miró...Once, Mark and Judy invited Vicky and Cristina to go sailing with them on Mark's boat..."
It's like being trapped watching a slide-show of your Aunt Mavis and Uncle George's trip abroad. Except Scarlett Johansson and Rebecca Hall are admittedly more attractive than Aunt Mavis and Uncle George. So while it may be as stultifying as slide-show travelogue at least the Barcelona scenery is visually striking--as is the cast which also includes the very sexy (now freed of the horrible haircut of No Country for Old Men) Javier Bardem and the exquisite force of nature Penelope Cruz.

Indeed, it's entirely Penelope Cruz's movie. Although she doesn't appear until almost an hour into the story, the movie doesn't really command any attention until she appears on screen. Sure, Javier is a great attraction. When he proposes a threesome between himself, Johannson and Hall, I think "Hell--I'd go for that!" Even if the threesome was Javier, me and the skeevy Woody Allen I think I'd take him up on the offer. But a threesome between Javier, Scarlett and the delicious Penelope Cruz?

No wonder this movie made so many critics rave.

Truthfully (despite the menage a trois and girl-on-girl action) except for Penelope there's not much passion or sex in this film. Just a whole lot of talking and typical Woody Allen over-analyzation. And the dialogue is written in a way that sounds forced and contrived. The actors do a fine job with what they're given to work with, but the unctuous and mundane narration spoon feeds the audience in a most unappealing way.

(Note to screenwriters everywhere: this film is a perfect example of how NOT to write! It's show not tell. And definitely not show AND tell. )

But there's definitely an Oscar nomination out there with Penelope Cruz's name on it. She was phenomenal! If you like pretty people and pretty places and Spanish guitar, Vicky Cristina Barcelona might make make an interesting rental choice. The DVD contains no extras--just the film with captions and subtitles and scene selection.

If nothing else, it might inspire you to do a little traveling.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Desperate Housewives - The Best Thing that Could Have Ever Happened

For the 100th episode, Desperate Housewives featured a guest starring appearance by Earl Hickey's Dad.

Okay, it was Beau Bridges playing handyman Eli Scruggs. At first it seemed cruel to introduce the kindly character just to kill him off in the first few minutes of the show, but it turns out Eli Scruggs was a plot device to revisit the past with the lusty ladies of Wisteria Lane as they each remembered times where the dependable Mr. Fix-it touched their lives.

And it seems that Eli Scruggs was handy with more than just hammer and wrench. He fixed Gabby up with the ladies when she first moved to Wisteria Lane. He also set her straight when she came off as a stuck-up bitch.

Eli turned out to be the inspiration for Bree continuing with her dream of writing a cookbook and was "the most consistent male relationship" in Susan's revolving door love life.

When Edie husband Umberto turned out to be gay, his support went above and beyond (or more accurately below and beyond) the call of duty.

The funniest memory came from Lynette, whose ambitions of returning to work were being derailed by her pregnancy with Penny. So obsessed that she's still negotiating her compensation package while in labor, Lynette single-minded focus causes issues with Tom. "You told me I could go back to work after the baby was born!" she whines. "After, Lynette--not DURING!" When Lynette squeals with glee after landing the job, Tom snarks "The baby's arm is sticking out. Why don't you high five it?"

Lynette is brought back to reality when she accidentally leaves the newborn Penny in the car while talking to her boss on her cell phone. The baby is rescued by the observant Eli and Lynette rethinks her career decision.

The writers even managed to bring back Mary Alice--who helped Eli get his start in the neighborhood. Apparently Eli's guilt over not preventing Mary Alice's suicide led him to vow to help others whenever he could. Nice tie-in, but Susan's breakup with Karl, Penny's birth, Gabby arrival to the neighborhood and Umberto all happened well before Mary Alice's suicide--which is how the show kicked off its inaugural season.

Still, it was a sweet and touching episode...and now I'm a bit sad that Carl Hickey--I mean Eli Scruggs--won't be around Wisteria Lane anymore.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Defiance

Holocaust movies are generally Oscar bait and we got three in 2008: Kate Winslet in The Reader, Tom Cruise in Valkyrie and Daniel Craig in Defiance. There was also The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, but that one lacked a big above the title movie star, so it pretty much stayed beneath the radar.

Defiance is the story of the Bielski brothers, who escaped Nazi-occupied Poland into the Belorussian forest where they formed a partisan resistance group which eventually grew into a community of 1,200 Jews who were saved from certain death in the Nazi concentration camps.

Daniel Craig does a credible job as Tuvia, the eldest Bielski and defacto leader of the group. Liev Schreiber plays his hot-headed brother Zus and Jamie Bell is the sensitive younger brother Asael. It's gritty and brutal and an intriguing yet little-known story.

The performances are good all around, the cinematography is gorgeous. And yet while I felt it was a good movie, it missed the mark of being a great movie. For one, the pacing was a bit off and the story seemed to meander--and flounder--in the second act of the film. By the time the climatic third act battle occurs, it ends up feeling anti-climatic rather than a rousing and satisfying conclusion to the story.

The split focus between brother Zus who joins up with the Russian resistance and Tuvia who stays with the Jewish camp might have illuminated the differences in the brothers personalities, but it didn't help with creating the character development and emotional moments that engage and draw the audience in. The chemistry between Craig and Schreiber was really strong and could have been used to better effect with more scenes together. The character of Asael was the only one to undergo any transformation--but he was given so little screen time that his journey barely registered.

There is no bigger sap when it comes to being moved by a stirring drama. And yet my eyes did not well up in tears once.

If you tell a story about a group of people overcoming odds to survive and I'm not bawling my eyes out by the end of the movie, you've done something wrong somewhere.

Still, it was a story worth telling. Too bad it wasn't told better.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me...

...and my sister, Laurie! We share a birthday--but apparently the universe isn't impressed. We both are dealing with assorted and decidedly non-Birthday bull$@#.

Laurie's been working insane hours and, despite being in the same town where my brother David resides, has been unable to catch a break to catch up with him.

My car is obstinately refusing to pass CA smog. Watch out buster or it's the junk heap for you! And, I'm fighting yet another cold.

It hasn't been all bad, though.

I got a funny card from my funny friend Dave. It was actually a Thanksgiving card with a picture of a Mayflower looking ship on front and the words:

"The first Thanksgiving took place in 1620, when the Pilgrims left England aboard the Mayflower and sailed to America on a rough, dangerous and exhausting 62 day journey across the Atlantic."

And then inside the card it says:

"It's amazing what some people will do to get away from their relatives. Happy Thanksgiving."

It's a funny card but even funnier was Dave's inscription which in typical Dave stream of consciousness fashion went like this:

"okay, so it isn't thanksgiving.
i'm just a little early.
but maybe you were really born on turkey day1 but it was so hectic, what with the bird prep and all that your Pa2 said, "Next year her birthday is gonna be January 17th, in honor of Martin King3. That sounds like something your father would do.4
But then your mom said, "No freakin' way! She's my turkey baby and that's how it's gonna stay!"5
And if your parent are like most parents, they couldn't agree so you had two birthdays.
And that means if you've had two birthdays every years for what?, the past thirty years or so,6 even though in their eyes you're sixty,7 really you're only fifteen.8
Damn, all this thinking about math and seein' how good I am at it makes me wish I had been an astrologist.9
So happy birthday!
Now let's make something of this year!"
1 I wasn't born on turkey day.
2 Pa? What is this--Little House on the Prairie?
3 Martin Luther King day wasn't established until 1983. Though it pains me to admit it, I am older than 26.
4 No, it doesn't.
5 I must point out that Dave has never met my mother or father.
6 Close enough.
7 SIXTY?!!! What happened to THIRTY?
8 The mad math skills just blow my mind...
9 Hmm, humorist maybe. Otherwise, don't quit your day job!

Speaking of family, yesterday I received a card ("You're not getting old...Hell, you were old last year!") from James. Via Express Mail. Since he bagged out on Christmas, I guess he really didn't want to miss my birthday, too. Enclosed was a check for $200 with an admonition in the memo field "Presents only!" In his inimitable scrawl he wrote:
"Happy Birthday Sis!!!

From your sucky brother James. I certainly don't set out to be inconsiderate some how it just finds me. Any way I love you, and I miss you and I look forward to seeing you again soon.
PLEASE!!! The check was not intended to be impersonal I really just wanted you to have what you really desired. If I could, I would take you T.V. shopping. But please get what you really want and tell me how wonderful I am later.

NO BILL PAYING!"
Well, okay then. I've got the perfect plan for the $200. Once Laurie gets the flash designed, James will be footing the bill for my next tattoo.

My friend John called me to wish me a happy birthday last night. My brother David IM'd birthday greetings this morning. And I've had dozens of people wishing me a Happy Birthday via Facebook.

With one notable exception. It's the same person who ignored my birthday last year. And someone to whom I've always been available to provide assistance. Including a $@#%load of 24/7 free tech support.

Ah well. Hope someone isn't in need of tech support anytime soon. I'll be taking some time off--to celebrate my birthday!

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Office - Duel

My TV Guide said Ugly Betty would be on at 8 pm. So I rushed home, scarfed down dinner, raced to the gym and did an abbreviated version of my workout just so I could get home in time to watch...

Scrubs.

Hello? TV Guide People! Some people actually schedule their lives around their favorite programs so get your schedule right!

Obviously I really need to get TiVo.

What I did get to watch was the inevitable showdown between Dwight and Andy on The Office.

Seventeen days and still clueless about Angela's affair with Dwight? Poor Andy. Michael takes it upon himself to break the news to him--in a long drawn out way as they walk to Michael's car. As Michael drives off for a meeting with David Wallace at corporate, he tells Andy that Angela is having an affair with Dwight.

Andy confronts Angela asking her "Are you sleeping with Dwight?"

"A little bit," Angela replies.

Meanwhile, Michael is meeting with David Wallace who tells him in the face of the economic downturn, the Scranton branch is doing well. Better than all the other branches as a matter of fact. Mystified by this, Wallace asks Michael, "What are you doing right?"

This leads Michael to the same circuitous and tortuous explanation that he did previously with Andy. "An improv conversation...an improversation" is how Michael describes it.

Back at the office, Andy and Dwight agree to duel and Angela agrees to abide by whomever wins.

"I've had two men fight over me before. Usually it's over who gets to hold the camcorder," boasts Meredith.

"I can't believe that they're going to fight over me!" exclaims Angela.

"I guess people have fewer choices as they get older," shrugs Kelly.

In the parking lot, Andy distracts Dwight by pinning a note to the wall. As Dwight stands reading the note, Andy sneaks up in his Prius and pins between it and the fence.

You go, Andy!

As the two argue, Dwight realizes that Angela lied to him as well when she told him she was only sleeping with him.

They two return to the office. Andy calls and cancels the wedding cake. Dwight disposes the bobble-head Angela gave him into the trash.

So there were no winners, but one loser.

Angela.

If you missed the episode, you can catch it at CastTV.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Ellin LaVar Leave-In Penetrating Balm

You would think that my Mia Farrow circa Rosemary's Baby haircut would be no hassle at all.

You would be wrong.

Even chopped into submission, my hair has a tendency towards frizz and fly-aways. Imagine my surprise when I found a miracle product that does double duty--a balm that both conditions my hair and acts as a styling product.

Loaded with exotic and nourishing ingredients like Brazil Nut Oil, Pequi Oil, Cupuaçú Seed Butter, Maracuja Passion Fruit Emollient, Grape Seed Procyandins and Tocopherols, Ellin LaVar Penetrating Balm makes my hair soft and shiny and easy to style.

Even better, the salon quality product is a bargain. At less than $8, you probably spend more tipping the shampoo girl!

You can find the full line of Ellin LaVar Textures as your local CVS.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Easy Animal Rights Activism!

Whether it's a love of puppies, elephants or polar bears--or all three and then some--I've got an easy way to show solidarity with our furry friends:

Anti-Records has released a free download of People Got A Lotta Nerve, the first single from Neko Case's new album Middle Cyclone, and for every blog that posts the song and iLike user who adds it to his/her profile, Neko Case and Anti-Records will make a donation benefiting Best Friends Animal Society.

The promotion will run from January 14 to February 3, 2009. Five dollars will be donated for every blog post and one dollar for every user of iLike that adds the song to his/her profile. So, if you have a blog, post it--or if you're a Facebook user, add it to your profile. It's an easy and painless way to support a good cause.


Celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2009, Best Friends Animal Society is one of America's foremost animal rescue organizations. Best Friends advances nationwide animal welfare initiatives by working with shelter and rescue groups around the country. On any given day Best Friends Animal Sanctuary (the nation's largest facility for abused, abandoned and special needs companion animals located in southwestern Utah) is home to approximately 2,000 dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, birds, and other animals. The society also publishes Best Friends magazine, the nation's largest general interest, pet-related magazine with approximately 300,000 subscribers.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

She Don't Use Jelly - The Flaming Lips

Since receiving an iTunes gift card from David and Crystal for Christmas, I've been making a list of songs I want to download. This song came on the radio while I was out with Laurie and Dennis this weekend and immediately the silly lyrics caught my ear and made me giggle.

It's definitely on the list now.



She Don't Use Jelly

I know a girl who thinks of ghosts
She'll make ya breakfast
She'll make ya toast
She don't use butter
She don't use cheese
She don't use jelly
Or any of these
She uses vaseline
Vaseline
Vaseline

I know a guy who goes to shows
When he's at home and he blows his nose
He don't use tissues or his sleeve
He don't use napkins or any of these
He uses magazines
Magazines
Magazines
Magazines
Magazines

I know a girl who reminds me of Cher
(reminds me of Cher)
She's always changing
(she's always changing)
The color of her hair
(color of her hair)
She don't use nothing
That ya buy at the store
She likes her hair to be real orange
She uses tangerines
Tangerines
Tangerines
Tangerines
Tangerines
Tangerines

Monday, January 12, 2009

Desperate Housewives - Connect! Connect!

As the episode title suggests, last night's Desperate Housewives was all about connecting:

Edie and Susan, and Bree and Alex, and Lynnette and her mother, and Gabby and her kids.

That's a lot of connecting.

The episode started with a disconnection picking up with where last week's story ended--Dave walking down Wisteria Lane, suitcases in hand after being thrown out by Edie.

Who WALKS to a hotel? I mean--REALLY!

I'm sure the writers were stuck with coming up with a way for Dave's path to cross with Mike Delfino, who offers to let Dave stay with him after hearing about his fight with Edie.

But seriously, who WALKS to a hotel? Especially given how few hotels would actually be in walking distance in surburbia...

The women all gather to support Edie in her time of need. Edie isn't upset that Dave was married before, but that he neglected to mention it--especially after she laid her entire life out for him. "Emphasis on the word LAID," snarks Gaby.

But everyone is distracted from commiserating with poor Edie when Susan announces that she needs Edie to put her house on the market because she's moving in with Jackson. This puts Edie in a snit which complicates matters when she and Susan are accidentally locked in the basement of the house Andrew and Alex are moving in to.

This was at least more believably handled than Dave's exodus to a hotel à pied.

Although Susan's reaction to Edie's bruised ego was more a bit out of character: "I thought we gave your latest breakup the three seconds it deserved." Okay, Mayer--taking Edie lessons?

While trapped together, Edie dissects Susan's relationship history to prove her point that Susan is incapable of being without a man. Susan counters with the fact that Edie has probably been with over a thousand men. "Okay--I enjoyed the 80s!" Edie shrugs.

Edie reveals to Susan that when she was young, her father left her mother--and stole her horse figurine collection to give to his new girlfriend's little girl. Of course, this story makes Susan weepy--but as she tries to sympathize, Edie slaps her. So Susan pushes Edie, causing her to topple into a bunch of boxes and hurt herself.

The two are finally rescued when the exterminator shows up to check the rat traps. Edie tells Susan if she ever repeats the story about the horse collection, she will kill her.

That I'd like to see...

The time spent trapped in the basement not only forges a bond between the two rivals, but causes Edie to re-evaluate her relationship with Dave--asking him to come back home, and Susan to re-evaluate her relationship with Jackson--choosing to be alone in Fairview over moving to be with Jackson.

Another relationship underwent a re-evaluation during the episode: Bree was called on her behavior by her future son-in-law, Alex--who accuses her of emasculating Orson. This escalates into a power struggle between the two which culminates in Alex telling Bree that he's not interested in her generous gift of a house for him and Andrew.

Bree tries to get Andrew to run interference but Andrew tells her that Alex is not her husband or son or employee. "Not everyone has to listen to you," he explains to his flummoxed mother. Bree finally realizes that her bossiness due to her business is getting out of control. "I need someone to call me out..." she tells Alex and offers him that job.

Bree's not the only housewife dealing with "listening" problems: Gaby can't get Celia and Juanita to obey her when Carlos leaves for a business trip. At her wits end, the handyman gives her some advice, "Fear is the foundation of all good parenting."

When Carlos arrives back home, he finds the girls doing all sorts of chores. He's thrilled that they're helping their mommy, until Juanita explains that their motivation was because "The scary man told us we had to."

A bit of motherly manipulation in the Scavo household as well. When one of Stella's nursing home neighbors rats her out to Lynnette, Lynnette confronts her mother as to Porter's whereabouts. Angry that her daughter stuck her in the nursing home and rarely visits, Stella refuses to tell Lynnette where Porter is. "The last time I came you threw pudding at me!" says Lynnette defensively.

On her way back from the nursing home, Lynnette is in tears as she talks with Tom (No hands-free laws in Fairview, obviously...) and we are led to believe that Lynnette has been in a car accident. Actually, the cars in front of her collided which led her to think it could have BEEN her in the accident, which led her to come up with the scheme to tell Stella she was in a car accident.

This flushes Porter out of hiding as he and Stella rush to the hospital. Lynnette reveals that it was a trick and convinces him to go to court--just in time to save them from losing their bail bond money and the restaurant. She also mends fences with Stella tellling her that if she behaves better, she'll visit more often and even bring the kids.

Finally, while separated briefly from Edie, Dave finalizes his revenge on Mike. Have you figured it out? My guess is that Dave plans to take someone Mike loves away from him, the way he believes Mike took what he loved (his wife Lila and daughter Paige) away from him. And that someone would be Katherine.

Dave witnessed Katherine testing the waters with Mike when she told him how Dylan wanted her to move to Baltimore to be closer to her and her grandkid. Mike's non-commital response upsets her and causes Dave to believe that Mike is still in love with Susan.

But later, Mike admits that he's falling in love with Katherine (I'm guessing the writers think it'd be easier to write Dana Delaney out of the show than Teri Hatcher. Bummer...). He even sends her a huge bouquet of red roses with a note that reads "Don't Go."

Ah--but if Dave has anything to say about it, the lovely Katherine will indeed be leaving Wisteria Lane and Mike's life.

Permanently.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Wicked

I finally got to see Wicked at the Pantages yesterday. (I know Esther's probably rolling her eyes thinking, "It's 2009 and you hadn't seen Wicked YET?!!!) My book club read Gregory Maguire's book back in 2004 and we were stoked to go see the musical coming soon to the Pantages--but never got around to it.

Tonight is Wicked's final performance at the Pantages--it moves up to San Francisco for a year or two. And my sister Laurie and brother-in-law Dennis are in Los Angeles to supervise the move! That seemed like as good an excuse as any to finally catch the hit musical before it left L.A. once more.

The Pantages Theatre is this old gorgeous art deco theater where, if what's on stage isn't keeping your interest, you can be mesmerized by the ornate ceiling. Thanks to my sister's connections, we were able to score great seats--just ten rows back from the stage. I think the balcony would have given us a better perspective of the spectacle, but (except for the idiot "lovebirds" in front of me who were leaning into each other and blocking my sight line...) we had a great view of the stage.

Eden Espinosa and Megan Hilty, who originated the roles of Elphaba and Glinda in the Los Angeles production of Wicked were on hand to close out the L.A. run of the show. Dennis informed us that we were in for a treat with Espinosa, who--other than Idina Menzel who originated the role--was the best of the actresses who had performed the roloe of Elphaba. He wasn't kidding. Espinosa's voice was wonderful. Clear, crisp and strong--she enunciated so well it made the complex lyrics easily understandable.

Hilty also did an outstanding job although her part in the opening number "No One Mourns the Wicked" was overshadowed by the chorus. I've never seen Kristin Chenoweth's portrayal of Glinda, but from watching her as Olive Snook on Pushing Daisies and then seeing Hilty's performance, it's easy to see how Chenoweth defined the role of the Good Witch of the North. Hilty's portrayal of Glinda seemed to be a lot of Kristin Chenoweth--with a bit of Kristen Wiig thrown in for good measure in my opinion...

The Los Angeles production also featured Carol Kane in the role of Madame Morrible and she was exceptional. For those of you wondering where Latka Gravas' SO ended up, there's your answer!

The musical is not quite as dark as the book and is quite funny at times. It ties in more of the standard mythology from the movie version than did the book and, in typical Broadway musical fashion, has a happy ending that the book did not. I guess that's to be expected--you want people to leave the theater humming the score, not sobbing and depressed. Although, the score and songs aren't quite as "catchy" as something from a Lloyd Webber production...

(I don't quite understand, however, how you can depict a magical land with animals who talk and monkeys that fly and wizards and witches--good and bad--and yet a green girl is considered "weird"...)

The set was stunning. After the show, Laurie and Dennis took us backstage to look around. We got to see the amazing wardrobe up close. The details of each costume were exquisite! Laurie said they cost thousands of dollars apiece. We peered into the orchestra pit and Dennis showed us the trapdoor where Elphaba reappears after "melting" and all the wiring and such that goes into making a magical musical.

It was a wicked good time!