February 27, 2006

Catching up on 3 shows

Well the Olympics are over, and I confess I skipped the closing ceremonies. They're never as exciting as the openers, and I heard it was just going to be a Cirque de Soleil-type thing anyway. Thus it's time for me to return to my analysis of other items in entertainment. So today we catch up on non-Olympic TV.

Last night was the Dancing with the Stars finale. I was so pleased with this season. Despite some bumps in the road (I'm looking at you, Master P) it was such fun. I was not at all surprised to see Stacy end up third - their free dance on Thursday was a colossal mistake - very dull and uninspired. So it came down to a matter of charm vs. showmanship. Drew was clearly the better dancer, but could he sell it? Ultimately, he did, and I say great for him. Maybe he can help us forget the Nick & Jessica era in the Lachey clan. Myself, I voted for Jerry and Ana. I just think he had to work much harder, he was so incredibly pleasant, and his partner was awesome (I predict she makes a new life as a Russian-American comedienne). But my favorite dance all season remains Tia Carrere's tango. HOT.

After that was a new episode of Grey's Anatomy, which has easily become one of my favorite shows. (I actually cancelled my TiVo season pass to Desperate Housewives.) This week was awesome because Bailey was in it, and she was both mean and nice, which is why she rocks. There was also some kick-ass work by Kate Walsh as Addison, who has grown on me immensely. I really want her to hang around (and for Meredith to drop dead). George - go grab that Latina cutie - she has big bazooms!

Finally it's time for me to talk about what's shaping up for the Project Runway finale. Wasn't the reunion fun? The Andrae montage was priceless. And I'm glad that Chloe called out Santino for being such a dick, particularly to Diana. But my main beef - Zulema is a first-rate bitch. Not only was she standoffish - but check out her attitude in these video clips on the website (you need Internet Explorer to view them). What the hell is her problem?

Anywho - prediction time. My gut tells me that something disastrous is going to happen to either Daniel or Chloe. That person will come in third, and the other will win. Santino will end up in second, because he will do something wildly creative, but not wearable enough to take it all. If I had to place a bet in Vegas, I'd put it on Chloe to win. She'd be my choice. Danny has been really great and I adore him, but Ms. Dao stole my heart in like week 1.

Part 1 of the finale airs Wednesday - don't miss it! (And don't miss Lost - I'm fairly bursting to find out what happened when Claire was kidnapped!)

February 24, 2006

Freefallin' - a manifesto

Well of course I'm full of opinions about last night's ladies' free skate. Heck, I was up until 2:30 watching it on TiVo. And I've read various opinions out there, and I'm getting a little frustrated. So what follows is my mini-manifesto on the Torino Olympics. Please don't anyone think this is a personal attack - just sharing my opinions. (And it's my blog, so I'll say whatever I damn well please.)

I feel like all I've been hearing lately is how much of a "failure" the US athletes have been, including the skaters. How could Sasha Cohen fall? How dare Jeret Peterson put his hand down on his aerial landing? Chad Hendrick lost a gold medal!

Quite simply - wake up and get real.

First of all, the US performance at these games has hardly been a disappointment. Joey Cheek rocked the rink. Seth Westcott got a host of new fans to Snowboardcross. Men and women took a slew of medals in the halfpipe. And our women took the silver in the Bobsled.

If we were living in Turkey and those were our athletes, the whole country would shut down for a mass party. (I'm sure the lovely Tugba Karademir would agree.)

The Olympics are not about winning or losing - they're about competition, good will and trying your best. And sometimes your best isn't good enough.

Secondly - shit happens. Sasha was sporting a possible groin injury and had a wrapped leg. It's a miracle she landed ANY of her jumps. Jeret did drop a hand, but he also landed the first quintuple twisting move in Olympic history. Nobody's perfect - that's why sports are exciting. (I can't believe I just said that as a gay man, but...there it is.)

Point the third - I know our American pride swells at Olympic time, but it's also a time to enjoy competitors from other countries doing well. Let's not get all Amero-centric on the world.

OK, that's it. THAT BEING SAID...the ladies' free skate was a bit of a letdown. I had hoped Sasha would rock it like she did the short program. And Shizuka Arakawa won with a clean performance that was safe and a tad dull. Actually the most fun all night for me came from Italian skater Silvia Fontana, who put her heart and soul into her performance for the hometown crowd. It was really beautiful to see.

Ah well - we can always hope that this flawed scoring system will get revamped. Maybe someday there will be a figure skating renaissance, and we can thrill to the likes of Surya Bonaly and Midori Ito once again.


As proof that I really am a dancer...

I know this is very last minute, but I haven’t had the details for long.

If you’re interested, my dance partner and I will be performing our duet “Between the Lines” as a part of the Tappening concert this weekend at Dance Place. You can get all the details here.

If you haven’t seen them, Tappening is a really amazing rhythm tap group, and they’ve been friends of ours for years. (For those that are a bit tired of all the moody modern dance you usually see me in, this should be more fun.)

If you need help with directions or anything, let me know!

February 22, 2006

My favorite moment of the bee

So I imagine there are one or two of you out there who are not watching the Olympics, could care less, and can't wait until they're over. If so, I'm adding this extra post just for you!

Several months ago, (might have been after the Tonys, I can't recall) the SNU brought home a new Broadway cast album. This was for The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. The musical is by William Lapine, who created Falsettos. When I first borrowed it, I was very "Meh" about it.

But then more recently he put it in the car stereo's CD rotation (dangerous, considering the same CD got trapped when our previous stereo shorted out). So I listened a bit more on some longer drives, and got intrigued. As I really concentrated on the lyrics (which pretty much tell the whole story), I got sucked in.

Now it's on my iTunes and I'm listening to it twice daily. Check it out!

The best part is without question "The I Love You Song" which is a dynamic trio between the lead girl and her parents. As the SNU said to me, a good trio is hard to pull off. But this one really works. It's...C-H-I-M-E-R-C-A-L.

Figure Eight is Double Four

Well as DCFoodBlog pointed out, last night the lady ice skaters took main stage.

What first struck me was how young these girls seemed to be. Like gymnasts, they seem to get younger every year. Remember when Debbie Thomas skated in the late 80s? I swear she was in her late 20s. Now we have tweens!

Anywho, this was the short program, which puts more emphasis on technical elements, less on artistry. But there were some nice moments.

First I enjoyed the American pixie Kimmie Meissner, who although tiny, pulled off a triple-triple combination, which put her in top tier for the finals. She's from Bel Air, Maryland - right around the corner!

Then I liked Fumie Siguri from Japan. She was not as powerful in her jumping, but she had a lovely lyrical quality to her skating, not to mention an adorable smile. But she KICKED ASS when she was skating off to get her scores - someone threw a stuffed animal from the upper bleachers, and she caught it! It was awesome. She will be the first skater turned softball player in history.

I'm sure the media pressure has to be tough on Emily Hughes - she's the alternate who came in to replace Michelle Kwan, and she has a gold medal-winning sister. But she really did quite well, and landed in seventh place, which is damn good.

Oh Irina. Why are you so angry? But seriously, the Russian was very strong, and had a real "don't fuck with me" attitude to her skating. If she loses the gold, it will be because she pushed to hard - mark my words.

The evening ended with Sasha Cohen, who we know makes questionable choices in life - I mean, the girl picked Zulema's dress on Project Runway! But apparently she sensed my criticism and was AWESOME, landing each jump with military precision. She has the tiniest lead on Slutskaya, which sets up what should be the best night of skating for this Olympics. I can hardly wait!

And final comment - shut up, Dick Button.

I should be mad that Lost is a rerun tonight, but there is the premiere of Project Jay, so I'm content.

February 21, 2006

The rare Triple Axel - Triple Rant combination

So for today's Olympic wrap-up, I have a 3-part rant. Bear with me.

Item the first

What has always bugged me in Olympic coverage, but particularly this year, is how the media builds up one or two "superstars." These are generally just athletes who have won some events in other places, and are entered in multiple events now. "How many medals will he/she win?" Well first of all, most athletes specialize in just one event. They may compete in others, but not be as strong. It's just a big set-up for failure, which inevitably happens, not to mention feeding the person's ego. Remember Michael Phelps from the Athens games? Now it's all about Bode Miller. First the big build-up, now all we hear is what a "failure" he is. You think maybe he's not doing well because he's entered in FIVE EVENTS? Lay off, Bob Costas.

Item the second

Ice dancing has been rather dull, but I did watch the final competition last night. And in it, I was apalled to see Galit Chait and Sergei Sakhnovski from Israel performing to Ravel's Bolero. Now for the uninitiated, let me tell you - NO ONE does Bolero. You do not fuck with that, people. Why? Because it was done to PERFECTION in Sarajevo by the incomparable Torvill and Dean. I consider that dance to be the greatest thing to ever happen on ice. (TV Guide only placed Eric Heiden's sweep as a bigger event.) If you're going to pull that shit, you'd better be so amazing that people momentarily forget the original. And what they gave us was a lackluster performance. HATE. (If you want to see the real enchilada, this video is from Lillehammer, where T&D reprised their famous duet as an exhibition, 10 years after the original. They may be older, but they still are bursting with passion.)

Item the third

Bad commercials are bad, but when they are an Olympic sponsor you have to see them over and over. I have such hate for those stupid VW "my fast" commercials, which appear to be nothing more than advertisements about when to break up with your boyfriend. Not to mention the McDonald's commercials where people talk to an inanimate Ronald - it's bordering on being as creepy as the Burger King giant head.

Up this week, we have more Bobsled, women's Figure Skating, and the final matches in Curling. I'm excited!

February 19, 2006

Full contact fun

As I believe Dave mentioned, the most exciting event to happen to the Olympics in years is one that I never would have anticipated enjoying so much. I give you...Snowboard Cross!

In essence, it's a twisty hilly downhill course, where four snowboarders go down simultaneously - first to the finish wins. Some contact is allowed (like pushing someone out of the way), but more aggressive behavior (pulling someone's jacket) is not.

I know that description doesn't do it justice - you really have to see it to believe it. And it's drawn some amazing crossover appeal - I loved it, my mom loved it, and the media is just eating it up. An American won the men's event - Seth Westcott.

And a woman from the USA (Lindsey Jacobellis) would have won as well, but when she had a huge lead at the end, she decided to be a dumbass show-off, did a little trick on the last hill, and fell. So the Swiss boarder, Tanja Frieden (who happens to be Westcott's girlfriend) sailed in to take the gold. Again I say - dumbass.

It's hard to find any free video, but try this one for a quick example of what this sport looks like. Enjoy!

February 16, 2006

I am agog, I am aghast

Today I was watching my morning program of choice, Good Morning America. And my favorite anchor, Robin Roberts, reported on a shocking news item.

There is no women's Ski Jump event at the Olympics. Why? Simple male chauvinism. The Ski Federation determined that it was "too dangerous" for women, despite the fact that several women competing in the sport actually outperform their male counterparts.

How incredibly archaic! What is this the 18th century?

Pardon me while I go fetch my butter churn.

February 15, 2006

Ligety split

I just had to use that as a post title, because it's an awesome nickname.

So cheers to Ted Ligety for coming all the way from 32nd place to WIN the men's combined skiing event last night! (And allowing us not to dwell on Bode Miller's disqualification. But Bode is still hot, over-hyped media blitz aside.)

But I have to say, this picture is so very gay. I believe it's actually a publicity shot for the upcoming pornographic film entitled "Snowplowing."

Memo to ABC executives

TO: ABC Executives

FROM: A concerned viewer

RE: Commander In Chief

It is with great sadness and frustration that I write to you about my favorite new show of the season. For no reason other than "we're short a few episodes," you have banished this wonderful show to hiatus limbo for many weeks. What gives?

OK, so maybe CIC isn't pulling in the ratings it did at the start of the season. But it's up against AMERICAN IDOL. That behemoth can not be stopped. So quit trying. The only thing you have even remotely poised to challenge it is your Sunday night line-up, and you know you're not moving that.

How do you people expect a new show to find and secure a loyal audience when you take it off the air for weeks at a time? That's precisely how Fox killed Arrested Development, another great show.

So I implore you to get this show back on the air immediately, and give it all the love and care it deserves. Because if it gets cancelled, you only have yourselves to blame for its "failure." Don't fuck with me, ABC. Ask CBS about the horse's head they got after yanking Joan of Arcadia.

The agony of da feet?

So we're a few days into the Winter Olympics, and of course I've been watching countless hours of coverage. It's a tad jarring, as I never watch NBC anymore, and suddenly I'm seeing commercials for Las Vegas, and I'm like, "Is that still on the air?"

Ya know, I am proud to be an American, but it seems like the Olympics are the one time we all feel it more acutely. So I cheered on our American teenagers as they tore up the half-pipe in Snowboarding. I marveled at the abilities of adorable Chad Hedrick and Joey Cheek as they took home gold medals in Speed Skating. And I got a tad depressed when Tony Benshoof got edged out for a medal in the Luge. I will not, however, break into "Proud to be an American." I promise. But I am feeling patriotic, so here's an American flag for you to sing to:

The Luge. I fucking LOVE the Luge. It's without question my favorite Olympic event. How fantastic to watch a man hurtling down an icy track at speeds of 90 mph with only a 4 inch sled beneath him. Awesome! And what's hotter than Men's Luge? Double Men's Luge! Hurtling at that speed laying on another guy's soft goods!

What's been most shocking are the severe injuries and falls all over the place. Two female alpine skiiers tumbled down the mountain like an avalanche. And then a very disturbing fall for China's Zhang Dan, as she landed on her knees coming out of a throw. The woman is clearly in severe pain, and they stop. It's over. So sad. But no! She says she still wants to compete, and they try their best. A few breathtaking moments later, they secure the silver medal. THAT is why the Olympics are fantastic. Power of the human spirit, baby.

February 11, 2006

Rated G for "Golly, that's cheesy!"

So today I've been watching Return from Witch Mountain. It's the sequel to an older live-action Disney flick called Escape to Witch Mountain. I watched them both frequently as a kid. They are cheesy (MAN are they cheesy), but they feature a brother & sister with superpowers of molecular control. Kids with powers are AWESOME.

It's been fun to relive the cheese of Tia & Tony. And to watch the supporting characters - Uncle Jesse of Dukes of Hazzard, and Bette Davis. Yes, that's right. Bette Davis. (She was in another creepy Disney film called The Watcher in the Woods.)

What were they thinking?

I admit I was completely baffled by last night's Opening Ceremonies for the Olympics. I was underwhelmed, to say the least.

The only cool part was the people forming a giant skiier.

But what was with the skating pine trees? And were there really people ballroom dancing in cow prints??? Suddenly I was missing the flying guy at the Athens ceremony.

A highlight for me was watching for the 8 African nations in the parade of countries. I mean, how cool is it to see an alpine skiier from Senegal? AWESOME!

February 10, 2006

Dress You Up (In My Love)

This is a very interesting article on CNN today. It not only explains why I love Danny V, but hopefully will help put pressure on designers to give us good fashion at affordable prices! (Of course, I'm now ashamed that I'm in a sweater and jeans today. But it is Friday - come on.)

Is there a 12-step program for this?

This will come as a shocker, but I'm not a sports fan. For the uneducated, sports are not a real fascination for "the gay."

But I confess that there is one sporting event that makes me quiver like a Jell-O salad. It's the Olympics.

Yes, every four years (or now, thankfully every two years), I become a complete sports junkie. I will sit in front of the TV for hours watching every sport imaginable. Rhythmic Gymnastics? You twirl that ribbon! Curling? Bring out the brooms! Biathlon? (Who the hell invented that sport anyway? Oh - it appears it's been around for ages. Who knew?)

My most embarassing moment was during the Atlanta Summer Olympics in 1996. At the time I was in college, and thus had far too much free time. Since we were getting tons of coverage in the U.S., I would tape absolutely everything - and watch the daytime broadcast during the commercials in the evening. Seriously - it's an addiction. I have a problem!

So I can hardly wait for the opening ceremonies tonight. And soon...very soon...the Luge. I love the Luge. It is by far the coolest sport EVER. I would love to try it some day. But no way in hell you'll catch me doing the Skeleton. That shit is scary.

(I love that this picture is cropped, so it appears that our daring rider is a bit of a whore.)

Hating on you

I don't know if any of you visit there, but one of my favorite websites has always been Television Without Pity. They skewer TV shows with scathing recaps of favorites, with a healthy dose of intelligence. I used to be a demon posting on the forums, but nowadays I just read a few recaps.

Last night I realized how much their style has entered my vocabulary. I told the SNU about the frequent use of "HATE." Basically if there is a person/character on a show that the recapper detests so much they have no words, the word is used like that. Example - Wendy from Season 1 of Project Runway. She got a lot of "HATE."

So at the Kennedy Center, there's this bitch who decides 5 minutes before curtain that no one is in these seats in front of us (which are only like 4 seats away from her actual seats). She sits there. But of course the real seat owners show up just 2 minutes later. That woman? HATE.

His thumb is green, but her nose is in everyone's business

(I'm catching up on a lot of material in the next few posts, so bear with me. In an effort to blog more regularly, expect to see more frequent posts with less long-winded commentary, peppered with an occasional long review. I hope you enjoy the new format - let me know what you think!)

The Constant Gardener - I know I never posted a review. Basically it's an interesting movie with a mystery at its center. It starts slow, but really gets going in the middle. Rachel Weisz is indeed quite good, but I admit I'd rather see Catherine Keener or Michelle Williams take home the Oscar. But if Rachel wins, I won't be disappointed. As long as someone doesn't cover her face in mascara like she was at the Globes!

On a side note, I finally figured out where I know Amy Adams - she played Leslie, the blond bimbette cheerleader in Drop Dead Gorgeous. Just for being in that movie, I now adore her. What? You haven't seen it? GO OUT AND RENT IT!

February 01, 2006

Pimpin' those hos

As promised, last night the SNU and I passed on a grandstanding speech of nonsense and instead turned our attention to the DVD of Hustle & Flow.

On the surface, it appears to be a movie about pimps, whores and rappers. But no! It's really a tale about following your dream, at any cost.

I admit that on the whole the movie isn't great - I mean, we're talking about a production from MTV Films, which has brought us such chestnuts as Varsity Blues. But there are a few things that stand out here, and make it worth renting.

The obvious is Oscar-nominated Terrence Howard in the lead. He's really just good at no matter what he does - this time playing a Tennessee pimp who dreams of a different, better life. He has this blended Southern/urban accent which is interesting, and those damn blue eyes that get me every time. Oh, and did I mention he raps? And rather well?

Another bright spot is the music itself - the crux of the film is a demo tape that D-Jay (Howard's character) is trying to cut in an effort to hit it big. They come up with a very catch song with a good "hook" called "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp." Yes, that's right. The way-classy lyrics include:

You know it's hard out here for a pimp
When he tryin to get this money for the rent
For the Cadillacs and gas money spent
Will have a whole lot of bitches jumpin ship

You may say to me, "What? You're seriously listening to this song?" But I have to tell you it's DAMN addictive, and well-done. I'm completely dismayed that it is not available on iTunes, and may have to break down and buy the album just for that song. (Although "Whoop That Trick" was pretty fun, too.)

The last thing I really enjoyed was D-Jay's lead hooker, Shug, who is now pregnant. She's pretty meek, and clearly feels something strong for D-Jay. She comes alive when she sings the crucial piece of music they need. The great actress in the role is Taraji P. Henson, who was getting some Oscar buzz at one point.

Ludacris shows up in this film - the second one I've seen him in this year (he was also in Crash). He's almost unrecognizable at first!

So should you rent this? I say yes - it's different, it's fun and I think you'll enjoy it. It won't make your top 10 list for the year, but you'll giggle when you see Nola the ho really "take charge." I could hardly contain myself.

Next stop - The Constant Gardener. Stay tuned for my review!