May 31, 2006

Grey matter

Now that you've had a little time and distance, are you ready for some discussion about Grey's Anatomy?

The finale started strong, but fizzled out a bit for my tastes. Still, it's a terrific show, and I shall dutifully follow it to Thursday nights this fall. (So much for yoga that night?) Why don't we check in on each of our main characters - shall we?

Meredith - Who will she choose? McDreamy or the Virile Vet? Well considering she screwed Derek, I think we know where this is going. Don't forget she forgot those black panties - $10 says it comes back to haunt her!

Derek - Speaking of which - what the hell IS his problem? If you're so clearly in love with Meredith, why lead on your wife? She cheated on you! Perfect opportunity to run for the border.

Addison - Oh, my dear Addison. I truly feel sorry for you. I suggest you dump McDrip (even if he is hot) and go sleep with the dog doctor (who is hotter).

Burke - Eek! Will he ever operate again? My assumption is yes, or what would happen to the show? This was actually a good finale for him, as it brought out all the qualities I love in him.

Christina - Meanwhile we have the world's worst girlfriend (well, 2nd after Meredith). Could she BE any more insensitive? Then again Burke should have realized long ago that she was just in it for the sex. Yang only wants what's good for Yang. And it ain't yin. *rimshot*

Izzy - Oh dear lord, what a mess. I have been over Dead-End Denny's storyline for weeks. Sure, he's hot as hell. But he also lies in a hospital bed all day which is MOST unsexy. Izzy went wacko, and I expect we'll be spending the whole next season watching her clean up her life.

Alex - All hail the King Asshole! C'mon, ya gotta love the jerk.

George - Hooray - he's in love with a woman! But boo - she's a bit crazy? Or is she? All I know is she's got big boobies, and his hair doesn't look like crap anymore.

Bailey - This girl needs some more screentime - stat! But you have to admit that her moment with the prom theme was priceless. Love her!

Chief - You can put on a big show, but we all know you're a big softy. But it was rather shocking to hear that his wife knew about the affair for years, don't you think? Well at least I was surprised.

Anxious to hear what y'all think. Coming up next, a discussion on Lost - how it ended, and what we have coming up in season 3!

May 28, 2006

Hey, it wasn't that amazing

So let's have a brief rundown of The Amazing Race season finale, shall we? WARNING - I'm going to be very opinionated and you might not agree with me. Comments are welcome!

1. Like several finales in the past, the teams managed to stay so close to each other that it really all came down to one challenge. That's right - 1 hour and 45 minutes of build-up that's all for naught. But you can't really blame the producers much for that.

2. The final challenge - knowing country flags. Really? Are you kidding me? It was almost as lame as the totem pole challenge that ended season 3. Boo! (And who knew the hardest one for them would be Russia?)

3. I was a little astounded to find out that I was hoping that BJ would screw up. Which means Eric & Jeremy would have won. I know! I was confused. I guess it was that I knew I wasn't really going to be happy either way. Which leads me to my next point...

4. What the heck was Ray & Yolanda's problem? Every time they'd leave at the same time, R & Y would end up behind. Bad map-reading? Asking for directions too many times? Who knows - their poor performance in the final leg will forever remain a mystery.

5. When the hippies won, was I the only one that thought BJ looked a little psychotic? Like he might have been having an out-of-body experience? Weird.

On the whole I found the finale to be rather dull and obviously I wasn't happy with how it ended. I've declared it the worst ending to a good season since the show started. Hopefully things will improve next season. You can do it CBS! Give us a good cast and good drama all the way to the end.

The good news? CBS has moved TAR to Sundays this fall. That will relieve a lot of my Wednesday night crunch, and considering Grey's Anatomy is moving also (to Thursdays), I had the night open anyway.

So we'll see each other this fall, when we all hope Phil will not be wearing an ugly sweater and pleated pants!

May 24, 2006

Two beautiful girls, one winner

Hello strangers! I'll bet you thought I'd dropped off the face of the earth. In actuality I've just been so busy that my usual free time (actual and mental) to work on my blog has been non-existent. But the universe is realigning, and it's time for me to play catch-up.

Rest assured in the coming week you will see all the posts you've been waiting for, including discussions about all the season finales like Amazing Race, Grey's Anatomy, Lost and Top Chef. There will also be movie reviews including The Da Vinci Code and X-Men 3. Not to mention some video reviews, and even a book discussion!

But by far the most I've heard from you in the past few days has been, "When will you comment on the Top Model finale?!?!?" Well, faithful readers, the time is now. I will try to leave the ending for the end so as not to spoil anyone who hasn't seen it. (And I'd say that after a week, I can now forego the usual spoiler warning.) Let's go!

When we last left our "models" they had said good-bye to Sara, who was sent back to prowl the mall of Georgetown, telling random strangers that F1. The next morning the girls have breakfast and react to their final 3 situation in the ways you might expect. Joanie is happy for them all, but in fact wants Jade to go home yesterday. Jade acts like she is happy for them all, but in fact thinks that she already is a supermodel. Danielle is focused on her own performance. As a MODEL, you pervs!

Jay arrives in their hotel to reveal that it's time to shoot some ads for Cover Girl (the ultimate winner of the season will have her ads featured in a campaign, as usual). They are each given a script, but the scripts are different. Ooh - a challenge! So the girls all study. And you can probably guess how it's going to turn out.

Next day, commercial time. Joanie tries so hard to show off her new teeth, that she comes off a bit like a parody. But eventually she does well. Just like the commercial weeks ago, Jade can't remember a single line. It's rather hilarious because they put on the screen what she's supposed to be saying, and it's like she's talking in Swahili. So to help her out, they give the bitch CUE CARDS. And still - STILL - she screws up the lines. Finally on the last take she kind-of gets it, but you know they're just happy to be done with her. Up comes Danielle, and of course she is having trouble toning down her accent. She gets nervous and stumbles over her words (but at least she memorized them, JADE). Finally she gets it right, and Jay the Orange Man is impressed.

This is immediately followed by photo shoots which are just head shots. There's not much to say here, as they all do quite well, but again there is the Joanie Is Afraid Of Her Teeth thing.

And it's already time for judging panel! (Hey, the finale was just an hour, so keep up.) I must point out that Tyra is wearing the most hideous outfit - it's sort of pale mauve and it looks like it's attacking her breasts from the sides. Not to mention the hair. Ick! No time for an extra challenge - it's right to the commercials and photos. Jade's commercial and photos get mixed reviews. Jade tries to explain away the commercial ("I'm new at this.") but in an awesome moment she gets the smackdown from TWIGGY of all people, who basically says Jade needs to learn when to stop talking. Amen, my British friend!

Joanie is up, and her picture gets compared to Grace Kelly, which I can almost see. Sadly, Joanie does not know who that is, because the girls on this show have zero knowledge of pop culture that took place before the internet. Miss J picks on her a bit for being too tight in her mouth.

Danielle gets raves for her photo, but the commercial is a split decision. Twiggy wants to see some improvement on the accent. Tyra very rudely says she hates it. Ouch! And also, foreshadowing (I'll explain later).

Three beauties, one photo. Joanie gets hers first. Who goes home? The crazy diva or the country gal? To the relief of America, Danielle gets the photo. Jade does not hug the girls, but saunters out, strikes one last ludicrous pose, and is gone from our lives forever. She interviews that she thinks the judges made a mistake (of course). Jade, how I shall miss you and your f'd up ways. She may be weirder than Britney's parenting skills, but I'll bet the bitch throws a good party.

Final 2! And for once they are friends. They call themselves "ebony and ivory," and they really are just too cute for words. It's nice that two girls from such different backgrounds became such fast mates. They make me think of Heather and Julie way back in season 1 of The Real World.

Fast forward to the final challenge, which as always is a runway show. Both girls will model two outfits each. And in this case the runway is a long winding path that moves through several gazebo-type structures that are out on a pond. It's really the most lovely setting - even the runway is scattered in flower petals. It's all so very Thai, and suddenly I'm craving a nice coconut curry.

The girls do their first walks pretty well. If I had to criticize, I'd say that Danielle needed to look a bit less serious, and Joanie looked at her feet too much. The second outfits are very Native American by-way-of Cher in the video for "Half-Breed." It's not that they look bad - I just thought them odd to be coming from a Thai designer. Anywho, on the final pass by the judges, Danielle offers a sly wink, while Joanie gives a fierce look of determination. The judges ooh and ah, and I'm apalled to find out I'm doing the same thing. Tyra comes "backstage" to congratulate them both.

Final panel! The girls are wearing their final runway outfits, but Tyra has stepped even further into fashion hell by wearing a bizarre turquoise diaphanous dress covered in squiggly gold, and a wacky gold tiara that makes her look like Medusa. Who did she piss off in the Wardrobe Department?

First a review of the girls' portfolios from the season. Which pretty much reminds us that they were both consistently awesome, and the judges have a tough decision to make. Joanie gives a final thank-you for the opportunity and the beautiful new smile. Danielle is grateful for being given this chance of a lifetime, and promises to get voice lessons.

How can the judges decide? They admit that Joanie has a more adaptable look, but Danielle has the better presence. Joanie is a photographer's dream, but Danielle walks the runway like a pro. HOW WILL THEY DECIDE? ARE YOU IN AGONY?!?!?!?

The girls return, and it's time to reveal the winner. The screen reveals it's...Danielle! She screams! Joanie smiles! Everyone cries! Joanie interviews that of course she's a little disappointed, but "the best girl won." And with that, Joanie becomes the most gracious runner-up in reality television history. Danielle is happy, the judges embrace her, and in a flash it's all over.

In the maxims of reality TV, we should have seen this coming. Danielle had a cleary "story arc" all season, and Tyra's constant harangues about her speech were purposely repeated to throw us off the scent. If you've seen previous seasons, you know that Tyra is hardest on those she loves most.

All in all, this was a very satisfying season, with a conclusion that is a good one. I think deep-down I wanted Joanie to win, but I'm perfectly happy it was Danielle, because she's awesome. I expect Joanie will have no trouble getting print work in the future if she wants it.

I hope you enjoyed all this - it's been a trip! My solemn vow is to be back with you next season, although we'll be on that new weird merged network - the CW (whatever the hell that stands for).

Coming soon - a rant on the Amazing Race finale!

May 12, 2006

Just improvise something

I hear there is this free dance performance going on next week - maybe you want to check it out:

It appears to be free. Worth exploring? :)

Oscar clean-up

Finally we're at the time of year where all the films that were up for Oscars are coming to video. So at last I can play catch up and see all those that I had meant to see in theaters. ScottE and I went to the store and rented three of them this week, and I'm happy to report that I'm not upset I waited.

First up was Muderball, the MTV Films documentary about quadraplegic rugby. There was much talk about this being a darkhorse for the Best Documentary Feature category, but I can see why it didn't win. It begins very strong, drawing you into the stories of these guys, and explaining how the sport came about, how it's played, etc. But as the movie progressed, I found that I was less and less drawn into the lives of these men. It's as if the filmmakers couldn't decide if this should be a triumphant sport movie, or a touching movie about people overcoming obstacles.

Don't get me wrong, it was pretty good, and I'm glad I saw it. But I still feel that March of the Penguins was the better film by a longshot.

Next up was Mrs. Henderson Presents, which came strongly recommended by our gay friends. This is "inspired by true events" telling the story of a widow who revitalizes a theater in London by featuring nudity, only to have it come to a crashing halt when the blitz arrives.

The movie was sweet, but a tad light on substance. It was like a good chocolate at Godiva - a delicious treat, but it won't fill you up. The main reason to watch this is Judi Dench, who is amazing as usual. I feel like I could teach a master course in acting just by showing a marathon of her movies. Also you see Bob Hoskins full-frontal naked, if that's any enticement. (What? You say it's not?)

And then last night was Memoirs of a Geisha. This is the film I had most wanted to see in theaters. After seeing it - I regret that a little bit, but not as much. It deserved all the awards it got for costumes, art direction, etc. The one thing that would have been nice on the big screen were all the lovely settings, kimonos, and so forth.

The plot started slow, got very interesting in the middle, and then dragged at the end. (Not unlike the book, as I recall - read it ages ago.) when it ended, I had that, "Really? That's it?" feeling, which is not good.

As for performances, the film is led by three women. Ziyi Zhang as Sayuri was admirable, but nothing special. I've seen her do far more compelling work in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon or House of Flying Daggers. Her mentor Mameha is played by Michelle Yeoh, whom I adore. Heck, I've loved her since she was in that James Bond movie. As always, she's very polished, although she doesn't have a lot to work with in the script.

The real star to me was Gong Li (at right), who plays the wicked rival Hatsumomo. She is deliciously wretched, looking beautiful whether she's composed or on the verge of a breakdown. When Hatsumomo hits rock bottom, her hair is a mess, and yet she looks desperately beautiful. In summary, she kicks ass.

So overall I would say Geisha is worth renting, especially if you enjoy other films of the genre.

May 11, 2006

Oh, just Phuket

*WARNING - this post is a complete recap for the 5/10 episode of America's Next Top Model.*

Ah models - back to their world of vacuous beauty. What silly things will they be up to this week?

When last we left our fair girls, the gangly Furonda had been sent packing. The other person in the bottom 2 was of course Jade, and she's now trying to figure out why she was there. A helpful montage shows us that she's been in the bottom 2 for...well, for about half the season. And yet she still can't figure out why, even though TYRA TELLS HER EVERY WEEK. Wake up, fruitcake! Also, Sara assures us that "she wants this just as much as anyone else." In fact, she will say that so often this episode, that I'm going to abbreviate it as my F1 key. We then see Danielle and Sara in the pool, where Sara is saying F1.

The girls head to a lovely setting to meet a former model-turned-designer, who introduces this week's challenge. The models will be going on "go-sees" around Bangkok. For those who have never seen the show, a go-see is like a model audition. Presumably the model's agent has scored an appointment with the designer. The model arrives with her portfolio, has a few Polaroids taken, does a walk, and tries on a few outfits.

But since they're in Thailand, the woman reminds them that they must follow Thai customs. These include taking off one's shoes before entering the room, making sure to smile, and bringing a small gift. The models can go do as many go-sees as they can handle, but with two restrictions. They must be back to the hotel by 4:30. And they must travel by tuk-tuk. If you haven't seen past seasons of The Amazing Race, then I'll explain that a tuk-tuk is like a motorized pedi-cab. So it's not enclosed, it's small, and it's bumpy. Jade then hilariously says about 50 different names for the vehicle, none of which are correct.

The girls go-see all over the place, and there's not much to report, as it will all be summed up shortly. (The gift buying and giving is totally inconsequential, other than Sara almost leaving her portfolio in the store.) But there is one odd designer that has a lingerie collection that she says is inspired by Alice In Wonderland. So the girls have to model the lingerie...while wearing giant animal heads. No, it doesn't make any more sense if you saw the show! I've included a picture here so you can see what the hell I'm talking about. Also at one place Danielle forgets to take off her shoes first. Riveting! OK, not really. But it gets better. I should note here that it appears the other girls actually ARE intimidated by Jade, which I find just laughable. Are you kidding me? She's nuttier than a Payday candybar!

As the day wraps up, all of the girls underestimate Bangkok traffic in rush hour, and arrive late - Sara and Joanie by about 10 minutes, Danielle by 30. But Ms. Jade? Oh you know she had to be special! She determines to go-see every single designer, and thus arrives a full 75 minutes late. She saunters in with her giant sunglasses like she's the queen of Sheba, and the challenge woman is NOT amused. (And worse, she made the other girls just sit there until Jade arrives.)

Anywho, challenge woman scolds them about being late in as harsh a manner as a soft-spoken Thai woman can. She then gives the reviews she heard from the designers...who are all her friends. (ouch) Joanie - not confident. Danielle - not strong enough. Sara - too stiff. Jade - not friendly. Despite all that, Danielle was deemed the winner, who will receive a bunch of lovely clothes from the designers. BUT - because they were all late, no one actually wins, and the clothes go back. (double ouch)

When the girls return to the hotel, they have Tyra Mail, which uses a pun as bad as my post title. They're going to Phuket, a resort city in southwestern Thailand, right on the Bay of Bengal. Naturally they are giddy with excitement. Off they go!

And when they arrive, they are taken to the bungalow where they will spend the night - right on the beach. The girls admire all the natural beauty, and seriously y'all? It's gorgeous. Like...better than the Caribbean gorgeous. Like maybe better than Hawaii gorgeous. A friendly reminder that Asia is not just full of crowded street markets selling chicken feet.

That night, it is revealed that Joanie is actually more bitter about the Sara Is A Copycat episode than we thought. She bitches about it to Danielle, and says she just feels that Sara doesn't want it as badly - this isn't her dream, she was just discovered by UPN in a mall in Georgetown! Danielle rightly points out that she has to focus on herself and not others to get through this competition. Sara interviews that F1.

Now the weird part - Tyra arrives, basically to remind the girls that in December of 2004, Phuket and other areas in the region were devastated by the tsunami (Was it really that long ago? Wow.) The area in Phuket has now been rebuilt and is thriving once again. She has them hold hands and have a moment of silence. OK, I'm all for being socially-conscious, and recognizing that you're filming in an area that has been marked by tragedy. But this seemed like a wimmpy toss-off idea that Tyra had. If you really wanted to show that, why not have the girls spend a morning helping a charity that helps displaced victims, or talk to some survivors, or something substantial? This twee moment of silence thing just doesn't feel genuine.

But it turns out that this did ring true with Danielle, who is emotional the rest of the day. Maybe it was from hanging around Katrina victim Wendy? (Remember her? No?)

Onto this week's photo shoot, which is a spread for Elle Girl magazine. The girls will model OP swimwear, and fans can download the photos if they have Amp'd Mobile. ENOUGH WITH THE PRODUCT PLACEMENT ALREADY! Also, some "executives" (more likely interns) from the companies will be watching. The photographer will actually be regular judge, Nigel Barker. Because he has a thing for young girls, so a swimwear shoot is right up his alley. (And yet, sleazy as that sounds, I kind of want to share a bungalow with him, if you catch my drift.)

Joanie is first, and struggles against powerful waves and getting cold. Sara can pose well, but her face always looks stiff - finally towards the end Nigel is able to coax her into softening it. Also, she interviews that F1. Danielle is fighting emotion over the Phuket devastation (OK, I get it, but get with the program sister). She has strong poses, but they are more Sports Illustrated than Elle Girl (i.e. legs spread wide). Jade bounces on top of a boat, but finally settles in for strong shots, which makes me hate her even more for being somewhat good.

The girls then fly back to Bangkok and return to their suite. As elimination looms, Sara tells us that F1. So let's move onto the judging, shall we?

Here there is no challenge, the girls will just be faced with not only their swimwear shots, but also the best Polaroids taken during their go-sees. Danielle is first, and her Polaroids are a bit harsh. Her swimwear shot has her legs spread wide, and I question if this would even work for Sports Illustrated. Sara's snapshots are lackluster, but her photo does have a nice soft face. She insists to the judges that F1. Jade took good Polaroids, but she also didn't smile - a key part of Thai model culture. As much as I hate to say it, her swimwear shot is very good. Joanie's snapshots show that her face is her best feature, but sometimes her posture is lacking. Her final photo is fantastic, as usual. Nigel points out that she seems to only have one expression. Hey, if it worked for Derek Zoolander...

Four beautiful women (apparently they have now graduated from "girls"), three photos. Joanie and Jade are safe! Will Danielle and Sara please step forward? Danielle is getting harped on for her speech yet again (although I think the major reason she's in the bottom 2 is her final shot). Sara has improved, but is it too little, too late despite F1? Well if you've been paying attention you know it's obvious that Danielle gets the photo, and Sara is sent packing. Sara leaves, musing on what a crazy experience this has been, considering she just went to the mall to buy a shirt, and now she had F1ed.

Next week! Finale! Three girls do commercials for Cover Girl! Only two girls will compete in the final runway competition! And one will be crowned America's Next! Top! Model! Don't miss it, y'all. It's bound to be a scorcher. (And if Jade somehow wins, so help me God I will move to Thailand.)

Pots and pearls

What a whirlwind Wednesday that whirred by! Let's briefly discuss the events on The Amazing Race and Lost. (We haven't seen the Top Chef reunion yet, so that will come later.) As always, I warn you that this post will contain explicit episode details!

First we had the penultimate episode of TAR, in which the final four was whittled down to those competing in the two-hour finale next week (take note!). Although it didn't turn out quite how I'd hoped, it could have been worse.

Right away the teams head out from down under up to Bangkok, Thailand. Hey - aren't the Top Models there right now? wouldn't it be funny if they ran into each other? Actually that would be bad - Eric & Jeremy would fawn all over Sara in an effort to cover up their gayness. At least it would be funny.

Anywho, the first major "DUH" moment of the episode is when the hippies decided to go out begging when they got to the airport. (You'll remember that BJ currently has no pants or shoes.) Meanwhile the other three teams decide to...I don't know...BOOK FLIGHT RESERVATIONS. You'd think this bone-headed move would doom the hippies, but no - they have the luck of the evil this week. They actually get an earlier flight, so all the teams arrive at the Roadblock in Thailand at the same time. Boo!

Then there was the whole Fast Forward business. Now if you've heard me talk about TAR long enough, you'll know that I miss the old days when there was a FF on every leg. That really made going for it or not a real strategic decision. Now it's more like, "If there's a slight chance we can get it, we're obligated to go for it." So based on position in the race, both the hippies and Ray & Yolanda go for it. But R & Y wisely realize that it's going to take time to eat a bowl of grasshoppers and crickets, so better to go back!

And the final "I can't believe this" moment came from Mojo - they trusted an aggressive cab driver too much, and ended up being screwed out of a good bus departure. My biggest lesson learned from this show - when in a foreign country and asking locals for help, ask a minimum of three people each time, just to be sure!

Monica's lack of mental fortitude really showed this week, as she completely broke down about carrying some stupid clay pots. She reminds me so much of a person from my past who shall remain nameless. Ugh.

So sadness, the hippies scoring the Fast Forward guaranteed them a final 3 spot. Boo! But R & Y made it in, so yay! And of course the frat boys made it, because although they suck, they are good racers. Good bye crying, dysfunctional Mojo!

Meanwhile in the world of Lost, we picked right up with the death of Ana Lucia, who showed up in Eko's dream. And yet so did his brother, Yemi. Intriguing! All of this leads to Eko and Locke discovering the question mark in the middle of Locke's drawing - another hatch! This one is The Pearl, basically a Skinner behavioral psychology observation station. And as we all figured by now, pushing the button is meaningless. Or is it? Also we had another "training video" from Creepy Asian Guy with Arched Eyebrow.

As I suspected, Libby was not in fact dead. For long. Although she wasn't able to get out a warning about Michael, the look on her face when she said his name will later trigger something in the minds of Hurley and Jack. Expect them to be slapping their foreheads when they realize what's happened!

And for those of you who didn't pick up on it, the father of Creepy Not-Dead Girl? Was Claire's psychic! He reveals to Eko that he is not in fact a psychic, but a swindler. So why was he so insistent on Claire going to LA? Why did he pay for it? And why did he insist she be on that flight? Could he have some tie to Dharma or the Hanso Foundation?

This show always sends me reeling with their previews for the next week. It looks like we're in for another episode similar to what we had with Claire earlier in the season, where Michael's flashbacks will reveal where he's been and what happened. Will this finally mark the return of Walt? And what shocking thing are all the survivors looking at?

(And on a sidenote nagging question - what the heck ever happened to Cindy the flight attendant?)

May 08, 2006

50 fingers and 440 keys

This weekend we made a trip to Borders, also known as the money pit for me. So I picked up a few things. One CD was on a whim and I must share it with you. The album is called "No Boundaries" by The 5 Browns.

If you have not heard of them, let me elucidate. The 5 Browns is a group of five siblings, all Julliard-trained in piano. They range in age from 19 - 25, and this is their second release.

They play together, or in smaller groups. And they
have a bright contemporary attitude towards music. Basically they are trying to do for the ivories what Chalotte Church did for opera. (They are all sweet, perky, and cute, which helps.)

Now that sounds blah, but on top of all this, they are GOOD. Super good. And uber fast! It's rather astonishing to hear Gershwin's "Rhapsody In Blue" pounded out on several pianos at once.

True confession - I took 10+ years of piano, and have been playing since I was quite young. I did some competitions, was an accompanist, and played "dinner music" for a university dining room. I just never caught the bug the way these kids have. I still like to play once in awhile. But it's more catharsis than anything else.

To see them in action, check out this clip on NPR. It's a medley of "West Side Story." (Are you listening, Lord & Lady B?)

In the video you'll see a couple things that struck me:

1. Complex music, but no sheet music! I wish I could memorize that well.

2. Challenging eye contact! I swear, if my eyes are anywhere but the keys or the page, I'm screwed.

You can hear some free audio clips of the new album on The 5 Browns' own website.

So does this make me solidly cool, or tragically un-hip?

The evolution of dance

Hilarious! And sad, considering I know I've done almost all of these at one time or another.

May 05, 2006

An elephant never forgets (but Furonda does)

It's that time again! Time to follow the trials and tribulations in the world of modeling. And if you thought it was risk-free - think again!

When we last left our fair girls on America's Next Top Model, they had said good-bye to Nnenna. Naturally Jade is all missing her and stuff, because no one left really likes her. Furonda feels vulnerable, with good reason. Sara has a brilliant plan - since she has no confidence in her ability, she's going to fake it. Fake her CONFIDENCE, you dirty bird! Joanie thinks that Jade is rude and not genuine. (Best line - "Even when I sit next to her, all I smell is bitch." HA!) Danielle hasn't been sleeping much.

For training, the girls are sent to a Thai dance theater. Their challenge is to learn some traditional Thai dance movements, and then perform in front of an audience. I hate to sound like a broken record, but the girls all take to it about as well as you'd expect. Joanie is precise, Jade tries to be precise, Furonda is a hot mess.

As they take a lunch break before the show, Danielle suddenly disappears, unbeknownst to the girls. She ends up passing out, and is taken to the hospital! Scary! Will she live? Will she die? (This is the requisite reality show drama for the season.)

So while Danielle lies down in the hospital, the other girls have to perform. Jade is first, and she is very stiff, and also breaks a couple cardinal rules (like that women do not raise their hands above their eye level in Thai dance). Joanie goes next, and does quite well, and remembers to smile. Sara is her usual unconfident, "I'm so tall" self. Furonda doesn't know what the hell she's doing, so she breaks into the bizarre mix of hip hop and hula dance. The audience is cracking up, and I think Furonda thought they were enjoying it. Of course, they're laughing AT her while they're enjoying it.

Joanie is named the winner - hurrah! Her prize is dinner with the editor of Elle Thailand magazine. She chooses to take Sara with her. (Which you know is a consolation choice because Danielle is laid up.)

And how is Danielle? She's been diagnosed with "exhaustion, dehydration and a little food poisoning." Well clearly you've made it, girl - that's what they call it every time famous people are hospitalized! Meanwhile Joanie and Sara have a dinner that is completely uneventful.

Danielle breaks doctor's orders and goes back to the hotel to rest up for the next day's shoot. She barely makes it out of bed, but she does go.

For the photo shoot, the girls are doing an ad for Gilette Venus razor. And at this point the product placement reaches a new low. Big Orange Jay Manuel says, "So I want you girls to go shave your legs, and get ready!" And they do. And they have to say crap like, "Oh, my leg feels so smooth!" Disgusting.

MOVING ON. The girls will be posing on an elephant. This is supposed to contrast the rough skin of the elephant with the smooth leg of the model. Do you get it? DO YOU?

*sigh* Anywho, first up is Danielle. Since she's first, the elephant is a bit skittish from the camera flash. But despite that and her weak constitution, Danielle does well. Good thing this shoot doesn't require smiling, though. Jade is just as stiff as she was doing the Thai dancing. And Jay says that every time he gives her direction, Jade takes it as criticism. Well isn't that valid? I mean, she sucks! Furonda continues to have trouble - the magic she had two weeks ago is gone.

Then comes Joanie. More than just a pretty face, she tries some inventive posing, including standing on the elephant's flexed leg. She is of course fantastic. Meanwhile, Sara has been watching all the other girls to learn - because she's the smart one. Not so smart though, is her plan to pretty much copy all of Joanie's poses. And she doesn't do them as well, which Jay points out. Joanie seems a bit irritated, but mostly confused.

At the judging panel, the girls are asked to don a mask, and use their bodies to portray three emotions - sensuality, despair and compassion. The results are hiLARious. Furonda does all sorts of wild, flailing movements that make her look like an escaped mental patient. Sara is quiet and reserved. Joanie is soft, but a bit too Thai (that dance influenced her, I think). Jade gets the Thai bug also, but in a crazy way (of course). Danielle does this weird thing where she advances on the judges all three times, and Miss J looks terrified. Onto judging!

Furonda's photo is just not good. Her legs are bent too much, her feet are flexed, and her position is off. Danielle looks strong and polished - one of her best shots, I'd say. Jade has this bizarre pose where she looks like Superman - as if she posed in front of a green screen and was superimposed on the elephant. Also her legs are bent all weird. Joanie is flawless. Nay, Joanie is FIERCE! (The fact that I'm using that term without a trace of irony shows you how badly I've been sucked into this damn show.) Sara did poorly in copying Joanie, but she did pull off a great shot with lovely pointed feet.

Five beautiful girls, four photos. The photos go to Joanie, Sara and Danielle (who gets criticized AGAIN for needing to work on her speaking skills). So it's down to Jade and Furonda. Jade thinks she knows everything, but doesn't realize she's a freak of nature. Furonda doesn't know much of anything. And the last photo goes to...Jade. And I'm surprised that I'm happy with that - I guess I want her crazy ass around a bit longer.

So Furonda attempts to sashay out of the show, but she looks bad even doing that. Good-bye, Flava Flav - I'll miss you and your wacky ways.

Next week - the girls go out for "look-see" visits, which apparently involve wearing huge animal heads. Could this show get any weirder?

Oh, and who do I think will win? Well my hope (and assumption) is that it will come down to Joanie and Danielle. Both take great photos, but Joanie has a wimpy personality at the judging panel, and Danielle sounds like a country hick. So which one can change the way Tyra demands in time? My money remains on Joanie. Good luck, stripper girl!

Pulchritudinous cinema

I just finished watching Love Actually. That movie just makes me feel all warm and squishy inside. In a good way! Sheer fun, totally predictable, yet a delight. (Not to mention it contains my gorgeous English husband, Colin Firth.)

This film reminded me of another movie which ScottE and I saw last weekend that was along the same lines. You knew exactly where it was going from the beginning, but the journey was a joy, and we felt tremendous by the end!

Rather than go see another mindless blockbuster starring a Scientologist freak, I strongly recommend you go see Akeelah and the Bee this weekend.

Who knew spelling bees could be so exciting? Yet we were riveted.

The lead actress is young Keke Palmer, and she just shines. She's up against some very strong actors - Ike & Tina Turner! OK, not really them, but Laurence Fishburne and Angela Bassett.

(Have I mentioned that Angela tops my list of "Women I'd Switch For"? Smack me around, girl!)

The movie also has a real scene-stealer in J.R. Villarreal, who plays Akeelah's new friend Javier. He's just hilarious.

And I don't know if any of my readers have children, but if you do, this is the movie to take them to!

Dijeridoo's and don'ts

Well it was another non-elimination week on The Amazing Race, which was not surprising. But I won't say this week didn't have a few surprises. To whit:
  • Yolanda was hilarious! Whether it was her cracking a joke about black people not wading into a mess of crocodiles, or brushing off the advances of Jeremy, she had me rolling through the whole episode.
  • Eric & Jeremy sunk to new lows in the annals of TAR. Calling to cancel cab reservations another team made is just plain dirty pool. I'm surprised the rules of the show allow it.
  • Just when you think BJ & Tyler can't be more idiotic, BJ decides to race to the mat with no shoes. When they're nearly last. And they know a non-elimination leg is likely. So he has no shoes. Idiot!
So who will win the show? Sadly my money is on Eric & Jeremy, because they have what we call "the luck of the evil." But if there is justice in the world, Ray & Yolanda will pull it out.

Why didn't anyone make a truffle trifle?

Well in the past few weeks of Top Chef, there have been the highest of highs (sod off, Stephen) and the lowest of lows (poor Lee Anne). And we're down to the final 3. How can this work out well? Let's review the choices:

1. Harold - obviously a strong cook. But he's also arrogant, pompous and gets far too "woe is me" now and again. What's more important - being a great chef, or being able to sell your product with personality? Don't you need both?

2. Tiffani - again, a good cook most of the time. But she's also a stuck-up bitch, refuses to recognize her shortcomings and thinks she's the greatest thing ever. I've got news for you girl - your shit stinks just as bad as everyone else's.

3. David - good, rich flavors. But the man has a mental breakdown if his eggs are too fluffy. Did you see Like Water For Chocolate? Can you imagine the chef crying into your meal every time you go to his restaurant?

I already lost my bet, so now I guess I'm pulling for Dave, since he's the underdog. But Harold should probably win. Just don't let it be Tiffani!

Speaking of Lost...

Quite the shocker this week, eh? I mean, I had a feeling Ana Lucia was not long for this world. And there's a rumor that Cynthia Watros (who plays Libby) has signed on for a new show. I just didn't think it would end like this?

Here's hoping for the return of Walt soon. Obviously he's the keystone to the show right now - what has our little psychic friend been up to? (Other than appearing at odd times soaked from head to toe...)

Also a word to the wise - if you're on Lost, you're female, and you're not married? Don't have sex! It means death!

(And in real life you might want to avoid drunk driving in Hawaii...)

If it weren't for Lost, ABC would suck!

Wow, I know I have a lot to catch up on. So prepare for a flurry of posts as we catch up on all the latest in television, movies and more!

To begin, it's time I flipped ABC the bird for a moment. Remember when I had a small diatribe about their treatment of Commander in Chief? Well now they just went and cancelled the whole thing. Idiots! And no more snappy Presidential fashions, either.

And this right after an episode that had us reeling because it focused on violent crime right here in Hyattsville. Certainly it's greatly exaggerated for fiction, but it was still interesting to watch.

Maybe I will send a letter to ABC. Tell them how taking a show off the air for weeks at a time and then change it to a stupid timeslot just because American Idol premiered.

Thank goodness I have other shows to love on ABC, so I don't have to stage an all-out boycott.