March 26, 2008

Newsflash - Britney doesn't suck!

Yes, it's true. Britney Spears appeared in this week's episode of TV's best comedy, How I Met Your Mother.

And she wasn't terrible! Granted, her line at the end about having sex doesn't exactly help her party girl image, but on the whole she was...not bad. (If you want to watch the full episode, just click on the link above.)

The episode is great regardless, capped off with the sweetest speed date of all time. Sarah Chalke just rocks! Could she possibly be the woman with the yellow umbrella?

March 23, 2008

Battlestar Marathon - Day 1

The Objective:

The long-awaited fourth and final season of Battlestar Galactica premieres on the Sci-Fi channel on Friday, April 4th.

The Challenge:

We were behind on the storyline! Up until now we've only been able to Netflix seasons 1 through 2.5 on DVD. At long last, season 3 arrived on DVD (just a couple days ago) and I received it as a lovely birthday gift from ScottE.

The Mission:

Watch all 15 hours in just two weeks, which is hard to do when you're busy professionals preparing for an impending housewarming! And Joyous was in on this as well, as she's the one who got us hooked in the first place.

The Preparation:

First we rented from Netflix "The Story So Far" which was a little recap of everything we'd seen already. It was a good reminder of what has happened, although the video itself was odd - almost like someone had videotaped it off the TV? I felt sure it was pirated or something! But the disc looks legit, so whatever.

Day 1 Report:

Joyous came over at 10 a.m. We assembled our snacks, and ScottE had prepared a lasagna to keep our strength up. And thus, we settled in to watch the first 13 episodes. So much fun, even if it was a bit exhausting! The biggest debates of the day were whether or not we'd vote for Laura Roslin (most of the time, yes - but not when she's talking genocide of the Cylon race), the hair of Lucy Lawless (is it too Farrah Fawcett?), and whether or not Gaeta is gay (it's all in the name).

It's tough to pick my favorite episode so far, but I'll have to go with "Exodus, Part II." Of course a 2-parter has an edge, but it was hard not to get a little misty when the members of the resistance were finally rescued and back on Galactica. Topping it off with the revelation that Kacey was indeed part of a mindfrak on Starbuck was great.

But the best overall line is without question Tyrol saying that he would "dance around naked with porn magazines to defy them." Hott!

Next Steps:

We've still got seven episodes to go, which we'll be catching up on over the next week. We also will be watching "Razor," the special episode that was shown recently to get people geared up for season four which chronicles the backstory on what happened with Pegasus. That one is already sitting on the TV cabinet, courtesy of Netflix. Also I'll be spending way too much time looking through the BSG wiki...

Stay tuned for further updates, as we delve deeper into the lives of the 12 Colonies! In the meantime, I offer this photo, which explains part of the reason we love this show so much.

March 20, 2008

What's in my book bag

My new commute is a bit longer, which is allowing me to read books a lot faster. Thus I present not 1, but 3 book reviews!

Hero by Perry Moore

ScottE turned me onto this one. It's a book that satisfies both my childhood dreams of being a superhero, and my passion for a well-written coming out story. A fast, satisfying read. Yes, it's on the level of "young adult" fiction, but when it's this fun, who cares?

Monopoly The World's Most Famous Game--and How It Got That Way by Philip Orbanes

This interesting read was a gift to me from Joyous. Part history lesson and part story of America's most popular board game. Particularly fascinating is the role Monopoly played in a world war! You'll have to read it to believe it.

The Dead Fathers Club by Matt Haig

Em (the Marquise of Wynnewood) got me this one for my birthday. Once I got over the frustrating writing style (stilted prose with no punctuations other than periods), I was able to settle into this unusual read. It's told from the perspective of an 11 year old kid, and quickly you realize that it's a retelling of Shakespeare's Hamlet. So ultimately you know where it's headed (or so you think), which adds an intriguing layer.

March 19, 2008

Where's the beef? It's under my blouse

Previously on America's Next Top Model, the girls modeled the latest in lingerie, in between arguments over who has a bigger butt, and who's more of a racist. All in a day's work in a models' house, really.

As we open this week, Dominique is truly full of herself. She has enormous (unfounded) confidence, and somehow thinks the fact that Tyra is color-correcting her hair is a badge of honor. Ah, the song of the deluded. I feel like Dom would be good friends with Jade. Meanwhile, Fatima thinks that Amis is crazy but not in a good way.

The girls end up at a fire station, and are met by real firemen, which makes the models squeal like little girls. I kind of understand that reaction, for once. Anywho, Ms. J shows up to say that this is a lesson in quick-change artistry. Who can change their outfit quickly, and then walk it well? Fatima is the only one to fail the dress-up, as she didn't put on her shoes. Or chose not to - it's a bit unclear.

The girls do their walk, and not much has changed since the auditions. Claire struts well. Fatima is too stiff. Dom thinks she's good, but she's not, to which Whitney interviews, "I've known drag queens that walk better than Dominique." HA! Awesome, and also true. And then Lauren. Oh, Lauren. She sure can take a photograph, but her walk may be worse than Heather's.

Back at the house there is a hullabaloo, because Aimee is from a very conservative (i.e. Mormon) background, and doesn't feel comfortable changing naked in front of others, and asks for privacy in the bathroom while she showers. For some reason Marvita turns it into an argument, and Whitney steps in to speak for Aimee. So then Fatima stirs it up to turn people against Whitney. Shades of Bianca!

Next the girls walk in a fashion show for Bryan Bradley, and they once again have mere moments to change and then have to walk. This results in a wardrobe malfunction for Whitney (who flashes her boob, a'la Caridee). But sadder is Fatima, who can't even button her damn sweater properly.

The runway is judged by Ann Shoket of Seventeen, and Jaslene! Jas must have been taking diction lessons, as you can actually understand every word out of her mouth. Anywho, Jaslene asks Lauren if she even wants to be there, as her walk was terrible. Lauren thinks that's way harsh. But Kat is the one who wins, rightly so. Kat gets a prize of appearing in a photo shoot for Seventeen alongside Jas. She gets to take two friends, who are rather surprisingly Marvita and Amis. Really? I think this says something about how little we know about the house dynamics yet.

And now for the most bizarre Top Model photo shoot ever. The girls are in the meatpacking district (OK, fine) wearing bikinis made of...beef. Wait, what? Seriously? What cracked-out producer came up with this one? OJ tries to call the shoot "provocative." I call it "undercooked."

Whatever, the girls pose and no one pukes. OJ finds it particularly hard to work with Amis, while he thinks Lauren is naturally creative.

Panel! Prizes, judges. Guest judge is Bryan Bradley (which is too bad, as I secretly was hoping for Jaslene). Oh, and Amis totally woke up like 10 minutes before panel, and threw on what I can only assume are rags she found in a dumpster. She's not kooky weird, she's just suck-ass weird.

Stacy-Ann is first, but disappears into the shot.

Whitney is both fun and editorial as she looks a little shocked in the picture. Well done.

Aimee looks like she's just standing on a meat subway. She's steak tartare.

Kat works it again, showing off her meat clothes, even.

Fatima has this ugly snarl on her face that makes it hard to notice much else. Tyra is not happy.

Anya still is nuts with that accent and her lack of eyebrows, but she sure is taking good pictures.

Claire is missing a bit in the face, but she has a crazy good angular body.

Dom did something risky, sitting up on a pile of beef, but she has foreshortened her body, and looks a bit slutty to me.

Ms. J immediately calls out Lauren for her bad runway walk. But of course her picture is totally fierce - she's a natural!

Amis looks like crap in person and in her picture. Yuck!

Marvita has this nice strong look everywhere but her face. Considering she looks like she could kill someone when she's arguing in the house, why can't she do that in a photo shoot?

The judges deliberate. Nigel is getting on the Whitney train. Paulina has no love for Aimee, but does for Anya.

Eleven beautiful girls, ten photos. First photo goes to...Anya! A bit surprising, but I think Tyra is spreading the love around. Whitney, Kat, Claire, Dom, Stacy-Ann, Lauren (who would have been first had it not been for the walk), Marvita and Aimee are given photos. Will Fatima (dang!) and Amis step forward?

Fatima, you may think you're all that, but you ain't, girl. Amis, the judges think you don't have focus. Amis looks really confused (case in point). The photo goes to Fatima, of course. Amis, go home you nut job who never should have made the finals!

Coming up - fighting brews in the house again! Maybe this is the infamous food fight that's been reported in the news? Oh, and Benny Ninja is back. Yeah, sorry, I can't do anything about that.

Project Runway - a look back at the finale

I really didn't have much to say about the finale, which is why I haven't posted sooner. All in all, it was pretty fierce. And totally not a hot mess!

Of the 3 collections, my favorite would be Jillian's. I liked the uniformity of her idea, and that her clothes were very wearable. Also, she totally had Jaslene walking in her show!

But I did admire Christian's artistry. Yes, his work is over-the-top avant-garde, but it certainly leaves an impression. Throughout the season I went from loving him to hating him, and back to loving him. He was so happy to win, and that's cool.

Rami, on the other hand, was just all over the place. I'm not sure what he was trying to do with his collection there were certainly a few pieces that I liked a lot, though.

Now I'm throwing in this picture of Nina Garcia and Heidi Klum, as they just look cute and fabulous!

And if you haven't seen them online, Chris and Sweet P had some fabulous "decoy" shows. In fact, I thought Chris' was so good he could have won the whole thing! He also had a couple Top Model gals in his show - Danielle (cycle 6) and Bianca (cycle 9)!

So in closing, enjoy this clip if you haven't seen it, and let's hope the next season is just as fun!

Lost Breeds Confusion

In the last few weeks on Lost, we've seen a lot more confusion over various timelines - in other words, it's been a real...well, you know.

First we watch Desmond dealing with 2 personalities (both of which are him in different time periods - the wrong ones) as he struggles to deal with some rift in the time-space continuum near the island. Fortunately he's able to rectify the situation with a desperate call to Penny. Loving her, by the way.

Meanwhile, we discover that things on the freighter are anything but peachy, considering swimming with chains is a favored activity. Of course the big reveal is that Michael is there! Does he really think he is someone else? Or is he Ben's spy on the boat? Or both?

Not to mention, Juliet was totally doing it with Goodwin. And Ben has...possessiveness issues.

Then we had a poignant episode as we follow Sun giving birth in the future while she decides her own fate in the present. She has the baby, and Hurley comes to visit. But while we think the whole time Jin is rushing to the hospital to see her, in fact he was going to see another patient, and has "only been married 2 months." Just when you wonder if he somehow left Sun in the flash-forward, you learn that in fact he has died (no!), as Hurley and Sun go to visit his grave. So in fact, it must have been a flash-back layered over the flash-forward, while my brain oozed out of my ear.

Oh, and Juliet? That was cold! Dang, beeyotch!

All in all, this was my favorite Sun/Jin episode, and one of my all-time favorites, period. The layered time periods was a clever ruse, and the acting was superb. If Yunjin Kim doesn't get an Emmy nod this season, I'm going to pull a Juliet on the voters!

Anywho, if you've been neglecting Lost this season, you are totally missing out. It's truly entered a renaissance, and I am on the edge of my seat to see what's been happening with Michael. And Walt!

Oh, and am I the only one dying to find out what happened to Claire that makes Kate end up with Aaron in the future?

March 12, 2008

Top Model Cycle 10 - Catching Up

Welcome back to America's Next Top Model, fierce ladies! Due to internet constraints, I've been a bit behind, but let's do a quick catch-up recap, shall we?

In the beginning, the girls entered "Top Model Academy" also known as pre-judgement from the Js. The girls undergo a runway test while wearing a Catholic schoolgirl's uniform (straight guy's fantasy) and carry a heavy backpack. As is typical at this stage, at least half are totally awful. Then they move onto a "class photo" which strangely involves a fur stole. Uh...what? Because so many high school girls wear fur? Whatev.

Anywho, several are eliminated (they "FAIL") along the way, and only a few are up for final selections. Tyra takes 13 (including 2 girls with names that sound like "Amy") but she decides to keep a 14th, for reasons that are beyond me (Dominique? Really?). I'm just a little sad Kristen didn't make it through, as she's from a suburb of my college town. (Shout out to the 'Zoo!)

I should also mention in the auditions that Marvita is back (just missed the cut last time, but she's in therapy...every Thursday), there was Jenna who wanted to trick out her Impala, Claire has a baby and drinks her breast milk (it's a conservation thing), and Kim is the dumbest bank teller ever.

Anywho, 14 make it through. They then attend a "homecoming" event which is both fun (Former contestants as cheerleaders - hey to Joanie! And the twins! Jael is still alive!) and tragic (Tyra over-acts once again). The long and the short of this incident is that cycle 10 is returning to the show's roots - in New York City. Certainly better than Pasadena!

Once in NYC, the girls first learn that one of the Amy girls has changed her name to Amis (which she insists is in the Bible, which it isn't - that's Amos). Then we head out to their loft apartment. Which apparently the caused extreme damage to over the course of the show! Also we learn a lot about Fatima, who was born and spent her childhood in Somalia - where she was a victim of genital mutilation (not funny). And we hear that Marvita was once homeless but has now overcome her anger issues (becomes funny).

The Js show up and take the girls on a tour of NYC. Then they end up in Times Square for a fashion show - by Badgley Mischka! Hey - this show may actually have credentials now! We also learn that Kim thinks super-expensive fashion is frivolous. Sacrilege! Meanwhile, Whitney is fabulous.

Tragically, this season the Tyra Mail is delivered on a scrolling message board, which the girls feel the need to read in unison. Annoying! This isn't a Montessori School!

In the fashion show, Marvita just looks at the ground, not unlike what I do on the way to work each day. Kim is also pretty lousy. Meanwhile Whitney the plus-sized model kind of rocks it.

Later, the girls meet that weird guy from Elite, and supermodel Paulina Porizkova! She is honestly harsh in assessing the girls' potential as models. To Dominique (the one who looks like a total transvestite), Paulina says that she looks like a drag version of Robin Wright Penn. True! Paulina is already kind of awesome.

For the fashion shoot, the girls pose as homeless girls - with actual recovering homeless girls. Tacky? You decide! This of course gives an edge to both Marvita and Fatima (who have both lived on the skids in the past). But in other news, these 2 sistahs hate each other.

Eventually it's time for judging. Twiggy is gone (remember?), so Paulina steps in as the new judge - ooo, burn! Along the way we learn that Polish-born Katarzyna (henceforth known as "Kat") is too beautiful for words, Whitney is fierce, and Atalya is forgettable (who?). And then in a shocker, Kim confesses that she doesn't really support the fashion industry - she just doesn't believe you should pay so much for clothes. Sacrilege! Tyra asks if she really wants to be there. She doesn't. And so, she's let go. Dang! Also, Ms. J is now wearing a vest with velcro-attached names for each girl. He/she unceremoniously rips off Kim's name right after she walks out. Harsh! And also, awesome.

But Tyra isn't letting the girls off that easy - there is still an elimination. It comes down to Amis (who sucked and has a dumb made-up name) and Atalya (who?). Amis is given a pass. Atalya, who was scared to be away from home (she is from the far-off hamlet of Brooklyn) is happy to go home and see her family.

The next episode can be summed up pretty fast - Allison thinks she has all kinds of experience, and thinks Fatima is a beeyotch. This is expressed in a passive-aggressive and borderline racist manner.

The girls get their makeovers (which are not earth-shattering, although Fatima cries over her weave), and head to a photo shoot to promote the new lingerie line by Elle Macpherson. While Allison touts her Pilates and vast experience (which means she sucks), newcomer Lauren (this cycle's Megg) is so wrong she's right.

The judges bring it down to transvestite-looking Dominique and conceited Allison. We are spared the narcissist, and too-tan Dominique makes it through.

So how will I handicap the remaining girls? Here are my thoughts:

Amis - Although she's got bad skin and looks awkward, the fact that she's been so trashed on so early might mean she stays for awhile. But I think she's a hot mess and won't last long.

Aimee - A.K.A. "The Forgettable." I know she's got a pretty face, but I keep confusing her with the far more attractive Kat, which is never a good sign.

Anya - She's from Hawaii now, but her true origins are a mystery, because her accent is bizarre. Seriously, where is this bitch from? Tyra loves her, but I'm not impressed.

Whitney - Our plus-sized girl for this season is fierce in a way that no other real woman has been on the show before. I'm not wild about her Wynnona Judd haircut after the makeover, but I'm hopeful she'll make it close to the finals!

Marvita - A bitch on the edge. She will either win this, or have a breakdown and punch out one of the girls. The sick part of me hopes for the latter.

Stacy Ann - She has an annoying voice and for some reason always wanted to know how to do a lap dance. This clearly means she's destined to be a stripper, so let's leave it at that.

Claire - My current favorite, this young mother has an edgy look that is just different enough to be truly exciting. I love her, and can't imagine hating her (yet).

Lauren - She's the punk rock girl who has the motor skills of a 1 year old child. But that "so wrong she's right" thing can take her far. I predict she's around for awhile until it's clear she "doesn't want this badly enough."

Fatima - She has the ultimate sob story, but she also seems to be a bit of a pretentious beeyotch. She will either win, or be the closest thing we have to a Jade this cycle. (And don't we all miss Jade just a bit?)

Dominique - Maybe she's a man. Maybe she fake-and-bakes too much. Whatever the issue, I think she's so unattractive. Here's hoping she's eliminated very soon.

Katarzyna - Kat has traditionally gorgeous features, and her Polish background makes her a bit mysterious. She's my dark horse pick for the cycle, but is in danger of the "no personality" elimination.

So what do you think? Who is destined to be America's Next! Top! Model?!?!?

March 05, 2008

Vantage Point

Sometimes I see a movie, and I want so much for it to really work and satisfy me. Perhaps I set my expectations too high, - I had such hopes for Vantage Point. Unfortunately, it just didn't deliver.

The concept was intriguing - a presidential assassination told from the viewpoint of six different people involved. Slowly the underlying plot is revealed, and the film barrels towards a resolution.

The gimmick of the differing perspectives didn't really work, I think because so little new information was gleaned from each person's "chapter." It was a bit like a slow season of Lost, where you're spending too much time trekking around the island, and not enough getting to the point. And I can tell you the audience in our theater REALLY didn't like the gimmick (laughter and booing abounded).

The other thing that bothered me was the preponderance of truly horrid acting. The President's advisors in particular were just awful. "Make the call! You have to do it now!" Fortunately a few performances - Matthew Fox and Sigourney Weaver did the best with what they had.

And did anyone really believe that Forest Whitaker's character could run fast enough to keep up with the cop?

March 03, 2008

Oscar Ceremony Recap

Yes, I know the ceremony was a week ago - but I was living in an unwired wasteland!

Overall, I found this year's ceremony to be rather enjoyable, although it continues to run far too long. I say - more speeches, and ax most of the annoying montages! The only one people really care about is the memorial montage (which still left out several luminaries this year, including Joey Bishop). That being said, here are a few reasons that I was still happy to watch:

1. The strike was over! That seemed to allow everyone to relax and enjoy, and it also put more of a spotlight on the screenwriters this year.

2. Jon Stewart hits more than he misses. No argument that several jokes fell flat, but considering how little time there was for the writers to prepare, it's a miracle that it was funnier than According to Jim.

3. Pleasant surprises and upsets. I was thrilled to see Marion Cotillard walk away with Best Actress (and to be so effusive in her speech), doubly so because Julie Christie was wearing something most hideous. Sure, the technical awards usually go to blockbusters, but this year three of the big four went to The Bourne Ultimatum, which was actually an excellent film (unlike the completely forgettable Transformers).

4. Singers stole the show again. The Best Song category is such a wildcard (remember how nuts it was when Three 6 Mafia won?) and the performances of said songs are always spotty at best. This year was no exception in the performance area (Amy Adams - good, Kristin Chenoweth - not), but the winners were nothing but charm. Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova gave a spine-tingling rendition of "Falling Slowly" and followed it up with warm speeches that left the audience smiling; especially when the producers gave Irglova the chance for a "do over" on her speech. Love them!

5. I rocked the Oscar pool - for once. Usually my picks are all over the map, and I'm lucky to get even half right. But to get 19 right, AND beat the prognosticators at Entertainment Weekly? I gotta be proud.

So what did you think of the show? Lots of fun, or too much Jack Nicholson?