Thursday, March 29, 2007

top design

I actually liked Carissa's design more than Goil's. She did have a blue palette in her favor. Although the most entertaining part of the episode was Jonathan Adler's outfit. Perhaps he's taking all of the "what was she wearing?" talk about Kelly Wearstler week after week to heart and wants in on the action (any action). I loved Andrea's room, and I found Matt's design quite dull. Regardless, for some silly (and likely producer-desired) reason, Carissa is in the final three. Am I the only one who remains continually shocked that she's 26? That's not a compliment. Stop blaming your inadequacy on everyone around you; free Carl! Au revoir, (Gar)goil. May you live in Austin Scarlett infamy as the most talented designer to not make the top three, when one crazy, drama-ridden lady did instead.

P.S. I can't wait for Shear Genius!

"ripped from the headlines!"

Thank you NBC, for finally bringing me a new episode of SVU this week; by my count, it was the first new episode in the month of March. Still, nomadreaderboy and I settled in with anticipation for a new episode, but we spent half of the episode deciding if we'd seen it already. It was a ripped from the headline episode on the infamous conservative Christian minister who also dabbled with meth and gay prostitutes. After going back and forth, we finally determined that it was in fact a new episode, but it was unnecessarily similar to the Criminal Intent take on it (oh, Tom Arnold as a closeted conservative televangelist). The stories ended quite differently, and they were both good. Still, can the L&O writers for the three shows please get together and divvy up the headlines?

preservation of art

Morning Edition had this fascinating story about the new challenge of preserving digital contemporary art. It's worth a listen.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

on the failure of bill self

Bill Simmons is my favorite columnist/blogger. He may write sports, but he is consistently hilarious and loves to reference pop culture. His column on ESPN's Page 2 is worth checking, even if you're not a sports fan. In yesterday's column, he refers to Ben Howland as the coach "who pulled Bill Self's pants down on Saturday." He also opens up the end of his blogs to emails from his smart and/or witty readers. Brandon from L.A. had this to say:

"Hey Bill, you more than anyone do a great job of calling out coaches that are killing their teams. So along those lines, how has Bill Self gone under the radar all year with you and ESPN? This should be the running subplot of this tourney. He almost single-handedly blew their chances on Thursday. Everyone knew what type of team Southern Illinois is and yet he has no counter to them and his teams are always ill-prepared. How do you not spread things out and isolate your quicker guards who also have a size advantage? And read his postgame quotes -- he says that Southern Illinois is a team you can't run plays against. What??? As you would agree (and I've been preaching all year), Kansas is by far the most talented team in this tourney. Hands down. Yet Bill Self is terrible at game planning and preparation. Look at his past tourney flameouts at Illinois and Kansas with ridiculous talent. If Howland were coaching them, they'd be destroying everyone. UCLA has half the talent as Kansas and yet will probably win Saturday because of game plan and execution. This topic has to start being covered and you are the man to do that."

Bill Simmons response: (Important note: We received this e-mail on Friday. Thought that was funny. By the way, I will always be outraged that Kansas didn't make the Final Four with THAT much talent. It's absurd. Remind me never to pick Bill Self to win a title ever again.)

I'm not the only one! Is it now officially time to start http://www.firebillself.com? Or should we do to him what the Chiefs did when they brought in Dick Vermeil and announce that we've hired a new coach before we fired the last one? I desperately want to love Kansas basketball again, and I don't think that will happen in the Bill Self era. I will give credit where it's due: he is a damn fine recruiter. Unfortunately, talent alone will not win championships.

Maddy in The Frog Princess

Disney announced that its 2009 animated feature The Frog Princess features black princess Maddy. I may be cynical, but I would bet that Disney's decision is still financially motivated. If they were concerned with the racial implications beyond the dollar, then why did it take until 2009? Maddy may be drawn with a different color to her skin, but her body remains the disturbing Disney archetype.

on television scheduling

I no longer watch American Idol, but I am watching Dancing with the Stars this season. I don't have a personal stake in the silly ploy of Fox to air AI until 9:07 p.m. tonight, but I find it obnoxious. ABC deserves it, however, as they like to run Grey's Anatomy until 10:02 some Thursdays and they force me to set a manual record for Dancing so its last two minutes won't conflict with the two programs I DVR at 10 p.m. I don't think I've missed anything earth-shattering in the last two minutes of Dancing the past two weeks. I love television, and I love my DVR because it makes my television viewing easier and more time-effective. I love to come home and see what treats it recorded for me while I was gone.

Please stop toying with the timeslots. We all win when our favorite shows go on at different times. The networks get more viewers, which leads to higher ad revenues. The television viewers win by having more access to quality (or at least entertaining) programming. Please, stop the madness. While you networks are at it, please also address the overprogramming of good shows Wednesdays at 9 p.m.

on dancing with the stars

After the first episode of Dancing with the Stars, I set my DVR to record all episodes. I briefly watched season one, but it didn't hold my interest. I am already hooked on this season. This season's cast made me want to watch once, and I am absolutely riveted to my television. When I start to call in and vote, I will begin to worry. It's ridiculously entertaining. By the end of the first dance, nomadreaderboy had gone from peeking in the room to see what I was watching to sitting down next to the television and cursing me for getting him hooked on another reality television show.

Highlights this week:

How creepy is Leeza's face? She's fifty? Gross. Oh, that we could all age in the style of Jamie Lee Curtis or Helen Mirren instead of the Stepford way.

I also love the celebrities in the audience: Chuck Woolery, fresh-from-rehab Robbie Williams, Brian Austin Green. There are no staged audience interviews and no graphics telling the viewers who these people are. I'm fairly confident my grandmother did not squeal as I did at the flashes of Robbie Williams and Brian Austin Green; to her, they are just young men in the audience. Seriously, I think my joy at these sightings indicate why the double bill of Ian Ziering and Joey Fatone made me start watching this season at all.

After Laila Ali's mambo, nomadreaderboy sitting up and shouting "If I don't see a nine, I'm voting!" and then play it off as a joke.

Final thought: Isn't it ironic that these judges want the dancers to be tramps, and being too much of a tramp got Brittany kicked off Pussycat Dolls Present: The Search for the Next Doll? Seriously, the Pussycat Dolls value being demure more than ballroom dancers? Love it!

Monday, March 26, 2007

original heartbreak remembered

I still consider Roy Williams' departure for UNC the worst heartbreak of my life. It still brings me to tears (or sometimes rage) when I catch a glimpse of him wearing a tarheel blue tie when he coaches. When I watch a UNC game, my jealousy comes out when I see his assistant coaches still there too. It's as though my boyfriend left me, and I miss his friends too. I can count on one hand the number of Kansas basketball games I've watched since Roy left. When Roy left, he took his style of basketball with him. I was eight when Roy came to Kansas, and although I love the history of Kansas basketball, the only style I really have ever seen is the Roy-era. I've never been a fan of Bill Self. It's a dislike that goes back to his days at Illinois, and specifically the Regional semi-final game in San Antonio when six of his players fouled out. Their strategy was to foul our big guys. Nick Collison was tackled, hugged and dragged under the basket. It worked; we didn't make our free throws, and they went on to the regional finals. It's not the way I want to win basketball games; it's not a joy to watch. Win or lose, Roy's teams were almost always a joy to watch. I felt the pain when they lost, but I loved every moment getting there. The joy has left Kansas basketball. I'm still a fan, but I feel all the pain and none of the joy anymore. Kansas basketball used to be my favorite thing. My license plate still alludes to our championship history. I am a grudge-holder. I still haven't forgiven Bill Self for the way Illinois won that game in 2001. I imagine I will never forgive Roy for leaving the way he did.

I know I'm not the only one who would trade in Bill Self for Roy. Jason Whitlock, who never minces words writing about hometown sports, wrote this fantastic column before we lost to UCLA:

http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/sports/columnists/jason_whitlock/16964441.htm

Whitlock says, "It’s going to take a Final Four appearance to replace Roy Williams, and a national title to remove the Roy bitterness from the hearts of Jayhawk fans." I hope a national championship would make me love Kansas again, but I hate to be that king of fan. I fear the joy I used to feel, the rush of gameday excitement and the anticipation of recruiting news will never return. I miss you Roy, and I hate that you still have my heart.

Friday, March 23, 2007

fuck war

Mike Hendricks, my favorite Kansas City columnist has an intriguing column today on the Kansas-brewed controversy about a paid (Topeka) Capitol intern having a bumper sticker "fuck war" on her car. A good lesson in free speech is also refreshing, and the Fred Phelps-town I grew up in clearly needs a reminder.

My favorite line:

"What’s the greater obscenity, after all? A cuss word on somebody’s bumper? Or the bodies of men, women and children being blown to bits by insurgents in Baghdad?"

http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/news/columnists/mike_hendricks/16956520.htm

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Orbach corner

Jerry Orbach Corner may soon be officially located at 53th St. & Eighth Ave. in Manhattan.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/22/nyregion/22orbach.html?ref=nyregion

oz, the wizard of

The Sci Fi Channel is making a miniseries of the "Tin Man" based on the L. Frank Baum novel. The cast so far includes Alan Cumming(!), Richard Dreyfuss, Zooey Deschanel, Neal McDonough (Boomtown - how I loved thee) and Kathleen Robertson are all signed on so far. Production begins later this month.

http://www.scifi.com/scifiwire/index.php?category=2&id=40677

Tales of Oz are not always my favorite, as I have been subjected to terrible Dorothy and Toto jokes ever since I stepped out of Kansas, but I imagine this miniseries could be extraordinary if it's done right.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

On cooking with wine

New York Times writer Julia Moskin, a good writer who enjoys cooking and wine, offers her test kitchen up to the debate about whether better wine makes better cooking wine this week. It's an entertaining story, slightly reminiscent of Julie and Julia (one of my favorite books so far this year), and it's one I completely agree with. Although I've never conducted such a scientific test, I wince when I pour good wine in a pot. I have become a believer in drinking the good stuff, then after two glasses, switching to the not-as-good stuff that I cooked the meal with. For Moskin's in-depth take on cooking with wine:
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/21/dining/21cook.html?ref=style

Advertising

Today's New York Times has an interesting article on ABC's plans to alter commercial breaks. The article does not raise any specific new ideas, but there should be more news coming soon.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/21/business/media/21adco.html?ref=media

One of my favorite features of DVR remains never watching commercials, and I imagine I am not the only television watcher with an aversion to commercials. So much television, yet so little time.

This American Life

Two of my favorite things are coming together: This American Life and television! I hope it works. Unfortunately, it will air on Showtime, which I don't subscribe to. This new development may push me over the edge, as I'm already tempted by The Tudors. Showtime is quickly catching up to HBO with their original series. As an added temptation, Showtime has also placed the first two episodes of The Tudors online. I wish HBO would start placing shows online instead of OnDemand; DirectTV doesn't carry OnDemand.

http://www.thislife.org/ has three television trailers of This American Life available to view online

and

episode one online at http://www.sho.com/site/thisamericanlife/video.do?source=blogs (thanks to my fabulous roommate for the episode link)

This American Life (the tv show) premieres Thursday, March 22 at 10:30 p.m. Eastern on Showtime.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Boysenberry wheat

Every year Samuel Adams sponsors a home brew contest. I just picked up the six-pack "Long Shot" that features two bottles each of the three winning beers. I tried the Boysenberry Wheat beer brewed by Ken Smith, and it was delicious. I'm a huge fan of the Sam Adams Cheery Wheat, but I daresay the Boysenberry Wheat was even more refreshing. I wouldn't mind a bit if the lovely folks at Samuel Adams decided to bottle Boysenberry Wheat all by itself or in combination packs with Cherry Wheat. Yummy.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

on women writers and their opinions

Stop the Presses, Boys! Women Claim Space on Op-Ed Pages by Patricia Cohen

Cohen presents a lovely look at the dearth of female op-ed writers in the country. I'm also glad to know there are people trying to remedy the situation. Having a wide variety of voices and backgrounds is crucial to great op-ed pages and the discourse these pages should foster. As I'm in the midst of Barack Obama's The Audacity of Hope, I daresay a diversity of voices remains critical for the success of a democracy as well.

Andy Barker P.I.

I am a huge fan of television online. Kudos to NBC for putting six episodes of Andy Barker P.I. online. I haven't seen the show yet, but the reviews I've seen are all quite positive.

http://www.nbc.com/Video/rewind/full_episodes/andybarker.shtml

I am still harboring a slight grudge that it's taking over 30 Rock's timeslot when I've finally discovered that show, but if I had to pick replacement programming or reruns, I would choose the replacement. I do advocate, however, for a reality-style, cable-style year-round schedule that doesn't include reruns or fill-in programs.

Midwestern humor

Today's Non Sequiter comic strip:

http://www.gocomics.com/nonsequitur/2007/03/15/

I admit that I am rather sensitive to Midwestern humor, but this one is actually funny. A joke about Iowa, television news and celebrity gossip? It's golden.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

the endangered list 2007

Variety is now reporting on the television shows whose fate will be determined in the coming months as the networks finish their primetime schedules for the fall. Here are the shows I currently DVR and my thoughts on their possible cancellation:

1. 30 Rock - I believe 30 Rock is the funniest show on television. Granted, I also believe there is not nearly enough competition in this category. I was late to come to 30 Rock due to (in my opinion) poor scheduling. It airs in the same timeslot as Grey's Anatomy and The O.C. (R.I.P.), and my DVR can only handle two shows at once. I'm only three episodes in, but I love it. If I were wagering, I would bet NBC will keep 30 Rock; it's only mildly underperforming, and it does air against the two most-watched shows of the season (American Idol not withstanding).

2. Friday Night Lights - I have never watched this show due to scheduling conflicts (Bones, Jericho & now America's Next Top Model). I plan to catch up on the season as soon as the dvds are released, and then I will offer a full opinion. I'm guessing the combination of good writing, sports and teen melodrama will have be hooked.

3. Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip - I love this show, but I won't be terribly broken-hearted if it isn't renewed. I think it's had a fantastic run, but I also fear it's already hit its stride. The last couple of episodes (before it went on hiatus) were lackluster. If it comes back, I hope it returns to its early ways.

4. Law & Order - If I were writing this post last year, I would be ambivalent on the future of L&O. Have you seen the show this season? I finally enjoy Jesse L. Martin as a detective, although admittedly, he did have a few shining moments in the Jerry Orbach days. Milena Govich is the best female detective on tv after Mariska Hargitay (oh, how I love Mariska). Alana de la Garza manages to bring freshness as another attractive, young ADA. Her role has been rehashed by nearly countless actresses over the years, and she is the first in years to make me want to watch the second half of the episode too. The writers have gotten creative again; they are not only ripping from the headlines, they're tearing them to shreds. L&O is one of the shows that sits in my DVR the shortest amount of time, and I have faith in it returning. I would love to see a timeslot shift away from the Friday night wasteland, where i'ts doomed to mostly those who DVR. If it played during the week I think people might realize that despite its age, this show is the freshest it's ever been.

5. Law & Order: Criminal Intent - For me, CI falls into two categories: the Chris Noth episodes and the Vincent D'Onofrio episodes. I wait with baited breath for the opening credits, and as soon as I see the face of the leading man I squeal (Noth) or groan a little (D'Onofrio). Now, I've always loved the show, despite Kathryn Erbe's lackluster character. I can't say if it's the acting or the writing, but it's a weak detective role. Chris Noth and Julianne Nicholson, however, are a delightful combination. Nicholson is a gem, and I credit the writers for delivering a dynamite female detective role. She may be new and a little green, but she holds her own with Logan. I also surprisingly love Bogosian on the show; he and Noth manage to make me laugh in the midst of tragedy every time. I would be less upset if CI were cancelled than if L&O were cancelled, but I still think this show should stick around. I would change the timeslot; I don't think it leads into SVU well. I'm strictly a DVR gal, but I never watch the shows back to back. Move it to the Monday night wasteland, where there is barely any crime drama.

6. The Nine - I love this show, and I try to block it out because I am still mad at ABC for yanking into hiatus when they spent months intriguing me with teaser ads. I want to know what's happening in their lives! Apparently it's not gone for good yet. I doubt ABC will bring it back, but I do hope they put it out on dvd for those of us who did watch religiously each week and still wonder what happened to those nine people inside the bank.

7. Jericho - I love(d) this show. When I actually sit down to watch it, I enjoy it immensely. It took a long hiatus, however, and since it came back in late February, all of the new episodes are still sitting in my DVR waiting to be watched. I'm sure it will be satisfying and enjoyable to finally sit down and watch them, but it always seems there's something else I'd rather watch. I'm ambivalent about it coming back. I think it's a well-written and well-acted program, but also think it has severe long-term limitations. I would rather it be tied up well this spring and not come back then wither and die because it was a ratings gem the network didn't know when to quit (hello Lost). I think Jericho has the potential for two to four strong seasons of story.

Seven shows I watch are in jeopardy. I'll be interested to see what new programs come from development this season as well. My current television rotation is heavy in reality and crime drama. I would love to see more viable comedies (the kind that actually make me laugh out loud) and more dramas with characters I care about through those long mid-season reruns. Stay tuned...

Here's the article in Variety
http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117960879.html?categoryid=14&cs=1

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The 50 Book Challenge: the year so far

I'm taking part in the 2007 50 Book Challenge. The premise is simple: read fifty books this year. I've always sort of aspired to this challenge in some form, although the number of books changes. I loved reading Sara Nelson's So Many Books, So Little Time: A Year of Passionate Reading several years ago, and I'm trying to be more proactive about keeping up with the books I read. I gave up buying books years ago, as a means of saving money and because I can't seem to stop moving. Without the ability to look up at my shelves to remember what I've read, I've started keeping spreadsheets of the books I read each year.

I'm not off to the best start, but I hope to finish strong. Here's my reading list so far:
0 stars - hated it
1 star - eh
2 stars - liked it
3 stars - loved it
4 stars - life-changing

1. Giotto's Hand by Iain Pears (3 stars - loved it!)
I loved this installment of the art history mysteries. It's art, travel and intrigue. Reading it in Italy was fun too.

2. Rise and Shine by Anna Quindlen (2 stars - liked it)
I had never read any Quindlen before this book, and I enjoyed it. I think the novel started quite strong, but it started to fizzle for me. It is worth reading.

3. The Abortionist's Daughter by Elisabeth Hyde (3 stars - loved it!)
Stunningly beautfiful prose, strong characters and a little bit of mystery.

4. The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig (0 stars - hated it!)
Don't bother.

5. Freakonomics by Steven Levitt (3 stars - loved it!)

6. Julie and Julia by Julie Powell (3 stars - loved it!)

7. Death Dance by Linda Fairstein (3 stars - loved it!)

On the nature of laughter

From today's New York Times, a reminder of why I read the science section religiously. True, I may rarely understand what the writers are talking about, but the articles are always informative and well-written, and I figure as long as I learn something, I'm ahead. This article, though, is pop-culture intriguing. The sociologist in me loves it.

"What's So Funny? Well, Maybe Nothing" by John Tierney
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/13/science/13tier.html?ref=science

Midwestern bias or "did anybody actually watch Duke play basketball this year?"

Joe Posnanski's take on the selection committee's mistakes:
http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/sports/columnists/joe_posnanski/16884642.htm
For the uninitiated, Joe Posnanski is one of the best sportswriters in the country. He happens to write for The Kansas City Star, and he also happens to be one of two great sportswriters for the paper. Unfortunately, most of the country does not care much about the Kansas sports, so most of the country does not know who he is. Of course, I also think most of the country does not read nearly as much sports journalism as I do.