Monday, April 30, 2007

some good bad tv news

Thank you, CW, for giving my favorite bad tv show, The Pussycat Dolls Present: The Search for the Next Doll live on. The CW is now casting for Season Two. While my favorite dramas and comedies may be dropping like flies, reality tv lives on, for better or worse. Do you think Robin will let Melissa S. compete again? May I submit an application on her behalf?

it must be in the water

The comics are good today! Non Sequiter follows suit.

mission accomplished? (part two)


A fitting gem from Mike Luckovich.

mission accomplished?


Ann Telnaes has another gem today.

nerdy cakes




I love cakes. I love frosting more. I love elaborate, frosted theme cakes most of all. Geeksugar has pictures of nerdy cakes. My favorite is the Super Mario cake. Fantastic. I wonder if the creators could make a Cheer Bear frolicking in Care-a-lot version for me!

random guest appearance

Billie Jean King guest-starred as a judge in last week's Law & Order. I have no idea what actually happened in the scene because I was transfixed by her presence. Shouldn't she get a special guest appearance credit at the beginning to forewarn me? It was a great episode, although rather reminiscent of SVU with the whole kidnapped Russian teenage girls for prostitution ring theme. Let me mention again, programming gods at NBC, please don't cancel Law & Order. It's the best it's been in years.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

law & order

Clearly I won't be the only one upset if Law & Order is cancelled. New York-based actors have been the backbone of the program for years, and there aren't many opportunities out there for television roles in New York.

On a related note, I believe I officially have too much time on my hands when I read the Post every day instead of waiting for Gawker to fill me in.

best advertisement ever?

Check out the new The Economist ad. Coolest ad ever?

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

yeltsin

Next to Bill Clinton and George Bush (41), Putin looks downright giddy at the Yeltsin funeral. Seriously, how creepy are the simultaneous frowns of Clinton and 41? And when did Bill get so old?

for the young fan in us all...

Entertainment Weekly has a mini-interview with Kelly Ripa this week about her stint hosting the TV Land Awards. (sidebar - I love award shows, and I watch most of them, but I don't get the concept of TV Land handing out awards).

EW: For the awards show, Ripa re-created the Laverne & Shirley opening with the real Shirley, Cindy Williams.

Ripa: "I literally looked at her and said, 'Besides the birth of my children, this is the most exciting moment of my life.' And she looked at me with such pity.


Priceless. Haven't we all had a moment of childhood dreams fulfilled?


long lost relatives?

How much does Christian Perry (the swing instructor from Dancing with the Stars this week) look like Max Crumm (Broadway's new Danny Zuko)?

the new pussycat doll

I did watch the finale of Pussycat Dolls Present: The Search for the Next Doll. This episode shall be known as the hour of disrespect. I couldn't even follow all the accusations of disrespect, and listening to tiny, whiny teenagers talk about disrespect without actually ever talking about respect is nauseating.

Overall, this season was amazing. It suffered from the illness that sometimes strikes reality tv finales. There can be no good conclusion. As fun as it is to cheer against someone (Asia) all season, it's not nearly as satisfying in the final episode to cheer for anyone but Asia to win. A villain is fine, but if no heroine emerges, the villains defeat or victory is dull. I was left with only Melissa to cheer for, but I wasn't terribly disappointed when she failed to win. I do think Asia's win is a joke, but I don't really take the Dolls that seriously anyway. I love the show, but I don't love the band. My fascination with the Dolls will lay dormant until another season comes along.

Please, bring on Pussycat Dolls Present:The Search for Another Doll. CW, you have so few good shows, you can afford another season-long commercial for the band.

inferno 3

I confess to watching the latest installment of the Real World/Road Rules Challenge. I no longer watch The Real World or Road Rules, and I don't even know who many of the contestants are. Cast members are no longer identified by their season of origin. The veterans are better known for their frequent Challenge appearances, and the newbies are disposable until they develop their own Challenge identity.

Despite my long-standing enjoyment of this program, I cannot bring myself to take it seriously anymore. I no longer mourn the elimination of my favorites because I know they'll be back sooner or later. I can't remember who won Challenges or infernos or gauntlets. I enjoy it, but I don't quote statistics. Clearly Rachel (from The Real World:Austin) who still has her affinity for talking about her time in ironic, does not realize Challenges are a pale imitation of what they once were. After losing in the inferno she whined, "It's just being so ashamed that some chubby civilian girl can beat me." Do you remember Rachel? She was the chubby girl in Austin who got included in the token male magazine shoot but was much more covered than the other girls? She now has bigger boobs, which I suppose helps the proportions, but the girl is chubby. She lost to Jenn, who is an NFL cheerleader. Have you ever seen a chubby NFL cheerleader? Rachel, chubbiness is not a bad thing, and a little more girth might have helped you in a jousting challenge. Still, Rachel left saying, "I'll never be able to live this down." I see her introductory interview for Inferno 9 now, "I'm here to avenge losing the joust to Jenn."

Settle down and get drunk; alcohol makes Challenges so much more fun.

kellie pickler

I didn't watch American Idol much last season, and I emerged with no opinion on Kellie Pickler. I do, however, listen to country music, where both Kellie and Bucky Covington have good singles. I adore her single "I Wonder" so much that each time it comes on, I turn the volume up.

I was pleased to start up this week's Opry Live to see her actually perform. She still performs like she's trying to hard; she hasn't yet developed the natural confidence on stage. She's good, but she looks like she's thinking. For her finale, she saved "I Wonder." For the first time in her performance, she stopped trying too hard and just sang. Kellie wrote this song herself. She sat down on stage and just sang. She was in tears by the end, as were most of the audience members the camera panned to. The Opry gave her a standing ovation, and she deserved it. I was clapping from home. It was a beautiful performance.

Opry Live is wonderful at evoking emotional moments for both the live audience and the home audience. It's also excellent at showcasing the awkward clapping of white people during the upbeat numbers. Shamelessly, I enjoy both.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

i heart 30 rock

The best moment in last week's episode of 30 Rock:

"How Sex & the City are we? I’m Samantha. (To Phoebe) You’re Charlotte. (To Liz) And you’re the lady at home who watches it."

Are you watching 30 Rock yet?

the ny times wedding announcements

When I leave two weeks worth of dirty laundry for Sunday at the laundromat, I treat myself with a Sunday New York Times to read while I wash and dry. I confess, the Sunday Styles section is one of my favorites. (Sidebar - did you read the cover feature about Digging for Truth? I set my DVR immediately). I also confess to loving the wedding announcements. I don't always read them all, but I make a point to read the long ones. The tales of how our newlyweds came to find one another can produce bizarre stories. I once had the idea for a short story collection based solely on tales from the Times wedding announcements. I might still write those one day.

Clearly, I'm not the only one with this bizarre fascination. Gawker has a delightful scoring system, Altarcations, for the level of WASPiness among newlyweds.

bob dylan biopic

Normally I wouldn't post on upcoming movie news, but I am too intrigued by Todd Haynes latest creation I'm Not There not to. This film features several actors (Heath Ledger, Christian Bale, Richard Gere and Cate Blanchett to name four) portraying Bob Dylan. The film is set to premiere at Cannes this year, but photos of Cate Blanchett as Dylan have already surfaced. If you weren't excited yet, you better get ready. Cannes kicks off in less than a month. I'm already predicting a SAG Award for best ensemble cast.

Monday, April 23, 2007

ann telnaes

My favorite political cartoonist and one of the Six Chix, Ann Telnaes, puts her tragically not funny take on the so-called partial birth abortion ban.

the demise of jael

I knew from the first classic Jael quote of the episode that she was done for. The editors clearly were using the episode as a Jael best-of retrospective. As I've said before, this season continues to use a single outfit for the confessional scenes, and most of her comments are geared to the generic "I don't want to go home because...".

The highlights of the episode where the girls had to make a commercial and appear coherent:

"I have complete faith in myself because I am the spreader of light." - Jael

"I would make the best correspondent out of the group because I have the look and I'm able to talk." - the ever-confident Natasha, who did in fact win both the correspondent challenge and the commercial shoot despite her thick Russian accent and often nonsensical word order. I give her credit for mastering an Australian accent better than the others.

When the models departed for Australia, the producers threw in a nifty computer map showing the audience exactly where Australia is in the world. The map sequence played like an homage to Our Lips are Sealed, the classic Mary-Kate and Ashley film set in Australia, of course. I may be the only one to enjoy it, but somehow I imagine I'm not the only MK&A film fan who watches Top Model.

Depressing story of the day, channeling poor Danielle from The Bachelor, "When I was in high school, I got run over by a car, had eight staples in my head and it affected the memory part of my brain." - Brittany, who actually had an excuse for her inability to memorize dialogue.

"I think that I'm really good at speaking with other human beings." - Jael, whom I imagine is also really good at speaking with animals, plants and other inanimate objects.

"The best thing about being at this shoot is that I'm surrounded by nature. I'm finally at home, and I get to run free." - Jael, who's from Detroit.

"I just wanna touch the grass and the animals and like breathe the air and climb the trees." -yes, Jael actually said that; I couldn't make it up.

Finally, in conclusion, "I'm not finished spreading the joy to the universe." - Jael

How do you think Whitney's dad feels now that she gave up Dartmouth to be outlasted in a competition by Jael?

This week brings the dreaded highlights episode. What I love most about reality television is their lack of repeats. Bring me an uninterrupted season, please!

Drive

I watched the first three episodes of Drive last night. I didn't intend to sit down and watch all three, but I was immediately hooked. It's not the best show on television, but it is good. It's entertaining and, more importantly, it's intelligent. There is a lot of suspense, and one can only hope its genuine suspense rather than suspense for the sake of it (Hello, Lost). The premise is an illegal, secret cross-country road race. Racers receive clues on their cell phones. The clues are slightly mysterious and fun to figure out. Remember when Amazing Racers had to decipher clues in season one? My one fear for this show is early cancellation due to poor ratings and those millions of us who were watching are left with far too many questions. I'm still upset at ABC for yanking The Nine.

Watch Drive online now.

Friday, April 20, 2007

on menstruation

When I clicked on the business tab of today's New York Times, I wasn't expecting an article about menstruation to be the lead story.

First came the quarterly period. Now we are about to have the option to take an oral contraceptive that would completely eliminate menstruation as long as the woman takes it. Women generally hate to menstruate but don't necessarily want to give it up. This issue fascinates me both sociologically and medically.

Dickens World

It's a theme park inspired by the works of Charles Dickens. The Boston Globe begins, "In Dickens World, rat catchers hunt vermin on London's cobbled streets, pickpockets roam the alleys -- and visitors line up for a fun-tastic water ride." The full article.

I do hope this delightful attraction makes the itinerary for next year's trip to England.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

the bachelor: episode three

Is it only week three? This show gets more dull each episode. The first episode was entertaining. By the time the third episode rolls around, it gets a little sad that all of the women seem to believe they're in love. It will now stay slightly depressing, except for a few cat fights fueled by champagne, until Andy proposes.

Memo to the producers of The Bachelor: Boot camp is dull; drunken baking is good television.

The lowlights:

"Erin may have bleach-blond hair and look like a Barbie doll, but she sure knows how to do some manly things, like shoot guns. So, that's attractive." -Andy, who mistakenly confuses "manly" with shooting guns. Even more unfortunately, this episode aired on the same day as the Virginia Tech massacre, and I think most agree his shooting spree was far from manly.

"He's a boy, like, of course he'd love to drive these kind of cars. I think he's looking for a girl that's like the exact same as him." - Kate, who actually owns her own business. Has any show ever had so many gender stereotypes? Sadly, I'm sure the answer is yes.

"She seemed really giddy and happy. She showed me a different side of her." - Andy on Danielle, of dead college boyfriend fame. She actually seems quite sweet, but either she only talks to Andy about the death of her college boyfriend, or the editors have only shown those conversations. Creepy death update of the week: Danielle was in bed with him when he passed away.

Erin is a financial analyst? Oddly, both of the women eliminated were financial analysts.

I am seriously questioning my continued viewing of this show. I do believe alcohol will be mandatory for future episodes.

john ratzenberger

John Ratzenberger was absolutely delightful to watch on Dancing with the Stars this week. I actually clapped. ABC has a partial clip. Choose John Ratzenberger: Week 5.

goodbye, whitney

I'm a week behind on America's Next Top Model somehow.

I do believe Natasha's baby might be the cutest one ever. Ever.

Is it a sign Top Model is declining when Tia Mowery makes her second celebrated appearance in one season? Or is The Game actually a good program?

Dionne, whom I found boring and dull the first few weeks has made me love her. She embodies one of the biggest (and most surprising) transformations in any season. I would like to see a season without eliminations. Go ahead and rank the models somehow, but it would be sociologically intriguing to see if there are more hidden Dionne's out there who didn't have enough time to shine.

I thoroughly enjoy Top Model, and this season is wildly entertaining. From the beginning, I did not look forward to anyone being eliminated. Back in week one, when Kathleen clearly had the worst picture, I wanted her to stay just to listen to her confessionals for a few more weeks. One of my least favorite parts of reality television remains eliminating at the end of the show. It's the same reason I partially loathe the NCAA basketball tournament. I want to know when my favorite is playing his last game, or when my favorite model is doing her last photo shoot. I adore Whitney, and while it was clear she was not going to be around too much longer, I didn't get to savor all of her moments in the episode because I didn't know it would be her last.

pussycat dolls: the final three

I knew it was coming. Robin Antin and I clearly have different taste. Perhaps it makes more sense now that I never took the group seriously. At this point, I might not even watch the finale, although I feel fairly confident the remaining Melissa will win. Here are some collected thoughts on this episode and the season in general.

I do, however, adore Mikey Minden. I do believe in the last episode he dethroned Laurie Ann "boom cat" Gibson as my favorite reality tv choreographer.

Melissa Smith, my favorite, and the winner of the only challenge that involved the audience voting, has been out to prove herself all season. She has the cynicism of coming so close to "making the band", and this time around she won't relax. She has the uber-focus all the teams on The Amazing Race:All-Stars have this season. On All-Stars, it's not as fun to watch, but Melissa was a joy to watch. She dominates the frame. She has that Margot Fontaine-you-can't-take-your-eyes-off-of-her quality when she's on stage. Alas, Robin Antin wins, and Melissa loses. I can only hope she finds something better than Danity Kane and the Pussycat Dolls. There has to be a venue out there to support her talent.

Chelsea belongs on American Idol. She would win. She's cute and she can sing. She's not a dancer, and she doesn't need to be too much of a performer when she can sing so beautifully and strong. She has zero chance of actually making the Pussycat Dolls.

A continued amusement of the show this season is Mark McGrath's ever-evolving description of Lil' Kim. First it was one of the most successful female rappers of all time. Given. Next it was one of the most successful female recording artists of all time. Maybe. Then it came one of the most successful female singers of all time. Hardly; she raps. Finally, Lil' Kim has been named one of the most successful female entertainers of all time. I absolutely love Kim as a judge, but, please. She's judging the search for the next Pussycat Doll. How much credibility does that require?

Robin chooses the songs and assigns the songs. I think the entire practice is shady. Robin wants the illusion of a contest. She has been orchestrating Melissa R. to win from day one.

The last four finalists are all quite small, yet when we see the PCDs, they all seem quite tall. Perhaps it's all an illusion.

One final observation: Is it Asia or Top Model's Jaslene who looks more like a drag queen?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Ahoy!: Pirate Master

I am ridiculously excited for Mark Burnett's latest reality show, Pirate Master. The premiere date is set for May 31. A summer with Big Brother and Pirate Master? Oh, CBS, I am falling a little more in love with thee.

The description from the CBS press release:
"Pirate Master will send 16 modern-day pirates on a high seas adventure where they will live as buccaneers and travel around the Caribbean island of Dominica in search of hidden treasure that will total $1 million. Over the course of 33 days, these pirates will live aboard a massive 179 foot, square-rigged barque which carries 12,500 square feet of sail.

Each week, the pirates will embark on extraordinary expeditions where they will decipher clues along the way in search of missing treasure. Gold coins -- real money which the pirates may take with them beyond the show -- will be awarded after each expedition, but only to some. The gold will play a key role as pirates strike deals with each other or plead for long-term security. In addition to claiming the lion's share of the week's riches, one pirate will become the captain of the ship and will assign roles and chores to the remaining crew members, setting the tone for either law and order or betrayal and sabotage, which could lead to mutiny by the crew.

Each episode will conclude on the ship at Pirate's Court, a lively gathering of public speaking and judgment where one individual will be eliminated and "cut adrift." In the end, one will be the first to find the largest booty, worth $500,000, and claim the title of "Pirate Master."

It better be as cool as it sounds. Did I mention the host is Australian? Ahoy! indeed.

Menudo!

After a disturbing (to me) and disappointing (surely I'm not alone?) conclusion to Pussycat Dolls:The Search for the Next Doll this week, MTV has once again come to the rescue with its upcoming reality series Road to Menudo. Johnny Wright is back!

Apparently MTV has a Latin American channel, Tr3s. I hope the show will find its way to my MTV or at least my computer.

My favorite part of the press release: "Contestants must be at least 15 years old and look no more than 19 years old." In the spirit of 90210, please bring on the Gabrielle Carteris of young Latin men.

the full story

Kansas Music Hall of Fame

I was watching the Grand Ole Opry this weekend. I look forward to it every Saturday, even though I wish the unedited Opry would be televised. During Martina McBride's interview, the token attractive female reporter asked her about her recent induction into the Kansas Music Hall of Fame. I love the state of Kansas, and I love trivia about Kansas, and I have never heard of the Kansas Music Hall of Fame. Off the top of my head, I could think of three artists, including Martina McBride who might be in this Hall of Fame. (The other two are Melissa Ethridge and Jennifer Knapp). I did a little investigating and discovered that the Kansas Hall of Fame is quite new, does not have a location and includes many people I've never heard of. Now I'm on a quest for Kansas music history knowledge.

American Idol: country week

I watched my first American Idol episode of the season. As a pop culture observer, I already know quite a bit about this season's finalists. I picked country week to watch. Here are my one-week assessments of the finalists:

(in order of appearance)
1. Phil Stacey singing "Where the Blacktop Ends" (Keith Urban)
I do not like this song, but Phil sang it better than Keith Urban does. I am a huge fan of Keith Urban sometimes ("You'll Think of Me") and find him forgettable other times ("Where the Blacktop Ends" or "Stupid Boy"). Phil seems to be capable of a few country cds that could field a few country hits. He might even crack the Kansas Music Hall of Fame with Martina.

2. Jordin Sparks singing "Broken Wing" (Martina McBride)
Again, I don't like the song. I'm not a huge Martina fan, although there are a few of her songs I adore. Jordin was goose-bump and tear-in-eye inducing amazing. I hope she wins. I might even buy her record. I may spend the afternoon trying to find a good copy of her performance from last night. She was that good.

3. Sanjaya singing "Let's Give Them Something to Talk About" (Bonnie Raitt)
The vixen in me has been cheering for Sanjaya to win without seeing him perform. He is not a good singer, but the boy has stage presence. He has a future in broadcast. This season of Idol has been lackluster at best, and I think adding Sanjaya as a host might spice things up for the inevitable Season 7. I'm sure we're stuck with Seacrest too, but some Sanjaya banter would lighten up the trite squabbling of Simon and Ryan. I still hope he wins.

4. LaKisha Jones singing "Jesus Take the Wheel" (Carrie Underwood)
Another song I don't like, and I am a Carrie Underwood fan. I even paid for her record. Carrie sings this song better. LaKisha was dull; she lacks starpower. I would be curious to see her perform a different style, but her presence didn't grab me at all. I'd watch Sanjaya sing over her. Pizazz is powerful.

5. Chris Richardson singing "Mayberry" (Rascal Flatts)
I see why LC greets his arrival with such joy. He has presence. He transforms into sexy Justin Timberlake-style. You might not pick him out of a line-up as the cutest, but in the end, he is. His performance was okay. He sounded almost creepily like Gary LeVox. It wasn't unique, but it was entertaining. Please find him another show, reality or not, to be on. Dare I hope for The Hills Season Three?

6. Melinda Doolittle singing "Trouble is a Woman" (no one anyone has ever heard of)
I understand Melinda is one of the front-runners this season. She was good. She is clearly talented, but I don't think she's a recording star. She could succeed on Broadway. Melinda strikes me as one who could go out before she should because she's everyone's second favorite. She's good, but you don't quite love her.

7. Blake Lewis singing "When the Stars Go Blue" (Ryan Adams)
I spent most of his performance fuming that the credit of this song was going to Tim McGraw. Ryan Adams did it first, then One Tree Hill's cast almost did it to death, then Tim McGraw got around to it. (On a similar note, have you heard the new country covers of "Lips of an Angel" and "Life is a Highway"? Of the latter, nomadreaderboy exclaimed "Finally!" when it came on the radio on the road trip. Laughter ensued.) Now, I like Tim McGraw, but he shouldn't try to take on Ryan Adams. Neither should Blake Lewis. Perhaps it's because he was the last too perform, but he seemed the most forgettable.

I likely won't watch another episode this season, unless Sanjaya does actually make it to the final. I might watch the performance clips of a few online. This show needs to reinvigorate itself. People are still watching, but they're not watching for the same reasons they have in past seasons.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Fly Me to the Moon by Alyson Noel

2.5 stars - really liked it (or half way between liked it and loved it)

Fly Me to the Moon is a delightful, fast read about a jet-setting flight attendant and aspiring novelist with the usual love problems and penchant for awkward situations. The main character is immensely likeable, and despite the novel being somewhat predictable, it was still a joy to read. I wanted to know how it would all happen, even though I thought I knew what was going to happen. I could not put this novel down. Instead of making the seven minute walk to my office from the parking deck, I took the shuttle so I could read another ten pages. If time allowed, I would have gladly finished this gem in one sitting. I do highly recommend this book; it's entertaining, well-written and fun.

This novel is Noel's first one for adults, but I did put her young adult novels on hold to read soon. I want to invite Alyson Noel over for dinner and wine to talk about travel, reading and writing.

Alyson Noel has a blog too

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Notes from the Underbelly: first thoughts

After a mini-marathon of The Shield (season one) last night, I was searching the DVR for something a little less intense. I decided to give Notes from the Underbelly a try, despite its almost universally bad reviews. I was, afterall, the only one in the country who enjoyed and laughed at Heather Graham's far-too-short-lived Emily's Reasons Why Not.

I laughed out loud three times before the opening credits of Notes from the Underbelly. The two episodes were so good I saved them to watch again with nomadreaderboy. The show is smart and funny. It's not set-up like a sitcom: the action doesn't stop when the viewer laughs. It's a dryer, smarter humor, very much in the style of Tina Fey. The cast includes Jennifer Westfeldt, co-writer and star of Kissing Jessica Stein (fantastic film); Peter Cambor, who was a Tom Cavanaugh-esque quality to him (that's a big compliment: I loved both Ed and the far-too-short-lived Love Monkey); Michael Weaver, who's guest starred on multiple Law & Order series, so he must have some acting chops; Rachael Harris, who's been funny in everything; and Sunkrish Bala, who played that one night stand of Meredith on Grey's Anatomy deftly, plus he's funny. It's a strong cast, and despite being billed as the comedy about pregnancy, it's not. Two of the main characters are pregnant, but it's a show about five friends. It's not gimmicky; it's just funny.

This show has staying power, if it can find the ratings. Naturally, ABC is choosing Wednesday at 8:30 for this gem. There are already three shows I enjoy in that time slot! Please, ABC, find a good spot for a good comedy. In week two, the show will already be in its second timeslot. Find it a good home.

If you liked Mean Girls, or you like 30 Rock, watch Notes from the Underbelly. You may even catch up by watching it online .

Friday, April 13, 2007

top design: the finale (or the supremacy of Monochromatic Matt)

I waited a few days to watch the season finals of Top Design. The top two were a disappointment. Monochromatic Matt has been dull throughout, while Carisa uses even excess to the excess. Mostly, Carisa is more irritating than her rooms. She has come on strong the last few weeks, although I still find her immature and obnoxious. Since the first week, with the unfortunate partner challenge, strong and innovative designers have gone home. The show itself is not dull, but the designers who move on often have been. As on Project Runway, and to a lesser extent, Top Chef, group challenges are irritating to watch and lead to unsatisfying eliminations.

My distaste for Carisa and more often than not, her aesthetic, is not a secret. Mostly I forget about Matt, until he made it so far I had to remember him, even if I can't recall a single of his interior designs. When I sat down to watch, I wanted Carisa to lose. I didn't think Matt deserved to win, but I figured the producers wouldn't pull a Big Brother and bring Goil back into the mix.

The loft concept was a good one. Carisa surprised me. I liked her loft. I liked her color choice, and the bed was genius, fun, and absolutely channeled Big. I would buy that loft just to have that bedroom space. (I would also add three walls of bookshelves and mount a plasma on the fourth, if I could afford to purchase such a space.) The bedroom in Carisa's loft was far and away the best piece of design in either loft. For once her pillows weren't over doing it. She stayed true to her vision, taste and aesthetic, but she did it in a more beautiful way. Perhaps she needed a bigger room from the beginning. In my mind, Carisa clearly should have won. Granted, in my mind, neither Carisa nor Matt should have even had a spot in the finals.

Matt's loft was dull. The only thing in his refrigerator was a bottle of Grey Goose, which could explain his increasing skinniness. Have a drink and think something up, Matt! As he said, "I love to go home at night to a place that's sterile." Sterile should not be a desirable word in interior design it seems to me; sterile is for hospitals. Whereas Jonathan Adler, with his patented smile-smirk said of Carisa's space, "That bedroom was really fun. I can imagine getting into some really freaky scenes in that pit." It's not exactly the image of Adler I wanted, but it showcases the creativity in Carisa's design. Sterile or creative? You idiots chose sterile? My money's on Margaret orchestrating the whole affair. She knows Carisa has no place in Elle Decor, and sterile is perhaps what her readers want. It may be Elle Decor's style, but Top Design certainly showed a lack of style.

I do hope the series returns for another season. It's an intriguing, if not always well-executed, concept. I do hope the next season brings a little more flair with its style.

the bachelor: episode two

Episode two begins with me wondering when the arrest record and mug shot of one of the ladies will appear online.

Andy starts us off with "Operation: Soulmate is about to begin" and one large grin. Someone is channeling Maverick, which makes me remember when Tom Cruise was endearing.

"I guess I thought it would be funny to fake an injury and get Andy's attention." - Tessa, after falling off the mechanical bull. She did open with the muffin joke, but surprisingly, I like her.

Andy - "I'm really excited to see what Stephanie pulls our. She's a gymnast. She has lots of talents." Such as? Seriously, my girl from Kansas stayed on the bull, and she was the only one. Kansas is regaining credibility after crazy Lindsay's departure.

"This is the kind of place where I think something magical could happen and possibly I could fall in love." - Amanda, about Los Angeles, reminding the world she is from Texas.

"I heard that you were home schooled." - Andy. Where did he hear that? Meddling producers! At least pass along interesting facts about the ladies.

"I'm conservative, yet open-minded." If the conservatives are dating fifteen women at a time on national television...it is for the grand purpose of Operation: Soulmate. He has pure intentions. Why else would Stephanie South Carolina get the first impression rose?

"I was in heaven with seven women in my arms, under the stars, on a roof deck on the Sunset Strip; it doesn't get any better than that." - Andy, embracing his multiple love theory again.

"Let's have some mimosas!" - Andy, to the ladies, before he told them they would be doing a mini-triathlon. Andy, do you always drink before swimming, biking and jogging? Has there been a scene without alcohol?

"She engages me, she challenges me, and that's really, really sexy to me." - Andy, on Tina. He sure pulls out endearing moments!

Would the casting directors of Beauty and the Geek please cast Susan and Erin. They are "soul sisters". Operation: Soulmate achieved!

"I'm a healer; I'm a doctor. And the thought of instilling some pain in people, it doesn't go very well with my heart and my mind." Andy, it's just a rose ceremony.

"Good evening, ladies. I just wanted to say thank you so much to all of you for taking this risk with me. If you don't get a rose tonight, it's just that maybe we don't have that connection, but I believe in true love, and that person's out there for you." - Andy, raising the eye-rolling meter.

During the rose ceremony, it's clear that Alexis (token virgin) has quite the twitchy nose and the evil eye. How pure are her intentions?

Another episode down, and I'm still sucked in. I'm rooting for Bevin, Stephanie Kansas, Tessa and Tina. I like Peyton too. Sometimes I even like Andy.

shear genius premieres

Shear Genius is so bad it's good.

The highlights:

Jaclyn Smith seemed to be sporting her oh-so-hip Kmart clothing line throughout the episode.

"I love hair. I love everything about hair. There is nothing better in the world than what I do." - Evangelin, mother of two, crying by the end. Later she reveals, "I'm an emotional person. I'm not going to lie."

"My comb and my shears feel like an extension of my own body." - Anthony, who clearly grew up watching Edward Scissorhands too many times.

"Of COURSE I was nervous! You know it's like going in the shower and you pull the shower curtain back and you look in the mirror and you're stark-ass naked and you look horrible and you scream?" - Jim. Perhaps I'm not old enough or gay enough to understand this comparison. Or perhaps I'm not odd enough, as Jim later uses the descriptive phrase "pickle in the middle".

The lovely Jaclyn Smith hosts this show, but to give it hairdresser cred, Sally Hershberger plays lead judge. In case you weren't familiar, Sally gave the world the Meg Ryan shag haircut.

Jaclyn Smith may be an even sweeter host than my beloved Todd Oldham. In what might be perceived as the infamous reality tv foreshadowing, she lovingly reassures the contestants, "Just remember, those of you who rank last today could be first tomorrow."

"I'm sure that everyone agrees hairstylists are artists." - the dear Jaclyn Smith. The phrase "hair art masterpiece" appears throughout the episode as well.

"I am a commercial hairdresser. I know how to cut hair. I am NOT somebody that shops at Michael's." - Paul Jean, king of snobbery, who is, in reality tv fashion, eliminated.

"After seeing some of the things people are buying, I can only imagine the tacky shit that's gonna come out of that hair." - Lacey, who naturally had the most boring style there.

In the years of reality contestants hearing it's time to see the house and actually seeing the house, this cast showed absolutely zero enthusiasm. It was only missing some nice production-added crickets.

"Talent has no age." - Theodore, who did win the challenge.

"Everyone's acting pretty friendly right now. Politenesses are on." - Tyson.

"I didn't unpack my suitcases to make it easier. Just in case. So that was my strategy of the morning." - Tabatha, it's a hair design challenge, not a packing challenge.

Tyson choosing a model, "Could I touch your hair? Do you wanna make some art? Would you like me to be your hair artist?" He sounds like a creepy man trying to give children candy. He then explains his plan of creating "a bird of paradise for a lovely dove." My eyes cannot roll fast enough.

The catchphrase: "this was your final cut."

After seeing the 'dos this episode, I sincerely hope the prize also includes styling Kelly Wearstler's hair for Top Design 2.

2007: book number eight

It's mid-April, and I finally finished book number eight. It's time to step up the pace.

Bad Blood by Linda Fairstein
3 stars - loved it

Bad Blood is Fairstein's best book yet. It's an intelligent and riveting mystery as well as intriguing look into the history and present of New York City. Fairstein takes much of the story underground, way underground, and explores the generations of men known as sandhogs, who built the subway system and build the water tunnels beneath the subway lines. It's a world I never thought of, but one that is extremely fascinating. Both the mystery and the history are intricate, but Fairstein deftly weaves the two together to bring even more depth to both.

For those who haven't read any of the Alexandra Cooper mysteries, I do recommend beginning with Final Jeopardy, the first one, and reading them in order. The novels do keep improving, but the characters are strong from the beginning, and readers will miss the joy and pain of their lives by jumping out of order.

on the pussycat dolls: the search for the next doll

I started watching Pussycat Dolls: The Search for the Next Doll expecting it to be bad. Surprisingly, it's not. Executive producer McG and creator Ken Mok have delivered a gem. It's not a reality show I watch for the bad quotes; it's actually incredibly intriguing. I admit to being emotionally attached and involved (Go Melissa S. - remember her from Making the Band 3?) Similarly, if Asia wins, I might rage at the television. In fact, every time she speaks or appears on camera, my blood pressure raises a little bit.

I will not start following the Pussycat Dolls after this show, but I do hope this series continues again each year. It's endlessly entertaining, and after seeing close-ups of some of the current PCDs, I think the group could stand to gradually add new members each year. Let's make them a modern day Menudo for the reality television generation!

As a careful reality television watcher, it is a recurring pet peeve of the cast wearing the same outfit for their confessional-style interviews. This program has the opposite problem. The cast sport different outfits and hairstyles (I counted as many as five!) throughout the episode, yet none of them were worn during the other scenes. The production of this show fascinates me almost as much as The Amazing Race. These girls seem genuinely exhausted, and they are frequently given only an hour to learn routines. Where does the time to style and restyle come in? I imagine it takes some time to take Anastacia back and forth between curly and straight. In a perfect reality television world, confessionals would feature consistent confessionals.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

on imus and the amazing race

During this week's episode of The Amazing Race: All-Stars, Dustin and Kandice chose to yield Eric and Danielle. Eric repeatedly referred to D&K as hookers throughout the rest of the episode. He called them hookers to the camera, to Danielle, and he called them hookers as he recounted the tale to other teams. I find it rather timely that this episode aired in the midst of the Imus brouhaha over his "nappy headed hos" comment. I do not condone the remarks Imus made, but I hear a clear distinction between the joking delivery of Imus and the hate-filled voice of Eric. Eric's comments hit my gut and made me nauseous, while Imus's merely made me cringe a little. Imus made an error in comedy in passing; Eric intended to defame.

I do believe the Imus controversy is a little out of hand. When the story first broke, NPR began each segment with a warning that there was graphic language that could offend listeners. This morning during the top of the hour news recap, the line "nappy headed hos" was thrown in mid-sentence without warning. We all know what Imus said; we've already become desensitized to the words and continue to argue whether intent of comedy makes a difference.

Jason Whitlock, the most honest sportswriter, tackled the issue of Imus yesterday. Here's how the column ends:

I don’t listen or watch Imus’ show regularly. Has he at any point glorified selling crack cocaine to black women? Has he celebrated black men shooting each other randomly? Has he suggested in any way that it’s cool to be a baby-daddy rather than a husband and a parent? Does he tell his listeners that they’re suckers for pursuing education and that they’re selling out their race if they do?

When Imus does any of that, call me and I’ll get upset. Until then, he is what he is — a washed-up shock jock who is very easy to ignore when you’re not looking to be made a victim.

No. We all know where the real battleground is. We know that the gangsta rappers and their followers in the athletic world have far bigger platforms to negatively define us than some old white man with a bad radio show. There’s no money and lots of danger in that battle, so Jesse and Al are going to sit it out.


The whole column is here

cute critter videos

I am not an animal person. I do admit that some animals may sometimes be cute. Nomadreaderboy loves critters, and this is for him.

My favorite freelance writer, a new animal lover, blogged the ten cutest internet animal videos. My only question is where is panda sneezes on this list?

missouri drivers

Nomadreaderboy and I made the drive from Atlanta to Kansas City and back this week. As always, it's a lovely drive until one hits St. Louis. From there, it's all nerve-wracking and horrific until the Kansas state line comes. I admit to being rather partial with my love of Kansas and detest of Missoui, but my impartial Northeastern-raised nomadreaderboy agrees: Missouri is an awful place to drive.

Imagine my delight as I'm catching up on five days worth of reading to discover Mike Hendricks' column from Monday, "Just Consider Us Skillful Drivers." It begins:

A leading men’s magazine (not the one you’re thinking of) recently put out this year’s list of the cities with the nation’s worst drivers. Naturally, St. Louis came in second.

If you’ve been through there on the interstate, then you know those maniacs missed getting first place only by virtue of a statistical fluke.

Or a payoff.

But clearly there was some kind of mistake for Kansas City to come in sixth place.

the whole column

ah, reading adventures

If you like to read at all, you will love this comic.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

america's next top model

I miss Diana. Still, this episode was quite entertaining. I am thoroughly enjoying this season, and I honestly am not rooting for anyone to stay or go. They are all good tv. Here are my favorite moments and dialogue from this week's episode:

"I can't wait to have some stimulating conversation." - Renee, on the way to a party where we see her talking to Nicole Richie about who the biggest bitch in the cast is.

"I think you're real lame. I'm Jael." - Jael, introducing herself to Jason Wahler of Laguna Beach. I give him credit for laughing as hard as I did.

"Don't mess that up; it's Hermes." - Benny Medina, who kindly handed Dionne his handkerchief while she cried about missing her daughter.

50 Cent pushed Jael into the pool. Twice (or perhaps the second shot was a replay). I'm still not sure if he was kidding, but his distaste for Jael was amusing.

"He loves music, and that's all that really matters to me in a human being." - Jael, on 50 Cent.

As an endnote, Top Model is endlessly irritation in one aspect: the women have been wearing the same outfit every episode for their interviews. I know the events of the season all take place in a short amount of time. If I produced reality television, I would improve this practice.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

interesting science news

Danish researchers have found an inexpensive and easy way to convert all bloodtypes into the universal type O.

So cool.

the bachelor

I shamefully confess to recording The Bachelor: An Officer & a Gentleman, and I more sheepishly admit to watching it the night of its premiere. Five minutes into the premiere, however, I was taking notes. This program is a sarcastic blogger's dream! The highlights for those of you too sensible (or silly) to watch:

-During the opening montage history of Andy's (the Bachelor) life, we are treated to a discolored photograph from young Andy in the early 1980's with his family, beaming while clutching a Cabbage Patch doll. What looks to his brother also hugs a CPd while grinning.

-If this man was not coached for reality television editing, I would be amazed. He is all flowery language and smiles. He meets the contenders on his 30th birthday. Without prompting he waxes poetically, "People always ask if you did something special on your birthday. What could be more special than this? I may be meeting my future wife tonight."

-Blakeney, a 29-year-old Alabama girl, opines "The Southern girl always off a little bit deeper and a little bit more true." She later drinks so much champagne she falls off her bar stool.

-I squeal a little to see a cute 22-year-old from Lawrence, Kansas. Andy even endears himself to me a little when he immediately responds, "Jayhawks!" Lindsey then confesses she's actually a Duke fan! As I scream at her through the television, I conclude she is crazy.

-Bevin, who initially seemed quite normal and I actually liked, tells Andy she's also quite athletic, "look at all these scars I have." (insert good editing - have they been watching The Amazing Race?) "You're going to like me because I like to get beat up."

-Social worker Tessa leads with a heart-wrenchingly awful joke about muffins that involved the lines "it's getting hot in here" and the other muffin responding "Whoa, a talking muffin!" Awkward.

-Linda, who has creepily perky eyes and a rather unfortunate face, says, "I kind of leave a lasting impression even though I don't mean to." She did not get a rose.

-Medical student Tina saying, "I know I'm not the prettiest girl here, and I don't have the best dress on, but I thought if I could show a little bit of talent, he'd remember me." She then sang the Star-Spangled Banner, which brought Andy to tears. I do applaud the patriotic lad for crying openly on national television during the same hour of television he openly hugged a Cabbage Patch doll. He then led a standing ovation for her, and I had to roll my eyes and ask if anyone is really that patriotic, even a Navy officer. Kudos again to the editors for panning straight to Tina during the rose ceremony introduction when Andy thanked all of the beautiful women for coming. I admit, I too, teared up a little point at Tina getting a rose.

-Andy: "Not only are they gorgeous, but they have careers!" Andy, part of me wants to like you, but you are making it quite difficult. "They have graduate degrees, and the night is still young!" Okay, redemption for thinking graduated degrees are the start to a fun night.

-Andy: "Out of 25 women, how ironic is it that one of them has my same birthday?" It's actually not ironic at all, Andy, but it is quite coincidental. The ensuing drama of the contenders begrudging the birthday girl for having a rose locked up was amusing. If I were a betting woman, I would imagine the next season of The Bachelor would feature a slew of women claiming the first night is their birthday.

-Two drunk contenders decided to make Andy a birthday cake to stand apart from the crowd. Upon discovering there were no eggs, "Do you wanna use tequila instead of eggs?" It was, of course, the ugliest cake ever but very funny to witness.

-Andy: "There are definitely women in there who I can see myself being with the rest of my life and having our children." I will overlook the misuse of who (whom), but the misuse of plural is a great Mormon joke in the making!

-As the rose ceremony wound down, the ones left roseless were a mixture of sad, pissed off and optimistic. It makes one wonder what those ladies are looking for.

-Duke-fan Lindsey proved me right by walking out of the rose ceremony when she didn't get one. Reality tv gold followed as she kept asking to go home alternating between trying to talk to producers and talking straight into the camera: "I don't give a fuck. I don't care. It's fake and stupid," as the tears stream down her face. Someone please cast her in something else. She is fabulous.

So the first episode comes to an end. I might actually make it through a season of The Bachelor for the first time ever. I am slightly curious to see whom Andy proposes to, but mostly I want to see all the drama.

Also, the Sports Guy's wife, Sports Gal is covering The Bachelor for Page 2. Check out her blog at http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=bachelor/review1

sarah hepola

My favorite freelance writer has started blogging again!


Definitely check out her celebrity sighting post from March 30 - David Canary, Tyne Daly, Joan Didion & David Hare.

Then go immediately to her hysterical take on her sexual fantasies about NPR personalities.

eco-palm sunday

I'm a little behind on my New York Times reading, but I just finished this fascinating and uplifting article on the harvesting of palms for palm Sunday. Think of these palms in the same vein as fair-trade coffee. I love this win-win solution.

the undefeated royals

The Royals are undefeated this season. I likely won't be able to claim this very much longer, but a 7-1 victory over the Red Sox on opening day helped heal my college basketball-broken heart. I didn't see the game, although I fear I missed my one chance to watch the Royals on national television this season, but I saw the score last night. I then looked at the box score and saw that our defense held the Red Sox to only one run on eight hits, while we turned twelve hits into seven runs. I saw the Red Sox scored their only run in the first inning. I saw that Gil Meche, whom I imagine few outside of Kansas City have heard of, spanked Curt Schilling, whom even the casual fan can recite statistics for. I happened to read on espn.com Schilling has lost three straight against the mighty Royals. Meche lasted 7 1/3 innings, and he got better as the game went on. It's good to be a Royals fan. Happy spring.

the closer

I remember watching the premiere episode of The Closer two years ago, but I can't recall why I didn't keep watching. In February, I DVRed the season one marathon of the show, and I finally sat down to watch an episode this weekend. Instead, I watched six. The Closer is well-written, smart, gritty and immensely watchable. It's rare that I want to sit and watch a crime drama for hours, but I could have watched the entire season in one sitting if I would have started it before 8 p.m. Kyra Segwick, whom I've always enjoyed to some extent but would not tune into a show or movie only to see her, shines.

I only have one minor issue with the show, and I imagine it is a nomadreader specific reason. James Avery plays the medical examiner. I grew up watching The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, and I have an immensely difficult time seeing him as anyone but Mr. Banks, let alone a serious doctor. Perhaps Avery does have something to do with this issue, as I have no trouble with Will Smith in dramatic roles. The character of Mr. Banks was the lone uptight, serious one in a comedy, and just as he was intentionally out of place on The Fresh Prince, he still seems out of place on The Closer. Perhaps I should give the writers and crew on The Closer more credit and presume the intention is for a medical examiner to be a little awkward and out of place. It is a reasonable assumption that one who spent his days with dead bodies would not necessarily be gregarious. Perhaps I am spoiled by Tamara Tunie, whom I still squeal each week when I remember she's in the opening credits of SVU this season, and Leslie Hendrix, she of all L&O series fame.

Even a small, silly blemish, will not keep me away from this show. It is refreshingly watchable and rewatchable crime drama. It's not just about the who, why and how: Deputy Chief Brenda Johnson makes you care about how she gets the confession. It's television on the edge of brilliance.