Thursday, May 17, 2007

is it fall yet?

All of the networks have now announced their fall television schedules, and I'm more excited about pilots than I've been in years. Thankfully, for once, there are rarely more than two shows I want to watch scheduled for the same time. Laurel's TV Picks has a fantastic (Central time) grid for each day of the week.

There are good-looking new shows, the return of almost every show I like (goodbye, Jericho) and an ingenious plot development for One Tree Hill. The senior class of main characters will graduate from high school this spring. When One Tree Hill returns in January, our gang will be out of college. Gone is the awkward transition that has killed far too many teenage-based shows. It's a win-win situation. The stars get to be their own age on screen. I think this development is brilliant, and if it's successful, I daresay other shows will follow-suit.

I also hope CBS and the other networks have learned their lessons with quality new shows like Jericho. When you take shows off the air for two months, people will likely lose interest. Story lines fade in one's memory. When you take a show off the air for two months, don't bring it back during American Idol.

Hurray up, fall, I'm ready for the new tv season already. I hope the summer fill-ins will keep me occupied in the meantime. Hello, Pirate Master and season three of The Closer.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

acm awards

I absolutely enjoyed last night's Academy of Country Music Awards. I have a love for country music that I cannot explain, but I do believe the new crop of stars are improving modern country music. Although the new crop are still ridiculously attractive, most of them are writing their own songs. I often disagree with politics of country music, but I do enjoy the camaraderie of the genre. When someone accepts an award, he or she usually goes to shake hands or hugs the other nominees on the way to the stage. The awards shows are quite meaningless, but they're a fun outlet for the stars to perform and all be together in one room.

The performances were especially strong last night. It did strike me, however, that although country singer-songwriters are emerging, the genre still lacks any back-up musician who is female. If they're out there, I want to see them. Perhaps it's not just country music, but I have far less experience with other genres. I'm sure there are talented women out there who will play guitar for a living. If not, let's start a reality tv show for a back-up female guitarist!

My favorite moment of the night was when Carrie Underwood won her first award of the evening, she stood up, hugged Tony Romo and handed him her purse to hold while she went on stage. When she won the second award, she took her clutch on stage with her. Ah, country music.

dancing with the stars

As I boycott the long-winded results show for Dancing with the Stars, I did a quick Google news search to find out who was voted off last night. I happened to pull up CNN's story on Ian Ziering's demise. They casually threw in "The 43-year-old actor...". Ian Ziering is 43? After a little research at imdb, I was still flabbergasted. Immediately, I had to find out how hold Gabrielle Carteris is (she's 46!). I remember being aware that the stars of 90210 were not high school age, but somehow my youthful mind couldn't grasp the fact that they're all much closer to my parent's age than to my age. No wonder Luke Perry is looking so rough these days (he's 42). What I find even more odd now is that Gabrielle Carteris is eleven years older than Jennie Garth. It's one thing when all of the actors are too old for their roles, but how oblivious was I to not realize that the faux high schoolers were from different decades?

Monday, May 14, 2007

ashley parker

As the faithful readers may recall, I have an odd fascination with Ashley Parker Angel. I admit to watching O-town videos, although I always drew the line at listening to the music in a purely audio format. I revered his reality tv show, There and Back; I'm still holding out hope for a second season. Wouldn't it be fun to see Lyric grow up and realize he has an even more feminine name than his father? Am I the only one who wonders how Tiffany handled the model to mom transition? What ever happened to her mother? I would love to see backstage at Hairspray.

I digress. My beloved New York Times had this fantastic piece on Ashley Parker Angel by their writer Ashley Parker. This guy remains endearing; it makes me wish he would be a star.

the business of books

Yesterday's New York Times offered this fascinating glimpse into what makes a bestseller these days. A snippet:


Eric Simonoff, a literary agent at Janklow & Nesbit Associates, said that whenever he discusses the book industry with people in other industries, “they’re stunned because it’s so unpredictable, because the profit margins are so small, the cycles are so incredibly long, and because of the almost total lack of market research.”



The inevitable follow-up question: how to you factor all the readers at libraries? Are we as irrelevant in the minds of moneymakers as DVR watchers?

oh, venice

The New York Times has this article about Venice's first female gondolier today. I adore Venice, and as a normally rather observant feminist, I was shocked to realize that there has never been a female gondolier. It surprised me to learn that it was only eight years ago a woman was first permitted to wait tables in St. Mark's Square. I was relieved I never deigned the Florian with my money or presence, as they still only allow women to wait on tables indoors, not on the piazza itself.

Perhaps I was too blinded by the beauty of Venice on my vacations there to stop and notice the rampant sexism.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

the first sentence

I've just started reading Arnaldur Indridason's follow-up to Jar City (loved it), Silence of the Grave. It's hard not to love a smart Icelandic mystery, and after finishing Jar City, I promptly made my father and nomadreaderboy read it. I imagine I'll continue to read Indridason's wonders as quickly as they're translated into English.

I only had to read as far as the first sentence to get my first treat in this novel.

"He knew at once it was a human bone, when he took it from the baby who was sitting on the floor chewing it."

It's simply divine.

the life and times of the thunderbolt kid by bill bryson

1.5 stars (between eh and liked it)


I really wanted to love this book. I'm a Midwesterner who loves autobiographical tales of life in the Midwest. It had certainly had some good moments, but it had more than it's fair-share of bad-teen-comedy-stomach-curling-gross-out tales too. It's part personal childhood history and part history. I can't quite figure out why it was such an unsatisfying read, but the more I read, the less I seemed to care.


My favorite paragraph:
"I used to give X-ray vision a lot of thought because I couldn't see how it could work. I mean, if you could see through people's clothing, then surely you would also see through their skin and right into their bodies. You would see blood vessels, pulsing organs, food being digested and pushed through coils of bowel, and much else of a gross and undesirable nature. Even if you could somehow confine your X-rays to rosy epidermis, any body you gazed at wouldn't be in an appealing natural state, but would be compressed and distorted by unseen foundation garments. The breasts, for one thing, would be oddly constrained and hefted, basketed within an unseen bra, rather than relaxed and nicely jiggly. It wouldn't be satisfactory at all--or at least not nearly satisfactory enough. Which is why it was necessary to perfect ThunderVision(TM), a laserlike gaze that allowed me to strip away undergarments without damaging skin or outer clothing. That ThunderVision, stepped up a grade and focused more intensely, could also be used as a powerful weapon to vaporize irritating people was a pleasing but entirely incidental benefit." (63-4)

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

ah, the flint hills

How did I miss Friday's New York Times travel article about Kansas? The dear Flint Hills get the star treatment, and with the exception of the kind words for Wichita, the article nails the simple beauty of the prairie.

mst3k lives...sort of

The New York Times highlights the next best thing to MST3K coming back: Mike Nelson recording the commentary for anyone to play along with the movie. RiffTrax are available for $2 or $3, which seems to be a fair price. Because this newfangled form of commentary exists free from copyright infringement, all movies are fair game. I'm most tempted by the Lost pilot episode and Crossroads (the Britney Spears movie Shonda Rhimes never mentions that she wrote).

reading stack

This fabulous community combines my love of books/reading with my voyeuristic nature. I'm currently practicing immense restraint with checking out books from the library, and instead I'm keeping an elaborate set of Google spreadsheets, which are not quite as pretty as the lovely stacks of books on bedside tables.

the world news

Rekha Basu, a gifted writer, consistently raises consciousness about national and world matters to her readers. She writes for the Des Moines Register, however, so many are not aware of her intuitive powers. Sunday's column examines the way U.S. news outlets cover foreign matters and celebrity news, both here and abroad. Here's a taste:

"Our kind of coverage seems intended to enforce America's cultural and political isolation, designating us as a unique breed and foreigners an alien species, not people we might admire or learn from. That mind-set, I suspect, helps drive us to war instead of diplomacy when the going gets tough."

I probably would not have discovered her columns if I had not spent time in Iowa, where one can still read the local paper and feel informed. For the past eight years, I've been reading her columns, as well as her late husband, Rob Borsellino. I remember the giddiness I felt when I discovered my two favorite columnists were married. I'm a sucker for literary sexuality and the closeness of wordsmiths.

Each time I email her when a column especially moves me, I always receive a warm, sincere response. It's delightful when the brilliant and talented are also among the kind and welcoming.





pretty, pretty dresses

The annual Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala was last night, and the stars turned out in gorgeous dresses (except for Kirsten Dunst and my beloved Julianne Moore who made an unfortunate fashion decision.) New York magazine has an amazing slide show of the gowns.

on romance and the bachelor

When I settled in last night for the home visit episode of The Bachelor, I was expecting awkward moments and scandal. Instead I was subjected to four women who all have severe emotional attachment for the same man, who claims to have true, intense feelings for all of them. It was depressing and slightly tragic; it was not its usually escapist reality television.

It also brought me to a startling, perhaps partially wine-induced conclusion: I believe in romance too much to care about The Bachelor. Sure, The Bachelor is filled with roses, diamonds, sparkling wine and dates designed with carefree abandon, but it's all one large choreographed illusion of romance. I don't care for roses or diamonds.

I'm not doubting that there are real feelings involved, but part of me loses faith in Andy every time I see him proclaim his feelings, seemingly sincerely, for more than one woman. By the third woman, I'm rolling my eyes, and by the time the fourth woman appeared, I just felt sorry for all five of them.

Whether it stems from my notions of romance or my belief in monogamy, I can't buy into having so much love for so many. I might concede to having strong feelings for two, and perhaps the producers and editors are prodding Andy into creating more drama by caring for all four. It doesn't really create more drama; every episode, the audience hears that Andy will propose in the finale. It does create more heartache. Granted, the women are all participating voluntarily, but after watching this show, I remain dumbfounded how women can sign up for this much heart wrenching emotion. It's bad enough in life, but to go through it on national television? A man handing you a box of diamonds to wear for one night is not romance. Nothing on this show has been romance. It's a cookie cutter version of what might be easier to believe in. The tokens lose meaning when they're not genuine. True romance lies in the things two people share; it's remembering something mentioned off-hand and surprising the other with it later.

I still want to believe in love without question. I want Andy to give out the number of roses he wants to rather than the producer-mandated number. I want him to stop and say, "She's the one, unequivocally, and I'm done looking." Granted, I still don't buy into finding the love of your life by going on The Bachelor, but I'm enough of a romantic to believe it might happen. True love happens whenever and wherever.

While I still can, I want to believe true love stops you in your tracks and transforms not only your heart but your mind so you'll do things you used to think were crazy or plain stupid to keep that person in your life every moment you possibly can. I want to believe in love that doesn't question what you're doing as long as you're together. I want to believe that when one falls in love, finding unrequited love is not an option. The cynical part of me knows my ideal of romance and monogamy is just as much an illusion as The Bachelor, and I struggle with the partial understanding of why seemingly intelligent and well-adjusted women like Bevin and Tessa would go on this show. It may seem silly and improbable, but you can't always just listen to your head. When your heart stops believing the improbably, then romance really is dead. A heart without hope and a heart that futilely hopes are the most tragic relics of romance.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

the one where brittany loses it

Wow. Brittany has gone from front runner to laughing stock in only a few weeks. In the beginning of the episode, I thought the editors had turned on her. By the end I realized she just went crazy. The editors did a brilliant job of cutting the tirade scene to show that it was, in fact, Brittany's fault, and I thank them for not making me rewind to find out. The reaction shots of the inside of the room as they listened to her yell and curse were priceless. Naturally, Natasha takes the line of the episode crown again, with her calm, soothing wisdom she dispensed to Brittany, "I just want to tell you that some people have war in their countries." Suddenly, Jael's absence can hardly be felt.

The other highlights, courtesy of the surprisingly more and more endearing Jaslene:
"My strategy is to be cool, calm and collective."

"Brittany, why you put up these excuses and make yourself look bad?"

i heart inn love

I am in the midst of a spring love affair with Tori & Dean: Inn Love. Despite the fact that last night's episode was rather staged, it was immensely enjoyable because Dean and Tori are genuine, funny, incredibly in love people. Unfortunately, they often must deal with silly situations. Last night's episode alone featured:

1. The first two guests (two foreign-accented elderly ladies who took it upon themselves to explore and jump on beds) arrived two hours early when nothing was ready. Believability - initially high, but deteriorated considerably as their visit went on.

2. The next couple arrived with a two-year-old they didn't mention they were bringing. Believability - moderate. When Dean asked them if their son had any dietary restrictions, they said, "Well, we're vegetarians, and we don't eat wheat or dairy, but don't worry yourself over it." Believability - none. If you expect people to feed you, tell them you don't eat hardly anything. Seriously.

3. The gay couple showed up after they cancelled (they denied cancelling). Tori and Dean seemed genuinely shocked, and Tori says someone called her back to cancel. (Oh, meddling producers). In the morning, one of them walked around in his skimpy underwear, coming all the way into the kitchen to get coffee. Believability - none. People wear clothes in public in real life, unless they're pathetically posturing for the camera.

Despite the silliness, it was a fun episode, and baby Liam is almost here.

Best Tori quote of the episode: "I'm sleeping for two." Can I claim this as my morning excuse when I'm not pregnant?

Bonus points: Dean made a joke about Gunnar and Matthew Nelson!

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

reading in bed

This lovely device would appear to make reading in bed a much more pleasurable experience. FYI, my birthday is in August.

pirates!

CBS has announced the contestants for Pirate Master. I was scrolling through a standard reality contestant list of receptionist, make-up artists and bartenders when I stumbled upon CHRISTIAN OKOYE, or my favorite running back ever. I promptly and proudly updated his wikipedia listing. Now I only hope he will make me proud. I wasn't sure I could more excited about this program. Watch out, Big Brother, you may competition for my summer reality tv crown this year.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

toast

Because nomadreaderboy loves toast more than I ever imagined possible, and he also loves words, I now believe this invention might have an audience greater than one.

gawkerology

Reason #137 I heart Gawker:

Their take on Danny DeVito releasing his own brand of limoncello following that unforgettable November 2006 appearance on The View:

"We're not sure, but this may have been one of the most intricate attempts at raising brand awareness that we've seen to date."

television gadgets

It's probably a bad sign that I find this new invention cool and not disturbing.

i heart bevin

Yes, I am still watching The Bachelor, despite its Dancing with the Stars mandated longer than an hour length each week. I'm holding out for the final four, which means hometown visits. I find the "meet the parents" visits to be fascinating and often awkward. This episode is usually the season's best, although tequila baking might take the dishonor this year.

The lowlights:

Manners inquiry: when on a one man, three woman date, is it more awkward to be the woman who picks something out of the man's teeth or be one of the two who didn't mention the object?

"It's hard for me to date a guy who's dating so many women. I deserve better; I deserve someone who just wants to be with me." - Bevin, I'm trying hard to still love you. Have you ever seen The Bachelor before? That's exactly the premise. I don't think Andy has the option to give out fewer than the required number of roses in a rose ceremony. Although we might all benefit if he hurried the process along.

Andy's date with Stephanie Kansas might be my dream date. They were able to mix their own bottle of wine and body paint the label. Hot.

Back to dear Bevin crying, "The guy that I'm dating right is dating so many other women. It totally makes me feel so desperate. For someone who's 23 [Amber!] to be doing this, I understand, but at my age [28], it's like, I feel ridiculous. Why am I putting myself through this when I could be at home just dating a guy who's just gonna date one person. I feel like an idiot because the chances are it won't be me." Now pardon the hopeless romantic about to come out in me, but I appreciate that Bevin is an otherwise sane and intelligent woman who now regrets her decision to participate in this preposterous charade of romance on reality television. Bevin, you've clearly developed intense feelings, and if it's love, you fucking fight for it. Love makes one feel ridiculous enough at times without being on a silly tv show. Has someone made Team Bevin t-shirts yet?

Andy and four bachelorettes partnered with the Hollywood Beautification Team, which has nothing to do with socialites and everything to do with building community and helping the environment. They do good work, but their name makes me giggle at the poetic irony.

"There's no better date than to really get a sense of how they feel about community and about family and about children." -Andy. Seriously, Andy, you would take manual labor, even for a good cause, over making wine and body painting your own label? Seriously? Clearly, I am in the minority as all five agreed at the end, "It can't be topped." Amazing experience? Absolutely. Amazing date? No! There are still four women for one man (and no lesbians present). Good group date? Sure, there was no jealousy, which was quite refreshing to watch.

"I need all the time I can get to talk to Andy." - Danielle. Perhaps the sentence went on, "about something besides my college boyfriend who died while in bed with me."

Misnomer of the day: "Seeing Andy with those kids reassured me that he can be a good father and that he is ready for marriage." -Tina. Dear Tina, goofing around with children does not directly correlate ready for marriage. Sincerely, DFACS.

"I think it's every girl's dream to like be brought over diamonds and then brought to a dress store to pick out anything you want." - Tessa. Please knock sense into me if my dreams ever approach that.

One benefit of those silly doors on Andy's car: because they open up instead of out, they provide an extra layer of panty protection from paparazzi.

"I do truly believe that you can meet someone you're meant to be with in the craziest and most amazing of circumstances." - Tessa. While The Bachelor is indeed crazy, I do not believe appearing on a reality program with the goal of finding love to be such an experience. Rob and Amber meeting on Survivor, sure. Sean and Rachel meeting on the first Real World challenge, sure.

After this episode, I am no longer rooting for Tessa.

"Tessa hasn't told me yet that she's 100% in, that she's willing to go the distance with me." -Andy. Dear Andy, you are technically only 16-17% in right now as you are dating six women. Aren't you being slightly hypocritical here?

Warning - nomadreader's off-color comment of the day: "This is the biggest regret of my life." - Tina, the medical student. Should someone tell her she might kill accidentally kill a patient one day? Or do I just watch too many medical dramas and believe all doctors kill a patient one episode or another?

I'm actually rooting for Bevin, even though I think she's far too good for Andy. Seriously, she was the far and away winner of the tricycling race. How cool is she?