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Showing posts from 2007

weeds: season one

Andy: "How can you be so blindly pro-Bush?"
Doug: "I like his wife Laura; I used to buy weed from her at SMU."

californication (first thoughts)

I was initially a little hesitant to watch David Duchovny's return to television. The reviews were rather unspectacular and frequently referenced Duchovny's character, Hank, as a misogynist. While Hank could certainly be called an asshole, he hates himself far more than anyone, let alone an entire sex. I believe Hank's self hatred makes the opening scene where he receives a blow job from a nun humorous instead of offensive.

One episode in, and I'm intrigued. I gasped in shock and laughed out loud. Raunchy, dark humor that doesn't offend this feminist is often hard to find. The wackiness balances the raunchiness and brings a more human element to it. Hank is a troubled man, but he still has some semblance of humor. Californication is a delicious union of low-brow deviant debauchery and high-brow intellectual dialogue.

Bonus points: Fantastic soundtrack, without beating it into the ground Grey's Anatomy-style by ending each episode in a poignant montage to a …

gossip girl

I am a longtime devotee of Go Fug Yourself, and I maintain it is some of the best pop culture writing. Jessica posted my favorite fug so far this week. I, too, cannot wait for Gossip Girl the television show. I have become borderline obsessed with the books this summer. I do manage to alternate Gossip Girl/not-Gossip Girl books, but I still will finish the series before the tv show premieres. These books are teen soap opera gold. With One Tree Hill not back until January, the world of television needs some quality teen drama.

I've got my champagne flute ready...

mtb4

Despite the fact that several episodes in to Puffy's latest ego fest of a reality show that really has very little to do with him, there are once again twenty hopeful young men, I can't stop watching. Not surprisingly, the greatest hits of Boyz II Men (and the occasional Stevie Wonder tune) provide a touching backdrop to the rarely portrayed world of male bonding. This week's episode featured two goose bump-inducing twenty-young-men-strong renditions of "End of the Road". I doubt I will ever tire of a group of talented, grateful, young men on the verge of either tears or rage coming together, from varying backgrounds, ages and regions, to sing the hell out of a song. It's a surprisingly moving program, and I keep falling for the success of more of the aspiring singers. I'm still on Team Dan (and Team Donnie - seriously, this guy is meant for boy band fame), but Team Carlos is creeping up on me, and surprisingly, Team Michael.

If you haven't seen M…

Big Brother 8 (First impressions)

Earlier today, as I was trying to explain my unending fascination with Big Brother to nomadreaderboy, my best guess is the ever-changing strategy. The show continually provides the unexpected. There are no judges to do the right thing and eliminate the appropriate people; the viewers don't get the power of calling into vote (after season one). Each week is a constant power struggle. Players can form all the alliances they want to, but depending on who wins Head of Household and the Power of Veto each week affects the game. The producers can try to meddle all they want to, and the result is usually good. I enjoy when evicted houseguests come back; I especially enjoy it when the viewers vote one evictee back in.

I realize the drain Big Brother viewing can have on an individual, even in the summer. The show itself is on three times a week. For a rather meager fee, one can watch four camera feeds 24 hours a day online. This season Showtime will show the live feed three hours each night…

my ongoing love affair with degrassi

As the N begins airing the latest installment of season six of Degrassi: The Next Generation, I racked my brain to decide if any other teen drama has seamlessly made the transition from high school to college. Season six features part of the cast in college and part of them still in high school. Largely, I believe, due to the format of the program not following the same characters in each episode, the show is able to change settings. There are a few students who are at the local college, of course, so they're free to drop by the high school still, but there are still many once tried-and-true main characters who are more recurring guest stars. It takes powerful writing and an amazing ensemble cast to make these transitions possible. The writers are astute; even when characters aren't seen for weeks at a time, their names are mentioned. They maintain off-camera contact through email and the phone.

It's no secret that I think Degrassi: The Next Generation, in fact all sho…

Silence of the Grave by Arnaldur Indridason

(2 stars - liked it)

Indridason's first Icelandic mystery, Jar City, is a gem. I eagerly awaited the follow-up, Silence of the Grave, but it took me over a month to actually finish the not-quite-300-page novel. It's a good book, but it's not a great book. The characters remain darkly real and conflicted with life and the case, but the mystery at the center of the book is not terribly riveting. I do look forward to the third book being translated from Icelandic to English.

the closer: a love affair

It is not a secret that I have become completely enamored with The Closer. It is one of the best written and best acted programs on television today. I am quickly making my way through the second season on dvd in preparation for the June 18th premiere of season three.

Blessedly, season two takes the strong characters carved out during the first season and takes them deeper. Frances Sternhagen as Brenda's mother is brilliant. Whoever cast her and wrote that two episode arc deserves a raise and an Emmy. The interplay of Sternhagen and the sublimely good KyraSedgwick (seriously, I didn't believe she had it in her until I started watching) managed to parallel their actions and words in a beautiful ode to the sometimes strained Southern mother and daughter relationship. I wasn't sure Sternhagen could outdo her rendition as Bunny on Sex and the City, but she is even better in this role. I hope she's back during season three.

If you haven't seen The Closer, get the dvd…

pirate master

I absolutely adore the concept of Pirate Master, and I'm thrilled for Christian Okoye to get another few moments in the spotlight, but after watching the first two episodes, I'm slightly bored. This program has all the right pieces of good reality television, but it falls flat. After two episodes, I still only know three of the pirates by name. I don't even know the name of the chesty blond who has her bathing suit top blurred out by the censors during most of the second episode.

The actual search for the pirate treasure is the weakest part of the program. From my limited understanding of the Survivor formula, it's quite similar. I find people traipsing around the wilderness quite dull, and it's most of the reason I've never managed to get into Survivor. Still, the power of captain and the possibility of mutiny should lead to intriguing strategy. Despite the weak attempts at mutiny so far (although the compass part was quite brilliant in the first episode), …

tidbits of late

In the midst of my move, blogging fell by the wayside. I've had time to enjoy my fair share of television, movies, and I even read a few books. The brief recaps and ratings follow:

Knocked Up - (2 stars - liked it) - I made it to see Judd Apatow's eagerly awaited comedy on opening day. I was underwhelmed. There were countless funny parts of the movie, but as a film, it didn't work for me. It felt like the funny dialogue was many improv versions away from the script. Although the story flowed, the spirit of the story didn't flow for me. It was too often immature teen drug-focused comedy with a few sprinkles of mature, relationship melodrama. Katherine Heigl was superb, as was Paul Rudd. I'm normally a huge Seth Rogen fan, but I found his performance to be rather elementary. He and his friend pandered incessantly to trite drug humor. Are there any original or even funny marijuana jokes left? It's definitely worth seeing for the funny parts, and I even enjoyed …

gossip girl

After the stress of packing and moving across the country, I was in the mood for a lighthearted read. I opted to finally get around to reading Cecily vonZiegesar's famous Gossip Girl series. I still enjoy children's and young adult literature, and I am already ridiculously excited about Josh Schwartz's upcoming television version of the series. As much as I love to read, I admit the trashy teen genre is best served on the screen.

I adored the first Gossip Girl novel. It's definitely on the Cruel Intentions level of risky teen behavior, and the puritan part of me wishes that the characters were not grounded in any one's actual high school behavior. Responsible adolescence aside, the book was endlessly entertaining, and the characters are well-developed. I reserved the next few books in the series already. I imagine with Josh Schwartz's able hands, he can use these fantastic characters to transcend the success of the books and produce a television series with …

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. Wh…

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 …

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?

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 seebackstage 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.

the first sentence

I've just started reading ArnaldurIndridason'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…

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 ShondaRhimes 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

RekhaBasu, 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. …

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 …

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'sabsence 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. Seri…

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.

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 h…

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

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The comics are good today! Non Sequiter follows suit.

mission accomplished? (part two)

A fitting gem from Mike Luckovich.

mission accomplished?

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Ann Telnaes has another gem today.

nerdy cakes

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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.

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?

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 un…

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 som…

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 …

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 Therenot 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.

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 a…

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.

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.

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…

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 televisio…

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-o…

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 s…

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.

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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…

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

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 starr…

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 wo…

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 …