Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I Want to Believe

Yes, X-Files fans, we can believe. After a 10 year wait since the first movie and much rumor and speculation, "The X-Files" series creator Chris Carter will be back as director for the much anticipated second movie from the Fox series. The movie entitled "The X-Files: I Want to Believe" will be released on July 25, 2008. As true blue X-File fans will remember "I Want to Believe" was the slogan on the poster in Agent Mulder's (David Duchovny) office. Both David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson will be back reprising their roles as FBI Agent Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, respectively. The AP reported that Chris Carter stated that the movie will stay true to the spirit of the show. "The reason we're even making the movie is for the rabid fans, so we don't want to insult them by having to take them back through the concept again," Carter said. There's no trailer available yet on the official site (http://www.xfiles.com/) but stay tuned for updates. Mark your calendars and make a date with Mulder and Scully on July 25th.

Sweet Anticipation (Books Coming Soon)

I'm currently reading "The Bell Jar" by Sylvia Plath, but I already have my eye out on the horizon for some potentially interesting reads which are due out soon. Here's a quick rundown:

"El Juego Del Angel" by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. This is number one on my list (already pre-ordered at Amazon). I've been waiting for this book from the moment I read the last page of Zafon's last book "La Sombra Del Viento" (Shadow of the Wind). Most of you won't be able to read this as soon as it comes out because it's in Spanish, but if it's anywhere near as good as his last, then I'm sure it will be on your must read list too when the English edition comes out. (Available 5/13)

"Bright Shiny Morning" by James Frey. This will be the first novel by the controversial author of "A Million Little Pieces" after the whole Oprah memoir debacle. The publisher describes it as "a sweeping chronicle of contemporary Los Angeles that is bold, exhilirating and utterly original." Will it make the list of Oprah's Favorite Things? Hmmm. Nah. (Available 5/13)

"The Horsemaster's Daughter" by Susan Wiggs. A historical romance might not be everyone's cup of tea, but it's a must on my summer reading list. A good romance can always cure what ails you. (Available 6/1; paperback)

"Me of Little Faith" by Lewis Black. A new book from the irreverant comic and Daily Show regular, "a ferociously funny exploration of religion and faith." (Available 6/3)

"The Lucky One" by Nicholas Sparks. I'm a sap for a love story, plus I've read most of his previous books, including "The Notebook", "A Walk to Remember", "Message in a Bottle", and "The Wedding". It's sure to include more than a few Kleenex moments. (Available 9/30)

Monday, April 28, 2008

Till the Sun Turns Black (Ray LaMontagne)

I'll be totally honest, I'm not a music buff. I rarely buy CDs, or listen to the radio in my car, so I'm surprising even myself in writing this post. But, have you ever read a book you just thought was incredible or seen a movie that touched you deeply, and you just wanted to rush home and tell someone? Well, that happens a lot to me with movies and books, but never with music. Until now. I had never heard Ray LaMontagne before this CD, so his voice was a revelation. He has a soft, slightly gruff, soulful voice. The whole album has a soft and mellow sound which wraps around you like a warm embrace. If music can be moving, this was. I think you'll fall in love with this album. I did. (If you want to listen to some of the songs before buying the CD, check out his myspace page at http://www.myspace.com/raylamontagne).

This Week on the Boob Tube

The more memorable moments for me on TV this week: On Monday's Dancing with the Stars, dancing took a back seat to the grilling that poor Shannon and Derek got backstage from Samantha Harris about their "showmance". Can anyone say awkward. I'll also add Jason's sleeveless top to the memorable list. American Idol had it's fair share of drama, though not necessarily for the singing, it was more for the mini-meltdown we saw from Brooke White who forgot her lyrics, asked the band for a restart and never quite regained her composure. America better send this girl home soon before she has a nervous breakdown. On Wednesday's American Idol results show, we got a semi-shocker of a boot (though not on par with Michael Johns), when Carly Smithson was sent home. Back on Dancing with the Stars, Marlee and Fabian were sent home. Marlee's got my sincere admiration and respect for her dedication and attitude. She's a winner, even without the shiny disco ball trophy. Thursday I went to the movies, so I only got to see The Office which was in rare form. I don't know what the writers did during the writer's strike (maybe they got some extra sleep), but they should go on strike more often, because every episode since their return has been hilarious. In this week's episode, all of the hilarity centered around Michael and Dwight going clubbing in NYC with Ryan, whom we find out is doing drugs. Dwight steals the show with his hobbit comments about Ryan's height-challenged friend, his "weevil season" discussion with Ryan, and his success with the ladies as he manages to get lucky with a lady basketball player. To cap of the week, the Big Brother 9 season ended today Sunday, with Adam as the big winner. Don't really care about him, but loved the fact that James won the fan voted $25K prize. By the way, can't wait until tomorrow. House is back in the house. Yipee! The good doctor is moving from his previous Tuesday time slot to Monday.

Sunday, April 27, 2008


Directed by Stephen Walker, a British TV documentary maker, Young@Heart introduces us to the Young@Heart Chorus from Northampton, MA. What makes this chorus special? The average age of it's member is 80, with the oldest member, a young at heart (most appropos) and sassy 92-year old named Eileen Hall. Their song list is unexpected too, spanning a wide spectrum of music, including Talking Heads, The Clash, and Coldplay to name a few. The chorus has performed all over the world, including a performance for the King and Queen of Norway. The movie spans a period of seven weeks as the chorus prepares for a new show, and follows their rehearsals as they learn new songs, including Sonic Youth's Schizophrenia, James Brown's I Feel Good and the showstopper, Coldplay's Fix You. Of course, hilarity ensues during most rehearsals as these spunky seniors try to remember their lines. In between rehearsals, we get to really know some of the more lively characters in the chorus through interviews and visits to their homes, including flirty Eileen Hall who at 92 lives at a nursing home, but unlike most residents, has the key to the front door because she get's back late from some of the chorus' "gigs". There's also Joe Benoit, who at 83, has undergone six bouts of chemotheraphy (enough to kill most people), and Fred Knittle, a former member who is invited back to perform with the chorus after having left due to serious health problems. Don't think it's all gloom and doom. While the movie is poignant and sentimental, as with the passing of two members during the filming, it's got its fair share of laughs, and the message that you're never too old to have fun and expand your horizons comes through loud and clear. The highlight of the movie by far is the final touching performance, dedicated to the two deceased members, of Fix You sung by Fred Knittle, with his oxygen machine on because of his congestive heart failure. If you don't have a tear in your eye and a knot in your throat during that performance, you're just not human.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Britain's Got Talent

Last year, around this time, while visiting YouTube I spotted a number of videos under the "Most Viewed (Today)" tab and all the links appeared to be for the same performance. My curiosity was piqued and I decided to click on one of the links and watch the video. The video was of Paul Potts' audition on Britain's Got Talent. As soon as I watched it, I was hooked. See for yourself.

Here was this unassuming and shy cell phone salesman, bullied as a kid (I'm a sucker for a sob story) whom the judges automatically discounted just based on his appearance. He ends up wowing the judges and audience. After that first video, I tried finding others on the website for the TV station which airs the show, and was unable to view them because I was outside the UK (that's changed this year). Undeterred, I decided to follow his journey on the show, as long as it lasted, via the YouTube videos posted by British viewers. Long story short, Paul Potts went on to win Britain's Got Talent.

This year, I'm yet again following the show via YouTube videos. I already have a couple favorites - 13 year old Andrew Johnston, who totally reminds me of Paul Potts, and Scala, an all-girl electric string instrument group. Take a peek at the following videos of each of my favorites and let me know what you think. You can check out more videos at http://talent.itv.com/. Cheerio old chaps!

Andrew Johnston


Friday, April 25, 2008

Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden?

This is one of the most interesting movies I've seen in a while. In his follow up to Super Size Me, Morgan Spurlock takes on the subject of the war on terror. Morgan decides to do what the U.S. government hasn't been able to do since 9/11, find Osama Bin Laden. Motivated by the impending birth of his child, he sets of on a quest which sends him to the Middle East to find "OBL" (Bin Laden). His journey takes him to Egypt, Morocco, Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. At each stop, Spurlock speaks with the common man, right off the streets, and they share their opinions on Bin Laden and the U.S. Their opinions are often eye opening and surprising. With a light touch and great sense of humor, Spurlock tries to enlighten the viewer and offer a better understanding of the psychology behind the extremists and the possible root causes for the expansion of terror cells throughout the world, while also showing the exploitative and corrupt regimes in supposed "democratic" countries like Saudi Arabia. The footage from some of the more war ravaged countries, like Afghanistan, is compelling. Spurlock makes a wonderful case for our need to win more "hearts and minds" as he shows a school class being held in the open air at a bombed out school with partially erect walls and no roof. In the end, while faced with the enormity of the situation, you also walk out of the movie with a sense of hope at the realization that in truth we're more alike than we thought and while there are many extremists and jihadists that hate America, like Spurlock says "there are a lot more people just like us, then like him (Bin Laden)".

Mother's Day

Mother's Day is around the corner so why not get a head start on looking for that special gift that tells mom just how much you love her. Sure, you could get her a diamond ring at Tiffany's, a bouquet of flowers, or even write her a beautiful poem, but would that really express how special she really is? I say no. Why not shop at the WWE store? After all, what more could mom want than a personalized championship belt? Appeal to the WWE wrestling diva inside your mom. Order early and get your belt while supplies last. The price, a "mere bag of shells" as Ralph Kramden would say, only $267. The look on mom's face when she opens the box...priceless.

P.S. This is not a doctored photo. I'm not that creative and I don't own Photoshop. I got this in an email from the WWE. No, I don't watch the WWE. Really, I don't. I'm on the email list for my nephews.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Book Reviews of Early 2008 Favorites

As promised, below are my book reviews of three recent favorites. I hope you'll read one or two and that they bring you as much enjoyment as they did me.

The Middle Place is a warm, poignant and funny memoir written by Kelly Corrigan. The title refers to being a parent and someone's child at the same time. With humor and candor Kelly Corrigan shares her memories of finding a cancerous lump in her breast, and the harrowing and brave journey through her treatment - chemo, surgery and radiation. Throughout the book, Kelly perfectly weaves stories from the past and present and introduces us to her wonderful family, especially her incredible dad, George, and the memories of her youth growing up in Philadelphia. Kelly's hope, strength and resiliency, lovingly instilled by her family, are put to the test when during her treatment she finds out her dad is suffering from bladder cancer. Despite the tragic circumstances, the book never becomes maudlin or depressing. The Middle Place is a must read for all those woman (and men) residing in that middle place. More than a memoir, I found The Middle Place to be a loving tribute to an incredible man, and the indelible bond between a father and daughter.

I started reading Remember Me after I'd finished The Gathering by Anne Enright, and it was such a welcome departure from the dark subject matter of my previous read. Remember Me is imbued with a wicked sense of humor and an irresistible charm. It's a wonderful, funny and romantic novel. The main character is Lexi Smart, who wakes up in a London hospital convinced that it's 2004 and she missed her dad's funeral. In fact, an accident has left her suffering from amnesia and it's three years later. Lexi wakes up to find she's no longer overweight, no longer "Snaggletooth" or "Snagglehair" for that matter, and no longer has "Loser Dave" for a boyfriend. Instead, she's a successful business woman, with a great body, perfect teeth, and an even more perfect rich and gorgeous husband, Eric. What more could a girl ask for, right? Well, it's all complicated by the fact that her old friends and now current employees hate her, the old Lexi Smart seems to have completely vanished, and though there's no chemistry between Lexi and Eric, there's plenty with Jon, her husband's colleague who shares a few secrets about the new Lexi which leave her reeling. The romance and humor keep the story fresh and light and make it a quick read, perfect for summer or when you're in the mood for a good laugh.

I read the Joy Luck Club years ago, and I found The Bonesetter's Daughter by Amy Tan to be as compelling and moving a book as that first bestseller. The story details the strained relationship between Ruth Young, a ghostwriter or "book doctor" of self-help books, and her mother, LuLing. In the first part of the book we learn of the struggles Ruth faced in dealing with her mother throughout her life, and her current fears and concerns about her mother's forgetfulness. The second part deals with LuLing's past as detailed in the writings she saved for her daughter many years ago before her memory lapses. Ruth finds her mom's writings which are in Chinese, the first which starts "these are the things I know are true", and she decides to have them translated while she stays with her mother to take care of her after LuLing is finally diagnosed with Alzheimers. The portion of the book which consists of the memoirs, which includes the story of LuLing's life in China and that of Precious Auntie, her mute caretaker or nurse maid, are for me the best part of the book. The trials in LuLing's life are numerous, and as you read you're filled with a profound sense of respect and admiration for everything she overcame. Precious Auntie's character and story are pivotal in shaping LuLing's life, and the relationship detailed between these two women is poignant and heartbreaking. There were many a Kleenex moment during some of the passages in this part of the book. Ultimately, as Ruth discovers the truth behind her mother's life, the differences and bitter memories of her childhood fade away. The Bonesetter's Daughter is a great book, which deals with the relationship between mothers and daughters, murder, betrayal and ultimately survival and redemption.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

An Engineer's Guide to Cats

Before I post my book reviews, I had to share this Youtube video which I found this weekend. It’s LOL funny, especially if you’re a cat owner or an engineer. Enjoy!

TV Gets a Run for It's Money

My other great love, a close second behind TV, has always been books. There’s nothing like curling up on the couch and enjoying a spine tingling thriller, a runny nose and splotchy face inducing tear jerker, or even better, a smile all day, all is right with the world romance.

In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that in recent years books have taken a back seat to my love affair with Mr. TV. Whereas the relationship with Mr. TV was hot and steamy, my relationship with books was relegated to that with a batty old aunt which you visit every blue moon and dutifully endure the visit because you have to, after all she's your aunt.

In February, as the big 40 rolled around, I watched the movie Away from Her (a love story of a woman coping with Alzheimer’s – highly recommend it), and I became paranoid (and slightly obsessed) with the need to use my brain a little more. I read somewhere that our brain is like a muscle which needs to be used to stay in shape. Using the exercise analogy, I admitted to myself that watching Dancing with the Stars is the equivalent of doing one sit-up and calling it a day. I started doing crossword puzzles at night, I even attempted Sudoku puzzles, without much success, so I guess the deterioriation has already started. Lastly, I decided to read more.

Since February, I’ve read: The Gathering by Anne Enright, The Bonesetter's Daugher by Amy Tan, Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson, Remember Me by Sophie Kinsella, An Irish Country Doctor by Patrick Taylor, Night by Elie Wiesel, 90 Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper, and Atonement by Ian McEwan to name a few.

I'm glad to say my relationship with books is back on sure-footing and in my next post you'll find a review of some of my favorites from the previous list.

Catch a Cab, You Won't Regret It

As if I didn’t watch enough TV, I’ve recently become addicted to Cash Cab on the Discovery Channel. For all you trivia buffs, it’s a must see. Cash Cab is a game show held in a New York City cab. The host, Ben Bailey, picks up unsuspecting New York City taxi passengers and asks them general knowledge questions all the way to their destination. Each correct answer earns the contestant cash. The questions start easy and get harder along the way. The harder the questions the more money they can earn. Get three questions wrong and you’re out, literally, on the street wherever you are – even in the rain. It’s a fun and informative show which leaves you a little smarter for having watched it. Where else can you learn that lateral epicondylitis is more commonly known as tennis elbow, or find out what the “T” stands for in Captain James T. Kirk middle name (it’s Tiberius). I hope you’ll all hail this cab.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

There's a First Time for Everything

Welcome all. This is my first post, in my first blog. Quite an accomplishment for a 40-year old who read her first blog only a day ago. All credit goes to my friend and co-worker, Manshi, who inspired me after reading her blog. My first thought after reading her blog was, cool, how do I get one of those. Finally a place to give voice to the random thoughts I normally just blurt out to my cube mates in my office. I'm sure they'll be grateful when my TV tourettes tones down a notch.

As all my friends and family know and as evident from my blog title, I'm a TV addict. I watch at least 2 to 3 hours of TV per day. I wish I could say I was only watching documentaries on the History Channel or political commentary on CNN, but alas the bulk of my time is taken up by what most TV snubs would deem "mindless dribble", those two dirty little words...reality TV. I love Dancing with the Stars, American Idol, Big Brother, Survivor, America's Next Top Model and So You Think You Can Dance. Luckily, they don't all run at the same time of the year. I round off my viewing schedule with House, Chuck, Heroes, The Office, Lost and an occassional episode of 60 Minutes, so that my brain doesn't completely turn to mush.

My hope for this blog is to share with you, the reader - more than likely family and friends, my insights and feelings on TV shows, movies, books (yes, I still remember how to read even with my busy TV viewing schedule) and life in general. I hope that you'll visit often and share your thoughts and opinions on my thoughts and opinions. Thanks for this first visit. Please come again!