Saturday, May 31, 2008

On This Day (in 1990)

On May 31, 1990 one of my all-time favorite shows "Seinfeld" debuted on NBC. The 'show about nothing' ended its run on May 14, 1998 with 76 million viewers tuning in to see what would become of Jerry, George, Elaine and of course Kramer.

Here's a clip of one my favorite episodes "Marine Biologist." For all those non-"Seinfeld" fans, the episode centered around George pretending to be a marine biologist (the career fabrication was Jerry's, George would have preferred being an architect) in order to date a girl he knew in college, and Kramer trying to improve his golf swing by shooting golf balls into the ocean. The episode ends with an unforgettable and hilarious scene where in dramatic fashion George tells the gang the story of how he heroically saved a whale at the beach. Classic "Seinfeld" at its very best.

A "Lost" Confession

It's not an earth shattering confession, but one I'd like to get off my chest nonetheless. I'm disappointed to say that I haven't been a loyal "Lost" fan as of late and that I'm probably the only one--actually maybe me and George W. Bush (I hear he's early to sleep, and early to rise)--who didn't watch every last second of last night's "Lost" finale. Since the beginning I've been a huge "Lost" fan...watching each episode, reading show recaps and reviews (especially the great Entertainment Weekly reviews by Jeff Jensen), and also regularly reading spoiler sites for any tidbit of information which might help solve some of the show's most intriguing mysteries. This season though I missed an episode and decided to catch up online before I'd watch the next one. Of course, I didn't watch the missed episode in time and then missed a second episode and a third and a fourth, until it all snowballed from there and I had missed the bulk of the season. I had therefore thought it only right that I tape the finale and not watch it until such time that I had seen all the missed episodes, but I cheated and watched the last 40 or so minutes just to see how it would end, thinking (hoping) it would be another Wow finale like last year. As my just reward for my lack of fortitude I was quite literally 'lost' while watching the episode, completely in the dark as to what had transpired in the weeks before. So, as penance for my numerous transgressions, I promise that I will watch every episode of this season including the two-hour finale in its entirety, I'll catch up on all potential new theories (be it on Jacob or the smoke monster), and will be thoroughly well-informed (both on facts and speculation) by the Season 5 premiere.

Friday, May 30, 2008

CBS Tries to Shake Off Fuddy Duddy Image

In a move possibly geared at shedding its image as old and conservative, the new hipper and edgier CBS will be airing it's pilot episode of "Swingtown" next Thursday, June 5th at 10 pm ET. "Swingtown" tells the story of Susan and Bruce, a couple who relocates their family to a suburb in Chicago during July 1976, and who face the temptations brought about by the sexual revolution of the 70s in the form of their attractive "swinger" neighbors who hope to introduce them to the joys of sexual freedom. While the potential story arcs for the show might be interesting, as the main characters face the consequences of their choices and how those choices impact them as individuals and their relationships, I don't think this show has much of a shot at success as a regular network show. Given the fact that the story centers around sexual freedom and swingers, and hence sex scenes will be part of the plot, it would seem to me that a cable channel would have been a better fit. Granted, the show could leave the sex scenes to the imagination and center around the development of the characters, but in the long run I think the show will seem tawdry to those who don't want titillating scenes filled with sexual innuendos, and boring to those who don't want things left to the imagination. I'm therefore going to go out on a limb and predict that this show won't enjoy the light of day for very long, and will get yanked after a couple episodes. Time will tell if my prediction proves true.

Death of a Comic Genius

I was saddened to learn that Actor Harvey Korman died yesterday at the age of 81. Though best known and remembered for his hilarious performances on the "The Carol Burnett Show," most memorably for me his role as Eunice's husband Ed or any of his performances beside Tim Conway, he also showed his comedic talent as Hedley Lamarr in the Mel Brook's classic "Blazing Saddles." Mr. Korman was a comic genius who shared his talent with the world, and in turn gave us immesurable joy in watching him perform. May he rest in peace.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Mole

I watched the first season of "The Mole" back in 2001, and I'm looking foward to the 2008 season premiere this coming Monday, June 2nd at 10:00 pm EDT. The first two seasons of "The Mole" were hosted by Anderson Cooper (before he made it big at CNN). The show also had two celebrity editions, of which I only watched the first, "Celebrity Mole: Hawaii" which was hosted by Ahmad Rashad and included such celebrities as Kathy Griffin (winner), Corbin Bernsen and Stephen Baldwin. There's been a six year gap since the last regular (non-celebrity) season of "The Mole", so this return is long overdue.

For all of you that didn't watch the show's previous seasons, the game involves 12 players, one of which is a traitor working for the producers and sabotaging the competitions. The game sends the players across the globe, competing in physical challenges--which the Mole discreetly sabotages--to win prize money which is accumulated for the winner. The goal is to study your opponents and keep track of information. At the end of each episode, a quiz is given to see how much each contestant knows about the Mole, the contestant with the lowest score is eliminated from the game. Players can try to get other contestants to either think they are the Mole or draw suspicion onto someone else in hopes that others will do poorly on the quiz and get kicked off. The physical challenges in past seasons were pretty cool, including a hostage rescue and skydiving, so I'm sure this season won't disappoint. In fact, in this season premiere the players supposedly will be jumping over the edge of a waterfall.

As in all reality shows, a huge determining factor in the success of the show is the contestants. This season's contestants are pretty varied, both in age and profession. Below is a list of the 12 contestants for this season and some interesting and potentially revealing tidbits from their bios on I'm especially looking forward to watching the game play of the self-dubbed "pla'ya" from NY.

Liz (Whitefish, MT), 60, Retired
"Liz is a widow. When her husband passed away, she decided to adopt two children and raise them on her own...Her son may be deployed to Iraq at any time."

Marcie (Corona, CA), 31, Stay at home mom
Marcie is married to a police officer and has three children. "Stay-at-home moms are not people that can't do anything else, they just choose to raise their families rather than pursue a career."

Alex(Haverford, PA), 31, Musician
Alex has always loved music and is an aspiring musician. "He doesn't want to compromise his aspirations of being a musician, thus he works odd jobs and lives at home with his parents while waiting for his big break."

Craig (San Diego, CA), 30, Graphic Designer
"Craig has been overweight his entire life so he developed a sense of humor to make friends. Craig has sleep apnea, so he must sleep with a special machine to help him breath while sleeping."

Ali (St. Louis, MO), 24, Model
Ali has been a ring girl for Ultimate Fighting Championship. "She describes herself as "stunning" and believes her beauty helps her get her way, but also causes people to instantly dismiss her, which she plans on using to her benefit in the game."

Bobby (Philadelphia, PA), 25, Restaurant Manager
"He is a hardcore fan of The Mole and used to host Mole watching parties in his basement."

Mark (Mukwonago, WI), 42, High School History Teacher/Soccer Coach
"Mark is an extremely competitive high school soccer coach and world history teacher. He plays to win and has no tolerance for whiners."

Nicole (Chicago, IL), 32, OBGYN Doctor
"She's very proud of being a doctor and has no problem with being considered a diva."

Clay (Philadelphia, PA), 32, Criminal Litigation Attorney
"Clay admits he suffers a bit from OCD. He has been known to touch a light switch ten times before he can leave a room."

Kristen (Santa Monica, CA), 35, Neuroscientist
"She is currently conducting research to find a cure for Parkinson's Disease at UCLA...Kristen feels her best trait is her kindness and her worst trait is that she's a perfectionist."

Paul (Yonkers, NY), 29, Utility Worker
"Paul has the accent and demeanor that clearly reveals he's an Italian New Yorker from Yonkers...He admits and his wife will readily agree that he just doesn't know when to shut up."

Victoria (Bishop, TX), 26, Retail Manager
"Victoria is a spunky, former pageant girl and cheerleader from a small town in Texas...She admits one of her flaws is that she cusses like a sailor."

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Networks Trying to Make a Difference in the Fight Against Cancer

The Associated Press reported that in a rare step highlighting the event's importance, the three major networks--ABC, CBS, and NBC--will be airing a simultaneous broadcast of a one-hour telethon to raise funds for cancer research. The fundraiser "Stand Up to Cancer" will air on September 5th (the Friday after Labor Day) and will include musical performances and appeals from Hollywood celebrities.

"The American Cancer Society predicts that 1.4 million new cancer cases will be diagnosed this year." Given this staggering number, chances are you've been affected by cancer or at least know someone who's had cancer. As such, the importance of cancer research can never be overestimated. Other telethons in the past, such as the one held after 9/11 or after Hurricane Katrina, have proven American's generosity in times of crisis. This is no less of a crisis, so remember to tune in on September 5th and give whatever you can.

Voting and You!

Election season is well underway, so here's a Voting 101 video from Ed Helms and Chris Mintz-Plasse (McLovin').

National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets

In "National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets" treasure hunter Ben Gates (Nicolas Cage), his father (Jon Voight), ex-girlfriend Abigail (Diane Kruger) and funny sidekick Riley (Justin Bartha) are all back for this sequel to "National Treasure." When the movie begins, Ben is giving a speech about his great-great-grandfather, Thomas Gates, who was supposedly a national hero for preventing a southern extremist group, known as the Knights of the Golden Circle (KGC), that was operating in the north to subvert union forces during the Civil War from acquiring the pages in John Wilkes Booth's diary which provided the key to a treasure map. If Thomas Gates hadn't given his life to burn those pages before the KGC could decipher the message, they would've found the treasure of gold and union forces may have lost the civil war. Into this walks Mitch Wilkinson (Ed Harris) who produces a previously thought missing page of the diary which potentially implicates Ben's great-great-grandfather as a co-conspirator of President Lincoln's assassination instead of a hero. Ben then makes it his mission to clear his family name, which in turn requires finding the previously mentioned treasure (the City of Gold), and so begins the adventure. As in the first movie, Ben turns to his merry group of cohorts, Abigail, Riley and his dad, for their help and expertise in solving the puzzle and finding the treasure. In Da Vinci code fashion, one clue leads to another, leading them to different locations including Paris, London, DC and Mount Rushmore to find the clues and stay one step ahead of somebody else who's also looking for the treasure. Notable additions to the cast this go-around are Helen Mirren as Ben's mom, a supposed expert in pre-colonial native american languages, and Bruce Greenwood as the President of the United States. For me, this sequel was not as good as the first movie, but it was still entertaining. It's definitely a "Disney" movie and therefore pretty family-friendly with a good mix of adventure, including relatively tame action scenes, and humor to keep the mood light.

Monday, May 26, 2008


Directed by Alejandro Monteverde, "Bella" tells the story of Jose (Eduardo Verastegui), a young soccer star on his way to speak at a press conference in regards to a multi-million dollar contract when his plans for life are forever altered by a tragic event, and Nina (Tammy Blanchard) a waitress who feels lost and unprepared for news which threatens to turn her life upside down. Years after the day which changed Jose's life and ended his soccer career, these two troubled souls find each other and unexpectedly serve as each other's saviours in different ways. In the beginning of the movie, Jose narrates that his grandmother used to say that if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans. This movie sweetly shares with viewers how one day can change your life and how an act of kindness and compassion can help someone find themselves, peace, and redemption. The performances by the two main stars were great. I especially loved Eduardo Verastegui's performance as a tortured soul hoping for salvation. In the scenes with Tammy Blanchard, he seemed to exhude kindness and understanding from every pore. "Bella" is a sweet and enjoyable movie definitely worth renting.

Day Trip (The Met and Cupcakes)

I took advantage of the beautiful day yesterday and after a long absence visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the current special exhibits, "Superheroes - Fashion and Fantasy" and "Jeff Koons on the Roof" which each run only until the Fall.

Anybody that enjoys movie superheroes or the medium which gave birth to them--comic books--will enjoy the Superheroes exhibit. Superhero costumes on display included the Batman costume worn by Christian Bale in the upcoming "Dark Knight" movie, the original Superman costume worn by Christopher Reeves, the Iron Man costume worn by Robert Downey Jr. in this summer's blockbuster "Iron Man", and my personal favorite the Wonder Woman costume originally worn by Lynda Carter. Also on display are some of the comic books which inspired their on-screen counterparts, including the Action Comics 1 issued June 1938 which featured the very first Superman and The Incredible Hulk 1 issued back in May 1962 (for a cover price of a whopping 10 cents). Unfortunately, this exhibit didn't permit photography.

The day couldn't have been better to enjoy the "Jeff Koons on the Roof" exhibit which was displayed on The Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden. With blue skies as a backdrop, the sculptures (Balloon Dog, Sacred Heart, and Coloring Book) which are created of high chromium stainless steel gleamed bright and beautiful in the sunlight. The Sacred Heart brought back memories of my childhood, reminding me of the beautifully wrapped huge chocolate Easter eggs we'd get as gifts.

Of course, since I was already there I enjoyed some of the permanent galleries as well. I had taken my camera with me, so for the first time ever during one of my visits I took a couple photos of some of my favorites. The museum allows photography of the permanent collection galleries, but does not permit the use of flash.

Cupid and Psyche...So romantic!

I visit these guys everytime I go to the Met. I find them quite romantic as well. I guess it's all the historical romance novels I've read which are corroding my mind, but I can easily imagine these knights going off to battle to defend some maiden's honor.

This is Hercules. Quite a handsome fellow, wouldn't you say? You're getting the G rated version, since I took the photo from the waist up.

This one is my favorite, in spite of the lighting not being great.

I finished off the day with a stop for cupcakes (yummy!) at Billy's Bakery located on 9th Avenue.

They were almost too pretty to eat weren't they?...but I did anyway. By the way, their banana cake was to die for...even better than the cupcakes. Overall, it was the perfect ending to a perfect day.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Rock the

The 2008 MTV Movie Awards will air on Sunday, June 1st at 8:00 pm. Luckily, you still have time to make your voice heard and VOTE for your favorites. The categories are: Best Comedic Performance, Best Female Performance, Best Fight, Best Kiss, Best Male Performance, Best Movie, Best Summer Movie So Far, Best Villain and Breakthrough Performance.

My vote getters were Jonah Hill (Superbad) for Best Comedic Performance; Ellen Page (Juno) for Best Female Performance; Matt Damon vs. Joey Ansah (The Bourne Ultimatum) for Best Fight; Amy Adams and Patrick Dempsey (Enchanted) for Best Kiss; Matt Damon (The Bourne Ultimatum) for Best Male Performance; Juno for Best Movie; Iron Man for Best Summer Movie So Far; Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men) for Best Villain; and last but not least Christopher Mintz-Plasse "McLovin" (Superbad) for Breakthrough Performance. (If you vote only one category then make it a vote for McLovin!)

This year's host will be Mike Myers (hopefully he'll leave the Love Guru at home), and he'll be joined by a host of A-list celebrities who have signed on to be presenters including Will Ferrell, Jack Black, Edward Norton, and Robert Downey Jr. to name a few. You can always expect the unexpected with this show, which makes for an interesting evening. For example, last year's show had a hilarious moment between Will Ferrell and Sacha Baron Cohen from "Talledega Nights" who won for Best Kiss and re-enacted their on-screen smooch on stage, ending the moment rolling around on the floor. While Will and Sacha's kiss was memorable to say the least, my all-time favorite Best Kiss winners were Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams from "The Notebook." Their on-stage kiss was as steamy as any from the movie.

Vote for your favorites and let the best man or woman win.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

A Day of Remembrance (Memorial Day)

The Unknown Soldier

You need not ever know my name
This unknown soldier seeks no fame

I'm here to bring out thought from you
May your heart see more than your view

America, we marched with pride
We gave our life, for you we died

How well we knew the time might come
When life could sound that final drum

Please think of us as life moves on
We tried so hard till that last dawn

Do let our spirit fill the land
Pass treasured freedom, hand to hand

God blessed this country with such love
Hold in your heart, abundance of

And when you stand before my grave
Think not of one, but each who gave

©2003 Roger J. Robicheau

* * *

Remember to pause on Monday to honor the memory of the many selfless men and women who bravely--not in the absence of fear, but in spite of their fear--risked or gave their lives for our country, and give thanks to those men and women--and their families--who today stand at the ready, willing to bear the burden of keeping us safe.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Summer Olympics (Root, Root, Root for the Home Team)

Now that Memorial Day--the unofficial kickoff to summer--is almost here, I thought I'd chat about the summer olympics which are being held in Beijing this year and are just around the corner. Coverage is set to begin with the opening ceremony on August 8, 2008 airing on NBC, and all their affiliated channels including MSNBC, CNBC, and USA, and will end with the closing ceremony on August 24, 2008.

Some will moan and groan about the interruption to typical summer TV fare, but personally I'm looking forward to the Olympics and love what they stand for. It's an ideal, which though no longer pure thanks to doping scandals-such as with Marion Jones, is still praise-worthy. The idea of athletes from around the globe coming together in peace (a feat unto itself in today's world) to compete in sports, not for prize money, but for the honor of representing their country and the chance at being the best in their field. Young men and women who train for years for that one chance at glory, with all their hopes and dreams riding on a few precious minutes, sometimes seconds.

As for the TV coverage, the opening ceremony is always must-see TV in my house, and I await it with the same eager anticipation most people reserve for Christmas morning--or I reserve for the Oscars--and the excitement builds as the parade of nations draws near. I love to hear the roar of the crowd as the athletes come in proudly carrying their country's flag, and the anticipation until the U.S. flag enters the stadium, followed by a contingent of mostly young and eager faces all dressed in matching outfits, like school kids in uniform out on an exciting class trip. Once the actual competition starts, the one sport I try to follow (schedule permitting) during the summer olympics is women's gymnastics. U.S. women's gymnastics has been the source of some of my favorite olympic moments in the past, including Mary Lou Retton's perfect 10 on the vault and floor exercise in the 1984 Olympics, and Kerri Strug landing her last vault on one foot in order to earn a high enough score to qualify the U.S. for the gold in the team competition. I'm hoping they can create a couple more memorable moments during these olympics.

Another part of the coverage which I totally eat up are those sappy background stories they do on athletes and their families, with stirring background music and soft lighting, so that every frame evokes just enough emotion to tug on your heartstrings. Or better yet, when they cover the underdogs--the long shots hoping for a Cinderella story--which leave you cheering for them with the same excitement as for a family member, and ultimately (majority of the time) leave you heartbroken for their loss. The medal ceremonies are pretty special too, whether its seeing a young athlete's face as they get their medal and their realization that their dream came true, or when one of our athletes wins--seeing our flag hanging from the rafters or waving in the wind and hearing our anthem played for all to hear. There is an undeniable feeling of pride, as if the accomplishment is ours collectively.

So get out your U.S. flag (or your country's, if not from the U.S.), fluff up your pom-poms, freshen up on your anthem and get ready to cheer for the home team.

SYTYCD Kicks It Off with a Bang

The "So You Think You Can Dance" 2008 season started last night as smokin' hot as it finished last season with a round of phenomenal dancers, which quickly swept away any blues left over by the "Dancing with the Stars" finale. The auditions started in Los Angeles with Mia Michaels sitting in as the third judge alongside Nigel and Mary. The two-hour episode had its fair share of great, good, and wannabe dancers, and a few "eccentrics" (to be nice) just there to appear on TV. The dancers included ballroom dancing couples, poppers, and contemporary dancers. There were a bunch of great dancers, but my personal highlight reel for the episode would include a freudian slip by Mia Michaels who let slip "sex-cessful" in judging a very handsome (and arrogant) male dancer which lead to a full round of cackles from Mary who gloried in Mia's embarassment; a touching moment between Mia Michaels and a female contestant who was legally blind, and which Nigel and Mary declined to let move on to the choreography round citing her lack of technique. Mia barely able to speak through her tears explained that her friend-also a dancer-lost her vision, and commended the contestant for her will and determination; and the best was definitely saved for last, as the last dancer of the night was a popper from Los Angeles (Robert Muraine) who left everyone's jaw (including mine) on the floor. Mia Michaels was so impressed and incredulous at his performance she said that she expected him to unzip his outer wear and prove he was an alien, because what he did was so out of this world. Visit YouTube to watch Robert's audition.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

A Reading Test

Yet another forward from a friend at work.

I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg

The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid!

Accodrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabridgde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

Amzanig huh?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Once (Soundtrack is the Shining Star)

I thoroughly enjoyed this simple and charming movie, but what I truly loved was the music. The music is the shining star which carries the rest of the movie on its shoulders. The story is a typical boy meets girl tale set in Dublin with Glen Hansard of “The Frames” playing the “guy” (no names are ever given during the movie) and Marketa Irglova as the “girl.” He is a struggling musician and songwriter who performs on the Dublin streets at night, lives at home with his dad, and helps his dad as a Hoover vacuum repairman. She is a Czech immigrant who sells roses on the street and cleans houses in order to support her daughter and mother. The movie spans a week’s time after they meet and she decides to help him write new songs and record them in hopes that he’ll land a recording contract in London. The songs they write and record tell of past loves and heartbreaks, and serve as a backdrop to their own budding feelings.

The movie is lovely but brief (only 86 minutes long), strictly serving as a vehicle with which to share the wonderful music. According to Hansard’s Oscar speech (he and Irglova won best song for “Falling Slowly”), this movie was made for a hundred grand with two Handycams in the span of three weeks, yet as far as the music is concerned, this movie is as good if not better, than some of the Broadway musicals that have recently hit the big screen…without the cheesy dialogue and dance numbers.

Check out this movie, but better yet, buy the soundtrack. You won’t be disappointed. Hansard and Irglova have another CD out titled “The Swell Season” with which their touring. If you want to listen to a few of the songs from “Once” and the new CD, as well as check out their tour schedule, click here to visit their MySpace page. Be sure to listen to my two favorite songs, “If You Want Me” and “Falling Slowly.”

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Thought-Activated TV...Couch Potatoes Rejoice!

Break a sweat pressing the buttons on the remote? Well, no more I say, because here comes Hitachi to save the day! The UK's Daily Mail reported that the Japanese company Hitachi is working on thought-activated TV. Yup, no more remote controls. Any day now you'll be able to change the channel and turn on the TV with a mere thought. "Staff at the Japanese technology giant Hitachi have already succeeded in harnessing the power of thought to make a model train move and believe it is only a matter of time before the same technology can be applied to the TV remote. The technique, known as optical topography, reads thoughts by measuring changes in blood flow to key areas of the brain."

Couch potatoes should control their glee though, because these lovely caps supposedly have "several problems to overcome before the gadgetry is suitable for widespread use." Hmmm...wonder what those problems could be, and if they involve test subjects having to be forklifted out of their homes after prolonged use?

Finale Fever

"And now, the end is near;
And so I they face the final curtain."

Yes folks, the end is near for both “Dancing with the Stars” (DWTS) and “American Idol”. Both have been lackluster, yet enjoyable, seasons with pretty obvious outcomes from the beginning of the season. Last night the final three couples on DWTS (Kristi and Mark, Jason and Edyta, and Cristian and Cheryl) danced their last dances (cha cha and freestyle) and left it all on the dance floor, including clothing items, in hopes of winning America’s votes and taking home the shiny mirror-ball trophy. While Jason and Edyta have been my favorites throughout the season, I can’t deny the obvious outcome which will be Kristi winning it all based on pure technical skill. I’m nothing if not optimistic though, so I’m still hoping for a Jason and Edyta upset. I must say I’ll miss the sparkly dresses, spray on tans, and bad music, but I’ll have “So You Think You Can Dance” (starting Thursday) to console me.

"House" reached its season's end last night with a fabulous double-hanky weeper of an episode. Kudos to Robert Sean Leonard (Wilson) for his moving performance last night. Every tear and emotion he conveyed - sadness, anger, acceptance - seemed heartfelt and genuine. A round of applause to Anne Dudek (Amber) as well, who in the last few weeks transformed cutthroat bitch into a young woman in love whom we could actually care about and ultimately weep for in last night's episode.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Directed by Julian Schnabel, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" is based on the true story of Jean-Dominique Bauby the editor of French Elle who is left paralyzed by a stroke. The start of the movie is shot from Bauby's perspective as he wakes from a coma and is informed by his doctors that he's had a stroke, and that he's suffering from a rare condition called locked-in syndrome in which the person is physically paralyzed but their brain--thoughts, memories, etc. are all functioning normally. In those first shots, we hear Bauby's inner thoughts, and you feel his frustration and desperation as he answers the doctor's questions, only to realize he can't speak, and they can't hear him. In hopes of helping him to communicate, a speech therapist at the hospital devices a method of communication in which she would recite letters off a frequency-based alphabet and he would blink his left eye (the right eye had to be sewn shut) to select the letter he wanted, repeating the process until the word and ultimately the sentence was completed. As Bauby says in the movie, other than his eye the only other two things which weren't paralyzed were his imagination and his memory and it is to those beacons which he turns to in his darkest hours in hopes of finding a measure of peace. It's through his imagination that he can escape from the prison that is his body, and "live out his childhood dreams and adult ambitions." As the movie progresses, the view point of the camera broadens and we actually see Bauby as others see him. As he begins to communicate, Bauby decides to write a book - a memoir - of his life and so begins the slow and tedious process of communicating letter by letter, word by word, his thoughts and memories to a transcriber. The movie is moving, enlightening, and heartbreaking all at once--your heart breaks with Bauby when he can't hug his kids, you feel his helplessness at having to be bathed by others like a child, and you feel his strength and determination to tell his story--to live. Bauby's story exemplifies the strength and resiliency of the human spirit, and the movie conveys that message beautifully. Of particular note is the phenomenal performance by Mathieu Amalric as Bauby, who's limited facial expressions still manage to impart such depth of emotion.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

A Gem of a Find to Add to My TV Viewing Schedule

The three major networks announced their Fall TV schedules this past week, and there's one FOX show, "Fringe", which I'm anxiously anticipating and will gladly sacrifice yet another hour of my time to add it to my overburdened TV viewing schedule.

"Fringe" is created by J.J. Abrams, the creator of such great shows as "Alias" and "Lost." FOX describes the show as follows:

"When an international flight lands at Boston's Logan Airport and the passengers and crew have all died grisly deaths, FBI Special Agent OLIVIA DUNHAM (newcomer Anna Torv) is called in to investigate. After her partner, Special Agent JOHN SCOTT (Mark Valley, "Boston Legal"), is nearly killed during the investigation, a desperate Olivia searches frantically for someone to help, leading her to DR. WALTER BISHOP (John Noble, "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King"), our generation's Einstein. There's only one catch: he's been institutionalized for the last 20 years, and the only way to question him requires pulling his estranged son PETER (Joshua Jackson, "Dawson's Creek") in to help.

When Olivia's investigation leads her to manipulative corporate executive NINA SHARP (Blair Brown, "Altered States"), our unlikely trio along with fellow FBI Agents PHILLIP BROYLES (Lance Reddick, "The Wire"), CHARLIE FRANCIS (Kirk Acevedo, "Oz") and ASTRID FARNSWORTH (Jasika Nicole, "Law & Order: Criminal Intent") will discover that what happened on Flight 627 is only a small piece of a larger, more shocking truth."

Variety states that "Fringe" is a mix of "The X-Files" and "Altered States" with a "a slight 'Twilight Zone' vibe" per Abrams. X-Files and Twilight Zone rolled into one--I'm in.

If the above tidbits aren't enough to perk your interest, watch this sneak peek of the pilot.

Pretty cool huh? Variety also reported that the two-hour pilot was budgeted at over $10 million, and from that sneak peek I'd say it shows. The question will be whether the show can be great on a consistent basis, even without a $10 million budget. I guess only time will tell, but they have a temporary fan in me and I'll definitely be tuning in for the pilot. Their lead-in show, Tuesday's powerhouse "House", ain't too shabby, so they'll have a leg up on the competition.

X-Files: I Want to Believe Trailer

Ooh, I just found this over on YouTube. I can't wait! As you might gather from the last couple posts, patience isn't my strong suit.

Friday, May 16, 2008

It's Here!

Finally, after (not so) patiently waiting, my book arrived from Amazon. As I mentioned previously, I've been waiting to read this book from the moment I read the last page of Zafon's last novel "La Sombra Del Viento" (Shadow of the Wind). The weather in New York this weekend (rain, rain, rain) is made for staying in and curling up on the couch for a reading marathon. I hope to be able to give it my undivided attention, especially since given the weather the subway series games between the Mets and Yankees might be slightly derailed. Aah, a hot cup of ginger tea and a good book on a rainy day, what could be better? Well, actually, I can think of a few things, but it'll do.

SNL’s Smart Choice for Finale Host

America’s favorite boss from "The Office" and this generation’s new Maxwell Smart from the new "Get Smart" movie, Steve Carell, will be hosting SNL's 2008 season finale tomorrow, May 17th. Carell last hosted the season premiere back in 2005, along with musical guest Kanye West. Carell did a decent job during his last go around, including the memorable role of Bob Bummer opposite Rachel Dratch's Debbie Downer, though the funniest bit of that night had to have been the staged backstage reunion between Kanye and Mike Meyers. As you might recall, that season's premiere was shortly after Kayne’s controversial "George Bush doesn't care about black people" statement at the Hurricane Katrina telethon with a dumbstruck Mike Myers by his side. No controversies swirling this time around, so let's hope for a great show from the actor and funnyman, and maybe a special visit from Rachel Dratch as Debbie Downer to find out what became of her Prince Charming, Bob Bummer.

Optical Illusion

I got this optical illusion via email from a friend at work. I thought it was pretty cool so I thought I’d share.

If you look at the above images from your seat in front of the computer, Mr. Angry is on the left, and Ms. Calm is on the right.

Get up from your seat, and move back 12 feet, and PRESTO, they switch places!!

It is said this illusion was created by Phillippe G.Schyns and Aude Oliva of the University of Glasgow.

Does this prove that we sometimes may not be seeing what's actually there?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Idol Producers Get Early Christmas Present

Well, it's official. "American Idol" producers got their fondest wish tonight in the form of a David vs. David finale, as Syesha was sent home. It will be the 17-year old teen heartthrob with the flawless voice versus the 25-year old seasoned rocker with originality and raw talent. Both are deserving of a spot in the finale, so let's just hope America remembers its a talent competition not a popularity contest and bases their votes strictly on Tuesday night's performances. At this point, I'd say Cook goes in as the underdog, but if he can pull off a showstopper of a performance ala his covers of "Billie Jean", "Always Be My Baby" or "Eleanor Rigby" then he's got a shot. Let's all tune in next Tuesday, and...go David!

Britain's Got Talent - A New Favorite

As I originally discussed in my April 'Britain's Got Talent' post, I'm following the Brit's talent competition online and I have a couple favorites that I'm hoping will make it into the finale. As of now, the show has reached week 5 of the auditions and I thought I'd share my new favorite from across the pond--12-yr old Faryl Smith singing a beautiful Ave Maria.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

American Idol Final Three

Even before the night started, the contestant most in need of a big night was Syesha, and unfortunately I don't think she had the kind of magical breakthrough performance which can stop the momentum of the now inevitable David's finale. But without a doubt the most memorable moment of the night for me was hearing David Archuleta singing "I need you, boo, I gotta see ya, boo" from Chris Brown's song "With You." It was the TV equivalent of seeing Pat Boone's chest-baring leather and chains clad appearance on the American Music Awards some years ago. Wrong, just so wrong.

TV Doctors: Curing the World In An Hour

Inspired by my love of the irascible Dr. Gregory House, and last night's incredible episode of "House", I searched through my own memory banks to come up with a list of my favorite TV doctors. The list includes past and present M.D.s. Sure, they can recite fancy medical jargon with their eyes closed and save a dying patient--all in an hours time--but just as importantly they all look great doing it. Here's my list.

1. Dr. Gregory House ("House") - The resident curmudgeon at Princeton-Plainsboro Hospital, Dr. House (Hugh Laurie) has no bedside manner, an acerbic demeanor, and copes with his own physical pain with a vicodin addiction. Even with these strikes against him, viewers can't dispute the guy is downright brilliant, and if I was a patient I'd want no one else as my doctor. He's sexy too, in an anti-social, sociopathic kinda way. Maybe its the wounded soul vibe you get from House, all a result of Hugh Laurie's brilliant multi-layered portrayal of the character, but you always get the sense that there is something redeeming just beneath the surface and as a woman you want to be the one that uncovers the diamond in the rough.

2. Dr. James Wilson ("House") - The ying to Dr. Gregory House's yang, Wilson (Sean Robert Leonard) is the caring oncologist who has managed to dissect House enough for us to see the heart -- two sizes too small - which beats inside the wounded beast. The wonderful camraderie, trust and friendship between these two polar opposites is refreshing and endearing, and the witty banter between these friends is a plus. Wilson is the kind of good looking, sweet and caring guy you could easily imagine bringing home to mom.

3. Dr. Pete Wilder ("Private Practice") - Dr. Wilder (Tim Daly) practices alternative medicine at Oceanside Wellness Center. In yet another case of my love of tortured souls, Dr. Wilder is a widower who still grieves for his wife and lost love. Though there's some potentially sizzling chemistry between Pete and Dr. Addison Montgomery, the new doctor at the center, Pete seems unwilling or unable to leave his memories behind. How can you not love someone who still loves their dead spouse? Of course, the root of my current attraction for Dr. Wilder could be easily explained as a byproduct of my lingering feelings for pilot Joe Hackett from Wings -- also portrayed by Daly.

4. Dr. Doug Ross ("ER") - Originally I wasn't a big fan of Dr. Ross (George Clooney), he was too much of a womanizer for my taste. In the end, for me, his redemption came from his love of Carol Hathaway (Julianna Margulies) and the sense that he geniunely cared about his patients. In a move sure to win over most hopeless romantics, including me, who could forget Carol flying to Seattle to reunite with Doug--the love of her life--and her walking down that short pier to find him working on his boat, followed by that long-awaited kiss which left you dreaming of a happily ever after.

5. Dr. James Kildare ("Dr. Kildare") - Let me quickly say that this show was before my time and I never actually watched an episode of "Dr. Kildare" with Dr. James Kildare (Richard Chamberlain)--but its always been in my subconscious thanks to Richard Chamberlain. From what I've read, the show was quite a phenomena thanks to Chamberlain's rise to teeenage heartthrob status during the life of the show. I will openly admit that this entry is purely based on my love of Richard Chamberlain from his Father Ralph de Bricassart role on the sweeping mini-series "The Thorn Birds." As a teenager, Ralph and Meggie's tragic love story broke my heart, and helped to make me the hopeless romantic I am today.

Who would you include on the list? Here's a few extra choices which didn't make it to my shortlist: Dr. Derek Sheperd 'McDreamy' (Patrick Dempsey) from "Grey's Anatomy", Dr. Phillip Chandler (Denzel Washington) from "St. Elsewhere", or if you're male, maybe you'd prefer Dr. Michaela Quinn (Jane Seymour) from "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman".

DWTS: The Semi-Finals

After last week's return of Apolianne (Apolo and Julianne) and Mel and Maks, tonight's episode made me realize how uninspiring this season of "Dancing with the Stars" is by comparison. While I'll continue watching and cheering for my favorite couple (Jason and Edyta), I'm just not as captivated this season as I've been in the past. Every dance this season falls short by comparison to the same dances performed in previous seasons. Even the spray on tans are paler by comparison. For example, tonight's Tango by Kristi and Mark was less than memorable, in spite of the judge's high marks. You want to see a great Tango, watch Mario Lopez and Karina, or for a hipper version watch Apolo and Julianne's from the semi-finals. Marissa and Tony's Quickstep was slow and cumbersome compared to the fun, sassy Quickstep performed by Helio and Julianne last season. Even my favorites' (Jason and Edyta) second dance, the Paso Doble, was as dull as white bread when compared to the passionate dominatrix-inspired Paso performed by Mel and Maks.

Luckily, there's only one more week left until this season's big finale, which will hopefully include Jason and Edyta, as well as some original and creative freestyles that bring the wow back to the dance floor. And if not, we always have next season. Tune in tomorrow to see who falls short of the finale.

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Brilliance that is "House"

I know this show is great, but if I ever doubt it in the future, all I'll have to do is think back to tonight's episode. Wow. Merriam-Webster's dictionary defines it as an interjection meant to express strong feeling (as pleasure or surprise). So, I'll say it again...Wow. Tonight's Part 1 of the two-part season finale epitomizes everything that makes "House" great: the acting, the dialogue, the drama and as always the mysteries. Tonight's mystery was a puzzle which baffled and perplexed both House and us, and those last few minutes when House is finally able to fit in that missing puzzle piece were incredible and heartbreaking all at once. Loved this episode, can't wait until next week, and already dreading the wait until the start of next season.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

This Past Week on the Boob Tube (5/11)

Monday's Dancing with the Stars is a blur in my mind overshadowed by Tuesday's 100th episode which brought back...Apolianne! Yes, my all time favorite couple on DWTS, Apolo and Julianne, was back and as magical as ever. I love these two! I could watch them dance every night. Apolianne performed an incredible routine with spins, death drops and lifts, to "Every Day" which was performed live by Rascal Flatts. Also, back for a special performance were Tom Bergeron's favorite M&M's (Mel & Maks). The special episode was on results night, and at the end of the hour Mario and 'rolling-eyes Karina' were sent home. Mario handled his ouster with with class and grace.

On Monday's House, House indulged his soap opera addiction by bringing a little drama to a daytime drama, when he kidnapped and later drugged his favorite daytime actor because he was convinced he was dying of a brain tumor. Cameron got some extra screen time in this episode, as Cuddy delegated the job of cleaning House's patients records due to an ongoing hospital inspection. For me, the patient cases in the last couple episodes have taken a back seat to the House/Wilson/Amber storyline, and this week was no exception. Amber finally performed the unthinkable, she won me over. Yes, cutthroat bitch has a new fan. What did the trick? The touching scene when she tells Wilson that she can take care of herself, and that she needs him to take care of himself by making decisions that make him happy so that he doesn't grow to resent her. As for the case, in the end it turned out to be an allergy to quinine brought about by the fake doctor's, the patient and soap star, not House, sipping from prop cocktails during filming.

Tuesday's American Idol was marked by ho-hum performances from the final four. The biggest disappointment of the night was my favorite blue-eyed dreadlock dude, Jason, who was beat up by the judges for forgetting the lyrics to his second song (Tambourine Man). Wednesday's results show was pretty anti-climatic as Simon's "you better pack warning" proved true, and an obviously relieved and giddy Jason was sent home.

I flaked out mid-season on Survivor, but I'll definitely be tuning in Sunday for the finale and reunion. We'll see which of the ladies will take home the cash. [Update: Parvati beat out Amanda to take home the million dollar check. (Boo! What was the jury thinking?) Congrats to James for winning the $100K player of the season prize.]

Saturday, May 10, 2008

A Mother's Day Message

"A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts."
--Washington Irving

Coming Soon to a Video Store Near You

You know the saying folks, you snooze you lose. In an effort to be my usual helpful self, I've compiled this list of soon to be released DVDs, along with useful links for each movie where you can read a brief movie synopsis, read critic reviews (really, what do they know?) and watch the movie trailer. I've done my part. Now you know the dates, so be the first in line to rent one of these fine movies at a video store near you.

The Great Debaters, PG-13 (Denzel Washington)
Untraceable, R (Diane Lane)
Mad Money, PG-13 (Diane Keaton)

National Treasure: Book of Secrets, PG (Nicolas Cage)

Rambo, R (Sylvester Stallone)

The Eye, PG-13 (Jessica Alba)
Semi-Pro, R (Will Ferrell)

The Bucket List, PG-13 (Jack Nicholson)
The Other Boleyn Girl, PG-13 (Scarlett Johansson)

Happy viewing!

27 Dresses

"27 Dresses" stars Katherine Heigl as Jane, a hopeless romantic who embodies the saying always a bridesmaid, never a bride. How much of a romantic is Jane? Her idea of relaxing at home is to read the 'Vows' section of the newspaper and cut out and save the most sentimental and touching pieces. Jane is selfless with those in her life, including her younger sister Tess, her boss George (Edward Burns), whom she's secretly in love with, or the endless number of friends for whom she's attended and helped plan weddings (27 in total). Everything is going swimmingly in Jane's life, until her sister Tess comes to visit and starts falling for George and vice versa, and then Jane's dreams of happily ever after are threatened. Thrown into this mix is Kevin Doyle (James Marsden), a writer for the 'Commitments' section in the newspaper. Kevin meets Jane at a wedding and after finding her filofax and reading it, he sees the potential for a story about the perennial bridesmaid as a ticket out of the wedding beat. To make matters interesting, Tess and George get engaged, and Kevin is the writer assigned to write their piece for the 'Commitments' section. As Kevin and Jane are thrown together sparks start to fly, and then things get really interesting. The movie isn't laugh out loud funny like "Knocked Up", Heigl's last comedy, but there are quite a few funny scenes, and even a few touching scenes which Heigl pulls off just as easily as the laughs. All in all, this sweet and charming romantic comedy is a chick-flick which is definitely worth seeing.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow

Alas, the journey has ended for Jason Castro on Idol. My favorite goofy, gorgeous, dreadlocked dude from Texas was unfortunately serenated home with Ruben Studdard's "Celebrate Me Home" at the end of Wednesday's episode. Unlike the previous week's results night, no tears were shed, as Jason looked downright giddy to be voted off the show. Moments before being told he had the lowest number of votes, he joked with Ryan Seacrest that he'd been told by someone that on Tuesday he shot the tambourine man, making joking reference to his two poorly received performances of "I Shot the Sheriff" and "Mr. Tambourine Man." Even after the news, Jason sported a beaming and infectious smile as he chuckled through the start of his farewell performance of "I Shot the Sheriff". Jason's laid-back hippie vibe and folksy sound were a welcome change on American Idol were the norm has been wannabe rockers, pop stars, or country singers, so I'll definitely miss him. Now, as Carly Smithson aptly put it, "The Show Must Go On." So, who do you think Jason's fans will switch their allegiance to, David Cook or David Archuleta? Will his fans serve as kingmaker for David C., putting him over the top, in spite of the massive support from all the teeny-boppers for David A.? Tune in and see.

MENSA's Top 10 Smartest TV Shows

Jim Werdell, the chairman of Mensa International, the society of brainy intellectuals, that requires its members to have an IQ in the top 2% of the population, recently gave an interview to in which he picked the top 10 smartest TV shows of all time. Werdell said about his list, “They tended to be shows that dealt with issues in the world, and from my perspective that’s considered smart. Some sitcoms reach a higher level of intellect than others, and you can say the same about some of the dramas. The stories may be cliché, but the characters and dialogue are smarter.

Here is Werdell’s list (in no particular order):

1. “M*A*S*H”
2. “Cosmos” (with Carl Sagan)
3. “CSI”
4. “House”
5. “West Wing”
6. “Boston Legal”
7. “All in the Family”
8. “Frasier”
9. “Mad About You”
10. “Jeopardy”

So, what do you think? I’ve never seen “Cosmos”, but the name and host, imply smarts to me. Which show(s) would you add to the list? My personal entry would be “Daily Show with Jon Stewart.” Real news with a twist. Like their website says "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart -- it's even better than being informed."

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Family Sitcoms: Gone the Way of the Dodo

In this age of crime and medical dramas, families have disappeared off the face of network TV, and along with them the family sitcom. The family sitcom which was a regular staple of broadcast television networks has gone the way of the dodo, rare and extinct. We no longer have a family hour of television, to sit down and enjoy a show together - as a family. In the 80's and 90's, we had such family fare as "The Cosby Show", "Full House", "Family Ties", "Growing Pains", "Roseanne", "Who's the Boss", "Home Improvement", and "Family Matters" to name a few. They were sitcoms about families for families, which drew the family as a unit around their TV screens to peek in on, an albeit fictional family, but one which might be sharing similar problems as them. Given the times, the families depicted on TV were as diverse as those you might have found in any town or city in America: upscale (The Cosby Show), working-class (Roseanne), merged, with children from previous marriages, (Step by Step), or single parent (Full House). Parents and kids could tune in and see subjects such as first day's of school, first dates, or first times (if you know what I mean) dealt with humor and tactfulness. Were the shows innocent and naive sometimes? Yes. Was the advice doled out during some episodes downright hokey? Yes, again. But if that's the worst criticism to offer, I'd take it. In truth, the real benefit of each show wasn't that it taught parenting skills or that it gave parents just the right thing to say for that first sex talk, it was that it brought the family together. During that half-hour to an hour, you might have laughed, cried, or maybe (hopefully) talked, but most importantly you shared time, together.

Need a "Heroes" Fix?

Patience is a virtue. Patience is a virtue. Awww, heck. Who am I kidding? It's a long wait until September, and I don't have much patience, so I went in search of some scoops on what to look forward to in the coming season. First of all, Heroes fans will have to wait until Monday, September 7th for "Heroes Season 3 - Volume 3: Villains" to return to NBC. Though the show isn't currently on the air, Heroes director Allan Arkush told TV Guide that taping for the new season was supposedly starting on May 1st (click here for the full Arkush interview). As fans will recall, last we saw our heroes, Nathan was shot while giving a press conference outing the heroes superpowers; Niki apparently perished in the fire saving Monica; Adam was trapped in a coffin by Hiro; and Sylar was back in action after taking the vaccine, with his final words "I'm back" uttered as the episode ended. So with that little refresher, here are some of the scoops I found for next season:


The latest news comes from Michael Ausiello of the Ausiello Report at who reported in an exclusive that "Bruce Boxleitner, who played Scarecrow to Sabrina Duncan's Mrs. King in the mid-80s, has snagged a top-secret recurring role that was originally going to be modeled after Sen. John McCain. The character has since been reconceived, and now all I know for sure is that he'll be sharing scenes with a female series regular." (Read full scoop)

Kristin from Watch with Kristin on E! provided this scoop in response to a viewer request for some Season 3 news, "Look for a new villain named Joy. Her power is superspeed—she's lightning-fast, like the Flash. Hiro meets her in a museum. He asks her if she has powers and if she is trying to steal some art. She convinces him she's on the up-and-up...and then makes off with a bunch of paintings. She's described as a nymph-like character with the speed of a cheetah on, er, speed."

As a follow-up to Kristin's scoop, in an Ausiello Report exclusive, Ausiello confirmed that Brea Grant will be filling the role of Joy. Brea last appeared on "Friday Night Lights" as Jean Binnel, Landry's short-lived girlfriend, before he went back to who he rightfully belonged with, Tyra.

Jack Coleman (Noah Bennett) shared plenty of tidbits with TV Guide including these insightful little gems. When asked what's in the cards for Noah Bennett this season, Coleman told TV Guide, "I'm currently incarcerated and at the bottom of Level Five in the company facility. I think there may be an escape in the offing, but at a cost." Asked about Monhinder, Coleman stated "He's not as mild-mannered as he once was."

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

TV's Pit Stops

Love commercials or hate them? Whichever your response, they are a fact of life, as certain as death and taxes. Sure, they've tried to do away with them on TV with new gizmos like TiVo, but now we have them in movie theaters. So I say, embrace them. Instead of seeing them as a disturbance, treat them as a perfect little pit stop. An opportunity to take care of practical matters, like bathroom breaks or snack runs. In fact, I must admit, that some commercials are downright entertaining. When I was a kid, commercials looked like they were put together by the AV kids in my school. Nowadays, with big budgets and in some cases big name stars (like Justin Timberlake pitching Pepsi), ads have been revolutionized into teeny-tiny-movies. Granted, they're still teeny-tiny-movies reminding us every 15 minutes of the things we don't have, and maybe can't afford. All things considered, I like commercials, I just wish there were fewer of them. At this point in my life, my bladder is still strong enough to hold it for more than 15 minutes at a time. Maybe they could limit them to one commercial break during a one-hour show. No commercial breaks for 1/2 hour shows. What do you think?

With all that said, there are three commercials in particular that I've seen in the recent past that I loved. One brought a smile to my heart, the second brought tears to my eyes, and the third made me laugh out loud. Here's a video clip of each.

Echo Gets Adopted (You see what I mean? Aren't you smiling?)

Budweiser 9/11 Tribute (This ad aired only once. It's beautiful in its simplicity and heartbreakingly moving.)

Bud Light Swear Jar (LOL)

Ronald's Metamorphosis

The other day I was chatting with a friend and co-worker about “Enchanted” and his little daughter’s newfound adoration of Patrick Dempsey’s Prince Charming-esque role in that film. The conversation automatically drew my wandering mind back to Patrick’s all-time best leading role in “Can’t Buy Me Love.” Who could forget Ronald or the final scene as Ronald and Cindy ride off into the sunset on his lawn mower? How had it happened I asked myself? How had my Ronald, the lawn-mowing nerd that had to pay Cindy, the popular cheerleader, to be his girlfriend so he could get into the in-crowd become this generation’s Dr. McDreamy? What a metamorphosis! Like fine wines, some people age well, and Patrick Dempsey is definitely one of those people. Of course, this revelation had me running to my old photo albums looking for any slight changes in myself. To be honest, I haven't noticed any changes, yet, but I’m hoping maybe by the time I’m 80 I’ll be absolutely stunning.

For those of you who have known Patrick Dempsey only as Dr. McDreamy, here’s a photo of him as I best remember him, when he was still Ronald, and the new sleeker model.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Summer TV (Fun in the Sun)

For all things there is a season, and for reality TV that season is Summer. Yes folks, the time has arrived. As networks wrap up the regular season for prime-time series, they also introduce their summer fare of reality TV favorites for our TV viewing consumption. As in most summer entertainment, the fare is light, titillating, and slightly addictive. At least addictive enough to keep you glued to the TV, in spite of sunny skies and warm weather right outside your front door. The recipe for a reality TV hit is simple: a tablespoon of fun, a teaspoon of drama, and a dash of sex. Mix it all together and you could have a winner. I could be wrong on the recipe, I'm really not much of a cook. The networks are hoping for that winning combination in their summer TV line ups.

ABC is looking for a one, two punch from "The Bachelorette" (5/19) and the return of "The Mole" (5/26). The bachelorette this season will be DeAnna Pappas, who was rejected by Brad Womack in last season's "The Bachelor". Viewers might recall Womack as the scoundrel that picked neither woman at the end of his season. In "The Mole" the object of the game for contestants is not to find true love, but to compete in challenges, win the most money, and uncover the identity of the "mole" or saboteur hired by the producers to work as a double-agent.

NBC is relying on a couple of talent-themed competitions as their winning ticket. "America's Got Talent" (6/17) is a talent show featuring everything from jugglers, tumblers, dancers, singers, comedians and other performers, including ventriloquists (like last year's winner), all competing for a cash prize of $1 Million. The aptly named "Last Comic Standing" (5/22), is a competition to find the "funniest comic in the planet" according to the NBC website. This year they have some NBC comedy stars, past and present, serving as scouts during the audition process. Scouts include Angela Kinsey aka Angela Martin of Dunder Mifflin on "The Office", George Wendt aka Norm Peterson from "Cheers", and Josh Gomez aka Morgan Grimes on "Chuck", to name a few. The last comic standing, chosen by call-in votes from the public, will win a $250,000 grand prize including an exclusive talent deal with NBC, a brand new Honda, and a starring appearance in Jubilee! at Bally's Las Vegas.

CBS is relying on its sure-fire winner, "Big Brother 10" (7/13) to carry them to victory. Big Brother is the epitome of summer reality TV. It's rarely boring, sometimes scandalous, and always entertaining. The shows puts a group of strangers (houseguests) into the Big Brother house and tapes them 24/7, without any privacy, for our viewing pleasure. In true Big Brother tradition, house guests know to expect the unexpected, as producers throw in twists and surprises to keep the houseguests guessing and the show entertaining.

FOX hopes that "So You Think You Can Dance" (5/22 and 5/28- 2 night/4 hr premiere) dances straight into your hearts and TV sets. The dance competition centers around amateur dancers from all over the country trying to make the top 24 and move on to the live shows where America votes for their favorites. As with American Idol, sometimes the more entertaining (and cringe inducing) performances are during the audition rounds at the start of the season.

I'll end with this message. It's summer, live it up, put off NPR's "All Things Concerned" and PBS' "Masterpiece Theater" until Fall, and instead enjoy a bit of fluff strictly meant to enliven your senses and dull your mind. You can make up those lost brain cells by watching a couple episodes from MENSA International Chairman's list of smartest TV shows of all time. The big cheese at MENSA provided the list during an interview with Fancast. Included on Mensa's list: Jeopardy, Cosmos (with Carl Sagan), and believe it or not, House.


The movie opens with mock U.S. Department of Defense warning messages which state that the video is property of the U.S. government and is not to be duplicated. The next screen reads:


followed by:


These mock warnings set the ominous tone for the onset of the story. The movie is a mix of a Godzilla/monster movie and the Blair Witch. The whole movie is seen from the perspective of a hand held video camera being carried by one of the movie's protagonists. In the first scenes, we are introduced to Rob and Beth, a young couple seemingly in love. In the next scenes, we meet Rob's brother Jason and his girlfriend Lily, who are throwing a farewell party for Rob, who is leaving for Japan. During the party, Jason asks their friend Hud to videotape farewell messages from the party's participants for Rob. During the party, the ground shakes, lights flicker, and loud roars are heard in the distance. After initially assuming it was an earthquake, they quickly realize their mistake. In fact, New York City is under attack from some type of monster. Given the fact that the entire movie is told from the perspective of this group of friends as they try to escape from Manhattan, we never really gain any information as to what the monster is or its origin. The special effects are phenomenal. We see skycrapers crashing down, the collapse of the Brooklyn Bridge and even the head of the Statue of Liberty roll down the street. The early scenes with white billowing clouds of dust rolling down the street towards pedestrians desperately trying to escape were eerily reminiscent of scenes on TV during the 9/11 attacks. An interesting part of the movie is the use throughout the movie of snippets of previously recorded footage which were supposedly on the videotape and which are being recorded over. I enjoyed this movie, and would definitely recommend renting the DVD if you want to see a current day monster movie with great special effects. Check out some of the DVD extras on the special effects used in the movie.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

This Past Week on the Boob Tube

In a flashback from last year's drama with Marie Osmond (fainting) and Mark Ballas (dislocated shoulder), we had yet another injury on Monday's Dancing with the Stars when Cristian de la Fuente injured his arm mid-dance, dropping partner Cheryl Burke right on her rear. Luckily, Cristian was OK and will be continuing on the show, despite needing surgery, which he said he'll take care of after the show (I knew this guy was a little nuts. This explains his crazy eyes while he's dancing.). On the Wednesday results show, America brought an end to the showmance, and sent Shannon Elizabeth and Derek packing. After much waiting, House was back, on it's new night of Monday (temporarily). In typical House form, his first words were "What's with the idiot?" which he asked Cameron when he spotted a chubby guy smiling, calmly waiting in the ER as staff rushed around ignoring him. During a subsequent conversation with House, the guy was exceedingly nice, which of course, lead House to conclude that the man is seriously ill, and that his niceness is a symptom of the disease. While the patient's case was mildly interesting, the best part of the episode centered around House's battle with Cutthroat Bitch aka Amber over visitation rights for Wilson. Serving as a King Solomon figure, Cuddy wisely intercedes in the custody dispute and they settle on every other weekend and Wednesday's, but Wilson must be home by eleven. As usual, the best part of the show are the scenes between House and Wilson. American Idol had it's fair share of drama, though not related to singing. In a classic Paula moment, when asked by Ryan to give a quick run down of her thoughts on the contestants first performance, she critiqued Jason on his two songs, when in fact he had only performed once. This inspired all sort of conspiracy theories on the internet (deemed Paulagate), including the assertion that judges might be given scripted comments in advance of the live performance. In spite of my low expectations for Neil Diamond night, the top 5 were in pretty good form at least during one of their two performances. In the end, the contestant going home was Brooke White. I think America made the right decision. In recent weeks, I felt that Brooke had reached her breaking point and that the stress was really getting to her. It was a sad farewell as she thanked everyone and said her goodbyes, but it was definitely time.

There's plenty of reasons to watch TV next week. On House, Monday will be the last regular episode as we head towards the two-part season finale which starts on 5/12, and on Dancing with the Stars Tuesday results show, they'll be welcoming back some fan favorites from previous seasons, including Apolo Ohno (fangirly yeah!!!) (See "Tune In Alert" post below).

Tune In Alert: Dancing with the Stars (May 6th)

In celebration of their 100th episode, "Dancing with the Stars" will have special guests on their Tuesday, 5/6 results show. Viewers will be rewarded for their loyalty through special appearances by fan favorites from seasons past. Apolianne (fan-given knickname), better known as Season Four Champions Apolo Ohno and Julianne Hough, will reunite for a special performance (I'm still hoping for a happily ever after for these two. What can I say, I'm a hopeless romantic). Also participating are Season Five finalist and Spice Girl Mel B. and her partner Maksim, Sabrina Ryan (Cheeta girl), Joey Fatone (aka Fat One, his self-dubbed moniker), and a host of other past contestants. The ballroom will also get a visit from Mario Lopez in the "Macy's Stars of Dance" segment on "A Chorus Line." Mario is in the Broadway production of the hit show. Sequin covered dresses, fake tans, and horrible music make for a fun night of television.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y night

S - A - T - U - R - D - A - Y night
S - A - T - U - R - D - A - Y night
S - A - T - U - R - D - A - Y night
S - A - T - U - R - D - A - Y night

Gonna keep on dancin' to the rock and roll
On Saturday night, Saturday night
Dancin' to the rhythm in our heart and soul
On Saturday night, Saturday night
I, I, I, I, I just can't wait, I, I, I, I got a date

At the good ole rock and roll show, I gotta go
Saturday night, Saturday night
Gonna rock it up, roll it up, do it all, have a ball
Saturday night, Saturday night

It's just a Saturday night
It's just a Saturday night
It's just a Saturday night

S - A - T - U - R - D - A - Y night
S - A - T - U - R - D - A - Y night
S - A - T - U - R - D - A - Y night
S - A - T - U - R - D - A - Y night

Whew...Now that I've got that out of my system, we can move on. As I'm sure you know, maybe not, that's from the Bay City Rollers circa 1976. Seeing as how neither of us actually have a date, we're not gonna rock it up, roll it up, do it all, and have a ball, why don't we talk about an appropo subject for a Saturday night, Saturday Night Live (SNL). An old favorite of mine, which in recent year's, in my opinion (you're entitled to have a different one of course) has gone down hill a little. The most recent casts aren't as great as those members from "classic" SNL, like Bill Murray and Jim Belushi, or even more recent years, like Chris Farley, Adam Sandler, or Will Ferrell. I will caveat my statement by saying that it's still one of the funnier things to watch on Saturday night. I will also own up to the fact that as I get older, I find myself more and more comparing everything to how it was when I was younger. I guess nostalgia can be that way, you forget the bad and only remember the good. I'm sure they had their stinky episodes too. Every season does have at least one or two standouts, and these previous years are no exception, I think its Amy Poehler. Given her recent film success with Tina Fey (a huge loss for the show), I wouldn't be surprised to see her move on. That's the problem as a fan. The show really serves as a stepping stone to bigger and better careers, most notably Bill Murray, most recently Will Ferrell, and therefore the great ones ultimately always leave the show. SNL is no longer a must see for me, now I tune in when there's a guest host I think has the potential for some really funny sketch comedy. Thinking back on my favorites, I'd say they were Arianna and Craig (Cheri Oteri and Will Ferrell), the always hopeful and slightly desperate Spartan cheerleaders; Todd and Lisa (Bill Murray and Gilda Radner), the sweet and lovable nerds; and lastly, Roseanne Rosanadana (Gilda Radner, yet again), the intrepid reporter on Weekend Update. I hope you'll enjoy these clips of the brilliant Gilda Radner. The first is of Todd & Lisa from SNL, and the second is from her live show (Gilda Live).

Nerds of Seduction

Roseanne Rosanadana (for cuzr)

Get Ready To Be Swept Away

May sweeps has officially begun! Brace yourself because the networks will pull out all the stops to get you to tune in and watch their shows. Get ready to be dazzled by special guest stars, like Britney Spears on "How I Met Your Mother" (yes, she's returning for another episode) or Steve Buscemi on "ER". You'll be intrigued by cliffhangers and possible deaths or departures (Are rumors true that a staff member is leaving The Office for a spinoff? Is Toby really moving to Costa Rica like he said after his embarrassing incident with Pam?). Even Oprah's getting into the swing of things with a much-hyped interview with sofa-jumping Tom Cruise. Cliffhangers haven't disappointed in the past, like 'Who shot Mr. Burns?' on "The Simpsons", or 'Who Shot J.R.?' on "Dallas", so I'm sure there'll be plenty to keep us on the edge of our seats all summer and tuning in come Fall. In addition, to the season finales for TV series, we also have season finales for perennial reality TV favorites, "American Idol", "Dancing With the Stars" and "Survivor". So if you're curious, you'll have to tune in and watch. Here's a run down of dates for some upcoming season finales:

American Idol, FOX, Tues. 5/20 (last performance); Wed. 5/21 results (2 hours)
Bones, FOX, Mon. 5/19
CSI, CBS, Thurs. 5/15
Dancing with the Stars, ABC, Mon. 5/19 (last dances); Tues. 5/20 results (2 hours)
Desperate Housewives, ABC, Sun. 5/18 (2 hours)
Grey's Anatomy, ABC, Thurs. 5/22
House, FOX, Mon. 5/12 (Pt. 1), Mon. 5/19 (Pt. 2)
How I Met Your Mother, CBS, Mon. 5/19
Lost, ABC, Thurs. 5/29 (2 hours)
Survivor: Micronesia, CBS, Sun. 5/11
The Office, NBC, Thurs. 5/15 (1 hour)
The Simpsons, FOX, Sun. 5/18

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Good Ol' Days

I was surfing the web last night, when I stumbled upon a site that had a copy of "Dynamite" magazine. I couldn't believe it. What a flash from the past. As many, OK maybe some, of you will remember "Dynamite" was a kid's magazine in the 70's that had such sizzling covers as Shaun Cassidy and Farrah Fawcett. While "Dynamite" was cool, the end all, be all for me was "Tiger Beat" magazine. I could always count on "Tiger Beat" to appease my need for info and photos on my latest crush, whether it was Leif Garrett, Scott Baio or a hot Matt Dillon. After finding the magazines, my trip down memory lane quickly became a treasure hunt of sorts as I expanded my search to some of my favorite shows as well.

It was quite a kick to see again some of the familiar faces I so loved as a kid. I was as much a TV addict back then as I am now (not sure what my parents were thinking), so I hope I serve as a warning to all the parents out there - unless you want your kid blogging about TV at 40. I had an extensive list of favorites which I tuned into religiously, including Laverne & Shirley, Facts of Life, Chips, The Love Boat (yes, I was a geek even back then), and Happy Days to name a few. One of my very favorites was "Wonder Woman". I was dutifully impressed by her truth telling lasso and, lest we forget, her invisible plane. Here's a video clip to stir up some fond memories.

While remembering the good ol' days is always fun, here's to hoping the best days are still to come.