Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

I love Christmas. It is my favorite holiday! As we celebrate the birth of Jesus (yes, that is where Christmas originated: shocking!! :), I love spending time with family, eating a bunch of yummy treats, opening gifts, listening to holiday music, and seeing Christmas decor (which is seriously lacking in Los Angeles, especially Christmas lights).

The big news this Christmas is that my sister had her baby yesterday! I now have 11 (see above) nieces and nephews (and only one of those is from Sean's side of the family). I have never been in town when one of my sisters delivered, so I am very excited to say that I was in the room when Bennett Robert Gudalis was born. On Tuesday night is when part of my family was opening gifts, so we left food and gifts unwrapped to rush her to the hospital. Congrats to Brian and Jenna! He is adorable. Click here for some pics. (Forgive my greasy hair in this pic as I had just gotten rained on.)

Now for some of my favorite Christmas songs:

Mary Did You Know
by Michael English (this is my favorite version but PLEASE forgive the beginning of this video--I don't get it...)

Last Christmas by Wham

Light a Candle
by Avalon

All I Want for Christmas by Maria Carey

Unfortunately, the joy of Christmas does not always extend into holiday travel. The airport was packed, the weather was freezing (once I got to Louisville, it was 8 degrees...), and one of my bags didn't make it. So I wore the same jeans and socks for three days. I had two shirts with me so I've been trading off. How is it that all my underwear was in the missing bag and all Sean's was in the bag that made it without a problem? Good news: The bag with the gifts got here in time. All else can be remedied (but I should prepare for the fact that frightening photos were taken while my makeup bag was also in the missing luggage. I didn't see that bag for 3 full days after I landed.

In other news, what could make such air travel worth it? Celeb spotting at the airport, of course. I saw Ryan Gosling and knew it was him immediately. I never ask for photos but I was just standing there and a couple girls walked up to him. He was so nice. So when he walked right next to me, I had to ask for a photo. He was so gracious and sweet. He even asked me my name and said "nice to meet you." My husband took the picture so I think that knocks me down one point on the loser scale (as in, less loser-y).

So... MERRY MERRY CHRISTMAS! May you remember the reason for the season.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Book: The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga

Reading books that take place in India is certainly giving me some insight. However, I am not sure The White Tiger, while entertaining and educating, does much to prepare me for my trip. The reason is that it is about the castes, from which the poor can't really escape. It is a very interesting commentary on what it takes for a servant from a very poor family to rise up and find financial success and freedom.

The White Tiger (aka Balram Halwai) is so named because he is the type that comes along once in a lifetime. His story is presented via letters he writes to the President of China over the course of a week. He writes these letters to prepare the president for a trip to India, and to tell him how things really are.

Balram is a driver for a wealthy businessman, whose main job is bribing city and country officials. He reveals early in his letters that he is currently a successful Indian entrepreneur and that he progressed so far through committing murder and theft. The reader waits through the story to find out how the murder comes to be, and what steps lead Balram to such an act. He points out that the caste system is what he calls a Rooster Coop, meaning that the roosters could easily fly away instead of being killed, but they just stand and wait their turn. And the Indian servants just take all the poor treatment, poor pay, and complete disrespect without a word. Balram is so different from others because he decides not to settle for the status quo.

Unfortunately, I don't feel like Adiga made Balram very appealing as a protagonist. And his boss Ashok is not so horrible as the antagonist (aside from one really horrible thing he does to Balram). So I didn't necessarily find myself rooting for Balram. But the story is more just a commentary on the status of India, the caste system, the mistreatment of people, the corruption of the government, etc. And it was really interesting to read.

From reading other reviews, I am not sure I loved this as much as other readers did. Maybe I am not the target audience. But it was an enjoyable read, nonetheless.

Monday, December 15, 2008

NEW TRAILER: X-Men Origins: Wolverine

I have really been looking forward to the trailer and subsquent release of X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The rest of the cast really only increased my interest. The first trailer hit the internet today. Watch it now!

This film should do well at the box office given the past success of the X-Men movies, the comic book following, and Hugh Jackman's recent naming as People's Sexiest Man Alive. I was excited to see a good portion of the trailer was devoted to Gambit (Taylor Kitsch) and Sabretooth (Liev Schreiber) and am looking foward to knowing a bit more about him, as well as the other supporing mutants (Ryan Reynolds, who I saw for a brief second, and Dominic Monaghan, who I don't think I saw at all). Can't wait till May for it!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Fave TV Characters

I have recently been inspired to put together a list of my favorite current and recent television characters. I am allowing recent ones because a few of these are a couple of years old and still deserve to be discussed. Maybe after this I will try another "favorites" list because it is fun. Let's get started:

Tami Taylor, Friday Night Lights - I loved her from the moment she came on screen. She tells it like it is and it gets her places (she went from a stay-at-home-mom to high school principal in a couple of years, by way of school counselor and volleyball coach). She loves her husband and girls, but also really cares about her students and invests herself in them. I absolutely adore how she stands up for herself and others (when she tells off the college football recruiter in the grocery store when he is harassing Corinna Williams), and the things she says that "sound" nice but are actually quite rude, very often to Buddy Garrity. Plus, Connie Britton played the emotional mother of a newborn excellently.

Tim Riggins, Friday Night Lights - I couldn't resist a second FNL character on my list. And he is the complete opposite of Tami Taylor. I didn't like Tim all that much during the first season. He seemed like quite a loser, and not too lovable. He grew on me a lot and after re-watching seasons one and two, and getting part-way through season 3, I just love him. You can't help but feeling "poor Tim" just about every other episode. So much of his issues can be blamed on his situation, mainly the fact that he was abandoned by his father and raised by his irresponsible (but well-meaning) brother Billy. It also helps that Taylor Kitsch is just really pretty to look at.

Ned, Pushing Daisies - Like I need another reason to wax poetic about Lee Pace. Sigh. But he plays Ned so sweetly and innocently. And when he is upset (whether it is about his father or Chuck or something else), he seems to play it like a 10 year old with pouting and huffing and puffing. Or a puppy dog, but I hate to mix my comparisons. There is just something so dreamy about Lee Pace and so, therefore, about Ned. I will miss him when he is not on my TV every week.

Dr. Lance Sweets, Bones - I love the dynamic that Dr. Sweets adds to the Booth/Brennan relationship, along with all the other relationships in the Jeffersonian. John Francis Daley plays this character somewhat naive, slightly annoying, and a tad socially awkward. And I think it is perfect. The writers usually have to create (sometimes force, but I am not complaining) specific story lines for Sweets to be involved with the others. I also find it amusing how Booth & Bones will sit in his office and say nothing, seemingly lacking any respect for him whatsoever, but he is slowly becoming the go-to guy for everyone's problems.

Barney Stinson, How I Met Your Mother - Neil Patrick Harris was nominated yesterday for a Golden Globe for his portrayal as Barney. And while I don't think he will ever walk away with the statue, it isn't because he doesn't deserve it. It is because the voters are idiots. I don't know anyone who watches HIMYM that doesn't think that Barney is far and away the most entertaining character on the show. Whether he is suiting up, hooking up, wingmanning it up (just an excuse to continue with the use of "up"), he makes me laugh. And then that he can have serious moments is nice, but, fortunately, not lasting. It is a relief the writers haven't had him constantly pining for Robin this season, and instead have kept him the same lovable womanizing narcissistic jerk.

Dexter Morgan, Dexter - I won't get to watch season 3 of Dexter until it comes out on DVD later this year, so don't spoil anything for me! I wouldn't have thought the writers could make season 2 as good as season 1, but I was pleasantly surprised. In fact, they just might have made it better. Michael C. Hall plays the heck out of this character. It feels wrong to be rooting for a serial killer, but the fact that Hall and the writers can make me do that means he deserves to be on my list. Plus, he isn't too shabby to look at, especially in his "killing" clothes (snug thermal tops and cargo pants).

George Michael Bluth, Arrested Development - Darn that Michael Cera, he had to go off and find success in movies so that Arrested Development, The Movie won't really feel right. I will seriously be disappointed if George Michael isn't in the movie version, whenever it finally happens. But that is because his sweet, innocent, dorky, family-loving, Maeby-lusting self is my favorite character on the show (but it was a rather close four-way race). And let's face it. If Michael Cera hadn't had AD as a major spring board, we wouldn't be seeing him in movies much. He pretty much plays a version of George Michael on everything anyway. And he gets the distinction of being the character that says my favorite line from the whole series (also a close race, between about 1000 different quotes): "What a fun sexy time for you."

Veronica Mars, Veronica Mars - I originally missed the boat on this series. And if you didn't watch it, it seemed like it was probably some kind of cheesy Nancy Drew show on the WB. And I knew a lot of people who loved it fanatically. So I finally gave it a shot this last summer. My preconceptions were all wrong. It was extremely well-written and acted. Kristin Bell played the snarky Veronica to perfection. She had amazing one-liners and at times her vulnerabilities and fears were heartbreaking. It kills me when she is holding a gun to Beaver and says that line, "He killed my father!"

Maxxie, Skins - Skins is a BBC show that has been showing on BBC America recently. It puts other teen dramas like Gossip Girl and 90210 to shame. Maxxie (played by Mitch Hewer) is the least obnoxious to me of all the characters. What really makes me love him so much is how he helped Tony post-accident at the beginning of season 2 when no other friends (mainly Tony & Michelle) were around to help out. Also, he sings, he dances, he acts in school theater, he's adorable, he even has his own stalker. What isn't there to love?

Gaius Baltar, Battlestar Galactica - I don't know what my obsession with Baltar is. I just have one, OK? The fact that James Callis can make me despise this character so much and still care about him tells you how great of an actor his. I wish any of our great BSG actors could get some real recognition from the Emmys, but Callis is one that really seems robbed for being overlooked. His turn this last season as a philosophical/religious leader took him in a new direction, but the same sleazy insecure guy was underneath.

Desmond Hume, Lost - Being that I have recently mentioned that the Lost episode "The Constant" was my favorite TV episode of the year, it would probably come as no surprise that Desmond is my favorite character on the show. His story is still so much a mystery, so that is part of the intrigue, but I really enjoy the Penny/Desmond love story. I am also relieved that Desmond will continue to be part of the story and that we got some good Des/Penny interaction this season.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Time Top 10 Lists

Time Magazine announced its Top Ten Everything of 2008 lists this week. Several of the books, movies, TV, people, etc. are things I have discussed or want to discuss, so I thought I would write a post about it.

TV Episodes:
1) Lost, "The Constant"
2) The Shield, "Family Meeting"
3) The Wire, "Late Editions"
4) In Treatment, "Alex - Week Eight"
5) Breaking Bad, "Pilot"
6) Battlestar Galactica, "Revelations"
7) The Colbert Report, Jan. 22 Episode
8) 30 Rock, "Cooter"
9) Mad Men, "A Night to Remember"
10) You Suck at Photoshop, "Distort, Warp, and Layer Effects"

I decided to write this post upon seeing number one on the TV episodes list. And it was the first item in the first list I looked at. But I was so excited to see "The Constant" on there. It is my favorite episode of the season as well, and my favorite episode of Lost to date. It really made me think, it involved a love story, it was shocking. It was everything I needed to be entertained. Plus, I love me some Desmond.

I'm also happy to see BSG getting some more attention. While the Emmys seem completely blind to the amazingness that is Battlestar Galactica, the rest of the world has taken notice. This show deserves all the credit it gets, and more. And this episode was shocking and tragic. And left us all wondering, "What now?"

I only sort of regret giving up Mad Men halfway through the first season, based on all the hype it continually gets. Maybe I will watch it on DVD some time. In the meantime, my new TV addiction is 30 Rock, and while I haven't seen "Cooter," I think I will carve out sometime to do so, since it is on this list.

TV Series:
1) The Shield
2) Mad Men
3) The Presidential Election
4) Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog
5) The Wire
6) Breaking Bad
7) Lost
8) Battlestar Galactica
9) Architecture School
10) Chuck

Based on the TV Episodes list, I was not surprised to find Lost and Battlestar Galactica on the TV Shows list. Yea! But I was surprised by a couple of other goodies: Dr. Horrible and Chuck! Two of my current faves. Dr. Horrible has done amazingly well, especially given that it is really a web series and not a TV show. And Joss Whedon knows how to create something out of dire circumstances (since the web series was created and executed during the WGA strike). Chuck has been so great this season, and while it may not be getting the viewership it deserves, I am relieved to see it is at least getting some critical praise.

1) Kanye West, Love Lockdown
2) Pink, So What
3) Ida Maria, Oh My God
4) Lil Wayne, A Milli
5) Fleet Foxes, White Winter Hymnal
6) Jonas Brothers, Burnin' Up
7) Beyonce, Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)
8) MGMT, Time to Pretend
9) Duffy, Rockferry
10) Gnarls Barkley, Going On

I can't listen to "Single Ladies" without thinking of those 3 guys dancing to it on SNL. (Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh) But it made it memorable to me and now I kind of enjoy it. Sometimes I tell Sean that if he likes it he should have put a ring on it. He doesn't like it anymore...

I don't like Lil Wayne and haven't heard of a couple of these, but I am glad to see the Jonas Brothers, MGMT and Pink getting a shout out.

Fiction Books
1) 2666, Roberto Bolano
2) Lush Life, Richard Price
3) American Wife, Curtis Sittenfeld
4) Anathem, Neal Stephenson
5) Unaccustomed Earth, Jhumpa Lahiri
6) Personal Days, Ed Park
7) The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows
8) When Will There Be Good News?, Kate Atkinson
9) The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman
10) The Widows of Eastwick, John Updike

I've not read one of these books. But I have had American Wife sitting by my bed for months and hadn't thought anything of it. Now I feel motivated to read it. This list also interested me in The Graveyard Book and When Will There Be Good News? And if I decided to read Anathem, I won't order from like Stella.

2) Synecdoche, New York
3) My Winnipeg
4) 4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days
5) Milk
6) The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
7) Slumdog Millionaire
8) Iron Man
9) Speed Racer
10) Encounters at the End of the World

Is anyone else confused at seeing Speed Racer on this list? Didn't it pretty much get panned by critics and bomb at the box office? I don't know if I would call that the future of cinema. I am not surprised, however, at Iron Man and WALL-E making the list, and am ecstatic at seeing Slumdog MIllionaire continue to get attention. Go see Slumdog Millionaire!!

Best Performances:
1) Kate Winslet, Hannah Schmidtz, The Reader
2) Viola Davis, Mrs. Muller, Doubt
3) Dakota Fanning, Lily Owens, The Secret Life of Bees
4) Kimberly Rivers Roberts, Herself, Trouble the Water
5) Angelina Jolie, Fox, Wanted
1) Heath Ledger, The Joker, The Dark Knight
2) Jean-Claude Van Damme, Jean-Claude Van Damme, JCVD
3) Vlad Ivanov, Mr. Bebe, 4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days
4) Brandon Walters, Nullah, Australia
5) Ben Burtt, WALL-E, WALL-E

When I heard Dakota Fanning would play Lily in The Secret Life of Bees, I was concerned. She is an excellent actress, but this was a more mature part than I had seen her play. I haven't caught the film yet myself, but looks like she did a great job. I teared up at one part just in the trailer.

Heath Ledger gets a spot, of course, as it is deserved. His performance as The Joker was disturbing in various ways. I need to see The Dark Knight again and see if he is as creepy in it the second time around. I'm also intrigued to see Jean-Claude Van Damme take on a different type of role, playing an odd version of himself in JCVD.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Book: Are You Experienced? by William Sutcliffe

This is the first book I have chosen to read that is related to my India trip. My sister recommended it as a quick and fun read. Are You Experienced? is a novel about a young English guy named Dave who feels compelled (by a girl named Liz) to spend the summer before University traveling around India. He really doesn't want to go but Liz convinces him (mainly because he wants to spend time with her). So he commits to three months, and discovers early on that he and Liz pretty much hate each other. Liz gets sucked into the Indian culture (but she is rather pretentious about it, going about in saris and doing what is called "intimate yoga" to find her "centre"). Dave is very cynical and it leads to fighting between them. Eventually, they part ways and Dave is left to travel the country that he despises so much alone.

As an inexperienced traveler, Dave does not know how to handle certain situations (the beggars, the bargaining), and also makes poor decisions (such as eating bad food and getting so sick he gets emaciated). And ultimately he spends a full two months of travelling, trying to get the right "India experience" before he realizes he has been going about it the wrong way. Eventually, he stops avoiding the Indians and begins talking to them and asking about their lives. Basically, he figures out that his adventures won't be what he preconceived, and then he can enjoy himself.

When Dave finally returns home, a place he is desperately excited to get to, he almost immediately realizes that he would like to go back for another visit.

Now I need to discuss how this contributes to my thoughts and considerations for my upcoming trip to India. When Dave starts his trip, he only seems to be enjoying himself when he is stoned. That doesn't bode well, but I figured he would require some time to get over culture shock. He basically gets off the train in Bombay, smells the stench in the air, and hops back on a train to elsewhere. I have heard some pretty bad things about the smell of the air and the smog. I have a few scarves I plan to wear over my nose and mouth in the city. I'll just have to get used to that. The only meal Dave eats that has meat in it makes him terribly sick so he sticks to vegetarian dishes mostly. I like meat! But I can manage. I can't say I wouldn't like to lose a few pounds, but not from dysentery!

That is all the bad stuff, but I also am getting used to city and region names. This helps me to figure out places I want to visit while I am there. I know I want to use the Lonely Planet India guide as it seems to be The Book. Also, now I know not to sit on the back of any buses as I will be sore from bouncing around. In addition, I am now looking forward to the beauty of the country, both lakeside and mountainside. And I plan to let the traveling be as fun as the destinations!

Next on my India reading list: The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Quantum of Solace

I wasn't too keen on seeing the new Bond film as I had not heard great things. I happened to catch Casino Royale on TV over the holiday, and I was reminded of how much I enjoyed that movie AND how much I really like Daniel Craig as James Bond. He loses a level of cheesy that was very present with Pierce Brosnan (in my opinion, of course).

Quantum of Solace was a bit too much of a regular James Bond story for me. It wasn't as bad as I had heard. Apparently, some people had much higher expectations than I did. But it certainly didn't tug at the heartstrings like Casino Royale did. And the whole reason I loved that one so much was because it made him relatable. And then he kind of lost that quality in this one.

What I did enjoy was seeing Daniel Craig some more. I just really like him in this character. I was also happy to see Mathieu Amalric from The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. I had been interested in seeing him in a different type of role.

Anyway, I say it is probably a renter, for anyone interested.

Monday, December 01, 2008

My Vampire Weekend: Twilight

Well, I did it. I went on opening night to see Twilight. I braved the crowds of screaming girls (again), waited in line for more than 45 minutes to get into the theater, sat with bated breath for the darned previews to finish up, and then felt giddy glee when, as the movie finally started, a high pitched group of screams sounded throughout the theater. We laughed heartily at the screams, and soon discovered that we would hear these screams EVERY time Edward appeared on screen. Or Jacob. Or Carlisle. Or the rest of the Cullens. Or James. Or even Charlie. Most surprising was that I didn't mind. It kind of made this a different movie-going experience and I genuinely felt like a 13 year old fangirl again.

So the experience of going to see this was fun and different, but how was the actual movie? That is the tricky part for me. I have read all of the Twilight series. I tend to have a hard time keeping books and movies based on them separate. I fill in too much of the story in my head. So I am not sure if this movie will be satisfying to many die-hard fans of the book. I am really not sure those who haven't read the book will like it. I can say it was fun to watch. But I don't know about the quality so much...

Kristin Stewart and Rob Pattinson were great and so perfectly cast. Except for a couple of actors, I was pretty happy with who was cast for each role. They could have toned down the cheesy coolness that is Emmett (I really hated when he was standing in the Jeep...). There were parts that could have been better (did anyone else think that Edward's sparkling in the meadow looked more like he was just really sweaty?).

OK, I confess that I went on a week's vacation for Thanksgiving in the very middle of writing my review and I have lost all my flow... So I will just say that I enjoyed this movie-going experience and seeing how Catherine Hardwick translated it to screen, but I was missing a few things too. I am curious to see how the movies progress, as each book brings in new complications, both story-wise and filming-wise...

Monday, November 24, 2008

Friday Night Lights - My thoughts

I haven't said blogged much, or any, about this season of FNL because most people can't watch it until the spring when it will air on NBC. But Wednesday's episode moved me to tears. And it wasn't anything major. Just the same old reason I love this show. And that is the relationships. While we got to see a good bit of Tami & Eric, Cash and Tyra, Matt & Julie, but the highlight of this episode was the sweet and supportive Riggins/Street relationship. In an episode where Street finally says goodbye to Dillon, we are reminded of his "never stop fighting" spirit. Also, it is revealed that Riggins really enjoys a good musical theater outing, dragging Street to a performance of Gypsy (which he is convinced will be good based solely on the fact that it has strippers in it). And while Riggins and Street can't honestly say "Texas Forever" they can say "Friends Forever" and really mean it. And kudos to Scott Porter and Taylor Kitsch for acting the heck out of their scenes.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Quick Thursday Night TV Tidbits

The new LOST/The Fray music video. Check it out here for some very cryptic snippets of Season 5.

I just caught the final 20 minutes of tonight's episode of Survivor. I haven't been watching this season, but that tribal council had one of the dirtiest moves I have ever seen. One contestant made a deal with and gave his hidden immunity idol to another contestant. Come to find out, he gave him a FAKE idol. Ouch. The guy got up to use the idol and it was just horrid to watch.

So Pam is back in the Office, and, much to Michael's dismay and surprise, so is Toby. I thought Ryan was really funny tonight, and enjoyed when Pam told him the reason they had a temp was to clean out the microwave. But it reminded me that when this series started, Ryan was supposed to be a very normal, what-am-I-doing-in-a-place-like-this guy. And now he is ridiculous. He cracks me up, but I miss when he actually had a reason to believe he is too good for Michael. Now I think Michael has a reason to believe he is better than Ryan. I loved that the writers/actors made it genuinely feel like Pam would hate the house (that clown painting!) and that she loved it so much. The art studio was so sweet. I am glad Toby is back, even if Michael isn't.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

India or Bust...

So I am headed to Mumbai, India (fka Bombay) in January for about 10 weeks. I am excited/anxious about absorbing the culture, trying new things, and seeing some amazing places. In preparation, I am looking at some films, documentaries, books, etc. that might prepare me and/or educate me before I go. I've had the following suggested to me lately.

My sister Julie recommended the 1989 film Salaam Bombay about a boy forced to survive on his own in the slums of Bombay.

Matt recommended I read A Son of the Circus by John Irving, which is very timely as I have been wanting to read Irving for a while.

I picked up Born into Brothels, an honest look at child prostitution in India.

I also recently saw Danny Boyle's new film, Slumdog Millionaire.

What else might you recommend? Let me know and I can add it to my list!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Chuck vs. the Fat Lady

Let me talk Chuck for a second because last night was a great installment. Poor Chuck just can't catch a break in love. On one hand, he has lots more ladies fawning over him since he is basically a spy, but on the other hand, he sure does it screwed over a lot in the love department.

Jill helps Chuck help Sarah and Casey to save the day, and Chuck really wins over the girl. So much so that they decide to run away together (at which point Chuck says, "Safe at last."), just in time for Sarah and Casey to discover that Jill is Fulcrum. NO!

Favorite moments from tonight's episode:

"I have heard the loading dock is like a Five for Fighting concert. So fierce." Said by Emmett (Tony Hale) when he is trying to get Chuck and Morgan to fess up to a pot-smoking secret.

"I don't even care about my own feelings, Bartowski." Said by Casey (Adam Baldwin) when Chuck tries to discuss his feelings with him.

When the secret coded box requires a musical high C, Chuck says, "Where is a pitch pipe when you need one?" This is followed immediately by Casey busting out a high C and the proceeding confession that Casey was a choir boy (not hatched from an egg).
By the way, I checked and this was not a high C. It was an E. Yeah, I am a nerd.

"Nerd code!" Said by Casey after Chuck and Jill plan a meeting using all scientific jargon.

Emmett joins the poker table and brings along a Fuzzy Navel wine cooler that apparently "tastes like high school." It also tastes like high school coming back up, as Emmett can't hold his liquor (or 2 bottles of wine cooler).

Morgan protects Chuck even when he discovers Chuck is a lying cheater. I am enjoying their friendship lately.

LA Twilight Premiere

With only a slight sense of shame, I braved the crowds in Westwood last night for the LA Twilight premiere. While I heard that people spent a couple of nights camped out for great seats, I arrived after the mayhem started. So I can at least claim SOME sense of dignity. As a result, I missed seeing Taylor Lautner (Jacob Black) and Cam Gigandet (James). But there were no shortage of Twilight-star sightings. Here is who I managed to see:

Robert Pattinson (Edward)
Kristen Stewart (Bella)
Peter Facinelli (Carlisle) with wife Jenny Garth
Kellan Lutz (Emmett)
Nikki Reed (Rosalie)
Rachelle Lafevre (Victoria)
Billy Burke (Charlie)

I got some absolutely TERRIBLE quality photos of some of the stars (Rob Pattinson, Peter Facinelli and Jenny Garth, Nikki Reed), but they are proof I was there, at least... I am not posting any because they are terrible, so here is a professional one instead.

By time Rob Pattinson showed up, we just wanted a glimpse and then left because I was literally being climbed by 13 year old girls who were so short that they could see nothing. I was covered in sweat from being in a mosh pit of teens.

We hit up Corner Bakery, which tastily topped off the experience. However, I am not sure I need to do that again...

Friday, November 14, 2008

Movie: Slumdog Millionaire

Tuesday night, we had the opportunity to catch a free screening of Slumdog Millionaire, the latest film from director Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, 28 Days Later), based on the novel Q & A by Vikas Swarup. Unfortunately, I got there late and sat in the second row. But that did not take away from my enjoyment of seeing this one in the theater.

Written by Simon Beaufoy (The Full Monty, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day), Slumdog Millionaire is the story of a young man named Jamal Malik (Dev Patel, Skins) who goes on the Indian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? However, he performs so well on the show that he is arrested before the final question. It is unheard of for anyone to do so well at all, let alone for an uneducated boy from the slums of Mumbai. Through flashbacks, we are told Jamal's story of being homeless, pickpocketing and scamming tourists for money and food. On top of the action of the coming-of-age story, and the excitement of the game show plot, this film is steeped in romance as Jamal finds and loses his love Latika multiple times over the course of their youth. Through everything, he continues to look for her.

Patel was great as the grown Jamal. I had seen him in Skins, and while I liked him as Anwar, his role in this film is so much more gritty and required a great deal more acting skill. The audience clapped for him during the credits. I also enjoyed the performance by Irfan Khan (whom I recognized from The Namesake) as the detective.

On top of the story and acting, the color, the Indian music with heavy beats, the culture, and the editing made this a pleasing film to see. I can't say enough good things about it. One fun thing about seeing movies in Los Angeles is that people clap at the end of movies. They don't do that in Texas. This one garnered some heavy applause.

[Side note: I am heading to Mumbai for several months in 2009, and I am not sure if seeing this made me feel confident about going, but I doubt it will be the same for me.]

Check out the trailer below:

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Firefly & Serenity

I'll just place a big SPOILER ALERT here at the beginning.

I became a fan of Joss Whedon in 2001 when I did a two-episode-a-day catch-up with Buffy the Vampire Slayer when it was in syndication on FX. I then jumped on board with the final two seasons when they aired. A few years later, I did something similar with Angel. Most recently, I watched Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog online (as well as purchased it on itunes). Needless to say, he won me over but I never quite found enough interest in his ill-fated Fox series Firefly. The content didn't appeal to me much, I guess. But after several random recommendations lately, I discovered it at the library and picked it up. Here are my thoughts:

I can't say I was immediately sucked into Firefly, but over the course of the series, I grew to care about the characters and had hopes for the storyline. The idea of The Wild West mixed with a little outer space, sprinkled with a smidge of pirates is not one I would have come up with on my own. Leave it to the mind of Joss Whedon to come up with something so odd. But it worked. The main planets were much more advanced by way of technology, and then less-inhabited moons might as well have had tumbleweeds blowing by. Historically, it all kind of made sense.

Captain Malcolm Reynolds, played by Nathan Fillion, was an interesting mix of pragmatism and sensitivity. He really cared about his crew and would risk his life for them, but he would also risk their lives if it was the right thing to do. He could be a jerk but you forgave him that because he had a lot of heart. Similarly to Buffy, he made a lot of snarky Whedon-y remarks in the face of danger.

Summer Glau redeemed herself as I didn't like her much from Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (not really her fault as she is playing an emotion-less terminator, but her character just leaves me so cold). River is an enigma and I enjoyed watching her story unfold. River's brother Simon (played by Sean Maher) brought an interesting dynamic to Serenity as an uptight, highly educated, high-strung doctor.

Wash (Alan Tudyk) and Zoe (Gina Torres) didn't make a lot of sense to me as a couple. But they grew on me, and I guess the whole point was how different they were. Wash has some great comedic moments and is very likable.

I kept waiting for Jayne (Adam Baldwin) to show some sort of positive characteristics, or to have some sort of redeeming moment. His best moment was in "Jaynestown" but even then, I was left wanting a little more from him. But granted, we were only given fourteen episodes, and given Jayne's past, that is a quick redemption.

The cast was just well-rounded and really worked well together. You can tell they really enjoyed working together.

My favorite episodes were "Our Mrs. Reynolds" (Christina Hendricks of Mad Men played the heck out of Saffron, and I was taken completely by surprise when she revealed her true self; the episode was quite goofy), "Out of Gas" (Mal basically decides to go down with this ship, but not before kicking some butt, which ultimately leads to him saving the day), and "War Stories" (I have always enjoyed when side characters get sucked into the battles (see Marshall spying it up on certain eps of Alias) and no one thought twice about taking a gun and going after Mal and Wash).

Given that the feature film had a bigger budget (not huge, but bigger), Whedon had a while to work on the script, the story had to be good enough to haul people out to the theater, the actors were so glad to be back to work on Firefly, and especially that FOX was not releasing the film, I found Serenity to be very entertaining, and enjoyed it more than the series itself.

There were great action sequences, some real progression in the story line (especially with River). River got to kick some major butt, and it was shot really beautifully, kind of like a dance (I understand Summer Glau is trained dancer). Chiwetel Ejiofor was great as the operative without a name. He is just the guy that gets it done. Er... most of the time, anyway. Might I mention that Nathan Fillion looked more handsome in Serenity? Perhaps, it was the new hair, or the couple of years aging in between. Whedon never shies away from killing his main characters, both to keep viewers on their toes and to be realistic. The death of Shepherd Book was harsh, but as soon as I saw the ravaged haven, I thought it was a possibility. However, the death of Wash was unexpected and really sad, especially as he had just saved the day!

All in all, I enjoyed the series and feature film. It did not catch my attention when the shows were originally airing, but now that I know the story, characters, etc. I would be very interested to see where else things could be taken (a new movie would be great!).

Monday, November 10, 2008

Chuck vs The Ex

I can't resist blogging about Chuck. It is one of my favorite shows right now. Zach Levi plays Chuck in a way that I can't resist watching. And loving it. He's cute but he is, I mean. He is really smart but not good with ladies (or at least he doesn't think he is).

Tonight's episode was really fun as it added a new layer to the already confusing relationship between Sarah and Chuck: Jill, Chuck's ex-girlfriend from his Stanford years (yeah, the one that cheated on him with Bryce Larkin). She shows up in town and Chuck flashes on her boss, which requires him to take her on a date to probe her for information. The date goes horribly wrong and leads Chuck to grovelling, eventually confessing to being CIA, and helping to save the day (and prove his manliness).

Jordana Brewster plays Jill, and the two have great chemistry. And while it would be mean of Sarah to deny Chuck some romance in a real relationship, it is certainly clear that she is hurting watching their relationship play out.

Jill is not the only one that got to smooch Chuck tonight. When trying to save the day, Chuck believes that an antidote in his system would be transferred to others via saliva. So he gives an ailing Casey a nice big smooch on the mouth. This was absolutely cracking me up, about as much as Casey wearing that getup in the restaurant. I should mention that I literally finished watching Serenity 5 minutes before Chuck started tonight, and the thought of Jayne in such a position was more than amusing.

Back at the Buy More, Big Mike chokes on a donut and the associates are required by Emmett to complete a life-saving training course, conducted by none other than Awesome! It was a fun use of the Buy More crew and an interesting way of bringing Awesome into contact with some characters he doesn't normally interact with.

This was a great episode, and I can't wait till next week when Chuck will seemingly choose Jill over Sarah, Casey, the NSA & CIA, and the Intersect altogether. I love this show!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Extra Extra!

In an effort to blog more often (and the reason behind my lack of blog posts lately being my new job), I am now going to whip up a quick post about my newest venture in employment. I have recently been working as a background actor, aka an extra. Most people do background work to break into acting. However, my main purpose was to have flexibility, a little spending money, and to do something fun. It has been a treat working on TV sets of shows I enjoy and meeting lots of fun and different people.

Today, I hit the mother lode as far as star-watching is concerned. Let me preface this by saying that, when you work a show, it isn't quite as exciting to see the actors from that show because you know they are going to be there. However, guest stars and other surprises like that are always fun for me because they take me by surprise. My friend Amy saw Harrison Ford last weekend and we decided that may be the "best" celeb-spotting either of us has done. I would like to challenge her Harrison Ford and raise her a Clint Eastwood. Yes, Clint Eastwood was driving a golf cart around the Warner Brothers lot today willy-nilly, and he managed to cut through the area where we were shooting Without A Trace. Twice. It was all very exciting. He seemed like a cool, laid-back dude (well, what I saw of him driving by, anyway)

In addition, today provided me with a glimpse of Angela Bassett (on the lot for ER), David Arquette (sitting in his trailer waiting to film Pushing Daisies), and my personal favorite: Lee Pace.

When I discovered we were shooting RIGHT next to Pushing Daisies, I made it my goal to hunt down Lee Pace. I took a very long, out-of-the-way route to the bathroom (making dumb excuses for my path to anyone who noticed). Lo and behold, I was parked in my car waiting to "drive through the streets of New York" when I saw Lee walking to his car in a nearby parking lot, laughing heartily with the person he walked with, and hunched over just a smidge. It was quite adorable. If you need a reminder of my love for all things Lee Pace, look back at my review of Miss Pettigrew...

My extra jobs have provided good discussion topics and it is really enjoyable to see how the "business" works. How long everything takes mainly.

Now, I woke up at 3:30 this morning to get to set at 5 am, so I am headed to bed now. More scoop to come as I get any. ;)

Sunday, November 02, 2008

The Spring Has Sprung

So, I FINALLY caught a production of Spring Awakening last night. It was on its fourth night touring through Los Angeles. I have regretted not catching it (and, now, probably never having the chance to) on Broadway, seeing all the rave reviews I have read (mostly from Vance, every time he went to see it...). So it was a joy to see it for the first time.

I have had the original cast recording for about a year now, so I knew all the music. I also already knew the story. So I wondered how much I couldn't just piece together without ever taking a step into the theater. Luckily for me, I needed to see it in person to experience it (it was too bad I experienced it in such a large theater, and sitting in the very back (I was dizzy when I first walked to my seat)). I'm sure I would have enjoyed it more if I had not been straining to see, but I managed alright.

It is unfair to compare the cast I saw last night to the one on the recording, because I never really saw them perform it. So I will try to be unbiased in that manner. Let's start with Kyle Riabko (Melchior), who seemed to carry the show, both with his voice and his acting skills. I think his singing/acting/choreo actually changed my mind on a couple of songs I wasn't crazy about before. Christy Altomare, playing Wendla, was the hardest not to compare to her OBC counterpart, Lea Michelle. She sang much more even and pronounced on her songs, so it sounded very different. But she had a beautiful voice and played the naive innocence of Wendla very well. Blake Bashoff (who I recognized as Carl (RIP) from LOST) was quirky and dramatic as Moritz, bringing lots of giggles from the audience. I especially enjoyed him in And Then There Were None and Don't Do Sadness.

As for the rest of the cast, the standouts for me were Sarah Hunt (Martha), Steffi D (Ilse), and Andy Mientus and Ben Moss (Hanschen and Ernst, respectively). The latter two had the crowd in stitches during The Word of Your Body reprise.

I was also thoroughly amused watching the conductor/keyboardist. He was absolutely jamming. He probably does it in part because he has to play the piano and conduct the rest of the band at the same time, so it is a good way to keep the beat for everyone. But it was hysterical and brought a good energy to all the music. I found I looked at him often.

As for songs, I mentioned above that, after seeing the show in person, there are different songs that stand out than the ones I would have picked off the recording. The choreography, blocking, acting, and lighting that took place during some songs made them so much more entertaining to see in person. Examples of this are The Bitch of Living (full of energy), The Mirror-Blue Night (Riabko on that last note just killed me), and Totally F***ed (made me want to stand up and jump around).

I won't say too much of the story in case someone wants to see it and I spoil it. But I left feeling like I had been wrung out like a rag. It is a stick-with-you kind of show. And it is not for everyone. Maybe one or two people in my family would enjoy it at all. I know for the LA production that there are still tickets available. The theater is large and wasn't sold out. Also, I think you can get same day Hot Tix through Center Theatre Group.

[Perhaps my sight should have a disclaimer that there aren't many shows I don't enjoy, and just the energy and experience of live theater always counts for something! Having said that, I think Spring Awakening is worthy of a great review.]

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Songs of My Childhood

I have been working 2-3 days a week and my post-load has really dropped! Fortunately, I don't have that many readers, so not many people rely on me for entertainment...

I have managed to hear several of my favorite songs from early childhood on the radio lately. It inspired me to write this post of my early faves, and to date myself very obviously. In addition, I noticed how much I loved songs with harmonies even from a very young age.

Angel by Aerosmith (1988)

I actually remember singing this at the lunch table with Ashley Brakebill. This was the very first song that I knew all the words to (that weren't on my Psalty tapes). I loved Steven Tyler's "A-ee-a-ee-a-ee-an-gel."

More Than Words - Extreme (1990)
This one is a bit later when I was already 11. About this time I was jammin' in my sister's car to Vanilla Ice and MC Hammer, but this one is one that really stuck with me. I also remember seeing the video (the only video on this list I have ever seen).

Glory of Love - Peter Cetera (1987)

Who doesn't love a man that would fight for your honor. Apparently, I loved that kind of man even when I was 8. It probably helped that this song was in The Karate Kid, Part II... The Peter Cetara parts of that video are AMAZING! :)

Can't Fight This Feeling - REO Speedwagon (1984)

I don't remember when this song caught my ear, as I am sure it was not when I was five years old. But it was one I loved for years (still good!). This was a WEIRD video for 1984...

What songs from your childhood really stuck with you to adulthood?

Book: Stephenie Meyer's The Host

I just finished Stephenie Meyer's latest non-Twilight series novel called The Host. This also happens to be her first book written for adults. I waited a couple of months for this one from the library, as Meyer's popularity has grown so much lately that there were about 100 people in queue for it.

The facts are these (said in Pushing Daisies voice over style): The book takes place in the present where the earth has been invaded by a group of aliens (called Souls) that attach themselves as parasites to human hosts, thereby drowning out each person's true soul and taking over his or her life, including memories. There also exists a gang of still-human rebels, hiding in caves in Arizona. Melanie Stryder is a human that has been invaded by a soul, but Melanie herself finds that she can fight back from within. As a result, Melanie and her parasite (Wanda) team up to locate the rebels, and take refuge there. Yeah, it sounds really strange and I am not doing the best job of explaining it. I think I just confused myself...

It was a little hard to get into. But Meyer certainly thinks through all the details of the worlds she creates for her books. I find that often I can predict where things are going, and I managed that a couple of hundred pages before the end of the book, but I was entertained nonetheless. However, don't automatically assume you will like The Host just because you are a Twilight fan. She managed something pretty special with the Bella/Edward relationship that she won't be replicating any time soon.

In addition, I was as annoyed with Wanda as I was with Bella for being so dumb in drawing realistic conclusions. I realize certain things are written to make things not quite so obvious, but if the reader can guess things to come and you characters are supposed to be intelligent, then you would assume they could come to reasonable conclusions, too. But that is forgivable.

I enjoyed Meyer's creation of a fictional earth and alien invasion. But if you have a laundry list of books you are trying to read, make it Twilight before you make it The Host.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Chuck versus the Cougars

The name might imply that Chuck is having a relationship with some much older women (didn't we see that a couple of weeks ago with Julie Cooper-Nichol?), but in reality the Cougars are the mascot from Sarah's high school in San Diego. In this episode, the audience, but more importantly Chuck, gets a glimpse into the elusive past of Sarah Walker. Turns out Sarah was not the cool girl in high school that she is now. In fact, her name was Jenny Burton and she had braces, bad skin, and bad hair (actually, a pretty bad wig, if you ask me). And still unbeknownst to Chuck, her father was arrested in front of her eyes and taken to prison.

The most important aspect of this episode is the reminder that Chuck really knows nothing about Sarah's past and how she came to be who she is. But that matters not to Chuckles (as Anna calls him) since he feels he knows her very well now, and that is enough.

In other news, in case you possibly missed it, Nicole Richie guested in this episode as the popular high school cheerleader AKA Jenny Burton's nemesis, as well as an associate of the Russian mob. Cue wet girl fight. And Jenny kicks her butt.

With all the attention paid to Nicole Richie (who did a good job, I might add), it was regrettably not mentioned ANYWHERE that Ben Savage (Cory Matthews from Boy Meets World) also guest stars in this episode. It was great to see him as I had wondered what he was up to lately. And he was the lovable nerd, who found a hero in Chuck.

Casey allows Chuck to take a bunch of the credit as he is posing as Special Agent Charles Carmichael to Savage's nerdy genius. It wasn't required of Casey to make him look like the hero, and it was rather endearing.

In the side-plot, the Buy More is left in Lester's charge, and, with much ado, he resigns his post. It was the least interesting part of the episode.

My favorite part of this episode was the mention of the DJ at the high school reunion, where we look up to find that John Casey is up in the DJ booth, throwing his arms side to side, jamming with the crowd. Classic!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Movie: Iron Man

I am generally a fan of the comic book/superhero movies. I have managed to skip a few (Fantastic Four and the first Hulk come to mind), but of course this summer has produced a number of box office successes in the form of superheroes straight from the comics. With Iron Man, I have now seen two of the three on my list (I've seen The Dark Knight but not The Incredible Hulk (yet)).

I had high expectations from Iron Man as it was a critical success (critics gave it a 93% on the site, made a large amount of money worldwide (so far about $574 million), and had been recommended by a handful of people I associate with (see Emily's review here). I think I would have enjoyed it more had I seen it in the theater instead of watching it at home on my pitiful excuse for a television. But I still enjoyed it greatly.

First off, I realize it is "beating a dead horse" or "preaching to the choir" or one of those fun cliches, but let me reiterate what I have said a couple of other times in my blog posts: I really love Robert Downey, Jr. (See this, this or this to see my previous RDJ accolades). He is the opposite of who I would have expected to be cast as Tony Stark. And it turned out to be a casting move (and points out how I should never be allowed to cast anything). I also enjoyed Gwyneth Paltrow playing a role a little different than her usual (she has been off my radar lately, though) and Terrence Howard.

What is it with Jeff Bridges that he just seems to annoy me more than anything else. I knew immediately his character was the "bad guy" and wasn't very interested in him. He is just a turn-off to me when I find out he is in a film I was looking forward to. I didn't think he took away from anything in Iron Man, but I would have liked to see someone else with the role and what they could do with it.

The script, execution of the story and CGI were all outstanding. Jon Favreau did an excellent job adapting this for a feature length action movie and directing it. The effects weren't cheesy and were rather realistic-looking.

Unless you just hate action and/or superhero movies, I recommend this to anyone now that it is available for rental.

Next on the list: Before the Devil Knows You're Dead

A Baby Shower at The Office

I have read several complaints about last night's episode of The Office. That it is the worst of the season, or perhaps the series. I have to disagree. This show often deals with the hard things in life, and while they are often successful at making it funny, sometimes it just has to be kind of sad. This wasn't a painful episode for me (such as Phyllis' wedding or the dinner party, which made me cringe). Episodes like Baby Shower remind me that, while Michael is a complete idiot and total social disaster, he means well and you want something good for him. More specifically, you want Holly for him. This week he finally fought his way out from under Jan's thumb and did something he wanted for himself by asking Holly out. And it was a genuinely sweet scene with that hug. Especially after he had been so awful to her the entire episode (needlessly, it seems, as Jan had him figured out anyway). I just wish Amy Ryan was a series regular and not a special guest star. Let's cross our fingers on that one...

The Jim/Pam scenes just reiterated that they don't have the fairy tale perfect relationship. They have to work at it and have off days like the rest of us. I don't see this going in a bad direction.

The Dwight stuff was a bit OTT, but not the most annoying for Dwight. Plus, we got to learn that Dwight performed his own circumcision growing up...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Weekend DVD Review

OK, I realize it is really late to be posting something about my weekend. But I have been busy and I am just getting this posted on a Wednesday.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly - I had heard of this movie and was curious. However, it is in French and has subtitles, and I was having a hard time selling my husband on it. I added it to my movie queue anyway, and just watched it by myself. I am very glad I did. I was impressed with both the way this film was shot and edited, as well as the tragic but inspiring story that it portrays. In case you aren't familiar, this is the true story of a successful magazine editor who is completely paralyzed in a car accident. The only part of his body that works (besides his brain) is one eye. Through this eye he not only learns to communicate with his family and caretakers, but decides to write a book, which then gets published. This was a touching story and also greatly intriguing. Check it out.

Charlie Wilson's War - I didn't expect to enjoy this movie. Hollywood always makes bold and heavy political statements with its movies, especially ones that are about politicians. With the heavy stuff we have dealt with lately in this country (I write this while watching the 3rd presidential debate), I just wasn't in the mood. But I was pleasantly surprised that I didn't feel that there was an agenda with this one. Just a story that should be told. A man who wasn't always the most moral finds a cause and invests years of his life (along with several other politicians and citizens and a billion dollars) for what he feels is right. I really enjoyed it. Did I mention I will see pretty much anything that Phillip Seymour Hoffman is in?

The Darjeeling Limited - Wes Anderson does not automatically mean an enjoyable movie for me. I like Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums. I didn't prefer The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. The Darjeeling Limited falls on the side of The Royal Tenenbaums. Anderson writes some very strange relationships, especially among families. Darjeeling tells the story of 3 brothers who reunite in India after a year of not speaking. They meet some odd characters and experience some strange events, both funny and very sad. Anderson favorites Owen Wilson and Jason Schwartzman join Adrien Brody. The three were good together and just goofy enough to pull off this odd plot. I wouldn't buy this DVD or anything, but I might watch it again if it were on TV. And I enjoyed it especially since I have a trip to India coming up myself!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Monday Night TV Review

My posting has been super slow lately as I have been pretty busy lately. And haven't had too much interesting to discuss. But here it is Monday again, and that leads me to wanna chat about Chuck, among other things.

Chuck - Have I mentioned I am glad to have Chuck back? I think I have. A few times. The appearance of Bryce Larkin sure throws a wrench in Chuck's plans for love. It is clear to everyone that Sarah is as into Chuck as he is into her. But the writers continue to create very valid reasons they shouldn't be together anyway. Before, it was because of their professional relationship. Then, in this episode, it was because her feelings for him would affect her ability to protect him (as seen when she didn't shoot the bad guy!). But tonight, they add a new reason. Even when Chuck is no longer the intersect, he can never fully know Sarah (her name, her background, her location...) because she is a freakin' spy! My solution: Chuck has to really become a spy. And after Bryce left him those sunglasses with an Intersect update in them, he may not have a choice. (Does anyone else think it strange that someone is capable of putting all this information together FOR Chuck but can't put it somewhere else, so Chuck wouldn't have to be the Intersect anymore?)

The side stories were fine. I don't mind Morgan as much as the next guy. It wasn't nearly as entertaining as the rest of the episode. I loved the concern Awesome showed by giving Bryce a painful cleaning and bandaging. And I also love that Sarah is now a bridesmaid in the wedding! Fun times...

Heroes - I watched this episode SOLELY for David Anders. Sigh... No real comment to make on the episode. It wasn't quite as cheesy as the last two, so I will give them that... (I think it is because we didn't go into the future). I thought it was funny how quickly Ando and Hiro lost Adam. Oops!

How I Met Your Mother - Barney's dumb attempts to get women never fail to amuse me. I loved his dressing as a woman last week to get a lesbian. This week he dresses as an 80 year old man to prove that he will still be as AWESOME in 50 years as he is today (I think he will be, too, but maybe not in the same way). In the meantime, the episode focused on the interventions the gangs have planned over the years: Marshall's tall Dr. Seuss hat, Lily's English accent (I found this especially amusing as it seemed to be a throw back to her husband's portrayal of a Brit in Buffy/Angel), Robin's spray tans, Barney's magic tricks, Ted's pronunciation, Barney's old man suit, and then, of course, the now necessary intervention for the gang's interventions. After Ted realized the gang was going to have an intervention about his relationship with Stella, he decides not to move out of his apartment (followed by Marshall and Lily deciding to stay, and Robin deciding not to go to Japan). Change is scary ya'll! But of course it is Barney and his "arthritis five" (hysterical) that makes everyone realize they don't need to be the same person in 50 years that they are now. It was a fun episode. Was anyone else looking for big clues to what was going on in one year from now? I love when they do that. We also find out in this episode that Barney has been diagnosed as a narcissist with severe detachment disorder. Let's laugh at his psychological problems!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Oh TV, How I Have Missed You

I haven't had a chance to mention it, but I am so happy that fall TV is officially back. Here are the returning series I have been so glad to have back:

Chuck - I am so glad to have have Zach Levi and the gang back on my television on a weekly basis. I adore Chuck, Sarah, and Casey. I have missed their spy-hijinks. It is a relief to see the writers "went there" with the relationship of Chuck and Sarah. It is more of a Sydney/Vaughan thing (we want to be together but can't) instead of the all-too-common "we just don't want to admit it" thing.

The Office - I forget how much I miss The Office when it isn't on. I was looking forward to its return, but wasn't ecstatic. But now that we are one episode in, I am back to full fan level. I absolutely adore Holly and wish she could stay forever. I knew Ryan would be coming back to the office. I figured Michael would jump at the chance of having him back as a temp. And I didn't see that proposal coming at all.

Pushing Daisies - Ned, Chuck & and the gang apparently didn't get very good ratings this last week. I feel I contributed to the drop in viewership, as I missed it Wednesday and had to watch it online on Thursday. However, I am back full swing. This show is not only really pretty to watch, it is fun and well-thought out. Watch this show!

Bones - I quit watching Bones last year about 6 or 7 episodes before the season ended. But one night, a couple of weeks ago, when Sean was out at the Karaoke bar with his friends, I decided to watch it and I was completely enamored. I so enjoy the Bones/Brennan interactions, and I also really like (most) of the employees of the Jeffersonian. I am not a big Cam fan, but I adore Sweets. Love his every scene.

Shows I am not as excited about:

Heroes - I haven't even tried to watch it. I missed the first episode, and based on my husband's brief synopsis, I opted out. The opinions I have heard and read elsewhere only confirm I made the right decision. Perhaps I can find a site online that compiles only the scenes with David Anders.

Dancing with the Stars - I always get sucked into this show, mainly because I am curious and then can not let go. This year, I haven't had that problem. I don't feel like I am missing out. There were only two reasons I would have watched anyway: Maks (and he is now out...) and Lacey Schwimmer (but only to support my SYTYCD peeps!).

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Movie Catch Up

My posts on books has slowed down as my movie-watching has increased. I have watched a number of movies lately as I have realized I can find almost anything pretty handily at the local library branch. Here is what I have managed to watch:

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day - I really like Amy Adams, especially after Enchanted. I also think Frances McDormand is great, and was really convincing in this role. The movie was set in the 30s and I loved the "period"-ness about it. But, really, I must admit that it was Lee Pace (Pushing Daisies) that made this movie for me. Lee Pace + unshaven face + British accent + passionate musician = Delicious. And on top of all that, he sings! And I love him. Okay, have I gone on too much? This was an unusual, but rather likable film. Check it out (for more reasons than just Lee Pace. No, seriously...).

Savages - I love Phillip Seymour Hoffman. He never fails me as an actor. He always brings it all to the table. Savages is no exception. Pair him up with the always-great Laura Linney, and you have a serious amount of acting chops on screen. The question, then, would be whether the story is of equal quality. While the subject matter was dark (dealing with a dying and dementia-ridden father), the characters were quirky enough to be humorous, while bringing a good deal of emotion to the screen. They played off of each other so well and my favorite scenes were between the brother and sister. I say definitely give this one a watch.

The Bank Job - Based on a true story, I was hoping this heist flick would be really entertaining. Instead, I found it a bit slow. True stories often don't entertain to the level of a fiction work (think Oceans 11 or The Italian Job). Most of the cast was amusing, but the movie just didn't hold my attention. At one point, even though I had been watching the screen the entire time, I had to make my husband tell me what was going on because I just hadn't been paying much attention. There are better movies out there. Of course, if you just want to see Jason Statham in his 70s get-ups, give it a watch...

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants - My 18 year old sister insisted I watch this. I really enjoyed it and sat on my couch alone and cried. There were really contrived parts of the story and some of it ended up too perfectly, but there were parts that also ended up a little gritty like real life does sometimes. I was annoyed at Blake Lively's character for being skanky, but you come to understand why and feel a bit sorry for her. I like all four of these girls and it was fun to watch. I'll have to add Sisterhood 2 to my online queue.

Sweeney Todd - I had already seen Sweeney Todd in the theater, but thought it would be fun to watch again. It was dark and dirty and strangely amusing. Johnny Depp seems to really inhabit all of his characters to the fullest. If you plan to watch, be prepared for some gross scenes.

December Boys - In his first non-Harry Potter theater release, Daniel Radcliffe plays one of four orphan boys that go on a trip to the coast. While there, they encounter several different people that affect their lives. Most importantly, they overhear a couple say they have decided to adopt one of the boys. After this, the relationship among the boys is strained as they try to win over the potential mom and dad. This was a rather small film, not widely released in the US. The friendship among the boys is the central story and the most meaningful. I thought it was sweet, but it seemed like I had seen it all before.

In Bruges - Strangely enough, this was a comedy, but I didn't know that. It was a dark comedy as it deals with death in a dark way. A hit man (Colin Farrell) accidentally kills the wrong person and he is sent away, accompanied by another hit man (Brendan Gleeson), who serves as his babysitter. They go to Bruges, Belgium to hide out until the fallout has cleared. As they come into contact with other characters in town, their time in Bruges takes some interesting turns. While this movie isn't amazing, there was some really funny stuff in it.

Extras: The Extra Special Series Finale - We finally got around to watching the finale, even though we own the first two seasons. Do I need to say more than George Michael? Didn't think so... But I will anyway. The finale was perfect parts ridiculous, funny, sweet, and sad. Sean and I are huge Extras fans. If you haven't tried it out, give it a chance. I am not promising it will be your cup of tea, because it is certainly a very specific kind of comedy (Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchent tend to be very shtick-y). But it is fun to watch the celebrity guest stars act completely ridiculously.

What Happens in Vegas - This Ashton Kutcher/Cameron Diaz rom-com was actually a bit better than I expected. Two strangers get married in Vegas while drunk, agree to get a divorce in the morning, and then win $3,000,000 on a slot machine. The money creates issues, and the judge decides not to grant them a divorce until they have "worked" on their marriage for six months (including living together). Kutcher and Diaz had pretty good chemistry and also have similar comedic styling. I thought they made sense in a movie together. Just don't expect this movie to reinvent the wheel.

Sleepwalking - Jolene (Charlize Theron) is a selfish mom who abandons her daughter Tara (AnnaSophie Robb), leaving her irresponsible brother James (Nick Stahl) to take care of her. Nick Stahl really stood out for me, but there is something about him that seems really old school to me, and I am intrigued by his acting style (I still find it odd he was in Terminator 3; mainly he impressed me in Carnivale and In the Bedroom). AnnaSophia Robb played a child who was forced to grow up too quickly. I was constantly reminding myself of how young she actually is. While the plot was really slow, and you could see a bit where they were headed, it was a sad and ultimately sweet story.

Just FYI, I was so overwhelmed writing this post, that by the end, I was just writing a basic synopsis and maybe a single sentence of opinion. It took me so long to write that I kept seeing movies and would then need to add them to my post. Now I am just rambling. But I guess that is a disclaimer about how poor my actual reviews (if you would call them that) actually are.