Saturday, March 29, 2008

Book: The Year of Living Biblically

I have just completed The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible by A.J. Jacobs. I don't normally read books like this. In fact, I prefer fiction, but this one sparked my interest when I read a review of it in a magazine at some point. Anyway, I put it on hold a couple of months ago at the library, and it finally made its way down the line to me.

It took me a couple of weeks to read because I have had so much else going on. But it was a quick read, considering. The author is Jewish by descent but agnostic by way of religious belief. It was very interesting to see him take a completely literal approach to following the "rules" of the bible. Clearly, he wasn't able to follow all the laws of the Old Testament at all times, but he brought to light some interesting and/or VERY strange laws of the OT that no one currently knows the purpose of.

Jacobs did a good job of dealing with the laws of the Bible, but not much of the spirituality that is central to it. "Humble" is probably not the best word to describe his quest. I think the author is probably a bit narcissistic (you would probably have to in order to do this kind of writing - His poor wife!), but he is really funny and it was a really enjoyable read. I'll be checking out his other book The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World, a book about his mission to read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica.

Friday, March 28, 2008

I finally saw Enchanted!

So I finally watched Enchanted, a movie I have wanted to see for quite a while since I have heard so many people sing its praises. I have to say: I loved it! Amy Adams was brilliant in this role. Her singing was perfect for the role. I just sat and laughed at her portrayal of the cartoon-princess-turned-real-world-damsel-in-distress.

I also give a lot of credit to James Marsden, an actor who has become VERY familiar with losing the leading lady to another man. He was hilarious, and he sings very well. The cast was great, the story was great, the effects were great.

This is an odd genre of movie. It is not exactly a child's movie because there is a lot of adult content (not adult in THAT way). But parts of it are also very childish. It was a sweet movie and well-done. I highly recommend it.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Farewell, Chikezie

Tonight on American Idol, we said goodbye to Chikezie. I enjoyed most of his singing and all of his personality. Seemed like a fun, likable, good guy. Best of luck!

Let's back it up a moment, though. Ramiele AND Kristy were neither in the bottom three. I get why Chikezie and Syesha were there, but was surprised about Jason Castro. I don't really feel that any of last night's bottom 3 could win the competition, but I think certain people should be sent home first, and others given more chances (Chikezie is one of those that I believe should have been here at least a couple of more weeks, until Kristy & Ramiele were gone). I was slightly disappointed, but not really surprised at the outcome.

Let's see how it goes next week.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Now for some strange casting news...

I don't know if it is the casting in this film, or the subject matter itself, but it just seems really strange. Oliver Stone will be directing the 2009 movie W about George W. Bush. Strangely enough, here is the casting done so far per

Josh Brolin as George W. Bush
Elizabeth Banks as Laura Bush
James Cromwell as George H.W. Bush (in negotiations)
Jeffrey Wright as Colin Powell

Based on the ages of the actors playing W and Laura, my guess is that this is a story leading up to the White House, and not as much about AFTER he gets in the White House. We'll see. Either way, I am sure it will be very controversial!

Dancing with the Stars - Week 2

Dancing with the Stars will be losing TWO pairs tonight. I watched the show over lunch today and didn't get a chance to analyze it in detail. But here are my rankings (I rank them before I see the judges score so I am not swayed):

Shannon & Derek
Jason & Edyta (He is too smily for a sexy dance, but he was good, dance-wise.)
Marissa & Tony (I just think she is a fun person and fun to watch.)
Marlee & Fabian (They just seemed to glide across the floor.)
Kristy & Mark (She did a pretty good job loosening up!)
Mario & Karina (I don't like his outfit, though.)

Cristian & Cheryl
Priscilla & Louis

Not good, but I like them so much:
Steve & Anna

Monica & Johnathan (She is just awkward to watch.)
Penn & Kym (He is just too big.)
Adam & Julianne (He is just too awkward to watch. Not a dancer. Julianne looked amazing, as usual, though.)


Last night, we said goodbye to Penn Jillette & Kym Johnson. I can see why America didn't vote for them as much. But I really like Kym!

Also, Monica Seles & Johnathan Roberts went home. Again, I think this was fair.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

American Idol - Top 10

Overall, I thought tonight's performances were pretty good. It was MUCH better than last week, but not quite as good as Beatles week one.

David Cook - He has become my new favorite.
Brooke White - The judges gave her a hard time for the addition of the band part way through, and while I agree with them, I still thought it was a great performance. They were too hard on her.

Jason Castro - I love that song. It was pretty good.
Syesha Mercado - Her performance was great, but i just don't enjoy her singing style.
Michael Johns - I thought this was probably his best performance so far. But I still don't rank him with David Cook and Brooke.
Carly Smithson - I think she put too much pressure on herself this week since she was in the Bottom 3 last week, and the strain of it showed through in her performance.
Chikezie - Great voice, but please stick to the other types of songs you have been singing that don't make you seem ancient.

Ramiele Malubay - I just find her to be blah, unfortunately for her. I do love that song, though.
Kristy Lee Cook - The judges liked her song choice. I felt that her song choice was just about as cheesy as it gets.
David Archuleta - What was that song? There had to be better songs in 1990 to choose from. He was so good for several weeks. What the heck happened?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

A Few Movies I Watched

I am well on my way to seeing all five movies that were nominated for the Best Picture Oscar this year. I can't remember a year where I have seen all 5. Of course, I am a month too late, but some of the movies STILL aren't out on DVD. I wish they would push the Oscars back to late March when they used to be. I know only lack There Will Be Blood, which I'll rent when it comes out for rental.

No Country for Old Men - I wasn't sure what to expect from this. It was very heavily hyped and won awards galore. And I am not always crazy about movies that the critics go nuts for. I was really sucked into it right away. The acting was really great (Tommy Lee Jones really stuck out to me as just amazing in this). The movie is slow-paced but not boring. The story is odd and filmed in a strange way, one that is expected from the Coen brothers. There was NO musical score and it made it that much more intense. It was very dark and not my favorite movie I have seen lately (that still belongs currently to Once), but I say give it a try.

Other movies I watched this weekend:

Dan in Real Life - Parts of this were cheesy but I liked the story. Steve Carrell was great in it. I got annoyed that people only want him to be hysterically funny in every movie. He was good at serious, and made the funny parts REALLY funny. The one thing that was strange is how many "fun group activities" this family did over the course of a few days... I thought the movie was sweet.

Gosford Park - I had watched this several years ago and didn't enjoy it. I think it had to do with the fact that I watched it with Sean who was not enjoying it. It wasn't his kind of movie and it always rubs off on me when he feels like that. Actually, that is why I decided to watch it again - to see if I liked it without him around. And I did. Have I mentioned I really like Clive Owen? It is a bit slow at parts, and I really enjoyed the "downstairs" people more than the "upstairs."

Friday, March 21, 2008

Children of Men - But No Clive Owen

I just read at that David Eick, producer of such shows as Battlestar Galactica and Bionic Woman, will be bringing the P.D. James novel Children of Men to the small screen as a television series. I watched the Alfonso Cuaron adaptation of this book last year, which stars Clive Owen. I love Cuaron's style and have liked him since Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. After watching the movie, I read the book. It was pretty different, except for the general idea of the inability of humans to have any more babies, and the main characters (sort of). I am curious to see how Eick will choose to portray it in a weekly series. But anyone who chooses to make BSG gets the benefit of a doubt from me. Looking forward to it.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

LOST - Meet Kevin Johnson

I don't know what to think anymore. I don't know who to believe. I don't want to believe Ben but he is very convincing, isn't he?

1) I had never thought that Michael made it back to New York and back to his normal life (well, not exactly normal...). I thought he must have run into the freighter at getting off the island and had been there, somehow, since?

2) It has been a month in island time (give or take a few days) since Michael and Walt sailed off into the sunset. How long did it take for him to get home, ruin his relationship with his son, his family, and realize he had nothing to live for, before the first events in the flashback took place (attempted suicide #1)? Did this all happen REALLY quickly, or is this a time-warp issue as we have already witnessed in other episodes. Minkowski told Desmond & Sayid that the freighter had been sitting out there for a while. How long? And is this also evidence of a time warp issue?

3) Carl and Rousseau! Both killed in the last minute. Did Ben have them killed? Are the people on the freighter responsible? If so, is this the mystery mission that Lapidis went on during last week's episode? Ben wouldn't have Alex killed, but would the "other side"?

4) I was freaking out when Tom approached Michael in the alley (attempted suicide #2). It was fun to see him in the city and dressed up, and having a rendezvous with his lover at the Hotel Earle. That was great! Interesting to see "factual evidence" of Widmore planting the fake plane wreck (attempted suicide #3).

OK that is the gist of my thoughts at this point. I may update as I have more time to think about it.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

American Idol - Top 11 Elimination

I must say I was pretty shocked at the bottom 3 tonight, especially based on last night's performances. Kristy Lee Cook was obviously going to be in the bottom 3, again. But I don't know anyone who wasn't expecting Ramiele to be there too. She is cute and has on OK voice but is just not on the same level of performance as the others. I can see why Amanda might not be as big of a favorite, since her style is so different. Her being in the bottom 3 made sense. Carly did not. Her song was OK last night, but nowhere close as Simon said. And she has been so consistently good. How is she in the bottom 3?

So Kristy is going home right? NO!! Carly was safe, thank goodness, but once again, Kristy is delivered at the last moment and lives to see another way. Goodbye Amanda Overmyer. You were ousted too early, and should still be in the competition for a few more weeks.

And then there were TEN...

Dancing with the Stars - Ladies Night

I had to watch this over lunch, so I felt like it was rushed. But here are my quick thoughts and judges' scores.

Shannon Elizabeth & Derek Hough - I really like Derek and his moves are ALWAYS on. So Shannon's moves were so obviously not as sharp. But I thought she did a pretty good job. Her long legs look like they might make it harder for her to dance, and are a bit distracting, but she looked great. Judges' score: 21/30

Monica Seles & Johnathan Roberts - He always seems like such a gentleman to me. I often find the Foxtrot boring so I can' totally say what I think. I didn't think it was awful or amazing. It looked pretty smooth but a tad awkward. Judges' score: 15/30 (I think they were too tough on her on this one).

Marissa Jarret Winokur & Tony Dovolani - I have her on my ipod! She has a fun attitude. Now to her dance: Oh, Tony's outfit. No. Will the judges like how much hip hop kind of dancing they are doing? It was fun? Was it technically good? I can't tell. At this point, I just need to not be bored an I wasn't. Judges' score: 18/30

Priscilla Presley & Louis Van Amstel - Priscilla seems like a mystery to me. And she is so quiet. She seems very intimidating to me. So I think she is to Louis, too. Side note: I keep thinking of that movie Elvis & Me. Now the dance: I gotta say. I think she is very pretty to watch. Again, I couldn't say how she is doing technically. WOW! I am impressed. Judges' score: 24/30

Kristi Yamaguchi & Mark Ballas - Will her figure skating background make this easier for her? She has good presence on the floor. I think she looks very elegant and smooth. They look great! Mark's faces are cracking me up. Judges' score: 27/30

Marlee Matlin & Fabian Sanchez - OK we have a new pro dancer. Let's see what he has to offer. OK, and you know we were all wondering how Marlee would do considering she is deaf. I think teaching her would be hard because she can't look at you when you are teaching her to see what you are saying all the time. I thought it was pretty good. Slightly awkward because you could tell there was that added dimension of not being able to hear the music, but enjoyable to watch. Judges' score: 22/30

A note: I don't plan on blogging in detail about every episode. I just wanted to make a detailed post for these beginning episodes. I will probably just continue to put my opinions in a shorter format.

Book-to-Film Adaptations

Several of my favorite and/or recently read books are being made into movies. I am very interested to see how a director visualizes these stories. Here is a list of such movies that are in production:

1) The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. This one stars Rachel Weisz & Mark Wahlberg as mourning parents after their daughter (Saoirse Ronan from Atonement) is found raped & murdered. It was a touching read and should be interesting on film. I am also interested to see Mark Wahlberg play this kind of character.

2) My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult. I mentioned this one in a previous post, but I will give a few details here, too. This movie will star Cameron Diaz, Abigail Breslin, and Alec Baldwin to name a few. A child who was born solely to be a match for her sister, who has cancer, decides that she no longer wants her body to be used for that purpose, and seeks legal help to do so.

3) Johnathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. Fans are anxiously awaiting (and discussing) who the cast will be in this one. It has a huge following. How they will possibly portray this whole story in a single 2 to 2 1/2 hours is beyond me. This is a story about two very different magicians in the 19th century.

4) The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. This book is a hard one to explain, but the story-telling is great and I couldn't put it down.

5) The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. This is a modern day story of vampires and the search for the truth about them.

6) Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling. I probably don't need much explanation on this one.

My friend Emily will be interested to hear that The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon is also being adapted as a film. I guess that means she'll have to read the book now!

It seems like this last year has been a good year for book-to-movie adaptations, including No Country for Old Men, There Will Be Blood, Atonement, just to name a few.

This is just the ones I am aware of (and am familiar with). Got any others to add to the list?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

American Idol - Top 11

This is a tough blog to write tonight because I am just not sure how I felt about that episode. I agree with Simon that perhaps we were better off without a second week of Beatles' music.

Loved: Carly, David Archuleta, David Cook, Syesha
OK: Brooke, Ramiele, Chikezie, Michael, Amanda, Kristy, Jason

I didn't HATE any performances tonight, but I don't know if I would technically say that I LOVED any of them either.

Consistently like:
David Archuleta
David Cook

Consistently disappointing:

Bottom 3?
The last spot is a toss-up between several people.

BSG - Which Character Are You?

In honor of the new season of Battlestar Galactica starting in a couple of weeks,I completed the quiz called "Which Battlestar Galactica Character Are You?" and I got Tyrol. Up until last season finale, I would be ok with that, but now I know I am a CYLON! Shoot...

Now HERE'S a Movie I'll Have to See

I really like gangster movies (not to be confused with gansta movies). A new movie called Public Enemies is currently filming, starring some of my favorite actors: Christian Bale, Johnny Depp, and Stephen Dorff. It also stars Channing Tatum, who is not my favorite (but my 17 year old sister loves hims, so I guess he is just not my generation). The movie will be about the FBI's hunt for John Dillinger (Depp), Baby Face Nelson, and Pretty Boy Floyd (Tatum). The fact that these gangsters have names like that makes me think of Dick Tracy, but, alas, this is the real deal (sans yellow jacket and hat).

It should be noted that Christian Bale (who plays one of the Feds in this movie) is probably one of my, if not THE, all-time favorite actor. Loved him since Newsies. At that point in my life, I had not seen Empire of the Sun or I would have loved him since I was 10.

In other Bale news, he has confirmed that he is interested in making the new Batman franchise into a trilogy. I am all for it. I can't wait for The Dark Knight.

Monday, March 17, 2008

BRO-pocalypse Now

I love Neil Patrick Harris. And I love Barney. I don't think Barney could have his own show without the fun supporting cast of How I Met Your Mother (at least Lily & Marshall), but I really feel like he carries the show. He is funny every time. He's got at least one funny, memorable, ridiculous line every episode.

This episode reminded me of one of my favorite movies, The Money Pit. Marshall & Lily buy a lemon of an apartment. I love that movie, especially this clip.

My sisters and I have wondered repeatedly why so many people run back and forth in front of Tom Hanks when he is riding down the hill in the trash can or whatever that is.

I don't like Ted turning into Barney, Jr. and I am glad Marshall (and ultimately Ted) agrees.

Dancing with the Stars - Week 1

I am not 100% devoted to watching this season yet. I miss Max. We'll have to see... But, for now, I am giving it a try.

Penn Jillette & Kym Johnson - It was fun. I really like Kym and Penn seems like he wants to learn and have some fun. He seemed very flat-footed, but it is his first dance. Let's give him some time to see if he gets any better. Judges' score: 16/30

Jason Taylor & Edyta Sliwinska - I get why he needs to feel macho.I think as he gets better on the show, he will be able to let that go. I don't know how he did technically, but I think he looks very smooth, and pretty comfortable, considering it is his first time on the dance floor. Side note: Can I please wake up tomorrow with Edita's body? Judges' score: 22/30

Cristian de la Fuente & Cheryl Burke - Don't really know who he is but he's pretty hot!
Seems kind of dorky, but I like that. Now to his dancing. He has good rhythm but his dancing feels a little forced to me. Cheryl's dress is not so good. He needs to loosen up but it was overall not too bad. Judges' score: 21/30

Adam Corolla & Julianne Hough - I love Julianne and her choreography. I am constantly in shock that she is so young. He seems uncomfortable, too, but I think it is just nerves. It wasn't too bad, just rather uptight. Julianne makes anyone look good. She looks great in yellow but I don't love the style of her dress. Judges' score: 15/30

Mario & Karina Smirnoff - Isn't it funny her partner is named Mario, again? I really enjoyed their dance. They were fun to watch and Mario has his own style on the dance floor. You can tell he is a dancer. I am not a big Karina fan. Judges' score: 24/30

Steve Guttenberg & Anna Trebunskaya - Steve is surprisingly in good shape, considering he seems so old (since Three Men and a Baby). Again, a tad uptight, but he loosened up throughout the performance. This is stuff that usually decreases with time on the show. But I think he is having fun and is actually a genuine fan of the show. Better than I expected. Judges; score: 18/30

Best of the night goes to:
Mario & Karina

Followed closely by:
Jason & Edyta
Cristian & Cheryl

Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog

This is going to be great!. The multi-talented Joss Whedon has announced a new three-part internet series that will be a musical. For those of you who know I am a big Buffy fan, you know I think he is an amazing writing and love that he writes music, too. I have Once More, With Feeling saved on my Tivo from two years ago. Let's add to the fun, though, shall we? Cast in this musical, so far, are Neil Patrick Harris, aka Barney, aka Doogie. I have heard him perform a little musical theatre (he was in Assassins and in Rent) and he is great. Plus, he is so entertaining and funny. Also cast is Nathan Fillion, most recently of Waitress and Drive, but more commonly recognized from Firefly/Serenity and as the creepy priest in Buffy's final season.

Per Mr. Whedon himself, a brief synopsis: "This much I will say: It's the story of a low-rent super-villain, the hero who keeps beating him up, and the cute girl from the laundromat he's too shy to talk to." Can't wait!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Namesake

I added this movie to my online rental queue after seeing a trailer for it on another DVD I rented. It is based on the book by Jhumpa Lahiri (which I have not read) and I thought it looked like a good story. The trailer made it look like the story was the about an Indian couple's son that was born shortly after they moved to the US in the 70s. Instead, I felt the story was more about the father, and his effect on his wife and children. The actor who played the father (Irfan Khan) was really good and was one of the highlights.

The film was directed by Mira Nair, who also directed Monsoon Wedding and Vanity Fair). I didn't even know who she was until recently (thanks Vance!), and now Monsoon Wedding is on my movie queue, too. From two movies I have seen that she directed, I can say that her films are visually beautiful. Any movie shot at least partially in India has the ability to beautiful. There is so much natural beauty, as well as the colors and the culture that make it so appealing to the eye.

Kal Penn (of Harold and Kumar fame) is also in this film. He plays the son and I thought the did a really good job. I had to get past thinking of him as the guy from 24 since I have never actually seen Harold and Kumar. For the most part, I found his character Gogol to be unlikable, but that is kind of the point, at least for the most part.

I recommend this movie if you are interested in learning about the Indian culture, seeing an interesting and well-acted story, and like to cry a little (I did a few times!).

Friday, March 14, 2008

I Should Tell You, I Should... No!

With the end of Rent's twelve-year run on Broadway quickly approaching (June 1!), I feel compelled to see it one last time. I have seen it three times (twice on tour and once on Broadway last year). I will be making a trip up to NYC before the end but will not be seeing it before it closes. However, the news that, not only will Rent still be touring in 2009, but that the cast members that originated the roles of Roger (Adam Pascal) and Mark (Anthony Rapp) will be returning for the tour. So what if they will be pushing walkers around the stage, I feel the need to seem them play the roles that really made them. Now that Jesse Martin isn't on Law & Order anymore, maybe he could join them?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

"Lost" - Ji Yeon

First of all, before I get started on the episode, please go here and let Sawyer give you a nickname. Mine is Capt. Lou Albino (as in Capt. Lou Albano, the wrestler). So I am a tad pale... Sean's is Stubby.

OK, on to this episode. I don't usually have a heck of a lot to say just after an episode. First, I have to let it sink in. But here are some initial thoughts.

1) Juliet is cutthroat!! I can't believe she told Jin about Sun's affair. I also can't believe that he knows the word "affair" after a few weeks of learning English.

2) Capt. Gault? Sayid put it best. The captain was extremely forthcoming, but we have to remember that Michael (we assume) gave them a note not to trust the Captain. Then again, Michael is following Ben's orders, and of course Ben would say not to believe the Captain. And Michael is just listening to Ben to save his son (another assumption based on next week's preview). So, once again, who do we believe?

3) Jin's gravestone said his date of death was 9/22/04, meaning he died before they left the island. Perhaps, Jin's body is one of the two that "Kate tried to save" in Jack's fake story. What the heck is going to happen for Jin to die before they leave? SAD!

4) Does this mean that Aaron IS one of the Oceanic Six? I guess so.

5) I was waiting for someone else from the O6 to come along in this flash-forward. Glad to see Hurley, and he wasn't in a mental institution.

6) Confusing with Jin's flashback and Sun's flashforward playing at the same times. Confusing, but I could tell something was off. I just felt it was obvious he was not really heading to see her with that Panda.

Harry Potter 8??

No, J.K. Rowling is not writing an 8th Harry Potter book, but according to this LA Times article, the final Harry Potter installment, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, will be made as two movies, released in 2010 and 2011. As a big fan of the books and the movies, I am happy with this decision. There is just too much story in the final book to be left out, and one movie would almost be disappointing. People will argue that Warner Brothers is just trying to drag it out and make more money, which I am sure is an advantage of the split, but I think they are doing the right thing for the story, too. As for me, I can't wait to see how it plays out. I have been very happy with the movies so far, but disappointed at portions left out for time. Film 6, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince will be released in November. It is getting so dark and serious. I can't wait to see it on the big screen.

Goodbye, David Hernandez

I can't say I am very disappointed to say goodbye to David Hernandez this week on American Idol. He has a pretty nice voice, but if I have to look away while you perform, you can't possibly be that good, right? He was just too cheesy for me. And that was BEFORE his performance this week. I felt he tried to hard this week. Unfortunately, sometimes that pays off and sometimes it doesn't. I liked that he believes that everything happens for a reason and so I say GOOD LUCK to him in the future.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Please Don't Screw Up One of My Faves!

I always enjoy when books I like are made into films, either feature films or made for TV. Even if the movie is not great, I enjoy seeing how someone else envisioned the characters and how the tone of the book can be expressed visually. One of my recent favorite books is My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult. It was announced last year that New Line would be in charge of the page-to-screen transition, and they have rallied quite an impressive cast (Abigail Breslin, Alec Baldwin, Cameron Diaz, Jason Patric). However, at a recent book signing event, Picoult announced that New Line had decided to change the ending to the story for the film version, much to her (and my) dismay. In case you haven't read it, I don't plan on divulging any major plot points here, but the change is tragic. This book is excellent.

Thanks to GMMR, I caught wind of this and found an article online where email addresses are given out in order to send a letter of protest. Please partake in the protest and let the story be told as it should be! The email addresses are and My email to Mark came back undeliverable, but why not give it a try anyway?

And while you are at it, pick up a copy of My Sister's Keeper. You won't be disappointed.

I Promised Myself...

I promised myself when I started this blog that there was no allowing for trying to be something I am not. So that includes writing about things that could be potentially embarrassing. That being said, I should let you know about a movie I watched on Hallmark channel. My mother called me to tell me to Tivo this movie a couple of months ago. In my need to clean off my Tivo, I sat down to watch it this weekend. The name of the movie was Straight from the Heart, starring Teri Polo (Meet the Parents) and Andrew McCarthy (what 80s movie was he NOT in)?

Let's start by reminding you that my mother is a 63 year old single woman, who spends most of her time doing crossword puzzles, playing scrabble, and knitting while watching cheesy Lifetime movies. She abhorred the movie Juno, which I loved, saying it was disrespectful and rude. That being said, I can see why she liked this movie. It is romantic and sweet, doesn't have any sex scenes and avoids much harsh language. It might be good if you read it as a book. It reminded me a bit of Nora Roberts books.

But in my opinion, the level of cheese was too high for me to enjoy it. My husband actually watched it with me (which was a shock) and we laughed through most of it because it was so predictable. But it was also like a bad accident, we had to watch it through the end. So I recommend this to conservative women in their 60s and I will not tease them for enjoying it. But I did not.

Other movies I watched this weekend:
-Death at a Funeral - Not the best British comedy when compared with Bridget Jones' Diary or Four Weddings & a Funeral, but chock full of dumb laughs. My husband and I laughed until we cried at the ridiculous high-jinks at this funeral.

-Sydney White - Cute but not great. Parts felt forced to fit the Snow White story. But I really like Amanda Bynes, and it was good to see the guy from Jack & Bobby getting some work. And he is cute! Also good to see that Buffy's Jonathan, aka Danny Strong, finds steady work too! I enjoyed it, but would have liked it more if Sean weren't making fun of it the whole time...

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

American Idol - Top Twelve

First off, Chikezie rocked my socks off. I loved that!

How come all the weekly themes in my memory are of boring singer/songwriters? So this week we had the songs written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Finally some great song options! For the most part, the contestants' song choices were excellent. Here are my quick thoughts:

Loved: Chikezie, Carly, David Cook, Brooke, Michael

Ok: Syesha, Ramiele, Jason, David Archuleta, Amanda
Um... No: David Hernandez, Kristy Lee

Consistently my faves:
Brooke White
Carly Smithson

Consistently disappointed:
Syesha Mercado
David Hernandez
Remiele Malubay

Liking more and more every week:
David Cook

Music I Never Get Tired Of

Here are just a few songs that I JUST don't get tired of. Never!

1) Chocolate, Run, and Open Your Eyes by Snow Patrol

2) Almost anything from Black Holes & Revelations by Muse

3) Hurt by Christina Aguilera

4) Bedshaped by Keane (especially the extended version)

5) The Moment I Said It by Imogen Heap

My Favorite Show. Period.

I realize Les Miserables is really cliche for my favorite musical theatre show of all time, but that doesn't mean it is not my favorite. I have multiple reasons.

1) It is the first show I ever saw that wasn't put on by my middle school theatre class. I was 15 and in 10th grade. I will admit I fell asleep at some point, but I was just tired. I woke back up and had renewed enthusiasm for the show, as well as deep interest in musical theatre. In the last 14 years, I have seen the show a total of 4 times (I think...), including 3 times on tour and one time on Broadway in 2001 before it originally closed. I haven't seen the revival, which is now closed on Broadway as well.

2) I purchased, and subsequently memorized, the Original London Cast recording. I have also submitted myself to listening to other cast recordings, and I just find that no one can compare with Valjean (Colm Wilkinson), Javert (Roger Allam), or Marius (Michael Ball) from the Original London Cast. There ARE performances by this cast that are hard to listen to (Turning...) due to the whiny ensemble cast. But for the most part, what I love about this cast is that you can hear their passion.

3) The overall story of redemption is excellent. This is one of those books I have planned on reading for years and have just not gotten around to it. I am sure the book is amazing because there is so much that had to have been left out of the musical version (even more so from the movie versions). I love the use of dead characters to duet with the living, in ways to encourage them or welcome them to death, etc. This happens in Spring Awakening in Those You've Known, my favorite song from that OBC recording. While it is cheesy to say, seeing the characters who have died come back in the end make it less painful that they have died (see the end of Titanic).

4) Much of the story is heartbreaking. The death of Fantine. Eponine's unrequited love of Marius. Javert's suicide. The revolution and the death of Marius' friends. Javert's inability to be forgiving of a man very worthy of it.

5) My favorite songs:

Empty Chairs at Empty Tables, sung by Marius

One Day More, sung by full Company

Javert's Suicide, sung by Javert

Who Am I, sung by Valjean

Do You Hear the People Sing, sung by the Students and in the Finale by the full Company

OK I have dorked out long enough on this subject.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Dexter - Season 1

Last fall, after hearing repeated praise for Showtime's series Dexter, a friend and I decided to check it out. All we knew about it was the basic premise, that he is a serial killer that only kills bad people. My friend was pregnant and I was living alone at the time, so I am not sure why we decided to take on such a morbid and potentially scary show, but I couldn't be more glad that we did.

In February, CBS has been re-airing Season 1 and I have sold my husband on it. We are now a few episodes in. I am enjoying it just as much this time around. It has been several months so I can't recall what bits are being edited out for time and content, but it is enjoyable the second time around nonetheless.

The best part of the series is Michael C. Hall's (David from Six Feet Under) portrayal of the lovable killer. His voice-overs are so witty and help the viewer get a little better understanding of what goes through his psycho mind. You find yourself rooting for him! The cast is well-rounded, although I find some of the characters less enjoyable than others. Of course, I don't think that is due to the acting, but to how the characters are written.

I won't go into detail on the plot. Since I have completed the first season already, I worry I will give away plot details by mistake. However, this is one of the few times where I will say, "Watch the show before you read the book." It is done that well and is that fun to watch. It is highly amusing considering the subject matter, and the show writers have had to write in so much more plot to fill a whole season (the first season = the first book by Jeff Lindsay).

This show is not meant for everyone. My parents would not enjoy this at all. But I can appreciate the unique premise, the excellent writing, and the terrific acting. Give this one a shot.

It should be noted that I do NOT have Showtime and have not yet seen Season Two. I plan to rent it when it comes out on DVD. Please don't spoil it for me!

Friday, March 07, 2008

LOST - "The Other Woman"

I love this show. I do. I don't care that I never know what is going on. I don't care that they ask a great deal more questions than they answer. None of that bothers me because they do such a good job of entertaining me in the process. Even an episode such as last night's "The Other Woman," which isn't as exciting as we have gotten used to this season, is still funny in parts ("See you at dinner."), awkward (that Jack & Juliet kiss), suspenseful (who are the Freighter Folk and are they going to kill our Losties by releasing the gas at The Tempest?), etc. They even answered a couple of questions. Or did they?

I don't begin to pretend that I am a Lost theorist. It is too smart for me. But I enjoy reading other people's theories and deciding what I think about what their brains have put forth as possibilities as to what is going on here.

Here is Vozzek69's theory over on Dark UFO. I agree with most of what he says. I had not considered that the encounter with Harper in the jungle was the Black Smoke Monster, but that makes plenty of sense.

I really felt like the Jack/Juliet kiss was forced and not really done at the right time. And Jack doesn't love her. What is he doing? Anyway, I found it awkward, and felt it was one of those times when it would have been a better moment if they had NOT kissed.

I assume that when Harper said, "Of course he loves you. You look just like her," that she meant Anne (or is Annie, no I think Anne), Ben's one friend from childhood. For a split-second, I wondered if she WAS Anne, but dismissed the thought. That might be too much. Or is she referring to his mother? Hmmm...

Did Ben plan to have her as "his" before she ever came to the island, or was it only after she got there? The whole here's-a-house-flowers-opera-music thing makes me think he brought her there knowing he planned for her to be his own. That was all a very strange and awkward side of Ben (with the ham in the kitchen!).

We all SO know that it is Michael on the freighter, right? Wouldn't it be the best twist EVER if it were someone else. That would be fun.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Into the Wild

My sister read Into the Wild and saw the movie in the same day. Yeah, start to finish on the book and movie in one day! So she recommended them to me. I put myself on the hold list for the book at the library and waited for three months!

Basically, this is a story of guy who decides to avoid the life of luxury provided by his parents and pursue happiness by enjoying nature and the earth. If you have to choose between seeing the movie and reading the book, choose the book. There is just so much detail that must be left out of the movie. I was so emotionally attached to this book that I was disappointed I could not go out directly to see the movie. Instead I had to wait several weeks.

So the night finally arrived to see the movie and we sat down to watch all 147 minutes of it. The music and scenery in this film really contributed to how it pulls at you emotionally. The struggles he goes through, how brave he is, the words he writes, the people who come into contact with him, all these things make for a movie where you can't decide if you are happy or sad when you finish watching it. Emile Hirsch is GREAT in this role. I will be keeping an eye out for him from now on.

I love how the story has been pieced together by people he met in his tramping around and memories of his family and notes and journals that he left behind. This is a must-see/-read.

How was Eddie Veddar not nominated for an Oscar for Hard Sun? It is a beautiful song. Enchanted had 3 songs nominated! I haven't seen Enchanted, so I am not saying anything negative about it or the music in it, but couldn't they have given ONE of those noms to Eddie??


I had read the premise of Once but it didn't really catch my eye. However, all the praise it had received caused me to add it to my online movie queue. I added it prior to the Oscar win for Best Song, but didn't watch it until this last week. My husband and I sat down to watch it, not knowing at all what to expect.

I just loved it. I love musicals, so it should come as no surprise that I enjoyed the musical aspect. The songwriting and singing was excellent, and just a style I would enjoy. Not hokey like a lot of movie "musicals," if you even classify it as one. I have already downloaded the soundtrack and it is my current favorite.

But it wasn't just the music that I enjoyed. The two stars, Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, while not the most amazing actors ever, were captivating and endearing. It should be noted that neither of the leads are actors, but are professional musicians. The indie spirit of the film was fun. I love when films like this (shot in a few weeks, for about $150,000) are a success.

If you haven't watched this yet, give it a try! If you are curious, check out the trailer here or another video here.

Songs I like right now...

Here is a random list of what I am listening to right now. It is not necessarily current or considered age appropriate for me (nearing 30 now...).

1) Shadow of the Day by Linkin Park

2) Rainy Monday by Shiny Toy Guns

3) See You Again by Miley Cyrus

4) Legally Blonde by Original Broadway Cast

5) Dirrrty by Christina Aguilera

6) Feeling Good by Muse

7) Straight Lines by Silverchair

Yesterday, on my drive home I heard Ghetto Superstar by Pras w/ Mya and ODB aka BBJ (RIP). I am going to have to download that one. I was dancing all over the place and singing like a superstar.

Michael Clayton

I watched Michael Clayton last night. I enjoyed it but wasn't completely blown away. The acting was good and it was well-filmed. While I probably wouldn't have put it there myself, I can see why it was nominated for best picture. It was much more intense and had a different feel than other legal thrillers, such as John Grisham novels-made-as-films. I had just finished telling Sean prior to watching the movie that I always feel like George Clooney acts the same in every movie (think Dr. Ross from ER), give or take a couple (O Brother), but he was really good in this. And to his credit, I haven't seen some of the movies he has done in the last few years where he has gotten a lot of notice (Syriana, for example).

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Blame the Writer's Strike...

I've been on a reading kick lately. I put 5 or 6 books on hold at the library over the last 3 or 4 months. And they literally ALL came in within a week of each other. And when there is a waiting list for a particular book I am reading, I can not renew it. So I had 5 books to read in 4 weeks. This normally wouldn't seem so daunting, but one of those books was more than 1,000 pages and I did nothing for a month but work, eat, read, and sleep.

Here is a quick blurb about the books I have most recently read:

1) The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. This is the first book in recent memory where I have cried during reading. I couldn't see the pages through my tears, but it was VERY good. Devastating but redeeming.

2) Into the Wild by John Krakauer. After reading this, I became obsessed with the story for a few weeks, and since the movie was out of the theaters but not yet at Blockbuster, I still haven't seen it. Actually, it should be in my mailbox today. Very touching story.

3) World Without End by Ken Follett. The follow up to Pillars of the Earth. I really enjoyed it. It has been a few years since I read Pillars but it is well-written and epic. Read Pillars first, though!

4) Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay. I read this, along with its two sequels after watching Season 1 of Dexter on TV. I am glad I watched it first because the show writers added in a great deal of detail to make the story more interesting. Also Michael C. Hall is great in it. The books follow a good idea about a serial killer who only kills people who deserve it, but, after watching the Showtime show, I am not as enthralled with the books.

5) Persuasion by Jane Austen. I am a big Jane Austen fan. Another big JA fan recommend Persuasion as her "favorite Jane Austen" novel. So I gave it a shot. I enjoyed it, and I like that the heroine is more mature woman of 27 or 28 instead of 19 or 20, as in most of her other books. But Pride & Prejudice still takes the cake for me as her best book. Who doesn't wish she were Elizabeth? Oh, Mr. Dahhhcy..

Remaining to be read:

1) The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. Just started this. I read East of Eden a couple of years ago and absolutely loved it. I love his writing style. And since I had never read Grapes, I felt it was high time.

2) Heyday by Kurt Anderson. This one caught my eye a while back. I love novels set in 19th century America.

The Musical - Not the City

My sister Kenzie and I went to see Chicago on tour this weekend. It was the last weekend they were performing at Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth. Bass Hall is superior to other music halls in the area where Broadway shows usually come. I had only ever seen the film version of Chicago, and along with the fact that Kenzie is in her high school production of Chicago this spring, it was excellent timing to grab some tickets and go.

One thing to point out about Bass Hall. There are really NO bad tickets in this place. It is a beautiful performance hall with excellent acoustics. I have seen multiple shows there over the years, including Miss Saigon, Les Miserables, and most recently, A Tuna Christmas (my husband's parents took us).

OK, back on to the point of the show. Chicago is one of those shows where the dancing MUST be on. The singing was so-so in this particular performance. I didn't recognize any of the cast and it seemed most of them were limited on experience. I enjoyed the show but didn't find myself raving about any of it afterwards... Except for the dancing. The dancing sucked me in immediately from All That Jazz. It was incredible. And as a result, I was more forgiving of less-than-stellar performances by some of the cast. It sure made me want to go out and take up some jazz dancing. I assume the choreography was the original choreography by Bob Fosse. It would just be wrong to re-choreograph it. His amazing talent is duly noted here. Although, I didn't enjoy Fosse all that much a few years back, but that was for different reasons.

One more thing. Credit should go to Mr. Cellophane, who got the most hoots and hollers from the crowd, both during his performance and during the curtain call.

First Post

Well, technically, this is NOT my first post. But I had not posted on here for SO long that I deleted all my boring previous posts and decided to start over. I have been enjoying multiple forms of entertainment lately, so I thought I would put in my two cents, along with all the other bloggers in the world. Welcome to my blog.