Monday, June 30, 2008

Movie: Wall*E

OK, so here is the deal. I am not quite on the Wall-E bandwagon with everyone and their dog. I didn't dislike it, but I am not feeling the Academy Award Best Picture thing that is being promoted.

We went to see Wall-E yesterday afternoon. We knew going on opening weekend might be difficult because that means the theater would be packed with children (and apparently crying infants??). But I always find that to be part of the fun of seeing an animated movie, because I am amused at what kids laugh at versus what adults laugh at (This made more sense seeing a movie like Shrek over seeing Wall-E, which doesn't have the same number of fart jokes that Shrek does). Wow, most of that sentence was in parentheses.

So, anyway, I wasn't sure I was all that interested in this movie. I haven't been all that interested in the story since I heard the synopsis a LONG time ago. I love Pixar movies, but something about this one didn't look all that exciting to me. But, alas, Sean wanted to see this one pretty bad. It was one of the movies he had been anticipating for a while. Even my least favorite Pixar movie (Cars) is really fun and well-done.

The general storyline, if you don't know it, is that, 700 years in the future, humans have left earth in a pile of rubbish, with a number of robots staying behind to clean up. But only one is still running, and that is the lonely and goofy Wall-E, who has managed to somehow develop personality and emotions over the past 700 years. Well, Wall-E's life is turned upside down when a rocket lands on earth and a much more technologically-advanced robot (a girl!) sets out on a mission to locate something specific. What follows is a sweet love story and fun exploration of one possible scenario for our future (let's hope not).

It is hard to ignore that Pixar has shown us an earth that is absolutely trashed, to the point we had to leave and live in space. Even worse is the condition of humans, who, while very amusing, are a pretty sad commentary on where we are headed as a race. Andrew Stanton has stated that he wasn't really trying to push any ethical environmental messages with this film, but that would be hard to ignore.

Another interesting thing of note is that, per Andrew Stanton, Pixar doesn't write a movie with an audience in mind, but they make a movie that they think would be fun to watch themselves. They don't worry about "Is this movie going to be a kids movie?" or not. I like that. But I kind of miss their more "kid" movies. Finding Nemo and Monsters Inc. are my favorites. I am willing to go along with these changes, but I am also glad that Toy Story 3 is in the works. And while I wish we could see some of the original Toy Story writers on this one, I am glad to see they have brought in Michael Arndt (of Little Miss Sunshine fame) to try his hand.

Alright, I have gone on and on with this one. I liked it. Didn't love it. Pixar is held to such a high standard that it is easy for it to fall.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

So You Think You Can Dance - Top 16 Results

Tonight we said goodbye to Chelsea T. and Chris ( a hometown boy and friend of a friend). You can see me complete thoughts over at Tapeworthy where I have a guest-blogging gig going on for Vance for a couple of weeks (just for SYTYCD-related items) while he is out of town.

Good luck in the future guys!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

So You Think You Can Dance - Top 16 Perform

I worked way too hard on my post over at Tapeworthy to re-post here. I am guest-posting on SYTYCD for Vance while he is away. Head on over there to see my thoughts on tonight's performance show.

Just because...

Oh, man, I can not wait for Batman Begins. Click here!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Movie: In the Valley of Elah

I just finished watching In the Valley of Elah (named for the valley where David defeated Goliath in the Old Testament), a movie that is makes more impact when the viewer knows that it is based on a true story. The basic plot is that a soldier returns from deployment in Iraq, only to go AWOL. His father, a former military police officer, starts his own investigation, knowing his son would not disappear without telling him. His investigation leads down a sad, deceitful, twisty road.

This film is like a mini-reunion of actors from No Country for Old Men. In fact, I would not be surprised to find out they were filmed in relatively close locations and similar times. Both films included Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, and Barry Corbin. Also in Elah were Charlize Theron (my favorite role of hers was Rita on Arrested Development), Susan Surandon, James Franco, Josh Tucker, Jason Patric (Good grief, did I miss anyone? There were so many people in this). I believe Tommy Lee Jones was nominated for an Oscar for this role, and he was really good. After I saw No Country, I was reminded what a great actor he is (if I can ignore such movies as Space Cowboys and whichever Batman he was in).

This movie maybe tried a bit too hard to make its point. And that is something that would be more annoying if the reality of what it dealt with was not so in-your-face right now with soldiers returning from the horrors of war, and dealing with coping on their own. It was just sad. And made me feel like I felt after I watched Jarhead last year (well, not quite so disturbed). Just depressed about the experiences these guys go through.

This is a good movie, but not a great movie. Worth Netflixing if you don't know what else to get.

Book: The Time Traveler's Wife

I just finished reading The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. Emily had suggested it several times, and she hasn't ever recommended a book I haven't thoroughly enjoyed, so I added it to my library list. Needless to say, she was right again, and I read this one in about 3 days. I literally could not put it down.

At its most basic level, The Time Traveler's Wife is a very romantic love story involving, you guessed it, lots of time travel. Henry is a man with a genetic "disease" that sends him whirling through time without warning (or clothes), to next week, last year, 20 years ago, 50 years from now, etc. The story is narrated back and forth between Henry and the love of his life Clare. Clare meets Henry as a young girl when Henry from the future shows up in her life by accident. And while it could easily be creepy that he is in his 30s or 40s and she is 6, it just isn't.

I don't have a lot of complaints about this story. There was a great deal of the story including a couple of subplots, that were very real, and there was not a lot of glossing over things that would be very difficult in reality, such as infertility, alcoholism and drugs. Henry is not the pristine protagonist that many would look for in a book. He has so much baggage and isn't always likable. But Clare makes him such a good man, and you are so busy rooting for him along the way, that it is hard to be annoyed at him when he is making stupid decisions.

A movie of this is being made, starring Eric Bana & Rachel McAdams, and will be released in December. Not sure how I feel about this. If you read the book, you will understand how complicated it would be to translate the depth of the book to screen. But I am also willing to give a try. Generally, I look at the film adaptation of a good book as an accessory for entertainment purposes only. Let's hope this one doesn't disappoint.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Movie: Kung Fu Panda

I wasn't dying to see Kung Fu Panda, even though I had heard such praise for it. With my husband being an animator, we usually see all the 3D movies in the theater, but they aren't always very good. Dreamworks animated movies seem to be hit-or-miss (love the first two Shrek movies, didn't love Madagascar so much). On top of that, there are so many movies out right now that I do want to see, but I agreed to see Kung Fu Panda because Sean really wanted to see it.

OK, I just rambled on and on. Here is what I thought of the movie: I liked it! Jack Black was great as Po. The character is really funny, and bumbling and nervous, and an ordinary Joe Schmo. Sean and I are amused at the "stunt casting" of voices for animated movies, considering it wouldn't really matter to a 6 year old if Jack Black plays the main character or not. I guess that is for those of us who watch these movies even though we don't have children and haven't been one ourselves in a decade or two. It is a guessing game of "whose voice is that?" In this movie, I had to guess: Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie (OK, I already knew those two), Seth Rogan, David Cross, Lucy Liu (I didn't actually guess hers) and Ian McShane. But the truth is, it would have been good anyway, because the story was good and the animation was good.

I highly recommend it if you have kids, but there might be parts that are a little scary for the tinier tots. I also recommend it for those of you that don't have kids and are considering seeing it anyway.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

SYTYCD - Top 18 Results Show

It is time again for us to say goodbye to "one girl and one guy" on So You Think You Can Dance. And we kick tonight's results show off with a Shane Sparks choreographed routine. I gotta say it was HOT!! Our hip hops got to take front and center and show us their stuff. And let's face it, I didn't even look at any of the other dancers in this number. I have missed Shane so far this season and am glad to have him back in a choreographing capacity, but I would love to see him either as a judge, or choreographing for one or two of our couples.

Nigel, Mary & Mia are all back on the judges stand, and thank goodness none of them have crimped hair tonight! Cat didn't waste any time getting the first three couples out on stage. Here is how it went!

Katee & Joshua - He is my favorite contestant right now, so I really root for them every week. And of course, they are SAFE!

Kherington & Twitch - I thought this was a beautiful performance, but to compare it to last year's Mia Michaels' "personal choreography", there could have been some hating from the public. However, Cat let's us know that that is not the case. They are SAFE!

Chelsie & Thayne - In thinking about their performance last night, I think they just didn't have the chemistry last night. I can see why they are the first couple in the BOTTOM 3! I am not complaining because 1) I called it and 2) I want to see their solos.

And now, our next set of 3 couples are on stage.

Chelsea & Mark - This was my favorite performance last night, and America agreed. They are SAFE!

Kourtni & Matt - I am hoping they are safe this week. I like them and I don't think Matt has a lack of personality like Nigel says. Fortunately, American liked them this week. SAFE!

Jessica & Will - They were bottom 3 last week and, although the judges go on and on about them (or mainly Will), I am not crazy about them. Plus, I don't like the Will-pushing, but I guess that America didn't mind either. They are SAFE! Sneaky announcement, Cat.

How come I just saw a commercial during the break that said "The best dance show on TV is back" talking about America's Best Dance Crew? That was wrong...

Susie & Marquis - I'm not a fan of them and would be surprised to hear they are not in the bottom 3. And I am not disappointed. BOTTOM 3!

Chris & Comfort - Between this couple and Courtney & Gev, Chris & Comfort are definitely bottom 3. I predicted last night they would be. And I love being right! BOTTOM 3.

Courtney & Gev - I was proud of Gev going out of his comfort zone. Glad they are SAFE!

Oh goodness, I am not a fan of Flamenco dancing, but perhaps I should be paying more attention. :) However, I am not use to seeing Flamenco without the flowy skirt.

I can do without the Snuggle on the Street performances.


Chelsie - Her thighs are unbelievable. She has too much charisma to be sent home tonight. And I think she could beat everyone else up with those muscles.

Thayne - I liked his solo but didn't think it was amazing. He is so jolly.

Susie - It was OK and just what I would have thought it would be. I hope she goes home.

Marquis - He has some impressive moves. I really liked his solo and he seemed to really lay it on the line.

Comfort - I was looking forward to her solo. While it wasn't spectacular, no way is she going home.

Chris - I thought he brought more emotion than Thayne, but I think it is between the two of them.

Up next, the Flo Rida performance. I realize they need it to fill time, but I am not often interested in seeing the musical performers on the results shows. Tonight is no exception. If I could FF, I would... Sorry Flo.

Now for our goodbyes. But first, we have to hear about Nigel's love for Kobe Bryan (??).

Going home:


Marquis - I guess he was just too "trick"-y.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

So You Think You Can Dance - Top 18 Perform

Let's get settled in for our second evening of performances. We are still too early on to know who our faves really are, so let's see if tonight's episode helps us to decide. The judges tonight are Nigel, Mary, and Mia.

Chelsea & Thayne - Jazz by Mandy Moore
I liked the idea and look of this dance, but then felt like the two of them didn't do much dancing for the first half of the performance. I really felt like the second half had a lot more movement. I don't know if it was the choreography (I usually love Mandy Moore) or just the dancers' performances, but it was clear their best feet were not forward. I agreed with Mary that Chelsea seemed a little uncomfortable. I do like both of the dancers. Thayne is a good looking guy, even if he was a bit over the top on the superstition.

Chelsie & Mark - Argentine Tango by Alex De Silva
Mark is goofy, but he looks like he would be good at being sexy with this type of dance, which I think is one of the most important things the dancers could bring to this dance. They are both very attractive people, looked the part, brought the tension. I thought all the leg movements were great. This dance was sizzling! Technically accurate? I don't know...but the judges say YES it was!

Jessica & Will - Hip Hop by Cisely & Olisa
This dance was alright. The choreography was good but I didn't feel like they hit it as hard as the choreography called for. Also, they weren't in sync a lot of the time. They did bring a certain amount of attitude it needed. I wasn't bored but didn't love it. The judges were all about Will, and while I do really like him in general, I didn't feel he deserved the level of praise he received for THIS dance.

Kourtni & Matt - Foxtrot by Jean-Marc Genereaux
These two don't do a good job of connecting with each other when they are on stage. They sometimes seem like they are dancing separately on the same stage. usually, I would say the Foxtrot isn't a good dance to get because it doesn't bring out the votes, but they needed a dance tat would allow for there long bodies not to seem as awkward as they did last week. Are they just too tall? While he is adorable, Matt is just too smiley. Alright to smile some, but not the whole time.

Courtney & Gev - Contemporary by Mandy Moore
I am still rooting for Gev, knowing what kind of dance he normally does. I know he is nervous about the partnering. But I thought it was really good. I thought they had great chemistry and reflected the emotion of the routine well. I really liked it. It may not have been 100% technically accurate, but they did their jobs.

Katee & Joshua - Broadway by Tyce Diorio
There was a lot of pressure on this pair from me, since they were my favorite couple last week. I thought Joshua was great. I just didn't like Katee (I'm not sure the judges were watching the same Katee that I was). And she seems to be smiling the whole time, even when it isn't appropriate in the dance. It had great energy and certainly fit the Broadway bill.

Susie & Marquis - Salsa by Alex De Silva
This pairing has to overcome my dislike for Susie, and apparently Alex's disappointment in her abilities. Ouch. They were not in sync as much as I felt like they should have been. It DID look like a really hard routine and I am sure they were both very intimidated. Marquis did a good job (better than Susie, IMO), with my only complaint about him being that I felt like he almost went over the top with it. In the words of Randy Jackson, "It was just OK for me."

Kherington & Twitch - Viennese Waltz by Jean-Marc Genereaux
The story behind this choreography was really heart-wrenching, but I think that it makes it more likely that the dancers can bring the appropriate level of emotion to the dance and pull it off that much better. I really liked this performance. I loved how flowy it was and was surprised at how well Twitch seemed to do with this style of dance. Sean said, "Hey look at Twitch back there with the spins!" We were impressed, even if it wasn't technically good. I was surprised with all the over-smilers on this show, that Mia chose Kherington to complain about. It really was a very emotional 10 minutes and I even teared up a bit.

Comfort & Chris - Krump by Lil' C
For starters, I am not a big fan of shortening Little to Lil'. I just needed to get that off my chest. Before they start, I am thinking that Chris won't be able to pull this off. I really want him to, though. He did better than I thought, but there was a a bit too much trying for him. Comfort is such a natural that it makes it that much more obvious with Chris NOT being a natural. I never needed to see Nigel grab his crotch or say "Mama I wanna pee-pee." Never.

My favorite performance of the night:
Chelsie & Mark's Argentine Tango

My lease favorite performance of the night:
Susie & Marquis's Salsa

My guess for the bottom 3 couples:
Chelsea and Thayne
Susie & Marquis
Comfort & Chris

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Alanis Morissette - Flavors of Entanglement

I bought Alanis Morissette's new CD Flavors of Entanglement on Tuesday, the day it was released. If you know me very well, you know that I love Alanis. I have enjoyed the evolution of her music over the years, and the less radio-play the CD is likely to get, the more I love her. But I can certainly remember many a time, my junior and senior years of high school, jamming to her Jagged Little Pill tape in my Honda hatchback, Fiona. That album is still arguably her best, but she has not received enough credit for her 3 (now 4) follow-ups.

Alanis Morissette is one of the best in the business of writing "through" the things that happen in her life, and therefore, her music is highly personal, emotional, famously angry, nostalgic. It is pretty obvious what affected the song-writing process for this album. My husband and I both stated that we felt almost uncomfortable listening to her music because it was like we were getting too much personal information.

My favorite songs on this album (so far, since my favorites change over time) are the starting-over tune Not As We, the reminiscent Torch, and the low-self-esteemer Tapes (see Unsexy and That I Would Be Good from previous albums). There are some dance-y beats on this album, too, and I like them.

I recommend the itunes Deluxe Edition album as it comes with 5 extra tracks, a couple of which are really great (Madness & Limbo No More)

This album, while better than So-Called Chaos, still hasn't reached the level of Under Rug Swept and Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie, but that may be that I just haven't listened to it enough. The truth is, Alanis does little wrong in my eyes (or ears).

Broadway Recap, Better Late Than Never

In honor of the Tony Awards tonight, I decided it is high time I post my thoughts on some shows I saw last month on a girls' trip with my mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and almost-sister-in-law. I got wrapped up in other things and never got back around to this post. And now, it makes even more sense, since this is the first time I have ever actually seen a new show that could even be considered for an award. Three of the four I saw were new, and therefore, got at least a couple of nominations.

Young Frankenstein - This show didn't get the best reviews, and was over-looked for the Tony for best Musical this year, but that didn't stop us from seeing it. My almost-sister-in-law really wanted to see it, so we decided to go for it. I would say this was the favorite show among the four of us. It was fun, the biggest "production", silly, and in classic Mel Brooks style. The stand-out performances for me were Megan Mullally (Karen from Will & Grace) as Elizabeth, Christopher Fitzgerald (nominated for Best Featured Actor in a Musical) as Igor, and Andrea Martin (nominated for Best Featured Actress in a Musical) as Frau Blucher. We had Roger Bart's understudy, and while I would have loved to see him in the title role, the US Jon Patrick Walker did a fine job. Puttin' on the Ritz was the best performance, as it brought out a large number of dancers and had some impressive special effects, on top of being pretty funny. Really fun.

One instance was odd and amusing. The stage went dark for a scene change, and as the music started, the set did not come out. They stopped and restarted the song and again, the set was a no show. The lights came up and the director (well, who I assume is the director) stepped out to tell us there was a technical problem. All-in-all it took less than 10 minutes. The lights went down and the music swelled and...the cottage (which had seemingly gotten stuck off stage) appeared on stage. The actor (Fred Applegate) who was sitting in it when the lights came up handled the situation with style by saying, "Sorry I am late. I missed my first cottage and had to catch a local." To which the crowd erupted in laughter and hollers of approval. Then he proceeded to his performance. He was very popular during the curtain call as well.

I can see why this did not live up to the expectations people would have for a new Mel Brooks musical, after the popularity of The Producers. My biggest problem was that the songs were just not memorable. They advanced the story, but they didn't prompt me to want to buy the cast recording or to hum along to them later. The only memorable one is Puttin' on the Ritz, which we all know was not written for this musical in the first place.

Boeing - Boeing - These were last minute tickets bought at a discount. And what do you know? We happened to be going on opening night. There was a number of names in this one but we didn't know what to expect after seeing it described as a sex farce. According to the woman sitting next to us, farce is the most difficult theatrical genre to pull off. The first act was a little slow in the setup, but the second act paid off. It was a lot of slap-stick kind of goofy and physical comedy. And once you got used to it, the whole thing was just a lot of laughs.

While I have never heard of him, Shakespearean actor Mark Rylance easily stole the show with his goofy Midwestern character Robert. His Tony nomination was well-deserved, and while I haven't seen any of the other nominated actors, I would believe he deserved it if he won. Christine Baranski was great, but her French accent took some getting used to. Bradley Whitford was a little odd in this kind of role. I think he pulled it off, but I had a hard time adjusting to him being a laid back playboy. Mary McCormack was hilarious as the German flight attendant Gretchen.

November - I am not a fan of political satire. This show was funny. The number of F-words dropped in a short amount of time was slightly awkward as I was sitting next to my mother-in-law during this show. But she picked it out and was interested to see Nathan Lane, who was funny in the show. Laurie Metcalf was great as the President's speech-writer. Not my style, but well-done no less.

Curtains - This is the only show that wasn't new for 2008, and going in we knew that David Hyde Pierce had won the Tony for his performance in this last year, so we were pleased to get to see him on stage. I liked Curtains. Didn't LOVE it but liked it. It was fun and the setting of "a murder investigation on the set of a musical" allowed for some campy old school numbers (like the saloon-stomping Thataway) and some sweeter ballads (Thinking of Him and I Miss the Music, as well as the reprise of the two together, later in the show). David Hyde Pierce was a pleasure to see and had good comedic timing. I was most impressed by Jason Danieley (Aaron) and Karen Ziemba (Georgia). This is a good show to see as a family, or if you are seeing something with your mother-in-law, for example... It has a real old-school feel to it.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Battlestar Galactica - Revelations

I just finished watching this episode, and wanted to write my thoughts immediately so as not to forget anything. So I'll get right to it.

Tory - First, it is revealed that the four Cylons in the fleet would have to reveal themselves and come over to the Basestar or the human hostages on the Basestar would be killed. Tory goes immediately, without one single human suspecting why she would go. Her excuse was to give medicine to the President. It seemed obvious to me, but I knew she was a Cylon. The BSG crew just thought she really cared for the Prez. Hey, at least she gave her the medication.

Music - I have to give credit to Bear McCreary. I don't usually pay any attention to the composition in the background, but it was certainly hard to ignore in this episode. Multiple times while watching, I actually caught myself thinking, "Wow! Great music for the scene!" Plus, I love the use of voices to go with the instruments.

Tigh & Adama - We knew Sol was going to tell Adama he was a Cylon, but how could we know that Adama would react the way he did. First, trying to convince Sol he was wrong. Then his anger. It was just devastating seeing him a mess in the floor, with Lee having to console him, and try to talk some sense into him. It was so well-acted by all three of these actors in what I would assume was an incredibly difficult series of scenes to film. In addition, I really love Sol Tigh and was so proud of him for fessing up, even if it was too little, too late.

Baltar - Gaius was actually useful in this episode. His time has come to step up and help the fleet. And while he doesn't ultimately save anyway, he delays Deanna's decision long enough for Kara to stop Lee from airlocking the three Cylons.

The Viper - The Cylons DID lead the way to earth, just like the Hybrid predicted. And Kara was there to help them out. Thank the gods she saw it when she did, so our three favorite Cylons didn't get flushed out the airlock.

The Alliance - I have kind of expected a big alliance of "let's find earth together" to come. And it did. And while I kind of felt like Lee did a 180 a little to quickly, I will just assume that he and Kara and probably the Admiral discussed this a bit first. I was relieved the four Cylons received amnesty (well, maybe not Tory).

Um, They found earth! - How could you not tear up a bit when Adama announced to the fleet that they had made it, after several years, so many deaths, so much doubt. It was awesome when they turned the camera and the fleet was sitting just outside the earth's atmosphere.

Aw crap! - Well, good news: They found earth. Bad news: Earth sucks. Yeah, it has been destroyed in what looks like World War III. I can't help but think of the Book of Revelation in the Bible where God revealed many things about Jesus Christ to John, including the coming apocalypse. Was "Revelations" as the episode title used on purpose when we discover that the BSG fleet arrives at a post-apocalyptic earth? I see a hint of a double-meaning (at least!).

This was a GREAT episode, and I have no idea how I will wait another 8-10 months for the rest of this "season." But fortunately, the cliffhanger was overshadowed by the reveal. This was an excellent mid-season finale. See you next season...

I just watched the BSG mid-season finale

And it was amazing. No spoilers here, as most people will be waiting to watch it tonight, but Battlestar Galactica writers/actors/composers certainly don't disappoint! My thoughts to come (when they won't be so spoiler-y).

Thursday, June 12, 2008

SYTYCD - Results Show (Top 20)

Darn that Google Reader. It is great for reducing my surfing time, but not good for avoiding spoilers! I accidentally found out who was eliminated from So You Think You Can Dance before the episode even started here. But I am still enthusiastic about this episode. So let's go!

First we had the group performance, choreographed by Wade Robson, my favorite choreographer on the show. He is so edgy, and while is style is pretty recognizable, it is really his own. I think we need several more elimination rounds before the group is good enough to pull off a routine with so many hard hitting moves.

Now, onto the Bottom Three announcements (What is with the wonky camera moves?).

Bottom Three Couples:

Kourtni & Matt - Bottom 3
Rayven & Jamie - Bottom 3
Jessica & Will - Bottom 3


Kourtni - I liked her solo. She should be safe.
Matt - His solo was good. He needs to work on the smiling all the time. He must be really happy. But for how long and lean he is, this is so interesting to watch.
Rayven - It was okay, but I wasn't crazy about it. I don't love ballet.
Jamie - This was a turnoff, and reiterated my first impression of him: that I don't like him. Or in other words, Gag-a-maggot.
Jessica - The song choice was weird to me, but I liked her dancing.
Will - His was by far my favorite solo tonight. He seems to put so much of himself into his dancing. Loved him.

After the solos, while the judges deliberated, the viewers were forced to listen to a horrendous performance by the Pussy Cat Dolls. Please, Fox, never force me to see something like that again.

Going home:



Wednesday, June 11, 2008

SYTYCD - Top 20 Perform (Finally!)

I have said this about 5 times since I moved out here, but for all TV purposes, I hate living on the west coast. I hate being three hours behind my friends in watching TV, and I had really gotten used to prime time starting at 7 instead of 8. It is a real adjustment, and I am still bitter. All that to say my friends had already posted their blogs as I was just sitting down to watch last night's episode. On top of that, I have no DVR and was forced to type as I watched. This was VERY distracting (no pause or re watch capabilities). Now that I have finished my whining, you can read my rushed scatterbrained thoughts below.

I am a huge fan of So You Think You Can Dance?, starting from episode one, season one (I like to reiterate this as most people I know didn't watch season one). But I have been REALLY excited about this season starting ever since they performed on Idol Gives Back. But, for me, the season doesn't officially start until the first night of competition.

Rayven (ballet) & Jamie (west coast swing) - Hip Hop by Napoleon & Tabitha
Based on first impressions from the package video, I don't like Jamie. I just get a weird feel from him. Rayven seems cool, though. I enjoyed the choreography but didn't think it was very edgy. I guess I just don't really know Napoleon & Tabitha's choreography, but I will try to get used to it. And Jamie surprised me. I didn't expect him to pull it off and I thought he was good. His hat hid his face "pulls" (I think they called it), which is the most annoying thing that these ballroom dancers and swingers bring to the table (see Mark Ballas on Dancing with the Stars for reference). Rayven was alright, but not amazing to me. Could I have done without his blue underwear crotch grab? Probably. Did the dance make me like him more than I did initially? Definitely.

Susie (salsa) & Marquis (contemporary) - Smooth Waltz by Hunter Johnson
It is nice to see Susie with some clothes on. She is actually very pretty. Marquis is not the most masculine of dancers, which I think he needs to be for this dance. The lifts were awkward and I kept thinking she would fall. This is just a hard dance for anyone, but to be the first ones to do on the first episode seems tough. I don't think the Waltz is ever good at making people call in their votes.

Kourtni L. (contemporary) & Matt (contemporary) - Jazz by Mandy Moore
I am a huge Mandy Moore fan (see boardroom dance from last year). They are both so long and tall. I mean really long! Loved the style of the routine and the costumes. I thought it was pretty good. They seem awkward on the floor (or at least for this style of dance) for which I blame their long-ness. Nigel had a point about Matt seeming a little stick-up-the-butt, but was perhaps a little mean.

Chelsea T. (contemporary) & Thayne (contemporary) - Cha Cha by Tony Meredith (& Melanie)
Thayne looks like a mix of Nick Lazzarini (season 1 winner) and Benji Schwimmer (season 2 winner) to me. I felt like Chelsea was very commanding of the viewers' attention. She was the focal point. Thayne is a cutie, but probably not very well on display here. Overall, I felt like they tackled their first foray into Latin dancing very well. Good hip action! Both of them have loads of personality and seem like really fun performers. THAT is what brings out the votes.

Chelsie H. (ballroom) & Mark (contemporary) - Contemporary by Mia Michaels
Lucky lucky! They got Mia. That always makes you a shoe-in for votes early on. For being "Tim Burton's wedding", I thought it was very beautiful to watch, and the music really vamped up the emotion. Chelsie was surprisingly good at contemporary choreography. I liked Mark. He is a good-looking guy.

Kherington (contemporary jazz) & Twitch (free-style) - Broadway by Tyce Diorio
I really like Tyce and enjoy his Broadway choreography. For me, Kherington was ALL Broadway, while Twitch was still just a hip hop dancer doing Broadway. Not that he was bad, but standing next to her, it was just more obvious. Kherington has some serious star quality. And it was just a really fun routine. I have read many-a-blogger that really hate Kherington. Not sure why, but I am not jumping on that bandwagon until I get proof. She is a cute girl.

Comfort (hip hop) & Chris (contemporary) - Jive with Tony Meredith (and Melanie)
I am really hoping these two do well because they are both from the Dallas area (and I promised my friend Kristin I would vote for Chris). Comfort has some legs on her! Here again, I felt like Comfort was the main focal point and that Chris was more there to show her off. I just couldn't take my eyes off of her and personality is great. She is hilarious. I don't know that she was technically so great, but the pair of them was fun to watch. I agreed with Dan that they need to have chemistry together and not just be good individual performers.

Katee (contemporary) & Joshua (hip hop) - Hip Hop by Napoleon & Tabitha
The idea behind this dance was that he is leaving for war and this is their goodbye dance. I was impressed at how good the two of them were at expression the emotion of that. It was so good. I knew Joshua would be good at hip hop, and this choreography was great. Loved it. Katee was impressive, too. But I can't say I watched her all that much. I was staring at him the whole time. What a sweetheart he is.

Jessica (contemporary) & Will (contemporary) - Tango by Hunter Johnson
I am just awful at knowing when certain dances are done technically well, but I know if I enjoyed it and if the pair had chemistry. Check and check. My fave of the night? No, but good no less. The choreography was really good and looked very difficult.

Courtney G. (contemporary) & Gev (B-boy) - Disco by Doriana Sanchez
I expected Courtney to be good at this type of choreography (or any choreography based on her package video), but I wasn't expecting much from Gev. He is a ice skating hip hopper or something, right? I was rooting for him because his individual style is so different. Nigel was a little tough on the two of them. The truth is that I didn't blame the dancers but the choreographer here. I have never been a fan of Doriana Sanchez. I don't find her routines to be as technically difficult or exciting. They are more just a vomiting of Saturday Night Fever onto the floor. Yes, that was mean. One exception: Neil & Sara's disco routine from last season.

My favorite so far: Joshua & Katee, if I had to pick now.
My lease favorite so far: I can't say yet. I need to see some more.

I thought that, overall, the performances were really good for the first episode of the season. I am not ready to proclaim love or hate for any person or couple. Should be an interesting season!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

LOST Re-watch - All Four Seasons!

I am attempting to join in on SpoilerTV's LOST 4 season re-watch over the course of the next 8 months until our favorite show returns. One episode down!

I watched the pilot episode last night for the first time since its original airing in September of 2004 (easy to remember when, as it was the date of the now-infamous plane crash). Knowing all that we now certainly makes for a completely different viewing experience this time around. I felt like there was a completely new layer to the story that I wouldn't have been able to fathom 4 years ago. Go to SpoilerTV, watch along and read the comments. It is really fun!

In the meantime, it will be hard to keep myself from watching a bunch of episodes all at once as the schedule only has us watching 2-3 eps per week to make it last through next spring. But it is summer, and all I have to watch is So You Think You Can Dance! What to do??

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Book: The Grapes of Wrath

Somehow, I made it through AP English as a high school senior without reading any John Steinbeck. A few years back, I opted to read East of Eden because I had seen a clip of the movie (I am a big James Dean fan) and the subject appealed to me. East of Eden became one of my all-time favorite books. Knowing that The Grapes of Wrath is seen as Steinbeck's finest novel, and most likely the reason he was awarded the Nobel Prize, I thought I should give it a go.

I enjoy reading "classic" literature, but I don't read it just so that I can say I have. I want to enjoy it. And if I don't, then I won't continue reading it. This novel was a hard one for me to read. Having just come off of several current action-packed, fast-paced novels, Grapes shoved me into slow motion. Which is fitting, considering the content of the story.

The novel is written in an interesting narrative fashion, where every other chapter is story progression, and the chapters in between are more general commentaries on the situation at the time. These "in between" chapters make for better understanding of the situation across the board, and that more than just the story's family, the Joads, are affected. That is to say that you could read the story much faster if you skimmed over or skipped these chapters altogether, but you would be missing out on an important aspect of the story.

I feel like I just wrote a paper for school or something. This wasn't my favorite book ever. In fact, it wasn't my favorite John Steinbeck novel. I am sure it says something about my reading tastes, but I preferred East of Eden. I liked the inter-relational subject matter and familial turmoil of that story, where this was more about the external events affecting the internal outcome. The story ends rather abruptly, and while I got the gist that nothing could kill the human spirit, I just found it wanting and lonely feeling. I still feel like this book is well worth reading and very telling about the times in which it was written.

Stay tuned for the movie review as I have it saved on my Tivo.

Movie: August Rush

I watched August Rush last night. And to tell the truth, it was just not a movie I was really interested in. I mean, it looked rather cheesy and predictable. And I don't think I can see another movie with Robin Williams in it. Good Will Hunting was the last one...

For some reason, however, I still added it to my online movie queue, and I have to say, I really enjoyed it.
Cheese? Check. Predictability? Check. But let's look at the positives here.

Freddie Highmore as the title character - I have really liked him since he played the recorder with his nostrils on Ellen while promoting Finding Neverland (which I had not seen at the time, but watching the movie sealed the deal). He is a fantastic actor and really adorable to boot.

Music - The entire story revolved around music and I really enjoyed the performances in the film. Jonathan Rhys Meyers did all his own singing, and the rumor that he is going to be releasing his own album is welcome news. Which leads me to my next point:

Keri Russell & Jonathan Rhys Meyers - They were great as the young people who spend one night together, and then years pining for each other. I have, of course, been a fan of hers since Felicity, and she is just so beautiful. And, then how could I not love JRM after Bend It Like Beckham? Love his accent.

All in all, I knew exactly how it would ultimately end, but I really enjoyed the story as it progressed. I was rooting for August and cried at the end. Robin Williams didn't play a funny character and was bearable. I also really like Terrance Howard. The cast was great and this was a nice feel-good, family movie. Don't have amazingly high expectations for story-telling, and you can enjoy it, too.

BSG - The Hub

Well, only one more episode of Battlestar Galactica before the "mid-season finale."I will be sad without it for another 8 or so months, but let's not focus on that. Let's think about this week's episode.

I am not too sure what to say about this episode. I was SO tired watching it last night that I was worried I was missing stuff, but I managed to stay awake. I zonked out right after, and did not enjoy my usual mental discussion with myself afterward. Here are just a few quick thoughts that I had about last night's episode:

1) Come on, did anyone think that all those humans on the Cylon baseship were dead? Of course not! I was so glad when they jumped to where Husker was in the Raptor. It was a sweet moment between Roslin and Adama.

2) Roslin is really going to let Baltar die! I genuinely thought it would be a nice twist if Baltar died, especially at the hands of Roslin. It would also show us who she has become over the course of her time as President. But I also would have been devastated. Baltar, while completely repugnant, is also one of my favorite characters, and I would be disappointed for him to die such a useless death.

3) Baltar telling the Centurion about God was hysterical. They way he was doing it as though it was not a completely one-sided conversation was just really amusing to me. But who knows what kind of door he just opened? I guess this really is a look at the argument of free will.

4) I was waiting for Helo to defy Roslin's orders and give the Unboxed Three to the Cylons. He isn't about screwing over his allies, and he probably has a really hard time deciphering the other Sharons from his Athena. And, by the way, who wanted to smack those annoying pilots complaining about the Cylons? I get why, but they were very obnoxious.

5) So that was the only Resurrection Hub? I thought there were multiple hubs, but I might be wrong. Either way, it is really significant. I liked when that Deanna announced that she was the only Three left in the entire universe. Makes you feel pretty special, huh? And of course she wouldn't just tell Roslin what she wanted to hear. Not the best plan...

But more importantly, the trailer for next week's episode looks AMAZING!! Sol telling Adama "I am a Cylon." The almost air-locking of three of my faveorite characters (say it ain't so! Where is the mercy here?).

Can't. Wait.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

So You Think You Can Dance is back... and so am I!

I have been a little slow on the blogging lately as I have moved across the country and been completely overwhelmed by all that it entails. But I am headed back into it full force, now that I am getting settled back down.

And to kick things off, I will discuss my summer obsession (for going on 4 summers): So You Think You Can Dance. Yes, every blogger I know has already discussed it in detail. But I just have to say my own piece.

Even my husband was excited that it is Vegas week and that we are seeing our top 20 tonight! Vegas week started with a hip hop routine by Napoleon & Tabitha (cutting it down to 129), followed by a Broadway routine choreographed by Tyce Diorio (narrowing it down to 94 contestants). The choreography looks tough so I am glad to see the contestants are being put through the ringer in order to get on the show. Next up was Jean Marc Genereaux with a ballroom routine (glad Joshua from Dallas is still in the running, and makes it through ballroom (and he is a crier)!).

New shocker this season: Remaining contestants will be divided into groups and must choreograph a dance to a given piece of music. This is a great new twist! Of course, it adds to the drama and stress. But it helps us to see how these people will hold up over 9 weeks of actual competition. All-in-all, the group choreography performances seem to be less than stellar, save a couple.

And next, what looks like a really hard Mia Michaels contemporary routine... I love Mia's choreography. It is like she makes the human body do things it isn't intended to do. But it is really beautiful to watch.

Up next was solos for all the remaining contestants.

And now for the TOP TWENTY. It's time for the competition, people!

Shoot! Darn my lack of DVR. Please see Emily's list of the top 20 for details on who's who. And now Ducky's got individual photos and bios up here.


Joshua (home town boy!)


Comfort (home town girl!)