Tuesday, September 30, 2008

e's on "Lost!"


Ha, suckas... made you look!

First and foremost, you should all realize by now that if I ever got the chance to actually be on my favorite TV show, Lost, you would never hear from me again because I would've died from Extreme Happiness shortly thereafter.

So, no... unfortunately I'm not talking about appearing on the television series Lost ... I'm talking about being in the music video for Coldplay's upcoming single, "Lost!" (They put the annoying exclamation point in the title, not me. And for the record, I still prefer the slower version of the song, entitled "Lost?")

The song will be released on November 10th, and you can see the video, shot at the concert I attended this summer at the United Center, here.

If you look closely you can totally see me in the crowd. I have brown hair and am wearing a gray top. If you can't spot me... well, I have bad news - I think a trip to the optometrist is in store for you. Sorry.

- e

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Critical Mass Bikers: "Happy Friday"? Really? That's the Best You've Got?

On Friday night I was making a Walgreens stop when I heard a huge commotion outside. The guy at the cash register and I both craned our necks to see what was going on -- it looked like a disorderly parade of bikes was passing by. "They all have clothes on, at least," I observed. "Have you ever seen the Naked Bike Ride?" He was lucky enough to have escaped witnessing that awful spectacle. Yeah, I'm all for weaning the country off of its oil dependency, but exactly how does streaking through the streets of Chicago on two wheels help that cause? Especially when hardly any riders have signs explaining what the ride is about?

But I digress. Back to Friday night...

I paid for my stuff and stepped out into the night. The bikes were still passing. And I'm not talking dozens. I'm not even talking hundreds. I'm pretty sure there were thousands of bikers snaking down my street. There was no regard to traffic signals or cars or people trying to cross at intersections -- everyone participating was just hell-bent on keeping up with each other.

A few bikes had small trailers that held stereos and speakers, but just regular music was playing... there was no "message" that I could make out. The only thing the people participating in the ride seemed to have in common, besides being on bikes, was that every once in a while they would shout out "Happy Friday!"

Finally, I took my life in my hands and dashed across the street when I saw a small break in the procession. Intrigued to find out what in the heck was going on, I googled "Happy Friday bike ride Chicago" as soon as I was safely in my condo (this was about ten full minutes after I first heard the bikers' shouts from inside Walgreens and there was still a trickle of people bringing up the rear of the ride). All signs pointed to the fact that I had just witnessed a Critical Mass event (not to be confused with the digital agency of the same name... shout-out to SS!).

Critical Mass is a loose-knit organization of bikers who hold rides around major cities across the world. They claim to have no real agenda other than to "take back the streets" for a few hours each month and celebrate cycling. As a person who enjoys a bike ride every now and then and who doesn't own a car, I have to say that while I understand the thrill of riding through the city, semi-protected by a pack of other bikers, I still don't get the point. There are city-supported rides, like the L.A.T.E Ride (which I've done a few times) that achieve the same goal and offer police protection and the closure of roads for motorists. There's the Lake Shore Drive bike path that spans miles and miles down the coast. Why interrupt traffic and risk getting killed (or getting somebody else injured) by taking over the streets the last Friday of every month for no good reason? You all know that I like to rebel against The Man, but this just makes no sense to me.

Have any of you out there ever seen a Critical Mass ride? I actually can't believe I've been here the better part of 12 years and wasn't clued in. Have any of you out there ever participated in one? I promise I won't judge, but I am curious about your motivations...

- e

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Somebody's Listening...

My dreams may be coming true! Remember when I wrote in Sunday's post that Ricky Gervais should host the Emmys next year? Well, the buzz around Hollywood this week is that he may be tapped to host the Oscars. Straight to the big leagues, baby!

I guess I wasn't the only one who noticed that Ricky's bit with Steve Carell was pretty much the only funny moment of the night. Plus, he's British, and everyone is a sucker for that accent. On top of that, a lot of stars appeared on his HBO/BBC series Extras, so he's already "in" with the right crowd. I'm calling it now - it's gonna happen - David Brent (the original Michael Scott from The Office) will be hosting the Oscars come February 22nd. Yay!

On that note, if you like the U.S. version of The Office - don't forget that it's premiering tonight (as is Survivor). Further, I just checked out The Office's web site, and they have an awesome mini-putt golf game online, although the cheesy elevator music does get kind of old. But of course, the real thing is still better.

- e

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

e's Favorite Things: Putt-Putt Golf

Playing putt-putt, or mini-golf -- or whatever else you want to call it -- is one of my fondest childhood memories. There was this sweet course near my Grandma's house that went all out with crazy landscapes and themes. One area of the course was based on nursery rhymes, and they had a giant (fake) spider that would intermittently drop down to cover the hole (from Little Miss Muffet, I assume). This thing was the size of a child, so you can only imagine how scary/cool it would be for kids. There was another area where you had to hit the ball up a huge ramp that was surrounded by the Seven Dwarfs on either side -- I loved that one. Some holes required you to hit the ball into underground tunnels that would eventually empty back out onto the green in a random location. Others had extensive waterworks you had to maneuver around. The more elaborate the set-up, the more I got a thrill out of the experience.

It had literally been years since I had picked up a golf club, so one of my goals for this summer was to finally get out to the small miniature golf course that is walking distance from my condo (I realize this isn't a very hard or impressive goal, but still). Summer came and went, and I never found the time to go over there. But thankfully it is still 80 degrees outside and the place is still open, so finally, this past Sunday, my husband and I played.

I can't lie and say that the course was cool, because it was actually fairly lame. And good thing I didn't find out about the rat problem until after we went. But they did have 18 holes, and while there were absolutely no frills or unique aspects to any of the greens, it was fun. Even though I lost.

Whenever I get to Vegas again I may have to check out this elaborate glow-in-the-dark course that I came across online. I have seen those in a few other places as well, but have never given them a shot. Now that I have gotten a little practice in, I'm sure I'll be unbeatable the next time I play...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Ma-Oh-No-Lo You Didn't Pay $900 For Those Shoes?!?

This past weekend, two sorority sisters (EA and Dangerous D) came to stay with me in Chicago, and we had a Girls' Weekend right out of Sex and the City. But we didn't actually plan it that way...

The fun began after my guests flew into Chicago on Friday afternoon... we went to an Irish pub for a drink and a snack, then to EA's brother's place for some wine and a wonderful rooftop view of Wrigley Field, and then to trendy restaurant Rockit to meet up with a few more friends from college for a late dinner.

The next morning, we stumbled out onto Michigan Avenue in a relaxed daze after having wonderful massages (technically, E and D each had a "cocoon") at Kiva Spa. Our intent was to browse the various stores lining The Magnificent Mile, but when we strolled into Neiman Marcus, we saw this sign:

"Wait a second, that's today!" I realized. "What time is it?" It just so happened to be 12:30, so we figured we should stick around to see the man... the myth... the legend behind Carrie Bradshaw's beloved shoes.

The scene in the "shoe salon" was hilarious. They had a regal area set up for Mr. Blahnik, boxes of his shoes lined the walls, party music was blasting, and tons of women formed a line that snaked around the floor in order to meet the designer and get the bottoms of their stiletto heels signed.

Waiters were roaming around, doling out champagne, sparkling water and cookies (complete with shoe designs made of colored frosting). There were even Shoe Valets that Dangerous D took a liking to:

E, D and I watched the mayhem a small distance from the roped-off line... 1 PM came and went and the excitement in the air was palpable. There really is something to be said for the infectious power of crowds... I have never bought a designer shoe in my life, yet suddenly I absolutely HAD to see this man. I felt almost ashamed... "He's just a shoe designer?!?" I said to my friends, "It's not like this guy has found the cure to cancer or something?!?" They agreed, but we were too vested in our quest to leave, despite our growling stomachs.

While waiting for Manolo to arrive, we met a lady whose daughter was in line. This woman had previously purchased the $900 pair of shoes that Carrie wore in the Sex and the City movie for her daughter so that she could show them off at her upcoming wedding. And now Manolo was going to sign them, to boot. E said to the woman, "Your daughter should sell them on eBay after the wedding, I bet she could make a lot of money." The lady stared back at us in disbelief, as if we had just smacked her across the face. "She would never, ever SELL them??!!? She's going to pass them down -- they will be passed down for generations!"

We shut up after that. Here are the infamous heels:

Finally, around 1:40 PM, we heard the Neiman Marcus employees start buzzing that Manolo was in the building and would arrive at any second. And sure enough, moments later he swooped onto the floor in a blaze of purple glory, headed to his post, and the frenzy began. Below is an eight-second clip of him signing the Carrie Shoes, followed by a still shot of him in the crowd:

By far, the best part of the whole experience was seeing his crazy shoes. You know what they say about a picture being worth a thousand words?

Finally, we had to give in to our hunger and go get some lunch. Once we were safely away from the crowd of women in designer outfits and stilettos, we couldn't help but laugh at what we looked like. I, for one, wore an old white t-shirt, crappy cargo pants and tennis shoes, and on top of having barely any makeup on because we had just come from the spa, I also had Hannibal Lecter-mask-looking marks all over my forehead from the support pillow my face was crushed into during my massage. We decided to take a picture of our own shoes in order to keep it real:

I'm sure if Manolo caught a glimpse of our footwear, this would've been his reaction:

Our fun weekend continued with a stop at the Sex and the City DVD release party later that same night... check out redblog for the recap of that experience either later today or tomorrow!

- e

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Emmys: Instant Reactions

I Tivo'd The Emmy Awards tonight so that I could start watching it an hour into the show and just forward through the commercials and lame parts. Now, re-reading this post after the show is over, I gotta admit that what I had to say was pretty lackluster because the show was beyond boring. I couldn't take a lemon and make lemonade with this one, sorry!

But, since I already wrote it all out... here are my stream-of-consciousness thoughts:

- It's been a while since I watched Oprah, so maybe I missed something, but Ms. Winfrey's voice sounds really weird to me. What's up with that?
- Ugh, how awkward is this beginning with the reality hosts? I'm seriously reconsidering watching the rest of the show now. And they wonder why it always runs so long... just get into the awards already! (By the way, I didn't even know who that one guy was -- not Ryan, not Howie, not Jeff, but the other guy. Who is that? Did they actually say which show each one of them hosted?)
- So many good choices for the Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy (yeah, I know it's technically called the "Outstanding" Supporting Actor, but you know they really mean "Best" and I refuse to be that PC)! But I'm glad Ari won. I couldn't help but think that Drama looked a little bit miffed, though. Life imitates art.
- What was the point of showing that Seinfeld clip? Just to introduce Elaine? (Yeah, I'm going to use character names throughout this whole thing wherever I can, if you haven't noticed.) Are they going to keep doing that with the unnecessary clips? Once again, time waster!
- Didn't care about any of the Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy nominees.
- I still hate Desperate Housewives. Always have, always will. I forwarded through all of that crap.
- OK, time to get serious... Best Supporting Actor in a Drama. Ben better win!!?! DAMMIT, HE BETTER WIN!!! I can't stand the suspense... I can't stand it... ugh, so sick of Shatner... get to the winner! Please have it be Ben... and it is.... WHO? I have no idea who that dude is. Ben was robbed! Seriously, who is that dude. What is Damages??!?! Is this a prank?
- Well, at least Ricky Gervais, aka David Brent, is making the pain of Ben's loss a little bit easier to bear. How can Steve Carell remain straight-faced?!?! I love it! Wow, it just gets better and better! ATTENTION EMMY PEEPS: Have Ricky Gervais host next year.
- My husband just joined me and noticed that Conan O'Brien's voice is not perfectly synced with his lip movement. Aww, crap, they better fix that or it will bug me for the next 2.5 hours. Maybe it's on purpose -- like a delay in case someone swears?
- Don't care about any of the Best Supporting Actresses in a Drama.
- Wow, Jennifer Love Hewitt AND Hayden P. presenting together? Two of my LEAST favorite celebrities - my head might explode.
- Oh, yay! I always love the clips they have to show the writing teams for the comedy shows. Conan's was the best (with him and Angelina and ten bazillion kids). I'm sad The Daily Show didn't win. I'm calling right now that they win next year, though.
- Could Howie Mandel BE any more annoying?
- I watched about ten seconds of Josh Groban's theme song medley... ten seconds too many. I know he's a fine singer and all, I just don't like his voice -- it's too old for his face and it sounds like he should be an opera singer. Wait, Animal from The Muppet Show is playing drums! And then he was abducted by an alien. That was kind of cool.
- OK, phew. Alec Baldwin is now on stage. Aww, he's presenting something lame. Fast-forward!
- Cool, The Daily Show won for Best Variety/Comedy/Whatever award.
- What? LC is presenting?!? I am embarrassed for this show.
- I don't watch Pushing Daisies, but I was happy to see Lee Pace, who I fell in love with in The Fall. SO CUTE!
- Whoa, LC is still up there?!? But who cares, Tina Fey won - rock on, girlfriend!
- OK, finally another one I care about (I forwarded through a lot since my above comment...): Best Reality Show... The Amazing Race wins again. Six years in a row, wow. But it's a great show, it deserves it. Geez, if I hadn't been watching The Emmys I wouldn't have even known that it comes back on the air next Sunday (I just googled its premiere date. Set your Tivos again... your old season pass won't still work for this show.) I don't really know what happened while they were accepting their award... some guy shouted something and then everyone was ushered off of the stage. Weird.
- Neil Patrick Harris rocks. But that woman from Pushing Daisies is scary-looking. Am I wrong?
- Now Miranda is presenting. Random fact: my hairdresser is styling her 'do for an upcoming charity event in Chicago. I hope he has some scoop for me eventually...
- OK, lots more forwarding occurred... now we're at Best Lead Actor in a Comedy. There's Lee Pace again, swoon. It's gotta be Alec or Steve... yep, it's Alec. Wow, it's his first win! Craziness. I'm glad he thanked Tina. Everybody loves Tina.
- Uh oh. The microphone stopped working. Well, I don't really care about Best Lead Actress in a Drama anyway.
- Jack Bauer - I've missed you! Unfortunately, I don't watch any of the shows the dudes from Best Leading Actor in a Drama are in. I have no idea who that guy is who won.
- Tina Fey wins again!!! She's on a roll!
- OK, now it's Best Reality Show Host, the new award. I learn that that guy I didn't know is from Dancing With The Stars. Mystery solved. I'm calling Ryan or Jeff as the winner. And the winner is... ha! I love that they made us wait until after the commercial -- classic. OK, we're back. Yikes, Jimmy Kimmel said, "Haven't they been sufficient?" (meaning as hosts)... Sufficient? That was kind of rude (even if it was true). But I'm happy for Jeff Probst -- I feel like I know him after all of these years.

PERFECT... I am up to real time and it's the end... Best Comedy is... 30 Rock! Tina Fey strikes again! Although it was kind of weird how she mentioned the approximately 1,352 ways you can watch 30 Rock and its upcoming premiere date. Seemed like a desperate attempt to get more viewers and took away from the moment.

OK... Best Drama... Go Lost, Go Lost, Go Lost!!!!!!

Aww, crap. Mad Men won. I just don't get the love for that show (granted, I only watched a few episodes of its second season, which I heard hasn't been as good as its first, but still).

Alright, it's over. I think I watched this three-hour show in an hour. Love ya, Tivo.

- e

Friday, September 19, 2008

The "Twilight" Saga (No spoilers)

Thanks to you, my dear readers, I was clued in to the Twilight phenomenon in July after writing this post about the first novel's EW cover and movie trailer. I then started reading Twilight at the beginning of August, and not even one-third of the way through its 500+ pages, I ordered the remaining three books in the series AND Stephenie Meyer's other unrelated novel, The Host (which I just started). I finished the four Twilight saga installments in about 6 weeks. Knowing the controversy over the series' end (don't worry, I will write no details in this post), I felt like I should offer my thoughts to those who are still debating reading these books.

First and foremost, it gives nothing away to say that the crux of the saga is the forbidden love between a human teenager, Bella, and a vampire, Edward, and how a lot of people -- including themselves, sometimes -- don't want them to be together. If you get queasy easily, fear not! Amazingly, there is hardly any blood in these books, until the final installment (and even then it's not that bad). However, if you can't deal with mushiness, then just take this series off of your To Read list right now. Because Stephanie Meyer is nothing if not a gushy romantic.

Although I normally do not like to read about goo-goo ga-ga relationships, one compliment I will pay the first book is that I was totally shocked at how it transported me back to the way I used to feel about various boyfriends in high school. You know, when every single guy you liked must definitely be The One. When every glance from someone you had a crush on would be replayed over and over and over in your mind, searching for clues and hidden signals, and then you would discuss it all again in agonizing detail with your friends. When you got butterflies in your stomach just thinking about somebody. When you honestly thought you might die if so-and-so broke up with you. You get the picture. Teenage girls know how to bring the drama -- and I was the Drama Queen of them all -- so I couldn't help but be impressed that Twilight had the power to stir up those memories from almost two decades ago.

Um, so is it really, really wrong that I made my husband read this book? If you couldn't guess from the paragraph above, the vast majority of Twilight fans just so happen to be female. But they're not solely teenagers, there's a whole legion of thirty and fortysomething "Twilight moms" who are just as crazy about the books. I can only assume that these are some of the same readers of the cheesy romance novels with Fabio on the cover. Who else would keep those things in print?

Anyway, so while my husband was a good sport and read the book, he refused to read the rest of the series. And I couldn't honestly tell him that he would like them... the gushiness only gets worse, and the feelings that Bella has are repeated again and again ten bazillion times. It gets really old, really quickly. Though I fully admit that Meyer can weave a fantastic yarn, the woman is not a skilled writer. As one of my friends put it, "Bella is probably the most annoying protagonist of all time." I certainly wasn't reading these books because I liked the main character, let's just put it that way.

All that being said, I enjoyed the series and I'm glad I read all four books. They are nowhere near as good as the Harry Potter stories (and immediately distrust anyone who tells you they are), but there's something about them that I just couldn't shake. I HAD to know how everything ended up. The second book, New Moon, was the worst of the four -- painfully slow and repetitive, but still necessary to read in the whole scheme of things. The third installment, Eclipse, finally picked up the pace in its second half. And as for the love-it-or-hate-it end game, Breaking Dawn... I'm happy to say it was my favorite of the books overall. I stayed up until 2 am to finish it last Saturday night.

From what I've gathered on message boards, it seems that the readers who worshiped the first three novels were the same ones who despised the end of the series. Since I was fairly annoyed with the other three books, I applauded the abrupt change of tone and pace in Breaking Dawn. It was action-packed and all of the repetitive descriptions and plodding subplots disappeared. I personally felt that Meyer grew drastically as a novelist over the course of the series.

And so, if you are a female and you dig mythical creatures and you think you are patient enough to suffer through some really annoying dialogue and repetitive descriptions and scene-setting in order to be sucked into a story that is pretty darn fascinating, addictive and thought-provoking, I encourage you to at least give Twilight a try. When I was done with Breaking Dawn, I certainly felt that the precious time I put into the series was worth it.

The sad thing is that now that the books have grown on me, I'm even more disappointed with Twilight's trailer. I just fear that the movie will be awful. Did you guys catch the kid playing Jacob on the MTV VMA Awards? His face fit the part, but when he opened his mouth, my heart sank. He sounded like a squeaky punk. Plus, Edward was cut off?!? If you missed it, watch it here.

Since I know that many of you have completed the series, I will post a few more detailed thoughts on each book in the comment section, going in order, so that if you've only read a few of the installments so far, you can stop at the appropriate place and not be spoiled.

For those of you who have no intention of reading the books, will you still check out the movie, now that it's in HP 6's previous premiere date of November 21? You know I'll be first in line, as always...

- e

No, I Did NOT Forget...

... That today is "Talk Like a Pirate Day"! It's just that it's not "Write Like a Pirate Day," so I still have a normal-English post coming up for you shortly.

In the meantime, please remember to visit the "Talk Like A Pirate Day" web site to get ideas as to how to freak people out around your office... at least you head out for the weekend. Come on, do it!

Let your freak flag fly! Or, make a cape, like Nerdy P did for her son, below. How jealous is Auntie e?

Wait a second, Pirates watch Dora the Explorer? This changes everything.

- e

Edited to add: Check out this article about the richest pirates ever (for real) - thanks to Miss M!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Attention "24" Fans...

He's baaa-aack. Finally. It's been over a year!

If you still miss The Jack Bauer Power Hour, as I do, check out the trailer for "24: Redemption," a two-hour TV movie that will air on November 23rd to fill in the gaps as to what Jack's been up to in between seasons six and seven (which premieres in January). It's not the best quality in the world, but that's all that I could find on the Internet:

Looks intense!

I was happy to see that that dude from Ally McBeal is still around... and I think that that guy from The Full Monty and Angelina's dad are good additions, too. Who cares what their characters' names are? The only one that matters is Jack. Am I wrong?

- e

Some Girls Prefer Jimmy Choos, I Like Keens

I've posted on bouts of crazy weather here in Chicago a handful of times over the years. You may remember when my lower level flooded last summer after just a few hours of torrential rain. The city actually ended up doing some work on the sewers in front of my place not too long ago, and therefore we were able to survive this past weekend's onslaught of precipitation with absolutely no damage. To my condo, I should clarify.

My poor friend Miss M was unfortunate enough to be visiting this past weekend, and I fear her ballet flats are done for. Everywhere we went there were huge puddles, and even where the water hadn't built up on the sidewalk, the rain was coming down so forcefully from all directions that your feet were going to get drenched no matter what.

Luckily for myself, I had purchased a pair of Keens (on sale, no less!) over Labor Day weekend. They have saved my other shoes from ruin at least three times already, so I felt compelled to sing their praises today.

Have you ever even heard of this fairly new brand (founded in 2003)? I hadn't, until my husband bought some a year or so ago. He sails out on Lake Michigan a few times each week, and apparently the water-hybrid line of Keens (which is also what I got) is very popular with people who are on the water a lot. As you can see from the picture, they have a bunch of holes to let the water in and out, but your toes are still protected and the sole is very sturdy. They dry quickly once you're out of the water and are amazingly comfortable. And that's coming from someone with a very, very high instep and a bad back!

The only issues I've found with them so far are that: 1) they will color the tips of your toenails, though it washes off, and 2) you need to ensure they are fastened tightly, lest you lose one if a powerful wave should hit you (like what happened to my husband - d'oh!).

I bought the Keens in anticipation of two upcoming vacations that will most likely include some in-water activities, but they've already come to the rescue over the last few weeks when the water was ankle-high on the street behind my place, where I walk my dog.

So if you are looking for shoes that you can wear in the water, look no further! I guess they also have a line of hiking shoes and casual shoes as well, so I will probably end up buying more since I've had such a good experience so far. The kind I bought were a little on the pricey end - normally $90 -- but REI had a huge Labor Day sale and I got them in the $60s, score!

- e

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Chuck Bass Sighting in "Son of Rambow"

As you all know, I watch a lot of movies. Even more so now that I'm writing for redbox. So I feel qualified to say that it's very rare to find a movie that is truly unique. A new premise, an unpredictable storyline and an unknown cast all adding up to a wonderful film is simply not something that happens very often. But it happened with Son of Rambow.

This movie was only out in limited release in the U.S. (it's a British film), but I had heard good things about it from a few friends, so we rented it and watched it last night. While I don't think everyone will enjoy it as much as my husband and I did, I would bet that the vast majority of people would at least find it worthy of the hour and forty minutes it takes to watch.

It's the story of two young boys in England who are trying to make a movie for "Screen Test" -- some young filmmaker's competition. As you can guess (and will see from the trailer below), they decide to make "The Son of Rambow" (misspelling probably unintentional on their part).

The movie is set in the 80s and goes beyond the boys' filming exploits to cover family relationships and the meaning of true friendship in a not-overly-forced way. And I was happy to discover that Chuck Bass (Ed Westwick) from Gossip Girl is in it, and using his native British accent! And he even still wears funky Chuck Bass outfits! Hooray!

If this trailer floats your boat, then you will really like the rest of the movie. It's not as fast-paced as it could've been, but it was great nonetheless.

Convinced yet?

- e

Monday, September 15, 2008

SNL, 90210 and Real World/Road Rules Challenge: The Island - Yes, I Watch All of This Crap

A few updates for you on my TV-watching habits as of late...

Saturday Night Live

So, as predicted, Michael Phelps was pretty damn dreadful on SNL's premiere. At least they were smart enough to relegate him to small roles with hardly any lines after his opening monologue. But even that couldn't save the show. The only bright spots were the Palin/Clinton skit at the very beginning (it is seriously uncanny how much Tina Fey looks the part...), bits and pieces of Weekend Update (though I don't think that character who can never complete a thought is funny at all), and the Pizzeria Uno skit (why was that so late in the show?). Even the digital short was lame. I'm lowering my expectations drastically for the rest of the season and expect to be fast-forwarding through the majority of the show each week.

If you didn't see the Palin/Clinton skit, here it is:


Yes, I caved and watched it again. How could I not, after hearing that Kelly's baby daddy is going to be revealed this week?

At first I just assumed her son was Brandon's kid since she supposedly talked with Brandon on the phone in the second hour of the premiere. But now, after reading Defamer's in-depth analysis of the possible fathers, I am leaning toward Steve Sanders, as gross as that is. The kid DOES have curly blond hair, after all.

After this week's episode, I swear I'm done with show. I think. Well, maybe not. I can't promise, OK?

Real World/Road Rules Challenge: The Island

I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I did watch this show and have it in my Season Pass list. I don't even know the vast majority of the cast members anymore. There's no Coral, there's no CT... why am I tuning in? Because it's still so ridiculous that I can't look away.

This time, the players are on an island and there are no teams. They compete individually to win keys to a treasure chest that is on another island, which they can only reach if they correctly assemble a raft for transportation. They've only been on the island for like 2 days and already people are losing their minds because they basically only have rice to eat (though it seems the powers that be at MTV were smart enough to keep alcohol on hand, to ensure that drama ensues).

Yes, I lose brain cells by watching this show. But I already must have lost enough to think that it's worth it. And to be totally excited for new episodes of Gossip Girl and The Hills tonight...

- e

Friday, September 12, 2008

If Saturday Night Live Is Not Incredibly Awesome This Season, All Hope Is Lost

First off, it's a really weird thing to realize that a TV show is as old as you are. That's what I just discovered when I was reading up on the new season of Saturday Night Live and saw that it's in its 34th year. Yikes.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised -- I have very vivid memories of SNL from my childhood. My parents loved the show, and my aunts and uncles, who were all teenagers when I was born, kept me up on all of the recurring sketches. They had Mr. Bill figures and dressed up as The Coneheads for Halloween. Once I moved to Chicago, I made sure to take them all to visit The Billy Goat Tavern, the inspiration behind the infamous Cheezbuger, Cheezbuger skit.

When I was in high school, my friends and I went through a "vintage SNL" kick where we sought out all of the seasons with Eddie Murphy because we loved his Mr. Robinson's Neighborhood, Gumby, Buckwheat and Velvet Jones skits. We had them memorized word-for-word. Ah, life was so simple then.

My teenage years also were a high point for the then-current SNL cast, too. The Church Lady, Hans and Franz, Wayne's World... I could go on and on.

Somewhere along the way, though, SNL lost its magic for me. Yes, I always tuned in here and there during my college, post-college and grad school years, but with the exception of Will Ferrell, there wasn't anyone in the cast that was a huge draw for me.

I still pretty much feel that way, except that I have really loved some of the digital shorts that have emerged from the past few seasons. Iran So Far still makes me die laughing, as does Andy Punches (that one took a while to grow on me) and Lazy Sunday. And despite the fact that SNL hasn't been at the top of my Favorite Shows List for a while, that doesn't mean I wasn't insanely jealous when my friend Mark got to visit the set and be a part of the "live audience" last season.

So... I absolutely will be Tivoing the Saturday Night Live premiere tomorrow night. With all of the election chaos that is bombarding us in the media every single second, if SNL can't spin it all into comedic gold, then there's no hope left for the show. I already know that Michael Phelps is going to be pretty bad as the host -- judging from his performance at the VMAs last weekend -- the boy can't read a line to save his life. Even the promos he's in are pretty weak. But I think the cast will have the ability to work around him.

Then there's all of the buzz about a "surprise guest." I'm sure that won't be the end of the surprise guests -- before November 4th at least. Both Obama and McCain were on the show last year, so if Obama's on tonight, I'm expecting that McCain will rise (sink?) to the occasion in the near future as well.

Until we can appropriately judge this season of SNL, I leave you with the best, in my opinion, SNL skit of all time: Choppin' Broccoli.

Have a great weekend, and to all of you out in Hurricane Ike's path, please be careful and stay safe.

- e

Thursday, September 11, 2008

G is for Googly Eyes...

... that I make at the TV screen every time Anderson Cooper appears.

I saw the clip below of Anderson on Sesame Street at PerezHilton.com, and it immediately put me in a good mood. It's much too awesome to not pass along:

I love that this distinguished news anchor, who has traveled all over the world and has witnessed unspeakable horrors (if you ever want a good cry, read his book, Dispatches from the Edge), can not only still find the time to keep up with (and rip on) reality TV, but is also humble enough to climb into a trash can for the sake of educating the kiddies of the world.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Return of Pacey -- or -- The "Fringe" Premiere

Lost creator J.J. Abrams' newest series, Fringe, premiered last night. I was excited because I knew it was supposed to revolve around "fringe science" fields like teleportation, nanotechnology and mind control.

I couldn't get to sleep after watching it. But it wasn't because of anything I saw in the show, it was because I couldn't remember what Pacey from Dawson's Creek's last name was.

Joey... Potter.

Dawson... ... ... Dawson... ... oh, yeah, Leery.

Pacey... Pacey... what was his last name?!?!

Finally it came to me: Witter. Ah, yes. Witter.

And then I got some shut-eye.

The reason I was even thinking about all of this is because Joshua Jackson, who played my beloved Pacey, now stars in Fringe. So you can guess how good I thought Fringe was if I spent the night reminiscing about Dawson's Creek...

That's right, I was really underwhelmed by Fringe. It bored me. And confused me. Haven't I seen this show before, only it was much better and was called The X-Files? Haven't I heard this score before, only it was much better and was on Lost? Haven't I seen that guy before? Only he was more awesome and was on Dawson's Creek? Haven't I also seen that other guy before? Only he, too, was more awesome and was on Lost? What is going on?!?!

Yeah, Fringe just felt like a mishmash of a whole bunch of other shows that I love or have loved, and it didn't work. The coolest thing about the show was how it suspended 3-D-looking blocks of text in mid-air to explain the locations of scenes. Oh wait... I've seen that before, too! In the opening credits of Panic Room. Wow. There really was nothing original about Fringe.

I'm sure some of you out there saw it, thought it was decent and feel that I'm being too hard on the show, and you're probably right. But when I enjoyed watching 90210 more than Fringe, that says something about the entertainment value of the latter. Even the "this season on Fringe" preview clips didn't leave me curious.

My judgment has been made. Fringe just didn't do it for me. I really, really wanted it to. I still adore Joshua Jackson and would've liked a reason to see him again on a regular basis. But there's just only so much time in the week, and I feel like watching Fringe would be a waste of that precious time.

To leave this post on a happier note, Pacey and Joey reunited this week! Hmm, maybe that's not such good news. Pacey better keep himself far, far away from Tom Cruise, lest any of the Crazy Germs affect him!

Actually, that's a great idea for an episode plot. If the Fringe team ever investigates what in the hell is wrong with Tom Cruise, I will tune in again.

- e

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

It's Time to Panic Like It's 1999

I would like to send a shout-out to reader JJ, who gave me a reason to end my self-imposed Magic Shell Boycott last night. Since rediscovering the magical chocolate syrup in July, I'd been eating it atop a huge bowl of ice cream every single day. Until about 2 weeks ago, when I realized that I'd gained five pounds. So I swore to myself that I would not touch that beautiful brown bottle again until I was back to my normal weight.

But JJ's message to me changed all of that. He reminded me that the Large Hadron Collider is booting up tomorrow, and that the world may self-destruct. So I sure as hell am going to finish off my last stockpile of Magic Shell before that happens! My last moments might as well be happy ones, dammit! Hence, I was reunited with both the topping and ice cream last night.

If the world does not end tomorrow, I will once again resume my healthier lifestyle. Scout's honor.

Some people who are much smarter than I am, like Professor Stephen Hawking, claim that there's nothing to worry about when the LHC starts operating tomorrow. But when I hear that it's trying to "recreate the conditions present after the Big Bang," I can't help but think to myself... Is that really a good idea?

But then again, everyone freaked out about Y2K -- myself included -- and when the clock struck midnight on December 31, 1999, nothing happened. However, no one was really thinking that the Earth would suddenly be sucked into a black hole because of a glitch in some COBOL code, now did they?

The bottom line is that there's nothing we can do about the Large Hadron Collider. Those scientists are going to crank that sucker up to full-speed tomorrow and we're all just going to have to wait to see if there are any consequences.

If we survive, then just remember to make the most of the next four years, because we're all outta here for sure on December 21, 2012... right?

Edited to Add: OK, so it's been turned on and we're all still here... but it doesn't actually start smashing protons for a few months, so I'm going to continue to eat as much Magic Shell as possible until I KNOW we're in the clear.

Monday, September 08, 2008

The 2008 MTV Video Music Awards -- or -- Somebody Shoot Me!

There is a reason I keep torturing myself by watching things like The Hills and the MTV VMAs. It's because every once in a while, something good happens.

I had forgotten that an extra episode of The Hills aired last night before the MTV VMA's pre-show red carpet gig. But my Tivo reminded me, and so of course I watched it. I have to say that it was one of the best episodes that show has pulled off in a long, long time. There was a clearly UN-staged throw-down between Brody and Spencer's mousy sister, Stephanie. So much of this show is scripted that I forgot what it was like when real drama goes down. It is pure awesomeness. Brody "went there" by reminding everyone that Stephanie used to be drugged-out and "crazy," and Stephanie retaliated by, uh, running off and crying to LC in their ridiculous suite at The Venetian (who paid for all of these rooms, and how?!?!). The drama continues in another new episode tonight. Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in...

... But I don't know if I can say the same thing about the VMAs. This is two years in a row now that I've been utterly depressed when the show was over. At least last year something happened -- meaning the infamous Britney performance. This time around, the whole thing was just flat-out boring. I was all excited to see how Britney was going to kick off the night, and it was just stupid. Her skit with Jonah Hill was not funny, and she looked nervous as hell when she spoke in front of the audience. Check out how she covered half of her face with the microphone and sped-read her lines starting around the three-minute mark:

That was it!!! I kept waiting for her to do something else later in the show, but nope. She won some awards and made short acceptance speeches and then was outta there.

The host, British comedian Russell Brand, and several presenters, such as Lindsay Lohan and Michael Phelps, also did not do a very good job with the simple tasks they were given. The performances were low-energy... including Kanye's closing song. Yes, he attempted to sing a song rather than rap. What is this world coming to?

I never thought that I would declare an episode of The Hills to be better than the Video Music Awards, but that sad day has come. Can I get those two hours and fifteen minutes of my life back somehow? And can someone erase the memories of Kid Rock's track-suit-with-a-belt outfit from my mind? Please?!?!

- e

Friday, September 05, 2008

I Hate That I Love You: The Hills, Gossip Girl and 90210

My teenage angst cup runneth over! The Hills, Gossip Girl and 90210 have begun, and I am so happy to forget all of my troubles and be transported to a land where the most important thing in the world is what you wear to your best friend's off-the-hook birthday party.

Let's take these shows in the order in which they premiered, shall we?

The Hills

I know I've been threatening to stop watching this show for over a year now, but I really mean it this time. I'm at the point where I literally hear brain cells dying when I tune in. Why do I put myself through this torture? I no longer even like anyone on the show!

LC = Whiny brat who is making the wrong choice by siding with Lo instead of Audrina, and who only dates losers.

Lo = Rapidly ascending to the top of my "Most Hated 'Characters' on TV" list. She is the definition of annoying.

Audrina = I'm glad she's growing a backbone, but where in the hell is Justin Bobby?!?!

Whitney = The only half-way normal person on the show, but I can't stand how she adds on "guh" to any "-ing" words. For example, "Where are you guys going-guh?" Listen next time, and you'll hear it. It drives me up the wall.

Stephanie Pratt = An obvious wannabe who is there solely to create drama among people with otherwise pointless existences.

Heidi = Still an idiot. Why does she stay with Spencer? Do they ever not fight?

Spencer = Still my #1 Most Hated Character on TV. He shaved off that disgusting blond hair all over his face, but still has his rat teeth and despicable attitude.

Someone please organize an intervention for me!!! I MUST STOP WATCHING THIS SHOW!!!

Gossip Girl

Unlike most of my other peeps who like Gossip Girl, I didn't think the latest installment was that great. It seemed kind of boring. Perhaps that's because I just finished watching Season One out of order, and ended with the show's absolutely fantastic, action-packed pilot episode. Season Two's premiere doesn't hold a candle to that.

But, since I love Chuck Bass and am happy to see him pursuing Blair once again, I will definitely keep watching. And if he stops trying to get with her, I will still keep watching, if for nothing else than his so-ridiculous-they're-awesome outfits. He wears them in real-life too, you know.


I gotta say, I feared this "re-booted" version of the beloved show from my high school days would be horrendous. And it was not. I actually thought it was quite good. The teenage cast has way better acting skillz than the adults do, though. It was fast-paced and interesting and it held my attention for two hours. That's more than most shows can say.

I also liked that English teacher guy. He has a James McAvoy-ishness about him. But I forgot how annoying Kelly Taylor's voice is -- she's always breaking into pseudo-baby talk. And am I piecing things together correctly... is Brandon the father of her kid? If so, it seems out of character for Brandon to take off on his family. So that was weird. As were Brenda's teeth. But seeing Nat at The Peach Pit again was the highlight of the show for me. He still rocks!

I promised myself that I would only watch the premiere of 90210 because I just don't have enough time to keep adding shows to my Tivo list. But for those of you who do and who like to live vicariously through fictional, rich teenagers, I would recommend checking out 90210. If any of the other original cast members make an appearance, though, I'm there.

- e

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Spade is a Baby Daddy? Say What?

I used to find David Spade funny back when he was on Saturday Night Live (though I was never a fan of his movies with Chris Farley like Tommy Boy and Black Sheep, nor did I watch Just Shoot Me). But what I couldn't understand was why he was always connected to so many lovely ladies. Heather Locklear? Lara Flynn Boyle? Carmen Electra? Pamela Anderson?!?! I mean, sure, a good sense of humor is charming and all... but it only goes so far in superficial Hollywood.

That's why I was shocked to read yesterday that Mr. Buh-Bye is the father of a baby girl born a week ago. And that the mother is ex-Playboy Playmate, Jillian Grace. What the... ?!?!?! I just don't get it. And I don't think I want to.

- e

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

e's Favorite Things: Fisher Price Little People

First things first: Yes, I am going to write about the Gossip Girl and 90210 premieres. I had planned on doing so this morning, until -- horror of horrors -- my Tivo went on the fritz last night and didn't record 90210, so now I have to wait for the replay on Thursday night. But rest assured, barring any other technical difficulties, I will post about these shows on Friday.

In the meantime, I feel compelled to rant just a little bit about the tragedy that has befallen my favorite childhood toys: Fisher Price's "Little People." I was back home in Michigan this past weekend, and my family and I had a ball watching a DVD that my parents recently had made of all of our old, old, old Super 8 videos. These films from back in the day each only held about 3 minutes of recorded video, so a few dozen separate tapes were able to fit onto one DVD. I saw myself age from 3 weeks to 10 years old within the span of an hour and a half -- freaky! So on a related note, I have to say two things before I get to the heart of this post: 1) If you, your parents or any of your friends or relatives have old movies on film reels or VHS tapes, I beg of you, find a company to transfer them to DVD. It's not the cheapest service in the world, but I promise, you'll be happy you did. The tapes will eventually become warped or disintegrate, and then you will kick yourself for not saving them in time. Just do it!!!! 2) After freaking out at seeing all of my old toys, friends, clothes and home decorations, I have vowed to take more videos in the present time. There are so many things that still pictures just can't capture. The Super 8's didn't even have sound, for God's sake, and they still rocked. These days, there's no excuse for not taking a few clips here and there of your kids, your pets, your house or whatever you care about. Those shots will provide immense joy and entertainment in the future!

OK, so in addition to "the corn popper" (left) and about ten million other awesome toys I forgot I had, I was overjoyed to catch glimpses of the "Little People." If you had these rockin' toys, then I bet a huge smile is spreading across your face right now. Two of the sets I loved the most are below (and yes, the castle was my ultimate favorite because I loved dragons even back then):

Seeing that Robin Hood dude again makes me want to cry. How is it possible to love these little guys as much as I do?

My brother and I then remembered how we would always refer to the chap below as "Pothead." We did not realize the usual meaning of that phrase at the time. We were simply not that creative and called it as we saw it...

Eventually we switched his name to "Panhead"... and then to "Vinnie." We were big fans of Welcome Back Kotter, what can I say? Yes, I realize that the freckled boy above looks nothing like John Travolta, but we worked with what we had, OK?

So I was all warm and fuzzy, reminiscing on my childhood, until I looked up "Little People" online and saw that the years have not been kind to my beloved toys. They have been given makeovers in the worst possible way:

I try to keep it clean on this site, but it's taking everything in me to not unleash a tirade filled with expletives right about now. What have they DONE to the Little People?!?! Why do they have ARMS? Why are they holding stuff? Why do almost all of them have on hats? Why are they wearing outfits? They shouldn't even have feet, much less be wearing shoes?!?!

And look what happened to the castle! Where's the moat?!?!?

The Robin Hood dude now has a bow and arrow pack?!?! That new dragon is totally small! Is there still even the trap door? AAAAAHHHHHH, I can't take it!!!

This is total crap. Yeah, I know, the new design of the figures and sets probably has something to do with making them less of a choking hazard. But they didn't have to destroy the very thing that made these figures so awesome in the first place: their simplicity. I weep for the children of today. And now I'm going to have to go on eBay and see if I can rebuild the complete set of Little People toys I once had (I still have a lot of them, but a few didn't survive storage over the years).

I'm so upset by this that I can't bear to think about it anymore. I'm therefore going to leave you with some pictures of the ORIGINAL Little People, in all of their streamlined glory. That dog was one of the best ones. Sigh.

- e