Friday, October 30, 2009

Thank You, Cougar Town

Nick Zano got signed on to a role on Melrose Place, so I can't imagine we'll be seeing him much on Cougar Town anymore. But, delightful and generous show that it is, they sent him off with a subplot about (among other things) how good he looks with his shirt off.




In other news, this was probably my favorite episode yet. And not just because of the above stills! It managed to move Jules's plot forward, had a handful of really hilarious moments ("Did I hear the word 'menopause' come out of your mouth?), plus Busy Philipps in my favorite wardrobe choice of the season...


...and Carolyn Hennesy's Barb appearing from out of nowhere like the predatory Beetlejuice she is:

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

DANCE! Top 20

The So You Think You Can Dance chatter has been pretty light around these parts thus far. Part of that is my historical bias against the audition weeks, but part of that is also that I'm on dance duty over here these days. So please do check those out!

Sadly, that means last summer's roundtable posts won't be repeated (at least not on a regular basis). But on the days I'm not recapping, I'll try to get my post-shows thoughts down here. Like tonight. Because once again, the competition shows have got me psyched for The Dance again.

I'll take this Top 20 show in order of what I liked most to least:

Victor and Bianca -- contemporary
I KNEW Victor was being overlooked as one of the excellent guys this season -- the guys have it all over the girls this season so far. But after seeing this routine, Bianca is definitely one to bust through that dude dominance. I get what Adam was saying about her high shoulders (girl is doing her neck no favors). But I was more enthralled with the way she slid up and over Victor, or holding that backwards drop just inches above the floor, or leaped up on his back. Great chemistry with these two, and I'm glad the judges gave Victor his props. I don't know what's happening to Nigel, but he's really liking all the femme boys he usually gives a hard time to (Jakob, Victor).

Legacy and Kathryn -- hip-hop
Wow. Why doesn't Dave Scott choreograph more? He's amazing. And going into this, I didn't care much for Kathryn, and I was appreciating Legacy in spite of myself. But they rocked the shit out of this. Kathryn looked rough, while Legacy managed to look not lazy, which has been a problem for him, with me.

Ryan and Ellenore -- jazz
This is the kind of Sonya I love. Not last night's Sexy Tutu number, but the glam cavemen that Ryan and Ellenore transformed into. I'm not always down with Nigel's insane insistence on big strong gruff male dancing, but this routine doesn't work if Ryan's not this giant hulking sex-mountain of a man (which...he is). And Ellenore seems to me like a person who will be able to pick up every genre without blinking.

Jakob and Ashleigh -- Broadway
Once again, the judges seem to be on board with all my favorites thus far, which is nice. With Billy Bell gone, Jakob is going to be the heir apparent "guy I could just watch move for days." His range of motion appears to be limitless, and he does it SO quickly. Ashleigh didn't annoy me once tonight, which may be a first.

Brandon and Pauline -- Smooth Waltz (Brandon Eliminated)
Okay, here's where the judges and I depart -- I thought this routine was perfectly lovely. Can a Jason Gilkison waltz get ANY love around here? As for Brandon getting eliminated, I thought it was terribly sad, but I'm glad to see he's going to get freed up to compete next season. Really, with one exception (we'll get to him), I wouldn't want to see any other guy go yet either, so I'll just chalk this up to bad luck and hope for next year.

Nathan and Mollee -- Disco
It ran out of some steam near the end, and Nathan's costume set his prospects for getting action back about two years, but I thought they partnered fairly well. To my big surprise, Mollee kind of outshined Nathan here, which I was totally not expecting. As much as her eternal perkiness is a lot to take, I feel like it's at least genuine, and the energy she has onstage totally redeems it.

Kevin and Karen -- Cha Cha
The ballroom routines are always very dicey prospects this early in the game. Which bodes well for Kevin, because while he wasn't fantastic, he was perfectly adequate and let Karen take the va-va-voom on their behalf. I'm not sure what was with the SHOCKED reactions to Adam saying that chicks aren't his thing. This show is so goddamn weird with the gay stuff.

Peter and Arianna -- hip-hop (Arianna eliminated)
I totally get what Adam was saying about them not dancing like each other, which was an issue at times, but I didn't think they were so bad. And I definitely thought Arianna was the better of the two. SO sad to see her go -- I feel like there was a LOT we had yet to see of her.

Russell and Noelle -- foxtrot
Make that Russell and Melanie LaPatin, who is a total all-star in my book. She did this with Pasha back in Season 3, yes? Anyway, it's tough to judge Russell appropriately given his circumstances, but I know it wasn't very pretty to look at. I'm glad he stayed, because he deserved a mulligan after how well he's performed thus far. As for Noelle and how she didn't get eliminated despite not dancing, I can't say I'm sad that she's still around -- her performance in Mandy Moore's group routine on Monday made me want to see a lot more of her. But, again, when this happened to Jessi Peralta in Season 3, she had to go. I appreciate that you don't want to eliminate her without getting a chance to prove herself, but if bad luck has already felled Billy (and Brandon, really), it should have been bad luck for her too.

Phillip and Channing -- jive
I tried to be objective, despite the fact that they managed to pair my least favorite guy with my least favorite girl. And objectively, this was not good, and I have no idea what the judges saw in it. Even Mary, who was measured in her praise, still gave it praise. I found it to be slow and sloppy, and I would've had an easy time eliminating them both.

Thoughts? Ideas? Opinions? To the comments, y'all!
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Trailer Trash Tuesday: Twilight: New Moon

I saw the first trailer for this debut at the MTV Movie Awards back in, what, June? It's been a while. Back then, my only real takeaway was something very much like this. I didn't realize they had cut another one (though it makes sense not to market the movie on the same trailer for six months) until I saw it run before Where the Wild Things Are (which is kind of hysterically marketing considering I can't imagine two more divergent audiences). So...well, watch it:



Now, I'm not saying it looks good. But having seen the first one and wallowed in its profound inaction and heavy sighs and infinitely delayed gratification, I can at least say that it appears things may actually happen in New Moon. Besides hilarious games of vampire baseball, I mean. It may still not be good, but I maintain that when things did happen in Twilight, I had a good time laughing at them. It stands to reason that more things happening would mean more good chances to point and laugh.

Of course, this may all be great marketing masking yet another movie where Kristen Stewart lies around and yearns for 100 minutes. But if that's the case, kudos to the trailer people. They've done it again. Of course, there's still some hilarity on display in these two and a half minutes. The "Bella, you've become an adrenaline junkie!" stuff is punctuated by Bella...lying on the ground in the forest and drowning listlessly in the sea. My pulse is already racing! And the big action climax appears to revolve around whether Cedric Diggory will or will not expose his sickly torso to the sun and subject what appears to be the College of Cardinals in Rome to the unholy sparkling of a lifetime.

But there's creepy vampire child Dakota Fanning! And Taylor Lautner, who ... well, I don't want to talk about it. Except to say that he appears to undergo the most beneficial haircut in the history of humankind. I figured, once I finally watched the first one, that now I'd end up having to watch all the others, at least on HBO, in order to get closure (I'm not saying that's not fucked up). But this trailer may have bumped New Moon up the list to "Netflix."
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My New Favorite People (This Week)



I got a chance to check out the play The Understudy, which is currently in previews, on Friday night, and while I'll readily grant that I'm too inexperienced in the Broadway (or in this case, off-Broadway) stage to offer a review that would hold much weight, I'll tell you that I laughed my ass off, and when the lights went out, I had a huge smile on my face. Really delightful and managed to keep a play about actors and Broadway and putting on a play from being too insular and navel-gazing.

Anyway, there are better people than I who can tell you why The Understudy is wonderful. What I do feel qualified to talk about is how much I loved its three stars, Justin Kirk, Julie White, and Mark-Paul Gosselaar. Yes, I am happy to say that Zack Morris himself was able to keep up with his two vastly more experienced co-stars and actually managed to wring some laughs out all on his own.

My affinity for Justin Kirk has been known for a while. I fell in love immediately with Angels in America and have not really looked back. There were a couple seasons of Weeds there where the utter disgustingness of his character began to turn me off, but this last season was his best on the show, so this play kind of hit me while my Kirk wave was cresting.

Julie White has long been someone I figured I would love but I hadn't yet had the chance to see her in anything substantial. You guys, this lady is amazing. She has this manic energy that nevertheless feels very controlled, I don't know how she does it. It works incredibly well opposite her co-stars, and she gets some huge laughs out of lines I can't imagine a lesser actress could do as well with. She's also amazingly charming and warm and smart in a way that radiates through her and into her character. She's totally my current Broadway obsession.

Which, now that I mention it, here's the tragedy of the theater: Julie won her Tony for The Little Dog Laughed, by all accounts a hilarious comedy that opened and closed before I moved to New York. I'm never going to be able to see Julie White perform in that play ever again. There are precious few second chances in Broadway, and the ones that exist are always somehow paled. A touring company production or a revival features different performers. A movie version, even with the same actors, isn't the same. The closest is when PBS will record the show for Great Performances, but even that (which I credit with giving me the Raul Esparza iteration of Company that I love so much) I will grant isn't the same as being in the room.

Yes, it's a cautionary tale that you should make time (and money) for these shows while you can, but that does me no good after the fact. It's a cruel universe for us Julie White fans.

[Compounding this Little Dog tragedy, by the way? My Girlfriend Ari Graynor was in it too! Will the universe never stop retroactively dumping on me??]
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Monday, October 26, 2009

The Cam Show

I forgot to mention this last week, but my first impression after watching another very funny episode of Modern Family was this:


I already loved Cameron. But this episode finally made me realize: Fat, gay, football fan? You guys! I have a role model! I finally see myself reflected on the TV! This must be how blonde women and young, hotshot lawyers feel!
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Wild


Spike Jonze cannot go another seven years between making movies. That much is clear after finally taking in Where the Wild Things Are. There's too much swirling around in his imagination and not enough years in a lifetime to get it all out. The amazing thing about Jonze's film career, of course, is that he's been so creative while working on other people's visions -- Charlie Kaufman's on the brilliant Being John Malkovich and the frustrating but very clever Adaptation, and now Maurice Sendak's on Where the Wild Things Are.

Maybe that's Jonze's brand of genius -- he doesn't have stories to tell, but an infinite number of ways to tell them. Even this movie, which has called upon Jonze to provide more of the story than he ever has (he shares screenplay credit with Dave Eggers), doesn't really offer a whole lot of narrative. Boy feels lonely, boy escapes into his imagination, boy encounters big fuzzy monsters who play, then fight, then hug him goodbye, his mom is happy to have him home, the end. This isn't a knock against the movie by any means. The book didn't have much in the way of story either. And when that very simple skeleton allows Jonze to layer on the sights and sounds he provides here, I can't imagine how one could complain about the plot.

It's become a cliche to say a director "creates a world" within his film, but we're not going to get anywhere talking about this movie unless we talk about the world Jonze creates in Wild Things. It's not just the creatures either but the environment they inhabit. The homes they live in, made of branches and sticks but with all the delicate appearance of spun sugar. The deep forests and steep cliffs and raging waters. The nature of the story means that Jonze is bound by nothing in terms of what he can create, but he doesn't take that carte blanche to create surreal dreamscapes or melting clocks or anything else you'd find in that Simpsons episode where Homer finds his spirit coyote. Save for the giant fuzzy monster-animals (which are a total triumph of visual effects, practical or otherwise), Jonze's environs are all naturalistic. The dreamlike elements are in the layout (a forest, a desert, an ocean all within walking distance of each other) and in those things that a young kid like Max would find fantastical -- intricate tunnels and forts and vast open spaces for nothing but play. Jonze gives Max all the wonders of the world around him and only asks him to horse around in them.

Young Max Records does a fairly remarkable job as the character Max, considering he's not acting opposite people for most of the film. He's completely a kid, with a kid's tantrums and exaggerations and enthusiasms and fears all set exactly right. I really liked the way they depicted Max in his real life. That scene where he's so wounded by his sister's friends, his sadness and hurt feelings make sense for him, but if you look at it, the older kids were actually engaging with him, throwing snowballs back and forth and playing with him. It was only when their pile-on crumbled his snow fort -- and more importantly when they got in their car and drove away -- that Max started to cry. Max isn't a victim beyond the fact that the people in his life are bigger and older than he is. Which, if you've ever been a kid longing to be accepted by the big kids, IS full of trauma. (Of course, you might not read the older kids as charitably as I -- in fact, I don't think Rommate Mark will ever forgive them for busting that snow fort.)

There's a lot of A-->B analoging going on in the imagination world. The monsters are bigger than Max, too, but he's their king (basically because he says so). His main quest is to keep everybody together, living in one happy fort where they all sleep in one pile, despite there being obvious fractures and hurt feelings and sisterly characters choosing to spend time with new friends. The clear lines aren't a hindrance to me, and I actually appreciated how the conflicts in the film were such kid conflicts. He just wants everybody to stay together. And for no one to realize that he's not a powerful king but a scared boy. Taken that way, they seem to be equally adult conflicts, but there's really a lot about forts and tunnels as well.

I can't give enough credit to the voice actors for making the monsters come alive. This is a movie that works for kids and adults not because there are kids moments punctuated by sly nods that only the adults would get. It's pretty much all for the kids. But I found the most adult-oriented pleasures could be found in the voice performances. James Gandolfini's big, immature, not-always-gentle giant. Lauren Ambrose playing the perfect big sister (who, no matter how far she gets away from Claire Fisher, still gravitates to really annoying friends). Catherine O'Hara pretty much steals the show as a fickle, petty, jealous, and altogether hilarious monster.

I could keep going like this, paragraph after paragraph of things that made me love Where the Wild Things Are. It just does exactly what you'd hope it would do -- it places your spirit in the body of a boy, dressed up as a wolf, pretending to be a king.

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Smooth Joey Apollo's 2009 NFL Picks: Week 7

Last Week:

Joe 9-5
Aaron 8-6

Season to Date:

Joe 60-30
Aaron 57-33


WEEK 7

Indianapolis at St. Louis

Aaron: More games like this one, Commissioner Goodell. Makes for easy pickin'. Pick: Indianapolis

Joe: I have a feeling I'd enjoy watching this Colts team. Not that I'll have a prayer of getting to see them in this game. Pick: Indianapolis


New England at Tampa Bay

Aaron: I'm looking forward to this game only because it'll mean that a week's worth of bad sportscaster jokes about the Patriots "returning" to England will be behind us. Pick: New England

Joe: I'm curious about all the people picking this game as a guaranteed unholy blowout. Really? No chance the Pats blew their wad running up the score on Tennessee and the murky London weather grinds this game to an ugly halt? I'm not saying the Bucs will win (they, um, won't), but these England games are never that high-scoring. Pick: New England


San Francisco at Houston

Aaron: The 49ers sure looked like a team that packed it in early two weeks ago vs. Atlanta. Bringing the Michael Crabtree soap opera into their locker room can't help. Pick: Houston

Joe: Frank Gore back in the SF backfield helps. So does Houston's firm commitment to showing up every other week. Pick: San Francisco
More picks after the jump...

Minnesota at Pittsburgh

Aaron: Against three of the league's bottom feeders (Tennessee, Cleveland and Detroit) the Steelers' average margin of victory is just eight points. Hey, if you don't use those grade school math skills, you lose 'em. Pick: Minnesota

Joe: I hate this Vikings team so, so, so much. That Ravens game was a total heartbreaker, and the second time this season I've been cut to the end of a Vikings game only to see them avert disaster. Jerks. Pick: Pittsburgh


San Diego at Kansas City

Aaron: Every year, the Chargers' inevitable implosion occurs earlier and earlier. And, can I say that watching LaDanian Tomlinson pout on the sidelines is only 10% less fun that watching it in the playoffs. Pick: Kansas City

Joe: If KC was any good, they'd have worked an awful Redskins team way worse than they did. Pick: San Diego


Green Bay at Cleveland

Aaron: Detroit last week, Cleveland this week. Way to prep for your rematch against Favre and the Vikings next week, guys. Pick: Green Bay

Joe: There's just not enough Polish sausage in the world for these two fanbases. Pick: Green Bay


N.Y. Jets at Oakland

Aaron: The Raiders need only do two things to win this game: (1) Play defense. (2) Receive a non-embarassing performance from JaMarcus Russell for the second straight week. One of these things will not happen. Pick: NY Jets

Joe: Reasons the Raiders are not worse than the Bills #1: If Mark Sanchez throws five interceptions in the game, the Raiders will win by at least four. Pick: NY Jets


Buffalo at Carolina

Aaron: Did you know that Bills coach Dick Jauron has been a head coach for 10 years on three different teams yet has only one winning season to his credit? This...uh, this won't be the second. Pick: Carolina

Joe: Reasons the Raiders are not worse than the Bills #2: DeAngelo Williams is about to score 3 touchdowns on our asses. Pick: Carolina


Chicago at Cincinnati

Aaron: Both teams are coming off of disheartening losses after playing well for a few weeks. I still don't believe in Cincy, but they've played better - and against better competition - than the Bears. Pick: Cincinnati

Joe: The Bears can't run the ball. The Bengals can. With the Bears old running back, who couldn't run the ball in Chicago. In related news, somebody punch me in the face the next time I try to draft a Bears running back in fantasy football. Pick: Cincinnati


New Orleans at Miami

Aaron: Those of you who've talked yourselves into thinking the Dolphins and their sandlot offense can take this one are f*cking high. Pick: New Orleans

Joe: No fair stealing my blurb. Though I would not have opted for that asterisk. Pick: New Orleans


Atlanta at Dallas

Aaron: I haven't enjoyed watching such a historic sports franchise roll out such a mediocre roster since Alvaro Espinoza roamed the middle infield for the late '80s Yankees. Pick: Atlanta

Joe: HEY! Your failure to recall the name of Pat Kelly is an insult. Pick: Atlanta


Arizona at N.Y. Giants

Aaron: Kurt Warner! Eli Manning! If Jeff Feagles were still in the league, we'd have been able to see a reunion of everyone who threw at least one pass for the 2004 Giants. Wait, Feagles is still kickin'? Figuratively or literally? Pick: NY GIants

Joe: Is this "Eli Manning can't throw in cold weather" business a thing or the result of sports writers and pundits having too much time to try to explain that Eagles playoff loss last year? Pick: NY Giants


Philadelphia at Washington

Aaron: Philly's loss to Appalachian State last week really should've been a bigger deal. How has Donovan McNabb gotten away with so many poor performances against lousy teams in his career? Rush Limbaugh tried to warn us. Pick: Philadelphia

Joe: On the bright side for Eagles fans, it's better for them to lose to the crappy AFC team and beat the crappy team within their own division rather than the other way around. Pick: Philadelphia

Saturday, October 24, 2009

RW/RR Challenge Episode 4 All-Star

I've been lax on these lately, but this past episode -- the fightiest one yet! -- really called out for comment.

Dishonorable Mentions:

Evan for daring to play the shocked good guy in the Veronica/Tonya situation after spending days (seasons, really) poking at the Tonyas of this show and trying to score points with it in interviews. At least an a-hole like Kenny doesn't try to be the nice guy afterwards.

Sarah for...being Sarah. Sorry, honey, but while I'm sure Katie was in the wrong for blowing up at you, she is awesome and you are not, and your showboating after defeating her only serves to make me hate you more. Same with you being all BFF with Susie. And? Never quote from They Live again.

Casey for being the worst. The absolute WORST.



Honorable Mentions:

Darrell and whatever editor was annoyed enough by Danny to include those shots of a newly soft-bellied Danny chowing down on cheeseburgers. Good to know the women aren't the only ones getting slammed for their bodies. Now who's going to have the balls to bring up Evan's weird body-shape situation. Hard and soft and pasty all over, it's a walking contradiction and none of it appealing.

Tonya for, despite everything she's done to make herself look like a pathetic, burned out, wasted wreck of a human being, doing two things; saying the following: "Yeah, I get drunk and I fight and get stupid, and occasionally, a boob falls out"; and b) she slapped the SHIT out of Veronica (after first slapping the SHIT out of her cup o' noodles). Not even Katie managed to do that. I'm glad to see her gone, because she makes me sad now, but at least she slipped some catharsis in on her way out. Oh, and c) she caught that bug in front of Wes AND ATE IT. Okay, maybe I'm not so glad to see her go.

Cohutta for actually being the one decent guy on this show. Well, okay, him and Brad...and possibly Derrick. Syrus too, I guess. Fine, ONE of the very few good guys on this show. Note how he managed to talk about how fucked up that group of guys is without coming across like a sanctimonious ass? On an entirely unrelated note...


First Runner-Up:
Wes for actually fooling me into thinking there's a halfway decent guy buried deep under the bombast, paranoia, steroids, and freckles. When he went and broke up the Tonya/Veronica scuffle (while Evan tried to hold him back, the ass), and then refused to let Evan off the hook for being an asshole to Tonya, I actually mentally placed him a smidge higher than Evan, Johnny, and Kenny. And then he had to go seven steps further and play Dr. Phil and climb up on his high horse and generally make me hate him again. God forbid he gets eliminated from this show, of course. It'd be deadly boring without him. But man, what a dick.

Second Runner-Up
Veronica, for reminding us all why we've always hated her. Veronica's is a combination of snooty better-than-you-ness and a vicious instinct to harm. That's always been combined with a total inability to deal with it when shit gets real, of course. She's always been the biggest coward. Which made it all the sweeter when a wound-up Tonya finally went off on her. And THEN when the meatheaded masses failed to back her up afterwards. Watching her tearfully slink away was delicious.

This Week's Challenge All-Star
Katie, because this may well be the last chance I ever have to talk about how much I love that tar-lunged tasmanian devil. She says this will be her last Challenge -- a likely story as even she admits, but she gave us no time to dwell on questions of credibility because she then said she wants to concentrate on being a wife and a mom. A MOM! I demand an MTV special in 15 years where we watch as little Katie Jr. watches tapes from these shows. Anyway, Katie got beat, and it was sad. But she put up a better fight in this Challenge than she has in the past couple she's been on. But the fact that the show failed to send her off with a Timmy-style clip package and sepia walkoff is predictably outrageous. As it stands, I'm let with the following two quotes from this week's ep, courtesy of the one and only Katie Doyle. "Don't laugh at me when I have a plunger in my bed, bitch. Ever." And "All she wants to do is kiss you guys. Guess what? You're fat and you got tattoos and nobody gives a shit!" Never forget, Katie. Never forget.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Double Stuff It, Oreo

I'll have thoughts on the So You Think You Can Dance top 20 over the weekend, and at some point I'll have to uncurl from this fetal position and discuss this whole business about Mia Michaels leaving the show (I...can't right now).

But then AB Chao went and sent me a link to this interview with choreographer, SYTYCD judge, and all around obnoxious person Tyce Diorio. It was conducted back in April, to coincide with the release of the behind-the-scenes Chorus Line documentary Every Little Step. Have you seen that, by the way? Do you know that you totally should? Not to ruin it for you or anything, but Tyce is completely irritating, which makes for a wholly satisfying point in the story where...well, you should see it.

But you guys? This interview is like concentrated douche in three internet pages. Everything that you think you sense in Tyce from the judges' table is totally confirmed, and on top of that, you've got a smug, bitchy, fawning interviewer who seems to exist simply to ask Tyce, repeatedly, just how awesome he is. Some choice quotes (and there are many):

I don’t know what I sound like in the movie or how they edited me to be. I’m sure it’s interesting and colorful (laughs) knowing myself. I wonder if it makes me sound arrogant?

First of all, I'm calling utter bullshit on him not having seen the movie yet. Clearly, he has and knows how poorly he comes off (in his "edit," which as always is the telltale sign of a dickface, when they complain about their edit, in this case even before the movie's come out). And yes, maybe it MAKES you sound arrogant. Where else would we get this impression?

I have a question for you, what was so interesting about my last callback?

At this point, even the interviewer -- who spends the entire interview entirely up Tyce's ass, mind you -- actually calls Tyce out for the "Enough about me, what do you think of me?" stuff. Of course, this interviewer immediately loses a billion more points when, after discussing how Tyce totally blew his onscreen audition, "Fuck them. It looks beautiful. I would have hired you."

Then the pair of them spend about six paragraphs being totally catty about this girl in the movie, which is charming ("
I can’t remember her name, but she looks like Candis Cayne." -- from the journalist). Ladies, the two of you sitting down and sharpening your claws over how brilliant y'all are and how tragic everyone else is doesn't not count as an interview. It barely counts as a conversation. Anyway, I was supposed to be quoting Tyce, wasn't I?

Well, Bob Fosse, Jerome Robbins and Michael Bennett are kind of mavericks. Bob Fosse would have lived for me.
[Yes, he did.]

Rob Marshall: fantastic. He’s a huge fan of mine. I’m on his A-list. And he was nominated for an Oscar. So, come on.

Janet [Jackson] knows how to treat dancers. She makes them as important as her because without us she can’t do what she does.


I own three homes. I drive a really nice car and not because I want to show off, but just because I can.

That last one isn't even interesting arrogance. It's just cookie-cutter. Common. It's what you say when you are trying oh so very hard to seem arrogant because that's how you think incredibly talented a successful people like yourself are supposed to act.

Seriously, read the whole thing for yourself, then come back here and barf up your lunch in the comments.
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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Week in TV

Gossip Girl (10/19)
The Hillary Duff storyline remains incredibly stupid, and the much ballyhooed Bass Gay Kiss was looking mighty retardo for a second there before they pulled the rug out; then it got awesome. I also appreciated how Vanessa's mom was pretty much every bad thing you've ever said about Vanessa, times a billion. But the lack of surprises there held it back a bit. Though I did like Blair reenacting the final scene from Cruel Intentions. And as far as I'm concerned, Lily can give Blair the tough love speech once a week. Good stuff.

The Amazing Race (10/18)
You guys, Dubai is ridiculous. Come on, Dubai, put it back in your pants. That being said, after failing to identify Jackie Kennedy last week (granted, they weren't alone) and this week needing to ask their cabbie where the Persian Gulf is, Sam and Dan have sadly plummeted in my esteem. I WANT to like you, boys! Be smarter and stop doing stupid shit like hanging around with those poker players while they wait for a replacement car. My new favorite team? Brian and Ericka. That "chocolate melts" moment killed me, and they seem to be able to get right up to the edge of freaking out (Ericka at the top of the sledding hill) before pulling back with some humor (Ericka at the bottom of the hill).

13 Even Scarier Movie Moments (10/15)
The last time they updated the "Scariest Movie Moments" countdown (the original, you may recall, I loved beyond all measure), it was the disappointing "30 Even Scarier Moments" installment, a.k.a. Bravo's Love Letter to Eli Roth. This installment features even fewer movies, almost all of them made in the past five years, and even fewer talking heads whose opinions you'd remotely give a damn about. The main problem has been the downgrade in talking head commenters -- the drop from Romero, Craven, Carpenter, King (among countless other horror legends) in the original, to Eli Roth and Jenna Fischer almost exclusively in the second one (nothing against either of them, but that's a dropoff, for sure), hits a nadir here with Roth, Bijou Phillips, and then mostly a collection of random internet no-names with little to no credibility. And yet, I can't completely hate on it, because it included The Strangers, Bug, and (at #1) The Descent. If you're going to largely limit yourself to the last five years of horror, those might be your three best options right there.

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (10/15)
A powerhouse episode for Kaitlin Olson as Sweet Dee, and those are always my favorite ones. Add to that Charlie dealing with that beehive/wasp's nest/hornet's nest, plus Nick Weschler who I LOVED on Roswell and who hasn't been seen since, here playing the shady fiance. All in all, one of my favorites of the season so far.

30 Rock (10/15)
Funny if unspectacular episode, but there were some hilarious moments, including the return of Kenneth's hill-people accent. And Tracey's "Rabbi Shmuley" joke killed.

Parks and Recreation (10/15)
Okay, I'm officially declaring April as the breakout character of the new season. That blase tone speaking Spanish to the Venezuelan intern? Killed it.

Glee (10/14)
A banner episode for Quinn that finally got me onboard with her. Much credit to Dianna Agron, of course (her hurt at Sue's betrayal felt real), but the show was really smart in the ways they kept cutting to her in the musical numbers, for example. And that "Ride Wit Me" scene was everything I've ever said about the benefit of not having the vocals be so canned. Flip side, though, they knocked that Avril Lavigne number out of the park, and the massive production was a big asset there.

Cougr Town (10/14)
Easily my least favorite of the episodes so far. More boring than anything else. I appreciate the effort to deepen Josh Hopkins's (still wicked hot) character, but they need to hit some different comedic beats between him and Jules. Also, Travis is way better playing off his mom than his dad. Two episodes in a row of Travis on the land boat is a waste. On a positive note, Christa Miller has improved two weeks in a row now.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Smooth Joey Apollo's 2009 NFL Picks: Week 6

Last Week:
Aaron: 10-4
Joe: 9-5

Season to Date:
Joe: 51-25
Aaron: 49-27

WEEK 6

Carolina at Tampa Bay

Aaron: Fun Fact - Both teams have been beaten by a touchdown or more in all their losses this season except vs. Washington. The Bucs lost by a field goal and the Panthers won by the same margin. Your definition of "fun" probably differs from mine. Pick: Tampa Bay

Joe: That QB swap from Leftwich to the paper boy really went a long way towards turning the Bucs into lovable losers. That and the fact that we've given up on all Bucs for our fantasy teams and thus have no reason to be mad at them. Pick: Carolina


Detroit at Green Bay

Aaron: With two weeks to stew over that loss to Brett Favre, look for Aaron Rodgers to exact his revenge on the poor defenseless Lions. They're the baby seal cubs of the NFL. Pick: Green Bay

Joe: Ah, Detroit. The other lovable losers. And losers they shall remain, especially with Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson laid up. Pick: Green Bay


St. Louis at Jacksonville

Aaron: How'd that "pick the best player on the field" methodology work out for you in last week's Seahawks (41) v. Jags (0) game, Joe? Pick: Jacksonville

Joe: Oh, I'm sorry I didn't think to push all my chips to the center of the table on Nate Burleson. Back to the Jags, though -- shouldn't Jack Del Rio be banned from the NFL for life after suspending Mike Sims-Walker for extracurricular (i.e. lady-fucking) activities, thus ruining countless (i.e. my) fantasy football teams. Jerk. Pick: Jacksonville


Baltimore at Minnesota

Aaron: So, wait...you're telling me that it was too early to annoint the Ravens as the league's best team after they beat the Chargers in Week #2? Why didn't you tell me?! Pick: Minnesota

Joe: It would figure that the Ravens' fortunes would sour as soon as I finally started buying into them. And yet...I shall continue to do so. Pick: Baltimore


Houston at Cincinnati

Aaron: Any room left on the Bengals bandwagon for a guy who never stopped believing in Carson Palmer and has enjoyed the glorious bojanglin' of Chad Ochocinco from day one? Pick: Cincinnati

Joe: I don't know how you can look at yourself in a mirror. Pick: Houston


Kansas City at Washington

Aaron: Chiefs have a chance to climb back to respectability over the next four weeks (Chargers at home, at J'ville, at Oakland after this). The Skins are counting down the days until the Mike Shanahan era begins. Pick: Kansas City

Joe: The Chiefs' big weakness this season has been poor play on defense. That's gonna hurt them next time they play a team with an offense. Pick: Kansas City


N.Y. Giants at New Orleans

Aaron: You're not playing JaMarcus Russell this week, Giants. Pick: New Orleans

Joe: In a coin-flip game like this, I'll go with the chance to pick up a game on you. Pick: NY Giants


Cleveland at Pittsburgh

Aaron: You're not playing Trent Edwards this week, Browns. Pick: Pittsburgh

Joe: Seriously, that Cleveland win over the Bills last week was something else. There hasn't been anyone to look that bad while winning since Hillary Clinton at the Pennsylvania primary. I know, you were thinking the same thing, right? Pick: Pittsburgh


Philadelphia at Oakland

Aaron: Several Bay Area media outlets report Al Davis WANTS head coach Tom Cable to be formally charged with assaulting an assistant coach so that Cable can be fired "for cause" and his contract voided. As a fan, it's like falling down a bottomless pit, waiting to hit bottom - yet bottom never comes. Pick: Philadelphia

Joe: On the bright side, at least you don't have a hockey team that will suck your soul away during the months between football and baseball seasons. Pick: Philadelphia

Arizona at Seattle

Aaron: Is Seattle's 5th ranked defense for real? Two shutouts vs. the Rams n' Jags has me leaning towards "no". Pick: Arizona

Joe: We haven't yet reached the point in the season where it matters, but at some point we're going to need to find out if the Cardinals are a good team underachieving or a bd team squeaking out some wins. Pick: Arizona


Tennessee at New England

Aaron: Junior Seau, 48, is returning to the Pats for his 28th NFL season. No one is questioning this and Seau credits a "strenuous workout regimen" for staying in football shape. All natural. Yessir. Pick: New England

Joe: Technically, voodoo does count as "all natural." Pick: New England


Buffalo at N.Y. Jets

Aaron: My team's STILL worse than your team, Joe. Pick: NY Jets

Joe: I won't even justify such a ludicrous statement with a response. Pick: NY Jets


Chicago at Atlanta

Aaron: Hey, it's two evenly matched teams. I always get these games wrong. More mismatches, please. Pick: Chicago

Joe: Hey, me too! We should start a club or something. Pick: Atlanta


Denver at San Diego

Aaron: Does this count as a "letdown" game for Denver after an emotional win vs. New England last week? Meh. Good enough excuse for me to pick against 'em, I s'pose. Pick: San Diego

Joe: I say "letdown game" too, but for the record, if Denver wins this game, they maybe become this season's '08 Tennessee Titans. Just don't let me pick them in the playoffs. Pick: San Diego
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Friday, October 16, 2009

Why I Kind of Want to Live in Whip It!


Let's start with what I didn't love about Whip It!: It's definitely a beginner's effort, directorially. It's not that it's bad, it just isn't very impressive as a visual document, the actual derby scenes could have had more impact, the whole thing could've felt a bit more rousing. But honestly, those are very small complaints, and the reason I'm still taking the time to write about this movie two weeks now since seeing it is that Whip It! does so much right.

My immediate reaction after the movie was that I wished Whip It! was a TV show, because after being immersed with those characters for almost two hours and following them through the completion of one derby season, I needed to see what happened to them after that. What of next season and the one after that? How does Bliss fare in Austin, or Maeby in New York? Do the Hurl Scouts manage to climb up from No. 2? Does Eva Destruction manage to successfully bag Rosa Sparks? It's a tribute to Barrymore, Shauna Cross, and an excellent cast that this whole universe burned so brightly. Who wouldn't want to discover a brave new world like Austin with Ellen Page and Alia Shawkat? Or meet a surrogate mom like Kristen Wiig. Or throw elbows with Drew Barrymore. Or test your mettle against Juliette Lewis. Or be in the presence of my secret stealth weapon Ari Graynor.

Inselible characters are one thing, but the story where Whip It! elevates itself above an enjoyable time at the movies and becomes something impressive and substantial. It's kind of quietly revolutionary to have this movie about girls playing a sport and not be about Girls Playing a Sport. It's not an issue -- they don't even make an issue out of the fact that it's not an issue. That stuff is left to people like me. The story gets to be about finding what you love and excelling at it, not making your case to be equal to the guys.

Even the conflict between Bliss and her parents doesn't boil down to Girls Shouldn't Play. Nobody's talked about this much that I've heard, but Marcia Gay Harden's character gets about six more dimensions than a character like that ever gets, even in very good movies. She's disapproving, but she has her reasons, and good or bad, they make sense. She's not a monster, she has her own motivations and regrets and stolen moments, and she loves her daughter not in a way that appears and disappears with the dictates of the story. It's as full a portrait of a woman who can't ever be the cool mom, wants to be a good mom, and doesn't always succeed. It's there on the page, and Marcia Gay Harden lives up to it.

That's kind of how I'd compliment Drew Barrymore's work on the film, too, despite the nagging shortcomings. It's already there on the page, but Drew manages to live up to it.
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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Why You Need to See Paranormal Activity on the Big Screen

Yes, for the communal aspects of seeing a scary movie in a crowded theatre who might all jump in unison (as was the case when I saw it last night) even though many of them were being obnoxious and chatty (as was also the case when I saw it last night).


No, the biggest reason lies in that pic up there. I tried to find as large an image as I could -- you'll still probably have to click on it to see it at full size -- to best illustrate my point. That shot -- a night-vision tableau of a bed, two sleeping bodies, and an open door, leading into a dark, cavernous hallway -- gets repeated at least a dozen times in Paranormal Activity. The movie keeps returning to it, rhythmically ebbing and flowing from day to night, relief to crisis, but always back to that fixed shot of the bedroom. And you know that where the action's gonna be. You're waiting for it. If the movie's doing it for you, you're tensed up in anticipation for what's going to happen in that room. Or under that bed. Or behind that door. Or in that hallway.

And on a small screen, you could probably keep an eye on it all at once. But on a big screen? There's just no way. Try as you might, there's just too much area to cover. Your eyes will dart from the hallway, to the bed, to the bodies, to the ceiling, to the floor. There's something waiting in the blackness outside that door, but you can't afford to keep your eyes on it for too long because why is that sheet moving??? You want a scary movie to keep you in that kind of anxious state.

Part of the reason Paranormal Activity is so successful -- and I certainly think it is -- is because it makes us stare at that bedroom for so long, again and again. Stare at it on a big screen, is what I'm saying.
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My Chick on the Side Said She Got One On the Way

[Why am I recapping an episode of Glee right now? Read this.]


Glee episode 1.6, "Vitamin D"

Previously, Quinn got knocked up, not by handsome dim bulb Finn but rather by scowling sex machine Puck, though Finn thinks otherwise, and either way, Teri plans to raise the baby as her own, Ashley Abbott style. Also, Emma is dating Ken even though dead Civil War veterans can see she's in love with Will. Also, it's not mentioned, but Kristin Chenoweth rocked the shit out of damn near everything. That also happened.

We open on Glee rehearsal, as Matthew Morrison shows off some of his more endearingly geeky white-boy moves. P.S.: Just for reference's sake, I should tell you that beyond Rachel, Finn, Puck, Quinn, and Kurt, I don't know any of the other Glee kids' names. So we're gonna go with Blonde Cheertator and Brunette Cheertator, Jock 1 (the black guy) and Jock 2 (the Asian guy), and Posh Spice, Turkey Sub, and Spazzy McGee (Asian girl, black girl, wheelchair). So anyway, Will's teaching a rather listless group here. He tells them to get it together, for there are Sectionals coming up. I'm growing to love how amorphous this whole concept of competitive Glee is. Competitions and Invitationals and grudge matches and Sectionals and Regionals and All-State Medal Rounds and we keep getting assured that this is all leading to some kind of Super Bowl of Glee, but honestly, it's just a random carrot at the end of the stick that is each episode. And...like, whatever. It's not like we're in this to see if they win a trophy. How Rachel would that be, anyway?

Click below to read the FULL recap!

So, but anyway, Turkey Sub is all, "Oh please, Sectionals are gonna be a cakewalk," but Will stresses that if they coast at Sectionals, they'll get creamed at Regionals (see??), but nobody's listening and Kurt's too busy laughing at the grape-stomping YouTube lady. So at lunch, Will sounds off to Emma about how complacent the kids have gotten lately, but Emma's too fixated on the giant blob of mustard currently residing on Will's "cute Kirk Douglas chin dimple." After an unsuccessful but still disturbingly alluring attempt to lick it off, Will has Emma get it with her plastic-gloved hands. Emma, it should be noted, is wearing a bright yellow top with a gigantic bow right on the collar, a look that has been successful for no people at any time in history. Back to the kids, though: We flash back to a week ago, when Will made the mistake of announcing their competition for Sectionals would be an academy for the deaf and a halfway house for girls just out of juvie. The kids high-five all around, not realizing that at this moment, those glee clubs could be starring in their own inspiring and darkly comedic TV series. You just never know. So Will needs to figure out a way to motivate them. What to do?

Emma starts suggesting a sticker-board or something else similarly cutesy and Emma-like, when finally we reveal that Sue Sylvester has been sitting at the next table the whole time. Now, let's talk, you and me: Jane Lynch is enduringly amazing, on this we should all agree. But her praise for this performance has thus far been slightly outpacing what's actually been onscreen -- mostly due to inconsistent writing. However, much like the show itself, that's been getting steadily better these last few weeks, and this week might be the best yet. And so, since she's already become the Mary Cherry of this show, you'll forgive me if I end up just quoting her verbatim a whole bunch: "Stop talking," she tells Emma. "I'm trying desperately to ignore the treacly-sweet inanity of your asinine conversation, but now I've got bile in my mouth. And I will hold my tongue no further." She shows Will her clipboard and explains that once a week, she'll shitcan one of her Cheerios, just to keep the rest of 'em on their toes. She reminds Will and Emma that they're dealing with children. "They need to be terrified." She advises Will to unleash the competitive beast within his kids, then turns to Emma and says "Ellen, that blouse is just insane." God, THANK YOU! Emma's scandalized, but Will thinks she may have a point.

After the credits, we see Will has set up photographic examples of great competitors in nature: Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich (current!), a great white shark and a grizzly bear, and a photo of lightning and a swimming pool, the latter of which confuses Kurt greatly. Will soldiers on and separates the group into boys and girls (Kurt needing to be reminded to stand with the boys because HA HA Kurt is a fairy girl). Will sets the terms: Boys versus Girls. One week from today, they'll each perform a mashup, and the winning team gets to choose the number they perform at Sectionals. Puck asks what a mashup is. Well, Puck, a mashup is what some of us would like to do to your face. With...our faces. Gah, mental note: delete that sentence before publishing. Anyway, Will tells them to go all out, costumes, choreography, the Full Rachel, so to speak. Speaking of whom, Rachel (who is apparently showing solidarity with Emma by wearing her own ugly collar bow, this time in blue-and-gold plaid) asks Mr. Shu who's going to judge, since his gender makes him biased. And since gender-adjacent Sue Sylvester is probably not interested, Will promises a "celebrity guest judge." Hope you saved your parking pass, Josh Groban. Turkey Sub thinks they've got this in the bag, while Rachel plans to start storyboarding the choreo immediately.

On the way out, Will notices that Finn's been yawning and blinking and generally holding up a neon sign that says "SLEEP DEPRIVED" over his head, and asks what's up. Finn just says he's been busy, and Puck drags him off to make forbidden love in the locker room attend football practice.

Sue, meanwhile, keeps a journal. Yes. YES! This way, when she finally commits that murder-suicide we all know is coming, we won't have as many lingering questions. "Feeling listless again today," Sue journals. "It began at dawn when I tried to make a smoothie out of beef bones, breaking my juicer." Okay? She notes that she spotted a quiver in Quinn's leg at cheer practice that day -- the first sign of impending imperfection. And without perfection, no endorsements; and without endorsements, no hovercraft for Sue. And since Quinn brushes it off as just being tired from Glee, it sets Sue off on an anti-Glee rant: "Every time I try to destroy that clutch of scab-eating mouth-breathers, it only comes back stronger, like some sexually ambiguous horror movie villain. Here I am, about to turn thirty [HAAAAA], and I've sacrificed everything, only to be shanghaied by the bicurious machinations of a cabal of doughy, misshapen teens." Naturally, Will is to blame, him and his store-bought home perm. She notes that she spotted yesterday's Will/Emma flirting and decides this week she'll try destroying Will.

Cut to Sue taking a lunch with Teri, which can't ever be good news. She cuts to the chase: "Your husband is hiding his kielbasa in a Hickory Farms gift basket that isn't yours." Ah, The Talk. I remember it well. Anyway, Teri's shocked -- SHOCKED -- that all her suspicions are proving true. Sue notes that Teri's put on some pounds -- and her pregnancy's no excuse either. Sue's never had the urge to procreate herself -- "Don't have the time, don't have the uterus." Sue advises that Teri take Will, pack up, and move out of town, "unless you want to lose your man to a mentally ill ginger pygmy, eyes like a bush baby." Okay, clearly American Idol picked the wrong choppy-haired blonde power lesbian to be their new judge, right? Sue advises Teri get into the school and "sniff out those sex pheromones" for herself. They happen to have an opening now that the school nurse took a tumble down some stairs and is in a coma (and yes, Sue did trip an old lady so she'd fall down the stairs, how'd you guess?). Teri says she's no nurse, but a mere Sheets N Things employee. "I'm not an American citizen," Sue counters, "I was born in the Panama Canal Zone, but I still managed to get a passport; I've run for office twice."

Clearly inspired by Sue's Panama Canal Zone-bred chutzpah, Teri meets with the principal. She notes her Sheets N Things first-aid training and has used a defibrillator. And so before you know it, Teri's there in the break room, freaking the shit out of Will and Emma (Will had just asked Emma to be the celebrity judge, which ... is a big fucking letdown, is what that is. Sorry, was Idina Menzel too busy NOT planning her return to Broadway to show up?). Anyway, Teri shoots her crazy hysterical-pregnancy Eyes at Emma and explains that she doesn't so much need training as it's a public school. That's sadly the least outrageous argument anyone will make this week.

In the locker room, Ken is blah-blahing about some blocking formation while Finn nearly dozes on the bench. Which transitions us into my least favorite segment of every episode: Finn does his voiceover which is generally dumb and not illuminating and only makes me think of how he sounds exactly like Chris Klein in Election, which makes me think of how weirdly amazing Chris Klein was in that movie, given the sorry state of the rest of his career, and then I think about how Corey Monteith should therefore enjoy the wave of this show while he has it, and oh by the way, Rachel's inner monologues are equally Tracey Flick-like and I almost wish they'd jettison those segments altogether. So. The point of Finn's little journey to his emotional core: It's exhausting being Finn. And he's kinda into Rachel, some more.

Finn woozily drifts into and out of consciousness while Puck, Kurt, and Spazzy McGee try to rouse him into rehearsing their Bon Jovi/Usher mashup. Sounds disgusting, which means it'll probably be great, because that's how this show works. Puck suggests strapping some trash cans to their feet and stomping the yard but is rudely shot down by the nerd contingent. Puck suggests Finn go to the nurse. "Every day I go in there, say I have a headache, and nap for three hours. I haven't attended a math class in two years." Suggestion taken, says Finn.

Meanwhile, Rachel tries unsuccessfully to motivate the girls, who might be even more complacent than they were before. Beating up on deaf kids and reform-school cholas is one thing, but beating the crappy boys will be even easier, is apparently the logic. Turkey sub suggests they "wing it" with their "Halo"/"Walking on Sunshine" mashup. Rachel asks after Quinn, and Blonde Cheertator says she's probably out getting elastic waist expanders, which draws a cross-caste snicker from everyone but Rachel: Nerd With Feelings. Everyone votes to wing it, so Rachel leaves, disgusted and superior as ever.

Finn hits the nurse's office and subjects himself to a Sheets N Things-approved medical consult. Teri recognizes him as Quinn's baby daddy, so she's interested in his well-being and bone structure. She gets him to open up a smidge about what's been weighing on his mind daily, and he's all, "Football, Glee, and girls." Teri's transference means she's totally offended that Finn's mind is wandering away from Quinn, and poor Finn just wants to take a nap. Teri recounts how her high-school life included a 4.0, cheerleading, and holding down Will ... and she remembers that she did so with the aid of her handy pseudoephedrine pills. "I would pop two of these blue meanies every morning and I would be a firecracker for the rest of the day." Man, before I found out about the whole meth connection, I totally thought I was on to something whenever I'd take Sudafed, write rambling (but kind of hilarious) movie columns until 4AM, and then crash until noon. Point being: Whatever glue you're sniffing has been sniffed by some burnout decades before you -- you ain't being clever. And OTC medications are the ties that bind. That makes sense, right? Anyway, Finn is skeptical (shocking), but Teri assures him that the pills are so very over-the-counter and he should take two a day. "Sweetie, I'm a school nurse," she says. "I know what I'm doing." And much as I think squeaky-voiced Teri has been just this side of too-cartoony so far, I like Jessalyn Gilsig a lot, and she plays this week's arc well.

So Finn takes the pills and the effect is something like a combination of Adderol, cocaine, and stem cells from the late Billy Mays. It's kind of hilarious as Finn bounds into the boys' rehearsal all set to go and kick ass and build houses for Habitat for Humanity, all due to this awesome new vitamin the school nurse gave him. "Vitamin D," he episode-titles, and passes out samples to his brethren. And then? It's time to rehearse! The guys' "It's My Life"/"Confessions" mashup is exactly as predicted: silly and filthy and kind of amazing. It's the matching greased-lightning jackets that really sell the Velveeta smoothness of it all. Though I need to mention once again that it's too canned for its own good, and now I'm officially convinced that Spazzy McGee doesn't do his own vocals. And Finn's voice, which actually does belong to him, kind of blows. But his crazy drugged-up enthusiasm makes up for it. And the intensity beaming out of Kurt and Puck is delicious. And Jock 2 shows some Mia Michaels-worthy choreo. Best sequence of the week, from Finn's coked-up entrance to the girls' jaw-dropped reactions to the mashup. Will flips and tells the girls they better bring it tomorrow.

After the break, Rachel tracks down Quinn at her locker. She's noticed that Quinn's been MIA lately and knows why. She tells her that Glee's gonna be there for her when everybody else in the school is making her the butt of every joke -- and even though we've already seen one-third of the female contingent of Glee already doing just that, I won't quibble, because all Rachel's doing right now is offering to be the one person not to do that. Rachel says despite exterior pressure that they be enemies, Rachel doesn't hate her, even though Quinn says she probably should. Quinn says if the situation were reversed, she wouldn't be that generous to Rachel, and Rachel knows that. "You have seven months of your youth left," Rachel says, straight faced but kind of hilarious in its candor. "You should enjoy it."

Teri calls Howard at Sheets N Things and tells him to go score 36 boxes of Sudafed for her at the drug store. She's got a nurse's office to keep stocked. Afterwards, Ken stops by to "talk frank" about how Will and Emma are obviously in love with each other. She comes clean to him about only taking the job to spy on Will -- they need to take care of this situation so she can quit. "You see, I'm not built to work five days a week." Ken suggests he and Teri see each other on the side as a remedy, a suggestion which Teri doesn't dignify with a response. And when he starts to moan about his psoriasis and undescended left testicle, Teri tells him to nut up (so to speak). Her solution: to propose to Emma. Um...brilliant? In Teri's defense, she does hand Ken a whole packet of cold pills.

Back at girls' rehearsal, Rachel is hectoring the group that they should have listened to her. They underestimated the boys, and now they're up shit's creek. And worse, Rachel will be humiliated if and when the girls lose. So what's to be done? Lucky for them, Kurt has shamefully decided to betray his brothers by ratting out their use of Usher's little helper. Kurt, Kurt, Kurt. Even after that whole football team episode, it looks like we need yet another lesson in "Being gay doesn't make you a girl." As that mashup performance just taught us, you can be plenty gay just being a boy.

Finn's still striding through the halls with the crazy eyes when Rachel angrily confronts him about being a deplorable cheater. She even threatens to call him "F-Rod," which offends Finn greatly. Normally, I'd roll my eyes at such kneejerk fat-cat-bashing and Yankee hating, but just hearing "A-Rod" reminded me of his 5 RBI in the Yanks' sweep of the Twins, while the Red Sox choked away their final game en route to being swept themselves and ... where was I? I kind of went to a very happy mental place. Puck was there. So Rachel combats Finn's performance enhancements with a recitation of her own regimen of sleep and exercise, set to that "Nobody gonna break-a my stride" song. And remember, everything I said about Finn's Election-baiting voice-overs goes for Rachel too, so let's just move on. Oh, the one thing we should note is that her motivating poster is a Grammy statue with the name "Rachel Berry" on it. Back in the hallway, Finn bottom-lines for Rachel that the girls' mashup still can't best the boys', so there.

Cut to Teri handing out the happy pills to the girls, except for Quinn who gets folic acid. Y'all, I'm glad Glee is reminding us all in this Juno- and Secret Life of the American Teenager-saturated world how totally sucky and not cute it is to be a pregnant teen. You don't even get to do uppers with your friends!

Teachers' lounge. Ken is speed-shredding documents while Will chides Teri for her terrible nursing. As Emma arrives, Terri decides to combat what appears to be Will's chronic mustard-face problem by licking it off his upper lip, which grosses Will out. He says they need a bit more separation in the course of a day, a claim that's kind of borne out by Teri wanting to accompany him to the bathroom. Meanwhile, Emma's there with another egregious collar bow. Which must do it for Ken, because he picks this moment to pop the question. Emma is freaked, for more than just the usual OCD reasons, though Ken's kind of sweet. He picked a cubic zirconia because he knows how affected she was by Blood Diamond. Still, we cut to commercial before Emma can answer.

At the girls' performance, Rachel speed-reads through their introduction. It sounds like Rachel doing competitive policy debate, which, by the way, would be absolutely terrifying and worthy of a two-episode arc in Season 2. "If there's anything this country needs right now," Rachel frenzies, "it is sunshine and optimism. Also angels." The "Halo"/"Walking on Sunshine" mashup is okay, except for a) it doesn't blend as seamlessly as the boys' song ("I can see your halo / and don't it feel good"? Um...sure?), b) the choreography is too manic, and c) forming a halo with your fingers and putting it over your own head is a disqualification. Or at least it should be. Weirdly, Puck seems totally impressed and into it, not that I'm constantly looking for him wherever he is onscreen. Regardless of the flaws, Will seems equally impressed with this performance, so maybe Teri put him on the uppers as well.

Will asks Emma to talk out in the hallway, and they congratulate each other on their awesome motivation idea. He then somberly asks if it's true that Ken proposed to her -- is she gonna say yes? She asks him if he can think of any other options she has. "Is that really a reason to marry someone?" he asks. But that wasn't what Emma was asking. Down the hall, Teri spots this close moment and springs into action. She corners Emma in her office, which has Emma unnerved for no less than a dozen reasons. Teri decides to cut to the chase: Emma has no chance with Will and that a competition between Teri and Emma is like a competition between a hammer and a nail. Emma gets equally blunt and says Will deserves better than Teri. Teri swings back with a decent point: "You're so superior because you're nice to a man who you see one, maybe two hours a day?" So superior she'd steal a man from his pregnant wife. She advises Emma to marry Ken. "Sure, he's dumb like sand and his fondue pot of nationalities is gonna open your kids up to a host of genetic diseases, but he's kind, and he's generous. And he's available." Point, and several of them, goes to Teri there. Shrew as she is.

Later, Quinn meets Teri in the hallway. She wants to take Teri up on her offer to raise the baby as her own. Quinn's got cheerleading, a life she likes, and she's even enjoying Glee -- it already feels like too much (sensing a theme, are we?) and she can't add a baby to it. Plus she doesn't want to add to Finn's eventual heart attack. She just doesn't want Mr. Shu to ever find out. However, when Quinn tries to push her luck and get Teri to shell out for medical expenses, maternity clothes, et cetera, Teri's selfishness elbows out her pragmatism, and she tells Quinn if she's gonna foot the bill for this kid for 18 years, Quinn can pick up the next nine months. Oh, that's gonna come back and bite you, Miss My Belly Is as Fake as My Hair Is Feathered.

Emma meets Ken in the locker room -- a toxic environment for her if there ever was one, so she can't stay long. She tentatively talks herself into marrying Ken under the following conditions: She wants to keep her last name, keep living on opposite sides of town, not see each other after school, not have a ceremony, not tell anyone, and generally keep it secret. It's better than Ken figured he'd get. But neither of them wants to end up alone, so it looks like they'll get married? Look, I get that this is the show Saying Something about small towns and limited options, and that Ken knows what he's signing up for and is totally asking for it, and Emma's screwed up enough to not be wholly reprehensible for wanting to keep people at arms' length, but ... how does this make me not hate her just a little? Right?

Out in the hall, Finn greets "A-Rach" and compliments the girls' "energetic" mashup performance. Rachel justifies that they were just leveling the playing field (true), but Finn lays on the guilt and gets her to admit she feels terrible. To be fair, so does he -- he doesn't even remember performing. (Uh...find a gay dude with an iTunes account, he'll remind you.) Rachel suggests they both disqualify their respective squads, then apologizes for being such a harpy about the pills. "I guess I get caught up in the competitive hysteria too," she says. "My goals are too selfish. It's time for me to stop competing against everyone and start competing alongside them." Guys, I think we have our Rachel-Related Breakthrough About Teamwork and Unselfishness of the Week!

Cut to Will and Teri in the principal's office, him flipping out on her for giving drugs to his students. Teri, exasperated: "I'll say it again: They're over-the-counter, FDA approved, and if I didn't give it to them, I'm sure the kids would just find a way to get it for themselves." No, says Will; they're good kids. Good kids preyed upon by a crazy-eyed pusher lady. "Nothing bad happened!" Teri stresses. Not true, says Principal -- Howard got arrested on suspicion for running an underground meth lab. Teri: "I never told Howard to get them all in one place." HA! Man, some excellent line readings from Jessalyn Gilsig this week. Will is aghast and even brings up the "how are we supposed to have a baby?" thing. "Every time I light a fire in my life," says Will, trying to coin a phrase, "you find a way to make sure it burns the forest down." Well, I don't see Hallmark biting on that one, but best of luck! So Teri gets shitcanned, obvi, but Will also gets disciplined for letting it happen on his watch. As punishment, he's about to be saddled with a co-chair on Glee club.

And if any one of you didn't totally call Sue Sylvester as that very co-director, you are now obligated to go an donate a hundred dollars to the Tomato Nation fall contest. No, seriously. No, SERIOUSLY. Go. Even if you did call the Sue thing. Help some kids out. Fund some extracurriculars of your own.

So Will uncorks this eye-roller for his penitent kids: "Glee is supposed to be about what's in your heart, not what's coursing through your veins." Sorry, I must be getting sympathy morning sickness with Quinn because HOOOARF! Foot off the pedal on that kind of thing, Ryan, damn. So enter Sue Sylvester. She's all full of fake enthusiasm and can't wait to start "singin' and dancin' and maybe puttin' on the ritz a little bit." It can only go awesome from here.

Less awesome: the increasingly anchor-like Emma storyline. She tells Will she accepted Ken's proposal, and Will pretends like it's not breaking him in half, and we end on the truly bummer (and clichéd!) note of them staring at each other from opposite sides of the hallway. There's distance between them now! Mission accomplished, Sue Sylvester and Teri Shuster!

Oh, but we do get one more scene of optimism: Rachel's morning routine now includes a different motivational poster: "SECTIONALS!" Looks like somebody took her weekly teamwork epiphany to heart!



Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Belated

So remember how, like, three minutes ago it was last year? And my amazing friend Sarah Bunting was running last year's Tomato Nation Fall Contest for Donor's Choose? And how I promised any of my readers who donated would be eligible for a drawing, in which the winner would be able to program Low Res for a day? Remember how you guys totally came up large while I crapped the bed for the last 365 days? ...Yeah. Nobody feels worse about that than I do, believe me.

Lucky for me, I have kind, patient readers who are willing to settle for Plan B. Considering I can't even program a full day's Low Res for ME this month, winning donor Joslyn Hansen came up with a swell alternate suggestion. Quoth: "What I would really love now is one old-school, TWoP-style recap of Glee. I know you weren't 100% on board to begin with, but I am full-on obsessing over that show. Approaching Veronica Mars territory here, which in my case is saying A LOT. So while for sure Demian and LTG are doing a kick-ass job recapping, I literally can't read enough about this show."

She's not kidding about Demian and LTG, by the way you should be reading those as you watch throughout the season. (And Jon, I owe you for last year too; be in touch.) Anyway, I've been enjoying Glee much more lately, so I thought that was an excellent idea. So I will. In fact, I have. Check back in here tomorrow for my take on the latest Glee episode, "Vitamin D."

ALSO, have you donated to the Tomato Nation Fall Contest '09 yet? Because you should. Donors Choose is an amazing organization that lets you the donor directly fund a pre-vetted project of your choosing. Currently, on Sarah's TN-specific page (Bet Red!), there are over 600 projects you can fund, from art classes to science labs to stuff as simple as books and markers and notebooks.

Click on over to Tomato Nation if you want to learn more about her specific corner of the Donors Choose drive, or click here to jump ahead and get to donating. Currently, her readers have raised more than $56,000, and the goals get much loftier from there. I can tell you there are few things more exciting than watching that figure on the TN page tick higher and higher and know your dollars are a part of that expanding pot.

AND, even though you have no reason to believe me this time after my shameful showing last year, I'll say this: if you make a donation of $25 or more and forward me the receipt, your name will go into a hat for a drawing and the winner will get to assign me another episode to recap. Show of your choosing. (Provided I, you know, watch it.) (Which I probably do.) (I watch a lot of TV.) Again, you have no reason to believe me, but my sense of shame will be a great motivator. And I'll be upfront in telling you I won't be able to get to recapping after the new year -- shit is busy -- but you can wield it like a poker chip (theme-appropriate!) to be cashed in 2010.

So check back in tomorrow for the Glee recap. And continue checking for updates on the contest. Let's fund some classrooms!
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Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Week in TV

The Office (10/8)
Okay, up front: If you're an Office fan who doesn't like Jim and Pam and the emphasis on their romance, you're not going to like this, and probably should have just skipped it altogether (and the first clue that this would be the case should have been the ads that said "Jim and Pam get married"). There's certainly enough of Jim and Pam being superior to everyone else and casting bemused glances at each other and the camera and the other again to drive you crazy. Me, I'm kind of totally okay with all the Jim and Pam stuff, probably more than is cool to admit. And this was the perfect way to deliver a whole lot of touching romantic stuff without sacrificing vomit and scrotal humor and Dwight kicking a woman in the face. Underrated: Phyllis being so catty to Stanley's mistress. And bonus points must be given for using the Chris Brown "Forever" YouTube video in such a straightforward manner (weirdly, for a show like The Office, they were kind of obligated to) and still making it work. And finally: Michael's going to show up next week having had sex with Pam's mom, isn't he? (And in fact, he may already have -- my DVR cut off the post-credits tag.)

Survivor (10/8)
So the purple team finally lost and thus we were spared 35 minutes of Russell assuring us he's running the show. We only got about 15-20 minutes of that. Jaison didn't quit like I'd feared, but that's most certainly coming, or else we wouldn't have gotten that footage of him being all defeated, right? Anyway, half of me thinks getting rid of Yasmin was the right call, because: crazy; but the other half is sad to see her go, because, again: crazy. But beyond that, I don't know what I'm rooting for on Galu because there's been no room for them on The Russell Show. Dan seems funny ... or overbearing. Brett seems cute ... and invisible. Erik seems to have a plan ... but is potentially self-righteous. There are also women on the tribe, but fuck knows who they are. Except for goddamn Shambo, who was already on thin ice with me but totally earned my ire with that shit with the chicken, the couldn't-be-less-savvy way she handled the idol clue, and her general obliviousness.

Modern Family (10/7)
Okay, that the third really funny episode in a row -- I'm in. Once again, it's an episode full of situations we've seen before: the little kid interacting with the adult on her level; the whole Costco thing. But the writing manages to make those familiar stories feel fresh (Mitchell enthusing about the caskets; Manny's milk mustache). Also, once again I find myself kind of taken with Sofia Vergara. How did this happen??

30 for 30 (10/6)
I'm generally a good mark for sports documentaries, so this seems like a good bet. The 30-different-directors thing will likely lead to some episodes being better than others. This Peter Berg-directed Gretzky entry, while generally illuminating, felt like it backed away from some really pressing questions. Gretzky does, to me, come off as a huge ego guy, and there are some blatant contradictions that didn't get explored (Gretzky's dad claims he thought Wayne's trade to the Kings was tragic; Gretzky says his dad was all for it). The indulgent bits with Berg on the golf course with Gretzky make these unasked questions even more frustrating.

The Hills (10/6)
So, yes, I hated Kristin Cavilari on Laguna Beach, but I fucking love her here. It probably has more to do with the fact that she's tormenting Audrina than anything else, but honestly, now that I've given up hope that Heidi and Spencer will ever get their comeuppance (or would even recognize it if they did), I need to enjoy the small pleasures. Like Audrina feebly trying to apply "girl" code to a girl who is not her friend.

Gossip Girl (10/6)
"Do you think anyone really knows who they are? We don't. We just live." God bless you, Lily Bass, it has been too long. Really fun episode despite Dan Humphrey being at his most insufferable (of COURSE he has no idea who the enormously famous actress is), plus terrible Hillary Duff acting. I liked it mostly for the following: Lily! Watching Blair form her own Finer Things Club at NYU (and the hilarious prospect of them taking NYU down from the inside). Watching Nate at his most enjoyable, specifically being Dan's best girlfriend. And most of all, watching Jenny and her full-body trashiness cat around with Chuck Bass. It makes no sense. I should be repulsed by her, but I quite simply can't look away.

The Amazing Race (10/5)
It's only been two episodes but I'm loving this season. The villains haven't been allowed to overwhelm the season with their awfulness (ahem, SURVIVOR), while the good teams have been thus far uncommonly fun. How I ended up really liking the guy who spells his name "Cheyne" ("Shane") is an eternal mystery to me, but I dig him, the dad and his pink-haired son, "Team Zebra," and (once again) Sam and Justin just a bit more than their teammates Dan and Zev. And while I liked the old couple who got eliminated well enough, she always seemed just this side of a breakdown while he seemed equally teetering on the edge of snapping at her, so it's not the world's worst thing they're gone.

Smooth Joey Apollo's 2009 NFL Picks: Week 5

Last Week:
Aaron 9-5
Joe 8-6

Season to Date:
Joe 42-20
Aaron 39-23


WEEK 5

Cincinnati at Baltimore

Aaron: Last week's Ravens/Pats Brady-biased officiating crew accomplished two things: (1) handing the Patriots a win and (2) pissing the Ravens off. And, we all know what Ray Lewis is (allegedly) capable of when he's pissed off. Pick: Baltimore

Joe: So look for Ray Lewis to watch his fellow defenders make plays while he rats them out to the officials? (Oh, go to Wikipedia if you don't get it.) Pick: Baltimore


Cleveland at Buffalo

Aaron: Good thing the Raiders are still in the league. Right, Joe! Joe? Pick: Buffalo

Joe: Clearly, I got greedy last week. Pick: Cleveland


Washington at Carolina

Aaron: Both teams are coming off a bye week, except the Redskins actually played a game vs. Tampa Bay. What? Oh, it's just as funny as those "Bye Week (-7) vs. Bad NFL Team" spreads that appear in Bill Simmons's column twice a year. Pick: Carolina

Joe: The 'Skins came far too close to losing to those Bye Week Bucs last week. Pick: Carolina


Pittsburgh at Detroit

Aaron: Two downtrodden industrial cities equally represented by a world champion team and a band of lovable losers. Is ESPN's NFL Countdown show planning on cloning Chris Connelly so that he can file soft-focus features on both locales? Pick: Pittsburgh

Joe: Pittsburgh is not a good enough team that they can afford to look past the Lions. Which speaks as ill of the Steelers as it does of Detroit. Pick: Pittsburgh


Dallas at Kansas City

Aaron: We've reached the point where this probably shouldn't even be considered an upset, anymore. Pick: Kansas City

Joe: Damn you, Cameron. This was supposed to be MY not-even-considered-and-upset special! Well...maybe. Pick: Dallas


Oakland at N.Y. Giants

Aaron: If JaMarcus Russell starts all 16 games at QB for the Raiders, I'm done. I took Randy Moss. I took the benching of Marcus Allen. I took Art Shell the Sequel. I'm not taking this. Pick: NY Giants

Joe: Readers, this man's team was last in a Super Bowl in 2002. Temper your pity appropriately. Pick: NY Giants


Tampa Bay at Philadelphia

Aaron: The Eagles aren't really bringing back Donovan McNabb against a doormat like Tampa Bay are they? Why not next week, when they're playing...oh, Oakland. Pick: Philadelphia

Joe: Better to let him get healthy by feeding on the pre-chewed carcass of the Bucs. That's just nature at its grossest/finest. Pick: Philadelphia


Minnesota at St. Louis

Aaron: Brett Favre is going to play forever. It's time we just accept it. Pick: Minnesota

Joe: This would be such a no-brainer letdown game if Minnesota weren't playing a team of zombies. And not the fast, tough 28 Days Later zombies either. The "Thriller" zombies who just want to shuffle slowly and dance. Pick: Minnesota


Atlanta at San Francisco

Aaron: I've barely been following the now-resolved Michael Crabtree saga, so I need to know: has MC Hammer always been involved in this storyline? If not, I won't bother scouring the archives. Pick: Atlanta

Joe: Wait, is MC Hammer taking up sides AGAINST the Atlanta Falcons? And a follow-up: When does the FOX NFL Sunday crew interview the Real Housewives of Atlanta about all their football-playing ex-husbands? Call me crazy, but Terry Bradshaw and Kim Zolciak would be a match made in heaven. Pick: Atlanta


New England at Denver

Aaron: Last week, I called Denver a fraud and thought the Ravens would disembowel the Patriots. Might as well keep the "I end up being wrong" streak alive. Pick: Denver

Joe: Just because Tony Romo's arm had a nervous breakdown last week doesn't mean Denver's not a fraud. Save for one big play, they could barely move the ball against a bad defense. Pick: New England


Jacksonville at Seattle

Aaron: The one constant with Jacksonville is that whatever happens, I'll pick the wrong week to start/bench David Garrard on my fantasy team. Pick: Seattle

Joe: I think this is one of those weird games where I just throw up my hands and go with the best player on the field. Make me look good, Maurice Jones-Drew. Pick: Jacksonville


Houston at Arizona

Aaron: Y'see, starting David Garrard IS an option when Houston's Matt Schaub is your other fantasy QB. Pick: Arizona

Joe: Wait, you've got Matt Schaub and you're tormented whether you should start David Garrard? I want those kinds of problems. Pick: Houston


Indianapolis at Tennessee

Aaron: How long before the Titans consider breaking Vince Young out of Arkham Asylum for one last chance? The fact that VY wouldn't be worse than JaMarcus Russell makes my heart sad. Pick: Indianapolis

Joe: Sometimes I think about what a sad-sack franchise the Colts were during the Bills Super Bowl years and I get sad. Then I get hopeful. Then I get sad again. Pick: Indianapolis


N.Y. Jets at Miami

Aaron: Miami's coming off a bye week, except they played an actual game against Buffa...whoa, wait. Already used that gag. Pick: NY Jets

Joe: JaMarcus Russell. JaMarcus Russell. JaMarcus Russell. Wait, the theme isn't "Gags Cam's Repeated"? Pick: NY Jets