Wednesday, September 23, 2009

SYTYCD Auditions: Boston

Audition City: Boston, at the Colonial Theater
Judges: Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy, Tyce D'Orio,

I'm partial to this episode because I'm from Massachusetts and I love seeing dancers from cities I know. Cheesy but true. Represent please, Mass!

First up: Teddy Tedholm, 18, clad in clown pants and a bowtie. He dances to Jason Mraz's "If It Kills Me," the song Jason & Jeanine did their great routine to just last season, when they kissed at the end. Anyway...Teddy jumps around doing not much dancing but some interesting moves, fairly entertaining.The judges like it. Weird. They can't decide if he's crazy or brilliant. he's going straight to Vegas. How odd.

Next auditioner: Jean Lloret, 22. He's a breaker with crazy-good power moves. Mary and Nigel both start yelling when he executes a move, where he does a sort of handstand while moving his legs up around him very slowly. The judges give him a ticket to Vegas without even discussing it. He's amazing.

We briefly see a man named Kimara Wood. He's the one wearing black pants, has dreads, and a great chest, and looks like he's flying. Straight to Vegas.

Another anonymous successful guy flashes by.

Now we meet Channing Cooke, 18,from Haverhill, MA, who is an ice cream scooper. A young blonde- cue tenting in Nigel's shorts. She has a great legs. Her routine is Contemporary Blah. A lot of posing. It gets more interesting as she goes on, and she starts to display some talent. Mary and Tyce love her, and all three judges say yes to choreography.

How does a guy this tall get through life without hitting his head on every door? Ryan Casey, 18, from Lexington, MA, is 6'8", and of course Nigel makes a basketball joke. Ryan is a tapper, and dances to funky rap number. Nigel notes that he has "very well educated ankles." Mmmkay. Nigel also asks if he passes out when he goes to Denver. Ha yeah, very funny. Oy vey. They mention that he has flappy arms, and send him off to choreography

A krumper has never made it to Vegas. Why bother having a legendary krumper like Lil C on staff if krumping isn't going to cut it on SYTYCD? Also, why does Nigel always ALWAYS pronounce it "Little C"? It's irksome.
Russell Ferguson is a krumper and he's a pleasure to watch. I won't say "Buck!" because that's stupid...but it's a little buck. Tyce, channeling Mia, describes his routine positively as "filthy, dirty!" They send him to choreography to see if he can handle other styles.

Tyce imitates Molly Shannon's crazy "Iloveitiloveitiloveit!" leg in the air lady on SNL. It's disturbing.

Now we have Fabrizio "Breeze" Jenkins, 26, of Roxbury. Popping/hip hop style. He was a 10 lb baby and says that he's called "Breeze" since his mom said he was a breeze to birth, it only took two hours. That's funny, I thought he was called Breeze because it's short for Fa-BREEZE-io. He's a good dancer for a club, I'd say...until he appears to fall over after his ankle buckles, but he gets up and keeps going. "A lot of fun" Nigel says and, "Yes to choreography." Tyce says no, and comes down to Mary...she says yes to Choreo.

Anya and Pasha handle the Choreography round again this week with that same Latin ballroom music.

Breeze checks out quickly from Choreo, his ankle's too fucked up and he's out of his league.
Tall guy Ryan does not go through to Vegas
Channing the blonde, Russell the krumper (the first one ever to go through on the show!), and eight others are on their way to Las Vegas.

Day 2 in Boston

Nigel opens the day by addressing the auditioners, and tells them to go home if they're not a star.
On to the auditions...

Married couple Karen and Matthew Hauer, both 27, are Latin ballroom dancers. They do a very good routine, sexy and they're very comfortable with each other obviously. Mary calls the wife "One hot tamale!" They both get tickets to Vegas.

Incidentally, Mary looks prettier and less bloated, I think the Botox finally settled in.

Cheesy Latin lovah Gene Bersten, 21, tries out solo. He works his hips constantly, shows off his ass, and does a split that quite frankly scared me. Mary calls him a Hottie Patottie. He then rips his shirt open, thereby tearing his number in half. Bwahaha. The judges advise Gene to control his face more, especially his eyebrows. Off to Choreography he goes.

We now meet the batshit crazy Paul Magliato, 46, a creepy bald dude in blue spandex who has the dead stare of a serial killer. He's too old for the competition, but of course they let him try out anyway so they can mock him. He sucks, naturally.

Some crappy auditions breeze by. There's a montage of Tyce acting like a dick, but it's Tyce, so he's still not that mean. Quick question, Tyce: how can dancing be like "nails on a chalkboard"? That expression applies to sound, not to sight. But I digress.

Kevin "Kbez" Hunte auditioned two seasons ago, and is a hip hop dancer. he says he's been training in contemporary but the judges feel he didn't show it. He's off to Choreography to prove himself.

Choreography Round, Day 2: Kbez and Gene, and 21 others are sent to Vegas! Did I hear them right? 21 sounds like way more than usual. Oh well.

Next week: Atlanta..y'all!


Wow. Incredible episode. There's something about this show that just makes me so damn happy after watching it.
Alright, onto the recap/review...

The episode opens with...

Oh dear, Choreographis Interruptus. Kurt explains to his dad (guest star Mike O'Malley) that he's merely dancing in order to improve his football playing because he has joined the team, as the kicker. Dad is surprised and still spooked, frankly, but Kurt plays it off, and says that he and his dad will have something to talk about now. Now Kurt just has to figure out how the hell to back up this outrageous lie.

Teri and Will practice Lamaze breathing while Teri's sister Kendra visits and frightens Will with childbirth horror stories. She offers to massage Teri's belly. Teri panics, for obvious reasons, and gives Kendra the scoop after sending Will to the kitchen to make her a BLT. Kendra is surprisingly okay with the fake baby situation. Jennifer Aspen is great in this scene, especially her reaction to Teri panicking suddenly about having a baby. Her response? "Omigod, is the baby black?!"

Evil cheerleading coach Sue has been given her own spot on the local news, sharing her offensive opinions with the community. Her latest? Her ridiculously awesome pro-caning-in-school rant follows:
"To the people that say you can't smack children on their bare buttocks with razor sharp bamboo sticks I say, YES WE CANE!!!"
Sue's ratings are through the roof, and she rubs her new success in the other teachers' faces.

Glee Club is doing "Tonight" from "West Side Story" and Rachel is pissed that Will is giving Tina the solo. Rachel behaves like an entitled biotch, even after Will points out that Tina should be allowed to be happy about getting a solo for a change. Rachel feels that she has a special connection to Natalie Wood because they're both Jews.

Finn helps Kurt solve his kicker conundrum by getting him an "audition" with the football team. Kurt insists on trying out exactly as he has practiced- with "Singles Ladies" playing as he shimmies up to the ball and kicks it right between the goal posts. He makes the team, and acknowledges the cheering with a classic Miss America wave that I will turn into a gif as soon as a clip is online. Fucking beautiful moment.

A guy from the news station meets with Sue and tells her that she needs to remain a champion coach in order to keep her news gig. She resolves to fix the cheerleaders-defecting situation and pays a visit to Sandy, after blackmailing the principal into letting Sandy return to the school as an arts administrator. Sandy is going to help take down Glee.

Celibacy queen Quinn tells Finn that she's pregnant, despite them never having sex. Apparently he blew his wad during a hot tub encounter (bathing suits on, too) and she convinces him that she is preggers now. Finn is floored.

The new arts administrator is staging a production of Cabaret to steal away Rachel, and it works. Rachel auditions with Celine Dion's song, "Taking Chances." We only hear the tail of the song, but here is the full version with Lea Michele singing.

She gets the part, of course.

Will tries to talk to Rachel, admitting that they need her, but that the other members slack off because she does everything for them. The other singers need to know they can be stars too. Rachel rebuffs Will's attempt.

Will finds out that Sandy has returned to the school, and refuses to play nice about it. Sandy declares them adversaries.

Tina rehearses "Tonight" (no video or audio available yet that I've found, alas). She sounds very good, but is hard on herself. Will encourages her, noting that she stutters much less when she's confident. Tina says that Rachel is better, and they should give Rachel the Tonight solo because she'll quit otherwise.

Finn shows up at the rehearsal, and begins crying on Will's shoulder (literally) about the news of Quinn's pregnancy. Will doesn't know what he can do for Finn, other than help him contact a Planned Parenthood.Finn declines that help, but then asks Will for help with the football team, much to the teacher's surprise.
Finn explains that he and Puck were doing much better on the team since Will worked on dancing and loosening up with them for the Acafellas. Will doesn't think the football team will go for dancing, but agrees to try for Finn's sake.

Will tells Teri that Quinn is pregnant with an unwanted baby, and Teri's wheels start turning...

The team is predictably opposed to the dancing idea, but Coach Tanaka is for it and so they give it a try since they suck so badly. Kurt leads them in dancing to "Single Ladies" (of course.) One of the players looks like an average-height, really fat version of Herve Villechaise. As dance practice ends, Finn tells Puck about the pregnancy.

Puck is surprised, since he knows Quinn and Finn weren't having sex. He looks REALLY shocked. Hmmm.... I wonder...
Puck approaches Quinn, saying, "Sup, MILF." We learn that Puck got Quinn drunk of wine coolers and had sex with her, and she allowed it since she was feeling fat that day.Puck shockingly is somewhat sweet about it, offering to help take care of the baby because it's his, but Quinn insults him and runs off to her car crying.
Who should be in her car waiting, but Teri, lurking creepily.
She doesn't know Teri, but Teri know who she is and what her problem is. She offers to help, starting with prenatal vitamins: "Take these three times a day or your baby will be ugly." Quinn is puzzled, and wonders what Teri wants from her. Oooh! Ooh! I know the answer! I think we all do.

Time for the big football game. The team is doing horribly but refuse to dance because they'll get made fun of. Kurt sees his dad is there, watching the game, and Kurt jumps and waves at him in a way that is eerily reminiscent of the old Homocil faux commercial from SNL.
A rival team player heckles Puck, who retorts that he had sex with that guy's mom. He then elaborates, "No really, I cleaned your pool and then I had sex with your mom on your bed. Nice Star Wars sheets." Heh. I'm loving Puck so much the last two episodes.
Finn calls time out with one second on the clock, and the team agrees to give Kurt's dancing idea a try finally. The music starts, and the big beefy players bust out moving to "Single Ladies" again. The crowd loves it, and the boys find their groove, making a great play, leading to an opportunity for Kurt to kick. If he gets the goal, they win the game. Now really, what do YOU think happens?

Kurt steps up, and takes his musical kick...and it's good! The team carries Kurt, the boy they were beating up on the first episode, on their shoulders across the field. Kurt blows a kiss happily to the crowd.
Quinn and Finn kiss in celebration, while Puck watches on jealously.

Now...a big scene. Big beautiful important scene. I got a little weepy here, I have to admit. Took me back to high school, and seeing several of my friends deal with being gay in high school.

Kurt's dad tells him that he's proud of him and wishes Kurt's late mother could be there to see him. Kurt musters up the courage, and tells his dad he has something to tell his dad, because he doesn't want to lie anymore. Quietly, Kurt finally tells his dad that he's gay. His dad says...he knows. He's known since Kurt was three, and asked for sensible heels for birthday. He's not in love with the idea, but if that's who Kurt is, there's nothing Dad can do about it, but he loves Kurt just as much.


Denouement for tonight:
Finn gives Quinn his baby blanket, and Puck swings by their lockers to comment on Quinn gaining weight. Finn defends her, and Puck uncharacteristically backs off.

Will refuses to back down on the issue of the West Side Story solo. Rachel officially quits Glee. Will then announces that three football players have joined Glee- Puck and two other guys whose names escaped me. Mmmmmm more Puck.

Thus endeth the story.
Next week: Kristen Chenoweth brings her amazing Tony-and-Emmy-winning self to Glee. Rachel slaps Finn! And we finally see "Somebody To Love."

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Emmy Predictions for Tonight's Show at 8

The Creative Arts Emmy Awards have already been given out. For a list of wins, visit the official Emmy site list here. This includes the Best Guest Actor/Actresses and Best Choreography (a must for SYTYCD nuts like me) categories, in addition to the sound editing/lighting crap that no one cares about.

The show starts tonight at 8PM, on CBS and will be hosted by Neil Patrick Harris.
Here's a list of the categories we'll see tonight, with my personal picks and favorites in bold.

Best Series, Drama

'Big Love'
'Breaking Bad'

'Mad Men'

Best Series, Comedy

'30 Rock'
'Family Guy'
'Flight Of The Conchords'

'How I Met Your Mother'
'The Office'

Best Actor, Drama

Bryan Cranston
'Breaking Bad'
Michael C. Hall

Hugh Laurie
Gabriel Byrne
'In Treatment'
Jon Hamm
'Mad Men'
Simon Baker
'The Mentalist'

Best Actor, Comedy

Alec Baldwin
'30 Rock'
Tony Shalhoub
Jim Parsons
'The Big Bang Theory'

Steve Carell
'The Office'
Charlie Sheen
'Two And A Half Men'
Jemaine Clement
'Flight Of The Conchords'

Best Actress, Drama

Sally Field
'Brothers & Sisters'
Glenn Close
Mariska Hargitay
'Law & Order: Special Victims Unit'
Holly Hunter
'Saving Grace'
Kyra Sedgwick
'The Closer'
Elisabeth Moss
'Mad Men'

Best Actress, Comedy

Tina Fey
'30 Rock'
Christina Applegate
'Samantha Who?'
Julia Louis-Dreyfus
'The New Adventures Of Old Christine'
Sarah Silverman
'The Sarah Silverman Program'

Mary-Louise Parker
Toni Collette
'United States Of Tara'

Best Supporting Actor, Drama Series

William Shatner
'Boston Legal'
Christian Clemenson
'Boston Legal'
Aaron Paul
'Breaking Bad'

Michael Emerson
John Slattery
'Mad Men'
William Hurt

Best Supporting Actress, Drama Series

Rose Byrne
Hope Davis
'In Treatment'
Chandra Wilson
'Grey's Anatomy'
Sandra Oh
'Grey's Anatomy'
Dianne Wiest
'In Treatment'
Cherry Jones

Best Supporting Actor, Comedy Series

Kevin Dillon
Tracy Morgan
'30 Rock'
Neil Patrick Harris
'How I Met Your Mother'
Rainn Wilson
'The Office'

Jon Cryer
'Two And A Half Men'
Jack McBrayer
'30 Rock'

Best Supporting Actress, Comedy Series

Kristin Chenoweth
'Pushing Daisies'
Kristen Wiig
'Saturday Night Live'

Amy Poehler
'Saturday Night Live'
Jane Krakowski
'30 Rock'
Vanessa Williams
'Ugly Betty'
Elizabeth Perkins

Best Reality-Competition Program

'American Idol'
'Dancing With The Stars'
'Project Runway'

'The Amazing Race'
'Top Chef'

Best Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program

Ryan Seacrest
'American Idol'

Tom Bergeron
'Dancing With the Stars'
Phil Keoghan
'The Amazing Race'
Heidi Klum
'Project Runway'
Jeff Probst
Padma Lakshmi and Tom Colicchio
'Top Chef'

Best Variety, Music or Comedy Series

'Late Show With David Letterman'
'Real Time With Bill Maher'
'Saturday Night Live'
'The Colbert Report'

'The Daily Show With Jon Stewart'

Best Miniseries

'Generation Kill'

'Little Dorrit'

Best Lead Actor, Miniseries or Movie

Kevin Kline
'Cyrano de Bergerac'
Brendan Gleeson
'Into The Storm'
Sir Ian McKellen
'King Lear'

Kevin Bacon
'Taking Chance'
Kiefer Sutherland
'24: Redemption'
Kenneth Branagh
'Wallander: One Step Behind'

Best Lead Actress, Miniseries or Movie

Chandra Wilson
'Accidental Friendship'
Shirley MacLaine
'Coco Chanel'
Drew Barrymore
'Grey Gardens'

Jessica Lange
'Grey Gardens'
Sigourney Weaver
'Prayers For Bobby'

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

GLEE: Ep 3- "Acafellas"

The episode should be called GUTS! because that's really what it's all about tonight.

Will tells his parents (played by Debra Monk and Victor Garber) that Teri's pregnant. Will's nervous about being a dad and his father tells him he just need guts. Will's dad settled for working in an insurance agency instead of going to law school, and regrets it. Dad says Will has to figure out if he has any guts.

Will is choreographing a number with Glee. Rachel complains about the dancing, after being prompted to by the cheer-saboteurs. The cheer-tators recommend a choreographer named Dakota Stanley. This is all very Sparky Pulastri.

Will vents to Emma about his stress. She's says it's okay because they're both in relationships, and basically they can talk now.

Sandy the ex-teacher (Stephen Tobolowsky is amazing, once again) isn't allowed within fifty feet of children, but that doesn't stop him from visiting the teachers lounge. The shop teacher, Henry, has returned after severing his thumbs in an unfortunate cough-medicine related saw accident. Sandy is glad Henry's back and notes that you'll get a "schoolful of nancies unless you get some hot wood in those teenagers' hands." One of many priceless lines tonight.

Will, Sandy, Henry and Ken observe how lame their lives are while enjoying some Welcome-Back Thumb cake. Ken Tanaka lives at the YMCA, and Sandy writes Desperate Housewives fanfic. Niiiice. The guys sing "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow " for Henry, and an idea is born.
The four men form an a capella group, with Howard the inventory guy. Howard suggests they call it...The Acafellas. They immediately vote out Sandy because he's creepy. Wills busts into "This is How We Do It." Heh, the first of many fun a capella numbers tonight.

In Teri news, Teri is screwing Will every week now (trying to get pregnant of course). Will has no clue the pregnancy isn't real.
Rachel brings Will cookies at school, and says he's missed six rehearsals since he's so wrapped up in the Acafellas. He blows her off, and Rachel pushes Glee to hire the choreographer.

Finn hates the idea and points out to Rachel that she's pissed at him about what happened between them, and Rachel says he has feelings for her and no guts to admit it. Finn can't deny it. Finn threatens to quit Glee if she hires Dakota Stanley, but Rachel intends to do it anyway. Good for Rachel. What would the new kid know about dancing, anyway?

Sue touches base with her squad of skirted spies. She reminisces about being a part of the strike team in Panama that went after Noriega. She encourages them to push the choreographer issue to help ruin Glee. Jane Lynch, as Sue, is perfect this week. She's like a drill instructor in track pants and severe makeup.

Hanging out at their lockers, Mercedes asks Kurt if he's ever kissed anyone. Kurt says, "Yes, if by yes, you mean the tender crook of my elbow." Then he spritzes the hairspray on. PERFECT! I love this kid. Kurt reiterates to Mercedes that they are the lowest in the social order and get no love. The passing cheer-infilitrators tell Mercedes that she should go after Kurt.

The Aca-pellas do Bell Biv Devoe's "Poison" at a local bar. AWESOME. Tanaka raps and it's great. Funniest thing I've seen all week. Principal Figgins, Teri and Emma all watch. Principal Figgins asks the group to perform at the PTA meeting to make the parents happy since the school's been serving prison food.

Sandy is bitter about his ouster and wants in. He can get Josh Groban to come to their PTA show, and he heard Josh is looking for an opening act. ooOOOOoo

Outside by Kurt's SUV, on the way to find the choreographer....everyone admires the vehicle and Kurt tells that his dad bought him a car after Kurt promised to stop wearing form-fitting sweaters that stop at the knee. His glee-mates look him up and down and he says blithely, "What he doesn't know won't hurt him." Have I said how much I love this kid? Kurt then compliments Mercedes's outfit. They find the place where the choreographer is and find a girl is vomiting outside. She says he's a monster!

Dakota Stanley, played by Whit Hertford, is a short little bastard who shreds his brilliantly-performing singer-dancers, and ignores the Glee kids. He finally tells his fee is $8000 cover, plus $10000 bonus if they place top 3 in the Nationals.

PTA performance night arrives...and Henry cracks, and goes wild on the cough syrup. Howard quits, because his life is inventory or something.
Finn goes to Will and says he's quitting Glee. Will asks him to have the guts to not quit. Then he asks Finn to step in with the Acafellas for the big show.

Puck the jock (Mark Salling) surprisingly offers his services to Coach Tanaka in the acapella group. Puck thinks he has star potential. He plays the guitar, and he's sick of teenage girls, he wants cougars. Since he started doing music and hanging out with older women, he beats people up less now. Tanaka agrees to take Puck on, and threatens to kick his ass if Puck fucks up.Puck and Finn rehearse with Will, and it's good.

Rachel and Tina have a gay-vention for Mercedes, which is intervening when your friend likes a gay man. Mercedes is in denial, even after they point out that Kurt wore a corset to second period.
Mercedes explains that Kurt is sweet to her, and he is one of them. Guys don't ask out the Glee girls, and they're all lonely. Her friends leave it alone.

The cheerleaders hold a bikini carwash to raise money for the choreographer. This episode is 50% stolen from Bring It On and I don't care.
Mercedes and Kurt are cleaning his SUV. Mercedes still thinks they're dating and when she says so, Kurt tells her he's in love with someone else.

"Rachel?" she asks, and Kurt says, "Yes for several years now." It's obviously BS but Mercedes freaks out and smashes his window. Leading to....

Messing with a man's vehicle will never win his love, honey. But damn Amber Riley has a great voice.

Glee meets with Dakota Stanley now that they can afford him. He tells Kevin that he can't be in it because he can't dance, being paralyzed and all. He tells Kurt to shut his face gash. (Heh) And he feels like a woodland creature because Finn is freakishly tall! (Gloriously campy lines.) Everyone but Rachel and the cheerleaders walk out. Rachel has an epiphany and brings up the example of people telling Barbra Streisand that she needed a nose job when she started out. Glee don't need a choreographer. They'll win because they're different. She fires Dakota.

The Acafellas are getting ready and Tanaka is putting on mascara, because it makes his eyes pop. Josh Groban is there in the audience.
The 'fellas perform "I Wanna Sex You Up" with Sandy. Puck sings and dances well, getting on the floor, grinding a bit. Sue's reaction shot to this is GOLD. Half sneer, half lust. Jane Lynch, Emmys next year, count on it.
After the very successful show, the guys backstage meet Josh Groban. Turns out he actually came there to tell Sandy to stop emailing him, sending nude pics, sonnets, locks of hair, etc. He gives Sandy a restraining order and tells the Acafellas that the show was great.

Josh Groban hangs and talks to Will's mom. He tells he's tired of throngs of screaming teens and apparently likes drunks old broads.

Having tasted musical success, Will realizes that being a teacher is enough for him. His dad is happy for him and tells Will that he's decided to go to law school, that it's never too late.

Mercedes apologizes to Kurt for breaking his window. He says it doesn't matter anyway because his dad took his car away after he found Kurt's tiara collection. Kurt confesses that he doesn't really like Rachel and tells Mercedes simply, "I'm gay." He's never told anyone before and seems scared but relieved. Mercedes is okay with it. Kurt isn't ready to share this with the rest of Glee yet.

Sue is pissed her plan failed, and that Glee is more confident than ever. She makes the cheerleaders smell their own armpits so they'll know "the smell of failure." She revokes their tanning privileges for the rest of the semester. Quinn thanks her for teaching her that when you believe in yourself, you don't have to bring others down. Hmm. Quinn turning on Sue, and towards Glee for real? We'll see.

Glee is rehearsing as they were at the beginning. Rachel tells Will that the dancing is really good.

Next week: Sue and Sandy team up to take on Glee. Intriguing.

So You Think You Can Dance, Season 6: Auditions

Audition City: Phoenix, AZ
Judges: Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy, Mia Michaels

Cat Deeley is wearing a white peasant blouse embroidered with red flowers. Very pretty. Are they still letting her style herself?

Moving on...

We meet a short black guy named Brendan who goes by "Shorty," and his dancing partner, Demetrio, a really fat guy nicknamed "Biggie." Highly original, boys. In an effort to display their sensitivity, the sound editors have bouncing sound effects whenever Biggie jumps and lands. Niiiice.
They're NOT a disaster, actually. Hip hop, mild popping. Shorty is stronger by far, the overall effect is entertaining. The judges put Shorty through to the Choregraphy Round.

Next up: Sasha Mallory, who made it to Vegas during Season 4. Her family is watching her perform today and she feels more comfortable. She's wearing a white tank dress over what looks like a bright red leotard, and she's holding a red rose. Her audition is contemporary. Very nice, you can see her telling a story. Good technique overall. Mia likes it. Mary thinks it was beautiful. Sasha's weeping in joy. Straight to Vegas once again for Sasha.

We see brief auditions from:
An 18 year old brunette named Katie. She's wearing an unbuttoned plaid shirt. Are we bringing grunge to contemporary dance? Alright then. Gets ticket to Vegas.
Next: Ellie Soto, 21, also going to Vegas

And here comes the big weepy Human Interest Audition where courage is saluted, and tears shed, and dancing ability becomes secondary!
Meet Allison Becker, 21. She had spinal meningitis as a child,and is deaf now. She feels the music instead of using her ears, the vibrations keep her on rhythm, and she wants to be role model. There's something very gymnastic about her dancing. She's okay, but not good enough. The judges are very serious watching her. Nigel says her face is beautiful. Of course. She's blonde, and Nigel loves his young blondes. Her technique is not as good as he would like it. He notes that if it wasn't written down, he'd never know she was hearing impaired. Mary knows it hasn't been easy. Her cousin was in the same comes the BIG MARY TEARS! Very Tammy Faye of her. Her cousin gave up when she was Allison's age, but Allison hasn't. Mary's crying but she claims that she's actually very happy. Mia asks Allison what inspires her, because for Mia, it's music that inspires her dancing. Allison says that it's music for her too, only she hears it differently.
After all this adoration, they send her to Choreography.

This year, we have another same-sex ballroom pair. There was a pair who auditioned last year, and Nigel scorned them for being a man-man pairing. The couple last year actually sucked, but these guys are Ballroom Champions. Awww, they met in line during season 2 of the show. Their names are Willem de Vries and Jacob Jason. They're really good. Nigel looks initially put out that they aren't terrible. He loudly says over the music, "They've got great lines to it!" Way to overcompensate, Nige. During the judges' remarks, Mia is welling up. Mia says that she celebrates their courage to expose themselves (teehee) and their hearts. Mary is proud of them. Nigel says thanks for showing him that same sex ballroom can be very strong and good. He admits he got himself into trouble last time. He then asks them to do choreography.The tall partner volunteers the information that they do like dancing with girls as well. I'm sure Nigel is relieved.

Quick joke audition from Jonathan Noronha. He uses short batons (and drops one), and then spells out "disco" with letters on paper. It's pretty funny, actually. He's not the worst I've ever seen on the show, by far. Definite no for him, though.

The 1st Day ends. Anya and Pasha run the Choreography round, in Latin ballroom.
Biggie quits, saying that he'll try harder next time, but this is not his thing. Shorty is not sent to Vegas, he's just not good enough.
Allison the deafie, Jacob, Willem, and 12 others are going to Vegas.

Day 2 In Phoenix

First dancer up is Jarvis Johnson, 18, a hyperactive, screechy fireball.He literally dances his shoes off and slaps his ass during his not-bad routine. He's a good club-hip hop dancer, great drops, but cannot break at all. At one point during the judges' remarks, he declares he's a box of chocolates. Comparing yourself to a Forrest Gump quote, not a promising sign! Nigel says that he's a great entertainer, not a great dancer. Mia says he's sunshine, and says yes to Choreo. Nigel says he can go to choreo, but if he doesn't pick it up quickly, he has to leave. Well that's kind of a dick move.

Freakshow auditions montage set to "People are Strange." At one point, Nigel asks, "How close are we to Roswell?" Well, it's in another state entirely, so not that close, Nigel.

Next Phoenix weirdo: Kelsey White. A cute blonde. Oh, Nigel is going to cream his knickers over this one. She's just okay. They ask if she's ever been kidnapped by
aliens? And Kelsey says,"Just once." Nigel walks off stage jokingly. Calls from off stage "Yes to choreography" a couple times. Mary and Mia agree with that.

Finally, we get to Jonathan 'Legacy' Perez, 27. He's gotten some hype already. He's an amazing bboy dancer. He lives up to his hype, definitely the most striking we've seen audition so far. He does what Nigel calls a "back-handed duckwalk" that is wicked cool. Nigel is hugely excited. Mary agrees "exciting". The judges acknowledge that Legacy assisted a choreographer last year. Mia says he's stupid, but in a good way. Mia loves her ghetto words, they sound fabulous coming out of the mouth of a middle-aged white woman wearing frosted lipstick. Legacy is off to Vegas, of course. He's pure Top 20 material.

The final Choreography round in Phoenix: Jarvis Johnson collapses,and paramedics attend to him. His sunshine is gone, he's teary-eyed and panicky, having had an asthma attack. He's okay finally.

NO, to Kelsey the UFO girl. Pretty sure Nigel wants to anal probe her though.
Five anonymous others are put through to Vegas. No names, very indistinct.

Next week: Boston

Behind The Music

Do ya like a good music documentary or live concert movie? Me too. I don't make it out to see live music NEARLY as much as I used to, so sometimes living vicariously through a DVD is about the best I can do. Here are a few of my favorites -

Beastie Boys - "Awesome, I Fuckin' Shot That!"

Much more of a concert video than a documentary, "Awesome, I Fuckin' Shot That!" took the novel concept of passing out 50 hand-held video cameras to an equal number of fans at the Beasties' 2004 Madison Square Garden show. As one would expect, the quality of the footage isn't always the greatest, but the advantage to shooting in this fashion is its immediacy. You absolutely feel like you are THERE every step of the way, and thanks to Nathaniel Hornblower's mad editing skills in the Avid suite (and the costume department), the sensation of being on as many drugs as the average Beasties show requires is more than achieved. It's an absolutely fantastic show from start to finish, and while I won't give anything away, the finale is probably one of the best moments in live music I've seen in a while. WARNING: If you are prone to motion sickness, this concert video's shaky-cam approach might not be for you. Or just rock some Dramamine and a funky barf bag. Your call.

Red Hot Chili Peppers - "Funky Monks"

To record their career-making 1991 album 'Blood Sugar Sex Magik', the Red Hot Chili Peppers holed up in a supposedly haunted mansion in the Hollywood hills. Director Gavin Bowden shot this documentary during those sessions, and the result is probably the most intimate and honest portrayal of the Chili Peppers anyone has ever seen. Anthony, Flea, Chad, and John are all still their wise-cracking selves throughout the doc, of course, but beyond that, various interviews and confessionals with each of the band members take us a little deeper inside each one of them and their motivations and aspirations in recording the album. If you're even the slightest fan of what in my opinion is the band's best and most coherent album, this doc is an absolute must-see. Watching the Peppers squirm while hanging by their feet from a pole 20 feet in the air for a photo shoot never fails to make me laugh.

Here's a clip from the doc showing John Frusciante getting straight-up ridiculous while laying down a solo. Fuck it up, Johnny!

Fugazi - "Instrument"

Arguably the greatest post-punk band ever, Washington DC's Fugazi culled together 2001's 'Instrument' as a 10-year anniversary present to the fans. I'm going to be honest here - 'Instrument' is not the greatest movie ever made. In fact, it gets absolutely infuriating in parts. There are far too many ridiculously artsy-fartsy and detached segments of the movie to escape criticism, its 2-hour running time is excessive, and the fact that not a single song is ever heard in its entirety throughout the flick DRIVES ME CRAZY. However, ask any die-hard Fugazi fan their opinion of 'Instrument', and they will tell you exactly what I would - it is absolutely essential. From the blazing live performances from every period of the band's career to Guy's hilarious and elaborate plan to assassinate George Burns right before his 100th birthday, 'Instrument' brings the goods (and bads) to any true fan's collection. Don't miss the accompanying soundtrack album, either. Little Debbie's mom gone CRAZY!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Seven Small Wonders of the Cinematic World

Plain and simple, these are seven indies, small-budget flicks, and B-movies that I love.

House of Games (1987)
Renowned playwright David Mamet made his directorial debut with this twisty psychological game of a film. Lindsay Crouse plays a psychiatrist drawn into and fascinated by the world of con artists, guided by Joe Mantegna. We're drawn in too, by the shady underworld, and the clever, ruthless men who populate it. Mamet's blunt and brilliant dialogue is never sharper than in this movie. Bonus points for casting magician, sleight-of-hand and con expert Ricky Jay.

Metropolitan (1990)
Whit Stillman's debut film depicts sensible young socialist Tom Townsend (Edward Clements) attending parties with wealthy ex-prep school classmates who now spend their weekends attending Manhattan debutante balls and defending their privileged lives. Perennial outsider Tom finds himself becoming one of the upper-crust gang, being pursued by one woman while pining for another. The friends revel in drinking, smoking, and witty banter, especially in the character of Nick, played by Chris Eigeman. Favorite Nick quotes include, "It's a tiny bit arrogant of people to go around worrying about those less fortunate," and "I've always planned to be a failure anyway, that's why I plan to marry an extremely wealthy woman." The comedy is extremely intelligent but always funny, finding truth and humor in this lot of blossoming yuppies that we initially sneer at, much like Tom does.

The Chocolate War (1988)
Adapted from Robert Cormier's classic young adult novel, the Chocolate War begins when a new student at a Catholic school (Ilan-Mitchell Smith) refuses to participate in the annual fund-raising candy sale. The shadow government of the school, a secret club of boys who hand out mostly arbitrary "assignments" to keep students under their thumb, are enlisted by the manipulative headmaster (John Glover) to pressure the new boy to conform. The movie ending is somewhat different than the book's, but I think the new version of the final battle is more complex and does convey the same message about resisting conformity, but in a more cinematic way. With either ending, the story is unusually dark and brutally honest for a tale aimed at teens. That's why I love it.

Polish Vampire in Burbank (1985)
My friend discovered Polish Vampire in Burbank in a video store when we were in high school. It was a copy, not the original VHS tape, and was encased in a plain black cover. Not a very promising introduction to the movie, but as it turns out, it's the perfect intro to the best/worst B-movie you'll ever see. Actually, 'B-movie' might be too high of a ranking. The movie was made for $2500, and it looks like it. It's the story of fanged loser Dupah (Mark Pirro), who comes from a family of vampires but hasn't yet made his first kill. His dad kicks him out, ordering him to finally step up and get his own blood instead of drinking leftovers out of a baggie. His sister helps him meet a sweet girl named Delores (Lori Sutton), who falls for him. Will they live happily ever after? You'll see, and laugh your ass off the whole while.

Saved! (2004)
Faith in God is skewered, examined, lost, and reclaimed in this hilarious and warm movie about a Christian-school senior (Jena Malone) who gets pregnant after trying to de-gay her boyfriend. Preggo Mary is ostracised by the Christian Jewels club, and befriends a wild Jewish classmate (Eva Amurri) and a cynical wheelchair-bound boy played by Macaulay Culkin. The movie's filled with strong performances, including Mary Louise Parker as Mary's religious-but-cool mom, Martin Donovan as the school's conflicted principal, and Mandy Moore as a psycho Jesus freak with a gun. Chock full of memorable scenes and lines like this one from Hilary Faye (Moore) at the shooting range- "Sure Jesus could restore my physical and spiritual virginity, especially if I lost it to some rapist, but who wants that? I'm saving myself for marriage, and I'll use force if necessary."

Frailty (2001)
I am not a fan of Bill Paxton as a rule, but this is the exception. Paxton directed and starred in this very well done psychological thriller, the story of a father who has a vision that he's been singled out by God to kill "demons" disguised as humans. His two young sons, Fenton (Matt O'Leary) and Adam (Jeremy Sumpter), witness their father's destructive acts. Adam believes in his father's mad ramblings about being God's Hands, while the older boy Fenton tries to stop the killings. To say more would spoil the plot details of this unpredictable film. In fact, I'm not including the imdb link to Frailty, because it has a major plot spoiler right on the main details page. Go rent or buy the movie yourself. This is a damn good film, made for around $11 million which is chump change by studio standards. It wasn't a hit, and it should have been.

Gas Food Lodging (1992)
Shade (Fairuza Balk) is a lushly romantic soul, while her older sister Trudi (Ione Skye) is world-weary of men before she's out of her teens. Their mother (Brooke Adams) struggles to raise her daughters in a trailer in New Mexico, while waitressing and hooking up with a sweet-talking cable guy. This is not a cutesy rom-com, by any means. Shade embarassingly pursues a male friend, in between dreaming at the Mexican cinema and fighting with her family. Bitter Trudi begins to hope for something more than life in the dusty desert town, and wants to believe she's wrong about men after she meets a wandering rock-hunter who shows her the world in a new light. The plot isn't substantial, but director Allison Anders creates a wonderful, sensual mood, as the women's desire for love guides their way through the story. There is sadness, and beauty, and exhilaration in the turns of their paths.

Monday, September 14, 2009

To Patrick Swayze Thanks for Everything, Susie Shemp

The passing today of Patrick Swayze has affected me to a surprising degree. I never valued him as a serious actor; he was not the sort you'd see accepting an Academy Award or pontificating on the craft of acting. He's the charming lug, the romantic tough guy with the nice ass.
When I read that he was fighting pancreatic cancer at the beginning of last year, I simply thought, "Well that's too bad. Seems like a nice guy." He has seemed to be on the brink of death for a year now, growing thinner and more haggard-looking with fewer and fewer public appearances. We all knew it would not be long.
Looking back now, I can admit that I loved several of his movies. They weren't Shakespeare, but they were entertaining. I'd rather watch To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar, with all its flaws, than watch The English Patient. I'd like to reminisce about his most famous roles and notorious films.

The Outsiders Swayze played big brother Darry Curtis in the adaptation of S.E. Hinton's classic teen novel about the struggle between the Greasers and the Socs. Darry may be his earliest sensitive tough guy role.

Red Dawn As Jed, Patrick Swayze led the Wolverines in kicking some commie Soviet ass after an invasion. Awesome popcorn flick. I hope Patrick haunts the sacrilegious upcoming remake.

"North and South" In the epic 80's TV miniseries, Swayze played a southern-born West Point Cadet on the eve of the Civil War. As the country tears itself apart, Swayze's Orry Main finds himself in love with a woman he can't have, and on the opposite side of the war as his best friend.

Dirty Dancing Johnny Castle is the role that made Swayze an international sex symbol and gave him the opportunity to show off the dance skills he acquired growing up as the son of a renowned dancer and choreographer. Those tight black pants, those smooth moves, those hungry eyes... Swayze also recorded the hit song "She's Like the Wind" for the movie's soundtrack.

Road House Forget the plot and enjoy the cheese of Swayze as a philosophical bouncer in a dirty roadhouse bar. Relish the brilliance of lines like, "Pain don't hurt." Soak it up. It's sweaty asskicking Swayze time.

Ghost The movie that your girlfriend made you take her to see. Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore make love covered in pottery clay and live for each other even beyond death. This one might be even sadder to watch now that he's gone for real.

Point Break In one of my favorite action movies, Swayze plays zen surfer and unlikely bank robber Bodhi. He surfs, robs, plays football, and sky dives, luring Keanu Reeves's FBI agent into his charismatic world all the way.

To Wong Foo Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar
Swayze does drag and does it well. Miss Vida Boheme is a lady, despite her amazingly strong jawline and sculpted arms. The joyfully silly comedy contains Swayze's bravest role. That is, until...

Donnie Darko Swayze played oily motivational speaker Jim Cunningham in Richard Kelly's bizarre time-warping tale. Even when he's being positive and kind, Cunningham makes your skin crawl and rightfully so. This is Swayze's best performance.

Just because an actor doesn't make important movies, doesn't mean they can't become important to us. Thanks for the good times, Patrick.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Detailed recap will follow the review. Just finished watching, so this my from-the-gut analysis and opinion.

It was a mess.

Occasionally fun, but on the whole, a dark, wandering, underwhelming mess. Not enough Eric, Lafayette, and Jessica, no Pam at all. There was no tension, only a sense of strolling towards the inevitable conclusion. It was a serviceable finale, but lacked excitement and sparkle.

There were some good bits, moments with potential. Lafayette wearing the women's toga-style dress with matching headwrap instead of the men's costume was funny. Sophie Ann's view on egalitarian board games. Arlene's kids acknowledging that Rene was not on vacation as she is STILL claiming, her young daughter saying, "I'm pretty sure he's dead."

The resolution of the central issue, Mary Ann, was handled logically enough but with one hole. How is Sam supposed to turn into a white bull if he isn't seeing one? They explained before that that was how Sam managed his shapeshifting.

I liked that Sam was the hero, and will have more storyline next season as we learned at the end of this episode that his foster parents had his real parents' names.
Overall, that was weak. Damn. What went wrong?



In the, black-eyed Lafayette forces Sookie to change into a white gown and brings her downstairs to find MaryAnn wearing Gran's wedding dress. Sookie is going to be her maid of honor. MaryAnn says she would've taken Sookie over by now if she were human. She's holding Sookie hostage because she knows Sam will try to save Sookie. They discuss her wedding, and Sam not being human, and how he's the wedding gift.

Sophie-Ann and Eric are playing Yahtzee in her pretty room. She loves Yahtzee because it's egalitarian and natural superiority doesn't matter in this game. They discuss Sookie and Bill's romance. Eric denies half-heartedly being in love with Sookie. Eric also says that Bill doesn't know that Sophie-Ann is the one supplying the V to Eric for Lafayette to sell. Sophie-Ann warns Eric not to tell, and he agrees. They continue to play Yahtzee even though Eric sucks at it.

Jason & Andy try to rush the Stack-house, with weapons, but are intercepted by Terry and friends. Jason finds Andy in the crowd, and Andy is now black-eyed. He punches Jason, whose eyes turn black as well. Why are Andy's eyes going black NOW when they never have before? Plot hole or misunderstanding, I have no idea.

Bill fetches Sam forcefully, to go save Sookie.

The big egg from last week's cliffhanger is an ostrich egg, symbol of fertility and an offering for the God Who Comes. The bridesmaids take turns licking it.

Sookie agrees to go outside with everyone when MaryAnn threatens Jason. Outside, Bill trades Sam for Sookie and the men secure him. MaryAnn chants and talks about the God Who Comes's myth. Wedding music plays discordantly.

Eggs stabs Sam in the chest, while Sookie cries and is unable to summon that electricity power thingy again. She hears Sam's voice in her head, and he says to destroy the egg and the twig-idol it's in. She does this effectively, pissing off everyone. MaryAnn decides that she'll sacrifice the crowd instead, and starts shrieking. She stops, and sticks her hands in the ground, and has the big ole three-talon clawhands again. Sookie runs for her life and of course eventually falls.

A giant white bull comes out of the trees. MaryAnn is ecstatic and embraces him as the God, and he gores her. MaryAnn realizes that she is the sacrifice, and says that she is happy to die for him. The giant bull gores her repeatedly. The bull then changes form and becomes Sam. He tears her heart out, and MaryAnn sees that there was no God.
The black eyes of the crowd disappear, and everyone is normal again. They don't remember what happened at all.

back in the Fortenberry home, Hoyt's momma's eyes are normal. She finds the bites on her neck and realizes that Jessica bit her. He says something provoked Jessica into doing it, made his mother say mean things and tell lies about him, and his daddy. Momma admits that his dad DID kill himself. She's scared of losing Hoyt, she lied for 18 years, so she wouldn't be alone. Hoyt says he wished Jessica had finished her off, and storms off.

Jane the redheaded drunk screams as she finds her finger in the twig-idol pile. Jason offers Arlene a ride home and offers Jane a ride to the ER.
Sheriff Dearborn offers Andy his badge back, and Andy swears off drinking.

Sam sees a deer in the trees and tears up. Probably thinking of that dumb whore Daphne. Bill thanks Sam for trusting him and revealing himself to save the town. Sam turns, the deer is gone.
Eggs wants to know what he doesn't remember, but he has blood on his hands. Tara won't tell him.
Tara apologizes to Sookie for bringing all that stuff into her house.
Bill and Sookie cuddle for the brief time left before sunrise.

Merlotte's is open the next day. Everything's going back to normal. Arlene's kids tell her that Sam took them to see vampires and one could fly! She's sorry for everything that happened. Terry gives the kids toy guns, and says he'll look after Arlene when she's at work. It's revealed that Arlene is still telling the kids that Rene aka Drew Marshall the dead murderer is still on vacation and not rotting in the ground. The kids ain't buying it.
Gossipy customers discuss how a gas leak has caused the widespread memory loss. Sam "confidentially" tells them that a bad batch of vodka was pure ethanol and that caused it.
jane the drunk says a croc at her finger when she was at the lake.
Andy remembers everything, and the customers think he's still drinking because he contradicts her story.
Sam and Sookie talk, and he tells her needs a few days away and asks her to look after things.
They're interrupted when a present comes, from a fancy French-named boutique. It's a lavender floaty dress from Bill, for a special dinner at a French restaurant. Awwww.

Eggs approaches Sookie, wanting to know what he did. Sookie reads his mind, and they see Jeanette and Daphne's murders and him stabbing Sam. Eggs is horrified and runs off.
Jessica is off to see Hoyt, and Bill to see Sookie. She's going to apologize to Hoyt.
Sam goes back home to Mrs. Merlotte. She apologizes for abandoning him. Sam wants to meet his real parents. She says they're bad people and resists telling him. sam's foster dad gives him paper with names and a city and says he's sorry. Damn there's a lot of apologizing in this episode!

Jessica stops for a bite to eat at a truckstop, while Hoyt leaves flowers at her door. She's not there because she's eating a trucker. Bad girl.

Eggs approaches Andy with the murder weapon, confessing, and Andy tries to get the knife from him. Eggs lunges at Andy, panicking, and Jason comes from behind and shoots and kills Eggs. Andy tells Jason to go, he'll handle it. People come out of the bar and Tara weeps over Eggs's body.

Bill and Sookie dine French. Blah. He gives her tickets to Burlington, VT, and an engagement ring. Apparently vamp marriage is legal in VT. Sookie's dreamed of this since she was a little girl, but Sookie can't say yes. What happens when she grows old? And she doesn't even know what she is. She runs off to the bathroom to clean herself up. Bill looks sad, as usual.
She tries the ring on. Looks in the mirror, and smiles.
Someone with a silver chain grabs Bill from behind, in the restaurant.
Sookie fixes her makeup and goes out to the restaurant, resolved to say yes to the proposal. Bill is gone, the room in disarray. Oh dear.



Some speculation, but a lot of character and plot spoilers from True Blood season 3 and Club Dead, book 3 of Charlaine Harris's Sookie series. Consider yourself warned!

Alan Ball spoke to TV Squad recently and shared several details about season three, which will appear nine months from now. Some characters from Club Dead, the third Sookie book, will be appearing although it's not clear how closely the series writers will stay to the original creations. Stop reading if you don't want to know which new characters will be joining True Blood!

It looks like Alcide Herveaux and Debbie Pelt will be crossing Sookie's path in season 3. Alcide Herveaux is a good-looking werewolf who flirts with Sookie, and Debbie, a werefox, is his vicious and unfaithful ex-fiance. Debbie isn't through with Alcide and makes bloody trouble for Sookie. Ball describes Debbie Pelt as "just hard ass, white trash bitch on wheels," so it sounds like they're staying close to the book's character on at least one account.

The shady older-looking vampire Franklin Mott, and Russell Edgington, the vamp king of Mississippi (both from Club Dead) are coming to True Blood as well. Franklin is involved with Tara, but the book's reserved boutique-owning Tara is very different from the mouthy, aggressive Tara on the HBO series. It's unknown if Franklin will be involved in the same situations and relationships on the show.

Russell's appearance makes me think that True Blood will be using at least some of Club Dead's plot involving Bill Compton's disappearance into Mississippi, courtesy of Lorena. Sookie meets Alcide when he's asked to help her locate Bill.

More spicy Lorena bitch-time!

It looks like TB will use the same basic plot, and from there, the writers will add or change situations and characters as they have the first two seasons. The TV Squad's interview with Ball backs that up, with him saying, "“At the beginning of each season, we go through the books, pick out the points we really love, and pick out the points we think would make a great cliffhanger moment at the end of an episode. Then we start to wrap the other characters in…"

Ball and the writers have done a very clever job of working with Charlaine Harris's stories to use their best story points, and to build on the minor characters to create a strong supporting television cast.

Another very fun spoiler that Alan Ball is sharing is that Andy Bellefleur will shockingly find out he's related to another Bon Temps resident. This is a detail from Charlaine Harris's books as well. Stop reading here if you don't want to know! Answer is after the jump.

Bill Compton's daughter married into the Bellefleur family, so Bill is a direct ancestor of the current Bellefleur clan.

This is going to be an agonizing nine months, waiting for new episodes. Tonight's finale will be (I hope) one last great meal before a long boring hibernation.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Eli Roth gets up close and personal for PETA

Eli Roth's PETA commercial!

Here are some screencaps for your perving pleasure. I love how sometimes Roth has the funniest expressions during his animated discussions.

The money shot...there's always tongue when you're involved with some men.

And an assortment of other caps...

(click on images for a larger version)

Flashback: MST3K

I didn't get MST3K when I first came across it on Comedy Central. It was a too-long two-hour block of programming in the middle of the stand-up shows that I preferred. Who wants to re-watch the crappy old movies I used to make fun of at my grandma's house? To my tween brain, it seemed pointless.

One day a couple years later, I grew bored enough to not bother changing the channel when it came on. A half hour into Attack of the The Eye Creatures, I was hooked and kicking myself for having ignored MST3K for so long. I don't think I ever laughed so hard at a TV show, or saw non-stand-up comedy that was so acidic and free-flowing with pop culture references. With my freshly cynical teenage mind, I became a bot, heckling along with Joel and Mike and the gang.

Now, ten years after Mystery Science Theater 3000 went off the air, I find myself missing the show and lamenting the fact that I missed so many episodes early on. DVD availability is spotty, due to copyright issues with the original films. I do like knowing that out there in geekland, there are unseen episodes and maybe someday I'll have that 'new MST3K joy' feeling again.

Side note: I've always wanted to see classic films get the MST3K treatment. The Sound of Music, for example, would be beautifully shredded. "The Lonely Goatherder" alone offers more poking opportunities than a Gamera movie.

They're all great, but here are my personal favorite five episodes

Attack of the The Eye Creatures- The one that started it all for me. Necking teenagers are waylaid by aliens with an excess of eyes, definite articles, and visible sneakers and zippers.

Teenagers from Outer Space- Cute teenagers who look thirty years old land on Earth to farm giant lobster creatures. Sensitive Derek woos perky Betty in a snazzy duct-taped jumpsuit. Dog-vaporizing fun at its finest!

Alien from L.A.- Big-boned Californian Kathy Ireland gets lost underground, is aided by a miner with an iffy Australian accent, searches for her dad, and is pursued by various characters played by the same two people.
The quintessential "So funny it doesn't even need the mockery from Mike and the bots" episode.

Catalina Caper
- Gleefully stupid beach party flick starring Tommy Kirk, with an appearance from Little Richard. There's an ancient scroll search, but they keep getting distracted by the urge to boogie down on the sand.

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians
- The Martians kidnap Santa and two Earth kids (the girl is played by Pia Zadora), in order to bring fun to Martian children. The movie title alone should tell you how utterly frickin awesome this episode is.

What are your favorites?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Finally, a new episode of GLEE!

In the second episode of Glee, life continues on as usual for the Glee gang.

Ambitious lead singer Rachel pines for jock-turned-singer Finn who has a girlfriend, and teacher Emma pines for Glee club advisor Will Schuester ("Mr. Shu"), whose wife is expecting their first child. The social divide at the school still exists, of course, and early on in the show, we see the pert teen flamer Kurt getting tossed into a dumpster, while he sighs with resignation, "One day you will all work for me."

Mr. Shu is set on the Glee Club performing, "Le Freak", which won Nationals for Glee in 1993. The group isn't crazy about the song, and Kurt refers to it as "really gay."

Sue Sylvester, competitive and vindictive cheerleading coach, shares with Mr. Shu a handbook that states Glee must have at least twelve members to take part in regionals. The club sets about recruiting more members.

Mr. Shu's wife Teri has her heart set on a new house for their expanding family. He knows they don't have the money for what she wants, but they tour model houses. As Mr. Shu brings Kanye's "Gold Digger" to the club, and Mercedes leads the song with Mr. Shu, we see Teri looking at the houses and planning.

Rachel is upset that Finn is staying with Quinn, his cheerleader girlfriend who has had unkind words for Rachel many a time. Emma Pillsbury finds Rachel in the girl's room, making retching sounds. Rachel denies being bulimic and when Emma points out the traces of vomit by the toilet, Rachel explains that, 'The girl throwing up before me left that." She elaborates, "I tried but I guess I just don't have a gag reflex.' Emma tells her,'One day when you're older that will turn out to be a gift.'
Rachel feels better after their conversation, and it becomes apparent that Emma has strong yet confused feelings for Will.

Will is working late at the school as a janitor, and runs into Emma. She shares with him the root of her neuroses (an unfortunate dairy farm visit) and they share a cute moment with chalk on her nose. Sensing that they're crossing a line, Emma pulls back, reminding Will and herself that he has a baby coming.

The social class struggle continues when Finn and Rachel use the cheerleaders' photocopying machine to make flyers. Sue Sylvester wants blood, but the principal is happy to find a compromise, Glee paying the Cheerleaders for the copies.

Rachel joins the Celibacy Club but can't help speaking out about the unrealistic teachings that present an all or nothing philosophy. This is a very unsubtly written scene. However, her time in the club helps Rachel decide what they should perform at the school rally. Glee Club offers up Salt-n-Pepa's "Push It", in a shocking but great performance. The audience goes wild, and the teachers are very upset with Rachel and the club. The cheerleading coach notes, "That was the most offensive thing I've seen in twenty years of teaching, and that includes an elementary school production of Hair."

In a surprising turn of events, Coach Tanaka approaches Emma Pillsbury, asking her to Tulipalooza, which is pretty much what it sounds like. Emma declines politely. Coach Tanaka tells Emma that he is a good man, and that he could provide for her since he's a minority and can never get fired. He's aware that she is interested in Will, though he doesn't actually say it.

Rachel and Finn kiss during rehearsal. He has an instinctive reaction to arousal that takes him back to the moment of a car accident where he was driving, and this spoils the moment.

Quinn, the bitchy cheerleading girlfriend of Finn, auditions for Glee with two of her friends. She does very well with "Say A Little Prayer For You." Coach Sue Sylvester approves of this move, since Quinn & Co. can be her spies.

Teri Schuester goes to her OB/GYN to check on the baby's progress. The doctor tells her that she is not pregnant at all, it is a hysterical pregnancy. That night Teri tries to tell Will she isn't pregnant over a special dinner, but she chickens out at the last moment and tells him that the baby is a boy. Teri tells Will that they don't need a new house after all.

Will gives the solo in "Don't Stop Believin'" to Quinn, since Rachel is in trouble for the "Push It" stunt. Rachel asks to use the auditorium. She sings the Rihanna song, "Take a Bow," backed by Mercedes and Tina, about her feelings for Finn, and his continued relationship with Quinn.

Next week:

Quinn continues her sabotage, nudging Rachel into pressuring Mr Shu to bring in a choreographer.

So You Think You Can Dance, Season 6 Premiere

Judges: Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy, Adam Shankman
Audition City: Los Angeles, at the Orpheum Theater

Season 6 of So You Think You Can Dance begins only a little more than a month after the previous season's finale. With the seasons so close together, there's been no time for anticipation to build. Will this affect the ratings and voting participation? We'll see.
Host Cat Deeley is back, and draped in some gorgeous shimmery white fabric. She's as charming and cheeky as ever. Her lack of Emmy nominations in the host category is baffling.
We start off with a hilarious performance-art number by a fellow named Cole Clemens, who wriggles around the stage without music and chanting "shatter shatter shattershatter". Mary Murphy laughs throughout. I don't know why these auditioners are surprised by not being chosen when the judges can't contain their scorn until they're even off the stage.

Next up, we meet Mollee Gray, 18, a very young-looking blonde from Utah and principal dancer in High School Musical parts 1,2,and 3. She moves well, but shows no personality in dance. "She is SO this show!" Adam says. That's...alarming. And Nigel..well, we all know how Nigel loves his young blondes. Off to Vegas she goes.

We see now a brief montage of successful auditions: we have David Hovhannisyan, a high-flyer of a dancer, clad in a yellow diaper...a random blonde named Amanda (Nigel and his blondes, oy vey)... and a hip hopper named Brandon Dumlao.

Look who's back- Ryan Kasprzak, tap-dancing elder brother of last season's charmer Evan Kasprzak. Ryan made it to the last cut in season 5, and was cut for drama's sake. There's a weepy flashback to the Kasprzak boys.
Fellow tap-dancer Bianca Revels has also returned, and is now forced to eat her words, her claim that she'd never audition again.
Ryan performs his routine, a tap number without music but with him occasionally calling out words or phrases. It's a cool number. Adam gushes, "You're a freakin artist, this is the best audition ever. So special, and unique," and blah blah blah. We get it, Ryan is very talented.
Bianca comes onstage now, and Nigel suggests a tap battle. I have to say, Bianca's weaknesses are visible when she's up against Ryan Kasprzak like this. She's a good dancer, but he's much stronger. Anyway, Bianca gets a ticket back to Vegas.

We meet an allegedly-filmmaking nut case named Christopher Aguilar who shimmies to a crazed medley of songs from "Chicago." Adam is so sweet, he treats this auditioner like he's serious, when Aguilar is clearly one of those people who audition to be on tv and get noticed.

Next up: a pretty young black woman named Amber Williams. Remember her name, I think she'll be around for a while. Her sob story is that her mother is paralyzed and Amber helps her a great deal. She does a lovely contemporary routine.Nigel tells Amber that he wants to see smiles on her face when she's dancing, not just at the front of the stage. Of course, he LOVED the blonde, Mollee, who did the same thing earlier in Los Angeles. Nigel and his fucking blondes.

A few positive auditions of note:
Paula van Oppen, 18, the dark-haired pixie in the yellow dress. Contemporary dancer with a great face.
Christina Santana, 23, Latin ballroom/salsa, awesome dance, very fast-paced and enjoyable. She dedicates this performance to her dad who is up in Heaven. Do I smell a good sob story?

We see a brief Montage of Suck before meeting the last auditioner of the night.
Philip Atmore is a tap dancer and was in fact Ryan Kasprzak's roommate on the Fosse tour. He's a lot taller than Ryan, and I can see him going far on the show.

They didn't show anyone getting sent to Choreography tonight, which I thought was odd. At the end of the hour, Cat tells us that 10 dancers were chosen from choreography to go to Vegas, and we see their celebratory ticket dances.

Next week: Phoenix auditions, and the return of Mia Michaels, the Stay-Puff Marshmellow Cuntess

Number Nine, Number Nine, Number Nine...

Happy 9/9/09, everyone! How are you choosing to celebrate today? Listening to 'Revolution 9' over and over and over again on that kick-ass new Beatles boxset? Or maybe you're out seeing the mixed-review-receiving animated film '9'? Or maybe you're one of the lucky few who got tickets to the 40th anniversary party of the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland? If it's the latter, please know that I am wildly jealous and I hate you, but that shouldn't distract you from leaving a comment below telling us how it went. Being that I'm broke and thousands of miles away, I guess I'll just have to settle for watching this clip over and over again. Doesn't he remind you of Quentin Tarantino? Yes, he does.

Being that I'm a Haunted Mansion nut, let's focus a little on that. As any good Disney freak knows, the real anniversary of the Haunted Mansion was actually last month. The Mansion might have opened on August 9th as the Wikipedia entry tells us, but there are a few conflicting reports there. Some say it was the 9th, some the 12th, and every day in between, but no matter. Disney has chosen instead to rewrite history a little bit and celebrate the attraction's 40th by hosting a shindig at Disneyland today. Anyone who is familiar with the Mansion's 999 happy haunts should be able to figure out why.

Fans of the Mousetalgia website and podcast hosted by the great Jeff "Chef Mayhem" Baham of fame know that he and a small crew of devotees will be attending the event tonight at 9pm. Not sure what the Chef's recording schedule looks like in this week of Mansion-related madness, but with any luck, we'll be hearing all about what went down at the event next Monday on the Mousetalgia crew's weekly podcast. Speaking of which, if any of you missed this week's entry focusing on the late great Thurl Ravenscroft, do not let this travesty continue. Listen to it now and often, won't you?

Speaking of Thurl Ravenscroft, have you downloaded your free voicemail/answering machine message from the Disney legend yet? Why not? It's been dying to meet you.

In any case, enjoy your 9/9/09 everyone. Sing us out, Thurl!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Kevin Smith's 24-Hour Twitter-thon

Kevin Smith will be answering questions on Twitter for all of today. I'm sure his Followers will be annoyed to all hell with the endless stream of tweets, but it's cool of Kevin to spend this pointless holiday with his loyal fans. I assume his Q&A tweets will be mingled his usual tweets about masturbating, sex with his wife, and editing of DICKS.

Bug Kevin Smith here!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Fightin'! - A Case Study

I like action movies. No, I LOVE action movies. I'm a total sucker for knock-down, drag-out big swinging dick flicks, and just like many other things, I blame 'Star Wars'. Han Solo going berserk on that hall of Stormtroopers by just running at them with his blaster set to 'Whoop ass'? Hell to the fuck yeah. Sign me up. I've been hooked on the adrenaline rush of sitting in a darkened room and watching the people up on the screen do all the stuff I wish I could do for my pretty much my whole life, but for whatever reason, it's only recently that the fight scenes in these kinds of movies have started to seem more real than ever.

Sure, I love the bar fight scene in 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' where Indy wipes the floor with the bar full of Nazis in Nepal, but come on - did that feel real? Do you honestly think you could pull off a bar brawl of that scale with that much panache and style? If you can, then you're far cooler than I'll ever be, but honestly, that scene doesn't feel real at all. Not to its discredit, of course, as it's still one of the greatest movie fight scenes of all time. However, with the current wave of action films coming our way, it seems that the more the camera pulls in to show what is actually taking place in these fight scenes and epic chases, the level of reality attached to them becomes exponentially heightened.

Let's take the fairly recent Jason Bourne trilogy as an example. There has been much criticism attached to Paul Greengrass' 'shaky cam' style of filmmaking, but for me, it serves as a truly immersive tool that brings us right into the forefront of the action. What's more, it challenges both the filmmakers and actors as well to truly hone the craft of choreographing and filming a movie fight scene. Anyone can face off against an advancing swordsman in a crowded alleyway in Cairo and shoot them from 20 feet away and pull it off with expert comic flair, but man, when you're right up against your opponent in close quarters and have no choice but to beat his ass with nothing but a book and a towel as your primary weapons, you've gotta have your shit together. Let's take a look.

Now I can understand how someone prone to motion sickness might get a little queasy watching stuff like that for too long, but you've got to admit that's a kick-ass action sequence. It feels like you're RIGHT THERE, and what's more, it barely even seems staged at all. Not that I get the chance to watch two Filipino Kali masters duke it out with any kind of regularity, but I imagine that if I did just happen to come across Jason Bourne and Bad Guy Desh beating each other into a fine paste, that's probably more or less what it would actually look like. There wouldn't be any perfectly timed smart remarks or slow-motion shots of anyone falling off a building, either. This scene feels more brutal and violent, and therefore more realistic.

I'm a fan of this new brand of fight choreography, and judging from films like 'Batman Begins' and 'Children of Men', it really seems to be the choice being made by the new generation of action film directors. Gone are the days where an action film is concluded simply by blowing up the $10 million setpiece and then filming it from 3 blocks away. That brand of over-the-top spectacle stil has its place in movies, of course, but showing it in such a removed, third-person fashion really seems to desensitize the viewer to the reality of what's going on. A tight action sequence or finale should have a little more punch and visceral force on a viewer than a light show at Disneyland.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Seven Great Hollywood Comebacks

Not the seven greatest necessarily, but seven that I'm partial to.

He's Doogie Howser. He'll always be Doogie Howser. We have, however, made room in our hearts for Barney Stinson, the most quotable character on TV today. Neil Patrick Harris has shown a great attitude about his child star past, even lampooning himself in "Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle" and its sequel. In the time between his hit TV shows, Neil Patrick Harris built himself a nice theater resume, starring in "Rent" and "Sweeney Todd," and developed a singing voice well displayed in the instant classic "Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-Long Blog." In short, he's become the coolest, best-dressed, funniest guy on TV. Not bad, Doogie monster. Not bad.

Actually, I loved her as a drunken slag, but it's pretty amazing that Drew Barrymore has gone from pre-teen cokewhore to a movie star and producer in her own right. Her lows were very low (CBS After school special? Oh, Drew!) but she made a fabulous comeback with the trashy delight "Poison Ivy." Drew smartly used the exposure to snag better parts, and her sordid teenage shenanigans were a distant memory before long.

Child actor Jackie Earle Haley hit it big with "The Bad News Bears" in 1976, peaked with "Breaking Away" in 1979, and then spent the next twenty years doing B-movies, a failed TV version of the Bears, and odd jobs in the real world. Jackie Earle Haley was the absolute last person you'd expect to return to fame, but he pulled it off in 2006 with "All The King's Men" and "Little Children," for which he was Oscar nominated. Stealing the show as Rorschach in "Watchmen" sealed his return. With starring roles in "Shutter Island," the "Nightmare on Elm Street" reboot, and the new TV show "Human Target," Haley is sticking around for good this time.

Sofia Coppola recovered from possibly the most lambasted acting performance ever (her dull turn as Mary Corleone in her father's film "The Godfather Part Three") to become a wonderfully personal and fresh filmmaker a decade later. She also writes and produces her films, showing that Coppola is relying on her own gifts and making movies on her terms from here on out.

Jason Bateman WAS the eighties teen- smarter than Kirk Cameron, and less smarmy than Ricky Schroeder. Every year of the decade, he was on a television series, jumping from "Little House on the Prairie" to "Silver Spoons" to "It's Your Move" and finally to "The Hogan Family" (aka Valerie). Bonus credit for finding the time to appear in "Teen Wolf Too." Bateman was amazingly consistent, but after "The Hogan Family" ended in 1991, Jason Bateman faded into TV Movie-Land and one-shot-episode hell until 2001. The short-lived show "Some of My Best Friends" and the "The Sweetest Thing" reintroduced us to Bateman, still snarky but a little darker and wiser. Since then, he's starred in the funniest sitcom of the new millenium ("Arrested Development," of course) and built a decent movie resume of small but hilarious roles.

Leading lady of the late-twenties and thirties, Joan Crawford was considered box-office poison in Hollywood by 1940. And this was BEFORE they knew about the child-beating and wire hanger issues. In 1945, Crawford took on the role of Mildred Pierce, winning an Academy Award and developing the mouthy, independent broad image we associate with her now. I almost pity the studio execs for the ass-whippings Joan must've handed out after her triumphant return.

The poster boy for comebacks. John Travolta may be a Scientology weirdo but he's a charming bastard. After his heyday on "Welcome Back Kotter" and in "Grease" and "Saturday Night Fever," Travolta faded into the background and grew up as an actor. No longer just a 70's relic with a pretty face and great voice, Travolta learned to use those dimples wickedly in "Pulp Fiction," "Michael," "Face/Off," "Get Shorty," "Primary Colors," "Be Cool," and most bravely in "Hairspray." He's in a downturn at the moment and I don't think "Wild Hogs 2" will fix that, but I have no doubt that Travolta will find eventually roles again that will display all of his charms.