Monday, August 31, 2009

US Open: BRING IT!

Oh, my favorite tournament of the year starts today! Woohoo! I am very excited the summer leg of the Pro Tennis Tour has finally made it's way to Flushing Meadows. I look forward to a great two weeks of tennis. Already today we had Federer win (boring!) Serena and James Blake win (hooray!) Roddick playing the late night match (Go Andy!). My first trip inside Arthur Ashe stadium will be next Monday. Hopefully the weather will be pleasant and Rafa will still be in the tourney so I can see him live! I've waited all year! Stay strong in those knees, Rafa! Vamos!

Here's a pic of my two favorites this year, Serena and Rafa, taken at a pre-tourney event in the city. They are showing off their new outfits and color combos. Best of luck to you both. I'll be watching obsessively! First on TV and then in person!!

And The Emmy Goes to Cash Cab!


Apparently the Daytime Emmys were last night. You, like me, probably didn't know because they were cast off to the CW on a Sunday night. If you watch soaps or daytime TV, perhaps you'd be invested, but I gave up caring about Daytime TV when Passions was cancelled (from NBC, not DirecTV).

Scanning the list of winners the next day, however, I notice something sorta awesome. Cash Cab won for best Game Show! Can you watch Cash Cab anywhere in the country? It feels very New York, kind of a cult show. But Cash Cab won the big prize. Congrats!

Other winners of note are Tyra's Show winning for best informative talk show (i hope she smiled with her eyes while accepting) and the ladies of The View sharing the win for Best Talk Show host. Poor Regis and Kelly snubbed again. Although I haven't watched their show in years so maybe the quality has fallen off. Nobody fights about Hot Topics like the View Ladies! They can't be denied! Also, Kevin Clash won for his performance as Elmo on Sesame Street and I realized that this year I met both him and Elmo on set and the memory of my visit to Sesame Street makes me very happy.

List O' Winners!

Drama series: The Bold and the Beautiful
Lead actress in a drama series: Susan Haskell, One Life to Live
Lead actor in a drama series: Christian LeBlanc, The Young and the Restless
Supporting actress in a drama series: Tamara Braun, Days of Our Lives
Supporting actor in a drama series (tie): Vincent Irizarry, All My Children, and Jeff Branson, Guiding Light
Younger actress in a drama series: Julie Berman, General Hospital
Younger actor in a drama series: Darin Brooks, Days of Our Lives
Game-audience participation show: Cash Cab
Game show host: Meredith Vieira, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire
Talk show-entertainment: Rachael Ray
Talk show-informative: The Tyra Banks Show
Talk show host: Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Sherri Shepherd, Barbara Walters, The View
Morning program: Good Morning America
Directing in a drama series: One Life to Live
Writing in a drama series: General Hospital
Performer in a children’s series: Kevin Clash, Elmo on Sesame Street
Lifetime achievement: Sesame Street

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Less Flags, Less Fun

In Part 2 of my Six Flags Adventure, I explore the thrill rides I don't care for. A few of them I think are fine coasters, I just don't like them. And one of them is probably the worst ride I have ever encountered. I'm looking at you, The Dark Knight.

But I'm saving the worst for last. Here are some others:

Superman: Ultimate Flight. Not exactly gravity-defying. I know, some people really enjoy this one, but it's not for me. The GA website says, "Lie face down and soar head-first through a twisted steel track, diving into highly banked curves, spirals and a jaw-dropping, pretzel-shaped inverted loop." The problem with this ride for me is the hanging. The restraints never feel comfortable as you're just hanging there at the beginning and end of this ride. I do like the loops, but if the ride breaks down you can wind up dangling there for a really long time, as i did two or three years ago. Now I just avoid this ride and I find I don't miss it. But to each his own. 3 Flags.

The Great American Scream Machine. You scream because you're in pain! The GA Website says, "With a 15.5 - story drop, seven monstrous loops, one corkscrew and two boomerang loops, your vocal chords are guaranteed to get a workout." Let's cut to the chase: depending on how tall you are, the shoulder harness is gonna beat the crap out of you on the corkscrews and boomerangs. The ride itself is exciting and is a classic, but almost every time I've been on it, I've seen people complain about getting banged up. You should go on it once, if you never have, but it will probably once it probably enough. 3 Flags.

Rolling Thunder. This ride is older than I am! The GA website says "This classic, dual-track wooden roller coaster features an 85-foot drop and 10 great hills to cruise. " This is one that I've been on, enjoyed, but don't feel the need to revisit. Unlike El Toro, it certainly feels like a wooden coaster, with the shaking and the feeling that the ride could splinter apart at any second under the force of the train car. Not for me, but I acknowledge it's iconic status in the park. 3 Stars.

Skull Mountain. More like a Molehill. The GA website says Skull Mountain, "is a steel, enclosed roller coaster that takes riders on an indoor, in-the-dark trip through hidden tunnels and unexpected twists." I GUESS. This ride is short and kinda boring. It's certainly no Space Mountain or Rockin' Roller coaster which are PRIME examples of how you design an exciting indoor roller coaster. You can't rely on the dark to make your ride exciting. The ride still has to deliver some dips and some speed. This ride falls short on both. Very very forgettable, but it does have the basic components of a roller coaster, so kids will probably like it. 2 Flags.

The Dark Knight Coaster. The WORST!!! The GA website says riders "can only guess at what awaits them as they speed through six 180-degree hairpin turns, climb unseen hills, plunge into pitch darkness and dip into unforeseen danger." All of this is technically true, but very misleading. The reason you can only guess what awaits you is that nothing actually does. Nothing happens! It's just you moving along a track and then turning around. There's a category of coasters that fit this description called Wild Mouse Coasters. They have one at the children's amusement park in Central Park. The Dark Knight is less exciting than that one and is a bigger disappointment because it tries to hide what it is by naming itself after a very exciting movie and then hiding its shameful nature in the dark. Last year, people waited two hours to get on this ride that lasts less than a minute and is no fun. I don't know what I would've done if I'd wasted so much time on line before going on this ride. I remember walking by one rider last year who gave me the classic line "The Dark Knight?... more like DARK CRAP!" Luckily word spread fast that this thing stunk, and this year the wait wasn't long, so BFF decided to see what all the non-fuss was about.

You cannot call it a coaster. You can barely call it a ride. It's just a big room where people go in to be disappointed. When we were climbing in to our rinky-dink little carnival car before the ride started, there were these two guys in the row behind us and one guy asked the ride attendant if his sunglasses would be safe hanging around his neck on the ride. The girl gave him a half-smile and said "Oh, you obviously haven't been on this ride before, have you?" Of course the answer was "no" because who would go back for seconds? But we didn't know that yet. Then the ride attendant points at BFF and the guy behind her and says "You and you have the worst seats." And with that we were off on the most pointless unfun minute of a ride there is to experience at Six Flags Great Adventure. It is a colossal failure of imagination and ride engineering. It's totally disingenuous to promote it as anything other than a kid's ride and even then I bet most kids would have the good sense to know this was not worth their time. A cameo appearance by Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent in a pre-ride video (which actually lasts longer than the ride itself) can't even bring any value to this experience. When we got off the ride, we were so astonished by it's crapitude we immediately ran over to Skull Mountain - the previous title holder of Lamest Ride In The Park. There was no contest. Skull Mountain might as well be El Toro compared to Dark Knight. They need to tear it down and salt the earth where it once stood. They won't do this though, because the whole point of Wild Mouse Coasters is that they are cheap to maintain and up the coaster count at the park. But spread the word! This ride stinks! Zero flags.

So that's my account of all the thrill rides in the park. I would like to have a moment of silence for The Swings, which were taken down this year. I always enjoy the Swings and wandered all over the park looking for them until I came to the circular cement area where they ought to be, but no longer were. If the people at Great Adventure are looking for a new location for the swings, they might want to look at the area in movie town which is currently housing the crappiest ride on the planet. Just a thought. I'd give the swings a solid 3 flags. And as you know, more flags, more fun.

More Flags, More Fun



Wednesday, BFF and I went on our annual trip to Six Flags Great Adventure. It was so much fun. There was no intense humidity or random thundershowers as in past years. It was a beautiful sunny late-summer day which makes for great coaster-riding conditions.

Great Adventure is always a strange place to me. It has none of the magic or prestige of Disney World, and you can tell it really wishes that it did. Despite having some awesome rides, there's always a strange sense of desparation in the air... or maybe that just comes with being in Jersey. OHH BURN, NJ!!!! In any event, magic atmosphere or no, there's still a lot of fun to be had.

There are tons of thrill rides, but not all of them are created equal. In case it's been a few years since your last GA visit, let me break them down for you, so you know which ones to ride and which ones to avoid. In honor or Mister Six, I will rate them from 0 to 6 Flags. And also link a POV video for each that I found on youtube.

El Toro - My personal favorite. The GA website says "El Toro features the steepest drop of any wooden roller coaster in the country at a record-breaking 76 degrees. This imposing thrill ride combines all the best features of wooden coasters with the smooth speed of their steel counterparts." F-yeah it does! I've ridden El Toro previously, but this when I started comparing the coaster to Raphael Nadal, I realized I had made an emotional connection with this ride. The drops, twists and speed are really exhilirating and there's no uncomfortably shaking that accompanies many other wooden coasters. It's also really beautiful to look at, the engineering is so impressive. 6 Flags.

Nitro - The Master of Suspsense. The GA website says "Nitro blasts you off an unbelievable 230 feet in the air with a 215-foot dive back down to earth at speeds approaching 80 mph. This... colossal mega-coaster has a mile-long track lined with countless thrills." What the website doesn't tell you is that Nitro takes it's damn sweet time to climb that 230 feet in the air. It feels like an eternity which is partly why it's such a nerve-wracking ride. The aniticipation just builds and builds and when you get to the top you and can finally look down, you hang there for a second and then screeeeeeeam as you plummet back down. It's a very very smooth ride and all of the hills are quite a rush. It's really a delight and should not be missed. 6 Flags.

Kingda Ka - Blink and you'll miss it. The GA website says "This remarkable thrill ride breaks all world records for coaster speed and height, zooming from 0 to 128 mph in 3.5 seconds and catapulting you 45 stories into the sky." This is all very true, but it's also over in an instant. You barely have time to register how high you are, or even to scream before the ride is over. It's a unique experience, and I recommend taking the ride, but I think when you are moving at 128 miles per hour, it's so disorienting that you could be 500 feet in the air or 5 feet off the ground and not really be able to tell the difference. This ride also tends to shut down a lot if it's windy or rainy, or if the trains just breakdown (as they often do) so prepare to stand in line for awhile. 5 Flags.

Batman, The Ride. Classic hanging loop-de-loop. The GA website says "Soar over Gotham City with the track and sky above, and nothing but air below your dangling feet. This suspended outside-looping roller coaster includes five head-over-heels experiences and a zero-gravity roll. " They really don't try to oversell it in the description, but I guess they figure they don't have to. This ride has been around since the original Tim Burton movie came out back when I was in Junior High. It has seen many lesser rollercoasters come and go during that time, but it remains because of it's great design and smooth ride. For some reason, the line on this coaster always takes forever. 5 Flags.

Bizarro. Medusa gets a makeover. The GA website says "Something bizarre has taken place at Six Flags Great Adventure. The transformed Medusa has become Bizarro, a multi-sensory ride experience that will take you to another dimension of thrill." Well at least the website admits it - the commercials and the park employees insist on calling it "all-new" even though it's an old ride with new paint and some added "effects." I guess this is what counts as a new attraction from a theme park company in bankruptcy. It's fine, because Medusa is a great ride and there was no need to take it down. But it's weird because the added effects don't add much, except that now another ride in the park is named after a DC comics character. The "multi-sensory" aspects they are talking about have to do with the occasion fire cannon and mist spray on the ride along as well as some gobbledy-gook audio that is piped into your seat during the coaster. The audio is a mess. It's just a bunch of screaming and random sounds, which is what you'd normally here on a coaster anyway. BFF at one point heard it say "i feel like i've been taking CRAZY PILLS!" and at the end I heard it say "well, that happened!" What does any of that have to do with Bizarro? Nothing. And then at the end there's some dance mix song where they keep chanting "Bizarro! Bizarro! Bizzaro!" It's not good, but it's laughable enough. The ride itself is cool, I have to take a flag off it's final grade for the park's strange retooling efforts. 4 Flags.

Runaway Mine Train. An old favorite. The GA website says to climb on board "for a pulse-pounding jaunt through the woods and over the water. This classic ride features a tubular steel track design and is guaranteed to thrill coaster-lovers young and old." There's nothing particularly intense about this ride, other than the fact that it's been around since the 70's and it's a little beat up - so it brings that "maybe this time the ride will just fall apart" vibe to it. The train moves at a brisk pace and it's got a great view of the grounds, including Kingda Ka, El Toro and Medu-er... Bizarro. So as you circle around you can take in all the stuff that's around you that you might miss on the other faster rides. Plus the ride operator says "Choo! Choo!" as he or she starts the ride and it's fun to give a "choo! choo!" reply back. 3.5 flags

More to come in Part 2 featuring the rides I don't care for! Woohoo!

Bad Dreams of Badminton

The other night had this amazingly strange dream. In it, I was playing 3-on-3 badminton with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Nadal was on my team and Federer was on the other team. The rest of the players were female players but I can't remember who they were. We were playing on nets that were set up in an elementary school classroom.

So Federer hits the birdie to me, and as it sails over the net it goes wide, bounces off the wall and lands out of bounds. As it falls to the ground I consider hitting it, since it's within reach, but I opt to let it go out. The ref calls the point for our team, and Federer flips the eff out. "No way! That's completely unfair!" he shouts. "He could've hit it, but he chose not to! HE CHOSE NOT TO!" I told him it was out and he screamed "BUT YOU STILL COULD'VE HIT IT! YOU JUST LET IT FALL!!" Federer was livid. He just kept screaming and shaking his fists and pointing at me. This was a very shocking display from Federer who is usually so calm and collected. I looked to Rafa but he shrugged his shoulders as if to say "i don't know - this is crazy!"



The ref insists that we earned the point fairly, but Federer won't be calmed. Seething with hatred, Fed keeps yelling "Just because it's LEGAL, doesn't make it the sportsman's thing to do! You should've hit it!" I show him the birdie and point out the the rubber tip broke off when it bounced off the wall so I wouldn't have played it anyway. "LIAR! LIAR!" Federer screams, turning red in the face. "This is unbelievable! This is unbelievable!" Finally the ref insists that we resume play and that the point was scored legally, but Fed has lost it. He continues to play but starts hitting wild shots and insulting the other players. In between points he continues to mutter to himself, "Unbelievable!!"



Eventually, we take a break and the ref says they are going to substitute another player in for me because everyone's become concerned that my continued presence in the game will make Federer turn violent. We are all afraid that he could snap at any moment. I sit and watch on the sidelines, but the damage is done. Federer's team has turned on each other. They are screaming and hitting each other. They even resort to blow-darting each other. Then I woke up.



This dream is funny to me on several levels. I think it's awesome that I'd have a dream involving Federer and Nadal, but we wouldn't be playing tennis, we'd play badminton. That it's 3-on-3 badminton seems even more random. I think it's also interesting that while my conscious mind is fixated on Nadal, my subconscious was more than happy to have Federer take focus. Also, the last thing you'd ever see happen in real life is Federer having a hissy fit, so it's awesome that I got my own private show of it.

This dream also made me very happy that the US Open starts next week. Perhaps it was a dream of prophecy? Will Federer suffer a complete meltdown over a questionable Hawkeye call? We will have to wait and see...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

It Took Some Time, But They Made It Work


So the long-delayed new season of Project Runway is finally back on the air... now on Lifetime. I wasn't thrilled about the network switch, but it seems that the show has remained what it's always been with a few (pardon the pun) alterations. And with P.Runway, it seems the more things change, the more they stay the same. While we have a New City and New Contestants, we also keep the Same Show Structure, Same Hosts, Same Judges, Same Fabric Store and... Same Set? QUE QUE?? I have to say, I think it's hilarious that they moved out to sunny California only to keep the same dark cavernous runway set, so the last 25 minutes of every episode looks exactly like every other season. The set could be in a warehouse in Iowa and no one could tell the difference. Where's the LA influence on the actual runway?

I won't be recapping this show, but if you want some good Runway commentary/snark, please check out Sassy's recaps at HuffPo! The lady knows her Project Runway can spin a haiku with the best of 'em. I will say as the season starts that these contestants seem nice and talented but they all seem to be criers. It's week one and they are already blubbering away. Pull it together. The breakdowns over past drug addictions and the children you left behind to be on TV shouldn't come until episode 5 or 6. Focus on the competition for now, people. Do Tim Gunn proud and make it work!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Running: The New Contact Sport?

Today, while I was doing some Sunday afternoon writing, I happened to have the Track and Field World Championships on TV (that might not be its technical name, but it covers what's going on - lots of races, long jump and such - so we'll go with it.) I had the sound muted and was just sorta watching people race around the track as a background visual for when my eyes need to not be looking at the computer screen for a moment.

So it was during one of these moments, that I flicked my eyes up towards the screen just in time to see this woman from Ethiopia take a really nasty fall in the 1500m. Everyone else just sort of ran over her and kept going toward the finish line, which I guess is what you do in that situation, but it was still pretty harsh. On the replay, it showed that right before she fell, the Ethiopian runner got a couple elbows to the chest by some of the other runners. The hell? How is that legal? She couldn't even get up and finish the race. She was just left there on the track, crying in pain. It was crazy.

It was also not an isolated incident. THREE other events I happened to catch featured people throwing hard elbows or taking hard falls on the track. I can see falling in the hurdles or the steeplechase, but that wasn't what I was seeing. These were falls caused by other runners. It seems like in events when you don't have to stay in your lane, running becomes like an Ultimate Fighting Championship.

This made me consider whether or not such elbowing should be allowed in New York Road Runners races. On one hand, it would be a nice way to let the slow pokes who try to jump ahead of their time corral that they best stop getting in the way. On the other hand, I don't want to get elbowed in the ribs as I approach the finish line of a 10K race. So maybe we split the difference and beat up corral jumpers before the race starts and then once the whistle blows we go back to being all civilized. I think I can get behind that.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Sorry, New Shows. It's Not You, It's Me.

Dear New Shows of The Fall TV Line Up,

This isn't gonna be easy, so I'm just gonna rip the band aid off quick. I'm breaking up with you. I know, I know. You're confused. You're shocked. Maybe even a little angry. I know what you're going to say: I haven't even given you a chance yet. It's true. Just trust me when I tell you it's not you. It's me.

I've been thinking about this for a while, and I just can't make any new commitments right now. There's a lot going on in my life, and I really need to sort it out before I go adding any more shows to my DVR queue. I'm already behind as it is. Here we are at the Season 3 premiere of Mad Men, and the Season One box set is still looking at me longingly from atop my entertainment center. Maybe I'll catch up with some of you in the winter of 2011, when Netflix figures out a way to deliver your programming straight into my brain, but right now the timing is just off for us.

I know you want to blame Reality TV for monopolizing my time, but that's not fair. It's not trying to "control me" as you've suggested. It's not my fault that I enjoy several shows that refuse to go to Cancellation Heaven, so I find myself watching Survivor: Season 53 or The Amazing Race 21. I like these shows, they are familiar, even if they DO take up time. I don't have to spend the time and energy investing in a new TV relationship that might not work out. And unlike with scripted shows, when I record the reality ones, I can skip past the filler content as well as the regular commercials, allowing me to get through a 2 hour show like Biggest Loser in under 40 minutes. American Idol can be watched in under 20!

You also have this misfortune of launching at a time when typically non-fall shows like So You Think You Can Dance and Project Runway are coming back to the airwaves. That can add up to 5 additional hours of TV a week for me! How can you be expected to compete with that? Quite simply, you cannot. And it's not like I won't be cutting back on what I used to watch as it is. For instance, I'm sure I would enjoy ANTM's Short Bitches Edition, but I'm gonna make a clean break there. Because it's a stupid show... they shouldn't have fired Paulina. So it's not all about Reality TV as you'd like to believe.

Look, New Shows, just forget me. In time your wounds will heal. There are other viewers in the sea. Viewers who will appreciate you for what you have to offer: Vampire Diaries, Tough-As-Nails Nurses, First Responders, Alien Invaders, the list goes on an on. I wish you all the best in the future. Take care of yourselves. Please don't call.

Best,
Owen

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I vs. Fly

I finally managed to kill these two giant flies that have been buzzing around my apartment for nearly a week. It's not really worth a whole big blog post, I know, but I couldn't help but mention it. I really dislike flies. I find them very distracting. I can't really relax if i see them zooming around my living room or kitchen. And as much as i tried, i could not kill these two. I nicknamed them Grendel and Grendel's Mother. They got into my apartment when I opened my kitchen window when The Good Pot was destroyed. I tried swatting at them with papers and magazines, but they always zipped past me. I tried buying a fly swatter at the store but i couldn't find one for purchase Rite Aid is poised to declare it Halloween Season any day now. and summer supplies are no longer in stock. The dollar store was also out-of-stock. I was running out of options. Could i just wait out the life expectancy of these flies. They couldn't live forever. But I wanted them gone sooner rather than later.

Finally, two night's ago as I was locking my front door before bed, Grendel came zooming around me and hovered for a while just about a foot away from my face. As he stared menacingly at me, I brought both of my hands up quickly as if i was crashing cymbals together. Grendel was caught and killed. One down, one to go.

The next morning, Grendel's Mother zoomed around me with unbridled rage. I tried the Cymbal Smack Death Trap on her, but she would not be taken so easily. Nor would she shy away from making her presence know. She zipped around all over the place, and seemed to revel in her victory as I left for work without being able to kill her. When I returned in the evening, however, her number was up. She flew into the bathroom while I was washing my hands, and I got the upper-hand for good. Closing the door behind me, Grendel's Mother has nowhere to go. Her whole defense had been based on the fact that she could always change course and flee the room if i got too close. Now she was stuck and I could just swat away at her with my rolled up magazine until I finally scored a direct hit. It took 5 or 6 good tries, but I finally I connected and Grendel's Mother was slain. Sweet Victory!

There is peace and prosperity in my kingdom once more. No need to summon Beowulf.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

G.I. Joe: Memories come off the shelf


This morning I saw G.I. Joe with some friends. It's a bad movie, but I had fun. It's totally mindless and it feels about an hour too long, but I view it with a sort of affection even if I don't recommend it. I feel like the team making this movie wanted to give you the sense that you had while being an 8-year-old playing with the toys, pretending to blow tons of stuff up, playing fast and loose with logic and the laws of physics. The problem with the movie is that it's more like watching two 8-year-olds playing with G.I. Joe toys, which is not as fun as doing so yourself. You watch, and the absurdity is amusing, but you feel like you can come up with something a lot better. I honestly didn't expect much going in. All I wanted was for Snake Eyes to kick some ass, Scarlet to have pretty red hair and someone to say "Knowing Is Half The Battle" as the last line. All that pretty much happened (they said the line, but it didn't close out the movie) so I was pretty content even though the movie could easily be considered a ludicrous turd.

About an hour after the movie, I could hardly remember anything that I had just seen onscreen. It was as if the movie was so stupid it short-circuited my brain and the movie got lost in the shuffle. But now, several hours later, images and lines are popping up in my head, so I can piece together the puzzle of what it is was that I had sat through at this movie.

I've started mapping out the over-the-top craziness. Here are the highlights/lowlights. Beware of SPOILERS!!:

Duke is boring. He just was not interesting at all. I can't remember a single thing he did that was worthwhile the whole movie.

Marlon Wayans doesn't have a believable line delivery throughout the whole movie.

Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow are pretty awesome. The flashbacks to them as children are fun and the transitions to those flashbacks are kind of hilarious. Now that I think about it, Snake Eyes probably benefited from the fact he did not have any lines and therefore was spared sounding stupid.

The Baroness was kinda cool until they explained her backstory and then her coolness sunk like a stone.

Everyone is related. In this movie, the Baroness and Cobra Commander are brother and sister, but Baroness doesn't know the Commander is her brother cause he's supposed to be dead. Also Cobra Commander and Duke were best friends in the army once upon a time four years ago, and Duke was going to marry Baroness before she became Baroness. Was this to "up the stakes?" It was totally laughable and unnecessary.

All the Joe's and cobras wear extensive armor with helmets except for Scarlet and Baroness because apparently we wouldn't be able to identify them if we couldn't see their pretty hair. Baroness and Scarlet DO fight each other which is pretty cool.

Scarlett has ninja skills, crossbow skills, language skills and the amazing ability to state the obvious as it happens around her.

The movie starts off in France like 300 years ago. It was very strange. It was a Destro origin story, but having it be the first thing you see you're like "what the eff movie am i at? I came to see G.I. JOE!"

there was a polar bear. he was at the north pole.

there was a mime. he was at the Eiffel tower.

they wear super suits at one point and it's the lamest thing you see in the trailers, but it's not the lamest part of the movie.

the Eiffel Tower is evacuated when it's at risk of attack, but apparently that doesn't stop tons of people from still walking directly under it during the terrorist threat. After the Tower falls (rather uncomfortably in a 9/11 way, in my opinion) the US President is told "the french are not happy." which, I'm sure you'd agree, would be the understatement of the century in that situation.

The Cobras live in a giant station underwater at the north pole. It looks really expensive and they blow it up for no good reason.

Cobra Commander and Destro get captured at the end. But I think initially they were meant to escape, because it's done very hastily with some horrible CGI that wouldn't even belong in Spy Kids 3. It's weird.

The End Credits of the movie scroll out over a remix of Boom Boom Pow. WHY??? Is there really no Joe Theme Song we could play? Really??

Okay, my brain has stopped working again. Suffice to say, there is no plot or sense to what is going on. Ebert's review of it is spot. on. Here is the opening to the much more comprehensible cartoon movie from the 80's. Enjoy that if you need your Joe fix. The movie is bad. Now you know. And knowing is half the battle.

Friday, August 7, 2009

SYTYCD - Top 4 & America's Favorite Dancer

It's the finale, Pippin! The FINALE!

So after many summer weeks of auditions, tickets to Vegas, the terrible cutting of Natalie from the show, the Top 20 being selected, and the Top 10 being voted through, autumn quickly approaches and it's time to name the winner from the ranks of the Final Four. I'd be pleased with 3 out of the 4 winning it all. Are the odds truly in my favor? (Spoiler Alert: They are!)

We have moved to the Kodak Theater where the stage is giant, the energy is awesome and the lighting is... oddly too hot. Lots of the specials are too bright and shiny - especially in HD. I'm sure it looks amazing in person, but the majority of people are not watching it live in the theater. Reports claim there was between 3,000 and 3,500 people there this week. I'm just saying. Save the stage lighting for the tour!

The final performance night saw strong performances from Kayla, stronger performances from Brandon and Jeanine and a whole lot of crowd support for Evan. But who was going to WIN?? It was anybody's guess. There were some strong routines (Paso Doble, Jazz and Contemporary were well represented) and some not so strong (Jive, Pop Jazz, and The Wade Robson Final Four number all didn't really work) but the solos were all very exciting and it seemed like a close race.

That brings us to Thursday Nights Results/Season Review. We got to see so many great numbers from this year, which made a nice argument for the quality of the season as a whole, even though lots of fans have been complaining it's not as stellar as years past. I think this season was just as good as last year routine-wise. It was just the quality of the hip hop that was a bit lacking. The highlight of the season for me was Mia's Addiction piece which I have watched on DVR and Youtube at least 6 or 7 times today. It's so good! The only two stand-out pieces missing for me from the finale were Crash Test Dummies and the Janette and Brandon wade robson piece. Oh! The Top 10 Asian-themed piece too. I hope they find their way to the tour.

So let's move on to how things shook down for our final four.




Kayla. If she had won, I would've been pleased. She was certainly deserving. On Wednesday, Adam put her in a category with Travis, Danny and Will in terms of truly amazing dancers who have been on the show. It was appropriate to put her in that group because none of those dancers won their respective seasons either. It's hard for the best dancer to win, because they are usually the best all along and the Voting Public loves to pull for the underdog at the end. Kayla was incredible all the way through, and definitely deserved her spot in the finale. I'm sure she will go on to have a phenomenal dance career making her adorable grandparents very proud in the process. And I think her performance in Addiction is going to win Mia another Emmy this fall!



Evan. He of the super cute face, amazing Broadway dance skills, and inability to appear either sexy or angry during dances. He looked like he was in a good position to win, except the show didn't want him to. Seriously! I have never seen a show try to throw its most popular contestant under the bus the way this show has the past couple weeks. Clearly Nigel and the other judges on this show accept that Evan is amazing in his own style, but they feel he has not really grown so much in the other styles handed to him. For the judges, this show is a journey of growth, if someone isn't "growing" as a dancer, they get cut. Having Evan as the eventual winner was not to their liking. As Evan managed to avoid even being in danger of going home week after week, the judges (and me watching from home) appeared nervous that he would win in spite of their show philosophy and upped their criticism, while trying to avoid a populist backlash. So in the final week, Evan got stuck dancing Jazz, Pop Jazz and Jive. He literally got dominated by Jeanine in the first, out-danced by Brandon in the second and struggled through the Jive about as much as he did the last time he got it. To top it off, Nigel throws down with him during judging and basically declares him cute, but not as good as the others. The other judges agree. I agree. And the vote finally didn't go his way this week. I know I've been hard on Evan, but I hope my animosity never really went overboard, because I did think he was good. Now that he didn't win, I can love him again.



Brandon. Better to lose to Jeanine in the Final 2 this season, than to lose out on Top 20 to Gev last season. Brandon was the strongest of the male dancers this year. I can't believe he got those massive muscles just be partnering his whole life. I would much rather do that than work out. He had so many great routines with Janette through to the Top 10, and he was a great partner for the other girls through to the Finale. He had his issues with Mia and Lil C at the beginning, but who were they effing kidding? He's great. I felt like he carried the torch for discarded Natalie as well (but maybe I'm just projecting). He excelled in every dance genre he was given. He performed fantastic solo pieces. It was great watching him all season. He should be proud of how he carried himself throughout. Well deserved finish, good sir.



JEANINE! She won! A very impressive come-from-behind victory, indeed. The first couple of weeks she was held back a bit by Phillip being her partner, and getting crazy genres like Russian folk dance. She was always a hot, talented dancer with a fierce competitive streak, and once she got to the top 10, she really was able to shine. Once she caught that locket thrown by Jason during Travis's contemporary piece, I was in her corner. I'm sure that as Nigel assessed the possible dark horses to deny Evan the win, his first thought was Janette, but she shockingly got voted out early before he could really start her campaign. He naturally then looked at Kayla, but despite her amazing talent, she always landed toward the bottom of the pack. This left Jeanine, who wanted the title bad enough and had the skills and fan base to claim it. I really do think Nigel orchestrated her win a bit, especially in his remarks this week, but she had great performances all season, tons of beauty and personality and ultimately saved her best for last. Kudos to you Jeanine! Congrats! You are America's Favorite Dancer... until the whole process starts again next month! Enjoy it!

See you in a few weeks for season 6, my show of shows!

p.s. Marry me, Cat Deely. I love you. Never leave this show!



Thursday, August 6, 2009

Rafa Returns!

After being sidelined for two and a half months due to his knee injury, Rafael Nadal is coming back to the tour next week at the Masters Series tournament in Montreal. The event begins August 10th. I'm already equal parts very excited and very nervous. Questions swirl in my head. What kind of condition will he be in? Will he be the punishing player we know and love? I feel like the sport of tennis needs its Rafa. As amazing as the final between Roddick and Federer turned out to be at Wimbledon this year, the tournament as a whole really missed his presence in the draw. He brings so much to the game and it will be great to have him back. I really hope he is at 100% and can continue his style of dominating play. I hope he stays healthy the rest of the summer so he has a real shot at the US Open title. I want him to win it so badly! The hardcourts are the most punishing surface on the legs though, and will not help Rafa in his hyper-physical approach to tennis. But I'll be cheering for him as loud as possible. Vamos, Rafa! Here's a clip of him talking about fishing... i don't know why. Ask the US Open advertising people.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Holy Night, Deadly Night

BFF and I have had a long standing dream to sing "O Holy Night"during a karaoke night. Most places don't have it, and last time we were at Duet 35, they had it but the karaoke machine kept getting an error when we put it in. Cruelly thwarted! But last weekend, when Maikiko was back in town, we tried it again and it worked! O Holy Night was sung, and of course we sounded great but that wasn't the best part. The best part was the video that went along with it. I don't know what strange Japanese movie was playing in the background but it was fantastically inappropriate for O Holy Night. It was some war movie, with soldiers getting shot at and killed in the snow. It was hilarious. Someone had the good sense to take a picture of it.



We thought the video was so good, we sang the song AGAIN later in the night just to see what video we got this time. The second video was even better. It involved this girl whose boyfriend got killed in a hit and run accident during a big rain storm. She was running through the hospital, totally distraught, trying to find him, while we are singing "a thrill of hope the weary world rejoices!" And then in a moment worthy of Dark Side Of The Rainbow, she finds him and he's all dead and she collapses in the hospital hallway as we are singing "FAAALLL ON YOUR KNEEEEEEES!!" It was truly a moment. But the biggest kicker was at the very end as the song is wrapping up, the girl in the video is sitting on a bench outside the hospital. She is consumed by her grief. She looks totally miserable. And as she's sitting there, and the last "oh, night divine!" is fading out, a car zooms by though a puddle right in front of the bench. Water splashes up and completely drenches the girl as she just sits there in shock and sadness. Simple amazing!

We actually happened to go back this week and sang it again, just to see what movie we'd get this time, and it was a video of a sad Japanese young man whose girlfriend had left their apartment and the girlfriend may or may not have died. It seemed like he was seeing ghostly images of her. It was not as bloody as the first two videos but just as creepy. I can't say enough how happy these videos made me. They truly mad it a karaoke night divine.

RIP, Good Pot

This post is not about drugs. I had a bit of a cooking mishap this past weekend. After running 16 miles in Central Park on Saturday, I returned home very very hungry. I decided to hard-boil some eggs (I also ate everything that remained in the fridge that required no preparation). I retired to the couch in my living room while waiting for the water to boil. And then I fell asleep. I did not sleep for very long, only long enough to completely forget that I had put eggs to boil on the stove.

Can we guess what happened next, faithful readers? I don't know how much time had actually passed, but it was a while. I was relaxing on the couch, when suddenly I heard what I sounded like gunshots coming from the kitchen and then an awful hissing noise. I jumped up in alarm and ran down the hallway to see what happened, but still I did not remember about the eggs, I feared that some random pipe had burst and was spraying water all over my apartment. Luckily that was not the case. It was just a half-dozen eggs that had combusted in the pot after all the water had evaporated. There was not a lot of smoke or even a terrible smell considering it was eggs being dealt with. Some of them shot REALLY far outside of the pot, but mostly stayed together and were easy to clean up. The pot itself, however, did not make it through. While the eggs were just minor casualties I was so sad about this pot. It was my favorite pot! It had travelled with me to many apartments over the past 5 years, and I had cooked so many tasty things in it. My lack of attention had brought about it's untimely demise. Such guilt I felt! But I will not let this pot die in vain. I resolve now to be better about not walking away once I've started cooking something. If I save one more of my pots from a similar fate, it will show this pot's death was not meaningless. It's the best I can do.

The Good Pot is survived by several lesser pots and a skillet.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Owen's Andy Rooney Moment: Ghost Hunters

What's the deal with this show Ghosthunters? I've never seen it, and i don't understand it. I saw several commercials for it today, and all they did was confuse and annoy me. Ghosthunters is a show on what is now the "SyFy Channel" (possibly the dumbest network name change in the history of Cable TV - but that's a rant for another day). The show follows a team of people called ghost hunters who go around the world and visit supposedly haunted places in the hopes of catching the ghosts on camera. That's all fine and good in theory, but it seems like the producers and casting directors made a few key mistakes along the way. The first problem is that they only seem to look for ghosts at night, which is a total Ghost Myth. Ghosts haunt 24/7. They can be hunted during the day. Maybe they think it's spookier to only hunt at night, but that leads to a lot of night-vision handheld camera work, giving the show a very Blair Witch Project feel. I don't want to watch that,

The second - perhaps greater - problem is the casting. If you were casting a show called Ghost Hunters, why would you choose a bunch of people who are afraid of ghosts? Every time these people are in the dark and hear a ghostly sound, they freak the Eff out. They start shouting and running around. I realize they don't have proton packs at their disposal, but why don't they try HUNTING the Ghosts, or at least seem excited to find them. An example: There's this girl in some underground tunnel. She hears a noise. She starts to panic. "Someone is knocking!" she exclaims. Then she adds, trembling "Hello...?" I mean, please. The appropiate response should be "Guys! Over here! I've found one. It's knocking. Help me isolate it!" All this should be said with a hungry sort of glee. There should be excitement! Otherwise, they are doing ghost hunting a disservice. The first rule of ghost hunting should harken back to the old Ghostbusters theme song: I ain't afraid of no ghosts. If you cannot handle it, you should be the one calling the ghost hunters, not the one riding with them. Step it up, team.