Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Idol Top 10: Ushering In The Apocalypse

(Sending out an SOS - The "Scream Of Siobahn" tries to save Didi from an elimination-worthy performance, but to no avail. What becomes of the broken artist? Didi's about to find out.)

In continued observance of how I breeze through Am.Idol by fast-forwarding on my DVR, here are my brief (although, I'll admit, they've been getting longer) comments on Tuesday's Top 10 performances, followed by the even more briefly visited Results Show (this continues to be a very short visit). Usher is the Mentor this week. I thought he was fine. Much like Miley, he's trying to get these kids to PERFORM better, as if everyone has kinda given up on them sounding better. Let's see what happened, shall we?

1) Siobhan Magnus - Am.Idol's Allison Reynolds finally gets her Breakfast Club makeover, with Usher standing in for the part of Molly Ringwald. She's nervous as hell meeting him. For the live performance, she's singing "Through The Fire" which is appropriate since she totally crashed and burned and then tried to claw her way out of this one. She doesn't sound good from the beginning and then her panic level just rises throughout. She tries to find herself in the trademark shout, but even that kind of doesn't show up for her this. The judges mostly pan the performance until Simon really rips it apart. Then we spend another 5 minutes talking to her on stage, but I zip zap zop right past it, because it's over. Everyone oughta just let it go. When we come back, we bizarrely follow Siobhan backstage where she might be planning to kill herself in front of the vegetable platters set up on folding tables in the corner (what a crappy holding room they have back there!). Luckily Big Mike is on hand with a bear hug that keeps her out of reach of the plastic utensils.

2) Casey James - Casey is singing... wait, it just finished and I totally forgot. I'm not kidding. I have no idea what he sang. I'll go back and check later. Ellen and Kara rightfully tell him that he keeps singing in the middle of his range and that he's really stiff (maybe I added that part). Simon thought it was his best performance. Okay then. He also gets an exit interview at the end, so I guess that's a thing now. But I'm not listening. (p.s. he sang Hold On.)

3) Big Mike - He sings I Am Ready For Love. It's very pleasant and well-sung even if this is not the happiest song on the planet. It's pretty restrained for Big Mike. I just don't know if there's anything he can sing that would make me an actual fan of his at this point. But it was a totally nice performance, the judges dug it, and it looks like he is happy during his post-performance interview but I zip on past that nonsense.

4) Didi Benami - She is singing What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted? It's the weirdest thing ever! It's all over the place. It's WAY dramatic. Siobhan's scream finally makes its way on stage 3 performers too late and possesses Didi for the last few measures of her song for reasons unknown. The judges are all "i don't even know who you ARE anymore!" as if she just told them she was the loneliest vampire slayer in Sunnydale. Then EFFING SEACREST tries to rip some untold secret out of Didi so that's she'll cry on stage and Didi debates for half a second to go there with him and then steadfastly takes the highroad, which I immediately respect her for doing. Seacrest tries again and again until finally the judges are like "Fuck, dude. It's over. You lost. Just give us her damn numbers already." Reluctantly, Seacrest does, and then he and Didi hug. But Didi's smile is made out of steel and you know she's gonna cut that bitch after the show for taunting her on stage. Seacrest mentions Tim is gonna sing Anita Baker after the break and my DVR is like "WTF! don't put me through this!" Sorry, old friend. Truly, I'm sorry.

5) Tim Urban - Tim and Seacrest talk for a while. Who cares? Not me. (although I'm told Seacrest mentions his nickname of Teflon Tim at this point and Tim smiles through it as broadly as ever.) In the clip package, Tim meets with Usher, he sings "Sweet Love" and Usher calls him fake. He asks Tim if he's ever been in love and Tim lies and says he has, but I don't think he has been. I don't fault him this! Except he keeps having to sing "I'm in looove!" and it seems not so. Usher is all, "sing as if I'm the girl you're in love with," and Tim can't handle it. Usher has boy parts and Tim has boy parts - how can he pretend otherwise for the sake of the mentoring process? When we get to the actual performance, it sounds... better than usual? I don't know. Randy sings it better in his critique than Tim did in performance. Ellen takes her critique time of Tim to officially break up with him. Kara's can't do better than WTF? And Simon finds discussing him irrelevant to anything. If that's not bad enough for you, Andrew is up next.

6) Andrew Garcia - We are half way through and 4 performances have been total train wrecks. Andrew is singing Forever by Chris Brown. It's acoustic and it's not bad! Suddenly he can sing on pitch! It really was much better than anything he's done prior. The judges all say nice things to him, Simon says something about personality and how he's gonna get cut before dead weight Tim Urban if he doesn't find a personality and then Seacrest drags Andrew's mother into it - literally. I thin Ryan has turned to Crystal Meth to cope with this season. He is way out there tonight. It's like he's got all these great schemes to fix things, but none of them make any sense in reality. He's become Serena van der Woodsen.

7) Katie Stevens - She will be subjecting us to Chain of Fools. It's pitchy for days. I just think this stage is too big for her. She can't rise to it yet. She needs more years under her belt, I think. I'm bored. Zip Zap Zop. Randy thinks it's one of the best vocals of the night... by default? Because 4 of 7 people bombed? Ugh... I'm done with her. The judges are all in disagreement on where she should head. I say out the door. Sorry, Stevens!

8) Lee Dewyze - Looks so scared at all times! He sounds fine with Usher. He seems to know he needs to stop holding himself back. So stop holding yourself back then! He's singing "Treat Her like a Lady" He sounds good, still looks scared as hell. Get confident, stupid! It's going on too long Zip Zap Zop. The judges love it. Ellen says the night has finally started. With the 8th performer, Ellen? REALLY? the judges heap praise on him, hoping he can take it and suddenly become another interesting contestant on the show.

9) BOWERSOX! - She's on the piano! Usher loves her! Rightly so. She's basically using this opportunity to do everything she doesn't normally do to prove she can do it, if she CHOSE to do so. That being accomplished, she will probably never choose to do it on this show ever again. There's no guitar. There are high heels. There's no area rug. There is smiling at the audience. I think it's a smart move for her strategically. 3 of the judges totally eat it up and Simon begs her not to change who she is. She looks at him like, "Stay cool, my baby. Mama Sox is here to stay!" Simon just can't suffer the rest of the season without her. Seacrest gets even more nonsensical while talking to her. I hope he gets through the last contestant without foaming from the mouth.

10) Aaron Kelly - in the pimp spot, he's singing Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone. Usher gives him good advice, which he kinda takes in rehearsal, but then abandons in actual performance. It's just kinda flat. Randy's like eh. Ellen lies and says she really liked it. Kara is a little more honest and says she kinda liked it. Simon thinks it didn't really compare to other versions of the song on this show which is true. He was neither worst nor best.

Bottom 3 prediction? Siobahn, Didi and Tim. Maybe Katie Stevens. Siobahn could be in real danger.

Results show. Oh, this is gonna be quick. We zip through the beginning which seems to be a cross-promo for Clash of the Titans, but I'm not stopping to find out. There is no group sing this week. I hope that becomes a trend. They might have filmed a Ford commercial. It's hard to tell if it's Kris Allen or not when the images fly by at triple speed. Then we're on stage and Ruben Studdard performs. He looks very good (he's now a vegan!) and sounds nice, but if there was ever a visual reminder why it's not worth giving the title to Big Mike, they literally bring both of them out on stage together so you can be reminded that the smooth r&b crooners don't really survive outside this show. Ruben's going on tour with Clay this summer because it's apparently we've been transported back to 2003. Look, Ruuuben's not my favorite Idol winner, but he seems like a good enough dude. I don't mean to snark on him too bad.

There are two other performances tonight. One is Usher who manages to be both Fosse and MJ in a performance of a song that curiously seems to be spoke-sung. Then later on Diddy is premiering a new single? I don't know. There are too many non-Idol performances going on. Why does Fox insist on making this show last an hour?

Real final 3 were Katie, Didi and Tim. Katie got sent back to safety first and then Tim was also safe. Didi sang for her life, but the show ran way over and my DVR gave up. Why do you need to cram the show with so many performances and time-wasters just to have it go over at the only part that matters? I can tell you Didi didn't get saved. I know, I know, you're all very shocked. Still, I will miss Didi. I liked the tone of her voice and her general craziness and she was pretty. There are now 6 guys left and only 3girls and one of those girls is Katie who could easily be cut next week. It's really Bowersox against the boys for the win. Wowzers.

Next week we butcher the Lennon-McCartney songbook. What should Tim destroy? Blackbird? Eleanor Rigby? Please no, Imagine. I think it'd be most amazing if he just sang Help.

Monday, March 29, 2010

March Madness: Elite Eight - Cruel, Cruel Fate

For the love of Jiminy, will you look at that? Not one. NOT ONE of my Final Four predictions came true. The Elite Eight was no good to me. The only No. 1 seed to get through to the Final Four was one i didn't pick to get there. Good on you Duke, but bad on me. Since President Obama and I had the same Final Four and eventual Champion Pick we are both plum out of luck. But he got Health Care passed last week, and I'm sure that accomplishment is softening the blow of his bracket going bust. What do I have that's as big as that? ...Sigh.

So we got four teams left: (1) Duke vs. (2) West Virgina, and (5) Michigan State vs. (5) Butler. I'm gonna go against conventional wisdom and say the Final 2 will be West Virginia and Butler, because what do I have to lose at this point? Why should anything in this year's tournament make sense on paper?

Sadly, with all my chosen teams eliminated I can gain no more points on the NY Times website. Right now I have 280 of 736 points possible. My ranking has plummeted to 24853 of all players. We'll see where I finish two rounds from now. Even if none of my teams made it, at least the games remain hard-fought and exciting. May the best team win!

Bloody Brilliant!!

(Action Jackson: the cast gets ready for a Populist Revolution.)

I need to give an empathic shout out to Les Freres Corbusier's production of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson now playing at The Public Theater? This is a fantastic show that looks at the controversial life and legacy of Andrew Jackson, our first populist emo-rock front man president. The script is very funny and the songs all rock HARD. The cast is fantastic. The staging is great. The set and the lighting design are just bursting with style. It's such a slick production. Whether or not you saw the show last year at the Public LAB, you need to see it again this April. Seriously, don't miss out. This is one of my favorite shows I've seen in a long long time.

Go here for tickets. There are also some cool discount codes for the show here. Don't delay!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Idol Top 11: Several Number Ones Sung By A Bunch of Zeroes

(Paige coming back next week, is against all odds...)

In continued observance of how I breeze through Am.Idol by fast-forwarding on my DVR, here are my very brief comments on Tuesday's Top 11 performances, followed by the even more briefly visited Results Show. It was Miley Cyrus mentor week (if you needed any indication about how little respect the producers have for this years vocal talent), and the contestants are all singing songs that were #1's on the Billboard charts. Ahh, but there's a twist! They must be songs that were released at least 20 years before Miley Cyrus was born! What's that you say? There was no such stipulation? 9 of the 11 Contestants chose to do that on their own to seem as musically irrelevant as possible? Sweet Jeebus, what are they thinking?? Anyway, here's how it went down.

#1 - Lee Dewyze sings The Letter, big-band style. Lee remains consistently slightly under-pitch. Miley advises him to have more personality. It's good advice that Lee doesn't really apply to his performance. But why choose this of all songs? Makes no sense to me.

#2 - Paige Miles - Girl, when Miley tells you that you are pitchy you are in TROUBLE. It's beyond the pot calling the kettle black. This performance is awful. She's singing Phil Collins Against All odds, because it was against all odds that she would ever choose this song? It's the worst Idol vocal I've heard since Jon Stevens' Crocodile Rock back in Season 3!! (I actually looked it up. That was BAD. This is WORSE.) The judges all tell her flat out it was terrible. She's gotta go. A terrible vocal. And why choose this of all songs? Makes no sense to me.

#3 - Tim Urban - Oh jeez. It's like Tim saw Paige tank from off-stage and thought "Hey! Being the worst is MY thing! I can be lamer than you!" He then went out there to suck worse than Paige, sliding across the stage like he's Conrad Birdie or something, but still the challenge was too great to sink so low. He's singing Crazy Little Thing Called Love. WHY? These people are total idiots with the song choices tonight. Makes no sense to me.

#4 - Aaron Kelly - Singing I Don't Want to Miss a Thing. A song from the 90's! WOW! All the judges think he did great and jump on the fact he has "tonsillitis" this week. I actually am liking him a little bit this week, but maybe it's just because they put him on after two total stinko performances. Seacrest calls him "Archuleta" and even though I wasn't a big Archie fan, even I know Archie could sing circles around Aaron.

#5 - Crystal Bowersox - BOWERSOX! She's singing Me and Bobby McGee. It's a little too obvious a song choice for me, but I'll give her a break because she should sing Janis at some point this season. Miley tells her to up the key, and I believe she takes the advice which is good. When the tempo picks up and she smiles, I get goosebumps. What would this season be without her? Ellen is a bit critical of her again. and I don't know what Ellen's angle is. I guess she just wants her to keep improving and never get voted out.

#6 - Big Mike - Sings when A Man Loves A Woman in a very loungy style. The vocal is not bad, which would put him head and shoulders above 90% of the contestants left in the competition even if he wasn't already physically head and shoulders above them. A pretty generic song choice though. Kinda boring.

#7 - Andrew Garcia - has come to bore us all thoroughly with I Heard It Through The Grapevine. Miley tries to fix what's wrong with him by making him put down the guitar for one performance. It doesn't really help him. She requests for him to learn the lyrics too. He seems to mostly follow this advice. This contestant has run out of gas. Again - the theme is No. 1 Billboard songs. Why choose this of all songs? Makes no sense to me.

#8 - Katie Stevens - sings an actual contemporary song with Fergie's Big Girls Don't Cry. Unfortunately it doesn't really go well. I don't know what kind of song fits her voice, but these big throaty songs only highlight her weaknesses. No pitch control. Really not good. She's still trying though. I'll give her that.

#9 - Casey James - Is singing the Power Of Love. I give up. It's too corny. I dig Huey Lewis and I love Back to the Future, but again, why - WHY?? -choose this of all songs? Makes no sense to me.

#10 - Didi Benami - tempts the gods by singing a song titled "You're No Good." Well, Didi? You're okay, you're okay, you're okay. Baby, you're just okay... there's something I like about Didi. maybe it's just that she's hot. She could be doing much better than she is right now, though.
#11 - Siobhan Magnus - Allison Reynolds is singing Superstition. I dunno... I mean, she's cool and she can sing. But she doesnt really do anything with it that you wouldn't expect. You're basically just waiting the whole time for her to do her now-trademark screech at the end. She does it, and then you're like "enh.." And for the last time tonight I say, why choose this of all songs? She's not gonna record anything like this. Makes no sense to me.

So the bottom 3 i thought were easily Paige, Tim and Andrew. They were just awful in a sea of really bad singing and song choices. When we got to the Results Show Miley braved a live performance (which is not her forte) and then Joe Jonas and his current girlfriend came out and put all of the bad performances of this week to shame with a truly horrible performance that I couldn't spend more than a few seconds listening to.

Bottom 3 were Paige (no shit) Tim (duh) and Katie (liked less than andrew it it's own sort of elimination). Bottom 2 were Paige and Tim and then Paige was revealed as lowest vote-getter. Simon's all "no need to sing for your life, there's no way in hell you're getting the Judge's Save." And Paige is all "Thanks, wasn't after it in the least." They show the montage of Paige's journey back when she cared about being in the competition and then she sings her way out. Everone that's left will be on the tour this summer. Excited, yet?

Next week, it's R&B theme with Usher as the "mentor." That should be as a bloody a pile-up as the opening crash sequence in Final Destination 2. See you there!

(Think of the brunette as Bowersox!)

March Madness: Sweet 16 - More bitter than sweet

This is certainly the tournament of upsets. Pretty much at every turn the lower seed was winning match-ups against heavily favored teams. Sigh, I'll do this briefly, because it's gotten too painful. Heading into the Elite 8, I'm not doing well. Only 4 of my 8 finalists remain, and I've been completely shut out of the Midwest quadrant. Butler's defeat of Syracuse left me only Kansas State on one whole side of the draw. Kentucky still has a shot at making it to the Championship... but I have no confidence in my bracket at all at this point. So expect to see West Virgina make the Final Four!
Ironically, even as my hopes dwindle, my ranking at the NY Times website went up this round! I am now ranked 13,886 of all players with 280 of 572 points possible.

Fingers crossed my remaining teams have a good showing this weekend!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Rafa at Indian Wells: Hey, a Title is a Title!

(on the left: Rafa wins a tournament wearing a not-crazy pair of shorts for the first time in ages. on the right Rafa and Marc Lopez share the trophy. They are both delighted by their success and so am I.)

This weekend, Rafa Nadal and Marc Lopez went from being just a Spanish wild card doubles team, to being the Doubles Champions at the Indian Wells Masters Series. They claimed the title after beating the No.1 seeds, Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic,7-6(8), 6-3 in the finals. Congrats, guys!

Rafa had two big matches on Saturday. The first was the singles semifinals against Ivan Ljubicic which Rafa rather surprisingly lost 6-3, 4-6, 6-7 (1). Rather hilariously, Rafa claimed he'd lost that match only "accidentally." The rest of his totally charming explanation went like this: "That's my feeling, because I was playing (well) enough to win the tournament. It was an important accident, and I have to learn to try to play more aggressive next time, try to convert the opportunities. But for the rest, nothing to say, no? I was feeling I was playing better than probably ever on this court. This tournament I was playing very good, having very good victories, beating a very difficult opponent like Isner, and later against a very good Berdych. So I happy about how I did here. I am playing at my best level. I know that. But just not today." It should be noted Ljubicic played the tournament of his life, taking the title over Andy Roddick in the Championship match on Sunday,

If the afternoon gave Nadal troubles, they didn't stick in his head long, because by the team the doubles final rolled around in the evening, Rafa shrugged off the disappoint of the earlier loss and went to work winning the final, which not-so-surprisingly, made him very happy.

"For Marc and me, it was an amazing week and a dream to win the title here. After losing an important singles [match], the victory in doubles makes me happy. Always is nice to win the tournament, no?"

Always is nice indeed, Rafa. Nadal now heads down to Miami to play at the Miami Masters Series Tournament. Rafa drops to #4 in the world this week, because this was his first tournament back since the Aussie Open, and because he didn't reach the same result he did last year in Indian Wells when he won. Rafa has lost a bunch of bonus points to add to his ranking by not playing the past few weeks. He made it farther this tournament than current world's No. 1 and No. 2, Roger Federer and Novak Djokivic did. Plus after Miami, we're into the clay season which is always Rafa's bread and butter. So expect more success! Vamos Rafa!

March Madness: Round 2 - Bracket Breakdown

Oy. My bracket is DEAD. I was worried that my pick for Final Four competitor (2) Villanova was in danger of losing early, and that worry proved to be well-founded. Nova got bounced by (10) St. Mary's in the second round. But that wasn't the worst of it, my pick to win it all was Kansas and in a shocking upset, Top-Seed Kansas lost to (9) Northern Iowa. I wasn't alone in picking Kansas to win it all. President Obama picked them, as did about 96% of bracket builders. So now we're all screwed.

Overall, I have 8 of my sweet 16 picks still in play, and I can still have 6 of my elite 8 picks make it to the next round. With all the losses, I still managed 200 out of 404 total points on the nytimes website and I'm ranked 19,204. So I'm slipping a bit. We'll see how the rest of the tourney plays out. If the first two rounds are any indication, there will be more surprises ahead!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Mind The Art's What If? Cabaret: 3/26 and 4/2 - BUY TICKETS NOW!

I am performing in an awesome Cabaret this Friday and next at La Mama ETC! I heartily invite everyone to come out. The cabaret is part of the Mind The Art Anthology series that is going up for the next two weekends.

The show is called, What If? - Broadway. Revised, Retuned, and Remixed. It takes the "What If?" concept I like to think was popularized in DC and Marvel Comics "What if the radioactive spider never bit Peter Parker? What if Bruce Wayne's Parents had lived? What if the Dark Phoenix took control of the universe??) and applies it to Broadway show tunes in the most amazing ways. "What if The Sound of Music was belted out by a 1920s jazz vocalist? What if The Impossible Dream dripped with sultry Latin flavor? What if the Ballad of Sweeney Todd was the start of a rock musical?" You get the idea. I'm having a great time in rehearsal with it and I would love to see you guys come out and support. Deets below:

Mind the Art Entertainment Presents:What If? - Broadway. Revised, Retuned, and RemixedMusical Director: Christian De GréFeaturing Performances By: Amanda Marasch, Chuk Obasi, Ariana Paganetti, Owen Panettieri, Joe Reese, Alyssa Robbins, Kris Roberts, Sean Schwebke, Manny Simone, Adam Shorsten, Jason Sofge, Will Taylor, Kristin Wetherington and Ashley C. Williams

Tickets: $15, $10 for students and seniors

Purchase at http://www.mindtheartentertainment.com/ or http://www.lamama.org/

Reminder: Mind The Art has other shows that weekend at La Mama, but you want to see the one with ME which is only on the two FRIDAYS. Also note the 10PM start time. The other shows are great too. BFF is in the Saturday shows, so I suggest at the very least you see one show this first week on Friday and one show the next week on Saturday. There are three shows though! So maybe TWO shows one weekend. But mostly I'm concerned about my shows on the FRIDAYS. That's what you're responible for. :) Hope to see you there!

(click to embiggen all the Mind The Art Anthology Awesomeness!!)

PARIS at my feet! PARIS in the duuuuust!

Paris in 2010, baby!

That's right. I've been weighing candidates for this year's foreign travel location, and after a process more extensive than anything going into an IOC Olympic bid selection, I've happily settled on Paris. The trip will take place in June and I'm very excited about it. Much like last year's trip to Rome, Paris is a foreign city I've always wanted to visit, I'm going alone and I don't know the language. Also, like last time, I'll blog about my visit for y'all. "But Owen." you say, "you never finished blogging about your Rome trip!" Well, thank you for point that out, bloggy public. My response is simply, stay cool my babies! I wrote it out. I haven't uploaded the last bits because my journey around Via Borghese was very site specific and I had packed my bike map of the area in my "Romentos" folder and that folder got backed away in my filing boxes. So i didn't know all the names of some of places I visited, when I was recapping. I have to go back and put in the right names and then I can upload the rest of the story. It will happen. I'm just lazy. But it will happen before I go to Paris for sure.

If you've been to Paris or are perhaps in Paris right now, and would like to suggest places I should go over the four days I'm in La Ville-Lumière, I am all ears. I am going to be in Paris during the French Open and it's my goal to see a match at Roland Garros. Even if it's just a ground's pass, I would love to be at the facility for the men's final (hopefully with Rafa winning the title!) and I feel like I have to make it happen. It's a little worrisome to me that I'll be so close to EuroDisney. With no one on hand to talk some reason into me, might I spend one of my days in Disneyland Paris?? I'm not ashamed to say that I've checked the map and sadly/thankfully Mr. Toad's Wild Ride is NOT an attraction in that park's version of Fantasyland. That' probably would've sealed my fate if it were there. I love that ride!!

I'll be staying in Montmartre, right next to the Moulin Rouge! I think it's gonna be a great time. I can't wait!

NYC 1/2 Marathon This Sunday, 3/21!

(A fun pic of me in Times Square from my first half-marathon in 2008. Good times!)

Sunday is the NYC Half-Marathon! It's gonna be a wonderful morning to run through Manhattan. I would like to thank Jeebus for scheduling the mini-hurricane last weekend instead of this weekend. 13.1 miles through that weather would've been intolerable.

The race starts around 7:30am with a loop around Central Park Then we head down 7th ave through Times Square (where I blow my customary kiss toward the Richard Rodgers) and then we make a hard turn West and finish the last few miles on the West Side Highway, finishing at Chambers street. I will be done around 9:30am. I have to work on my race day playlist tonight!

If you would like to receive email alerts to my progress along the course, you can sign up for them at the link below. Registration is just putting in your email and making a password, and then you click on my name in the athlete index.


I'm very much looking forward to this race. It will be fun to run with my cousin, Alene Meehan, again as well. I'm looking forward to our pasta dinner this evening! If you're an early bird on the weekends, I'd love to see you on the course! If not, just say a prayer for me having a safe race and give a cheer for us in your dreams!

March Madness: Round 1 Mini-Massacre!

Jeez, who told these lower-seeded teams to believe in themselves? Don't they know what bracket busters they're being? Damn... let's take a look at the damage.

So all in all, I incorrectly predicted nine first round winners and correctly predicted 23. Not TOO bad. All my Elite 8 and Final Four Teams remain in play (however, Nova looked really vulnerable in it's first round game, and as I'm writing this, it's not looking good for them against 10th seed St. Mary's. Not good at all.)

The biggest upsets for me were (3) Georgetown losing to (14) Ohio in the Midwest, and (6) Notre Dame losing to (11) Old Dominion in the South. I had picked them to go to the Round of 16. Boo-urns. I see how people get so obsessed with their brackets during March Madness. With my beloved UConn not invited to The Dance, I wasn't sure who I'd really root for, but by picking a winner in each game, you become invested in games between teams you could very well know nothing about! Everything matters!

Right now on the NYTimes bracket, I have 120 out of 208 possible points. I don't know how they decide points, but it leaves me ranked 18,422nd of all players. Here's hoping I do better with my predictions in Round 2. Although Nova... sigh... I think I backed the wrong horse on that one.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Idol Top 12: Six of Suck, Half A Dozen of the Other

(good-bye, snoozy Tuesday...)

In honor of the way I breeze through Am.Idol by fast-forwarding on my DVR, here are my very brief comments on Tuesday's Top 12 performances, followed by the even more briefly visited Results Show. It was Rolling Stones Week, which isn't so bad. There have been worse theme weeks, for sure. Here's how it went down.

1) Big Mike - I won't listen to him if his clip package talks about his baby, so I didn't have to hear him again this week. I'm less interested in hearing about his baby than I was hearing about Gokey's dead wife last year. And that's really saying something.

2) Didi Benami - Sounded good on "playing with fire." Looked like the bigness of the stage scared some of the lyrics right the hell out of her. She purdy though.

3) Casey James - Can somebody be interesting and totally boring at the same time? I believe Casey James can. This song is exhibit A. And look! He's like a foot taller than Seacrest! Heehee.

4) Lacey Brown - string quartet on Ruby Tuesday. It was interesting. I'd want her eliminated if not for all the other people I want eliminated MORE.

5) Andrew Garcia - You gotta sing a song in tune one of these days, dude. For real.

6) Katie Stevens - Her hair looked great being lit by the specials. I still wish wild horses would drag her away.

7) Tim Urban - His hair is better than ever. I kinda skipped over his song after the first couple notes. The judges all thought his reggae version of "Under My Thumb" was bizarro.

8) Siobhan Magnus - I love that Ally Sheedy's Breakfast Club character, Allison Reynolds, made it to the finals on American idol Season 9! I hope she screams a glory note every week.

9)Lee Dewyze - Another one who goes off-pitch way too often.

10) Aaron Kelly - All I think when his face hits the screen is "too young for me to care." It's the Justin Bieber effect. He's irrelevant to me. so I skipped over him. But I was told he actually sounded good this week, so I'll listen to him next time. Maybe.

11) Paige Miles - is a honky-tonk woman. Hit some power notes channeling, Ms. Kelly Clarkson. Also has laryngitis during week one of the finals just like Ms. Clarkson did way back when. Are these good omens for her? We'll see. I like her.

12) Crystal Bowersox - You can't always get what you want. Say, for instance, a top 12 filled with people I don't want to have boxed cylon-style. But if Bowersox wins the season, maybe I'll get what I need. Her vocal, while not pitchy, wasn't as massively impressive as last week, but her rapport with the judges and her overwhelming authenticity more than make up for it.

So my guess at bottom 3 is: Andrew, Lacey and... Tim? Katie Stevens is actually the one I liked least this week, but there are so many useless contestants how can you really figure which one should fall first? Half of them really need to be eliminated faster than the performance schedule allows. But at least this week there were six of them who were arguably okay.

Results Show: I started watching around 9:51 after Ke$ha was done with her performance. Actual bottom three were Tim (ok.) Lacey (figures.) and Paige (WHAAAAT??). 2 out of 3 ain't bad, but Paige being in the bottom is a bit of a head-scratcher. It comes down to Lacey and Paige which is even more shocking and then I realize there is still the Judge's Save maintained from last year, but we know the judge's will never give it to either of these two. They will probably use it for whoever gets eliminated during Idol Gives Back. That would seem thematically appropriate.

Lacey is the one with the fewest votes. She sings for her life, but the judges look like they are discussing theories about Lost or (more likely) this week's developments of Gossip Girl and when she's done they don't save her. She's very gracious about it, being all, "of COURSE you're not gonna save me! It's cool." Lacey, I was not your biggest fan, but I don't think you were the worst this week. As a tribute here are some bastardized lyrics to the song you sang this week.

There's no time to lose, I heard her say
Catch your dreams before they slip away
Dying all the time
Lose your dreams
And Seacrest's lost his mind.
Ain't life unkind?

Goodbye, Ruby Lacey
Who could hang the blame on you?
Contestants change every Wednesday
Still I'll sorta miss you...

Gypsies, Champs and Sleaze

This has been a busy news week for Rafael Nadal. His website is back up and running after it went offline back in January for a massive site overhaul. The new look is much cooler than the old one. Well worth the wait!

Additionally, he has returned to play on the tour following a knee injury at the Aussie Open and is currently into the 4th round at Indian Wells! Vamos Rafa! Beyond that, he witnessed some controversy earlier this week at the Hit For Haiti Charity event when his partner Andre Agassi got into an uncomfortable exchange with former rival Pete Sampras. That nasty exchange just highlighted how gentlemanly Rafa and Fed treat each other despite their desire to win.

On top of all that, Rafa made his music video premiere in Shakira's latest music video, this one for her song "Gypsy." This last item I find the most awesomely bizarre, and I would like to take a minute to explore the bizarreness with the help of some interesting screenshots. I want to pay the video some attention since it will likely be overshadowed this week by Lady Gaga's video masterpiece "Telephone."

For you see, ladies and gentlemen, while I love Rafa more than anything, and while Shakira never fails to be anything other than the hottest female on the planet, I could not for the life of me figure out what these two would be doing together in a music video (besides inevitably making out). When I heard a few weeks back it was happening, i thought, "well... at least Rafa got to have some fun while he couldn't compete this Winter..." I mean they're both good looking and seemingly sweet people. Honestly, what could wrong with pairing them in a muisc video?


Look. it's not like the video is awful. It just doesn't make any sense. Let's travel through it together, shall we?

It starts out with Shakira in a black/sheer dress walking away from a dusty grey horizon playing a... harmonica? Singing a country song? About gypsies?? WHHAAAATT???

But then we move on. And we come across Rafa dipping his head into a barrel of water like he's Stef in the Goonies. Martha Plimpton, eat your heart out!

So now here we have Rafa and Shakira lying down on the ground holding hands like they are 7th graders trapped in super-hot bodies. But where are they? The ground is all ash. Some online publication said the video was taking place inside a volcano, but that doesn't make any sense. Where is all the lava? And also, why would they be inside a volcano?? As you can kind of tell from the picture, the ground is rocky and uneven. It looks very uncomfortable.

Here's a candid shot of Rafa and Shakira busting out laughing, and you gotta believe that right at this moment they both think what they're doing is absurd - what, with the lying on the ground in this maybe-volcano waiting for the moment when they can finally start making out. I would laugh too. How surreal would it be to be on the verge of making out with Shakira or Rafa with all those camera people staring down at you?

Before we get to the half naked kissing, we move on to the half-naked dancing. As we go to a wider shot, it looks like we are in the desert more than a volcano. Wherever we are, there's a chair for Rafa (who's lost his shirt at this point) and he slumps down as Shakira does a traditional gypsy dance in the traditional gypsy garb of a gold-sequined see-through dress. Remember, country music is playing this whole time.

Shakira's got an amazing ass. There is no debate on this. But is it a gypsy's ass? I don't know...

Shakira spins toward Rafa! It is almost time for the simulated Doing It! Shakira's gyspy spell has been cast and Rafa is powerless to resist! Those things in the background look like tree limbs. Trees don't grow inside Volcanoes! (do they?)

Okay, this is where things start to smolder, volcano or not. But how can I focus on the Doing It when I'm distracted by the terrain again? Look at how Shakira is positioned. The ground is so uneven. She must've been so pissed that her love scene with Rafa didn't take place on a comfy bed. 'Cause you now they had to lie there for a while and Rafa or no Rafa, sharp rocks stabbing you in your back is not fun time.

And now they get kissy-faced. Shakira goes in for the tongue! Shame, shame. Know your name! (thus I make my second Goonies reference in this post! Oh, Goonies...)

After they kiss, the video kinda fades out. So nothing is really explained about the weirdness that just happened. In a "making of" video, Shakira has said that she wanted Rafa in the video because she felt a certain kinship with him. Like her, he's achieved great success in his field at an early age. Like her, he spends a lot of his year traveling the globe as part of his career. Also like her? He's very good-looking. So they make the perfect on-screen pair. I would've liked to see them together in a more conventional setting, but maybe-volcano sexy times will have to do. It looked like they had fun together, at least. In the end isn't that the point of life? As the lyrics from "Gypsy" teach us:

Come along for the ride, Oh yeah
Come along for the ride, whoo-hoo

'Cause I'm a gypsy
Are you coming with me?
I might steal your clothes
And wear them if they fit me
I never made agreements
Just like a gypsy
And I won't back down
'Cause life's already bit me
And I won't cry
I'm too young to die
If you're gonna quit me
'Cause I'm a gypsy

Thursday, March 11, 2010

March Madness Predictions!

(click to enlarge and see all my wonderful picks! 100% accuracy!!)

Since my Amazing Race bracket was officially shot to hell last night, and my Oscar night predictions were WAY off, I've decided to try my luck at a much more predictable competition - the 2010 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship Bracket! I don't know how to create a bracket inside the blog, but I copied my bracket from the New York Times website. Click on it to embiggen. I expect top seeds Kentucky to come out of the East, Top seed Kansas to come out of the MidWest, 2nd seed Villanova to make it through the South and 2nd seed Kansas State to make it through the West. The Championship Game will be between Kansas and Kentucky with Kansas winning the tournament. As the rounds progress in the coming weeks, I'll give updates on how my bracket is doing. What do you think of my picks? Let me know how I'm doing!

Books of Note: Never Tell Our Business To Strangers

I wanted to give a shout out to the recently released book "Never Tell Our Business To Strangers: A Memoir." by Jennifer Mascia. Jennifer is a friend of a friend which is how I first found out about the book. It tells the story of Jennifer's family and about the secret past her parents tried to conceal from her while growing up. As she continues to uncover the truth, she is rocked by several revelations that make her reconsider who her parents were and what it means for her one sense of identity. I finished the book a few days ago, and it's really an excellent read. I don't want to give away what the family secrets are here, even though the book is upfront about some of them right from the get go. I just think it's more interesting to uncover them in the book. Jennifer's writing style is accessible and engaging and the story, while pretty wild, is also often times heartbreakingly relatable (note: my spellcheck tells me "heartbreakingly" and "relatable" are not real words, but hopefully you still get what I'm saying).

You can purchase the book at local retailers or through the amazon link in the photo, or through your kindle device. It's worth it. Congrats to Jennifer on her honest and unflinching account of her family history and her life growing up. Her story is inspiring and I'm so happy for her success.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

What's Waiting Upstairs? Is It CANCER?

While we were watching the Oscars on Sunday night, there was one commercial that caught my attention over the others. I'm not sure how BFF and I caught it as we were muting or pausing and fast forwarding in between the awards, but still it caught my eye.

It's starts off with this model lounging around in a mansion reading a book, as models often do. Then these sparkly fairly lights start swirling around her, leading her up a gigantor staircase to the second floor. She enters a room where there are even more sparkly lights and then spins around. She looks so happy! Then she sees a floating perfume bottle with something written on it. The word sorta looks like "cancer." Does that bottle say cancer?, I ask BFF. In fact it does.

(The model represents us all with her WTF expression.)

The model is confused. We are confused. Who would've expected a shiny bottle of Cervical Cancer to appear in the air? How is she supposed to react? How are WE supposed to react? Saving us from this awkward moment is a voiceover chimes in apologizing for the misdirection, but assures us that Cervical Cancer is serious enough that it needs our attention. Then it tells us where to go for more info: http://www.helppreventcervicalcancer.com/

(HPV never smelled so good!)

This initially struck me as incredibly silly, but ultimately, I like this commercial. I mean, it's bizarre but it got me to pay attention, which is the whole point, so mission accomplished. I just can't get over a bottle of cancer. See for yourself.

Monday, March 8, 2010

2010 Oscars: What We Learned

(Together! We're gonna find our way!)

Here are thoughts and highlights (perhaps lowlights?) from this year's Academy Awards ceremony. Despite a pretty straightforward ceremony with no big upsets, I still only managed to correctly call 14 of 24 categories. That's my worst percentage ever! So the most important thing I've learned is that seeing all of the nominated movies only makes it harder for me to correctly call the races. Most of my mistakes came from underestimating Hurt Locker, which took 4 awards I didn't think it was getting. I also missed Best Foreign Language Film and a couple of the crap shoot awards for Shorts. Really, I'm very unimpressed with myself this morning.

But let's rewind to the ceremony! What else did we learn?

We learned it can downpour on two big awards shows' red carpets in LA in the same calendar year! That's why they call it "climate change" and not just "global warming" anymore, non-believers. The weather patterns are all out of control! Anyway the rain was just messing with people's heads, literally and figuratively, as the sun came out for most of the entrances but the moisture in the air was enough to make lots of 'dos go all frizzy.

We learned Zoe Saldana would look beautiful in anything, but we didn't need to test that assumption with a truly bizarre Oscar dress that had all these different layers and colors at the bottom... it was so weird.

(Why, Uhura? WHY??)We learned NPH is now officially the Song and Dance Man of The Awards Show Circuit, highlighting a fun and slightly naughty old-school Hollywood opening number to the ceremony. NPH can do no wrong when belting out a tune.

We learned that Baldwin and Martin know how to tell jokes that make people laugh. Their delightful opening rapport went a long way towards forgiving the show its seemingly endless runtime. They sure put me in a good mood.

We learned that they've extended the acting clips by 200% which seems unnecessary since we learned months ago there was no way Christoph Waltz would lose in the Supporting Actor category. I love that movie. His performance seems better every time I watch it.

We learned there is an animated feature called Secret of Kells that no one has seen but is apparently better than Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs. I have yet to learn if Secret of Kells is available on Netflix.

We learned it takes 15 notes of the main theme from Up before Owen bursts into tears, meaning he cried at least twice during the ceremony when Up won Best Animated Feature and Best Score.

We learned that despite her success, Miley Cyrus has obvious self confidence issues and doesn't know how to stand up straight. She slouched through the red carpet and presenting an award. Stand up straight, girl!

We learned the world needs more banter between the likes of Robert Downey JR and Tina Fey.

We learned my Oscar Predictions were gonna be shot to hell as soon as Hurt Locker took Best Original Screenplay away from Inglourious Basterds. We also learned, through background footage, that winning screenwriter, Mark Boal, didn't have that nice haircut he had while accepting his award while he was making the movie. It was crazy back then!

We learned we're not quite over the loss of John Hughes, nor are we over the emotional impact his movies had on us while growing up. I was not sure if Molly Ringwald's hair was real but BFF assured me she thought it was.

We learned that the Na'vi could've been created without CGI after all when Ben Stiller came out in full blue makeup and yellow eyes. Star Trek won that category, btw, and the win made me really really happy. I love that it was recognized in at least one of the technical categories by the Academy.

We learned Owen likes Rachel McAdams better with darker hair. But still, come on, she is stunning.

We learned 101 other film organizations can't be wrong when Mo'Nique wins an Oscar for Precious. She really deserved it, and I'm pretty sure NO ONE else won any supporting actress award over her for the entire season. Really impressive.

We learned that as we get older, we appreciate the craft involved in the technical categories more and more... but the speeches still kinda... go on for a long time.

We learned the images that made Paranormal Activity so creepy can be parodied in a way that makes the images very funny. Good work, Baldwin and Martin!

(Team Uncomfortable)

We learned Kristen Stewart truly is Bella with the awkwardness and her platonic boyfriend Lautner still has not an ounce of fat on him. He looks mad skinny in a tux.

We learned that Horror Movies finally got their due as legitimate film experience! Always good to see clips from horror staples like Rosemary's Baby, the Exorcist, A Nightmare On Elm Street and... Edward Scissorhands??

We learned that the Geek Squad Oscars always get a hottie starlet as a host. This year it was Elizabeth Banks! Even if they don't walk out of that place with a trophy, all those guys still feel like a winner for one night of the year.

We learned that even though it seemed some Hollywood heavy weight was dropping dead every other day in 2009, the producers decided this was the year they wouldn't try to show everyone famous who had died. They had James Taylor come out to play "In My Life" which at the time I thought was weird because it seems like that song isn't very long. Turns out it isn't. And some dead folks got thee shaft.

We learned that dance numbers at the Oscars will always be polarizing. I loved it, but mostly because it was the League of Extraordinary Dancers and SYTYCD Alums. BFF tried to ask me what the hell the dances themselves had to do with the score of the Hurt Locker or Sherlock Holmes and all I could do was scream "they're interpreting it!!" as i fretted that she's tried to snark through the whole routine and destroy my focus. I really dug it overall, I think BFF was won over by the end.

(So You Think You Can Make This Show A Half Hour Longer Than Anticipated?)

We learned we'd forgotten who Fisher Stevens even if others had not. Now the star of Short Circuit AND Short Circuit has an Oscar! Seriously, anything is possible in show business.

We learned that Kathy Bates was this year's Jack Nicholson, as once the camera found where she was sitting, it kept going back to her for reaction shots throughout the night. Why? I'm not sure. But I believe she just signed on to a David E. Kelley pilot for ABC. That might have something to do with it.

We learned that they kept the "five stars pay tribute to the five nominees" from last year. I was torn because I actually love this addition, but the show has to already be over by 20 minutes and this isn't making anything go faster. But DAMN, there is Michelle Pfeiffer looking hotter than ever, and Julianne Moore just lighting up the stage. She only worked with Colin Firth for 3 days? No one knows Firth better than 3-day-friend Julianne Moore? We also learn that Colin Farrell and Jeremey Renner once spooned in a double bed all night following a wild time in Mexico. Certainly not TMI. Everyone else talks and talks until finally Kate Winslet marches out on stage, puts an end to it, and announces Jeff Bridges had won, to the delight of everyone.

We learned that after 4 plus hours of sassy vogueing to the camera, Gabby Sidibe was emotionally taken down by Oprah's nominee tribute. It seems logical that Oprah will take over hosting the Barbara Walters Oscar Special, now that Walters retired from it, no?

We learned what we already knew remains true - Helen Mirren is so sexy. I can't get over how awesome she looks. I totally lust after Helen Mirren. We also learned that Meryl Streep is the best, has lost more times than anyone, is wearing Project Runway alum Chris March. She's the best.

We learned we really really do love Sandra Bullock and I'm happy the star of Love Potion No. 9 has an Oscar and a Razzie. She's the only person (so far) to win both in one weekend. She accepted both with humility and gratitude. She rules!

(You can tell from this picture there was a moment Babs considered killing her and taking the award.)

We learned that the Academy REALLY had some balls having Barbara Streisand come out to present the Oscar for Best Direction. It was nice that she, who had once been snubbed as a Director for Prince of Tides, got to announce the first female winner for Best Director. But what if Bigelow LOST? I fully expect she would've gone Carrie on their asses. Things could've gone bad, is all I'm saying. I'm glad they didn't.

We learned that Kathryn Bigelow, one-time director of Point Break, now has an Oscar. Seriously, anything is possible in show business. She beat James Cameron, former husband and King Of The World. She looked so thrilled and thankful. I thought her win was great.

We learned that after ten best picture previews they were not gonna waist time even recapping who the nominees were before they announced that The Hurt Locker WON for Best Picture. Fewer tickets have been sold to The Hurt Locker than any other Best Picture winner in Oscar's 80+ years. It's crazy that the least seen winner bested the highest grossing movie ever in the top category. Evangeline Lilly is in an Oscar-Winning movie. Seriously, anything is possible in show business.

(The gang's all here... 'cause it's a really small movie!)

Overall I thought it was a funny show, not to controversial, VERY VERY long, but with good winners. See you all again for it next year!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Predicting the 2010 Oscars!

(there are plenty of awards ready to be put where the winners' hearts ought to be)

The Oscars are tonight! Here are my predictions for who will win, along with what I would personally vote for given the opportunity. In some of the more technical and obscure categories, I only offered a random bet to win since I don't have anything on which to base my vote. Let's see how well I do by the end of the night. Make your picks now, too!

I always look forward to Oscar Night. It's a fun viewing tradition and Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin should make for amusing hosts. My condolences to Cablevision customers who might miss the ceremony over a money squabble the company is having with ABC. I think that's bullshit, Cablevision. Don't make people miss the Oscars over some lame contract negotiations!

And the nominees are....

Best Picture:
*“Avatar” (20th Century Fox) A Lightstorm Entertainment Production James Cameron and Jon Landau, Producers
*“The Blind Side” (Warner Bros.) An Alcon Entertainment Production Nominees to be determined
*“District 9″ (Sony Pictures Releasing) A Block/Hanson Production Peter Jackson and Carolynne Cunningham, Producers
*“An Education” (Sony Pictures Classics) A Finola Dwyer/Wildgaze Films Production Finola Dwyer and Amanda Posey, Producers
*“The Hurt Locker” (Summit Entertainment) A Voltage Pictures Production Nominees to be determined
*“Inglourious Basterds” (The Weinstein Company) A Weinstein Company/Universal Pictures/A Band Apart/Zehnte Babelsberg Production Lawrence Bender, Producer
*“Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire” (Lionsgate) A Lee Daniels Entertainment/Smokewood Entertainment Production Lee Daniels, Sarah Siegel-Magness and Gary Magness, Producers
*“A Serious Man” (Focus Features) A Working Title Films Production Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, Producers
*“Up” (Walt Disney)A Pixar Production Jonas Rivera, Producer
*“Up in the Air” (Paramount in association with Cold Spring Pictures and DW Studios) A Montecito Picture Company Production Daniel Dubiecki, Ivan Reitman and Jason Reitman, Producers

My Bet To Win: Avatar

My Personal Vote: Inglorious Basterds

Best Director:
*“Avatar” (20th Century Fox) James Cameron
*“The Hurt Locker” (Summit Entertainment) Kathryn Bigelow
*“Inglourious Basterds” (The Weinstein Company) Quentin Tarantino
*“Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire” (Lionsgate) Lee Daniels
*“Up in the Air” (Paramount in association with Cold Spring Pictures and DW Studios) Jason Reitman

My Bet To Win: Kathryn Bigelow

My Personal Vote: Quentin Tarantino

Best Actor:
* Jeff Bridges in “Crazy Heart” (Fox Searchlight)
* George Clooney in “Up in the Air” (Paramount in association with Cold Spring Pictures and DW Studios)
* Colin Firth in “A Single Man” (The Weinstein Company)
* Morgan Freeman in “Invictus” (Warner Bros.)
* Jeremy Renner in “The Hurt Locker” (Summit Entertainment)

My Bet to win: Jeff Bridges

My Personal Vote: Colin Firth

Best Actress:
* Sandra Bullock in “The Blind Side” (Warner Bros.)
* Helen Mirren in “The Last Station” (Sony Pictures Classics)
* Carey Mulligan in “An Education” (Sony Pictures Classics)
* Gabourey Sidibe in “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire” (Lionsgate)
* Meryl Streep in “Julie & Julia” (Sony Pictures Releasing)

My Bet to Win: Sandra Bullock

My Personal Vote: Meryl Streep

Best Supporting Actor:

* Matt Damon in “Invictus” (Warner Bros.)
* Woody Harrelson in “The Messenger” (Oscilloscope Laboratories)
* Christopher Plummer in “The Last Station” (Sony Pictures Classics)
* Stanley Tucci in “The Lovely Bones” (DreamWorks in association with Film4, Distributed by Paramount)
* Christoph Waltz in “Inglourious Basterds” (The Weinstein Company)

My Bet to Win & Personal Vote: Christoph Waltz

Best Supporting Actress:
* Penélope Cruz in “Nine” (The Weinstein Company)
* Vera Farmiga in “Up in the Air” (Paramount in association with Cold Spring Pictures and DW Studios)
* Maggie Gyllenhaal in “Crazy Heart” (Fox Searchlight)
* Anna Kendrick in “Up in the Air” (Paramount in association with Cold Spring Pictures and DW Studios)
* Mo’Nique in “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire” (Lionsgate)

My Bet To Win & My Personal Vote: Mo'Nique

Best Original Screenplay:
*“The Hurt Locker” (Summit Entertainment) Written by Mark Boal
*“Inglourious Basterds” (The Weinstein Company) Written by Quentin Tarantino
*“The Messenger” (Oscilloscope Laboratories) Written by Alessandro Camon & Oren Moverman
*“A Serious Man” (Focus Features) Written by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
*“Up” (Walt Disney) Screenplay by Bob Peterson, Pete Docter
Story by Pete Docter, Bob Peterson, Tom McCarthy

My Bet to Win and Personal Vote: Inglorious Basterds

Best Adapted Screenplay:
*“District 9″ (Sony Pictures Releasing) Written by Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell
*“An Education” (Sony Pictures Classics) Screenplay by Nick Hornby
*“In the Loop” (IFC Films) Screenplay by Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, Tony Roche
*“Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire” (Lionsgate) Screenplay by Geoffrey Fletcher
*“Up in the Air” (Paramount in association with Cold Spring Pictures and DW Studios) Screenplay by Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner

My Bet to Win: Up In the Air

My Personal Vote: District 9

Best Animated Film:
*“Coraline” (Focus Features) Henry Selick
*“Fantastic Mr. Fox” (20th Century Fox) Wes Anderson
*“The Princess and the Frog” (Walt Disney) John Musker and Ron Clements
*“The Secret of Kells” (GKIDS) Tomm Moore
*“Up” (Walt Disney) Pete Docter

My Bet to Win & My Personal Vote: Up

Best Art Direction:

*“Avatar” (20th Century Fox) Art Direction: Rick Carter and Robert Stromberg
Set Decoration: Kim Sinclair
*“The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” (Sony Pictures Classics) Art Direction: Dave Warren and Anastasia Masaro
Set Decoration: Caroline Smith
*“Nine” (The Weinstein Company) Art Direction: John Myhre
Set Decoration: Gordon Sim
*“Sherlock Holmes” (Warner Bros.) Art Direction: Sarah Greenwood
Set Decoration: Katie Spencer
*“The Young Victoria” (Apparition) Art Direction: Patrice Vermette
Set Decoration: Maggie Gray

My Bet to Win: Avatar

Best Cinematography:
*“Avatar” (20th Century Fox) Mauro Fiore
*“Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” (Warner Bros.) Bruno Delbonnel
*“The Hurt Locker” (Summit Entertainment) Barry Ackroyd
*“Inglourious Basterds” (The Weinstein Company) Robert Richardson
*“The White Ribbon” (Sony Pictures Classics) Christian Berger

My Bet to Win: Hurt Locker

My Personal Vote: Inglorious Basterds

Best Costume Design:
*“Bright Star” (Apparition) Janet Patterson
*“Coco before Chanel” (Sony Pictures Classics) Catherine Leterrier
*“The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” (Sony Pictures Classics) Monique Prudhomme
*“Nine” (The Weinstein Company) Colleen Atwood
*“The Young Victoria” (Apparition) Sandy Powell

My Bet to Win: The Young Victoria

Best Documentary:
*“Burma VJ” (Oscilloscope Laboratories)
A Magic Hour Films Production Anders Østergaard and Lise Lense-Møller
*“The Cove” (Roadside Attractions)
An Oceanic Preservation Society Production Nominees to be determined
*“Food, Inc.” (Magnolia Pictures) A Robert Kenner Films Production Robert Kenner and Elise Pearlstein
*“The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers”
A Kovno Communications Production Judith Ehrlich and Rick Goldsmith
*“Which Way Home” A Mr. Mudd Production Rebecca Cammisa

My Random Bet to Win: The Cove

Best Documentary Short:
*“China’s Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province”
A Downtown Community Television Center Production Jon Alpert and Matthew O’Neill
*“The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner”
A Just Media Production Daniel Junge and Henry Ansbacher
*“The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant” A Community Media Production Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert
*“Music by Prudence” An iThemba Production Roger Ross Williams and Elinor Burkett
*“Rabbit à la Berlin” (Deckert Distribution) An MS Films Production Bartek Konopka and Anna Wydra

My Random Bet To Win: Music By Prudence

Best Film Editing:
*“Avatar” (20th Century Fox) Stephen Rivkin, John Refoua and James Cameron
*“District 9″ (Sony Pictures Releasing) Julian Clarke
*“The Hurt Locker” (Summit Entertainment) Bob Murawski and Chris Innis
*“Inglourious Basterds” (The Weinstein Company) Sally Menke
*“Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire” (Lionsgate) Joe Klotz

My Bet to Win: Hurt Locker

My Personal Vote: Inglorious Basterds

Best Foreign Language Film:
*“Ajami”(Kino International) An Inosan Production Israel
*“El Secreto de Sus Ojos” (Sony Pictures Classics) A Haddock Films Production Argentina
*“The Milk of Sorrow” A Wanda Visión/Oberon Cinematogràfica/Vela Production Peru
*“Un Prophète” (Sony Pictures Classics) A Why Not/Page 114/Chic Films Production France
*“The White Ribbon” (Sony Pictures Classics) An X Filme Creative Pool/Wega Film/Les Films du Losange/Lucky Red Production Germany

My Bet to Win & Personal Vote: The White Ribbon

Best Makeup:
*“Il Divo” (MPI Media Group through Music Box) Aldo Signoretti and Vittorio Sodano
*“Star Trek” (Paramount and Spyglass Entertainment) Barney Burman, Mindy Hall and Joel Harlow
*“The Young Victoria” (Apparition) Jon Henry Gordon and Jenny Shircore

My Bet To Win & Personal Vote: Star Trek (I love you, Star Trek!)

Best Original score:

*“Avatar” (20th Century Fox) James Horner
*“Fantastic Mr. Fox” (20th Century Fox) Alexandre Desplat
*“The Hurt Locker” (Summit Entertainment) Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders
*“Sherlock Holmes” (Warner Bros.) Hans Zimmer
*“Up” (Walt Disney) Michael Giacchino

My Bet to Win & Personal Vote: Up

Best Original song:
*“Almost There” from “The Princess and the Frog” (Walt Disney) Music and Lyric by Randy Newman
*“Down in New Orleans” from “The Princess and the Frog” (Walt Disney) Music and Lyric by Randy Newman
*“Loin de Paname” from “Paris 36″ (Sony Pictures Classics) Music by Reinhardt Wagner. Lyric by Frank Thomas
*“Take It All” from “Nine” (The Weinstein Company) Music and Lyric by Maury Yeston
*“The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart)” from “Crazy Heart” (Fox Searchlight) Music and Lyric by Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett

My Bet to Win: Crazy Heart

Best Animated Short:

*“French Roast”A Pumpkin Factory/Bibo Films Production Fabrice O. Joubert
*“Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty” (Brown Bag Films) A Brown Bag Films Production Nicky Phelan and Darragh O’Connell
*“The Lady and the Reaper (La Dama y la Muerte)” A Kandor Graphics and Green Moon Production Javier Recio Gracia
*“Logorama” (Autour de Minuit) An Autour de Minuit Production Nicolas Schmerkin
*“A Matter of Loaf and Death” (Aardman Animations) An Aardman Animations Production Nick Park

My Random Bet to Win: A Matter of Loaf and Death

Best Live Action Short:
*“The Door” (Network Ireland Television) An Octagon Films Production Juanita Wilson and James Flynn
*“Instead of Abracadabra” (The Swedish Film Institute) A Directörn & Fabrikörn Production Patrik Eklund and Mathias Fjellström
*“Kavi” A Gregg Helvey Production Gregg Helvey
* “Miracle Fish” (Premium Films) A Druid Films Production Luke Doolan and Drew Bailey
*“The New Tenants” A Park Pictures and M & M Production Joachim Back and Tivi Magnusson

My Random Bet To Win: Kavi

Best Sound Editing:
*“Avatar” (20th Century Fox) Christopher Boyes and Gwendolyn Yates Whittle
*“The Hurt Locker” (Summit Entertainment) Paul N.J. Ottosson
*“Inglourious Basterds” (The Weinstein Company) Wylie Stateman
*“Star Trek” (Paramount and Spyglass Entertainment) Mark Stoeckinger and Alan Rankin
*“Up” (Walt Disney) Michael Silvers and Tom Myers

My Bet to Win: Avatar

My Personal Vote: Star Trek (I love you, Star Trek!)

Best Sound Mixing:
*“Avatar” (20th Century Fox) Christopher Boyes, Gary Summers, Andy Nelson and Tony Johnson
*“The Hurt Locker” (Summit Entertainment) Paul N.J. Ottosson and Ray Beckett
*“Inglourious Basterds” (The Weinstein Company) Michael Minkler, Tony Lamberti and Mark Ulano
*“Star Trek” (Paramount and Spyglass Entertainment) Anna Behlmer, Andy Nelson and Peter J. Devlin
*“Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” (DreamWorks and Paramount in association with Hasbro, Distributed by Paramount) Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers and Geoffrey Patterson

My Bet to Win: Avatar

My Personal Vote: Star Trek (I love you, Star Trek!)

Best Visual Effects:
*“Avatar” (20th Century Fox) Joe Letteri, Stephen Rosenbaum, Richard Baneham and Andrew R. Jones
*“District 9″ (Sony Pictures Releasing) Dan Kaufman, Peter Muyzers, Robert Habros and Matt Aitken
*“Star Trek” (Paramount and Spyglass Entertainment) Roger Guyett, Russell Earl, Paul Kavanagh and Burt Dalton

My Bet to Win: Avatar

My Personal Vote: District 9 (I still love you, Star Trek!)

Monday, March 1, 2010

'Couver Town Recaps: Recapping the Recaps

As the 21st Winter Olympics closes (with every Canadian singer known to mankind taking to the stage to entertain the Olympians), I will make a list of 20 moments I really enjoyed this Olympics and one thing I thought was not so great.

Let's start with the 20 Great Moments.

1. Shaun White landing his most difficult move, The Double McTwist 1260, on his second run at the half-pipe, even though his first run was good enough to give him the gold.

2. Evan Lysacek beating Yevgeny Plushenko for the gold in men's figure skating. Plushenko didn't like it, but I sure did.

3. Ohno fighting from behind to secure his record-breaking 7th and 8th Olympic medals.

4. Alexandre Bilodeau winning Canada its first gold and getting that money off its back for the next two weeks of competition.

5. Pairs ice dancers, Virtue and Moir, amazing the crowd in a fantastic routine, winning the first gold ever in the event for a North American team.

6. Pairs figure skaters Shen and Zhao winning gold after skating together for almost their entire lives.

7. All the top women kicking ass in the women's figure skating competition. Especially Kim Yu-Na winning gold, Mao Asada silver and Joannie Rochette bronze.

8. Mary Carillo's late night Olympic coverage, plus all her special reporting. I particularly liked her piece on dog-sledding that focused on the blind doggie. I'm serious.

9. When the South Korean's wiped out in the short track final and Ohno got his sixth Olympic Medal and Ceski got bronze.

10. Spillane's three silver medals in the Nordic Combined Events.

11. The Never-Ending Curling!

12. Bode Miller redeeming himself from Torino taking home bronze, silver and finally at long last GOLD.

13. Tom Brokaw's riveting piece on the Canadian town of Gander that was instrumental in its aid to the United States by landing planes carrying thousands of passengers on 9/11 and taking care of them all in the week that followed. Truly amazing.

14. Frenemies Lindsey Vonn and Julia Mancuso both claiming multiple medals for the US in the ski events.

15. Shani Davis repeating his gold medal win in speed skating.

16. Seth Wescott repeating his gold medal win in snowboard cross in a nail-biting, come-from-behind victory.

17. The reporting done on the condition of injured US snowboarder Kevin Pearce. I wish him a full recovery.

18. US Bobsled winning the gold in the 4-man event for the first time in 62 years.

19. Hannah Kearney winning the women's mogul event for the US in such an exciting run. Go Team USA!

20. The thrilling Men's Hockey Final that went to Canada over the US in overtime. An instant classic Olympic moment, and the Canadian's get the one medal that mattered to them most. Sweet.

And the one thing I didn't like?

The Olympic Torch! Art is subjective, but i think that torch structure was a total eye sore. It never looked like anything other than a bunch of lit up doobie's leaning against each other to me. I like traditional looking Olympic Flames. This one never worked for me at all. I didn't see any majesty.

So that's it for me on the Olympics! I hope you enjoyed reading my take on things. See you back here for London in 2012!