Thursday, December 20, 2007

Out of Town Notice!

Just a quick note to those interested in this blog:

I'm going to be on holiday in Asia from December 21 - January 6, which means I probably won't be blogging. However, I'll have loads of amazing things to discuss when I return, so keep an eye out!

Happy Holidays everyone!

Papelbon's Dog Eats WS Ball

This story is absolutely ridiculous, but I love it.

Apparently, Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek gave closer Jonathan Papelbon the ball he threw the final out of the 2007 World Series with. Paps took it home with him and left it on the counter.

And then Papelbon's dog, "Boss," ATE THE DAMN THING.

Yes, I'm serious. A dog ate a piece of history. *shakes head* It boggles the mind.

To distract from this story, I present the following, which is sure to bring holiday cheer.

If this doesn't make you smile, I want nothing to do with you.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


= The return of LOST.

Season 4.

After a mostly lackluster Season 3 (it seriously almost lost me, and I'm not one to drop a show I've been following since Day 1 lightly), the show was absolutely lights-out fanastic in the last few episodes. I managed to put the cliffhangers and unanswered questions out of my mind for the last few months (because otherwise you just drive yourelf crazy).

But then they go and release the official two-minute trailer for Season 4.

And now I'm just DONE. I can feel my inner TV geek getting excited. My anticipation for the premiere is only going to grow and, by this time next month may threaten to all-out consume me. I'm almost afraid to find out how many episodes they managed to shoot before the strike hit. Because you just KNOW this season is going to rock your socks off and possibly (probably) halted production in the middle of something ridiculously awesome.

Not sure how much I gleaned from the trailer. Anyone else think the titles look weird? Has the reflection in the water never matched the island "skyline" above...or am I just crazy and/or blind? There are a couple of new faces (the "rescuers," a term I put in parenthesis purposefully) and the lack of Charlie just made me incredibly sad. Locke still hates Ben, he and Jack are probably still going to be at odds (one of my absolute favorite parts of the show) and Sawyer and Kate will continue to shoot each other smoldering glances of barely-restained sexual tension. Other than just sent me to the edge of my seat and made me go "WHAT?! There's NO MORE?!" to my empty living room.

The countdown begins, JJ. Don't you disappoint me again.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Dodgers Sign Kuroda

This weekend, the Dodgers won the (quiet) bidding war for Japanese right-handed pitcherHiroki Kuroda. Kuroda, 32, has a 3.69 lifetime ERA and 103-89 record and is coming off the most successful year of his career. He will get $35.3 million over the next three years to pitch in Dodger blue.

Experts call him a ground ball pitcher with exellent control and the ability to step up and take command late in a game (the 6th and 7th innings). He's probably going to slip into the Number 3 starter role, behind Derek Lowe and Brad Penny.

Los Angeles? Hmmm..I hear the weather is nice there.

I'm liking our winter signings thus far because we're actually doing what we said we set out to do. We needed a power bat, so we signed Andruw Jones to a two-year deal. I already commented on my slight misgivings about that deal, but I really think last year was an abberation and, now that he's healthy, Jones will step up and do what we need him to in 2008.

We needed another solid starting pitching arm and in comes Kuroda. I'm waiting for more word to start coming out on him, but I like what I'm hearing so far. Our rotation will consist of Lowe, penny, Kuroda, Billingsley and either Loaiza or Schmidt (the preferable option, in my opinion, if he's healthy). Not the most impressive in baseball, but definitely solid.

Those two acquisitions cost us a lot of money (if you're doing the math, which I am). However, we signed both of these guys without giving up a single young prospect. Martin, LaRoche, Kemp, Ethier, Billingsley and Broxton are all still in Dodger Blue and at least three of them figure to be significant contributors to the team in 2008. I call it a win-win.

I still think there's work to be done. I'd love to add a bat at third, but the market was thin to begin with and Lowell and Rodrigguez re-signing with their current teams and Cabrera going to the Tigers, I'm not sure who else is out there that's really worth having. We may end up having to count on Garciaparra to step back up to his 2006 Comeback Player of the Year form or on Andy LaRoche to mature enough to step up to the Big League level. This concerns me...

I simply cannot do it...a-looooooone!

I also would feel better having another solid lefty arm in the bullpen. Broxton shouldered most of that weight by himself last year and, toward the end of the season, he started to chow the strain. Injuries have decimated our bullpen in the last few years, and it got to the poitn where it was a total crapshoot what you'd get on any given night: a lights-out strikeout machine or a ragtag troupe who couldn't get an out to save their lives. It hurt my heart.

Still, heading into the holidays, I'm happier about the way we're shaping up than I have been in the past few years. Though I do tend to be an offseason optimist...

Reason #1024 Why America Needs to Read More

So, a friend of mine reviewed The Golden Compass last week, from the perspective of someone who’d never read the book and thus really had no idea what to expect.

I, on the other hand, love Philip Pullman’s trilogy (The Golden Compass, the Subtle Knife and the Amber Spyglass). The His Dark Materials trilogy commands a top-shelf display in my bookcase.

Run (don't walk) to for these. I beg you.

We both thought the movie sucked. He watched a bad movie. I watched a bad movie AND bemoaned how a great book was whitewashed, dumbed-down and made almost completely nonsensical by Chris Weitz and TPTB who decided that any religious overtones be removed.

Pullman tells a dark, complex story that offers a very clear, critical commentary on piety and the Church. Every person has a “daemon,” a talking animal spirit that can shape-change until their human companion reaches puberty, at which point they stick in one form. These “daemons” (convenient name, no?) are, in a sense, a person’s “soul” and are meant to suggest the potential for sin that exists in every human being. “Dust” is a mysterious, hard-to-see particle that sticks to adults (their daemons are conduits for it) but is absent in children. Not hard to connect the dots here: “dust” is essentially sin, the kind of sin that the free will humans develop as they mature exposes them to. In the story, the all-powerful Magesterium is bent on preventing children from ever being exposed to “dust” by severing their connection to their daemons – turning them into blank-faced, controllable pillars of goodness.

Are we all starting to see how removing all religious overtones and still trying to make a story that makes sense is an endeavor that fails before it even begins? The movie still has armored bears and daemons and dust and even a gun-toting hot air balloon pilot with a Southern drawl…but none of them have a real REASON to do what they’re doing. The Magsterium still wants to rid the world of dust and separate children from their daemons and Lyra is still trying to stop them – but the WHY is never really clear. The neutered story is a mess of characters ambling from Point A to Point B to Point C, but their reasoning for going on this madcap adventure is completely unclear and, thus, completely uninteresting. Nobody cares.

I’m sorry, but cool CGI, a polar bear fight between Ian McKellan and Ian McShane and (I can’t believe I’m saying this) even the presence of the riveting Daniel Craig couldn’t calm my indignation. This movie is NOT The Golden Compass. I refuse to accept it. The most egregious travesty? Deciding to end the movie as Iorek, Lyra, Roger and Lee Scoresby heading to see Lord Asriel. All four are happy and accomplished and the uplifting music swells in the background.

When this man can't save your movie, you know you're in trouble.

The book does not end this way. The end of The Golden Compass is jaw-dropping. An insane cliffhanger and definitely not uplifting in the slightest. But it’s beyond amazing. The ending was filmed; ultimately, the filmmakers supposedly decided to “save it for the beginning of the second film, where it would lend more emotional weight.” I believe this is code for “we realized halfway through making this movie that is sucked so badly there’s no way a sequel will ever get made, so best not end it on a cliffhanger.” A $25 million opening weekend appears to have made this a sound decision. Still, to me it was the movie’s last “screw you” to the Pullman fans who came to the movie with high hopes and left wishing they’d just stayed home and re-read the book instead.

I think everyone who paid to see this, whether they were familiar with the material or not, should be issued a refund and an apology. But the hurt is just a little greater to those like me who know what it COULD have been, if only…

Oh well. At least the movie gave us this:

Iorek Byrenson (Ian McKellan) to Lyra: You wish to…ride me?

Oh, I giggle at unintentional keep my tears at bay.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Golden Globe Picks - Television Edition

I divided the nomination list for the Golden Globes in half (TV and Movies). Below are my thoughts about who will/should win in each of the television categories. I use my own brand of reasoning ad do not claim for a second that anyone else will find it critically viable. I also don't care.

It should be noted that, because I'm me, I wrote analysis backward, from #25-#15.



a. BIG LOVE (HBO)Anima Sola and Playtone Productions in association with HBO Entertainment
b. DAMAGES (FX NETWORKS)FX Productions and Sony Pictures Television
d. HOUSE (FOX)Heel and Toe Films, Shore Z Productions and Bad Hat Harry Productions in association with Universal Media Studios
e. MAD MEN (AMC)Lionsgate Television
f. THE TUDORS (SHOWTIME)Showtime/Peace Arch Entertainment/Working Title/Reveille Productions Limited/An Ireland-Canada Co-Production

Mad Men is too small time. The Tudors, as a whole, really wasn’t THAT fantastic. Grey’s was beyond terrible last year. Big Love never really did anything for me. I think it will be a fight between Damages and House, and I’m not quite sure who will come out on top.



Good, but good enough?

This category is so incredibly loaded (and crowded to boot). It’s just chock-full of the hot new “strong women” characters that all those fancy entertainment magazines are so keen on writing about. Hunter and Driver are on two of my studio’s shows, so I would really, rally love to see one of them win. However, I think Hunter’s character is too polarizing to win and Driver’s just isn’t strong enough…I realize that (on the surface) doesn’t seem to make much sense. If Arquette wins, I will throw my remote at the television. I say the award goes to either Close or Field – both veterans of the “strong women” character mold and absolutely fantastic in their current roles.



My undying love for Hugh Laurie and the belief that everything he does is perfection prevents me from judging this category properly. I think the third season of House was incredibly strong, and no one else (not even Michael C. Hall, who is sublime as Dexter) can come close.


a. 30 ROCK (NBC)Universal Media Studios in association with Broadway Video and Little Stranger - Inc.
b. CALIFORNICATION (SHOWTIME)Showtime Presents in association with Aggressive Mediocrity, and Then…, Twilight Time Films
c. ENTOURAGE (HBO)Leverage and Closest to the Hole Productions in association with HBO Entertainment
d. EXTRAS (HBO)BBC and HBO Entertainment
e. PUSHING DAISIES (ABC)Living Dead Guy Productions, The Jinks/Cohen Company in association with Warner Bros. Television

We've already got an Emmy, bitches

Entourage didn’t have its best year. Californication isn’t a strong enough show to win. Pushing Daisies is the new critics’ darling, but 30 Rock is coming off that shocking Emmy win. I make it a toss-up between those two, but I give the edge to 30 Rock.



I love Applegate, but Samantha Who? got old after the second episode. She’s got pluck, but you can see her straining to milk laughs from a desperately unfunny show and it’s just not enjoyable to watch. America is still just as fabulous as always, but I’m always one of those “time for new blood” people. I put my hopes behind Fey.



How can you say no to that smile (and free pie)?

I feel like it will be hard for Baldwin NOT to win. Duchovny is good and people love him because he’s playing so against type, but I’m not overly impressed with the show or the character he plays. Still, I have a soft spot for Lee Pace. The tone of Pushing Daisies is a tricky one to balance: you have to play to its over-the-top sensibilities while not pushing it too far, yet you also have to find a way to ground such a fanciful show in real emotion. Pace is pitch-perfect walking that line.


a. BURY MY HEART AT WOUNDED KNEE (HBO)A Wolf Films/Traveler’s Rest Production in association with HBO Films
b. THE COMPANY (TNT)Sony Pictures Television
c. FIVE DAYS (HBO)HBO Films in association with BBC Films
d. LONGFORD (HBO)A Granada Production in association with Channel 4 and HBO Films

Okay, so I actually saw The Company. I was actually at the TCA for it. It was incredibly well done all around: actors, cinematography, direction, writing. All that = win.



Doesn’t the Masterpiece Theatre movie, that no one has ever really even heard of, let alone actually seen, usually run away with one of these? That’s where I’m placing my bet.



I’m sorry, if Earnest Borgnine wins for something called A Grandpa For Christmas, I don’t know that I’ll be able to take the HFPA seriously ever again. Apologies for my snobbery, but really… I never watch miniseries or TV movies, so my judgment in categories like these is based purely on things like the following: Adam Beach and Jason Issacs = pretty. I would like to stare at them while they receive their awards on the podium. The end.



Color me pink and call me stupid: I just don't get it

Am I the only one not that impressed by Heigl? I feel like her “Strong, opinionated woman” persona that she has IRL colors people’s opinion of her performance. She does a good job, yeah, but Grey’s isn’t half the show it once was and Izzie is quickly becoming more annoying than Meredith…and I didn’t think that was possible. Rose Bryne was, in my opinion, the worst part of Damages. I honestly don’t have a strong opinion on any of the remaining options, except to say that I’m glad Pressly finally started getting some recognition because I thought she was criminally overlooked in My Name is Earl’s first season.



William Shatner, my ass. The Piv, I’m over it. Your schtick is great, but the shine has warn off. Donald Sutherland rocks my world as the patriarch of the perennially screwed-up Darling clan. He’s understated but forceful; a quietly dangerous man who nonetheless has obvious warmth for his family.

Dark Knight Full Trailer + Poster

I have no words.

*Insert loud, fangirl squeal here*

I don't like this poster as well as the "Why So Serious?" one, but it is still AMAZING.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

"Juno" is due this holiday season

"Little Miss Sunshine's got nothin' on me"

It seems pretty clear that “Juno” will be the undeniable darling of 2007 indie cinema (stealing the crown from last year’s winner, “Little Miss Sunshine”). It’s the kind of movie that has critics falling all over themselves to praise it and people falling all over each other to go see it (and say they’ve seen it, and discuss its pros and cons endlessly).

So, here begins my praise. My favorite part of Juno was Mr. and Mrs. MacGuff (J.K. Simmons and Allison Janney). Too often in movies, parents are shown as the “explanation” for why their teenagers drink/smoke/do drugs/get pregnant. Mom and Dad are usually abusive, neglectful, druggies/boozers (the first generation) or just plain oblivious. The audience is supposed to nod along, agreeing that this is acceptable explanation for their children’s behavior. Brenda and Mac MacGuff are sharp, attentive and loving parents who handle the news that their daughter is pregnant like, well, adults (no screaming and wailing “where did we go WRONG?!” here).

The MacGuffs are actual parents, full of beleaguered love, and it’s amazing to me how refreshing that is. Through the movie, they act the way I expect my own parents would have if I’d gotten pregnant at 16 (though I doubt my mother would’ve had the pluck to comically rip into the sonogram technician for daring to pass judgment on her daughter the way that Janney does in one scene). I think the biggest laugh of the whole movie was when Juno waddles into the kitchen, eight months pregnant, and her dad (barely glancing up from his paper) remarks “Hey there, big, puffy version of Junebug.”

Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner are fantastic as a 30-something married couple with polar opposite attitudes about “growing up.” Bateman’s Mark is a guy desperately trying to hold on to the hipness of his youth as he’s being dragged, silently kicking and screaming, into the confining role of upper middle class suburban fatherhood. Juno finds common ground in their shared love of music, guitar-playing and slasher movies. They enjoy spending time together, seemingly oblivious to the vaguely inappropriate nature of their relationship (they always hang out when Mark’s wife isn’t around). In him, Juno sees someone who still manages to “stay cool” despite all of his adult responsibilities. In her current situation (as the “cautionary whale”), seeing someone who can, at least on the surface, pull off that dichotomy appeals to her. Mark enjoys her mild version of hero worship; he desperately wants to still be seen as young and hip. Juno’s repeated visits serve as affirmation that he’s still relevant.

Don't be fooled: He's not really a grownup

Mark obviously thinks (or hopes) that she has a little crush on him, something that Juno, despite her grownup situation, is too na├»ve to see. The scene where Mark and Juno’s disparate viewpoints on their relationship comes to a head is one of the best in the movie (I don’t want to spoil it; it’s that good).

I don’t know why I was surprised at how great Jennifer Garner is in this movie. I’m still trying to figure out if her straitlaced, proper Vanessa really was that prim and uptight, or whether she mold herself into that persona because she thought that’s who she had to be in order to be seen as a “real mom.” Her desperation for a child is quiet, heart wrenching and consuming; she feels incomplete unless she’s a mother. I’m finding that I can’t pick the right words to describe just how amazing she was in this role. How about this? Just watch the scene where she runs into Juno in the mall and kneels down to try to talk to the baby that will soon be hers (but isn’t, really). When it’s over, you tell me if you can put into words the mesmerizing job she did as Vanessa Loring.

Enough has been said about Ellen Page and Michael Cera, so I’m not going to add much to it. Page does a great job at delivering the quirky, pop culture-laden dialogue written for her. In the hands of a lesser actress, lines like “silencio, old man” or “I’m going to call Women Now because they help women now” would come off as cheesy and trite. Cera is great (and everyone lauds his comic timing and wry humor endlessly) but I wish he’d play a different character for once. I’d rather an actor be great and layered instead of brilliant but one-note. To me, Cera is the latter…so I hope he picks something that allows him to stretch a bit for his next role.

From stripper to writer of snappy one-liners...who knew?

The dialogue is snappy and full of hip lingo and thoroughly modern one-liners that, thankfully, only occasionally fall flat. I really think, perhaps counterintuitively, that writing quirky, modern comic dialogue (though it’s supposedly more the way people talk nowadays) is actually one of the hardest things to do. It’s so easy for it to try too hard and end up sounding cheesy and hollow. This happens occasionally in “Juno,” most notably for me in the scene in the drugstore where Page’s Juno chats with the drugstore clerk (Rainn Wilson) about pregnancy tests. But overall, Diablo Cody’s script is a real achievement: it takes a story told time and time again with familiar characters, turns it on its head and then, when you’re not looking, turns it on its head again.

My one big complaint: the music. It was overly folky, self-indulgent and incredibly distracting. UGH. I hated that the movie ended the way that it did (I the to spoil things too much, so apologies for my vagueness). I get it. You’re an indie film. Even your music is quirky and almost painfully hip. That doesn’t necessarily make it good. Just FYI.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Sex and the City - now bigger (and better?)

Fans of "Sex and the City" rejoice, for the teaser trailer is here:

Now, here's the thing. I like "Sex and the City" in spite of many things. In spite of the fact that, most of the time, I think what they're wearing is pretty freakin' atrocious looking. In spite of the fact that I can relate to about 2.5% of what went on in the series. And, most of all, in spite of the fact that I think the main character is one of the most unlikeable characters I've ever come across.

This, to me, means that this show has some sort of magical power that cannot possibly be understood by my feeble little mind. The movie probably will too. And I will go see it. Though I remain unconvinced that most shows actually NEED to be made into movies - especially ones that got 5-7 seasons to tell their story on the small screen. You ended it once; why start it up all over again and end it AGAIN? (Yes, I know the answer is "because it will make us lots of money." I'm not an idiot, but that doesn't make it artistically RIGHT. Art above all! Damn the man! *coughahem*)

Something like "South Park" or "The Simpsons" making a movie is different because these shows were still on the air when the movies were made. Thus, their stories were ongoing. A movie like "Serenity" is also an exception because "Firefly," the series it was derived from, got canceled in the middle of its first season and thus had no satisfying conclusion.

So, in short: "Sex and the City: The Movie" is totally and completely unnecessary. However, that will totally not stop me from standing in line to buy a ticket in May 2008. Because, as Depeche Mode says, I "just can't get enough."

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Jones dons Dodger blue

Andruw Jones. Two years, 36.2 million.

2007 STATS

154 26 94 83 .311 .222


162 34 103 96 .342 .263 .497 .839

Watch the bad arm, guys!

Jones supposedly played most of 2007 with a hyperextended elbow, which contributed to his unimpressive season. In theory, this seems like a good get. Jones is an outstanding defensive player AND (usually) a potent bat in the center of a lineup. The Dodgers have been in dire need of a power bat for a long, long time. Having him behind speedsters Furcal and Pierre (in my opinion, not nearly as big a disappointment as all the bloggers on bemoan) in the lineup could prove to be an RBI gold mine.

But I can't shake my lingering suspicion that the Dodgers are developing a reputation for coming just a little too late to the party. I think they have a tendency to overpay for players JUST after they've passed their prime and end up with egg on their faces (to varying degrees) come October. Juan Pierre. Eric Gagne (when they re-signed). Darren Dreifort. Kevin Brown. Need I go on?

When it comes to the boys in blue, however, I am the eternal optimist. I sincerely hope Jones' 2007 season was an aberration rather than an ominous sign of things to come. Bringing him on board creates a surplus of talent in the outfield (I'm talking Ethier or Kemp; I'm not going to get into the debate raging over whether to try and unload Pierre just yet) that may prove important in a trade for a starting pitcher.

I like this move overall. Assuming his elbow is healthy, Jones is a serious offensive (and defensive) threat. He's 30 years old with more than 10 years of major league experience (and a wealth of postseason experience as well) and 10 Gold Gloves. While he's no wunderkind or magical fix-all, landing him is a huge (if overly expensive) positive.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Behind the Scenes: The Final Shot in "Gone Baby Gone"

Double the Affleck, double the fun

One of the cooler perks of my job is the ability to see free movies. I saw Gone Baby Gone on Saturday night.

Before anything else, I would like to present to you my interpretation of the final shot (this won’t really spoil anything as I don’t describe anything IN the shot at all).


Ben Affleck: Aaaaand…action!

Voice in Ben Affleck’s head: Hmm…dude. I’m hungry. I could really go for a sandwich. That would be completely delicious right now.

Ben Affleck: That’s an awesome idea.

*Ben Affleck wanders off to craft service and prepares himself a nice pastrami sandwich. He sits down and is about to take a bite*

Voice in Ben Affleck’s head: Oh, crap. We forgot to say “cut.” That shot is still rolling!

Ben Affleck: Damnit!

*runs back to set and mercifully stops the shot*

First AD: Um, Ben…should we cut that down in post?

Ben Affleck: What?

Voice in Ben Affleck’s Head: Pastraaaaaaami.

Ben Affleck: No. Just stick it in. It’s a good shot. Quality. Money. Print it.

*runs back to sandwich*

Voice in Ben Affleck’s Head: MMM…delicious. Go Sox!


Despite my teasing above, I liked the movie a lot more than I expected to. I don’t think he fell victim to the “actor as first-time director” pitfalls of being overly self-indulgent with his filmmaking. Actually, come to think of it, I really, really liked it.

C''s got Ed Harris!

It was thoughtful, morally complex, darkly funny and genuinely disturbing and shocking. I thought Affleck told a compelling story and got great performances from his cast. My only complaint was that that the movie pulled a minor “Lord of the Rings” by very obviously ending three times. I know that a lot of movies have twists and layers and whatnot…but this didn’t feel as…seamless, I suppose…as I thought it should. It was a little too obviously “Part One, Part Two, Part Three” for me. Also, despite the fact that I mocked the last shot mercifully, I thought it was a powerful and poignant one (it just lasted a little TOO long, in my humble opinion).

I highly recommend that everyone check it out. If you have an Affleck bias (totally understandable given the last three years or so of his career) I suggest you get over it. Because this film is definitely worth seeing, and I really look forward to his next directorial effort.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

BCS: The "C" stands for "Chaos"

I have yet to find a single person who disagrees with the idea that this college football season (especially since the dust from the bowl selections has finally settled) proved, more than any other, that the BCS system is severely flawed.

Every year, multiple articles bemoan that very same fact, however. There's always some team that gets overlooked because it's in the wrong conference or it lost at the wrong time or having it in that particular bowl game isn't the best monetary decision (and, we all know, that last part is what REALLY skews things).

Ohio State is the No. 1 team because of a soft non-conference schedule, a final week bye and a top ranking in a completely unimpressive Big 10. Hawaii is the only undefeated team in the nation, but playing in the WAC and not being a college football "heavyweight" (read: lacking the pedigree and the ability to draw in the big money like a top team in the Big 10, Big 12 or SEC could) means a No. 10 ranking and a spot in the Sugar Bowl. Not too shabby, but still...

We're Number One!

Really? REALLY?!

This isn't fair. But it isn't unfair, either. It's not an argument I really want to go anywhere near, because there's just no way to satisfactorily resolve it under the current system.

Almost every other NCAA sport had a playoff system in place. I realize that implementing such a system in college football has huge hurdles - the largest of which is a big, fat dollar sign. I wish sportsmanship and the spirit of competition and drive to prove who REALLY is number one still took precedence over who could draw the most sponsorship money. But you know what they say about wishes...

Still, there's something clean and satisfying about a playoff system. You fight all year to MAKE the playoffs, but once you get there, everyone is on equal footing again. You have to prove yourself all over again. In a year where it seems like no one REALLY, CLEARLY belongs at the top, playoffs seem like the thing that would calm the chaos. Make those two-loss teams (nearly all of whom suffered an embarrassing, heart-wrenching upset) lock helmets and EARN it. Can you just imagine the football games we'd get to see? I'm getting excited just sitting here thinking about the mere possibility.

Damnit. I always do that, though. Get really, really excited about things that will never happen. Because money always wins out. Always (though I will cast a sidelong, puppy dog glance at the BCS committee that says "please, boys. Prove me wrong.").

Barring my pipe dream, here are my gut picks (sans any real analysis...yet).

ROSE: USC over Illinois
SUGAR: Georgia over Hawaii
FIESTA: Oklahoma over West Virginia
ORANGE: Virginia Tech over Kansas

BCS CHAMPIONSHIP: (I hate both of these teams, but) LSU over Ohio State

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Project Run-WHAT?!

Considering where I work (in TV, at Fox) it may be surprising (or possibly a sacrilege) that I'm not a big fan of reality television.

I watched The Real World for a few seasons...though I don't really count it in the universe of "reality television" that now exists. I saw the Omorosa season of The Apprentice. Survivor: Australian Outback (I think that was Season 2 or 3). The least annoying season of Queer Eye. A couple scattered seasons of The Amazing Race. I enjoyed all of the aforementioned viewing experiences. But I was never really compelled to keep watching, season-to-season. Reality television just doesn't seep into my consciousness and take hold of my brain like scripted series do.
And then came Project Runway.

I watch it religiously. Like it's my job. And I'm not even a fashion lover. I buy most of my clothes from American Eagle. My wardrobe isn't exactly "this season" (or even "last season," really) or fashion forward. I wouldn't know a couture piece if you smacked me in the face with it. I'm often baffled by what Michael Kors and Nina Garcia deem "amazing" or "atrocious."

Despite that, I can't get enough. I adore Tim Gunn and his "make it work" attitude. Heidi Klum trying to read lines makes me giggle. I love the designers, so full of themselves and so shocked when what they make is deemed less than the best thing ever. I love the weepers (especially when they're the men). I love it when the claws come out and people get snippy over their sewing machines. And if you've ever laughed harder at a reality show than when Santino made up his "Tim and Andrae go to Red Lobster" bit in the are dead to me.

This season has a crazy girl who spit marks her clothes, a heavily-tattoed 46-year-old woman named "Sweet P," Kevin the weeper and an overly confident 21-year-old queen with a Flock of Seagulls haircut updated for the 21st century (newsflash: it still doesn't look good. Christian, you fail at life). It also just had one of the greatest, funniest episodes ever.

The designers had to make menswear. Speficially, something that former NFL "great" Tiki Barber could wear on the Today show. Project Runway pretty much never designs for men. You'd think so much more thought and creativity and effort has to go into creating women's clothing. Menswear should be fairly straightforward; after all, don't they usually wear boring suits?

Apparently, that couldn't be further from the truth, and watching nearly all of the designers bite of WAY more than they could chew and struggle to tailor a pair of slacks properly had me rolling on the floor clutching my sides from laughing so hard. And we haven't even gotten to the fact that the female models were switched out for male models (leaving about 90% of the contetants slack-jawed) who got all naked and had to be fitted.

For those who may not believe me, here are the bottom three designs:

I have never seen a worse (and more hysterical) runway show. The looks from Michael Kors alone were enough to finish me. I mean, just LOOK at the collar on the model on the left (and the fact that his tie was made for a guy about seven feet tall). The model on the right doesn't even have a SHIRT on. It was essentially a "who f#@!ed up the least" challenge. In the next couple episodes, as always, the drama will intensify, personalities will crystallize, the bar will continue to rise and Michael will come up with more scathing one-liners to attemp to describe the horrors before him.

I. Can't. WAIT.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Sporting Event + LA Coliseum = Baseball?

If there was a contest entitled "The best news you've ever heard ever," the following article would win, hands down.

The Dodgers are returning to the Los Angeles Coliseum, where they played from 1958-1961, to play a one game exhibition against the World Series champion Boston Red Sox. March 29, 2007 aka "the day I will possibly REALLY die of happiness."

I find the fact that they will be playing the Red Sox, who have the green monster, in this setup extremely fitting. They'll feel right at home with the fence erected in left field for "moon shots."

There is no way that I'm going to miss being one of the 94,000 people who cram into that place (I mean, I did it every other weekend for four years for football) and watch this game. It will be like stepping back in time to when baseball first came to Los Angeles.

I will, possibly, be watching the game like my father did as a boy. He was born and raised outside of LA and was a Dodgers fan from a very young age. They're bringing players from that period back, and though I've met quite a few of them in the flesh already, seeing them on that field in this context is going to be pretty damn special.

I. Can't. WAIT.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Vampire Legend...

I am a vampire fanatic (I’m always tempted to say “I’m a sucker for vampires” before I remember what a bad pun that is). I’ll watch or read pretty much anything that has to do with vampirism, vampires or “things-that-go-bump-in-the-night-and-will-probably-suck-your-blood-out-while-doing-it.”

I’ve read mythology books, both modern and ancient (mentions of creatures with vampire-like features date back to Mesopotamia). I’ve seen movies from Dracula to The Hunger to The Lost Boys to Buffy the Vampire Slayer and everything in between. I worship at the altar of Joss Whedon (he of Buffy and Angel cult fame).

All you really have to do is mention that there’s a vampire in any sort of entertainment project and I’m there (this explains why I watch Moonlight. Don’t judge me; it’s an obsession and I am not completely responsible for where my urges take me). I can’t explain why. I don’t identify with them or secretly want to be one. I do not dress in black or wear a vial of blood around my neck. I have not filed down my teeth, nor am I nocturnal (though I do cop to dressing up as Buffy for Halloween when I was in high school…but that was freakin’ awesome).

It doesn’t hurt that devastatingly sexy men tend to play vampires, I suppose.

I mention all of the above because I saw the extended trailer for I Am Legend before seeing Enchanted this weekend.

The movie is based on a book which, according to Wikipedia, is about the following:

“The novel opens with the monotony and horror of the daily life of the protagonist, Robert Neville. Neville is apparently the only survivor of an apocalypse caused by a pandemic of a bacterium, the symptoms of which are very similar to vampirism. Every day he makes repairs to his house, boarding up windows, stringing and hanging garlic, disposing of vampires' corpses on his lawn and going out to gather any additional supplies needed for hunting and killing more vampires.”

I’ve watched the trailer a half-dozen times (and I saw the teaser many times as well) and…I’m just not excited. I really don’t care. This is a blockbuster, sci-fi/horror, big-ass holiday weekend movie about vampires, and all I can do is shrug my shoulders and go “eh.” I can’t put my finger on why, either. I know that CGI “creatures of the night” aren’t my favorite thing. I also like the human/demon dichotomy – the relationship between the two both internally and externally. This doesn’t seem like that kind of movie.

Still, I’m sort of let down. Friends and acquaintances have been inquiring if I’m going to “line up” to see it and gauging my degree of excitement about the impending opening day. A movie that seems tailor-made to someone of my particular predilection and I’m completely ambivalent. Guess I’ll have to look forward to Sweeney Todd instead. He’s no vampire; but there’ll be blood and death and extremely pale skin everywhere…oh my.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Billy freakin' Joel

So, I have a confession to make.

I'm not a HUGE music person. I mean, I love it. I love singing at the top of my lungs in my car, dancing about my apartment to "Footloose" (among other things) and I go see Broadway musicals like it's my JOB...but I don't consider myself a music connoisseur by any stretch of the imagination. The "Big 3" in entertainment pretty much rank as follows: Television, Television, Movies/Music.

That said, I love concerts. I've seen my favorite band multiple times. I try and see bands I like when they come through town if I have the money and someone to go with me. But, up until this weekend, I'd never really traveled to see a band or artist. You know, gotten in the car (or on a plane) and actually driven incredibly far for the sole purpose of seeing a concert.

And then I went to Vegas to see Billy Joel. I don't think I'll ever be the same.

I don't know if there's anything quite like getting dressed to the nines to walk into the concert hall of the MGM Grand and spending two-and-a-half hours listening to the Piano Man do his thing. I was in the "nosebleed" seats, but I didn't care. He opened with an amazing piano instrumental that segued into "Angry Young Man" and then just didn't stop rocking. By the time he got to "We Didn't Start The Fire" (which was only a few songs in) we were up and dancing in the aisles in dresses and heels. A Frank Sinatra impersonation, several Elvis songs and one joke about Elton John later, he closed with "You May Be Right" and encored with the following:

"Scenes From An Italian Restaurant"

"Only The Good Die Young"

"Piano Man"

It was one of the most fantastic nights of my life. There's nothing like a show in Vegas (and traveling for five hours in a car with seven of your friends to get there)...especially when you're rocking to Billy Joel. I highly recommend that if the right band comes along, you hop in your car, take the 10 to the 15, stop in Barstow for some food and then concert it up in Vegas.

Because, you know, when the show is over, you're still in VEGAS, baby.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Sexiest Man Alive?

This just in: Matt Damon is named People magazine's "Sexiest Man Alive." The previous sentence was sent forward through time and space from the year 2000...when it was (possibly) true.

I mean, not gonna lie. The guy's attractive. I always liked him better than his other half (Affleck). But Sexiest Man Alive?? Damon's the guy your parents would let you date at 15 because he was so vanilla...nice, nice looking in a very non-threatening way. Looking at him doesn't inspire lusty thoughts or funny tingling sensations.

For the curious, the man who's received my vote for SMA every day for the past 10 years is below. He is the very definition of walking sex. There will be no arguing with me, so don't even try.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Baseball Bling

I love the end-of-season baseball awards. They usually surprise me. At least one (without fail) is downright shocking.

I'm going to sidebar a little bit here and say I've never been the sort of girl who loves a sports player because he's "so CUTE!" (insert glare at all the girlie Johnny Damon/Tom Brady/Tony Romo lovers here). I love guys who can doesn't really matter what they look like under their helmet or hat. That said...

I love Russell Martin. I love looking at him. I love watching him play. I love listening to him get interviewed. I was on vacation in Boston when they had Russell Martin bobblehead day at the stadium...and I made my mother go to the game so that I could put a miniature version of him on my bookshelf in my apartment (calm yourselves..I paid for her ticket).

I feel okay about all of this because damn, the kid can play. He was recognized this year with both the Gold Glove and the Silver Slugger. Here are the lines (in only his second season) that earned him that distinction:

SS: AVG .293 HR 19 RBI 87 OBP .374 SLG .469

GG: GP 154 \ Attempts 123 \ % CS 33.3 \ Inn/SB 15.3 \ Fld % .988 \ Assists 83


No one was surprised that Dustin Pedroia took home the AL Rookie of the Year Award. There really wasn't another strong argument to be made. Despite a rough, below-the-Mendoza-line start in May, Pedroia finished the season with a .317 batting average - an all-time best for a rookie second baseman. He also lead all major league rookies in doubles, was second in on-base percentage and third in runs.

His heroics in the postseason - driving in 10 in 14 games and that lead off homer in Game 1 of the World Series are just a couple things worth mentioning here - are made even more impressive by the fact that the 24-year-old did it all with a broken hamate bone in his hand.

My Boston friends and I, after watching Pedroia come up clutch again and again, even started singing what became known as "The Pedroia Song" (sung to the tune of the chorus of "Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You"):

Dus-tin Pe-dro-ia

You are the love of my life

Dus-tin Pe-dro-ia

I'd let you &$@! my wife (or "ME!" if you're a woman)


I trust in you when you playyyyy

Congratulations to him.


In the NL, things were a bit more, surprising. General public opinion (and critical opinion) bestowed the NL Rookie of the Year on Colorado's Troy Tulowitzki. When the votes were counted, however, Milwaukee's Ryan Braun came out on top by a mere two points - the closest margin since the current voting system was implemented in 1980.

It's also a classic example of flash trumping substance.

Hitting Stats:

Fielding Stats:

In general, sports fans understand the value of a good defense, but it's a lot harder to see (and quantify) than home runs and extra bases. Braun trumps Tulowitzki in batting average, home runs and slugging percentage. He also committed 26 errors in 112 games (giving him the second-worst fielding percentage - .895 - among third baseman since 1910).

Tulowitzki was part of (arguably) THE best defense in the major leagues all year. His team made it to the World Series. His offensive numbers are incredibly impressive and definitely comparable to Braun's. How is it that a rookie with a hot bat but a questionable glove beats out another rookie who's got the whole package - an impressive bat AND a solid glove (and at shortstop to boot)? Are we really THAT blinded by the long ball?

Congrats to Ryan Braun for an incredibly impressive offensive debut. It's unfortunate that it was able to cast a shadow over Tulowitzki - without question the better "complete package" - and cost him the Rookie of the Year award.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Report from the front lines...

This photo was taken from one of the top floors of the Fox Plaza not that long ago. All of the WGA strikers have converged on the Fox Lot (where I work) today from 10am-4pm.

Here's one more photo:

Essentially, no one can get on or off the lot and rolling street closures have been instituted for the streets around the two main lot entrances.

Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave are going to play later on today for the strikers. My co-workers and I will probably head to the top of one of the parking structures to check it out later. Regardless of how you feel about the strike, I think it's a fascinating thing to see firsthand. It's a part of history (Hollywood history, at least), as strange as that may sound.

More later...

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

This is why I love TV...

You know, you're sitting down, minding your own business, watching one of your favorite TV shows and then...BAM!

You see a familiar face. One that you can't quite place out of context. They're playing some random guest supporting role that doesn't really matter a whole lot. Your brain searches desperately for the connection, trying to figure out how the hell you know that face, that voice...

When the answer hits, it is rarely as glorious as it was last night, when I watched How I Met Your Mother and House back-to-back (Oh Tivo, how I love you).

The Realtor on HIMYM? Looking (and talking...oh thank god) completely normal...

And then on House, I wondered why the guy yelling at people and making mean faces looked so familiar...and then I pictured him saying "What are you looking at, butthead?"

THese are the things that bring me joy...

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Wannabe what, exactly?

When I was 12 I was in love with the Spice Girls.

*waits for the laughter to die down*

You all be quiet. When "Girl Power" was still a novel idea, the Spice Girls were good, clean fun for the tween set. Before the boy band era blew up, we had Scary, Sporty, Baby, Ginger and Posh (oh, Posh). In your little group of girlfriends, everyone got assigned one of the "personas" (my self-preservation instinct has just kicked in, and is preventing from disclosing which one I always wanted to be) and you danced about and sang and flashed your girl power peace sign.

Or maybe it was just me. *ahem*

This is what they used to be about:

Recently, a new music video for one of their new songs made the rounds online:

Ladies, what happened to the fun? What happened to the smiles (okay, from everyone but Posh)? Why are you sitting around in your lingerie looking pouty? Are you trying to prove how grown up and (still thin and hot, thankyouverymuch) you are?

I was way more excited than someone my age should be that you were reuniting for a World Tour. I wanted to get tickets in the worst way (the 12-year-old inside of me occasionally still runs the show...usually when we're talking ice cream or superheroes).

But if this tour is going to be 90 minutes of the women I see in the second video with none of the bubbly effervescence of the original incarnation...I'm going to have to give the whole thing one big pass. I'll stick with my awesome memories of dancing around my living room pretending to be Scary Spice (damnit, I gave it away).

Monday, November 5, 2007

A Time to Strike (to everything there is a season)

The last time the WGA went on strike, I was four. Since I didn’t watch anything beyond Pooh Corner and Sesame Street at that point, I really don’t remember the impact the strike had on Joe Viewer, let alone the studios and the writers themselves. I’ve heard about people losing homes and jobs and being forced to suffer through an endless sea of reruns (the horror!). I don’t think I really understand what it MEANT.

But I think I’m about to. As of 12:01 this morning, the WGA went on strike. Many productions (television and film) ground to a halt; lacking a showrunner and/or EP, it’s hard to, you know, run a show. Should this conflict drag on into weeks and months, this whole thing will start to get “really real.” No more new television. More reality (though, I hate to burst your bubbles people…reality shows have writers too). People may lose their jobs. People put out of work may lose a lot more than that.

I crossed a picket line this morning on my way to my desk at a major studio, something I’ll have to do every day until this conflict gets resolved. I feel a little guilty about it, I’m not gonna lie. I sympathize with the WGA members (since I fancy myself a bit of a writer, on occasion), but I also understand that this is the sort of conflict where both sides have incredibly valid points and there really isn’t a clear “right” way for things to shake out. I just hope a compromise can be reached sooner rather than later. Especially since things have already gotten ugly: a WGA member was run down by a car in front of a studio earlier today for “not getting out of the way.”

Buckle up, kiddies. Things in Hollywoodland are about to get even more interesting and intense than usual.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

The mighty Trojan Nation

As I sit here watching USC play OSU, I feel sort of like an old biddy in a rocking hair, reminiscing about the glory of days gone by. Yeah yeah, I'm a spoiled little football bitch (and a smug one at that). No one needs to tell me this; I am fully aware. Two National Championships (and very nearly a third...but I can't talk about that), three Heisman Trophy winners in four years and a record of 48-4.

I come from the era of thunder and lightning, Pete Carroll, "the push," repeated stomping of rivals UCLA and Notre Dame and more oranges and roses than we knew what to do with. My classmates and I don't really understand the meaning of that big, ugly "L" (though I WAS at that fateful 2006 Rose Bowl and I'm still not going to talk about it...) Sports columnists touted us as one of the greatest college football teams EVER. We took over as THE Los Angeles team (because the Dodgers, Kings, Clippers and Lakers sure weren't doing much in that stretch). Even our harshest critics' hurled insults were so feeble, they were laughable.

Then came Oregon State. And the baffling 13-9 UCLA loss. Everyone was just a bit too eager to turn on the top dog. So we went to the Rose Bowl and thoroughly dominated Michigan (again) and everyone breathed a sigh of relief. A funny thing happened during the 2007 off season, though. The Pac-10 (which previously consisted of USC'm out) started stepping up their game.

The 2007 season features a fantastic Oregon team, a bafflingly good Arizona State team, and solid Cal and UCLA teams. That's not even getting into one of the craziest, David-beats-Goliath seasons college football has seen in years (kicked off by *hee-hee* Michigan and Appalachian State). We inexcusably lost to Stanford at home, breaking a 35-game home winning streak. We understandably lost to Oregon.

With a month left in the season, we sit at unimaginable number. I can make arguments about Booty's middle finger and an offensive line decimated by injuries. But I won't. Many in the Trojan Nation are full of sputtering excuses and a lot of sports columnists are smugly touting that they "knew it was coming."

Don't fool yourselves. The Trojan dynasty has not died. Our defense still puts most others in the nation to shame. Our offense is still play making just fine, thanks. Being a two-loss team shouldn't inspire "end of the world" hand-wringing. Sure, it takes us down a peg or two, but everyone needs to be force-fed a healthy dose of reality every once in a while. We're not invincible. But we're also not to be dismissed or counted out...ever.

Besides, it's a great ploy for the mightiest to lull everyone else into a false sense of security for a while before turning around and leveling everyone in their path (Hey, I may have been taken down a peg or two, but my football ego remains firmly intact).

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The Joss has landed

Never mind that pesky potential writer's strike looming on the horizon...the television landscape has just gotten infinitely brighter.

Because this man has returned to TV.

I know, fellow Whedonites, you are skeptical. Joss has been attached to many, many projects (on both big and small screen) in the past couple of years that never saw the light of day. Wonder Woman. Goner. Ripper. That Faith spinoff. Each one got our hopes soaring...only to crush us under the bitter heel of disappointment every time (my flair for the dramatic knows no bounds). So I sense your trepidation and I totally understand it.

After all, the deal is with FOX. The network with the extremely short leash, known to cancel shows as early as 30 minutes into a one-hour pilot. The network that shoved the brilliant "Firefly" onto Friday nights, aired multiple episodes out of order and then canned it halfway through the first season. The network Joss never wanted to go back to.

But I say, "Take heart, Joss lovers!" For Whedon himself has commented on the positive changes in the FOX regime since he last brought a show there. Also, he doesn't just have a deal, he has a show - complete with purchased scripts (seven - count 'em), a title and a star.

The Queen of bad-assery, Eliza Dushku, convinced Whedon to come back to television with "Dollhouse," which Whedon half-jokingly describes as a "suspense-drama-mythology-comedy-action-horror musical."

Because I am currently too lazy to write out a synopsis, follow the link if you want to know what it's about (and who wouldn't?).

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Who's that manager?

The Latest from Los Angeles:



We'll set aside for a moment how I had to fight the urge to punch myself in the face for putting a picture of anyone (let alone Torre) in a Yankees uniform on my blog. It makes me feel a little bit dirty.

Grady Little resigned as manager of the Dodgers yesterday. Can you blame the guy, really? I mean, he's not exactly a slouch as a manager. All of the teams he's managed had a winning record. He took the 2003 Red Sox to the ALCS in his second year at the helm (those of you piping up with "But...Pedro!" right now, sit down and be quiet). In his first year with the Dodgers, he took them to the NLDS (somewhere they'd been only twice before since winning the '88 World Series). On top of that, he's one of the most genuinely nice guys you're ever going to meet. And yes, I know that firsthand.

The problem? He's not Joe Torre.

I understand why those four words make such a strong argument. I know you can't compare Little, with his four seasons of managerial experience, to the man who steered the mighty Yankees dynasty for 12 years - into 12 postseasons and six World Series (four of which resulted in Championships). It's apples and oranges. But he deserved better.

There are reports of end-of-season unrest between veteran and rookie players and a blowup between Colletti and Little. The latter is said to have lead to Grady deciding to step down. I hope that's true. I hope that Little resigned of his own accord and not because Dodgers upper-level management realized there might have been something better out there. A classy guy like Grady (who was quoted trying to debunk any rumors that the decision to leave wasn't entirely his own) deserved that much.

When Torre declined Steinbrenner's offer, I'll bet there wasn't an owner or GM out there that didn't daydream for a moment or two about good old Joe donning their team's cap and filling out lineup cards. I bet there wasn't a manager out there who didn't wonder in the back of his mind about his job security. Unfortunately for Little, his wondering turned into reality. But you know what? That's baseball. That's business.

There is no deal yet between Torre and the Dodgers. Ned Colletti was barely willing to admit that the two parties had spoken at all. But these stories never come from nowhere, so I'd say, should all the details of contact and coaching staff and whatnot get sorted out (and we all know how easily THAT can go awry), Torre may very well be steering my boys in blue come March.

How I feel about that is something I'm still working out. He IS a friggin' Yankee, after all.