Saturday, November 22, 2008

No more 'Pushing Daisies'

Lee Pace plays a pie maker who can bring people back to life, if only for a moment, in the wonderful show Pushing Daisies. Photo from

One of the most offbeat and interesting shows on television has been cancelled and I am steamed over it. On yesterday I read that ABC decided to give the boot to Pushing Daisies. If you are not a watcher of this show I suggest you add Season 1 to your Netflix list, because it is worth a watch (even knowing that it won't go any further than Season 2).

This show is unlike any other show out there. It's quirky, has imaginative sets and costumes, well designed characters, fascinating plot lines and of course, the adorable Lee Pace. While I thought Season 2 came back a little off the mark of last season, this past week's episode was right back on track. I laughed so much at the perfectly inserted one-liners and found myself completely enthralled with the story once again.

So thanks a lot ABC for taking this Wednesday night highlight away.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Blah is the sentiment I exude when it comes to describing the finale of America’s Next Top Model, Cycle 11. I have this feeling not because of the winner, but because of the actual final show. It was downright boring.

This is the first time I’ve watched the finale with other people and I was excited for the chance to talk about whom our favorite was and laugh at the bad commercials and runway walks. While we did all of this, I still felt like even our most sarcastic of comments still didn’t make the show exciting. In fact, I think the most entertaining aspects of the finale were the outfits and hairstyles of Tyra, Mr. J and the rest of the panel – and none of them are supposed to be the stars of the show (ok, well maybe Tyra, but none of the others). Her final panel outfit (including her hair) looked like she was auditioning for Coneheads 2: Connie Conehead makes America’s Next Top Model. But I guess the whole alien thing ties back to the first episode.

I do think that my biggest highlight on the episode was the fact that Mr. J designed a runway that looked more like you were walking 18 holes at the mini-golf funland. There were hills and stairs and barriers. The only thing missing was the windmill (and they were in Amsterdam, so it would have been appropriate). But as for the runway show itself, it was so rushed and choppy on the cuts that we really didn’t get a chance to see just how horrible Sam and McKey walked (and from what we did see, we knew both were pretty bad).

I was also saddened by the fact that Analeigh didn’t even make it to the final cut. My Sactown gal got the axe after her Cover Girl commercial fell flat, oh so very flat. The girl choked after having arguably the best Cover Girl commercial in ANTM’s history earlier in the season. I thought McKey’s face in her Cover Girl still was pretty, but her hair looked like she was wearing a helmet. Ick. Plus, that girl has some obnoxiously large ears that I cannot move past. During panels she tends to look a bit like a monkey to me. But as Tyra says, “pretty-pretty isn’t necessarily model-pretty.”

But I guess it goes without saying, congrats to McKey. We look forward to your horrible Cover Girl commercials when we tune into Cycle 12. And one last note, I am a slightly disappointed that someone who wears chain-mail vests was able to win ANTM.

Oh, and this just in, check out the FugGirls over at NY Mag. They were just as disappointed as I was.

According to the NYT, I should be unhappy

November 20, 2008
What Happy People Don’t Do
Happy people spend a lot of time socializing, going to church and reading newspapers — but they don’t spend a lot of time watching television, a new study finds.

That’s what unhappy people do.

Although people who describe themselves as happy enjoy watching television, it turns out to be the single activity they engage in less often than unhappy people, said John Robinson, a professor of sociology at the University of Maryland and the author of the study, which appeared in the journal Social Indicators Research.

While most large studies on happiness have focused on the demographic characteristics of happy people — factors like age and marital status — Dr. Robinson and his colleagues tried to identify what activities happy people engage in. The study relied primarily on the responses of 45,000 Americans collected over 35 years by the University of Chicago’s General Social Survey, and on published “time diary” studies recording the daily activities of participants.

“We looked at 8 to 10 activities that happy people engage in, and for each one, the people who did the activities more — visiting others, going to church, all those things — were more happy,” Dr. Robinson said. “TV was the one activity that showed a negative relationship. Unhappy people did it more, and happy people did it less.”

But the researchers could not tell whether unhappy people watch more television or whether being glued to the set is what makes people unhappy. “I don’t know that turning off the TV will make you more happy,” Dr. Robinson said.

Still, he said, the data show that people who spend the most time watching television are least happy in the long run.

Since the major predictor of how much time is spent watching television is whether someone works or not, Dr. Robinson added, it’s possible that rising unemployment will lead to more TV time.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Ellen's Game Week, Take 2

After winning $2,000 worth of electronics from Ellen, my friend Michelle was invited back to the show to participate for a grand prize package of an 8-day private African safari. Since I was already going to be up in L.A., Michelle invited me to be her guest on the show. I don't know who was more excited -- Michelle playing for the safari or me getting to go to Ellen, finally! Here's how the afternoon went.

Michelle and I arrived at the show and were VIP guests. We're ballers.

During Ellen's monologue she called down four contestants to play "Grab My Banana," which would narrow the playing field down to two for the final game.

Each of the girls was given a puzzle to put together, the first two to put it together properly and grab a banana from the podium were in the final.

Michelle's puzzle was a baboon, and while she had a little trouble putting it together, she managed to finish (even though the poor baboon was sideways) and grabbed the second banana.

After "Grab My Banana" Ellen did her usual dance through the crowd. I got caught dancing my tall white girl moves. Eeek. They sat me next to the shortest people in the whole audience!

After Ellen danced around the crowd Michelle and I (plus our neighbor in front of us) got close-ups. My 1.5 seconds of fame. I wonder what kind of Hollywood role I can land with this clip.

For the rest of the show, Cole Hamels (World Series MVP) came and dunked a producer to earn money for Sara Lee's "Feeding America;" Marcia Cross (who is SUPER skinny BTW) was embarrassed by an old clip Ellen dug up for naughty November; Kym Douglas brought beauty tricks for cheap (although putting your feet in Jell-O to take away the stink doesn't seem very cheap or practical); and the sexy John Legend serenaded the audience (and gave everyone in the audience his new CD).

But most importantly, Michelle got to play the grand-prize game, "Safari So Goodie." Want to know if she won? Check out this link to see my girl in action. It gets crazy!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Moving beyond The Wire

I have come to notice in all the TV watching that I do that characters from HBO’s The Wire are popping up in various network shows a lot this season. I’m happy that people realize the actors on that show were incredible. Here’s a rundown of stars that have moved beyond The Wire.

Lance Reddick (Lieutenant Daniels): Last season he had a few cameo spots in “Lost” as an undefined creepy character that appeared in a scene with Locke telling him to take a walk-about trip (Episode: Cabin Fever), he played a part in gathering the “scientific” crew that was sent to the island (Episode: Confirmed Dead) and finally visited Hurley in the mental institute asking if “they” were still alive (Episode: Beginning of the End). This season Reddick has a lead role as Agent Phillip Broyles in the new series “Fringe.” Looks like Reddick might be JJ Abrams new go-to guy. Too bad “Fringe” isn’t worthy of Reddick’s talent. I hope this won’t be the end of his TV roles.

Amy Ryan (Officer Beadie Russell): While I don’t watch much of “The Office” (and have gotten grief from many because of it), it looks like Ryan has picked up a recurring role on this hit NBC show. Maybe I’ll have to tune in and check Ryan out in action as she changes over from HBO drama to primetime comedy. Also of note, Ryan had big role in the 2007 movie Gone Baby Gone. If you haven’t seen this movie I highly recommend it (a shining example that Ben Affleck fares better behind the camera while baby brother Casey excels in the spotlight).

Jamie Hector (Marlo Stanfield): From drug dealer to “Heroes” villain. Hector is the newest in evil playing Benjamin “Knox” Washington – a man that can feed off people’s fears and turn them into his strength. As if that weren’t enough, Hector also has a role in the new Mark Wahlberg movie, Max Payne.

Andre Royo (Bubbles): Speaking of “Heroes,” Royo vortexed himself in – and right back out – of “Heroes” as another escaped villain.

Idris Elba (Stinger Bell): When Stringer was killed in Season 3 I was pretty sad. Elba was a dynamic character on “The Wire” and even though he was a bad gangster, you still felt yourself routing for him to come out on top. Since leaving “The Wire” in 2005 I haven’t seen much of Elba, but it looks like he’s got a number of projects in the works including a new HBO series called “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency,” I’m intrigued. Elba also played a role in the film 28 Weeks Later, which a colleague leant me and I watched with some friends Halloween weekend. Kudos for Elba landing a role in his native Brittan, but this movie was a bit much for me.

Wendell Pierce (Det. “Bunk” Moreland): The loveable detective that liked to drink with Det. McNulty now has a semi-reoccurring role on the CBS show “Numb3rs” as an FBI psychologist. Imangine that.

Tristan Wilds (Michael): Poor Wilds went from one of the most interesting characters on “The Wire” to watch develop over the seasons to a member of the new “90210.” While I have not watched this show, the reviews I have read say it all – horrible. Wilds had such depth on “The Wire” as a loving brother, someone who stood up for his friends and the one who turned into a soldier in order to protect his family. It’s a shame that talent is being wasted on the teenybopper “90210.”

Deirdre Lovejoy (Atty. Rhonda Pearlman): Lovejoy took on another role as a lawyer in the new ABC show “Eli Stone.” Even while filming “The Wire,” Lovejoy had parts in quite a few shows ranging from “The Closer,” “The West Wing,” and “Nip/Tuck.” In 2006 she was cast in the move Step Up, not as a lawyer, but as one of the main character’s mother.

Dominick Lombardozzi (Det. “Herc”): Lombardozzi landed a spot on another HBO series “Entourage” as Vincent Chase’s old hometown buddy, Dom.

Clarke Peters (Det. Lester Freamon): Peters was cast in the new show “Life on Mars” as a police captain.

Michael K. Williams (Omar): While Omar hasn’t been seen in primetime, it is worth mentioning that he is has roles in 7 movies that are in post production and 2 movies that have 2008 release dates, including The Incredible Hulk that recently came out.

Pablo Schreiber (Nick Sabotka): Even though Schreiber was only in one season of “The Wire,” he has had parts here and there on shows like “Dirt,” “Army Wives,” and “Life on Mars.” Most recently though, he had a main part in the season premier of “Law & Order” as the brother of a man who was killed during a street fight.

I could go on and on with these characters and the great roles they have been cast in since appearing on “The Wire,” but that would be quite a long list and I don’t want to just regurgitate I did find it quite interesting though that the majority of these people have been on at least one of the “Law & Order” series shows at some point in their careers. Which begs the question of whether this blog should have been named: “Law & Order” the career starter.

This was my first research blog and I enjoyed learning about where the characters from “The Wire” went after the show. If you have any ideas for another research blog, please let me know. I’d also love to get some feedback, so leave me a comment if you get a chance.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Tuesday morning movie

Angelina Jolie as Christine Collins is reunited with her supposed missing son by Capt. J.J. Jones played by Jeffery Donovan.

It has become somewhat of a loose tradition for my friend Liz and I to go to Tuesday morning movies. For only $5.50 at the Hazard Center UltraStar who can pass up such a deal. This week we went and saw Changeling, starring Angelina Jolie. We walked into the theater just as the previews were starting and even though it was dark in the theater, Liz and I were still able to tell that we were the youngest people in attendance, probably by about 40 years. But we are not shamed by this fact. Only proud by our penny pinching abilities.

At 2 hours and 20 minutes a movie of that length really has to work hard to keep me at attention and Changeling was able to do just that. The plot was saddening and remembering that it was based on a true story made it maddening.

Angelina did a great job in the role of Christine Collins, which I was happy about since the movie trailer where she screams, "I want MY son back," left me wondering if the whole movie would be just as melodramatic. I also enjoyed Jeffrey Donovan from Burn Notice who played the character of Capt. J.J. Jones -- the man you wanted to smack.

The real winner of this movie, however, was the costuming. Just as critics are enthralled with the costuming in the TMC show Mad Men, I was equally excited about the garments in Changeling. Minus the whole prohibition thing, it made me want to transport back to that era.

Ellen's game week

I have been a fan of the Ellen DeGeneres show for quite some time now. I record it religiously and although I haven't had much time to watch it this season, I still find that it always has the power to make me smile. For the past 2 seasons my friend Liz and I have been trying to get tickets to the show, but have had no luck. So when my friend Michelle told me that she went to the show I was super jealous. Then when she told me that she got picked to participate in Ellen's game week, I was even more jealous. But to top it ALL off, Michelle informed me that she WON the game and received an electronics package worth $2,000 and included an Xbox, a cell phone and camera, etc., I nearly lost it in the middle of the grocery store.

Due to some incorrect information on the cable guide, I missed the episode that Michelle was on. Lucikly, while it's not the entire segment, the game was posted online so I got to see Michelle (pictured at left at the top of this blog) kill her competition. Here is the video link, enjoy my spastic friend.