Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Friday, February 29, 2008

The Somnambulist will keep you up at night,but not for naught

In the first few pages of Jonathan Barnes' debut novel,The Somnambulist,a bizarre murder takes place in Victorian London and it's victim is a hapless and hammy actor named Cyril Honeyman,who was lured into a remodeled water tower and then tossed from it by a gruesome man who climbed up the side of the building to get at him.

This is only the beginning of the strange events designed to attract the attentions and detective skills of Edward Moon,a once renowned magician and unofficial sleuth who has been on the decline since his infamous failure in Clapham.

Nowadays,he and his faithful companion,the Somnambulist(a hulking,golem like being who loves to drink milk and communicates with others by writing messages on a chalkboard)still keep up their daily performances at the Theater of Marvels,demonstrating mind reading abilities and thrusting swords thru the Somnambulist,who receives these wounds without pain or permanent injury.

Despite Moon's reluctance at first,he and his friends are drawn into the Honeyman case,which leads them towards the trail of a mysterious organization called The Church of the Summer Kingdom that is run by people who insist upon being called Love and have a major plan in the works to take over the city.

A number of clues regarding the Church of the Summer Kingdom's plans come from odd and various sources like Thomas Cribb,a man who claims to be a time traveler and a woman known as Madam Innocenti,a medium that holds regular seances with the dead and who may not be the fraud that she seems.

All of this is being told to us by an unidentified Narrator,who promises that not every thing he says is the absolute truth or that he expects the reader to believe him at all. Nevertheless,he persists on telling this tale and his true loyalties
stay concealed until the proper time and place presents itself for revelation.

Jonathan Barnes is clearly a fan of Victorian literature and gothic style,which he uses as a template to create his own uniquely strange story and colorful characters. While most readers of that genre,along with sci-fi and fantasy fans,will be able to spot the influences,it's very hard to tell just what will become of Moon as he plunders deep into the twists and turns of the plot and you eagerly turn the pages to follow him as devotely as his friend,the ever silent Somnambulist,in pursuit of
a rather riveting conclusion.

The Somnambulist is not a book to sleepwalk your way thru;it requires you to be as nimble and engaged with the book as it's characters are and rewards you with a very entertaining and smartly polished read.

The book is now available at a bookseller near you and for all of you folks with Kindles and other e-book readers,a handy tip: Eos,the science fiction and fantasy branch of Harpercollins is offering free downloads of some of their current titles as part of their 10th anniversary. Check out their official website for more details.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

PR's Chris Vs. Rami showdown,American Idol swings into the '70s,and Square Pegs will be on DVD!

Part one of Project Runway's season finale aired last night and dealt mostly with the Chris March/Rami runway walk-off that would ultimately decide who would get the coveted spot in the Final Three. Interestingly enough,both fellas chose to showcase the darker outfits in their collections;guess they felt the need to be dramatic here in order to really wow the judges.

Tim Gunn was a tad freaked out(along with Heidi,later on)about Chris using human hair as trim,telling him that he had "been in the monkey house" for way too long. In my opinion,it didn't look bad to me and no doubt that the folks at PETA will be thrilled that he didn't use fur.

I loved what Chris did there-yes,it was costumey but as Nina pointed out,many costume designers have gone on to become very successful fashion designers(*cough* Bob Mackie*cough*). His clothes were meant to be,in his words,"glam Goth" and they had a great Addams Family as 1920s flappers vibe to them.

True,his clothes were not the most commercial or practical but I honestly believe that they were supposed to be couture looks,not ready to wear items. The judges did praise him for his creativity and daring use of style,as well as appreciate a lot of the hard work that Chris did,like making an entire skirt from black chrome safety pins(each layer taking about eight hours!).

In the end,however,it was Rami who was given the nod from the judges to be in the Final Three. Rami did atleast show that he could do more than drape(his best dress out of the three that he presented was draped,tho)and his outfits were fashionably designed and made with a easy to sell style. That coat was way overdone,the collar appeared to be strangling the model at times and as Nina pointed out,it had too much volume.

Well, congrats to Rami and better luck to you in all of your future endeavors,Chris. You really can't say that Chris March didn't get a fair shake at this competition(despite the less than enthusiastic reception that he seemed to get from the judges and Tim Gunn on a few occasions)and he took his loss very well.

Chris was genuinely cordial in wishing Rami and the others the best,and rather good natured about the way things turned out,even surprised at all of the "love that the universe" is sending him. Hey,being a good guy on a reality competition show is a rare sight to see,my friend. It's no wonder to me that folks have taken a shine to you and that you will get some leg ups on your road to fashion fame and fortune.

Next week is the Bryant Park showdown and it should be pretty fierce;some of those numbers that Christian is planning to unleash are going to make Chris' hair trimmed clothes appear tame by comparison!

American Idol had the guys and gals sing tunes from the 1970s and once again,I was more impressed by the ladies. The girls weren't perfect by any means(I'll get to that in a moment)but it's easier for me to recall their names and remember what they actually sang. From the fellas,I can quickly name Danny Noriega and David Achuleta,who wowed everyone with his rendition of John Lennon's "Imagine".

Also,I've been noticing certain wardrobe choices by Paula during these rounds. When it's the guys' night,she has on outfits that show some skin and flaunt the girls,if you know what I mean. For the girls,Paula puts on very buttoned up tops,as if she wishes to look like a Prim and Proper Miss on the panel. Paula,please,ok? Don't be so desperate there.

I had to give this week's Sanjaya award to a contestant on both sides this week;first up is Luke Menard for serving us a severely bland and cheesy version of Queen's "Killer Queen". We have Constantine to blame for opening the door to AI singers attempting Freddie Mercury songs. Dude,unless you can sing like Mika,don't even go there:



And for the girls,it's Kady Malloy who takes the Sanjaya home for fumbling her way thru Heart's "Magic Man". She wasn't the only girl to slip and fall on her song but after giving it a serious re-listen,Kady stuck out like a sore thumb. She sounded like Mumbles from Dick Tracy during the first verse and never got into the right groove to make this song work.

While Kady has a good opera voice,"Magic Man" was way out of her league. That song is like verbal gymnastics,you have to able to start off slow and sultry and then work your way up to the fireworks towards the end. Instead,this wound up blowing up in her face,big time:



Other ladies had tough turns on the show,such as Syesha's remake of "Me and Mrs, Jones" but Simon was right,it's not a song written or scored for a woman's voice. She gave it a game go,but the dice rolled snake eyes for her. Brooke did a good job with Carly Simon's "You're so vain" and her range for that type of song is like the porridge that Goldilocks chose,but,she's too damn nice to be truly convincing. Carly Simon has a bitter worldiness in her tone that accents the song with more conviction.

One of my favorites,Amanda the Rock N' Roll Nurse,didn't do so well with her take on "Carry On,Wayward Son" but I refuse to give up on her. She and Carly Smithson are two of the reasons that I have any rooting interest in Idol this season and unless they get voted off,I will still be cheering for the them to go all the way:



Random Notes:

Square Pegs: The cult teen comedy sitcom is finally coming out on DVD,with a tentative release date of May 20,timed to tied in nicely with co-star Sarah Jessica Parker's Sex In The City big screen film version hitting the theaters.

As an old school fan of the show,I'm happy to hear this news. Hopefully,there will be some good extras available-so far,there's only word of a SJP interview and a couple of "mini-sodes" but you can always make your own fun by playing "Spot the future famous actor/actress!" or a drinking game for each dated '80s reference that pops up.

The Soup: E!'s Friday night mockfest is a must-see for me and if you think it's just another one of those goofy clip shows,think again. Check out this skit that the channel was too timid to show on the air but is right on target,plus damn funny to boot. Reminds me of a few of Trevor Moore's sketches with kids:

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

March into April with these sweet Spring Reads

As the winter months are starting to draw to a close,it's time to prepare for the delights of spring and an important part of that is clearing some space for all of the tempting new books that will be blooming on bookshelves everywhere.

I know some of you might be saying"But I haven't even started on the books that I got as gifts over the holidays!" That's no excuse for slacking off and if you haven't cashed in any of those gift cards you were given either,here are plenty of suggestions on what to spend them on. After all,it'll be a few more weeks before those new episodes of your favorite TV shows are back(months for some) and you can use that time to support a few other writers who are just as eager to entertain you.


Chinese food has become a major component of the American culinary landscape,like hot dogs,apple pie and pizza. However,there's more to this traditional take out food than meets the eye and New York Times reporter Jennifer 8. Lee explores the origins and the impact that Chinese food has had upon America and the world with The Fortune Cookie Chronicles
,due out on March 3.

Lee gets into every angle and unique detail surrounding Chinese food such as who started the practice of slipping restaurant menus under people's doors,what inspired the creation of chop suey and General Tso's chicken and where fortune cookies really come from. You won't order take out in the same casual way again after feasting on this delicious read.


We're getting a bountiful bouquet of sequels this spring and one that many folks will be quick to sample will be The Girl With No Shadow
by Joanne Harris,the long awaited follow-up to her richly sweet novel,Chocolat.

Here,Vianne and her daughters Anouk and Rosette are now living in Paris with a new chocolate shop but much less flamboyant than before. Into their calm lives,a lively new stranger named Zozie,wearing lollipop-red shoes, blows into town and stirs up troubles old and new. The sweet showdown should something to see(April).

Alittle more down to earth is Tony Earley's sequel to Jim The Boy,which follows Jim Glass into the wilds of adolescence and towards the rocky path to love with The Blue Star.

Jim is deeply in love with childhood classmate Chrissie Steppe,who is particularly the property of the Bucklaw clan that holds financial sway over her family and whose son Bucky has claimed her as his own. Chrissie is expected to wait for him until he gets out of the Navy,which has stationed him at Pearl Harbor. Earley's old fashioned style of writing is timeless and yet timely all at once(March).

Last but certainly not least is Certain Girls,which is a return to Jennifer Weiner's heroine Cannie Shapiro who was first introduced to us in Weiner's debut novel Good In Bed. This time,Cannie shares the spotlight with her newly teenaged daughter Joy,who wants to connect more with her birth father's side of the family.

As someone who happily discovered the witty world of Jennifer Weiner thru my selection of "lunch time reading" ARCs at work,I am truly thrilled about getting the chance to be reacquainted with a character that I consider to be a secret sister and an old,dear friend who I would love to catch up on things with(April).


In Catherine Delors' debut novel,Mistress of the Revolution,a young girl named Gabrielle is thrust into the midst of the French Revolution and torn between marrying an aging nobleman out of duty to her family and going off with Pierre-Andre,the commoner she truly loves.

The situation gets even more complicated when Gabrielle is captured during the Reign of Terror in Paris and to be judged by the Revolutionary Tribunal,which has her former first love as one of it's members. Talk about your awkward romantic reunions,indeed!(March)

Sally Gunning's Bound deals with the days of indentured servants of early America thru the eyes of Alice Cole,who became bound at a young age in order to pay off her father's debts while traveling to the colonies. Alice is now fifteen and her service to the Morton family has been pleasant ,especially since she is best friends with daughter Nobby.

Nobby's new marriage,however,slides into chaos and instead of being caught in the crossfire,Alice decides to run away and seek a new life for herself. She finds some new friends and a new home but her past is determined to catch up with her. Alice must discover not only legal recourse but where she wishes to set her sails for,in her heart(April).


Elizabeth Strout would like to introduce you to one of the most influential and infuriating townsfolk of Crosby,Maine,Olive Kitteridge,whose tale is told by thirteen different members of her community.

Olive is a retired schoolteacher who is less than thrilled about the changes to her world,along with her long suffering husband Henry,their grown up son Christopher and others like former student Kevin Coulson,who shares a few past regrets of his own.
Strout has steadily become a literary force to be reckoned with and this unique blend of short story and novel should make more people sit up and take notice(March 25).

A dazzling new debut novel has a collage of stories featuring the trials and tribulations of a young southern debutante,Sarah Walters,as she and her friends face life after college in New York in Katie Crouch's Girls In Trucks.

Sarah and her longtime gal pals Charlotte,Bitsy and Anne(who first joined forces as enrollees at the Charleston Cotillion Training School)take on bad relationships, family secrets and unexpected challenges in life with strong emotional bonds of friendship and sly wit. Sounds like the perfect book club pick to me(April).


In Jack O'Connell's genre twisting novel,The Resurrectionist,a druggist named Sweeney seeks a cure for his son Danny,who is the victim of an accident that has left him in a persistent coma.

While awaiting for results at the mysterious Peck Clinic,Sweeney feels that the key to reviving his child may be in the fantasy comic book world called Limbo that Danny was reading around the time of his accident. Dealing with the intrigues hovering about the doings at Peck Clinic as well as striving to save his son,Sweeney's quest insists upon the reader keeping up to speed and on their toes(April).

Jane Kotapish dives into the murky waters of mother/daughter relationships in her debut novel Salvage that has a traumatized Manhattanite retreat to her family's homestead in Virginia to avoid her demons of the past and present.

Sharing in her sorrows is her mother,Lois,who's been having conversations for years with the ghost of her dead sister Nancy. As Lois,a lively woman with an unusual taste in men,starts to let her madness conquer her,her daughter must figure out a way for both of them to connect to each other before it's too late. A bittersweet look at the nature of female family love(March).

I hope that I have found a little something for everyone to enjoy and that this spring season brings us plenty of hope and happy reading.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

PBS Pride & Prejudice profile: Favorite Supporting Characters

To wrap up our look at the best loved Jane Austen adaptation of our time,the 1995 Pride and Prejudice miniseries which was a prime time feature on PBS' Masterpiece series,The Complete Jane Austen,I thought it would be fun to highlight a few of the less prominent players in this story whose contributions to the plot and to the development of the leading man and lady's character,key to enjoying this timeless tale of love and honor.


I know that's become fashionable amongst many to champion the cause of Mrs. Bennet,the ever worrying mother of the Bennet girls who faces a real challenge of the time period in getting any of her daughters well married before the death of her husband and the entailment of his estate leaves the lot of them in the lurch.

However,the woman works on my nerves(as much as her own always seem to be)and she does her girls no favors with her hysterics and pushy behavior in public,giving off some very bad first impressions in deed. Therefore,I much prefer the company of Mr. Bennet and find him to be my favorite father figure in Austen's cannon.

His wit and good humor,along with an appreciation for sensible thinking,are not the only things to recommend him. His strong and loving relationship with Elizabeth is what really endears him to me. Many fathers in that day and age might've treated their daughters as a chip off the old block but a good many of them would've made her marry Mr. Collins just to keep the peace in the family. Also,when Elizabeth's engagement to Darcy is announced,her father has a serious heart to heart talk with her about her real feelings on the matter-"let me not see you be unable to respect your partner in life"-such love and concern combined with wanting a better married life for his daughter is touching to see.

Mr. Bennet is not without his faults-his sharp wit towards his wife and three younger daughters cuts too close at times(Jane and Lizzy are his only girls to avoid bearing the blunt of his snarking most of the time)and his lackadaisical approach to life is partly to blame for Lydia's wild romp in Brighton. To his credit,he does acknowledge his guilt in these matters(plus,he credits Elizabeth for trying to give him a heads up well in advance)and is determined to do better in the future or until Kitty runs away,which ever comes first:

Nevertheless,I still honor and respect Mr. Bennet as one of the better paternal figures in the literary sphere. In some ways,he reminds me of my own father,who passed away a few years ago. He didn't retreat to a home library but he did have an art studio that was as much his private domain as Mr. Bennet's book room is to him. I'm sure that the two of them would get along famously.


The snobbish sister of Mr. Bingley,teamed up with her married sister,Mrs, Hurst,is a classic example of a "frenemy"-a woman who sneeringly professes to find Jane Bennet a "dear,sweet girl" yet can not resist any chance she gets to badmouth her and her family behind closed doors. Her main object in life is to ensnare the affections of Mr. Darcy(a worthy goal indeed)yet she doesn't recognize the fact that her cattiness towards others is what truly makes her unattractive to him.

Elizabeth becomes her main target of derision,since Miss Bingley is sensible enough to see her as a rival for Darcy's attentions. Lizzy finds her to be just as repulsive as Darcy does at times but is more open about her dislike,especially during the Netherfield ball when Miss Bingley's "kindly meant" comments about Wickam rub her the wrong way:

The fact that Miss Bingley turned out to be right about Wickam does her no credit,since as Lizzy rightfully points out that her main opposition to him is due to his parentage. I have no doubt that Miss Bingley did eventually find someone to marry but most likely,her spouse was only a step or two above her sister Hurst's dull drunkard of a husband. Poor Miss Bingley.


Proof positive that the Bennets do have some relatives with sense and decorum,even if they live in Cheapside(a very good recommendation for that nieghborhood is their residing in it),Aunt and Uncle Gardiner are very welcome visitors indeed. Their helpfulness and attentiveness towards the needs of the eldest Bennet girls to venture outside of their small society shows them to be good role models and proper guides for young people to experience life in a wholesome way. Too bad they couldn't have attended Lydia in Brighton!

Inadvertently,they become cupids to Lizzy and Darcy's romance,by having the good fortune to visit Pemberley with Elizabeth in tow just as Darcy arrives back home but not before Darcy's housekeeper gives the party a tour of the place and confirms his character to be much better than previously supposed:


He's right up there with Uriah Heep in the Top Ten list of fictional toadies,with his endless preening over the priviledge of being patronized by the "right honorable" Lady Catherine De Bourgh and his fickle devotion to any other woman on the planet. After all,he only courted Lizzie after hearing that Jane was taken and not long afterwards,did he propose to Charlotte Lucas when Lizzie flatly refused him. Way to take one for the team there,Charlotte!

With his exaggerated pompous airs,his need to "flatter himself" and his complete lack of a sense of humor,or true social graces, Mr. Collins turns out to be more of an object to be pitied rather than derided at times:

Even with his eventual inheriting of Longbourn,it is hard to imagine that Mr. Collins would ever truly part from the side of Lady Catherine and Rosings. No doubt,a caretaker would be hired to keep track of the estate. Perhaps Charlotte finds an excuse to visit the place and encourages him to stay home to see to Lady Catherine's wishes(and is successful in that as she is in encouraging him to spend time in his garden and walk to Rosings every day). If awards were given out to those who devote their life to keeping such a foolish fellow out of real mischief,Charlotte Lucas Collins deserves to be first in line.


It would be a rather risky undertaking of any observer of P&P to not give Her Ladyship her right and proper due to this story-she must have her share of the conversation! Her arrogance,her overbearing nature and her determination to always be the center of attention and the perceived fount of wisdom and regard is vast enough to fill all of Rosings Park and Pemberley to the brim with noxious fumes to pollute them both creditably.

Her best moments of fury occur when she clashes with Elizabeth-it's not hard to see where Darcy gets his taste for forthright women from-and the big confrontation at Longbourn is one of the most loved bits of the book and any film version of P&P. Upon hearing about Jane's upcoming nuptials to Bingley and the rumors that Lizzie and Darcy may follow suit,Lady Catherine insists on calling Elizabeth out to explain herself.

I've always thought of it as a duel fought with drawn swords. Lady Catherine throws down the gauntlet,so to speak,by showing up uninvited and having their conversation out of doors. Lizzie is more than able to parry and thrust her wit and indignation towards this direct assault and the battle for Darcy is as tense as any in Kill Bill,volume one or two:

Perhaps Lady Catherine was able to reconcile with the Darcys and accept their wedded bliss. If not,she certainly was the poorer for it.

We'll have to wait awhile for another Austen installment from PBS,as the Andrew Davies adaptation of Emma will be broadcast on March 23. It's definitely worth keeping your patience for,since it is ,in my opinion,one of the best versions of Emma ever made.

Part of that is due to the delightful cast,with Olivia Williams(seen most recently as Jane Austen herself in Miss Austen Regrets),Samantha Morton as the hapless Harriet Smith and Kate Beckinsale as Emma,teamed up with Mark Strong who makes the perfect Mr. Knightley for her:

Monday, February 25, 2008

While there was no blood,the 2008 Oscars did prove to be no country for dull men

Last night's Oscar show was one of the better nights of Hollywood hoopla that we've had in awhile. Jon Stewart was very funny(loved that bit where they came back from commercial and he was using the big screen to play Wii),alot of deserving folks won and the broadcast didn't feel like it was ten hours long. In fact,the awards were being given out at a pretty good clip;by ten o'clock,Best Actress was being announced. Nice going,Academy!

Congrats are in order to Marion Cotillard for Best Actress,Diablo Cody for Best Original Screenplay(not to mention rocking the leopard print fierce)and the songwriter/singers of "Falling Slowly" for Best Song as first time Oscar winners. While I wasn't a big fan of that tune,seeing those two win was a nice Cinderella story come to life and kudos to Jon Stewart for having Marketa Irglova come back out to give her acceptance speech. These time limits given to the winners to talk can be rather draconian,I swear!

One of the highpoints of the night was seeing Daniel Day-Lewis win Best Actor but whoever talked his wife into wearing that bloody beribboned nightmare of a dress should be taken into a dark bowling alley for some mean milkshake metaphors.

There weren't any really bad outfits to speak of,or too much wackiness of the unexpected kind. Gary Busey appeared to be getting rowdy on the red carpet but someone must've corralled him before he got into the Kodak Theater. I felt bad for Jennifer Garner,she got the drunken uncle at the wedding treatment from him:

The Coen brothers cleaned up nicely,with No Country For Old Men picking up several awards,including Best Adapted Screenplay,Best Director and Best Picture,along with Javier Bardem getting Best Supporting Actor. I haven't seen NCFOM yet(not for lacking of trying)but have had it on my Netflix queue ever since I learned of it's release date(March 11)and am even more enthused in watching than I was earlier.

I do wish that There Will Be Blood had gotten a few more Oscars under it's belt,yet I can't really begrudge the Coens their success. They've put out a lot of good work over the years and are worthy adversaries to give way to in such a competition:

Like I said,there's not much to complain about here but I do think that "Happy Working Song" should've had a production number to back it up(after all,the other two Enchanted songs did,and were showcased to much better advantage for it). Amy Adams was lovely ,but it was rather obvious that her song was a book number and not a breakaway pop hit.

So,thank you ,Academy Awards, for giving us a awards show that was actually worth talking about. Hopefully,there'll be some more spice and silly clothing choices to chortle over next year but given the hasty circumstances in which you had only so much time to finish your prep work,I think you guys should give yourselves a round of applause. Also,thanks for selecting some damn fine movies for folks to choose from instead of the usual Oscar bait fare:

Friday, February 22, 2008

Lauren Groff warns you that here there be The Monsters of Templeton

On the day that archeology student Wilhelmina "Willie" Upton returns to her home town of Templeton,NY,the corpse of a giant water monster is discovered in the local lake. Quite the event to upstage the news that Willie has to give to her hippy dippy mother, Vi-that Willie is pregnant,thanks to an affair on a major dig in Alaska with her married professor which seems to be at an end.

Vi has some news of her own to tell Willie;not only has she become religious,but the truth about Willie's parentage. For years,Willie was told that her father was one of three men whom Vi had had a tryst with in San Francisco but it turns out that her father is actually a Templeton resident,with a wife and children of his own. Vi refuses to name him but does give her a hint,that Willie's father shares a common ancestry with the Uptons as one of the descendants of Marmaduke Temple,the town's founder.

Armed with this knowledge and in need of something to focus on instead of worrying about the impending life choices she has to make,Willie goes in search of her father and digs up plenty of family history. It appears that there is more that one branch of Temple lineage to investigate,since Marmaduke had a son by one of his slaves,Hetty Averell,and that both sections of the family tree have been intertwined for decades.

While Willie is deep in research mode,the answer that she seeks may be right under her nose amongst the group of jogging men known as The Running Buds. The Buds have been like unofficial uncles to Willie over the years and she shares their love of running and possibly a bit of DNA as well.

Lauren Groff's Templeton is a fictional version of her home town of Cooperstown and the things that Cooperstown are best known for(such as the Baseball Museum and being the homestead of James Fenimore Cooper)have been neatly woven into the novel,along with a number of "family" photos,journals,letters and various references to Cooper's novels. Even if you've never read,or finished,any of the books by James Fenimore Cooper,that won't prevent you from devouring the compelling gothic delights of this story.

Groff deftly blends a modern sensibility and a firm grasp of early American narrative style in creating her characters,both of the past and present. The atmosphere that slowly builds up around the reader, as more and more secrets and lies come to the surface,makes the book quite a page turner. The Monsters of Templeton may be a first novel but one hopes that this is not the last time we get such a bounty of riches from Lauren Groff's vivid imagination.

The Monsters of Templeton is now available at a bookseller near you and my fervent wish is that as many folks as possible take a chance and discover this wonderful new read. As I write this,snow is falling fast outside my window and the best thing that I could give to any of my fellow snowbound neighbors would be an excellent novel such as this to cozy up with on such a winter's day.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Project Runway S4 reunion,Nip/Tuck's dicey finale and American Idol starts off the songfest with the sixties on the jukebox

Project Runway(like many other Bravo reality series)tends to put on a reunion just before the finale,in order to drag out the season and the suspension a little further. Now,I know there are plenty of places online which would give me all of the juicy details regarding who is ultimately in or out but I prefer to have the illusion of being surprised,so no finale spoilers from me!

Anyway,on to the reunion and the first order of business is a big congrats to Christian for winning the Fan Favorite contest. I was hoping that Chris March would get that ten grand instead but since I didn't even vote(shame on me),I can't really complain here. Christian may be annoying at times but the guy does have personality,which goes a long way as Jules Winfield would put it more succinctly than I ever could.

Christian got his check from last season's FF winner,Michael Knight who is doing very well since the show and is about to come out with his first fragrance. Nice going there,Michael! Good luck with that and in all that you do.

The rest of the reunion was mostly about watching highlight reels of scenes from the cutting room floor,like the major giggle fest that hit Michael Kors during the WWE Divas challenge(who could blame him,that whole thing was surreal)and answering some viewer and designer questions like how is Jack doing(he's OK,spent five days in the hospital and his infection clearly up quickly),what do the judges write on their cards(quick impressions,plus they rate the outfits from 1 to 5)and who was upset the most by what others had to say about them(Carmen was peeved about comments made after she departed).

Next week will be the finale,which will start off with Chris March and Rami having their fashion showdown before everyone goes to Bryant Park. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for Chris,but we shall see soon enough who wins the sew-off.

Nip/Tuck has had some wild finales before,but this one is a doozy. Where to start..well,Julia didn't die from Eden's gunshot but she now has "retrograde amnesia",by far the oldest soap opera plot stalling trick in the book.

Matt's intended affair with his half sister Emmy got busted wide open by her mom Darlene,who teamed up with Christian to put a halt to those disturbing passion proceedings right quick. Those two crazy kids have split up for now but there was a little bit of an open door left open there,which I for one would like to slam shut. Christian had one of the best lines of the night regarding the whole freak show mess:

The capper was the gruesome end to the Colleen affair;she hounded Sean at his office and on the set of Hearts N' Scalpels despite a restraining order,blaming him for her slit wrists and unhappy existence. She even stuffed the body of Agent Bear in his closet(just as people were seriously starting to miss him)and the cops thought that she had hide tailed it off to Mexico.

Alas,no such luck. During an operation on daughter Annie(who was injured in a car accident with Christian,thanks to the paparazzi swarming all over them in traffic),guess who showed up to give a literal demonstration of back stabbing? Do you kids need a word bank?:

Well,that's quite a cliffhanger there,wouldn't you say,gang? I don't know how long it will be until we get more of Nip/Tuck but they sure as hell have to come back to let us know if Sean survives! Yes,he's one of the leads which usually means that he'll get to live but this show lives for the weird and the unexpected,so no guarantees on that cliche there.

American Idol had the Top 12 guys and gals choose songs/artists from the 1960s and like last year,it was the ladies who had the better night.

The fellas are decent enough but no real standouts here,in my opinion. I also didn't think that Danny Noriega's version of "Jailhouse Rock" was that bad. It certainly sounded better than I expected. He was much better than the other guy who attempted to do an Elvis song,that's for sure:

However good the girls were,amongst them was this season's first winner of the Sanjaya Award for worst performance. Amy Davis sang the Connie Francis classic"Where the Boys Are",which was bad enough to drive away both the boys and the girls from all corners of the planet.

It was so tedious that her song seemed to go on forever and a day. It was so bad that Randy kept mentioning Patsy Cline and country music,which made no sense to me since a) it's a Connie Francis song and b),Connie was a pop singer! In fact,it was Connie's signature song,a bad choice all around:



There were some great tunes,such as Amanda"Rock N' Roll Nurse"Overmeyer,who was wearing a pair of jeans that Christian from PR would've declared "fierce",Brooke White who did a song that one of the guys had sung the other night(and did it much better)and Carly Smithson.

Let me say this about the whole Carly controversy;this whole notion that American Idol is strictly an amateur competition is a total myth. It's an old wives's tale of a notion like that Lana Turner was discovered at a soda fountain or that if you kill a spider,it brings rain(I wouldn't kill a spider anyway,but I digress). All Idol demands is that any of the contestants not be under contact to any recording company during the competition. That's it! Get over it,please!





Random Notes

NEW AMSTERDAM: The Fox promo tease show about an immortal cop who seeks his true love in New York has now been given an official premiere date of March 10. It will have a couple of preview showings on March 3 and 6th,and I sincerely hope that it will be worth the wait.

My sister asked me during one of the promos if the leading man was Nathan Fillon and while there is a slight resemblance,the answer is a resounding "no". The gentleman's name is Nikolai Coster-Waldau,who has appeared in a number of Danish flicks and a few American ones like Kingdom of Heaven and Firewall. With any luck,this show might get him a shot at some better films to put on his resume.

THE RICHES: Season two will be starting up on March 18 and I can hardly wait. The Pinocchio ad campaign they have been using is very amusing,much more than those Dirt cheesy cartoon commercials with the bad puns. A little subtlety goes a long way,folks!: