Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
especially welcome to extensive readers

Monday, May 31, 2010

Pick up some popcorn for those summer blockbusters at a book store near you

For most of us,summer begins on Memorial Day weekend and while Hollywood tempts you with big shiny tent pole movies that may or may not give you all the bang for your buck that you deserve,there is one place that has tons of entertainment up for grabs at your fingertips,with a low tech price tag to boot.

Yes,I'm talking about books again,the old school print kinds that fit right into your beach bag with no need for batteries or recharging of any sort. Just some good light and a quiet spot to relax in is all that's necessary to take a thrill ride of the imagination without worrying about people using their cellphones during the best part of the show:


There's been plenty of buzz about The Passage,due out next week,that I fear may turn off those who instinctively shun books/movies/TV shows that receive such early acclaim. While I completely understand that reaction(something I've done myself quite a bit)and it can be a good call at times,this is not one of them,folks.

Justin Cronin really did a spectacular job with this novel,using familiar tropes about post apocalyptic times and the blending of the supernatural with science to create an amazing original story that moves your heart as it thrills your other senses. Trust me,this is one book that you won't be burned on. The author is planning to write two more and the time to get on this bandwagon is now:


Also arriving next week is the latest literary monster mash from Quirk Classics,which gives zombies a much needed rest for this round.

Android Karenina has Leo Tolstoy's melodrama mixed up with the steampunk stylings of Ben Winter,who gave us the fearsome fishy follies of Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters.

Whether this is a well known and loved story in your personal library or a brand new realm of reading to you,this reinvented tale of star crossed lovers and their robotic companions should fulfill your summer reading requirements rather satirically and satisfactorily as well:


Nelson DeMille brings back one of his best leading men, former NYPD Detective John Corey,to face off on an old enemy looking for payback. The Lion has Corey and his Anti Terrorist Task Force dealing with Asad Khalil,who is determined to take John down along with anyone else who gets in the way.

It's surprising that the John Corey books haven't been adapted for either the big or small screen(then again,after seeing how The General's Daughter turned out,that may be a blessing)but if I had to choose,TV might be the best bet. The quality of actors being drawn to the media these days,plus more time allotted to the plot line,would serve such intricate story telling skills like DeMille's to a T:


Jacqueline Carey sends us the second volume in her new series,Naamah's Curse,that has our heroine traveling to distant lands in search of her intended soul mate and battling all sorts of obstacles in her path such as vicious rulers,armies of assassins and jealous romantic rivals.

One of the things I love about exploring fantasy fiction is discovering all of these magical warrior women who put up just as good,or even greater,fight as the men. Some may be on the side of darkness instead of protectors of the light but you have to admit that they certainly know how to make their girl power known:


Author Lauren Belfer follows up her 1999 historical mystery City of Light with a WWII thriller that has all of the ingredients of a classic old school Hollywood film.

A Fierce Radiance has magazine photographer Claire Shipley cover a story about a new advancement in medical science that leads her down a dangerous road where pharmaceutical companies slug it out for control of this new cure as war draws closer and ruthless efforts are made that threaten not only Claire but the new man in her life, Dr.James Stanton.

If Hitchcock were still with us today,I think he'd jump at the chance to make this into one of his suspense laden movie marvels. Oh,well,no harm in imaging how the book would be through his eyes,now is there?:

If you're looking for literary entertainment that's just as huge in scope as any of the action packed 3D offerings at the multiplex this season,you can't do wrong with one of these reads. Don't get wrong,folks;I love a good popcorn picture but sometimes you're better off sticking to a good book rather than a over the top movie whose flaws you'll still be complaining about,long after it leaves the theaters:

Friday, May 28, 2010

A few of LRG's favorite fictional characters

The latest double issue of Entertainment Weekly has their list of the 100 Greatest Characters(from movies,TV,books and even video games)from the past twenty years. That last part is crucial,as it limits the selection of fictional folks quite a bit here.

There are plenty of picks that many will agree are excellent(Buffy the Vampire Slayer,the Gilmore Girls,Harry Potter)and some that will result in serious fan debate(Lara Croft,Spongebob,the couple from The Notebook). While this is a topic subject to personal preferences,we here at LRG would like to offer for your amusement our addendum which adds ten more names to this roster and even tho several of them have resumes that go back further than twenty years,their influence upon today's pop culture citizens is still as current as Crazy Bands,but hopefully much more relevant:

10) Hit Girl

She's the new kid on the block,so last place is hers only due to a technicality. Despite the mixed reactions to the offbeat comic book based film Kick-Ass,the one thing that everyone who walked away from that movie remembers best is Hit Girl,aka Mindy Macready,the violently precocious pre-teen who takes to her lessons in bad guy smackdowns from her vigilante parent,Big Daddy,like a duck to water.

Hit Girl may not be the ideal little girl role model,but she's one gal who can more than take care of business when need be. Her impact on the cinematic scene has turned her into an instant girl power icon,with her potential future influence on females in comics making her star status go to number one with a bullet:

9) Homey the Clown

Out of the numerous skits that Damon Wayans headlined on the comedy sketch series In Living Color,one of his best known and beloved creations is Homey D Clown,that disgruntled ex-con who took to his post parole career as a children's entertainer on his own terms.

No matter what the setting or the circumstances,anyone who assumed that they were dealing with just another clown got a smack from Homey's sock ,followed by the less than gentle reminder,"Homey don't play that", that brought them back in line with the program. It's a good thing that ILC characters weren't made into substandard major motion pictures since the delights of a cranky clown like Homey are best enjoyed in snappy skit bites:

8) Mr. Blonde

Quentin Tarantino's breakthrough crime caper film,Reservoir Dogs,is a brilliant ensemble piece but when you think of that movie the one character that pops immediately into your mind is Mr. Blonde,the seemingly calm,cool and collected member of the gang that could turn his laid back smile into a sneer of menace on a dime.

His deadly dance of evil glee as he tortures the poor captive policeman is one of the most memorable moments in the film,made even stronger by his detached dealings with his fellow small time crooks earlier on. While hints of his back story crop up during side scenes, the dark depths of this sinister sociopath with a killer smile could never be fathomed at first glance,even by those who thought they knew him best. Michael Madsen has done other roles over the years(including another Tarantino stint in Kill Bill)but Mr. Blonde may just be the best part he's ever played:

7) Michael Scott

The American version of the U.K. comedy The Office has taken on a life of it's own,especially with the characters and mainly Dunder Mifflin regional manager Michael Scott.

He is both the worst person in the world to work for,with his inappropriate humor and endless need for attention,plus his blending of personal and work issues,and also a great guy to have in charge ,due to his sharp salesman skills,good yet seriously misguided intentions towards his staff and superiors,plus surprisingly moments of empathic clarity.

Whether you love to hate or hate to love him,it's hard to resist the sadly sweet charms of Michael Scott(that's what she said!):

6) Mr. Spock

Star Trek fans may battle over which captain was the best,yet all of them respect the authority of Spock,the constantly logical second in command of the U.S.S. Enterprise. Despite his reserved nature,Spock's struggles with his human and Vulcan heritage made him very identifiable to audiences sharing the same social dilemma in their own lives.

The recent big screen remake of the original ST series had well chosen newcomer Zachary Quinto and revered TV icon Leonard Nimoy playing different yet similar versions of Spock,quite the perfect combo of past and present depictions of the character there. Of course,many people still prefer the team play between Spock and Kirk,a classic buddy act that sometimes had to hurt in order to help each other out:

5) Charlie Brown

The enduring legacy of Charles M. Schulz's comic strip alter ego has been acknowledged from many corners and yet,good old Charlie Brown is vastly under appreciated. Without his steady straight man abilities,the more lively members of the Peanuts gang would quickly descend into chaos,clamoring over who would take center stage.

Charlie's sad sack yet cautiously hopeful persona has been the template for many a live action character such as Ross Geller on Friends,eager magazine intern Ugly Betty and most of the guys on The Big Bang Theory. His emotional misery and the fruitless attempts to boost his ego(thanks to trusting the likes of Lucy and other dubious problem solvers)have made our own set of insecurities something worth smiling about:

4) Tara Thornton

When Charlaine Harris' Southern Vampire novels were turned into the HBO series True Blood,one of the pivotal changes to the basic source material was the expansion of supporting player Tara(who doesn't appear until the second book)as the bold talking best friend of Sookie Stackhouse,the mind reading waitress with a fondness for gentlemanly vamps.

Along with her flamboyant cousin Lafayette,Tara took on a life of her own on the show with her fierce loyalties and forthright nature. Tara's greatest weakness is her strength,which puts up emotional walls between those who want to love her and made her vulnerable to the magical manipulation of mad maenad Maryann last season. Regardless of where you meet her,Tara certainly leaves one hell of a first and last impression on people:

3) Jo March

I have a theory about any set of four female characters called the Little Women placement standard,where each one is based upon the personas of Louisa May Alcott's classic set of sisters. Jo March has many followers in her footsteps,from the wise cracking Dorothy on Golden Girls to SATC's Carrie Bradshaw.

Jo's determination to achieve her literary dreams while still being a loving and supportive sibling/friend/romantic partner is a balancing act that many of us strive to find the right balance for. With the recent revival of interest in Alcott's work,a new version of Jo may be waiting in the wings ready to set the world on fire with her passion for life:

2) Scarlett O'Hara

The heroine of Gone with the Wind may seem to be too old school and politically incorrect to be a prominent influence but let's face it,folks;Scarlett is the ultimate diva and frenemy extraordinaire.

From the big shouldered days of Dynasty to the current curdled cream of the crop socialites on Gossip Girl,this spoiled southern belle who used all of the feminine wiles in her arsenal to claw her way back to the top after her privileged world fell apart is particularly the patron saint of lovable bitches. Not even the cut her down to size antics of Rhett Butler could take Scarlett down,not for long anyway:

1) Elizabeth Bennet

No matter which one of Jane Austen's heroines you love the best,it always comes back to Lizzie,the darling of her father's sardonic eye and stubbornly sweet girl who catches the emotionally distant Darcy with her fine eyes.

Most female Austen fans want to be her,whether she's lost in time and space or battling the undead with her sisters giggling along side. Regardless of how the times may change,Elizabeth Bennet will maintain her place as one of the greatest characters the world has ever known:

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Glee's Gaga show,TC Masters clash of the culinary titans and our new American Idol winner is...

We're down to the Final Five on Top Chef Masters and the Quickfire challenge for this round was a true test of superior senses as the remaining chefs went one on one to taste a variety of sauces and see who could name more of the ingredients. Victory went to Rick Moonan,who received more money for his charity but not an advantage for the Elimination challenge.

The challenge was to make a meal based on the Greek Gods,with everyone drawing knives to see who they would get. Susur Lee wound up with Dionysus,the god of wine and proceed to whine about finding something suitable to cook for quite some time. Honestly,with all the wine related recipes out there,this should've been a snap.

Susur's dish of roasted pork loin cooked in Chinese wine with a feta croquette and olives turned out well but as judge Gael Greene pointed out,this was hardly the decadent type of edible offering that the deity himself would wolf down over a nice bottle of whatever was on hand. Susur is so uptight about everything,maybe he needs a visit from the party gods to mellow him out a bit.

Rick Moonen,on the other hand,was pleased as punch over getting Hades,lord of the underworld and he literally went around cackling with wicked glee as he prepared a plate of spice encrusted swordfish,crimson potatoes and a mixture of root vegetables(which he felt were fitting for a ruler of the nether realms). Rick won the challenge and another 15 grand for his charity,with a grand total of over 22 thousand being raised for 3 Square to date.

Marcus Samuelsson came in second with his Ares,god of war plate of salmon with cured beer and apple broth topped with oyster foam. Marcus went back to his Ethiopian roots by creating a dish at low heat,the kind that soldiers would have to cook during battle. Not a bad approach but regular TC judge Gail Collins thought it was a little murky in flavor there.

Alas,poor Susan Feniger-she was given Aphrodite,the goddess of love,but no love was shown to her sensually themed dish of coconut jam and sweet butter on top of toast with fried egg coated with white pepper and dark soy. She selected ingredients that are predisposed to stimulate the libido(she sure knew a lot about that!)and despite the lack of heat on some of the plates,most folks at the tasting enjoyed it.

Susan's low scores from the judges came about from snobbery,in my opinion,because she made a sandwich which to someone like critic Jay Raymer wasn't good enough to be considered Top Chef Master material. Look,I know this is about fine dining but even high end cuisine has some casual cooking areas to it. Hello,last week you had everyone cooking for a tailgate party and now your noses are up in the air over a sandwich? Susan had to pack her knives but leaves the competition with the honor of having raised more money for her charity than anyone else has done here.

Next week,the chefs have to improv a meal,based on audience suggestions during a Groundlings performance. Guess some of them will have to think fast on their feet in the kitchen(*cough*Susur*cough).

While I've fallen out of love with Glee,my curiosity about the Lady Gaga episode had me tuning in this week. Gaga's musical style certainly fit the theme of the show,which was theatricality,but the group rendition of "Bad Romance" left me less than impressed.

The kids can sing,no doubt about it but by having more than one person take on the lead vocals gave the number a disjointedness that was a tad out of sync with the awkwardly awesome vibe of the song:

Also,having reunited daughter Rachel sing "Poker Face" with her drama coach mother(Idina Menzel) came across as odd,to say the least. I get the obvious symbolism of the two of them disconnecting and putting up fronts but a better song choice would have been "Speechless"-Lady Gaga wrote that tune with her father in mind and it would have conveyed the out of touch relationship vibe between them much more succinctly.

Actually,the guys did the best musical work here,with "Beth" by Kiss. That was the most touching song performance of the whole episode,in my opinion:

Congratulations to Lee DeWyze as this year's winner of American Idol. While it may be disappointing to some that Crystal didn't take the crown,just remember that most of the A.I. success stories come from those who made it to second place.

Lee's a good guy and even tho he was rather underwhelming at times on the Finale triple showdown performances,he still made a good effort at entertaining the audience that night. Yep,it's a "Beautiful Day" for Lee,alright:

By the way,Idol,what is up with having the finalists do cover songs instead of that written-specially-for-the-winner tune to be released as their victory single? Granted, that song has been mocked in the past for the over the top corniness of the lyrics(and rightly so at times)but still,it's a tradition and one that could have been changed for the better instead of this lazy solution.

Why not have the Top Two finalist write their own American Idol song? That would have gone over well,especially this year.

Something to think about besides how to replace Simon(good luck with that thankless task!) and also, the next time you want to have a comedian sing a funny tribute song,get one that can actually sing and be funny. Dane Cook is not capable of being either. Oh,and good luck on the road,Crystal:


BEING HUMAN: A good friend of mine was kind enough to give me the first two seasons of this BBC series that has a vampire,a werewolf and a ghost coping with the mortal world as roommates in a small town in England.

Since my cable service doesn't offer BBC America,this was a real blessing since this show is beyond amazing,with smart writing and offbeat humor that plays off the character angst nicely. An Americanized version of the show is set to run on Syfy this summer and while I have nothing against importing TV series,the original sets the bar rather high:

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Some savvier cinematic suggestions for those of us not interested in SATC 2

With Memorial Day Weekend being the first big summer holiday for folks to party down on,many of us will be heading to the multiplex and what is on the docket for the ladies?

Why,it's Sex and the City 2(sans Electric Boogaloo),which sends Sarah Jessica Parker and the rest of her glammed up gal pal pack off to Abu Dubai for some fun in the sun,as well as time off from their busy lives of shopping while being bored by marriage and family.

As you can probably tell by my tone,I am not a fan of this series or most of the empty headed films that are meant for the female friendly audience coming from Hollywood lately. Don't get me wrong,I enjoy a nice lighthearted movie where girls get to dress up and swoon over guys every once in a while(The Devil Wears Prada,Bridget Jones' Diary,etc)but the stuff we've been getting recently is thinly written and cheesier than a six month supply of Velveeta.

I won't begrudge anyone to needs to have their girls' night out on opening night with this flimsy flick,but hopefully a third time around the block won't be necessary for this franchise:

While faithful fans of SATC will flock to the theaters for this sequel,here are a handful of video rental suggestions for a girl power movie with a little more substance to it's style. Some of these you may be all too familiar with,but perhaps just one of them might be a pleasant summer surprise:


This sweet little 1994 comedy stars Kate Beckinsale as Flora Poste, a society girl who's been recently orphaned without a big inheritance. Her goal in life is to become a witty writer like Jane Austen,so she decides to stay with some of her rustic relatives out in the country in order to observe their odd ways but winds up giving the whole clan a much needed makeover.

For male eyecandy goodness,Rufus Sewell plays one of the country cousins with a roving eye for the ladies and for amusing offbeat characters,Ian McKellan is on deck as a would be preacher who warns his followers that there is "no butter in hell" to soothe their everlasting torment,plus Stephen Fry as a pompous local author who fancies himself in love with Flora. This quirky tale is based on a Stella Gibbons novel from 1922 and is timeless in it's entertaining appeal:


Speaking of Our Dear Jane,this ensemble cast(which also includes the late Lynn Redgrave in a brief part as a less than supportive mother)takes the wonderfully absorbing novel of the same name by Karen Joy Fowler and fleshes it out nicely.

Both the book and this 2007 adaptation showcases a group of women(with one interested in Austen male)living out their joys and woes in the course of a year and coping by reading the major works of Jane Austen.

The actresses on board here range from up and comer Emily Blunt as the slightly uptight French teacher who's never been to France to Kathy Baker,the lively spiritual mother hen of the group. Even if you've never read Austen,this film will draw you in and give you a crash course in rediscovering the charms of love:


Yes,this is another Brit flick based on a book(1922 by Elizabeth von Armim),but hey,if you find quality items while shopping somewhere once,why wouldn't you go back for more?

Miranda Richardson and Josie Lawrence star as a pair of small town ladies who take a dive into the unknown by renting a villa in the Italian countryside,with two other strangers,a glamorous socialite(Polly Walker)and a plucky matron(Joan Plowright).

It's a quiet and quaint story that nonetheless holds some lasting resonance for the viewer as well as the characters who soak in the outer beauty of their surroundings to achieve the inner peace they so desperately crave:


A real sweetheart of a sleeper,this 1995 film has grown-up best friends Demi Moore,Melanie Griffith,Rosie O'Donnell and Rita Wilson reuniting after 25 years to go over the good old days of their pre-teen years together.

The bulk of this film,however, is given over to their younger counterparts(played by Thora Birch,Christina Ricci,Gaby Hoffman and Ashleigh Aston Moore)who do a sort of Stand By Me for girls in experiencing the wonders and woes of young womanhood.

This is a lovely film that has all the tart and tasty delight of sipping lemonade on the porch during a warm afternoon while shooting the breeze with a good friend:

I hope this list is helpful to those seeking out some quality chick flicks and if you can't get into a matinee showing of SATC 2 this weekend,your best alternative is to rent Season Two of Absolutely Fabulous and watch the Morocco episode,which is where a good portion of the Sex and the City sequel was filmed. Trust me,there's not much of a difference except that the laughs might be far funnier here:

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A few of my reading resolutions for the summer

Summertime is one of those seasons where making plans to either improve your reading choices or catch up on a few of the books that have been sitting by your bedside for quite awhile there is par for the course.

The method for some is to join a reading group like the new one headed up by Smart Bitches,Trashy Books moderator Sarah Wendell starting in June(and looking for suggestions for July). It's called Smart Sarah's Sizzling Summer Bookclub,which will select titles available in both digital and print form. While I wish them well,I think that I need to go solo this summer and see if I can make any serious inroads with my literary bundles on the path to reading glory:

SEEK OUT MORE SWORD OF TRUTH TITLES: As I got more into the first season of Legend of the Seeker,my interest in the fantasy series of books by Terry Goodkind that it was based upon lead to me to getting the first three Sword of Truth volumes in a box set. So far,I'm midway thru Wizard's First Rule,not wanting to rush into the story too much before the TV series had reached it's season finale.

With the announcement of there being no home for a third season of the show,my slow pace upon the SOT books is now increasing at a more rapid pace.

To further my resolve,I splurged on another box set(the fourth through sixth titles)and am determined that even if the network wizards are denying me more of LOTS,that I will keep up with the adventures of Richard and Kahlan one way or another.

Even if there is a last minute reprieve of the TV version(stranger things have happened,folks),I still intend to explore more of this amazing realm of heroes and villains that the imagination of Terry Goodkind has brought to life:

TAKING THE TRAIN WITH ANNA: Unlike the other entries from Quirk Classics,Anna Karenina is not a book that I've read many times over or even once to it's completion.

When my review copy of the upcoming Android Karenina arrived in my mailbox recently,I thought it would be a good idea to read both editions of Tolstoy's timeless tale of forbidden love together.

Since Android Karenina uses the Constance Garnett translation,which I happen to have in a Modern Library paperback edition,this has been working out nicely. The remix version makes it easier to glide through the basic plot points of the original text and I can see why adding robots and other steampunk elements to the themes that Tolstoy lays out for the characters is a rather suitable pairing.

My full review of Android Karenina will be posted here on June 8 but my reading of Anna K will take a little longer than that(for one thing,Android K has a shorter page count). The mysterious nature of this tragic heroine is not meant to be a quick pit stop but a true journey of the heart to ride all the way down the line:

THE GIRL WHO NEEDS TO CATCH UP:Confession time,folks-despite having an Advanced Reader's Copy of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo on hand,I still have not read this book(hangs head in shame). To be fair,I did try but couldn't get far beyond the first chapter.

I am happy to see that the trio of mystery novels by the late author Stieg Larsson has done very well,not only with readers worldwide but also on film,with the Swedish versions getting some decent distribution before the Hollywood remakes start shooting.

While many are eagerly picking up or awaiting their copies of the final book in the Millennium Trilogy today,I really need to start back at the beginning. It helps that a hardcover of the second book,The Girl Who Played with Fire,turned up at a local rummage sale in my area,giving me more incentive to tackle this series yet again.

I hope that those of you starting The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest this week have a great time with it. As for me,I'll be joining you later rather than sooner,probably by the time the paperback is out and about. Some may envy my chance to be introduced to the badass heroine of the trilogy,Lisbeth Salander,for the first time but I envy those who have been hanging with her right from the very beginning:

I hope this post has given some of you a little encouragement with your summer reading efforts and please feel free to share some of your literary plans for the season.

Reading for fun can be unexpectedly educational at times,adding odd bits of knowledge to your brain that can help solve a real life dilemma or two beyond having the answer to a tricky question on Jeopardy,so don't overlook something that intrigues you just because it's a little outside the norm. You may be able to surprise your friends and neighbors as well as yourself with the wonders of reading:

Monday, May 24, 2010

A slew of summer shows are about to be served up on a TV near you

As many of our regular TV series are winding down for the year,some of which are closing their doors for good as such the highly anticipated and widely discussed as we speak finale to Lost last night,you may think that the old chestnut about "there's nothing good on" may be coming true.

Of course,that notion can be judged merely in the eye of the beholder,as a number of summer time only shows are eagerly setting up their stations to feed your media appetite for more stay at home entertainment. To entice your hunger for a few of these TV morsels,here's a little preview of what's on the network menu:


In addition to a new round of Hell's Kitchen and Top Chef taking their act to D.C.,The Next Food Network Star will start their sixth season on June 6. They've moved to a new locale,L.A.,and have given the budding chef celebs a mentor,Giada De Laurentiis,as their culinary Tim Gunn.

Other FN stars have made appearances here before and it looks like more of them will be showing up. The real personalities to watch for,however,are the contestants themselves,who must prove their Ready for Prime Time telegenic ability as well as their cooking skill set:

There will also be competition shows that stay out of the kitchen;Bravo is launching a new series for up and coming artists called Work of Art and HGTV will be heading back to New York for a new season of Designstar on June 13.

The same panel of judges will be on board(Candice and Genevieve work well with mainstay Vern Yip)and the challenge locales will range from a firehouse to a fashion show as well as some of the usual obstacles put in the path of our intrepid designers. Should be stylish fun for all:


The third season of True Blood will be baring it's fangs on June 13 and this time around,it won't just be vampires. Werewolves will be making their presence known to Sookie,as she searches for Bill,who was snatched up right after he asked for her hand in marriage(rather convenient or inconvenient timing there,depending on your point of view).

Eric will be joining in that search party,mainly to score some points of his own with our heroine and there's plenty of other subplot goodies for the rest of the Bon Temps crew to feast upon,not too happily tho,I'm afraid:

Mad Men will be arriving a bit late to the summer block party,with their fourth season beginning near the end of July. Their arrival will be rather noticeable,especially after their tricky Ocean's Eleven finale last season that had most of the old gang splitting the scene to start up a brand new agency.

This new set-up could be a real shot in the arm here or an avenue best left unexplored in the end. Either way,the journey's the whole point of the long strange trip we're about to take with these characters and one worth packing up a suitcase and climbing aboard for:


Comedy Central will be doing more that just rolling out the repeats(one of which is the first syndicated run of F/X's It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia)this summer. Brand new episodes of the cult cartoon favorite Futurama will be airing by June 24.

The total run of this new season is 24 half hour episodes,giving Fry yet another chance to win the love of Leela and Bender new opportunities to rip off the public. Everyone who wants to rejoice at this should,but keep an eye on your wallet there:

For a few live action laughs,IFC is premiering the fourth season of The Whitest Kids U Know on June 11. For those who need to catch up,the Season 2 DVD set was released last week,packed with all sorts of fun facts to know and share.

This wacky pack of a show is a favorite in my household,to the point that my sister has a nifty Facebook fan forum for the faithful to check out for updates and other info,including promo videos like this one:

I hope this write-up helps you plan your summer TV watching schedule but I hope it's not your only option for pop culture amusement this season. As much as I like chilling out in front of the tube,you don't want to get too carried away with channel surfing there. Spending more than your fair share of time in TV world could ultimately end up with a very special Oompa Loompa song being sung in your honor:

Thursday, May 20, 2010

TC Masters party in the parking lot,Idol's Top Two and Legend of the Seeker's last stand

The chefs on Top Chef Masters were handed an original Quickfire challenge this round. They had to make a protein dish using only meat from leg portions like chicken,frog,octopus,etc. Judging these entrees were one of the regular critic judges,Jay Rayner and Olympic swimmer Jason Lezak.

Despite the lack of prettiness on the plate(quinoa may be good for you but it certainly isn't good looking),Susan Feniger won the QF with her cumin and cilantro chicken on a bed of pickled tomatoes and quinoa raisin pilaf.

As her reward, Susan was given USC colors to wear during the Elimination challenge which was to cater a tailgating party for the home game at the University of Southern California. Many of the chefs were delighted with this challenge but some of them felt very out of their element.

Susur Lee was definitely in the latter camp,making one of his patented East meets West combos here. While his Korean skirt steak was tasty enough to earn him a pass to the next round,the Austrian dumplings that accompanied the beef were a tad odd to encounter at such an outdoor event.

Two of the chef contenders put out tacos,with only one of them getting top honors for it. Jonathan Waxman's New York steak style with grilled veggies and bordelaise sauce had a great filling but a stale taco surrounding that killed some of the flavor. Jonathan got a little touchy at the judges' table when one of the critics suggested that he should've sliced the steak thinner-settle down,big guy,it was only a suggestion!

Susan Feniger won this round as well,with her skirt steak tacos that had a snappy salsa blend of black beans,corn and roasted peppers.

Since she runs a taco truck out of her restaurant,this was a major comfort zone for Susan and not only did she win another 15 grand for her chosen charity(Scleroderma Research Foundation)but she's won over 32 thousand for her cause,the most anyone on TC Masters has earned to date. Good going there,girl!

Packing his knives for home was Tony Mantuano,for his grilled pizza that was deemed to have an overcooked crust. While I did see that his pizzas were well appreciated by the parking lot crowd,it was free food,plus pizza crust preferences can be a subjective thing. Tony wasn't happy about leaving,but someone had to go and it was just his unlucky day.

Next week,the chefs had to make a meal for the gods,using inspiration from the deities of Greek mythology. Sounds like a heavenly dinner to me but a couple of the chefs might not think so there.

The Final Two contestants on American Idol have been chosen and yes,it's a Lee and Crystal showdown,folks. While I still long for Big Mike to have made the end run,this is a good match-up and one of the few reality show finales where you can be happy for either one of the last competitors standing.

While the judges may have been less than thrilled with the first half of Performance night,where each singer chose their own song,we all knew that it was just a warm-up for the Judges' Choice tune.

Crystal chose wisely in starting off with "Come to my Window" but really blew everyone's socks off with "Maybe I'm Amazed" that Ellen selected for her. Crystal had her version of an Idol Moment(getting so sick of the panel for clamoring at her to do the standard cheesy diva number)and I give her credit for singing the song as written,not switching over the gender references. We were pleasantly amazed that night,for sure:

Lee followed suit by beginning with Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Simple Man" and rousing the audience with "Hallelujah",given to him by Simon. Simon must really like Lee,since Lee had all the bells and whistles provided to him for this performance. Both songs were excellent and I'm looking forward to the finale next week.

Casey had to go home,which was fine since he wore out his welcome with everyone here(except maybe Kara)and we at LRG are packing up the Sanjaya awards for another year and simply wishing him well as he makes his way back to his loved ones.

Casey wasn't a terrible singer,just one with a limited range and appeal. He had his good nights and his fair share of bad ones,too. Best of luck to Casey in his future endeavors and congrats to Lee for being the dark horse that raced to the head of the pack here:

The second half of the second season finale for Legend of the Seeker airs this weekend and it truly looks like the final countdown for the show as well. The ongoing campaigns to find a new home for LOTS have been well waged and even supported by Terry Goodkind(the author of the Sword of Truth series of books upon which the show is based)but no luck so far in getting a reprieve from the depths of cancellation hell.

It would be wonderful if LOTS was snatched from the jaws of TV oblivion;this series has a strong fan base that is willing to prove it's devotion by donating the first season's DVD set to public libraries around the country,talk about your win-win here! If all else fails,at least the Seeker and friends will go out fighting to the end,leaving a very lasting impression as they take their final bow:


WORK OF ART: Bravo has come up with another offbeat competition show starting in June,this time having painters,sculptors and other aspiring artisans battle it out for cash and prizes. I don't know how much "art" we're going to get out of this bunch but the drama factor will probably on the high end of the scale,making this one to watch without hesitation.

HELL'S KITCHEN: Another steamy season of Gordon Ramsey's shout fest is also due to serve up the smackdown in June. If any of these budding chefs thought it would be smooth sailing here,they better back away from the stove before Ramsey's fury gives them a fourth degree burn: