Thursday, March 31, 2011

Thursday Top Threes: formerly a hater

M: Building off of Jenn's question last week... Top three bands/artists that you started out hating but grew to like and appreciate!

1. Lady Gaga: Between thinking the music video for "Just Dance" just looked like an orgy and thinking that "Poker Face" was the stupidest thing someone could be singing, I definitely started out hating Lady Gaga. But then I watched a youtube video of a girl playing "Bad Romance" on harp and decided -- musical genius. Now I begrudgingly admit that I like her songs, including "Poker Face" and "Just Dance." Sigh.
2. The Killers: So "Mr. Brightside" is one of my favorite songs and Hot Fuss is one of my favorite albums, but when "Somebody Told Me" first came on the radio, I *hated* it. I couldn't get over the fact that I had no idea what it meant: "Somebody told me / you had a boyfriend / who looked like a girlfriend / That I had in February of last year." Uh, what? So did his girlfriend look that manly, or did her boyfriend look that girly, or at the time I was trying to figure out if he was checking out a girl who likes girls... I was really confused.
3. Savage Garden: They are similar to The Killers in why I didn't like them originally. I knew them as the "chicka-cherry-cola" group. But then at some point trying to sing the lyrics of the song became a game for my best friend Amy and me. Why? Well, you try to sing it... ("I Want You" is the name of the song.)

1. Green Day: I didn't listen to much music at all until late high school so this possibly doesn't count but I remember being really down on Green Day during the 6th grade. I was on the "Science Squad" (yes this is as dorky as it sounds) and two of the guys wanted to name our goldfish "Dookie" and I was like, "Absolutely not!!" Of course now I would probably name Dookie as my favorite Green Day album...
2. Snow Patrol: I think it was the association with Grey's Anatomy that made me initially hate this band. But once I got over that, I realized they make pretty good music.
3. Bright Eyes: At first I just didn't "get" them. Their sound is kind of folky, which I wasn't into at the time and Conor Oberst has this shaky and emotionally bare voice that I didn't understand the appeal of. But after a couple of years, my musical tastes sort of evolved and now I'm a big fan.

Top Chef All-Stars Finale Thoughts

For those of you who, like me, felt like this All-Stars season was really long, you're absolutely right. This season had 17 episodes as opposed to the usual 14. This probably sounded like a good idea because this is a group of chefs that we already knew (and possibly love), so what could be better than spending more time with them? Unfortunately a lot of favorites and big personalities got eliminated rather early and we were left with quite a few unexpected chefs nearing the end. Richard and Mike as the last two chefs standing did end up being pretty evenly matched but that stretch of episodes with Angelo, Dale, and Carla all getting eliminated while Tiffany and Mike continued to skate by really made me start losing interest.

Mike didn't really start picking up speed until the very end--he was safe in the middle for the majority of the season--but I can't deny that his food in the Bahamas was clearly top-notch. Richard had the best record of anyone this season and he never really choked. So since I obviously couldn't taste the food, I was pretty much judging on personality, and I most definitely preferred Richard to take the title. Richard could be annoying too--always insisting he should have won his original season (as if Stephanie wasn't deserving at all) but also having weird moments of "hating everything he does"--but Mike's loudmouth personality just rubbed me the wrong way. His overconfidence and constant trash talking was a huge turn off.

So I was very nervous for the entire episode and then very, very relieved when Richard was announced as the winner. A lot of people had him pegged as the frontrunner before the season even started and I'm really glad he lived up to expectations. I thought he was smart in how he used Spike to be his "spy" and use the information to adjust his dessert for the second group of diners (and judges). It's clear that he's both a great leader and a chef. Congratulations Richard!


- I thought the way they had to choose their sous chefs was a little unfair -- usually the finale is all about "do whatever you want" but then I guess there has be some Top Chef shenanigans. It didn't end up being an issue but I totally laughed out loud when Mike got Jamie.
- Both Richard and Mike wanted Jen as their sous chef even though she flamed out super early so glad her reputation hasn't been tarnished. Did anyone notice her huge crazy hair though?
- Poor Antonia...just eliminated and then has to get right back in the kitchen to help her former competition. I was pretty indifferent to her pretty much right up until the finale but I think she's kind of grown on me.
- What is up with Richard always making this face? (see left)
- It was very weird that Mike had his whole family come to join him and Richard got...his uncle?
- Those little live commercial bits with Padma and Gail were extremely awkward.
- Petty, but I thought Mike's dirty chef coat every time he came out to talk to the judges was poor form.
- That Curtis Stone is everywhere nowadays. He's on America's Next Great Restaurant and now he's hosting Top Chef Masters too.
- While I wasn't rooting for him, I am very much looking forward to Mike's new restaurant in DC. There better be pepperoni sauce!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

M+J: why we're done with MIOBI

Mira: Sigh... I loved this show previously. A show about gymnastics! 4 interesting and different main characters -- Payson, the dedicated; Emily, the outsider; Kaylie, the one with a seemingly perfect life; Lauren, the brat.

My personal favorite of these four was Emily, though she always managed to get herself stuck in sticky situations that made me cringe. Plus, she always got the hot guys, Razor and Damon and almost Leo Cruz. My favorite storyline was Payson's return to gymnastics after the horrible fall just because I really was rooting for her. However, cringeworthy -- her monstrous crush on Sasha that GOT HIM KICKED OUT OF THE GYM. Kaylie was really likable most of the time but her Carter-dating got annoying, her parents got annoying, and her anorexia storyline was also getting tiring. Plus, she always got everything... And finally, Lauren was just plain unbearable. And last season's finale was just the clincher on how annoying she is.

Well this new season, Emily gets preggerz, Kaylie has sparks with Damon, Lauren is still unbearable and basically I do not care enough about Payson's comeback to stick with the show. UGH. What were the writers thinking??? A show that I previously looked forward to watching every week went from fun, to bearable, to annoying and now.. there's no potential for it getting better! I'M DONE.

Jennifer: I pretty much agree with everything that Mira said. All the girls' storylines became awful and cringeworthy but actually what really put me over the edge was that horrible woman, Ellen Beals. The way she handled the national committee or whatever was so maddening. Americans do really only pay attention to gymnastics when the Olympics roll around but there is no way that the kind of shenanigans she presided over would be tolerated in real life.

And of course there's Lauren (possibly one of the most despicable teen girl characters ever), helping Ellen Beals sabotage each of the other girls AND Sasha. But I guess at least Ellen Beals was an out-and-out villain...with Lauren the writers keep trying to make us feel sorry for her with her daddy issues and whatever when NONE of that is any excuse for her atrocious behavior. Plus she never seems to face any consequences for her actions. Instead it all seems to get piled on Emily...whose woe-is-me attitude is actually pretty justified but not fun to watch.

I guess ABCFamily is now really invested in this Secret Life of the American Teenager/Pretty Little Liars form of over-the-top teen drama so spoilers for this season are even more preposterous. I'm still kind of an Emily/Damon shipper (I have a bit of a crush on Johnny Pacar) so I may read some recaps here and there to see what happens but I definitely can no longer watch this trainwreck. Good riddance!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Thursday Top Threes: Formerly a fan

J: Top three bands/artists that you were a fan of at one point in your life but now cringe and wonder why...

1) 98 Degrees: I won't put 'N Sync or Backstreet Boys on this list because I still kinda, albeit nostalgically, like their music. But 98 Degrees... bleh.
2) Good Charlotte:
Very catchy and happy beats which I enjoyed back in the day. But oh so childish and My Chemical Romance does a great job of showing what it really should have been. In my opinion. :)
3) Nickleback/Three Doors Down: I remember initially liking "How You Remind Me" and "It's Been a While" but then... SO annoying. Now I shudder and switch the radio station when either song plays.

1) Creed: Yes, I admit it, I used to like Creed back in the late 90s. Then I realized that they were really annoying.
2) New Found Glory/Taking Back Sunday/Good Charlotte: I was really into emo music when I was in college and I do still like a lot of it but these nasal, whiny, scream-y bands are just...bad. The lyrics are really immature and the singing is awful. I actually saw Taking Back Sunday live twice because they were touring with other bands that I like and their live show is horrendous.
3) Evanescence: I don't so much cringe as just laugh when I now hear an Evanescence song. They're so angsty it's comical.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Thursday Top Threes: Cheeeeeeeeesy

M: Top 3 cheeeeeeeesy movies that you know are cheesy but can't help but really enjoy! (Inspiration: A Disney Channel original movie called Luck of the Irish -- Happy St. Patty's Day!)


1. The Cutting Edge and all of its sequels, um, all 4. Yes, I saw all 4.
2. The Mighty Ducks (1, 2, and 3 only).
3. Anything with Hillary Duff: Cadet Kelly (Disney Channel original), Raise Your Voice, The Lizzie Maguire Movie, Agent Cody Banks... Yes, I've seen all of these movies and... yeah, I enjoyed them all, too.

Jennifer: I also LOVE the Cutting Edge (only the original) and the Mighty Ducks movies (were there more than 3?) but here are some others...
1. Center Stage. Actually most dance movies tend to be really cheesy...
2. Now and Then. That 90s movie about the four best friends growing up in the early 70s who reunite as adults. The movie poster always kind of bothered me though because it has the actresses playing the young and adult versions of the characters with their arms around each other.
3. Sister Act and the sequel. I always forget that Maggie Smith is in these! Maggie Smith rules!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

2 Movies!

One of my new year's resolutions was to watch more movies... So I'm finally starting to!

Unknown: My friends jokingly called this movie Taken 2. Liam Neeson in an action-packed movie where something important to him is taken away -- his identity. Truthfully, until I actually got to the theater, I didn't know what the movie was called, just that it was "Un-something" and I only had a vague idea what it was about. Obviously I had low (or no) expectations, so as is often the case, I came out mostly satisfied. If you enjoyed Taken, this movie was pretty much satisfying in the same way. There were a few "why the heck would someone do that?" scenes, but that's to be expected of any movie! (20 February)

I Am Number Four: The concept of the movie interested me but the biggest reason I did not want to see this movie initially was because of the name of the movie; I thought it was stupid. Then I learned it was a novel by the same name and I forgave it a little. Reviews all panned it but a few girl friends wanted to see it, so we went and saw it. Surprisingly (or not so surprisingly?), I liked it! Quite a few scenes made me jump; the ugly bad guy things with the gills next to their noses grossed me out; and I couldn't stop thinking about how crazy Alex Pettyfer is rumored to be in real life. Dianna Agron is kind of like Alexis Bledel; no matter what role she plays, she's still Quinn like Alexis was Rory. Other things I liked: the little details in the movie made me happy; Number Six's powers were really cool; and changes between the book and movie (according to made me really glad I saw the movie and have not read the book. In any case, not a stand out movie but it was enjoyable. At least worth adding to the Netflix queue when it comes out on DVD. (10 March)

Up next: The Adjustment Bureau and Jane Eyre (Hopefully!)

[2011 Resolutions 1 and 3!]

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Spoiled: Consuming media in the age of DVR, blogs, and wikipedia

I started really getting into television because of a combination of two things: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the internet. They came into my life at about the same time when I was in junior high and they really fed into each other. I had friends in real life that watched Buffy too but they weren't quite as obsessed as I was, so I turned to the internet. I became a regular at the official Buffy "posting board" (an early message board/chat room type thing) where fans from all around the world discussed and dissected the show and our obsession with it. In those days, I had a VCR that I could record episodes on but I generally watched the show live and got onto the PB immediately to see what everyone else thought.

Spoilers back then had a slightly different meaning to me...they were generally information about future episodes, gleaned from casting notices and people who were extras and stuff like that. I knew that reading spoilers in a lot of ways ruined the effect of the show, but I just wanted to know everything. I would occasionally go through these stages where I'd endeavor to remain "spoiler-free" and I'm pretty sure that I enjoyed the show more but eventually I'd go back to old habits because I so badly wanted to know what was going to happen next.

Then a few years ago, something else happened: I got a DVR. In many ways, this was one of the best things to ever happen to me (I'm not exaggerating). I wasn't tied to network airing schedules anymore, I could record two things at once, and I could fast-forward through commercials (and boring parts of shows like American Idol) among other things. I can't imagine my life without it.

But there's a side effect to the wonderfulness of the DVR: I now rarely watch shows "live" or right away. Depending on what day it is and how much I like the show, I watch most shows a day or two later, or in some cases, weeks later. Which means that spoilers now have a different definition: it's what happened on a show that's aired already but that I just haven't watched yet. And yes, I still read them!

It's especially bad with reality shows. For example, Top Chef airs on Wednesday nights at 10PM, which is past my bedtime (yes, I go to bed that early). So right when I wake up on Thursday morning, there are the recaps from various blogs in my Google Reader, which of course I have to read. I try to skim and just see who won and who was eliminated but I mean, what else is there? I then generally watch the show after work that evening and the suspense is completely gone.

Horrifyingly this behavior has now spread to movies and books, thanks to wikipedia. I've never been very timely with these...I rarely see movies in the theater and I generally wait for books to get to the library. I have been known to sneak a peek at the ending of a book before reading the whole thing (confession: I read the epilogue of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows because I was so afraid that someone important was going to die) but now I can go to wikipedia and read the entire summary of a book before I even have it in my hands. It's especially bad with books that are in a series, like the Hunger Games and Steig Larsson's Millenium trilogy. The same goes with movies. It's just too easy!

So I think I'm going to embark on another spoiler-free experiment. There is actually one TV show that I've already been spoiler-free on: The Vampire Diaries. I watch it pretty much live every Thursday night and because of the huge amount of twists and cliffhangers (VD has a cliffhanger practically before every commercial break), I'm always so glad that I didn't know what was going to happen beforehand. The few times I couldn't watch it live and read spoilers, my enjoyment was definitely diminished.

I'm not going to change my viewing habits...I'm just going to really restrain myself from reading recaps and avoid spoiler-y blogs and websites. A lot of scripted shows are on hiatus until April, so for now my two main challenges will be Top Chef and The Amazing Race. Wish me luck, and I'll report back in a month or so!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Top Chef: Oh, who cares?

So...I've mentally checked out of this season of Top Chef. I didn't recap last week's episode because essentially nothing happened: the chefs were finally given some freedom to cook whatever they wanted, they all produced good dishes, and the judges decided not to eliminate anyone. Bo-ring.

Now we're in the Bahamas with the final five, two of which I wanted eliminated weeks ago (Mike and Tiffany), and we're back to the usual Top Chef shenanigans cooking with just a flat-top, microwaves, and a of which catches on fire and shuts down the kitchen. All the food gets contaminated and the chefs have to start over. Richard and Antonia took this as an opportunity to completely change their dishes, with mixed results.

None of the chefs seemed particularly happy with their dishes, and the judges weren't terribly enamored either. There were a lot of mistakes in execution and odd combinations and ultimately Carla was sent home for undercooked pork. Richard, despite a sudden lack of confidence, fares well but Mike takes his first elimination win.

Mike's comment that he thought Carla, Tiffany, and Antonia played it safe just to get to the finale got me pretty mad. Carla had won three elimination challenges, and Antonia two. Before this episode, Mike had won two Quickfires but he was "safe" (neither in the top or the bottom) in 7 eliminations, far more than anyone else. He can cook but he's a douche and if he wins, I'm going to be pissed.

Actually, I think if anyone wins besides Richard, they're going to go into the pile with Ilan, Hosea, and Kevin as underwhelming Top Chef winners. Unfortunately, Blais seems to be in danger of self-destructing once again. Not a good time to become a headcase. For some unknown reason the finals are being stretched out this season and there are still three more episodes to go. Let's hope he keeps it together...

- The Quickfire was not that interesting despite the return of former Top Chefs. I liked seeing Stephanie again but Hosea and Kevin I could care less about and Michael Voltaggio was sporting a really bizarre haircut.
- Did the chefs really think there was like a King and Queen of the Bahamas?
- I've actually been to that restaurant in Nassau, Twin Brothers. The judges looked hilariously out of place crammed into that booth.
-Why did the chefs not come out to meet the judges? It was odd having Tom announce the dishes.
-Richard's theory of nuts: peanuts=rock n' roll, walnuts=British rock, almonds=classical, hazelnuts=hippie, pistachios=pop. Um...yeah.

Thursday Top Threes: Series Finales

J: Name your top three most satisfying TV series finales!

Mira: Haha, how appropriate... :)
1. Greek: This just ended this past Monday and I was just thinking about how I wanted to blog about how satisfying the finale was. All the right couples ended up together; there was some emotional closure on long-running storylines; and it was simply the right place for it to end!
2. Sex and the City: The finale did a fine job of wrapping up all the loose ends and truthfully, there was no need for a movie (or ugh, two!) to follow. Carrie ended up with Big, we got the big reveal of his name (kinda like Cappie's real name being revealed in Greek!), Miranda and Steve stayed happy, Charlotte got her kid, and Samantha got Smith. I like happy endings.
3. Dawson's Creek: This is top three for two reasons. One, I was just really glad that the show was finally over. Two, Joey ended up with Pacey and that's what I wanted. (I belatedly remembered that Jen died in the finale and that was horrible, but I'll stick by the two reasons listed.)

1. Friday Night Lights: I know most of you haven't seen this yet and I plan to write a more complete wrap -up of the finale, the final season, and the show as a whole after it airs on NBC but I'm happy to report that it's really great.
2. The OC: There were some ridiculous things about the episode but I was really happy with where all the characters ended up and I loved the epilogue with Seth and Summer getting married and everything being brought full circle with Ryan reaching out to a kid just like Sandy did with him in the pilot.
3. Six Feet Under: Actually I didn't watch all of this a lot of HBO shows it just got really crazy in the later seasons. But the finale was kind of perfect: a series that was essentially about death ending by showing how and when all the main characters died.
Bonus: The X-files. Not sure if it really counts because there was a feature film a couple of years after the series finale but I just remember being so relieved it was over and the last scene was with Mulder and Scully together as a couple.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Thursday Top Threes: Fashionistas

M: Top 3 best dressed TV characters.

This can be considered in a number of ways. I'm going to go with the three whose closets I'd most like to own.
1) Blair from Gossip Girl. This show is all about the fashion, but I love Blair's fashionable preppiness. In particular, I really wanted her green cape/coat from the end of last season.
2) Samantha from Samantha Who?. Another city dresser, but I loved how her clothes were a cross between classy and fun; always clean lines. :)
3) Alicia Florick from The Good Wife. That's how I'd love for adult, professional me to dress. Wait, I am adult and a professional but I don't dress like her. Well, I still admire her feminine but professional style.

Jennifer: I love Blair's wardrobe too but I decided to go with some more random picks...
1) Nikita from Nikita. Her spying/fighting outfits are chic but actually look practical and her disguise outfits are fabulous.
2) Ted from Better Off Ted. I suppose Barney from How I Met Your Mother would be the more obvious choice for male character who only wears suits but I'm partial to Ted. He always looked so sharp!
3) Veronica from Veronica Mars. Not anything particularly interesting I suppose but she always had great jackets and coats. I'm not much into clothes but I love jackets and coats!