Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Cheeky Cheetah says Ciao!

So Barry didn't sing "Copacabana," but the night was delightful anyhow as Sabrina got the boot on Dancing. Oh yeah, she was good. But she was also smug. And then she was totally devastated. Trapped between tears, rage, and disbelief. It reminded me a bit of when Connie got the boot from AI.

I guess all the AARPers got out and voted to keep Geritol Jane and her Jive around another week. Or maybe ABC just fixed it so that these hacks would stop whining about racism and ageism. I think with Sabrina and Melinda Doolittle, we can now at least posit the theory that there is definitely a conspiracy of nationwide discrimination against the neckless. Jane wasn't even there to get word that we'd be able to see more of Seymore, as she contracted some strange food poisoning 15 minutes before showtime. Erm. Maybe she was sick from having to eat her own nasty words about the other dancers that she spat everywhere?

This was definitely a classic, though. Classic. Bruno was aghast, and there's not much more fun than a worked up Bruno.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Ballroom Blitz


It was a seasonally appropriate night on DWTS last night, eh? What with all the horrifying costumes, frighteningly embarrassing routines, and Carrie Ann handing out high scores like candy.

They totally punk'd my man Helio Castroneves by dressing him up in a get-up reminiscent of Harvey Keitel's Taxi Driver wardrobe.

But, you know, it wasn't supposed to be funny, I don't think. Which is exactly what made it funnier, and more painful. But nothing was more painful than his once-dazzling, affable smile that's now been twisted into a desperate, painful grimace-smile. The guy still danced well, but his personality fizz went flat as his overly-competitive partner Julianne is clearly making him uncomfortable by both pushing him and undermining him at the same time. She acts chirpy but you can almost hear the demon-voice in her head commanding him to SMILE, BITCH! as he cha-cha-chas in post-ironical polyester.

Both Jane and Marie are bitching about ageism in the judging now that they suddenly can't keep up. Marie, fuck it, she's charming on the floor but it was only a matter of time before everyone started out-stepping her. Jane? Fuck her twice. Nothing like insulting your fellow competitors! I'm sick of hearing what great shape she's in for her age. If she's in such great shape, then DANCE, BITCH! She tried, oh lord she tried. But her jive made her look like a marionette and Tony couldn't tighten the strings to snap her feet quickly enough. All this blather about her being so regal and classy. So what if she stands like she's got a stick up her ass? Her mouth is showing her to be the antithesis of class. Just cause she let Owen Wilson fondle her boobs for a laugh doesn't mean she's got free-flowing goodwill forever.

I know what a sucker I am for a pretty face, because no matter how assholey Maks is, I still like him. And, let's face it, Eddie Murphy's baby mama isn't bad on the floor and she doesn't tolerate his shit. But it's also obvious that the judges are going to tell us what they want, what they really really want. They want Mel and Maks to stick around and they will slobber out high scores for her as long as she doesn't fart onstage.

Edyta is doing her part to keep the sex appeal alive. She can't choreograph for shit, and her partner kinda blows. And the music director sabotaged them with a wholly inappropriate Samba song. Their dance was utter bullshit, but Carrie Ann tried to strike a vote saying it was hot or something and gave them a ridiculous score. Then, the irony happens backstage when bubble head Samantha Harris asks Cameron if he'll go shirtless if he sticks around. She just doesn't get it. We may be straight females watching this show, but we're interested in Edyta's body, not his. Her costumes get skimpier each week and we're voting, hoping that by the end of the season she shows up in strategically placed body glitter, pasties and fuck me pumps, and nothing else.

Cheetah girl Sabrina? Girl can dance, yes. She's a ringer, yes. So what? She still stomps around that studio like she's pulping the floorboards into paper, and that's when she's performing the light-and-breezy foxtrot! I love how Ballas didn't even try to lift her, instead she tossed him over her head like Buffy the Vampire Slayer attacking Spike in a lustful rage during the group dance.

And that leaves Jennie Garth. Yeah, that's poor Jennie's problem. They don't show her hot husband enough, and while Seussian-looking Derek actually choreographed the best number this week and Jennie danced it well, she just always has that vanilla flavor. And not Haagen-Dazs vanilla. Just plain, nameless vanilla. Luckily, Len still has the hots for her, and it's exactly her inoffensive, every-girl vibe that could allow her to end up quick-stepping away with the trophy this year.

For real though, don't you think Derek would fit in well doing a guest spot on Pushing Daisies? He's just got the look, man. The cartoonish, freaky look.

Which brings us back to the Halloween theme! And just in case you thought they blew their wad with the costume, make-up, and dance atrocities last night, think again. Tonight they've got the frightful, surgically regenerated Barry Manilow to up the make sure there's enough plastic and saccharine pumping across the floor to make us all sick to our stomachs! Whee! I can already imagine the feathers flying during the obligatory "Copacabana" dance-fest! And if that's not candy for the tv soul, I don't know what is.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Sibling Revelry?

Marie Osmond definitely wins the award for most memorable TV moment this week, possibly this whole month, with her samba slip-of-consciousness. Frickin' Marie. Who would've guessed she'd be so much fun? I remember seeing her brother Donny on a Fear Factor episode about a year ago and how he was a total thrill-seeker, which kind of surprised me. But I think Marie has just forever cemented her celebrity status above his with that stunt, in case there was ever any rivalry between them in that area.

I'm still enjoying DWTS this season, even if it has been sort of slow-going overall so far. But there are highlights. Bruno, as ever, is delightfully over-the-top with his insane and inane comments, but the big surprise this year is Len Goodman and his unabashed crush on Jennie Garth. It's pretty cute. Samantha Harris being back bugs me. I liked Drew. He had balls last week when he gave the funk-eye to Wade Robson backstage. And Samantha went grade-A twunty when she tried to put Mel B on the spot last night by asking her who she thought should be in the bottom two.

The shocker for me this season? My unabashed crush on Helio Castroneves. What is it about this show? Every year I say no one will get to me. But then there was Drew. Then Emmitt. Then Joey. Now Helio? I have to say, though, I thought he was cute on the show. Him and his dimples and his dancing and constant repetition of "I'm a race car driver." But then I had the misfortune of seeing this picture of him and it was like looking at pure, undiluted sex. I can't even bring myself to post the picture here because it makes me feel so dirty. It's ridiculous. I didn't even mind his Sprockets-esque sequined shirt this week. Okay. Yes I did mind the shirt. It totally cooled my lust. But then I got all crushy again when he couldn't muster the magic to be faux-attracted to Julianne for a dance. I mean, she's hot and all, but she's also jailbait. I thought it was a little strange that the judges should be pushing a thirty year old man to act lustful about a youngster like that. But, showbiz, whatever. Maybe I don't get it.

And I learned how much I didn't get it when Julianne showed her "professionalism" this week by doing a super-sexy dance to J Lo's performance...with her brother. It was just...icky. I mean, there was a chair and lapdance at one point! Professionalism is one thing. The incestuous version of Showgirls is quite another to be subjected to at nine p.m. on a Tuesday. Twisting the knife courteously was Tom Bergeron, making sure to inform us that the producers don't choreograph that shit -- the dancers themselves do! Maybe the Houghs have been huffing the left-over aerosol from the Mystic Tan cans to come up with that routine, but the whole thing just gave me unseemly flashbacks to Angelina Jolie-James Haven red carpet shenanigans.

Also, a random question -- why is Florence Henderson always hanging around the audience?

I don't have any sort of slick segue from Florence to talk about serial killers in Miami, so I'll just jump in about Dexter this week. This show? Cracking me up! I totally did NOT see the twist coming that Laguerta had been the one banging Esmee's fiance! I thought it was strange when Esmee was having her public meltdown and Maria refused to talk shit about her, but it still didn't connect. Just a total stroke of brilliance there. I love you Gloria/Lauren/Maria!

But the best? Masuka telling Dexter that he's had a big break in the Bay Harbor Butcher case, and Dex blurts out, "Bullshit! Oh. I mean, really?"

Oh! I just found a connective tissue I could've used as the segue -- Dex walking in on his sis when she was banging the boxer boy. Now, see, that was funny, not creepy. Okay, maybe a little creepy. But in a funny-creepy way. Not in a shudder-creepy, I-wish-I-had-lost-consciousness-like-Marie-and-never-seen-that way.

Monday, October 22, 2007

This Trick is a Treat!

So, did any of you catch Sandra Lee's Halloween specials this weekend? If you missed them, fear not, as they're replaying today and tomorrow, and, as a special bonus, they're going to air her hour long special where she decorates the bejesus out of a mansion and dresses like a princess and has Tyler Florence stop by to humiliate him.

Anyhow, a brief recap of the Halloween festivities this weekend. In the first show, Sandy was moved out of her kitchen and hosted a shindig in what was done up to look like a creepy cellar, and she dressed up as Marilyn Monroe, Vivien Leigh, Liz Taylor (she looked more like Cher) and Audrey Hepburn!

For the Marilyn costume, it was the classic "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" pink dress, including the satin gloves! Sandy was shocked, SHOCKED, I tell you at how it wasn't so hard to cook in the satin gloves. It wasn't difficult because she cooked prefab, frozen buffalo chicken tenders! I shit you not. That's classic Sandra Lee, folks. She takes the frozen prepared chicken tenders out of the bag with her tongs and then sprinkles some sesame seeds or poppy seeds or some crap on them and VIOLA that's cooking a treat, people!

As you can see, she was thrilled to be Marilyn, but the mere thought of even heating up the chicken -- on a cooking show -- was too much for Sandy to bear.

But things really got into her zone when it was cocktail time! She made "dragon's blood punch." Now, for as much as I laugh at SL's "cooking," let me tell you something. (And I tell you this as a bona-fide boozehound myself.) Sandy can make drinks, yo. Her cocktails generally kick ass. I think she was already semi-ho-hammered by the time she got all gussied up as Audrey Hepburn, cause she said something incoherent about how she has to make her own drinks because she refuses to accept a drink from disapproving gentlemen. I don't know. But she whipped up that dragon's blood punch and was on-the-ball enough to warn people to stop at a certain point before adding the liquor to serve the drink to little gentlemen. But she didn't taste test the kiddy-friendly recipe. She poured herself some vodka into the glass and then looked happy taste-testing it.

Those were the main highlights from that show, but the next day they aired the Sandy special where she dressed up in all the classic drag queen uniforms! I'm telling you, she'd make Frank Marino squeal with glee. Cher, Babs, Madonna, and Liza. Good shit man! And startling how much she looked like Babs! But you could tell she really got a kick out of being Cher. Tossing her hair, tongue in cheek, and, again, being careful to not make anything near an open flame lest her wig or feathers treat us to some pyrotechnical delights.

After that, she got her vogue on and bravely told us that Madonna is the best singer ever! Also of note in the following picture? Check out her mixer and blender! I told you that she changes them every show to match her kitchen! (oh yeah, her kitchen goes from yellow to green to pink every day. It's crazy.) So for Halloween? A black mixer, and an ORANGE blender!

But the best? The best came when she appropriately put on the Liza costume for cocktail time. And holy shit did she go Liza with the drink, man! Even I was shocked at what she pulled out this time. She made a Vampire's Kiss martini. It all started off well enough with her chilling a shitload of vanilla vodka. She poured that in a glass which she'd rimmed with red simple syrup, and then, to dress it up for Halloween, she dropped in a plastic set of vampire teeth. Evs, you know? I'd still drink it. Then, to give it some lovely blood color, she dropped in Chambord. Still, extremely drinkable. But now I want you to look at this picture.

Of note is the booze cabinet behind her, but don't get distracted by that. Look at the bottles she's using in this drink. You see the martini glass she's pouring the vodka into. Next to it is the Chambord, and next to that is the vanilla vodka. But next to that is the true killer. There it is, photographic proof of what she did next. You can see the pumpkin, and the green bottle is partially obscured by the glass of licorice which she used to garnish the drink. But you can see it, can't you? You know what that is, don't you? You don't? It's Jagermeister, man! She dropped some fucking JAGER in the drink to give it some kick! Here. I diagramed it for you in case you've had a few cocktails yourself:

Then she closed the show with her decorating tips by showing us how to create a spooky tablescape by using ratty-ass gauze.

I LOVE SANDRA LEE! Her and her crazy kitchen blenders and outlandish costumes and pre-cooked chicken tenders and terribly tacky tablescapes and mostly her Jagermeister martinis! This chick knows how to party, okay?

And if you're sitting there asking what's the big deal about adding Jager to a martini, I can't help you. But I will tell you this. Whip up some dragon's blood punch or a vampire's kiss martini and then sit back and watch the next Sandra Lee while you snort your second drink. It'll give you a new perspective on this show.

You go on, Sandra Lee. As always, I'll be watching. Until then, keep it silly, keep it simple, keep it soused, and always keep it semi-homemade!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Halloween Treat

Okay! For months now, I've been meaning to blog about my favorite TV comedy, Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee. In case you're not familiar, the woman has cocktail time on every show, manages to make her mixer match her kitchen (which changes color scheme each show), and cooks the most horrific shit you've ever seen! I mean, even for a drunk, she cooks bad. Her infamous corn nut Kwanzaa cake alone is simultaneously racially offensive and an insult to baked goods. But the food is secondary anyhow. It's all about booze and tablescapes for Sandy, and it's all so charmingly ridiculous. Unfortunately, time has been tight and I haven't been able to do it blogging justice, so I've just let it be. Also, if you're familiar with Sucks, they have the funniest Sandra Lee thread you could imagine.

However, Sandra's Halloween special last year was an outlandishly campy romp through truly disturbing snacks, and she's got a brand new one this year. It starts airing this Saturday. And I'm sure they'll be re-airing last year's delightfully frightful concotion, too, so be on the lookout for it. Then, we'll discuss!

Good Reads

Do check out William Reese Hamilton's "Evening Star" in the new issue of Steel City Review. And also Myfanwy Collins in the new issue of Caketrain. Both Pittsburgh based publications, and they both show the incredible good taste of shunning me ;)

Also, I should've reminded you earlier in my TV post, but if you're looking for rocking good recaps of TV shows, I'll remind you to check out Bored Morons. I don't watch all the shows they cover over there, but I am a fan of 30 Rock and I love those recaps. And visit the forums, too.

House Money

I'm so happy. I just signed a contract for my next book, House Money. It's a long and now-pointless tale, but if you're an Entourage fan, you'll understand this reference: This book is my Medellin. (Except, like, you know, it doesn't suck outright. But I would totally cast Vinny Chase in it!) It's just been a long and arduous process getting this book to where it is. It's going to be pubbed by Mundania, which I'm really excited about. It'll be quite some time before it's available. But, a very talented and generous friend of mine, Mr. Don Capone, has already agreed to do the cover for it, and he's already got it rocking! Check it out.

How fucking awesome is that cover? I love it! I love Don!

Life of Pie

The weather has cooled. Baseball, for me, is over. So, of course, I'm back to gorging on TV. 30 Rock and The Office are still great. I never thought they'd top "future Dwight," but it was pretty damn funny last week when Dwight took on the website and then PB&J convinced him that the computer had become self-aware and it taunted him. "What's a Jim?" That, combined with his lovesick stubble really was a lovely touch.

As far as new shows go, Pushing Daisies immediately got my attention, because it's by Bryan Fuller, creator of my most dearly departed Dead Like Me. Daisies has a few of the same quirky details that DLM had, but with a completely different overall tone. While DLM was darkly ironic and a bit snarky on the surface, it had a deep, soulful longing at its core, with Georgia as the misfit who didn't connect in life, and who was trying desperately to connect in death. Not coincidental, then, that physical touch is at the root of the magic of both of the shows. As a reaper, it was George's duty to take a person's soul before they suffered the painful indignity of death. Touching, therefore, being a nice metaphor for her ability/inability to find a connection with someone else.

But Daisies takes the whole touch thing a bit further, though the purpose of the metaphor is the same. In it, our protagonist is Ned, who realizes at an early age that his touch can bring things back from the dead. Great! And a second touch will send the reanimated permanently back to death. It's a cute set-up, as Ned has fallen in with a PI who stumbled upon his talent and the two team up to solve murder cases and collect the reward. Pretty easy money, because Ned simply touches the corpse, asks them who killed them, and then makes them dead again. The set-up also creates a double-edged sword of romantic tension, because Ned then revives his childhood sweetheart, but doesn't have the heart to kill her again. So although they're clearly bonkers for each other, they can never touch. Clever? Yes. Cute? Yes. Exhausting? Possibly.

It's only been two episodes, and this show definitely wins all visual awards for the year. It's got a Tim Burtonesque veneer about it, with vivid technicolor settings and costumes and a storybook-quality narration done by Harry Potter audio-book fellow Jim Dale. So it looks and sounds absolutely incredible. I mean, when you've got Kristin Chenoweth in an avocado mini-dress prancing around a fantastical, fairy-tale pie shop singing "Hopelessly Devoted To You," it's not going to be hard on the eyes or ears. But, the thing is, isn't it a little hard to take? (<--- that's what she said! that's a little bonus for the Office fans out there.)

I like the show. But maybe it's just a little too precious already? Chi McBride as the deadpan PI goes a long way to bring the lilting, lyrical quality of the would-be lovers back in line with his one-off eye rolls and realistic-if-somewhat dryly sardonic injections. But the dreamy leads? Lee Pace plays Ned, and I clearly remember him as Calpurnia in "Soldier's Girl." He's a cutie, and he's charming. But I also can't imagine Ned being any more gay. Don't get me wrong, it's adorable. Him and his tight little tushie and his perfect little pies and his wispy, wanton looks. He's sweet as one of the pies he makes. (His day job is as owner/operator of aforementioned pie shop, which comes complete with an awning that looks like a pie crust and is cutely named "The Pie Hole," which the narrator reminds us of frequently by never referring to him by name, instead always calling him "the pie maker.")

But all this frothy blather also makes the no-touching rule between he and his childhood sweetie a bit moot, because it'd be an impossible relationship simply because it's clear that Ned isn't just a connoisseur of pie crust, he also clearly prefers cock.

Anyhow. I hope the show succeeds, because it's ambitious and different. It is just rather filmic. And by that, I mean that this color-drenched landscape and dreamy, gentle-natured contrivance is a super-sweet confection. But watching it weekly might be like eating pie for dinner every freaking night. A captivating and charming idea, but in reality, just cloying. But, you know, that's just me. I like Dexter for god's sake. So I have a limited tolerance for the fluffy puppy looks. I mean, I'm rooting for Dexter's morals to crumble so that he'll gruesomely vivsect his girlfriend! And his sister! But I guess there's no reason why I can't also watch the pie maker and his childhood sweetheart not touch longingly, too.

The only other show I'm somewhat taken with this year? Dirty Sexy Money. It's got a very Ugly Betty vibe, as in it features a normal, decent person tossed amidst outlandish money and crazy-ass personalities. It's all a bit campy and convoluted with a murder plot underneath the frothy fun. And, it's dirty and sexy and dripping with money. What's not to like? Also? Donald Sutherland. I still dig him. He's horrifying and mesmerizing -- particularly when he's being a stand-up good guy. I predict it'll be canceled by mid-November.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Take a mini-break with Eclectica

Eclectica Magazine has newly invigorated travel section. So if, like me, you're wishing you could take a vacation, but can't get away, take a break during your workday and enjoy some writing that'll transport you to new places. This month features lovely work by Chika Unigwe and William Reese Hamilton, among others.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Killer good TV

Do you watch Dexter? I love it. Yeah, it's kind of grisly, but it's also really good. Based on Jeff Lindsay's popular Dexter novels, this show currently keeps the crown for twisted, dark comedy, outlandish anti-hero good TV shit.

I loved Michael C. Hall on Six Feet Under, and this show inverst his persona on that show. There, it was his job to comfort the grieving. In Dexter, it's his job to, well, create the grieving by killing people. Yeah, yeah, another sympathetic serial-killer mystery. Yawn. But it's just so good! Granted, it's not for everyone. But I think you'd be shocked by how much you like it if you give it a try.

Last season, the plot very true to Lindsay's novel, but this year I guess the TV show is going to go its own way. As added bonuses? It's got Gloria and Morales from Oz! (I guess Showtime is raiding the tombs of HBO shows to stock their casts.) And a Carradine joins the cast this year. Not the Kung Fu one. The other one.

Ellen #1

Guess who Harper Collins's number one author is? It's Ellen Meister!. HC has launched a new batch of author pages, and Ellen's site is getting tons of hits!

Also outstanding? The paperback version of Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA is available at your local Target! This is awesome, because I love Target! And I love Applewood!

Go Ellen!