Saturday, May 30, 2009

SUMMERTIME


This snarkfest has been interrupted for...



Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Jon & Kate Plus 8... Plus 2-Dozen Paparazzi...

It took Kate Gosselin six minutes and forty-two seconds into the fifth season-premiere of her family's show, "Jon & Kate Plus 8" (on TLC), to mention her children as her primary focus and concern. Less than thirty seconds later, she's making a "cute"-but-snide comment about not yet having handed out the invitations to her sextuplets' fifth birthday party.

During those six minutes and forty-two seconds leading up to Mrs. Gosselin mentioning her numerous offspring, Jon had apologized for his behavior (he's accused of having an affair) directly, while admitting that he made mistakes/"messed up" a solid handful of times. Not only that, he said, "One day my kids are gonna Google me, and I'm gonna hafta explain myself, and, hopefully, they're mature enough to understand that it was just all crap."

It's a very telling six minutes and forty-two seconds.

I consider myself an objective observer. I'm not a religious follower of the show, but I am a religious follower of tabloids (ooooh, yes, one of my many, many guilty pleasures), and Jon and Kate Gosselin have seen themselves absolutely splattered over those glossy pages more times than I'm sure they'd care to count in the past couple of months. In fact, citing JustJared.buzznet.com, Kate herself has been on the cover of US Weekly for the past five weeks in a row! Five weeks. It's not Brangelina, but it's nothing to sneer at, either. "I mean, if I paid you $20,000, who knows what you'd say. ...I never read a tabloid magazine until I was in one. And the first one I bought was the last one I bought, too," said Jon, during one of the show's many asides to the camera.



Kate: "And I think what makes me the maddest... I've been traveling here, there and everywhere, because that's my job... And I'll be darned if they're gonna take me down with that." NOT the invasion of any sort of privacy in her children's lives. NOT what it is doing to her marriage. NOT what this sort of negative attention is going to mean for her family five/ten/twenty years from now. No: What makes Kate Gosselin the maddest is that she believes she's being villainized by the public because she's rarely around.

(Explain to me--somebody please explain to me--why that woman gets to say the words "I" and "me" all the time. The only person she takes seriously is herself. What a damn shame.)

Sure, they both shrug off accountability, flicking it away with gestures, tone-of-voice and eye-contact like they would a bothersome gnat. If you'd never seen an episode of "Jon & Kate Plus 8" before, you'd walk away from this premiere shaking your head: These people are...difficult to like. They're actually rather pitiable--not because they're so beleaguered and put-upon, but because they were dumb enough to pimp out their family and think there wouldn't be personal consequences somewhere down the line.

The rest of the premiere plays out as expected: The Gosselin kids are loud, hungry and ultimately pretty charming as the birthday party comes together. Kate remains perfectly coiffed, tanned and completely un-funny throughout (I've never seen a mother as determinedly blonde-streaked as that woman). Even though he's conspicuously absent for most of the real-time interactions, Jon continuously brings up his children in conversation.

...At least one parent does.

(Okay, okay, that was a little harsh. Kate does say that she loves her kids, and I know that the show's producers probably edit like mad to make it seem very dramatic. But still. She doesn't remind me of any mother I've ever met.)



In my opinion, this was the most interesting exchange during the episode:
Interviewer: "But what if the roles were reversed, and you were the one out traveling, and she was home?"
Jon: "[short laugh] Since I can't write, it'll probably never happen. [pause] Some people say I can't talk, either. Or breathe right. [short laugh]"

Well, that, and watching Jon and Kate dance around one another at the birthday party, playing the Avoidance Game. Ha. Ha ha.

Those kids smile and laugh and cry and play and eat (and eat and eat and eat!), and they want Mommy's attention and Daddy's attention and one another's attention. The children make the show watchable. And I don't want to rescue one of them as much as I want to rescue one of The OctoMom's spawn.

Will Jon and Kate make it? I don't know. I don't know as I care. But those Gosselins sure are a cautionary tale for any parent.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

"I have come back to life!" --Hancher Auditorium

Hancher's back!

Well, not exactly. Hancher Auditorium itself is still out of commission (and purportedly will never be in commission again--location, location, location!), so all of the 2009-2010 season productions will be held elsewhere. But still... It's BACK!!!

With that excitement-level in mind, I'd bet you really want to know what's on the books for "Hancher" this upcoming year!

Starting in early September (uhhh, September 11th, actually...), our university's Symphony Orchestra is playing with the Joffrey Ballet. The JB, based out of Chicago, is so cool, they've even had a movie based on them!: The Company (2003), a very odd, yet iconically cult movie starring Neve Campbell and James Franco. Joffrey is odd--just warning you--with their stark modern dances, intermixed with classical ballet interpretations; but I doubt you'll ever see dancers so athletic, so breathtakingly graceful and so zzzzzestfully filled with life. They're a regular soap commercial.



I'll admit, my mother thought Herb Alpert was dead (MOM!!!), but I'm pleased to tell you that the most-excellent trumpeter and his jazz-singing wife, Lani Hall, are hitting us on November 13th. Don't know who Herb Alpert is/was? He had an album called "Whipped Cream & Other Delights" back in the sixties. I'd be a fan for that reason alone.



Heading into 2010, on January 23rd, is a show entitled Thank You, Gregory: A Tribute to the Legends of Tap. A show of hands as to who recognizes the name "Gregory Hines", the late, great tapper! This performance showcases eight young hoofers (slang for "tap-dancer") dancing away to the choreography and in the style of some of the (as the title states) great legends of tap.



The big-name showcase piece for this season, though, will be Avenue Q, opening on Friday, March 26th, 2010. Let me gush a bit about this musical (yes, a musical): It won the 2004 Tony Award for Best Musical, Best Book and Best Score; it has puppets; it has puppets that swear and have sex! It's raunchy, it's sexy (...the cast is a little on the verge of having Multiple Personality Disorder, but that's hot, right?) and incredibly non-politically correct. And that's putting it mildly. The storyline is pretty basic, with a puppet/young man, who is a recent college grad with absolutely ZERO direction in life, renting a cheapcheapcheap apartment in New York, having sex, falling in love, getting dumped and struggling to maintain gainful employment throughout most of the show. ...Does this sound familiar, to anyone? Songs include: "The Internet is for Porn", "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist", and "What Do You Do With a B.A. in English?" It's a freaking riot.



All in all, there are eighteen acts going up in "Hancher" at several different venues. Said venues include, but are not limited to, the Civic Center of Greater Des Moines, Riverside Casino & Golf Resort, Iowa City's City High School, the Iowa Memorial Union, the Englert and the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids. Ticket prices vary greatly--check Hancher's website, here, to order/reserve/do your ticket thang!

Trent Reznor: Pretty Cool Dude

Check this link out:

http://store.nin.com/helperic/

Apparently, a Nine Inch Nails fan needs a heart transplant, but can't get one because of some sort of legal red tape. So Reznor made a request for donations. In return, the big donors ($1,000+) will get to do things like hang around at soundcheck, meet the various band members on tour for autographs and such, and even eat dinner with the guys pre-show. To date, the campaign has raised almost $650,000. Pretty heartwarming stuff.

Monday, May 25, 2009

"Glee" is a snarky good time

I'm geeking out. Like, uncontrollable-jazz-hands-and-Crest-commercial-smile geeking out.

"Glee" is FOX's newest primetime addition*, following the age-old stereotype of misfit students forming a, uh, more perfect union through song and dance. But while this routine may sound familiar, creator Ryan Murphy (writer, "Nip/Tuck") did something...magical. I can only conclude that Mr. Murphy took a trip to see The Wizard when pulling together this cast.

Leading the parade is a young, ├╝ber-handsome Broadway vet named Matthew Morrison. You probably haven't heard of him. That's okay...for now. Sure, he's had bit-parts in a couple of movies (the cop that pulls over Steve Carell's character in Dan in Real Life? Matthew Morrison!), but he is best-known in the stage world for his Tony Award-nominated performance in 2005's The Light in the Piazza. I'm not sure why he didn't actually WIN the award--he played a freakin' non-English speakin' Italian (sorry, sorry, sorry for the rhyme!), and that boy is as White Bread Americana as they come. However, he did just finish up a stint on the revival of South Pacific as Lieutenant Cable at New York's Lincoln Center.

Anyway, Morrison's background aside, he's wonderfully sincere as glee club leader Will Schuester. Unhappily married (I mean, really--we see his wife for all of eight minutes total, and she scares the bejeezus out of me) and a little stuck in his show choir glory days of yore, Will decides to get all emotionally attached to the afore-mentioned teenage misfits and help them achieve their dreams...sort of. There's a moment at the end of the episode where Morrison's eyes water a bit: My eyes watered a lot.



The other stand-out performance is by Lea Michele. Never heard of her either? For shame! And you call yourselves musical theatre fans! Oh, wait...you don't. That's just me. Moving along, Lea Michele originated the dark role of virgin-turned-abortion-gone-wrong-victim (yeah, chew on that one for a while) in the 2007 Tony Award-sweeper, Spring Awakening. Her voice is flawless; her face is flawless; her demeanor is flawless. Even if the rest of the cast were a complete wash, I'd watch "Glee" for her. Ms. Michele is the next Idina Menzel. Don't know who that is? Google it.

Also featured, for those of you without my stage obsession, are Jane Lynch, of 40-Year-Old Virgin fame (think "cougar"), and Jayma Mays, who played Charlie the waitress-befriending-Hiro in the first season of "Heroes" and Charlie the Henry's-adulterous-girlfriend in the first season of "Ugly Betty". Their characters' separate neuroses on "Glee" just crack me up.

Rumored guest appearances (from the all-knowing Wikipedia) include B-way stars John Lloyd Young, Victor Garber, Debra Monk, Kristin Chenoweth and Cheyenne Jackson, not to mention Josh Groban playing himself. I don't know about you, but I'm excited to see me some Joban!

But it's not just the cast that has me geeking; nope, it's the musical numbers, too! Of course there are musical numbers! The orchestral scoring of the show itself is a cappella versions of popular music, and the rival show choir/glee club does a kickin' routine to our favorite rehab-er Amy Winehouse's "Rehab". The pilot ends with the title glee club pulling together a red-shirted rendition of Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'". Oh, yeah: They went there!



It's not High School Musical. I wouldn't touch that movie with a ten-foot-pole...nope, better make it a twenty-footer. There's nothing Disney about "Glee". The New York Times said in its preview of the pilot episode, "['Glee'] has a strong satiric pulse that doesn't diminish the characters' identities or dim the showmanship of the talented cast." This right on the tails of calling it "blissfully unoriginal in a witty, imaginative way." Tongue-in-cheek compliment, anyone?

Yeah, it got mixed reviews. Actually, it got rather crappy reviews. Premiering right after the "American Idol" finale (which was supposedly a big deal... "Will it be Kris?" "Will it be Adam?") on Tuesday, May 19th, "Glee" failed to keep the "Idol" audience intrigued. According to EW.com, the pilot lost half of the lead-in viewership right off the bat, not to mention the approximated 3.5 million that gave up before the hour was even over. Total bummer, man. But ratings do not a good show make, right?

I don't expect everyone to watch it. I don't expect everyone to like it. But if you've ever stood at a karaoke machine, two or ten sheets to the wind, and belted out, "Just a small town girl / livin' in a lonely world! / She took the midnight train goin' anywhere," then you owe it to yourself (and to anyone in that karaoke audience) to see this show.

*The pilot is available on FOX.com all through the summer, with at least three more episodes airing this fall in an 8 p.m. CST Wednesday time-slot.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

So this one time Bono interviewed George Clooney and they were both naked…

Wait sorry, that was just a dream I had last night. But the famous U2 front-man really did interview George Clooney — though they were both unfortunately clad in, well, clothes. George nabbed a spot on Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential” thanks to his large humanitarian heart and his work in Darfur. Bono, though an advocate for curing AIDS through the RED campaign and the ONE campaign, sadly did not make the list. I’m chalking that up to his narcissism, though let’s be honest, he’s Bono, and he’s allowed to be as self-centered as he damn well pleases.
In any case, Bono sat down with George to interview him in a special hosted by hottie Anderson Cooper and the CNN crew. They talked fame, politics, Darfur, and George’s hotness making him sexiest man on earth twice. The whole interview can be found right here…



…but for those who don’t want to sit through a 40 minute interview (It’s worth it, just watch it) here’s a rundown.
:38 seconds in George declares Pitt a “two-timer.” I mean, George, he did allegedly cheat on Jen with Angie while filming Mr. and Mrs. Smith…oh, he meant Pitt made the world’s sexiest man list twice. And I thought we were getting some secret information!
:50 seconds in Bono and George discuss Bono’s inability to earn a spot on the sexiest man list and George’s goal to make the AARP sexiest man list. What a sense of humor!
1:30 in George confesses to sleeping with New York Times columnist Nick Kristof.
2:47 in George and Bono speak highly of journalists and admit their jealousy. Both would have become journalists had they not become celebrities. So for those people who make it big in the journalism field, George Clooney and Bono want to be you.
5:20 in Bono makes fun of George for being unmarried and turning 50 soon. Harsh! George, stay single for us girls, please.
11:30 in I think George is wearing combat boots.
12:00 in Things get deep with discussions about genocide, Darfur, and George finding Hollywood talk petty when compared to sitting down with two enemy rebels.
18:00 in George admits that Bono is incredibly well-informed about Bono’s ONE campaign stances and they discuss having to know a lot about their positions on world issues.
21:00 Bono admits having piety while he says George avoids backlash because he doesn’t. It’s OK Bono, you are allowed to think you are your own god. Really.
24:23 in George praises Bono for becoming so involved with Bono’s campaigns that George thinks the U2 front-man “set the bar” high for the rest of those actors who are trying to get involved with issues and make a difference. Go Bono!
26:27 in Bono asks George if he’s going to run for office. Sadly George, though it did cross his mind, says no. If he ran for a government position it would bring my count to two politicians I wouldn’t want to punch in the face.
30:30 in They finally start talking about the climate crisis and trace it to Sudan. It took them a lot longer to hit that then I thought they would. Though I guess it is Bono and George Clooney not Al Gore and Leonardo DiCaprio.
34:00 in Bono calls George out for his drinking and Irish roots. Yum.
34:55 in Bono lets loose about how glad he is that George doesn’t live in Ireland. I think Bono is afraid that George would have stolen his thunder.
36:55 in They’re talking religion….eek. Bono is known for being extremely religious and George isn’t. Good thing George doesn’t talk about religion or I could foresee some problems…
38:06 in Bono said shit and they bleeped him out.
38:50 in They end by talking about “nipples on a bat suit.” Priceless.
Now boys just take off your shirts and my fantasy will be complete.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Gag Me With Your Adorableness, Jo Bros

Disney has cooked up another plot to destroy the love expectations of tween and pre-adolescent girls everywhere.

The ever-so-pure Jonas Brothers premiere their new show tonight at 8/7c on Disney channel. *Jonas* follows the lives of the fictional Lucas brothers as they try to make normal lives for themselves in their private New Jersey high school Horas Mantis Academy. The trio deals with typical teen-boy issues-- i.e. girls, college, and, uh, music careers. AND viewers get to hear original Jo Bro songs like this one (WARNING: it will be permanently ingrained in your brain for hours):



Now if you will excuse me, I have to go finish my homework so I can get home in time to crack open a bottle of booze and watch my favorite virgins try their hands at acting.