Friday, February 29, 2008

well, they got 1 out of 5 right

Someone pointed me to a website which, as far as I'm concerned, is bunk.


Name / Username:

"Nothing is more important to a person than their name. It is a label we are given at birth and therefore can affect our personality as we grow up and become individuals."

Ummm, not so much. I got this name when I was three years old.

If I use the name I was given at birth, then I think they got 2 out of 6 right.

If I use the username that I tend to use most often, then I'm not sure any of the 9 are right.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, part 3

Situation 1

I read about someone who said a relative was telling them about things they didn't do correctly. First was peeling hard-boiled eggs - she was told she was supposed to roll them around first. OK, I've heard about that - supposedly, if you roll the hard-boiled egg around first, it cracks the shell some and makes it easier to peel. I don't do that myself. To me, it actually helps to have the shell intact because I find that bigger chunks come off at a time. I usually tap one end or the other to get some part of it to break and then go from there. Sure, rolling is a good suggestion, but I can't see how you're doing it "wrong" if you don't do that. It doesn't change the peeled egg one way or the other, and while I might, *might*, offer the suggestion to someone, I would never tell them they were doing it wrong if they weren't already doing that or decided not to try doing that.

The second thing she didn't do correctly was butter toast - she was told that she buttered the wrong side of the toast. Supposedly, you're supposed to look at both sides of the toast and butter the darker side. This one had me baffled. First of all, unless you're like the person Sting sings about who likes toast done on one side, if one side of your toast is significantly darker than the other, then there's something wrong with your toaster. Second, even if you had a less-than-perfect toaster that toasted the two sides differently, I can't imagine examining a piece of toast to figure out which side is darker. I haven't made toast at home in years, and on the occasions when I've had toast in a restaurant, I have never thought to notice the color difference between the side they butter and the side they don't. The husband at least came up with an explanation that almost makes sense to me - he said that the darker side would be more bitter, so buttering that side would cut down on the bitterness. Ummm, ok, but if it's too dark to the point of being too bitter, then don't toast it as much. Same with having to scrape toast - if your toast needs to have bits of it scraped off, I think that means you've overdone your toast. I can't imagine ever telling someone they buttered the wrong side of the toast, and I can't even fathom what I would say to someone who told me that.

In both of those instances, it was something that affected only the person doing it, whether peeling an egg or buttering toast. If you were doing it for someone else, I could *almost* see it mattering when it came to buttering toast, though I would think someone is seriously too high-maintenance if they complained about which side of toast I buttered for them. I would also think that if I was serving toast, they'd be buttering it themselves. So since it would only be about the person consuming the edible, I can't imagine someone else telling them they're preparing their food or eating their food wrong. I don't happen to prefer ketchup in my hot dog, but if someone else wants to eat it that way, it doesn't really matter to me.

The husband and I disagree about how to peel a banana. He peels from the end that used to be attached to the tree, so that you can more easily break open the banana by just pulling down without needing a knife or something else to open the banana skin with. I prefer to peel the banana from the flowering side, so that I have the stem to hold onto the rest of the banana while I eat it. I break it open either by tearing it with my fingers, with a knife or just biting the tip off. I'm not germaphobic enough to care - I prefer having the handle. But it's not like either one of us is going to go around wagging our fingers at each other or other people because they're peeling their banana "wrong". If I'm peeling a banana that's being served to anyone other than me, then I won't bite off the end and will instead use a knife, but I'll still cut off the flower end so I have the handle.

Situation 2

We have a radio in the master bathroom, and I usually turn it on to KROQ, 106.7 in the morning. Before I get in the shower, the sound is coming in crystal clear on KROQ. In the time it takes me to take a shower and wash my hair, though, what I hear slowly migrates from completely good reception of KROQ to static to completely good reception of a Spanish-language station. During this time, it's not like anyone is around to do anything to the radio, and even the cat isn't in the bathroom messing around or laying on the rug or looking out the window, all of which *could* have some affect on the reception, though it still wouldn't account for the total change. And it's not like it's just staying on the same channel but the show changed because one show ended and another started. It's moving from one radio station to a completely different radio station when nothing is being done with the dial. I usually spend the end of my shower and the towelling-off time listening to the Spanish station because I don't want to reach out and try to adjust the dial while I'm dripping wet. This didn't happen back when I was still listening to KLOS - it only seems to happen with KROQ.

Situation 3

I get that people are busy, but can you really not take an extra couple of seconds to show the slightest bit of courtesy to someone else? I encounter this problem at work, at malls and at pretty much any kind of parking situation you can think of. I get it if the space is really tiny (there are a lot of places that still have a lot of compact spaces even though lots of people have seriously un-compact cars), and you're driving a big enough car that you can't really fit comfortably in the space without parking a mile away. But if it's a regular size space, and you have a regular size car, or it's even a compact space and you're driving a compact or even a sub-compact, do you really have to park so stupid and across the line of your space that someone can't park next to you? When there are a billion spaces, it doesn't bother me as much because it's not really inconveniencing me, though I still think the person is being stupid and selfish. But when it's in a parking structure or parking lot that's fairly crowded or especially at a mall during holiday time or some other situation when parking is at a premium, do people think they're that important that they're entitled to take up two spaces just because they're stupid and lazy? And it's not just a matter of, oh, if they'd parked correctly, I would be able to park in that space. Chances are, if they didn't park like an asshole, someone else would have parked in the space next to them and the space wouldn't have been open for me anyway, but at least SOMEONE would have been able to park there.

There was one day at work where with several cars in a row, EVERY OTHER CAR WAS PARKED SO THAT IT INTRUDED SIGNIFICANTLY ON THE SPACE NEXT TO IT, so whereas eight cars should have been able to park there, only four cars were parked there. If you're near a hospital or something else where it's an emergency or something, I'll cut you some slack for parking like an idiot, though someone else might be having an emergency as well and therefore can't park in the space you've now made unusable. But in an office complex or mall or outside a restaurant, you can't bother to take two seconds to park your car within your own space or, failing that, taking an extra 20 seconds to straighten out your car so it's not parked stupid?

Same goes for street parking. I get that you want to leave some space so you and the cars in front of and behind you can get out, but you don't really need to leave several feet between you and the other cars. I drove along one street once where each car had left about 3/4 of a car length between them and the next car, so whereas the street should have been able to park maybe 8 cars, only four cars were parked there. And I get that you don't want to block someone's driveway, but that doesn't mean you need to leave several feet of clearance at the end. Right outside our house is a space where you can park two normal-sized cars. But sometimes, people feel the need to park their normal-sized car in the middle of the space, now making it impossible to park two cars there. OK, getting out isn't an issue since two driveways bookend the two sides of the space, and there's plenty of room to park two cars without infringing on either driveway, so then you're just being an asshole by parking that way.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Black Angus Steakhouse (fka Stuart Anderson's Restaurant)

Years ago, I used to go to Stuart Anderson's with some friends to enjoy the dancing and the atmosphere. We weren't really into the club scene and didn't particularly care for the thump-thump pounding that often passed itself off as dance music, and Stuart Anderson's actually played music that we liked. We generally went as a group of several people, so it wasn't really to meet other people - we just went to have a good time. Stuart Anderson's has subsequently done away with their dance floor, so now it's just a nice restaurant that we go to on occasion.

Our last visit was about two weeks ago. There is generally some kind of wait as it can get very crowded in the restaurant, and we don't usually decide to go enough ahead of time to make a reservation and then we forget that they offer call-ahead seating. We generally go to the one in West Covina, but we've been to other locations as well. One of the things I love about them is that they have great bread. It's a sort of honey squaw bread with whole wheat flakes on the crusted top - yummy. It also serves as a good dessert if there's any left over by that point. The husband is also partial to what is now called Three Cheese Garlic Bread (I think it used to just be called Cheesy Bread), and I think it's pretty tasty too.

They also have a terrific, and fairly potent, Long Island Iced Tea. I think they technically call it Texas Tea there. It's made with the good stuff, so you can barely taste the alcohol, which makes it tasty AND dangerous.

As one would expect, they have a selection of great steaks, prime rib and seafood, along with other items. I've had the Steakhouse Salad as well, which was quite good.

This night, I opted for the grilled salmon, which was delicious.

The entrees come with two sides, and they also offer the option, for an additional charge, of substituting one of the sides with grilled asparagus instead, so since I love asparagus, I had grilled asparagus and grilled vegetables as my sides. I sometimes like the soup they have on certain days, but this night, I opted for the salad instead. As expected, it was a terrific dinner, and our server was quite attentive.

I like the restaurant a lot, and we've generally gotten good food and service with nice atmosphere. However, there was a surprise on this particular evening. As we were enjoying our dinner, a man came up to our table and asked if we had any food that we could share with him or any money that we could give him. I was a bit stunned when I realized it was a homeless person wandering around inside the restaurant. He obviously wasn't well dressed, but then neither was I. We don't generally dress up to have dinner there, and usually, I'm in jeans and a t-shirt or a blouse. This man was more underdressed than that, but he wasn't as raggedy as some homeless people you might see on the street. A hostess or server, I wasn't sure which, then asked him to follow her, and he said he would happily follow her but first stopped at the next table to ask them if they had any food. Now, I will give him points for trying. I mean, what better place to ask for food than inside a restaurant, where people actually have food, and since it's a bit of a nicer restaurant, you might presume the patrons have some extra money as well. However, I have no idea how or why he managed to be able to roam the restaurant or how many other tables he had stopped at. We were fairly deep into the restaurant - we were about the second table from the kitchen, so you had to make a few turns to get to where we were. Was there no one at the hostess podium when he arrived, so he was able to just wander through? Or was it that he wasn't disheveled enough, so they might not have known that he was a homeless person and thought he was just joining his party until they noticed him asking dining patrons for food? Last year, they changed the name of the restaurant from Stuart Anderson's to simply Black Angus Steakhouse. (They can call it whatever they want. It will always be Stuart Anderson's to me.) The husband was speculating that they were trying to go a bit more upscale by emphasizing the steakhouse nature of the restaurant, also evidenced by their changing the name of the garlic bread starter. Well, if they're going to try to be a more upscale restaurant, they might want to make sure that random people aren't allowed to wander the restaurant asking people for food and money.

Black Angus Steakhouse
455 N. Azusa Ave
West Covina CA 91791
(626) 331-5381

Here's the official website where you can find more information, including other locations.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

"Survivor", "Celebrity Apprentice", "Knight Rider", "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles", "Big Brother", "Law and Order", the Oscars and Barbara

OK, I'm catching up on about a week and a half's worth of shows, so this is going to be a long one with lots in it. Miscellaneous notes on other shows are at the end.

"Survivor" - previous week

On the way back from tribal council, Ozzy apparently caught a fish barehanded. What the heck with him? On the complete other side, the fans couldn't start a fire, even though they had flint. OK, so they're super fans, they've watched every single episode of the series. I've seen a lot of the series, and while I might not be able to start a fire, I know that hacking off chunks of the flint is not how you're supposed to use it to start a fire, not to mention that they wasted about half the flint trying to do it that way.

The fans were having a really hard time coming together as a group. They'd had no food or water, and the division in the group was shown literally when three of the members, the older group, decided to make a shelter just for themselves. The remaining group made their own shelter, with a fire finally started between the two shelters.

Meanwhile, on the favorites, Amanda and Ozzy's budding relationship was attracting attention, but Ozzy was wary of what people perceived. Umm, then you might want to watch you're doing then. They're perceiving what they're seeing, and they're seeing a lot. Don't assume that everyone's asleep and not conscious of what you're doing. If Amanda noticed and commented on James and Parvati, then it wasn't that hard for Jonathan and Cerie to figure out what was happening with Ozzy and Amanda when they started making out in the sleeping area.

On a completely different note, it was cool watching them eat the giant clam. That stuff is good! And you can't get any fresher.

When the two groups met for the next challenge, the fans applauded when they found out that John had been voted out the night before.

The challenge was for combined immunity and reward - fishing gear and a boat. It was funny to see Ozzy's reaction to that, so excited. Yeah, dude, like you need them - you caught a fish barehanded, remember?

The faves ended up winning the challenge, and they picked Kathy (who already had an immunity idol, thanks to Yau Man) to go to Exile Island. They were then told they had to send one of their own as well, and they picked Cerie. Kathy and Cerie went in search of the hidden immunity idol, but the clues led them to swim back and forth between two islands. It was fun to watch Cerie get exhausted since she didn't normally do much. I also thought that previously, whoever was sent to Exile Island wasn't usually back for the vote and so got immunity from tribal council, but in this case, Kathy was back before they had to go to tribal. While we saw them go back and forth in search of the idol, we don't know what happened, whether or not they found it, and even if they did, who would get it? In the past, there was only one person on Exile Island, so would it be a matter of who actually gets to the idol first?

At the fan camp, everyone commented on how poorly Chet did, and the larger group had decided they were going to target the three-member group, though Kathy would be able to use her immunity idol since this was her first time at tribal council. However, Joel decided he didn't like Mike taking charge, so he surreptiously campaigned to vote off Mary, who was in an alliance with Mike. It was funny at tribal council to watch Jeff question Chet, Mary, Joel and Mike with very pointed, on-target questions. It was obvious that he was seeing (or someone was telling him) about the footage from earlier in the day, so he knew exactly what buttons to push in getting responses from them. In the end, Joel's efforts paid off, and both Mike and Mary were blindsided when Mary was voted out.

"Survivor" - last week

After tribal council, Mike and Joel talked since Mike figured out that Joel was probably behind voting Mary out. There was no resolution since neither one really trusted the other afterward. Things weren't much different at the faves' camp as both alliances of four fought over Cerie. Cerie tried to figure out which side to align with, but she should be careful since it's happened before that the "swing vote" ended up being the person voted out when they played both sides and neither side could trust them. Being in the middle can be a powerful position, but it can also backfire on you. And I had remembered not liking Cerie from her previous appearance, but I couldn't remember exactly why. After seeing this episode, I remembered. She complained that neither side was really giving her special treatment, that they should be doing favors for her and other nice things, and they should carry her around. She said the last bit jokingly, but sorta not. Ummm, yeah, lady, whatever. I remember now that she was pretty lazy and didn't do anything and wanted other people to do stuff for her before, which was partly why I didn't like her, and that was back then, so her wanting it now shows she hasn't changed any. Yep, still want other people to do for you. How about doing for yourself?

The reward challenge involved fighting over bags, which the faves won, which earned them three groups of items that they chose out of a catalog. They again choose Kathy to go to Exile Island, and this time, they choose Aimee to go with her. Aimee was very enthusiastic about looking for the idol, but Kathy was understandably not as eager to go back and forth from island to island again. We still don't know if the idol has been found yet.

That night, the fans' shelter turned out to suck bigtime and provided no relief from the rainstorm. The team barely got any sleep, and they were still weak from lack of food. But in true you-never-know-what's-going-to-happen-on-Survivor style, even though the faves were fed and well-rested, the fans still did better in the immunity challenge and ended up beating the faves. The challenge was for half the team to be holding a net, and the other half of the team would be trying to toss coconuts into the other team's net, and whoever held on the longest won.

At the faves camp before tribal council, there was a lot of negotiating back and forth about who to vote out. Cerie was adamant about voting off Yau Man because she was sure he'd find the immunity idol on Exile Island if he went. Does that mean they didn't find it or was she just bluffing? I guess she was familiar with Yau Man's time on his previous show, as her desire to get him out seemed to be motivated by what a threat he turned out to be by the end of the show versus the non-threat he started out as. Cerie managed to get the alliance of two couples to vote with her, and Yau Man was voted off. I was confused that Aimee voted for Cerie. Not sure where that came from. I wonder if that will show up in the next episode. The preview for the next episode also hints that the immunity idol on Exile Island was or will be found.

"Celebrity Apprentice" - previous week

Team Hydra talked about how much they were enjoying working together, unaware that Donald Trump was about to re-divide the team members.

The new Hydra consisted of Piers, Omarosa, Carol and Lennox, and the new Empresario consisted of Tito, Marilu, Stephen and Trace. Marilu was understandably pleased with her new team, but whether or not Piers and Omarosa could work together remained to be seen.

The task was in Central Park, where they were to run a horse and carriage business with a team of 3 drivers. The going price was $34 per ride, but their challenge was to make as much as they could, so celebrity contacts came into play in the challenge again.

Trace was project manager of Empresario, and Piers was project manager of Hydra. All of the team members called their contacts to come out and bring money, and Piers informed his team that his decision in the boardroom would be based solely on who made the most money, so he was extremely happy when Omarosa was unable to bring even one person in. Even though they had decided to put their differences aside to win the challenge, a major blow-up occurred when Omarosa was filling out paperwork, and she spelled Piers' name wrong and barely acknowledged her mistake. She then said that Piers was petty because he got upset, but considering she never even acknowledged her error, and if she really didn't know, she could have asked. Also I expect that she would have been equally angry if he had spelled her name wrong. They had a heated fight in the van over, and Piers fired her, with Piers and Lennox getting out of the van to walk while Carol was left with Omarosa.

Empresario stopped to get roses and champagne for their business, and Marilu was really happy to be able to work with no drama. She was probably the happiest about the team redivision. Stephen called in yet another brother, Billy, who showed up, and they auctioned off a carriage ride with him. Tito was also able to bring in a celebrity, his girlfriend Jenna Jamieson, and for her contribution, she wanted to take a ride with him. We took a carriage ride when we were in New York in 2006, and it really was as beautiful as we saw during their carriage ride. I think our driver was from Ireland.

During the challenge, Omarosa was completely belligerent and insulting to Piers and ignored anything he said to her. She never acknowledged her part in creating the drama, and to me, she stooped much lower than was called for. She constantly referred to Piers' children and how they must be so disappointed in him and how another man was raising them. (I'm assuming Piers and his wife are divorced and she remarried and has custody of the children.) Omarosa had been dismissive of Piers many times previously, even though he had made a name for himself, not only for being a celebrity judge but in running a newspaper business, but Omarosa held herself up higher, even though her only claim to fame has really been from being on the show previously. But even with all that, at least it was about the individual person, and it was about business. Resorting to personal attacks that involved his children was really uncalled for, especially since she didn't do all that much during this challenge.

While Empresario was combining celebrity contacts with regular park guests as passengers, Piers decided to hold Hydra's carriages for the big spenders they were expecting. He wanted to make sure a carriage was available when the big spenders showed up rather than have all the carriages out for people paying less money, so the carriages sat there a lot, unused.

In the boardroom, the fighting between Piers and Omarosa continued, and the other team was shocked when Piers detailed Omarosa's attacks on his children. Piers said that he wouldn't quit, but he refused to work with her any more. However, even with all the problems on Hydra and all the harmony on Empresario, Hydra pulled off the win. Trump then decided to move Omarosa back to Empresario.

Trump was extrememly dismayed that Hydra won because he said that if Empresario had won, his decision would have been so much easier because they all knew who he would have fired on Hydra. I was surprised to hear that because it seemed like it would be a tossup between Omarosa and Piers. I think he might have picked Omarosa since she contributed nothing to that particular challenge, and she had failed during her stint as project manager. But since it was Hydra that won, he had no idea who to fire from Empresario. None of their members had anything bad to say about any of their teammates as well, so Trump made the decision, I think the right one, not to fire anyone, because no one deserved it for that challenge, and no one had a history that would have really played into it. It would have been a completely arbitrary decision of who to fire. At the end, he decided to move Marilu to Hydra, making the teams even again.

"Celebrity Apprentice" - last week

The new challenge involved QVC, and the teams were taken by helicopter to QVC's headquarters in Pennsylvania, where they would write and produce a 10 minute live segment as a commercial for a new product. Stephen was project manager for Empresario, and Marilu was project manager for Hydra. They had a choice of six items they could sell, and if both teams picked the same item, they would have to negotiate to see who would get it. Both teams initially picked the ladderkart, and Empresario had decided that if they both picked the same item, they would just toss a coin to decide since neither was going to give in. They did the coin toss, and Hydra won, so they got to go with the ladderkart. They decided to go with Marilu as the on-air person with the male host from QVC, even though Piers initially wanted to go with Lennox, but Lennox said he'd been overused. Empresario then chose the lightweight heavy-duty cordless sweeper and decided to go with Trace as the on-air person with QVC's female host. Omarosa wanted to rehearse before the segment, but Stephen said no. On a side note, why does she call everyone "son"? To me, it sounds condescending and belittling, but I'm told it can be an ethnic and regional expression that isn't necessarily intended to be that way. Maybe it's the tone in which she says it that gives me that impression. Or just because she seems to be a self-important raving bitch so much of the time.

Hydra had their spot first, with Lennox and Piers in the control room, and Marilu was excited and had a lot of energy, but it wasn't controlled energy, so she was pretty much just talking and talking and talking, even talking over the caller on the phone. She sort of demonstrated the item, but she pretty much did the same thing repeatedly, and she almost seemed to rely on her own love of the item to sell it rather than actually selling the item itself.

When it was Empresario's turn, Trace was calm and quiet and explained and demonstrated all the good points of the sweeper, and he also mentioned easy pay, which Stephen had gotten from speaking to a QVC guy, which allowed people to pay in 5equal payments instead of paying all at once.

In the end, Empresario won both because they had a higher selling price and because they sold more units. When Trump mentioned easy pay to Hydra, they were shocked to hear about it, even Carol, who had worked for QVC for five years and knew nothing of it. Trump told Marilu to choose the one person who wouldn't be coming back into the boardroom, and she picked Carol. Later, Trump said he didn't understand why she picked Carol rather than picking Lennox, and that even with Marilu's and Piers' assertions that Lennox was sleepy and not very helpful in the early part of the day, Trump mentioned Carol not knowing about easy pay. I wonder if he would have fired Carol had she been one of the two brought back, but then again, he also stated that Marilu as project manager was responsible for the task and she had also had a few hiccups in previous challenges, so in the end, Trump fired Marilu.

"Knight Rider"

A group of mens conned their way into the house of an inventor (Charles, played by Bruce Davison), who then had a heart attack and died. As the men searched the house, shooting an automated vacuum cleaner along the way, they encountered all kinds of different amazing electronic gadgets, but they were unable to stop the car, KITT, from getting away.

They then played the theme of the show, which was a cool re-done version of the original theme.

KITT then went to pick up Charles' daughter Sarah, who was at Stanford. Being a Cal grad, I will forgive the fact that she was a teacher at Stanford.

On another front, Mike Traceur had a car that had been used in racing, but he wasn't doing very well, and he owed his investors $90,000, who wanted to collect immediately, or harm would come to Mike and his friend/roommate.

Meanwhile, KITT 3000 (who used to be KITT 2000 in the previous show) had the ability to morph into a different kind of Mustang vehicle with different features and colors by way of nano technology, which is how KITT and Sarah escaped the men at Charles' house who were now after Sarah. KITT had been programmed to pick up Sarah and then find Mike, a friend of Sarah's since childhood, and when they discovered he was in Las Vegas, they headed there.

It turned out that the men were working for a group called Black River, a private security company who wanted Charles because of his work with Prometheus, a program for the military where weapons could be operated by remote control. They wanted to get control of Prometheus so they could control the weapons.

Sarah found Mike at the Montecito Hotel (which is the fictional hotel where NBC's show "Las Vegas" is based, and which is apparently used any time another NBC show has to go to a casino in Las Vegas). Black River's men came after Sarah and Mike, but Mike had previously been an Army Ranger, in special forces, so he was able to get himself and Sarah away from the men. After they got away, KITT wanted to go to the FBI, but Mike was against that idea. (On a separate note, they often showed shots of KITT talking by displaying various instruments on screen or showing the front of the car, which has lights that move back and forth. I couldn't help but think of the cylons from the original "Battlestar Galactica".)

FBI agent Carrie had been brought in to work with the County Sheriff on the case of Charles' death, but when she saw the body, she said that Charles was still alive. Charles had apparently been using a body double for some public appearances and other situations, and they showed in a flashback that it was the body double who stayed to confront the men while Charles escaped out a secret side door. After Carrie left, the County Sheriff was revealed to be working with the Black River men, and he passed on the information that Charles was still alive. Charles was running through the woods and ended up at a house, which we found out belonged to Jennifer, Mike's mother. Jennifer and Charles went to a hotel where he could call KITT, who then patched him through to Sarah, and Sarah relayed their whereabouts to Carrie, but the County Sheriff was also listening at the time, so he relayed the info to the Black River men. Mike ended up getting to Jennifer and Charles before the men did, and as they were escaping, Charles told Mike that he was in fact Michael Knight's son, and that he and his mother had to be left there for their own safety. The group ended up getting captured by the men, one of whom was hacking into KITT, and just before he got control of KITT, KITT shut down. In the ensuing melee, Jennifer was shot and died. The men left with Charles and left one man behind to kill Carrie and Mike and Sarah, but they overpowered the man and Mike drove KITT with Sarah in pursuit of Charles. During the ensuing chase, KITT was shot at, but because he was turned off, he could not use the nanotechnology to repair himself. Mike established eye contact with Charles at one point and then figured out what to do. He put KITT in the way of the car that Charles was in, and he had Sarah turn KITT on just before that, so before he could be taken over by the hacker, he was able to repair himself and make himself impenetrable - which was bad news for the car with Charles in it that ran right into them. Charles survived the crash, but his would-be captors did not.

On the way to Jennifer's funeral, Charles told Mike that he was resurrecting the Knight Foundation, and they wanted Mike to drive, but he refused. After the ceremony, when Mike was the only one left, he noticed a figure to the side, and when the figure came over, it was revealed to be Michael Knight himself. He said hello to his son and told him how he got involved in the Foundation, and he basically ended up talking Mike into driving for the Foundation. At the end, Mike was on to his first mission with KITT, with Charles, Sarah, Carrie and Mike's roommate, who was now working on KITT for the Foundation, bidding him farewell.

In recent years, there have been quite a number of "re-imaginings" of 70s and 80s television shows (like "S.W.A.T.", "Miami Vice", "Battlestar Galactica" and "Starsky & Hutch") where the new version pretty much completely ignores the existence of the original show. It's interesting that this year, there are two shows where it wasn't so much a re-done version as a continuing version. In this case, it's a passing of the torch, especially with Michael Knight's appearance and the new driver being his son. In the case of "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles", it's a continuation of the story as we know it, filling in blanks of time we didn't know about.

I generally enjoyed the show, though they had some of the same problems inherent in the first episode of anything, where they had to do a lot of explaining of who everyone was and what their relationship was. You pretty much have to lay the groundwork before you can really do the fun stuff. I thought Justin Bruening was very good as the title character, and I think he's got the right combination of seriousness, charm and humour to pull off the role. I don't quite have a feeling when it comes to the voice of KITT. If I hadn't already known, I don't think I would have been able to figure out that it was Val Kilmer. There's been much speculation about how they would tackle KITT since his voice was almost more iconic than Michael Knight or the car itself. I like that they decided to go in a completely different direction, so that there was no direct comparison. Kilmer's KITT is more mechanical and inquisitive and literal, not snarky and "British", for lack of a better term, like his predecessor. This KITT is more like the good female terminator in "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" or Data from "Star Trek: The Next Generation".

The movie apparently did very well in ratings, so there's a good chance it will come back as a series. I will be looking forward to seeing more of the show.

"Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" - last week

Derek didn't trust Cameron because he knew she was a terminator, and he didn't want anything to do with her.

Charlie did his best to save Derek, and then he later wanted to know from Sarah why she left him. She said she didn't want to but she had to. Charlie later said that Derek needed blood, but he wasn't sure where they'd find the matching blood type. John offered his blood, which was a match, though neither John nor Sarah explained why. Charlie told Sarah that the FBI guy had come by to ask questions about her but he hadn't told him anything. John considered telling Derek who he really was, but ultimately he decided not to and just told Derek that Kyle died a hero, fighting to the last.

There were a lot of segments in the future time when the resistance forces were fighting Skynet. Derek and Kyle were together, and Kyle had the familiar picture of Sarah. Derek was then captured by the terminators and then put into some kind of holding area, where he met someone named Andy, who told Derek it was all his fault, that he was one of the people who had built Skynet. One by one, the prisoners were taken to what seemed like a torture chamber that had nice classical music, but we never saw what happened there. Everyone who came back was exhausted enough to be barely able to walk. Hopefully, we'll learn more about that later. Eventually, Derek was let go, and when he made it back to his underground tunnel, he discovered that the terminators had destroyed it. He was told by another person that John and Kyle were at some facility but then Kyle was gone. We know that's when John sent Kyle back to protect Sarah and John, but Derek didn't know that. In the future timeline, Cameron was also a good terminator who ended up taking out a terminator gone bad, and she ominously warned Derek that sometimes, they went bad for no reason. Derek then met up with John again and was sent on his own mission back in time to the present timeline. Because of his earlier conversation with Andy, Derek knew that he needed to kill him. Even though he told Sarah that he didn't kill Andy, it was shown that he lied as he was in fact responsible for Andy's death. But we still didn't know what happened to Andy's computer.

In the current timeline, Cameron was dismembering and taking apart the terminator that they had destroyed, the one that had been after Derek. She was going to pour some solution on it that would dissolve everything. Sarah later came in to check on her progress and was adamant that every single piece of the terminator be destroyed, but she was unaware that Cameron had saved the power source instead of destroying it.

"Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" - this week

Cameron was dressed as a police officer on a motorcycle (what is it with terminators and motorcycles and leather and shades?) and deliberately caused a massive power outage in the city and then went to the police station, which was in disarray, and she went into the evidence lockers, and we found out later that she was looking for the terminator's hand.

The FBI agent (James Ellison) went to the mental hospital where Sarah had been held, and he watched video of her in one of her sessions. It was also revealed that he was in possession of the terminator's hand. When he was later away from his house, Sarah broke in, saw the tapes that he had, and took one of them. Later at the house, John stumbled upon it and watched it, which then upset him enough for him to leave the house. Sarah then discovered that he had watched the tape, which had been of her signing papers to give up John.

Meanwhile, Derek told Sarah that they needed to track down Dimitri, Andy's partner who taught the computer chess and who had disappeared. Sarah told Cameron that Dimitri's sister was a dance teacher, so Cameron signed up for her class, with the sister telling her that dance was the language of the soul.

Derek and Cameron were at the dining table, and Derek told Cameron that she could fool other people into thinking she was real, but she couldn't fool him. She then pulled a plate of pancakes to her and very deliberately took a forkful and ate it, which stunned Derek.

Ellison had gone to visit Dr. Silverman, who had retired after being Sarah's psychiatrist at the mental hospital. However, Silverman drugged Ellison because he thought Ellison might be a terminator from the future, so when Ellison came to, tied to a chair, Silverman decided to test him - by plunging a humongous knife into his leg. Silverman then believed that Ellison was human after passing that rather painful test. He then wondered if the apocalypse that Sarah had mentioned the machines would bring was the same apocalypse mention in the Bible. He said that he had been skeptical about everything Sarah had told him, but he became a believer when he saw the fight between the older, bigger terminator model and the newer, shiny, morphing terminator model. Unfortunately, he said he had no proof, so Ellison offered him proof - he had brought the terminator's hand, and it was in the trunk of his car. Once Silverman retrieved it (with Ellison still tied up - I knew he should have had Silverman untie him first), he said that the hand couldn't end up with the wrong people, so he gave Ellison a shot of something and then set his cabin on fire, presumably intending to leave Ellison to burn to death inside. As Silverman was leaving though, he encountered Sarah and apologized for not having believed her previously. Sarah decked him, said "apology accepted" and took off with the hand. (On a side note, Dr. Silverman was played by Bruce Davison, who recently portrayed the creator of KITT from "Knight Rider". Dude, you developed this super-intelligent car and yet you didn't believe Sarah was telling the truth that machines could become independently intelligent and do whatever the heck that they wanted? Yeah, yeah, I know. It was just messing with my head, like when I saw James Cromwell in "The Queen" just after he'd been revealed to be a bad guy on "24". Apparently, Prince Philip was a murderous treacherous liar and bad father. I kept expecting Prince Philip to kill people. But I digress.)

Cameron went back to see the dance teacher and intervened when a thug reappeared and threatened her. By gaining her trust this way, she then told the teacher she was looking for Dimitri and that she could help him, so the teacher took her to where Dimitri was, which freaked him out because he was afraid they had been followed. Dimitri told her that he had arranged to lose the final match to the Japanese by programming the computer to make a fatal error. He had already sold the computer and needed to get it out, and if they had won, he wouldn't have been able to do that. When Cameron asked who he sold the computer to, he handed her a business card. Sure enough, Dimitri then noticed that thugs had pulled up in a car, and they didn't know what to do. His sister said that Cameron would help them, and Cameron went out the door, but she just allowed the men through as they pushed past her in the hallway and went inside to kill Dimitri and his sister. Cameron heard their screams but she did nothing to intervene, presumably because she had already gotten the information she needed about where the computer went. She has mentioned on several occasions with regard to herself and other terminators that they set out to complete their mission and nothing else. Her mission had not been to save Dimiti and his sister, only to get the information, so she had allowed them to be killed. Cameron later gave the business card she had obtained from Dimiti to Sarah, so presumably, we'll find out more in the next episode.

Conversely, we saw that as Sarah was leaving the cabin, the windows blew out, and she heard Ellison's cries for help. We later discovered that she had gone back to rescue him. Her mission had been to retrieve the hand, and Ellison was really collateral, but her humanity could not let him die in that fire.

When Sarah returned to the house, she told John she knew he was mad at her for giving him up. She explained to him that right after she had signed the document, she knew it was a mistake, and she was in the middle of breaking out of the mental hospital when he had come to rescue her.

In a bit of fitting irony, Ellison then committed Silverman into the very mental hospital where he was formerly a doctor, and he was now the one ranting about the machines and the apocalypse. We then saw Ellison at a prayer meeting - was he covering for Sarah or did he just believe now in Judgement Day?

At the very end, Derek surreptitiously watched Cameron as she performed a ballet piece beautifully - and he cried and was appalled that she could duplicate the moves and feelings so well. There have been a lot of hints that Cameron is becoming more than just a machine, and that her helping John and Sarah is giving her the ability to learn a lot. That, coupled with her secretly keeping a piece of the terminator, sets up something going horribly wrong. I guess we'll find out next week in the two-hour season finale.

I hadn't realized it, but apparently, the actor who plays John Connor was also on "Heroes", as Claire's friend from high school who was filming her exploits of being able to heal herself no matter what.

It's been a really long time since I've seen any of the Terminator movies, so when Silverman was recounting the terminator fight he had witnessed, I hadn't really remembered him being there. I had to know, so we put a DVD of "T2" in and watched that whole sequence, and yep, there he was, standing against the wall during the whole thing. I think I had been too busy focussing on the main story to remember him having been there. What a great movie. We got as far as them getting to the parking garage and Sarah about to commandeer a car. We had to stop at that point, since it was already late, and I was getting so embroiled in the film again that I could have just watched the whole rest of the film right then and there.

"Big Brother" - Tuesday episode

Jen was extremely upset about having been nominated, so she tried to make a deal to be in an alliance with Amanda and that she would do whatever Amanda wanted her to. Meanwhile, Ryan assured Allison of his loyalty, that he wasn't going to lay down just to let Jen stay in the game.

We were then told that Neil had had to leave the house due to personal matters. There was no mention of what the reason was, and there has still been no real info released, but this story based on a myspace message posted by Neil has a little bit of information. It was also revealed that last week's evicted pair, Jacob and Sharon, had been at a sequester house (first I'd heard of that), so Joshuah could pick either of them to come back and be his partner. Joshuah knew how hated Jacob was so he picked Sharon. I was sad that Neil had to leave. I expect it had to be something fairly serious, so I hope all is well with him and his family. Neal and Joshuah were my favorite couple in the house. After Sharon came back into the house, Joshuah filled her in on Jen and Ryan, and she was furious that they had lied about their relationship.

Amanda flirted a lot and wanted a lot of attention, and she ended up being very friendly with Parker, which made Alex mad, because, as we later found out, he liked Amanda and was jealous of Parker. Amanda's really high-pitched voice really irritated me. I've never understood why that is supposed to be appealing.

Jen and Ryan were all over each other since they no longer had to keep their secret. If they wanted people to even consider keeping both of them in the house, they should have downplayed the relationship, not flaunted it. They went even further by having a quicky sex session in the bathroom, the only place without cameras, but they were discovered by Parker, who was going to use the bathroom and heard them through the door. Ummm, so there's only one bathroom in the entire downstairs area?

Chelsia knew about Allison's and Sheila's story that they were a lesbian couple with a son, so she told James, who didn't reveal all the details to Alex but just said he thought there was another secret couple in the house and that Alex should keep an eye out, so Alex was suspicious of Amanda and Parker, but when he confronted Amanda, she was angry and indignant and told Parker, and based on what Alex told her, she thought James had specifically pointed the two of them out, so Parker and Amanda were mad at James. Added into that mix was Chelsia being mad at Amanda for bad-mouthing James and Alex clarifying that James hadn't mentioned them by name but simply said to keep an eye out. I don't recall there being quite that much drama involving so many of the houseguests in the time that I've been watching.

For the veto competition, the HoH couple and the two nominated couples participated, and the other couple chosen to participate were Natalie and Matt, with Joshuah chosen as host. The challenge involved one member of the couple being strapped onto a wheel and having to keep a button depressed and the other member spinning the wheel, with the winner being whoever got to 300 revolutions first or whoever stayed on the longest without letting go of the button. Allison's hand accidentally dropped off the button, so she and Ryan were out first. Amanda and Alex were out next because she accidentally let go of the button, but she revealed in her diary entry later that she had done it on purpose. She reasoned that they were already targets because they were HoH, and she didn't want them to become bigger targets by winning the power of veto. In the end, Matt and Natalie were the winners of the competition by getting to 300. Matt later promised Parker that he would take him off, but ultimately, Matt and Natalie decided to not use the veto and let the nominations stand.

"Big Brother" - Wednesday episode

Further to Amanda's need to be the center of attention, she also gossiped a lot, about everyone and everything. I'm not even sure she necessarily realized what she was doing - she just needed to be talking all the time. She made some comment about Chelsia that made her mad at Amanda, and after Chelsia called her on it, Joshuah really went after her, screaming at her with obscenities and such. When someone made the comment that she should be given a noose (a common phrase to use, implying that one is going to hang oneself on his or her own words), Joshuah followed it up with "just like her father", making a reference to Amanda's earlier disclosure that her father had committed suicide by hanging himself. That outraged Amanda and brought her to tears, and it quieted the rest of the house. Joshuah's expletive-laden screaming at her was one thing, but that kind of comment was seriously uncalled for. I had liked Joshuah before, but his making that comment really affected my opinion of him.

Jen was trying to save herself from being evicted, so she told Sheila that Ryan was racist and that he didn't like the fact that she had previously dated a black man. Sheila eventually told Ryan what she said, and Ryan was really mad because it wasn't just about the game - it was about their relationship. Jen was then mad at Sheila for telling Ryan, and she denied having called Ryan a racist, even though it was caught on camera. I couldn't tell if Jen was actively lying or if she really didn't realize/remember that she had said that.

When it came time for the voting, it wasn't revealed what the individual votes were, which I thought was odd, but by a vote of 3 to 1, Jen and Parker were evicted. One thing that made me happy about that was that Matt wasn't going to have to say Parker's name anymore. His really strong Boston accent bothered me, and whenever he would say Parker's name, my initial reaction was to wonder who he was talking about, and it would take a second for my brain to filter that he was referring to Parker. So Jen and Parker were the second couple evicted, but because they had won the earlier challenge, they each got $5,000.

Another odd thing about the voting is that I think it was said that both members of a couple had to agree on who to evict, and if they couldn't agree, then they ran the risk of being evicted themselves. Since they've never had couples before, it was never an issue previously, and I guess they had to have some incentive for each couple to have to make a decision. I guess we'll see in the future what the consequences might be if a couple can't agree on who to evict.

The new HoH challenge was one where they had to guess how the majority of the house would answer certain questions, and whatever the majority picked would actually happen. So they had to pick between no hot water and no hot food, and they picked no hot water. That made no sense to me. You can have lots of decent food that's not hot, and it's only for a week, but to go without hot water for a week would be a serious issue for me. They also had to pick between there being no cups in the house or no utensils, and they picked no cups. That made no sense either. You can improvise for utensils, and there are lots of things you don't even need utensils for, especially if they had picked "no hot food", but it's harder to improvise when there are no cups. There was something about the women being in bikinis for 24 hours, and then they had to choose between a margarita party and something else, and they chose the margarita party, which is going to be really interesting considering they have no cups. Maybe they'll use spoons since they still have those? There was something else about women cooking dinner, and another where they chose to have no washing machine for a week, but at least they'd still be able to hand-wash, so that wouldn't be so bad. The winners of the HoH competition ended up being Chelsia and James, which really disturbed Amanda and Alex because of the drama earlier.

"Big Brother" - Sunday episode

James and Chelsia promised Matt and Natalie that they would not be nominated, which made Matt and Natalie happy. Instead, James decided to target Alex and Amanda, and he made an agreement with Ryan and Adam to get Alex and Amanda out next.

The houseguests were shown trying to improvise cups by using bowls for everything instead. We noticed that some of the footage they showed during this episode must have been from before because there were still cups lying around the house whereas at the end of the previous episode, when they went back in the house after the HoH competition, all the cups had been removed. We never saw anything having to do with the women in bikinis, but maybe that'll be shown later, in addition to the margarita party and the other effects of the HoH competition.

Allison and Sheila had previously told Joshuah their lie about being a couple, and Joshuah relayed their "secret" to Sharon. It turned out that Allison wanted to tell Joshuah and Chelsia the truth about her and Sheila, though she was afraid of how Joshuah would take their lie about their sexuality. They were pretty much doing what Jen and Ryan did when they revealed their relationship because they thought Allison was going to spill. In this case, Allison was afraid someone was going to use their lesbian story against them, so they decided to come clean first.

After the big blow-up from the previous episode, Amanda forgave Joshuah for his reference to Amanda's father, and she offered him an alliance. He said he didn't know if he could trust her, and she said he could, but he didn't technically accept her offer, though I think she thought he did.

Natalie revealed that she was falling for Matt. (Does it irritate him or anyone else that she refers to him as "Matty"?). While Matt said he could be attracted to her, he rebuffed her repeated advances because he didn't want to be distracted from the game.

The food challenge involved the six couples being divided into two teams, and half of the team would be holding individual nets while the other team members would be throwing fish into the opposing team's nets. How weird that this was almost exactly like last week's immunity challenge on "Survivor", except there were three individual nets rather than one group net and they were throwing fish rather than coconuts. The yellow team won, so that meant that the green team was on slop for the week. However, even though Chelsia and James were on the green team, they still retained full food privileges because they were HoH.

After the challenge, Amanda claimed that people still didn't like her and were picking on her because at one point, the opposing team members were all throwing fish into her net to get her to drop it. Umm, no, honey, the world does not in fact revolve around you. It was complete strategy. Your own team had already targeted and succeeded in bringing down Ryan on the other team, and your teammate James was targeted before you.

Up in the HoH bedroom, there was some tension and flirting between James and Chelsia. (I want to know what James' tattoos say. They must be really bad because they were all blurred out.) Chelsia and James engaged in their own make-out session in bed.

Allison and Sheila decided to tell Chelsia the truth about their lesbian lie, and then Chelsia had them tell James. Allison then later told Joshuah, and I loved Joshuah's line that with Allison and Sheila supposedly not lesbians and Joshuah was now sharing a bed with a woman, he wasn't even sure if he was gay anymore.

The nominated couples came as a surprise, moreso to some than others. Alex and Amanda were nominated, but Matt and Natalie were also nominated (even though James had said they wouldn't be), with James explaining that nominating them was the only way to guarantee that they would participate in the PoV competition and that the real targets were Alex and Amanda.

"Law and Order: CI" - A dentist who had an expensive private practice as well as a low-income clinic was found dead. The detectives tracked down two kids who had one of his credit cards, and they told the detectives that they saw a woman leave his office. It turned out that the woman's son had died after a visit with the dentist. At first, he only seemed drunk, but then it got worse. The dead boy's friend revealed that several of them had broken into the dentist's office, and they were drinking mouthwash to get high. However, it turned out that the dentist had contaminated mouthwash which had traces of a chemical found in anti-freeze in it, and with the large quantities that kids were drinking, the cumulative effect was killing them. The detectives discovered that the head of the company that made the mouthwash had a connection at the FDA so that any problems were covered up, but after the death of someone who was going to expose that connection, it turned out that one of the company executives who had felt ignored and devalued had purposely triggered an allergy attack from the man and then given him a fake inhaler. Yeah, OK, so I don't think I got all the details of the story. Truthfully, I was bored with the episode, so I didn't care that much.

"Law and Order" - An orthopedic surgeon who was attending a doctor's convention was found dead in his room. The detectives tracked down a woman who was advertising for some company, and it turned out that she and a partner had a scheme to scam married men out of money. She would seduce them and then they'd ask for hush money to cover up the affair, although in this case, the man had ultimately turned her down before he was killed. It turned out that the wrong person was killed. The dead man was staying in a room registered to another doctor who didn't end up going to the convention. The other doctor had made the acquaintance of a warden, who had asked him for help. The warden had been unable to find any local doctors willing to attend when death sentences by lethal injection were being carried out, so the warden had flown in this doctor from out of town to be the attending physician, but in one case, something went horribly wrong, and a man who had killed two people had instead been turned into a vegetable and used as a rallying cry/sympathy case by those opposing capital punishment. The person who killed the doctor turned out to be a relative of the people who the man had murdered. The relative had attended the execution, hoping for closure, but instead, he saw the person who had murdered his loved ones turned into a martyr. The doctor had refused to testify against him, but the DA's office decided to prosecute him for murder in two cases where the death sentences were carried out before all the appeals had been exhausted. Their real intention was to out him as a doctor who assisted in executions, a fact he had been trying to keep quiet. In the end, he was forced to testify, but because the man who killed the wrong doctor felt bad about what he'd done, he ended up pleading out. Yeah, I wasn't all that interested in this episode either, even though some of the premise was interesting.

I'm still hovering on stopping watching the shows. The preview for this week's "Law and Order" looked good, so we'll see how that turns out. It's been announced that Jesse L. Martin will be leaving the show, partly because he will be playing Marvin Gaye in the biographical film. I like the new guy ok, but he's still seriously new, so having yet another new guy, coupled with the new ADA and Jack not being Jack anymore, I'm not sure I can make it through another cast change.

80th Academy Awards

There have been years when I've eagerly watched the Oscars, but that hasn't happened in a while. My interest usually depends on how many of the majorly-nominated films I've seen. This year, the only movie I'd seen that was nominated in any major category was "Ratatouille", nominated for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Screenplay.

This year, I watched the show on DVR, starting with half an hour before the actual show started. I fastforwarded through the songs and the production numbers and the special tributes and most of the acceptance speeches. I only heard one or two of those. I also fastforwarded through most of the announcements of nominees and pretty much just stopped to hear the name of the winner. I was happy that "Ratatouille" won for Best Animated Feature and that "Juno" won for Best Original Screenplay. I listened to most of Jon Stewart's stuff, and I thought he was pretty good, and though I still would prefer that they leave all the political stuff out of it, he actually made comments about both sides. I stopped at various points to look at a few of the dresses that the women were wearing.

Jennifer Garner looked great in a beautiful dress and necklace, but Jennifer, get your hair out of your face. It doesn't look natural, it just looks messy. There were a few other women who had a similar kind of hairstyle as well.

Kathryn Heigel had on a great dress as well, slightly similar to Ann Hathaway's, but I liked Kathryn's better.

Jessica Alba wore a dress in a beautiful maroon color, but then she had some weird feathery stuff along the bodice line. I'm not a fan, but apparently others are, because other women had similar feathery stuff.

Amy Adams did the "hair draped over one shoulder" thing that a few of the other women were doing as well.

Helen Mirren had on a gorgeous dress, red in the body with sparkly sheer mid-sleeves. She looked beautiful.

John Travolta - What was up with his hair making him look like a vampire?

The Barbara Walters Special

After the Oscars, I watched the Barbara Walters special for the first time in years. I had noticed that Harrison Ford would be on, so I wanted to see that, but I actually enjoyed the entire show.

I don't know much about Miley Cyrus and didn't even know she was Billy Ray Cyrus' daughter for the longest time. I have of course heard of Hannah Montana and that whole madhouse, but I didn't know Miley had dark hair and wore a wig to play Hannah or that her concerts were six of one and half-dozen of the other. It was a really interesting interview. One of the questions Barbara asked her was with reference to other girls who had stardom at an early age (like Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan) and the trouble they've gotten into and how was she going to avoid that. Miley's answer was that her faith and her family were going to keep her from getting into that kind of trouble. Even though she has perqs that most 15-year-olds obviously don't have (like having your own wing of the mansion), it seemed from what she said that she still had to deal with consequences when she disobeyed her parents, and they were actually still parents to her. She seemed like a very grounded kid, and it's nice to see that not all parents of celebrities are abdicating their responsibilities.

I've heard interviews with Vanessa Williams before, so it was just fun watching her again. She certainly has gone through so much since winning, and stepping down from, the Miss America title. I knew that she had an amicable divorce from former Laker Rick Fox, but it was funny to hear that at one point, she and Rick and her other ex-husband all shared her house for a period of a couple weeks. It was also nice to hear that they have all maintained a good relationship because of their shared children.

I didn't know much about Ellen Page other than that she was the star of "Juno" and that she was nominated in the Best Actress category at that young age (she just turned 21 about a week ago) opposite some really heavy-hitters. I had meant to see "Juno" but still haven't gotten around to it, so hopefully, I'll be able to catch it sometime in the next week or so. I also hadn't realized that she had been in "X-Men: The Last Stand", the third film in the trilogy, as the girl who could walk through walls. Hers was another very interesting interview, and she too is very mature for having just turned 21.

Harrison Ford has come across as being a bit odd in recent years, whether during various awards shows when he hasn't seemed quite all there or drunk or whatever, and then there was his bizarre recitation of Dr. Seuss' "Oh, The Places You'll Go" before last year's Superbowl. This was a very good interview, back to the Harrison that I'm familiar with. I had forgotten that part of what I love about him is that he and Ridley Scott had disagreed about Rick Deckard in "Blade Runner". While Scott insisted that Deckard was a replicant and fashioned the film that way, Harrison was adamant that Deckard was not and played him as not being a replicant. Yep, Harrison, you're right, he's not supposed to be a replicant. I'm really looking forward to seeing Indy IV.

Some good news has been released about "The Big Bang Theory". Now that the writer's strike is over, they will be coming back with new episodes, and because the show had been doing so well, they've already gotten an early pick-up for a second season. Yayyyyyy!!!!!

And speaking of the writer's strike, because it went on for so long and they didn't know when it was going to end, they had to come up with new programming, most of it reality shows since they don't require writers, and fruits of that labor are manifesting now on the schedule. Here are some of the gems you can look forward to seeing on a television channel near you: Amnesia, The Baby Borrowers, My Dad is Better Than Your Dad, Here Come the Newlyweds, and Just For Laughs.

Monday, February 25, 2008

coolness quotient

Are you one of those who were one of the cool kids in high school? Do you want to know if you've retained your coolness? Or were you one of the uncool people and want to know if you've gained any cool points?

Well, here's a test to determine your coolness quotient.

Yeah, I did think that was really funny. :)

Sunday, February 24, 2008

"Vantage Point" - movie review

The basic premise of this movie is that when events happen, different people experience different parts of it and are privy to information others are not, and it's not until you get all of their viewpoints that you can get the full picture.

I really liked the way the story was presented, and I had not known beforehand the technique they would be using. The performances all around were very good, with special recognition for Dennis Quaid.

But the really spectacular part of the movie was in the editing. With the complicated (but definitely not convoluted) storytelling, you could easily screw this film up in the editing, but they did a great job. Hopefully, that will get remembered during next year's Oscars.

I would like to see this movie again so that I can catch things the second time around that I missed the first time, not knowing everything I know now, but I'll probably wait until the DVD comes out. The only downside for me is that there were a LOT of jumpy parts. Jumpy cameras in films does not sit well with me, and with one segment that's a POV from a hand-held camera, several footchases and car chases and lots of frenetic and chaotic action and lots of quick editing, there were parts that were difficult to watch for me. It wasn't as bad as "Cloverfield", but there were parts that I did have to watch with my peripheral vision rather than dead on.

It's definitely a movie that I recommend, and if you plan to see it later, stay away from all spoilers.

That being said, now we get to the spoiler section of the review. If you don't want to know spoilers, don't read any further, and I'm going to say here that spoilers are allowed in the comments area, so if you don't want spoilers, don't read there either.

No, seriously, stop now, because I'm going to post serious spoilers.

Yeah, really, serious, oh-my-gosh-I-can't-believe-that-happened spoilers.

OK, I'll mention the lighter spoilers first.

With regard to the storytelling technique, I had not know that they were going to tell the same segment of time from several viewpoints, in succession. (You could hear from some of the reaction in the audience that some people weren't happy with that device. I found it very interesting myself, much preferable to something like "Timecode" where you saw the same exact scene from about four different angles with split screen. Yeah, I love "24", but they don't usually do more than two or three angles. Four for the entire film is a *LOT* of work. But I digress.) First, you see the events from the general viewpoint of Quaid's character, as well as some peripheral stuff that happens with the camera crew, though that becomes important later. You can mark the time with various milestone events happening - the initial news broadcast, the motorcade, the speech, the president getting shot, the first explosion and then the second explosion. After each viewpoint is told to a certain point, they do a literal rewind to start the day over again, which happens to be at noon, from another person's point of view. As each person's story is told, you get a little bit more information, like the president isn't really dead because they used a body double, you find out where the first explosion came from, you find out how the second explosion came about, and you find out where the shots came from.

And then there's the major reveal - that even though one of the terrorists is a cameraman with the news channel and another is working at the hotel, the biggest mole is a Secret Service agent, played by Matthew Fox, who most people know from "Party of Five" or "Lost". In this case, it's the casting that really cements keeping the secret until it's finally revealed on screen. There is absolutely no indication prior to that point, when you realize that he was lying, but at the time, the lie seemed completely plausible. The choice to cast Fox makes it impossible to suspect that he's actually working for the terrorists, since you wouldn't expect him to play that kind of role. If the character was played by someone who was known for playing the bad guy or even someone fairly unknown, you wouldn't have that built-in trust that you do have with Fox. This is very similar to another film where an actor who generally played a good guy turned out to be the seriously evil guy in the film, and it was the same kind of thing where it was the casting that sold it. I'm not naming the film here since it would be a serious spoiler, but if you've seen it, you probably know which film I'm referring to.

After you've gotten several viewpoints, the action then merges back into the format of a regular linear telling of the story, which works quite well.

As far as story is concerned, there are a couple parts that I found a little bit hard to believe, particularly with regard to Quaid's character. Near the end of the film, he gets plowed into by another car and basically gets crunched against a wall, but he manages to climb out, completely unhurt, to pursue Fox. He later gets shot, but he seems to barely feel it or even show that he's been shot at all. The other story point I didn't care for was the Spanish police officer in plainclothes who apparently brought a duffle bag in because this woman he's hot for asked him to, but he NEVER BOTHERED TO CHECK WHAT WAS IN THE BAG. OK, yeah, she asked you to bring it, but you're going into a seriously high security zone, and you're being let through unchecked because you're a cop. No matter how much you trusted her and wanted to sleep with her, wouldn't you make sure you knew what was in the bag? Hmmm, I had no idea I was bringing a bomb into this mega-secure location. Yeah, dufus.

I did love that the fan was turned on via remote, not to mention the gun and the shots themselves. Very cool but seriously terrifying.

"Charlie Bartlett" - movie review

I love Hollywood blockbusters and big event movies and special effects and star actors and directors. But I also love small gems of pictures. This is definitely one of them. I think the last time I thought a picture was absolutely perfect was when I saw "Glory". After seeing this movie, I walked out of the theatre with absolutely nothing that I thought was wrong with it.

Charlie Bartlett is a child of privilege who nonetheless has been expelled from numerous private schools, so he lands in a public school. Like every other kid in high school, he has a hard time fitting in at first, until he inadvertently finds a niche - as informal counselor to the other lost kids in the school. His popularity rises, and he starts to gain the recognition and acceptance that he's always longed for, but a near-tragedy almost puts that to an end. He finds that as much as he enjoys helping others, there are some more personal matters that he needs to attend to.

I heard about this movie when I was listening to Ralph Garman's movie beat on KROQ. He gave a short description of the movie, and it sounded pretty quirky and kind of interesting. It was an absolutely amazing movie, but in a quiet kind of way. The story had beats that have been done before, but it wasn't the beats themselves that were good - it was the execution of the beats. And even though the gist of the story is about high school angst, I think the film serves to remind us what our high school years might have been like in trying to fit it and finding a place for yourself, but it also translates well into other aspects of life, whether it's work or any kind of social situation.

Anton Yelchin is spectacular as the lead character. He has an air of sincerity about him so that even in somewhat odd circumstances, you completely believe everything he's doing and saying. There are a couple of scenes where he really has to let go, with different emotions, and he's terrific. I'm not really familiar with him from his previous work, but he was in an episode of "Law and Order: Criminal Intent", so I probably saw him in that. He's about to get much more exposure, though, as he will be playing Pavel Chekov in the next "Star Trek" movie, appropriate enough as he was born in Russia.

Robert Downey Jr. plays the principal of the high school Charlie attends, and my first thought was how odd it was that he's progressed to the point of playing a principal. But he doesn't play your standard-fare stuffy principal. He does a good job in the movie, and he has a spectacular scene when Principal Gardner and Charlie are on the deck above Gardner's pool.

Kat Dennings plays Susan, a girl who befriends Charlie, and for some reason, she catches your attention the first time she appears onscreen, just as she's having the same effect on Charlie. She's also very good in this film, giving Susan a lot of depth.

Tyler Hilton plays Murphey, the resident school bully. I first became aware of Tyler Hilton because I was listening to Mark and Brian, who have a syndicated radio show broadcast out of Los Angeles. At 16, he was a musician who had called into their show, and they were so impressed by him that they had him perform at one of their events, and he gained recognition from there. He did work on his music more, and then he started acting. Some may know him from the series "One Tree Hill". I didn't particularly follow him, but I thought he was good playing Elvis Presley in "Walk the Line". He is absolutely wonderful in this film. He plays a range that's pretty impressive, and based on his performance in this film, I can see his acting career continue to blossom.

I don't know how much publicity is being done for this film. I hadn't heard about it prior to Ralph mentioning it, but I hope more people find out about it. It's definitely something I'd recommend heartily. My only concern having to do with the film is that it was released two days before this year's Academy Awards. I can definitely see this film being a contender next year, but the Academy members are going to have to be reminded of this film come nomination time.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

sea otters holding hands

Tammy Bruce had this on her site, and I just had to duplicate it. You have to watch until the very end.

I miss sea otters. I used to spend hours at Sea World in San Diego just sitting and watching them. Their old enclosure was out of the way, so a lot of people didn't even know it was there, which was good for me. I could also sit on the ground and watch them play or sleep. The video above is from an aquarium in Vancouver, and the setup looks kind of like Sea World's old enclosure - that's the view you had of them, looking down into the water. When they opened the new enclosure, it was a bit more difficult to see them well, and you had to stand the whole time. We haven't gone to Sea World in quite a while for various reasons, so I miss seeing them. Does this mean I have to go to Vancouver to see them?

Friday, February 22, 2008

new Mr. Potato Head announced - Indy!

The press release apparently went out last week, but I just heard about it this morning. With the release of the next Indiana Jones movie coming out in May, there are going to be a glut of new toys released, as you'd expect.

Here's the full press release.

But what got my attention is the new Mr. Potato Head - Taters of the Lost Ark.

Doesn't he look amazing? I *love* the Potato Head idol. And he's got a different mouth than regular Mr. Potato Heads - the sneer is awesome. He's going to make a great addition to our collection. I expect this is going to sell very well.

The action figures look like they might be interesting. I'll have to see what characters and scenarios they have before I decide what I might want.

Delphi Greek Cuisine - restaurant review

At lunch the other day, the restaurant that I frequent was having some kind of kitchen problem, and when I walked in, they said it would be 30 minutes before they could cook anything, so since I didn't have that kind of time, I wandered off in search of something else. I found a small Greek restaurant that I hadn't remembered noticing before. I browsed the menu outside, and it looked pretty good, so I decided to give it a try.

The menu consisted of appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches, specials and desserts. After browsing for a few minutes, I decided to have a cup of the avgolemono soup and then the chicken kebab sandwich.

The soup was a little different than I'd had at other Greek places. Instead of having defined ingredients, it was more of a creamed soup with just little bits of stuff, but I still loved the great flavor and the lemon taste. The soup was very creamy and smooth, so it was a nice starter.

The chicken kebab sandwich actually came as pita wrapped around the sandwich contents. The menu wasn't very descriptive and hadn't said that, so I was pleased that it wasn't just a regular sandwich. There was a good portion of chicken in the sandwich, and the chicken had good flavoring with the spices on it. I also enjoyed the red onions and the pita was good too - all around a nice sandwich.

The sandwich also came with a small side of Greek salad, which I really enjoyed. It had a LOT of feta cheese, and I loved the flavor of the dressing.

It's a pretty small place, one that could easily be overlooked. The tables were set with white linen, which was fancier than I had expected. The staff was quite attentive and pleasant, with my water glass being constantly filled. There was apparently some kind of problem with the front door though, as it would often remain open after someone came in or went out since you had to be very firm about closing it. The staff was repeatedly going to close the door since the open door let the chilly air in.

All in all, it was a very nice lunch, and it's definitely somewhere I'd go again. The only difficulty I can see is that since it's on busy Westwood Blvd., parking can be an issue. When I'm in the area, I'm usually going to Borders, which is across the street, and for a purchase at Borders, you can park in their underground lot for free for a couple of hours.

Delphi Greek Cuisine
1383 Westwood Blvd.
Westwood, CA 90024

Thursday, February 21, 2008

name this child actor

I always find it interesting to watch the development of child actors, both in terms of physical appearance and career development. Some kids play on the cute factor but then lose it once the cuteness disappears as they get older. But other kids show that they've got talent to take them further. And maybe continuing good looks growing up doesn't hurt either.

Can you identify this actress by her picture as a child?

That picture was from her stint playing Sarah Roberts on the daytime soap opera "One Life to Live" in 1997.

Have you guessed her yet? How about another picture?

That picture was just a basic headshot, from maybe a year or two later.

She then provided the voice of Dot in the animated feature "A Bug's Life".

How about another picture?

That picture was from her time playing Lizzie Spaulding on the daytime soap opera "The Guiding Light" in 2000.

Still need some help?

Those are two other pictures from around the same time. The second is a standard head shot. I don't know if the first was just a candid or an informal head shot.

Need more hints?

That picture is from the film "Joe Somebody", from 2001.

Well, if you still haven't guessed yet, the next picture will be a dead giveaway.


Yep, all the pictures above are of Hayden Panettiere, probably best known for playing cheerleader Claire Bennett in the television show "Heroes".

That was a more recent picture of her from an event.

And the next picture is a more adult picture of her. Yes, lots of people were inexplicably very happy when she turned 18 last year.

I can't remember if I was actively watching "One Life to Live" when she was on it, so while I remember her character, I don't remember her necessarily. I've seen "A Bug's Life" once but don't particularly remember the voice of Dot. I didn't watch "The Guiding Light", so I never saw her in that. She was apparently in two episodes of "Law and Order: SVU", which I do watch, but there were a couple years where I didn't, so I might not have seen her first episode, though I probably saw her second episode, but I don't remember her. I was kind of interested in seeing "Ice Princess" pretty much for Michelle Trachtenberg, but I never got around to it. I hear that Hayden was really good in it, though, and she also sang a song, though I don't know if it was on camera or if the song was over the credits or something. I've heard the song, and she's quite good, so I'll probably pick up the DVD sometime. And for a number of reasons, I had no desire to see the direct-to-video movie "Cinderella III: A Twist in Time", but she sings a song on the soundtrack, and it sounds really good as well, so I might pick up the CD of that. I probably wouldn't be able to bear watching the movie. (When I saw the entirety of "Cinderella" for the first time last year, I was crying my eyes out.) Or I might just look for her one song on iTunes since I don't know that I'd care about the soundtrack as a whole.

Apparently, Hayden is no stranger to music. If you go to her official website here, you'll see that she's actually been working on an album, and she's also planning a tour once the album comes out. Obviously, that will have to be worked around her schedule on "Heroes". If you go to her website, you can hear "I Fly", the song from "Ice Princess", and you can see the music video of "I Still Believe" from "Cinderella III: A Twist in Time", as well as hear some of her original songs. I think the beginning of "My Hero is You" is a little shaky, but it certainly picks up, and I like the song as a whole, and I rather like "Go To Girl". I'm curious to hear the song called "Saved" that she mentions on the site. I find it interesting that she sings with an accent/inflection that I don't hear when she's speaking. Or maybe it's just that she doesn't use one on "Heroes". I don't think I've ever seen/heard an interview with her, so I've probably not ever heard her "regular" voice. Hmm, if I like her album enough, I might just be going to one of her concerts.

One of the things I find really interesting about Hayden is that she can take on so many different looks and characters, from innocent to sultry, depending on how she's dressed, what her hair looks like and what expression and demeanor she uses. It'll be interesting to see how her careers, both in acting and music, progress.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Disney's Food and Wine Festival - April 11 through May 5

Disney has announced that they will again be holding their Food and Wine Festival this year, from April 11 through May 5. Here is the press release about the Food and Wine Festival.

Here is the website highlighting the signature (i.e., paid) events.

We went to "Taste" last year, and this year's event looks practically identical, with the same restaurants participating (I find it curious that Tortilla Jo's wasn't included last year nor are they included this year), the event being held in the same location and even down to the identical tag line (maybe they're branding?), sponsor and participation by celebrity chef Jamie Gwen. The event is $25 more expensive this year - it was $100 last year and $125 this year, and this year, the event is open to everyone, whereas last year, it was an event exclusively for annual passholders.

I thought last year's event was terrific and definitely worth the money. I don't know what they're restricting ticket sales to this year. One thing I liked was the more intimate nature of the event, and since it's being held in the same place, I'm not sure how that's going to work, though I'm not sure how many people want to go who wouldn't have been able to go last year because they weren't APs. Then again, last year, it was the first year of "Taste", and no one really knew what to expect. I would imagine they got good word-of-mouth so that might generate some interest this year. I'm not sure if the price tag would prove somewhat of a deterrent though.

We're not going to reserve ahead of time like we did last year. If there are still tickets available close to the day of the event, we'll decide then if we want to go again.

Here's my review of "Taste" from last year which includes extensive information on the event itself, descriptions and extensive pictures of all the food and wines that were available, and pictures of Barrage, who provided the musical entertainment for the evening.

The celebrity chef dinner with Guy Fieri sounds interesting even though I have no clue who he is, but the appeal for me is really that it's being held at Napa Rose, one of my favorite restaurants, but the $185 per person price is pretty steep.

At the top left of the second link I provided above, you can also click on the "complimentary events" tab to find out about other things being held as part of the Festival. Curious, though, that the Taste of California Marketplace isn't listed anywhere on either page. This is the description from the press release: "At the 'Taste of California Marketplace,' guests will enjoy festival foods created especially for the event. Delicious tapas-sized tastings, along with expertly paired wines and beers, will be available in the Pacific Wharf area." That's in DCA, btw. We really enjoy that and generally try everything that's available, which makes for a fairly expensive lunch, but usually very tasty all around. Last year, they didn't have any wine that I liked, so I didn't have any. The first year, though, they did, so it was rather interesting to be drinking in the middle of a warm afternoon. The alcohol and the wine sure made for one intoxicating combination.

We'll probably do the Marketplace thing on the first weekend and then bother our friends working MouseAdventure like we normally do.