Sunday, November 30, 2008

"Changeling" - spoiler movie review

I'd seen the trailer for "Changeling", and it looked kind of interesting, but I wasn't sure if I was going to see it. However, the more I kept hearing about it, I found myself drawn further in, so I went to a sparsely-attended Friday afternoon showing of the film.

The story is about Christine Collins, a woman whose son goes missing, and the Los Angeles Police Department is put on the case. They claim that her son was found in another state, but when he's brought back, she says it's not him. They insist that he is, even suggesting that she "try it" for a few days and see how it goes. The L.A.P.D wants the good press from having found her lost son, so her assertion that the boy they found is not her son falls on deaf ears. And if they've claimed to have already found her son, no need to keep looking, right?

I absolutely loved the film. It was top notch in all aspects. I'm not a particular fan of Angelina Jolie's, but she was just spectacular in this film. She played all the notes just perfectly, and despite what press stories might come up about her, there's no denying the talent she displays on screen. I also loved the period look of the film, and that they used the old Universal logo at the beginning of the film.

I'm interested enough in the story that I might try to find out what actually happened as opposed to what was shown in the film. The attitude and treatment by the police officers was just atrocious, not to mention the so-called doctor at the mental institute. During those segments, I wondered if Angelina Jolie flashed back to her time shooting "Girl, Interrupted".

Clint Eastwood does a terrific job directing the film (in addition to providing the score/music for the film), and I was surprised that the screenplay was written by J. Michael Straczynski, of "Babylon 5" fame. John Malkovich also does a good job in the movie as Christine's only advocate.

"Survivor: Gabon" - November 20, 2008 and November 27, 2008 episodes

November 20, 2008 episode

Bob is sort of on his own, so he seemed to feel comfortable telling Sugar that he made a fake immunity idol. I thought that was odd for him to volunteer. I'm wondering if there's some other kind of interaction they had that we haven't been shown.

It's auction time as each contestant is given $500 to spend, with no pooling of resources or sharing of items. Ken bids on an item which turns out to be a note, which says that he can send one person to exile and then he gets all of that person's money. He chooses to send Bob to exile, and since Bob hasn't spent anything, Ken gets all of his money. But then the weird thing is that Ken never actually ends up buying anything else.

Sugar buys chocolate and peanut butter. Susie buys a bath and clean clothes, and Sugar is amazed that Susie gets out before her time is up because she says she would have stayed in there until they told her she had to get out. Matty gets cheeseburger and fries.

Corinne had decided that she didn't need food but rather, a way to stay in the game, so when there is a mystery note that would help in the game, she goes for broke and pays all her money for that. Jeff says she will read it at the next immunity challenge.

Randy ends up getting the most stuff. He started off with peanuts and beer and then also gets spaghetti and wine. He then buys cookies for the tribe, but Sugar can't conceal her dislike for him and turns down his offer. When Randy has one cookie left and offers it to Sugar again, she takes it this time - but then hands it over to Matty, which makes Randy mad since the last cookie was his that he had offered to her. I get that she doesn't like him, and turning him down was one thing, but I did think it was pretty mean to then just give it to Matty.

Bob at exile still decides to take the clue rather than comfort since he hasn't figured out that the idol is gone, but when the clue is one he already had last time, he decides to just enjoy the scenery and takes a lovely walk of the sights. Back at camp, Matty is targeting Bob as the next to go.

Randy is still mad about the cookie and also for whatever reason just decides to go crazy and warns Corinne about it. He bad mouths everyone and behaves oddly, painting the biggest target on himself. He and Corinne are for some reason counting on the fact that Bob will get the hidden immunity idol on exile. Randy is hoping that Bob will give the idol to him, and then when they go to tribal, he can blindside Susie and vote her out.

At the immunity challenge, there's this two-part elaborate obstacle course they have to do. Corinne opens her note, which gives her a pass on the first round and takes her automatically to the final round. Yeah, it was kind of nice, but just because you're in the final round doesn't guarantee you anything. Ken and Matty win the first round and join Corinne in the final round. They have to stack dominoes so that they'll fall to trigger the winning move. It's a close race between Ken and Matty, but Ken ends up winning.

Sugar comes up with the idea for Bob to give the fake immunity idol to Randy, and Bob plays along, probably because he's got no in with anyone anyway, and he wants to stay in her good graces. Randy is thrilled when Bob offers the idol to him, and he looks forward to the fireworks at tribal. Corinne is still making derogatory remarks about Sugar, and once again, she underestimates Sugar. She's never going to learn that lesson.

At tribal, the votes are being cast, and Sugar is having trouble containing herself. I was wondering if she'd told the rest of the tribe. After Jeff gets the votes, Randy plays the idol, and he's grinning smugly from ear to ear. Jeff explains that it's not a real idol and throws the idol in the fire. (I was really surprised about that. Unlike the dumb stick previously, this was actually a nicely crafted fake idol that Bob spent a lot of time and effort on, and they usually do some kind of auction at the end of the show, and I think this would have been a nice collector's item.) At this point, the rest of the tribe, except for Randy, Corinne and Bob, are laughing outright - yep, Sugar told them. Randy is voted out, and Corinne is stunned. I'm thinking she's going to be pretty mad at Bob. I was surprised that Bob actually voted for Susie though.

November 27, 2008 episode

This wasn't a regular episode, but rather, a recap episode with stuff not previously shown and extras. They showed the audition tapes for some of the contestants - Sugar's was pretty bizarre. I'm glad she got rid of the rings in her nose - so not flattering at all for such a pretty girl. And Ken looks like he's 8 in his audition tape. They also recounted the disaster that was Fang and the triumph that was Kota. And while one of my co-workers hates Corinne, I've thought she was ok, but in the extra footage they showed of her, she's really not a very nice person. She has continually talked down about Sugar, mostly for superficial reasons, and she's even been kind of weird with her own tribe mates. It seems she bonded with Randy over their mutual dislike of Sugar, which is why Randy told her he was going to go crazy, which made me wonder why he told her, but that makes more sense now.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

"Repo! The Genetic Opera" - spoiler movie review

I'd only even heard of this film on a Friday, but we just had to see it, so we got together with our twisted friends and went to an early afternoon showing of the film on the very next day.

It's definitely not a film for everyone, even less so than something like "Tropic Thunder" or "Hamlet 2", but I really loved this film with all its quirkiness.

The main story is that organ failure is fairly common in society at this point, but it's too expensive for most people to afford an organ transplant. A company is willing to do the operations on credit and a repayment plan, but if they default on their payment, then a repo man is sent to repossess the transplanted organ(s). Yeah, did I mention it's pretty bloody and gory?

The film is shot in a very stylized fashion, with some bits done in comic-book style, but I really liked that. There were parts of the style that also reminded me of "Moulin Rouge". You get the main story, but then you get the background story of the side characters and learn their relationships to the other characters you already know, and in the end, everyone's got some kind of relationship with everyone else.

Anthony Head was really terrific in this film, and I loved watching him belt out some of the songs. I loved the balance of him playing doting father Nathan and the terrifying repo man.

Don't mess with mean...the Repo Man.

Alexa Vega was absolutely terrific as Shilo, Nathan's daughter. She was previously known for being in Disney's "Spy Kids" franchise, so this is definitely a departure. I loved her songs, especially in the fantasy sequence in her bedroom. (Here's a segment of that scene.) She's really the key to the entire story.

Alexa Vega as Shilo.

Paul Sorvino was pretty good in this film as well, though I was surprised that he actually sang.

Terrance Zdunich, co-writer of the film and co-creator of the original play upon which the film is based, does a fabulous job as the graverobber and sort of narrator and Greek chorus.

Both Sarah Brightman (as Blind Mag) and Paris Hilton (as Amber Sweet) were great in this film - perfect casting! Oh, there's a segment with Sarah in a hooded cape - she so looks like Christine from "The Phantom of the Opera" in the segment when she's going to visit her father's grave!

Sarah Brightman as Blind Mag, not Christine Daae.

Here's a segment of a sequence with Shilo and Blind Mag.

Here's a short segment of a song done by Amber Sweet and the graverobber.

There are reports that this is intended as the middle segment of a trilogy story, and I'm definitely on board for any sequels. I thought I might want the CD, but after seeing the movie, the songs don't really lend themselves to regular singing, so I think I'll just settle for the DVD and whatever extras might be on there.

Here's the trailer for the film.

Here's the official website.

"The Big Bang Theory" - November 17, 2008 episode

Raj and Sheldon are having a disagreement about what to watch. Raj wants to watch an episode of "Deep Space Nine" and Sheldon wants to watch "Saturn 3", so they debate the merits of each. Leonard tries to be funny and suggests that they watch "Babylon 5" instead as a compromise. Sheldon, not surprisingly, doesn't get the joke.

Tangential rambling: I've never seen "Saturn 3", but as I recall, it's one of those cult movies that are really bad but that some people really like. As far as whether or not "Deep Space Nine" is better, well, it all really depends on the episode. If it's any of the episodes where Sisko is seriously neutered because they were so frickin' terrified that Avery Brooks would lapse into Hawk, then I'll pass. Sisko was much less commanding and forceful than he needed to be considering the issues he had to deal with. Cardassian ship is chasing a Bajoran ship in Bajoran space - you think you might want to have a little passion about that? But as far as "Babylon 5", I never watched it at the time and heard all kinds of good things about it, so I gave it a try a couple years ago. It was awful. Maybe it was because it was the pilot and first couple episodes, but the dialogue was atrocious. I hear it got better as the show progressed, especially when Bruce Boxleitner took over as captain, but I couldn't hang in that long.

If they wanted a real compromise, they really needed to watch something with "six" in the title (since six is right in the middle between nine and three). I couldn't really think of anything science fiction that had six in it (maybe the writers couldn't either), but I did come up with "DeepStar Six", which I think I've vaguely heard of but don't know anything about.

When I was originally thinking of "six" movies, I thought about a movie we saw some time ago (which I generally liked), but I was wrong about the title, since it's actually called "Deep Blue Sea". It's about experiments on sharks that end up making them smart, but the husband objected when the shark swam backwards. I'd love to hear Sheldon's running commentary as he's forced to watch this movie!

Sheldon then explains that he's come up with a modified version of "rock paper scissors", adding "lizard" and "Spock" to the list, and then he goes through a whole explanation of how the two new elements fit into the equation with each existing item. They decide to use this new method to decide what to watch. Unfortunately, both Raj and Sheldon throw "Spock", so no resolution is reached.

Tangential rambling: I didn't quite catch Sheldon's whole explanation of who wins against what, and while the gesture for "Spock" is pretty obvious, I couldn't remember what the gesture was for "lizard", so a friend had to remind me. OK, so funniest damn thing, right? But, it turns out that the writers of the show didn't actually invent this new variation. Apparently [sic], Sam Kass came up with it back in 2005. Here's a YouTube clip of that segment of the show with the explanation.

I'm still not getting how paper defeats Spock though.

So the other funny thing is that for no reason I can remember, the husband and I have been regularly doing "paper rock scissors" just for the hell of it - we're not trying to break a disagreement or use it as a decider of anything - it's just to see what happens. We've been doing this for a few months now, at least, so it was funny when it appeared on the show. And in the days to follow after the show, we played the game again for the first time - and wouldn't you know, we both threw "Spock". You know that whole thing Sheldon says in the show about how when people know each other well enough, they're going to usually tie playing this game? Totally true. One of the frustrations is that often, we do end up in a tie, even with going through three rounds. Sure, I don't like to lose, but I hate repeated ties even more. It's so anti-climactic. The next couple times we played the game after the show ended, I think we tied with either "Spock" or "lizard". I think it took a few more rounds of playing before one of us won. I think it might have been the husband.

Howard comes in with some sort of eyepatch gimmick and a plan to insult women that he thinks is going to work in getting ladies. When Penny later comes in, and he tries the new method on her, she goes up to him and snaps his eyepatch.

Tangential rambling: I'm usually not very good about knowing what's about to happen in a show even though it might be telegraphed, but this time, I knew she was going to snap his eyepatch. That was awesome! As far as the "backhanded compliment that's really an insult" method - does that really work? It wouldn't work on me or anyone that I know.

The next dilemma is that "The Clone Wars" series is on TV, but Sheldon hasn't seen the movie yet, so he is resistant to watching the series before having seen the movie. I liked the movie and would be watching the series if I had cable, so I disagree with the sentiment, but Sheldon's line was still classic: "I prefer to let George Lucas disappoint me in the order he intended."

Tangential rambling: I really liked the movie. Yeah, the styling was a bit different, but that didn't bother me at all. But I totally agree with Sheldon's sentiment about needing to watch them in order. But then, I didn't see any of the episodes that ran on TV before the movie, so I guess that kind of blows away my theory. But, George now thinks that you should watch all six "Star Wars" movies in order of the internal chronology. Sorry, George, you're wrong. They need to be seen IV, V, VI, I, II, III. You so lose the impact of the revelation of Vader being Luke's father otherwise. And it's heartbreaking to see Anakin and know and watch him become Vader. Yeah, I know, a lot of people don't like I, II and III. There are elements I don't like, but overall, I like the story arc, so save the negative comments, ok? I've heard 'em before and they have no bearing on what I think of the movies.

The next debate involves whether "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" (STI) or "Star Trek V: The Final Frontier" (STV) is a worse film. In the middle of the argument, Leonard gets a phone call from Howard, and Leonard says they have to go immediately because Howard has called a DefCon 5. Sheldon says that means everything is just fine, and if something was wrong, Howard would have called a DefCon 1, so then they all debate whether 1 or 5 is the emergency number.

Tangential rambling: I had to stop and think about this for quite some time. Is STI or STV a worse film? Wow, that's a *great* question. I didn't see STI in theatres. I saw it on TV. And it was boring and awful. Nothing happened. And then the revelation of what V-ger was?'.goodness. How incredibly lame. But then, you have the equal lameness of the Search for God, as we called STV. We figured they couldn't actually use that title since STIII was the Search for Spock and they didn't want to repeat an element of the title. I have my own personal hellish experience which accounts for why I think STV is worse (if you actually know me and want to know, ask me in person or email me), but looking at it on more of an objective level, STV has got to be the worst. For STI, at least they had the nostalgia aspect - it was the first time there was "Star Trek" after so many years, and on the big screen no less! There was also bald-headed lady who I thought was pretty cool. But what's the deciding factor in STV being worse? Four words. "Directed by William Shatner". Really, do I need to say more?

And then there's the whole defcon argument. Yeah, I have a problem with that too, because you'd think that the higher the number, the more of a problem there is. In the case of defcon, you'd be wrong. One would think that with my fascination for "WarGames", I'd have gotten all that straightened out years ago.

They all arrive at their work place and it turns out that Howard has lured someone back with him by promising to let her drive a car on Mars. And in the process, Howard has gotten the Mars rover stuck in a crater. Howard doesn't want the woman (Stephanie, who's a doctor) to know about this, so he makes up some complicated reason about what he and his colleagues have to do, and he asks Leonard to drive Stephanie home, which he agrees to, but in the car, the two of them end up totally making out.

Tangential rambling: Since Howard's original idea didn't work, it makes sense that he would use the Mars rover as a lure. The thing with Stephanie and Leonard kind of came up out of nowhere, though.

Howard, unaware of this new development, has fast forwarded into overdrive and keeps calling Stephanie to tell her about coming over to his house and his mother will be cooking dinner, and there will be lots of other family there, including family who are flying in to meet her. Meanwhile, Leonard is surreptitiously on a date with her in her apartment, and he later reveals to Penny that he feels guilty because Howard doesn't know, but Penny says he shouldn't feel guilty and is surprised and happy that he and Stephanie have already had sex.

Tangential rambling: OK, the continuous series of phone calls from Howard and the whole dinner situation getting bigger and bigger and more out of hand was just too funny. Desperate? No way! Where would you get that idea? But I will say that as much as I can understand things just happening between Leonard and Stephanie, he really needed to tell Howard. Sure, nothing was going to happen between Stephanie and Howard anyway, so it's not like she was off-limits, but dude, come on, fess up. Penny was funny though. When she asked if Leonard had had sex with Stephanie and he admitted to it, and then he asked if that made a difference, she said no - she was just being nosy! Too funny!

Leonard is at Howard's house, and when Howard answers the door, Leonard is about to tell him about Stephanie when Howard's phone rings. He says very little, but when he's done, it's obvious that Stephanie called to tell him about Leonard, and Howard turns to Leonard and says, "You're dead to me" and shuts the door on him.

Tangential rambling: Well, Leonard tried to do the right thing, but I guess Stephanie beat him to the punch. Poor Howard, I actually kind of feel sorry for him. But then, I remember that he's agreeing to be subjugated by his mother, so hey, whatever.

At some point later, Leonard is coming back to his apartment, and Howard is there but is refusing to acknowledge Leonard's existence, using Sheldon as the go-between instead. When Stephanie shows up, Howard ignores her as well, but Stephanie says it's too bad that it'll only be three of them since she brought her roommate along, at which point Howard breaks his silence and happily agrees to accompany them.

Tangential rambling: At first, I was surprised that Sheldon would go along with Howard's insistence that Leonard didn't exist, but then I realized it was a matter of Howard having set up the parameters. Sheldon was ok with that until Howard broke his own guidelines, at which point Sheldon was out.

All is not well with Howard though. He had erased all evidence that he was responsible for getting the Mars rover stuck because he didn't want to get in trouble, but it turns out that with the Rover stuck in the crater, there were some amazing discoveries made, more conclusive evidence that there was previously life on Mars, but they have no idea who was responsible for making these discoveries possible.

Tangential rambling: Ahh, poor Howard. It was a stupid accident, but it turned out to be a fateful accident, and all the undercover stuff he did to remove his fingerprints on the accident meant he could now take no credit for any discoveries that are made, even if it came from an accidental occurrence.

So I think I've mentioned previously that creator Chuck Lorre has a card at the end of each episode where he just rambles about something. They're usually pretty funny, but sometimes, they're just weird, and sometimes, they're kind of angry or even censored. He has a website where you can find all of the cards, including the ones at the end of his other show "Two and a Half Men". The card for this episode was particularly hilarious. Can I just tell you how *much* I loved the "P.S."? See, I told you so!!!!!!!!

This is a longer clip from the show which has the various uses of "rock paper scissors lizard Spock" and a few other segments I mentioned above.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Look on the bright side - be glad you're not a Petrelli.

Thanksgiving can be very stressful for some people because of problematic family dynamics. But, there's usually someone in a worst position than you. Here's an article about science fiction's most dysfunctional families. I personally think the Petrellis win - and who knows how many more of them are going to be coming out of the woodworks? (Doesn't Nathan still have an ex-wife and a son out there somewhere?) Can you imagine what things were like around *their* Thanksgiving family table? "Pass me the cranberry sauce or I'm going to slice your head open."

Hope y'all had a very un-Petrelli Thanksgiving! :)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

looking at the good things

There is lots of uncertainty in the world right now, with a new president shortly to take office and the economy taking a hit. Everyone also has professional and personal problems that might be occupying their time and energy as well. I'm not immune to such things, and I've got various concerns and issues that are troubling me. But in the midst of all that, there is much to be grateful for.

I have two friends who have in recent months been diagnosed with potentially life-threatening but definitely life-changing diseases. That is definitely not something to be thankful for. But what I am thankful for is that their prognoses look good.

The male friend is the one who has the disease that looks like it's going to take the most treatment to control/cure. He's been off work since early September, and it looks like he probably won't be able to go back to work until late 2009 at the earliest. He definitely has a fairly involved regimen to deal with ahead of him, but he knows what to expect, and he sounds really good. Obviously, there are going to be good and bad days, but he's also got two trips planned for next year - one to Washington D.C. for the presidential inauguration and one to Walt Disney World in Florida. He has an amazing support system, so I know he's being well taken care of. He doesn't live local to me, so there's not much I can offer him by way of physical assistance, but I'm grateful that he keeps me updated on his progress, and that he calls me to tell me good news and happy things and also when he's not so happy and needing a lift. I also know that he's happy to hear from me when I contact him. I'm grateful that he's giving me the opportunity to offer what support and assistance I can for him.

The female friend has the disease that is potentially less severe, though she's undergoing rounds of treatment as well. Tests are coming back good so far, and hopefully, the treatment will ensure no reoccurrence or spreading of her disease. I'm a little more worried about her because her support system isn't nearly as good. She's always put other people's wants and needs ahead of hers, and I'm concerned that she's still doing that now, so I'm trying my best to get her to focus more on herself. But I'm grateful that she's keeping me updated and that she's letting me give her whatever support I can. She does live local to me, so I'm trying to walk the line between making sure she knows that I'm available if she needs something and not being too pushy or intrusive.

Those are the two situations which have been most severe, but that doesn't lessen any of the other issues that other friends have had to deal with. Some have had their own personal health issues, some are dealing with health issues of loved ones, some are dealing with the loss of loved ones, some are dealing with troubled situations involving loved ones, and some are just dealing with situations in their lives that are troubling. I'm thankful that in many of those cases, they have chosen to share the situations with me and have allowed me to lend what assistance I can. I know that I sometimes have trouble asking others for help or feeling like I don't want to take up their time by telling them my problems. I guess it doesn't occur to me that others might have those same feelings. I know what it can take to share something about yourself, so I'm grateful that in a lot of situations, I have been entrusted with information that isn't necessarily breaking news worthy to the world but is important nevertheless to the person imparting the information. I'm thankful that they have chosen to let me be a part of their lives, not just in fun and frivolous times, but also when things get a little tougher.

And then we get to the other side. I am so very grateful for the friends I have, who do so much to enrich my life in so many different ways. The only detrimental effect is that I have so much fun being with them that I'm completely distracted at work because I'd much rather be having fun with my friends than working! I am blessed to have friends who accept me for who I am, even when who I am isn't the nicest person or the most understanding person, friends who know my faults and still choose to spend time with me. I am grateful to have friends that, when I'm going through a bad time, know when I might just need a hug or an understanding ear, or know that I just need a good time out to let me forget about my troubles for a while. And best of all, no matter what I need, I can still go to the same friends for that.

I am thankful that this year, I have become better friends with people I've known previously but hadn't spent that much time with. And in one particular instance, I am grateful for having made a friend in a most unexpected way. I am not one to make friends easily. I am a bit of a recluse, hermit, outcast, outsider in many situations, and I generally keep to the people I know. But this year, someone made an overture to me, and I was lucky enough to know to accept it, and a friendship has blossomed there that I would never have expected. It's a bit unconventional in that I've only ever met her twice in person since she doesn't live locally, but I really enjoy the interaction that I have with her, and I'm looking forward to (hopefully) having the friendship grow.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

more peanutty goodness

I have previously posted about Peanut Butter & Co., and I discovered that they recently started a blog! There's some interesting information about various events they've been to (I don't know about the peanuts and ketchup thing - even if it wasn't really ketchup and was actually sundried-tomato-infused cream - that's at least a little different; and I love ketchup, but I just don't know about the pb&k combo), and I love the mom's story about chocolate peanut butter chiffon pie.

At this point, I've tried a few of the peanut butter flavors they offer, and I'm kind of so-so on them overall. I liked the flavor of the regular peanut butter, but the separation of the oil and the super-human strength necessary needed to recombine the parts, which never entirely worked for me, really turned me off. The dark chocolate variety is too sweet for me, and the spicy variety is too spicy for me, but I've found that a sandwich made with one variety on each side makes a really good combo. There are a few flavors I won't be trying at all because I don't care for some of the ingredients, but I might try the flavors with honey and maple syrup just to see. But I'm sticking with reduced fat Jif as my go-to peanut butter of choice.

I've had the peanut butter pretzels, and they were Y-U-M-M-Y, so I don't dare order them again! They don't seem to have brownies and peanut butter cookies available through the website like they've had previously, but next time I'm in New York, their sandwich shop is definitely on the list of places to visit.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

"Facing East" - a play by Carol Lynn Pearson

We attended a marvelous production of "Once on this Island" put on by International City Theatre in Long Beach a few years back, so we're on their mailing list. The brochure for their new season arrived a couple days ago, and in browsing the selections, I came across a play called "Facing East" by Carol Lynn Pearson. Here's what the description of the play in the brochure says.

Ruth and Alex McCormick are an upstanding Mormon couple reeling from the suicide or their excommunicated son. Stuck between their faith and their new reality, they try to come to terms with their own inner demons and the love they lost.

Yeah, that's going to be a rollicking good time at the theatre, isn't it? The description was interesting enough to me that I think we're going to try to see it when it's on next June/July.

In searching around for more information, I did come across something even more interesting. The description of the play on ICT's website is similar to what's on the brochure, but it contains a few extra tidbits about the plot of the play.

The Southern California premiere of Pearson's eloquent and multifaceted play about the challenging intersections of faith and family, diversity and love. Ruth and Alex McCormick are an upstanding Mormon couple reeling from the suicide of their excommunicated homosexual son. But when they meet their dead son's partner for the first time, they must come to terms with their own inner demons and the love they lost.

I'm wondering if the difference in the two descriptions was just by happenstance or if there was a concerted effort to leave off information in the brochure that the son was gay or that the parents would have interaction with their son's lover.

I would think those two additional elements would make it even more of a laugh riot.


I'll have to keep tabs on when tickets go on sale for this show. It's a relatively small theatre, very intimate, so the performance should be incredible.

Here's a website with information about a performance of the play last year, and here's the official website of the author. Her background, history and life experiences are really interesting, so I might be picking up a few of her books as well.

Monday, November 24, 2008

I'm surprised this information didn't come out before the election

There was a lot said about both presidential candidates before the November 4, 2008 election, but one bit of personal news about the President-Elect was surprisingly kept under wraps. Only one reporter knew. But no one would listen to him.

Now, why didn't the No on Prop. 8 people use this in their ads? :)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

"Bolt" - spoiler movie review (and trailers for upcoming Disney movies)

If Disney is releasing a new animated movie, it must be time to go to the El Capitan theatre on a Friday night! Usual time, our normal seats.

There was a new holiday stage show before the film, and I thought it was ok, but not as good as their normal shows. It was a bit lighter on characters than normal, and I *really* disliked that the princesses (Cinderella, Aurora, Snow White and Jasmine) were singing the Christmas songs along with the rest of the cast. To me, it just seemed weird for them to be singing "normal" songs and not Disney songs. I did think all of the performers were good though.

"Bolt" is the story of a dog who is injected with super powers - he has lightning speed, a mouth/teeth grip of steel, a laser stare, and a powerful bark that would make even Vavoom envious. Bolt belongs to Penny, whose father is a scientist who has been kidnapped for his knowledge by evil villain Dr. Calico. However, when Penny's father won't give up what they want to know, they decide to obtain a little leverage by trying to kidnap Penny. But that's not gonna happen, at least not while Bolt is around.

Oh, by the way, this is not the story of the movie. It's the story of the television show "Bolt" within the movie "Bolt". Everyone knows that it's just make-believe - except Bolt. The creators of the show feel that the only way to get real reactions out of Bolt is to let him believe that he actually has all of these powers (which unbeknownst to him are courtesy of the special effects department) and that Penny is actually in danger and that he saves her time and again. However, when an executive from "the network" says that ratings are falling because a certain demographic is getting bored, the creators script in a cliffhanger where Penny actually gets kidnapped - but of course, Bolt thinks its real and is out of his mind with worry because he needs to rescue Penny. Bolt is accidentally released from his captivity, and he BOLTS out of the studio and ends up in a box that is shipped across the country to New York. He then has to make a "Cars"-esque travel trip back to Hollywood to save Penny.

I really, really enjoyed this movie, and I think I laughed my way through most of it. The first (fake) scene with Bolt in the pet store was definitely an "awwww" moment. Part of what I loved about the movie were the television show segments, with all the gimmicks and tricks that you see in action movies nowadays, especially the bit with slowing down the action during exciting action moments - I especially liked it with the frisbee bomb, especially when it stops long enough for us to see how much time is left on the countdown.

I liked Bolt generally, though I have to admit I did think he was much cuter as a puppy, but I generally think that about dogs anyway. While I didn't pinpoint John Travolta as the voice of Bolt in the trailers, for some reason, I couldn't stop noticing that it was him during the movie, so I found that to be a bit distracting. I did think they did a good job with Bolt, though, and the sequence in the trailer park where Mittens is teaching him to be cute was just hilarious. Styrofoam as kryptonite to Bolt. Too funny! And how cute was Bolt when he stuck his out the window to feel the wind in his face, and he stuck his tongue out too? It was fun and a little sad to watch as he realized that he did not in fact have the powers he thought he did, but he was so happy to see Penny again. But it was devastating when he saw Penny with nuBolt, unaware that her actions were scripted. As far as he was concerned, she had replaced him in her heart, and he was C-R-U-S-H-E-D. The look on his face, and his slowly backing into the darkness was just heartbreaking. It was also sad that he was always stuck in his trailer and never allowed to go outside and, as Penny says, just be a dog.

And I absolutely.loved.Mittens. I'm a cat person, anyway, and it's been noticed that I particularly have a penchant for black-and-white cats, so Mittens would seem tailor-made for me. She was scrawny and bitchy and bossy and threatening to the pigeons, but then you find out how cynical she is. And then you find out why. When she revealed that she'd been left behind when her family moved, I immediately thought of Jessie from "Toy Story 2", and I got a little teary. If they'd launched into a "When She Loved Me" type of song, I would have just lost it. And I thought her abandonment was even worse than Jesse's since she was declawed, so when she was left in the wild, she was left defenseless. In addition, with Jessie, the people would have just thought they were leaving a toy, not aware of the "feelings" held by the toy. With a cat, though, you're talking about a living creature.

Of course, Rhino steals quite a bit of the show. He was a bit on the manic side, but I don't think he was over-the-top as to be annoying. He was just really funny. Here's an article about how a story artist ended up providing the voice of Rhino.

And then, there were the pigeons. Anyone who has seen "Finding Nemo" will probably never forget the seagulls, and they are a favorite of many, but as much as I loved them, I think I love the pigeons even more. The seagulls were pretty much one-dimensional, but with the pigeons, it was the entire effect of the characterization. The animation on their quick jerky movements was absolutely brilliant. It was impossible to not just stare at them while they were doing that. And the whole twisting their head was just too funny. And I have to say that the "writing partners" and personal assistant trio in Hollywood was just too perfect. And fittingly, it was the pigeons who actually referenced Nemo!

I thought Miley Cyrus did a good job as the voice of Penny, though I don't know her voice, so that wasn't distracting to me. And in the scenes of Penny from the television show - does she not look like she should be part of the The Incredibles family?

The Incredibles family - at least as we currently know it.

Is Penny a lost Incredibles child?

A friend posited that Penny looks a bit like a younger version of Mrs. Incredible. Maybe "Bolt" is a prequel to "The Incredibles", and this is how Mom Incredible got her start?

Mom Incredible.

I was also amused that the studio that produces the "Bolt" television show, Sovereign Entertainment, was depicted with the arches commonly known as being those of Paramount Pictures.

Fake studio.

Real studio.

It makes sense that Disney didn't want the fake studio to be associated with the real Disney studio, though, given the massive fire at the end. I was actually taken out of the movie there for a minute - can you imagine what would happen to a studio where the under-age lead actress of a hit television series were inadvertently left in a burning stage, and the actress came THISCLOSE to perishing, saved only by the efforts of a dog? It was pretty sad when Bolt found the hole to crawl through to safety, but Penny couldn't fit and wouldn't make it, so she told him to go, but he wouldn't leave her side and snuggled into her instead. Awwwwww. But then, his massive bark becomes a reality! That was so cool. (And I can't entirely pinpoint why, but that particular segment reminded me of Muffy in the "Fire in Space" episode of the original "Battlestar Galactica".)

There was one effect that I thought was really spectacular. When Mittens and Rhino arrive at the studio, Rhino sees one of the evil doctor's henchman and goes to basically bump him in the leg. When the guy picks him up and sees him, the shot is on the guy's helmet, and you can see the reflection of Rhino in his plastic ball come into focus as the guy brings Rhino in closer to look at him. That looked great.

I was amused that this being a movie about a heroic dog, cats get bashed pretty good, sometimes literally. Mittens starts off as a bully, and then when Bolt has her tied to him, he drags her around a lot, slamming her into things at times. And then, of course, there's the name of the evil villain, not to mention the doctor's evil cats. The one with the evil laugh who was taunting Bolt was just too funny.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels this way, but I sure wanted to put a pin through the head of Penny's agent. And yes, the happily-ever-after ending could be considered trite, but I liked it.

There are walkaround characters of Bolt and Rhino that I thought would be in the opening show, so I was surprised they weren't there. They're reportedly making appearances at the Disneyland Resort.

Miley Cyrus with the Bolt and Rhino walkaround characters. I think Bolt's face looks a bit odd.

Here's the official website for the film.

Before the movie, they showed a number of trailers for upcoming Disney movies.

"Earth" - I'd seen the trailer for this when I was in a theatre for another movie a couple of weeks ago. It was initially the Disneynature logo that caught my attention, but the footage from the movie looks awesome. And it doesn't hurt to have James Earl Jones as your narrator. The release date, appropriately enough, is April 22, 2009 - Earth Day. It depicts a year in the life of three extraordinary families. Here's a link to the trailer.

Disneynature company logo.

Poster for the film.

"Up" - This is the next offering from Pixar, to be released in May 2009. I'm not entirely sure what the film is about, but the trailer is really funny. Here's the link to the trailer.

"Race to Witch Mountain" - I'd heard that a remake of "Escape to Witch Mountain" was being worked out but hadn't paid attention to much else. The trailer looks awesome! I remember liking the original a lot, though I can't remember that much about it. I can't remember if I saw the sequel, "Return from Witch Mountain". It's interesting to note that both Kim Richards and Ike Eisenmann, who played the kids in the original movies, are both making appearances in this new film. (I think I mostly remember Kim Richards from "James at 15". Here's a link to the trailer.

Both "Oliver and Company" and "Pinocchio", two Disney films I haven't previously seen, at least in their entirety, are being re-released at the El Capitan Theatre in early 2009, so we'll be going to see those there. We're definitely seeing "Up" there, and presuming "Earth" is being shown there, we're going for that as well. I'm not sure if we'll go there for "Race to Witch Mountain". It may depend on what additional offerings they have - usually something like props - but there's also the appeal of seeing a film like that in a pristine digital showing at such an amazing theatre. We'll be spending a lot of time at the El Cap in 2009!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Which classic arcade game are you?

I found this quiz from another person's blog to determine which classic arcade game you are, based on your answers to questions.

And here's my result.

You are Popeye. You spend your time chasing the heart of unattractive people with annoying voices.  You're unnaturally muscled, and have a strange fetish for spinach.
Which Classic Arcade Game Are You?

I *seriously* object. "Chasing the heart of unattractive people", I suppose, could be subjective. But annoying voices? No, annoying-voiced people annoy me. "Unnaturally muscled"? HAVE YOU MET ME? (OK, maybe some of you haven't, but trust me, I am not muscled, either naturally or unnaturally.) "Strange fetish for spinach". OK, I am not a fan of spinach. I am trying to remember to no longer say that I hate spinach because that's not true - I found that I actually like raw spinach, and I like *some* cooked spinach, like in spankyourpitas, but generally, blob of cooked spinach that passes as the vegetable portion of a meal is not my idea of a good time.

Warning to one friend in particular - if you decide to take this quiz, there is one question that is going to

Oh, and btw - since when the *foxtrot* is Popeye a "classic arcade game"?

I want a recount.

Friday, November 21, 2008

"Beauty and the Beast" in 3D

When "Beauty and the Beast" (the Disney animated film) came out, I was absolutely enthralled, and this was even before my whole Disney obsession thing. I saw the film a few times on my own, and then I went back a few more times with friends - I'd be talking to someone, and I'd mention the movie, and they'd say they want to see it but haven't gotten around to it yet, and we'd go - sometimes even that very night!

I pretty much loved everything about the movie - the look, the story, the songs.

I'm glad to hear that Disney is working on a 3D version of the movie - it's not going to be the gimmicky kind, but more of the ultra-realistic sort they've been doing lately, that started with "Chicken Little". I think amazing sequences like the ballroom scene and the "Be Our Guest" segment are going to be even more spectacular with the 3D added on.

So - what about a 3D version of "Tarzan"? :)

Thursday, November 20, 2008


RELEASE OF LIABILITY: In reading this blog entry, the reader ("you") agrees to release and hold harmless Blogger, Cindy and anyone Cindy designates (collectively, "released parties") from any loss or liability resulting from your reading of this blog entry or the contents and/or links therein, including without limitation, any loss of job, friends or sleep.

OK, now that *that's* out of the way...

We have plans to see the new movie "Bolt" with some friends tomorrow (Friday) night, and when we were with one of the friends this past Saturday night, I mentioned something about going to see the puppies soon. The husband corrected me that there would really be only one puppy in the movie, as opposed to, say, "101 Dalmatians". The friend said he thought I was talking about the puppy-cam, which invariably elicited my slowly-spoken question of "what puppy cam"? And he told me about this link where you can see six little puppies, three boys and three girls. The cam runs during certain hours, and during off-hours, they have a slide-show running.

They are the cutest puppies! They just turned 6 weeks old earlier this week.

Live Videos by Ustream

I've never heard of this breed before, but then, I'm not all that knowledgeable about different dog breeds. They look a little like baby wolves to me.

Here's a recent article about them.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

magical memories - rehearsal dinner

Nine years ago today, we enjoyed a very special dinner with some very special people.

In the midst of our wedding planning, my then-future-mother-in-law (TFMIL) offered to host the rehearsal dinner. We thankfully accepted her offer, and I left it pretty much up to the then-future-husband (TFH) and her to decide where. TFH came to me and said that she had offered to host the dinner at Club 33, the exclusive private club at Disneyland. She knew what Disney fans we were and thought that would be a nice treat for a special occasion, and she had a friend who worked for a company that had a membership and through which she could make a reservation. We talked about it, and as much Disney fans as we were and still are, we had decided to limit the Disney affiliations in the wedding - those who were at the wedding might have noticed a couple of touches during the reception, but that was pretty much it. We declined her gracious offer, and eventually, the location of the rehearsal dinner was decided to be North Woods Inn, a small chain of restaurants that we happen to like anyway and which had other family significance, not to mention there was a location not too far away from the hotel where the ceremony and reception would be held.

The rehearsal dinner included the bridal party and SOs, the officiant, all the parents, and some out-of-town family of mine. The restaurant didn't take reservations though, so to avoid having to wait too long because it was on a Friday night, TFMIL arranged for a family friend to arrive at the restaurant a little earlier to put our party down on the waiting list - and yes, he joined us for dinner as well. After our rehearsal, we all headed to the restaurant, where we waited in the bar area for a short time before our table was ready. I remember a group of us amusing ourselves by trying to throw the available unshelled peanuts into each other's water glasses.

Our group was set up as a long table, and we had a lovely dinner with everyone. Great food (North Woods Inn is spectacular at steak - cooked perfectly to order) and good company meant everyone had a wonderful time. We had a chance to thank our bridal party and our officiant (who was a friend of mine), and mostly, I was so thankful for the time with everyone and to TFMIL for hosting such a wonderful dinner.

After dinner, everyone went their separate ways for the night, and my maid-of-honor and I went back to the house since I hadn't finished preparing everything yet. We were both staying at the hotel that night, but when we got back to the room, we ended up spending most of the night talking, so neither of us got much sleep.

But overall, the rehearsal dinner is something that sticks in my memory, a time of relaxing and enjoying in the middle of all the planning, the night before the big day.

"Desperate Housewives" - November 9, 2008 and November 16, 2008 episodes

November 9, 2008 episode

Lynette had seen Anne (Porter's friend's mom) come out of the band rehearsal location, so she thinks that Tom is having an affair with her. When Tom comes home, Lynette confronts him and tells him that she followed him and knows everything. Thinking she means about Porter and "some girl", Tom's non-chalant attitude and "boys will be boys" feeling completely throws Lynette for a loop, but it's not until Porter himself returns home that Lynette asks if he's really sleeping with Anne, which is when Tom realizes who the "some girl" really is. They want Porter to break it off, but Porter says he loves her, and she's afraid of her abusive husband. He finally reluctantly agrees to call it off. Lynette runs into Anne at a PTA meeting, and she ends up confronting Anne, who says she loves Porter, but Lynette threatens her.

When Porter meets with Anne to break it off, Anne has news - she's pregnant. Lynette tries to make Porter understand that someday, he'll meet someone he really loves, but she doesn't know that Porter is planning to run away with Anne.

Bree discovers that one of her employees has stolen money (she finds out it was to pay for marijuana), so she fires him. She and Orson end up having sex in the work kitchen. The fired employee steals the surveillance CD and is blackmailing Bree for money to get it back. Bree authorizes Andrew to do whatever he needs to do to get it back, which he does, but he then shows Bree and Orson that it's not them on the CD - it's Katherine and Mike instead. Bree takes the CD to Katherine and gives it to her, which embarrasses Katherine. Bree questions the appropriateness of Katherine's relationship with Mike since Susan is one of Katherine's oldest friends, but Katherine says Susan broke up with Mike and she even has a new boyfriend. Bree says that women just don't do that to each other and wants her to be careful. So I'm thinking, really, women don't do that to each other? Since when? Women steal other women's men all the time, even women they know. It's usually the men who have the "bros before hos" rule. I liked Andrew's line about never eating anything that comes out of that kitchen again.

Susan and Jackson start over again, and he reveals that he's not just a house painter, but that he's an actual painter and has just hit a block. Susan wants them to just get to know each other and insists that they not have sex until the fourth date. Jackson's sexual frustration drives him to paint again, and Susan is touched to find out that Jackson has painted her, in a portrait with an expression when she's sad and haunted, something she tries to hide from people, and she apologizes for thinking he didn't know her very well.

Karen and her sister Roberta are investigating Dave, and Roberta finds from his phone bills that he gets calls from and calls back near the beginning of every month a particular number. She has tracked this number to a hospital in Boston and specifically, to a particular psychiatrist who specializes in treating the criminally insane. It's still weird seeing Lily Tomlin as Roberta.

Carlos is dismayed that Gabrielle has become very chummy with Virginia, the older rich lady from the Country Club. Gabrielle is enjoying having the luxuries again, and they even stay the weekend at Virginia's mansion. However, Virginia gets more and more demanding when it comes to the two kids, and Gabrielle finally orders Virginia to leave them alone. Virginia retaliates by getting Carlos fired.

Dave has arranged for the band to participate in a Battle of the Bands competition at a local club.

November 16, 2008 episode

The show starts with the band during "Battle of the Bands" on stage, which becomes ablaze with fire. Rewind to the events leading up to that moment.

Susan is excited that Julie is coming back to visit, and she's bringing her new boyfriend, Lloyd, but Susan is upset when she discovers that Lloyd is much older than Julie, that he was Julie's professor, and that he's been married three times before. Playing Lloyd is none other than Steven Webber. Wow, that was a surprise.

Playing father and daughter? No - playing lovers.

Yes, there's a quite a number of years between them. 29 years to be exact. They actually share the same birthday, 29 years apart. Coincidentally enough, I share that birthday with them as well, though I am much closer in age to Steven Webber than Andrea Bowen. OK, tangent done.

Gabrielle returns home to find Virginia sitting with Carlos. She has arranged for Carlos to get his job back, and she has put Carlos and Gabrielle down as her sole heirs, so they let her back into their lives. Virginia bullies Gabrielle into letting her come along to the club to hear Carlos' band, but when Virginia insists that the girls go to a particular school, Gabrielle puts her foot down and says that as their mother, SHE gets to decide that. Virginia says that since she's making such a financial investment, she should have some say, and Gabrielle says that she can keep her money, but she's not giving up her daughters to Virginia. Yeah, ok, so bravo to Gabrielle for finally choosing her family over money, but I don't like how far down that road she was willing to go.

Bree has an interview with a national magazine and is nervous, especially when Andrew shows her the writer's previous articles which are basically hatchet jobs. She tries to present the perfect picture, but the writer digs up all the dirt in Bree's life instead. When Bree makes a final plea that her book is about rising above the challenges each person faces and how making the perfect dish can be the accomplishment and hope a woman is waiting for, the writer decides to take that angle instead.

Parker tells Lynette that Porter is planning to run away with Anne. She goes to confront Anne, who admits that she wants to be with Porter, but when she says that she's pregnant with Porter's baby, her husband walks in, having overheard. The husband gets Lynette to leave, even as Anne is pleading with her eyes for Lynette to stay. Lynette gets to her car before an attack of conscience hits her, and she goes back, to find the husband beating and kicking Anne. Lynette throws something at him to make him stop and threatens to call the police, but he says that Anne will then be prosecuted for statutory rape. He leaves, and Lynette goes to Anne, who is bleeding but thankful that Lynette came back. Lynette takes her to the hospital, where Porter shows up shortly after, but when he sees what happened to Anne, he takes off.

At the club, Susan spills to Julie that Lloyd is going to propose to her, which upsets Lloyd because he wanted it to be a surprise. Julie says they've only been together three months and declines his proposal since she never wants to get married anyway. When Susan approaches her later to ask why, she says that she sees what Susan has gone through and doesn't see the point in getting married, and Susan tells her she needs to open herself up to love and that she's too young to be that cynical about love.

Meanwhile, Karen and Roberta have been snooping around and had called Dave's doctor, but while he didn't reveal any information, he did find out from them that Dave is in Fairview, which causes him concern, enough to make a visit himself. Dave is surprised to see him but tells him everything is ok and that he'll explain after the show. The doctor is even more alarmed, though, when he finds out that Mike is in the band with Dave. The doctor insists on speaking to Mike, even though Dave says they've worked things out, but Dave finally agrees, and he leads the doctor to a storage closet. OK, the doctor saw Dave sitting at a table with a bunch of guys, all wearing the same shirt as Dave - wouldn't he figure that's the band? And that one of those guys is Mike? Why would Mike be in a storage closet? The doctor's stupidity or lack of paying attention costs him his life as Dave kills him in the closet. He then sets a fire to cover the murder. But you figure when they do the investigation, they're going to figure out that this particular person died before the fire (since he was already dead, he wouldn't have inhaled smoke into his lungs), and it shouldn't be that hard to figure out who he is and that he's connected to Dave.

Anne's husband is the person who runs the club, and Porter comes in to confront him, with Lynette having to break up their fight. After Lynette and Porter go out the emergency exit, the husband orders the door to be locked. The husband later accuses Porter of having set the fire, which Lynette finds to be plausible since he and Parker had set fire to the restaurant of the guy who was hitting on Lynette.

When the fire breaks out, everyone tries to leave, but when they get to the emergency exit, they can't get out. Dave breaks a window and helps everyone out. Jackson had gone to the restroom right before everything happened, and Dave had locked him in the restroom. OK, so why does the restroom have a lock on the outside? Susan notices that Jackson hasn't come out and goes to look for him. Mike stops her, but when she tells him about Jackson, Mike goes back to look for him, not knowing that Jackson has gotten out by breaking a window. When Mike reaches the restroom, he succumbs to the smoke and passes out. Jackson comes out and meets up with Susan, but when she asks about Mike, he says he didn't see him. Dave comes out, and Susan says Mike is still in there. Dave rushes back in and later emerges with Mike. As he puts Mike on a gurney, he whispers to him that he's not done with him yet. Dave is the hero of the day.

One funny thing I realized is that James Denton, who plays Mike, is actually a member of a band, Band from TV. He is listed as playing guitar and not a singer, but I'm presuming he actually did sing his own stuff during the episode.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

"Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" - November 17, 2008 episode

Sarah is sick with a fever, probably due to some kind of flu bug, and the illness makes her have nightmares, one that involves Cromartie still being alive, and one incorporating a turtle that she saved when they were on their way back from Mexico. Sarah's nightmares disturb her, so she makes a return visit to Dr. Sherman, but he is unable to help her when she doesn't want to discuss John and Cameron, even though she says that she's obsessed with a triangle of dots. He says that he won't be able to help her until she decides to be honest with him.

Because Sarah is so sick, John and Cameron go back by themselves to destroy the remains of Cromartie, but they are surprised to find them gone. John figures out that only one other person knew Cromartie's parts were there - Ellison. They pay a visit to Ellison, and Cameron throws him around his house (that was fun to watch, but she made a mess with all the stuff she broke) and comes close to choking him to death before John stops her, believing Ellison's claim that he had nothing to do with moving Cromartie's remains. I loved that at the end of the fight, Cameron flips Ellison onto his stomach, in a gesture similar to what Sarah did with the turtle. Cameron had asked John why Sarah had done that, and he said it was because when they see something in trouble, they try to help. Cameron's symbolic flipping of Ellison (even though she probably meant it to be literal since she didn't understand that people, unlike turtles, can survive while lying on their backs) was pretty cool. After Cameron exits, John sees a picture - THE picture of Sarah with the dog in the jeep, when she was pregnant with John - and John takes it. Why does Ellison have that picture? I thought Sarah gave it to Kyle? No, wait, Kyle had it in the future, and I think John gave it to him, so it makes sense that John has it now, but I can't remember if we saw the picture again after it was originally taken.

Derek is summoned by Jesse, who has captured a man that she tells Derek is Charles Fisher, a man who was a traitor to the human race and worked with Skynet and has been sent back by Skynet for some unknown purpose. Derek doesn't recognize the guy, who denies that he's Charles Fisher, and Derek won't let Jesse do anything to him until they're sure. Jesse decides to prove that the man is who she says he is by bringing the real Charles Fisher, from the current timeline, and showing that they have the same birthmark. Derek still isn't quite convinced, but using a technique that would make Jack Bauer proud, Derek starts torturing the younger version of Fisher to get the older man to talk, which he eventually does, admitting that he is indeed Charles Fisher. It's revealed that Fisher was in prison at the time of Judgement Day, which is why he survived, and when the terminators found him, they gave him the choice of helping him or die, and he chose the former. Jesse tells Derek that Fisher used a human as a test subject to teach the terminators how to talk to and interact with humans. Jesse then admits that it wasn't her who was the torture subject - it was Derek, though he has no memory of it. Derek is about to kill the younger Fisher when Jesse kills the older Fisher. After Derek buries the body, he and Jesse agree that they had to let the younger Fisher go. They still can't figure out how Jesse says that she and Derek talked about his torture for so long and yet Derek remembers none of it, and Derek then posits the possibility that they came from different futures, that in the future Jesse came from, Derek was tortured, but because Derek has now changed things in the present, he might also have changed the future, and in his future, maybe he wasn't tortured. I loved that idea. Since things are changing, who's to say that everyone from the future is from the same timeline? But I'm still suspicious about Jesse, and why she killed the older Fisher. We still don't know what she's up to or why she had those pictures of John and Cameron or the circumstances surrounding her arrival in the present timeline.

Sarah admits to John that it was her fault Cromartie found him. She tells him about the boy in the bowling alley that she let live, and that Cromartie found him and got the information out of him. John reassures her that they are not murderers, but she says that the boy was probably killed by Cromartie nonetheless.

Charles Fisher is going to work (I was wondering if he worked for Catherine's company, but you couldn't tell from what they showed), and he's intercepted by the FBI, and he's questioned about unauthorized entrances into the facility at odd hours. Fisher swears it wasn't him, but we are shown that it was the older Fisher who gained entrance, since it was just a fingerprint and retina scan that was needed, no badge. He went in and hacked into the computers and inserted some kind of virus program that they can't remove.

Ellison meets with Catherine, and he shows her what he has in the back of his trunk - Cromartie's remains. Cameron was right, and John was mistaken in believing Ellison. Ellison says that they need to take the thing apart and figure out a way to stop it so that the future can't repeat itself, but he's completely unaware that he has played directly into Catherine's hand, and that he is in fact doing what Cromartie said he would do - unwittingly helping Cromartie's mission. Ellison thinks he's helping prevent the war but instead, he is actually helping to ensure that Judgement Day goes forward.

Sarah is in the shed, looking at the clues on the wall again, and she realizes that a triangle of dots is right next to Dr. Sherman's name. What does that mean?

short, young and Asian - and no, it's not Whitney Houston

The Filipinos are taking over the world. I've already talked about Arnel Pineda, who is the current lead singer of Journey. Well, today, I saw on TV a performance by Charice Pempengco (who apparently [sic] goes just by "Charice" now).

I looked her up on YouTube and found a clip of her from last December on The Ellen Degeneres Show when she was 15. There's a full clip to follow, but I want you to see and hear her singing first.

OK, so now that you've seen and heard her sing, here's the full clip of her appearance on the show, where Ellen talks to her first. Yep, just like Arnel, she's got a pronounced accent while speaking, but that all disappears when she sings. This clip also includes the first song she sang on the show, since the song in the previous clip was the second song.

Obviously, she's amazing at the songs she's singing, and you definitely don't expect that kind of voice coming out of a young girl. Some of the high notes she hits look and sound normal, but there are a few vocalizations she does, in imitation of Whitney Houston, that make me wonder what, if anything, it's doing to her voice. I would think her vocal chords are still developing, but some of the notes seem kind of harsh, so it concerns me. But then, her mother is a vocal coach, and presumably, she wouldn't let her do anything that would hurt her.

My only other criticism is that her performance seems too produced - there are too many choreographed movements in conjunction with what she's singing, but they're not movements that go just with singing but rather, with the lyrics she's actually singing. I'd like to see her with more natural movements, and hopefully, they'll let her do that as her career progresses.

Here's her official website.

Monday, November 17, 2008

"Survivor: Gabon" - October 30, 2008 and November 6, 2008 and November 13, 2008 episodes

October 30, 2008 episode

At Fang, Crystal ends up spilling some rice, and with the rice shortage, she then refuses to eat to make up for it, clashing with Ace and Matty in the process. Meanwhile, at Kota, where they're mostly doing well, Dan is feeling a bit left out and for some reason decides to tell his tribe mates that. What, are they in second grade?

The reward challenge is for a helicopter ride to a picnic with a nice view. The task is to play keepaway of a ball from the other team, and the opposing team member is trying to smash the ball. Sugar is completely ineffectual during her turn, and Kota ends up winning three straight points to win the challenge, and they again send Sugar to exile. Kota enjoys a lovely meal, and they get the added reward of getting letters from home. Sugar's performance angers Matty, who wants to vote her out, but Ace wants Crystal out instead, and unbeknownst to them, Ken wants to get Crystal and Sugar to help him vote Ace out. Sugar reveals to the camera that she's been using Ace all along and isn't the bubblehead everyone thinks she is.

At the immunity challenge, they are told that both tribes will be voting out a member that night. The challenge is then for individual immunity and involves a log roll - whoever stays on the longest in head-to-head competition wins. They start off in pairs first, and then the last three (Sugar, Ace and Marcus) compete all at the same time. Sugar is the first to get knocked off, and Ace is knocked off just before Marcus, who wins immunity. Marcus is then told that he can assign immunity to a member of Fang, and he picks Sugar.

Back at Fang, Ken talks to Sugar about Ace using her, and when Ace later asks Sugar for the idol, exactly as Ken had predicted, her suspicions about Ace are raised. At tribal council, she does indeed help to blindside Ace, who is angry at having been voted out, but she just got to him before he got to her. Matty is also shocked at the results of tribal council.

Kota is having to make their own decisions about who to vote out. Dan is annoying many of them, but after Susie tells Corinne that she was going to vote for Corinne, Corinne wants Susie out. In the end, they decide to vote Dan off, but because they were afraid he might have the hidden immunity idol from his visit to exile, they split their votes so that if he had the idol, Susie would have been voted out. However, in doing so, they showed their hand to Susie and let her know in no uncertain terms that she's next to go. I get that they were concerned, but all they really had to do was convince Dan that they were all voting Susie out, and as long as he voted for Susie, it didn't matter if he played the immunity idol - Susie would have been out anyway since she would have been the only person with a vote.

November 6, 2008 episode

Kota is worried that Susie might not stick with them and might flip in the event of a merge. The remaining Fang members are united, but Matty is worried that he's the next to go. The two tribes have a feast on the beach and assume that it's their merge food reward. Ken sees a clue to a hidden immunity idol, but Charlie sees him looking at the clue and outs him. They all want to find it, but it's Randy who ends up pinpointing exactly where it is and digs it up. He says he doesn't want it, though, and offers it to anyone who wants it. Some people do, but they know it won't look good if they take it in front of everyone, and Marcus convinces them all to throw it in the ocean. I wonder if it will wash back up somewhere?

I was really looking forward to some kind of reaction from Kota when they discovered that Ace had been voted out, so I was disappointed that they didn't show anything.

After the feast, they open a box as instructed, which ends up reshuffling their tribes and it's not a merger as they'd expected. The new Kota tribe is now Bob, Marcus, Susie, Crystal and Ken, and the new Fang is now Randy, Matty, Sugar, Corinne and Charlie. It happens to end up that both new tribes consist of three old Kota members and two old Fang members, so old Kota is glad they still have the edge.

During conversation, it turns out that a very good friend of Marcus' is actually Crystal's cousin. How weird is that?

Matty talks to Sugar and tells her that Ace wasn't going to go after her, but that sure sounds like a lie because of what we were shown, but Sugar is upset that she voted Ace out. Randy voices an idea to Corinne and Charlie to throw the immunity challenge so that they can vote out Matty.

The immunity challenge is to hold two poles on the backside of each hand so that it's up against a higher shelf. Whoever holds the pole the longest wins immunity for their entire tribe. As various people drop off, it comes down to Bob and Matty, who fight it out hard, but in the end, Bob drops out first, and Matty wins immunity for Fang, much to the disappointment of Randy, Corinne and Charlie.

At Kota, Crystal and Ken are working on Susie to switch sides when Marcus targets Ken. In the end, Crystal is able to convince Susie, who helps Crystal and Ken vote out Marcus. Charlie is going to be very unhappy to have lost his boy toy.

November 13, 2008 episode

When the tribes show up for the reward challenge, Corinne and Charlie are shocked and dismayed to find out that Marcus was voted out. The reward challenge is for a visit to a Gabonese village where they will be treated to a dance ceremony, a meal and be able to spend the night there. The challenge itself is using a human-controlled slingshot to play golf, and the team that wins two out of three wins it all. Kota starts out well, but in the end, it's Fang who wins this time, and they send Bob to exile.

Back at Kota, Ken does some fishing for his tribe in Bob's absence, and Bob doesn't find the hidden immunity idol (since Sugar has it), but he fabricates something that looks like one, and it sounds like he's going to pretend to have found it.

At the immunity challenge, Jeff confirms that they're merged, so the challenge is for individual immunity. The task is to make a fire that will burn through a rope. Surprisingly, most of them have trouble starting a fire with flint and a knife and supplies, and only Susie and Sugar are even able to start a fire at all, with Susie winning. Jeff then tells them that their new tribe will be at the old Fang camp. They pick Nobag as their new tribe name, which is "Gabon" backwards. OK, that's a really dumb name.

Crystal and Charlie are targeted by each of the two factions, and Sugar ends up being the swing vote. Corinne thinks they have her on their side, and she dismisses Sugar as being dumb for being swayed so easily, but in the end, Sugar ends up voting with the other side and votes out Charlie (who was targeted by Ken), but at least Charlie is happy that he will get to spend three whole days with Marcus by himself as the sole members of the jury for that time.

People keep underestimating Sugar and then regret having done so.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

"90210" - October 28, 2008 and November 4, 2008 and November 11, 2008 episodes

October 28, 2008 episode

The homecoming dance is fast approaching, and Dixon asks Silver, but she says she's not interested in phony things like that, so Dixon feigns disinterest as well. Ethan also asks Annie, and the two agree to meet up "accidentally" at the dance. OK, don't people ask for dates to homecoming much more ahead of time than say, oh, THE DAY BEFORE like Dixon and Ethan did?

Adrianna is in rehab after having overdosed, and her pleas to Naomi apologizing and asking Naomi to call or visit go ignored. Adrianna does get a visitor, but it's Navid, whose phone Adrianna commandeers to text Naomi again. She then later asks Navid to bring Naomi to see her.

Meanwhile, Naomi invites Annie to her house where she and other girls will be preparing to attend homecoming together, and Annie accepts and then tells Ethan about it. Naomi then later sees them dancing together very closely. Naomi tells Annie that she wants to be her friend, and she knows she can't control who Ethan dates, but Naomi can't be her friend if Annie is dating Ethan. However, Annie can't stay away from Ethan.

Naomi gets detention for the rest of the year for her part in lying about Adrianna's drugs, and there, she meets mysterious Ozzie.

There's a whole thing about Annie taking her driver's license test.

Silver had her wisdom teeth taken out earlier that day, so Dixon is over taking care of her. When Annie calls to check on her, she ends up telling Silver that Dixon loves things like homecoming, so Silver arranges for them to go late and tells him not to be afraid to tell her the truth. OK, so I guess her drugs worked really well, because all her pain and loopiness went away pretty fast. OK, except when she flinched when he kissed her. But still.

When Tabitha wonders why Debbie is putting up with Tracy's shenanigans, she even ends up complimenting Debbie, much to Debbie's surprise. Debbie then decides she's been too nice and confronts Tracey with very pointed words and threats of bodily harm. That was funny.

Adrianna ends up crashing the dance to see Naomi. Naomi says it hurts too much to be her friend and have to watch what she's doing to herself, but after Naomi and Annie talk more about what being a friend means, Naomi helps Navid to intervene when Adrianna decides to go back to her drug dealer, and the two of them escort Adrianna back to rehab.

Ryan finds out that Kimberly is involved in drugs, and when he goes to Harry about it, they have to tell Ryan that Kimberly is an undercover office so Ryan won't make more of a fuss and blow her cover. After finding out she's not a student after all, Ryan doesn't have the dilemma of having feelings for a student and kisses her.

November 4, 2008 episode

Harry and Debbie tell Dixon and Annie about his other son, but he says he doesn't want it to affect them at all. They don't take the news well. Tracy has told Naomi too. Ethan and Annie decide that they will keep their dating quiet for the moment. Kimberly and Ryan definitely have to keep their dating a secret.

Because of Kelly's imminent return, Silver decides to enjoy her last nights in the house and decides to have a slumber party, inviting Annie, Adrianna and Naomi. The boys end up crashing the party, as do many other people, and a full-blown party ensues.

Ozzie shows up, and Naomi flirts with him a lot. Naomi also almost catches Ethan and Annie making out in a room, but Silver manages to run interference.

Navid and Adrianna are in another room making out, but since Navid paid for her rehab, she thinks he expects sex in return, which she is fine to oblige, but he's shocked and hurt when he realizes that's what she thinks he wants and expects. Adrianna finds Navid the next day at school and apologizes and explains that she's used to people using her. They reconcile and end up as a couple.

Annie ends up drinking way too much and gets sick, and when Harry is summoned to break up the party, he finds her in a bad way, and she tells him that she is affected by the news of his son and that she's mad at him, which he understands.

The next day, drug dealer George tells Ryan that he wants back on the lacrosse team and uses as blackmail his having seen Kimberly getting into Ryan's car during the party. So as not to blow Kimberly's cover, Harry puts Ryan on a paid leave of absence. Ryan gets all indignant, but really, it was a stupid thing to do. They weren't that far from the party. They didn't think someone coming out of the party might see them together?

Naomi is flirting with Ozzie again, but she's completely stunned when she ends up seeing Annie and Ethan kissing in a classroom.

When I first watched this episode on the night it was broadcast, the ending I thought happened was that Barack Obama was elected Student Body President of West Beverly Hills High School. This episode was broadcast on election night, and I was surprised they were going to show it, but I figured it was counterprogramming. But then, repeatedly during the show, they broke in to interrupt when the presidency was called for Obama, when McCain gave his concession speech, and then the entire end of the episode was scrapped when Obama gave his speech. OK, channel 5, if you were going to cover the election, why didn't you just pre-empt this episode or reschedule it for another night? And if you were going to go ahead with the show, why then interrupt parts of it for election news? is covering the election, so if people want election coverage, they have billions of places to go. If in the midst of all that, people are actually watching this show, that means they don't want election coverage, so why are you breaking in and interrupting the show for election coverage? If they're watching your channel instead of the election coverage on the other channels, it means they actually want to watch this show. You could have just run a chyron to announce Obama's election or just aired the show as is. People were watching this channel for a reason. I had to watch the episode online to see everything that happened that I missed. I'm glad they at least have that available.

November 11, 2008 episode

George the drug dealer tells everyone about Ryan and Kimberly so the sordid rumours and tales fly. Kelly returns and is dismayed to hear about the rumours, moreso when Ryan can't clarify what's going on. Kimberly finally busts the lead drug dealer, and Kelly goes to Ryan to say that things will blow over, but Ryan says he's leaving for a while. When Kelly asks to see him when he returns, Kimberly shows up, and Kelly takes her leave, with Ryan and Kimberly kissing. Nope, Kelly, sorry, you had your chance. Dylan's still not available, but now, neither is Ryan. I guess that means Ryan and Kimberly are out of the show. I liked Ryan, but I couldn't stand Kimberly.

Annie had decided to tell Naomi about her and Ryan, but when Naomi plays up the drama in her life, Annie can't bear to, and Naomi just continues to play both Annie and Ethan, telling Ethan that Annie can't stop talking about her ex-boyfriend Jason. Naomi surreptiously invites and flies in Jason for Annie's sweet 16 party. She also arranges a dinner for Dixon and Silver and Ethan and her and Annie and Jason so they can all get to know Jason better, which makes Ethan and Annie really uncomfortable.

So for the entire episode, Naomi no longer has her curly hair but instead has straight hair, and no one comments on it! With her hair like that, she looks *so* much like Tracy.

Adrianna goes by Navid's house and ends up meeting his entire extended family, who are very welcoming to her. There's a bit of awkwardness when his mother asks how she is after rehab (and she asked nicely just as a matter-of-fact question), but Adrianna later tells Navid that the question was ok, especially since they paid for it, and she was happy that they treated her so nicely even though they knew about rehab the whole time. Navid was a bit embarassed about his family, but has he met Adrianna's mother? No wonder she likes his family so much! And who knew that he lived in such a mansion? Wow!

Annie finds out that Jason still wants to be with her, but she puts an end to that hope. At Annie's sweet 16 party, she and Ethan make up after their fight earlier, and Naomi sees them kissing again. Hurt that her plan to keep them apart didn't work, she then brings Jason over to see them, and she then takes him to bed, with Ethan and Annie walking in on them right in the middle. Naomi admits to having set up Annie the entire time, and the two of them are having it out with each other in front of the house (that was a great verbal catfight, btw) when they're interrupted by the arrival of Sean - who declares that he is Harry's and Tracy's son.