Sunday, September 25, 2011


 “What is a hashtag?” has become easily the most common question I hear from people after mentioning that I am a Twitter user. It seems shocking to me how many people still have no clue about what Twitter is considering how many people are tweeting daily- even hourly. But I have yet to come up with a sufficient answer for them that doesn’t leave the same puzzled looks on their faces.

It seems like Twitter has been around forever by now, especially since I feel like I was so late to the party. I too am still figuring everything out on the social network that people proclaim to be simple. When I really think about it, it’s pretty new. And it’s only incredibly recently that it has become the massive interactive platform for television programming that it is. As an avid TV consumer, this is something I’ve been noticing more and more since the beginning of the summer. All of a sudden I’m seeing Twitter all over TV and it seems that “hashtags” are changing the way we watch TV.

It took me years to convince people that I’m an active TV watcher (as opposed to a couch potato). Now, passive watching is a thing of the past, as TV shows try to compel viewers to join the conversation about their favorite television shows both while they are watching and in the weeks and months between new episodes.

The most prominent use of hashtags has become the little hashtags that appear on the screens during television programs and events. If you’ve recently watched a show on the USA Network, for example, you will probably have noticed the pop-ups in the lower thirds asking you what you think of what is happening in real time and supplying you with a hashtag to talk to other viewers about it.  I think this is a brilliant way of not only engaging viewers, but getting them to watch the shows in real-time, which means they are also watching commercials rather than just skipping through their recordings.

Hashtags have also been used to promote new tv shows, which is especially important this time of year during all of the new fall premieres. I commute into the city several times a week and there are very few promotional television posters in the subway stations that do not feature a hashtag. This summer’s The Glee Project had the hashtag #believe on every billboard, bus and television spot, but they started using #gleeproject when they realized it was a far more popular tag. The new season of ABC’s Happy Endings features a hashtag in its commercials as well. All of this to promote going online and participating in your tv watching experience.

The last noticeable hashtag presence has been on late night and news programs. Jimmy Fallon has famously begun his #latenight hashtags segment, where he prompts readers to tweet about something and then reads some of the funnier tweets on the air. News programs have started using tags to gauge viewers’ opinions and formulate makeshift polls.

With the introduction of google + to the social networking scene, many bloggers and experts have been saying that a simple, singularly focused application like Twitter will soon become a thing of the past (just google ‘Twitter is too simple…). But it seems to me that people are only now gaining a knowledge of all of the things they can use Twitter for, and it will still be around for quite some time.  

Thursday, August 4, 2011

SYTYCD: The Top 6 Fight for It

I have to admit, for the first half hour or so, I wasn't sure this was going to be a great show, but it ended up surprising me somewhere along the way. Plus, I'm really starting to like this celebrity judge thing.

Melanie and Twitch- Hip Hop - this was the kind of hard-hitting hip-hop that fans have been complaining Melanie hasn’t been challenged with yet. I don’t agree with Nigel that she’s good at everything. I thought this concept was adorable but I didn’t love the song or the routine, and honestly, I didn’t think Melanie did such a great jobs with it. It wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t Top 6 material.

Sasha and Kent- Contemporary – This was my early pick for best routine of the night. I really like Tyce’s contemporary piece, and I do have a things for props as well. Not such a Kent fan, but I got over it. Sasha brings so much to her dancing. She is so stunning every time. I think Christina Applegate was completely right with what she said about Sasha.

Marko and Janette – Paso Doble - I wasn’t the hugest fan of Janette in Season 5, mainly because she was my girl Jeanine’s competition. But seeing her back, I really liked her. This wasn’t exactly the Brandon and Jeanine Paso from Season 5. The cape move was about all I enjoyed in this routine.

Ricky- I usually don’t comment on the solo’s because there’s only so much for me, the uneducated viewer, to say about them. This week, though, there were standout solos that I just couldn’t overlook so I feel like I have to mention them. Ricky’s was fine. Nothing special. That is all.

Tadd and Ellenore – Jazz - No question that Ellenore is like a Sonya Tayeh love child. I personally feel that Sonya does better with abstract concepts and emotions than she does with period pieces and specifics. I totally agreed with Nigel when he said there wasn’t enough dancing (actually I said it first… ask my roommate…). I can appreciate Tadd awesome Cirque Du Soleil situation, but again, it just wasn’t really a Top 6 routine.

Caitlynn- I think Caitlynn did a pretty good job with that. I found myself thinking through her solo that I felt bad for her. She’s so good, but her competition is Melanie and Sasha. How unlucky can a girl get? I wish they’d just do a Top 5 for the finale. That could work, right?

Ricky ft. Jaimie – Contemporary - I love Dee Caspary. Sure he never smiles or really gives an impression that he liked the routine after it was performed, but I truly think he’s a brilliant choreographer. I love the way he creates fluidity in chaos. He can make movement look beautiful without having the dancers moving at once. The complexity gets me every time. I loved the concept here too and I think Jaimie was great. I really like Ricky, but he got lost tonight in this routine. He didn’t get into character, wasn’t domineering or strong like he should have been. It’s a shame really, because it should really have been a contender for best of the night. For another awesome Dee routine, see below.

Tadd – I don’t know why Tadd’s solos aren’t better than they are. I feel like I’ve seen some really awesome B-boy solos in SYTYCD seasons past, but Tadd hasn’t been doing anything for me. He usually has some cool trick but doesn’t pack the solo with them. Last week it was the sideways stand on the scaffolding. This week it was standing on one hand for…ever. I love the boy, but he could do better.

Sasha – I think this was one of Sasha’s better solos. She too, though, doesn’t show us everything in her solos. I miss the days when she danced with Natalia. Where is the Sasha we see in the choreographed routines? She doesn’t visit her in solos?

Caitlynn ft. Pasha – Samba – Caitlynn is good at ballroom! I mean what the hell? She is good at ballroom! I really loved this. It kept my attention in a way that not many ballroom routines really do. I was so happy in the way Caitlynn shined tonight.

Marko – Marko hit the ground running with this. I think his solo was really good. I imagine the difference in solos is largely based on choreography, but good for him for choosing something packed with dancing.

Melanie – I think we all know this is why I was commenting on solos. In reality though, this one was kind of beyond words. No question, Melanie is wonderful. I think it’ll come down to her and Sasha for the win. While I am still in love with Jeanine’s finale solo from Season 5, this rivals it for one of the tops.

Sasha and Ricky- Whacking – No doubt this was interesting. I expected it to be more mind-blowingly fast. I didn’t really expect such a jovial song but it was still fun.

Melanie and Tadd- Broadway – I love Spencer Liff routines. I love how he has a way of telling a great story that enhances a piece rather than overwhelming it. I though Melanie got all of the credit for the routine, when Tadd really had a chance to shine and took it. He was completely in character and his dancing was really good (I thought…)

Marko and Caitlynn- Jazz – Now here was a Sonya piece I could get into. Like I said, better with emotions. I was so thrilled for Caitlynn watching this routine. If she goes home tomorrow, at least she had tonight’s performances. Truly amazing. Was it just me, or was a little something happening between these two dancers?

Best Routine of the Night – This is a toss-up for me (I know, lame…) between Sasha and Kent’s contemporary and Caitlynn and Marko’s Jazz. They were both great. Why choose?

Best Costume of the Night – I think I’m going to give this to the badass Red Riding Hoodie that Melanie wore for the first routine. Did you see the frilly pockets? The laces?  It was so perfect.

Best Overall of the Night- There were more than a few great performances tonight, but I feel that Caitlynn really deserves this one. She really shone.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

SYTYCD: The Top 8

We’re really getting down to the wire here. This week the Top 8 each performed twice (once with an all-star and once with a fellow contestant), and yet for some reason they still stuck a fourth judge on the panel. I love a lot of dances, but I also love the clip packages and these jam-packed episodes are driving me a little insane. Guest judge Lady Gaga was probably the best judge of the night, not being afraid to critique- and this is new- THE CHOREOGRAPHERS! I may not have agreed with what she said all of the time, but I certainly respected her honesty. About damn time.

Sasha ft. Pasha – Quickstep – Haha, their names rhyme… fantastic! There have been two quicksteps this season and shockingly, neither has meant the kiss of death that it has in the past. I was a little nervous for Sasha, but she really impressed me. It wasn’t as good as Iveta and Nick, but it’ll do, it’ll do.

Caitlynn ft. Ivan – Hip Hop – It was a blast from the I-Didn’t-Even-Watch-SYTYCD-Yet past seeing Ivan on stage. His smoothness was really impressive, but I think the judges undersold Caitlynn in this one. I think she did a decent job with it and I love her flow and movement.

Jordan ft. Ade – Jazz – Once again I feel like Tyce picked distracting music for his piece, but the choreography was still incredible. I know it’s been said a million times, but Jordan’s legs are not to be believed. That stretch- you know the one- was shocking. I am in total awe of this girl’s flexibilities. Plus it’s always nice to see a SYTYCD Season 5 All-Star.

Melanie ft. Neil – Contemporary – My god, this girl cannot NOT catch a break. How many times has she gotten something in the realm of contemporary now? Every week? Seriously. But it is always nice to see her dance in her style, even if it makes the competition somewhat unfair. Neil is wonderful, and Melanie’s seemingly impossible leap toward the end had me catching my breath. I just wish Mandy Moore would choose songs from the last decade or so.

Ricky ft. Anya – Jive – Always good to see Anya back. I don’t think this was Ricky’s best. It’s a true shame that he didn’t get as much time to grow while be held back by *ahem* Ryan *ahem*. Still it was good and he brings such a light and energy that I can’t help but enjoy.

Jess ft. Lauren (Gottlieb) – Hip Hop – This routine was not my favorite from NappyTabs. Honestly, I thought the routine should have featured the Jess character more as he was the contestant. Instead, it felt more about the girl. Still I was surprised to see that Jess did a great job with it. He’s still far from my favorite, but credit where credit is due…

Tadd ft. Lauren (Froderman) – Contemporary (ish) – I believe Lauren is the first winner to return to the show, which certainly is a treat. I’ll be waiting for Jeanine… forever I think. Tadd is effortlessly charming and smooth. I love him and I think he’s severely underrated in his abilities and accomplishments in this competition. Once again I felt that we didn’t need to be listening to something from an oldies station, but Queen is classic so I’ll shut up about it.

Marko ft. Allison – Contemporary – I have this feeling that whenever a dancer picks Allison out of the hat they must take a huge sigh of relief. I love Kathryn and Twitch (and Neil and Robert etc. etc.), but I feel like Allison is a huge, HUGE advantage to the dancers. Put her with Sonya for a contemporary routine? Unstoppable. Marko is a great dancer, so it’s not that he needs the help but Allison seems to elevate routines. Was I the only one having flashbacks to her Sonya Contemporary piece with Alex Wong? It was truly beautiful.

Caitlynn and Tadd – Foxtrot – I enjoy the Foxtrot. Such a classy elegance to it. It just makes me smile. This pair did a great job. I just wish more people (including myself really…) responded to ballroom. It’s a shame that contemporary resonates so much, giving a sort of advantage to whomever has it that week. This routine deserves recognition.

Ricky and Marko – Hip Hop – Unless I’m forgetting something, I think this is my favorite NappyTabs routine of the season. These two were adorable and charming. They were just too cute.

Melanie and Sasha – Jazz – I feel like Sonya Jazz should be an altogether different category from regular Jazz. It is so beyond. I think everyone who saw that Melanie and Sasha were paired knew this would be epic and it didn’t disappoint. The strength that the two of them bring is incredible and this was one of my favorite Sonya routines ever probably. This definitely brought down the house and well deserved all the praise it got.

Best Routine of the Night- once again this is a no-brainer: Sasha and Melanie’s Jazz for sure. Just when you thought the boys were fighting back this season… This is SYTYCD at it’s best.

Best Costume of the Night- I think this will go to the same routine. I love Sasha’s and Melanie’s tops. They were Black Swan fierce and beautiful.

Best Overall of the Night- Once again I have to give Sasha the cold shoulder. I think she did a great job with the Quiskstep, but I’d have to be out of my mind to not give this to Melanie this week. Sure, she got an easier lot with Contemporary and Jazz, but there’s no denying the girl’s talents.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

SYTYCD: The Top 10 Bring It

Finally the Top 10 are here! Honestly, I do prefer the Top 20 format, but it seemed that SYTYCD was lagging this year for some reason. Possibly because of all the freakin judging. Thankfully this week, there were only three on the panel, one of whom was the always incredible Neil Patrick Harris. He didn’t quite bring his charm the way Jesse Tyler Ferguson did last week, but he did do something that Nigel and Mary haven’t necessarily been doing this season- CRITIQUE!

Marko ft. Chelsie – Samba - The night started off with Marko, who performed a Jason Gilkison Samba with All-Star Chelsie Hightower. The routine was good. I thought Marko held his own without Melanie, which I was wondering about. It wasn’t magical, but then, neither was the routine.

Jordan ft. Brandon – Contemporary - Jordan impressed the heck out of me last week with the vulture dance (not the Broadway number obviously), but I felt like this was her best performance to date. Brandon was one of the best dancers in Season 5, my personal favorite season, and definitely deserved his place at the top. Having him with her definitely helped Jordan, but it allowed her to shine in her own right. Good for her. She showed an impressive maturity tonight. Loved it.

Tadd ft. Comfort – Hip Hop - I love Tadd. Really I do. I want him to do well. I also loved All-star Comfort last season more than ever before. But this one didn’t do it for me. Such a fast song deserved faster choreography throughout I though, not just that one part, and it kind of looked like Comfort was half-assing it. Strange for the Top 10 week for sure. Not my favorite.

Mitchell ft. Melody – Broadway – I was right there with NPH on this one. I didn’t get it. I didn’t see the concept at all in the performance, and what’s more, I didn’t like the performances that much. I don’t think it was Mitchell’s fault really, since it’s possible he also didn’t get it. I think Mitchell’s great, but to be honest I’m not that attached to him.

Caitlynn ft. Pasha – Argentine Tango – Spectacular, breathtaking, utterly amazing. Caitlynn was radiant, but the routine itself was unbelievable. Watching them slow burn across the floor, it was like I was in a trance. I know it’s different from the regular Tango, but it made me think that all of the praises for Melanie and Marko’s Tango were just jokes. This was absurdly good.

Sasha ft. Twitch – Hip hop…ish – Speaking of absurdly good. I thought Caitlynn’s routine would be a runaway for the best of the night, but this one blew it out of the water. I’ve been a little iffy about Christopher Scott this season, but given this dream team, he knew what to do. The smoothness, the chemistry, and the crazy-sick technical dancing- especially by my girl Sasha. This was what I’ve been WAITING for. I mourn the weeks with Alexander. It was wasted time which could’ve been spent seeing Sasha soar.

Jess ft. Kathryn – Contemporary - I love, LOVE Stacey Tookey. I thought the choreography here was amazing. The way the moved played so that Kathryn was always turning away from Jess? So good! Jess got great reviews on this, but if I’m being honest, my eyes were on Kathryn the whole time. She’s grown so much since Season 6 and now I am simply in awe of her. Heaven is a Place on Earth was probably my favorite routine last season…. Look at me, my attention’s off Jess again. Well, what does that tell you?

Melanie ft. Pasha – Viennese Waltz – I disagreed with NPH when he said he worried when dancers get this dance. In my opinion, it is the one ballroom style that always seems to be a cakewalk. It was everything it should be, flowing effortlessly through the movements. Pasha is just so… sigh. Good work Melanie, but for once, not the best OR the second best.

Ricky ft. Allison – Jazz – I was so thrilled to hear that these two were paired. Allison is one of my favorite SYTYCD alums, and she was just what Ricky needed post-Ryan. I think they both did a really great job. I liked this routine infinitely better than Tyce’s other piece. It makes me wonder about why Broadway is his ‘thing.’ I hope Ricky gets a chance to continue on the show. I think he still has a lot to show America.

Clarice ft. Robert – Bollywood – I’ve been saying recently how short on Bollywood this season has been. I was happy to have it back, and I don’t think Clarice could’ve picked a more perfect style. Her natural sparkle and energy work perfectly with the nature of the dance and I was pleasantly surprised to see that her character had some edge to it as well. Robert was one of my favorites last season. I’ll always be happy to see him.

Best Routine of the Night- No brainer. Sasha and Twitch (henceforth to be known as THE dream team) stole the night. I can’t wait to see this one again.

Best Costume of the Night- There weren’t really any super-standouts this week, but I’m going to give it to Caitlynn and Pasha’s Argentine Tango. Her dress was beautiful and while it is always nice to see him shirtless, the classy suit had it’s own sex appeal.

Best Overall of the Night- Here I’m going to have to go with Jordan. I was so happy that Sasha was able to break out of her mediocre partner shell, but Jordan was the one who truly surprised me tonight. Both the routine and the solo showed her maturity- you don’t always have to dance like a Pussycat Doll!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Trending Trailers: The Week in Preview

I love movie trailers. They're full of a kind of excitement that truly can't be ruined--- until the movie comes out. Here's a selection of the trailers that intrigued me this week:


While I patiently await Matt Damon's inevitable (I hope) directorial debut, I can't help but follow his every move. In this case, it looks like a good one. The Soderbergh directed thriller is about a deadly air-born virus. Matt Damon, though my personal favorite, isn't the only A-lister in this movie. Marion Cotillard, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Bryan Cranston and (okay not an A-lister, but) Laurence Fishburne also star. Plus, I MUST give a shout out to Veronica Mars' Enrico Colantoni who make a small appearance in the trailer. The trailer gives a LOT away, but if you ask me, it'll still be more than worth seeing.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Burn Notice Recapture its Purpose

It took some time this season, but Burn Notice is back! The show had a little trouble finding itself after last season's finale. After four seasons of searching and fighting, Michael had a way back into the CIA. The finale left fans wondering if the show would have anywhere to go after that and if the show would be able to hold its purpose. I was more than a little worried that Burn Notice past the burn notice would go the way of Prison Break past the prison break. But last night's episode of the USA fan favorite reassured me that there was no cause for alarm. Plus, the charger is back!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Alphas: Everyday Superheroes

Syfy premiered it's newest original series tonight. The ninety-minute pilot of Alphas certainly made an attempt to cover new ground within the realm of "ordinary people with extraordinary powers." Its success in this venture is, no doubt, up for debate.
Alphas began with promise.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Throwback Classic: D2: The Mighty Ducks

Ducks Fly Together

Today, I came across Flavorwire's list of 10 Patriotic Movies That Aren't Cheesy. In the history of American cinema, there have been a number of such films. And though I too adore Edward R. Murrow's McCarthy speech in Good Night and Good Luck. I couldn't help but thinking that my favorite patriotic movies have one thing in common: They're sports movies.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Book Review: Bumped

What if only teenagers could get pregnant?

If you've read my post about Young Adult literature, you already know that I am a huge fan of the Jessica Darling series and of its charming and funny author, Megan McCafferty. I jumped- leapt even- when Bumped, her brand new novel, came into my local library. While I didn't quite feel the tingling sensation that I did after reading Sloppy Firsts, Bumped was a good story with an awesome concept and likable characters. 

Bumped is a sort of dystopian comedy that takes place about thirty years in the future when a virus has made it impossible to reproduce past teenage-hood. This means that teenage girls are getting pregnant all over the place and going into labor in the middle of their high school like it's the most normal thing in the world. The story centers on two identical twins who were separated at birth and were raised in extremely different households- emphasis on the extreme. Both twins are under a lot of pressure to get pregnant for very different reasons and their meeting changes both of their lives forever. 

I think what I always loved about the Jessica Darling series was how relatable Jess was to me. I still think of her as a close friend. Maybe it's because these characters take a little time to get to know or maybe it's because they just aren't Not-so Darling, but I didn't find myself caring much about them for at least the first half of the novel. I love a good high-concept story, so that kept me going. McCafferty brought in more creative lingo and more surprising repercussions to such this hypothetical society than I could've anticipated. It is her humor and voice that truly make all of her books great, and Bumped is no exception. I would certainly recommend it. 

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Trending Trailer: A Dangerous Method

It's been a while since we've seen Keira Knightley in a "big deal" movie. Atonement was in 2007. Since then a few of her movies have hit  my watch list, thought none have quite made it to the top (Never Let Me Go, The Edge of Love, Last Night). A Dangerous Method, seems like it could have the power, or perhaps the credits, to break this dramatic-acting- less-dramatic-ticket-sales slump.

A Dangerous Method is the story of Carl Jung and his relationships with his wife, his mentor Sigmund Freud and a patient-turned-lover. It doesn't hurt the films chances that Jung is played by Michael Fassbender, whose star has been on the rise ever since Inglorious Basterds. Since then, he's starred in the recent adaptation of Jane Eyre and, most notably, X-Men: First Class as a young Magneto.

At first glance, A Dangerous Method appears like an over-dramatized sado-masochistic story with a few too many sex scenes (even in the trailer!). But then you learn it's from the director of such films as A History of Violence and Eastern Promises (and, not shockingly, that it also features Viggo Mortensen) and you can't help but think... "Well it's worked before..." So it remains to be seen if movie-goers will movie-go for it, but sadly I think it's going on the middle of my watch list,  certainly below Immortals, which is set to come out that same week (and stars Henry Cavill and Freida Pinto).

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Glee Project: Things Go My Way!

So sue me, I watched The Killing and Game of Thrones before The Glee Project. Season finales automatically take precedent. But more than that, I've always taken scripted more seriously than reality, even if said responsibility is a competition series, which is far more appealing. Exception: So You Think You Can Dance... but if you even glanced over this blog, you already knew that.

I enjoyed this week's episode, though I took issue with the format more than I did last week. I mean, the main music video was finished less than halfway through the episode and the rest was left to the callbacks and singing for Ryan Murphy. Not that i don't enjoy these segments, but it seems a little ridiculous that we barely get to see our favorites and most of the screen time is taken up by weaker characters. Granted, the show does a good job of allowing us to bond with each of the contestants, but still.

Here are my favorites from this week...
- Cameron- Yes, still. He's adorable. Sorry. I couldn't believe how gypped he got on the Lady Gaga number. He didn't even sing! He looked awesome in the video though.
- Emily- I know it's surprising. Emily should be the classic reality TV bitchy girl that I hate, but her brand of crazy truly works for the show in my opinion. I think she did better than they gave her credit for.
- Samuel- He's got this star quality to him and I see how he could bring something new to Glee.
- Lindsay- Maybe I'm just shallow and I like her because she's got those gorgeous eyes that remind me of Lyndsy Fonseca. But her voice is spectacular and her performance is great too. The fact that the show paints her as the bitchy girl from your high school? I can live with that.

I know Alex is great, but I don't see where he would fit on the show. It seems like every aspect of his character has been done before.

SPOILER ALERT: I was super happy with the results tonight. I like McKynleigh. Her voice rocks and I'm hoping she can figure out how to bring it. Matheus I could take or leave, though I do like the picture Ryan painted for his character. Ellis though... God I'm so glad she is gone. I didn't like Bryce either. Things are truly going my way on this show!

Capture property of The Glee Project

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Seven Kingdom Sum-up: Game of Thrones

So I was pretty worried about getting spoiled on The Killing and Game of Thrones this week. It turns out, neither of them was nearly as spoiler-able as last week. Which is not to say that either was bad- just that if you're like me, you needn't worry too much.

The Killing: You Must Be Joking...

You know what? I'm just gonna go ahead and put a spoiler alert on this whole post because I'm not sure how else to rant out my frustration/reluctant reverence. So there it is. SPOILER ALERT.

Throwback Classic: Clueless

The truth is, I spent the better part of my childhood pretending not to like Clueless. My sister was "the popular one" and this movie was her anthem prelude to the bible that would be Bobbi Brown's Teenage Beauty. Naturally, it was not my cup of tea. But with growing up, I've found it's impossible to deny my love for this classic.

Sure, growing up I missed some of Clueless' finer jokes, like Cher's comical mispronunciation of Spartacus, as sporaticus. I was far too young to notice that Christian was gay or find the humor in Cher's blindness to it. I couldn't really comprehend the irony of the large life lessons found in tiny, unlikely places: like realizing the briefness of life after unexpectedly driving on the highway.

What Clueless has that you just don't see enough anymore, is a heroine who stays true to herself even as she's learning about herself. If anything, we are the ones who learn to see Cher for than just a vapid valley girl as she learns that it's okay for her to date Josh and for Tai to date Travis. She has more brains than people give her credit for- and she drank Starbucks several years before the world realized its awesomeness.

Clueless not only spawned a mediocre sitcom but also made teen-household names of Alicia Silverstone, Brittany Murphy, a young, adorable Paul Rudd and Scrubs' Donald Faison. You may also recognize Breckin Meyer (now on Franklin and Bash) as Travis, Wendell Shawn as Mr. Hall, Law & Order's Jeremy Sisto as Elton and even Stacey Dash, beloved Dionne of both the movie and TV series, who has a new show called Single Ladies. Not to be ignored is a great soundtrack for nostalgia purposes- vintage No Doubt, Salt-N-Peppa, The Counting Crows, Jewel, The Cranberries... it's timeless.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

SYTYCD: The Return of the Curse

Last night was the first competing performance episodes of the SYTYCD Top 20. Before we could even get to know all of the contestants' names, we were informed that last year's injury curse was not, as Nigel had suggested in interviews, broken. Nope, unlucky Mitchell was subject to the curse this time, sitting out under a doctor's advice because of an arm injury, forcing his partner, Caitlynn to perform with Season 7's Robert, much to my delight I might add. But a lot happened before then.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Young Adult Fiction Under Fire

Last week, The Wall Street Journal published an opinion piece regarding the dark subject matters covered in young adult literature. The article’s tone was generally negative, and it has sparked a great deal of debate between YA authors, parents, teachers and everyone else affected. The article makes the usual “video games make children violent” argument. It also suggested that Young Adult literature features such controversial material as suicide, abuse and self-mutilation in order to draw interest from young readers, who are used to seeing crazy things on TV. I’m not a parent or a YA author, but I object.

As a recovering angsty teen, I can truly say how much it means to be inside of the head of a character who acts like you and thinks like you. I found Jessica Darling (The main character of the series by YA author Megan McCafferty) later in my teenaged years, but I felt a warmth reading her thoughts and relating to her anxieties and her chronic overthinking. Cautiously, I told my mother to read it because I thought it would help her better understand me. She balked at the fact that I implied she didn’t understand me. I went back into my YA literature where it was common knowledge that parents don’t understand.

I’m 21 now, but I still read Young Adult books regularly. Yes, I am a little embarrassed because of the reading level. Faulkner, it isn’t. And I never stop telling people that I got through the book so quickly because *casual shrug* “It’s just a Young Adult book.” But behind that I don’t mean it, because I find a certain truth and honesty in YA books that I have yet to find in as many Adult novels. I mean talk about selling to the public’s interest? How many crime thrillers are on the bestseller list right now?

I’ve heard a lot of YA authors speak. I’ve seen some in person. (Megan McCafferty is adorable. I keep writing on her Facebook wall in the hopes that she’ll become my friend. Sigh.) I’ve watched videos of some talks. I follow YA author John Green on Youtube. I’ve even engaged with some on social media websites. What I have found is universal: They have a passion and a dedication for connecting with teens and putting something good out there. Their characters may not set the best examples, but they almost always provide food for thought and truly deep, important lessons.

These novels will continue to meet controversy as long as we live in a society where parents ignore what’s really going on with their children. Really? They shouldn’t read curse words? Believe you me: way worse is said in the hallways of your local junior high than in these books. Many of these authors are writing about real kids with real problems that many teens out there are relating to on some level.

Jay Asher, author of the Young Adult novel, Thirteen Reasons Why in which a boy listens tape recorded two weeks prior by a girl in his school before she committed suicide, recently told Entertainment Weekly about teens who have told him that his book had saved them from suicide. To the people who take issue with their teens reading these books about suicide, I can’t help but ask: What if your teen needs this book? And even if it’s not your teen, wouldn’t you say that a book with the power to prevent even one person from taking his or her life has a little more to it than just entertainment value? 

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Monday, June 13, 2011

Game of Thrones and said "Horrific Twist"

Can you hear the people... chant "half man"?

I know it's been more than an hour since I said I was going to watch Game of Thrones, but I had to lie in shock for a little while and then re-watch the ending a few times. If you haven't been watching Game of Thrones on HBO, you officially don't know what you're missing. Needless to say, there are some SERIOUS SPOILERS to follow, so I'm gonna go ahead and put them after a cut.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Glee Fans Rejoice!

12 hopefuls Gleek out
Tonight marked the series premiere of The Glee Project. And you know what? I didn't hate it. Maybe it was the groan factor of the fact that it was on Oxygen- a network I personally only associate with TV-coma-inducing America's Next Top Model marathons- but I expected to hate it. Friends of mine will tell you that I am not a Glee fangirl in any way. I watch it here and there to keep up with the times, but since The Morning After on Hulu started doing a weekly "gleecap" it's hardly been necessary. The point is I think that The Glee Project has all the heart and genuineness that Glee thinks it has.

The Glee Project is a reality competition for a 7-episode arc on Glee. from the casting special that preceded the premiere, I learned that they were looking for individuals- people who would never have gotten the chance before. And while it seemed like a lame hook to draw viewers, I found myself believing it. The show makes an effort to show who the contestants are and what they're going through more than they edit it for drama factor (which I suspect they will do more and more as the kids start to get competitive).

The gimmicks are cute. The people running the show seem genuine: including Glee's casting director, vocal coach and choreographer. We even got to meet the weird bearded guy who plays piano. His name is Brad. Crazy, right?

My favorite so far? Cameron- He's a hipster nerd with a guitar and original songs. He seems like a real musician to me, actually playing with his few lines in Katy Perry's 'Firework' to work for his voice and to stand out. My favorite Glee songs are the ones that aren't replicas of the originals. Cameron's it for me in that sense. 

For the entertainment factor, I'm kind of intrigued by Emily. She's a total nutcase, but it kind of works. I could totally see her on the show... I'll reserve judgment on the rest for now (as if!) but there's a good chance I'll keep watching. It's not like I can forget. The posters plaster every bus and subway station and this ninja uses public transportation to get to work. Plus I keep seeing the ads during the America's Next Top Model marathons...

Now I have to go watch Game of Thrones before I'm spoiled on what the headlines are calling "horrific twist."

Photo Courtesy of

Neil Patrick Harris Rocks it!

Not shockingly, The Book of Mormon and War Horse took home a plethora of statues tonight at the Tony Awards. The former took 9 and the latter a still impressive 5. I guess I'm giving up hope of seeing either anytime soon.

What I did see was Catch Me If You Can, whose star Norbert Leo Butz took home the Best Actor in a Musical award this evening. I loved him in the role, even though neither him nor costar Aaron Tveit came out the stage door after the Wednesday matinee. Butz was charming, vulnerable and funny and FBI fraud Agent Carl Hanratty. I'm really happy that he got the award. 

But perhaps the most impressive and surprising part of the Tony's telecast was host Neil Patrick Harris's rap as the credits rolled. He did a rhyming recap of the night. I have no idea who wrote it or how he had time to practice it while hosting the ceremony, but I was totally blown away. Brava NPH, Brava.  

Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images North America

Awesome Cover Alert: Just Can't Get Enough

Suddenly I just can't get enough
I might as well tell you since you'll be figuring it out soon enough: I love a good cover. And I love sharing good covers. The first time I heard Just Can't Get Enough by the Black Eyed Peas, I couldn't really make heads or tails of it. It was like three separate songs with only a loose connection between them. Leave it to Boyce Avenue- probably my favorite youtube find ever- to figure it out and get it onto my ipod.

The song's chorus, originally sung by Fergie, sounds great with singer Alejandro Manzano's soulful voice, but what is truly incredible is how the band transformed the verses between choruses, giving the song a sexy latin feel.
Check it out here:
Just Can't Get Enough- Boyce Avenue
And in case you live somewhere beyond the reach of radio, here's the original:
Just Can't Get Enough- Black Eyed Peas

Florida-based Boyce Avenue found a huge fan base by posting covers of songs on Youtube, so you should definitely check them out. They had a really interesting cover of Grenade by Bruno Mars backed by a violin.

And they're original music is great too. Check out one of my favorite songs by them, When the Lights Die. Or just poke around their Youtube channel here.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Jokes Keep Coming...

By now I'm sure no one is a stranger to the bizarre Anthony Weiner scandal. Though I didn't think it was possible, the story keeps getting bigger and bigger, with sources now reporting that Weiner's wife is actually pregnant. Personally I think the whole thing is stupid. Is he an internet creep? Sure. Did he do something stupid? Yes. Was he careless about it? You bet. Should someone really start doing a study about the connection between politicians and illicit sexual relationships? Maybe it's time we start looking at it, yeah. But the point is that it doesn't really affect his policy making. I mean an ethics committee hearing? Seriously?

That being said I can't help but enjoy such a continuous source of late night humor material. From Jon Stewart to Letterman, tons of comedians have been piling on the laughs night after night at Weiner's expense. I never though I'd say this, but it's kind of a shame Saturday Night Live isn't on right now. To make it easy for us, Hulu compiled a playlist of the best bits of Weinergate '11. Enjoy!
Hulu's Anthony Weiner Joke Playlist

Photo Courtesy of ABC News

Thursday, June 9, 2011

So You Think You Can Dance Season 8 Top 20

America's 20 Favorite Dancers... this year
This seems like a good place to start...
So You Think You Can Dance revealed it's Top 20 for Season 8 tonight. Ever adapting the show's format, this year the Top 20 were revealed and then performed on stage one group at time. It saved some time combining the drama of the reveal and the non-competition performance special that was introduced last season. Plus, instead of awkward home visits, the dance hopefuls were thankfully placed back in their holding room to wait to face the panel of judges. (Maybe Nigel didn't want to risk getting lost again in Wapakoneta!) 

There weren't many heartbreaks in the choosing of the Top 20. Probably the most upsetting for me was seeing Natalia Mallory go. I know it would've been complicated, but that girl was remarkable and she brought it every time. She's definitely an inspiration. 

I was happy to see her sister, Sasha, put through though. At least one of them made it. My other favorite is probably tap dancer Nick. Did they not show him to us before, or am I only now noticing how adorable he is? I thought I liked his genre counterpart, Broadway dancer Jess, but something about the number tonight created an association with Peewee Herman. 

I would watch out for seductress Jordan Casanova, though. She killed the Sonya Tayeh jazz number. And props go to Iveta for finally making it through. Well deserved. I was also pleasantly surprised with the four hip hop dancers, though I would have loved at least one female hip-hop dancer... maybe Sasha counts.

Another welcome return was the Top 20 format itself. Though the All-Star format did push the dancers to be better last year, I was with most of the fans in missing the chemistry of such combinations as Season 6's Kathryn and Legacy, Season 4's Katee and Joshua, and Season 5's Brandon and Janette. I'm happy with the compromise for this year- pairings for the Top 20, and All-Stars for the Top 10. 

Even the stage is better, without the obnoxious lighting of the previous stage. My main complaint for the evening was the camera work. It felt more difficult to watch the dances than I am used to with the show. Maybe they are getting used to the new stage, maybe it was just that they were large group numbers... either way they better figure that out by next week.

Photo courtesy of