Seriously, I’ve Moved

Due to some technical glitches (and/or my own blunder), some of my subscribers never received notice that I’ve moved my blog over to www.PopCultureNerd.com. Others have informed me that after re-subscribing over there, they’re not receiving the e-mail notifications.

If you’re reading this, it means you’re subscribed to the wrong blog, my old one for which I’ve stopped posting new content. Please go to the new site (I have a giveaway going on right now!) and click “subscribe” on the sidebar so you can start getting the fresh feeds. It should work now because the all-powerful techies from support tell me so.

Thanks for your patience during the move. See you at the new digs!

I’ve Moved!

In case you were wondering why I haven’t posted in almost a week, I’ve been up to my eyeballs in XML files, CSS codes and whatchamacallits to move my blog over to my own domain. I’m now at PopCultureNerd.com and will no longer be posting here. I just posted my thoughts and reactions to the Golden Globes so come join the party over there!

AMERICAN IDOL & BETTER Television

I know I’m in full-on nerd mode when I say this but I’m happy season 9 of Idol has started! Yes, this show can be corny and full of deluded, scary folks, but every once in a while they get it right and find a real star among the wannabes (I loved Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood during their respective seasons). Also, while I covered season 8 last year, Poncho dropped by, became one of the most insightful and witty commenters about the show, and has since continued to hang out here and become my cyber buddy. American Idol brings people together!

It’s too early to call anything but here are quick takes about last night’s premiere:

  • My favorites include Benjamin Bright with his smooth Aaron Neville-esque delivery of the Beatles’s “All My Loving,” the stunning Ashley Rodriguez (push-down-the-stairs alert!) and her rendition of Alicia Keyes’s “If I Ain’t Got You,” Katie “I Love My Portuguese Grandma” Stevens doing “At Last” better than Beyoncé at the Inaugural Ball, and Justin Williams, who made ME feel good when he sang “I’m Feelin’ Good,” Michael Bublé-style.
  • I’ve said it before but I’ll repeat myself here: Having Victoria Beckham judge a singing contest is like having Stevie Wonder judge Project Runway. How would she know anything about good singing? Everything was “nice.” Sample critique: “You have a nice smile, nice look, nice voice, nice personality. I say yes.” Thanks for that.
  • Most supportive relatives go to Amadeo Diricco‘s Italian clan, Bosa Mora‘s Nigerian folks, and Katie Stevens’s huge family who made Ryan Seacrest cry.
  • Funniest critique—Simon’s dissection of Norberto‘s audition, saying how weird it was that he sounded like a three-year-old girl but looked like LaToya Jackson with a beard, made me laugh. How will we manage without our favorite judge next year? Who could possibly replace him?
  • Did you spark to any singers last night?

After Idol, I switched to Better Off Ted on my DVR list. Please, please, please watch this show so it won’t die. The laughs-per-minute ratio is higher than any other show currently on and yes, that includes Modern Family and Glee, two of my favorites.

Two fresh episodes were on last night—I fear ABC is burning them off while anticipating cancelation—and the first one was a riot. The company Ted works for, Veridian Dynamics, is a really inappropriate corporation known for sending out memos full of typos then refusing to own up to them out of pride. The latest memo says, “Employees must NOW use offensive or insulting language in the workplace.”

Because higher-ups won’t admit they meant “NOT” instead of “NOW,” employees, even meek ones, let fly an endless barrage of rude insults at each other. The putdowns get more creative as people become more empowered and start enjoying telling others how they really feel. I laughed so hard, I had to repeatedly rewind to catch all the dialogue.

Even if you don’t watch much TV, sample it on ABC.com or hulu.com (the episode I mentioned is number 208, titled “The Impertence of Communicationizing”). I guarantee you’ll laugh. If not, come back here and tell me off since you must NOW use offensive language in the comments!

The LOVE Isn’t Just BIG, It’s Getting Epic

The following is by new contributing writer, Sarah Carbiener. She obsesses about TV as much as I do and will start providing regular coverage of it. I’m happy to have her extra pair of eyes since there are so many shows and I can’t watch them all.—PCN

During the first season of Big Love, I couldn’t help but be fascinated by the polygamous family, their world, the politics, and…be completely bored by the plots. It felt like the creators were too protective of their main characters, not wanting to put them in any real trouble and, gosh darn it, they really wanted us to love and root for the central family. Well, it was pretty hard to do that when they were in so little trouble for so long. This certainly wasn’t a problem in the third season, however, and it seems it won’t be in the fourth either. **Spoilers ahead!**

In the third season finale, Nicki (Chloe Sevigny) brings to the Henrickson household the daughter she abandoned when she left her first husband J.J.; Bill’s brother Joey (Shawn Doyle) kills Roman (Harry Dean Stanton), the prophet of Juniper Creek, to avenge the murder of his second wife-to-be; and after falling feet first through a barn loft and hitting his head, Bill (Bill Paxton) decides to follow Roman’s example and start his own church. (This is only a fifth of what happens in the finale. Like every episode last season, it was packed with plot developments.)

The fourth season picks up six weeks later with the FBI mysteriously still searching for the long-dead Roman. It isn’t until Nicki’s mother’s large walk-in freezer loses power that we discover where Roman’s been hiding.

Panicked, Adaleen (Mary Kay Place) calls Nicki, and because she is one of my favorite characters to hate, it was awesome to finally get to see her come apart at the seams. This is the woman who hired a man to approach her son Alby (Matt Ross) for sex in a truck stop and then murder him, and when he confronted her about it, she not only didn’t deny her actions, but she wasn’t at all remorseful. It doesn’t get much colder than that.

But in this opening episode, when she’s begging her daughter to go into the walk-in freezer and get some bacon because she doesn’t know how else to tell Nicki that her father’s dead, we finally get to see her as desperate and frantic and crazed as she makes everyone else.

After the discovery of the body, the episode becomes a much darker version of Weekend at Bernie’s as the Juniper Creek gang and the Henricksons keep trying to dump the body in the others’ backyard. Unfortunately for Bill, he forgot the one rule about revenge. (My father taught me this in the second grade, and it has served me well ever since.)

If someone picks on you, never get them back right away because you will always be the person who gets caught. Wait a few days and get them when they’re not expecting it. Bill drags Roman’s thawing corpse straight back to Juniper Creek when it shows up in the lot where he’s building the casino and, based on the end of this first episode, it looks like he’s getting caught.**End spoilers**

The rest of the episode includes some light conflict between Barb (Jeanne Tripplehorn) and the Native Americans they’re running the casino with, and a hilarious storyline between Bill’s homicidal parents (Bruce Dern, Grace Zabriskie). The septuagenarians’ fighting, complete with exclamations like, “Ow, my hip,” had me laughing so hard I was crying. Overall, a very strong start for what’s sure to be another intense season of our favorite polygamists. With Bill basically naming himself the next prophet, this may be the most literally epic season yet.

CHUCK’s Back!

Did you catch the Chuck season three premiere last night? Talk about two satisfying hours of television. I’ve always enjoyed this show, but now that Chuck (Zachary Levi) has downloaded the Intersect v.2 into his head, giving him access to skills like kung fu and flamenco-guitar playing, the fun factor has ratcheted up a few notches.

This doesn’t mean our Buy More nerd is James Bond. He’s too emotional for the Intersect to work properly so his klutziness is alive and well. He’s also still in love with Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski), the tension between them as thick as ever, if not more so because of something we see in flashback. Though I feel for their predicament (“Spies don’t fall in love,” she tells him), I kinda hope they never get together because the show will be over.

It might end anyway after this season if ratings don’t pick up. It baffles me why a well-written romantic action comedy like this (what other show does all that?) can’t find a bigger audience. I hope recurring guest stars Brandon “Superman” Routh and Kristin “Lana Lang” Kreuk will be able to help.

If you missed the premiere last night, you can watch it at nbc.com and another fresh episode airs tonight at 8 p.m. Any other fans out there?

Nerd verdict: Chuck yourself

Tell Me a Story About…

Watercolor by Victoria Beckert

While I didn’t love Elizabeth Gilbert’s Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage (read my review here), I really liked this one activity she described doing with her lover Felipe. No, not that kind of activity; it’s more a storytelling exercise.

She’d ask him to tell her a personal memory built around a trigger word, a random one from the top of her head. When she asked for a story about fish, Felipe told a poignant tale about fishing trips with his father when he was six.

I wanted to try this out so I asked hubby to give me a random word. He said, “Socks.” I immediately went to a memory of when I fled Vietnam at the end of the war and my mother said I could bring only the bare essentials. I brought one change of clothes but forgot socks.

So I wore the pair I had on when we left—white bobby socks with a red flower embroidered on the cuff—for over two weeks, until they turned brown with dirt and stiff with sweat. They could stand upright by themselves. I eventually ditched them somewhere and went bare in my Mary Janes the rest of the way.

Hubby and I used several more trigger words and told each other stories, some about things we hadn’t thought about for a long time. It proved such an interesting exercise, I decided to try it out here.

Tell me the first thing that comes to mind when you hear “socks.” It doesn’t have to be a long or life-changing tale. Any random thought or memory qualifies. I just want us to flex our creative muscles and learn fun things about each other.

If I get a lot of comments, this might be a regular feature, maybe once a month or bi-monthly, with a different trigger word each time. But meanwhile, let’s talk about socks!

Movie Review: LEAP YEAR

by Eric Edwards

You’d think a romantic comedy named after an event that occurs only once every four years would be something special. Well, Leap Year (opening today) isn’t.

Anna (Amy Adams) and Jeremy (Adam Scott) are a seemingly perfect, upwardly mobile couple. They are both attractive, great at their jobs and have bright futures. What they aren’t is married and Jeremy doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to propose.

Thus, when business takes Jeremy to Ireland, Anna decides to follow him and take advantage of a popular Irish custom in which women propose to men on February 29. Due to inclement weather, one of her connecting flights is canceled and everything goes awry as she tries to make it to Dublin before leap-year day is over. Severely strapped for cash, hot innkeeper Declan (Matthew Goode) agrees to drive her to Dublin for a fee. Though they encounter endless mishaps along the way, I think you can figure out what happens.

From L.: Goode, Scott, AdamsThis film suffers from severe formula-itis. Yes, we’ve seen it all before, but director Anand Tucker (2005’s fine Shopgirl) doesn’t even try to give a fresh spin to the screenplay by Harry Elfont (who is also responsible for the equally forgettable Made of Honor). It is so obvious Anna and Jeremy do not belong together that the whole initial setup of the story lacks credibility.

By the time Anna meets Declan, I was wondering if maybe I should have gone to see Up In The Air for a second time. That said, it isn’t the worst thing currently playing at the box office and Newton Thomas Sigel’s breathtaking cinematography of the Irish countryside had me checking flights for the Emerald Isle as soon as I got home.