28 August 2008

Frenemies

Fall TV Preview*

Since the ultimate frenemies are coming back together (see picture at right), it got me thinking about what draws us to television. Yes we love seeing great friendships and love affairs but all couples (friends or lovers) are far more exciting when there's conflict. So I'm going to talk about the best upcoming fall shows and the conflict that drives them.

First off, the CW. First off, props to Dawn Ostroff for kicking off the fall tv season on Labor Day, weeks before anyone. But this move is not without calculation. Ostroff is desperate to revive the network and hopefully, she hasn't burned too many bridges with the cancellation of fan (though not ratings) favorites like Veronica Mars and Everwood. But the CW reigns as the network you love to hate, with guilty pleasures like
Gossip Girl, One Tree Hill and the rebooted 90210 which is sure to be the next show no one wants to admit they love. All three shows premiere back to back September 1st & 2nd. Gossip Girl, with its Bananarama backed promos is highly anticipated. Will Serena and Dan get back together? Will Blair rip Chuck a new one for standing her up? Who will be the next to fall and rise again? And every OTH fan will be tuning in to see who Lucas proposed to at the end of season 5 (my money's on Lindsay but an eventual reunion with supposed "one true love" Peyton).

Next on the list is NBC's
Heroes. Those lucky enough to attend this year's San Diego ComiCon were treated to the premiere episode of this season and everyone admits that it's a game changer and also a step in the right direction after last season which was mediocre. To be honest, I'd given up on Heroes (a show that was so engaging, I read online comics and followed every episode with a religious fervor) but so far the reviews have been good so I'm rooting for it to return to glory.

One of my upcoming favorite networks is CBS. It's my new place for sitcoms. I'm eagerly anticipating the return of
How I Met Your Mother and The Big Bang Theory. Both shows exhibit great comedic timing and with the addition of Sarah Chalke to the HIMYM cast, it should continue to please. Everyone is wondering if Ted and Stella will marry and if not, when will we meet the titular "mother". Also my one and only procedural show Cold Case continues to make me cry once a week. It's cathartic.

ABC has gained lots of ground in the past few years and rather than introduce lots of new shows, the network has decided to stick with its reigning hits,
Grey's Anatomy, Ugly Betty and Lost, while also giving some of its new shows a chance to find an audience. Everyone is hoping that this season will finally see Grey's Meredith and Derek settling into a relationship and viewers will be holding their breath to see if Katherine Heigl's unfortunate comments about the shows writers will result in her character's untimely death. Ugly Betty suffered a sad sophomore slump but with Wilhemina and Marc back at MODE hopefully the show will return to form. ABC's newer shows, Pushing Daisies and Dirty Sexy Money will hopefully, continue to build an audience despite being cut short by the WGA strike, while many are hoping that the break gave showrunner Shonda Rimes a chance to breathe life into the faltering Private Practice.

Given FOX's track record, I'm going into this fall rather dubiously. I was lucky that
Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles was renewed but I wonder how that luck will hold out since FOX is notorious for preemptively canceling shows that aren't breakout hits. I'm excited for the J.J. Abrams show Fringe which has tinges of Abrams other shows (Alias and Lost). And there's also Joss Whedon's Dollhouse starring one of my favorite actresses Eliza Dushku (Joss, I love you!) but I hesitate to even get attached as both Whedon and Dushku have been burned by the network before.

Finally, the ultimate "frenemy" show
The Hills is back for a fourth season. While I spent most of last season staring at the tv asking myself what happened to the last half hour of my life, so far this season has been filled with interesting conflicts and off the wall comments which makes you wonder if these people actually take themselves seriously or if they're just truly clueless. Either way, it's good television.

*picture from The TVAddict.com Click to check out his site.

09 August 2008

A King is Gone

I was going to take a break from blogging because I kind of OD'd this week but I had to write a little something about the passing of Bernie Mac.

Mac was an amazing comedian and a great man. His distinctive voice and style was something that set him apart from other comedians. A contemporary of Steve Harvey, D.L. Hughley and Cedric the Entertainer (together the "Kings of Comedy") he had a style and swagger that was in many ways unmatched.

Personally, I loved his performances in the Ocean's Eleven films. He brought a wonderful sense of levity to those films. His ability to turn a personal pain (his sister's drug addiction) into a hilariously poignant comedy routine and later into a network sitcom, shows just how adept a talent he was. It's a shame that another great star and truth teller has been taken from us. I hope Bernie Mac and George Carlin are telling jokes to Buddy Jesus right now. Rest in peace.

UPDATED: Soul singer and the voice of South Park's Chef, Isaac Hayes passed away today, Aug. 10th, at 2 p.m. Another great soul lost. Rest in peace.

08 August 2008

Uncharted Territory

So I'm back (a day late and more than a dollar short) but here's my report on the "Places in the Bay that have kept me from slitting my wrists during my first summer away from NY". That's a wordy title, how about My Best of the Bay:

Let's start in San Francisco. SF for me is all about food, drinks and shopping. One of my favorite places to eat (because it was right across the street from my job) is Circa in the Marina. They have a wonderful happy hour that includes $5 appetizers. My favorite is the calamari. And their chef, Erik King was on the latest season of Top Chef. There's also Silver Cloud for kareoke and the Bus Stop up on Union for old-fashioned bar feel.

SF has no shortage of shopping districts but I particularly like making the hike up Fillmore. You never know what bargains you might find at the Marc Jacobs store. There's smaller boutiques like Heidi Says and it's sister Heidi Say Shoes and frankly it's just a nice walk. Hayes Valley has a similar feel and some of my favorite shops like Flight 001 and Isotope, the comic book lounge. The people there are always helpful and they have a great comic selection.

Finally, there's The Mission. I enjoy eating in the Mission because there are a million and one tacquerias. But more important than that are some of the bars and restaurants like Cha Cha Cha, which has great tapas (and another Haight Street location if the first is crowded). The Mission to me is like the Village. You have to wander a bit and find the gems.

Now on to the East Bay: There's the conventional Emeryville which has everything you need in one convenient place; IKEA, H&M, Sephora, Borders, etc. But there are also some nice surprises like Teacake (try the pink velvet cupcakes!) and EQ3 which is one of my favorite furniture shops.

Then there's Lakeshore the best place to walk around on a Sunday. There's the new Trader Joe's, Arizmendi Bakery and my favorite consignment shop, Maribel. The Grand Lake Theater is a good place to catch a movie with free popcorn Monday-Thursday and the cheapest matinee around at $6.50. But if you're over 21 and want to catch a movie the best place is the Parkway theater. Giant couches, an impressive menu and food delivered to you while you watch your favorite films.

Finally, Downtown Oakland is filled with hot spots. Luka's is the best place to get a burger and fries, listen to music and have a great cocktail especially every Friday night. Oasis (135 12th street) is hot on Saturday nights. Don't let the entrance fool you. Head out back where there's a huge dance floor and outdoor patio. During the day check out Mignonne and Drift for a range of housewares and casual chic clothes, respectively. Probably the best restaurant if you want to splurge a bit on a fabulous meal is B. I love the lemon tart dessert. And my absolute favorite is Air Lounge. Every Wednesday night head out early (around 8 pm) to their spoken word-open mic where you'll hear a range of voices. Stay after for a great hip-hop dance party and head over to the bar and have a jolly rancher. But not too many.

These are the places I've come to enjoy out here in the Bay. And I'm glad. Each one makes me miss home a little bit less.

06 August 2008

[Shananigans] in the City

This is my first summer spent away from NYC since I was about 10. When I was young my mom would send me down South to be with my great-grandparents but I always got to spend some part of the summer at home. And to me, nothing is better than New York in the summertime. Some people complain about the humidity, the over-powering scent of heat and people but still I love it. So I thought I'd post,
The Places I'd Be If I Was In NY
:

1. The Meatpacking District
Pop Burger (58-60 Ninth Avenue) is one of my favorite after/between club spots. Since it's a club and a burger stand in one you can listen to music while you eat or go inside and have a drink. There's also APT (419 W 13th St.). It's set up like someone's (very swank) apartment and it's a great place to meet for pre-outing drinks.

2. Broadway-SoHo/Union Square
I spent many a summer walking from Canal St. to Union Square via Broadway. There's so much to see and it's perfect for shopping. Some of my favorite stops along the way are Pearl River Mart (477 Broadway) as well as big retailers such as Armani Exchange, H&M and Zara's. You can veer off at Prince St. for high-end retailers like Chanel and Barney's Co-op. And don't forget the hundreds of street sellers along the way. There's also movies at the Angelika (18 West Houston). Right before you hit Union Square there's Forbidden Planet (840 Broadway) the comic book shop. And once you reach the park, there's a farmer's market that's great to wander around.

3. 5th Avenue
5th Ave. is one of those places I came to appreciate after I worked there. Plus with the tourists crowding up 42nd street, it's much better to walk east. I love the lower level of Rockefeller Center with its restaurants like Cucina & Co. Also if you walk towards the park you'll pass all the famous NY landmarks like Tiffany's and at the very end is the amazing 5th Avenue-Apple Store, which is an architectural marvel on the edge of Central Park.

4. The Village
What can I say about the Village? There's something new every time I go. I like to start at the W4th stop on the A/B/C/D trains and walk from there. Basically, take your time and just wander. I enjoy Harry's Burritos (76 West 3rd) and also Negril (70 West 3rd) for after work/pre-party drinks. And the IFC Film Center has interesting films and special events like the Buffy Sing-Along.

5. Brooklyn
Brooklyn is where I'm from so I'm pretty biased when I say it's the best place in NY ... but it's still true. Some of my favorite places to visit are the Cobble Hill Cinema (265 Court Street) and Prospect Park (450 Flatbush Avenue). There's the ever-classic Coney Island (last stop on the D, Q, N, or F trains). Coney Island has everything: The original Nathan's, rides, nightly fireworks and enough hot dogs, burgers and cotton candy to make anyone sickly happy.

Those are pretty much the places you can find me during a New York summer. I also have to mention the Water Taxi Beach (Vernon Blvd/Jackson Ave. stop on the 7 train), which is the best place to go and watch the sunset over the city.

Tomorrow, I'll talk about the wonderful places that I've found out here in the Bay Area that have made my first summer away from NY bearable.

05 August 2008

It's Different for Girls

Recently, there was an outrage over at Jezebel due to two of its editors. Tracie and Moe, appearing on a local show called Thinking & Drinking and, taking the latter part to heart, the former took a backseat to some questionable comments. The interview then caused a lot of lamentation about the editors letting down girls & women who saw them as their new "feminist heroes" and others wondering why anyone would see these women as such in the first place.

Moe has since moved from Jezebel to Gawker.com, although I believe she will still continue to do some of her regular Jezebel features. Tracie on her personal blog eventually posted this statement where she questioned the idea of whether there can be a "good" or "bad" feminist. Although I found her final post on the topic to be the most well-thought out and honest viewpoint of the situation, her blog was littered with comments such as:
You are putting women, not even feminists, to shame with your attitude, outlook, and disregard. You words are trash and shouldn't be taken with any more validity than a cheap add in a porno mag.
and:

You're not a "bad feminist"...you're just an immature, cold, insensitive, self-centered bitch

Now while I do believe everyone is entitled to their opinions, I find that when addressing the issue of feminism, many women seem to believe that they have the definitive or the authentic feminism locked up somewhere. And throwing around the words "bitch", "whore" and "slut" don't help anyone.

Am I not a feminist (or a "bad" feminist) because I haven't read the literature? Is my feminism less authentic because I believe that being a good mother is the best job a woman can do? (On an aside: I also believe that being a good father is the best job a man can do. When you work with children, you realize how important good parenting is.)


I'm just wondering because it seems as though feminism, the way it has been set up, is still largely about middle-upper class white women who have time to contemplate these issues and denounce other women who don't because they are trying to survive economically or a stay-at-home mom or a sex worker or something else that doesn't jibe with the idea of a woman throwing down her apron and entering the workforce.

As I see it, the truth is that it's different for girls. There's always going to be a barrier to breakdown, an image to overcome, a double standard to navigate. But lately it seems like women are throwing extra barriers at each other to further judge your authenticity. I believe that a women should be able to have responsible sex with as many people as she wants, but I don't think anyone should be running around putting their sexuality in people's faces (male or female). I think a woman can do any job a man can do if she puts her mind to it. I also think there is a certain grace and beauty that women have and that should never be lost in the attempt to "equal" men. I don't know what kind of feminist that makes me but I also believe that this whole thing is a process. And it's still happening everyday.

Full interview of Thinking & Drinking (I really suggest watching the entire thing as the clips are a bit taken out of context): Shoot the Messenger

04 August 2008

Heat Wave


Today was a run-around day but I promised myself I would update so here I am: SUMMER TV! First off, I had to admit that summer television got off to a rough start. Due to the writers' strike, many of my beloved cable shows (
Entourage, Damages) got pushed back to mid-summer if not fall or winter. But right now we are smack dab in the middle of an entertaining summer.

MONDAY:
If you are not watching The Closer than I don't know what your problem is. Brenda Lee Johnson is one of the most captivating characters ever created and I personally love a great mystery. Also since it's a procedural you can miss a few episodes and still catch right up. Here's the important details: she's a Southern cop living in L.A., and she has a sweet tooth, but now she can't have sweets. Thank yew!

TUESDAY:
Perhaps, like me, you have a slightly masochistic streak and you may be interested in
The Secret Life of the American Teenager on ABC Family. I mostly watch because there is NOTHING on Tuesday nights. I'd advise going out for a drink rather than watching this show though. But come Aug. 26th ABC Family will redeem itself with a new season of GREEK, one of it's best shows.

WEDNESDAY:
AKA "
Bravo night". There's nothing better than champagne and back to back episodes of Project Runway and Shear Genius. Although I will admit to some drawbacks of this season of PR. First, there's the tanorexic Blayne, who much like Gretchen, keeps trying to make "-licious" happen. And then there's Suede who keeps referring to himself in the third person and pointing his fingers like guns, no I'm not over exaggerating.

THURSDAY:
Much like during the fall, Thursdays are packed. First there's
My Boys on TBS, which is actually having it's season finale this week. Then there's Kathy Griffin's My Life on the D-List on Bravo which is a laugh a minute romp. Right now it's a tie between whether Kathy's mom, Maggie or Steve "Woz" Wozniak is my current love. CBS just moved it's new summer show Flashpoint to Thursdays and once again, if you like a good procedural you're in for a treat. This show follows a SWAT unit as they defuse various hostage situations, sometimes with dire results. Then there's MTV's America's Best Dance Crew. The dancing on this show is phenomenal and the final three groups are spectacular, though I suggest taping the episodes. It makes it easier to fast forward Mario Lopez. And believe me you want to fast forward Mario Lopez.

FRIDAY:
A lot of people go out Friday night but it's usually a stay-in night for me and I like to unwind with The-N. Episodes of
Degrassi and Queen Bees. I'm a Degrassi fan from way back so I don't usually recommend it to the uninitiated but Queen Bees is a brand new show which follows a group of girls as they try to change their Mean Girl ways. Long story, short: They finally get a taste of their own medicine and it's delightful to watch. There's also Psych on USA if you want a really good laugh.

SUNDAY:
Another day of rest, Sundays are the best if you want to move from excitement to sadness and back again. I like to watch
In Plain Sight on USA, then bawl a little over Army Wives on Lifetime before going crazy watching Million Dollar Password on CBS. Million Dollar Password is hosted by Regis Philbin and features a melange of stars from Rosie O'Donnell to Tony Hawk to Betty White. And you will literally be yelling at the television while you watch it.

Those are the shows that have sustained me this summer. I also want to remind my fellow tv addicts that fall television is coming back as soon as Sep. 1st. I'm completely psyched since over the past few years some shows have returned as late as the end of October. So even if you don't get a chance to check out any of these shows, don't worry. Fall tv is just around the corner :)

02 August 2008

The Balance


So here I am on the other side of 25, the side that's tipping
a bit closer to 30. And that's how everything feels. Like it's all tipping a bit to the wrong side. To be quite honest, the only thing in my life that feels right is my friends. For the most part, friends tend to be my constant (not that my family isn't but they have their own issues on any given day).

If you check out my new iPod tunes you'll notice that it skews towards the 90's. It's because in the 90's, I had balance. I knew EXACTLY where I was going and what I was doing, and who I wanted to be. I wanted to be Julie Delpy in Before Sunrise traveling on a train from Vienna to Paris. I still want to be that girl.

The 90's made a kind of sense. The country wasn't completely steeped in sex and vacuous lifestyles. It was an age of pop-y boy band tunes and Britney before ... well, you know. Movies were quirky, the word "quirky" was still in vogue, Madonna was voguing. I know I'm still a bit young to be ├╝ber-nostalgic but there was an energy in the 90's I just don't feel anymore.

Anyway, as I search for balance, I promise to update this week with some issues that have been rattling around in my brain: feminism, dreams, war, love, summer t.v. (lots to cover there), and fashion. Hopefully along the way, someone will offer me a job or a kiss and maybe I'll find some balance too.

Later days.