Archive for April, 2010
New York Transit Museum: For some reason, I love visiting transit museums, although I usually wind up feeling that I’m not nearly enough of a trainspotter to appreciate them. For instance, the NYTM in Brooklyn, housed in an decommissioned subway station, has an exhibit on fare collection that features every kind of turnstile used in the history of the New York underground, plus “a graphic timeline underscoring milestones in fare collection as well as the fifty year history of the token.” Yes, transit museums are almost comically boring, and yet I can’t resist them. After viewing the exhibit showing how the earliest subway lines were built, you can go downstairs and check out the massive exhibition of vintage cars. For some reason, I was slightly annoyed that there was a large exhibit devoted to the history of the RFK-Triborough Bridge, which is used mainly by single-passenger automobiles.
Speaking of subways, this ad was all over the underground during our trip. Talk about bad timing (and the guy looks like he got a face full of ash from EyjafjallajÃ¶kull):
“Next to Normal”: Talk about a tough sell — “It’s a rock musical about a woman with manic-depression!” And yet it’s become a hit. I wouldn’t have put this on my list were it not for a local theater director who urged us to check it out. Indeed, “Next to Normal” is a brilliant, emotionally wrenching show, and unlike a lot of last year’s Tony winners, Alice Ripley is still headlining the cast. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, but unlike, say, “Avenue Q,” you probably won’t leave the theater humming any of the songs — none of them have stuck in my memory. But I was drawn into this show in a way that doesn’t happen too often. (The Pulitzer judges must have been, too, as they awarded it this year’s drama prize.) Here’s Louis Hobson (who plays the lead character’s psychiatrist) signing Playbills at the stage door; anyone else think he looks like a slightly more clean-cut Jeremy Sisto (“Law & Order”)?
Noise: Every time I visit Manhattan, I simply can’t get over how noisy it is. I’ve stayed in all parts of the city, from Tribeca to Gramercy Park to the Upper West Side, and it seems like there are horns honking and trash trucks lumbering down the street at all hours of the day and night. I have to sleep with earplugs. I guess if you live there, you eventually get used to it — and maybe if you spend a night in a quiet suburb or the countryside, you need to play a recording of loudly chattering pedestrians, the beep-beep-beep of trucks backing up, and jackhammers tearing into asphalt in order to drift off at night.
“God of Carnage”: French playwright Yasmina Reza’s “Art,” in which three friends sparred over the meaning of an all-white painting, was a thought-provoking Broadway hit a few years ago. “God of Carnage,” which won the Tony for Best Play last year, indicates that Reza continues to be fascinated by what happens when people drop their veneer of civility and, as they used to say on MTV, “start being real!” “God” had already cycled through two acclaimed casts by the time we saw it — Marcia Gay Harden, who played Veronica during the initial run, won the Best Actress Tony — and despite some still-significant star power (our cast featured Jeff Daniels, acclaimed English stage actress Janet McTeer, Dylan Baker and Lucy Liu), audiences dwindled and it was recently announced that “God” will close in June. The one-act play is an extended scene featuring two couples who have gotten together to talk about a recent fight between their 11-year-old sons. Alan (Baker) is a type-A lawyer who is addicted to his mobile phone. His wife, Annette (Liu), is a “wealth manager.” Michael (Daniels) owns a company that sells wholesale plumbing supplies, and socially conscious spouse Veronica is writing a book about Darfur. While the latter couple is obviously upper-middle class, tension erupts over the fact that upper-upper-middle class Alan makes his money trying to shield a pharmaceutical company from accusations that one of its medicines is harming the people who take it. People, incidentally, who include Michael’s (unseen) mother.
This “God” offers 90 minutes of tour-de-force acting — I suspect this is one of those plays that is hugely enhanced by a quality cast, since I’m not sure the material is strong enough to stand up to a weak link in the ensemble. Joe & I were both pleasantly surprised by how excellent Lucy Liu was — despite the fact that the “Charlie’s Angels”/”Ally McBeal” actress was making her Broadway debut, she easily stood up to her more experienced peers. One of her set pieces, in fact, is arguably the most memorable in the play.
As the action progresses, the characters are constantly shifting alliances. Things are said in anger — everyone winds up taking vicious aim at their partners at some point, as well as lashing out at the rival couple. Like “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf,” this isn’t what you’d call a good first-date play. As we were leaving, I spotted a couple standing by their seats, embracing. Did they see themselves in the characters — or were they just relieved that at least things weren’t that bad between them?
The Jewish Museum: Yes, the Margret & H.A. Rey (creators of Curious George) exhibit is coming to San Francisco’s own Contemporary Jewish Museum after it finishes its run at the New York institution later this year, but I’m such a fan of the mischievous monkey that I couldn’t wait. And there’s plenty to see at the museum besides the Reys’ charming original drawings, letters and other ephemera (they escaped Nazi-occupied Paris and wound up fleeing to Brazil and then New York). I really enjoyed the “Modern Art, Sacred Space” exhibit, which featured large-scale works by Abstract Expressionists Robert Motherwell, Adolph Gottlieb, and Herbert Ferber (on loan from a synagogue in New Jersey that is currently undergoing renovation). An amazing array of Jewish artifacts is on display, from a fourth-century burial stone to a Hanukkah lamp featuring an image of pro wrestler Hulk Hogan. “The cast glass image of Hulk might at first seem completely incongruous,” notes the catalog copy, “but traditional Hanukkah lamps often featured a victorious figure, such as the biblical Judith, to suggest the victory of the Jews over their oppressors. The artist [Joel Otterson] updated this idea with an image of the famous television wrestler.” I love it when museums feature whimsical or unexpected items like the Hulk lamp, and the Jewish Museum is packed with fascinating, meaningful and beautiful objects.
“Fela!”: As a world music fan, I’d been eager to see this Broadway show, which features the music of the legendary Nigerian performer Fela Anikulapo Kuti (if you’ve never heard of him, don’t worry — I’m sure most Americans haven’t, which makes the success of the play a pleasant surprise). Unlike any other show I’ve ever seen on Broadway, “Fela!” offers an immersiveÂ experience that begins as soon as you enter the theater — a band (Brooklyn Afrobeat combo Antibalas) is already playing onstage, and the inside of the Eugene O’Neill Theater is covered in African flags, posters and graffiti. A bank of seats has been removed from the middle of the orchestra, allowing the performers to leap offstage and move through the audience, which they do frequently. The show is so demanding that two actors share the title role, alternating performances. We saw Sahr Ngaujah, and he was a dynamo, commanding the stage from start to finish. The conceit of the play is that Fela is performing at his beloved nightclub The Shrine in Lagos, and telling his life story to the audience. Apparently the first version of the show was much lighter in the story department, but since most audience members won’t know anything about Fela, the structure makes sense, and it works. There’s tons of great music and plenty of emotional moments (we are told that Fela’s mother recently passed away, partly as a result of her son’s frequent run-ins with the Nigerian military and government, which harassed him mercilessly, as Fela dared to speak out about the country’s corruption; at one point, the military stormed Fela’s compound and threw his 82-year-old mother out an upstairs window). It’s nice to see that something as edgy and “foreign” as “Fela!” can coexist happily with the likes of “Mamma Mia” and “The Lion King.”
“Fences”: This was my #1 pick to see during our trip, and not just because Denzel Washington is starring in it — I’m on a quest to see all the plays in August Wilson’s Century Cycle, and “Fences” was just opening in previews during the week we arrived. It was sold out, so thanks to Patrick at Shotgun Players for scoring us the tix. I understand, but am not a big fan of, the whole phenomenon of huge movie stars appearing on Broadway in order to boost sales (there’s no way “Fences” would be packing the large Cort Theater without Denzel). I’ve seen enough fabulous local talent here in S.F., from Marco Barricelli to James Carpenter, to know that it’s the talent, not the name brand, that makes for great theater. So even though Washington is an undeniably gifted movie star, I was a little dubious as to how his skills would translate to the stage. Well, I needn’t have worried. He was fabulous. Within a few minutes, I forgot that I was watching DENZEL and just focused on the story of his character, Troy Maxson, a former Negro League player turned Pittsburgh garbage man. Yes, the Hollywood heartthrob makes you believe he is a garbage man. Viola Davis, whom we had seen in “Doubt” a few years back, has perhaps the juiciest part in the play as Maxson’s put-upon wife, and a heavily emotional scene in Act 2 led to the sort of audience response which I rarely experience in a theater (apparently it happens a lot during the “Madea” plays). B’way audiences are not the most diverse around (even “Fela!” attracted a pretty old, white crowd) but “Fences” had a large percentage of African-American theatergoers. Anyone who’s ever attended a black church or movie theater (as I did back in Baltimore when I lived a few blocks away from the good ol’ Boulevard) knows that they come from a more interactive cultural experience, which led to conflicting cries of “You deserve better than him, Rose!” and “Sssssssshhhhhh!”
The Frick Collection: I am an avid museumgoer, but I hate battling crowds, so I often try to seek out smaller, quirkier institutions. A couple of friends said I had to check out the Frick, which I finally did on this trip. It’s far from a hidden gem — it’s got some of the most famous paintings in the world — and yet I never felt the least bit crowded or rushed. In fact, I’d describe it as serene, especially its gorgeous enclosed central garden courtyard; if I lived in New York, I’d spring for a membership and visit frequently. If you value quality over quantity, the Frick, located on Fifth Avenue on the Upper East Side, might just be the finest museum in the country. Housed in what was once an almost unimaginably lavish private home (belonging to strike-breaking steel magnate Henry Clay Frick, recently named one of the worst American CEOs of all time by Portfolio magazine), the Collection boasts three Vermeers, along with works by Rembrandt, Degas, El Greco, Goya, and many more. The $18 entrance fee includes a self-guided audio tour, so you can listen to a curator talk in detail about any painting you’re especially interested in, and skip those you’re not. Its manageable size means you can view pretty much everything in just a couple hours, or you could linger all afternoon.
I was lucky enough to see the famous mid-’90s Vermeer exhibit at the National Gallery of Art in D.C., but my main memory is how you practically had to queue up to get within a foot of each painting before being shoved out of the way (attendance was limited via a timed ticket, but with only 23 paintings on display, it was still super-crowded). At the Frick, you can spend five or 10 minutes in front of a masterpiece and feel like you have it all to yourself.
“Avenue Q”: Alphabetically, it comes first; chronologically, last, as we saw it on our last night in New York. Joe and I had already caught this delightful Tony-winning puppet musical when it played on Broadway, but his sister was up for a visit and he thought she might enjoy it, which she did. After a long run, “Avenue Q” closed last fall and moved down the street to the off-Broadway New World Stages, where fellow Broadway vet “The 39 Steps” is now playing. (Here’s an article about the transition from the New York Times.) The space is a bit smaller and the cast was completely different than when we saw it five years ago, but equally gifted, especially the charming and versatile Sarah Stiles, who plays both sweet and vulnerable Kate Monster and the trampy Lucy the Slut. “Q” is still a fun night out in New York, and now that it’s off-Broadway, a more affordable one, too.
Brooklyn Bridge: Hard to believe, but after all of my trips to New York over the years, I had never been to the borough of Brooklyn. A friend recommended that we walk across the famous bridge, which has a pedestrian path above the vehicular roadway, so you are walking a few feet above the automotive traffic. It was a lovely day and the views were spectacular, although I tried not to think too hard about how high up we were.
“The Daily Show”: The first time we went to a “Daily Show” live taping (in 2005), I vowed I’d never bother with it again, despite the fact that “TDS” is my favorite show — too much waiting around for 22 minutes of comedy. And I was in the VIP line! Some of the people waiting for standby tix spend a good 5-6 hours in line. However, as time passes, you remember the good and forget the bad, and I decided I wanted to go again. It was a much better experience, despite the fact that the waiting area they pen you up in before they admit you into the studio is as dingy and squalid as ever. Jon answered at least eight audience member questions before the show (as opposed to a single one last time I went), including one from a youngish guy in a pink polo shirt who wanted to know why the “Daily Show” set “sucks” and Stephen Colbert’s is so much better. Everyone in the audience went, “ooh!” Jon, full of mock outrage, went into a big rant about what a complainer the guy was, adding, “This set cost almost $300!” So we got at least 10-15 minutes of bonus comedy, along with a top-notch episode of “TDS”!
Of course, being out & about on Monday night in New York (including a lovely dinner with friends at Chanpen Thai) meant that I missed Kate Gosselin’s final spin around the dance floor on “DWTS.” Since she finally got kicked off on Tuesday (I had Joe look up on the result on his iPhone as we were heading out of the play “Fences”), she must have been really terrible, so I’m kind of sorry I missed it.
I had to miss book club last night because I had bought tickets to see one of my favorite bands, Spoon, at the Fox Theater in Oakland. (Incidentally, Joe came with me to see Spoon and is going to see Pavement this June, and I’ll be accompanying him to the Rush concert at the Shoreline in August. That’s love, ladies & gentlemen!) Unfortunately, when you tell people that you will be attending a concert, the next question is always, “Oh, who are you going to see?” I should really lie and give the name of someone everyone has heard of, like Bruce Springsteen or Dolly Parton, because inevitably, no one had heard of Spoon.
For the record, Spoon are fairly popular (their seventh and most recent album, Transference, debuted at #4 on the Billboard album charts); they are from Austin, TX; and their music has been featured in numerous movies and TV shows, including “The Simpsons,” “How I Met Your Mother,” “Cloverfield” and the Will Ferrell film “Stranger than Fiction.”Â According to the review aggregation site Metacritic, Spoon were the best-reviewed rock band of the past decade, receiving “accolades from the music press and music fans for their impeccable songwriting and addictive songs.”
I am completely unable to write well about music, which is why I don’t do it very often. And it’s hard to communicate with non-music fans about why a particular band is so good. For instance, The Onion AV Club said that Spoon “[favor] the ambitious structures of art-rock and [offer] an impressive meeting place between traditional new wave and the abrasive, angular qualities of Wire and Magazine.” I am familiar with traditional new wave as well as the bands Wire and Magazine, so that means something to me. But unless you are, say, my friends Jeff or Steve, it probably won’t mean anything to you.
Do you ever compare bands to food, or is that some form of synesthesia? If Spoon were a food, they’d be something you have to eat with a fork, like arugula or endive. If Spoon were a New York Times crossword puzzle, they’d be Friday. If Spoon were a plant, they would be something attractive but a little prickly — a type of thistle, perhaps. In any case, the show was great, they played most of my favorite songs (including “The Way We Get By,” which I had been hoping for when I saw them last time, to no avail) and our seats weren’t bad — what more can you ask for?
Because we were out so late last night, I had Joe look up the results of “Dancing with the Stars” on his iPhone, so I found out that hunky soap star Aiden Turner had been eliminated. I guess it was too much to ask that Kate get the ax. At this point, I’m starting to worry that she’ll be around ’til the bitter end. For better or worse, Kate is us — the non-special, non-star viewing public who have never danced a step in our lives, and I think at this point, people find it encouraging that she is improving a (very) little.
Aiden was in the middle of the pack, along with Jake Pavelka, Chad Ochocinco and Niecy Nash, so he was going to have to leave soon anyway. Chad’s faux-lovestruck Pepe le Pew routine around his partner Cheryl Burke is beginning to grate — is he hoping she will agree to be one of the 85 women competing for his affections on his forthcoming VH1 reality show? And Niecy’s blatant weekly appeals to vote for her for reasons other than her dancing abilities (which are actually impressive)Â are becoming almost comical. First it was the “thick girls,” then minorities and gays, and on Monday, she danced in honor of her deceased brother. Next week, will she try to tug at the heartstrings of anyone who’s ever lost a pet? “This is for my late, lamented little dog, Snuggles!”
It seems clear at this point that figure skater Evan Lysacek is the frontrunner, especially after pop singer Nicole Scherzinger’s tearful response to a routine she felt was subpar: “I’m an artist! I’m not like other people!” The “other people,” i.e. the average Americans, are the ones who vote — and don’t you forget it, Nicole.
I woke up from a deep sleep with the following line stuck in my head: “All you need to make theater is an actor and a story.” I’m not sure that’s entirely true — you could argue that you also need a stage and an audience — but I’m guessing the line was the result of my just having seen “Andy Warhol: Good for the Jews?,” the new monologue by Josh Kornbluth. Because when you see a Kornbluth show, what you get is one actor and lots of stories — fabulous, engaging stories.
I first encountered Kornbluth a few years ago when he was doing his “Love and Taxes” show at the Magic Theater in San Francisco. Instantly hooked, I have since been lucky enough to see several of his other shows — “Ben Franklin Unplugged,” “The Mathematics of Change,” “Citizen Josh,” “Red Diaper Baby” (the latter on film) — and then I got to know him a little bit, eventually helping him with his web site (kind of Flash-heavy for my tastes, but rather appropriately, chaotically Josh). In short, I think the guy’s a freakin’ genius at what he does, which is go onstage and tell stories about himself.
Last year, the Contemporary Jewish Museum commissioned a piece by Josh to commemorate its exhibition of Andy Warhol’s “Ten Jews of the Twentieth Century.” Joe and I went to see the show’s initial run, and I was eager to find out how it had changed over the course of a year in which Josh had been working on it with his director/collaborator, David Dower. The initial show was a bit meandering, whereas in its current form, it’s a solid 90 minutes of thoughtful entertainment, filled with the kind of insights you’ll find yourself mulling over long after the curtain falls.
The monologue does not have the most promising beginning — Josh is offered the commission by the museum, and is reluctant to take it because the portraits don’t speak to him. Well, we know he eventually takes it, because here we all are. But over the course of the show, Josh explores that initial reluctance, which leads him down many paths — including the story of Andy Warhol himself, who grew from a boy disfigured by skin conditions and plagued by an embarrassing nervous system disorder into the great pop artist of the 20th century. Josh talks about his own secular Jewish upbringing, and the real catalyst behind every Kornbluth monologue, his late father, a communist who expected his son to grow up to lead the workers’ revolution.
There are moments in every one of Josh’s shows where the audience sits totally riveted, and the best one in “Andy Warhol” comes during a story about an event that took place after visiting his father in the hospital. Finally leaving his father’s bedside, Josh found himself walking across a bridge late at night — and encountering a suicidal man who was about to leap off. Fumbling around for something to say that could stop him, Josh tried to convince the man that God had sent him to intervene. The man’s response? “Are you a Jew?”
At age 50, Josh is still puzzing out the answer to that question. But whether you’re Catholic (like Warhol), Protestant, Jewish or any other faith (or even faith-less), “Andy Warhol: Good for the Jews?” is a wonderfully moving evening of theater.
In the movie “Greenberg,” the title character is shown using his sleeve to cover his hand before pushing the pedestrian walk signal at an intersection. I realize this is supposed to show how crazy-OCD he is, but the fact is that I do that all the time myself. I also use a paper towel to turn off the faucet and open doors in public restrooms.
Thus, we have established that I am a little nutty about germs, something I no doubt inherited from my father, who is always alert for the sound of a cough so he can move as far away from the cougher as possible. So when I think a company is simply going too far in marketing their products to all of the Adrian Monk types out there, it’s truly extreme.
Exhibit A: the Lysol No-Touch Hand Soap System. I do not have a soap system in my home — I simply have bars of soap and ordinary pump soap dispensers. According to Lysol, I may as well be putting out the welcome mat for germs. “Hand washing is one of the most important steps to help stay healthy. But have you ever thought about those germs ending up on your soap pump?” The Soap System dispenses a dollop of cleanser into your hand when you place it under the nozzle, helped along by four AA batteries.
Here’s the thing, however. I don’t care if there are germs lurking on my soap dispenser, because after I touch it, I wash my hands. Thoroughly. Thus killing the germs.
Exhibit B: the Kleenex Hand Towel Dispenser, because “your hands are only as clean as the towel used to dry them.” This is for you if you’ve ever wished your bathroom could be more like a public restroom. “Families have not had a practical alternative to traditional cloth hand towels in their home bathroomsâ€¦ until now,” announces the web site. The Kleenex folks helpfully include a song for children to sing while they’re drying their hands, including the line: “No yucky old towel’s gonna ruin my day/I dry my hands the Kleenex way.”
Now, I have blogged about my brand loyalty to Kleenex, which for my money provides the only facial tissue that pampers my delicate, allergy-prone nose, despite their environmentally questionable past practices. But this is going too far, if you ask me. If you’re concerned about germy hand towels — which, I might add, are used for drying your hands after you have washed them — you can purchase a dozen of them for $6.75 and put up a new one every day. That’s just over twice the cost of two boxes of Kleenex Hand Towels (each box contains 60 towels, which I assume would be about a week’s supply for the average family).
I am by no means 100% environmentally pure, but it does burn me up to see people using disposable things when there are clear (and often cheaper) alternatives: buying individual plastic bottles of drinking water instead of using a Brita pitcher and/or reusable, refillable containers, say. Introducing new products that will send hundreds of batteries and used hand towels to landfills (I realize they can be recycled and composted, respectively, but how many people actually do that?) is not a step in the right direction.
My friend Janet A. is not a fan of the new season of “Dancing with the Stars.” I, on the other hand, am way more into this spring’s competition than last fall’s. For one thing, I had actually heard of every one of the stars before the program began, except for soap opera actor Aiden Turner. And Turner is a very good looking guy with a British accent, so I’m not going to complain about his casting!
Janet thinks there’s been too much emphasis on the dancer/pro conflicts in the rehearsal footage that precedes each live performance. I suspect that’s a choice being made in the editing room — because it makes for dramatic footage. If you throw two people together for eight hours a day, they are going to butt heads from time to time. I suspect that even sweet li’l Shawn Johnson, who won last spring’s contest, had some tense moments with her partner Mark Ballas. It’s all about creating a storyline, which the editors do very well. Will super-hot Erin Andrews hook up with Maks? Will Buzz Aldrin break a hip? Tune in and find out!
Having said that, however, I don’t think the producers need to work overtime to manufacture any tension between reality queen Kate Gosselin and her unfortunate partner, Tony Dovolani. I have never seen a single episode of “Jon & Kate Plus Eight,” but one of my favorite shows, “The Soup,” the E! channel’s weekly half-hour pop culture compendium, frequently featured clips of Gosselin which made her seem like a bitter control freak. (One showed Kate going into a complete meltdown when Jon forgot to use a coupon at the store; “I’m gonna shoot him!” she declared to the camera crew.)
Jon turned out to be not such a nice guy, of course, which led to an outpouring of sympathy for Kate, but I suspect her appearances on “DWTS” will not help her image. For one thing, she is an atrocious dancer. Her Week 2 jive to “I’m Still Standing” may have been the poorest performance I’ve ever seen on this show — she stared at Tony’s feet and looked terrified during the entire segment. People would probably feel sorry for her were it not for the fact that we had just seen her behave in a rude, passive aggressive manner to Tony during the rehearsal footage. Amazingly, however, Kate didn’t wind up in the final two the next night — my only guess is that people love a train wreck. I’m sure the producers are loving every moment, since Kate is delivering amazing ratings. They keep slotting her segments toward the end of the show, to make sure everyone stays tuned for the full two hours.
Last night, she and Tony danced to Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi,” which was supposed to give Kate a way to unleash her aggression and anger toward the photographers who follow her everywhere. (Hint: if you want them to quit doing that, stop appearing on reality shows.) Her way of conveying those emotions consisted of literally baring her teeth. It was a slight — slight! — improvement over the previous week, however.
However, I’ll be happy to see Kate go — it would be nice to see her get the ax tonight, with Buzz to follow next week. He’s even more painful to watch than Cloris Leachman, and the way the producers are playing up his Heroic Astronaut background is nothing but shameless pandering. If he’s back next week, expect him to emerge from a replica of the Apollo 11 capsule wearing a red, white and blue costume, dancing to “God Bless America” while surrounded by an adorable group of schoolchildren waving tiny flags. I will miss the shots of his incredibly taut-faced wife Lois in the audience, though; she always seems to be surrounded by a pack of ladies who all look like they could be extras on “Nip/Tuck”:
The rest of the dancers, though, are all fairly decent. I had high hopes for Chad Ochocinco — my initial Final Three picks, before the show debuted, were Chad, Nicole Scherzinger and Evan Lysacek — since the football players are usually good (Warren Sapp was one of my all-time favorite “DWTS” contestants). Plus, he’s partnered with Joe’s TV girlfriend Cheryl Burke. However, Chad is pretty stiff and ungainly on the dance floor; so is Aiden Turner, but they’re both extremely attractive men, so I’ll be fine with them sticking around a while.
Lysacek seems to be following in the footsteps of Olympian champs Kristi Yamaguchi and Johnson. Plus, he seems to be having a good time with his pro partner, Anna Trebunskaya. ESPN’s Erin Andrews is steaming up the dance floor with Maks Chmerkovskiy; last night, Andrews waltzed blindfolded, which waas supposed to prove her “trust” in Maks, but seemed a little more “9 1/2 Weeks.” And Pussycat Doll Scherzinger — this season’s Mya (in other words, the contestant who is already a trained dancer) — is so good that Derek Hough shrewdly devised a routine for her last night seemingly to bring down her absurdly high judges’ scores, presumably to make her seem a bit more of the underdog. Their quickstep was so brilliant that we immediately rewound it to watch again, but Derek had thrown out all of the components ballroom dancing judges want to see, like an unbroken hold and no lifts, bringing her down from first to third place. Hough, the show’s most gifted choreographer, will get Nicole back up to #1 when it counts.
In the middle of the pack, we have former “Bachelor” Jake Pavelka, who seems rather charmingly game to do anything, whether it be dressing like a nerd and dancing to “Hip to Be Square” or doing an “Indiana Jones”-themed routine which ended with him being shut into a mummy sarcophagus. Comedian Niecy Nash is a surprisingly expressive dancer who seems a little desperate to garner votes from various constituencies; last week, plus-sized Nash dedicated her dance to “all the thick girls,” while yesterday’s waltz depicted a doomed interracial love affair from the 1960s, with some words of support for gay marriage thrown in for good measure. Then there’s my favorite, sex kitten Pamela Anderson, whom I never expected to root for, but I think she really brings something to this show. She’s got a certain wacky charm, and never seems to take herself too seriously — you had to love the fact that last night’s rehearsal footage showed her getting dancing tips from the one and only Charo! Pam wound up in the bottom two last week, which seemed to throw her off her game a little bit, so Joe and I sent some votes her way.
Tonight, one of the stars will go home. If you hear a loud groan coming from the direction of my living room, it means that both Buzz and Kate have survived to dance another week. I love this line from EW.com’s recap of last night’s episode: at the beginning of the show, “Kate Gosselin mouthed ‘I love you’ to the camera to remind her kids, watching at home, that she loves the camera.” That woman needs to be off my screen, stat.
Jan. 27, 2001 (adoption day) – April 4, 2008
There will never be another dog like you.
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- Joe on My Advice to NBC
- Janet Appel on A Reader’s Voyage
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- Janet Rudolph on A Reader’s Voyage