Monthly Archives: January 2012

Ten Things I Learned Last Night Watching Television (And Other Opinions)

Sunday nights for me are generally spent on the couch in sweatpants and glasses, yelling at myself for never leaving the apartment—even briefly—for some fresh air. It’s kind of like flying on an airplane when you realize all the fresh oxygen that existed has been inhaled and now you’re all breathing recycled air and the thought of it makes you a little claustrophobic so you take a few gasps near the window where maybe fresh oxygen still exists in tiny pockets. That makes sense, right? Is that how a scientist would explain it? Anyway, yesterday was different as I spent all afternoon out and about, running errands with my mom (I bought a jump rope!), taking the train back to the city, stopping by the grocery store, and then walking home. It was so nice, my skin never even felt like an orange peel disintegrating on a dirty kitchen counter, another side effect of Sundays indoors. When I arrived back at my apartment, waiting outside the front entrance for me was not the Old Town homeless man to whom my roommate occasionally offers her leftover french toast, but my friend Daniel! We had arranged a get together the night before over margaritas and, lucky me, he remembered. The best thing about our friendship (if I do say so myself, Daniel) is that we are the perfect sounding boards for each other’s obscure pop culture references. We were once a team for the game “Celebrity” and in the second round when you can only use one word to get the other person to guess the clue, he said “Hillary” to which I immediately shouted back, “Condoleezza Rice!” It was amazing. [ed. note: This line was updated at 9:15 AM on Tuesday, as I my memory of the event was slightly muddled.]

While selecting our TV viewing schedule for the night, Daniel reminded me the SAG Awards were airing at 7:00, so we decided to supplement that lowbrow selection with a slightly more informative program, like 60 Minutes at 6:00 (that way we wouldn’t feel like such nincompoops for having conversations about Viola Davis’s glittery skin later in the evening). After the ultra-efficient, two-hour SAG broadcast concluded, we cued up the episode of The Good Wife that had aired at 8:00, and once again contemplated careers as in-house investigators for a major law firm. Think of all the black and purple we would get to wear! By that point it was fairly late so Daniel left, but I couldn’t bare the thought of going to bed without watching the Kourtney and Kim Take New York season finale. And I needed to paint my nails. So with those five hours under my belt, here are 10 Things I Learned Last Night Watching Television.

1. No one is more amused by our military operations than Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. Correspondent Scott Pelley brought us a profile on the Secretary, who was tickled pink by the question, “In how many countries are we currently engaged in a shooting war?” Hahahaha! No, seriously, Mr. Secretary. Ballpark figure. Scott Pelley, dressed in his best Brawny man ensemble for portions of the interview, went so far as to put together a montage of Secretary Panetta laughing in a variety of presumably serious settings. It was supposed to put the minds of Americans at ease, that a man with such a stressful job would be able to maintain his sense of humor, but as an at home viewer, it kind of made me feel like the only one in the room who realizes something’s burning in the oven.

2. There is a ranch in Texas that breeds exotic animals from Africa so that they may be hunted for sport. It’s only a matter of time before Texas secedes from this nation. What is going on down there? Correspondent Lara Logan, showing a great deal of journalistic objectivity, asked a hunter on the ranch who was out stalking the endangered scimitar-horned oryx, “HOW DO YOU KILL SOMETHING YOU LOVE?!” She would be a terrible poker player. Actually, the most unsettling part of the segment was that at it’s conclusion, I had sided with the ranchers. While many of these animals are on the endangered species list, in Texas, they’re thriving. Don’t get it twisted…anyone who seeks the thrill of hunting a zebra makes me a little sick to my stomach. But if we are to understand that this ranch restricts hunting to only 10% of each species annually, and they are making a concerted effort to breed animals that are on the path to extinction in their natural African habitats, then their’s is a business model I almost regretfully admit I understand. As Angelina Jolie said in Wanted, “Our purpose is to maintain stability in an unstable world – kill one, save a thousand.” She’s always my go-to when it comes to animal conservation.

3. The announcer during the red carpet montage at the start of TNT’s broadcast of the 18th Annual SAG Awards, momentarily forgot these celebrities were not her friends. I imagine this woman to be the type who uses a rhinestone hair claw to keep her hair back at the gym and flirts with her friends’ husbands at block parties. As the camera moved from celebrity to celebrity, the announcer spoke to each as if she were mingling at a middle school fundraiser: “Hey there Brad and Angelina!” A shot of Melissa McCarthy waving at the camera: “We’re waving at you Melissa McCarthy!” Kristen Wiig, Busy Phillips, and Michelle Williams standing in a group, not looking at the camera: “Hey there, girlfriends!” I imagine the producers’ were going for some kind of “Look how much fun we’re having and the party’s just getting started!” vibe, but it ended up feeling more like a scene from a Christopher Guest movie, mockumenting a small town film festival.

4. Viola Davis’s win last night for Best Actress was a game changer. Moments before the winner was announced last night, I rolled my eyes and yawned my prediction, “Meryl Streep.” And no sooner did the words leave my mouth, than Sir Ben Kingsley was announcing Viola’s name. For anyone within an ear shot of my apartment, you would have thought a world leader had just been assassinated. We were floored. This scenario we now face leading up to the Oscars reminds us of the neck-in-neck Best Actor race between Sean Penn and Mickey Rourke back in 2008. Only these actresses are lovely and have never been so narcissistic as to date Scarlett Johansson.

5. I always thought that SAG, as a collective Union, offered a really sophisticated point of view when it came to television and film, and then Betty White won the award for Best Actress in a Television Comedy. For the second year in a row. You guys this show is on TV Land! Wendie Malick’s character’s name is Victoria Chase! Betty White has to say things like, “You better buck up and bug down, bitch!” WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?! We’ve already shown our appreciation for her career in television through lifetime achievement awards. Why are we kidding ourselves by thinking she gave the BEST comedic performance by an actress this year? Is it out of guilt? Are we all too afraid to admit she doesn’t deserve so much as the nomination because she’s 90 years old and it feels like telling grandma we can’t make it to her house for Christmas? I mean, God bless Betty for proving to Hollywood that we are better off looking like her at 90 than Mary Tyler Moore at 75, but really, this win is so far off the mark, it’s insulting.

6. Whoever was in charge of selecting the clips for each award presentation, needs to be fired. Literally, the clip introducing The Good Wife as Best Ensemble Television Drama consisted of Diane Lockhart saying to Will Gardner, “I’ll hold.” Edie Falco’s Best Actress Television Comedy clip for Nurse Jackie was her telling a young patient, “You should be a nurse. They’re smarter than doctors.” And poor Jonah Hill, his clip for Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture was from The Sitter! No, I’m kidding. But has anyone else come to terms with the fact that now and forever Jonah Hill will be announced as “Academy Award Nominee?” Me neither.

7. Last night, The Good Wife reminded all of us why it belongs on CBS in a single moment. In one of the best episodes of the season, The Good Wife just could not escape the puritanical cheesiness their host network is best known for, when duped Assistant State’s Attorney Dana Lodge approaches Kalinda in a bustling court house hallway and Kalinda tells her, “Hit me. It’ll make you feel better.” AND SHE DOES. If only it was immediately followed by the CSI: Miami  “YEEAAAAHHHHH!” (See the 0:22 mark for a reference.)

8. If you ever find yourself in a combative situation with another woman, follow Julianna Margulies’s lead. When Alicia takes the stand during the Grand Jury hearing of her boss/former lover, Will Gardner, Wendy Scott Carr (lead prosecutor for the case) insinuates Alicia’s professional success as a third year associate was due to her sexual relationship with Will. Insulted, Alicia removes herself from the stand before being dismissed and tells Wendy in a calm but firm voice, “You are out of control.” Is there anything more effective a woman can say to retaliate against a woman making offensive and baseless accusations, in order to take back her power? I would say that to someone everyday if I could. It makes me want to audition for a Bravo reality show just thinking about it!

9. Despite losing major points when he kicked over a waste basket filled with his own urine a few episodes back, last night Scott Disick proved himself to be the only sane one in the bunch. To Kim getting hysterical in her make-up chair over the idea of husband Kris Humphries shipping boxes of his belongings to her home, Scott asks, “You know you’re married, right?” Right.

10. If it was the intention of the editors to use Kourtney and Kim Take New York to make Kim Kardashian look sympathetic in the wake of her divorce, they failed. Attempting to spin the downfall of Kris and Kim’s 72 day marriage in Kim’s favor backfired last night on the season finale, as anyone who has ever been in a relationship, considered being in a relationship, or watched a relationship unfold on a 90s sitcom, can tell you that the reason this marriage failed is because there was no sustainable relationship to begin with. As much as they would like to argue that anyone would want to get a divorce if they realized that the person they married is an immature goon, they can’t explain away a 31 year old, formerly married adult, getting married because she felt ready to check that off her to-do list. “I feel awful that I feel this way! I feel awful that I fell in love with a guy and it’s not what I thought it would be!” All of this nonsense from Kim about wanting a fairy tale ending and being a hopeless romantic, reads like a page out of a PR Crisis Management Handbook. I appreciate the 10 episode-arc Ryan Seacrest and Kris Jenner formulated as a point of reference for how miserable Kim’s life had become with that wretch Kris Humphries and how much it pained her to concede the fact that the only way to regain her happiness was to get a divorce, but Kim is an adult. And no matter how in love Kim is with love, she should have known better than to marry a man she hardly knew she liked.

I hate to say it but anticipate a delay with The Bachelor post this week! The boss’s boss is in from LA!

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Girl Crush: Zooey Deschanel(‘s Hair)

If you are like me, and every other girl that I know, you are obsessed with Zooey Deschanel’s hair on New Girl:

First of all, she rocks blunt cut bangs, which are like the harem jumpsuits of hair trends: They only look good on about five people in the entire world, but since they look so good on those people, everyone else decides they want them. Because I am super fashion-forward, I attempted to rock the blunt cut bang at a young age. This did not end well:

Yikes!

And this picture does not even do justice to the ferocious cowlick that is the real reason behind why I am not allowed to have bangs. Which is a tragedy, because the vast expanse that is my forehead would be well-served by some fashion bangs.

So not only does Zooey have super cool bangs, but she also has lush, voluminous, perfect curls.  Seriously, I would die for those curls. Zooey once tweeted, in response to questions about how to replicate her hairstyle, that people should follow her hair stylist and he would provide all the answers. This clearly proved too challenging a task for me (I don’t even know how to make my profile picture not an egg), and also seemed like kind of a frustrating response, because how am I supposed to know what your hair dresser’s Twitter handle is, Zooey? And then I kind of forgot about the whole thing.

But today, when I was bopping around on the xojane website, I found this article about the author’s hair crush on Zooey Deschanel, and it included a tutorial on how to mimic her New Girl hair. And my first thought was that I had to share my good fortune with you guys!

The key, apparently? To use a straightening iron instead of a curling iron. Counterintuitive! Hannah does not seem to think there are any hair extensions at play here. I’m torn. On the one hand, Zooey is perfect, and so naturally she would be blessed with a head of hair like that. On the other hand, try explaining this transformation to me, without using hair extensions as the reason:

Before

After?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kind of difficult, no?

While doing research for this important thought piece I also stumbled across an article from Hello Giggles, Deschanel’s lady friendly entertainment site, where the hair dresser from the show gives a five step guide on how to copy her hair. Guess he wasn’t so hard to track down. Please excuse the earlier rant.

Since no celebrity’s hair has ever been done in only five steps (with the exception, perhaps, of Felicity Jones), I think I’m going to stick with real girl Hannah’s advice.

Not discussed in any article anywhere in the world is how to replicate Zooey’s hairstyle at the Golden Globes, where she sported a bewildering pair of mutton chops:

Good God, girl!

I’m going to test this out this weekend (the curls, not the sideburns). I’ll let you guys know how it goes.

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Help me, guys. I have 15 minutes. Teach me how to be good at sex.

I mentioned in my first post that I chose not to make any New Year’s resolutions this year. I’ve been pretty happy about that choice, since I’m not really into the whole “setting myself up for failure” thing, and I also like patting myself on the back for a job well done. But this blog has made me start to rethink that decision. Namely, I think I need to start watching more television. (And isn’t it convenient that that’s a fun, easy resolution as opposed to, like, “Try being vegan for one month, just to see if I can do it.”) I mean, it’s not that I don’t watch a lot of TV, but if I screen captured my DVR for you right now, it would look like this:

Real Housewives of Beverly Hills
Jersey Shore
Bad Girls Club
Top Chef
Pretty Little Liars
The Lying Game

The last three I don’t even watch, except for when my roommate bribes me by reminding me that David Wallace plays the dad on The Lying Game, and I will watch that CFO hottie in anything:


So there’s a good amount of TV watching going on, but the diet has become a little reality heavy. Which is just because I’ve been feeling lazy. By the time I get home from work, and do all the other things I have to do, I don’t want to exert any extra effort to think about anything (including making dinner, which is why 90% of my evening meals are now microwaved based. Gross.) But two shows that I have managed to keep up with, even though they don’t feature drunk women flashing their vaginas, are Downton Abbey and New Girl. I can’t get enough of these two. Here’s why:

Downtown Abbey
If you read, like, two sentences of our Golden Globes recap, you are probably familiar with how much I love this magical show. Downton Abbey, for the unfamiliar, is a British miniseries about an aristocratic family residing in a sprawling manor, and the servants who work in said manor (in this regard it bears more than a passing resemblance to the ‘70s British series Upstairs, Downstairs). People were blowing up about this show when it premiered in the US last year. I have a pretty good internal compass when it comes to knowing what I will like in spite of the hype. A man who has 24 hours to save the world, and somehow all 24 of those hours are spent in dark, poorly lit rooms? No thank you, Jack Bauer. Likewise, I know I dislike magic, fantasy and books targeted at people I can babysit, and therefore Harry Potter was never going to be my jam. But when I heard there was  a show set in England (+1), during a time period that would qualify it as a “costume drama” (+5), featuring romances that result in engagement before the couple has even kissed (+10), I knew I was going to be a very happy camper. Season 2 premiered on January 8th, and it was as good as ever. Matthew is engaged! To an outsider! Mary, who had her prospects for marriage severely hampered by sleeping with a Turkish prince, is romancing a new money millionaire. Even homely Edith, the middle daughter, is stirring up trouble by slumming it with a local farmer. I have very high expectations for this season, and so far I have not been disappointed.

Wouldn't you risk your marriage prospects for this?

But while the plot and dialogue and scenery are all deserving of high praise, the most important thing about Downton Abbey is the clothes. The only reason I did not start dressing exclusively in floor length skirts, long sleeved blouses and pearls this season is because I do understand that that would be really weird. But still, how beautiful are their outfits!?



Also, the show serves as an important reminder that I need to start wearing nightgowns:

I may not be able to wear riding habits or opera gloves, but it’s something.

Favorite Line:
Dowager Countess (Maggie Smith): You don’t mind my taking over the flowers, do you? Cora’s flowers always look more suited to a first communion…in Southern Italy.

I don’t even know what that means, but I know it’s a burn.

New Girl
Two weeks ago New Girl returned from winter hiatus. Perhaps surprisingly, this sweet, odd little show was the one I was most excited to start watching again. (I know it’s not “little;” it’s the breakout hit of the season. But something about it feels small and unwatched. I frequently wonder how so many people have such a strange sense of humor.)

I loved the pilot episode of New Girl. Zooey Deschanel was hilarious in her weirdness, and even if the “fish out of water” roommate plot wasn’t particularly original, the show itself still felt fresh. But in the second episode the charm started to wear off, and things continued to go downhill from there. The setting felt generic; they allegedly lived in LA, but there was no supporting evidence of that. (Although, as discussed, I do watch too much reality TV, and maybe just don’t know I’m in LA unless there’s a night shot of the Hollywood sign and Hillary Duff is singing in the background.) The male roommates felt like stereotypes, particularly brotastic Schmidt, and didn’t have the chemistry to make you believe they even liked each other, let alone had all been friends since college. And, most disappointingly, the scene from the pilot when all the boys rushed into a restaurant where Jess had been stood up and started singing a wacky rendition of “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” to show their support, went from being a charming finale to being the show’s go-to plot device. Jess goes to her ex-boyfriend’s house to get her stuff, and when she starts falling for him again, all the guys get out of the car and put on her wacky hats to show their support. Jess goes to a wedding and starts doing a wacky chicken dance, and all the guys start doing the dance too, to show their support.

But things started turning around just before the winter break. The first episode that pulled me back in was “Bad in Bed.” Jess has a new beau (Justin Long as Paul), and wants to impress him in the sack. But because she’s only been with one guy for the past six years she’s worried her moves won’t be exciting enough. So she takes Schmidt’s computer and invades his porn folder to get ideas. When he finds her she’s tells him she’s been watching for five hours. He then calmly takes the computer away and brings her to the fellow roommates to get advice from real live human men. In many sitcoms, the whole episode would have centered around this event. Jess accidentally stumbling onto Schmidt’s “red folder,” then trying to lie about what she’s been doing. Schmidt blowing up at her, but then making her promise not to tell anyone what she saw. (Actually, I wouldn’t be surprised if this has already been a storyline on Whitney this year.) Instead no one is embarrassed, and the guys genuinely want to help Jess. It felt like a very adult moment for a show that is actually aimed at 20 and 30 somethings, instead of talking down to any children who might be watching. I mean, it’s not something I’ve conducted a survey on, but if I had to guess, I wouldn’t think most guys would be embarrassed if their roommates knew they had porn on their computer. I feel like that’s a pretty normal dude thing to do, and I love that the show acknowledges it as such.

Jess's seduction outfit

But anyways, armed with whatever ideas she picked up, Jess attempts to seduce Paul by talking dirty to him. However, she pulls out an old timey newscaster voice to do so. Paul comes back at her with a Jimmy Stewart impression. And it was like watching a hilarious car wreck (you know those kinds?). I was on the edge of my couch, watching the scene unfold, totally dumfounded. It was so weird, but somehow so hilarious. “Who comes up with this stuff?” is something I often wonder while watching New Girl. It feels like no other show on television. It mixes smart, adult humor with the utterly bizarre, and then adds a dash of whimsy (sorry, had to get one adorable word in there). And the result is one of the comedies I most look forward to watching every week.

Favorite Line:

Best line from the last episode, when Schmidt’s birthday was nearly cancelled because the party bus company gave his reservation (amazingly) to Frankie Muniz:

Jess: You should torch them on Yelp. Actually, I can do it for you. I have an account under the name Fantastique Jacques. He’s a French diplomat with very little patience.

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Bachelor Recap: I Caught The Fish

It took me about ten minutes last night to accept the fact that I had pressed play on my DVR, and was therefore responsible for paying attention to episode four of The Bachelor. I was mainly distracted by the dinner in front of me, which was prepared with love by my roommate and her brother. I just wasn’t ready to sacrifice the temperature of my tomato-basil chicken in order to take detailed notes on whatever asinine connection Ben wanted to make to Park City, Utah and his ruggedness. Is it just me, or does every episode of this season feel like an unimaginative remake of the last? The number of girls hardly feels like it’s diminishing. The dates are starting to look more and more like the itinerary for a weekend at your grandparents’ lake house. And the girls are such a cluster of lunacy, they can’t even stay consistent with who they went to resent the most in the house. Remember when the show premiered and Monica was slated to serve as the resident bully when she caused Jenna to drown herself in tears and champagne? Then the following week, the ladies formed a witch-hunt, targeting Blakely and her corseted overall hot pants. Now everyone has moved on and they are refocusing their animosity towards model Courtney and her “I’m not here to make friends because I need to get something out of this show, like a bag line” attitude. I actually think we’re starting to see some consistency with Courtney, who appears quite comfortable in her role as the antagonist. This would be more exciting if Courtney had the intellectual capacity to spew villainy beyond, “You cross me…like…you don’t even know.” I have no idea, Courtney.

The episode began (at least for me) with Chris Harrison stopping by the ladies’ Park City suite to offer advice on how to proceed with the rest of the season. He must have received word from the top that things needed to start turning in a more titillating direction. Chris went over the rules of the one-on-one and group dates again (way to lead by example Chris) and then encouraged them to really open up to Ben, and not just talk about the weather. This is sound advice, although I would add a stipulation to avoid any real hot topics, as I was once asked my views on abortion during a date, and that wasn’t so much captivating as it was hostile. Chris dropped off the date card, and the lucky recipient this week was Kacie B.! No, she wishes. She was having a really hard time this week. It was in fact Rachel who Ben invited to participate in his complex compatibility tests (read: picnicking in the forest).

During Ben’s date with Rachel, it occurred to me that when Ben can’t think of anything to say once alone with a woman, he starts kissing her to avoid the biting silence that reveals he is totally out of his league here. Not with Rachel specifically, just in general. Ben took her on a date where the two would have the opportunity to sit around in nature and talk about that bird they just saw. For the love of God. Shake. Things. Up.  I am so tired of dates involving picnic baskets, dinner in barns, and mild-mannered activities like canoeing. I would like to recommend the Bachelor team look into hiring the brains behind shows like Elimidate and Blind Date. There, the couples always ended up in seedy bars or hot tub facilities. And it was always awesome. This date in particular kept getting worse and worse, as the topic of conversation turned from what a good winker Ben is, to Rachel’s crows feet. Ben confides to the camera, with a most sincere furrowed brow, “She tells me she’s interested, but I just don’t see it in her actions!” A strange revelation considering she allowed him to kiss her within the first five minutes of the date, on a canoe surrounded by bugs no less. But whatever story you want to write, Ben. By the time they arrived at their barn dinner, Rachel realized she needed to kick it up a notch and start playing to win, so she revealed to Ben what caused the demise of all her past relationships. This feels a bit unfair, that this is the level of exposure required on a Bachelor first date in order to keep yourself in the game. What happened to anecdotes appropriate for a first date, like your favorite course in college or that time you were hungover on Mother’s Day? Rachel gets a rose, which only goes to show that Ben has no spine and we will say goodbye to her within the next 1-2 episodes.

Back at the suite, Kacie B. continues to fall apart at the seams. She confesses that the idea of Ben spending the entire day with someone else drives her crazy, and she just wants to get past all this reality TV nonsense so she can go grocery shopping with him. I don’t know if it’s the sad sack wardrobe she is being interviewed in, or her general fragility that reminds me of the epilogues on Intervention when the cameras visit the subject in rehab. The group date card arrives and Lindzi, Courtney, Casey S., Blakeley, Jamie, Nicki, Samantha, and Kacie B. are all invited to go “jump in a lake.” Or some other such nature pun.

The women arrive in the middle of the wilderness, and Ben greets them on a horse. Or surrounded by horses? I can’t remember. I’m so tired. Regardless, eventually everyone received a horse of their own, and no one was more excited than Lindzi. “Clearly I like horses a little bit. I love a man in a saddle.” Yes, Lindzi. WE GET IT! Once everyone saddled up, they set off on their adventure. Approximately 500 feet later, they arrived at their destination: a river. Waiting at the edge of the river were rubber overalls and fishing poles for everyone. For those of you still hoping to make some romantic headway with Ben this afternoon, here’s an opportunity that is sure to make his tongue wag! Cover up your “Urban Outfitters goes out West” look with orthopedic tan overalls and stand in a river very quietly. Courtney seemed to think her approach to the date would be a novel idea: moving Ben to a part of the river where they could be alone and she could hang on his arm while cooing his name, “Behh-heeennn.” Groundbreaking tactics.  Courtney did end up catching a fish, which I guess was a point in her favor; I’m still just wrapping my head around the fact that fishing even took place on this date.

When the date moved to the patio-mingling portion of the evening, tensions seemed high, as Courtney had clearly stolen the show earlier in the day and all the other women were trying to make up for lost time. Nicki decided to approach Ben with a “I know someone who died” story, which was an instant hit with Ben, who is really hung up on “vulnerability” and “openness” when it comes to his women. They kiss, and Nicki is an episode away from telling Ben she loves him. Samantha was up next, and she decided to go for a more confrontational approach. She sat down with Ben and asked him what the deal was with only getting invited on group dates. She thinks you would really like her if you would just give her a goddamn chance, Ben!  Ben responds, and I’m paraphrasing here, “You’re a mess. You won’t be getting a rose this week, so I think it’s best if you leave now.” I don’t know if it was the American Apparel sweatshirt he was wearing, or the way he escorted her out of there like a bouncer at da club, but a small part of my heart warmed up to Ben in that moment. On her way out, Samantha tearfully declared to the camera how much she would miss Ben and that her heart was breaking. It will heal, Samantha. Trust me, you’re thinking about it too much. Back on the patio, Ben asked Courtney for some one on one time and what transpired next was one of the greatest examples of reality television manipulation I have ever seen. And I watched Joe Millionaire. If you have the resources (and the patience), go back and watch this scene, where Courtney literally pushes Ben away after he kisses her for 2.6 seconds, masking her disgust by stating, “I really like you.” She then begins ranting about how hard the competition is for her, how she hates when he’s around other women, and she just wants to be alone with him all the time. But it’s not an insecure thing! She swears. You can see Ben starting to sweat as he anxiously tries to figure out how to regain control of this situation and appease this poor model. Maybe give her a reality check? “I can’t say that it’s going to get easier, because it probably won’t.” No, that didn’t work. Ugh, just go get the rose and give her what she’s really after, you pansy. Not only did Courtney prove she has the power to get whatever she wants in 30 seconds or less, but now she has a prop to trace her cleavage with the rest of the episode.

The final one-on-one date card arrived at the suite, and this time it was Jennifer the accountant who would be putting herself through Ben’s tests of love. Once again, the date Ben had planned was an outdoor challenge that would evaluate whether or not Jennifer was willing to trust him. I think that’s a reasonable request from a man who is dating 12 women at the same time. Ben and Jennifer approach a fence covered in signs that say “No Trespassing.” Jennifer feigns apprehension about crossing the fence, which opens the door for Ben to remind the audience that, “Relationships for me are all about trust.” So bad ass Ben encourages Jennifer to hop the fence with him, and join the 20 Bachelor crew members already on the other side of it, setting up the next challenge. As they approach their actual destination, Jennifer learned that she would be repelling down into a crater, and then releasing the safety harness in order to fall into a pool of water at the bottom. She didn’t appear to have any qualms about giving it a shot, and thank God because this created the perfect opportunity for Ben to rattle off some truly amazing relationship/crater metaphors. “Relationships are all about trust and diving into the unknown! It was important for her to get out of her comfort zone, to take the plunge!” How on earth will he ever evaluate a date that simply requires going out for drinks? “Her willingness to take that Jager Bomb, proved to me she is ready to take a shot at love!” Lord, help us. Their dinner was interrupted by a rainstorm, which would have been more romantic if they didn’t take cover in what appeared to be a public bathroom facility for the park. Ben gave Jennifer a rose, and then surprised her with a Clay Walker (who?) concert, playing just down the hill, exclusively for them. And a couple hundred local fans in cowboy hats.

Heading into the rose ceremony, three women had received roses, one woman had been eliminated, and everyone but Casey S. had made an enemy out of Courtney. The more Casey S. argued with Emily that Courtney is indeed a genuine person, the more I suspected that Casey S. was brought into this competition by the producers as a mole to encourage infighting. Emily reached a breaking point this episode and felt compelled to let Ben in on what was happening behind closed doors. And with that, Emily committed the cardinal sin of this show. If you want the man you’re courting to think you can keep your shit together and your crazy at bay, never, ever, trash talk another woman to him. Especially when that woman is on the short list of wife contenders. As soon as Emily leaned into “There’s something you don’t know about someone in the house” territory, Ben reminded her that if she continued to focus on this issue, and not their relationship, it would ruin any potential they have. He told her he didn’t expect her to throw anyone under the bus, and it would be best if she tried to rise above the issue. To which Emily basically screamed “Courtney! It’s Courtney! She’s the one you should hate!” *Facepalm*

The fighting that followed between Emily and Courtney was incredibly uncomfortable, and therefore I don’t wish to give it too much attention. All I can say is that I find it unbearable when adult women get into the middle of a senseless argument and one tries to rise above the chaos by screaming at the other, “You’re acting like you’re in fifth grade!” The hypocrisy makes my blood curdle.

During the rose ceremony, it was pretty clear that the producers requested Ben hand out the last rose to Emily, so all of us mopes at home would be on the edge of our seats wondering if she did in fact shoot herself in the foot and scale that bridge last week for nothing. Alas, it was Monica, our resident faux-lesbian, who was sent packing. It was a tearful goodbye, but I spotted a bearded man in the limo she climbed into, so hopefully he’ll keep her company. (They really need to work on their camera framing if they expect me to stay in the world of the show).

Ben toasted the ten remaining women and announced that next up on their tour was a trip to Puerto Rico! Sun! Beaches! Wearing sarongs to dinner! “I was there two months ago.” Ugh, Courtney. I’m going to count backwards from ten and let that one go.

Next week Ben and Courtney go skinny dipping! My prudish sensibilities are already distressed!

 

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Looks Like a Guy Who You Think is Called “Hermano” is Going To Get His Ass Kicked

Quickly! Before the night is over! Thanks For Asking would like to make a special birthday shout out to our younger brother, Sean. He turns 22 today! Can you believe it? It seems like just yesterday we were instructing him to sit outside the playroom door if he wanted to watch us play Barbies. No touching! Happy Birthday Brudder! We love you!

The family who wears shades together, drinks together in taverns later that night.

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With Pleasure: A Non-Review Review of The Artist

As confident as my sister and I were in our Golden Globes recap that the awards season would pass us by and neither of us would have attempted to see The Artist, I in fact bit the bullet last night and went with a friend to the 5:00 show. In making these plans on Friday, we agreed that our cultural efforts would require a post-show treat, so she scoped out a restaurant featuring an appetizer called “Bruschetta Three Ways.” She and I are what you might consider bruschetta connoisseurs, so when we read, “chickpea, black olive, and buffalo mozzarella” as just one of the featured toppings, it was an instant sell.  I had been out in the suburbs the night before, celebrating the homecoming of my friend Melissa who was in town from Portland. By the time I got back to the city on Sunday, my body was starting to feel the effects of going to bed in my contacts, tights, dress, and scarf (it was like sleeping in a papoose). Whether or not I could muster up the energy for an hour and forty minute long silent film, remained unknown. I texted my friend and asked her if she was still up for The Artist, to which she replied, “Yeah I’m excited to just be an adult but reward myself with bruschetta.” And with that, I thought, why the hell not?

For the past three years, I have seen every single Best Picture nominee in time for the broadcast. Before that (starting in the mid-2000s—I wasn’t eligible for R-rated movie going until 2003), I always made a conscious effort to see a majority of the nominees so I could then watch the show with some conviction. So to skip a film this year that is garnering the attention of critics across the country, and considered by many to be the front-runner for Best Picture heading into the Oscars, felt close minded and a tad immature. I was, admittedly, holding myself back due to the preconceived notion that silent films are for the birds.

Arriving at the theatre, I felt a small amount of anxiety come over me, as the room felt particularly stuffy, the way your apartment feels in the summer when you come back from a week long vacation and the air conditioning has been off the entire time. Pulling off my layers of winter wear, I felt like Carrie Bradshaw in that episode of Sex and the City when she has a panic attack while trying on ugly wedding dresses and breaks out in hives. “It was an experiment? It went awry?” I don’t mean to dramatize the situation—it was just a movie, I get it. No, my intention here is to establish an environment which, in my opinion, was not conducive to enduring a silent feature for the first time and therefore only served to intensify my initial apprehension. Did I mention that I’ve never seen a silent film before? Up until yesterday, my knowledge expanded no further than the image of Groucho Marx twirling a cane down a sidewalk. Did he ever even do that?

During the trailers, while I spent a good portion of time trying to sort out the plot for Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, I was also keenly aware that all of the rich dialogue I was listening to would soon be whittled down to occasional sentences appearing on black and white title cards. I was anxious for the movie to start. In my head I kept thinking I just need one more trailer and then I’ll be ready. I’m not really sure why. It wasn’t so much a fear of being too dense to follow along, but rather a fear of simply being bored. The reality of sitting in a stuffy theater for well over an hour, watching a film that I was pushing myself to enjoy in the first place was upon me, and I was starting to think we would have been better off at home watching Bridesmaids.

When the film began, and Ludovic Bource’s rich and vibrant score flooded the theater, the audience was instantly carried back to a time when a film’s soundtrack was as important as its storyline. But when the music halted, and the camera panned a giant movie house filled with enthusiastic moviegoers, the silence of their wild applause was deafening. It was as if, in those first few moments, the director felt inclined to remind his audience that what they’ve heard about the film is not a gimmick–they are indeed watching a silent film. I imagine director Michel Hazanavicius isn’t actually quite so pandering, but nevertheless, you could feel a tonal shift within the audience; a sense of required, increased commitment to what was already proving to be a very different cinematic experience.

I have no intention to review the film. I think that is better left to professional critics, like Chicago Tribune’s Michael Phillips who said of the film, “…and it’s no surprise Dujardin and his zillion-dollar smile fall so effortlessly into this setting. The surprise is that the actor brings such sound dramatic instincts to the later passages (which can get a little pokey)…” You know how I would have articulated the same sentiment? “Dujardin is a hottie and I hope he wins an Oscar, but at one point I was pretty close to falling asleep.”

I write this, not to evaluate the film and rank it against its competition, but to encourage those who have written it off as an art house snooze fest, to give it a chance. It’s an interesting story, told in a captivating way–a way that will take you by surprise. Honestly, I don’t say this from atop a pedestal. I was as resistant to the experience as the next person. My main motivation for going was a reward in the form of bread and olive oil-soaked tomatoes. I say this because the first time I laughed out loud, it occurred to me that there is nothing pretentious, or inaccessibly artistic about this movie. It is sincerely entertaining. You’ll be surprised when your heart races, when you worry, when you’re rooting for characters you thought were no more than caricatures upon introduction. And I know this is an element of the experience other critics have shared, but I truly can’t remember the last time the end credits came up in a film, and the audience applauded. It’s a strange reaction, but you feel compelled, as it concludes with a level of showmanship that deserves that kind of acknowledgement.

My only complaint was that I happened to attend the show with a woman who decided to make up for all the lack of dialogue, with her own. I’m talking full sentences. Like when the dog would appear on screen, “Ohhhhohoho, how cute!” Or when a conflict arose between the two lead actors, “Ohhh gosh no! Ohhohohoho NO!” Crystal clear, loud as can be. It was as if she wanted to assure herself that she was in fact finding the experience enjoyable, so she would audibly respond to the moving pictures as a way to prove to herself she understood what was happening. I had to keep telling myself not to let her ruin the film for me, the way the audience did when I saw Precious, and they all laughed and screamed “Yeah get her!” when the mother threw a frying pan at her daughter as she ran up the stairs in fear.

Last night, I would have been happy to leave the theater thinking, “Well, at least now we can say we saw it.” But to walk out and actually revel in the pleasure of the experience, that was a surprise.

The Oscar nominations will be announced tomorrow morning, and The Artist will certainly be among those films nominated for Best Picture. If you don’t see them all, see this one. Surprise yourself. It gives you an appreciation for the silent era you didn’t even realize you cared to have.

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Saturdays With Maggie

Hello friends. My apologies for going AWOL after my first week at Thanks for Asking. I had some major life events that took up a large and unexpected amount of time over the past two weeks. (No, not menopause!) This resulted in a particularly busy Saturday. Let’s talk about it.

On this morning, like any weekend, all I wanted to do was have my coffee, read the paper, and enjoy the tulips I bought earlier in the week. Did you guys know it is peak tulip season? Seriously, hie thee to your nearest flower distributer and get some! They’re such a cheap, easy pick-me-up during the winter doldrums.

(Side note: When I first put these in a vase they were kind of sad and droopy. I felt ashamed at my lack of floral design prowess, and once again contemplated taking a flower arranging class. But after I put them in a vase with water, they were standing straight up by the next morning! So if that’s the kind of thing you fret about, like I do, fear not.)

Sadly, I did not have time to enjoy this cozy tableau, because I was on a tight schedule and had to get to the supermarket. Which brought me to my first major challenge of the day:

I had brought the car back from my parents’ house last week, and not wanting to deal with stuff like this is one of the main reasons why I do not have a car in the city. (Another reason is because I do not own a car.) Between the fact that it is a tiny Jetta, and the tiny street I live on had not been plowed, it was a hilariously terrible idea for me to drive it to the store.

And really, I should have known better. The Jetta has a long history of underperforming during Chicago winters. My sister once parked it on an icy snow bank, only to return and find it utterly immovable. It was only thanks to her friend Lara observing that the city of Chicago did not want this car stuck on its streets one second longer, and pushing it off of the snow bank herself, that the car wasn’t stuck there until the ice melted. I once found myself in a similar situation with someone who got their car stuck on a snow bank, and I will just say that not everyone appreciates that kind of can-do attitude.

So after several attempts, and sliding into more than one parked car in the process, I was able to get out of my parking spot and on the road. I had to go to Dominick’s to pick up a bunch of goodies, since my roommate and I were having people over for cocktails that night before our friend’s engagement party.

In case you didn’t believe me, here’s proof that it is indeed peak tulip season. And how pretty are they!?

Also, here’s a marketing trend I’m ready to do away with:

Cheese is not a diet food. I love it dearly. I have cheese and crackers for dinner on more nights than I will publicly admit to. But just because you put a silhouette of a thin woman with a perky ponytail on your package, and stick the word “Skinny” in the product name, does not change the fact that you’re eating something with the same fat content as ice cream.

I picked up what I needed, as well as an impulse purchase of Cottage Style magazine, which I realized after the fact cost TEN DOLLARS! I have got to stop doing stuff like that. But I am such a sucker for the Shabby Chic look, and will buy any magazine that has a distressed wood product on the cover.

I need that couch!!

Back at home I cleaned my apartment and did laundry, two tasks that, despite being my absolute least favorite chores, always give me an outsized sense of accomplishment. Then I had to haul ass to the other side of Lincoln Park for a meeting, after which I stopped at Trader Joe’s for a few things I hadn’t been able to get at Dominick’s. Rather, I could have gotten them at Dominick’s, but they wouldn’t have been exactly what I was looking for. And my motto when it comes to shopping is why make one trip when you can make three. Seriously, no one will ever go shopping for anything with me, because I take forever and am such a pain in the arse about getting exactly the right thing. For example, I once spent forty minutes picking out a bath mat at Target.

After that I grabbed a Big Gulp from 7-11 and went to get a manicure. Of all the cheap and simple pleasures in the world, these are my favorite two.

The color is OPI’s “O’Hare and Nails Look Great,” which, what? That pun rolls of the tongue with as much ease as “Rainbow in the S-Kylie” from the Kardashian’s new Nicole by OPI polish line. But I must say, it is a perfect red. At least for anyone with Casper white skin. The rest of you can find your own nail polish colors.

Then I had to scamper home and get ready for a big night of engagement celebrating. Highlights of the evening included lots of singing, dancing and a baked brie. Lowlights included a Jaeger bomb. Hope you all had lovely weekends as well!

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Top Five Favorite Things About My Life (Surveying The Last 14 Hours)

Are you ever snacking on something, know you dropped a piece of it, but can’t find said piece for the life of you? And deep down you kind of know it’s somewhere in your shirt? That just happened to me. One time in high school, I was getting ready for bed and a Cheerio fell out of my shirt. You know when I was eating Cheerios? About 14 hours before that moment. This has nothing to do with my post.

I was scratching my head all day today thinking about what to write. I thought I could get into a rant about how terrible the lighting is in the first season of The West Wing, but I thought I might lose a few of you on that one. (It’s seriously really bad. I don’t know if they’re being too literal with their recreation of the White House or what, but even when they’re filming a scene that takes place during the day, the characters’ faces are completely cloaked in shadow. What the hell?) I was tempted to discuss this story coming out of the Chicago Sun-Times today, about outspoken Reverend Michael Pfleger denouncing The Bachelor for its degradation of women. Referencing this past week’s episode as an example, Rev. Pfleger said “They fell and purposely bent over just so the bachelor could see most of their private parts.” They did?! If that’s what’s going on, I need to stop picking at my pilled sweaters during the show and start paying attention! I could have even written a piece solely based on a conversation I had today with a friend who shamed me out of thinking metallic Sperry’s are a good idea.

But nothing was really striking a chord with me. Although, now would be as good a time as any to tell you that, at the moment, my Netflix Que is dedicated almost entirely to The West Wing. With the exception of some newly released Oscar hopefuls (i.e. Beginners), The West Wing is the only DVD I am interested in receiving. I spend most of my life being 3-4 years behind trends, so it makes sense that I am now exploring this hit show years after one of my babysitters first recommended it. Anyway, I settled on simply sharing some highlights from the day. Lighthearted anecdotes. Simple pleasures. Like a bowl of chicken soup, but for the soul. Maybe that’s what I should call it! I swear it won’t be like those uber-depressing poems about drunk driving. Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul, I’m talking to you.

1. I washed my hair.

I am someone who lives by the notion that hair is only meant to be washed every other day. Especially with my type and texture of hair, grease doesn’t even come into play until at least the 36th hour. So on days like today, when I did wash my hair, and went through the extra pain-in-my-ass steps of combing, blow-drying, and flat-ironing, it just means that tomorrow morning I get to gift myself with an extra 20 minutes of sleep. Also, I happened to style my now grown out side bangs really well this morning. It only lasted for the 30 seconds I was standing completely still in front of the bathroom mirror, but I did it! And it felt great.

2. I temporarily employed myself as a children’s agent. 

I was like Michael J. Fox in Life With Mikey, except I didn’t find an underprivileged rapscallion conning people on the streets to take under my wing and turn into a star. I might have tried if it wasn’t so cold outside. The agency I work for does not have a children’s department, but when opportunities do come up for the little ones, we offer the auditions to the children of our adult actors. So that’s how I spent the better half of my morning. Tracking down birthdates, shuffling through photos, and assuring parents that if their kid choked at the audition, we would absolutely never consider them again. No, I’m kidding, of course. Come on. If Michael J. Fox didn’t give Angie Vega a chance, she never would have grown up to guest star on USA’s Fairly Legal.

3. I ate this sandwich:

Photo courtesy of hannahsbretzel.com.

I have wanted to go to Hannah’s Bretzel for almost a year now. I can’t remember where I first read about their sandwiches, but all I had to hear was “pretzel baguette” to know that this restaurant was everything I could hope for in a lunchtime treat. This past December when I decided to do a little shopping on State Street after work, I was not  five blocks from my office, when I saw–right in front of me, in all it’s mango chutney glory–a brand new Hannah’s Bretzel. I was on the phone with my boyfriend at the time, who was probably telling me about an opportunity that was about to change his life, when I immediately interrupted to tell him my good news. Hannah! Bretzel! Only five blocks from my office! Unfortunately, I had placed myself on a strict no-buying-lunch-at-work plan during the holiday season for budgetary reasons. So it wasn’t until today, when my boyfriend offered to take me out to lunch, that I was able to experience what all the fuss [I had made up in my head] was about. The turkey was fresh, the baguette was better than your best pretzel roll, and the pepper aioli gave it just the right amount of kick to send you over the edge. Find one in your area, or venture out of your neighborhood if you have to. It’s well worth it, if you can stand the way they pat themselves on the back all over the restaurant for using only organic products.

4. I wore my new snow boots without getting any new blisters.

This one makes it seem like now I’m reaching to come up with anything that was remotely great about today. Like one of those people who answers the question, “How was your day?” with, “Well other than the migraine I woke up with and the cold dinner I came home to, it was GREAT! THANKS FOR ASKING!” *Door slam* I hope these people only exist in 1970s sitcoms. Anyway, for real, I got these great snow boots for Christmas that are as warm as they are cute. The first day I wore them, I happened to be wearing jeans with a slight flare, so I had to awkwardly tuck them into the boots. Well apparently walking in heavy snow boots with crumpled denim rubbing against my bare skin causes a terrible amount of friction that blistered my ankles in six different places. I could barely make it from the train to my office. I fretted over the confrontation of trying to return boots that had been worn outside. I cringed at the thought of putting them on again. Even worse, I liked them too much to give them up. I decided to let my feet heel and luckily, in the meantime, Chicago was experiencing the mildest winter in my memory, so I didn’t need them anyway. You can imagine my delight today when I put them back on, this time wearing soft and boot friendly leggings, and discovered I was able to walk around the city with nary a limp. The blisters heal, the boots stay, and I avoid a potentially hostile trip to the Customer Service Department at Bloomingdales. Win-win-win.

5. I got to spend the evening watching my two favorite shows on TV.

There are few shows on the air anymore that really make me laugh. I’m talking rewind, let me see that three more times, laughing so hard when I think about it the next day I laugh out loud again. In fact, there are only two. 30 Rock and Parks and Recreation. I can’t get enough. The fact that 30 Rock is now in syndication, just means an end to settling on a re-run of Tabatha’s Salon Takeover during the 6:00 television hour, before primetime starts. I am a freak about keeping the DVR cleared of old programming, and I will die if last week’s episode of Parks and Rec when Leslie hosted a campaign kick-off party on an ice rink ever gets deleted. And you know what? I lied. I haven’t watched them. Because I’ve been writing this, so you can understand my push to wrap things up here. I offer my apologies with a treat:

Leslie’s Grand Entrance

They weren’t the top five things that have ever happened to me and it wasn’t the best day of my life. But sometimes you have to give credit where credit is due, and today that was newfound responsibilities at work and comfortable shoes. What were your top 5? Picking up your favorite cereal after work to have tomorrow for breakfast? Finally having enough time to catch up with Dance Moms on your DVR? That’s a good day.

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Bachelor Recap: Book Smart Can Be A Little Boring

Last night’s episode of The Bachelor transported Ben and the girls to San Francisco; a trip that evoked a great deal of pretentious faux-familiarity from our contestants, as they all kept referring to the city as “San Fran.”  And if that was the least of their offenses last night, I may have been inclined to let it go and start off on a more positive note. But last night’s episode was one of the most abhorrent displays of adult female behavior I have ever witnessed. They were immature, catty, and downright cruel. The show has always been an amalgamation of insecurities, producing unreasonableness in women they haven’t experienced since they were five, but last night was beyond the pale. They were bullies. All of them. I hope this morning they woke up with a shame hangover. And then receive shaming voicemails and texts throughout the day from their family and friends. This is my personal effort. I hope it sends a Google alert to at least one of them.

But all of this that I am referring to came as sort of an Armageddon ending to the episode. The trip actually began at a lovely San Francisco café, where Ben met up with his sister, Julia, and gave her a quick run down of the 15 women still in the running to be engaged to him for 6-8 months. Ben told Julia about Jennifer, who, despite being an accountant, is actually a good kisser. Magic! He also mentioned Courtney the model who is (irritatingly) becoming his favorite. When Ben told his sister, “And then there’s Courtney. She’s a model and I think you guys would really get along.” Julia responded, “Really? Why?” Yes, exactly. Thank you Julia; give that Ben a wake-up call. If my brother ever brought home a model and told me we had a lot in common, my response would be, “Really? Is she also on her way to Portillos?” Julia is my new favorite for being such a straight shooter.  I look forward to her asking Courtney her favorite thing about Ben’s hair during the Flajnik home visit.

PhD student Emily was the recipient of this week’s first one-on-one date. The date card said, “Let’s get high together.” or something like that. I started making up my own card puns to keep myself engaged in the show. Emily was extremely nervous/excited (my favorite feeling combo on The Bachelor) for the special event: “This is my first time with him. What am I going to wear? Is he going to like me?!” If this is what she’s like now, imagine how high maintenance she was when she lost her virginity. Gahd. Emily met up with Ben where he announced with the energy equivalent of a limp handshake (Eye contact Ben! Eye contact!), that they would be scaling the Bay Bridge. Together! Emily is of course afraid of heights, which is probably the only reason she was selected for this particular date. “It’s so boring to watch people who are afraid of heights,” my roommate correctly pointed out last night. Like, we get it. You’re going to hyperventilate in your pink helmet, and then reach for a weak metaphor about how persevering on a bridge is like persevering in a relationship, and then we’ll get a helicopter shot of you from the top at sunset because it took you like, 7 hours to do it.  On the plus side, Emily earned herself the first pet name of the season. “Talk to me goose!” Oop, I take it back. That was actually just another minus. They did not include footage of the getting off the bridge process, but I imagine it went smoothly as Ben and Emily reunited for a quite dinner by the bay. Emily shared the humiliating story of signing up for an online dating service, and then getting matched with her older brother Peter. Is that not everyone’s worst nightmare? Accidentally running into someone from high school on those things is bad enough. They seem to have nice chemistry, and in what I felt to be a rare moment of authenticity, Ben tells Emily he likes her because she’s “quick” and “witty.” How refreshing. Emily gets a rose and fireworks start exploding in the night sky. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, Art Department.

Next up was the group date where Ben led a caravan of Honda CR-Vs through the streets of San Francisco. While Ben was showing the ladies one of his favorite CR-V features—the ability to cycle through pictures of the girls on his dashboard (huh?)—Monica yelled at Ben for stopping on a picture of Blakely. Monica! How quickly does your heart grow cold? She seemed to be satisfied with landing on a picture of Rachel, though, so there is still hope for more lesbian developments.They arrived at their destination: a hilly San Francisco neighborhood, where lowly production assistants had turned a street into a ski slope. The women took off their clothes, and chased shirtless Ben down the slope in bikinis and scarves, one of my favorite looks. After a fun montage of Nashville native Kacie B. falling on her tush a bunch, we moved on to one of those generic outdoor patios where they sit around and wait for Ben to start making out with someone so they have something to look at other than the platters of cheese and grapes.

Back at the hotel, Brittney receives the second one-on-one date, but her heart is doubting whether or not this is the right journey for her. Honey, that’s not your heart talking, that’s your sense of taste—and you are right for jumping ship after receiving that outrageously offensive Neil Lane heart-key necklace. Are there no women who work on this show?! Art Department! Seriously! Brittney crashes the patio party and tells Ben she is leaving the show. Both feign disappointment, and Ben tells her to say hi to her grandma for him. Brittney was grandma girl? How quickly we forget. Rachel receives the group date rose, which would indicate that Ben based his decision on the kiss that tasted the most desperate. (Don’t worry Kacie B., you were a close second. Trust me.)

With Brittney out of the picture, first impression rose recipient and horse enthusiast Lindzi happily accepted her sloppy seconds, and trotted off for the second one on one date with Ben. Ben took her on a rousing trolley tour of the city, ending at City Hall. City government is such an aphrodisiac. Ben unlocked the dark building and as they entered, the entire lobby lit up and a band positioned atop the staircase began serenading them. Lindzi later told the camera that she was super impressed with all of Ben’s connections to the city, and his ability to create such a special experience for her. Is there an eye roll big enough? Lindzi of course got a rose and they ended their date at a piano store in the most pitiful recreation of one of the most beautiful scenes from Once. I hate you, Bachelor.

At the pre-rose ceremony cocktail party, things started out fairly normal, with Emily attempting to diagnose Courtney’s social disorder. There was also a scene with accountant Jennifer working so hard to get Ben to kiss her, I felt like I was going to suffocate. In the meantime, Chris Harrison was fielding phone calls/status updates from our mystery contestant all day, building the anticipation of whether or not it would be Jennifer Love Hewitt to the point of madness. When the car finally pulled up to the hotel, and the car door opened, out came Shawntel, the funeral director from Brad Womack’s (second) season. I can’t say I was immediately thrilled—its kind of like going out on a blind date and then finding out the person is a vegan—but as she explained her position to Chris, it was pretty clear to me that she and Ben had spent time together in the past and she felt there was an honest connection worth pursuing. Good for her.

But then Shawntel entered the party and things quickly skidded out of control. Sure the presence of a new face is going to raise a few eyebrows, but to completely tear a woman apart, whom you have never met, simply because she tossed her hat into the same ring you’re playing in, is pathetic. Here is a list of some of last night’s utterances:

  • WHO IS SHE?!
  • I’ll be perfectly honest, I don’t like the bitch.
  • I think she’s uglier in person, which makes me feel better. She’s got thicker thighs than I have, which always makes me feel better.
  • You’re a creeper. And she drains people’s blood.
  • Get over your life. Move on. You fucking loser!
  • We don’t reuse Brad’s dumpster trash.
  • Tonight was hard for me. I saw you talking to what’s her butt.

I had to include that last one. That was Courtney explaining to Ben why she was reluctant to accept his rose. It was like Shakespeare.

What upset me the most was that while these women were spewing all of this hate, no one ever took a breath long enough to realize that they were making fun of Shawntel for doing exactly what they were doing. Thinking she could fall in love with someone based on watching him on a television show? Traveling across the country to meet him? Assuming there’s a connection after only a few conversations? Ladies! You are currently living in the glass house you are throwing stones at! It was such a transparent display of neurotic insecurity, I couldn’t bear the thought of Shawntel putting herself through another day of their misguided harassment.

Ben ended the cocktail party early (he really knows how to throw his weight around), and the women were shuffled outside for the rose ceremony. Shawntel stood tall with the rest of the women, waiting patiently for him to realize he would much rather wake up next to her than Elyse, who I swear I’ve seen on Style Network’s Jerseylicious. Just kidding. I’d never watch that show. Not everyone faired so well during the rose ceremony, as law student Erika became so overwhelmed that she fainted right before the final rose. For the record, she didn’t exactly faint; it was more like consciously sitting down while declaring “I’m fainting!” Now, it is important to keep in mind that we are watching a television show, and it probably takes 2-3 hours to tape the rose ceremony alone. So when Erika sat-fainted, it wasn’t because Shawntel’s mere presence had filled her with anxiety, as the other women would have you believe. It was because she had been standing in high heels, surrounded by soft lighting for hours.

After all the fainting hoo-ha was over, Ben returned to his post, made sure Erika was feeling ok, and then sent her packing. It was kind of brilliant. Also leaving the rose ceremony empty handed were Jaclyn, and, much to my chagrin, Shawntel. Ben felt it wouldn’t be fair at this point in the competition to have Shawntel join the other women, who had been there from the beginning. Or some such bullshit. I don’t know guys. I try not to invest too much into this sort of thing, but I think Ben made a mistake. Something tells me he and Shawntel really had something. They didn’t say it outright, but I’m sure those two met at some Bachelor mixer the producers organize biannually, and they took an instant shine to one another. I feel like in a month and a half I’ll be watching the After The Final Rose special, and Ben will announce he and Shawntel are getting married and she’s having his baby.  And Courtney will be there to flick off the camera as she storms off set. A girl can dream.

Next week they head out to Park City, Utah for more bikini skiing. You might want to wear two scarves this time, ladies.

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Golden Globes Recap: Have You Seen The Tourist Yet?

Last night Ricky Gervais hosted the 69th annual Golden Globe Awards, a show normally known as the most jovial booze fest of the season. But this year the anxiety in the room was palpable as the memory of Gervais’s scathing monologue from the year before tormented the audience. We reviewed said monologue for a quick comparison, and were disappointed to remember that THAT material got everyone’s panties in a twist. Charlie Sheen? Hugh Hefner? Tom Cruise might be gay? Come on people. But fortunately he was invited back and while there are many ways to broach the awkward subject of “Oh hey, remember last time?” luckily we were in the hands of a true comedic professional. As Ricky settled himself at the podium he opened, “Alright, where was I?” And that may have been his best joke of the night. It was smart, pointed, and playful. The rest of the monologue clearly went in a tamer direction, his hardest hitting jokes targeting celebrities who weren’t even there. Either way, if he’s the only person who will take Hollywood to task for their inanity and self-absorption, we’re happy to have him. And with that, on to the awards!

Best Motion Picture, Drama

Winner: The Descendants

With consideration to its placement as the final award, one would assume that the Best Motion Picture, Drama award is the most prestigious of the night; the big finale! But by the time that award was finally announced our mom had been asleep for an hour, Catherine had shifted her attention to a game of “Bubble Pop” on her phone, and it seemed like it was 2011 when Christopher Plummer won Best Supporting Actor for Beginners. The Descendants won, in a race that felt as anti-climactic as the Miss America pageant: You all look very nice, we’re sure you’re all…smart, but to try and pick a favorite seems like more trouble than it’s worth. Sorry Steven Speilberg, but I’m just not inspired by a two-minute trailer of a Newsie screaming “My horse! That’s my horse!”

Viewing Priority: It won Best Picture and Best Actor. Just go see it.

Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama 

Winner: George Clooney, The Descendants 

Once again, this wasn’t so much a race as it was the opening of an envelope and going “Oh, you won.” George Clooney beat out Brad Pitt, Clooney-directed Ryan Gosling, and Leonardo DiCaprio, who was nominated for wearing old age make-up. Clooney was excellent in this film. He has an ease about him on screen that translates seamlessly to director Alexander Payne’s style of storytelling. He was thoughtful and emotionally complex in a way that wasn’t over-the-top, but felt authentic to the character’s experience. It was a refreshing performance for the awards season, where you normally have to gain 30 pounds or portray a dead singer just to get nominated.

Viewing Priority: See above, but on a Clooney-specific note, there’s some long hair going on there that is worth checking out.

Best Actress in a Motion Picture Drama

Winner: Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady

Perhaps better known for her musical talents (See: Mama Mia!), Meryl Streep took home the top lady acting prize last night for her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady. Not having won a Golden Globe since 2010, it was nice to see Ms. Streep back on top. All jokes aside you guys, Meryl Streep is off the chain crazy. Only Meryl, in the middle of her acceptance speech, would utter under her breath her disappointment at leaving her reading glasses at the table, as if she had found herself at a restaurant, unable to read the ingredients listed under the chicken marsala. Not to mention the fact that she initially called Tilda Swinton “Gilda.” Her talent is beyond words, beyond description, beyond what is reasonably considered good acting, which is helpful since neither of us saw the film. She is a Hollywood living legend and if she won an Oscar every year for the next ten, it would feel as refreshing and well deserved as her first in 1980.

Viewing Priority: Next movie we plan on seeing in the theaters.

Best Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical

Winner: The Artist

In what came as a surprise to no one, The Artist took home the prize for Best Comedy or Musical. The whole gang got up on stage, including a dog, at which Catherine remarked “I sure hope he had a role in this movie.” Apparently he did, although the pup could just as easily have been someone’s pet, since there is no limit to the self-indulgent antics Hollywood will put up with at these things. The only disappointment felt was over the missed opportunity to have the entire cast of Bridesmaids up on stage together.

Viewing priority: We’ll keep saying we’re going to see it, but then the Oscars will be over and we won’t feel bad about missing it.

Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical

Winner: Jean Dujardin, The Artist

Looking like Don Draper’s sexy French twin (which is a Mad Men plot development Maggie can really get behind), Dujardin hopped up on stage to accept his award. Speeches by non-English speakers are always a crap shoot. You never know if you’re going to get Roberto Benigni-level exuberance, or the somber director for A Separation, who listed all of the members of his family before declining to thank them. Dujardin fell somewhere in the middle, with a rather dull prepared speech made more adorable by his French accent (as French accents are wont to do). Sadly, he missed an easy opportunity to reach the Javier Bardem apex of sexiness by delivering some or all of the speech in his native tongue.

Viewing Priority: See above, although likelihood of viewing decreased due to the fact that Dujardin doesn’t actually speak during the film.

Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical

Winner: Michelle Williams, My Week With Marilyn

Seth Rogen said it best when announcing the nominees: “Michelle Williams, in the hysterical comedy My Week With Marilyn...” It often feels as if the Hollywood Foreign Press Association decides who they want to give awards to, and then sticks them in any category they could conceivably qualify for. (See: Golden Globes 2010, when Meryl Streep was nominated for It’s Complicated AND Julie and Julia. Really, HFPA, I don’t think Meryl would have minded if you skipped her that one time). Williams came up and gave a sweet, pursed-lip acceptance speech befitting the bewildered ingenue persona she seems to have taken on, during which she talked about her daughter a lot, and so all we could think about is how much we miss Heath Ledger.

Viewing Priority: We’d watch this on a plane. After The Help, but before Albert Nobbs.

Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture

Winner: Christopher Plummer, Beginners

There are two characteristics that we always look for among the list of nominees: old and British. Christopher Plummer, be still our hearts. He is a glaring reminder that while we offer our affection to the likes of Seth Rogen, who came out last night with Kate Beckinsale and announced, “Hello I’m Seth Rogen, and I’m currently trying to conceal a massive erection” or Madonna, who simultaneously thanked the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and promoted her new album, there is a sliver of class left in Hollywood. Or rather, in the British imports who still tolerate Hollywood. In accepting his win for Best Supporting actor, Plummer said “I must praise my distinguished competitors for whom I have the greatest admiration, and to whom I apologize profusely.” *Swoon*

Viewing Priority: High. We’re always looking for more insight into the coming out experience of the elderly.

Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture

Winner: Octavia Spencer, The Help

Awards ceremonies love to give the “Best Supporting” awards to newcomers playing underdogs. Or Marissa Tomei. But since Tomei’s performance as a sexy reporter in Ides of March went unnominated, Octavia Spencer’s portrayal of a maid in 1960’s Mississippi easily took the win.

Viewing Priority: Would watch this on a girls weekend when it’s really hard to find something everyone can agree on.

Best Director, Motion Picture

Winner: Martin Scorcese, Hugo

Martin Scorcese winning Best Director for an animated children’s film is like Pixar’s boy genius Andrew Stanton directing the Raging Bull remake. It’s not a pairing that comes naturally. But good for Martin. We appreciate any film artist taking a risk and stepping outside his genre. And it looked like a beautiful movie. Were the Golden Globes producers to make any scheduling adjustments, however, I would have suggested scheduling Martin’s win after Peter Dinklage’s to cut time on mic adjustments. Short joke!

Viewing Priority: Something Catherine would enthusiastically watch while babysitting. Otherwise, pass.

Best Screenplay, Motion Picture

Winner: Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris

Midnight in Paris, a movie Maggie found underdeveloped and generally silly (a magic car that transports you back in time? Ugh), took home the prize. Honestly, if Aaron Sorkin’s not nominated, we don’t really care. And apparently neither did Woody who, it seemed, could not even be bothered to let anyone know he wasn’t coming.

Viewing Priority: Seen it. Once was enough

Best Original Song, Motion Picture

Winner: “Masterpiece” by Madonna, W.E.

Madonna won two awards last night; one for best original song and one for the worst acceptance speech of the entire evening. Not only did she shamelessly plug her upcoming album, as previously mentioned, but she touted herself as a serious director who was so enraptured with her film that she barely gave this now award winning song a second thought. The saving grace of this monstrosity was in the midst of her making some poorly crafted joke about Ricky Gervais taking her virginity, Ricky, like a vaudevillian pro, bolted across the stage behind her in fear. Thank you Ricky. Now make fun of Angelina more!

Viewing Priority: Never. Ever. Even that song sounded terrible.

Best Television Series, Drama

Winner: Homeland

This series, about a marine sergeant returning home from Iraq and the CIA officer who suspects him of plotting an attack on America, seems to be loved by everyone. Although we have not watched it, this seems like a serious win for a serious show in a serious category. No jokes here.

Viewing Priority: Top of the Netflix queue

Best Actor, Television Drama Series

Winner: Kelsey Grammer, Boss

Kelsey’s turn as Chicago mayor Tom Kane is a far cry from his sitcom days and it was a pleasant surprise to see the actor awarded for his dramatic talents. Filmed almost entirely in Chicago (or perhaps entirely–we just don’t feel like fact checking), Boss is a show we instantly love, despite never seeing a full episode, for its support of Chicago actors and awesome theme song. But now how do we incorporate a “We watched your marriage fall apart on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and now you’re pledging your future to a 29 year old” joke?

Viewing Priority: Neck and neck with Homeland at the top of the Netflix queue. Tie goes to the show with a lead actor who has not destroyed a marriage. Oh wait…

Best Actress in a Television Series, Drama

Winner: Claire Danes, Homeland

Again, we’ve heard nothing but rave reviews for Danes’ performance. Her only real competition was Julianna Margulies, and since the Globes have a tough enough time convincing people that the “Television” portion of the show is not a replay of Emmys telecast they watched four months earlier, it makes sense that they would want to pick someone new. Side challenge: Quick, without using Google, tell us how old you think Madeline Stowe is:

Girlfriend is 53 years young! She was the love interest in Last of the Mohicans, and that movie is ancient! We had no idea who she was, and when the camera cut to her, seriously thought it was some random, dewy faced 25 year old actress. Wow.

Viewing Priority: Top of the Netflix queue. Plus maybe a couple episodes of Revenge, just to see what everyone is talking about.

Best Television Series, Comedy or Musical

Winner: Modern Family

This must be how ambivalent 30 Rock viewers felt during that show’s winning streak. It’s not that we don’t like Modern Family, we do! It’s funny! It’s just not our favorite. So to see it doing so well in the awards circuit is a bit of a non-story for us. If we were to jump on a soap box about anything related to this category, it would be the amazing-turned-atrocious Glee getting a nomination over Parks and Recreation. Also, the Sofia Vergara/doofy white men lost in translation bit is starting to wear thin.

Viewing Priority: The perfect time to catch up with MF on your DVR is during television limbo; when a show you love has just ended, and you have 30 minutes before your next show starts.

Best Actor in a Television Series, Comedy or Musical

Winner: Matt Leblanc, Episodes

Normally actors playing themselves on television are reserved for poorly written guest star roles on Entourage. But Matt Leblanc broke the mold last night, winning a Golden Globe for playing himself in a lead role. The look on his face when his name was announced tells us he also knew he didn’t deserve it. This would be a good time to refer back to our notes from the red carpet pre-show and mention that Natalie Morales, journalist savant that she is, asked Matt if he is at all like his character Joey from Friends. Apparently Natalie used the same time traveling techniques from Midnight in Paris and made her way back to 1995.

Viewing Priority: Catherine has already caught 6 episodes, and is fairly confident she has experienced everything the show has to offer.

Best Actress in a Television Series, Comedy or Musical

Winner: Laura Dern, Enlightened

Another show we have yet to see. But we really hope Laura Dern is killing it, because she beat our four favorite women currently acting in comedies [Ed. note: Catherine would like to swap Edie Falco for Zooey Deschanel, but there is a standing disagreement at TFA about how funny Nurse Jackie is.]

Viewing Priority: In the Netflix queue, but after Homeland

Best Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television

Winner: Downton Abbey

Downton! Seriously. This epic miniseries about an aristocratic family residing in a sprawling manor, and the servants that keep the house and the family running, is so good. It has everything a good Masterpiece Classic must: Inter-class romances; large, well-dressed hunting parties; a homely, meddling middle daughter. We only wish Dame Maggie Smith had been there to accept the award, in character as the Dowager Countess, because you know she would have had something tart to say.

Viewing Priority: Maggie watches Downton live, an honor reserved for no other show in her current viewing lineup.

Best Actor in a Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television

Winner: Idris Elba, Luther

We’re not exactly familiar with Idris’s competition in this category (with the exception of Maggie who follows Downton Abbey), but we think it’s safe to assume that the right man won. At least the best looking one did! Hey-oh! Seriously, he is such a man. Throw in that Souf London accent and he hits smoke show status.

Viewing Priority: Low. But it does serve to remind us that we really need to start watching The Wire.

Best Actress in a Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television

Winner: Kate Winslet, Mildred Pierce

The Golden Globes is like the Olivia Palermo of awards shows. What it lacks in actual pedigree it tries to make up for by sucking up to A Listers. Which is the only explanation for why Angelina Jolie’s directorial debut In the Land of Blood and Honey was nominated for anything other than “Biggest Exercise in Vanity.” The same can be said for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s love affair with Kate Winslet, who has been nominated for 8 Golden Globes. Ever since 2009 when they gerrymandered the race so that she could win best actress for Revolutionary Road, as well as Best Supporting Actress for her LEADING ROLE in The Reader, it seemed as though the HFPA would go to any length just to ensure the big wigs will show up. Likewise, this year she was nominated for the already-forgotten Mildred Pierce as well as the just-barely-released Carnage. As our mother said when she came up on stage, “I’m so tired of her.” We all are, Marth.

Viewing priority: This falls under the Temple Grandin category of “Mini-series we will not watch, no matter how many awards they win.”

Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television

Winner: Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones

We are, on the whole, a sci-fi/fantasy-averse family. In arguing its merits and watchability, people often describe Game of Thrones as a soapy drama, with aspects of a soft core porn, set in the mythical land of Westeros. We can’t say this makes us any more inclined to watch it. Neither does Peter Dinklage’s put-off attitude every time he accepts an award. Smile, cranky pants! You just won a Golden Globe!

Viewing priority: Unless Catherine’s boyfriend makes her watch it, probably never

Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television 

Winner: Jessica Lange, American Horror Story

We love any category that pits Masterpiece Theatre against Sofia Vergara riding a bicycle into a tree. This category is a perfect example of why one awards show can’t (and shouldn’t) handle both film and television. By the time you get to the third tier awards, you’re just throwing shit together and hoping it all runs under 180 minutes. Jessica Lange won for her portrayal of Constance London a…scary…person? Don’t follow it. But hey, Jessica, if you want to know how long the excitement of being on a Ryan Murphy first season hit lasts, just head over to the Glee table and talk to Chris Colfer. Remember when he won last year? Yikes.

Viewing Priority: Zero. The show itself sounds like Are You Afraid of the Dark? with weird Murphyesque sexual twists.

Looking ahead to the Academy Awards, we can guarantee two things: Meryl Streep will win her third Oscar, and we still won’t have seen The Artist. We will dutifully watch, but it’s clear that the 2012 Awards Season will be remembered as the year we didn’t care about anything.

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