Archive for August, 2009

Commercial: A cute spot for a cute pup

As if I didn’t already feel an overwhelming urge to get a cute little pup, this commercial only makes things worse. Plus, it’s pretty funny.

August 31st, 2009

Ukraine’s Got Talent: We’re more than just gymnasts

Via Friend of the Faux John, here’s the winner of Ukraine’s Got Talent — a 24-year-old named Kseniya Simonova. As you’ll see, Kseniya does what is essentially performance art by drawing with sand on an overhead projector.

This is actually really incredible and does what I think this series should always strive for — to make you think “I’ll never be as good at anything as she is with this.”

2 comments August 27th, 2009

Giveaway: The Free Stuff Job

We have a winner! Many thanks to everyone who entered our TNT-sponsored giveaway of the first season of Leverage, plus a Dark Blue poster signed by the mouthwatering cast. We asked you to tell us what the last thing you stole was, and to our sadness, none of you said “an election,” “the Mona Lisa,” or “Taylor Kitsch’s pants.” Bad readers. Try harder next time.

Hardison is busy stealing ONE HUNDRED BEEEELLION DOLLARS.

Hardison is busy stealing ONE HUNDRED BEEEELLION DOLLARS.

But several of you did send us some appealing tales of theft. Here are a few of my favorites:

“The last thing I stole was a glance at the very cute guy who likes to go running in my neighborhood. mmmm… tasty.” Get it, Faith.

“The last time I stole something I was 7 years old, and was at my 9-year-old cousin’s house coveting her sparkly tiara. I stole it and took it home with me, and when she came over to my house a few months later, I forgot and wore it in front of her. Oops.” Oh, amateur.

And I particularly liked university instructor Eric (if you are a professor, sir, I apologize), who inadvertently swiped a whole stack of lovely books from his department. “The next day, I realized that the books weren’t free—someone was just in the midst of moving offices. I still haven’t figured out how to discreetly return them.” Points for proper use of “discreetly,” Eric.

But our winner is Dhawal Parekh of Maple Grove, Minnesota, who has a produce-loving son and a casual relationship with The Law.

The last thing I stole was a tomato.

Let me explain. I have a two-and-a-half-year-old son. He loves to eat his vegetables, which is bizarre, but I am not complaining. One day while shopping for groceries with him in tow, we came across a heap of nice red beefsteak tomatoes. And he just had to have them right there and then. So I took one when no one was looking and gave it to him and he finished it off completely.

I did not pay for it and my son enjoyed the tomato.

This is how and why I stole the tomato.

We hope your son also enjoys the quips and heists on Leverage, and grows up to be a thoroughly law-abiding, fruit-and-vegetable-eating citizen.

August 26th, 2009

Adventures in Noshing: What Would Brian Boitano Make?

You guys know how I love the Food Network, right? I do. I love it. My weekend rituals involve bagels, coffee, Jamie Oliver, and Nigella Lawson. And now, something else: this wonderful new show, What Would Brian Boitano Make?, in which Olympic figure skating gold medalist Brian Boitano cooks food and is adorable.

That's not juice. It's Brian Orser's tears.

That's not juice. It's Brian Orser's tears.

So I think the Food Network has been on a bit of a downward slope recently, as I haven’t enjoyed their newest crops of chefs, including Aida Mollenkamp, the Neelys, and the various Next Food Network Star winners. I’m also not a fan of Food Network Challenge, in which people attempt to make architecture out of cake. I’m more of a classicist, myself. I like the trinity: Mario, Bobby, Rachael. But if What Would Brian Boitano Make?, or WWBBM, as I’m going to call it from now on, is indicative of the network’s new direction, I whole-heartedly embrace it.

WWBBM is a pretty straightforward cooking show, at least as far as I can tell from the first episode, which aired Sunday. You will be pleased to learn that the theme song is of course the one Trey Parker and Matt Stone wrote for South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut, which is one of the things that makes BB so awesome. When Trey and Matt write a song about you, or put you on their show, it is best to react with good humor and feel rightly flattered (see also: George Clooney). And Brian is an engaging host with an easy rapport in front of the camera. Unlike Anne Burrell, whose show I like, but who is not the most natural person on-camera, Brian seems perfectly at ease talking to the camera and acting quite ridiculous. He has this splendidly sinister laugh, and I also like that the kitchen he uses does not seem to be designed for TV, and isn’t all Top Chef with the Sub Zeros and gleaming six-burner ranges. It looks like a fairly normal, although large, home kitchen.

So the first episode featured Brian cooking a spread of noshes in order to get his friend Tony laid. No, really. It was funny, with the snide little references to The Bachelor. I don’t know what they have in store for future episodes, but here’s what I’d like to see: guest star Johnny Weir. I mean, I know Johnny doesn’t eat, but how awesome would it be? They could drink sparkly cocktails and talk smack about that bitch Evan Lysacek. Michelle Kwan could come! There would be voodoo dolls of Tara Lipinski and Jeffrey Buttle. It would be the greatest cooking show EVER. Food Network, make this happen.

1 comment August 24th, 2009

TVBC: True Blood, Mad Men, DeGrassi: The Next Generation

bluecoalition.jpgThis week, Jace had an exclusive interview with True Blood‘s Anna Camp, in which they discuss Sarah Newlin, Camp’s original audition (for the role of Sookie, no less!), the love triangle between Sarah, Jason, and Steve, Sarah’s darker side, Camp’s theatre work (opposite Daniel Radcliffe in Equus), whether the Newlins are gone for good, Mad Men, and lots more.. (Televisionary)

It may be summer vacation, but TiFaux was back in high school this week with three separate posts about the new DeGrassi: The Next Generation. For one, Marisa provided a “Where Are They Now?” for some of the more notable DeGrassi alumni. (TiFaux)

Taking a page from the CW’s controversial ad campaign for THE BEAUTIFUL LIFE comes our gift to SMALLVILLE fans (The TV Addict)

TV Fanatic doesn’t care if FlashForward is a rip-off of Lost. Each preview looks better than the one before. [TV Fanatic]

Buzz is thrilled to see some new pics from the upcoming season of How I Met Your Mother! (BuzzSugar)

This week, Sandie took at first look at Wil Wheaton guest starring in Leverage‘s new episode “The Two Live Crew.” (Daemon’s TV)

GMMR has been sucked into summer reality shows in a big way this week. Big Brother has been crazy, America’s Best Dance Crew has been hot, and now we get new episodes of Project Runway – a blessing or a curse? (Give Me My Remote)

Who knew Veronica Mars and Ned the Piemaker were an item? Well, that is only in the When in Rome trailer which also features Gob Bluth. Despite being a romantic comedy, color Scooter excited. (Scooter McGavin’s 9th Green)

It’s not TV related but Vance loved the new production of A Streetcar Named Desire at the Donmar Warehouse in London starring Rachel Weisz. (Tapeworthy)

August 24th, 2009

Fruity Friday: Diamond Rings do a glam bait-and-switch with ‘All Yr Songs’

Imagine your traditional indie rock singer. Stringy, too-long hair. A white Hanes t-shirt or Western-style outfit. The beginnings of an ill-considered beard. A lean build with perhaps the hint of a belly (because, if you haven’t heard, that’s how Brooklynites are rebelling against President Obama).

Basically, think of the dude from The Album Leaf (although his beard is quite lovely).

This is what you may picture when you listen to Diamond Rings’ track “All Yr Songs” — a sunny bit of lo-fi pop whose electronic handclaps have left me merrily bobbing my head all day. It’s clearly a loving work of bedroomy dance music, created with an inexpensive, motley array of instruments and a sung with a deadpan rasp.

But Diamond Rings pulls a bait-and-switch when it comes to image. Instead of the scruffy indie dude you may have pictured, we’re presented with a porcelain-faced Canadian — brushed with dramatic eye make-up and dressed in the finest clothes 1984’s Sears catalog has to offer. It’s Ziggy Stardust meets Kelly Kapowski. And the video itself is no less wacky — a playful and ridiculous collection of campy theatrics inspired in equal parts by Boy George and In Living Color.

I just wanted to prepare you for what lies ahead, so you can enjoy it on its own merits when you listen. And then maybe you can try to figure out what’s going on with the styling situation.

Here’s the clip:

If you’re interested in learning more, here’s an article about him. Fun fact: he’s assisted in his solo project by the drummer for one of my current favorite groups — Ohbijou.

2 comments August 21st, 2009

Whatever It Takes

To conclude Degrassi week, here are two definitive lists of the best and worst the Degrassiverse has to offer.

The Five Best Characters on Degrassi: The Next Generation

 

ellie1. Ellie. At its best, you can watch characters on Degrassi grow and change the way real kids do throughout middle school, high school, and college. Granted, sometimes Degrassi puts them through changes at a whiplash-inducing pace, but sometimes it’s more gradual. Look at Ellie, who started out as sort of a baby goth. We eventually found out about her mom’s alcoholism and her own self-mutilation issues; she dabbled in music and art, and eventually turned to serious journalism in college. She’s also unlucky in love in classic Degrassi fashion: let’s see, she liked Marco before he came out to everyone (seemingly one at a time); she lived with Sean for awhile before he returned to his parents; she liked Jimmy and turned him on to art, but he didn’t feel the same way; she liked Craig, so many times, always at the wrong moment, like when he was really into Manny and/or cocaine. She even fooled around with Marco after he came out to everyone! Girl cannot catch a break. Which sort of makes sense; how many kids meet their soulmate when they’re sixteen? You can always count on an Ellie plotline to fall more on the serious, smart end of the Degrassi ludicrousness spectrum. And I’m not just saying this because she’d be the one I’d have a crush on if I went to Degrassi.

This is just how I roll. Into fences in the woods.

This is just how I roll. Into fences in the woods.

 

2. Craig. Craig was probably Degrassi’s one shot at a male heartthrob; the other candidates rock that unfortunate combination of troubled and brooding yet Canadian that renders their sex appeal a little muddled (or so I would imagine). But Craig’s got the soulful-troubled-nerd thing going on, which better fits the Canadian teen show profile. Did you see the ones where Craig confronted his bipolar disorder by trashing a hotel and beating the living shit out of his stepfather? That. Was. Intense. Did you see the one where he tells Manny “it’s not the locker I don’t like… it’s you.” Even. Better. Also, no matter how hard the poor bastard tries, no matter what kind of English he’d like to put into it or sophisticated funk or plaintive singer-songwriter angst he’d like to spin on it, his music still sounds like Jason Mraz.

3. Manny. Manny represents Degrassi’s soapier side, as she’s swung through many of the show’s soapiest operas: she was the other woman who came between Craig and Ashley; she had Craig’s abortion (now who’s worse than a locker, Craig? Huh?!); she is somehow, in the show’s universe, on her way to international superstardom entirely from an only slightly unwholesome friendship with Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes. The Emma-Manny relationship has been a backbone of the series from the earliest days, and unlike fellow founding young’ns JT and Toby, no one in that friendship was stabbed to death.  Manny gets the spot over Emma because she whines less, and because that abortion episode went there so hard that The N didn’t air it in the U.S. for like a year. Also, she’s like ice cream, but, like, hot.

Manny: sometimes available with bangs.

Manny: sometimes available with bangs.

4. Spinner. One of the most fun things about a Degrassi marathon is tracking the horribleness of Spinner’s hair on a scale ranging from somewhat horrible to unspeakably horrible.

This is probably about an 8 on the Spinner horrible-hair-o-meter.

This is probably about an 8 on the Spinner horrible-hair-o-meter.

Spinner began as a young man of primitive tastes (favorite film franchise: the Clown Academy series!) and now stands tall and proud as, uh, the manager of a greasy-spoon eatery that is, by most estimates, no more than fifteen feet from the high school he barely graduated from. And a part-time drummer. But like an unkillable strain of part-time-drumming bacteria, Spinner survives, and his resilience has become weirdly heroic. Give him ball cancer, shoot him in the shoulder, call him “honeybee,” whatevs: Spinner flourishes, by which I mean, gets absolutely no better at drumming. Also, no mention of Spinner is complete without a link to Boycott the Caf, the only Spinner-loving Degrassi fansite you’ll ever need.

Holly J. Sinclair; not pictured ever: Heather Sinclair.

Holly J. Sinclair; not pictured ever: Heather Sinclair.

 

 

5. Holly J. One of the most awesome things about Holly J. Sinclair is her genesis: for the first bunch of seasons of Degrassi: TNG, there was a running gag about the unseen Heather Sinclair, usually mentioned by Paige (“I saw better dancing at Heather Sinclair’s grade three sock hop”) and implied to be sort of like Paige, but even meaner. Heather Sinclair is sort of the Tino of this show, though because the show has lasted far longer than My So-Called Life, they’ve had more pointed references to Heather’s almost Keyser Soze-like existence. To wit, this “Degrassi Mini” from a few years back:

Anyway, Holly J. Sinclair was introduced as Heather’s younger sister, and equally popular slash mean. At first she mainly just bossed around her underlings, but over the past few seasons she’s had the most interesting story arc of the new kids: getting exiled for her nasty behavior, losing status when her family became poor, and now working at the Dot under the tutelage of one Mr. Spinner Mason. She’s somehow become one of the show’s most likable characters, sort of like Paige but less of a mess.

Don’t forget the worst!

Click to continue reading “Whatever It Takes”

4 comments August 21st, 2009

Life After Degrassi

Degrassi week continues with a look at what some of the show’s alums are up to. With Degrassi Goes Hollywood tying up the loose ends for some of the older characters, it’s time for those actors to step out of the way so we can see their plotlines recycled through the new cast. (I can’t wait to see who the next teen mom will be!) For those who are departing, I recommend emulating these four people—the ones with the most successful post-Degrassi careers.

DrakeAubrey Graham. You can call him Drake. Or Drizzy, if you can pull that off. Driz graduated from playing Jimmy on Degrassi to being a bona fide hip-hop star under the tutelage of Lil Wayne. (Awww, and I remember when he went to his first Kid Elrick concert.) This year, Drake has had a heatseeking single, a VMA nomination, and a rumor that he made out with Rihanna. Score! And even with all the success of “Best I Ever Had,” I still half-expect to see him in a wheelchair.

CollinsLauren Collins. Despite Jesse’s mean comparisons to Miss Piggy (Collins: “Who? Moi?”), Collins is one of the few Degrassi cast members to make the leap to real, in-the-theaters movies—with actual lines. Sure, I didn’t see Take the Lead and I thought Charlie Bartlett was kind of a mess, but it’s so not her fault, hon. Between features, she’s done other TV shows (Life with Derek and The Best Years, two series I assume are not exported south of the border), so she might be the hardest working Degrassi in showbusiness.

GrimesShanae Grimes. No longer content to be Degrassi’s Darcy, homegirl catapulted herself from one high school to another, albeit one in swankier zip code: 90210. I’m told this show is still on the air, so props to you, Grimes. IMDb also tells me she was in an episode of Dead Like Me. I know there are some TiFaux readers out there who will be excited by that. For me, I’m more excited that they managed to name-drop her in Degrassi Goes Hollywood (the wannabe starlet says that something is just like Shanae Grimes, or something similar). Gone, but not forgotten!

NinaNina Dobrev. Dobrev, who plays Mia, was cast in the upcoming CW joint the Vampire Diaries. The only reason this is considered a good career move so far is that fact that most people haven’t seen the Vampire Diaries. I suspect when they do—through no fault of her own—she’ll fall off the list, dragging Boone from Lost with her. Then again, it’s got the word “vampire” right there in the title, so maybe it’ll be a runaway success.

Some other post-Degrassi tidbits:

Art imitates life: Christina Schmidt, who played Terri on the show, actually went on to become a plus-size model for Torrid. Similarly, just as the character of Ellie is defined mostly by being passed over (by Marco, Sean, Craig, etc.), actress Stacey Farber came close to getting, then lost the title role of Juno. (Daniel Clark, aka Sean, made it in, but he didn’t have lines.)

After graduating from The N/Teen Nick, the next logical place to go is…Lifetime? Look for a number of Degrassi albums in their cheesy movies-of-the-week. One particularly juicy installment, called Devil’s Diary, about an ancient book that grants evil wishes, starred Miriam McDonald (Emma), Deanna Casaluce (Alex), and Alexz Johnson from Instant Star.

Besides Drake, two other Degrassi stars have put out albums: Cassie Steele (Manny) and Andrea Lewis (Hazel). As far as I can tell, neither album came out in the United States.

There are no cast members from the original Degrassi series on the first list because I couldn’t find anybody who’d gone on to do anything great. (I swear that I read somewhere that one of the actors started working at a pizza place after Degrassi.) It seems that the most plum post-Degrassi gig…is Degrassi: The Next Generation, something Pat Mastroianni (Joey), Amanda Stepto (Spike), Stacie Mistysyn (Caitlin), and others were able to come back and do as adults. (Girl who played Liberty, take notes. Your character had a baby, too. You can be the next Spike!) Stefan Brogren (Snake) has them all beat, because he actually directed an episode—a cool one, too, a “what-if” episode about zombies. Sure, it was shorter than a half-hour, but it was a pretty good Romero knock-off.

10 comments August 20th, 2009

Top Chef Masters: Chiarello, thou art a villain

topchefI really had no hopes for Top Chef: Masters. As with most competitive reality shows, for me, the human drama always takes center stage over whatever the actual competition is. That is, while Project Runway is allegedly about dresses or whatever, I’m really only interested in allegations of cheating and bitchy in-fighting.

So, when I found out that this show would essentially be a showdown between established chefs who wouldn’t be living/fighting together (just competing in a tournament of high caliber cooks), I can’t say I was counting the days to the premiere. To a certain extent, I’ve been proven wrong as the show is consistently entertaining, albeit not as addictive as the original. A slightly more grown up version of its predecessor, Top Chef: Masters really emphasizes the food, and it’s actually pretty interesting to hear about the chef’s careers and why they are so obsessed with food.

This week’s episode featured the final four contestants utilizing the help of former Top Chef contestants to create a buffet for 200. The chefs had to interview the potential staffers and select who would assist them playground-style.

During the course of the episode, Michael Chiarello emerged as a surprise villain — evolving from humble TV chef to sneering egomaniac.

At the beginning of the series, Chiarello oozed insecurity — clearly uncomfortable being surrounded by “real” restaurant chefs while he remained best known for hosting a show on Food Network. It was sort of painful to watch him desperately vie for the approval of the other chefs, but at least he seemed to really focus on creating a great product and want to prove that he deserved his spot in the competition. But after winning his first competition, he moved from trying to be respected to trying to be liked — out-nicing all the other chefs with effusive compliments and copious smiles.

Now, in this most recent episode, not only did he get into a dust-up with former contestant Dale (the Asian one, not the gay one) and badger the contestants by asking them how to pronounce his last name — but he generally treated the incoming staff in a bossy and unfriendly manner. Before you say it, I know — chefs are supposed to be larger-than-life, ego-driven lunatics. But I don’t like to think that treating people badly is acceptable as an industry standard (especially when the other chefs didn’t seem to find it all that hard to treat their staff as peers).

I was a bit disappointed at the elimination of Anita Lo last week. Anita wasn’t exactly a firecracker of personality, but I liked the fact that she clearly had little interest in being on television — it made her seem more authentic. In fact, she sort of seemed embarassed to be on the show at all (while Rick Bayless and Hubert Keller are taking it in good spirit and enjoying themselves).

At this point, I’m rooting for Hubert because he is adorable and French. He is my French grandfather who makes me fresh croissants and delights me with tales of the old country by the fire.

August 19th, 2009

Canada Meets Hollywood

I’m afraid I have to call myself out a bit. I’ve sorted my lack of Tifaux posts since the end of the SNL season under the heading “there’s nothing on this summer especially for someone who doesn’t watch Mad Men.” But that’s not entirely true. While I ran out of Pushing Daisies leftovers in June and haven’t been watching those last three Terminator installments idling on my DVR, I have been watching fresh episodes of one of my very favorite shows: Degrassi: The Next Generation. Degrassi airs on a pretty normal fall-to-spring schedule in its native Canada, but when it’s imported to the U.S. via cable channel The N (soon to be rebranded as Teen Nick), they break it up into smaller runs of eight or ten episodes at a time. This summer’s batch rounded out the show’s eighth season, and then chased it with what The N promoted as a full-length Degrassi movie, albeit of a made-for-TV stock: Degrassi Goes Hollywood (it’s unclear to me whether this aired as a full movie in Canada or a four-part episode).

 

WOOO, the number thingies mean we're in a movie!

WOOO, the number thingies mean we're in a movie!

It’s difficult for me to process the enjoyment I got out of Degrassi Goes Hollywood, which expands the show’s usual mix of improbability and surprisingly hard-hitting drama (or, in the various parlances of the N’s promo department, going there, getting real, or reaching an intensity level of one hundred percent). The current Degrassi: The Next Generation is actually more like Degrassi: Deep Space Nine, since most of the familiar Next Gen characters have moved on; the show occasionally follows selected earlier cast members in college or, in Spinner’s case, right down the street from high school, but for the most part, turnover has been achieved. Goes Hollywood mostly serves as a check-up on those older characters we haven’t seen in awhile; it turns out that Paige, for example, is working as the assistant of a reality star in Los Angeles. When she lucks into a leading role in a movie written and directed by friend-of-Degrassi Jason Mewes, fellow alums Ellie and Marco pay a visit. Ellie has her own, go therier story about her ducking some familial responsibilities out of fear (via more flirting with her old buddy Craig); Marco doesn’t have much to do because he’s already had like six coming-out episodes and, frankly, doesn’t do a whole lot else.

There are also a bunch of celebrity cameos. Kevin Smith pops up several times, while Mewes has a bona fide supporting role (and one of the most delightful leaps of logic taken by the show is the idea that a major studio would be desperate to finance an autobiographical Jason Mewes musical — called “Mewesical High,” natch). Pete Wentz and Perez Hilton also appear, forming an efficient conglomerate of people whose faces make me want to punch them. Also, Pete Wentz is an awful, awful actor. It may seem silly to say that after a three-line cameo, but I’ve seen better acting from athletes on SNL.

Click to continue reading “Canada Meets Hollywood”

2 comments August 18th, 2009

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