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Button Pushing

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I’ve always had a phenomenal amount of respect for dancers.  The dedication and work that must go into being able to move like that (where “like that” equates to just about any form of dancing) just blows my mind — both the “moving like that” part and the “working that hard at one thing” part.  I have absolutely no conception of what it must be like to have that much control over one’s body, to move with that kind of fluid grace and precision and easy motion; I’m 6’2″, but my brain never seems to have gotten used to my size, so half the time I tend to flail around like a one-winged chicken — even when I’m just walking, or worse, standing still.

And all of that talk about respect and admiration doesn’t even get into the fact that dancers are just damn hot and push several of my buttons. 

So on the advice of a friend, the family and I watched the season premiere of So You Think You Can Dance?, which is exactly American Idol for dancers.  The main reason we watched was because I wanted the girls to see it, as said recommending friend told me it really promoted positvity, hard work and teamwork, all qualities I try to instill in the kids — and they also really enjoy dancing and dancers.  Watching Kelsey dance her way through Mary Poppins every time they watch it is a site to behold.  (And it is here that I should note that we did not mean her middle name, Grace, to be quite as ironic as it has become.)

These first few shows of the season, as on Idol, are the audition rounds, where the judges go to a bunch of different cities and weed through all of the wannabes to find those dancers with actual potential to go far in the competition.  So, of course, there were a few laughers in there (though not as many as you tend to get on Idol).  But most of the dancers whose auditions they showed on the program — even the ones who didn’t make it through to the next round — were amazing.  I’ll admit I have far, far from a trained eye for this sort of thing, but wow was I impressed with most of the auditions.  And some were phenomenal enough even to blow away the judges — many of these people were clearly born to dance, people whose talents and passions lined up perfectly to allow them to create moments of pure beauty.

That, my friends, is sexy.  And inspiring, and wonderful, and beautiful.  Seeing someone do something — anything — that so truly seems to come from deep inside them, something that means so much to their very essences as a person, something they’ve obviously worked at so hard and for so long, something that they just couldn’t not dothat pushes my buttons.  It doesn’t matter what that thing is, as long as it comes from a place of love and skill and passion and determination and talent and creativity.

Wrapping it in spandex is just a bonus.

(This is my 400th post on this blog across several sites and names.  I have no idea how 400 posts happened…I keep going through the archives and finding posts I have no memory of writing.  Anyway, happy fourth birthday/400th post, blog!)

Written by Allen

May 25th, 2009 at 9:31 pm

Snape of Deadwood

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Ben: so far, i’m doing a pretty good job of not picturing the actors when i read the books [the Harry Potter books, which Ben has only recently begun reading]

Allen: That’s difficult. It’s commendable you’re holding out. :)

Ben: alan rickman is tough to displace

Ben: though if i try really hard to forget he’s involved, then in my head snape looks an awful lot like doc cochran :-)

Allen: Now THAT would’ve been some casting.

Allen: Damn them and their British bias!

Allen: So does Snape sound like Doc Cochran when you read? “Harry F!%ing Potter, you co%&!@&er, who the f&!k do you think you are?”

Ben: lol

Ben: great, now i have an image of him mixing up anti-crotchrot potions for all the school whores

Written by Allen

July 30th, 2007 at 5:44 pm

Posted in Books,Pop Culture,TV

Emmy Noms ‘07: Still Graham-Less After All These Years

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Believe or not, I don’t have a whole lot to say about this year’s Emmy nominations, which were announced this morning. Unlike last year, I didn’t get to watch them live, and I hadn’t prepped a blog post full of questions I wanted answers, so this year’s “analysis” is a bit off the cuff. That said, I did have a few tibdits I wanted to mention:

  • I’m disappointed but utterly unsurprised to note that Lauren Graham managed to finish her exquisite tour of duty on Gilmore Girls 0-for-7 in Best Actress in a Comedy nominations. I’m going on record right now as predicting that she’ll get a nomination for her first season in whichever show she ends up anchoring in the 2008-09 season, assuming that show’s on one of the major networks. Please, Lauren, stay far, far away from The CW in the future, OK?
  • Almost making up for Graham-lessness of this morning’s announcements was the nomination of The Office‘s Jenna Fischer as Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy. Since I’d already given up hope of Graham getting any Emmy recognition, Fischer had become my she damn well better be nominated cause for this year. Her work as Pam Beesly alternated between endearing and heartbreaking, and she makes Pam into The Most Normal Person on TV (and I completely mean that as a compliment she’s probably my favorite character on network TV right now).
  • Also happy-making was the nomination of Masi Oka for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama for playing Hiro Nakamura on Heroes. I’d have liked to have seen a couple of other nominations for the cast (especially for Jack Coleman), but I’ll take Oka’s nom Hiro was far and away the most entertaining character on the show and Oka the breakout star, so bully for him.
  • The Best Drama nod for Heroes excited me, too Heroes was the only show I watched every episode of last year. After a slow start, it had reached can’t-miss status by the end of the season, and I’m already salivating for next year. Before two years ago, I’d have said that Heroes had no chance to pick up the award and that the nomination would have to suffice, but then Lost won for its rookie season it and shattered that belief. I’d think it had a better chance to win, though, if this weren’t the last chance for voters to give The Sopranos the Best Drama award.
  • Can someone please tell me how Two and a Half Men could get four acting nominations (Charlie Sheen, Jon Cryer, Conchata Ferrell and Holland Taylor)? I know Ferrell and Taylor are both well-respected actresses, but I’m still having a hard time with this many acting nominations for this pedestrian a show. This fact more than any other from this year reinforces the notion that the nomination process rewards only the shows which are most-watched rather than those of highest quality.
  • At the other end of the popular-versus-good spectrum, I was shocked to see Friday Night Lights not pick up any major nominations. After all of the critical praise heaped on that show all year long, I’d thought it would have gotten something, probably at least a nomination for Connie Britton. I’m glad NBC wasn’t waiting to see how well the show performed at the Emmys before deciding whether to renew it.
  • I was not so shocked to see Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip shut out of the major categories, even if I thought a couple of the actors deserved some consideration, Matthew Perry especially. (Perry did pick up a nomination for Best Actor in a Miniseries or Movie, at least.)
  • Last year, said I: “…including one for the always-excellent Alec Baldwin — I’m going to say right now I expect him to get a nod next year for his role on the upcoming comedy series 30 Rock.” And I was right, though last year I was expecting it for Supporting Actor rather than Lead Actor, but Lead Actor it was. Yay me.
  • Miscellaneous other acting nominations which filled me with minor or major glee: Ricky Gervais, Extras; Neil Patrick Harris, How I Met Your Mother; Minnie Driver, The Riches; Jamie Pressly, My Name Is Earl; Terry O’Quinn, Lost; Rainn Wilson, The Office.

Wow, lookit that turns out I had a lot to say after all!

Written by Allen

July 19th, 2007 at 2:20 pm

Posted in Pop Culture,TV

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Fillion Fandom

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When the first TV ads aired for the new science fiction/western hybrid Firefly in the late summer of ’02, the “from the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer” hype FOX was laying on so thickly had zero effect on me.  At that point, the name “Joss Whedon” meant nothing to me — I’d never seen any Buffy (except the wretched movie). I wouldn’t become a disciple of The Way of Whedon for over another year.

No, what struck me was this:  “Hey, cool, Nathan Fillion’s on a new show!  Maybe I’ll have to check that out.”  (Though I didn’t, of course, until after Firefly had been canceled and released on DVD.) See, I’m now in my fourteenth year of Fillion Fandom™.  All you people who first discovered him as the roguish-yet-lovable Captain Mal Reynolds?  Pshaw.  Newbies, latecoming bandwagon jumpers, the lot of you.

Way back in the summer of 1994, I wasn’t taking any college classes and my 25-hour-a-week job at a record store mainly took up my nighttime hours, so during most days I was pretty free.  And with my afternoons unencumbered by anything resembling productive activity, what I did was watch soap operas — specifically, All My Children, One Life to Live and Days of Our Lives. [1]

Fillion as OLTL's Joey BuchanonOne of One Life To Live‘s main good guys during that summer was Joey Buchanon, played by, you guessed it, Nathan Fillion.  Joey was more in the romantic hero soap character mold than action hero or anti-hero, but heroic he was nonetheless. Most of the appeal of the character — to me, anyway — was from Fillion himself, who had an undeniable air of goodness about him. His Joey was very earnest and likable, even if I never could understand why he was so hung up on skanky Kelly, who was so full of bad news she might as well have been wearing a “Chico’s Bail Bonds” jersey.

Fillion might not have been the highlight of my soap-watching stint that summer — my mild man-crush on him was far eclipsed by the gripping lust I felt for Maria and Julia, the Santos sisters, who spent the summer bludgeoning me with their exquisite hotness on All My Children. But he left enough of a positive vibe on me that I noted every time he appeared in my pop culture field of vision over the next few years. I took it as a sign that his career was going somewhere when he played Not The Ryan You’re Looking For in Saving Private Ryan; I thought his career must be taking a step back when he signed on to the occassionally-amusing-but-not-particularly-noteworthy sitcom Two Guys And A Girl And At One Time There Was A Pizza Place But We Dropped It After The Second Season.

Have you ever noticed how some actors seem to exhibit certain characteristics so naturally and so frequently that you just assume that person’s like that in real life? (Well, OK… I do, anyway.) That’s how Nathan Fillion’s always seemed to me in regards to that aforementioned fundamental goodness most of his characters exude. Much of what made Mal Reynolds such a compelling figure was the contrast Fillion’s natural (or natural-seeming) good-guy-ness brought to him: for all of Mal’s law-breaking and Fed-shooting and doctor-yelling, there’s never any doubt that he’s a good man who’s fallen on hard times, a hero in a less-than-heroic situation.

Yes, I’m aware that Fillion’s an actor and if he’s any good at his job at all — and I believe he is — then there doesn’t have to be any connection whatsoever between the parts he plays and the man himself. But there’s undeniably something of a strength, morality and dignity underneath most of the characters he plays [2], and whether that quality has any basis in the man behind the characters or not, it makes him an appealing presence on screen.

I’m still hoping that quality someday makes him a huge star.

(Funnily/sadly enough, between the time I started writing this post Monday night and the time I finished it Wednesday night, Fillion’s newest show, Drive, was canceled by FOX… after three episodes. Nathan, if you are going to be a Big Huge Star at some point soon, I don’t think it’s going to be any thanks to the bastards at FOX.)

[1] I’ll talk more about my history with soaps some other time, but I firmly believe that watching Days with my mom when I was little probably helped foster in me the love for serialized storytelling I’ve still got today.

[2] The most notable exception to this tendency was his arc as the evil preacher Caleb in Season 6 of Buffy; there was no underlying streak of good to be found in that character, and because of it I think having Fillion, who’d just been de-Firefly-ed, play the part struck something of a wrong chord.

Written by Allen

April 26th, 2007 at 10:00 am

Posted in Pop Culture,TV

Edward Norton To Get Green

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Edward Norton has been cast as Bruce Banner in The Incredible Hulk, the quasi-sequel to 2003′s near-disastrous Hulk. (I say quasi-sequel in that I believe they’ll be skipping over all of the origin hoo-hah and such, acknowledging that we’ve already seen those bits without referencing the first movie at all.) Norton’s actually an excellent choice to play Banner — Banner’s supposed to be a world-class scientific intellect, and Norton, one of my favorite actors, is one of the best of his generation at playing smart. [1] Plus, scared and/or angry and/or conflicted Banner? Norton will be all over that.

The Incredible Hulk will be directed by Louis Leterrier, director of the Transporter movies, so we know we’ll be getting far more of Angry Action Hulk than Angsty Emo Hulk, which suits me just fine. As much as I respect Ang Lee and what he wanted to do with Hulk, it just didn’t work well. Knowing that the next movie will have Edward Norton and much more in the way of “Hulk smash?” Oh yeah, I’m there.

Unfortunately, this new configuration means I’m doubting we’ll get any Jennifer Connelly in the next movie, and that saddens me, but it’s a tradeoff I can live with.

[1] Jessica Alba as a genetic engineer in Fantastic Four? Not so much. Now if they’d cast Leelee Sobieski… her I could’ve bought as a big-brain scientist.

Written by Allen

April 16th, 2007 at 3:10 pm