Monday, August 31, 2009

US Open: Opening Day!

Today is the opening day of the US Open and I will be among the thousands to descend on the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center to see some amazing tennis. Should be a fantastic day!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

US Open: Men's Preview

Four-time defending champion Roger Federer is the obvious frontrunner. He will seek to add to his already record tally of 15 Grand Slam titles. He has made 21 consecutive Grand Slam semifinals and the draw before him makes it likely that he will extend this amazing streak. He has an intriguing match with former US Open champion Lleyton Hewitt in the third round. Federer will then face Robin Soderling, Nikolay Davydenko, or more likely 2009 US Open Series winner, Sam Querrey, in the quarterfinals.

Fourth seed Novak Djokovic has had a very uneven year and he's been sort of pushed to the tennis sidelines by bigger stories this year. As a former finalist, however, he knows how to go deep in New York. He may have to get through a tricky first round with Ivan Ljubicic and fourth round with Radek Stepanek and then may get severely tested by fifth seed Andy Roddick in the quarterfinals. Roddick has defeated Djokovic the last three times they've met and with the New York crowd squarely behind him, he will actually be favored in their match-up. Other names lurking in Djokovic's quarter are Fernando Verdasco and Tommy Haas.

On the bottom half of the draw, Australian Open champion Rafael Nadal is seeded third for the first time in nearly four years. He had his best showing last year reaching the semifinals and if he wins this tournament, he will complete the career Grand Slam. It won't be a cakewalk though. He will immediately get tested in the first round by a rustier Richard Gasquet trying to make a comeback himself. If he gets past the Frenchman, he may face David Ferrer or Gael Monfils in the fourth round. Possible opponents in the quarterfinals include Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Tomas Berdych, and Fernando Gonzalez. How will playing best-of-5 affect Nadal's knees?

Finally, 2008 US Open finalist and newly world no. 2 Andy Murray will try to get his first slam. He has been the best hardcourt player this season winning a few Master Series titles including the Rogers Cup a few weeks ago. He has come up short, however, in the three previous slams this year, but this tournament will be played in his favored surface. He has a tough draw going up against a quality player in Ernest Gulbis in the first round and then most likely Ivo Karlovic in the third round. After that it just doesn't get any easier with Stan Wawrinka or Marin Cilic awaiting him in the fourth round and then most likely in-form 6th seed Juan Martin Del Potro in the quarterfinals. Other names of note in this quarter are retiring players Marat Safin and Fabrice Santoro, but with top opponents ahead in the early rounds their swan songs will probably be quite short.

Roger Federer d. Andy Roddick
Juan Martin Del Potro d. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

Roger Federer d. Juan Martin Del Potro

US Open: Women's Preview

Defending champion and world no. 2 Serena Williams will try to defend her title and get her 12th Grand Slam win in New York. Despite her rocky results in non-Grand Slam events this year, she somehow finds a way to bring a little something extra during Grand Slam. Having said that, on paper, her path to the semifinals doesn't look too intimidating. She might have to face Sybille Bammer in the third round, Sam Stosur in the fourth round, and then a resurgent Flavia Pennetta in the quarterfinals.

Serena is in the same side as her bigger sister and 2-time US Open champion Venus Williams. It's shocking that Venus hasn't had more recent success at the US Open and this year she may not go as deep as she wanted. Why? Because looming as a possible fourth round opponent is 2005 US Open champion Kim Clijsters who is coming back from retirement and has already beaten a couple of Top 20 players in the past few weeks. Clijsters first test will be a second round match with 14th seed Marion Bartoli, but if she gets through with that, I can see her going deep.

On the top half of the draw, world no. 1 Dinara Safina will yet again try to get her maiden slam coming so very close this year reaching the finals at the Australian and French Opens and semifinals at Wimbledon. For her she should go deep if she plays confidently. Possible roadblocks for her would be Patty Schnyder or Shuai Peng in the fourth round and then either Ana Ivanovic or Jelena Jankovic in the quarterfinals. The favorite among the Serbian would be Jankovic who reached the finals at the US Open last year and did quite well at the US Open Series this summer.

Like Safina, 2009 US Open Series winner Elena Dementieva is looking to get her first Grand Slam. Even though she hasn't reached any slam finals this year, she has had many memorable tangles with Serena and has been strong this summer on hardcourts. She has a tricky quarter with a dangerous third round match-up with 2006 US Open champion Maria Sharapova. If she gets through that then she might have to fight off yet another US Open champion in the quarterfinals with 2004 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova.

Elena Dementieva d. Jelena Jankovic
Serena Williams d. Kim Clijsters

Elena Dementieva d. Serena Williams

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Kris Allen Announces Album Date

Season eight American Idol champion Kris Allen announced two days ago on his twitter account the date his album will be released:

Suffice it to say, I am already counting down the days. It's probably my most anticipated Idol album since Kelly Clarkson won all those years ago.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Reality Show Rundown

Design Star

With Nathan's departure last week my joy of watching this show diminished just a bit which probably explains my later-than-usual review of the episode. In any case, the remaining five contestants had to decorate a kids' room though the show's definition of "kid" includes two 17-year-olds.

Even though I don't like her, I thought Lonni was the only one who stepped up in this challenge and delivered a baseball-themed room that was very well-executed. Not only that, but she delivered in her presentation! The judges loved her, but they also loved Antonio who probably had the enviable (or is it unenviable) task of working with a 5-year-old client. He delivered, but I thought he could've done more. The judges thought his large sticky poster of the kid was ingenious. I thought it was borderline CREEPY.

The other three contestants floundered in various ways. Dan's room had clashing colors and his presentation was full of giggles (which I actually found adorable). Torie's design was Jekyll and Hyde. One side looked like a mini-artist's studio while the other side looked like a fabric store threw up on the wall. Finally Jason, who was eliminated, was tasked to create a room fit for a princess and one would think this would've been the perfect fit. Sadly apart from a sparkly chandelier and his smart decision to use black to temper all of the pink, he failed everywhere else. Bye bye Jason.

Hey, I miss Nathan. Sigh.

Project Runway

This week's episode revolved around the designers designing a dress for a very pregnant Rebecca Romijn. Shockingly enough no one really bombed the challenge.

I only say that because I didn't particular hate any one dress. Even the bottom three designs by Malvin, Mitchell, and Ra'mon weren't SO bad. In fact I actually thought Malvin's dress was the better one out of the three. His design was athletic, urban, and dare I say chic. On the other hand, Ra'mon's dress hurt my eyes and Mitchell was the closest contestant to me who churned out a hot mess. He should've gone rather than Malvin.

Weirdly enough the judges picked my favorite dress as the winner of the challenge. It was designed by Shirin and the color of the dress as well as the jacket she designed were to die to for. My two other favorite designs were by Johnny and Irina. The whole look of Johnny's dress was quite fetching even though I thought it could've been less skintight while the color of Irina's dress and its flowiness really won me over, but it could've been just a wee bit longer.

I still don't have anyone I'm passionately rooting for. I guess Logan, Christopher, Shirin, and Qristyl. But after only two episodes and two very straightforward challenges, I still need to see more.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

US Open: Setting the Draws

Earlier today the draws were held live on ESPN News for the first time. On hand were the two defending champions, Roger Federer and Serena WIlliams, both looking pretty damn good. And why shouldn't they? Both of them have won 3 of the 4 Grand Slams and no matter what you think of them both, they have both been a dominant force in their respective tours this decade.

It's going to take me awhile to go through the draws and make my predictions, but already there's some interesting developments. Some of the top guys have very tricky first round matches: Nadal/Gasquet, Murray/Gulbis, Djokovic/Ljubicic. Retiring Santoro gets Ferrero in the first round while retiring Safin can get Del Potro in the second. What's more important is that Nadal, seeded 3rd for the first time in years, is in the opposite side of the draw as Federer. Nadal is on one side of the draw with Murray and Del Potro while Federer is on the other with Roddick and Djokovic. Click here for the Men's Draw.

The Williams sisters are on the same side along with Kim Clijsters. The other side is a bit more loaded with Safina, Jankovic, Dementieva, Sharapova, and Kuznetsova. Click here for the Women's Draw.

More extensive draw analysis this weekend.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Storylines at the US Open

The last Grand Slam of the decade will begin in five days. All of the top tennis players in the world will descend upon New York City for the US Open. But before that begins, I just wanted to go over a few possible storylines to look out for.

- Can anyone beat Roger Federer? He has won this tournament for last five years including last year when he was having a sort of slump, not winning any major tournaments during the year. This year he is coming into the tournament as the heavy favorite, winning the last two Grand Slam tournaments and recently defeating his archrivals Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray in Cincinnati, the last major hardcourt tournament before the US Open. Looking good!

- Which slamless player will make his or her breakthrough? There are lots to choose from in the men's and women's game. With the men, the obvious choice would be world no. 2 Andy Murray. He has the best record on hardcourts this year winning a couple of Master Series titles and he came within a match last year to almost winning this tournament. Other potential first-time winners could be Juan Martin Del Potro who had a strong showing this summer or even Jo-Wilfried Tsonga who defeated Federer in Montreal. For the women look at top ranked Dinara Safina, Olympic gold medalist Elena Dementieva, and US Open finalist Jelena Jankovic to make a strong run in order to get their maiden Slam.

- Will Rafael Nadal's knees hold up and can he win the US Open to complete a Career Grand Slam? After being out for ten weeks to recuperate from tendinitis, he came back to play at Montreal and Cincinnati making the quarterfinals and semifinals respectively losing to Del Potro and Djokovic. On the one hand, that's pretty damn good results. On the other hand, he's still not 100% most evident from the trashing he got from Djokovic at Cincinnati. Now Nadal historically doesn't do too well in New York, but he did reach the semifinals this year. Crazier things have happened this year that's for sure.

- Other than Federer and Serena Williams, which previous US Open champions can get their mojos back and reclaim this title? 2003 US Open champion Andy Roddick was this close to defeating Federer and 2-time US Open champion Venus Williams lost to her sister at the Wimbledon championships. Both are very motivated to win this year. Other previous US Open champions include a resurgent Lleyton Hewitt, a recuperating Maria Sharapova, 2009 French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, a soon-to-be-retired Marat Safin, and a back-from-retirement Kim Clijsters. And speaking of the latter, Clijsters has been out of the game for almost two years and recently came back a few weeks ago beating a handful of top 20 players. Depending on the draw (she got a wildcard), I can easily see her reaching the quartefinals.

These are just a handful of storylines ahead. I'm sure there will be more created during the next two weeks. I can't wait!

Looking Forward To...

...Fall TV Edition

Every Wednesday I've been posting posters of upcoming movies I'm excited to see. Taking a break from that this week to bring you the new shows debuting this fall I'm most looking forward to.

Note the lack of anything that takes place in a hospital, a court room, or a police station. Seriously Hollywood, there are other settings. Thanks.

Glee (FOX)
Premieres: Wednesday, Sept. 9 @ 9PM
Starring: Jenna Ushkowitz, Dianna Agron, Jessalyn Gilsig, Jane Lynch, Mark Salling, Chris Colfer and Amber Riley, Kevin McHale, Lea Michele, Matthew Morrison, Jayma Mays and Cory Monteith

Modern Family (ABC)
Premieres: Wednesday, Sept. 23 @ 9PM
Starring: Ed O'Neill, Rico Rodriguez, Sofia Vergara, Nolan Gould, Julie Bowen, Ariel Winter, Ty Burrell, Sarah Hyland, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, and Eric Stonestreet

FlashForward (ABC)
Premieres: Thursday, Sept. 24 @ 8PM
Starring: Jack Davenport, Peyton List, Sonya Walger, Zachary Knighton, Joseph Fiennes, John Cho, Courtney B. Vance, Brian O'Byrne, and Christine Woods

Community (NBC)
Premieres: Thursday, Sept. 17 @ 9:30PM
Starring: Yvette Nicole Brown, Danny Pudi, Gillian Jacobs, Joel McHale, Alison Brie, Chevy Chase, and Donald Glover

Which new shows are you looking forward to this fall?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

My 25 Favorite Actors

Nathaniel over at Film Experience Blog has listed his 25 Favorite Actors. He then asked his readers to come up with their own list, so I took him up on it.

Coming up with the list was relatively simple, but looking up pictures was a bit more difficult. But here they all are graced on magazine covers for your enjoyment. Below are 25 of my favorite film actors. It's a mostly modern list with a lot of younger actors, but hey this is my personal list isn't it?

Note: Ordered alphabetically.

Christian Bale * Eric Bana * Jamie Bell * Gael Garcia Bernal * Orlando Bloom * Don Cheadle * Matt Damon * Daniel Day-Lewis * Johnny Depp * Leonardo DiCaprio * Robert Downey, Jr. * Colin Farrell * Ralph Fiennes * James Franco * Joseph Gordon-Levitt * Ryan Gosling * Hugh Jackman * Heath Ledger * James Marsden * James McAvoy * Ewan McGregor * Paul Newman * Edward Norton * Sean Penn * Brad Pitt

What does your list look like?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Top Ten Performers of 2009 (So Far)

With the summer days winding down, I find myself reflecting on the year so far in movies. Looking at my screening list* so far, certain performances still linger. Before we get to the glut of the fall/Oscar movie season, I just wanted to highlight ten performers who left me wanting more.

1. Meryl Streep as Julia Child (Julie & Julia) - Was there anyone else who could've played Julia Child and done so with such a joie de vivre that the role demanded other than Meryl Streep. I don't think so. No knock on Amy Adams, but Meryl as Julia was a cinematic filet mignon cooked in butter i.e. delicious.

2. Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Tom Hansen (500 Days of Summer) - As someone who should already be a household name, Joseph Gordon-Levitt delivered yet another wonderful performance as a guy in love and then in turmoil over that love. In the film, he sings, he dances, he mopes, he laughs, and eventually he makes you fall in love with him.

3. Sharlto Copley as Wikus Van De Merwe (District 9) - This was the first time I've seen Sharlto Copley in anything, but his singular performance as Wikus definitely caught my attention. His character's transformation is such an integral part of the movie and Copley was able to let the audience in as he changed.

4. Tilda Swinton as Julia (Julia) - Tilda Swinton is just such a fascinating actor to watch, but she really went to a whole new level playing the alcoholic Julia. Swinton really got under the skin of this not-at-all sympathetic character to deliver one of the rawest performance I've seen this year.

5. Sam Worthington as Marcus Wright (Terminator Salvation) - I am probably one of the few people that wasn't disappointed with this film, but I still agree with most people declaring Sam Worthington's performance the best part of the movie. He instilled a certain kind of heart to his character that most action stars in their big blockbuster type of films usually lack.

6. Jackie Earle Haley as Walter Kovacs/Rorschach (Watchmen) - While I think the movie itself was way too laborious and in parts just a bit painful, Jackie Earle Haley as the deadly Rorschach was a joy to watch both because of his demented sense of justice and because he seemed to be the only one having fun in this film.

7 & 8. Zachary Quinto as Spock and Chris Pine as James T. Kirk (Star Trek) - In actuality, I'm just a wee bit in love with the whole cast of this film, but the lead performances of these two actors really lifted the whole film. Quinto seemed as if he was born to play Spock while Pine brought a rugged sexiness that seemed impossible to achieve. Plus their chemistry together was electric and making me wholly impatient for the next film.

9 & 10. Rachel Weisz as Penelope Stamp & Rinko Kikuchi as Bang Bang (The Brothers Bloom) - Not that the titular brothers played by Mark Ruffalo and Adrien Brody were bad, but the ladies really stole the movie for me. One talks a lot while the other doesn't speak at all and yet both of them were overflowing with wit and charm that felt just right at home in this quirky movie.

Honorable Mentions: The kids of Half Blood Prince especially Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy, Clive Owen and Julia Roberts in Duplicity, and finally Robert Downey, Jr. in The Soloist.

*I've only seen 23 films (theatrically released in 2009) this year so there are undoubtedly magnificent performances that I am missing.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Top 4 Dominate Cincy Field

The dream semifinals are set in Cincinnati as the top four players are still alive and set to fight for that finals berth. Just last week in Toronto, the top eight players all made it to the quarterfinals, a first at any tournament during the Open Era. Last time the top four players met each other in the semifinals was last year at Monte Carlo.

Two-time Cincinnati champion and world no. 1 Roger Federer will face defending champion and new world no. 2 Andy Murray in the first semifinals. Murray leads their H2H 6-2 winning the last four times they have met. Federer last beat Murray at last year's US Open finals. Murray has been the in-form player of the year especially on hard courts. The last five North American hardcourt tournaments he played, he has reached the finals or better. Murray won last week's tournament in Toronto while Federer was booted in the quarterfinals. I predict three sets with Murray as the victor.

The second semifinal will be fought between a resurging world no. 3 Rafael Nadal and world no. 4 former finalist Novak Djokovic. Nadal leads their H2H 14-4 winning the last five times (four times on clay). However, the last time Djokovic defeated Nadal was in this very tournament last year at the exact same place. While Djokovic has the second most match wins this year, he hasn't capitalized on the big tournaments with the bulk of those going to Federer, Murray, and Nadal. Nadal in the meantime has been using these past two weeks to get match tough after being away from tour for 10 weeks. It will be a test for both of them when they play under the lights. My prediction will be Nadal in three sets.

This will be the last tournament the top four players will participate in before the US Open which begins Monday August 31st. Roger Federer is the 5-time (!!!) defending champion. He has defeated Djokovic and Murray in the finals the past two years. Nadal reached the semifinals last year for the first time losing to Murray.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Project Runway: Lifetime Premiere

Project Runway is back and it's in a different network! Not only that, they've also decided to move from the hustle and bustle of NYC to the sunnier star-filled Los Angeles. It's no wonder that the designer's first challenge was to come up with a red carpet look that showed innovation as well as their style.

The designers are as follows as well as my initial thoughts I had for them (if they made any impression on me at all that is):

[x] Althea Harper
[x] Ari Fish - I knew from the very beginning that she would probably be the first one to go if she really went crazy in this challenge. And she did and so she's gone.
[x] Carol Hannah Whitfield - She's quite bubbly and I think I like her. Her dress was very interesting to look at with all the folds and layers.
[x] Christopher Straub - He won the first challenge and while I quite loved his dress it really wasn't innovative and in fact I thought it was a bit safe.
[x] Epperson
[x] Gordana Gehlhausen
[x] Irina Shabayeva - I liked what she did with her dress, but I feel like I'm not going to like her much this season. I don't know why. She seems entitled to me or something.
[x] Johnny Sakalis - He used to be addicted to meth! He broke down on his first challenge! I mean inspiring story and all, but dude shouldn't be here if he freaked out over THIS pretty simple challenge.
[x] Logan Neitzel
[x] Louise Black
- She remind me of Diablo Cody. I don't think that's a good thing. But I WANT to like her. I think I'm going to be looking forward to what she designs.
[x] Malvin Vien - I'm either going to love him or hate him. So far though I'm ambivalent. As was his design.
[x] Mitchell Hall - I initially latched onto him as SOMEONE TO WATCH. Too bad he kinda fizzled toward the end.
[x] Nicolas Putvinski
Qristyl Frazier
- I think I love her. The judges didn't much care for her wild dress, but it was the ONE dress that made me say WOW. And really isn't that what you want in a red carpet dress?
[x] Ra'mon-Lawrence Coleman
[x] Shirin Askari

The challenge itself was pretty boring so I'm hoping that they revved it up in the upcoming episodes. At the very least I am not really hating on anyone right now which is good because I do not need another Santino Rice.

And before I forget, the guest celebrity judge was Lindsay Lohan. Insert joke here.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Looking Forward To...

September 25, 2009
Distributor: MGM
Director: Kevin Tancharoen
Starring: Debbie Allen, Megan Mullally, Kherington Payne, Walter Perez, Bebe Nuwirth, Kay Panabaker, Kelsey Grammer, and Naturi Naughton

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Charming Casting Choices

Casting directors are making me very happy right now. It seems like some of my favorite actors are getting gigs to TV shows I actually watch!

David Anders played my favorite sexy agent on Alias and was also one of the few highlights on Heroes when that showed started its freefall in quality. It's insane that he hasn't had a more regular role anywhere, but come January he'll be joining the cast of 24 which already picked up Battlestar Galactica alum Katee Sackhoff.

Another Alias alum will make an appearance on TV this fall. Gina Torres, who played kick-ass babes Anna Espinosa in Alias and Zoe in Firefly will join the cast of Gossip Girl as the mother of one of the kids. As recently as this year she has appeared in Pushing Daisies, Eli Stone, and Dirty Sexy Money. Hopefully this doesn't mean Gossip Girl will get cancelled.

Finally, there's James Marsters who is more famously known as the bleached-blonde vampire Spike in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but he also appeared in Torchwood as Captain John Hart. It was announced recently that he is joining the Battlestar Galactica spin-off Caprica this fall for a "sizable arc."

All in all, I'm very excited to see these actors on my screens soon. Now someone get Lee Pace some work! Now!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Design Star: Miltary Homes

This week the challenge was renovating a family room for a military family at a military base. The families really tugged on the designer's heartstrings and made me tear up a bit.

I also teared up in the end, because it was a sad elimination. Nathan Galui has been eliminated from Design Star. I mean if I were the judges, I would've made the exact same decision, but it's just disappointing since he is my favorite designer. I still think he was one of the better designers this season. He just had a weakness with time management and leadership skills. I mean my God, he took 21 hours to work on shelves. Not good.

With Nathan gone, the two frontrunners now are the powerhouse designer-carpenters Dan and Antonio who have been impressing the judges every episode. Clearly one of them will win this season. There are no other alternatives. And with them on the same team this week, they handedly defeated the other team. There was one snafu about color choice with Dan and Torie wanting to respect the wishes of the client and Antonio not having any of it. In the end, the judges agreed with Antonio's passion and design sensibilities.

Nathan's team tumbled with poor Jason having to pick up the slack of his team, but was then punished by the judges with some of his poor choices. The judges did love Lonnie's chevron design on the wall, which I have to take issue on. Because while it was good, it was not that good and at least Nathan's 20-hour project was more functional. I think I'm just bitter about Nathan's eviction just a tad. Oh well.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Changing of the Ranks

July 25th 2005. That is the date that Rafael Nadal became the no. 2 player in the world. And ever since then, Nadal and current world no. 1 Roger Federer have held on to the top two rankings.

This four years of dominance saw Federer as no. 1 in the world for a record 237 consecutive weeks while Nadal also set the record for consecutive weeks of being ranked no. 2. Nadal took over the no. 1 ranking from Federer last year after winning his first Wimbledon and doing well at the US hardcourt tournaments. Federer fittingly regained the top ranking when he won his record-breaking 15th slam title at Wimbledon earlier this year.

For the most part, these two champions had a stronghold on the top two rankings, but there were a few players who threatened namely Andy Roddick and Novak Djokovic. In fact, last year Djokovic had several chances to take #2 from Nadal, but he never capitalized. Taking 21 of the last 25 Grand Slam titles, Federer and Nadal are probably the most dominant top two players in the game's history.

August 17th 2009. This is the date that Andy Murray will supplant Nadal as the world's no. 2 tennis player. With Nadal (and Federer) both losing in the quarterfinals at Montreal, Murray reached the finals ensuring him of the no. 2 rank come Monday. This will be the first time in four years that another player will be no. 2 other than Nadal or Federer. Despite not having a slam title to his name, Murray has probably been the most consistently good player on tour this year with the other top-ranked players going through times of slump. His next goal will be to take the no. 1 crown from Federer and that could happen less than a month from now as Federer tries to defend his US Open win last year.

Sure to be a dogfight.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Top 8 Make History

The quarterfinalists are set for the first important tournament after Wimbledon a few weeks ago and it's a historic moment. The Top 8 players in the world advanced to the Rogers Cup quarterfinals and according to the ATP Website, this is the first time this has happened in men's tennis history (since 1973).

Headlining this impressive lineup are world no. 1 and 2 Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, both making their first tournament appearance after a long layoff. Federer is on a 22-match streak including a win against Nadal in Madrid and his historic wins at the French Open and Wimbledon. He took a break to spend some time with his wife and his newborn twin girls. Nadal on the other hand has been sidelined since losing to Robin Soderling at the French Open trying to recuperate his knees from tendinitis. Nadal is the defending champion.

With the top two players still finding their legs, many are picking no. 3 Andy Murray to win. He has shown impressive form to reach the quarterfinals. No. 4 Novak Djokovic seems to be the flying under the radar, but his game is suited to this surface. All he needs is some confidence.

No. 5 Andy Roddick and no. 6 Juan Martin Del Potro met up last week at the Legg Mason Tournament finals with Del Potro beating the higher seed. Both thrive at the hard courts able to use their booming serves to neutralize most opponents. They are the next best bets after Federer and Murray to win this tournament.

Finally, no. 7 Jo Wilfried Tsonga and no. 8 Nikolay Davydenko are having inconsistent years. Tsonga started out strong this year winning two titles early, but has faltered ever since. Davydenko, on the other hand, has been struggling in the early part of the year, but he is recently 11-match streak including his first two titles of the year. Unfortunately for him, they are both on clay.

With both of the Williams sisters beaten, only four of the Top 8 women made it to the quarterfinals including world no. 1 Dinara Safina. The story of the week in the women side however is the comeback of former world no. 1 Kim Clijsters who retired two years ago. To reach the quarterfinals she had to defeat three straight Top 20 players including reigning French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova. To get further, she will have to defeat Safina.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Looking Forward To...

District 9
Release: August 14, 2009
Distributor: Sony/Screen Gems
Director: Neill Blomkamp
Starring: Sharlto Cope, Jason Cope, Nathalie Boltt, Sylvaine Strike, John Summer, William Allen Young, and Nick Blake

Monday, August 10, 2009

My Non-Reality Summer Shows

In only a few weeks time, the regular TV fall season will be upon us. But before that happens, I just wanted to highlight the non-reality TV shows I have been watching this summer.

Being Human (BBC America, Saturdays 9PM)

What do you get when you have three 20-somethings trying to get by and make them roommates? Pretty standard fare for a show. But what if they were a vampire, a werewolf, and a ghost? Sounds like a beginning of some joke, but its actuality the setup of a very good BBC show. It works in a lot of levels because it mixes the pathos of the three preternatural beings trying to just fit in (and deal with their individual monsters) with wit and humor as befitting regular British 20-somethings. The characters themselves are to be commended because their disparate personalities allow the viewers to relate to at least one of them and the resulting chemistry between all three work. The standout for me is Russell Tovey playing the neurotic George who struggles with his werewolf and more savage side. I may do a separate post on this show later on, because it's just that good. The mix of drama and humor and the witty dialogue reminds me of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. High praise indeed.

Merlin (NBC, Sundays 8PM)

It's another BBC production, but this one is airing on NBC. The show basically takes the Merlin/Arthur/Camelot legends and shows us what happened BEFORE all of that. It's a reimagining of the story because we see a young Merlin and a young Arthur still in the process of finding out their destinies. This show works because the two actors playing Merlin and Arthur have good chemistry (to the point where I actually think Merlin has a mad crush on Arthur). It's also really nice to see bits and pieces of the Camelot/Merlin legends tweaked for newer generations. Plus the show features a Buffy the Vampire Slayer alum in Anthony Stewart Head who played Rupert Giles. Here, he plays the stern king of Camelot, King Uther, father of Arthur. He's so deliciously conflicted, it's fascinating to watch.

Drop Dead Diva (Lifetime, Sundays 9PM)

Finally, here's a show that's not connected to BBC nor are there any BtVS connections. In fact what am I doing watching a Lifetime show? The basic gist of the series is that a pretty (but dumb) girl was killed and when the wires got crossed up in heaven she was sent back down in the body of an overweight lawyer. She has to deal with her new body and new intellect all the way trying to juggle the fun world of being a lawyer. It's a crazy concept to be sure, but if you get pass that, it truthfully is a heartwarming show. Brooke Elliott plays lawyer Jane and the energy and nuance she puts into the character is pretty great. Oh and did I mention that Margaret Cho plays her assistant? Come on now.

Design Star: Garage Makeover

The remaining eight contestants were divided into two teams. My favorite design duo, Nathan and Dan, were reunited, but they were in the same team with Tashica who I believe should've gone in the second episode and has only been as useless and incompetent since her first day. So I became worried that she would drag down my favorite people. I was also worried because the judges would be getting rid of TWO people after this challenge. Damn.

From the get-go Tashica butted heads with her team partly due to her regular nonsensical ideas but also partly due to her teammates not really listening to her. But I couldn't really blame them knowing Tashica's spotty track record. With Tashica dragging them down, they completed the room, but not to the best of their abilities.

The other team, led by Antonio, looked like they were working together much better. They seemed to have a plan and they were executing everything without any hitch.

The challenge was making over a garage into an extra living space. Both teams were successful, but the judges has reservations on both. Antonio's team had the more finished and cohesive look, but the judges criticized its predictability. They were particularly hard on Jany and Torie who were in charged of accessories. The judges then hammered Dan's team with some egregious design choices they made such as not replacing the garage door and the painting of the mural. They came down hard on Nathan as he was the one who executed the mural, but they were generally unhappy with the whole team.

With that said, the judges finally finally realized that the problem probably lied with Tashica. Her teammates in turn basically turned on her and with only a very brief deliberation, the judges made Tashica the first elimination. I jumped for joy.

After a much longer deliberation time, they praised Dan and Antonio for always being the anchors of their teams. They also picked out Nathan (no!!!!) and Jany as the weakest links of their team. With bated breath, I waited anxiously of their decision. When the judges sent Jany home instead of Nathan, I screamed for joy. He has done so much good in the past few episodes that it would've been silly if they got rid of him.

Next week Dan and Antonio are in the same team. Will the other team be left high and dry? With the ratio of 4-2 in the guys' favor, will the judges feel compelled to get rid of a guy?

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Birthday Boy: Roger Federer

Happy Birthday Roger Federer! The world number one tennis player is celebrating his 28th birthday today. And it has been one HELL of a year since his last birthday.

Flashback to August 8, 2008. Federer has just suffered a horrific losses at the French Open and Wimbledon to his archrival and stumbled at the two Master Series events in North America and was a week or two away from losing in number one ranking which he has held for a record 230+ weeks. But on August 8 of last year, he carried the flag for Switzerland at the Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony and he was all smiles.

Since that day he has won am Olympic gold medal (in doubles) and three Grand Slams championships including his 5th straight US Open, his first French Open, and his 6th Wimbledon which put him ahead of Pete Sampras' record of Slam titles. He has also regained his number one ranking from his archrival and oh yeah he got married to his long-time girlfriend who also gave birth to twin girls.

God, aren't they all just freaking adorable?!

And here we are, August 8, 2009. His twin girls are barely a few weeks old. His record-breaking and historic summer is still fresh on his mind. He goes into his next few tournaments with no pressure, nothing left to prove, and with the best posse possible. It's sure to be quite a birthday.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

SYTYCD: The Finale

The talented Brandon Bryant, the adorable Evan Kasprzak, the fierce Jeanine Mason, and the versatile Kayla Ramdomski are your top four finalists for So You Think You Can Dance. Despite my feelings of general disappointment for the whole season, I congratulate each and every single one of these dancers for rising to the top this season. They all deserved to win (but I'm personally rooting for Evan and Jeanine).

The finale took place, for the first time in the show's history, at the grand Kodak Theater. Bigger stage and an even bigger audience. The last performance episode was jam-packed with routines with the top four performing with one another. They were all pretty good, but my absolute favorite was the two girls performing a Mia Michaels contemporary number. Usually the boy-boy routine is the more memorable of the same-sex routines, but this season proved different. My favorite moment though had to be when the entire theater chanted "Evan! Evan! Evan!" A beautiful moment for him.

It was Evan who got the short end of the stick from the judges' comments last night with Brandon and Jeanine getting LOTS of love. They praised Kayla, but according to most people by the end, this season was Brandon's or Jeanine's to lose. But I have to give it up to guest judge Adam Shankman who gave them all props in the end. Adam said, "Brandon you tore it up tonight. Jeanine you came out as a dark horse. Evan you may be one of the most popular dancers the show has ever seen. And I just called Kayla one of the best dancers ever on the show." Hear hear.

The two-hour finale tonight was quite well done. The focus was on the judges' favorite routines throughout the season. And that was it. There were two guest performances, but for the most part the whole show consisted of a series of memorable routines. I thought the judges, all seven of them (Nigel, Mary, Adam, Debbie, Tyce, Mia, and Lil C), picked wisely and looked damn sharp. The best and most obvious routine to bring back was Melissa & Ade's heartbreaking Tyce Diorio's "Breast Cancer Themed" routine, but I also was very happy to see Travis Wall's routine for Jason & Jeanine, because it was HOT.

There were two routines I thought they really shouldn't have brought back though. The first was Brandon & Janette's tango because it was honestly the only performance I couldn't remember. The other one was Randi & Evan's "Butt" dance by Mia Michaels. I say this because BOTH couples have had better performances. Though if you ask me I would've just replaced them with the Jeanine/Kayla dance from the night before or another Melissa/Ade number.

I was quite happy with all of the group numbers. Top 20 performed Broadway while Top 16 performed the Salsa. Then to cap off the night, the Top 8 performed with the judges joining them in the end, to standing ovation. In the end, the night still belonged to the top four and one by one they learned their fates. When Kayla and Evan were declared fourth and third place finishers, it was between Jeanine and Brandon. I was praying for Jeanine and she won! She's America's Most Favorite Dancer (well until the fall). Congratulations Jeanine Mason!

For a disappointing season, that finale really reminded me what I actually liked about this season & this show. Until next month!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Looking Forward To...

Bright Star
September 18, 2009
Distributor: Warner Brothers
Director: Jane Campion
Starring: Thomas Sangster, Ben Whishaw, Abbie Cornish, Paul Schneider, and Samuel Barnett

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Rafa Nadal Returns

Nadal Heads to Montreal for Roger's Cup Defence (ATP)

Six-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal will play in his first tournament since his shocking fourth-round defeat a little less than two months ago at the French Open. The Australian Open champion will defend his title at next week's Roger's Cup in Montreal.

He was unable to defend his Wimbledon title last month and lost the number one ranking to eventual winner Roger Federer. He has been working hard off-court due to tendonitis in both knees.

Can't wait to see him back on court. I hope he's fully recovered and ready to play some good tennis.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Reality Show Rundown

So You Think You Can Dance

I have to say it again, because I think it bears repeating, but I find this season of SYTYCD just so so disappointing compared to previous seasons. And the penultimate performance episode did nothing to change my mind. In fact I can't even pick out an outstanding or memorable performance. Actually that's not completely true. I very much enjoyed the all-boy and all-girl routines. The boys did a funky Sonya Tayeh number that reminded of me Willy Wonka's Oompa Loompas while the girls were superheroes. Guest judge Lil C as always said a lot without saying anything worthwhile.

During the results episode, the top six danced a Tyce Diorio number dressed as clowns. I thought it was beautifully executed. Soon enough Jeanine and Brandon were the first two to be sent to the finale with the latter giving me a headache. Before we found out who left, we were treated to the Emmy-nominated performances from last year. My favorite performance of last year was one of them which was TabNap's "Bleeding Love" routine danced by Mark and Chelsie. In any case, it was Melissa and Ade who got sent home. They were my favorite couple all season, so suffice it to say a disappointing season became even more disappointing. Next week, the finale. Can we just skip it and move forward with the fall season?

Next Food Network Star

This is it, the finale! We find out whether Melissa or Jeff is the next Food Network star. Now I know it's the finale and everything so a season recap and then a getting to know your finalist segment is par for the course, but I just wanted them to start working on their pilots. With the help of Alton Brown, they honed in their show. From the get go, Melissa's "Kitchen Survival Guide" appealed to me more than Jeffrey's "Ingredient Smuggler" which just had a very good concept but had a lame name.

When they were reunited with the judges and their fellow contestants, they both seemed nervous, but excited as they should be. Bobby Flay acted as the emcee as he showed them yet more highlights from the past season culminating to both Melissa's and Jeff's pilot. Both did very well though a bit fast and intense. Still cooking something and teaching people how to do it in five minutes is a lot to ask so I give them props. I appreciated Jeff's concept more, but I correctly predicted that the judges would pick the more marketable Melissa. She is set to debut her new show in only a week's time! But don't say goodbye to Jeffrey since I'm sure the Food Network will snatch him right up.

Design Star

It's the White Room Challenge! It's my favorite challenge on this show since it's an individual challenge and it's always so great to see how designers express themselves using whatever limitations the show put on them. This year the contestants were only allowed to used things from the grocery story with the budget of $1000 (including two paint cans of color). There were three people I kept my eye on. Two because I've been loving their work since day one and the other one because I thought she should've been eliminated from the get go.

The two designers I've loved since the beginning are Nathan Galui and Dan Vickery and they did not disappoint in this episode. In fact both were hailed by the judges as one of the best white rooms. Nathan used black paint and milk/white primer for a bold and sleek look and I want to BUY his white couch full of personal notes. Judge Verne Yip thought Dan had the "single, most well-executed, most well-thought out response" to this challenge with his inspired and beautiful deconstruction of an orchard. The one I wished would leave is Tashica Morgan. She probably should've left in the first episode, DEFINITELY should've left last episode, and certainly deserved to go this week for her unoriginal and bland design. Instead the judges decided to get rid of color expert Jen Guerin because they found her design/color choices too confusing. Alas we're stuck with Tashica at least one more week. Damnit.

CLICK HERE to view the rest of the white rooms.