Thursday, April 29, 2010

Roman Letdown

Another Masters tournament and another early loss for the two Australian Open finalists this year. In Rome, Roger Federer started off his 2010 clay court campaign with a bewildering lost to 40ish ranked Ernest Gulbis while Andy Murray's slump continues with a not-too-shocking lost to David Ferrer. Murray's quarterfinal finish in Indian Wells was the best result of either player.

The losses this week are worrying for both. Murray must be disheartened to see others pass him by especially with guys his age like Novak Djokovic and Juan Martin Del Potro winning slams while he loses in straight sets. It's especially jarring for him since he was so close to the top hitting a career high ranking of #2 last summer. He's still young and he has huge potential for improvement, but his trend is going down, not up.

For Federer, the losses might hurt just a bit less especially considering what he has already achieved. But he has A TON of ranking points to defend starting next week. Will he be able to defend the four tournaments he won (Madrid, French Open, Wimbledon, Cincinnati) and his final showing at the US Open? Good news for him is that he IS a different player now in Grand Slam play, but he needs to improve his results in the regular tour. At the very least so people still thinks he cares. Good on him for sticking with doubles though. He's in the quarterfinals in Rome.

Their vanquishers, Ferrer and Gulbis, are both through to the quarterfinals as are last year's finalists, Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, as well as Stanislas Wawrinka, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Fernando Verdasco, and Feliciano Lopez.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Reality Show Rundown

It's coming to the end of April which means lots of shows are winding down. This also means that for most reality shows, it's getting down to the wire and final contestants. This week there were a lot of great eliminations that I just wanted to highlight.

Even though I do not watch Dancing With the Stars, it's hard to avoid Kate Gosselin's reign of terror both in the tabloids/media and in the show itself. From what I hear, she was just a pain in the ass and couldn't dance to save herself, but kept getting through despite the judges scoring her low. So it was a bit joyous to hear she finally got the boot Tuesday night. Hope she stays home and, oh I don't know, be a mom.

Wednesday night brought another much needed elimination to another highly-rated reality show. This time it was the ouster of the much maligned Tim Urban on American Idol. Vote For the Worst's horse in the race finally came in last. It's a wonder he lasted this long with barely making it in the top 24 and getting awful reviews from the judges early on.

We move on to Thursday night when Seth Aaron was rightfully declared the winner of this season's Project Runway. I was exactly rooting for him, but I was definitely rooting against his competitors who were probably my two least favorite designers this season. In fact I didn't like them so much I didn't even feel the need to watch the finale so god knows what kind of crap they sent down the runway.

Speaking of not watching, I don't pay attention to Survivor. I have a few friends who watch it and I know this season it's all about Heroes vs. Villains. Apparently this week was the merge and some people really started playing. I heard some player made some big and risky moves during tribal council and yadda yadda. Wish I could appreciate it more.

Finally, tonight we get the Amazing Race. I guess I should've been paying more attention, but if I was I would've probably guessed that this week was a non-elimination leg. Too bad because I would've given anything to have those two cops Philiminated. My favorite team, the Cowboys, ended up in first place. Here's hoping to two more first place finishes for them! It's insane that Caite is the last female left in the race. Some things are just too mind boggling. And of course there's the other brother, Dan/Jordan, who are so sweet to one another. I do hope they make it to the final three along with Jet/Cord. Two more episodes left! I think...

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Verdasco Wins Barcelona, Rome Next

The clay season continues as Fernando Verdasco defeats French Open finalist Robin Soderling in the finals of the Barcelona Open. Great showing for both, Verdasco doing one better than his results in Monte Carlo the prior week and Soderling showing the world that he's no one-clay-tournament wonder.

But now things get real as the reigning French Open champion Roger Federer plays his first clay court tournament since winning in Roland Garros. Federer has never won in Rome, coming tantalizingly close in 2006 losing in five sets to Rafael Nadal in the finals. If Nadal wishes to solidify his clay dominance, he will have to get through to both French Open finalists. He is seeded to meet Federer in the semifinals for the first time in five years while Soderling, the only player to have defeated him in Roland Garros, is seeded to face him in the quarterfinals.

And after all that, if he makes the finals, he might have to contend against Novak Djokovic who gave him a real test last year and their brutal clay matches last year probably contributed to his knee troubles that continues to plague him.

Other tennis happenings:

- Fed Cup is underway with Italy and the United States moving on to the finals. Venus Williams withdrew like her sister. Justin Henin pulled out due to injury, but then played when her compatriot Kim Clijsters suffered a foot tear to keep her out for six weeks.

- Federer graces the cover of ESPN Magazine with the headline "Who's the World's Greatest Athlete? Roger Federer Looks the Part."

- Nadal took a rest from Barcelona and instead served as a pall bearer for former president of the International Olympic Committee Juan Antonio Samaranch.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Power of Glee

Image re-blogged from fujiidom.

The Madonna episode of Glee this past Tuesday was surely over-hyped, but I think the show, the cast, and the episode really held their own. Jam packed with Madonna's hits and more than a few shout-outs to the Material Girl, it was one of the more entertaining hours of TV you'll probably see this season.

It's difficult to pick a favorite performance. "Like A Prayer" was the rousing ensemble song that capped the episode while "Vogue" was Jane Lynch's pièce de résistance and an instant viral hit. But for some reason, I can't get the "4 Minute" song and performance out of my head. The song itself is quite catchy enough, but Mercedes and Kurt taking ownership of the stage was something to see. It's been on constant replay since I've seen the episode.

"She's black. I'm gay. We make culture." - Kurt

Idol Gives Back And Then Some

This year's Idol Gives Back show contained about 10% results show, 30% performances, 30% call to action/charity, and 45% stupid crap. That doesn't add up to 100% you say? Well the show ran over like 22 minutes, so it works.

As easy as it is to rag on American Idol, it's also just as easy to give them credit for these Idol Gives Back shows. If you can donate to their cause, please do so.

The elimination was a bit of a gift in itself with Tim Urban finally getting the boot. With his now much-talked about smile, good looks, and modicum amount of singing talent, he's bound to milk his stint on American Idol quite well. More power to him. I mean, looked at what he accomplished! He went from being cut during Hollywood Week to finishing 7th securing himself a juicy spot at the Idol Summer Tour.

So now with six contestants left, we can easily divide them into two groups of three. Those that have had mid to high buzz since the beginning of the competition and have NEVER been to the bottom three (Crystal, Lee, and Siobhan) to the others (Casey, Michael, and Aaron). And of course, I'm still rooting for a Bowersox-Dewyze finale.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Lost Loves Reunite

Lots of things happened in last night's episode of Lost, but nothing more satisfying than to see Sun and Jin finally reuniting. Last time they saw one another was at the end of S4 (not counting any flashbacks or flash sideways of course). In "real" time though, the couple had been separated for three years (and some change). In that time, Jin worked for the Dharma Initiative and perfected his English while Sun raised their daughter off the Island only to go back to look for Jin.

I have to admit that I thought we'd never see this happen. The show did everything they could to keep these two apart, but with six hours of the show to go, the reunion was inevitable. Of course as soon as they both saw one another, I thought one or both would get shot or get electrocuted or SOMETHING. I'm glad nothing like that happened. Not yet anyways. At the very least, Jin needs to hold his daughter!

In other Island news, things are heating up with Widmore declaring war because UnLocke took Desmond. It was left open-ended whether or not Sayid killed Desmond, but I doubt they'd actually let such an iconic part of the show die off-screen. Sawyer was able to get himself, Kate, Hurley, Miles, Lapidus, Sun, Claire, and Jack away from UnLocke only for Jack to take "a leap of faith" and go back to UnLocke. As for alternate sideways reality, everyone seems to be converging either in the hospital where Jack works or the police station with Sawyer.

Next week is not a new episode, but the week after that we should find out who the candidate is for Jacob. Methinks it's Jack since he's the only one to show ANY interest in the job.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Thoughts on Idol's Top 7

With the much needed double-eliminations of a few dead weights, I feel we're finally getting somewhere this season. Granted there's still a few loose ends here and there, but for the most part I'm feeling just a tiny bit more optimistic for this much maligned season.

This week it's Inspirational Song Week and yes I just rolled my eyes. But really it makes sense since tomorrow's result show will also serve as Idol's sort of annual Idol Gives Back concert. Unfortunately, most of the contestants this week sang through the motions or completely faltered. There were two exceptions and both of them are no surprise to anyone who's been watching this season. In fact they're the two singers getting ME through this season.

Casey James - He delivered another good, but forgettable performance. He's still a threat to win because he's consistent, likable, and charming. But he needs to do something far more exciting than what he delivered tonight.

Lee Dewyze - He's one of the two singers I talked about above. Every week he's just gaining confidence and delivering one strong performance after another. He can still grow a lot and if he does, everyone should really fear him.

Tim Urban - I will give him credit for his performances the past two weeks i.e. he didn't suck. But the longer he stays, the longer the agony. He's a fine singer, but so so SO limited. He needs to go now.

Aaron Kelly - While he performed well enough, the song was too much for him. The song was overly cheesy and difficult already, but the messy arrangement made it that much more overwhelming for the boy. Oddly enough I've sort of started rooting for him.

Siobhan Magnus - Is this really the girl who's supposed to be one-one-one with Crystal, because I don't really recognize her anymore. Maybe it was all the butterflies, figuratively and literally.

Michael Lynche - To be honest, it was just an okay performance for me. It sort of reminded me of Casey's performance in that it was good, but a bit lazy and a little too auto-pilot for me.

Crystal Bowersox - She easily delivered the best performance of the night. It wasn't even a competition. THIS was her Moment and it was beautiful. Odder things have happened and there's still a chance she won't win, but who the hell is predicting that? Not me. Instead, I will just be voting.

So there you go. Lee was good, Crystal was the best, and everyone else were blah. Though hasn't this been the case for most of the season? The more things change...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Clay King Returns in Monte Carlo

Rafael Nadal has finally won his first title since winning in Rome last May. His win in the Monte Carlo Masters has got to be so satisfying for the Spaniard who endured a tough 11-month title drought which included a heartbreaking fourth round loss at the French Open, a withdrawal from Wimbledon, a dismal showing at the World Tour finals, and a smattering of semifinal appearances. With his win here, he also becomes the first player to win six consecutive time in the same event AND pulls himself into a tie with Roger Federer with 16 Masters titles, both just one shy away from record holder Andre Agassi's tally.

All of that and he did it in style routing Fernando Verdasco 6-0, 6-1. For the entire tournament, Nadal only lost 14 games dishing out a bagel in three of his five matches. While it's been a tough road for Nadal, there's no denying that he is still THE player to beat in red clay. He will no doubt be particularly hungry to defend the rest of his clay titles from last year AND regain his French Open crown.

The question mark, of course, is Roger Federer, the man who last defeated Nadal at a Masters tournament and who is the defending French Open champion. His first clay tournament is not until Rome. His non-Slam results for the past few months have been less than desired, but he is undoubtedly the second best clay-court player the past few years.

Other players to look out for would be Novak Djokovic who lost in the semifinals in Monte Carlo to Verdasco and Robin Soderling, the only man so far to defeat Nadal in the red clay of Roland Garros.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Spanish Armada in Monte Carlo

Defending champion and clay-court extraordinaire Rafael Nadal roars into the final eight at Monte Carlo losing only two games in two matches. Bidding to win his first title in 11 months, Nadal leads a strong contingent of Spanish players with four of his countrymen joining him in the quarterfinals.

Fernando Verdasco
and David Ferrer defeated the most recent Masters champions Tomas Berdych and Ivan Ljubicic respectively while Juan Carlos Ferrero and Albert Montanes were able to win against top 10 players Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Marin Cilic.

Joining the five Spaniards are top seed Novak Djokovic, Philipp Kohlschreiber, and David Nalbandian. The latter defeated Tommy Robredo who could've added to the armada of Spanish players.

Most recent Slam winners Roger Federer and Juan Martin Del Potro are both out of the tournament due to vacation and injuries respectively. Andy Murray was ousted in his first match as dispirited as he's looked in awhile.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Hell-O, Hello Goodbye

Last night, in an episode entitled "Hell-O," Glee was welcomed back to the small screens with much media fanfare. With all the buzz, awards, and hype building and building during its four-month hiatus, the show returned with its highest ratings ever. And what was not to love? The kids were still showing off their mad singing skills. Sue Sylvester was deliciously diabolical as always. And Broadway divas Jonathan Groff and Idina Menzel made fantastic additions to the cast. The second half of season one will surely be chock full of moments to talk about so onwards...

And well, as one bright shiny show returned, another one ended this week. With much less fanfare, Ugly Betty had its final episode ending a four-year run full of fashion faux-pas, high drama, and heartwarming moments. The final episode, entitled "Hello Goodbye," was light in actual plot and was more focused on giving the fans and the characters some much needed closure. I was totally down with this.

The closures:
  • Wilhemina listens to reason from Marc and realizes fighting with the Meades will be the death of her. She reunites with her love and in the end ends up becoming the sole editor-in-chief of Mode anyways.
  • Marc stands up to Wilhemina, reconnects with Troy (should've been Cliff, but whatever), and seems to be the new Creative Director of Mode.
  • Amanda is not completely failing as a stylist, but doesn't really matter since she's now reunited with her long-lost father.
  • Hilda is married to her high school sweetheart, moving out of her childhood home to live in the city with her son...
  • Justin is with Austin, both proudly raising their adorable gay flags.
  • Ignacio, while sad to see his family leave the nest, is proud of all of them taking their next steps paralleling it to when he first moved to America.

And then there's Betty and Daniel. Oh man. I was so very fearful at what they would do to these two characters, but I think they handled it quite well. Betty risked it all once more and moved out to London to take a hold of her dreams. Daniel, in the meantime, pulled a Felicity and followed Betty to London but thankfully not to declare his undying love for her. Instead, he wanted to work himself to the top, just like Betty did, and in the process get to know Betty as someone other than his former assistant. The ending is so open-ended for both of them that it's difficult for a fan or non-fan of Betty/Daniel to be too upset. Perfect.

Overall, an absolutely beautiful finale. Bravo.

Looking Forward To...

Toy Story 3
Release: June 18, 2010
Distributor: Buena Vista
Director: Lee Unkrich
Starring: Tom Hanks, Michael Keaton, Whoopi Goldberg, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Bonnie Hunt, Timothy Dalton, Wallace Shawn, Don Rickles, and John Ratzenberger

Monday, April 12, 2010

Catch-All Post on TV

I meant to post all of these as separate entries in the past five days or so, but one thing led to another and I never wrote any of those entries. So in hopes of getting it all off my chest before I completely forget and/or it becomes pointless...

Justin's Sweet Coming Out and the Dreaded Betty/Daniel

I have nothing but superbly positive words on how the show has handled Justin coming out to himself and to his family these past few episodes. From confiding with Marc to asking Austin to dance with him at his mother's wedding, it was quite touching and definitely had me in tears. But hold up, with one episode remaining, why the hell would they try to bring us a possible Betty/Daniel ending. I know that's how every other version of Ugly Betty ended, but it just would not be right for these versions of those characters!

It wouldn't have been so heinous if they had just built it up during these last few episodes. Instead we have seen more of a brother/sister type relationship development between these two this past season. If anything, they should be building more on that development i.e. that they both consider each other as family now. It still provides that drama of Betty having to decide between London and leaving her family, extended or otherwise. No matter what though, I'll be a bit disappointed if Betty does not go to London. And if the reason is Daniel, I might scream.

Idol Eliminates Nobody and Dubiously Brings Back Runner-Up

The Top 9 gets a second week to prove themselves as one of them, Michael Lynche, ended up with the lowest number of votes last week only to be saved by the judges. With the Judges' Save used, two people will be leaving next week. This non-elimination was surprising enough, but even more so was the realization that Tim Urban is gaining fans. He wasn't even in the bottom three this week!

With that said, I'm still rooting for Crystal and Lee with Siobhan and Casey as possible dark horses. Clearly hoping to add some much needed buzz this season, Idol have asked back last year's showstopper Adam Lambert to mentor the contestants. I love Adam and all, but it's a little odd considering the show has not previously extended this offer to previous Idol winners, let alone other runner-ups. Not to mention that while Adam has released his album and kicking ass performing everywhere, he's still very VERY new to the industry and well, it all sort of reeks of desperation for both parties really. Still looking forward to it though.

Tina Fey Does Palin and Flirts with Bieber

Haven't seen much of Saturday Night Live the past few months, but I knew I had to see Tina Fey especially since I saw the hilarious Date Night this past weekend. Maybe I'm conflating her with her character Liz Lemon, but for some reason I was pleasantly surprised to see Tina so extraordinarily confident. Her standout sketch was, of course, her Sarah Palin sketch where the "Vice-Presidential silver medalist" started her own network to obvious hilarious results.

Musical guest and tween idol Justin Bieber showed up in a few sketches in between performing and fighting off all the ladies. His most surreal (and funny?) sketch had to be him singing about his feelings for his teacher (as played by Fey) all the byproduct of the teacher's fantasy. Other episode highlights include Fey eating her Brownie husband with the "caramel surprise" and The Devil putting a 5-min smackdown on the Catholic church.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Love. Lost. Love.

In Richard's episode two weeks ago, we find out that the Island is a "cork" holding back the Man in Black. In last night's amazing Desmond-centric episode, we find out what the show is all about with another four-letter word: Love. Too corny for you? Tough. I am eating it all up.

I love the show's dense mythology and ambitious ways of telling a story, but it's all about the characters for me. And when those characters are in lurve (with the key exception of the Jack/Kate/Sawyer love triangle of who-the-fuck-cares), I get all giddy. I'm looking forward to seeing the inevitable Sun/Jin reunion on Island and hopefully seeing the alt-universe coupling of Sawyer/Juliet, Charlie/Claire, and Daniel/Charlotte. But really it's all about Desmond/Penny isn't it?

At this point I don't care if the writers answer all my questions in the end. I just want those couples to live happily ever after. That's probably way too much to ask, but I'm asking anyways.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Waiting for the Doctor

Twelve days. That's how many days American audiences have to endure until they can see new episodes of Doctor Who featuring Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor. The season five premiere entitled "The Eleventh Hour" already aired in the UK with critics and audiences alike giving it lots of praise.

Tune in to BBC America on April 17th 9PM for the premiere. New season. New Doctor. New theme music. New logo.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Second Titles & Second Chances

Former US Open champions, Kim Clijsters and Andy Roddick both claimed their second title of the year by winning the Sony Ericsson Open this weekend. While lacking the drama and epicness of their semifinal bouts, both held steady amidst a struggling opponent. Venus Williams looked out of sorts piling unforced errors after unforced errors while Tomas Berdych was lucky to log a scoreline that close despite his low service percentage.

While often overshadowed by their more decorated rivals, both have shown the willingness and determination to change and get better. For Clijsters, she took that much-needed hiatus from tennis to center her life while Roddick has been working with Larry Stefanki to change up his game. The win this weekend show something is working, but their successes were even evident last year. Who could forget Clijsters winning her second Grand Slam title in Flushing or when Roddick was one break of serve away from taking the Wimbledon title from the great Roger Federer in that final set?

So for both, it's been a good start of the year and it seems both are taking full advantage of the second chance they've been given. True, both are probably past their primes, but once a champion...

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Enchanted Central Park

Giselle has the right idea on how to spend a lovely spring day in the city. That's where I'll be today, albeit not singing nor looking as absolutely adorable as Amy Adams.

Miami Report

Confession time. The reason why I put Clijster's and Roddick's images in my last Miami entry was because I thought both would lose (valiantly) to their respective opponents in the semifinals. They proved me wrong.

Kim Clijsters defeated her arch rival Justine Henin in a roller coaster 6-2 7-6 7-6 match. Clijsters was up 6-2 3-0 before letting Henin back into the game. The final set was a game of chicken for both ladies, neither one capable of taking a hold of the win. With her fourth match point, Clijsters eked out Henin 8-6 in the third leveling their H2H at 12 wins a piece.

Clijsters will have a chance to even another H2H when she goes up against Venus Williams in the finals. Both ladies have move through the draw with minimal drama, losing only one set the whole tournament. They most recently met in the fourth round of last year's US Open with Clijsters winning a very strange 6-0 0-6 6-4 match. Clijsters then went on to win the tournament.

Fun Fact: Clijsters will break into the top ten with a win here in Miami. Even without the win, she will move up all the way to #11. Unranked until this week, Henin will move into #23 after this tournament, just in time for her favorite part of the year: clay season.

Andy Roddick
was seen as the underdog against Rafael Nadal. When Nadal won the first set, many thought the Spaniard would win in straights to reach the finals and finally get his first title in nearly 11 months. Roddick had a different idea. Playing aggressive and smart tennis, Roddick was able to break Nadal late in the second set and then early in the third set to take control. For his part, Nadal didn't help himself as he looked frustrated by the end. Roddick clinched the win by breaking Nadal a second time in the final set. Roddick d. Nadal 4-6 6-3 6-3.

Roddick will face the man who took out Roger Federer earlier this week, Tomas Berdych. Roddick has a 5-2 H2H against Berdych, but do remember that Nadal had a similar H2H against Roddick before they played. Plus en route to the finals Berdych not only took out Federer down a match point, but he also beat talented players such as Fernando Verdasco and Robin Soderling.

Fun fact: Three of the four men's semifinalists also made the semifinals in last week's BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells (Roddick, Nadal, and Soderling). Both Nadal and Soderling also lost in the semifinals while Roddick made it to the finals as well. Will the "other" person (Berdych) win like last week (Ljubicic)?

Prediction: Since I underestimated them both last time, I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt and predict that both Kim Clijsters and Andy Roddick will be walking off the champions this weekend down in Miami.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Catching Up in Miami

Rafael Nadal will try to reach his first final in almost 11 months by going up against Andy Roddick in the Sony Ericsson Open semifinals. Both also made the semifinals in Indian Wells a week ago with Roddick making it all the way to the finals. Nadal is once again the last player of the Big Four to survive the tournament with Roger Federer losing to Tomas Berdych in the fourth round after having a match point in the third set tiebreaker. So no Fedal final still! Berdych will have to get through Fernando Verdasco today to get one of two remaining semifinal berths. Mikhail Youzhny and Robin Soderling will be contesting the other one later today.

The ladies are set for the semifinal matches. Venus Williams will face Marion Bartoli in one side while the other side is none other than a pair of newly un-retired Belgians. This will be the second match between Grand Slam champions Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin this year. Both made a remarkable return to tennis after a brief hiatus from the game with Clijsters winning the US Open last year and Henin reaching the Australian Open finals earlier this year. Both are now ranked in the Top 30 with both having NO POINTS to defend for most of the year.