Saturday, May 29, 2010

French Open: Third Round Report

Unlike the second round, the third round went without a hitch as the weather finally improved. This doesn't mean there weren't shocking results in the meantime.

Who could've predicted that the last American man standing would be 98th ranked Robby Ginepri? Ginepri defeated 16th seed Juan Carlos Ferrero in five sets while his fellow Americans 6th seed Andy Roddick and 17th seed John Isner lost to Teimuraz Gabashvilli and 15th seed Tomas Berdych respectively in straight sets. The Isner-Berdych result was to be expected, but Roddick must be kicking himself at the results. It stings even more because his projected opponent, 9th seed David Ferrer, was also inexplicably beaten by 22nd seed Jurgen Melzer! 14th seed Ivan Ljubicic was taken out as well, defeated by 24th seed Thomaz Bellucci.

Top seed Roger Federer was the first one through to the fourth round with an easy win while 2nd seed Rafael Nadal also had a relatively comfortable time in his match with 28th seed Lleyton Hewitt. And finally, here's a fascinating scoreline from the Andy Murray-Marcos Baghdatis match: 6-2, 6-3, 0-6, 6-2. Did Murray fall asleep in the third set?

For the women, one third round match was not completed and it's the one everyone has been buzzing about. Multiple Grand Slam winners Justine Henin and Maria Sharapova were tied at one set a piece before play was suspended for the day. Based on their clay histories, one would've expected Henin to walk away with the win, so this is quite interesting. Defending champion Svetlana Kuznetsova lost to fellow countrywomen and 30th seed Maria Kirilenko, which just continues the recent bad results for the two time Grand Slam winner.

Top 16 seeds Na Li, Marion Bartoli, and Yanina Wickmayer were defeated in straight sets by 17th seed Francesca Schiavone, 18th seed Shahar Peer, and 23rd seed Daniela Hantuchova respectively. Meanwhile, 19th seed Nadia Petrova survived her match with 15th seed Aravane Rezai winning 10-8 in the third set. Meanwhile, the top four seeds--Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Caroline Wozniacki, and Jelena Jankovic all move through to the fourth round.

The second week begins tomorrow.

French Open: Second Round Report

Rain caused havoc in the schedule of play forcing the tournament directors to extend some second round matches into a third day. Despite an almost wash-out on Thursday, all of the second round matches were completed by Friday due to good weather.

The seeds in the men's side held strong with dominant showings from top ten players Robin Soderling (5th seed), Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (8th seed), and David Ferrer (9th seed). Combining their second round results, they only lost 11 games! 6th seed Andy Roddick, 17th seed John Isner, and unseeded Robby Ginepri show Americans can play on clay by moving on to the third round. Another American, Mardy Fish, was this close to joining his compatriots. Instead he lost 8-10 in the fifth and final set to veteran and 14th seed Ivan Ljubicic.

Speaking of fifth sets, 28th seed Lleyton Hewitt was able to grind out a win in a match that had a rollercoaster quality of up and down. The scoreline was 1-6, 6-3, 6-4, 2-6, 6-2. Fifth setters were less kind to 13th seed Gael Monfils who ended up losing to Fabio Fognini 7-9 in the fifth set. Their match lasted two days, rescheduled due to "insufficient light," which according to reports, was an understatement. They resumed their match 5-5 in the fifth set on Friday. Other seeds that fell in the second round were Fernando Gonzalez (12) and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (32).

For the women, it was business as usual as favorites such as Serena Williams, Venus Williams, and Justine Henin cruised to the next round. After upsetting Dinara Safina in the first round, 39-year-old Kimiko Date Krumm was unable to extend her Cinderella run losing to Jarmila Groth of Australia 0-6, 3-6. This score is a bit of a mirror image of the beating that 28th seed Alisa Kleybanova delivered to former French Open champion Ana Ivanovic.

Another former French Open champion, last year's champion, 6th seed Svetlana Kuznetsova was this close to getting ousted. Her opponent, Andrea Petkovic, had four match points, but got tight and was unable to capitalize on what certainly would've been one of the biggest wins of her career. These seeded players weren't as lucky as Kuznetsova: Agnieszka Radwanska (8), Vera Zvonareva (21), Lucie Safarova (24), and Jie Zheng (25).

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

French Open: First Round Report

For the French Open, the first round stretched out for three whole days. The weather for the first two days was hot and dry making the courts play faster. On the third day, it was cloudy and wetter slowing up the courts. Fortunately the rain stayed away until the very end of the day making it possible to complete all of the matches except for one.

Recent finalists Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Robin Soderling easily moved on as well as other top seeds who have played generally well this past clay season. Three of the top eight seeds, however, had to go the distance to move forward. 4th seed Andy Murray was actually predicted to lose to unseeded Richard Gasquet based on the latter's recent clay results and Murray's lackluster showing on the surface. Unfortunately, Gasquet ran out of steam after winning the first two sets giving Murray the win. 6th seed Andy Roddick and 8th seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga had to rally from 2-1 sets down to move through.

Only five seeds fell most notably 23rd seed Ernests Gulbis who recently defeated Federer on clay and was one of only two men to take a set off Nadal on clay this year. Gulbis retired at the beginning of the third set after losing the first two. Other seeds who fell were Tommy Robredo (21), Juan Monaco (26), Feliciano Lopez (27), and a dispirited Sam Querrey (18) who also ended up withdrawing from doubles.

The seeds held a bit stronger in the women's draw than in the men's with only three seeds going out. The results, however, were far more shocking than what the men delivered.

The biggest shocker of all was 9th seed and last year's finalist Dinara Safina going out to 39-year-old Kimiko Date Krumm who has not won a Grand Slam match in years! As depressing as this is for Safina, it is just as inspirational for one Date Krumm. The other two seeds that fell were 10th seed Victoria Azarenka who has been injured for awhile and 20th seed and recent Rome Masters champion Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez.

Most of the top seeds and contenders including former champions Justine Henin, Serena Williams, Svetlana Kuznetsova, and Ana Ivanovic got through in straight sets.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Thoughts on Idol's Top 2

It's all been leading up to this all season. This year's American Idol will either be Lee DeWyze or Crystal Bowersox. Both of these guitar-playing rockers have stepped it up all season long and they were CLEARLY the cream of the crop. No matter the outcome, they both deserve to be in the finale and all of the fame and fortunes that comes with it.

With that said, the winner hasn't been declared yet and both Lee and Crystal had to still perform to coax the few people who have not made up their minds yet on who to vote for. They had to perform three songs: their favorite song they sang during previous weeks, a song from the Idol producer, and their winning Idol single.

Round One: Favorite Song
Lee's "The Boxer" vs. Crystal's "Me and Bobby McGee"

I think both of them picked good songs, but one could've done better. If I was picking for Crystal that's exactly the song I wanted her to sing again. It's very HER and the up tempo second half of the song shows off her versatility and accessibility. For Lee, unfortunately, this song was tough especially with the nerves he was obviously feeling tonight. If he had performed it as well as he did last month, it would've worked, but he didn't so it fell short just a tad.

Round Two: Producer's Choice
Lee's "Everybody Hurts" vs. Crystal's "Black Velvet"

This was already unfair as soon as the song choices were made! With that said, arrangement goes a long way. Unfortunately for Lee he was saddled with a weepy song that felt just a bit self-indulgent while Crystal was able to show off her rocker voice with her song. And did she ever! Plus you have to think about how it complements your first performance. While Crystal went from energetic to high octane, Lee went from reflective to somber. Is that really what you want people to be thinking?

Round Three: Idol Single
Lee's "Beautiful Day" vs. Crystal's "Up to the Mountain"

As much as I hate the Idol single, I'm even less of a fan of having contestants sing different songs... and not even original songs! This reeks of the better-to-forget-it Season Two so I was not pleased. PLUS the two songs that were picked just don't sound like they'd be very good singles. I see why "Beautiful Day" was chosen for Lee especially to cap off the night, but it's a BIG song and he was overwhelmed by it, the big stage, the audience, the moment, whatever. I can just imagine how amazing it sounds in the studio, but tonight it was missing the IT FACTOR. Now I thought Crystal's song was a little too cerebral, too weighty. I remember Kelly Clarkson belting this song during one of the Idol Gives Back shows a few years ago and yeah, it's an amazing song. So while it's not really "single" worthy for me, Crystal still sang the HELL out of it and had herself a bit of a moment.

Crystal was by far the better performer tonight and the judges agreed giving Lee faint praise while giving Crystal standing ovations. In addition, Lee just looked nervous while Crystal was personable and talkative! She even took the mic from Ryan and did a mini-tribute to Simon! That takes some balls. With that said, there are precious few who actually make up their mind at this time. It's been weeks/months and both of their fanbases have already formed. Crystal has been the early favorite/front runner while Lee took up the mantle of dark horse/underdog and grew every single week. His upward trajectory vs. her great consistency.

I love them both actually and called each of their lines once just to throw my token support. I'm quite satisfied with whatever the outcome will be tomorrow. And honestly, I'm just looking forward to seeing Kris Allen perform tomorrow. You know me.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Lost Series Finale: The End

WARNING: This post contains spoilers for the series finale of LOST.

It'd probably be a better idea if I slept on it, but I'm sure I'll be busy with actual work and other stuff come Monday morning so why not just dive right into it now?

First and foremost, I loved it. It was touching, epic, and provided a satisfying-enough ending. At least for me. All of the character stuff was nicely done and all of the reunions and realizations had me in tears. I nearly emptied out a tissue box! The one scene I needed to happen in the finale was Juliet and Sawyer making their coffee date so when that happened, I was good (and gone). The most unexpected emotional moment was when Vincent came back in the end and laid down next to a dying Jack. Cue the waterworks.

But those LOST producers, they are tricky aren't they?

Ever since the show started, fans have been theorizing that the island is heaven/hell/purgatory. The producers have always said NO. And, well, they certainly had their cake and ate it, too, during the finale.

So no, the island is *NOT* the after-life, but the alternate universe we've been watching this last season *IS* a form of limbo/purgatory. How they could all be there was given a simple explanation by Christian Shepard by saying there is no "now" in this place. This place was "created" by all of them so they could all find each other before they all could move on. It's totally reminiscent of Rose/Jack and Titanic, but I'll take it.

Which means the non-limbo storyline (i.e. the island/real world/etc.) was left pretty open ended. Sure Jack is dead, but Hurley is the new Jacob and Ben is the new Richard. Desmond eventually finds himself back to Penny and baby Charlie with the help of Hurley/Ben while Sawyer, Kate, Claire, Miles, Frank, and Richard all get off the island to lead whatever lives they'll lead. For myself, I'd like to think Miles and Sawyer get into some sort of partnership while keeping in touch with Kate who's helping out with Claire and Aaron. Frank? Still flying. Richard? LIVING. IT. UP.

With that said, the ending probably disappointed some fans who wanted a little bit more closure on the island mythology and/or a connection between the island and the flash sideways. Unfortunately, it turns out the flash sideways had nothing to do with the island except for the fact that the relationships forged there were special enough that they all had to create this limbo to move on together.

And if you think about it, the end is quite fitting considering Jack's oft-repeated "live together, die alone" speech in the first season, because in the end, they all lived together, but died "together" as well.

Cue Michael Giacchino's haunting LOST theme. And we're out.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

French Open: Women's Preview

Last year's champion and this year's 6th seed, Svetlana Kuznetsova will try to reverse her current fortune's and go far in this competition. She should be okay until the fourth round when she faces stiff competition with either 11th seed Na Li or, more likely, 17th seed Francesca Schiavone. In the same quarter as Kuznetsova is the 3rd seed Caroline Wozniacki. She should be the favorite, but with recent injuries, she's a bit uncertain. Wozniacki can either face 14th seed Flavia Pennetta or Lucie Safarova.

Second seed and former finalist Venus Williams anchors this half of the draw, but gets a potentially tricky first round match with former top ten player, Patty Schnyder. Fourth round may see her face off against 15th seed Aravane Rezai or 19th seed Nadia Petrova with possibly dangerous floaters Agnes Szavay and Anna Chakvetadze lurking as well. If the older Williams sister makes it this far, 5th seed Elena Dementieva, 10th seed Victoria Azarenka, or Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez would be her most likely quarterfinal opponents.

Jelena Jankovic, the 4th seed, will yet again try and get her maiden slam. Her early rounds are full of tricky players, but she should be able to reach at least the fourth round where she could face 16th seed Yanina Wickmayer or Daniela Hantuchova. There is also Carla Suarez Navarro acting as potential spoiler. Her quarterfinal challenges include last year's finalist Dinara Safina, former champion Ana Ivanovic, and 8th seed Agnieszka Radwanska.

Finally, but top seed and former champion Serena Williams will look to add more hardware to her already full shelf. Despite only playing one tournament since winning the Australian Open, it's foolish to underestimate her. She looks likely to reach the fourth round where 13th seed Marion Bartoli or 18th seed Shahar Peer awaits her. Four-time champion and currently 22nd seed Justine Henin could face Serena in the quarterfinals but must first get through a struggling Maria Sharapova, the 12th seed. That section also contains 7th seed workhorse Samantha Stosur and Jie Zheng.

Justine Henin d. Jelena Jankovic
Flavia Pennetta d. Elena Dementieva

Justine Henin d. Elena Dementieva

French Open: Men's Preview

World no. 1 Roger Federer will try to keep his hopes of a calendar year Grand Slam hopes alive by defending his French Open title. The road will not be easy for him with a possible second round match with Janko Tipsarevic and third round match with Feliciano Lopez. It gets harder still in the fourth round where he might face fellow compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka or 13th seed hometown boy Gael Monfils. The quarterfinal is full of threats with two players who have beaten Federer on clay recently, Ernest Gulbis and Albert Montanes, lurking as well as top ten seeds Marin Cilic and Robin Soderling. The latter would be a rematch of last year's finals.

Struggling 4th seed Andy Murray is on the same side as the Swiss Maestro and might have the easiest draw out of the top four seeds. Unfortunately, Murray is also the most vulnerable on this surface and must contend with a red-hot Richard Gasquet in the first round with the Frenchman recently winning a title in France, on clay. In terms of clay-court specialists, this quarter doesn't have much, although one could never count out any Spanish players especially seeded Tommy Robredo and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. The player that might get out of this quarterfinal may just be 8th seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or a complete surprise. What do we think of 17th seed John Isner's chances?

On the other end of the draw, former semifinalist and 3rd seed Novak Djokovic is in the same quarter as 6th seed Andy Roddick. Roddick hasn't played a single clay-court tournament and probably has zero expectations for this slam event, while Djokovic will be hungry to disturb the Nadal-Federer dominance. If healthy, Djokovic should cruise to the fourth round where he'll likely meet 16th seed Juan Carlos Ferrero. His potential quarterfinal opponent is 9th seed David Ferrer.

Four-time champion and undisputed clay court king Rafael Nadal will try to dust off his shocking early exit the year before en route to re-claiming this title. Based on current form and known skills, no one looks to bother him all the way through the quarterfinals even with the possibility of going head-to-head with Lleyton Hewitt and 14th seed Ivan Ljubicic. Things get less easy after that with potential match-ups with 7th seed Fernando Verdasco, 12th seed Fernando Gonzalez, or 19th seed Nicolas Almagro in the quarterfinals.

Roger Federer d. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
Rafael Nadal d. David Ferrer

Rafael Nadal d. Roger Federer

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Lost Finale Event

Lost Series Finale Countdown: 1 day

Tonight, 5/22

@8PM EST - Two-hour Enhanced Pilot

Tomorrow, 5/23

@7PM EST - Lost: The Final Journey - Two-hour Retrospective

@9PM EST - The End - Lost Series Finale

Sunday, 5/24

@12AM EST - Jimmy Kimmel Live - Aloha to Lost

Storylines at the French Open

The summer slam season is upon us. On Sunday, tennis fans are all focused on Roland Garros for the official start of the second Grand Slam event of the season, the French Open. And like every tournament, there are story lines afoot...

- Can anyone beat Rafael Nadal? Oh sure, he lost in the fourth round last year and has been hampered with injuries, but you wouldn't know it if you've been paying attention to the clay season so far. This year he went undefeated winning three Masters titles. He also has a dominant 31-1 record in Roland Garros including four championship titles. Based on form and logic, he's the man to beat. Then again, we said this last year, too, didn't we?

- Who will be number 1? Three men have a chance to be number one in the rankings after the tournament. Defending champion, Roger Federer has to reach his 24th consecutive Grand Slam semifinal if he wants to retain his current top ranking. If he does, he will also surpass Pete Sampras' record of total weeks at number one. If Nadal wins the entire tournament and Federer loses before the semifinals, he's the new number one. World no. 3 Novak Djokovic could jump to number one only if he wins the tournament and Federer falls before the quarterfinals.

- Which lady baller will win? Based on current clay form, no one knows. The WTA tour has been more erratic than not the past few weeks with no one player looking dominant. Top ranked Serena Williams has played one tournament since winning the Australian Open while her second ranked sister, Venus Williams, is not known for her clay results. Recent champions, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Ana Ivanovic, are not in-form while four-time champion Justine Henin could be a threat, but only time will tell. With all the craziness, however, I'd look to a surprise (and maybe first-time) winner. Watch out for top ten players such as Jelena Jankovic, Elena Dementieva, Caroline Wozniacki, Samantha Stosur, and Agnieska Radwanska. Dinara Safina, last year's finalist, has struggled, but why not her as well, right?

- What is up with all of the withdrawals and injuries? Last year's US Open champions, Kim Clijsters and Juan Martin Del Potro, are out with injuries. The latter expected to be out until after the US Open! Among the wounded and have also withdrawn are Gilles Simon, James Blake, Nikolay Davydenko, David Nalbandian, Sania Mirza, Carlos Moya, Ivo Karlovic, Urszula Radwanska, Anna-Lena Groenefeld, Sabine Lisicki, Igor Andreev, and Tommy Haas. And we're not even halfway to the tennis season! Yikes.

A look into the men's and women's draws later this weekend.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Thursday Night

Lost Series Finale Countdown: 2 days

It was all about making choices Thursday night in all of the shows that I watched. In Community, Jeff had to choose between Britta and Slater only to make every fan watching gasp when he kissed Annie in the end. That was the big shocked of the episode, but the episode also contained appearances from most of the recurring characters as well as the usual merriment that persists with these group of friends. Going to miss them through the summer. Meanwhile in 30 Rock, Jack had to finally choose between Avery and Nancy. Unfortunately, he didn't really choose as Avery's pregnancy and Nancy's self-sacrifice pretty much made his choice a no-brainer in the end. Matt Damon's guest star role was a bit overhyped. Is it just me or is this show not as funny anymore?

In Fringe, Peter had to decide whether to go back to our world vs. staying in the alt-universe with his biological parents. While I liked the episode as a whole, I wished Peter did a bit more soul searching with his decision. Yes, his biological father seems to be some mad genius, but what about his biological mother? It was nice to see Olivia finally confess her feelings for Peter. Though alt-Olivia going back to our world while our Olivia is imprisoned by Walternate was a nice twist from the writers and a development that would surely keep fans busy during the long summer months.

The choices pretty much stop in my final Thursday show as it was just chaos, death, and fear in the harrowing two-hour season finale of Grey's Anatomy. I admit, I've grown increasingly weary of the show and it's been much easier to poke fun at it than praise it, but I've got to given everyone props for this finale. I was breathless and physically distressed throughout as doctors, nurses, everyone was getting shot by a gunmen. After the episode, I felt as if I aged 20 years or so.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Wednesday Night

Lost Series Finale Countdown: 3 days

Three became two on American Idol last night as Ryan Seacrest sent golden-haired Casey James packing which means Crystal Bowersox and Lee DeWyze will go head to head in the finale. It wasn't the most shocking result of the season, but it was definitely the most anticipated. Before the results however, we had to endure performances from someone who was discovered by Perez Hilton and someone who was discovered on Youtube. God help us all. We also got to see the three remaining contestants go back home and be treated like rock stars. Gotta admit, those montages always get me just a bit teary. After it was all said and done though, it's Lee vs. Crystral. To be honest, this final two reminds me a lot of last year's: the early fan-favorite vs. the dark horse with serious momentum. Great news for me? I love them both and thus finale night, it's ALL good.

What else is ALL good? ABC comedies.

Now I don't watch The Middle, but I think I may just check out the encore showings during the summer, because it frankly looked downright charming. Meanwhile Modern Family ended its phenomenal freshman season by giving us a tightly-written and hilarious episode. So you know, the usual. The whole episode was worthy of mention, but I have to highlight Phil's reactions to thinking he was in trouble with Claire. The mud fight pre-family photo was icing to the cake to an already very sweet season. Finally, Cougar Town delivered another wonderful ensemble showcase as the gang try to spare Bobby's feeling. The getting-to-the-beach and beach scenes were my favorites. It's going to be a long summer with me missing these shows.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Tuesday Night

Lost Series Finale Countdown: 4 Days

Tuesday was another jam-packed night of TV awesomeness mostly due to the epic episodes delivered by Lost and Glee. But before I get to talking about those two, just want to briefly touch on the other shows I watched.

First, there was American Idol where the road was paved for a Lee Dewyze/Crystal Bowersox finale. Click here to read my thoughts on last night's episode. In The Good Wife, Dylan Baker returns as the diabolical Colin Sweeney and the twists and turns of his case was enough to sing praises for the episode, but we also got to see the start of the Carey/Childs alliance as well as the end of Peter's legal troubles. All of this as Julianna Margulies command every scene she's in.

In V's wonderful finale, Elizabeth Mitchell and Morena Baccarin continue to shine as Erica and Anna continue their stand-off. While Anna's duaghter Lisa is quickly becoming one of my more favorite character on the show. Her sly smile in reaction to her mother's agonizing cries (human emotion!) was pitch perfect and made that magnificent moment even better. I was saddened to see Joshua die, only to feel relieved when they brought him back. The episode had it all from the birth of the hybrid to Chad finding out the Visitors' real intentions. The images from around the world with the red clouds in the end were a perfect way to end the season.

And thus we get to the epically epic episodes...

Joss Whedon directing and Neil Patrick guest starring *and* singing. With those alone, I was already looking forward to this episode more than any other Glee episodes. And wouldn't you know it but not only did it deliver, but it gave us MORE. I especially enjoyed the focus on Tina/Artie and was caught off-guard at the poignancy of Artie's dream to be a dancer. That dream sequence flash mob scene with Artie leading the entire mall to "Safety Dance" was one of the more amazing numbers put on by this show. Can't forget the big reveal that Shelby is Rachel's mom. I still have issues with this whole Jesse "befriending" Rachel, but neither here nor there. But finally, Neil Patrick Harris was fabulous. I almost want HIMYM to get cancelled and for him to replace Will Shuester.

The penultimate episode of Lost was the perfect setup for what is sure to be a series finale no one will ever forget. Excuse the hyperbole a bit, but this is pretty much the show of the decade for me and it's SO CLOSE to being done. I can't take it! So in this episode, we get Jacob chanting in Latin, Kate actually asking the right questions, Desmond kicking ass and taking names, Jack choosing his fate, Ben alternately being evil and heartbreaking, Miles cracking jokes, Widmore dying, Ana Lucia making an appearance, Rousseau not being crazy, and... I'm out of breath. Only thing missing was Sun/Jin. Moment of silence. As you can see coherent thoughts on this show is just asking too much this close to The End. And The End will be on this Sunday starting at 7pm for a 2-hr recap special followed by the two and a half hour series finale. SO EXCITED!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Thoughts on Idol's Top 3

Next week is the American Idol finale when the final two will face off to become the next American idol. But first one of the three remaining contestants will have to be voted off. Based on tonight's performances and how they rest of the season has been going, that person should be Casey James giving us a Crystal Bowersox/Lee Dewyze final two.

All three had to perform two songs, one of their own choice and another from a judge. Casey and Crystal's song choices were great especially Crystal's brilliant decision to sing a Melissa Etheridge track, but both didn't exactly wow the judges. Lee, in the meantime, dazzled with a Lynyrd Skynyrd cover making the judges declare him the outright winner of Round One. The praises would continue to Round Two.

Already the underdog, Kara and Randy did Casey no favors by saddling him with the absolutely saccharine and vile "Daughters" by John Mayer. That song is playing in my own personal hell. Ellen, the one judge who doesn't have a music industry background, actually gave the most thoughtful and challenging song choice out of the judges giving Crystal Paul McCartney's "Maybe I'm Amazed." It wasn't perfect, but it was good enough. Front-runner Lee fortunately gets Simon Cowell and in turn the everybody's favorite judge gave Lee a showstopper with "Hallelujah." While the lighting and the gospel choir was just a bit too much, it definitely create A Moment for Lee as all of the judges tell him he just crushed the other two.

With that said, barring some crazy shit happening, which again is KNOWN TO HAPPEN on this show, it should be Lee and Crystal to go head-to-head. Crystal (Adam Lambert, David Archuleta) was the early favorite and was consistently fantastic throughout the competition, but Lee (Kris Allen, David Cook) came from seemingly nowhere and grew week after week after week and has some serious momentum right now. Should make an exciting finale nonetheless! Please Casey, don't ruin it!

Sunday & Monday Nights

Lost Series Finale Countdown: 5 days

As the networks are busy with upfronts this week and with finales, both season and series, around the corner for most shows, everyone seem to be bringing their A game...

Sunday Night

The only thing I watched that night was the finale of Brothers & Sisters and with the exception of the last 5-10 minutes or so, the episode was a bit of a disappointment. It was more whiny and doom-and-gloom from the family as they all still reel from saying goodbye to their precious Ojai company. Saul's out-of-left-field HIV storyline shows potential, but we'll probably get more next season. The big cliffhanger ending included the death of Rob Lowe. Even though it was the worst kept secret ever, they handled that moment surprisingly well. Plus seeing most of the characters injured and shocked was pretty much the extra boost the episode needed.

Monday Night

It was pretty much a TV overload as I saw my usual five shows. The CBS comedies delivered May-Sweeps-worthy episodes. Not only did How I Met Your Mother show us the movie version of Ted's breakup with Stella, but they also kept playing the wonderful Glascow Love Theme from Love, Actually. The climactic scene with Ted in front of the big screen could've been extremely hokey, but I thought it worked. Meanwhile Big Bang Theory gave us an insta-classic episode of how Leonard and Sheldon first met. That event was big enough, but they also managed to get in the creation of The Roommate Agreement, the explanation of their perpetually broken elevator, the first time they met Raj and Howard, and the advents of the show's more notable recurring jokes--Sheldon's multiple knocking and his "spot" on the couch.

The other three shows came from three other different networks. NBC's Chuck seemingly brought back a faceless Shaw as well as Chuck and Ellie's father. Speaking of Ellie, she's in the thick of things now and it's only a matter of time before she finds out about Chuck and his spy-ness. Can I get an AMEN! With one episode remaining, 24 on FOX delivered one of the most harrowing episodes the series has ever done. In fact, this was probably the first episode of this show where I was sincerely terrified of Jack Bauer as he put on a mask and killed everyone and anyone on his way. Next week's two hour series finale is sure to thrill. Finally, the season finale of ABC's Castle involved its usual fun and heartbreak. Fun in the form of the cool spy case and heartbreak in the form of Castle and Beckett trying out the "Ross/Rachel" thing and keeping their feelings to themselves. It's going to be a loooong summer for both of them as well as the fans.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Rafael Nadal Wins Again

Rafael Nadal defeated Roger Federer for the 14th time in the 21 times they have played one another over the weekend in Madrid. Nadal captured his third straight Masters title this year, which also gave him his record-breaking 18th Master title overall one more than Andre Agassi and two more than Federer.

No one should really be surprised at the end result. Even discounting the history between the two, Nadal's clay court form this year has been perfect while Federer has struggled. It's a testament to Federer that despite his difficulties on clay this season, he was able to reach the finals and put up a fight against the King of Clay. Though losing in straight sets 4-6 (5)6-7, Federer was able to play aggressively and mix it up breaking the unbreakable Nadal more than once.

Heading into the second Grand Slam of the year in Roland Garros, which begins next week, four-time champion Nadal is the hot favorite to recapture the title. Defending champion Federer is the next best bet especially in light of his results in Madrid. Plus with Nadal going back to #2 in the rankings, the only time both of them would meet would be in the finals.

For the women, this clay season has given us chock full of surprising winners and champions unable to go the distance. The end result this weekend pretty much encapsulated that with unseeded Aravane Rezai defeated Venus Williams in the final. Venus partnered with her sister Serena Williams to capture the doubles title. Another American sibling duo capture the men's doubles title as Bob and Mike Bryan defeated their rivals Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

A Fedal Final Finally!

Who knew it would take one whole year for the world to see Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal play against one another? Their last meeting was exactly one year ago in the Madrid finals with then world no. 1 Nadal in a tear winning the first Grand Slam of the year and dominating the other Master events leading up to Madrid. Federer in the meantime, reached finals and semifinals but was unable to capture any titles. Of course Federer won in straight sets against Nadal that year using the event as a springboard to a historic summer capturing his first French Open title and getting a record 15th Grand Slam in Wimbledon. Nadal, on the other hand, unceremoniously lost in the fourth round of the French Open and withdrew from Wimbledon.

A year later, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Federer continued his phenomenal Grand Slam record by winning the Australian Open while Nadal has so far gone 14-0 during the clay season grabbing titles in Monte Carlo and Rome. Based on clay season form, Federer will be hard-pressed to repeat his win against the Mallorcan. I'm just hoping it's not one-sided and that both of these champions put on a good show for both of their fans. Tomorrow's clash will be their 21st match. Nadal leads their head-to-head at 13-7 including a dominating 9-2 record on clay.

With his recent wins and the lack of form from other contenders, Nadal will re-take the #2 ranking just in time for the French Open. With a win in Madrid, he would have a record-breaking 18 Master Series titles breaking his tie with Andre Agassi. If Federer wins, he will tie with both Nadal and Agassi with 17 titles. Not sure about the math on this one, but I think no matter what happens in Madrid and at the French Open, Federer should still be able to break Pete Sampras record of weeks at #1 on June 14 where he will be ranked #1 for 287 weeks.

Update: If Nadal wins, Federer has to reach the quarterfinals at the French Open to retain his #1 ranking. If Federer wins, he retains his #1 ranking through the French Open regardless of results (i.e. even if he loses in the first round and Nadal wins the whole thing).

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Looking Forward To... SUMMER

Iron Man 2 opened this past weekend racking up $128 million, good for the fifth highest-grossing weekend of all time. And thus begins summer movie season.

Looking over the list of movies coming out between now and the end of August, I'm not really finding much to feel excited about. Take for instance Iron Man 2. I very much was looking forward to this until the reviews came in. They all pretty much stated that the film was just okay and definitely not as good as the first. I'll probably still end up seeing it, but then what else?

This weekend is the opening of Ridley Scott's Robin Hood starring his Gladiator muse Russell Crowe and to be honest I'm not exactly rushing out in theaters for this one. The rest of May is actually worse as my picks ranged from the stupid (MacGruber and Shrek Forever After) to the oh GOD WHY (Prince of Persia and Sex and the City). No thanks!

June is a veritable wasteland full of lame ass comedies with more lame ass comedies. Only Pixar's Toy Story 3 seems to be worthy of anyone's time. And who amongst you didn't watch the trailer and teared up a bit? The A-Team could be fun and the cast looks good so it's piquing my interests a bit. Maybe if enough of my friends want to see it (so far no one is saying anything), I may see it with them. And I almost forgot, in most likely very limited release, I Am Love with the lovely and superbly talented Tilda Swinton also opens this month.

July has some potential, but for the most part I'll probably wait until I can see a few of them on Netflix. One definite exception to that is Christopher Nolan's Inception starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Marion Cotillard. I've done my best to not read any synopsis or even see any trailers. But how wicked cool is the cast and the poster? Other possibilities include Salt (because Angelina Jolie does summer blockbusters well) and, in limited release and possible Oscar contender, The Kids Are All Right from Focus Features starring Julianne Moore, Annette Bening, and Mark Ruffalo.

August is usually where movies go to die. Or is that September? Not sure. In any case, it's not too bad this year since as pumped as I am in seeing Inception, I'm equally as excited to see Edgar Wright's Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. I'm a bit (okay a lot) of a Wright fanboy ever since Shaun of the Dead, so I'm just disappointed that I don't already OWN this movie. Then there's Eat Pray Love with Julia Roberts and James Franco which looks okay as well as Sundance favorite HappyThankYouMorePlease from director Josh Radnor, also the star of one of my favorite shows How I Met Your Mother. Haven't heard much about the film other than it's a crowd pleaser. Can't think of a better way to end summer than with one of those.

So looking back at my post, the number of films I want to see is higher than expected with eleven possible choices. Last summer I saw five films that eventually made their way to my top ten movies of the year. So I'll hope for the best. What about you?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Weekend Update

- Eighty-eight year old Betty White hosted Saturday Night Live accompanied by some of SNL's more recent female alums: Ana Gesteyer, Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Rachel Dratch, Maya Rudoplh, and Molly Shannon. Most of the jokes were of the "granny says dirty jokes" variety, but it mostly worked in no small part due to White's still pitch perfect comedic timing. Jay-Z was the musical guest and it was touching he dedicated his performance of "Forever Young" to Betty White.

- Another clay court tournament, another uncharacteristic loss from French Open champion Roger Federer as he crashed out of the Estorial semifinals to eventual champion Albert Montanes. Maria Jose Martinez grabbed the Rome title from Jelena Jankovic who managed to defeat both Williams sisters en route to the final. Sam Querrey and John Isner contested the first all-American final in a European clay court tournament in nearly two decades with Querrey taking the title in Serbia. Defending champion Novak Djokovic retired with breathing problems.

Outlook: Give Rafael Nadal his fifth French Open win because none of the other contenders have done anything worthwhile this clay season. Hell if I know who to predict on the woman's side.

- A pair of brothers won The Amazing Race, but it wasn't the one a lot of people wanted to win. Fan favorite cowboy brothers Jet/Cord came in second place to twin brothers Dan/Jordan who ran a strategic and confident final leg. Helped by being upgraded to first class in their international flight, they stayed in front the whole time navigating the streets of San Francisco and finally to Candlestick Park where Phil declared them winners. I'd be lying to say I wasn't disappointed that Jet/Cord didn't win, but I was also very pleased to see Brent/Caite check in a distant third. Here's to hoping for an All-Stars season starring those gentle cowboys.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

I've recently started watching Big Love on DVD. With two episodes left, I'm almost done with the first season. I should be finishing it today and it's only fitting since today is Mother's Day. Why? Because the kids on the show don't just have one mom, but three moms as a result of their family's polygamist ways.

To be honest, I haven't been "into" this first season, but I have heard from many people that it gets better. So I'm going to forge ahead. This is not to say the show doesn't have many good qualities. In fact, among them are the three actresses that play the three wives of Bill Hendrickson as played by Jeanne Tripplehorn, Chloë Sevigny, and Ginnifer Goodwin. My favorite scenes are when all three of them are in the same room.

So to all moms and maternal figures out there, Happy Mother's Day!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Tuesday Night

Yesterday was a bit of an epic day of TV. It started with going to the Paley Center here in New York City to see Jim Parsons of Big Bang Theory fame be interviewed. It was my first time doing anything like this so I was a tad excited and also had no expectations. I was thrilled they aired next week's episode of the show, but it really was fantastic seeing Jim Parsons in person. I think the best word to describe him would be adorable.

Some of my favorite parts of the interview was when he...
  • Got a little emotional when talking about bringing his 4yo nephew to Sesame Street
  • Expressed his desire to see Betty White and Lisa Kudrow to guest star as Mee-Maw and a relative of Penny's respectively
  • Admitted to never watching a Star Trek movie and the audience audibly gasping
Apparently afterward he signed a few autographs. Too bad I had already left to get some dinner, but it was still quite an awesome time. When I got home around 11pm, I decided to play catch up on American Idol and Glee. Not much to say about Idol except to say that Lee Dewyze kicked ass and while she faltered a bit musically, Crystal Bowersox is still an effin' star.

In Glee, it was all about cheesy songs, cheesy choreography, and cheesy music videos. Having just one thing cheesy could've ruined this episode, but the fact that they piled on the cheese and then some kind of made this episode really stand out, not to mention the appearance of Olivia Newton John looking as fierce as ever. Sadly, at this point, I had no choice but to sleep even though all I wanted to do was watch some Lost.

Instead I managed to avoid spoilers this morning even though I knew something "bad" happened based on a few tweets on twitter. At lunch, however, I watched the episode and promptly bawled my eyes out as three of my favorite characters EVER on the show seemingly died. Sayid dying wasn't so much a surprise and I was glad he died a hero and not the zombified creature he'd been for most of the season. But to see both Jin and Sun die as well was just too much. With that said, their death scene was as heartbreaking as I imagined it would be. I completely lost it twice, when Jin told Sun he'd never leave her in Korean and when Hurley started crying on the beach. I mean my goodness who didn't cry with the castaways when they were all in the beach? Lapidus also saw his untimely end. "The End" is definitely nigh.

Whew. Bring on Wednesday.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Amazing Race 16: Final Three

With only the finale to go, we are down to the last three teams on Amazing Race. I realized I haven't blogged about this season at all, but for the most part, I'm happy with how it all shook out with one exception which should be obvious if you've been watching the show. I'll get to that later, but for now here are the three teams racing to win.

Jet & Cord

They are certainly my favorite team and have been since the beginning. They are cordial to each other and to other races and more importantly never get ruffled from setbacks the race had to offer. Of course for them, there were that many setbacks since other than that one leg where they ended up last (and saved), they checked in 4th place of better. In fact they came in first the most of any team this season (4). Unless the other two team luck out big and/or these two have a gigantic mistake, it's easy to see these two come out on top.

Dan & Jordan

My second favorite team took awhile to grow on me. Like the cowboys, they don't really get into inter-team drama. Of course they both fight like brothers, but they also love and support each other like only family can. It's wonderful how well Dan can easily diffuse his more high-strung brother. They've come in first before, using the Fast Forward, and they tend to hover in the middle of the pack. If they hope to win they have to work together better than before and believe they can come in first.

Brent & Caite

Here's the exception to my giddiness over the finale. First, I really do have to give them props for surviving this long and in fact they checked-in first for the first time during the most recent leg. But man I have no idea how they are still here. I'd say luck, but that's probably not giving them enough credit. I guess it's just hard for me to fathom how a team that has displayed utter stupidity and awful teamwork over and over again can be here. The one good thing they did was get rid of Carol/Brandy. I hope hope hope they do not win. Please make it so!

SO in summary I'm hoping a pair of brothers win next Sunday. I don't care which one. They can be wearing cowboy hats or look exactly alike, but as long as one of those two teams win, I'll be happy. If another team wins, well, if would be like such as the Iraq and South Africa and the Asian countries and what was the question again?

King and Queen of Clay Win

With four French Open trophies each, Justine Henin and Rafael Nadal continue their clay domination by winning important tournaments this weekend. For Justine, third time was the charm as she won her first title in her third final since coming back from retirement. She did so by defeating three top 12 players including an in-form Samantha Stosur in the final of Stuttgart.

In the meantime in Rome, Nadal showed the rest of the ATP tour how it's done as he lost only one set the whole tournament to capture his 17th Masters trophy tying him with Andre Agassi for the record. Nadal will look to sweep the clay court Master tournaments and do one better than Agassi in Madrid next. Last year in Madrid, Nadal lost to Roger Federer, who then went on to win the French Open. Federer was ousted in Rome this year by Ernest Gulbis in the second round. Gulbis made good in his upset victory by reaching the semifinals and being the only player to take a set off Nadal.

It's difficult to see other contenders for the French Open crown this year when these two champions are playing. Can the defending champions Federer and Svetlana Kuznetsova reach the same pinnacle? What about former champions and finalists such as Serena Williams, Kim Clijsters, Robin Soderling, Ana Ivanovic, and Dinara Safina? How about in-form players such as Stosur, Flavia Pennetta, David Ferrer, Francesca Schiavone, Fernando Verdasco, and Novak Djokovic? The French Open begins in less than three weeks.