Life in the Slow Lane

June 30, 2009

Photos released of Michael Jackson’s final dress rehearsal

Filed under: Entertainment,Music — pauljlane @ 10:53 am

These images, courtesy of image.net, show Michael Jackson on June 23 as he took part in a final dress rehearsal at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Jackson was preparing for his string of concerts in London that was to begin in July.

Michael Jackson's last show rehearsal at STAPLES Center on JuneMichael Jackson's last show rehearsal at STAPLES Center on June

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June 29, 2009

Fall 2009 television premiere dates – ABC, CBS, CW, Fox, NBC

Filed under: Entertainment,Television — pauljlane @ 12:34 pm

Following are the premiere dates for the fall 2009-10 television schedule for the five major networks. Click here to read more about the new and returning series for the fall.
ABC
Sept. 5: “Saturday Night Football” (8 p.m.)
Sept. 11:  “20/20” (10 p.m.)
Sept. 21: “Dancing with the Stars” (8 p.m.);  “Castle” (10 p.m.)
Sept. 22: “Dancing with the Stars” results show (8 p.m.);  “The Forgotten” (10 p.m.)
Sept. 23: “Modern Family”(9 p.m.); “Cougar Town” (9:30 p.m.)
Sept. 24: “Flash Forward” (8 p.m.); “Grey’s Anatomy” (9 p.m.)
Sept. 27: “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” (7 p.m.); “Desperate Housewives” (9 p.m.)
Sept. 29: “Shark Tank” (8 p.m.)
Sept. 30: “Hank”(8 p.m.); “The Middle” (8:30 p.m.)
Oct. 4: “America’s Funniest Home Videos” (7 p.m.)
Oct. 9: “Ugly Betty” (8 p.m.)
Oct. 16: “Supernanny” (8 p.m.)

CBS
Sept. 17: “Survivor: Samoa” (8 p.m.
Sept. 21: “How I Met Your Mother” (8 p.m.; “Accidentally on Purpose” (8:30 p.m.); “Two and a Half Men” (9 p.m.); “The Big Bang Theory” (9:30 p.m.; “CSI: Miami” (10 p.m.)
Sept: 22: “NCIS” (8 p.m.); “NCIS: Los Angeles” (9 p.m.); “The Good Wife” (10 p.m.)
Sept. 23: “The New Adventures of Old Christine” (8 p.m.); “Gary Unmarried” (8:30 p.m.); “Criminal Minds” (9 p.m.); “CSI: NY” (10 p.m.)
Sept. 24: “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” (9 p.m.); “The Mentalist” (10 p.m.)
Sept. 25: “Ghost Whisperer” (8 p.m.); “Medium” (9 p.m.); “Numb3rs” (10 p.m.
Sept. 26: “Crimetime Saturday” (8 p.m.); “48 Hours Mystery” (10 p.m.)
Sept. 27: “60 Minutes” (7 p.m.); “The Amazing Race” (8 p.m.); “Cold Case” (10 p.m.)
Oct. 4: “Three Rivers” (9 p.m.)

CW
Sept. 8: “90210” (8 p.m.); “Melrose Place” (9 p.m.)
Sept. 9: “America’s Next Top Model” (8 p.m.)
Sept. 10: “The Vampire Diaries (8 p.m.); “Supernatural” (9 p.m.)
Sept. 14: “One Tree Hill” (8 p.m.); “Gossip Girl” (9 p.m.)
Sept. 16: “The Beautiful Life” (9 p.m.)
Sept. 25: “Smallville” (8 p.m.)

Fox
Sept. 12: “Cops” (8 p.m.); “America’s Most Wanted” (9 p.m.)
Sept. 16: “So You Think You Can Dance” (8 p.m.); “Glee” (9 p.m.)
Sept. 17: “Bones” (8 p.m.); “Fringe” (9 p.m.)
Sept. 18: “Brothers” (8 p.m.); “Til Death” (8:30 p.m.); “Dollhouse” (9 p.m.)
Sept. 21: “House” (8 p.m.)
Sept. 27: “The Simpsons” (8 p.m.); “The Cleveland Show” (8:30 p.m.); “Family Guy” (9 p.m.); “American Dad” (9:30 p.m.
Sept. 28: “Lie to Me” (9 p.m.)
Sept. 29: “Hell’s Kitchen” (8 p.m.)
Nov. 7: “The Wanda Sykes Show” (11 p.m.)

NBC
Sept. 13:  “NBC Sunday Night Football” (8 p.m.)
Sept. 14: “The Jay Leno Show” (10 p.m.)
Sept. 15: “The Biggest Loser” (8 p.m.)
Sept. 17:  “Saturday Night Live Weekend Update Thursday” (8 p.m.); “Parks and Recreation”(8:30 p.m.); “The Office” (9 p.m.); “Community” (9:30 p.m.)
Sept. 21:  “Heroes” (8 p.m.)
Sept. 23: “Parenthood” (8 p.m.); “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” (9 p.m.)
Sept. 25:  “Law & Order” (8 p.m.); “Southland” (9 p.m.)
Sept. 26:  “Dateline NBC” (8 p.m.); “Saturday Night Live” (11:30 p.m.)
Sept. 28: “Trauma” (9 p.m.)

Michael Jackson the musician was magical

Filed under: Entertainment,Music — pauljlane @ 11:20 am

I spent a good deal of time over the weekend watching Michael Jackson music videos that were aired in tribute to the pop star, who dies last week due to heart complications.

Photo by The Associated Press

Photo by The Associated Press

Man, I forgot just how good he was.
When you get a chance, find some his videos and take a look. “Bad.” “Thriller.” “Beat It.” All classics.
Even his “second tier” videos were phenomenal. Hardly anyone noticed his last studio album at the start of this decade, “Invincible.” But it was good. Really good. And its lead single, “You Rock My World,” was really good and produced a solid video.
And then there’s “They Don’t Care About Us,” “Scream” (his duet with sister Janet) and “Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough,” any of which would be the career pinnacle for just about any other performer.
Those of us who lived through Jackson’s peak can recall the events that his video premieres were. I didn’t even have much of an interest in music as a pre-teen, but I made sure I caught his videos. I just knew there was something special going on there.
Why did it take until he died for these videos to be pulled out of the vault? His music was outstanding, his showmanship was superb and his instinct for what sounds/looks right was honed to perfection. It will be years until there’s another performer who’s on his level – if another one ever comes around again.

June 25, 2009

Mets’ injuries force many of changes for Bisons

Filed under: Sports — pauljlane @ 1:22 pm

Follow this link to read about the Mets’ injury problems and how the farm system has been affected.

June 24, 2009

‘Superstars’ offers supermodel meltdown, little else

Filed under: Entertainment,Sports,Television — pauljlane @ 1:53 pm

I happened to catch most of “Superstars” on Tuesday night. The ABC series is a revival of a 1970s-80s competition pairing athletes with celebrities in a series of athletic events for no particular reason.

The show was average – no, make that poor – overall, but seeing Bills receiver Terrell Owens become the recipient of a tongue lashing was sort of entertaining. His partner, model Joanna Krupa, lost it after Owens made a mistake on the obstacle course. She began swearing at him and questioning his athletic ability, then wouldn’t let up even after she screwed up later on and led to the team being eliminated.

“What do you get a million for?” she asked T.O. in complete disgust. “Why so cocky?”

The best part was the reaction from Owens, who remained silent until the duo walked off the set at the very end: “I really feel sorry for your boyfriend.”

As for the rest of the show, it’s complete garbage. The action is drawn out, the “drama” is not compelling and there’s just something about seeing millionaires compete alongside a posh resort in the Bahamas that’s off-putting. I would rather stare at a blank TV screen than watch again. Announcer John Saunders provides unintentional comedy, though, in trying to make the proceedings dramatic (as if a race pitting bicyclers against runners could be any more dramatic).

Owens, for his part, was fairly silent on the matter via Twitter: “How about my Superstars performance?”

•••

Word is today that Owens and Krupa will return to the show due to another contestant’s injury as the series progresses. No word on when the bombastic duo will return to the series.

•••

Below is some unedited footage of Krupa’s tirade. Note that the contents are R-rated.

June 23, 2009

‘Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen’ good enough to be worth hype

Filed under: Entertainment,Movies — pauljlane @ 11:47 am

So going into “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” you know there will be plenty of giant robot fights, explosions and rapid-firing guns.

Optimus Prime

Optimus Prime

But the big question heading into this sequel is: Can it possibly live up to the hype that’s been building since the original film came out two years ago?

Simply put: Yes.

Aside from the action – which was pretty sweet, even if it once again was hard sometimes to make out whether the robots were Autobots or Decepticons – there was the same downplayed humor throughout the film that made the first one such a delight (well, a delight in an “action film” sense, anyway). There also were a couple pretty crazy plot twists, but your disbelief needs to be pretty well suspended before you even enter the theater showing a film about talking alien robots, so the jump isn’t that hard to make if you’re a fan.

All of the humans from the original film return, with “Fallen” following Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) as he prepares for college – arranging to keep his long-distance relationship with girlfriend Mikaela (Megan Fox) in the process. He only has a couple days to enjoy school, though, as the Autobots soon seek him out to assist in their efforts to fend off an attack from rejuvenated Decepticon forces.

Wanting to lead a normal life, Witwicky declines Optimus Prime’s offer, only to discover soon after that the enemy is already on his trail (seeing a human transform into a killer cyborg was one of the many superb effects rolled out for this film). Soon, Sam and Mikaela are on the run from the Decepticons, who under the leadership of a general who didn’t appear in the first film (as well as the guidance of a revived Megatron) want to steal the sun’s energy to create a new means to generate new life forms of their race.

The federal government, meanwhile, shuts down the unit that had seen the Autobots working with the military to hunt down rogue Decepticons left on Earth, which forces Capt. Lennoz (Josh Duhamel) to defy orders and lead his troops on a mission to Egypt, where the Sun Harvester machine that could destroy the planet has been hidden for centuries amidst the pyramids.

The toy franchise had countless robots upon which to draw for this film, and the filmmakers failed to disappoint with their selections. As soon as you saw the characters walk past a green dump truck, you just knew that Devastator was about to make an appearance. Soundwave is also here (albeit not in the tape deck form many fans are familiar with), as is his jungle cat minion Rampage, the Autobot motorcycle trio Arcee and Autobot Sideswipe.

As in the first film, Sam’s scenes with his parents provided some slightly uncomfortable comic relief (including his mother unwittingly eating a pot brownie). The Autobot twins Mudflap and Skids, meanwhile, offered non-stop laughs as Sam’s street-talking companions, using various PG-13 slang phrases to taunt their much larger adversaries and each other.

While it’s good to see John Turtorro’s Simmons (the federal agent from the first film) return, how he comes to be uncovered was a bit preposterous (as covered above, though, just a BIT preposterous). The editors did a great job, though, with mixing in topical elements, such as referring to the president by name and throwing in some swine flu humor. While the film nears 2 1/2 hours of running time, there’s enough going on to keep your interest throughout – as well as a convenient out to transition into “Transformers 3.”

Is this film going to receive serious consideration from the Academy? Heck no. But it’s not supposed to. It’s a summer release that knows its role – blow things up, lots of action, a pinch of romance – and performs it to perfection. “Fallen” at least matched its predecessor, if not exceeding it, and – while not offering more than meets the eye – is as satisfying as mindless summer action can get.

GRADE: B

June 22, 2009

Crib Notes for Father’s Day, part 2

Filed under: Life,Parenting — pauljlane @ 9:33 am

As promised in the paper, here is the Crib Notes column I started to write for print, but I didn’t like where it was going so I abandoned the idea.

•••

Nothing given to fatherhood, nothing gained

My children are a few years away yet from the tacky tie and homemade ash tray stage, but I nonetheless am thrilled to celebrate Father’s Day with them today.
Fatherhood is its own reward, but the privilege does have a bit of a price tag, both physical and mental. But when you look at the issue analytically and scrutinize the numbers, it’s clear that no price would be high enough to deter me from daddy duty.
1: Minimum number of shirt changes I perform in a typical day due to Rigby spitting up and/or Penny getting overzealous in her hugs before having the cheese dust/ketchup wiped off her hands/mouth.
A BAJILLION: Number of additional wardrobe changes I would complete, especially after watching Penny so cutely wipe off her own hands/mouth (actually cleaning herself off is a picky detail we’ll get to soon enough).

2-4: Number of hours fewer, per day, that I watch television now.
0: Number of times that chasing Penny around the backyard or pushing Rigby on the swing has gotten old.

3-4: Number of times in a typical day that Penny will cry and/or complain about not getting her way.
20-30: Number of seconds it takes her to get over the disappointment and move on to the next thing, a trait I hope both of our children take with them throughout life.

$50: Rough amount of money I’ve spent while entertaining myself at a bar, movie theater or other late-night hangout since I became a father.
$3,000: Estimated amount of money I’ve saved in that process, as well as foregoing most other nights out to instead spend time with the kids.
400: Number of toys (or so it would seem, at least) enjoying what’s pretty much become permanent residence on the floor of our computer room (since renamed “play room”).
10: Approximate number of toys Penny plays with on a regular basis; the others mainly serve as decorations and/or projectiles.
1,700: Rough number of poopy diapers I’ve changed.
100: Percent of the time that I’ve drawn a laugh during the “smell the stinky feet and lunge backward in mock disgust” routine that I usually perform during said diaper change.

2,200: Estimated number of lost hours of sleep I’ve accumulated since Penny was born in July 2007. I used to sleep about nine hours a night, and in calculating this I used a (maybe generous) number of six hours per night now. I then added about 150 hours in for all of the late-night feedings, extra-early awakenings, etc.5,000: Roundabout number of instances in which Penny’s or Rigby’s smile/laugh has energized me to Popeye-after-eating-spinach levels.
$300,000: Approximate lifetime cost of raising Penny and Rigby (each, not cumulative).
NOTHING: What I’d trade the privilege of spending that money for.
Contact Paul Laneat 693-1000, ext. 116,or paul.lane@gnnewspaper.com.

June 18, 2009

The Palin-Letterman column/post from Night & Day

Filed under: Entertainment,Television — pauljlane @ 1:10 pm

My Palin-Letterman blog post was revised and made into a column for Night & Day. Here is that updated story.

•••

The Sarah Palin-David Letterman feud finally seems to be near an end, which is great for those of us who are sick of hearing about it. That could soon take Palin out of the spotlight she seemed to crave.
In case you missed it, Alaska governor Palin stirred up some controversy last week by calling out Letterman over a joke he made on his CBS late night show. The joke revolved around Palin’s daughter, whom Letterman did not name, getting “knocked up” by Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez while attending a Yankees game.
The joke, Letterman said, was targeted at Palin’s 18-year-old daughter Bristol, who is an unwed mother. Problem is, Palin’s other daughter, 14-year-old Willow, was the one who attended the game.
Letterman apologized, kind of, the day after making the joke, saying he’d “never make jokes about raping or having sex of any description with a 14-year-old girl. I don’t think it’s funny. I would never think it’s funny.”
OK, that should be that, right? I mean, late-night hosts make jokes all the time; that’s what they do, and it’s their constitutional right to do so. She promptly showed up on NBC’s “Today” show to proclaim, “It’s no wonder girls have such low self-esteem in America when a comedian can make a remark like this.” She demanded that Letterman “apologize to young women” everywhere, saying it was “a degrading comment.”
She refused Letterman’s invitation to appear on his show and clear the air, though, instead releasing a statement through her spokeswoman, Meghan Stapleton: “The Palins have no intention of providing a ratings boost for David Letterman by appearing on his show. Plus, it would be wise to keep Willow away from David Letterman.”
First of all, signing off on that final comment is in equally bad taste. Even if Letterman was guilty of bad taste (I don’t know either way), though, it’s humor. Get over it, lady. Go back to Juneau and deal with whatever issue’s bugging the polar bears this week.
Her party has also hopped on the publicity bandwagon. New York Assembly minority leader Brian Kolb of Canandaigua wrote a letter to CBS demanding that the network to fire Letterman over the comments. “Firing Mr. Letterman would send a clear message that CBS will not tolerate any of its employees — even an established media figure like Mr. Letterman — making demeaning and degrading comments about women,” he wrote.
Ladies and gentlemen, our tax dollars at work.
And talk about hypocrisy. Where was Kolb’s outrage when NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” made fun of Gov. David Paterson — a Democrat — for being blind?
Letterman went the extra mile Monday, making a full apology for the episode and saying that it was his responsibility that the joke was misinterpreted. Palin accepted the apology, but it was her attempt to grab publicity by making it an issue that led to any of this happening.
I accuse these people of trying to grab attention. I could be wrong. I’m sure, on some level, they believe their actions are just, and as a parent I can’t completely fault Palin for standing up for her daughter (who didn’t need defending, but still). Even so, it was a joke, and she could have the same effect by calling Letterman privately and complaining. From the instant this hit the press, her outrage seemed ingenuine.
If I got so disturbed every time someone made fun of my speed on the basepaths at the company softball game, I’d be a permanent crying mess balled up in the corner saturated in self-pity.
You have to see humor for what it is sometimes, and accept that if you’re in the public eye, you’re open to having shots taken at you from time to time.
But then again, standing up for one’s family sure looks good come presidential nomination time.

June 17, 2009

Excellent ‘Up’ shows no signs of dropping

Filed under: Entertainment,Movies — pauljlane @ 4:05 pm

We took Penny last weekend to see “Up,” the latest Pixar animated film about a man pixar_upwho uses hundreds of balloons to float his house to South America to fulfill his wife’s lifelong wish.

Aside from seeing Penny love the film (and love the movie-going experience in general – she kept asking to go to the “moonies” for days after the viewing), we saw a  darn good film. Pixar always puts out a good product, but “Up” was, as my wife put it, one of the saddest films ever (I’d choose a word like sentimental instead of sad, but the idea still applies).

Indeed it was sad in many ways, and in that fashion it was definitely directed as much to adults as children. And viewers of all ages have continued to turn out, as the film earned $30.8 million last weekend and earned $187.4 million in its first 17 days of release, according to Box Office Guru. It could end up being the top-grossing film of the entire year.

“Up” has joined rare air, as it and “Shrek 2” are now the only two films to have earned more than $30 million in each of their first three weekends, Box Office Guru reported. Word of mouth and critical response have helped “Up” retain its lofty ticket sales, and all of the praise is warranted. This might not have been the best of the computer-animated film lot, but it was pretty good.

Box Office Mojo and many other analysts project “Up” to surpass the $300 million mark, which among animated films would rank it only behind “Shrek 2” ($436.5 million, No. 4 all-time), “Finding Nemo ($339.7 million, No. 15 all-time), “The Lion King” ($328.5 million, No. 18 all-time)  and “Shred the Third” ($320.7 million, No. 19 all-time) on the all-time box office earnings chart, according to numbers from Box Office at Hollywood.com.

In terms of quality, I would put “Monsters Inc.,” “WALL-E” and the original “Shrek” above “Up,” but that should in no way diminish the film’s superior quality. It will likely end up among the summer’s best offerings – both in earnings and quality – and deserves any praise it gets.

As Hollywood.com’s Paul Dergarabedian put it, “How amazing is this idea” ‘Ed Asner, box office star,’ ” speaking about the voice of the lead character. That, along with last year’s nearly voiceless “WALL-E,” proves once again that good animation and a great story will outlast star power any day of the week.

Now where’d I put those “Toy Story” DVDs?

June 16, 2009

Donald Trump brought in to revive pro wrestling show

Filed under: Entertainment,Sports,Television — pauljlane @ 4:07 pm

Monday was a rare instance in which I tuned in to pro wrestling, and I was greeted with the “news” that Donald Trump was buying the WWE’s “Raw” show that airs Monday nights on USA Network.

Donald Trump

Donald Trump

The storyline came complete with Trump making a grand announcement via satellite that next week’s show (June 22) wold air commercial-free in an attempt to win fans back.

I am thankfully beyond the point of believing that the stories that appear on WWE are real, but NBC released a statement that indicates they’re playing the angle up for all it’s worth (NBC and USA Network are owned by the same company).

“The Monday Night RAW franchise has been one of the top cable franchises since its launch 17 years ago,” said  Trump in the release. “I’m going to do things on the show that have never been done or seen before.”

The move seems to be a bit desperate, but give WWE chairman Vince McMahon – always a shrewd businessman – credit for at least trying to pump life back into his product.

WWE will never regain its glory days of a decade ago, when eight-figure viewership was common. “Raw” still draws decent ratings hovering around 5 million viewers each week, but it seems that the ability to draw in new fans – like what was done in the 1990s with The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin – is gone.

This move might just revive interest in fans like me, who grew up during those glory days and have since (basically) moved on. It might also get WWE some press, although the story has largely been ignored to date by most major media outlets.

Whether Trump can breathe fresh air into pro wrestling remains to be seen. But at least McMahon has thought of a stunt that doesn’t involve the fake violating and/or death of anyone. As for Trump, well, I can’t really question someone who has the money that he has, and his name can’t get more soiled than it does with “Celebrity Apprentice,” so good luck.

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