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Posts tagged ‘TV’

Spring Entertainment Roundup Part 2

Here’s what I have been listening to and watching over the past few months. As always, comments are kindly welcome.

CDs

Ed Sheeran “X (Wembley Edition) The expanded edition of his hit album “X” with 8 additional songs. So you get the hits like “Sing,” “Thinking Out Loud” and “Photograph” as well as new songs like “Touch and Go” and “Lay It All on Me” (w/ the group Rudimental). Grade: A

Daughtry “Baptized” The fourth album from American Idol alumni Chris Daughtry and his band. Stylistically he hasn’t changed much since his debut, I was hoping he would mix it up some. Highlights include “Waiting for Superman” and “Long Live Rock & Roll” (where he name checks major acts from the 70’s and 80’s). Grade: B

Daughtry “Break the Spell” The third album from American Idol alumni Chris Daughtry and his band. Highlights include “Crawling Back to You,” “Outta my Head” and the title track. Grade: B

Elliott Yamin “Let’s Get to What’s Real” Elliott’s 3rd album is his most R&B album to date. It’s real music played by real musicians. He reminds me of Michael McDonald some, with his white-boy soul. Grade: B

Charles Kelly “The Driver” This is the first solo album from Charles Kelley of Lady Antebellum fame. He doesn’t stray too far from the fold. I could imagine most of these on a Lady A album. Guests include: Dierks Bentley, Stevie Nicks and Miranda Lambert. Highlights include the Grammy-nominated title track and the blues-rock ballad ‘The Only One Who Gets Me.” Grade: B-

Dixie Chicks “The Essential Dixie Chicks” The country trio is finally heading back on the road this summer. So I picked up this collection to remind myself of all the great songs they have in their song catalog. It is easy to hear their influence in a lot of the young singers out there. Grade: A

Rihanna “Music of the Sun” The first album from the superstar. I needed to recover from the lousy “ANTI.” It contains the radio hit “Pon de Replay.” Lots of reggae and dancehall touches on this album. It showed she was an artist to watch. Grade: B-

Boyz II Men “Twenty” Celebrating 20 years as a group, this double album has 13 new songs as well as 8 re-recorded Boyz II Men classics. Nothing new really, but still likable. They still have their trademark harmonies. Grade: B

DVDs

The Last Five Years
Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan star in this movie musical about a young couple’s romance and dissolution over the course of the last 5 years. The interesting thing is it has very little dialog, and the story is told through the songs. His story starts at the beginning, and hers starts with the end. I thought it was very well done. Grade: A-

Sicario
Emily Blunt leads an all star cast including Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro. She plays an FBI agent who gets involved with the DEA and helping with the war on drugs on the Mexico and American borders. It’s a situation where nobody seems to win. Grade: B+

A Most Violent Year
It’s 1981 in New York City. This drama stars Jessica Chastain and Oscar Issac, as a married couple who run a heating oil company in a very competitive environment. She’s the daughter of a mob boss. He is an immigrant who is trying to make his way in a tough business. The title was a little misleading… not very violent in my opinion. But a good character study about striving for the American Dream. Grade: B-

Fifty Shades of Grey
OK, I had to see it to see what the fuss was about. Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan star. He’s a millionaire with a kink fetish; she’s the naïve student who falls for the wounded millionaire. It wasn’t sexy. It wasn’t romantic. It was just sort of like, why is this a phenomenon? I did like the music, but that’s about it. I can’t believe there are 2 sequels coming. Grade: D

Cake
Jennifer Aniston stars in this drama that deals with some heavy issues. She plays Claire, who is a pain pill addict who is trying to get by. One of her friends kills herself and she find herself investigating her life, while trying to put hers back together. Claire was in a horrible car wreck, where her child died, and from that she is now in chronic pain. Grade: A-

Movies

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice
The sequel to 2013’s Man of Steel, brings back Henry Cavill as Superman going against Ben Affleck as Batman. Bruce Wayne has been watching what has been going on with Superman, and is not sure that he can be trusted. So Batman takes on trying to bring Superman down. But they have to come together to fight a new enemy that has been created by Lex Luther — Doomsday. Plus Wonder Woman shows up too. I hated the previous movie, “Man of Steel.” This is better, but not by much. The actors are all fine… what I have issues with is the direction and writing. Plus, why do these movies have to be so long? In the end, it’s all a big commercial for the Justice League movies. Grade: C+

Deadpool
Ryan Reynolds stars as the title character in the latest Marvel super hero movie. He’s foul mouthed, snarky and mischievous. I was not familiar with this character at all. Overall, I liked it, didn’t love it. I had a problem with the violence, and it wasn’t as fun as I thought it would be. There were some similarities to “Guardians of the Galaxy” — offbeat factor, the love of old music — but that was a much better movie in my opinion. I doubt I would see a sequel. Grade: B-

Zootopia
The latest movie from Walt Disney Animation imagines a world where all the animals get along and work at various jobs. Judy Hopps is a bunny who becomes a police officer in the city, and has to work with Nick, the fox, to solve why some of the animals in the city are missing. Featuring the voices of Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman and Shakira (who sings a few songs too). The movie is fun and colorful and like a lot of Disney cartoon works on couple of levels. I enjoyed it. Grade: B+

TV

The Passion Live
The Passion Live is the latest of TV’s live spectacles (The Wiz, Grease). This one was a bit of a mixed bag… not really a musical per se, and not all the way live either. The Passion tells the story of Jesus in the last few hours of his life. It was hosted by Tyler Perry, and filmed in and around New Orleans. The segments not on stage were filmed beforehand, only the action on the stage was filmed live. I found it interesting that they used mostly pop songs, and not religious songs for it. So you got songs from Phillip Phillps, Katy Perry and Tina Turner … sung by a group of artists like Chris Daughtry, Seal, Prince Royce and Trisha Yearwood. Some of the songs worked, others did not. And then when the story wasn’t being told, they showed a large lighted cross being carried through the streets of the city, plus interviews with people along the way. Overall, it was just an OK show. Not something I see as a yearly event like the producers would like it to be. Grade: C

Dead 7
SyFy channel brings together a bunch of has-been boy band singers for a zombie western. So you get Joey and Chris from NSync; Nick, Howie and AJ from Backstreet Boys; Jeff from 98 Degrees and Eric-Michael from O-Town. Plus Latin-pop singer Jon Secada too. I was surprised how straight it was played…. I was hoping for a campy movie like a “Sharknado”… but it played more like a very bad zombie movie that shouldn’t have been made in the first place. Stick to singing guys! At least BSB is working on a new album. Grade: D

That’s all for this time. Please sound off in the comment below. I would love to ehar what you are watching and listening to.

KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Real Men Wear Kilts lines. They make great gifts for birthdays, anniversaries and more.

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Goodbye to Glee

Glee recently ended its run after 6 seasons on Fox. Though the show suffered the last few seasons in quality, there is a lot I am thankful for with it. Plus I know I will miss the great musical numbers and fun, loveable and relatable characters.glee-cast

When the show first premiered in 2009, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. Created by Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan, the show was described as the anti-High School Musical. (And I am a fan of that Disney series of movies). I saw the first episode, and was impressed with the level of talent among the kids in the Glee Club. But I can’t say it won me over that first episode. But into the first season, I came to love the show and it’s stars.

There was Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison), Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch), Rachel Barry (Lea Michele), Finn Hudson (Cory Monteith), Kurt Hummel (Chris Colfer), Noah ‘Puck’ Puckerman (Mark Salling), Mercedes Jones (Amber Riley), Tina Cohen Chang (Jenna Ushkowitz), Quinn Fabray (Dianna Agron), and Artie Ambrams (Kevin McHale). Later seasons brought us Britney S. Pierce (Heather Morris), Santana Lopez (Naya Rivera), Sam Evans (Chord Overstreet) and Blaine Anderson (Darren Chris). These misfits all came together in song, and the world is a better place for it.

Like a lot of gay teens, I totally felt left out and different growing up. I was an outcast or misfit myself. I so wanted to be in the ‘”in crowd” and be popular. I guess plenty of other people could identify with this feeling and why we latched on to “Glee.” We became “Gleeks” — a person who marches to the beat of their own drum, and is not afraid to sing about it.

I love the fact that you had openly gay teenagers on the show. It was a big deal at the time, and the producers took a lot of heat for it. Today, with how things have progressed as far as gay rights, I’d like to think that “Glee” had something to do with it. I also enjoyed the relationship between Kurt and his father. This was also something you hadn’t seen before on TV, with a Dad (Mike O’Malley) being supportive of his gay son.

The musical numbers were always great, and gave us many memorable moments. I have around 10 of the “Glee” CDs and listen to them often. Their interpretations are often as good as or better than the originals. And who can forget their mash-ups, where they put 2-3 songs together in a medley to dazzling results. I also love how much joy those songs/performances brought to the world. It looked like the kids were having so much fun in those scenes. I would have loved to be in that club!

I love that the show had songs from all different genres: Broadway, pop, rock, R&B, folk and more. There were often times I heard a song on the show first, only to find out who the original artist was later.

It’s a shame that so far the stars of the show have not gone onto successful recording careers: Darren Chris, Amber Riley, Lea Michele and Naya Rivera all have great voices. Maybe the next stop is Broadway for some of them.

I also want to mention Cory Monteith. What a tragedy. He was fantastic in the role of Finn Hudson, and I cried when I heard that he died. He may be gone, but his songs and acting will live on. I loved the fact that they brought back the original performance of “Don’t Stop Believin” from the pilot episode, it had me all teary eyed.

So goodbye, “Glee” — it was great having you around for the last 6 years. I know that the show and songs will always have a special place in my heart. The quote on the plaque in the last shot said it all: See the world not as it is, but as it should be.

KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Real Men Wear Kilts lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

Winter Entertainment Roundup Part 2

Part 1 dealt with movie releases, part 2 will deal with TV shows, home videos and music releases. What have I been watching and listening to this winter:

Home Video

Enough Said
A cute romantic comedy that was the final movie from James Gandolfini. He stars with Julia Louis-Dreyfus. They played divorced singles looking for love in the modern world. Turns out that he (Gandolfini) is the ex-husband of one of Julia’s clients. Grade: B+

The Maze Runner
The latest movie adapted from a YA novel series. This one is about bunch of young kids trapped in a remote location, that is surrounded by a giant maze. The maze has monsters and traps in it and no one has been able to escape. For me, it was just OK, a bit of a creature feature. Grade: C+

Pride
A true story from Britain about a group of gays and lesbians who help the striking coal miners in England during the early 80’s. Very heartwarming seeing the walls break down with these 2 different groups. Plus some fun 80’s songs on the soundtrack. Grade: A-

The Past
The latest movie from director Asghar Farhadi, this emotional drama tells the story of 2 exes meeting up to dissolve their marriage, so the wife can marry a new man. The ex husband stays with his former wife and new lover, and secrets from the past come out that put their relationships in a new perspective. Subtitled. Grade: A-

How to Train Your Dragon 2
The favorite for this year’s best animated film Oscar (it lost), tells the tale of Hiccup and his dragon as they find new lands and a villain who wants to turn all dragons into soldiers in his dragon army. Of course, there are some great flying sequences and the requisite sad and tragic part too. I am sure it played better on the big screen than on home video. Grade: B-

The Sapphires
Based on a true story of 4 aboriginal girls who form a singing group that tours Vietnam to entertain the soldiers. Chris O’Dowd stars as their manager and love interest for the older sister. A nice “feel-good” movie that has some great soul songs from the 1960’s. It also sheds some light on the racism in Australia at the time. Grade: B+

Call Me Kuchu
A documentary about LGBT life in Uganda. Not an easy movie to sit through. You see how much gay people are going through there, while in the US we are getting more and more rights and visibility all the time. It is very sad and heartbreaking to see and listen to their stories. Grade: A-

CDs

Madonna “Rebel Heart”
Coming soon… on another blog.

Lady GaGa and Tony Bennett “Cheek to Cheek”
Tony and GaGa seem like they are both having a good time. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Yes, you have heard a lot of these songs before (covered by other artists), but there are a few I was not so familiar with. The songs were expertly arranged with the big band. Grade: B+

Kenny Chesney “The Big Revival”
Kenny’s back with more of his brand of country rock. The first single “American Kids” is his best song in years for me. Not much new stylistically, but still dependable. Grade: B+

Justin Timberlake “The 20/20 Experience — 2 of 2”
A definite improvement over the horrible Part 1, Justin brings us a better set of songs this time with guest including Drake and Jay Z. Highlights include the Jackson’s inspired ‘Take Back the Night” and “Not a Bad Thing” — his best song in years, and one that reminds me of his greatness. Still think the songs go on too long. Grade: B

Taylor Swift — “1989”
Her first official pop album, and it is full of hits. I always thought she was more pop than country anyway. I for one, hope she doesn’t go back. Madonna was write in singing her praises as a songwriter. She definitely writes some catchy songs. I find myself listening to this one a lot. Grade: A-

Jason Aldean — “My Kinda Party”
I’m a little late to the party with this guy. But I am interested in seeing his co-headlining tour with Kenny Chesney, so I figured I would give him a listen. Includes his duet with Kelly Clarkson on “Don’t You Wanna Stay” as well as other hits like “Dirt Road Anthem” and the title track too. His music fits with the current bro-country vibe. Grade: B

Sam Smith — “In the Lonely Hour”
He recently won 4 Grammys for this album. As an openly gay soul singer, he is sure making his mark in the world of pop music. He definitely lives up to his hype as the male Adele. Grade: A-

Nick Jonas — “Nick Jonas”
As a long-time fan of the Jonas Brothers, I have loved Nick’s voice for years. I would tell people how great he was. This is his 2nd solo effort if you count his album with the Administration. That one was very much in the vain of a John Mayer. This one he is going for a Justin Timberlake/Robin Thicke vibe. Parts of it work, like the hit first single “Jealous”. Other parts not so much for me… including the cussing. I get that he is trying to break free of the Disney label, but this album is a bit of a transition for him — as he is still finding his sound as an adult. Grade: C+

Kelly Clarkson — “Piece by Piece”
Her first pop album in years, includes the lead single “Heartbeat Song”. I am liking the album after a few listens… she has one of the best voices in the current pop scene. Stand out tracks include “Invincible” cowritten by Sia, “Run Run Run” with John Legend and “Nostalgic” (with it’s 80’s overtones). Grade: B

TV

American Idol
Season 14 is off and running. New to this season was the unveiling of the Top 24 in the first episode with all of them singing in the shadows. There are always so many talented people who try out for this show. Glad that they have cut back on the crazies in the audition episodes. Grade: B

Empire
From Lee Daniels, comes a look at the world of hip-hop music centered on one powerful family. Starring Academy Award nominees Taraji P. Henson and Terence Howard as ex spouses who are fighting for control of the company. They have three sons, and one will be picked as successor to run the company. Enough drama to fill a few shows, plus songs from Timbaland too. What I don’t like about the show is what I thought… the rap songs. And I am a bit concerned about how this show makes blacks look, as far as sterotypes. But the story of the gay son, is a story we haven’t seen before and is very refreshing. Grade: B+

My Husband’s Not Gay
A special that was a potential pilot for a series on the TLC channel. It concerns a bunch of Mormon couples in which the husbands all experience “SSA” or same-sex attraction. They talk about it like it is ADD, and something that can be handled by prayer and communication. I don’t think the guys are gay as much as bisexual. And I don’t get what’s in it for the women. I would rather live my life honestly and openly about myself. It makes organized religion look bad. Grade: C

Marvel’s Agent Carter
I really enjoyed Marvel’s Agent Carter. If you loved Hayley Atwell in “Captain America: The First Avenger” — this limited series expands on her story after WWII. It’s nice to see a sexy crime fighter kicking some butt in high heels. I like a show that doesn’t take itself too seriously. The pilot was great, but subsequent episodes have just been OK. Grade: B-

The Real World: Skeletons
This latest season of the reality pioneer, adds a twist like the last season did. This time the 7 strangers are in Chicago, and they all have secrets from the past that are going to come and haunt them literally. So every few days, a new “skeleton” or 2 comes to the house and moves in for a few days to wreck havoc on the particular roommate and their fellow roommates. So far, I am not liking it as much as last season when all of their exes moved in at the same time. Grade: C+

So what have you been watching and listening to this winter? I would love to hear from you.

KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Real Men Wear Kilts lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

Home Entertainment Round-Up

I love movies. When I get wrapped up in the story, acting and direction, time flies by. And you feel good afterwards. Other times, you can be — when is this damn thing going to end! So what movies from the past spring and summer did I like or didn’t like? What should I rent or stream on Saturday night? Read on…

Locke (Tom Hardy). An interesting independent movie, that only has 1 guy on screen for the entire movie as he drives to be there for the birth of his child. Tom Hardy was fantastic, and the movie keeps you interested as the story unfolds. Final say: A-

Jersey Boys (Christopher Walken, John Lloyd Young). The movie version of the Tony award winning musical about Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Directed by Clint Eastwood, and featuring some great songs that are familiar to most. Sometimes it seems like the music is more of a backdrop than the star, as there is a lot of drama that went down on their way to fame and fortune. Final say: B-

22 Jump Street (Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill). The stars of the original “21 Jump Street” reboot are back for more. If you loved the first one, the second one was just as good for me. I especially loved Jillian Bell, she steals every scene she is in. Final say: B+22_Jump_Street_11

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone). The 2nd of the new Spider-man movies. Jamie Foxx plays the villain. I enjoyed it at the time, but I have to say it was a pretty forgettable movie. I couldn’t tell you the plot now… and it was just a few months ago that I saw it. Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone have a nice chemistry in it. Final say: B-

X-Men: Days of Future Past (Hugh Jackman, Michael Fassbender). Combining the casts of the original trilogy with the stars of the reboot was a great idea. The cast is a bit overstuffed with characters, so not everyone has a chance to shine. But overall it was good to have director Bryan Singer back. Final say: B+

Neighbors (Zac Efron, Seth Rogen). A raunchy comedy that pits a bunch of frat boys against the young married couple next door. I enjoyed it, but still a bit forgettable. Final say: B-

Maleficent (Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning). A live action take on the Sleeping Beauty story. Angelina Jolie is perfectly cast as the title character. The story has a new take on a classic villain, and why she is as she is. Grade: A-

Edge of Tomorrow (Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt). It has been retitled: “Live Die Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow” for the home video release. It bombed in the theatres, but I actually liked this movie. It is sort of a sci-fi “Grounghog Day” with Cruise’s character having to relive the same day over and again. Action and laughs too. Grade: B+

 

Shows

Extant (Halle Berry, Goran Visnjic). It started out promising at least. Berry plays an astronaut who returned to Earth after a 13-month solo mission. Problem is she is pregnant. Plus she has a son who is a robot created by her husband. I found myself losing interest in this as it went along. In the end, I just didn’t care what happened. Final say: C

Rising Star (Josh Groban, Brad Paisley). The latest in the reality singing competition. I hate watched the entire series. This show with the “Raise the Wall” real-time voting didn’t bring anything new to the genre despite the talented people involved. I am sure it will be a 1-season show like ABC’s “Duets”. Final say: C-

So what have you been watching at the movies and on TV this past summer? I would love to hear your thoughts about what excited you and what didn’t.

KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Real Men Wear Kilts lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

Movie Stars I’d Love to See on the Small Screen (Part 1)

 

TV is no longer the ugly step-child of movies. I read an article recently that mentioned that up and coming writer-directors are more interested in working on TV than in films these days. With outlets such as HBO, AMC, Showtime and regular networks too, it has never been a better time to be on television. Jessica Lange has found a successful 2nd act with her stint on “American Horror Story.” And this past season brought us Matthew McConaunghey and Woody Harrelson on “True Detective” on HBO. So what movie stars would I love to see on the small screen?

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The Women

Michelle Pfeiffer
Star of The Fabulous Baker Boys and Hairspray. She would be perfect for a family matron on a night-time soap.

Nicole Kidman
Star of Moulin Rouge and The Hours. With hubby Keith Urban on TV with Idol, I could see Nicole leading up a lawyer or detective show herself.

Catherine Zeta-Jones
Star of Chicago and Traffic. I totally could see her doing some sort of variety show.. she can sing, dance, act. Something like the old Tracey Ullman show.

Annette Benning
Star of American Beauty and The Kids Are All Right. I would pick something offbeat for her… someone with mental illness or disability.

Reese Witherspoon
Star of Legally Blonde and Walk the Line. Comedy is her forte, so something about being a faded beauty queen trying to get her life back together.

Demi Moore
Star of Indecent Proposal and Ghost. I know this is a bit of a wild card pick… but when you look back at her career, she can act. Before she was better known for who her husband was. I would totally have her call Ryan Murphy for the next American Horror Story.

Stay tuned for Part 2 about the men I would like to see on the small screen next week. Let me know your thoughts.

KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Real Men Wear Kilts lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

Happy 2nd Anniversary, Kilt Man!

Wow! I can’t believe it has been 2 years since I started this blog. Time sure does fly when you are having fun. Writing this blog has been a learning and growing experience for me. I had no idea at the time that it would come this far! I have realized that I am stronger than I ever gave myself credit for. That I have a voice and it matters. When I was younger, I doubted myself so much. And thought I was boring. I am happy that I have grown into the confident, independent, free-thinking and free-spirited person I am today. And I am glad I can share my love of writing with you.Happy Anniversary

Here are some of the highlights of my 2nd year:

• Music
From concert reviews (Madonna, J Lo, Lady Gaga and more) to lists of hunks in country and pop music, to favorite Christmas albums — music is and always will be one of my favorite topics to talk about.

• Gay Rights
It is amazing how fast gay rights are advancing in this country. It is about time, America! I touched on bullying, the election, supportive celebrities, the Boy Scouts, coming out and more as far as gay-related topics. I am sure with the decision on accepting gay Scouts, plus the upcoming Supreme Court decisions — there will be continue to be plenty of discussions about gay rights and marriage equality.

• Movies/TV
I have talked about how to fix American Idol, to my Oscar picks, to reviews of new shows and movies. I strive to be the pop culture expert on the web for my readers. I love and appreciate all that it takes to make a hit movie, an engaging drama or a fun diversion.

• Serious Stuff
Life is not all fun and games. I have touched on spirituality, self acceptance, your worth in society, friends v. fuck buddies, breaking stereotypes and more. Like anyone I have my down times, and wonder what life’s really about.

I look forward to more entertaining and thought provoking topics in Year 3. Coming soon — the eBook from Year 1. Details will be posted soon. Thanks to all my faithful followers for another great year. Please remember to comment on the posts — I love to hear from my readers.

KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and  Rock the Kilt lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

Goodbye 90210/Smash

Saying goodbye is never fun or easy. Two of my favorite shows are ending in a few weeks. One was a reboot of a classic Aaron Spelling soap, the other was a pedigreed show that never quite lived up to expectations. I am talking about 90210 on the CW and Smash on NBC.

The original Beverly Hills, 90210 ran for 10 seasons on Fox from 1990 to 2000. It launched the careers of Jennie Garth, Shannen Doherty, Jason Priestly and Luke Perry. The reboot 90210 debuted in 2008 and will be ending its five year run this coming May. Though not as long running as the original, it still had a decent run (compared to the rebooted Melrose Place which only had 1 season).90210

90210 concerned a bunch of rich kids in Beverly Hills, first attending West Beverly High and then California University, if going to college at all. This version at least added some people of color, with Tristin Wilds as Dixon and Michael Steger as Navid. It also updated viewers on some of their favorite ladies from the original series in the first year or 2 of the show.

I watched all of season 1, part of season 2, missed season 3, and picked it up again for seasons 4 and 5. There was always plenty of beautiful people having a lot of drama in their lives with school, careers and love lives. It seemed like everyone dated everyone on that show. And they had a lot of fun too, fabulous parties and crazy getaways.

I got to know these people and liked spending time with them. Shenae Grimes as Annie Wilson; Tristan Wilds as Dixon Wilson; Jessica Stroup as Erin Silver; AnnaLynne McCord as Naomi Clark; Michael Steger as Navid Sharazi, Jessica Lowndes as Adrianna Tate-Duncan; and Matt Latner as Liam Court. They fought, they loved, they cried, but at the end of the day they were still friends.

Smash debuted in 2012 as a mid-season replacement on NBC. Headlined by Katherine McPhee and Megan Hilty as dueling divas, both vying for the same job — playing Marilyn Monroe in a fictional Broadway musical named Bombshell. Other stars include Debra Messing, Anjelica Huston, Jack Davenport and Christian Borle.

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Best Christmas Albums/Specials

I love the holidays. The decorations, the food, the parties. I also love listening to Christmas music and watching holiday specials too. This year, there are new Christmas CDs from Blake Shelton, Ceelo Green, Lady Antebellum, Rod Stewart and more. Here are some of my favorite Christmas albums:

  • Barbra Streisand — A Christmas Album
    One of the most enduring Christmas albums ever, this album came out originally in 1967. Her version of “Jingle Bells” is a classic, other highlights include “The Christmas Song” and “The Lord’s Prayer.”
  • Josh Groban — Noel
    David Foster did a fantastic job producing this album. The arrangements are so lush and beautiful. Add in the angelic voice of Josh, and you have a holiday classic. Highlights include: “The First Noel” with Faith Hill and  “Little Drummer Boy”.
  • NSync — Home for Christmas
    Sure, they were a boy band, but they were also great singers. What I love about this CD, is how many original songs are on there. And a decent amount of uptempo songs too. I love Justin, but the group was special too. Highlights include: “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays” and “O Holy Night” (A Cappella).nsync-home-for-christmas
  • A Very Special Christmas
    The original and still the best. A wide variety of artists singing Christmas songs, new and old. Stand outs include Madonna “Santa Baby” and the Pointer Sisters “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.” Plus proceeds go to the Special Olympics.
  • Patti LaBelle — This Christmas
    This one always gets played in our house. Secular and religious songs, both done justice by this classy lady. Highlights include “If Every Day Could Be Christmas” as well as the title track.
  • Vanessa Williams — Silver and Gold
    Call it a smooth jazz Christmas. Perfect for an afternoon spent baking holiday cookies, or an intimate dinner party. “Go Tell It on the Mountain” is one the highlights.
  • Natalie Cole — Holly & Ivy
    Taking after her father, Miss Natalie does a great job on this album. Backed by a swinging big band and orchestra, highlights include “Jingle Bells” and “Caroling, Caroling”.
  • Mariah Carey — Merry Christmas
    A diva Christmas. Traditional songs as well as new ones. Highlights include “All I Want for Christmas is You” and “Joy to the World”.
  • Babyface — Christmas with Babyface
    Great arrangements from one of the top producer/songwriters of the last few decades. Only 1 original song in the bunch, but a reggae version of “Little Drummer Boy” is among the new versions of classic songs.

Specials

  • The Year without a Santa Claus
  • Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
  • Santa Claus is Coming to Town
    These specials from my childhood, are still great today. They were all from Rankin and Bass and featured stop motion animation. The stories, characters and songs all hold up well. There’s a reason they are still shown every year.
  • A Charlie Brown Christmas
    Another Christmas classic. If this was made today, I doubt it would get on the air. But to have a Christmas special that talks about the birth of Jesus being the real reason of the season is a wonderful thing.
  • Pee Wee’s Christmas Special
    Paul Reuben’s alter ego put on a Christmas special in his Playhouse. Fun for adults and kids alike.
  • Frosty the Snow Man
    Another favorite Christmas song brought to animated form. Tell me you don’t get teary eyed watching it.

That’s it! What are your holiday favorites? Did I miss anything? I would love to hear from you.

Spice69man is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Hiking in the Spirit and Real Kilt Men Wear Speedos. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

Fall TV Season Recap

The fall TV season is upon us. What shows/specials are your tuning into and what are you turning off? Here are some of the shows that interest me:

The X Factor
I was a bit underwhelmed with this show last season. I think Simon hyped it a bit much. The truth is I like a lot of the top 12 acts on here… plus with new energy from Britney Spears and Demi Lovato, it is shaping up to be a good season. “The Voice” is strong early on, and then limps to it’s finish, not so with this show.The X Factor

Revenge
I am trying to pick up this show. I didn’t watch it at all last season, so I am little confused having seen only 3 episodes so far. But with “Desperate Housewives” gone, I am looking for a Sunday night guilty pleasure.

Grey’s Anatomy
I still enjoy this show. The finale saw the doctors in a plane crash, that already claimed the life of Lexi. And others are written out or leaving soon, like Mark and Teddy. So Shonda Rhimes has a chance to remake her show again. I will be watching.

Modern Family
Last season was great, I have been catching up over the summer. Now with Gloria’s surprise pregnancy, there will be another dynamic to all the family fun. I see that they fast –forwarded Gloria’s pregnancy, so the baby will be born during sweeps I am sure.

Gossip Girl
I was thinking of tuning out this year, but when I heard it was the last season I tuned in to see how they wrap it all up. So far, I am liking “90210” more than this show, it is time for it to go.

As for new shows, I am watching:

666 Park Avenue
Vanessa Williams and Terry O’Quinn headline this new supernatural series set in a haunted apartment building. So far it looks promising, the building has a lot of secrets.

The New Normal
Not sure what to think of this show yet. I watched it because of Ryan Murphy. So far I find it very preachy, and not as funny as it should be. Ryan definitely likes to push issues, but c’mon this is supposedly a comedy, at least it has a good cast.

The Mindy Project
Mindy Kaling leads up a new workplace comedy. I like her, and the cast is pretty good. We’ll see if it gets better. She is definitely someone I am rooting for.

Steel Magnolias
OK, so not a series, but a Lifetime TV remake of the Julia Roberts movie from 1989. This one with an all-black cast headlined by Queen Latifah, Jill Scott and Phylicia Rashad. Not as good as the original, but I still found myself crying during the touching moments. Condola Rashad is the weakest part of the cast… but the friendship between the women is what holds this movie together.

Married to Jonas
This show follows Kevin Jonas of the Jonas Brothers, as he navigates married life with his wife, Danielle. Plus his in-laws seem to pop in often. I like them together, let’s hope they don’t become another reality TV couple statistic.

Nashville
So far I am digging this show. Hadyen Panetttiere and Connie Britton star as 2 country music stars, one new, one on the decline. The music is very nice, and this feels more real than the trainwreck that was “Country Strong”. The election subplot is the only sore spot for me.

Let me know what you are watching or not watching this season. Remember the spring TV season is just a few months away.

Spice69man is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. The eBook, A View from the Cheap Seats, can be downloaded from LuluAmazon and the iBookstore. It can be read on any computer, smartphone, or tablet.

Summer Entertainment Roundup

The summer is mostly over! So what did you think about the entertainment choices this summer? Here is my take on the movies and TV shows of summer:

Movies

  • The AvengersThe Avengers
    Iron Man, Captain America, the Hulk, Thor and more in one movie. This is one of the rare cases where the movie lived up to the hype. It was the most fun I have had at the movies this summer. Be sure to see it on video.
  • Rock of Ages
    The jukebox musical starring Tom Cruise and Julianne Hough tanked at the box office. That’s too bad because the movie is a lot of fun. It has a great soundtrack of 80’s pop/metal classics from Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, Journey and more. Tom Cruise is fantastic in it and you will be singing along to the musical numbers.
  • Katy Perry — Part of Me 3D
    Part concert movie, part documentary, this movie shows why she is as big a star as she is. She put in her dues, and works hard for her fans. It is the best movie of it’s kind since Madonna’s “Truth or Dare.”
  • Men in Black III
    Likable, if forgettable sequel. The main thing that keeps this movie afloat is the cast: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones and Josh Brolin. Hopefully, this is the last movie in this franchise. (more…)

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