Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Greetings from Paradise


My sporadic posting last week was due to the fact that I was running around like crazy making last-minute preparations for my travels to one of the most beautiful places on Earth -- Maui.

Between my actual vacation and another short trip to Michigan to get my doggy back early next week, I do not anticipate posting here again until Wednesday, November 5th (fear not, fellow U.S. citizens - I voted early... and still stood in a half-hour-long line!).

In the meantime, I will continue writing for redblog -- if you would like to get those posts fed into your reader, you can do so here (if that doesn't work, try the text link in the upper-right corner of redblog).

Until my return, here are a few pictures from Hawaii... the first is the view from my balcony... and the second is my favorite place on the hotel grounds!

You know I'm going to scare all of the little kids away so I can have the ship all to myself!

- e

Monday, October 27, 2008

Into the World of Billy the Kid. No, not THAT Billy the Kid.

Last week I watched Billy the Kid, a documentary -- out on DVD tomorrow – that provides a glimpse into the life of, umm… a kid named Billy.

I didn’t know anything about this movie before watching it, and after popping it in my DVD player, not too much time had passed before I started wondering what exactly the film was trying to achieve. My husband didn’t just wonder, he asked out loud about twenty minutes in, “What’s the point of this?”

But, unlike how we handled Be Kind, Rewind, we stuck with Billy the Kid to see what was going to happen over the course of 85 minutes or so. During that time, what I realized was that I had become so accustomed to “reality TV” -- which, as you probably know by now, isn’t all that real – that I almost didn’t know how to process something that was completely unscripted and lacked a forced plot. As soon as I stopped fretting about whether or not the movie was going to end up having a “story line,” I actually felt myself physically relax and started to appreciate getting a look into a life that was very different from my own.

Billy is a fifteen-year-old living in a small town in Maine and going through all of the typical teenage drama that everyone experiences during those hormone-fueled years. He has dreams of becoming a radio personality (like his stepfather), an actor or a rock star, yearns for a girlfriend, works on his guitar skills by playing along with music videos, and loves (and often quotes) movies. He unknowingly drops hilarious one-liners, like when he promises to stay away from trouble by following the advice given in his martial arts class: “Run away… and live to fight another day!”

What’s different about Billy is that he has a behavioral disorder that makes him prone to angry outbursts and obsessive thoughts, and requires him to be part of a special class in school. (Interviews with Billy’s mother are interspersed throughout the film and allude to his issues, but the specific name of his condition is never mentioned. Filmmaker Jennifer Venditti explains her reasoning for this decision in one of the bonus features).

Billy the Kid’s “point” was simply to explore a brief period of time in its subject’s life… but I think anyone who watches it will not only be reminded of how thankful they are that they’re out of high school, but will also have an appreciation for people who, are Billy put it, are “not black, not white, not foreign – just different in the mind.”

If you have a thing for documentaries and are intrigued by what you've read so far, check out the trailer below:

Did you get the sense that Billy the Kid has a rockin’ soundtrack? It does… well, if you’re like my husband and enjoy KISS, that is.

While Billy the Kid might not be everyone’s cup of tea, I did find it intriguing and hope that at some point down the road, Venditti checks in again with Billy and his mom so that we can find out where the next chapter in their lives took them.

- e

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

"The Host" With the Most

I feel like I'm repeating myself over and over again every time I say that I won't include spoilers about a book I've read or a movie I've seen... but here I go again for the benefit of new visitors: I'm not going to give away any details about "The Host," the only Stephenie Meyer novel (so far) that has nothing to do with vampires.

Therefore, there's not a heck of a lot I CAN say about the plot of this book -- I hadn't read its jacket or any reviews or even a description of it before I turned the first page. All I knew was that it wasn't part of the "Twilight" saga and that it had something to do with aliens. What is safe to mention, however, as it is evident from page one, is that "The Host" takes place on Earth, though aliens have all but taken over.

Since I didn't know the story line before I jumped into this 600+ page behemoth, I was instantly captivated by the concept it put forth from the outset. That's why I strongly urge you to not seek out any information about the novel if you have even the slightest desire to check it out. I think that my enjoyment of the book was directly related to that fact that I didn't know what to expect as I made my way through it. Now that I'm done, I read a few reviews and was amazed that they all mentioned things that happened well into the story. Having that knowledge beforehand would've absolutely ruined it for me.

OK, so I'll stop my "avoid spoilers!" rant now and continue with my overall thoughts on the book because I know a few of you out there have already read it. First and foremost, I was very impressed by Meyer's writing this time around (until the end, but I'll get to that in a second). If I hadn't known it was penned by the same woman who dreamed up the now infamous human-vampire love story in "Twilight," I wouldn't have guessed it. Gone were the repetitive descriptions and the whining and the predictability of how everything would turn out. Instead, I found a truly imaginative tale that didn't succumb to "genre stereotypes," a compelling look at what it means to be human, and a complicated premise that I couldn't imagine being made into a movie (although I'm sure they'll find a way). Too many times in the "Twilight" books, I felt like a scene was written solely for the benefit of an eventual adaptation, and that bugged me. I didn't feel that way with this one -- it really made me think.

In Meyer's own words, "The Host" is "science fiction for people who don't like science fiction." I would agree with that description (even though I actually like "normal" science fiction as well). While I did enjoy the book overall and would definitely recommend it, I was disappointed to see some of the writing pitfalls that plagued Meyer's other works emerge in the last handful of chapters. She was doing so well... and then, as the song goes, "feelings... nothing more than feelings" became the focus near the end. Thankfully, there was enough action to outweigh my annoyance at the Bella-ish-ness of it all and keep me reading until the grand finale (which didn't necessarily surprise me, but was one of many endings I thought could have panned out, so it was by no means predictable).

It will be interesting to see what Meyer does next, especially now that she's scrapped plans to write "Midnight Sun" ("Twilight" from Edward's point-of-view). I was truly impressed by the creative ideas she came up with in "The Host," and I would think that if she could just wean herself off of the tendency to get all mushy with her characters, she will continue to churn out well-received novels far into the future.

Unless, that is, aliens really do take over the Earth. Then we're all done for.

- e

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Best of Fall, All in One Weekend

I packed a lot into my Michigan trip this past weekend: 16 hours of of bus/car travel, multiple assaults by the cutest kitties in the world, a trip to an apple orchard -- complete with a ride in a magical pumpkin coach, a pontoon boat cruise around several gorgeous lakes, a few movies, and a few more glasses of wine. I even finally caught up on all of my Us Weekly magazines, phew!

The long weekend started at my friend Nerdy P's, where her two young cats, Buzzy and Daisy (named by her four-year-old son), just couldn't get enough of my attention. Aren't they awesome?

Above is Daisy... notice the super-cool Pirate Island behind her that Crazy Auntie e (that's me) bought!

Below is Buzzy, who can leap through the air and cling on to your leg before you know what hit you.

Friday, we drove to Nerdy P's parents' place. They live in a gorgeous area, and we got to take it all in as we set out on their pontoon for an hour or so. The pictures below really can't capture the crazy colors of the leaves. Some of the trees looked neon red -- it was beautiful. Though there are many trees along the lake here in Chicago, it's just not quite the same as how they're packed in everywhere in central Michigan.

This trip also confirmed my lifelong goal to have a place on the water one day.

Saturday brought us to an apple orchard. I was so excited because I love love LOVE donuts and cider (forget the apples!) and I didn't think I would get a chance to have any this year. I inhaled three donuts as soon as we got there and then secured myself a big cup of hot apple cider. Content!

The orchard was actually more of a fairground and had a ton of activities for children and adults alike.

I was mad that the cut-out thingy above didn't have a thicker base for the tree - it totally ruined the illusion that Nerdy P and I were really in the branches! Yes, this kind of stuff makes me mad.

Below, I am milking a cut-out of a cow. Now THAT was more realistic because some sort of liquid actually came out of the fake utters! Or maybe that's just gross, I'm not sure.

But the highlight of the day was getting to ride on the pumpkin train. This thing was pretty elaborate!

You are jealous, aren't you?

It was a great weekend and I was thankful to get some time to just rest, think, and relax -- that doesn't happen too often. And I did finally finish "The Host," so expect my write-up on that one tomorrow...

- e

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Outta Here for a Long Weekend

Speaking of aching backs yesterday... I am shortly embarking upon a five-hour trip to Michigan, returning Monday evening (my body just LOVES it when I am seated for long periods of time). I have a few posts scheduled to publish later today and then tomorrow on redblog, so if you find yourself missing me, you know where to look...

Have a wonderful weekend... I hope to finish "The Host" by Stephenie Meyer during my mini-vacation, so stay tuned for that review... I've really enjoyed it so far.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Oh, My Aching Back!

I don't write much about my clumsiness. And I don't intend to start doing so -- just know that I've broken several bones over the years and am constantly bruised from running into things. I will, however, share an embarrassing moment that took place today, just so I can dispense some ergonomics knowledge and pander for sore-back suggestions.

A few hours ago, I was going downstairs to get something off of my printer. We have carpeted stairs, but there's no handrail and we actually have a thin runner covering the steps to prevent my dog's black hair from being ground into our carpeting or trailing into our lower level (he's not allowed down there for those same reasons).

Today, I wasn't paying attention, and I tripped on the lining with about four stairs to go. I would've loved to have seen what I looked like as I fell, because somehow I landed around the corner from the stairs with my arms fully outstretched over my head. I was more shocked than hurt, but I immediately knew that my back would punish me for this little spill later in the day.

Thanks to what I'll term a "freak cheerleading practice accident," I broke a vertebrae in 1988 and have had the aches and pains of a ninety-year-old ever since. There was pretty much nothing they could do for my injury, except warn me to "not get pushed from behind or go on roller coasters for a while." Now here I am, twenty years later, sitting on my behind all day in front of a laptop, and let me tell you... my back no-likey this situation.

I've done everything I could to set up my writing area as ergonomically correct as possible. I spent mucho bucks on an awesome Leap chair after learning about and trying out several different brands (here's a secret: that Aeron chair The Man bought for you isn't really that great!). I have adjusted its settings so that my feet rest comfortably on the ground, there are three finger-widths between my knees and the end of the seat cushion, the back is flexible... etc., etc. My wireless keyboard is at elbow-height so that I'm not having to tilt my wrists when I type. I have a laptop stand that raises my screen to the right eye-level so that my head and neck don't have to crane up or downward.

But still, despite all of these efforts, my upper back hurts every night. Yes, just like your grandma, I can even predict when it's going to rain simply from the level of aching in my previously broken bones.

Were you going to suggest getting a massage? I've done that, too. "I don't even know how you can walk," replied one of my masseuses after spending some time with all of the knots across my shoulder blades. Sure, I could get rub-downs more often, but they're not exactly cheap and I know that the root of my problem is my high-strung personality.

Here's my plan for saving my body from any further damage: I just need to calm the heck down and stop ruining my perfect writing set-up by tensing my shoulders reflexively all day, forgetting to take breaks, refusing to stretch each morning and night, and being reluctant to try out a yoga DVD (I do NOT do group classes at the gym, so don't even try to convince me on that front).

I know that if I took a few minutes to go through some poses or stretches, it would help immensely. Any other ideas out there? (And no, I will never go to a chiropractor -- I'm too scared and pretty much pass out at the thought of it -- so skip that suggestion... but I'm open to just about anything else!)

It's now time for my dog's daily walk... I'm going to remember to suck my stomach in and stand up straight for the entire 20 minutes - no more slouching for me! Now I just need to concentrate on not slipping (it's raining out) or tripping (uneven sidewalks abound in my 'hood!)


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I Was Right, "Role Models" Rocked.

About a month and a half ago, I saw the trailer for Role Models and loved it. Remember that?

Well, last night I got to attend one of its screening events and am happy to confirm that it was indeed awesome. And as a major bonus, Paul Rudd was actually in my theater!

I am so mad that I followed the directions on the pass and didn't bring my camera, because everyone else was snapping pictures of him (and WITH him at the end -- sigh). Be sure you check out my post that covers part of the Q&A session with Paul here.

And now, I am off to inspect the outside of my cursed condo building as we have had some contractors here over the last two days to repair our crumbling bricks and mortar (I haven't said those words together since the web days). I will be standing on a major street in Chicago, peering up at my roof with binoculars. Yes, it will be embarrassing. I KNOW someone is going to think that I'm trying to look in a neighbor's window. So I might as well do that, too, while I'm at it. Right?

- e

Monday, October 13, 2008

Kathy Griffin at The Chicago Theater

You may remember that I finally came around to liking Kathy Griffin earlier this summer after I happened upon one of her stand-up routines that Comedy Central was re-airing. She hadn't crossed my mind again until I received an email about a month ago touting her upcoming performances in Chicago. Before I could think twice about it, I purchased two tickets to one of the shows.

This did not please my husband, who cannot stand her. He basically refused to accompany me, so I emailed my friend Nerdy P on the off-chance that she would be able to make a trip to Chicago and take my now-extra ticket. Nerdy P has long been a fan of Kathy Griffin, but was unable to find decent seats to her Detroit performances this coming weekend. Three cheers for the MegaBus, because Nerdy P was able to secure seats on it to get her out here on the cheap.

We went to the first of Griffin's four Windy City performances last night at The Chicago Theater... you can see an outline of Nerdy P's face in front of the marquee in the picture above -- yes, I have awesome picture-taking skillz..

Anyway, I have to say that I didn't think Kathy was as funny as she was in her "I'm Not Nicole Kidman" routine that I saw on TV. I figured (and hoped) that she was only going to talk about celebrities and pop culture news, but she also ended up ranting about the election and talking a lot about her mother. It was still all funny, but I lived for the moments were she dropped some good gossip on the crowd -- like how Conan O'Brien is a jerk (which truly shocked me) and how Tracy Morgan is just as insane as his character is on "30 Rock."

Of course, we still had a good time listening to her, and now I feel like I have to catch an episode of "My Life on the D-List" so that I can see the elder Griffin... she sounds like quite a character. My favorite line of the night was actually one Kathy's mother apparently always shouts whenever she is running low on her Franzia wine-in-a-box: "TIP IT!"

I have a feeling I'm going to be saying that every time I drink anything in the future. My husband is going to be pouring me a glass of milk in the morning and I'm just going to randomly shout "TIP IT!!!!!!!!" and scare the crap out of him. That's what he gets for missing out on the show!

- e

Friday, October 10, 2008

Be Smart and Don't Start "Be Kind Rewind"

I've never walked out of a movie I've seen in the theater, though I came close to doing so during The Mummy. Good thing its awesome roller coaster makes up for the awfulness of that franchise. But now, for the first time I can remember, I gave up half-way through a DVD I'd been watching in the comfort of my own home. Congratulations, Be Kind Rewind... it takes a lot for me to throw in the towel.

I still remain confused as to why and how this movie was so terrible. I mean, play its trailer -- unique concept, some big-name cast members... it looks funny, right?

Except that it wasn't funny. At all. Even Jack Black wasn't funny - his character was mean-spirited, weird and not at all relatable. In addition, Mos Def is not a good actor and should stick to MC-ing. Further, there were several parts of the film that I literally couldn't watch -- they kept showing clips of "old movies" that flickered so badly that I had to avert my eyes or else I knew I was going to get a migraine.

Finally, I looked at my husband about forty-five minutes into it and said, "Do you really want to spend another hour watching this?" and he said, "No." We ejected the DVD and caught The Office and the SNL special instead (they're running them every Thursday until the election - set your Tivos!).

If anyone out there saw Be Kind Rewind in its entirety, please let me know if I made the wrong decision. I did think the reenactment of Ghostbusters was kind of funny, but not enough to watch them do it over and over again with different films. I still am kind of depressed because I think the idea behind this comedy is a good one: what would happen if a video store re-shot famous movies in an attempt to pass them off as the originals... and customers ended up loving the shoddy remakes?

Maybe someone should remake Be Kind Rewind and then perhaps I could stand it.

- e

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Final Twilight Trailer is Online...

Here you go:

You're welcome!

Three things:

1. I was planning on seeing this movie no matter how bad it looked.
2. It looks pretty damn bad.
3. The peeps playing Edward and Bella seem to be the weakest links in the cast!

Sigh. If this movie had been in different hands, it could've been awesome. But I'm pretty sure it's going to be a huge disappointment.

- e

Angelina and I are SO Alike!

I've been pretty stressed out lately (hence the sporadic posting over the past few days -- although I am not complaining... it's a good thing to be busy with writing projects!), and whenever I go through a period of time like this, I unfortunately start eating like crap. I just shove down whatever is close at hand and quick to prepare in order to spend as little time as possible eating. I stop going to the gym, don't see the light of day, and spiral into a funk until my head is above water again.

However, earlier this afternoon, I received my daily celebrity gossip email update from US Weekly, and I couldn't help but feel better about letting myself go. You see, Angelina Jolie and I have something in common. No, I don't have six (much less any) kids, or millions in the bank, or a position with the UN, or a movie coming out, nor am I drop-dead gorgeous. But... I like Hot Pockets. As does Angelina. And somehow, that fact makes everything right with the world.

If you want to get really technical about it, I actually have sworn off Hot Pockets in favor of Lean Pockets... you know, because they're SO much healthier. I can't believe no one has alerted Ms. Jolie to their existence.

Anyway, on this same topic, despite the fact that I was so strangely moved by the knowledge that I share a passion for microwavable junk food with one of my favorite celebrities, it doesn't make it any less ridiculous that US Weekly sent out an email with the subject line: "Angelina Jolie Couldn't Stop Eating Hot Pockets, Ice Cream After Twins' Birth." Slow news day, folks?

For those of you concerned about my health, please know that as I type this, I am finishing up a very nutritious Moroccan dish and am about to head out for a long walk with my dog on a beautifully sunny day here in Chicago. As the Beatles would say, things are "getting better all the time," and I will soon have my schedule under control. (Though I did just order two boxes of Lean Pockets for tomorrow's Peapod order... baby steps! I'm still off of the Magic Shell, at least!)

- e

Monday, October 06, 2008

Rocking Out with... Pong?

While I'm still in a bad mood (though I sense that the end of my funk is nigh), I can't help but get a little bit excited over the fact that I just bought tickets to Video Games Live. Have you heard about this show?

Basically, it's a crazy on-stage extravaganza based on the theme music behind the world's most popular video games. In other words, it's Nerd Fest 2008. I'm already feeling anxious about the need to buy an over-the-top-awesome message tee in order to fit in (some great ones are on display in the video below).

This is a "trailer" for the show, so to speak, though you don't actually see much of what happens in the performance until the three-minute twenty-second mark. Yes, it's a little cheesy, but I really wasn't expecting anything less...

I can't wait! Although I'm sure I will feel old because I won't recognize 85% of the game music, I am also sure that the show will still rock. If you want to check it out, too... here are the remaining 2008 tour dates and some 2009 dates as well (it's going international next year...).

I'm already wondering... what will be more entertaining? The show... or the crowd?

- e

Thursday, October 02, 2008

e's Favorite Things: The Neverending Story

I've been in a very, very bad mood this week. I won't bore you with the reasons, but I will share one of the only things that has been able to lift my spirits: the music video for the theme song from one of my all-time favorite movies, The Neverending Story (and yes, I've read the book, too).

If you are also a fan of this 1984 masterpiece, then you must stop what you are doing and let yourself get whisked away once again to Fantasia, courtesy of the brilliance that is this three-minute forty-five second clip:

I swear to you, if I have three kids, their names will be Bastian, Atreyu and Falkor. There are no more rockin' names in this world than those. I will also style their hair just like that dude's in the video (bearer of another great name: Limahl). I guess if I had a daughter, though, she would have to be Moonchild. I hope no one clues my husband into these plans.

I'm going to be writing more about The Neverending Story some time tomorrow on redblog. In the meantime, I will play this clip about 1,000 more times until The Nothing has retreated and I'm in a happy place again. (Although the video does remind me of the sad fact that I still don't have a pet dragon... sigh.)

- e

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Fall TV Judgments Thus Far...

First off, I'm excited that Dirty Sexy Money finally returns to us tonight. I've heard some bizarre things about its premiere, but I'll wait to discuss them until after it's aired. Especially since there is plenty to opine on in the meantime.

If you are not caught up on any of the shows below, be forewarned that I am going to talk about plot points...

Amazing Race 13

This is one of those shows that you don't realize you've been missing until you see it again. I love you, Phil! My main complaint about the season thirteen premiere is that there wasn't enough Phil in it for my liking.

I can't fully judge the teams just yet, but my initial impressions were that I thought the hippie beekeepers seemed cool, but wasn't surprised that they were the first to go. I don't like that lady with the penciled-in eyebrows who is married to (and was cheated on by) the football player guy (I just looked up their names: Tina and Ken). My husband commented that "the 'frat guys' seem more like 'losers'... or is that the same thing"? While I won't be as tough on my Greek brothers, I will say that the more worrisome of the two, Dan, is already bugging the bejeezus out of me. Lastly, I think the guy who is supposedly so carefree, Terrance (dating Type A Sarah), is a total poser who first states that he wouldn't care if he doesn't make friends or talk to anyone else for the entire race, but then is shown in the previews complaining about how other teams are working together. He's a little too wimpy and annoying for my taste.

On a related note, I went to Salvador, Brazil (the city with the huge elevator) on my spring break during graduate school, so it was cool to watch a challenge based there.

Gossip Girl

Curse baseball!!! Some stupid game cut into my recording of GG and I only got to see the first half of this week's episode. I was loving Dan hanging out with Chuck and then I didn't get to see the rest of what happened! The last scene I caught was when Dan overheard Chuck talking to Daddy Warbucks on the phone and being blown off once again. What happened after that?!?!

I also missed the actual fashion show, but I'm assuming from the previews I'd watched before the episode that Serena herself walked the catwalk and made Blair even more jealous... am I right?

I'm not sure what to think of this season so far overall... I just want Chuck and Blair together, is that too much to ask? Watching Chuck Bass is the highlight of my week. That probably says a lot about my typical week.

The Hills

Oh Lord, where do I begin? First off, Lauren's "trip to Italy" seemed very staged to me. Why didn't they tape her in Italy? Most likely because she wasn't there... she was probably holed up in her parent's house or something. Secondly, even if she was there, how did she stay? Just long enough for Stephanie to go on a date with Doug... how convenient. Lastly and most importantly... WHO COMES BACK EARLY FROM ITALY!?! LC claimed that she had "seen all that Italy had to offer." Shame on you, Lauren. I weep for your generation.

In this week's episode, I couldn't make up my mind if the confrontation between Spencer and Heidi's mom was real or not. If it was, then I feel so sorry for that woman, I truly do. Could you imagine if your daughter were dating that weasel and there was nothing you could do about it? I don't think I've ever felt this much disgust toward someone on a reality TV show. I know hate is a strong word and all, but I really hate Spencer. I used to think that Heidi seemed somewhat intelligent, but I can't keep ignoring the fact that since she's still with Spencer, she simply can't be too bright. He literally has no redeeming values.

I'm so worked up that I feel like I need a beer and it's only 10:15 in the morning.

Real World/Road Rules Challenge: The Island

This season is not as good as I was hoping it would be, but I'll of course keep watching it. I barely know any of the players, so that's not helping. It was pretty crazy when that guy got stung by all of the wasps, though. Other than that, it's just depressing to witness all of the girls on the show putting up with the ridiculousness of the guys. Johnny and Kenny are straight-up sexist pigs, and I'm not usually one that gets all bent out of shape about that kind of thing. It's enough to make me root for Ev, one of the few women who they seem to be intimidated by (but who I thought was pretty evil last season). Johanna, on the other hand, is about as dumb as they come. First she is engaged to Wes and now she's hooking up with Kenny? Girlfriend, you have some issues!

The Office

The season premiere last week was just so-so for me. Angela's engagement to what's-his-face has grown tiresome and they need to get her back with Dwight already. In fact, I was positive that the extra pounds from the group's weigh-ins were going to be from the fact that Angela is pregnant. Guess I was wrong on that one... for now.

The bright spot was Jim and Pam's surprise engagement. I really didn't see it coming and I dare say my eyes welled up just a tad. I was so thankful that they didn't have her "meet someone" while she's away at school - I might have had to stop watching the show in protest. I was also glad to see that they brought Ryan back as a temp again - brilliant! Michael seems to still be a tad too goofy for my liking, but I am encouraged that he's met his perfect match in the new HR representative. But that scene with Toby at the very end? Totally unnecessary and kind of ruined the premiere for me. No one likes to hear about anyone (even a fictional character) breaking their neck - yikes.


Since I enjoyed the Fans vs. Favorites season so much last year, I figured I would give Survivor: Gabon a try, and I'm glad I did. They have some hilarious people roughing it out in Africa this time around, and I recommend that you tune in if you've ever watched Survivor in the past. Plus, Jeff Probst won the Emmy for Best Reality TV Host - how can you argue with that?!?

No, but seriously, the two-hour premiere was extremely entertaining. There's a totally pessimistic wedding photographer who I hope stays on the show for a long time because he's just so unintentionally funny. Then there's the nerdy, skinny "gamer" who actually had a shot with a girl his age... until she got the boot. And who can forget about "Ace," the Euro-trash braggart whose cockiness is only matched by his yoga skills. Yes, he's leading yoga sessions in the middle of the African plains.

There are a lot of people I can see myself rooting for in "Earth's Last Eden," so I'm happy that the casting geniuses behind this show are back at the top of their game.

So, in summary... it's seriously a good thing that Lost isn't also on right now - I barely have time as it is to watch these shows. Therefore, while I KNOW that there are a lot of other great series out there, don't even bother asking me why I don't follow them. Unless you can also tell me how to either clone myself or magically add another day onto the week. My TV schedule is set in stone for the fall, and on balance I'm happy with what I've seen so far. Let's hope tonight's premiere of Dirty Sexy Money doesn't make me feel the need to change that statement.

- e