Is Johnny Weir the new Rudy Galindo?

To prepare for the men’s figure skating competition at the Olympics, I hopped over to YouTube to watch videos of some of my favorite male figure skating routines not only to watch the beautiful skating but to see the flamboyant costumes (obviously).  One of my favorite skaters from those days gone (aka the 1990s) by is Rudy Galindo.  Originally a pairs figure skater teamed with Kristi Yamagutchi (before she decided to become a singles skater), Rudy quickly worked his way up to the higher echelons of both skating itself and also the best/most daringly dressed of the male skating world.

The first one that comes to mind is one from an exhibition performance he did to “Colors of the Wind” from Pocahontas.  It’s daring to be sure:

These days, Johnny Weir seems to be the skater most willing to don such bold costume choices.  The highly outspoken Weir always is pushing the limits of fashion (though when it comes to his skating, he favors simplicity over too complicated of jumps) on the ice:

During the Olympic short program, Johnny didn’t let me down.  His v-necked unitard accented with hot pink laces and a single tassel on his left shoulder certainly were eye-catching (and his skating wasn’t bad either).

Both are great skaters, though I’d say Rudy’s artistry is more exquisite than Johnny’s.  I actually really miss watching Rudy Galindo skate; he was really quite beautiful on the ice.

So do you think Johnny is the new Rudy in skating fashion?

I’ll leave you with one last skating nugget: Rudy Galindo’s long program from the 1996 U.S. Nationals, which won him the title.

The Substitute: Another Locke-centric awesome ep

LOST does a lot of things well (and by a lot, I mean basically everything but this), but one of the things they do the very best is John Locke-centric episodes.  A lot of people claimed they got hooked on LOST because of season one’s very first Locke episode, “Walkabout,” in which we learned John Locke was once confined to a wheelchair but could miraculously walk again on the Island.

Tonight’s episode, “The Substitute,” was yet another great Locke episode and reinvigorated the action of this last season after last week’s slower moving ep “What Kate Does.”

(SPOILER ALERT!  Stop reading if you haven’t seen this week’s episode.)

The theme of “substitution” popped up A LOT in this episode:

  1. The Man-in-Black is a literal substitute for John Locke on the Island, having used his body as a means to get to Jacob to kill him.
  2. In the Sideways world, John Locke was sent to a work conference in Australia, but tried to substitute in a walkabout.  When his douche-y boss, Randy, found out, he quickly fired John.
  3. After getting fired in the Sideways world, John ran into Hurley outside his office where Hurley graciously offered to send John to a temp agency with a promise of him getting a substitute job.
  4. Then, John literally was a substitute teacher in a high school where a grouchy Ben Linus (in a hilarious bit of smart-assery involving the coffee machine in the teacher’s lounge; Michael Emerson just knows how to deliver a line SO well) introduced himself as “Benjamin Linus, European History.”
  5. Finally, back on the Island, fake John Locke brought Sawyer (still bitter and now pretty boozy) to a cave on the side of a cliff (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince reference possibly?) only reachable by a scary set of rope/bamboo ladders (like something out of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom) where the ceiling and walls were covered with names.  Included in those names were (coordinated with our infamous NUMBERS!) those of a few of our castaways: Rayez, Jarrah, Ford, Shephard, Kwon, Locke.  According to Fake Locke, all these names are “candidates for protector of the island” aka a substitute for Jacob.

I actually found the Flash-Sideways to finally be a worthy substitute (eh?  EH?  Like how I worked that in AGAIN?) for our flash forwards and flashbacks.  I was really drawn into (as I usually am with Locke episodes) the Sideways Locke story tonight and loved all the different shades of the character we keep being given in Terry O’Quinn’s ever-deepening performance.  More than anything, I was happy to see Katey Segal pop back in as Locke’s loving, yet feisty fiancee, Helen.  It warmed my heart to see that John had some domestic bliss.  I really loved the moment they shared after Locke decided not to call Jack for a spinal consultation.  It was touching and sweet.

And we got some more answers tonight involving an enduring mystery from the last several seasons: those damned lists of names.  We finally know that Jacob made the lists as a means of finding a replacement for himself, because apparently he was tired of being the Island’s protector.  Or is that actually Richard Alpert?  I’m a little confused on how Richard figures in.

Also, how creepy was that blond kid (like Shining creepy) and why could Sawyer also see him but Richard couldn’t?  As we were watching tonight’s episode, my friend, Hassan, thought it would have been funny if that kid had been Walt or if Walt had been in one of the classes Sideways Locke was substituting in.  Which still begs the question: why was Walt so special?  A question we might never get the answer to.

And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the white and black rocks on the scale in the Horcrux Cave (that’s what I’m calling it, folks).  That was a really nice visual reminder of the backgammon game from season one, which I feel is the biggest driving force behind the show (“…There are two sides: light and dark.”).  Plus, we got the inclusion of a funny Locke line, “Oh just an inside joke!” as he chucked the white rock into the sea.

While I’m on the subject of Horcruxes (to read more about them, click here), there are shades of that here.  Remember, Voldemort used Horcruxes as a substitute (AGAIN!) for dying, storing parts of his soul in objects to ensure immortality.  The Man-in-Black is using Locke’s body to do his dirty work, not to mention Alex Linus (to convince Ben), and possibly even Christian Shephard (that still remains to be hashed out).  See?  All the makings of horcrux-y kind of stuff.

All right.  I’m wrapping this up for tonight.  So what am I hoping for next week?  A Sun/Jin reunion (PLEASE), some juicy Island Claire story, and more one-liners from Miles and Ben.

Good night Losties and NAMASTE!

Let the Games Begin!

As I type this, the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics are beginning.  The opening ceremony airs tonight on NBC and all its sister networks (USA, MSNBC, CNBC, Universal Sports).  To visit the NBC Olympic site, click here.

What I love most about the Olympics is the spirit of the games.  For two weeks, people from all over the world (82 nations this year) come together to support their countries and spread peace and sportsmanship.  Okay, AND I love figure skating, snowboarding (Shaun White!), speed-skating (Apolo Anton Ohno!), and ski jump.

Light the torch, gather your family and friends around the tube, and let the games begin!

Badassery 101: My Stage Combat Course

Quick, name your favorite fight scene from a movie (To see mine, watch here.).

It looks real, right?

In truth, all these fights are as carefully choreographed as one of George Balanchine’s ballets; they seem real onstage or onscreen, but the actors aren’t really taking punches to the face or knees to the groin.  Most actors, at some point during their training, take a specialized course called stage combat to learn such skills.

I happen to be taking stage combat this very semester at my university.  Among the bevy of new skills I can add to my arsenal: punches, kicks (including roundhouse kicks, which nobody does better than Jennifer Garner as Sydney Bristow on ALIAS), blocks, hair pulls, bites (vampire, zombie, AND human; bet you didn’t know there were that many varieties!), and knees to the head.  Sounds pretty bad-ass, right?  I’m actually REQUIRED to learn how to fight (safely) for my major!  The only other people I know of who get to do that are probably in this thing called the U.S. Military.

Can I let you into a little acting secret, though?  The real tricks to making these fake fights look real are:

  • Timing.  It’s important to make eye contact with your partner before executing any move.  Once you’ve done that, the punch/kick/etc. must be perfectly timed with the reaction of the person taking that punch/kick/etc.
  • The Reaction. What does it look and sound like when you get kicked in the groin or get a right hook punch to the face?  My stage combat instructor always stresses the importance of making sure the physical reaction and the sound looks as real as possible.  The person executing the fight move generally makes the real sound of the punch or whatever on their own body doing something called a “nap” which adds the realism of the fight onstage.  In film, sound effects are added in later during the fight instead of having actors use the “nap.”
  • Angle. By simply changing the angle of your fight, you’re controlling how your audience sees it, which in turn, makes it look more realistic and less amateurish.

Stage combat, however safely it’s taught, is not without its perils, however.  Just Tuesday, I actually got hit in the eye by the knee of one of my fellow actresses during a rehearsal of our fight choreography. We were practicing a knee-to-the-head move for our scene.  It was purely accidental, of course, and we’re not even sure how it happened (most likely a miscalculation of body angles on my part or her grabbing me in the wrong spot), but things like this DO happen occasionally.  I didn’t cry, though I DID immediately put ice on the injured area after class to alleviate any future swelling or black eye tendencies.  Two days later, I only feel a slight pain/swelling around my eye.

See, kids?  Acting is not as easy as it sounds.

Anyway, stage combat is great because it immediately makes an actor feel like a badass.  Every time I walk into class, I leave feeling as cool as my favorite grad-student superspy, Sydney Bristow.  If you’ve never seen ALIAS, the awesome TV show, I urge you to take it upon yourself to check it out on DVD.  Though it went off the air just a few years ago, it was one of the coolest, best written action dramas on TV from LOST creator J.J. Abrams.  Jennifer Garner  and Victor Garber are amazing, and it was the show that gave The Hangover‘s Bradley Cooper (yummmm!) his start.

Where was I?  Oh yeah.  Badassery.  I realize I have it pretty good that I get to actually spend two hours a week learning fight skills when a lot of my friends are trudging through classes on biological engineering, developmental psychology, and accounting at their respective universities.  Personally, I’d rather get a knee to my eye than sit through any of that, but the world needs sensible people too, I guess…

…and apparently, I’m just not meant to be one of them.  Viva la badass!

What Kate Does

Okay, so I didn’t exactly ever get around to writing about the season premiere of LOST, but I figure we’ll just let that slide.

SPOILER ALERT!  Do not read any further if you haven’t seen this week’s episode.

“What Kate Does” was, as you already know, a Kate-centric episode.  Though I was excited for another new episode, I have to admit that sometimes in the past, I feel the Kate-centric episodes have been a little slower-moving and less revelatory than many of the other episodes.  This second (or is it third since the premiere was a two-parter but on one night?) episode of season 6 didn’t offer us the same kind of heart-pounding excitement as the season premiere, but it did give us some good moments and a truly phenomenal acting job from one cast member:

  1. Off-Island Kate seemingly had a few moments of deja vu. When she hijacked Claire’s cab at the airport, Kate looked back and saw Jack standing on the curb talking on his cell phone.  She stared at him much longer than you would at stranger.  While she did bump into him on the plane in last week’s ep in order to steal his ball-point pen as a means of picking the lock on her handcuffs, it appeared as if Kate thought she knew Jack from somewhere else.  There was also a moment in the hospital with Claire when Kate looked as though she was trying to remember something as Claire and Dr. Goodspeed (Who else thought it was kind of funny/maybe creepy that Ethan was actually NICE in this alterna-world?) talked about baby Aaron.
  2. Off-Island Claire easily came up with the name Aaron. When Claire was in the hospital and freaking out over her unborn child possibly being in danger, she yelled, “Don’t do anything to hurt my Aaron!”  When Kate asked Claire where she got the name, Claire said it was as if she’d “known it all the time.”  These deja vu-y kind of moments in the Off-Island World make me think the Island castaways and the Off-Island bunch are connected somehow.
  3. Sayid becomes “infected.” Poor Sayid.  This guy never catches a break: Shannon dies, his wife dies, he’s tortured, he gets shot, he actually dies, then he’s brought back to life only to be poked and prodded with flames and ash by Mr. Miyagi (Okay, that’s NOT his actual name, but I like to call him that.  His name is Dogen.) to find out he’s been “infected.”  Could this be the same “infection” Rousseau claimed her husband and team caught before she gunned all of them down back in 1988?
  4. Claire is the new Rousseau. I was stoked to see Island Claire return as a gun-toting jungle guerilla like dear, departed Danielle Rousseau.  Cool!
  5. Josh Holloway made me cry. In a truly heart-wrenching (and in my case, tear-inducing) scene, Sawyer bitterly revealed he was planning on proposing to Juliet before the whole hydrogen-bomb fueled “incident” that led to her tragic (though heroic) demise.  Sawyer, once a self-absorbed con man, has developed over the years into a caring, honest, heroic figure, and Juliet’s death has now pushed him into even darker territory than the one he was faced with before Oceanic 815 crashed.  Never have we seen Sawyer so vulnerable and wounded than in last night’s episode, and that resonated strongly not only in Sawyer but also in Kate.  Josh Holloway has more than proved (Other evidence?  Look no further than his work in season 5.) that he is more than a pretty face with delicious abs; this guy can really, REALLY act.  I have a feeling Sawyer is going to be more unpredictable than ever this season.  There is no greater motivator than the death of a loved one.

Overall, I thought it was a solid episode (albeit one that made me seriously cry).  Hopefully next week will get us back to all the Fake Locke-Ben-Richard drama and more screen time for Sun and Lapidus.  I’m ready for some good, ole smart ass-ery from Ben (nobody could deliver lines like this the way Michael Emerson can).

Only 14 more weeks to go…

Happy Birthday, John Williams!

Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away…

an awesome film composer named John Williams was born. The frequent Spielberg and Lucas-collaborator turns 78 today.  He’s been one of my favorites for as long as I can remember.  From the Olympic theme (who’s excited for the Toronto Winter Olympics in a few days?!) to Star Wars to Schindler’s List, John Williams has been making our world just a little more epic.  The awesome videos below highlights some of John’s best work.

Happy Birthday, John!  Keep up the good work.

Oscar Nominations = The Na’avi vs. Bomb Diffusers

Though it’s taken me a few days, I’ve finally found the time to write at least one of the new posts I promised earlier in the week.

As all of you know by now, the nominees for this year’s Academy Awards were announced this past Tuesday morning.  While there were a few surprises here and there in each category, none were more surprising than the list of Best Picture nominees.  Of course, this year, the Academy decided to expand the field to ten nominees in this category instead of five.  There haven’t been ten nominees for Best Picture since 1943 when Casablanca took home Best Picture.

The nominees for Best Picture are:

  • Avatar
  • A Serious Man
  • Up
  • The Blind Side
  • District 9
  • The Hurt Locker
  • An Education
  • Up in the Air
  • Inglourious Basterds
  • Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire

No surprise Avatar, the Hurt Locker, or Up in the Air made it onto this list considering these three films have scooped up the most prizes from the critics and guilds.  After its win at the SAG Awards, Inglourious Basterds also seems a natural choice to be on this list.  To me, the biggest surprises here are the inclusion of the super awesome and highly original District 9 and Sandra Bullock’s football weepie The Blind Side.  The whole point of the category expansion was to allow room for some more mainstream films to make it into the Best Picture race, and frankly, I think District 9 and Up‘s inclusion (only the second ever animated film to be nominated for Best Picture after Beauty and the Beast) is a welcome breath of fresh air.  Both films featured highly original, emotionally gripping stories.  I know there had been some talk The Hangover or Star Trek could have wound up in this category, but I think District 9 is the best choice here based on its sheer creativity.  Overall, I’m rather pleased with the nominees, although instead of The Blind Side, I would have chosen the quirky and sexy (500) Days of Summer.

Obviously, Best Picture really comes down to a battle between two films (directed, ironically, by James Cameron and his ex-wife, Kathryn Bigelow…divorce battle?  haha.): Avatar and the Hurt Locker.

The biggest surprises to me were the inclusion of Penelope Cruz in the Best Supporting Actress category for the could-have-been-better Nine and no love for (500) Days of Summer in the one category it should have been nominated in: Best Original Screenplay.  I thought Penelope Cruz was great in Nine, don’t get me wrong, but after seeing Julianne Moore’s boozy, bitter performance in A Single Man, I wish she’d been given Ms. Cruz’s spot instead.

One last nomination that pleased me immensely was the inclusion of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince in the Best Cinematography category.  Beautifully shot movie, truly, and not just because I love Harry Potter.

I promise my Lost season premiere post is on its way…