Friday, February 26, 2010

Peter Breitmayer on a Cheerios commercial?

Why in the world is Peter Breitmayer doing a Cheerios commercial? I'm pretty sure I just saw him eating Cheerios, and he's also on a Progressive insurance commercial.

Let me back up a bit. Breitmayer is a graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College. He did theater there and has gone on to act in dozens of TV shows and films. Among the latest: The Coen Brothers' Academy Award nominated "A Serious Man" and Clint Eastwood's "Changeling." Um, yeah, that's right: The guy who has worked with Clint and the Coens is now eating Cheerios for a quick buck on TV? I don't get it.

Breitmayer also has recently been on the network TV show "The Middle" and AMC's critically acclaimed and award-winning "Mad Men." He was in the blockbuster "GI Joe: The Rise of the Cobra" and the drama "Fracture," starring Anthony Hopkins.

The point is, the guy has made it. He's in. Cheerios seems a bit beneath him. But, who knows, maybe he just really likes Cheerios and was offered them free for life if he appeared in the commercial. Or maybe the Cheerios CEO has some serious dirt on Breitmayer, and the commercial appearances are blackmail. Or maybe Clint and the Coens don't pay as well as one would assume and Cheerios are helping pay the mortgage. Or, perhaps, Breitmayer has a twin who hasn't made it in Hollywood, but he's using his brother's likeness as a way to get commercial gigs.

Who knows. Sure seems like wasted talent to me.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

"Project Runway": as effective as Ambien

I've been calling "Project Runway" this season my own personal Ambien. It's the darndest thing, but I can't stay awake if it's on. Even at my mom's house, with family scattered around the living room watching together, I dosed off 15 minutes before the end.

This fact has disappointed a couple of people who said they used to read my blog posts immediately after "Runway" broadcasts. As thrilled as I was to hear that I actually have a couple of readers -- woo hoo! -- I wondered if they were the exception this season. I just can't get behind anyone on the show this time. Anthony is my favorite, but not for his designs. I think he's funny and cute. My favorite quote of his so far: "Don't act up in front of company," he said to his teammate when Tim Gunn came to assess the in-progress garment they were designing.

But, anyway, I was curious if anyone else had the same trouble when watching "Runway." Do you find yourself thinking of other things? Reaching for the laptop to Google funny phrases instead of watching the show? Do you get inexplicably sleepy in the middle of the program? Or is that just me?

Thank goodness for Anthony. The rest of this cast keeps my interest as well as Olympic curling. (That means not well at all.)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Mankato Mag calling Easter egg enthusiasts

For the April issue of Mankato Magazine, I need your help ...
My grandmother had an Easter tradition, and I expect others in the area do
as well: You take branches to serve as your "tree" and you have children,
grandkids, nieces, nephews and visitors dye and decorate eggs, blow them out
and hang them on the tree. The collection grows over the years and serves as
a memento for family and friends.

I'd like to do a feature story on someone with such an Easter tradition in the Mankato area. There is a woman rumored to have worked at Minnesota State University with a massive Easter tree, but I have yet to track her down.

If this is someone you know, or you have an Easter egg tree tradition, e-mail me at, or call me at 344-6388.

Everyday people - Everybody has a story

Steve Hartman has revived his old ongoing series "Everybody Has a Story," only now he's added the words "In the World" between "Everybody" and "Has." That means Hartman has been gallivanting all over the world meeting everyday people.

It's actually a great little series. In about three minutes, Harman introduces us to someone from a different culture who manages to break apart stereotypes we may have had.

Here's a great one about a 78-year-old blind man from Inda.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Watch out for the March Mankato Mag

The March Mankato Magazine will hit stands in about a week and this issue is all about "Celebrating women."

Meet three diverse, successful women in the Mankato area who have overcome struggles to get where they are today.
Learn about MOPS, a group for moms of children ages 5 and younger.
Visit the home for veterans, a community where disabled vets get help and a community of neighbors and supporters a lot like them.
Also in this issue:
The Amazing Castle
Remembering el Seis
Wildlife photography

On the cover this month (pictured above): Maria Bevacqua is the director of Women's Studies at Minnesota State University and is one of our "successful women."

For a subscription to Mankato Magazine, e-mail Reader Services at

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Davina and her vagabonds rock MSU


I went to see Davina and the Vagabonds at Halling Recital Hall (MSU) Tuesday night, and please now consider me an unofficial member of the band's street team. What an amazing performance. Lots of energy, unique sound, and an incredibly dynamic personality behind the piano.

Davina Sowers fronts the group and has a voice that's hard to describe. I've said before it's like a cross between British pop singer Duffy and Billie Holiday. That's as close as I can get. It's powerful, but controlled, and almost sounds like a trumpet at times. The New Orleans style jazz and blues band has two horn players, which provide the heart of the music along with Sowers' voice. Every song has a horn solo, and during one song, Sowers sang patterns the trumpet would mimick. Her voice could almost be mistaken for a dueling brass instrument.

Halling was nearly full. Just a few people shy of the capacity at 340. It's shocking to think the band performs at the Wine Cafe, which doesn't have a stage or many tables in the main area to support seating. The band is at the cafe again April 1. I'll definitely have to check that out.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Recycled song for Haiti

For once, me and Jay-Z are on the same page. With a room full of musicians, couldn't somebody write a new song?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Now in paperback ...

Last year Diana Joseph's book "I'm Sorry You Feel That Way" was released, and a steady stream of great publicity came raining down upon her. For good reason. The book is so funny, and also sad, and a little nutty in the best of ways, and makes you wish Diana was a close friend. I think my favorite bit of publicity was by author Steve Almond, who I have a huge crush on, who wrote this.

Anyway, the book came out in paperback quite recently, and I had to give Diana a little plug and tell people they should go get it. (That means you.) I was fortunate enough to be at a recent reading at Barnes and Noble and got to hear one of the first essays of the next book, which picks up where "I'm Sorry You Feel That Way" left off. Who knows when that book hits stores, but you'll want to be ready when it does. So go! Shoo! Purchase and read. You won't be sorry.

Here's a link to Diana's blog. It'll help you get to know her a little before you read the book.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Oscar is a poor editor

So, here are the TEN nominees for best picture at the Academy Awards ...

Avatar, The Blind Side, The Hurt Locker, District 9, An Education, Inglourious Basterds, Precious, A Serious Man, Up, Up in the Air

I still don't know why the Academy felt that 10 movie nominations were warranted. There weren't 10 worthy this year, nor is there most years. To me, the Oscars have been an excellent filter. They boil things down to the true worthy films and actors, the movies and performances that represent true greatness. "Nine," for instance, is appropriately absent from the best picture nominees, whereas it was included in the lineup for the big prizes in the other awards shows this season, including the Golden Globes, the Critics' Choice Awards and the SAG Awards.

When the nominees were announced, a movie commentator said something about how this year it seems the Oscars are aiming to bring back an audience to the Oscars that wouldn't have been interested in previous years, sort of the "Academy Awards is a fun movie night for everybody, and to prove it, we're willing to nominate 'The Blind Side' for best picture.'"

To me, the Oscars should be the cream of the crop. The movies that win don't win because they were appealing to the general public on a "Oh, that was a fun show" kind of note. They win because they have a message, something new and unique to add to filmmaking. The story, the direction, the cinematography and the acting all reflect the brilliance of the film. "The Blind Side" does no such thing. Nor does "Avatar." Making a ton of money at the box office doesn't mean a movie is worthy of an Oscar, when considering the criteria mentioned before. It simply means the movie was appealing to a wide range of ages and demographics.

I'm disappointed. I had hoped the Oscars would be good editors and choose just five of the films that represented the quality and prestige that an Academy Award has always represented (except that year "Crash" won. What was that?).

My choices would have been: The Hurt Locker, An Education, Inglourious Basterds, Precious, Up in the Air.