Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Bow-er-SOX! Bow-er-SOX!

I loved this performance much more than last night's, although a good rendition of "Midnight Train to Georgia" is nothing to scoff at.

If Bowersox doesn't win, I'm boycotting next season.

First one to get kicked off DWTS ...

Getting kicked off second or third? That's embarrassing enough. Getting kicked off "Dancing With the Stars" first? Humiliation. I guess the world is still very much aware of Shannen Doherty's b*t*hy reputation.

Get the scoop here.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Golden Gate Jumpers

Every article I read in The New Yorker makes me love it even more. To have that kind of time and that amount of resources, not to mention talent, to write such incredible stories ... heaven.

One of my favorite magazine stories is called "Jumpers," published in 2003 and recommended to me fairly recently. It explores the phenomenon of the Golden Gate Bridge suicides. There's something alluring and romantic to people about killing themselves by jumping off this iconic monument of San Francisco. A 14-year-old girl even took a $150 cab ride from her home two hours away to the bridge so she could kill herself there. The conflict of the article lies in the fact that so many residents and public figures in the city don't want a suicide barrier erected on the bridge because it would upset the aesthetics. And this is despite the fact that other monuments that were previously attractive to suicidal people, including the Eiffel Tower and the Empire State Building, all erected barriers. Those in favor of the barrier argue that suicide attempts are acute and when thwarted, more than 90 percent do not attempt again. With the grandeur of the bridge being so alluring to the depressed, as a sort of morbidly elegant and beautiful way to go, erecting a barrier might be enough for some to change to their minds. The article even speaks to a couple of the very few survivors of the fall. One of them said poignantly that as his foot left the support and he started falling, he realized everything that had been troubling him could have been fixed -- everything, except, what he had just done: jumped. He survived and got a second chance. But how many people, of the more than 1,000 when this article was published, may have had a similar thought but not survived to have that second chance?

It's such a good read. Find it here if you're interested.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Tell The Free Press where to go

Summer is the time to get out of the house, whether it be for a night out in Mankato or a day trip in the region.
The Free Press is launching two summer series that will begin the first week of June: our annual Go! series and a new Night Life series. And we want you to tell us where we should go.
Call or e-mail us your ideas of places to write about in the region that would make good day trips for our readers for our Go! series. If yours is selected, we’ll also include your experiences and memories at that destination.
For our Night Life series, tell us where we should hang out on a Friday night in Mankato. What are the bars, clubs, concert halls, theaters and galleries that get you out of the house at night?
Call Amanda Dyslin at 344-6388, or e-mail
Hurry. Summer will be here before we know it.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Avatarize yourself, it's super fun

At the risk of my readers thinking I'm a complete weirdo, I have to share this super fun little program on the Web that allows you to "Avatarize" yourself. I wasn't a big fan of the movie, but this isn't about that. This is about seeing yourself in alien form, which is pretty cool.

Go to and upload a mugshot of yourself. You won't regret it.

Anthony? But ... why?

Anthony, nooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

: (

On "Project Runway" this season, the funny and adorable Anthony has been my only reason for tuning in. (I also like that rocker dude whose name escapes me. I think it's Sam.) While Anthony's taste level has always been in question, his whimsical personality has kept me from falling asleep in the most boring season in "Runway" history.

Tonight, Anthony was flushed, canned, sent packing, discarded, cast away. And with him went a good chunk of my inspiration to tune in next week.

Goodbye, Anthony. You will be missed.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Dancing with the Stars: The Big Kickoff

Tonight is the night!!! (That's Monday, March 22, for those who might stumble upon this at a later date.) "Dancing With the Stars" kicks off its new season 7 p.m. tonight on ABC.

I'll be the first to admit I was skeptical. Recent seasons have been really sub-par. The word "Stars" in the title became so very loose that it was almost a lie. It seemed like I was often asking "Wait, who is that again?"

But somehow, this season, DWTS has managed to round up a group of people you will actually recognize. Shannen Doherty, anyone? I know I'm not the only one who grew up on "90210" and had the dolls and the bed sheets and the school folders and the posters ... or maybe I was. Anyway, we've also got Kate Gosselin of TLC's "Jon & Kate Plus Eight" fame. America watched this year as her marriage crumbled, and now she's all over the tabloids getting slammed for being on this show when she's got eight kids at home.

And, hello! Buzz Aldrin, for crying out loud. The man walked on the moon. I'm wondering ... shall we expect another kind of moonwalk from Mr. Aldrin?

Pam Anderson is also stirring up viewers. One must wonder, will the former "Baywatch" babe be able to stay on her feet? ...Kinda top heavy, doncha think?

Others include: Nicole Scherzinger of the Pussycat Dolls, football player Chad Ochocinco, Olympic skater Evan Lysacek, sports reporter Erin Andrews, soap star Aiden Turner, Jake Pevalka of "The Bachelor" and Niecy Nash of "Reno 911."

My top pics: Evan and Nicole. Evan's an athlete, and a limber one at that. And Nicole has plenty of dancing background.

However, in my office pool, they were taken. So, technically, my votes are for Chad and Erin. Chad's an athlete, too, although a bulkier one, and Erin looks plenty fit, so who knows, maybe I've got a shot!

Be sure and tune in tonight!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Registration due Friday for 'Bella Notte'

If you’re anything like me, your walls are decorated with discount store “artwork,” the pre-framed, generic pictures you got for a steal and that you were thrilled matched your decor.
My artist friends are probably cringing. But they just don’t understand.
I’ve written about many talented local artists, and I’ve coveted their work as I imagined their houses filled with their own beautiful creations. But what does a girl do when she A) doesn’t have the talent to make art, and B) can’t afford to pay big bucks for it?
The Student Art League has answered that question. During its event tonight, called “Bella Notte,” the group will be silent-auctioning original artwork to raise money for the league. There will also be a semi-formal dinner to rub elbows with said original artists.
Imagine: a nature photograph taken by the wonderful photographer Bayard Black, or a painting of sunflowers done by Brian Frink of Poor Farm Studios. And ... the best part ... those bidding determine the price, with proceeds going to support the making of more original work. A win-win, I would say.
The artwork up for auction has been produced by MSU faculty, students and local artists, including Black, Daniel Dinsmore, Windy Schultz, Pam Becker, Robert Finkler and more.
A portion of the money raised will go toward a student trip to New York in April and the rest will be used for league operating costs.

If you go
“Bella Notte,” a dinner, silent art auction and fundraiser for the MSU Student Art League
7 p.m. Friday, March 19, in the Centennial Student Union Ballroom, MSU
For the dinner: $10 for MSU students and $15 for non-students.
Register by calling 389-3235 or online at by Friday, March 12.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Don't fret: Celebrity alumni do get coverage

Many people know that some pretty famous people have graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College and Minnesota State University.

A guy from MSU is on the TV show "Reno 911," for example. Peter Breitmayer, mentioned in a previous blog entry, is a Gusty grad with film credits to his name including Clint Eastwood's "Changeling" and the Coen brothers' "A Serious Man." Rich Sommer, on AMC's award-winning "Mad Men," is married to a Mankato West grad and had a red carpet premiere right here in Mankato for his film with Meryl Streep, "The Devil Wears Prada."

We've written about these people at various times. Sometimes we'll put a blurb in the paper when they have a new series or movie coming out. But -- because they don't live in the area anymore, and often times, didn't live in our coverage area for very long -- we don't do features on them every time they have a new project. Partly because that would mean writing about them every few months or so, when a new movie comes out or a new pilot is shot.

This topic came up in the newsroom Tuesday when a reader called in wondering why she read about Peter Krause's new series, "Parenthood," in the TV section of the newspaper. It was a national story, not written by The Free Press, of course, that mentioned a local tie Krause had to southern Minnesota.

Krause was in HBO's "Six Feet Under," which was the first time we wrote about him. He also visited Gustavus and worked with theater students. We went to interview him and do a story on him at that time. Since then, he has been on two shows, "The Lost Room" and "Dirty Sexy Money" (wrote a blurb about that). And in addition to "Parenthood," he has two forthcoming projects, "Beastly" and "The Book of Matthew."

With so much going on, the question has to be raised: How often do we write about the same person who, at one time, lived in southern Minnesota but does not now? If it's for every project he works on, we'd have to write about Mr. Krause an awful lot, thereby foregoing coverage of someone (or a group) who is local now and producing local entertainment now.

Certainly, Gustavus and MSU have a lot to be proud of when it comes to their successful alumni. And Peter Krause is one of them. Hopefully, there weren't too many surprised readers when they saw the TV section with Krause on the cover and wondered where the local coverage was. Don't worry, he's been no stranger to our paper.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Fashion surprises, Oscar winners don't

Well, pretty much everyone predicted to win an Oscar Sunday night did. That's fine. The show was still pretty good, with Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin making a great pair to co-host. Very funny.

The fashion, on the other hand, held a lot of surprises. Lots of blushtones and metallics on the red carpet. Gorgeous! Of course, there were some epic failures as well. Vera Farmiga, nominated for "Up in the Air," looked like she was getting strangled by snake-like fuschia tulle. Zoe Saldana of "Avatar" seemed to be wearing two gowns: a pink sequined bodice with a full, purple, hydrangea-esqu skirt.

The A+ of the evening, for me, was Penelope Cruz in a dark red draped gown, sleeveless bodice and a longer train. Sandra Bullock was also a stunner in a white and silver appliqued dress.

To see all these and more, have a look at this slideshow.

Friday, March 5, 2010

I made my Oscar picks ...

Have you made yours?

It’s another one of those Oscar years when several of the major categories are locks.

For many, that makes for a boring broadcast of the prestigious awards show, which recognizes achievements in film. But the biggest prize of the night at the 82nd annual Academy Awards — Best Picture — seems to still be up for grabs. And one of the acting categories — Best Actress — isn’t all locked up, either, with Meryl Streep and Sandra Bullock vying for the golden statue.

The Oscars air live 7 p.m. Sunday on ABC. Here are my thoughts on the big categories.

Performance by an actor in a leading role
Nominees: Jeff Bridges in “Crazy Heart”; George Clooney in “Up in the Air”; Colin Firth in “A Single Man”; Morgan Freeman in “Invictus”; Jeremy Renner in “The Hurt Locker”
My take: Bridges is the favorite for his role as a washed-up country singer. “Crazy Heart” seemed to come out of obscurity this year just before awards season began, and suddenly Bridges’ name was on everyone’s lips in Hollywood.
If it hadn’t, Clooney or Firth would be duking it out. But as is, there’s no competition.

Performance by an actor in a supporting role
Nominees: Matt Damon in “Invictus”; Woody Harrelson in “The Messenger”; Christopher Plummer in “The Last Station”; Stanley Tucci in “The Lovely Bones”; Christoph Waltz in “Inglourious Basterds”
My take: Christoph Waltz’s speeches at the various awards shows have been murder to get through. He rambles. He pauses a lot. He has about as much spark as Ben Stein. But the point is, there’s a reason he’s been making them.
Waltz’s performance as “The Jew Hunter” was chilling and clever and even humorous. If there’s a curve ball to be thrown, Harrelson will win for his role as an officer with the Army’s Casualty Notification service. But I doubt it.

Performance by an actress in a leading role
Nominees: Sandra Bullock in “The Blind Side”; Helen Mirren in “The Last Station”; Carey Mulligan in “An Education”; Gabourey Sidibe in “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”; Meryl Streep in “Julie & Julia”
My take: If there was justice in the film world Carey Mulligan would have swept awards season for her fiery performance as a teenager in love with an older man in 1960s England. Sadly, Mulligan hadn’t won a thing until last week’s British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards, where she won best actress. But the BAFTAs usually lean toward British nominees. (Firth won for best actor, too.)
Instead, Streep and Bullock have been winning most of the awards, with Bullock taking the Golden Globe. Despite my inkling that Bullock has the edge, I cannot bring myself to check the box beside her name on my ballot. Her performance was one-note, flat, lifeless ... I could go on.
So, instead, I have to go with Streep as the likely winner. Besides Mulligan, I wasn’t terribly excited by any of the performances. But when does Streep not deserve an award?

Performance by an actress in a supporting role
Nominees: Penélope Cruz in “Nine”; Vera Farmiga in “Up in the Air”; Maggie Gyllenhaal in “Crazy Heart”; Anna Kendrick in “Up in the Air”; Mo’Nique in “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”
My take: As much as I’d like to root for Gyllenhaal, who has the best attitude about being nominated — simply enjoying the surprise honor — I cannot. Anyone who doesn’t know — with absolute certainty — that Mo’Nique is a sure thing hasn’t been paying attention. At all.

Achievement in directing
Nominees: “Avatar,” James Cameron; “The Hurt Locker,” Kathryn Bigelow, “Inglourious Basterds,” Quentin Tarantino, “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire,” Lee Daniels; “Up in the Air,” Jason Reitman
My take: History will be made Sunday when Bigelow becomes the first woman ever to win an Oscar for best director. For one, Oscar loves to get political, and the female aspect certainly helps out here.
Plus, despite the hype surrounding “Avatar,” the academy is made up of snobs, and I can’t see them getting behind a cartoon blockbuster (for all intents and purposes) for best direction.

Best motion picture of the year
Nominees: “Avatar”; “The Blind Side”; “District 9”; “An Education”; “The Hurt Locker”; “Inglourious Basterds”; “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”; “A Serious Man”; “Up”; “Up in the Air”
My take: This is the category that leaves room for debate. Some people think “Avatar” will win, given its recognition as best picture at the Golden Globes. Some think it will be “The Hurt Locker,” given its win at the BAFTAs and Critics Choice Awards. Others think “Up in the Air” will sneak up and take this one, simply because Oscar has enjoyed a surprise or two in the past, and the acclaimed film hasn’t received the recognition it deserves as of yet.
In a year when there is no clear winner — because all of the nominees are flawed — one must go with his or her gut. And mine says “The Hurt Locker.”

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Actual STARS on 'Dancing with the Stars'

What the WHAT! There are actual STARS slated for the next season of "Dancing With the Stars." Usually, we get to know them as the show progresses. But for the upcoming season, I actually know some of these people already! Who knew. ... Bonus No. 2 is that my Julianne Hough is coming back. She's my favorite pro, and she left for a bit to pursue country music.

Anyhow, listen to some of the folks signed on for the show, which kicks off March 22 on ABC: Buzz Aldrin (yep, the astronaut!); Kate Gosselin (yep, the creepy mother of 8!); Pam Anderson (that's right, "Baywatch" babe!); and Shannen Doherty (it's true, the b-word from "90210"!)

Read all about the rest of the cast here, and be sure to tune in on the 22nd. You won't want to miss the diva-off between Gosselin and Doherty. My money's on Doherty for the first full-on freakout moment.