Friday, September 28, 2007

Never a camera when I need one...

Rufus are the most aggressive, fightingest little bastards to wear hummingbird feathers. Hummingbirds, as a rule, ain't afraid of nothin' or nobody, and the Rufus will literally get right in your face and tell you so. (Hummingbirds are noisy little fuckers, especially when they're pissed off.) I had one several days ago hover about a foot from my glasses, giving me what-for. I was properly chastised, let me tell you.

But I really needed a camera this morning. I had the front door open, so the kitties could look out the screen door, watch the hummingbirds, and try to get some sun on this overcast day. Rajah was hanging by the screen door, sitting in his best Egyptian cat god imitation, when a little Rufus came down to check him out. They went nose to nose through the screen: orange cat, brown and green hummingbird.

Raj was agog. The hummingbird was not so impressed. He popped up to the feeder for a drink, and a few minutes later shot back down to take another look at Raj. And this time he opened up with the full monty: wings back, tail spread, squawking a challenge.

A Rufus doing his battle challenge looks like this:

Instead of Rajah attempting to strike at him through the screen, the encounter ended ignobly: Rajah crouching down, while the hummingbird berated him. And it wasn't the tail swishing, hips twitching 'Mighty Hunter' crouch, ready to pounce. Rather, it was the sad, tail tucked under, 'Mommy, he's picking on me!' crouch.

Hummingbird: 1. King-of-all-he-surveys: 0.

Bionic Woman & Life

I caught the reworked "Bionic Woman" pilot last night. Somewhat better. I do like the new sister more than the old, if only because she is written as slightly less angry, bitter and angsty than the original. (omg! Sister #2 actually smiled once!)

Both actresses that played the sister were fine: but boy, Jaime is angry, bitter and angsty enough: having the two sisters competing for the angsty, angry and bitter prize was unbearable. I'm not sure why they dropped the sister's deafness: one friend heard the network was afraid of backlash since they had cast a hearing actor in the role. I'm actually not sure if the original actress was hearing or not (which says good things about her performance) -- I'm only repeating a rumor I heard. Believe it at your own risk.

I saw the original pilot several weeks ago, but the sister stuff seemed to be the only changes made. Certainly the only ones I noticed, anyway. It's understandable, due to cost and time considerations. The doctor boyfriend is still a bit of a drip, and Jaime is still, yes, angry, bitter and angsty.

Hey, I'm a huge "Buffy" fan: I love dark. I love angsty, and god knows I'm bitter. But for cryin' out loud, leaven it a little bit. Even as grim and tense a film as "The Brave One" has comic relief. And we're talking about "The Bionic Woman" here -- not brain surgery.

The highlight of the "BW" pilot is still very much Katee Sackhoff as Sarah Corvus. That's felony grand theft right there: she stole the whole damn show. And I'd forgotten how much subtexty goodness there was in the bar scene between Jaime and Sarah. Ohh my. It's sad but true: Michelle Ryan has much more chemistry with Sackhoff than she does with Chris Bowers, her ostensible love interest. Heh, heh. I mean, oops. Let's hope they build on it, instead of ignoring it.

The show is being reworked, so I'll keep tuning in to see how they're doing with the changes. Apparently "Bionic" kicked ass in the ratings. Be interesting to see how the ratings hold up next week.

"Life" -- I ended up really liking this one: primarily for Sarah Shahi. They've actually written a complex and interesting role for her. She's in recovery, and her career as a detective is on life support.

I found the lead character annoying for the first part of the show: but by the end of the show his quirkyness was working for me. They did a good job mixing the stand alone plot with the arc plot of our hero trying to solve the murder case that sent him to prison. It's well balanced: the stand alone plot took up most of the show, while they gave us enough of the arc plot to get us interested. Good pilot -- has promise. I'll definitely watch this one.

"Life" did very well in the ratings, winning it's time-slot. Yay! A show I like might not get canceled right away! (Yes, I'm looking at you, Fox, you "Firefly" and "Drive" cancelling bastards.)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Journeyman, Dirty Sexy Money, and K-Ville

"Journeyman" -- I was just "ehh" on this. Well done show -- just didn't grab me. I didn't care about the hero, nor did I care about the story, and that's just fatal. It's on after "Heroes" though, so I'll probably give it a few eps to see if I get into it.

"Dirty Sexy Money" - eeuuw. Pass. I love Peter Krause, and his Nick George is a very likeable character, as is his family. But the "Darling" clan -- they need to be shot. A number of fine actors, (Donald Sutherland, Jill Clayburgh (!) et al), wasted playing a bunch of a-holes no one would want to spend time with. Certainly not me. Dear god. I got a headache listening to them whine and bitch, and every time poor Nick's phone would ring my headache got worse. And those bastards kept his phone ringing constantly, what with the whining, and the bitching, and all. He has my sympathy, but not enough to keep me suffering with him.

"Dirty Sexy Money" may not be around long. It trailed, badly, in the ratings. From reuters: ""Dirty" was down 34% compared with last season's premiere of "Lost" in the same time period and down 22% from the October 4, 2006, premiere of the short-lived "The Nine.""

Ouch! It opened significantly down from "The Nine"? Didn't "The Nine" get yanked after only 6 eps? Whoops, no, I was wrong. It lasted 7 eps.

The long term prognosis does not look good. Sorry, Peter.

"K-Ville" -- Pass. A big disappointment. I was looking forward to this one. Poorly written, and poorly made. The plot was ridiculous, particularly in the villain's motivation. The production values were poor. During a shoot out, our heroes run down a street, chasing a gun-man in a car, their guns blazing. Jump cut to them in the middle of a car chase. Okay, I was willing to give them that one. But when the car chase ended by them finally finding the car overturned and the gunman long gone... come on. 2 seconds before they were right on his tail, exchanging shots. And we didn't get to see the stunt? Cheap, cheap, cheap.

I couldn't believe it. An actual "El Gringo Bravo" moment. In "El Gringo Bravo" the climax takes place off screen, and then the hero enters and says to the camera: "Wow! That was a great effect! Too bad you couldn't see it!"

The difference between the two being, of course, that "El Gringo Bravo" was an ultra-low budget indie comedy that cost about 5 cents to make, and "K-Ville" is a network tv show. And "El Gringo Bravo" did it better.

Topped by "El Gringo Bravo." How embarrassing.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

What the $$$@!#@!!##@#$%???

Phil Spector walks. Un-fucking-believable. Apparently the jury was hung, 10-2.

So, were these the two stupidest jurors on earth, or was there jury tampering involved? Keeeerist!! This is so unbelievable. Phil Fucking Spector walking? Phil "I'm so crazy I can't even begin to fake sanity in the courtroom" Spector?

Apparently celebrity is a true get a jail free card -- whether it's DUI or murder charges.


Oh great. I just saw a short interview with one of the brain trust that voted for aquittal. What a fucking moron.

Monday, September 24, 2007

TV Pilots extravaganza

One of my friends had his not quite always annual
pilots watching party this year, so I got to see a
number of the new shows. Of course, all that follows
is just my opinion: your mileage may vary.


1) "Sarah Connor Chronicles". This pilot rocked. It
felt very much like a Terminator movie. A very good
Terminator movie. (I thought "Sarah Connor" was far
superior to "T3"). This pilot probably cost a fortune,
and was action packed. Whether or not they can keep up
this level throughout the series is the big question.
But hey, even it they can't, Lena Headey and Summer
in kick-ass roles -- can't beat that with a
stick. Sadly, we won't see it until mid-season.

2) "Reaper". Very funny. Ray Wise as Satan is a
must-see. I wasn't expecting to even like this one,
and just loved it. Premieres 9/25 on the CW.

3) "Chuck". Another surprise. The pilot was a real
charmer. Also, I certainly appreciated Yvonne Strahovski
as the CIA agent who ends up protecting Chuck. Yowsa!

4) "New Amsterdam". Unfortunately, this has been
pushed to mid-season. There are several shows with an
immortal protagonist debuting this year: this was,
IMHO, by far the best. The only one with a real
feeling for the passage of time, and its effect on our
hero Amsterdam. Also, the lead is very good, and very
attractive. You know, for a guy.

Possibles: (Shows I didn't love, but are worth an
additional few episodes to see how they do.)

1) Bionic Woman. One of the shows I was looking
forward to the most. Sadly, the pilot was lacking. It
was very dark, without even a smidgen of humor. The
one bright spot in the pilot was Katee Sackhoff,
playing the villain, who just plain stole the whole
show. I've heard a lot of complaints about Michelle
Ryan, who plays Jaime. I actually think she's fine:
she was just playing the role as it was written. The
show is being reworked, so we'll see.

2)"Big Bang Theory". This comedy shows promise. It's
not quite there yet, but it's a Chuck Lorre show, and
he's great. Also, Sarah Gilbert will be joining the
cast later in the season.

3) "Pushing Daisies". Most of my friends LOVED this
show. I mean, they passionately adore it. It didn't
grab me. I love quirky, but this was a little too
studied in its quirkyness for me. On the other hand,
it is genuinely original. There's nothing else like it
on the air. Definitely worth taking a look: as I said,
everyone else I know loves it.

4) "Back to You". Solid comedy with Kelsey Grammer and
Patricia Heaton. Fred Willard steals every scene he's
in. A very professional, competent show. Has some
kinks to iron out, but likely to be on the air for the
long haul.

Shows to miss:

1)"Viva Laughlin". Dear god. I was so looking
forward to this show. I love musicals, and I love Hugh
, but this show is dead on arrival. They made a
huge mistake: instead of just having the actors sing,
they sing along to the original song - complete with
the original vocals. It's confusing: one of my friends
asked: "Are they all supposed to be singing and
dancing along with the radio?" C'mon, if you're going
to do a musical, have the guts to just go and do a

Also, it's occasionally really painful: when Melanie
is mangling a Blondie song, you not only hear
her caterwauling, but you have the real vocals to
compare her to at the same time. Ohhh, boy. If you're
at all interested in this, catch it early. Seriously:
I'm predicting one episode and out. A damn shame.

2) "Midnight". It felt like a tired "Angel" retread.
We watched it right after "New Amsterdam" and it
covered some of the same ground about immortality:
only not half as well as "Amsterdam". The lead also
suffered in comparison to the lead of "Amsterdam".
This show is also being re-worked. The network has
brought in David Greenwalt to run the show. He
co-created and was the showrunner for the first few
seasons of "Angel". (*cough, cough*) I'll probably
tune in just to see what Greenwalt does with it.

Unfortunately, we ran out of time before we could
watch "Journeyman" or "Life". I'm very interested in
Journeyman -- it's been getting good reviews. Seems
like a good fit with "Chuck" and "Heroes".

"Life" co-stars Sarah Shahi. Triple yowsa! All I've seen of
it are publicity photos of her with her badge and gun.
That's enough! I'm there!

Overall, it looks like an unusually strong tv season
this year. A number of good new shows.

Sunday, September 23, 2007


I finally saw Greystone for the first time today. After fifteen years in L.A., I'm still finding cool places. I knew of Greystone, of course. The fabled Doheny family mansion, once home to the American Film Institute (AFI). I knew of it long before I became friends with one of the grandchildren of the family. But I had never seen it.

I certainly had no idea that the grounds are a park, open to the public. It was a beautiful, sharply clear afternoon after our several days of rain, and Greystone was a lovely, relaxing place to spend the afternoon. I went with several friends, and we wandered all over.

According to the official site, (, Greystone had "55 liveable rooms, (67 in all) in 46, 054 square feet." (Yep, it really is that big.) "The estate included tennis courts, a swimming pool and pavilion, kennels, waterfalls, lakes (!!), stables, greenhouse and a playhouse." (The exclamation points are all mine. Lakes! In L.A.! And I love the idea of a private playhouse. I'd love to know who performed there. Wouldn't you?)

A lot of the original acreage has been sold off. The lakes are gone, as is the greenhouse. The old gardens are mostly intact - or, at least, have been somewhat replanted as a water and firewise demonstration garden. Part of the upper garden was sacrificed to make the parking lot.

The main water feature, a series of falls down to the main house, is dry, the bed filled with blue glass as an art installation. The pool has been filled in with brick, but the pool house is still there. Here's a photo of the bricked in pool, and the pool house in the background. Ignore the white square in the middle: the actual outline of the pool is the curving white outside line. (photo by Alan M. Pavlik.)

Even with the pool filled in I was irresistibly reminded of the scene in "The Philadelphia Story" when Tracy is in the pool, pushing a model of the True Love. "She was yar. Until she developed dry rot." Where are Tracy Lord and C.K. Dexter Haven when you need them? This house cries out for them....

The grounds have numerous fountains, courtyards, several ponds with Koi and turtles, and a fantastic view of L.A. Of course, I neglected to bring my camera. I'm skillful like that. If there's something to be forgotten, I'm just the girl to forget it.

The house was closed today, but you can call and arrange to go on their tours of the property, including the first floor of the house. The house and grounds have been used as a filming location for many, many movies and tv shows. Of particular interest to me was its use in the Spider-Man films, no doubt as the interior of Harry's house.

The Gothic English house is incredibly imposing, a grande dame, magnificently beautiful in her decay. We peered through leaded glass windows all around the first floor, gaining glimpses of gorgeous hand-carved woodwork, lovely tile floors, incredibly ornate ceilings, and a huge painting over a fireplace.

The weight of the past is felt everywhere around the property. The beauty of what's left is a shadow of the glories of the past. And of course, the house comes complete with it's own murder mystery. In 1929, just six months after moving in, Ned Doheny and his close confidant and private secretary, Hugh Plunkett, were found dead in an apparent murder-suicide. Plunkett was having mental problems, and shot Doheny and then himself -- at least, that's the official version. This is a Hollywood scandal involving the very wealthy: of course there are many competing theories. If you're curious, you can read more about the murder here: Meanwhile, here's a photo of Greystone from 1929. That good sized building in the foreground is the gatehouse.

The only blight on the afternoon was the hideous, and hideously large construction project right next door. Except that this is one of the most exclusive residential neighborhoods in Beverly Hills, you would swear that somebody's building a mall next door. Ghastly. I wish I had my camera. Mere words can't do this behemoth justice. Here's hoping it looks better when they get the facing on the building, and get the grounds planted again. Actually, here's just hoping it's really not a damn mall.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Weather continues

It rained today: a lot of rain. An article I read said this was the first measurable rainfall we've had since April 22nd. Forest Lawn is closed to traffic due to a "debris slide" until sometime tonight. I'm glad I spent the day at home, watching my hummingbirds go nuts, and practicing folding and unfolding my Tikit.

Friday, September 21, 2007


It got... cold. And then dark. I looked up into the sky and there were these gray, roiling things, moving across the sky. I racked my brains, and finally came up with the word: clouds!

Then the inconceivable happened. Moisture fell from the sky! Here! In the Hollywood Hills!

Of course, this happened right after I finally had time to put my Tikit together. No ride today.

At the end of the day, the hummingbirds were going nuts at the front feeders. All twelve ports on the feeders were full, with several more birds winging around the feeders, trying to get a spot. The front feeders are partially sheltered under the balcony, and each feeder has its own rainguard, so the birds are pretty happy there no matter how much it rains.