Full version of “Welcome to New York” released

Taylor Swift’s latest, via Stereogum.  It sounds almost a like a dance club remix of a Taylor Swift song.  It’s catchy and I kind of like it;  I giver her credit for changing her sound up a little bit.  Seems that she’s moving straight into Katy Perry territory, though without all of the fluffy  kittens and over the top antics.  I haven’t heard the entire album yet but it also appears that it’s not loaded with Feminist anthems like Katy’s albums are.

Sonically, however, it’s not such a big leap to “Roar” or “Teen Age Dream” but Taylor’s vibe is cleaner and less cluttered.  I guess I’ll have to buy my first Taylor Swift Album.  Maybe that’s the point – this could be her first grown up pop record.

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James Marsden Joins HBO’s ‘Westworld’

Pure Fluff:

This looks really good!

Originally posted on Variety:

James Marsden has been tapped to join HBO’s upcoming sci-fi pilot “Westworld.”

The one-hour drama is inspired by Michael Crichton’s 1973 Western thriller about the dawn of artificial consciousness and the future of sin.

Marsden is set to play Teddy Flood, a mysterious new arrival to a small frontier town. Teddy quickly proves both his charm — and his talent with a revolver — while his pursuit of a local beauty launches him on a dark odyssey.

Eddie Rouse has also been cast for the role of Kissy, a laconic American-Indian who deals cards and contraband from the town saloon.

Anthony Hopkins, Evan Rachel Wood, Jeffrey Wright, Rodrigo Santoro, Shannon Woodward, Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, Angela Sarafyan and Simon Quarterman will also star.

Jonathon Nolan is set to write and direct. Executive producers include J.J. Abrams, Jerry Weintraub and Bryan Burk.

Marsden can be seen in the upcoming Nicholas Sparks film “Best of Me” and “Business…

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Anthony Bourdain Breaks Down Cinema History for ‘Parts’

Pure Fluff:

Excellent article about Bourdain’s CNN series “Parts Unknown”.

Originally posted on Variety:

It’s been well over a decade since Anthony Bourdain, former executive chef of Manhattan’s Les Halles and author of bestselling memoir “Kitchen Confidential,” became a TV star. With his Travel Channel series “No Reservations” and “The Layover,” Food Network’s “A Cook’s Tour” and stints on “The Taste” — for which he’s Emmy-nominated for his hosting duties for a second year in a row — and “Top Chef,” Bourdain is an old pro at this point. But when Bourdain and his longtime crew moved over to CNN to kick off the multiple-Emmy nominee “Parts Unknown,” they faced one big problem: How do you make something new while working in a genre — nonfiction television — that relies on repeating the same general formula every week?

“It’s a limited story that we’re telling, ultimately,” Bourdain says. “On every episode, I go someplace, I eat a bunch of stuff, and I come back.”

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‘Big Brother’ Matches Season High on Night of Preemptions

Pure Fluff:

It might be boring to the NY Post but the rating seem solid.

Originally posted on Variety:

Despite preemptions or delays due to preseason football, CBS’ “Big Brother” matched its season high on Thursday, an atypical night saw lower ratings for the other firstrun shows on the Big Four.

The major networks all had lower national clearances as a result of the NFL exhibition games, with “Big Brother” seen in 96% of the country (including delays that pushed it past 11 p.m. in some markets), NBC’s “Last Comic Standing” in 95%, and the ABC’s “Rookie Blue” in just 91%.

NBC and ABC also preempted their lineups for about 12 minutes at around 9:30 p.m. ET as President Obama told the nation that the U.S. has authorized limited airstrikes in Iraq.

Looking at the “live plus same-day” national estimates released Friday afternoon by Nielsen, CBS followed repeats of “The Big Bang Theory” (2.1 rating/8 share in adults 18-49, 8.32 million viewers overall) and “Mom” (1.8/7 in 18-49, 6.75…

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The Quest Season 1 Episode 2, “Tournament for the Queen” – Recap and Analysis

meet.the_.queen_ sir.ansgar

Recap

After a bit of exposition and explanation, this week’s episode jumps into the competition.  The paladins are crudely awakened by a banging on their barrack doors.  Downstairs, Crio informs them that Queen Ralia XXIII demands their presence.  When before the queen, they are to politely bow and not speak unless spoken to by the queen.  She welcomes them and says that all of Everealm’s hopes rest on their shoulders.  The Grand Vizier tells her that their resources are slim but that their accommodations are suitable.  Sir Ansgard agrees.  Suddenly a wounded man bursts into the room and queen is rushed out of the chamber.  The dying man informs them that Verlox continues his approach and will reach Sanctum in a few days.

With a new sense of urgency Sir Ansgard leads the paladins to the equine training grounds.  They must train and compete while on horseback.  While riding on her horse, Leticia loses her portion of the Sun Spear.  Sir Ansgard retrieves it, but not before embarrassing her before the entire company, holding the piece before them asking who lost it. He lectures her to not disappoint him. The paladins are then lead into the training course to begin this week’s challenge.  Queen Ralia will watch the competition under an awning nearby.  It’s a military exercise.

680-16x9 ABC-The-Quest-season-1-episode-2 (1) JASMINE KYLE, PATRICK HIGGINS, LETICIA REYES, LINA CAROLLO, ANDREW FRAZER, ASHLEY GUERRERO

Challenge:  This week the paladins must compete individually.  While on horseback, they must complete the gauntlet comprised of several tasks laid out consecutively: Archery (three arrows with 150 points possible), spear throw (one at 55), jousting (15) and war hammer (15). At each station they must score as many points as possible.  The paladin scoring the most points will earn the badge of dexterity.  The bottom three will once again be subject to the whim of the Fates and must compete in an elimination competition.  The winner of this challenge will be safe for another week, while the other two will be up for a vote by their fellow paladins.  They will decide which of the two they will get behind.  The paladin with most support (votes) will remain for another week.  The loser will be banished from Everealm.

Jasmine is first up and she scores well with 91 points.  Ashely is up next.  She’s a horse trainer so more is expected of her.  Unfortunately, her archery and spearing skills are not equally strong.  She underwhelms with only 32 points.  She is greatly disappointed.  Leticia is nervous about being on a horse. She goes very slowly but racks up 83 points.  With her slothful pace, she might not do so well in an actual battle.

Jim is up next and fails miserably at archery and scores 35 points.  Most of the paladins are clumped together and seem safe for the week (although not exactly killing it): Adria 56, Patrick 86, Andrew 91 and Lina 80. Andrew goes before the queen and calls her “Milady” which is a faux pas.

Bonnie is up next and she has major trouble controlling her horse and flails through the gauntlet, scoring just 40 points.  Sir Ansgard tells her she must do better or she will “get killed”. Christian is up next and the expectations are high, but he fails again. He cannot control his horse and gets off to a terrible start, missing the target with all of his arrows.  He finishes at the bottom with 30 points, in spite of confidence bordering on arrogance and purported excellence in archery.  Shondo, the MMA fighter is up next and he crushes it with 183 points – the obvious winner.  He receives the Badge of Dexterity.

Results:  Jim, Ashley and Christian are the bottom three and must face the fates.  The Grand Vizier sneers, “Shame isn’t it, another one will be banished”.

Elimination Competition:  The Fates challenge involves blacksmithing.  They must mount five horseshoes onto a wheel; the first to finish will be safe.  They must take the hot horseshoes out of the fire.  Jim seems focused and completes the challenge first.

Final Vote:  Ashely and Christian are the bottom two for this week.  The paladins discuss the various merits of each.  Christian seems to have forged better relationships with his fellow paladins and squeaks by with a 5-4 victory, in spite of finishing at the bottom of the first two challenges.  For someone who claims expertise in the skills of Everealm, he has failed miserably.  With a wisp of smoke, Ashley is banished from Everealm.  Two women have now been eliminated.

Conclusion:

After the banishment, the paladins sit down for a meal in the courtyard of Sanctum. They are joined by the queen at a long banquet table.  She begins to regale them with tales from her childhood when the Grand Vizier arrives.  She orders wine for the table and toasts the paladins. After she sips her wine the queen grabs her throat, seemingly poisoned.  Confusion reigns and the episode comes to close.  Will the queen be saved?

Analysis

What will happen to the queen?  I enjoyed the cliffhanger for this episode, which gave viewers more of a taste of epic fantasy than a straight reality show.  It would appear that the paladins will be charged with saving their biggest ally, who has been poisoned.  If they cannot save her, what will happen to Everealm? Who is next in line?.  There are many unanswered questions for next week.  Each episode seems too short and I find myself Jonesing for more.

After two weeks, it is becoming clear who the toughest competitors are.  Jasmine surprised with her 90+ point performance, while most of the other competitors disappointed.  Shondo doubled the points of his nearest competitor and is clearly focused and talented.  That leads to this week’s power rankings…

1. Shondo – Cleary a beast in the individual challenges.  His performance evinced the polish and poise of a professional athlete.  He is going to be tough to beat.

2. Jasmine – Despite little experience in horseback riding or any of the skills in the gauntlet, she excelled with over 90 points.  She has a good attitude and when asked how she learned these skills she said “my imagination”.

3. Andrew – He’s done well in both challenges and seems a solid performer, although he has failed to break out of the pack.

4. Lina – She seems well balanced and scored in the upper half on this challenge.

5. Patrick – On the bottom in the first round, he did a passable job in this round, but failed to distinguish himself.  He seems to have some ability but has to apply it to the competition.

6. Bonnie – She won the badge of achievement in the first round and appears to have some skill, although she did poorly in this task.

7. Leticia – She seems a bit overwhelmed and lost her portion of the Sun Spear this week.  She rode the gauntlet very slowly and would be quickly slaughtered in battle.

8. Jim – Did horribly this week but rallied in the elimination challenge.  Hopefully he will be a stronger competitor going forward.  Perhaps Quidditch expertise is not sufficient preparation for The Quest.

9. Adria – She seems to be less skilled than the others.  She has yet to prove she belongs in the competition.

10. Christian – He has talked a great game but has been an utter failure in the competitions.  His Renaissance Fair experience has yet to translate into performance in Everealm. He does not react well in pressure situations.  If he finishes on the bottom again next week, he’s a goner.

For more information on the paladins click here.

BB16 – Is Zach really getting eliminated?

nicole_-_all_sausages

Although there has been a lot of discussion in the Big Brother house about Zach possibly going home, it seems unlikely to occur at this time.  In order for this to happen Victoria and least one of the Detonators would have to vote for Zach, causing a tie.  Then Nicole would cast the tie breaking vote.

Why would the Detonators get rid of one of their own?  If they vote as a block, Zach is safe, which is by far the most likely scenario.  There has been much chatter about Cody and Derrick flipping for this vote, but I don’t buy it.  Why would they get rid of their goofy but loyal alliance member?

Similarly, Christine has vowed to vote Zach out. Really?  If she really wanted him out she could used the Power of Veto (POV) on Jocasta and allowed Nicole to bring in Frankie or someone else to make sure Zach is a goner.  And what about Victoria?  Which side is she on?

In order for Zach to get voted out, Hayden, Donny, Victoria and one other person will have to vote for Zach.  Nicole, Jocasta and Zach cannot vote.  So, that leaves the Detonators + Caleb which is 5 votes.  If Christine follows through on her promise to vote Zach then it could potentially be a tie (depending upon the vote of the ultimate floater, Victoria).  So the planets would truly have to align for Zach to be voted out.  If they all stick to their alliances, then Jocasta goes home.  I don’t believe Derrick and Cody are ready to ditch the Detonators, they just want to play both sides.  So it seems pretty obvious, unless somebody breaks the alliance, that Jocasta will be going home tonight.

The best part about tonight, however, is the double elimination.  With Nicole having put up a detonator, expect her or Donny (another threat) to be on the block if one of the Detonators wins the second HoH tonight.  It should interesting at least – which is worth something in this otherwise uninspiring season.

Master Chef Season 5, Episode 10, Top 11 Compete aka “A Craft not an Art” – Recap and Analysis

Recap

This week begins with a Mystery Box Challenge.  They have two boxes before them, one containing household ingredients, the other more sophisticated upscale items.  The home cooks will have to choose which box of ingredients they would like to use to prepare their dish for the judges.  The lesser box contains things like ground beef, ham steak, ice berg lettuce, processed cheese dip, tilapia and other common items.  The elevated box includes Kobe beef, Berkshire pork chop, Ahi tuna, black truffles, stilton cheese and caviar. There isn’t a right or wrong box and they will only be judged on their cooking.

Mystery Box Challenge:  Teams will have one hour to prepare a savory dish with either the deluxe or pedestrian box.  Each chef has their own idea of what to cook and they are split between using the lesser and elevated ingredients.   This is the first time ever that home cooks have been given a choice in a Mystery Box.  The problem with the elevated box is that you will need to know to cook the more difficult to cook items such as Kobe which cooks quickly.  The lesser box will have to be transformed into something worthy of the judges.

With 20 minutes remaining the chefs are well into their preparation.  Courtney, Elizabeth, Francis and Leslie are using the elevated box.  Victoria and Daniel are using the common ingredients.  Joe grills Leslie over the lack of seasoning in his dish. Joe tells him there is no salt.  Francis is making a filet and tuna chessboard with blocks of Kobe beef and Ahi tuna.  The judges are excited about Victoria’s common box tilapia dish.  The judges make one final pass through the kitchen to select the top three dishes.

Elizabeth is the first to be called up to the front of the room.  She’s made pan roasted Berkshire pork chop with herbed biscuits and pea salad.  It’s a delicious blend of a mustard cream sauce and properly cooked pork.  It’s cooked through but not dry and crumbly.  The seasoning is perfect and Chef Elliot calls it the best dish she has prepared so far.  Joe agrees that it’s a great dish and that she is “one to watch”.

Victoria used the everyday items to make a Tilapia and Ham Steak (with Nacho Cheese Sauce) with Iceberg Lettuce Salad with bacon and pickle vinagrette and side of potato crisps.

Leslie has used the elevated basket to perfection. He has prepared a trio of Kobe Beef, Ahi Tuna and Berkshire Pork with Truffle Puree, Stilton and Pea Puree.  He was the only who “had the balls” to cook all three premium proteins, which has given him and edge.  Chef Ramsay tells him he’s cooked his best dish “at the perfect moment”.  Even Joe must admit it is seasoned perfectly.

Results:  Leslie gets the “game changing” win.  He will have two distinct advantages in the next round.  He is happy to finally win.  The other chefs, like Elizabeth are “terrified” as they have shown him so much disdain throughout the competition.

Leslie is taken into the pantry.  He will get to choose which stuffed pasta the rest of the cooks will have to prepare for their next challenge.  He can choose between Joe’s tortellini, Graham’s caramelle, which resembles a piece of wrapped candy, with the two twisted ends pointing out and Gordon’s Ravilacci.  Each has their challenges but Leslie chooses the caramelle.

Pressure Test: Joe’s sample is classic mozzarella stuffed caramelle with grated cheese and a light tomato sauce.  This is their target and standard upon which they will be judged.  Chefs will have 60 minutes in total and five minutes in the pantry to collect their items. Each will be given a pasta maker to use to prepare the caramelle from scratch.

But wait, Leslie gets one more advantage besides immunity from this challenge….he gets to pick one chef who will use an old fashioned rolling pin in lieu of the pasta maker.  After toying with a few contestants, he chooses Daniel, who is visibly upset.  It seems to rattle him and negatively affects his performance.  Leslie is ecstatic.

In the pantry, Cutter analyzes the ingredients and searches for the Gorgonzola cheese.  Scottish Francis makes the decision to “go bold” and color his pasta beet red to look like candy.  Daniel and Big Willie also try to go “outside the box” but they fall flat.  Joe wanted a traditional mozzarella filled pasta dish, not experimental gastronomy.

Judge Elliot stops by Big Willie who is making a dessert caramelle.  He tells Willie that it is “crazy town” what he is doing.  Joe stops by Daniel’s station and he says he “seems to be in pretty good shape” aside from his wine reduction.

Jaimee is making a traditional mozzarella stuffed dish, copying her father’s traditional Italian recipe.  The judges don’t know why Frances (Ramsay says his dish tasted awful) and others were taking unnecessary risks when the competition called for a straightforward Italian dish.  The standard is that is should be something the Joe could serve in one of his restaurants.

Daniel’s dish is a disaster.  Joe says it looks more like a steamed dumpling in a Chinese restaurant.  The pasta is too thick (never put red wine into pasta).  His biggest challenge was not the curveball thrown by Leslie but his own poor decisions.  He made this task more difficult than it needed to be.  Chef Ramsay calls it, “disgusting”.

Jaimee’s caramelle, made according to her father’s recipe, is delicious.  Joe loves it and would be happy to serve it in one of his restaurants.  He thanks her and says she brought him a “taste of Queens”.  She nailed it, following Joe’s directions precisely.

Scottish Francis presents his too out of the box dish.  It’s beet juice colored, short rib filled with a cauliflower puree.  Chef Elliot hates it.

Cutter is up next and he has made another great dish.  He is the only to have made his caramelle with a cream sauce.  Chef Ramsay says he “cooks like an angel” although he looks like a ruffian.

Courtney has made (according to Joe), caramelle filled with mozzarella with fresh tomato sauce. “A super sexy, simple dish”.

Big Willie is also goes too far out of the box with his dessert pasta.  Chef Ramsay is angry and unimpressed.  He says “it looks like regurgitated dog vomit”.  He calls him “Lazy Willie not Big Willie”.

Results:  The top two dishes were made by Courtney and Jaimee (winning dish).  The two Italian ladies will be the captains in the next episode’s team challenge.  Bottom three are Daniel, Francis and Willie.  Daniel and Big Willie are safe and Francis is eliminated.  Joe tells him “our business is a craft not an art”.  Francis is sad to leave on the cusp of the Top 10.  He wants to harness his experience and continue on his culinary path.

Analysis

It was a bit shocking to see Scottish Francis turn in his apron.  He seemed to be one of the more interesting and talented performers.  But he hasn’t done much in recent weeks and his dish failed on every level – appearance, taste and staying true to Joe’s challenge.  So it makes sense that he would be sent packing.  That aside, I’m sorry to see him go because he always provided a spark and willingness to look at this differently and take risks.  Good Luck Scottish Francis!

The good news is that fan favorite Big Willie survived.  But for how long?  He seems to seem to suffer the same affliction as Francis, the desire to go too far beyond the guidelines of the given task.  When Joe Bastianich tells you to make a mozzarella filled caramelle with a red sauce, you have to work within certain parameters.  You cannot entirely ignore the call of the question.  It’s clear the winners, the two Italian women, knew exactly how to prepare the dish Joe craved.  Cutter, continuing his resurgence, mixed it up a little bit by making a vodka cream white sauce, for which he was commended.  There’s a difference between creativity and foolhardy over exuberance.

The competition is now down to its final 10 home cooks.  It’s starting to heat up as the remaining chefs are all pretty strong with many of the weaker competitors sent home.  Scottish Francis was unquestionably the best cook so far to be eliminated.  For a time, he looked like he could win this competition.  If he played it safe this week and just knocked out a solid pasta dish, he’s be moving on and could threaten to take the Master Chef crown.  However, in trying to shoot the moon, he shot himself in the foot.

First Tier – Likely Final 4

1. Courtney – She roared back to life this week and crushed the pasta dish.   To be sure, she probably made this hundreds times in her Italian household but she delivered.  She will choose and lead one team in next week’s team challenge.

2. Elizabeth – She did well in the mystery box challenge, almost winning it again.

3. Ahran – She was not the focus of this week’s episode, so nothing positive or negative.

4. Leslie – He rebounded after a tough week to win the Mystery Box Challenge and avoided his first Elimination Challenge in a while.

The Second Tier – Middle of the Pack

5. Jaimee – She crushed the pasta dish and won the Elimination Challenge.  She will choose and lead one team in next week’s group challenge.  Her culinary range is still in question, but she is hanging tough.

6. Cutter – He had another strong week and even garnered praise from Chef Ramsay.  Is he really the comeback kid or are we going to witness a return of clumsy, clueless Cutter?

7. Victoria – She was in the top three of the Mystery Box challenge and continues to compete.

8. Christian – Not much from him this week, but a past challenge winner who can cook.

Third Tier – Most in Danger of Elimination

9. Daniel – He hit the skids this week after Leslie threw down the hand roller in exchange for his pasta maker.  He seemed rattled and made poor decisions almost leading to his dismissal from the competition.  Caramelle should not taste like a spicy Chinese dumpling.

10. Big Willie – Another clueless performance and he seemed unaware of what the judges wanted for this task.  Perhaps his cooking schools are too related to dessert and he’s not able to translate into more standard dinner fare. But it shouldn’t be so difficult to make a cheese filled pasta with red sauce.   Let’s hope Willie figures it out before it’s too late.

 

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