Friday, February 25, 2011

Best Picture Nominees... in Legos

I love this guy's creativity!  Wish I had the resources to be this creative and get featured on CNN!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

American Idol 10: My thoughts so far...

So my foray into the blogosphere intially started with my American Idol blog called "4 the Love of Idol".  I started it because I loved the show and wanted a way to talk to my friends and family about it even if we were miles apart.  Although it was something that I was passionate about, last season burned me out... as I felt I was attempting to blog about a season that was less than stellar.  None of the contestants really made me want to buy thier CD's or concert tickets... and all in all, it was kind of a let down for me after loving American Idol for the previous 8 seasons (well... except that weird season 5 Taylor Hicks debacle...).

Add to this frustration the fact that Simon Cowell was leaving Idol, and I was completely underwhelmed about blogging this year.  Going into the season, I told myself I wasn't going to waste my time on it.  If Simon was leaving, they might as well just cancel Idol.  He makes the show.

Now that we are four weeks into season 10 of Idol... I have three words to sum up my initial feelings:

I. Was. Wrong.

Dead wrong. Idol is completely capable of existing without Simon.  In fact... I have no fear in saying that I even think Idol is BETTER this year.  Dare I say, better than EVER?  I will definitely stick my neck out and say, thus far, this is my favorite season of Idol ever.

Now I know some of you may disagree with me.... but hear me out.  I'll give you my reasons why I feel that this revamp of Idol was the best thing they could do to revive the series from its dead-on-arrival ninth season:

  • Steven Tyler is captivating.  Steven has this unique way of being funny and heartfelt all wrapped into one.  Did anyone expect Steven to be as lovable and sympathetic as he is?  I know I didn't.  Plus... the guy has got jokes!  He makes me laugh at least once an episode.  I love his energy and enthusiasm for the contestants.  I love that he will randomly break into song with a contestant.  At first I thought this was a disasterous decision by the Idol team to add him to the panel, but now we are seeing what the execs must have seen all along.  He can captivate an audience and bring a fresh approach to the judging panel.
  • Jennifer Lopez is endearing.  JLO was another person that I totally had a false perception of.  I thought she was going to come in and be all diva-ish, when in actuality she is quite the opposite.  She is relatable, approachable, and loving.  And the most important thing about all of those qualities is that she can be all of them at once, without being clingy, annoying and self centered.  Which brings me to my third reason:
  • The panel doesn't include a Paula or a Kara.  For the first time in Idol history, there isn't a whiny, overly weepy, fake female on the panel!  So yes, Jennifer does cry, but it is completely sincere.  Paula and Kara just brought this ingenuine feeling to the panel.  They were emotional, and tried to make it seem that they genuinely cared for the contestants, but I just didn't really feel it.  With Jennifer, I feel it.  Without Paula or Kara on the panel, it has improved the show tremendously.
  • Randy has more substance.  With Randy stepping up as the senior member of the panel, I feel like he is contributing more than he has in past seasons.  He's not all "dawg"ed out this season, and I appreciate it.  He's giving the contestants more constructive feedback instead of just telling them he "wasn't feelin' it". 
But let's face it.  All these previous points would be moot if it wasn't for the contestants that actually come and try out.  Even after 10 years of this show, I feel that they found a fantastic pool of talent.  There are great singers... but also great personalities.  Some of my favorites so far include:

Ashton Jones: A mix of Rhianna and Beyonce.  She definitely has the look and the chops to back it up.  Plus, she seems so darn sweet and likable.
Julie Zorrilla:  This girl is gorgeous, and she has a beautiful delicate voice.  It was nice to hear her play the keyobard as well.  I've enjoyed her fashion so far!  I think she's current.
Karen Rodriguez: Hadn't really stood out to me until her Beatles performance last night, and then she stood out.  Good stage presence, and a likable personality.
Naima Adedapo: When you're casting for unique contestants, this is a hit on the bullseye.  Naima has a memorable look, and her gritty, passionate vocals are also hard to forget.
Robbie Rosen: Robbie sure nose how to impress the judges!  (Mean-spirited pun intended).  Joking aside, he's stood out for his soulfulness everytime he's performed.  I smell a top 10 finalist!  (OK, really... I'll stop now.)
Scotty McCreery: So Scotty's got a bit of controversy surrounding him, but at the end of the day this kid will sell country records.  No doubt about it.  He's got a look that will make little country girls shriek, and that memorable deep voice is hard to ignore.
Stefano Langone: OK... so this may be a little bit of 14 year old girl coming out in me, but how can you resist Stefano's smile and big beautiful brown eyes?  He's definitely the "dreamiest" of the guys remaining.  He's got a lot of charisma, almost to the point of being too much... but if he can harness it, I could see him making it at least to the tour.

Now that I've named these people, I hope that all of them make it tonight when they announce the remaining finalists! 

There are two names I didn't include in that group because I wanted to make special note of them:
Jacee Badeaux: This kid is ratings gold!  They have already made such a strong storyline for him with the whole kicked-out-of-my-group thing... plus I mean, how can you not just give the kid credit for having natural talent with not a single ounce of arrogance?  It's commendable.  All I know is if he makes it to voting rounds, he won't be going home anytime soon.  American already loves him.
Lauren Alaina: I always hate to make early predictions, but at this point if anyone has the ability to win season 10, I'd put my money on Lauren.  She has the it factor for sure.  She's cute, and dang can she sing!  The thing about Idol in recent seasons is that the contestants who are pimped early (Adam Lambert, Lil Rounds, Crystal Bowersox, Andrew Garcia, etc) end up making it far, but never quite winning.  Lauren's just gotta lay low for a bit, and make sure to not come with a full arsenal during the first few weeks.  America likes to see progression and improvement.

So there you go... my thoughts on Idol so far this season.  After the official top 24 list is revealed, I'll probably have more to say.  Although I will not be officially blogging on "4 the Love..." this year, I will make updates here on my personal blog about the show from time to time, so I encourage to you to check in or subscribe if you are a passionate Idol follower. 

Happy Idol'ing!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Red Carpet Premiere: "I Am Number FOUR"

I love L.A.

Have I told you that lately?

Oh... and I love Shanyn Day for tipping me off to a tweet she saw about tickets to the premiere of "I Am Number Four".  Thanks to her, Rich and I got tickets to see the red carpet premiere in Westwood.  I mean... if there was ever a movie for Rich and I to see at a premiere, its this one.  With my love of the number four, and Rich's love for sci-fi action movies it was a perfect match. 

Before I get to the actual movie, I will share two important lessons I learned Wednesday:

1.  Movie premiere tickets are not quite like TV taping tickets. Since moving to L.A. I've had the opportunity to go to several TV show tapings, and they always overbook them... so you need to show up hours in advance to ensure that you are going to get in.  When we got the tickets for this premiere and it had a lot of the same verbiage ("arrive early," "first come first serve," "purposely overbooked"... etc.) I thought we were going to have to show up several hours in advance of the 4:30 call time in order to get in.  Not true.  Rich and I arranged to leave work early and got there at 2pm to stand in line.  There as no need.  We could have shown up at 4:00pm or even probably 6:00pm and still gotten in.  The movie didn't start until 7:30, so we basically did a LOT of standing.  Which leads me to lesson number two:

2. Having a partner that you truly love is such a blessing.  With all the frustrations that could have possible turned into negativity in this situation, Rich and I stayed in good spirits and had a great time together.  There are so many other details I could go into regarding the odd way DreamWorks handled this premiere (example:  the first people in line who showed up earliest ended up with the worst seats in a completely separate theatre than the stars of the movie...).  But no matter what the frustration was, Rich and I took it with a "what happens, happens" attitude and took it for what it was worth.  After all, we are lucky enough to see a FREE, advance screening of a movie we were both excited about... and in the meantime we got to see some of the stars of the movie on the red carpet.  Pretty cool!  And... can I just say that if you have someone in your life that you can stand in line with for 5.5 hours and you are still smiling afterwards, you've got a pretty good thing going.  This experience solidified that for me.

OK... so enough lovey-dovey schmooshy stuff... lets get on to the movie:

If I had to wrap it up in a quick sentence or two, I would say this:  If you have any doubts or questions in the first half of the movie... just wait it out because the last 20-30 minutes are pretty awesome. 

More extensively, I'd say this:  This movie really has a little bit of everything.  It's got some love story... some action.... some sci-fi.... and honestly I jumped at this movie more than I jump at most horror/thriller films, so it even had that.  I think most people would watch the movie and walk away enjoying it.

Basically its about this teenage guy who is actually an alien.  He's from another planet, but when he was a kid he was sent to Earth with a "protector" along with eight other children who are believed to have special powers and will be able to come back to thier home planet and save it later on from mass destruction of these other aliens from an opposing planet (the Mogs).   Ok... ok.... so after that first long sentence, you are probably thinking "Matt Eickhoff actually watched this movie??!?".  Yes.  I did.  Sci-Fi usually isn't my thing, but the story is intriguing so I really liked it.  Long story short, the Mogs are attempting to kill each of the 9 kids before they grow old enough to mature thier powers and come back to thier home planet (Lorien) and defend it.  The catch is that the kids all have a symbol and an order to them... and they can only be killed in that order.  John, the main character, is number FOUR, and at the beginning of the movie, number three is killed.  So now he's next on the list.  The movie is basically his attempt to avoid being killed by the Mogs in hopes to stay alive and still defend Lorien.

BUT.... of course.... what would a movie be without a little love story to mess things up.  :-)  Sarah, played by Glee's Dianna Agron, plays this ex-popular girl who now is kinda the loner-artsy type.  John falls for Sarah and it makes things very complicated.  I was actually really excited to see Dianna in this movie because I really do love her on Glee.  She was OK in the movie... but I actually don't know if the casting was quite right for the character.  She's almost too pretty... and fits the popular girl role too well to be believed as the "now-loner" of the school.  But still, it was enjoyable to watch her on screen (and see her in real life as she walked down the red carpet).

So.... I do have to admit, the movie did have a tad bit of a Twilight-ish feel to it... simply in the way that there is a human girl who loves a non-human and the non-humans struggle to over choosing love or life.  The dialog is pretty simple, and the story is straightforward... also in the way Twilight is.  But!  There are two things that take this movie way beyond Twilight in my opinion:  First... the action.  Again, not much of an action movie kinda guy... but the way they pulled together the effects of the characters special powers, along with the battles with the Mogs, I actually thought the action and effects were quite well done and pretty believeable for an "alien-battle-on-Earth" scenario.  The second reason I think its better than Twilight is two words: Alex Pettyfer.  Whoo!  This guy is smokin'!  I mean... he's way better eye candy than Jacob and Edward combined!  That was enough to keep me awake through the whole thing (which of those of you who have seen movies with me, you know that is sometimes a struggle). 

To wrap up, I would say definitely go see I Am Number Four.  Is it going to win Oscars?  No.  But its a fun, action packed movie that is definitely worth the admission price. 

Here are some other pictures from the day:
Rich and I standing by the Red Carpet when we arrived in the afternoon

We got to see them literally "roll out the red carpet" :-)

This is what the red carpet looked like at night all lit up

We got to meet Max Adler who plays Karofsky on Glee!  YAY!

And we got to meet Ariel Winter, Alex on Modern Family! :-)

Unfortunately, this was the best picture I could get of Dianna Agron.  She practically ran past us!

And this was the closest we got to Alex Pettyfer... Still cool to see him live in person!

And finally.... this is Rich and I after the movie.  A girl at the concession stand gave us a free poster :-)