Sunday, October 28, 2007

Science Flair

Episode four of America's Most Smartest Model continued this week to showcase this country's best and brightest talent (along with some often referred to but never explained token foreigners). The means for exhibiting the models' powerful mental prowess in this episode was a science fair (mentored by Bill Nye, the Science Guy).

It was an "edge" challenge and the purpose was to learn about and explain a scientific principle and demonstrate it using a homemade exhibit. The models had to pair up and two of our favorites, Brett Novek and Jeff Pickel, formed a team, while VJ Logan decided to mash up with Jesse. VJ explained that he thought Jesse was a better choice than Rachel for doing well in the contest. It was a good move because it was later shown that Rachel's mind was audibly off the hook (pondering the thermodynamics of a toaster).

VJ LoganBrett and Pickel played the roles of Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein while playfully showing differences in theories. It was a good opportunity for the dynamic duo to show their personalities and acting abilities. Andre seemingly agreed when he declared that best actor and supporting actor Oscars were going to Brett and Pickel. Ben Stein was less impressed while remarking that it was like a Yiddish theater production in which a little goes a long way.

VJ and Jesse demonstrated an ersatz volcanic eruption. They had a little trouble getting it started but eventually it started to spew. VJ made a confessional comment that "It just kept erupting and erupting and it gets, I mean, everywhere." I wasn't paying total attention at that moment so I wasn't sure if he had been talking about a volcanic eruption or a nocturnal emission, but as always, he made it interesting to think about.

The winners were Angela Hart and Daniel Schuman (for solar power). Their edge award was tanning lotion, so it was understood at that point that the callback challenge would involve tanning,

Brett NovekBrett and Pickel logically thought the models would be showing their bronzer induced coloration so they prepped with a lot of self love with the lotion. To everyone's surprise the twist was that the same teams as before had to create their own bronzer out of common household ingredients and use it on a colorless nerd to prepare them for a photo shoot. The results have to be seen on TV to really enjoy the humor of it all.

Concerning the episode's more pleasant visuals, the sight of Brett, Pickel, and VJ shirtless, tanned, and in shorts made me extremely light-headed. It was almost as if the blood had rushed from my upper body to some lower appendage. The appearance of Andre on the other hand, fit the message of his shirt, which exclaimed "Purple is for Thugs". As I have mentioned before and I reiterate here, I do find him quite thugly.

VJ LoganVJ smartly used his good looks to try overcome the look of his partner and nerd's current appearance, by posing himself as the main focus of his team's photos. The plan didn't work out so well but it did show the viewers two things. One is that VJ is a clever fellow. He knows that the best players in any game look to find what can give them an edge above their similarly situated competitors. The second thing the viewers could see is that the camera adores him. He can sometimes look sullen but when the lenses are pointed at him he sparkles. Of course, having champagne drenched shorts also contributed to his bubbliness.

VJ's plan backfired when Andre accused him of trying to sabotage Jesse by hogging the shot. VJ kept calm during the mudslinging until he exploded at Andre and put him in his place. I think this was the first time I felt that friction in a reality show was actually hot. VJ was cool as could be and then he struck like a viper and settled back into place. Wow. Van Jameson is a man. Don't mess with him or he will bring the load of testosterone to a near boil.

Jeff PickelPickel, I don't know what to think about. A bad spot in the episode, which made me perturbed with him, was a statement that he made about Jesse. VJ had made a complimentary comment about Jesse doing well with intellectual challenges (hmmm... because VJ was analyzing a competitor or because VJ always has something nice to say about everyone?). Pickel said that Jesse is gay, black, and overweight, so he has to have insecurities about one of those things. Is there such a thing as a Chicago cracker? I'm looking to Pickel to provide some explanation for this strange remark. I give Andre one credit for stating that Jesse would be insecure because he was f'ing fat (his words, not mine), not because of the other two things.

I have been wondering who will win the VO5 Extreme Style $100,000 and be named America's Most Smartest Model, so I turned to my usual source for wisdom and affirmation, my electronic talking Pikachu. I invoked him with the standard "I choose you..." and asked who would triumph in this greatest competition of the American Fall TV schedule. A squeeze upon the hand of the awesome augur returned a clear and indisputable reply of "Pick-el, Pick-el!" Be assured, the afterschool omniscient Oracle of the Orient is never wrong. [11/25/07 - I guess there is always a first time.]

Brett Novek Jeff Pickel
Young scientists demonstrating the principle of attraction.

In depth coverage and photos of -> America's Most Smartest Model.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Most Sweetest Pickel

Jeff PickelI'm still loving the show America's Most Smartest Model. Especially the male models on the show like Jeff Pickel (right). He shows that he really knows how to work a banana. I appreciate their appearance but I also like to try to figure out what kind of people these pin-up boys really are.

In fact I was thinking about them as I was trying to wake up this morning. When I'm struggling to get to full consciousness I try to figure out something in my head to get my brain cells working. Today I was trying to figure out which of the AMSM hottest men would be best to play which member of the Legion of Super-Heroes. I decided on Brett Novek being Cosmic Boy, which makes sense as Brett is my favorite model and Cosmic Boy my favorite legionnaire. Then I decided that VJ Logan would be a great Mon-El (keep the lead away!). Pickel wasn't so easy. Maybe Matter-Eater Lad. I can't keep track of all the retconning and reimaging in comic books today, so this is only based on my memory of reprints of the silver-age Legion. I wished I had Photoshop - I would put a Brett head on a Cosmic Boy body for illustration.

For obvious reason, although not necessarily from looks, I would also suggest Daniel Schuman as Brainiac-5. Andre Birleanu would of course be a super-villain, the enemy of the American way and all that is good.

Later in the day I watched the third episode of the show and considered some more personal views of the top three guys (based on smoking hotness + good personality).

VJ LoganVJ is like the youngest child in the family. He uses his charm and personality to position himself up with the older kids. He can also get away with saying things that might be a little cocky, because he's just so damn cute (pinch those cheeks!). In his abbreviated workout shorts, VJ would make PE class a blast to attend with him. If he were a basemen and you were in the outfield, you could totally enjoy concentrating on his legs and backside instead of reciting the prayer, "Please God, don't let the ball come to me."

Pickel is a man's man. He's someone you would want to go with to a sporting event, or to play poker with, or hang around with at a cookout. Although math is not his strong suit, his ability to come up with solutions like using banana peels to write on shows he might be handy to have around the house to figure out how to unclog a drain or something. His light-hearted commentary on everything would always keep you entertained.

Brett as I mentioned elsewhere is the most huggable model, as in "Brett, I've had a so-so day and I need a hug." Brett: "Poor baby, let me put on my Papi underwear and then you come here." He is also the best spokesperson. I had already felt that if he asked me to buy something I would strongly consider it, but when he looked directly at the camera and asked "Are you ready to workout?", I wanted to jump up from the couch and exclaim, "Yes, yes, for you anything!"

Brett Novek

I felt sorry for VJ over his tiff with Brett. He extended his hand immediately to make up and now Brett should let his anger pass. If VJ can reconcile with Brett and keep the succubus out of his bed, he should be okay.

In depth coverage and photos of -> America's Most Smartest Model.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Jake On Conan

I don't like to miss an opportunity to see Jake Gyllenhaal's puppy dog eyes, but during his publicity tour for his new movie Rendition, I only managed to catch his appearance on Late Night With Conan O'Brien.

Conan introduced Jake and the audience erupted with joyous applause and cheers. Jake walked on stage well dressed and well groomed, although sporting a moderate beard. I've managed to accept male stars wearing stubble, but I'm not down with them having an actual beard. Fortunately Jake's eyes and eyebrows are so expressive it was possible to ignore his winsome whiskers.

gay love for jake gyllenhaalConan remarked that he had not yet experienced the Jake Gyllenhaal beard effect. The audience again screamed its approval, presumably for the hairy Jake version. Conan perceptively noted that the ladies and two guys in the audience were the ones vocalizing their acclaim. Jake responded by needingly asking Conan, "Do you like it?" followed by a even more longing for affection question, "Would you like to smell it?" Inexplicably, but compassionately, Conan acceded to the request. He then reassured Jake again that Jake and his beard looked great and expressed solidarity with Jake's grooming compulsions, by saying "It's how you look not who we are." Jake substantiated it with a unequivocal "Remember that!" to the audience.

Jake used the interview to show that he has no need to put on a he-man front. He told a story of being with a friend at a Red Sox game atop the Green Monster. The friend wanted to catch a baseball and when it looked like one might come his way, he went into girlish hysterics. Jake happily imitated the outburst to the viewers. Then Jake told Conan that his favorite place to visit is Japan because everyone there thinks he is funny. Jake happily did a cultural mockery of a Japanese person modestly tittering. Finally Jake sang in falsetto a little of Gnarls Barkley's song Crazy to show how he felt when he hadn't worked for six months. Confused but respectful, Conan followed suit.

gay love for jake gyllenhaalJake set the scene for the film clip from Rendition. In it, his character was having a phone conversation with Streep's about the likelihood of gaining useful information from a specific prisoner by using torture. Jake's last line in the clip was that this was his first torture. He said it so hauntingly and full of innocence, I just don't think I could stomach this movie. I still see the gentle young man interested in rockets from October Sky. Personal political comment from me: any American citizen who has participated in torture for any reason should be prosecuted in a Nuremberg-like trial.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Most Hottest Male Models

I saw a recommendation for VH1's America's Most Smartest Model and decided to give it a try. I saw that it included seven hot male models so how could I pass it up? I couldn't care less about female model shows (ANTM comes to mind), but the shows that focus on or include male models have been pretty interesting (e.g Manhunt, Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency).

As the title suggests, the premise of the show is to find the model that has the best combination of beauty and brains. The genre is reality competition with both contests and conflict in a shared living space. The action is mildly amusing and the personalities so far are so-so, but the real draw of the show is watching people who have had the world handed to them on a platter suddenly having to struggle for something. Also, its more entertaining seeing models knock each other rather than lesser mortals who may only be speaking out of resentment. Oh, did I mention that some of the men are gorgeous?

jeff pickelMy favorite is Brett Novek (pictured, top right). Besides being a super stud, he's one of the more personable, and seemingly nice people on the show. Its refreshing to hear him tell his peers that he regards himself lucky and thankful for what nature gave him. It could be a real act but he comes across as a gentle spirit.

Another one of the boys is Jeff Pickel (left). He seems as nice as Brett, with an absence of any arrogance. He has beautiful dark eyes. They are limpid pools of both sexual energy and frivolous effervescence.

The third of the hotties is VJ Logan (below right). The show presented him in a way to make it seem doubtful that he would win anything based on brains. He told the co-host Ben Stein that his family were not native born Americans because they were from California. The appearance was created that models just need to be good frames to drape clothing over. Hoosier connection: when asked to list as many states as he could VJ elevated Indianapolis to statehood.

vj loganThere are two losers on the show. One is Slavco Tuskaloski, who was also on the show Kept. He's disgusting. To the show's credit, he got kicked out after only a few minutes into the first episode.

The other bad spot is a self-proclaimed Soviet, Andre Birleanu. He deliberately makes himself look like king-sized commie a-hole. His body is well cut but above the neck it is all thug. A bag over his head would not be enough to do him but maybe a cranial iron curtain would work. Brett said he thinks Andre must be from Chernobyl. During a spelling bee he misspelled retardant, which is apropos as he seems way retardant.

In depth coverage and photos of -> America's Most Smartest Model.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Queer Eye Bye-Bye

I recently read about the final season of Queer Eye For The Straight Guy starting, and like a lot of people, apparently, didn't realize it hadn't ended long ago. I loved the first season, but after it started to morph away from its initial formula, I totally skipped it.

It was exciting when the show first started. First because the show itself was actually entertaining. Second because it was great to see five gay men making the rounds of all the talk shows where the hosts and the audiences seemed to be quite comfortable with being gay with people being gay. I remember making sure I watched their appearance on The Tonight Show when they redecorated the set. I was on vacation at Disney World at the time, but the idea of watching gay men being celebrated for being gay instead of despite it, made it must see tv.

The parts of Queer Eye that I enjoyed were the initial inspection of the home with the humorous comments, the shopping trips, and the commentary on the subject's preparation for the get together with his significant other or family. The clothing and grooming advice were interesting although rather simplistic.

Of the Fab 5's individual contributions, Carson's critiques of the wardrobes were hilarious and Thom's makeover magic were jaw dropping. I don't care for cooking so I was less attentive during Ted's segments. The good parts made up for the fact that Carson's tastes were atrocious and Kyan was a little too hands on with the straight guys. Oh, and Jai, well I agree with the parody that Mad TV did of QE, where when they mimicked the overlay of the person's name and their specialty, they labeled him "Jai (useless)".

Where the show went wrong is that its producers starting tweaking it after the first season. I assume they did what happens with a lot of shows, which is look for the aspects that people like best and emphasize them more. The show was intended to appeal to female viewers (go figure), and they liked the part where the female comes in for the "reveal" and the segment afterwards. Everyone loves the "reveal", that's the highlight of every makeover show. But what they should have kept in moderation was the section after it. As I recall it seemed like they moved the reveal to the 30 minute mark, which greatly reduced the amount of time where the queer guys interacted with their subject. That interaction was the meat of the show. What followed was just the fluff. Once the Fab 5's participation level dropped, I dropped the show.

Note to all television producers: tinker with a show when it is not doing well or has not reached its potential. If you have already hit your peak, keep everything pretty much like it is (think American Idol).

The show's Hoosier connection: Ted Allen graduated from Carmel High School in the Indianapolis area and went on to get his Bachelors degree from Purdue University.

Friday, October 5, 2007

War on TV

I've been watching a lot of The War, Ken Burns' multi-part documentary about World War II that has been playing on PBS. What can I say? I like history. Burns does another fine job of telling a story from a first person perspective using archival quotes and present day interviews.

Two things I didn't like. One is that I would be going through the channels and I would come across another episode of this show and I would get hooked and then miss whatever else I had intended to watch that night. (Note: I did see Cavemen, which was surprisingly funny. Lines that might have seemed ho-hum otherwise, were quite comical coming from less evolved members of the genus Homo.)

The other thing really pissed me off. It's well known that special interest groups claiming to represent Hispanics bullied and threatened Burns to change his creative work to add some particular correctness. It would be okay to ask that something offensive be removed - there have been plenty of cases of various groups doing that (btw, I almost called this post Fag Of Our Fathers, but I didn't want to offend anyone). It would also be okay to ask that future works include something of interest to you. What is not okay is to ask that a finished work be altered for no reason other than a political one. Shall the Sistine Chapel be altered to add representations of every other ethnic group in the world in addition to the pictured Italians?

I think coffee table picture books are generally a waste of money, but here is one I actually own and can recommend if you like the genre. The title is At Ease: Navy Men of World War II. It's got a lot of sexy photos of WWII military guys, with some nudity. It shows men not afraid to show their closeness and affection for one another.

These picture are obviously way before my time, but what makes them special is that average men used to be a lot leaner than they are today. When you see National Guard and reserve troops now, they really earn the nickname doughboy. The guys in this book are all meat.

Have any adult videos borrowed Tom Brokaw's book title yet to make Men of the Greatest Penetration?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Two Thumbs Up Chuck

The premise of the new NBC show Chuck may be wildly absurd but that doesn't stop it from being madly entertaining and fun to watch. The show is about a geeky electronics repairman (Chuck) who somehow gets most of America's top secrets imprinted on his brain. The NSA and CIA fight over him but they are not sure what to do with him until they realize that they can use him and the information stored in his head. He remains at his job at a Best Buy type store under their watchful eyes, ready to perform vital missions to aid his country.

The thing that makes the show work is the witty lines and sight gags that utilize popular straight and/or geek guy culture references, along with the perfect comedic delivery from the cast. The genre is comedy/action/sci-fi/drama, so a lot of people should find something to like about it.

The title role is played by Zachary Levi (pictured). Zachary was the only reason I tuned in to watch his previous series, Less Than Perfect. On that show, he played Kipp Steadman, a scheming office worker who teamed with his female friend Lydia to undercut the main character's position at the company. It was much like the relationship between the characters Marc and Amanda on Ugly Betty, who likewise plot against the lead character. The big difference between those two shows is that Marc is allowed to be gay, while Kipp was forced by the writers to prove to the viewers that he was undeniably straight.

zachary leviThe straightening out of Kipp turned me off and I stopped watching the show. I don't know why the writers couldn't have have at least left him sexually ambiguous (like Josh on Veronica's Closet). Scheming, catty, well-dressed assistants are suppose to be gay, dammit! Still, when I was watching the shown, lean Zachary in his tight sweaters and form fitting slacks left me hot and bothered. Now, Zachary is a little heavier and made to look a lot nerdier for the new show with the bushy hair, but I still see his inner Kipp and that's good enough for me.

I remember several years ago when I was researching anything I could find out about Zachary, I had read that he appeared to be one of those holier-than-thou religious types along with his Less Than Perfect co-star Sherri Shepherd and that had troubled me. Not the religious part, just the holier-than-thou. He and Sherri had tried to get their co-star Andy Dick to see the light, and we all know that wasn't successful. I hope Zachary has more of a happy ending with Chuck than he had with his wayward Dick.

zachary levi