Ava

"Jon & Kate Plus 8" gets down to the nitty gritty

In case you haven't had your fill - or more than your fill - of "Jon & Kate Plus 8," I have news: TLC will air a special episode of the reality series called "How We Got Here" at 9 p.m. Monday.

Jon and Kate Gosselin of Pennsylvania are those two harried parents of eight children - one set of twin girls and a set of sextuplets - you see (seemingly on a continuous loop) on TLC. The half-hour episodes are alarmingly addictive, although I've become disenchanted after viewing the latest batch of new shows. It seems like they're struggling for storylines, which is understandable now that the kids are getting older and they're more independent (and the twins are in school).

As a die-hard "J&K+8" fan, I'm really looking forward to this special because it will delve into the parents' relationship. How they first met, what it was like having such a large family at such a young age, their struggles with infertility, and how they view their very public (and sometimes squirm-inducing) arguments are just some of the topics that will be addressed.

And there's more "J&K+8" news: The show's first two seasons arrive on DVD Sept. 9. The two-disc set includes 17 episodes and a 1-hour bonus special. If you're willing to plunk down $19.95, it's all yours.
Ava

Jersey-centric "Ghost Hunters" leaves me cold

I don't know about you, but in my book last night's Jersey-centric episode of "Ghost Hunters" came up short.

The episode was split in half between the Red Mill in Clinton and the Proprietary House in Perth Amboy. But I think they both were worthy of a one-hour episode each, given all of the activity and history involved.

Now, I don't know a lot about the ghostly history of the Red Mill. I do know they throw the best Halloween extravaganza - including a haunted mill and haunted hayride - around and I go there every fall. The ghostly figure of the young girl - which visitors have seen and incorrectly assume is a re-enactor - is a fascinating story and one worth delving into more than was done in the episode.

I'm far more familiar with the assorted tales about the Proprietary House. Being one of several Home News Tribune employees who took part in a tour and seance at the house back in January, I think I can safely say that the show skimmed over - or didn't even address - several fascinating tales that would've made for great TV.

Frankly, I think the crew from A&E's "Paranormal State" would do both sites more justice. What do you think?
Ava

Rent "The Mist" immediately

It's been two days since I watched "The Mist" on DVD and I can't stop raving about it.

Seriously, it's probably the deepest movie I've seen in a long, long time. I keep thinking about it and recommending it to everyone. The biggest mistake anyone could do is to assume that "The Mist" is nothing more than a horror movie. It's so much more than that. It's truly frightening, for sure, but not for the reasons you might think.



"The Mist" is about a sleepy Maine town following a thunderstorm. A mist rolls across the land and wacky things start happening. People are killed. And the hero, played by Thomas Jane, winds up stuck in the local supermarket with his young son and lots of neighbors and tourists.

While there are plenty of scary moments - as whatever is outside in the mist tries to kill these survivors - the most frightening scenes are a direct result of what's going on inside the store. And that's why I can't stop singing "The Mist's" praises.

When the film first came out, I recall hearing a lot about its controversial ending. Although it truly is disturbing, I found it honest and realistic and don't have a single complaint about it.

"The Mist" is based on a short story by Stephen King, but I look at it as a fascinating piece of social commentary. Don't miss it.
Ava

"Sex and the City": My thoughts

I think I'm in the minority here, but I didn't love "Sex and the City" movie.

Just like everyone else, I was excited to see these four women back in action. But what I wasn't prepared for was the deep sense of sadness that I felt permeated the entire film. Sure, there were plenty of funny lines and a cute scene here and there, but I came away from it feeling very sad and not a little depressed.

*MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD*

Don't get me wrong - I am glad that Mr. Big left Carrie at the altar. That's in his nature and is totally part of his character to do. But I felt Carrie's anguish and sense of betrayal at this man with whom she'd been in love with for the past decade. All of the disappointments in the past, coupled with his inability to "just do it" made me just as crushed as Carrie. That, coupled with Steve's infidelity and the hard-core return of Miranda's pessimism, kept me in a very dark mood through much of the movie. And even though I understood Big's desire for a small affair, away from the public eye, I couldn't forgive him for failing her once again. And as a result, I can't for the life of me understand why she married him at the end of the movie.

Look, I love Mr. Big as much as the next woman, but Carrie's love can't overcome his commitment issues. I really wanted her to stand up to him and show him that he can't keep treating her like that. I thought it was kind of ironic, since on Friday night TBS aired the episode "La Douleur Exquise!" in which Carrie got fed up with Big (for the second time) and broke up with him because he didn't tell her he was quite possibly moving to Paris for work. At that time, her actions showed him that she was not going to be allowed to be treated that way. What did her actions in the movie suggest? That he could practically do anything and she would take him back. Not only that, but that she would be content to be with him without being married, without having a family. I know Carrie vacillated between wanting children or not - yet by the time Petrovsky came along it seemed like she really was entertaining the notion - but I couldn't help but wonder (ha ha) if she just wasn't giving up her dreams to be with Big. And that bothers me greatly.

As I've tried to explain my intense feelings about the movie to friends, I keep returning to a comparison between "SATC" and one of my favorite films, "Sense and Sensibility." I think that both of them are comparable in that they are, at the core, sad films about women who, in trying to find some measure of happiness - or at least the idea of it - have their hearts broken. And just like Elinor and Marianne, Carrie and Miranda go on with their lives. Both films end happily, with the women getting exactly what they want (or think they want). Yet ultimately I find "Sense and Sensibility" a much more satisfying film, because somehow the happy ending made up for all of the sad things that came before. I can't say I feel the same way about "SATC."

If you have any doubts, just watch this, one of the final scenes from "Sense and Sensibility," which makes me weepy and deliriously happy every single blessed time I see it:



And whereas I could watch "Sense and Sensibility" ad nauseum - seriously, every time it's on TV I stop to watch it - I don't harbor such feelings for "SATC" in the slightest. In fact, I have no desire to see the movie again and will not buy it when it comes out on DVD.

And I really have to wonder: What does that mean? I guess it's all about perspective.
Ava

Korman's tragic death

I was very sorry last night to hear of the death of comedic actor Harvey Korman.

While I'm not all that familiar with Korman's body of work - believe it or not, but I've never seen "Blazing Saddles" - I used to watch "The Carol Burnett Show" religiously and loved, loved, loved the various characters he portrayed, including Ed, Eunice's long-suffering husband in the hilarious "Mama's Family" skits. Just like this one about "a friendly little game of charades":



Korman's death at 81 hits home even more so for me because of his cause of death: a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm, or AAA. My father died from a ruptured AAA last year. He was 71. At the time, my family and I had never even heard of AAA. And unfortunately, most people (it occurs mostly in men) don't know they have it until it ruptures. Which, in all too many instances, is too late.

What amazes me about Korman's story is that he actually survived the aneurysm. From what I've heard, that is rare. According to the Associated Press, Korman's aneurysm had ruptured four months ago and he had undergone several major operations since then. His daughter, Kate Korman, said that it was a "miracle" that her father had survived the initial aneurysm at all.

"Tragically, after such a hard fought battle, he passed away,'' she said.

I know exactly what she means. My father, too, was a "miracle," albeit for an all-too-brief while. He survived an 11-hour surgery to repair the damage to his aorta and many veins, to control the out-of-control bleeding, only to die the next day. It's still hard to believe that one day he was perfectly fine and the next he was - for all intents and purposes - gone.

It's something I wouldn't wish on anyone, and I hope that through Korman's death - and in some way, my own father's - people will learn more about the ticking time bomb that is AAA.
Ava

Finally, I got something right about "Lost"

I KNEW it!!!

At the end of "Lost's" last season - when Jack stumbled into that sad little funeral home in downtown L.A. - I KNEW Locke was the body inside the coffin.

Excuse my excitement, but it's so rare that I correctly predict anything on "Lost," that I just can't help myself.

Did you catch the sneaky Dharma commercial during the last 15 minutes of the show? What exactly is Octagong Global Recruiting? Here's a little clue:
http://www.octagonglobalrecruiting.com/

Are we to assume that there's going to be a huge "Lost" convention in California in July?

Anyway, back at the ranch... Am I being overly critical or was the scene of Ben making the island disappear just a bit corny? I think it's an interesting idea, but the execution, well... it kind of left me snickering. And who didn't predict that Sawyer would bail from the helicopter? I loved the look Hurley shot at everyone, as if he knew they were all thinking if he'd bail they would be home free.

It did suck that as soon as they arrived at the freighter they had to leave because of the bomb. (Thanks an awful lot, Ben. Wouldn't a better revenge for his daughter's death be making sure everyone got off the island and survived?) And it was absolutely heartbreaking to watch Sun screaming for Jin as he just narrowly missed getting in the helicopter. Still, I'm curious. Does that mean that Michael is dead now? Considering he hasn't been able to die and all, I have serious doubts...

And I must say I loved the final scene in the funeral home when Ben tells Jack that the only way to fix things is for EVERYONE to return to the island - dead Locke included. The thought of next season turning into a sci-fi version of "Weekend at Bernie's" is really enticing, no?

Still, I can't help but compare this finale to the brilliance and suspense of Season One, which ended with young Walt (can you believe how big he is now?) being kidnapped by the Others and Michael screaming "WAAAAAAAALLLLTTT!!" That's still the most exciting "Lost" finale in my book.

What was your favorite or least favorite "Lost" finale moments from this year?
Ava

Give "Flying" a whirl

I have a new television obsession.

It's called "Flying: Confessions of a Free Woman," a documentary series on the Sundance Channel. I caught a few minutes of one episode several weeks ago and have avidly sought out other episodes since.



"Flying: Confessions of a Free Woman" follows documentary filmmaker (and New York City resident) Jennifer Fox as she travels the globe, speaking with women about their lives. She's hung out with a female civil-rights lawyer in India (Paromita, my favorite so far). She's discussed female genital mutilation with Somali women who've gone through that horrifying experience.

Jennifer has also dealt with plenty of her own demons. A single woman in her mid-40s, Jennifer seriously considers having a baby - even going so far as to get in-vitro fertilization with her Swiss boyfriend. She's carried on a long affair with a married South African man, and is left reeling when her lover's wife discovers their affair and contacts her.

This is fascinating, meaty stuff. And I guarantee that if you give it a look, you won't be able to stop watching. Just like me.
Ava

I've got your "Sex and the City" answers

The other day I posted a "Sex and the City" quiz. Here are the answers:

1) c; Mr. Big's real name is John.

2) d; Viewers finally learn Mr. Big's real name in the last scene of the final episode. It is revealed when Carrie sees his name appear on her cell phone's caller ID.

3) b; Charlotte believes that everyone gets two great loves. Her announcement unintentionally insults Carrie, who already has broken up with Mr. Big and Aidan.

4) a; Charlotte is exhausted and frustrated with her search for Mr. Right.

5) c; The women refer to men who only date models as "modelizers."

6) a; Mr. Big's ex-wife, who works in book publishing, is named Barbara. Carrie meets her when she pitches a fake children's book (for adults) about a little girl named Kathy who smokes magical cigarettes.

7) c; Miranda meets Steve, a bartender, at a bar after she has a fight with Carrie on the phone.

8) a; Miranda's nickname at Weight Watchers is Baby Weight. She hooks up with a fellow Weight Watcher, Overeater.

9) a; Charlotte's brother sleeps with Samantha.

10) c; Carrie refers to Mr. Big's young wife, Natasha, as "the stick figure with no soul."

11) a; David Duchovny ("The X-Files," "Californication") plays Carrie's high school sweetheart who's checked himself into a mental hospital.

12) d; Miranda's boyfriend Robert is a doctor for the New York Knicks.

13) c; In probably one of the most-referred to scenes ever in the show, Jack Berger breaks up with Carrie by leaving her an "I'm sorry, I can't, don't hate me" message on a post-it note.

14) a; Miranda is totally addicted to "Jules & Mimi" and TiVos the episodes.

15) d; The women celebrate Charlotte's "thirty-faux" birthday in Atlantic City.

16) b; Mr. Big tells Carrie "I'm tired of Old New York" when she asks him why he's leaving the city.

17) c; Carrie is terrorized by a squirrel while visiting Aidan's rustic cabin in Suffern, N.Y.

18) d; Moby is the only one of the four never to have appeared on "Sex and the City."

19) b; In probably one of the most-quoted lines ever from the show, Trey's infamous response to Charlotte's suggestion that they marry is a hearty "All righty!"

20) d; When Carrie snoops in Aidan's bag and finds a pear-shaped diamond engagement ring, she throws up in the kitchen sink.

21) c; Stanford declares Carrie "fashion roadkill" during a runway show which also features a pre-"Project Runway" Heidi Klum.

22) c; Samantha gets a chemical peel right before Carrie's book release party and winds up wearing a big, black hat and veil all night.

23) a; A heartbroken Samantha papers Manhattan with fliers denouncing Richard Wright as a cheater after she catches him in bed with another woman.

24) b; Harry has many habits that uptight Charlotte finds troublesome, but the one she speaks up about is his propensity for leaving used tea bags around the house.

25) c; When Samantha discovers that the receptionist at the breast-cancer doctor's office loves Smith, she promises to bring him in if she will get her an appointment.

26) a; Mr. Big may have had a Blood, Sweat and Tears album in his collection, but it's "Moon River" that he and Carrie dance to before he leaves for the Napa Valley.
Ava

"Sex and the City": Start the countdown

One week and counting.



To whet your appetite a bit before the big day - that's May 30, at movie theaters everywhere - I've compiled a little "Sex and the City" quiz for everyone to enjoy. I'll give you a couple of days before I post the answers.


Think you're an expert about all things "Sex and the City"? Take this quiz and find out!

1. What is Mr. Big's real name?

a) Joseph
b) Robert
c) John
d) Shane


2. How was Mr. Big's real name revealed on the show?

a) Carrie introduced him to her new boyfriend, Aidan
b) his mother called him by name when Carrie met her at church
c) when Carrie shouts it out in bed
d) his name appeared on Carrie's cell phone's caller ID



3. According to Charlotte, how many great loves does a person get in their lifetime?

a) one
b) two
c) three
d) as many as they want



4. Which character said the following about finding Mr. Right: "I've been dating since I was 15. I'm exhausted! Where is he?"

a) Charlotte
b) Stanford Blatch
c) Carrie
d) Miranda



5. What do the women call men who only date models?

a) stupid
b) goobers
c) modelizers
d) Shallow Hals



6. What is the name of Mr. Big's ex-wife?

a) Barbara
b) Sharon
c) Felicia
d) Laura



7. Where does Miranda meet her future husband, Steve Brady?

a) a Yankees game
b) the supermarket
c) a bar
d) on the subway



8. What was Miranda's nickname at Weight Watchers?

a) Baby Weight
b) Overeater
c) Gorger
d) Miss Piggy



9. Who did Charlotte's brother sleep with?

a) Samantha
b) Carrie
c) Stanford Blatch
d) Miranda



10. What does Carrie call Mr. Big's young wife, Natasha?

a) Twiggy
b) the toothless wonder
c) the stick figure with no soul
d) Hubble's girl



11. Which actor played Carrie's high school sweetheart?

a) David Duchovny
b) Ron Livingston
c) Mikhail Baryshnikov
d) John Slattery



12. What team is Miranda's boyfriend, Robert (Blair Underwood), a doctor for?

a) New Jersey Devils
b) New Jersey Nets
c) New Jersey Rangers
d) New York Knicks



13. How does Jack Berger break up with Carrie?

a) he leaves her a voicemail message
b) he leaves her at a restaurant
c) he leaves her a post-it note
d) he leaves her without saying goodbye



14. What BBC program is Miranda addicted to?

a) "Jules and Mimi"
b) "You Are What You Eat"
c) "Kitchen Nightmares"
d) "Torchwood"



15. Where do the women celebrate Charlotte's 36th birthday?

a) Bed, a hot new club
b) a hot hookah bar with belly dancers
c) a party at an art gallery
d) Atlantic City



16. What is Mr. Big's reason for permanently leaving New York City?

a) he's moving to Paris for work
b) he's tired of New York
c) he's bought a beet farm
d) he's going to Cuba to make cigars



17. What frightens Carrie when she spends a weekend at Aidan's cabin?

a) a thunderstorm
b) a bear
c) a squirrel
d) the outhouse



18. Which of these music personalities did not appear in "Sex and the City"?

a) Spice Girl Geri Halliwell
b) Jon Bon Jovi
c) Alanis Morissette
d) Moby



19. What does Trey say when Charlotte suggests they marry?

a) "Let's do it!"
b) "All righty"
c) "You talked me into it"
d) "Why not?"



20. What is Carrie's reaction when she finds the engagement ring Aidan has bought her?

a) she cries
b) she sneaks a cigarette
c) she jumps for joy
d) she vomits



21. What does Stanford call Carrie when she falls on the runway during a fashion show?

a) a fierce, hot tranny mess
b) Clumsy Carrie
c) fashion roadkill
d) kooky klutz



22. What procedure does Samantha have right before Carrie's book release party?

a) Botox
b) a boob job
c) chemical peel
d) collagen injection in her lips



23. How does Samantha get back at Richard Wright after he cheats on her?

a) she papers Manhattan with fliers calling him a cheater
b) she calls all his ex-girlfriends
c) she trashes his home in the Hamptons
d) she cheats on him with his best friend



24. What does Harry Goldenblatt do that drives Charlotte crazy?

a) he says "putz" all the time
b) he leaves tea bags all over the apartment
c) he leaves the toilet seat up
d) he walks around in his underwear



25. How does Samantha get an appointment with the breast-cancer specialist?

a) she bribes the receptionist
b) she makes the doctor feel guilty
c) she tells the receptionist she will bring her boyfriend, Smith, into the office
d) she befriends a nun who already has an appointment



Bonus question:

26. What song do Carrie and Mr. Big dance to before he leaves New York?

a) "Moon River"
b) "La Bamba"
c) "Making Love Out of Nothing At All"
d) "(I've Had) The Time of My Life"
Ava

"Step It Up and Dance" steps it up

I'm totally hooked on Bravo's latest reality competition show, "Step It Up and Dance."

Each week it's gotten progressively better and better, and the challenges are both fascinating and entertaining to watch. I'm particularly fond of the past two episodes - last week's Latin/tango/flamenco competition and yesterday's music video performance, which featured choreographer Tina Landon. The challenge required the contestants (Nick's my fave, with Mochi a close second) to learn the choreography for Rihanna's video, "Umbrella," and add their own moves to the end of the sequence.

Anyway, since last night's episode I haven't been able to get "Umbrella" out of my head. Check it: