Monday, July 30, 2007

Move over, Bart. Here I come!

Just in case that picture over there to the right wasn't cute enough — that's me with Darth Vader, Pete! — I thought I'd share this one from the family photo album.

No, actually this is what I would look like if I was a character on "The Simpsons," according to show creator Matt Groening and his crew.

(It's a pretty good-looking likeness, I think!)

With the release of "The Simpsons Movie," now anyone can see what they'd look like if they lived in the fictitious town of Springfield, drank Squishees and watched "Itchy & Scratchy."

All you have to do is click here, upload a pic of yourself and wait to be Simpson-ized.

And since even though I've never mentioned my GF by name (she's shy like that, and doesn't seek out the attention), I thought I'd finally share her picture here on "Sean's Space," so ... voila!

We make a cute couple together, huh?

"Six Degrees of Melissa Joan Hart"

What did you do last week?
I didn't do much: Work, sleep, blah, blah, blah.

My ol' pal Corinne, though? She went water skiing with Melissa Joan Hart in California ... yes, the very same Melissa Joan Hart of "Sabrina, the Teenage Witch" fame!

To make a long story short, she's been best friends with one of Melissa's relatives since childhood and they were hanging out last week. Niiiiice!

Admittedly, I have no connection to this story whatsoever (other than I know Corinne who's best friend is the aunt of Melissa Joan Hart), but it just seemed like cool lil' anecdote.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Back to "School" on August 17th

Let me preface this by saying yes, I am 32 years old and yes, I am a huge Disney fan.

That being said, I can't wait til August 17th, when "High School Musical 2" hits the Disney Channel!

For those of you past your pre-teen years, "High School Musical" is a musical movie that first aired on the Disney Channel in January of 2006, and quickly became the most successful TV movie the network has ever made.

It follows basketball star Troy (played by Zac Efron) and bookworm Gabriella (portrayed by Vanessa Anne Hudgens) who meet on Christmas break from East High School when they're matched up to sing karaoke at a New Year's Eve bash at the resort where their families are staying.

Well, let's just say worlds collide (being athletics and academia) and when the two return to school they find their love for both song and each other, and hilarity ensues.

(The real irony is that Zac and Vanessa are now dating in real life! Weird, huh?)

Anyway, what I thought would be a horrible movie was actually quite cute and entertaining, hence my anticipation for the sequel. (I'm sharing too much here, but here goes: I rented "High School Musical: The Concert," which was horrible. Everyone looked like they were lip-syncing.)

The original movie has since been released on DVD, its soundtrack became a best-selling CD, the screenplay has been adapted into books and even (ironically) musicals for high schools.

If nothing else, it's another chance to see that cute, Ashley Tisdale (left), who Disney has been grooming to be the next Hilary Duff. In the original movie, she plays Sharpay, the queen b____ who tries to ruin the day for Troy and Gabriella ... but she doesn't succeed. Instead, we learn "We're All In This Together!"

Anyway, the sequel finds our fav Wildcats looking for summer jobs, and it just so happens they all find employment at the same country club where Sharpay plans to steal Troy away from Gabriella. (Draaaaamaaaa!)

Will Troy leave Gabriella for Sharpay? We'll all find out on August 17th when the movie premieres!

There's a Cyclone coming!

If you're looking for a summer get-away that's not too far but still close enough that you don't spend all day getting there, try Coney Island.

Two weeks ago, we made the trip down, if for no other reason than the sake of history, and came back with great memories of our day ... not to mention the picture to the right.

Yes, that is me on the famed Cyclone, the historic wooden roller coaster across the street from Astroland. Built in 1927, the Cyclone is one of the wildest coasters I've ever ridden (at $6 a ride, it had better be!) and it's worth the trip down to Brooklyn itself.

The actual Astroland amusement park is going to close at summer's end, as part of a renovation project that should be completed in 2011.

Here's a short video of the Cyclone I shot from street level.

Also, you've GOTTA eat a hot dog at the original Nathan's, which is right around the corner from Astroland and the Cyclone.

In fact, if you head to Nathan's, click here for a 2-for-1 coupon on hot dogs there.

To get Coney Island, I've found taking the train is the easiest way: Take the Metro-North train from Poughkeepsie to Grand Central; from Grand Central, take either the D, F, N or Q subway line all the way out to Coney Island (it's about a 45-minute ride from Manhattan) and get off at the Stillwell station.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Another Goo Goo(d) show from the Dolls

Just as they did in Poughkeepsie back in December, The Goo Goo Dolls rocked last night, playing the Saratoga Performing Arts Center.

If you read that earlier post about our first time seeing Johnny Rzeznik and the guys, you saw our first-row vantage point. We were in the front row then, and we were in the front row last night — albeit in the front row of the lawn seats.

Instead of being a couple of feet away from the band, this time we were a couple of feet away from these security guards. They weren't as entertaining as Johnny, Robbie and Mike, but they moved out of the way.

Still, we had a great time and had a great view of the stage, where Lifehouse (even though coming in, I had them confused with Nickelback) and someone named Colbie Caillat (yeah, we'd never heard of her either).

If you've never been to SPAC, it's a great place to see a show, particularly if the weather cooperates like it did last night. I'd only been there once before to see Dave Matthews back in either '96 or '97, but ones of my friends at the time and his GF fought the whole time, so I didn't remember much about the show or venue before I went back last night.

And while the covered, reserved seats seemed swell, but about 10,000 of us enjoyed the show from the lawn, though I'd highly recommend getting there early and grabbing a spot along the railing in the front of the lawn, thus ensuring a good view. (See all these people? We were in front of them.)

As for the actual music, the Dolls didn't disappoint, playing hits like "Stay" and "Name" and "Let Love In," new stuff like "Before It's Too Late" and ending their encore with a cover of Tom Petty's "American Girl."

No matter where you sat (or stood) last night, you had to enjoy the show ... even if you didn't return to Poughkeepsie til 2 in the morning!

Monday, July 23, 2007

All hail the Queen

She began as a rapper. She's been nominated for an Oscar. She even poked fun at herself on "Saturday Night Live."

And this fall, Queen Latifah will be performing in the Hudson Valley, coming to the Ulster Performing Arts Center in Kingston.

Rebounding back from the forgettable 2004 movie "Taxi," in which she co-starred with Saugerties native Jimmy Fallon, Queen Latifah can now be seen in the flick "Hairspray," which just opened on Friday.

The rapper-turned-actress put out an R&B CD back in 2004 ("The Dana Evans Album," seen here) and a second such R&B disc is set to come out in September.

Tickets for her October 27th show in Kingston go on sale this Wednesday, July 25th.

For more information on the show and tickets, click here.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

We're gonna be ga-ga for The Goo Goo Dolls

So my GF just won us two tickets to see Johnny Rzeznik and the rest of the Buffalo's Goo Goo Dolls in concert Tuesday night at Saratoga Peforming Arts Center!

We actually saw them at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center in Poughkeepsie back in December with one of my GF's best friends Val (that's Val meeting the guys before the show), managing to stand in the front row as Johnny and the boys played hits like "Let Love In," Slide" and "Iris."

That December 11, 2006 show was one of the last ones of that tour, and the guys were literally giving away everything on their tour bus. On stage in between songs, Johnny actually tossed my GF a red Staples "Easy Button" that they played with on during the tour. I was so proud!

Here's one of the shots we got from our up-close vantage point back in December, literally feet from the group.

Don't know if we'll be this close on Tuesday, but if that show is nearly as good as the December gig, we'll have an awesome time again!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

See you in September

Ya know how September can kinda suck sometimes? (The summer's over. School's back in session. Yada, yada, yada...)

Well, I cannot wait until this September. That's September 18th, to be exact!

For on that historic Tuesday, my multimedia collection will grow by two, as Barry Manilow's "Greatest Songs of the Seventies" CD and "Family Guy: Volume 5" DVD both drop in a store near you. ("Drop" ... that's what the kids call it these days. Ah, those kids and their lingo!)

Yes, capitalizing on the success of both "Greatest Songs of the Fifties" and "Greatest Songs of the Sixties," The Man(ilow) is coming out with his latest tribute to musical hits past.

From "My Eyes Adored You" to "Sailing," all the decades best songs are set to be released on one CD! For the track listing, click here.

Such a compilation CD is ironic, since Barry starting writing (and singing) the songs that the whole world sing in the '70s. His first hit, "Mandy," for example, came out months before I was born in 1974.

And as for Stewie Griffin and the gang, the latest installment of life in Quahog, RI, hits the shelves that very same day!

If you've read my earlier post about "The Simpsons," you know that while I grew up with Bart, Homer, Lisa, Marge and Maggie, I've since evolved into a "Family Guy" fan, collected all four previous DVD volumes.

As you can see, for me, September 18th can't come quick enough!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The "Redneck Woman" will be "Here for the Party" in September

Driving past the marquee at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center yesterday, I saw Gretchen Wilson is coming to Poughkeepsie on September 21st.

Even though I've already expounded in an earlier post on how I'm not a huge fan of country music, Gretchen passes my "hot country chick" test.

Add to that, she can actually sing. An owner of her first CD, entitled "Here for the Party," I can never get enough of songs like "Redneck Woman" and "When I Think About Cheating."

(Who knew? The same guy who likes "American Idol," Barry Manilow and Britney Spears, among others, enjoys the self-proclaimed "Redneck Woman!")

Ironically, Gretchen comes here almost a month to the day when The Wreckers play the Dutchess County Fair in Rhinebeck on August 22nd.

Honestly, I just included that last sentence so I'd have a chance to include this pic of them: That's Michelle Branch on the left and Jessica Harp on the right.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Got my tix for Taylor Hicks

With just under a month left until "American Idol" Season Five winner Taylor Hicks comes to the Mid-Hudson Civic Center, I just picked up my third-row tickets today for the August 16th show in Poughkeepsie.

I had managed to score this pair of tickets at the end of May, just days after learning of the show, and just a week after seeing former "AI" runner-up Bo at The Chance.

In the interim, though, I've got to say I was getting a little worried.

Just to gauge interest, I'd occasionally head over to the Ticketmaster Web site to see what seats were available. For the longest time, tickets were still available for as close as the middle of the center floor section.

With an earlier show on the Taylor tour already canceled, I was a little afraid. Living close to the Civic Center, I'd check the marquee every day to make sure they didn't take the show off the sign.

But rest assured, Taylor Hicks fans. Despite what the critics — including Journal music reporter John Barry — might think, the show is indeed on (they haven't taken down his name) and I'll be trying to talk to Taylor in the coming days to talk about the Poughkeepsie show and his tour.

Get ready, muggles!

Take a nap Friday afternoon, grab your Nimbus 2001 and fly over to your local store.

The final installment chronicling the happenings at Hogwarts, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," is ready to hit the shelves at the stroke of midnight on Friday.

Or is that Saturday? Whatever...

OK, now you know you're dealing with a big event when even local grocery stores are planning Harry Potter parties to celebrate the release of the book.

As you can see here, the Stop & Shop at the 44 Plaza in Poughkeepsie is planning a release party this Friday night.

Stop & Shop? I know, right?!

That's how big this thing is, that the same place where you can pick up your bread and eggs and Pop-Tarts, you can also pick up your piece of history. It's actually a good idea for Stop & Shop and their customers.

Now, you might be thinking, What respectable Harry Potter fan would go to a release party — the final release party — at a supermarket? Here's the answer: a smart one.

I've read the first two books — we'll get to that later — but I've never been so into the phenomenon to go to a release party, which have only increased in strength and size with each new book. From what I've heard from people who have been to ones at places like Barnes & Noble, these places get packed with fans, many dressed up like Harry or Hermione. (Does anyone ever dress up like Ron Weasley? Poor Ron!)

So here's what the smart people should do: Head over to a place like Stop & Shop or one of these places where you might not expect such crowds, wait in line (likely less than you would at a larger party), get your book and get out! You can be home before 1 a.m.

Again, I've read "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" and "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets," each taking less than a week to finish. I then watched each of the movies; I made a deal with myself: You can only watch the movie after you've already read the book.

Then I picked up the 435-page "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" and only got half-way through. I haven't picked it up since. It's been about three years now. Hence, I haven't seen the third, fourth or fifth movies.

I don't know who died later in the series. (Someone dies, right?) I don't know what's happened since "Chamber of Secrets" so I can't get into any of this new hoopla, including the new "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" movie that came out last week. I feel left out of the loop.

What am I missing? Should I continue with "Prisoner of Azkaban," et al? What are your plans for the release of "Deathly Hallows?" Let us know!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Posh and Becks: Should we care?

The British are coming! The British are coming!

Actually, they've already landed. No, not in Boston Harbor. In Los Angeles.

That glow you might have noticed emanating from the West Coast last night came from the dozens of photographers' flashbulbs, all trying to snap a pic like this one of British soccer star David Beckham and his wife, Victoria (who you might remember as "Posh Spice" of the Spice Girls) as they made their "official" arrival to the US.

Let's just start with Posh: I think you know my feelings about the Spice Girls. Enough said.

I do have to admit, though, I wouldn't mind seeing a little more of this the next time the Dodgers and Mets play! (And notice the guy behind her!)

But believe it or not, though, she isn't the only reason all those cameras were clicking last night ... and she might not even be the main reason.

David Beckham is to British soccer what Michael Jordan was (and still is) to American basketball or what Tiger Woods is to golf. He can do things with a soccer ball that don't even seem natural, like "bending" his shot. (Don't ask, just go here.)

So, when he signed a $250 million deal with the L.A. Galaxy (who?) of Major League Soccer (what?), Becks and Posh seemed poised to be the next LA power couple, making quick friends with TomKat and the like.

The problem is two-fold: Beckham is 32 (that's a bit on the old side for a pro athlete) and soccer here isn't what it is in Europe. Sure, millions of kids play it here but those millions don't watch the MLS, live or on TV. He's being looked at to be the savior of MLS when his best years are likely behind him.

And Posh? Well, what's she done since the Girls broke up? Yeah ... exactly. While she's great eye-candy, she hasn't shown us much more than that.

So should we even care about this latest British invasion?

I'm just sayin'.

There's no need to fear...

...there's a movie coming out later this summer that will teach a whole new generation of fans why.

Wow! That didn't sound right, did it? OK, how about this:

Underdog is here!

And he will be in theaters this summer thanks to the folks at Disney, who are bringing us an updated Underdog.

Ironically, the movie studio that's done such amazing work in animation, from "Snow White" all the way to "Ratatouille," is bringing the '60s cartoon to the big-screen as a live-action feature.

Even though it was made a decade before I was born, I used to love watching "Underdog" re-runs when I was a little kid; they were usually on alongside "Rocky & Bullwinkle" re-runs.

For those not old enough to remember, "Underdog" is really the alter-ego of Shoeshine Boy, a mild-mannered, well, shoeshine boy ... though he's really a dog. When he sees something going afoul, he'd turn into "Underdog."

Oh, and he also had a cute GF: Sweet Polly Purebred.

Having only seen the preview for "Underdog" when we saw "Ratatouille" a couple weeks ago — and btw, have you seen "Ratatouille?" What a flick! — I didn't see much of the story coming to the big screen.

I did, though, notice that Jason Lee (you might know him from "My Name is Earl") plays the voice of "Underdog." What's the irony there?

Jason Lee also played the main villain in a recent Disney animated movie ... can anyone name that villain and in what movie he was so devious???

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Irony, thy name is Homer

File this under Are You Serious?

So the producers of "The Simpsons Movie" solicited video presentations from 14 towns named Springfield across the U.S. and asked for fans to vote on the USA Today Web site, with the winner being awarded the worldwide premiere of the flick later this month.

See, Homer, Bart, Lisa and the rest of "The Simpsons" brood live in the ambiguous town of Springfield, though it's never been revealed in the show which Springfield they call home.

Springfields in Tennessee, Oregon and Florida, among others sent in entries, vying for the chance to host the event, and Springfield, Vermont won.

The irony? I used to live in Springfield, Vermont!!!

(Read more about the story by clicking here. I used to work with the author.)

If you look at my little bio over there to the right under my pic (go ahead ... I'll wait), you'll see that I used to work at the Rutland Herald for 15 months, from 1999 to 2000. Well, I didn't live and work in Rutland, which is more like the area in which I grew up.

No, I was stuck in
Springfield, which used to be a machinery mecca back in the day. Notice I stressed the phrases "used to be" and "back in the day." When I was there, Springfield boasted a population of about 9,000 (now they say it's 9,300), a McDonald's, a Family Dollar store and little else.

There's a two-screen movie theater on the town's main drag, and I only saw two movies there in my time in Springfield ("Episode One" of the "Star Wars" pre-quel and "Me, Myself and Irene," which was set in Vermont). When I went to that theater those two times, they only sold Crystal Light, and you couldn't bring it into the theater; you had to drink it in the lobby!

The big news when I lived there was that Springfield was awarded a new prison, which was to bring new jobs and (hopefully) prosperity to the town. When my friend, Abby (who comes from the next town over from Springfield, but is now a big-time NYC lawyer) took a short trip to Springfield last August, we both found it as depressing as ever.

I have a feeling when those movie folks leave Springfield after the premiere, they'll have one thing to say: D'oh!

Friday, July 6, 2007

Girls just wanna have fun

OK, there's so much going on with our fav young starlets that I wouldn't have nearly enough time to write about them all, so here are a few quick hits:

√ Nicole Richie (right) is pregnant, according to all the latest reports. Yes, the 25-year-old daughter of Lionel Richie and BF Joel Madden, the lead singer of Good Charlotte, are expecting. I guess that means now Nicole is not-eating for two. The two are expected to wed this summer.

This upcoming Wednesday, Nicole is scheduled to go on trial for driving under the influence. If found guilty, she could face up to five days in the slammer. (Insert your own Paris Hilton Joke here.)

√ Christina Aguilera (left) is also going to be a mom. Nothing much to say here. No quips. No jokes.
She went through her "Dirrty" phase and thankfully out-grew it, eventually marrying Jordan Bratman, a music exec.

√ In the most disappointing news of the day, Lauren Conrad, who stars in two of my fav MTV reality shows — the first two seasons of "Laguna Beach" and now "The Hills" — was seen out in LA earlier this week.

Now, Jason treated LC (as she's affectionately known) like cr@p time and time again, with her finally dumping him in the opening of Season Two of "The Hills." Now we hear they were seen together. Does this girl never learn? Anyone who's ever watched "LB" or "The Hills" knows exactly what I'm talking about.

If nothing else, it'll make for some good TV when "The Hills" starts up again in the fall.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Carrie & Mr. Big (Screen)

The girls are back in town!

Following a three-year hiatus, Carrie Bradshaw, Samantha Jones, Miranda Hobbs and Charlotte York are coming back — this time, to a theater near you!

Yes, the news broke today that the "Sex And The City" gang have agreed to a movie deal. For the whole story from E! online.

There had been rumors since the girls left in 2004 that they'd follow up their success on HBO with a big-screen version of the series.

And why not?

During its six seasons, the show created such a loyal fan base, that supporters still can't get enough of Carrie & Co. (Surely you read about the "SATC" reality tour, right?)

Well, reports had all the girls on board for the movie save one — Kim Cattrall (you might know her as Samantha) was said to be the lone hold-out. Apparently, according to reports, Kim was not happy toward of the end of the TV run, as Sarah Jessica Parker (Carrie) was given executive producer duties, credit and (most importantly) salary, while Kim was not granted such status.

Now word is that Kim has signed on to the project after HBO promised her a series of her own on the network.

Question: What will the new movie show us that we didn't find out in the finale?

We know what happened to Carrie. She dumped the Russian and went back to Mr. Big.
We know Mr. Big's first name. It's John.
We know what happened with Miranda and Steve. They got married.
We know what happened to Charlotte and Harry. They adopted a baby from China.

So what's next? I don't know, but it's nice to know we'll be able to find out soon on the big screen.

Whatta ya think? Any ideas about the new movie? Post a comment and let us know!

Monday, July 2, 2007

"Thank you. Come again!"


This is one of the times I wished we lived in a bigger city like Chicago or Dallas or Las Vegas.

Those are a few of the cities where the folks at 7-Eleven have converted their stores to Kwik-E-Marts, the fictional convenient stores made famous in "The Simpsons." Here's what one looks like:

They're even selling some of the game products only available at Kwik-E-Marts on the show!

In case you missed it, "The Simpsons" movie comes out July 27th, and the 7-Eleven tie-in is just one of the marketing promotions intended to boost publicity. (Hey, it must've worked ... I'm writing about it!)

Having converted to Fox's "Family Guy" since Peter Griffin, Stewie and the gang first aired in 1999, I can still say I was a big "Simpsons" fan back in the day, ever since Homer and Bart brought home Santa's Little Helper from the racetrack on the series debut back in '89. (Yeah, I wasn't really into the "Tracy Ullman Show," so I only vaguely remember the old-school "Simpsons" shorts.)

But even not having followed the happenings in Springfield for several years, I'm still looking forward to seeing the movie, let alone one of my fav Springfield-ites: Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, the attendant who works at the Kwik-E-Mart 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Before working at the Journal, I lived in Vermont for 15 months and the whole time, I longed for three things: the mall (any mall!), Denny's and Slurpees. When I came back to town, one of the first places I stopped by was the 7-Eleven on Hooker Ave., and got myself a large Slurpee. (I then got a large brain freeze, but it was so worth it!)

How cool would it be to walk into 7-Eleven ... uh ... make that a Kwik-E-Mart and buy a giant Squishee?! Ah, to dream!

Anyway ... here's one of the trailers for the movie:

This post is dedicated to my buddy Jeff, who married Steph on June 16, 2007. Congratulations!