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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Idol Eyes - The Rat Pack

Ah . . . at last we're down to five. Now we have plenty of time to hear all four judges ramble on. We don't even have to rush to try to get a performance in before the first commercial break. And the surprise Rat-Pack-era judge? Jamie Foxx. And if you think about it*, it makes sense. Still, Mr. Foxx seemed to do a pretty good job, judging by the results.

*If by "think about it" you mean not even a little.

Kris Allen
Kris is still doing his "you're so in love with me, right?" thing. And he's right. Oh, he's ever so dreamy. His take on "The Way You Look Tonight" was tactically brilliant. There he was, eyes wet with cool, crooning in all his Bublé-esque please-punch-me glory. He doesn't have the range of the other singers, but he's got a pretty sweet niche carved out . . . the screaming, hormone-crazed girl niche. He's also got a good voice, an increasingly expert grasp of reverb exploitation, and a nice touch. I'll admit it, the guy knows his way around a song.
He's staying. Darn it all.

Allison Iraheta
I've always been a big fan of Allison's, and I'm so glad she made it this far. I still think she'll stick around one more week, but her time is coming. In some seasons (especially next season . . . I've seen the future, and they're terrible in AI 9) I think Allison would have had a good shot of sticking around until the finals, but not this time. She looked great (warning, criticism approaching) and she sounded great (okay, here it comes) but her phrasing was off. It was like every measure was a separate performance . . . or that she learned the whole song phonetically. But I still love her. 
Insert corny "Someone to Watch Over Me" joke here.

Matt Giraud
"My Funny Valentine," huh? You studied jazz in college. You know what I studied in college? Psychology. I took a whole class. In summer school. And I got an A. So let me give you a little evaluation: you got a jacked-up brain hiding out under that jauntily cocked little cap, son. I'm glad Simon liked the performance, but in the words of Will Smith, "Aw HAIL no." It's not that it was bad, but . . . "I like jazz" is not the right motivation when you're in the top 5 of American Idol. The vocals were alright, especially after you got past the initial "I want to start slow and boring to make the end sound better" stage, but . . . no. That's not a vote getter. If this were Jazz Idol, maybe you would be advancing (but I definitely wouldn't be watching). I don't know why I'm writing this review as if you're reading this, Matt, it's really nothing personal.
There's a reason behind the pictures I choose, you know?

Danny Gokey
Danny, welcome back! His "Come Rain or Come Shine" was sunny, money, and dipped in honey. Seriously, after a few weeks of sleepwalking through safe and boring performances, finally Danny turned it on. I don't know if he should have said he could see the finish line (a bit cocky) or smiled so dreamily into all the judges' faces (a bit creepy), but the singing was on. He started quiet but strong and then exploded into the final riffs of soulful improv that Taylor Hicks could only dream of. Nice job.
The only question is if Danny or Kris will visit the bottom three.

Adam Lambert
This guy is such a showman, it's hysterical. I mean, he has choreographed every note, wardrobe decision, and facial expression right down to the calculation of the shadows cast by his cockatoo coif. He's obviously through to the next round and probably more talented than anyone this show's ever seen. But will he get the votes in the final weeks . . . probably. Enough people don't like him that it could get interesting later on. He's pretty much the AI Obama.
I'm only typing something in bold because I decided at this point I should make predictions on everyone.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Idle Alert

All recent evidence to the contrary, this is not an American Idol blog. I've just been a bit uninspired to write anything other than Idol, Lost, and trivia. Actually, the daily trivia email/blog has expanded lately, which has been fun. (You can sign up to receive it just by sending a blank email to . . . in case you were wondering.)

It's not as though I have nothing to say. It's not as though nothing has moved me to rant, rave, or write. It's not as though my sons haven't said anything interesting lately (Addison, today out of the blue: I think Anoop's coming back; Colin, any time Heather is gone: Mommy, where are you?). I just . . . you know, haven't posted much of anything here.

I'm sure it will get better. I'm sure I'll get sick of writing elsewhere or enjoying nature or whatever else keeps distracting me. But for now . . . all I've got are ellipses. . . . 

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

LOST questions

Before I watch tonight's episode, I wanted to answer last week's questions. Most of the questions I've received about Lost revolve around the people who briefly abducted Miles, warned him about Widmore, and asked him if he knew what stood in the shadow of the statue. Let's look at what we know:

The last time we heard the question about something standing in the statue's shadow was when Lapidus returned from the main island and got ambushed by the 2nd generation of Losties (aka Flight 316). What you (and I) may not have realized is that the main abductor who tried to dissuade Miles in the van was actually a passenger (Bram) on Flight 316. Now . . . was it a passenger who went back in time after crashing on the island or a passenger who had yet to make it to the island? Well, that's impossible to know at this point, but something tells me that dude had already seen the island.

We also know these people are anti-Widmore, which leads me to believe they're pro-Ben. They seemed to act completely differently after Lapidus returned from escorting Sun to the main island in contrast to the way they acted before he, Sun, and Ben all left. What changed their minds? My guess is, it had something to do with the psychosomatic smoke monster (heretofore known as PSM). I have a feeling that Ben reunited with the island and perhaps dabbled in yet another bout of time travel to brainwash the survivors of Flight 316. It's a wild guess, but I'm stickin' to it.

Another question was how Daniel Farraday could reappear 30 years ago after disappearing. Well, I believe he left the island when Sawyer, Juliet, Miles, and Jin all joined the Dharma initiative. I don't know how he did, but he did. Regardless, I think Daniel has always been linked in time to Sawyer, Juliet, et. al. So it's no surprise he recognized Miles. To us, they are all their present-day selves in a 1970's setting.

And what about Miles being Dr. Chang's son? Well that just makes good sense. You'd have to believe Miles got his extra-sensory post-mortem communication abilities from being born on the island (or from the after-effects of what may have happened during his time there).

It's all so very cool and, if you don't watch, so very dorky. I can't wait to watch!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Idol Eyes - Disco Inferno

UPDATED with Addison Input

And by Inferno, I mean the Dante kind. Thank goodness they cut the excess intro baggage, but I wish they would ditch the disco altogether. The show is not without its bright points, but an entire show based on the worst music ever devised by people who aren't the Spice Girls is just a terrible plan. I'm all for stretching the contestants, but this is stretching the definition of entertainment.

Lil Rounds
Lil is dressed for her disco funeral in a form-fitting shroud of black, and her dirge of choice is Chaka Khan's "I'm Every Woman." Good for her. She had fun. But I don't understand why she chose to sing nothing but "Whoo," "Come on," and "Yeah, yeah." Here's a strategy: instead of trying to have fun out there, why not make it your goal to . . . sing well? Just a suggestion. And Paula is unleashing inner goddesses. Yummy.
Addison's take: I think, Boooo. Wait . . . maybe I changed my mind to whoo! She sings pretty high.
Reality's take: Bye, Lil. I really wish you had gotten the hang of this show.

Kris Allen
I've always hated Kris, but these past two weeks he's made me hate him for making me like him. Grr, I'll never forgive him for that. He turned Donna Summer's "She Works Hard for the Money," into a jazzy little chill-fest, and darn it all, I liked it. Grr. Believe it or not, I think he's got the chance to steal this competition. Screaming girls can text really fast and frequently.
Addison's take: Awesome. I liked it 'cuz there were three instruments.

Danny Gokey
Danny got his groove back a little bit with, "Do You Remember," which, according to Paula, gets performed all the time. I hate the song, and I'm glad Paula's dead wrong about its performance frequency, but Danny can sing. Not so much on the dancing. He's still really safe, but he needs to find his zone if he wants to outlast Kris. Danny's on cruise control, and that's gonna put him in danger when we get to the final four or five.
Addison's take: Zzzzzzz. From this point on, he was in bed. If he gets a chance to finish off the episode, I'll let y'all know.
UPDATE—Addison's take: Yay! He's singing about my birthday month.

Allison Iraheta
I just love Allison. Some people don't like her. I just love her raspy, rocky, kickin'-it spirit. Her Catwoman-at-prom look was pretty fun, too. But I think people have a hard time with a girl rocking that hard at 16. And the hair. Some folks will always have problems with the hair. She sang, "Hot Stuff," in a way that bore no resemblance to Donna Summer, and for that alone I have to thank her.
UPDATE—Addison's take:Boo. She's singing too loud. Good . . . I mean, bad.
Reality's take: If there's a bottom four, Allison risks being in it, simply because Adam, Danny, and Kris are the most likely three to avoid it.

Adam Lambert
This guy is really just too good. Again, Adam took us far away from the land of the mirrored ball (soaring on the wings of his raging hair). Again, he completely reinvented a song, this time "If I Can't Have You." Obviously he's got range, and stage presence, and all of that. But the thing that really impressed me tonight was how well he conveyed the emotion of the song. Most of the other contestants are just singing their songs, but Adam is communicating for reals. (And I loved Seacrest's "pool of Abdul" remark. Wish I had thought of that.)
UPDATE—Addison's take: Echh. Messy hairdo. She (Paula) thinks yay. It was good, because he sang so soft.

Matt Giraud
On Idol, you really benefit from following someone great, and Matt just might be "Stayin' Alive" on the strength of his predecessor. While the judges reviewed his typically soulful, spirited performance unnecessarily harshly, I think viewers (and voters) are likely to forget everyone who sang before Adam. I thought Matt made the perfect song choice—singing phrases like "stayin' alive," and "I'm goin' nowhere": good; singing things like "I'm goin' home," "goodbye," and "nobody loves me": bad. Way to prove yourself saveworthy, Matt.
UPDATE—Addison's take: I liked his dancing and his singing. I like the hat. What's a strike?
Reality's take: He's definitely still gonna be in the bottom three or four, but . . . I think we'll be hearing from him again.

Anoop Desai
Contrary to Matt's positive slant, Anoop sang something about lights dimming down low, drawing mostly favorable reviews from the judges. But I agreed completely with Simon. Anoop flat-out missed his opening note. He bombed on his closing note. The notes in between were okay, and the way the stage lighting matched his pink sweater impeccably was bordering on freaky genius. But Anoop was awful. What radio from the pit of Hades is Kara listening to? Oh, that was abysmal (as was Seacrest's reference to Anoop's eyebrows; do those things really need more attention drawn to them?).
UPDATE—Addison's take: His clothes are kind of boring, like Uncle Knicknocks from Imagination Movers. Anoop? Anoop? Anoop again? Good. Simon thinks everyone is a bad singer.
Reality's take: Anoop, you are in serious danger.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Idol Eyes: At the Movies

I $%#!*& love it when Tarantino is on Idol, but they're kind of overdoing his influence on the world as we know it. Heather and I both love that they're spending so much time talking about why the show tends to run long. Hmm . . . and rather than trimming down their critiques, they're just going to judge two at a time. Okay.

I also watched this with my five-year-old critic, who had some fascinating opinions on everybody. And Paula dressed up like a knock-off Cartier watch, which is just tick-tock beautiful. So here we go:

Allison Iraheta
Overall, I loved Allison's take on "I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing," but I don't like the trend festering among the contestants lately, especially this week. To foreshadow a change of pace midway through the song, they're phoning in the first few bars. It's okay to build the energy, but you still gotta express with every note. Allison was a little too cooped up on her intro, but she unleashed her inner rooster before we got very far into it. She is just plain good.
Addison's take: She has pink hair?! Booooo.
She's staying. She's judge-save worthy.

Anoop Desai
Anoop brought back the Bryan Adams monster ballad, "EID (IDIFY)," which should thrill the hearts of piano-playing high school boys (and the girls who love to fawn over their ivory-tickling fingers) everywhere. He's in a rut, but he's getting better in that rut, and it's a vote-getting rut, and I don't think that will change this week. All in all, Anoop sang really well, and I'm glad he's still around.
Addison's take: I think he should be Anoob.

Adam Lambert
"Born to Be Wild" just seems to make sense for Adam, for some unknown reason. Look, the guy can sing better than probably anybody in the history of the show. I mean, this guy was born 20 years too late, cuz the Hair Band Era may never have died had Adam Lambert been around to save it. Okay . . . maybe it could have stayed on life support for a little while. But Adam is just too theatrical sometimes. And I love how Paula uses cliches that have never been spoken in the history of the English language and expects us to A) recognize them as time-honored pearls of wisdom and B) understand what the QuentinTarantino she is saying.
Addison's take: Yeah! He's great! "Booorn to be wiiiiiiiild!"

Matt Giraud
They should have made a rule that an artist could be covered only once. If you're going to do two Bryan Adams songs in one night, one of them should be good. "Have You Ever Really (Really, Really) Ever Loved a Woman," or whatever the actual title was, is not a good song. And Matt's was not a good performance. Too all over the place. Too boring. Too much kissing the microphone.
Addison's take: He sings like a girl.
Matt should have sung something from a movie that ended better.

Danny Gokey
Remember that trend I don't like? Danny is the Grand Master Trendsetter. His "Endless Love" was altogether beginningless. He's still good and soulful and aww-shucks, but he appears to need a high-energy song to jump start him. Low-key segments of Danny's songs tend to fall off Mt. Boring. If he doesn't start supplying his own get-up-and-go, people are going to stay in their seats and forget to text.
Addison's take: Yay!
Yeah, that's right, welcome to the bottom three, DG.

Kris Allen
I've made no secret of my disdain for Kris. Last week I accused him of strategically targeting tweenage girls with his boyish charm and overdone reverb. Today, he went after artsy girls by singing a good but not entirely popular song, "Falling Slowly," and singing it well. And all of a sudden I felt this weird sense of respect for him . . . what's happening to me?
Addison's take: I thought he was Kris Alien.

Lil Rounds
In his advice to Lil, QT hit on exactly the trend I'm talking about. Lil sang, "The Rose," with a few of her trademark bursts of soul surrounded by her trademark vanilla retreads of songs she could have done something with. The first part was Lil Plain and Tall. The second half had some gospel in it. Lil . . . do it up gospel from beginning to end, and you just might convince people you belong here. Technically she didn't really falter until right before her final phrase (when she looked at the judges), but artistically she bombed the moment she decided she should only give the song a li'l bit of Lil.
Addison's take: Booo. Booo. Booooooo.
I came real close to posting Lil's picture this week.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Idol Eyes, The Year They Were Spawned

Baby pictures, aw shucks. This is usually one of my least favorite weeks due to the tendency contestants have of choosing songs they don't really know . . . or absolutely love. Here we go.

Danny Gokey
With a version of "Stand by Me," that I don't remember ever hearing before, but it was good.  I really like this guy, but I'm kind of wondering if we're ever going to hear anything better than what we've seen so far. He just picked a song he can sing and have fun with. And that's great, and it will get him votes. But . . . I don't know. I want to see him challenge himself, and I'm starting to sound like Paula or Kara so I'll move on.

Kris Allen
Okay, everybody knows I don't like him. Why? Because he just strikes me as the type of guy who carefully calculates everything about his image to make girls fall in love with him. It's like he's dressing up like a puppy dog for Halloween. Except it's every day. That's why it causes me no grief to see his surrounded-by-screaming-girls crap-jazz rendition of "All She Wants to Do Is Dance" fall absolutely flat. Once again he's playing a guitar heard by no one. When this song was on the radio, I loved it. He managed to strip away everything I liked about that song, and it died right in front of him. Sadly, it won't matter. He's moving on.

Lil Rounds
I, for one, knew Lil was short for Lilly, and I got very tired of Simon belilling her for her name. But I agreed wholeheartedly with the judges that she is not being true to her identity. However, I think they're giving her terrible advice, or maybe too much advice. She needs to kick back, watch Happy Feet, find her heart song, and sing that.  Or hop in the shower, sing the first song that comes to her mind, and figure out a way to make that song fit into the category of the week. With all this discussion of her name, she's managed to lose it. Be Lil, Lil. You might not get another shot.

Anoop Desai
Anoop is officially the Rex Grossman of American Idol. This week was good Rex, good Anoop, and a great song choice. You can pretty much tell whether Anoop is going to be good before a single note has been sung. If he's hopping around the stage, he's a total goofball. When it's slow, he's really good. Should he sing an upbeat song to mix it up? Why? America doesn't care if he mixes it up. We just don't want him to suck. My wife wants to make sure I mention that Paula's teeth are covered in lipstick.

Scott MacIntyre
See, this is what I hate about this theme and the whole concept that you need to be versatile. If eclectic is your thing, by all means mix it up. But if you're Scott, just sing your song and do your thing. I really like him, and deeply respect his decision to stand and rock behind a guitar you could actually hear. But it was just him playing Guitar Hero in front of America. I hate that song too much to even look up its name. Scott, you should have stuck with the piano, sang some James Taylor . . . I think it's time for you to go.

Allison Iraheta
People aren't voting for Allison because her hair is fuchsia, and that's just wrong. She absolutely rocks. Her "I Can't Make You Love Me" was, admittedly, a bit overwrought (she's 16), but she sings like a bird. A really rocking bird. But not Meghan. I love everything about her, and if she can't leave the bottom three, I'm gonna have a hissy. She doesn't get nearly enough votes, but the judges will absolutely save her, if only for a week.

Matt Giraud
Joey Macintyre did awesome tonight. Seriously, I've been hearing people compare Matt to Justin Timberlake, but I finally realized he's one of the original New Kids on the Block. But that's cool, cuz he made "Part Time Lovers"come alive. That sounded cooler in my head. Yeah . . . um, Matt was great.

Adam Lambert
I switched over from the Cubs game and caught Adam's version of a song I can't remember. I can't remember because the entirety of his performance occurred after the DVR ran out. I mean, three minutes after Idol was supposed to be over, Lambert was beginning his little interview. Clearly, AI was not prepared for a full-on four-judge system. They just take way too long. Simon summed up Adam's slow-downed pool of melancholy by giving him a standing ovation, and I'll second that. But everyone involved with the show should be ashamed of themselves that they let it come to this. In TV, you don't run over. No excuses.

Sadly, I think the bottom three will be Allison, Lil, and Scott. Sorry, it's late, and this is subpar. But hey, even AI reviewers have their off weeks.

Monday, April 06, 2009

New Site of the Week: Eagle Eye

I saw this on a friend's facebook page and thought it was one of the coolest uses of a webcam I have ever seen. 

It's a camera (active during daylight hours only) pointed directly at an eagles' nest. Three babies hatched in March, and you can see them develop right before your eyes. I can't embed the camera directly (or at least I don't know how), so you 'll have to visit the link. But I saw the mother and babies just hanging out together earlier today. I would love to see it when the babies learn to fly . . . although how much will actually show up on camera I really don't know.

Anyway, it's just cool.

Time Warp NCAA Championship SPOILER

Michigan State and North Carolina have yet to don their uniforms, but I can already tell you the winner. 

That's because John Hinkley won the 2009 Bracket Bucks Challenge. If Michigan State wins, John wins. If the Tar Heels prevail, John really wins, because that's who he picked to win it all. So congratulations, John! You're the proud owner of a $20 Starbucks gift card that will soon find its way to you.

Actually, I should clarify. "John Hinkley" was his brackets' name. His real name is James LaFleur (although he'll let you call him "Sawyer).

Friday, April 03, 2009

Overheard, Go Colin Go

I wouldn't say Colin is getting to the point where he's actually quotable per se, but he is talking and expressing himself at a rapidly progressing rate that has steamrolled me with joy. Here are a few of my favorite recent pearls of wisdom to fall from his mouth:

  • After walking out on a Baby Einstein video, Colin asked for me to hold him. So I asked him, "Colin, do you want to watch this or not?"

    Colin: "Not."
  • When he says, "Puppets," it's just really cute. Not really a story there.
  • A couple days ago, he spontaneously burst into song and demanded I sing along with him. The song he so desperately and exuberantly wanted to sing? "Go Cubs Go." Ah . . . yes. I think we'll keep this one.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

I Was Wrong ***SPOILER ALERT***

Is me being wrong really a spoiler? Nah. But . . . hang on, Anoop-dog, Anoop dog hang on.

And just a few comments about the results show:
  1. That was the worst lip synching I've ever seen. (Okay, now wait a few seconds.) [/lipsmoving].
  2. David Cook rocked.
  3. Every week at least one contestant heads the wrong way after Seacrest discloses their destiny.
  4. The Rockin' Robin really flew off the deep end tonight. I hope she enjoys her Cocoa Puffs.
  5. And Lady Ga Ga really helped lay the groundwork for making Megan's exit drama seem normal. Thank you, LG2, for that. Could have used a little palette cleanser in between those two numbers. It was like downing espresso after sucking on a grapefruit.