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Thursday, March 08, 2007

American Idol: We’re Really Gonna Miss You (Or, Maybe Not) Edition.

Marginal singers and bad ensemble singing. It must be American Idol.

Who should go home? Antonella and Sanjaya are my first tier of weekly should-be losers. Past that it gets a little murky. Haley or Stephanie would be fine on the women’s side and Chris R, Jared, Sundance, or Phil (in that order) could go and I would be happy. Chris R seems an unlikely cut--he has a contemporary style and look that will probably keep him on the show for a while.

But what do I know? I still think that Paris was the best contestant that they had on the show so far.

As Bob, regular comment guy here, noted: it’s hard to justify keeping an equal number of men and women on the show this year. The women are much closer to good and only a couple of the guys are even close (with Chris Sligh having, if not a perfect voice, at least the charisma to imagine seeing him go quite a ways).

Lakisha: safe. Blake: safe. Good and good.

Chris Sligh: safe. Very good.

Jordin Sparks: safe. Which is nice. I like her (even though last night wasn’t what I would call wonderful).

Phil: safe. Maybe that will give him a chance to improve himself next week. This week was rough.

Jared Cotter: going home. Which I’m okay with--he hasn’t proven to be a consistent singer--but it is a shame. He’s a nice guy with potential, although I can’t imagine that he would ever sell and album to me.

Melinda: Safe. Which, c’mon, we saw that coming. Brandon: safe. He may have gotten a bit lucky; his song this week was one of his better moments.

Gina: Safe. Good for her--I was a little worried that her rockin’ moment might have scared off the kiddies. Chris R: Safe. Whatever.

Aside from the aside: I liked Bo. I liked Bo Bice and his Big Bag of Cocaine. Carrie Underwood is an entirely different story.

Aside from that aside: Oh, hell, Mad Max would totally drive this car. He would still be played by an anti-semite, so it’s hard to celebrate the way that I used to, but what a car.

Antonella: going home. Hallelujah. Stephanie: staying. Which, if she keeps wearing things like that, I might consider voting for her. Now we’ll just wait for the inevitable news of Playboy offering big bucks to get more some pictures of their own. Given her level of talent--marginal would be overstating it--that might be her best shot at stardom.

That wasn’t very nice, was it?

Haley: safe. Which is sort of sad, really. Sabrina: gone. Which doesn’t seem quite right. Between these two, Haley should have been heading off.

Sanjaya: safe. Sundance: going home. I could see sending either of these two home, but it was still the wrong choice. Sanjaya is the least talented of the men and he doesn’t deserve his slot.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

American Idol: I Coulda Been Watching The Colorado Avalance Edition

I chose American Idol out of a sense of tradition and obligation (mixed almost equally)--but I’m going to be flipping back and forth to make the g-phrase cranky…

Jordin Sparks does Pat Benatar’s “Heartbreaker"--which might just count as contemporary music in this crowd--and does a fun, energetic, but ultimately totally straight take on the song. Not bad, not special.

Avs Update: 3-2 over Buffalo with a bit over ten minutes left in the game. They are still pretty likely to miss the playoffs for the first time that I can remember, but this late-season surge has been a lot of fun to watch.

Messy might be the best short description for Sabrina Sloan’s (hubba hubba) performance. There were moments where she sounded wonderful, but those moments were mixed in with some bad notes and screechy singing. I’m not impressed.

Antonella, you hussy. Now about the singing: bad voice, marginal song choice, weak performance, vocals that got lost underneath the music and the background singers, and almost no personality to speak of.

Shut up, Paula, you idiot. Simon says, “You’ve gone as far as you can go, Antonella.” I would disagree: she’s gone far longer in this show than she should have, but his main point is appreciated. I will agree with him, though: she really didn’t deserve the media storm that came from her nekkid pictures. Whoever put those pictures out is a serious jerk.

But whatever sympathy I had for her was killed off when she said that she wished the judges wouldn’t compare her to anyone else. She does realize that this is a competition, right? That the only way that “America” finds a winner is by comparing the singers and deciding which one they like the most.

Paula and Antonella should get together, and, you know, compare IQs.

Avs Update II: The Avs win another won to keep their slender playoff hopes alive. That’s five straight, pal.

Wow. Haley Scarnato (who gets more hubbas than any of the other contestants) sounded decent tonight, but she was singing one of the worst possible songs for this competition. It was a total Disney moment completely sans sexuality, tension, or anything even vaguely memorable. She is a tremendously beautiful woman, but she is so mild, so tepid that every week I’m surprised to see her again--amazed that this person is on the show and who the hell is she anyway? Simon’s right: I don’t remember her name more than a few minutes after the show is over. That can’t be good.

Stephanie, has an entirely different problem. She has a strong voice and great stage presence, but her performance was way off. She was screaming through parts, she missed notes, and she was off the music a few times--Paula was completely off. It wasn’t a near “flawless” performance.

Okay, maybe it’s me that is off because even Lakisha doesn’t sound up to her usual high standards. She still makes the most of her presence on stage and she definitely sounds best of the singers so far tonight, but there were a couple painful moments. Still, as I said, better than the rest tonight. So far. “Passion, talent, believability...and, of course, the ‘yo’ factor...”

Who doesn’t love Gina? At least, until she breaks out Pickle and Troll? Pickle and Troll kind of creep me out, if you want to know the truth.

While the outfit wasn’t so great, she did do a credible rock grrl performance complete with glimpses of her pierced tongue and a few growly moments. Which might not win her a lot of fans out in the tweenerville hell that is American Idol, but which I appreciated. Pitch problems? Sure. But it was one of the most fun of songs of the night, and she out rocks any of the pseudo-rocker boys that were on the show the last few years. Constantine, eat your heart out.

And, anyway, the drummer kicked ass.

Simon says nice things which makes me happy. Because I’m needy like that.

Melinda Doolittle is still my favorite, though. Love her voice, love her personality, love watching her work the stage. Seriously, she’s better at this than all the rest. She doesn’t just know how to sing, she knows how to play an audience, she seems totally genuine, and she is a blast.

Great way to close out the show. Regardless of where she ends up on the show, she will have a hell of a career.

Update: Rob v/ Antonella. Yeah, boy. And Kate offers her thoughts, too.

Choices…

Do I watch the Avs game or do I watch American Idol women singing songs I probably won’t like?

Tough choice…

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

American Idol: This Time It’s Personal Edition

The most important news of the day? It’s probably that tonight marks the return of House. Unless maybe it was the Libby conviction, of course.

While you ponder that, let’s watch some American Idol, alright?

We’re all happy that Blake is still on the show, and his song choice of the night is inspired. Which is why it was so surprising that it was a boring performance--lifeless, bland, and not up to his standards. Randy and Paula’s admission that they didn’t know 311’s “All Mixed Up”, though, was stunning--and it was hardly better to hear them insist that singing an 11 year old song somehow makes Blake contemporary.

Good Lord. No wonder these people can’t identify a rock star. They live in a musically lost world where the hardest rock someone like Randy has heard was while playing on stage with Journey.

I still love Journey, though.

Sanjaya thinks people will be surprised that he can hula (or, “shake his bootie Hawaiian style"), I’m thinking no one is shocked by this news. He is a lovely young man--seriously, I don’t mean that in a completely non-ironic way. He’s polite, intelligent, and seemingly kind. Unfortunately he just isn’t getting any better--he was lucky to still be on on the show this week and it will be a minor miracle (or at least a lot of horrible voting) if he stays on the show for next week.

Brutal truth: he’s not good in any aspect of his performance and he doesn’t deserve to still be on the stage. Sweet kid, though.

Speaking of lucky, how about Sundance? He lucked his way through weeks of bad performances until he actually had a good week. That good week was last week. Doing Pearl Jam’s “Jeremy” this week, though, he reverted to (bad) form--he made the song into a elevator pop version of what was a pretty decent rock song. He didn’t carry any of the angst and guilt of the original and ended up looking and sounding a little like Meatloaf Sings Pearl Jam’s Greatest Hits.

I’m surprised Paula didn’t call it “brave”.

Chris Richardson, on “let’s reveal our secrets” night, reveals his inner fat guy. Everyone can see my inner fat guy. Mostly because he escaped the confines of the wussy little thin guy who was trying to keep him hidden.

Anyway, man that sucked. I really don’t like this guy’s voice, his song choice, or anything about his performance. The g-phrase asked if we could turn the show down during the singing portion of the evening. They like what about this guy? Whatever it was, I missed it.

And then there’s Jared Cotter. Okay, that was alright. Not actually good, mind, but decent. Unfortunately, there isn’t much else to say.

Little Link Away Moment: Dissenting opinions (and a peek at upcoming performances) from that snaky chick. And World Crushing Monkey Boy, too.

I continue to want to like Brandon--he’s obviously musically talented and, at times, he’s shown a powerful voice, but his performances haven’t been great. Tonight, though, he was solid--acting a little more like a lead singer, singing a little less timid, and a good song choice could keep him on the show. He was much better than he has been--not perfect, but good.

Phil “The Hat Wearing Bald Guy” shouts too much, sings too little. (Another Journey aside: Randy compares him to Steve Perry--which was a compliment, I’m pretty sure). It was a messy performance of a trite, insipid little song. I’m with Simon: I didn’t get it at all.

My favorite guy on the show is still Chris Sligh.

Open Invitation to Chris Sligh Moment: Dude, any time you’re in Denver you’re invited over for drinks.

Back to his performance. He’s still one of the best on the show--he continues to sing well, he’s mostly good on the stage, and he has charisma that’s surprising. It was probably the best of the night (and Paula, you’re an idiot).

In fact, I thought that the only reasonably good performances of the night were Chris S and Brandon--everyone else just hit one level of suck or another. It isn’t a particularly inspiring group of male vocalists even though almost all of them seem really likable.

Update: Linked by Chris Richardson. Sort of. If you take my meaning.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Jeffrey Dahmer Wasn’t a Cannibal

Okay, try this statement on for size:

Jeffrey Dahmer wasn’t a cannibal. He just bought the wrong cook book and made a few bad choices.

Because, to an admittedly ridiculous extreme, that’s what Joy Miller is saying about her daughter, 19 year old bank robber Ashley Miller.

“I want [people] to know that her and Heather both are not bandits,” Joy Miller told ABC’s “Good Morning America” Monday.” “They’re little girls that made a bad choice.”

I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but it has to be said: it’s the choices that you make that define who you are. If you’ve chosen to rob a bank, that pretty much makes you a bank robber. Excusing your little bank robber is making a choice, too. It’s choosing to be a bad parent.

Read more about the “Barbie Bandits”.

I Had to Link the Link to Me.

I’ve never been afraid of a little bit of self-reference on the site. I write things in hopes that they’ll be read and that someone out there will actually enjoy the experience. What it works out, it makes me happy. But that’s not why I’m referencing Shawn’s link to ResurrectionSong today.

Nope, I’m linking the link so that you’ll go and read what really must be the final word on the Ann Coulter affair. Seriously, it’s spot on.

Thanks, Shawn.

Update: And I would be seriously remiss if I did not link to Robert’s link to me (and a handful of others who probably aren’t nearly as important as I am)..

And, for everyone who reads or links somewhat regularly: I’ve disabled Trackbacks (because some bastard figured out how to bypass EE’s trackback protection schemes). If I don’t notice your link and give you a link back in return, it’s not because I don’t care. It’s because I haven’t noticed quite yet. Drop me an email and I’ll fix it as quickly as I can.

Update, Pt. 2: Jed links to the post, too, and adds some thoughts about Rudy G.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

From Misguided to Utterly Wrong: A List of Things I Disagreed With Today

The Record Industry Wants to Hide Its Products

The record industry doesn’t want you to hear its music. It would like to hide artists jealously away in vaults, safely hidden from all the evil pirates who would steal the music from Internet radio outlets of all kinds. At least, that’s the only conclusion that I can come to after reading this on one of Wired’s blogs:

The new rates force webcasters to pay for each song streamed to each user, and increase over the next few years as follows:

2006: $0.0008 to stream one song to one listener
2007: $.0011
2008: $.0014
2009: $.0018
2010: $.0019

Those fees will add up quickly for larger webcasters; the Radio and Internet Newsletter (RAIN) calculates that, assuming that the average station plays 16 songs per hour, sites would have to pay “about 1.28 cents” per listener per hour using the 2006 rate, and would owe this retroactively, in addition to licensing fees going forward.  RAIN’s math indicates that the rate would render Internet radio unsustainable, or at the very least, more ad-laden than terrestrial radio—and that’s before the songwriters’ licenses are taken into account:

“Even adding in ancillary revenues from occasional video gateway ads, banner ads on the website, and so forth, total revenues per listener-hour would only be in the 1.0 to 1.2 cents per listener-hour range.  That math suggests that the royalty rate decision — for the performance alone, not even including composers’ royalties! — is in the in the ballpark of 100% or more of total revenues.”

The situation looks grim for webcasters large and small.  Even tiny sites would owe the minimum of $500 per channel per year, which could also have implications for webcasters who provide customized radio stations, since the CRB does not define whether those would each constitute a “channel” (whatever that is).  Webcasters have a 15-day period to ask the CRB to rehear arguments.

Which essentially could kill off the majority of Internet radio stations. Streaming music providers like Pandora will either cease to exist or become a tiered pay service with subscription rates for what are now free services along with increased fees for their “no advertising” services. Which is actually very close to saying that they will go out of business since most people are unlikely to pay even moderat fees for their Internet radio.

I’m not so opposed to fee based services, though. What I’m opposed to is both the anti-innovation stance that the record industry and its proxies continue to take against music delivered via the Internet and the obvious unfairness of requiring Internet streaming music services to pay a significantly higher effective royalty rate than their traditional radio rivals. It is typical record industry idiocy; not only is it self-defeating and arrogant in the extreme.

Read the excellent coverage of the topic and more links here.

Sometimes a Movie About Guys Wearing Skirts is Just a Movie About Guys Wearing Skirts. Or Something to That Effect.

Apparently, according to Drudge, people are already debating the political bent of the upcoming movie 300. Since I haven’t seen the movie yet, perhaps there is something to all the chatter. More likely though is that the wagging tongues are a reflection of the over-politicized time in which we live. Nothing can be put on screen that isn’t picked over for political leanings and nothing can be said without courting angry responses from one side of the aisle or the other.

C’mon. It’s a movie from a comic book version of a semi-mythical story that is likely much heavier on style than political depth and it looks like great fun. I plan to be there over the opening weekend to see the blood, guts, and strange men in skirts--and I promise I’ll try to see it without worrying over the politics of the thing.

Update: Dorkafork, who brings us this mighty debate between R2D2 and Chewie, also points to a post about an interview with Frank Miller.

Britney Goes Bonkers. Or, Perhaps, Merely Bonkers-er Than Before.

This isn’t so much a bad idea or something that I disagree with as it is an oddity that just caught my eye.

Britney Spears’ disturbed mental state may have worsened with reports of an attempted suicide and other bizarre behaviour while in rehab.

Tabloid newspapers have reported Spears as claiming to be “the Antichrist”, writing 666 on her shaved head, and running uncontrolled through the Promises Clinic in Malibu.

The News of the World reports that the singer narrowly escaped injury.

“Later that night she tried to kill herself [with a bedsheet],” a source told the newspaper. “Paramedics were called, but luckily she was unhurt.”

Sad, stupid, crazy little girl. She really isn’t competent to be a parent.

Explaining Away the Inexcusable

Jay Tea at Wizbang! explains away Ann Coulters idiotic attempt at a joke (I think it went something like this: “Stop me if you’ve heard this one before--John Edwards walks into a bar and the bartender says, ‘John Edwards is a faggot.”’ ), fawning a bit over her “schtick” while telling us that he really isn’t a fan. He tops it off by asserting that Coulter was really just trying to make a point--"So, in that context, what is Coulter trying to express? I’d say that we’re losing a fundamental right here—the right to be an asshole.”

Okay. I think it’s much more likely that she was just stirring things up again because that’s what she does. She aims to offend and often hits her mark.

Through most of her career, I was some measure of a fan. I enjoyed her writing, I liked that she was over the top, and I even smiled at some of the things that made others grimace. As the years go by, though, she has had to push well past a point where I think she’s a useful “bomb thrower” and has become more of a caricature of her old self--which is just a disappointing way of saying that I don’t think she has much new to bring to the debate even as an agitator.

And there’s no need to excuse her. She doesn’t speak for us, she wasn’t elected, and I have no personal sense of loyalty that would lead me to encourage others to be patient with her carefully cultivated Tourette Syndrome. I don’t like it from Al Franken, Michael Moore, the Dixie Chicks, or the late Molly Ivins, so why should I want it from one of our own? Dennis Miller is about as far out as I go on that limb anymore because “plainspoken” doesn’t have to equate to “asshole” or “belligerent” to get the point across.

And if her point is that we’re losing the right to be assholes, as Jay Tea asserts, then she’s wrong. I’m surrounded by assholes every day. I see them on the roads, I manage to control myself in their presence in the Costcos and Wal Marts of the nation, and I hear their Oscar acceptance speeches on the late night news. People have all the right in the world to be assholes, but no one has the obligation to provide them with a microphone to broadcast their views.

What Coulter said was stupid, mean, and not funny--and the people who insist that she didn’t actually say anything are just playing an immature grade-school game that ignores the very obvious intent of her words. No, she didn’t say “John Edwards is a faggot”, but the intent was clear enough to anyone who isn’t bent on making excuses for her.

We--that is, we of the right--can be aggressive and blunt in our arguments, and should be more often, but we don’t need to be jerks, we don’t need to spout unjustly mean and crass things to win the debate. When someone like Coulter is invited to speak at one of our big events, her actions reflect on all of us; when her actions aren’t a good reflection, our comments must reflect our disappointment.

Check out Michelle Malkin’s live report of Coulter’s speech.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

American Idol: Leave Me. Leave Me Now Edition.

Who goes home? For the men, Sanjaya is probably the most deserving of the pink slip. Sundance, on principle, should go home, too, but I would really prefer to see AJ go.

Phil is safe. Chris Slight is safe (phew). Sundance is safe. Blake is safe (and was damn good this week). Jared is safe. Nick, though, is going bye-bye. As I said last night: lounge act or pop star?

Self-aware aside: Damn, I should write something worth reading sometime soon.

Stephanie is safe. Gina is safe. Sabrina is safe.  Melinda is safe (and it would have been wrong otherwise). Alaina is gone. Which makes me feel pretty good inside.

Now, if only Antonella would go home…

Chris Richardson is safe. Brandon is safe. But unless he improves dramatically, he won’t be for long. AJ is gone. You would have to have imagined that Sanjaya was on the bubble--he even thought that he was heading home. Like Brandon, he needs to improve tremendously. AJ wasn’t a bad choice to go home, though.

Chinese food delivery aside. Which isn’t so much an observation of anything as much as it is a physical reality involving a barking dog and some food in a bag.

Leslie is going home and, though not as deserving as Antonella, it’s a decent choice. Antonella, apparently, is getting the coveted “God I love naked pictures of women” vote. And that’s a pretty big constituency.

Update: A very venomous goodbye.

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