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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Mr. Answer Knows it All (And Likes Short Answer Questions)

Good idea.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

So, Like I Said

Sanjaya: Not in bottom three.

Gina: Gone.

Me from yesterday:

Gina is another favorite (and her wicked cool hair style). She wasn’t so impressive tonight, though, with a performance that didn’t end as well as it should have and a song that might not have been her best choice. Sentiment aside, she does better with upbeat and aggressive; she sounded good, but she didn’t play to her strengths. Pity since stragglers are eaten by the Sanjaya-loving hordes of evil doers.

Damned, evil Sanjaya-loving hordes.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Tamil Tigers Prank Exposed

The Tamil Tigers’ notoriously wacky sense of humor has once again landed the Sri Lankan rebels in deep trouble when one of the pranksters let the punchline slip during a recent interview.

The leader of a key Tamil Tiger breakaway group in eastern Sri Lanka says the main organisation’s head was never serious about the peace process.

Col Karuna Amman told the BBC that Velupillai Prabhakaran had said peace talks should be dragged out “because it would be really, really funny when the fighting resumed. I mean, seriously, can you just imagine the looks on their faces when we start blowing things up again? It will be hilarious, dude.”

When asked about the jest, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa said, “That’s why we don’t invite them to parties anymore. Those guys tell the worst jokes ever.”

Col. Karuna Amman, the former Tamil Tiger who exposed the joke, is surrounded by heavy security as he waits for the inevitable retaliatory practical joke.

Read the story.

American Idol: The Tony Loves Sanjy Edition

It’s always a little tough for the kiddies to attack music like the stuff that Tony Bennett made a career of singing. It helps for the singer to have a little age to sing a song about “Mack the Knife” which, for all its lively music, is a pretty dark song. So, while Blake sounded good and gave a good performance, I would agree with Mr. Bennett that the kid didn’t really seem to catch the feeling of the song. It’s a good, but emotionless, performance of the song.

On the sidewalk, sunday morning, lies a body oozin’ life
Someones sneakin’ round the corner, is the someone Mack the Knife?

Still, it was a decent stab (sorry) at the old tune and not without its own merits. Blake is a fine performer and his voice is decent. It’s hard not to like the guy.

“Night and Day” is another wonderful song, and, minus a few uneven moments, Phil has a perfect voice for this kind of thing. His style was a little old fashioned, but I’m not one to think that old fashioned is necessarily a bad thing. I think the judges were completely wrong and that this was as good a performance as Blake’s (although Paula’s comparison to Frank Sinatra was wildly off base).

Melinda Doolittle could be accused of a bit of an old fashioned take on “I’ve Got Rhythm”, and, again, that’s not a bad thing. She sounded, looked, and performed wonderfully (although I thought it got a little cabaret at the end (in opposition to Simon who thought that the cabaret portion came at the beginning of the thing)).  Any guesses as to whether she will win the whole thing? Or will the hordes of Sanjaya supporters manage to steal the competition?

The term “vocally limited” seems like a good way to describe Chris Richardson (not to mention “painful on the ears"). “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore” exposed the limits of his voice, although he wears a hat like a champ. The judges are smoking crack--it wasn’t hip, he didn’t sound good, and completely unsuited to him.

Of course, to be fair, I haven’t liked the guy from the beginning and I do play favorites.

I like Jordin Sparks, though, and I loved it when Bennett commended her for singing without excessive ornamentation. She gave what was (at least to this point) the performance of the night. I loved it.

Gina is another favorite (and her wicked cool hair style). She wasn’t so impressive tonight, though, with a performance that didn’t end as well as it should have and a song that might not have been her best choice. Sentiment aside, she does better with upbeat and aggressive; she sounded good, but she didn’t play to her strengths. Pity since stragglers are eaten by the Sanjaya-loving hordes of evil doers.

Disco-suited Sanjaya failed to impress. He still looks and sounds like a high school student who stumbled into a competition with a bunch of adults. He can’t compete on talent, so he competes on goofy, youthful enthusiasm. The only good part was Simon’s hilarious attempt at reverse psychology and Randy’s admission that commenting on Sanjaya’s vocal was utterly useless.

And then there’s Haley, who always looks amazing but who has the emotional depth of the a Miss America contestant (and, no, I don’t mean that in the nicest possible way). It was as cutesy a performance as I’ve seen in my life; she just doesn’t connect emotionally with the song or the audience.

She does, indeed, have great legs, though. And other bits.

Lakisha tries to do too much with her songs. She has a powerful voice, but she works a little too hard to make the big moments count.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Speaking of Ex-Pythons (Because We Were, You Know)

I saw Tideland recently and have this to say: I’d rather sit through a double feature of Titanic and Pearl Harbor than see this piece of shit again.

Terry Gilliam has made brilliant movies, but Tideland is definitely not one of them. It isn’t merely bad, it is spectacularly wrong on so many levels that it can’t even manage “funny in spite of itself” status. It is so ridiculously self-indulgent that it can’t have been made for anyone other than Terry Gilliam’s raging ego. It feels endless until the final act where it is nearly impossible to sift the sense of relief from the sense of insult.

The production wobbles between creepy near pedophilia, long stretches of boredom, irritation at the uselessness of the thing, and confusion as to how some decent actors (Jeff Bridges, how could you?) were suckered into what was probably not even a particularly good pay day. The lead, a girl named Jodelle Ferland, isn’t so much a bad actress as she is asked to carry a movie when she’s obviously not ready for the responsibility. As she appears in most every scene, her mannerisms grow steadily more irritating as the movie grinds painfully on, and her screaming becomes a brutal assault on ear drums.

Tideland is dirty, grimy, and ugly for ugly’s sake. Gilliam, in an introduction eerily reminiscent of Johnny Depp’s monolog at the beginning of The Libertine--for my money, a far better examination of grime--says that many viewers will hate the movie but that, luckily, many will love it. I’ve seen a handful of reviewers that did really love the thing, but I can’t help but think that some of that love comes from a worshipful fan base that feels some need to make excuses for the notoriously difficult director.

Understand, I don’t have to feel good when I leave a theater and I don’t have to “enjoy” the movie in some shallow, smily way. But I do prefer films where I can find some reason to care, some reason to want to keep watching, and something real enough to encourage conversation after the fact. With Tideland, Gilliam has achieved none of the above. I felt nothing for the characters who don’t manage to display anything that might make you believe that they were human and at times it felt like an exercise in masochism to watch the thing to the end. If I didn’t feel the need to offer fair warning to others I may never have spoken of Tideland again.

Tideland is a horrendously bad movie and it is no wonder that it passed through theaters last year pretty much unnoticed. Brothers Grimm was a minor disappointment; Tideland is a warning that a monumental talent might be slipping--or perhaps that the war between his ego and his skills finally tipped in the wrong direction.

For Some People…

It’s okay to make fun of the British sailors who were taken prisoner by a belligerent Iran. Strangely, I don’t consider that funny. But, hey, maybe I just don’t have an evolved sense of humor.

Here are some more jokes that might get the “at least Iran is better than the US” crowd giggling some more.

Maybe the ladies and gentlemen over at Americablog would think that Iran’s jailing, torture, and execution of gay men is funny, too.

“We are here to condemn Iran’s execution and torture of gay men, and to demand international action against the tyrannical Iranian regime” said protest co-organiser Peter Tatchell of the LGBT human rights group OutRage!.

“The international community should issue an ultimatum to Iran: either respect human rights, or face economic sanctions.  There can be no normal relations with an abnormal regime that executes gay people, unchaste women, Muslims who renounce their faith, and political, religious and ethnic minorities.

Perhaps they’ll bust a gut over the jailing of peaceful protesters demanding rights for women in Iran.

A group of Iranian feminist activists were arrested on Sunday outside a court in Tehran where they were peacefully protesting the detainment of four other activists. Thirty-three protestors were arrested after gathering outside the court to show their solidarity with the four women who were facing trial for their activities protesting Iran’s laws that discriminate against women.

‘Cause, you know, that shit is probably pretty funny to one of the enlightened masses at Americablog.

And, let’s be honest, we can all find it funny when an uppity blogger is beaten for reporting on the violent tactics uses by the government against its citizens.

When a bruised Kianoosh Sanjari climbed from the police van last October, he immediately recognised the familiar drab buildings of Evin Prison section 240, run by the plainclothes branch of the Revolutionary Guards.

His crime? Reporting for his weblog on the violent arrest of a religious group by security forces.

In his first interview since being released, Iran’s most prominent blogger recalls the rough tactics used against him by authorities and the backlash against United States support for democracy activists in the Islamic republic.

Funniest of all these great jokes is the arrest and torment of student activists for daring to suggest that their own country needs to change.

“Finally, they blindfolded us and took us to a hall inside the building. They made me sit on a chair. Somebody came and opened my blindfold and showed me a student statement and asked me if I believed in what was said in that text. I said yes. When he left, another one in a commando uniform came in. He beat me hard.

“They only kept me one day in that building, and then I was transferred to Evin Prison and, later, a police detention center for interrogation. In that detention center, they beat me on the soles of the feet with a cable for four continuous days and I was also subject to psychological torture for a month.

“They told us that were would be executed.

“At one stage, I heard the voices of my parents from another room. They were told that I was going to be executed. Then I heard my mother faint and then my father cried and begged them not to kill me.

“I heard them say to my parents: ‘For this bastard, you should not even read Koran after his death.’ I said to God: ‘I am going to be killed for my country’s freedom and for my religion, now my parents cannot even mourn for me.’”

Hilarious stuff, that.

So, Iran acts to provoke Western powers again and Terry Jones takes the opportunity to take shots at American and British governments. Brilliant.

What is terrifying is to try to imagine what precisely Iran thinks it can gain out of this kind of brinksmanship. But, for some, it’s easier to make glib jokes (like this from a comment on Americablog: “My heart goes out to that poor woman—if wearing that scarf doesn’t give her PTSD* I don’t know what would. *Post Traumatic Scarf Disorder") than to accept that the UK and the US are actually on the right side of this particular issue.

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