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Monday, April 27, 2009

Nuggets v/ Hornets: Tying a Record

The Nuggets didn’t like their performance in the last playoff game in New Orleans, and they proved the point tonight with a big win. A really big win. In fact, it was the biggest win in a playoff game since 1956. The Nuggets beat the Hornets 121-63, a record-tying effort that matched a playoff game more than five decades old.

The Nuggets didn’t see much of their starters in the last period of the game and, aside from a few easy threes, worked more to eat up time than they did to score points through that stretch.

The Nuggets were fabulous tonight, but they were helped along by a Hornets team that grew lethargic as the game went on. You’d be hard pressed to say that the home crowd got their money’s worth in that last period with a New Orleans team that was hardly even trying. Given how scrappy they were early, how aggressive they were through the first half, I’m sure it was a disappointing end of the game for their home fans.

Basketball doesn’t get much uglier, but it was fun for Nuggets fans to see the team claim a 3-1 lead in the series. It’s even better when folks realize that the Nuggets are flirting with progressing to the second round of the playoffs for the first time in over a decade.

But here’s the really funny bit: when I went to my Yahoo page to check the box score with something like five and a half minutes left in the game, they had already listed the score as a final. When I clicked form my page to the box score a few minutes later, they updated the score but still had it listed as a final. Apparently, while the NBA doesn’t have a mercy rule, the Yahoo sports page does.

Ouch.

I wouldn’t count on seeing the Hornets quitting in Denver for game five the same way they did tonight. In fact, I’m guessing they’ll play a vigorous and aggressive game just to reclaim a shred of dignity, because this game absolutely had to hurt.

Congratulations to the Nuggets on a big win where the entire team played brilliantly.

The Second Wind Fund

I got an email from a friend today telling me about the Second Wind Fund, an organization that is working to prevent teen suicide by ensuring that at-risk kids have access to counseling and therapy. It’s a great cause backed up by people who are committed to making a positive change in kids’ lives.

Organizations like this exist because of the generosity of folks like you and me. And while I’m not doing a fundraiser for the folks, if you happen to live in the Denver area, I would like you to know about this small organization that could always use volunteers and donors who believe in their cause. I personally prefer to give--both donations and time--to local charities because I trust them to run leaner and more effectively than the bigger charities (and don’t even get me started on the inefficiency of trusting the government for a handout). If you have that same instinct, check out their Web site to get an idea of who they are.

Thanks to BC (The Anonymous Tipster) for pointing the Second Wind Fund out to me. I might never have heard of them otherwise.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

About Those Broncos and the 2009 Draft

Consider this, unquestionably, a critique. Consider it, too, a series of predictions (of a sort).

Good. Good athlete, good skills, good pick, good guy.

Too expensive. Decent player, potential starter, but not worth trading a first round pick next year to pick up a roll of the dice in the second round this year.

Promising. Potentially a very good player. While there is a lot to pick over this time through, I’m going to give this one some time to grow on me.

I just don’t get it. Why Knowshon Moreno? Last year the Broncos ended up with a surprisingly decent rushing attack considering all of the injuries that they sustained. What was amazing was how productive many of those rushers were when they played--and the kind of injury plague that they had last season isn’t likely to strike again. Aside from that, the Broncos brought in four expensive running backs in the offseason to compete with those guys from last season. So, heading into the draft, the Broncos had JJ Arrington, Correll Buckhalter, Andre Hall, Peyton Hillis, LaMont Jordan, Andrew Pinnock, Ryan Torain, and Selvin Young on the roster. They let PJ Pope and Michael Pittman go in the offseason and Tatum Bell hasn’t been re-signed after stepping in as a last-minute (and damned decent considering the lack of time to prepare for his role) fill-in for all of the injured backs last season.

There is a lot of talent on that list. The Broncos weren’t a team in search of an offense (although a little more scoring and a little less of the red-zone give-aways would have helped); this was a team that was near the bottom in pretty much every defensive category. It wasn’t just bad coaching, either. There was a serious lack of talent on that side of the ball. Every Broncos fan who wasn’t saying a prayer for a trade up to get Sanchez was probably sitting back and hoping that the first few rounds went to shore up that defense. Using a first rounder on a running back--even one who sounds as talented as this--just wasn’t what we were hoping for.

Don’t imagine that I think Moreno will be a bust because I’m guessing he’s going to be a heck of a player. I just think that the team had much bigger needs that could have been addressed with this pick and that their current talent is more talented than McDaniels seems to believe. The comments at the link above are significantly more positive than mine, but I just don’t see it.

As an aside, and speaking of Broncos cast-offs, teams who are looking for quality back-ups might do well to consider picking up Tatum Bell. He played hard and smart last season. Behind a good line with the right scheme, Bell can still be a player in the NFL.

For that matter, Jamie Winborn should be playing somewhere, too. I was surprised when the Broncos let him this off season. He’s a high energy, big effort, smart linebacker who might not have the same physical skills as some of the top names in the league, but who makes a great back-up who showed a talent for big plays and getting himself into good position to make plays. And, not to be unkind, but he was far more productive than a few names on the Broncos current roster. Like Jarvis Moss and Tim Crowder, for instance.

In fact, Winborn had more tackles last year (99 with 74 solo) than both Jarvis Moss and Tim Crowder had in the last two seasons. Combined.

Now, back to the draft…

This is out of order, but what the hell? Of all the moves and all the picks, this one puzzles and worries me the most.

First, the Broncos weren’t really in dire need of a new tight end. Second, they traded their third round picks to move up to the second round to pick this guy--and I think he would still have been on the board in the third if they had waited. In fact, he well have been available in the fourth round and (by his own admission) he was thinking he might have to go the free agency route to find a team. He wasn’t the only one surprised that he was picked so high.

He didn’t have a distinguished career, he doesn’t have a history of being much of a receiving threat, and, yes, he can block but so can every one else on the Broncos squad. One of the great things about Shanahan was how he preached that everyone blocks in the running game and blocks hard. This just wasn’t their biggest need and they gave up their two picks in the third to get him when they didn’t have to. Let me put this as plainly as I can, even if he is a great pick, they didn’t need to give anything away to get their guy--it was a royally bad decision that leaves them as spectators until the fourth round and watching talent slip away that could have helped with their real needs.

The silver lining is that McDaniels seems to have picked some good citizens, some high-effort guys, and all these guys could all be starters.

But he didn’t plug all the defensive holes that most fans and experts hoped to see filled. Is this a sign of arrogance, bad strategy, or some strange genius that the rest of us will catch onto slowly over the course of the next two seasons?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Wrestler: Ten Point Review

  1. As bad as Darren Aronfsky’s The Fountain was--filled with forced emotion, ridiculous sentiment, and half-baked philosophy--The Wrestler is its opposite. A wrenching look at a has-been who can’t pull his life together and who faces his own twilight with something too resigned to be nihilism but too broken to be redemption.
  2. It’s also the visual opposite of The Fountain. Whereas the former was a staggering vision (especially on the big screen), The Wrestler is grit and blood and an overwhelming sense of age. Not just in the cast, but in the run-down civic centers, the old cars and homes, every scene is as weathered as Mickey Rourke’s body. It isn’t pretty, but the extension of that decrepitude in threads throughout the film is just as much of an artistic achievement serving to support the mood and tone.
  3. The exception to this is Marisa Tomei whose, even looking a bit aged, is still rather pretty.
  4. It also proves that blood and violence, properly presented, can still manage to shock. Some of the scenes had me wincing in sympathetic pain.
  5. Good script. Not great but a good frame for Aronfsky’s direction and Mickey Rourke’s best ever role.
  6. You’ve heard it a million times since last year, but Rourke’s acting really is that good. It’s an engrossing and honest performance well worth the Oscar nomination.
  7. Marisa Tomei is wonderful in a much smaller role as an aging stripper.
  8. Darling girl refused to see this in the theater because of Rourke’s face--she finds it both terrifying and distracting. Which is fair: it is both terrifying and distracting. The young man who looked like this simply doesn’t exist anymore.  And while I won’t say that’s a good thing, it does give his performance a sense of gravitas that it wouldn’t have if he were still pretty. You believe he’s this screwed up old guy because he is this screwed up old guy.
  9. Washed up wrestlers aren’t a natural point of sympathy to me: it’s a strange career choice with a piss-poor retirement plan. Tomei, Aronfsky, a strong supporting cast, and, of course, Rourke give us an affecting view on these folks’ lives that is much more than I would have expected when I first heard about the project. But don’t expect any happy endings.
  10. None of which makes me believe that Aronfsky is a good choice to direct a remake of RoboCop. (which, admittedly, seems an entirely unnecessary venture even before Aronfsky’s name gets tossed into that particular pot).

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Hey, but 95% of You Get a Tax Cut. So That’s Nice.

100 million steps forward just in time for 5.7 billion steps back. Which hardly seems to be sending us where we wanted to go.

It feels like a card trick: keep your eyes on the $100 million in spending cuts and you probably won’t notice the billions in new spending that the administration has proposed. It is, in the final calculus, a pantomime of fiscal responsibility designed to convince the voters of his seriousness without actually having to do the hard work of being fiscally responsible. And the minuscule tax cut that we supposedly received is just window dressing on the fact that local taxes and fees are rising around the nation, the size of the national deficit has grown to unthinkable levels, and sooner or later someone is going to have to get around to paying back a lot of that new debt that is piling up in the corner. Buying me an extra Happy Meal with every paycheck won’t much change that equation.

It’s like a continuation of the Bush spending policies with an impressively redoubled effort to drown us all in deficit spending. Obama talked about making tough choices to curtail government spending, but he’s displayed a very different philosophy since he’s been in office.

I wonder how many people out there regret their vote right now?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Thanks for Linking

The Tea Party post (see that previous entry) was linked by a few others. Ben at at Mt. Virtus linked it and has other great pictures and links. Another gentleman that I don’t know linked it I Think Therefore I ^ (Link) along with a story from the LA Times.

Visit them if you get a chance.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

It’s a Beautiful Day for a Tea Party


Instead of a trip to the gym today, my workout buddy and I drove into downtown Denver to check out the Tea Party.

For some pictures and some commentary, check out the extended entry. This is your slow connection warning: lots of images ahead.

Update: Thanks to Jeff for the link. Drop by there since he’s also updating regularly with links to other reports (now with extra nuance). And while we’re at it, wow. Wow. And then a little more of her. Leave Obama alone!

And for people curious about other states and localities, here’s the site for you.

Read the Rest...

Cheese Eating Surrender Monkeys Lead Fight Against Piracy (And Request Official Change of Name Form)

The French are feeling absolutely frisky these days when it comes to dealing with pirates--and I, for one, am glad of their aggressiveness.

A French warship has captured 11 pirates off the coast of Kenya, amid clamour for the international community to deal with the problem of piracy.

The gang was captured by a warship from an EU piracy patrol, French officials said, hours after a failed attack on a US ship.

Other pirates released a Greek ship and its 24 crew held since mid-March.

News of the incidents came as the UN special envoy for Somalia said the attacks threatened international peace.

The latest raid involved pirates firing rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons at a US-flagged cargo ship, the Liberty Sun, which was carrying food aid for Africa.

I’m not going to stop saying “cheese eating surrender monkey,” though. Not because it’s accurate but because it’s fun.

Hooray, France!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Pat Buchanan Really Brings Out the Best in People

Regardless of what you might think of the merits of Patrick J. Buchanan’s article, “The Real Haters,” he certainly does bring out the anti-Semites like no one this side of Ron Paul. If you feel a sudden urge to disagree, you might just want to traipse through the comments on Pat’s little gem. It’s like a deranged little party filled with holocaust deniers and white supremacists. One, in particular, from the commenter “honestbabe” stands out as more odious than the rest in its repetition of outright lies and slander about Jewish ritual sacrifices:

One reason for this is the fact that the practice of ritual murder is fraught with danger for the entire Jewish Community. Most uprisings against the Jews during the past two thousand years have stemmed from the discovery of this practice, and the resulting attempts of the non-Jews to punish the Jews for murdering non-Jewish children.

The principal reason that this crime is so often discovered, is that the naked, pierced body of the child, once it has been drained of blood, must be thrown on a trash heap. The Jewish rite forbids burial of the body, even though this would conceal all evidence of their crime. The Talmud, the Holy Book of the Jews, defines all non-Jews as beasts, and by Jewish law, the burial of beasts is forbidden. Therefore, the Jews try to conceal their crime by throwing the corpse of the murdered child down an abandoned well, where it may not be discovered, or by hiding it in some manner which will not constitute burial.

In many cases, the body is discovered, and then the Jews either are attacked by the non-Jews, or they spend thousands of dollars bribing witnesses and officials, and attempting to frame some gentile as a “sex murderer.” Bribery and intimidation of public officials and newspapermen is always the first step in this campaign. In the United States, since many of these are Jews, no bribery is necessary, as every Jew knows that it is his first duty to conceal the evidence of ritual murder. It is also customary for the Jews to pay off the murdered child’s parents with a large sum of money, which in many cases means that they will not prosecute.

While it’s hardly fair to hold the commenters against the author, that his writing attracts so much positive (and almost gleeful) attention from these bastards isn’t a coincidence. While there might be some good debate about Mr. John Demjanjuk’s fate, the focus of Buchanan’s article, there is just as much something very obvious tucked away to give every good anti-Semite’s soul some cause to smile. In this case, aside from the topic, it’s there at the end of the article:

The spirit behind this un-American persecution has never been that of justice tempered by mercy. It is the same satanic brew of hate and revenge that drove another innocent Man up Calvary that first Good Friday 2,000 years ago.

The right kind of anti-Semite--you know, the Christian, white anti-Semites--know that the Jews are responsible for the crucifixion of Christ. Would Buchanan, a smart man who has always written with great consideration, bumble into that kind of a line completely ignoring or ignorant of the fact that many Christian anti-Semites consider Jews to be the children of the devil and that Jews are little more than manipulative liars and bitter sub-humans who twisted the reality of the holocaust to serve their personal ends? I find that hard to believe and, given the proximity to Easter, quite manipulative in itself.

As I said, Buchanan sure does know how to bring out the true haters.

H/T Philip Klein.

American Idol, April 14, 2009: The Almost Completely Aside Edition

Pre-Idol Aside: The cruelty of people to animals astounds me. Even the title of this story ("Puppy found taped to Boulder fridge") is enough to disgust a person with the barest bit of sympathy for their pets--and it doesn’t take an animal “rights” advocate to be outraged.

Police found a small dog — its feet, snout and tail bound in clear packing tape, a plastic bag and elastic hair ties — adhered to the side of a refrigerator in a Boulder home Tuesday morning, the apparent victim of a domestic dispute between its owner and his girlfriend.

Abby Toll, 20, was arrested on suspicion of felony animal cruelty after telling police she taped up the puppy, a shiba inu named Rex, and stuck him to the fridge because she was angry at her boyfriend for not getting rid of his pet after it had bitten her.

“There’s a dog taped to the fridge,” she told an officer who responded to a report of a domestic incidentin the 2900 block of East Aurora Avenue around 5 a.m.. “I know this looks bad. We were going to get rid of him anyway. We usually don’t do this.”

Some days I find myself wishing I lived on an island far away from, you know, people. It’s easy to be cranky.

Okay, I’m going to try to manage a positive attitude for the Quentin Tarentino edition of American Idol. Which, I have to admit, the guy has great taste in music along with being able to add something shockingly hilarious to the most brutal violence imaginable.

None of which changes the fact that Allison Iraheta’s amateurish version of Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.” I mean, the song normally sucks, but her messy, confused, and, honestly, ridiculously dressed performance made it even worse. Which is why the judges loved it, I suppose.

Smoochy Aside: One thing I do like is drive-by smooching from my baby. Hubba hubba.

And now we’re listening to Anoop singing Bryan Adams (not the more talented Ryan Adams--accept no substitute) “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You,” I suddenly realized that it is, essentially, the same song as the Aerosmith song. And I hate them both.

At least his performance, while annoying, had none of the disappointing messiness of Allison’s little wreck. Which is, of course, why the judges loved it.

I have high hopes for Adam Lambert’s take on “Born to be Wild"--and wonder just how glammed up and homoerotic he can make it. The answer is--well, I don’t know. Most of it was a straight-forward, if faster, version, but then he trotted out the uber-falsetto, the band hit it hard, and the whole thing blew up big. He is without doubt the weirdest contestant of all Idol history.

The judges liked it, with good reason, although Simon is right when he says it was like a Rocky Horror version of the song--and y’all can decide whether that’s a good thing or not. Consider it a matter of taste.

I’m kind of enjoying the speedy judging tonight--and, damnit, it was Paula’s fault that thy went over last week. She talks tons (while saying little) and interrupts others with regularity. Kind of like me on a bad day.

Will Matt Giraud make me less of a hater tonight? Probably not since he’s doing another freakin’ Bryan Adams song, “Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?” Which was just the kind of horribly bland thing you would imagine from Adams the Lesser and it’s not helped by an inept performance. Were Simon commenting on this one, I’m guessing he would have said something like, “If I were being completely honest, I’d have to say that it was indulgent.”

Judges don’t diggit. He’ll be in the bottom three.

Snarky Aside: To be fair to Pete Waterman, no one actually wanted to hear the song. He’s kind of lucky no one demanded payment for the pain that was inflicted. Just sayin’.

Danny Gokey is singing Lionel Richie’s “Endless Love” tonight with a harp accompanist. Which is just weird, especially when he misses (big) an early note during the quite intro. He mostly pulls it together, but I can’t find any room for enthusiasm at all.

Listening to Paula ramble, watching her dead-eyed gaze when Simon damns with faint praise, I find myself wondering if she is actually some super-secret automaton sent by the government to lull the populace into a false sense of musical security while they secretly steal all the good stuff. Because she’s just not right.

Apparently this is bad ballad night with only Adam Lambert abstaining from a place at the melancholy table. Kris Allen sings a lesser known song, “Falling Slowly” from The Swell Season, which should be titled “Falling Painfully, Slowly, and Lethargically into Voting for Someone Else Tonight.”

I slept through whatever it was the judges had to say.

Does anyone really care who wins this year? I don’t feel committed to any of these folks, although I do find Lambert entertaining even when he’s bad.

Maybe Lil Rounds gospel take on “The Rose” can change my mind, although it’s such a cliché that the mere mention of the song is enough to encourage a few snickers and a roll of the eyes in most music geek circles. While I applaud her for trying to give it a gospel edge, the truth remains that Rounds thinks she is a much better singer than she actually is. Messy, poorly sung, and not even in the ballpark of something that I would want to hear or, God forbid, pay for--and I like gospel and old R&B, which is where she supposedly should fit.

Whatever.

This year, American Idol is getting worse week after week. There isn’t a person left who might get me to buy a single, buy a concert ticket, or do anything other than change the station if I heard them on the radio. This final group is horrible and tonight’s show was like something I would have expected from Hollywood week.

If Simon were to truly be honest, I think he would admit to a tremendous disappointment in the folks that the judges picked this season. He can’t have imagined that it wold become such a talent-free zone as this.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Late Night Music for a Troubled Mind

Here is the lovely Kiri Te Kanawa singing Strauss’ “Befriet” and celebrating her fiftieth birthday. Enjoy.


And, in case you don’t like the embed, the link to YouTube is right here.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

That Would Be Perdicaris Alive, Then…

Wonderful news of Richard Phillips’ rescue solves the equation in that last post--and let’s raise a glass to the SEAL team that went in to secure that rescue.

I do, however think that we still need to work a bit on the “Raisuli dead” side of things. This one incident, where America was provoked directly, won’t end with the pirates realizing that the calculus of piracy has changed much. Unless that cost is one levied for the very act of piracy, for the continued actions against humanity, then they’ll probably just be a bit more careful about whose ships they bother.

In those waters, piracy remains a lucrative and sane business decision where you are far more likely to realize significant monetary gain when you take a ship or its crew. What you aren’t likely to realize is a loss of life, limb, or freedom. Three dead pirates is just (barely) a good start in changing the cost of business to the point where other options seem a far better bet.

Update: And I’d like to second President Obama in praising the heroism and resolve of Captain Phillips. Remarkable man--and his actions are well worth celebrating and holding up as shining examples of what we should all aspire to: selflessness and bravery under the most trying circumstances.

Steve Green has some comments, too. And Michelle Malkin’s take is quite similar. I’d like to know more about the situation, but as of right now I’m holding some of the same thoughts--for those of you who haven’t clicked through, Steve’s summary is particularly apt:

The missing context is this — the might and will of the United States were held hostage, until one brave civilian captain took matters into his own hands. Philips risked his life escaping, and opened the door for the Navy SEALs — who ought to be in the business of kicking doors down.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Perdicaris Alive or Raisuli Dead

In May of 1904, a sometime American citizen by the name of Ion Perdicaris was kidnapped by one Mulai Ahmed er Raisuli while living in Tangier.  Since a US citizen was believed to be in danger, President Theodore Roosevelt sent a fleet of seven ships and a small marine* detachment to demand that the Moroccan government obtain his release.  (This Wikipedia article had a decent description of the facts at 11:30 am today.) At the Republican convention in 1904, the Secretary of State famously said, “This government wants Perdicaris alive or Raisuli dead.”

Today, we have a civilian from a US-flagged ship being held hostage by Somali pirates.  With any luck, the situation will be resolved without the loss of innocent lives, but since this situation might recur or deteriorate, I think it would be well to consider a longer-term policy.  I submit that Roosevelt’s solution is the correct one.

The Wikipedia article previously mentioned goes on at some length (in rather sniffy tones) about how the US was just pressuring the Moroccans to accede to the kidnapper’s demands.  What that article fails to consider, however, is the value of forcibly changing the ownership of this sort of problem—what I’ll call “Big Jake diplomacy"**.

In 1904, the US didn’t particularly care about Moroccan politics or the justice of the claims of a “rebel”.  The US cared about the safety of its citizens and about future credibility in the eyes of the world.  To that end, one of three results was acceptable: Perdicaris released, Raisuli killed, or Morocco punished (in pretty much that order of preference).  The policy was simple: the safety of people in Morocco was the responsibility of Morocco, and if Morocco did not see to the safety of US citizens, it would pay.  How the safety was secured was the responsibility of Morocco.

The same calculus should apply in “Somalia”.  The Somalis would like the world to consider the lands they claim and the waters off their coast as their territory.  If that’s the case, anything that goes wrong there, anything at all, is their responsibility.  They can stop the pirates (possibly with the assistance of other nations), abjure responsibility for the territory entirely (and thus allow others to police it), or be punished.  There should be no fourth option.

Read the Rest...

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

American Idol, April 8, 2009: The I I’m Missing the Nuggets for This? Edition

I say never underestimate the tremendous drama created by a handful of mostly mediocre vocal talents. If you do, you might find that they come along and sing your face right off.

So be careful out there, folks. Keep your head on a swivel. Metaphorically speaking.

Randy starts off the show by saying how disappointed he was in yesterday’s show. Which, yeah, dawg. Kara starts by making excuses for the fact that they chose a handful of mostly mediocre vocal talents to do their best to kill off the franchise. Or something of that nature.

Then, as a cautionary tale, they have an aging Frankie Avalon come out and sing “Venus"--which is a lovely song, but Frankie’s voice ain’t what it used to be. Here, mediocre vocal talents, is a man who had a voice and style that most of you can’t tough, and even his gifts are fading. What chance do you guys have of having a career that last any longer than the lifespan of the average pet rock? The answer, of course, is not much. Pop stars ain’t what they used to be, either, and you better be careful how you spend that money.

Umm, what were we talking about?

Oh, that’s right, we were talking about the disastrous cover of Kylie Minogue’s “Can’t Get You Out of My Head"--it started out reasonably well, but it fell apart in an impressive fashion. For a bunch of singers they sure didn’t sing that very well. You can see the original in the extended entry if you wanted to do a compare and contrast of your very own. It could save you from contemplating the lengthy up close and personal segment preceding the Ford informercial portion of the evening. Which, to be fair, was miles better than the live song and dance portion of the evening.

And was that a Ford Fusion they were spotlighting (after the new Mustang GT)? Nice looking car, although I have to admit to having a little bit of lust growing in my heart for the boxy (and semi-biggish) Flex.

All of which is still better than the mush of Flo Rida’s “Right Round,” a song about the glories of oral sex ("you spin my head right round, right round, when you go down...” (no that there’s anything wrong with that)) that manages to mangle Dead or Alive’s “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)” in new and unique ways that I hope I’ll never have to hear again. Calling it a remix isn’t right; it’s more inspired by, instead of an imitation of, the original. The redeeming moment of the song comes when it’s over and he is seen towering over Ryan Seacrest who looks like a tiny little wisp of a man by comparison.

Safe: Adam, which, you already knew that. Kris Allan, which might be more of a surprise. Danny, who will likely be in the final with Adam. Matt G, who is tremendously lucky.

Risky: Anoop, who is sinking fast. Scott, who earned his way to the bottom. Lil, who has been flitting about the bottom of the list for a while, I’m pretty sure.

Simon says there are two--and one in particular--who would be considered for the judge’s save. My guess would be that the list wouldn’t include Anoop (who has already had his second chance) and that Lil is the one they would be most likely to save. Honestly, I don’t understand that: Lil is a marginal talent who can really big at times. While she has moments where she sounds great, she’s also inconsistent and, at times, plain bad.

I wouldn’t save any of them.

Speaking of marginal talents, there goes Kellie Pickler!

So, Lil goes back to the safe zone, which is a little surprising to me since I thought the bottom two would be Anoop and Lil. Which just goes to show what I know.

Scott, with the lowest number of votes for the evening, sings in hopes of convincing the judges to keep him in the show--and Paula looks ready to cry while Kara seems to be pleading the case to Simon. My guess is that Simon will be playing the part of Scrooge for the evening since Scott really isn’t that good. He’s nice, he has a pleasant tone to his voice, and he still probably has a career in Christian pop--but he really isn’t that good. He does not have a great voice, although he does have a great personality, he is a very talented pianist, and I think he could coach some of the other singers into making better song choices and working better arrangements.

And Simon does, indeed, play the part of Scrooge this week. No save for Scott, which might not make the crowds happy but which is the right choice.

Read the Rest...

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

American Idol, April 7, 2009: The I Miss the Cute Singers Edition

American Idol is seriously short on eye candy at this point of the season--and I find that disturbing. Bad planning on someone’s part.

Danny Gokey was born in 1980. I used to be that young. Darnit. None of which changes the fact that singing Mickey Gilley’s version of “Stand by Me” seems both really a strange choice and a copout on from-the-year-you-were-born week. I mean, he couldn’t find a real 1980 song that was good and fit his vocal style? Whatever his reasoning, it was a bland as tofu way to start the night for the guy who is my current favorite.

Randy didn’t like the arrangement but loved the vocals. Which, yeah, he can sing, but still…

Kara is having an onscreen BIG O, if you know what I’m saying. And I think you do. Paula loves him with the love of a hundred drug and alcohol addicted b-listers. Simon thought it was great although I didn’t really follow his arithmetic.

“Sailing” by Christopher Cross might have worked for him because it would have given him a chance to change up an original in a unique way. “Cheap Sunglasses” by ZZ Top might have been interesting. AC/DC did “Shook Me All Night Long” that year. That would have been fun. And what about Queen’s “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”, which is freakin’ awesome? Hell, he could have done the theme song from Dukes of Hazzard if he was feeling hard up for something cool and I would have been happier.

Kris Allen has a cute picture and, apparently, wanted to be a cab driver when he was young. I wanted to be a bus driver at one point, which was fairly shocking to my parents. Don Henley’s “All She Wants to do is Dance” (1985) is jazzed up a bit to mixed results. It loses the catchiness, but it doesn’t sound like a cheesy remake, either, which is nice. Interesting, I suppose, but not my style by any stretch of the imagination.

Cool 1985 Songs Aside: Just from the top 100 pop songs of 1985, you could find some brilliant pop songs (although, admittedly, not all suited to the young gentleman).  “Don’t You Forget About Me” - Simple Minds. “Relax” - Frankie Goes to Hollywood. “Money for Nothing” - Dire Straits. “Take on Me” - a-ha. “And We Danced” - Hooters. “How Soon is Now” - The Smiths. Yeah, that was a good year.

Kara takes a golf club and hits him upside the head. Seriously, I think he’s bleeding. Paula pets him politely to ease the pain. Simon breaks off the head of the club and stabs at the poor kid wildly and knocks the song choice. Randy agrees. So there.

The mystery of Lil Rounds is solved. And I’m not listening. Even a little bit.

I like her doing Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got to Do With It"--at least in theory. It’s so same-same, though, that I’d really rather just pop in an 80’s mix and turn up the volume. ‘Cause, let’s be honest, Tina has a monumentally better voice than Lil.

Paula uses her own golf club in cruel and unusual ways. She’s still blah blah blah in her critique, though, and can’t keep from talking talking talking talking. Shu’up. Simon summarizes and seconds my same-same complaint. Randy hates her, too. Kara gives her a no, too.

Early contender for going home this week? Indeed. Indeedaroony.

Anoop loves the Tar Heels. Which, given that I won a bit of money, me too. Then he apologizes to Kara in a roundabout way for being all defiant last week. Which I didn’t notice and doubt that I would imagine he should apologize for either way.  The cloyingly sweet “True Colors” isn’t as irritating in Anoop’s hands, although that is mostly due to the fact that his voice doesn’t have that same, grating quality that comes with listening to Cindy Lauper.

But I still hate the song and it would have been nice if he had bothered to do something with a little testosterone.

Randy liked the vocal a lot. Kara praises him for controlling the song. Although not in a particularly manly way. Paula says that he showed his true colors. Like a rainbow. Simon liked it, too, although he didn’t think it was fantastic and says that he shouldn’t have apologized. Amen, Simon.

Scott Macintyre. I’m tired of being mean to this guy, so I’m just going to keep my freakin’ mouth shut.

Kara was politely cruel. Paula takes no responsibility for forcing him from behind the piano although he looked a little unmoored tonight. And then she says nice things for no discernible reason whatsoever. Simon breaks out the cruelty. Randy agrees.

The fact that Allison Iraheta didn’t choose a Screaming Trees song bugs me--for once it would have been nice to hear someone do “Nearly Lost You” from their album, Sweet Oblivion. Instead we get another version of Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” which she sings well but which I am terribly tired of. Honestly, it was probably a really good song choice.

Paula loved it. Simon, too, although he wants her to be more likable (by which I think he means more charismatic). Randy thinks she can sing her face off--which sounds wrong on some level. Kara gives up the love, too.

Okay, with Matt Giraud’s cover of “Part Time Lover,” I am officially over this show filled with horrifyingly painful versions of songs I hated the first time around. Really, he sounded like hell.

Which is why Randy called it one of the best of the night, Kara agreed, Paula loved, and Simon called much better than last week.

Good God, what drugs are they on?

Adam Lambert goes for a song truly popularized years after its initial release. Tears for Fears “Mad World” is a gorgeous song that was remade by Gary Jules for the wonderful movie, Donnie Darko a few years back. Lambert, with the exception of a close that tipped right over the top, does the job really well. It’s about a perfect song choice for the guy who will have to work pretty hard to lose this contest. Unless all the little girls realize that he kisses boys and they have absolutely no chance of winning his love by voting anonymously for him and screaming his name out when they see him on the streets.

Just sayin’.

Simon loved it in a big way and no one else gets to talk. It was a mostly bad night filled with mostly bad music with just a few moments struggling to redeem all the rest.

Update: Here’s video of Gary Jules’ version of “Mad World.”

Monday, April 06, 2009

Holy Damn, House.

Ouch. Didn’t see that coming. Not sure I understand yet.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Dress Your Dog for the Apocalypse

Or, at least, dress your dog for the next GWAR concert.

Shawn Macomber sent a link this morning that just cracks me up. I’d describe it, but like the bacon bra below (how’s that for a taste of alliteration?) it really should be seen to be fully comprehended.

So, here’s my salute to the well-armored dog! Thanks, Shawn, I’m going to have our aging puppy fitted for a suite of chainmail. That’ll sort of even things up when she meets up with some of the bigger, bully dogs in the neighborhood.

Normally she has to make due with the cheesy holiday costumes that darling girl makes her wear (which, I submit, embarrass her tremendously--see the evidence below).


Wednesday, April 01, 2009

American Idol, April 1, 2009: The Isn’t That a Funny Day to Get Cut Edition

Lady who?

American Idol starts the evening by desecrating Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing"--the song that might be the high point of Western culture (unless, of course, it’s this blog)--and it is, indeed, painful. Ow. And why isn’t Randy playing bass? On a positive note, it’s nice to see them not lip-synching this week.

Anyway, David Cook is dropping by to sing his song, “Come Back to Me”, and to flaunt his rising fame while mocking the loser of the night. He’s mean that way. Luckily for the bemocked, the song is a little on the bland side (though his voice is still quite lovely) and the mocking probably won’t hurt too much.

Acting Like an Old Guy Aside: I really like that David Cook feller. He seems like such a nice young man.

Now, who is feeling feelings of insecurity?

Safe: Kris. Which, okey dokey. Matt G. Although Seacrest played him hard, yo. Lil Rounds. She certainly didn’t deserve to be in the bottom three, so that’s good. Adam Lambert. Yeah. Danny. Because everyone loves Danny. Scott. Again, that’s fair enough.

Not Safe: Megan, proving that I am at least 33% psychic. Or that her badness was tremendously obvious. Allison, who probably shouldn’t have worn that dress. Just sayin. Anoop. Yep.

I certainly don’t think Allison deserves to go home, but either Anoop or Megan could leave and it would seem pretty reasonable.

For the record, I’ll be surprised if it isn’t Megan going home. Her beauty will not be enough to save her this time.

Again, I say, Lady who?

I think I’d like to see a duet with Lady Gaga and Adam Lambert doing “Bohemian Rhapsody.” I don’t know if it would be good, but I guaranty the arrangement would be interesting.

Anyway, the person taking the highway to the safety zone is Allison--and all is right again in the world. Megan takes a brutal stab from Simon who doesn’t even offer the phantom opportunity of a save for her tonight. “You said that you don’t care and neither do we.” Simon doesn’t like it when people don’t show the proper respect, does he?

That Ain’t Kosher: The Strange Pigstravaganza Edition

Bacon n’ boobies. Which, depending on the religious preferences of your co-workers, may not be safe for work. And it certainly isn’t safe for consumption.

Thank you, Jerry, for that incredible dose of wrong for the day.

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