Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Requiem for Bai Ling

Watching But Can They Sing? these past few weeks, I've been transfixed by Bai Ling. I started watching the show because I'm a Growing Up Gotti fan, but I found myself tuning in mostly to see what Bai Ling would do next. This week, I was shocked to see Bai, who I thought was the show's breakout star, get voted off! My money was on Morgan Fairchild getting the boot. I figured she was too old for most viewers, plus she had shown little growth in her talk-singing method and diva-like tendencies while fighting with Bai during rehearsals for the group number. How could audiences not vote for Bai, who was consistently pushing the envelope with her costumes and song choices? Last week, wearing a mohawk and not much else, she rocked her way through "I Wanna Be Sedated" like a cross between Wendy O. Williams and Laurie Anderson. She concluded her performance by humping the stool like a chihuahua in heat. How could America be unimpressed? Well, Bai, I guess you can't sing, but you sure can entertain. Have your agent call Surreal Life - I bet there's a room in Glen Campbell's house for you.

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Sunday, November 20, 2005

Barry Manilow Appreciation Night

Coolia and Nerdia held a "Barry Manilow Appreciation Night" yesterday, and they forced me to wear this hideous sweater because, as Nerdia said, "Barry likes sweaters." I didn't mind too much, because some new people came to the house and I got to lick them. They made theme food for the occasion, such as "Weekend in New England" clam chowder, "It's a Miracle" Whip Apple Slaw, and "Looks Like We Made It" cheese ball. I can't vouch for the quality of these recipes, but I did enjoy sampling the KFC, which was on the menu because Barry wrote a jingle for it many moons ago. Everyone sat around the TV mesmerized during the evening's main event - a rare screening of Barry's 1985 TV movie, Copacabana. Despite my attempts, I could not get people to pay attention to me, as they stared at the screen with mouths agape, wondering how a movie could have no redeeming qualities. They laughed a lot when Barry's character Tony talked about fighting at Iwo Jima. Afterwards, some referred to the movie as "a dog!" I took personal offense at this comment. I was glad when the party was over, and I could take the sweater off. What do you think - does it make me look as thin as Barry?

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Thursday, November 17, 2005

Harry Potter: My Three Sickles

Click here for a Harry Potter currency coverter.

Notice there’s a new Potter movie out and he’s not yet on everyone’s lips? What gives? This was a big year in Potterworld: we got a new book, installment number 6 - Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and a new movie on its heels, number 4 - Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. That means the movies are two tales behind - you math-addled

As for the newest book, at least it was liftable this time. Much ado was made about the high-profile death scene, although honestly it was too predictable with all the sudden brain-dumping occurring between the soon-not-to-be character and Harry Potter. In number 6 we see more into the past of Voldemort, but less into the soul of
Snape. I had sort of gotten a bit attached to Snape, myself, during book number 5. We were asked to sympathize with him so much. Now we’re asked once again to suspect his motives. Book 6 seems to be attempting to sway us into thinking Snape’s a bad fellow once and for all. But then that is one of the major themes of the series: appearances will be deceiving. You can’t judge a half-blood prince with half the facts. Oh, and stick with your friends. You’ll need them. However, these days Harry’s friends seem to be doubting him all the time. He continues to need them anyway because he can’t rely entirely on his instincts or his smarts. He’s judgmental and no star student like Hermione.

My biggest concern with Half-Blood Prince is this: for the first time Rowling seems to be writing for an eventual movie. For instance, many of her scenes begin with a subtle hint of stage direction. That fact that she’s no doubt seen
her own movies and been emboldened by their hype may have tainted a story that’s only partially done. If she could have finished the series before the movies and her great popularity, would we have a more unified, pristine yarn?

Last Friday, I was fortunate to see an advanced screening of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Director Mike Newell took over the directing reins for this installment and his is the best one yet, in my humble opinion. The first movie, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, tried too hard to keep up with its book. Somehow that translated into dull and plodding. The second movie, …Chamber of Secrets, was good enough, mostly due to a spot-on performance of Professor Gilderoy Lockhart by Kenneth Branagh. In fairness, I didn’t see much of movie three, …Prisoner of Azkaban; that book was my least favorite. Sirius Black and the old red-herring switcheroony…yawn. Movie 4 has something I haven’t seen nearly enough of in the others: smarter humor. And the kids are getting better at pulling it off. The movie is long but evenly entertaining. My only critique: not enough Snape. Oh, and I painfully miss Richard Harris, truly a superior Dumbledore…for his eye’s very special, mischievous twinkle. RIP.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

From Sitcom Dad to Big Daddy

I caught a preview performance of Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at the Geffen Playhouse. Running from Nov. 16 - Dec 18, this play is the debut performance for the newly remodeled Geffen. While I can't compare it to the old theater since I never visited, I can say the new theater is quite plush with comfortable seats and plenty of leg room. The stage is large, but the theater feels intimate, and I don't think there's a bad seat in the house. I had not seen this play or the movie version before. While a tad overly long and talky, it's a good show and the actors handle the material capably. Brenda Fricker doesn't have much to do as Big Mama, but John Goodman fills the suit of Big Daddy quite well. I find it hard to get the image of him as Roseanne's hubby out of my head, so I didn't think he mustered quite enough menace to really do the role justice. He got the blustering and the accent right, but his sitcom presence didn't quite translate to the stage. I don't think this is really John's fault - he's a great actor. It's just the curse of being in people's living rooms everyday for perpetuity thanks to reruns. Jeremy Davidson did a good job as the closeted Brick and Jennifer Mudge was suitably smoldering and smothering as his wife Maggie. I tend to prefer realism, and although Tennessee gets the dysfunctional family thing down perfectly, he also makes his characters speak in metaphors and that takes me out of the moment. I mean, when was the last time someone told you, "I feel all the time like a cat on a hot tin roof." It's excellent writing, just not really my cup of sweetened ice tea.

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Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Tyra Banks - Queen-Size for a Day

On her abysmal talk show on Monday, Tyra Banks donned a fat suit that made her appear to be 350 pounds so that she could experience what she called "the last acceptable form of open discrimination." She actually broke down in tears and said the day was one of the most painful of her life because people laughed at her, store clerks sneered at her, and several blind dates were rude to her. Other painful Tyra Banks days include "The Day I Broke a Nail" and "The Day The Tyra Banks Show Craft Services People Forgot to Bring Vitamin Water". When I saw Tyra wedged on a sofa between two real-life 400-lb-plus gals, I found myself wishing these big gals would stop nodding their heads sympathetically at every sanctimonious Tyra pronouncement and eat her. I guess they felt there wasn't enough meat on her bones. The show was ludicrous on many levels. First off, people were probably laughing not because she was large but because the fat suit made her look like her clothes had been stuffed with pillows and she had Busty-Heart-size breasts. The blind dates were misled as to who they would be dating, and even then only one of them was rude - and I doubt he would have been rude if Fat-Trya hadn't asked aggressive questions like "Did you ever date a big girl?" and "Would you date me even though I'm big?" And when confronted, he was honest and said no - you have to give the guy some credit for being honest! Speaking of being honest, I'll admit that I fast-forwarded through most of her monologues, but I never heard Tyra take any responsibility for her role in our society's obsession with thinness. It's not like she's just watching from the sidelines - she's a supermodel who hosts America's Next Top Model, a show in which women are lambasted for having two servings of cottage cheese. I'd find her epiphany a lot more convincing if it lasted for more than a day and she decided to influence standards of beauty from within the modeling industry. On the other hand, if she wants to do a follow-up show and put Janice Dickinson in a fat suit and have her behave boorishly at a Las Vegas buffet, I'll certainly tune in.

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Monday, November 07, 2005

But Can They Sing? - 11/06/05

In case I didn't make myself clear last week, the answer is still, "No!" This episode was merciful because 3 contestants were sent home before they could sing - Myrka Dellanos (she didn't sing well and she's even more obscure than the other "stars"), Kim Alexis (she sang the worst, in my opinion, and her looks aren't holding up that well), and Joe Pantoliano (not the worst by a long shot - most likely a victim of age discrimination and a too-small crossover audience of Sopranos viewers). An interesting phenonmenon happened on this show - the boys decided to exploit themselves as sex objects to get votes. I believe this means the women's rights movement has finally come into its own, and Hillary can get elected president!! First, Michael Copon, dressed in a tight leather ensemble that recalled Elvis' Comeback Special, bared his chest toward the end of his number. Next, mumble-voiced Antonio Sabato, Jr. immediately removed his hoodie and sang his entire song shirtless. I guess this was so we could see how he was using his diaphragm. The final member of the beefcake triumvirate was Carmine Gotti Agnello who first told the host that his gameplan was to take off shirt until he decided not to do it because Michael and Antonio had done it first. But then, instead of taking the high road, Carmine ripped his shirt off and threw it into the crowd (not that I'm complaining, or anything). Morgan Fairchild talked her way through "I Will Survive" - next week, she may have to strip down to her Old Navy underwear in order to survive. The likeable Larry Holmes struggled with "Let's Get It On", looking like a poor suitor waiting for Cyrano to feed him the lyrics. Somehow Bai Ling survived the axe and came out with a freaky version of "Call Me" - she's the Asian Bjork. I hope she sticks around until the end because her wackiness and the boys' washboard abs are enough to keep me tuning in, as long as the "mute" button on my remote is working.

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Thursday, November 03, 2005

But Can They Sing? - 10/30/05

In a word, "No." I was really looking forward to But Can They Sing?, VH1's Dancing with the Stars rip-off. Not only would I get to see Joey Pants and Antonio Sabato, Jr. sing - but also one of my favorite reality stars, Carmine Gotti Agnello! Knowing that Carmine can't enunciate and has to have his dialogue subtitled even though he's allegedly speaking English, I couldn't imagine how he'd be able to sing (of course, some would argue that unintelligible lyrics are the cornerstone of rock music). Carmine was given the challenge of rapping along to "Ride Wit' Me" by Nelly. Anyone who saw this performance will have gained new-found respect for Nelly. However, Carmine got points for having the attitude of a pop star, and the screaming girls in the crowd ate up the performance. Larry Holmes was a bright spot, showing some flair for performance even if he couldnt' sing too well. Kim Alexis and Bai Ling were probably the worst, although Bai Ling's writhing on the floor to "Like a Virgin" might garner a few votes from Maxim readers. Joey Pants did a mediocre Frank Sinatra impression and Morgan Fairchild did a passable Nancy Sinatra. The whole spectacle made me think of a famous Nancy and Frank Sinatra collaboration: "Something Stupid".

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Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Edgar's Halloween Adventures

Having little or no concern for my dignity, Coolia and Nerdia decided to turn me into Falkor the Luckdragon from The Neverending Story for Halloween. At first I was not enthused about wearing clouds and a Bratz Boy on my back, but I received a number of compliments that helped me to feel better about my plight. Several trips to Michael's craft store were required as Coolia and Nerdia demonstrated they were not Edith Head when it came to costume design. I shed clouds all over Barrington Dog Park at Sunday's Bow Wow Ween and all over Santa Monica Blvd. at the West Hollywood Halloween Parade. At the Bow Wow Ween, they registered me in the "Best Dog/Owner Duo" and "Funniest" categories for the celebrity-judged costume contest. I strutted down the runway and received mostly 8s and 9s and one perfect 10 from Charlie "The Bachelor" O'Connell. In the "Funniest" round, judge Tori Spelling started a backlash against me, saying I had already appeared in the other round. This was true, but multiple entries were allowed, as a Bow Wow Ween official explained to her. This clarification came too late, as most of the judges didn't bother evaluating me. However, Charlie came through and gave me a 10 again. He's dreamy! Nerdia was upset with Tori, but Coolia reminded her that Tori was going through a divorce and had moved back home and that moving home is always difficult, even if one's parental home has 100 rooms including a room that is just for wrapping gifts. I had a blast at the West Hollywood parade and attracted loads of admirers. Many of them thought I was an angel. "I'm a dragon, dammit", I asserted, "I'm a luckdragon!" Eventually, I learned to stop protesting, behave like an angel and accept the coos and petting. So what do you think I should be for next Halloween?

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