Tuesday, April 24, 2007

War on Terror - the Boardgame - the Tournament!

Come on over to Meltdown for War on Terror The Boardgame, the Tournament!! It's Saturday and Sunday, April 28 & 29, any time from 11am to 5pm, either or both days!

Regardless of where you fall politically, War on Terror the Boardgame is the game you've been waiting for...now you can bomb other villiages, towns, cities, countries, and empires into complete submission in an act of ironic detatchment or bloodlusting craze. If you like RISK and Monopoly, this is a game that combines the best of each, then adds WMDs, Suicide Bombers, Dirty Bombs, Nuclear Weapons and a ski mask with the word "Evil" stitched across the forehead. One spin of the Axis of Evil, and you know you're in for quality entertainment. Fund and fight terrorism (often simultaneously), use Weapons Inspectors, Nuclear Bunkers, and clean up radioactive areas, all in one turn. Stop second guessing your leaders and finally answer that question: "If I were trying to fight a war on the most dangerous abstract noun known to man, how would I do it?"

It's all happening this weekend at Meltdown at 7522 Sunset Blvd in Hollywood. I'll be there all day Saturday, getting my war on.

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American Idol - Belting for Charity

Chris Richardson - "Change the World"

Coolia: This was a good song choice for Chris. It didn't require him to stretch at all, but he delivered a smooth, pleasant vocal. He also managed to put a bit of an R&B spin on it.
I only liked the chorus parts. It sounded shakey and akward in the beginning. I really didn't get the judges praise on this one. It was OK at best. (but he's still really cute)
Nerdia: Good boy band rendition. He sang good.

Melinda Doolittle - "There Will Come a Day"

Coolia: Melinda looked pretty - nice dress. As usual, she delivered a powerful vocal without flaws as far as I could tell. She gave the song a true gospel vibe. I still can't get excited over her though.
Yes...she was really good. I'm bored.
Nerdia: Well, I actually liked it. She might be best suited for gospel. Liked the song a lot. My bf said 'another Jerry Lewis Telathon performance from Melinda.'

Blake Lewis - "Imagine"

Coolia: Blake has some cojones to take on this signature John Lennon tune. I thought this was a really heartfelt performance. His jacket, however, looked like it may have come from a garage sale at Simon Le Bon's place.
Deb: A
gain, didn't like the beginning, it seemed flat. It was OK vocally (is this risidual) but I'm still bored. He was still and dull.
Nerdia: He always Morrissey's everything. Ordinary. Flat. Simon, how can you sing this song insincerely? It's got sincerity built in.

Lakisha Jones - "I Believe"

Coolia: I'm so frustrated with Lakisha. I can't imagine why she would choose to do Fantasia's Idol-winning single. It came across to me like she was trying to prove she was better than Fantasia, and she didn't prove it. She delivered a strong performance, and I liked her black dress, but there was no getting past that horrific song choice.
Wow, ambitious choice. It was slow to start...even some dead spots. She has great vocals, but she lacks the "life" and emotion Fantasia brought to the song. I think it was a mistake for a song choice (as there are bound to be comparisons) but overall she still sounded strong.
Nerdia: I miss Fantasia; I really do.

Phil Stacey - "The Change"

Coolia: Phil delivered another strong vocal, but I caught myself yawning.
I so liked the beginning I paused it and moved to sit closer. I listened..and REALLY liked. I replayed it 2 more times. I think (know) this was by FAR his best in this whole competition. His voice was really good and he showed emotion. Sure he doesn't rock the "bald" as well as some men, but he still sounded great. I WILL vote. He deserves to stay another week.
Nerdia: I expected this guy to be voted off MONTHS ago.

Jordin Sparks - "You'll Never Walk Alone"

Coolia: Jordin picked a really difficult song and did it proud. She looked great and belted like an Idol. I thought it was a little shrill in spots, but overall, still great.
I KNEW I would love this so I sat close and listened (through others' performances I'll be in the kitchen doing something or moving around). She moved me. I loved loved loved it. She looked stunning and sounded amazing and seemed to put everything into it, including her emotions. These are the kinds of performances I really look forward to on this show. I will vote vote vote vote and vote some more for her.
Nerdia: Still Disnified and really, this was a Jerry Lewis Telathon standard...but she did great. I think she's really started to shine.


Coolia: Lakisha goes home, with Phil and Chris in the bottom 3.
Deb: I think Blake, Chris, and Lakisha deserve to be the bottom 3.
Nerdia: Blake, Lakisha, Chris

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

American Idol - Nasally Night


Phil Stacey - "Where the Blacktop Ends"

Coolia: Here was Phil's chance to wear a cowboy hat, and he passed it up. I didn't think he showed much energy, but it was a good song for his voice and he delivered a solid vocal. Still, I was surprised by the praise he raked in.
He sounded good, but seemed really stiff. He lacks "life" (poor guy). I liked his audience interaction, that helped. Vocally, a good performance, overall package deal...was missing parts.
Nerdia: Moderately better than usual but I always want to turn the channel or start reading when he's on TV.

Jordin Sparks - "A Broken Wing"

Coolia: Bold Jordan sings one of Martina's song. I predicted she would be the best of the night, and I think she was. She delivered a solid vocal and conveyed the meaning of the song. Big praise from Simon who says he can finally picture her winning. Unfortunately, she appeared to be draped in a shower curtain.
WOW!!!! Just wow. I almost cried. She made it seem effortless. She looked amazing and sounded incredible. I can't say enough about her after tonight's performance. Took my breath away. I would buy a CD she made right now.
Nerdia: I think this was Jordan's best night. I really felt the passion in her voice and the joy that she was really nailing it at the end.

Sanjaya Malakar - "Let's Give Them Something to Talk About"

Coolia: Kudos to Sanjaya for picking a humorously appropriate song with a title that really suited him. But the praise stops there. It was a dreadful vocal. He was as flat as pre-implant Kellie Pickler.
I don't even like to hear him talk much less sing. He looked like a little boy who got into his big brother's closet. He was boring and sounded bad.
Nerdia: I believe Sanjaya jumped the shark this week. That was just baaad. His worst and he looked so confident during the whole wretched thing which ruined it for me. I think I might have to get off the Sanjaya train here and not just because I got scolded for liking him by Simon. America can do what we want, Simon. Piss off! Sanjaya sings like he's a little....errr....slow.

Lakisha Jones - "Jesus Take the Wheel"

Coolia: I actually thought she did a good job on this song and gave it more oomph than Carrie could. I could feel emotion in her performance. She was also the only contestant to try to dress a little country while still putting forth her own style (gold boots!). But the judges ripped her a new one, and I think she may go home.
Ouch. She wasn't even close to being as good with that song as Carrie Underwood was. Eeks, I was uncomfortable listening. It seemed forced and just sounded weird to me. Bad song choice. Her
dress was pretty (I guess I should have started with that huh?).
Nerdia: I don't think it was a bad song choice at all; but I do think she shouted through it as the judges said. This competition was hers to lose. And she lost it for herself. Not just with this performance either. I mean I'm not Carrie Underwood fan but her version was better.

Chris Richardson - "Mayberry"

Coolia: I thought this was a fun song, and I think Chris has a good voice for country and did a nice job with his vocal inflections. It was a little boring. He loses points for his inane sassing back to Simon: "Nasally is a form of singing." Expect this on future SAT tests - Nasally: Singing as Ponyhawk: Hairstyle.
I don't know the song. Makes this one more interesting, can he make me like it? I'm not sure how I feel. He's so cute (uh oh). Nope, didn't like it. He sounds exactly the same on all his songs, no matter what the genre. Bad song choice and seemed like a vocal struggle for him.
Nerdia: I thought this song was a mess...all over the place. Then Chris got pissy with Simon (his tone more than his words, which were ridiculous). And THEN in the middle of the arguement he threw that shout out to Virginia Tech victims! That left a really bad taste in my mouth. It was like he used that to bail out of the pissing match he started. My boyfriend and I looked at each other like WTF?

Melinda Doolittle - "Trouble is a Woman"

Coolia: The usual spirited delivery from Melinda, and I liked the song choice. She seemed to be having fun up there. Kudos to Simon for calling her on her fake surprise face.
Goodness...is she still "shy"? Okay I think I've figured out my fascination with Melinda....I think her body is actually too small for her head and her breasts...that's all I saw when she was singing. Sounded really good (of course). Sorry to all the fans, I really am totally over her. I was gonna make an age-related comment, but I don't think I'd really be into her if she were younger either. Loved Simon's comments about her giving up her "surprise" when he gives his positive feedback....perfect.
Nerdia: Thank you Simon for calling out Gomer Pyle! I actually thought Melinda looked younger this week with the hair extensions. She still has an old brow. She stood out in the crowd tonight for not sucking, though.

Blake Lewis - "When the Stars Go Blue"

Coolia: Blake just has a really warm voice, in my opinion. I could listen to him sing the phonebook. Nice job hitting the high notes, too.
Is he missing a top lip? (what IS my fascination with body parts??). His outfit sucked. I thought he sounded shakey on alot of parts and had a real problem with the transitions. Nice song but now
really just want to hear Tim sing it. I expected more out of him.
Nerdia: Loved it, loved it. Another Morrissey-esque perfromance and a greeeaat song.

Guest Judge - Martina McBride

Coolia: Martina was okay, nothing special but not annoying.
Deb: Martina McBride was nice and probably gave some helpful advice. She seemed genuinely nice and to really like some of the singers.
Nerdia: Didn't add much, IMHO.


Coolia: Chris goes home, with Lakisha and Sanjaya in the Bottom 3.
Nerdia: Lakisha goes home, with Chris and Sanjaya in the bottom 3.

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

A Dog's Life on the D-List

Coolia, Nerdia, and my BFF invited me along for brunch on Saturday. I suggested we go to Hans Rockenwagner's new Venice hot spot, 3 Square Cafe, because it has a lovely patio where I can sit with my peeps. The restaurant was bustling, and one rather brusque waitress told me I was in the way, blocking the aisle. Another waitress quickly followed up and said I was not in the way at all and that I was "the cutest dog in the world."

As I was begging for Coolia to toss me some
weisswurst, I heard the brusque waitress call out, "Jake, over here." Two guys walked by tailed by a german shepherd. I immediately
recognized the dog was Atticus Gyllenhaal and went to say hello. Atticus sniffed me for one second and then kept walking. Apparently, he wasn't familiar with my work on Who Gets The Dog?

I tell you, life as a D-List dog is full of disappointment. You may remember
I frolicked with Mindy Cohn's dogs, fellow residents of the D-List. But Atticus was far too A-List for me. Coolia and Nerdia were too busy staring at Atticus' owner Jake to even notice that I was sniffed and snubbed.

Sometimes the only thing that fills the emptiness is
weisswurst, and luckily, there was plenty of it raining down on me.

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Shape Shifters

So it seems Valerie Bertinelli got fat and Jenna Jameson got skeletal. Like many other Americans, I’m fascinated by this news and must see pictures immediately regarding any drastic celebrity weight fluctuations. I often ask myself why I care? Is it because I’m concerned about this country’s obesity epidemic? No...I’m pretty ambivalent, sad to admit. Childhood obesity scares me and I’m concerned about skyrocketing health care costs due to the results of obesity in our society at large; but I don’t find a full figured person all that unattractive. I know many plus-sized women who are voluptuous, sexy and healthy-looking. Valerie, even with her extra baggage, is still one of the prettiest gals in town. In fact, weight seems to suit her.

So why do I care then? Am I revolted by bones protruding from torsos? Well, yes – it’s not pretty but I’m no anorexia-gawker. I don’t like to see celebrities out of control because it’s a particularly uncomfortable form of madness. I was diagnosed with anorexia myself as a tween. It’s a scary world of paranoia and gloom. I’d much rather see a fat star than a twiggy starlet. I can sympathize with both sides of the struggle.

For me, the intense curiosity to see the fat/thin pictures is completely aesthetic. What do they look like now? What physical shape have they taken up now? I want to see the shape shifters. Will I recognize them after the metamorphosis?

I’ve always had mixed feelings about Valerie Bertinelli. She always seemed independent and plucky back to One Day at a Time. But then she went and married a rock star. I saw her on some talk show ten years later admitting son Wolfgang didn’t recognize his father because father Eddie Van Halen was never home. She seemed to be rationalizing that this was a-okay, saying she had a lot of girl friends to hang with. How depressing to those of us too plain-looking to attract rock stars. You can be Valerie Bertinelli and it doesn’t do you any good. Maybe the independent girl-speak was just a fake-out. I couldn’t help thinking she deserved more and I was frustrated with her for not asking for it.

On the other hand, I admired Jenna for her empire-building abilities, taking a slimy business by the balls and raking the cash in. After failed rejuvenations of the vagina and marriage, Jenna is now waifishly thin.

Clearly, she needs Valerie’s IM handle. These gals need to chat.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

American Idol - Livin' Lakisha Loca


Melinda Doolittle - "Sway"

Coolia: She looked great in that slimming dress with nice hair. Still, she's not able to really be sexy as J. Lo ordered her to be. As always, a good vocal, and nice comeback to Simon's criticisms - funny without being arrogant. Her comment showed more personality than her performance.
Art Haarper: The background singers were pretty good. Actually, she wasn't bad.
Deb: Her hair looked better (not a good sign when comments start off about their looks). I guess I'm getting a little bored. She sounds the same each week, no suprise. She comes off as too old to me....not so American Idol.
Terry: Another excellent vocal but lacked the "Latin" pizazz and just seemed too Cabaret (damn I wish Simon would stop copying me!!). But, excellent Cabaret.
C. Crumpet Swank: I thought this was the best female vocal of the evening. She was smooth and sexy, if perhaps a little bit too controlled. I thought she looked absolutely gorgeous--clothes, make-up, hair, everything, and the glam look suited the song. But then again, the success of the look was a double-edged sword insofar as its glam formality exacerbated the continuing problem she has with looking too old. (I like Nerdia’s theory that she is actually 11th-place finisher Stephanie Edwards’s birth mother.)

Nerdia: I did like her hair....for an old gal.

Lakisha Jones - "Conga"

Coolia: This didn't really work for me. The dress was hideous and too tight. Back fat lapping over the top is just never attractive, especially when it jiggles as one stomps around the catwalk. She just seemed awkward, even though the vocal was good as always. I fear she could get booted for this, so I voted for her 10 times (no busy signals).
Art Haarper: There wasn't any range to it. It was all the same thing.
Deb: Good song choice, fun. She seemed winded at times trying to keep up with the song. Overall good performance.
Terry: Sorry, but the jiggling back fat was a bit distracting. I wish she'd stop trying to get all gussied up and just be herself. Beyond that, I thought that she added a bit of a Donna Summer-esque disco flavor to the vocals. Good but not great.
C. Crumpet Swank: The dress was way too small. She needs to get some advice from Queen Latifah on how to dress her ample and not unpleasant curves. She sang the song well, but as the judges pointed out, this is not a singer’s song, insofar as the vocal being particularly challenging. Bad choice and especially not good when you’re one of the first to sing, which is a voting handicap itself. I am a LaKisha fan, and I am worried for her; she was in the Top Three last week, but this week I think she’s headed for the Bottom Three.
Nerdia: I too am worried about my favorite contestant. She looks so defeated all the time. And her performances had successively lost more and more life.

Chris Richardson - "Smooth"

Coolia: The music drowned him out a bit, but he was indeed smooth and sexy. It was kinda hot even if he's still sorta generic to me.
Art Haarper: He wouldn't make it as a Vegas lounge singer.
Deb: Love this song. I had trouble hearing him a bit over all the music. Second half of the song was much better. He needs to bring on more of the big vocals. Good job. I'm becoming more of a fan each week.
Terry: A nice take with a bit of a hipper flavor added to the vocals, but I'm just not impressed with him any more. He has a nice range but no projection. It's like he can only sing in whispers...and I don't care for that.
C. Crumpet Swank: I thought this was effective. He "owned it," to use the general parlance of Randy and Paula. Indeed, Chris has grown on me as the season has developed. I am partial to nasal voices (Stevie Nicks, Susanna Hoffs, and of course, Paula Abdul!), but even so, I agreed with the judges earlier in the season that Chris was too nasal in his performances. I think he’s getting it under control, however, and hitting the sweet spot now. I also love watching his face when he sings; his eyebrows in particular--there’s real feeling to them, and I’m not being sarcastic. Lastly, I enjoy his demeanor the most of all the contestants when the judges hand down their verdicts. When he’s given kudos he looks pleased as punch in the best way, as opposed to the standard:

1. "Really? Aw shucks" looks of Melinda which have officially crossed over to the disingenuous;
2. "Great! Thanks!" look of Blake which has an underlying "Thanks for confirming my own opinion" vibe;
3. "Tee-hee" smile and giggle fest of Jordin "I am sunshine incarnate" Sparks

Chris on the other hand just seems delighted in the purest way when the judges laud him. His eyes flash with joy and he seems proud to have worked hard and pulled something off. You know the Army’s old ad campaign, "Be all that you can be?" Well, I think Chris has adopted that mantra and it’s paying off.
Nerdia: Latin song night is always a disaster for amateurs. The songs don't have a lot of drama to begin with so unless you have personality, or "passion" as J. Lo puts it, you sound very uninteresting. Chris sounded over his head with his song.

Haley Scarnato - "Turn the Beat Around"

Coolia: So just because Gloria Estefan is a Latina and covered this song, it fits the theme of Latin night? I think that's pushing it. She had good energy and showed off those legs again, but kudos to Simon for calling her on it.
Art Haarper: Good costume. She was nice and loud.
Deb: Ummmm no. The whole performance felt fake and forced. Her voice is too soft and sweet for such a "hard" song. I think Jordin could have done great with this one.
Terry: Ah! A very nice crackwhore shade of red lipstick coupled with once again showing off those long sexy legs....too bad she wore a bra and a neck-high shirt (and, good for Simon for calling her out on the obvious attempt to sell herself). A very so-so karaoke performance.
C. Crumpet Swank: Worst performance of the night. In choosing this song, Haley shoots herself in the foot because it offers scant opportunity to demonstrate whatever range she does possess and the success of her vocal rides on how well she can deliver the rat-a-tat-tat quality of the lyric, which even if achieved, doesn’t really count for much when compared to a more nuanced performance such as Melinda’s. Moreover, Haley didn’t even pull off the rat-a-tat-tat aspect all that well, even though she was game. She was trying valiantly and kept up with it for the most part (no obvious flubs), but you could see the monumental effort, which detracted from the success of hitting the lyrics in the way J-Lo advised. The rushed feeling was further amplified by her overzealous rampage of the entire set (stage, aisles, catwalk, etc.). She was determined to walk every inch of it (the better to show off her legs, natch), but that is easier said than done when you’re sporting stilettos. Simon’s remarks about wearing as little as possible as a strategy was blunt, but, let’s face it, entirely true.
Nerdia: Although Simon spoke the truth indeed, a fellow watching the show with me pointed out that this is exactly what helped J. Lo get where she is and helped Paula Abdul have a career. I felt she sang the song competently yet still amateurishly.

Phil Stacey - "Maria, Maria"

Coolia: He was smart to wear a hat and pin his ears back under it, but the rest of his outfit looked thrifted (and not in a hip retro way). Boring performance again, and his voice cracked at the end.
Art Haarper: Terrible. Why is he still on the show?
Deb: Again LOVE this song! I wanted him to stand from the beginning. Why does it bug me when they sit? He sounded a little nasally on the lower ranges but his big voice I do really like. I must vote ...again. LOL It's folks like me keeping this guy in even though he calls the bottom 3 his second home.
Terry: I really thought this song would fit him perfectly....but, the vocally were oddly strained at times. Disappointing.
C. Crumpet Swank: Phil is so freaking frustrating! He has probably the best voice of the six men in the Top Twelve in terms of power and range, but he really doesn’t know how to use it effectively. He has a tendency to seem dour and over serious, as was apparent in last week’s "Night and Day, and again this week with "Maria, Maria." He also needs serious help with phrasing. His phrasing seems totally random, which then goes back to the fact that he doesn’t seem to grasp the songs properly. He, more than anyone, would benefit from Melinda’s tutelage. Hat = good thing.
Nerdia: Yet another Santana or Gloria Estefan song. Snore.

Jordin Sparks - "Rhythm is Gonna Get You"

Coolia: I didn't think this was the best song for her. She seemed a little stiff.
Art Haarper: Not good.
Deb: She's more what I see when I picture an American Idol! I'm not sure if it was the best song choice but overall very well done. She's fun, young and vocally very strong. I MUST vote and vote and vote again for her.
Terry: Not one of my favorite songs to begin with. Despite the really good vocals, this was a boring presentation of a boring song.
C. Crumpet Swank: She sang it well, but again, not a particularly challenging song vocally, which then seems like a cop-out since we know she has such vocal talent. She seemed to want to rectify this by adding in a bunch of lyrical ad-libs (which Simon derisively pointed out) to showcase her facility with big notes. It was like making cupcakes from a box and then adding a ridiculous amount of frosting and dragees to fancy them up. Also, the feel of this performance too closely mirrored her rendition of "Hey Baby" last week. Appearance: From the waist-up she looked really cool and sleek, but the black toreador pants just made her big butt and thighs look lumpy. She’s worked professionally as a plus-size model; she should know better.

Nerdia: I finally get Jordin. She's an 80s artist. She did Gloria better than anyone. Turns out, it takes an 80s state of mind.

Blake Lewis - "I Need to Know"

Coolia: Another hot one from Blake - almost as good as "Time of the Season." Great look, great stage presence, and a solid vocal. I voted for him 10 times (got some busy signals).
Art Haarper: It wasn't bad.
Deb: Best vocal of the night by a long shot. This is the best I've heard from him. He's the first guy I could "hear" throughout the song. This sealed it as the GUYS night for sure! They outshone the girls all night. I can't figure out whey I still like Chris R better??...
Terry: I really like his vocal "singing" in these types of "talking" songs (Chris R would have sounded terrible with this song....if we could have even heard what he was saying). This fit him to a tee and he gave a terrific performance. Best of the night.
C. Crumpet Swank: I was humming this song all Tuesday afternoon, secretly hoping Blake would sing it, and lo and behold I got my wish. And it was hot, baby! Smokin’! Tremendous yo factor. The vocal was dynamite—strong, clear, pleading, suave—it hit all the hallmarks/intentions of the lyric and did Marc Anthony proud. Oddly enough, the weakest part of the performance was the stage movement; for the first time, Blake seemed a little off his game in this respect. He seemed a little self-conscious, which we’ve not experienced with him before (did the noticeable pit stains through two layers of shirts belie this?). I also loved how he let his voice soar more and more as the song progressed. We heard him do things with his voice that he hasn’t done before on the show. And I admired the really fine control he exhibited—managing the verses with the appropriate restraint and then really seizing the passion in the remonstration of the chorus. I can’t help but think that his eventual album is going to be smashing—a real varied, effective and innovative smorgasbord of delights. He and Melinda alone have shown that they can pretty much tackle any genre to great effect.
Nerdia: He's a contender!

Sanjaya Malakar - "Besame Mucho"

Coolia: Kudos to Sanjaya for being the only contestant to sing in Spanish on Latin night! What a novel idea...who knew there were songs to choose from by artists other than Santana and Gloria Estefan? Of course it's not a great vocal but it wasn't bad either, and he's clearly got a degree from The Constantine School of Making Love to the Camera.
Art Haarper: Now that was a Vegas lounge act!
Deb: What happened to Sampsons hair? Is this how the stylists are trying to sabotage him? Oh I get it...his plan is to grow what they cut off on his face?. OK vocal, nice smile but I'll be needing a whole jug of wine to go with CHEESE! Yuk!
Terry: Good lord!....he pulled off yet ANOTHER hairstyle and overall look!! At this rate his head will be shaved by the finals. God help me, he actually didn't suck! Certainly not good, but by far his best yet (of course, he had no where to go but up). And, didn't anyone else find it odd and just so blatantly obvious that he was the ONLY one to sing a "Latin night" song that has Spanish lyrics? This kid is apparently far smarter than I have been giving him credit for.
C. Crumpet Swank: Sanjaya deserves to stay if only for being the only contestant to have the balls to sing in Spanish on Latin night. That aside, his vocal was good, and effective. I’ve consistently maintained that his voice is perfectly fine; what mars him as a contestant is that he approaches virtually every song in the same, low-key way (excepting of course, "You Really Got Me"). He rarely ventures outside his comfort zone, which is not a point of recommendation for sure, particularly in the context of this competition which theoretically values genre versatility. I also have to applaud the way he seduced the camera at the close of the song. Constantine would approve. Mustache: mangy, lame and disgusting. I know he’s trying for follicular uniqueness each week, but he’s running out of options. Let’s pray he doesn’t conceive of some pubic masterpiece for next week.
Nerdia: And yet unlike Constantine, he didn't smirk or look smug when he seduced the camera. Awesome move and song choice, Sanjaya.

Guest Judge - J. Lo

Coolia: She was nicer and more engaged than I expected, but it's still obvious that she was only there to promote her album. I bet she's pissed that nobody cried upon meeting her or proclaimed she was his/her idol.
Art Haarper: That's Jennifer Lopez? I didn't know she had fallen on hard times.
Deb: She was cute and fun but I doubt she offered much truly vocally since I doubt she would have even made it this far is she were on A.I.!
Terry: J-low was just another schill in a long line of just another schills
C. Crumpet Swank: She looked gorgeous. I liked that she seemed to be really enjoying herself and the contestants, even though she didn’t have much to offer in terms of vocal coaching. Her comments were more about sexy-coaching and dance-coaching, but then again since that’s 2/3 of her own appeal as a musical artist, it seemed appropriate, and I don’t mean that as a diss, lest we forget it can’t hurt for any future Popstar to be made aware of how those components will or will not factor into one’s approach to the musical marketplace. I liked how Jennifer seemed very down-to-Earth. Jenny from the block indeed.
Nerdia: she's so 90s.


Coolia: Lakisha goes home, with Haley and Phil in the bottom 3.
Art Haarper. It could be hot pants or the guy with the hat (Phil). Probably the guy with the hat.
Deb: What Coolia said.
Terry: Haley to go, with Phil and Chris in the bottom 3. Not enough boobage to save her this week...legs only will take you only so far.
C. Crumpet Swank: Haley goes home, with Phil and Lakisha in the bottom 3.

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Sunday, April 08, 2007

Grindhouse Opening Night Madness

Friday night was one of the those nights that makes me very glad I live in LA. I decided to go to Grauman's Chinese Theater to see Grindhouse on its opening night. The Chinese is my favorite place to see a movie, and I knew Grindhouse would be truly killer on that giant screen.

Luckily, we bought our tickets ahead of time, because this 8pm showing was completely sold out. When I arrived a little after 7pm, there was a line stretching two blocks around the building of people waiting to get in. I joined the line and waited for my friends to show up.

Around 7:30pm, we got to the front door of the theater and one friend was still on his way, so I sent the 2nd friend in to save seats. This proved to be a daunting task. People were saving seats and guarding them fiercely. One guy actually brought his own roll of masking tape and taped an entire row to save it. When my friend tried to sit in that sacred row, a fight nearly erupted.

As I waited for my friend outside, I noticed a crowd near the entrance to the theater. Quentin Tarantino was there, greeting fans with hugs.
Once I got inside, I noticed Rosario Dawson and other cast members were also in attendance. The crowd went nuts when Quentin walked in. It was a kick to watch the movie and hear Quentin and the cast clapping and yelling things out. Only in LA!

is spectacular. I can't wait to see it a second time. I went to three nights of the New Beverly Theater's Grindhouse festival, a festival of films handpicked by Quentin from his own collection celebrating the inspirations for his new movie, and the movies I saw there were a great primer from the new Grindhouse.
The two films are neatly packaged with fake vintage trailers by directors like Rob Zombie and Eli Roth that are so gruesome and hilarious that I won't spoil them for you by going into detail. There are also vintage title cards, warnings that the film may have missing reels, deliberate scratches on the prints, all of which work to set the mood for the pseudo-70s exploitation fare.

The first film, Robert Rodriguez's Planet Terror, was my favorite. It's sort of a zombie movie, except the zombies aren't really zombies but medical experiment mutants who move and eat human flesh, as zombies are wont to do. The cast is great. Sure, Rose McGowan can't really act, but that's kind of the point. She looks great and gets a machine gun for a prosthetic leg - does she really need to do more than that? Freddy Rodriguez is a strange choice for leading man, but he mostly pulls it off, and Josh Brolin does a good job channelling his father's performance from The Amityville Horror. The casting of B-movie regulars Michael Biehn and Jeff Fahey lends authenticity, and the gore never stops.

Quentin's film, Death Proof, gets off to a slow start, with too much not-particularly-smart dialogue from 4 bad-ass chicks. Once the girls piss off Kurt Russell as Stuntman Mike, things take off. Russell manages to be hilarious and scary. His encounter with a second, tougher set of girls morphs into a chase scene that rivals The Road Warrior for sheer outrageousness and awesome stunt work (kudos to Zoe Bell, Uma's stuntperson in Kill Bill, who plays herself). The movie recovers from the slow start to emerge as a fun "girls who kick ass" and "redneck car chase" genre mash-up.

My only quibble with Grindhouse is that Quentin had to insert himself in acting roles in both movies, and the role in Planet Terror is too big. I find this really self-indulgent and whenever I see him acting, it just takes me right out of the movie. I wish he could be like Hitchcock and just show up in the background, but that would require him to be quiet, and I think that would be impossible. I love ya, QT, I'm just sayin'...

Believe me - Grindhouse is a tremendously entertaining 3-hour experience, even if you don't hear Quentin laughing at his own jokes in the background of your theater.

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

American Idol - Really Old School Night

Blake Lewis - "Mack the Knife"

Deb: It's interesting that these people don't take the advice of the professional singers. He didn't slow the song down as advised, and I think that was a mistake. He seemed to sing ahead of the music a little. Overall not bad, but for the token boy-bander I'll take Chris R.
Terry: His voice fit the song very well. He surprised me with how well he did. However, I think he would have done even better if he had taken Tony Bennett's advice to heart and slowed things down some.
Coolia: I like that Tony clarified for Blake that this was a pre-rap song about a gangsta. Blake was good, but kinda dull. I still love the sound of his voice.
Nerdia: My lease favorite Blake performance. He seems uncomfortable without a beat.

Phil Stacey - "Night and Day"

Deb: OK he might be a bit creepy but he has grown on me (is it the fact I have a fever?). Was he trying to sound like Tony? This isn't his genre but I still thought he sounded good. I really want him to stay longer than Sanjaya and Haley at the very least. I'll vote (again).
Terry: Nosferatu should ALWAYS wear a hat. That said, he was another pleasant surprise, and this style fit him well. But, despite the good vocal and good fit it lacked the projection of any real emotion from the song. And, Tony Bennett is his "hero"....I so seriously doubt THAT!
Coolia: Man, Phil is hard to look at. I solve the problem by closing my eyes when he sings. His vocal held up pretty well to that test, but the judges slammed him so hard I think he could go home.

Nerdia: Dull Tony Bennett impersonation.

Melinda Doolittle - "I've Got Rhythm"

Deb: Come on, is it really THAT hard to believe "someone" believes in her? (insert eyeroll here). Hmmm, I actually got a little lost when she was singing the faster parts. This definitely wasn't her best but what folks will remember always are her big finishes. America is too gullible (or I'm too cynical...or a little of both).
Terry: Hated the dress. Hated it. Loved the hairdo. Loved it. And, of course, yet another terrific performance.
Coolia: I agree with Deb - I no longer buy her "I'm shocked that someone thinks I'm good" face. And I agree with Terry on the wardrobe - she looked like a sauage. But still, I can't fault the vocal.

Nerdia: Has no real sass or sex appeal. The judges can't criticize her because she's not taking any risks to criticize.

Chris Richardson - "Don't Get Around Much Anymore"

Deb: Definitely one of the best vocals so far. I really liked his song choice. So what if he sounds like J.T. - I like him. He was fun and looked great. I'll have to vote.
Terry: Good with a bit of a hip flip to it. But, it is becoming painfully apparent that although he may have good range he lacks the ability to project. He does a lot of whispering singing. I find that quite
annoying. Seinfeld could make a 30 minute skit out of this guy.
Coolia: I agree he did a nice job making the song more "today." His hat was cute but paired with the dropped suspenders and jeans, it was a bit much.

Nerdia: This performance has 'tude! He managed to be hip without deconstructing the hell out of it (note to Blake). Star performance.

Jordin Sparks - "On a Clear Day"

Deb: It's a shame she's being overshadowed by Lakisha and Melinda because she's easily as good as both of them, only younger and prettier and more fun. I love her!!! She sounded amazing...AGAIN! She brings it every week! I vote for her more than any other every week. She NEEDS and deserves to make the final 4 at the very least.
Terry: She looked like a star and she sang like a star.
Coolia: It's tough to take on a Barbra song, even one from a mediocre movie that featured Jack Nicholson as her hippie brother. Good job.

Nerdia: Better than Melinda but she's too Disney for me. The judges say her rendition sounds old. (helloo…see Melinda!)

Gina Glocksen - "Smile"

Deb: Pretty song. Well done vocally. Why don't I have more words to write? (She's different...but that won't get her much further in this competition.
Terry: Decent verging on good vocal. But, I didn't feel the emotion behind the song. Nice vocals but bland presentation.
Coolia: This is mean, but she's got a wonky eye and I'm finding I fixate on it during her performances. A good vocal and an unusual song choice, but a bit bland.

Nerdia: Love'd her understated performance. Love her makeup and hair, the fact that we can see her face!

Sanjaya Malakar - "Cheek to Cheek"

Deb: He can sing...he should just only do it in the car or the shower. His voice is dull, no pizazz. Not horrible, not A.I. America, I hope you feel bad for potentially ruining a nice kid.
Terry: At some point I'm going to stop writing anything about this joke and start pretending he doesn't exist. Sigh! It's just so futile. Anyway, the white suit set off his pearly wihite teeth...and eyes. Somewhat charismatic but lame, lame, lame vocals AGAIN!! (sigh! He'll be back again next
week....somebody shoot me now, please)
Coolia: I still look forward to Sanjaya. As was noted last night, he's entertaining, and you want to see what he'll do with his hair if not what he'll do with the song. He sure is getting sassy though - what did he say to Simon? It sounded like "Welcome to the Universe of Sanjaya". If we've been transported there, let's hope it's not a one-way ticket.

Nerdia: Cracks me up every time. He's fearless – dancing with Paula! He worked the room.

Haley Scarnato - "Ain't Misbehaving"

Deb: Heelloooooo cleavage. I actually liked her "performance" and playing with the song and the words. Her voice was good...just not powerful enough to draw attention away from the other powerful women singers. It takes guts and she deserves credit (but not votes).
Terry: Wow!....'em are some big ole boobies hanging there (who knew?). Style fit her vocals but her performance was a bit cabaret (I swear I thought that and wrote that down before Simon said one word). If she stays it will be because of her cleavage not because of this performance.
Coolia: I felt bad for her when the judges only commented on her appearance. It reminded me of something the young William Hurt character asks his dad in Broadcast News: "What can you do with yourself if all you can do is look good?"

Nerdia: Brought back the t&a but it's probably too late. It's insulting when the judges keep saying she's pretty instead of commenting on her singing. We can do it; but the judges are professionals!

Lakisha Jones - "Stormy Weather"

Deb: Great song choice. We already have Jennifer Hudson...I don't think we need another one so soon. She looked and sounded great, but tonight I think Jordin out "total packaged" her.
Terry: She reasserted herself. Not as good as Melinda or Jordin, but up in that triumvirate of the top 3.
Coolia: Big performance, big finish, but she needs to smile more and show more personality.

Nerdia: Her voice is quality. Sexy. She sings to the Lord.

Guest Judge - Tony Bennett

Terry: Tony Bennett was cool and had some use. More than others but far less than the better of the others (Barry Manilow rules!!).
Coolia: I liked having Tony on the show, mainly because it forced the kids to sing standards, which I always enjoy. He was right to emphasize to them all that they need to understand their songs and listen to the lyrics - when they don't it's my biggest pet peeve.


Deb: Gina goes home, with Haley and Jordin in the bottom 3.
Terry: Haley goes home, with Phil and Gina in the bottom 3.
Coolia: What Terry said.

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