Saturday, June 27, 2009

Deaths of a King and an Angel

It's been a rough week for LA and the rest of the celebrity-worshipping world. Thursday morning brought the news that Farrah Fawcett had succumbed to cancer. I was really sad to hear this, although after having watched her documentary, it was clear she wasn't getting better. I grew up as a fan of Charlie's Angels and admired Farrah's performance in The Burning Bed, but I didn't really pay much attention to her until she got sick. I was then really impressed by her brave fight against cancer. It takes guts when you are a woman whose livelihood is based on looks to show yourself looking your worst. I know she will remain an inspiration to many, and she has definitely raised the awareness of anal cancer and cancer in general. If it can happen to Farrah, it can happen to any of us.

Thursday afternoon, poor Farrah was quickly eclipsed by the news that Michael Jackson had been rushed to the hospital. TMZ reported he was dead. Legit news sites were just saying he was at the ER. Who to believe? Facebook and Twitter nearly collapsed under the avalanche of posting. We got nothing done at work discussing the drama. And then the surreal news that Michael was indeed dead came across the legit newswire.

I've never been a fan, not even when I was 10 years old and Thriller came out and all the other kids were wearing zipper jackets and one glove. I never bought the album. I don't dispute he's a musical genius, but his music wasn't really my bag. It's tough to make a saint out of someone who may have been a pedophile. Of course we will never know the truth, but there was certainly a lot of shady behavior and eccentricities. Still, my sympathy goes out to his children and family. This is definitely a loss to pop culture on the level of Elvis.

Some people seem surprised at the hysteria going on in the wake of Michael's death. We at Ape Culture are not surprised. We've been dealing with his hysterical fans for years. You see, they have taken umbrage over basically any article we've written that has been even slightly critical of Michael. And their hatemail attacks have often been vicious and personal. His fans are a breed apart. They have called us ugly and wished cancer on us. After a while, we were receiving so much hate mail from MJ fans, we decided to make it easy for them by creating the Michael Jackson Mad-as-Hell-Lib which automatically generates a hate mail.

Here is a representative example of the emails we received over the years (spelling errors left intact):


We currently have 173 such comments on the site. You can read them all here.

So if you are hoping the hysteria will die down soon and we can just remember the music, think again. It's gonna be a bumpy ride.

For the Ape Culture perspective on Michael through the years, check out:

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Getting Over the Michael Jackson Documentary

Be Michael in our Michael Jackson Choose-Your-Own-Celebrity-Adventure

A review of Michael's 30th Anniversary Television Special

Ape Culture Cares About Celebrities on Hard Times: The Oompa Loompa Clinic for Celebrities Suddenly Gone Wack

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Monday, June 08, 2009

I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here: Demons Were Coming Out of Me!

I really don't know where to begin.

When I heard that Sanjaya, Speidi, and Janice Dickinson were all going to be on this show, I knew I would be wasting time and brain cells on it.

My mind is just boggling at the religious conversion of Heidi and Spencer. I've watched most of The Hills, and I've never seen Heidi talk about her faith, other than wanting to get married in a church. I've seen her invoke Jesus on TMZ a few times, but usually she was praying to Jesus to get a record deal or something similar, with her tongue firmly implanted in her cheek (sorry, couldnt help putting "Heidi" and "implanted" in the same sentence). Now all of a sudden she is professing she wants to be the next Mother Theresa. Does she realize she would have to wear the same outfit everyday? She said her life's purpose is to do Jesus' will and He will make her His instrument. Hmm, somehow I don't think Jesus' big plan for her involves working for SBE and planning big parties.

Then we got to see Spencer baptized by Stephen Baldwin. And Heidi and Spencer spent a "dark night of the soul" in The Lost Chamber. This was the test they had to endure to be allowed back on the show. They prayed the whole time and Spencer had visions. Stephen Baldwin thinks Spencer's conversion is real, but the rest of the cast seems to have doubts. Yeah, I'm a Doubting Thomas about this, too.

Janice Dickinson is starting to look like the Cat Woman because she's had so much work. It's actually hard to look at most of the celebrities without makeup. Janice and Sanyaya have developed an odd bond.

Who's coming off the best? Well, John Salley has been pretty fun and stable, but he did go a bit far in name-calling with Janice. He had the classic line, "If Janice was on fire, I wouldn't pee on her." Frangela had some funny moments, but they mostly just laid around on their cots. Lou Diamond Phillips is strong but kinda boring. Patty Blagojevich is surprisingly normal.

Amazingly, I'd say Sanjaya is coming off the best. He has thrown himself in with gusto, cut his fauxhawk into a real mohawk, and embraced his primal self. He's eaten bugs and bull testicles. He's even been nurturing to Janice. Now Heidi may be aspiring to be a saint, but I think that act shows Sanjaya already is one.

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Nuts for Mutts 2009: The Quest for Shade

Hello fans,

I've come to realize I am not content with the 15 minutes of fame I received from being on Who Gets the Dog. Therefore, I'm always seeking the spotlight. Thus, I implore Coolia to register me for the Nuts for Mutts dog show each year. It's a fundraiser for New Leash on Life animal rescue. As a rescue dog myself, I heartily support the cause.

The dog show takes place at Pierce College in Woodland Hills. Even a D-list Dog like myself rarely ventures into "The Valley," but I make an exception for this show. The show inevitably happens on a boiling hot day, because, well, most days are boiling hot in The Valley.

Friends, you know that I am delicate, and my albino skin cannot take much direct sunlight, so today was a challenge for me. It was already hot when we arrived at 9:30am, and temps later climbed into the 90s. My first category was Best Smile. I refused to drink water before the event because I know I have to be panting in order to have a big smile. Being a star requires suffering and sacrifice. I thought the competition was fierce as every dog was panting and therefore smiling, but it turned out we all advanced to the Finals by default. There were only 10 dogs competing (out of possibly 25 slots) and 10 dogs get to go to the Finals. I consider this a rather hollow victory. I also noticed my teeth are getting a bit yellow as I'm now 5 years old. It may be time for Lumineers.

I took a break to relax in the shade with some of Coolia's friends, including Nerdia and BFF who brought along my good friend Franz. Franz was not competing, but he came to cheer me on. It always does a competitor good to have friendly faces in the crowd.

Next up for me was "Most Handsome - Medium Breed." This should be easy for me as I'm medium and damn handsome. I did notice I was up against some other pretty attractive dogs, including Bentley who was quite unusual, being half Bassett Hound and half English Bulldog. There were 12 dogs in the category and 10 of us advanced to the Finals - including me! The judge called me a stud. Coolia pointed out that Kimberly Caldwell, former
American Idol contestant, was on hand for the judging of the early rounds. I yawned.

8 dogs braved the heat and stuck around for the finals of Most Handsome. I pranced into the ring, feeling this was my chance to grab a blue ribbon and make it to the Best in Show round. Debra Wilson, formerly of
Mad TV was once again the emcee. She and I go way back. So, I was feeling comfortable. Then, Coolia squealed with glee when she found out Rip Taylor would be judging my category. I did not know who the old man with the funny moustache was, so Coolia informed me he had hosted The $1.98 Beauty Show. This didn't lend me much clarity. The other judges for my round were Anna Friel and Ian Somerhalder of Lost. Coolia said Ian was truly the Most Handsome. Down, girl!

I turned on the charm, but Coolia distracted Rip from admiring me by telling him a story about how the first musical she ever saw as a kid was
Peter Pan at the Fabulous Fox Theater in St. Louis and he played Captain Hook. Rip said he remembered the show, and "I'm still at it, honey. Check me out at!" He then did briefly examine me and pronounce me cute. Anna kept her distance, but Ian seemed captured by my whimsy.

The judges conferred. The suspense was killing me. Or maybe it was the heat. Debra took the microphone to announce the winners. She began humming "Frankenstein" so I knew she was talking about me as that is one of my namesake's songs. I got Third Place! I got a yellow ribbon! First place went to Bailey, a cocker spaniel-ish dog with a luxurious coat. Bailey was nice, so I won't talk trash about him, but the long hair does make him kinda look like a girl. I'm just sayin...

I enjoyed an air-conditioned ride back to the more civilized West Side of Los Angeles, happy with my ribbon but still setting my pink eyes on the prize of Best in Show -wait 'til next year!

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Saturday, April 04, 2009

Attending an Osbournes: Reloaded Taping, or Journey to a Lower Circle of Hell

Julie and Dave being forced to applaud at a taping of The Osbournes: Reloaded

WARNING - Spoilers of upcoming episodes of The Osbournes: Reloaded

I've lived in LA long enough now to know that attending TV tapings is usually excruciatingly dull. You have to show up early and wait in line. There's a lot of herding. The studios are freezing. There's usually a bad warm-up comedian. And it will take at least 3 hours to tape a 30-minute show unless it's live like
American Idol or a well-oiled machine like The Price is Right.

Occasionally, my fandom takes over and I forget this painful reality. Thus, I attended a taping of The Osboures: Reloaded. I somehow convinced my friend Christopher and boyfriend Dave to join me on this adventure.

We arrived about an hour before the taping and started the herding process. In the holding pen, we were asked to fill out questionnaires. We were told there would be some audience participation in the show and the chance to win stuff. So we had to answer things like "would you eat crickets for $50? $100? $500?" We also had to fill out some fun facts about ourselves.
Once inside the studio, we were asked if we minded getting wet. We said we didn't. I figured this would mean Ozzy would spray the crowd with a fire hose, the way he does in concert. So because we were game, we got seats in the front row, off to the side.

And so the variety show began. The Osbournes took the stage with their dogs. Immediately, we could tell the writing was horrible. Due to a dispute with the Writer's Guild, the show was using non-union writers. Boy, did it show. The banter between the Osbournes was so cheesy and stilted that it made Sonny's and Cher's banter seem positively Shakespearean in comparison.

We were introduced to a super Fall Out Boy fan. She was shown a video of the band, allegedly sitting in her bedroom. She then was told she would get to go meet the band! A limo whisked her away. We later learned the bedroom was just a set, and when she got to her house, the band wasn't there. But never fear, she got back to the studio in time to see the band perform. The "superfan" tried to lipsynch along but didnt seem to know the words. She was clearly an actress, as was everyone brought on stage.

Another segment involved a girl and guy being picked from the crowd and asked to make out on stage, while blindfolded. For a second kiss, they swapped the cute young girl for an old lady. Hilarity ensued as we watched them kiss. Yuck. Again, all actors.

The kids didn't seem happy. Ozzy looked pretty miserable. Only Sharon seemed to be enjoying herself.
I was reminded of the essay I wrote many moons ago when The Osbournes MTV show was all the rage - where I was upset at Sharon for turning Ozzy into a clown and worried that she was exploiting her kids who wouldn't handle fame well. I hate to say I told ya so. You could tell the only reason they were all on stage was because the check cleared. Sharon must want to redecorate one of the houses.

In another segment called "The Other Osbournes," the family hit the road to visit someone named Osbourne who is really into UFOs. This was kinda quirky but ultimately seemed like making fun of the mentally ill.

Another painful segment was called something like "Challenge Jack" and another allegedly random audience member was brought on stage to compete against Jack. They were put in tanks of supposedly freezing water and whoever failed to answer a question would have ice poured on top of them. The water was clearly not cold, and Jack's acting skills couldn't sell it.

The only funny segment of the show was a video segment where Ozzy was inserted into various films, like
Pirates of the Caribbean. These bits have been used as show openers on Ozzfest for many years, and they are always hilarious. Ozzy can be very funny, when he's being himself, not reading off a script.

I was hoping that Ozzy and Kelly might sing a song together, or Ozzy would play with his band. This is a variety show, right? There should be music. Well, the only music was a song by Fall Out Boy. I was suprised at how collectively diminutive the band was. It wasn't great, but it did wake us up a bit.

At the end of the show, Ozzy took out the fire hose and sprayed the crowd. Christopher and I got soaked in foam, but somehow he totally missed the biggest target, Dave. No fair! We were then briefly toweled off but sent out into a chilly December evening in wet clothes. At concerts, Ozzy sprays the crowd because he's gotten the crowd worked up into a sweaty, yelling, tit-flashing frenzy. It feels good to get cooled off by his hose. Here it just felt like The Osbournes were pissing on us. The whole show was so utterly insulting, as was the experience of being in the audience. By the way, the questionairres we had labored over weren't used at all. Yes, the whole evening was a total waste of time.

After three hours of this torture, I again vowed never again to attend a TV taping, and expressed further sadness for Ozzy for having to be in this pathetic mess. Sharon uses him the way Colonel Tom used Elvis. I believe the show is scheduled for 6 episodes, but I'll be surprised if all 6 episodes actually air. The first episode aired last Tuesday, benefitting from the great lead-in of American Idol. Watching it, I noticed they showed our opening and the kiss segment. The other segments were cobbled together from other tapings. Ozzy and Sharon went on Howard Stern this week to promote the show, but Ozzy had nothing positive to say. He said he hoped the show would bomb so he wouldn't have to do it anymore. So do we, Ozzy, so do we.

When the show was annouced, Ozzy promised it would not be like Sonny and Cher. He's right. Sonny and Cher was actually entertaining.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

American Idol - Country Night

Michael Sarver - "Aint Goin Down Til The Sun Comes Up"

I'd agree with the judges that his memorization skills are impressive. But he didn't really seem like a great entertainer for me. His enthusiasm wasn't infectious. The song was kind of a novelty song and didn't show any range. He talked back to the judges in a nice way, but I still deduct points for any talking back.

Allison Iraheta - "Blame It On Your Heart"

Allison is one of my favorites, but I don't know if she has the total package to make it on this show. She's cute but kinda weird with the bright red hair, and she doesn't have Megan's gorgeousness. But she sure has a great voice. The song was kinda boring, but it definitely showcased her pipes.

Kris Allen - "To Make You Feel My Love"

Wow, I'm really liking Kris. He doesn't radiate a huge personality, but he's dreamy and his voice has a good range. This was a very tender and quiet performance, yet still confident and strong.

Lil Rounds - "Independence Day"

I liked this more than the judges. It was definitely awkward for Lil to have to do any country song, but I loved how she belted her way through the chorus. She also looked the best she's looked, and the dress and makeup were flattering. But then she nearly ruined it all for me with excessive sassing back to the judges. Ugh, do the contestants need a media trainer to tell them that this is never an attractive behavior? Take the criticism, say thank you, and walk off the stage.

Adam Lambert - "Ring of Fire"

Randy Travis was freaked out by Adam, and this performance freaked me out a bit, too. Like Simon, I felt it was self-indulgent. Adam comes off as very affected to me, and his Broadway performance style gets old fast. I truly believe he is better suited to playing on Broadway than being a pop star, and he would rock on Broadway. I no longer think he's going to make the Top 2. Even if he was high, Johnny Cash would have rolled his eyes at this version.

Scott MacIntyre - "Wild Angels"

I'd agree with the judges that this was very similar to Scott's performance from last week and didn't involve risk-taking. However, he's very pleasant to listen to, and I enjoy his performances, especially if I close my eyes and just listen. Scott loses points for talking back to the judges, too. I don't see him lasting too much longer.

Alexis Grace - "Jolene"

She wasn't nearly as sexy as last week, and she didn't really sell what should have been a perfect song for her, given her Dolly-esque demeanor and looks. She didn't make me believe the desperation of the song, so it came off very karaoke. I think she's a goner, although I do still like her.

Danny Gokey - "Jesus Take the Wheel"

Danny is very likable, but this was kind of an odd song choice. The jacket was not a good choice either. He looked very dorky, but then dorks have won this show before (ie, Taylor Hicks). It was another strong performance but not a particularly memorable one.

Anoop Desai - "Always On My Mind"

Yay, Anoop! I like this kid, so I was glad he redeemed himself tonight with a powerful and original version of this old chestnut. He didn't back off from picking a signature song even though he got slammed last week for doing "Beat It." But instead of being an imitator, he became an innovator. The performance was confident, tender, and powerful.

Megan Joy Corkrey - "Walking After Midnight"

I hope viewers will realize the limitations that come along with life choices like tattoo sleeves. While Megan had a very pretty dress, it looked kind of ridiculous when paired with her sleeve. I thought this performance was horrible, and she seemed very stiff. I was ready to write her off, until the judges pointed out she was deathly ill and quite a trooper to be performing. That news and her prettiness should be enough to get her another week.

Matt Giraud - "So Small"

Matt is definitely likable and he's got a Billy Joel vibe going on. He keeps it real. I like the dude. I wasn't crazy about the song choice, but he was still one of the best of the night.


Bottom 3 - Megan, Allison, Alexis
Going home - Alexis

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Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Ghost Hunters International Sucks Less Now!

I feel like I’ve lost a whole year of GHI. While my bf has been hooked beyond walking away… no matter how bugaboo the show was for the first two seasons, I slept through all of the second season. Literally, the music would come on and I’d be out. I couldn’t even enjoy its badness.

This year, some very good structural improvements have been made. Brian is gone. I admit, I kind of liked Brian-drama but then again I never had to work with him. Meanwhile, Barry has taken over equipment setup. He’s good at that. Give him something to focus on and he stops going haywire over every shadow, noise or fancy e-meter reading. Less of him talking is a good thing. He sounds arrogant when he talks. Maybe he can’t help it.

Now if I had a dime for every time we asked is that a scar or a skinny soul patch? I’d be able to buy a big gulp right now at the 7-Eleven.

Andy Andrews is also gone and although I did like him too, the combination of leader Rob and Dustin (who has stepped up to be the #2 guy) has more chemistry. Andy was too intense sometimes. I always felt he was overcompensating for something, which he didn’t need to do because he was bright and well-spoken. And he didn’t take no grief from ghosts although he didn’t seem so keen of a debunker on GHI that he was on Ghost Hunters the original.

Three new members are now on the show, all good: Joe, Brandy and Angelica. The girls are great: no theatrics or politics (at least as far as we can see), very hard to spook. The only thing that bugs me about those two is their over-application of eye shadow. Like Dustin’s (improved but still) occasional insistence on wearing his top-less baseball cap backward and upside down, it’s distracting and unnecessary. Ghosts are not impressed.

But best of all, GHI is back to doing some freakin debunking again! Say a hallelujah everybody. That’s what I like to see because then when they do find something strange, it’s more believable when we know they’ve done due-diligence debunking. Plus the debunking solutions are usually more interesting than the ghost activity.

I’m like, get on with your afterlife already, ghosts! Or say something interesting then!

GHI has also been to some better locations this season: Dracula’s castle (guess what: not haunted) and a Paris chateau. These guys are finally interesting enough to start watching again. Thank god, because I’ve been oversleeping.

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

American Idol - The Second 12 of the Top 36 Perform

Jasmine Murray - "Love Song"

I like this girl so I was disappointed in the generic performance. She's cute and charming but this song didnt let her show off any skillz.

Matt Giraud - "Viva La Vida"

Matt is talented but seems to lack star quality. He also seemed very nervous to me. Watching him, I thought about Albert Brooks sweating through the newscast in Broadcast News. He looked that uncomfortable. And I'm surprised since he works in a dueling piano bar.

Jeanine Vailes - "This Love"

Ugh, I hated this. She does have great legs but she kind of looks like a drag queen. I found her performance to be annoying and shrill.

Nick Mitchell aka Norman Gentle - "And I Am Telling You I Am Not Going"

LOL! I loved this performance. Finally, some entertainment in this boring show! I laughed and laughed. Yes, he's mocking the show. But hey, it needs some mocking. Plus, the boy can sing. You could tell that during Hollywood week, which was why the judges didnt know what to do with him. Here he struggled on the hardest song in the world, but he did hit a few good notes. I wish he'd make it to the Top 12 just so his Andy Kaufmanesque takeover of Idol could go on and on.

Allison Iraheta - "Alone"

Wow, I liked this girl a lot. I didn't expect to, given her look and demeanor in the interview, but she rocked out on a very hard song. She seems older than 16 to me. Her voice reminded me a little of Bonnie Tyler or last year's rock and roll nurse (but better than the nurse).

Kris Allen - "Man in the Mirror"

I agree with the judges that it wasn't a great song choice, but Kris is definitely cute and likable. He's got real teen idol potential if he can radiate a somewhat bigger personality. He started off shaky but got better as he went through the song.

Megan Joy Corkery - "Put Your Records On"

I wasn't digging this girl and wasn't sure what the judges were raving about. With her blond hair and innocent white dress and tattoo sleeve, she looked like the spawn of Brooke White and Carly Smithson. She's definitely beautiful but I found her voice irritating and pitchy and thought she seemed nervous. Also, what's up with the odd dance moves and Tammy Faye eyelashes?

Matt Breitzke - "If You Could Only See"

Blech. I'm typically a fan of contestants who are built like offensive linemen (cf Sundance Head, Matt Rogers), but Matt leaves me a bit cold. I thought this was a generic bar band performance of a generic bar band song. He then made things worse by smarting off to the judges.

Jessie Longseth - "Bette Davis Eyes"

Ooh, awesome song, but too bad she sounded so nasally. There is something irritating about her personality too. And then more sass to the judges. Goodbye, Jessie.

Kai Kalama - "What Becomes of the Broken Hearted"

Making an error of Samsonesque proportions, Kai either cut or tied back his hair so it looked like a mop top. His hair was really his best feature, and it looked dorky last night. This was a pretty boring performance and I don't think his heartwarming story will be enough to get him through.

Mishavonna Henson - "Drops of Jupiter"

I like this girl. She has a whimsical look about her and a nice personality. But she didn't really bring it. Still, I think she has a shot to make it. I like the name. She should drop her last name and just be Mishavonna.

Adam Lambert - "Satisfaction"

God, this kid grates on my nerves. I know he can sing but everything about him is so contrived. He's now desperately trying to be butch but we won't forget that he covered "Believe." His hairstyle is annoying but I guess it makes him Tiger-Beat-Ready. I thought the performance was totally cheesola, but I have to admit that his stage presence and voice are on a different level than the rest of this group, except for Allison. Notice how they let him sing last just like they let Danny Gokey sing last - they are pushing their favorites.


Top Guy - Adam Lambert
Top Gal - Alison Iraheta
Third Finisher - Nick Mitchell (a girl can dream)

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

American Idol - The First 12 of the Top 36 Perform

Tonight's show began with some banter between Ryan and the judges. Paula seemed drugged out again. She had been looking better to me during the earlier shows this season. I guess that shows the magic of editing - not much they can due to hide her glazed over expression and slurring on Live TV.

Jackie Tohn - "A Little Less Conversation"

OK, Jackie, you can mug and prance around the stage all you want but you'll never outdo Jon Peter Lewis on this song! Her outfit was not very flattering, and Paula stated it reminded her of Randy's "Journey pants." Pretty sure that's not a compliment. She gets points for being an oddball but her Karen O type performance is not going to win over the dialing fingers of many Idol viewers.

Ricky Braddy - "Song For You"

Wow, I was impressed with Ricky's voice. It was gorgeous and reminded me a little of George Michael. He really delivered on this difficult song. Too bad he's lacking in the looks and personality department and we don't have any impression of him since he's had no coverage on the previous shows. I fear this great performance, coming early in the night, won't be enough to carry him through.

Alexis Grace - "Never Loved a Man"

Alexis is cute as a button, but I feel she is trying too hard to get "the look" the judges want her to have. She is coming off like a cross between Nikki McKibben and Amy Winehouse and Gwen Stefani. This was definitely a good performance although I didn't feel she was really feelin' the song, and I was less enthused than the judges who slobbered all over her. Simon delivered the coveted comparison to Kelly Clarkson that will no doubt have her sailing through to the next round.

Brent Keith - "Hicktown"

Brent is cute, but this was pretty standard country fare and unlikely to help him stand out. The judges felt he didn't showcase his range. He also perhaps studied with Chikezie since he too talked back to the judges too much, which is never appealing.

Stevie Wright - "You Belong With Me"

Aww, poor Stevie. I was rooting for her. I think she has a good vibe. But this teenybopper song did nothing for her. It was a very generic song and she struggled with it and seemed nervous. Maybe she has enough teen fans to carry her through, but I'm gonna doubt it. I'm sending her a virtual hug.

Anoop Desai - "Angel of Mine"

Ahh, Anoop. I dig this guy. He's handsome in a gawky way and oh-so-likable. However, this was a bizarre song choice. The chorus basically reduced him to a backup singer harmonizing type role, and it seemed awkward. He was also guilty of talking back to the judges. He's definitely popular but this bad song choice may keep him out of tonight's top 3.

Casey Carlson - "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic"

Casey really seemed to be trying too hard. I didn't expect to bring up Nikki McKibben twice in this blog post, but Casey's winking and face pulling certainly recall the cheesiness of Nikki. She was all over the place on this one and the song was just way bigger than her, as the judges all pointed out. That being said, she's freakin' beautiful, and thus she may get a pass.

Michael Sarver - "I Don't Wanna Be"

Hmm, not sure about this one. Michael is one of my favorites. He's got that Matt Rogers / Sundance Head big cuddly bear appeal. However, this song didn't really suit him, and he looked kind of silly trying to dance. Also, this song was delivered by Bo Bice in one of the all-time great Idol performances, so that is a hard thing to live up to. Still, Michael proved he can sing, and he has a ton of likability, so I predict he will be in the top three. Possible note of concern: his mother's extremly long hair and long skirt made her look like a member of the "Big Love" polygamy cult, but they're probably just Pentecostal.

Ann Marie Boskovich - "Natural Woman"

She's an attractive girl but this performance was shouty and boring to me. Once again, a bad song choice. These kids are overreaching by taking on icons. It smacks of desperation.

Stephen Fowler - "Rock With You"

I really objected to this guy being in the Top 36 after his complete meltdown in the solo audition where he forgot his words and stalked away from his piano. He blew his second chance here, fumbling around the notes on this MJ classic. He did hit an impressive high note, but the song choice was just so very, very wrong. I felt kind of bad for him that his wife didn't come support him in the studio and he had no other family or friends there. But maybe they all told him he was crazy to sing Michael Jackson.

Tatiana Del Toro - "I'm Saving All My Love For You"

Only Tatiana could make this song sound like the anthem of a stalker, with her creepy intensity. She did tone it down a bit but a few hysterical giggles came out during her post-song interview. She also came off very defensive, stating that her friends said her Hollywood Week behavior was very uncharacteristic. The girl can sing, and she handled this song okay, and obviously it ain't easy to sing Whitney. However her personality is so grating that I can only imagine her getting through to the next round by "Vote for the Worst" efforts.

Danny Gokey - "Hero"

Ahh, Danny - cute, likable, good singer, and touching backstory. No wonder the Idol producers love him so much that they let him sing last and the judges (other than Simon) fell all over themselves praising him. Let's just give him the golden ticket to the Top 12 right now, shall we? Sarcasm aside, Danny did turn in a very good performance. He's like a mix of Joe Cocker and Eliot Yamin and I love the soulful gravel in his voice. He took on a very tough song and, unlike many of tonight's puffed-up contestants, he made the song his bitch.


Top Boy - Danny Gokey
Top Girl - Alexis Grace
Third Top Finisher - Michael Sarver

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Thursday, February 05, 2009

DVD Review: Hall and Oates Live at the Troubadour

A review of the DVD release - Hall & Oates: Live at the Troubadour (2008)


Let me start by saying that I was encouraged to watch this new Hall & Oates concert DVD after I saw their Daily Show spoof of Hannity and Colmes recently.

Even though it was odd that they were introduced as “the best selling rock duo of all time,” a claim also made on their DVD…I thought “here’s a band that doesn’t take itself too seriously to redo the song “She’s Gone” to mock that Republican-obsessed TV program.

But unless you like to hear jaunty, high-energy 80s pop tunes dirged out into lullabies, this DVD may not for you.

Hell, we did aerobics to Hall & Oates in the 80s, their songs had so much kick. The arrangements and performances on this DVD seemed very tired. And yet…their vocals still sound great, which makes the show seem all the more disappointing and the “best selling” accolade all the more deflated.

Daryl’s face looks very pinched and his style of squinting when he sings doesn’t age so well. He looks like he’s had an allergic reaction to a cat. Keep in mind he did have an attack of Lymes disease in 2005, which may explain his look and low energy level.

I, myself, love older H&O tunes like “She’s Gone” and “Rich Girl” (my last favorite was “You Make My Dreams Come True”), while Coolia liked the later 80s tunes such as “Family Man,” “Maneater” and “Out of Touch.”

Their early album Abandoned Luncheonette was mentioned (from where “She’s Gone” came) during the show which made me wonder if this was the album they were promoting during their earlier Troubadour show they mention fondly. It’s hard to know because their between-song banter was sketchy and cryptic.

We love to make light of Oates as the lesser in the duo but his one solo of the show “Had I Known You Better” we all liked. Daryl did a solo song called “Cab Driver” and he spoke about a concert he did at his house:

But all in all, I got no sense of these performers’ personalities. They were like cardboard cut-outs of Hall & Oates.

Almost every song was drawn out to a tedious duration with insufferable scatting from Daryl and therefore, every song of this two hour show, from “You Make My Dreams Come True” to “Sara Smile” sounded exactly the same, which bored the hell out of us.


I enjoyed H&O when I saw them in concert at the Beacon Theater in NYC, probably close to 10 years ago. That show was electric and showcased their great pop melodies and many hits. As Nerdia said, this all-acoustic show was a bit of a snoozer. Typically, in a live show, the artists may do a brief acoustic interlude, which always makes for a nice change. But 2 hours of acousticness tends to just drone on and on.

The concert wasn't filmed with much visual flair, and there's no use of video or images other than shots of the band. So this adds to the sameness vibe. I was also distracted by the saxophone player who had creepy long hair and whose personality just grated on my nerves for some reason. It's not really rational but I found myself reacting negatively whenever they showed him - and they showed him a lot. On the other hand, some other band members got very little camera time at all.

Daryl still sounds great, but I found myself missing his proud mullet of the 80s. He has midwestern mom hair now. Oates was never a looker, and reminds me of Epstein from Welcome Back, Kotter, but he's very fit. He still doesn't have that much to do. Remember him in their 80s videos, doing cartwheels in the background, like as if to say, "notice me dammit!" As Nerdia mentioned, his solo tune is worth a download.

I still love hearing their hits, and I can imagine myself putting this DVD on for background as I blog or read. It's not really compelling enough to watch on its own, but it's ear-pleasing.

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Friday, January 30, 2009

Carrot Top Romance?

Perhaps Luxor should rethink it's advertising strategy. I received this email ad today and was following along, getting in a romantic mood...chocolate-covered strawberries...romance kit...and then...25% off Carrot Top tickets?? Carrot Top and words like "Sexy" and "Seductive" should never be in the same ad. Now I'm picturing the romance kit will be full of giant inflatable props and the only strawberry I can see is his flamin' red hair. Ugh.

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