Monday, June 15, 2009

Repo! The Genetic Opera

Let me begin by saying this movie has some graphic violence, and also Paris Hilton. Those two things might scare away a large number of people. Despite these two things, and somewhat because of them (yes, even Paris), this movie is amazing. Stop reading and go rent it. It's entertaining from start to finish, is very visually pleasing, the soundtrack (and since it is a rock opera, this is most of the dialogue) was amazing.

The movie presents a vision of the future of widespread organ failure. Fitting with the natural capitalist American response of most movie businessmen, our villain, Rotti Largo, founds Geneco- a company that produces organs and sells them at high cost, as well as produces society's newest drug of choice. Due to the high cost of saving your own life, people sign steep contracts to get the organs. When they are unable to pay, Geneco sends a Repo-Man after them to get the organs back.

Our heroine is Shilo (Alexa Vega of the Spy Kids series, but don't hold that against her here), a sickly girl trying to live outside of her father's confinements. Her father, Nathan, (Anthony Stewart Head from Buffy) keeps her indoors to protect her frail health. Nathan is also secretly the Repo Man.

Supporting characters include the three Largo children, including Hilton as the plastic surgery and drug addicted spoiled daughter, the GraveRobber who acts as a narrator and inbetween drug deals, and Blind Mag (Sarah Brightman, the original Phantom of the Opera star), the most popular entertainer around and also the best friend of Shilo's dead mother.

Repo! had a very limited release in theaters, but I'm hoping it can gather some underground steam so it's not lost on our culture. I won't go through the entire movie, but here's a rundown of some of the parts I remember fondly. Paris Hilton's face falls off. After trying to repair a botched facial transplant, the heiress attempts to establish herself as a singer to disasterous results when her face falls off. What's a girl to do? Sell it online, of course. The big finale occurs onstage in front of a sold out audience. You can read as much or as little as you want into what that says about present society but it makes something so over the top both even more extreme, and also work. The audience buys it, so I buy it. I'll end with the cameo from Joan Jett. Because her appearance was just as random and short as this description of it.

Sidenote: if you search for images of Repo! The Genetic Opera DVD on google and specify the color orange, you end up with a bunch of non-character related pictures of Paris Hilton.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

3 is a Magic Number: Jordin Sparks - Battlefield

That's what I learned from Schoolhouse Rock. Well, actually it's one of many things I learned from those wonderful cartoons. This is mostly to introduce a running theme I've noticed so I can keep track of it.

Pop music loves saying things three times. For some reason, even if it's just lazy song writing, an extremely large number of popular songs rely on the convention that saying a word or phrase three times in a row creates a good song. Somehow, it works. I don't have examples of failed songs with this convention for obvious reasons, but the success stories are all over the radio.

All three of Flo Rida's singles from Mail On Sunday repeated themselves. First we got Low, Low, Low, then he was stuck on an ele- ele- elevator, then we put our hands in the ayer, ayer, ayer. Beyonce can see your halo, halo, halo. Stand under Rihanna's umbrella -ella -ella. Kelis shakes things up a bit by adding an "ugghh!!!" in between the second and third "I hate you so much right now"s in "Caught Out There."

Mary J. Blige - "Come To Me (Peace)" - repeats Peace
MJB - "Enough Cryin" - she's had enough cryin, cryin, cryin and it's time to say bye bye bye
Chris Brown - "Forever" - -eva -eva
Gnarls Barkley - "Crazy" - structure of chorus: does that make me/you crazy? x3
Omarion - "Ice Box" - I'm so cold, I'm so cold, I'm so cold
Alicia Keys - "No One"
Akon - "Right Now (Na Na Na)" - it's even in the title. the song's all about the na na nas
Timbaland feat. The Hives - "Throw it on Me"
Kat DeLuna - "Whine Up"
Hilary Duff - "Beat Of My Heart"
*NSync - "Bye Bye Bye"
ABBA - "Gimme Gimme Gimme"; "Money Money Money"
Amy Whinehouse - "Rehab"
Natasha Bedingfield - "These Words"
Ciara feat. Chris Brown - "Turntables"
Justin Timberlake - "What Goes Around.../...Comes Back Around"
James Blunt - "You're Beautiful"

Our newest contributor to the trend is Jordin Sparks. She premiered her new single, "Battlefield," this week and performed it live on the American Idol results show. The song is filled with "a battlefield" x3 and "get your armor" x3. I have to admit that I'm liking this song so far. I'm glad the live performance got rid of the annoying synths in the studio version. During the chorus, they create this noise that distracts from the rest of the song and doesn't bother to be in the same key at all. Even though the answer to the song's question was answered back in the 80s, love is like a battlefield because 'Love is a Battlefield,' Jordin could have a nice sized hit on her hands with this song. Her previous three singles (Tattoo, No Air and One Step At A Time for those not paying attention) lacked the energy this song has. "Battlefield" has the potential to become almost anthemic in its sound, and is more upbeat. I also think Jordin has improved as a vocalist, which is doubly as impressive considering her health complications with her voice over the past two years.

I can't figure out how to embed a myspace copy of the song for people to listen to, but here's a link to Jordin's music page where you can listen to "Battlefield" in its entirety.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Chrisette Michele - Epiphany

On Tuesday, both Chrisette Michele and Ciara released their newest albums. I've been going back and forth between the two constantly for the past few days wondering how I wanted to present my reviews of them. At first I was going to offer a comparison, but I've realized that my feelings for Ciara's Fantasy Ride are too complex to be handled in anything other than a track by track discussion. Even though I like Epiphany more, my feelings for it are much more simple and I can just do a traditional review here.

Michele has said publicly that her goal for this album was to make music that people could bob their heads to, and she has succeeded. While the material may not have the uptempo makings of a mainstream hit, R&B stations have picked up on the title track and the second single "What You Do [feat. Ne-Yo]" is a promising follow-up. Epiphany is one step in the pop direction from Michele's first album, I Am, in that the Ne-Yo produced record contains a small boost and tempo and energy. Michele's voice is still powerful and soulful, and it sounds like she's been working to become an even more impressive singer. On "Notebook," she effortlessly hits notes that previously have sounded stretched and barely there on earlier recordings.

The themes of Epiphany deal with a lot of breaking up. "Epiphany (I'm Leaving)," "Blame It On Me," "Playin' Our Song," "Another One," and "I'm Okay" all talk about the ending of a relationship, with "Fragile" and "Porcelain Doll" threatening to call it off if things don't improve. That's 7/12 tracks. The other tracks cover a crush, meeting "Mr. Right," two love songs during a relationship, and a song to a father about letting his daughter go. While this could create a repetitive nature to the album, Michele and Ne-Yo do a good job developing a variety of sounds within such a small spectrum. While I find the strongest points of the album are "Notebook" and "Fragile," I would strongly recommend buying this album in its entirety.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Make Me A Supermodel - Down on the Farm

The final eight supermodel-wannabes all took a field trip to a farm where they had to pose with an animal. Mountaha and Sandhurst got Molly, a two day old calf; Salome, Brandon and Colin posed with a bull; Jordan and Amanda were each on a horse, and Jonathon stood between the two horses. For the runway, they wore tweed country inspired clothing and tried to be elegant.

Jonathan clearly did the best this week. Guest Judge Maggie Rizer (sp?) said that he should fax this to his wife immediately. It's modeling, and it's also an authentic looking country image. During the rest of the episode, Jonathon demonstrated that he can do push-ups faster than Sandhurst when the models were ambushed by a personal trainer. He also won immunity this week.

I don't think this photo should have won the challenge, but the photographer chooses, so I think it's the end result combined with overall performance throughout the shoot. The shot makes Sandhurst look very strong, but it kind of makes his torso look a little short. Something about the camera angle and maybe how high the pants are. We learned this week that Sandhurst loves ice cream and eats a lot of cereal.

Salome did really well this week. I like the pose, she's one of the only people that did a really modelish pose this week. Her upbringing made her really comfortable and she seemed to be in control during the shoot. She didn't do that much the rest of the time.

There's an obvious gap in quality between the first three and Mountaha, but she did much better than the other four. The problem with three of the bottom five is that they were just boring. She's just kind of kneeling there trying to keep the calf in frame rather than making sure she looks good. It's not her job to get the animal's good side. Mountaha's walk was good this week.

Even though Colin was eliminated for this photo (along with his bad walking) I think it's better than the other three. He really tried and the result is at least something that's not as boring as Brandon/Jordan. We also learned that Colin smells really bad after working out. He also kind of bragged about beating Kerryn, which... I thought she was like his best friend in the house?

Even though what she's doing is really bad and boring, I still like this shot of Jordan. I love the way it's framed with the view of the stables behind her. She's lucky she knows how to walk well and has a book full of good photos to ignore this one. Jordan doesn't work out apparently. A lot of people hate the thin person that never works out, but that's me too, and like me, Jordan is really out of shape when she's forced to join the group exercise. Oh, did you know she doesn't like Amanda?

Amanda was almost sent home for being sex on a horse, but I'm putting her above Brandon because this isn't boring. Bad is better to me than boring, because at least it can be memorable. People will remember Amanda sexing it up on a horse way before they remember Brandon standing there doing nothing.

Here's the offending shot. It's so boring, but the judges just let him slip through with a warning to pick up his game. He seemed a lot closer to booking the go-see he went on with Sandhurst than Sandhurst did. In part because he doesn't have nearly as big of thighs so he fit the sample.

Next week, the seven remaining models are posing nude. Salome's weight issues will probably put her in the bottom again. Amanda seems to be a favorite to go home, so we'll see if she can do sexy and sensual without being sleazy. Also, in order to prep for the shoot, the guys have to do a lot of manscaping and Brandon cuts his testicle(s).

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Let's All Go To The Movies - Wolverine

So I saw Wolverine tonight. I feel like I was expecting more than I got. While it was fun to see all the different mutants, there were a few obvious plot issues - and I'm not just talking about differences between the film and the comics.

This is somewhat spoilerish, but not to the point where I'm going to give away the whole movie. I just want to complain about the major plot problem. Skip the next paragraph if you want to remain 100% unspoiled.

When Wolverine meets Gambit and they're about to fight, Wolverine sees Sabretooth and decides to fight him instead. If Gambit hates Sabretooth as well, as he reveals in the preceding conversation, why would he interrupt the fight and let him get away? I know you couldn't actually kill the character off, but the situation just wasn't natural.

I felt that the acting was sufficient for what it was. The Blob was the most annoying/worst actor, so good news for He did decent enough for his first effort. Most characters didn't really have to do that much, since the movie is less than two hours long and involves a large variety of locations and people present.

I know the movie is going to make tons of money no matter what anyone says at this point. It's the first big summer movie of the year, and the anticipation for this has been brewing for years. It will be interesting to see how people react to the film after seeing it. Will it experience the near-universal praise of The Dark Knight or will it be a more realistic reaction? I'm kind of thinking a Juno-type effect where all the hype is going to end up hurting people's perception. I say go see it, enjoy it, but know it's far from perfect. I'm hoping some of the later movies of the summer (next week's Star Trek, HP6, Transformers 2, GIJoe, etc) will be much better.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Heroes - Volume 4 Finale

I'm semi-live blogging the finale of Heroes tonight. I'm not going to waste a bunch of posts, so I'll just edit in to this one as the show goes on. Even though I like this show, I'm a little surprised it's not getting cancelled.

Pre-credits -
How did Danko fire two darts into Nathan's back with one shot?

We kind of just get some more random clips from last week with a little expansion. HRG knows well enough to let Claire and Angela run off to save Nathan, and then gets pulled over like we saw.

Sylar can shapeshift, so he figured out that if he moves that spot in the back of his head where he's vulnerable, he can't really be killed. Umm... put him through a wood chipper. Fargo his ass. Anyway, he gets everyone to think Danko killed another guard and throws Nathan into the bathroom to get to later.

Commercials: Star Trek looks really good. Good for Zoe Saldana to keep finding work.

Angela's off to find Matt Parkman, because we need more annoying people for this finale to work. Also, she dreamt he was there. Must have been a nightmare.

Sylar's now in Nathan's form using his stolen power of object-memory thing like "sniffing" from the movie Push. Claire is dumb and can't tell the difference between Sylar and her father. Their personalities are not similar at all, and it's kind of obviously not right.

Hiro and Ando are still running around being pointless. Hiro's so boring, especially now that he might not have a power.

These scenes are so short. I never really realized how we bounce back and forth between storyline so quickly.

Commercials. I hate so many of these characters. I'm not sure why I like this show.

I heard a spoiler that someone's dying tonight, but it didn't say who. I hope it's not just Danko since his storyline is ending.

Peter gets Nathan. That's the scene. Meanwhile, Danko admits his storyline for the past several episodes for HRG, because apparently since they don't have powers they can be trusted to share a big cell at Building 26. They're going to work together for mutual benefit! Yeah?! No. How contrived and obvious. Especially the handshake. But no, Hiro stops time and while Ando takes their photos from the wall of suspects we stare at all the frozen people.

They make their way to the hospital room of heroes and only save Suresh, because why save the others and find out if they have any useful abilities when you can just save the most annoying and not pay the extras. So, Suresh magically knows that Hiro's body is rejecting his powers.

Claire and not-Nathan check in to see the president.

Hiro saves HRG from being knocked out by Danko, but collapses as his eyes go bloodshot and his nose bleeds. But I thought Ando was supposed to kill him in that vision of the future we saw? If you're going to admit that random events and choices will continuously change the future, you should stop showing us scenes from the future, Show.

Sylar's captured Claire and boasts to HRG.


Sylar's monologuing for Claire and comparing their lives. It's awkward since apparently Sylar can control her movements, but not what she's saying. Now he's hitting on her over wine?

Nathan and Peter arrive to take down Sylar and Claire goes flying out the door at them. She get's looked out the room and we don't get to see the resulting fight scene because that would cost too much money. The room does end up on fire though. She finds "Peter", and then Sylar and Nathan return, so it really was Peter. Wait!!! Sylar just slit Nathan's throat. He's dead. Wow. He's not really who I was the most sick of on this show, but I will not miss this character.

Back from commercials and Matt's met up with Angela. He refuses to help her because that's 'not why he came there,' but is soon convinced because really what kind of plan is "I'm going to DC to save the world!"

At the hotel/political headquarters Angela does a good job finding/mourning for her son. She's easily the best part of the show. Meanwhile, not-Nathan is stalking the president. But wait! The president is really Peter who had absorbed all of Syler's powers during the fight. Oh, it's important to note that during an 'everyone dies' speech, Sylar name-dropped Arthur Patrelli, because remember that whole power? Peter uses it to make Sylar normal and vulnerable. He gets drugged and is done for.

More commercials, but I can tell we're pretty much done. We just need a nice little wrap up...

Oh, apparently Matt's here so he can turn Sylar into Nathan by mentally manipulating him. Which... sounds really weird, even for a show about super powers. It also seems like it would easily wear off as soon as Matt leaves the room/gets knocked out/takes a nap. But apparently not. Also, apparently Peter didn't steal the whole shapeshifting power, because he turns into Nathan. So while Nathan died, it's really Sylar's personality who died. What a dumb ending. They all decide to name their new effort The Company, because that hasn't been done before.

Hiro and Ando head home, because they have nothing else to do. Suresh is randomly hanging around to be in the scene.

Volume 5 is called redemption and starts six weeks later. We start at the home of a Building 26 agent who's house has flooded. The water becomes a nude Ali Larter who has become evil since she shattered a few weeks ago. She's been tracking down and killing those who tried to kill her in front of her nephew.

Nathan 'doesn't feel like himself,' which is really poor foreshadowing. He still has Sylar's clock thing going on and Angela's worried.

I'm not looking forward to next season. Ali Larter as a villain doesn't really fit with what we saw of her previously.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Tropic Thunder

I just saw this movie for the first time on Wednesday. I loved it for so many reasons, from its status as a parody of war movies, to its commentary on cinema in general, there were so many little things that add to it.

1. The Soundtrack
War movies (especially those based on Vietnam) have this wonderful tendency to use music by artists that were involved in the anti-war movement of the counterculture. Like using The Doors to open Apocalypse Now, Tropic Thunder uses a great collection of 60s music including Buffalo Springfield and The Rolling Stones.

2. Alpa Chino
A great send up of hip-hop rapper/actors, Alpa Chino also provided a sort of 'straight' man to Kirk Lazarus. The movie opens with his ad for "Booty Sweat" and "Bust-A-Nut," his energy drink and food bar in the same vein as Pimp Juice. He represents LL, Will Smith, T.I., 50, Luda, and any other rapper who decides to get into acting (Mos Def doesn't count), and the revelation that he's gay is also pretty funny considering the rumors surrounding Will Smith, Diddy and other hip-hop stars.

3. From the beginning fake trailers to introduce our actors, Tropic Thunder makes passing jabs at the movie business throughout the entire film. When Lazarus advises Tugg Speedman to not go "full retard" to get a more meaningful performance, he spouts off a long list of Oscar winners to back up his claim. Also, the Klump-bashing Fattie franchise Jeff Portnoy stars in was hilarious. It was nice that it only played such a small part in the movie, but it was great that it was put in there. Also, Ben Stiller used his standing in the industry to get a wonderful collection of cameos. Tobey Maguire as a gay monk fondling Lazarus's rosary beads and Jennifer Love Hewitt, Lance Bass and Jon Voight at the Oscars made great additions to the movie just by being there.

4. Ben Stiller and Jack Black were not Ben Stiller and Jack Black
Usually I hate Jack Black and Ben Stiller has a tendency to place the same character over and over again. Stiller did a very good job of writing characters that both used his strengths, without being the cliche man in over his head he usually ends up with. Jack Black really toned down his energy and I greatly appreciated it.

5. I'm not even familiar enough with war movies to begin to list the references here. Check out this list:
Although I do want to add that I don't think it's complete yet. For example, the first big explosion where the trees explode from left to right was taken directly out of Apocalypse Now.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Capoeira in Television

So both Survivor and ANTM had a little segment on Capoeira, Brazil's form of martial arts mixed with dance. Survivor: Tocantins had the final 8 compete for a reward challenge that involved a feast and participation in a capoeira routine, while the model wannabes learned moves for a photo-shoot challenge.

While I guess it would make sense to feature something indigenous to their location to be featured, it was really funny that they ended up being on back to back nights.

ANTM - The Girl From SoCal

This week the models had to pose with a fruit hat... in the slums of Sao Paolo... and make it 'fashion.' Is it just me or did all the talk about how their location was full of life and fun just a diversion to make us forget that these Americans were coming into the poorer neighborhoods to exploit the look and feel for the sake of some quasi-models? Also, notice how they cart those kids around to be in the background of every shot. Models are discussed individually in the order I rank their photos:

I thought for a second Fo might actually have gone home, then she wasn't in the bottom 2? The whole thing about trying to emulate the Chiquita Banana, but not at the same time was such crap. However, acting so immature about the whole 'this is a competition' thing with Teyona does not a winner make. She's not making the top three. I do love her photo this week. It's not her fault she looks like their inspiration. I feel like the direction this week was too contradictory to blame Fo for acting too much.

It's really funny that this pic was chosen for Allison because it's actually the same old face Nigel hates, and he loved this. She had a lot of variety from what we saw during her shoot, but of course Tyra chooses this one so during the finals they can look back at all the same expressions so she won't win. Her body positioning does help here though. Her talking about Carmen's death a la her nosebleed fixation was hilarious.

Celia is old. Did you know that? The judges keep giving us little clues about her age/appearance so she can get knocked out at third place when they give her the Renee/Melrose/Jade treatment. This photo isn't really that good, but the crossed legs and face kept her out of the bottom. Celia got lucky that Aminat and Natalie did actively poor rather than nothing like her. Still, even though she's just kind of standing there, I do like it. It's more the combination of her wardrobe and skin tone popping out from the background than anything she's doing.

Teyona's not mad at Fo for taking her frames... but she wants us to know how they're not cool anymore. The commentary about learning how to smile is just to show us progress so she can win. This photo is just average, but it would have ranked above Celia if it weren't for one thing. Janice would have never let someone who look 'amputeed' in their photo be called out second. Where is Teyona's right arm? We even saw Jay tell her to remember her body and keep her limbs in the shot.

Could Natalie's edit this episode be any more obvious this episode? /Chandler Bing voice. Seriously though, after reminding us all of where she's from continuously (Hannah's from Alaska anyone?) she complained the entire episode. The only thing that had me fooled for a second was when she wasn't one of the two people Jay criticized. I thought maybe she was just being set up to go home next week. She also kind of has the Jayla Bollywood shoot thing going on where she's a lot smaller in the frame than everyone else.

Aminat kind of did what I figured she would, but I am surprised she's still around. How many chances can she have? She's gone in the next two weeks with Fo. I guess I should have known during the episode that Aminat wouldn't have gone home. There was so much focus on Fo/Teyona and Natalie that she was almost invisible by comparison. Still, Paulina and Miss J were right in their critique. Even though Aminat altered it slightly by twisting her right arm, this is such a basic pose we see every cycle.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


I hate twitter. I hate what it stands for, I hate the smurf-like conjugation involved, I hate that it's the refuge of Ashton Kutcher and Spencer Pratt.

I'm not sure what made me decide to share this with you, but I've become aware how much of our pop-culture leaders have embraced this technology and it's somewhat frightening. Who needs an up to the second account of everyone else's life? It leads you no time whatsoever to actually live if you spend all this time writing it down for everyone else to read about.

However, every once in a while I see a story that makes me think Twitter's not all bad...

via attuworld (site NSFW)

Model Night - (Preview)

Wednesdays offer two modeling competition shows worth watching, even if it is just to make fun of them.

First, the six remaining girls on America's Next Top Model (cycle 12) head off to Sao Paolo, Brazil in their quest for a contract with covergirl and the right to appear on 2-3 episodes of next cycle. See who continues to impress the judges (Teyona, Celia) and who gets to go back to folding fleece pullovers at Old Navy (Aminat) on the CW at 8 EST.

If you're more interested in seeing some model-ass, head on over to Bravo at 10 EST for the second season of Make Me A Supermodel. It was pre-empted last week for the 'A-List' Awards, so I forget what's supposed to be happening, but I think they're down to the top ten. While a different dynamic from ANTM due to the inclusion of men, the judges are even worse - you've been warned.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

American Idol - Disco Night

This... is... American Idol.
For some reason they keep trying to make it seem like it's a good thing Matt got saved. I'm not buying it. Simon's dressed up for the night by wearing a light gray shirt as opposed to his usual dark. Moleman's looking extra Timberfake douchey this evening.

No video's this week? YAY! They're trying to come in on time.

Lil - I'm Every Woman - Chaka Khan
It's not a boring ballad, so that part's good. It is sung poorly, so that's bad. She almost seems out of breath and the glory note comes with this extreme close-up inside her mouth. Randy talks about how it doesn't say what kind of artist she is... because most disco songs can say a lot about singers these days. Kara's been waiting for her to sing an artist like Chaka Khan - because she's black? Jasmine should sing Rihanna. Lil should sing Mary or Chaka. Hmm... She's been every woman... but herself - courtesy of Kara's book of cheese. The judges want her to go home so bad. Ryan and Lil chat about their inner goddesses. Lil has really embraced the VFTW suggestion to up the attitude. I applaud her for trying to not be so boring.

Kris - She Works Hard For The Money - Donna Summer
The song about the bathroom attendant everyone incorrectly thinks is about a hooker? Really? Kris John Mayers it up. He does what he should do. Take the disco song, and un-disco it. This song makes me want McDonalds. Mmm... old marketing campaigns... The singing is the typical Kris performance. He's pretty consistent. Paula compares it to Santana, and then describes choosing a song by a woman as cross dressing. It is true that many guys wouldn't perform a female song. Adam doesn't count.

Mr. Dead Wife - September - Earth, Wind and Fire
He's kind of scatting. He's very smarmy. It's a little high for him. He's acting very comfortable, I'll give him that... but it almost seems like he doesn't think he'll ever get voted out. Also, those jeans are too tight. Old women love him! They have a sign. Randy was worried about the choice, even though it's kind of a cliche Danny type song. Why would Kara be worried about Danny trying to fit into a genre that's over the top and cheesy by nature? He is so full of himself. Every compliment is expected. Ha ha ha ha... Simon calls it awkward and clumsy and his smile faded so fast. UGH!

Allison - Hot Stuff - they didn't say and I'm not looking it up
She's being sultry on the stairs. You're only 16, calm down girl. It's a slowed down type performance that makes the song more 80s rock than disco or current. It's very average sounding. Eek... the bridge is really bad. Glory note! The judges are in spin mode trying to remind everyone that she can still sing. They pimp her a lot to hopefully get Lil/Anoop/Matt gone.

Adam Lambert - If I Can't Have You - from the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack
time for a 'vulnerable' performance. He can't do ballads. His voice is kind of theater sounding. It works for the over the top glam rock style, but it very obvious on the ballads. Paula's tearing up. Judges: blah, blah, blah. He's not going anywhere, but at least he looks like he can take compliments without being full of himself. Adam gives props to the guy who arranged the song for him - AI first! Paula looks like she's going to jump Adam after the show to try to turn him straight.

Moleman - Stayin' Alive - The Bee-Gees
It is kind of one of his better performances, but his Timberfakeness is cranked to 11. Ooh, the back-up singers are coming up front. Good for them. I want to vote for the Afro-girl. I'm sure the judges will love it. Eww. He's so sweaty. I haven't seen sweat like that on AI since Ruben. Kara's glad we're back to disco night. Wow. Matt's friend is so happy. She's falling over in her chair. She's the opposite of Whatevia. Simon says in the real world, that performance was desparate. I think it may be part of Operation: Save Allison, so I'll take it.

Anoop - Dim All The Lights
The pimp spot for Anoop? With Lil singing first, they're really hoping she goes. Anoop decided not to shave. It's not a good look. This song is so boring and adult contemporary. He doesn't stand a chance. Time to hit fast forward, which is saying something since I made it all the way through Gokey. Randy lets me know the last note was rough. Kara thinks this could be on the radio, which... coming soon to a doctor's office muzak near you. Paula teaches him how to smile. Simon says it's mediocre.

The judges want Lil and Anoop gone. I think Allison is in danger of being a "surprise" boot, but she wouldn't have been the lowest so the save might do her in. Matt had a 'good' enough performance to get his fans to vote en masse. I'm going to go with Lil, Anoop and Allison bottom three, with Allison hopefully being safe. Now to check dialidol and see if I'm right...

Yay, they finished on time!

Jazmine Sullivan - Fearless

I just got this album yesterday, and while I'm very impressed with her voice, this album is so unbalanced and imperfect. Unlike the Macy Gray CD I reviewed a few days ago, I agree with the order of the songs. It's ordered very well to present the songs for what they are. I think as a debut album Jazmine could have done a lot worse for herself, but some of these tracks are just bad.

We'll start with the good news. Highlights of the album (besides the singles Bust Your Windows, Need U Bad (which we'll get to later) and Lions, Tigers & Bears) include Call Me Guilty - the story of an abused woman deciding to shoot her man to save herself, Fear - in which Jazmine gives us a list of things to be afraid of in order to be relatable, and the ballad trio After The Hurricane, In Love With Another Man, and Dream Big - which are all about what the titles seems like they would be about.

Jazmine's voice definitely carries the CD through its weak points, and I think she has a lot of potential to release a more consistent sophomore effort.

The weak parts of this album are somewhat unfortunate, because I feel like a lot of them could easily have been salvaged. The first is the aforementioned single Need U Bad. While the vocal performance earned a Grammy nomination, Missy Elliot's production of the track seems unfinished. The faux-island sound and Pepa's contributions aren't really helping, and the drums have this weird triplet portion in the chorus that make the beat seem really inconsistent and flawed. One Night Stand takes everything bad about the Motown girl groups and flaunts it as something to be emulated. If she ever had the unfortunate task of making a music video for this song, picture the wardrobe to be identical to that of the song challenge on For the Love of Ray-J. If it weren't for the crappy backing vocals, I could even get behind this song, but every time I almost start to enjoy it the atonal echoing starts up again. Also, I don't care about your pancakes in the morning - which is the subject of the bridge. Finally, the bonus track, Switch! (exclamation not added), involves the screech sort of singing found in the PCD song Buttons.

My other problem with the album is the inconsistent message. The title is Fearless. Then she reveals that she's afraid of loving some man. By the end of the album, she's saying to fear is human and she has several of her own. I know the album title was probably chosen on purpose to directly challenge the songs, but it's so overtly inconsistent. Another consistency comes between the last two songs. During In Love With Another Man, Jazmine is sorry to say she doesn't have feelings for her man, but in Switch! she's more than happy to suggest that her date switch off with his best friend in exchange for hers.

Also, why does Missy always need to yell about what type of production this is? I guess since Ciara hadn't released anything for a while at the point this album came out Missy had to get her kicks somewhere, but it's a joke.

I would recommend downloading Bust Your Windows; Lions, Tigers & Bears; Call Me Guilty; Fear; and, In Love With Another Man. The rest are either run of the mill enough to leave behind or forgettable.

Let's All Go To The Movies - Obsessed

Let's take a minute for this Strange White Female/Disclosure/Perfect Stranger/Swimfan conglomeration, or rather, 2:30 -

Beyonce, Beyonce, Beyonce. "I'll show you crazy?" I know you want to be taken seriously as an actress, so you wanted to step out and do something that's not a musical. After all, there's only so many Carmen: A Hip-Hopera, Cadillac Records, Dreamgirls, Goldmember, Fighting Temptations, etc. out there for you to sing your way through. (Damn! I got all but Fighting Temptations and Pink Panther before I had to use IMDB) But this can not be the type of work you think you can look back on and be proud of. Anyway, my 10 favorite things about this preview are below... and by favorite, I mean the worst and easiest to make fun of.

10. The look Ali Larter gives at :14. 'I'm just a temp. Hee hee.' Varsity Blues was a long time ago. You're getting a little old to be the flirty slutty secretary.

9. The crappy score. I was two notes in before I knew it would be bad. It's such cliche thriller music.

8. "Is she pretty?" Don't ask questions you don't want answers to.

7. "You said you 'wish we could be together!'" Who does Ali Larter think she is? She's not Stan. This isn't an Eminem song.

6. What kind of babysitter let's someone in the house. I'm a little more lenient since Ali barged in, but call the cops. You should have seen some movies, girl.

5. Even worse, what kind of detective/social worker/anyone questions a man about a nude woman overdosing in his bed right in front of his wife? Or out in an open area? That has to be a breach of some sort of protocol.

4. The scene where Beyonce suddenly has a change of heart and tries to save Ali from falling to her death/twisted ankle.../broken leg at worst and then is pulled down as well obviously happens when there are at most 20 minutes left in the movie. It's like how the preview gives away that Hannah Montana will have some sort of concert at her farm place where she reveals her true identity but then gets to sing anyway. Stop giving away the ending, Hollywood!

3. Jerry O'Connell?

2. The crappy intertitles.
An office flirtation - umm... he's already at fault for flirting
An innocent temptation - temptation isn't innocent
Two different perceptions - his face says he knows exactly what she wants
What you hide makes you innocent - if you're hiding something, you're guilty of it
what you reveal makes you guilty - no
and the truth lies somewhere in between - fair enough?

1. 1:13
No, Jerry O'Connell. Bad.

Also, what kind of e-mail address is TempGirl? They can make up realistic ones for the others in the folder, but not for her?
Lastly, how is the man is this movie the same man currently on The Office? He doesn't look like himself...

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Amazing Race - Playing the Race Card

The "race card" actually applies to both kind of races from last night's episode. The five remaining teams flew over to China where they had one person use trained birds to fish and then they had to either learn ballroom dance or write some calligraphy.

1. I took a Chinese class once and my professor told us about the bird fishing thing. They tie a string around their necks (visible in the episode) so that the bird can't swallow the fish, then you can just kind of squeeze the fish out. It was actually interesting to see in action.

2. Jamie/Cara are so annoying. Well, actually it's just one of them. The one without the dark circles under her eyes. I think that one's Jamie. It's as if she's on a one woman mission to make sure she leaves everyone she comes across with a worse opinion of Americans than they had before they met her. This week, the girls couldn't learn how to properly dance together with a large group of Chinese couples. They didn't seem to understand that by barging into random other people that they couldn't possibly be doing the correct moves. I did laugh when after being checked in (4th place) Cara (or whichever is the normal one) paused before asking if there were five teams that leg. It probably gets a little confusing running around the world trying to keep track of everything.

3. Luke/Margie vs. Kisha/Jen
Okay, so let's start from the beginning. Jen says how she's not afraid to push someone to get ahead. Luke's really competative. Combined with the previews for the night, whatever could this mean? When getting to the first cluebox in China, both the teams were really oblivious to the box right next to them. The bored camera guys who are sick of being there ended up pointing to the box giving its location away. Luke was blocking the box from Jen, so she kind of jumped around him and he threw up an elbow to block her. That's when she called him a bitch complete with the ASL sign for it. (educational television!) Luke wasn't aware of the insult until his mother told him and he reacted like he would have gotten violent if he had been aware of it at the time. Kisha/Jen were still a little angry from a previous leg when Margie/Luke had their cab driver lie to Kisha/Jen's.

After getting to the next clue box, Jen reached the box first. Her momentum, combined with Luke trying to stop himself right behind her, pushed her into the box. Luke tried to jump in and grab a clue over her shoulder, so Jen pushed him away. Margie yelled at Kisha for some reason. Later, she told some made up version of events to Luke where he was even more of a victim.

After checking in at the same time, Phil got the teams to talk about it. Margie tried to get Luke to not talk about it, but they said Jen pushed him and called him a bitch. Jen admitted it, saying it was a bitch move and told their side of the story, very down the middle, sharing equal blame about running into the clue box. When it was time for Margie/Luke's turn again, Kisha laughed to herself. It was very obviously at the situation, as if she couldn't believe it was happening. This caused Margie to flip out screaming that they were laughing at her son for being deaf.

Now, I understand that a mother wants to protect her son, but this was not happening. Kisha/Jen and Phil all said that wasn't what they were doing, and Luke was like, "what's going on." Margie, the only one he could rely on for information, told him her made up version of how the girls were anti-deaf. He understandable reacted to this by being very upsdet, but did say some things, he'll probably regret later.

The worst part of the event was when Margie played the race card. She turned to the sisters and said that they should understand being made fun of and being different because they're black. That's crossing a line. So after calling the sisters the wrong name (I'm wiling to write it off as just an innocent mistake, as opposed to not being able to tell two African Americans apart) she's assuming that because these girls are black, they'll be used to being made fun of? Also, being deaf is not a race. I'm not even sure how to say what I'm feeling about this, I'm just shocked that she said that.

The best part of the exchange? Tammy/Victor standing there awkwardly not sure what to do.

Oh, but point to me for guessing the previews right. I knew Luke wouldn't actually be the victim he was acting like (based on Margie's info)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Amazing Race - Bitch! (preview)

That's the word of the night, apparently. Before I see the actual episode itself, I have a bone to pick with the ads for tonight's episode. The preview aired after last week's episode clearly showed Luke and Jen both being a little rough when getting one clue, then it shows Luke plowing into the back of her at a presumably later clue box, knocking her down. We saw Jen call him a bitch, later defending her insult by calling his actions a "bitch move." When the two teams are on the mat together, there's some sort of breakdown with Luke storming off and calling Jen a bitch. Neither is presented in a positive light, but it actually makes Luke appear as if he initiated a large amount of the rough play and couldn't handle being called a name.

The preview airing during the rest of the week was completely different. We see some of the same aggressive racing to the clue box, but at the mat Margie accuses the sisters of making fun of her son's lack of hearing. Suddenly, Luke is a victim again. How dare those girls call him names.

Now, the show can make any story they want, but Luke and Margie have gone out of their way to show that they are just as ruthless and aggressive as any other team. After using the blind yield, Luke was called a 'diabolical deaf guy' by Mike. I find it hard to believe that a team playing as hard as this mother-son team are suddenly having a break down because he was called a bitch. And I find it hard to believe that the sisters, who haven't been shown to be rude and whiny like Jamie/Cara, would actually be making fun of him for being deaf. My guess is they're laughing at what he's saying, not how he's saying it.

This is all before I see the episode of course, and it'll be interesting to see how much I misinterpreted.

Macy Gray - Big

Overview: With another studio album slated for later this year, I thought I would look back at the last release by Macy Gray. I got into this album somewhat recently, so some songs are still in the initial phase where I over-praise or over-criticize. Although I make distinctions between faster and slower songs, the majority of these songs would seem very subdued compared to many other artists. These description only apply when compared to the other tracks on the album.

If you don't feel like reading the track by track breakdown below, let me summarize:
put this album on shuffle/random whatever mixing option you have. The order of the songs makes no sense. The second half of the CD is much better overall than the first, with the top tracks being Strange Behavior (track 8) and Treat Me Like Your Money (track 11).

1. Finally Made Me Happy (feat. Natalie Cole)
This song takes a while to get going, and I wonder at first why it's the first song on the album, but by the time Cole scats all over the track for the first time I'm pulled in. Neither Cole nor Gray have the types of voices usually found in mainstream music, but their respective grit compliment each other greatly.

2. Shoo Be Doo
The flow from the first track kind of slides right into this song. We're still in a comfortable zone away from the sounds that would have made this single more popular, but the result is a pleasing and authentic loungy/soul experience. Everything Gray does, I believe comes from her, not someone saying 'add some sort of run here.'

3. What I Gotta Do
My first instinct on this song would be that an introspective slower track like this usually isn't so close to the beginning of the disc. Enter the Shrek 3 soundtrack, where this song takes on a new connotation. I'm not really sure about the nature of the song, and whether it is meant to apply to Macy, Shrek or some strange combination of both.

4. Okay
The opening snare announces a return to form. JTimberake and provide some backing vocals in this song announcing a jilted lover's independence and survival. The fake-child singing would usually get on my nerves, but it works here.

5. Glad You're Here (feat. Fergie)
Changing pace again, Gray presents a ballad that pretty much sounds like the title suggests. Woman is glad her is there. Fergie is sufficient at singing the chorus and limiting herself from going to outside that box.

6. Ghetto Love
A more up-tempo track gathers more swagger and utilizes the country's fascination with spelling in their music. Whether learning how to spell bananas, glamorous, or ghetto, we're suckers for educational music.

7. One For Me
The slower groove found here is a nice relaxing song about falling in love. I find myself starting to not care for the songs as I listen to the album in order. I'm not sure who was in charge of the album's order, but alternating between up-tempo and slower songs makes it very difficult to establish a rhythm while listening.

8. Strange Behavior
I love this song. It's a quirky tale of love, murder and insurance fraud. It's not overdone in instrumentation which grants a more innocent feel as Gray sings about shooting a fictional husband. It's also not her first song about committing murder.

9. Slowly
Picking up slightly is a song about taking it easy in a relationship.

10. Get Out
Another pairing of Macy and JT provides another up-tempo success. It's as if for the final few tracks, someone decided to change the feel of the album, but it's working.

11. Treat Me Like Your Money (feat.
Featuring a sample of "You Spin Me Round (like a Record)" [take that, Flo Rida] and a verse by, this is another song that deserves better placement on this album. It's kind of danceable, in a weird way that wouldn't really suit a club without a big remix, but it's definitely music you can shake to listening to it alone.

12. Everybody
This is the kind of announcement, 'here I am' song that usually comes first on albums. When the first line is "get on the dance floor, and shake it with me," that would have been a welcome change to Finally Made Me Happy.

When I usually listen to this CD, I put it on shuffle and I love it. Listening to the songs in order makes me angry at whoever designed this order. Everybody should be track 1, with Get Out and Treat Me Like Your Money moving up before What I Got To Do. Moving these to the front will give Big a much stronger initial impression that I think would add to its presentation as an album, rather than a disjointed collection of songs. Even though I'm coming across as a lot more critical than I actually feel about the album, I really do enjoy a lot of what it offers. I think Macy Gray is very underrated and that Big is a great addition to a soul/r&b collection.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

A Word On Spoilers

Just so it's out there:
I write about tv shows after I see the episode. It's up to you to not go online looking around blogs if you missed your favorite show the night before if you don't want to find out what happened. I might speculate about what I think will happen, and I'd like to think that I've grown accustomed to television editing. I will not post anything I know is a spoiler here.

As far as movies go (I'm planning on watching Notorious [Hitchcock, not B.I.G.] this weekend), if it's out on DVD, you've had your chance. Either skip over the post, or you've been warned. I don't ever plan on transcribing a movie, but if I give away an extra plot point or an ending every once in a while, I wouldn't be surprised or upset.

Harper's Island - Episode 2: Crackle

I love this show. I'm a huge fan of slasher flicks, and Harper's Island combines a soap opera with a slasher flick while stirring in enough comedy, action and drama to keep me entertained in between deaths. Which, that's what this show is all about.

All of the characters can be referred to by their show given titles, such as The Groom and The Socialite. This makes it much easier to keep track of them since it is a fairly large ensemble cast running around. The Groom and his soon to be Bride host their wedding guests on Harper's Island, off the coast of Seattle. The island used to be the vacation destination/summer home of our couple until a crazed killer struck taking down a half dozen victims. As the guests interact with the locals and people have begun to disappear, it looks like the wedding may have to be postponed.

I'm not going to pretend that this show is perfect. For the sake of time, several characters are fairly one-dimensional and when a random bit-player is given screen time, it means the end for them. However, up until this episode the killer has been able to keep him/herself and his deeds a secret. A short message from the deceased's phone and voila- an excuse for them to have disappeared. Now that a body has been found, it will be interesting to see the pace of the show change.

Harper's Island is on CBS at 10:00 EST on Thursdays. It's against Private Practice and Southland, so I think we can all make the right decision and watch this show. The first two episodes can be viewed in high quality at

American Idol Update

Via Vote for the Worst, who in turn got this from MJ's Big Blog:

It looks like I was right about Simon and the save. In an interview after the results show, Simon revealed his desire to see the save get used. He also predicted that if Matt went home, Anoop would probably be in the bottom, and he wouldn't want to save him.

Story at Vote for the Worst

Friday, April 17, 2009


I think I've grown tired of NBC's action/comedy Chuck. I watched it irregularly during the first season and tried to step up my loyalty to it this year when I added the show to my DVR list. Now I'm nearly a month behind watching it and I'm not sure if it's even worth the effort.

For those unfamiliar with the premise, Chuck is our hero- an everyday nerd who works at a Best Buy look-a-like store. When a database of government secrets gets loaded on to his brain, Chuck becomes involved in the world of espionage and intrigue. He is joined by agents Sarah and Casey who must try to blend into his life, his sister and her fiance (wedding date: season finale), and the Buy More is full of cleverly written supporting cast members.

The hardest part about letting this show go is that I enjoy watching it. It's cleverly written, inserts pop culture references seamlessly (what other show can handle a performance of Toto's Africa, along with other nerd paraphernalia strung around the sets), knows how to use guest stars to their full potential, and has an attractive cast (at least those with speaking roles) with someone for anyone. It's in a tough timeslot - Monday's are full with House, Dancing with the Stars, Gossip Girl, and How I Met Your Mother all competing against each other, but I don't watch any of those shows regularly either.

What's sad about this, is that my problem maintaining my interest in the show is not isolated. Even though it's well-loved by those who watch it, the future of the show is still unclear. The ratings are nothing to write home about and it's on a network in an unenviable position right now.

Parks and Recreation

I really wanted to believe in this show. I thought the cast was great, the premise was funny, and the people behind it knew what they were doing. Instead, we've ended up with an Office clone without the funny.

On last night's episode, Leslie Knope took to the streets to gain support for her pit-to-park project. Along the way her teams encounter a confused old man, a registered sex offended too interested in the park, and a woman opposed to the park who gets the full Michael Scott school of arguing thrown at her. When Leslie holds a town meeting, the audience is extremely anti-park. Leslie ends up filibustering her own meeting to avoid a vote so her project can live to fight another day. It's very awkward.

1. Their college intern is under-used. Rather than pay an actress to stand in the scene every episode and have minimal things to do or say, why not take advantage of the character? Last night she got to be a plant at the town hall meeting, but the annoyed man living with his grandmother had more lines than the series regular.

2. I can understand that it takes a few episodes sometimes for the writers and staff to find their groove and get going. The pilot episode of The Office was really awkward and not that funny also. I did see a lot of improvement in last night's show vs. the premiere. However, I don't know how long NBC plans on giving this show before pulling the plug. With Jay Leno destroying the network next fall, a lot of shows have to go and this will probably be one of them.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

American Idol - Movie Week

So the power of veto - I mean, the "judges' save" - was finally used. Matt fell into the bottom again this week, only this time he would have been eliminated. What bothers me about the decision to save him, isn't whether or not I feel like he should have been eliminated (which, yes, he did), but rather that it was clear the judges only used the save this week to make sure they got to use it. Simon knows what's going on with the show. If they let Matt go home this week, they had a good chance of ending up with Anoop or Lil with the least amount of votes next time. Neither of them present good options to use their veto. The judges needed to use the save to justify adding it this season and stringing along the contestants and there just hasn't been a 'shocking' elimination this year that would have really warranted its usage. Next week, two go home and they have to sing disco... because remember how this singing competition/not a singing competition is looking for a new and current artist? I'm guessing Matt will be safe since his fans will go into overdrive after he was almost sent home. That leaves Anoop and Lil as the obvious boots, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Allison or Kris go depending on what the order is/how they do next week.

There were two moments I really enjoyed last night.

1. Lil called out the judges for contradicting themselves constantly. Their borderline racist insistence that she sing Mary/Mariah and nothing else (especially not Bette/Celine/other white female balladeers) has been getting on my nerves for weeks now and I'm glad she let them know it's obvious to everyone watching.

2. Randy's insecurity on the judging panel is so amusing to me. Every time the judges are introduced he has to boo Simon over all the cheers. Because he's so funny, not because he needs to be the center of attention or anything. And I loved how after Simon interrupted to compliment Kris on his performance that he didn't get to critique the night before, Randy had to do the same thing later on. 'If Simon gets to do it, I do to!'

"Greetings and Salutations"

Welcome to my (hopefully temporarily) empty blog. I figured I should introduce myself and my ideas really quick. I'm a media junkie, including movies, television, music and the world of celebrity in general. I'll do my best to stay away from gossip blog territory, but no promises if something important turns up. This is mostly a forum to discuss, criticize and even sometimes praise items in American Pop Culture that I come across from this week on. Thanks again and stay posted.

Inspiration for name: