2.28.2008

Four more say buh-bye

I didn't get a chance to post about the girls last night, and work got in the way of my personal stuff, so I couldn't do it today either. (Hate when that happens.) In any case, I don't really have much to say about them anyway, except a few observations before I watch the elimination show (on Tivo, of course!):

1. The blondes separated themselves this week. Brooke and Kristy Lee were pretty good (the two on the left). Kady and Alaina, not so much.

2. Instead of narrowing down to the top 6 guys and top 6 girls, I think they should narrow down to the top 12 singers, period. I think this year's group would have 8 guys and 4 girls. I'm just not that excited about the girls this year.

3. However, I do love Ramiele Malubay -- she sang "Don't Leave Me This Way" and though she got panned by the judges, I loved it. (Probably cuz she did a Disco song! Extra points for that!)

OK, that's really all I have. I'm going to watch the elimination show now. Thank god for Tivo...and fast forwarding!

First to go is Jason Yeager (Skunk Boy) - not surprising. What is surprising is that the other Jason is safe. Now to the girls. Wow...Alexandrea is out, but Amanda (with the Bride of Frankenstein hair) is safe! Too bad people couldn't vote after hearing Amanda sing the group song at the beginning of tonight's show.

Next girl to go is going to be one of the blondes. I can not tell them apart. Seriously. Kady is safe, Alaina is going home. She looks pissed. And she's having an emotional breakdown. She squeaked out, "I can sing!" (Oh, okay, she's the one that did "Hopefully Devoted to You." Just hearing the title lets you know she chose the wrong song. She's the one on the right in the picture above.)

And now, Robbie and Luke are the bottom two. I suspect it will be Luke to go. Oops...it's ROBBIE! Wow, I'm surprised! Can't really say much more than that.

Now we're down to the top 16. Let's see what happens next week!

2.27.2008

Rating AI's 10 guys

I watched the show last night and tried to rate the guys' performance in order of MY preference. I know people (Cyndi) are going to disagree with a couple of placements, but they'll just have to deal. :o)

By the way, what a difference a week makes. The top guys from last week were just so-so, while some of the unknowns really stepped it up.

10. Jason Castro - Dreadlock Boy. Sang a Bee Gee's tune (I Just Wanna Be Your Everything). Kinda weak, dawg. Simon said it was "schmaltzy." Whatever that means.

9. Robbie Carrico - No-Bandana Tonight Boy. He decided to go without the bandana this week, while singing "Hot Blooded." I didn't care for it--missed the falsetto on the chorus of the song. There was no power behind his voice. Which is what I think Randy meant by saying he doesn't have a "rock voice."

8. Luke Menard - 90210 Boy. (He looks like Luke Perry.) He sang a Queen song ("Killer Queen"?). I thought it was a good choice, and Paula agreed. Oh dear...what does that say about me? Simon, on the other hand, said it was a mistake because Luke suffered by comparison to Freddy Mercury, who actually had personality. I'd have to agree with that.

7. Jason Yeager - My friend Valerie calls him Skunk Boy. He sang a Doobie Bros. song and had a grand old time. I thought his voice sounded good. Randy didn't like it, and Simon said it was awkward and ordinary. I'll have to agree with Valerie that Jason will probably be outta there tomorrow night.

6. Michael Johns - What Happened Boy? I hate to have Michael here in the middle of the pack, but he was just okay last night. I agree with the judges that it wasn't his best.

5. David Cook - Self proclaimed "Word Nerd" Boy. Sang "All Right Now" (I have no idea if that's the true title of the song) and played guitar. Simon says he has no charisma--I guess I can see what he means, but David gets brownie points from me for being a lefty.

4. Danny Noriega - Pucker Up Boy. I couldn't stop staring at his lips after last week's conversation. I thought he sang really well, and as Simon said, he stands out in a crowd.

3. David Archuleta. Cutie Pie Boy. This is the one Cyndi's going to fight me about. While I thought he gave a great performance, I just didn't like it as much as the next two. Clearly I'm in the minority judging from all the screaming girls in the audience. Also, I'm over his humbleness.

2. Chikezie - Blast from the 70's or 80's Boy. I think Chikezie got a little confused--they were singing 70's Classics, but he came dressed like he was from 1985. Two polo shirts on, one lime green, one blue, with the collars up. Interesting. Didn't matter though because he sang his little heart out on a Donny Hathaway song. (Don't know the title.) I loved it. There's a part where he says, "You will know my name" (or something like that), and he pointed at Simon--it was a cute dig for Simon calling him Jacuzzi last week.

By the way, Donny Hathaway's daughter is one of the AI backup singers.

1. David Hernandez - From Out of Nowhere Boy. What?! Last week I didn't know who this kid was--had never seen him before. This week he sang the heck out of "Papa Was a Rolling Stone." At first I found his facial expressions annoying, but then I got into it and it was definitely my favorite performance of the night. Simon said it was the best vocal of the night, so far (he sang 6th; Michael, Jason C., Luke, Robbie, and Danny preceded him.). Simon likes the fact that David doesn't get childish about getting criticism, but instead takes it to heart and tries to improve.

So that's it. The girls will sing tonight and we'll see who gets voted off Thursday. Again, I'll agree with my friend Valerie and say that Jason Y will get voted off. And I think the other one to go will be Jason C. Jasons go bye-bye.

2.25.2008

Ailey and Ailey II

I'm happy to say that I got a good dose of Alvin Ailey last week. About two months ago, my friend Laura asked if I'd be interested in seeing Ailey II at a small theater in my county. Ailey II features young dancers in training for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. I said of course, and she got tickets. About a month later, I got a flyer in the mail that the AAADT was going to be at the Kennedy Center. One of the dances to be performed was called, "Flowers" and was about Janis Joplin. [My dad told me a while ago (maybe a year or more) that my grandmother used to really like Janis Joplin. Really?! I was so surprised. I didn't know much about Janis Joplin other than the fact that she was a San Francisco hippie who died of a drug overdose, and who had that great song, "Piece of My Heart." I went out and got a "Best of" compilation, and have been a fan ever since.]

ANYWAY....AAADT would be performing "Flowers" and I was curious to see it, so I enlisted my folks to go with me (Deb couldn't make it), and got tickets. As it turns out, the tickets I got for this show were four days earlier than the tickets we'd gotten for Ailey II.

So, my folks and I saw the AAADT last Wednesday--the performances were wonderful. We got to see Renee Robinson perform--she's orignally from the DC area, and is very popular. She's been with the company since 1981! And danced with Ailey II before that. Wow. We also got to see Guillermo Asca, who's become a favorite over the years. The "Flowers" performance was good, but sad. The majority of it showed Janis' introduction to drug and eventual downfall. "Revelations," as always, was spectactular.

On Sunday, Laura and I treated our moms to lunch and to the Ailey II performance. These young dancers were AMAZING. And so strong. This show was on a tiny stage. We sat in the front row, literally 5 feet away from the dancers when they were at the front of the stage. Having them right in front of me allowed me to see just how strong these people are. This group also performed "Revelations" and it was fun to see it so up close and personal. My mom said that she wanted to give a standing ovation when it was over, but if we stood up, we would've been standing face to face with the dancers, and it would've been a little awkward. So, we just clapped with our arms in the air and really loudly. Rosita Adamo was our favorite performer. When she was on stage, you just couldn't take your eyes off her. She had such a presence and was so beautiful and graceful and STRONG. I suspect we will see her dancing with AAADT in the near future. What a great afternoon!

*By the way, I saw a documentary about Janis where she said one of her big influences was Big Mama Thornton. I've become a big fan of Big Mama's too. Good old blues!

Oscar recap

OK, so it seems fortune telling is not my forté. My predictions weren't that great, but I got some right. Quick recap:

Supporting Actress
Cate Blanchett, I'm Not There
Ruby Dee, American Gangster Will win
Saoirse Ronan, Atonement
Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone My choice
Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton WON

I'm kinda glad Tilda Swinton won because she gave the most amusing acceptance speech. She mentioned "buttock" and "nipples" within 30 seconds. That's probably a first for the Oscars.

Supporting Actor
Casey Afflect, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men Will win WON
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Charlie Wilson's War
Hal Holbrook, Into the Wild
Tom Wilkinson, Michael Clayton My choice

Yay, I got one right! Javier (or, Xavier, as Regis Philbin called him during the pre-show) looked so handsome, and I loved the part of his acceptance that he spoke in Spanish.

Best Actress
Cate Blancett, Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Julie Christie, Away From Her Will win
Marion Cotillard, La Vie en Rose My choice WON
Laura Linney, The Savages
Ellen Page, Juno

Yay! This time, the person I wanted to win, did. Ms. Cotillard was so sweet and seemed truly surprised by the win. I loved the huge hug she gave Forest Whitaker when she got to the stage.

Best Actor
George Clooney, Michael Clayton
Daniel Day-Lewis,There Will Be Blood Will win My choice WON
Johnny Depp, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Tommy Lee Jones, In the Valley of Elah
Viggo Mortensen, Eastern Promises

Another one right--maybe I didn't do as badly as I thought. (Of course, everyone knew who was going to win this award.) By the way, Bill Hader (right) did a dead-on impression of Daniel Plainview on Saturday Night Live over the weekend.

Director
Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood
Ethan Coen & Joel Coen, No Country for Old Men My choice WON
Tony Gilroy, Michael Clayton
Jason Reitman, Juno
Julian Schnabel, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly Will win

Another win that I wanted to happen. I has happy for these guys.

Original Screenplay
Brad Bird; story by Bird, Jim Capobianco, and Jan Pinkava, Ratatouille
Diablo, Juno Will win My choice WON
Tony Gilroy, Michael Clayton
Tamara Jenkins, The Savages
Nancy Oliver, Lars and the Real Girl

Another one right! Woo-hoo! This was one of my favorite wins of the evening. The other was "Falling Slowly" winning Best Song from Once. Once and Juno were my favorite movies of last year.

Adapted Screenplay
Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood
Ethan Coen & Joel Coen, No Country for Old Men WON
Christopher Hampton, Atonement Will win My choice
Ronald Harwood, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Sarah Polley, Away From Her

Oops. Missed this one completely. I'm glad the Coen Bros. won this too. I'll have to pick up the book some day.

Picture
Atonement
Juno My choice
Michael Clayton
No Country for Old Men WON
There Will Be Blood Will win

If you'll recall, I was torn as to whether No Country or Blood would win this. I should've gone with the Coen Bros. Oh well!!

I think it was a good show last night. Some observations:
  • I thought Jon Stewart did a good job...I just get a kick out of him, no matter what. My two favorite lines were: 1) he described Away from Her as a movie about a woman who forgets her own husband. JS then quipped, "Or, as Hillary Clinton calls it, 'The feel good movie of the year!" and 2) when he said that if you see an African American or a woman as the U.S. President, it means "an asteroid is about to hit the Statue of Liberty."

  • My list of best dressed: Jennifer Garner, Cate Blanchett, Helen Mirren, Katherine Heigl, and Marion Cotillard.

  • It's was Oscar's 80th anniversary, and though they made the show longer than it probably needed to be, I really enjoyed the various clip montages they showed of previous winners in the major categories.

That's all I've got. I'm curious to hear what anyone else thought.

2.24.2008

Quick Oscar predictions

The Oscars are on in 90 minutes and I realized I hadn't made any predictions yet. I haven't seen all the movies in the major categories like I have in the past, so in some cases I'll just have to go on what I've read, gut feelings, and pure guessing. I'll note who I'd like to win, and who I think will win. Here we go:

Supporting Actress
Cate Blanchett, I'm Not There
Ruby Dee, American Gangster Will win
Saoirse Ronan, Atonement
Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone My choice
Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton

Ruby Dee won the Golden Globe award, and The Academy tends to reward actors long after they deserved the award. (For example, she should've gotten one for Do the Right Thing in 1989. Amy Ryan was terrific as a down & out woman whose daughter was kidnapped. You definitely "felt her pain."

Supporting Actor
Casey Afflect, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men Will win
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Charlie Wilson's War
Hal Holbrook, Into the Wild
Tom Wilkinson, Michael Clayton My choice

Javier Bardem has a lot of momentum going in to the awards--and I wouldn't be upset if he won. He gave a very chilling and memorable performance. Tom Wilkinson's performance was one of the things I liked about Michael Clayton. I still don't get all the hype about that movie, but when I saw it so many months ago, I remember thinking what a great actor he is and that he deserved a nomination.

Best Actress
Cate Blancett, Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Julie Christie, Away From Her Will win
Marion Cotillard, La Vie en Rose My choice
Laura Linney, The Savages
Ellen Page, Juno

I watched Away from Her last night and won't be surprised one bit if she wins tonight. She was wonderful. She played a character who bravely faced the fact that she was succumbing to Alzheimers. That's an Oscar-worth role right there. But, Marion Cotillard as Edith Piaf was magnificent. She was in every scene of the movie and it was impossible to take my eyes off her. Julie Christie played more of a supporting role (in my opinion), since the movie was really about the character's husband.

Best Actor
George Clooney, Michael Clayton
Daniel Day-Lewis,There Will Be Blood Will win My choice
Johnny Depp, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Tommy Lee Jones, In the Valley of Elah
Viggo Mortensen, Eastern Promises

I saw There Will Be Blood last weekend and found Daniel Day-Lewis to be mesmerizing. An Oscar is well-deserved.

Director
Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood
Ethan Coen & Joel Coen, No Country for Old Men My choice
Tony Gilroy, Michael Clayton
Jason Reitman, Juno
Julian Schnabel, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly Will win

According to IMDB, Julian Schnabel and this movie have won 26 out of 30 nominations. He won the Golden Globe, so I expect him to win here. Unfortunately, this is the one movie in this category that I didn't see, so I'm just going based on what's happened so far. Of the movies I saw, I thought No Country was best directed--I can only describe it as very tight and concise. Whatever that means. I think you'll know what I mean when you see the movie.

Original Screenplay
Brad Bird; story by Bird, Jim Capobianco, and Jan Pinkava, Ratatouille
Diablo, Juno Will win My choice
Tony Gilroy, Michael Clayton
Tamara Jenkins, The Savages
Nancy Oliver, Lars and the Real Girl

Nice that so many women are in this category this year. I think Juno is an underdog in the other categories in which its nominated, but that the Academy will want to recognize it in some way. They'll do it here. And they should!

Adapted Screenplay
Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood
Ethan Coen & Joel Coen, No Country for Old Men
Christopher Hampton, Atonement Will win My choice
Ronald Harwood, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Sarah Polley, Away From Her

Again, I think the Academy will want to recognize Atonement somehow, and will do it here. I haven't read the book, but I just get the feeling that capturing the twists and turns from the book to put onto film must've been extremely difficult.

Picture
Atonement
Juno My choice
Michael Clayton
No Country for Old Men
There Will Be Blood Will win

I'm torn as to whether No Country or There Will Be Blood will win. I give Blood the edge because the plot was a little more complex. Now, Juno was my favorite movie last year and I'd LOVE to see it win. And deep down, I do think there's a chance it might. Votes for Blood and No Country might cancel each other out, and Juno could slip in. Just like Little Miss Sunshine won over Saving Private Ryan and Life is Beautiful. I'll keep my fingers crossed!

OK. It's now 7:45--the show will be on in 45 minutes. Can't wait to see how everything plays out!

2.23.2008

Another resemblance

I was just looking at the picture of Colton Berry, who was just voted off of American Idol. Before he sang on Tuesday night, he bragged (if that's what you want to call it) about looking like Ellen DeGeneres. I just realized that he looks more like Snow Miser*. What do you think?

*Links to .wav file

   

Second year in the running

Last year, I was entered into fellow blogger Ookami Snow's competition to find his new favorite blog. It was fun to read the updates each week, and I was so excited to make it into the Top 8 out of 32. I also discovered a bunch of new blogs along the way, and continue to read some of them today.

Welp, I'm in the running again this year, and have just won my bracket for round one. There are a bunch of new blogs to check out and I'm looking forward to seeing how the competition turns out.

Wish me luck!

2.22.2008

Four down, eight to go

The first two guys, and first two girls were voted off of American Idol last night. I predicted correctly that Garrett Haley and Colton Berry would be the first two guys to go. As for the girls, it was JoAnne Borgella and Amy Davis.



Amy deserved to go, I'm not that sure about JoAnne. There were others who were worse than she was, but I don't remember who. That's because they all look alike. It was like I watched the same person perform four different times. Here's what I mean:



From L-R, these are Kady Malloy, Alaina Whitaker, Brooke White, and Kristy Lee Cook. I think Alaina Whitaker was worse than JoAnne, but then again, it could've been Kady Malloy! I'm just not sure. (To be fair, I will say that I can tell Brooke White from the others, and she sings much better than the other three.) Otherwise, these girls' singing doesn't stand out and is forgettable, and their all looking just alike doesn't help. They don't stand out in any way.

Just an observation.

2.21.2008

American Idol's Top 12 Girls

I'm not going to be able to watch the girls performances until at least Friday, so I will direct you instead to Lisa de Moraes' thorough We Watch So You Don't Have To recap at washingtonpost.com.

Enjoy!

2.19.2008

And they're off!

It's time for America to start weeding down the top 24 contestants on American Idol. The top 12 guys performed tonight, the girls will go tomorrow. The guys are singing songs from the 60's, and I took notes as I watched:

First up: David Hernandez. I've never seen him before in my life. Where's he been during all the try-out shows?? OK, they just showed a clip of Simon telling the guy that he voted no, and that David would have to work hard to prove himself. OK, I remember him now. Singing a gospel-ly "Wait 'Til the Midnight Hour." He sounds fine, but doesn't stand out—-nothing special. Randy liked it, and the gospel feel. Paula said he has brilliant vocals. Simon said it was better than he expected. Told David to loosen up a bit. Simon said, "I didn't hear anything distinct in your voice." Hey, that's what I said!

2. Chikezie. He's already using just his first name? (His name is something like Chikezie Ezie...he should stick with the whole thing...at least until he gets to the top 10!) Singing a revamped and unrecognizable version of "I Love You More Today than Yesterday" and singing it flatly. I think the notes are too low. He's a cutie though. His mom (or some lady in the audience) is getting her groove on. Randy says he needs to make things new, fresh, young. Paula is beaming—made comment that he's lost a lot of weight. And that he's a throwback to old R&B. Simon starts with "Here's my problem..." Uh-oh. Simon hated the whole performance. "It was old-fashioned, corny, cheesy..." (Oh, and Simon called him "Jacuzzi.")

3. David Cook. Singing "Happy Together." I like his voice, but not on this song. He needs a good rock song, methinks. OK, the tempo sped up and he rocked it out a little bit. It was decent. Randy said he "worked it out and made a rock joint out of Happy Together...dude, it was CRAZY!" (I don't know about all that.) Paula said "it's worthy of great praise." Simon said it was good, though he shouted a little in the middle. Simon said he'd never heard the song sung like that before, and that David almost made it believable. Whatever that means.

4. Jason Yeager. Singing..."Moon River"?! Interesting song choice. His voice waivers a bit, but he sounds ok. He's got a nice tone to his voice. Randy: pretty good job. Pointed out that the song is harder to sing than one might think. Paula echoed what Randy said and then said her first ballet recital was to that song. There was a collective awwwww.... Simon said he came across much older than he is, and that it was a cruise ship performance. He said young people would be sitting at home with question marks over their heads.

5. Robbie Carrico. Comes out with the cool rocker look, i.e., wearing a bandana over his long hair. He starts singing, "One is the loneliest number...." What is this song called? "One"? Doesn't matter--he's the best so far. Randy said it's his favorite Three Dog Night joint. Randy was moved. Paula said it was the perfect song for him, and he's 'authentic.' Simon said "it's the only performance we've seen tonight which has any semblance of making sense....It's the only 'current' performance."

6. David Archuleta. OK, he's singing Motown – "You Better Shop Around." It's good, but still not outstanding. Randy loved it. Paula sees an older soul who knows what's best for him. Simon says, "when you got it, you got it." And that it was the best performance of the night. Huh? (David didn't feel it was his best, so he's shocked. Which reminds me of something scandalous I saw on the TMZ TV show—-apparently he won a TV contest or two when he was younger, and he's used to performing in front of large audiences (he was on Jenny Jones for crying out loud!). Oh, and he met and sang for Kelly Clarkson and Justin Guarini. Alright, that's it. Kick him off the show!)

Oy. We're only halfway through? Sometimes these two-hour shows are too much!

7. Here comes Danny Noriega. He's the one that "found himself" over the past year. (He's got nice eyes, by the way.) He's singing "Jailhouse Rock" cuz he wanted to bring his "swagger and attitude on stage." He sounds good and is giving a good performance...not sure he's got any 'swagger' though. Randy loved the fact that Danny has a good time no matter what. Randy said it was "kinda hot." Paula said it was "almost scalding." She loves "hearing his voice go through all of these beautiful colors." Huh? Simon didn't understand a word Paula said (did anyone?), and he hated the performance. Simon says Danny destroyed an Elvis Presley song, and then Simon got booed. {Note: My friend Valerie called to point out that Danny has the most perfect lips she's ever seen.}

8. Luke Menard. Singing the theme song from Midnight Cowboy [links to a Windows Media file]. Anyway, the performance is kind of dull. Next, please! (Oh, he has nice teeth, though.) Randy said it was pitchy—consistently sharp. "Just not great." Paula agreed and added "This wasn't the best song choice for you." Simon said that no one's going to remember him.

9. Colton Berry. Singing.........oh, I don't know the name of this song. This was the last guy that made it into the top 24. It was between him and the dude with the glasses. After this performance, I'd rather have seen Glasses Dude in the competition. This is another forgettable performance. Randy loved that the guy seemed to be having a good time. Said he did a pretty good job. Paula didn't feel it was his best performance, but admired that he was eager. Simon said it was okay, and not as bad as the other Elvis song. Simon didn't see any "relevance in today's music industry...I'm not looking at a recording artist." Then he said, "If people spent more time on their voices than on their hair...." Ooh!

10. Garrett Haley. Now I know I've never seen this guy before. Where'd he come from? He does kinda look like Leif Garrett.


Ryan confirmed that this guy hasn't had a lot of screen time, so I'm not just imagining things. He's singing, "Breaking Up is Hard to Do." Ugh. No me gusta. (I don't like it.) I'm sure he's a nice kid, but I don't think he'll be back next week. Randy said it's a great song, but...Garrett didn't do anything with it—didn't make it his own. Paula didn't like the slow tempo either. Simon said it was boring and that he looked terrified and like he's been shut in his bedroom for a month (he was a little pale). Haha! Leave it to Simon.

Whew. Two more to go....

11. Jason Castro. Where'd this dude with dreads come from?? Another pair of nice eyes! Singing "What a Day for a Daydream" and playing guitar himself, which I like. Uh-oh---his last few notes were a little off, but otherwise, it was a nice performance. Randy liked the guitar; and pointed out some pitch problems. But, it was a'ight. Paula was blown away. (Really? It wasn't that good Paula.) Simon says it was in the top 2 performances of the night. I'd have to agree. Because there was only one other one that was really good and stood out (see #5 above).

12. Michael Johns. Yay! The Australian guy is coming up after the commercial break. Ryan asks, "Have we saved the best for last?" Let's hope so. Okay, he's singing the Doors' "Light My Fire." Perfect song for him! Ah, I'm in love! To me, it was the best of the night. Randy: "Yo, yo! What a way to end a great night." Paula: "Excellent way to end the night and you did set everyone on fire." Simon: "You are the most consistent contestant we've had....You have the natural charisma of a lead singer. You've just got it."

OK, time to vote. The 2 with the lowest votes are gone next week. I think that'll be Colton (#9) and Garrett (#10). Tune in next Tuesday, kids!

[Programming note: My review of the girls' performances won't be posted until Thursday because tomorrow night, I'm going to a paartay for my sister.]

2.18.2008

I've said it before, I'll say it again...

...you can find anything on the Internet!

I had lunch today at The Silver Diner. After I played my usual song on the jukebox (selection Q3--"Hey Jude"), the next song to come on was, "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" --A-weema-weh A-weema-weh A-weema-weh A-weema-weh.... Anytime I hear that song, it makes me think of the show, Puttin' on the Hits, which ran from 1984-1988. This was way before karaoke and it was a contest for everyday folks to perform their favorite songs by lip-syncing to their hearts' content. (Most of these contestants, by the way, were SO MUCH better at this than some "artists" today. Ahem...Britney Spears, for example.)

Anyway, some guy performed "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" and now every time I hear that song, I think about his performance. It was TWENTY YEARS AGO! He certainly made an impression.

So, as I was sitting there, I thought to myself, "Self, I bet you can find that performance on YouTube."

Guess what?

Ta-da:



While we're at it, here's another memorable performance. (Check out LaToya Jackson as a judge...)

2.14.2008

Awwwww...

I came home from work today and found that my parents surprised me with a lovely bouquet for Valentine's Day. I walked in the kitchen and there it was! Do I have great parents or what?

Early predictions...

American Idol now has its top 24. Deb and I were talking earlier. Neither of has been that impressed with this season's contestants (despite Ryan Seacrest's repeated claims that this is the most talented group ever.)

However, there are three people that do stand out for me, and based on what I've seen so far, I expect them to be in the top 10.

1. Syesha Mercado - she's beautiful and sang a mean version of Aretha Franklin's Chain, Chain, Chain in Tuesday's show, despite having serious laryngitis. I don't know how she did it.



2. Michael Johns - this is the Australian cutie with the soulful voice. On Tuesday he sang Bohemian Rhapsody and Randy exclaimed, "A million percent yes!" (That's his new catch-phrase this year.) I agreed.


3. Carly Smithson - she's an Irish girl who tried out in Season 5, but couldn't go through with it due to issues with her visa. I forgot to write down what she sang, but I think it was How Do I Get You Alone. She has a beautiful voice. (I also don't have a picture of her.) [Update 2.14.08: Found a picture!]



Here's hoping these three continue to impress!

2.13.2008

What a cutie!

Introducing Uno, this year's best in show winner at the Westminster Kennel Club. He's the first beagle ever to win the competition. He even got a standing "O" from the spectators. How could you not stand and cheer for this little guy? He's gorgeous!

I love his golden coloring

2.11.2008

Post-Grammy wrap up

Last night's Grammy show was pretty good. Probably one of the better Grammy productions I've seen. I remember times when the show was filled with long, boring speeches and tributes to people I'd never heard of. Last night, it was good to see more performances than speeches...it helped move things along.

The most highly-anticipated performance was that of Amy Winehouse, which was broadcast via satellite because she had some visa issues and couldn't attend in person. At every commercial break, they said, "coming up next....Amy Winehouse," but she didn't actually perform until about 10:45pm! Man, CBS really milked that. Anyway, after hearing about all of Amy's drug troubles, I was expecting to see some sort of disaster, like when Britney appeared at the MTV Video Music Awards. But no...Amy looked good--her eyes were bright and her voice was clear. She sang two of her best songs, "You Know I'm No Good" and "Rehab" and did a great job. ("They tried to make me go to rehab, and I said, no, no, no" ran through my head the rest of night.) It was sweet to see that she seemed genuinely shocked at her wins. (I forget what they were...she won five altogether.)

Some other highlights for me were Carrie Underwood's performance of "Before He Cheats." She was backed by percussionists similar to the group from STOMP. It was made to look like they were bashing in cars with baseball bats--the beats were cool and went well with the song.

I also liked the gospel performance of "Let It Be" -- I particularly enjoyed this because I had just seen "Across the Universe" the night before. The song comes at a very poignant point in the movie, depicting the Detroit riots. During the DVD extras, they show where the little boy and woman were auditioning to sing those parts. The director told the woman to let all the all pain and anger that was felt during the riots. The woman belted the song out so emotionally, she was crying at the end--and everyone was silent for a beat. It was just so moving. My eyes were definitely wet. The director ended up going to give the woman a hug. Anyway, after seeing all that, it was great to see the live performance on the Grammys.

I really liked the performance of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue by Herbie Hancock and Lang Lang. I just love that piece, and it was great to see all the passion the performers (especially Lang Lang) put into it. If I'm not mistaken, Herbie Hancock played without sheet music. I need to watch that again.

My favorite part of the night was the performance of "Jungle Love" by The Time. What fun to see Morris Day and Jerome Benton doing their thing. Jeez--I just looked it up...that song came out in NINETEEN EIGHTY THREE!!!! Things like this just make me feel old. Mo Day and Jerome haven't aged at all since that time though--hopeuflly I haven't either. (Well, I guess it's okay if I've aged somewhat, since I was 13 at the time!)

As for the actual awards, I didn't even pay much attention to who won what. I will say this though...a lot of people were shocked that Herbie Hancock won Album of the Year for his River: The Joni Letters, but considering how the Grammy voters tend not to vote for who you'd expect, it was actually expected in some weird way. My dad said he's going to buy the album--I'll save my judgment for after I've heard it.

2.04.2008

So I paid a visit to Blockbuster recently....

I'm a devoted Netflix customer, but I've been drawn in to Blockbuster's web again. See, they have this incentive where if you order movies through the mail from them, each envelope serves as a coupon for a free movie at the store. I take the mailed movie to the store, pick out a new movie, give the clerk the mailed movie to send back, and go on my merry way. Within a day or two, I receive the next movie from my Blockbuster online queue. This works out great because sometimes, I might have movies at home that I'm just not in the mood to watch. When that happens, I can just stop in at Blockbuster and pick out whatever movie I am in the mood for. Simple.

Because I really do feel loyal to Netflix and can't give it up completely, here's what I did: I reduced my membership at Netflix from having three movies out at a time for $16.99/month to receiving one movie at a time (two per month) for $4.99. Then I signed up for the same deal at Blockbuster. One movie at a time, 2/month, for $7.99/month, which, with the coupon deal, is really 4/month. This doesn't even include the additional coupons for free movies that Blockbuster also gives out. The plan's been working perfectly, and I saved myself $4/month. Good deal.

Most recenly I rented Ratatouille and Zodiac. I really liked Ratatouille but did find myself a bit skeeved out when Remy the Rat and his friends touched food or sat on the countertops in the kitchen. Ew. I know it's just a cartoon, but still. Maybe it'd have been easier to take if the character was a mouse--not quite as nasty as rats. They would have had to change the title of the movie though--they could've done some play on "mousse"!

An aside: when Debbie and I were in NYC several years ago, a crowd of tourists--you can always tell the tourists--gathered around to look at something. We couldn't tell what they were looking at so we went to investigate. Well, we were sorry we did--the crowd was looking down a construction hole at a rat the size of a small dog. It must've been a foot-and-a-half long. It was so disgusting.)

Anyway, let's move on. Zodiac was really, really good. Richard Roeper had this on his Top 10 List for 2007 and I can see why. This movie focused on the process of catching a serial killer rather than on the killings or on the profile of the killer. It was well-paced and had a great cast. The DVD I had didn't include any extras, but they advertised the Director's Cut which includes interviews with the real-life people involved and other information about the case. I'm interested to see that too.

The Super Bowl ads, oh and the game too!

I'm one of those folks who usually watches the Super Bowl each year in order to see what commercials the folks on Madison Avenue came up with. This year I watched with the same goal in mind, but then something strange happened. I got in to the game too! I found myself pulling for New York (partly because they're part of the NFC, and I tend to lean that way from my old days as a Cowboys fan; partly because NYC is one of my favorite places; and partly because they were the underdogs and it's always fun to root for the underdog), and wow--they pulled it off! That last quarter was exciting and it was a fun game to watch.

And then there were the commercials.

I liked the Diet Pepsi Max commercial shown toward the beginning of the game. Everyone was nodding off, trying to stay awake. After they took a swig of the Diet Pepsi Max (with ginseng, apparently), their heads started bobbing to "What is Love," just like that old skit from Saturday Night Live with Will Ferrell and Chris Kattan. (Chris Kattan even makes a cameo in the commercial.)

You can't go wrong with lizards doing the Thriller dance. This was for some sort of drink. Naomi Campbell was walking along with a lizard following behind. She takes a swig of the drink, and then the lizard jumps up and gets a drop too. All of a sudden, Naomi and a whole group of lizards start doing the Thriller dance. [It's amazing how that choreography has lived on and on.]

There were a couple of good Coca Cola commercials. One with the Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons chasing a Coca Cola balloon. Good ole Charlie Brown wins. The other was with James Carville and Bill Frist spending an afternoon touring Washington DC. I just got a kick out of seeing them on a segway tour.

I did not care for the e-Trade commercials featuring the talking baby. In the first one, the baby spits up at the end of the commercial--ewwww! In the second one he talked about having used his money to get a clown, but not considering how creepy the clown was. Well, those commercials were creepy!

I also didn't like the ad for careerbuilder.com where a woman's heart jumped out of her chest, grew legs, and hobbled in to her boss' office. That was gross, and unfunny.

My favorite ad of the night was from Budweiser and featured a Dalmatian training a Clydesdale so the horse would be chosen to help pull the sleigh. The music from Rocky played as the dog took the horse through obstacle courses and other training. It was so sweet. Loved it!

Though it was fun to watch the ads for the night, I look forward to going back to watching everything on Tivo and skipping through all that stuff. Until next year...