Thursday, April 28, 2005

And another AI contestant with a rap sheet

I wonder if the American Idol producers knew about this.

For the record, nothing uncovered by TheSmokingGun.com reveals that Bo was convicted of any drug possession charged and he successfully completed all court-ordered rehabilitation programs.

Does anyone really care? After all, drugs is the second part of "sex, drugs and rock 'n roll".

More on FRC's ouster

I just read a very good commentary on what got Constantine ousted from American Idol. You can check it out here.

Did we all watch the same show?

First of all, let me start by blasting Fox for pulling more of their crap with Scott and Constantine. This burns me up. They won't change the voting from voting for your favourite because they want to "keep things positive", but then they go out of their way to make people look like jackasses with what they pulled last night, what they did to George last year and what they did to Judd in the rounds of 24 this year.

The results shows are too long anyway, but for people that are making millions and millions of dollars for their network, Fox owes them the decency of a straight up or down, "You're safe/You're in the bottom 3".

So now on to the real rant.

WTF!!!!!!



How is Private Pyle safe? I'm going to start calling him Rasputin.

Seriously, if the voting were on Tuesday's show alone, I'd have rated FRC as the second worst of bunch. But he's been strong in the past, so strong in fact, he's never been in the bottom 3. So not only does he make his first appearance in the bottom 3, but he flames out brilliantly.

I was shocked . . . let me say that again: shocked! . . . that Scott was not only not the one eliminated last night, but that he was one of the top 3 vote-getters last night. Bo and Carrie were gimmies; Bo because he's done well the last few weeks and Carrie well, because she's pretty and the best singer left, even if she is a little stiff on stage.

But Private Pyle!?!?!?! What are you thinking "America"?

To me, the bottom three should have been Scar, FRC and Private Pyle. Scar is another guy who has been in and out of the bottom 3 and probably should have been elminated a couple of weeks ago, but a reasonably good performance this week may have brought back some of the voters who had gone to other contestants.

I don't understand why Vonzell keeps ending up in the bottom 3. She's come on strong lately and she's pretty. The only thing I can think of is that people figure since a black girl won last year, they don't want another black girl winning this year.

For the record, I have never been a fan of FRC. I think he pouts and preens for the camera too much. He tries to look like bad-boy "rocker", but sings crooning songs that appeal to tween girls. I think he milks the "pretty boy" thing for all it's worth and that says to me that he's a sell-out and a poser.

What I will give him credit for is that Constantine is a born performer. He looks very comfortable on stage. He doesn't have the strongest voice of the top 12, but he's not the weakest, either. He looks good on camera. Next to Bo, he is probably the AI contestant this year who needs the competition the least. His band has a record deal and he's been on Broadway.

He clearly thought he was staying at least another week or two. So did everyone else, because as soon as Vonzell was announced as the bottom 3 contestant who was safe, you could see it on Anthony's face that he knew he was the dead man walking. But lo and behold, FRC got the boot.

That brings me to Scott. Who is voting for this guy? My buddy Mike thinks that "America" loves fat guys; Rueben won two years ago and now we can't get rid of the fat guy this year.

I read on one message board that mediocre performances bring out the powervoters. I don't know if the Scott fans (whoever they are) came out in force or if FRC's fans got complacent (and this is a bad time to get lax).

If I could change two things about American Idol, the first thing would be to eliminate the humiliating stunts they pull. This not only includes making contestants choose side, but showing us all the trainwrecks during the auditions that do nothing but embarrass people. The other thing I would change is the voting.

I've said all this before, but "America" needs to be voting people off instead of voting to keep people on. If you put 100 people in a room, show them five different performances, you're going to get 100 different opinions about who is the best.

But if you show those same 100 people the same five performances and ask them who the worst is, you're probably going to get a consensus real quick. Powervoting skews the votes. It allows bad singers with big followings (JPL, John Stevens) to hang around longer than they deserve, and that is the #2 thing that is wrong with American Idol.

The sad part is that it would be soooooooo easy to fix.

I'm not sad to see FRC get eliminated, but it was clearly not his time.

Need an excuse?

What are you doing on 19 May 2005? If you're going to work or school, you're obviously not a real nerd.

If you aren't going to work/school . . . say, because you're going to see a certain movie, possibly more than once . . . and you haven't already scheduled a "sick" day, you might want a note excusing you from attending your job or place of education.

I am of course not advocating truancy or absenteeism, but if you're half as geeky as me, you might want to print out this "fail-safe" excuse note for your boss/teacher.

May the Force be with you.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Top 6

Was it just me or were half the songs last night unreleased? I didn't know the Celine song and the Martina McBride song must have only been on the radio for about four weeks before it got pulled.

The Good

Vonzell

Her vocals were not 100% on last night, but she is clearly the most ambitious going into the final stretch. Vonzell is hitting her stride at just the right time; other contestants (Carrie, Bo) may have peaked early, some others (Scott, Anthony) are barely hanging on and the last (FRC) stumbled this week, leaving the competition wide open for "Baby V".

She appears to be having fun, she's picking good songs and is making a grab for the front-runner spot.

The Bad

Anthony, Bo, Carrie, FRC

The "most improved" of the week is Anthony who did a fair job of singing a Celine Dion song; it helps that he didn't pick a well-known Celine song. For once, he wasn't all over the place. Clay being in the audience doesn't hurt him either.

Bo and Carrie picked safe songs. I have always lauded Bo for picking "the perfect song" and while last night's song wasn't "perfect" it was a good song for him. Bo's problem is that in the rounds of 24, Simon said, "This is your competition to lose." That not only put a target on him, but it established a high bar for him to have to match. To his credit, Bo has performed at pretty much the same high level every week, even the week when he was in the bottom 2.

Unfortunately, when people perform consistently well (as Bo has and as Carrie has), we expect them to always be good, so when they have an "average" night, we are disappointed, whereas when other contestants who are weaker (cough! . . . Private Pyle. . . cough! . . . Scar . . . cough!) have "average" nights, we see them as improving.

I didn't care for the song Bo picked, but it was good for him and unlike FRC, showcased what he does best. My one criticism of Bo is that unlike Vonzell, he's not taking any chances and he's not showing off his voice. On the flip side of that, he doesn't have the range that Vonzell or Carrie has. When the finals started, I ranked Bo's vocal talent as 11th or 12th of the group; his strength is in his performance skills and the fact that unlike the younger contestants, he has a good grasp of who he is, what he can do and what he cannot do. This cognisance of his limitations is what gives Bo a leg up on everyone else.

Carrie was also pre-ordained by Simon as a front-runner who has faltered at the times when she should have been dancing on the graves of the other contestants. With Anwar gone, Carrie has the best (and biggest) voice left in the competiton. Carrie's problem for the past several weeks has been song choice.

She has sung two Martina McBride songs since the top 12 started and I can think of four or five better Martina songs she could sing that were better than what she did last night. Maybe it's an issue with Fox not being able to get the rights to songs (since Martina McBride doesn't write most of her material, there may be some songs they can get and others they can't because the people who own the rights don't want Fox making money off them).

Carrie also suffers from high expectations (see Bo above), but her good looks will keep her around for at least a couple of weeks.

Have I mentioned what a low opinion of FRC I have?

Last night, he came off as a complete poser. I can't stand him. He tried to rock, but after the other songs he's done, he seems like he's trying to be something he's not. Simon called him on it and hit the nail right on the head. His performance was above average, but his song choice didn't do him any favours and let him show off is voice, which is the advantage he has over Bo.

However, since he didn't show off his voice and has only done one other "rock" song (Bohemian Rhapsody), he looks like a fool compared to Bo and to me appeared very disingenuine. Unlike the other contestants, Constantine views the competition as a game (in much the same way Mario did, only Constantine won't say it). He's playing and he's playing very well. Bo doens't need American Idol, and neither does Carrie. But FRC wants to win and he's saying all the right things and doing what is necessary to win, but this week, he picked the wrong song.

The Ugly

Scott

Private Pyle was trying, he really was. But two things happened: 1) his voice cracked in a couple of places, and 2) they ran out of time. The comments from the judges were very abrupt because the clock was ticking and that's Fox's fault. I don't know if and extra 45 seconds worth of comments would have helped him, but it certainly wouldn't have hurt him.

Scott is the weakest contestant left. His voice is better than Bo's and even Anthony's, but he picks weak songs and isn't half the performer of Bo or FRC. Scott needs American Idol more than the rest of the contestants, and I think he's lucky to have gotten this far, but I think his time has run out.

With only six contestants left, the good folks are bound to be in the bottom 3 with the not so good folks. I say "not so good" because I don't truly think that anyone left is truly bad. Yes, I have some favourites, and some are clearly inferior to the others, but none of them are JPL, Josh or John Stevens hanging around way past the their time.

My picks for the bottom 3: Anthony, Carrie, Scott

My pick to go home: Scott

I think Scott knows he's a dead man walking. You could see it in his eyes last night. In the past when the judges have been hard on him, he's been defiant and you could see the fire in him, but last night, maybe he knew he was out of time.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Does this make me officially an ├╝bergeek?

On one of the message boards I belong to, I entered a contest to win a Toys R Us "exclusive" Holographic Yoda action figure and my essay won. This also means I get to use the phrase "prize-winning author" in front of my name. I wonder if this will get me some extra points when I get to the pearly gates of Geek Heaven.

What Star Wars Means to Me

By High Lord Dave



When I was 4, my dad took me to one of the last drive-in movie theaters in north Florida to see a movie. We drove up, parked in front of the giant screen, ordered some popcorn and waited for the show to start. That movie turned out to be Star Wars: A New Hope.

I remember very little about that first screening, only that is one of the first clear memories I have of doing anything with my father. I saw the movie again when it was on TV, and later on VHS. When Empire came out, my little brother tagged along and a friend of mine took a bunch of us to see Jedi on his birthday.

Looking back, it seems so apropos to have been introduced to Star Wars by my father. After all, that's what the movie's about isn't it? Fathers and sons.

He bought me my first X-wing. When I broke one of the wings off playing a little to hard (I was 5, okay!?!), he bought me another and helped me put it together and get the stickers in the right places.

Some movies are a nice story. Some movies make you think. Some movies have nice special effects. Some movies are scary. Some movies make you laugh. Some movies make you cry.

And then there are a precious few movies that connect an audience, not just to the person sitting next to them, but to the societal consciousness that binds us all together. These movies permeate our culture, spawning imitators, parodies and entering out daily lexicon.

"I'll be back."

"I'm king of the world!"

"Go ahead, make my day."

Even though Star Wars has spawned scores of quoteable lines "Do or do not; there is no try", "I'd rather kiss a wookie", "May the force be with you", Star Wars isn't about a changed culture.

It's about me and Dad. Eating popcorn on the couch in front of the TV waiting for Star Wars to come on. Building a Snowspeeder model kit. Chasing him around the house; I was Luke Skywalker in my X-wing, he was Darth Vader in his TIE fighter.

When Episode I came out, I took my own son to the midnight show (much to the chagrin of his mother). We were sitting way in the back. The sound was terrible. The guy next to us wouldn't stop popping his bubble gum. The girl one row down came dressed as Queen Amidala, and her big hair was partially blocking my kid's view.

But none of that mattered. My son's eyes were wide as the screen credits rolled. I read them to him. We booed when Darth Maul came on screen and cheered when Obi-Wan won the most fantastic lightsaber duel my son had ever seen.

Later, I found myself being chased around the house, my son as Luke Skywalker in his X-wing, me as Darth Vader in his TIE fighter.

"The circle is now complete".

That's what Star Wars means to me. Fathers and sons.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

What the hell is wrong with "America"?

How is it that Private Pyle and Scar are both still alive in this competition?

For his part, Anwar has picked lousy songs the last couple of weeks. But last night he seemed to come out of his funk and, aside from the goofy dancing, was good. Anwar has always been the best pure vocalist in the group, but he didn't really play the game (like FRC does). He didn't pander for votes and picked songs he liked, albeit better than Nadia.

I just can't understand who is voting for Scott and Anthony. It baffles me. Is "America" tone deaf?

When the show started, I had a feeling they were going to pull another stunt. Remember it was when there were seven left that they pulled one over on George and it turns out they did the same thing to Bo. Fortunately, Bo wasn't playing and made Ryan look like the jackass.

I understand that Anwar wasn't going to win. He's not as solid all-round as some other contestants and he doesn't pander for votes (cough! . . . Constantine . . . cough!), but for him to be eliminated ahead of Private Pyle and Scar is sickening.

On the plus side, for Anwar, now he can go back to 1) teaching music and 2) signing his record deal without having to live with the daily pressures of being on American Idol. He's too good to go unsigned and at least get a shot as a recording artist, and now that the pressure of weekly competition is gone, he could do very, very well.

I think Fox needs to release the phone numbers of everyone who voted for Scott and Anthony so we can track them down and subject them to tortures galore (like a 24/7 marathon of Cop Rock or lock them in a room with Frank Yankovic's Greatest Hits piped in).

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Disco night

or whatever euphamism they used for "disco". As I was watching Carrie sing "MacArthur Park" last night, I kept thinking about Weird Al's "Jurassic Park". Wouldn't it be great if the theme one night was Weird Al? That would 100% rock! I think I'll email that to Fox as a possible theme. How much worse could it be than "showtunes"?

The Good

Vonzell

To me, she was the only one who stood out. Based on the songs she has done in the past, Vonzell was built for a disco/dance theme and she delivered. Big time.

She reminds me of Kimberly Locke from season 2 because she started out slow; at the beginning of the year, she was middle of the pack. Not great, not bad. But these last two or three weeks, Vonzell has come on strong and is making a hard charge to win. It helps her that the pre-season frontrunners are either faltering or only holding their ground when they should be locking this thing up.

The Bad

Anwar, Bo, FRC, Scott

The "most improved" goes to Private Pyle who, while not spectacular, was light-years better than last week and was actually pretty good. He didn't have any of his usual pitch problems, but Simon was right on when he said that Scott doesn't have a wide appeal.

Anwar was ho-hum, good but I thought he was a little over the top. FRC continues to annoy me; whoever does his styling needs to get him to shave and cut back on the eyeliner. Bo was also okay, but these three guys were clearly out of their element with the theme.

The Ugly

Anthony, Carrie

I never thought I'd put Carrie in this bottom category, but her song choice was horrible and she seemed to be screaming for the entire song. Carrie could have put the competition away with "Dancing Queen" or some other 70s disco anthem, but she picked "MacArthur Park" and it was horrible.

Miracle Baby is doing everything he can to show off his tracheotomy scar and it's freaking me out. His vocals weren't as bad as they have been in the past, but he is clearly the weakest vocalist and performer in the competiton. If he's not in the bottom 3 tonight, something is seriously wrong with "America" (or maybe Fox's vote counters).

My picks for the bottom 3: Anthony, Anwar, Scott

Carrie should be in the bottom 3 after her performance, but she won't be.

My pick to go home tonight: Anthony

Some of my office buddies were talking about the judges and the judging and it seems that right now either 1) everyone in the top 7 this year is better than the top 7 in any past year, or 2) all three of them have run out of things to say. Even Simon was uncharacteristically nice last night. And don't get me started on Paula . . .

Anway, the first year of the competition, it seemed that each of the judges would comment on the performers from a different perspective. Randy was the producer and the most technical of the judges. Paula was the performer and commented on their stage presence. Simon was the executive and would tell people what would and would not sell.

Then around season 2, they all just became generic judges, and I think the show suffers from it. After all, some contestants have great voices, but don't do well on stage (Private Pyle). Others perform well, but are not spectacular vocalists (FRC). And others may not be great at either, but will still sell a lot of records (William Hung).

I think the judges should get back to judging a specific aspect of the contestants, rather than each giving an overall evaluation. To me, that would make the judging seem less of a spectacle and it would give the judges something to actually judge instead of just making a comment to either get a rise out of the audience (Simon), use the words "dawg" and "aiiiiiight" (Randy) or say unmerited nice things about people (Paula).

Please, please, pleeeeeeeeeeeaaaase, "America": Send Trach-Boy home tonight.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Don't people know I have better things to do

I have been selected to be on the Elder Nominating Committee at church and we're having one of our final committee meetings tonight at 7:30.

Tuesday at 7:30!!!!!

This meeting had better start on time and be over after 15 minutes or I will be highly pissed. Actually, I won't; I'm recording American Idol so I'll still get to see it, but don't people realise that my Tuesday nights are already spoken for? What's up with that?

On a more serious notes, one of the things about being on the ENC is that we are a small church and only have a small pool of people to draw from and it seems that a lot of the folks we're considering have been on the session before and that we're drawing a lot of "re-treads". Of course, part of the problem is that we have not had an influx of new members, so we're going to many of the same people, some of whom have just finished a term on the session a year or two ago.

It's really an odd process, but it beats being locked in a room and burning ballots when we're done.

In other news, I sold my first item over eBay yesterday.



Yup, I actually sold a couple of Star Wars action figures. A buddy of mine makes a fair amount of money every month buying and selling stuff on eBay; I'd like the extra $$$, but I don't think I am willing to put in the time and energy he does into his auctions. But whow knows? Maybe I'll catch the eBay bug . . .

Monday, April 18, 2005

An interesting Star Wars commentary

Who doesn't love Darth Vader? Especially when he gets to be really, really evil. "Apology accepted, Captain Needa." Thud!

I found this article over at MSNBC.com. The author, on top of being a Star Wars geek, is a secret Dark Sider (aren't we all?).

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Shocker!

At the end of Tuesday's show, I wondered how American Idol was going to fill an hour and I wondered why. At first I thought Fox realised how bad Life on a Stick was, mercifully cancelled it and was only searching for filler, but then I saw an ad for it next week. Of course, I think all the results shows were supposed to be an hour until that stunt they pulled with Judd, and people just wanted to see who stayed and who was eliminated.

So bottom 3.

Scott, no surprise. He's turning into an angry guy and that may be turning people against him. He needs to watch is performance from Tuesday again and realise how out of tune he was. He's not the worst one left, but he's close to it.

Bo, big surprise. I thought for sure he'd be safe for another couple of weeks. Despite picking The Perfect Song last night, Bo has started to sound the same. However, I also think some of the Bo fans have become complacent and aren't voting for him and he paid for it last night. Of all the remaining contestants, I think he needs American Idol the least. His band was reasonably successful before American Idol and now his national exposure will only help him Scott, on the other hand, would go nowhere without American Idol.

Nadia, no surprise. As Seacrest was talking to her after being put in the bottom 3, Nadia basically admitted that she wasn't going to play the game and acknowledged that it hurt her.

Bottom 2: Bo and Nadia. How did Private Pyle escape the bottom 2? What the hell is wrong with America?

Eliminated: Nadia. No surprise. In fact, I think I picked her to leave yesterday.

The lesson here is that you need to play the game. FRC plays the game the best. Vonzell is playing the game. Carrie is trying, but mostly coasting on her good looks and natural talent. Even Anthony is playing the game. I think Anwar is starting to play the game.

The seven remaining contestants include 5 people who could win and 2 people who are hanging on only by the determination of their powervoters.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Baby pictures are soooooooooo cute

First things first: Hall, Oates . . . lay off the Botox.

The top tier performers are separating themselves from the second tier performers and it really showed tonight.

The Good

Bo, FRC, Vonzell

Once again, Bo and Vonzell picked The Perfect Song, that ever-ellusive piece that showcases a performers vocal abilities and stage presence. Bo does not have the strongest voice, the widest range and he's really not that good at switching genres. However, he has an uncanny knack for finding just the right piece that maximises his talents and hides his weaknesses. Rueben also had this talent and look how far it got him.

Vonzell has come on strong these last two weeks and last night was superb. She picked an upbeat song, showed off on stage and vocally was right on spot. How she was in the bottom three last week is completely baffling.

It kills me to put FRC in this group, but he really was good last night. He finally showed us that he can rock. He picked a fun song that everyone knows thanks to Wayne's World; I wish we could have heard more, but the time allotted made him cut the 7 minute song down. He also did his usual "Call me" thing when Seacrest was announcing his numbers (I hate that) and he is playing the game really, really well.

The Bad

Anthony, Anwar, Carrie

Anthony and Anwar had good weeks compared to last week. Unfortunately, it will probably keep Trach-Boy around for another week and Anwar once again underachieved. Maybe it's because I expect more out of Anwar, but he was back in tune this week; I just wish he'd pick better songs. He's always trying to show off his big voice, but he's starting to sound the same every week and I think that hurts him.

Carrie also underachieved; although she stepped out of her country box and picked another 80s anthem, there was something missing from her performance. "Love is a Battlefield" has a fast beat and her vocals were on target, but unlike Vonzell, she didn't look like she was enjoying herself. One of the complaints about Diana was that she looked "robotic" on stage and Carrie is starting to look that way when she's singing, too. I've already pencilled her in as one of the people still standing when they're singing for the top spot, but other people are gaining ground on her when she should be putting this competition away.

The Ugly

Nadia, Scott

Both of these folks had such potential at the beginning of the competition. Nadia as the out-of-the-box rocker girl and Scott as the goofy-looking guys with the big voice. It's too bad both are crashing and we have to watch.

Nadia's problem is that she's not playing the game. She's not picking the right songs and nobody knows quite what to make of her. Unlike Constantine who preens for the camera and picks songs everyone knows, Nadia doesn't pander for votes and keeps choosing songs that are not familiar to the audience and consequently, we don't know if she did a good job or not. As a result, even if she does well, people don't feel compelled to vote for her.

Private Pyle is starting to remind me of Josh Gracin, who as the competition wore on only looked angrier and angrier. Talking back to Simon is not a good way to stay alive in the competition. Here's the thing about Simon: He's usually right. If he says you're out of tune, you probably are (and Scott was). If he says you look like a buffoon on stage, you probably did. If he says your performance was hideous, it certainly was not good. Don't fight Simon; use what he says and try to make yourself better (assuming you are not elminated). Josh did not learn this lesson and Scott is not learning it either.

Despite Hall and Oates giving him a "thumbs up", Scott was bad. So bad that he was easily the worst performance of the night; at least Nadia wasn't out of tune for half the song. Private Pyle was good on the chorus, but the rest of the song was flat. Still, I think Nadia has more problems than he does and I think Private Pyle will live to sing for another week.

Vonzell was strong enough that she shouldn't be in the bottom three again. I think the third person for the bottom three will either be Anwar or Anthony, both of whom has been shaky of late, so it will be interesting to see tonight.

The bottom three: Anthony, Nadia, Scott

Who gets eliminated: Nadia

I like that the contestants are getting more lattitude in picking their songs. The themes are broad enough that they're not stuck with "Gloria Estefan songs" or "Air Supply's greatest hits".

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Another Mario theory

According to Realityblurred.com, the real reason Mario left was because another AI contestant threatened to "out" him as a homosexual by publicly diclosing a relationship Mario wanted to keep secret. Of course, the root source for this story is The National Enquirer which is, of course, never wrong . . .

I don't know that Mario is gay (not that there's anything wrong with that) but if he is, would that really hurt him? There are other contestants with image problems (cough . . . Private Pyle . . . cough!), and they're still around. We know Mario can sing and perform better than most of the the remaining contestants, so it makes me wonder why he quit. Plus, since the voting format is to vote for your favourite, the people who would vote someone off because they're gay wouldn't get a chance to take him down unless they all got together and voted for another contestant en masse.

On the flip side of this, who was the alleged contestant who threatened to out Mario? This was before the top 24 were singing, so it could have been anybody from Judd and Melinda to Carrie or Anwar. If this story is true (and it has to be true since it was in the National Enquirer), it troubles me that one American Idol contestant would blackmail another to eliminate stronger competition.

I was never a Mario fan, but he was already in the top 12, and probably would have finished in the top 5 of the voting (I didn't think he was as strong a singer as Anwar or Carrie, nor as charismatic as FRC or Bo). It makes me wish I knew if someone had indeed threatened to out Mario and if they did, I'd like to see Fox remove that person from the competition for blackmailing another contestant.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Living on borrowed time

Nikko's gone.

I don't know if he should feel bad because he has been eliminated twice or if he should feel good for being given a second chance after others had fallen by the way-side. Nikko was not my guy; I didn't dislike him, but in my opinion, he had virtually no chance to win. He sounded like scores of other guys out there and his R&B everything act (to me) got real old, real fast.

After he was brought back, I said that Nikko should go balls-to-the-wall all out because he had nothing to lose, but instead he delivered the same kinds of performance he had in the rounds of 24. That is to paraphrase Simon Cowell, ho-hum and ordinary.

That said, he should not have been eliminated last night. Trach-Boy was clearly the worst of the week, even acknowledging that his performance was "hideous". I don't understand how he avoids the bottom 3.

Private Pyle was also bad this week and was deservedly in the bottom 3. A buddy of mine thinks he'd go . . . well, Private Pyle on everyone if/when he gets eliminated.

The big surprise for the bottom 3 was Vonzell who has had two stellar weeks in a row. Maybe people think she is safe or maybe she's spliting votes with Nadia, but she is clearly better than at least 2 people still left and could make a strong run at the end if she survives elimination (think Kimberly Locke).

Last night was also the first night that the first three people on the couch were picked off, an interesting twist. My wife thought for sure that Nadia was in the bottom 3 based on her position on the couches. It's good to see Fox throwing us for a loop without having to resort to asinine stunts like the things they did to George last year and to Judd this year.

And how bad was Fantasia? As soon as she opened her mouth I was reminded of how much I can't stand the sound of her voice. Also, a year later and she doesn't have a new song? What's up with that? It's a good thing I can split the screen on my TV; I muted American Idol and watched The West Wing until Fantasia was done. Hopefully, LaToya and/or Diana will be on sometime this year to brighten my day.

I wonder what the theme will be next week.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

If anyone says I have no life

People are already lining up to see Star Wars at Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood. The only problem is that Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith isn't scheduled to show there.

Read more details about it here.

Something in the water

What was up with American Idol last night? Did they think, "How can we put people to sleep tonight?"

The song choices last night were simply horrid, which on one level isn't surprising considering the theme was "Broadway showtunes" but on another level is very surprising considering how many good songs they could have picked from (yes, you heard that right, there is such a thing as a good showtune).

Some of the issues may have been licensing, but considering that they had songs from West Side Story, Oklahoma and the King and I, why did everyone pick a blah! song? Simon's answer is so that everyone can have the one big note at the end that makes us forget the rest of the song. I'd have thought Constantine would have wanted to sing something from Grease and Bo would have kicked ass with a song from Godspell or Jesus Christ Superstar, but instead, everyone's song was just plain awful.

Simon told Carrie she sounded "old-fashioned". Well, Duh!, Simon; look at the theme! How many good musicals have come out in the past 10 years that the general populace would recognise (Broadway adaptations of Disney movies don't count).

On to the commentary:

The Good

Carrie

With everyone picking a bad song (and they were all bad song choices), Carrie blew everyone else away. She was technically on the spot and the only one to truly shine.

The Bad

Anwar, Bo, Constantine, Nadia, Vonzell

FRC could have used this night to take a big step forward; he is after all an actual Broadway performer. But he picked a bad song and resorted to preening in front of all his adoring teenage girl fans, who no doubt voted for him in droves. His posing for the camera is getting old, and is only annoying me, but since I can't vote him off, I guess I have to put up with it. I did like it when Randy said, "I never bought that whole 'rocker' thing, and I still don't". Way to call him out, Dawg! Poser.

Everyone else in this group was ho-hum. After a disaster last week, Anwar was back in tune, Bo picked a pretty good song for someone who doesn't know too many show tunes, and Nadia closed the show well. Vonzell had a couple of pitch problems that kept her from being in the same league as Carrie last night, but she was also strong.

The bunch in the middle of the pack is more the result of bad song choices than actual bad singing.

The Ugly

Anthony, Nikko, Scott

Speaking of bad singing, it's time for one of these boys to go. Jessica may not be as "likeable" as some of the other girls, but she would have at least belted out a yawner in tune. None of these boys was even close to the right key.

Scott was all over the place, Anthony was simply horrid and Nikko seemed lost. I can only hope they are all gone within the next five weeks.

Who should be in the bottom three: Anthony, Nikko, Scott

Who will be in the bottom three: Anthony, Nadia, Scott

Who should go home: Anthony

Who will go home: Scott

I think the news about Scott's previous domestic violence rap will (rightly or wrongly) hurt him in the voting and this week will be his ouster. That means that we'll have to suffer through another week of Anthony (yech).

Monday, April 04, 2005

Look, sir! . . . Nerds!

I found another guy who went out Friday night for the Star Wars toy release, this time at the Toys R Us in New York, where things were apparently a zoo. I feel so cheated that no one dressed up here in WV.

Look, sir! . . . Girls!

I went up to Toys R Us at midnight on Friday night/Saturday morning to be among the first people to get some stuff from the new Star Wars movie, Revenge of the Sith.

I got there at about 11:45 and there was a small crowd of probably 40 or 50 people already in line. I parked and one of the first things I noticed was that there were actually females in line for Star Wars, which is highly unusual; female Star Wars dorks are legendary (as in, you've probably heard of one but no one has actually seen her).

Often the women in line for Star Wars crap are there at the request of their boyfriends and are embarrassed beyond belief be be standing in the freezing rain waiting in line for an ARC-170 fighter or Republic Gunship. However, these few girls were there for themselves, which was rather surprising. You'll notice, though, that my wife was no where to be seen when it was time to go out at midnight shopping for Star Wars crap.

Of course, there were still lots of guys there, most of them between the ages of 25 and 40. Even channel 3 had a TV crew there, although the turnout was lower for this opening than for Episode I (of course, when Episode I opened, we didn't have a Target and Wal-Mart wasn't 24 hours).

I was standing in line with another guy and a friend of his, who happened to be a girl. At first I thought they were together, but then she said something like, "Your wife owes me big for coming here with you." The pair was pretty funny, David was a big kid who, under the guise of buying stuff for his kids, picked up everything in sight, and Amy made fun of him with me.

As things turned out, I got off pretty light; $140 at Toys R Us, which was only a fraction of the $370 David spent. I got two vehicles, the ARC-170 fighter and the BARC trooper with BARC speeder bike. Everything else I got were the 3¾" figures. Toys R Us had a pretty nice setup; they had carts out with all the Mace Windus in one cart, all the clone troopers in another, all the Shaak Tis in another, etc.

I got most of the figures that were out, but not all of them. I didn't get a C-3PO and I didn't get the two wookies available, Chewbacca and Tarrful. After I picked over the selection at Toys R Us, David and I went over to Wal-Mart. Amy ditched us, saying she was already too geeked out and possibly traumatised from being on TV sighted with Star Wars dorks.

It turns out that Wal-Mart had some stuff Toys R Us didn't have and Toys R Us had some stuff Wal-Mart didn't. The ARC-170 was only at Toys R Us and the new Republic Gunship was only at Wal-Mart (I let David have the last one; I've got the Gunship from Episode II and I figure the Episode III Gunship will be around again). Wal-Mart also had some figures Toys R Us didn't, so I spent another $70, while David spent well over $100 at Wal-Mart in addition to the $370 at Toys R Us ("His wife is going to kill him," Amy told me before we left, "and I'm going to have to hear about it tomorrow at work.").

So we left Wal-Mart and I went home; it was about 1:00 am, but I stayed up until about 2:00 playing Spellforce. I did not get up 4 hours later and go to Target to get the exclusive Target lava-Vader action figure (like a buddy of mine), so I rolled out of bed at about 9:00, and put together my ARC-170 and the BARC bike and tooper. I did go back out to Target, and although they had been picked over, they did have the droid Tri-Fighter I've been looking for, so I spent another $20 at Target, bringing my total for the weekend up to $230.

A buddy of mine called me on Saturday morning and told me he'd seen me on the morning news; I was trying to be incognito, but I guess it didn't work.

So now I am officially on the prowl for Star Wars stuff, especially the higher-number action figures that aren't in stores around here like the clone commander and clone pilots.

Wish me luck at beating up old ladies and kids who get in my way.

Friday, April 01, 2005

A new bruhaha for American Idol

So what do people think about Scott being arrested in 2001 for felony domestic assault?

He got a plea down to misdemeanor disorderly conduct, paid a $500 fine, went to anger management, did a year's probation and served a 20 day suspended sentence. His ex-fiancee (the mother of is son) got a temporary restraining order which expired after a year and was not renewed. He apparently also pled "no contest" (which is not an admission of guilt and is not a conviction) to criminal trespassing in 1995.

Apparently Fox knew about these charges before the competition began, and decided it wouldn't be an issue. I can't see how Fox can remove him from the competition at this point if he disclosed these events. Past contestants who were eliminated either didn't tell the producers about their past exploits (Frenchie, Corey) or were in the middle of legal proceedings (the guy who was pulled over for DUI and replaced by George).

Fox knew this was going to come out sooner or later. There are too many people who delight in exposing all of the skeletons in people's closets out there to think that it would never come out, especially things like court proceedings and judgements that are a matter of public record.

We don't know details about the domestic dispute which resulted in the temporary restraining order, and the mother could have also done her share of pushing, shoving and name-calling. Still, the fact of the matter is that the TRO expired in July 2002 and to our knowledge was not renewed, and Scott apparently fulfilled his court-ordered sentence and paid his debt to society.

I don't know that it is our place to be judging Scott; his sentence has been fulfilled and the incident is almost 4 years past. Nobody here is perfect (even if we don't have the criminal record to prove it), so I don't think he should be elminated as a result of this, especially if he told the producers everything (which, after the Corey and Frenchie incidents, they made everyone sign releases for their background checks and disclosure statements).

Surely this is going to hurt him come vote time. However, I'm not sure the majority of the audience is going to care. Fox isn't going to make a big deal about it on the air, but I do think some people who may have voted for Scott because they like him as an underdog may turn from him.

He's got strong vocals (third best in my opinion), but he's also got an image problem. He can't afford any mistakes and this will only make his margin for error that much smaller.

I think this will pass quickly; all Fox has to do is say something like, "The charges weren't serious and they're in the past. Scott has expressed remorse at his actions and has paid his debt to society. He was 100% honest about this from the beginning. We feel that is a part of his life he wants to put behind him and we want to move forward just as he does. What's next?"

Maybe I should see if Fox is hiring spin doctors. They may also welcome the publicity as good for the show, even if it isn't good for Scott.

I also wonder about Scott. When he was first selected for Hollywood, I told a guy in the office here that Scott could either be a big, cuddly teddy bear of a guy (like Rueben) or he could be the villain in Slumber Party Massacre 6. I've also jokingly referred to him a "Private Pyle" because of his resemblance to Vincent D'Onofrio's character Leonard Lawrence in Full Metal Jacket.

Now I wonder if I should be making fun of him. If he's been to anger management (and in the movie, it doesn't really work), and they tell him he's been eliminated, he could snap at the first hint of bad news. I wonder if they're going to put snipers in the balcony with air rifles and elephant tranqs to take him down if he starts to go crazy.

We'll see how this plays out.