Friday, May 26, 2006

X-Men 3: The Last Stand

My wife and I went to see the new X-Men movie. That's two movies in two weeks, or as many movies as I went to see in the theater all of last year (Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe).

First of all, if you go see the movie, make sure you stay through the end credits. After they all roll, there's a little easter egg at the end for people with patience.

Next up is the

SPOILER ALERT!!!!
IF YOU DON'T WANT TO READ ANY SPOILERS,
STOP READING NOW.

THIS IS YOUR ONLY WARNING.


I have avoided reading any of the press about this movie for fear of being spoiled. Also, I've avoided reading reviews of the movies, although the headlines one EW and CNN.com are mostly mixed.

As an X-Men comic fan (although I stopped collecting them after The Age of Apocalypse), I thought they did a good job. The story wasn't as good as it could have been, but they left lots of loose ends while wrapping up some of the major story arcs from the first two films.

This movie picks up pretty much where the last movie ended. Magneto and the Brotherhood of (Evil) Mutants are on the loose. Jean Grey is dead. Scott is in mourning.

We get to meet a couple of new characters including Calisto, Angel, Kitty Pryde, Juggernaut, Jamie Madrox (Multiple Man) and the only one to get any real screen time: Beast, played perfectly by Kelsey Grammer.

The jist of the story is that Warren Worthington II (Angel's father) has found a "cure" for the mutant gene. He is offering this to any mutants who don't want their powers any more. The key to the is is the character of Leech who is being held (against his will?) on Alcatraz in a lab.

With the news that the X-gene can be "cured" sets the mutant community on its ear. People like Magneto (and Storm) don't see themselves as being afflicted, so they recoil at the very mention of having their powers taken away.

Others, like Rogue and Beast, just want to be normal. Rogue (without the powers for super strength, invulnerability and flight that she has in the comic books), of course, can't touch another person without killing them. Hank McCoy would like to be rid of his beastial appearance. But is it worth it?

Without getting into the details of the movie, the story wraps up with some shockers for the X-Men fan community.

Let's start with the body count: Calisto. Marrow. Jean Grey. Scott Summers, Xavier. Yes, you heard that right.

Rogue, Mystique and Magneto have been stripped of their powers. Pyro is MIA. Leech was last seen with Kitty Pryde, but where is he now? Is the "cure" permanent?

We'll never know until X4 comes out (probably in another three years or so). I think that some of the people who ended up as part of the body count were left that way because they were under contract for only three movies. And even though they're dead, in the X-Universe, unless you see a body, that means nothing. And even then, characters can be brought back to life.

Plus, there are lots of other fan-favourite characters who could appear. The only character who is central to the X-Universe is Xavier, and given the way the movie ended, he could be played by someone other than Patrick Stewart (I'm telling you; stay until the end of the credits).

The general story was okay. This movie certainly won't win any Oscars, and would have been a lot better if Bryan Singer hadn't left the project to direct Superman. Marvel/20th Century Fox should seriously consider getting Kevin Smith, Chris Claremont or Peter David to write the next movie.

Visually, the movie is stunning. They went with the Weta Workshop for the effects (the same people who did Lord of the Rings) and it looks fantastic.

My biggest gripe in the film is that Angel, Kitty Pryde and Colossus don't really have a lot to do. They're there as window dressing and not much else. Also, where was Nightcrawler?

I think the movie made some bold character decisions (none of them irreversable) and they've left open lots of chances for sequels. Personally, I would have preferred a Dark Phoenix storyline with the Hellfire Club, but given that they had to wrap up the Magneto story arc, the way they did it was acceptable.

The next movie needs to feature a villain other than Magneto; Apocalypse would be my pick. Halle Berry has said she didn't want to do another sequel and that's okay. Wolverine is the overwhelming fan favourite character and Hugh Jackman could spend the next dozen years doing nothing more than playing Wolverine on screen and working on Broadway in his off-time (perhaps with Katharine McPhee).

Then take your pick of other characters to introduce: Gambit, Cannonball, Emma Frost, Cable, Bishop or [insert your favourite here].

I would like to see Kelsey Grammer come back as Beast and Colossus has a lot of potential. And bring back Nightcrawler!

Other than that, I hope you'll check this movie out. It's a lot of fun and not nearly as serious as The Da Vinci Code.

My score: 7 out of 10

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

American Idol 5: The Finale

So who will it be?

Taylor of Katharine?

Well, we've got an hour and fifty eight minutes of filler and two minutes of meaningful TV: the results. I'm starting this halfway through the show, so I may be blogging the events out of the order in which they actually appeared.

The show opens with Carrie and the 12 finalists singing some new song that is just as sucktastic as the songs VCM and DLS had to sing last night. Plus, they get the choir (sans robes). Aren't the 13 of them enough? Why the extra help? I'm thinking they wanted to see how many people they could pack on to the stage at teh Kodak.

Then it's off to the filler. Randy is shown giving a lesson in R-bonics, then Paula is crying and Simon is being conceited (again). At least we get to see VCM's hot sister and VCM's hot mom, and like Katharine, Mommy is showing off the girls, too.

I miss Matt and super-punchy LaToya at the hometown celebrations.

Paris is up singing with Al Jarreau and then Chris gets to sing with Live. I flipped over to X-Men 2: X-Men United over on F/X because neither performance seemed particularly great for me.

Then we see American Idol having some fun at Kellie's expense with some escargot. This "Puck and Pickler" is going to be a recurring segment throughout the night; I have a bad feeling about it. At least it was Wolfgang Puck and not Real World: San Francisco Puck.

Next up is a guy group sing. As you were watching Chris, did anyone else get the feeling that Chris was hating every minute of it? When Taylor came out, you could practically hear him thinking, "That should have been me." Bucky, of course, was just happy to be there.

Now it's time to poke some fun at the bad auditions. Didn't we get enough of this crap in the early rounds? I did. At least we get to see Crazy Dave one more time. Hey, his name's Dave, how bad can he be?

VCM gets a duet with Meatloaf and they're not singing, "I Would Do Any Thing for Love (But I Won't Do That)". Instead, it's, "It's All Coming Back to Me Now" in violation of Idol Commandment V: Thou shalt not sing a song by Whitney, Mariah or Celine unless thou art actually Whitney, Mariah or Celine. Mr. Loaf sounds bad; even he can't pull off the AFE. Judging by this song, Katharine could have a long and glorious career on Broadway because she was a lot better than she should have been, and a lot better than Mr. Loaf. And if she had worn a few more cleavage-enhancing outfits like that this season, she might have won.

Elliott's mom wins the award for Best Family Moment or something like that and then her boy is on with Mary J. Blige. He was good, although there wasn't much of duet going on. And did you see how Mary J. abandoned the stage as soon as the song was over. I wonder if she had a hot date or something.

Carrie Underwood gets to sing. Yeah, she won last year. Are we also going to get to hear Fantasia, Reuben and Kelly?

Taylor gets his duet with Toni Braxton singing "In the Ghetto". Also blah.

It's time for the girl group sing. And look, Kellie can spell "w-o-m-a-n" but she still can't pronounce "calamari". They're all looking good, except for Paris and Lisa (because if I say they're looking hot, it makes me into a creppy perv). Why didn't Melissa wear more of those outfits (and remember the words)? She probably would have outlasted Bucky.

Seacrest is hawking the Idol tour. Who's going?

Then the bad Clay impersonator comes out. I have a feeling that someone among the Claymates knows a hit man and will have him taken out after the show. He's singing now; I'll bet Clay is there, too. Yup, here comes Clay. Who else saw this coming? This is almost as good as Michael Knight coming out for Dirk and Adam last year. I think they turned the other guy's microphone off half way through.

And now we're off to another medley. It's the finalists with Burt Bacharach. The guys are in black, and the girls are in red. I'm not crazy about ABM's new haircut and I miss Melissa. I don't know what Ace's problem is tonight; he's almost—almost—been falsetto-free tonight. What's up with that? Lisa has too much make-up on; she almost looks like Liza Minelli. The rest of the medley is king of blah; didn't we hear all these songs last year (or was it the year before?) when they had the Burt Bacharach night?

Dionne Warwick must share the same Botox guys with Hall & Oates; at least she doesn't look as freakish as Kenny Rogers. They're singing "That's What Friends Are For" and I think I'm about to throw up; this show is so sugary, it's sickening.

Update: It's 9:38 and we're still FRC-free.

Yay! It's an X-Men 3 preview. I am so there. And since I went to see "The Da Vinci Code" last weekend with my wife, she can't say no.

Here comes Garrett. As the re-hashed "Brokenote Mountain" segment airs, the only question in my mind is what the cowboys are going to sing. Garrett sounds much better. Either the turkeys are giving him some feedback, or he's gotten some vocal coaching. I wonder if this discounts the guys from auditioning again. Along with the guy from Big & Rich, that makes two black guys in country music.

Holy Crap! It's Prince. Or whatever the hell he's calling himself now. How did American Idol get Prince? I'm not a Prince fan, but this is fab. I'm not aware that he has a CD that he would be pimping. Maybe he's a fan of the show.

(And he's shorter than Ryan.)

I am so going to be watching So You Think You Can Dance. Who's with me? I heard they replaced super-hot Catherine Zeta-Jones lookalike hostess Lauren Sanchez with someone else. I'll still watch it.

Taylor and Katharine are up singing "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" and they sound so much better than Bill Medley and his daughter did on "Dancing With the Stars 2". It's 9:56 and they're either pressed for time or they're going to run over.

And look, there actually is and independent auditor who certified the results. I guess the phone calls and text messages do count.

Seacrest is rushed for time. There's not unnecessary drama. No drawn out cliffhanger. No "after the break".

The winner is Taylor.

How can they run short on time with two hours?

I guess Fox found a way.

The judges don't even get a final word. And Katharine doesn't get a proper send-off.

He's singing that horrible tune they saddled him with last night. And the choir is back (with robes, this time). I hope the pryrotechnics don't set anyone on fire.

And that's it for American Idol, season 5. Rushed for time.

I think that after Elliott's elimination last week, there was no doubt that Taylor was going to win. Dialidol showed him ahead by a wide margin and it's probably due to a lot of ABK (anybody but Katharine) votes. He deserves it and has been ahead all year.

Sometime next week, I will probably post some final thoughts on the season, but let me say once again that this year the top 12 was probably the deepest group, top to bottom, that has ever made the finals. Aside from the top 4 finalists, there were three others who were very good (Paris, Lisa, Mandisa), three who were above average (Ace, Kellie, Melissa) and only two who put into the top group based on their personality rather than their singing (Kevin, Bucky).

That 10 out of the 12 finalists had the potential, maybe not to be the American Idol, but weren't in the finals undeservedly (like others from past seasons) speaks volumes about the quality of the competition this year.

So go Taylor! SOUL PATROL!!!!!

And congrats, too, to Katharine, for coming on strong at the end, making a game of the last few weeks and keeping the final show from being a complete guyfest.

Also, thanks to Fox for keeping the finale free of FRC eye-boinks.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Who the hell writes this crap?

Cue the blog.

Of course, we couldn't get through the final singing episode without a gratuitious eye-boink from FRC and not one, but two crappy "original" songs.

On to the reviews.

We find out that there was a coin toss after the results show last week. Taylor won, and because he must read this blog, he knows that going into the final three, the person going first is 5 of 9 (56%) to be in the bottom three and that has resulted in two eliminations. Actually, the Dead Man's Spot has earned it's name this year because ell-E-ott got whacked going from the one-hole last week, making the total eliminations three. Taylor wisely chose to go last and gives VCM the shaft.

Her first song is the well-received "Black Horse and a Cherry Tree" from a couple of weeks ago. I thought it was better than the first time she performed it and she got up off the floor, danced around and rubbed up against her drummers a little. It wasn't great, but it wasn't as bad as the judges said, either.
The High Lord's Score: 8

Now DLS goes and he sings "Living for the City". He was fun, on pitch and aside from the jacket, he was the winner of the first round. Not by much, but the crowd wasn't on their feet dancing for Katharine. Who else thought that Simon was going to make a snide comment about being a lounge singer based on Taylor's wardrobe? If your hand's not up, you're lying.
The High Lord's Score:

When the song choice spoilers started appearing on the internet yesterday and today, many people said it would be a mistake for Katharine to sing "Over the Rainbow" so soon after performing it last week. Hogwash. It was her best performance of the season. This show, each of the finalists needs to be 100% balls-to-the-wall and even if the top shelf song is only 7 days old, by golly, bring that puppy out again. It wasn't better than last week, but it did remind everyone as to why she is deservedly in the finals.
The High Lord's Score:

[soapbox mode=on]

I'd like to bring it down for a moment to get real with you, the reader.

There are a lot of folks out there who dislike Katharine for a variety of reasons. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and that's fine.

However it seems to me that many people are piling on to VCM for some reasons that don't entirely make sense. At the beginning of the season, some people (myself included) said that VCM, Sergeant Hooks and BBG were girls who were born with silver spoons in their mouthes and were taking up the space of a person who might not have the opportunity they did.

After all, Katharine does come from what appears to be a fairly affluent (but not 90210-wealthy) neighbourhood, her mom is a vocal coach and she is absolutely drop-dead gorgeous. Those are facts, and are not up for dispute.

What I do dispute is that just because Katharine is pretty and wasn't working in a pharmacy or auto shop before American Idol doesn't mean you should pile on.

If you dislike Katharine, dislike her because she oversings power-ballads and has pitch problems when she tries too hard, not because she looks like Suzie McDonnell from 7th grade and Suzie wouldn't talk to you.

Some people say she's stuck up and snobby, but frankly I don't see it. I think she made some errors this year both in terms of performance and song choice, but when she was on, she was on.

If you vote(d) for Taylor, please do it because you were voting for him, not because you are a disgruntled Elliott fan who is voting against Katharine.

Thank you for your time.

[/soapbox mode]

With his second song, Taylor comes to us with "Levon". Why are they each singing two songs that they have done previously? Why not one new song, one past performance and the crappy orginial song? I did not care for the song the first time and didn't care for it again. He is trying to show that he can sing two different styles; after the fun and energetic opener, he delivers a yawner. He's on key, but that's about it. Simon says that he won the first round and Katharine won the second round, and the Brit is right once again.
The High Lord's Score: 8

Now that the two finalists have had their choice for two songs, Fox/19TV goes AFE on us and shows us two different power-ballads which Taylor and Katharine will release as their first singles. Both songs suck.

VCM goes first and for the second time in two weeks, Randy tells us that the song was all wrong for her. And also for the second time in two weeks, it's not Katharine's fault. She got the shaft all night. She had to go first and she drew the crapper of the two crappy songs, some drivel called "My Destiny". Did you see her at the end of the song (right after a bad note)? The look on her face was pure, "Who's the (bleepard) who writes this (bleep)-damn monkey-(bleeping) (bleep)?" Paula was right; Katharine is much, much better than the craptastic song she got stuck with.
The High Lord's Score:

Not to leave Taylor out, Fox/19TV proves that they are equal-opportunity in the way they hose the finalists. They give him a song that reportedly wasn't written by Tamyra Gray and Nick Lachey, but I'm sure even those two could come up with something better. On Dave's Meter O' Suckitude, "Do I Make You Proud" turned it all the way up to 11. Was it just me or did it seem like during the first part of the song he was trying to figure out what key he was supposed to be in?
The High Lord's Score:

According to my scoring, the two should be in a dead heat. Simon said Taylor is going to win and he's probably right.

Since Chris's ouster two weeks ago, and then Elliott's dismissal, there has been a backlash against Katharine in the blogosphere, mostly for the reasons I stated above in my rant. According to Dialidol, Taylor has been one of the prohibitive favourites all year, so it shouldn't be surprising if he wins.

What was surprising was that last week, only 200,000 or so votes separated first and second place. Who was in which position? Presumably Taylor was the top vote-getter, but 200,000 is not a wide margin by any means.

What about Simon's comments that Taylor just won? Could that spur an oubreak of McPheever as VCM's fans burn up the lines and their cell phones calling/texting away? And what about reports that Katharine's dad is paying a firm to vote for his daughter for the full four hours tonight?

I think this is going to go down to the wire. Who has the more dedicated core of powervoters?

Randy obviously wants Taylor to win. He said at the beginning of the singing that he thought a guy would win. Then he picks on Katharine for shaky songs when she didn't pick them, but doesn't call Taylor out for the same. Paula would be happy with either one winning (and by the way, she was showing off the girls tonight, wasn't she? I'm sure that was just for me!).

I don't know how to read Simon's take on this. He said Taylor was going to win, but (as a music executive) is that what he wants? After all, as Seacrest pointed out, Simon passed on Taylor in the audition rounds. Is Taylor marketable in the mainstream? Is he, like Chris, a one-trick pony who will sell lots of tickets to his shows but not sell CDs?

Katharine is a much more finished, market-ready product. She's pretty, can sing when she doesn't over-reach and seems to have been bred for the spotlight. But the same could be said for a lot of girls.

I'm going to call the winner tomorrow night and it's . . .

Taylor.

It's going to be close, but between the Elliott fans voting for him and VCM getting stuck with a horrid final song, she's going to end up as the first runner-up (which Clay and Bo have proven, isn't always a bad place to finish).

Now can someone please explain to me why we need two hours tomorrow night for what should be a five minute results show. At least we'll get to see Kevin again and have a couple of crappy group sings.

We can only hope that FRC is no where to be seen and that there are more shots of Katharine's hot sister (she's probably 15 and I'm now going to jail for blogging about my impure thoughts starring her).

High Lord. Out.

Idol updates

I know I'm not Jennifer with hourly updates and all that, but I was perusing MSNBC's Idol links and found a couple of interesting articles.

Why Fox/19TV should release the vote totals

12 Unanswered American Idol Questions

Plus some other stuff:

American Idol Steel Cage, Round 3 (yes, that means there have been two previous rounds)

Why the World Stops When American Idol Starts

And, as always, check out DJ Slim's place or check in with Jennifer to read people who have more free time than me.

Monday, May 22, 2006

The Da Vinci Code

My wife and I went to see The Da Vinci Code on Friday afternoon. For the record, I have not read the book (although I started in Sunday afternoon) and I am marginally familiar with the arguments that people have in protesting it.

First of all, I thought it was pretty good. Not great for a Ron Howard/Tom Hanks flick (like Splash or Apollo 13), kind of long, but then again, it wasn't as bad as some of the reviews I've read.

The pacing is rather odd. Some of the chase scenes aren't as urgent as I would have expected and some of the plot exposition scenes have a kind of Aaron Sorkin "let's see how many words we can pack into the next 60 seconds" feel. Plus, it's long. Not "Lord of the Rings" long, but long. And the 15 minutes of previews didn't make the movie any shorter.

If you don't want to read any spoilers, stop now.
Also, if you think Dan Brown and anyone associated with this movie is going to hell, you need to stop reading, too.
This is your only warning.


I thought Howard and screenwriter Akiva (Cinderella Man) Goldsman did a good job of advancing the plot and explaining a lot of things in a way that was quick and didn't get bogged down in minutae.

The protestors who have been bitching and moaning would have been much better off ignoring the movie than giving it free publicity. I, for one, was interested in the movie, because of the bruhaha, not in spite of it. If it hadn't gotten the Catholics and the fundy Christians up in arms, I probably wouldn't have gone (wait, that's not quite right, I would have gone because my wife wanted to see it and I want to see the new X-Men movie this next weekend).

For me, the basic premise that Jesus had a wife and possibly children is very plausible. After all, in his day and time, boys became men at the age of 13 and were expected to marry and have children. Still today, what is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear that a guy is 30 years old and has never been married? Since the Catholics and fundy Christians don't like homosexuals, you'd think they'd want him to be married, right?

If Jesus was both wholly divine and wholly human, why couldn't he have been married? I think the people who are upset by this are either so insecure in their faith that it can be shaken by a work of fiction or are just looking for something to pile on to Hollywood about.

I heard that before the movie opened, the Catholics wanted a disclaimer at the beginning of the movie that it was based on a book and isn't factual. I wonder what they'd say if poeple also demanded that a similar disclaimer was put at the beginning of The Passion of the Christ? After all, that movie, too, is based on a book with no coroborating evidence.

Do we think that people can't tell the difference between fact and fiction any more? I don't recall a disclaimer at the beginning of Glory that while the movie was based on real people and real events, some of the scenes were fictionalised or altered for cinematic content. Or do we need a disclaimer at the beginning of the Star Wars movies saying that they didn't really happen a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away?

This is absurd.

If you want to see a fairly entertaining movie, go see the Da Vinci Code. If you take your religion a little too seriously, stay home.

I'll get of my soapbox now.

The movie unfolds very much like National Treasure. There are places to go, things to find and mysteries to unravel. Not having read the book, I thought the way the story unfolded was very clever. As I am reading the book, some of the things are making a lot more sense, but Howard and Goldsman did a good job of not making too many inside-only references or assuming that the audience knows more than what is presented by the film.

There are two plot holes I saw and still cannot reconcile.

First of all, the French police captain, Bezu Fache (played by Jean Reno) is convinced that Robert Langdon (Hanks) is the killer. How does he come to this realisation, aside from his Opus Dei tipster telling him so? At the beginning of the movie, Langdon is giving a lecture. Then he is at a book signing. Then Sauniere is murdered. When would Langdon have had time to kill a man after the Louvre had closed and still have time between the lecture and the book signing. There is French equivalent to CSI, right? Couldn't they have told Fache when Saunier was killed and checked it against Langdon's alibi? The book is a little clearer with the timeline, but the movie left me shaking my head.

Second, we are given no indication as to why Sophie (Audrey Tautou) wants to help Langdon out. What is her motive? The movie never really lets us know, although as I said, the book is a little more informative.

My wife, who enjoyed the book, said that she thought they did a good job with the movie and after 150 pages, I agree, especially since I didn't feel lost after not reading the book.

The rest of the movie flows like clockwork. All the loose ends are wrapped up and the twists are hidden well. So aside from those two plot questions, I'd say they did a pretty good job.

If not for the protests and outrage that seem to have fueled the box office bonanza rather than stifled it, I'm not sure The Da Vinci Code would have gone much beyond blockbuster status (the Hanks/Howard duo is as much of a surefire $100 million movie as they come), but thanks to the free publicity, it will do much, much better.

See what happens when you make a big deal out of something? It just sells more. It doesn't go away.

Anyway, if you go see the movie, be prepared to get gouged for popcorn and candy, but make sure that you go to a theater with comfortable seats.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The anti-shocker

Cue the blog.

Tonight we found out that Fox doesn't have any episodes of Stacked sitting in a vault because they stretched what should have been a 5 minute show into 60.

The blogosphere is surely abuzz with dismay, but unlike last week, I doubt there are any cries of foul.

Elliott is surely the most improved finalist to make the top 3.

Kimberly Locke made a late charge but she was strong to begin with; she just had to hit her stride. Jasmine was simply the last person standing after the LaToya/George/Jennifer fiasco and Vonzell only had to be better than Anthony and Scott.

I have never been a great fan of Elliott, but when you watch him from the beginning until now, he has shown the most growth as a performer. Taylor has done his thing all season and it's carried him. Katharine had a good night and was the beneficiary of Chris's elimination and Simon picking a good song for her.

The fact that the vote totals were separated by 0.62% says that this season is a dead heat; the top two aren't Clay and Rueben leaving everyone else fighting for scraps.

It's a shame that of the final four this year, only one of them could win. Each is a strong finalist and they all have a lot of class (despite what the people who are piling on to VCM think). However, there can be only one, so that means one of the final three had to go.

The question now for the VCM and DLS fans is this: Who is going to pick up the Elliott voters.

I think a lot of them are going to go to Taylor on the assumption that Katharine is taking up the spot that Elliott should have had.

Among the blogs I've read, there is a considerable backlash against VCM. Some people don't like her because she's hawt and from an affluent community. Some people think she's conceited. Some people see that she oversings (which results in pitch problems) and think that Elliott's vocal control should have gotten him through to the finals.

However, American Idol is not a singing contest.

It's a popularity contest.

To believe otherwise is folly.

The percentages Seacrest flashed us show that there is no clear consensus about who the winner should be. Statistically, any one of the final three could have gotten whacked tonight.

It just happened to be Elliott. I'll be that if that same show aired a week later, the results would have been different and it may even have been Taylor getting to sing his final song. With 50 million votes and a spread of 0.62%, that's a difference of only 310,000 phone and text messaging votes between the first place and the last place finishers.

Elliott strikes me as the kind of guy who is truly grateful for the opportunity American Idol gave him and I think he'll maneuver that into some sort of success. Maybe not on the pop charts, but some where.

Now it's up to Taylor and Katharine to try and capture as many of his voters as they can going into next week.

High Lord. Out.

Laura is my hero

First of all, I can't believe we have to sit through an hour long show to get the results tonight. That's about 55 minutes longer than the show needs to be. What the hell are they going to do for that amount of time?

Now on to why Laura is my hero.

Yesterday, the author of Idol Review (and another person who has more free time than me), posted this map of where the 15 top 3 finalists from each season have come from.

Click on the image to see a larger version.



As funny as the image itself is read Laura's post for a laugh at Justin's expense.

Laura, I salute you and your mad photoshop skillz.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Top 3 night

Cue the blog.

Our friend Jennifer points out two things about the Top 3 night on American Idol. First of all, the second runner up has always been a woman. Second, the person going in the Dead Man's Spot has never advanced to the finals.

Going in the dreaded one-hole is [E.T voice=on]ell-E-ott[/E.T. voice], so one of those two trends is about to end.

Three other things we learned tonight:

1. Who needs the Wheel of Death™ when you have Clive Davis?

2. If the whole pop star thing doesn't work out for Katharine, she has a bright future either on Broadway or doing burlesque.

3. Taylor will go into the finals never having been in the bottom 2/3.

Also, it was refreshing to have a night when no one was bad. Sure, there were some lousy moments (mostly courtesy of Clive Davis), but if any of these three kids wins, I think people will still say, "They weren't my favourite, but I'm glad they won." It's not like the years when Jasmine and Anthony looked like they actually had a chance to win it all.

On to the recaps:

Elliott gets the dreaded lead off spot, which you wouldn't think would be that bad with three people left. After all, with three songs, it's like going fourth and seventh as well as first.

As he was singing tonight, I realised why I am not in the Elliott camp. I don't like soul/R&B music. I like Elliott, but I'd never buy his CD. What Elliott does is sing very, very well. After being saddled with "Open Arms", Elliott turned in very good renditions of "What You Won't Do For Love" and "I Believe to My Soul". I had some problems with his runs in "Open Arms"; they were unnecessary and he doesn't really have a big enough voice to pull that song off. If he had just stuck to the melody, he would have been much better off.

However, in the second and third rounds, he managed to get me to like him, even if I didn't care for the songs themselves.

Scores:

7½ for "Open Arms"
8 for "What You Won't Do For Love"
8½ for "I Believe to My Soul"

Clive Davis did VCM no favours in giving her "I Believe I Can Fly". Having said that, aside from one (really) bad note at the end, she actually gave a fairly respectable performance, which Simon called correctly. Randy "Song Choice" Jackson got a deserved smackdown when he told Katharine that it was the wrong song and she replied, "I didn't choose it!"

Katharine's version of "Over the Rainbow" wasn't as good as the judges said, but it did show off her voice and she didn't oversing it. Her final song also a lot more fun and while it was a let down from the second round, she wasn't as bad as the judges gave her.

Scores:

7½ for "I Believe I Can Fly"
9 for "Over the Rainbow"
8 for "I Ain't Got Nothin' But the Blues"

Getting the Pimp Spot for the week 10 show is DLS who had the strongest night of all the contestants. Of all the Springsteen songs to get for American Idol, why, oh, why did it have to be "Dancing in the Dark"? It would have been really funny if Courtney Cox Arquette had been in the audience, but aside from that, it was wretched (not Taylor's fault, though). He did the best he could do with what was handed to him.

I didn't care for the arrangement of "You Are So Beautiful" which seemed slower than Joe Cocker's version. Taylor got the perfect artist for his voice, but it seemed to drag on and on and on (again, not Taylor's fault).

"Try a Little Tenderness" was The Perfect Song. The spastic dancing at the end aside, the only other person who had the stars align for their style and voice was Bo when he did "Sweet Home Alabama". Taylor's final performance of the night got him a free pass from a trip to the seal tomorrow night.

Scores:

7½ for "Dancing in the Dark"
8 for "You Are So Beautiful"
9½ for "Try a Little Tenderness"


In looking at my scores, it is apparent to me that either Clive Davis hates the contestants or he's just trying to see how they'll do out of their element. In every case, the Clive Davis pick was the weakest performance of the night.

DLS - 9½ "Try a Little Tenderness"
VCM - 9 "Over the Rainbow"
ell-E-ott - 8½ "I Believe to My Soul"
DLS - 8 "You Are So Beautiful"
ell-E-ott - 8 "What You Won't Do For Love"
VCM - 8 "I Ain't Got Nothin' But the Blues"
DLS - 7½ "Dancing in the Dark"
ell-E-ott - 7½ "Open Arms"
VCM - 7½ "I Believe I Can Fly"

In watching this week's show, I think Fox/19E is in a real quandry about what to do with the winner. Katharine is the closest of the three to being a pop star, but she has shown that she is better off singing showtunes and the standards. Elliott belongs on the R&B charts and Taylor on the oldies station.

Not one of them will have the pop success of Kelly Clarkson or Clay Aiken.

If the goal of the year is to find a pop singer, then the show has been a failure every year after season 1. American Idol does show off undiscovered talent, but for the most part, the people who do well are the niche singers, and they don't translate to pop sales very well. I don't look for that to change any this year.

My pick to be eliminated this week is Elliott.

I know Katharine has been hurting in the voting lately, but I think that Elliott is going to be the one left standing when the music stops tomorrow night.

Who will pick up the Chris voters? That's the big question. Will they boycott the show? Or will they just not vote?

I don't see a lot of crossover from Chris to Elliott. VCM might be the big beneficiary from his elimination because she's the hottie getting all the boys's votes, and the young girls voting for Chris might decide to go the girl-power way and vote for her, too.

Who can tell at this point?

Right now, I'm picking VCM and Taylor to give us a guy/girl finale next week.

High Lord. Out.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Scandal!

My next post will have more than a one-word title, I promise.

According to MSNBC, some people saying they were trying to vote for Chris instead heard that they had placed a vote (or two or a dozen) for Katharine.

Amid cries of foul, these disenfranchised fans are wanting a recount. According to Dialidol, AWG and VCM were in a statistical tie for 3rd and 4th places this week, a handful of mis-directed votes could have been crucial.

Frankly, I don't see this as happening.

American Idol doesn't need another voting scandal and since the alleged mix-up wasn't blatant (like the Anwar, Jessica, Anthony incident last year), Fox just wants to move on.

After all, the more I think about it, the less I think they wanted Chris to win. Let's face it, the winner of American Idol is supposed to make pop records. Of the four winners, only one can claim success. Rueben has disappeared into R&B and gospel land, Fantasia is on Nickelodeon every now and then and Carrie has gone on to conquer the Nashville charts.

Only Kelly Clarkson can claim pop success.

Chris was never going to make a pop record. He is going to make rock records. He's not going to kowtow to the Idol machine. If anything, he'll tell 19E to shove it and sue them to get out of his contract (like Clay and Kelly before him).

So those who like Chris shouldn't be pissed that he's gone from the show. You should be happy. He can make the kinds of CDs you want to hear, not what American Idol thinks they can sell.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Shocker

Cue the blog.

Batten down the hatches. Board up your windows. There is going to be blood in the streets tonight.

First of all, let me congratulate myself on calling Chris's elimination tonight.

While there is surely outrage in the blogosphere, I can't say I'm really surprised. The reason can be summed up in what Simon said, "You're the first person in the history of this competition who has refused to compromise."

That's why he's gone. He didn't compromise.

(Side note: Simon is incorrect; Nadia didn't compromise but she got whacked earlier).

In order to win, you to play the game. Chris didn't.

Of course, if you play the game too well, like a certain faux-rocker, you get whacked early, too. So the trick is finding the right mix of sucking up to the audience and still retaining an identity and the unique qualities that got you this far.

To be fair to Chris, I see him as being the most commercially successful of the final four this year. And, like Bo, not winning may work out the best for him in the long run. He won't be contrained by the American Idol machine and he can do what he does best.

Make no mistake about it, Chris was the best package of the remaining finalists. Elliott has an image problem. Taylor is a lot of fun and will sell out clubs, but won't sound near as good on CD as any of the other three. Katharine is super-hawt but she tends to oversing and that results in pitch problems.

There was no clear front-runner among the remining four, and I don't think Chris absorbed enough of the eliminated contestants's powervoters to make it any further. By not playing the game, he let Bucky's voters go to Elliott, Kellie and Paris's voters go to Katharine while only picking up a few of Ace's voters who were supporting the hottie.

How 'bout that group sing? It started off as pure camp and devolved into a bunch of Elvis songs I didn't know. At least the Ford product-placement had Kermit the Frog in it.

So that leaves us with VCM, ell-E-ott and DLS as the top 3. Who's going to win? I think I'll have to ponder this for a day or two before making my call.

And if you're pissed at me for correctly calling Chris's ouster last night, make sure you light my car on fire, not my house.

High Lord. Out.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Elvis lives!

Cue the blog.

When I heard that the kids were singing two Elvis songs this week, at first I was nervous. Aside from Taylor, none of the final four are really built for an Elvis-themed week. Plus, I'd rather hear them sing more contemporary songs similar to what will be on their albums (make no mistake, each of these four is going to get a record deal).

Going in, the conventional wisdom is that Taylor and Chris have the finals locked up and Katharine and Elliott are fighting for third place. In fact, a lot of people I know are hoping for an all-guy top 3. After this week, I don't know that this will come to be.

On to the reviews.

Going in the Dead Man's Spot is DLS and it probably won't land him in the bottom 2 this week. His performance of "Jailhouse Rock" was a lot of fun. I give him a 9½ for the performance, about a 7½ for the singing. I think "In the Ghetto" is Taylor's defining performance so far. I liked it a lot. He didn't over-perform and his vocals were spot-on. I'd look for him to reverse the curse of going first (say that three times fast).
Flash Judgment: 8½ for "Jailhouse Rock"
Flash Judgment: 9 for "In the Ghetto"

We all know AWG is a one-trick pony and I think it's going to catch up to him this week. I am tired of the way he tilts his head back, glares into the camera and screams. "Suspicious Minds" was good; not spectacular, but good. "A Little Less Conversation" was bad, and not in the good way. When he started, he reminded me of the people who host SNL and aren't used to being on live TV. It was like he was reading a teleprompter throughout the song. Chris has some rabid fans, but I don't know that he is going to bring in enough of the "on the fence" voters to keep him out of the bottom 2 this week. Oh, and the needless screaming at the end was a bit much.
Flash Judgment: 8 for "Suspicious Minds"
Flash Judgment: 7 for "A Little Less Conversation"

In real danger of elimination this week is [E.T. voice=on]ell-E-ott[/E.T. voice]. Like Simon said, he was out for blood. Over the past several weeks he's developed a set of rabid powervoters who will have to work overtime to keep him around. His problem is that he doesn't "wow!" people. He's a good vocalist, second to Katharine, and he leaves everything on the stage, but I just don't see anyone other than his powervoters really wanting to pick up the phone for him (which is too bad). I think the judges gushing over him might lead to a false sense of security among his supporters and spell T-R-O-U-B-L-E when it comes time to vote. For me, I give him average scores because I can't even remember how he sang each song.
Flash Judgment: 7½ for "If I Can Dream"
Flash Judgment: 7½ for "Trouble"

Wrapping up the show in the Pimp Spot is VCM who Simon has been pretty hard on over the past few weeks. I really enjoyed her first performance, the mix of "Hound Dog" and "All Shook Up". It showed originality and spunk. Plus she got to shake all the junk in her trunk for the cameras. If she hadn't dropped half a line in the middle, I'd have rated her half a point higher. After being thankfully absent for most of the past few weeks, the AFE caught up with us and VCM brought it on. She started out okay, but as Simon rightfully said, she oversang the middle and threw in a couple of gratuitious eye-boinks at the end. She's showing off her pipes, which are the best of the final four.
Flash Judgment: 8½ for "Hound Dog/All Shook Up"
Flash Judgment: 7½ for "Can't Help Falling in Love"

Of the four remaining contestants, I think Chris will go on to the most commercial success. With him, you know exactly what you're going to get and he delivers. I am tired of the angry white guy act, but it will sell records, and that's what this show is about. He's got a good studio voice and while he hasn't shown a lot of versatility, so what? It's not like he's going to be cutting a CD with 10 songs and 10 different genres and styles. He's going to do his thing and do it well.

Having said that, of all the contestants this week, he was the weakest.

Taylor won't sell a lot of records, and I think that scares the bejezus out of Fox/19TV/Clive Davis. I think The Powers That Be that run AI are crapping marbles at the idea of trying to market this guy as the next American Idol. Sure, he'll fill clubs and he's a lot of fun, but I don't think he'll be a commercial success.

Elliott and Katharine could both put out quality records and VCM will put more asses in the seats because she's hawt. Both deserve to be put through this week.

I am going to make a surprise call this week and announce that there will be a "shocker" elimination tomorrow.

To recap the scores:

DLS - 9 "In the Ghetto"
DLS - 8½ "Jailhouse Rock"
VCM - 8½ "Hound Dog/All Shook Up"
AWG - 8 "Suspicious Minds"
ell-E-ott - 7½ "If I Can Dream"
ell-E-ott - 7½ "Trouble"
VCM - 7½ "Can't Help Falling in Love"
AWG - 7 "A Little less Conversation"

Who should be in the bottom 2: Chris, Elliott
Who will be in the bottom 2: Chris, Elliott

Who should go home: Elliott
Who will go home: Chris

That's right, folks. You heard it here first: Chris is going to get whacked on Wednesday.

Of course, I've been wrong before (lots of times), but based on this week alone, I thought Chris was weak and that his schtick is starting to wear people out.

High Lord. Out.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

I don't blame the oil companies

Well, not completely.

There is no doubt in my mind that we are being gouged at the fuel pump. When the price of oil goes up, the price at the pump goes up almost immediately. However, when the price of oil drops, it might take a week or two for the price at the pump to go back down. Don't tell me that someone isn't lining their pockets in the mean time. That would insult our collective intelligence.

Having said that, not all of the latest fuel crunch can be blamed on ExxonMobil or BP.

I blame car manufacturers and I blame the public.

Let me say right off that I own an SUV. That's right, I have a gas-guzzler in my driveway. It's not one of the big ones, but it's an SUV nonetheless.

About a year and a half ago, my wife decided she wanted something bigger than her little Saturn SC1. So she drove a couple of cars like a Civic sedan and a Camry. But what she really wanted was an SUV. It sat up higher, was more comfortable and bigger. So we drove a Toyota RAV4, Hyundai Santa Fe and a Honda CR-V.

She absolutely did not want a minivan. Never mind that they're bigger, hold more stuff and because they not built on truck platforms, are (a little) more fuel efficient. So when gas was still at the bargain price of $1.79 a gallon, she traded her Saturn coupe for the CR-V.

I warned her that she would be getting about 10 miles per gallon less but she claimed it wouldn't be that bad and ultimately, it didn't matter.

True enough, instead of getting the 29 mpg (city) she was getting in the Saturn, she gets about 18 mpg (city) in the CR-V. The gas tank is about the same size, but now she only gets about 200 miles out of a tank instead of 300.

What's scary is that we don't even own a big SUV. I can't imagine how bad it would be if we owned say a Chevy/GMC Suburban or Ford Expedition. So I say that part of our collective problem is that we (the public) have brought a little of this upon ourselves because people want big road-hogging, gas-guzzling SUVs that very few people ever take off road and that no one really needs.

Yes, we want them, but no, we don't need them.

The other people I blame is the car makers, and specifically GM and Ford.

Over the past 10 years, what have they done to increase fuel effiency? Not a lot. In fact, because they have such a high profit margin on large SUVs, they actually encouraged the public not to buy their cars and to buy Trailblazers, Envoys and Excursions.

And in their cars, they did nothing except put out pieces of crap set on wheels and condidtioned people to believe that if they wanted a car to go buy a Honda or a Toyota.

I own a 2001 Oldsmobile Alero, and as I have stated before, it's been nothing but a bucket of bolts, pretty much since I bought it.

What really burns me up about this car is that GM seems to have backtracked on it's development.

When I was in college, I owned a 1992 Pontiac Grand Am. It had the 3.3L V-6 engine along with a 3 speed automatic transmission. It got 19 mpg city and 29 mpg highway.

My Alero is (mechanically) the same car as the 2001 Grand Am and therefore is the direct descendent of the Pontiac I used to own. It gets the exact same gas mileage.

"Well what do you expect?" you ask. "It's the same car."

Not quite. My Alero has GM's 2.4L inline 4-cylinder with a 5 speed manual transmission.

That's right, my engine displaces 9L less, has two fewer cylinders and a manual transmission. Plus it's a coupe, not a sedan like my Grand Am, so it weighs less, too.

How is it that the current itineration of a car that was built a decade ago not only wasn't made more fuel efficient, it was made less fuel efficient?

Of course, I knew this when I bought it, so I must take full responsibility for the fuel quandry I am in right now.

However, what this does is really make me not want to buy another GM product. On top of the other problems I have had with this thing, the fact that GM has done nothing to boost fuel economy when the technology is clearly there makes me happy that Toyota and Honda are eating into their market share.

Maybe one day Toyota will own GM and turn things around.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Don't move, DIRTBAG!!!!!

Cue the blog.

Alas, poor Paris . . .

Week 8, two-spot curse struck again. Jennifer was right. It's the new curse of death.

That and the Dead Man's Spot lived up to its billing, landing another contestant in the bottom 2.

This is where the competition gets tough to predict. The conventional wisdom has been that this was Sergeant Hooks's week to get canned. After all, she is the youngest of the remaining finalists and from what I have seen hasn't absorbed any of the other eliminated contestants's fans.

There has been a backlash against Paris from the get-go. Some people think she's cute, she definitely can sing, but the fact that she comes from a musical family and seems to be trading on her Grammy®-winning grandmother's name eliminated her from serious consideration as a winner of this competition.

Myself, I never warmed up to Paris, and it's my fault. I can't get past the way she talks and that she is the one person in the top 24 who really doesn't need American Idol in the same way others do.

Having said that, she's got quite a set of pipes on her. I think Clive Davis is trying to sign her as we speak because she'll do well if she doesn't get too cute and sticks with what she is good at (she might have a big, big future on Broadway).

That leaves us with AWG, DLS, VCM and ell-E-ott as the remaining contestants. What's great about this year is that no one is (right now) the run-away winner.

The best year for American Idol was season two, which featured Rueben and Clay plus two others who came on strong at the end, Kimberley Locke and Trenyce. However, unlike that year, when everyone knew Clay and Rueben would be in the finals, this year it's wide open.

Most of the blogosphere says that Katharine is going to get whacked next week, making the final three a sausagefest, but I disagree. I think Elliott is in the hot seat for next week.

He had two shaky song choices this week and that may have cost him some of the momentum he had. Now they have to sing not one, but two, Elvis songs and that might spell trouble for Mr. Yamin.

Taylor should be in good shape if he sings something like "In the Ghetto" and Chris can probably cover The King pretty well (think "Jailhouse Rock"). I'd like to hear VCM bust out with a "Viva Las Vegas" but I don't know what Elliott should bring.

VCM has her own troubles, namely a case of the nerves, but I thinks he could rebound and find herself upsetting one of the boys to make the finals. After all, she is the last standard-bearer for the "girl power" votes and she is easily the hawt-est female finalist since Kimberly Caldwell (and after K.C. cut her hair and went blonde, she's not quite so hot).

So here's to what's shaping up to be an excellent three weeks to close out season 5. We can only hope that the remaining singers deliver.

The recap for those keeping score:

The Dead Man's Spot: 5 of 8 in the bottom 3, 2 eliminations
The Pimp Spot: 0 of 8 in the bottom 3, 0 eliminations
The Week 8, 2-hole curse: 5 of 5 elimations

Interestingly, all of the remaining four finalists have sung in the pimp spot this year; Chris has gotten it twice.

That's it for me.

High Lord. Out.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Seven down, five to go

Someone at Fox must have gotten on the director of American Idol because the show started on time and even though the singers didn't get that much time to sing, they judges's comments were short and there's wasn't too much unnecessary banter out of Seacrest.

I guess it helps that there was no has-been pimping their new CD this week to take up time, too.

Let me also say that of the past four seasons, this is probably the deepest that the top five have ever been. There is not one person in the final five who if they win, won't cause general outrage. Imagine what would have happened if Scott, Anthony or Jasmine had won. The streets would have run red with blood.

Now on to the reviews.

Going in the Dead Man's Spot is [E.T voice=on]ell-E-ott[/E.T. voice]. His first song needs to be yanked from the Idol songbook and never sung again. He was a little pitchy and I never got the feeling that he was ready. His second song was better and although I thought it was a little slow at a time when he needs to make a statement, he was in tune and I think it was the kind of song his audience wants to hear from him.
Flash Judgment: 7½ for "On Broadway"
Flash Judgment: 8 for "Home"

According to our friend Jennifer, the person going in the two hole on week 8 of the competition has been whacked every year of the show. And people say that I have too much free time. At any rate, if the trend continues (and Jennifer is all about the trends), then Sergeant Hooks is going to get sent packing this week.

In her first song, Paris cheats a little because Prince actually recorded "Kiss" in 1986, but Tom Jones covered it in 1988, which is why she gets to sing it as a song from the year of her birth. I liked that she looked like she was having fun, but I still hate that song. Her second number was a little better. Not great, but not bad either. She has tremendous vocal control (this week, even more so than Katharine) and it's too bad I can't get past the way she talks to like her.
Flash Judgment: 7½ for "Kiss"
Flash Judgment: 7½ for "Be Without You"

Living up to my nickname for him, AWG stays true to form and rocks on. I still wish he'd do something other than stand there and glare at the camera/audience and for his first song, he does the Bo move and takes the mic to the stage behind the judges. It's classic Chris, and I mean that in the nicest way possible. You know exactly what he's going to do, how he's going to do it, and best of all, he's going to be in tune . . . At least until his second song, when Pitchy shows up (maybe he was chained to Chris's leg). Again, he does the same basic act, and although I'm tired of it, he had a strong night.
Flash Judgment: 8 for "Renegade"
Flash Judgment: 7½ for "I Dare You"

In the four-hole is VCM who looked extra-nervous. It showed through on her frist song and for the first time since the finals started, she was off her game. It didn't help she was also singing a song that needs to be permanently retired from the AI catalog. Her second number was refreshing and unlike anything we've seen. It helps that her stronger song was the second one because if she had sung those in reverse order, she might be in real danger of going home this week.
Flash Judgment: 6½ for "Against All Odds"
Flash Judgment: 8½ for "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree"

Getting the Pimp Spot this week is DLS who lived up to my nickname for him. He came out and had a great time. Never mind that he sounded like any karaoke bar in any city in any country. His shirt was horrible, but none of that mattered. Taylor rocked the house. For his second act, he gets to be the first person to perform a Beatles song on American Idol (whoever owns the rights to those songs has never allowed them to be sung) but someone how he circumvents the modern top 10 and gets to sing a song that is 30 years old. As Simon reminds us, Taylor really can sing when he's not writhing around on the floor and I thought it was good (even if that is one of my least favourite Beatles songs).
Flash Judgment: 8½ for "Play That Funky Music"
Flash Judgment: 8 for "Something"

Did everyone see Miracle Baby and Ace? And did I catch a glimpse of VCM's hot sister. I tell you, we need more eye candy of the girl siblings, not just Ace's hot brother.

With 60% of the field going into the bottom 3 this week, I think it's pretty safe to say that Paris and Elliott are probably locks. If they do a full bottom 3, then I think VCM makes the third person, but I have a feeling we're only going to get a bottom 2 tomorrow night (and a group sing).

Who should be in the bottom 3: Elliott, Katharine, Paris
Who will be in the bottom 3: Elliott, Katharine, Paris

Who should go home: Paris
Who will go home: Paris

There you have it. I don't think that it's just the trend that Jennifer cites, I think Paris is, right now, the weakest link. Of course, that means that the top 4 next week is going to be very, very strong.

High Lord. Out.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Is there a draft in here?

Right now, I'm freezing my rear end off. It's supposed to warm up later today, but I'm wearing shorts in a building that's got the AC on.

You'd think that I'd have been excited about the NFL Draft this past weekend. You'd think that with no meaningful football to watch for another four months (give or take a couple of days), I'd be tuned in 24/7 to ESPN all day Saturday and Sunday.

But I wasn't.

Maybe it's because I had to finish a project for school. Or maybe it's because my Jaguars didn't get their first pick until #28 (and eight hours after the draft began).

I did turn the draft on early, but Michael Irvin was on and I switched the channel.

Yes, ESPN, while I was working on my project, rather than watch your network I flipped it to something else because I absolutely cannot stand Michael Irvin.

It boggles my mind that this guy has a job. And I know I'm not the only person out there who doesn't like him, either. I used to seriously consider skipping church every Sunday morning during football season to watch The Sports Reporters and ESPN Sunday Morning Countdown, and sometimes it happened.

Now that Irvin was inexplicably lured over from Fox, that's no longer a Sunday morning consideration.

It might be different if he had something to say. Tom Jackson has worthwhile things to say. Chris Mortensen has worthwhile things to say. Steve Young is okay, but at least he's not annoying as hell. Ron Jaworski not only has worthwhile things to say, but he can break down tape so football armchair idiots like me can understand it.

As a broadcaster and TV personality, Michael Irvin has no redeeming value. In fact, he hurts ESPN because whenever he starts talking I either mute the TV or switch over to Fox's pregame show.

What annoys me about Irvin is all the yelling. I think it's a bad habit he picked up over at Fox's B-level football show that's on FSN before the main event with JB, Terry, Howie and Jimmy. He is constantly talking over the other people just to be heard and when he says things, they're usually stupid.

I know Sterling Sharpe annoyed a lot of people and made a lot of enemies around the league because he said things that were God's honest truth and no one wants to hear that. But at least he stood up for what he said, he didn't beat around the bush and he actually offered a little bit of insight.

Irvin is just taking up space on my TV and he is the single reason why I spent my Saturday afternoon watching something other than the draft.

Otherwise, ESPN's coverage seemed to be pretty good.

I do wonder why the Texans didn't take Reggie Bush. If he blows up in New Orleans, are they going to be remembered as the guys who passed on Jordan?

One of the reasons why I heard the Texans were waffling on Bush was "signability". That is, they weren't sure they could get him under contract in time for training camp. So instead, they took Mario Williams, a guy who had a good second half of the season in 2005 and a good workout at the combine. They got Williams to agree to a contract before the draft, so they took him instead.

Fortunately, to keep this from happening again, I've got a way to fix this.

It astounds me that professional athletes coming out of college (or high school in some cases) are paid based on their "potential". Does any other profession do this? When I hired into my last full time job, they didn't offer me $80,000 in guaranteed money because I "might" work out. So why should professional athletes be any different.

There needs to be a rookie salary cap.

The players unions don't want any sort of salary cap, but I think this is one thing that veteran players would want. After all, teams tying up 5% of their salary cap in a player who had never played a meaningful down in the NFL, and that money could be going to proven veterans.

Pay for play.

I think there needs to be a one-year cap for all people coming in to the league. It's scaled based on draft position and applies to all teams. At the end of that first year, the team who drafted the player has the exclusive rights to negotiate with that player. If they work out, the team gets a boost and the player gets his money. If they don't, the team isn't out big bucks and they're not in salary cap hell trying to pay off Ryan Leaf for four years.

But then again, what do I know? I'm just a fan.