April 30, 2006
United 93: Movie Review
|[Posted by ]|
Like many other readers, I saw "United 93" this weekend. I have very mixed feelings about the movie.
First, it's actually two movies in one. One movie is about 9/11 from the perspective of NORAD, the FAA and air traffic controllers around the country. The other movie happens aboard United 93. The film unfolds in real time, so I think the ground story is told to help us understand the timing of what going on in the air. The problem is that until the last 20 minutes or so of the movie, the stuff happening on the ground is so much more interesting than what's happening on United 93. When the scene shifts to a flight attendant serving breakfast, I just got impatient (one thing this movie shows is that there are so many good 9/11 stories to be told. For example, I'd go to a movie just about the air traffic controllers that day.).
Frankly, the early "air" story is a little boring. The filmmakers were so determined to shed any Hollywood "emotion" from their movie that they don't do any kind of character development. The film is cast with relative unknowns, although sharp-eyed viewers will see Christian Clemenson (Socrates from Brisco County, Jr.) as would-be pilot Tom Burnett and Peter Hermann (he played the scientist who cloned Reva on Guiding Light, but is better known as Law & Order's Mariska Hargitay's real-life husband) as Jeremy Glick. The passengers are never formally identified by name, although most of the audience will recognize Todd Beamer from his baseball hat. In a way, I guess the filmmakers see them as representative Americans. But doesn't that cheat them of some of their heroism? Maybe anyone in that situation would fight back, but that shouldn't diminish the fact that they did.
So, yeah, I wanted to know more about the passengers. But that's my only real complaint about the movie. Even though you know how it's going to end, you still catch yourself wishing so hard for it to turn out differently. It's also a little amazing to me to realize how deeply I hate the terrorists on that plane. I hate them and I fervently hope they're burning in the hottest pit in hell. I read somewhere that the director did 40+ minute long takes in the plane and that afterward the actors playing the terrorists and the passengers broke down and sobbed and embraced. I can believe it. They all commit to their roles. I think that was probably easy to do for people who played heroes, but I applaud the actors who played the terrorists. They played evil and succeeded in making their characters completely unsympathetic. I liked watching the terrorist with the "bomb" go from being in control and threatening to the passengers to being scared to death of them.
I think we've all imagined what the last few minutes on that plane were like. For me, the film captured it. At the end of the day, I think that was the filmmakers' goal. We see the information exchanged and spread through the plane, final calls home, planning and a desperate battle. If you wanted to see this movie, that's what you wanted to see. Or, more accurately, what you needed to see.
All in all, I give the movie a 7.5 out of 10.
April 26, 2006
American Idol - Final 6 Results
|[Posted by james]|
who'da thunk it?
April 25, 2006
American Idol Recap-The Final Six Perform
|[Posted by ]|
Tonight the final six will tackle some of the greatest love songs of all time. Andrea Bocelli and David Foster will attempt to coach the Idols so they won't suck so much. Good luck with that.
First we meet Andrea Bocelli. He's from Tuscany. It's a beautiful place, but don't even think about trying to get a place there. Bocelli seems like a cool guy and good singer, although the only thing I know about opera is that Turandot is a little bitch.
First up is Katharine. Now, just let me get this out. Katharine is a beautiful woman, but the Idol stylists have no idea how to dress her. They've got her in a yellow dress that instead of hugging her curves, pinches them unattractively in some places and skims over them in others. It's a mess. Luckily, Katharine does a much better job of singing Whitney Houston's "I Have Nothing". I don't like this type of music at all, but what I like about this performance is that Kat is able to capture the song's passion.
The men in the audience no doubt enjoy Kat's near wardrobe malfunction as the buttons on the bottom of her dress bust out at the end of the song. The judges don't like her tonight. Simon says that singing a Whitney Houston song is like saying you're better than Whitney. What bunk. So what, the Idols are only supposed to sing songs by crappy singers? I feel like Katharine is being thrown under the bus here. It wasn't her best, but it's not as bad as the judges say. It's a 5.
The ever-charming Elliott hits the stage to sing "A Song For You" by Donny Hathaway. We know it's by Donny Hathaway because Ryan, Elliott, Andrea Bocelli and David Foster repeat the name Donny Hathaway about 100 times. I wouldn't be at all surprised to learn that 19E owns the Donny Hathaway catalog.
Anyway, I don't know why Elliott insists on singing these ultra-affected songs. Early rumors had him singing Elvis Costello's "Alison" tonight. That would have been, for lack of a better word, dreamy. This is just kind of boring. The song has all these vocal twists and turns and maybe that's fun for the singer, but it just makes it hard for to get into it. The judges, on the other hand, frickin' love him. Paula is literally sobbing at the end. The hell? I just give it a 5, although I have to say that I find Elliott more attractive every week. What's wrong with me?
Pickler sings "Unchained Melody" and David Foster gives a hilarious stink face when he first hears her sing. Bwah! Sadly, this isn't the last stink face of Kellie's night. She carves up another song, messing up the timing and showing off the fact that she has absolutely no range. The judges are merciless. Have they come to their senses about Pickler, or are they trying to motivate her rabid fan base? This was a truly awful performance. I give it a .5. That's right-point.
Darling Paris has decided to sing "The Way We Were". She thinks she's too young to sing a real love song. But she's not too young to sing Babs? How does that make any sense. As always, I get chills when Paris sings. Her voices never fails to touch me. But, even so, I can't say this is a good performance. It's just boring. I think Paris is great, but she's great for single moments or in very specific songs. This isn't one of them. Another 5 on what is turning out to be a very mediocre night.
It takes a brave man to wear a black velvet suit. It takes an even braver man to wear a black velvet suit when he has gobs of gray hair. Taylor is a brave man. He sings "Just Once" and wussifies it beyond belief. Hey, instead of "wussify", can I just say "Aceify" from now on? Seriously, Taylor turned into Ace tonight. He's all wobbly and wussy and oh so not fun. The judges agree. I've said it once and I'll say it again. When Taylor has fun, we have fun. We he doesn't, well, you can guess the rest. Tonight Taylor just gets a 4.
Ending the evening is the very dapper Chris. David Foster thinks Chris sings more with his throat than with his chest and so he makes him sing laying down. Wouldn't it have been funny if Chris started his performance that way? Alas, instead he stands between two guitar players and sings a very good version of Bryan Adams' "Have You Really Ever Loved A Woman". Chris tones down the vibrato but doesn't abandon his rocker roots. He sings beautifully, but he's able to convey the power and strength behind the quiet love song. It's the performance of the night, easily. Chris gets an 8.
I predict that Elliott, Katharine and Paris will make the bottom 3, with Paris going home tomorrow
Murder in Slow Motion
|[Posted by Laura]|
In six days, the execution of Andrea Clarke, a woman who demonstrably can communicate, will begin. This is not Terri Schaivo, redux. In the Schaivo case there was a lot of dispute that she was aware of what was going on, or was in a persistent vegetative state. It's certainly legitimate to dispute PVS. It is misdiagnosed 43% of the time in this study, for example. This case is entirely different. Originally posted on DU, picked up by Right Wing News:
Andrea, until a few days ago, when the physicians decided to increase her pain medication and anesthetize her into unconsciousness, was fully able to make her own medical decisions and had decided that she wanted life saving treatment until she dies naturally. We have learned that this is part of the process, when hospitals decided to declare the "medical futility" of continueing treatment for a patient. But, this is not a Terry Schiavo case; not anything like it. Andrea, when she is not medicated into unconsciousness (and even when she is, and the medication has worn off to some degree) is aware and cognizant. She has suffered no brain damage to the parts of her brain responsible for thought and reason, or speech. She has only suffered loss of some motor control. The reason that the physician gave to medicate her so much is that she is suffering from intractable pain in the sacral region (in other words, she has a bedsore that causes her pain). This is not reason enough, in our books, and we are trying, as we speak, to get Andrea's medication lowered so that she can speak to us.
It is ironic beyond words that the hospital name is St. Luke, after the physician follower of Jesus who wrote the book in the Bible. Bedsores do hurt, and before I dropped out of nursing school, we thoroughly covered the fact that they are entirely preventable with adequate nursing care. Once they are established, they are notoriously hard to get rid of. This woman has been abused by the hospital which is now attempting to kill her. She went in for heart surgery, developed an infection, and is now on a respirator, dialysis and pain meds for a bed sore. She is not brain dead. There seems to be no dispute that she is aware and functioning, except for the pain meds which would impair anyone.
From Jerri Ward, the attorney on the case -
Okay, I can't stand this anymore. First, we have tried facilities offering every conceivable level of care. She is on a respirator and getting dialysis. There are some nursing homes that offer respirator care and no dialysis and vice versa. The long term acute care facilities see that the hospital says she is "futile" and say they can't take her because they are there to rehabilitate and send patients to a lower continuum of care. Other hospitals rely on the "futility" diagnosis. A provider won't take a patient just on the say so of the family--they talk to the hospital. The hospital believes she is futile. It's a catch-22.
It is outrageous that in a country as wealthy as the United States, with the level of entrepreneurship that we have, we cannot fund a charity or start/upgrade a business to take care of our citizens with medical problems like these. Whether or not the reader agrees that Andrea Clarke has much of a life, she wants to keep it. At least one physician at St. Luke's says she has a chance to recover. Unless we as a society agree that inconvenient people may be killed, this execution must be stopped.
Getting A Grip On Gas Prices
|[Posted by Laura]|
I seldom listen to the Rush Limbaugh show but I was in the car and my radio is tuned to a talk radio station. Since the host was somebody other than Rush, I left it on. What struck me was the fact that several callers complaining about gas prices wanted "something done" about the profits that oil companies are making. It's one thing for Ted Kennedy to want to redistribute income, after all he's basically a socialist. But for dittoheads to reject the free market and restrict companies that are legally making profits - which is what they are required to do for their shareholders - is a bit shocking. You might want to check your 401k before you complain too much - you may well own some of that stock, and be a beneficiary of the Eeeevil Big Oil Profits. It may also be shocking that an oil company executive is receiving a 400 million dollar bonus, but that is between the company and it's shareholders. Nobody else.
I'm not pleased about gas prices either, but according to the US Dept of Energy, the breakdown for a gallon of gas is this:
54% - Crude oil
21% - Taxes
19% - Refining
6% - Distribution and Marketing
According to the DOE, prices are high because
A major factor influencing gasoline prices in 2005 was the increase in crude oil prices. The price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil, which started the year at about $42 per barrel, reached $70 per barrel in early September. Crude oil prices rose throughout 2004 and 2005, as global oil demand increased dramatically, stretching capacity along the entire oil market system, from crude oil production to transportation (tankers and pipelines) to refinery capacity, nearly to its limits. With minimal spare capacity in the face of the potential for significant supply disruptions from numerous sources, oil prices were high throughout 2005.
In addition, Hurricane Katrina had a devastating impact on U.S. gasoline markets, initially taking out more than 25 percent of U.S. crude oil production and 10-15 percent of U.S. refinery capacity. On top of that, major oil pipelines that feed the Midwest and the East Coast from the Gulf of Mexico area were shut down or forced to operate at reduced rates for a significant period. With such a large drop in supply, prices spiked dramatically. Because two pipelines that carry gasoline were down initially, some stations actually ran out of gasoline temporarily. However, once the pipelines were restored to full capacity and some of the refineries were restarted, retail prices began to fall. Increased gasoline imports in the fall of 2005, in part stemming from the International Energy Agency’s emergency release, also added downward pressure to gasoline prices. However, retail prices are likely to remain elevated as long as some refineries remain shut down and the U.S. gasoline market continues to stretch supplies to their limit.
I seriously doubt there is any price gouging going on. The fact that those kinds of ideas are being floated on The
Pinhead O'Reilly Factor is cause for concern (that O'Reilly has been hitting the sauce). The fact that liberals are not picking it up and running with it is extremely telling. If Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and Howard Dean, along with their MSM minions, are not screaming about a "Rethuglican price gouging conspiracy" then I feel safe in saying no such conspiracy exists. Because if there were any grounds whatsoever for them to say it, believe me, they would. By all means, have an investigation. It's not like they're going to spend the tax money used for an investigation responsibly anywhere else, so they might as well. But nothing will come of it.
The Federal gas tax is 18.4 cents a gallon. State tax varies; here in Louisiana it's 20 cents. Rather than some wacky corporate income redistribution scheme, a tax triggered by "excessive" profits, the government could drop the price of gasoline right now by lowering the taxes. In spite of the Laffer curve, they probably won't, so consumers can wait for the market to change and get a grip on their gasoline use by slowing down, keeping the tires properly inflated (switch to nitrogen if possible), getting a tune-up, and just driving less.
April 24, 2006
Sex Sells to Kids-Part 2
|[Posted by ]|
As a marketer, I'm ashamed of some of recent attempts to inject sexuality into advertising aimed at children. This latest example comes from none other than Pop Tarts. Check out this wrapper:
Nice. I don't think that's really his stomach down there, do you?
(For the record, we scanned the wrapper, but did enhance the drawing in Photoshop for legibility's sake. But we didn't change any of the content.)
United 93: Yay or Nay
|[Posted by ]|
United 93, the first major 9/11 movie, comes out this week. The filmmakers worked closely with the families of the passengers and crew, but some say it's still too early to make movies about 9/11.
I'm planning on seeing the movie. I'll probably cry like a baby, but I still want to see it. I'm curious to see what kind of box office the film does. Maybe our latest poll will provide a hint.
April 22, 2006
What Would You Be?
|[Posted by ]|
I was thinking about the American Idol contestants and what they'll do with their lives when they're kicked off the show. Some of them will (and have) undoubtably gone on to a career in music, but others might try something totally different. For example, Paris Bennett wanted to be a gynecologist before Idol sucked her in. I know several musicians who haven't quit their day jobs. They're marketers, writers and food scientists (really) by day and singers by night. A lot of Americans work for a paycheck and pursue their real passion after 5.
Sometimes I think as kids we're steered out of some occupations that aren't stable or lucrative. We're encouraged to get a job in an office rather than take a risk and start a business. I understand why. Parents don't want their kids to be starving artists.
All of this leads me to this question: if you could go back in time would you pursue a different career?
I think I'm good at what I do and I certainly have an aptitude for marketing, but if I was facing my freshman year in college again, I think I'd start out as a geology major. I look at the course descriptions about geological structures and field mapping and I get a little excited. Or, maybe I would have double majored and ended up writing for a nerdy science magazine or teaching earth science (and yes, my class so would have made exploding volcano models). It's not that I don't enjoy what I do, but rather that, like most people, I think I could do something more.
So what about our readers? What's your second dream career?
April 19, 2006
American Idol Results-Ace Voted Off
|[Posted by ]|
Tonight, the Lucky Seven become the Six Sirens (too lame?). Seacrest is in and already lecturing us about how we didn't vote enough for our favorites. Hopefully our "favorites" include Pickler.
Rod Stewart is in the house. He slaughters "The Way You Look Tonight", turning an upbeat, breezy, swinging tune into a downbeat lullaby. He's taken every little bit of life out of the song. Well Rod, I must say, I certainly don't think you're sexy now. Nor do I want your body.
Next week, Andrea Bocelli will coach the top six as they perform the "greatest love songs of all time". Wow, so someone's gonna sing "Baby Got Back"?
Let's get down to business. Ryan separates the Idols into two groups. My tip: you don't want to be with Ace, kids.
Far group: Elliott, Pickler, Katharine
Near group: Chris, Paris, Ace (kudos once again to Dial Idol)
Taylor is sittin' pretty on the couch. He's safe. Ryan asks him join the group he thinks is safe. What a crappy thing to do. If I were Taylor I'd go sit with Randy, Paula & Simon.
Taylor basically walks around until he gets it right. Elliott, Pickler and Katharine are safe. Ryan sends Paris back right away. Okay, this is totally producer interference here as I think they are making sure that they scare the hell out of Chris' fans.
Of course, Chris is safe and Ace is gone. A few bullet points of advice from me to Ace:
- Don't cut your hair
- Stay away from the Queen (what you do with queens is completely up to you)
- Work the falsetto
- Find out what Andrew Ridgely is doing these days
Amazing Race Recap-Hippies Saved
|[Posted by ]|
With just five teams left, I figured a non-elimination leg was inevitable tonight. I was right on the mark, as the adorable Hippies finished last in Oman, but lived to be wacky another day. Shockingly, Fran & Barry finished first. I have them in my office pool, and I'm stunned they're still in the Race. Wow.
- Oman is gorgeous. Kudos to the producers for making sure the teams arrived at night, when the beautiful white mosques and other buildings were lit up against the black sky.
- The detour had a wacky animal option as some teams had to load up and transport a camel.
- Name another show where contestants end up lost in the desert of Oman with a camel in the back of their pickup. That's why the Amazing Race is so great.
- Eric & Jeremy got lost several times. It was nice to not see the "1st Place" graphic constantly under their name.
- There was another great needle-in-a-haystack Roadblock as teams had to dig in over a 100 sand dunes to find their dinner (and a clue). Somehow I think that Season 6's Lena has a little bit to do with tasks like this. I don't think she's over the Swedish haystack incident yet.
- Did I mention that Eric & Jeremy didn't finish first?
Next week: Western Australia! Read more about tonight's excellent leg over at the Viking Pundit.
Scott McClellan's Temporary Replacement
|[Posted by Laura]|
Brittany Doyle was not available as a temporary replacement, as exams are coming up and she needs to study, but Vice President Cheney has agreed to fill in until McClellan's permanent replacement is named. In fact, he's looking forward to it.
Greatest hits video over at The Political Pit Bull.
Wuzzadem says Scott McClellan's Out - Mr. Stick Figure's In.
American Idol Recap-The Lucky Seven
|[Posted by ]|
Last night's show featured selections from Rod Stewart's American Songbook collection. The Idols will tackle the standards we all know by heart (hey, how about Jimmy Buffett night one of these years?). I have a confession. I kind of love Rod Stewart. I love that he actually was a grave digger before he was a star. I love that he had the balls to sing "Do You Think I'm Sexy?". Anyway, Rod is great, he's married to some young hottie and he has the world's cutest baby boy. Rod Stewart: life is good.
Chris starts the night off with "What A Wonderful World". Not to be sacraligeous, but I'm not a big fan of the song. To his credit, Chris dials down the vibrato and sings it straight. It's nice. I like to be reminded that Chris is a good singer, not just a "rocker". My only wish is that he would have rocked out the last note and just given a little wink to the fans that this wasn't the birth of Wussy Chris or something like that. A solid 7.
Paris, dressed like she's interviewing to be the summer intern in an office near you, is next up with "These Foolish Things". Paris was born to sing songs like this. She may come across as an un-self-aware teen, but she has an old soul. I don't love this type of music, but I love to listen to Paris sing it. She's near note perfect. An 8.
Taylor sings Sam Cooke's "You Send Me". I'm torn about this performance. The start is absolutely boring but right near the end Taylor kicks it in, rocks out, and has fun. When Taylor has fun, we have fun. That's the secret to his appeal. First half of the performance: 5. Second half: 10.
Elliott is smart to choose a well known song like "It Had To Be You". I love Elliott and I wanted to vote for him last night, but the sad fact is that this isn't his best performance. It's just a little tepid. Elliott is so close to letting loose on stage and doing something fantastic, but not yet. He's still a little too guarded and while he's technically great, he hasn't put his heart and soul into a song yet. Another 7.
Pickler sings "Bewitched, Bothered & Bewildered". In case we forget her appeal, the camera lovingly pans her body throughout the performance. Yes, she's blonde and has a nice body. However, last night her singing was the musical equivalent of a wet rag. She's limp and hits a slew of bad notes. At the end, she's clever enough to be self-deprecating, but she still sucked. A 3, and I think I'm being generous.
Ace goes all Sampson on us and pulls his lovely hair back for his performance of "That's All". And that's all indeed as Ace is just bad enough to guarantee his departure. His falsetto is still gorgeous, but American Idols cannot live by the falsetto alone. I give it a 4.
Katharine closes the show with "Someone To Watch Over Me". She's beautiful and has a lovely voice, but her performances are boring. I'm sick to death of her singing torch song after torch song. If I'm ever going to vote for Katharine I need to see a different side of her (and no, dirty-minded director, that doesn't mean you need to break out the Ass-Cam). Like Chris and Elliott, Katharine gets a 7.
I predict (with a little help from Dial Idol) that Chris, Ace & Paris will make up the bottom 3, with Ace finally saying so long.
April 18, 2006
Trial by Media
|[Posted by ]|
I hate these "she said, he said" rape cases. I'm uncomfortable with the way that people choose sides without any access to the actual evidence. Of course, I do it too. For example, in the Duke lacrosse case, at this point, I believe the stripper in question is a big liar. The lack of physical evidence and photographic evidence that details the evening's timeline makes me think that the only place these Duke players will be found guilty is in the media. And believe me, the media is trying to paint this case a certain way. Check out the AP's description of one of the defendant's home:
Calls to the Finnerty and Seligmann homes Tuesday morning were not immediately returned. No one answered the door at the Finnerty house, which sits in a cul-de-sac of million-dollar homes on Long Island. A lacrosse net and equipment could be seen in the yard, which abuts a golf course.
They might as well label the defendants as "Richie Rich white boys". Meanwhile, the accuser is described as "a 27-year-old black woman and mother of two children". In other words, a poor, black mother. This case isn't really about rape, it's about race and class. I figured that this case was going to be Durham's way of sticking it to Richie Rich white boys everywhere, but I didn't think they have willing accomplices in the media.
April 12, 2006
American Idol Final 8-Bucky Voted Off
|[Posted by ]|
At last we're treated to a contestant medley. As the final eight sing some Queen, all I can think of is how Chris totally should have performed "Under Pressure" last night. He does a little bit of it tonight and it's just fantastic. Chris, you are indulgent in your song choices. Straighten up and fly right!
Prior to giving the Idols their good news or bad news, we get to meet the parents. They all pretty much look like their parents, except Paris. Paris' mom looks more like her slightly older sister. Wow.
Safe: Taylor (duh), Katharine (wow, I think this must mean that Chris is in the bottom 3), Chris (whoops) and Pickler (duh, but also ewww).
Pickler hands off a used "snot rag" to Ryan who grosses out and funnily passes it off to Elliott. I think Ryan is actually less vapid than his TV persona. Hmmm, maybe he's pissed that Pickler is stealing that whole playing dumb gig from him.
Getting back to Elliott, he's in the bottom 3. I'm sorry Elliott! I meant to vote for you. I promise I will next week if you're still around. Hopefully he will be because he performs "Somebody to Love" again and he rocks it! Wow, Elliott is so awesome. This performance, on the brink of elimination, is what he may be most remembered by.
Ace joins Elliott in the bottom 3. Normally, this would be a cause for celebration, but it unfortunately means that we have to hear him perform "We Will Rock You Gently" again. It's just as bad the second time around.
There's one more spot in the final three, and it belongs to Bucky. Ah well, at least we get to hear "Fat Bottomed Girls" again. I know I used to dislike Bucky, but he's really grown on me. He could record this song tomorrow and have an instant country hit. He's not a technically brilliant singer, but he's just got this very appealing, laid-back, down home vibe.
And it's Bucky! Well that sucks. Can't we get a recount?
Amazing Race Recap-Lake & Michelle Philiminated
|[Posted by ]|
Tonight, the Amazing Race traveled from Sicily to the ancient ruins of Greece. The change in latitude failed to produce a change in attitude for the obnoxious Lake. He was still a world class jerk, but now he's a world class jerk that won't be on our TV screens every week. Woo!
While Eric & Jeremy took a fast forward and cruised to another first place finish, the previously unflappable Hippies took a few wrong turns and were almost eliminated. Luckily for them, Lake and Michelle got even more lost. Thank Zeus for small favors.
Highlights of the leg:
- Hippes oohing and ahhing over the beauty of Greece. Immediately, the Funny Editors cut to Lake saying how Greece isn't nearly as pretty as Rome
- MoJo thinks Ray & Jolanda are Team All-Business and Ray & Jolanda think MoJo are airheads. I think they're both right
- Fran & Barry ran a pretty good leg, expect for the part where Barry backed their car into a tree, denting the hell out of it and shattering their back window. How are they still in the race?
- The Hippies had a good time tonight, even though they thought they were going to finish last. They yucked their way through the Greek Games detour and even gave Phil some friendly busses on the cheek when they checked in. I'm starting to like these guys
- We finally got the big bunch in Rome. All the teams were equalized. The scary part is that even after the equalization Eric & Jeremy still came out on top. Ugh.
- I loved tonight's Fast Forward. Teams had to break a whole boatload of plates in order to find a piece of paper baked into a certain plate. The first to find the paper got the Fast Forward. The whole thing reminded me of the Greek dances we used to do in college (one of our friends' family was from Greece, so he'd teach us dances when we were all drunk.)
- This may be a lowlight, but the Race got some more product placement in with a whole Da Vinci Code puzzle that Eric & Jeremy ended solving. They won a trip down the red carpet at the movie's premiere. Heh, somehow I don't think they're going to be strolling next to Tom Hanks or anything. Sorry guys.
So that's it for tonight. I think we're overdue for a non-elimination leg, aren't we? Want more? Don't miss Viking Pundit's recap.
April 11, 2006
Idol Final 8 - The Great Queen Massacre
|[Posted by james]|
Seacrest starts the show by asking "Can anyone match up to Freddie Mercury" as if it's NOT a rhetorical question. Earth to Seacrest: the answer is NO! This has to be the most terrible theme night in the history of the show. What's up next, Rush?
Bucky has a new haircut and up first to show it off. Regular readers may recall that I have Bucky an A- for his performance last week - I don't know if that's because Bucky is getting better or if it's because everyone else was so terrible. I suppose we'll find out as Bucky comes on stage to doing "Fat Bottomed Girls." I can't believe I'm going to say thing, but this isn't bad. Not bad at all. In fact, I think this is a good performance. Easily his best yet. It's even better than good. Paula and Randy call it good, Simon calls it just mediocre. I'm gonna give it an A-.
Ace comes on next sporting the haircut as Bucky, and they show a clip of Ace explaining to Brian May how he wants them to play the song. "Uhhh, I don't think we're gonna do your arrangement." Nice going Ace. As if your limp looking handshake with him wasn't enough, you've embarassed yourself even further. Ace then proceeds to gay up "We Will Rock You," using every weapon in his arsenal - leather pants, fancy strutting, female backup singers, a different arrangement, falsetto, and ... oh god, just make it stop. Randy gives it a 5 or 6. "I didn't get it." You're not the only one dog. Simon says "I think Randy was just being generous." And Randy agrees! Simon: "It was like We Will Rock You Gently. I hated it." I agree. Bye Bye Ace. Thanks for coming on Idol. F.
Pickler comes on next and wastes no time bringing up her dad as she explains why she chose Bohemian Rhapsody. She stands decked out in leather and 8 inch heels while she proceeds to mangle the song. Predictably. Oh, there's no way that this mess isn't making my bottom three of the week. Randy liked it. Paula liked it. Simon said it was good. Simon: looked bad on paper. Pickler: "Whaaa On paper? He has the weirdest terminology! haha!" "I don't have an accent!" Gag. Wink. D-.
Chris doing "Innuendo," a song that Queen had never performed live. Up until now, the band has seemed less than thrilled with each of the contestants. Brian May says, of Chris, "Chris is great. I was warned - my daughter says he's awesome. He is.  Fabulous." I guess we know who has Queen's vote, huh? Randy tries to fake Chris out with "I was expecting big things from you tonight ... (hangs head, shakes...) ... and you DELIVERED!" Paula basically says that Chris is better than Queen and most other bands. Simon says best vocal, but that the song was too indulgent. I give an A. Best of the night so far.
Katharine does "Who wants to Live Forever" instead of her original choice, because she wanted it to be simple, so she could just stand there. Hmm. I think that's a bad approach - while that may appeal to those infected with the McPheever, it's not going to impress anyone else when surrounded by a bunch of up-tempo songs. The performance isn't bad, but she's oversinging it. Good to better than good vocals, but not phantastic. Dog said good job all in all, Paula says great job, Simon says that it was "almost the moment." I suppose I'd give it a B.
Elliott sings "Somebody in Love," a song he'd never heard before this week. Hm, I'm not sure I've ever heard it either. Oh, wait, I know this song. Elliott's performance is ok. Randy loved it. Paula says "best vocal of the night." Simon says that he probably pulled it off. I give it a B+.
Taylor starts out planning to do "We are the Champions" but then changes to "Crazy little thing called love." Good call, I think. He tries to kick over the mic stand but misses. Hah! Good vocals. Great Performance, even with the kick-whiff. Randy and Paula love it. Simon thought it was "ridiculous" and asks Taylor if he's drunk. A- from me.
Paris closes the show with "the show much come on." Brian: "the thing about Paris is that she's DAMN good. I like everything about Paris." More high praise from a legendary performer. Paris delivers and excellent performance with excellent vocals. Also dressed in all black, I think it's safe to say that Paris was everything that Pickler tried (and failed) to be. Gotta give this one an A.
Prediction for person voted off: Ace.
April 10, 2006
Illegal Immigrants: Ask Not What Our Country Can Do For You
|[Posted by ]|
I've always been of the opinion that America needs immigrants. America was built of the sweat and dreams of people who left their homelands in search of a better life. In a way, I'm sympathetic to someone who will do whatever it takes to help their family out, like Jean Valjean stealing bread to feed his starving family.
But lately, I've come to believe that I have a very idealized view of illegal immigrants. Instead of risking everything to come to this country to live the American Dream, many illegal aliens are simply sneaking into the United States to take advantage of what this country has to offer. They are offering nothing to America except their labor-not their taxes, not their loyalty, not their service. Nothing. To paraphrase John F. Kennedy, they are only asking what our country can do for them.
The people who marched in Minnesota and placed the Guatemalan flag above the Stars & Stripes have no business being in this country anymore, much less demanding anything from it. Their sheer arrogance has completely turned me away from their cause. As Elsie Ortiz, a Phoenix resident, said:
"Other Hispanics have told me to go to the demonstrations," said Orta, 55, who said her mother is from New Mexico and her father's family traces its roots to Spain. "I think it's hurting them. They're making a fool of themselves."
The Phoenix native believes Arizona is under siege by illegal immigrants who speak Spanish, use public services and take jobs away from citizens. Illegal immigrants, she said, should be deported.
"They want us to cater to them all the time," she said. "They're coming over here, they're taking our jobs. And now, everything has to be in English and Spanish? I don't think so. They need to go back."
These demonstrators, and those folks who refer to "Los Angeles, Mexico", are just like left wing moonbats. Their behavior completely alienates any normal person who might otherwise be sympathetic to their cause. I'm interested in helping out people who want to be Americans. But I'm not interested in lifting a finger or a tax dollar to aid people who want to permanently live in America, but be Mexican or Guatemalan or Ecuadorian. Don't misunderstand me. I'm not asking immigrants to give up their culture, but I am asking them to assimilate in meaningful ways, just as immigrants before them have.
I still think America needs a more liberal policy for legal immigration, but what all these "A Day Without Latino" protests have done for me is to make it clear in my mind that immigration and illegal immigration are two different things. The former is something to celebrate, the second is a widespread crime.
I think some of the reason I've been sympathetic to illegal immigrants is that we, as a people, have acted for years and years like illegal immigration isn't a crime. If we don't treat it like a crime, then why should people coming across the border feel like they're doing anything wrong? And if it's not wrong, then why should employers feel like they're breaking the law when they hire illegals? Our immigration laws are like the 21-year old drinking age or the 65-mile-an-hour speed limit.
I have no idea what to do about all the illegal immigrants currently in the country. It seems unfair to just give them amnesty and it seems overwhelming and punitive to simply sweep them all out the country. I'll leave it up to someone smarter than me to figure out the best solution.
April 08, 2006
We Are The Champions
|[Posted by ]|
When I was a little kid, I loved to stay up late on Friday and Saturday nights to watch Badger hockey games on Wisconsin Public Television. I loved hockey, but what I really loved about those games was the whole atmosphere: the crowd, the band, the songs and the cheers. Watching those games every winter, I fell in love with the University of Wisconsin. Lucky for me that UW is a fabulous, world-class university, because I didn't want to go there because of the academics. I wanted to go to Wisconsin because I wanted to be a part of those hockey traditions. I wanted to dance the polka to the "Bud Song" and yell "Sieve!" at the top of my lungs.
Tonight, not only did I get to do all of that, I also got to see my Wisconsin Badgers win the NCAA Hockey Championship! The Badgers beat Boston College 2-1, but, to be honest, they had so many chances early in the game that it shouldn't have been that close.
This is just seconds after the end of the game. I love how the first thing hockey players do after a win is take off their helmets and gloves. At least the crowds in Wisconsin don't throw octopi on the ice.
There are some more pictures from tonight's game in Milwaukee in the extended entry:
Badger goalie Brian Elliott before the start of the 3rd period.
"If you want to be a Badger, then come along with me..."
The celebration continues. Barry Alvarez is in there somewhere.
New Book Claims Jesus Survived the Cross
|[Posted by ]|
With the Bible as his source, Baigent reconstructed the story of the crucifixion and arrived at an entirely new version of events.
A secret deal with Pontius Pilate
He says Pontius Pilate, who ordered Jesus’s death, actually made a secret deal to save his life.
Baigent: It was rigged. It was a fraud. I think the crucifixion was set up precisely to remove a particular political problem which both Pilate and Jesus found themselves within.
Pilate, Baigent argues, he needed to appease the crowd which was calling for Jesus’s death. But because Jesus had urged his followers to pay their taxes to Rome, Baigent argues Pilate also had an incentive to let Jesus live.
Baigent: It’s my hypothesis that he rigged the crucifixion such that Jesus would survive but very quickly removed Jesus from the scene.
According to Baigent, Jesus and his supporters were also in on this plot. Baigent acknowledges there no proof of his theory, but it was possible to survive crucifixion.
Throughout the world, Christians are rioting and calling for the swift execution of Baigent. NBC news reporter Sarah James has been forced into hiding. Book stores, including Borders and Barnes & Noble, have pulled the books from their shelves. Several prominent American universities are sponsoring forums so that students understand why this book so deeply offends many Christians.
Of course nothing in the above paragraph is true. When someone writes a book questioning the fundamental beliefs of Christianity and actually hopes to be called a heretic, nothing happens. There are no riots, death threats or tortured calls for a balance between exercising free speech and not offending the religion of others. In fact, most of the reviewers at Amazon seem more offended that Baigent is ripping off the "Da Vinci Code".
It's somewhat ironic to me that NBC Dateline can run this story and fail to compare the reaction to this book to the reaction to the Mohammed cartoons. Isn't there a story there about tolerance? I guess not. I guess when Dateline wants to find a story about tolerance, they're content to send some Arab-Americans to a NASCAR event and hope that some fans hassle them.
April 05, 2006
American Idol Final 9-Mandisa Voted Off
|[Posted by ]|
Tonight the final 9 become the great eight. Who will it be? After the recap, I think it should be almost any of them. Yikes!
Speaking of yikes, Kenny Rogers is so boring that he makes me long for last week's Shakira performance.
Next week's theme is "Queen". Oh dear god, I cannot wait. That's just going to be fantastically, awesomely, amazingly bad.
Unfortunately, everyone won't make it. It's elimination time as Ryan is set to split the Idols into three groups of three.
Near Group: Taylor, Pickler, Chris (top three)
Center Group: Mandisa, Elliott, Paris (the bottom three according to Dial Idol)
Far Group: Ace, Katharine, Bucky
The near group is safe. Duh. And Dial Idol is right on as Mandisa, Elliott & Paris make up the bottom three. I'm kind of sad about this, but the prospect of Ace attempting to sing Queen next week is just too delicious.
Paris is safe and it's down to Dial Idol's exact prediction. Way to go, guys. Simon sounds a little subdued about the final two, and so does the audience. We like these people.
And it's Mandisa! She has been terrible the past two weeks, but she's so much better than Ace or Pickler. So long Mandisa, I'm sure we'll see you around.
Amazing Race Recap-No More Nerds
|[Posted by ]|
Nerds rule, but they don't win the Amazing Race. Tonight, the charming Dave & Lori were sadly eliminated in a Sicilian leg that featured a cool, old amphitheatre, giant swordfish a live band and a dancing Phil!
Lori & Dave started at the back of the pack and never made up any room. In fact, there wasn't a lot of movement between the teams. The Frats and the Hippies finished 1-2 again. Although, I must say, the Hippies are starting to grow on me. They petted a friendly dog, had fun carrying 30 lb. fish through the streets at Catania, played a funny joke on the Frats with an "official" sign up list to get into the amphitheatre and just seemed genuinely delighted to be running the race.
Lake & Michelle, on the other hand, were miserable. Lake bitched the whole leg through and, once again, Michelle tried to talk her way out of another Roadblock. She wasn't successful, which only meant that we had to listen to Lake bitch at her. How fun.
I knew those two would bicker, and I also knew that Monica would lose her cool as soon as the Race got rough. Tonight, she whined about carrying the fish and had a meltdown when she and Joseph couldn't immediately find the vendor they had to deliver the fish too. She recovered fairly quickly, but man, those two don't deal with stress very well.
Other random impressions:
- The Frats are much less annoying when they're not talking about women
- Barry is one hairy man.
- I loved having a mini orchestra play for the teams as the near the finish mat
- Sicilian greeter boy was beautiful
- Phil can't dance.
I miss Dave & Lori already. I loved how in love they are. Nerds rule!
|[Posted by ]|
One of the many reasons yesterday's "Stop the War!" referendum irritated me so much was because I knew how the results would be spun. Today, Madison's Capital Times says:
The results of the Bring the Troops Home referendums send a clear message: Wisconsin wants an orderly but quick withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. Thirty-two cities, villages and towns voted Tuesday on the anti-war referendums - most of which called for immediate withdrawal. The raw vote totals were overwhelming. Sixty-one percent of Wisconsinites who cast ballots on the referendums voted yes for withdrawal, while only 39 percent voted no.
The referendums won in 24 of the 32 communities where they were on the ballot, prevailing easily everywhere from cities such as Madison and La Crosse to suburbs such as Monona and Shorewood, to county seats such as Baraboo and Sturgeon Bay, to tiny hamlets such as Door County's Ephraim, population 353. The highest proportion of yes votes came in rural Sawyer County's Couderay, where a stunning 82 percent of voters said it was time to bring the troops home.
Many of the communities that voted to bring the troops home had previously backed President Bush in presidential elections. Clearly, it was not just progressives and Democrats who backed these referendums. They won support from independents and honest conservative Republicans.
To this I simply say, "bull". Wisconsin did NOT send a clear message about anything and here's why. Referendums like these are put on the ballot at specific times in order to insure the lowest turnout possible. Only the very motivated vote. In the city of Madison, 35,596 people voted on the referendum. In the 2004 election, 138,204 people voted for President.. For those of you keeping track at home, that means that 75% fewer people voted on this question. This referendum says nothing about what the people of Madison think, it simply shows what a small, single-minded minority thinks. As if we didn't know.
As far as the idea that people other than progressives, commies and Democrats backed the referendum, that certainly wasn't the case in Madison. Yesterday, 68% voted "Yes" on the referendum. Back in 2004, a whopping 74% of the voters in Madison voted for John Kerry. So actually, you could argue that this referendum shows that some progessive and "honest" Democrats actually voted against the referendum. Ha!
I resent the way that this whole vote was arranged to create a certain result and to spin that result as the voice of the people. Normally, that'd be good enough, as the government is determined by the people who actually vote, not the silent, non-voting majority. However, this case is a little different. There's nothing binding about this vote. It actually doesn't matter. It's a feel good salve for the folks who've been beaten in most major elections in the last 10+ years.
Well, I hope they do feel good. At least somebody does. It makes me feel terrible that people think my state is sending such an irresponsible message.
April 04, 2006
American Idol Recap - 9 Remain
|[Posted by james]|
As Seacrest takes the stage we see just how a Barbasol strike would ravage the nation. What, get up late or something Ryan? Kenny Rogers is on hand to help the AI kids discover their country roots, and to serve as a visual reminder to them that if you're going to be on TV, you should spend at least a few minutes with a stylist.
Taylor is up first doing "Country Roads Take Me Home," but for some reason he keeps singing "road" not "roads." What, he thinks there's only ONE country road, and that it runs from wherever he happens to be back to his house? The judges don't love it, and Paula gives perhaps the most negative comment of her Idol career by saying that she "expected a little more." I give it a D+. Learn the words next time, milkman.
Back from commercial, some woman in the audience yells out "I love you Ryan!" Seacrest asks "what?", and the Dog helps out by relaying "She loves you Ryan." Everyone knows that he was referring to the woman in the crowd. Well, everyone except for Space Cadet Abdul who defensively responds "I DO NOT!" Yay, drunk Paula is back!
Wearing the blue jeans that the public universally agrees she should never again don, Mandissa does "Any Man of Mine" and actually sings the lyric "when last year's dress is just a little too tight" in a serious tone. I don't know what voice she thinks she's using, but it sounds as if Mikayla Gordon is hiding in there somewhere. And she messes up the refain and sings OVER her backup singers. Terrible. Just terrible. F.
WHOA, BONUS - While the crowd is cheering, you can actually hear the judges bitching and moaning about the song. A disgusted Simon can be heard saying "WHAT. THE. HELL. ?" Love it!
Kenny Rogers tells Elliot to not sing so many licks during "If tomorrow never comes," and Elliot completely ignores that advice. Mistake. Bad song choice. Bad performance. Elliot, with your voice you'd have been better off doing "She Believes in Me." You've got Kenny right there! Randy calls it "hot," Paula uses her standard "breath of fresh air" line, and Simon says it was OK. I think it was bad. D+.
Paris does "How Do I Live Without You," or, more precisely "how do i leeeiive without you." Paris also screws up the words, singing "love" instead of "life." How can you NOT know the words to a song? Didn't anyone practice this week? Randy and Paula dislike it. Simon called it "very good." Hmm, maybe this is the April Fool's edition? D.
Ace does a song that has something to do with wanting to cry. Gee, what a shock. He even works his falsetto in, probably because he's noticed that he gets sent to the bottom 3 when he doesn't do it. Drunk Paula stumbles over the word "signature" for a while, and Randy even makes fun of her for it. Not my thing, but I give it a B.
AI exercises Pickler damage control by having Ryan step out of the show format ask her about the charges that she's a big fat faker. She gets more camera time than any other contestant on the show to answer "In all honesty I had never heard of Calimari. I thought you pronounced the 'L in salmon." When Pickler starts out with "In all honesty," get your high waders on, folks. El Fake-o tells Kenny that it's "so good to hear a familiar accent." Guess she's not on speaking terms with Bucky, Taylor, or any of the other southern contestants, huh? She does "Fancy" which gives her a chance to play her poor hick routine. Substandard singing, poor stage presence. Randy liked it, Paula said she liked it then shot Kellie a look of death when she thanked her. I guess the Paula pickle gossip was true. C.
In his first performance not using a Creed/Live/Fuel voice, Chris does an OK job of singing whatever it is he's singing. Simon says it was boring, and that the audience at home deserves better. True Dat - betcha $10 he's a reader. B.
McPhee does "Bringing out the Elvis in Me." Smart song choice. Best performance of the night. Which really isn't saying a lot. B+.
Bucky comes out and does "Best I Ever Had" by Gary Allan. And it's actually pretty good. Bucky, I don't know if it's that this is your genre, or if it's because everyone else was so terrible, but you've officially earned the best grade in the class. A-.
Voted Off: Can't we vote them all off? Here's an idea -- NO ONE call in. If they all get zero votes, they all go home, right?
NCAA Pool Results
|[Posted by ]|
But, the losers also get spoils! Our worst team was "mermermer". I'm not sure who that is, but they can email me for a special last place prize.
April 03, 2006
Mark Chmura: Shut Up
|[Posted by ]|
I see that Mark Chmura decided to crawl out from whatever rock he's been under (apparently that rock is on Milwaukee's ESPN radio station) and comment on the Brett Favre situation. Chmura said:
People who don't think that it's all about him are fooling themselves. With a quote like 'What are they gonna do, cut me?' It's all about him. Where it's hypocritical is, (Favre is) very critical of Javon Walker and, 'He's not a team player, you know (Walker) doesn't care about the team.
Personally, I think Favre can do whatever the hell he wants. That's one of the perks you get when you're one of the greatest football players of all time. And, I'm also willing to cut the man some slack since in the last year and a half he's lost his father, his wife got breast cancer and his hometown was devastated by Hurricane Katrina. He's got a lot on his plate.
Others are certainly entitled to their opinions, but Chmura isn't really interested in Favre's football future. What he really wanted to do was whine about the fact that he doesn't have a relationship with him anymore:
He's a selfish guy. He's a very selfish guy. And what people don't know, I'm not going to say this to throw the guy under the bus, but this is a guy from my arrest to my acquittal never called me one time. I mean, it was disappointing, but you find out what people are made of and what they're all about. I tell you what, and the friends I have now, I wouldn't trade them for anything.
Chmura's pissed because Favre, the father of two daughters, doesn't want to associate with a married man who got a bunch of 17 and 18-year olds drunk and then fooled around (whether consensually or not, does it really matter?) with his 17-year old babysitter.
I'm shocked that a man like Chmura has the gall to question anyone's character. Although, I shouldn't be. After all, Chmura refused to meet with Bill Clinton at the White House after Super Bowl XXXI because he "lost respect" for Clinton due to his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. When Chmura calls Favre a hypocrite, I guess he's relying on the "takes-one-to-know-one defense".
While Chmura was acquitted of sexual assault, he is guilty of being a dumbass. As such, he should just shut up.
Three Signs Are Better Than One
|[Posted by ]|
I walked around the neighborhood tonight and took some pictures of all the anti-war, anti-Bush signs on Referendum Eve. This was my favorite house:
I was looking for the sign trifecta, which is a house with a "Yes! Troops Home Now!" sign, a "War is NOT the answer" sign and the ever-present "Impeach Bush Now". Unfortunately, the closest I came was two out of three. I did, however, spot some Kerry/Edwards signs and several Toyota Priuses. I'll make sure to watch the weather tonight in case there's a smug alert.
But before you think all is lost in my corner of America, I submit for your approval, the latest display at what I call the "holiday house". I have no idea who these people are, but they lavishly decorate their house for ever single holiday...the 4th of July, Halloween, Christmas, Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day and now Easter. This time they've also added a little something special to the mix:
I like it.
April 02, 2006
Iraq War Vets Have Convinced Me: Withdraw the Troops Now
|[Posted by ]|
This may come as a shock to many long time readers, but I think I'm going to vote "Yes" on Tuesday's referendum calling for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq. I've been reading a lot about the Democrats' Band of Brothers 2006", a group of veterans running for Congress. If .003% of the troops who served in Iraq are so fed up with what we are doing there that they are now aspiring to an interesting, glamorous, well-paying job with a good future, then they must know more than me. And, one of these vets lost her legs in Iraq. I think it's actually illegal to question her political positions. If it's not, then there oughtta be a law.
I'm just shocked that everyone in the military doesn't agree with the Bush administration and the way they have conducted the war in Iraq. I thought the military was a homogenous bunch of jarheads and rednecks. You know, like Texas. This glimpse of dissent in the ranks is like a shaft of light coming in through a crack in the wall. I'm now enlightened. As we all know, Iraqi veterans are the absolute moral authorities on the war. And, because these patriotic veterans are brave, courageous and patriotic enough not to be in the ignorant majority, they have super, duper moral authority. Who I am to disagree with them?
Oh sure, most of these veterans aren't actually calling for the troops to be withdrawn from Iraq. But, you know that's what they really want, just like the rest of the Democratic Party and gay marriage.
Frankly, I'm glad that these vets have finally come forward to tell the truth about Iraq. For the last three years, all we've heard about is Iraq's strong economic growth, civic forums, free press, elections, infrastructure reconstruction and the building of schools and hospitals. It's about time someone told the other side of the story. You know, if more people like these vets had been out there in 2004, I would have voted for John Kerry and maybe we wouldn't even be in this mess anymore. Or maybe we still would. Or maybe we would have gotten out and then decided to go back in. It's hard to tell. But, at least this Tuesday I'll finally be able to make a real difference by voting "Yes" on this non-legally binding referendum.
Oh, and just so you know, I still support the troops. Well really, I only support the ones who agree with me. I'm sure that's close enough.