Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Idol Thoughts (Top 10)...

I've got a feeling about tonight. Tonight may just be the night I give my first A+. It has to happen sooner or later, right? I could be wrong, but it just seems like eventually someone has to hit it out of the park. Send up the first batter Mr. Seacrest.

Ramiele Malubay, "Alone" - You just get the sense that she is out of her league. Not a very good showing, often flat and almost shouting instead of singing. You do almost feel sorry for her, cause you just want to root for her, but she's just not that great (C-)

Jason Castro, "Fragile" - Wife of Dice thinks Castro's a one trick pony, and I tend to agree, except it's a trick I think works for him. He absolutely does need to bring a bigger performance soon, because he will become forgettable if he keeps doing the middle of the road stuff. (C+)

Syesha Mercado, "If I Was Your Woman" - Someone help me out, is this another adultery song? Cause if it is, I'm taking another letter grade off just on principle. Having said that, WOW, that was a great vocal. Syesha is coming on strong and is now on my radar. (A-)

Chikezie, "If Only For One Night" - Everytime I think Chikezie might be worth paying attention to, he goes and does a lame song like this and makes me question my own judgment. I absolutely hated this performance even though the vocal wasn't the worst I've ever heard. (C-)

Brooke White, "Every Breath You Take" - Nice recovery. She obviously wasn't ready for some reason when she started, but she managed to put it behind her pretty quickly (something that Archuletta couldn't do a couple weeks ago). My broken record on Brooke is that she has the personality to win this season easy, but her talent may just be one step short. I still really liked that. (B+)

Michael Johns, "We Will Rock You/We are the Champions" - If you don't nail a song like this it is automatically karaokish, he definitely didn't nail it, and I'm clueless as to what kool-aid the audience and judges were drinking. I thought it was lame, Saturday night, drunk at he bar, karaoke at it's worst. (D-)

Carly Smithson, "Total Eclipse of the Heart" - An off night for Carly as she struggled to get the right notes, yet still managed to make me feel like she is a born performer. Still, not a great one and the end was pretty bad. (C)

David Archuletta, "You're the Voice" - Not great, but not completely awful. I'm still not an Archuletta fan, and this one didn't do much to sway me. (B)

Kristy Lee Cook, "God Bless the U.S.A." -Well, what do you know, KLC can actually sing. OK, so there were a few off notes, but that was the first decent performance she's done on that stage and I think she deserves the props for it. (B+)

David Cook, "Billie Jean" - Ladies and gentleman we have a new front runner. That was absolute genius, and I finally, FINALLY, have my A+, have to rewind and watch again, jaw dropping performance of the season. He was already my favorite, but now he might just be THE favorite. Watch out Archie there's another David in town. (A+)

My personal overall ranking:

1.) David Cook
2.) Brooke White
3.) Carly Smithson
4.) David Archuletta
5.) Syesha Mercado
6.) Jason Castro
7.) Chikezie
8.) Michael Johns
9.) Ramiele Malubay
10.) Kristy Lee Cook

Going Home:

I think a guy goes home tonight, and though I'd probably lean Chikezie, Jason Castro had the exact kind of performance that sends you home on a night like tonight. If it's a girl, it will likely be Ramiele.

Winning:

The obvious thing here would be to change my pick from Brooke to Cook, however, DC may have just set himself up to be the surprise third place boot, cause I don't know how he manages to top that as the season progresses. So you guessed it, I'm sticking with the White girl.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Idol Thoughts (Top 11)...

The laptop is out of the shop, so it's back to the stream of consciousness rambling that I'm most comfortable with. Here are my thoughts as the show happens with some oh so prescient predictions following.

Amanda Overmeyer, "Back in the U.S.S.R."
- I think Amanda is good enough at what she does. Which seems to be to vaguely pronounce syllables that may or may not be actual words. But she does it in such a convincing intense way that you kind of dig it. Tonight's performance was on the better side, but I'm not sure Amanda's style is for me. (B-)

Kristy Lee Cook, "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" -So can KLC rebound from the hicktastic tragedy that was last week? In a word, no. But seeing as it would be impossible to get any worse it's not much of a compliment to say things went better, still awful, but you know, better awful. The problem tonight was that she wanted to just sing the song, and then she didn't sing very well, at all. (D-)

David Archuletta, "The Long and Winding Road" - Gotta give it to the kid, he can really sing. And not just in that hit the amazing notes kind of way, but as in really understanding how a song is supposed to feel and matching tone to texture. He is a pure vocalist. I'll drop my weird reservations about him for now, and just say well done. (A)

Michael Johns, "A Day in the Life" - Hmmmm. That's a tough song to edit down. It loses so much of the flow and progression to try and truncate it like that. It was also an up and down vocal, parts being really nice and parts being off quite a bit. Put it all together and you've got a pretty jagged and jarring performance. (D+)

Brooke White, "Here Comes the Sun" - I like Brooke, and I thought she did an ok job tonight (you can feel the but coming, can't you) BUT that performance did seem a bit forced, and I think Brooke may be a bit outpaced talent wise. Yet, there is no doubt that she is having more fun than other contestants, and her personality is so engaging and honest. I like the girl, and I hope she comes back to form next week. (B)

David Cook, "Day Tripper" - It took long enough but I officially have a favorite. DC has been as consistent and spot on as CD (that would be Chris Daughtry) was in his season. Excellent stuff, and the voicebox section was genius. I am still trying to decide if his attitude is more smug or just confident, but I thought he was great again. (A-)

Carly Smithson, "Blackbird" - Carly is definitely the most technically astute performer of the bunch. Another stellar performance which I enjoyed quite a bit. (A-)

Jason Castro, "Michelle" - "I thought it was English", classic. As for the performance, I actually thought it was fairly mediocre. Not bad, but not great. (C)

Syesha Mercado, "Yesterday" - It's a tightrope picking a song as well known and classic as this one. If you sing it as is, you certainly won't be as good as the original, but change it too much and you mess with the fond memories of your audience. If Syesha failed it was slightly to the side of changing it up too much, but she managed to find the tricky balance for the most part and made it too the other side unharmed. (B+)

Chikezie, "I've Just Seen a Face" - Well, his first performance was great, then he did some sort of second performance that started with a harmonica and then, oh never mind, I have no clue what just happened. (C-)

Ramiele Malubay, "I Should Have Known Better" - Well, she's cute, but that vocal was flat out awful with an emphasis on flat (and maybe tomorrow the emphasis will be on out). Honestly, I just think Miss Malubay may be a bit out classed at this stage. (C-)

My personal ranking:

1.) David Cook
2.) Brooke White
3.) Carly Smithson
4.) David Archuletta
5.) Jason Castro
6.) Chikezie
7.) Michael Johns
8.) Syesha Mercado
9.) Amanda Overmeyer
10.) Ramiele Malubay
11.) Kristy Lee Cook

Going Home:

I think it might be Kristy Lee Cook's week to go, but if her fans manage to stay motivated, Amanda or Michael may be in trouble.

Winning:

Only four have a chance, DC, Brooke, Carly, or Archuletta. But they all have their weaknesses; DC may be a bit too rocker and his confidence borders on arrogance, Brooke just doesn't seem to have the vocal chops, Carly seems off the radar, and Archuletta is the early favorite which generally means he will either fade, or be the shocking 4th or 3rd placer. I'm gonna stick with Brooke, just on gut, but I'm inching more and more towards thinking Carly may win this thing.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

On Hulu, and materialism...

Perhaps you've heard that a new website launched this week at hulu.com that allows you to watch full length TV and Movies for free online. What you may not have heard is specifically how incredible this venture really is and how it may just be the ticket in solving the digital media crossover.

Most people know now that you can buy TV and Movies from Itunes (at what I consider to be ridiculous pricing) but then fail to realize that you can see most shows online for free at the network sites (with one commercial between each segment, but perhaps you missed the word FREE). Hulu attempts to consolidate that experience into one place, and add movies to the mix as well. So does it work? I'd answer "Yes with a very big but". We will get to my big but later, but first here's what works.

Hulu is extremely well put together and very user friendly. It looks great and it's easy to find exactly what you are looking for. Watching a show or film is a no pain process and in many ways trumps the network's setups easily. You don't have to have an account to watch stuff (unless it is rated R) but signing up for one (for FREE I should mention again) allows you to access some pretty amazing features. For one, you can queue any show or movie that you want to watch so that whatever computer you use, at home or work (shame on you, seriously, oh wait, where am I again?), it will show up as ready to view without searching for it again. It also allows some pretty amazing community functionality like emailing the videos, sharing them within Hulu, or (and here's where it's starts to go from great to amazing) embed them in your blog or website. Not only that, but you can even select scenes by dragging a start and stop point and embed that!

For instance:

Let's say I'm doing a blog post on materialism and I want to reference some recent media as example. I could, say, post the entire episode of The Office where Micheal deals with his financial debt as such:



or (knowing that you probably don't come here to watch a 40 minute TV show) I could quickly and easily select this scene from "The Jerk" to make the same point:



The point is, as someone who has been using media for message for years, Hulu just revolutionized the way we can share that media. Do I need to mention again that this is all FREE?!

Except for one thing, and here's the big but, content selection. It's true that Hulu has a pretty decent selection of full shows and movies (especially for just starting) but the only way this works in the long run is if somehow they manage to sign content deals for much, much, much more stuff. For example, there was a great scene in Big Brother this week (yes, I'm still watching, and yes I probably need an intervention) where three of the guys talked about the Bible stories they were reading. It was compelling, funny, and a great insight to how "normal" people (if by normal you mean frat boy mentality) see scripture. I would have loved to share it with you here. But I can't, because Hulu doesn't have it. The truth is, if you are specifically looking for something, the chances are far greater that they don't have it than that they do, and until that changes Hulu is just a pipe dream of what could be.

I'd encourage you to check it out, if nothing else to see what is possible, and I will be keeping a keen eye on them to see if they can pull this thing off.

Friday, March 14, 2008

On Jericho, Jillian, and Japanese Awesomness...

Brad Bird announced his new project, a live action movie about the San Fran earthquake of 1906. It takes three killer movies in a row to put you in my "Alfred Hitchcock memorial list of directors I will watch movies from with no questions asked" category. And Brad joined that list with "Ratatouille" (after "The Iron Giant" and "The Incredibles") His companions are:

Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Supremacy, United 93, The Bourne Ultimatum)
M Night Shamalan (Signs, The Village, Lady in the Water)
Christopher Nolan (Momento, Batman Begins, The Prestige)

Almost there:

Spike Jones (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation) Next project "Where the Wild Things Are"

By the way, it only takes one movie to get you off the list (at which point you will need three more in a row to get back on) which is why you don't see other greats like Spielberg, Fincher, or the Coen Brothers on here. Peter Jackson is not a member not because "King Kong" was bad (I actually thought it was amazing) but because I only consider "The Lord of the Rings" as a single film.

Other stuff you may have heard me blathering on about on my show:

Jericho has shot two separate endings, one with closure and one with a cliffhanger. They will make the decision on which to air based on if the show is being renewed (Hint: get ready for some closure.)

Jillian (the fiery trainer from "The Biggest Loser") gives some great insight into her going off on host Alison Sweeny in this interview. It's a great look into the editing and over production that is script free TV.

Movies that are rated PG make more money if they have less profanity, this week's "Ya' think?!" prize winner.

And finally, there are many reasons the Japanese are amazing but the following video has to be towards the top of the list. Children of the 80's, enjoy.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Idol Thoughts (Top 12)...

Well, that was an interesting evening of Idol fun now wasn't it? Aside from Ryan running around the stage like some sort of charismatic evangelist (I've always appreciated Seacrest's fearlessness, but sometime the risk just doesn't pay off, or as Abdul said last night, the reward doesn't pay off.) the night was filled with 4 good performances, 4 mediocre ones, and 4 "Did that just really happen?" bad ones. Instead of chronological let's go in order from good to bad.

Carly Smithson - “Come Together.” Best performance of the evening and I think now that Carly is on the big stage her experience will start to play a larger role. It certainly felt like she owned the place when she was singing. (A)

David Cook - “Eleanor Rigby.” Slowly becoming my favorite of the bunch, each performance just feels perfect for him. I don't think he is quite as good as Daughtry but he is following the same path. (A-)

Brooke White - “Let It Be.” Interestingly, I think this performance would have been even better without the piano. The piano almost detracted from our ability (and certainly the crowd's) to see how much she felt this song. Still a very powerful performance and it emphasizes once again the need in Idol to find the zone between over singing and just being boring. She nailed it with this understated beauty. (A-)

Chikezie - “She’s A Woman.” The surprise of the night for me. I've not liked Cha-cheesy since the get go. But sometimes you have to drop your pride and admit when you are wrong. Maybe it was just a one night thing, but I thought he did great. (B+)

Jason Castro - “If I Fell.” Now we start to get into those who missed the balance on either the oversinging or boring sides of the equation. For our little Travolta look a like he erred to the boring side. Even though some of the vocals were pretty nice, I found myself drifting. (B-)

Amanda Overmyer - “You Can’t Do That.”
And now we are erring to the over singing side (or over intensely mumbling incoherent utterances side in this case) Amanda seems like she should be good at this, but I just haven't seen it yet. (C+)

Michael Johns - “Across The Universe.” And back to the boring. Seriously, do you remember anything about this? (C+)

Syesha Mercado - “Got To Get You Into My Life.” The definition of mediocre. (C)

Ramiele Malubay - “In My Life.”
And now we begin the long dark descent into really really badness. Ramiele seems like a sweet girl but she struggled to find her footing through this entire number. And the cheese factor was off the charts, (D+)

David Hernandez - “I Saw Her Standing There.”
Randy said " overdone.” The echoing Paula said, “you overdid it a little bit.” Simon said, “it was corny, verging on desperate” I say, "here, here."(D)

David Archuleta - “We Can Work It Out.” The fact that this train wreck of a performance wasn't the worst of the show is astonishing. He forgot the words maybe three times, couldn't find the rhythm or the melody, and stumbled around the stage looking like a poisoned man with 2 minutes to find the antidote. What's amazing is I can almost guarantee you he had the most votes of the night, and will sail through easily. He's the only one that people seemed to latch on to through the early rounds and that will pay dividends for him through at least the final 4. (F)

Kristy Lee Cook - “Eight Days A Week.”
When this song started I swear I thought I had entered some parallel universe where American Idol was about picking songs and finding the worst possible genre to morph it in to. "Next week on Idol, Chikezie does Pearl Jam's "Last Kiss" Big Band style!" Poor Kristy has had some great nights, but she might as well tucked her thumbs under her overalls and put a piece of straw in her mouth and it wouldn't have come off any more cheesy and backwoods. I'm assuming Randy Minor was out of washboards and blow jugs cause they would have been perfect. Yikes. (F-)

Predictions:

Who's going home?

One of these three; Ramiele, David Hernandez, Syesha. It's never the worst (they get sympathy bumps, and the first performance (if not memorable) always suffers. I'm going with Syesha.

Who's winning this thing?

One of these four; Archuletta, Brooke, David Cook, or Carly. Right now (just on gut) I'm picking Brooke.

See ya' next week!

Monday, March 10, 2008

On Odds and Ends, Mostly Odds...

Some links I found worth mentioning:

Mitch Albom makes a great point about Youtube justice. Would you want to be judged by 15 seconds of your life?

Phil Vischer continues to introduce his next venture here.

The two theories about LOST are pretty similar and even make a bit of sense.

If you want to do the March Madness thing with my group you can sign up at ESPN.com and enter the group 63 Wrong Answers. (Email me if you need the password)

And finally an Etch a Sketch clock that I would absolutely buy if it were self contained and could hang on my wall.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Slow Rollin'...

First things first, can you name the actor in the center of this picture?


While you are thinking about that I wanted to give you a head's up that the posts will be few and far between for a couple weeks as our only computer at home decided to quit working. It's in the shop and should be back to us in a few weeks. But until then I'll have to sneak in the occasional post at work while the boss isn't looking :)

The actor's identity is on the way but I wanted to also talk Idol a bit today since I couldn't do my Idol Thoughts.

Aside from another so so week of AI performances (my favorites list is down to Brooke White and David Cook, not the former stripper David or the child star David, the "I just did Lionel Richie's "Hello" better than Mr. Richie could have ever dreamed of doing it" David) my main American Idol thought for the week was about the song "Saving All My Love For You". How is it possible that a song that blatantly glorifies adultery was as big as a hit as this? Have you ever really listened to this song? It's infuriating. I know I'm the over thinker here, but any song that starts out, "A few stolen moments is all that we share, You've got your family, and they need you there", and ends with " No other woman, is gonna love you more Cause tonight is the night, that I'm feeling alright We'll be making love the whole night through" I can't be the only one that was yelling at his TV Wednesday, Could I? What's even more infuriating is it's not the first "Adultery Rules!" song on AI this year. "Me and Mrs. Jones" is just as bad (if not worse). All I know is that if next week Cha-Cheesy sings Stevie Wonder's "Part Time Lover" I am calling for a boycott.

OK, so did you get it? It's Robert Downey Jr. Yes, that Robert Downey Jr. Go ahead and do your double take and then come back. It's from the upcoming movie "Tropic Thunder" about the making of a Vietnam movie. I've seen black actors play white and white actors play black before, but never has it been that convincing a look. Now if only the movie could be as good as that make-up job.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

On other people summing up my thoughts...

Two examples today of people who took the words right out of my mouth.

I've been trying to put my finger on what it is about David Archuletta that bugs me, when everyone else seems to be under his spell. Thank goodness for the LA Times (guaranteed to be the last time I type that), as they provided the words that my brain couldn't wrap itself around. It's not the singing, there's just something manufactured about him.

The other link today is a MUST READ from Phil Vischer's blog as he has been revealing what's next for the the guy who brought us Veggie Tales. He perfectly sums up two things that I have been trying to say for years. One, that the socio-political "church" has fostered a cultural animosity that we will be hard pressed to reverse, and two, that passion + proficiency = purpose. Find out what you love and what you are good at and you will begin to see God's design for your life. Phil gets it, and I hope you take the time right now to read the entirety of his thoughts. It is treasured truth for the taking.