Saturday, March 10, 2007
The ladies travel to Plattsburgh State for their national semifinals, while the men hit the familiar road to Salem, Va., where they will face the College of Wooster (OH) Scots on Friday.
For the other Tournament, we've got a group on ESPN for your free pool entries. Group name is ALOTT5MA; neither password nor aptitude are needed.
Update: Apparently the packed theater where I saw 300 was hardly an anomaly.
- Sure to thrill Shonda -- Samir Patel is back for the fifth straight year. Regarding his regional Bee, "He says he did not encounter any words he didn't know how to spell. And, truth be told, he knew all the words the other spellers got as well."
- Meet Utah's Kunal Sah, who will be competing for the second time despite the fact that his parents were just deported back to India after sixteen years of legal residence in the States.
- The folks up in Easton had hoped they fixed the problem that caused so much controversy last year. They did. Indeed, it looks like the national rules were changed (see #10) to protect against such idiocy recurring.
- 2006 national champion Katharine "Kerry" Close has enjoyed her year on top, though her hometown paper still misspells her first name.
Friday, March 9, 2007
That distinction still belongs to Boston, which sold over 17 million copies of its 1976 debut album. Boston lead singer Brad Delp, a name I am guessing is familiar to very few of you, was found dead today in his Atkinson, N.H., home at the age of 55.
As my pre-teen musical tastes were evolving from stuff my parents blasted into the back of the station wagon like Peter, Paul & Mary, Neil Diamond, and Barry Manilow to artists my friends' older brothers thought were cool like Rush, Springsteen, Kansas, and Seger, Boston was inescapable. By the time the band emerged from its bitter lawsuit with CBS records to release its third album in 1986, I had long since moved on the REM, U2, The Replacements, The Smiths, etc. And when the definitive history of 20th Century pop music is written, Boston may deserve little more than a blurb, it's possible the band may have had more of an influence than most give it credit for. (Judge for yourself.)
- The writing/producing staff, which included, in addition to Whedon, included Marti Noxon (currently on Grey's), Jane Espenson (who's freelanced at Gilmore Girls and Battlestar Galactica in recent years), David Fury (who's now at 24, but wrote "Walkabout" for Lost), and Drew Greenberg (who's at Dexter).
- The actors, many of whom have gone on to successful careers in other realms, including Gellar, Hannigan, Boreanaz, and Dushku.
- Making the television landscape safe for smart, strong women who don't hesitate to speak their mind. There almost certainly wouldn't be Gilmore Girls without the success of Buffy, for instance. Also, making the television landscape safe for sci-fi/fantasy that didn't have the words "Star Trek" in the title--aren't Heroes and Lost plainly the Slayer's progeny?
If the Idol's score for anti-talent is plotted along the horizontal of a graph, and his tenure on the show is plotted on the vertical, then calculating the total area of the Idol yields the overall measure of his awfulness. Matthew Rogers (S2), for example, has extremely high anti-talent, but thankfully little tenure. Final-three entrants Nikki McKibbin (S1) and Jasmine Trias (S3) each lasted way longer than she should have, but I don't think either was that bad compared to some of the others.
So, who ends up the worst under such a metric? RJ Helton (S1) and Anthony Fedorov (S4) made it to to the final five and final four, respectively, but Helton gets a pass because they didn't recruit any decent guys that season, and Fedorov gets a pass because otherwise his fans will descend on this site like locusts.
Really, there's only two contenders: Kevin Covais (S5) may have only made it two weeks into the finals, but he so had no business making it out of his Boston audition. But our winner, I think, is reedy-voiced redhead John Stevens (S3), who made it to the final six in what can only be described as a mercy killing, so petrified did he seem each week when he found out he was safe and would have to sing again another week. Remember: he outlasted Jennifer Hudson because Conan O'Sinatra's "Mandy" was deemed better than J-Hud's "Weekend in New England". That's enough to win this even without remembering his "King of the Road".
Sanjaya, you've got a big mountain to climb, but it may only take him a few weeks to get there. Can he do it?
e.t.a. D'oh! Total brain-fart, noted in the comments, that I had blotted from my memory like Amalek one Scott Savol (S4), who made it to his season's final five past Constantine Maroulis, Nadia Turner and Anwar Robinson despite an almost complete lack of talent and character, especially the latter. If he's the standard Sanjaya has to meet, he may have to reach final two to dethrone him. America, it's up to you.
Thursday, March 8, 2007
Upon being pulled over, he could not humor the police and tell them lies -- found in the SUV were "four rifles, nine handguns and a switchblade knife in hidden compartments, as well as a Taser, night vision goggles and a small amount of marijuana." What's more surprising -- the amount of weaponry, or that the amount of marijuana was "small"? (Link contains photo of weapons cache.)
- Still it wouldn't be an Induction Junction without news from the Van Halen camp. Earlier this week I reported that all five main members of the band would be in attendance Monday at the Waldorf, but now it looks like only Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony will be in attendance. Eddie Van Halen checked himself into rehab today, which confirms the rumors that it was Eddie's drinking and not Diamond Dave's grating personality that torpedoed this summer's reunion tour. Alex is expected to skip the ceremony out of loyalty to Eddie and David Lee Roth is making noise about not attending because he is not being allowed to perform (organizers probably saw this or maybe this).
- Meanwhile, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and some music retailers, in an effort to boost album sales, but together a list of the 200 greatest albums of all time they are calling the Definitive 200. The usual suspects dominate the top 20 (Beatles, Dylan, Floyd, etc.), but things get very odd after that with Shania Twain, Alanis Morissette, Norah Jones among the notables placing albums above The Beatles' White Album (No. 39) and Revolver (42).
- The Ronnettes also are being inducted on Monday (deservedly so just for "Be My Baby," which is to singles what Joe DiMaggio's hit streak is to baseball records). They wouldn't be, though, if waiting-for-trial Phil Spector had his way.
- Here's a reminder that with the induction of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, rap and hip-hop have finally made their way to the Hall. It will be interesting to see which rappers and bands will get the nod over the years. Some like Public Enemy, Run-DMC, The Beastie Boys, and Outkast would seem to be slam-dunks, but what about NWA, Snoop Dog, LL Cool J, Tribe Called Quest, etc.? Feel free to speculate in the comments.
- The performance by all four original members of REM is sure to be a highlight Monday (don't forget the ceremony airs live on VH1 Classic). Michael Stipe says the band is excited to be inducted on the same night as one of its influences, Patti Smith. And Mike Mills, REM's bassist, diplomatically says he is, in fact, a big fan of all the performers being inducted Monday.
- And as for Smith, she says the honor would have made her parents very happy.
Also, big announcement of a nebulous Idol program to alleviate poverty in Africa and America this season. A very noble move by a show that's been all too crass at times, and I look forward to learning more.
* Is this too obscure? How about: HE LIKES TO KEEP HIS FIRE ENGINE CLEAN. IT'S A CLEAN MACHINE:
I could think of only five other examples and they are generally mighty obscure:
- 1849 by Lighthouse (best known for "Pretty Lady", a pop hit from the early 1970's)
1900 Yesterday by Liz Damon's Orient Express (this hit #33 in 1971)
The Last Day of June 1934 by Al Stewart (best known for "Year of the Cat")
The Summer of ’42 by Peter Nero
Energy Crisis 1974 by Dickie Goodman
Wednesday, March 7, 2007
And here's part of why she's so good: most of the women who make the semifinals can hit the big notes. You make the semis because you belted out that big note at the end of whatever Celine/Whitney/Mariah song somewhere along the line, and Randy waved his hands around and shouted about how you can blow. But it is not every semifinalist who can bring those buttery low notes that the other singers swallow in preparation for their big BIG notes during the second chorus. Melinda's got the butter.
There isn't really anything to say about anyone else's singing (except Gina, who I liked and who should stick around for a while), so I'd just like to offer up a few observations made while snoozing my way through everyone else's performances:
- I'd like Sabrina's hair stylist to come deal with my curls every morning. Thank you.
- Whatever one thinks of Antonella, she is not an unattractive girl.
- Stephanie's big thing that no one knows about her is that she was a little shy about singing in front of strangers when she was three? Wuss. Tell us about your OCD, girl!
- Who told Lakisha that Lee Press-On Nails were part of a classy AI look? And I hate that tongue-through-the-teeth thing she does all the time. The dress looked nice, though.
- I am so glad that Gina stopped trying to wear cocktail dresses. The fishnet stockings on the hands were a little much, but I liked her outfit otherwise.
Thomas Carter (Coach Carter, Save the Last Dance, Swing Kids) to direct.
It is as jarring as if, say, Anne Hathaway suddenly announced that instead of playing sweet-natured princesses and fashion-world ingénues, she wanted to appear onstage as a nude, murderous prostitute.Two issues immediately surged to mind with the comparison:
1. Radcliffe is 17. Hathaway is 24. Obviously, the age makes a difference here, at least under U.S. law and standards.
2. While Hathaway has not played a "nude, murderous prostitute" on stage, she's doffed her clothes on screen at least twice (here and here), so her doing so again would be less than shocking.
Isn't a better comparison Hilary Duff or one of the stars of High School Musical?
Bill, however, sent over a link to a blogger, "Callimachus", whose post regarding the most recent addition to the list has finally reached the mark of uttering the dumbest thing that ever will be posted on the Internet:
Graceland. Paul Simon. (1986) Worst choice on the list. Big American fading folk star who's out of fresh ideas vampirizes the world music catalogue to stave off career death for another decade. Bonus points off for including Linda Ronstadt.
Let the pile-on begin. The full registry is here.
- The Last Mimzy, derived from the short story "Mimsy Were the Borogoves" by Lewis Padgett (a pseudonym of the science-fiction authors and spouses Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore).
I believe Shooter will be an excellent action film. It stars Mark Wahlberg in a role that seems suited to him. I thought the book was first rate.
I am intrigued by The Last Mimzy. I LOVED the short story upon which it is based. The story (and the film, as far as I can tell) focus upon two siblings who begin to develop special talents after they find a mysterious box of toys from the future. The film includes blog favorite Rainn Wilson in a lead role.
Over the long run, I have often been disappointed when books I have read have been adapted into movies. We shall see how these three fare.
Tuesday, March 6, 2007
"I want to be a Pussycat Doll because the Pussycat Dolls stand for female empowerment and I express that."
Wha to the wha?
Basically, in a night when each of the guys was resting his starter vocals for the playoffs, Sligh's "Wanna Be Loved" by the Christian pop-rock band DC Talk was the only six inning quality start of a mediocre night from the worst set of guys we've seen since season one. Pretty boys Brandon and Jared ought to advance based on sheer competence (Fienberg captures Jared perfectly), Beatbox Blake on the novelty of a ten-year-old 311 song, and Chris Richardson on residual good will, based on an unremarkable rendition of a boring-ass Keith Urban song that has a fan in Alan Sepinwall.
The bottom: well, Sundance, one of the things you need if you're singing "Jeremy" is authenticity -- we have to believe you're in that classroom, and since you're neither Daughtry nor Bo Bice, it came off as pointless yelling. Phil Stacey was just plain off-tune, and with that hat he's looking more and more like Jude Law as Dickie Greenleaf, The Untalented Mr. Ripley. And Sanjaya . . . okay, I miss RJ Helton now. Is that what you wanted? I retroactively appreciate the borderline charm of Anthony Federov. That's how painful it's going to be until he's gone.
("Why would Lord Vader, one of the highest ranking members of the Imperial Government, suddenly decide to fly away from the Death Star in the middle of a battle? Did he know something that the rest of the Imperial Navy didn’t?")
Baseball Prospectus took a swipe (post deleted by USSM) at Derek Zumsteg, co-author of USS Mariner (the world's smartest single-team baseball blog) and a former BP writer, dismissing one of his earlier projections by saying "the guy who wrote that isn't with us anymore." Except maybe it wasn't meant to be critical of DMZ at all (thread deleted by USSM). Whatever it was, it drew a sharp defense from DMZ's friend, which in turn drew a threat of legal action by BP.
Film criticism site GreenCine deleted all of critic N.P. Thompson's work for it after a dispute over payment dissolved into what GreenCine called "threatening and harassing emails." Is the deletion of past freelance work in retaliation for a dispute concerning an unrelated article overly punitive? Or do you cut the site some slack because Thompson, the Reeler article says, is a master bridge burner and a guy with some strange ego issues -- like when he claims that the editor of Seattle free weekly The Stranger was "obsess[ed]" with him but "suppress[ed his] voice" because the editor read his blog but didn't ask him to work for the paper?
All this just proves that the Seattle-Tacoma corridor is the wild wild west of leisure-journalism clusterf---s.
Sources, because everybody is so litigious: Deadspin, USS Mariner, Matt Zoller Seitz's The House Next Door, and all the places they cited too.
The article also notes that Nike has teamed up with various artists to make exercise playlists on iTunes. The Nike project is designed to promote the Nike+ shoe technology.
To me, workout songs need:
- to be in a major key,
- to be in 4:4 time (are there exceptions?),
- to have a fast pace, ideally one that increases as the song proceeds,
- to have an outstanding rhythm section,
- to have positive lyrics,
- to have a catchy chorus, and
- to have a powerful lead vocal.
I would love to learn what you love in this regard. I'd be especially interested in songs that inspire you to work out particularly fast. Russ suggested that we all post the 10 songs we most often listen to while exercising (including any embarrassing selections). I will do so in the comments.
So take this moment to advise a contestant of your choosing on the best way to ensure his or her survival. For Gina Glocksen, for instance, she needs something that takes advantage of her decently-big voice, but she needs to break out of the Idol Standards into something more contemporary. How about Evanescence's "Bring Me To Life" or the Cranberries' "Zombie"? (Or, basically, anything Storm Large sang on Rock Star.)
For Backup Brandon Rogers, is D'Angelo's "Untitled (How Does It Feel)" too cliche? Can John Legend's "Ordinary People" be reduced to ninety seconds? If not, it's been a long time since I've heard Terence Trent D'Arby's "Wishing Well". Your turn.
Monday, March 5, 2007
Two quick notes. First. we brought along our disco ball (yes, we own a disco ball, doesn’t everyone?). That was clearly a step in the right direction.
Second, obviously this was a small sample. You might get totally different results with a different group of people:
- Get Down Tonight (A-) (K.C. is a guru)
- Super Freak (A) (this got an awesome response)
- To Be Real (B+)
- Everybody, Everybody (A-)
- Always and Forever (A) (slow dances are a great way to get shy people to dance)
- Gone Daddy Gone (A-) (this was the version by Gnarls Barkley, which is quite similar to the original)
- Dancing With Myself (A) (probably the second most successful song all night)
- Don’t You Want Me (A-) (everyone sang along with this)
- Venus (B-)
- Walking on Sunshine (B-/C+) (a much weaker reaction than I expected)
- I Want You Back (A) (someone remarked that if you did not want to dance to this one you should check your pulse to see if you might be dead)
- This Is How We Do It (B+) (Not as big as I thought it would be. Another minor problem is that the spoken word introduction and fadeout are momentum killers.)
- Crazy in Love (B+) (I love this one. The crowd liked it.)
- Love Rollercoaster (A-)
- Hey Ya (A+) (I figured this would be a good, but this was outstanding. Clearly the most successful song of the night)
- Another Night, Another Dream (A-) (two people asked me for a copy of this song)
- I Wanna Be Your Lover (B+)
- Disco Inferno (B+)
- Shame (B)
- Turn the Beat Around (A-) (the original, of course)
- Off the Wall (A-)
- Baby Got Back (B+)
- Fight the Power (B+)
- Move Ya Body (B)
- Sexy Back (B+)
- Boys Don’t Cry (B+)
- Cut the Cake (A-)
- Whip It (A-)
- Crazy (B+)
- Hungry Like the Wolf (C-) (it pains me to assign this grade, Jennifer J, but this song led to the biggest exodus from the dance floor all night)
- Words (C)
- Boogie Shoes (A-) (what TV show does this remind you of?)
- Let the Music Play (B)
- Tenderness (B+)
- Bust a Move (B+)
- Finally (A-)
- Everybody’s Got Their Something (A-)
- You Dropped a Bomb on Me (B)
- Groove Is In The Heart (A-)
- One More Time (B+)
- September (A)
- What I Like About You (A)
- Gold Digger (B+)
- 1. Beastie Boys, "Mark on the Bus"
- 2. Beatles, "A Day in the Life"
- 3. Berlin, "The Metro" (can't say I like the song, but it gets bumped up from # 5 for this ridiculous video, with the crappy reception, the wooden lip-synching, and the overall 80sness)
- 4. James Taylor, "Traffic Jam"
- 5. Sheena Easton, "Morning Train"
Related note: somebody reserve a Nobel Prize for the genius who decided that during an alleged (but possibly apocryphal) renovation of the 10 east from downtown to west LA there would be no need for visible lane markers.
His tombstone in Martha's Vineyard reads, "I may be gone, but rock n roll lives on."
Sunday, March 4, 2007
Well, let's not get into that. We know more about mental illness now than we did then, and with his passing today, we can learn more about Eagleton than that to which history books have reduced him. [ALOTT5MA hook: he helped lure the Rams from Los Angeles to St. Louis.]
(Interesting--"Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" was Oscar nominated in 1988, along with "Storybook Love" from Princess Bride, "Shakedown" from Beverly Hills Cop II, and the winner, "I've Had The Time of My Life." T'was the only Oscar nomination for both Mannequin and Princess Bride.)
Romber does what Romber does, but Uchenna and Joyce also did some nice things. The thing we'll want to discuss, I imagine, was the lame-ass penalty assessment. I'd have figured on a half-hour standing at the mat, minimum, rather than the self-remedy Phil requested. You?
Based solely on "Greased Lightning" -- and thus without yet having seen any of the individual Danny performances -- I was surprised at the extent to which Chad faded into the background. It felt like a Derek / Austin final two to me, unless the Slacker Danny fan base (which I have a sneaking suspicion is large) manages to get one of them booted.
Edited to add: Tonight's outcome was really irrelevant, as the Sandy competition has become a one-woman show. Unless Laura blows herself up (or the judges for whatever reason elect to blow her up by giving her a rotten song), it'll be her Maidenform whose quilting is doing the wilting.
As for the guys, this round really cast their strengths and weaknesses into high relief. Austin apparently decided to make himself more fun fun fun by portraying Big Gay Danny. Fortunately, he settled down about halfway through the song, but the damage was done. Derek's vocal weaknesses are what they are, but he's the most obviously Dannyish of the bunch. Chad continues to fade away, and his flaws were further magnified by the transformative wonder that is Max. I found Max's performance to be 100% convincing. (I do wonder, though, whether he can play opposite Laura or alongside a bona fide flock of Broadway T-Birds.) All of a sudden, we don't seem to have a frontrunner.
All of this raises an interesting question: I wonder whether the forthcoming production is the proper theatrical version, or whether they are going to incorporate the songs that were added to the movie ("Hopelessly Devoted" and "Sandy," not to mention "You're the One That I Want") to give John Travolta and Olivia Newton John some more singing to do. If the former, then Derek's lack of a really big voice is less troubling than it might otherwise be.
Any random YouTube links you feel like sharing?
Link courtesy the Future Rock Hall Blog.