Saturday, February 23, 2008
Beyond Ledger, here's your noteworthies in the running in the annual applause-o-meter-of-death rankings: Ingmar Bergman, Michelangelo Antonioni, Ousmane Sembene, Deborah Kerr, Roy Scheider, Marcel Marceau, Jane Wyman, Roscoe Lee Browne, Brad Renfro, Tom Poston, Joel Siegel and betting pool super-sleeper Jack Valenti.
So, Ledger to the side, I'll go with Scheider to win, Valenti to place and Renfro for show -- recency counts for a lot, and them furr'ners never get the props they deserve.
Check it out.
Friday, February 22, 2008
- Dr. Dre
- Russell Simmons (which should please our commenter dp)
- Rakim (which should please Kevin and Tim Something)
[Necrology predictions and other wagering will come in a separate post.]
I just hope there's room in the Monopoly film (for which they're talking to Ridley Scott) for Damon Wayans.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Here's an earlier list of the top 50 Duets that gives Lee and Nancy their due. (Also, the worst duets are here.)
Which of your faves didn't make the cut?
So there were a lot of structural problems with this round. The stage is built for AI v.1.0 performances -- the Justin/Kelly-model, back when Britney and XTina were huge recording artists and people were okay with disembanded singers marching around by themselves on a cheeseball stage with a dorky clip-art animation background. Now you can only do that if you're 14 and you have a show on the Disney Channel or you're 50 and you have a show at the MGM Grand. Allowing instruments is a nice concession to the modern era, but why not bring the band onstage and let the performers interact? And if you want "current" and "relevant," as TwoP points out, perhaps you should not make everybody sing 40-year-old songs (and you shouldn't let them be arranged in the worst Las Vegas way, with the tinkly 1980s synthesizer front-and-center).
But, as the panel pointed out, there are songs from the 1960s that can be covered in a way that is passably relevant. What is shocking is that not a single performer picked one (though Lushington at least tried). It probably is impossible for anybody but an expert, confident musician with an established musical personality to update 60s top-40 pop ("Happy Together"; "One is the Loneliest Number"; "Shop Around") successfully. How on earth could two of the top 24 think that the road to current rock stardom runs through "Happy Together"? Preposterous.
So fix it. Match a performer to a 1960s song that would best showcase his or her talents (or, for that matter, just pick a 1960s song suitable for covering). If you want to be realistic, try to pick one for which AI could get clearance -- meaning no Rolling Stones songs (they are iffy and take forever to clear), no Beatles (too expensive), and no Led Zeppelin (always rejected, unless you're Cameron Crowe).
- Ivy League ESL student
- Dead ringer for the daytime hooker from My Name is Earl
- Female circumcision
- Unattractive punk
- Elvira, Mistress of the Night's older non-goth sister
- So much plastic surgery you can't tell if she's Asian or not
- Well-rehearsed eccentric
- Lapsed Mormon
- Single mom
- Voluptuous girl next door
- Voluptuous skank
- Stereotypical dumb blonde
- Pretending to be bisexual
- Cannon fodder (will be eliminated/recuse self for insufficient fawning over Tyra/Bret)
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
- Those I Love: Asia'h Epperson! Ramiele Malubay! Brooke White!
- Not As Much Love But Still Good: Alaina Whitaker, Alexandrea Lushington (and her Angela-Bassett-doing-Tina-Turner shoulders), Syesha Mercado
- Person Who Scared Me: Amanda Overmyer
- Underwhelmers Despite Pimpery: Joanne Borgella (it took me a looong time to figure out what the heck she was singing -- never a good sign); Carly Smithson (Randy is praising her because of her mike technique??); Kristy Lee Cook (really lucky that she's super cute and super pimped); Kady Malloy (who might -- might -- be saved by the Britney thing)
- Cannon Fodder without Mitigating Factors: Amy Davis
And let me just reiterate (or maybe I'm just iterating it -- have we made this point before?) that crooning without having preestablished a fan base is never a good AI strategy. Amy Davis and Jason Yeager, I'm talking to you.
- They've apparently been holding open calls for a Barack Obama impersonator, unhappy with their current options. Notably, the only Obama appearance this season? Obama himself.
- Maya Rudolph may be done with the show. Though she appeared pre-strike, it was apparently only on a day-player basis, not with a season contract. She won't appear on this weekend's Tina Fey/Carrie Underwood episode, and may not return at all.
For those of you who have not read the book, Mr Brooks interviews survivors of the Zombie War, which began in the early 2010s, including doctors who treated Chinese peasants near the Three Gorges Dam -- as near to patient zero as the book gets -- retired leaders of the South African apartheid regime – who figured out how to beat the zombie menace, individual American soldiers who held the line at the Rockies, German officers who abandoned everything south of Kiel to save Germany herself.
The book is horrifying in the same way that Richard Preston’s The Hot Zone is horrifying. You assume that, should this all come to pass, you’ll live – scarred until your dying day, yes, but alive. I’m not so sure. I have means for self-defense, and a decent supply of food and water, but beyond that – I’m not sure I’m ready enough.
Nevertheless, there’s much to talk about, so feel free to raise your own topics, but for now I ask our dear readership a few things based on the observations of Mr. Brooks (the “Studs Terkel of Zombie Journalism”):
First, what have you done lately to prepare for the Zombie onslaught? And do you, the readership, have any skills that will come of use during the war?
Second, for those inclined, what is your preferred means of self-defense? If someone can point me to a better option than the Marlin Camp Carbine in .45 ACP, I’d like to know about it. More than enough oomph to decapitate a zombie, compact enough to use in close quarters.
Third, Mr. Brooks alludes to a number of folks who were famous before the Zombie War. I’m pleased that Michael Stipe, apparently, was willing to pick up a rifle at the end of the world, whether he felt fine or not. Come the Jubilee, what famous person do you want there on the firing line?
Fourth, if there is a more dramatic way for the world to end, whimper, bang, or otherwise, what tops a zombie attack as a vehicle to allow you to go down fighting? Best you can do with an asteroid strike is drink a beer as you wait for the shockwave to swing at you from the horizon.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
It's Young David Archuleta's world, and we're just living in it. Sure, Michael Johns and RastaBoy will be around for a while to entertain us, but if you're asking me if I saw a potential winner tonight it's him -- and certainly not the reincarnations of Johnny Weir and Plushy as weak teenyboppers.
Feinberg and I agree on David Cook giving off a serious Constantine Maroulis "you and I know this is silly" vibe, and on YDA: "He doesn't show very much vocal range and he has some rough high notes toward the end, but does anybody honestly believe this guy isn't going to be around through May? Maybe by that time we'll see if he performs every song with the same semi-robotic enthusiasm."
Likely gone: Luke Menard, Jason Yeager. If no one knows you yet, don't wuss out on a sleepy ballad.
e.t.a. de Moraes: "David Cook's hair no longer looks like my taxidermy rooster but it's still unnerving to watch him deliver a pseudo-rock version of the Turtles' 'Happy Together' while trying to sex it up with long looks at the camera that we think are supposed to convey smoldering sexuality but really scream 'homicidal.'"
- OK Soda, one of the many casualties of the Cola Wars.
- Arch Deluxe, and the other casualties of the Burger Wars.
- Microsoft Bob
Provide your own in the comments.
Monday, February 18, 2008
Four years ago was the start of my Hoeffel-induced hiatus, so not much to talk about. Three years ago today, TPE joined our blog while Kingsley predicted an Anwar Robinson-Mikalah Gordon final on American Idol; two years ago was Kim's fervent praise of the Olympic biathlon pursuit event; and just one year ago I first posted the phrase "Britney, okay, WTF?" in the wake of her new adventures in hairstyling. Time flies, indeed.
Sunday, February 17, 2008
This weekend's example is from the BBC, which is touting Raymond Kurzweil's claims that by 2029 we can expect computers with near human intelligence and "intelligent nanobots [that] go into our brains... to make us smarter." The technical mechanism for the realization of this latter prediction goes so little explained that anyone taking it seriously might be attributed obvious, perhaps desperate motives, for wanting to believe it to be true.
But that's not the point. The point is that futurists can be fun no matter what the hooey quotient of their musings might be. Space-filling "news" about futurists and their predictions never does justice to the full blown ravings of the futurists themselves, to say nothing of their friends and hangers-on. I love these guys, and gals, who can't bear to confine their fantasies and speculations to the realm of science fiction or fantasy, but insist -- sometimes at high levels of research and complexity, but often at sub-Ronco levels of presentation and persuasiveness -- that what they imagine will one day come to pass.
So, if you have a lazy hour this afternoon, I invite you to poke around at Kurzweil's site (ravings, above) or the Wikipedia link (Kurzweil's name, above -- and I particularly recommend the "External Link" to the debate with David Galernter at MIT) and see if you can't imagine the approximate probable date of our assimilation into the cybernetic hive mind.
Sometimes Big Acting can be quite enjoyable. Other times, of course, it can be cringe-worthy, irritating, risible, embarrassing. Only you can decide which is which.So, friends, your favorites in the overacting department? My first nods go to Al Pacino -- admittedly an obvious choice -- for "Scarface" and the source of this post's title, "The Devil's Advocate," in which you just have to accept the over-the-topness of his performance (and Keanu's silly accent) and enjoy the ride. I also think William Hurt's small role in "A History of Violence" is a masterpiece of bombast, and for a final initial nod on the comic side, Nicolas Cage in "Honeymoon In Vegas" (not that I couldn't have chosen five other roles of his). His discussion with Sarah Jessica Parker on the implications of holding a straight flush is, like, unbeatable.
Take for example the story of Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford in "Mommie Dearest" -- she of "No wire hangers!" and "Eat your meat!" (both precursors of "I drink your milkshake!"). Pre-release publicity reports claimed that Dunaway was giving a serious dramatic performance. But from the very first screenings it was painfully (yet fasciatingly) clear that somebody was going off her rocker -- but which actress was it: Crawford or Dunaway?...
In Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining," Jack Nicholson plays a guy who, as one wag said about Daniel Plainview in "There Will Be Blood," starts off insane and goes even more insane. The End. But this raises the question: Isn't "too much" precisely the point in some movies? One of my favorite scary-funny moments in all of cinema is when Jack Torrance puts his hands over his face in alcoholic anguish and desperation, then drops them and, startlingly, gazes straight into the camera at an off-screen bartender: "Hi Lloyd. Little slow tonight, isn't it? Hah-hahahahahahahahaha!" (Let's not forget Shelly Duvall's famously frazzled and hysterical performance, either.)