Thursday, February 25, 2010

American Idol

Even though I’ve been told since the show started that I would love it, until a few weeks ago I had never seen American Idol. First of all, I definitely do not love this show. The episodes go on for way too long and the way in which America votes on each contestant reminds me of a telethon. Also, the judges are always bitching about song choice and how contestants need to make songs their own, but then as soon as a contestant switches it up the judges say the song is unrecognizable.

That being said, judges for every reality show (i.e. America’s Next Top Model, Project Runway, Top Chef) are a pain in the ass because that’s their job. At least Kara DioGuardi can write songs and sing and at least Ellen DeGeneres is funny. If I hear Randy Jackson refer to somebody as “dawg” one more time I’m going to reach through my TV and punch him in the face. Meanwhile, Simon says exactly what he thinks and of course is obnoxious a lot of the time but everyone knows that already. And don’t even get me started on Ryan “My radio voice doesn’t translate to TV” Seacrest. Moving on….

Even thought the show isn’t my favorite, I do love seeing raw talent putting themselves out there and signing like they have nothing to lose. The music industry is in shambles and critics are tougher than ever but there are kids as young at 16-years-old who are standing in front of big egos belting out songs with voices beyond their years on live television. It’s gutsy, it’s tough and they are risking being shred to pieces. But they do it anyway and it’s impressive.

Plus, I feel for the contestants. Not only is it tough to take criticism in front of millions of people, it’s hard to know what the judges want. As someone watching at home I want them to choose a good song and I want them to put on a good show. Everyone who made it on American Idol can sing to some degree but the question is can they perform.

Even with all its faults, there is no question that this show has become very popular over the years and that it has produced some amazing, Grammy-winning singers such as Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, two voices that absolutely blow me away. So I guess the judges, and America for that matter, do know what they’re talking about some of the time. That being said they dropped the ball big time on Jennifer Hudson so who the hell knows.

Right now my favorite girl is Crystal Bowersox and my favorite guy is Lee Dewyze. But of course it’s up to America to decide. Hopefully the winner is more Clarkson/Underwood and less Fantasia/Clay Aiken.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Thank You CSB!

After seeing two of the biggest guns in music’s arsenal showing off their dueling piano skills I must say that Elton John and Billy Joel, clocking in at 62 and 60 years old respectively, haven’t lost their touch.

The show began with two pianos rising from under the stage and the entrance of both Elton and Billy together. To say that they were well-received by the sold out crowd at Pepsi Center is the understatement of the year. I think a lot of the audience was actually star struck by these two musical powerhouses who probably stand no taller than 5’ 5” each. Oh well….their piano playing and singing more than compensate.

“Your Song” kicked off the show and the two of them played together for a few more tunes. Then it was time for the Elton show as Billy made his way off stage. Elton, starting off his solo show in purple sunglasses, played the crowd-pleasers including “Tiny Dancer,” “Saturday Night’s Alright” and “Rocket Man.” He even gave a happy birthday shout out to fellow musician James “You’re Beautiful” Blunt who apparently was in the building. Every time Elton finished a song he would stand up, take a bow and then as the person responsible for me attending this event, Carly Brown, so eloquently put it, “he would put one foot up on the piano and his hands on his hips like Captain Morgan!”

After Elton finished his solo set, a very chatty Billy Joel came out to greet the audience. Part musical act, part comedy act, Billy was quite the entertainer. His set was not as hits-decorated as he played Carly Brown favorite “Allentown” and B-side song “Zanzibar” but he did play “She’s Always A Woman” and then jumped on guitar for an rockin’ rendition of “We Didn’t Start The Fire.” While I was disappointed not to hear my two favorite Billy songs, “Big Shot” and “She’s Got A Way” I was blown away by how good he really is.

After Billy’s solo set Elton came back onstage wearing red sunglasses and a sparkly “Rocket Man” jacket that, given the chance, both Carly and I would have stolen and wore to work the next day. The two piano legends ended the show like they started it, playing together like they co-wrote each other’s songs. The last few gems included “Bennie And The Jets,” “Candle In The Wind” and of course, “Piano Man.”

By the end of the show Elton had gone through at least two wardrobe changes while Billy had played three instruments including my all-time favorite, the harmonica. Impressive but not surprising for two guys who have been banging on pianos most of their lives – one of which who has sold more than 250 million records (Elton) and the other who is the sixth best-selling recording artist and the third best-selling solo artist in the United States (Billy). Take that James Blunt!

Saturday, February 20, 2010


A classic story about going native, Avatar was an amazing journey into an extremely creative world thought up by James “I only make three-hour, one-word titled movies once a decade but I hit it out of the park every time” Cameron. Every detail of this movie was thought through whether it was the colors of the vegetation or how many extra legs the horses were going to have. Seeing those beautiful colors in 3-D was very cool and most definitely worth the extra money.

Also, I’d like to point out that even though this move was released on December 18, 2009, when I saw it on February 20, 2010 the show I saw, along with every other showing that day, was sold out. Two months later this movie is still selling out. Talk about word of mouth.

I’ve heard many people compare Avatar to Pocahontas but I thought it was more like Dances With Wolves and (I’m going to reach really far back here and it’s possible that only my Dad remembers this movie), The Air Up There. Kevin Costner’s character learns the Sioux language, starts dressing like the Sioux and then warns them that the white soldiers are coming and explains what they need to do to win the war. As for The Air Up There, I know comparing Avatar to a movie in which Kevin Bacon plays a basketball coach who goes to Africa to recruit basketball players is a little bit of a stretch but when characters adjust to new surroundings that are hard on them physically, mentally and emotionally, I think it’s worth mentioning.

One aspect of the movie I wasn’t expecting was the idea that when bonding with an animal the Na'vi would fuse the end of their ponytails with the animal. Doing this functioned as their literal and figurative connection with the earth. I’m not into the hippie bullshit about humans and the earth being like one but I thought this idea was good. Very innovative and very essential to the storyline.

After watching the movie I was very curious to hear my boyfriend’s thoughts considering he is a former Marine as well. He said he thought that Marines were not portrayed well because in real life they don’t have the “kill and bulldoze everything” mentality that was so negatively depicted in the movie.

I thought former Marine Jake Sully was intelligent, brave and like Neytiri said, strong-hearted. I was in awe of Neytiri’s passion and fury. Her character was tremendous.

All in all Avatar was as good as I thought it was going to be which I guess is pretty remarkable considering the hype. Go see it before the Oscars. Just make sure you buy your tickets ahead of time.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Eye On Tiger

I would love to know what everyone thought about Tiger Woods’ apology today. Heartfelt? Pathetic? How about when he said that he thought he was entitled to anything and everything because he was famous? How about the part when he told everyone to leave his mother alone? How about when he cried?

The big question is: Why is the public so mad at Tiger? Is it really because of his infidelity or is it because we feel that we have all been tricked? We thought Tiger was a non-controversial, Nike-wearing, role model for kids and then we find out that he’s a sex addict who cheats on his wife. Would we be as critical if he found out that controversial athletes like Dennis Rodman, Allen Iverson or Bode Miller did something like this? Or would we just chalk it up to their behavior being part of their “bad boy” persona and ignore it?

Either way it will be interesting to see how long it takes for Tiger to bounce back. I’m betting that he doesn’t play in a pro golf tournament again until 2012. Any takers?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Well-Behaved Men Rarely Make Compelling Lead Characters

Is it me or is Californication one of the best and ballsiest shows on TV? I’ve never been a huge fan of David Duchovny (sorry X-Files nerds) but as writer Hank Moody he is one of the most compelling male characters on television right now. A popular writer who is addicted to women and sex, among other things, Moody holds a torch for the woman he loves but never married, would do anything for his young daughter and types on a typewriter. The fact that he is an invigorating character is pretty amazing considering the facts. On paper, Duchovny’s Moody is as cliché as they come:

-Unconventional personality
-Undeniably smart
-Talented in his field
-Good looking
-Has too many vices
-Rejects social norms
-Not married

Does that also sound like a description of Hugh Laurie’s character on House? As Greg House, Laurie’s character has an equally obnoxious but intoxicating personality, is a genius doctor (diagnostician to be exact), is sarcastic to an almost pathological degree, has an addiction to pain killers and is obsessed with puzzles and messing with people.

Another example is Denis Leary's character Tommy Gavin in Rescue Me. As a smartass alcoholic New York firefighter, he deals with post-911 issues and can't seem to make it work with his wife/ex-wife Janet.

All three characters say whatever they want whenever they want. They have no edit function and therefore have no objection to saying anything that goes through their minds. In short, they are all a pain in the ass.

All three characters are also very into music; in fact it’s a theme that is intricately woven through storylines and dialogue in many of the episodes. In Californication, Moody wrote a book about a record producer, his daughter is the lead singer and guitarist of a garage band, he constantly makes references to musicians and there is even an episode based around the death of Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain. In House, our leading man’s apartment is decorated with instruments, most of which he can play, including piano, harmonica and the guitar. Throughout Rescue Me, Gavin is constantly making music references and a few of his crew members have a band called Apache Stone.

Regardless of the similarities, all three characters are hard to look away from and make for excellent leading men in well-written shows.

Some of my favorite lines from Californication:

“You can be pretty hard on people.”

“I love women. I have all their albums.”

“You’re tragically flawed but you’ve got a good heart.”

“You have to love him for who he is, not his potential.”

“You’re gonna be stronger in the places that are broken.”

“I can feel your restlessness.”

Well written dialogue for a show about a writer. Maybe not so cliché after all.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A couple things I’ve been thinking about while at 39,000 feet:

-How excited is everyone for Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin to host the Academy Awards?!

-Why is it that TV shows are randomly allowed to take breaks that last several months?

-The Olympics start tomorrow! I wonder if I’ll finally learn the difference between figure skating and ice dancing. Also, does anyone think that Shaun White will pull off a 1620 in the half pipe?

-The fact that The Runaways, a rock and roll biopic about Joan Jett and Cherie Currie was noticed at Sundance is not a surprise. The fact that Dakota Fanning is old enough to play such a role is extremely surprising.

-I am counting the days until Season 3 of Californication comes out on DVD.

-LOST is awesome. So glad that nine month break is over and that the final season is underway.

-I CANNOT believe that I STILL haven’t seen Avatar. Don’t even get me started….I’m disappointed in myself enough as it is.

-Why are there so many shows about fashion and cooking? Aren’t chefs limited to wearing white coats only and isn’t fashion all about not eating?

-I’m really bummed about J.D. Salinger.

-Why the hell wasn’t Crazy Heart nominated for Best Picture? Especially since this year, for the first time ever, there are ten slots (rather than five) for Best Picture. Unbelievable.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Biggest Ticket In Town

Here is a list of the Super Bowl halftime acts from the last few years. Brace yourself, these are heavy hitters:

2010 – The Who
2009 – Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
2008 – Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
2007 – Prince
2006 – The Rolling Stones
2005 – Paul McCartney

Why is it that the powers that be on the Super Bowl music committee keep choosing halftime acts who have been performing longer than I’ve been alive? Because they put on a good show. The last time pop music made memorable appearances at the Super Bowl were 2004’s nipple disaster aka Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake and 2001’s Aerosmith/Britney Spears pairing. I remember watching the Jackson/Timberlake debacle in disbelief. I think it actually resulted in a record number of playbacks for TiVo at the time and subsequently changed not only Super Bowl music choices forever but also the rules of live TV. An avid Aerosmith fan, I always enjoy the boys from Boston rocking out but I do think that Steven Tyler spent way too much time staring at Britney’s ass during that performance.

On the other hand, McCartney, the Stones, the artist currently known as Prince, Petty and the Boss put on incredible shows that drew acclaim and a ton of viewers. It helps that each act played fan favorites: McCartney played “Live and Let Die” and “Hey Jude” and The Stones’ set included “Start Me Up” and “Satisfaction.” Prince kicked it up a notch with a medley of songs he played in typical Miami monsoon-like rain. His set featured “Let’s Go Crazy,” covers of Bob Dylan’s “All Along The Watchtower” and the Foo Fighters’ “Best of You” and of course the spectacular and completely appropriate “Purple Rain.” Considering how hard as he was rocking with that guitar in the pouring rain I was shocked that he didn’t get electrocuted. Petty and his Heartbreakers played “I Won’t Back Down” and “Free Fallin’” better than ever and Springsteen’s voice soared with “Born To Run” and “Glory Days” as he slid into the camera. It was so awesome that my Mother actually asked the owner of the bar (where we were watching the 2009 Super Bowl) to turn up the volume.

Tonight the 2010 version of The Who which consists of half of the original members (drummer Keith Moon died of an overdose in 1978 and bassist John Entwistle died of a cocaine- induced heart attack in 2002) performed in Miami, Florida in front of over 76,000 people. Or more importantly, for millions of people watching at home. Their set included favorites such as “Pinball Wizard,” “Baba O'Riley" (commonly referred to as "Teenage Wasteland”) and “Who Are You” and Robert Daltrey sounded pretty good for his age, especially considering how much energy he has spent fighting with Pete Townshend over the years. But I’ll be honest, I was most excited for the Pete Townshend windmill and I got it! Also, he kind of looked extremely happy to be there. Although The Who’s performance was nothing compared to Prince playing the hell out of “Purple Rain” in the rain, it was cool to see them up there. It will be interesting to see if the classic rock halftime shows continue.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Top Ten Reasons To Go See Crazy Heart Immediately:

10) Jeff Bridges (as fictional outlaw country singer Bad Blake) sings and plays guitar on T Bone Burnett’s original soundtrack – and he’s good. Really good.

9) You have to do a double take to make sure Bridges isn’t Kris Kristofferson.

8) Colin Farrell (who also sings) puts away the Irish swagger just long enough to impress audiences with his short but memorable performance as Bad’s humble protégé Tommy Sweet.

7) As Bad sings, “I’ve been blessed and I’ve been cursed, all my lines have been unrehearsed” you can feel his hard history.

6) Journalist Jean’s (Maggie Gyllenhaal) heart bleeds for Bad and she makes ours bleed for her.

5) Bridges’ ability to portray Bad’s inability to stay on track and out of trouble.

4) You root for Bad even though it takes every ounce of his strength to simply talk and breathe between shots of whiskey.

3) Bad says he plays “sick, drunk, divorced and on the run” and you believe him.

2) Stories of redemption are always interesting, especially when there is a soundtrack full of heartache and grit to back it up.

1) Bridges makes an alcoholic-four times divorced-outlaw country singer who is forced to play in dive bars and bowling alleys one of the most charismatic and likeable characters I’ve seen in a movie in a long time.