Archive for March 2006

 
 

Link Dump

Idol Fashions

AI fans have to read this one. Use a stuffy British accent as you do, to accentuate the article’s gravitas. It’s hilarious.

Clothes Cacophony On ‘American Idol’

If the most recent round of voting on “American Idol” had been based on costuming and presentation, young Paris Bennett would have gotten the ax this week instead of Lisa Tucker. Dressed in tight blue jeans, a tight yellow tunic, a tight purple suede jacket and a pair of ivory jeweled showgirl pumps, Bennett seemed to have taken all her styling tips from a Baby Phat runway show — an unwise decision unless one’s intention is to resemble what might affectionately be called a hussy. Tucker’s only distracting tics were excessive use of iridescent blue eye shadow and a tendency to make a boo-boo face every time judge Simon Cowell declared elements of her performance painful enough to set one’s teeth on edge. [...] Thank goodness for Seacrest’s newfound gravitas, since this season the show is cursed with silly boys with bad hair. When Bucky Covington isn’t doing a full-on roller set, his hair looks like it has been greased up with a week’s worth of gel, Dirt and WD-40. Ace Young has self-conscious boy-band hair that almost certainly requires a worrisome amount of mirror time. But luckily, Elliott Yamin’s hair is growing out and soon he will no longer resemble an elf.

The article also mentions Mandisa’s last name, if you’re curious.

Weird Al deserves a star

Dang skippy he does!

mtv.com – News – ‘Weird Al’ Fans Tired Of People Not Walking All Over Him

In a career that spans more than 25 years, “Weird Al” Yankovic has sold more than 12 million records, won three Grammys, starred in a cult-classic film (1989′s “UHF”) and hosted his own Saturday morning kids’ show. He’s written odes to bologna and “He’s a good role model. … There are stories of Al’s music helping people through incredibly difficult personal situations.” ā€” “Weird Al” fan David Rossi Spam, restored the accordion to its rightful place in the pantheon of ridiculous instruments and has ā€” at various points throughout the years ā€” rocked an Afro/mustache combo that would give even the most hirsute musicians pause. Despite all these accomplishments, Yankovic is still lacking a milestone that has already been bestowed upon the likes of Billy Joel, Bob Marley and Britney Spears: He has no star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

WeirdAlStar.com is the home page for this movement.

More happy animated DVD news

Update on the Animaniacs DVD front: There’s a trailer now and a larger cover image. It’s a hideous-looking cover. I hope they change the art on it before release.

The same date will bring us PINKY AND THE BRAIN Volume 1 on DVD, with much the same specs as the Animaniacs set.

Link Dump – Geek Edition

It wasn’t me

(Crap, I forgot to post this yesterday. After I saw her in the audience of IDOL last night, I thought I would look wonderfully prescient. Whoops!)

I know some of you might have thought it was me, after my positive comments about her last season. But it wasn’t.

BREITBART.COM – Man Unfit for Trial in ‘Idol’ Stalking Case

A 60-year-old California man charged with stalking former “American Idol” finalist Jessica Sierra is mentally incompetent to stand trial, a judge ruled.

I’m only half that age, for starters. I don’t know if I’m mentally competent to stand trial, though. . .

AI5 – Round of 10 – Results

And then there were nine. . .

We came ::this close:: to a major upset this week. Ah, the glories of American Idol. But before I get to that:

Wasn’t it nice of Wyclef Jean and Shakira to lip synch? And wasn’t it nice of American Idol to find the most ADD-prone director to handle the live performance? No camera stayed still for longer than two seconds, and no shot lasted for three. I was getting sick by the end of it. Plus, they get a singer best known for her dancing (and her hips) and then refused to show more than half of it. Every time the hips got moving, they cut to Wyclef (doing nothing) or an extreme wide shot of the stage. If they were afraid of FCC fines, maybe they shouldn’t have invited her in the first place.

Now, the Idol singers were also on the show. And I almost nailed the bottom three this week, until they threw in the ringer. Oh, the ringer. . .

Lisa and Ace were not surprising. When it came down to being either Bucky or Katharine, it was obvious that Bucky was rounding out a most deserving bottom three. But then Ryan called Katharine down to the bottom three.

Oh, the drama!

Ace was the first sent back as safe.

Oh, the melodrama!

How does this happen? Have the country fans stuck around after last season’s success and now just vote for every country singer no matter how bad they are? Did Katharine sing so well that everyone assumed she was safe and so didn’t vote for her? Has America finally turned its back on the godawful song stylings of Christina Aguilera?

In the end, it didn’t matter — Lisa went home. It’s a shame, because she has a great voice and should have done much better in this competition. It all came down to song selection for her, and she never truly got it right. But I bet she’ll be back on Broadway about three months after this season completes and the contracts run up.

Katharine won’t make the bottom three next week because her fans will vote in droves next week no matter what. Again, she could sing “I’m A Little Tea Pot” next week and make it through.

An upset is coming, though. We’re running out of easy selections for the bottom three. Things are about to start getting ugly. And the longer Bucky lasts, the louder the ugliness will get.

De Blieck Out!

Second Mini-Link Dump of the day

Animaniacs to DVD

Animaniacs on DVD!TVShowsonDVD.com has the scoop! And it’s a good one.

The first volume will have five discs with 25 episodes for $45. And Maurice LaMarche (Brain) hosts an interview thing with fellow castmates from the show.

One of the highlights of the San Diego Comic Con for me a couple of years back was seeing LaMarche and Rob Paulsen (Pinky) do a live reading of a particularly twisted episode of PINKY AND THE BRAIN. It was a lot of fun, as I’m sure this DVD will be.

Just look at the shorts on there: “Yakko’s Universe Song,” “Hooked On A Ceiling” (one of the funniest and best-animated episodes of all), “Bumbie’s Mom”, “King Yakko”, “Meatballs of Consequences,” “Wakko’s America Song”, “Pavlov’s Mice”, “Plane Pals,” and more.

It’s due out on July 25th, which can’t get here fast enough. I have a feeling we’ll see some of those voice actors at the San Diego Comic Con in support of the disc — that’s happening the weekend before.

And can Tiny Toons be far behind, now?

AI5 – Round of 10

The first rule of Fight Club is that you don’t talk about Fight Club.

The first rule of American Idol is that you don’t choose a song because you like it. You choose a song because it’ll show off your voice.

And just about every contestant violated the first rule of American Idol last night. It’s the fifth season of this show. Haven’t they learned anything yet? I think every last one of the video packages leading into the song included the contestant looking earnestly into the camera with a smile and saying, “I picked this song because I flat out like it.” (I think that was Bucky’s exact phrasing, actually.)

In almost every case, it was their downfall. I’m not sure there was a crash and burn amongst the group, but very few did anything different or outstanding.

The second rule of American Idol is that the big long loud note at the end isn’t enough to save the performance anymore. It used to work in the first season and maybe partway into the second, but then everyone caught onto it. It also hurts when you’re hoping that note saves the day, but then you don’t nail it. Numerous people fell into that trap last night, too.

It was just a lot of karaoke in the show, and I’m surprised Simon didn’t use the word more often.

Lisa began with original American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson’s “Because of You.” It was, to put it mildly, a risky choice. Simon might even have called it “ballsy” on another week. But he was also right in saying the song was bigger than her voice and that there’s not much you can do with it. I thought she sounded clean and clear, but it was just a bad song choice. Hey, it was a song she liked, I’m sure.

The part that all the judges missed that impressed me is that she really sold the emotion of the song. She wasn’t smiling through a song about breaking up and hating the guy for it and everything he’s done to her. She emoted throughout the performance. It’s something Barry Manilow harped on a lot last week. And it’s likely something her previous Broadway training helped her with this week.

She did, however, warble a bit on the big last night.

I think she’s in big trouble again this week, though. She’s already a constant in the bottom three, and then she went first with a forgettable performance.

Kellie went with “Suds in the Bucket,” back to her country roots. Hey, it’s a song she likes! Kellie’s biggest problem is that she sleep walks through her performances. I saw almost no emotion in her face. It was a blank stare as she sang the whole thing. The heavy makeup job didn’t help, either. Her eyes looked Asian. (She might also want to reconsider the peek at the bare mid-riff. . . )

The last note was a bit pitchy (see a pattern developing yet?), and the song was completely uninspiring. I’m afraid Pickler might start bleeding fans soon. She saved herself a little with her fanbase through her cute apologies to the judges, but I know a lot of people will be turned off even by that. I don’t think it’s an act, though. I just think there are a lot of bitter and cynical people who’ve been manipulated by the mass media too much throughout their lives to believe that there are more innocent people in the world who haven’t been.

Ace did one of his favoritest songs ever! Ohmigod! “Drops of Jupiter” by Train, though, is practically a novelty song. It works because its singer has a crazy voice that suits the song. Doing a karaoke cover of it means either imitating every inflection of Pat Monahan (I think that’s how you spell it — and I can’t believe I remember his name off the top of my head), or taking it someplace completely new. Ace did neither.

He saved himself by ripping the top of his shirt open to bare his chest– er, show a scar. I could feel the humidity in the studio rise from the drool of all the fangirls.

Ace is also in denial, though, believing he picked a song he really felt. I want him to be in the bottom three just for that little bit of hubris.

Taylor went with “Trouble,” a song I wasn’t familiar with, but is perfectly suited to his singing style. The problem with it is that it never got out of second gear. It tried near the end to really ramp up, but otherwise just stayed in the middle. He’s right in that it was a nice choice to show off his vocals, rather than his dancing. But the end effect is a “so close but yet so far” feeling.

Simon compared his styling to that of Clay Aiken. (Iā€™m guessing he’s thinking bank to the Grease week.) He’s not that far off. The jacket needed a collar, and I think they cut his hair a little shorter than normal. He looked awkward like that — either an adult dressing as a kid in a size too small, or a big kid trying to dress cool but failing. Hopefully, he can go back to being the crazy guy we all know and love next week.

Mandisa went with a song of praise she loves so much that is one of her favorites. “Wanna Praise You” is, as Simon pointed out, “self-indulgent.” There’s no real vocal in there for her to sing. The first 45 seconds were atrocious, and the rest of the song involved her warbling around the melody, but never on it. It was all over the place. There were moments where it worked, but the general feel of it was just too wild.

Chris went with a Creed song, “What If?” Funny that we go from one worship song to a song sung by Scott Stapp, whose religious yearnings are a matter of public record. And while he might have sung it well — I’m not such a fan of music that loud, so I’m not one to judge it too well — I think Simon is right in that Chris crossed the line. His fans will love that he didn’t sell out. And I know the Belgian Idol was a rocker more prone to Nirvana. And I know Beau Bice set the stage for someone like Chris to go far this season. I just think this one was a little too much, too.

Katharine chose a Christina Aguilera song. I could have told you it was a Xtina song even if she hadn’t mentioned it. The song is unmistakably Xtina. It’s all over the place, ranging high and low, loud and runny, soft and slutty. It’s called “The Voice Within,” and I think Katharine used it to show her range. I’m not so sure I agree with Randy that it shows the kind of album she’d make. At least, I hope this isn’t.

She didn’t miss notes, though, and she transitioned strongly between the various parts of the song. I’ll say it again — she’s got the best voice of the competition, even when I disagree with the song choices.

She also was carefully styled to show that she ISN’T pregnant. Finally, we saw her wearing something that proves that.

Bucky sang a song he flat out liked, “Real Good Man.” He looked like he was playing dress up at a Tim McGraw Fan Convention, and proceeded to play good karaoke. He’s just not believable on stage. His “moves” look choreographed and planned, not natural. He never looks like he’s that much into the song. He tries, but I’m not buying it. He’s coasting. I still want him out.

Boy, it’s getting easier and easier as the weeks go by to pick favorites and see who’s going to go far in this competition and who isn’t. My Top 12 is going to be more wrong this year than ever, I think.

Paris gets caught in a conundrum. Simon asks her to go younger. So she does. Then Simons tells her she looks like a girl playing dress up. Simon wants it both ways.

Her performance of “Work It Out” (Beyonce, right?) wasn’t quite “Bootylicious,” but did make me a little uncomfortable. She’s, what, 16 years old? Maybe I do agree with Simon on this one. . .

Randy is also right, though, that she was fearless to pull that song off. In the end, it will do her well. The vocals were strong. The performance and dancing was memorable. She was crazy, and I think it’ll pay off on a night when everyone else is doing karaoke of their recent favorites.

Elliott wraps up the night with “I Don’t Wanna Be.” He did the right thing in going with a more soulful arrangement of the song, which I really liked. He’s just still so difficult to watch. He looked like Eminem, complete with the hand motions and bouncing/dancing. I’m sure George Huff was proud of him last night. His vocal wasn’t as strong as it could have been or as much as the judges fawned over it, but I think the performance will be memorable enough to carry him through.

He did have one over-the-top silly hand gesture though. There’s a lyric line about “looking around.” He put his hand up to his forehead as if to shield the sun from his eyes, and peered out into the audience. The choreography on this show is getting sillier and sillier. It’s all so very literal. People grab their long hair when the song mentions a person’s locks. They incessantly point to the camera on “you.” A stray finger runs down their cheek for “tear” or “cry.” And Ace shows his scar on “scar.” Insanity!

As Paula said to Elliot, “You’re one funky white boy.” I just thought he was trying to be a boy band member, or an R&B singer. Whatever floats your boat.

The trick with Elliott is to listen to him and not look at him. He still missed a couple of notes, but at least he did something with his song choice.

How do I rank the Top 10 this week? There’s a large chunk of mediocrity in there.

Paris, Elliott, and Katharine have to rank at the top. I think Katharine was my favorite. Taylor is a close fourth, just ahead of Chris. (It was self-indulgent, but not bad. We’ll see if it costs him votes from lesser fans of “rock.”) Lisa would come next, just ahead of Mandisa. Kellie, Bucky, and Ace are my bottom three, and tough to choose between for worst of the night. They were uninspired, but not awful for what they sang. Nah, I think Ace was the worst of the night. And it was a bad night for country fans looking for anything new.

Who will America put in the bottom three? Lisa, no doubt. I think Ace is in trouble. And Mandisa will round it out. I’m sure someone’s about to make the argument for Middle America voting for the religious song in droves, but I don’t think it’s true, or that it would be enough. I’m most curious to see if Chris’ extreme descent in loud rock hurts him, though.

Lisa is done tonight.

Mini Link Dump – Games Edition

Why Java sucks

class SubTest { 
  public static void main(String args[]) {
    String s = "12345";
    String subs = s.substring(2, 3);
    System.out.println(subs);
  }
}

(Ignore those backslash delimiters up at the initial string declaration. That’s a function of WordPress or HTML or something, not my code.)

That code returns:

3

What kind of screwed up language is this? I can understand the first argument to the substring method being the base-0th character in the string. I’m cool with that. That returns “3.” But then the second argument is the last character of the string base-1. That’s just bizarre. Or, as a different book explains it, the second argument is “up to but not including” the base-0th character. Still bizarre, although slightly less ludicrous.

In Perl, you give it the base-0th character and how many characters you wish to excerpt. Simple. Makes sense. Heck, even telling it the first and last character in a string you wish to excerpt would make sense. Not including that last character is just bizarre.

I know every language has its eccentricities and all, but I just needed to vent. I’m sure LISP does it best, too. ;-)

Besides, by writing this all up, I’ve learned it better than just steaming over it privately.

As you were.

New Releases, 28 March 2006

There is a metric tonne of TV shows on DVD arriving in stores this week. Fatten up your wallet, TV fans, before heading to Best Buy.

From the animated world:

Astroboy: Ultra Edition: Set 1 Avatar: The Last Airbender: Book 1: Water, Volume 2 Danger Mouse: Seasons 5 & 6 Robot Chicken: Volume 1 The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! Volume 1

From the genre worlds:

Dark Shadows: DVD Collection 23 Doctor Who: The Beginning Collection Godzilla: The Series: Vol 02: Monster Mayhem Godzilla: The Series: Vol 03: Mutant Madness The Invisible Man: Season 1 Masters of Horror: Cigarette Burns (John Carpenter) Masters of Horror: Dreams In The Witch House (Stuart Gordon) Quantum Leap: The Complete 4th Season The X-Files: Season 4 The X-Files: Season 5 The X-Files: Season 6

Those are the new slimmer cased versions, that might also be missing the last disc of bonus supplements.

From the world of reality/documentary television:

American Muscle Car: Season 1 Dog the Bounty Hunter: The Best of Season 2 Modern Marvels: Extreme Gadgets Modern Marvels: FBI’s Crime Lab Modern Marvels: Great Inventions Modern Marvels: Walt Disney World

And everything else:

The Andy Milonakis Show: The Complete 1st Season Degrassi: The Next Generation: Season 3 Friends: The One With All The Babies Friends: The One With All The Birthdays Friends: The One With All The Weddings Highway to Heaven: Season 3 Knots Landing: The Complete 1st Season Northern Exposure: The Complete 4th Season Not the Nine O’Clock News: Best Of Six Feet Under: The Complete 5th Season Wonder Showzen: Season 1

Not the Nine O’Clock News is about the closest I get to being excited for a release this week. Rowan Atkinson is hilarious.

Onto the movie highlights:

Barry Manilow: Music and Passion (2-disc set)

All this talk about him in the past week on the American Idol threads meant that I had to include this release. I believe it’s a live performance disc.

Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children (2-disc set) (2005)

Has anyone actually seen this yet? Is it any good?

Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ (2005)

I’m trying. Sorry, “I’m Tryin’”. Godzilla: Monster Edition (1998)

Unnecessary Special Edition Winner of the Week!

King Kong: Special Edition (widescreen) (2-disc set) (2005) King Kong (widescreen) (2005) King Kong (pan-and-scan) (2005)

I’m waiting for the four disc edition at Christmas time. No, that’s not for certain yet. I’m just guessing. I have remarkably little patience for three hour movies these days, though.

Memoirs of a Geisha (2-disc set) (2005)

This was supposed to be better remembered at Oscar time than it ended up being.

Next week: The Greatest Unnecessary Special Edition Title of All Time. I kid you not. Plus: a second edition of CRASH already. Another season of DAWSON’S CREEK. BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN. CHRONICLES OF NARNIA. And more!

iPod from Space

I’m pretty sure that it only looks like an iPod. The rest is just a gag.

On the off chance that it isn’t, though, read the story.

Sell your books

Barnes & Noble On-Line is offering cash for your books. Even better, they’ll pay the postage. For kicks, I typed in the ISBNs of a couple computer technical manuals I had lying around, and got purchase prices of $3.00 and $7.00 back for books with $30 and $50 price points. You might get more from eBay – but that takes a little more work, and a wee bit more luck.

They’re mostly looking for new and recent books in good condition. They’re NOT looking for western or science fiction series books, family bibles, or book club editions. Give it a try and see what they might offer you. . . It sounds so easy that it might catch on — until they’re completely flooded with books they don’t need, after all.