Archive for April 2008

 
 

The Shield

You’ve gotta be kidding me:  The Shield: Coming This Fall

We have to wait another five or six months for the final season of the best show on television?!?  They finished filming it in December.  What’s taking so long?!?

Paramount Goes Back to Blu Ray

Site News DVD news: Paramount & Dreamworks Support Blu-ray Disc Format Again | TVShowsOnDVD.com

Less than 2 weeks after longtime HD DVD supporter Universal Studios announced their intention to support hi-def format war winner Blu-ray Disc (“BD”) for the first time, including TV-on-BD support with two season sets of NBC’s huge primetime hit show Heroes, the folks at Paramount Home Entertainment have now confirmed their own plans for getting back into the BD game. Paramount had previously been a supporter of both rival hi-def formats, but they ended their BD support last August and threw in their lot with Toshiba’s HD DVD camp. After Toshiba discontinued the format this past February, Paramount said they would return to BD support later in 2008.

How’s that for bad timing?  They gave up on the format just before it won the war, AND pissed off the TRANSFORMERS director all at the same time.  Beautiful!

AI7 – Round of 5 – Neil Diamond

The cast is dwindling fast, and so is the quality.  I haAmerican Idol logove a feeling that there will be some debate around the ‘net tomorrow about the theme weeks.  There comes a point in every season where people start to question the wisdom of throwing diverse and crazy themes at the contestants.  Let’s face it: Neil Diamond, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Mariah Carey, and Dolly Parton do not often get played on the same radio station.  Some might complain that the crazy diversity means a different contestant will tank every week, and others will struggle to get through. Give them songs in their wheelhouse, and they’d be stars.

That debate happens every year.  Personally, I like the creativity that musical diversity brings about.  I like seeing how the odd pairings can work in a contestant’s favor.  I’m sympathetic to the argument, though it’s an impossible one to fix.

The thing that is beginning to bother me in the judges’ comments is the shift in the show from being a vocal competition to being a musical arrangement competition.  David Cook is really really good and deserves to win it all this year.  The further this thing goes, the more obvious it becomes that he’s the only one who should win.  Anyone else would be a joke to the show.  But the show is currently playing to his strengths. The judges love to hear him rearrange things or borrow major rearrangements from other acts, and then they complain that the other contestants haven’t rearranged a song enough. There’s a difference between “making a song your own” and “rearranging the whole song.”  The latter will be the venue of more mature artists with musical inclinations.  The American Idol doesn’t necessarily have to be a songwriter and orchestral conductor. Obviously, such things would help, but I don’t think that’s in the show’s mandate. The judges are starting to slip it in there.

If I wanted that, I’d start a letter writing campaign to bring back ROCK STAR this summer to CBS. There‘s a show that shone with musical rearrangements.

In any case, it was Neil Diamond night and each contestant sang two songs.  Their first song performances ranged from the hideous to the merely OK. The second songs were all #1 hit singles, by comparison.

The most uncomfortable moment of the show was when Paula attempted to critique songs she hadn’t heard yet.  Whether she took notes in dress rehearsal or merely got her notes confused between people (as she suggested), the world may never know.

Jason Castro - Started with “Forever In Blue Jeans” and nearly put everyone to sleep, save Paula, who can dance to anything.  It wasn’t bad or hideously off-key or anything.  It was just capital-B Boring. We’ve seen this song and dance from him before and it’s no longer impressive.

His second song was “September Morn,” which felt much more comfortable for his voice, though his lack of guitar made him appear uncomfortable.  He still doesn’t have enough to justify continuing on in this competition.

Tangent: Is it just me, or does Neil Diamond look and sound like Agent Smith from The Matrix?

David Cook – He’s a smart cookie.  He picked two lesser-known songs and rocked them both.  The first, “I’m Alive,” showed vocal similarities to Diamond.  The second, “All I Really Need Is You” really came alive.  The song sounded exactly like something you’d hear on the radio today.  He’s got that familiar popular husky moody voice that adult contemporary stations love to sell to soccer moms.  We’ve said it before with previous performances, but I think this is the song that best exemplifies the song that could go from Idol to Top 10 radio hit overnight.

Tangent: With that unfortunately low camera angle, the drummer starts to look like Gary Coleman.

Brooke White – Crashed and burned with “I’m A Believer.” I think it’s just too soon since Shrek.  It’s not the right song for her.  It wasn’t believable.  I’m sure she likes the song and thought she had fun with it, but it was uncomfortable to watch her try to be that upbeat.  It reminded me of a children’s birthday performer.  Not good at all. The song is too fast and too loud and goes against all her best qualities.

Thankfully, her second song, “I Am I Said” was right in her wheelhouse.  (I think it was Randy who used the “wheelhouse” analogy too many times tonight, but it fits here once more.)  She sounded great behind the piano.  She was believable. It was 10x better.

On the other hand, her logic needs work. She wrote an early lyric on the palm of her hand so she wouldn’t forget it.  She was playing the piano.  When would she see her palm?  Plus, isn’t that the kind of thing the judges bounce contestants for during their initial try-outs?!?

Tangent: Ryan is singing song titles an awful lot this season, isn’t he?

David Archuleta – I’m over him.  He’s Disney Radio. He’s precocious.  He’s just not believable to me. Occasionally, he hits a strong note and carries a tune, but it all seems over his head.  And that right hand never stops reaching out.  The lips never stop getting licked.  The longer he’s here, the more he grates on me. Sadly, it’s something I’ll have to live with.  I don’t see any way this kid isn’t in the finals, with the teenage vote what it is.

He also picked the two most obvious songs from the Diamond catalogue.  One shouldn’t try to do “Sweet Caroline” as an IDOL song. It’s a cheesy night club song.  It’s a wedding song.  It’s a singalong thing that nobody takes seriously.  And he’s trying to turn it into a vocal powerhouse?  I don’t get it.

The second song, “America,” is the most obvious choice, but another song that’s not that great for IDOL, unless you’re a better actor/performer (more on that in a second) than David.  Plus, his voice cracked in the middle of the song and nobody called him on it. UGH Still, I think it was a much better performance than the first song.

I imagine Kristy Lee Cook is at home, mad that she didn’t get to sing this one.

Syesha Mercado is doomed.  She’s great. She might be the best pure singer left in the competition.  No, she is.  She might have won this in an earlier season.  Nobody can sing as clearly or as cleanly as she does. And what does she get for it?  America never votes for her, and the judges have decided to confuse “performance” with “Broadway.”  If anyone else did what she did on stage, they’d praise them for selling the song. With Syesha, they’ve already decided she’s Broadway-bound.  To her credit, Syesha seems happy enough to go to the Great White Way tomorrow.  Based on voting patterns, she might have to.

She started with “Hello Again,” which had the best vocal of the night.   Then, she went to “Thank the Lord for the Night Time,” the performance song with a strong vocal and a big stage show that invoked the Supremes, complete with three backup singers on stage.  I liked them both.  Completely different songs, strong performances and vocals on both.  She’s doomed.

Overall, from best to worst: Syesha, David C., David A., Brooke (because that first song was so atrocious), and Jason bringing up the far rear.  If there was any justice, Jason would go home and Brooke would be safe. I’m thinking we’ll actually see that happen. I’m betting on Carly’s voters going to Syesha to prop her up.  I think Carly’s fans are vocalist fans.

De Blieck Out!

Prius Update

Haven’t had a hybrid update in a while, have I?  Better late than never: New Prius to be bigger, better | Car Tech: An automotive blog from CNET – CNET Reviews

The new Prius will be 3 inches to 4 inches longer than the current model and it will get a 50 horsepower boost. Along with all that, it will get better fuel economy than the current model.

Scrubs to ABC

‘Scrubs’ is sewn up — quietly

The network’s final “Scrubs” episode airs next week, concluding its run with the network after seven seasons. But you’d never know it from watching NBC or perusing the entertainment media. At the conclusion of what was the comedy’s third-to-last episode on NBC on Thursday, viewers were simply urged to check out the show’s interactive features on NBC.com. The usual array of creator and cast interviews that usually accompany the final episodes of a concluding series are likewise largely absent. The super low-key exit for “Scrubs” is tied to what’s become the worst-kept secret in Hollywood: that the veteran comedy is moving to ABC. The long-pending deal for ABC to pick up 18 episodes of “Scrubs” for next season is effectively, pretty much, essentially, done.

New DVD Releases for 29 April 2008

There are a lot of TV releases this week, but not much worth highlighting here. Let’s get to it:

  • 27 Dresses

Katharine Heigl — one of those whiney doctors on that “Anatomy” show on ABC — stars as a bride’s maid who’s never been a bride, and thus has a huge collection of those dresses.  Weird Al fans will be happy to note they chose “27″ as the titular number.  Whoo-hoo!

My wife wants to see this one.  I wish the iTunes store would have it for rental in HD, but they shouldn’t for, at least, another month.  We perused the listings on iTunes over the weekend to see what was available.  There’s not much. Sad.

  • The Golden Compass

This might be the big release of the week.  It’s available in Blu-Ray, as well, of course.  There’s a 2 disc edition out there, too.

  • National Treasure 2

Or is this the big release of the week?  Nicolas Cage returned for this movie, which did a pretty good box office.

(Update: Whoops.  This is due out May 20th. I saw the Best Buy ad for it this week, but didn’t realize it was for a pre-order.  Sorry about that! )

Over in TV land: Beverly Hills 90210 hits season four, in which some very relevant modern day issues are discussed, the kids do something charitable, and there’s lots of kissing.  Maybe some drugs, too.  Oh, and sideburns.  Lots of sideburns. Joey gets a season two collection, which is when the show went completely down the crapper. The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles hits volume 3, in preparation for the new movie. And the ninth season of Cheers is now available on DVD.

What are you pondering picking up?

Wiiiiiiiii!

No, I don’t have time to play it, but it certainly looks like a lot of fun:

Anyone pick it up?  What didja think?

New O.A.R. album is coming

It should be noted that O.A.R. has a new album coming out. It’s called “All Sides.”

It “streets” on July 15th, but you can hear a new song or two on their MySpace page, linked above, plus the full track listing. I only see three songs that are concert staples.  Looks like we’re getting lots of new cuts.

Twitter Round Up

Better late than never, eh?

Also, I have your questions about my radio history to answer one of these weeks.  I haven’t forgotten about that one, either.

In the meantime, follow me on Twitter, or wait for these mostly-weekly round-ups.

Let’s try grouping these together into topics:

Profundities and Daily Living

  • I’m not going to sleep; I’m merely giving up on the day.  
  • Crap, it’s still the “work week,” isn’t it? I had hoped to wake up to something better.
  • Don’tcha hate it when bad things happen to annoying people? Also: Starr Jones is getting divorced.
  • “Sometimes you get the bear, sometimes the bear gets you.”
  • Way way too much to do tonight, and not nearly enough time. But it all has a deadline of tonight. I’m screwed.
  • @gordontheintern – Wheat thins are, indeed, the world’s greatest cracker.
  • Going to bed 40 minutes later than I should, and still haven’t done half the things I wanted to tonight. Tomorrow, we try again!

The Environment

  • In honor of Earth Day tomorrow, I’m going to print out every e-mail I receive.
  • Am sick of green everything. I’d rather see people genuinely interested in cleaner tech than the fashionable fad of the day.

Comics and the New York Comic Con

  • Not going to San Diego again this year, either. Being a grown up sucks.
  • Feels weird to follow comicon coverage on-line without the three hour California time shift.
  • Oooh, just got new business cards for CBR. VERY pretty. . . 
  • Sad but true: I do not possess the patience for a 13 second pre-roll before watching a video. 
  • I think NYCC hurt me, physically. I’m in pain tonight. Am I really getting too old for this gig? Do I need to switch hobbies? 
  • I have aches in the neck and shoulders telling me NEVER to carry a backpack for two days at a con again.
  • Think I strained a pec muscle at NYCC. Hurts like hell when I sneeze now. Weird.

Net and Tech Stuff

  • I’ve read the backlog of Twitter messages. Hence, I declare TWITTER ZERO!
  • Ooh, just had a jump in subscriptions to the Feedburner RSS feed for VariousandSundry.com. Exciting! 
  • Pardon my ignorance, but: Twitter has private messages? Yeah, that seems like a good idea. . .
  • Wow, Apple’s financial report looks insanely good. Lower margins but higher profits and better sales? We have a winner! 
  • I try to give him the benefit of the doubt, but I chuckle everytime @leolaporte uses “netcast.” It didn’t work. Move on.
  • No matter how bad Valleywag might get, it can’t possibly top the paparazzi crap happening on all these Hollywood shows every single night.

Entertainment

  • The 12 yr old daughter on Real Housewives of NYC turns out to be the voice of reason. Go figure. Can’t believe I’m overhearing this show.

  • Big Brother — How did we get to the point where Adam is in the final three and everyone competes for his loyalty?!?
  • I did laugh at the extended preview of Will Smith’s new movie tonight on Idol. The wife did not. ::sigh:: Civilians.

Looking for a Wii?

Still looking to get your hands on a Nintendo Wii?  Looks like the stores have been stocking up for Sunday’s release of MarioKart Wii. Toys R Us is taking pre-orders now.  Circuit City is forcing an ugly expensive bundle down your throat.  I’m sure others will follow.

AI7 – Round of 6 – Results

I can explain this one. It’s sad, but not entirely unpredictable.  Not only were the two best singers in the bottom two this week, but the two who had the best performances overall landed in the bottom two.

There was no Bottom Three.  They saved one person that agony. I wonder if it would have been Jason Castro, who I predicted would leave this week?

It was just Syesha and Carly sitting on the stools, stage right.  At first, it’s devastating. When the overrated Archuleta is breezing his way through to the finals, the stumbling Brooke carries through, and the hopeless Jason mumbles his way through another wretched number that sounds like all the others, the two girls with the strongest and most powerful voices are the only ones in danger of leaving.

But think about it for another minute or two.  It’s a classic case of vote splitting.  Syesha and Carly are splitting the same audience.  The people who watch this show looking for the next Mariah or Whitney have only Syesha and Carly to choose from.  With Carly now gone, Syesha gains votes for the first week in a long time.  I think she’s safe now next week, for sure. She just got all of Carly’s votes.

Cooke is the lone rocker.  Brooke is the lone folksinger.  Jason and David might be splitting a bit of the youth vote, but David is the superior singer, overrated as he is.  Carly and Syesha are, relatively speaking, the same singer.  When votes are split in this show, people leave too soon.

Just look back, again, to the LaToya London, Jennifer Hudson, Fantasia Barrino week.  They were all too very similar to not split the vote, and Hudson left, with all her votes going to the eventual winner in Fantasia.  (As I recall, sadly, LaToya didn’t last much longer after that week.)

So this is just a simple matter of vote splitting.  That said, I do have a negative feeling about this season. I fear we’re going to wind up with a one hit wonder Idol this season.  David Cooke, I think, is the only one left who might have a valid long-term career, and even then it will always be in the shadow of Chris Daughtry.

We heard about how this was the best Top 12 in Idol history, but it’s winding down to something that’s not very pretty.

Big Brother nears the end

I’m disappointed in both Sharon and Ryan tonight.  I wanted to see those two battling it out in the finale for votes — two strong players with very different gameplay.  Instead, we have Adam once again voting for anyone who’ll cry to him and throwing the game a different way.  We have Sharon refusing to play the game one time too many, refusing a deal (even if ultimately meaningless) that might have covered her secret alliance long enough to save the day.  We have Ryan believing something Adam says?  I still don’t get that one.

So who might win this?  Ryan is the last one left in the house who deserves to win.  He’s orchestrated most of it in the last month.  He’s won competitions.  He’s had Final Two and Final Three deals with just about everyone in the house and never been caught on it.  He’s hid behind a smile and a friendly demeanor while plotting everyone else’s ouster.  He’s a great actor.  He got voted out of the house once and still survived, despite an obnoxious partner nobody liked, and a girlfriend in the house that people didn’t like. Sheila cries a lot and doesn’t do much. She’s made one strong power play in the season and that’s it.

Adam is an idiot who gets caught in every lie, who nobody really likes, who stabs all of his partners in the back, and yet keeps getting away with it.  How he’s slid this far down the slide of this game I’ll never know. It’s still not enough to get my vote, though.

But how will the jury vote? I don’t think Sheila can win, even with the “I deserve it” and “I’m a single mother” cards being played.   The jury is too cynical for that to work this season.

So, Ryan versus Adam?  Adam is a buffoon. Ryan is well-liked, and if he’s smart he’ll tell everyone everything he’s done, reveal himself as the master manipulator nobody saw coming, and take the half million dollar prize.

That’s my theory.

AI7 – Round of 6 – Andrew Lloyd Webber

It’s Andrew Lloyd Webber week, with special guest dance star, Ricky Minor.  How odd.  It’s odd enough seeing him not strapped into his bass guitar.  It’s odder still seeing him in a tux.  But donning a chapeau and dancing with the contestants on stage?

Bizarre.

Syesha Mercado – “One Rock N Roll Too Many” – I don’t know which musical this is from.  I was hoping for something from “Whistle Down The Wind,” just for the Jim Steinman goodness.  Sadly, it never happened.  This was a fun upbeat and lively number.  It’s the first time Syesha’s really “rocked out,” and did so in the guise of sexy musical theater.  Go figure.  She interacted with the band.  She told her story. I thought she was a little lost in the verses when she wasn’t powering through, but it was a memorable enough act to get her some votes.  Is it enough to overcome the dreaded #1 start on the night?  I don’t now.

I liked the way Randy and Simon both went for her jugular in the nicest way possible.  “You can be a Broadway star” is the nice way of telling someone, “You’ll never win this show if we have any say in it.”

Speaking of which, I was watching the latter rounds of Season Two this last week.  Forget Ruben versus Clay.  Kimberley Locke should have won it.

10 on BroadwayJason Castro – “Memory” from CATS - Crash and burn?  Possibly.  It’s a matter of style.  There were a few moments, particularly early on, where I thought he was changing the song to fit his style.  It kind of worked with a funkier more rhythmic beat.  Sadly, he didn’t go there.  He merely muddle through, as Simon put it, the longest two minutes of his life.  Perhaps Webber’s words should have been our warning: “He kind of understood it [the song].  I think.”

As for men not singing the song — I rather like Dennis De Young’s version, thanks.

Brooke White – “You Must Love Me” – It’s the new song from EVITA, the movie.  She stutter started again.  Blew the second line and stopped the orchestra. Ouch.  I fear she’s starting to lose it.  I was nervous for the rest of the song for her.  That didn’t feel good.  Simon said she looked tense after that, too.  I’m inclined to agree.  That’s where I picked the vibe up from.  She has a nice voice.  It’s not meant to be a power Broadway singer.  Stick to something folksier and she’ll be fine.  She did “get” the song, though.

Does it really matter, though, how these contestants sing?  Aren’t Brooke, Syesha, and Jason just cannon fodder right now?  (Carly ain’t much better.) David Archuleta - “Think of Me” – PHANTOM OF THE OPERA.  He attempted a remix and failed.  He lost the melody and the song completely for me.  Very distracting.  Archuleta might be the single most highly overrated contestant in this show’s history.  If he’s not powering through, he’s lost.  Try listening to him in the lower parts, or the verses where he doesn’t have the chance to scream a note.  It’s not terribly exciting.

Having said that, Randy called him the boy to beat, and Paula thought the song was “absolutely perfect.”

They really are stuck in some other aural world up there on set, aren’t they?

Simon, at least, called it one of David’s weaker performances.

Carly Smithson – “Superstar” – That JC musical.  Ricky Minor is back and dancing.  This is Carly’s attempt to recreate what Syesha had at the beginning of the show.  It works for her, in large part because it’s so different and so sure.  It’s not her best vocal performance on the show, but it’s her best “performance” for a song.  She looked comfortable on stage.

Now, let’s get to that t-shirt she held up after the song.  “Simon Loves Me,” it said. In all-caps.  Problem One: It’s in Comic Sans.  Problem two: It uses the wrong “I” in Simon’s name.  The crossbar-I should never be used in the middle of a word.  It’s wrong. It’s ugly.  It’s distracting.  UGH

Whoever made that shirt should be voted off the show tomorrow night for crimes against typography.

David Cook – “Music of the Night” – PHANTOM OF THE OPERA.  I like the tone of his voice paired with this song.  It’s great for him. I just don’t think he sold it. Maybe I shouldn’t judge — this is an intense love song, and I’m the wrong audience for it.  I just didn’t think he sold it as well as he could have, from a performance point of view.  Still, I liked the vocal.

Said Paula to David, “You have a beautiful instrument.”  Isn’t that what she told Corey Clark, too?

Syesha, Brooke, and Jason will be in the bottom three.  Who will go home?  Eh, who knows?  I think Brooke’s stumble will get her people voting for her in mass quantities.  Syesha excited the small fanbase she has. Jason finally goes home.

(Since I didn’t pick Syesha, I fear it’s curtains for her now.)

De Blieck Out!

New DVD Releases for 22 April 2008

  • Cloverfield

This is really the only one I need to spotlight, isn’t it?  Looks really cool if you can stomach the hand-held camera throughout.

  • Charlie Wilson’s War

Tom Hanks went on Oprah’s show to promote this, so you know it’s a feel-good romantic comedy, right?!? ;-)

And that’s it. Sad, isn’t it?

The Moon

The Moon

With all the New York Comic Con stuff happening over the weekend, I have no time to do the DVD release list today. It’ll return tomorrow. In the meantime, enjoy this picture.  Click through to see the full sized version, because it’s a beauty.

One Canon 400D/XTi.  A Canon 70-300 lens.  1/80th of a second at 300mm and ISO 100.

Converted to black and white in Lightroom and added some curves adjustments, some blacks, some sharpening.  But I didn’t add any detail.  It was all there in the RAW file. I just brought it out.  I really like how this turned out.