Wednesday, March 29, 2006

AI and 24

So Idol has finally lost its bloat and got down to a very efficient hour last night. The contestants busted out their favourite songs of the current decade and it was, to say the least, the strangest night I can recall. To wit:

Some HORRIBLE song choices. Lisa tried to take on Kelly Clarkson's "Because of You" and revealed her very limited range as a singer. Ace tried to take a run at Train's "Drops of Jupiter" (a personal favourite of mine). Unfortunately, his smooth voice lacked the roughness to bring it home. BIG props to Mandisa for busting out a gospel tune. But, MAN, those were heavy lyrics. Taylor, Paris (a great take on Beyonce), Elliott and, shockingly, Bucky were all excellent. Off nights for Chris and Kellie.

That leaves one and will someone tell me WHY they love Katharine so much? Her tune was OK, but for Simon to say she outsang Christina Aguilera? Come ON. Lastly, what was with the judges last night. From Paula's totally creepy request to have Ace tell her how he scarred himself to Simon's crapping on everyone but Katharine, the judges were in rare form last night. Of special interest are these (paraphrased) comments made by Simon about Chris the last two weeks:

Last week: "You're the first contestant I believe we have ever had who, no matter the style, refused to compromise themselves. Well done."

This week: "Every week, it's the same thing. You need to show some range, some diversity"


Anyways, the night ws saved for me by 24. Another great episode ending with a cliffhanger (that they even preserved in the preview for next week) and some really well-acted moments. All the subplots this year are exciting, the Audrey and Jack arc is a compelling romantic storyline and best of all, NO PRESIDENT this week. I so dig Chloe's character and she really did a good job putting the shlub from Homeland in his place. Gotta do something with the whackjob brought up from downstairs, though.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

American Idol Update

Songs of the 50's this past week.

I was really shocked to see Kevin go this week. Not because of his talent, but because the singers getting attention from Vote For The Worst usually go deeper into the Top 12. Looks like they're turning their focus to Kellie, but I still think Bucky deserves their attention.

Song-wise, everyone came off well this past week except Bucky and Taylor, whose Buddy Holly covers sounded really thin (compared to everyone else). I think it has more to do with the fact that rockabilly doesn't translate well to a big-band backing. Taylor covered for it well, though, with a fun and energetic performance. The girls (except Lisa) really shone this week. Mandisa's cover of a Dinah Washington tune was really great, as was Paris' "Fever" and Kellie's "Walkin' After Midnight" (a personal favourite of mine). On the guys' side, Chris turned "I Walk The Line" into something pretty special and Elliott and Ace were both excellent.

This week, songs of the 21st Century, which should be pretty easy for everyone. It will be interesting, though, to hear the song choices.

Check out my bud Jason Silver's new music:

From his new album 12 Girlfriends
Image hosting by Photobucket

Click to play

Like what you hear? Click on the album cover to buy your copy TODAY. You'll be glad you did.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Deal or no Deal and other goodies

What a simple concept. 26 cases holding different amounts of money. A contestant chooses one and starts opening others. As each non-selected amount is revealed, a "banker" makes offers to the contestant to "buy" their case, in the hopes of buying it back at a discount.

Great TV. Best game show since "Millionaire" first appeared. If you want to play a free online version of the game, go here. It's really addictive.

In other news, 24 brought the goods AGAIN this week, as Tony is officially killed off, martial law is imposed in L.A. (right, like THAT would ever stick), the Palmer family reintroduces themselves to the party, Homeland Security sticks their noses where they are not welcome, Jack Bauer invents the greatest flash memory (and I mean "flash") card EVER and one of the greatest, most unexpected twists I've ever come across at the end of the episode. 10 hours to go. Allow me to go out on a limb and say I will be lining up at the store the day the Season 5 box is released. This season will ROCK in extended, commercial-free cycles.

Speaking of commercial-free, I bought a DVD recorder at Future Shop about a month ago. An 80GB hard drive allows recording of 107 hours of TV (at the lowest resolution). Simple recording, with a searchable TV Guide that it downloads through the cable line from my provider. One touch of a button allows you to skip part of the recording (up to 5 minutes), so see ya commercials. Bye-bye blank cassettes, dirty recording heads and fast-forward scan. I am a VERY satisfied TV viewer now.

That's all for now. I got my hands on "A History of Violence" and "Good Night and Good Luck", so I'll be watching those over the week and will put up opinion later.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

American Idol - Fearless Predictions

So, in case you don't know, my wife and I have followed American Idol since the end of season 2 (The titanic Ruben vs. Clay steel cage match). We really got into it last year, watching faithfully every week. This year, no different. I like this year's group the best of all and I already have my favourites picked out. You can see the final 11 here. Here's my analysis of the top 11.

First, the ladies:

Paris Bennett - Put on a great show this week, singing Stevie Wonder (which they all did). She's got real talent, but is a little off/on week-to-week. When she gets the stuff she digs, she puts on the show like few others.

Katharine McPhee - has her as the favourite among the women. Why? Sure, she's got a good voice and Shania-like cheekbones, but she's no Mandisa. I could actually see her getting punted before the final 5.

Lisa Taylor - Paris Bennett with less energy. She's out within 3 weeks.

Kellie Pickler - I really liked her story and her early performances. When they announced Stevie Wonder was the artist this week, she made three mistakes: She picked a REALLY obscure tune, wore an ill-fitting dress and then proceeded to sing like she would rather be ANYWHERE else but on the stage. How she avoided the bottom three is a mystery to me. It's becoming clear that she cannot sing anything outside of country rock and this week's run at 50s tunes might be trouble, unless she does Elvis.

Mandisa - How can you not like her? Two weeks ago, she busts out a rendition of Chaka Khan's "I'm Every Woman" that Whitney WISHES she could have done. Week in, week out, the girl shows she can flat-out SING. I see Aretha Franklin 2.0 here and would not be surprised to see her win it all. In fact, I see her as the ONLY woman in the contest that has a chance to go all the way.

....on to the guys.

Ace Young - His rendition of Stevie's "Do I Do" wasn't THAT bad. How he wound up in the bottom 3 this week is beyond me. Ace has the George Michael looks and a really good voice. Plus, he can perform. Top 5, maybe top 3 if he gets on a hot roll.

Bucky Covington - It is criminal that Bucky's here and Gedeon McKinney is not. Sure, his performance of "Superstition" was OK, but I thought (and still think) he's a subpar country singer. His take on Garth Brooks' "The Thunder Rolls" a few weeks back was passable, but seemed to vault him to the Top 12. Out this week or next.

Elliott Yamin - Very good singer. Way too vanilla to get too much higher. Out before the final 8.

Kevin Covais - As bad as Bucky's presence in the Top 12 is, Kevin's is worse. Of course, he's got the support of Vote for the Worst, which means he'll be around to poison my eardrums for a few more weeks. Give him credit though, he made Stevie's version of "Part-Time Lover" (my personal least-favourite Stevie tune) sound great.

Taylor Hicks - How can you not dig this George-Clooney-meets-Joe-Cocker guy. A truly gifted perfomer, he delivered an awesome "Living For The City". I think he's bound for the top 3.

Chris Daughtry - My favourite from the first time I heard him, Chris is this year's Bo Bice with a zillion more chops. Oddschecker has him as the favourite to win and I can't disagree. Outstanding stage presence and a terrific voice, he just sounds like someone who should be making records.

I reserve the right to say that the song choice week-to-week influenced the final result but, based on talent alone, here's my predictions for the next eleven weeks. This is in order of elimination:

Week of March 20 - Bucky, March 27 - Kellie, April 3 - Lisa, April 10 - Elliott, April 17 - Katharine, April 24 - Kevin, May 1 - Paris, May 8 - Ace, May 15 - Mandisa, May 22 - Taylor - leaving us with the 2006 American Idol - Chris Daughtry.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Quick hits

I haven't posted recently, so here's a recap of some of the stuff I'm watching/reading/listening to:

Just finished watching Stealth. Pretty impressive visuals brilliantly offset by some of the worst acting ever committed to film. When the AI-powered plane puts forth the most emotion, you KNOW you're watching something special. One plus, though, is the preview for Rent. I will never sit through the movie, but it introduced me to the tune "Seasons of Love", which I immediately downloaded from iTunes.

I've said it before, I'll say it again. 24 is THE greatest show on TV. There was some web chatter expressing disappointment with the slow moving nerve gas plot, but I am enjoying this season MUCH more than season 4. I still have to watch this week's episode, but I was saddened by Edgar's passing last week. Big props to the show producers for giving Edgar the "silent clock" sendoff (no beep beep as the seconds count off). To my memory, only Ryan Chappelle and George Mason had been given such treatment before this.

Season 6 of the Sopranos is off to a great start with an awesome "Holy Crap" moment at the end. If you haven't seen it, I won't spoil it for you.

Almost finished reading Good To Great. This should be required reading for anyone in a management post in any kind of business/organization.

Just got a pile of stuff from the library to watch, including March of the Penguins, The Island, Las Vegas: Season 2, The Shield:Season 3, Dog Day Afternoon and Sky High. That adds up to 44 hours of viewing (excluding any extras). Looks like I have a busy week ahead of me.

Finally, I am announcing a new addition to the Christmas movie must-have collection: The Polar Express is a great film. Loads of fun and a great take on the Santa Claus myth.

OK. There's enough for now.

Made a great find on the web.