Friday, September 12, 2008

Craig Ferguson on Voting

I've never paid much attention to Craig Ferguson...I'm too much of an old woman to stay up watching late night TV most of the time.

However, people link him to death on entertainment and gossip blogs, and I've been clicking on those links and listening and watching more and more over the last couple of months.

The man is flat out hysterically wonderful. Really fantastic. He's got that UK sense of humor that just flows out of him, effortlessly. Pair that with the timely topic of the 2008 election...and you get this piece of brilliance.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

DMB remembers LeRoi Moore

Dave opens up the show

Dave Matthews stunned the crowd at the Staples Center last night, when, after opening the show with "Bartender," he stepped up to the microphone to make an announcement.

LeRoi Moore, founding member of DMB and world-class saxophonist, had died earlier that day from complications from injuries sustained in an ATV accident in June. He was 46. "We got some bad news today," Matthews said, and the entire place went silent almost immediately. He informed the crowd of Roi's passing, then added, "he gave up his ghost today, and we will miss him forever."

I heard many people gasp, saw hand fly to mouths in shock. Some cried, nearly everyone stood stoically, quietly, and tried to process. I am not a DMB fanatic; in fact, last night was my very first time seeing them live. Still, the intensity and gravity of the situation were not lost on me, and as they launched into "Proudest Monkey," I was floored by their ability to carry on.

And carry on they did. As it was my first live DMB concert, I have no basis for comparison, but they absolutely blew me away. And my roommate, who has seen them 14 times, told me that they blew pretty much every song right out of the water.

Boyd Tinsley rocks that fiddle

It was an amazing experience. So much so that I really don't have the proper words to describe it. So I will link to someone who did (and then some): Ben Wener of the OC Register. I do have to say that it was one of the most moving, heartfelt and powerful live performances I have ever seen.

I thank the band for sharing their nearly three-hour elegy to a lost friend. It was quite the experience. RIP, LeRoi Moore.

The Setlist:

Main set: Bartender / Proudest Monkey / Satellite / So Damn Lucky / Eh Hee / Water into Wine / Burning Down the House* / Dancing Nancies / Loving Wings / The Maker / Sledgehammer** / Grey Street / The Dreaming Tree / Crash into Me / Everyday / Anyone Seen the Bridge > Too Much intro > Ants Marching

Encore: Sister / Corn Bread / Two Step

Monday, August 4, 2008

What could have been - Buffy: The Animated Series

Buffy: The Animated Seried was one of many oft-rumored and discussed follow-ups to the 1997-2003 television show that never quite made it to fruition (please add it to a list that already includes the Ripper, Faith and Spike spinoffs).

From what I recall, the animated series actually made it fairly far along in the creative process. However, there was never anything to show for it…until now. Behold the awesome and wonderful power of YouTube, which has a 3:35 promo of what the animated series would have been like, if.

I’m leaning toward the “glad this didn’t get made” side of the fence. Reverting back to high school, dialogue not as clever as it should be…plus, the Scooby Gang as cartoons just doesn’t work for me on a very basic level. It’s just plain WEIRD.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Welcome to LA, Manny!

Okay, look.

I get that Manny Ramirez is far more than his .299 BA, 20 HR and 68 RBIs. He is far more than an absolutely dominating plate presence who makes the opposing pitcher more than a little uncomfortable every time he steps into the box. He’s more than the power hitter the Dodgers have been searching for with very little success for years and the likely missing piece that will help push the Dodgers into October.

I’m honestly not sure that I care.

Manny loves Manny. He’s a lazy left-fielder, indulged by the Green Monster. When he’s unhappy, he acts like a petulant child. Ask any Red Sox fan about the half-assed jogs to first, the seemingly-intentional strike outs and his imaginary “knee problem” and I’m sure they’ll be happy to speak their mind about what a headache Manny has become. For a notoriously rabid, loyal fan base that was hearts-in-their-eyes, over-the-moon in love with him…that’s saying quite a lot.

I won’t excuse Manny’s behavior, especially since I’m a big believer (especially when you’re being paid millions of dollars to play a game) in professionalism above all else. However, a change of scenery might do him a lot of good.

Manny says bye-bye to Boston.

That’s what I’m hoping, anyway, since as of 1pm yesterday, Manny Ramirez became a Dodger. In a move that sent shockwaves through the baseball world, the world of ESPN and the world of my office, Ramirez became the latest Dodger two-month rental in a three team trade with Boston and Pittsburgh.

The Pirates sent outfielder Jason Bay to Boston, and Boston and the Dodgers each sent two minor leaguers to Pittsburgh (outfielder Brandon Moss and RHP Craig Hansen, and 3B Andy LaRoche and RHP Bryan Morris, respectively). The Red Sox will pay the remaining $7 million left on Manny’s contract, and both the Dodgers and Scott Boras, Manny’s agent, agreed to waive the 2009 and 2010 options on his contract, each for $20 million. That means Manny will be a free agent at the end of the year and I’m sure several GMs are already drooling over the possibility of landing him for the 2009 season. Of course, such a thing won’t come cheap. Not when you have Manny’s ego and Boras’ money-grubbing to contend with.

Will Bay be a big hit in Beantown?

There’s no doubt that the Dodgers got the best end of this deal, at least in the short run. Manny was basically free; LaRoche has consistently underperformed during the two years the team gave him to prove himself at a big league level, and it’s too early to really say if and how badly the departure of Morris will be felt. The Red Sox got rid of their biggest headache and replaced Ramirez with Bay, who is comparable (at least in numbers alone) to Manny, 7 years younger and significantly lighter in the baggage department. The Sox also have a much better chance of hanging on to Bay than the Dodgers do with Manny. The Pirates held a fire sale before the trade deadline…who knows what they were thinking, really…but it’s definitely notthe best way to secure your first winning record since 1992.

There are a lot of question marks surrounding Manny’s arrival in LA today, but I can tell you this…I am ridiculously excited (so much so that I can hardly contain myself) to see him don Dodger Blue and step up to the plate against Randy Johnson tonight.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Whedonverse Friday: "The Cabin in the Woods"

Earlier this week, MGM acquired and greenit "The Cabin in the Woods," a thriller written by the Joss-god himself.

As far back as last July (at Comic-Con in San Diego), Whedon described the project as "a horror film to end all horror films." All other details, including loglines or any description of the plot, are being kept closely uner wraps.

Nothing he touches is bad...nothing.

Drew Goddard, formerly a writer/collaborator on the Whedon-created "Angel," co-wrote the script with Joss and will make his directorial debut on the film. Whedon will produce.

"Cabin" is the first project to be greelit by new MGM motion picture head, Mary Parent. Parent is quoted calling the script "one of the most original and clever scripts I've ever read."


Of course it is,'s got Joss' fingerprints all over it. Here's hoping the project doesn't go the wasd of "Goners" or "Wonder Woman." As a horror-phobe, I'll start mentally preparing myself to go see it now.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Twilight Trilogy Hits The Big Screen

Since I'm currently in the middle of the third book (for the second time in just a few months), I'm ridiculously excited about the movie, which landed on the cover of EW this week.

The cover does Robert Pattinson absolutely no justice. He's MUCH better looking, and he's supposed to be ethereally beautiful in the movie...this cover is half of an epic fail. Kristen Stewart looks fabulous, however.

Twilight, the first book of the ridiculously popular trilogy by Stephenie Meyer, will be out as a feature film in December. The film stars Robert Pattinson (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) as Edward Cullen, a vampire who doesn't feed off humans, and Kristen Stewart as Bella Swan, his mortal soul mate.

The books themselves have garnered Harry Potter comparisons (page-turning fantasy novels that attract readers of all ages). While I wouldn't place Meyer's novels on a pedestal anywhere NEAR that of J.K. Rowling, her books are ridiculously hard to put down and a great read...especially for a girl that loves vampires and werewolves as much as I do.

The teaser trailer.

Let the countdown begin!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Recap: Idols LIVE!

I had the good fortune to see the American Idols Tour 2008 last night at the Staples Center. I went with my roommate, and we spent the entire night acting like ridiculous 12-year-old girls. It was fabulous.

I am going to attempt to recount my thoughts (with help from my twitter) from the concert. Hopefully pictures and video will follow.

I have to say, all of the Idols sounded just as good, if not better, live. I was pleasantly surprised, because there’s less “helpful voice magic” live than on television. In particular, Ramiele and Papa Johns, two of the top 10 I was never that sold on, wowed me live.

There was a dancing PopTart in the pre-show with Corey the warm-up guy. I wish I were joking. That’s all I really want to say on that.

This is the cardboard cutout I posed inappropriately with. Word.

I love Chikezie. After David Cook, he was my favorite Top 12 contestant. I was a little let down by his set, to be honest. He sang beautifully; his falsetto in particular was absolutely gorgeous live. I just wish he’d actually done at least one of the numbers he performed on Idol (“She’s a Woman,” anyone?). He did a great job, but as the opening performer he failed to draw me into the show as much as I would have liked.

I never cared for Ramiele when she was on Idol, but live her voice is incredibly powerful. Her fashion sense, however, hasn’t improved a single bit. To wit, my Twitter: “I think Ramiele is blind. That is the only way I can explain her outfit. Where are the fug girls when you need them?” Still, I really enjoyed her set, especially her final song, Maroon 5’s “If I Never See Your Face Again.”

Michael Johns is sexy. I don’t find him the least bit attractive, but wow is that man a bit of walking sex. He’s just charismatic, and when he declared that he arranged “this next, bluesy number just for the ladies” the whole place became all a-twitter. I waffled back and forth about him over the course of the season, but live he is FANTASTIC. His whole set was Idol on repeat, only much, much better. In particular, he rocked the hell out of “Dream On,” the song that actually got him booed from the show.

I’m not gonna lie. I left to get a pizza and a water (and take a picture of myself inappropriately touching a cardboard cutout of David Cook) during Kristy Lee Cook’s set. But she actually sang “God Bless America” as one of her three songs…can you really blame me? I thought not.

Carly Smithson is my hero. She is absolutely beautiful from head-to-toe and if you thought her voice was powerful on TV…she almost brought the place down with her power notes. I think of all the Idols, she chose her set list best. “Bring Me To Life,” “Crazy On You” and “I Drove All Night” complimented her voice perfectly. I was mesmerized and she gave me chills more than once.

Hands down, my favorite song of the night was performed by Brooke White. She rose up from a trap door in the floor playing the piano and singing “Let It Be,” which only gets better for me every time I hear her sing it. Nobody talked all that much, but she was adorably sweet and dorky and danced (fairly well, actually) while she sang Fiest’s “1 2 3 4.” However, it was her version of Coldplay’s “Yellow” that just stopped me cold. It’s really rare that a song actually makes me stop everything I’m doing – even thinking – and just listen. I was mesmerized and nearly moved to tears…and that NEVER happens to me.

Jason Castro is the most adorable person alive. I resisted his pull until last night, where I just fell in love with him completely. His stripped-down version of “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley was my second favorite of the night, and just seemed so very him. Listening to him perform “Daydream” live was also a highlight…because it just suits him perfectly.

I wish I could explain why, despite the fact that Syesha Mercado is one hell of a singer…no one seems to care about her. Her set was unbelievably strong; high energy, powerhouse vocals and a dress that I wish I could steal. Her final number, “Listen,” brought the house down. Definitely one of the Top 5 performances of the night. I think I might slowly be starting to love her.

David Archuleta rose, somewhat sheepishly, from the floor playing the piano as well. Only he got a smoke machine to help him out. Oh, and thousands upon thousands of screeching little girls (and plenty of women old enough to know better…like my roommate) helped herald his arrival as well. As my Twitter explained “Archie arrives via smoke machine and a fancy trap door. I’ve gone deaf.” I am happy to state that he is brilliant live. His version of “Angels” by Robbie Williams was one of my favorite numbers this season and it was gorgeous live. His mash-up of “Stand by Me” and “Beautiful Girls” was great as well. He seems to be having more fun on the tour than he ever appeared to on the show and I LOVE that. It makes him so much more fun to watch.

This is his tour outfit, apparently. What a hottie.

There is a video (that will never see the light of day if my roommate wants to live) of me absolutely flipping out when they announced David Cook. I believe I actually screamed more than once and jumped up and down (and replied “MY FUTURE HUSBAND! AHHHH!” when she asked me who it was I was screaming for). Bless my roommate, she stood up and freaked out with me…because that’s what good friends do. They don’t let you look ridiculous by yourself.

Seeing him live, finally…beyond words. Seriously. He was just…perfection. *happy sigh* His five-song set was really a mini rock show. Rocker Boy knows how to work a crowd like a front man and he pulled out all the stops. Working the stage, rocking out with the guitar, great banter with the crowd…I can’t wait for his solo tour where he’s not as crowded and is able to really take the audience on a journey with him…because it’s going to be amazing.

He sweetly dedicated “My Hero” by the Foo Fighters, the only song we hadn’t seen him perform before, to his brother. “Hello” and “Billie Jean” were showstoppers, and I had lots of fun every time the camera zoomed in on his backside. So pretty…

All in all, it was a really great show. Better than I was expecting, to be quite honest. I’m sad that I didn’t know there was a fan line after the show, because apparently David Cook spent quite a bit of time signing autographs and taking pictures and talking with fans. What a sweet boy.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Idols Tour 2008

I am such a squealing fangirl right now, because in just a few short days, I get to see this up close and in person:

I will be the girl attempting to sneak on stage to hug David Cook...though I promised several of my friends that I wouldn't get arrested. Dilemmas.

Anyway, for the curious (and those who don't mind being spoiled) here is the set list for the tour.

Chikezie Eze:
"I Believe to My Soul" (Donnie Hathaway)
"Caught Up" (Usher)
"So High" (John Legend)

Ramiele Malubay:
"I Want You Back" (Jackson 5)
"Love Will Lead You Back" (Taylor Dayne)
"If I Never See Your Face" (Rhianna)

Michael Johns:
"We Will Rock You"/"We Are the Champions" (Queen)
"It's All Wrong, but It's Alright" (Dolly Parton)
"Dream On" (Aerosmith)

Kristy Lee Cook:
"Squeezing the Love Outta You" (Carolyn Dawn Johnson)
"God Bless the USA" (Lee Greenwood)

Carly Smithson:
"Bring Me to Life" (Evanescence)
"Crazy on You" (Heart)
"I Drove All Night" (Cyndi Lauper)

Brooke White
"Let it Be" (Beatles)
"1234" (Fiest)
"Yellow" (Coldplay)

Jason Castro:
"Over the Rainbow" "
"Crazy" (Gnarls Barkley)
"Daydream" (Lovin' Spoonful)

Syesha Mercado:
"Umbrella" (Rhianna)
"If I Aint Got It" (Alicia Keys)

David Archuleta:
"Angels" (Robbie Williams)
"Apologize" (One Republic)
"Stand by Me" (Ben E. King)
"When You Say You Love Me" (Josh Groban)

David Cook:
"Hello" (Lionel Richie)
"Time of My Life"
"My Hero"
"Billie Jean" (Michael Jackson)
"I Don't Wanna Miss A Thing" (Aerosmith)

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

2008 ESPY Awards Nominees

I've said this for the past few years and I'm still surprised that I'm actally dead serious...if I could go to any major awards show, I'd go to the ESPYs. The show is always fun, everyone looks like they're happy to be there, it's not as stuffy or super fancy as other shows...and it's all about sports.

How does it get better than that?

The official list of nominees was released today, and is available for viewing and voting at the official 2008 ESPYs Website.

Below, some of the more itneresting categories (and my choice is italicized):

Best Male Athlete
Tiger Woods
Tom Brady
Kobe Bryant
Alex Rodriguez

Best Female Athlete
Lorena Ochoa
Candace Parker
Danica Patrick
Lindsey Vonn (skiing)

Go Danica!

Best Moment
H.S. Softball Sportsmanship (This was the actualization of everything they teach you sports SHOULD be about when you're a kid, and that beats everything else in my book)
Lester's No-Hitter
Danica Patrick's first win

Best Championship Performance
Venus Williams at Wimbledon 2007
Josh Beckett in the MLB Playoffs
Rafael Nadal at 2008 French Open
Tiger Woods at 2008 US Open

Prepare for total domination.

Best Game
Super Bowl XLII: Giants over Patriots
NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship: Kansas over Memphis
NBA Finals Game 4: Celtics over Lakers (I'm not a huge basketball fan, but this game was amazing)

Best Team

Red Sox
NY Giants
Kansas Jayhawks
Tennessee Vols Women's BBall
Red Wings

Best Play
Trinity Laterals (this was one of the most jaw-dropping things I have ever seen...and they did it for the win)
Manning to Tyree
Minnesota's Buzzer Beater (Hoffarber)
Rick Nash Goal

Best Upset
Appalachian State over UM in Week 1 of College Football (I LOVED this when it happened, not realizing that it would set thesage for one of the strangest, most upset-filled seasons of college football in recent memory)
Da'Tara wins the Belmont Stakes
NY Giants defeat the Patriots in the Super Bowl
Fresno State wins the College World Series over Georgia

Record-Breaking Performance
Barry Bonds
Tom Brady and Randy Moss
Brett Favre (broke the career touchdown record and the career interception record in conecutive weeks...but he's one of the best there ever was)
Usain Bolt

Brett Favre: All kinds of awesome.

Best Coach/Manager
Tom Coughlin, NY Giants (Even though he beat my beloved Packers in the NFC Championship game, what he did with that team was nothing short of astonishing)
Doc Rivers, Boston Celtics
Terry Francona, Boston Red Sox
Pat Summitt, Tenessee Lady Vols

The ESPYs, hosted by Justin Timberlake, will be broadcast on ESPN on Sunday, July 20 at 9pm EST.

Monday, June 30, 2008

If you get no-hit,

Saturday night, the Dodgers became only the 5th Major League team since 1900 to win a game after being no-hit.

Angels starter Jered Weaver and reliever Jose Arredondo combined for nine innings of no-hit baseball...and lost.

Weaver was not a happy camper afterward.

Now, technically the game wasn't a no-no. A game has to go at least 27 outs (nine full innings) for it to be an official no-hitter. Still, it was something pretty special.

Jered Weaver was untouchable for six innings and Chad Billingsley also pitched a solid game of shutout baseball. The only run came in the fifth, after a series of defensive mishaps.

Matt Kemp hit a comebacker to Weaver, who bobbled the ball and allowed Kemp to reach base. Two pitches later, Kemp stole second and steamed into third when catcher Jeff Mathis threw the putout pitch into center field. Blake DeWitt's sacrifice fly cashed in Kemp's unearned run.

Kemp is learning to make smart baserunning decisions. Hallelujah.

It's the sort of game you definitely don't see every day, and the roar of the crowd after Takashi Saito struck out Reggie Willits to end the game showed that the fans knew it. The Dodgers and Angels knew it too, judging by the stunned jubilation exhibited by the victors and stunned silence of the losers.

This is a perfect example of why I love this game. You think you've seen or heard about almost everything...and then something like this happens. Even the most wizened, jaded fan sits up and takes notice of a game like this. I also take particular satisfaction that we were playing the I hate them with the fiery passion of 10,000 suns (suck on that, Anaheim!).

Friday, June 27, 2008

Teaser Trailer for 'Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog"

It's amazing how working your little butt off for 3 weeks means you have no time to blog.

I had to stop to post this, though. The latest from the strange and wonderful mind of Joss Whedon (featuring the awesomeness of Neil patrick Harris and Nathan Fillion).

You're welcome

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Rookie DeWitt

I’ve been having a hard time seeing the silver lining in the Dodger rain cloud lately, but…

Congratulations to 3B Blake DeWitt for being named the NL Rookie of the Month for May!

No. 33, baby

DeWitt, who until this season never played above AA, was a last minute replacement at third after both Adam LaRoche and Nomar Garciaparra went down with Spring Training injuries. He’s taken full advantage of the unexpected opportunity, hitting .290 for the season with five home runs and 29 RBIs.

The rookie hit .322 with five home runs and 18 RBIs in May to earn the honor from Major League Baseball, beating out Joey Votto of Cincinnati, Geovany Soto of Chicago and Manny Acosta of the Braves.

From a personal standpoint, DeWitt has been an impressive addition to the Dodgers’ crop of young players. He’s a rook, which means he commits more errors than I’d like (of course, he DOES play third). However, he doesn’t seem to let the pressure get to him.

Some evidence? May 19th versus the Cincinnati Reds at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers mounted a 5th inning rally to tie the score at 5-5. In the bottom of the ninth, Reds reliever David Weathers gave up a single to Russell Martin (which he turned into a double on a throwing error by Paul Janish). Jeff Kent advanced Martin to third on a groundout. Weathers then intentionally walked James Loney and Matt Kemp to load the bases for the seven-hole-hitting DeWitt. He responded with a game-winning single.

He's a gamer.

I watched that game up close and personal. It was fantastic. What a kid. It’s a well-deserved honor and I’m excited to see what he’ll offer the team through the rest of the season. There’s ROY potential there (though I know, hard to think someone will beat out Fukudome).

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Katy Perry

I have sort of odd, random taste. To the point where I've stopped trying to explain to people how or why I like something. Often, there is absolutely no reason at all.

I cannot explain my love of Katy Perry. It just exists - and it's awesome. My roommate and I have been eagerly anticipating her first CD (which drops June 17) for weeks.

The video alone for "Ur So Gay" is beyond brilliant (and the song is just giggle-worthy and catchy as hell).

"I Kissed A Girl" is the single that's floating out there in Radioland now and garnering her some attention. It's danceable and fun and poses a scenario that men have been dreaming about since...well, forever.

She also does an absolutely fantastic cover of "Use Your Love" by The Outfield. But I'm going to make you Google it me, it's worth the time you'll spend.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

From the front, it's great...

I'm not a fashion person at all. I just don't have the time or the energy or the net income for such an indulgence.

Pictures like the ones below make me glad I'm not. However, they also teach an important lesson: look things over from ALL possible angles before making a decision. Unfortunately, my friend learned this AFTER getting super excited and realizing that, with gift cards she could buy the below purse for about 35% of retail cost. May you learn from her mistake.

So pretty (and cheap)! looks like a butt.

Friday, May 23, 2008

2010: The All-Star Game comes to Southern California?

Your host for the 2010 All-Star Game

ESPN is reporting that Angel Stadium has been awarded the 2010 All-Star Game.

I've been eagerly waiting for an All-Star game to come back to Southern California since I was a kid. I think it would be one of the absolute coolest things to see in person.

Obviously, I'd rather it be at Dodger Stadium. Unfortunately, MLB tends to show a bias toward newer stadiums or ones that have just undergone massive renovations. Dodger Stadium, though it's been improved and changed many times over the years, still essentially looks the same as it did when it opened. That's one of the things I love most about it, but unfortunately it also means that it tends to get ignored or overlooked when the All-Star committee makes their decision.

However, last month the Dodgers announced extensive, expansive renovation plans for Chavez Ravine. While I'm not a big fan of the plans overall, they do mean that we'll probably be angling for the All-Star game in 2013.

Wait until 2013?

Mark your calendars, Southern Californians. The big show is coming to town.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Cook wins American Idol

David Cook after his win.

David Cook won American Idol.

David Cook also appeared sans pants in a Guitar Hero commercial.

Excuse me for a moment, my brain is broken.


Overcome with emotion. David Cook rocks.

I’m sorry, right now I have no journalistic, equal-opportunity integrity…I am so freakin’ happy right now I almost can’t take it.

Tuesday night’s final performances were amazing. I’m pleased that Simon Cowell apologized to Cook for unfairly putting him through the ringer the night before. While I don’t think he was “disrespectful,” he was definitely overly harsh.

Nice guys, fantastic singers. What a final two.

David Archuleta absolutely blew me away Tuesday night. For the first time all season, Archie went out on that stage and actually looked like he was fighting for that victory, and he was all the better for it. He was full of energy and charisma and the sheer power of his voice left me speechless. He gave three truly stunning performances, and I have no problem admitting that, overall, he came out on top. But just barely.

David Cook’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” was one of the greatest performances I’ve seen all season. It was absolutely gorgeous, powerful with emotion and just a stunning achievement. His second song wasn’t as successful, but I applaud him for challenging himself by taking on a new song for his third and final performance. The night was a lot closer than Simon made it out to be…both of them absolutely blew me away.

Wednesday’s show didn’t seem nearly as padded as I thought it would. Some of my favorite highlights:

- The very end of the embarrassing, extended “Love Guru” sequence, where Mike Myers tried to lather up David Cook and shave off his beard. Cook leans away and a giant glob of shaving cream drops off his face…right into the helpfully waiting hand of David Archuleta, who grabbed it and moved it off camera without missing a beat. Cue Cook and me laughing so hard we almost fall off our chairs. That, coupled with their hilarious exchange at the end of the Top 3 American Idol Extra clip package, screams “amazing comedy duo” to me.

- David Cook’s Guitar Hero commercial. Especially the extended one minute version. Hubba hubba.

Thank you, Idol gods.

- The duet of “The Letter” between Carly Smithson and Michael Johns. It absolutely rocked, and they both sound great together. They also dueted on the Today Show and were equally as awesome.

- David Cook’s goofy dance halfway through his duet of “Sharp Dressed Man” with ZZ Top. I heart him.

- David Archuleta’s duet with One Republic. What a kid and what a voice.

- Bringing out the guy in the cape who sang that made up I Am Your Brother” song in the auditions to sing on stage with the USC Marching Band. It made that guy’s life, and Randy and Paula getting up on stage to goofily dance along sort of made mine. SO WEIRD.

When they finally got down to announcing the winner, Ryan very dramatically stretched it out as long as possible. “The winner of…American Idol…2008…is…David……….Cook!”

*cue me screaming and jumping up-and-down in my living room, then hugging my roommate like I’d just won the lottery. Yes, really.*

Rocker Boy looks blown away. Because he is a classy human being, he defers for a few moments to Archie, who gets a healthy round of applause. Archie handles his second place finish with poise and grace, fading from the stage and into the Top 12 crowd to allow Cook his moment. David Cook, overcome with emotion, breaks down on stage. I’m not going to lie, I teared up myself. What a sweetheart he is. What a moment for him.

America's first look at David Cook. He had me at "Tommy..."

I called it from the beginning, and I’m so happy that I was right. His winning song wasn’t quite as bad as I was expecting. He did a great job signing it at least and managed to hold himself together, surrounded by the Top 12 and supported by Papa Johns, until the very end. It’s impossible to predict what the future hold for him, but I hope it involved Kelly Clarkson-Carrie Underwood levels of success. A rocker finally won American Idol.

This show reeled me in completely. I am amazed (but not surprised) by how big of a fan girl I became. There really isn’t anything quite like American Idol. For all the bad things you can say about it, it’s absolutely mesmerizing. I cannot WAIT until January. I know every subsequent season won’t quite live up to the joy of “my first time,” but I hope it’s another hell of a ride.

Congratulations, David Cook. You deserve every bit of your success. See you on tour, baby (I’ll be the girl trying to sneak by security…)!

"Time of My Life"

Friday, May 16, 2008

Dollhouse at the Upfronts

The NY upfronts were this week. Essentially, it's the place where the media gathers to see and hear all about the fall schedules of all the major networks. They unveil their lineups, show presentations for new shows and roll out their stars for interviews, photos and the like.

On Thursday, Fox unveiled the Dollhouse trailer.

They also released a cast photo:

And a one-minute clip from the pilot episode.

Dollhouse will air Monday nights at 8pm on Fox beginning in January. It is the lead-in for 24.

Here is the show synopsis, as released by Fox.

DOLLHOUSE (Mondays, 8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT): Joss Whedon, creator of groundbreaking cult favorites "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Firefly," returns to television and reunites with fellow "Buffy" alumna Eliza Dushku for a thrilling new drama, DOLLHOUSE. ECHO (Dushku) is an "Active," a member of a highly illegal and underground group who have had their personalities wiped clean so they can be imprinted with any number of new personas. Confined to a secret facility known as the "Dollhouse," Echo and the other Actives including SIERRA (Dichen Lachman, "Neighbours") and VICTOR (Enver Gjokaj, "The Unit") carry out engagements assigned by ADELLE (Olivia Williams, "X-Men: The Last Stand," "Rushmore"), one of the Dollhouse leaders. The engagements cater to the wealthy, powerful and connected, and require the Actives to immerse themselves in all manner of scenarios romantic, criminal, uplifting, dangerous, comical and the occasional "pro bono" good deed. After each scenario, Echo, always under the watchful eye of her handler BOYD (Harry Lennix, "Commander in Chief," 24), returns to the mysterious Dollhouse where her thoughts, feelings and experiences are erased by TOPHER (Fran Kranz, "Welcome to the Captain"), the Dollhouse's genius programmer. Echo enters the next scenario with no memory of before. Or does she? As the series progresses, FBI Agent PAUL SMITH (Tahmoh Penikett, "Battlestar Galactica") pieces together clues that lead him closer to the Dollhouse, while Echo stops forgetting, her memories begin to return and she slowly pieces together her mysterious past. DOLLHOUSE revolves around Echo's blossoming self-awareness and her desire to discover her true identity. But with each new engagement, comes a new memory and increased danger inside and outside the Dollhouse.

PRODUCTION COMPANIES: 20th Century Fox Television, Mutant Enemy Inc.


CAST: Eliza Dushku as Echo, Olivia Williams as Adelle, Tahmoh Penikett as Paul, Fran Kranz as Topher, Dichen Lachman as Sierra, Enver Gjokaj as Victor, Harry Lennix as Boyd

Lastly, an interview with Joss Whedon in the LA Times.


P.S. A very happy birthday to the hottest man in the universe, David Boreanaz!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

American Idol: The David-David Finale

Last woman standing. Good on you, Syesha!

I was almost convinced that Syesha might manage to unseat one of the Davids for a spot in the Top 2. Almost, but not quite. I had to give her the benefit of the doubt, considering that she outlasted Brooke, Carly and Jason despite never completely winning over the judges, the critics or the American public. She was Idol’s version of the little engine that could, outlasting the competition and continuing to climb higher and higher despite having the odds stacked against her.

It helped that, as Randy said, she peaked late in the competition. Whether it was strategy or just the fact that it took her a while to really get comfortable up there (considering she’s an actress/performer, I’m a mite suspicious), Syesha shone brighter and brighter in recent weeks. Of course, that could have been the sequined outfits she recently became so fond of.

Regardless of her improved performances of late, even she didn’t think she had a prayer of breaking up the David-David finale. That was very obvious when the first shot of the show last night showed her without a trace of a smile, looking like she was counting down the 50-odd minutes until her doom in her head.

Her performances Tuesday night didn’t do her any favors, and a lot of it wasn’t her fault. Randy’s choice for her – “If I Ain’t Got You” by Alicia Keys – was both blatantly obvious and uninspired. Syesha rocked it as much as she could; she’s a technically gifted singer with great stage presence. But a song like that didn’t give her much room to make it her own…and indeed, that’s been the root of her problem all season. She’s never really put a personal stamp on anything she’s sung. Even when she lights up the stage, I can’t help feeling that someone else could’ve done exactly the same thing just as well. Gifted but forgettable. That’s Syesha.

I thought her personal choice, “Fever,” was her best of the night, despite the panning from the judges. It was fun and sassy and beautifully sung. Unfortunately, she was forced to end the night on a very sour note. A song from Happy Feet? Could the producers have made it any more obvious that they were setting her up to fail? It irks me a bit that it appears Syesha wasn’t given a 100% fair shot at cracking the Top 2. I don’t think there’s any way she would have regardless, but for the sake of credibility…

Syesha took her elimination with class and grace, and I like her all the more for it. She delivered a powerhouse final performance and kept her head up high; the last remaining bit of Idol cannon fodder.

Will it be David No. 1...

David Archuleta and David Cook are left, as Simon put it, to have a “humdinger” of a battle next week. Despite having the same name, the two couldn’t have followed more different paths on their way to the finals. Archuleta, an immediate crowd favorite, skated through on his adorableness and sheepish puppy demeanor and a voice that is smooth, gorgeous and mature beyond his years. He never met a ballad he didn’t like and earned points for his consistency and mad melisma skills.

...or David No. 2? (You know my vote!)

Cook, on the other hand, was more of a slow burn. A rocker with a soft side, he earned points for being one of the most inventive performers the Idol stage has ever seen. His arrangements, borrowed or original, turned everything from Mariah to Andrew Lloyd Weber on its head…with utterly fantastic results. Neither of them ever saw the Bottom 3, and they’ll face off next week in what I hope will be the closest race Idol has ever seen.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Rauschenberg Remembered

The artist in his heyday.

I am not an art connoisseur by any stretch of the imagination. I don't really find much joy in wandering around museums or sitting and staring at a particularly fascinating piece for an hour or two.

However, I definitely have an appreciation for art. Whenever I travel to another country, I inevitably come back with a local piece or two. I like supporting local artists in Venice and Santa Monica. But that's neither here nor there.

When I joined Academic Decathlon in high school (yes, giant nerd alert) one of the artists we studied was Robert Rauschenberg. Rauschenberg made a name for himself in the pop art movement of the 1950s and 60s by crating "combines" - art that married paint and odd, everyday objects to create modern, three dimensional pieces. Rauschenberg's work got me excited about art for the first time in my life, and researching his pieces opened my eyes a bit to the broader world of pop and modern art.

There's something about his work that just made me happy (indeed, I often told friends that one of my goals in life was to own a Rauschenberg original). That's why I'm so upset to report that Robert Rauschenberg passed away yesterday at the age of 82.

Rather than try to describe what he did, I think it's better to just showcase it. I'm confident that his contributions to the art world will remain long after his passing.

"Monogram": perhaps his most famous piece.

Stop (1963)

Page 42, Paragraph 1 (Short Stories) (2000)

Retroatcive 1 (1964)

Pilgrim (1950)

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Idol's Top 4: Castro comes up short

Recapping Idol this week is tough (and honestly kind of dull) because the Top 3 seems to be a foregone conclusion. Last night, Jason Castro did everything to get himself booted short of saying flat-out, “Please, America, do not vote for me.”

I have no problem with Jason Castro signing Bob Marley. I take issue with certain artists supposedly being “off limits.” Yes, it’s not the best idea to try and sign Mariah or Whitney, but go for it if that’s what you’re feeling…as long as you understand that you will probably hear the phrase “pale imitation” in your critique.

However, Bob Marley was not a diva. His songs are fantastic, loose, spirited, reggae joints that aren’t vocally exclusive. And, c’mon, who better than Jason Castro to sing “I Shot the Sheriff?” Here’s the thing: Castro appeared to actually really dive into the song. He seemed more energetic and engaged with the song and the audience than I’ve seen him in weeks. That in mind, it’s really weird how, despite that, the song just really did not work. The vocals were all over the place; it was almost like he tried a little too much to channel Marley and ended up letting the song get away from him.

I'll miss the Jason Castro face. :-(

I was heartened when he started “Mr. Tambourine Man,” because I dug the laid back, folky vibe he infused it with. His voice sounded stronger and on key. He still seemed comfortable and engaged. I thought he was going to redeem himself in the eyes of the… “and the uh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh….” Oh, Jason. You just shoved that last nail right into your own coffin. Nononononononono. Simon, however blunt, was right. Even though the other three contestants were just “good” last night, I just don’t see any way he’ll avoid being the fourth place finisher.

I love Duran Duran. I love David Cook. How could I not love David Cook singing “Hungry Like the Wolf”? Sure, it was a fairly faithful interpretation (and he was forced to labor under the “this is the rocker’s week so he better be beyond amazing” weight dropped on him last Wednesday night) but he did a very solid job. The song suited his growly power vocals incredibly well, and I’ll confess my heart was all a-twitter when he stalked across the stage, promising “I’m on the hunt, I’m after you.” No, it wasn’t as groundbreaking an arrangement/performance as “Little Sparrow” or “Hello,” but when you’re singing songs that are “in your wheelhouse” can you really expect them to be?

His arrangement of “Baba O’Reilly” was much more inventive. He started the song on a slow build and slowly upped the tempo and the intensity until he gave his signature howl on “They’re all wasted – teenage waste!” However, I think 90 seconds wasn’t quite enough to give the song the proper slow build and crescendo that it needed to be truly fantastic. Still, Cook continues to be the most solid, creative performer on the Idol stage and he bounced back admirably from the criticism he received for his first song. To me, he’s still the one to beat.

I’ve stopped being impressed by the fact that David Archuleta is a precious, precocious 17-year-old moppet with an “aw shucks” demeanor and a beautiful voice that seems like it should come from a seasoned 40-year-old performer. Still, during an uneven night his “Stand By Me” and “Love Me Tender” were enough to easily make him the strongest overall performer of the night. I think the judges are almost always too quick to heap praise on Archie’s head, and that held true tonight.

Best of the night, no doubt.

His “Stand By Me” was gorgeous…and completely predictable. Archie is still too full of melisma for me, but he hit every single note with a seemingly effortless purity and grace. Best performance of the night. I wasn’t as big of a fan of his “Love Me Tender,” but that’s possibly because I have a very special place in my heart for that Elvis classic. There’s a depth and complexity Elvis brings to the ballad that a kid like Archie just couldn’t convey…his delivery fell a bit flat for me (and so did his two high notes at the end).

I wish Syesha Mercado would stop singing songs that were not only iconic, but have been covered by countless Idol wannabes of years past. She brought great energy and spirit to “Proud Mary,” but I don’t think she quite has the gravitas in her voice to pull off the Motown power hit. I was waiting for her to kick the song into high gear and it always fell just a bit short for me. Still, she’s come to life over the past couple weeks and I give her a lot of credit for persevering and continuing to improve late in the competition.

I found her version of Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come” beautiful but forgettable. I’ve said many times that I just can’t quite figure Syesha out, and I’m going to have to stop trying…it’s never gonna happen. She’ll make the Top 3 and, barring an amazing upset, bow out gracefully (having gone much further than anyone expected) for the all-David finale.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Dodger Stadium: The Next 50 Years

A little more than a week ago, the Dodgers unveiled a plan for “The next 50 years” of Dodger Stadium. I’ve taken that much time to process my thoughts on the changes and “improvements” proposed over the next handful of years.

I consider myself a purist when it comes to ballparks. A ballpark needs to have an atmosphere, a history, a beautiful simplicity that invites people to sit down with friends and family on a Sunday afternoon and watch a game. No frills are necessary, nor should they be required. All you need is your seat, the field in front of you and possibly a hot dog.

Artist rendering of the "new and improved" Dodger Stadium

I don’t need a cascading fountain in centerfield with flumes of water that shoot up when someone hits a home run. I don’t need a giant slide in left center that the mascot uses as part of his shtick. I don’t need a friggin’ pool in right center that people can rent out and watch the game from. In fact, add-ons like that only detract from the baseball experience. Things like that are unnecessary and silly and, in my opinion, suck the soul out of a stadium. For that reason, I dislike most of the newer ballparks. Give me the simple majesty of a Fenway Park or Dodger Stadium or even (god forbid) Yankee Stadium any day. Walking into one of those stadiums just has an inexplicably different feel – it’s just amazing.

That said, imagine my trepidation to learn that the Dodgers were planning tons of “upgrades” and “improvements” to my favorite place in the world. After looking over the plans put forth by owner Frank McCourt…I’m pretty worried. I’m afraid that these changes will alter the soul of the stadium in a way it can never recover from.

Pulled directly from the Dodgers website, here are three main changes that McCourt and company plan to implement:

Dodger Way - A dramatic, new tree-lined entrance will lead to a beautifully landscaped grand plaza where fans can gather beyond center field. The plaza will connect to a modern, bustling promenade that features restaurants, shops and the Dodger Experience museum showcasing the history of the Dodgers in an interactive setting.

The new main entrance - can you even SEE the stadium?

Green Necklace - The vibrant street setting of Dodger Way links to a beautiful perimeter around Dodger Stadium, enabling fans to walk around the park, outdoors yet inside the stadium gates. This Green Necklace will transform acres of parking lots into a landscaped outdoor walkway connecting the plaza and promenade to the rest of the ballpark.

Top of the Park - The Green Necklace connects to a large scale outdoor plaza featuring breathtaking 360 degree views spanning the downtown skyline and Santa Monica Bay, the Santa Monica and San Gabriel Mountains, and the Dodger Stadium diamond.

The way the website describes the changes, it seems like they’re trying to turn it into a vacation destination or a shopping mall that just happens to have a baseball stadium in the middle of it. It seems less about baseball and more about how much money they can squeeze out of the internationally-recognized organization (that “LA” logo has long since ceased to just stand for a baseball team). I fear that by building out and up, they’ll suffocate the life out of one of the most beautiful parks in all of baseball. I think it would kill my soul to see the Dodger Stadium I know now disappear under glitz and shops and stores and frankly, corporate bullshit.

Buy, buy, buy. Oh, and there's also a game happening somewhere.

I’m all for making a stadium more eco-friendly and improving things like restrooms, food facilities, the parking situation and improved office space for employees and media (all also part of the future plans). But when baseball stadiums become more about what you can DO as opposed to what you’re going to SEE and experience…there’s a problem. I’ve watched it happen to other teams with a wrinkled nose and sense of disdain.

Call me a snob, paranoid or archaic…I don’t care. I go to a baseball game for the baseball and the atmosphere, period. I love that stadium more than words can express, and if it turned into something unrecognizable and corporate and fake…I think it would kill my soul a little. Just play baseball, guys. That’s all we need. I fear for the next 50 years of Dodger baseball, frankly.

Friday, May 2, 2008

RIP Buzzie Bavasi

Yesterday marked the passing of great Dodger General Manager Buzzie Bavasi, who led the Dodgers to four of their six World Championships, including their only one in Brooklyn. He was 93.

Buzzie worked as an executive in the Dodgers’ minor league system in the 1940s, helping Branch Rickey guide and integrate players like Jackie Robinson, Don Newcombe and Roy Campenella into the major leagues. Bavasi was also instrumental in creating the now-legendary Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida.

In 1950, the Dodgers promoted him to GM, a position he held until the close of the 1968 season. During his tenure, the Dodgers beat the powerhouse Yankees to capture their first World Series title. Following their move to Los Angeles, Buzzie crafted the teams that won three other Series – in 1959, 1963 and 1965 – and eight National League pennants.

One of Bavasi’s sons, Bill, is now the General Manager of the Seattle Mariners.

By all accounts (see the official press release here and ESPN’s take here) Bavasi was a true baseball man with countless admirers. He leaves behind a legacy virtually unmatched by anyone else in the game, and he will be missed.

*sigh* I’m hoping the 50th anniversary year of the Dodgers doesn’t end up marked by too many more of these…

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Texting your way to love

If you're in your 20s and this doesn't look and sound very familiar to you, then you probably live in a hole.

Absolutely spot-on hysterical.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Idol's Top 6: Syesha breaks out, Brooke breaks down

Andrew Lloyd Webber, you are a cheeky bastard. I kind of want to write this whole review around you. But I won’t, because no one would read it. They want to hear about how Syesha blew the roof off the place last night, Brooke continued her televised mental breakdown and David Cook almost moved me to tears.

I will say that ALW was by far the best mentor of the year. He didn’t coddle the contestants or blindly give them oodles of praise. He offered constructive advice and criticism, even suggesting (rightly) that Carly pick a different song. The best part, of course, was his thinly-veiled flirting with David Cook. Watching Rocker Boy blush and go “Well, I’m 25, so…” when ALW told him to sing to him like he was the most gorgeous 17-year-old girl in the world made me laugh until my sides hurt. ALW, good on you. Though last night proved to be rather polarizing and bewildering as a whole, you were absolutely fabulous, dahling.

Anyway, Syesha Mercado is up first, singing “One Rock and Roll too Many” from Starlight Express, a musical I have never seen or heard, though I’m told it’s about trains who come to life and fall in love. Also there are people on roller skates. I wish I were making this up. I have a sneaking suspicion ALW may have been going through a Sgt. Pepper period while conceiving and writing this. Just a thought.

Her performance was sexy, confident and absolutely crackling with energy and attitude. Syesha’s stance that she is an “actress-singer” was tested tonight, and man did she deliver. Musicals require a big voice and an even bigger stage presence. You have to act and emote with your entire body to a level that would be considered ridiculous on television or film. Syesha has always had attitude and personality to spare, but never in a good way. Last night, she found the perfect conduit for it. I was lounging on my couch in my pajamas at the end of a ridiculously long day, and I had to stop myself from giving her a standing ovation in my living room. The fact that the judges didn’t praise her like she was the second coming was a huge head-scratcher (of course, as the night went on that became a trend…ignoring the mistakes of the favorites and being far too harsh on the unchosen few).

Broadway star potential: realized

Poor Jason Castro was at a huge disadvantage from the get go this week. He and Brooke do not have the “big voices” required to sing Broadway numbers. So, I knew I wasn’t going to get soaring power notes and big runs and huge chest voice out of Jason’s version of “Memory.” I give him a lot of credit for deciding that the best way to go was to keep the emotion and power of the song but tone down the theatrics of it to make it something that suited his style. Unfortunately, his style is pretty much the anti-Broadway, which is perhaps why it was received so poorly by the judges. It didn’t fit the night, but it definitely fit him, and I think that’s more important. I felt like Jason connected to the emotion of the song very well and conveyed it in his voice and delivery. It was good, but it wasn’t great and it definitely wasn’t Broadway, which is probably why he’ll end up in the bottom three tonight.

Brooke White's tendency to warble a bit here and there during most of her songs is a part of why I could never fully jump on her bandwagon (that and the fact that she’s what I would become if my nightmares came true). Week by week, as she slowly breaks down before our very eyes on national television, the warbling has gotten worse. Last night, she sounded like she was gargling through “You Must Love Me.”

Of course, all of that came after she messed up the lyrics, stopped the band and then made them start over. I’m pretty sure my jaw hung open for about five minutes after that. The reboot obviously rattled her (but then again, what doesn’t these days? I’m pretty sure she’s the kind of person who leaps ten feet in the air and trembles when someone says “Hello.”). Her performance was a huge mess, warbly and uncomfortable and nervous and off kilter. The judges, obviously sensing that she’d break into a million pieces live on the air if someone said too harsh a word, were way too kind in their critique. Huge props to Paula for calling her out on starting over, though she’s Paula so it was said in the sweetest way possible. Simon patting her on the head by agreeing that he would’ve done the same thing in her position just meant my jaw hung open even longer.

Say bye bye to Brooke, America.

David Archuleta forgot the lyrics again, something I didn’t notice until my second viewing this morning on YouTube. Know why I didn’t notice? Because the camera conveniently cut away from his face the second he “went up” on his lines. Once is bad enough, Archie, but twice? And from a kid who has been performing since he could hold a microphone in his tiny toddler hands? Absolutely inexcusable. Look, props to him for taking a grand musical number sung by a girl (and a first soprano at that) and turning it into a crooning, adult contemporary song. We all know the kid can sing, and sing incredibly well, but I remain unconvinced that he should wear the idol crown…though the judges and producers obviously feel differently. Archie was given the lofty praise that should’ve been directed at Syesha, and the fact that not one judge called him out on his flub? Huge thumbs down.

Carly Smithson came back to life during last night’s performance of “Jesus Christ Superstar.” After weeks of looking uncomfortable and dour and tense, Carly let loose and put on a rousing, rocking show. As Simon said, she got a tad too shouty and borderline shrill on a few notes, but overall she was fantastic and reminded me why I picked her as one of my Idol frontrunners way back in Hollywood Week. Also, I want the shirt she had made.

This is what my brain did as soon as David Cook started singing and fixed those sultry eyes on me: G&^%&$R%Y$%^@!!!!! I was a little concerned with his song selection, but damn if he didn’t pull it off again. ALW said it was his most sensual, sexy song and I agree…if it’s sung well. Not only do you need to have the big, broad voice to pull this off…you really have to be able to just pour emotion into it. His “Music of the Night” nearly moved me to tears, and I’m definitely not the type.

I see you looking at me with those eyes...

I’m really glad he didn’t “rock it out” (with the exception of that last glory note). He’s already proved that he can rock, but this week he expand his range even further, showing that he can deliver a beautiful, soaring ballad with the same level of competency and success.

Bottom three is getting nearly impossible to predict this late in the competition, but I’m going to go Brooke, Jason and Carly…though I think it should be Archie instead of Carly.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The 1st 6th Annual Grilled Cheese Invitational

On Saturday, I was one of the lucky few to attend the 1st 6th Annual Grilled Cheese Invitational in Griffith Park. The whole event was just this side of utterly ridiculous…which is naturally why I loved every second of it.

Cheese. It brings the smiles.

140 different teams of grillers competed in four different categories that ranged from basic (only white bread, yellow cheese and butter allowed) to the slightly absurd (dessert grilled cheese sandwiches). A dozen folding tables surrounded the cooking area, where excited competitors doled out their creations to an eager, raucous crowd of judges. Everyone who ate was asked to submit a ballot that ranked the sandwich on taste, presentation and creativity.

I honestly had no idea there were that many ways to make a grilled cheese sandwich. There are very few foods that I love more than cheese, so Saturday was akin to a little slice of heaven. I had tiny finger grilled cheese sandwiches with Tillamook, muenster cheese on jalapeƱo cheese bread, and an unparalleled concoction that consisted of one slice white cheese, one slice yellow and a spread able cheese (I believe it was ricotta) on top.

An event like this brings out the, er, enthusiastic and the LA crazies. There was a guy wearing the bottom half of a bear costume, another in bright green furry boots, giant cheese necklaces, a woman in a wedding dress with cheese angel wings…you get my point. The free eats were only slightly more awesome than the people-watching I got done. I was hoping to find out who won before posting this, but sadly the results aren’t up yet. All in all, it was an incredibly random experience that I have to give a hearty two thumbs up.

I did not see this woman. I did see many of her kindred spirits, however.

I’m taking requests now to join me there next year. You know you want to come…

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Friday Whedonverse Roundup

Two pieces of news caught my eye at the end of yesterday, thanks to the lovely people at Whedonesque.

Alan Tudyk, of Firefly fame, was cast as one of the leads in the new Kohan/Mutchnik (Will & Grace) pilot for ABC. The show is about two men - one straight, one gay (Tudyk) - who are business partners and best friends.

Tudyk as Firefly's Wash.

Tudyk is a great character actor and tends to shine playing semi-ridiculous characters in comedies (A Knight's Tale, Dodgeball, 28 Days). For a kid from Texas he also, inexplicably, is often asked to be British (A Knight's Tale, Death at a Funeral). He's great fun to watch and I'm crossing my fingers that the show gets picked up so I can watch him be front-and-center for once. He deserves it.


Joss Whedon announced three new additions to his Dollhouse last week, and one's a very familiar face.

Harry Lennix (Across the Universe) has been cast as Echo's (Eliza Dushku) bodyguard, a former cop. Newcomer Miracle Laurie will play November, a recurring character who does not appear in the pilot.

Joining Dushku in the "second go-around with Joss" category is Angel's Amy Acker, who was just cast as Dr. Claire Saunders. Acker was, in my opinion, the weakest link in the Angel cast. I never particularly cared for her as an actress, and she only became mildly interesting after morphing into Illyria. However, I have endless trust in Whedon and his ability to put together a top notch cast, so I'll keep mostly quite on this front.

I'm ready to be dazzled, Amy.

The first Dollhouse table read was yesterday, which mean the pilot should start shooting in the next couple weeks.

Kristin from E! has more specific pilot details for those that are interested.

I'm getting so excited for Dollhouse that I can hardly contain myself.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Idol Elimination: KLC, I'll Actually Miss You

Have fun in Nashville, KLC.

I have to admit, my respect for Kristy Lee Cook shot up exponentially watching her last night. She was definitely well past her Idol expiration date, but I really don’t think she deserved to go home based on her performance during Mariah Week. Of course, at this point may people are voting for their favorite regardless (or for the body of work as opposed to the most recent week alone). On the other hand, humans tend to have pretty short memories…so her elimination was a bit of a puzzler for me.

She was the weakest performer left with zero shot of taking it all, but since her massacring of “Eight Days A Week,” KLC’s performances steadily improved, to the point that I really enjoyed Tuesday night’s country-tinged “Forever.” She won me over the point that I hoped incredibly hard that Brooke White would be the one going home. Her “Hero” was painful to watch, and she appears to be creeping ever closer to a breakdown with every passing week. It was cute when Brooke defended KLC to Simon, but once Ryan sent Syesha Mercado to safety, it was pretty obvious who was a goner. Little Miss Vanilla hasn’t worn out her welcome…yet.

Even though it was pretty clear Carly Smithson wasn’t in the bottom three, I wished America could magically change her mind as I watched her chastise Simon for being to hard on her and then desperately beckon David Archuleta over to her side of the stage like he was a puppy (which, okay…). Desperation is not an attractive look. In fact, I think the stink of it has clouded my mind the past few weeks. A second listen to “Without You” revealed it to be not nearly as bad as I thought. In fact, it was pretty good. I just couldn't hear it over the part of her that was screaming, "LIKE ME! GOOD GOD, PLEASE LIKE ME!"

I didn’t believe for a second that either Jason Castro or David Cook were in the bottom three, so I was a bit confused when Ryan started pulling the “you stand to my right, you stand to my left” bit. I think this week’s reveal was the silliest, most ridiculous thing I’ve seen on Idol yet…and I’ve seen some pretty odd things (people in capes, scary laughter, pratfalls, “Eight Days A Week” as a country song, etc.). Casting David Archuleta as the “deciding vote” topped it, though. Of course he immediately plopped down in the middle of the stage with an “aw, shucks guys” chuckle and shrug. He’s not stupid and he’s David Archuleta for the love of pete. You actually expected him to make a decision without his daddy present?

KLC really won me over, however, with her sing off. Perched atop the judges’ desk right in front of Simon, she unabashedly sang the first verse directly into his obviously uncomfortable face. I actually hooted with laughter. Add that to the fact that she spun around and walked away right after delivering the tweaked line, “'Still I burn on and on/ All of my life/ Only for a good comment from you” and it was absolute perfection. I kind of fell in love with her right there.

Respect, Kristy Lee. Respect.

In the end, it was time for Kristy Lee to go, I know. I just didn’t realize until she actually got the boot how much her self-deprecating sense of humor (“Kristy’s seat,” anyone?) and ability to keep her head up high despite the waves of dislike that were thrown at her every week actually earned her a lot of my respect, in the end. I wish her well post-Idol and look forward to what she brings to the tour this summer.

Andrew Lloyd Weber week is up next…and again I am worried. Not about what Archie will sing (c’mon, it’s totally “Any Dream Will Do”) but about what the heck my Rocker Boy is gonna sing. Then again, I worried about Mariah Week, and we know how that turned out.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Idol's Top 7: Long Live the Divas!

I went into Mariah week fearing for the three remaining men in the Idol race. Mariah Carey is pretty much the epitome of the power-voiced pop diva. Her vocal range stretches eight octaves, and her astonishing ability to hit power notes and pull off ridiculous runs is second-to-none. Moreover, she infuses that strange and wonderful power into almost every single one of her songs. Restraint is not in the Carey repertoire (that is not a dig, I grew up on Mariah and I have mad respect for her as a vocalist).

Seriously, though: why is everyone leaning?

In a season where no one has really stood out as a diva-in-training (though Syesha has struggled valiantly to wedge herself into that category), it seemed a bit ill-fitting to have Mariah Carey mentor the Idols in general, male or female. At the beginning of the show, Simon pointed out that the women might actually be in for a tougher time because they would have to endure the direct comparison to the woman herself (and, this was unspoken, but it was there: “from what I’ve seen of the remaining women, no one will come close to living up to the Mariah standard”).

As usual, Simon turned out to be right (you smug bastard). While this was a good week overall for the finalists – indeed, for the first time I can remember, no one was downright bad – the men shone.

Raise your hand if you are surprised that, out of every single song in Mariah’s songbook, David Archuleta picked a message song with the Bible in it. Anyone? No? Didn’t think so. Here’s the thing: painful falsetto aside, he sang it very well. I was able to discern that much despite being incredibly distracted by the fact that he (or Papa Archuleta, who knows at this point) decided to don leather pants. If there’s one thing we know Archie can do, it’s runs. Of all three guys left, he was the most well-equipped out of the gate to tackle Mariah, and he delivered. Still, I continue to be under whelmed and slightly bored.

Just because I couldn't find a picture of the leather pants.

I got incredibly worried after I read the TMZ leak that reported David Cook would be singing “Always Be My Baby.” It is the epitome of the syrupy sweet pop song and the idea of Rocker Boy singing it made about as much sense as a hooker at the opera (sorry, Julia Roberts). But, once again, he showed just how good he is at choosing songs and arranging them (or finding existing arrangements) to suit his own personal style. His version was a slowed-down, slightly emo take that exploded at the end with his trademark power rock and roll howl. Other than one or two minor note problems, he was absolutely fantastic. The performance of the night, made extra touching by the fact that he was brought to tears singing for his cancer-stricken brother, who was in the audience.

The power note face: now familiar to millions.

Jason Castro came in a very close second with his bongo-backed, coffeehouse take on “I Don’t Wanna Cry.” He managed to actually hit his falsetto notes while completely reinventing the song. I almost don’t even know what to say about it, except that after he finished all I said was “YES.” Yes, Jason Castro, I am back on your bandwagon. Yes, I still think you have a bit of a problem connecting to what you’re singing, but you’re so adorably goofy and your voice is so easy to listen to that I forgive you. Bravo.

Even though the women sang well, I’m betting on an all-female bottom three yet again…and I shocked myself when I realized that Kristy Lee Cook probably wouldn’t be one of them.

I actually really liked Kristy Lee’s version of “Forever.” It wasn’t particularly groundbreaking in any way (apart from the minor country twang she infused through it) but her voice was surprisingly strong and tuneful and those power notes were winners. She was good, plain and simple, and her performance earns her the right to stick around another week…and this time not just because of her crafty song choice.

Given her attempts in recent weeks to prove how much of a diva she was by tackling the Whitey/Mariah/Celine oeuvre, this week appeared to be tailor-made for Syesha Mercado. Surprisingly, she chose a lesser-known Mariah song, “Vanishing,” and she sang it well. As Simon said, technically she was very, very good: on pitch, strong, clear, gorgeous. I think what has thus far stopped Syesha from breaking out completely (because I think she and Archie have the best, purest voices left in the competition) is Syesha herself. There’s still something just…off-putting and strange about her that prevents me from connecting to her as a listener. It’s what will ultimately prevent her from winning as well.

I say "WIN" for Syesha.

Carly Smithson, what is your deal? Actually, I honestly don’t care anymore. I love your voice and you were one of my favorites at the beginning of the competition. But after a series of uncomfortable, slightly angry and tense performances…I just don’t know what to do with you. If you don’t look like you’re having fun, no one else will be either. Your “Without You” was good, though you wavered a bit on a few of the longer notes you were holding. But you’ve devolved into kind of a hot mess and it’s so disappointing, because you’re so much better than that. If you survive the week, you’ll be lucky.

Brooke White looked like she was performing on the train tracks, watching a giant locomotive race closer and closer and desperately trying to figure out how to finish “Hero” before she died. Seriously, re-watching her performance you can see (and hear) her get more and more panicked as the song went on. I’m not sure what the cause of her troubles were, exactly, but she fumbled on piano, which made her sing faster and throw her off beat with the music, which made her play faster, which started this vicious circle of badness that just kept getting funnier (if we’re being totally honest). The whole thing was pretty much a mess, and if I were her I’d be worried tonight.

Mariah herself was a decent mentor, if a bit self-indulgent. I appreciate that she actually offered suggestions instead of just lavishing praise…and she did seem genuinely intrigued/flattered by the different perspectives the Idols brought to her songs. Overall, Mariah Week was a success across the board…and I don’t think anyone is more surprised about that than I am.