Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Worst of the Worst: #5, National Lampoon's Gold Diggers

I seem to remember National Lampoon magazine as being that dirty magazine that, as kids, we'd look at in the library for a laugh. Don't know if it was actually funny. National Lampoon did present Animal House and the Vacation series, but what happened? Apparently, the company got re-formed around eight years ago to produce their own entertainment and it's been miserable. Supposedly their website is funny, but I follow their sports jokes on Twitter and they are horribly unfunny. In fact, I'm now going to unfollow them because of this piece of s*** movie. I don't know that this was ever a great brand name, but it now stands for garbage.

The older brother from Boy Meets World and the Sherminator from American Pie (how's that for pedigree?) star as two loser friends who decide to marry two older women in order to steal their money. The older women don't actually have any money and marry the two younger men to take out insurance and kill them. What follows is such an incredible menagerie of failed gags that, by the end, I alternated between counting the minutes until the movie was over (out loud) and slamming the remote against the couch in frustration. I'm not joking; I did both those things. Garbage.

Somehow, this movie opened on 1,000 screens back in 2004 and it made around $400,000 in its first weekend and an additional $120,000 in its second and final weekend. $400 per screen. The average movie ticket price in 2004 was $6.21, so that works out to 64 people per screen. I don't know how this didn't go direct to DVD. I don't know how this didn't go direct to the toilet. One critic on Rotten Tomatoes said, "If you watch this movie, you are an idiot." Guilty.

Idol Chatter

One day of Passover, arguably the most important Jewish holiday, in the books but now it's time to once again be enslaved to American Idol's suckiness. If only one of them sang on key, dayenu:
  • Siobhan Magnus, singing Chaka Khan's "Through the Fire": When someone brings her pancakes, she just sips the syzurp. Uncharacteristically rough beginning from one of the favorites. Sleepy, and then it got worse... This was really freaking awful. I wish her mouth had been wired shut for this. This is a bad portent for the night. Ten not-so-great singers, ten plagues. Sounds like fate! Siobhan is the plague of cattle disease, because I can only imagine that a cow's pain-driven screams sound about as good as tonight's screeches.
  • Casey James, singing Sam and Dave's "Hold On, I'm Comin'": Way too smiley. He still has too much vibrato. I can't quite tell if I like him or not. He can play the guitar play well, but he doesn't really ever challenge his voice at all. I feel like he yells the songs. Just hard to take him seriously when he smiles as much as he did tonight. He played with his hair a bit tonight and earned himself the plague of lice.
  • Michael.Lynche, singing India.Arie's "Ready for Love": Solid, but boring. Par for the course for Big Mike. It was fine. I'll give him the plague of darkness, because I was unable to see once my eyelids locked shut halfway through the song.
  • Didi Benami, singing Jimmy Ruffin's "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted": She looked kind of rough in the Usher part, even before she started crying. She has as much soul as the cast of Night of the Living Dead. Her voice is okay, but this was really Broadway. Her phrasing was awful and for a song that is apparently so emotional, it sounded pretty fake. Ryan tried to make her cry, which was obnoxious, but the tears came falling, just like the plague of hail.
  • Tim Urban, singing Anita Baker's "Sweet Love": I'm concerned that he's not going to do well by such a melodic song. Okay, to be fair, he wouldn't do well by "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star." Here's a tip-off: when the singer is off-key in the rehearsal video, you're in for a disaster. Not only did he struggle with key, as usual, but this is the guy with the least soul of any of the contestants. A list of people with more soul include Rasputin, the skeleton in an anatomy classroom, and Didi Benami. He's the plague of frogs, because his Idol career has croaked. Yep, I did that.
  • Between the interviews, the time-killing, and then Ryan being obliquely racist, I'm having a major problem with tonight's episode.
  • Andrew Garcia, singing Chris Brown's "Forever": I'm done with him. Sure, he was a little better than usual, but I'm still done. I expected him to beat up this song, but he didn't really abuse it at all. So often this year, he's given his performances a black eye to the point that I thought he should be arrested for domestic violence against music, but this week wasn't as bad. Still done with him. The plague of flies, because his music is just so much insignificant buzzing to my ears at this point.
  • Katie Stevens, singing Aretha Franklin's "Chain of Fools": One would think that Katie Stevens singing an Aretha Franklin song would be a really, really bad idea. One would be right. My wife notes that Katie was channeling Katherine McPhee a little bit and I totally agree. I was never a big McPhee fan (though she acted surprisingly well on Community a few weeks ago), but her voice was better than Katie's here. Just too much song for her. It wasn't as bad as it could have been, but it was just not a good song choice. I'll say the plague of blood, because my blood ran cold when I saw she was going to be doing this song.
  • Lee DeWyze, singing the Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose's "Treat Her Like a Lady": I said last week that I kind of liked Lee and I thought this was the best performance of the night. Not the kind of thing that wins this show, but very enjoyable. He did a song that nobody had ever heard before, which was a huge plus. I'm going to give him the plague of boils, because this was hot! That made no sense.
  • Crystal Bowersox, singing Gladys Knight and the Pips' "Midnight Train to Georgia": I made the mistake of watching a clip of Gladys Knight singing this just a few minutes ago and there's no chance that Crystal can live up to that. I always think, when watching this show, that you have to take into account how these performances stack up (or often don't) to the original recordings. But, but! She may have even a better voice than I thought she did. A big change-up for her and it totally worked. As far as I'm concerned, this whole thing remains hers to lose. She's swarming these fools like a pack of locusts, so I'll give her that one. (I was going to give her "lice" originally, but her hair actually looked relatively nice.)
  • Aaron Kelly, singing Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine": Aaron's voice is big enough for this song, right? Right? Just another song that needs considerably more feeling than the young MPM is capable of providing. Singing a soul song with a hoodie and a Bob's Big Boy haircut. Out of control, rough phrasing, missing the key left and right. He's killing the show. He's the angel of death of the show. The last contestant gets the final plague, that of the firstborn (since I'm firstborn and I cannot stand him).

Lost Comments/ Questions:

  • As one would expect, it was a setup episode after last week's was so meaty.
  • I especially like it wheV
  • You know, the part when SuV
  • So, yeah, it was pretty grV

Monday, March 29, 2010


Couple of things besides the Final Four being complete, Duke screwing me out of a good amount of money, and it being set up next weekend with three good guys and a bad guy.

Went yesterday to go see Hot Tub Time Machine. It was a little awkward at the box office to ask for the movie by name, especially when the guy (supposedly) didn't hear me the first time I said it. Anyway, I got the tickets, sat down with raised expectations because of good reviews, and... I freaking loved it. It is laugh-out-loud funny almost throughout the entire movie. I looked up Rob Corddry's resume on IMDB and saw that the only big movie role he had ever really had was in Harold and Kumar Escape Guantanamo Bay. Surprising, because he absolutely steals this movie. Everyone in it is funny, but he's the funniest. It may not be funnier than The Hangover, but it may be in that conversation and it definitely has funnier single lines. On top of that, it has a Back to the Future spoof in one scene that had me rolling. You want a good old profane R-rated movie with sex and sex jokes and people getting drunk until they puke? Go see it. Added bonus: Billy Zabka has a small role!

During halftime of one of the games today, I was searching through On Demand and came across a collection of some songs from VH1's Storytellers. I watched the performance of the Foo Fighters' "Big Me", which I highly recommend because it includes a well-told and very, very funny story. I watched a couple of other ones and for "This Is a Call," Dave Grohl talks about how it was his first single and how, when he cut it, he could never have imagined talking about it fifteen years later. The Foo Fighters have been around for fifteen years! Which brought me to this question: Could one consider the Foo Fighters a greater band than Nirvana? On one hand, Nirvana is known for their influence in making grunge music popular. On the other hand, the Foo Fighters have been around for much longer and have had many more hits. Sure, Cobain is considered a genius, but is that only because he's dead? I think I come down on the side of Nirvana, but it's not cut-and-dry and that's not something we could have foreseen fifteen years ago.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Final Half

Kansas going out wrecked everyone's bracket, but the craziness continued as all of the 1-seeds besides Duke are now gone (and Duke may very well lose tomorrow). My biggest Cinderella team, Butler, has now made it to the Final Four. Those games, next weekend, are being played in Indianapolis and the host school is, er, Butler. Think they may have chance to win it all in front of a raucous home crowd?

In the other game of the night, West Virginia advanced to the Final Four even though they had zero two-point field goals in the first half. Zero. I didn't believe in Kentucky because I didn't think they shot well enough from outside and I was positive that their lack of experience would show up. Sure enough, they missed their first twenty three-point shots and they exhibited a dearth of mental toughness. John Wall ends his brief college career by being outplayed by a guy who wasn't even starting two games ago.

Even with my brackets wrecked last week, I still have a chance to come out on top. It looks like if Baylor can win tomorrow and anyone but WVU wins the champsionship, I could win all of my pools and be in line for a nice payday. Which means that Duke is going to screw it up for me, as usual.

Worst of the Worst: #77, Date Movie

This was the last of the ____ Movie franchise that I have to watch. Thank God. I think it was the worst one, if it's possible to differentiate between varieties of shit.

Friday, March 26, 2010


I didn't post last night because the basketball ended so late. Nothing I could write would be as interesting as if you just went and found highlights of Butler's win over Syracuse (remember how high I've been on Butler all year) and the Xavier-Kansas State game, which was one of the great tournament games ever. Think clutch shooting, impossible 3-point shots, two overtimes, and the great Gus Johnson calling it all. Tonight, my two other favorite mid-majors go and both Northern Iowa and St. Mary's have real shots at going to the Final Four. The best NCAA tourney in recent memory rolls on.

Also, today starts two straight weeks without work, so I'm going to try to make a serious dent in the "Worst of the Worst" list. Any ideas, beside the cherry blossoms, on what to do for two weeks?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

El Tiene Demencia De Espacio

  • The Monologue:
    • An island in the Bay of Bengal just disappeared. It was located at 4815 degrees south, 162342 degrees east.
    • Justin Bieber's (who I seriously wouldn't have ever heard of if he wasn't one of the perpetual "trending topics" on Twitter) manager got arrested. Thank God; now it's time to go after Miley Cyrus' and Demi Lovato's.
    • Singer Akon had to postpone a concert in Sri Lanka after his music video was deemed offensive to Buddhists. This comes on the tails of a controversy last year when he gave tax advice to a pimp and prostitute.
  • Random Pop Culture:
    • Paige Miles went home. Yawn. The big thing on the Idol results show was the horrible performances. Tonight marks the second time that I've watched the crappy group song and the second time that they've used autotune in said song. I know they're bad, but really? And Demi Lovato could actually use the help; she was really off-key in her duet with the Brother Jonas (I only watched like ten seconds of it though).
    • Another great Survivor episode, but this one included a truly bone-headed move. Boston Rob set up Russell, Russell saw through it, Boston Rob anticipated Russell's move and set up the perfect strategy. And Tyson screwed it all up by trusting Russell for no apparent reason. At least it only cost him his game and not anybody else's.
    • No more picks, but I don't see why Northern Iowa can't make the Final Four. I may actually think they're the best team left in that bracket.
  • Random Movie Scene:
    • I just can not get enough of it. Humor me.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Idol Chatter

I seriously considered skipping Idol this week because the guest mentor was Miley Cyrus. Unless she's mentoring people on how to be 17 and date a 37-year-old, I don't know what she has to add. But my need to mock outweighs my need to not be miserable and I need to watch to make sure that Miley doesn't escape the bottle. Getting my shows mixed up. Here's Idol, Lost comes later:
  • Lee DeWyze, singing The Box Tops' "The Letter": This is up there with "House of the Rising Sun" as one of my favorite songs of all time. I don't like the hip take on it and I feel like the tempo was getting out of control at times. Lee's voice is good, though. Too cool, not passionate enough. An okay start for the show. At this point, there are only two contestants I actually care about (Crystal and Siobhan), but Lee's near the top of the rest.
  • Paige Miles, singing Phil Collins' "Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)": Could Miley wear shorter outfits? Dude, Paige is awful. If I was facing a Stephen Strasburg curveball, I'd be more on pitch than she was tonight. I'm going to ignore how bad Paige has been all along and blame it entirely on the mentor. You take this round, Cyrus. Miley, 1; good music, 0. This girl is going home tomorrow night.
  • Tim Urban, singing Queen's "Crazy Little Thing Called Love": I think Miley smokes. She kind of has that raspy voice. She really does creep me out because she carries herself as so old. Tim Urban isn't boring at all. He has great rhythm and soul. When sings, I just want to get off the sofa and dance. What? April Fool's Day isn't until next week? Sorry, guess I was early. I know mummies with more soul than him. He makes me want to listen to Miley's music, which, to his credit, is quite a feat.
  • On a side note, it makes me like Kara a lot more when all of the kids boo her. Also, Simon is so back tonight: "I can understand why you did the slide because it distracted from the song."
  • Aaron Kelly, singing Aerosmith's "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing": Who else is excited to hear this guy sing this song? Good times. Aaron Kelly, the worst Aerosmith song ever, and Miley Cyrus. It's a recipe for fantasticness! I just realized that beyond being Brunette Ellen, Aaron also looks like Midget Peyton Manning. Not as awful as the last two, but just as sappy and unlistenable as I expected. I suppose MPM didn't disappoint, but he did give me... SPACE DEMENTIA!
  • I'm freaking in tears having watched that video. So freaking funny. I'm giggling. I watched that three times.
  • Crystal Bowersox, singing Janis Joplin's "Me and Bobby McGee": Finally! We've come through the wilderness to hear the best do a song that's perfect for her. Also, we got an answer to the question of what could Miley possibly say to Crystal. It seems like the answer was a predictable "nothing." A straightforward version of another of my favorite songs and, while she doesn't have good a voice as Joplin, she was very good. Not shockingly good like Siobhan last week, but very good. Of course, my expectations for Crystal are much higher than for anyone else. She's just so mature as an artist compared to the others and, while she's not as creative as David Cook was, her maturity is reminiscent of Cook's. By the way, Simon said that this was Pink's version, but it was Joplin's version as well. Here's video of Pink singing the song; I had no idea her voice was that good.
  • Michael Lynche, singing Percy Sledge's "When a Man Loves a Woman": Miley is really creepy. That laugh? When Mike said, "I want to speak to the lovers out there," I immediately prepared to hate this. Dude can sing, though, with his Kenan Thompson facial expressions and all. I think if Sisqo were the mentor one week, he and Mike could totally do a killer Good Burger skit. He's good, with DeWyze at the top of the second tier.
  • Andrew Garcia, singing Marvin Gaye's "I Heard It Through the Grapevine": He's so typecast that anything else comes off as fake. It really felt like he was just going through the motions and his voice was a bit pitchy as well. I'm just about to lose my mind with how much I hope he's gone soon. You're going to try to sing Marvin Gaye's version and mess it up like that? Man...
  • Katie Stevens, singing Fergie's "Big Girls Don't Cry": The idea of Miley and Fergie in the same sentence just made my ears bleed. Oh, I think I feel some grey matter leaking out, too. Now I have brain all over my shirt. Thanks a lot, Miley and Fergie! Anyways, the performance was really nasal. Even though she tried to be more contemporary than she's been, she also seemed like she's trying to be older than she is. Not feeling it.
  • Casey James, singing Huey Lewis and the News' "The Power of Love": "I am a big fan... of your dad's." Awkward! "I don't have anything crazy to say." I think she meant "worthwhile." We all know the best performance of this was when Marty McFly used it as an audition for the school dance and Huey Lewis shut him down. This was a fine performance, not different at all from Lewis' original version. Simon, in pointing that out, had his best critique of the night. Casey doesn't have the character in his voice that Lewis does and he skipped the bridge, which made the chorus seem too repetitive, but it was fine. Kind of boring, but not bad in any way.
  • Didi Benami, singing Linda Ronstadt's "You're No Good": What was up with the slow motion hug at the end of the video? Weird. She's been one of the better singers, but the key was off on this. Plus, I didn't believe her singing it, which has happened a bunch tonight. Dispassionate. "Making the song their own" isn't only about changing up the version, it's about making a connection with the song so you can buy them as really delivering whatever the message is. Not happening. That can make anything boring. I always write these reviews while the song is going on, so nothing makes me happier than when the judges (Kara and Simon, in this case, which means more) say pretty much exactly what I say.
  • Siobhan Magnus, singing Stevie Wonder's "Superstition": Miley could not be any less genuine. "I'm really excited to hear your song," she says monotonously. It was sort of Annie Potts-from-Ghostbusters-ish. What is up with her hair? Trying to channel Sheila E.? Tough song to sing, good vocal. She definitely backed up last week's performance with a pretty good one. She's really come out of nowhere.

With that done, it's on to the Lost Comments/ Questions:

  • Answers, answers, answers. No new questions in this one, as far as I can tell. Here's what I have in terms of that.
  • The last few weeks, they've been toying with us and making us think that maybe Jacob was really the bad guy. I think that idea is done. I already thought of the island -- and, by association, Jacob -- as the prison for the Man In Black. They painted it in much more dire terms.
  • We finally know exactly where Richard comes from and his motivations. We also know where he fits into the struggle between Jacob and the Man In Black.
  • We know where the Black Rock came from.
  • We know how the statue got destroyed, though I don't totally get how a ship destroyed a huge statue and ended up in the middle of the jungle.
  • I found it interesting that Jacob told Richard that he never interfered, yet he did visit the candidates. He did also give them a choice, though, rather than trying to tempt them the way that the Man In Black does. Similarly, we got a good look into the motivation behind why Jacob acted the way he did as Ben was about to kill him.
  • More than anything, maybe we don't yet know who put the island there or where Jacob and the Man In Black come from, but we do know what purpose the island serves. That's pretty big.
  • Have to end by saying that I'm questioning why I read analysis of this show the day after. There's some great stuff out there on and that helps you catch things you may have missed and helps point out certain themes. At the same time, it makes certain revelations less shocking because they've already been guessed at. So many of the answers tonight seemed more like confirmation than actual answers. Maybe that's what leads commenters on such sites to complain about not getting enough answers. I think I'll keep going with it, especially with so few episodes, and I think the positives outweigh the potential negatives, but it's food for thought.

Monday, March 22, 2010

No, No, That's "Baby Alleged Killer"

  • The Monologue:
    • Universal Music Group has lowered the price of new CDs from most of their artists to $10 or less. Music connoisseurs are unhappy that they will now only be saving $10 when they illegally download the album.
    • Seven inches of snow fell and Dallas froze over on Saturday as Spring began. I can finally call that girl I met in that bar ten years ago. She is going to be so surprised.
    • I want to thank our new American hero, Randy Neugebauer (R-TX). You may think that he yelled, "Baby killer!" at Bart Stupak, but that's not the whole story. C-SPAN focused only on the podium and the audio off-mic kept cutting in and out. The whole story? Neugebauer actually yelled, "It's a baby killer whale!" when an orca entered the room to eat Vernon Ehlers (R-MI), who has worked to help marine biology issues in the Great Lakes and has become a known target of aquatic life. Thankfully, Ehlers was saved and was able to cast a meaningless "no" vote against health care reform.
  • Random Pop Culture:
    • HBO's The Pacific is just brilliant. You'd expect as much from HBO and producers Tom Hanks and Stephen Spielberg, but that doesn't mean it was guaranteed to live up to expectations. The writing, visuals, story -- great.
    • A lot of shows are in HD and most look good, but certain shows have used that technology to great effect. A few I can think of off-hand include The Pacific, Rome, and Mad Men, but Discovery Channel's Life blows them all away. Visually, it's to other TV shows what Avatar was to other movies. It's really that pretty. I've only watched the first episode dealing with adaptation, but it includes topics like a group of three cheetahs taking down an ostrich, a tiny frog that goes to extraordinary lengths to protect its young, and a seal trapped by a group of aforementioned orca and trying to make a daring escape. It may still be fascinating in standard definition, but it must lose a great deal without the jaw-dropping photography.
    • 24 was really good the last couple weeks and again for the first, oh, 57/60ths of tonight's episode. The last three minutes? Well, I guess we now know why that whole Dana Walsh/ Jenny Scott subplot was supposed to be so important, but the twist itself made my eyes roll so fast that they spun right out of their sockets.
  • Random Music Video:
    • Forty-seven years ago today, the Beatles released their first album, Please Please Me. This was the first single released from that album.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Worst of the Worst: #97, Boat Trip

You probably haven't heard of a lot of the movies on this list of the worst movies of the last decade, but you have probably heard of this one. Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Horatio Sanz star as two guys who go on a cruise to meet women. When they anger the travel agent, they are booked on a gay cruise, much to their surprise. Somehow they don't realize it at first, but then Gooding has to pretend to be gay to get close to the only woman on the boat, the dance instructor. She falls for him, he reveals he's straight, she's pissed, blah, blah, blah. Everyone knew it would be awful, to the point that I actually tried to rent it when it first came out on DVD. Funny enough, the box was mislabeled and I ended up with Daddy Day Care instead. Daddy Day Care, which had a few laughs thanks to Jeff Garlin and Steve Zahn, isn't on this list but Boat Trip is. So, much like Sam Beckett, I was given the opportunity to put right what once went wrong and watch the movie.

You know the premise is awful. Bad, to the point that the "Swedish Sun-Tanning Team" appears on the boat at one point to tempt Sanz' character. I googled "Swedish Sun-Tanning Team" to see if it actually exists -- yes, I already knew the answer -- and it only returned links for Boat Trip. Towards the end, the filmmakers inexplicably finish the cruise with no real wrap-up, just so they can just get the story over with. It feels like ten minutes were just cut out, which, believe me, I'm not complaining about. On top of the bad plot, the homophobic jokes are shocking in their extremity. Almost the entire movie is gay jokes and, while the gay characters obviously are the heroes in the end and the two main characters obviously learn that gay people can be real people too (actual plot point), the movie doesn't quite seem to shy away from stereotypes. It's on the list, we know it's bad, whatever. As you know, here's where the "but" comes in.


I actually laughed a couple of times. Will Ferrell has an cameo towards the beginning where he ad-libs with Artie Lange and made me chuckle. There's a joke involving bodily fluids at one point that caught me off guard and made me chuckle. Horatio Sanz overall just kind of makes me chuckle. He's definitely lame but a) it's unfair to pin the crapiness of SNL on him as I think I even used to do myself and b) I can sort of tell why he gets these parts. He's not that funny on film, but I bet he's funny as hell in person. The kind of guy who comes to a bachelor party and makes everyone die laughing all night even though you wouldn't want to spend any time with him when alcohol and/or strippers aren't involved. Sanz tries too hard, which doesn't work in a good comedy, but works just fine when everything else around him is junk.

The movie was #97, so it barely made the list with a 7% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. I know the list comes from the ratings, so it's not a completely subjective ranking of every film from the last decade against each other. I'm sure I've said before that there is one movie, Year One, that belongs on the list. It was a wide enough release and there was not only laugh in the entire movie. I could also make a case for last year's The Ugly Truth, which was also embarrassingly bad. I'm not sure I'd put Boat Trip on the list because at least I chuckled a couple of times. I come in to every movie on this list with low expectations, but for some, you can't go low enough. I went in to this one with expectations as low as the Dead Sea and I was (only barely) pleasantly surprised. Bravo.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

I Quit

Here's what I said about St. Mary's last week:

  • What they do well: Omar Samhan is one of the better big men in the country and he controls the middle both offensively and defensively. They don't have the guard play that they had last year when they were the first team left out of the tournament, but their guards can penetrate a little and shoot well from outside.
  • Cinderella Watch (out of 10): 7. They come in hot, having blown out Gonzaga in tonight's championship game. They'll be a 10- or 11-seed, so they'll have at least one winnable game. I'm thinking of Cleveland State out of the Horizon last year who beat a ranked opponent (Butler in their case) in their conference championship game, came into the tourney rolling, and blew out a good team (Wake) in the first round. St. Mary's was on the bubble, so they were a good team to begin with. They are going to be a very tough matchup in the first round.

Here's what I said about Northern Iowa last week:

  • I also saw Northern Iowa today for the first time this year. They are legit. They defend, they have size, they shoot very well from long distance, they go ten deep. If you don't count New Mexico as a mid-major, then there are three excellent mid-major teams this year with Gonzaga, Northern Iowa, and Butler. All three are very capable of going Sweet 16.

Well... I guess I analyzed them all right and I definitely would have had UNI beating Duke if it was that bracket. But Kansas? Kansas?!? Holy crap. I'm happy to break down teams, but never listen to any pick I ever make again.

After One Round

Okay, so I talked Richmond up too much, I dissed Old Dominion as an upset team, I talked up Oklahoma State, I had Georgetown beating Ohio State (much less Ohio).


I gave you Murray State as a Cinderella and I broke down why Washington and California would beat Marquette and Louisville, respectively. I even predicted that Cal would cream Louisville, which they did. No expert, but it feels good to be right at least some of the time.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Long Day

A long and exciting day. I lost a Sweet 16 team in Richmond and an Elite 8 team in Georgetown. I also lost my voice:

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Here's where I try to look smart, but will make a fool of myself to anyone who reads it in 24 hours. The greatest sporting event of the year kicks off tomorrow. So, pressure under fire, done this before, these are the things I look for in the young winning team:
  • Pressure Under Fire, Done This Before: The most important thing to me is whether or not the team is used to a pressure situation. When the rubber hits the road, when the going gets tough, when the cliches flow -- who's not going to be afraid. Yes: Kansas, Butler, Siena, Villanova, Michigan State. No: Kentucky, Syracuse, Ohio State.
  • On Point: We need a good backcourt in general, but we especially need a point guard who won't turn the ball over and won't take bad shots. Bring the ball up through the pressure, get it to your best scorer, hit some free throws. Yes: Kansas, Northern Iowa, Kentucky, Villanova, New Mexico, Kansas State, Siena, Richmond, Washington, Duke, Baylor. No: Georgia Tech, Pittsburgh. A lot of very good point guards in the field.
  • Attack The Rim: A post player is nice, but you need big guys who can clean up the boards to give the team more opportunities to score and control the clock. Yes: Kansas, Georgetown, Kansas State, Baylor, West Virginia, Kentucky. No: Marquette, Ohio State, Villanova, Richmond.
  • Depth: Bench depth is important because of foul trouble, but you're only playing two games a weekend, so I'm also looking for teams that have multiple options if one of their main guys is taken away. Yes: Kansas, Northern Iowa, Kentucky, Kansas State, Siena. No: Ohio State, Georgetown, Villanova.

So who do I like:

  • Best player in each region that you've only heard of if you watch Championship Week like a rat on crack: Darrington Hobson, New Mexico (East); Ronald Moore, Siena (South); Jordan Egelseder, Northern Iowa (Midwest); Jordan Crawford, Xavier (West). Crawford is the guy who famously dunked on LeBron at a camp and Nike hid the video.
  • My most-likely-to-be-Cinderella team for each region: Missouri (East); Siena (South); San Diego State (Midwest); Murray State (West).
  • Dark horse teams that would scare me the most: Missouri (East) with their frenetic style of play; Richmond (South) with their matchup zone and Princeton offense; Oklahoma State (Midwest) with one of the best scorers in the country and one of the only two teams to beat Kansas; Xavier (West) because of their athletic ability and their play in an underrated conference.
  • Player I most trust with the ball in a tight situation: De'Sean Butler, West Virginia (East); Scottie Reynolds, Villanova (South); Sherron Collins, Kansas (Midwest); Wesley Johnson, Syracuse (West).
  • Reasons my bracket is screwed up: No 5-12 upsets, three Big 12 teams in the Final Four, all 1-seeds getting to the Elite 8.
  • Best subplot: Will Calipari make the Final Four and then vacate his third Final Four appearance in three tries when it comes out that he paid/took the SAT for/gave a car to John Wall?
  • Final Four: West Virginia, Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State.
  • Champion: Kansas. They say this is a season without a great team, but 32-2 and champion of the best conference (yes, I said it) in the country has to stand for something. They have the guard I trust the most (it was Collins who got Chalmers the ball for the game-tying three in the 2008 title game). They have the best big man. They have multiple guys who can get to the rim or shoot from outside. They have a coach and seniors who have won a title. Anything can happen in this crazy tournament, but the Jayhawks are head and shoulders above everybody.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Idol Chatter

Top 12, Rolling Stones, starting the show very late so I'm just itching to fast forward through as much as possible. Let's go:
  • Michael Lynche, singing "Miss You": Shirt open, muscular, short-sleeves, falsetto. Next week he'll have grown a mole on his face so that his transformation into an Aaron Neville impersonator will be complete. I don't like when these kids do falsetto. I mean, this was fine, but they never quite get it right. Kara compared him to Mick Jagger. Right... He's safe, obviously. It's March Metaphor Madness time! Big Mike is Kentucky. A little raw and not worthy of comparison to past teams, but he's probably the second favorite.
  • Didi Benami, singing "Play with Fire": I'm going to be the sultry one! Look at how sexy I am! I think it's cute that she wants to be taken as a serious artist, even though her voice was a little pitchy and she screwed up the ending. Somehow she's suckered people into thinking she's great. Duke, anyone?
  • Casey James, singing "It's All Over Now": He really can play the guitar. Where it comes off as a prop for other people, it actually improves him from having a more-average-than-anyone-would-care-to-admit voice to being a good performer. Hard not to like. Not great but women love his looks and I like his guitar-playing. He rises above what he is at the core to be a dark horse favorite. Notre Dame.
  • Lacey Brown, singing "Ruby Tuesday": Wow. Wow, wow, wow. This was awful. Just awful. Physically painful because it was so off-key. Not only shouldn't she last past this week, I still can't figure out how she got into the finals. She's the Minnesota Golden Gophers. And she sang "Ruby Tuesday" like I imagine a gopher might. Or maybe she's one of those small schools that only shoots from outside and can't find the key at all. A basketball pun!
  • Andrew Garcia, singing "Gimme Shelter": Well, the best thing you can say is that at least he tried it without the guitar. Remember back when he was the favorite? How far has he fallen?! This was f***ing horrible. He actually made Lacey look good. He earned his way in with his early season performance but now I can't figure out why he's here and what he has to offer. Hook em', Texas Longhorns!
  • Katie Stevens, singing "Wild Horses": This might be my favorite Stones song. Yet another pitchy opening tonight. What was up with the lighting that made her glow at the beginning? She kind of took it a country route, which works on this song. My wife wonders if they just aren't used to so big a stage and that's why it's a little rougher tonight than you'd expect. I can see that, even though it's not like they've been great all year. She's a nice performer but I can't imagine she's going to seriously challenge for the title. Temple.
  • Ryan says, "Tim Urbans fans -- you'll get your fix!" I am so excited.
  • Tim Urban, singing "Under My Thumb": Bad arrangement and a bad performer singing it! What a great combination! I really, really don't like him and I really, really didn't like how he took this song. I hated this arrangement so much that I played the original over YouTube. Can you believe that this paled in comparison? I'm so not a fan of this guy. He's totally uncool, he obviously has no rhythm, and I'm inclined to find him boring. BYU.
  • Why is Uncle Phil from Fresh Prince in a commercial for Kaplan University?!? I actually stopped the DVR for the commercial when I saw him. What the hell happened to his career?!?
  • Siobhan Magnus, singing "Paint It Black": She has some big old glasses, doesn't she? Where did that come from? That was, hands-down, by far, going away, the BEST performance of the year. Here's a link to the video. I mean, wow. Speechless. Amazing. Do we have a new favorite? I don't even know what to say or who to compare her to. That was incredible in so many ways. Who's the real dark horse in the tournament? Richmond? Baylor? Xavier?
  • Lee DeWyze, singing "Beast of Burden": Sorry, dude. It was fine, but anything is going to come off rough after the last performance. I mean, seriously, Siobhan was freaking amazing. My favorite performance since whatever David Cook's last great one was. Oh, Lee? He's fine. I like him better than I thought I did. Texas A&M.
  • Paige Miles, singing "Honky Tonk Women": I'm not a huge fan, but she was sick tonight. She soldiered through it and actually did okay. Maybe she's better than I thought? I'm impressed. I guess the injury thing has to mean she's Purdue.
  • Aaron Kelly, singing "Angie": There's no way a 16-year-old should be singing this song. No way he'd ever be able to have a connection to such a heartfelt love song. Guess what? He didn't. He sounded okay, but it fell way flat. He didn't play to whatever strength he may have and came out looking the worse for it. Georgia Tech.
  • Crystal Bowersox, singing "You Can't Always Get What You Want": You know where this is going. She's just the best this year. Great voice, strong stage presence, good guitar player, makes great song choices like she did tonight. Just good. Rock, chalk, Jayhawk.

Have to admit that I enjoyed it much more tonight than I thought I would. It helps that Crystal went last to give us a happy feeling as it ended. Love her. I suppose Andrew or Lacey should be going home. Andrew's probably long reached his peak, so I think I'd prefer it be him.

Lost Comments/Questions:

  • Much like the past few episodes, it was a very strong character-driven story. Still some set-up, but there was some nice stuff in there.
  • I assumed that Widmore, as the bad guy, was working with the Man In Black, as the bad guy. Doesn't seem to be the case. Confusing.
  • Miles has really become a strong character on the show. He forms half of two of the best duos (Miles-Sawyer and Miles-Hurley) and brings out the best in his respective partners.
  • There's been some thought that those with Locke (Locke, Kate, Sayid) are having a rough time of it in the Sideways world, while those with Jacob (Jack, Hurley, Ben) have found redemption. Sawyer's story tonight seemed to be in the middle, which I suppose describes his place on the island. I found it interesting that he seemed to come to grips with his personal tragedy (by telling Miles) at the same time that he, on the island, showed himself to not be tied to Locke.
  • The plot of this season is starting to remind me a great deal of The Stand. Think about it (assuming you've read the book or seen the miniseries). Two groups of survivors. One is being drawn around a charismatic but mysterious figure who has had the ability to change shapes at one point and will promise them anything to get them to follow him towards dark ends. The other group is less organized and drawn around a kind figure who has died but appears to the group members in dreams. The main hero (Stu in The Stand/Jack in Lost) is, for a time, wandering on his own and stuck with the comic relief of the group (Tom Cullen/Hurley).
  • I'm betting some answers will be forthcoming next week in the Richard flashback, as weird as it is being hyped up to be. It was the first long-awaited Ben flashback in the third season that gave us a bunch of answers about the history of the Dharma Initiative. I'm betting that, if nothing else, we'll get some good Widmore back story next week.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Where Have You Gone, Uncle Joey?

  • Dancin':
    • I've been watching a good bit of ESPNU's tournament coverage for the same reason that people watch reality shows or bad soap operas: because I love yelling at the TV. On tonight's edition (which I'm not done with), a group of former coaches and players picked all of the games. They love Cornell because they only lost to Kansas by a little bit. I'm confused at why anyone would love a team for losing a game. They also love Marquette because they play close games. Which, to me, means that Marquette is incapable of blowing anyone out. If you look to play a close game in the tourney, you're looking to go home quickly. Too much left to chance. When I shut it off (though I recorded it so more tomorrow), they had just talked in one breath about why Texas A&M would roll Utah State because they were so tough and tournament-tested over the last couple of years and then in the next breath hated a little on Siena, even though Siena is (say it with me) tough and tournament-tested over the last couple of years.
    • I finally finished filling out my brackets and, as always, I picked too much chalk. Not a fan of my picks. I have three teams from one conference making the Final Four, which is unlikely. I have no team lower than a 3-seed in the Elite Eight. I found one double-digit seed to get to the Sweet 16, but it's a bit of grasping. People will love West 12-seed UTEP to win two games, but I'm thrown too much love to Butler to go against the Bulldogs. As such, I didn't pick one 12-seed to win in the first round, but I did pick two 13-seeds and two 11-seeds. Details on Wednesday (since tomorrow is devoted to Idol and Lost, of course).
    • One more note, regarding East Coast bias. I'll throw the Midwest in there, too. The three teams that seem to be getting the least respect from the analysts are California, Washington, and New Mexico. All western teams. ESPN analysts questioned whether Cal deserved to get in, even though they are #14 in KenPom, #19 in RPI, and #29 in Sagarin. Do you get that? They not only easily deserved to get in, but they are even under-seeded! Their opponent, Louisville, one seed lower, is #39 in KenPom and #37 in RPI and Sagarin. Not even close. Marquette and Washington? Marquette is #28 in KenPom, #50(!) in RPI, and #24 in Sagarin, and Washington is #29 in KenPom, #41 in RPI, and #42 in Sagarin. Yet Marquette is a 6-seed, Washington an 11-seed, and nobody gives the Huskies a chance. Then, the analysts love Marquette to take down New Mexico (#47 in KenPom, #10 in RPI, #23 in Sagarin). In the show I was watching tonight, they loved Marquette because the Golden Eagles "are tough, can drive the ball into the paint, and have a player who can make plays when they're needed." Has anyone seen New Mexico play? The answer is "no," because they were never on ESPN unlike every Big East team. But I have. Guess what? New Mexico is tough as nails, they can penetrate at will with great guards, and they have a player in swingman Darrington Hobson that can do anything needed to make plays. Think a less-dickish Greivis Vazquez. Plus, the Lobos are a little bigger down low than Marquette, who doesn't play anyone bigger than 6'6"! I didn't mean to let that rant get away from me like that, but damn...
  • Random Pop Culture:
    • The last two episodes of 24 have been really, really good. Shockingly so, considering the state of the show. The twist at the end of tonight's episode was nothing short of fantastic. For the first time in seasons, I couldn't see something coming a mile away. Also fun to see Stephen Root on the show, since he said he was going to be in it when we saw him live at an Office Space screening a few months ago.
    • They could end Big Love after last week's finale (which I finally saw) or they could keep it going for one more season. Either would make sense in some respects, but they need to shore it up big time if they're going to continue. The plot was out of control this season.
  • Random Music Video:
    • Saying that Big Love was "out of control" made me think of Dave Coulier. Here is 1) the intro to Out of Control, 2) a video of Dave Coulier saying his catch phrase to a fan (the only place I could find him doing "cut it out" on YouTube), and 3) a really strange rap about Full House that Coulier wrote. Not really understanding that last one.

And They Are Indisputable

These are the facts:
  • If you look at the current season relative to past seasons, which show has been more disappointing this year: The Amazing Race or American Idol? The Amazing Race is pretty awful this year. Tonight, nobody tried hard, everybody complained, and a team made a really, really bad strategic move. I think the weakness of the season is especially apparent when you take into account that Survivor is having one of its best seasons ever.
  • The Pacific, much-hyped, premiered tonight on HBO. The first episode was fifty minutes long. I thought we were maybe fifteen minutes in when the episode ended. It really is that freaking good.
  • ESPN is ridiculous. From 5-6PM today, the analysts picked NCAA tournament games. Wait, you say, the brackets weren't announced until 6? No, they picked the games that Joe Lunardi had projected in his final bracket. How many of Lunardi's thirty-two first-round matchups were in the actual bracket? One, New Mexico vs. Montana. They could have just showed dead air for that hour. Speaking of dead air, ESPNU is running nothing but tourney breakdown from now until the games start. No, seriously. It's about 1AM and I'm watching them provide live coverage that includes a) a guy delivering pizza and picking a bracket in which he had Siena losing to Florida in the title game; b) a fat guy with no shirt dancing around as someone tries to shoot a nerf basketball; and c) the analysts spinning a wheel to choose which 12-seed they'll break down and spinning the same team three times in a row.
  • I'm taking my time in breaking down the bracket, so I'll give some more thoughts tomorrow. My biggest complaint is in the 2-seed line. It makes no sense that Ohio State is with Kansas and West Virginia is with Kentucky, but Duke gets Villanova, who fell apart down the stretch. I have my Final Four set for the left side of the bracket, but I'm not quite yet sure about the right side. As I've been saying for a while, there are so many inconsistent, mediocre teams that I wouldn't be surprised by any number of upsets. I'm this close to picking two different 13-seeds to advance, maybe one even to the Sweet 16.
  • Who do I like? Same as ever. Who has more than one option offensively? Who can rebound? Who can play defense? Who has a steady point guard that can protect the ball and run the offense in the tight spots? Here are some stats regarding recent national champions from an ESPN article. Only one team in the field meets these criteria. Who? More to come throughout the week.

All 10 had at least two future first-round NBA draft picks on the roster
• 9 of 10 had at least one winning streak of 10 games or more prior to the NCAA tournament
• 9 of 10 finished the season with a scoring margin of plus-14.1 ppg or better
• 9 of 10 had an opponents' field goal percentage of .410 or lower
• 8 of 10 had a percentage of .480 or better
• 8 of 10 were ranked in the top four of the preseason AP poll
• 8 of 10 won at least a share of their conference's regular-season title

Friday, March 12, 2010

Worst of the Worst: #84, Thr3e

One word: Finally!!! When I set out to watch the worst movies of the last decade, I knew there would be some really awful movies. Some movies (Three Strikes, All About Steve, The Master of Disguise) are so bad that it is actually painful to watch them. But my tolerance for pain is pretty high. I expected a great number of funny bad movies. So far, that has not really happened. I found Uwe Boll and I laughed at the historic ineptitude of Battlefield Earth but these movies have generally been considerably less entertaining than I thought they would be. Until now!

When The Passion had such great box office success, studios thought there might be a future in faith-based movies. To take advantage of that, 20th Century Fox created a subsidiary called Fox Faith, designed to green-light movies with a Christian bent. Along those lines, Fox Faith produced an adaptation of a Christian thriller novel, Thr3e.

An aside, regarding faith-based entertainment. Perhaps I am prejudiced, but I am very wary about anything based around religion. It's hard to completely buy into anything that has an obvious agenda, be it Michael Moore's movies or Fox News. On top of that, religion-based entertainment tends towards family-friendly, so there's no edge. Matisyahu's rap is cool, but he's rapping about the Messiah and I just can't relate. Ditto Christian rock (Note: Kanye gets a pass on "Jesus Walks" because a) the beat is sick and b) he doesn't do exclusively religious stuff). Could someone make a religious movie that I'd like? Possibly, so long as it approaches its topic from a philosophical nature. But, let's say someone tried to make a rip-off of Saw but made it family-friendly and with Christian themes. Does that sound like a good idea?

Thr3e is about a seminary student who is stalked by a serial killer. The killer had previously killed the brother of a police psychologist who, with her personal interest in the case, inserts herself into the life of the student in order to help him and catch the killer. The killer works by using riddles to give his victims the chance to get themselves out of the situation. He also wants the student to confess to some sin. He kills exclusively with bombs -- well, "kills" is a strong word because, besides the police psychologist's brother, nobody actually dies in the bombs. Here's that family-friendly part. Forget there being no cursing, there is no gore. It's a horror movie, a Saw rip-off, that has no blood in it. Basically, nobody gets hurt. What a horror film! The plot rolls on until the end, where there is a twist that is so out-of-the-blue and so cliched that I actually had to pause the movie because I was laughing so hard.

But, fear not, you don't have to wait until the end to laugh your ass off at the absurdity of this movie! The actors deliver their lines with a passion that reminded me of the acting in those Sprint commercials that they show before movies in the theater. Of particular note is Justine Waddell as the psychologist, who delivers her lines in this faux-serious manner that brings chuckles every time she opens her mouth. Many of the actors are a little too young or a little too pretty for the characters they are supposed to be portraying. Also, do you cherish non-disabled actors playing mentally-handicapped characters and failing miserably as much as I do? Then step right up, because you'll get the most ridiculous pair of those since Mark Holton (Francis from Pee-wee's Big Adventure, Chubby in Teen Wolf) played one in Leprechaun. The special effects in the film are amazing in their cheapness, including a scene where a bus is on fire except you can easily see that the bus is okay and the flames were super-imposed on the print in editing (I can't find a video of it or I'd show it). Laughs all around!

The religion does play into it a little bit. A few of the killer's riddles turn out to be lines from Romans in the New Testament. (Near the end of the movie, the psychologist turns to a professor at the seminary and asks if we can fight evil by coming to grips with the potential for good and evil that is in all of us. The professor responds that this is not the case, we can only fight evil by accepting the power of God. I rolled my eyes. As I said, I'm probably prejudiced to it but, as I also said, I could probably like a religion-based movie. It would just help if they didn't make one that's so easy to mock.

Just Say, "Yes," To Life!

  • The Monologue:
    • The NFL is now the only major league whose games can still end in a tie. They say a tie is like kissing your sister, but now there's a football player that may be able to say for sure.
    • Unplugged is coming back, this time on VH1. The first person to appear is going to be Adam Lambert. So many jokes to make. But, seriously, how is the first act to appear on anything?
  • Random Pop Culture:
    • Really questionable move by JT on tonight's Survivor. Really questionable. Why would he go away from what would be the strongest alliance of either of the tribes right now?
    • It's been a weak season of 30 Rock (not helped by how good Community is), but tonight's episode was really good. Maybe the Olympics break and the fact that they now have the Comcast purchase of NBC to mock helped.
    • Surprised that Alex Lambert and Lilly Scott did not make the Top 12 on American Idol. Lambert had gotten a lot better and the judges seemed to be pushing Scott so hard early on that I thought she was a ringer. Big Mike has to be the favorite right now, but I still like Crystal the best.
    • No conference finals today, but we did have some craziness in the Big East tournament as three of the top seeds fell. Can Syracuse lose their #1 seed if West Virginia wins the Big East or Kansas State wins the Big 12?
    • Speaking of those two teams... The final six seconds of Cincinnati-WVU were incredible. Tie game, Cincy has the ball at the far end of the court. They throw it into a guard who dribbles the ball off of his head (I'm not sure how he managed that) and out of bounds. As he sat on the sidelines with his head in his hands, West Virginia took the ball with 3.1 seconds and hit a fall-away three at the buzzer to win it. I also got the chance to watch Kansas State tonight for the first time all year. They are really, really good. They play great defense and their offensive spacing is exceptional.
  • Random Music Video:
    • I didn't know this existed until today. How could I not know that???

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Idol Chatter

Just when you thought the girls were awful! I watched some of the worst basketball I have seen in a long time in the NEC title game tonight. Robert Morris won despite shooting 7-17 from the free throw line. That was prettier than this is going to be. Now, as Ryan Seacrest starts out by touching all of the guys in turn, making them "candidates" (am I getting my shows mixed up?), let's get it on:
  • Lee DeWyze, singing Owl City's "Fireflies": This wins for song I liked when I first heard it until I realized that it's really annoying. When this guy sings it really off-key, it's less annoying than unlistenable. I actually didn't watch the guys episode last week and I'm not really regretting that. I want to move to Owl City. Everyone there is wise and can tell you how many licks it takes to get to the middle of a Tootsie Roll pop (Answer: 3).
  • Alex Lambert, singing Ray LaMontagne's "Trouble": Okay, I missed Alex's mullet last week. I had heard he was better last week, but he really can sing. Maybe a little nasal for this song. Pitchy at the very beginning and very end. I think it would be really awesome if he had a dragon tattoo on the back of his neck that he uses his mullet to cover.
  • Tim Urban, singing (oh my God, why did they let him sing this) Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah": I mean, how could they let the least talented person on this entire season sing this song? Tim: "I want to sing 'Hallelujah'." Producer: "No, you're not good enough and stop staring vacantly at me like that." And then he knocked it out of the park. Nice job, and with the second-straight '70s haircut of the night, no less. He's not going to get better than that. He should have finished, dropped the guitar, and walked off the stage, never to return. But no, he'll be back next week. They all will. FML.
  • Andrew Garcia, singing Christina Aguilera's "Genie in a Bottle": He did the Andrew Garcia version of a good pop song. It must be really annoying to work at the Starbucks near Andrew's house. "Oh, crap, here comes that guy who orders his venti latte by playing acoustic guitar and singing sincerely." And it goes on and on: "Yes, you can have your dry cleaning, but, for Christ's sake, either talk to me or use a backup band and a faster tempo!"
  • Casey James, singing Keith Urban's "You'll Think of Me": Why would anyone do a song that Tim Urban wrote? Oh. Just kidding you, Keith. We love Keith Urban because he sleeps with a pale robot. Casey's good. This night has been more enjoyable than I thought it would be. He's got a little country vibe and a little Adam Duritz in his voice. Still too much vibrato, but this was good.
  • Aaron Kelly, singing Lonestar's "I'm Already There": Finally, I wasn't disappointed! This was a piece of s***.
  • Todrick Hall, singing Queen's "Somebody to Love": Remember when Elliot Yamin sang the hell out of this a few years ago? Todrick's just very Broadway; I don't buy that he's sincere about feeling a song. His voice is okay (a little pitchy tonight especially at the crucial beginning), but he just comes off as phony. Mugging for the camera, worried more about his showmanship than his connection to the song. Not a fan. I don't get where the judges are coming from this year. I guess they have to pump up the kids to try to sell something about the show, but damn. At least Simon busted out a "having said that" for my amusement.
  • Michael Lynche, singing Kate Bush's "This Woman's Work": Why would anyone try falsetto like that? Why would anyone try to do a Maxwell song (it was his cover version that Big Mike was singing)? I like Big Mike, of course, but this wasn't that great for me. Certainly not good enough for me to understand why Kara started crying?!? The falsetto and facial expression at the end made me think about Kenan Thompson singing that song. That can't be a good sign.

Lee and Aaron? I haven't been good at picking this year. Whatever. In memory of today's (unsurprising) celebrity death, I'll just say: "One thing about watching American Idol this year I never could stomach. All the damn contestants."

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Idol Chatter

No big questions about Lost right now, but another interesting episode that will take some time to mull over. Still no real answers (the Richard/Jacob stuff was nothing surprising) and I'm, I guess I'd say, befuddled. On the basketball front, Butler rolled over Wright State. They're the best team to play so far this week and would get a 10 out of 10 on my Cinderella Watch, though they will be a 5- or 6-seed at worst. Anyways, it's the last round before the Final 12, so here we go:
  • Katie Stevens, singing Kelly Clarkson's "Breakaway": This performance couldn't find tune if it had neon lights all over it. Bad, bad, bad. Simon: "You kind of sucked... pause pause pause pause ... the energy out of it."
  • Siobhan Magnus, singing The Animals' "The House of the Rising Sun": She has less personality than the popcorn I made this evening. So little confidence, which shows on stage. Not the style that I like, but I really liked this performance. Really nice tone. I just prefer more edgy for that song.
  • Lacey Brown, singing Brandy Carlile's "The Story": She has an interesting voice (sounds kind of like Dolly Parton), but she's just not that good a singer. She's been among the worst two each week. This was better. Boring, though. I guess this is the night to be safe and not stand out.
  • Katelyn Epperly, singing Carole King's "I Feel the Earth Move": Steve picked Katelyn as the one most likely to be the bad but hot one even if she's not that hot. As Christoph Waltz said in Inglourious Basterds, "That is a bingo!" Nothing to add.
  • Didi Benami, singing Fleetwood Mac's "Rhiannon": I didn't say after catching up on last week that I'm off her. She's not that good. Also, even if her name is potentially Israeli, she's definitely not Jewish since she said she prays before every performance. Tonight was decent but, again, boring. I think someone told Ellen to turn it on more because she's pretty hyper tonight.
  • Paige Miles, singing Charlie Chaplin(!)'s "Smile": She looked slightly less comfortable on the stage than I would look at a Sarah Palin rally. Palin admitted that she used to go into Canada to get better health care? I want to make a joke about how she's trying to kill her career, but I'm speechless. Paige needed universal health care to fix this broken performance. The judging was accurate but, oh, so awkward.
  • Crystal Bowersox, singing Tracy Chapman's "Give Me One Reason": Since I watch Idol on the DVR later than it airs, I go to Wikipedia to see which songs the contestants are singing. When I saw this one, I was pretty excited. The best singer this year doing a song that fits her to a tee. Not disappointing. She's the best of a sorry bunch, but she's still the best.
  • Lilly Scott, singing Patsy Cline's "I Fall to Pieces": Hard for me to take this one seriously, for some reason. Maybe too twangy, maybe too boring, maybe she smiled too much. This has been one horrible season with no silver lining in sight.

Bad night to have your name start with a "K", but Paige was horrible. I'm saying Paige and Katie are out.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Championship Week Continues

Four more bids up for grabs tonight, but five teams made it into the tournament with the first upset guaranteeing the first at-large bid.

Colonial: Old Dominion
  • What they do well: They play fundamental ball with good post play and ball movement. They generate most of their offense inside with big men who can face up from the perimeter and drive.
  • Cinderella Watch (out of 10): 4. They could be about a 10-seed and will be one of the favorite upset picks for the first round. I'm not buying it. A mid-major that doesn't shoot from three and can't hit their free throws? That doesn't sound like a successful tournament team to me.

MAAC: Siena

  • What they do well: Defense and balanced offense. All five starters were all-MAAC with three on the first team. Senior point guard Ronald Moore leads the nation in assists with almost eight a game.
  • Cinderella Watch (out of 10): 5. They may not have star Kenny Hasbrouck anymore, but they are very experienced. They've won their first round NCAA game in each of the last two years. The experience showed as they had to come back in each game of the MAAC tourney, culminating in a 15-point comeback tonight to eventually win the game in overtime. Plus, 12-seed, anyone?

Southern: Wofford

  • What they do well: Play defense and score on the inside. They have the ability to pop from outside when necessary.
  • Cinderella Watch (out of 10): 1. They lost relatively close early in the season at Pittsburgh and at Michigan State. They won at Georgia and beat South Carolina. They'll be a 14-seed, so the going will be very tough, but some of the 3-seeds this year could be teams that are playing poorly right now like Villanova. They'll be a crowd favorite as this is the first time Wofford has ever made it into any postseason tournament, much less the NCAA one.

West Coast Conference: St. Mary's

  • What they do well: Omar Samhan is one of the better big men in the country and he controls the middle both offensively and defensively. They don't have the guard play that they had last year when they were the first team left out of the tournament, but their guards can penetrate a little and shoot well from outside.
  • Cinderella Watch (out of 10): 7. They come in hot, having blown out Gonzaga in tonight's championship game. They'll be a 10- or 11-seed, so they'll have at least one winnable game. I'm thinking of Cleveland State out of the Horizon last year who beat a ranked opponent (Butler in their case) in their conference championship game, came into the tourney rolling, and blew out a good team (Wake) in the first round. St. Mary's was on the bubble, so they were a good team to begin with. They are going to be a very tough matchup in the first round.

Oskie Boy

I avoided the Oscars tonight as much as possible, only watching the last four awards, which were all completely unsurprising. I don't really care, so I can't get but so worked up, but Carey Mulligan and Meryl Streep were both better in their respective movies than Sandra Bullock was in hers. If we're giving out Oscars for performances relative to their careers, then John Travolta deserves one every year because of Battlefield Earth.

I spent the Oscars watching Gonzaga beat Loyola Marymount in the WCC semifinals and Oral Roberts outlast North Dakota State in overtime in the Summit League quarterfinals (I had to watch that one online). I also saw Northern Iowa today for the first time this year. They are legit. They defend, they have size, they shoot very well from long distance, they go ten deep. If you don't count New Mexico as a mid-major, then there are three excellent mid-major teams this year with Gonzaga, Northern Iowa, and Butler. All three are very capable of going Sweet 16.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

What Time Is It? Game Time!

The best sports week of the year has arrived as Championship Week began in earnest today. Cornell had previously qualified for the NCAA tournament because the Ivy League does not have a conference tournament, but three bids were up for grabs. Even though I was out all day, I taped all three of the games and watched significant portions of them tonight. I love Championship Week. Here's who made it in today:

Big South: Winthrop
  • What they do well: This isn't the very good Winthrop team of 2007 that advanced a game as an 11-seed. They play solid defense and they have two relatively good point guards. Otherwise, they never seem to get to the gym too late for a game, which is admirable.
  • Cinderella Watch (out of 10): 0. Too good to make the play-in game (also they're not an HBCU so they're ineligible), but likely to be a 16-seed. See ya.

Atlantic Sun: East Tennessee State

  • What they do well: Score. They run and attack the rim.
  • Cinderella Watch (out of 10): 0. As the 5-seed in their conference tourney, they have an outside shot of getting into the play-in game. Their 20-14 record may be too good for that, though. They'll be a 16-seed either way.

Ohio Valley Conference: Murray State

  • What they do well: They play tight defense, have some big men down low, and they spread their scoring around. They have five players that average between 10.2 and 10.6 points per game and another that averages 9.5. They also win, with a 30-4 record, 17-1 in conference (the only loss came at Morehead State, who they beat fairly easily tonight, in the second to last game of the regular season).
  • Cinderella Watch (out of 10): 2. They will be a 13- or 14-seed and with a relatively weak field this year, there's a chance for some big upsets. Early in the season, they only lost by 5 at California, the Pac-10 regular season champ. Am I telling you to pick Murray State next Sunday? Hell, no. But if they're matched up against an up-and-down team like Tennessee (who Joe Lunardi has them playing) in the first round and the opponent has an off-night?

Coming up tomorrow, it's mid-major time. Two of the best mid-majors in the country hit the court as Northern Iowa plays in the Missouri Valley Conference championship game (the only such game of the day) and Gonzaga plays in the West Coast Conference semifinals. The Colonial Athletic Conference also holds its semifinals, as Cinderella sleeper William & Mary (lost at UConn by 9, won at Wake by 10, won at Maryland by 6) probably needs to win its tournament to get in and regular season champ Old Dominion (won at Georgetown by 4, lost to Missouri by 5, lost at Richmond by 7, lost at Dayton by 8) is in action.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Worst of the Worst: #50, Dirty Love

In the last season of 30 Rock, there was a series of episodes where Jon Hamm guest-starred as Liz's love interest. She eventually broke up with him when she realized that he was incredibly stupid, but got away with it because of his looks. No matter what he did, people just said he was right or smart or talented. This must be the story of Jenny McCarthy's life.

McCarthy wrote and starred in Dirty Love, the #50 movie on Rotten Tomatoes' list of the worst movies of the last decade. She became famous in Playboy, but got her mainstream start as the co-host of MTV's Singled Out. She left to get her own not-so-good sketch comedy show on MTV, replaced by Carmen Electra who co-starred in this movie (it should be noted that Electra stars in every single last entry of the ____ Movie franchise). Hmm, what else? I remember her being not particularly funny in Baseketball. Anyways, she parlayed a lot of entertainment execs nodding agreement to her contracts while not exactly staring into her eyes into the opportunity to get a movie made of her script. Now, I can't find anywhere how much it cost to make this movie and my impression is that it didn't cost much. But "not much" by movie standards is still potentially quite a bit. Great low, low, low-budget movies Swingers and Halloween cost $200,000 and $300,000 to make, respectively. Dirty Love opened on forty-four screens (because the advance word-of-mouth was so bad) and made $23,281 in its opening weekend. It stayed open (on only two of those screens) for one more weekend. When it made $822. No, I didn't miss a comma there.

McCarthy's script is bad. I don't just mean in the way that there are no laughs -- not one -- in the entire movie. I mean in the way that there are glaring errors in verb tense and pronoun use. It's not slang; the grammar is noticeably wrong. Besides that, it's racist (Electra's prolific acting chops are put to use in a white character that inexplicably acts as stereotypically black as possible to the point that it comes off as a minstrel show) and anti-Semitic (two movie execs with big noses, glasses, and New York accents, are compared to Woody Allen). It's a gross-out movie that includes graphic scenes of vomit, sex, and a menstruation "joke" that a thirteen-year-old wouldn't find funny. Thanks to the over-the-top script, even a talented comic actor like Guillermo Diaz is forced to play over-the-top and comes out looking the worse for it. The attention to detail is so poor that at one point a sign on a studio audition room reads "Quite Please". I shit you not. I only wish I could find a picture of it.

Much like with my review of The New Guy, where I lamented Zooey Deschanel's inclusion in the movie, I lament here Eddie Kaye Thomas as the guy who is in love with McCarthy's character but she won't see it. Thomas was very good in American Pie and he and David Krumholtz together were great in Harold and Kumar. Of the people in this movie, he's the only one who looks like he's trying (or capable) at all. He also doesn't fit because he plays a peer to McCarthy but he's actually eight years younger than she is. And, look, she's very pretty, but it's obvious. Aside from him (and he couldn't do anything with that script), the acting is exactly what you would expect when you let a bunch of Playmates star in a movie. When porn stars have bit parts in mainstream movies like He Got Game, it is barely acceptable because of how bad they are. Build a movie around them? You can see how that goes.

Male gross-out comedies are huge. The Hangover was one of the biggest movies of last year, following in the footsteps of Old School, Anchorman, and even as far back as Animal House. I think we generally believe that the female counterpart to that type of movie is a romantic comedy, movies which mostly have little to no edge. I don't blame someone for trying to make a female gross-out comedy. Perhaps there's a market out there for that. Perhaps someone like Sarah Silverman could pull one off. If we're going to be blazing new trails, though, let's leave it to someone whose talent extends to above their shoulders.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Random Pop Culture

Thanks to Steve for hitting Idol. I got home tonight and tore through the girls quickly, fast-forwarding through almost everyone. Just not feeling it besides Crystal. I don't think she can win because she's not the type who wins this thing, but I think she is the most talented. I hate that people are singing songs by Marvin Gaye or Sam Cooke or Aretha Franklin. Sure, it may sound okay for Idol, but these kids can't hold a candle to the original and I can't get the original out of my head. I'm fine with who got voted out tonight because none of them had any chance to win and two of them were downright annoying. I'm not fine with them singing that insipid Black Eyed Peas song using auto-tune. I. Am. Not. Fine. With. That.

Great Survivor, great blindside. It's not just that I dislike the Heroes tribe, it's that I specifically dislike Amanda and James. So Amanda being dumb enough to believe Tom and Cirie's subsequent dressing-down of Amanda were right up my alley. Add to that the look of overconfidence on Candice's face in Tribal followed by her look of misery and Rupert's realization that he had made a horrible mistake by hitching himself to Amanda and James followed by him tearing at his hair and shaking his head. Love it. Plus, the continuing leadership of Rob and some great Coach stuff. Russell has great sound bites, but nobody tops Coach. New favorite quote of the year: "Am I going to change? No. Am I going to be the Dragonslayer and slay everyone? Yes."

The more I thought about last week's Lost, "The Lighthouse", the more I liked it. This week's was also very good. I don't know that I'm okay with Sayid being evil, but I'm not sure that he actually is. He's under Locke's spell, but I wouldn't be surprised one bit if he ended up sacrificing himself once he realizes that he's made the wrong choice. I like Kate being embedded in Locke's crew (and Locke maybe knowing it). I like the setup of Jack, Hurley, and Ben versus this group of bad guys with Sawyer (he seemed more indifferent than outright evil) and
Kate as the wild cards. I get the sense that this was the end of the setup for what's to come. One question: Do you think that the "Flash Sideways" has something to do with what Locke said to Sayid about making his dreams come true? Like it's a timeline that Locke has made happen or put into play? I guess the big argument against that is that it's the real Locke, one would guess, that is in that timeline. Either way, good stuff.

The fact that Maryland is going to be everyone's Final Four dark horse makes me think that they are going to go out quickly. They could. They played very poorly early in the year. However, they are also very talented and have a makeup that can beat anybody on a given night, with the exception of a couple of teams. But I'll save that for the next week or two as we get into my favorite sports time of the year. The conference tournaments have begun. Championship Week is two days away.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Misunderestimating the Ladies

I have to admit that I didn't like any of the women last week and was disappointed that Ashley Rodriguez was booted out. This week, a few stepped up their game to give at least respectable peformances. One or two of them would actually get my vote (that is, if I actually voted).

  • Crystal Bowersox came back from the dead to sing CCR's "As Long As I See the Light". She's got a decent voice and will probably last deep into the competition but I can't see her winning. The judges just fawn over her. I don't get it.
  • Haeley Vaughn - She's quite bubbly but her version of Miley Cyrus' "The Climb" was not very good. She's in trouble.
  • Lacey Brown - Her "Kiss Me" by Six Pence was painful to listen to. I think I heard Bailey howl from 30 miles away. It sounded like a drunk girl at a fraternity party stealing the DJ's microphone and singing Karaoke. Pack your bags, you Finito Santiago.
  • Katie Stevens - The cutest gal in the pack. She has talent but was definitely in the wrong key for Corrinne Bailey Rae's "Put Your Records On". Did I mention that she is really, really cute. Wait a minute, she's only 17 years old? Nevermind. I will withhold any further comments.
  • Didi Benami performed "Lean On Me". She kinda reminds me of Kristie Lee Cook. She is probably better off sticing to country music. To this point, I thought she had the best vocals of the night. The judges didn't like the song choice.
  • Michelle Delamor - I loved her "With Arms Wide Open" by Creed. On a side note, I have noticed that Ellen repeats everything that Randy says. Let's see how far this streak continues.
  • Lili Scott - Sang Sam Cooke's A Change is Gonna Come". She was really good. I think it is funny when Randy calls the ladies "Dude".
  • Katelyn Epperly sang Coldplay's "The Scientist". You know what this season is missing? A really hot girl with marginal talent. The easiest on the eye is Katelyn but that is not saying much. I can see Katelyn following the Katherine McPhee trend of removing more and more clothing as each week goes by.
  • Paige Miles - If I closed my eyes, I wouldn't know whether it was Paige singing or Kelly Clarkson singing. She lost a bit of energy toward the end but I liked it overall.
  • Siobhan Magnus - When I heard she was singing Aretha Franklin's "Think", I screamed at the television "Nooooooo. Don't do it". Only really large people can sing this song properly. I have to admit that I was completely wrong. She was flat out awesome. She would get my vote for best of the night (if I voted).

The two people going home should be Lacey Brown and Haeley Vaughn. Then again, I seem to be wrong every time.

Forwarded Email of the Day: "Following Monday and Tuesday on the Calendar is W.T.F.". Makes you think...

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

American Idol Stunt Doubles

While Josh is in the land of No Left Turns, I'll handle tonight's Idol recap. It seems like all of the male contestants are just poor man's versions of prior Idol contestants. Of the 10 guys remaining, only one or two have a legitimate shot of being an actual star. The rest can only aspire to be a one-hit wonder at best.
One thing that I can't stand this year is how the judges seem to give contradictory advice. For example, they told a few singers to make the song their own, to not sing it just like the original performed sang it. Then, they tell a performer like Todrick Hall, who sings a fresh version of a song, to just hit the notes and don't worry about being different. I wish they would be consistent here.
Here's the rundown
  • Michael Lynche - Season 9's Rueben Studdard - Ryan Seacrest plays him up, calling him Big Mike. I'd have to think that this gives him some extra credibility. He has that teddy bear appearance that will get him plenty of votes. Tonight, he sang "This is a Man's World" by James Brown. I thought it was really good. He is one of my favorites among the men.
  • John Park - Season 9's John Stevens - He is a crooner, nothing more. He would be good on Broadway but I don't know if he is cut out for this competition. He sang John Mayer's "Gravity". He was better than last week but that's not saying much. He might be in trouble.
  • Casey James - Season 9's Ace Young (but with talent) - He is the most polished overall performer. Tonight he sang Gavin DeGraw's "I Don't Wanna Be". The judges were a bit hard on him but he will be safe. Whether he wins this competition or not, he will certainly have a successful album once the season is done.
  • Alex Lambert - Season 9's Kevin Covais - Sang John Legend's "Everybody Knows". There is no doubt this kid got beat up in high school. He has a decent voice but it is not good enough to hang around very long.
  • Todrick Hall - Season 9's Corey Clark - The judges seem to have it in for him. He sang Tina Turner's "What's Love Got To Do With It". I thought it was pretty solid. The judges all saw it differently. He doesn't have the best singing voice amongst the men, but he has much better onstage presence than most, if not all, of the men.
  • Jermaine Sellers -Season 9's Nikko Smith - Seems more into fashion than singing. What's with the ugly bow tie? He sang "What's Going On" by Marvin Gaye. What is going on is that he is in trouble this week.
  • Andrew Garcia - Season 9's Danny Gokey - Andrew seems to be taking a step backward each week. His version of "You Give Me Something" by James Morrisson was just disappointing.
  • Aaron Kelly - Season 9's David Archuleta (with less talent) - Sang The Temptation's "My Girl". He just looks scared to be on the stage. I wasn't impressed.
  • Tim Urban - Season 9's Kris Allen (with much, much less talent) - Sang "Come On, Get High" by Matt Nathanson. I don't know how many ways I can come up with to he say that he sucks. Unfortunately, this is an easy candidate for the Vote for the Worst crowd. As Tony Kornheiser would say, he Gots to Go.
  • Lee Dewyze - Season 9's Michael Johns - Sang Hinder's "Lips of an Angel". I could go either way on him. He seems like the contestant that will have a good week followed by a bad week but move on based on his reputation. He's safe this week.

If I had to pick two to go home this week, I'd like to see Tim and Jermaine go home. That being said, it wouldn't shock me to see John, Alex, Todrick, Andrew or Aaron go home. Only Michael, Casey and Lee are safe.

Monday, March 1, 2010

I'm Going To Vote Die

  • Random Pop Culture:
    • I'm happy at how the hockey game ended up yesterday. It lived up to its massive hype. It was exciting from start to finish and incredibly so at the end. As much as anything, I'm happy that Canada won. They care more about it than we do and it was in their country. They deserved it and I was glad to see the crowd go home happy.
    • As exciting as the hockey game was, 24 is about the opposite. After a strong episode last week, this week's was nearly unwatchable. So bad that I almost gave up the show for good about ten minutes in. It treats its viewers like idiots and I don't buy the big technological thing regarding the bomb and the remote detonator.
    • The first fifteen minutes of How I Met Your Mother were as funny as that show gets. The whole idea of people having people of the other sex "on the hook" was dead on and Barney's history of hot women jobs was great. But right about the middle, it just fizzled and headed straight downhill. Probably because the plot actually came into it. By the end, no laughs. Weird.
    • Speaking of no laughs, I watched the first two episodes of Funny or Die Presents, which should be called Excruciatingly Disappointing or Die Presents or perhaps Slightly Amusing Every So Often But Mostly Awful or Die Presents. It just doesn't work. So far, there have been three legitimately funny skits, all very short, all involving children. "Playground Politics" uses kids on a playground to explain how the USA exploits North Korea and Africa. The funniest was "Space Baby", which I can't find for embedding and isn't all that funny anyway.
  • A Break:
    • Headed to northern New Jersey for work for the next couple of days. Probably going to watch Lost and Idol when I get back on Thursday. Maybe I'll post if something fun happens, but seriously...