Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A Series of Unconnected Thoughts About The New TV Season

I might just check out the premiere of Reaper tonight on the CW.
The premise doesn't appeal to me at all, but some of the talent involved does. Frankly, I think the casting of Ray Wise (Twin Peaks' Leland Palmer) as Satan is simply inspired. Plus, tonight's debut episode is directed by none other than Kevin Smith.
I might take a look at Bionic Woman tomorrow night as well...though I strongly suspect that it won't last out the season. The reason is that, quite simply, revivals of classic TV shows never succeed--at least not on the broadcast networks. The revamped versions of The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, and The Fugitive testify to that. They have been known to work in syndication or on cable and one of the most successful cable revivals has been Battlestar Galactica, with which the new BW shares an exec producer. So perhaps there's a chance that the few episodes that do make it air might actually be worth watching.
The only show you could say that I'm sort of in any way looking forward to seeing is Chiristina Applegate's new sitcom Samantha Who? set to air Mondays on ABC. Applegate plays a woman with amnesia who finds out that before she was a horrible person. (Though I would have to disagree with Applegate's contention in a TV Guide interview that she's never played a bitch before. Generally, Married...With Children's Kelly Bundy was more of a slut than a bitch, but she could be quite bitchy on occasion.) I just hope they follow the lead of NBC's hit Thursday night comedy line-up and do the show without a laugh track. I hate laugh tracks. I also hate How I Met Your Mother, which has nothing to do at all with this post, but I just thought I'd mention it.

Friday, September 21, 2007

New Seasons of Legion and Batman Begin Tomorrow!

I swear that I have not been looking forward this much to a new season of Saturday morning cartoons since I was a kid. Tomorrow brings the season premieres of The Batman and Legion of Super-Heroes on Kids' WB.
Legion cemented its place as one of the best super-hero cartoons ever with its season ending two part adaptation of the Legion's classic battle to stop the Sun-Eater. Every comics fans even passingly familiar with pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths Legion lore knew where this story was going, but watching it get there was a hoot.
My only problem with Legion is that we still haven't seen my favorite Legionnaire, Wildfire, not even in the climactic struggle with the Sun-Eater. I hope this means that the producers have plans for him somewhere down the line.
I also hope that we see more of Matter-Eater Lad.
The Batman is my favorite of all the filmed adaptations of the Dark Knight's adventures so far. Most Batman series or movies have picked up with Batman firmly established as Gotham"s Guardian, complete with Robin and a pretty chummy relationship with Commissioner Gordon and the police. This show, on the other hand, shows us Bats at very early stage of his career, hunted by the police and as distrustful of them, and just about anyone else, as they are of him. We've actually gotten to see the character grow and progress over the course of four seasons. The series overarching story arc has concerned Bruce Wayne learning to trust others enough to let them into his life and work with them. First, he forges a tentative relationship with a police detective, then gains the trust of the commissioner. Next, he takes on a sometime partner in Batgirl before taking in fellow orphan Dick Grayson not only to work with him as Robin but to live in his house. Finally, at the end of last season, we saw him move into the wider community of super-heroes as he joined the Justice League.
From the promos I've seen for the new season, it looks like we're going to be seeing a certain Man of Steel guest starring on The Batman this season. I think it would be cool, don't you, if old Kal-El was reluctant to join the League and it was Bats, of all people, who manages to convince Supes of the advantages of being part of a team.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Gallery Hop

So, next weekend, I, and the group of cartoonist of which I am a part known as Sunday Comix, will be having a gallery show at the Gallery Upstairs over the Surly Girl Saloon in the Short North. It's for one night only, but that night is the night of the monthly Gallery Hop, September 1st, so we should get a few people coming in, and I might even dupe some gullible fool into buying one of my pieces. (Yeah, right!)
Anyway, now that Blogger allows the uploading of videos directly from your computer, I thought I would test out that feature by presenting here a video that I made which previews the pieces that I'll be showing next weekend.

Hope to see you next Saturday!

Monday, August 13, 2007

GOP Has New "Frontrunner"

Even though he laughed off the idea when it was suggested by Chris Wallace (or maybe he was just laughing at Wallace, who is utterly ridiculous) on Fox News Sunday yesterday morning, former Massachussetts governor Mitt Romney, after coming out on top in the first actual, if totally meaningless, vote of the 2008 Presidential election season, the Iowa Non-binding Straw Poll on Saturday, could arguably be considered the current frontrunner for the Republican party's Presidential nomination.
This, to me, is very good news. Nominating Romney is one of the best things the GOP could do...for Democrats. Lots of movement conservatives and Christian right types have serious qualms about Rom's positions, or former position, he claims, on gay rights and abortion, as well as the fact that he's a Mormon. (Perhaps they're wondering if he'd bring a Second and Third or even Fourth Lady to the White House) Romney's nomination would probably cause more of these people to just stay home next November than even Guiliani's could. Hell, I'd bet even the obnoxious and disliked Hillary Clinton could win against the Rominator.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Tribute to Tom Snyder

The great Tom Snyder, one of the great voices, styles and personalities in the history of talk shows, died last Sunday at the age of 71.
Here he is interviewing three members of the cast of the 1950's classic "The Adventures of Superman": Jack Larson (Jimmy Olsen); Bob Shane (Inspector Henderson); and the lovely Noel Neill (the one, true Lois Lane), as well as Gary Grossman, author of the book "Superman: Serial to Cereal", which details the Man of Steel's filmed exploits from the Fleischer Studios cartoons through the Filmation TV cartoons of the 60's.

By the way, I have a copy of that book that I purchased way back in 1977 or '78, and a couple of years ago I got it signed by Ms Neill herself.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Today's Top Story...Well Not Quite, but I Care About It

From today's Columbus Dispatch:
Strickland, Dann seek near-total ban on wagering games
Governor also says he'd veto instant-racing bill

Frankly, this does not bode well for my dream of one day opening a poker room in the South Campus Gateway.

Preview of CBS Fall Schedule

So, I was just looking at CBS' fall schedule and I must say I am not impressed.
True, they did have the good sense to cancel The Class, but they have renewed Rules of Engagement, which I haven't seen, but hear is even worse. True, I probably shouldn't take other reviewers' words for it, but the truth is that I like very little that's on network TV anyway, so I probably wouldn't like this. Besides, it's got David Spade in it, and who really wants to see anything he's in.
One of their new shows is called Moonlight and it concerns a vampire who works as a private investigator. Didn't we see this done before and--most likely---better almost two decades ago as Forever Knight? Just last Thursday I decried the lack of originality in "reality" TV, but why should that genre be any different than the rest of the schedule.
Meanwhile, Cane stars Jimmy Smits and looks like Falcon Crest set on a sugar cane plantation.
Kid Nation strands 40 kids in a ghost town and tasks them with building their own civilization. Obviously inspired by the "bonk-bonk" episode of the original Star Trek. (Actually titled "Miri")
Then there are a couple of new sitcoms that look too lame to even bother dissing. They'll both last one season tops.
The good thing about CBS being the No. 1 network is that most of their schedule will be returning shows and they're only rolling out a handful of these lame turkeys. Poor NBC, which has probably slid into sixth place (out of five) by now will probably have to pretty much start from scratch.
Well, I'm done bitching for now.
See ya later!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

AAAAARGH! It's "Pirate Master"

The second episode of the new "reality" series Pirate Master airs tonight on CBS.
If I were speaking to you now, you would be correct in noting a certain lack of enthusiasm in my tone. I've been turning in early every night this week and see no need to quit tonight.
Originality in "reality" TV these days is about as rare as honesty in a politician or mental stability in a cartoonist. Just about every show since Survivor is just a varitation on the basic premise of a group of strangers gathered together and eliminated one by one until only one remains to walk off with the prize.
Pirate Master, however, is a particularly egregiously derivative. It plays out like a Mulligan's stew of elements borrowed from Survivor, The Amazing Race, Big Brother and the last couple of summer blockbusters starring Johnny Depp. I wouldn't be surprised if the "pirates" are eventually forced to sing while the "captain" and his "mates" judge them.
You get the point. It sucks. No use wasting anymore cyberspace belaboring the point. I'll talk to you tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Question of Sanjaya's "Friend"

We know turn our attention once again to the "Sanjaya Installation" video that popped up on YouTube a couple of weeks ago and which I embedded here last Wednesday. We leave aside the question of the true identity of Sanjaya Malakar/Bill Vendall/John Galt/Whoever and consider instead the gender identity of the person in behind Sanjaya/Vendall.
Ok, I thought upon first seeing this video, and I still believe it to be true, that this was a woman. But many people apparently think it's a man. The poster of the version of the "Sanjaya Installation" that first saw on Entertainment Weekly's site and used here introduces it by saying that "Bill Vendall and his gay friend announce that Sanjaya was a fraud." A comment on another poster's version of the video began. "Those two fags..." (I, of course, read no further. I have enough intolerant thoughts of my own--mostly directed at my co-workers--that I need read no one else's hate speech.)
So, the question is: Effeminate man or androgynous woman; which is it?
Take another look at the clip and tell me what you think.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Re-Living My Childhood via YouTube

Video "Week" continues, because, quite frankly, I just don't feel like writing anything. If I did feel like writing anything, it would be rant about how I hate horses, which would certainly not endear me to my niece Tamara, (They're stupid, ugly, smelly beasts and if I never see another damned one it'll be too soon...) and really has nothing to do with anything, especially not why I took a month off from updating this blog.
Ok, I'm ranting, so let's take a deep breath and turn to You Tube.
YouTube's great for reliving your childhood, especially if, like me, you spent 86% of that childhood plopped in front of a TV set. While poking around the site recently I found the following old commercial for what was at the time my favorite breakfast cereal, endorsed by what is, to this day, one of my favorite cartoon characters.

I really miss Pink Panther Flakes. I love the way they turned the milk pink.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

In Memory of "The Big Banana": Charles Nelson Reilly

Charles Nelson Reilly died last week at age 76 and in the wake of his passing there have been fond remembrances of his years as a regular on Match Game, his role as the real estate agent on The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (which, to be frank, he was the only reason to watch), and even his over the top portrayal of Hoo Doo on Lidsville, but overlooked has been one of his most memorable and bizarre roles of the 1970's, that of the "Big Banana" in commercials for Bic Banana pens.
As part of The Word's Video Week, and as tribute to one of the favorite entertainers of my childhood, here are two examples of some of Reilly's finest work:

Here's the all-singing/all dancing version:

Friday, June 01, 2007

Now For the Educational Portion of our Program...

Video Week continues with my personal favorite of all the "Multiplication Rock" segments:

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Video Week Continues

Yes, it's, as you've seen, Video Week at The Word From On High, mainly because, after a month off, I want to get back into updating the blog, but I still don't really feel like writing anything nor do I really have anything important to say, so I'll just raid You Tube for a couple of more days until some inspiration strikes me or America's Got Talent debuts on NBC.
So..today's video is one of my favorite songs, and I'm sure one of yours, because everybody loves Supertramp.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Who is Sanjaya, Anyway?

So, first this vid shows up, claiming Sanjaya was merely a hoax perpetrated by an art student named Bill Vendall:

Now, another video surfaces, claiming that Bill Vendall is the hoax and Sanjaya is really real.
So, just who is real? Sanjaya? Bill Vendall? Me?
God, I'm so confused!!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

From The Onion--70% of All Praise Sarcastic

To the reporters at Onion News Network who bring us this story, I can only say, "Ooooo! Good job!"

Report: 70 Percent Of All Praise Sarcastic

Monday, April 30, 2007

Impotent...er...IMPORTANT Announcement!!!

On the second day of this year's Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo (its friends call it SPACE), I led a panel on the subject of on-line comics with Ryan Holgerson, Andrea "Sam" McEnaney, and Jared Koon. Even though I organized and moderated the shindig, I'm pretty much a newbie to the whole world of on-line comics, and actually had the least to contribute. I manged to learn quite a bit during the course of the hour, including several sites where I could post my comics. Later in the week, I signed up for all of them, and now Wasted Potential will be posted weekly not only on my WP blog, but on ComicSpace, Drunk Duck.com, and WebComics Nation. ComicSpace contains the entire saga so far, while Drunk Duck and WebComics Nation pick up with last week's episode. I will also be posting Pop Darts on Comic Space soon.
Now there is NO excuse for not following the mildly amusing exploits of cartoonist Norman Burns and his friends!!! The web is mine, and I'll know if you don't read it, so you better surf over there now, sparky!!!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

I Got Nothin'

I'll have to finish up the SPACE report tomorrow, my friends. I have spent most of this day grappling with emotional issues and e-mail, an even as I input this entry, I am missing American Idol. So, I shall have to quickly upload this blather and run across the street to my box-like apartment to catch the rest of the show.
Talk to you tomorrw..

Monday, April 23, 2007

SPACE Wrap-Up: Day One

The Eagle has landed!
The Ray has returned!
And there was much rejoicing!
Greetings, denizens of cyber-space-land, I bring you glad tidings from SPACE (the Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo) to which I boldly went this past weekend, armed only with a couple of hundred copies of Wasted Potential: Fit 2 Print, the mini-comic collecting the Wasted Potential and Pop Darts comic strips that ran in Columbus Alive! and The Atomic Tomorrow.
Except for greeting friends at their tables shortly after arriving and a late day trip around the room to do some trading of comics, I spent most of Saturday at the table. I didn't even get to the Day Prize presentation. (Of course, I announced the Day Prize winner earlier as soon as Dapper Dave Sim himself revealed the recipient's identity on his blog.) I didn't want to go because I was kind of on a roll. I had my sales pitch down and was at my most congenial and beguiling, managing to sell more books on Saturday than I had at any of the previous seven SPACE shows. (Of course, I was only charging 50 cents a book, so I made just about enough to buy myself a pizza.)
After the show closed on Saturday, Mike Lucas and I checked out the new Half Price Books location across from the Graceland shopping center. I picked up an old mass market paperback reprinting classic Steve Ditko/Stan Lee Dr. Strange stories in full color. (That's somewhat unusual, as most mmpb comics were in black & white.) I really like the mass market paperback format for comics. My collection is pretty small because they're really hard to find, but I'll pick them up whenever I come upon them.
After grabbing a bite at the G-land Subway, Mike and I went to a place called MoMo2, where the "SPACE Launch Party" was to be held. We didn't see anyone we knew and decided the place was too loud and annoying, so we split.
I had a couple of Mike's Hard Lemonades, and went to bed.
Tomorrow, I'll tell you how Sunday went.

Friday, April 20, 2007

SPACE Is This Weekend!!! HUZZAH!!!

The 8th Annual Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo, held once again at the spacious Aladdin Shrine Center in the Small Press Comics Capitol of the Known Universe, Columbus, Ohio, begins in less than 24 short hours. The show expands to TWO (2) big days this year, so there's plenty of chance for you to get out there and see what all the buzz on the street has been about.

When you show up, be sure to check out my table, where I shall be offering for public sale for the first time anywhere Wasted Potential: Fit 2 Print, a mini-comics collection of all the Wasted Potential strips that have actually appeared in for real newspapers (although calling The Atomic Tomorrow a "for real" newspaper is kind of stretching the truth just a wee bit.)

If for some reason, you can not make it to the comics event of the year and still wish to own a copy of this limited edition collector's item classic, simply e-mail me at wasted_potential1965@yahoo.com and I shall enlighten you as to how we may work together to make that happen.

I'll have a full report on the show next week.

Idol Gossip: Ding Dong! Hairboy's Gone!

Couldn't post yesterday. The time that I wasn't busy preparing for this weekend's SPACE show was spent in gleeful jumping up and down for joy after Wednesday's American Idol results show!
As our 38th president famously said upon stumbling, literally and metaphorically, into the Oval Office: "Our long national nightmare is over."
Yes, my faith in the judgment of the American people has been, at least partially, restored. (Though I still have no idea why Blake ended up in the bottom 3 rather than Chris Richardson, who gave an utterly ridiculous performance on Tuesday.)
Sanjaya has left the building!!!
I have never been so glad to be wrong. I was really afraid that Lakisha was going home this week, but good taste and sense finally prevailed to send Hairboy packing. (Even though he went out by changing the lyrics of "Something To Talk About" to "Let's give 'em something to talk about; other than hair," the truth is that there really wasn't anything else to discuss about this kid, certainly not his singing talent.)
So, it looks like Simon Cowell will not be replaced by David Hasselhoff next season. Cowell, as you must know, had threatened to quit if Sanjaya actually won. (The idea of the Hoff replacing him is something I thought of just now.) I have only one question for the Cowell: If Hairboy sucked that much, what the bloody @#!% was he doing there in the first place? You, and Squiddly and Diddley--as you referred to Randy and Paula a couple weeks back, sent him to Hollywood, then passed him on to the top 24. If you didn't think he should win, why on Earth did you let him go that far? Had he gone all the way, Si, you three would have had only yourselves to blame. So quit your damned bitching and moaning already, ok?
So, what's next for Sanjaya? What is the next career move for someone who has risen to national, even international, fame by making of himself a public laughingstock? Why, the answer should seem obvious: VH-1!
After spoiling the Idol tour this summer, expect Sanjaya and his hair to either show up on The Surreal Life or in his own show; Life With Sanjaya or something like that.
Well, the sideshow is over now, and the curtain truly rises on the main attraction: The rise of Melinda Doolittle to becoming the next American Idol!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Idol Should "Give Back" To V Tech Victims

Last night, Ryan Seacrest, the Cowell and a couple of the American Idol hopefuls expressed sympathy and solidarity for the victims of Monday's Virginia Tech massacre. I think they should do more and put some money where their mouths are.
Idol's producers should take just a small portion of the cash they are raising with next week's "Idol Gives Back" event and set up a relief fund for the victims and families. If, as Seacrest boasted, one corporate giant is forking over five million bucks, half a mil or a million would be a drop in the bucket, but would help the V Tech victims and families offset medical and funeral expenses as well as further show the concern for alleviating human suffering that this big hoopla is supposed to demonstrate.
Actually, I really do expect Seacrest to announce just this type of plan on the results show tonight, and I'll be quite disappointed if he does not.

Idol Speculation: Lakisha Will Exit Tonight.

With little over an hour, as I type this, until tonight's American Idol results show, I thought I'd offer some predictions.
Safe this week:
Phil--this was his best performance yet. If he can keep this up, he might challenge Blake for a spot in the top 3.
Blake--another fine performance, and great job of finding a country song suited to his style.
Jordin--an amazing performance. Simon is right: if she can keep up that level of intensity, she's got a real shot at the Idol title.
Melinda--Her performance was HOT! I'd never heard of the song she chose, or the artist who recorded it, and as far as I'm concerned it will forever be associated with Melinda Doolittle.
The Bottom Three:
Sanjaya--What can I even say? He's Sanjaya, for Pete's sake! What the bloody hell is he even still doing there?
Chris--His nasally, twangy vocal sounded almost like a deliberate parody of country music.
Lakisha--Her weakest performance yet.
Probably Headed Home Tonight:
Lakisha. I've compared her in the past to Season 5's Mandisa, and it was country week that proved Mandisa's undoing last season. I think we've seen the last of Kiki until the tour.
Check back tomorrow to witness the unfailing accuracy of my precognitive powers.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Be Back Soon. Hold Tight

Been away a little longer than I anticipated. It's too bad I don't do a personal blog as I'd have a lot to write about. Actually, it consists mostly of failed attempts to hook up with women, which really aren't all that interesting, even to me. I'd be interested if I'd succeeded. Anyway, I'll be back in a couple of days.
And, for no good reason at all, here's a picture of Sanjaya.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Taking A Break, Lest I Burnout...

Well, after that last post, it must be pretty apparent that I am scraping the bottom of the barrel here. So, I think that it is time to step a way for a few days from the daily grind of posting my insane thoughts on this blog and take time to devote to other areas of my life that I have let slide. I will probably be back next Thursday for my weekly Idol update, so I won't be away too long. See ya real soon. Why? Because we love you!


There is an observation that I've carried around in the dank and musty backrooms of my mind for some time now, but have never shared it with anyone else because it happens to concerns pornography. Now, I realize that as a healthy adult male who is not, and has not been for a looooong time, in a relationship or otherwise "gettin' any," I really need not be ashamed that, on occasion, I's likes me some PORN!
So anyway, what I've noticed is this: As I've surfed through the world of porn sites here on the Internet (don't be expecting any links), I've encountered depictions of just about every possible combination of two (or more) human beings in a sexual situation. White guys with white chicks, black guys with white chicks, white guys with black chicks, white chicks with white or black chicks (the appeal of which, to most men, remains inexplicable, yet undeniable) and others too perverse to mention here. What I have never seen, however, is a black man having sex with a black woman, and I've often wondered why that is. Why, in a realm where it is not uncommon or unusual to see movies of a man fellating a pre-operative transsexual, is this seemingly the only taboo? What does it say about our society? Isn't that really a question best left to sociologists? More importantly, why the hell am I spending so much time thinking abut it?
God...I really need a girlfriend!

Covington's "Different World" in a World of It's Own.

You know, I'm not exactly sure how old Season5 American Idol finalist Bucky Covington actually is, but I know he isn't yet even 30, and probably not even 25. In his debut single, "A Different World," which is, to my disappointment, not the theme from the 198o's Cosby Show spin-off, Covington croons about a redneck's idealized version of what seems to be the 1950's, when times were simpler and, once presumes, better. It's a backwoods paradise where moms smoked and drank, cars had no seatbelts, and there were only three channels on TV, and Covington sings about it as if were his childhood that he's describing. That may be the case for whoever actually wrote the song, but the Buckster is, as I stated above, in about his mid-20's and thus came of age in the 1980's and 90's where the dangers of smoking and drinking were well documented, seatbelts were nearly universal and their use mandated in many states, and cable channels proliferated.
However, Covington has become a stronger singer than he was back in his Idol days, and "A Different World" really isn't such a bad song if you don't think too much about it--which I suppose is true for all country music (and the majority of rock and pop, too, to be fair.)

In Jeopardy! Once More

(This is essentially a continuation of one of my posts from Saturday)
Now, last night's game was how Jeopardy! oughta be played.

Challenger Brendan looked for a while as if he were going to run away with it, as he had more than twice as much money as the other two. Late in the Double Jeopardy! round however, Doug, the returning champion staged a comeback and at the end of the round only $200 separated them with Samantha in third place and with seemingly no chance of winning.
Going into Final Jeopardy! the scores were:
All three wagered heavily, with both challengers risking everything and Doug putting up all but about $200. Only Samantha came up with the correct response to the final clue, and when Doug's wager was revealed she let out a startled "Oh, My GOD!" as she realized that she had come from an extremely distant third place to become the next Jeopardy! champion.
It may not have been "historic," but it was a quintessential Jeopardy! moment, and a lot more fun to watch than any tie.

The Quotable Simon Cowell: Season 6; Top 10

To Lakisha: "Love those boots. Now you're 30 years younger this week."

After "going to commercial" music started playing during his critique of Chris Sligh: "I haven't finished yet. Not the Oscars."
To Gina: "The transformation from 3 or 4 weeks ago to tonight is literally chalk and cheese." Now, I understood what he meant, but, to avoid anyone else misunderstanding, he probably should have gone with a more classic alchemical metaphor, such as lead into gold.
To Sanjaya: "Well, I presume there was no mirror in your dressing room tonight....I don't think that it matters anymore what we say. I genuinely don't. I think you are in your own universe and if people like you--Good Luck!"
To Blake: "Where you've got to be careful here is...is because you're in this Chris Daughtry zone at the moment where you're doing your own thing. You've got to be careful, though, not to become too indulgent, and, as Randy said, it's a bit boring."
When asked which of the Bottom 2 would likely be going home: " I think it's Bye-Bye, Curly."

Idol Gossip: Time To Make A New Prediction

The biggest surprise of last night's American Idol results show, at least for me, was that Gwen Stefani's performance didn't suck. Being well on my way to becoming a grumpy old fart, I'm not all that hip to the sounds that those crazy kids are digging these days. A couple of months ago, however, I happened to be watching some music awards show, which one I honestly can't remember, where Stefani did an absolutely awful song that, for no apparent reason, incorporated bits of "The Lonely Goatherd" from The Sound of Music. After suffering through that, I was utterly dreading having to endure another Stefani song and even considered skipping the show except for the last five minutes just to see who got booted. However, the song Stefani sang last night was actually listenable, and even kind of good. It sort of reminded of Madonna around the time of her True Blue album.
It's funny that both guys who took on Police songs ended up in the bottom three. Phil's "Every Breath You Take" really was his best performance yet, but I could tell as soon as Chris Sligh finished his rendition of "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" that I'd soon have to amend my prediction of the winner. Perhaps Sligh should have used Sanjaya's hair stylist.
I've read that The Cowell has stated he will quit the show if Sanjaya wins. He should be careful about saying things like that, as some might see that as reason to vote for Hair Boy. Y'know, it might be worth the kid winning just to see if Si would actually do it.
Anyway, now for my updated prediction. My choice of Chris Sligh as a likely winner was actually based on a not so slightly cynical assumption that the best singer could not possibly win. However, despite Hair Boy's continued presence, it seems that the voters might surprise me and actuall throw the contest to the most talented vocalist. If that's going to be the case, then the winner will definitely be Melindal Doolittle.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Sad Songs Say So Much

It is a popular cliche that cliches are cliches because they are true.
That is to say that most, if not all, cliches are merely universal truths of human existence repeated over and over to the point of triteness. One such truth is that emotional pain can often inspire great art; or suicide, which will not seem as unrelated to anything I'm about to write by the time we get to the end of this.
A couple of nights ago, I was listening to Fleetwood Mac's 1977 masterpiece Rumours, which is what inspired all this deep (for me, at least) thought about the nature of cliches and the genesis of art. Break-ups and divorces are a particularly fertile breeding ground for both heartache and great music, especially when the couple (or couples) splitting up are in the same band. Rumours stands as quitessential proof of this thesis.
Written and recorded at a time when the band's two couples, Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks and John and Christine McVie, were both deep into the process of disintegrating, the songs on Rumours are sad, bitter, bittersweet, and, ultimately, hopeful, sometimes all at once. Rereading that sentence, it seems odd that a project this emotionally intense and personal would become the top selling record of the 1970's, yet the group did couch their despair in the catchy, poppy melodies and flawless harmonies that by then had become their trademark.
Another example of what I'm going on about here is ABBA. Until late in their career, the Swedish quartet was known for light, fluffy, and, frankly, not very good, pop singles. it wasn't until the two married couples who comprised the group simultaneously divorced that ABBA began making music that mattered, or was, at the very least, worth listening to. Songs like "The Winner Takes It All" and, most especially, "Knowing Me, Knowing You" are such haunting and beautiful expressions of melancholy and regret that it is difficult to fathom that they came from the same outfit responsible for "Dancing Queen."
I will assume that you are beginning to hope for some sort of point to all this, but as I wrote the first draft of this piece in my spiral notebook while I was listening to Rumours, I honestly didn't think there was one--except for me just wanting to share my not so original observations about the great album that I was listening to right that moment.
Or perhaps the point was that it is true, and thus, to not so neatly bring this rambling mess full circle, a cliche that great art and commercial success need not be mutually exclusive.
Or maybe I just felt an odd need to justify the fact, before the entire world, or at least the five people who read this blog, that I truly, and without any trace of faux hip "irony," really dig ABBA.
Actually, that's not it at all. None of it. It finally occurred to me that what this shambling monster of a blog post is about is the choices that we all, each and every one of us, must make many times in our lives; choices about how we deal with heartache and pain and loss. We can either pick ourselves up, go on with our lives and try to make something positive of the experience--such as, say, the sixth best selling album ever--or we can give up; stop taking taking chances for fear of being hurt again and, in essence, stop living.
In a WHAM! video from the 1980's, george Michael is wearing one of those oversized T-shirts with giant black letters that were inexplicably fashionable at the time decorated with the phrase Choose LIFE. It has been taken by many, and may even have been intended by Michael, as an anti-abortion statement, but I choose to think that it means pretty much the same thing that, ultimately, is the elusive "point" of this piece:
Don't Give Up.
Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow.
Choose LIFE!

Welcome To My Life: Ray Gets "Personal"

In a comment a few weeks ago, a friend of mine said I should write less about Pop Culture and more about my life in this blog, to which I responded:
"I'm not even interested in my life. And more people are interested in pop culture than would be interested in my life, and when I started this blog, I set out to do a blog that people were going to read...which, to a small extent, has worked, as I do have a small but loyal group of regular readers. "
Yet, I'm sort of beginning to rethink that view a little after reading, within the space of less than two weeks, all four books by Chuck Klosterman, Pop Culture columnist for SPIN and Esquire magazines. I'll probably write an in-depth overview of Klosterman's oeuvre at some later date, but what is relevant for the purposes of this ramble is that the Klosterman book that I enjoyed the most was the one that happened to be, when all is said and done, the least about Pop Culture and mostly about Chuck Klosterman.
Some of you have been reading this blog for over a year, and some of you have actually met me, while some of my readers may have come to feel that they know me a little from my writing and the glimpses of my life that I have let slip. The question is, do you--does anyone besides "Cricket," the slightly disturbed young woman who left the above referenced comment---really want to read about such things as the fight I had with my sister this weekend (which was 86.5% my fault) or my hopeless infatuation with the chick who works at the convenience store where I buy cigarettes? I have written about such things in the past, when I can tie them into whatever bogus and poorly thought out point I am flailing to make or to explain why I didn't post on a given day or why what I did post makes absolutely no sense, but it's generally something I try to avoid. However, maybe The Word From On High might be more interesting if I injected a bit more of myself into it.
...except that I already do.
After all, these are my opinions and my thoughts and feelings on the what I read and see and hear. So, even though I'm not publicly flogging myself on this blog for my utter spinelessness in failing to ask the aforementioned convenience store chick out or regaling you with pointless details about my job or what I had for lunch, when you get right down to it, The Word is already all about me. In fact, you could actually say that it's all about my so-called personal life, because, quite honestly, until and unless I actually do get up the intestinal fortitude to invite the cigarette selling chick to have coffee with me sometime, writing this blog IS my personal life. Everything I watch on TV, all the music I listen to, every movie I may go to, and every book and graphic novel I read, every piker hand I fold, and even every conversation I have with a drunken stranger in a parking lot is potential fodder for a future entry.
So, it may be kind of pathetic if you really take any time to dwell on it, but....Welcome To My Life.
Tomorrow, I'm writing about ABBA!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

It's All About The DVD

New Kid's Meal toys have arrived at your neighborhood Wendy's. Once again based on last year's remake of E.B. White's beloved children's classic Charlotte's Web, the latest premiums are a series of stuffed toys, 12 in all, depicting characters from the film, timed to coincide with the release of the DVD.
If you ask me, the toys promoting the DVD release are waaay cooler than the ones the lamo "action figures" distributed by the fast food chain at the time of the film's theatrical rollout. This pretty much reflects a trend that began with the introduction of home video and has accelerated with the rise of DVDs over the last decade: It's all about the DVD. That's where the real profit lies these days. It's almost as if the theatrical run is merely a teaser for the flick's eventual entry into the home video market.
In fact, I'll bet that certain studio execs would be willing to skip the theaters altogether if weren't for the stigma still attached to the phrase "direct to video" Those words are generally associated with low budget movies that just aren't good enough to send to theaters. The movie companies themselves have fostered this perception by releasing such stinkers as the first Punisher movie, the one with Dolph Lundgren in the title role, and the early 90's Captain America film starring Matt Salinger, "direct to video."
However, this prejudice to "direct to video" seems to be waning in recent years, thanks to an increase in higher quality titles. I can foresee a time, perhaps in what's left of my lifetime, when multiplexes will be as few and far between as drive-in theaters are today.

Idol Speculation: Top 10 Round-Up

As of this week, American Idol is down to ten contestants. I've already picked who I think is going to win, and here is my run-down of the rest of the Top 10.
Will Win: Chris Sligh
Should Win: Lakisha Jones
Who I Want to Win: Melinda Doolittle
Will Have Most Successful Post-Idol Debut CD: Blake Lewis
Destined for Longest, and ultimately Most Successful Post-Idol Career: Jordin Sparks
Most Likely to Pursue a Marginally Successful Acting Career: Chris Richardson
Most Likely to End Up Co-Hosting a Local Morning TV Show: Haley Scarnato
Most likely to be Singing in a Bar Band Well into Her 50's: Gina Glockson
Most Likely to Go Back to Exactly What He Was Doing Before Idol: Phil Stacy
Most Likely to Spend the Rest of His Miserable Life in a Pathetic Attempt to Recapture this Fleeting Moment of Youthful Glory: Sanjawa Malakar

Putting Himself in "Jeopardy!"

So, if you ask me, Scott Weiss kind of screwed himself.
Weiss, you'll remember, unless you live here in Columbus where the show was preempted by the damned NCAA tournament, was the returning champion on the Friday, March 16 edition of Jeopardy! that ended in the show's first ever three way tie. Going into Final Jeopardy! Weiss was leading with $13,400 and his two opponents were tied at $8,000. As Alex Trebek stated on Monday's show, Weiss apparently overheard the host tell an audience member in answer to her question that they had never before had a three way tie. Sensing that the other two would likely bet everything, he bet just enough to result in a three way tie if all of them gave the correct response to the final clue.
If I were in charge over there, I would've thrown the game out and done it over, but apparently there is nothing in the rules of Jeopardy! that says you actually have to play to win. However, the idea that Weiss' bet was calculated to "make history" and extended his proverbial fifteen minutes of fame lessens the impact of the so-called "historic" moment. In the end, of course, his stunt worked against him, as he lost the rematch. Serves him right, I say.
Anyway, for those of you in Columbus or elsewhere who haven't seen it, here, courtesy of YouTube, is last Friday's "historic" Final Jeopardy!:

Friday, March 23, 2007

Lip-Syncing to Suzanne Vega

I honestly have no urge to write today. Well, actually I do. I want to write about a conversation I just had--more accurately, a monologue I just listened to--outside the fast food restaurant where I work, but I need some time to figure out what it all means and what I want to say about it and if I want to say it here on The Word From On High. Besides, I'm tired and a bit depressed and anything I'd write would probably devolve into an angry rant about what a pack of ruthless bitches all my ex-girlfriends are, and nobody really cares anyway. So, in lieu of any startling insights or angry rants from me, here, from YouTube, is a hot chick lip-syncing to Suzanne Vega:

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Good News/ Bad News

The Good News (at least for fans of comics artist Chris Ware and his comic book series Acme Novelty Library, as well, I presume, for Mr. Ware himself): Tonight Showtime debuts the video version of the acclaimed National Public Radio documentary This American Life (Good News for fans of the show and for host Ira Glass). One of the segments, an unusual childhood memory, is visually accompanied by animation by Ware. TV Squad did have a link to the video, but said segment is currently "unavailable."
The Bad News: The oddest of a collection of oddballs, Calvert DeForest, a.ka. Larry "Bud" Melman, the odd looking, odd sounding, odd acting and just plain damned odd little man transformed by his appearances on Late Night with David Letterman into the most unlikely Pop Culture icon of the 1980's, died Monday night at the age of 85, reports Mark Evanier on his blog News From ME. For more on the death, and life, of this comedy savant, check out his Wikipedia page.

The Quotable Simon Cowell: Season 6; Top 11

After Paula suggested that nervous contestants should picture Simon undressed: "I'm asking Paula: Is that what you think about?"
To Haley: "You naughty little thing!...I think people are going to talking about a lot more than your singing tonight." Obviously a reference to the outfit she was barely wearing.
Responding to boos from the audience: "Sorry. Sorry for having an opinion." I don't think he really is sorry.
Ryan (sitting with Lakisha after her performance): "Hey, Cowell, what don't you like about this (Lakisha's) dress?"
Simon: "Your department."
To Jordan: "You sang it beautifully, but I feel like jumping off a bridge.....It was soooo gloomy."
To Sanjawa (indicating a young girl in the audience in tears): "I think the little girl's face says it all." Of course, she was actually happy about hearing Sanjawa sing. She and all her little friends are probably who vote for him every week. Shouldn't they be in bed? It is a school night, after all.
Criticizing Paula's advice to Gina: "All this 'feel free' nonsense; that's not advice. You've got to sing well. That's what this competition should be about."
To Melinda: "Melinda, I have to ask you a question. Are you really as nice as you seem?" I think she is, and although I may have predicted that Chris Sligh will win, the one I truly want to win is Melinda Doolittle.

Idol Gossip: Listen To Lulu!

Haley Scarnato set the tone for this week's American Idol performances right off the bat on Tuesday night. I loved everything about it: the song, the dancing, and especially the outfit. (I now wish to amend a statement I made two weeks ago: As of now, Haley is the Idol hopeful I most wish to see topless photos of on the web.)
In retrospect, Stephanie Edwards probably did deserve to leave this week. Simon was pretty much dead on about her "losing her soul," and all the other contestants kicked up their performances to a whole new level, except for Melinda and Lakisha, who were already there. This wasn't Lakisha's best performance, however. She probably should have listened to Lulu and done the other song she was considering. (That's this week's moral: Always listen to Lulu!) Even Sanjawa showed a small glimmer of something resembling actual talent in his rendition of the Kinks' "You Really Got Me." He may now be good enough to perform at a high school homecoming dance. If, that is, it's a small town rural school with a very small entertainment budget, kind of like the one I attended way back in the misty depths of the 1980's.
In Sanjawa's case, not going with the other song he was considering, Herman's Hermits' "I'm Into Something Good," was the best move. With that song, he most likely would have given his standard weak showing and gone home last night. I still cannot see him going much further.
I thought it was funny that at the end of last night's results show, Seacrest said, "Coming up next...Brad Garrett's show," as if he couldn't be bothered to remember the name of the steaming pile of possum dung. A promo during Idol touted the show as "Wednesday's No. 1 comedy." Big, fat, greasy deal! It was on after the most popular show on television. A half hour close up shot of my ass would get big ratings in that time slot. Ratings prove nothing, the show still sucks.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Day Prize Winner Announced!!

On his very own blog, independent comics artist/writer/publisher, creator of the long-running comic Cerebus, and full time nut Dave Sim yesterday announced the recipient of the 2006 Howard E. Day Memorial Prize, more popularly referred to as The Day Prize. Said winner shall receive a nifty commemorative plaque and an even niftier cheque (Sim's Canadian, after all) for $500 at a ceremony to be held during the 2007 Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo (organizer Bob Corby doesn't mind if you just call it SPACE) on Saturday, April 21, 2007.
So, without further ado....this year's Day Prize Recipient is:
ChemistryBy Steve Peters (published by Awakening Comics)
Congratulations, Steve. I'll see you---and you, my loyal readers---at SPACE!

One Month Until SPACE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So, does everyone know what today is?

No, not the first day of Spring! Today is exactly one month before the fabulous, frantic and fun-filled 2007 edition of the Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo, referred by hipsters and those in the know as SPACE. The show expands to two days for the first time this year, meaning you will have the opportunity to wander breathlessly about the vast multi-purpose room of the Aladdin Shrine Center on Steltzer Rd in Columbus, Ohio, admiring and, we hope, purchasing, the work of a variety of independant comics creators, on both Saturday, April 21 and Sunday the 22nd.
The show will also features numerous panel discussion, held in a secluded room off a dimly lit back hallway, as well as the presentation of the Howard Eugend Day Memorial Prize, or simply The Day Prize, by erstwhile Cerebus creator Dave Sim.
With only a month left, my own preparations for the festival must now kick into high gear. I am in the process of organizing two panels, and I am planning to publish a collection of the Wasted Potential strips that ran in the Atomic Tomorrow and Columbus Alive! as well as the Pop Darts strips from TAT. Despite all the running around and banging of my head against walls that all of that entails, I shall endeavor to still find the time to post here my prodigious and eagerly anticipated wisdom.
Good day and I look forward to seeing you all at SPACE.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Latest "IDOL" Non-Controversy: What WOULD Jesus Sing (If he were on IDOL)?

`Idol' Contestant's Faith Questioned

I do not even have the time to go into all that pisses me off about that article. Mostly it is the narrow minded view that those so-called "Christians" hold of how a "Christian" is supposed to act and even what kind of music they're supposed to like. That Chris Sligh isn't standing up on the American Idol stage every week actively trying to save the souls of America's great unwashed masses of heathens and liberals doesn't make him any less of a "Christian." Frankly, most of the so-called "Christian Rock" that I've heard has been pretty lame, and Sligh wouldn't even have made into the Top 12 if he'd sang that garbage. Moreover, I don't need anyone, even if he is the next American Idol, trying to force his lifestyle on me, just as I wouldn't wish my life on my worst enemy.
C'mon, people, leave him alone. Let him win Idol, and get his recording contract. Then you can be pissed off if he doesn't make exactly the CD that you believe that that your narrow minded god would want him to make. But by that time, I doubt he'll care.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Marvel Comics' Mighty Joe Robertson: An Overdue Appreciation

Much has been made of Marvel's Black Panther, introduced by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in Fantastic Four #52, being the comics' first Black super-hero. (He is sometimes referred to as the first African American super-hero, though this is incorrect. The Panther was T'Challa, a prince of the fictional African land of Wakanda, and not any kind of American. The first African-American hero is most likely The Falcon, introduced by Lee in Captain America and artist Gene Colan some years later) I believe, however, that the most important Black character introduced during Marvel's Silver Age was, in fact, Joe Robertson, a supporting character in The Amazing Spider-Man, where he served as city editor of The Daily Bugle, the fictitious newspaper for which Spidey took photos in his Peter Parker identity.
No fanfare or alliterative cover blurbs accompanied the character's debut in, coincidentally I'm sure, ASM #52. His first appearance in that issue lasted all of two panels and he was not even formally introduced to Peter Parker until two issues later. Following this rather unceremonious, to say the least, introduction, "Robbie," as he was known around the newsroom, soon became a mainstay of the wall-crawler's supporting cast. he was most often portrayed as the voice of reason gently countering Bugle publisher J. Jonah Jameson's frequent anti-Spider-Man rants.
You may be asking yourself what's significant about such a fairly minor character. If he were introduced in 2007, the answer would be "nothing." But you must remember that the character came on the scene in 1967. I was a time when Black characters in any entertainment were a rarity and positive portrayals of such characters nearly nonexistant. I remember watching a show on the cable channel TV Land a while back in stars of Julia, a sitcom that aired at about the time we're discussing here, reported recieving death threats because their show dared to feature an African American woman as its title character.
Thus, when you consider the media landscape into which Joe "Robbie" Robertson quietly stepped, you can begin to see my point. Here, almost unnoticed in the putative "children's" medium of super-hero comic books, Lee and artist John Romita were presenting to their youthful readers one of the few positive characterizations of an African American male available in any medium. He was no criminal or junkie, as Black men were most often depicted, if depicted at all, in the media of the day. Rather, he was an educated professional, avuncular family man. His job at the Bugle put him in a position of authority over white people, including the comic's titular star, which believe was a first for a Black character in any medium. Moreover, Robbie is treated as a friend, confidante and, most importantly, equal by Jameson, the newspaper's rich, white publisher.
Unfortunately, when histories or analyses of the Black characters in comics are written, Joe Robertson generally goes unmentioned. Much like the way character himself is portrayed in the comics, Robbie's impact on the medium was quiet but powerful.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

TV History Made Last Night--and Ray Misses It!

God, I hate the friggin' NCAA Tournament. Well, I hate most sports, but that stupid basketball tournament most of all, and here's why:
I hate it because it pre-empts my game shows. Last year, you may remember, when Wheel of Fortune got knocked off Channel 10 in favor of basketball, I turned over to Access Hollywood on Channel 4 where I caught an interview with Marie Osmond which I subsequently wrote about here and ended up pissing off some anonymous fan. (If you didn't read this great moment in blogging, click here and check it out.)
Jeopardy! airs on 10 just before Wheel on most non-March Madness weekday evenings. I've seen a few ties on the show over the years where two contestants end up with the same dollar amount after Final Jeopardy and and both come back as returning champions to face off on the next show. Every time this happens, I wonder to myself what would happen if there were ever a three way tie. Would they actually bring everyone back while all the other prospective contestants cool their heels backstage?
Well, apparently this had never happened in either the Art Fleming or Alex Trebek incarnations of the show over its entire four decade history, and wouldn't you know that it would have to go and happen on last night's show, which, of course, I didn't get to see because of the damned idiot basketball tournament! All three contestants ended with the somewhat modest (by recent Jeopardy! standards) total of $16,000 and, indeed, the next wave of challengers will have to wait for another episode while these three return on Monday's show to settle things a tad more decisively.
I don't really follow any sport, so I'm not sure, but there aren't any games on Monday, are there? If I couldn't see game show history being made, will I at least be able to see the aftermath?

Friday, March 16, 2007

"Old Christine": The "Curse" Continues

So, another relatively new sitcom that I finally got around to watching, and immediately wished that I hadn't, is CBS' Monday night debacle The New Adventures of Old Christine starring Seinfeld and Saturday Night Live alumnus Julia Louis-Dreyfus, which returned to the Eye Network's line-up this week after a far too brief hiatus.
After Dreyfus won her Emmy last fall, it was said that the success of Old Christine meant the end of the so-called "Seinfeld Curse." The Seinfeld cast was supposedly cursed, you may remember, since every show they did after Seinfeld failed. Those shows failed, however, not because they were supernaturally doomed, but because they were crap. By that reasoning, the "Seinfeld Curse" has not ended, for Old Christine sucks.
When Dreyfus won that Emmy, I sort of suspected that it had less to do with the artistic merits of her performance than the fact that, of the actresses nominated, hers was the only show returning for the new season and which could actually use the win to help boost ratings. After watching the show, I'm forced to conclude that must have been the case, as nothing about this train wreck of a TV show is even remotely worthy of any sort of award.
Old Christine is trite and horribly unfunny, with not one even remotely likable character in the whole ensemble. Even the kid's a jerk. Frankly, if I want to watch unlikable idiots bickering about trivial crap, I'll attend a family reunion. That would even be funnier than Old Christine. My brother is usually good for a couple of laughs, especially if he's been drinking.
To be honest, the entirety of CBS venerable Monday night comedy block, once home to such classics as M*A*S*H, One Day At A Time, and Murphy Brown is now just a wasteland of unwatchable unfunny garbage. The network might as well just scrap it and replace the whole mess with reality shows.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

"'Til Death"--Let's Hope It Comes Soon For Awful Sitcom

Until last night, I had not watched the new Fox sitcom 'Til Death, starring Brad Garrett. The promos that aired before it premiered last fall seemed to promise another unfunny, unoriginal sitcom about a bickering married couple in the vein of Married, With Children. Perhaps I wasn't the only one avoiding the show, as Fox last night "rewarded" it with the post American timeslot, hoping to trick people too lazy to even pick up the damned remote, like me, into watching it.
Well, I won't fall for that trick again. Frankly, the show is so awful that I'm not going to waste time writing a review, since listing everything that I don't like about this lump of stinky crap would take more time than I have available right now. I'll just sum it up in five words: It sucks; I hate it.
However, I suppose it is preferable to another edition of Unanimous, the utterly heinous "reality" show that followed the Idol results show last spring. (If you have, mercifully, forgotten about this particular pile of excrement, here's my review from last year.)

The Quotable Simon Cowell: Season 6; Top 12

Opening remarks: "This stage changes everybody, Ryan. It's a whole new ballgame." ...and Melinda and Lakisha are still hitting Grand Slam homers every time.
To Brandon: "You came over, if you don't mind me saying, as a background singer for a background singer." Mind? Gee, Si, why would anyone mind?
Exchange with Seacrest after Melinda complains about having to wear high heels on stage:
Ryan: "Simon, any advice about the high heels?"
Simon: "You should know, Ryan."
Ryan: "Stay out of my closet."
Simon: "Come out."
Ryan: "This is about the Top 12, not your wishes."
Seems to me that Seacrest got the better of that exchange.
To Melinda: "You remind of a young Gladys Knight."
To Chris Sligh: "I would keep your glasses on because I think it's you." Plus your eyes get all squinty and that's just not attractive at all, not to mention a bit creepy.
To Sanjaya: "When you hear a wail in Beverly Hills, that is where Diana Ross is watching this. She's gonna freak when she hears this.....The only similarity is the hairstyle." Oddly, the female judge is the only one who doesn't seem obscessed with the kid's hair.
To Chris Richardson: "Remembering that this is a singing competition, take you out the equation with your charm and personality. Listen to the vocal. I thought it was dreadful."

Idol Gossip: Uh...er...Line, please?

Doubtless thou shalt nevermore cast doubt upon my peerless powers of prognostication in the wake of last night's American Idol results show. Did I not fearlessly forecast that Sanjaya was safe this week and one of those who flubbed their lyrics on Tuesday would depart? Of course, the prediction was so Nostrodamusishly (yes, I realize it's not a "real" word) vague that any one of three people could have been voted off and I could have claimed to have correctly foreseen it. Hopefully, the judges were right about the mysterious epidemic of amnesia being the result of nerves resulting from moving to the bigger stage and larger audience and by next week those who remain will be over it.
Simon repeatedly emphasizes that Idol is a "singing competition," and even spoke of how Chris Richardson's vocal performance was awful if you "...take you out the equation with your charm and personality..." The thing is, Si, that this is television and charm and personality go a long way. If you really want Idol to be only about singing talent, then you should broadcast it on radio, or maybe have the contestants perform behind a blue screen on which is projected silent clips from Sailor Moon cartoons. (?!) I stand by my prediction of the eventual winner, and will until Chris Sligh gets voted off, but if vocal talent were the only thing that determined the winner of Idol, Mandisa or Chris Daughtry would have won last season and this season's finale would be the Melinda and Lakisha show. But I don't think that's going to happen.
However, I think that even if neither of those two win, they will go far in the competition and eventually be bigger stars and have longer careers than whoever does win.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Random Bits of Randomness

Here are some other stories that, as they say on TV, we are following here in the Word From On High newsroom:
As far as I know, Captain America, much like Generalissimo Francisco Franco, is still dead.
Van Halen, whether or not they really belonged there, could, for the most part, not even be bothered to show up to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The eponymous Van Halen brothers and original lead singer "Diamond" David Lee Roth skipped the shindig, leaving only lame substitute Sammy Hagar and the other guy in the band who's name no one ever remembers (and I remember the name of the "other guy in Wham!") to accept the accolades.
Viacom is suing Google and its recently aquired subsidiary YouTube for copyright infringement. I want to find out more about this story before I formulate any opinions for public consumption.
I'll have my full American Idol update for the week in a day or two, but I think it's safe to say that Sanjaya Malakar, who belongs in Idol's Top 12 as much as Van Halen belongs in the Rock Hall of Fame, is safe for another week. His vocals may have been weak and totally overwhelmed by the band and background singers, but at least he remembered his lyrics onstage. Look for one of the three or four amnesiacs to check out tonight.
More and these stories and others as they develop.

Warning To Dems: Fred Thompson Could Be Serious Threat

This is an outrage!

I just ran a search on Google for blog entries about Fred Thompson's non-announcement that he might just possibly consider thinking about running for President next year, and my entry from Sunday wasn't among the results....
There are, however, thousands of results, both in blogs and other news outlets. Thompson's half-assed declaration of intent to seek the Presidency is being treated as if it were real news, which certainly wouldn't be happening if he were just a former Senator from Tennessee and not a bona-fide TeeVee star. Many conservative bloggers seem to be throwing their support behind the latest non-candidate, hailing him as the only true conservative in the race that he's not yet in and as the GOP's best chance to retain the White House.
That last part I agree with. And this is why the Democrats can not, must not nominate Hilary Clinton. Thompson's fame from Law & Order may just be enough to catapult him to the Presidency no matter what his politics, because people tend to feel that they know and like actors who they see every week on TV. (Actually, with the hours of L&O reruns available on basic cable, it's more like several times a day.) Meanwhile, a huge chunk of the country really, really does not like Hilary. Given that, she stands very little chance of winning in the general election against someone who isn't a beloved star of a beloved TV series, and against someone who is, she's doomed. Doomed, I tell you.
Seriously, this is a call to the base of the Democratic Party to wake the hell up and smell the friggin' coffee while there is still time...Hilary can not and will not win next year, especially if she ends up going up against Fred Thompson. Do not let your best chance to restore some sanity to how this nation is run slip through your fingers! Please, I urge you, Democrats, to nominate Barack Obama or, my personal favorite, John Edwards. Anybody---For the Love of All That Is Holy--ANYBODY BUT HILARY!!!! (Ok, maybe not Dennis Kucinich, though. He's kind of a little nuts.)

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

More Rock Hall of Fame Ranting

Here's another quote from later in that USA Today article I cited yesterday. This wonderfully idiotic nugget of crap comes from someone introduced to the reader as "New York writer Roger Wade," who contends: "This is supposed to be a hall of fame, and denying both the fame and influence of Rush and Kiss makes the institution look ridiculous."
Wade is being entirely too literal minded and completely missing the whole point. (Maybe he should come to Columbus and write for The Other Paper.) Perhaps he would prefer that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame change its name to the Rock and Roll Hall of Achievement or the Rock and Roll Hall of Accomplishment. Those are what the "Hall of Fame" concept, whether it be the Rock Hall, or the Baseball or Football Halls of Fame or whatever "Hall of Fame" you care to cite as an example, is meant to recognize and honor. Being popular and influential is not an achievement or an accomplishment. As most people learned in high school, any idiot can be popular and influential. Nobody gets inducted into a "Hall of Fame" just for being famous. (Unless it were the Fame Hall of Fame, which would honor people who are famous simply for being famous, like Paris Hilton. It would be the only Hall of Fame in which any tangible accomplishment would actually count against you.)
Now, once again I ask you, besides selling a lot of records, what did Van Halen really contribute to history of Rock and Roll or its growth as an art form? Not much of anything, to tell the truth, and that's why I was against their induction into the Hall of Fame. However, they're in now, and Poison (who actually aren't eligible 'til 2012) can't be far behind.
Meanwhile, according to a sidebar to the USA Today piece, Guns N' Roses also comes eligible for induction into the Rock Hall in five more years. (God, has it really been two decades since Appetite For Destruction came out? I feel old all of a sudden.) Given my railing about Van Halen's admission, I bet you're thinking that I'm going to say that GN'R should be left out of the Hall. But no, I'm all in favor of letting them in.
Sure, to be totally honest, Guns N' Roses' career consists of one good album followed by twenty years of mediocre, or worse, crap. Then there's the decade or more long wait for Axl Rose to finish the Chinese Democracy Album. Not exactly a "Hall of Fame" showing.
Until, that is, you consider that their one good album was actually not just a good album; not just a great album; Appetite For Destruction was, is, and shall be for all eternity a freakin' bloody brilliant album and quite possibly the best heavy metal/hard rock record ever made. It might seem wrong to admit a band to the Hall of Fame on the strength of one album, but when that album is Appetite For Destruction it is absolutely mandatory.
By the way, when/if Chinese Democracy does come out, it will, of course be a huge disappointment, even in the unlikely event that it's better than Appetite For Destruction, because expectations will have risen so high over the interminable period during which Axl was recording it that absolutely nothing could meet them. It's sort of like when Tom Schultz of Boston took nine years to put out the album Third Stage, and while the result was a fairly good album, most people who heard it thought, "I waited nine years for this crap?"

Monday, March 12, 2007

Latest Sign of the Approaching Apocalypse: Van Halen In Rock Hall of Fame

Tonight in New York City, the annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be taking place. Don't feel too bad if you can't make it to the show, as you'll probably soon be able to watch it endlessly on VH-1.
As soon as this year's crop of honorees was announced some two months ago, the inclusion of pioneering rap group Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five raised eyebrows among rock critics. The Five are the very first rap act to be admitted to the hall and the skeptics have questioned whether they, or any hip-hop act for that matter, belong there.
The tempest in a teapot over Grandmaster Flash has directed attention from the truly questionable choice among this year's inductees.
I am referring, of course, to Van Halen.
Make no mistake, I like Van Halen. I'd even go so far as to call myself a fan. (Keep in mind, however, that when I say "Van Halen" I mean the real, "Diamond" David Lee Roth led incarnation and not the weak-ass "Van Hagar" simulacrum that popped up in 1985.) Van Halen was, arguably, the finest hard rock band of its era, which, to be honest, is sort of a left handed compliment considering the "competition." To totally honest, they produced fairly generic, radio friendly pseudo-metal calculated to appeal to preteen proto-headbangers. Despite Eddie Van Halen's guitar virtuousity, the band could hardly be called groundbreaking either musically or lyrically. Van Halen made great party records, but that's hardly a qualification for entrance into any sort of "Hall of Fame."
Actually there's a quote from an article on USA Today's web-site that pretty much sums up what I'm trying to say. It's from a man identified as "music writer Brett Milano, author of The Sound of Our Town: A History of Boston Rock and Roll," who says: "Eddie Van Halen taught a million people to overplay, and David Lee Roth ushered in the era of the comedian as rock 'n' roll front man. With Van Halen, we're to the point of bands getting in pretty much only because they sold a lot of records."
Hell, if you're gonna put Van Halen in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, you might as well let KISS in, too. In fact, KISS probably deserves the nod more than Eddie and his pals. They were at least groundbreaking; not musically, but in the savvy way they managed the business side of the band. They merchandised the hell out of themselves, putting their mildly freakish faces on everything from bubblegum cards (anybody else remember when bubblegum cards actually came with bubblegum?) to lunchboxes to T-shirts to comic books (they even made a cameo appearance in an issue of Howard The Duck.)
Maybe KISS will get in to the Hall of Fame next year. Hell, maybe they'll just throw open the doors and admit Poison, Whitesnake, and Twisted Sister, too.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Captain America Is Dead! Long Live Captain America!

Captain America is dead.
Yeah, right.
Issue #25 of Marvel Comics' fourth relaunch of its Captain America series in the past decade features the assassination of Steve Rogers, the super-heroic personification of patriotism, as he is to stand trial for defying the U.S. government in the course of the publisher's latest ill-considered, universe-changing, company wide crossever non-event known as Civil War.
I don't believe it.
A long history of heroes dying and being subsequently resurrected has left me a bit cynical. In an attempt to placate old cranks like me, Marvel's Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada is quoted on CNN as saying that he has instructed all his writers that a character's death should "mean something," by which I presume he is attempting to assure us that this is a permanent change and not just a short term publicity stunt. Of course, he goes on to say that a character's resurrection should also "mean something," which doesn't exactly slam the door shut on Rogers someday popping up alive and well again.
While the "death" of Superman was blatantly a grab to increase sales, as well as delay the inevitable wedding of Supes and Lois Lane to coincide with the same event on the then current TV series Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, and Kal-El was never meant to stay dead, most writers and editors who craft stories in which heroes are killed off generally truly intend that the character shall remain dead henceforth. However, as in the recent case of the Hal Jordan version of the hero Green Lantern, writers and editors who follow them will inevitably give in to the whining of the aging fanboys who make up the vast majority of comic book readers these days and bring the deceased heroes back to life.
Meanwhile, it's a pretty sure bet that even without Steve Rogers to wear the star spangle chain mail, the Captain America identity will continue with a new, or at least different, character picking up Cap's mighty shield. I'll bet it's going to be Bucky Barnes, Cap's sidekick from the 1940's who was retroactively killed off by Stan Lee when he returned Cap to active duty after a decade of lingering in limbo with 1964's Avengers #4 and who has been, I am given to understand, recently revived himself. I find it somewhat ironic that for many years, the semi-official position of Marvel concerning the death of heroes was "Only Bucky stays dead." Now that that commandment has been broken and the Buckster breathes once more, it probably won't be too long before his former mentor returns to the ranks of the living.
One other thing that bothers me about Cap being offed is the way Marvel is doing it. Having the so-called symbol of America gunned down by a Jack Ruby wanna-be on the steps of a courthouse is about as lame as having Superman beaten to death by some random monster coming out of nowhere rather than meeting his end at the hands of one of his longtime nemeses such as Lex Luthor or Braniac. Somewhere the Red Skull must be having one hell of a hissy fit. Which, of course, is all the more reason to eventually bring back Cap and kill him off proper-like next time.
It also bothers me that the mainstream media outlets, not just the panting fanboy sycophants who dominate the comics industry press, always buy into the hype whenever one of the major comics publishers decides to give their sales a temporary bump by killing off a character. Dozens of news outlets the world over from CNN to the BBC and Newsweek have covered this story as if a.) it matters to anyone other than those aging fanboys I mentioned earlier or b.) Cap, or at least Steve Rogers, was actually going to stay dead, which I guarantee you will not happen.
Of course, this is the same American news media that accepted uncritically every last one of Bush and Cheney's seemingly endless succession of bogus justifications for invading Iraq, parroting each new lie even as the previous one was exposed as false.

Arthur Branch for President???

Yet another big change could be coming to the constantly morphing cast of NBC's Law & Order. On this morning's edition of the rightward leaning Sunday interview show Fox News Sunday, actor and former United States senator Fred Thompson, who for the past five seasons has portrayed New York City District Attorney Arthur Branch on the long running cops and lawyers drama, revealed to FNS host/Bush Administration puppet Chris Wallace that he is considering wading into the already crowded pool of hopefuls wrangling for the Republican Party's nomination in next year's Presidential election.
Thompson told Wallace that he has no set timetable for reaching his final decision to run or not, but I would think that he would have to come to a conclusion soon in order to give his bosses at L&O enough time to find a replacement, since I assume that he will leave the show if he decides to pursue the Presidency.
Whenever he may throw his hat into the ring of fire, the visibility he has enjoyed as a co-star of one of TV's longest running, highest rated and most respected dramas should catapult him to the front of the field, up there with John McCain and Rudy Giuliani and straight past such relative unknowns as Mitt Romney, Sam Brownback, Chuck Hagel, Mike Huckabee and Duncan Hunter. (No, I'm not just pulling these names out of my ass, they're all real people who want to be the next POTUS. Truthfully, I'd never heard of anyone named Duncan Hunter, either, until just a few moments ago, when I saw his name, which is all I know about him at the moment, on this list of GOP contenders--and I use that term loosely for most of these guys.) Politically, though, due to the fact that he's been out of the game for a while, Thompson is himself a bit of an unknown quantity. I suspect that a lot of people who support him, at least in the early going, will be doing so based more on the politics of D.A. Branch as revealed during his sojourn on Law & Order, rather than on anything the real-life Thompson has said or done. It reminds of when G.W. Bush first emerged as a serious contender and some of his early popularity sprang from people thinking he was his father, which turned out to be far, far from the truth.
Interestingly, none of this came up during the on-air interview. While it's fitting for what is ostensibly a "news" program (Word From On High style rule # 37: the word "news" always goes in quotes when discussing Fox) to focus on the issues rather than the showbiz aspect of the story, it seems odd that his current employment was not even mentioned in passing, since it will no doubt, as I said above, influence both his decision to run and his chances at getting the nomination.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Quotable Simon Cowell: Season 6; Semi-Finals Week 3

To Sanjaya: "Maybe it's your hair that's keeping you in." Well, that and his smile.
After Jared performed: "I'm sort of disappointed over all because I'm not hearing the 'wow' factor." Is that related to the "X Factor" that you're always talking about?
To Sabrina: "It actually reminded me of a hotel resort performance." To which Paula responded: "If you're performing at any hotel, I'll go there," and Simon shot back, "Good. I'll send you."
To Antonella: "I feel for you because you've taken a lot of stick in the media. (If it hadn't been live TV, he probably would have used a different word.) I think you've handled yourself well throughout. I don't think anyone should be put in that position." That almost, I say almost, makes me feel bad about what I wrote about Antonella in the previous post.
To Haley Scarnato: "You know what I said to Paula about halfway through the song: I don't know your name." While Haley hasn't made an impression on the Cowell, she apparently made enough of an impression on viewers to sneak into the Top 12. (Y'know, she's got nice hair, too. Of course the "hair theory" utterly fails to explain Phil Stacy.)
To Melinda: "You little tiger. I thought we had a pussycat."
On why Sundance got cut: "The volume was turned down?"
About Idol's big charity event: "At the end of the day, all of us have done very well out of this show, so I'm glad that we can do something back." However, as I said in the last post, it would mean more, to me at least, if you could give something back without a camera pointed at you.

Idol Gossip: The Top 12 Is Set

With American Idol's Top 12 in place, as of yet I do not have to revise my initial prediction of the eventual winner. Chris Sligh remains in the running with a good shot at being the next Idol. Of course, there are 10 other hopefuls who also have a good chance of taking the prize.
Sanjaya Malakar, on the other hand, should never have made it past Wednesday of Hollywood Week and won't be there for big charity bash that Ryan Seacrest announced on Thursday's results show. That Sundance Head failed to garner enough support from the American public to continue on to the finals may be the biggest injustice perpetrated on Idol so far this season, and perhaps ever. This what happens when you give people free will and let them vote on stuff: G.W. Bush gets a second term and Sundance gets the boot. Even though this week's performance was his best of the live shows so far, and I'll admit that's not really saying much, Simon was probably at least half right when he made that crack about Sanjawa's hair keeping him in. The kid's got a nice smile as well.
Antonella Barba's eviction, on the other hand, was both expected and about two weeks overdue. Now that she's off the show, she is free to pursue her true destiny of posing for Playboy (or maybe Penthouse) and dieing of a drug overdose before the age of thirty. I did read in yesterday's Columbus Dispatch that Barba has recieved endorsement offers from the producers of Girls Gone Wild and a web site that rents "adult" DVDs, based, I should assume, on the fact that topless pics of her have surfaced on-line and Johnny DiLorretto hinted in his Fox28 Newscenter Idol wrap-up that more are coming. (Too Much Information Department: To be perfectly honest, if I were to seek out topless photos of any of this year's top 12 women, it would be Gina Glockson.)
As for the "big announcement" on Thursday that Idol will be doing a week of "special" shows to benefit charity and that Coke, AT&T and other Idol advertisers will donate cash to various causes for every vote cast: I am unimpressed. In my opinion, if these soulless megacorporations that rake in obscene profits off the sweat of the working poor in America and all over the world really cared about helping the very people they're screwing over with their rampant greed then they would just give a portions of their hideoulsy bloated profits to charity without all the hoopla and without having to tie it into a PR campaign or an effort to increase their sales and pull in even more profit. In fact, if Coke and AT&T and Fox and Idol's producers were to just give money without trying to cash in on it to increase their ratings or sales, that would actually bring them a lot more positive PR then a stunt like this.
By the way, when, after Sabrina got the boot, Ryan said in a stage whisper, "No doubt one of the most intense episodes we've ever had; live here as we formulate the top twelve," didn't he sound exactly like a commentator at a golf match?