Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Yam Jam

Last night on Jeopardy! the $2000 answer in the category Edible Rhyme Time was something like "Toast spread made from a potato like tuber" (that's very close, but I wasn't taking notes or anything. I saved the note taking for American Idol), and the correct question was "What is Yam Jam?" I thought when I heard that, "Hey! That sounds pretty good. I would eat that." You know what, I'll bet a lot of other people would, too.
Yep, I bet that if I could invent a sandwich spread made from yams, it would sell like hotcakes (hotcakes with yam jam, that is) and I would be an overnight millionaire.
Damn. At times like this, I sort of wish I knew how to cook.

Super Bowl Love

A teaser headline on the front page of today's Columbus Dispatch made me laugh like a deranged monkey when I read it. Ok, it was about the show that CBS chose to give a ratings boost by slapping on after Sunday's big game, but you've got to admit that "'Criminals Minds' gets Super Bowl love" sounds just slightly wrong.
After I stopped my hyenal impersonation, though, I was upset. I thought, "Hey! I want some Super Bowl love? Where's my Super Bowl love? How come Mandy Patinkin gets all the Super Bowl love and there's none left for me?"
Life is just not fair.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Manic Genius of Chuck Barris

(Note: I have also posted this article at Helium under the title "Chuck Barris and the Gong Show.)
America needs Chuck Barris and his Gong Show. Now more than ever.
In the 1960’s, Chuck Barris was one of two visionary television producers who helped to revitalize the nearly moribund institution of the game show. Whereas Merv Griffin restored intelligence, dignity and class to the genre with Jeopardy, Barris opted to go in the other direction entirely. His signature successes, The Dating Game and The Newlywed Game, danced gleefully along the edge of, and often leapt merrily over, the boundaries of what network Standards and Practices officials of the time considered good taste.
In 1976, Barris returned with his most outrageous and irreverent offering yet, a half hour talent contest called The Gong Show. The format was simple. Contestants performed for a panel of three C-level celebrity judges, any one of whom could cut the act short at any time by banging on a giant gong hanging behind them. If the contestant got through his performance with being gonged, the judges rated him on a scale of one to ten and the contestant with the highest daily total won a whopping five hundred dollar prize.
The Gong Show was originally hosted by veteran Laugh-In announcer Gary Owens, who was quickly replaced by Chuck Barris himself. After Barris assumed the hosting chores, the true nature of The Gong Show began to emerge. It was not so much a talent show as a parody of one.
As host, Barris adopted a freewheeling, manic persona. He often seemed barely in control of the show, creating an atmosphere which fostered in viewers the feeling that anything could, and most certainly would, happen at any time, and where, in true Chuck Barris fashion, the lines of good taste were not just blurred but erased altogether.
The show feature an often bizarre line up of acts, ranging from singers bad enough to give Simon Cowell nightmares to, in one of the show’s most memorable moments, a pair of attractive young ladies in cheerleader outfits whose entire act consisted of sitting in the center of the stage suggestively licking popsicles. Adding to the madness where a company of recurring acts, highlighted by the enthusiastically untalented Gene, Gene: The Dancing Machine and the abrasive Unknown Comic, who hurled insults at Barris and the judges while concealing his visage beneath a paper grocery sack.
Today, with the phenomenal success of American Idol, the airwaves are saturated with talent competitions looking to capture even a small piece of Idol’s audience and, more importantly, profits. The TV talent show is ripe for parody, and therefore, as I said at the beginning of this piece, America needs Chuck Barris and The Gong Show more than ever.

Idol Finalist Covington Helps Make Has Been Star Search Winner Feel Useful Again

Yesterday, by clicking on one of the ads contained in this very blog, I happened upon the MySpace domain of 2006 American Idol finalist Bucky Covington. It contained snippets of songs from Covington's upcoming debut CD, due out in April. I must say that for country music--a genre I generally despise and will usually go far out of my way to avoid hearing--they weren't all that bad.
The bio on said page reveals that the Buckster's CD is produced by Mark Miller of the country band Sawyer Brown. There seems, to me, to be a certain symmetry in that, sort of like a circle being completed. Bucky would still be playing in bars in small towns in North Carolina, and no one ever would have heard of Sawyer Brown if weren't for another, earlier TV talent show: Star Search, where SB took the top prize for Best Vocal Group during the show's debut season of 1983. It's only fitting therefore that Miller should aid Covington in capitolizing on his Idol spawned success. Besides, it's not like he's busy or all that in demand or anything as Sawyer Brown hasn't had even a minor hit since since 1999.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Somewhat Belated Hype: Wasted Potential Now On-Line!!!!

Given my penchant for shameless self-promotion, it amazes me that I have not yet used this, my most public forum, to announce to the world that I have finally and at long last placed my acclaimed and beloved comic strip Wasted Potential on the wonderful World Wide Web. Let me therefore correct this egregious oversight forthwith.
Yes, eager appreciators of fine sequential art, Wasted Potential, the finest semi-autobiographical weekly comic strip ever, is now available for one and all to view, absolutely free of charge and a bargain at twice the price, on the Internet. You may have noticed the section on my sidebar here entitled "My Other Blogs." Well, simply click on Wasted Potential, or click on the name of the strip anywhere in this very post, and be taken to the world of wonderment that is Wasted Potential. Three classics of modern humor currently reside there and a new strip will be posted every Sunday, usually shortly after one o'clock in the afternoon.
Also on the web is Pop Darts, the short lived strip of Pop Culture spoofery which ran alongside Wasted Potential in the late unlamented (by me, at least, but don't get me started on that rant) The Atomic Tomorrow. I only did ten of these strips, only six of which appeared in TAT, and the entire run of the strip appears on the blog The Complete Pop Darts.
I urge you, then, to follow the many helpful links scattered throughout this entry or to the right over there and experience sequential art enjoyment such as you have never known.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Fox Goes After YouTube Usurper

20th Century Fox demands YouTube expose user from

YouTube has said it received a subpoena from Twentieth Century Fox demanding it reveal who posted unaired episodes of "24" and "The Simpsons" on the video-sharing website.


You may remember, if you read the Word on Friday night, that I had posted some American Idol vid from YouTube. I deleted the post on Saturday after I tried to play the videos featuring Sean Michel and was told that they were "no longer available. Checking into YouTube, I found that all the Idol clips from that user had been removed, as well as those of another YouTuber who I'd been using as a source for Idol clips. This leaves me wondering, therefore, if this is related to the YouTube/Fox flap described in the article above, and if so, how long until the other Idol clips I've thrown up on the site become unavailable.
Fox, of course, has every right to demand that copyrighted material be taken down off of YouTube or any other video sight. I guess you might just have to depend on my descriptive powers after all.

Friday, January 26, 2007

(Now, THAT'S Trivia! #22) Video Quiz

As you've probably noticed, I've discovered YouTube in a big way. I might've gone a little overboard in posting videos here. I guess I've been kind of like a kid with a new toy. However, YouTube certainly is useful for covering American Idol, since I can show you things that may be hard to describe, and I can rely on someone posting the worst of the auditions. Oddly, I'm finding that tracking down the good singers is a bit trickier.
Anyway, today's trivia question has nothing to do with Idol, but MTV and the answer will be a vid I found on YouTube.
Can you name the first video ever played on "Music Television"?
The answer, and the historic video itself, is at The Answer Blog.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Quotable Simon Cowell: Season 6; Week 2

Simon Said:
On Sundance Head: "I'm going to be amazed if you don't make the finals."
"Blew Taylor out of the park." You're mixing your metaphors, Simon, but we know what you mean.
On Memphis auditions: "The 'no' club is a big club today."
To Castro look-alike Sean Michel: "We expected something about a revolution."
To background singer Melinda Doolittle: "Do you hate every single person you're singing backing vocals for?"
To security guards as he asks them to escort Ian Benardo away: "Take Mr. Boring out."
Ashanti Johnson: "If America saw me, they would love me."
Simon: "These three are Americans and they don't."
After Kia Thornton exits the audition room in tears: "One problem. No emotion."
To Rachel Zevita, after she sang three songs in three different styles: "You're all coming to Hollywood."
To some guy whose name I didn't catch: "The reality is you should be singing in a dress and stillettos." This isn't the first guy Simon's said that to. Gotta wonder what that could mean, or maybe we don't want to.
Best line of the week:
"Let me give you one lesson in show business. When someone is down on the floor, kick them."

Idol Gossip: New Yawk

Emotions ran high during American Idol's New York auditions and the tears flowed freely. Tears of sadness, anger, disappointment, desperation--and, yes, joy...the joy experienced by the thrity five people who got their Golden Ticket to Hollywood. Those who didn't make it seemed to want to make the judges understand just how much being on Idol meant to them, as if that would change the verdict, but even the soft hearted Paula Abdul was unmoved by such pleading.
There were no tears from Ian Benardo, however, and it seems unlikely that we've seen the last of him, even though this is the second reality show, after So You Think You Can Dance?, that he's crapped out on. There's still Last Comic Standing, after all, where he actually might have a shot. In his stubborn conviction, despite all evidence, that he is a great talent, he sort of reminds me of the character of Jack from Will & Grace.
Of those who made it, the best bet for making the Top 12 is Kia Thornton. She was a surprise to me. To put in Idol terms, I wasn't expecting the big Mandisa type voice from her tiny Paris Bennett body.
Antonella Barba, who auditioned with and far outshone her best friend Amanda, and Jory Steinberg are two others who have a good shot at making the finals. Christoper Richardson may, as Simon predicted, surprise the judges in the next round and make it the first round of live voting, but he most likely will be gone before the Top 12 are decided. Nicholas Pedro's second shot at Hollywood will probably end like his first one last season, despite his protestations that he has changed. I can see Jenry Bejarno making it out of Hollywood, but fading early and failing to make the finals.
Well, that's still a couple of weeks off, and next Tuesday, it's the Birmingham, Alabama auditions.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Day Prize Short List Announced

I have just received an e-mailed bulletin from Mr. Spaceman himself, Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo promotor Robert "Bob" Corby (who needs a haircut. I saw him today, and while the top remains nice and smooth and shiny, the back's looking a little shaggy.) Dave Sim, former writer and artist of Cerebus and administrator of the Howard Eugene Day Memorial Prize, has announced the short list of nominees for the 2006 Day Prize. So, without further ado, or comments about Bob's grooming habits, the nominees are:

1.) Abominable
Lunchbreak Comics
Pat Lewis
5326 5th Ave. #24
Pittsburgh PA 15232
2.) Beaver
Eight Ball Graphics
Jim Coon
174 Madison St.
Cortland NY 13045
3.) Being Different
Michelle Arcand
434 Colorado Ave.
Kansas City MO 64124
4.) Chemistry-Comic & CD Soundtrack
Awakening Comics
Steve Peters
17 N. York Rd. #3
Willow Grove PA 19090
$3.00-Comic; CD-$7.00; Both-$8.00
5.) Guitar Solo
Mike Dawson
17 Berkeley Pl #2R
Brooklyn NY 11217
6.) One Horse Town
Lunchbreak Comics
Pat Lewis
5326 5th Ave. #24
Pittsburgh PA 15232
7.) Potlatch #5
“Too Much Matheson”
Angry Dog Press
Chad Lambert-writer
Tom Williams-artist
2982 Calusa Dr.
Hamilton OH 45011
8.)Under the Midnight Sun
Dusty Neal- Artist
Christopher Studabaker-Writer
2708 South County Home Rd.
Bluffton IN 46714
Since it was Dave's turn this year to wade through all the crap submitted and whittle it down to the short list shown above, his business partner, the one name wonder known as Gerhard is tasked with the selection of this year's winner, which will be announced during a ceremony at this year's SPACE, which expands to become a two day show this year and will take place on April 21 and 22. The Day Prize presentation will be on Saturday the 21st.

I'll have more details about this year's SPACE as it gets closer.

Idol Vid: Sundance Head

The highlight of Memphis--and all of Season 6 so far--has been the discovery of this guy in Memphis. Here's another look at Sundance:

Idol Gossip: Memphis

Unlike Seattle or Minnesota, the bad American Idol auditions in Memphis didn't even have the saving grace of being funny. They just out and out sucked. Conversely, the good ones were among the best we've yet seen in Season 6. This is reflected in the fact that more hopefuls made it through to Hollywood from Memphis than from either of the two previous cities.
The two best auditions came totally out of left field and surprised everyone. You could tell that the judges, especially Cowell, had written off Sundance Head even before he opened his mouth. So had I. After all, just 'cause Daddy had a big hit four decades ago is no guarantee that the talent gene didn't skip a generation. He looked like a stereotypical Idol wannabe/loser: A fat guy with a stupid looking beard and a weird name--like Topher McCain, for instance. Unlike Topher, Sundance can sing. I, like Simon, will be amazed if he ain't in the Top 12.
He said that because his dad Roy Head's "Treat Her Right" was knocked out of the #1 spot by the Beatles, old Roy doesn't much like the Fab Four. Well, I've heard rumors that there may be a Beatle themed show this season guest starring either Paul McCartney or George Martin. How is Sundance gonna react to that?
Anyway, I don't think Sundance has a chance at winning. Instead, he'll be this year's Chris Daughtry: The judges' favorite and every fan and Pop Culture commentator's pick to wins who will lose out in the later weeks to some far less talented lovable goofball.
Like, perhaps, Sean Michel.
According to Sean, people say he looks like Osama Bin Laden, Jesus, Fidel Castro, or a homeless bum. When I saw him, I thought he must be Troy Benham's long lost twin, but he surprised me and the judges by actually being able to sing.
Another good prospect for Top 12hood is professional background singer Melinda Doolittle. Honestly, I wasn't expecting much from her, either. What I really expected was a replay of last week's incident with the "vocal coach," involving Randy telling her she should quit the music biz as of yesterday.
What is up Randy's tuchus this season, anyway? Some of the harshest judgments and sharpest putdowns have not from Simon, as you would expect, but from the formerly genial giant, Randy. Whassamatta, Big Guy? Was there a Journey reunion and they forgot to invite you?
Well, that wraps up Memphis. Tonight, it's on to the city so nice that they named it twice. As the song says, if you can make it there, you'll make it anywhere. It's up to you, New York, New York.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

2008 Presidential Race Well Underway.....

With more than a year before anyone gets near a voting machine to even decide who we're going to have to decide between in the Presidential election next year, there are, last I heard--but that was two days ago and there may be twice as many by now, eighteen candidates; nine from each party. They range from the hopeless and goofy, like Dennis Kucinich, to serious contenders like Hillary Clinton (who must be stopped! Dems may love her, but if she is nominated, she will lose the general and America will be saddled with John McCain for at least four years) to the man whose announcement I present below (and who will whip McCain's tush if the two go head to head):

Well, that probably makes it pretty clear who I'm planning to vote for--at least in the primary. That's if he even makes it to the Ohio primary. 2004's "promising newcomer," Howard Dean, crashed and burned long before I would have gotten a chance to vote for him, which I did intend to do. Of course, Obama seems a much calmer sort, not given to career killing screams.

Oscar Nominations Announced

Easy day today for the Pop Culture blogger. Today, as you know unless you've got a life or something, was the day the Oscar nominations were announced. (At 8:38 a.m., by the way. Who came up with an odd time like that, and why? I really want to if anyone out there has the answer, leave a comment.) It would be pretty easy for the tired and sick and somewhat lazy blogger to head over to the Oscar homepage, find the list of nominees, and simply copy and paste onto his blog.
So, here you go, folks--the pinnacle of Internet age journalism:
The Oscar may or may not go to:
Performance by an actor in a leading role
Leonardo DiCaprio - BLOOD DIAMOND;Ryan Gosling - HALF NELSON;Peter O'Toole - VENUS;Will Smith - THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS;Forest Whitaker - THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND
Performance by an actor in a supporting role
Alan Arkin - LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE;Jackie Earle Haley - LITTLE CHILDREN; Djimon Hounsou - BLOOD DIAMOND; Eddie Murphy - DREAMGIRLS; Mark Wahlberg - THE DEPARTED
Performance by an actress in a leading role
Penélope Cruz - VOLVER; Judi Dench - NOTES ON A SCANDAL; Helen Mirren - THE QUEEN; Meryl Streep - THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA; Kate Winslet - LITTLE CHILDREN
Performance by an actress in a supporting role
Adriana Barraza - BABEL; Cate Blanchett - NOTES ON A SCANDAL; Abigail Breslin - LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE; Jennifer Hudson - DREAMGIRLS; Rinko Kikuchi - BABEL
Best animated feature film of the year
Achievement in art direction
Achievement in cinematography
Achievement in costume design
Achievement in directing
Best documentary feature
Best documentary short subject
Achievement in film editing
Best foreign language film of the year
Achievement in makeup
Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)
Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)"
I Need to Wake Up" - AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH; "Listen" - DREAMGIRLS; "Love You I Do" - DREAMGIRLS; "Our Town" - CARS; "Patience" - DREAMGIRLS
Best motion picture of the year
Best animated short film
Best live action short film
Achievement in visual effects
Adapted screenplay
Original screenplay
As soon as I get around to actually reading what I've just posted on my blog, I may have some comments or predictions. I've got time. The stupid awards show isn't for another month yet, right?

Monday, January 22, 2007

Look At This Crap I Found On You Tube!

I offer this up as proof that, apparently, people will post just about anything on YouTube.

Jeopardy! Champ Jennings Reveals Trivia of Trivia

Ken Jennings has at least two major talents.
First, and most famously, he, to use his own words, "Knows Weird Stuff." He is a master of trivia and the all time Jeopardy! champ with seventy four wins.
Secondly, and somewhat unexpectedly, he can write, as he proves in his book Brainiac: Adventures in the the Curious, Competitive, Compulsive World of Trivia Buffs, an account not only of his record breaking Jeopardy! stint, but of the history, subculture and even the psychology of trivia. He traces the national, even international, obscession with obscure facts from the 17th century to the Internet, with stops at College Bowl competitions, bar trivia contests and, of course, game shows. Jennings writes with a self-deprecating and endearing sense of humor, and peppers his narrative with trivia quizzes for the reader. (I was kicking myself for not knowing that Ohio is the only state with a non-rectangular state flag, since I live in the capital of Ohio, or the color of the G's in the Google logo, considering the amount of time I spend on a computer.)
The former game show phenom has penned a book that will delight TV addicts, trivia buffs, and even historians. In it, he admits that as a computer programmer he was "lousy" (p. 185), but Brainiac demonstrates that he's got a promising career ahead of him as a writer should he decide to pursue it. Truthfully, I wasn't expecting much from the book, when I picked it up, but after finishing Brainiac, I'd certainly be willing to read Jennings' next book.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

American Idol 6: Troy Benham

I told you about this guy back on Wednesday. I had some trouble tracking down the vid on You Tube, but here it is...Troy "Urban Amish" Benham. He's actually not the worst contestant so far this season, but he is the most uniquely bad.
The thing I'm wondering is: Is that an original song he's singing? I've never heard it before, but to tell you the somewhat embarrassing truth, I kind of dig it.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Award Winning Humorist Dies

Pulitzer Prize winning syndicated newspaper columnist and political humorist Art Buchwald died Wednesday at the age of 81. I was actually surprised to hear the news of Buchwald's death. That was because I really thought that he'd already died a few years ago.

The New "Must See" Thursday

Even though they aren't calling it that anymore, NBC's Thursday night line-up is for the first time in way too many years deserving to be known as "Must See TV." Of course, current tagline "Comedy Night Done Right" is pretty accurate as well.
Throughout the nineties, the "Must See TV" formula seemed to be: Great Show, Filler, Great Show, Lame Piece of Unwatchable Crap. Honestly, NBC would have been better off running infomercials after Friends than garbage like Jessie, The Single Guy or Veronica's Closet. (How did that one last for three seasons?) But now you've Great Show (My Name Is Earl), Great Show (The Office), Great Show (Scrubs), and Good Show That Would Be A Lot Better If They Would Dump Tracy Morgan (30 Rock). Seriously, it's like Morgan's off doing an entirely different and really bad show of his own inside of the good show with Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin.
This may be the first comedy block on network TV in which none of the shows has a laugh track. With these shows, however, I don't need a prompt to know when to laugh.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Idol Gossip: Seattle Auditions

Does Simon Cowell suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder? Could it be the constant rain in Seattle rather than the auditions themselves that had him in such a pissy mood?
No, I think it really was the so-called "talent."
First, the lowlights from Seattle.
People should realize by now that trying to imitate past Idol winners is no way to get a Golden Ticket, especially when said winner was not really a favorite of Simon's, from what I could see last season. Apparently, Eric Chapman, who called himself Taylor Hicks' long lost brother, didn't get the memo. Eric, Taylor called. He says to stay lost.
Maybe he can team up with the Clay Aiken wannabe from last season and go on the road.
Nicholas Zitzmann had the balls to take on Simon's favorite song, Unchained Melody. Simon is probably looking for a new favorite song now.
Steven "Red" Thoen claimed he resembled Carrot Top but was cooler than him. Who isn't? Well, maybe someone who butchers one of the the greatest songs of all time, Bohemian Rhapsody.
Enough of the bad, let's take a look at the few who moved on to Hollywood.
I think we have already this week seen at least two of the Top 12. Denise Jackson from the Minnesota auditions combines looks, talent and a compelling life story in an irresistable package. She reminds me a lot of last season's Paris Bennett, and I think she'll make it at least as far as Paris did. Then there's Sanjaya Malakar. He has the "cute" factor that propelled Kevin Covais so far last year, but more talent and a far stronger voice, which should keep him in it longer than Chicken Boy was.
Another Top 12 possible is Jordin Sparks. Like Denise, she's cute and has a great voice. She also has a ready made Pop Star name. I don't see her getting to the top four, but there could be great things in her future beyond Idol.
Next week, we see the judges' misadventures in Memphis, and I'll bring you my news and views afterward.

The Quotable Simon Cowell (Season 6; Week 1)

Simon said:
On the first day of auditions in Seattle: "One of the worst days ever."
That may be true, but isn't it time to retire the song "Bad Day." It may be appropriate, but I'm still sick of it from last season.
To Paula: "I think you're very easily pleased, Paula."
That's a quality I like in a woman, and greatly lowered expectations are a plus.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Blackwell Still Controversial Even Out of Office.

From the Columbus Dispatch:
Blackwell staff got goodbye bonuses

The article begins: "Before leaving office this month, Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell gave parting payments totaling more than $80,000 to 19 top staffers who were not kept by new Secretary Jennifer Brunner. "
Now these "questionable bonuses," as Brunner calls them, are controversial in some circles, especially with the new Democratic regime, who dislike Blackwell and with good reason. However, I think the bonuses are well deserved and a suitable reward for all the hard work Ken Blackwell's loyal staff put in over the years.
Stealing elections isn't easy, you know. Blackwell and his cronies, however, went to heroic lengths to disenfranchise and suppress minority and Democratic voters and deliver the Buckeye State firmly into George W. Bush's camp, for which they certainly deserve their thirty pieces of silver.

Idol Gossip: Season 6 Premiere

The crack staff of The Word from on High (me) will be all over American Idol this season, with regular updates and analysis. No longer will you have to feel like an outsider when your friends discuss the show, because The Word is watching so you don't have to. And now, the Word on last night's Season 6 premiere.
With only seventeen going on to Hollywood Week, we may not have seen the next American Idol duringt the Minneapolis auditions, but I think we've seen the next William Hung. You remember him, right? He was the guy who turned a horrid audition and an utter butchering of an already bad Ricky Martin song into a short-lived recording career as a novelty act in season 3.
Last night, we met Troy. He was the "Urban Amish" guy. He claimed not to have ever seen Idol or even own a TV set, but came in and gave one of the classic bad auditions of all time. What exactly was that song he was doing? Was it an original composition? I know I've never heard it before and never want to hear it again.
Sixteen year old Denise Jackson, on the other hand, has a chance to stick around for a while. I can see her in the Top 12. I don't think any of the others we saw last night are finalist material.
We also, last night, had a classic Simon Cowell moment. Simon just loves it when he can turn the tables and call one of the other two on being a jerk. This happened last night when Randy berated a guy named Steve, who was supposedly a vocal coach, and Simon asked if he was just gonna stand there and take it, goading the guy into heaping onto Randy the sort of abuse usually reserved for Cowell himself. Of course, Randy was right. The man sang horribly, and anyone who lets this tone deaf loser train them to sing is wasting their money.
I think we got a little glimpse into one reason Simon says the things he says last night, and that is because he is, despite being a great judge of music, a poor judge of people. He doesn't seem to be able to read people well enough to predict how they'll react to his harsh comments, and maybe he just doesn't care. I'm speaking of when he tore into Jason, the 16 year old singer/dancer/juggler, reducing the poor kid to tears outside the audition room. Inside, Simon was shown commenting that he thought the kid took his comments well.
Well, from Minneapolis, we go tonight to Seattle. Apparently Simon hated the city, and I can't wait to find out why.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Burger King of the Jews

I signed at YouTube, as you can see. I figured if anything interesting happened on, say, last night's Golden Globe Awards show, someone would post it and I could show it to you. Of course, other than Sacha Baron Cohen's tasteless and inappropriate acceptance speech, nothing noteworthy occurred. The Globes have a rep as the awards show where anything can happen, but based on last night's outing, I'd say that's basically just an urban legend. It was, from where I sat, yet another dull exercise in entertainment industry self-congratulation, and not the last one we're going to have to endure during the next month. The worst part, other than Cohen's speech, was Warren Beatty's halting and awkward speech. You would think one of the best actors of the 20th century would know the value of a good script. Or any script, for that matter.
In the absence of anything newsworthy from the Globes, I bring you this video. It is unrelentingly sacrilegious and utterly hilarious, and everything's funnier when you say it in a thick Scottish brogue.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai Engagement Confirmed (What the Heck?)

This comes to us direct from the Columbus Dispatch, whose editors apparently think their readers give a crap about this.
The article states that: "Bollywood movie stars Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai are engaged and will marry later this year, the former Miss World's manager confirmed Monday, ending months of speculation about their relationship."
I am glad that has been cleared up, because the "months of speculation" were driving me crazy. Why, everywhere I turned throughout Columbus people were talking about Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai and the status of their relationship. Not to mention all the buzz on the Internet. Hell, thinking about it was keeping me up at night.
Seriously, though, does anybody in the Western hemisphere, much less the capital of Ohio, give a crap about this. I certainly don't. So why is the Dispatch wasting space in its paper and on its web-site with this crap when there are really important issues they could be covering, like the fact that the new season of American Idol starts tomorrow.

Friday, January 12, 2007

(Now, THAT'S Trivia #21) More Resolutions

Back on January 2nd, I posted my semi-serious resolution to "let no grievance go unaired," but now, while it may be a little late (2007 is already nearly 1/24 over), I have some real resolutions to share with you.

First, I resolve to read more. Sure, as you can tell from my posts here, I read quite a bit. But lately, other than comics, all the books I'm reading are nonfiction. So, more accurately, I resolve to read more novels, specifically three novels by two of my favorite authors that have been sitting unread on my bookshelf for months, if not years. They are A Widow For One Year and Until I Find You by John Irving, and The Night Listener by Amistead Maupin. Widow and Listener have been made into movies which I've put off seeing because I've yet to read the books, After all, how can I bitch on my blog here that the films suck and are nothing like the books if I haven't read them, right?
My second resolution is to bring back the trivia quiz, which I abandoned way back in July. This time, however, it won't be a weekly feature, but will pop up whenever I think of a really good question. Like now.
I was watching a DVD of old Underdog cartoons a while ago, and one of the extras was an interview with one of the character's creators, who said that he based the appearance of Underdog's gal pal Sweet Polly Purebred on an actress who was quite famous at the time.
Thus, the trivia question is: Who was she?
For the first time in months, you have a reason to visit The Answer Blog.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

"Wired" magazine Champions Web-Based Comic Books

Okay, I know I'm about eight months late here, but I just got aroung to reading the very interesting article on digital distribution of comic books in the May 2006 issue of Wired magazine, and I wanted to pass it on to my readers. (I know I have one or two left somewhere out there.) There's definitely much in the article for comics publishers to think about, although they appear to be going to some lengths to avoid doing so, according to author Mark McClusky .
You know, given that the topic of this article is very similar to what Scott McCloud was going on and on about in Reinventing Comics, I'm surprised that he was not quoted or asked to comment. It's not as if Wired has never heard of him. When I looked for this piece on their site by entering "comic books" into the search field, several of the articles that came up in the results either mentioned or were about McCloud.
Speaking of McCloud, by the way, someday I'm gonna have to get around to reviewing his latest book, Making Comics.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Obits: Veteran Animator; Munsters Actress

The commentaries on the Hong Kong Phooey DVD, which came out back in August, may be the last work that veteran Hanna-Barbera and Disney animator Iwao Takamoto did before he died on Monday at age 81.

To be honest, his list of credits on the Internet Movie Data Base reads like a list of H-B's cheesiest shows of the 70's, from Inch High, Private High to Kwicky Koala, but there are some gems in there, as well, such as Hong Kong Phooey. He also directed what I consider the best thing Hanna-Barbera ever did and one of the great animated films of all time, the original film version of Charlotte's Web.

In other passages, Yvonne De Carlo also died on Monday. There are 122 items on Yvonne De Carlo's IMDB page stretching all the way back to 1941, but the only one anyone remembers, and ever will remember, is her two years as Lily on The Munsters.

Personally, in the horror/comedy TV show category, I've always preferred The Addams Family (the animated version of which Iwao Takamoto worked on) to The Munsters, but you've got to admit that De Carlo looked pretty hot all gothed out as Lily. (There's a touching tribute: Her show sucked, but she was sexy. I should write sympathy cards for Hallmark.)

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Rabbit Season! Duck Season! Awards Season!

Yes, the entertainment industry's annual cavalcade of congratulation kicks off tonight with the People's Choice Awards and carries on through the Oscars at the end of next month. If you can't find some sort of awards show on TV between now and then, your set's broken.
Oscar nominations won't be revealed until the 23rd, but let me tell you who I think deserves to be nominated for best actor: Hugo Weaving of V For Vendetta. Not only did he manage to make a sympathetic character of a terrorist vigilante killer, but he did it while wearing a mask for the entire film. His ability to convey a full range of subtle emotion without the benefit of facial expressions was amazing. That's not easy to do, after all. You'll remember that Willem Dafoe wasn't quite able to pull it off as Spider-Man's Green Goblin.
Of course, if the Golden Globe nominations are any indication of the Oscar picks, then chances don't look good.
The Globes have also failed to recognize, as most likely the Academy will as well, director Kevin Smith's raunchy return to top form in the funniest movie I saw last year, Clerks II. Jason "Jay" Mewes and Smith (Silent Bob) deserve some love from the awards folks as well in the supporting actor category. Seriously though, Clerks II may not exactly be an Oscar contender, but it was Smith's best effort since Chasing Amy.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Reaction to New Betty and Veronica

Archie Comics seems to be hedging their bets a little with their revamp of Betty and Veronica. Apparently, the new look is scheduled to last only four issues, then the publisher will sit back and gauge reader response (aka sales figures) to determine whether to do more stories in that vein, and, in an interview published on-line, Archie editor Victor Gorelick assured Newsarama that, "There will always be the traditional 'Archie' look." Well, since their digest line consists mainly of reprints and they've got sixty plus years of that stuff sitting around, I would think so.
One things for sure, the news of the "new look" has accomplished something that seemed nearly impossible: it's actually got people talking about Archie comics again, both in the comics press and the mainstream media. While a blurb on the Publisher's Weekly site is not surprising, the story also made news in Canada's national newspaper The Globe and Mail.
They say any publicity is good publicity, and I hope Archie Comics subscribes to that notion, because a lot of the initial reaction is not what you would call positive. Most it is along the lines of what I described as my initial reaction in my post on Saturday. There are a lot of people asking "Is nothing sacred?" and excoriating Archie for screwing with a piece of their childhood, and many, many comparisons to the 1980's New Coke fiasco. Of course, most of the people expressing this outrage probably haven't read an Archie comic since they were kids, and a few of these whiners even admit this.
While I'm opposed to changing the long standing Archie art style, I'll take a wait and see attitude on the story. However, after seeing these pencilled preview pages posted at Silver Bullet Comics, I'm not hopeful. You can't tell much because these are just the first few pages and the story hasn't really begun. In fact, these pages seem to be largely exposition for the benefit of the new readers that Archie is hoping this stunt garners them. However, the problem is that it reads like exposition rather than the thoughts of a teenaged girl. Maybe the writing gets better once the plot gets rolling. One can only hope.

Sight Unseen Reviews: Mid-Season "Reality"

Yes, I did not or have not watched these shows, and, quite frankly have no intention to, but that shall not stop me from giving you my opinions on them anyway.
Grease: You're The One That I Want: The movie version of Grease may be one of the worst films ever made. It's certainly one of the worst I've ever suffered through. Therefore, I just don't give a crap about the latest American Idol wannabe designed to cast the leads in a new Broadway revival of the musical. Besides, why bother with Idol imposters when there's only a week left until the real thing starts up again?
Armed and Famous: I can just hear this being pitched as "The Surreal Life meets COPS." Five washed up celebrities who'll apparently do anything to get back on TV train to become real cops in a Midwest city. To me, the concept sounds more like something you'd find on VH-1 or some other cheesy basic cable outfit rather than CBS, which was once known as "The Tiffany Network" due to its reputation for quality programming. (Of course, you've got to ask yourself if that rep was ever really accurate when you consider that this is the network that aired Gilligan's Island. I love the show, but you've got to admit that it's no Masterpiece Theatre.)
By the way, speaking of COPS, did you catch the hilarious COPS parody on last Thursday's episode of My Name Is Earl? It was one of the best episodes yet of the best sitcom on network TV. I'll you write now that my faith in the intelligence of the American people will be forever shattered if Earl does not win "Favorite TV Comedy" at the People's Choice Awards tomorrow night, especially considering that the other two nominees are the unfunny and uninspired The King of Queens, and the bland and insipid Two and a Half Men.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Archie Comics To Get New Look

This May's release of Betty and Veronica Double Digest #151 marks a major and radical change for Archie Comics, one of the only three comics publishers whose roots extend back to the so-called "Golden Age of Comics" of the 1940s. With that issue, the venerable purveyor of harmless teen humor drops the cartoony "Archie style" of art that has become their trademark in favor of a more realistic rendering style, courtesy of artists Steve Butler and Marvel Comics veteran Al Milgrom, and longer, supposedly more realistic stories.
My first reaction upon reading about this in this week's issue of Comic Shop News was that they couldn't do this. It just wasn't right to trash sixty years of tradition and throw out the cherished childhood memories of millions of comics readers. Then I remembered the last Archie comics that I actually read, and my reaction changed to "It's about damned time!" While I love the Archie art style, which has been a major influence on my own cartooning style, the stories themselves have been bland, unfunny, and irrelevant to the lives of real teens, while the characters remain largely locked into their original 1940s stereotypical modes of behavior and dress. (Archie still wears a bowtie? And just what the hell is that thing on top of Jughead's head supposed to be, anyway?) A move even into the 1950's, let alone the 21st century, is long overdue. As always, however, the final proof of whether this is the right move for Archie Comics will be the stories themselves and, ultimately, the sales figures.
You know, I've always wondered why Archie Andrews could never chose between Betty and Veronica, and the cover of Betty and Veronica Double Digest #151 brings that question to mind once again. Betty has always been portrayed as much nicer than Veronica, and on that cover she's shown to be a whole lot more attractive as well. This does not make Archie look very good, as it seems that the only thing Ronnie has going for her is that she's rich.
More on Archie Comics and Betty and Veronica's new look:

Friday, January 05, 2007

Guess Who's Reading The WORD

It seems that at least one of my many posts on The Man Time Forgot, Isaiah Wilner's bio of TIME magazine founder Britton Hadden, attracted the attention of none other than the author himself, as I discovered while self-Googling (are you allowed to do that at a public library?) just a few moments ago. On his blog, Mr. Wilner cites my entry entitled The Forgotten Founders of TIME and AOL, with a link.
If you'll excuse me, I'm going to be all full of myself for the next couple of days.

More Mindless "Other Paper" Bashing

To be perfectly honest, I've got nothing earth shattering or interesting to say today, so I'll fall back on one of my favorite subjects: Bitching about The Other Paper, Columbus, Ohio's leading "alternative" weekly.
Have any of the writers at TOP ever had an original thought. It's not bad enough that Karen Graves, in her review of Taylor Hicks' eponymous CD, chooses to parrot someone else's ideas, but the least she could do is acknowledge it. At the beginning of the review, she says of Hicks, "In fact, he's more like America's embarassing uncle--the one who would cause a mortifying scene at a wedding reception." That should sound familiar to anyone who remember the last season of American Idol, because, although Graves does slightly reword it, Simon Cowell said that to Hicks himself on an episode of Idol. Did she think no one would notice her presenting someone else's thought, especially when it was originally spoken on the country's most watched television program.
Yeah...that was pointless, but maybe I'll actually have something worthwhile to write about...and even if I don't, I'll probably write about it anyway.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Columbus Dispatch Debuts Lame New Comic Strip

This is what you get when you let people vote: George W. Bush's second term and horribly unfunny, crudely drawn crap like Pearls Before Swine replacing Fox Trot in the daily comics section of the Columbus Dispatch beginning this past Monday. And, for the love of God, do NOT even get me started on the People's Choice Awards.
Of course, it didn't help that in the cases of the new Dispatch strip and the 2004 election, the alternatives from which the voters had to chose were fairly lame. Apparently, there just aren't any funny or well drawn daily comic strips, or Democrats qualified to be President of the United States, out there any more.
According to the article that accompanied Swine's debut, Dilbert "cartoonist" Scott Adams is a fan of the strip and endorsed it on his web-site. I can understand that, as Swine creator Steven Pastis' childish doodles make Adams' own mindless scribbles look like Rembrandt by comparison.
Pearls Before Swine is further proof, if any were needed, that the American newspaper comic strip is an artform that is on its last legs and, furthermore, that the Dispatch editors, and apparently a plurality of its readers, wouldn't know a good comic strip if it bit them on the ass.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Most Outspoken People of '06

Whether you agree with what they said or not, they said what they meant and they meant what they said despite attacks from the media and politicians.
Al Gore--Big Al wasn't saying anything new last year. He's been sounding a clarion call about global warming his entire career. The difference is that in 2006, with the release of his documentary film, An Inconvenient Truth, people were finally listening. However, when you see 50 degree temperatures and people running around in shorts in the middle of January in the American midwest, you can't help but wonder if it's too late.
Hugo Chavez--Sure, he sounded kind of crazy and ended up costing his country a seat on the United Nations Security Council, but the Venezuelan President wasn't afraid to stand up in front of the U.N. General Assembly and say exactly what he thought, in no uncertain terms, calling American President George W. Bush "El Diablo" (the devil).
John Murtha--A Vietnam vet and notorious "hawk" when it comes to military issues, the Democractic Congressman from my home state of Pennsylvania braved the disapproval of both political parties to become one of the first national leaders to publicly say that the war in Iraq was a fiasco and to call for bringing the troops home.
Michael J. Fox--The TV icon starred in a series of promos for political candidates who support federal funding for stem cell research and ended up being forced to defend himself from a series of vicious attacks from the right wing media, not on his politics but on him personally and the outward physical effects of his Parkinson's Disease.
Just when you thought that Rush Limbaugh's prescription drug addiction scandal had finally and deservedly relegated the fat obnoxious loudmouth to the scrapheap of irrelevancy, he manages to make one of the most outragous and patently offensive statements of the year and get his name and fat ugly face back on people's minds again. You've almost got to admire someone who, despite being publicly humiliated and utterly and thoroughly discredited--repeatedly--remains so consistently obnoxious and just plain wrong.
Then, there's Big Bad Bill, the Clintonator. Big Al's old boss wasn't saying anything new last year either, as he's been forced into defending his administration's policy on terrorism and Bin Laden since probably minutes after the planes hit on 9/11. But his dressing down of Bush administration butt-boy Chris Wallace of FOX News on FOX News Sunday is credited by many pundits with raising the morale of the Democratic party and rallying them in their ultimately successful efforts to wrest control of the congress from the GOP.
I sometimes picture Chris Wallace's father, the legendary investigative reporter Mike Wallace of CBS' 60 Minutes, watching FNS with his head hung low in shame, muttering to himself, " How can it be that the fool on my TV kissing Republican ass at every opportunity is my son? Where, Oh Lord, where, I beseech you, did I go so horribly wrong?"
Well, that pretty much wraps up my look back at 2006. Starting tomorrow, it's time to tackle '07 head on. Hallelujah!!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The WORD's New Year's Resolution

Out of all the various December holidays and observances (Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, etc.), the one that most appeals to me is Festivus, the alternative holiday popularized by an episode of the otherwise utterly worthless and unfunny sitcom Seinfeld from about ten years ago. The thing I like most about Festivus is the ritual observed by Seinfeld character George Costanza and his family that is known as "The Airing of the Grievances."
Now, anyone who's been reading this web-log even semi-regularly for the last eleven months would realize that I am not one to wait for a holiday to air my grievances. That then is my New Year's resolution and my promise to you, my readers: I will keep the spirit of Festivus alive in my heart and on my blog year round and let no grievance, no matter how petty, go unaired.

The WORD's 2nd Biggest Story of '06: Pulling Away the Pillow

Many Vain Earth Men Just Sit Upon Nice Pillows.
As I did, you may have learned the above mnemonic, designed to help you remember the names of the planets in our solar system, when you were a kid. Each word in the sentence begins with the same letter as one of the planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Uranus (*snicker*), Neptune and Pluto. Last summer, however, the International Astronomical Union (whoever the heck they are) pulled away the pillow. Seventy-six years after its discovery, Pluto was officially declared not to be a planet. Now, those many vain Earth men are left to sit upon nothing. (Which does actually fit the mnemonic)
You are probably asking yourself, and drawing stares if you're doing it aloud and you're not alone, just why I consider this to be the second biggest story of 2006.
Think about it, friends. This was a major "everything you know is wrong" moment. A mysterious cabal of scientists suddenly took it upon themselves to declare that something that you and I had been taught since childhood as cold, hard fact was not, and, indeed, never had been, true at all.
This caused my friend Joe to wonder, "What's next? Are they gonna kick 'Q' out of the alphabet now?"
Just as importantly, the Pluto "controversy" got ordinary people talking about outer space again, as did other cosmic developments in the year's news, such as the possibility that water could be found on Mars, bringing with it the chance that some form of life may have existed upon the Red Planet or perhaps even still does.
It is my hope that this "buzz" will translate into renewed interest in space exploration and support for America's space program and projects such as the International Space Station and the proposed permanent base at the southern pole of the Moon.