Monthly Archives

April 2011

Royal Wedding Recap

Why am I up at 3 a.m. watching the royal wedding? Because these are difficult times in the world and I want to witness something that’s uplifting. As I sit here in my pajamas, I imagine I’m coming together with billions of other people to celebrate a beautiful thing, regardless of race, age, politics or social status. I don’t care about the guest list or what’s on the menu. I just want to see something on the news that’s not depressing for a change.

I didn’t wake up early enough to watch all the coverage leading up to the ceremony; I barely threw on my glasses in time to turn on BBC America right as it’s starting. Here’s my attempt at live-blogging the event. (Times are approximate since I paused the DVR a couple of times to guzzle coffee.)

3:00 a.m. PST Whoa, it’s starting exactly on time. The black Rolls Royce is pulling up to Westminster Abbey with Mr. Middleton and Kate inside.

3:01 The BBC commentator is saying it might take Kate awhile to climb out of the car since the dress has a huge train but Kate climbs right out, with the help of her sister, Pippa, who’s wearing a fabulous bias-cut ivory column dress.

Kate’s dress resembles Grace Kelly’s on her wedding day, with long chantilly lace sleeves and fitted bodice but the neck isn’t as high as Kelly’s. Her veil is held in place by a small tiara made in 1936 lent by the Queen. Her hair is down in soft curls and looks how it usually looks. Sometimes brides get carried away on their wedding day and go for complicated hairdos they’ve never worn and end up resembling the Bride of Frankenstein more than themselves. Kate looks beautiful and timeless; fifty years from now she’ll still be stylish in photos. The commentator says Sarah Burton from Alexander McQueen has been confirmed as the dress’s designer.

3:02 Closeup of Kate inside the abbey. Ooh, nice drop earrings. Very pretty and the perfect size, not too big or gaudy. She looks happy, very smiley and composed. Aww, that’s how every bride should look, regardless of whether her every move is being scrutinized by billions of people on her wedding day.

3:06 Princes William and Harry come out before the bride’s procession up the aisle. William looks sharp but nervous in his red Irish Guards tunic with the blue sash and medals. Harry looks dapper, too, in his Blues and Royals military uniform.

3:07 Kate starts up the loooong aisle, still smiling.

3:09 She gets to the altar. William looks over and they chat briefly about something. They just look like two kids getting married, not a future king and queen. He looked nervous when he first came out but seems much better now that Kate is standing beside him.

3:11 Singing commences. Look, there’s Elton John.

3:12 And the queen in her yellow coat dress and hat. The camera showed Elton before the queen?

3:14 “Dearly beloved…”

3:18 They’re saying their vows. I didn’t know or never paid attention to the fact Prince William’s full name is William Arthur Phillip Louis. Kate does not flub it.

3:20 He slips the ring on her finger. Not surprisingly, it’s a simple band. Kate (I’m not used to Catherine yet) doesn’t seem capable of anything flashy.

3:21 They’re pronounced man and wife.

3:26 Kate’s brother, James, is reading from the Bible, Romans 12: 1, 2, 9-18. I like this passage: ”Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are.” Good advice for all of us, I think.

3:41 Closeup of three little choir boys, all wearing glasses. Nerds rule!

3:54 Trumpets blare for “God Save the Queen.”

3:55 William and Kate have to go into the inner sanctum of the abbey, the Shrine of St. Edward, to sign three different marriage registers. More singing ensues while we wait. Look, there’s another little nerd boy in glasses—an Asian one!

4:07 William and Kate emerge, walk back down the aisle, heading for the exit.

4:10 They’re greeted by enthusiastic crowds as they step out the front door. Church bells are ringing. Magnificent.

4:11 William puts on his forage cap and white gloves before helping Kate into the open carriage. It’s all very gallant.

4:13 They’re on the move, headed back to Buckingham Palace. She gives her first waves as the Duchess of Cambridge and William gives military salutes. Sharp.

4:22 Whoa, the queen has a HUGE grin as she rides in her carriage. We don’t see her that happy that often; it’s the equivalent of the rest of us busting a gut. It’s nice. I don’t remember her looking like that when Charles and Diana got married.

4:29 The wedding party arrives at the palace and go inside. There’s a break here for about an hour before they’re scheduled to re-emerge for their iconic balcony moment. I can’t decide if I should nap or forage for snacks. Snacks win.

5:17 The anticipation in the crowd builds as William and Kate are due to reappear any minute now on the balcony. A woman wearing a hat with cardboard cutouts of W & K mounted on top is being interviewed and she says she came out “for Diana.” I wish William’s mother were here to see this.

5:25 The wedding party steps out on the balcony. William and Kate kiss. He looks shy and blushes a little afterward. How cute!

5:36 Wow, one of the flower girls looks grumpy. I think she just decided she’s had enough fun for the day.

5:38 While waiting for fighter jets to fly over the palace as a symbol of the British resistance during World War II, William and Kate kiss again. The crowd goes wild.

5:40 The jets do their flight pass and the queen starts heading inside, indicating the balcony appearance is over.

This was a nice ceremony—classy, traditional, full of pomp but not pompousness. I was really impressed by how composed Kate looked through the whole affair. She seems sure of who she is—I heard she was determined to do her own makeup though she could have had top professionals do it—and graceful enough to be a queen.

Did you wake up early to watch? What did you think?

Photos: AP & Getty

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AMERICAN IDOL S10: Top 6 Sing Carole King

by Poncho

This week’s theme was Carole King’s songbook, and I have to say CK was good for most of these kids. The night was kind of boring, though, except for a few “highlights” now and then.

Jacob Lusk opened with “Oh No, Not My Baby.” He was dressed like a clown and that matched his performance. It was uptempo and actually quite fun. He botched a lot of the higher notes but it came together on the lower ones. This is the first time I didn’t hate his performance, perhaps because it seemed he didn’t take himself too seriously and he pulled back on his skanky diva faces. He still reminds me of Juan Gabriel’s dancing, though.

Then Lauren Gilmore Alaina sang “Where You Lead” and though she wasn’t perfect, she was way more relaxed than last week. The backups were actually a great help to her because she sounded a lot better when she harmonized with them. And wow! She serenaded a random guy from the audience, even pulling him to the stage. She was flirty AND age-appropriate. That was nice, but there were flaws in her vocals.

The first duet came courtesy of rumored couple Casey Abrams & Haley Reinhart with “I Feel the Earth Move.” It was nice. The solos weren’t that interesting but when they started harmonizing, it was quite good. There was real chemistry there and the arrangement suited both of them. The bad thing was, the flaws in Casey’s higher register raised their arms to be noticed.

Scotty McCreery took me by surprise. He didn’t quite go out of his comfort zone, but he did try something different. He did a sort of romantic performance with “You’ve Got a Friend” and managed to pull the cheese back completely until the closing verse. His vocals were smooth and nice for almost the whole song, though he cracked during a few of the higher notes. It was good nonetheless and a nice step forward for him. I’m still waiting for him to have a real Idol Moment™, especially since lots of people are labeling him the frontrunner.

James Durbin was next with a nice rock ‘n’ roll twist to “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow.” It was a little overdone in some parts with his higher register, but the whole thing came together very well. It’s the first time that I can recall this season when there was a good rearrangement of a song that actually fit both the song and the contestant. It was very nice, indeed.

The next duet was “Up on the Roof,” sung by Lauren and Scotty. Lauren’s voice sort of drowned Scotty’s in a few places; he seemed to be singing only the harmony. I think the song was a little high for Scotty in most parts, but I liked some of Scotty’s moments better than Lauren’s. Their voices don’t complement each other the way Casey & Haley’s do. It was a nice try, but it felt lacking.

Next, Casey growled through “Hi-De-Ho” and I don’t get why the judges thought it was that good. Casey talked, shouted and growled through the verses, and there was no musicality to it except for the musicians on stage. The whole thing was lame and came out as an angry bashing of the audience. Some random girl was almost throwing herself at him but Casey seemed to ignore her and kept sneering and shouting. Oh, but the cool sax player [from two weeks ago] was there! Other than her, I didn’t like the performance at all. By the way, Casey has managed so far to disrespect both Nirvana & Maroon 5. I say put him in the bottom three or kick him out!

Haley then sang “Beautiful” and she sang it beautifully, but the background was hurting her. I read there were troubles with the sound and ear monitors, and there was chaos on stage before her performance. I’m starting to think: “Are the producers actually trying to hurt her?” It’s not the first time I’ve felt it in the last few weeks. She’s the ONLY contestant they give lukewarm criticism to week in and week out even though she’s the only one actually growing as a performer. And now this. (I did hear, though, there were also sound issues during Jacob’s turn last week so I don’t know.) Other than that, Haley did well. She didn’t blow me away as she’s done other nights, but it was a good effort. I hope she’s safe.

James & Jacob’s duet was so crappy it was funny. They did a sort of rock arrangement to “I’m Into Something Good” and it actually hurt them, since they both did some caterwauling and shrieking. At one point they even serenaded La Lopez, but it was all a mess. The whole thing looked like they got drunk, decided to match clothes, went to a karaoke bar, picked some random Carole King song and tried to seduce a girl while also kind of seducing one another. Weird stuff.

What did you think?

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Movie Review: WATER FOR ELEPHANTS

It’s always hard for me to write a review for something that I neither loved nor loathed. Such is the case for the movie adaptation of Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants (which I haven’t read), starring Reese Witherspoon, Robert Pattinson and Christoph Waltz. It has talented actors, nice production values, and beautiful costumes but for some reason doesn’t connect emotionally.

Set during the Depression, it’s the story of Young Jacob (Pattinson), a Cornell veterinary science student who joins the circus as the vet after a family tragedy leaves him homeless. He falls for the star attraction, Marlena (Witherspoon), who’s married to the evil Machiavellian boss, August (Waltz). Jacob struggles between his need for a job and the horror he feels when he sees August mistreat the animals. In the end, Jacob has to decide what kind of life he wants and whether he can give Marlena the one she deserves.

Though the movie has one heartthrob and two Oscar winners in it, Tai the elephant, as Rosie, steals every scene she’s in. She’s more expressive than Pattinson, makes us gasp in wonder, whimper in pain in sympathy, and clap with delight. She has more chemistry with the humans than the leads have with each other, which is ultimately the movie’s downfall.

This is the first time I’ve seen Pattinson play a normal person without any wizardly or vampiric powers and he’s rather…dull. There’s no extra oomph factor that makes an actor truly memorable on screen. Meanwhile, the normally spunky Witherspoon is subdued as the trapped Marlena. They both look great—her slinky gowns are to die for—but there’s absolutely no heat between them. When you can’t feel the love in a love story, it’s a problem.

Waltz’s performance as the capricious August is masterful; the actor made me tense from bracing for the violence that might erupt from his character at any time without warning. I can’t think of many actors who could’ve played this part as well as he did. But it’s similar to what Waltz did in Inglorious Basterds and therefore didn’t feel as fresh.

Since I’ve never seen a live circus, I did enjoy the few glimpses of the show under the big top. I marveled at the acrobats and Rosie doing her tricks. But once the lights in the theater came up, the movie left me with an empty feeling, as if the circus had moved on and left me wanting more.

Nerd verdict: Elephants lacks emotional weight

Photos: David James

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Book Review: THE INFORMATIONIST by Taylor Stevens

One of the reasons I love to read is to educate myself. There are books that entertain and examine the human condition and tell great stories but sometimes I’m attracted to something simply because it sounds foreign to me.

That’s partly why I wanted to read Taylor Stevens‘s debut novel, The Informationist. It takes place in African regions I don’t often hear about and has characters talking in a language I’d never heard of (Fang, anyone?). It also has an interesting lead character in Vanessa Michael Munroe, someone who’s expert at extracting information from anywhere anytime. She sometimes disguises herself as a man—hence the middle name.

She’s hired by Texas billionaire Richard Burbank to locate his daughter, Emily, who went missing four years ago while traveling in Africa, where Munroe grew up. She returns there with Miles Bradford, both a bodyguard and babysitter assigned by Burbank, to find answers but also to confront certain ghosts from her wild, violent past.

Munroe has been compared to Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander in blurbs and I can see why: she’s good with computers, rides a motorcycle, is antisocial, formidable in a fight, etc. But that’s just PR shorthand because Munroe is her own person and I never felt that Stevens was aping Larsson. If the author was borrowing from anywhere, it seems to be from her own life. As I mentioned in this earlier post about authors’ bios, Stevens had a peripatetic childhood during which she lived with a cult in two dozen countries (including Equatorial Guinea, where much of the novel’s action takes place) and was denied education after the age of twelve. Munroe is resourceful and resilient in a way that I imagine Stevens had to be when she escaped from the cult. I’m probably projecting but when the novel comes with that kind of backstory, it’s hard not to.

The prose can be a little melodramatic at times but the plot is smart, the action brutal, and the heroine as unconventional as the setting. You’ll gain knowledge about a foreign world and in the end become a bit of an informationist yourself.

Nerd verdict: Savvy Informationist

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AMERICAN IDOL S10: Top 7 in the 21st Century

by Poncho

I’ll be the first to admit this episode was much more interesting than the last. The premise by itself, “Songs of the 21st Century”, made me smile a little, because this was the first real chance for most of these kids to be current (Miley Cyrus songs aside). They made me feel awkward, though: Of the seven songs, I only knew three beforehand so perhaps that gave them some advantage since I can’t compare theirs with the original performances.

Before I started watching this show, I did a little backtracking and noticed that, if this was one of the past seasons, we would’ve already witnessed outstanding performances [by this point in the competition]: Kelly Clarkson had already made us stand up with “A Natural Woman,” the Velvet Teddy Bear had taken many to “A Whole New World,” Fantasia & JHud had brought “Summertime” to a full “Circle of Life,” Carrie Under-bot had sung the hell out of “Alone,” and even Kris Allen had made us hear “Ain’t No Sunshine” like it was the first time while others melted with Glambert’s “Mad World.”

But not this season. There haven’t been many standout performances—none at all, for that matter. I even went back to last week with Casey’s “Nature Boy” and [decided] it wasn’t that much of an Idol Moment™. I’m still waiting…

Scotty McCheesy opened the show “Swingin’” on full Velveeta mode. C’mon! I thought he was pulling back! It was not good. His lower register only shone a couple of times and the whole thing was boring. I still think he’s got one of the most mature voices on the show, but he must do something else on stage pronto. He’s getting way too comfortable in his niche and there’s just no wow factor to it. I mean, I’m even starting to want to fast-forward through his airtime (a privilege only granted to the judges). Also, his song ain’t really from this century. Though LeAnn Rimes covered it, “Swingin’” was originally released in 1983! I call that cheating!

I didn’t think anyone would sing anything from Muse on AI but James “Sloth” Durbin did try to perform “Uprising.” He even brought some marching band drummers to the Idol stage. I’ll give it to him: He’s a showman, and a very good one, I must say. A good singer? Not really. He botched a lot of notes, especially the lower ones, but he sort of came together on the wailing. It wasn’t unpleasant, but good it was definitely not. And he’s absolutely got to stop eye-sexin’ the camera because it gives me serious chills.

Next was one of the most excellent song choices and the most current one in the show tonight: Haley Grrreinhart went blue-eyed soul and sung Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep.” The Grrreinhart bandwagon keeps rolling, babe! Oh, my! Gotta admit that taking over Adele’s great soulful voice ain’t easy, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t say Haley did it nicely. It’s not tough to see Haley as the one who’s growing the most, and who’s less afraid of taking risks (“BENNY AND THE FRAKKING JETS”!!). The bridge started rough but she quickly managed it, and her falsetto and run at the end were things of beauty. This one paid off, in my book.

The Lusky Skank got overly emotional with “Dancing with My Father” by Luther Vandross. I will not argue about his connection to the song—it was definitely there. Hell, the emotion even overpowered his diva faces and took a serious toll on the pitch. I’ve been saying for quite some time that Jacob needs more control and getting that emotional on stage is not the way to find that.

Ca-sneer Abrams growled and sneered through Maroon 5’s “Harder to Breathe” and though it wasn’t bad, his performance lacked something. He lacks the appeal and stage presence Adam Levine has, and that really hurt Casey’s take. Also, Casey’s vocals couldn’t match the high tempo of the song. It felt like he was singing after the beat and it sounded weird. The original is way better than his 90-second version.

When Stefano Long-gone took the stage for his take on Ne-Yo’s “Closer,” I thought I was watching some guy being left alone by the rest of his boy band. It wasn’t just the look, but the way he got lost in the song. He did seem more comfortable and relaxed on stage. He did go out of his boring balladeer confort zone but that didn’t pay off. On other songs it seemed he tried too hard to hit the glory notes; this time it looked like he didn’t even try.

And finally, another candidate for our annual election of “Best Musician Who Upstages the Contestant”: the violinist playing next to Wauwen Alaina while she sang Sara Evans’s “Born to Fly.” Lauren was actually very good, nearly excellent. She sang the hell out of the song and took the stage very well. Her only mistake was that she didn’t interact enough with the other performers and looked awkward when she sang next to them. Either she needs to put them violin players somewhere where they can’t bother her, or ask the producer to get duller ones. Or better yet, get to know them before they perform together.

So that’s my take of this week’s Idol. I expect Stefano and Jacob to be in the bottom 3, and I’d put Scotty there, too. I’d put Long-gone out of his “Misery” (ha!).

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Book Review: Tina Fey’s BOSSYPANTS

Tina Fey’s essays on everything from girlhood rites of passage (such as “men-stru-hating”) to her days at Saturday Night Live and her struggles as a working mom are laugh-out-loud funny, but many of the details also come startlingly close to my own experiences. For example, she talks about trying to kiss a guy in front of the Monroe Hill dorms at the University of Virginia, making him run away from her. I lived at Monroe Hill while attending UVA and made a guy run away just by telling him I liked him. She says her go-to look in college was bicycle shorts with wrestling shoes, while I thought I was cool in bike shorts and jazz shoes. She played with Star Wars action figures, studied at Second City, and did touring shows. Check, check, and check for me, too.

But make no mistake—I am NOT comparing myself to Fey (who can?); I’m simply explaining her appeal to me and many people I know. She comes across like your witty and nerdy best friend, someone who doesn’t make you feel inadequate about how she’s a superwoman and you’re not. And while she’s making you laugh, she’s also slipping in wise nuggets like how the rules of improv can make good life philosophy:

The first rule of improvisation is AGREE. Always agree and SAY YES. When you’re improvising, this means you are required to agree with whatever your partner has created. So if we’re improvising and I say, “Freeze, I have a gun, ” and you say, “That’s not a gun. It’s your finger…,” our improvised scene has ground to a halt…Now, obviously in real life you’re not always going to agree with everything everyone says. But…at least start from an open-minded place. Start with a YES and see where that takes you…

The next rule is MAKE STATEMENTS…If we’re in a scene and I say, “Who are you? Where are we? What are we doing here?…” I’m putting pressure on you to come up with all the answers. In other words: Whatever the problem, be part of the solution. Don’t just sit around raising questions and pointing out obstacles. We’ve all worked with that person…Instead of saying, “Where are we?” make a statement like “Here we are in Spain, Dracula.” Okay, “Here we are in Spain, Dracula” may seem like a terrible start to a scene, but this leads us to the best rule:

THERE ARE NO MISTAKES, only opportunities.

Fey manages to convey a sense of gratefulness for her life while maintaining it isn’t easy, that she gets stress-induced canker sores just trying to decide if she has time for a second baby because two hundred people on the 30 Rock cast and crew depend on her for employment. (She must have figured it out because she’s now pregnant.) Just like her OB-GYN says to her in the book, “Either way, everything will be fine,” Bossypants makes you feel that way, too.

Nerd verdict: Bossypants rules

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Book Review: Marcia Clark’s GUILT BY ASSOCIATION

Former Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Marcia Clark acquits herself nicely in her debut novel, Guilt by Association (April 20), which is also the first title out of the gate for Mulholland Books, the new suspense imprint of Little, Brown that has an impressive lineup of writers raring to go.

Guilt centers on L.A. DA Rachel Knight, who catches the rape case of a young girl with a rich, politically connected father while she tries to surreptitiously solve a murder which she has been ordered not to investigate. She has help from a friend who’s an LAPD detective, and the friend’s boss, with whom there’s a spark. Despite all the police connections, Rachel finds herself in more than one harrowing situation before finally getting to the bottom of both cases.

Clark’s protagonist is clearly passionate about her job and getting justice for the victims, whom the author never loses sight of and makes sure we feel the damage done to them. She moves the story along at a steady clip and keeps the reader in the dark about the truths until near the end. And though many mysteries have been set in the City of Angels, I never tire of the descriptions of local haunts. (The ARC I have even comes with color photos of Rachel’s world, some taken by Clark herself.) Rachel lunches at the Pacific Dining Car and lives in the Biltmore Hotel, where she orders room service and hangs out in the bar with her friends. Can I get a deal like that, please?

As nice as Rachel has it, I think too much attention is paid to her clothes. There’s the clingy cobalt-blue sweater and the fab red V-necked one and the starchy white blouse with metal cuff links and charcoal-gray cashmere turtleneck, etc. I love fashion as much as the next girl and have drooled over gorgeous shoes, but in crime fiction I care less about what the protag is wearing and more about the next clue/discovery/plot development. The lavish descriptions used for Lieutenant Graden Hales—“tastefully muscled,” “gold-flecked hazel” eyes, “lazy smile,” “pronounced cheekbones, a strong nose, and a generous mouth”—also feel a little too romance-y for me. But while this book may not be as hardboiled as I’d like it to be, it’s a fast, diverting read that shouldn’t make readers feel guilty for picking it up.

Nerd verdict: Guilt is appealing

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Hot Trailers: COWBOYS & ALIENS, RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES

In case you weren’t watching the American Idol results show last night, the second Cowboys & Aliens trailer premiered and the movie, opening July 29, continues to look gooood. I can’t embed the video but you can see it here.

The trailer for another big summer movie debuted this week: Rise of the Planet of the Apes, starring James Franco, Freida Pinto, Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy), Brian Cox and Andy Serkis. Are you a fan of the previous ape movies? How does this origin story look to you? I can’t decide if it’s must-see for me.

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AMERICAN IDOL S10: Top 8 Perform Movie Songs

Poncho is back to get all up in Idol business, which he’ll be doing until a new champion is crowned.—PCN

This week, we’re missing one great vocalist with no sense of showmanship, and left with eight wannabes. I’ll admit the night was full of surprises. Nah. The night had a couple of welcome surprises, one Idol Moment™ and pretty much the same as usual for the rest.

Here’s my take:

Paul McDonald sang “Old Time Rock ‘n’ Roll” from Risky Business and it was weird in a cool kind of way. It started good and his seizures trademark dance moves were somehow made useful with a tambourine in one hand. Paul’s definitely getting more comfortable on stage and it shows. But then, a sax player came out and she absolutely upstaged Paul. She had so much more soul than he did and the notes coming from the sax were KILLER. I’d give a B to Paul and an A+ to the sax player. I’m guessing his banter with will.i.am and Jimmy Iovine about singing in his underwear will give him a lot of votes, but I’m still thankful he decided NOT to perform that way. ‘Nuff said.

Iovine told Lauren Alaina she’s a much better singer than Miley Cyrus, and I’m still wondering if that’s a compliment. I mean, I’ve got more political savvy than Sarah Palin, but I’ve never run for vice president (besides, I can’t). Anyway, Lauren picked Cyrus’s song “The Climb.” I gagged. “The Climb” is, in my opinion, one of the most overexposed so-so songs in history. But I’m grateful she decided to go current and be her age. Lauren has good vocals but the whole thing was underwhelming. After all, it’s from Hannah Montana: The Movie.

I’ll give Stefano Long-gone credit: he’s been consistent. Consistently boring, that is. He picked a Boyz II Men song and, though he did better than last week, he’s been performing in a whole different level than his fellow contestants, and I don’t mean it as a good thing. He’s mediocre, has little-to-no stage presence, and each song he picks sounds almost the same. Also, I think there might be some backlash against him after Pia’s exit. I’ll be bold and say it’s the “End of the Road” for him.

The good thing about Scotty McCheesy this week is that he’s pulling the Velveeta factor back. It’s still there; he can’t do nothin’ but hold the reins and try to manage it. The bad thing is, his choice this week—George Strait’s “I Cross My Heart”—exposed his vocal limitations. He finished the performance well and in good control, but his niche remains in slightly more uptempo songs where he can use his lower pitch. He’s still much better than other contestants (*cough* Stefano *cough*) and has the tweens in his pocket, so I think he’ll be safe.

I’ll admit it. I was actually very surprised at Casey Abrams. His song choice was bold, and the only intuitive thing about him picking Nat King Cole’s “Nature Boy” is that he looks like a lumberjack. His performance was laid-back and really intimate, and though he still has to control his face-pulling and avoid growling at times, he managed to do something very nice. I wouldn’t jump as the judges did and give him a standing ovation, but as I was watching him, I actually closed my eyes and pictured myself in a lounge with some drinks and great (female) company, just feelin’ it.

The judges blasted Haley Grrrreinhart after her cover of Blondie’s “Call Me.” She wasn’t as good as she was with “Benny and the Jets” two weeks ago, but she nailed most of the song. She botched the first two notes and got a little sloppy at the end, but her growl—again—fitted where she put it. And she had fun. I didn’t understand the bad criticism Jenny and her block gave Haley when she’s actually growing as a performer, and she still has so much more going on than many other contestants (*cough* Jacob *cough*). I hope she won’t become the sixth girl out because then I’d actually fear tween girls taking over the world.

Jacob Lusk-y Stank was bad. The performance wasn’t as catastrophic as his butchering of “Alone” was, but I didn’t feel his version of “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” At all. It’s just not the corniness and the diva faces; he lacks a good vibrato and he botched lots of notes. He went too low, then managed parts of the middle, then went too high, again too low, and by the time the backups came in, he was singing something else. I’m definitely not a Clay-mate but Jacob could never match what Aiken did on season 2 with this song.

But the award for best performance of the evening goes to Zakk Wylde from Black Label Society playing lead guitar for James Durbin on “Heavy Metal” by Sammy Hagar. Wylde was on fire, gave amazing riffs and the face-melting solo was out of this world. Then the judges said…wait, what? Why were they talking about the guy who wailed with no sense of pitch through Zakk’s masterful guitar work? I mean, I’d thank him for bringing a real rocker to the stage, but not praise him for being one ‘cause he ain’t. Oh, well, sometimes I don’t understand this show.

Did movie night thrill you?

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WRITE MORE GOOD

Some of you might know I freelance as an editor (I’m working on a fantastic manuscript right now), which requires me to be familiar with The Chicago Manual of Style and the Associated Press Stylebook.  But I’ve recently added another style guide to my desk so I can laugh when I take breaks from wrestling with apostrophes and commas.

Write More Good is by the folks known on Twitter as @FakeAPStylebook but it isn’t just a compilation of their greatest hits. As Roger Ebert mentions in the “fancy foreword,” the authors actually wrote a book to go with their advice. Take it at your own risk, however, because the cover clearly warns, “If you use this, you will get fired!”

Sample rules:

  • Do not use emoticons in headlines or the body of your text. If for some reason your story is about actual emoticons, please kill yourself.
  • Use apostrophes with care. Be aware of correct possession, as joint possession can get you a minimum five-year sentence in many states.
  • Parenthetical aside — Additional and often personal information included in a sentence, which should never be used in a news story according to our (douchebag) copy editors.
  • Shifting your point of view adds a sophisticated and avante-garde feeling to your writing: Us was walking down the street noticing that my shoes had become scuffed; you had been longtime companions, we five: my shoes, I feet and your mom.
  • Canon/cannon — Canon is what is considered an official part of a work, such as the Bible or Star Wars. A cannon is what you want to shoot at people who won’t shut the f*ck up about canon.
  • Verbs are the most important words ever. We will stab anyone who says otherwise. See? We couldn’t have written that threatening sentence without the verb “stab.”
  • “Between” is used to refer to two items, “among” for three to ninety-nine, “centimong” for one hundred for more.
  • IMHO — Used to identify yourself as a whore.
  • Log/log in — Use “login” for the noun, “log in ” for the action, and “Loggins” when you’re footloose in the danger zone.
  • Backslash — The back of an extremely hairy guitarist.

Happy Monday! Hope you’re Loggins with no backslash in sight!

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