Those Hispanics Are Stupid

I’m late to it, but last week’s Survivor sure had some entertaining moments.
That whole “let’s throw the challenge so we can boot off our weak link” idea was terrifically idiotic.  It shows an absolute lack of foresight on their part.  Okay, so they didn’t like Billy, and Billy wasn’t participating in the group dynamic to their liking.  That’s fine.  But strategically, the thing to do is to keep Billy around until you legitimately lose a challenge, and then snuff out his ass (gross visual).  Instead, they selfishly get  rid of him, and sure the dynamic in the camp may be more harmonious (I doubt it), but they are now in a situation where they can’t afford to lose a challenge.  They should have sucked it up and put up with Billy’s lack of social interaction until they needed to lose him.  Any way you slice it, it was a stupid move.
The whole division by races thing is interesting.  I never had a problem with it, as really, it’s no different than last year when they divided the groups by age and by sex.  No difference.  That there was outrage and huffiness about it just shows how uncomfortable America is about race, imo.  Now that it’s done, though, I find it very interesting how the people involved in the various tribes are hyper aware of their racial-ness.  When they break down the “race-tribes” and separate into two tribes or whatever they’ll do, I think the bonds of race that many had formed will remain pretty strong throughout the rest of the season.  At least, moreso than bonds of age did last time.  I found the small discussion that was happening in the American-Asian group regarding Cao Boi’s poor taste in racial jokes to be unsatisfying.
Finally, at Tribal Council, Billy’s proclamation that he and Candice? are in Twooo Wuvvv was a fantastic What The Hell?  It came absolutely out of nowhere and threw everyone for a loop.  I can’t wait for the moment when someone asks Candice about her feelings for Billy.  It’ll be a heartbreaker for sure.
A pretty good episode, all in all.

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Butch, Sundance & Pamela Anderson

You may remember a couple of months ago, I was approached by a sort of grassroots marketing company and asked if I’d be interested in reviewing the newly released DVD of Pamela Anderson and posting it to my blog.  Of course you remember.  This blog is very important to you.  Anyway, I said I’d be delighted to do that (no qualms here about being a shill for the Hollywood machine).  So they sent me the DVD and I watched it, and posted what I thought was a fairly un-shill like review.  I’m not going to bother to find the post and provide a link to it, because somehow that implies these posts have worth.  And while I suspect a number of readers get disconsolate if I don’t post something fresh for them to read each day, and they would argue that these posts do have worth, at least to them, I prefer to think of these posts as empty vessels.
So, I reviewed it and that was that.  Until today, when the same company emails me and asks if I’d be interested in presenting another review.  Whereas last time I had to trek through the sludge of comedy that focused far too much on Miss Anderson’s gaping beaver (alleged)  (Alleged gaping, not alleged beaver, because I think we’re all pretty sure she’s not got dangling participles down there), this time I may have struck gold.  I’ll be sent a DVD of a new collector’s edition of one of my favourite movies:  Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

And just now, having re-read those last couple of sentences, I realise how sad and pathetic it is to create a post about how one is excited about the anticipation of receiving a free DVD in return for being something of a corporate whore.
No.  I will not allow myself to fall for that kind of talk.  I am a valued member of the critical press.  My opinion is cherished.

It is also for sale.  If anyone else wants to send me stuff in return for my honest opinion of it, I’ll gladly listen to your offers.  Perhaps you have a photo you took, and you have no idea if it’s Art.  Send it to me, and I’ll tell you.  Maybe you’re in charge of soliciting low-ranking bloggers for their opinions on how well the latest video iPod works.  Send me one, and I’ll tell the world what I think.  Maybe you sell frozen beefsteak from the western provinces and are trying to get a foothold here in Eastern Canada.  Ship some steaks my way and I’ll cook ’em up and eat ’em.  Then I’ll tell the great multitudes of readers (conservatively estimated now at at least tens of ones) whether they’re worth purchasing.

I’ll Say It… I’m In Love With Prince

So, there’s about 15 minutes of air-time to kill yet, before the last-minute announcement of who is the next American Idol.  It’s been an hour and 45 minutes of some really awful medley songs from “the idols” and some slightly better songs from some special guest stars.
We come back from a commercial break and Ryan’s at the podium.  He tells us that that’s it for the guest stars, no more surprises.  So, immediately I know there’s gonna be another surprise.  Especially with 15 minutes left.  He continues talking and I’m wondering if it’s gonna be some lame-duck music icon from decades past, or some lame-duck pseudo-icon from present day.  All of a sudden, Ryan gets interrupted by some horn blasts, and the lights go all funky.
It’s a little jarring, and takes me about two seconds to realise that *this* is the surprise.  Okay, so who’s it gonna be?  Cut to the stage and these two sexy women are dancing.  At the back of the stage, the doors open and somebody is silhouetted.  Somebody small.  He does some Michael Jackson dance moves (or should I say James Brown?).  Surely it’s not Michael, I think to myself.  And then, even before that thought finishes, I understand.  I understand but cannot possibly comprehend.  Because, right there, on the TV, during American Idol… right there, is Prince.
Prince.  On American Idol. 
The thought that it’s some Prince impersonator shoots through my mind, but I don’t believe it.  Yet I cannot believe what I’m seeing.
Prince. On American Idol.
And I gotta say:  He frigging owned that stage.  He sings a coy version of Lolita (from his latest, great album 3121), and he looks like he’s having lots of fun. 
Song ends and I’m very happy.  What a fantastic surprise!  And what a way to end the season.  Prince.  On American Idol.
Then he sings a second frigging song!  (Satisfied, also from 3121).
After that, I think Taylor Hicks won the competition.  I don’t care about that, though.  Friggin’ Prince was on American Idol.

Here’s the YouTube video.  It may not be available for long, so watch it early:

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Wise Man Say, Fools Rush In

I always get nervous when American Idol has theme nights where they attempt to tackle songs that are so iconic, such as tonight’s Elvis Night.  So many of these songs are so ingrained in our heads that it becomes really difficult to put your own unique, individual stamp on them.  Of course, when you’re talking about American Idol, “unique” and “individual” aren’t concepts that should be expected, so what difference, eh?
The Wise Man in this post’s title refers, of course, to Simon Cowell, who absolutely got his criticism perfectly right for each of the performers.  He was spot on with each and every song.  And the Fools Rush In part refers, of course, to the voters who will vote Katharine through, and vote Elliott home this week, based more on their looks than on their talents.
It’s pretty obvious to me that Elliott has been the cream of the crop these past few weeks.  (or, creme de la crap, if you’re not a fan of his).  Yet, he doesn’t stand a chance of going any further than this week, I don’t think, because he’s not the poster boy for Idolation.  Both his songs tonight were fantastic, I thought.  It will be interesting to see if his decision (I assume it’s *his* decision and not a handler’s) to sing lesser-known songs will work to his advantage or his disadvantage.  On one hand, he sang them beautifully and with emotion and feeling (something the other three lack, I think).  On the other hand, people may go “is that even an Elvis song?  I don’t like him for not singing my favourite Elvis song and for making me think.  And for making me look at his face, as it contorts into weird shapes.  And that tooth-gap.”
So, good luck, Elliott.  I will be totally amazed if you make it past this week, but you absolutely deserve to.  I wasn’t a fan early on, as you never really seemed to reach the potential of your voice.  But lately, as Randy would say “Dude, you brought it!”
Taylor, quite simply, has got to stop doing that silly little step-dance-step dance thing that he does when he sings up-tempo “fun” songs.  It’s an ill-fitting suit, that dancing, Taylor.  His performance of “In The Ghetto” started out okay, but as soon as he stood up, he seemed to lose the honesty of the song and tried to fake the emotion for the rest of it.  He lost me at that point.
Chris, again, did a really good job, but, again, he seems to lack any sense of emotion, or connection to the lyrics that he’s singing.  But he fakes emotion really well.  I suspect that America will buy it and be satisfied with him as their Idol.
Katharine, in my opinion, deserves to leave the show.  I doubt she will, though, because that would mean no more women left, and we can’t have that.  The last few weeks, she seems to be really reaching to find the truth of the songs she sings, and ends up, for me, over-singing.  That’s what she did tonight.  While Paula may like the fun and bouncy Katharine from the first song, I did not.  I don’t think fun and bouncy is her forte.  Sexy and seductive is her forte, whether we like it or not.  Her rendition of Can’t Help Falling In Love missed the mark for me, too.  I’d say it suffered from the Rita MacNeil Syndrome.  If you’ve ever seen Rita sing, she always has a smile on her face, regardless of the content of the songs she sings.  Her smile often belies the sadness that is inherent in a song.  Katharine, too, falls prey to that effect.  Can’t Help Falling In Love is a tricky song, when you look at the lyrics.  It’s not really a straight-forward love song.  It’s not like the singer is embracing the love that s/he is in.  It’s just that s/he can’t help feeling the love.  As she was singing that song tonight, I thought that the perfect direction to give a singer who’s singing that song is to imagine that you’re singing it to someone you love, but who is, say, physically abusive towards you.  I think in that direction, the sad truth of the lyrics could come out.
Anyway,  Katharine was, by far, the weakest tonight.  But she should be safe because she’s the last female in the competition.
Elliott will go, because I sense that America just doesn’t have the love for him that they do for the other three.  And American Idol is all about that love.  It’s not so much about the ability to convey emotion or a sense of understanding the lyrics of what you’re singing.   Just look pretty enough, honey, and the voice pitch machine will fix all the rest.

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Mission Impossible III – Trailer Review

This is the start of what may become a new semi-irregular feature here at The Annekenstein Monster – Theatrical Trailer Reviews.  It’s not very often that I go to the movies.  While I don’t find the admission price to be too much of a deterrent, the allure of the acutely-expensive popcorn/pop/etc, and the generally poor theatre etiquette of others are more than enough to keep me away.
But I like talking about movies, and since the trailers pretty much give away the whole plot anyway, I figure a smart (ass) review of the trailer should suffice.

So, here’s my review of the theatrical trailer for Mission:Impossible III, which opens tomorrow, world-wide:
As we open on a crisp, blue night-timey cityscape, it’s apparent right away that there’s gonna be some cold-blooded killing going on.  Close in on Tom Cruise, standing on top of a building.  A crisp, blue, glass-encased building, so you know it’s just begging to be broken into.  Or, jumped off of.  Tom looks angry – “Tibbets Is Tough” Angry.  But we don’t know why.  Perhaps he’s just been interviewed about Scientology again?  Maybe the placenta tasted ‘off’?  Zoom in, ever in, to perform a retinal scan of his eye.  Turns out it’s the man they call Ethan Hunt, the Mission Impossiblist, and, judging by the thing that’s burning (either it’s a fuse, or his penis) he’s angry because a) there’s not much time left until something blows or b) Katie just gave him an STD.  Maybe the plot involves trying to get an STD antidote?
Immediatley after the credits, as soon as he puts on the welding glasses, the action starts and you get the feeling it won’t let up again for the whole 2 or 3 minutes of the trailer.  BAM: get out a gun BAM: meet Truman Capote (maybe the plot does involve STD’s?) BAM: meet the girl BAM: meet Larry Fishburne, the guy they got when they couldn’t get Sam Jackson BAM: meet the explosives.  BAM: slow down for some expositional character acting, where the plot gets revealed. Something about Capote looking for some In Cold Blood Redux.  Great acting at this moment, from Cruise particularly, as he looks at the girl, looking all intense and not even moving, hardly.  Can you say “People’s Choice”?  Then, right after the sell-line “This summer, the mission, begins” (excellent work by the way, PR guys.  Top notch line-selling), out of nowhere, comes the weld-spectacled Cruise and it’s all “Explosives, meet BAM!”  And, literally, (SPOILER ALERT!!!) everything starts blowing up and things fly and fall everwhere as we see, I’m pretty sure, scenes from previous Mission Impossible movies (perhaps to catch us up?).  Helicopters zoom, boats zim, rubberized dummy heads shimmer, motorcycles motor, and people everywhere look so sexy and hot with all kinds of implements and devices in their hands.  I’ll say this for Cruise, nobody runs with more intensity than Tom Cruise.  Except, maybe, Forrest Gump.  But for Ethan Hunt, Life is Like A Box of Explosives (you can have that one, PR guys), and to avoid it all, he runs and jumps and kisses and punches, and rides and drives and jumps some more.  Wow!  I’m exhausted!  And there’s still 25 seconds to go!
Finally, we come to the climax of the trailer, and what a climax it is.  Check out this dialogue:
Cruise:  You’ll never get what you want!!!
Truman Capote:  You don’t think I’ll do it!!!!! (and it is NOT a question!  Because you KNOW he damn well will!)
Then, in a marvellous super-agent moment, Cruise is running down a bridge, and a car explodes directly behind him.  Miraculously, instead of forward, the impact waves cause him to be blown sideways (don’t think he hasn’t asked Katie for that, either) into a car.
And that’s the end.
All in all, an action packed trailer.  But, really, if you’ve seen one Mission:Impossible III trailer, you’ve pretty much seen them all.  Only check it out if you’ve got a huge Cruise Missile in your pants for Tom (you can have that one, E!DailyTonight guys)

Trailer for Mission:Impossible III

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The Idol To Interest Ratio

I just realised that my CAAIQ (Caring About American Idol Quotient) is inversely proportionate to the number of contestants still involved in the show.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m still interested.  I still watch.  But, as the numbers dwindle (there are, for only a few more hours, still five contestants left), my apathy as to who wins increases.  Of course, at the beginning of each season, I still don’t care who wins, but I do have to admit that my CAAIQ is at least two points higher (with a 3.4 +/- accuracy rating).
Each week, it seems, it dawns on me with more clarity just how unlikely it’d be that I’d ever buy (or even illegally download) an album from any of these people.  None of the remaining contestants, I don’t think, would produce music that would come close to my tastes in music.  That goes for every contestant whoever appeared.
So, with little care in my heart, here I go with my somewhat-weekly diagnosis of the week’s performances and my choice of odds-on favourites to leave the competition.

Two songs each, last night.  Sometimes I think to myself, I should grab a pen and pencil (or get a laptop) and write down song choices, and thoughts as they came to me while I watched.  But that would seem too much like work, so no thanks.  I’ll do that when somebody approaches me with money to write these worthless weekly wrapups.  That is to say, I’ll not ever do that.

Elliott – I’m sorry, Elliott, but I don’t know if your name has one or two ‘l’s or one or two ‘t’s… I go with two of each.  I gotta say, Elllllliottttt has really turned it up a couple of notches the past couple of weeks.  Last night, I thought he was the strongest in terms of being consistently good with both songs.  His vocals have really seemed to improve, mostly, I think, due to increased confidence.  Or at least the appearance of increased confidence.  I still think his looks will ultimately fail him, as will Ryan’s propensity to Jewify the pronunciation of his last name.  It might very well be the way it’s pronounced, but I think The Ignorant Heartland of Ammurika would prefer Jewish names to be pronounced more like “Smith”.  At this point in the competition, the fickle audience is looking for any reason to oust a competitor, and two plausible exit-strategies for Elliott are 1) his poor dental work and rather cro-magnon forehead, and 2) the pronunciation of his last name.  Number two wouldn’t be an issue if Ryan (whose “Seacrest” is no doubt an Ammurikanized variation on Seacrestenberg) would pronounce it “YA-min” instead of “yah-MEAN”.  His singing has grown on me over the past couple of weeks.  His personality, not so much.  Yet it is growing.

Paris – I believe a number of weeks ago, I wrote a post suggesting that Paris sing Prince’s “Kiss”, to really ruffle the “keep her a 16 year old virgin forever” puritans out there.  Last night, she sang it.  If my post had anything to do with her choosing it, I apologize to everyone.  I thought it was terrible.  She  took everything great about the song (the sexiness, the naughtiness, the purpleness) and blanderized it.  Maybe it was the arrangement.  No, it was Paris.  Her second song was no better.  I think the pressure’s getting to her.  She’s trying too hard at not trying too hard.

Chris – Speaking of trying too hard. Chris, buddy, you gotta open up your heart and let the sun shine in, friend.  You sing from a very dark place.  Admittedly, you sing really well from that dark place, but man, are you ever getting boring with your serious attitude.  Song One you knocked the socks off it.  Song Two you sang too hard and in so doing, exposed the weakness in your talent.  You give it all you have, from the throat up, but you give your songs no soul, which lies deeper.  (Ugh on me for writing that sentence).  Seriously, dude, you probably deserve to win, but man, lighten up.

Katharine – I realised last night what it is about her that keeps me from embracing her as much as everyone else.  She reminds me of Catherine Zita Jones Douglas.  She’s got the same stature as the woman Michael Douglas has sex with.  Her closeups reveal the same sheen and glimmer of just-too-much makeup that CZJD has.  Mind you, if she reminded me of a pre-Douglas Catherine Zita Jones, then all bets off, she wins my heart.  But, the Michael-Douglas era Catherine has an aura of smirch about her.  And so does this Katharine.  Nope, can’t root for her.  And once I made that Zita Jones connection, the performance of her songs became irrelevant to me.  I think, though, that her songs were rather ordinary. Nothing to write home about.

Taylor – Taylor has got to stop dancing and trying to force his goofy, jokey sensibilities on Ammurika.  Yeah he loves to sing, yeah he has a great voice, yeah he’s passionate about it all, yeah he doesn’t mind looking the fool expressing himself… all these things should add up to a winning guy.  But they don’t.  Because of the dancing.  Because in that dancing, he shows us just how much (as Simon truthed it) he looks like anyguy at anywedding.  And, he’s not strong with upbeat songs, I don’t think.  When he does those, he becomes a moderate talent.  But when he sings soulful and bluesy, like he did on “Something”, well, it’s like he’s another person altogether.  I really enjoyed his rendition of that song, and thought it only lacked due to the necessary brevity of its arrangement.

The five, in order of their performance last night:

Elliott
Chris
Taylor
Katharine
Paris

I think Paris will go tonight.  At the beginning of the competition, I would have thought she was a sure Top Three candidate, but the last few weeks, she’s been slipping quite a bit in both the quality of her performances, and in the number of votes she gets, comparitively.
If not Paris, then I can see anyone else, except Chris, leaving.  I would only be surprised tonight, if Chris leaves.

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