Archive: April, 2009
Disclaimer: This review is biased. I love the Boss, I think less of people who don't love the Boss, I wrote my college thesis on the Boss (" 'The Screen Door Slams'': Bruce Springsteen as Celebrity", I got an A-), I have a Boss-related tattoo and once my best friend (who attended with me and shares the previously mentioned tat) and I came up with our dream Boss setlist that included things like "All of Born to Run, expect for 'Meeting Across the River.'" And while I've shared my Springsteen-related opinions on these web pages before, nothing compares to seeing the heart stopping, pants droppin', house rockin', Viagra takin' E Street Band.
Welcome to the Church of Springsteen. Testify!
My knees hurt, my abs are killing me and my voice is strained. But it's just the side effects of seeing Bruce Springsteen live. If you don't feel like this after the non-stop, three-hour long set, you're not doing it right. And as worn out as I feel right now, Bruce and the boys were working 10 times harder. Bruce got a little sentimental about the impending demolition of the Spectrum ' saying old arenas that don't waste space on luxury boxes are the great equalizers for music fans. Everyone can hear and see. That is, if you and everyone around you isn't screaming out the lyrics at the same time. It was the first arena the E Street Band sold out and last night's show marked their 31st Spectrum sell out (47 in total for Philadelphia) so give the guy a break.
The setlist (see full list below) drew most from Darkness on the Edge of Town and The River and, of course, the recently released Workin' on a Dream (a word the uninitiated: The best way to fall in love with a new Springsteen album is to hear the songs smattered amongst the classics. It's how I warmed up to Magic and Dream, which I was lukewarm about, sounded different today during my morning commute). For the most part, he avoided Born to Run (until the encore at least) and took nothing from Born in the U.S.A. A bold move because of their inherent popularity, but considering how the band tailors their set list to the current national tone and the themes and song structures of those albums (the desire to become a man and detached narratives, respectively) it made sense in the long run.
So, highlights? The onslaught of the first four songs ' especially opening with the always crowd-pleasing "Badlands" ("It ain't no sin to be glad your alive") straight through to "Spirit in the Night" hurt it was so good. "Johnny 99" was transformed from a Suicide-ish, menacing four-tracker from the flawless Nebraska to a country barn burner, with the help of Soozie Tyrell's fiddlin' and Nils Lofgren's slide, which he produced by taking by jutting out his pelvis and resting his ax on it. Because Bruce and baseball have been linked in my mind recently, I'll call Nils the Shane Victorino of the E Street Band. He's a goofy, not a superstar but, man, he should be. If you are a Springsteen diehard and haven't checked out any of Nils' solo stuff, get thee to a record store. It's way better than Van Zant alone, trust me. Speaking of Lil' Stevie, he lived up to my expectations of looking like a retired pirate. And that's all a girl can hope for.
And that's when shit went crazy. Bruce collected fan signs from the crowd, which is the only way to get a song request in (yelling out your favorite tune over the roar? Sweetheart, not gonna happen). The first sign he placed in front of the camera? "London Calling: Did it stump E Street?" Bruce was pissed and threw the crumpled sign into the crowd. And that's when rock 'n' roll's future colluded with the only band that matters. And it was glorious.
Every Springsteen show has a Patti moment. They're in love and all so she generally gets a solo jaunt. It's also when most people take their beer/bathroom break because she's not a stellar singer and her song is usually boring. But, this was Patti's triumphant return to the stage after "falling off a horse" (hmmm ' hard to believe?). But instead of turning the mic over to Patti, Bruce sang "Red Headed Woman," possibly the romantic song about going down on a woman ("Your life's been wasted / 'til you've got' down on your knees and tasted / A red-headed woman, a red-headed woman.").
Then you have a song like "Thundercrack," which before the Magic tour, was non-album (it's on Tracks) song that they hadn't played since the '70s. How many bands do you know that have a non-album track that every single goddamned fan knows the words to? That's why going to see Bruce Springsteen isn't like going to see normal bands. "Thundercrack" went into "Hungry Heart," where Bruce hopped into the crowd and grabbed an old lady (not like middle-aged old, like super old) from the crowd so she could sing along. "Aw, someone brought their mom!" I thought. That is until Bruce said, "Sing it, Ma!" that I figured out it was Bruce who brought his mom. All together now: Awwwww!
Jay Weinberg took over for dad Max on drums, who will have to bow out of the tour early to take his place as the head of the Tonight Show band. This kid's got power and if he's not neck deep in cougar pussy by the end of the tour, there's frankly something wrong with him. On the other side of the spectrum (ha!), you have Clarence Clemons ' the one, the only Big Man. He could hardly walk, sitting for most of the show and having roadies fix his hair mid-song when it got too unwieldy. But he's still the last one introduced at the end, and he's still the only band member who can elicit Bruce-level cheers. He was wearing long black robes, a fedora and a gold-sequined sparkly scarf. He looked like a cosmic space pimp (you read that right). It was the most appropriate outfit I've ever seen.
Bruce ended the show with "Kitty's Back," from The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle (The biggest mistake amateurs make is thinking they're Bruce fans and not owning this album. Paired with Welcome to Asbury Park, N.J., I could talk for at least an hour and 15 minutes about how these albums accurately chart the rest of the band's career. But I won't. Just go listen). I used to hate this song. It's a little too long and the keys solo in the middle takes it down a notch. But those handclaps! They just got to me after awhile and I became a convert. There's a reason this song took it all home:
The best song for me? "Thunder Road." Bruce dedicated it to Harry Kalas, playing a clip of HK announcing Bruce coming up to the plate and hitting a grand slam. I live for this song. I think its the most perfectly written rock song of all time. I think its opening line says more than most other bands can accomplish in their entire careers. I think its lyrics capture a time and a feeling better than any other song in the pop canon. I had never heard the full band play "Thunder Road." I cried. Just a little, though.
Setlist (via Backstreets.com):
The Ties That Bind
Spirit in the Night
Working on a Dream
Raise Your Hand
Red Headed Woman
The Promised Land
Streets of Philadelphia
Kingdom of Days (w/ Jay Weinberg)
Radio Nowhere (w/ Jay Weinberg)
Lonesome Day (w/ Jay Weinberg)
The Rising (w/ Jay Weinberg)
Born to Run (w/ Jay Weinberg)
* * *
Hard Times (w/ Jay Weinberg)
Thunder Road (w/ Jay Weinberg)
Tenth Avenue Freeze-out (w/ Jay Weinberg)
Land of Hope and Dreams (w/ Jay Weinberg)
American Land (w/ Jay Weinberg)
Kitty's Back (w/ Jay Weinberg)
So, yesterday, the WHO - those of the infectious diseases, not the Magic Bus - raised the pandemic level of swine flu to 5. In order to celebrate, I bring you Pandemic 2, which lets you create a disease (viral, bacterial, or parasite) to wipe out the entire world.
Once you name your little microbe, you'll start with one infected person in one of the world's regions. As your disease evolves, you'll get points to spend on modes of transmission and symptoms that make it spread faster (coughing, vomiting) and more deadly (liver failure, hemorrhaging), with the tradeoff being it becomes more noticeable. If your super bug is killing off loads of people, expect other countries to shut down their borders, airports, and shipyards. The trick is to find the right balance of invisibility and contagiousness, and then, once the world is infected, crank up the lethality and unleash your maniacal cackle.
It's all very fun in a mad scientist sort of way. I hope you'll be playing from your secret island fortress.
Go have fun here.
|Philadelphia Museum of Art|
Bruce Nauman is an artist who many people don't get. Or, to put it more honestly, someone who infuriates people with his strange and sometimes maddening sculpture and sound works. From people both in and outside of the art community, he garners a lot of "Is that really art?" comments.
Take a gander at the right to judge for yourself. I consider his neon pieces to be eerie and transfixing, and often very insightful ' the line "The true artist helps the world by revealing mystic truths" is arguably a mystic truth itself.
Here's what Alix Browne of the New York Times Magazine had to say about him:
If you're feeling generous, the work of Bruce Nauman can be described as 'challenging' or 'controversial.' 'Hostile,' if you're feeling less so. Or, as the artist himself once put it in the pages of this magazine, it's 'like getting hit in the face with a baseball bat.' Nauman, who over the past several decades has plied a variety of media from sculpture to sound and who, at 67, is widely regarded as the most influential artist of his generation, will represent the United States at this year's Venice Biennial, which opens to the public June 7.
Whether or not he's as influential as some claim, I'd imagine Nauman is a doozy to curate. The Philadelphia Museum of Art is taking it on, however, in Venice. And in fact, already has to a smaller degree ' The True Artist Helps the World by Revealing Mystic Truths is on the first floor of the museum. If you want to see Nauman's work before June 7 (and don't have a ticket to Italy anytime soon), I'd suggest you visit the PMA before then.
In this week's Kaleidoscope, I wrote about Jason Bateman's role in the recently released State of Play. Here's what I said:
It could have been a throwaway part played by some no-name. But Jason Bateman takes his role as the slicked-back hack in State of Play (see Sam Adams' review) and runs with it, showing up three Oscar winners in the process. Bateman brings humor and humanity to the sleazoid Dominic Foy, and inserts some much-needed levity into the oh-so-intense third act. Bateman's main fault in the film? He's not in it nearly enough.
Sam Adams, who reviewed the film, agreed:
The most satisfying characters are those we don't expect depth from: Helen Mirren's salty editor or Jason Bateman as a PR agent whose oiled-back hair suggests a species of burrowing rodent. Director Kevin Macdonald relies on his actors' charisma to fill in the gaps, a strategy that works for the length of the film if it doesn't leave much to mull over afterward.
Because Bateman has an important part in the film's third act, no clips would do him justice without completely spoiling the movie. For the same reasons, he's not in the trailer much. But here is is anyway:
But these vids don't really prove Bateman's inherent genius as a character actor. So here is the best scene of Teen Wolf Too:
In this week's Kaleidoscope, I wrote about the band Death, who I had heard rumblings of in hushed music geeks tones, but never really knew what they were about until an excellent New York Times article. Here's what I said:
Eschewing R&B after seeing Alice Cooper, the Hackney brothers formed Death in 1974, bridging the gap between the driving garage of the MC5 and loudfasthard punk. And then they faded into obscurity. Why? Because it would be impossible to market an all-black rock band from Detroit? Because they walked out on record man Clive Davis when he said they had to change their name? It's not the music. Drag City has collected it for the first time on ... For the Whole World to See. It's about time.
Afropunk was kind enough to post some videos.
"You're a Prisoner"
"Politicians in my Eyes"
2 a.m.'3 a.m.
Sorry, YouTube people: looks like there was no secret pinky air-pocket thing happening.
Featuring: Lots of rogue Tony action and the horrifying revelation that Kim Bauer has been allowed to reproduce.
We open with a new character, Patricia Eames. Trish is a young, blonde lawyer who happens to represent crazy-wack-funky Jon Voight. She is on her cell confirming her security access to the White House (ruh roh). She puts on her smart-girl glasses, checks herself out in the mirror, and then opens her door. Unfortunately for this career gal on the go, there are two baddies waiting for her. They spray her with what looks like Evian but seems to be more of our favorite paralytic agent. Instead of drooling, she just gasps a lot on the floor. Baddie number two happens to be a young blonde who, once she puts on Trish's smart-girl glasses, can totally pull off a Trish impersonation. They also take Trish's ID cards and her ring (was the ring really necessary? Maybe this imposter lady needed it to really get in character). The baddies use one of those fancy fingerprint-stealing devices that Marshall would have gone on and on about on Alias, and then they are ready to go.
At the FBI, Renee and Janis are trying to contact Larry, unaware that he has pulled a Chapelle and died seconds after he finally became slightly likable. They want to tell Dead Larry that they have identified the baddie who ran off with a container of Death Mist as one Robert Galvez.
We get a visual reminder of why Larry can't come to the phone right now as we cut to Tony standing over Larry's body. Sorry, YouTube people: looks like there was no secret pinky air-pocket thing happening. He's dead. Which means, of course, that he'll probably show up two seasons from now. Tony needs to look innocent, so he shoots himself. It looks like it hurts, but not more than the pain we felt in our hearts when Tony turned on us. TONY! Galvez calls Tony and Tony tells him to stay hidden. He mentions that the canister of Death Mist is worth a lot of money to his bosses. If Tony's going to be bad, can't he at least be the big boss responsible for all of this? Did he really go from being a CTU lackey to a Big Baddie lackey? TONY! As Tony collapses on the ground, the FBI finally shows up to 'rescue' him and Larry. It's the thought that counts.
At FBI headquarters, Renee is trying to do something important and productive so, of course, Kim shows up to interrupt her. Kim just wants to 'say goodbye' to Renee, who apparently is now her best friend. Renee is appalled that Kim is leaving rather than giving Jack her mutant stem cells to save him from Deathmistitis, and she asks Kim why she couldn't change Jack's mind about accepting her help. Kim rightfully points out that changing Jack Bauer's mind is about as likely as winning the lottery, getting struck by lightning twice, or dating Kim Bauer without losing a limb. Kim exits, managing to avoid getting trapped in the elevator with a rabid lemur.
Renee gets a call from Agent Park, on the scene with Tony and Dead Larry. Agent Park manages to deliver the news about Larry in the most monotone, least sympathetic way possible. Renee goes catatonic and wide-eyed. Janis intuits what is going on and she gets all sad, but expresses it by doing weird things with her upper lip. When Renee, who apparently is now in charge of the FBI, gets off the phone, she confirms the news to Janis, who slams down her phone headset overdramatically. Renee drops a scandalicious tidbit about her past with Larry as she says to Janis, 'somebody should notify his ex-wife, and it probably shouldn't be me.' Renee, you minx.
In an FBI conference room, Jack is trying to get his whole story out before his brain disintegrates. The agent taking his information exposits that they have covered several hours, starting at 8am, and have discussed the CIP device subplot. Dude, the whole thing will be out on DVD in like a month, can't you wait? The agent asks Jack who gave him the intel about the White House attack, and Jack recalls that it was his good buddy Tony, and he remembers the name of Tony's source, who supposedly died while Tony was interrogating him (Jack could have added, 'if I had a dime for every time that happened''). While he is talking, Jack has a Rainman moment and starts repeating himself. He leaves the room to take a quick brain break.
When he comes out into the hall, he sees Renee going all hottie commando, dressed in a bulletproof vest and getting the troops ready to go find Galvez. Jack asks Renee to clue him in, and she tells him about Larry in her detached, 'I'm in my happy place' voice.
Back with Tony and Dead Larry, we see Tony getting all kinds of sympathy from the FBI agents and paramedics. Tony slips off unsubtly to make a phone call to Galvez. He tells Galvez that he will help him avoid the searching agents, and he cooks up a horrifying plan. Galvez needs to lure as many agents as possible into a building, and then blow said building up. This is like, evil. This is like, Nina-level evil.
At the FBI, Renee is getting into a chopper to get to the scene, since she has insisted on being part of the search for Larry's killer. Jack jumps in next to her and demands to go with her, despite his imminent brain implosion.
At the White House, blonde imposter lady is going through security. We all remember how well White House security works. The guy playing the security guard is way over the top, to the point where it's distracting and makes you wonder if there is more to his character. Probably not, though. After he awkwardly tells her 'you're Jonas Hodges' attorney' (thanks, buddy), she easily makes it through the id and fingerprint check. Inside the White House, Pillowface and Livs are strolling the halls so that they can discuss what has happened so far in this episode. Pillowface reminds Livs that last week Jon Voight told her he was only one part of a larger conspiracy. She wants Jon Voight transferred to the FBI for interrogation.
|I love heart attack tic-tacs.|
The imposter attorney visits Jon Voight in White House jail. He clearly sees right away that this is not his beautiful lawyer, and he gleefully asks how imposter plans to get him out of this mess. Alas, imposter is not there to rescue the funniest villain 24 has seen since Victor Drazen. She chastises him for being a big baby and reminds him that 'the bioweapon you developed for us was not meant for your personal use.' She backhandedly threatens his family and tells him the only way out is via a little red heart attack pill. She tries to convince him that taking the pill will let him die with dignity and perhaps will save the reputation of Starkwood. Um, not likely.
Livs comes to get Jon Voight and imposter lawyer, and she meets the lawyer's civil rights yammering with a deliciously snarky, 'in some countries they'd have shot him by now.' She's got spunk, that Livs.
On her way out of the White House, imposter lawyer makes a phone call to another baddie, Alan Wilson (thanks for the name, 24 Wiki!). Imposter lawyer assures Alan that Jon Voight will take the heart attack pill, and she also vouches for Tony's ability to keep up his end of the bargain. She is very effusive in her praise for Tony. Michelle is rolling in her grave.
Back with our search team, Tony is still helping Galvez escape under the nose of dozens of FBI agents. He is not even trying to hide it at this point. We see Galvez set up C4 in the abandoned building he plans to use as an FBI Deathtrap.
In the chopper on the way to the scene, Jack scooches over closer to Renee and whispers velvety nothings to her about the pain of losing a partner. She is still semi-catatonic so she responds by snapping at him about not telling her what to feel and about respecting personal space in a helicopter.
Jack and Renee land and go meet Tony, who looks less than pleased to see that Jack has come along for the ride. Renee insists on seeing Dead Larry's body, and her emotional moment is hampered by Jack poking around at Larry's bullet holes. This does serve a purpose, though, as Jack immediately notices some discrepancies in the wound versus the shell casings found at the scene. Within three seconds he deduces that Galvez was not working alone. Jack asks Tony, 'are you sure you're ok?' and then runs off to solve more mysteries. Tony gives Jack's back an amazing look that basically says, 'they had to bring freakin' Angela Lansbury.'
Kim Bauer is in a cab on the way to the airport, and she calls her significant other, Stephen. This may be her husband, as they spend a lot of time focusing on the fact that he has is wearing a ring. Or, maybe they were just proving to us that he has all of his limbs. It would have been a lot cooler if she was back with Rick. Was that actor busy or something? Anyway, Kim tells Stephen that Jack is dying, but that she is not going to stay with him. She then speaks the truest words ever uttered in the history of the show: 'my presence ' will only make things worse.' Amen. Stephen asks Kim if she told Jack about his granddaughter, and we cut to an adorable but large-headed baby named'. wait for it' TERI. Aw. Maybe poor Janet got a middle name shout out. Kim is going to have to have a lot of kids if she wants to name each one for someone whom she inadvertently killed. And what about those she simply maimed? After a while she would have to start naming her kids things like 'Miguel's leg' and 'Kevin Dillon's dignity.'
Back at the search scene, Jack and Renee are running things until Jack starts having brain implosion issues. He wanders off to inject himself with anti-seizure medication, and Tony follows him. Tony tries to talk Jack into going home to get help or die in peace or whatever, but Jack's not having it. Renee gets a call from one of her agents announcing a 'code yellow,' which apparently means the suspect has been spotted, not that the agent needs a potty break. Unfortunately, the actual agent is dead and it's Galvez making the call. Renee races off to the deathtrap, but Jack says he needs to stay behind. He reminds Renee that he thinks Galvez has a partner, and tells her to watch her back. Tony continues to make faces.
At the White House, imposter lawyer escorts Jon Voight to the transport van. She gives him a 'now would be a great time to kill yourself' look and hands him over to some soldiers. Jon Voight chats up the soldiers, asking them if they ever served with Starkwood operatives. One solider assures Jon Voight that the Starkwood employees he fought with were awesome and professional and stuff, and Jon Voight says, 'you just made my day.' Apparently we are supposed to feel bad for Jon Voight now. Um, some of us aren't quite over the whole bioweapon-spreading/plane crashing/trying to kill the president thing. But he's still damn funny. In the van, Jon Voight ponders the heart attack pill, and then takes it. True to the imposter lawyer's word, he instantly has a heart attack. The soldiers rush to get him medical attention, and it looks like he'll at least live long enough to get off a few more one-liners.
The FBI teams pull up at the Deathtrap House. Galvez plays his fake agent trick on them again and gets them to go inside.
Tony is still trying to be super nice to Jack back at the command station. Jack gets a call from the agent who was debriefing him earlier (heh). He wants to clear up a discrepancy with Jack's story, having something to do with the source Tony said gave him the info on the White House attack. Jack notices something on the FBI monitors and abruptly hangs up on the agent. Dying is no excuse to be rude, Jack.
At Deathtrap House, the agents storm in, ignoring all of the blinking red bomb lights and signs that say, 'this is a trap.'
|It's a trap. See how it's a trap.|
Turns out the monitor Jack was puzzling over shows him where the agents are by their cell phone signals. He figures out the fake agent ruse, since THE CALL IS COMING FROM OUTSIDE THE HOUSE (cue spooky music). He quickly warns the agents to get out, and Tony makes a 'd'oh' face. The agents run, but Galvez sets off the C4 and there is a huge explosion. Everyone wants to run but Jack tells an injured Agent Park to maintain the line around the perimeter, as breaking through it was clearly Galvez's objective in setting up Deathtrap House.
Despite Jack's orders, it's chaos at Deathtrap House, and Galvez walks nonchalantly through dozens of agents. Jack and Tony show up at the scene and Tony runs into the ruins of the house, presumably to save people but really for a meet-and-greet with Galvez. He finds Galvez smearing himself with dead agent blood. Ew. Jack, meanwhile, runs around screaming for Renee, who he finally finds giving half-hearted CPR to a crispy agent. Renee points out how this was the perfect spot to hit, and how it seems almost like Galvez knew their sweep patterns. Jack gets a very suspicious look on his face. Meanwhile, Tony escorts a wounded-looking Galvez out of the building. Jack calls the debriefing agent (heh) and asks him about the discrepancy with Tony's source. It turns out that Tony's supposedly dead source is alive and well. It's amazing that Jack was willing to accept Tony's years of alleged terrorist activity with a simple 'I was under cover' explanation, but this one tiny clerical error seems to cement Tony's guilt in his mind.
|I'm giving you a seizure with my brain.|
Tony is loading Galvez into an ambulance when Jack runs up and calls for him. Jack says he wants to talk to Tony, which in Jack language means 'I am about to pull a gun on you.' Jack reminds Tony that earlier in the day Jack had promised to kill Tony if Tony was lying about being a good guy-bad guy instead of a bad guy-bad guy. Tony offers a somewhat reasonable explanation for his lie about the source, and he pulls the 'you have a deadly brain toxin rotting your noggin' card to make Jack doubt himself. Low blow, Tony. Jack picks this very inopportune moment to have a giant seizure, and Tony grabs the gun. As Jack goes for his anti-seizure meds, Tony reveals that he stole the meds from Jack. Tony watches Jack seize as he tells Jack that he never wanted to hurt him, and that Jack should have stayed out of it, and that he would have gotten away with it if it weren't for those meddling kids. Then he shouts for paramedics, who come to Jack's aid as Jack stares up at Tony and says, 'oh no you didn't' in seizure language.
In the ambulance, the paramedic notes that Galvez seems to have no injuries and is merely smeared with blood. Good to see he was well-trained, but unfortunately he is about to get stabbed in the neck. Galvez rises out of his stretcher, horror-movie style, and hijacks the ambulance.
Next week: Tony kisses a girl and makes Jack cry. Jon Voight is in a hospital bed in a completely dark room that looks like it's on a spaceship but probably is not.
- 1 Paramedic (probably)
- Lots of FBI agents (at least one, as many as 30)
Francis Ford Coppola's quarterly literary magazine Zoetrope: All-Story is usually a good bet for smart, ambitious short stories, but this spring's Latin American Issue is especially excellent. Pieces by Carolina San'n, Ronaldo Men'ndez and Daniel Alarc'n ' not to mention the beautifugly sketches of guest designer Guillermo del Toro ' make this one a keeper.
Ronaldo Men'dez's "Insular Menu" was a particular favorite of Pat's and, will you look at that? Zoetrope's has an excerpt on their site:
The hot March morning they officially announced, after imperious rumors that never succumbed to sentimentality or fear, that bread and eggs were to be rationed, I noticed the shops had updated their advertised specials with signs that stated emphatically BREAD AND EGGS, ONLY WITH RATION BOOKLETS. This fact pained me, because I understood that the fading socialist sphere was abandoning us, and that this change would be the first in an infinite series. The socialist sphere will change, I thought with a forlorn vanity, but I won't. I confess my enthusiastic devotion had, from time to time, exasperated my skeptical colleagues. With socialism dead, I could dedicate myself to evaluating it, without hope, but also without exasperation. I decided to follow what, from that point forward, would be our Insular Menu. I considered that Sunday, March 10, was my daughter's birthday, and a visit to the Twenty-Sixth Street Zoo would be an irreproachable, perhaps unavoidable paternal act. That would be the last time we'd see, in his unwarranted, caged felicity,
the ostrich at the zoo. He tended to be so docile that each morning at the same time he would stretch his periscope neck outside the cage until he reached the director's pepetually open window. The director would offer him crusts of stale bread and plantain peels. Ah, Pancho! Never had such an ugly bird been the pretty pride of a zoo director. But one day the ostrich disappeared without a trace. After some inquisitorial sleuthing, chance hit unerringly upon its answer: At school one of the neighborhood girls remarked, completely off topic, that there was nothing to eat at her house, and then her father cooked a chicken leg like this for dinner. With this last comment, she opened her arms as wide as she could. The teacher pressed further, and the proud girl confessed that the chicken's neck was also like this, and the heart and the wings were like this. And so it was discovered that the zoo director had fattened Pancho and served him on his familial table, as the girl just happened to be the director's daughter. The bad example proliferated, and little by little the community of crocodiles was decimated, as were the collections of certain species of monkeys, all the birds, a few camelids, and other herbivores. In the end the zoo was reduced to hyenas and wolves, which tried to eat each other since there was no food for them.
You have to buy the issue to read the rest of "Insular Menu," which you can do right here.
We like American Idol ' too much.
Molly Eichel: Disco week is consistently stellar because it a) weeds out the people who can't take the heat and b) allows those that can to really shine. Only problem here: There wasn't much disco on tap. "She Works Hard for the Money" is '83 and Earth, Wind and Fire ' kind of? The great Ann Powers proves all of my points in a more eloquent way I ever could so why dontcha just go over there and read her LA Times blog. Here's I'll give you an excerpt:
Ultimately, the problem wasn't with the singers tonight; it was a larger one, embedded in the "Idol" formula. Despite its Velveeta reputation, disco was actually a music that vastly expanded pop's parameters, uniting funk beats and rock guitars, synthesizer swirls and gospel vocals, the sexual fantasies of libertine Italian producers and the liberating wails of black American divas. Oh, and Abba!
The musical range "Idol" traverses is tiny by comparison. It's basically crossover pop played by a competent studio band steeped in the grand inflections of Celine Dion, Bryan Adams and other blockbuster stars. It's nearly impossible for an "Idol" competitor to transcend the limits of the show's formulas (though Lambert keeps pushing).
Lil Rounds - I'm Every' Woman by Chaka Khan
Tommy Button: Oh, Lil. Every week you keep breaking my heart. And like the fool I am for you, I keep running back hoping my box will get the fit shucked out of it. I'm really sorry, Lil, but I think we have to call things off. It's just not working out like I had hoped. We just want different things and that's ok, but I think it'd be better if we went our separate ways. You picked out a great song but you just didn't do it justice. Mandissa from a coupla seasons ago sang this song and pretty much wrote the Idol book on it so that made it unusually bad for me.
ME: Ugh, Lil. I am so sick of hearing, "You have a great voice but you're just not box blowing the way you should." And Lil proves why Idol is so much more than an empty competition: It's the people who can switch it up, do different arrangements and give more than staid karaoke performance that are owning this year. Lil, while talented is falling by the wayside. While Chaka was a good song choice, I still think she should have done Thelma Houston's "Don't Leave Me This Way" or Candi Staton's "Young Hearts Run Free." I think she could have sung those songs better without messing with Chaka's iconography.
Lindsey Proulx: So disappointing! It was real nice knowing you Lil Rounds.
Kris Allen - Works Hard For The Money
TB: You can never, EVER go wrong with a song about a hooker. Ever since Pretty Woman American's have always had a soft spot in their heart for the plight of women of the oldest profession.
ME: This song isn't about a hooker. It's about a bathroom attendant. But I'm sure hookers work equally as hard as bathroom attendants.
TB: And no matter how much shit like this can annoy me, it was a pretty nice arrangement for a song I was pretty convinced he would butcher. Not to mention the end, was pretty kick ass with his little jam sesh. I hate it when contestants end a song by just holding some random note so this was a nice little refresher.' Kris Allen ' you're becoming more and more of a threat.
ME: Whoa, did Kris Allen just dark horse-ify himself? Each week, he takes more and more risks with his arrangements and his tunes and it's winning me over one white-boy-foot-shuffle as it is.
LP: And let's not forget, Kris is totally adorable.
Danny Gokey - Dancing in September by Earth, Wind and Fire
TB: Paula, somehow, in her drunken rambling, was able to piece together individual words to make a sentence I could both understand and agree with. Danny has got this monstrous sexy voice ' really, the manliest voice of any of the manly contestants. He took this song (a pretty good, but not amazing jam) and made it his bitch. He's singing from the gut like Van Morrison, or Levon Helm or any other tough son of a bitch. Danny Gokey is the antithesis to the Adams, Kris and Anoops. Despite his sometimes stupid attire, his voice defeats this namby-pamby-metrosexua-boyish-Fray-John Mayer bullshit that's been going around these days and really puts some gravitas back in the mix. The sad thing is, Danny is turning more and more into an underdog with Kris Allen wooing the ladies every night, with his smooth acoustic stylings. And Adam Lambert doing whatever he fucking calls that. But have fear of the underdog, Kris and Adam. Danny Gokey may just doom you both. Probably not, though and that'll suck. But he'll probably beat Kris.
LP: I like how he rocked both the beard and the glasses this week. Made him seem badass AND smart. And I think we can all agree that that's a winning combination. Kind of like Jess, from Gilmore Girls. Except Danny Gokey wouldn't bail town without telling his girlfriend.
ME:' The' judges are right. Comparatively, this is a pretty simple song. But Danny Gokey turned up the awesome-itude just a bit.
Allison - Hot Stuff by Donna Summer
TB: I think Allison was wearing some boob filler outer type thing in her dress. I dunno what you ladies call 'em but she was smuggling something. And I think I saw them. But I wasn't very interested. Does that make me a child predator?
ME: Yes. Yes, it does Tommy. But girly did look slamming in that pleather outfit.
TB: Maybe just a pervert. Whatever. Girl's got some chops! And her personality is getting better and better. Although, she's got an expiration date. She'll probably be the first of the Top 5 to go, but she also has complete coverage of the awkward 16 year old girl demographic. But with the troops thinning out, she's gunna have to take a bullet in the head sooner or later, I'm just saying sooner.
ME: She'll take down Kalamazo, no sweat. But she's gonna need to step it the fuck up if she wants to take on Kris. Even though she would have the 16-year-old girl demographic in any other competition, the one thing 16-year-old girls love more than a celeb they can identify with is, is one they can conceivably fuck. Or hold hands with. Puppy love, thy name is Kris Allen.
Adam Lambert - If I Can't Have You by the Bee Gees
TB: Fuck this. Watching Adam Lambert is like going to a Globetrotter's game. Most pointless shit ever. Everyone knows he's going to win and it ruins the whole thing. The only way this season will redeem itself is if there is a huge upset come finals. Or a monster truck rally.
ME: SUNDAY SUNDAY SUNDAY BRING THE KIDS TO SEE LAMBERT-ASAURUS CRUSH SUVS, PICK UPS AND HONDA ACCORDS SUNDAY SUNDAY SUNDAY.
TB: Sure, Adam did a fantastic job and taught an old dog a new trick with his rendition. And blah blah blah. He's still not infallible. All his performances give off a little self satisfying whiff. And he's totally able to get away with it because everyone loves him so he's got carte blanche when it comes to stroking it on stage. A coworker told me today I should just get on board and learn to love Adam so at least I'll enjoy the show. I would sit here for a million episodes in misery, all the while Adam Lambert winning the hearts of Americans as he climbs his way to the top than to watch two minutes of him and be genuinly happy. Besides, I don't think I can teach myself that type of thing.
LP: I don't have anything to say about his performance but I can say that my roommate and I both agree that we like Adam a lot more when his hair is slicked back out of his face. He just seems like so much less of a douchebag. When his hair is in his face and he's all rocking out, I just feel like it's too fake. Sort of like how I was when I was 15 and trying to be cool. But I wasn't. And that's how I feel about Adam. He's not cool, he's just really good at acting cool. Which also helps explain why Tommy and I hate him. Because we are obviously really cool, writing this American Idol blog and all.
ME: This was predicable in its unpredictability. Adam wasn't going to do something uptempo because that's what everyone else was going to do. Still, how much better would it have been if he stayed in line with everyone else and still ran circles around everyone else? He's got his haters, but I can't fight it anymore ' I get excited when Adam Lambert takes the stage. And that's the mark of a great performer.
Matt Giraud - Stayin' Alive by the Bee Gees
TB: Someone had to sing this song. And it had to be Matt Giraud. A ballsy/stupid move, considering he could have easily been singing that song in the shower this week. But all he has to do is stay in Top 5 territory which I think he pulled off. The song choice wasn't the best, but his performance was way less hokey than i thought it was gunna be and lucky for him Anoop and Lil sucked so hard. I would fucking hate to follow Adam, though. And it super sucks when the bitchy new judge immediately compares you to him. It's alright, Matt, I would try to distance myself from that douche as much as possible. Besides, Kara's certainly no Paula anyway.
LP: I'm glad it was Matt that sang this song and not Adam. Adam would have been so good, but in a way that would have made me totally hate him. Matt was just okay, and that made me like him. I mean, he could have really sucked.
ME: This is my favorite performance from him in a while. I was totally feeling the bridge and he didn't look as stupid as he usually does when he plays Poor Man's Justin Timberlake.
Anoop Desai - Dim All The Lights
TB: Anoop looked like he was about to sing at Easter service. Ohhhhhh when they roooollled the stone away! But unlike Jesus, you will not be rising again once you and Lil are crucified before the masses. His voice was good, I guess, but it's kind of hard to notice when you're fighting the urge to punch your TV. Anoop, you're true colors came shinging through tonight. And that color was pink. Like a pussy. A big pussy. You just aren't cool enough to whip out these sexy, R&B songs. It's whiny and awkward and smacks of this quiet desparation to be loved. I just don't believe anything you sing. But I do believe Seacrest when he says you look like Groucho Marx
LP: I don't know, I kind of liked it. Although, the more I see of him, the less I would like to hang out with him. And that doesn't really help Anoop since the main reason why I liked him this whole time was because he was the one I'd want to hang out with. Just in general, I don't think guys should wear pink. Whether they are a real man, as Paula apparently thinks Anoop is, or not.
ME: I don't think Anoop wants to be the next American Idol. I think he's looking for a girlfriend. I could see him perform this song at a karaoke bar to close the deal on the slutty sorority chick whose had a few too many Malibu and Diets. Could this be the greatest Match.com profile ever?
ELIMANATED: Lil Rounds and Anoop Desai
Totally deserved, obviously the weakest of links.
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