Monday, July 31, 2006

Matthew St. Amand's Randham Acts

Matt St. Amand is one of the most talented writers that I have the pleasure of knowing. He's been a great inspiration to me, and also a good friend. I devoured his collections short stories, As My Sparks Fly Upward, before I ever even knew him and I became a fan. Then, when I got to know him, I was even more impressed by his razor wit. He's no stranger to publication. Along with Sparks< he's also pubbed poetry and satire.

Now, his debut novel is available. Randham Acts.

From the book's cover:
After receiving his latest rejection letter from a fiction magazine, aspiring writer Hugh Longford purchases The BlockBuster™ plot generation software, which analyzes fiction and suggests ways to "punch up" storylines. Soon, Longford consults the BlockBuster™ about real-life problems, including a miserable co-worker who makes his job unbearable and a "ball busting" history exam threatening to derail his university career. Meanwhile, the mother of his girlfriend suffers a catastrophic nervous breakdown suggesting she might be capable of violence.

For more info, please visit Matt's website, or to order, go here.

Friday, July 28, 2006

The Rebellion Has Begun!

Rebel Press has now officially launched! They've kicked things off with two short story collections. One is an anthology which happens to include me! It's titled Rebellion: New Voices of Fiction. Complete details, including online excerpts, are available on Rebel's website.

But I'm so thrilled to be included in this collection along with:
Robin Slick • Susan DiPlacido • Tom Saunders • Steve Hansen
Katrina DenzaMyfawny CollinsMarcus Grimm • T.J. Forrester
Grant JarrettMatt St. Amand • Tripp Reade • Donald Capone

12 great writers. 12 great stories. 1 dollar a story.
ISBN # 0-9786738-0-8
192 Pages

You can purchase direct from Rebel.

Their second book is a collection of interwoven stories by Donald Capone called Stories from Sunset Hill.

There is a plaque in Sunset Hill that reads: “Sunset Hill, where in the year 1666 Gramatan, Chief of the Mohican Indians, signed a deed transferring Eastchester to the White Man.” But local lore says Gramatan didn't relinquish his hold on the land. Some say he has a hand in what goes on in this neck of the woods, that he still watches over the residents of his town— like the man who contemplates a life of cat burglary, or the fellow who falls for an eco-terrorist, or the shop owner who has an encounter with Paul McCartney, or the guy who believes he's cursed by a pair of green panties. Come join Gramatan in this engaging collection, Stories From Sunset Hill.
Welcome to the town of Sunset Hill. Make yourself at home.

ISBN # 0-9786738-1-6
144 pages

AI Fans, Bo Needs You

Last year's American Idol runner up, Bo Bice, needs your help. His debut CD is full of songs supplied to him by other songwriters, at Clive Davis's behest. Bo has asked his fans to rally and speak up if they'd like his next album to have material of his choosing on it. In response, fans have set up an online petition, and Bo responded that "That rocks!" So if you want to hear more of Bo, and more of Bo as he wants to be heard, help him out by signing this petition:

Bo Bice Petition

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

A Midsummer Night's Spark

So last night I was sitting outside as dusk settled, enjoying a marvelously sultry July evening. It was a spectacularly cliche scene of suburban stupor. The air was dense and there was a peaceful glow, a sfumato glaze of twilight in the encroaching dark as the fireflies came out to mate. Bright, yellow-green sparks, lilting and flashing as they signaled each other, each trying desperately to attract a lover with the strongest and brightest flash.

And then I remembered another summer pleasure and said, "Fuck this nature shit, it's time for Rock Stars." And when I went inside and turned it on, I realized that our little collection of wannabe rockers isn't so different from fireflies anyhow. This realization cheered me in its dual purpose of both relieving me of my guilt for choosing to go inside and mentally retard and sedate myself further with television, and by giving me my theme for this week. Thus, another review of Rock Stars: Supernova.

So. Fireflies. How so similar to Rock Stars? Well, if you view the tattoos and piercings and make up as a parallel to the firefly's flash, it all falls in line. These rockers doll themselves up in the most attention-grabbing manner they can imagine, trying desperately to grab the spotlight so that they can shine the best and the longest and the hardest. And for what end? Same as fireflies: To get laid.

That's right. It's all ultimately about sex.

Brooke Burke can parade her plastic self out in front of the audience and tell us how these rockers are all vying for their chance to front the most exciting new super-band to come around in like, forever! But the bottom line is this: They want the attention and they want the exposure and they want the money and they want the prestige but why do they want, want, want? They want all that shit because they want to get laid by the highest caliber people they can, and by as many of those people as is possible.

(And please, do bear in mind that I'm not bashing these folks for having these desires. I'd be a hypocrite if I was bashing them for their tattoos and eyeliner in the hopes to get laid. I'd be a double hypocrite, because not only do I have tattoos and wear eyeliner, I actually have my eyeliner tattooed on.)

And the proof of the payoff is sitting right across the stage from them all in the form of Navarro and his fucking eyebrows and Tommy Lee and his big fucking cock.

A new and unexpected development this week for me: I didn't care how gloriously huge T. Lee's dick is. Despite my seemingly non-existent gag reflex, it still hits a point where enough is enough, you know? His hard rock charm and lascivious come-ons were cute for a few weeks. But his puns are scripted and his innuendoes this week were out-of-synch and watered down. Usually, he bangs the beat of his own sex appeal hard, harder than he ever bludgeoned the drums back when he was in his prime as Dr. Feelgood, keeping the rhythm for "Girls, girls, girls." Tommy, I'm afraid, is a himbo. A fun and charming distraction for a while, but ultimately, this could be a bit too much to swallow. (pun intended) But this week, it wasn't that his hard-edged, himbo charm got old; instead, it was nearly non-existent. I've a feeling that CBS is either editing out the more raucous Tommy sections or T. Lee was feeling, for some reason, reticent last night. There's no joy in that. I don't care if it's uncouth or obnoxious or borderline lawsuit material.

When I tune in to see Tommy, I want to see him slobbering his lascivious charm at every female in the room. Hep C be damned, man, this is rock-n-roll. No one's watching him for his dignified, insightful commentary. Jason Newsted is there to lend credibility to Supernova's musical aspirations. TL is there to add the spark, the brilliant little flashes of light as he weaves and smiles and tosses the "horns up" sign and tries to mate with every female in the near vicinity. Come back and flash, you horny little devil, Tommy! Summer is waning and already the fireflies are getting sparse and dying off. Only the strongest will continue to shine the last of their incandescent signals for a few more weeks as they bravely make their final, glorious stand. And that's what Supernova is for you with your advancing himbo years -- one last chance to get the primo pussy. Shine bright and explode with ferocity, oh metal god of summer!

Lukas was the first to take the stage last night, in all his ersatz rocking glory. That's right, I said it, he's rehearsed and fake. He's not a rocker, he's a performer. It makes for good TV and a good performance on stage for the audience, but it still doesn't make him authentic. This guy, he's more phony than a Motorola factory when they're gearing up for the new Razr rollouts. Lukas tried to switch it up and show his range this week in a couple of different ways. He slung a guitar around his neck (left-handed, natch, just to add that extra visual kick of difference) while doing The Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony." But the real bonus was that he changed it up with his makeup. He showed how dynamic he is by forsaking his usual red eyeshadow with the dash of gold glitter for a whole new look of blue eyeshadow with a dash of silver glitter!

I will give him a few things: He was more coherent last night than usual. He's still mumbly enough to make John Mayer seem like a linguist, but it was better. And that deep voice of his is incongruous coming out of a little shit like him. I think we all know he's the front-runner to get the job with Supernova. But that's what's interesting about a show like this. It's one hell of a long audition. That means it gives performers a chance to grow, or to stagnate. Lukas is coming out and doing the same shit he's done since week 1. He captured everyone's attention with his bright flash, but it's been the same pattern since then.

Speaking of doing the same shit ad nauseum, Ryan got huge props for his performance of Live's "I, Alone" which I can't understand. They said he sounded great and brought the energy. I thought he was more off-pitch than Trevor Hoffman at this year's All-Star game. And his stock-in-trade move of stepping up on the drum riser and then jumping off is just like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. But hey, at least he jumps off the risers.

Patrice picked the unfortunate song "Remedy" by the Black Crows. I dig them okay, but that song blows. It's redundant and droning. I know lots of people love Patrice, but she bores me no end. This week she brought a little excitement after her performance by not handling the criticism so well, and by going after Dave Navarro with her frustrations. Now, listen. I'm all behind going after Navarro and his fucking eyebrows. But Patrice did it in a dumb-ass way that allowed him to totally put her in her place. When he told her that she's doing the same thing every week, she shot back, "Do you do all sorts of different things on the stage, Dave?" Dave, he didn't even shift in his seat or bat one of his lovingly mascaraed lashes. He just said, with more restraint than I could've mustered, "I'm not auditioning. I have a job."

Patrice had no comeback for that, and thus the damage was double. A golden opportunity to make Navarro squirm was lost, but worse for Patrice, her personality is shimmering through every week. Last week she got all saucy, too saucy, over the song selection. And this week she had a failed attempt at feisty with Dave. If this continues, I predict it won't be long before we'll see her bitch personality in full force. It'll be ugly. It'll look like something Van Helsing would hunt. It'll be wonderful television.

Speaking of ugly personalities, Zayra sucked it again. She came out in her metallic blue, latex catsuit with her weird, staccato gyrations and baby-doll, high-pitched voice doing Blondie's "Call Me." The catsuit revealed her prime asset: not having an ounce of fat on her body.

This lack of fat is something that some people admire, I suppose. I don't. Skinny bitches are a dime a dozen. And, just like most super-skinny bitches, Zayra comes off as more cold than sexy. So cold that I'd venture to guess that any guy who goes down on her ends up with brainfreeze. That's not admirable. A clerk at Dairy Queen can give you brainfreeze for the price of a Blizzard and without all the attendant ego. What I do admire is her complete oblivion and disregard to even try to squeeze a single finger of hers into the box that'll suit Supernova. She's like a lone, orange firefly, darting haphazardly and cluelessly amidst a teeming field of green ones. I like that. What I don't like is her annoying voice and ridiculous performances. Different is good, outlandish is great, but ridiculous sucks. Perhaps this girl is bleeding edge and I'm just too mainstream. But I don't think so. I think she's art-house, bleeding edge for 1976. I've seen the shit before, but sung better. However, that said, I'd be sad to see her go, because although she'll never be the winner, she makes it more interesting.

This week also marked the return of Flaccid Phil. After laying down "White Rabbit" last week, he got saddled with The Wallflowers' "One Headlight." Yeah. I know. You remember that song. It was played mercilessly that one summer. And then, it was never heard again. That's for a reason.

I'll give Phil this, he did make an innovation with the wallet chain, wearing a black instead of silver one and it was also perhaps the longest I'd ever seen, even longer than the one T. Lee was sporting last night. (though, of course, Tommy's was thicker and heavier and more potent.) Is that what the world of rock has come to? Wallet chain envy? It's a fuzzy picture, but can you see it up there? Hanging in all its big-chained glory?

Some other non-notables: Magni, he also chose to play guitar which didn't go over very well, but on the plus side, he did some admirable camera-fucking last night. Toby, the hottie from the outback, he brought Billy Idol's "White Wedding" and it was good enough. I like his voice. I think it sounds great. I like that he's not all decked out in designer clothes. I like how he stomps around the stage, leading with his dick all the time. He's not flashy, but he's got enough flash to light it up...somewhat. I guess.

Jill got the huge bonus of having Gilby play guitar with her on "Brown Sugar." After, Gilby was pissed because she was grinding on him. I could write probably ten essays about the whole "women using sex" and I'm still not sure which side I'd come down on. It's such a double-edged sword, that one. Some of the chicks, like Dilana, stood up and applauded Gilby's declaration that women don't need to do that if they're good enough. Part of me agrees. And yet, why should Jill be called out and Tommy not? Why SHOULDN'T Jill use her big, fake, plastic tits as part of her arsenal onstage? If that's all she's hawking, then okay, it sucks. But who the fuck is Gilby to try and tear her down and perpetuate double standards for her using blatant sex appeal when it's the same thing guys have been doing since Elvis. It's what Toby's skating by on. If Jill's cool with being seen as a girl who gets tapped more than a Vermont maple, then I'm cool with it, too. I said it last week, and I'll say it again this week: Fuck off, Gilby. Just fuck off.

Dave stuck up for her. Of fucking course. Because I just can't catch a break here. No matter what goes down, Dave fucking Navarro is the font of wisdom and good sense on this fucking show. He said that it's all just a matter of perception, because if he was onstage with her, they'd be grinding for hours. Frankly, I believe that's true, and I believe it's true because in Jill, Dave has found someone else with incredibly stylized and amazingly, grotesquely groomed eyebrows.

Look at them, will you? You think Dave's are bad, with his perfectly pointed arch and penciled in uniformity? Jill's are worse. Hers give her that look of perpetual surprised delight. Jill's been unhappy on the show. In fact, she's very unhappy in that picture up there. But you'd never be able to read it on her face because her brows don't furrow or dip or knit or any of that shit. They're happy and as arched as a McDonald's sign and they're staying that way!

Anyhow, Josh was another loser, barely flashing or lighting up the stage at all with Blind Mellon's "No Rain." Josh, he can't bring it. Josh, he wants to sing like Elliott Yamin. Josh, honey baby sweetie? I've seen and heard Elliott Yamin. Elliott Yamin is a cupcake of mine. You, dude, are no Elliott Yamin. I think Josh needs to go.

So all these weak little fireflies, flitting around the stage, barely lighting it up at all. Who's going to be getting laid if no one can send a strong enough signal to act as an aphrodisiac? Little known fact about the firefly. There are many different species, each with their own distinctive pattern to their flash. The females of many species learn how to imitate the flash of other species. This serves a dual purpose. When their own kind isn't around, they can still attract a mate. The unsuspecting male sees their call and scurries over and lets her have her way with him. But then, after she's had her fill, since he's not really of her kind, she devours the unsuspecting fool. Literally. She eats him right up.

That knowledge now imparted, let's talk about Dana for a minute. She came out and did an acoustic version of Nirvana's "About a Girl." Let's note this right off the bat: Whoever does the Nirvana song every week does very well. Know why that is? Because Nirvana songs are really good, and they're also basic songs that just still rock. Dana struggled last week during the performance show, bringing way too much pop instead of rock. But then Dilana, sweet Dilana gave her some advice, and Dana listened. Dana came back and did a Sass Jordan song with a little grit and impressed everyone.

Here's the thing about Dana. She's got the pipes to blow everyone else off that stage. She's also young and sweet and no one thinks she'll ever be able to be what Supernova wants. However, last night she put a little more growl in her voice and the determination in her guts is evident. Sweet, cute little Dana. She may not have stepped on that stage polished and rehearsed in the ways of rock like Lukas. But she's watching and learning and she's changing her patterns, giving off a whole new vibe.

Some will say, "Yeah, but you can't fake real rock, man!" Oh really? First, do you really think Supernova is real rock? Did you hear the admittedly very good but also very derivative tracks they played last night? Do you realize Supernova is band of guys in their forties who've seen better days and who've settled into comfort and are now going to "move some units" by playing some metal-classic rock hybrid shit that'll appeal to all us aging, reminiscing suburban fucks? Okay okay, you say. But you still don't think that kind of thing can be "produced" or faked in a sweet, poppy girl? Two words, baby: Alanis fucking Morrisette. Swallow that jagged little pill along with her manufactured success.

I'm not saying Dana is Alanis. But if Dana keeps growing every week and getting down and dirty, don't count her out of the hunt. She's young and hungry and has plenty of time to learn just the right cues and signals to get all the attention.

Also changing her style just slightly this week was Dilana. Her nomrally gnarled hair was still pink and black, but it was done in a cutie-pie, oh so stripper-trendy updo while she did an acoustic version of Cydi Lauper's "Time after Time." Tommy called her enchanting. I agree. First she brought the intensity, and then when I was fearing she was a two-trick pony, she come on this week and shattered that notion. Unlike Lukas, she knew when to venture and expand and show dimension. Plus, she's different. Her voice is ragged and gravelly but really unique. I'm still not sure how it'd hold up on an entire CD, but that's not really necessary, is it? Supernova needs to produce a couple of hits to move units, and I've no doubt Dilana can accomplish that.

And last, but certainly not least, was Storm in all her stage-diving glory. Doing "Anything Anything" by Dramarama, Storm finally hit the balance between theatrics and performing and she turned it out. Last week Tommy wanted to see more skin, and she delivered. With her short black skirt, she punked Jill's similar outfit by merging her red-hot sex appeal with a Wendy O. Williamslike predatory attack. Tommy liked her perfectly formed swan dive off the stage. I prefer them a bit more emphatic and less graceful, but she gets props for even attempting it. And it was different and left quite an impression.

Storm, Dilana and Dana lit it up this week. I'm not sure who's going home with all the lackluster performances. It could be a chick, like Zayra or Jill. Or maybe Josh or perhaps even Ryan if the audience votes on what they saw and heard onstage instead of what the Supernova judges fed them. But I do know this. Even the strong guys who're safe this week, Lukas and Toby, they'd better watch their ass and hope this trend doesn't persist. Cuz last night, the girls shined brightest. And if that continues, they're going to eat these men alive.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Gold Standard

Entourage fans, and especially Ari Gold aficionados, here's this: The Best of Ari Gold.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Sydney Molare

Sydney Molare is an accomplished author who works in many different genres. From humor to erotica to thrillers, she can do it all. Her collection of short stories, Somewhere in America, has won her rave reviews, as has her seductive novel, Small Packages. You can find Sydney this summer with a short story in Zane's new anthology, Caramel Flava.

1)Who are some of your favorite writers, and how do you think they've influenced you?

I am a mystery and suspense junkie but I also love stories that are "gritty". I love being intrigued when reading. So some of my favorite writers include John LeCarre, Donald Goins, Robert Ludlum, and James Grisham. When I wrote my own mystery/suspense, "Changing Faces, Changing Places" I definitely wanted the reader to get the same rush I felt reading their works.

2) What do you think is your greatest strength or asset in your writing? Your biggest weakness or flaw?

My greatest strength is my ability to write across genres; be able to pen a convincing story that snares readers no matter the subject matter. With that being said, this same ability to write across genres is most likely my greatest weakness. I don't "fit a certain mold." Readers don't know just what I've got in store for them when they crack open one of my novels. Agents don't either.

3) You mix it up very well with different genres. Do you just let the story take you along and set its own tone, or do you sit down and say, "I'm going to write a thriller this time"? What is your favorite genre to work in?

Actually, an idea floats into my head that intrigues me. Then I play the "what if?" game and soon, I've got a novel. My favorite genre...I really love mystery/suspense, but honestly, I like writing what is classified as "Southern fiction." You know those ladies in hats, a Southern Belle or two, mixed into those genteel things us southerners just don't speak about in polite company.

4) You're very funny and you mix that with passion. Is the humor something you have to work at, or does it come naturally to you and help drive the passion?

My humor is all natural. I love laughing and people that make me laugh. Life has enough negatives sometimes that we all must strive to see the beauty and joy in every thing, every day.

5) What do you find to be the most difficult part of writing and/or publishing? What's the greatest reward? Is it worth it? Or is writing something you'd do even if there was zero payoff?

Marketing is the biggest hurdle any self-published writer will tell you about. Yes, I have a great book, but it definitely seems that the large publishing houses have gone the distance to make sure we don't break in and get a piece of the pie. But on the positive side, I think reader feedback has been my greatest reward. It validates my writing, makes it worth all the trouble. Would I write if I made zero? Most likely, but selling my work and knowing others are actively looking for my next piece is way more gratifying for me.

6) Stock question: Dinner with anyone, dead or alive. Who is it?

Oprah, who else. I want a billionaire on top of her game to give me some encouragement, tips...while I sneak her a copy of my books! LOL.

7) One CD, one book, one DVD and a desert island. What book, CD, and DVD do you take?

CD- Prince's Greatest Hits- I was there at the beginning of his great career and hope to be around for the end.
DVD- The Long Kiss Goodnight- I love women kicking butt...and my fetish for Samuel L. Jackson gets nurtured in the meantime.
Book- The Bible- sustenance to my soul for WHY I was chosen for the desert island trial in the first place.

8) When did you first get the feeling not that you wanted to write, but that you could be so successful at it? What are you working on now?

When people began reading my stories and looking for more. Talk about a rush. I felt like I'd hit a mini-lottery. Now, I finishing up a paranormal erotic piece for Kensington and have a mystery/suspense with a helping dose of erotica thrown in that I'm finishing.

9) Suppose you can't have both: Would you rather have respect from your peers and critical acclaim (but not making cash from writing), or would you rather be a bestselling author with the fat coin?

Best-selling author. I want the masses to read and enjoy my works. "Scream my name, scream my name..."

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Down the Rabbit Hole

"One pill makes you larger, and one pill makes you small." Last night on Rock Star, contestant Phil Ritchie sang the lyrics to that Jefferson Airplane classic. The song references Lewis Carroll's "Alice In Wonderland" but is quite blatantly about tripping. Tripping is one of the quickest ways to radically change your perspective.

I wouldn't say that Rock Star: Supernova has radically changed my perspective. But it has brought things into a sharper focus and cast a cold, bright, harsh light on the state of things. Dosing is a bit of a commitment, because once you slip that tab on your tongue, kiss your ass goodbye, cuz there is no turning back. You're either going to let go and enjoy the stomach-flipping, pupil-dilating, hallucinogenic intensity of the ride, or you're going to grit your teeth and clench your fists and keep trying to clear your addled head and hate the whole thing. And sometimes, it's more of an in-and-out thing, riding waves of manic, giddy, enlightened high and wonderment and then suddenly bottoming out and crashing down the bunny hole of utter confused panic. But the name of "trip" is so correct, because whatever happens, it's usually unexpected, and it takes you somewhere new -- be it long-sought journey to inner paradise or a harsh and ugly face-plant in the pavement with a gaggle of onlookers laughing and pointing.

And that's pretty much how people now haughtily endure, or happily head-bang to the state of rock-n-roll. Some of them paint on the eyeliner, poof their hair, toss up the devil-sign and rock on out. Others sit back and incessantly spin their Stones collection while snarling at the incompetent, image-driven assholes who couldn't hold a creative candle to Ray Manzarek, man. But life isn't that rock solid or clear cut. It's more fluid, much more like the stumbling, trippy highs of an acid dose -- unexpected twists and surprising delights waiting beyond the shadowy gloom. And some people can find a way to slip in and out -- seeing the cutthroat marketing havoc that's ingested and regurgitated rock-and-roll back to us in the form of Supernova, but enjoying the reminiscent, throbbing bass lines anyhow. It might not be authentic, but you can't fucking stop it now, so you might as well kick back and try to enjoy some of it, even if it is all an illusion.

I don't know yet how I'm going to end up reacting to this whole show. Right now, I'm tuning in, but I'm not riding a wave of high or crashing into full-out desperation. It's more flatlined, perhaps because I've become anesthetized to the horrors of marketing. Or perhaps because I accept the yin-yang of creativity and believe that lightning can strike in expected places. I find it hard to believe that the CBS execs will know how to bottle said genuine lightning if it strikes, but that's another matter.

But I haven't seen any lightning yet anyhow. Part of what compelled me to blog about American Idol was the unlikely situation of last season. Unlike Rock Star, which has no grasp of its own ironic foolishness or manufactured cheeziness, AI is a veritable treasure trove of pop culture horrors. So is Rock Star. Believe me, if anything, Rock Star is more insidious in its pre-fab, pre-packaged allure where Mystic Tans mingle with skull tattoos, because RS is the apocalyptic benchmark for rock death, with Dave Navarro as the ferryman of the river Styx, strangling the lost souls into submission as he collects his fare from CBS suits while sitting on his baroque throne of lies and ushering in a new wave of coached, groomed, teeth-whitened, boob enhanced, and impeccably coiffed ritualized head-bangers with affected "intensity, dude."

What gave me passion this year for Idol was Elliott, Elliott Yamin. Because buried under the seven layers of cheeze was that one little pill that could shift perspective -- something real. Something unaffected, untainted, and highly unusual -- someone with talent. That provided the yin to the yang, and gave my bitter old soul something to write about passionately to even out the nasty edge so that I didn't sound like a hypocritical harpy.

I'm still waiting to see that on Rock Star, that passion and inspiration. Maybe it's there and I haven't recognized it. But I'll tell you who it's not, at least not yet.

It's not Storm Large. (Who the fuck is naming these people? Manufactured stage names are one thing, but Storm Large is entirely too goofy to take seriously for even one second. I feel like an asshole just typing it out.) Storm is a diva with a Kim Catrall face and Pussycat Doll fashion sensibility. She was not "Just What I Needed" to elevate this freak show of suburban wannabes to a level of authenticity. What I do like about Storm is that when she stares really hard at the camera with her blue eyes, she looks like she's tripping because there's a strange off-focus appearance to her pupils. So I'll give her that. She's got interesting pupils.

Tommy flirted with her. Tommy flirts with all the ladies. That's nice that Tommy's charming. It's also part of the reason why Supernova will sell a million records but will never be anything remotely authentic. Tommy used to be dangerous. Certainly, Motley Crue was a band that embraced theatrics, and though I'm not about to write a missive about their musical prowess, there was a certain honest intensity to Tommy Lee. Back then, I have a feeling he devoured the groupies. But age and circumstance mellow a person. That's not a bad thing. And it doesn't mean he still can't bang the shit out of the drums.

But there's a certain desperation to the intensity that's lost once all the world is aware that you're packing enough ammunition in your pants to level the entire student body, staff, faculty, and administration at Wellesley -- even the ones who would only be using you to experiment. Tommy is catnip for the ladies now. And he plays to his strength and lasciviously, but with a practiced rakish charm, flirts with them all, like a "horns up", head-banging George fucking Clooney for the more metal minded, showing off his tats with all the grace of a peacock. (Which, incidentally, "peacock" is one word he never has to fear anyone will use like a weapon of a bad pun against him. And speaking of puns, has anyone else noticed T. Lee's affinity for them? He uses a pun in like, EVERY critique.)

But although there's a certain casual and ingestible elan to these weekly Tommy innuendoes, it just doesn't hold the spark to create true lust, or passion.

There's certainly no intensity from the David Blaine-looking motherfucker Ryan Starr. Not only does he look like the whacked-out illusionist-cum-stuntman, he's about as exciting to watch as Blaine attempting one of his asinine "tricks" where he inserts a Foley, dons a blindfold and then sits underwater for a month. In fact, watching Blaine's skin slowly prune is probably more exciting than watching or listening to Ryan.

Also boring in very wholesome ways are the twin sets of Dana and Jenny. Nice girls with milquetoast good looks. Dana can belt, and she shouted her way through an atrocious version of Bon Jovi, which of course pisses me off. Jenny, on the other hand, is just too quiet every week to ever get my attention.

Dilana's got a little somethingsomething going on, but it's getting old already. She's like a two-trick pony: She can either stand still and growl or stomp around barefoot like a trussed-up turkey, complete with strange shit hanging from her chin just like any self respecting gobbler.

Zayra? Bitch, please. I don't know why they didn't tear this performance down with their comments, because she did another indulgent number, singing off-key to "Everybody Hurts." Dwight Shrute did a better, more affecting performance of this song from his car in the parking lot this year on "The Office." I'd expect Zayra to get mad props if it was Mike Myers sitting on the couch, dressed in his clingy black catsuit and snapping out his Deiter-speak while hosting SPROCKETS. But praise from Gilby Clarke? Fuck off, Gilby. Just fuck off. I could see keeping her around because her haughty, misguided arrogance makes her interesting to mock, but that just sucked hardcore.

Toby let me down this week. He's still hot. He's got a good voice. But his boring song of "Runaway Train" is nothing to showcase his sex appeal. And while I can still picture him fronting the band, and I like the fact that he's not as over-accessorized and as perfectly manicured as the rest of the lot, he's still probably just too good-looking of a bloke for me to ever accept him. But since this isn't really about true music as it is combining all the perfect parts to market most successfully to the widest segment, I guess Toby could be of use, except that Supernova already has the sex base covered with Tommy.

Magni came out and rocked the Dolce & Gabbana shades in what wasn't so much an homage to Bono as a blatant rip-off. But those shades looked good. When lacking in any substance, go to the Italian designers and make sure the label is blazed in giant sequins and people will eat it up cause D&G is cool and looks good, man. (HORNS UP!) Cause all the kids want to be wearing D&G someday, so this guy just MUST be cool cuz he already is wearing the shit! Coveting -- the new gold standard of sin in rock today, and what an easy, profitable, cross-marketing goldmine it is!

Then there's Lukas. What the fuck is it with this guy? The audience loves him. Supernova loves him. I loathe the little turd. He looks like a scientifically engineered crossbreeding of an Oompa Loompa and a succubus. He's clearly sober when he takes the stage, but then he affects a slur that'd make Billy Joe Armstrong blush while he spins and stumbles around, looking more drunken than Taylor Hicks ever had the balls to.

This guy, he loves to do the Broadway Jesus pose, and takes it seriously. Navarro was right -- he does come off as arrogant when he performs. And I also agree with Navarro that a good rock front man should come off that way. But Lukas is nothing more than a hybrid of Morrison and Jagger, with much better makeup and not even a whisper of sex appeal. Neutered. He is the very definition of neutered, regurgitated, stumbling horseshit. He's not a trip. There's no lightning in a bottle with him -- it's all canned, completely expected, and not the least bit dangerous. He's the proverbial face-plant in the pavement, folks. And I'm here to point and laugh at all of us for embracing him for it.

And then there's Phil. He of the jelly-bones dancing and smart-alecky wiggle. Phil got a huge break last night because Jason joined him onstage to do "White Rabbit." Now. Look. It wasn't mind-bending, or soul-shaking. It wasn't a long-sought journey of enlightenment. But really, it wasn't all that bad, especially when compared to all this other wholly average shit. They turned the bass way up for Newsted, and that put a different stink on the song. It changed from the well-worn, lilty, marching build-up of the original that had an inexorable crescendo to a heavier, more aggressively thrusting, groovy drive to it.

Onstage, Newsted challenged Phil, shoulder-bumping into him and then shadowing him across the stage for a few moments. Phil definitely got jostled when Jason pushed him, but as Navarro noted, he didn't crumble, and it kind of worked in a '70s kind of retro skinny-punk warble-fest way. Look, this kid is never going to be Henry Rollins. And there was something vaguely reminiscent to Sid Vicious in his face last night, not to mention his heroin-inflected movements. It's pretty obvious that Phil's neither strung-out or riding the horse. (Skull tats, spiky hair, and plastic tits are all now mass-audience acceptable. But fresh tracks on a TV contestant? Still probably a no-no.)

But Phil has pipes, and he did lay it down with that trippy tune. And for a brief moment, even if it wasn't hitting the core of reality or drastically shifting perspectives, Phil's "differentness" dredged a little bit of life out of the murk of the Styx. It wasn't lightning in a bottle, but it was a wave of enjoyment, and for Phil, it had to be pretty cool to get a taste of what it could be like to "ride the lightning" in the future.

And, it was enough to make me stick my head further down the bunny hole, willing to tune in again next week and tolerate the imbecile ramblings of plastic Brooke Burke. Who knows? Right now, there's plenty of bad, but perhaps some giddy highs are yet to come. Maybe, if we're lucky, it'll be a little bit of an unexpected trip -- be it a lie or an illusion/hallucination or even possibly something real. And if not, I'll just go back to sitting in my room, bitter and old, lamenting the state of the now while carrying a torch for Dave Grohl.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Fool's Gold

Entourage was back in the swing last night, or, more appropriately, E took his first dip into a swinging kind of hook-up when his girlfriend indulged him in a threesome with her lava-hot best friend. But poor E. While he was off getting down, hooking up, and blowing off his manager responsibilities to Vince, the suits were going full-tilt boogie, Hollywood backstabbing and power-crushing Vince and Ari into submission.

This was, without question, Piven's grand, scenery-chewing, "Emmy me NOW" episode for the year, as the chaos mounted and he cracked into manic-hyper mode to try and save Vince's (and his own) ass with the Warner Brothers suits. As always, Lloyd was the perfect foil for Ari, taking the projectiles hurled at his ass while cooly finding Johnny Drama an audition.

The boys were on overdrive with success, and it's fun to watch, because I have taken such a shine to them. But just as the tension was starting to sag with all their gilded happiness, this episode's writer, Lisa Alden, jacked up the heat higher than the sizzling trip the boys took out to the valley earlier this season. Johnny Drama had better damn well hydrate again, because it looks like a punishing road ahead now that Warner has fired Vince from Aquaman 2 and the prize role of Pablo Escobar has been offered to Benicio del Toro.

What I love about this episode is the payoff and how believable it is. At one point, when things were going in the shitter and Ari was begging Vince to be reasonable, Turtle simply said, "He's a man of principle."

And that's the beauty of this situation. Over the past couple years, Vince has proven to us that he's more about the art than the money. He knows the life is grand, but it'd all be iron sulfide without his boys along to enjoy the ride. Vince is a decent guy, and he honors his commitments. He may be a rich, pretty boy movie star, but he's not yet spoiled by it all, which is what makes rooting for the guys easy. When he stuck it to the suits and demanded $20 million to do Aquaman 2, it wasn't for the money. It was because they stuck it up his ass without even bothering to use Vaseline. So he was getting even.

The irony is that although Vince always had his principles, he never really had balls, which is why he hired E to be his watchdog/manager. But now that Vince found cojones, and a wee bit of cockiness, E should've been around to yank the chains and tell him when to back off. But E was too busy getting laid (enter the coozes at the right time). I've talked about menage a trois before and told you how they create nothing but trouble in relationships. I'm sure there'll be reckoning for E on a personal level, but the immediate consequences on others have already been felt. Without Eric to guide him, Vince made a principled, but ultimately costly decision to skip a meeting with the suits on his own.

The suit didn't take kindly to the snub, and not only fired Vince but now they're also mining the depth of their depravity to tarnish Ari's shine, promising him that no client of his will ever get a job with Warner Brothers.

Now suddenly jobless, Vince and the crew look to be in quite a pickle. Won't it be grand if fortunes turn for everyone and Turtle gets Saigon signed for big money and Johnny Drama lands a role in this major TV series?

But the best part of it all, as always, is watching Ari Gold get shaken up, screwed over, and melt down through the whole process. Sure, we've seen a similar situation with Jerry Maguire -- and even just last year when Ari's coup d'etat came crumbling down. But you just can't compare Piven's wired pandemonium to the Suri daddy, crackpot Thetan. Piven, with his electric intensity and comedic snap wins, hands down.

This show started off seemingly as wish-fulfillment, a fun, glossy ride through Hollywood. And in most instances, it still is. I don't for a second believe that the boys from PS 154 are going to be going broke and packing up and moving back to New York. And there's not an alchemist alive who could wield a philosopher's stone powerful enough to turn Ari Gold into sinking lead.

But watching the boys struggle and seeing Ari squirm with such panache makes all the later rewards that much sweeter. TV and performances like this deserve recognition. Piven is Gold, alright. Emmy voters, it's time to show him the statue and make him golden.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Junkyard Messiah -- our Rock Star

Rock Star fans, I have a gift for you. I just discovered an old friend, and she's not only a gorgeous gal and talented TV writer, but also a Rock Star junkie. She goes to all the tapings and posts hilariously about them on her blog.

Please meet Junkyard Messiah.

July 19 -- Coming out

"Trapped in the Closet" is the Emmy nominated episode of South Park that pokes at Scientology and that so enturbulated* the heterosexual Tom Cruise that Comedy Central had locked it down. But now it's coming out and will be aired on July 19. So put baby Suri to bed early and enjoy! My pal at Hollywood Interrupted consulted on this episode, as he's a veritable font of information about all things Xenu and L. Ron-ish.

*enturbulate is wacko Scientology speak for upset.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

As predicted and supported by the comments here, I do believe Lukas Rossi will become our whipping boy for this season of Rock Star.

He'll be lingering a long time because last night showed that the guys of Supernova aren't just looking for a lead singer, but with Tommy Lee as a producer of this year's show, he's also going to make sure we're entertained. As Toby would maybe say, "Good on you, T Lee."

At the end of the show, after a bottom three that had big-head Jill (and I don't mean arrogant, I mean this girl has a really big head in proportion to her body) and Zayra and Chris in danger, the boys mulled it over and then hatchet man Tommy sent Chris home.

I was really happy about that decision. Zayra sucks. She sucks hardcore. Everyone made it clear they hated her rendition of The Kinks' "You Really Got Me" the other night, so when she was given a second chance to sing something to impress them, she decided to stick with the same song and butcher it in the same manner. Her choppy shoulder-shimmy and random screeches tossed in are apparently what makes her think she's the shit. She should've been booted, but in a wise, TV friendly decision, they kept her instead of Chris. I'm glad for that, because it'll make for good entertainment watching her make an asshole out of herself.

Why will it be fun to watch her crash and burn? Because this is who Zayra is: Zayra is the slightly above-average looking girl who thinks she's hotter than J. Lo. Zayra is the mediocre singer who thinks she's Sarah Brightman/Grace Jones/Pink. (only much better looking and sexier, baby, than any of them.) She's already throwing her sex appeal at Tommy Lee, telling him he can teach her about what he wants. Gag. This is exactly what gives Zayra her erroneously inflated self-esteem. I'm willing to bet that Tommy would be happy to nail her. I'm willing to bet plenty of guys nail Zayra. If she wants, she can get nailed more than a practice wall at Home Depot on free demo Saturday. But some chicks just don't understand that guys being willing to fuck you doesn't mean you're hot or sexy. It means you're a female with a pulse.

Zayra has attitude and thinks she's sexy. And it's going to be fun to watch her trounce around, dismissing the judges comments and talking about how great she is. I'll enjoy this.

In stark contrast to Zayra is Chris, who did end up getting the axe last night. I'm so glad. Yes, he's not so good, but he is more reasonable than Zayra. But the problem with Chris, as I mentioned earlier, is that there's no joy to be had in tearing him down. To the contrary, it's uncomfortable to mock him. It's uncomfortable because he's earnest and he's trying and his ego isn't out of control and there's that whiff of kicked puppy about him. As a guy? I bet I'd like to hang out with Chris. But he doesn't make for good TV. We all know he was never going to make the leaps required to front Supernova, so to keep dragging him along wouldn't have been cool. Instead, it was the merciful thing to do to get him off the show and away from reckless, taunting bitches like me. So I really applaud Tommy, Gilby, and Jason for making this move.

It's early, and I'm fickle, so this is subject to change, but I've got a good mind to pick Toby as the winner already. There's plenty right with him, and though his encore of "Somebody Told Me" wasn't as good as the previous night, I still can't peg anything grotesquely wrong with him. In the comments here, Cam mentioned how his "vibe" maybe wasn't quite right for that song. And I have to admit, I'm hesitant to him and his entire vibe. But it's not because of anything overt or even subtle that he's done. I think I'm bringing my own baggage to Toby, because when I look at him and listen to him and hear him perform and watch him move, I want to think "asshole." But I tend to think that's me coloring other alpha-frat-boy personalities onto him and it's without justification.

And that brings us back to another front-runner: the aforementioned snark-worthy little bitch Lukas. After the judges made their comments, the wannabe rockers retired to the manse to get defensive and angry about anything at all negative said about them. Lukas's reaction was really telling, because he really didn't have anything negative said. Jason merely told him to be careful and take care of his voice. But Rossi had to go all bitch and bark and growl about how he's been singing his way for fifteen years and blahblah. Naturally, when confronted with it, Rossi lost his bite and bitched out again and was all, "Yeah brother, I understood and took it in and it's all good and I respect you all and I'll suck your dicks on TV here cause I'm not man enough to stand up to you face-to-face and then when I'm back at the manse I'll say that T Lee's dick isn't so big after all and blah blah." His affectation of "brother" to everyone is mildly annoying. Combined with his ego, carefully shaved eyebrow and makeup, which was even MORE elaborate last night with a dollop of silver under the eye, I'm starting to work up a good hate for the fucker.

Normally, I don't like to make fun of how people look, other than their sartorial choices, because that's within their control. But it's been mentioned by a few that Rossi bears a striking resemblance to Clint Howard. And they're right. So I give you this mini photo essay to prove it, courtesy of Photoshop and a slow morning at the office.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

supernova supernavarro - no no no

So I did, indeed, watch Rock Star: Supernova again last night. The siren call of Tommy Lee just couldn't be denied.

My only regret is that I didn't take a screencap of Lukas Rossi to prop up my following argument. It's a bit of a rigamarole for me to get screencaps, and I promised myself I wasn't going to go off the deep end like I did with American Idol this year. I do enjoy Rock Star, but it hasn't yet inspired me to the insane ends that Elliott Yamin, Chis Daughtry, Pauler and Idol's cheese-fest hoopla did, and that's a very good thing. However, I really could go to town diagramming and deconstructing Rossi's painfully perfect makeup, and I'd have enjoyed doing that. (If anyone HAS a screenshot they'd like to pass my way, I'd be much obliged!) Suffice to say that with his kohl liner, oh-so-trendy goth-like red shadow that's carefully applied around the eyes and then all of it capped off with the tantalizing dusting of shimmer to make it all POP -- I was both impressed and ready to gag.

I mean, come on. I've seen Vogue cover models whose faces weren't nearly as flawlessly painted as this guy's was. I guess he's a rocker and all, and oh yeah, makeup has a grand tradition in rock-n-roll. But the practiced perfection of the application of his eye makeup just kind of negates the bad-ass purpose of it. Plus, it still can't save his head from being weird.

Anyhow, he looked quite pulled together and his performance was a'ight. I'm sure he'll glide by another week, but his fun freak-factor took a huge hit with that glitter shadow.

Phil, he sang fine. He does have a good voice. But again he moved like he was on marionette strings -- almost boneless in his carriage. It kinda started growing on me, and Tommy Lee gave it the thumbs up, saying he liked Phil's "swagger." But Jason Newsted cut him down for it and told him he needs to lay it down sometime with a strong stance. Phil gave the pouty lower-lip thing. I didn't like that. Not because I thought it was rude or wrong of him to do, but because that face kind of goes with his prancy moves: there's something vaguely smarmy and lacking true emotion about it.

Zayra sucked, but she also zinged Gilby when he tried to tell her that she sucks. He asked if she even has any of their albums, and she told him that she was still in diapers when he was playing that music. Tommy got a big kick out of that. I would've laughed at the tired line if she had something more in her performances to back it up.

Dilana did Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" and was creepy-cool in her delivery yet again. I like Dilana, not just for the freak factor. But I am already questioning her voice. It's very raspy and unique and it sounds good as one performance amidst all the others, but I'm not sure an entire concert or CD of it is a very good idea.

Josh -- I'm sure a lot of people like Josh. He's got a good voice, but he drove me crazy with the constant runs both last week and this week. Plus, he sang Creed. Signing Creed ought to be grounds for immediate dismissal as far as I'm concerned. Newsted called him on the melisma, and Josh happily said, "Okay." Which, I have to say, other than Zayra and pouty-Phil, everyone was really gracious getting their reviews and some of them seemed as though they'd be happy to suck it up and improve.

One of the ones most eager to improve was Chris -- he of the mangled Roxanne of last week. I have to give Navarro some props here. I still don't like the way he plays guitar, but Dave did kind of nail all the criticisms last night as he sat there in his dark, coiffed glory on his rocker throne. He told Chris he just wasn't authentic yet. That's exactly right. He's about as authentic as another Chris -- Chris Daughtry. But, unfortunately for me, this new Chris doesn't have the inflated ego of Daughtry. Instead, this one is like a kicked puppy. He tries to act strong but there's a reticence to his demeanor, and though his jeans are ill-fitting and his eyeliner is ugly and his hair is a bushy mess, I'm still not finding the necessary contempt to verbally run him through.

Frankly, I hope he makes his exit this week. Because unlike the annoying glee that I took in watching and excoriating Daughtry, this Chris just makes me feel sorry for him. He's trying to fit in, but it's just not working. And that's really not funny to watch, it's vaguely uncomfortable and painful. He just seems like too nice of a guy with a decent voice who doesn't really fit in, and his dorkiness isn't ingratiating. So I hope the audience and the band Old Yeller him this week and end the misery.

In stark contrast to Chris is Toby. Yeah, it's a sweet name, but there's no denying it after this week. Last week he sounded great on the Dylan song. This week he got The Killers' "Somebody Told Me" and he CRUSHED it. Holy amplitude, Rockman, this cat can sing. He really did punk everyone else with it, and he's got a great stage presence. It's everything Phil isn't -- strong and masculine. The problem with the way Phil moves is that rock music is supposed to drip sexuality and rebellion. And yet when I see him wiggle weakly, I can't imagine how discombobulating and frustrating it'd be to try and fuck the guy. But Toby? Yeah. You can definitely picture him denting headboards.

Jason realizes Toby's sex appeal, too. He told him that it's obvious the ladies like him. And in strapping Aussie style, Toby said, "That's lucky. Because I like them, too." I have to say, he's actually so good looking and so perfect that I was a bit surprised to hear him say that. I mean, a guy who's that naturally rugged and masculine and confident and also so devastatingly good looking and talented, I wouldn't've been shocked if the fellow from down under had a proclivity for going around back. But he says he likes the sheilas, and I don't really care either way.

My only potential problem with Toby is that maybe he's just a wee bit too good looking. He doesn't fuck around with the laboriously applied makeup and his clothes aren't off-the-wall outrageous. He doesn't need all that dress-up jazz because he's got the goods anyhow. But looking at him can be almost mesmerizing. So I'm wondering if there's not some gigantic flaw that we just haven't seen yet. It's strange, really. Being single in my 30s, I'm terrific at quickly appraising fellows and finding the flaws -- almost like an expert with a jeweler's loupe finding the occlusions in a diamond. But I don't see anything wrong with this guy yet. And that's just impossible to believe.

Patrice got a great song in Nirvana's "Heart Shaped Box" and she did a good job with it and looked good with her guitar. I was a bit disappointed in Tommy Lee for the standard comment of wishing she'd hold the guitar lower. She did have it hiked high, but hey, not everyone needs to be Kurt Cobain and play it at their ankles. Patrice was refreshing in her difference, because it was ignorant of Jill to claim she "didn't know what Courtney Love did" with the Hole song she sang, even though she came out dressed in a white dress with roses. Again, Navarro called her on it.

God help me, the last thing I wanted from watching this show was to gain respect for Dave Navarro. I don't mind enjoying Tommy Lee and all his big-dicked glory. But if I get turned and start liking Dave, I'm probably tuning out. This show is already making me feel neutered with its lack of snark-worthy material. If I can't even hate on Navarro, I'll know I have some serious emotional problems that need to be addressed before I become too well-adjusted and decent of a person. I'm not going to watch this shit to be kind and hand out praise like lollipops. I'm in it to heckle. And I still blame that fucking cupcake Elliott Yamin for making me so grotesquely nice.

Monday, July 10, 2006


I love this team. Madone, do I love this team!

As an admitted novice to soccer, I thought that was one hell of a good match. I know it irks people to have a match decided by penalty kicks, and I completely understand that. I think it kinda sucks, too. However, you can't keep the guys running around out there until they all pass out or die. And since my gorgeous Italian team won, I was pretty okay with it playing out that way.

While watching this year's World Cup, I realized why soccer hasn't reached the level of popularity in the U.S. that it has in the rest of the world, and it's pretty simple. Television stations can't squish enough commercials into the matches to make it worthwhile to broadcast it. Since it proceeds at uninterrupted 45 minute intervals, it doesn't have the natural pauses that baseball and football and basketball have to allow for advertising. Also, I'm not sure most American viewers with out short attention spans that've been programmed to follow this stop/start and fast momentum switches in other sports can easily digest the long flow that's so rarely punctuated with scoring. Certainly, there's always action going on, and it's plenty exciting. But we're a nation who's bent the rules of baseball (and turned a blind eye to steroids for over a decade) to accommodate the exclamation point of home runs.

But for anyone who watched this final match of the World Cup, it had everything any sports enthusiast could ask for. A whiff of scandal, plenty of on-field action, rising tension, and even a meltdown with a bit of random violence.

The big story in the days leading up to this final wasn't Italy, but France's Zinedine Zidane, who'd announced his retirement after this match. Everyone in the press was rooting for a golden exit for Zidane; they wanted him to go out on top. Early in the match, it looked like he might get his fairy tale ending when a controversial call by the ref gave France a penalty kick that Zidane converted into a goal against Italy's spectacular goal keeper, Gianluigi Buffon. Before that, Buffon and Italy had allowed only one goal to be scored against them throughout the World Cup, and that was an own-goal when they were playing the U.S.

Buffon was incredible, but so was the entire Italian defense. In the final, France seemed to be on the attack constantly, but they were never able to penetrate. Zidane had another close call in the first overtime session when he shot a header toward the goal, but Buffon denied him, leaping and pushing the ball over the bar. Zidane was clearly pissed. Clearly.

Only seven minutes later, he and Italy's Marco Materazzi exchanged words. I don't know what words Materazzi -- who himself has quite the reputation for being a thug -- flung at Zidane, but Zidane ran in front of Materazzi, turned, and head butted the Italian in the chest. That's when the shit started to rain for the broadcast-booth announcing team. They kept insisting that the ref hadn't seen the maneuver and so it was impossible for Zidane to be red-carded, because they don't allow instant replay. But the move was shown on the screens in the stadium, and Buffon started making a case with the sideline ref. Sure enough, Zidane was red-carded and France was forced to finish the match a man down.

But the best part was listening to the announcers try to wrap their minds and their tongues around the situation. Everyone was so clearly biased for France and Zidane that this shocking twist of events completely flipped the script and they just didn't know what to say. I'm sure they had all these eloquent praises written up to honor Zidane as he kissed the trophy and reveled in his final glory on the field.

But when that didn't happen, it was just such a shame when the Italians pulled off the victory and then Zidane couldn't even collect his silver medal on the field. Of course, since I'd fallen completely in love with the Italian team early on, and since I'm an uncouth, nasty bitch, I said, "Fuck the Frog. Give Italy its due."

And since they didn't, I will.

Italy's captain, Fabio Cannavaro, lived his own fairy tale. Back in the 1990 World Cup, he was a ball boy for the Italian team, which was defeated on its home turf by Argentina in the semi-finals. Cannavaro, a Neopolitan who at age 32 was playing in his 100th match for the national team, was a huge part of Italy's stellar defense throughout the tournament. When another of Italy's defenders, Alessandro Nesta, was injured, Cannavaro was forced to play every minute of every game and to switch sides, depending on which side one of the three replacements for Nesta preferred. Without a doubt, he was a crucial part of Italy's mind-boggling defense.

As far as the offense, several players came up big throughout the tournament, most notably Fabio Grosso, whose name means "large." Grosso scored with the winning penalty kick to clinch it for Italy yesterday, but he also scored the winning goal against Australia and in the final seconds against Germany. So scorchingly-attractive-it-should-be-a-flagrant-foul Luca Toni had a good Cup, scoring twice in the match against Ukraine.

And then there's head-buttee, Marco Materazzi. Materazzi was all over in this game. It was his foul that set up the penalty that allowed France to score first. But he was also the guy who headed in Andrea Pirlo's kick to even the score. And Materazzi was himself red-carded earlier in the tournament. From what I hear about Materazzi, he's a volatile player, maybe a little Bill Laimbeerish even. I don't know how endorsements work in Europe, but I guess maybe Materazzi isn't the most marketable of players. But who gives a shit? There's no time for commercials in soccer anyhow.

In other Sunday news, Entourage was pretty good last night. Not only did they get a really nice dig in on Michael Bay, but Ari was hilarious in his scheming to get rid of his 14 year old daughter's boyfriend. Pretty interesting that this show is so different from how it started out. There used to be a revolving door of shrewish, gorgeous women. (The sublime and hilarious Debi Mazar as shark PR rep Shauna excepted from that list.) But this year, the only females in focus are Ari's wife and daughter, with nary a cooze to be seen, yet.

In interesting and happy developments, it took three years, but after being manipulated and shit on by a Warner exec, Vince has finally found his balls. After the suit squashes Vince's dream project of "Medellin", Vince tells him that they need to cough up $20 million dollars or he's walking from Aquaman 2. I like it.

I like it because they've worked very hard over the years to walk a line with Vince and the other boys to not make them seem too "sucked in" by the money. They enjoy it, that's for sure. But while Vince is always the one buying them expensive toys (this week it Aston Martins for everyone) it's also always Vince who's ready to see through the trappings and give up the money because he knows it's superficial and not real. It's kind of bullshit, to walk around wearing Prada and talk about how it doesn't really matter. And Vince has never really been tested, because although he takes the gambles and risks, they always pay off for him. That's the fun of the show. But now it's nice to see Vince sticking it up the execs ass and demanding the cash because it's been well enough established that he'll work for free if he believes in a project. But he's not going to let someone fuck him over, either.

In even better news, Turtle's involvement with Saigon has re-surfaced! YAY Turtle! I love this because I'm already feeling bad for Johnny Drama, who's really going to feel marginalized and insecure if even Turtle gets a rocking career in place. And Drama and Turtle racing their Aston Martins to a lunch meeting with Ari and Drama pushing Turtle to the ground (red card!) to get shotgun at the meeting on him was classic interaction.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Boys of Summer

As a longtime Mets fan, I was enjoying this season of baseball. Things hadn't looked so bright since the incredible summer of '86. The Mets haven't fallen into a full-blown tailspin yet, but the pitching is showing signs of eroding. Nevertheless, I've been lucky and found some other guys to keep me occupied so far this summer.


Yeah, yeah. I know it's not Shakespeare. But that's exactly what makes Entourage so perfect for summer viewing. I admit, when this show premiered three years ago, I didn't like it. The characters were one-dimensional and the whole thing was just sort of wish-fulfillment going on. But I kept watching, because I've always liked Jeremy Piven. (I was pissed when "Cupid" got cancelled.) Piven as Ari Gold was terrific out of the gate with his "Let's hug it out, bitch" attitude combined with his barely-controlled, manic, shark energy. And when Ari settled in with Lloyd as his assistant, and once Adrian Grenier grew on me as pretty-boy charmer Vince Chase, my only real complaint was the woodenness of Kevin Connolly as Eric. It's not easy playing a straight man, and I wouldn't say Connolly is great, but at least I no longer hope for him to crash and burn. But "Entourage" really hit its stride in the second season with the Aquaman arc, and Kevin Dillon and Jerry Ferrara found a great buddy rhythm as Drama and Turtle. The writers (primarily Doug Ellin and Rob Weiss) don't overplay the pair of jokers, and because of that, Drama and Turtle are the perfect amount of sprinkles on this guilty pleasure ice cream sundae.

Now in its third season, Entourage seemed like it was losing focus with "Aquaman" out of the tank. The episodes were pleasant enough, and I've become addicted to the over-the-top success these guys get to revel in every episode, but there wasn't as much forward thrust anymore. But now that Vince is back in a pickle in having to choose between making "Aquaman 2" and his dream movie, "Medellin," I expect it'll pick up steam again. I do, however, wonder what the hell happened to Turtle's side-project of working with rapper Saigon, but as long as he and Drama are involved in silly shenanigans like hiding in bushes while looking for a stolen Shrek doll, I guess I don't really care.

Italy's World Cup Soccer team

Do I really need to elaborate on this? Have you seen these guys? Granted, I don't know shit about soccer, but I have a feeling that their goalkeeper isn't just a hot bitch, but he's pretty fucking good, too. But pictures don't do these fellows justice. You have to see them in action on the field to get the full gist of their appeal. Running. Sweating. Filthy dirty with turf stains all over. You've got one more chance to check them out as Italy takes on France in the championship game.

Speaking of dirty guys, I tuned in last night to Rock Star: Supernova. I never watched last year, so it was all new to me, and I think I'm going to like it, despite my moderate dislike for Dave Navarro. Jane's Addiction was a good enough band, and I love the Chili Peppers. But I didn't care for the Chili's album that had Navarro on it and I was amped when Frusciante came and took his rightful spot back. (And yes, before you say it, I know that Frusciante is no Hillel Slovak, I agree. Frusciante doesn't have the raw speed that Hillel had, but he's plenty funky enough for me and sometimes his licks are absolutely beautiful.) Anyhow, back to Navarro, he just bugs me. I don't care who he's fucking or how much eyeliner he wears or what his street cred is. Dave showed his Mr. Snooty-pants side last night when he told one contestant (in very Randy Jackson fashion) that he was a bit pitchy at the end of a song. Then, he immediately backtracked and tried up his cool quotient by waving it off and saying, "But it's rock and that doesn't really matter." If it didn't really matter, what the fuck is he mentioning it for? To sound like a know-it-all who can detect when someone is off-key? Yeah. That's a great, professional talent, Dave. I think anyone with ears can determine that.

But this year, Dave's going to have work extra-hard to be the cool kid on the show, because to up the dirty-boy quotient, we've also got Tommy Lee, as it's his new band, Supernova, that they're auditioning for. Tommy Lee, I noticed last night, is quite the camera fucker in his own right. He knows exactly when that thing is in his vicinity and he makes sure to give a smug look or coy smile or do something to acknowledge it. Normally, this is rather disagreeable behavior, but Tommy Lee gets latitude in the asshole department because, well, let's face it: he's got a really big dick. And we all know he's got a really big dick. And he knows we know that he's got a really big dick. So he gets to act mildly assholic and people don't really call him on it.

Anyhow, there were a bunch of wannabes on stage last night. The worst of the lot was this ex-ballplayer who dressed himself in tight pinstripes and screamed a bad version of The Police's "Roxanne" while doing the Mick Jagger hand-on-hip strut. I knew from his intro that he was a wannabe freak and not a real freak and he proved it last night to a nation of unadoring viewers. He had eyeliner and tight pants and bushy hair but he was still just way too squeaky-clean to hang out on a stage with the likes of Lee and Navarro, not to mention Jason Newsted of Metallica and Gilby Clarke of G-n-R. Anyhow, I'm not going to waste my letters running this dorky fuck through because I'm pretty sure he'll be gone tonight.

There was a good vocal performance by the guy who sang "Knockin' on Heaven's Door." But his name is Toby or something sweet like that and I'm not sure if he's quite freak enough to hang in there when he's up against that strange Puerto Rican Elvira bitch and then Dilana and Lukas Rossi. Cause let me tell you, Dilana and Rossi? Freaks. Freaks of the highest caliber. And, as a fairly dirty, freaky girl myself, I mean that as a compliment. They chose the two best songs of the night, Dilana doing "Lithium" and Rossi doing "Rebel Yell," and though a small part of me rebelled against hearing those songs abused by a reality show, it's something I've now learned to accept. They'll have to be careful, because although they certainly got the attention of the audience and won raves from the band, freakdom alone doesn't make a rockstar. Now they'll have to keep our attention and that'll take a little more than the raw intensity, tattoos, and willingness to stomp around out-of-beat that they've already shown.

But I'll definitely tune in again to see how they do. I was concerned that there wouldn't be much in the way of negative reinforcement from "the band" or from "Dave" as they pass judgment because they all had either positive things to say or just kept quiet. But once the clean ballplayer boy fucked up "Roxanne," Gilby Clarke showed that although he may not have the impressive dick size of Tommy Lee, he had enough balls to tell the kid that the performance sucked. (and hey, maybe he does have it all over Tommy Lee in that other area, too. I've just never seen video to know.) So I'm hoping Clarke's bitchy side will intensify and hopefully at least one of the other dirty boys will be noticeably smashed on a few occasions, too. Then it'd be just like American Idol, except with a more "goth" set and better music. (with the exception of Nickelback and "Yellow")