Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Emmy Gold for Ari Gold

Win an Emmy, get fired. All in the same night.

Congrats to Jeremy Piven, whose scenery-chewing, foul-mouthed, money hungry role as Ari Gold on Entourage earned him an Emmy. He deserves it, cause let's face it, no one is more fun to watch than Piven as Ari. Whether he's screwing someone over or getting screwed, his manic antics are always fun. Plus, Piven gets props for using "fluffer" in his acceptance speech. I won't comment on the cravat.

Then, for the season finale of Entourage, Vince decided things with Ari just aren't working. Ari had a feeling, and he kicked into overdrive to try to salvage the Ramones movie for Vince. But just as it looked like he'd pulled off another coup, in the 11th hour he managed to snatch a heartbreaking defeat from the jaws of victory, thanks to Bob being fed up with Hollywood.

Here's what I love about the show. It puts all the backbiting, ego-driven, money-obsessed, consumerist bullshit of Hollywood right up front. And it puts Vince, the boys, and Ari smack in the middle of it. What's so great about Vince is that he's not above it, but he's also not defined by it. Somehow, he's still managed to remain decent, PS 154, having the time of his life Vince -- with his friends by his side, to both reap the benefits, and slap him down if he needs it. And he's gotten royally screwed for his decency and principles this season.

And then there's the counterpoint of Ari. He's a lying, egomaniacal snake and bully who'll stop at nothing to succeed. But he fucks his own wife and he never fucks over Vince. And that's enough, more than enough, to make us love him.

But now his motor mouth and underhanded tactics have screwed over Vince.

I have to say that Eric dropped the ball a bit in this episode, considering it was just last season that Eric was on the outs with Vince and Ari took the time to talk him down and advise him that he needed to be loyal, that Vinny would need him as a friend. But now with the tables turned, Eric forgets that kind turn and is ready to throw Ari overboard, with only Johnny Drama singing Ari's praises. It's only Drama on Ari's side, because let's face it, Turtle's got his Fukijamas and he doesn't really care. He's the driver for the this circus and he knows when to back off and let others do the thinking.

It was a good finale, if a bit sad. Sad to see the team broken up. Sad to see Ari giving that pathetic pitch to Vince. Sad to see Vince being a hardass about it all and turning his back to Ari. But mostly, sad because the season is over. It wasn't the funniest or best ep this season, but it was a good enough cap, and makes me look forward to next year.

And I did get a good laugh out of Ari's dead-on, nasally impersonation of Eric. Plus Rex Lee as Lloyd got a few more minutes to shine as he rounded up the gay assistants network to try and thwart Vince's pursuit of a new agent.

Piven's got the gold, but he owes a lot of that to Doug Ellin, Rob Weiss, and Lisa Alden, the writers who give him the snappy, snarky lines in the first place. They didn't get their Emmy, but if they play it smart and submit any of the past four episodes (particularly the Vegas one for Ellin's writing and Julian Farino's directing), they could hit big next year in those categories. Or, if the big guns on the show (Ellin and Farino) can step back and let go of ego, they might submit the penultimate episode of this season, "What About Bob?", written by Brian Burns and directed by Ken Whittingham, for consideration. Cause it was the funniest.

I don't expect Adrian Grenier to get any award recognition, but he was great this year. I'm not just saying that because of his impossibly blue eyes, either. I told you before, it pisses me off how good looking he is. But his affable, easy charm onscreen does position him as a Clooney for the twenty-somethings. Maybe we can see a little darkhorse Emmy consideration next year for Kevin Dillon's Johnny Drama. He had enough flash, and enough humiliation, to really pop off the screen.

Anyhow. Awards or not, this was a good season. Very well done, boys.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Bitch Edit Is Back

Interesting week on Rock Star. They decided to turn front-runner Dilana into the queen bitch. We all know that editing can make someone look really bad, but they can't put stuff on tape that didn't happen. Among her highlights:
1) Her telling Ryan that if it weren't for the house band, his performance would've been nothing.
2) After a fan suggesting that she and Ryan share the singing gig for Supernova she said she'd shoot Ryan if that happened.
3) When giving press interviews, she dragged Lukas through the mud by saying he was too moody.
4) Also during the interviews, she said that Magni was only in this for exposure and the same with Toby.

Dave was astounded. I give up. Dave always has the right response anymore. He admitted that he'd mouthed off before and said stupid things to the press, and also warned them that they'd better grow a thick skin, because plenty of people were going to be criticizing them and dogging them relentlessly. (Hi Dave! Love the eyebrows! Love The Panic Channel CD! I've even warmed to One Hot Minute a bit! And you're a great poker player, Dave!)

All this fallout from Dilana after she'd been kicking so much ass. Great television, isn't it? For all we know, Storm was also a complete ass in the interviews, and maybe even Magni or Toby. But we have no idea, because they didn't show any of their stuff. This was the bring Dilana down episode, for sure.

Especially interesting because this came right on the heels of her looking kind of cute in the reality footage the previous night. She and Toby were locked in fighting for a song, and since she'd made him run 'round the pool naked to win the song he wanted, he turned the tables and offered her the same deal. Seeming stunned at first, Dilana then stripped down and streaked, and it was pretty funny. It even gave us the best Dave –T. Lee exchange of the night when they argued over who has the bigger pool for her to come streak at. (Believe it or not, Dave won, as his is, and I quote, "nearly Olympic sized." Reaaaally?? This revelation just as I was warming to Dave anyhow.

Seriously, I've given him plenty of shit, and I don't take it back, because it was fun. But I do have to say that as I feared, after watching him for weeks on this show, I've gained a lot of respect for him. He is a great host. Obviously intelligent, quite the gentleman with Brooke, giving insightful commentary, and he's full of witty repartee. When Storm cracked that she was wearing his corset, he didn't even blink before laughing. And then he turned the tables when Tommy asked her to show more skin (of course he did) and Dave said, "I need the corset back right now."

Also showing a sense of humor that I never expected was Toby. That stunt he pulled, making Dilana run naked round the pool to win the song from him? He privately admitted later that it was particularly satisfying because he didn't want the song at all. Good on ya, Mate! He then came out and did "Layla", which I thought was an odd choice, as it's really known as a guitar song. But Toby re-arranged it nicely to showcase his vocals and he really did sound great on it. He then stripped off his shirt and performed half the song half naked, which the censors did allow. Perhaps because he had ridiculously written "EVS" across his chest? Yes, Dave wondered what the fuck that was. Despite the EVS, Toby showed a spark of life this week, and naturally it landed him in the bottom three.

Before his bottom three performance, he also got the boost of being the chosen one to perform with Supernova. The song wasn't as instantly catchy as Dilana's was last week, but it ended up having a decent hook. But Toby looked alright up there with them. He sounds great, that's for sure. It's just a matter of if his rough and tumble but excessively low-glam style is enough for them.

Joining him in the bottom three were Patrice and Magni. I was glad to see Patrice go. She bored me all the time with her predictable, bland performances. Enough said there. Magni, he had performed "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and I hadn't liked it, to tell the truth. He's got too much of a Bono vibe to pull off Cobain. But last night he did Jimi Hendrix's "Fire" and he did light it up. When in doubt, do a Hendrix song. Everyone loves Jimi, and if you pull it off, you'll get mad props. It worked for Magni, and he'll be around another week.

For some reason that I can't fathom, Ryan wasn't in the bottom three. For the life of me, I can't figure out WHAT this cat's appeal is, and to whom. He seems decent enough, and he's suffered the slings of Dilana's arrows. But still. Watching him is always like watching a complete amateur. Please notice that they never show Jason's critique of him. That's because Jason carries all the credibility juice and I imagine he doesn't give many props to the kid. Sure, Dave praises him, but they also make a point to show Dave LAUGHING through his performances. He praises him in a "What the fuck was that?" kind of way.
Storm was okay. She again picked the hardest song vocally, with Aerosmith's "Cryin'". It looks like she's skimming the bottom three every week, but never landing there. And I've a feeling Tommy and Dave want to keep her sexy-scary ass around as long as possible. I like her. She's a freak even though she's pretty.

Then, of course, there was Lukas. Lukas, along with Ryan, took the slams from Dilana this week. He just kept cocking his carefully shaved eyebrow and pursing his lips and letting it roll off his back, not really returning fire – at least not what they showed in editing. For his performance he did The Killers' "All These Things That I've Done." I love my Vegas-baby Killers. Loathe though I am to admit it, at this point, with Licorice Whip Zayra gone, Lukas really is the only interesting one left. We now know that no one's going to come out dressed in a full body condom. Magni is going to be Bonoish, Toby is going to be slackerish, Storm will have a classy, sexy, kick-your-ass look, Ryan will look absurd no matter what he wears because his main accessory is his squint, Dilana will be trussed up ghoulishly ugly shit, and Lukas will be wearing black.

But though Lukas's performances are still sort of hybrid and rote and mumbly and predictable, he's still got that impish, wannabe weird-o allure that makes me watch him. Let me make it clear – I haven't turned. I don't like him. He's got a cool voice, but he mumbles too fucking much and just like Kathleen Turner with her indeterminate and inexplicable accent, I don't know where the fuck he gets his inflection from, but I know it's as put-on as Billy Joe Armstrong's. But I like Billy Joe, because he has the sense of fun about himself. Lukas just takes himself way too seriously. But I admit it, he makes me watch as he limps and staggers around and cocks that perfectly shaved eyebrow and shakes the shades off his head.

I also have to give props to Lukas for drawing out the "Fuck off" moment from Gilby this week. Everyone was rapt with Lukas's performance, and half the fun is watching him haul himself around the stage and turn around and snarl at the drummer. But Gilby is sick of him turning his back to the audience. Gilby says Supernova will take care of the stuff back there and that Lukas needs to turn around and face the audience all the time. Fuck off, Gilby Clarke. Just fuck off. I may not like Lukas, but at least he's different. Every single piece of advice Gilby gives is so fucking rote and playbook. There is no variation from formula for him. He likes to SAY that people should change it up, but then he doesn't like it when they do. Another example, Toby's "Layla." Toby changed that song around and make a really old, overplayed thing fresh. And Gilby didn't like it. Perhaps he'd have preferred to have taken the stage and picked up his guitar and slaughter the solos the same way he wrecks everything else he tries to play. But the House Band guitarist nailed the shit and I think Gilby knows he's punk'd in every way by that dude.

I hate Gilby. But that's okay. I didn't expect that to happen. All my Navarro disdain has been successfully transferred, and I feel good about it.

Last, let's talk for a minute about Dilana's performance of The Police's "Every Breath You Take." I swear, I'm writing this up now, but my thoughts were the same even before she got the uber-bitch edit on results night. Her performance was okay. I didn't mind the ridiculous pink feather eyelashes, because I've come to expect Dilana to have weird shit on her face and body. When I really cringed though was when she started crooning "Dilana" toward the end of the song. Seriously. I was just like, "The Fuck?" Of course they showed Lukas's reaction, which was to just cock his groomed eyebrow as if silently saying, "The Fuck?"

Here's the thing with Darling Dilana. Way back at the start of the season, she set off my warning bells when she helped Dana. Not because she helped Dana, but because when they asked her why she helped Dana, Dilana answered, "Because I'm a very loving and generous person." She's mentioned a couple times how good her soul is. And THAT is what set off my "bitch alert" meter.

Almost invariably, whether it's business or personal dealings, when someone tells me what a great person they are, the end up not to be. When someone tells me I can trust them, they end up screwing me. When someone says they're generous, they stiff me with bills. When a guy says he likes me and he'll call, he doesn't. It's how it works. And the best part is that these people aren't lying when they say this shit. Most people, they really don't believe the bad shit about themselves. There are always excuses or mitigating circumstances, and even if the behavior is habitual, it's not them, it's everyone else.

It's like playing poker. It's a bluff, but it's a bluff with a big old giant tell, and the people are unconscious of it. If someone's bluffing in poker, and they're an experienced player, and someone tries to suss them out, they know better than to put up a front and say, "I've got the cards" or "I'm not bluffing" That's an instant tell. That's what Dilana did when she said she was such a kind-hearted person. A real poker player knows better. They know that the proper response is, if they have the urge to respond at all, "That's for you to figure out." And that's how most, middle-of-the-road people behave. They don't tell you they're wonderful, and they don't tell you they're rotten. They let you figure it out for yourself.

And when Dilana started crooning her own name during that song, her hand was revealed even before they showed the package clip of the whole week and all her bitchy moves.

Now let me say this, though. I'm not saying that Dilana's rotten or that she doesn't still deserve the job. I'm just saying that Dilana does think quite highly of Dilana – more than she thinks of other people, contrary to what she proclaims -- and that Supernova oughta be aware of that, which they now are.

To her credit, when Dave started roasting her, Dilana knew the proper PR move at that point and she apologized for hurting the others and said she'd made a mistake. When Dave presses as to WHY she did it, she answered that she's just too honest. That, my friends, was also a telling comment. She also mentioned that it's a competition. It's not that she doesn't know how to lie. She chose not to, and she stuck it directly to her biggest competition (Lukas and Magni) and the one guy that she sees as beneath her (Ryan) who's been garnering praise.

So it was a good week for entertainment value, even with Zayra gone. Tommy, I will briefly note, seemed like he'd been drinking from Paula Abdul's cup once again. Perhaps tonight when I get home I'll get a screencap of the watershed moment, when Tommy was slunk way down on the couch, waving a sweet bye-bye to Patrice. If you didn't see that, you truly missed one of the highlights.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Cut to the Chase

LOVED this week's Entourage. What a lovely little twist of beauty having Ari piss off Bob so badly. And then poor, lost, anachronistic Bob finds his way over to Warner Bros. to completely screw Vinny and Ari over.

Sigh. There will be no Pablo Escobar. And now there will be no Joey Ramone.

But from this season, there is this: Vincent Chase is one cool cat. I admitted I finally fell for him somwhere along the way, good-looking heartbreaker though he may be, but last night proved why. He's still real enough to refuse to cut in line to get Turtle his coveted Fukijamas. Naturally, Turtle ends up not getting the swish shoes because of Vincent's integrity. This makes Turtle sad. So what's Vince do? Everything he has to. Yeah yeah. It's superficial that Turtle wants the damn sneakers, but c'mon. That's not the point. The point is that Vince goes every extra yard for his pal, just because.

Oh. If only we could find just one cat with even half the life as Vinny in Hollywood. Even when he makes Turtle admit that he's got juice, you've gotta love him for it. Vinny is a last pillar of integrity in this jaded, egocentric, bottom-line land. And that's the beautiful irony of this season. The more he keeps acting like a decent human being, the more he keeps getting raked over the coals for it. It all just seems so real. Well. Except for him being an unspoiled pillar of integrity. Where's the Scientology? Where's the pampered hissy-fits? Where's the backstabbing and betrayal of his best friends? It's not here. Which is what makes this some of the best fiction going. Vinny is what we wish people would be, but very rarely who they are.

Meanwhile Drama works through his nerves about his pilot by working one out while still being wired for sound, so his director, Ed Burns, along with the rest of the crew listens in. Oh. Those charming Chase boys.

And Turtle? He deserves some Fukijamas.

Matthew St. Amand's Randham Acts

This weekend, I read Matt St. Amand's debut novel, Randham Acts, and I loved it!

Aspiring writer and college student Hugh Longford had just asked his girlfriend, Stephanie, to move in with him. But instead of it being a landmark romantic moment in their relationship, it deteriorates into an ugly fight, because Stephanie refuses to leave her younger brother home with her mother, Bev. Bev has recently gone off her meds, and she's been slipping into fugue states while an even more frightening manic -- and potentially violent -- side of her seems to be emerging. Meanwhile, Stephanie's father, Martin, is on one of his extended sabbaticals from the family while he spends his free time at the racetrack and then crashing on his friend's couch.

Already stressed out from overwork at his job, with his classwork piling up, and sullen from his fight with Stephanie, when Hugh gets yet another rejection notice from the magazine he most covets publication in, Hugh decides to give a new product a try. He purchases and consults The Blockbuster plot generation software module to help him punch up his stagnating story. But it's not long before Hugh begins consulting the software regarding real life issues, starting with an annoying co-worker. Meanwhile, Bev is sticking the screws to Martin and trying to get a new business venture of her own off the ground.

Things in Randham quickly heat up in this debut novel from Matt, who is the author of the short story collection "As My Sparks Fly Upward." Full of twist, turns, and plenty of action, this is a pageturner with extra character kick. Matt reveals his characters from the ground up, letting us get to know them and feel their skin. Vivid and real, Matt's style is incredibly smooth and readable, but not the least bit awkward or dumbed-down like a lot of pulp can be. It's a layered and complex novel within the suspense framework, but you'll keep speeding to see what happens next in this stunning debut.

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

Thursday, August 17, 2006

J.D. Riso -- A Distant North

Last night, I read J.D. Riso's collection of short stories, A Distant North.

Whoa, am I impressed. It's a quick read, so I took it all in at once, but I'm already looking forward to going back and re-reading a couple of the pieces. It's an interesting collection and quite eclectic, in both style and tone, ranging from lighthearted, such as the biographical "A Day in the Life of Mr. Bunny" to the truly disturbing, such as "Snapshots from a Clandestine Hell."

Riso handles her material wonderfully, easily slipping into the skin of her subjects. Whether she's tapping into a dissolute Hollywood agent on the prowl for someone new to corrupt and crush, or a pre-teen, not-the-coolest-in-her-class schoolgirl and her shenanigans with her best friend, she captures mood and uses language perfectly to flesh out the environment and characters.

Capturing whimsy and wistful both so well, this is book is short, but it packs a wallop. I loved it. J.D. has a novel forthcoming from Murphy's Law Press, entitled Blue, and I'd been lucky enough to read small snippets from it before. This collection is making me look forward to diving into the whole novel. Well done, J.D.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Strip Tease -- Hurts So Good

The new terminology for acoustic is "stripped down." I guess because "unplugged" made sense, but it's sooo 1991. So to do songs acoustic nowadays, we now find it perfectly reasonable to employ five guitars and a seven piece orchestra and still call that "stripped down."


Also, there was something grotesque to me about the censors making Navarro and Tommy put their shirts back on. Let me make sure I understand this properly. It was perfectly acceptable to have ten seasons of Jennifer Aniston flouncing her pert nipples around on "Friends" in her clingy tops, but it's not okay for Dave to show his skin? It's perfectly acceptable when everyone's running around on an island on "Survivor" with no shirts and shorts while we watch them willfully emaciate on a weekly basis, I suppose because they're whoring themselves to self-torture for the oh-so noble pursuit of money. But when a couple of rich dudes sit around with their shirts off, that's unacceptable? Perhaps it's the psuedo BDSM-looking thrones they perch themselves on that brings too much to the table? I don't know. But God forbid anyone get a sexual thrill from rock! Censors. What a bunch of killjoys, you know?

Anyhow, even being forced to wear clothes couldn't dampen Dave's enthusiasm last night, what with The Panic Channel's CD being released and all. Nice national exposure, shirtless or not. What the hell. I'll buy it, because it's win-win for me. Maybe I'll like it. If I don't like it, it'll be something to re-ignite my Navarro disdain.

Speaking of disdain, there's not much that could increase the level I have for Gilby Clarke these days. I will say this, though. He didn't mangle Peter Gabriel's "Solsbury Hill" last night with his acoustic pickings.

(Toby sang with him on this, and played the bongos. It was cute, Toby sounded fine, and he reeled in his smarm factor somewhat. What he upped what his ass-kissing groveling, which was smart. Toby, he knows the moves to make. He ran 'round naked to prove he wanted the song with Gilby, because he was smart enough to LEARN after the ass-chewing last week that they need to prostrate themselves for these opportunities. He then told Dave that the Panic Channel Cd was great. And he told the guys how bad he wants the gig. They do not question his commitment. Also, T. Lee thinks he's got a nice ass. Charmingly hypocritical, isn't it, how we can see a man's bare ass on TV as long as it's in pursuit of a job. It's just when it's in pursuit of pussy that it's not allowed. And yet, the irony is that, as I said before, the "job" for Toby is really just to up his pussy-intake. It's nothing but a pimp middle-man. But I guess that thin veneer of acceptability makes all the difference.)

Anyhow. Back to Gilby: His acoustic playing was definitely an improvement over the shitty sound his electric stylings had previously lent to "Brown Sugar" and "Won't Get Fooled Again." But last night was certainly nothing GOOD, either. He sat there cross-legged on the piano, plucking out the melody in a fairly innocuous and safe manner. And then he had the balls to lecture the other contestants about how they should bring something new to the songs.

Plus, it's quite obvious that he fancies himself quite the intelligent spokesman at this point. Listen, Gil. Just because you can string together a coherent sentence doesn't make you a fucking musical Mensa candidate, okay? Trust me, leave the meaningful commentary to Dave and Jason, because not only do they know what they're talking about, they have actual musical chops. You weren't even the lead guy for G-n-R, Gil. Slash punk'd you in every way back then, and you're no better now. You don't have the himbo appeal of Tommy, you're too tight-assed to enjoy the onstage humping, and you can't back up a single arrogant thing you say with even one decent fucking lick, okay? So fuck off, Gilby Clarke. Just fuck off.

Gilby keeps riding Zayra about not doing something that would fit with Supernova. At this point, it's a really redundant thing to tell her, and it's why I've fallen in love with her.

Last night, Zayra won the battle and got to do her own original song on the stage. Nevermind that she came out dressed in a black bra, a silver collar, and a red dust ruffle. (okay, we can't nevermind that, it was great!) She also wrecked shit with the song. It was in Spanish, and I don't have a clue what she was saying. Brooke did her host duty and told us we could read the English version on the website, but I'm not going to do that. I know that's fraught with danger, right there. Just like Zayra's costumes, if I'd pull a loose string like that, the whole thing could expose too much. I don't want to know, because as it was, it was beautiful. She sang ON KEY. I mean, her voice was good.

Though I'd grown fond of her anyhow, somehow, when she got up there and did her own thing, I finally fully "got it". She's been fighting the Supernova box, and I love that about her. But last night, she wasn't just fighting the genre that's she's not, she was also herself, in all her Zayran glory. I get it, baby! I dig it. As Elliott was my cupcake, Zayra is now my licorice whip. Not everyone likes licorice. And people who don't like it can't ever understand why anyone else likes it. But if you've got a taste for it, nothing else will do. It's a strong, acquired taste. Not quite fruity, but definitely odd, and with more bite than sweetness, but still full of whimsy. That's Zayra. She'll probably go home this week.


Even though it should be Patrice hitting the road. She did The Police's "Message in a Bottle" and it was wholly average. I admit it. Unlike Zayra, I don't "get" Patrice at all, because I don't think there's much TO get. Dave thinks there's a "brilliant performer inside her." But I have a feeling that statement would only apply at the exact moments that Tommy had his cock literally inserted and was fucking her. Cause otherwise, she's empty.

Another chick hitting the skids last night was Storm. She made the bad decision of stepping on guy's toes by wearing a formidable wallet chain, and changed things up by letting it dangle from the front of her suit instead of her ass. She belted out the overwrought, overplayed disco anthem "I Will Survive" and she put the Cake stink on it, trying to heavy it down. The crowd loved her, the band and Dave hated her. They used that word, repeatedly. And she repeated her favorite word: Spank. She said she likes spankings. Oh, how well Stormy fits in with the BDSM decor.

Dilana fared the best of the women. She did...oh shit. This is telling. I can't recall what she did. I have to go look it up. Oh yeah. She did "Cats in the Cradle" by Harry Chapin. Well. Yeah, she was good. And I mean that. But I'm not making it up, I had forgotten what she sang. And it's because she was good, and the guys praised her, but it was nothing extraordinary. It was a very mainstream, solid performance. Which I guess puts her even more in the lead of the pack here.

In a similar vein was Magni and his take on Bowie's "Starman." Nice white suit homage without being a rip off. Good voice. Good performance. Plenty of ass-kissing to reaffirm he wants the gig. Magni is good. In a mainstream way. He's a likable guy. But I've yet to see anything extraordinary about him. But I "get" that that's not the point, here.

There is something extraordinary about Ryan. It's the level of his suckitude. He was all dressed up in Tom Cruise's leftover wardrobe from "Interview with the Vampire" and he shouted out the once-sultry revenge anthem "In the Air Tonight." Now listen. I'll admit it. I've been struggling with swimmer's ear in my left ear for the past week. Maybe that's why Zayra finally sounded fantastic. And maybe that's why Ryan continued to sound like hell to me and the guys praised him. But I don't think so. I think they mistake Ryan's clueless, squinty, knotted eyebrow look for intensity. I don't think he looks intense. He looks constipated. And I think he looked ridiculous in his feathered mohawk hoodie last week and outlandishly silly in his silver skull ring and turn of the century pea coat last night.

And then there's Lukas. The fuck can I say at this point? He sat on a wooden chair and in his preacher's collar and strappy black pants he looked like he was preparing to be electrocuted. His vocal affectations sounded like he was being electrocuted. Know what he moves like? Remember the Nine Inch Nails video for "Closer" and how it was herky-jerky shot? Lukas moves like he's in that video, and it's not camera tricks causing the disorientation. From ghastly fake smiles to affected ticks and menacing scowls, he, unlike Dilana, left an impression. That's good. But it wasn't the Zayra kind of impression. He's not like a licorice whip. More like a cat-o-nine lash -- but in a teenage, asexual way. All the pain of BDSM without the eventual pleasure and release -- until he shuts the fuck up and gets off stage. He mumbled his way through "Hero" and all the guys loved it and Jason said he needs to stop closing off his voice and blahblahblah. We've seen this show before, and we're going to keep seeing this act of his for several more weeks. And yet no one's strapping me into an electric chair and forcing me to watch.

I do it willingly. With glee.

Until Gilby strips off his shirt. Then I'm out of here.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Hey Ho, Let's Go!

Doug Ellin, I would be your bitch.

Just when I couldn't think it was possible to be loving Entourage even more:

Vinny Chase goes to a bookstore to pick up a chick.

Turtle is coming into big money, so he tells Vinny he won't need his paycheck anymore. (But okay, he'll take twenty bucks for parking.)

Johnny Drama is being dangled upside down off a balcony, but he's less terrified of death than flattered at being recognized from "Viking Quest."

Ari is too involved with swatches to be concerned about making money for the day. (!!)

And Eric. Once in a while, E pulls one out. After getting wined and dined by an old-Hollywood legend (played by Martin Landau), E gets fed up. But then he spots a picture of the lonely old codger with Joey Ramone and BOOM, Vinny's next big gig is born. They've got a script, they've got a producer, and they're going to make "I Wanna Be Sedated" -- the story of Queens punk rockers, The Ramones.

I didn't think it could get better than Pablo Escobar, but it just did.

Don Capone's "Stories From Sunset Hill"

There are moments in life that define us, change us, affect us. They can be big, landmark occasions, or sometimes they're smaller, quieter moments of revelation, loss, or triumph. This is what Don Capone understands, and illustrates, so well in his debut collection of short stories, Stories from Sunset Hill.

Sometimes the moments come while fleeing in a hail of gunfire, or while getting teeth knocked out by a bare-knuckled punch. And sometimes the moments are much more mundane and happen while simply eating a yogurt, or rifling through your grandfather's long-boxed up belongings. But just because some of the moments are quieter or more introspective doesn't mean they aren't weighted as heavily with emotion or as fraught with tension.

In this collection, Capone navigates effortlessly from the high-octane, heavy action narrative to the whispery, introspective tales and manages to make them all resonate just as strongly.

The setting of Sunset Hill, New York serves as the connective tissue between the individual stories, and Capone indeed uses this to its full potential, making the neighborhood a supporting character, drawing on its history and lore, sometimes having a person from one story make a brief appearance in another, sometimes picking up on a small detail and using the imagery again. And the details are part of what's so good about all these stories. The characters and setting are vivid and knowable because there almost seems to be a blurring of fiction and reality at times, because the telling minutiae is so well captured.

In "Green Panties," we see a man's life spiral out of control with the appearance of a mysterious pair of underwear. While in "Raze," a small, seemingly meaningless change and upgrade in the neighborhood is just the impetus to give another resident a new hope. There are unexpected, clever and ironic twists in a few of the tales, while some are straightforward and heartfelt. And some, such as "nineeleven," are simply heartbreaking. Because while the geography contains all the people in the stories, it's still ultimately their connections to each other that matter, and how their pasts and futures weave together. A teenage pharmacy worker comes to this understanding in "The Midget of Gramatan Avenue," and the local "freak," whose own history is splintered, still manages to carry plenty of collected history.

Exceptionally well written, with plenty of humor, and characters that all feel more like real people rather than fictional constructs, "Sunset Hill" is a great place to swing by and visit, and Capone is an excellent tour guide.

Stories from Sunset Hill now available from Rebel Press.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Zane presents Caramel Flava

Zane's latest release is an anthology of Latin-themed erotica, called Caramel Flava. Lucky, lucky me -- one of my stories is included in it!

From the jacket:
Zane, the queen of erotic fiction and publisher of Strebor Books, an imprint of Atria Books/Simon & Schuster, presents the second in a series of collections of great erotic fiction. Based on the Featured Erotica section of her website, Eroticanoir.com, which gets more than three million hits a year from around the world, these sensual tales, handpicked by Zane, are sure to please her fans.

These stories are written specifically with both African-American and Latino readers in mind, but they are for all people because as Zane always states: "Sensuality is universal." Among the contributors are names already familiar to readers of erotica, such as Tracee A. Hanna, Teresa Lamai, Michelle De Leon, Naleighna Kai, William Fredrick Cooper, and, of course, Zane -- as well as emerging voices, such as Pat Tucker, James W. Lewis, and Nikki Sinclair. (and me, Susan DiPlacido!)

Zane always selects stories that turn her on, and she guarantees they will turn you on, also. These storytellers take risks. The stories are unique and creative. The contributors to this book are great at what they do -- making readers hot.

A todos los amantes del mundo. No importa el color de su piel, la pasiĆ³n es universal.

(Translation: To all the lovers in the world. No matter what your skin color, passion is universal.)

I'm not sure I can find the words to describe how happy I am to be included in this book. It's such an honor to share pages with Zane and these other talented writers, and it's kind of mind-boggling how many people have the chance to read my story because of this. I'm extremely grateful to Zane.

My story in the collection is called "Found in Translation" and it's a hot little tale that takes place in Cuba.

Caramel Flava is now available online, and in bookstores everywhere shortly.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Random stuff

For all the writers, I read about a couple of contests recently, and instead of re-pasting the info here, I'll just direct you to the original blogs that had the info:

Myfanwy Collins has some interesting news about a new anthology being put together for the best of online writing. Even better, she's got a lovely story posted called "Cicadas" that captures the tail end of summer perfectly.

Gwendolyn Joyce Mintz has some news about a new erotica anthology. As a bonus, she's always got some wonderful quotes and her posts are sharp and insightful and a good kick in the ass.

And, the shockingly good Dennis Mahagin is the featured poet at The Hiss Quarterly.

Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang

A double elimination! And Zayra wasn't one of the booted!! She wasn't even in the bottom three! You go, baby girl. Go to Vegas full of verve and come back on the Rock Star stage next week and wreck shit, chica. I'm with you all the way.

So last night was the "surprise" double elimination of the season, and both Josh and Jill got the boot. Fine by me. The only way it could've been better is if they'd made it a triple elimination and let the Tommyhawk chop off Ryan's dreams, too. But they spared the squinty one, proving he has yet another thing in common with the illusionist he looks like: They're both good at improbable escapes.

The ones who survived get to go to Vegas with Supernova this week. I admit, I'm jealous. The only thing that'd be better than going to Vegas with Supernova would be going with Dave Navarro. Oh, yeah, I know I hate him and all. But he's good at poker and I've found myself sucked into his nail-painted, mesh-gloved wearing appeal. And like it not, he kicks out the perfect amusing comments. I think the bastard has hypnotized me from his throne or something.

I don't mind that Josh and Jill are gone. Josh sang Bad Company's "Shooting Star" last night and he insisted on grinning his idiot grin through it all and shaking his head around like he's just the funkiest cat that ever funked. He's got a good voice, yeah. But earlier in the season, Jason Newsted warned him to not overdo it with the flourishes, that a little goes a long way. Josh just doesn't "get" that. He has embellish the whole fucking song, all the time, and he ends up sounding like a butterfly with hiccups and I've had enough of his shit.

Jill, well. We knew she was going to get the boot for weeks now, ever since she popped off to Gilby (who deserved it) with too much 'tude. She sang "Respect" last night as Newsted had the "what's that smell" look on his face and all the other contestants were like WTF? I thought she sounded good on it, but wanted her booted anyhow.

The only dark spot was Ryan, who did "Enjoy the Silence" for his encore. Maybe Ryan is like a Zayra and I just don't "get" him. But I don't think so. During last night's performance, his one leg kept doing the nervous, coffee-jitters shake thing and his affected "intensity" just doesn't do it for me at all. Plus, I think he mostly sounds like shit. But I guess they had enough room on the private jet so they figured they'd let Ryan hitch along for another week since they had to bring Patrice, too.

Jill was all classy in her goodbye, thanking the guys profusely. I'm hoping she goes home and pops off and gives a scathing interview though, so I'll be on the lookout for that. Josh, he took it cool, saying he knew he wasn't in the same vein as Supernova anyhow. That's the thing, Joshy. These guys once were "in the vein", street pharms kind of guys, whereas I think you're pretty happy with your orally ingested prescription meds. He joked about not being able to go to Vegas, and Jason loved his "attitude" and spirit. Yeah. That "spirit" is easily available, and it's courtesy of Pfizer.

A random tidbit of note: What the fuck was on T. Lee's neck? Did you see that big red splotch under his left ear? That wasn't a hickey, was it? Cuz that thing was HUGE man. A chick would have to have a jaw that unhinges -- not to mention enough sucking power to pull a baseketball through a clarinet -- to be able to leave a mark like that. Also, his new haircut shows off his big ears and gives him a bit of an elfin look. I approve.

I've heard rumors that Brooke Burke is pregnant. So I ask this question: Why do any of us CARE?

As expected, Lukas got the encore last night. He once again looked like a stroke victim as he loped the dead half of his body around the stage. But the best part? He didn't get the only encore! Supernova giveth, and they taketh back. Magni also got to perform again. So Lukas wasn't the best, he was one of the best. I smirked. I then wondered why Magni, and Toby for that matter, who have accents when they speak, manage to sing without accents, as most people do. But why Lukas, who's a native English speaker, has a really heavy accent when he sings? Hmm.

I hope we get some Vegas footage next week.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Half assed recap

Sorry, I've been busy with work so I don't have time for a full-fledged Supernova recap this week. Maybe I'll catch up and do something more substantial after the elimination tonight.

Believe me, I have plenty to say about last night's Rock Star episode. How could I not at least comment in passing on Ryan's Zorro-inspired eyeshadow and his feathered mohawk hoodie as he utterly butchered "Paint it Black" and then got praised for it? I mean, fucking Tommy knew it sucked and wanted to tell him so, but Dave's eyebrows intimidated him into saying it was good. It wasn't. It was frenetic and screechy and reminded me of a rabid racoon singing karaoke.

But I was thrilled to see Navarro pull out a really idiotic opinion for a change. Perhaps it has something to do with his new rumored squeeze, Jenna Jameson. I've contemplated making an incestuous graph that details the fuck-buddy swapping pool of rock stars and porn stars, but decided that even Photoshop doesn't have enough red ink for me to write "SKANK" with pointy arrows everywhere necessary.

To balance it out, we had Storm and her "spank the crap" comment that we just KNOW drew a retort from T Lee that got edited out. She proudly wore ill-fitting trousers as she belted out "We Are the Champions." Do I detect some stress-eating poundage on Stormy? I think so. It's all good. Maybe someday she and Taylor Hicks can hang out and chow down on ribs and whatever the fuck people from the Northwest love to eat -- double latte mochaccinos, maybe? (and before any feminists get on my shit for picking on a chick's weight gain, let me give you a preemptive "fuck off" because as a struggling fat chick who stress eats, I do feel I have the liberty to tease.)

And then there was Zayra -- not showing a trace of stress poundage -- and her molten gold bodysuit with top hat and platform shoes. (Zayra -- I love you! You're my new girl crush! You can't sing for shit, baby, but I love your camp and cheek. I had you all wrong at the start. Please forgive me!) She really and truly is awful, that Zayra. But it's still good TV so I really hope she sticks around a bit longer. Jill doing her Avril Lavigne impression and Mr. Dave in-fucking-sightful Navarro pegging her as Carmela Soprano. Once again, that observation was spot on. I can't stand it.

Darling Dilana singing The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again" with Gilby on guitar. Oh, she looks like a pro, but as I'd long feared, her voice caved on this number. Gilby gave me my "Fuck off, Gilby. Just fuck off," moment once again when he said that Dilana just proved a girl can front their band. Josh got surprised when Tommy jumped up to join him on STP's "Interstate Love Song". This left Dilana looking jealous, and who can blame her? Not only did Josh get the crushing light show compliments of T. Lee joining him, but he sounded capable enough, though I admit to looking past him to watch Tommy. And Tommy, you gotta love him, when he was done he gave a big, bouncy, happy hug to Josh, who just seemed underwhelmed by it all. Whether it's because he never drops his laid-back stoner persona or because he's under the influence of several SSRIs, I don't know, but he never seems to move beyond a flatline.

How about Magni? Wailing out "The Dolphin's Cry" by Live. Wow. Did he totally pwn the memory of Chris Daughtry or what? And Patrice. I've finally figured it out. All the tattoos in the world can't change the fact that she's got the face and demeanor of a butch, bitchy soccer mom. "Instant Karma" isn't going to save her forever. And it just may land her in the bottom three -- again, this week, and I really hope either she or Jill goes.

I've been over Toby for a week or so. But I'd love to comment on how obvious it is that his confidence has been shaken. I got sick of him and his frat-boy demeanor, the way he leads everything with his dick, and the way he skates on average performances by being good looking. But it's always interesting when the arrogant get yellow carded and their ego gets pulled back in line, and perhaps even crumbles like an overbaked chocolate chip cookie. I fear that "surface" is all Toby has to offer though. He tried to do something different last night by employing props! But a megaphone doesn't hide the fact that he's still doing the same thing, over and over.

Someone who did something a little different was the skunk-haired super-phony Lukas. His hair was down, and he left the glitter shadow at the manse. He enunciated more and tried to be "heartfelt" and used more of his voice instead of his usual garbled growl. Just as I was ready to soften and say, "Eh. It was pretty good," the fucker looked right at the camera and winked as he sang, "I don't belong here." That line is courtesy of Radiohead's "Creep." Ahem. I'm not kidding though. The turd winked right fucking at me. Smarm. Smarmier than whatever gross comment of Tommy's they edited out concerning Storm spanking him.

He'll get the encore, I'm quite sure. Jason kissed his ass afterward, saying that he finally used his instrument properly. And, oh yeah, Dilana looked pissed again when all this was going on.

Anyhow, I'd have plenty to say about all that if I had more time. But I'm also still bitter that they booted Dana and left so many boring people around. I don't really care who goes next, I just know that Jill, Patrice, Ryan, and Josh are still hanging around. I know Zayra sucks. But c'mon. I much prefer her glam-antics to anything those four do. I guess we'll see how it shakes out tonight.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

All that glitters...

is not Gold. Sometimes, it's Johnny Drama. And sometimes it's just the sparkle lotion on a stripper's cleavage.

Entourage in Vegas. Can it get any better than that? Actually, yes it can. The boys making a mid-week, fastbreak for Vegas was just the flop. On the turn, we got caustic Seth Green along for the ride with his entourage, doing shots of Jagermeister and hassling E. And the river? That was Johnny inadvertently landing a scorching hot ex-football player turned masseuse in his bed.

Oh, Kevin Dillon as Drama. How I love thee. The best part? His oh-so earnest male adoration of the massuese which somehow convinced the straight guy to give it up for Drama wasn't the "gay" part. Oh no. That paled in comparison to Drama being so interested in his new pineapple coconut body oil.

Filmed on location at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Vegas, the show did a great job of showing off the scenery while mixing it in the plot. And the best part? It wasn't a weekend in Vegas. It was a Wednesday. That's right. Turtle booked Vince to judge the "Queen of the Stip" contest on a Wednesday. That's the beauty of Vegas. In Vegas, Wednesday is the weekend, complete with all-night partying, gambling on blackjack, poolside beauties, a strip contest, hot man-on-Drama action, Seth Green, and Ari on the verge of busting a blood vessel over this blackjack losses.

My only question at this point is this: When exactly did I fall in love with Vince? Sure, sure, he saved the day, once again. It used to be that The Piv was the main draw on this show, with Drama and Turtle rounding it out, with Vince as the token pretty boy that kept it all in play. But somewhere between getting his heart broken by Mandy Moore and defiantly dicking over a whole new set of suits for wrecking "Queens Boulevard," Vinny has really grown on me, as has Adrian Grenier.

Grenier plays Vince with the perfect cocky swagger. Not a whiff of entitlement, but plenty of confidence. Certainly, Entourage isn't Shakespeare in the park. But Adrian is turning in a great, understated performance this year, and no matter how devastatingly good looking he is, I have to give him credit for it.

But bright as Adrian/Vince has been shining lately, this episode still belonged to Kevin Dillon's Drama. From strutting through the casino in his robe on his way to a rubdown to throwing the first punch in the Seth Green showdown, Drama was living up to his name.

And I loved the robe in the casino touch, because I've seen it done, my friends. It's really not so unusual to take an early morning stroll and see the rich, suite dwellers pad downstairs for an exotic coffee in their robes. And then, of course, they get distracted by a hand of blackjack for a few minutes. Or an hour. Or three. That's the beauty of Vegas. It's perfectly acceptable behavior to be wearing pajamas and a robe, or even just the robe, as you sit around sipping a Bloody Mary and pressing a "cash out" button.

Good on Drama for getting his massage on. And good on the whole Entourage crew for letting Vegas sparkle, shine and glitter.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Confession: I love Secrets!

So I read Ellen Meister's debut novel Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA this weekend and I loved every second of it.

A brief review:

The private lives of three Applewood, Long Island housewives get thrown into turmoil when a production company announces its interest in filming on location at their elementary school.

Although married and with children, the three characters in Meister's book prove that there's still a whole lot of life, longing, determination, and inspriation in these women. They're great moms who love and care for their kids, but they're also individuals with problems and dreams, turmoil and aspirations that reach far beyond their parenting.

Maddie Schein is struggling to find the spark in her marriage, worried that her husband Bruce finds his own cousin more interesting than his wife. Ruth Moss has been taking care of partially paralyzed, impotent, and brain damaged husband for three years and she longs for the spark of passion herself. Lisa Slotnick's spotlight stealing, alcholic mother throws a monkey wrench into her family life when she needs help rehabbing.

These three women comprise the Applewood PTA sub-committee put in charge of acting as a liason with the film company. But they don't just have their hands full with their personal lives. The school project may also be in jeopardy when PTA president Suzanne decides to wrestle the prestigious control of the project away from the three underlings.

Through plenty of laughter and tears, the three very different women bond together quickly, forming deep friendships and sticking together to hopefully conquer all. Will Maddie find bliss with Bruce? Will Ruth get her mojo satisfied? Will Lisa be able to cope with her demanding mother? And most importantly -- will George Clooney be coming to film his movie in Applewood?

Funny and lovable characters, a can't put-down plot, and great writing make this an incredible novel that you'll savor, even as you race through to find out what happens next. Meister has a gold mine in here, not just with her leading ladies, but also with a truly wonderful supporting cast. From the wisecracking Beryl to punishment loving Paul, Meister brings everyone to life. But Meister doesn't stop with the delightful entertainment; she also mines deep, showing us what makes a woman's heart beat and her soul suffer and soar. You'll be thrilled to get to know everyone in this neighborhood. And then you'll be really sad when you have to say goodbye.

Friday, August 04, 2006

J.D. Riso - A Distant North

My pal J.D. Riso is a tremendous writer, and she's released her first collection of short stories. Titled A Distant North, it's now available. From the jacket:
A collection of short stories, travel pieces, microfiction, and other oddities that have been previously published in online or print magazines.

It's a great bargain at only $6.50 for a print copy or .85 cents for a download!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Mighty Fall -- or at least stumble incoherently

I wanted to do a picture essay to kick off this week. Sadly, though I scoured the web, I couldn't find the picture I needed. So instead, I'll do it in words, which admittedly just isn't as funny. It was an homage to Dave Navarro and his eyebrows. Remember the Seinfeld episode where Uncle Leo lost his eyebrows and Elaine drew them on with a Sharpie? Yeah. Those eyebrows were less stylized than Dave's.

It was a tough week again for me and my Dave hate. As I feared when I first tuned in weeks ago, my disdain for him runs low. Yes he dresses like a flake. But he also cracked a joke about it last night, and anyone who has a sense of humor about themselves can't be awful, right? Yes his perfectly made up face is pretty and ridiculous to look at, but every word that comes out of his heart-shaped mouth makes sense. Yes he's split from Carmen Electra but he still sits there, shirtless, with his brave "CE" tattoo showing. And even the gossip mags can't run this couple through. They ran a story about her flouncing around on the town with some other guy last week, and she responded with a laugh, saying, "I was at home watching TV. With Dave!" Ha ha ha. They're separated, but still the best of friends.

Last week, Dave made this comment to one of the contestants: "There is nothing worse than a grounded, centered, well-adjusted rock singer." Yes, Dave. I agree. But I'd also add that a grounded, centered, well-adjusted guitarist also blows. And Dave, he's proven himself to be utterly sensible, calm, collected, and grounded. I admit it. He makes a great host on this show. But really. One Hot Minute still sucks.

So that's what I have to say to that. See the irony there? He's a rock god, but it's because he no longer rocks that he makes such a great host. Another biting irony of this show? That Gilby Clarke has the balls to sit on his sofa of prestige, right next to Dave's throne of lies, and say shit like this: "Rock is all about rebellion!" Fuck off, Gilby. Just fuck off.

Yes, Gilby, I agree with your statement. It is about rebellion. But the irony is that YOU, Gilby, have become the de facto "suit" in this game. Flaccid Phil felt the wrath of the rock gods last week when he dared show disrespect and rebellion by giving interviews that didn't kiss Supernova's ass and instead talked about his own aspirations. On the show, they edited their kiss off of him to say they didn't think he was "committed" to the band. And then this week, they drove the point home to those remaining by gifting Magni with a visit from his family, because he's so committed to the cause. Translation: Magni toes the company line.

It's a tricky thing, this rebellion/respect. Because the contestants come off as snarling ingrates who aren't very well liked by the TV audience if they buck Supernova and don't kiss ass. Kinda like, remember when Jim Morrison pissed off the suits when he promised not to sing some of the lyrics to "Light My Fire" on the Sullivan show? But he did it anyhow? That was rock-n-roll.

Try as they might, network TV that's aimed toward the mainstream, by very definition, MUST be at odds with true rock-n-roll. Jim Morrison rocked. Supernova may end up playing some very listenable, rocklike music, but they will never again rock, because they have sold out and become the machine. And because of that, and because the format demands that someone who sides with them -- demure and grateful for the opportunity at fame and fortune -- will end up fronting them, their lead singer will never rock. They may be a great performer, and they may have a killer voice, and they may be interesting. But they will never be rock-n-roll. Because rock-n-roll is a snarling, sex-soaked, rebellious ingrate, and that's what's so great about it.

Speaking of everything that was once rock being corrupted, the distressing moment from last night's show was the use of The Vapors' "Turning Japanese" for a Dr. Pepper commercial.

On a brigher side, speaking of people who refuse to bend and are doing their own thing, let's talk for a minute about Jill and Zayra. First off, they both sucked last night. It's a shame, really, that they both suck at performing considering that they're the ones who show a spark of rebellious life.

Jill got reamed last week for using sex as a weapon by the mind-blowingly sanitized, indefatigably corporatized, bug up his ass, self important twat Gilby. Jill got snotty with them about it, but of course, they shut her down. This week, she stuck to her guns. And by guns, of course, I mean her tits. And by her tits, I mean the abnormally large saline bags that she had sutured into her tits. Good for her for continuing to play the stripper card! So sad for her that she does it in such a hackneyed, outdated way. It makes me sad for all us sexbomb dago girls from the east coast. It makes me sad because she's a pretty good representation of us and it's a really cliche picture when seen on national tv. With her tummy-baring jeans and big tits and big hair and eyebrows that'd make Dave weep, she shouted out the 80's anthem "Don't You Forget About Me" with all her fist-pumping verve. And it blew.

Zayra is also sticking to her schtick of being the weirdo. I admit it, it's won me over. I said before she'll never front the band but she makes for good TV. She knows it. Supernova knows it. We all know Newsted wants to fuck her. Newsted, by the way, continues to keep his dignity intact by keeping a low profile. Either by having the "what's that smell" look on his face when a performance sucks or the blatant, "I wanna fuck that" look on his face when he's watching Zayra, or by giving sincere props to the most mainstream of the performances. It's all good though. Jason can bring it on the bass and we all love him.

Zayra came out in a leopard print onesie with thigh high boots, and, get this -- a cape. I'm not shitting you. A cape! She also comes off as a stripper. But unlike Jill who's the common, garden variety stripper, Zayra puts on the flashy arthouse show, like an ecstasy-addled predator, who's still performing on Mike Myers's Sprockets. And by arthouse, I mean she sings out of tune and makes strange jerky movements while cauterwalling "867-5309." On the plus side, she awakens Tommy's writers, who invite her to mud wrestle backstage. On an even better side, Dave quips that Tommy is really good at mud wrestling!

Remember back in the day when Navarro claimed to be bisexual? Oh, would that that were true. Oh, if only Dave would play to that temptation. Instead of being seen exclusively with Pussycat Dolls and other sleazy models, if only he WOULD dive into that mud pit with Tommy. Such a scuzzy, slashy affair it'd be. That wouldn't be good TV. It'd be an instant classic, worthy of all that was once scandalously rock.

Not scandalous, but just plain boring, Toby managed to fuck up "Pennyroyal Tea" this week. He sounds good. Still sounds great, in fact. But all my earlier suspicions were proven last night. I thought I was projecting, having an almost reflexive reaction to his Aussie charm. But no. He proved he's a camera-fucking skater last night, trying to keep sliding by on his good looks and sexuality, which isn't sincere.

That's the thing about Tommy's himbo appeal: I believe it's sincere. I believe that Tommy loves the ladies. I believe that Toby likes for ladies to love him. He sang and then slunk into the crowd and captured a buxom blonde in a really forced, fake, smarmy embrace at the end. Dave told him it was anti-climactic, especially after Dilana had just gone in the audience and done it well.

Speaking of Dilana, she, of course, was great. She did "Can't Get Enough" while strutting around in weird pair of leather/fishnet pants, working the audience, working Supernova, working it all. Unlike Patrice, who, despite wearing a faux mohawk and stomping around still managed to disappear onstage, Dilana looks like she could hold her own. Patrice's problem this week wasn't her performance or her voice. It's that she had T Lee on drums as they did the Chili Peppers' version of "Higher Ground." It's a rare woman who can swallow Tommy, but he managed to swallow Patrice whole simply by being onstage in all his skinny, shirtless glory, banging away on his own set.

Patrice is good, but she just doesn't have the star wattage to hold most people's attention. Also, I'm certain of it now. Patrice is a bitch. And by bitch, I don't mean rebellious, strong, snarling rocker. I mean garden variety bitch. I'm sure she'll survive this week. But I'm also pretty sure that Supernova is taking note of her prime bitchitude and there's no way they're going to want to tour with her. It was hard to discern her bitch factor in the first couple weeks, thanks to her wide-eyed expression and strong voice. But a wide-eyed bitch is still a bitch.

Similarly, an asshole dipped in glitter is still an asshole. It's just that the glitter reflects some light and draws even more attention to the asshole. Thus out came Lukas. Lukas had built a lot of artistic capital with the band, and he blew it all last night in one fell swoop. Because much like glitter being a surface placebo, an affected stumble and mumble don't de-asshole the guy either. He did the same Lukas routine, and it's gotten old. He, apparently, is even sick of it.

It seemed quite the chore for him to get up and perform "Celebrity Skin" so he choose to keep turning his back to the audience. We know he wasn't strung out, cuz he was with it enough to laugh while Zayra performed. He was also cogent enough to look mighty sad when Ryan performed (cuz Ryan kicked ass.) And yet, he just couldn't really walk or sing or do anything other than snarl (in the totally bullshit, poser Lukas way) while he wore his glam red jacket and silver glitter, looking like an Oompa Loompa that'd dipped too heavily into Willie's private liquer candy stash. Also, he was a Mystic Tan mess, all fucking orange and shit. It was funny.

Faring much better than Lukas was Ryan. I've given the David Blaine looking bastard a hard time the past few weeks, but he played piano and sang "Losing My Religion" and he pulled off the illusion of seeming interesting for it. Tommy gave him mad props by saying that performance will get him laid. (Please see last week's column where I told you this whole brouhaha was all subterfuge for getting laid. Many of you thought I was crass and wrong. I wasn't. So fuck off.)

Magni sang Coldplay's "Clocks." Personally, I don't like that song. But Magni's a nice guy with a good voice and not much about him is fake. He missed his baby's first steps so Supernova decided to play fairy godmothers and bring his family over here. Also, it was a nice way of them to show how kissing their ass is worth the perks.

Dana was surprising again. She did The Who's "Baba O'Reilly" and her voice is so good it can carry her through. Her "badass" snarl is an act, but she's only 22. Here's my guess. She won't be the singer for this band. But if she was miraculously picked? All that wealth and star treatment would work its magic to turn her into a genuinely fucked-up person and then she'd be the real deal.

"Santeria" was a strange choice for Josh, who promised to bring the rock. Instead he brought the hip-hop/reggae. But I gotta say, it was really good. Again, it's not gonna work to front Supernova. But it was a good performance and good TV and I give Josh props for sticking to his shit. Like Phil, I think he's in it for personal exposure anyhow. He's just coy enough to not come out and say that, erego, Newsted told him his musicianship is great or whatever.

And that leaves us with Storm. Gone this week were the crazy-eyes and histrionics. Instead, Storm made the other wannabe sex goddesses Jill and Zayra look like fools by showing true sex appeal without being trashy or cliche. Or silly. Looking and sounding like a younger, less jazzy, less smoky Diana Krall, Storm wore a slinky black suit while doing Bowie's "Changes." She's got a good voice, even if it's not particularly distinctive. Put it with her all-American if vanilla face and her killer body, mix in her mature self-awareness, and subtract her previous self-consciousness and that's hot, baby. Hot.

The best and obvious choice to have fronted Supernova would've been Courtney Love. Because she is trashy and now cliche, but she fits what they're looking for and would've often kept eyes off Tommy and on her. But that wouldn't make for a TV series. And I don't think Supernova wants to deal with all that anyhow. But after another week of surprising performances, with Dilana and Storm leading the pack again, and with Lukas stumbling and staggering out of control and Toby tripping on his own dick, it's not inconceivable that they end up picking a chick to front this band.

A couple of them are showing some Rock Star wattage. And by that I don't mean snarling, sex-soaked rebellion. But it's a close enough facsimile in a grounded, well-adjusted way.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Secrets Revealed!

Ellen Meister's novel Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA is officially available today!

To celebrate and kick off, the lovely and talented Myfanwy Collins is hosting a Q&A with Ellen all this week on her blog. Please do stop over there to check it out.

You can find the the book in bookstores everywhere, and it's available online via Amazon and B&N.

About the book:
When a Hollywood location scout comes to Applewood, Long Island, and announces that the local elementary school might make the perfect backdrop for an upcoming George Clooney movie, the PTA's decorum crumbles like a cookie from last week's bake sale.

Enter Maddie, Ruth, and Lisa, three women who become the glue that holds the project together . . . and wind up forging a bond of friendship stronger than anyone could imagine.

A good thing, too, because each one of them is about to come apart. Maddie Schein, an ex-lawyer trying hard to fit in and save her marriage, gets knocked off balance by Jack Rose, an old college friend hell-bent on seducing her. Ruth Moss - rich, sexy, and outspoken - has more to give and less to enjoy than most people think. Indeed, since her husband's stroke left him embarrassingly uninhibited yet completely impotent, she's more of a caretaker than a wife. And modest Lisa Slotnick, a loving parent who wants nothing more than to fade into the scenery as she tends to her children, must deal with the humiliation of being thrust into the spotlight by her scandalous, alcoholic mother.

When these three get together, a powerful alliance is formed. But is it strong enough to overcome the obstacles to getting the movie made in their town? And will their friendship be enough to mend their hearts and homes? Join them as they reach for the stars . . . and try to pull off a Hollywood ending of their own.


Congrats, Ellen!