Thursday, March 29, 2007

Sligh(t) out of hand and a great, just great contest

So Chris Sligh is gone, because some amorphous, indeterminate entities continue to vote for Haley. Fine by me! It was a bit of a bitchslap, because they guy thought he knew the Idol game. And he did know the game, but he was too heavy-handed with it. Though, let's give him his due -- he made it to the top 10 on the basis of a non-threatening voice even though he looked like Porky Pig in hipster glasses and a well-worn Annie wig. Ultimately, though, he tried to play both sides, and that just won't work. You most certainly can be sarcastic and mocking of the proceedings and get away with it, even on AI. But you can't simultaneously ask for love and acceptance by the masses.

His behavior was kind of like if Sid Vicious had puked on people in the audience and then apologized and asked forgiveness for it. No. Sid didn't do that. He'd just vomit and leave it at that. Chris would give a little snark and then prostrate himself before the judges and audience after the fact. It all just made him smarmy.

Naturally, I'm all excited for Tony Bennett next week. We'll see if anyone has the guts to belt out "Rags to Riches" with Carmine Ragusa gusto. Sanjaya's already murdered "Steppin' Out" so maybe he'll take his shot at effeminating the hell out of "For Once In My Life."

Anyhow, because I love Tony so much, I'll run a little contest. Ready for it? Here goes: How many times will Tony say great? Readers here can take a guess at the number. (kind of like "guess the number of jellybeans in the jar" thing.) I'll then keep a careful tally, and whoever comes the closest will win a free, signed copy of any of my books or anthologies. (24/7, Trattoria, Mutual Holdings, Rebellion: New Voices of Fiction, Caramel Flava, Mammoth Best New Erotica 6, or Best American Erotica 2007.) Your pick which one you want. And if anyone nails the exact number, I'll even toss in a little Benedetto bonus.

So drop a comment with your guess here, or e-mail it to me. It'll be great, just great. Really, really great.

And, in the meantime, don't forget to stop by Rebel Press to check out the latest chapters of Don Capone's free, serialized novel Like I've Never Been Born.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Hail, Caesar

HBO's Rome has concluded fittingly, with Octavian ascending to be sole ruler of the empire.

The slight bending of history, with them allowing Caesarion to live, is something I really didn't see coming. But now that it's all passed, it makes perfect sense. According to the series' history, Caesarion wasn't Julius's child, but rather Titus Pullo's.

I still have problems with how the series depicted Octavian, especially once Simon Woods took over the role. But I do give props to James Purefoy's portrayal of Antony. Antony had much in common with Pullo. He was a scoundrel and a lech and let his heart rule his brain. But even in drug-addled, debauched haze he still had style to spare.

Vorenus and Pullo humanized this story, and it was, ultimately, their struggles with fatherhood that so accurately reflected this tumultuous history -- and cultural bias -- of Rome. Vorenus died, with only a bastard son, but ultimately the acceptance of his daughter. Maybe a bit heavy-handed that the one who chose loyalty to Antony died while Octavian's pal survived, but yet another reinforcement of the importance of patrimony at this time.

I'm just glad Pullo survived, in grand Titus Pullo fashion, even getting a reward for supposedly killing the young Caesarion. Seeing him walk down the street with his kid reminded me of a scene from "Terminator 2" when Linda Hamilton waxes philosophical about the terminator and what a great father it'd be for her son, because it would never leave him or hurt him or ignore him. It''d always be there for him. And we know that's the sort of father Pullo will be -- except he'll also be a hell of a lot more fun.

It strikes the right chord, because Rome had finally found a fitting father in Octavian Augustus. After bloody, hard-fought, and well-machinated battles to gain control, he then ended up having the longest and most successful rule of any emperor.

But it's through his mother, Atia, that this series really drove the point home. Much like Rome's modern-day equivalent, "The Sopranos," the producers and writers here clearly understood the importance of the patriarchy on the surface. The men dominate and battle, but without the women often having control, they really wouldn't get anywhere. Certainly, at times the women just fucked the shit up for their men -- such as Vorenus's wife's infidelity, and Gaia knocking off Pullo's pregnant wife, and Cleopatra getting Antony to slay himself first.

From the start, in this series, it wasn't Octavian who hungered for power. It was his mother, Atia. And she'd stop at nothing to have it. Her lust became Octavian's. On the day of his triumph, Atia wavers between forlorn over the death of her lover, Antony, and bitter over her son's use of her as a pawn to defeat Antony. But there's something deeper gnawing at her as her son takes the throne. Unspoken and not even acknowledged, because the thought is so ridiculous in Roman society: Atia should be queen. Cleopatra was queen of Egypt, but the best Atia could achieve in noble ranks was to be either Antony's wife or Octavian's mother. Atia had perfectly aligned, maneuvered, and politicized to put her men where she wanted them. But she could never have ultimate, or public, control. And the coup de gras was the public humiliation she had to endure when her son sent her to play the fool to her former lover.

While Carmela Soprano sublimates her frustration by fiddling around with spec houses and Livia Soprano raged at being placed in a retirement community, Atia is so fucking distraught over the whole turn of events that she doesn't even want the villa in Capri her son has promised her.

And then, she gets to sit there and watch her son consolidate his power and revel in the adoration from the citizens of Rome -- two things she could never have.

Huge props to Polly Walker for knowing when to chew the scenery and when to lay back in this role. It was deliciously written, and she did it justice.

The whole reason Rome founded a republic was because of the intrinsic problems with a monarchy -- unqualified heirs or a lack of heirs. Julius largely banished the republic when he crowned himself dictator for life, but we all know where that got him. But the republic was still in jeopardy, and that's what set off the whole trouble between Antony and Octavian -- they both saw themselves as Caesar's son. But Caesar named Octavian, and he then had to fight for his birthright to be emperor. Augustus knew the importance of heirs, and that's why he did, indeed, have Caesarion murdered. But Octavian himself didn't have a blood heir, so he adopted Tiberius. And after Tiberius, things really fell to shit as the bloodline got all fucked up and Caligula-Claudius-Nero took the throne.

But in HBO's world, that hardly matters. Rome has its father in Octavian. And Pullo has a son. He may be a motherless son, but after all we've just seen -- and knowing Titus Pullo -- that's really all just as well.

Tuesday, Wednesday stay in bed

I don't really know what to say about Idol last night. For me, the highlight was seeing AJ in the audience.

Otherwise? It was sort of a bleh night. Paula was extremely coherent and on the ball. Simon wasn't needling Ryan about being gay. Randy said a few things other than "dawg" and "pitchy."

Gwen? She was okay. She's gorgeous and cool, sure. But she's not exactly a songbird, either. But it was slightly amusing how she didn't run her comments through the usual, requisite amount of aspartame for the cameras. If she thought someone was going to blow, she said so. And they then did blow in exactly the way she predicted!

What else? Oh yeah, Sanjaya had that ridiculous faux-hawk going on. Yeah, he still sort of blows. But he also just doesn't care anymore. He's got the "what the fuck" attitude going on, without being arrogant or bitter about it. So I suspect that'll just endear him to the little girls even more. Who knew, huh? I mean, I did know that so many tween girls watched and voted for Idol. I'd just seriously underestimated the pedophile contingent which I suspect is the other large voting block keeping him alive. Howard Stern listeners and VFTW, you think that's who pushing him along? Howard has an army of listeners, but are they really willing to pick up the phone and vote for Sanjaya every week? I doubt it. They're too busy getting lap dances at that hour. And to hear VFTW tell it, they rocketed Taylor to victory last year. But they didn't save Antonella Barba, did they?

I will tell you this -- I was happy to be watching from my TV at home again, because I don't have HDTV. And let me tell you something, you really don't want to experience the ugly that is Phil Stacey with an HDTV. I was shocked, SHOCKED I tell you, at just how fucking ugly this fellow is when viewed in Hi Def. Now, I know how shallow and nasty it sounds to be talking only about the attractiveness, or lack thereof, of the contestants. But you really have to see this to appreciate it.

Who comes out on the upside of the Hi Def delineator? Jordin. She gets even more beautiful with ultra clarity. Too bad she wore such hideous clothes last night as she song "Hey Baby," a song that grates no matter how much it's been abridged.

LaKisha did alright with the Donna Summer song "Last Dance." Remember how uber-bitch Brenna Gethers mangled that song and it got her booted? LaKisha didn't mangle it, and she had on stunning boots. But though her boots were kicking, her outfit was bloody awful. Also in a terribly ugly ensemble was Melinda. It even looked like she got her thing off the same rack as LaKisha's. But it didn't matter, because she sang "Heaven Knows" and was, again, the best of the night.

Chris Sligh's "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic" kind of sucked, but he'll stay a while longer. Haley. Who the fuck is voting for Haley? She did "True Colors." She's about as colorful as copy paper. Any day now, Dairy Queen could sue her for infringing on their recipe for vanilla. Gina did "I'll Stand By You," and she sounded fine, but I still dislike her. I notice she's losing weight even more rapidly than Kat McPhee did last year, but it won't matter, because she's not one of those overweight chicks that people say "she has such a pretty face, though" about. So when she loses all the weight and is skinny, she'll still be a chick with a slightly above-average voice and a moderately unattractive face and highly unattractive personality.

Blake did "Love Song." Not the Cure's version, of course, but the 311 version from the "50 First Dates" soundtrack. (Which also has The Cure song "Friday, I'm Love" on it. I like the soundtrack when I'm ripped on rum.) He got major props as being the best guy in the competition, which is sort of like if LeBron James would participate in a hockey exhibition and telling him that he's the best basketball player out on the ice. So, whatever.

And, they clearly want to help Chris Richardson out of the bottom two status he had last week, because they gave him the coveted pimp spot to sing "Don't Speak," another annoying as fuck No Doubt song. (I realize that saying any No Doubt song is annoying is about as redundant as feeling the need to clarify that Band-Aids are bandages. But, there are people out there voting for Sanjaya, so I don't take anything for granted anymore.) Chris, his voice really isn't very good. And I think the reason he does so many runs is because doing runs helps cover it when he can't accurately hit or sustain the note he's supposed to. So he just wobbles all over the general vicinity of the note and hopes it sounds "artistic" or "soulful." But Gwen called him on it and he tried to do a little less of it with some pretty poor results.

if this were three weeks ago, this situation would give me great glee. But know what? He's grown on me. For real. I don't mind the little camera-fucker now. His brand of camera-fucking is much closer to mugging and cheesing as opposed to arrogant preening, so it's totally tolerable.

Well. I'm jet-lagged, so I didn't really have a theme or point with this week's blatherings, so I don't really have a line to wrap this all up. So I guess we'll just see who gets kicked off tonight and take it from there, hmm?

Oh! Also? Do you watch "Dancing With The Stars?" If not, you should. It really is better than "Idol" this year. Bruno Tonioli is still delicious and adorable. The dancing is really good, the band is way better than Ricky Minor's, and the costumes are so much more glittery and flesh-revealing.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Vegas Book Tour -- week two

My book is still in Vegas. People say that 2 weeks is too long to spend in Vegas, but if you know my book, you know that it adapts to the rhythms of the city and manages to not just survive, but flourish.

This is my book indulging its rapidly escalating alcohol dependency during the day. It enjoyed the company of a charming bartender.

This is my book testing its luck at the slots while in the throes of the aforementioned afternoon bender. (the book's owner may or may not have also been indulging, hence the blurriness of the photo.)

This is my book after having lost all its accumulated royalties in the slots. For ten days now it has been surrounded by books with fewer pages, which makes them thinner. It has seen books that have much more appealing covers; some even with fancy dust jackets. The other books earn bigger royalties. The other books have less content inside, but boast impeccable punctuation. My book drowns its sorrows.

But Lady Luck can change in an instant in Vegas! The aforementioned charming bartender, who is surrounded by the thinner, more attractively covered, and wealthier books every day, still seemed interested in my book. My book, as is its nature, reciprocated his advances. 'Tis true -- the lady is a tramp!

The next morning, my book paid the price for confronting its crisis of esteem with liquor and sex.

A small price to pay, really. At least it hasn't been dogeared or left behind in a taxi.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Vegas Book Tour

You may be wondering what I'm doing that's so important that it's keeping me away from my beloved Idol bitching/commentary. I'm not exactly on a traditional book tour, but my book has been having a lovely time touring Las Vegas.

Here's my book catching some sun at the pool.

Here's my book enjoying the lovely daytime view of the strip.

And here's my book taking a nap in a fabulously comfy bed to prepare for a long night of partying at a trendy ultra-lounge.

My book wishes you were here.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Be back soon

I'm off to enjoy the hoops-la of March Madness from Vegas. I like Durant and Texas quite a bit, though I think their coach is kind of dumb. Have a good start to spring, and I'm sure there'll be some good gossip and new AI scandals when I get back. (Though, I think they may have finally hit the nadir with this one.)

Monday, March 12, 2007

Rebel Press to serialize novel online—FOR FREE!

Just announced from Rebel Press and Don Capone:

I am now hard at work on my third novel, nearing the finish of the first draft. My first novel, the comedy Into the Sunset, is currently making the agent rounds. Meanwhile, I’ve decided to serialize my second novel Like I've Never Been Born online—FOR FREE—with a new chapter posted twice a week on Rebel Press’s web site.

Giving his hard work away, you're thinking? Is he crazy? Yes, and yes. Hey, it's not doing anyone any good sitting on my hard drive. Plus, there are other reasons, which I’ll mention shortly.

First though, here is a quick synopsis of the book:
Early December, 1980. Angela Girardi, a nineteen-year old college student, travels from her upstate New York college to Manhattan to seek out her (and her mother’s) idol John Lennon. She is determined to hand-deliver her mother’s unopened suicide note, which had been addressed to John. Angela wants to honor her mother and accomplish this last task for her; only then will Angela allow herself to grieve, move on with her life, and figure out her uncertain future. But circumstances on the night of December 8th change the course of her life forever.

I started work on the novel in December 2004. Between June 11, 2005, and July 29, 2005 I sent out thirteen query letters to various literary agents. I received seven rejections; six are still pending. Then on November 4, 2005, I read an announcement online about an indie film being made called Chapter 27, starring Jared Leto, which included this info:

Lindsay now set to star opposite Jared Leto in Chapter 27, an indie film centering on the 1980 murder of John Lennon. Lohan will play a devoted fan of the former Beatle who befriends Lennon's killer, Mark David Chapman (Leto), shortly before the murder in New York 25 years ago.

Oh, fuck, I thought. My lead character, too, encounters Chapman several times. Either I'd been ripped off, or someone had the same idea as I did. I know it's not uncommon for people to get similar ideas at similar times. After a cooling off period, I realized it most probably was just coincidence. (I haven't seen the movie yet, as it doesn't have a distributor.) But the similarities made me feel like I couldn’t get the book agented or published since it would appear I’d just rewritten an existing story. It killed the book for me, and I last worked on it in December 2005. Though a few fellow writers read the manuscript and critiqued it, it never finished the editorial process. Under normal circumstances, I’d give it another round of revisions.

So, that is reason one for serializing the book. Reason two is that I use Lennon's lyrics throughout, as they are essential to the story. I know that obtaining the rights to so many lyrics would be a huge obstacle to publishing the book in the traditional formats. So I'm giving it away—I won't make one cent from it.

Look for updates every Monday and Friday. There are 30 chapters in all (that’s 15 weeks!). Thank you and enjoy!
Donald Capone

To read the first chapter, go to:
Like I've Never Been Born

To offer feedback, or to leave comments, visit
Capone’s Hit List
or email me

Saturday, March 10, 2007

We Are Awake

"We Are Awake" is a great story in 3AM by Myfanwy Collins.

Ellen Meister's "Name A Freaking Character" contest

Ellen Meister has a fun new promotion going on. It's called the "I Want A Freaking Character Named After Me!" Drawing.

It'll be a piece of cake to enter for anyone who's read her sexy, hilarious debut novel, Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA.

Full details available at her site, but here are the rules:

1) Send an email to her at "win AT"

2) In the subject line, type in Maddie's favorite multi-syllable curse

3) In the body of the email, type in your name as you'd like it to appear in her next book

That's it! After May 31, 2007, all entries with the correct curse phrase will be entered into a drawing. One lucky winner will get a character named for them in her next novel.

Friday, March 09, 2007


Thanks to a confluence of events, I didn't catch the elimination show last night, nor did my Tivo grab it. This makes me really sad, because I can't imagine a better show for the rest of the year. Both Antonella and Sundance getting the boot? I can only imagine the tears.

I can't imagine what the stupid voters were thinking. FaFuTwo is gone. The princess bitch is gone. How the fuck are you supposed to operate an interesting contest without them? You don't vote off the villain so early!

People will argue that they sucked and deserved to go so that better singers had a chance. Fucking -- WHY? We all know that Lakisha, Melinda, Blake, and Sligh will be in the top six, with a couple other sub-par stragglers. Why do we have to drag other, slighty better but still not star-worthy mediocre morons along when they won't give us half the entertainment value? And now, getting to the point of the top 6 -- or even 2 -- will be monotonous. Monotonous in the boringness of the badness.

We needed to keep around the truly sucktacular for entertainment, people. I'll never understand people who don't grasp the fundamentals of what entertains them. You can't have Batman without The Joker, you can't have any pudding if you don't eat your meat, and you can't have American Idol without American Assholes!

Also? I'm way bitter because I missed my last chance to see Antonella's hot dad. Was he there? Someone tell me if he was there.

Oh, I'm sure I'll still watch and comment, but I'll be away enjoying the glory that is March Madness for the next couple weeks. So if I miss anything spectacular, won't you let me know? Thanks.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

It's Not Me, It's Them

I was having trouble getting into this season of Idol, and for a while, I thought the problem was me. Like a jilted lover now on the rebound, maybe I was ready to window shop, but not quite buy. The merchandise all seemed okay at first glance, but nothing really caught my eye. Though I was loathe to admit it, maybe I was still harboring a deep crush on wallet chains, whispered boob jobs, bad teeth, and epileptic seizures. Though I rarely dared to invoke their names -- which fits quite nicely with the official theme of AI this season -- Taylor WHO? -- all their affectations still had my affections.

But last night puts that sad, forlorn theory to rest. Truly, it's not me. It's them. They suck. I can't fall in love, or even in like, with any of these himbos because they're crappy and boring.

Okay, okay, Blake is fine. I dig him doing the "All Mixed Up" and flashing his tats and beat boxing to some reggae and trotting his fine ass around the stage. Blake can stay.

AJ rates Blake's performance the best of the night.

Chris Sligh, he can sing. He's definitely got a proclivity for really crappy songs and he's already tenderized his previously slightly spiky personality more effectively than Bobby Flay going at a flank steak with a metal hammer. Just pounded himself down into a mushy, floppy mess. But there's always hope that we can season him up with some pepper and barbeque sauce and get him all fired up once he gets back on the grill of the big stage again. (see that? A barbeque metaphor. Although I'm talking of Sligh, it makes you think of Taylor eating ribs, doesn't it? He's never mentioned, but he's never quite out of mind.)

The judges? They said four guys deserve to go to the finals. Fucking -- WHO? Sundance with his crappy faux-hawk coming out and desecrating Pear Jam's "Jeremy," singing about a little "punk" to please the censors? What the fuck, Eddie Vedder? WHY? Why did you allow that to happen?

Who do you want to see in the final 12? Vaguely creepy Phil Stacy? Hula dancing Sanjaya? Self-loving Chris Richardson? Still boring Brandon? Or even more boring Jared? I'm telling you -- they suck. They suck intensely because they're even lacking the ability to sink to a level of suckage that's laughable. They're just like intravenous Ambien in their middling suckitude. I hate them. I hate them all. But it's not even a burning, resentful hatred. It's just a mildly disgusted, waste of my time hatred. It's kind of like I started dating a rebound guy and he's not abusive or even rude and there's nothing specifically wrong with him, but there's just not a single thing right about him either. The relationship isn't going anywhere, but rules of etiquette dictate that I have to drag him along for so long or wait for him to fuck up before I can dump him. It's just exhausting in its boringness.

And it's when you're in this restless kind of state that all your exes suddenly seem so much more appealing. I admit it -- right now, I'd consider the TV equivalent of a late-night booty call with Constantine Maroulis heaven.

In other words -- it's time, FOX. It's time for the All-Star American Idol where we trot out the losers and give them another shot.

Heaven's sake -- you could even appease Frenchie that way! Oh yeah, bring her back! I'm all for the love there.

Because that is how I'm getting my few kicks these days -- from swinging with the ladies. I'm not particularly attracted to any of them, but I can't resist the smutty, snakey vibe of Antonella. Thank God for Antonella. Now THAT'S how you do bad, boys. She's elevated suck to a new level this year. Shitty performances, whiffs of entitled, bratty behavior, scandalous photos, and now a whole fucking race riot is brewing! She's already earned her spot in the All-Stars reunion show. I'll watch and be happy -- as long as she brings her hot father with her.

How sad is that state of affairs? 16 potential "stars" taking the stage this week and the only person who trips my triggers is in the audience.

After a breakup, someone's supposed to hand you the tired platitude that there are a lot of fish in the sea. Now, we know that's just not true anymore. But are you telling me that Sundance and Sanjaya are the quality we're supposed to aim for?

AJ would not be happy. This show last night -- and the general state of men this year -- gets the lowest AJ rating.

(AJ is still polite, so he at least applauds politely, but the look of lethargic apathy is evident.)

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Guest blogger?

Anyone out there want to blog an American Idol recap on here for a week or possibly two? The pay is zero dollars, and the audience is probably about 20 people, but if you've ever wanted to tell me to shut up and recap an episode yourself, I think that'd be sort of cool. You can either drop me a line by e-mail (susandiplacido at or leave a message here in the comments and I'll get back to you.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Ellen & Myfanwy

I just found these lovely reading experiences:

Myfanwy Collins has a great story up at juked.

And Ellen Meister has a quickie interview up at Trashionista.

I'm starting to implement my new rating system for everything, and both the story and review rate an AJ Tabaldo certified "Fabulous. Two arms up!"

America Hates Nina Simone?

Well I think the results show last night made it very clear. Americans have very suspect talent when it comes to voting. Hanging chads, malfunctioning machines, teens with superfly text capabilities or just plain old bad choices, we as a nation have a lot of trouble getting these things right.

But one thing is sure, we really don't like that Nina Simone song "Feeling Good." It swallowed up two contestants last night (AJ and Leslie). And on top of it, we also clearly voted against dimples (Nick and Leslie), in tune singing (AJ, Nick, Leslie), and last but certainly not least -- fabulousness.

We did get to see Kellie Pickler again, along with the cantaloupe that valiantly gave its life to be cut in half and sewn into her chest so that she could more closely resemble Dolly Parton circa 1985.

It was somewhat entertaining when Ryan questioned her about her recent purchases and she answered him without a lick of guile, "Shoes."

But then it was on to the ugly business of the evening, where Nick got the axe. I'm sad because I'd kinda liked Nick, but also because I thought he had a striking resemblance to Robert Downey, Jr. and I was looking forward to making some cracks about that in the future.

Can't you see it? Now picture Nick this morning -- all strung out and sad and after a drinking a binge to drown his sorrows. Alas, kiss kiss, bang bang, your shot at fame just ended, Nick.

Then Alaina was voted off. I don't care about her and thought she deserved to go so I'm not going to make a stink about it or post a farewell picture. She was still snotty as Ryan read back Simon's comments about her, and I did have a small pang of regret that she was leaving, because though I'd have hated listening to her sing again, I would have enjoyed it if she'd gotten more aggressively bitchy each week. But I'm still pretty confident that we have Toni to fill the entitled bitch slot, so it's all good.

Then, of course, Ryan made a big show of calling AJ Tabaldo and the suckfest known as Sanjaya up to the middle of the stage to boot one of them, and we all immediately knew it was AJ who'd go, because creepy, self-conscious whispering in a brunette Farrah wig is clearly what appeals to pre-teen girls. Fuck, man. AJ kept his composure and class when Ryan tried to make him look like an asshole by asking him if he was surprised he was going instead of Sanjaya. AJ was really sad, but he said, "No, he's great," and gave Sanjaya a pat on the back. And then he took the mic and gave us the last dose of fabulousness we'll see this year.

Oh AJ. Like an adult version of Ugly Betty's Justin, you're just too cool for this anyhow. You may be off the show, and heartbroken today, but something tells me that your fire to perform won't be extinguished. That's right -- you'll flame on!

I'm not even going to bother writing the long-ass, boring diatribe about gayness and this show. Instead, I'll do something positive and will be implementing a fabulous new rating system, so do check back for that.

Anyhow, after AJ sang the hell out of "Feeling Good," they then booted off Leslie, who had also sung that song. There was a whole production where Ryan called down Antonella and Jordin and Leslie, and it was very clear that Leslie knew she was the one going. Frankly, back on the first show, if you saw Leslie's package, you could see that she knew she was cannon fodder.

I admire her for how she handled the whole thing. Alaina got bitchy about it and let the nerves strangle her performances. Whereas Leslie reminded me of a line from Lt. Speirs in "Band of Brothers" when he was trying to calm down another soldier. He told him that he was scared because he hadn't yet accepted that he was dead. Once he accepted that fact, he'd be able to fight like a soldier has to. Leslie clearly accepted that she was a lame-duck in this competition. But she came out and sang and gave it her very best shot anyhow.

She was quirky and her voice was different and so were her musical tastes. And that's what got her kicked off. Also? She just wasn't loud enough.

So it was a depressing night. But there were a couple of high points. The smaller one was seeing Antonella's totally shocked reaction when she thought she was being booted. SHOCKED, I tell you, SHOCKED. It made me so glad that we decided to keep her ass around a little while longer. (but she better bring her hot dad back)

The second highlight was how Sundance's mockability factor skyrocketed as the night progressed. Did you see all the cutaway shots of him crying as each person got booted? I gave him a pass when he got all weepy talking about his baby the other night, but now he's just gone too far.

He's like Demi Moore in "Ghost" with the constant freefalling tears. Nick, Alaina, and AJ all caused him to mist up and do the deep-breathing thing before it got out of control.

I wonder if Chris Sligh saw any of this, and if he nodded along, knowing that Hasselhoff would be proud.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Loud Is Not the New Good

Somewhere along the way in the history of American Idol, loud became synonymous with good. When I'm listening to The Rollins Band or The Who, I couldn't agree more with that assessment. When I'm supposedly listening to a pop singer, I disagree.

So, that said, I thought the girls pretty much sucked last night. Admittedly, I was a bit tired and cranky, so my mood could've affected my enjoyment, but good music can always turn my mood around, but nothing did.

Leslie was alright singing some Nina Simone. I actually like her husky voice and think she's refreshingly different. But her brand of "different" is also easily conflated with geeky, so she doesn't get many judge props and I don't think the majority of the audience will connect with her.

Lakisha was darn good again. She did manage to turn the volume down a bit for the start of "Midnight Train to Georgia." But I have heard better versions, particularly the duet between Sandra Bernhard and Debra Messing on "Will & Grace." But I like Lakisha and liked that she did something different. Plus, I enjoyed watching Simon totally contradict himself again when he told her that she needs to get the attitude of a star, and then told Melinda that he likes her because she doesn't have the attitude of a star. But as funny as it is to laugh at his seeming nonsense, I understood exactly what he meant. And I agree. Which probably means I've been watching way too much of this show.

However, I'm not drinking the Kool Aid and going along with the verbal ass-kissing of Melinda for her performance of "My Funny Valentine." Loud is not the new good. And I get particularly spiky when someone fucks up a perfectly lovely standard, and that's exactly what Melinda did. "My Funny Valentine" is a soft, smoky number. The benchmark version is commonly considered to be Chet Baker's -- where instead of playing horn he sang. It's a serene and sexy version, and though it's the most well-known, it was hardly groundbreaking. The sublime Sarah Vaughn had a lovely version, too. Lovely, because she sang instead of shouted.

I don't mind when someone puts a new twist or spin on an old standard. But just because the volume is turned up doesn't mean it's "updated" or differently "arranged." I like Melinda. I like Melinda an awful lot more after seeing her dedication package last night. Unlike a lot of grandmother-pimps, Melinda's package didn't have a whiff of pandering pretense to it. And she's so likable she can get away with comparing herself to Oprah and telling us that she has a personal stylist and still not seem spoiled or pampered. But then she shouted that song and pissed me off. Maybe next week, Melinda.

Speaking of spoiled and pampered, how snotty did Antonella come off when the judges ripped her? Chris Sligh at least tried to get witty with it. She just came off as an entitled, Italian princess. Especially because she sucked more than those psuedo-porn pics depicted. Has she been fawned over so much her entire life that she's lost the ability and perspective to acknowledge it when she's not teh awesome? Trying to throw it back in Simon's face that he was wrong about Jennifer Hudson? I was glad to see him shove that back out there and clear the air. Believe me, I don't always agree with Simon, but if I recall correctly, he mostly ripped on Hudson for dressing poorly, not for singing badly. (And her trend of dressing badly continued as she walked the red carpet at the Oscars in a martian jacket and frump-ass dress that's made everyone's worst-dressed list.)

Antonella's vibrato-laden singing is the listening equivalent to looking at a butterfly with hiccups -- it's pretty and colorful but it's also random and nervously all over the place. I don't dislike her for the sleazy pictures. If anything, it makes me like her more. But the fact that they didn't give me any laughs by trying to address it on the show makes me feel cheated. Worse, her hot, Johnny-Jersey, guinea-gangster father wasn't in the audience. I won't tolerate her every week if she doesn't have Henry Hill slow-clapping her from the audience.

Also bitchy when hearing the judges politely tell her that she sucked was Alaina. And she did suck. I don't think her pretty will pull her out this week.

Jordin, she was okay if out of tune somewhat. Gina was okay doing "Alone." Again, with the loud business. Simon tried telling her that she's loud, but not as loud as the loudest. I still don't like her. And tipping the loud scale into screechy was Sabrina. I do like Sabrina, and I do think she can sing instead of shriek when she chooses. She got the coveted final spot this week, so I hope she uses the good fortune to sing next week. Stephanie didn't shout, but she still bores me, even though she looked gorgeous.

And -- that's only nine, so I'm forgetting one of the ten little Indians. Oh yeah, Haley. Now I remember. She did that Whitney tune. She's pretty and she cried at the criticism. But I have a feeling that if I had trouble remembering her, she's likely gone tonight. Not because she was bad, mind you. But possibly because she just wasn't loud enough to be heard above all the other roaring going on.