Sunday, February 27, 2011

The 2011 Oscar Running Diary

Well, let's get it on, shall we!  Its time for our annual running diary of the Academy Awards.  I'm here in the recliner, laptop open, keyboard in lap, while The Lovely Steph Leann is over on the couch, snuggled up in a Snuggie, ready to go. 

She has been out a bridal shower in East Podunk, Alabama, so when the sat down, the first thing she saw while watching the Red Carpet special was Robert Downey Jr, and the first thing she said was, "Oh no!  He's wearing a navy blue suit?  Really?  Robert!"

Its time.

732p... a quick recap of the best picture nominees with some of the classic lines from the last year... "If you guys were the inventors of Facebook, you'd have invented Facebook." 

732p... we open with a classic parody of nominated movies, this time involving Oscar hosts James Franco and Anne Hathaway, with an appearance by Alec Baldwin, first intersparsing themselves in Inception, then with The Social Network and then The Fighter.  They appear on a horse in a clip of True Grit (James Franco tells Jeff Bridges, as Rooster Cogburn, "Hey, I loved you in TRON!").

735p... Morgan Freeman and his voice!  More Alec Baldwin!  And James and Anne are in the Back to the Future DeLorean!  This is a fun little opening...

739p... James and Anne, who looks AB-SO-LUTE-LEE GOR-GEE-US by the way, hit the stage.  She even tells James, "You look very appealing... to a younger demographic..."   They banter back and forth, even talking to Anne's mom, and James' mom and grandma, who smiles and says, "I... just saw... Marky Mark..." 

Its common knowledge that Mark Wahlberg hates the Marky Mark reference, but he seems to go along with it with a smile, if not a smirk.

Tonight, they are going to be looking back at some great Oscar winners from the last century, and they kick this off with Gone with the Wind.  The Lovely Steph Leann absolutely loves this movie, all seven hours of it.

742p... Tom Hanks comes out, and discusses Gone With the Wind's awards in 1939.  And he also discusses those films who have previously won Art Direction and Cinematography, and says the last movie to win these two, plus Best Picture, was my 9th favorite film of all time, Titanic. 

Art Direction prize goes to "Alice in Wonderland".  Crap.  I'm 0-1 already.  I tell The Lovely Steph Leann that I picked "The King's Speech" and she says, "Really?  Kings Speech?   Hmmm..."

746p... Tom Hanks now introduces Cinematography, and the Oscar goes to, "Inception".  And again, I picked "The King's Speech".  I'm 0-2.  The Lovely Steph Leann just laughs.  She didn't pick the winners, she is just laughing at me.

750p... Commercial break.  I say, "Well, those goes my attempt at going 24-0.  I'm Oh for 2 right now."  She laughs, hard. 

751p... James and Anne greet us after the break, and introduce Kirk Douglas, who comes out with a cane, and gets an immediate standing ovation.  I have been watching Kirk Douglas movies since I was like, 3 years old, no joke.  He's struggling to talk, with the effects of a few strokes.  He tells James Franco, "You look much better out of the cave... and Anne Hathaway... SHE'S GORGEOUS!!  Where were you when I was making pictures?!"

752p... Kirk Douglas is doing the Supporting Actress Award... usually, last year's Supporting Actor gives out this years Supporting Actress, and vice versa, and the same with Actor/Actress.  I am wondering if they are letting screen legends do the acting awards?  That would be cool.

754p... So, the guy is just standing there with the golden envelope, while Kirk Douglas ribs Colin Firth and Hugh Jackman in the audience, and he opens the envelope and holds the winner in his hands, and just keeps talking.   We are cracking up here.

757p... The Oscar goes to Melissa Leo for The Fighter.  Now its a race to see how many in a row I can lose.   Standing next to Melissa Leo, Kirk Douglas says, "You are much more beautiful than you looked in The Fighter".   She starts stammering, and The Lovely Steph Leann whispers, "Get it together, dear, you don't have much time..."  She manages to even drop the F-bomb...

Mila on tonight's Red Carpet
8p... Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake come out together, and Mila Kunis might be the hottest dressed one here tonight.  They are doing the Best Animated Feature, and Best Animated Short... finally, at least I'll get one right!   For Best Animated Short, the winner is The Lost Thing.  Yay, 0-4. 

805p... And here's the Biggest Lock of the Night.  Toy Story 3.  When Mila makes the nominee announcement for Toy Story 3, the audience gives a huge applause.  Toy Story 3 wins.  Finally, I get on the board... 1-4.

812p... Anne meets us from the break, and tells us about the very first Academy Awards in 1929, happening at The Roosevelt Hotel, across from the Oscars current location, the Kodak Theater.

813p... Josh Brolin and Javier Bardem comes out together, to give the Adapted and Original Screenplay awards.  They also are dressed almost exactly alike.  Not a great look.  My picks for Adapted are The Social Network and The Kings Speech for Original.

814p... And the Oscar goes to... Aaron Sorkin for The Social Network!  I got 2 right!   Aaron comes up and gives a pleasant speech, and its based on a book called "The Accidental Billionaires".  I've got 2 credits built up on, think I'll use one of them on this.   The orchestra starts to play, but doesn't play him off, because he keeps talking.

816p... Now, its Original Screenplay, and I went with The King's Speech.  Josh and Javier, the White Tux Twins, gives the Oscar to The Kings Speech.  I lost four in a row, but have now won three straight!! 

818p... David Seidler, who wrote The King's Speech, is probably in his 70s, and starts his speech with, "My father always said... I'll be a late bloomer..."  The audience, and us, laugh heartily.   The gave Kirk Douglas as much time as he wanted, because he's Kirk Douglas, but now they are having to play catch-up by rushing winning speeches.

823p... Anne, still smoldering, even though she's in a tux, is back from break.   She begins singing a version of "On My Own" (for Les Mis) calling out Hugh Jackman for standing her up for a duet she was supposed to sing.   James Franco comes out in a pink dress, blond wig and horrible lipstick, saying, "You wore a tux, I wore this.  Weird part is, I just got a message from Charlie Sheen..."

825p... Russell Brand and Helen Mirren, the most attractive 93 year old on Earth, come out together now.  Helen speaks French, Russell incorrectly "translates".  They are here to give Best Movie By a Dang Fer-ah-ner.  The winner is "In a Better World".  There goes my winning streak, and I'm 3-5 for the night.  The chick director is doing her best English, though I'm wondering how long they will let her talk before you hear the music... and there it is...

829p... And Ashley Judd Club member Reese Witherspoon comes out, looking so classy and awesome.  And she's here for the Best Supporting Actor.   I'll take Reese over Mo'nique (last years Supporting Actress winner) any day of the week, and fourteen times on Sunday.  And Monday.  And Wednesday.

Unshaved Christian Bale and his wife
830p... Unshaven Christian Bale is not a pleasant sight. 

830p... And the Oscar goes to Unshaven Christian Bale.  And his hair doesn't match his beard.  We might be 2 for 2 on F-Bombs from The Fighter tonight!

831p... How weird is it to hear Christian Bale speak in his native British tongue?  No joke. 

834p... So Christian looks over and acknowledges his wife, then stammers without saying her name.  The Lovely Steph Leann thinks Bale got choked up, but I think that Christian Bale just forgot his wife's name.  Seriously?

837p... Okay, so he just got choked up.  He teared up when talking about his daughter, choked up when discussing his wife, and plugged Dicky's website (the guy the his character was based on)  Fine, it was a good speech.

Bathroom break needed for both of us.  Show is on pause via DVR.   We are about 4.5 minutes behind... we'll catch up at the commercial break

843p... Here comes... well, I don't recognize them, but does it matter?  I dunno.  Its a little speech recognizing the marriage between ABC and The Academy Awards.   Shameless self promotions.

844p... Anne is out again, looking like... well, that dress is awkward.  Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman come out to award the award for Score.  We get a Sound history lesson, and an orchestra appears to play some of the more memorable scores from film.   I went with "The Social Network" on this.

847p... The winner is... Trent Reznor for "The Social Network".  Who da thunk five years ago that Nine Inch Nails would win an Oscar?  I loved Inception's score more, but I can deal with "Network".  I'm 5-5 for the night!  I'm coming back!

849p... Here comes the award for Sound Mixing and Sound Editing, with me picking Inception for both.  Seems like they would go hand in hand.   Here comes the very attractive Scarlett Johansson and the not so attractive Matthew McConaughey to give the awards... the winner of Mixing?  Inception.  The winner of Editing?  Inception?  Ha!  Seven wins for me! 

852p... I think to over/under for Christopher Nolan being thanked tonight is somewhere around 4,300.

856p... Back from break, Anne and James are introducing Marisa Tomei.  James Franco has a squinting problem.

856p... Marisa Tomei is in my All Time Most Beautiful Actresses Like, Ever Hall of Fame.  I love love love love love love Marisa Tomei.  She's telling us the tech awards that aren't shown on this broadcast.   James Franco says, "Congrats, nerds!"

858p... Every time I think Cate Blanchett is beautiful, she shows up not being so.  Tonight?  She's beautiful.  She tells us about Lord of the Rings, winner of the makeup award.  For makeup, its Rick Baker who has like, 87 Oscars.  Make it 88, and I got an 8th win tonight.   Daddy's on a roll, baby cakes!

859p... The Lovely Steph Leann likes to pick and choose the catagories she wants to predict, and out of the three she has picked, she's 3-0.  Of course, she picked Toy Story 3, which was as big of a lock as any award in history.  Which means she picked Alice in Wonderland for Costume Design, and that means its going to win.

901p... And the Oscar goes to?  Not True Grit, my pick, now making me 8-6 on the night.  Its Alice.

902p... The chick who won is reading her speech.  When was the last time anyone actually read their speech?   She gets to the bottom of the page as the orchestra plays her offstage. 

903p... Favorite movie song?  Wow... "I've Had the Time Of My Life"... "Beauty and the Beast"... "How Do You Know" from Enchanted... "Against All Odds"... and He Who Must Not Be Re-Elected is onscreen, telling us "Time Goes By"?  What?  Random.

905p... Kevin Spacey is out to introduce the songs that are nominated... first is Randy Newman, who has his 20th nomination this year.  He's doing "We Belong Together" from Toy Story 3.  Next is Mandy Moore and Zach Levi to do "I See The Light" from Tangled... Zach Levi is a Christ Follower, by the way? 

907p... Mandy Moore is stunning, but Anne has her beat tonight.  (in fairness, Reese tops them both, Mila Kunis in that dress beats all three, and Amy Adams, whom I'm in love with, tops them all).  Zach Levi looks like a welfare Ben Affleck.  

909p... Commercial break!   Want to see an incredible Oscar song performance?  Click here.

911p... James Franco introduce Jake Gyllenhaal and Amy Adams, whom I'm in love with, and the are out to award Documentary Short Film.   Jake says it best in saying, "Shorts are also the hardest things to pick on your Oscar ballot... so see the shorts, and you might be a winner."   The Lovely Steph Leann isn't picking this catagory, by the way.   I chose "Killing in the Name", and the winner is "Strangers No More".  I'm 8-7 so far. 

912p... And now Best Live Action Short Film.  My pick was "God of Love" and WOO-HOO!  I picked that one!  Yeah!  I'm back!

Luke Matheny and his fro in a pre-Oscar photo op
916p... Luke Matheny is giving the speech for the win, looks about 7 feet tall and has a fro the size of Red Robin.  Awesome.  He races through the thank-yous, including his mom, who did craft services for the film.  Awesome speech. 

917p... James and Anne are back, and there's a sight gag on movies that aren't musicals that they parody into musicals... including "Harry Potter", "Toy Story 3" and Timberlake on "The Social Network".  This little montage should win Best Editing.   The Twilight spot is called "He Doesn't Own a Shirt", featuring Taylor Lautner.  That was funny.

919p... The next presenter?  Oprah.  Who's network is really struggling, by the way.   The Lovely Steph Leann says, "Oprah looks like she's putting on weight", and I respond, "Doesn't she always?"

920p... Oprah is giving out The Best Documentary of the Year award.  No news on whether Algore has given back the one he won for An Inconvenient Truth, which turned out be A Big Fat Piece of Crap.   The Oscar goes to?  Inside Job.  I picked Restrepo.  Apparently, Inside Job is about the banking and housing collapse, so had I known that, I would have gone with it.  These are the same people who won for the anti-Iraqi doc "No End in Sight".  And the speech bascially starts out with, "Rich people suck."

926p... Anne is back, looking all awesome and good looking, and she introduces former Oscar host--someone who did it best for years--Billy Crystal.  He even gets a standing ovation.  "The producers asked me to tell you that we are running long... so here's the nominees for Best Picture..."

928p... Its a look back at the first televised Oscars, with Bob Hope hosting it 18 times.  Billy Crystal has been out for 30 seconds, and he's the funniest thing tonight not named Kirk Douglas.   So now, we take a look back at the 25th Annual Academy Awards, hosted by Bob Hope.  Bob says, "The Academy Awards, or as its known at my house, Passover."  Its a hologram of Bob on the real Oscar podium, introducing what else...

931p... Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law come out to do Visual Effects.  Token shot at RDJ's ho filled past by Jude Law, mildly funny banter, and to the nominees we go!  I went with Inception... and the winner is... Inception.  During the clip, they showed the hallway fight scene, and the big tunnel made to do that scene--you can't show that and then not give Inception the award.  Its a techie sweep!  And I get my 10th win!  And... I still have 8 losses.  Boo.

934p... Film Editing is the next award.  I chose The Social Network, and the winner is... Facebook!  11-8!

937p... S'Ray just texted me the following:  The dress that the escort taking people off stage was
designed by Borris Powell... my high school drum major from the little town of Piedmont, Alabama.

940p... I asked "Is he a fashionista now?" and he replies, "He was on the red carpet tonight and reported that Valentino loved his design."  So, there ya go.

940p... James and Anne are back... Anne is ravishing in red.  James makes some innuendo jokes on movie titles (Winter's Bone?) and they introduce Jennifer Hudson, who then introduces the final two songs nominated for Best Song.  First is "If I Rise" from "127 Hours". 

942p... I am now going to sing the first part of "If I Rise"... "fa la wa wa la wa wa... fla wa lo lo la la..."

943p... Here's Gwynth Paltrow to sing her song from "Country Strong", the one I picked to win the award.   And the winner is?  The one I didn't think would get it, Randy Newman's "We Belong Together" from Toy Story 3.  I'm 11-9 on the night, and The Lovely Steph Leann is irritated that the Tangled song didn't win.

948p... Twenty noms, only his 2nd win.  That's kinda wrong.

949p... The Lovely Steph Leann is still railing against Tangled's loss.

951p... Just saw on Facebook... Discussing the chick who sang the song from "127 Hours", Amarylis By Morning (up from san antone) says, "I want Florence from Florence and the Machine to go to Melissa Clark and get a new hairstyle.."

952p... Celine Dion brings us back from break, and its the In Memorium montage.  Celine Dion looks like she's 54, trying desperately to look 34.   So far, no applause for anyone yet, even though they showed Tony Curtis already. 

Corey Haim.  December 23, 1971 to
March 10th, 2010.  Rest in Peace, Lost
Boy, Rest in Peace.
953p... With no applause for Leslie Nielsen, I am now guessing they have the Applause-o-Meter turned off.  There's no way Leslie doesn't get a round of clapping.   Don't know who Susanna York is, but she had bad teeth.  Hope that didn't contribute to her death...

955p... My guess would be that Dennis Hopper and Blake Edwards would get the biggest round of applause for the night, but no clapping until the very end.  Out comes Halle Berry to tell us about Lena Horne, who died this past year.  She gets a good tribute, and we fade to commercial...

958p... No Corey Haim.  That's tragic.

1001p... The show is officially running long.  Anne Hathaway is in a deep blue silky looking gown.  She introduces Hillary Swank, who is a... gulp... two time (!) Academy Award winner!

1002p... Last year's Best Director, Kathyrn Bigalow, who won for "The Hurt Locker", is out to give away Best Director.   The Oscar goes to... Tom Hooper, for "The King's Speech".  This now seals Speech as Best Picture, if you ask me.  I picked Fincher for "The Social Network", so now I'm 11 wins, 10 losses.  Forget beating my all time record, I'll be lucky to finish above 500...

1005p... James looks like he's on drugs.  He brings out Annette Bening.  She tells us about The Governor's Awards, which is a Lifetime Achievement ceremony for legendary Hollywoodians.  Eli Wallach is one shown given an award, as is Frances Ford Coppola.  I personally like doing a special tribute to someone on the actual show itself, though they do bring out Eli, Frances and another honoree to the stage.  They get standing ovations, of course.

1011p... James and Anne introduce Jeff Bridges to give Best Actress.  The show is in full "We are behind!" mode, so things are speeding up.   He mentions Annette Bening's nomination... as much as I hated "The Kids are All Right", I think Julianne Moore was ten times better than Annette.  

1014p... I like how Jeff Bridges is talking to each nominee, not just saying their name and their movie, but discussing how good each of them were.   I'm sure the Oscars' producers are like "hurry it up, Jeff!" because he's taking forever, but its cool.

1016p... And the Oscar goes to... Princess Padme Amidala.  I picked Annette Bening to win, and I'm absolutely fine that she didn't.  I know, I know, "Black Swan" is sort of a gay ballet movie too, but its got to be better than "The Kids are All Right".   11-11

1018p... So, right in the middle of Natalie Portman's speech... not only does my internet go down, but my Dish Network goes down as well. 

1021p... Apparently, someone introduced Sandra Bullock during the outage, because here she is.  She mentions Javier Bardem, then turns to Jeff Bridges and says, "Dude, you already won this.  Let someone else win this for a change."  True Grit was a great film, by the way.  She tells Jesse Eisenberg in saying, "You've inspired lonely young men hunched over keyboards around the world." 

1025p... And the Oscar goes to... The President and Founding Member in Good Standing of The Colin Firth Club.  The Lovely Steph Leann cheers loudly, claps and waves her hands as Colin Firth accepts the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in "The King's Speech."   So I'm pretty confident I'll get the Best Picture win, making me 13-11 for the night.

1027p... Colin Firth gives a classy, eloquent, funny and well spoken acceptance.  The Lovely Steph Leann is giggling like a 4th grader.   Well done, Colin, well done.

1029p... The Best Motion Picture Oscar is up next, after these messages.

1032p... James and Anne shout, "Steven Spielberg!"  He comes out, and has in his hand an envelope that contains three words:  "The" "Kings" "Speech".  Ten best picture nominees.  While seeing Colin Firth do his King's Speech in the King's Speech, we see clips from all the Best Picture nominees. 

1034p... Who, besides K-Dub, would have ever expected to hear the words "Best Picture Nominee" and "Justin Timberlake" in the same sentence?   Said with a straight face?

1035p... "The King's Speech" takes the Oscar.  I finish the night 13-11, a horrible showing.  The Lovely Steph Leann cheers on the picture win.

So there is the Oscars.  James Franco and Anne Hathaway say goodnight... James seems like he was a little bothered by the whole hosting thing,  but Anne sounded like she was having the time of her life the entire show. 

We finish the show by having a kids choir sing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and the Oscar winners for the night come out all together, making a pretty cool visual, many of them holding up their Oscars. 

And that's a wrap.  Thanks for reading, see you this week...

This Year's Oscar Winners

So, here are the winners in the 2011 Academy Awards.... as I go 24-0 tonight.  I think the most I've ever gotten correct was 20, so this year, we go undefeated!

The Minor Catagories
(not minor to the winners, obviously, but still...)

Film Editing
Nominees:  127 Hours... Black Swan... The Fighter... The King's Speech... The Social Network
I think this comes down to 127 Hours and The Social Network, but I tend to think its Facebook's night.  Winner:  The Social Network

Nominees:  Black Swan... Inception... The King's Speech... The Social Network... True Grit
Because Inception was so much computer work, I think this knocks it out of contention.  I think it comes to The Kings Speech and True Grit
Winner:  The Kings Speech

Art Direction
Nominees:  Alice in Wonderland... Harry Potter 7.1... Inception... The King's Speech... True Grit
Because I know little about this catagory, and for that matter, the two preceeding it here, its a crap shoot. 
Winner:  The King's Speech

Visual Effects
Nominees:  Alice In Wonderland... Harry Potter 7.1... Hereafter... Inception... Iron Man 2
Yes, Alice might give Inception a run for its money... but no.
Winner:  Inception

Sound Mixing
Nominees:  Inception... The King's Speech... Salt... The Social Network... True Grit
Again, I have to give this to the loudest film around...
Winner:  Inception

Sound Editing
Nominees:  Inception... Toy Story 3... TRON: Legacy... True Grit... Unstoppable
As much as I'd love to see the Denzel Train movie get an Academy award, I'm predicting a techno sweep for Chris Nolan's sci-fi instant classic
Winner:  Inception

Costume Design
Nominees:  Alice in Wonderland... I Am Love... The King's Speech... Tempest... True Grit
I don't know what the heck I Am Love and Tempest even are... yes, I know, Tempest is a Shakespeare play, but I only vaguely know of a new movie from it.  Really, I think it comes to Alice or Speech, though I wouldn't be surprised if True Grit picked this one up...
Winner:  True Grit

Nominees:  Barney's Version... The Way Back... Wolfman
If its Rick Baker involved, and I think it is, then Wolfman easy
Winner:  Wolfman

Live Action Short Film
Nominees:  The Confession... The Crush... God of Love... Na Wewe... Wish 143
I have no clue.  I always pick one, then find out another's subject is something like "a story of a man who is fighting global warming along with the injustices of Bush's senseless war", and then wish I'd picked that one to win (which it always does).  So, who knows.
Winner:  God of Love

Animated Short Film
Nominees:  Day & Night... The Gruffalo... Let's Pollute... The Lost Thing... Madagascar, Carnet de Voyage
I want Day & Night to win this badly, because it was amazing.  This was the short airing before Toy Story 3, and it was not only good in 2D, it was brilliant in 3D.  But Let's Pollute sounds like a cautionary tail of how much we are ruining our planet, and by "we", I mean us Americans.
Winner:  Let's Pollute

Documentary Short
Nominees:  Killing in the Name... Poster Girl... Strangers No More... Sun Come Up... The Warriors of Qiugang
I'm torn between Killing in the Name and The Warriors of Qiugang... not that I know a single thing about either one of them, but they both sound just leftist enough that Hollywood would vote for them.
Winner:  Killing in the Name

(ie, not as big as Picture and Actor, but bigger than editing and sound)

Documentary Feature
Nominees:  Exit Through the Gift Shop... Gasland... Inside Job... Restrepo... Waste Land
I wanted to go with "Exit Through the Gift Shop", because I have heard alot about this film, but that doesn't always translate into Oscar gold. 
Winner:  Restrepo

Original Score
Nominees:  127 Hours... How to Train Your Dragon... Inception... The King's Speech... The Social Network
As much as the music from Inception and Speech kept me captivated, and yeah, the Dragon music was cool, I think Trent Reznor picks up the win.
Winner:  The Social Network

Original Song
Nominees:  "If I Rise" from 127 Hours... "Coming Home"  from Country Strong... "I See the Light" from Tangled... "We Belong Together" from Toy Story 3
I think Randy Newman would love to add another Oscar to his collection with his Toy Story 3 song, but the problem is, most people don't remember that song.  With Toy Story, "Strange Things" and "You Got a Friend in Me" were instantly memorable, but this one, not so much.  Of course, I would love to see "I See the Light" pick this up, but I'm afraid the two Disney songs will cancel each other out, much like 2007, when the injustice of seeing both of "Enchanted"'s songs defeated by "Falling Slowly" from that random Keri Russell film. 
Winner:  "Coming Home" from Country Strong

Foreign Language Film
Nominees:  Biutiful (Mexico)... Dogtooth (Greece)... In a Better World (Denmark)... Incendies (Canada)... Outside the Law (Hors-la-Loi) (Algeria)
With all the hype surrounding Biutiful, I don't know how it doesn't pick this up.  Not that I know anything about it, but Javier Bardem being nominated for Best Actor tells me its on the radar.
Winner: Biutiful from Mexico

The Big Ones
(these are the ones everyone wants to see)

Best Animated Feature
Toy Story 3.   Doesn't matter who else is nominated.

Original Screenplay
Nominees:  Another Year... The Fighter... Inception... The Kids are Alright... The Kings Speech
You know, I don't really care who wins this, but it would warm my heart if The Kids are Alright was shut out completely.  Unfortunately, that won't happen.  Read on.
Winner:  The Kings Speech

Adapted Screenplay
Nominees:  127 Hours... The Social Network... Toy Story 3... True Grit... Winter's Bone
I'm going with the huge consensus here, a book that I hope that I can read soon
Winner:  The Social Network

Supporting Actress
Nominees:  Amy Adams, whom I'm in love with (The Fighter)... Helena Bonham Carter (The King's Speech)... Melissa Leo (The Fighter)... Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit)... Jacki Weaver (Animal Kingdom)
This is a three way race, and probably one of the most unpredictable races tonight.   Let's eliminate Jacki Weaver, she's a "its an honor to be nominated" nominee, and Helena Bonham Carter, because she was great, but she was a background character.  The thought is that Hailee Steinfeld might pull an upset if Melissa Leo and Amy Adams, whom I'm in love with, split their vote for The Fighter.  Truly, though, Hailee Steinfeld was amazing, especially for being like, 14.  And really, she should have been up for Best Actress because she was in most of True Grit, and she was brilliant in it, but in Supporting Actress, she has a shot.  However, my Hollywood girlfriend would be upset if I picked against her...
Winner:  Amy Adams, whom I'm in love with

Supporting Actor
Nominees:  Christian Bale (The Fighter)... John Hawkes (Winter's Bone)... Jeremy Renner (The Town)... Mark Ruffalo (The Kids are Alright)... Geoffrey Rush (The King's Speech)
Here's who might win... Mark Ruffalo, because he was pretty good in what is truly a big, fat gay movie that Hollywood loves.  Or, Geoffrey Rush, because he was so good in The King's Speech, in a flawless performance.  However, here's who should, and will, win...
Winner:  Christian Bale

Nominees:  Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan)... David O. Russell (The Fighter)... Tom Hooper (The King's Speech)... David Fincher (The Social Network)... The Coen Brothers (True Grit)
Aronofsky and The Coen Brothers won't win this.  David O. Russell won't win this.  Tom Hooper is too new to win this.  That leaves...
Winner:  David Fincher for The Social Network

Best Actress
Nominees:  Annette Bening (The Kids are Alright)... Nicole Kidman (Rabbit Hole)... Jennifer Lawrence (Winter's Bone)... Natalie Portman (Black Swan)... Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine)
I cannot wait to see Blue Valentine, because the words I have heard about Michelle Williams are words like "devastating", "heartbreaking" and "crushing".  Not a happy movie, but I would tend to think she probably is the Best Actress this year, even having not seen it.  But, she won't win.  Neither will Kidman or Lawrence, for their movies that are so little seen.  This comes down to Natalie Portman and Annette Bening.  Portman might win it, as she's the odds on favorite, but she might run into one problem:  Annette Bening is one of those actresses that Hollywood feels like should have already won an Oscar.  So, no matter the performance of Portman, it might fall prey to both a "My bad" from the Oscar community, giving her more of a lifetime award than a "good job this movie" prize, and a "We need to give this year's gay movie something, so this gets two birds with one stone".  Personally, I thought The Kids are Alright was not alright, but if you are going to give this award to someone from that film, give it to Julianne Moore.  She was better, and yet, not even nominated.  Tragic.
Winner:  Annette Bening

Best Actor
Nominees:  Javier Bardem (Biutiful)... Jeff Bridges (True Grit)... Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network)... Colin Firth (The King's Speech)... James Franco (127 Hours)
Count out Bardem, Bridges and Franco right now.  This is a two way race between Eisenberg and Firth, and I really think Colin Firth will win this.  The sentiment might be that Eisenberg is just getting going, and he'll have other times, but Firth is respected and has been around a long time... but this won't be a lifetime achievement award as with Annette Bening, this is for a stellar performance.  Plus, if Colin Firth loses this, The Lovely Steph Leann might be so angry she would throw a Wii-mote through the television.  Bad times.
Winner:  Colin Firth

Best Picture
Nominees:  127 Hours... Black Swan... The Fighter... Inception... The Kids are All Right... The King's Speech... The Social Network... Toy Story 3... True Grit... Winter's Bone
Let's cut this down fast.... the only movies that have a shot at this are Inception, The Kids are All Right, The Kings' Speech and The Social Network.   It would be a pretty big upset, though if either Kids or Inception took home the prize, so its Speech or Facebook.  The sentimental pick is Speech, because its an Oscar kind of movie... however, Social Network represents almost a "new era" of Hollywood, and could be ushering in the Oscars into modern times, something the Grammy's haven't figured out yet.  Anyway, I wouldn't be upset with either one winning, but I'm giving the nod to...
Winner:  The King's Speech

Friday, February 25, 2011

The 100 Coolest Things of 2010... #90 - 81

You'll want to click over to the mothership site, Clouds in My Coffee, because if you are reading this on Facebook, you'll miss all the videos and fun stuff...

A little at a time, we will get down the list... American Idol coverage always adds a hindrance, so to say, to getting the 100 Coolest list, but we get there when we get there, don't we?

To catch up:  The 100th to 91st Coolest Things of 2010

So, let's start with the 90th coolest thing of 2010...

90... Kris Allen Lives Before He Dies
"...Yeah we gotta start lookin' at the hands of the time we've been given if this is all we got then we gotta start thinkin' if every second counts on a clock thats tickin...
...gotta liiiiivvvveee like we're dying...
...we only got 86 four hundred seconds in a day to turn it all around or throw it all away we gotta tell 'em that we love 'em while we got the chance to say...
...gotta liiiiivvvveee like we're dying..."

What can I say?  This song, the first (and possibly only) single by American Idol winner Kris Allen, has grown on me.   I can't sing the words correctly--not that stops me from trying--and yes, quick math will tell you there are actually 86 four hundred seconds in a day.  So, we should liiiiivvvveee like we're dying.

89... Zoes Serves the Steak
There are several restaurants in our rotation of "where we eatin'?", including Chipotle, Baha Burger, Jason's Deli, The Purple Onion and even Dale's Southern Grill... but I had avoided Zoe's Kitchen like the plague.  The Lovely Steph Leann loves her some Zoe's, full of pita bread and pita chips and pasta salads and chicken salads and veggies and so on, all the stuff that didn't appeal to me in the slightest.

Enter Zoe's Steak Roll-Ups.  And suddenly, Zoe's wasn't a bad thing... it is a good thing.  They serve 4 small roll-ups on a plate, served with this special "yogurt" sauce (whatever that means) for dipping, and its delicious.  The Lovely Steph Leann is pleased too, because I'll routinely say "Hey, want Zoe's tonight?", and that means she won't have to eat tacos or Zaxbys'. 

(full disclosure... I texted The Lovely Steph Leann to ask what we were doing for dinner... she told me to pick... and I texted back "Zoe's?"  So that's where we went.  It was good.)

88.  Assassins Get Old
So, one of the most fun movies that I saw in all of last year starred Helen Mirren as a hitman... hitwoman... hitperson?  And it had John Malkovich as a crazy, paranoid former agent, Morgan Freeman as a terminally ill former assassin, Richard Dreyfuss as a smarmy bad guy, Karl Urban as the young, brash detective, and Bruce Willis as the centerpiece to keep it all together.

I loved this film.  It was funny, was a solid, if completely improbable, story, and it was cool to see all of these veteran (translation: old) actors of Hollywood come together in a self-deprecating, comedic fashion.  Mary Louise Parker is the token love interest for Bruce Willis, and you could do a lot worse than MLP as your chick, and watching Richard Dreyfuss play up the scuzzbutt is a treat.  Even Bryan Cox and Ernest Borgnine gets into the action! 

When this comes on Starz in probably August or so, and/or when it starts randomly appearing on channels like TNT and Spike by next year, this will be a fantastic background movie, something to just turn on and leave while you are goofing off around the house, not doing chores.

87... Donuts See Daylight
There's a Krispy Kreme across town that takes forever to get to, and forever to get through.  From The Cabana, you have to head to the other side of Hoover, sometimes taking 30 or 45 minutes through traffic, and when you finally come out of Krispy Kreme, there is a red light there that takes for-ev-er to turn.

If thats too much, there is also a local donut dive called Shipley's across the road and just down from Krispy Kreme, but again, getting there doesn't make it worth it.  Also far away, but in a slightly different direction is Dunkin Donuts.  Personally, I think Dunkin coffee sucks, but their donuts are really good.

But why in the world would I go to Krispy Kreme, Shipleys or Dunkin when I can leave The Cabana and literally go across the street, either driving (it would take 4 minutes in traffic) or even walk (it would take 10 minutes, maybe 15 on foot, and yes, I've done it) and visit Daylight Donuts... don't ask me why its so good, I can't tell you.  Maybe because its so easy to get to, maybe because for three bucks I can get a couple of donuts and a small drink, maybe because they have the best dadblamed donut holes I've ever ever never ever had.  They are fantastic.   Love me some Daylight.

86... Funerals Get Funny
When we had our big ordeal with DirecTV breaking up with us, leading us to start dating Dish Network, we got some free pay-per-view movies, six in all.  Truth be told, we got six, and we only ended up using two before they expired in November... the first was "Letters to Juliet" which, I can honestly tell you, isn't one of The 100 Coolest Things of 2010.  Amanda Seyfried being in it helped its standing considerably, but its nowhere near the countdown.

However, the other movie we used a PPV coupon for is in the Top 100 of 2010... "Death at a Funeral" is a stupid movie.  Let's be honest, its a ridiculous movie with a ridiculous plot and you know, sometimes, those are the best films.  The Lovely Steph Leann and I started it late, and maybe that helped us find more humor in it than was intended, but we laughed and laughed and laughed all the way through.

The plot revolves around the funeral of a patriarch of a large black family, with the two sons (Chris Rock and Martin Lawrence) trying to get the plans together.  Of course, chaos ensues when you toss in a hallucinogenic drug, a coffin that gets knocked over, old boyfriends and Peter Dinklage as a midget (reprising the role from the original British film) who has some very incriminating photos of the deceased, and wants to get paid.

The ensemble cast is fun, with Zoe Saldana, James Marsden, Tracy Morgan, Luke Wilson, Keith David and a crotchety old Danny Glover as a crotchety old uncle.  Its worth a view, don't expect a masterpiece, just enjoy the slapstick and the jokes.

85... Sandy Gets the Gold
Sometimes Oscars are given to those who deserve it, and sometimes not.  And sometimes they are given to actors and actresses for frilly movies full of fluffy costumes, English accents and Victorian locations.  Maybe they deserve it, maybe they don't... but every now and then, the Academy throws the current day and age a bone and gives a gold statue to someone we love, in a move we love. 

Perhaps Sandra Bullock's Oscar was more of a lifetime achievement award, but as you will see in my post about the films of Sandra Bullock, perhaps it was actually recognition for portraying a real-life character, portraying Lee Ann Touhy brilliantly in a movie, "The Blind Side", that appeals to just about everyone.  I am sure there are people who don't like this movie, but I don't know many--if any--of them.  This movie is so great on so, so many levels, and a huge part of that is Sandra Bullock's performance.

So when her name was read on Oscar night, when she won Best Actress for "The Blind Side", I was thrilled, almost as thrilled as when my dear sweet Kate won the Oscar the year before (which I do believe was a career recognition).  Sandy Bullock, Oscar winner.  I can dig that, I can dig that alot.

84... Harrison Ford Stays Cranky
Here are my thoughts on "Morning Glory", the 84th coolest thing of 2010, as written on December 19th, 2010...

"Morning Glory" tells the tale of Becky Fuller, played by Rachel McAdams... Becky is a ambitious news producer that, due to layoffs, is forced to take a job with a very low key, struggling network, and is hired to take over their terrible morning show. 

"Morning Glory" is fun and simple, it doesn't try to hard, and you genuinely like and root for Becky Fuller, and can even empathize with her when she and Mike do the inevitable sit down, where they have the "don't work so hard or you will end up like me" conversation.  The movie is practically out of theaters at this point, so catch it as a rental. 

You can read the full review by click on The Clouds In My Coffee Movie Review Page, or just going straight to the post here.

83... The Boss Goes Undercover
How can you not love this show?  You take a big boss or CEO of a major company--Spirit Airlines, Mack Trucks, Subway, Chiquita Brands, Great Wolf Hotels--you put a disguise of sorts on them and then they work with the "common folk".  At the hotels, he's cleaning rooms and toilets, at the airline, he's emptying out sewage and screwing up the safety speech, at Chiquita, he's wrecking a forklift... the CEO gets to see what happens on the front lines of the companies.

Every episode has each Undercover Boss take on three or four different positions in the company, and each position comes with a fellow worker who usually talks about how much they love their job, or how hard the economy has been on them, or how lay-offs and pay cuts have affected them and their families (many times with handicapped children or some other hardship), and each episode has the Undercover Boss revealing himself to be the CEO to the unsuspecting workers, telling them how awesome they are, and offering some sort of promotion, monetary gift, vacation, award and the like.

Sure, it has its faults.  I'm sure for every hard worker they find, that one guy who loves his job but barely makes ends meet, they find another slacker who does nothing but complain about his job and does just enough to get by.  Imagine being that guy, only to find out later that the new guy you told, "Dude, this job sucks, and I take every shortcut I can." is the guy who runs the entire company... and now knows your name and your displeasure with your job.  Bad times indeed.

Yes, Pedro Cerrano is also President Palmer,
who is also the Allstate guy.  All played by
Dennis Haysbert.
82... Mayhem Hits the Streets
Sometimes ads work, sometimes they don't.  Insurance commercials have especially picked up their game lately, as Geico had been the front runner for years--of course, that tends to happen when you have something like forty campaigns at once... the pile of money you could be saving... the guy who says, "Can Geico save you money?  Does (insert common phrase here that is acted out for sake of comedic value)"...  the Cavemen... the British speaking (Australian?) Geico Gekko...  I almost feel like that well dressed guy with the deep voice should come on and say, "Can Geico save you 15% on your car insurance?  Do we have too many ad campaigns at one time?" then smashcut to the Caveman, the Gekko and that pile of money with the creepy eyes all playing tennis or something.

Anyway, Flo from Progressive has come on strong this year too, and strangely enough, I kinda find her sorta attractive in a Jennif strange, odd sort of way.  

And though Allstate had Pedro Cerrano on its side... you might know him better as President Palmer from "24", but since I never got into that show, I'll stick to his Indians playing days with Jake Taylor and Wild Thing Ricky Vaughn... anyway, Allstate added a villain to their campaign.  Mayhem.

Mayhem is all the things that can go wrong that you might want insurance for.  Mayhem is portrayed as "the hot jogger" that you stare at while ramming into a tree... or the flag that tears from the car ahead of you, covers your windshield and sends you careening into a barrier... or the high school kid who isn't paying attention on his riding lawnmower and shoots rocks through your windows and all over your car... or the exec who spills the espresso in his lap, slams on breaks, has you run into him and then sues you (this one is especially wicked, as it takes a shot at Geico... "is your 15 minutes going to be enough to cover the 90,000 dollars when I sue you?")
I love a good commercial.

81... Denzel Stops a Train
Sometimes a movie doesn't have to be great to be great.  Sometimes it doesn't even have to be good to be... well, good.  "The Kings Speech" was great.  "Unstoppable" was great, for entirely different reasons.   The former is supposed to be great, supposed to be monumental, supposed to be amazing.  The latter?  It is just supposed to entertain. 

Starring Denzel and Chris Pine, "Unstoppable" has a simple premise... they work on a train line.  They are doing a routine train transfer in rural, blue collar Pittsburgh.  On down the line is another train, full of toxic materials, running out of control.   That's pretty much it.

Here's how I summed up my feelings towards this movie:

Just so happens... I loved the heck out of this movie. You know, sometimes you just want to be entertained, you don't want to think too much, you don't want to be taught anything or preached to or leave the theater dwelling on the film's message and so on... with "Unstoppable", none of that happens. Its not a dumb movie, it just doesn't pretend to be anything that its not... its simply an action film with two likable leads on one train, trying to stop another train from going really, really fast.  -- read original post here.

Coming Soon... Cam has quite a year... B.A. Returns...  Lady A serves up some Honey... and later... engagements all around! 

The 80th through 71st Coolest Things of 2010

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Idol's Top 24 Is Chosen

It took two hours to descrate celebrate The Beatles music and then drop five people, and advance five people to The Top 24, and now we have another two hours to get the other 19 people, while dropping the rest of the contestants.

We pick up while consoling J-Lo, after she completely broke down while telling Funky Chris Medina that he didn't make it.  Steven Tyler and Randy the Dawg comfort her, and let her know she did everything right. 

Funky Chris Medina and his boo Juliana, before her
accident that left her disabled.
Can I just say this?  Funky Chris Medina has an incredible backstory, maybe one of the most affecting and special in Idol's history.  What he is doing with his boo Juliana, staying with her even after her debiliating accident, is incredible and demands huge respect.  But his story and character not only overshadowed, but was in essence, greater than his actual talent.  Were he to make it to the Top 24, I'm afraid that this story alone would push him to the finals, possibly to the Top Five or so, and would be taking that spot from someone who deserves it more. 

But, its not all bad for Funky Chris Medina... Jay Leno reached out to him, and he'll be performing on The Tonight Show on Friday night doing some original material. 




So now, Karen Rodriguez, someone we've seen only briefly, takes the walk down the Green Mile walkway, to the execution.  It kinda reminds me of Professor X's plank walkway in the Cerrebro Room.   K-Rod gets a big vote of confidence from J-Lo and is now in the Top 24...

Robbie Rosen is up now, and The Lovely Steph Leann is a fan.  I wonder, though, if they give a spot for Robbie Rosen, and another spot for his schnoz.  Let's be real... he's got a large nose.  And he's got about 45 teeth.  He's very, very toothy.  I do like him though, and mention it to The Lovely Steph Leann, and she immediately says, "Absolutely.  If he doesn't go through, I'm going to be upset."  No upsetting news for The Lovely Steph Leann, though, as he makes it through to the Top 24.  Four girl spots... three guy spots...

Tatinysa... Tatanaysa... Titanynsya... Tatynisa Wilson?  She is the one who butchered "I Hope You Dance" in the last round, and barely made it through her final solo performance with "Unbreak My Heart"... you know those songs that are so great, but automatically ruined by being played a billion times a day, every other song?  Songs like "Barely Breathing", or "Smooth" by Rob Thomas and Santana, and yes, Toni Braxton's "Unbreak My Heart", a great song ruined by me hearing it every fifteen minutes.  And while I ranted about the ruination of Toni's masterpiece, Tatynisa makes it through.

We now see Brittany Missomething and some dude from Nashville, and who they are doesn't matter, nor does the fact we have no idea who they are or what they sound like, because neither made it. 

Tim Halperin, someone we heard last night on The Beatles night, impressed all the judges all through Hollywood, especially last night.  The Lovely Steph Leann says, "He's really grown on me..."  His final audition had him singing an original song, on piano, and it sounded fantastic.  I really like his voice.  Steven Tyler does the patented fake out and says, "I'm sorry to tell you...." and smashcut to Tim Halperin walking out to see Seacrusty and yelling, "I made it!"

Now we see Julie Zorrilla, my favorite so far.  The Lovely Steph Leann says, "She makes some very weird clothing choices in her dresses."  She gives me a dirty look when I respond, "Yeah, but her dresses are always really short, so its okay..."  J-Lo tries the fake out as well, in telling Julie Z that she has made the Top 24.  That's half of the chick spots taken thusfar.  In the waiting room, she jumps up and her dress flies up.  The Lovely Steph Leann yells, "Whoa!" and I say, "Should I rewind that?"  She snaps, "NO!" 

Our two country guys are up next, Deep Voiced Scotty and John Wayne Schulz.  Remember Deep Voice Scotty was in the group that kicked out Jacee Badeuax, aka, Chunky Beiber, and then he sang the lyric "nuts of wonder" during his mockery of "I Hope You Dance".   His solo performance has him plunking the guitar and really doing some old style country.  My theory is, if Deep Voiced Scotty does well, even if he doesn't win, country will embrace him fully.  He sounds as good, if not better, than much of what you'll hear on the radio right now.   Now he makes the Walk of Chance down the Green Mile.  Good thing that Randy the Dawg lets him know he's in the Top 24.

And of course, there's not room for two cowboys, as John Wayne Schulz does't make it.  J-Wayne says goodbye.

Jovany Barrato sang Jon Secada's "Angel" in his final performance, and remember, he's the dude who showed off his six pack in his original auditions.  The Lovely Steph groans, "I hate this song..."  J-Lo gives him the news.  He's in.  Every season of Idol needs a Latin Love Machine, and this year, its Jovany.

Lauren Turner is making her way to the circular platform of destiny, another one that we aren't to familiar with.  She does have fabo hair, though.  She takes her seat on the Chair of Fate, and Randy the Dawg tells her that Hollywood Week wasn't great for her.  But, he then tells her she made it.   Now, only five spots remain.

Tywan Strong and Erin Kelly both are told they didn't make it, however.  End of the road, and Erin says, "Going back to reality, because this was nothing but a dream."  Never truer words were spoken. 

Rachel Zevita got a few rounds deep in Season Six, but here she is in Season Ten, making it right up to the Top 24?  But is she in?   I kinda do like her voice, though she reminds me of a prettier version of Heather Matarazzo, who was Princess Mia's bestie in "The Princess Diaries".   J-Lo tells her that she has been a fan of RaZe for a while, and Steven Tyler does the fake out again... "I'm sorry to say... you are coming through..."  Ra'Ze cries. 

The holding room continues to be tense, as only ten spots remain, four of those being chick spots.  Kendra Chantelle, who auditioned in Nashville, is up now, and she shined brightly in a duet with Pauly McDonald.  Her final performance was "Falling" by Alicia Keys, the same song she auditioned with--a risky move.  Will it pay off?  Let's find out...

Steven Tyler says there is concern, and that in 24 people, they have to find someone who is beyond good, and a total package.  Kendra comes out and tells Seacresty, "They told me a lot, and that they had to cut a bunch of people... but I'm not one of them!"  She makes it.

Jordan Dorsey has his turn.  Lest we forget, he's the guy who "auditioned" people for his own group, then ended up ditching his group for another... and in The Beatles round, he got some news that he didn't do so well.  He seemed to do well in his solo performance, though.  J-Lo tells him that she fought for JoDo the whole way through.  Randy the Dawg brings up JoDo's auditioning in the Group Night, and JoDo tries to explain himself.  J-Lo says, again, "Its tough, because a bunch of people are going home, there are only 24 spots... but luckily for you... you made it..."

And now, Lauren Alaina, who I really like.  The Lovely Steph Leann says, "I like her!  If she doesn't make it, I'm going to be really unhappy... I mean, I'll move on, but still..."

This show is stressing The Lovely Steph Leann out.

Lauren did really well in her opening audition, and shone in Group Night, but in Vegas, it came crashing down.  For her solo performance, she did "Unchained Melody", always a risk.  And she just turned 16.  Wearing something out of Julie Z's closet, she makes the walk to the platform.   Steven Tyler fakes out, saying, "I don't know how you are going to handle it at 16.... since you are in the bigtime now..."  The Lovely Steph Leann says, "Whew!  I was gonna be mad!"

Stefano Langone is the guy who was in a terrible accident, making it through Hollywood and Vegas mostly unscathed, but took a big risk in singing an original song in the final solo performance.  He sounded good, though.  I mention this to The Lovely Steph Leann, who merely whispers, "Mmm hmmm...."   J-Lo says, "Everyone had good moments, but someone has to go home.  At the end of the day we feel... like we would love to have you in our Top 24..."  I knew that was coming.   Stefano yells, "I haven't slept in FOUR DAYS!"

The Lovely Steph Leann says, "Aaaaugh!  Who else will make it!?!"

This Jackie Wilson didn't make it to the Top 24.
Well, neither did the other one.
Jackie Wilson, the blonde chick, not the 50s singer of songs like "Lonely Teardrops", auditioned well, but during her final solo song, she did the unthinkable... she forgot the words while singing "Because of You".   J-Lo breaks the news that Jackie Wilson won't be making it further.   Neither the blonde chick nor the 50s singer.  She asks "Why" and Randy the Dawg just says its a consistancy thing.  She says later that she didn't agree with the decision, but "it is what it is..."

Soul Man Jacob Lusk has that big bee-bop-bee-bee-bop-a-bop voice, and has a big personality, and I would love to see him clap his hands and yell "Her-ca-lese!  Her-ca-lese!"   He has some killer vocals, and The Lovely Steph Leann says, "He's not someone I would want an entire album of... but his vocals are just insane.  Great personality, seems like a great guy, but crazy vocals that are just insane..."  Randy the Dawg points out his "God Bless the Child" performance was the single best performance ever... not sure I agree with that, but he did very well.  But when he is told he makes the Top 24, he just jumps and cheers and screeches loudly, prancing and jumping all the way back down the Green Mile to the waiting room.  He grabs Seacrusty and spins him around, ripping Seacrusty's shirt.

The waiting room is emptying out, the energy is much, much lower now.  Only two spots remain for the chicks, three spots for the dudes. 

Pia Toscano was part of the outstanding version of "Grenade" in Group Night, then killed with her duet in The Beatles performance, and now sounds as if her solo song was great.  And she's smokin' hot too, so that helps.  Pia Toscano sounds like a dish at Olive Garden.  "Yes, I'll have a Caesar salad with extra onions... and I'll take the Pia Toscano.  Thanks."  J-Lo says, "I'll keep it short and sweet.  You made it." 

James Durban was described as "The voice we've been looking for" by Seacrusty in the auditions, but was shaky on Group Night.  When he sang for his Idol life, he had to show control over his loud Unambigiously Gay Adam Lamberty type voice, and seemed to do just that.  And he wears a tail, don't ask me why.  Possibly something that we might see on "My Strange Addiction" on TLC.   And now, Jamey D makes the walk down the plank to the Platform of Idol Dreams.  Steven Tyler doesn't even try to fake him out, and just tells him that he makes it. 

I mention that Jamey D is losing a bit of luster for me, and The Lovely Steph Leann says, "I would agree, but that last song was great."

Two spots left, four dudes left.  Casey Abrams is up next, and we already know he makes it, because the teaser before the break just now showed Brett Lowenstern, Chunky Beiber and that other guy all together, with Randy the Dawg saying, "The one going through is..."

However, I read today that Casey Abrams was hospitalized for stomach pains, and if he doesn't get better quickly, he might be replaced.  Get better Casey!  You are my dog, dawg!  He does a great solo song, and hits a note that makes The Lovely Steph Leann say, "And to sing that note with no vibratto?  So impressive..."  Of course he makes it.   Randy the Dawg tells him that Casey might be the most talented overall musician overall on Idol.  And in his celebration, Casey knocks the Chair of Decision over, and it falls off the stage... he says, "I'll get that!  I'll pay for that!"  As he walks out, J-Lo says, "He forgot the chair!"

So our last two girls make the walk.  Thia Megia and Jessica... someone.  I said, "Jessica who?" and The Lovely Steph Leann says, "Yeah, exactly."  As it turns out, though, Jessica has auditioned 7 times for Idol, and now, at this moment, one Idol road continues and one Idol road ends.  I cannot even see Jessica's last name, as the Fox 6 weather map only allows "Cu" to be shown.  Randy the Dawg tells her they are both awesome, but only one can go through.  And Thia Megia stays, Jessica Cu----- goes home, cut on her own birthday. 

Now, finally, one spot left for the guys.  Brett the Red, Chunky Beiber and Colton Dixon all walk in together, with one spot remaining.  The Lovely Steph Leann says loudly, "This is so bad!  I like all three of them!"    Chunky Beiber sang "Gone Too Soon", and it made The Lovely Steph Leann just say, "Mmmm."  Brett the Red did one of his own songs during the final solo performance.   Colton Dixon shone during his solo song in Hollywood, and again, in his solo performance. 

They build all three up, and Randy the Dawg finally says, "The person going through out of the three of you is Brett Lowenstern..."  Colton and Chunky Beiber say goodbye.  I would have taken Colton Dixon out of the three.  Chunky Beiber tears up, and The Lovely Steph Leann whimpers, "I hate this!  I HATE THIS!!"   I'll miss Chunky Beiber. 

So thats Idol's auditions.  The live shows start next week, with the final judgement over.  The guys come up first Tuesday night, the girls on Wednesday. 

Here are the Girls, in order of which I like 'em... Julie Z... Lauren Alaina... Haley Reinhart... Ashton Jones... Kendra Chantelle... Lauren Turner... Pia Toscano... Thia Megia... Ra'Ze... K-Rod... Tatynisa Wilson... Nababa Shaboola

And here are the Guys, in order of which I dig 'em... Casey Abrams... Pauly Mac... Deep Voiced Scotty... Soul Man Jacob Lusk... T Halperin... Robbie Ro... Jamey D... Stefano Lego... Brett the Red...  JoDo... The Latin Love Machine Jovany... Junbug

We'll have more than Idol here on Clouds, I promise... but you know we will be here for all the Idol coverage you could need!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Idol Need Is Love, Love (To Be Continued)

It's going on 930, and we haven't started Idol just yet... The Lovely Steph Leann has spent the evening with Mama Ruthless and Big Daddy Ron, doing whatever it is she does when she does what she does there, and I finally texted her and said "Uh... the show is 2 hours... and I don't have to work tomorrow..."  She said, "I know, I'll be there soon..."  That was about 820. 

And she just got home.  So now, she's plopped down on the couch, Snuggie in lap, and she's ready.  I'm ready.  We're ready. 



Last week, it was brutal.  The contestants survived the first cuts... then group night... then solo performances... and now we are down to about 60... but it gets better.  They are headed to Vegas, and have 24 hours to learn and perform a song from The Beatles catalog.

And we will see the Top 24.  And I know for a fact of one heavy favorite from early on that gets the ax during the final cuts.  And J-Lo breaks down when telling them they didn't make it.

From 327 to 61 people... and now, let's work on getting to 24.  They are dividing up into duos and trios, and are performing at the stage of "Beatles: Love" Cirque de Soleil.   Vocal coach Peggy Blu tells them "If you are still reading lyrics by now, you are in trouble, because this is a gig."

The pressure of perfection begins to take its toll on the contestants, and Lauren Alaina bursts into tears.   We then get a taste of Peggy Blu again, as Seacrusty calls her "The vocal coach from HELL!" and she seems like it, as she tears into Thia Megia and some chick named Melinda that I don't know if we've seen.

And we get the quick montage of those who say... "I've never heard a Beatles song..."  Like, seriously?  I just paused it, looked at The Lovely Steph Leann and said, "Okay, let's be clear... Lorelei Addison and Campbell Isaiah WILL hear The Beatles.  Maybe they won't care for them, and that's fine, but I'm not having a 20 year old kid telling American 'I've never heard a Beatles song'.  Not my kids, no ma'am.  Even if we have a black or Chinese kid!"

She responds, "Oh, I know, they will know The Beatles.  They will know them all..." and we list artists like The Carpenters, Herman's Hermits, Hootie, Sheryl Crow, Lady Antebellum and more, artists that our kids will know.  This is just good parenting. 

So, the 61 will take the stage in twos and threes, and they will either go on or they won't.  First up, James Durban and Stefano Langone doing "Get Back".  They sound pretty good, kicking the show off right, with James doing the crazy wail.  Steven Tyler liked it, Randy the Dawg liked it and J-Lo smiles too.

Pia Toscano and another chick we barely know are up next, doing "Can't Buy Me Love".   Karen Rodriguez is the other chick, by the way.  Not bad, good harmony, and J-Lo says, "You two really get it!"  Steven Tyler thought it took off.  Randy the Dawg says it was very nice.

Jacob Lusk, Haley Reinhart and Nambia Adaniadapopopo are doing a trio, singing "The Long and Winding Road."  All three sound pretty good, with Jacob doing what is becoming his signature runs and soul singing.  Once again, we have a pretty good performance.  J-Lo loved it.  Steven Tyler said it was stupendous.  Randy the Dawg tells them to go for it!   Jacob responds that he tried to show restraint, not "wanting to take it to Ebenezer Baptist, y'all..."

We see groups doing "Eleanor Rigby" (one of my two favorite The Beatles songs), "Let It Be" and "Something", featuring Julie Zorilla, my current favorite.  I mention to The Lovely Steph Leann, "I am waiting for the bad songs to come up..."

Seacrusty announces three more, and The Lovely Steph Leann says, "Who?  That chick in the middle?  Never seen her, ever..."  They are doing "I Saw Her Standing There".  Random thought--the Tiffany version was my favorite song for like, a month or two in 1988.  Just sayin'.  Randy the Dawg really liked the group, J-Lo just liked it and Steven Tyler thought they all nailed it.  I'm guessing these are three black people who had never heard an Aerosmith song until Idol started. 

Another duo is doing "Blackbird", another one of my top The Beatles songs.   Kendra Something and Paul McDonald, both from Nashville, sound great.  He's got a cool voice, and The Lovely Steph Leann shouts, "That was awesome!"  J-Lo loved it.  Steven Tyler thought it was beautiful, and Randy the Dawg liked the harmonies.

Another duo sings "Help", and another sings "Ticket to Ride" and still another sings "With a Little Help (from my friends)".  And now we cut to The Overdramatic Ashley Sullivan.  I'm so tired of this chick.  Even if she makes the Top 24, she will fall apart every week... she cannot handle this.  Plus, she's really annoying. 

And we see The Overdramatic Ashley Sullivan using this trip to Vegas, this Idol audition, for something else... she and her boo head to a Vegas Chapel and get married.  No joke.  She's just... just... eeww.  She's so Waffle Housey Waitressy looking.  So The Overdramatic Ashley Sullivan becomes The Overdramatic Ashley SomethingElse.  I would like her to become the The Gone Ashley Whatever. 

Hell's Vocal Coach Peggy Blu sees her kids come on stage now.  Melinda Something and Thia Megia, doing "Here Comes the Sun".   Hell's Vocal Coach Peggy Blu whispers to the camera, "Oh Lord..."  Randy the Dawg praises Thia, but not Melinda.  J-Lo follows suit.  Steven Tyler does as well.

Now, up is The Overdramatic Ashley Blahblah and Sophia Yaddayadda, doing "We Can Work It Out".  The camera cuts to the judges quickly, and their faces tell the story.  Not good.  J-Lo sits stone faced, and this is going to be bad, ending with an Ashley breakdown.  Steven Tyler says it wasn't the best performance from either one.  Randy the Dawg concurs, and J-Lo just says, "I'm sorry." 

Lauren Alaina, Denise Jackson and Deep Voiced Scotty have had a disastrous rehearsal, and had to pick a different song.  They are doing "Goodbye/Hello".  I thought it was going to be a trainwreck, and it turns out to be pretty good.  Not the best vocals I've ever heard, but it is a fun take on the song.  Randy the Dawg looks perplexed.  J-Lo says it sounds good when they were in harmony.  Steven Tyler said the song didn't fit them, but recognized the attempt.  Randy the Dawg said it was funny but not perfect.

Carson Higgins and Caleb Howley teamed up, and so did Funky Chris Medina and Casey Abrams... the former didn't do so great, the latter did pretty doggone good.   The Traitorous Jordon Dorsey, Robbie Rosen and Aaron Sanders close out this part of the Idol auditions with "Got To Get You Into My Life".  And it was pretty good.  Randy the Dawg liked it well enough, J-Lo liked it, and Steven Tyler liked it. 

Now the preformances are over.  The stage is clear.  And now, 61 people will be whittled down.   Names will be called... Thia... Deep Voiced Scotty... The Turncoat Jordon... Robbie Rosen... Ashton... Lauren Alaina... they all step forward.   The ones who stepped forward go through.  So did 33 more.  And who did we lose?  Carson Higgins didn't make it.  Denise Jackson didn't make it.  The Overdramatic Ashley didn't make it.  Thank you judges. 

Now we are down to 40, and they return back to Los Angeles to "Sing for their lives..." as Seacrusty puts it.   The first steps were all smiles.  The next step was Hollywood.  Then Vegas... and now back to LA, they have to walk whats being called The Green Mile, in a hangar.  Each of the 40 remaining contestants sing one more song, and the next day, the judges call them one by one to tell them that yes, they are in the Top 24--meaning they will get voted on by America from here on out--or they are done with Idol--meaning their journey stops here. 

Each one walks the long walk to the judges, and first up is Naboo Amabagdodopoopoo.  She sits in tears while the judges talk to her.  Steven Tyler tells her she has made it, so Nababa becomes the first chick to make it.  I kinda knew she would.

Holly Cavanaugh is up now (Except for like, five or six people, I have no idea who is even left in the show...).  Originally, Randy the Dawg told her no, but J-Lo and Steven Tyler put her through.  She begins the long walk to the judges platform to find her fate.  On the small circular platform are three chairs with the judges on one side, and five or six feet away, a single chair facing them.  Brutal.  Holly didn't make it.   J-Lo tells her that she, J-Lo, was outvoted, and that she wanted to put Holly through, but Steven Tyler and Randy the Dawg say no.  They say she's 17, and that she is talented enough to come back next year and contend for the whole thing.

Clint Jun "Junbug" Gamboa
Big Lakeisha Lewis, who we have barely seen the entire show, and Alex Ryan, another "who?", don't make it.  I ask The Lovely Steph Leann, "who is that guy?" and she shrugs.   And here's Clint Jun Gamboa, the guy who cut Jacee Badauex's feet out from under him by kicking him out of their group late into the evening.   I have to ask, how many pairs of glasses does this kid even have?  Like, he's got on a different pair every time they show him.  Randy the Dawg tells him that he is through to the Top 24.  One chick, one dude so far.

I can see that... he's got a great voice, but I think the who Jacee thing will come back to bite him.  And maybe it didn't go down completely like it was portrayed, but Idol portrayed him to be the bad, bad guy, and I wonder if America will forget that.  I don't think so.

Now, its Haley Reinhart making the long Green Mile walk to either be executed or recieve a stay of said execution.  Steven Tyler tells her she has made it, and thats two chicks down. 

Sixteen year old Deandre Brackensick doesn't make it... and yes, I typed that sentence before he even made it to the Judges Platform.  I knew he wouldn't make it.  He's got Kenny G hair.  Random observation.

Paul McDonald is walking up, and though we haven't seen a ton of him so far, he's got a distinctive voice that I hope will make it through.   He even sang an original song on his final performance, and now he heads to the Judges Platform.  If he makes it through, I can totally see a David Cook and/or Kris Allen type transformation.   And he makes it through, taking up the 2nd dudes spot. 

Ashton Jones walks up... and I really like her.  She even did Whitney on her final performance, and if you can do Whitney well, I'm all yours.  J-Lo builds her up, calling her consistant, but reminds her of those bad moments too.  And she makes it!  Three girls down, two guys down, 19 spots left. 

Funky Chris Medina, one of my favorite nicknames in all of Idol's seasons, walks slowly up the walkway.  And I know what's coming... I know he doesn't make it.  And The Lovely Steph Leann is going to come close to tears, as J-Lo will most certainly do in just a moment.  Remember, he's the guy who's sticking by and caring for his girlfriend who had a terrible accident, leaving her needing constant care.  And the tears come for J-Lo as she tells him he doesn't make it.  Funky Chris Medina goes home.  J-Lo wipes a tear and says, "I didn't want tell him no.  I don't want to do this anymore."   Randy the Dawg and Steven Tyler actually have to console her. 

Seacrusty gives Funky Chris Medina a big hug, as does several of the contestants.  I really liked him, and I'm genuinely sad to see him leave. 

The Lovely Steph Leann wipes a tear away.

So here's the running count...

The chicks... Haley Reinhart... Ashton Jones... Nobobo Agrabahpo...
The dudes... Paul McDonald... Clint Junbug

Tomorrow Night... we finish the Top 24! 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Rock Rocks (and other thoughts)

What a glorious day here at The Cabana.  Its my day off, so I was able to sleep until around 10ish this morning, after staying up until 1am watching almost 3 hours of American Idol and another hour of Survivor: Redemption Island, and sometimes when you sleep late, and you do that groggy, wobbly stumble to the toilet for your morning relief, then that shower that comes after is just wonderful.  Got out, had me a quick lunch, then set about the task of finishing the laundry that had been piled up for five days now... well, heck, we were gone for twelve days, so everything we owned was dirty.

Now, I'm just sitting on the couch, chilling out, relaxing all cool, you know, shooting some b'ball outside of the school... okay, thats not true.  Thats too much excercise.  It is a beautiful day outside, and some may criticize me for not being in it... but what would I do?  Run?  Go stand on the corner, inhale the fresh Birmingham/Hoover air and mutter out loud, "Wow, what a pretty day!"?  Nah, I just like it here in The Cabana, all the windows open, the bright sunshine pouring in, and a bad Steven Seagal movie playing on the TV, on a channel with no HD, making it fuzzy, which probably makes it more enjoyable.

I guess "Bad Steven Seagal Movie" is itself an oxymoron.


So, The Rock, who I have a total mancrush on, is back in the WWE.  It was a glorious return on this past Monday Night Raw, and I watched the twenty minutes or so he was on about three times.  He was in fine form, shouting out things like, "Layeth the smacketh down on your candy a#(@*" and "Know your role and shut your mouth!" and "All you jabronis..."  It made me giggle.  He rules.  He... well, Rocks.

And of course, the big news is, he'll be "hosting" Wrestlemania XXVII, this time in Atlanta, Georgia, on April 2nd.  Myself and my best mate Wookiee had been discussing going anyway, and we were tossing back and forth about a third like Danny Ocean talking to Rusty in "Ocean's Eleven"... "We need one more?  You think we need one more?  Okay, we'll get one more..."

So enter Big Tom Johnson, another former Deucemate.  The discussion of whether we go to Wrestlemania XXVII shifted to overdrive when I found out that The Rock will be there, and a major part of it.  Toss in the possibility that Kevin "Diesel"/"Big Daddy Kool" Nash may be there, as well as Booker T, and even the outside shot that WCW'er Sting might show up--highly unlikely, but then again, so was The Rock's return to regular WWE appearances... anyway, add all that in, and the discussion went from "are we going?" to "how fast can we get tickets?" 

A visit to StubHub (stuuuuubhub!) today got us some tickets.  Granted, we are in the upper upper deck, and granted we'll be about 10 rows from the top of the Georgia Dome, and granted everyone, Diesel, The Rock and The Big Show included, will look about an inch tall from our seats, but WE WILL BE AT WRESTLEMANIA.  If you could get Super Bowl tickets, you'd take 'em, no matter where you were sitting.  And at about $67 bucks a pop, you just want to say you were there.  April 2nd, we will be.  I rule.


Speaking of The Rock, I just, in the middle of writing this blog post, left The Cabana, drove over to the ghetto and paid a buck at the dollar theater to see The Rock's latest film, "Faster".  To say that "Faster" is a bad film is understating the words "Bad Film".  This movie is flat out terrible.

The Rock plays a character only known as Driver, and that's not his name, that's apparently his role in a bank heist that ended up putting him in prison for ten years.  He and his brother Gary were set up, Gary was murdered, and The Rock, er, Driver, is out to avenge his brother's murder, one by one.  That's really all you need to know, because the plot doesn't get much deeper than that.

This picture in the corner of the screen would
have been better viewing the actual movie. 
Just sayin'.
Oh, well there is some nonsense about a double cross, and a plot twist that I saw coming about thirty minutes into the film, there's Mr. Eko from LOST, there's Carla Gugino looking extremely Carla Guginoey, there's Billy Bob Thornton mailing it in and wearing a horrible hairpiece, and finally, I'd like to put forth a theory that any movie can be made better by inserting Maggie Grace in there somewhere.  She's in this film, and thought I'm not sure why, it helped the scenery a hundred percent. 

Matter of fact, I think that if you know your film is going to be a piece of crap--and I assure you that somewhere in production, the producers looked at each other and said something like "Wow, The Rock or no The Rock, this movie is going blow chunks"--you as a filmmaker have a responsiblity, NAY, a duty to the moviegoing public, at least the male ticket buyers,  to just put a pic of Maggie Grace in her LOST bikini in the corner and leave it there, so we'll have something to occupy our time while the horrible film goes on. 

Let's be real here.  I only saw this because as a guy with a mancrush on The Rock, I try and support his films.  Take out The Rock and insert Jason Statham or Vin Diesel, and I save my money.  However, I can say that I have no problem giving The Rock my buck.   Cause, The Rock rocks. 


One thing I have to keep reminding myself is... this blog is taking off.  Seriously.  Randomly, I look over and another person has become a "follower", or has left a comment making me say, "Who the heck is this?"  Anyway, got some propz from a reader named Nutsy--no knowledge as to whether thats a cute nickname her hubby gave her or a statement on her mental awareness--who looks like she's from the Northeast.  She added me to her own blogroll, so I felt compelled to do the same... her website is called "Miss Gracie: New Adventures on an Old Boat", and its worth a look.  She seems to be like me... she just writes whatever strikes her fancy, and hopes that someone finds it worth a look. 


Wanted to mention another site too, started by a friend of mine, Scotty Latta and a buddy of his... its called "Joust", and its a brilliant idea, really.  The tagline is "Pick Your Battles", and essentially, it lets you compete against other people in contests ranging from sports games to The Bachelor.  I personally don't watch the latter, but I am already signed up for American Idol's league, which will come into play when the Top 24 is revealed.  There is no money involved, there's very little gambling terminology tossed around (parlays and over/unders and such), its just picking your battles.  Find it Joust at JoustNow dot com, or just click here.


I'm flipping channels and stumbling upon a gem.  "School Ties".  Have you ever actually seen this movie?  Its from 1992, and stars Brendan Fraser as David Greene, a teenager in 1955 Pennsylvania, who gets a scholarship to a hoity toity prep school in Massachusetts, St. Matthews.  Problem is, David Greene is Jewish, and St. Matthews is Protestant, so the whole film is all about prejudice and stereotypes... 

Here's Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Chris O'Donnell, along
with Randall Batinkoff, who went from starring in this hit
to... nothing. 

So David Greene is on the football team, the star QB, the reason he was brought to the school, and everyone is cool with him, he becomes popular, gets him a chick on the swim team (Amy Locane, before the vehicular manslaughter) at a nearby chick prep school, and it seems like everything is awesome... until his secret is discovered.   Then everyone turns on him, including implicating him in a big cheating scandal. 

Appearing in this film are young versions of Ben Affleck (playing a guy named Chesty!) and Chris O'Donnell (before Robin) and Anthony Rapp (before "Rent") and Matt Damon (before anything), and its so bad its awesome.  Not sure why they decided a shower fight scene between Fraser and Damon was a good idea (its PG-13, don't worry) but it just adds to the ridiculousness of "School Ties".

If you come across this film close to the beginning, watch it, enjoy it and dig it.  Didn't even need Maggie Grace in the corner (course she was nine at the time...ew...) but toss The Rock in there and you go from ridiculously awesome to ridiculously awesomer. 

Cause The Rock... well, rocks.