Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Friday, February 27, 2009

Is the musical really back?

One of the big numbers at this year's Oscars was a tribute to musicals,where Hugh Jackman not only got to strut his stuff but also declared that "the musical is back!"

With the success of films like Hairspray,Mamma Mia and most recently High School Musical 3(have to admit that I didn't see the first two movies and not in a hurry to do so just yet),you can make a reasonable argument for that statement to be valid.

A strong factor in revived interest in the genre is our sorry state of economic affairs which cries out for some form of escapist relief. A lot of our best musicals came about during the Great Depression,after all:

The ongoing popularity of Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog also backs that up,but there are a few down notes to this beat. Repo:The Genetic Opera had a number of obstacles in it's path,having the theaterical release date pushed again and again only to open up in a now-you-see-now-you-don't limited run.

Another slightly irksome trend is that even musicals are not immune from remake mania. Many of the big Broadway shows these days are re imagined versions of Hollywood big screen hits-Shrek,Billy Elliot and even Spiderman is due to hit the boards by 2010.

Don't get me wrong,I like some of these just fine(Hairspray and Legally Blonde,for example)and while there are still original shows out there,I fear that they're getting eclipsed by the instant publicity boost a movie to stage show has attached to it.

Coming this spring is a musical version of 9 To 5,with new songs for it written by Dolly Parton. That sounds like fun,but can't there be something a little more fresh from the farm be offered up to Broadway audiences(especially given the ticket prices these days)?:

Perhaps I'm being a Negative Nellie;currently in the works is a film version of the hit musical Nine,with Daniel Day Lewis and Nicole Kidman in roles once played by Raul Julia and Anita Morris(actually,Penelope Cruz is playing Morris' infamously sexy character-hope she can sing!).

Other opportunities for original musicals are bound to pop up,so a wait and see policy makes sense for now. It would be wonderful to have some modern equivalents of Fred Astaire,Gene Kelly,Cyd Charisse and Judy Garland to add on to our movie history.

The best is yet to come, as they say,so putting up with all that jazz may be ultimately worth our while:

Thursday, February 26, 2009

American Idol sends us not so Norman Gentle-ly thru the night,Top Chef's Finale winner and a tribute to The Middleman

Part two of the Top Chef Finale had one last knife pull,to help Hosea,Carla and Stefan decide who would get first pick of the special guest sous chefs from TC seasons past.

Hosea drew knife no. one and selected Richard from S4 while Stefan decided to work with Marcel(S2). That left Carla with Casey(S3). The chef were then given their final challenge;to make the best three course meal of their lives.

But,of course,like a M. Night Shyamalan movie,there had to be a last minute twist thrown into the mix:

The chefs were given an appetizer to add to their menu,using one of the fishy ingredients provided by Judge Tom. The privilege of first selection(with the additional bonus of doling out the meat to the other two)was again won by Hosea,who found the tiny baby doll in his piece of king cake(a New Orleans tradition). He took the red fish and gleefully made Stefan have the alligator to work with. Carla took the crab and was pinched by one of them.

All of the appetizers went over well with the gang of twelve who were at the Finale dinner(including Toby Young,Rocco DiSpirito and Fabio!). Carla made a spoonful of shiso soup with crab that was considered to be very flavorful.

Hosea blackened the red fish and served it on a corn cake placed on an upside down shot glass(which looked kind of cool). It had quite the amuse bouche vibe there.

Stefan really pulled one out of his hat with the alligator;he used the tail meat to make a soup with parsley and a bit of puff pastry. Unfortunately,that was his second best highlight of the night.

Stefan's top dish was his pan seared squab with red cabbage,a highly praised dish by all at the dinner table and at Judges' Table. Rocco DiSpirito was particularly taken with it and Judge Gail enjoyed it immensely.

On the other side,Stefan's salmon and halibut carpaccio was bland tasting,due to a frozen fish method that diluted the flavor and his dessert came across as less than desirable. It was basically chocolate ice cream and banana pops,which may have been tasty but very Food 101 in style and substance. Judge Tom really didn't like it at all.

Carla did well with her red snapper with saffron but her meat and potatoes entree crashed and burned(not as badly as her souffle,but we'll get to that in a moment). She went along with Casey's suggestion to sous vide the meat,something Carla out and out said she's not too familiar with,and the strip steak was tough to cut and chew.

She originally intended to make a cheese tart,but yet again,Carla let herself be talked into making a cheese souffle by Casey that wound up being overcooked. Carla forgot to adjust the oven temperature and in the end,sent out a pitiful pear coin with cheese. While she made the right decision in not sending the spoiled souffles out,Carla's lack of confidence and control of her kitchen lead to her loss. A real shame.

Even with a so-so serving of sashimi,Hosea did very well for himself. His scallops with foie gras was the hit of the evening and beloved by everyone.

Hosea ended the meal with a serving of venison with blackberry demi glaze and celery root,which was allowable by the rules(desserts were not mandatory),plus it showed a steady progression of light to heavy in his proteins.

Some people(Toby Young,in particular)insisted that a meal should end with a dessert and by not doing one,Hosea was avoiding doing something he's not good at. In my opinion,it's better to have a deliciously made meat top off a good meal than a half hearted dessert(and I love sweets,folks).

Also,since he wasn't required to make a dessert as his last course,that shouldn't be held against Hosea(Toby Young was getting very anal on that point). Not to mention that venison looked amazing-made me wish I had one of those Wonka Vision machines to teleport that plate to me. I've never eaten venison but this seriously had my mouth watering.

So,Hosea won Top Chef and congrats to him. The guy earned his win fair and square,even with the bickering over ingredients with Stefan during the prep. Next week is the reunion show,which should be fun. Oh,and Hosea? Congrats again but please have the good sense to stay away from Leah. Like the song says,that girl is poison!

American Idol had their second group of twelve sing for the Top Twelve triple slots last night(a bit of a tongue twister there),still using the Billboard Top 100 to select their songs from.

Most of the singers in this round were blander than beige,except for Nick Mitchell. Nick,aka "Norman Gentle",does a bizarre lounge lizard act that is a picture perfect definition of show stopper and not in the best sense of the word. I won't be a bit surprised if he goes thru to the Top Twelve,this guy truly has to be seen to be believed:

As I said,most of the other performances were nothing to write home about,yet I was able to hand out a Sanjaya award this week to Jesse Langseth for her one note version of Bette Davis Eyes. She tried,but such a stylized song is not a good pick for a up and coming singer to showcase her voice(sorry about this being another audio clip,but that's how YouTube rolls these days):



Sad news to report,folks-ABC Family will not be renewing The Middleman for a second season(preferring to make more shows about glossy college students and suburban soap operas about middle class pregnant teenagers instead). There are plans to release the first season on DVD,with a special edition comic book included to tie up the loose ends remaining from the storyline.

This was a fun and funky little sci-fi superheroed theme show with a strong and smart female lead and it's a true loss to TV viewers that another season was denied to us. I'm sorry to see it go and hope that others will discover the many delights that it offered and check out the comic book series that first brought the Middleverse to life:





THE AMAZING RACE: More food themed challenges this week,as one of the Detours had the teams toss pies at one another until they found one with cherry filling. One of the coolest moments,however,was when Mel did the paragliding Road Block. No one else had the patience to wait for the winds to be right but Mel and it paid off well for him and Mike in the end:

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Marching into Spring reading with a few April showers on the way

I'm not sure what the official Groundhog's Day predictions were for the arrival of spring this year but it will come,as certain as taxes and a new season of Celebrity Apprentice(a fate worse than death). While times are tough right now,and may be for a while,we can still find some good old fashioned entertainment between the pages of some of these great books set to bloom at a bookseller near you.


A hot ticket item for April,Beyond Heaving Bosoms:The Smart Bitches' Guide To Romance Novels brings to life all of joy,sass and snark of the popular website,Smart Bitches Love Trashy Novels.

Written by SB founders Candy Tan and Sarah Wendell,the book discusses the everlasting appeal of the romance genre and the love/hate relationship with it that audiences still have today. The approach taken here is smart and funny,which is appreciated by both readers and writers in the field:

Susan Jane Gilman relives a cultural harrowing journey of her own in Undress Me In The Temple Of Heaven. Back in 1986. Susan and a fellow college buddy of hers decided to embark on a global backpacking tour,starting with the newly open to foreigners country of China.

The only guidebooks that they took along were Linda Goodman's Love Signs and the works of Nietzsche ,which didn't fully prepare the gals for the obstacles that awaited them on the streets of Shanghai.

Gilman has written two other well spoke of memoirs,"Hypocrite in a Poufy White Dress" and "Kiss My Tiara",so no doubt that her clever wit and wiles will make this latest account of hers just as compelling to read(March).


The latest chapter in the Kitty Norville series,Kitty Raises Hell,has our favorite werewolf talk show hostess on the defensive as her enemies from Las Vegas start a literal flame war on her home front.

With only a team of paranormal experts who do ghost hunting on TV and a couple of vampire alliances that may have more than one agenda,Kitty and friends must try to quench these deadly demonic fires that threaten more than just their inner circle. I've read this one already and take my word for it,this book is smoking hot with a view to a kill (March):

If you prefer to sample a fresh new series,Jaye Wells has someone she'd like to introduce you to. Sabrina Kane is a product of two very diverse paranormal races,vampire and mage,which makes the Red Headed Step Child of both.

Sabrina's loyalties have usually been with the Dominae,the vampire masters who trained her to be an assassin, but her most recent assignment threatens the balance between both sides which forces her to think about which one deserves her devotion the most.

This book is the first of three and ,with any luck,perhaps we will get more of an insight into this deviously dangerous realm of Jaye Wells. Certainly worth checking out there(April).


Detectives Lomax and Biggs are at it again,taking on the home renovation racket in their new book,Flipping Out by Marshall Karp.

A prominent mystery writer in LA also has a partnership with a house flipping company that turns all too realer than real estate when one of the house flippers dies just before the author's new book(which places a fictional murder in one of their latest makeover showpieces)hits the streets.

The case becomes even more of a sticky wicket,due to the victim having been a ex-wife of a police officer. Figuring out who the real target is gets to be a major priority as the possibility of someone near and dear to them being next on the killer's list is becoming a scarily safe bet. Sounds like another check in the writer's winner column for Karp(April).


Alberto Ferraras' debut novel,B as in Beauty,has a larger than life heroine named Beauty Marie Zavala whose extra weight may be holding up her career advancement.

Instead of taking it on the chin,Beauty fights back with some confidence boosting from a matchmaker dedicated to finding her a rich man who can fully appreciate her inner beauty.

With a stronger self esteem(plus a stronger desire for revenge),Beauty feels ready to take on the world but her heart remains the ultimate stumbling block to her goal of true happiness. Make room on your shelves for another member of The Big Girls Are Beautiful Club,folks(April):

In Jane Hamilton's upcoming book,Laura Rider's Masterpiece,the title lady in question is pleased with her platonic state of affairs in her marriage until her husband Charlie starts up an e-mail correspondence with popular local radio show host Jenna Faroli.

Instead of being jealous,however,Laura makes use of the opportunity to hone her writing skills and teams up with Charlie on a "project" to create some interesting e-mails to Jenna that take on a life of their own. Hamilton is like literary lightning,she never strikes in the same place twice. Her imaginative impact is always electrifying and sparks up the mental doldrums of the day(April).


Seems that Dickens revival I was talking about is very real,indeed. Another fictional take on the author is due out in March,this time from Matthew Pearl,best known for The Dante Club.

In The Last Dickens,the death of Charles Dickens prompts his American publisher,James Osgood, to send trusted clerk Daniel Sand to seek out the unfinished manuscript of the author's final novel,The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

When Daniel is found dead by the London docks,Osgood must travel to England to discover the truth about both the murder and the ending of Drood that is worth many lives to those wanting to conceal it from the world. Talk about the game being afoot here! This romp into the dark Victorian depths of Dickens' England should open a few more doors for others to follow thru(March).

With these recommendations,you should have plenty to amuse yourselves with,folks. For those of you who intend to indulge in Spring Break,just remember that taking along a little brain food in your beach bag is not necessarily a bad thing. Spending your spring break with Bill Moyers(or something just as PBS like) is preferable to waking up at the beach with a mysterious tattoo and babbling about hot dogs,trust me on this:

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Jane Austen's Monster Mash

There has been some serious buzz about the next wave of revived interest in the works of Jane Austen,which some of her more sedate fans may find a tad too intense.

Ever since the announcement for the publication of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith(with co-credit given to Jane Austen)due out sometime this spring, members of the Austen fan community are of two minds about this. Many are looking forward to the book,while others are less than thrilled about such a concept distasteful,to say the least.

Also,this is not the only Austen horror mash-up in the works;Elton John's film company Rocket Pictures is planning to start production on "Pride and Predator",which has those head hunting aliens popping in on the Bennett family and next year,Michael Thomas Ford's Jane Bites Back will be at a bookseller near you.

The novel has Miss Austen herself,as a vampire who faked her own death long ago and now returns to less than polite society to seek bloody vengeance on those who dare to exploit her classic books(plenty of Austen fans would love to do just that!).

As an Austen fan,I think this could be fun. After all,Jane had a sense of humor and loved a good scare(she read plenty of gothic literature in her day). Plus,she enjoyed social satire very much and zombies are excellent vehicles of gruesome humanity for that.

Any viewing of a George Romero living dead flick easily illustrates the folly of blindly following the leader that folks all too willing embrace. Not to mention that just because zombies are on the loose,those country dance scenes that Regency readers adore won't be viable. In fact,they might be more amusing for it:

Pride and Prejudice seems like an easy target but if a horror writer wants to really his/her teeth into an Austen fear fest,Northanger Abbey should be their destination.

The posthumously published book has it's leading lady enthralled by the Gothic novels of the day so much that her imagination runs wild on a visit to a mysterious estate where her potential boyfriend's family resides. The 1986 BBC miniseries overdid that notion and has a strong Hammer films vibe to it while the more recent remake tones it down but still has a couple of eerie fantasy sequences. Back in my bookselling days,I would promote NA to interested new readers as "Jane Austen's version of Scream" and still think it could be delightfully showcased in that fearsomely funny fashion:



The real challenge is matching up the perfect horror metaphor for the rest of the Austen fare. Mansfield Park,for example,might be interesting if you threw vampires into the mix-it would certainly explain the powerful hold the "plain" Henry Crawford has over the Bertram girls(and his sister Mary's allure for the potentially pious Edmund)for one.

Sense and Sensibility would be tricky but supernatural twists can be added. Author Carrie Bebris had some of the minor characters from the original novel be affected by a mystical body switch in Suspense and Sensibility(her Darcy mysteries are great reads,btw)and if you wanted to spice things up a bit,one could easily image Willoughby to be an incubus out to steal more than Marianne Dashwood's heart.

Heck,Elinor could mirror her sister's struggle by battling for Edward Ferrars with that vile succubus Lucy Steele,plus how hard is it to picture the Dashwood's sister in law as a territorial harpy,I ask you?

That leaves Persuasion and Emma,both of which deal with women at opposite ends of life and situation. Since a good portion of Persuasion spends a lot of time and focus on the Navy,a sea faring monster might do very well. A pack of sirens,pirate ghosts or your standard giant squid could be just the ticket for Captain Wentworth to battle while settling his inner demons of doubt regarding rekindling a romance with Anne Eliot.

Emma is the most precocious of the Austen heroines,so witchcraft would suit her matchmaking tendencies rather nicely. Setting up a coven in Highbury wouldn't be too difficult,especially with Mr. Woodhouse's health concerns being either encouraged or swayed by the proper mix of preventive potions.

No matter what the approach is,the possibilities for a unique take on Austen and the gaining of new readers to appreciate her work are worth pursuing. Let us not get too tightly bound up in what the "proper" image of Jane Austen should be and join the zombie march already in progress:

Monday, February 23, 2009

Oscar Night '09 aftermath

Last night's 81st annual Academy Awards show was rather successful on many levels and not just for the lucky few who got to take an Oscar home with them. Right off the bat,Hugh Jackman made a great impression as the host,with moments of witty banter and a opening musical number that ranks up there with any of Billy Crystal's "Oscar,Oscar" bits.

I've heard about Jackman's song and dance prowess(especially on the Tonys)but this was the first time that I got a chance to see him strut his stuff. He needs to make a major musical film-Hollywood people,are you listening? Talking about serious money to be made here,folks! Plus,how cool was it that the last line of his "Oscar Recession" song was "I am WOLVERINE!"?:

Most of the winners were the expected ones and congratulations are in order to Kate Winslet(like Hugh Jackman,I'll rent The Reader),Sean Penn,Penelope Cruz and a extra cheer for Dustin Lance Black for winning Best Original Screenplay for Milk and to A H Rahman for getting both Best Score and Best Original Song from the Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack(take that,Peter Gabriel!).

Some of the proposed new changes to the Oscar ceremony were well done,like the Gang of Five intros for the acting categories. Imagine being nominated for such a big award and having the likes of Sophia Loren,Robert DeNiro or Sir Ben Kingsley sing your praises in front of a live,international audience.

While a few might regret the loss of seeing bits from the nominated films,it was a relief not to sit thru another viewing of "I WANT MY SON BACK!!!"(plus,those emeralds that Jolie were sporting looked larger than life. No doubt that they were real but that rock on her hand alone appeared to be as authentic as a Ring Pop,honestly!).

While I am happy for Sean Penn's win for Milk,I do feel that we were deprived of a great acceptance speech from Mickey Rourke. Rourke more than earned his shot at the gold,not to mention that he wore a picture of his recently departed pooch,Loki,around his neck. How can you not want such a cool guy to not get up and say his piece to a worldwide audience?

They did have the usual number of clip sequences to fill up time(which wasn't wasted at all-the show only ran about 25 minutes over)but one of the best montages of the night was the one for the Best Picture nominees. The editing of scenes from classic Oscar winning films that tied neatly into the themes of the current contenders was beautifully done and a real tribute to the skills of film editors:

The big winner of the night was Slumdog Millionaire,with eight awards that include Best Adapted Screenplay,Best Director and Best Picture. Good to see a cinematic nice guy finish first for once. Slumdog is already on my Netflix queue and will be added on to many others by the end of the day:


Oscar Night of 2009 was rather memorable and gave a good start to the new year of films yet to appear before us. We may be facing some tough times ahead but as always,movies are there to guide us down the harsh edges of the garden path to show us the way towards a better world to come(or at least,distract us from our troubles for a little while).

Perhaps Slumdog Millionaire is more than just the indie favor of the month;it may be the hopeful hint we need, that no matter what woes befall us,there is still the chance of a reasonably happy ending(dance number not included,but bonus points if you get to do one):

Friday, February 20, 2009

Learn more about Slumdog Millionaire by listening to this Q & A

One of the major Oscar contenders this year is Slumdog Millionaire,a rags to riches story that takes place in India and is based on the novel by Vikas Swarup. While the book is still on my waiting list of reading rentals,I have been listening to the audio edition of it and find that the narrative is fascinating,regardless of format.

There are a number of changes from the book to film,such as the name of the lead character(the movie calls him Jamal Malik while the book has him as Ram Mohammad Thomas)but the basic plot structure is the same: a poor young man working as a waiter in Mumbai unexpectedly wins a quiz show that is loosely based on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire .In order to get out of paying the huge cash prize,the show's producers have the young waiter be arrested and tortured by the police to get a confession of cheating out of him:

The young man is rescued from his gruesome fate by a compassionate lawyer(in the movie,it's a police inspector)to whom he tells his life story,which oddly explains how he knew the answers to all of the twelve questions.

His various adventures include being recruited and trained to sing by a crime boss who creates blind beggars out of desperate and abandoned children,working as a household servant for an aging actress and later for an Australian diplomat who has a sideline as a spy and a violent train robbery that ends with a terrifyingly heroic twist. While his acquired knowledge didn't come from more conventional means,there's no denying that Ram does honestly know what he knows:

The audio edition of Q & A is read by Kerry Shale,who won an Audie Award for Best Abridged Fiction for the book and he richly deserved it. Shale's voice work is most impressive,creating the various verbal inflections for each character that seem to speak in rhythmic harmony that ties the story line along,bit by bit,without becoming too similar in style.

The content is abridged,but the listener won't feel as if they're being cheated out of any important details(if anything,this makes you want to read the book all the more)or deprived of the beauty of the narrative. Shale's storyteller skills make the characters and their plight come alive and highlight the talented words of the original author.

While those who have seen the movie first may be surprised about the lack of a love story (something that was expanded upon in the screenplay)and a few other changes,the theme of holding on to your dreams and trusting in fate despite the odds still holds strong. No matter how you experience it,the fever of the favor for this compelling tale is well worth the savoring. Having it read aloud is a bonus,since it is a classic Cinderella story in the best sense of the word:

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Top Chef parties down in the Big Easy,American Idol's first Top Three and Sing along with Sylar!

Top Chef left New York for New Orleans to set up Part One of the season finale. The Final Four met up with Padma and guest judge Emeril Lagasse for a new twist upon the Quickfire Challenge. This time,none of the four had to cook-instead,the last three people that were eliminated(Jeff,Jamie and Leah)got a chance to earn a fifth spot by creating a great crayfish dish.

Jeff won that round,thank goodness(I was worried about Leah popping back in and working her mojo on Hosea again)for his crayfish and grits. However,he was told that in order to make it to the Final Three,he had to be the winner of the Elimination Challenge. The chefs were asked to create two dishes and a cocktail to serve at a masquerade ball for the Krewe of Orpheus(a group that celebrates Mardi Grai in a big way). One of the dishes had to be in the creole style(which is more big city than cajun cuisine,a point that Emeril was making subtly during the announcement).

Judge Gail came back(bye,Toby-it was fun while it lasted!)and she seemed to really like what Jeff made,a fried oyster with sausage(Emeril loved it),crawfish pot de creme and a cucumber mojito.

It looked like Jeff came about this close to taking the win here. I was rooting for him a little,since he was fully focused on his food and didn't go off into several different directions like he had done in the past.

Hosea was on point as well,taking the extra time to prepare the roux for his chicken/duck/andouille gumbo that truly paid off. That deep richness was well appreciated by the crowd and the judges alike;in fact,Hosea nearly ran out of food for the judges to sample.

His pecan encrusted catfish and Hurricane cocktail went over like gangbusters. Emeril was very impressed by the fact that Hosea was able to prevent his fish from drying out,despite having to transport his food from one place to another.

The big winner here was Carla,for her oyster stew and shrimp with andouille beignets.She did have trouble shucking the oysters on her own(turns out that it would've been better to steam those suckers open)but as always,Carla thrived on the potential food disaster and created an amazing dish.

She also served the only non-alcoholic beverage,a cranberry and ginger spritzer,that was a refreshing change and well liked. Carla got the top spot in the Final Three,plus a brand new car.

Hosea joined her,and it was touch and go for Stefan there. His gumbo wasn't as good as Hosea's(which annoyed him to no end)and his apple beignets didn't impress anyone that much either. His whole attitude of "So what,who cares,I'm better than all of you" that he expressed at Judge's Table(not to mention during prep)was rather off putting,to say the least.

Fabio had to pack his knives and go,along with Jeff. The guy did make a huge effort here and you can't say he didn't try to win. Fabio blended Italian with Creole and it had mixed results.

His rabbit and sausage maque choux wasn't spicy enough,the seafood pasta was just okay and the bell pepper cocktail served up with his dishes was insanely sweet. Fabio did get some credit for baking muffuletta bread,an extra dish there,but that wasn't enough to keep him around. Team Europe is now over and my only regret is that Stefan wasn't shown the door. Fabio had just as many ego issues as he did,however,I'd rather put up with some warm hearted arrogance with a sense of humor than cold disdain and sneering.

Next week is Part Two of the finale,and it looks like Stefan and Hosea may finally have a throw down in the kitchen! Ah,you Bravo promos,how you tease me so!

More fight the power business on Heroes,as Claire saves a comic book store clerk with Aquaman abilities from being snatched up by HRG,Hiro and Ando fulfill their destiny in India while still remaining friends and Nathan managed to dodge a bullet metaphorically this time ,thanks to Tracy's icy escape attempt(that gal really needs to pump up her freezing skills in a big way).

Sylar is still on his road trip with Luke,despite the chance he had to ditch the kid during a another government attempt to nab him at a roadside restaurant. His main reason for retrieving him,I suspect,was practical;after all,Luke knew where Sylar was heading and wouldn't have stood up under interrogation. However,he didn't kill him(a viable option)so I guess even Sylar can't resist having a fanboy around.

A nice bit of wit was having Sylar click on the car radio and the song that was on being "Psycho Killer" by the Talking Heads. Talk about your appropriate personal theme songs here!:

Speaking of theme songs,American Idol had it's first round of twelve singing for a spot in the Ultimate Top 12(this new set-up is getting more elaborate by the minute)with the Billboard Top 100 as the selection center for their tunes.

Congrats to Alexis Grace,Michael Sarver and Danny Glokey for nabbing the first chairs in this round. I was hoping that Anoop would be joining them,but then again maybe he'll show up in the wild card show(hopefully Tatiana won't be there. Is it just me or was that pathetic of the judges to practically beg her to act wacky? Shows why she was really chosen to be there,if you ask me).

Even with this extra long contestant voting period,it's not too soon to give out the first Sanjaya award(for worst performance)of the season. That honor goes to Jackie Tohn,for her awful rendition of Elvis Presley's "A Little Less Conversation."

This wasn't an easy choice,since Casey Carlson's version of the Police classic,"Every Little Thing" was criminal and Stevie Wright going all wrong with her Taylor Swift song. Regardless,Jackie and her flat footed,heavy handed take on such a lively number was unforgivable:




THE AMAZING RACE: Season 14 started off with another mixed batch of teams that included a pair of brother and sister lawyers,a mother with her deaf son who only uses sign language and screenwriter/actor Mike White(School of Rock,Chuck & Buck)with his dad.

The first big challenge of the race took place in Switzerland,where teams had to carry 200 pounds of cheese down a steep and slippery hill. I don't know which was funnier,those wooden backpack carriers given to each team that collapsed faster than a house of cards during a hurricane or that the locals were literally laughing their asses off at the cheesy shenanigans: