Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Idol Thoughts - Top 10

I haven't said much about the latest contestants who have been voted off, because there hasn't been much to say...although both of them were probably more talented than some of the ones left, they were both inconsistent and neither had a chance at winning, so whatevs.

I will, however, once again stand by what I've said for a while now: I would be shocked if a female ever wins this show again. That belief is solely based on the voting habits of adults vs. the voting habits of teenage girls. Even this year, when all we heard was that it was a "girl's year", and everybody (including me) was saying that there are at least 6-7 of the top 12 ladies who are better than any of the we are in the Top 10, and there are six guys and four females left. Two of the guys (Aaron and Tim) are still here based completely on the fact that they have the teenybopper and old lady vote...there can be no other plausible explanation.

The only female that I believe has a shot is Crystal...but she is also in that place where we have seen others (Daughtry, Melinda, etc) go home from before. So we will see...

On with the show!

1) Siobhan Magnus - "Through the Fire": Taking on Chaka Khan is always a big risk...that's one of the biggest voices in history, to channel my inner Dawg (we all have one). But when I heard that Siobhan was doing this song, my thought was that if any of these contestants could handle it vocally, it would be my girl Siobhan.

Boy, was I wrong.

This...was...awful. Started out really nasally, and then she pushed way too hard, lost the pitch, and never really found it again. And even her trademark scream, when surrounded by so much awfulness, just comes off as desperate rather than triumphant.

That just made my heart hurt.

2) Casey James - "Hold On, I'm Comin'": He's right...this is right in his wheelhouse. This guy, to me, keeps getting better. He's always been great on the guitar, but I haven't been a big fan of his voice. But when he's able to do big, rollicking numbers like this one, his voice sounds much better. This would have been either a great opener or show-ender...wonder why they put him in the dreaded 2-hole?

If I were him, I would NOT do what Kara told him to do and switch back to acoustic...that's just going to expose the vocal shortcomings that he has really done a nice job of compensating for.

3) Michael Lynche - "Ready for Love" : Well, he still has a great voice...that's been established. And the guitar cut down on a lot of the cheesiness. I still just don't like the vibe I get from him while he's singing...I think he crosses the line from confidence to arrogance. And I don't really know why that irritates me, but it does.

When he's not singing he comes off as a lot more likable, so it's not that I think he's a bad guy...I guess I just don't really connect with him.

This was a typical performance from him, though...great vocal, if a little overdone with the runs and tricks.

4) DiDi Benami - "What Becomes of the Broken Hearted": Looks great, as usual. I just don't like this style for her...the old fashioned, torch song thing. Her vocal style causes her to be just "around" the pitch a little bit, and it's more noticeable on stuff like this. I mean, she sounded OK, except when she tried to go for the really big note at the end it just sounded out of place for her. It's just that, for some reason, I don't think she wants to be the thing she's really good at. That stinks, because when she's good, she's great.

What's not great is her whining to the judges about not being an R&B singer. Honey, please...that particular argument hasn't held water on this show for at least the last two seasons. If you are not an R&B singer, then pick an R&B song from the list and sing it in what your style is. Unfortunately for her, she has no idea what that is anymore.

And, Ryan, good grief...she DOESN'T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT. He was obviously trying to get her to go to the "Dead Friend" place, and kudos to her for refusing to go down that road with him.

5) Tim Urban - "Sweet Love": Usher tells him to try and project that love at us...apparently in Tim's world, love equals abject terror, just like every other "emotion" he tries to display while singing.

This is so boring.

Too late. Sorry, LOST is waiting for me at the end of this...I have no time for somebody that I will undoubtedly be seeing more than enough of on my television once he becomes the star of another Disney Channel show that my daughters will zone out in front of.

6) Andrew Garcia - "Forever": Dude, Andrew....what is going on with that hair? He has a serious bouffant going on now.

Well, he finally got back to doing what he does well...and it still wasn't all that great. For him, it was probably his best performance (including the good bust vastly overrated "Straight Up" in Hollywood), but it was a little boring, and certainly not challenging vocally.

Much like I said about Katie a couple of weeks ago...this is exactly what he should be doing, he's probably doing it to the best of his ability...and it's just not good enough.

7) Katie Stevens - "Chain of Fools": This was fine. She has a very good voice, and she sounded pretty good on this...I just always feel like I'm watching a High School talent show when I watch her. And she is not believable as the "temptress with attitude" that she was trying to pull off tonight.

She really has a beautiful smile, but we never see that when she's singing...she is very robotic and, as Simon put it, "cold". She will probably learn to overcome that as she gets more experience, but she's not there yet.

8) Lee Dewyze - "Treat Her Like a Lady": Loved this. Loved the arrangement, and this was probably his best vocal performance so seems like he is really benefiting from the vocal coaches that he is getting to learn from, as he is just getting better and better pitch-wise.

Lee is becoming sort of like Kris Allen was for me at this point last season...I always said Kris may not be the best of the bunch, but his album is probably the one I'm most likely to buy. I'm starting to feel the same way about Lee, which is a HUGE turnaround since my first impression of him was that his face was in serious need of punching.

9) Crystal Bowersox - "Midnight Train to Georgia": She's just too good for this show, honestly. This was yet another great performance by the most "ready" performer I think they have ever had on this show. The beginning piano part was a little disconnected, as she was concentrating a little hard on getting the piano part right, but once she stood up she really connected with the song emotionally and just put on a great show, as always.

10) Aaron Kelly - "Ain't No Sunshine": No. Unh-UNH. This is one of my favorite songs of all time, but it is a song that requires some emotional grit and gravity, and you can't get that from a toddler.

Final Thoughts:
Decent show, but for me personally the whole show was performed under a cloud of Siobhan's shocking just threw me off the rest of the show, because I was too busy worrying about her.

I did like the backstage stuff they did last night, but it didn't help me to see Siobhan basically collapse in the corner once she got back to the green room.

The only consolation for me is that if she DOES end up with the least votes (which I think is about a 50-50 chance), I am almost positive that the judges will go ahead and use their save. The only thing that would keep them from doing that is the desire to save it for Crystal, but I don't think anybody thinks she will be in the bottom before the Top 5, and at that point they can't use it anymore anyway.

Top 3:
1) Lee
2) Crystal
3) Casey

Bottom 3 (Tonight ONLY):
10) Aaron
11) Tim
12) (::sob::) Siobhan

Who SHOULD go home: Tim (based on the season to date)
Who WILL go home: Probably Katie...if Siobhan is at the bottom, then I hope it's NOBODY.

Super quick LOST thoughts...recap to come later

Hey, did you guys know V came back last night? Grrrrr.....that was annoying, and I think it backfired on ABC. I've seen LOTS of people on message boards say that they would never watch V again after that little stunt.

Anyway, my quick thoughts on the episode:

- It was great to get some of the humor back in this episode...more focus on Miles, Hurley, Frank, and Ben definitely lightened the mood.

- The Sideways storyline was well done...I still love Keamy (at least Sideways Keamy), and it was cool to see Mikhail again. I know I'm not the only one who knew that he was going to take a bullet in the eye, right?

Good, emotional, well acted story for Jin and Sun....but I am still distracted by the Sideways stories more than I am engaged by them, especially when I am enjoying the on-Island stuff as much as I was in this episode.

- Loved the standoff on the beach between Smocke and Widmore, especially the line about a "brilliant man" who once told Locke that a war was coming to the Island...that brilliant man was, of course, Widmore himself back in "The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham".

- DESMOND!!! Glad to have you back, brutha!

Although....I don't think I want to know how he got the nickname "The Package".

- Still LOVE the new Jack...this is the most likeable he has been in years. My theory is it's because he's been away from Kate for a couple of days.

- Overall, a good episode that will probably be judged more harshly than it should since it is following last week's brilliance. I thought they moved the on-Island story forward at a pretty good clip, and the Sideways story was entertaining, if still meaningless to me at this point.

Be back later this week with the full recap, and I haven't forgotten that I promised a full Recon recap as well!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Thoughts on LOST: Ab Aeterno

First, a housekeeping note...I will be doing a full recap of Recon, just not sure when. Hopefully this week. I want to have it for the sake of completeness, if nothing else.

This week was truly one of the great LOST episodes...storytelling with an emotional punch, deepening of the mythology, and even (::gasp!::) some actual answers that the kids today seem to be so fond of. Let's get to it...

- We open on the scene from last season's finale with Jacob visiting Illana in the Russian hospital. He is definitely wearing gloves...I'm guessing so as not to touch her, but more on that later.

By the I want an Illana backstory episode.

- Two things about their conversation: First, it's hard to tell, what with her being covered in bandages and all, but it seemed to me that Illana was a little disappointed or hurt when discussing the candidates...almost like she either feels she should have been one, or maybe she was one and is not anymore.

Second, Jacob says they are the six remaining candidates, implying that they are the last ones. At first, I wasn't sure if these would just be replaced by a new batch if they were all to be somehow disqualified, or if this means that we are nearing what Jacob said in the S5 finale: "It only ends once". Based on what we now know to be the name of the final episode (available all over the interwebz if you want to find it...I won't post it here because some view episode names as spoilers), I think the second explanation may be the more likely.

- Back to the campfire...Sun tells Jack that Illana said that she was a candidate. That's actually not true...Illana said that she didn't know which Kwon she was supposed to be protecting. Not sure if it means anything, just thought I'd throw it out there.

- When we get back to Illana's flashback, she is no longer bandaged, but even more telling is that she has no scars. I think the gloves came off, literally...she didn't heal that way naturally. Maybe the healing power of the Island is manifest in Jacob?

- And then, THIS happened.

- Oh, jeez...the whole "Oh NOES, we are in HELL!" theory rears its ugly head again. I love how even Jack seems to be thinking to himself, "Come on, n00b...that theory was debunked, like, four whole SEASONS ago!"

- Hey, Miles is there...not that we could tell from the script. (grrr.....)

Sorry, that was probably my only complaint about this one. :-)

- I keep forgetting that some of our main characters still don't know about "Locke". Was Jack the last one to know? Does Hurley know yet?

- Ben thinks Richard doesn't know anything.

This is as good an opportunity as any to say that my belief that Ben was unknowingly working for the Man in Black all along is getting stronger as we go.

Also...I'm starting to think that the fact that we still don't have a name for the Man in Black is significant.

-Richard Alpert is on a horse!

- Not much to analyze in a lot of these flashback scenes, other than to say that Nestor Carbonell BROUGHT IT in this episode. He hasn't been given too much to work with during the course of the show, but he definitely took advantage of the spotlight in this one.

- Was I the only one who was expecting Isabella to tell him, "We'll always be together. In this world....or the next"?

- Apparently, the Hippocratic Oath was not widely adhered to in 1867.

"Get some blankets! No, Dummy, they're not for you! You're dripping water on my floor!"

- This guy may be a jerk, but he's also a brilliant doctor. He can apparently diagnose illnesses and determine what medicines to use from miles and miles away, without ever even looking at the patient!

- Ummm...I don't think that servant liked the Doctor very much. He totally let his murderer run right past him without even attempting to stop him.

- Apparently, he did call the cops, though. How did they get there so fast? Didn't Richard have a pretty hefty head start? And how did they know were to go? Was this policeman working for Jacob?

I demand ANSWERS. Preferrably delivered by the Hurley Bird.

- When Richard is interrupted by the Worst Priest EVAH (well...maybe not the worst. I'll have to ask his altar boys), he is reading in Luke 4. This chapter contains three separate accounts: 1) Jesus being tempted in the wilderness by Satan; 2) Jesus going into the Temple on the Sabbath and making one of His first proclamations of who He is - the promised Messiah; and 3) Jesus casting out demons and healing the sick who were brought to Him.

I have actually made reference to that first account in an earlier recap, and I think it is the one that most applies to what we have seen on LOST this season...the devil (Smocke) tempting someone (Jesus in the Bible, or any of many that we have seen so far this season) by offering them EXACTLY what they want or need, if only they will do what he asks.

- The priest won't absolve him of his sins...but he WILL save his life by selling him to a Jonas Whitfield, who works for a Captain Magnus Hanso. For those of you who don't share the certain level of obsessive sickness it takes to truly follow this show: Magnus Hanso, besides being the captain of the Black Rock, is also the grandfather of Alvar Hanso. Alvar is one of the founders of the Dharma Initiative, who supposedly came to the Island due to its "unique properties" in order to do their research on how to prolong the existence of mankind. There is also a theory that Alvar didn't really care about the Dharma Initiative "research"...he was just looking for the Island because he was looking for his grandfather.

- Some cool stuff in the shipwreck scene...we got some not-terrible CGI (which is rare for this show when it comes to scenes on the ocean), and we got answers to two mysteries that have existed for years: what happened to the rest of the 4-toed statue, and how did the Black Rock get a mile inland?

Just a side note, since I don't think it really matters that much...I questioned back when I did the season 5 finale recap whether or not that boat that Jacob and MIB saw coming was actually the Black Rock, and at first I thought that this was confirmation that it wasn't. After all, that boat was coming in on calm seas in the middle of the day. But then I remembered that almost every single time we have seen a plane/boat/helicopter come to the Island, it has been accompanied by a dramatic shift in time of day and (often) weather. So, yeah...I think that was probably the Black Rock we saw in the S5 finale.

- I would say that Jonas buys into the same belief about mankind as MIB..."If I free you, it will only be a matter of time before you kill me". How about: "If I free you, maybe we can work together to build shelter, find food and water, and survive as long as we can"? I guess that's more of a Jacob thing...

- Yeah, that boar was totally snacking on the dead dude. Dis-GUS-ting.

- was that really Isabella that Richard saw and was talking to, or was it Smokey? My first thought was that it was definitely Smokey, and that he had pulled the memory of her from Richard when he "scanned" him. It was all part of his plan to get Richard to kill Jacob in order to see her again.

But, when I watched it again, I noticed that you could hear the sounds of the monster outside the ship while she was still talking to Richard. Have we ever seen Smokey be in two places at once?

For that matter, have we ever seen Smokey take on the body of someone whose body was not on the Island? Possibilities could be Dave, but that's never been confirmed....or Ben's mom, who would probably have been Smokey in my "Ben was unknowingly working for MIB the whole time" theory.

Anyway...I'm sticking to Richard's vision of Isabella being Smokey. But I do think Hurley was talking to the REAL dead Isabella.

- I've seen this mentioned in other places, but like a lot of fans of Stephen King's "The Stand", I thought about Randall Flagg releasing Lloyd from prison when MIB showed up. Lone survivor of a disaster, starving, at the point of death, is rescued by a mysterious Man in Black who agrees to release him in exchange for his loyalty and sworn obedience.

- Titus Welliver and Terry O'Quinn sound so much alike that there were times when we couldn't see MIB's face that I thought they may have dubbed Terry's voice in for some of the lines.

Again, I don't know if it was on purpose or not, but it was really cool to see how many of the mannerisms and speech patterns of Terry O'Quinn' s Smocke character were nearly duplicated by Titus Welliver.

- For a split second, I started thinking that Jacob really was the Devil, partially because MIB used almost the same instructions with Richard as Dogen did when he sent Sayid after Smocke. But at this point, I think we have to look at the body of evidence and clues that the writers have given to us from the very beginning of the series...Jacob is the good guy. MIB was just using what he knew about Richard (specifically, his religous views and fear of Hell/Satan) to manipulate him, just as we have seen him do with every other character he has come in contact with, either in this body or Smocke's.

- "The Devil betrayed me. He took my body. He took my humanity". That's interesting...I can't wait to see more of the history between these two. Because now I am picturing a scenario in which Jacob and MIB were both mortal men, and when the time came for them to become immortal (however that happened), Jacob somehow tricked MIB and trapped him as a Smoke Monster who can only inhabit the bodies of the dead, while he got to go around healing people and learning kung fu. Just like the Jacob of the Bible tricked his brother Esau out of his inheritance. Hmmmm.....

- MIB also uses the words "My friend" about 15 more times.

- Jacob beats the living crap out of Richard. Apparently, Mark Pellegrino (who plays Jacob) is a legitimate black belt, and there is a pretty funny story on Jorge Garcia's podcast this week. You can check it out HERE if you would like.

- This seems like a very different Jacob than we have seen in the past. He was also shot from a really weird angle a couple of from underneath, at an odd angle, like a villain in an old movie. I think that was intentional, but I don't know what it means yet.

- I also think the image of Richard being "baptized" was intentional, as well.

- Jacob just told us what the Island is. IS THAT ENOUGH ANSWERS FOR YOU?!?

Seriously...I was watching this, and when he got done, I was actually kind of sad. Not because of the explanation (because I thought that was pretty cool)'s just that it really brought it home to me again how close we are to the end.

So the Island is like a barrier that is keeping this massive Evil contained. So, I wonder if the Sideways Timeline is the world if the barrier is removed (since it is at the bottom of the ocean, an apparent victim of the stupid Jughead plan)? I haven't noticed any more inherent Evil in that world, have you?

MIB believes all of mankind is inherently evil, and will always kill, fight, destroy, etc., while Jacob believes that, if left alone, some people will voluntarily choose right over wrong. He now wants Richard to be his "intermediary" between himself and the people he brings to the Island, to try and guide them down the path of righteousness, so to speak. SO many Biblical parallels there, from John the Baptist, to the Old Testament prophets, to the New Testament disciples, all the way to Jesus Christ himself. I'm sure there are parallels in other religions and stories, but coming from a Christian perspective myself, those are naturally the ones that jump out at me.

- Again, the question arises as to how "good" Jacob is, even if he is supposed to be the "good" guy. He has brought who knows how many people to the Island to take part in this little Morality Game that he and MIB are playing, only to let them die with no involvement on his part. Just on Richard's boat, everybody but Richard died...first by shipwreck, then by sword, and then by Smokey...all while Jacob presumably sat back and watched. Again with Flight 815, and again with Ajira 316...not to mention the Dharma Purge, etc, etc.

Another question...has this Jacob always been "the" Jacob? Since we are talking about a replacement, it makes me wonder if this is the only incarnation. I also wonder whether whomever the "new" Jacob is will do a little better job at keeping folks alive.

- Great conversation between Jacob and Richard, and we get yet ANOTHER answer...Richard is ageless because he asked for it. Jacob can't bring Isabelle back and he can't absolve him of his sins (another reason why he is not "God" in this story...just a god-like entity) since Richard doesn't want to go to Hell, and he believes he will if he dies, he never wants to die.

Boy, those "Checklist Fans" are busy know, the ones who are watching this season with a checklist of questions that they want answered? Rather than just enjoying the show for what it is and maybe using their own imagination and logic to fill in whatever blanks they feel are left?

Anyway...tonight we have learned why Richard doesn't age (as well as the rest of his backstory: what his role is, etc), what happened to the rest of the statue, how the Black Rock ended up in the middle of the Island....oh, and WHAT THE ISLAND IS.

Did I miss any?

- Hey, is it stupid of me that I just now made the Black Rock connection, when Richard handed MIB the white rock?

- Wow...I would have expected that necklace to be a LOT further underground after 140 years. Ah, the magic of Tee-Vee.

- Isabella's return and reunion with Richard was a great scene...not nearly on par with The Constant from an emotional standpoint, but only because we are not as familiar with the characters.

Did you notice that Hurley stopped "translating" about halfway through the conversation? I think Richard could hear her himself at that point. Good stuff.

- Terry O'Quinn has mastered some evil looks this season, hasn't he?

- Another awesome scene with Jacob and MIB at the much foreshadowing of stuff that we have already seen, and also just raising the stakes for the battle that is still going to play out.

Overall just a brilliant, brilliant episode. Fantastic writing, acting, and direction, with an avalanche of mythology to boot.

Like I said in my initial thoughts...I think this episode is going to be the tipping point for the season. We are in the home stretch now, and I am fully anticipating being blown away by every episode, either mentally or emotionally.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Idol Thoughts - Top 11

Like I said in my earlier LOST actual job is seriously infringing on my blogging time, so this may be a little more abbreviated than normal.

Wow, Miley Cyrus as a MENTOR? This should be....interesting.

Theme is Billboard #1 songs, which means that, once again, contestants have a HUGE selection of songs, including (I'm assuming) some more current stuff. So why only Katie Stevens decides to do a song from this decade is a real mystery to me.

1) Lee Dewyze - "The Letter": Man, he is still really nervous. It's getting better, but you can see him TRYING to make it better...he's still not comfortable up there. As for the actual performance, it's very typical Lee: great tone, slightly modified arrangement, pitch problems like WOAH, and a performance I will probably forget about in about 10 minutes.

Two things I noticed after he finished: One, the crowd freaking LOVES him. I don't know if that's a product of going first when the crowd is still amped up or what, but they were freaking out.

Second, Lee made a point of thanking the band as they went offstage...that was very cool. I do like the guy now, which is a big turnaround from when we first met him, but he is just cannon fodder at this point.

2) Paige Myles - "Against All Odds": HA!! Miley called you pitchy! Dang, that's gotta hurt.

The thing is, though...she's RIGHT. Oof, this was awful. This was like a really BAD pageant performance.

After that devastating criticism from the judges, though, I will bet she stays for at least another week due to sympathy votes. Plus, the guilt that we all feel for sending almost all the other minority contestants home in the first three weeks.

3) Tim Urban - "Crazy Little Thing Called Love": Wow. I only thought it couldn't get any worse. This was an awkward, desperate, Taylor-Hicks-level embarrassment.

Let's just move on.

4) Aaron Kelly - "I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing": Well, I'll say this for him...he knows his strengths. Stand there, look cute, sing an overly earnest love song, and stare at the camera with big puppy dog eyes. It doesn't hurt that this was by far his best vocal performance so far....which is weird, since he apparently has the Black Plague. He did absolutely nothing with the arrangement, and this was straight out of the American Idol Season 2 playbook, but it will obviously be enough for him to stick around.

5) Crystal Bowersox - "Me and Bobby McGhee": Oh, thank God. I need a palate cleanser.

This was, of course, awesome. One of the things I love most about Crystal (and Siobhan, when she's good...more on that in a minute) is her ability to arrange her songs in a way that they feel like a complete song, even though she only gets 90 seconds. This one had a definite beginning, middle, and end, and that's hard to do in such a short time.

Voice is great, stage presence is awesome, blah, blah, blah. And I loved the interaction with the judges and her and Ryan's little pow-wow on the magic carpet. Talent is great, but personality goes a long way. Just ask Jules Winnfield.

6) Michael Lynch - "When a Man Loves a Woman": I'm going to be a little biased here, because I think this is one of the greatest love songs ever written, but I really enjoyed this. He wasn't nearly as corny this week as he has been in the past, and whatever problem I have ever had with him have never had anything to do with his voice. Dude can SING. This was my very favorite performance of his so far.

And he didn't seem nearly as arrogant after this one either...I'm sure that is an isolated incident.

7) Andrew Garcia - "Heard it Through the Grapevine": Miley gives him the HORRIBLE advice to put down his guitar. He is completely lost without it, and it showed again in this performance. This is TERRIBLE.

Wait....did he throw in a MOONWALK? We'll have to check the tape, because if he did, then I am totally in.

8) Katie Stevens - "Big Girls Don't Cry": Thank goodness it wasn't the Four Seasons song of the same title...Simon probably would have burned her at the stake.

This was really weird...this was somehow both her best performance and her worst vocal simultaneously. She was flat the entire first half, and sharp the entire second half. But this was her smartest song choice so far, and she did seem to loosen up and enjoy herself. If she could have stayed on pitch I might have said this could be a game changer for it is, it ended up being just OK.

9) Casey James - "Power of Love": Another song I am predisposed to love, seeing as how I have seen Back to the Future about 650 times, and wanted to go watch it again as soon as this song was over.

I loved the band in the balcony, I loved Ricky Minor jammin' it out on the front of the stage, the vocal was one of his best so far, and he did manage to move around the stage a little more. The only downside was that he did not change the arrangement at ALL, other than the fact that he eliminated the bridge, which I think was a made the song way too repetitive. But on a night like this, this was definitely one of the better performances.

10) DiDi Benami - "You're No Good": Well, she LOOKS fantastic. And I still love her voice. But the judges were right on...this was not her. Now is not the time to be showing "different sides" to yourself as an artist. Now is the time to do what you do, and do it well (see Bowersox, Crystal...and even Kelly, Aaron this week). This was just a bad song choice, sung well...I hope it's good enough for her to stick around, because when she's on her game she is one of my favorites.

11) Siobhan Magnus - "Superstition": Fave part of the whole night :"I think it's wicked cool that Miley Cyrus says my voice has swagger." :-)

This was good...but it was probably my least favorite performance of hers so far. I felt like most of the song was just her killing time until she could get to the last 20 compare her to someone that she gets compared to a lot already, it was something that Adam used to do sometimes last year, too, especially toward the end of the season. Again, it was still really good...but she runs the danger of becoming predictable, and that is definitely NOT a place she needs to end up.

Final thoughts:
Actually, Miley wasn't nearly the disaster I thought she might be. Other than the horrible advice she gave to Andrew, I agreed with a lot of the things she said. And the contestants seemed to enjoy her, so I guess it was a success. Further proof that I have no idea what I'm talking about most of the time.

I haven't said anything about this yet....but good grief, Kara needs to keep her hands off Simon. It's become a distraction, and it's sad because it's distracting from what I think has been a MUCH improved judges panel this season....even Randy only gets the automatic FF about half the time, and that's a huge difference from the last couple of seasons.

Top 3: Crystal, Siobhan, Casey (followed VERY closely by Big Mike and DiDi)
Bottom 3: Tim, Paige, and Andrew (UNLESS he did in fact moonwalk...if so, replace him with Katie).

Who SHOULD go home: Paige
Who WILL go home: Andrew

Super quick LOST thoughts...recap to come later

OK, first of all...I feel really bad about not doing a recap of last week's episode, so there may be one coming later this week.

Second...I hate it when my actual job interferes with my blogging schedule...what's up with THAT? But since I am ridiculously snowed under, these quick thoughts are going to have to be extraordinarily quick today...

- Sort of pertaining to last week, and I will address it if I do end up recapping "Recon"...I don't think Smokey/Man in Black has a "Mother". I think he was tapping into Locke's memories, like we've seen him do before, to come up with the best way to persuade Kate to trust him and join his team. He always knows the best way to get to people, and with Kate it's her "maternal" instincts towards Aaron.

- Kudos to my baby brother...Josh first told me two years ago, in a quote I have used often since, that "if we ever find out what the story is with Richard Alpert, we will know what the story is with the Island". Well, we now know Richard's story, and in the same episode we were told a huge chunk of the Island's story as well: The Island is the cork that keeps the malevolent evil that is Smokey bottled up.

One thing I will have to listen for on rewatch...Jacob didn't say that the wine in the bottle represented ALL the evil in the world, right? Just AN evil? Because there is obviously still evil going on in the LOST off-Island universe, even with Smokey bottled up.

- So...did Jughead loosen the "cork" when it sank the Island? Is there more malevolent evil in the Sideways world? Not that I have seen so far....I guess we're still relatively clueless about the relevance of the X timeline.

- I don't know if Titus Welliver (the Man in Black) and Terry O'Quinn have been working together, but their mannerisms and speech patterns were remarkably similar. If that was on purpose, then it's a very nice touch.

- Nestor Carbonell finally got an episode to showcase his formidable acting talents, and proceeded to knock it out of the park.

And, if anybody can find a .gif of Richard's laugh when Illana asked him what to do next, I would be eternally grateful.

Overall, this was a tremendous episode that combined great acting and story telling with a hefty dose of "answers" and show mythology. I was telling a friend of mine the other day (hi, Amanda!) that I felt like this season has been similar to chugging up that first hill on a roller coaster...I started with a ton of excitement, but as we've continued to climb I'm just ready to start the ride already. We are now halfway through this final season, and I get the feeling that this episode was our first peek over that hill as the coaster starts its descent into what will almost certainly be a wild, thrilling, and (hopefully) satisfying ride!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Update on LOST recap

Ummm....yeah, about that. I went back and rewatched it, and found that I liked the episode even LESS upon rewatch. Obviously, a mediocre LOST episode is still better than most television, so I was entertained...but I just did not like the writing in this episode. Very clunky dialogue, some awkward scenes (like the whole "undercover sting" operation at the beginning...I agree with what I saw somewhere else: It was so unbelievable that I thought maybe Sawyer and Miles were re-making "Expose" in this reality).

Anyway...combine my less than enthusiastic response to this episode with some real-life issues that had to be dealt with this weekend, and it adds up to there probably not being a full recap of this one. I may go back and do one later, but for now I guess I said all I really want to say about it in my initial writeup from last week.

This week should be better. For the spoiler-phobic folks out there (which I am, too, but I accidentally overheard something this week), I won't tell you why...but suffice to say that I am REALLY looking forward to this week's episode.


Friday, March 19, 2010

A nice start to my Friday morning...

I'm going to break one of my personal rules regarding this site and actually link to an article from the AJC sports section...

This is a great story about sportsmanship, generosity, and true love of competition, and the fact that it involves my alma mater (SCHS '92, BABY) definitely caused it to strike an emotional chord with me.

Oh, and also...South Cobb has a lacrosse team? Who knew?

Anyway...check it out HERE.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Idol Thoughts - Top 12

First, my thoughts on last week's eliminations...the problem for me wasn't so much who went home, since I don't really think any of the eliminated had a legitimate chance at winning the whole thing. The problem is who it left us with. I have very little interest in hearing Paige, Katie, Tim, or Aaron ever again, and now I will be hearing at least one of them for the next four weeks. That does not make me happy.

Plus, if you read my earlier LOST post, you know I was pretty cranky let's knock this baby out, short and probably-not-so-sweet...

1) Michael Lynch - "Miss You": This was a typical Big Mike, if more than a bit corny at times. The voice is really good in some places, but he is losing the pitch on the ends of some of the phrases, probably due to all the bouncy-bouncy "dance" moves. I think this is obviously good enough to stick around, but there was absolutely nothing memorable about it. As usual, however, he is EXTREMELY proud of himself when he's done.

I disagree with Simon when he calls it "desperate", although I definitely agree that it was corny. "Desperate", to me, implies that he was doing something outside of what he would normally do in an attempt to gain more votes or cover up some shortcoming...I didn't see that. This is just what Big Mike is...a very large, above average cruise ship singer.

Quick aside here...that Ryan/Simon exchange was AWKWARD. Who peed in Ryan's Wheaties this morning?

2) Didi Benami - "Playin' With Fire": Love this girl's voice, and I loved the first half of this arrangement. Didn't love the second half as much, but I think that was because she spaced on some of the lyric and then over-compensated for a couple of lines by pushing the vocal before she got back on track. She still has a tendency to oversing some of the big notes, but I really liked this.

3) Casey James - "It's All Over Now": He's from Cool, Texas. Of course he is.

I thought this was probably his best performance of the competition. When he sings slower, ballad-y type stuff than you really start to notice how thin his voice is. On these type songs, the vocal just keeps on moving and the lack of strength isn't as noticeable. Plus, he's obviously very good on the guitar and handles himself well. This was a performance that I was not wanting to end, and you can't get a much better compliment than that.

The only thing really going against him as far as his performances is his lack of mobility. In order for him to really use the whole stage like they are wanting him to, he's going to have to unplug his guitar, and I just don't think he's comfortable with that. I am trying to remember if anybody on this show has ever used a headset mic so that they could move around the stage and still play their guitar...Bucky Covington, maybe?

4) Lacey Brown - "Ruby Tuesday": On the nights that DiDi does well, it is never going to be good for Lacey to go on after her, and this is one of those nights. She was really struggling with the pitch in the first chorus, the arrangement was really boring (and the song is boring anyway), and then I agree with Ellen that it didn't make sense for her to sit down once she got to the "big" part of the song.

I just don't know what to make of this girl...sometimes I really like her, but this was just not good.

5) Andrew Garcia - "Gimme Shelter": Well, at least he can't do a girl's song this week...

Like I said last week, I'm pretty much done with Andrew, and this didn't help. He was obviously uncomfortable without his guitar, throwing out a bunch of awkward arm movements before finally throwing in some stand work. His voice is just not strong enough for this song, I don't think...the vocal was OK, but there was not the "oomph" that I think this song needs. And forget any kind of emotional connection to the song...he might as well have been singing "Hit Me Baby, One More Time".

6) Katie Stevens - "Wild Horses": Oh, she's from Connecticut...that explains a lot, actually.

See, here's her problem: this is exactly what she needs to be doing...and yet it's not that good. Very old fashioned, very "Season 2 American Idol". And when she got to her "glory note" towards the end, she noticeably looked at the audience for the reaction...that was unfortunate. Her voice is powerful, but I don't think I really like the's a little flat at times.

Anyway, she's out of her league way she should still be here over Katelyn or Lilly.

Speaking of people out of their league...

7) Tim Urban - "Under My Thumb": This was one of the worst arrangements we have ever heard on this show, and only partly because he tried to sing a Rolling Stones song as reggae. This is a song about a misogynist...I don't think "Bobby McFerrin/Jack Johnson" is really the place to go if you are going to rearrange this song.

I don't necessarily blame poor little clueless Tim for that...shouldn't one of the vocal coaches have maybe pointed that out to him?

Anyway, the vocal is fine, he still looks terrified, and the arrangement was simply horrible. Unfortunately, the tweenage girls who are texting their votes in probably have no idea what the song is about, either...they just know he looks cute, so they want him around.

8) Siobhan Magnus - "Paint it Black": Ahhhh....that's better. Awesome arrangement, amazing vocal, she looks fantastic....I watched this three times in a row before I moved on. Talk about creating a "Moment".

I don't think I've ever pulled for any contestant on this show as much as I am pulling for her.

9) Lee DeWyze - "Beast of Burden": Well, it's tough to follow that. He does fine...I still think he may have one of the most "radio ready" voices in the competition, and this was probably the fewest pitch problems he's had. But this was very safe and forgettable, to use two of Simon's buzzwords. Good enough to stick around, but he still has yet to put a performance out there that says he's a real contender to win it all.

10) Paige Myles - "Honky Tonk Women": She still bores me, and her voice is nowhere near what Simon says it is. I'll bet she does sound better live,'s a BIG voice, it's just too often flat or just off the pitch.

And...why sing this song, if you're going to feel the need to change every single pronoun?

11) Aaron Kelly - "Angie": Or, as he's known at my house..."Mr. Fast Forward". David Archuletta in my life is plenty, thank you..


12) Crystal Bowersox - "Can't Always Get What You Want": I really struggle to come up with new ways to talk about how good she is every week, so I'll just say this...when I talk about "know who you are as an artist and go out every week and be THAT", this is what I mean. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me at all to find out that this exact arrangement of this exact song is already on her set list when she performs at the local bars and clubs.

Final Thoughts:
Actually, this week was not nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be...two outstanding performances, several really good ones, and then a few that I fully expected to be awful and were instead only pretty bad, annoying, and/or clueless.

Top 4:
1) Siobhan
2) Crystal
3) Casey
4) DiDi

Bottom 4:
9) Lacey
10) Andrew
11) Tim
12) Aaron

Who SHOULD go home: Aaron
Who WILL go home: Andrew

Super quick LOST thoughts...recap to come later

I think I am solidly in the middle when it comes to my thoughts on this the great(ly useless) Randy Jackson might say: It was just a'ight for me.

Stuff I liked:
- The opening scene of the X timeline. I was already digging the fact that it was an almost word-for-word recreation of the beginning of Sawyer's long con with Cassidy. Then it was revealed that this James Ford is actually a cop...and Miles is his partner! Now THAT is a buddy cop show that I would watch!

I thought that whole scene was very well done.

- The dynamic between Miles and "Sawyer" (though that's not his name now) was great.

- Great to see Charlotte again...but we'll come back to this in the "Stuff I Didn't Like" section.

- Evangeline Lilly was really fantastic in this episode. I think she captured the emotions that Kate would be feeling at this moment perfectly...think about all that Kate has had to go through since she came back to this Island, and the only reason she came back is to somehow reunite Claire and Aaron. Now she finally finds Claire, and she goes crazy on her and tries to kill her.

Plus, you could see Kate's confusion all over her face as she talked to the people she supposedly knows. Sayid, Claire, Locke....everybody is acting so WEIRD! Kate was really thrown for a loop in this episode, and I think Evangeline did a great job of conveying that.

- Love that Sawyer is playing both sides in the Island struggle. He has always been one of the smartest ones on the Island, and he's positioning himself in the best way possible.

Stuff I Didn't Like:

- I'm starting to get really irritated with the X timeline. Yes, it was cool to see Charlotte alive and well (and looking F-I-N-E), but what does it really MEAN? She's not even the "same" Charlotte, right? Same thing with, X Miles seems to be not nearly as funny as Island Miles.

Once again, this storyline was fun to watch, but I'm really starting to fear that we are not going to find out what the relevance is until the finale, and I'm going to be REALLY frustrated by then. I have my theories, but we're still just guessing as to what it is we are actually watching. And, yes, I'm aware that this is LOST, and that guessing has been part of the viewing experience since Charlie first asked, "Where ARE we?". But there's not much time left, and on a personal level I was hoping that this season would be more about getting some closure to some of these things we have been guessing about, rather than stringing us along with more unanswered (and at this point unanswerable) questions.

Or, maybe losing that hour over the weekend just has me really cranky...

- I'm DREADING the implications of Sawyer's little "moment" he had as he was fondling Kate's old dress in the Hydra cages and his subsequent promise to "Freckles" that they were going to get off the Island together. I'm REALLY hoping it was more along the lines of, "You know, we have a lot of great memories together, and after everything that has happened between us it's stupid if we can't be friends. And if she's my friend, she's probably the only one I have left and I'm not going to leave her behind"...rather than "YEAH!!! SKATERS 4-EVAH!!!".

I mean, in the show timeline it's been like three days since Juliet died in his would be really annoying and unrealistic if we are being told that he has already moved past that and is ready to run back into Kate's arms.

Really, there was more about this episode that I liked than stuff I didn''s just that the stuff I didn't is really annoying me right now.

I'll rewatch it a couple of times, try to get back on a decent sleep schedule, and see if my feelings have changed by the time I post the full recap this weekend.

Be back later with my thoughts on a surprisingly non-disastrous night on Idol!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Thoughts on LOST: Dr. Linus

Back from vacation, trying desperately to get this recap up before the next episode...

First of all, serious kudos go out to Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, the writers of this episode. This was a wonderful script, and there is so much subtext in almost every line of dialogue, especially in Ben's X timeline. They certainly gave me a lot to work with this week, so this may be a little long. :-)

Oh, and it was directed by...Mario Van Peebles!?!?! Talk about random!

OK, let's get to it...

- In the very first lines of this episode, we hear what the theme will be...Ilana asks an obviously shaken Ben, "Where's Jarrah", and Ben responds with, "I'm fine. Thank you." His feelings are hurt. Just like when he confronted Jacob..."What about ME?"

Ben craves power, obviously, but he also craves respect...a sense of belonging...relevance....and, most of all, a family. I think the longing for power actually stems from the fact that he never felt like he belonged WITH anybody, so instead he chose a path that would FORCE people to accept him. And, like many people who are basically insecure, the sarcasm and caustic wit are a coping mechanism. "He was standing over their bodies with a bloody dagger, so yeah...I'm pretty sure".

- The Ben-as-Napoleon comparison we can derive from the scene in the classroom is interesting. "What was truly devastating to him was his loss of power...without his power, he might just as well have been dead".

This recap may have a tendency to just be a list of quotes, but that's how much I loved the script. Although, the "It was on the Island that everything changed...that everything became clear" line may have been a little on-the-nose.

- One of the things I loved the most about this episode was how well the X timeline fit with what has gone on and continues to go on in the Island timeline. Here, the Principal basically takes on the persona of Jacob/Smokey...he's making decisions that affect Ben's life, but the reasons are all "above his paygrade". Ben is expected to just accept the decisions and act as directed, and don't bother asking questions. Sound familiar?

Then the Principal also picks up the theme of the night..."This club isn't for them. It's for you. It makes you feel needed".

And once again, Ben isn't getting the respect he thinks he deserves: "It's Dr. Linus, actually"....after the Principal has already walked away.

- Arzt is covered in...formaldehyde. Get it? Cuz he's DEAD!!!

- How much did I love the fact that Locke was there to push Ben along on his power play? Terry O'Quinn is so awesome that it was hard to really tell what the motivations were...does he really believe in Ben's capabilities, or was he just playing him and pushing him towards the moral conundrum we see later? I'm really hoping it's the former...if it's the latter, then I think that means that there is some "Smokey-ness" to the X-Locke. And I don't like that.

Ooo...or maybe some "Jacob-ness"? That's better....hmmmm.

- Back on the Island...nice callback that Ilana knew about Miles's talents, since they were recruiting him off-Island.

- "Jacob was the closest thing I ever had to a father". Man, we better get some Jacob-Ilana backstory at some point...remember in the finale last season that he visited her in the hospital when she had some massive injuries, and wore gloves so that she wouldn't be "touched"? So, I don't think she's a candidate...I wonder if she's like Richard and never ages? She did call him "Richardus" when they first met. I just hope we get to see her story.

- Miles is so awesome he can get the Line of the Night Award with only two syllables: "Uh-Oh".

- Back in the X-timeline a really touching scene between Ben and his dad. Interesting...did Jughead somehow change Roger's personality, or was it just getting off the Island when they did that kept him from being such a monster? Because this was a far cry from the abusive father who celebrated his son's birthday by getting drunk and accusing him of murdering his mother.

- Couple of other little tidbits from this conversation...Ben and his father DID still live on the Island at some point, and the Dharma Initiative still not only existed but had a base of operations on the Island, as well. I guess we kind of knew the second part, based on what we saw of the underwater Island and its surroundings in LA X.

- Mentioned it earlier, but nice touch by the writers having Ben "gassing" his father again, but this time with life-giving oxygen rather than the poison he gave him in "Man Behind the Curtain".

- ALEX! This was awesome...I loved seeing her again, and Ben's obvious affection for her was really sweet, and only borderline creepy.

But...why is Danielle Rousseau living in Los Angeles? I wonder if we're ever going to get an explanation on some of these little questions about the X timeline, like why Locke is in a wheelchair, etc.

- OK...are they ever going to give Yunjin Kim anything to do as Sun rather than ask, "Where's my husband? Have you seen my husband?" over and over? The reunion needs to happen toute de suite, because that's getting annoying.

- Six candidates left, huh? Is she still counting Locke? Sayid? Or...are they the OCEANIC 6, which would make one of them....Aaron.

- OK, so Richard pops out of nowhere, interrupting Hurley's desperate attempts to stall Jack on his way back to the Temple, and tells them they "wouldn't believe it" if he told them where he had been. So...where was he? In the X timeline, maybe?

Or was he just referring to the whole, "I've been running through the jungle trying to avoid the Smoke Monster, who now looks like your dead friend John Locke, and who also, by the way, killed Jacob, and now has your buddy Sawyer as a first lieutenant"....thing?

Good news is, we are supposed to FINALLY get a Richard Alpert episode sometime in the next couple of weeks. That ought to be a DOOZY.

- Nice little conversation between Ben and Frank, where Frank finally tells us why he didn't pilot the original flight 815....he overslept.

So, does that mean he "overslept" in the X timeline as well? Because that was still Capt. Norris that we heard on the intercom in LA X.

And, as Ben said...the Island still got him in the end. More Destiny vs. Free Will fodder...

- Dude...Ilana is PISSED.

- Back to the X timeline, and Ben and Alex's tutoring session: East India Trading Company, huh? Wonder if their fleet included a ship known as "The Black Rock"?

- When Alex told Ben about the Principal's inappropriate "relations" with the school nurse, I thought the look on Ben's face was jealousy...and thought that maybe the nurse was someone he had a crush on, but was too meek to act on it. Then I remembered that Juliet has a medical background, and my mind started racing.....

NAH. That look wasn't jealousy. That was just opportunism.

- So, after the rewatch, I can see that Ben was only trying to buy time by agreeing to dig his own he told Miles: "I'm not in a big hurry".

- HA!!! Miles has been talking to Nikki and Paolo! That's awesome. "Couple of jabronies.."

- I have said all along that it looked like Jacob didn't even try to defend himself against Ben in the Temple...obviously Ben noticed it, too.

But, according to Miles, it wasn't because he WANTED to die. It was because he still held out hope that Ben could change...that he could be redeemed.

I think that is the crux of the argument between Jacob and his adversary...Jacob believes that man can change, and that there is good in all of us, while the Man in Black takes a much more pessimistic view of human nature.

By the way...are we ever going to get a name for the Man in Black? There are people who believe that the fact that we haven't yet might mean that Jacob and the MIB are actually two sides of the same entity...that they are BOTH, in fact, Jacob. I don't necessarily believe that...just throwing it out there.

- Hurley's list of options for what Alpert's as least as good as anything I've come up with. Time traveler? Cyborg? Vampire?

- "Jacob gave me a gift". I don't think that worked out for Richard quite like he wanted. Man, I can't wait for his episode.

- Richard is now disillusioned and angry...and I don't blame him. Like he said, he has given literal CENTURIES of loyalty to Jacob, because he believed him when he said he had a plan. But now...Jacob is dead. What's the plan now?

Sounds like this particular disciple is heading down the Emmaus Road...

- Man, Arzt is pretty much a blowhard no matter what timeline we're in, isn't he?

- At this point, my guess is that Richard was almost definitely a slave on The Black Rock...based on Smocke's remark that it was "good to see him out of those chains" and the way he was transfixed by those same chains here.

And he knows the dynamite is unstable. But, as Hurley said, "So did Dr. Arzt...and I was wiping him out of my shirt two days later".

Hee. And nice callback to the "formaldehyde" thing, too.

- Richard confirms why Michael, Jack, and whomever else could not kill themselves...because Jacob had "touched" them.

But...they can obviously be killed by other people, right? Ben killed Locke, after all...but then what to make of Widmore and Ben's conversation in Widmore's room, when they both seemingly acknowledged that they couldn't kill each other? Or the fact that Ben also seemingly killed Jacob himself?

Maybe they can't be killed until Jacob is "done" with them, and Richard doesn't know that? Charlie was a candidate at some point, but after he contacted Penny and warned Desmond about the freighter, he could die. Michael came back and blew up the freighter, and then he could die. Maybe Locke fulfilled his "purpose" by turning the wheel and stopping the Island from it's time-tripping?

I'm just guessing...I sure wish I had a copy of the rule book.

- Richard: I devoted my life, longer than you can possibly imagine, in service of a man who told me that everything was happening for a reason, that he had a plan, plan that I was a part of, when the time was right that he'd share it with me, and now that man's gone so...why do I want to die? Because I just found out my entire life had no purpose.

Man...I can't wait for the Richard episode.

- Can I mention again how much I am loving the New Jack? Other than him smashing the mirrors, I've been digging him ever since they made it to the Temple and he started bossing around the Temple guards, swallowing poison pills just to prove a point, etc, etc.

My new favorite Jack moment of the season so far? He lights the fuse to Richard's dynamite, pulls up a seat, and says..."Let's talk".


- So, has Jack now become the Man of Faith? He has now totally bought into the idea that Jacob brought him here for a reason, and that Jacob will protect him if it means having that purpose fulfilled.

Oh, and my other favorite Jack moment this episode? The almost giddy tone to his voice when he asks Richard if he wants to try another stick of dynamite.

- I think Richard's faith has to be restored somewhat, seeing that while Jacob may be "dead", he is still not without else to explain what he just saw?

- I sound like a broken record, I know...but every scene between Terry O'Quinn and Michael Emerson just crackles. They have such amazing chemistry together.

For some reason, Ben throwing in the part about that woman over there "eating a mango" made me laugh.

- Smocke is the tempter...the one who provides the easy way out, and promises all you ever wanted, in the worst way possible. Yes, you can have control of the Island...but it's on MY terms.

Sorry to keep making this a Bible story, but...

5 Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6 And the devil said to Him, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. 7 Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.”
(Luke 4:5-7, New King James Version)

- And here is where it got really cool to watch how the two storylines both storylines, we reach a point where Ben has to make a decision as to what kind of man he is going to be. On the Island, he has a clear chance to kill Ilana and take Smocke up on his offer to run the Island after he leaves. In the X timeline, he can have the power and respect that he craves so deeply...if he's only willing to sell out Alex's future.

Fate vs. free will? No....fate PLUS free will. I think it was always Ben's "destiny" to become the power-hungry despot willing to do whatever is necessary to gain and maintain his power. But now, Ben makes the CHOICE to change that truly TURN from his old way of doing things, and in the Island timeline show true repentant remorse for the things he had done in the name of maintaining his power.

And, because of those choices...he is redeemed. On the Island, he has a "family" now that accepts him and forgives him, even though by his own admission he does not deserve that forgiveness. In the X timeline, he is able to play a part in the life of Alex, and countless other similar students who will pass through his sphere of influence that now seems to be unencumbered by the meddlings of Principal Reynolds, thanks to the power that Ben has now chosen to use for the good of others rather than for his own selfishness.

Just amazing storytelling, and the typical remarkable acting job by Michael Emerson...especially in his "confessional" scene with Ilana. It got a little dusty in the room at that point, even on rewatch.

Ben: (::sobbing::) Because he's the only one who'll have me.
Ilana: I'll have you.


- And then...a couple of typical LOST moments. First of all, a beautifully shot reunion scene between Jack, Hurley, Sun, etc. set to a gorgeous Michael Giacchino score.

Followed by a typically atrocious looking CGI submarine. I almost have to think they are doing it on purpose at this point.

- So, is Widmore the one that Jacob said was "coming"? On one hand, I think he is, if only because it's getting a little late in the game for the writers to be pulling tricks on us.

On the other hand...I'm holding out hope that Desmond is still on his way.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Idol Thoughts - Top 8 Guys

Remember how I said yesterday's recap of the Top 8 Ladies was going to be shorter because they were all pretty good, so there wasn't much to say? This recap will be shorter for the exact opposite reason.

1) Lee Dewyze - "Fireflies": Another typical Lee performance...he has a nice tone to his voice, but he has consistent problems with staying on pitch. I think the reason that Simon doesn't really acknowledge those problems is because he knows that they can be fixed in the studio...after all, he has said he is a big Taylor Swift fan, so he knows it can be done.

I'm not familiar with the original song, so I can't comment on the arrangement, other than to say that I thought it was arranged in a way that fit his voice and style pretty well.

2) Alex Lambert - "Trouble": Just like Lee, he delivered the performance you would expect out of him...a great vocal, performed as if at gunpoint. I think he has some musical sense, since he writes some of his own stuff, but we still haven't seen him do anything "different" with an arrangement. That's the type of thing he will have to start doing if he has serious ambitions to win this.

Well, that, and he needs to stop looking like he's about to pee his pants the whole time he's on stage. If he DOES make it to the Top 12 next week, that arena is going to swallow him whole. If he's nervous now, what is going to happen when you multiply that crowd by 10 or so?

3) Tim Urban - "Hallelujah": Brilliant song choice. All he has to do with this song is not completely fall on his face, and it's going to be praised. The song is just that good.

And that's pretty much all he did with it...he didn't fall on his face. The vocal was fine, although I TOTALLY disagreed with Kara about his "emotional attachment" to the song...I didn't get any of that. Go listen to Jeff Buckley or Rufus Wainwright sing this song. THAT is an emotional connection.

Plus, it's only been two years since Jason Castro performed this song and created one of the greatest Idol moments I can remember....this version was nowhere close to that.

Man, Jason much better was he than ANY of these guys? And he was at best the third best guy in the competition that year. This season is sucking the life out of me.

4) Andrew Garcia - "Genie in a Bottle": OK,'s time to close the book on Andrew Garcia. Talk about a one-trick pony. This was just weird, and as Simon called it, "DESPERATE".

5) Casey James - "You'll Think of Me": I'll give him this...he is one of the few contestants this year, especially on the guys side, who really knows what his strengths are as an artist. Just sit there, play your guitar, look pretty, and deliver a slightly above average vocal performance.

His voice is still very shaky, especially if he has to hold a note more than 2-3 counts...I don't know if that's lack of control or just nerves. But this was probably the best vocal performance we've seen out of him.

6) Aaron Kelly - "I'm Already There": Ugh. Now THIS was bad karaoke. Terrible stage presence...I'm not getting what Ellen is seeing there at all. He looks stiff and nervous, and just keeps doing that one move where he just throws his arm up in the air and lets it hang there, limply. The voice is strained and nasally, and he pushed WAY past the pitch at times.

Sorry, there was nothing good about this.

7) Todrick Hall - "Somebody to Love": Corny, showy, the very definition of indulgent. He does not have the range to sing Freddy Mercury, so after the falsetto at the beginning the rest of the song had to be done in a much lower register, and even that was flat at times.


8) Mike Lynch - "This Woman's Work": This was very good...he really does have a good voice, and he had a lot of fun up there, for sure. But the judges overeffusive praise of this just killed it for me.

Like I said, it was very good...but come on, Kara. This reduced you to a sniveling mess that would shame even Paula? Maybe it was just the vibe in the actual studio, with Mike's wife being there for the first time. Plus, isn't this song just about being pregnant and having babies? So has Big Mike's baby become this season's version of Danny Gokey's Dead Wife?

I know seasons past, this would have been middle of the pack at best. Big Mike is lucky...when compared to the steaming pile of crap that most of the competition threw out there tonight, this looked like gold in comparison.

Final Thoughts:
Tuesday night, Katie and Paige were a clear cut bottom two among the wasn't even close. But....if I were putting together my own top 12, both of them would probably be in over half of the guys that are left.

In is my personal top 12 at this point in the competition:

1) Crystal
2) Siobhan
3) DiDi
4) Mike
5) Alex
6) Casey
7) Lilly
8) Lee
9) Katelyn
10) Lacey
11) Katey
12) Paige

Bottom 4:
13) Andrew
14) Tim
15) Todrick
16) Aaron

And yet...two of those bottom 4 will definitely be in the Top 12. Whatever.

OK, let's wrap this up:

Top 4 (tonight):
1) Mike
2) Casey
3) Alex
4) Lee

Who SHOULD go home: Aaron and Todrick.
Who WILL go home: Todrick and Lee. (just a gut feeling on this's usually about this time that we see a "shocking" ouster)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Idol Thoughts - Top 8 Ladies

OK...this one is probably going to be shorter than normal (I know, you're all very upset about that) because 1) I forgot my notes, so I'm working from memory and I'm forgetful in my old age; 2) Most of the contestants fell into the "good and solid" category, which leaves little to say, and; 3) like most of you, I am deeply saddened by the news of Corey Haim's passing. RIP, Lucas. As Mackie tweeted, " took the wrong Corey".

1) Katie Stevens - "Breakaway": Oh, this poor girl. The judges have totally screwed her into the ground. This is NOT the type of song that fits her style, and she looks really uncomfortable up there. The verse was flat, the chorus wasn't much better...the whole thing was just awkward.

At least the judges basically admit that they have totally confused this poor child, and it appears that Kara and Simon read my blog since they say EXACTLY what I went off on a rant about last week...she just doesn't know who she is as an artist, and so she is trying to do whatever the judges tell her. Big mistake.

It's a shame, too, because she is really talented.

2) Siobhan Magnus - "House of the Rising Sun": Bold move to go a capella at the beginning, and she nails it...of course. I stand by my belief that this girl has the very best voice in the competition...crystal clear tone, ridiculous range, great phrasing. This whole thing was just mesmerizing. She is the real deal.

Plus, she just makes me ridiculously happy every time she is on the screen. I don't know that I have ever been pulling for a contestant on this show the way I am for her.

This quote from the TelevisionWithoutPity forum probably says it best: "Siobhan is a space alien taking part in this show because of some intergalactic mishap, just playing along until rescue comes. I mean that in a good way".

3) Lacey Brown - "Don't Remember the Song Title and I Don't Have My Notes" - This was her best performance so far this season...but having to go right after Siobhan didn't help her, in my opinion. This was arranged in such a way that it really showcased her voice, and her voice just isn't as good as Siobhan's. That being said, I really enjoyed this...I do like her voice, and you will find stuff like this all over my MP3 player. I hope she gets to stick around another week, but that would probably be as far as she goes.

4) Katelyn Epperly - "I Feel the Earth Move": Once again, Simon and I are basically on the same page here. She sang this well, but I had just told Mrs. Legend "This sounds very 'piano bar-esque'" when Simon told her he felt like it was something he would hear in a restaurant.

I thought it was a bad idea to stand at the piano-looking thingy, and she just looked totally uninterested the whole time. This was OK, but the vibe was just really weird.

5) DiDi Benami - "Rhiannon": FINALLY, she is back to doing what she is good at, and this was the best she has done since Hollywood week. She took just enough liberties with the melody to make it a little different, but she didn't go crazy. She just found a song she can sing well and did exactly that.

Imagine that.

6) Paige Miles - "Smile": ZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Wow, this was not good. She took everything that is good about her (her personality and stage presence) and just subtracted it. Sorry, her voice is not good enough to get by with just standing there and singing.

This was depressing, boring, and it's really going to suck for her to sing "Smile, though your heart is breaking" when she goes home on Thursday.

7) Crystal Bowersox - "Give Me One Reason": LOVE this song, and it's perfect for her, of course...when I talk about "knowing who you are as an artist", THIS is what I mean. Perfect song choice, and I loved the way she gave it a little edge to it with the electric guitar.

She's too good for this show, honestly. And I loved the whole "sitting on the amp, just chillin'" vibe while the judges were giving their comments.

8) Lilly Scott - "I Fall to Pieces": I don't know. This was fine, but I am just bored by her now. It doesn't help her to go last, because we've already seen both Lacey and DiDi sing in something similar to this style already, and I thought both of them were better.

All she is really doing to change these songs up is sing in that different tone of hers (which I like) and just over-pronounce everything to the point of distraction.

If she had gone third or fourth tonight, I probably would have enjoyed it more...I just think she was overshadowed by several fairly similar singers tonight.

Final Thoughts:

Overall, a very good show, even if there were no "WOW" performances. I thought everybody except Paige and Katie were really good, if not great, and even Katie was OK...she was just singing in a style that does not fit her. I was tempted to vote for her just out of sheer sympathy, to see if she can maybe get it together and stop letting the judges twist her into knots. But then I didn't....sorry, she's just not ready for this yet.

Top 4:

1) Crystal

2) Siobhan

3) DiDi

4) Lacey

Who SHOULD go home: Katie and Paige.

Who WILL go home: Katie and Paige.

Super quick LOST thoughts...recap to come later

As per usual with Ben episodes, this one...was....AWESOME.

Some quick, random thoughts:

- For a minute, when Alex told Ben that the principal was with the "nurse", I misinterpreted Ben's "thinking" face as his "jealous" face....and thought the nurse might be Juliet.

- As my friend Brent pointed out....if somebody is going to kill me anyway, I'm not going to spend 5 hours digging my grave with a big piece of bamboo. Just shoot me and dig the grave your own self.

- Now we know why Jack couldn't jump off the bridge, Michael couldn't shoot himself and survived his car crash into the dumpster, etc, etc....Jacob's touch means you can't kill yourself. But it apparently doesn't mean you can't die, or that you don't age, so there is still obviously something else going on with Richard.

- I know some people are hesitant to try and make LOST into a "Bible story", and I still don't think it is. But you can't have a much better picture of the Christian concept of "redemption" than we saw in Ben's scene with Ilana last night. More on that in the recap...

- Nice irony with Ben "gassing" his dad again...this time with oxygen.

- Michael Emerson and Terry O'Quinn should just have a cage match for the Emmy.

- LOST still can't create a decent CGI submarine. I don't get it.

- I would say Jack is officially a Man of Faith now.

- How awesome was it that Locke's encouragement is what pushed Ben to make his power play in the X timeline? "Maybe YOU should be the principal".

- I'm not convinced that Widmore is the one that Jacob said was "coming".
Sorry, meant to mention two other things:
- Ben's dad confirmed that they DID still go to the Island, and that the Dharma Initiative DID still exist.
- That scene with Jack, Alpert, and the dynamite was 12 levels of awesome.

OK, I think the rest will have to wait for the recap...

Speaking of which...I'm leaving to go out of town Thursday afternoon and will not be back until Sunday. So, the full recap won't go up until Sunday at the very earliest. Of course, as dense as this episode was it may not have gone up before that regardless.

Hopefully, I will be back later with the Idol recap from last night...I forgot my notes, so I will have to do it from memory, which means it will probably be rather abbreviated.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A fellow LOST blogger to check out..

This guy commented on one of my LOST posts a couple of weeks ago, and I have been a regular visitor to his site ever since...not only does he do a good job analyzing LOST episodes himself, but he also links to all of the best LOST recappers on the web.

And some of the simply mediocre yours truly. :-)

One really interesting project he has going is called the "Lost Blogging Collective", in which he sends questions about that week's LOST episode to the various bloggers that he links to, and then publishes their answers in a weekly post. I'm honored to be a fairly new member, and I'm excited that I can now join Snoop in proclaiming that I'm "from the LBC".

There is also other non-LOST stuff, including a fairly fascinating essay on quantum physics earlier this week and some interesting commentary on British boxing.

What more could you want? Check him out at the Stream of Consciousness HERE:

Be back tomorrow with my quick LOST thoughts, the recap of tonights Top 8 Ladies on Idol, and some programming notes....yeah, I'm going out of town AGAIN!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Thoughts on LOST: Sundown

Trying to knock this out before the weekend starts, so no preamble...let's get to it!

- YAY!!! Sayid is going to see Nadia!!

- BOO!!! Nadia is Sayid's BROTHER! Ugh...the same guy who was too much of a pansy to take care of that chicken. As we will see later, not much has changed in this dynamic.

- I couldn't tell for sure, but this looks to be the same neighborhood where Locke was inspecting Nadia's house back in "Lockdown".

- Sayid continues a pattern that I keep forgetting to mention...our X timeline characters seem to spend an awful lot of time looking at themselves in mirrors. In this case, Sayid's face is very visible in the reflection of Nadia's door...except for the half of his face that is in darkness.

Yeah, I think that probably has some meaning.

- Sayid probably should have hidden that picture better before he told the kids to go search his bag....AWKWARD!!

- "For every man there is a scale. On one side of the scale there is good. On the other side, evil...yours tipped the wrong way."

So...we've always figured that the Monster was somehow judging people before he decided whether or not to kill them, assuming that Smokey was operating on behalf of the Island. Knowing what we know now, does that mean that maybe Smokey killed them because their scale tipped too far in the OTHER direction? Like Mr. Eko, for example...maybe he knew he had no chance of bringing Eko over to his side, so he killed him? But when he "scanned" Juliet, Kate, Locke, etc., he left them alive because he thought they may be useful later?

(Yes, I know that Mr. Eko was killed off because the actor who plays him wanted to leave the show. Just trying to figure out if there is more meaning to HOW he died, while Smokey let others live)

- Sayid tells Dogen he is a "good man". For over 5 seasons now, Sayid keeps trying to tell people this, and they never believe him. He doesn't really even believe it himself anymore.

- Great to see Sayid in another awesome fight...isn't this the first time we've actually seen him lose one? Guess it's because he's slowly becoming Not-Sayid.

- I'm sorry, but every time I see Dogen obsessing over that baseball, it just reminds me of Warren. "Have you seen my baseball?"

- OK, Smocke can't cross the ash line here, so he sends Claire...but later, he comes in with a vengeance. We'll address that later...

- "I ALWAYS do what I say." We'll come back to this a little later, too...

- Back in the X timeline....Sayid's brother still can't take care of his own business and has to get his brother to handle his dirty work for him.

Poor Sayid...just like he tried to convince Dogen, he tells his brother he is "not that man anymore." The people he loves just keep putting him in situations where he HAS to be that man again, both on and off the Island.

- Back at the Temple, Miles fills Sayid in on a few details that Jack left wasn't the Temple folk who really brought him back to life. Not that I blame Jack...Miles's skill set is a little better suited to figuring out what is going on with dead people.

- I love the dynamic between Claire and the Temple people...they are obviously used to dealing with each other, and the undercurrent of hate and distrust just made me miss football season in the SEC even more.

(hey, remember when I used to talk about football on this blog? Yeah, me either...)

- So, first Dogen asks for Jack and Hurley, but when told they are gone he calls Sayid instead. So is Sayid his third choice to be the one to deal with Smokey?

(oohhh...can we please assume that Claire has been stealing things from the Temple people and somehow getting away with it? Because I am DYING to start calling them Smokey and The Bandit!)

Anyway...I truly do think that Dogen sends Sayid out after Smocke because he figures that either way, ONE of them will be dead. But I'm also thinking that if it had been either Jack or Hurley, the knife would have worked. Just my theory.

- And Dogen calls Smocke "Evil Incarnate". I agree with what Erika said over at LongLiveLocke...that's probably the closest anybody on this show will come to calling him "Satan" without actually saying the word.

- Man, does Matthew Fox have something in his contract that calls for him to appear in every episode? Because we get like a 2-second glimpse of him when Nadia and Sayid get to the hospital, but nothing comes from it.

- Geez, I really wish that they would give Miles more to do. Because he continues to kill it, and somehow gets the best line of the show every week despite only having 3-4 lines to work with.

"Oh, that Australian chick's know-the blond? The one who had the baby? Yeah, she strolled in here a couple hours ago, acting all weird. Still hot, though".


- So, why didn't the knife kill Smocke? At first I thought it was because he spoke to Sayid before he had time to stab him, but I don't think that's it. I think we are back to the "rules" again...I think that Sayid is far enough gone that he no longer has enough "good" in his soul to vanquish Smokey.

Is that part of the "loophole"? Did Smokey have to find somebody with enough Evil in their heart to be able to kill Jacob? Because I'm pretty sure Benjamin Linus would fit that bill, no matter how much I love him.

- And, I know I say it all the time, but I don't care. Terry O'Quinn is a freaking genius actor. You could just see the wheels in his head spinning as he was trying to find the right argument to use in order to turn Sayid completely to his side.

- I was planning on addressing this later, but now is as good a time as any...Smocke offers Sayid "anything" he wanted. Once Sayid tells him what (or who) that is, Smocke promises that he can have her again. And, like he said....he ALWAYS does what he says he'll do. what we are seeing in the X timeline the characters receiving from Jacob and Smokey what they were promised? Because this would be the way that Evil Incarnate would fulfill that wish...yes, Nadia is alive, and you can hold her again (remember the very affectionate hug when she greeted Sayid at the door)...but now she is married to your brother, and there is no chance for you and she to be together.

One of my favorite TV writers, Jacob at TelevisionWithoutPity, used to use a phrase all the time in his BSG recaps...not sure if he made it up, or if it came from somewhere else, but it certainly fits here:

Everything you ever the worst way possible.

It will be interesting to watch the X timeline play out and see if it continues to fit this theory, but right now Jack, Hurley, and John seem to be finding closure and some measure of contentment in their X story, while Sayid, Kate, and Jin (as we'll see in a minute) still seem to be spinning their wheels, or even worse off.

- Further the X timeline, Sayid seems to have resigned himself as to who he is. "I can't be with you, because I don't deserve you." Something about how he tells her this makes me think that he's not just talking about his time as an interrogator.

- Sayid mentions something else in his speech at the Temple that I meant to talk about when Dogen was sending him out after that Jacob is dead, Smokey is "free", and he tells the Temple people that now they are, too.

Continuing the God/Satan metaphor...I don't think "free" means what they think it means. I think Jacob was protecting them by confining them, and under his protection is where the real freedom was. The freedom that Smokey is referring to is closer to chaos, anarchy, and ultimately death.

- Oh, boy...Creepy Claire has totally lost it. Man, her hanging out in Buffalo Bill's pit singing "Catch a Falling Star" became maybe the creepiest thing I'd ever seen on this show...for about 20 minutes, until the last scene of this episode.

- Kate just signed her death warrant. Claire's face was pure hatred when Kate said she "took" Aaron, but Kate is so relieved to see her that she doesn't notice.

- "I'm not the one who needs to be rescued, Kate....He's coming, Kate!! And they can't STOP him!!"


Seriously, I'll bet Emilie de Ravin is having a blast...this is probably a lot more fun to play then the sweet, innocent Claire of the first few seasons.

- I totally didn't recognize Omar when he told Sayid to get in the van...I'm glad I didn't, because that would have ruined the surprise of seeing...


- "I make good eggs".

- Keamy is probably my most hated character on this show...but Kevin Durand (who plays him) is teh awesomez. His delivery of every single line of dialogue in this scene was perfectly dipped in sarcasm, arrogance, and danger.

- And, as I mentioned before, watching Keamy take a bullet is always satisfying, no matter which timeline it happens in.

- So, apparently that bundle of cash we saw Jin with in "LA X" had something to do with Keamy, huh?

- Sayid accuses Dogen of trying to get him killed by Smokey, and he doesn't deny it. Like I said, I think Dogen was banking on ONE of them dying, and he would deal with whichever was left. Oops.

- Dogen got a similar offer from Jacob that Sayid got from Smocke...and as we saw in "Lighthouse", his son is alive and well in the X timeline.

- I've watched the scene three times, and I still don't know what Sayid means by "I'd like to stay" right before he drowns Dogen. Does that mean that he won't be leaving with Smokey, or was he saying that there was part of him that DID want to go, but he wasn't strong enough? Similar to when Keamy told him just to forget the whole thing, and his reply was, "I can't".

- And, apparently, somehow it was Dogen PLUS the ash that was keeping Smokey out of the Temple. No clue how that works. Probably something to do with why Jacob asked him specifically to come to the Island...there is probably something "special" about him the same way there is about Walt, Desmond, etc.

Ooohhh...maybe Desmond is the one that Jacob was talking about being on his way to the Island last week, and he's going to be the new Dogen?

- I always love watching the Smoke Monster wreak havoc.

- Stupid Kate...the one time you DON'T tag along with Jack, and look what happens.

- I guess Miles probably WAS pretty surprised to see Frank...last time he saw him, he was piloting a helicopter away from the Island.

- And, just like I was afraid of, this whole "Jin and Sun keep barely missing each other" thing is getting old already.

- Brrr...Creepy Sayid may give Creepy Claire a run for her money after all.
- And now, the creepiest scene I can remember...a really off-kilter version of "Catch a Falling Star" (I'm not sure, but I think that was Claire singing...can anybody confirm?), as Smokey's new army files out around him.

At first, I couldn't figure out what Kate was thinking by joining him...but she has no way of knowing that Locke is the Monster (though I'm sure she was pretty shocked to see him alive), and she's pretty much zeroed in on Claire now.

Final Thoughts:
OK...nice job of moving the on-Island story forward. At least we can kind of see where it's going, although I'm still a bit fuzzy on the "end game". Is Locke just going to try and lead all of these people "off the Island" now, like he says? And what are the ramifications of that, and is Jacob going to try and stop them?

And, while I have some theories as to what is going on in the X Timeline (see above, and this post from earlier in the week), we still don't know any more than we did before. I'm sticking to my "Trust the Writers" mantra, but I still wish they would clue us in as to what significance that timeline has, if any.