Thursday, February 28, 2008

American Idol 2008 - week 2 - Results

Well, I was 50% on my picks for going home this week. I had both the bottom two guys - Jason Yeager and Robbie Carrico. With the gals, I was off quite a bit - I didn't have Alexandrea Lushington or Alaina Whitaker anywhere near my bottom two.

Funny thing about both the girls who went home - both were just 17 years old. Very young but still a lot of time to develop their talent. Hopefully they'll have used their brief time on Idol to be able to carry on and move forward in music, if that's where their true calling is.

American Idol 2008 - week 2 Gals' Performances

Another night of 70's and a little bit more of flip-flopping on my list of favorites (some did exact swaps with one another from my last week spots). Here are my thoughts, best to worst:

1) Ramiele Malubay - not her best but still a solid performance of a disco classic
2) Brooke White - surprise! Carly Simon works for her as did the guitar.
3) Carly Smithson - much better. Heart suited her. Oh, FYI - I think my buddies and I drank in that Irish pub she works at in San Diego many years back.
4) Asia'h Epperson - still sounding a little sick, but hopeful she can get back to solid form soon.
5) Alaina Whitaker - a very good performance from this 17 year old.
6) Amanda Overmeyer - loved hearing this rocker's take on a classic rock tune.
7) Alexandrea Lushington -she slid down a bit, sounded like she's still sick too.
8) Syesha Mercado - what happened here? #2 on my list last week, now here. Better pull it together, girl!
9) Kristy Lee Cook - just seemed off in too many places for me to enjoy the song.
10) Kady Malloy - I was not impressed at all. This definitely is her week to go.

Results tonight. We'll see how well I did.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

American Idol 2008 - week 2 Guys' Performances

Week 2 and we're into the 70's music. Lots of shifting and sliding of the list of favorite this week as some folks step up their game while others rest a little too much on laurels or poor song choices. My best to worst:

1) David Archuleta - great vocals on "Imagine".
2) Luke Menard - an impressive Queen tune that showcased his voice
3) David Hernandez - great soul performance of "Papa Was A Rolling Stone"
4) David Cook - liked the rocking with the electric guitar
5) Jason Castro - more guitar and sweet vocals on an Andy Gibb classic
6) Michael Johns - sliding down a bit on a safe performance
7) Danny Noriega - that Carpenters song suited his voice
8) Chikezie - still not a favorite of mine but a pleasant song
9) Robbie Carrico - my number 2 guy last week slides to the bottom and could be going home. Song choices, dude, song choices.
10) Jason Yeager - I don't think he stand out enough to last into the top 12.

Tonight the ladies and more 70's songs. Should be fun.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Comics of the Week (2/20/08)

Countdown to Final Crisis #10 - Mary Batson sees the light, and Holly and Harley benefit too. Karate Kid teaches Jason a thing about what friendship means, but it falls on deaf ears. Granny Goodness gets what's coming to her. And the Pied Piper faces the ultimate temptation. All this and awesome Bruce Timm art on Harley Quinn's origin pages (reminds me why I loved Batman the Animtated Series

Batman and the Outsiders #4 - Chuck Dixon is on fire writing this book, and Julian Lopez does wonderful art duties. Green Arrow in the book? Loving it. A great team book with lots of action and character interplay.

Death of the New Gods #6 - more cosmic drama as Orion faces the killer of the Gods. And finally, the killer is revealed - or is it? Two more issues to go with this epic, so I am sure there are more surprises to come.

Justice League of America #18 - the main story continues to tie in to Salvation Run as the League faces off against the Suicide Squad. In the back, we get more character moments with the currently confined Red Tornado. Dwayne McDuffie is building on the work done previously by Brad Meltzer on the character.

Book of the week - the Brave and the Bold #10. When we're talking the combo of Mark Waid (comic trivia expert) and George Perez (best artist ever!), you can't beat it. This issue, the Challengers continue to research the mystery of Megistus. We get two tales - a Superman and Silent Knight team-up that calls back the days of another team-up title (DC Comics Presents) and a Teen Titans/Aquaman story that fits in nicely just prior the King of Atlantis' wedding to Mera. A solid issue through and through. Two more issues in Perez's art run on the title left - and those two issues will tie up the Megistus arc as well. Looking forward to them.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

American Idol 2008 - week 1 - Results

First, the cheesey group medley is back! Yes. Gotta love that. Everyone looked great - from the guys in the nice suits to the girls in the mini dresses. They actually sounded good together too.

On to the results.

First guy gone - Garrett Haley. Color me surprised. I thought the youth factor would help him, but I guess the slow Sedaka song did him in. He took his quick axing like a trooper.

First girl gone - Amy Davis. No surprise. I had her at the bottom of my ladies' list. She seemed shocked.

Next, a video debut from Paula Abdul - her newest release off of Randy Jackson's album. Yep, Idol nepotism at its finest. The video? Pure early 90's at best. The sound? As my wife said, they did a lot of work to support her vocals.

Back to the eliminations.

Second girl to go - Joanne Borgella. Kind of surprised, but her sickness seemed to do in her vocals. Still, wasn't part of my top six, so it was kind of expected.

Second guy to go - Colton Barry. Hey, another one from the bottom of my list. Not surprised by this one, nor by Simon's comments. Remember, in the Hollywood round to get to the top 24, Simon wanted Kyle (the tie-wearing geek) over Colton - but Paula and Randy outvoted him. Simon made no bones about his being against this choice.

So, there we go - 24 to 20. We'll see what next week brings.

American Idol 2008 - week 1 - Gals' Performances

Ladies performances for week one again with music from the 60's. Some repeat songs from the guys the previous night (I can't believe they couldn't find all unique songs - go figure). A lot of the women appeared to be fighting off flu or bronchitis, but as Simon pointed out the show must go on so they just need to do their best. Some did. Some didn't. Here's my rating from last night, best to worst:

1) Ramiele Malubay - the small woman with the powerful voice. I predict she'll do well this season.
2) Syesha Mercado - another strong, confident voice
3) Asia'h Epperson - a good performer. Let's stop hearing about her father dying two days before the audition, please.
4) Alexandrea Lushington - another confident performer
5) Alaina Whitaker - the best of the blonde pack by far
6) Amanda Overmeyer - this rocker-nurse brings something unique to the table so I'd like to see her make top 12.
7) Joanna Borgella - I believe she has a powerful voice, sounded a little ill last night
8) Carly Smithson - the Irish singer. I think she's over-rated
9) Brooke White - very cute and wholesome, but not good enough for this contest I fear
10) Kristy Lee Cook - third of the blondes and by far the worst of the trio
11) Kady Malloy - very boring song and stiff performance
12) Amy Davis - horrible. Definitely going home this week.

Results tonight. We'll see how I stacked up for the week.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

American Idol 2008 - week 1 - Guys performances

Finally time to get to brass tacks - the real singing competition where America votes. Let the fun begin!

It was 60's theme night for the guys, and for two hours we get interesting arrangements of songs you know well. Some good arrangements, some dreadful. Looking at this list of twelve guys (some who, again, this was the first time we've heard them sing a note), here is how I'm ranking them (best to worst) based on this week's performance:

1) David Archuleta - the 17 year old who is very shy, humble and respectful. Girls will eat him up with a spoon.
2) Robbie Carrico - he's the rocker of the guys
3) Michael Johns - the Aussie
4) Jason Castro - the 20 year old with dreads and the pleasant smile
5) Garrett Haley - the 17 year old Leif Garrett clone. Again, girls will eat him up.
6) Jason Yeager - he had an Osmond vibe to him
7) David Hernandez - cursed with the opening spot of the season, tough to pull off well
8) Luke Menard - poor song choice, not enough to stand out
9) Chikezie - song didn't work for his full voice. And talking back to Simon this early isn't smart.
10) David Cook - unmemorable
11) Danny Noriega - horrible version of an Elvis song. Did not showcase his voice.
12) Colton Barry - just doesn't have the chops for this competition.

I'm fine with any two of my bottom six going Thursday night.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Justice vol. 2

I finished up the middle section of the Justice graphic novel series last night. Book two features a stunning Alex Ross cover with the villains - in a similar pose to the heroes on the cover of volume 1. I like that each villain is in the spot to the "matching" hero from the first cover (Bizarro for Superman, Joker for Batman, Cheetah for Wonder Woman, etc.). It gives it a nice theme going.

This volume covers issues 5 through 8 of the floppy comics in the series. The story continues as the heroes gather their forces to regroup in a secret location and to try and figure out what the heck the villains are up to. A lot of character interplay in these issues as well as some very stunning artwork. I really enjoy the whole painted aspect of this series and want to appreciate the time it took to do each and every panel.

You Know Your Kids Are Growing Up...

You know your kids are growing up when they want to spend a Friday night out with friends rather than hang home to watch TV, play games, etc. This happened this week for me with my twelve year old son. Sure, he's done Friday night sleepovers at a friend's house before (or at our house) or gone out on camp-outs with the scouts. But this week was a bit different.

It started Wednesday night at dinner. He and I were catching some pizza buffet, talking about his day, etc. My wife was travelling on business (on her way home). So, my son asks me out of the blue "what are we doing Friday night?". I say "nothing, why?". He says "a bunch of friends want to know if I can go to Skateland with them".

I think for a minute. He's never expressed interest in going skating in the past two plus years since we lived here. So I'm curious.

"Who's going?" I ask. He rattles off three other names. I listen and realize that with him, it would be two boys and two girls. My first thought is this a double-date? Of course, I call my wife on the cell phone to ask what she thinks. She says it's fine and if they need parental chaperones or whatever that we could go. So we tell him it's okay but he needs to get all the details (time to be there, time it ends, etc.).

Turns out the girls go to skate there a lot. One of the girls specifically asked him if he could go. I'm thinking oh, yeah, definitely a date-like thing. After all, I remember junior high school. You know what that was like. Kids really were too young to "date" but they hung out. Kind of like "date-training".

So, Friday rolls around. My wife is home but sick so she can't go at all. My son would prefer I just drop him off and then leave. Turns out one of the girls can't make it so it'll be just two boys and one girl. I start to wonder is my son now the third wheel? I drop him off and wait for the other kids to arrive so they can go inside. The girl is very concerned that the other boy is late. Heck, she called my son's cell phone while we were on our way (fifteen minutes before we had to be there) to see where he was.

I go to pick him up at 10:30pm. Turns out the other boy left around 9:45pm, so it was just my son and the one girl for the last forty five minutes. I hang out and wait for her parents to pick her up too, then we drive home. We're not even home yet and my son's cell phone rings. It's the girl wanting to chat for a few minutes more.

I predict a lot of young women calling our house over the next half dozen years.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Comics of the Week (2/13/08)

Astro City Character Special #1 - Beautie - From a stunning Alex Ross cover to a wonderful Kurt Busiek written tale, this done in one special focuses on a previously unknown hero in Astro City. The story, while a little predictable, reads very well and presents a new character in full form. Kurt is excellent at this kind of stuff. It is a shame Astro City books can't come out more regularly than they do though.

Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century #11 - a nice tie-in with the 31st Century and the 21st Century by using Mars and J'Onn J'onzz in the tale (okay, not really J'Onn but still...). Another fun, done-in-one tale.

Salvation Run #4 - they always used to say that monkeys on the cover sell comics. This one has two, with one bashing the other over the head with a brain in a robot body. Gotta love that! The inside delivers the cover fight, a brutal one. This whole series is brutal with villains at each other's throats on the alien world, and one lone hero trying to make sense of it all. My love of villain tales has me loving this mini. Three more issues to go. Can't wait to see how it ends and who is left standing.

Countdown to Final Crisis #11 - OMAC is assimilating Apokolips! If that isn't scary, I can't think of what else might be. This mini has ten issues left and I am certain the whole thing will be throwing down on Apokolips with the remainder of the cast. I cannot guess how this will all turn out, and I'm loving that. That's how to hook and keep readers.

Comic of the week - Booster Gold #0! Yes, zero - as in tying in with 1994's Zero Hour event. Given that Dan Jurgens was artist on that as well as this title and on Booster's original series, this issue is a nice way to link all of that together. There are some hilarious lines in this issue - I won't spoil them but readers will know what I mean. This comic is pure fun, pure adventure - just the way comics should be. Is it any wonder it is at the top of my list every month? Nope. I hope this title continues on this level for years to come.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Rest in Peace, Steve Gerber

After a battle with pulmonary fibrosis, a loved writer by both critics and fans alike Steve Gerber died on Sunday. He was 60 years old.

For comic book fans, he was known for his work in the 70's on such Marvel titles as the Defenders and Man-Thing. He also has notable runs on such titles as Son of Satan and the Guardians of the Galaxy. He worked a few years on animation and other things, and recently returned to comics again to write the Dr. Fate feature in DC's Countdown to Mystery series.

For me, when I think of Steve Gerber I think of his creation Howard the Duck. This title was full of satire and social commentary, as the title character of the series tried to survive in a world that was not his own. I think, for me, those aspects reflected a lot in Gerber's work. He was always putting in layers of social commentary, relevant to the times but adapted for the series in question. Sometimes his stuff would get deep...really deep. And it would be lost on me as a kid. Even as an adult, I can appreciate those depths when I reread collections that feature his work.

The tragedy too is his dying at such a young age. Many writers work well into their 70's and 80's. The comic book community has lost a unique voice.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Justice vol. 1

Last week in Diamond's monthly Previews catalog, I noticed the solicitation for the softcover version of Justice vol. 1. Justice is a 12-part mini-series that was first published from August 2005 through June 2007, with writing and gorgeous painted art by Alex Ross. The story is an epic adventure of the Justice League versus their collected enemies in a 'Legion of Doom'.

Now, I had some interest in getting this series when it first came out as single issues. After all, I've loved Ross' artwork for ages. That was a very strong appeal. Also, what's not to love about a full-length series basically pitting the heroes against their foes? It was very much like a comic version of the Challenge of the Super-Friends cartoons from back in the 70's, a favorite of mine growing up. The downside, though, was it was going to be bi-monthly. That meant two months between each issue - and it would take two years to tell the tale. That' sort of did it for me as I'm just not that patient with things I'm reading. That felt too long for me. So, I saw the issues as they came out in the shop but avoided buying them.

My plan was to wait for them to be collected. Well, DC did that - as three hardcover collections, each holding four issues. I sort of skipped those at first. However, back to last week, when I saw the price of the softcover volume I wondered - can I get the hardcover ones for the same price somewhere? Turns out, I could. Thank you for having nice deep discounts. I immediately ordered all three books, the full story.

And this weekend I started reading.

I have to say, now that I'm a third of the way through I am enjoying it nicely. The story takes a nice twist. The villains, after sharing a common dream of world armageddon and in it seeing the heroes are helpless to save the day, decide they can use their abilities to better the world. And, in the process of doing so, if they can bump off their enemies then so be it! This first volume sets up the arc nicely and has some good battles between arch rivals. There are also nice extras in back - character profiles, sketches, etc.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Moment of Truth

To fill the void of programming due to the Writers' Strike (which could be over soon if the rumblings in the news are true), FOX put out a new lie-detector gameshow with Mark Walberg as the host called The Moment of Truth. The idea is a simple one: get someone to answer 50 tests while strapped to a lie detector prior to the show. Pull 21 of those questions to have them reanswer on TV in front of an audience as well as their family, friends, co-workers, etc. Answer six of the questions the way that the test demeed was TRUE previously, win $10,000. Answer another five, win $25,000. Answer another four, win $100,000. Three more win $200,000. Two more win $350,000. Answer the last one as well and they win a grand total of $500,000.

Answer any question So far, no one has made it past the $100,000 level. A number of folks have went home with nothing. The key is: you have to match what the test considered the truth before. That's what burns people.

What is really bad is the carnage that results from the answers. Some of the questions are shocking. Some are meant to test the foundations of the relationships with friends and family. It is a train wreck of a show - and something that just fascinates me. Who in their right mind would subject themselves to something like this? Someone with a clean past? Well, that person won't get picked - it won't make good TV. Someone with nothing to lose? Maybe - and in that case, they don't give a darn about the lives they leave behind in carnage for the truth to come out.

It does make for some interesting discussion in our house between my wife and I though. During the commercials, we see which questions we can answer ourselves - and share that. An interesting way to find out more about the folks you're watching the show with - but you gotta be truthful.

I'd love to see a celebrity edition or one with some politicians on it. Might be useful before an election of a President, eh? FOX might be on to something.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Comics of the Week (2/6/08)

Countdown to Final Crisis #12 - it is time for a convergence - of plot threads. It seems every one of the folks left standing - the Challengers (Jason, Kyle and Donna), the women on the run (Mary, Harley and Holly), the new lovers (Jimmy Olsen and Forager), the doomed (the Pied Piper with the Trickster's hand) and the time lost (Karate Kid and Una) all are going to Apocalypse. I guess the final act of this tale is going to tie them all together with the Great Disaster, Darkseid's game of chess with the Monitor and other things. Let's see if it pays off.

Justice League Unlimited #42 - a nice villain spotlighted tale. Kind of odd item though - why the Batman mini image on the cover? Very odd. To sell books I reckon.

Justice Society of America #12 - more legacy heroes are found and gathered. Not sure I'm thrilled about Black Lightning having a second super-powered daughter. When did he have these girls? The new Amazing Man is interesting and topical.

Book of the week - All-New Atom #20. Gail Simone is back to write this issue which nicely ties up all the plot threads from her run on the book since it debuted. I hope the book keeps up the quality after she departs permanently. I have a fear this book might slide into the same-old-same-old now that the initial direction of the book is changing. We'll see.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Just Another Sunday

Yes, kickoff for the Big Game, the Super Bowl, is happening any moment now. Hundreds of thousands of people are gathered in homes and bars and at parties to watch the game and the new commercials. They're eating and drinking and yelling and cheering.

I'm not one of those people.

Sure, we do the Super Bowl at our house. My wife and son are upstairs watching the game. We had wings, chips and cheese dip, and mini pizza biscuits for dinner. All very tasty. I even cleaned up so they could watch the rest of the pre-game show. I'm just not interested in watching any of the game.

So, what am I doing instead (besides blogging about it)? I spent some time earlier reading the latest Clobberin' Times Online. I played around with my iPod, making some smart playlists. I did a little writing. And this evening I'll likely do a little reading and listening to some music. To me, it's just another Sunday.

I'm going to duck now, so I don't get poked by those foam fingers being thrown at me.

Enjoy the game, friends.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Comics of the Week (1/30/08) part 2

Death of the New Gods #5 (of 8) - this mini series by Jim Starlin continues to be interesting. Clearly the stakes are rising as more of the gods from Apokolips and New Genesis are taken out of the picture. Plus, Metron starts to learn the truth of the Source. Definitely a solid mini series. If you aren't buying the individual floppies, be sure to snag in when the eventual trade comes out. It is a DC epic that should not be missed.

Action Comics #861 - part four of the Superman and the LSH story arc. Again, another solid issue bringing back elements of the classic LSH from the 70's and 80's that I grew up on. I look forward to the final two parts of this arc.

Green Lantern #27 - part two of "the Alpha Lanterns" tale. We finally learn what it means to become an Alpha Lantern, and the price is a dear one! Those final pages of this issue - just chilling. Geoff Johns is continuing to evolve this comic franchise in wonderful ways.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Comics of the Week (1/30/08) part 1

Countdown to Aventure #6 - okay, this story is waaaaaay to dragging on. I know they want to fill an eight-issue mini-series, but the lead story seems to be the same-old/same-old every time. Sure, the wives of Adam Strange and Animal Man are now involved too and we appear to be getting to the final act, but come on. For a series that had promise this is going straight down the tubes. The Forerunner story isn't helping much either. Especially since we saw where she ends up two weeks back in Countdown. So, way to kill the suspense. Can't wait for this one to end.

JSA Classified #34 - another Hourman spotlight, yawn. Okay, this is pretty formulatic - Hourman has an hour to save his wife. Fine. But all that running around in NYC in less than an hour? Not believable. Oh, and the villain - way to bring in someone out of the blue we don't know nor do we care about his final fate. Yawn. At least this was a done-in-one story. Had it dragged on for two issues, I don't know what I would have done.

Countdown to Final Crisis #13 - okay, yes, finally something good. Talk about all out action. Superman-Prime versus the Monarch, and Earth-51 pays the price. That's how to get the readers' attention. Hopefully the last three months of this epic will keep up the pace. With Darkseid showing up, I would expect so. Let's get some closure, people.