Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Why Rock Star: Supernova Fails

I know I promised a rant about Rock Star: Supernova awhile back... but as it turns out I just happened to read an article today which hints at a lot I planned on incorporating into this. See Ousted contestant bats back. Alternately, see the article in the Calgary Sun, or the Blabbermouth summary. Key quote (at least with regards to what I'm interested in):
She says many contestants feel its members — Tommy Lee (MÖTLEY CRÜE's drummer), Jason Newsted (former METALLICA bassist) and Gilby Clarke (former GUNS N' ROSES guitarist) — are not exactly hellbent on making the new band a success.

"Because Tommy Lee's got MÖTLEY CRÜE and Jason Newsted's very passionate about (Canadian metal band) VOIVOD, there are a lot of questions as to whether this band is going to really take off. That's up in the air," she says.
This is probably my biggest complaint about the show. From the first I heard about who would make up the new band for the show, Supernova, my first reaction was "well it's not really a REAL band then, is it?" Basically I see this as another "supergroup"-style project -- muscians in other bands, better known (and arguably much more committed) to those other bands, getting together to make a larger combined splash than they would individually and capitalize on some name recognition to push an otherwise unguided project. Now Gilby Clarke has been on his own for some time now, and even if he WANTED otherwise, G'n'R is a victim of Axl's demented, hard livin', out-of-control ego. So he's pretty invested in this new project as an attempt to regain mainstream success.

On the opposite end of the spectrum we have Tommy Lee - who has flittered in and out of MANY various main and side projects over the past 10 years or so, ranging from multiple TV projects to rap-rock, solo projects, guest appearances all over the place, and of course, the Crue. Given the high income potential of the Crue especially, and his supposed recent reuinting with the band, Tommy really doesn't seem likely to hold a vested interest in making sure Supernova is a success.

Similarly, since his departure from Metallica, Jason Newstead has been all over the map, notably producing/mentoring a few new bands, a stint on bass for Ozzy's band, and his heavy interest and involvement with Voivod.

So add these together and what do you get? Well, I think the level of commitment comes across in the band's attitude on the show. Tommy Lee especially, but to a lesser extent Newstead and even Clarke are clearly there to have a good time and hit on the attractive female contestants. I haven't seen them be hard on ANY of the contestants, give anyone a real critique any more biting than "we wish you rocked more" or "that was a bad song choice for you". Come ON - if they were really vested in the success of this new band, then finding the right FACE and VOICE for this new project would be PARAMOUNT. They wouldn't be letting backtalk and an awful performance from Zayra slide because she has "spunk". They wouldn't be letting half the performers phone it in each week and praising them for "rocking" (regardless of how good the performance actually was).

Ultimately this project isn't going to work because the Supernova band members, based on their history and attitude towards the show, aren't vested in making it a success. This is NOT a long term band. The novelty factor of the supergroup-status combined with buzz from the show will likely lead to good sales for Supernova's "debut" album, but don't expect to see a second album from Supernova -- at least not as backed by these three rockers.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Anniversary Recap: The Top, Movies

Amy & I had a great dinner at The Top Steakhouse yesterday evening. The place has been there over 50 years, and per their own admission haven't changed much. It's VERY dark inside (well, in the area we were seated in -- the bar area looked a little more open & lighted). They have a piano which someone was occasionally playing which was really nice - though it would've been cooler if it was a bit more consistent. They have bread & butter (naturally), but ALSO a complimentary relish tray of pickles and (cold) sauerkraut. Very unusual, yet tasty! The steaks were excellent - priced comparably for this tier of place -- BUT also included two sides, which is different from most of the other top-tier steakhouses. As usual for us, Amy had the filet & I had the ribeye. Both were EXCELLENT, done perfectly. Also worth mentioning was my excellent Lobster Bisque. The Creme Brulee Cheesecake for dessert was quite good as well, though we were both filled to bursting. Excellent food, a fun atmosphere, and HISTORY baby. A good time, and recommended. Where does it fit in? Here are my ratings of the Anniversary Tour destinations so far:
  1. Morton's: Hand's-down the best. Phenomenal.
  2. Ruth's Chris: Very very tasty.
  3. Smith & Wollenski: Great desserts, interesting sauces, good steak
  4. The Top Steakhouse: good steaks, good dessert, fun atmosphere & history
  5. Mitchell's Steakhouse: Good, yet disappointing atmosphere (Crosswoods location), and good steaks, but just not quite up to par with the others.
  6. Walker Station: Just not on the same level as the others. A really nice place, but a lot newer, and obviously kind of the "family" restaurant for the area. Steaks were good, but also not quite on the same level.
While we won't decide until next year, the preliminary indications may take us to The Clarmont next year. We'll see!

After dinner we hit-up a movie and saw Lady In The Water. Amy & I have both enjoyed M. Night's previous movies -- not quite as much Signs, but I think we both really enjoyed The Village. This one seems to be getting a lot of bad reviews, but I really enjoyed it, and I think Amy did to. It was billed going in as "a bedtime story", and therefore I wasn't expecting a horror movie or thriller like his previous films, and I think the bedtime story is what we get here -- it's obvious that this is a new mythology he's trying to introduce here, and the mythology is what makes things really interesting. The actual story is kind of straightforward, and doesn't stand-well on it's own, but in introducing the story of the Narfs, the Blue World, etc, things come together pretty well and make for a nice, straightforward entertaining story. As for "depth" to the story, there is a movie critic character which M. Night uses to vivisect typical "predictable" movie structure as well as critics of his past films.. there's a line something like "What kind of pompous egotistical person would presume to know what lied in the thoughts and intentions of another human being"? That said, without spoiling things TOO much, it does feel somewhat egotistical of M. Night to cast himself in the part he plays in this film... So yeah, not a movie without it's faults, but enjoyable, and recommended.

On an unrelated note, I saw a preview for a new animated movie, Renaissance , today. It looks AWESOME. Check out the trailer yourself.

Friday, July 21, 2006

That's Just Wrong

There are a lot of things that are just plain wrong. Since it's wrong that I've been too busy to blog for a whole week! (The HORROR!), I figured I'd finally take the time to write about some other things which are just plain wrong.
  • The President groping the German Prime Minister. While the news reports seem to try and play it off, it sure looks to me like something she wasn't very happy with. I mean I know they do things differently "down south", but isn't unsolicited neck massage covered in Sexual Harassment 101? Maybe Bush is more like Clinton than the Neocons would have you believe...
  • A new Charlotte's Web movie. Because the 1973 animated film was such a integral role in the lives of so many people within shooting distance of my age, of COURSE Hollywood needs to CRAP ALL OVER IT with a live-action Babe-style talking animal movie.
  • In watching the GSN 50 Greatest Game Shows of All-Time, we got to see an episode of Three's A Crowd. This show (from 1979) poses that age-old question: Who knows a man more, his wife or his secretary? They ask the men questions, then ask the secretaries what the men answered, then ask the wives what the men answered (revealing what the men said AND what the secretaries said). Think Newlywed Game, only with secretaries thrown in for some really inappropriateness. The episode shown was pretty much a textbook example of how rife (and apparently "normalized") sexual harassment in the workplace was in 1979 -- lots of questions about "the most revealiing outfit your secretary has worn", "other than kissing, what sign of affection is the man known for?", etc. This show was such a train wreck it couldn't help but be entertaining - especially since one secretary talked about how the man would give her unsolicted neck rubs all the time, and pointed out she DIDN'T like it....(sound familiar?) And the other threesome where the 19 year old secretary was obviously taking some MAJOR barbs at the wife, sparking a Jerry-Springeresque brawl between the two at one point. (Missing the "Jerry" chants though...)

I have a rant about Rock Star: Supernova coming one of these days, but I'll save it for later.

For now, looking forward to enjoying this weekend. Tomorrow Amy & I hit our SIXTH stop on the Anniversary Steakhouse Tour. SIX YEARS. Madness. The plan for tomorrow is The Top Steakhouse, however they don't take reservations so backup reservations have been made elsewhere, just in case.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Brain Rot: What's On The DVR?

So, you'll recall I mentioned awhile back how with LOST's season finale we'd entered that Sahara Desert of boob-tube goodness, the Summer off-season. Yet somehow, despite not having any "real" shows on queue the DVR managed to hit almost 80% full. So what the hell am I rotting my brain with?
  • The 4400: The 4400 is a great show - sci-fi, time travel, super powers, conspiracies, mysteries - etc. Yes, it owes a LOT to Rising Stars, but I think it's still a great show. I also really like all the new questions they've introduced this season -- who are the different factions in the future? What is Isabelle's REAL role? What was Matthew's REAL role? Who sent Matthew? What's the deal with Jordan Collier? Etc, etc.
  • Rock Star: Supernova: Amy & I both really enjoyed last year, even if JD wasn't really our pick to win, it was a really well done show with a great format. The format has been preserved, and yes, while Brooke is still annoying as hell (they didn't hire her for her mic skills, obviously), everything else remains high quality. The "band" Supernova is going to have to work really hard to convince ANYONE they're not yet another of Tommy Lee's 5 minute side-projects, and it doesn't help that Tommy seems to be the person taking things the LEAST seriously, but still - a good show. Sadly, thanks to a DVR malfunction last week and 50 minutes of TORNADO WARNING SPECIAL NEWS REPORT CRAP this week we've only seen like two ACTUAL performances - so I don't know much about the performers yet, but I hope to.
  • The World Series Of Pop Culture: How am I just now finding out about this show? They apparently had online testing to get people into the show, and I can't believe we didn't get in on this. We could've DOMINATED this show. If they do this again, I hope I find out about the casting, because I think we could clean up.
  • Mythbusters: Thank goodness for the automatic series recording on the DVR. I had NO IDEA this was coming back with new episodes this Summer - but the DVR found it and grabbed the new ep -- all about the crazy catburglar stunts from Hollywood - climbing in through ducts, cutting glass, getting through the laser security field, safe cracking, etc. It was a really fun ep, better than most of them from last season actually.
  • America's Got Talent: Enh - I don't know that I'm really all that sold on this one. I'm starting to get the American Idol vibe from it -- that is that now, after all the worthless joke acts are gone and the "real" talent remains, I just don't care anymore. It's just another Idol-style show, only supposedly focused on ANY talent. Yet oddly enough, it's singing which gets the most interest. Yawn. I think this is getting cut.
  • I've Got A Secret: This is the remake running new eps on GSN. It's OK but not great, and was originally added to the DVR when we didn't have anything else going on. Now that there are plenty of other options, it may get cut as well. Bill Dwyer's funny, but the schtick gets old.
  • Next: Speaking of getting old, Amy got me into this silly MTV "dating" show, where one person gets to go through 5 people to find the right match, saying "NEXT" at any time to send the current person packing and bring on fresh meat. It's a lot like an accident on roadside - too horrible not to watch, but the schtick here is about done for me as well. It's OK background noise, and is worth an occasional chuckle at least.
  • ECW / TNA Impact!: So yeah I've REALLY been giving it to my brain lately by getting back into some professional wrestling. The WWF WWE has mostly lost my attention, but their attempt at reviving ECW caught a little bit of interest, and TNA is different enough that I'm not too bored with it either. They're good for a quick bit of entertainment, and can't possibly be any worse for my brain than stuff like Next...
So yeah... that's a suprising load of garbage I'm pouring through the brain these days. On top of that, a number of shows have recently been recommended to me, so I'm considering checking out The Closer, Psych, and Hex, may watch at least the first ep. of Eureka, and am DEFINITELY planning on giving Who Wants To Be A Superhero a chance. Somehow.

Or maybe I'll give it all up and become a Luddite.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Viva Italia

So I did wind up watching most of the 2006 World Cup final yesterday, and enjoyed seeing the Italians pull-out the win (in a shootout) over the Frech to claim their 4th World Cup. Gotta stay true to the family heritage, especially since the US team didn't make it out of group play.

Watching the star French player get thrown out with a red card due to a pretty vicious headbutt was pretty fun too:

Even if he did still get declared best player of the tournament.

I must say I enjoyed watching the game. So much so that I found myself wondering if I'd be watching more soccer in the future - like Premier League or Serie A games (assuming Insight still has FSC). Crazy eh?

Anyways, had a pretty good weekend other than that. Friday night we did our second run at Dream Dinners. Still really loving it both meal-wise and deal-wise. The "date night" session on Friday turned out to be just us and one other couple, so it was nice having the run of the place. I'm looking forward to trying some of the new meals from this batch.

Saturday the Fishes & Sabs came over for dinner, and that was a blast. So great watching Abby interact with Evie & Allison. Football games this year are going to be quite the kidfest I think -- hopefully it doesn't start to bother the non-kid folks in the group.

My parents came over to hang out on Sunday, which was nice though Amy had a pretty nasty headache and Evie was starting to come down with a little cold, and those were no fun. Sadly, we didn't get to go see Pirates 2 with Laurie, or check out The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged) again, but hey - we're only human! And besides, we get along pretty damn well for having a new baby around!

Speaking of getting around, Campus Hop on Thursday sounds like it could be fun. Anyone interested?

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Red, White & BOOM!

Amy, Evie & I went down to Red, White & BOOM! last night with my parents at the Pepsi/WNCI party as usual. We all had a great time, and aside from a few early showers, the weather was excellent - not too hot, sunny or even humid. There's a longer write-up on Evie's page. I mainly wanted to share a couple more of my pics here -- I think they turned out pretty good given it's just our little Coolpix camera.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Superman Returns, Shakespeare Abridged

So Friday night "the gang" (including Brew!) got together for Superman Returns at the Arena Grand. The Arena Grand is always the place to be for taking big groups to opening night/weekend, and it's all because of two beautiful words: Reserved Seating. While it's definitely not always worth the extra $4 (or whatever it is), in these cases it's MORE than worth it -- you show up 10 minutes before the show starts, no waiting in line or stressing, you walk in, there are your seats together and waiting for you. Thanks to Hutch we were smack-dab in the front and center of the balcony.As for the movie, well I think Dave's Long Box summed it up pretty well:

Superman Returns is better than Batman Returns, but not as good as Batman Begins. It's also not as good as X-Men 2, but it is better than The Fantastic Four and is about a third as good as both Superman and Superman II combined. It's not up there with Blade, but it's twice as good as Daredevil and five times as good as Catwoman. It would take all the combined good parts of Elektra, Batman and Robin, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze to equal half of Superman Returns, but Superman Returns would have to be twice as rad to equal The Incredibles or Spider-Man 2. Having said that, I'd say it was a little better than X-Men 3 and four times as good as Superman III and IV (separately.) It's no Swamp Thing, though.

Honestly, I enjoyed the movie quite a bit. I thought it ran kind of long, exacerbated by the fact that some parts were played pretty slow, but Routh made a GREAT Superman, looking and sounding almost creepily like Christopher Reeve, and Kevin Spacey was a freaking AWESOME Lex Luthor. Kate Bosworth was OK as Lois, but enh, it was passable. Jimmy Olsen was particularly well cast also. The story wasn't quite sure whether it wanted to focus more on Lex's plot or on all the drama associated with Superman being away and returning after so long.

Saturday night Amy & I made it down to Schiller to see Actor's Theater doing The Complete Works Of Shakespeare (Abridged). I'm very excited that this made it into this season's Shakespeare in the park - I've been dying to see it for years, and it was well worth the wait. The three man cast did a great job, especially the guy who played all the female parts - his falsetto was particularly amusing, and the random puking on the crowd was a good touch as well. I'd say my favorite parts were Romeo & Juliet, Titus Andronicus, and of course the whole second act with it's multiple takes on Hamlet. There's a chance we may make it down this weekend to see it again, that's how good it was.

Gotta run, going to see Red, White & Boom! tonight! Should be a great time, as always.