Sunday, June 25, 2006

Top 10 Things I Learned From The World Cup

10. Soccer is one of the few male sports where weight apparently matters. The Brazilian president "weighed in" on Ronaldo's weight gain, asking his teammates if he was fat. He's 198 pounds. That is kinda big for a striker. But he's not fat, he's big-boned! ESPN in-studio commentator Eric Wynalda went off on USA coach Bruce Arena on several different occasions after the U.S. was eliminated. One of his rants on the Mike and Mike morning show included something about the "fat" coach making faces on the sidelines. Wynalda also said he wanted heads to roll down the street. While I agree in theory that the U.S. had a horrible showing and things need to change, it makes me laugh to hear Wynalda say it like that. Because, um, wasn't Wynalda on the 98 team that came in dead last at the World Cup?

9. The English players' wives and girlfriends (aka the WAGs) are the equivalent of Hollywood's Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton and Tara Reid. They shop all day and party all night. And they get as much pub as the English team. They make tabloid headlines such as "WAG rage" after being stranded at an airport and getting treated worse than "a dog" while their plane was being refueled.

8. England's win over Ecuador this weekend may be attributed to the WAGs after all. Ecuador had a six week sex ban imposed upon them by their manager, and they left the wives and girlfriends home so as not to distract them. Hmm ... looks like the distractions worked, since England won 1-0 on a David Beckham free kick that he bent like ... himself.

7. Watching soccer is so much better on KMEX or Univision than on ESPN or ABC even if you don't understand anything more than "GOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

6. Even if you watch World Cup games on the Spanish channels, you cannot escape that annoying Taylor Hicks Ford commercial. I cannot wait till Ford's blasted clearance is over!

5. I need to go back to Geography class because up until the World Cup, I had no idea where Tunisia and Togo are (in Africa).

4. If you need to score some goals to advance in the tournament, you shouldn't play a 4-5-1. Oh wait, I already knew that (BRUCE!)

3. If this new soccer ball they are using at the World Cup is supposed to make it better for players to strike from long distance (as we have seen with so many long-range bombs that have gone in for goals), you should at least try one long-range bomb if you need to score goals (U.S. TEAM!)

2. If you wanted to get lots of U.S. fans together to watch a World Cup game, you'd get way more people for a Korea or Mexico match than a U.S. match. Just contrast the live shot of the Korean fans at the Staples center last week to the ridiculous shot of people going about their business on Times Square for the last U.S. match. Or even to the shot of a few people in a tent at Columbus Crew stadium.

1. If you're playing for the U.S. in Europe, you're screwed. Everyone hates you, including the referees. And the U.S.-based announcers who are former National Team players (ERIC WYNALDA!)

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Katharine's Bombshell

Katharine McPhee revealed to People Magazine in their next issue that she has been fighting the battle against bulimia for years. On Extra, the People reporter who interviewed Kat said that she got help for her eating disorder and has dropped 30 pounds and gone down three dress sizes since. Katharine said in an interview before the finale that once she stopped worrying about the food, the weight just came off.

I can't fathom how awful she must have felt when the pregnancy rumors surfaced about her during the semifinals after she wore less than flattering clothes. Because when someone says you look pregnant, it really means you look fat. It's bad enough to hear it period, but to hear it while you're battling an eating disorder? Yikes.

It can't help that she started getting so many compliments on her looks as she started to shed the pounds. I think that's why she looked so annoyed at Paula when she started her critiques that way.

I have to hand it to her for coming forward with this revelation. It's a gutsy thing to do to admit that to the whole free world, and I hope she continues to get better.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Hoff Makes A Comeback

The guy comes out of Obscurity-ville USA to become one of the most talked about celebrities this past month. Yes, The Hoff is back.

David Hasselhoff must have a hell of a publicist because he's popping up all over the place in the land of pop culture. First, he was caught crying on air after Taylor Hicks was named the American Idol last month.

Soon thereafter, he became something with which to taunt Dallas Maverick star Dirk Nowitzki. The German superstar is a fan of the Hoff and told a reporter that to help with his focus, he hums Hoff's European hit song "Looking for Freedom" while at the free throw line. Miami Heat fans have taken to harrassing Nowiztki with that tidbit, chanting "David Hasselhoff" and waving cardboard cutout faces of the Hoff whenever Dirk went to the free throw line. And tonight, the Hoff is a judge on Simon Cowell's latest show, America's Got Talent, which is like a cross between the Gong Show and American Idol.

About Hoff's cryfest at Idol ... he went on Star 98.7 this morning to plug America's Got Talent, and the Star DJs and guest host Ross The Intern gave the Hoff a hard time about crying. The Hoff explained himself. He was sitting with a close friend of his who has brain cancer and was told he only had six months to live. But there he was at the Kodak nine months later still living. After the winner was announced, his buddy was crying and turned to the Hoff and said "It's great to be alive", which started the waterworks that were shown on air. So no more making fun of the man for crying at Idol anymore. I'm sure there will be plenty more things to make fun of him about anyway! (And if you want to start, try doing a Google image search for David Hasselhoff. SCARY!)

Saturday, June 17, 2006

In The INXS Afterglow

Went to the INXS concert at the Greek Theater Friday night (thank you kind eBayer and the eBay gods who looked down on me as I miraculously became the only bidder on an opening bid of $49.99 for two tickets ... yay!).

First of all, it's a great venue for a concert. It's outdoors, and in LA, the weather is almost always perfect. Tonight, it was a little warm for my tastes, but it's all good in the hood. It's better than cold. Plus, the sound quality is top-notch, and even the back row seats are good seats. I was in the back row of the middle section, and I had a great view of things. It's stadium seating, so it makes it easier to see.

So seeing a concert in a fantastic place like the Greek and then adding to it a great, entertaining band with a great catalog of music, and you've just got a highly enjoyable concert experience.

The band was introduced by 80's DJ icon Richard Blade, who said the last time he introduced a band at the Greek Theater it was INXS in the 90's. He went on to say that he had the pleasure of being friends with Michael Hutchence and has now become friends with JD Fortune as well, and that he thinks Michael is looking down at them and smiling.

The show opened with "Suicide Blonde". BTW, what the hell does that song mean? Is it like all the Duran Duran songs ever made - you just don't know what the heck they are singing about? Like really ... "The reflex is an only child just waiting by the park", "The union of the snake is on the prowl" ... WTF does that mean?! Anyway, I guess if you take the lyrics literally Suicide Blonde is the color of her hair. Heh. Without that line, I would have guessed it was a drink. haha

Anywhoo! JD sounded terrific tonight, and he came out looking smokin' hot in a pimp suit, pimp hat and pimp cane. Kirk Pengilly also looked nice in a suit and orange shirt. Jon Farris (meowwww) was rockin' a white shirt. Garry Gary needs a haircut.

I can't remember the setlist exactly. So I'm sure this will be totally out of order. Let's see if I can even remember the songs. I know there's one I'm missing that I couldn't place the name of ... one of their less popular older songs, perhaps?:

Suicide Blonde
Devil's Party
By My Side
Hot Girls (has never been my favorite; I would have much rather heard Perfect Strangers)
Original Sin
Afterglow (pretty!)
Mystify
Never Let You Go (never liked this song on the CD, but I love it live)
Taste It (JD did some freestyle almost-rap while introducing the band during this song. When he introduced Kirk, Kirk grabbed a toy blow-up sax from the audience. heh! And yes, JD did do some, um, things to the microphone at the end ... while wearing a black t-shirt that said "SLUT")
Hungry
Need You Tonight
What You Need
Devil Inside
Pretty Vegas (the glittery megaphone is no more. Sniff!)

Encore:
New Sensation (some chick somehow got on stage and was dancing with JD near the end of this song. How she got up there, I have no idea. Security came from across the other side of the stage to remove her and practically tossed her back down to the pit. Well, maybe hopped her back down. Haha)
Amazing Grace (a capella with the background singers)
Never Tear Us Apart
Don't Change

I think they got the best crowd response from their last part of the set - from Need You Tonight on. What You Need and Devil Inside were probably the most rockin'. JD really got the crowd singing on a couple of songs and turned the mic on us on one or two songs. You could also hear a lot of people singing Never Tear Us Apart, especially the "and some of us don't know why ----" part.

Anyway, I loved the concert. It was a huge improvement from the other time I saw them in January at San Manuel Casino (horrible venue, bad sound, shaky floor ... do not recommend for a concert!). JD was sick at the time, and they were pretty new, so it wasn't the tightest concert ever. And he had some serious pitch problems with "Hungry" back then. Tonight, no pitch problems. Yay!

Scott Stapp opened the concert with a set of half new songs from his solo album and half Creed classics. I much preferred the Creed stuff, as did most of the crowd, naturally. There was this one lady right up front against the stage who was so into his set, though. She was like the lone ranger up front, the only person standing up by the stage. And she was flashing the RAWK hands the entire time. When she wasn't pantomiming, that is. Yes, I said pantomiming. When Scott Stapp sang "With Arms Wide Open", she was aping what he was singing. For instance, "If I had just one wish, only one demand", she'd be holding up one finger. "With arms wide open" invoked outstretched arms from her. On "Higher" it was pointing up while he sang "Up high I feel like I'm alive for the very first time". It was CLASSIC! It was a great source of entertainment (especially since I wasn't a big fan of Scott's newer songs, especially his latest single "Justify". "Sublime" was kind of cool, but I think I liked the instrumentation more so than the lyrics and stuff. But I do have to say that he was in fine voice tonight! Now if he could just stop singing from his knees so damn much ...)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Gray Is The New Hot?

Gray-haired Jay Leno look-alike Taylor Hicks has been named People Magazine's Hottest Bachelor. Over former People's Sexiest Man Alive winners Matthew McConaughey and George Clooney. Over Wentworth Miller, Nick Lachey, Josh Lucas, Paul Walker, and Jake Gyllenhaal, amongst others.

Um, yeah. Taylor's hotter than those guys? Taylor's not even hotter than Ryan Seacrest!

I guess hot is in the eye of the beholder, but I just don't see it. Talented? Sure. Hot? Umm ... No.

Anyway, Taylor doesn't seem to want to stay a bachelor for very long. According to this story, he exchanged glances with some mystery woman on an airplane recently, and he wants to find her, so People magazine is setting up an email for the woman to contact him. I hope that works out for him so he can stay out of the Hottest Bachelor issues because "Taylor" and "hot" do not compute.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Preview AI5 CDs

If you want to hear the AI5 album and CD singles without lining the pockets of 19E, ahem, before deciding if you want to purchase them, Clear Channel radio stations are putting the full versions on their stations' websites.

You can listen to the cast album, Taylor Hicks' "Do I Make You Proud" single, and Katharine McPhee's "Over the Rainbow"/"My Destiny" single On Demand here.

The cast album is saddled with curious song choices (Why "Think" and not "Since I Fell For You" or "Until You Come Back To Me" for Katharine? Why "Superstition" and not "Best I Ever Had" or "Real Good Man" for Bucky?) and some typical Idol cast album Casio sounds. I think Paris Bennett fares best with "Midnight Train To Georgia", and Chris Daughtry's "Wanted Dead or Alive" is the most modern track on the CD with the best arrangement - no Casios to be found!

Elliott Yamin and Mandisa are not as lucky. Their "Moody's Mood For Love" and "I'm Every Woman" (respectively) are so over-produced that their amazing voices are muddled within the cheesy instrumentation and arrangements. Taylor does a good job channeling Michael McDonald on "Taking It To The Streets", and Katharine does a good job channeling her fellow Notre Dame HS alum Kirsten Dunst (aka t-t-t-Torrance) with her too-perky version of "Think". Lisa Tucker suffers a bit of the same fate with "Signed, Sealed, Delivered", which sounds like a Disney track. Ace Young has some moments on "Father Figure", but good gravy that song is so long! Melissa McGhee does well with "What About Love", but I still think she sings the song too high. Bucky Covington's "Superstition" does nothing for me, nor does Kellie Pickler's "Walking After Midnight". She should stick to comedy. She was great on Leno! And Kevin Covais does nothing but make me want to turn it off. Good thing it's last!

As for the singles, "Do I Make You Proud" is a bit over-produced, just like every other Idol single ever made. I think I like the live version better. Taylor sounds a bit more muffled on the record than he did unleashed on stage.

"Over the Rainbow", which was apparently produced by David Foster, is quite different from Kat's live versions. I think I also like the live versions much better. "My Destiny", on the other hand, is so much better recorded, but it couldn't have been worse than the live version! She sounds good on this, but the ending of this song is always going to be problematic for her if she sings it live, though. It'll be her "Since U Been Gone", I guess, since Kelly can't sing that live either. I don't think any of these songs will get her any kind of radio airplay, except maybe on some AC stations, but I think she'll end up being more of a TV/movie personality than a singer anyway.

National Firestorm Over National Anthem

Well not really, but it's insanity out there in cyberspace with talk about Elliott Yamin's rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner at the NBA Finals on Sunday. (Watch here)

The die-hard Yaminions think it was the best anthem that ever anthemed. The non-fans are nearly putting it in the same category as Rosanne Barr. As a casual fan who did not have a horse in the AI5 race and, in fact, likes Elliott, along with many of the contestants this year, I have no ulterior motive, just an honest opinion. It was dreadful. He was fine until he got to the dreaded "And the rockets red glare/The bombs bursting in air" part. The song's incredibly rangy, and he goofed by starting in a key too high, a mistake I have seen so many people make on this song. So he turned it into a white hot melismastic mess, using runs to get to notes he could hit. I was horrified for him.

So after the performance, message boards were set ablaze with people talking about it. People who didn't like it got chastised by Elliott fans eager to defend their boy. The mods at TWoP are oh-so-close to locking the thread because people can't stop talking about the boards on the boards. There's so much "I can't believe you thought it was bad" ... "All the haters are coming on board to criticize at the first chance they could" ... "Taylor or Katharine couldn't have sung this song as well" ... "8 pages of posts for a song a lot of people say they think was horrible is getting a little out there" ridiculousness out there, you'd have thought that people were suggesting that Elliott burned the flag while he was singing.

Get a grip, people! Seriously! In some people's opinions, it just wasn't good.

So in the interest of equal-opportunity hating, and to show that it's ok to not like something your favorites do, here are some performances I found to be dreadful from from Idols that I like (and seriously, I like Elliott. I think he's one of the most genuine guys who have ever been on the show and a great singer too):

Kelly Clarkson - "It's Raining Men", countless TV performances of "Miss Independent" and "Since U Been Gone" (good lord, she cannot sing that song live!)
Justin Guarini - "Someday We'll All Be Free", "PYT"
Tamyra Gray - "New Attitude"
Bo Bice - countless TV performances of "The Real Thing" when he was sick, that country song he did that was so blah that I can't even remember what it's called or how it goes
Anwar Robinson - "I Believe I Can Fly", his dancing in "September"
Katharine McPhee - "The Voice Within", "Against All Odds", "I Believe I Can Fly", "My Destiny"
Elliott - "Open Arms"
Paris Bennett - "Wind Beneath My Wings", "Conga"

So basically what I'm saying is I hate when people dismiss honest opinions as being laced with hatorade. :P

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Synthesizer-less 80's Sounds

I just discovered this CD that just came out last week - 80's Hits Stripped. It's crazy because so many 80's songs are so synthesized, so when you strip it down, it almost becomes a different song.

Just from listening to some samples, I can point out some gems: "Missing You" by John Waite, "These Dreams" by Heart, and "No One Is To Blame" by Howard Jones (I was soooo impressed with HoJo when he did that TV show Hit Me Baby One More Time last summer. His cover of "White Flag" was the best cover done in that whole series). But those are songs that lend itself to be sung this way. Some others ... well, "She Blinded Me With Science" and "The Metro" are about as synthesized as they got back then. Stripped down, it just sounds weird now. But it's cool to hear new twists on old songs.

Here's the track listing:
1. Jessie's Girl - Rick Springfield
2. Down Under - Colin Hay
3. Your Love - The Outfield
4. The Metro - Berlin
5. No One Is To Blame - Howard Jones
6. Rebel Yell - Billy Idol
7. Only The Lonely - The Motels
8. 867-5309/Jenny - Tommy Tutone
9. Missing You - John Waite
10. These Dreams - Heart
11. She Blinded Me With Science - Thomas Dolby
12. Promises, Promises - Naked Eyes
13. Heat Of The Moment - Asia
14. Our Lips Are Sealed - Jane Wiedlin
15. The Stroke - Billy Squier

Speaking of redoing old songs, I came across Rick Springfield's website a few weeks ago, and I saw that he did an album of covers last year. Amongst the songs he redid were a surprisingly decent "Under The Milky Way", "Broken Wings" with Richard Page from Mr. Mister, and "Waiting for a Girl Like You".

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

No Mystery With Live and Chris

A studio recording of Live's new single "Mystery" with Chris Daughtry has surfaced. It can be heard and downloaded on Live's MySpace or on Friends of Live.

I must say, it sounds really good. And it is a lot better to hear it rather than see it. The whole Dr. Evil/Mini-Me thing was throwing me for a loop. Anyway, the original is already starting to get a good amount of airplay, especially on Star 98.7. I've already heard it two or three times today. If they released this version, it would totally blow up. Although I don't know what it would do for Live's "cred". But they've already shown up on Idol, so if that was an issue, this wouldn't make it worse. Besides, it's not as if they're recording with Clay Aiken.

If Chris can get the right material, he could really be big. If he gets saddled with 19E/RCA's usual crap, though, those 15 minutes will be ticking sooner than he thinks.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

eBay No Longer eVil

I bid on some tickets at eBay for the INXS concert at the Greek Theater in a couple of weeks. I was winning that auction for a good amount of time, and with about one minute left in the auction, I was winning those tickets at the sale price of about $66, with a max bid of $80. Then all of a sudden, someone swooped in and outbid me, and by the time I could refresh my page to rebid for $88, the auction ended, and the two middle section seats went for $87.50. Raaaargh! I was pissed.

I decided to employ those same tactics for another set of tickets in the middle section, but in the last row of the section. The starting bid was at $49.99, so with about two minutes to go in the auction, I put in a max bid of $88. Turns out that I didn't even need to do that. No one else bid on the tickets, so I got two tickets to the concert for $49.99 total. The face value for one ticket was $79.50 + Ticketmaster fees! So hella big bargain for me!

I got the tickets today. They look totally legit. I'm sure the nice gentleman who sold the tickets probably expected more for it, but them's the breaks! Lucky me!!!

So now I'm all for buying tickets to anything through eBay. I'm trying to score some semi-affordable Andrea Bocelli tickets for my dad, but I don't think that's happening. Kelly Clarkson tickets aren't going for cheap either. American Idol tickets? Prices are through the roof. It's so ridiculous. Maybe the day before people will be trying to unload them ...

Friday, June 02, 2006

How Do You Spell Sports?

Sports. S-P-O-R-T-S. Sports.

That is about the only thing that sports should have in common with the national spelling bee - that "sports" could possibly be a word used in the competition (in the earlier rounds for dumb people, that is).

So why is the spelling bee televised on ESPN and covered by sports media? Because it's a competition? Well, so is American Idol and the Miss USA pageant, but they don't show it on SportsCenter!

PinnacleSports.com took bets on the spelling bee, for things as goofy as whether the final word would have the letter "e" in it (yes) or whether the winner would wear glasses (no). That particular company had $70,000 in wagers about the spelling bee.

Anyway, congrats to the 13-year old Jersey girl who won by spelling some word I had never even heard of before and wouldn't even know how to pronounce, much less spell (ursprache). I was once a spelling bee champ in grade school. I think I won the district title for my age, or something like that. I think that was the year after I spelled "alphabet" with an extra "a" at the end during our school's spelling bee. Freudian slip, I guess. I must've been hungry at the time.