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May. 29th, 2007

David Cook - Slide

leftofcenter7

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

Book # 12: Twilight

Author: Stephenie Meyer

Pages: 499

Genre: Thriller/Supernatural Romance

Rating: C+


Description: Headstrong, sun-loving,17-year-old Bella declines her mom's invitation to move to Florida,and instead reluctantly opts to move to her dad's cabin in thedreary, rainy town of Forks, WA. She becomes intrigued with EdwardCullen, a distant, stylish, and disarmingly handsome senior, who isalso a vampire. When he reveals that his specific clan hunts wildlifeinstead of humans, Bella deduces that she is safe from hisblood-sucking instincts and therefore free to fall hopelessly in lovewith him. The feeling is mutual, and the resulting volatile romancesmolders as they attempt to hide Edward's identity from her familyand the rest of the school.


Review: Having heard and read countlessglowing reviews for this book, i decided to give it a try,considering i've long been a fan of vampire fiction. Unfortunately,this book ended up being more of a sickeningly sweet romance, then athriller involving the supernatural. Reading it, it was overlyobvious that, unlike what some other reviewers had said...this bookis in fact geared toward the teen set. The plot was just too over-topcornball for me. How many times do we really need to read the Bellacharacter describe how perfect and beautiful her sulky beau, Edward,is? In the end, i was left incredibly disappointed.

May. 23rd, 2007

David Cook - Slide

leftofcenter7

Book Challenge: Book #8 & #9 Reviews

Book #8

Title: Little Green Men
Author: Christopher Buckley
Pages: 301
Genre: Satire
My Rating: B




Description:

The reluctant hero of this novel is John Oliver Banion, a stuffy Washington talk-show host, whose privileged life is thrown into upheaval when aliens abduct him from his exclusive country-club golf course.

But were his gray-skinned captors aliens . . . or something far more sinister? After Banion is abducted again--this time in Palm Springs--he believes he has been chosen by the extraterrestrials to champion the most important cause of the millennium, and he embarks on a crusade, appearing before a convention of UFO believers and demanding that Congress and the White House seriously investigate UFOs. His friends and family suspect that Banion is having some kind of manic-depressive midlife crisis and urge him to seek therapy before his credibility as a pillar of the punditocracy is ruined.
So John Oliver Banion must choose: keep his establishment status or become the leader of millions of impassioned and somewhat scruffy new friends who want to expose the government's secret alien agenda.


Review:

While i found this book to be quite entertaining, it still lacked the all-out joyful absurdity of Buckley's latest, "Boomsday". Buckley's trademark wit and sarcastic view of Washington life, are here in all their glory. The actual ending of the book, seems a bit too pat and slapped together unfortunitely. But, the ride to that point, makes this book well worth reading.

Book #9

Title: Florence Of Arabia
Pages: 253
Genre: Political Satire
My Rating: C


Description:

The bestselling author who made mincemeat of political correctness in Thank You for Smoking, conspiracy theories in Little Green Men, and Presidential indiscretions No Way to Treat a First Lady now takes on the hottest topic in the entire world–Arab-American relations–in a blistering comic novel sure to offend the few it doesn’t delight.

Appalled by the punishment of her rebellious friend Nazrah, youngest and most petulant wife of Prince Bawad of Wasabia, Florence Farfarletti decides to draw a line in the sand. As Deputy to the deputy assistant secretary for Near East Affairs, Florence invents a far-reaching, wide-ranging plan for female emancipation in that part of the world.

The U.S. government, of course, tells her to forget it. Publicly, that is. Privately, she’s enlisted in a top-secret mission to impose equal rights for the sexes on the small emirate of Matar (pronounced “Mutter”), the “Switzerland of the Persian Gulf.” Her crack team: a CIA killer, a snappy PR man, and a brilliant but frustrated gay bureaucrat. Her weapon: TV shows.

The lineup on TV Matar includes A Thousand and One Mornings, a daytime talk show that features self-defense tips to be used against boyfriends during Ramadan; an addictive soap opera featuring strangely familiar members of the Matar royal family; and a sitcom about an inept but ruthless squad of religious police, pitched as “Friends from Hell.”

The result: the first deadly car bombs in the country since 1936, a fatwa against the station’s entire staff, a struggle for control of the kingdom, and, of course, interference from the French. And that’s only the beginning.

A merciless dismantling of both American ineptitude and Arabic intolerance, Florence of Arabia is Christopher Buckley’s funniest and most serious novel yet, a biting satire of how U.S. good intentions can cause the Shiite to hit the fan.

Review:

I'm a huge fan of Buckley's work, and having read a bunch of excellent reviews for this novel, i was excited to get started. unfortunitely, even tho the plot is a promising one, and there are a few genuienly funny moments...the majority of this book just doesn't work. It tries to be at once funny and heavy-handed at the same time. At points, Buckley gets beyond preachy, and considering the subject matter, i can understand his motives. but you can't have it both ways. either make the story satirical, or make it a serious study of the way women are treated in various middle eastern countries.
Very disappointing.


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David Cook - Slide

leftofcenter7

American Idol Rant

Now, let me first say i knew going into tonight's performance show that Blake had little to no chance of winning. but when i saw the 'winning' song performance, i heard the door slam on any hopes he had of pulling it off. This so called winning song was 1) absolutely sickeningly sweet and awful. 2) in other words...the song, which would be the last impression the viewers had of them, would be INCREDIBLY, OBSCENELY slanted in Jordin's favor. as if i needed further proof that show is fucking rigged. My dad's argument to this, is that if it was, Melinda would still be in the competition. I disagree..the fact that Melinda is gone proves my point...she would have been far harder to beat then Blake.

I have lost any respect that i ever had for the producers of this show.

Not, that Jordin didn't out-perform Blake...she did. but how could she NOT given what she had to work with. That song would have never been something that Blake would have chosen to sing, or in fact, anyone else would have picked for him. i just think it's completely unfair that he wasn't given a song more suited to his style...the way they seemed to cater to Jordin. fair is fair.

According to DialIdol, Jordin is beating Blake by about 30%. It's a joke. And i'm annoyed to the point, that if i wasn't watching the show with my dad, as bonding time...i would give it up for life.
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Mar. 4th, 2007

David Cook - Slide

leftofcenter7

Rave # 1 - "I Can't Make You Love Me" - Prince

Normally, I hate cover songs. They have always been a pet peeve of mine. For example, take a person like Rod Stewart...who for several years in the 80's, seemed to do nothing but covers of other people's songs....Tom Waits, Robbie Robertson, Bob Dylan. All of them artists who's original version of their own songs, were far superior to the copycat covers that Stewart slapped together. And the worst part about it? Stewart had the hits with them! So, being not fond of covers in general to begin with, i can honestly say the prospect of hearing someone doing another version of one of my all time favorite songs....doesn't exactly make me excited.

There have been two exceptions to this rule. And both of them involve this song. George Michael's version is better then the Bonnie Raitt version in my opinion. His voice seems to bring more emotion to it, making it more relatable, and heartbreaking....at least for me. And then there's this version....a rare, and as far as i know unreleased (though considering all the cds, bootlegs, singles, remix singles etc that he has put out since 1981...who the hell knows) version by the one, and only Prince Rodgers Nelson. Now, i make no secret of the fact that Prince is, to me, the single greatest musician of my generation. But having said that, there are many...many songs of his that i don't like. But when he nails a song...he fucking N A I L S it.

Listening to the beginning of his version, i thought it was going to just be a mirror image to the original...nothing different about it. but, leave it to Prince to put his own twist on it, in surprisingly humorous ways. He takes a song, that is at it's core, extremely bleak and depressing, and makes it fun, sexy and damn funny. Basically, turning it into a completely new song. He flips the narrative around, and turns it into another one of his attempts to seduce you, the listener(along the lines of International Lover, & Do Me...though a bit less raunchy). It's rare indeed to find the enigmatic Prince intentionally being funny, as he is here. The highlight being when he changes the lyrics at the end to "Just hold me close, between your thighs..." .

The song is refreshing, and surprisingly light for someone not known for his prankster side. Listening to it, makes me realize why I'm a Prince fan to begin with. Because no matter what, he brings something new and different to whatever he attempts. it might not always work...but when it does...it's gold.
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Mar. 3rd, 2007

David Cook - Slide

leftofcenter7

Rant #1 - Chris Daughtry

When Chris Daughtry was voted off of season 5 of American Idol, it came as a shock to many. Most of all, i believe, to Chris Daughtry himself. Looking at his face that night, when Ryan announced he was going home, i was struck with the feeling that there was a man who had already written his acceptance speech as it were. Considering all the praise that had been heaped on him from day one, i don't for a second believe he didn't take it as a given that he would hold the season 5 crown. He looked dumb-founded, confused, and more then anything...angry.

Anger seems to be Daughtry's favorite emotion these days. Even tho he has outsold all the other season 5'ers by a good margin, he doesn't seem to appreciate the fact that he's successful. or more to the point, that Idol, no matter how "restrictive" it may have been, was the main reason he ended up being that successful.

I have recently read a few articles on Daughtry, and i have been left with basically the same impression of him: that of a spoiled, crybaby. a foux 'rockstar' who didn't seem to have a problem preening around on the Idol stage for all those group numbers while he thought he was going to win. But now, that it's all over with, he complains of the insentient cheesiness of the entire experience. To me, he comes off as a sore loser. Instead of being grateful for the experience, and the exposure he gained from the show...he whines when someone refers to him as "Chris from American Idol". Yet, he is first to say how for years before, he and his band were "going nowhere". He's now sitting on a cd that has sold 1.5 million copies, and as annoying as it may be for him to admit...those album sales are thanks to American Idol. Yes, it might be uncool to associate with the show. I'm the first to admit how incredibly cornball it can be a lot of the time. but if the idea of getting up on stage and having to sing "Joy To The World" with Kellie Pickler in front of 30 million people is so insulting to your sense of Rock N Roll artistry, then why the hell sign up for it to begin with? Why? Because he, along with thousands of others, wanted the exposure Idol provides. But now that he's looking back, sitting atop the Billboard charts, it's easy for him to act pompous and arrogant. To act condescending towards the fans of AI that put him where he is. And anyone who says he's not being insulting to the fans, is mistaken. Calling the experience cheesy and acting as if the entire subject of AI is a boring chore to deal with, is insulting the millions of people who watched, rooted and voted for him every week. It's a slap in the face to the people who were heartbroken when he was voted off. For someone so angered by the whole AI machine...he didn't seem to have a problem letting one of his songs be the soundtrack for each weeks cast-off Idol, ala' Powter's Bad Day last season. I guess he doesn't mind Idol when he's getting their money.

Chris Daughtry is, i have a feeling, going to look back on this time and regret his behavior. because, the flavor of the month only lasts so long. And the adoration of the fans, can be fleeting. He needs to realize that there are literally millions of struggling musicians out there who would love to be in his shoes right now. He's selling millions of records, and selling out concerts. His video is all over tv. I think Chris from American Idol needs to channel all that anger into something constructive. Like maybe into making a half-way original rock song, instead of a Nickleback clone.
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Feb. 28th, 2007

David Cook - Slide

leftofcenter7

State's Evidence (DVD)

State's Evidence
* (1 out 5 stars)

Chronicling the 'final' two days in the lives of a group of teenagers who make a suicide pact, "State's Evidence" simply doesn't work. Considering it is a direct to dvd release, i was more then willing to make allowances for budget etc. but where the film truly fails, is in the actual script. The filmmakers want you to feel sympathy for these people...something which is next to impossible, considering their selfish and arrogant behavior throughout the movie. in the final act, we are supposed to simply forget that the ringleader of this group actually brought about the terrible events that happen ( in what i can only assume was supposed to be a big twist of an ending, but couldn't be more predictable), and actually feel sorry for this young man. Acting wise, it wasn't bad for the most part, though there were definitely moments of overacting. The last 10mins of the film seem thrown together as an afterthought, like the writers ran out of time to tell the story, so they shoved in as much as they could in the final few minutes. The main example of this, is the fact that one second you see one of the main characters counting out pills, struggling on whether or not to kill herself, and the next she is completely forgotten and never mentioned again. The filmmakers didn't even make a cohesive ending.

A similar themed film, "Elephant", while i also did not enjoy that, succeeded in making you feel outraged, but also a sense of compassion for the main character. The characters portrayed here lack any redeeming values....being so incredibly self-absorbed as not to notice how much destruction they are leaving behind them until...of course...it is too late.
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Feb. 27th, 2007

David Cook - Slide

leftofcenter7

AI Top 20 - Guys

x-posted in leftofcenter7

Thankfully, this week the guys were a LOT better. But, there were ups and downs.

Phil - Missing You ~ second week in a row where his song got off to a bad start, but he still manages to pull it off. I like him more then i liked his song choice.

Jared - Let's Get It On ~ This guy is a bit too cocky for my taste. And tackling a Marvin Gay song is a tall order, which he unfortunitely did not pull off very well. he had the attitude, but the voice didn't back it up. he was entertaining, but the vocals were all over the place.

AJ - Feeling Fine ~ I like this guy, and he did the best he could with a tough song. He hit a few bad notes, but overall he was good. Nice to see him trying something different.

Sonjaya - Steppin Out ~ Oh good grief, this was painful. i'm wondering if he actually wants to be there, since he doesn't seem to be trying very hard, or even having fun out there . it was boring, and uncomfortable.

Chris S - Trouble ~ One of my faves of the night. i'm liking him more, and more as the weeks go on. He proved tonight that he is more then just a big personality. he's got a great voice too. IMO he blew Taylor's version outta the water.

Nick - Fever ~ Just....eh. He's just forgettable. that about sums it up.

Blake - Virtual Insanity ~ Two words...kick ass! loved everything about it. i'm amazed by how much this guy has grown on me since the auditions. To me, he's the whole package...talent, personality, originality, looks.

Brandon - Time After Time ~ He keeps on disappointing me. :( I loved him in the auditions, but like Sundance and Sanjaya, he has made some weird song choices, and they haven't worked for me. He's in big trouble this week, i think.

Chris R - Geek In The Pink ~ a Jason Mraz song!!! he gets MAJOR props from me for doing that. And he did it well. He seemed to be rushing it a bit, but i liked it a lot. :)

Sundance - Mustang Sally ~ I get the feeling i'm the minority here, but i did not like it. he still seems to be completely different then he was at his first audition. Just a weird performance for me. :(

Bottom 2 prediction:

Nick & Brandon (or Nick & Sonjaya)
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David Cook - Slide

leftofcenter7

AI - Results Show Top 24

First off, i missed the show because i thought it was on at 9. but oh well.

Sent Home:

Nicole & Amy
Paul & Rudy

Antonella should have had her skinny ass sent home. >:x
David Cook - Slide

leftofcenter7

AI - Top 24 Girls

Thankfully, tonight was better then last night...but that's not really saying a lot. There were some good moments, and a few really bad ones as well. The show just went off, and i'm not familiar with all the names yet, but here's what i remember....

The Bad

Antonella - Good grief that was awful She kept her eyes closed through most of the song like she was afraid she was going to forget the words. Out of tune the entire time, just a mess.

Nicole - i could not understand a WORD that girl sang. it was hideous with a capital H

Alaina - Trying to sing the Pretenders was a BAD idea. not good at all.

The Good

Stephanie - Loved her version of one of my favorite Prince songs (tho she obviously did the Alicia Keys version of it). Great personality, and stage presence.

Gina - Loved her from the beginning. she's got spunk, and an edge that's very cool and refreshing. Her voice did crack a bit, but she still pulled it off very well i thought.

Melinda - How can you NOT love this woman? she's amazing.

Lakisha - *bows down* she kicked every person's (guys and girls) ass by a mile. Big time front runner in my opinion.

Bottom 2 - my pick

Antonella & Nicole.
OR
Nicole and Alaina

Note
Dial idol has Antonella getting the 2nd most votes last night...what the hell? people are fucktards!
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David Cook - Slide

leftofcenter7

AI - Top 24 Guys

x-posted to americanidol

Ok, count me among the many people extrememly disappionted with the show last night. Frankly, i haven't been out and out blown away by ANY of the contestants throughout the auditions, but still, last night was a big downer.

Having said that, there were a few things worth commenting on....

1. Blake. I was really surprised that he picked that song, and actually pulled it off. color me mighty impressed. even tho, i can't shake the fact that he sort of reminds me of Boogie from Big Brother (no rotten tomatoes please...)

2. Phil. The beginning of the song was painful, but he pulled it off. I love his voice. I'm a fan :)

3. Chris S. No, he's not the best singer. But, i love the guy. :)

4. Sanjaya. Terrible song choice, but gosh darnit, he's just so likable. i wanted to like his performance so much...hopefully it'll get better for him.

5. Paul. i DO NOT understand why the judges were raving about him during auditions. Too breathy and forced sounding to me. and his performance was, imo, the worst of the night.

6. AJ. Liked it. Alot. One of the bright spots.

7. Sundance. Good. Lord. Painful...painful. I couldn't believe how completely different he sounded last night. I liked him so much at his first audition, and now it's like he's a different person, and i'm wondering what the heck happened?

8. Chris R. Not my cup of tea, but whatever.

As far as who's going home...i think everyone with the exception of Blake, Chris R, Phil, & AJ could be gone. Let's hope the girls kick butt tonight.


Side note: I for one, wish they would retire some of those songs. I get awfully tired listening to the same damn ones every season. Which is part of the reason i loved Blake and Chris S so much...they picked songs that haven't been done before, and it was sooooo refreshing.


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