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by Steve Leftridge

28 Jan 2010

Everything is big in Texas, including, judging by the American Idol auditions in Dallas, the talent. It was in Dallas, after all, that the judges found Season One winner Kelly Clarkson, and the clips from those days were a reminder of how the judges looked nine years and several million dollars ago. Joining the table for day one in Big D was the generally entertaining Neil Patrick Harris, who acknowledged his role as the show’s Jerk of the Day by ironically describing his goal as to crush as many dreams and make as many people cry as possible.

The Doog may have had little sympathy for the contestants who prostrate themselves in the hallway and wail to high heaven after being cut (“If they can’t handle this heat, that [Hollywood] stage is a broiler”), but he had less opportunity to lower the boom than on previous shows. Easing up on the parade of clowns, the show focused almost entirely on promising singers, handing out a whopping 32 golden tickets, a season record. The only attempt at drama on this night was the producers’ efforts to set up a pissing contest between Harris and Simon, which wasn’t terribly convincing despite careful editing.

by Michael Landweber

28 Jan 2010

If you are like me, you’re already getting excited about the return of Lost next week.  It has been five seasons so convoluted and compelling that it is cathartic just to know that the end is in sight.  Of course, if you’re truly like me, you’ve also forgotten more about what happened in those previous five seasons than you remember. 

The producers at Lost and the good folks at ABC actually don’t get enough credit for their recaps.  Here’s their latest, which condenses five seasons in eight minutes and 15 seconds (which, by my somewhat shaky math, takes about 4,627 fewer minutes than watching all your DVDs again).  This won’t help anyone catch up with Lost, but it is a clever, funny, poignant, and ultimately useful way to warm up for the new season if you’ve been watching all along but need to be reminded exactly what the deal was with that hatch again.  Hopefully, the final season itself will be this good.

by Steve Leftridge

27 Jan 2010

Eleven thousand hopeful Los Angelinos filled the Rose Bowl to audition in front of Randy, Kara, and Simon, plus the wizened gaze of guest judge Avril Lavigne. It may be the City of Angels, but Avril showed up in a devil-horn hoodie, which fit her giggly, sneery ridicule of the contestants. Perhaps it was her snaggletooth, but Avril’s mean streak apparently rubbed off on the rest of the judges, who turned in their rudest performance of the auditions so far. At this point, the show misses Paul Abdul, if only because she was often the only one with the decency not to humiliate people to entertain the home audience. Ellen Degeneres will likely be helpful in this regard although by the time we get to her, the worst of the singers will have already been laughed off the stage.

Indeed, Avril is too old for this type of giggling (or the hoodie), and she’s also too young to scoff at some of these hopefuls. The worst it got was the reaction to A.J. Mendoza, an Adam Lambert wannabe—they are, predictably, out in droves this year—who made the unfortunate choice of singing Living Colour’s “Cult of Personality”. Mendoza badly oversang, yes, but he seemed like a nice enough guy and claimed to have gotten some encouraging feedback from Lambert himself, which gave him confidence going into the rehearsal. The judges did their best to deflate him with a blast of snickering ridicule, even though Mendoza was trying to listen to them for genuine criticism.

by Meghan Lewit

26 Jan 2010

Episode two felt like classic Project Runway, successfully resolving last week’s boring challenge issues and revealing a promisingly high level of talent. “The Fashion Farm” opened with weepy Janeane from Portland and cute-as-a-button Anna confabbing in the apartment about how they hoped the next challenge would involve something “very New York. Like, weird, eccentric New York.” Aren’t non New-Yorkers quaint?

Instead, the designers were taken out to a farm where they found their models standing in a field like a group of extremely tall Cabbage Patch Kids, dressed in burlap sacks.

by Robert Moore

25 Jan 2010

Has Fringe gone astray?

The recent episode “Johari Window” was not merely mediocre but increasingly typical of Fringe. A lackluster story about individuals who were hideously deformed as the result of military experiments but who appear normal as long as they stay within range of a signal emitted by a local broadcast tower, the episode was not only completely unrelated to the show’s central story arc but boring and dull as well. Every show has its off moments, but what is troubling about Fringe is that it has had so many of them.

//Mixed media

Robert DeLong Upgraded for 'In the Cards' (Rough Trade Photos + Tour Dates)

// Notes from the Road

"Robert DeLong ups his musical game with his new album In the Cards and his live show gets a boost too.

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