Monday, March 31, 2008

Who will be the next American Idol?

Friends, it has been too long. Let’s just say the Italian sun did me no favors, and neither did their “legendary cuisine”. I am sad to report – after giving the country from which pizza originated – that New York wins, hands down.

As expected, I have much to catch up on in terms of celebrity gossip, but I have been keeping American Idol safely by my side. Since I last wrote, one of my personal favorites, Danny Noriega, was kicked off. But so was the annoying, eyebrow-swiggling David Hernandez.

While Danny Noriega did not perform to his fullest potential, I truly do believe he sacrificed the popular vote for self-expression. Kudos to that much. I hear he’s going to be working for Rosie O’Donnell?

And the David Archuleta pendulum continues to swing back and forth: I love him more than ever now, but am – with bated and forlorn breath – counting the weeks till he is booted off. I think it’s pretty inevitable – the hype has grown beyond his 5’5’’/5’6’’ frame and people are quickly tiring of him. With the advantage of having heard the studio versions of his last few performances, I can say that the botched performance of “We Can Work It Out” could have easily matched or surpassed his performance of “Shop Around” – if he hadn’t forgotten the lyrics with a panicked smile. I’m not sure what, at this point, he can do to make himself more interesting or gain more fans, as even his best will be mediocre in comparison to “Imagine”. That’s just the downside of peaking early.

The teen/sympathy vote will keep him going for a few more weeks, but like the presidential election, a lot of the fading contenders’ (Jason Castro, Ramiele Malubay) votes will go to fight “the lesser of two evils”. I’m still questioning whether his trip-ups are genuine or just a ploy to gain sympathy and make him appear more flawed. And for the record, the evil stage-dad rumors – publicity at any cost – seem neither to help nor hurt him.

Anyway, he’s got it made. He’s going to sign a recording contract when this is all over, American Idol or no.

[Photo courtesy of]

The other Mormon on the show, the 24-year-old married Brooke White is quickly losing her appeal. She continues to sing songs in the same style, with that same vulnerable, pitiful Corinne Bailey Rae chirpy rasp, and give the camera that sad smile. I’m not buying it anymore, and frankly, if it weren’t for her all-American pretty-good-looks, I would probably dislike her as much as I dislike Kristy Lee Cook (who needs to be booted off, STAT). Stop giving us your heartbroken smiles and playing the good-girl card. We know you’re a good girl; we know you’re LDS. Now try something new, or go back to Mesa and start making babies. Your clock is ticking, my dear.

And can someone explain to me the draw of David Cook? He’s good – I’ll give him that much (and the potential to be more attractive than most of the other male contestants). Maybe I just can’t see the big picture, but like Brooke White, I feel as if he’s pigeon-holed himself into a category that can only take him so far. If the history of American Idol is any indication, it’s pretty apparent that the winner will be, foremost, a pop star. Even success story Daughtry didn’t win.

Well, this week could be disastrous for some of our favorite Idols: it’s Dolly Parton week. Bless the Idols’ little souls, and bless our ears.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Comeback Rehabbers


Okay, I don’t care. Even if he is the guv’nah of New York. Politicians are dirty, and that’s a given.

But so are celebrities …

A step in the right direction for Britney Spears? She is slated to guest star in the March 24th episode of How I Met Your Mother. Things are looking up. She looked halfway decent last night when she went out for sushi.

[Photo courtesy of]

When did Lindsay Lohan become the happy sister and Ali Lohan the pissed one? Ali’s looking okay, though. Not like she’s 13-going-on-40 or a member of an Italian gangster family. I take that second part back. I wonder what she’ll look like when she hits nineteen or twenty. The sameish, or do you think she’ll end up down Lilo’s path with a perpetual baby bump and thunder thighs? She’s definitely got better facial bone structure than her older sis. I feel weird picking her apart like this, but the Lohans are totally asking for it. Especially Dina.

Monday, March 10, 2008

A Bunch of Nobodies

The Esquire fictional account of Heath Ledger’s last days makes my heart hurt and my stomach churn. I read the first half-page and couldn’t bring myself to read on, though Lisa Taddeo’s tone seems to become less aggressive as the piece moves forward. I think what really bothers me is the necessity of two prefaces: one by the editor and one by “Heath Ledger”. The strong opening line of the piece becomes, then, farcical. The line that makes me inexplicably uncomfortable is: “But first things first: It was an accident.”

The Hills' stars Lauren Conrad and Lo Bosworth have been popping up on celeb gossip sites a lot lately, probably because there is little else to dote on and because the Season 3 3/4 of The Hills begins on March 24th. Here is the trailer:

[Courtesy of B0NZENMiKE on YouTube]

Get excited: it looks like Lauren Conrad will lose yet more friends. This is Audrina Patridge and Whitney Port’s season to shine! And Stephanie Pratt to look like Evan Rachel Wood? New faces, same dramas.

Lastly, this is too good not to share. Jesse McCartney at his finest, in his new video "Leavin'":

There are so many things wrong with this video.
1. The 90s called and it wants its wangsta bling and unbuttoned shirt back.
2. Uncomfortable much?
3. He looks like he did in Dreamstreet, which was nearly ten years ago.
4. Why are there no sheets on the mattress?
5. What was the budget for this video? I think the mattress was the most expensive rental of all – more than the third grade substitute teacher they plucked off the streets of Van Nuys.
6. Why does this boy from Westchester County think he’s anything but upper-middle class White?
7. Couldn’t they afford a more enticing third grade substitute teacher? I mean, it’s Los Angeles. Everyone and their mother has had plastic surgery and wants to be an actress.

Oh, Jesse. Don’t you realize that no one is ever going to respect you?

Thursday, March 06, 2008

AL in more than one way

This first Thursday of March is crawling with depressing news: Patrick Swayze is battling pancreatic cancer, US mortgage foreclosures hit an all-time high, the student-body president of UNC at Chapel Hill was fatally shot, a UC Davis student had explosive materials in his dorm room, reporters and photographers are being packed like sardines in a can on the little island in Times Square that used to be the pigeons’ haven and my shortcut to work because of a pipe bomb that went off overnight … (Read amusing comments about that here.)

I’m okay with sharing my shortcut (today) with the underpaid journalists of the world, because I ran into Annie Leibovitz at lunch!!! I’m not going to lie and say that I am impenetrable to star-struckness, but I am also the girl who basically told Jesse McCartney, following an interview, that I thought he sucked in concert. So I’m walking along, in a rush to get to my lunch meeting, when I see someone facing me – looking at me. Someone who has that big poufy but long Annie Leibovitz hair. As I approach with my less-than-stellar vision, I realize it is Annie. When the girl walking just ahead of me realized it too, she turned back, which is when Annie scooted out of the way, towards the curb.

As I walked away, all these random thoughts ran through my head: wasn’t I just thinking about her this morning? (I was.) What was I thinking about? (Something creepy, you don’t want to know.) Oh, and yeah, she was on that ABC special on the British monarchy on Sunday – no, Monday night. It just so happened that I managed to watch at just the right moments to catch the only parts I really wanted to see – the Leibovitz parts. She called the Queen “your majesty” half-mockingly and a little apprehensively, as if she were a real Brit and believed in that sort of thing.

And now, writing this, I am remembering that I not only thought about Annie once this morning, but again when I was reading mail at work about the Corcoran Gallery in D.C., and how bummed I was to have missed Annie’s photo exhibition there in January.

I’ve never been as pleasantly flummoxed by someone so very much out of Young Hollywood, but come on you guys, I witnessed a piece of living American history (and my exchange with Mayor Giuliani does not count, no matter how much he did to clear Times Square of the prostitutes who would’ve inevitably been hurt taking my shortcut home from work last night). No, Annie deserves better than to be put in a category with him. She’s an American legend.

[Photo courtesy of]

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The search continues for the next American fill-in-the-blank

Surprise, surprise. Hillary Clinton is still in the game, and still keeping things precarious for the Democratic party. I’m not placing all the blame on her, but the closer we’ve come to November, the more apparent it’s become that the Democrats need Barack Obama on their ticket if they want to beat John McCain.

Props to Mike Huckabee for finally coming to his senses. What a waste of time and money.

The playing field on American Idol evened out a little bit last night, as favorite David Archuleta gave an inevitable but potentially strategized average performance of Phil Collins’ “Another Day in Paradise” and formerly average performers David Cook and Michael Johns rose to the challenge.

Last night was the first time I did not think Simon Cowell’s criticisms were dead on. I thought Chikezie did a fine job of Luther Vandross’ “All the Woman I Need” and that pretty boy Jason Castro’s rendition of Leonard Cohen and Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah” was really nothing special.

Luke Menard has been in this competition three weeks too long and needs to be booted on Thursday and Danny Noriega continues to try to shock audiences while doing a poor job of it, though he definitely has star quality. In fact, I’m beginning to see his oft-noted resemblance to Miley Cyrus.

And I’m waiting for David Hernandez to be booted off, if for no reason other than the supposedly-scandalous photos (I haven’t seen; don’t care enough) and his skeevy past as a male exotic dancer. He’s a good enough singer to stay in for now, but the use of his face to seduce the audience (namely with his eyebrows) is a huge turnoff. Somebody tell him to stop.

There’s probably a good reason I’ve never been able to make it through an entire season of American Idol: when everyone can sang, it’ll come down to differentiating talents by their increasingly annoying quirks. David Hernandez and his eyebrows, DArchuleta and his flappy lips … as for Danny Noriega, he is himself a quirk, so he can only run the risk of being madly loved or wildly hated.

[Photo courtesy of]

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

When does gender come in?

[Photo courtesy of Miramax Films]

There has been much discussion about single-sex education in the major papers in the past week, which has inevitably led to prickly discussions about gender and gender politics.

While these articles have focused on the adolescent mind and how a single-sex education can shape it, I can offer you a different perspective: that of a female who attended co-ed schools throughout her formative years and found herself in a single-sex environment for “higher education”.

Straight off the bat, I can tell you that unless you are a lesbian or bisexual or contemplating testing the waters, the social life at a women’s college is going to suck. The options are limited, particularly since most of the remaining women’s colleges are nestled in tree-filled forests and often a lengthy bus ride away from civilization and/or the opposite sex.

Sure, there are parties (or mixers, which some of the more traditional parties are called) on campus to which males from the East Coast over flock towards. But again, anyone willing to squeeze 16 to a station wagon from Princeton, New Jersey to middle-of-nowhere Massachusetts is something most people would call “desperate”. Alas, whether they are desperate or not, they are labeled as such and most girls and boys wind up going home alone, however far away it is.

Now that we’ve established that fact, let’s take a look at the reason most people go to college and the reason your parents are thunking down 160 thou or more. It’s true, academic life without the opposite sex is sweet. But probably not for the reasons you may expect: if you wish to become less timid in the classroom, chances are you would have already developed as such in middle or high school. The timid ones stay timid, unfortunately, and the contrast may be even more drastic at a women’s college, because students who opt to attend such a school are self-selecting. What you have, then, is a stigma placed around “that girl”, which often number more than just one per class and often reach nearly 50% of the class total, depending upon discipline. Which, from an optimistic standpoint, is good: you are competing against the cream of the crop. If you’re in the competition at all.

What a women’s college offers you that cannot be said for most other colleges, is the lay of the land when it comes to extracurricular activities. Because so few women wish to attend a women’s college, the top rungs of each extracurricular ladder is easier to reach. But beware of the politics upon ascension, and above all, watch what you say.

Those are the basic answers to the basic questions everyone seems to have if they are thinking of attending a women’s college. I’ve been out now for 9 months and I’m adjusting (which is a whole other story for another time). In skimming the articles and comments readers made on single-sex education, these are my thoughts on single-sex primary and secondary education: it is ideal.

More than at college or university, gender roles and politics really come into play in primary and second education. (Sensitivity to gender and gender politics is another blessing of going to an all-women’s liberal arts college.) Do you want to send your child to a school where they will pretty much be taught in accordance with either sexist or feminist ideals? Most public schools subscribe to the gender roles society seems to have predetermined for us. Those who have gone to single-sex primary and secondary schools say that they were offered much more of an opportunity to explore the arts and theatre, things that boys would likely have shied away from in a co-ed environment. Of course, if you are afraid of loosening gender roles too much, single-sex environments may not be the best for your child.

But for educational purposes, and to “make” your child more worldly, a single-sex education is ideal. Boys and girls are “made” differently, though this in and of itself could be a cause and an effect of the patriarchal society we live in, and should be catered to accordingly. But ultimately, if we’re going to undo any of the society-instilled gender roles that we have been born into, a single-sex education is the best way to go about it. Never mind being deprived of socializing with the opposite sex: he or she can make up for it when they reach college. Who cares if single-sex educated girls are particularly promiscuous in college? There’s no better time than college to live life on the edge, that's what I’ve learned.

Monday, March 03, 2008

We are not afraid, someday

What a lame day in news. Seems like everyone spent the weekend watching the Little People, Big World marathon on TLC as I did.

In fact, it seems as if Marion Cotillard, who was fast becoming American’s next foreign sweetheart, was so bored with the lack of news that she went out and stirred up some controversy. Well, actually, the writing was written on the wall late last year, but it took a while for Americans to care enough about her to find it.

If you haven’t already heard, she spoke out on the September 11th attacks and said that "I think we're lied to about a number of things …” and that the attacks were committed because “ by 1973, and to recable all that, to bring up-to-date all the technology and everything, it was a lot more expensive, that work, than destroying them.” To bring offense beyond just the Americans, she continued on, "I saw plenty of documentaries on [man landing on the moon], and I really wondered. And in any case I don't believe all they tell me, that's for sure."

Are there any Scientologists in France?

In other news, Aaron Carter was arrested for marijuana possession nearly two weeks ago in Texas, and no one cares. Rumors have been swirling that Mischa Barton will soon join the cast of Gossip Girl, but I think that’s too campy, even for Josh Schwartz. Lastly, many are looking at Hillary Clinton to drop out of the Democratic race tomorrow. We shall see, and then overcome.

[Photo courtesy of]