Thursday, January 29, 2009

Yay for a New Season - Hell's Kitchen: 1.29.09

Gordon Ramsey's back!

300 Semi-finalists were invited to meet Ramsey, and from that, 16 were chosen.

The contestants (and their signature dishes):

Danny, 23, Executive Chef from Florida: Maji Gone Bananas. Ramsey called it hideous, and when Danny said he pulled the idea out of his ass, Ramsey said he should put it back there, because it sucks. *snort*

Ben, 26, Executive Sous Chef, Chicago: Pan seared pecan duck breast. Ramsey said it was the best dish on the men's team by far.

Colleen, 41, Culinary instructor from Nebraska. Chicken Enchiladas with Poblano Cream Sauce. Ramsey thought they looked like diapers. She's a culinary instructor, but she's not a trained chef. What? Well, I would hate to be in her class. Ramsey spit it out, and said that he felt like he should have plastic wrap on his ass. She piped up then and said she also teaches manners. Say what now? Everyone cringed, and Ramsey sent her back to the line.

Carol, 30, Sous Chef: Roulade of Veal with caramelized onions. Ramsey called it delicious.

J, 32, Food Court Chef: Nothing except for calling his dish "An F"

Giovanni, 37, Executive Chef: Not worth mentioning except that Ramsey didn't think his rice was cooked properly.

Ji, 33, Private Caterer: Miso sake marinated chilean sea bass. Ramsey loved it.

Wil, 26, Quality Control Chef:Rabbit two ways. Ramsey said it looked like the plate had been dropped. He appreciated the flavor, though.

Paula, 28, Executive Sous Chef: Delicious.

Lacey, 24, Corporate Buffet Cook: Chicken in blackberry sauce. Ramsey hated it.

Coi, 22, Cafe cook: Ramsey called her dish delicious

Charlie, Prep Chef: Ramsey called the plate a joke, and said it looked like a Ferris Wheel of lamb chops? Pork chops?

Andrea, 30, Line Cook: No mention of what the dish was, but Ramsey called it spot on.

Seth, 27, Private Party Chef: Cinnamon Crusted lamb chops, with aubergine ratatouille. Wish honey. Ramsey spit it out, and called it the worst dish he'd ever tasted. Seth's assumption that he and Ramsey have the same cooking style is completely debunked.

LA, 22, line cook: Screwed up Fish and Chips, according to Ramsey. Boo!

Robert, 29, Line Cook: A giant hunk of potato and white truffle wrapped chilean sea bass. He looks like he should have been a contestant on The Biggest Loser instead of this show. Just saying. His bass was good, but the sauce was clumsy.

Immediately after they were chosen, they were set right to work (in a men's team, and a women's team) to make their signature dishes for Ramsey (see above). Not all of the dishes were well described.

The winner will win $250,000 and a spot at a new restaurant in a high end Casino in Atlantic City.

They have to come up with Dynamic Team names. Some of the suggestions are really idiotic.

It's time for prep, and I instantly hate Lacey, who proves to be utterly incompetent on the line, and walked out of the kitchen, to go up and have a hot pocket or something in the apartment. What?

Over in the men's kitchen, Ramsey Wannabe Seth has no idea how to do anything in a busy kitchen, and gets on everyone's nerves.

The women's team calls themselves Saffron (though Spice Rack was a runner up)

The men's team calls themselves Blues Brothers.

Giovanni and Carol are going to be waitstaff tonight.

Ramsey made Charlie shave off his ridiculously long beard, saying "I don't want a 12" ginger pubic hair in their souffle."

Coi asked Lacey to help her make a souffle, and Lacey said that she is sick of working with stupid bitches in a kitchen with women. I wonder when she will realize she is the top offender.

With that tension in the air, Hell's Kitchen is open.

Giovanni can't answer a diner's question about what Polenta is. What? What kind of chef doesn't know what polenta is?

Carol brought the first order to the Saffron kitchen pretty quickly. Lacey proved incapable of cooking a scallop, and blamed the equipment.

Ben and Robert can't cook spaghetti, and Colleen put marscapone cheese in spaghetti with lobster, which is not in the recipe. Ramsey called her on it.

Then the power went out, but the ovens are still working. I wonder if it's a set up, though Dramatic Announcer Guy said it was a faulty generator.

Problems arise in the kitchens, but Carol just kept giving customers wine to keep them happy. That's a method.

The power was out for 20 minutes, then the kitchen reopened to Colleen's ineptitude, starting a new spaghetti in a dirty pan.

Ben and Robert were getting appetizers out, but Giovanni had no idea who ordered what, and that was embarassing.

Colleen tried to cook all the spaghetti in the kitchen in one fell swoop. Not a good idea.

Seth (who Ramsey calls Forrest), is also incompetent.

Colleen made a sweet risotto using sugar instead of salt. Ramsey called it the worst he's ever had ever. Over in the men's kitchen, Wil couldn't get anything cooked properly.

3 hours into service, customers started leaving instead of waiting any longer for their food, and Ramsey shut the kitchen down.

He said in cooking performance, both teams were very weak. Carol's tables rated her above average 88% of the time. Giovanni's performance was rated below average 90% of the time. That puts the men in the bottom this week, and they have to nominate two people to go.

They nominate Wil (he actually nominated himself, owning up to his problems), and Seth and Giovanni were mentioned as well. Wil and Seth are the final nominations, and a lot of people spoke up for Wil, with Robert actually offering to take Wil's place on the chopping block, but didn't, since Wil nominated himself. Seth is an arrogant ass, and I hope he leaves. Wil says that he wants to undo the damage that he did in the kitchen, and show him how much better he can do.

Ramsey sent Wil home, which I disagree with. As my husband said, Wil didn't try to send something bad, whereas Seth tried to pass over bad stuff.

And Lacey thinks she did "pretty damned good." I beg to differ. She was an embarassment.

A good start, though. It's going to be an expletive filled season!

American Idol: 1.29.09

Two cities tonight - the final night of first auditions.

NYC and Puerto Rico

Adiola Adegoke (19, Bronx) She quit her job because she is so sure of herself. That was not a good plan. Hasn't she ever heard the phrase Don't quit your day job? I'm pretty sure it was created for people like her. I knew she was doomed when she compared herself to Mariah Carey. That's the end, right there. Crawl back to your job and beg for it back, because you are not going to be a star in the music business. Simon called her shockingly bad. She begged for another chance. Simon said he would call her boss to try to get her job back for her, but she just burst into song again at that offer. Bad idea. Bye. and bye. They actually got her boss on the phone, and Simon talked to the boss to get her job back. That was solidly nice of him.

Jorge Nunez (20, Puerto Rico) He's got a fantastic voice, though it's rather theatrical. He sang a Spanish version of My Way, with a lot of power. The judges asked him to sing something in English, and he sang What a Wonderful World, in an arrangement I've never heard (was it his own?). It was very nice. Jorge is in.

Jessika Baier (20, Michigan) She won a contest in Michigan to go to Puerto Rico with 9 of her friends and family. She's a professional singing contest entrant basically. She had a really good voice in there, but I wish she hadn't sung Celine Dion. It was just too much. Simon hated her. She begged for another chance, because she is so nervous. Paula said it was really shrill. It was just a bad audition.

Enter montage of bad singers, set to You're No Good.

Melinda Camille (22, Stratford, CT) She thinks that she is happiest dancing naked in her room. That's a bit... much ... to admit at an audition. She thinks there is a shift going on in the universe, and she wants to be part of it, and bring people happiness. She said that she wouldn't mind joining a nudist colony. The girl is a bit of a weirdo (understatement of the episode), but she has a really great voice. Simon called her a happy little thing. Randy called her pleasant. Kara compare her to a vitamin boost. With four yes votes, she's through. Bet there was lots of naked dancing in her room that night.

Jackie Tom (27, Silver Lake, CA) I have to like a girl who sings Jason Mraz. She's a lot raspy, but that's her sound. Simon asked for a different song, with more singing. It was a wise request, because she's much better. I love Jason Mraz, but ... he's just so original, it's not wise to try to copy him. Simon told her the worst thing she could do is ask who she should be (and then the window blew in onto him. That was weird. Production crew ran in and fixed it). She's through.

Cue strange montage of Puerto Rican awfulness, to the strains of Wicked Game, and featuring many people begging for more chances, and then some very energetic rejectees from both cities, and a faux rocker comic dude with a boombox and terrible wig. So not good.

Joel Contraros (27? Puerto Rico) He's known as the Crazy Rocker. He's like Pauly Shore a bit to me. He arrives to the audition inside a giant cardboard iPod. He's predictably awful. Simon said it was everything he hates. Because Simon hated it, Joel grabbed more props and broke into even more song. Just no. Kara said it was weird. Joel and his iPod departed, loudly, and did backflips into the pool.

Nick Mitchell, aka Norman Gentle (27, CT) Simon said he hates comedy, and Norman ripped off his stupid headband and attempted to sing (but failed). Simon told him it was dreadful, and Norman said it hurt him where people get kicked sometimes. Simon said Norman might like that, and Norman shot back "Like you do, when Seacrest does it?" Simon thought that was funny. He then sang Amazing Grace, and was froggy and nasal, but carried the tune, though threw some faces. Kara said she was entertained, and Paula loved him, and even though Simon voted no, Randy let him through to Hollywood. Insane.

Ashley Hollister (21, Hasbrouck Heights, NJ) Just a snippet of her, but she was lovely.

Kenny Hoffpauer (16, Havertown, PA) See, he does justice to Jason Mraz, and it sounded musical and lovely.

Kendall Beard (23, Austin, TX) A nice country voice and a pretty voice.

Then a montage of people we didn't get to hear going through to Hollywood, and a short montage of awful.

Monique Garcia Torres (16, Puerto Rico) She's got the cutest little brother ever. He brought a beautiful shell in for the judges to share, but it broke, sadly. Monique herself is just lovely. She's got a wonderful voice. She sang a Celine song for her second song, and she actually managed to pull it off and not sound overdone. Simon wanted something more contemporary from her. Randy and Kara give her a no, Paula gave her a yes, and Simon voted for her to go through, even though she needs to modernize a lot. Tie breaker = Simon's choice. She can thank her little brother's charm for her chance in Hollywood.

Alexis Cohen (24, Philadelphia) The strange, freakish shimmery beotch from last year's rejection pile, is back, with a new attitude, and some chanting in Chinese? She introduced herself to people in the holding room like she was a celebrity. She isn't going to be a celebrity for anything other than being a double reject from American Idol. She just can't sing. At all. She needs to stop. Simon called it fairly horrendous, and Kara agreed that she has gotten worse. Reverting to true form, Alexis pulled the finger on them for old time's sake, and thanked him, calling obscenities over her shoulder. Ah, the crazies. Why won't they go away?

Patricia Lewis Roman (20, Puerto Rico) Patricia's parents got married at the place where auditions are. Cool. She's got a very nice voice, though she did some breathing in weird places. She's cute and appealing, too. Simon didn't think she was good enough (and hated the song choice - I Want to Dance With Somebody). They gave her a chance to sing something else, and she sang something lovely in Spanish. Randy gave her a yes. Paula gave her a no. Either Kara or Simon or both gave her a yes, because she was through to much joyous celebration by her instrument toting family and friends.

9 people went through from Puerto Rico, and 26 went through from NYC.

Next week? Hollywood begins. Will we see more singing, or just more drama? That remains to be seen.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Top Chef - 1.28.09

Oh, Radhika, if only you had been a better leader, you could still be here. sigh.

(This Top Chef, and all others, blatantly sponsored by Glad, as evidenced by gratuitous Glad product shots in the kitchen while Carla was chatting.) Leah said that she and Hosea will not hook up again, and Stefan is feeling like Top Dog.

And it's time for Quickfire.

Scott Conant is the guest judge this week. In Top Chef time, the Superbowl is right around the corner. (This was taped months ago, so it's all pretend). The chefs write their name in squares and get a food group, and after that is revealed, they got a secret ingredient on the other axis. It was pretty complicated.

Jamie got fruits, Leah got seafood, Fabio got vegetables, Hosea got meat, Stefan got Dairy, Carla got Nuts & grains, and Jeff got poultry.

Their secret ingredient was.... oats! Because this a Quaker Oats Food Group Challenge. They have to create a dish using oats and featuring their food group, and use the oats in a new way.

And Fabio gets the quote of the week so far with "I am not excited about vegetables. There is no good reason to eat vegetables when there is meat and seafood around."

Hosea pronounced Wienerschnitzel with a W sound instead of a V, which was humorous to me. Jeff (according to Carla) couldn't "quiet the creative monkeys" and focus. The dishes look interesting.

Stefan - Banana Mousse with Quaker Oats and a Oat-Almond Petit Four. Looked good.

Fabio - Quaker Oat Crusted-Eggplant with corn and parmesan salad. It was kind of crazy looking. Fabio was offended when Scott picked on his food.

Carla - Pecan & Oatmeal Crusted Tofu with oatmeal and lentil salad. It looked interesting. I would not have gone with tofu if I were her.

Jamie - Coconut & Oat crusted shrimp with nectarine salsa and avacado creme fraiche. Looked very good, and unexpected for fruit. At least she didn't do a scallop.

Hosea - Oat encrusted wienerschnitzel with warm potato salad with lemon mustard sauce. I'd try that.

Leah - Oat encrusted branzino & mussels in escarole with bacon. Leah pronounced her love for bacon.

Jeff - Oat crusted chicken paillard, grits, and fried zucchini. He used oats in everything. It's all very brown.

Leah, Fabio, and Jeff went in the bottom. Jeff's brown plate landed him there. Carla, Jamie, and Stefan landed in the top, with Stefan taking the honors (this is 5 challenges in a row). No immunity, but an "advantage."

The Elimination Challenge

They get chef jacket jerseys with their names on them, and it's Top Chef Bowl. The opposition is....

Past Season Cheftestants!

I can't keep track of who everyone was on the AllStar team. It's a head to head cook-off, with regional food from Football team hometowns.

Stefan chose his Region - and he chose Dallas Cowboys, and picked Andrea to go against.

The rest of them have 5 minutes to pick their regions, and the AllStars pick theirs.

Jeff and Josie go head to head for Miami.
Fabio and Spike are for Greenbay.
Hosea and Miguell are Seattle.
Leah and Nikki are NYC.
Jamie and Camille are San Francisco.
Carla and Andrew are New Orleans.

They will compete the next day in a 20 minute cookoff in front of Culinary students, with ingredients given. Anyone who loses their head to head will be eligible for elimination.

They got a little time to check out their ingredients and have 2 hours to fiddle with their recipes. They can only bring raw ingredients to the arena the next day.

Elimination Challenge Time. Padma is the hottest referee ever.

The rules are:

1) Two Chefs cook per round
2) Judge vote scores a 7 point touchdown
3) Fan Tasters' vote scores a 3 point field goal

Round 1 is Leah vs. Nikki. And it's not a quiet crowd (eliminated chefs are also in the audience).

Nikki's - Chicken livers with onions and goat cheese on challah bread with arugula.
Leah - NY Strip with creamed corn, snap peas and an arugula tomato salad.

Padma went for Leah, Toby went for Nikki, Scott went for Leah, and Tom went for Leah. That's 7 points for Leah. Leah only got 2 of the fan votes, so Nikki got 3 points for the AllStars.

Round 2 is Hosea vs. Miguell.

Miguell - Cedar plank salmon with noodles and mushrooms.
Hosea - Crispy salmon roll with a ginger-blackberry sauce.

The judges except for Tom pick Hosea. Hosea also took the field goal.

Round 3 - Andrew vs. Carla.

Andrew - Crayfish crudo with a spicy lime vinaigrette
Carla - Crawfush and andoille gumbo over stone ground grits.

Carla got the touchdown hands down. However, she only got one vote for a field goal, so the field goal went to Andrew.

Round 4 - Stefan vs. Andrea

Andrea - Tex Mex Chili with Fried corn chips and guacamole cole slaw
Stefan - Roasted pork with coleslaw & NY Steak salad

Padma chose Andrea, Toby chose Andrea, Scott chose Stefan, and Tom gave it to Stefan. No points for Stefan there, and the field goal went straight to Andrea. Yipes! No one is really upset about Stefan getting knocked down a notch.

Round 5 - Jamie vs. Camille

Camille - Miso sweet potato mash with mustard crab meat and salad.
Jamie - Crab Cioppini with olives, basil, and toasted sourdough.

The judges are split again, but Jamie gets the Field goal (and wins the touchdown points, too)

Round 6 - Jeff vs. Josie

Josie - Warm rock shrimp ceviche with papaya
Jeff - Roch Shrimp ceviche with sangria sorbet

Padma went with Jeff, Toby went with Josie, Scott went with Josie, and Tom went with Josie. She also took the field goal.

Round 7 - Fabio vs. Spike

Fabio brought on the charm, and talked a lot, but may have overcooked his venison.

Spike - Five-spice venison with port reduction and micro herb salad.
Fabio - Venison with mustard sauce and mache salad with cheddar

Padma went with Spike, Toby went with Fabio, Scott didn't like Fabio's overcooked venison, and went with Spike, as did Tom. Fabio took the field goal, though.

Season 5 won the challenge, but only Jeff, Stefan, and Fabio are up for elimination.

The others were called back to Judge's table to determine the winner.

Carla's love came through in her flavors this week, and Scott said that he likes watching Leah cook. Carla's love won it for her, though. She won two tickets to the Superbowl. Crazy eyes got crazier.

And who is leaving?

Fabio claimed that his venison got overcooked because it was plated on top of hot cabbage. Bull. He said in the kitchen that he thought it was overcooked. He then talked back to Scott when Scott said he should have put some acid with his greens, and Scott basically looked like he wanted to bitch slap him.

Stefan was called out for playing it safe, and counting on his opponent being weak (which she was not).

Jeff was thrown off by plastic plates, and brought up how many extra steps he made, and that should matter for something, right? Ummmm... what matters is what ends up on the plate.

In the end, it's Jeff's time to go. I am pleased with that. While the Euro-duo are annoying at times, Jeff has just been too crazy this whole time, trying to do 89 different things on a plate at a time. There's something to be said for streamlining.

Miami Ken is out. I kept forgetting he was in the competition, so I won't miss him.

Next week, they need to do some eel butchery. Fun never ends.

American Idol: 1.28.09

Salt Lake City

It's the home of Archie!

(No, I don't have his CD. No, I don't want it)

I had a history teacher in high school who commented that Mormons were the happiest people he'd ever met, as a general group. The Shiny Happy People montage seemed to agree.

David Osmond (29, Utah) Yes, he's one of those Osmonds. His dad is the oldest Osmond. Like his father, he has MS, and he is in and out of a wheelchair, without use of his hands occasionally. He is currently in a good phase, and he is able to walk and all normally. He's got a great voice (predictably) and he's very likeable. His vocal runs don't seem forced. Paula wants him to think of himself as a front man, and not part of a group (he chose a group song). They seemed to contemplate his fate, but he left the room with a golden ticket. I'm glad.

Tara Matthews (21, Salt Lake City) She's Salt Lake City's "only Goth" with a foolish outfit, and ESP. She's absolutely dreadful, so her ESP didn't tell her that she has no chance of a musical career. It also didn't tell her to quit singing if the judges are laughing.

Aleesha Turner , Katie Sullivan, Rich Hagel (of the crazy eyes and bad dyed perm) went onto the reject pile. I didn't think that Katie was so awful, but she was more theatrical. Anyway, goodbye.

Not believing in the invisibility of a Pooka, Chris Kirkham (25, Ogden, UT) was not too bad, but the giant man in the giant pink bunny suit was depressing. He was asked to lose the bunny to the sidelines, and his Simon face sign, and he started singing again. Honestly, I didn't think his voice was that bad, but his accessories doomed him.

Further validating my former teacher's statement, there was a montage of happy rejectees, thanking the judges for booting them. Seriously. Because this thankfulness was boring, Ryan told the holding room to be more sure of themselves.

Frankie Jordan (24, Hollywood, CA) Her baby is seriously cute, and she's very pretty. Her voice is very jazzy/bluesy and I kind of love her. She's got the quiet confidence in herself that makes me think she could go very far. Ryan made the obligatory "Frankie Goes to Hollywood" joke.

Megan Corkrey (23, Utah) Her son is absolutely adorable, though her babydoll dress was ridiculous. She's got another fantastically jazzy/bluesy voicce, and I could also get behind her. I love her range and the way she hopped between octaves. A very unique voice. Simon went so far as to call her one of his favorites! Woo for that! (She also has fantastic hair)

To the strains of Daily Anthem from David Cook's CD (and yes I do have that, and yes, it is really good), a bunch of nameless people were sent through.

Andrew Gibson (21, Utah) He's a bass. How often do bass singers do well in the AI world do well? Not often, so goodbye Andrew.

Austin Sisneros (17, Utah) He's a do-gooder, President of his class, and he's got a bit of a lisp when speaking, which doesn't bode well for his singing to me. He has a nice enough voice, but I wonder if he'd Archie it up if he continues. Randy questioned his song choice, and to answer that, he sang another really bad song. Randy said his perserverance was cool and gave him a yes. Kara called him honest, and Paula called him charming. Simon called him likeable. He's through. Is he this season's Archie?

The judges and the producers finally got some tears out of rejects, which they set to a suitably sad and sappy song.

Jarrett Burns (24, Utah) He was very nice. They barely showed him, but I assume he went through.

In the quick montage of terrible, there was some yodeling. Yes, I swear, yodeling. And then some terrible Mariah Carey-style runs. Yipes.

Taylor Vaufanua (16, Utah, by way of Samoa I think she said) She's 5'11" (and likes to wear heels) and gorgeous, though I think a little styling could do her a world of good. She sang a religious song that I am not familiar with, but she has a very nice voice. Kara apparently spied her in the bathroom practicing, so she knew the girl was serious. Randy said she was one of the most natural singers he's seen. She's through.

Rose Flack (17, Idaho) She's living with a friend and her family because her father died when she was 13, and her mom died when she was 15. Rose is really pretty, even though she has dread-y hair, which I could do without. Simon likes her look (I can't stand her weird sack o' dress). She sang quite nicely. She's got some talent in there, for sure. Paula complimented her aura, but said she has to work on the vocals for sure. Simon questioned her song choice, but thinks that Rose might have that X-factor. Randy said she has a cool vibe and gave her a yes. Kara gave her a definite yes. So, Rose is through. I'm happy for her. I hope that she is better than Brook White turned out to be.

12 others went through (just on day 2?) from Salt Lake. There were some real great singers. I like Rose (I agree, there is something about her), Megan, and Frankie best. I also liked David Osmond.

Special episode tomorrow night - NYC and Puerto Rico.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

American Idol: 1.27.09

Jacksonville, Florida

Let's start with a little look back down memory lane, with Randy in supa-dupa 80's hair when he was with Journey, because it is Jackson-ville, you know!

Joshua Ulloa (22, Beverly Hills, FL) He's proud to be compared to Justin Guarini. Don't know why anyone would be happy to look like Guarini. He sang Marvin Gaye and didn't do a bad job of it, including vocal trumpet sounds. He was trying just a bit - no, make that a lot - too hard, and I don't know if I love his tone, but he's got a voice in there somewhere. Simon compared it to Inspector Gadget. Randy said at least he was entertaining. He is through, in a unanamous vote.

Sharon Wilber (25, Jacksonville) She brought her little dog, and Simon held the dog (he likes little dogs). There were some points that I liked her voice, but she had some mannerisms that I really didn't like. Kara called her on doing the "baby baby" a little like Britney-like. Paula faked making out with Kara, for no particular reason, and Sharon is through. I want to see her own style.

While Ryan lost his way in a golf cart, a terrible girl (missed her name, didn't want to torture myself by rewinding) murdered a Chaka Khan song.

Kaneswa Finnie (16, Jacksonville) She is really confident, and her mom thinks she is amazing. Thing is, the girl can't carry a tune in a bucket, and her voice is so distractingly nasal, I couldn't even hear the notes properly. She argued with Simon, and said her mom thinks she's great. They sent her mom in for some tough love. Her mom attested that "she sings all around Jacksonville," which doesn't mean much. A dog can sing all around a town, and that doesn't make them good.

Jullisa Veloz (19, Orlando) She's a beauty queen, and I wish she hadn't worn the crown and sash, because the girl's got a really decent voice, but the beauty queen stuff is distracting. Simon doesn't like her laugh, which is rather strange. Paula was talked over and walked out. Jullisa urged her back in the room, and for that, I like Jullisa. She is through.

Darrin Darnell (missed his age and hometown) He's all full of energy, and entertained people in the holding room. He made friends with someone in the auditions, who got cut, which brough Darrin down a lot. He's all shaken up trying to sing It's So Hard to Say Goodbye, but I don't think his emotions are to blame for his wretched voice. It's truly painful. He needs to go be an MC someplace, and needs to stop singing. Kara wisely told him that if he can't handle this audition, then the music industry is no place for him.

Naomi Sykes (25, Tampa) She brought a friend in, who is Randy's Superfan, and she got to have a hug from Randy, and then sat on Randy's lap for the audition. Paula sat on Simon's lap, and then Ryan came in and joined Kara. For no particular reason. Unfortunately, Naomi is absolutely dreadful and has no musicality to speak, and the only notes she hit were the painfully high ones in Loving You. (Yes, the song that makes dogs across the nation come to attention)

9 people went through on Day 1. What will Day 2 bring?

Jasmine Murray (16, Stockville, Mississipi) She is the baby of a family with 3 sisters and a brother. She is pretty, that's for sure. She's got a very froggy nasal voice, the kind of voice that bugs me, but she hit all the notes well. Simon called her cute, commercial, with a very nice voice. Paula also loved her voice, and so did Randy and Kara. She's through. Why do these judges love nasal voices? Seriously, I do not understand it.

George Ramirez (18, Jacksonville) He's a physics student, and is going for the geek factor with a scary beard. Without the beard, he wouldn't be quite so odd. Simon asked him where he sees himself in 10 years, and he said he wants a simple house with marble floors. I hope he gets that dream, but he's not getting it through song. He's horrible. Just horrible. Simon asked him if he's ever auditioned or sang in public before, and he said, no just with friends. He's back to the physics books.

Ann Marie Boscovitch (23, Nashville) She sang a bit of a song from Kara, from a concert she went to. She's starstruck by Kara. (And she had an amazing voice!) She was sent back out to go back in as another person - this time as a star. I will come back to her. And coming back, I totally love her. She's got a very natural voice and she's beautiful. Can I just say, I love her hair? I'm a long hair fan, so I really love her beautiful long brown locks.

TK Hash (23, Concord, NC) He sang Imagine, and he's got a really beautiful, pure voice. He went a little over the top, the judges thought, on too many runs. Simon voted no on him, but the others all voted yes, so he's through. I'm glad (and I agree with the judges on too many runs).

Michael Perelli (18, Orlando) He's a boy with his guitar, and he was not happy that he wouldn't be able to bring his guitar in with him to the audition. He freaked out entirely about not being able to bring the guitar. He still brought his guitar into the room, and placed in in front of him when he sang. He had a decent voice, and Kara even said he could be much better with his guitar. Simon told him to go get a job and put a band together in his spare time. He annoyed the judges, and he's out.

My favorite of the night was Ann Marie, hands down. How about you?

And we are out with a medley of Walking on Sunshine. Can't nobody bring down Katrina and the Waves.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Top Chef - 1.21.09

It's time for Restaurant Wars!!

Carla feels that it's no longer about cooking, it's about psychological warfare. Leah and Hosea (who was shown mentioning his girlfriend at home) threw Ariane under the bus, and some people feel grumpy about it.

Quickfire Challenge

Guest Chef is restaurateur Stephen Starr. Everyone is thrilled to hear that this week is Restaurant Wars.

For their Quickfire, they have to do a tasting for Stephen Starr, creating one dish that will showcase their concept for a restaurant. Stephen will pick his two favorites, and those two winners will be the heads of the dueling restaurants.

They have 30 minutes. Jamie admitted to not wanting to win. Interesting.

Carla's Concept: Homemade Rustic Foods - Cod Seared in Tomato Oil with Italian salsa, mache green salad. It's undersalted.

Hosea's Concept: Mediterranean Inspired Seafood Restaurant - Shrimp with Morel mushroom cream sauce, garlic potato puree, poached asparagus. The flavor was good.

Leah's Concept: Asian inspired (Philippines)- Tempura Poussin with Dashi soy sauce and rice wine vinegar. It was called tasty.

Stefan's Concept: Euro-American - Fried White asparagus with trout, asparagus salad, and white asparagus soup. Also called very good.

Jeff's Concept: Fresh, seasonal, American fare - Grilled Salmon with sunchoke and artichoke puree, grilled corn and asparagus salad. Called mushy. Not good.

Radhika's Concept: Global Influence (Indian, Middle Eastern)- Pan-seared cod, butter braised corn, spinach & chorizo in cream sauce. Called very well seasoned.

Jamie's Concept: Seasonal Cooking - Chilean Sea Bass with Creamed Corn, bacon, peas, and garlic scape. It's simplicity was appreciated.

Fabio's Concept: Lunch-heavy meditteranean - Tuna and swordfish carpaccio, roasted vegetable salad, filet mignon sandwich. Called a little too salty.

Jeff and Fabio are on the bottom. Radhika is one of the winners, joined by Leah.

Radhika chose Jamie, Carla, and Jeff.

Jamie chose Hosea, Fabio, and Stefan.

The first day is to plan menues and shop for decor and linens. The next day they have $3000 to shop for food, and 6 hours to prep.

Radhika's restaurant's name is Sahana, which is beautiful. It means Strong in sanskrit. Radhika is bullied (basically) into being in the front. She should have chosen Jeff to be in the front of the house, so she could run the kitchen. Just my thoughts. It's based on Old Spice Routes.

Leah is in danger of being run over by domineering Stefan and Fabio.

They shop with $5000 at Pier 1. It looked like a mad house.

Jamie tries to pull Carla out of her shell and take charge of something. Carla is taking charge of desserts. Jeff lacks focus and has too many random ideas. Radhika is giving Jamie a lot of leadership, which I think is a good idea.

Stefan is refusing to divulge what his actual desserts are, and it's annoying everyone. Leah and Hosea blow off some steam by flirting a bit too much and kissing at bedtime. Oops. They both regret it in the morning. This ought to make an interesting Reunion show.

On the way to shopping, Hosea and Stefan decided to name the restaurant Sunset Lounge. Yipes. I hate that.

Jamie is stymied because there are no lamb shanks anywhere. Jeff managed to find some in the freezer. Jamie is concerned it's not going to thaw in time.

Now it's time to make those restaurants!

The Menus

Sunset Lounge

Egg roll
Sashimi Two Ways
Short Ribs
Coconut Curry Bisque
Seared cod
Chocolate Parfait
Panna Cotta


Curried Carrot Soup
Grilled Scallop with Chickpea cake
Braised Lamb Shank
Seared Snapper
Chocolate Cake
Frozen Yogurts

Right off the bat, it seems to me that they both could have gone with more thematic desserts. What's Asian about Panna Cotta and Chocolate Parfait? Baklava I can see. Chocolate Cake and frozen yogurt? We'll see what kinds of flavors Carla brings into the yogurts...

There is tension between Hosea and Leah in the kitchen. Jamie is basically chef de cuisine, and is focussing on the lamb shanks, which seem to be thawing well. Leah did some foolish portioning of fish before boning. There were problems with the freezer, and both Stefan and Carla were having problems with things not freezing. Radhika is having a hard time leading and making executive decisions.

I think Jeff got the quote of the day, saying "I feel like a Hummingbird on Cocaine." Fabio's in his snazziest Don Johnson suit and thinks he could make their team win anything, because he is that awesome. In his opinion.

The restaurants are open. Jamie is frustrated by the servers, who don't pay attention to details and mess up the plates. That is annoying.

Judges arrive for Sahana. The appetizer is naan, which Tom doesn't get, and thinks it is french toast. The soup is called very nice, and the chickpea cake is also getting good reviews, with it's scallop. I want some of the lamb right now, but Stephen thought the couscous was like dishwater. Ick. The snapper did not get good reviews, because it was swimming in liquid. For the desserts, they did spice up the cake well, and the yogurts were also spiced up... but they didn't set up, and didn't taste good. Toby said the meal was like the career of Elvis Prestley - strong out of the gate, and got weaker and weaker until dying on the toilet. Nice. Radhika didn't introduce herself as hostess and got really flustered, and spent a lot of time in the kitchen, which was not good. She should have chosen Jeff for that job, no matter what he wanted.

It's time for Judges at Sunset Lounge. Fabio is definitely better than Radhika at the front of the house, and is playing up his charm and thick accent. The food itself starts off weak, and Tom said he's gotten better frozen eggrolls. Ouch. The soup and appetizer get a little better reviews, but not great. The fish is undersalted. The short ribs get good reviews, but the cod that Leah made made the judges cough from the sauce and it was undercooked. Not good at all. Stefan's desserts looked really good, and he managed to spice them up enough to make them fit. He finished with a palate cleanser with mango, chocolate, and ginger "lollipops" and it looked lovely. Stefan did a great job.

It's down to the comment cards and what the judges thought. Fabio's service really helped Sunset Lounge, even though Sahana's food was better on the whole (with the great exception of dessert!)

Sunset Lounge went to Judge's Table first, and they are the winners, largely because of Stefan and Fabio. Leah's cod is uniformly panned, and she was told she would be going home if she was on the other team. Stefan is the winner, and gets a suite of GE Appliances. Nice.

Sahana headed to Judge's Table. Radhika's lack of leadership and the miserable desserts were the biggest problems. Carla admitted she wasn't happy with her dishes, but decided to just have fun with it, even though they were awful. Radhika just abdicated everything, and there was no leadership. The fact that Carla sent out bad food knowingly was horrible.

In the end, it was Radhika who went home, and I think deservingly. She admitted that she should have insisted on Jeff being in the front of the house. I liked her, but I think it was her time to go.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

American Idol: 1.21.09

Louisville, Kentucky

Horse racing analogies abound before finally getting started... the auditions are right at Churchill Downs.

Tiffany Chet (18, Cincinatti) She has the support of her parents, too much shimmery eyeshadow, and a very overused peroxide bottle. You can tell from her speaking voice that her voice was going to be froggy, but just how weird it was going to be, I had no idea. And she attempted (and failed) to sing Mariah Carey. Why do they even try? I think she sang Because of You by Kelly Clarkson to her mom after the audition, before grumbling about how she will never watch the show... I can't be sure, though.

Joanna Pacitti (23, Philadelphia) Kara recognized her from being previously signed to a record contract, which didn't work out. She has a very nice voice, though she got a little froggy on the high notes. When she wasn't pushing the high notes and let them happen, it was very nice. She is likeable, so I hope that she goes far. Randy wants more confidence from her. She's going to Hollywood.

Mark Mudd, Jr (25, Kentucky) They made the "his name is Mud" joke, which apparently actually came from Mark's ancestor, who fixed John Wilkes Booth's leg after jumped off the balcony after shooting Lincoln. He sang a country song, and it was kind of all over the place. Paula, in her Serious Glasses, told Mark that this isn't the competition for him, but he's not dreadful.

Brent Keith Smith (28, missed his town, Ohio I think) He's very cute, and he has a very good voice. Wish he would stop tapping his feet while singing, but he was very very good. He busted out in the middle and sounded great. Paula loved him. Simon hated the song on him, because he didn't have emotion in it. Paula ripped his eyes out for that comment. Kara tried to get a word in edgewise, and said that he just needs one great song. For no apparent reason, Kara and Paula started to go under the table. That was naughtier than they meant it to be, I think. He's very very good.

Enter montage of awful, including Irene something murdering Somewhere over the rainbow, a very strange zebra face man, a fat man named Patrick doing his best Michael Jackson impersonation...

Matt Giraud (23, Kalamazoo) He's a dueling piano player. That's fun. He has a nice vibe to his voice, though he sounded insanely nervous. Simon compared him to Elliot Yamin, but said that he seems to not believe in himself. Randy told him to get his swagger on, and he got a unanimously decided trip to Hollywood.

Ross Plavsic (26?) Supergeek. I've met people like him at college. He has been studying YouTube to learn how to sing, and he has a new way of organizing Chinese characters to make them supposedly easier to sing. He chose to sing an operatic song, and the judges all joined him, though it was not a good thing. The judges asked him if he had anything current, and he said he would learn some new songs during the show. Paula asked if he wanted some water, and he drank half her cup through the straw, then murdered Love Me Tender. Wow. Best of luck to him. The Chinese thing was kind of cool.

There was a short montage of 10 people who got through on Day 1, and we only got to see a couple of them. See, I thought they were going to show more of the good people. I guess we'll get to know more of them during Hollywood.

Day 2.

Alexis Grace (20, Memphis, TN) She's got an adorable little girl, and a fiance at military school. Alexis is cute as a button. Her voice is HUGE, and she is a tiny little thing. She sang Aretha and did Aretha proud. I love her. Paula loves her, and wants more stage presence. Simon said that she has a very marketable face. She is so through. Hope we get to see more of that little girl. Kara told her to not wear pink (good advice), and then told her to go home and make love to her fiance, to which Alexis replied "Is that going to be on tv?" Yup, I think I love her.

Montage of boring bad people. The judges looked about ready to take a nap.

For energy, they get...

Aaron Williamson (27, Louisville) He said he was there to be America's Next Top Idol. He belted out some CCR, and got Kara singing backup for him. He could be really good if he just toned it down a few (hundred) notches. He had a good voice in there, but, as Randy called it, the Primal Scream audition was a bit much. Kara broke her ring in her enthusiasm. Simon said he needed to do something having to do with shouting in his life. Unfortunately for him, it's a no.

Rebecca Garcia (24, Nashville) She had lyrics written on her arm, and she was terrible singing (?) Carrie Underwood. Kara noticed that she was voted Most Humorous in high school, and asked if this was a joke, because it was funny. Umm. Oops. It wasn't a joke. Kara was mortified at being the mean one.

Kris Allen, Felicia Barton, Ryan Johnson, and Shera Lawrence were in a short montage of very good people. Wish we had seen more of them, please. Show us more in Hollywood, please. I liked all of them a lot.

Leneshe Young (18, Cincinatti) She has a sob story, because her mom was a single mom of many kids (I didn't get a count), and they were in and out of homeless shelters. It was sad to see her story. She has a saunter to her, that's for sure. She sang an original song, and for a change, it was actually very good. Simon loves her, and her song. She is through easily. Paula almost gave her a heart attack when she said "No," as a joke. But, it was an absolute yes. She was wonderful.

Next week, Florida

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

American Idol: 1.20.09

San Francisco Auditions

It's only an hour! Bring on the goodness! While waiting in line, a couple got engaged - AND married! That's a long way to go for a schtick.

Tatiana Del Torro (23, San Juan, Puerto Rico) She of the hyper inflated ego, really annoying laugh, and ridiculous mini dress replete with tulle on the bottom like it had an accident in the factory with a staple gun. She decided to hand over her press kit to the judges, including a picture of her modeling lingerie. Interesting. Damn it, she has a good voice. I think it's all overdone. When Simon told her she was trying too hard, she kept interrupting his criticisms with more singing. Paula gives her a yes. Randy gave her a yes. Kara likes her vibe, and she is through to Hollywood. She has to tone. it. down. I think I hate her, even though she's got a good voice. I wish you could all see the look on my husband's face when she started laughing. Seriously. He looked just stunned.

Nick Reed (17) tried to do his best Blake Lewis, but failed. Jiyai Yu (16) is no Grace Slick

Dean-Anthony Bradford (27, Pasadena) He needs a lot of fashion help and a hair wash, and should spend some time looking in the mirror when he's singing because he looks ridiculous. He's got some voice, but it is ridiculously used. He is funny, but he is not going on. I think it was the hyphenated first name that did him in.

Jesus Valenzuela (29, North Highlands, CA) He's cute, but he's singing the kind of music I hate. It's hard to judge him on that. He tried to sway the judges by saying his kids were waiting for him, and he was sent to bring his kids in. His boys are adorable. He sang Unchained Melody for his kids, and it was sweet. Simon voted no, Paula voted yes, and Kara was soft-hearted for the kids and said yes. Randy sent him through. The younger boy gave Simon a hug.

Dalton Powell (18, Manteca, CA) Dude's good at a Rubix Cube. He fixed a messed up Rubix cube in 24 seconds. Since I resorted to peeling stickers off and putitng them back in the right places, I can admire that. His singing, however, is dreadful and ... well, nothing good to say about it. He's unemployed currently, though I think the mad Rubix cube skillz could bring him places.

James Smith (missed his age) had performance passion but had a terrible voice.

Ahkilah Askew-Gholston (26, Oakland) She's reading about how to train gospel singers, with anatomical words, which she is completely murdering the prononciation of. The editors are having a good time with her. Her fashion is dreadful, with gray/silver dreads, a puffy jacket, acid washed jean overalls (?) and tall boots.... Her original song was awful. She went to sing a different song and it sounded the same, which was bad, and said that it was because she was singing from the wrong rectum. She begged for another chance, and kept singing until she was ushered out by Paula and then Kara. She claimed she irracitated (yes, that's what she said) because of the famous people. It's one thing to have a big vocabulary, but it's quite another to have a vocabulary of mostly made up words.

There was a slew of really good auditions which I couldn't catch (and my hubby was complaining about my pausing...), but they were all fantastic. Might come back later and fill in names.

Very skinny, odd looking, and indecisive Annie Murdoch does not have a voice for this kind of show, and it was in and out of key and over the top and dreadful in the end. It was a little too jazzy, and Simon said she sounded three sheets to the wind.

Adam Lambert (26, Hollywood) He's got kind of forced Emo hair to me, and I hate skinny jeans on men. He is singing Bohemian Rhapsody, which is amazing. Totally superficially, his skin needs a good chemical peel or something. He's rough. Maybe he just needs a good shave. Simon thought he was too theatrical. Randy liked him. Simon said yes, and Kara was confused by Simon, but loved him. He went to see Paula in concert when he was 10, his first pop concert, so that is pretty cool. I hope he gets a good makeover, because I kind of dig him.

(Did you see that hair guy run in to fix Paula's hair when Adam left? That was funny)

Kai Koloma (26, San Clemente, CA) I wonder about these people who are caregivers to loved ones going on the show. What will happen to Kai's sick mother? Well, I think they'll have to figure it out, because dude is awesome. He's got that likeability factor, too. Simon thinks he has the personality of a ship singer, and Paula thinks he could improve in that regard. Kara was interrupted when giving him constructive criticism, and she got pissy and said she would say what she wants to say, so there. Good for her. Kai is through. Hope he can improve the stage presence, because I like him.

Good night, overall. Wish we had seen a few more of the good ones.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Top Chef - 1.14.09

Very little intro before the ...

Quickfire Challenge

Hung is in the kitchen with Padma. The challenge is to work with all sorts of processed foods and canned good - because it's easy to create good food out of fresh ingredients.

They only have 15 minutes to create the most delicious dish they can without fresh ingredients.

Everyone complains bitterly, but gets to work.

Leah - Waffles with Strawberries and Sausage. Hung called it crunchy, and Leah proudly said that she fried it. Not so sure about that decision.

Stefan - Baked bean & Spam soup with Spam and Velveeta Grilled Cheese. Sounds hideous.

Fabio - Mac & Cheese with Roasted Artichoke and chili pepper. Hung appreciated the heat.

Radhika - Spicy Red Bean Dip with Grilled Bread. That looks pretty yummy. She put tahini in her dip, so it's akin to hummus, maybe?

Hosea - Sweet Pea soup with fried spam, onion rings, pork rinds, and hearts of palm. Hung likes pork rinds. Who would have guessed?

Jeff - Deep fried baby conch, coconut sauce, pina colada. That's kind of impressive out of the pantry.

Jamie - Bruschetta with garbanzo beans, artichoke & smoked mussels. Because there were no scallops in the pantry.

Ariane - Open-faced turkey spam sandwich with gravy and cranberry pineapple chutney. Hung called it interesting. Padma was amazed that they make turkey spam. Is that an attempt to make spam less gross? Hmm.

Carla - Asian Salmon Cake with fried green beans and lemon-grass ginger mayo.

Leah, Radhika, and Jamie were on the bottom. Hosea, Stefan, and Jeff were up on top. The winner is Stefan, and I can't be happy about that, because I can't stand Spam. Hosea kicks himself for letting Stefan have his extra spam.

Time for the Elimination Challenge.

The Cheftestants draw knives. The challenge is to create a seasonal meal around pork, lamb, or chicken (their knives had their assigned meat). They have to cook family style for 16, including dessert.

Leah, Ariane, and Hosea are Team Lamb. Leah and Hosea are on the same page, and Ariane won a challenge for her lamb before, so they think they are in a good place.

Carla, Stefan, and Jamie are Team Chicken. Jamie is pissed about being on a team with Stefan. Carla can't create in this environment. Jamie and Carla came up with a different menu and Stefan refused to listen. The tension mounted.

Jeff, Fabio, and Radhika are Team Pork. They seem to have something lovely in mind.

The next morning, everyone started to get nervous and rethink their dishes. Their is major tension on the way to ... not Whole Foods! No, they are at a famous restrauranteur's Stone Barn Farm and Agriculture Center. They are shopping at the farm, and meeting their meat, so to speak.

Jamie was attacked my a chicken, and Stefan thought it was hilarious, though he had to bring up that it was him and a bunch of hens ("I'm the only cock in the stall."). Nice, Stefan.

It's cooking time.

Team Pork is making: Seared pork loin, sausage ravioli with pesto, fried green tomatoes, grilled corn salad with bacon, and a creme brulee.

Team Chicken is making: Chicken Cutlet, Lemon-herb roast chicken, chicken ravioli soup, nectarine & strawberry tartlet.

Team Lamb is making: Roasted duo of lamb, heirloom tomato salad, roasemary & garlic roasted potatoes, swiss chard, and a summer berry trifle.

Tom came to check in, and everyone seemed on track. He questioned the butchering choices of Team Lamb, the soup decision of Team Chicken, and the dessert choice of Team Pork.

Ariane had issues tying the lamb roullades up, so Leah helped her out.

And it's service time!

They are serving the farmers, their family, and the judges including Dan Barber.

The judges didn't like the Chicken Soup idea. Others say it was good soup, so it wasn't too bad. The lamb was called a mess, with awful butchering. Their meal was called out of season. Fabio's ravioli was "fine" but the pesto was too aggressive. Jeff's fried green tomatoes got good reviews. Tom questioned the logic of taking pork off the bone and removing all the fat, which got rid of a lot of the flavor.

Carla's tartlett got really good reviews, and Tom praised her crust and the use of thyme. The creme brulee was called too sweet. The trifle was compared to airline food. ouch.

Judges' Table.

Jamie, Carla, and Stefan were called back first. They are the tops. Carla's tartlett got the best praise. She called herself the mediator in the kitchen between the two strong personalities. All three of them are winners. That's cool for them. I still can't handle Carla, but I appreciate her ability to make a good pastry.

The other two teams are sent back to the judges.

Jeff's butchery of the pork was a bad decision. Fabio added too much pesto, but says that they wanted to make a cherry tomato sauce, but there were no cherry tomatoes. Radhika didn't produce much in the time given, and Tom seemed critical.

Ariane's butchering and decision to tenderize already tender baby lamb were both criticized. The fact that Ariane was the only one to do anything with the lamb was a problem. Ariane said that she told them that she wasn't familiar with rolling and tying, and Leah said that she knows how to roll and tie, and Hosea said he knows how to butcher, but neither of them helped out, so that's not good.

The new judge (I missed his name) said that he wanted to have unprotected wild sex with the pork, but the other judges thought the lamb was much worse. They didn't like Ariane's work, but Leah's non-helpful demeanor was more annoying. Who's going home?

Radhika's minimal contributions, Fabio's heavy hand with pesto, and Jeff's butchery were questioned. Jeff's fried green tomatoes saved the team, and Team Pork is safe.

Leah didn't do much, Ariane didn't do a good job at all, and Hosea didn't take any responsibility to help with the butchering, which he claims to have experience with. In the end, it's Ariane going home, and she was in the bottom a lot, so I can see that. She left, calling Leah lazy, and Hosea a wimp. Her roller coaster ride on Top Chef is over.

Next week is Restaurant Wars!! Yippee!! And, Hosea and Leah are getting a little frisky. Hmmm.

American Idol: 1/14/09

Kansas City

Home of David Cook, will it give anything good this year? Well, Jason Castro was there with his brother, who is auditioning this year. Interesting.

Chelsea Marquardt (19) She certainly has a high opinion of herself. Unfortunately, she's a complete vocal trainwreck. Why do people keep singing when the judges start laughing. I don't understand. It sounded like someone was strangling a cat (and of course, Simon topped my by saying that it sounded like a cat jumping off the Empire States Building). Kara and Paula thought the guys were being too harsh. Kara said the positive is that she is a pretty girl, but she is not a good singer.

Ashley Anderson (20, NJ) She chose to sing a song co-written by Simon, and she flubbed the lyrics in the first verse. She has a pretty voice, with some good control. It's not my favorite kind of voice (or I should say, style of singing), but I think she is good. Simon said it was a great song choice. She gets four yes votes and she's through.

Casey Carlson (20, Minneapolis) She's a bubble tea maker. That's interesting. She looks a little like Lacey Schwimmer from SYTYCD and Dancing with the Stars. She's got good presence and a nice voice. She has a bit of a she-mullet, so I hope she (like David Cook) gets better hair if she makes it farther into the competition. She's kind of cute.

Brian Kettler (20, Kansas City) Opera boy has a bit too much unfortunate chest showing. Some men should not wear low cut V-necks. I think he was singing Aretha, but his spastic singing was not good for this kind of music. Maybe he's good at opera, but I don't know about that. Yipes. Simon said everything was wrong in this audition. I would agree. He attempted to redeem himself by screeching out some Josh Groban. It did not work. I think he made a wise decision in walking away from music. He exited to Mozart's Requiem, and that was just genius, editors, genius.

Then, there was a montage of various people's disappointments, with crying and screaming galore.

Ryan caught up with David Cook's parents, who said that other good people are around.

James Michael Avance (20) Not one of those good people.

Billy Vinson (27) Dude, don't sing Reflection as a man. Just no.

Chris Jones (21) Painful.

Deandre something - also painful. Nothing else matters about him except he was awful.

Von Smith (20, didn't catch his hometown) - He started off with a break in his voice, but improved greatly after clearing his throat. I kind of dig him. He's different and he's got something that I could like. Randy liked him. Simon liked him as well. Paula loved him, and so did Kara, saying he had a big instrument and he can take risks other people might not be able to.

Michael Castro (20, Rockwell, TX) He's Jason Castro's younger brother, and he also sucks at interviews. The Muppet's little brother is an emo punk boy with pink hair. While I can dig girls with pink hair, guys with pink hair turn me off. He just started singing 20 days before the audition. Ballsy. He has a good voice, though it gets froggy at times. The pink faux hawk emo mullet is annoying. It's better than the dreads, but still. Simon called it good-ish, and he couldn't tell if he had the commitment to the performance, which was a problem with Jason as well. Kara thought he was cool. He got put through to Hollywood.

Vaughn English (19, KS) Replete with orange and yellow suit, he sang about bananas. That was foolish. He's gone.

Matt Breitzke (27, Oklahoma) He's got a really cute kid. He's got a really nice voice, and is the first singer this season to give me the chills. He's got great control, and he's likeable. Randy called him a bar singer, but not right for this. Kara disagreed and said that he has natural talent and likes him. Paula admired his tone and control. Simon is the deciding vote, and sent him on through. Yay! I actually rewound to listen to him again. Yes, I like him that much.

Jasmine Joseph (aka Jazz) (17, Norfolk, Nebraska) This pink and purple haired girl sucks. No way around it. The speechless judges just shake their heads and she is out.

Jessica Paige Furney (19, Wamego, KS) She lives in Oz Central, and with her 93 year old grandma. She sang Crybaby by Janis Joplin, and she's got a really great instrument. She's got a soulful voice and I love it. She also seems like a sweetheart. I hope her grandma is ok on her own. It's Jessica's birthday, and she got a golden ticket for her birthday.

India and Asia McClain (22 and 24, respectively) I don't want to be crass, but it seems like one of these sisters got all the cookies and the other got none. They claim to be choreographer and bodyguard material, and rap a song about cookies. They were decent rappers, but... They sang individually after their rap, and India was indeed much better than Asia. India was decent, and she was sent through. Asia, not so much.

Jamar Rogers (26, Milwaukee) He belted his song out decently, but I'd like to hear more control and variety and emoting in his voice. The judges thought he was a bit too loud and over the top, but they put him through.

Danny Gokey (28, Milwaukee) He's Jamar's best friend. His wife passed away 4 weeks before the audition from a heart condition. The poor guy. He stuck it out and auditioned, and I'm glad. I really love his voice. He's a music teacher. Paula loved him, and Kara declared herself a fan. Simon and Randy loved him, too, and he's through.

After that lovely audition, they had to even it out by showing some hideous ones in a horrible montage.

Anoop Desai (21, didn't catch where he was from) I enjoyed his voice, and he seems like a smart cookie and is well spoken. His voice has a little Elliot Yamin vibe to it, which is not necessarily my favorite, but it's a niche. Simon called his look geeky, but he's through anyhow. Good.

Then, another shot of wretched. Oh, why. After a break, some more strange gimmicks were showcased. No thankyou.

Andrew Lang (19, Columbia, MO) He was introduced his very own very bad cheerleaders (though I was impressed by the split, and the thin cheerleader kind of looks like Maggie Gyllenhal) His voice was not bad. His look was not good at all, but I've seen worse. He was passed on, and even his cheerleaders broke into tears. They encouraged him to go into musical theatre.

Asa Barnes (28, Kansas City) His daughter is absolutely adorable, that's for sure. He probably could have chosen a better song for his voice (he sang The Way You Make Me Feel), because he had troubles with the high notes, and it was kind of sharp all the way through. He did well enough to get him the ticket to Hollywood, and I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do with a better song.

Michael Nicewonder (20, Grande Island, Nebraska) He's got a medal from music class in elementary school, and he's got a fortune cookie note on the back. He looks like he belongs in the next Dumb and Dumber movie. He sang a hideous original song, and then another hideous original song. Goodbye. There were tears.

Dennis Brigham (19, Florida I think) He did a backflip and had a dream about Simon, which is kind of creepy. His voice was good enough, I guess, but his eyes are creepy beyond belief. After Simon told him it was crazy, he decided it would be prudent to sing another song. Just. Stop. Paula gave him a yes. Simon gave him a no. I didn't get to see what happened to him, because my dvr stopped!

Help me out, readers, did I miss anything good? Was that the end? I curse Fox for not keeping normal timing.

Survivor Tocantins: Cast and First Thoughts

The cast for the next Survivor has been announced! It's going to be in Tocantins, the Brazilian Highlands, and it looks like fun.

Here are my initial thoughts on the cast this coming season, and I reserve the right to change my mind immediately after seeing them in action. According to Zap2it, each tribe will immediately vote someone out, so first impressions are going to make a big difference.

Name: Benjamin "Coach" Wade
Age: 37
Occupation: Soccer Coach
Hometown/State: Montana

He looks like he might be a jackass. We'll see. He strikes me as something like Ace, and I don't know why. It's just the vibe I'm getting. He looks something like a Steven Segal wannabe.

Name: Brendan Synncott
Age: 30
Occupation: Entrepreneur
Hometown/State: NYC

He co-founded Bear Naked, and I love their granola, so I am immediately not hating him. He could be a good player. We'll see.

Name: Candace Smith
Age: 31
Occupation: Lawyer
Hometown/State: Dayton, OH

She's a former Miss Ohio, and a lawyer who no longer practices law because she moved to California to pursue acting, modeling, and opening her own consulting firm. She admits to being a bitch at times. Could she be this season's answer to Corrine? Please, no.

Name: Carolina Eastwood
Age: 26
Occupation: Bartender
Hometown/State: West Hollywood, CA

Her bio calls her a "trash-talking firecracker," which could get annoying real quickly. She could also be endearing. She's pretty, so that is a plus. I admit, I like some of the pretty girls just for being pretty. Don't judge me.

Name: Debra "Debbie" Beebee
Age: 46
Occupation: Middle school Principal
Hometown/State: Auburn, Ala

I want to like her, but her nickname is Bubbles. I don't know if I can respect a woman who is sometimes called Bubbles. She is, however, used to dealing with groups of somewhat irrational people, being a middle school principal, so that could help her out.

Name: Erinn Lobdell
Age: 26
Occupation: Hairstylist
Hometown/State: Waukesha, Wis.

Oh, Erinn of the superfluous extra n... wonder if she puts the emphasis on the second half of her name, like air-INN, instead of plain AIR-in. I suppose I should not judge her for her name, but I do judge her parents. She seems to prescribe to the Sugar Method, of playing "dumb like a fox." She may be good. We'll see, Eeerrrriiiinnnnnn, we'll see.

Name: Jerry Sims
Age: 49
Occupation: Sgt. – U.S. Army
Hometown/State: Rock Hill, SC

He certainly looks like a jovial fellow. I think he might be one to watch - he's strong, looks nice, calls himself a joker, and seems to have the background to be helpful around camp and might emerge as a leader. Whether that is good for him in the long term scope of the game or not, I don't know, but I like him at the outset.

Name: Joe Dowdle
Age: 26
Occupation: Real Estate Sales
Hometown/State: Austin, TX

He calls himself a genuine cowboy, and calls his strategy for the game "persuade and evade." Interesting, could be something to watch for. He doesn't like overly dramatic people and doesn't like to lose. Seems he might be in the wrong competition. He is not a standout for me at the get go.

Name: James "JT" Thomas Jr.
Age: 24
Occupation: Cattle Rancher
Hometown/State: Samson, Ala

Wonder how he and Joe will get along? He says that he is smarter than people think he is, and he's not a dumb hillbilly, but he's not above playing that card if the game requires it (and if the women like it). He's got wholesome good looks, so that might not be a bad strategy.

Name: Sandy Burgin
Age: 53
Occupation: Bus Driver
Hometown/State: Louisville, Ky

She works the night shift, so I hope that she is able to reset her circadian rhythm quickly so that she isn't all messed up at camp. She is a fisherwoman, and likes DIY magazines, so maybe she is angling (ha ha ha, sorry about that pun) to be like Bob's female counterpart. She calls herself funny and fearless and doesn't like mean and greedy people. As opposed to those who seek out the mean and greedy. She might be cool, or she might just fizzle.

Name: Sierra Reed
Age: 23
Occupation: Model
Hometown/State: Los Angeles, Calif

I think we have the Survivor Cutie of the season in Sierra! She moved to Taiwan when she was younger by herself (how young? She's pretty darned young now!) and so is used to less than sanitary situations. She calls herself an adventure junkie, and says that she has tenacity. I want to like her. She says she is not the typical model, and claims that she likes to model because of the travel it provides, and the new things she gets to experience because of it. She also says that she should be all set for Survivor, having lived with "five catty models all vying for the same spot." Yup, I want to like her.

Name: Spencer Duhm
Age: 19
Occupation: Student
Hometown/State: Lakeland, Fla

Wow, he's young! He's a superfan of Survivor (since it began when he was in grade school! Good lord, I feel old). He's on his college's crew team, so ostenstiably, he knows how to row a boat, which is often a plus. He is a fan of water cooler gossip, so I bet he will be fun to watch. Since I know that college students tend to have a lot of energy, he might be up there in the top for me.

Name: Stephen Fishbach
Age: 29
Occupation: Corporate Consultant
Hometown/State: NYC

He admits that he resembles a muppet, and I instantly like him a little for that. He plans on playing a cutthroat game, and thinks that people will underestimate his ruthlessness because he looks unassuming. He doesn't like overconfident or cocky people. I like that he has competed in the Idiotarod, an event that I have never heard of but now have a burning desire to know more about. He could be one to watch.

Name: Sydney Wheeler
Age: 24
Occupation: Model
Hometown/State: Raleigh, N.C.

Another model, and another beauty, I wonder how she and Sierra will get along. She lost her sister in a car accident when she was 19, so she knows how to persevere through hardship. She says she is more than just a pretty face, and I hope that she's right.

Name: Tamara “Taj” Johnson-George
Age: 37
Occupation: Former Pop Star
Hometown/State: Nashville, Tennessee

She's a former pop star, and the wife of a former NFL Pro. Her music isn't my style at all, but her group was nominated for a grammy. I've never heard of them before. She says she is naturally distrustful, which could be a bonus in the game. I want to like her.

Name: Tyson Apostol
Age: 29
Occupation: Professional Cyclist
Hometown/State: Lindon, Utah

Oh, I just love when someone calls themselves charming, and arrogant. Ugh. I don't think I'll like Tyson. He seems totally egotistical and I don't think I can stomach him. Because of that, of course, he's bound to go far. Murphy's Law.

So, all in all, looks like a pretty likeable season. Tyson, Benjamin, and Candace are my least favorites from first impressions, and I like the looks of Jerry, Sierra, Spencer, and Sydney. We'll see how impressions change once I see them in action. Until February, Survivor Fans!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Yay for a New Season - American Idol 1/13/09


To get things started this season, there is a short retrospective with some of the best and worst of past seasons, set to What a Wonderful World. I don't know if Louie would approve, but I do. Ah, and we get another view of Ashley the Crying girl, and Sanjaya's awful mohawk madness.

Good times, good times.

Then, it's Seacrest's turn to "This is American Idol" us into a new season.

Before we got there, though, he reminds us about the winning moment of David Cook last season, including a little showing of the tween girls freaking out about Archie's loss, a YouTube favorite (of course, I cannot find it, but it was funny).

Blah blah blah, more of what's to come, I'm fast forwarding to the real stuff.

Wait, what? I think I just fast forwarded through Simon getting hugged and/or humped by a giant bunny. We'll see what that comes to.

Finally, it's time for the first city.

Phoenix, AZ, Day 1

It's blazing hot (what do they expect, it's Arizona!). Before we get to see anyone, we are introduced to the new judge, Kara, including some clips of what's to come. Can't they just let it happen?

Tuan Ngyen (20, from Spring Valley, CA) Oh, joy. Tuan thinks it's necessary to have drill team movements, tap, and a giant ass fro to make his singing stand out. Somehow I don't see this ending well. His singing is subpar, his tap is completely superfluous, and he needs to maybe focus on one talent instead of spreading himself so thin... yeah, I'll say that was his problem. Randy gives him a definite no, and Kara says that she's never seen anything like that, and not in a good way. He's out. He thought the judges were with him in the beginning. Dude. Laughing AT you, not WITH you. His departure was set to the tragic tones of Wham's Careless Whisper. I will admit, his feet ARE guilty of having no rhythm, so that's appropriate enough.

Emily Hughes (21, LA) Her mom's a singer, and was professional when Emily was a child. Emily said that she was bad in school, so she decided to just perform, and "got a bunch of tattoos, so I'd never be forced to sit in an office." Hope this works out for her then, because laser tattoo removal is expensive. She's singing Baracuda. That's bold. She's got some serious pipes on her. It's hard to belt out some Heart a capella. I really like her a lot. The judges admitted that she chose a really difficult song. Simon loves her, Paula calls her Top 5 material, and Kara says that she looks serious, and Randy asks about her bandmates - who don't know she's there. If she makes it through, the band will have to cancel a European tour. Yipes. She claims that if she makes it, she can pull a Daughtry move and bring them with her in the future. She's easily through, and I really like her. She's got pink hair, and I tend to have a soft spot for the pink haired chicks. Funny, because I hate pink as a color.

Randy Madden (28, Moorpark, CA) He is so sure of himself, with no singing lessons, no band. He says that people stop him on the street and tell him he should be on American Idol. Based on his looks? Hmmm. Interesting. There were tears from him before he even auditioned, so this should be interesting. He sang Living on a Prayer, and it was ... as Simon said, wimpy. He looks like a rockstar, but he does not sound like one. He begged for a chance. Simon called him a cliche, and a drama queen, with no star quality. I'd agree with that. Paula tried to be supportive, and Simon put in a dig at her about her music. Kara said he needed to put in more work to have a shot at it, so he's a no. Goodbye, Randy.

JB Ahfua (16, Taylorsville, UT) He's got a good voice in him, he might be Archie material. I think he's better at the onset than Archie. Simon told him he has a good voice, but needs to loosen up. Still, he gets four yes votes, and he's through to Hollywood. Good. Hope that he doesn't disappoint me like Archie ended up doing. He has a sob story about his family struggling, so this is his chance to help them out.

Michael Gurr (17, Mesa, AZ) He's got that kind of awkwardly emo look of Evil Peter Parker in Spiderman 3, and he's been nervous all day. He sounds slightly like he's having a seizure when he sings(?). Simon said he couldn't understand a word, and he might as well have been singing in Bulgarian. Paula is stunned to agree. He asks to sing another song, and sucks up by singing(?) a song by Kara. Just no. He claims it was all nerves. I think it was just because he's sucky. And he came close to fainting after his audition was done. Oh, brother!

(I thought that they were showing less of the bad auditions this year?)

Will Kunick regurgitated Tears for Fears, DJ Bradley geeked Celine Dion to death, Shawn Vasquez butchered Dion Warwick. Please, make it stop.

Audre Caraway (aka Xray) (20, Phoenix) Full of energy and weilding a guitar, which he discarded before singing a strange song of his own, called Cactus, Baby. Unfortunately, he did not make the pain stop. It's a unanimous no. He pleaded for another chance, and Simon called him tiresome. Good and bye.

Ariana Afsar (16, San Diego, CA) She's a philanthropist, who founded an organization, called "Adopt a Grand-Friend" - that's sweet. She's really cute. I love the tone of her voice. She's got a real natural talent, kind of bluesy. She has a lot of un-forced power. She gets four happy yes votes, and she's through.

9 unseen others went through on Day 1 in Phoenix, too.

Phoenix, AZ, Day 2

Elijah Scarlet (22, Phoenix) He's got an incredibly low voice, which is hard to believe is real. Unfortunately, his range seems to be about 2 notes, and those notes are not good. Simon questioned if he'd ever seen the show before, and said it was something like a horror movie. Paula suggested he do voice-overs in monster movies.

Lea Marie Golde (16, Connecticut) She's got a pink cowboy hat on. She could be cute, and I admire her belly-dancing belly roll skills, but she's got a little bit too much energy. She claims to be Kara's biggest fan. She's brought a giant binder of all of her original songs that she's written. She showed it to Kara, and then sang in a painfully nasal voice. She should possibly stick to writing. Paula told her she needs to work on her voice, and Simon called her annoying. Kara told her to stick to writing maybe, if her writing is any good, and she was sent packing with her giant notebook. She promises to be back.

Stevie Wright (16, Phelan, CA) She's wearing what I think is a cow print shirt. That was an odd choice. She was named after Stevie Nicks. She sang At Last, by Etta James, and she was pretty good, especially for being only 16. Simon wants her to be more aggressive if she's going to be competative. She's through, easily.

Michael Sarver (27, Jasper, TX) - He's a Roughneck on an oil rig, which he is proud to announce is the fifth most dangerous job in the world. Yipes. He's got a couple really cute kids and a nice looking wife. I'm not sure about the style of his voice - which is kind of country - but he's got something there. Kara called him a sensitive roughneck, and Randy says his voice doesn't match his looks, but it's a good thing. Simon says he has the likeability factor. He is through to Hollywood.

Enter montage of nameless hideous singers. Oh, my ears.

Then, enter Bikini Girl.

Katrina Darrell (20, CA) She's going to be so leathery when she is 30. Her voice is decent. She didn't need to resort to wearing the bikini. She should have remembered that there are two women on the panel, too. Kara gave her a schooling about how the feeling of the song could have been much better. Simon and Randy are ready to send her through instantly. Kara and Paula aren't seeing it. Still, in this new four judge format, Simon is a tie breaker, and amidst much complaining from the women on the panel, Katrina is through. I don't think she was as bad as Kara and Paula attested, but still. Then, Kara went to find Ryan and planted a not-so-platonic kiss on him. That was kind of awkward.

Eric Thomas (aka Sexual Chocolate) (18, Phoenix, AZ) He attempted to sing Stevie Wonder and failed miserably. Simon said, "Thank you, Sexual." If he doesn't make it, his mom is buying him a car, so he's a car ritcher.

Brianna Quijada (22, from AZ) She had a cute voice, a good personality, but does the thing I hate and keeps singing when they tell her to stop singing. Simon says she likes her personality, and though Randy and Kara said no, Paula and Simon (astoundingly) sent her through.

Deanna Brown (25, KY) She has a bit of a thick Southern accent, and unfortunately, when she sang that she was "sitting on the dock of the bay," it sounded like she was doing something entirely different on the dock of the bay. She does have a very nice voice, though it's pretty country for me. She is through. She's cute.

Cody Sheldon (17, Detroit, MI) He makes horror films in his spare time. Nice. He's got kind of a nasal voice and it's the kind of voice I don't enjoy so much. Very froggy. His voice has a very sweet quality to it, which doesn't jive with his look. Predictably, because I don't like him the judges sent him through.

Alex Wagner-Trugman, (19, CA) Ok, so I don't think he'll be any good, but he's kind of funny. He's not bad vocally! He needs a serious hair cut/style. Simon didn't like him, but Randy liked him a lot. So did Kara and Paula. He's through, much to Simon's dismay.

An unfortunate montage of wretched people singing Wanted Dead or Alive. Painful. Oh, and there was also some really bad air guitar thrown in there. The montage ended with a "cowboy" who looked more like he belonged in Fiddler on the Roof. Just no. Look in the mirror before you go on national television.

Scott Macintyre (23, Scottsdale, AZ) He's legally blind, but has become a very good pianist. He can only see about the width of one ket at a time on the piano. That's impressive. He went into college at 14, and graduated at 19. That's impressive. He sang And So It Goes, which is a beautiful song. I'm not sure his voice alone would be quite enough to get him through, but he won the judges over. I'm hoping to see him go through and see him working with a piano. He's possibly got potential.

27 tickets were given out in Phoenix over both days. And there was much rejoicing. And pool jumping.

Until tomorrow, dear readers.

I think my favorite tonight was Emily Hughes. And you?