Yesterday I came down with a bit of a head cold. I had something planned out for yesterday, but I didn't feel good so I've decided to push that back a few days. So, I spent most of the day watching TV, trying to stay hydrated and warm. So, even though I should be in bed, I will share a few thoughts about what I saw yesterday.
- Shepard Smith of Fox News is a moron. I watched his show at 3 yesterday because I didn't feel like changing the channel, and it seemed two hours long. He had about 925 different catchphrases for yesterday's snowstorms throughout the Northeast, and didn't even understand the point of his own's show online poll. The poll asked if Ellen DeGeneres would increase the ratings of American Idol now that she's one of the judges, and most of the people voted no. Shep gets all sorts of indignant at this, saying that those saying no must be haters. Um, just because they think Ellen won't increase the ratings of a show that's already peaked does not mean they necessarily hate her. It's just that just because Ellen is there does not necessarily mean more people will watch the show. Calm down, man.
- Watched Rome is Burning (hosted by Jim Rome). They had Curtis Granderson, new Yankee outfielder on the show. When ask by Rome if Granderson made any changes to improve his hitting against lefties (Granderson batted something like .189 against them last year). Granderson said no, he is not making any dramatic changes. Um, you might want to rethink that approach there, Curtis.
- After watching some Seinfeld and South Park, I then tuned in to American Idol. It's Hollywood Week, and yesterday was group day, where a bunch of people with their egos so built up that they believe they are the next big music star have to cooperate with a group of other similarly minded people. It's always fun for everyone. Some groups do pretty well, although to me, all the favorites grouped up with each other in order to not get dragged down by other people that just aren't as good. Meanwhile, the mid-carders were left to fend for themselves. There were two groups, called Neapolitan and Destiny's Wild (most of the group names sucked by the way), that both did an A Capella version of Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance". The first group (Neapolitan) sang it pretty well, with not too much frills added. Well, Destiny's Wild was all pissy about Neapolitan stealing their cover version of someone else's song, so, to make up for it, they tried to do way too much with it, practically screaming each note. They even had one guy do a backflip. Nevertheless, they all got through, so no harm no foul.
Another group, called Phoenix, which I presume has nothing to do with the indie rock band Phoenix, stunk on ice. They had one person who was there last year, and she got carried to a good group performance, so see thought (and the others probably assumed) that she knew what she was doing. Apparently she didn't as things got so bad that one person quit the show rather than face sure embarrassment. So, with one person down, they did a dog-ass performance of "Carry on Wayward Son" where the girl with previous experience forgot pretty much every word she was supposed to sing. Towards the end, one guy hit a crazy note just before the chorus kicked in. It was impressive that he held that note for so long, but it completely drowned out the rest of the group. Since he made it to the next round, I admire his decision to go into business for himself, because, to be honest, there was no saving this trainwreck. Speaking of trainwreck, a few groups decided to sing Gwen Stefani's "Sweet Escape" which was just an awful choice for two reasons. One, there aren't a whole lot of big meaty vocal notes in this song, as Stefani sorts of stays at the same volume and tone throughout the song, and two, she's singing a mile a minute, so there is a great possibility that someone will mess up the lyrics of this song, especially since they have only 12 hours to learn the song. Needless to say, that's what happened, as a lot of people tended to mumble throughout. Some people made it, but most that chose this song were sent packing.
- The final group of the night named themselves "The Dreamers", because they were going to try to sing "Dreams" by Fleetwood Mac. The group had 4 women and a guy named Alex Lambert, who had a rather similar name to a guy that should have won last year's competition, but that's neither here or there. Anywho, the group had two people join after hours of deliberation, and were led by single mom Mary Powers, a girl who seems to fancy herself as some sort of Pat Benetar-Pink hybrid. I actually liked Mary, that is, until tonight, where she was just going nuts on everybody. She was even bossing around the professional vocal coach working with them, demanding that he speed up the tempo, much to the bewilderment of the coach. Then she has the gall to complain that her group was awful compared to another group. They might be if you didn't keep stopping them and barking at them every three minutes. Anyway, they went on stage, Mary kind of fumbled through her words, the next girl did ok, and the third person turned in perhaps the worst performance in the history of group day. She was way off-key, laughing inexplicably through the song, and to top it off, she forgot the lyrics. Mary, the other Lambert, and the girl that followed Mary got through. I don't see Mary making it to the final 24, however. Oh, and there was also a guy named Big Mike whose wife was giving birth to their first child just before he was set to go onstage. He did well enough to get to the next round, so good for him.
-Finally I watched Birdman of Alcatraz, I must warn you that there are SPOILERS in the next few sentences. Ok, OK!
First off, the name is a misnomer, as The Birdman of Alcatraz never actually had birds at Alcatraz. In fact, most of the movie is set at Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary.
- Burt Lancaster plays the Birdman of Alcatraz, Robert Stroud. The movie also stars Karl Malden as warden Harvey Shoemaker, Thelma Ritter as Stroud's mother, Elizabeth, Betty Field as Stella Johnson, and Telly Savalas as fellow inmate Feto Gomez. Lancaster was nominated for an Oscar for best actor, while Ritter and Savalas earned supporting actress and actor nominations, respectively.
- Malden, as Harvey Shoemaker, Stroud's warden for over 35 years at two different prisons, was a real prick throughout the movie. Interestingly enough, his character was actually a combination of two different wardens, so Shoemaker was nothing but a myth.
- Like many Hollywood films, this one takes some liberties with the truth. Not only is Shoemaker a doppelganger, so is Stella Johnson, Stroud's business partner and later wife. In real life, the lady's name was Della Mae Jones.
-Although Stroud was portrayed as a peaceful inmate who was repeatedly wronged by Shoemaker and others due to a personal grudge, there are some reports that Stroud, while intelligent, was a dangerous man who deserved everything he got. Some guards at Alcatraz referred to him as a crazed man, a "wolf" (prison term for aggressive homosexual) who needed to be kept out of the general prison population for a number of reasons. Other accounts said that Stroud wrote literature that would make Geoffrey Leonard blush, talking about sexual and physical assault of young boys. Whether that is all true, or just the fabrications of men upset with Stroud's portrayal of a hero, we will probably never know for sure.
- Stroud was allowed one shower a week, and at one point he had about 75 bird cages full of canaries and other birds. I can't imagine how bad the odor must have been in that cell.
- Overall, this is a very good movie, although how much of it is true and how much of it is typical Hollywood fabrication, I don't know. I'll just say that Lancaster did a hell of a job portraying Stroud over a 50 year time span. Overall, out of 10, I give this movie and 8.6463.
So, there, that's what I did yesterday (and probably today, as I feel just as bad). I have a couple of ideas for reviews, but if anybody else has any ideas, feel free to let me know here at the Canon Review.