Monthly Archives: September 2005

Medic! (Episode 11-1)

Survivor: Guatemala distinguished itself from previous seasons by filling its first episode with abundant dry heaving. It was a triumph for the out-of-shape, as four of the strongest contestants succumbed to dehydration within the first 24 hours.

The game began with contestants already divided into two teams: Nakum – Margaret, Jim, Blake, Judd, Cindy, Danni, Brandon and Brooke – and Yaxha – Brianna, Lydia, Gary, Jamie, Morgan, Rafe, Brian and Amy. When high priest Jeff Probst revealed this season’s twist, Stephenie and Bobby Jon of Survivor: Palau magically appeared atop the ruined temple. Steph was assigned to Yaxha and Bobby Jon to Nakum as full-fledged members of the tribes.

Players endured an 11-mile hike through the jungle for their reward: flint and the better of the two camps. Along the way, a thorny tree branch fell on Blake, injuring his shoulder, and almost as soon as Nakum won the challenge, Margaret had to nurse most of the men of her tribe back to health. Brandon was the only man not to suffer from dehydration, and if I had to see one more shot of Bobby Jon’s eyes rolling back in his head, I was going to pass out for him. It was no surprise that Nakum lost the immunity challenge the next day. Jim tore his bicep during the challenge, making everyone’s choice easy.

Big props to Gary for lying about his last name and occupation; hopefully he can keep his NFL past a secret for all 39 days. Next week, Blake dry heaves some more. I can hardly wait.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

WHAT WAS THAT?! I guess INXS wasn’t actually
watching Mig’s performance of “What You Need” tonight, or they would’ve
axed him instead of Suzie. Mig doesn’t have the low vocal range needed
for most INXS songs, let alone the stage presence, and Suzie does. She
was given the kiss-of-death song “Suicide Blonde” and still
sang better than Mig. Whether their decision was motivated by pressure
to please Australian fans, Mark Burnett’s orders, or some weird ideas
about what was best for the show, it certainly wasn’t made on what was
right for the band.

There were several in attendence (besides
Suzie) who weren’t pleased with the decision. When Tim Farriss made his
pronouncement, Marty and J.D. both dropped to the ground like they’d
been shot. And Dave Navarro looked like he was trying not to punch Tim,
since the interactions between Dave and Suzie have been some of the
best moments of the series. After Suzie made her farewell remarks,
Andrew Farriss spoke, with Garry Beers sitting to his right. Garry sat
there with his hand over his mouth, looking like he wasn’t happy about
what they’d just done.

As for the rest of the show, Marty got
the encore, the audience picked J.D. for the other encore, and then he
joined Suzie and Mig in the Bottom 3. J.D. had the best night of
anyone, singing “Pretty Vegas” for the fourth time, but accompanied
only by Raphael and Jim on guitars. J.D. also did a solid job with “By
My Side,” and has proven that he and Suzie are the only ones who can
sing INXS songs well. Since Suzie’s gone, J.D. should win by default.

I’m
sure this is not the last we’ll hear of Suzie, especially if she takes
my advice and starts touring as “Sweet Suzie McNeil and The House
Band.” Hell, I’d go see them before INXS. Then again, when you go to an
INXS show in the future, you’ll also get to see the prize winning hog
and the biggest pumpkin in the county, so that’s a bonus. But right
now, I’m gonna make myself feel better the same way Suzie would. So,
who’s gonna let me drink champagne off of their foot?

Mig Is A Wuss

The final performance show of Rock Star: INXS started with a bang and ended with a girlish squeal. After all these episodes, viewers are left to wonder, “How the heck did Mig avoid the Bottom 3 this whole time?”

Suzie started things off with “Interstate Love Song” by Stone Temple Pilots, a bad song for her voice, and she wasn’t sure when to come in on the first chorus. Still she did run about the stage and in the crowd, which is always where she wins me over. I try to imagine what it’d be like in the audience for all of these performances, and Suzie’s always the performer I’d most like to see live. She did a great version of “What’s Up” by 4 Non-Blondes, a song I usually don’t like but was able to enjoy when performed by her.

J.D. reprised “Pretty Vegas,” this time with a glittery megaphone. INXS clearly likes this song and sees its hit single potential. He also performed Pink Floyd’s “Money,” which has weird timing that makes it hard to sing. He did a great job with it and established himself as the clear front runner. I’m never gonna get why people think he’s hot, but that’s not why you choose a lead singer. Right?

Marty and Wee Dave Navarro did an unplugged version of his song “Trees.” But Marty wasn’t as exciting as he normally is when he performed his second song, Radiohead’s “Creep.” The song’s a downer, but there are lots of times when the restrained fury he’s shown before would’ve been perfect. Instead we got lots of screaming and bulging neck veins, along with some embarrassing faux-operatic cooing near the end of the song. It’s too bad INXS picked it for him; it doesn’t sound anything like an INXS song, and all it did was highlight Marty’s shortcomings.

Speaking of short things, Mig ended the show with the second embarrassing set of the evening. Granted, he was doomed by the songs INXS assigned him, but he did nothing to help himself. “Paint It, Black” by the Rolling Stones showed that he can’t connect with any heavy or dark material, and Seal’s “Kiss From a Rose” has such stupid lyrics and bad vocal jumps from chest voice to head voice that there’s not much anyone can do to make it sound good. It’s the love theme from Batman Forever, for Pete’s sake! INXS wasn’t impressed and Wee Dave topped off the absurdity by asking Mig to take his jacket off. Then, Mig foolishly agreed to do it, showing off his 120 pounds of pure muscle, baby.

Ugh. Please, people, don’t do this to me. Don’t make me have to watch spry little Mig prance about any longer. I’m sure there’s some Bee Gees musical in the works that he’d be perfect for.

Survivor: Guatemala Preview

(Author’s note: this was written before CBS announced that Bobby Jon and Stephenie would be competing. That’s why they’re not included in this list.)

Summer’s over and it’s Survivor time again! This season is set in Guatemala, affording contestants the opportunity to deface and mock the relics of ancient civilizations. The ugly American strikes again.

This cast is interesting because there are no African-American Survivors. I can only assume that the camp sites are nowhere near bodies of water, because what’s a season of Survivor without the stereotype-fulfilling black person who can’t swim? It may actually be a refreshing change of pace to eliminate at least one of the stereotypes, although it’s too soon to tell if Lydia will renew the role of loud, angry Latina, originated by Sandra in Pearl Islands (“I can get loud, too, what the f—!”).

In anticipation of Thursday’s Survivor: Guatemala premiere, I’ve used the bios at CBS.com to give a rough ranking of the contestants. I’ll qualify this, since I know there’s no chance that this will be the real order of elimination, by saying that these are general placements – basically who’s likely to go quickly and who might be around for a while. Or, in an idealized version of the game, who’d win if nobody else noticed how well they were playing:

16) Lydia – She’s 42 and petite, attributes the typical early-20s Survivor will interpret as old and frail. She’s a fishmonger, which is totally awesome, but the Survivor she most admires is Rupert, so I can’t like her. Unless she starts roaring as well.

15) Brian – He’s 22 and a recent graduate of Columbia University. He’s trying to justify having majored in Psychology by thinking it’ll help him play mind games with the other contestants. That’s not the way it works, nerd. You’re out!

14) Rafe – Another Ivy Leaguer, Rafe’s 22 and a recent Brown graduate. He’s a Mormon who’s in love with his mom. The jocks are going to love that.

13) Jim – At 63, Jim is actually the obvious one to vote out first. But he’s a retired fire captain who now travels the world and climbs mountains, so he’s got a high novelty factor. He may be able to pull a Rudy and stick around till the end if he’s cool and smart enough.

12) Jamie – At 24, this water ski instructor/aspiring actor has an identical twin named Ramie and really mean parents. If he’s strong enough, his tribe may keep him around till the merge, at which point they’ll cut him loose. *When my college friends Rick and Jamie started dating, we nicknamed them “Ramie.” See, it’s not a real name.

11) Margaret – This nurse practicioner is 43 and sports a mullet.

10) Morgan – She’s a magician’s assistant, which is both neat and sad, so this 21-year-old may not last long. If she’s cute enough, she could stick around, but unless she can saw herself in half, she’s gone.

9) Blake – He’s 24 and a really creepy looking model. He likes skydiving and kissing, meaning he’s probably got an online personal ad at Match.com (seriously, everyone there likes skydiving. I mean, come on…). Like Jamie, being young and fit means he won’t win.

8) Brianna – At 21, this make up artist looks like she tried out for The Real World and was miscast. Young women who succeed in the game generally get by on sweetness (Elizabeth, Neleh), but Brianna describes herself as “deceitful.” She’ll have to play an even luckier, er, better game than Jenna Morasca to last to the end.

7) Amy – This 39-year-old police sergeant from Massachusetts is apparently the female version of Tom Westman, last season’s Survivor winner. She even played pro-football (where and when, her bio doesn’t say). There’s no way anyone’s letting her near the final four.

6) Brandon – He’s 22 and a farmer. I’m guessing he’s strong but quiet enough to go unnoticed.

5) Brooke – She’s a 26-year-old law student who grew up on a farm – the thinking woman’s Stephenie. If she can hold back a bit, but still be worth keeping around, she could win it all. But something tells me the others will figure her out and not take their chances.

4) Gary – As a former NFL quarterback, everyone is going to want to hang out with Gary. That is until they remember that he was an NFL quarterback and they punt him off the island.

3) Judd – Why rank a 34-year-old hotel doorman third? He could be another Chris Daugherty, likeable and non-threatening enough that people don’t realize he’s pulling one over on them. Also, he has parents kind enough to name his twin brother Timmy, so that might bode well.

2) Cindy – Another contestant with mean parents! Cindy is a 31-year-old zookeeper with a twin sister named Mindy. Come on people, rhyming twins aren’t cool. Cindy seems pretty buff and a little bossy, so she’d be worth teaming up with if you knew you could beat her in the final vote.

1) Danni – Right now, Danni’s my girl. She’s 30 and hosts a sports radio show in Kansas City. She was a competitor in beauty pageants as well as athletics. The guys will keep her around as long as they can since she’s pretty and knows sports, but by the time they realize she’s a real threat, it’ll be too late. Game over. Hand her the million.

Who Bakes Those Cakes?

This may be the most interesting week of Rock Star shows yet. Tonight’s non-performance show kicked things off as INXS interviewed each contestant individually. The interviews, along with the subsequent conversation between the band mates, led me to some conclusions:

1) Mig doesn’t have a chance. The band didn’t seem that impressed with him and they’ve never had a chance to hear him perform an INXS song. He was assigned the song “Paint It, Black” by the Rolling Stones, a move designed to make him look so uncool that his fans in Australia and New Zealand won’t want to save him. But even if he makes Bottom 3 this week, he’ll probably make the finals because…

2) Marty’s next to go. Everyone in INXS agrees that he’s a good performer, but they also think he’ll need a lot of work to fit in with the band. It didn’t help that he’s already mapped out the band’s future all by himself, should he win. They gave him the song “Creep” by Radiohead and a reprise of his original, “Trees,” as going away present.

3) INXS is divided into pro-Suzie and pro-J.D. camps. Andrew and Garry are solidly in the pro-Suzie camp; Garry thinks she’s the best singer and Andrew would like to write songs for her. The pro-J.D. camp is made up of Tim, Jon and Pengilly, but I don’t think any of them are totally sold on him. All three of them like J.D.’s edginess, but they all admit he’s got problems. However, Andrew thinks J.D. isn’t completely trustworthy or honest and is totally against him; recall that last week, when INXS asked J.D. where he’d take the band musically, he responded, “Into my heart.” Since Andrew is the band’s primary songwriter, his word may prevail, in which case J.D’s out and Suzie’s in.

Using the probability skills I honed as a Mathlete in high school, I’ve deduced that there are four possible ways the voting could turn out after Tuesday night’s performance show. Here’s who goes if the Bottom 3 is:

J.D., Marty, Mig (Suzie’s safe) – Marty’s out
J.D., Marty, Suzie (Mig’s safe) – Marty’s out
J.D., Mig, Suzie (Marty’s safe) – Mig’s out
Marty, Mig, Suzie (J.D.’s safe) – Marty’s out

I Love You, Too, Dave

Dave Navarro’s love for Jordis couldn’t save her tonight, as she became the next contestant booted off of Rock Star:INXS.
Controversy was stirred as,  instead of the more deserving Mig,
J.D. joined Jordis and Suzie in the bottom three. Is there an Oceanian
conspiracy at work? We’ll know if Mig performs the unofficial national
anthem of New Zealand (“Better Be Home Soon” by Crowded House) next
week. Seriously, I heard that song at least once everyday while
vacationing in NZ – sometimes two or three times – and the song’s
17-years-old! Then again, name another Kiwi rock band…I rest my case.

Early
in the show, J.D. was given the encore as the result of fan voting last
night, something I missed while casting my ultimately meaningless votes
for Suzie. INXS also performed the song they debuted in the Recording
Studio Clinic, with the 5 remaining rockers (in the contest, not in
INXS) sharing the vocals. They were also joined on stage by Dave
Navarro, bringing the total number of guitarists performing the song to
4. I guess INXS thought they’d better have back up since they’re old
and you never know when someone might break a hip.

Jordis
started off the bottom 3 performances with “I Need You Tonight.” She
did an okay job, despite missing a cue, but the song showed that her
vocal style is better showcased in other styles of music. Suzie
followed with “Never Tear Us Apart,” which she performed in her bottom
3 appearance on the show’s first elimination episode. She’s really the
only singer left who can sing loudly without losing her control, and
she interacted well with the audience again. Mig was sure he was next
and was stunned when J.D.’s name was called. Mig tried to grab J.D’s
hand but was shrugged off as J.D. headed to the stage to perform
“Mystify.” It was my favorite performance of his yet.

All of the
members of INXS made a point of reassuring Jordis that, even though she
didn’t suit their band, she has a bright career ahead. Dave went so far
as to say that he loved Jordis, receiving a polite, “I love you, too,
Dave,” from her. Hey, you never know when you might need a petite
celebrity guitarist to help you with your solo album (assuming that
Prince isn’t available, of course).

Ty’s Specter Remains

Ty’s gone, but if it’s up to the contestants on Rock Star: INXS,
he won’t be forgotten. Suzie kept his memory alive by performing an
original song she wrote with him. And Mig has decided to become the new
Ty, taking over the areas of creepy gestures and
getting-in-touch-with-your-feelings. Here’s a recap of tonight’s show,
in order of performance.

J.D. – By slowing down Nirvana’s “Come
As You Are,” J.D. made the song less irritating than usual, but he
reverted to the original tempo to end the song. Bummer. His original
wasn’t actually an original; he performed the unfinished INXS song from
the Group Songwriting Clinic (the one that yielded the embarrassing
“Stop Go”), but with his lyrics. Smart move, since most of the
originals that followed were unimpressive and generally wrong for INXS.

Suzie
She knocked Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me” out of the
park. Her original was an okay, but uninspiring, tune that had so much
Ty infused into it that Suzie’s hair began to peak into a mohawk as she
sang it. My problem with Ty is that everything he touches turns into
something from the Broadway show “Rent.” Which leads to…

Mig –
You can take the boy out of musical theater, but you can’t take the
musical theater out of the boy. His performance of “Hard to Handle” was
silly; Garry Beers and I both covered our eyes when Mig ripped open his
shirt. His original song sounded more like Christian rock than INXS. He
should’ve gone right into his encore of “Our God Is an Awesome God”
from the God-rock compilation infomercials. Mig, when your song sucks,
I can’t care about the personal meaning it has for you. Oh, and your
hair made you look like a butch chick.

Jordis – Looks like “We Are the
Champions” really is a hard song to sing. Still, she did it better than
J.D. But Jordis officially threw in the towel with her original
tonight. Her lackluster song showed that she can’t write a vocal
melody, even with Marty’s help. She got knocked down and she couldn’t
get up again. After tonight’s show, she’ll need to drink a whiskey
drink, she’ll need a vodka drink, she’ll need a lager drink, she’ll
need a cider drink. (Yes, that’s a Chumbawamba reference). Booting her
tomorrow would be the merciful thing to do.

Marty – Acoustic Foo
Fighters didn’t work so well, but Marty saved the night with a tune
from his band, The Lovehammers. “Trees” is a fun, catchy tune and Marty
was able to let go and be the energetic frontman that we’ve seen him be.

Crystal
Ball Prediction – Jordis will be cut next, followed by Mig and J.D. Mig
will promptly reunite with Ty in an updated version of West Side Story.
It’ll be set in Western Australia and chronicle a battle between
aboriginals and convicts. INXS will choose Marty as their lead singer,
but the House Band will open for them on tour with Suzie as their lead
singer. The tour will be delayed until Suzie and Garry Beers return
from their honeymoon.