I've been out of the office for a while, and just made it back in time for another five-link Friday.
• Play : Take this online test and see if you can identify the correct eye color of various celebs. I did terribly, and I'm quite proud of that fact.
• If you're a fan of HBO's "Deadwood," you may find yourself wondering how accurate the lingo is in that Old West show. (The profanities aside.) Here's a as drawn from newspapers and other resources of the period. Do you know what a California widow is, or curly wolf? (Warning: The site will ask you if you want that annoying Comet Cursor, and you surely don't.)
• The is worth a bookmark. The site features musical items that have been censored over the years, including the Beatles' famed butcher album cover. Sometimes it seems we've come so far, and other times it's apparent we haven't come far enough.
• Speaking of music that perhaps should have been censored... Remember the "Friends" finale? It all seems like ancient history now, but the week of that show, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin published a funny bit showing readers how to play Phoebe's coffeehouse hit, . What are they feeding you?
• I finally got to see "Super Size Me," the documentary about Morgan Spurlock's 30-day experiment eating only McDonald's food. Hilarious, and what makes the movie so good is Spurlock's personality -- he's about as likable as guy as you could ever meet. He's now on a tour promoting the film and is about his journey.
• So maybe you're at the Kwik-E-Mart, and you need to get to The Simpsons' house on Evergreen Terrace. Or you're at the record store, Suicide Notes (formerly "Good Vibrations"), and you need to get to the Ayn Rand School for Tots. This will help you! (Link from my friend Scott, via
• "Sí! Archi y sus amigos!" says . The official Archie Comics site (yep, they're still around), offers online versions of their comics in seven different languages — Spanish, French, German, Greek, Korean, Norwegian and Swedish. (In Swedish, Archie is known as Betty's , though.)
• Speaking of comics, is always a hoot, but I got a special kick out of this cover he dug up: "Says Scott: "Appropriately, it was edited by the late, great Julius Schwartz, one of DC’s main proponents of the marketing theory that “gorillas sell comics."
• Matt at X-Entertainment has managed to round up still more "Shrek 2" products, and he found . A Shrek version of "Operation," the game that convinced children of the '70s and '80s that being a doctor would be a cinch if not for all the annoying buzzing. A green Etch-a-Sketch with Shrek ears. A Shrek costume that actually invites you to pull its finger. But the best is the Shrek Rotten Root Canal. Says Matt: "Shrek maintains a happy demeanor throughout this torturous process, and even keeps his smile as you’re yanking the tricolor teeth off his head. Guilt has no home in the land of Play-Doh, so yank and drill away. Malice is your ally."
• Worth 1000 had a fun Photoshop contest where they invited readers to Photoshop . And the best of them will always have jobs with John Ashcroft.
Blogging the ‘American Idol’ finale
Fantasia or Diana? Diana or Fantasia? The "American Idol" finale is tonight, and FOX will be taking a whole two hours to tell us that one name.
After watching the performances last night, I'm with the judges: Fantasia is the better, more experienced, more poised singer, and the title should be hers. I wouldn't put a lot of money on it however — young Diana DeGarmo has a lot of fans, and with a contest this close, anything could happen. As , a technical difficulty lasting less than a minute to either phone number could be the difference.
8:00: OK, here we go. I'm gonna go out on a not-very-thin limb and pick Fantasia. We'll see if I'm right.
8:01: Pre-show? Oh, they really know how to milk this thing. Denzel is going to this? Who paid that girl to hold up a "Kiss me Ryan" sign?
8:03: Oh, LaToya, she's good. Sorry about that whole getting kicked off thing, LaToya. You wuz robbed.
8:06: I thought that was Diana there in the striped Foot Locker employee-type dress. (Thankfully it's not.) Fantasia may be the better singer, but Diana is amazingly poised for just 16. How do you go from a regular teen life to this in such a short time? Heh, Georgia's Governor Sonny is wearing a freakily striped tie. Not that I can say anything, Jesse Ventura was my governor, and he was known for wearing feather boas.
8:11: Run the clips of various B-list celebrities picking a winner! Who are these people?
8:13: Fantasia just made it sound like she goes through two tubes of lipgloss a night. Yeah, don't tell me that's the first time Ryan Seacrest has worn lipgloss. A Tiffany candle, from Toni Braxton? Is that like in "Breakfast at Tiffany's" when Audrey Hepburn bought the cheapest item she could get at Tiffany's and it was like a sterling silver telephone dialer?
8:14: Yowch, nice microphone feedback, North Carolina. Or is that just Clay?
8:15: Nicole Richie? The B-list celebs continue. Nice plug for TiVo there, though.
8:16: Aw, I like George, but it sounded like he wasn't quite ready to start singing there when he did. Isn't "Me and Mrs. Jones" about a man having an affair with a married woman? Pretty risque for "Idol."
8:23: Of course Paula thinks the season is the best yet, who would be surprised at that? Of course she'll cry.
8:25: B-list continues with Raymond and his posse of teens. Did he just dog Diana there?
8:26: Jasmine? Did she even have time to get back to Hawaii? And why "Midnight Train to Georgia" all the time -- how about giving other Georgia songs their due. "Devil Went Down to Georgia," maybe, or "The Night The Lights Went out in Georgia"? That's the problem with "American Idol," not enough Vicki Lawrence.
8:30: Simon, showing some chest hair! Why does he have a huge picture of himself in his dressing room? He also adds another syllable to Fantasia's name: Fan-tase-eee-a. Ryan is handing out Simon's T-shirts to the crew? I bet they're all: Yeah, gee thanks, how about a raise instead?
8:32: Sharon Osbourne? Her fifteen minutes were over quite some time ago.
8:33: I wonder if Fox would consider letting people pay extra for a Seacrest-free feed of this show? Also, their logo and set have always looked to me like they didn't expect the show to last, so they kinda just threw up anything they had, and then didn't feel they could change it. Especially the faceless, naked We're-not-copying-the-Oscar-but-we-kind-of-want-you-to-think-of-it mannequin.
8:40: The whole national anthem? My friend Paige says it's because this is the World Series of Singing. Play ball!
8:41: 65 million votes. If only presidential elections did so well. And if only we could vote for a presidential candidate seven or eight hundred times.
8:41: Wow, who would have guessed that Paula was nervous? Paula? Nervous?
8:43: Let's do a montage! A sports-training montage! Whoops, that's from "South Park." Anyway, it's more a medley, or a round, or whatever you call it when different people take different parts of the song. Ruben looks notably thinner. And they're really changed Diana DeGarmo's look since this show started.
8:51: How Diana and Fantasia stand there without shaking is amazing to me. For their young ages, that's pretty good.
8:52: Hometowns, yelling, county commissioners, billboards, teachers, later, rinse, repeat.
8:55: Last night's show was so much better than this. It involved actual singing! Competition! Why couldn't last night have been two hours and they would only take one hours to read one name tonight? Play that line when Randy says Diana "sang her face off." Best. Comment. Ever.
8:56: Last night was pretty straightforward. Diana kind of messed up a little, and Fantasia didn't. But Ryan Seacrest's boxing analogy is just not working for me.
9:04: OK, I admit, I like Kelly Clarkson. She's both sweet and talented. But I would never buy this song, or an album of her singing.
9:06: Do people really buy more cars based on this kind of "video"? Heh, I like the part where it looks like the car has gone mad, like "Christine," and is going to run the two finalists over.
9:12: Medley? Time for a medley! What is George wearing? Is he in the Willy Wonka remake? Why are they all wearing yellow and white? My friend Denise says it looks like the old Brady Bunch, and it does, either the Brady Bunch Variety Hour or when they all dressed up to try and pay for Carol and Mike's anniversary silver platter because Jan messed up on the price of the engraving. Heh. Good times. They're going to lose in the end to Patty's Prancing Poodles.
9:20: Now how could everyone in the world not know who Barry Manilow is? With "Mandy" such a hot and modern hit and all.
9:25: And Ruben sings. Someone possibly should have adjusted his microphone to his height -- oh, there, he did it himself. Did he actually just sing "What if I had to catch the bus?" Heh, this is kind of funny. I should pay closer attention to the lyrics. It's kinda like "What if God was one of us, only "God" equals "Ruben." Also, is that a picture of himself on his shirt? Bring back the 205!
9:34: Oh, hey, Diana and Fantasia singing! I almost forgot this show is about them singing! But this song...so...awful. Every love-song cliche thrown into a blender. Where's that part of it where I'm convinced they switch to another song? Oh, here it comes: Isn't this that Jackie Wilson song, "Your Love Keeps Lifting Me Higher?" Did Jackie agree to be sampled, here?
9:39: Fantasia looks great in white. That top resembles the blouse she auditioned in, and it flatters her enormously. Although this is perhaps not the best song she could have done, the votes are already in, so it doesn't much matter.
9:46: They're going to sing together. A mini-medley! Damn, they both have great voices, but I still think it's going to Fantasia. She's just got it together more, though Diana came a long way this season.
9:49: Whoa, I forgot the judges were even here. Paula and her cliches. I suspect both of them are going to have records and songs on the radio, no matter who wins. Randy, give us a 'dawg,' won't you? An A'ight?
9:51: Now how can Fantasia possibly lose after a statement like that from Simon? Unless the audience just wanted to make him mad.
9:53: Woo! There we go! That was the right decision, it really was. Thanks America! You too, Hawaii!
Death comes to ‘The Sopranos’
Warning: If you have the latest episode of "The Sopranos" taped or TiVoed and ready to watch when you get time, don't read any further. In fact, don't look at the MSNBC.com Entertainment front today.
(It's probably too late to tell you that, huh? We try to keep spoilers off the MSNBC main cover, but it's hard not to report entertainment news in the Entertainment section)
For those of you who've seen it and are reading on, I'm still floored by , and definitely the best of the season. And I'm a little surprised at how sad it made me feel.
We asked readers to write in with their reactions, and here are just a few.
- Eyes of a battered woman
"Not since Pie-O-My, another innocent mob victim, have I felt so bad about a Sopranos death. The fans usually cry out for a whacking every week. I am now going to be careful what I wish for. ... The one scene of hope we had - Adriana running for it with a suitcase and heading South on 95. Sun in her eyes. Only to be shocked into reality of her sitting next to Silvio heading down narrower roads until they were driving on leaves. Her eyes were those of all battered women. Resignation. Until the last fight for her life. To hold on, or run away. ... I think the wrenching part was the dead man walking aspect of it. She was of no harm to anyone. She was always positive. Yet she knew that her life was over, her dreams were gone, she lost her health, she lost her man. Perhaps this was the best out for her. Better than 25 years in jail for accomplice to murder. Better than living without Christopher." —Karen
- Got what she deserved
"Adriana got what she deserved. She should have gone to Tony and Christopher the same day she was approached by the FBI, while it was a measly drug charge and still very manageable. She should have done her time (possibly probation) and been revered as a “for the family” ferociously loyal, mafia bride-to-be. Tony B did 15 hard. Certainly Christopher could handle 1-5 if necessary." —Steve
- No redemption
"What a night! Women friends and gals I work with are devastated and we can’t figure out why. It’s a television show, for heaven’s sake! But, actually one of the saddest episodes we have ever seen on any program … ever. For all of the reasons you so eloquently articulated, last night broke our hearts. For me, I saw it coming, but there was a part of me that hoped she would live. I will, as you note, never, ever see these male characters the same way again. This time, they can’t redeem themselves. " —Pat
- Justice is coming
"I have fallen every which way for these cast members which make you overlook their true evils within themselves. That all changed the night Adriana was killed. I saw her betrayed by lover, friends, I saw where the "family's" priorities lay and how quick and easy a decision was made in regard to her. For that, I am starting to develop a disgust for Tony's crew. justice may not be served for them in this episode but I believe it's on it's way." —Tina
- Favorite character
“Impossible to imagine that my favorite Soprano character is now dead. Ade’s passing marked a turning point in the show for me. She was part of the soul for that show and she will be missed greatly. Wondering what is going to happen now... Will she be replaced quickly? Or will she torment the remaining characters in the season to come? Looking forward to seeing Carmela’s reaction, as well as Meadow’s. Goodbye Ade, we hardly knew ye.” —Ben
- The price you pay
“This episode is about the price we are willing to pay. Carmela has always had her price, Valentina paid her price for her affair, Johnny Sack and Philly want their price on Tony Blundetto, Christopher will continue to pay the price for Tony as he states he will go to hell for him and Adriana paid the price for believing that there was a way that her and Christopher could run away from all this. She believed he would take her way out. Never. The acting demonstrated week after week on this show is the finest on TV today.” —Ginny
- “Joey” bound
Her death makes it easier for her to focus on her staring role in the new NBC spin-off “Joey”. When I saw the preview for Joey on Dateline she was in it. For me that gave it away, because I now knew who was going to get whacked this year on The Sopranos.” —Mark
- Family foreshadowing
“You have to love Adriana, because she truly wanted to believe ... in Christopher, and her future with him. What really got me though, was the one scene before Christopher told Tony about her ‘confessions’ to the FBI, where he saw the wife and kids and the father (looking kinda scroungy) coming out of the convenience store and thought, ‘Is this what I have to look forward to in my future??) That showed the shallowness of Christopher!” —Marty
- Adriana the rat
“Your poll regarding the execution of Adriana LaCerva is missing a choice: Well-deserved and about time. She was a rat, not an innocent. She was a drug dealer, money launderer, front for the mafia, accessory to murder. Small potatoes compared to Christopher’s crimes, but hardly an innocent. Besides, she committed the cardinal sin, she got a role on another network - worse still, for a Friends spinoff.” —Jim
- Amazing acting
“I cannot think of two more incredible acting performances in recent memory, both in television and film, than those of Edie Falco’s as Carmela upon hearing of Meadow’s engagement (the conflicting emotions she displayed in that scene were a master class in acting), and the depth of emotional pain reflected in Drea de Matteo’s Adriana in last evening’s episode. Without doubt, Tony and Christopher’s loyalties were revealed by conspiring in Adriana’s murder. What will be very interesting to see next week is if the same fate awaits Tony’s cousin, Tony Blundetto. Will Tony Soprano’s loyalties to the Mob code be able to withstand the call for Tony B’s murder? I am not so sure.” —Denise
- Worst season ever
“I have watched from the very first episode and this season has been the worst of all. I think I heard or read that this was to be the last season and I can now see why. The writing has gone south and after all it is a show about asocial criminals. They have tried to make a mob boss the hero of the material. A hero trapped by circumstance into a life of crime, Whatever happened to personal responsibility? The cast has done a great job with the material they have been given; but much of the material was questionable. The only way to end the show is to bump off Tony. His wife left him, his children hate him, and he has been shown to be a double dealing psychopath.” —Gary
- There must be consequences
“Until now, the characters that got whacked were despicable people who weren’t long for this world. Those characters were shown in limited dimensions. But Adriana? I don’t think I am alone in feeling offended. I’m anxious to see how the show addresses her demise. Fans want to see remorse and consequences. If they breeze through this like Adriana is just another casualty, I think we all will feel cheated.” —Meggan
- The inevitable"You really have to get a life. It is a TV show , not real." —EM Hibbard