American Idol Top 11, Season 8, March 17, 2009

Find my latest American Idol article here.

This may have been my favorite episode of Idol ever.  It had everything.  The performances from top to bottom were easily the best that we have ever seen on Idol at this point in the competition, and some verged on greatness.  The show contained the strangest moment in Idol history when Adam Lambert sang what he purported to be Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire”.  And finally, we were treated to the best ‘on air’ brush up between the judges ever when Paula told blind performer Scott MacIntyre that he was using his piano as a ‘crutch,’ and suggesting that he should lose it.  Simon rightly commented that Paula’s suggestion was ‘stupid’, but rather than take a breath and realize how offensive and stupid what she said was, she told Simon that he was being disrespectful of her.

Later Paula quoted Eddie Murphy when asked about her comment to Scott saying, “You want to impress me?  Take the Wheel M&*%@$ F*%$@#!”  Later she criticized paraplegic Joni Eareckson Tada for always painting with her feet, and the late Christopher Reeve for sounding breathy in his later roles (all made up, but funny).  Scott was seen trying on tap shoes, a top hat and cane after the performance, and suddenly several tickets were available for the first three rows on e-bay.

It was country music week.  This is the one week that keeps me from completely supporting everything that Simon says.  He usually cannot get by the fact that he simply hates country music, and criticizes anyone who tries to sing it, no matter how well they do.  This week, was different.  Simon seemed much more objective, and the performances were much better, and varied.

Also, every year some contestant feels the need to be a smart ass to Simon.  First, contestants need to remember that Simon is right 90% of the time.  Second, you will look like an ass if you show disrespect for him, and the audience will send you home for it.  Third, there is no quicker way to destroy your ‘likeable guy’ (or girl) image than by doing this. Michael Sarver should have known better.

Randy Travis was one of the best advisors that they have ever had on the show.  His advice was good and positive.  He was personable, and his interaction with Adam was priceless.

On a final note, I write my opinions of the performances before I hear the judges’ reactions.  I don’t want to be influenced by what they have to say.  It makes it more interesting for me that way.

On to the performances:

Michael Sarver- “Ain’t Going Down (‘Till the Sun Comes Up)”– This week was right in his wheelhouse.  There are a lot of words in this song, and I thought he missed the intro on the second verse.  He has no diction at all.  The vocal was OK, but the stage performance looked like he was in slow motion.  His body carried none of the emotion that comes with the song, and that caused him to pale in the light of a performer like Garth Brooks.  I thought he missed his best opportunity with this song.  He could have done any country music song, but what he did was simply not good enough to make him stand out.  It’s time for him to go back to the rig.

The judges’ comments were mixed at best.

Allison Iraheta- “Blame it on the Heart”– I thought it was a little too affected, but she sang it very well.  I like her voice better in this genre than as a rocker.

The judges were generally positive with Simon somehow noting in a positive way that it was tuneless, and verged on precocious.

Kris Allen- “To Make You Feel My Love”– I thought this song sounded great, and the falsetto was very nice.  It was excellent in a Simon & Garfunkel sort of way.

The judges unanimously loved it with Simon calling it terrific.

Lil Rounds- “Independence Day”– It was nice to see a girl contestant pick a song that had low verses, but keep it in her range.  As far as the performance went, it was good, but nothing to write home about.  She also talked way too much after she sang.

The judges did not love it.

Adam Lambert- “Ring of Fire”– Wow!  Or maybe, wow?  This performance was completely crazy.  I had no idea what to say about it or whether I liked it or not.  It was way too affected, but there was still something great about the vocal.  It had a strange sort of James Bond quality to it.  If you did not see it, there is no way to describe it.  You need to Google it.

The judges seemed as confused as I was.  Kara summed it up by describing it as ‘strange in a good way.’

Scott MacIntyre- “Wild Angel”– He had a very nice tone to his voice, and looked very professional behind the piano.  I thought it was easily his best performance so far.

The judges generally liked the performance except for Paula’s specious criticism which was referenced above.

Alexis Grace- “Jolene”– I thought she was definitely the best girl singer of the evening.  She had good inflection and emotion.  I thought it was great, unfortunately, I was alone.

The judges seemed to not like it at all.

Danny Gokey- “Jesus Take the Wheel”– I’m not a big fan of this song.  The lyrics seem a little contrived.  There was a nice tone to the verses, but they were too long.  This brings me to something that I have noticed on Idol.  Idol performances are little more than sound bytes, and the audience is used to that.  Contestants need to get to the point when performing.  The problem with this song is that it told a story, so he had to sing all eight lines of the first two verses before he got to the chorus (Lil Round’s song suffered from the same problem).  However, when he got to the chorus, the vocal was transcendent.  I thought he was the best of the night.

The judges did not like the verses, but loved the chorus.

Anoop Desai- “You Were Always on My Mind”– It began very nicely, and got better.  His emoting was great.  Everyone was worried about him choosing another song that was so associated with a particular singer, but he pulled it off and more.  It was a million times better than last week, and one of my top four for the night.

The judges loved it.

Megan Joe- “I Go Walking After Midnight”– Who is Megan Joe?  What happened to the Corkrey?  Is it smart to change your name at this point in the competition, and say nothing about it?  I thought her dress was terrible, and reminded me of Clash of the Titans.  She was pitchy all the way through.  She uses the same irritating affectation on her words in every song.  It is irritating, and they all sound the same.  Her attempt at quirkiness made this even worse, and had a Liza Minelli, Broadway quality to it.

The judges spent the whole time telling us how professional she was for performing when she was sick, and how great the performance was.  Right.

Matt Giraud- “So Small”– It was very bluesy and soulful.  It was also very good, and I thought the vocal was something I could hear on the radio.

The judges loved it.

I am not sure who will go home tonight.  It could be Michael Sarver, Allison Iraheta, Kris (due to unfortunate placement in the show), Adam (due to strangeness), Lil Rounds, Alexis or Megan.  I think it should be Michael or Megan, but I think it will actually be Michael.

Top 100 Movie Characters of all Time

I have a friend who recently posted a list from a website calling itself ‘Premier’ that named ‘The 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time.’  He was shocked and appalled that Darth Vader was languishing at #84 on the list below such spares as Private Benjamin, Doctor Evil, The Dude, and a host of others.  While I agreed that this was a travesty, I quickly noticed a few notable absences from the list, and the more I looked the more great characters were simply missing from the list, while others, such as Gollum were inexplicably placed near the top of the list.

This is where the obsessive compulsive part of my personality kicked in.  I began to look at their list with a more critical eye.  The fist thing I noticed was that some of the characters seemed to be shoe-horned into the list, and often these characters were female.  I’m not trying to say that there are no great female characters in movie history, but it may be a fair indictment to accuse the industry for not writing strong female roles, especially in the early years of cinema, and perhaps just as much today.  This may well be the case, but I don’t think the cure for it is to falsely elevate existing female roles above their actual station as ir appears that Premier did (Bonnie from Bonnie and Clyde and Private Benjamin a two good examples).

I further fed my obsession by attempting to think if all the good characters that they left off their list.  I came up with another 109 examples, some more strong than others and quite a few whose omissions were simply egregious.  Then, I sat down with all 209 names and made my own Top 100 Movie Characters of all Time list.  The biggest deficiency of my list is the fact that I have not seen all of the old classics (though I am currently on a classic movie binge).  Characters like Fred C. Dobbs of Treasure of the Sierra Madre and a few others may suffer unfairly because of this, but I have no regrets about leaving a character like Ninotchka off the list because I, my family and my friends have never heard of her (shoe-horned). 

I tried to take several things into account.  How well the character endures, how much effect the character has had on popular culture, the importance of the character and whether that role or the movie it was associated with received awards while it was out.  Accepting the possible shortcomings and the obvious advantages of my list, I am putting it out, and still argue that it is much better than the list provided by Premier.  Enjoy.

1. Don Michael Corleone of The Godfather: Part II

2. Charles Foster Kane of Citizen Kane

3. Atticus Finch of To Kill a Mockingbird

4. Scarlett O’Hara of Gone With the Wind

5. Indiana Jones of Raiders of the Lost Ark

6. William Wallace of Braveheart

7. Darth Vader of Star Wars

8. Hannibal Lecter of The Silence of the Lambs

9. Robin Hood of The Adventures of Robin Hood

10. Dorothy Gale of The Wizard of Oz

11. Rick Blaine of Casablanca

12. Oskar Schindler of Schindler’s List

13. General George S. Patton of Patton

14. Captain William Bligh of Mutiny on the Bounty

15. Maximus Decimus Meridius of Gladiator

16. Cool Hand Luke of Cool Hand Luke

17. Shane of Shane

18. Marshall Will Kane of High Noon

19. George Bailey of It’s a Wonderful Life

20. Vito Corleone of The Godfather

21. Tom Joad of The Grapes of Wrath

22. Moses of the Ten Commandments

23. James Bond of Dr. No

24. Andy Dufresne of The Shawshank Redemption

25. Jake La Motta of Raging Bull

26. Forrest Gump of Forrest Gump

27. Sparticus of Sparticus

28. Captain Jack Sparrow of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

29. Doc Holiday of Tombstone

30. Jefferson Smith of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

31. T.E. Lawrence of Lawrence of Arabia

32. Ben Hur of Ben Hur

33. Jim Stark of Rebel Without a Cause

34. Rooster Cogburn of True Grit

35. E.T. of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

36. Batman of Batman

37. Randle McMurphy of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

38. Frankenstein of Frankenstein

39. Spock of Star Trek

40. Spiderman of Spiderman

41. Dracula of Dracula

42. Superman of Superman

43. Harry Potter of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

44. Gordon Gekko of Wall Street

45. Navin Johnson of The Jerk

46. Norman Bates of Psycho

47. Gunnery Sgt. Hartman of Full Metal Jacket

48. Karl Childers of Sling Blade

49. Butch Cassidy of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

50. Dirty Harry Callahan of Dirty Harry

51. Ferris Bueller of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

52. George Taylor of Planet of the Apes

53. Daniel E. ‘Rudy’ Ruettiger of Rudy

54. Jeff Spicoli of Fast Times at Ridgemont High

55. Tarzan of Tarzan the Ape Man

56. Jake Blues of The Blues Brothers

57. John Rambo of First Blood

58. Captain Quint of Jaws

59. King Kong of King Kong

60. Willy Wonka of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory

61. Mary Poppins of Mary Poppins

62. The Terminator of The Terminator

63. Jules Winnfield of Pulp Fiction

64. Mrs. Robinson of The Graduate

65. Rocky Balboa of Rocky

66. Tommy DeVito of GoodFellas

67. Raymond Babbitt of Rain Man

68. King Arthur of Camelot/Excalibur

69. Annie Wilkes of Misery

70. John McClane of Die Hard

71. Gunnery Sergeant Emil Foley of An Officer and a Gentleman

72. Lt. Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell of Top Gun

73. Mad Max Rockatansky of Mad Max

74. Sandy Olsson of Grease

75. John “Bluto” Blutarsky of Animal House

76. Jack Torrance of The Shining

77. Baronin Maria von Trapp of The Sound of Music

78. Hedley Lamar of Blazing Saddles

79. William Cutting of Gangs of New York

80. Freddy Krueger of A Nightmare on Elm Street

81. Ralphie Parker of A Christmas Story

82. Max Cady of Cape Fear

83. Regan MacNeil of The Exorcist

84. Jason of Friday the 13th

85. Mrs. Doubtfire of Mrs Doubtfire

86. Carrie White of Carrie

87. Carl Spackler of Caddyshack

88. Captain Marko Ramius of The Hunt for Red October

89. Captain Hook of Peter Pan

90. Norma Rae of Norma Rae

91. Mona Lisa Vito of My Cousin Vinny

92. Sally Albright of When Harry Met Sally

93. Marge Gunderson of Fargo

94. Sergeant Martin Riggs of Lethal Weapon

95. Crash Davis of Bull Durham

96. Marty McFly of Back to the Future

97. Inigo Montoya of The Princess Bride

98. Bo ‘Bandit’ Darville of Smokey and the Bandit

99. Lane Meyer of Better Off Dead

100. Curly Washburn of City Slickers


Just to prove that I did my homework, here are the other 109 that were considered, but did not make the list in alphabetical order (my friend hates it when I do this):


Frank Abignale Jr. of Catch Me If You Can

Gust Avrakotos of Charlie Wilson’s War

Arthur Bach of Arthur

Howard Beale of Network

Hans Beckert of M

Judy Benjamin of Private Benjamin

Travis Bickle of Taxi Driver

Blondie of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Frank Booth of Blue Velvet

Borat of Borat

Erin Brockovich of Erin Brockovich

Oda Mae Brown of Ghost

Truman Burbank of The Truman Show

Truman Capote of Capote

Chance the Gardener of Being There

Margo Channing of All About Eve

Inspector Clouseau of The Pink Panther

Conan of Conan the Barbarian

Frank Costello of The Departed

Jane Craig of Broadcast News

Paul Crewe of The Longest Yard

David Crockett of The Alamo

Melanie Daniels of The Birds

Daphne/Jerry of Some Like it Hot

Donnie Darko of Donnie Darko

Rick Deckard of Blade Runner

Alex DeLarge of A Clockwork Orange

Norma Desmond of Sunset Boulevard

Phyliss Dietrichson of Double Indemnity

Dil of The Crying Game

Fred C. Dobbs of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

Lloyd Dobler of Say Anything

Antoine Doinel of The 400 Blow

Michael Dorsey/Dorthy Michaels of Tootsie

The Dude of The Big Lebowski

Lt. John J. Dunbar of Dances With Wolves

Napoleon Dynamite of Napoleon Dynamite

Wyatt Earp of Gunfight at the OK Corral

Eathan Edwards of The Searchers

Sergeant Elias of Platoon

Dr. Evil of Austin Powers

Irwin ‘Fletch’ Fletcher of Fletch

Gaylord ‘Greg’ Focker of Meet the Parents

Fogell or ‘McLovin’ of Superbad

Axel Foley of Beverly Hills Cop

Alex Forrest of Fatal Attraction

Gandalf Of The Lord of The Rings The Fellowship of the Rings

Ghandi of Ghandi

Happy Gilmore of Happy Gilmore

Jake Gittes of Chinatown

Godzilla of Godzilla

Holly Golightly of Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Gollum of Lord of the Rings

Joel Goodson of Risky Business

Aurora Greenway of Terms of Endearment

Clark Griswold of Vacation

Annie Hall of Annie Hall

Hawkeye (Nathaniel Poe) of The Last of the Mohicans

Pee Wee Herman of Pee Wee’s Big Adventure

Sherlock Holmes of The Hound of the Baskervilles

J.J. Hunsecker of Sweet Smell of Success

Mrs. Iselin of The Manchurian Candidate

Paul Kersey of Deathwish

Lt. Kilgore of Apocalypse Now

Ray Kinsella of Field of Dreams

Roger “Verbal” Kint of The Usual Suspects

Stanley Kowalski of A Streetcar Named Desire

Eric Liddell of Chariots of Fire

Harry Lime of The Third Man

The Little Tramp of Mabel’s Strange Predicament

Logan 5 of Logan’s Run

Jerry Maguire of Jerry Maguire

John Malkovich of Being John Malkovich

Terry Malloy of On the Waterfront

Jim Malone of The Untouchables

Tony Manero of Saturday Night Fever

Kevin McCallister of Home Alone

Tony Montana of Scarface

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart of Amadeus

John Nash of A Beautiful Mind

Captain Marc Nemo of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

Ninotchka of Ninotchka

Danny Ocean of Ocean’s Eleven

Henri ‘Papillon’ Charriere of Papillon

Bonnie Parker of Bonnie and Clyde

Rev. Harry Powell of The Night of the Hunter

Tom Powers of The Public Enemy

Miranda Priestly of The Devil Wears Prada

Buford Pusser of Walking Tall

Matthew Quigley of Quigley Down Under

Jessica Rabbit of Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

Ellen Ripley of Alien

Ratso Rizzo of Midnight Cowboy

Rose Sayer of The African Queen

Ebenezer Scrooge of A Christmas Carol

Edward Scissorhands of Edward Scissorhands

John Shaft of Shaft

Han Solo of Star Wars

Sam Spade of The Maltese Falcon

Steve Stiffler of American Pie

Willard Stiles of Willard

Dr. Strangelove of Dr. Strangelove

Alan Swann of My Favorite Year

Catherine Tramell of Basic Instinct

Virgil Tibbs of In the Heat of the Night

Susan Vance of Bringing up Baby

Dr. Peter Venkman of Ghostbusters

Ace Ventura of Ace Ventura,: Pet Detective

Vivian Ward of Pretty Woman