Things What Things is moving to its very own URL, so come find me right where you’d expect.


Previously on I Promise To Wash My Hands Between Stirring Shit And Scooping Ice Cream: Ozzy found the idol, and he replaced it with an obviously fake one, which was found by Jason, Non-Master Of The Obvious. His little Nookie Foursome was sitting pretty until the tribes were scrambled, at which point Ozzy and Amanda’s pathetic Malakal half started losing repeatedly to James and Parvati’s Airai half, led by surprising challenge demon…Eliza? Parvati decided to make an alliance with Alexis and Natalie, who are these two women who are on the Airai tribe who didn’t really talk in the first eight episodes of the show, making them shoo-ins to walk away as co-winners of the coveted Most Forgettable Person To Ever Be On This Show award, except that no one will remember them when it’s time to vote. Irony! For the first time, a “Favorite” went instead of a “Fan” when a weirdly weepy Ami was booted at Ozzy’s insistence over the Ozzy-infatuated Erik.

At Malakal post-tribal-council, Ozzy insists that he would have toootally never voted Ami out if she’d been honest. Honest how? “You can’t try to get me out unless you tell me in advance you’re going to try to vote me out”? “You have to tell me after the fact that you tried to vote me out, and then I won’t try to vote you out”? This is so dumb. What he said last week about how he goes after anyone he finds out was trying to get him out? That’s not unreasonable. Not sophisticated strategic thinking, necessarily, but it’s defensible. Of course, rather than sticking with that, he’s decided to make it all about honesty, like he threw Ami out of the Babysitters’ Club for hurting his feelings.

“If she’d just stuck with me, she’d still be in this game!” he says. Yes, if Ami had just been loyal to Ozzy, he would have kept her in the game slightly longer before voting her out. Why didn’t she see the obvious wisdom in this course of action? He might have allowed her to finish as high as sixth! Stupid Ami. What did she want, to win?

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So apparently, the reason you may like 30 Rock and The Office and not like Two And A Half Men is that you are a snob. So says Tim Goodman at the San Francisco Chronicle, who pronounces non-fans of laugh-tracky, shticky sitcoms to be snobs of the first order. In fact, he informs you that your reason for skipping CBS Monday nights is that you think you are “too cool for the room.”

What’s most baffling to me about the piece is that it lumps How I Met Your Mother in with Two And A Half Men and The Big Bang Theory. Apparently, this is because they’re all on Monday nights. While they’re technically a group in this sense, the inclusion of How I Met Your Mother actually argues against Goodman’s entire thesis, which is that these shows are all “underappreciated” because snobs who miss Arrested Development refuse to acknowledge the appeal of traditional laugh-tracked sitcoms.

What’s wrong with this argument is that almost everyone I know who is in this group — who loves The Office and 30 Rock and misses Arrested Development — loves How I Met Your Mother. Despite the laugh track, despite the fact that it’s on CBS, despite the fact that it’s on Monday nights, despite the fact that it has setup-punchline moments more often than The Office, people like it anyway, for exactly the reason Goodman discusses: it’s funny. How I Met Your Mother underachieves in terms of ratings, but so does 30 Rock. There’s huge audience overlap there.

I don’t dislike Two And A Half Men because it has a laugh track, though I generally disfavor laugh tracks. I dislike it because I think it’s stupid. Not silly; there’s nothing wrong with silly. 30 Rock is intensely silly. But when I watch a set of punch lines from Two And A Half Men all in a row, as in this CBS promo, it makes me want to set my own hair on fire. None of it makes me laugh, it all sounds like variations on jokes I’ve heard four hundred times, and I simply don’t find any of it even a little bit amusing. I do, however, find How I Met Your Mother amusing, and when it was on, I found The King Of Queens amusing, although it would have been better without the laugh track.

I watch Judge Judy. I watch Trading Spaces. I watch America’s Next Top Model and World’s Wildest Police Videos. You know what I watch on Monday nights when I’m not watching CBS comedies? Dancing With The Stars. I mean, get serious. There’s not a room on earth I’m too cool for, and certainly not one defined by the fact that it contains unsophisticated humor. I watched The Big Bang Theory, and the reason I never watched it again wasn’t that it wasn’t hip enough. The reason I never watched it again was that it was agonizingly unfunny with the exception of perhaps two brief moments in a half-hour show, which simply is not adequate. Goodman seems absolutely convinced that no honest person could claim to have not laughed at Two And A Half Men, no matter how much he or she may have “stifled” it. Seriously, I promise you: that show does not make me laugh. It does not tempt me to laugh. I do not experience cognitive dissonance.

As for Rules Of Engagement, the premiere of which is the ostensible reason for the piece’s appearance at this particular moment, I haven’t really watched it. But that’s not because I’m too cool for it. It’s because it contains David Spade. I have seen David Spade do his thing in a number of different venues, and it’s always basically the same deal, and I thought it was funny for about three months back when he was on SNL, but I haven’t found it funny since. Am I not allowed to think David Spade isn’t funny? Does thinking David Spade isn’t funny make me a snob?

Oddly, Goodman’s praise is enormously faint for these shows. He suggests that The Big Bang Theory should be watched because it makes so many jokes that one occasionally works, and that you should appreciate the fact that the leads are working so hard. You know what I don’t enjoy in comedy? Sitting there thinking, “That guy is working really hard to make that joke work.” Two And A Half Men gets the rousing defense that it “hits the periodic punch line.”

You know what? There’s a lot on television. If you like Two And A Half Men, good on you. If you like The Big Bang Theory, that’s great. But I find an accusation of snobbery being leveled at people simply for choosing to skip something about which even a defender can only say it “hits the periodic punchline” to be a little unfair. The very people Goodman is talking about are the ones who forwarded the Robin Sparkles video to all their friends and who still watch “Slap Bet.” This is the kind of piece about TV that always frustrates me, because there’s so much to say about shows that are interesting, and this seems like the only thing anybody could think of to say about Rules Of Engagement: “Premiering tonight, and not quite as entirely devoid of merit as you may have heard, and if you don’t agree with me, you’re a snob!”

I am a lot of things about TV, but I’m no snob, and I don’t have to make amends with the on-air comedy stylings of Charlie Sheen to prove it.

I’m not in favor of more plastic doodads; I’m really not. I understand about waste.

But they’ve had the Starbucks splash sticks at my sister’s Starbucks in Virginia for a year or more, and I’ve always been extremely envious of them. Contrary to what I’ve seen said in a few other places, the splash stick is not only good if you drive around with your coffee, though admittedly, that’s one of the most compelling uses. If you’re bringing back several drinks, which people do all the time, you wind up carrying them in a tray, and they do tend to slop around. It seems to me that they could have done this with a shorter thing — I’m not sure why the stick needs to go down into the coffee like that. But my sister has saved them, typically, so she has one in the car when she needs it. She often carries one in her purse.

I realize it’s incredibly petty, and the fact that I used to splash coffee around when carrying coffees back to several people at once doesn’t justify making more plastic and destroying the earth, but I cannot help it — when I heard they were bringing these somewhere besides Virginia, I was unduly happy.

One of the best things about living in New York is that I have people in other parts of the East Coast I enjoy visiting, and they’re within a few hours via ground transportation. Usually, I take Amtrak when I pop down to D.C. to see my sister and her family or my Music Stylist and his family — or, ideally, both — but I’ve been sort of intrigued by the famous Chinatown buses, which Jane Wiedlin’s Boyfriend uses for Boston-New York, but which also go to D.C. On the other hand, not all of those bus lines have great reputations for cleanliness, safety, having drivers with licenses, providing transportation without loud Chinese rock music, et cetera.

So I was extra-intrigued by Greyhound’s introduction of Boltbus, its new line between the same cities most commonly served by Chinatown buses. Instead of the usual Greyhound approach of stopping fairly frequently and taking a long time as a result and costing a lot, Boltbus only goes between a few spots, and it goes express with no stops. In New York, it leaves from a couple of places, one of which is at 33rd and 7th across from Madison Square Garden, only a couple of blocks from the F train. Better yet, it drops off in DC right in front of the Metro Center stop on the D.C. Metro, making it very easy to go wherever you need to go next. I decided to try it out this weekend for a last-minute jaunt to D.C. to see the MS — missed my sis this time, but I’ll get her next time, and it won’t be long, because I LOVE BOLTBUS.

They promote two things about Boltbus very prominently: it’s cheap, and it has wireless. Indeed, even at the very last minute, I paid $40 roundtrip from New York to D.C., and if you have a little more notice, you can get a ticket for $30. Or $20. Or $14. Or, if you book a month or so in advance, $2. That’s right — part of their charm is that they offer a one-dollar fare each way, provided you book early enough. Not many of those two-buck fares are available, I’m sure, but that makes New York to D.C. and back the same price as taking the train from Brooklyn to Rockefeller Center.

At any rate, this trip was $40, compared to $140 at the very least for the non-express Amtrak train, which takes about the same amount of time, and probably more like $300 for the express Amtrak train. For that price, I got on a clean, comfortable bus in Manhattan and got off that clean, comfortable bus right outside the Metro. It wasn’t noisy, it felt safe, the drivers were courteous (the one back from D.C. to New York was an absolute hoot), and it was pretty much flawless service.

Not only that, but the wireless worked. They don’t even have wireless on Amtrak. Granted, it dropped in and out a couple of times, and one lady told me that she took one bus of theirs where the wireless didn’t work. But for me, it worked, and it meant that I could send email and be on IM and basically pass the time on my four-and-a-half-hour bus ride without boredom laying a glove on me.

I definitely give them a thumbs-up, and if you’re an east-coast traveler, you might consider it.

Well, of course I am. Things I’m advocating today:

  • Music Stylist Stephen is among the pundits on the latest All Songs Considered show over at; hear a whole bunch of new music, including a new Eef offering (Eefering?) and some new Shearwater, bound to make you weep. (The “Listen To Show” link there will open the NPR player, which is one of the easiest and least annoying audio players I know of, so don’t fear it. The Eefpearance is in the second half or so of the show.)
  • Sarah is porting over old Vines at Tomato Nation, and if you’ve never treated yourself to Robert/Roberta, you must. It’s a hilarious letter, and the response is even funnier. Of course, there is also Jack The Tomato-Stealer, who really pushed his luck with the “striking a blow for human rights” argument.
  • I love everything BeneFit. I don’t know whether the “shimmering powders” will still be up when you get there, but I am not into that, because I am over 20, and therefore, I do not wear shimmering powders. But BeneFit makes more normal-looking, unobtrusive, easy-to-wear stuff than anyone, and some of the flaw-correcting items actually correct flaws. (Obviously, they’re not flaws in the sense that anyone needs to feel bad about herself, but there are days when you wake up on the suck side of bad sleep or bad moods and don’t necessarily want to wear that fact around all day.) As Tara and I have both tirelessly said, the pink Eye Bright pencil is so very versatile, particularly if you are pale like we both are.
  • The always-funny Fire Joe Morgan is on fire today, and as is often the case, the source is Ken Tremendous, who recently outed himself as Michael Schur, The Office writer and portrayer of cousin Mose. Mr. Tremendous is almost as aggravated by baseball-statistics-likers being portrayed as basement-dwelling losers as I am about bloggers being presented the same way. But he’s better at saying it.

So that’s four items of tireless advocacy, and if you like music, good advice, looking refreshed, and sports talk, you can thank me later.

Okay, before I stop procrastinating from actual paid work as I am currently doing, I have to explain this. This is where we get into one of the dark, dark worlds to which I once belonged…college a cappella.

When I was at Oberlin, I was in the women’s a cappella group, Nothing But Treble. (Hey, I didn’t make up the name, dudes. They all have puns in them. Shut up.) Anyway, in probably…the fall of 1990 or spring of 1991, we had the Columbia Kingsmen open for us, and they did “Cezanne,” as well as “The Mayor Of Simpleton,” which I was just mentioning down in the First Warm Day post.

And I finally found a video of the original song (apparently not the original-original, but…close enough — from what I’ve been able to discover, this is a scooch different from the original and this is the one the Kingsmen worked off of), and it delighted me so much I cannot tell you. I invite you to enjoy one of my favorite pop novelty songs of all time, and I deeply thank whatever late-thirties dude was the soloist on both this and “Simpleton” for the Kingsmen, because I have a VHS tape of this concert somewhere, and I watched him sing it many, many times back in the day.

And now I really have to do some work.

On Tuesday, Consumerist ran a piece, under the tag “STUPID,” called, “Man Jailed After Forgetting Case Of Soda Underneath Shopping Cart.” The post described how poor Tom Sturgis was asked for his receipt on his way out of the grocery store, as he pushed a cart full of groceries with, as he described it, a four-dollar case of soda under the cart. When his receipt failed to show that he paid for the pop, he was arrested.

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(Let’s just open with the fact that referring to things as “records” is still the only way to go. A CD is a physical object; a record is a record. Don’t correct me, Miley Cyrus.)

I had to run an errand over in Park Slope today, and that’s about a half-hour walk for me, which fortunately came on the First Warm Day. It’s not really the first warm day; it’s been warming up for a while. But this was the official First Warm Day in my mind, because it was the first day that I went outside and thought…spring. This means only one thing: the launch of the First Warm Day Collection on my MP3 player. (I do not use an iPod, because I had two, and they both failed within a couple of months of purchase, while my Creative Zen Vision has already lasted a couple of years with no problems.) In no particular order, the First Warm Day Collection.

The New Pornographers, Mass Romantic. There are people who take the position that this is the most perfect pop record ever made, and I’m not sure I’d disagree. Everything about it, beginning with the fact that it actually starts with a guy yelling, “ONE! TWO! ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR!”, is defiantly joyful and perfect for spring. If the hooks in “Letter From An Occupant” don’t make you feel good, I suggest antidepressants, because something has gone horribly wrong. (Special Bonus: While looking for a good source to demonstrate the awesomeness of the band by pointing out that there’s more to the wonderful “The Bleeding Heart Show” — not on this record — than what’s been given to you by the marketing department at the University of Phoenix, I came across this fan video, which is awesome in the way some fan videos are awesome, in that it’s so sincere and contains such spectacularly literal matchings of footage to lyrics. See, the lyrics, “It looked as if I picked your name out of a hat,” and Pam picks Jim’s picture out of the teapot! Squee!)

Marshall Crenshaw, Marshall Crenshaw. Okay, perhaps you are one of those unlucky people who only knows Marshall Crenshaw from “Someday, Someway,” which — don’t misunderstand me — is an absolutely spectacular pop song. But it is a sin and a crime that this guy never quite popped as a huge star. He wrote a whole string of stuff that’s infectious and inventive and just crazily catchy, including “Whenever You’re On My Mind,” in which the way the guy is smashing the hell out of the drums elevates a ditty to a sort of soaring manifesto, and “There She Goes Again,” which is a perfectly formed confection that people spend their entire careers wishing they could write. Crenshaw was a guy who had a really good handle on his own appeal, and the Rhino reissue of this album includes a bare-bones cover of Buddy Holly’s “Rave On” that makes a perfect pairing with “The Usual Thing,” which certainly could be a Buddy Holly song, but isn’t.

Semisonic, Feeling Strangely Fine. This was a hard choice. This is a great warm-weather band — ironic, because: Minnesota — but I was torn between this and All About Chemistry, which I also like a lot. Feeling Strangely Fine is cursed with the fact that it opens with “Closing Time,” which was overplayed to the point of “Unwritten”-like agony, but it also has some great tunes on it, including mix-tape tribute “Singing In My Sleep” and “This Will Be My Year,” which is not summer music, exactly, but it’s ambivalent fresh-start music, which is almost as good. All About Chemistry, on the other hand, opens with the band’s single best First Warm Day song (that would be the title song), but after that, it’s pretty contemplative and mellow, so on balance, I went with the other one. You could argue it either way, though.

Fountains Of Wayne, Welcome Interstate Managers. Don’t even try it. Don’t even try being a “Stacy’s Mom” snob, because don’t even try it. As a First Warm Day song? It’s unimpeachable, and it’s not even the best First Warm Day song here. It’s probably “Bright Future In Sales,” but I also have a big soft spot for the almost entirely unknown “Hey Julie,” which doesn’t have the breadth of most of my picks in this category but is marvelously light and funny. My Music Stylist and Jane Wiedlin’s Boyfriend have had near-fistfights about this record, partly because late in the proceedings, it gets kind of flabby, but that’s what’s great about taking walks with your MP3 player — you can stop before you get to that stuff. You could make perfectly good arguments for any Fountains Of Wayne album, honestly — Utopia Parkway has “Red Dragon Tattoo,” after all, and Fountains Of Wayne has “Radiation Vibe” — but again, on balance, this is my pick.

John Wesley Harding, The Confessions Of St. Ace. John Wesley Harding is a really interesting, baffling artist, because the songs are brilliantly written, but they’re often arranged in a sort of corny, ’80s-y way that renders them kind of flat. But this particular record is still very effective, and while you’re most likely to have heard “I’m Wrong About Everything” (which was on the High Fidelity soundtrack), the near-novelty “Goth Girl” and the short but sweet “You In Spite Of Yourself” are where the warm-weather brilliance emerges. In this particular context, Harding’s tendency to sound like ’80s radio doesn’t do any harm.

Ryan Shaw, This Is Ryan Shaw. What a really, really, really good record this is. Fortunately, my favorite thing on it — the Jackie Wilson cover “I’ll Be Satisfied” — was the Song Of The Day, so you can listen to it here. Everything on the record is just as lively and irresistible as this, and I dare you to sit still through the whole thing. As the SOTD essay points out, Ryan Shaw knows what so many American Idol contestants do not — if it’s a great song, you don’t need to rewrite it in order to cover it; you just need to be really, really good.

Honorable Mentions. There were a few songs where I really couldn’t justify picking the album, but the individual song deserves mention. Harvey Danger’s Little By Little is not a First Warm Day Record, because it’s way too depressing on balance, but both “Cream And Bastards Rise” and especially “Happiness Writes White” are contenders. I don’t think Elvis Costello makes summer music, but on the expanded version of Imperial Bedroom, there are two little throwaway-ish numbers — “I Turn Around” and “From Head To Toe” — that should be considered. Stars does more thoughtful music than summer pop, but “What I’m Trying To Say” from 2005’s fabulous Set Yourself On Fire, beginning with the amazing line “You look so good in the clothes of a poser,” will pick you up. (The only YouTube representation of the studio version I was able to find was attached to a Veronica Mars fan video, which: absolutely not.) XTC is a little bit hit-or-miss for me, but any list of perfectly formed pop songs has to include “Mayor Of Simpleton.”

10:05 PM: Thank God, finally. I’m so glad that we were able to survive it together. I don’t want my contempt for this show to detract from the fact that I truly, honestly believe in giving to charities (real ones) that you trust. Donors Choose is a great one, but so are lots of others. Pick something; give something. But that doesn’t change how unbelievably nitwitty this closing number featuring the idols dressed like ice-cream men singing about how they all sing for the Lord, despite the fact that we know nothing about the religious backgrounds of any of them, and I seriously doubt they were polled before this was planned, meaning that they are singing their love for the Lord because they were told to, and isn’t that what gives it all meaning? Good night, everybody.

10:01 PM: HOW IS IT NOT OVER? IT’S NOT OVER! Oh, man. Mariah Carey. Figures. With such a weak-ass show, though, what could possibly have gone long by this much? Did Robin Williams just storm the stage with that Russian thing without being invited? This completely confuses me.

9:56 PM: Daughtry is still as boring to me as he was when he was on the show. Boo!

9:55 PM: DAUGHTRY! This is the closer. The closer is Chris fucking Daughtry. In a show that also included Annie Lennox. Way to go, jerks.

9:50 PM: They have saved Brad Pitt for last! I really, really wish he weren’t wearing that stupid cap. Projects to build housing are pretty cool, though. “He wants to be the first baseball player and lawyer in space” — aw! I think they’re all just really happy about seeing Brad Pitt. Aaaand here he is!

9:49 PM: So: Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider, David Spade. They hit the trifecta of bug.

9:42 PM: I was listening to Robin Williams do this SAME THING in about 1986. Not one new trick since then.

9:40 PM: Oh my God, I would so rather be watching the actual Russian Idol.

9:38 PM: Dear Miley Cyrus: Pardon me if I find your sympathy for the poor somewhat hollow when you could lift them out of poverty by giving them a set of tickets they could scalp.

9:34 PM: Miley Cyrus AGAIN? Do we really need to see the same celebrity twice? Does she have some purposeful stomping she didn’t get done last time? …Apparently so. And really, when you yell “2, 3, 4!” during the only moments when the band isn’t playing, it kind of defeats the purpose.

9:32 PM: Ashley Tisdale is donating her old nose to poor people who don’t have noses.

9:25 PM: Dane Cook barf barf barf barf barf.

9:23 PM: The lesson here is that singing in a stage ensemble like the Rent cast does is harder than it looks, and coming up with that really true, impressive choral sound, even in a pop-style show, is not for sissies. It’s amazing how this song falls apart when nobody can get out of his or her own head long enough to sing in unison. There’s a lot of unison in this song, and it means having humility and learning to blend, which none of these goobers are trained in.

9:21 PM: Reese Witherspoon promotes the Children’s Defense Fund. That’s a good choice of charity, and AT LEAST IT’S SPECIFIC. Unfortunately, Reese does not have the natural touch of an Annie Lennox. She seems very nice, but the thing where you’re comfortable anywhere? She does not have that. I guess because I was raised by teachers, I’m always particularly impressed with programs focused on schools, which is why I commonly give money to Donors Choose. (Love the letter packets! Got one once that said, “Dear Donor: We learned with our computer that you could give a hamster a bath!”)

9:13 PM: Britain donates millions of mosquito nets! Now that needs a “One Shining Moment” video.

9:10 PM: I think they maybe could have chosen someone to introduce a malaria film who would have a slightly easier time conveying seriousness. (Stephen: “Does anyone on Earth have less gravitas than Sarah Silverman?”)

9:07 PM: Sheila E. Wow. And a whole chorus of show choir kids!

9:05 PM: Oh, Gloria Estefan. It’s nice to know somebody still thinks she’s relevant.

8:56 PM: Carrie Underwood. So very much the heart and soul of this show, because she’s so unobjectionable and so brutally generic. And can she walk in that skirt? Is she on top of a cake? God bless her, there’s nothing but melisma from fifteen seconds into the song. I love the way this show equates depth of feeling with number of stringed instruments, incidentally. It makes it much easier to figure out how I’m supposed to be feeling at any given time.

8:52 PM: I always really, really like Simon Cowell when he goes out and does normal stuff. I don’t know if I’m an apologist or what, but I generally think that’s a good guy, and an honest guy, who does what he does well and doesn’t have pretensions about what he does. And indeed, you get him with poor people, and he’s weirdly able to relate especially because he doesn’t pretend this is natural to him; he acts like a visitor, which he is.

8:50 PM: Is Jimmy Kimmel going to sing “I’m Fucking Simon Cowell”? Because that would be awesome.

8:49 AM: Every thought I have about what Celine Dion looks like standing next to underfed children makes me seem like I am made of evil with a dollop of whipped psychosis, so I’m going to keep them to myself.

8:41 PM: Hey, I got my wish! She’s singing!

8:37 PM: Hey, Annie Lennox! Now she’s kind of cool. She is way cooler than Bono. I wish she were singing. I also really love how easy she is with the kids in this segment, picking them up just like a mom — any mom. There’s something about her manner that seems much more genuine and real than most celebrities who go and have their pictures taken standing next to children in Africa. You can totally tell that at some moment, she thought about whether she could adopt those boys. For an instant, anyway, she thought about it; you can tell.

8:34 PM: The Beckhams ask that you donate money for people who “have no world.” Victoria is shocked to know that some people don’t even have ridiculous fur hats.

8:30 PM: Oh, of course it’s “Fix You.” Of course it is. That poor, poor song.

8:28 PM: Damn, it’s the Katrina stuff that always kills me. Damn you, Fox.

8:25 PM: Oh my God, Adam Sandler, stop acting like you’re better than this. You’re not better than ANYTHING.


8:19 PM: I swear to God, there is nothing in the last fifteen years that has done as much for Heart as American Idol. There’s this small collection of people — Heart, Diane Warren, Martina McBride — who are, like, eight times as famous because of American Idol. Heart was famous anyway, but where do you mostly hear actual Heart songs now in the context of existing popular culture? American Idol. And did Fergie really need to butt in? I just listened to her. Heart needs her help, is the theory?

8:16 PM: I feel so bad about the fact that I’m one of those people who can’t forget the pictures of Fergie after she wet her pants onstage. I really admire the way that later, she was like, “I didn’t get to go before I went on; what’s the big deal?” But it is still the first thing I think of every time I see her. I apologize, Betsy Wetsy.

8:08 PM: Wow, they got Bono for their charity project? That must have been tough.

8:07 PM: I kind of like the way Miley Cyrus performs by stomping over to one part of the stage and then turning on her heel and stomping over to another part of the stage. Like, “I will sing some lyrics over HERE! And then over THERE! Have you noticed that my hair is BOUNCY? Because it IS!”

8:04 PM: This bit where Billy Crystal and Miley Cyrus have never heard of each other could not be stupider if they both did it with their tongues hanging out.

8:01 PM: Wow, Billy Crystal looks OLD. And puffy. (Stephen: “Is Billy Crystal morphing into Christopher Walken before our very eyes?”)

7:54 PM: Okay, I’m kind of interested in this Band From TV performance. I’ve heard of it, and I can’t remember who’s in it. I hope they explain it better. GREG GRUNBERG! Oh, Teri Hatcher. I liked you better as Lois Lane. I’m not too excited about the — OH MY GOD, BACHELOR BOB. Is that Dr. Chase on fiddle? How hot! It would be nice if they’d explain who all these people are.

7:50 PM: Paula and Randy! Like it’s the Academy Awards! Hey, at least she’s standing up. And they are visiting poor children. No swimming pools, and lots of gang activity. I like how the carefully stay with the woman who works at the school until she bursts into tears. Don’t miss that part! Hey, at least they all hugged Paula. But this whole thing underscores my fundamental problem with Idol Gives Back: what charity are we giving to?

7:45 PM: Snoop Dogg! Surrounded by small children! I wonder if those children qualify as “bling” for tax purposes. That would make quite an itemized list. “Grill, giant microphone cover, moppets.” Poor Snoop is telling the audience how to clap. Sadly, they need it. I also would think they could have afforded kids who can put their hands in the air and wave them like they just don’t care without hitting each other in the face.

7:43 PM: The only thing I can think of while watching this high-concept “yellow jug” ad is how the ad agency must have been so impressed when they thought of it. It’s a yellow jug!

7:41 PM: I would buy Stiller Whips Whitney’s Ass For Charity.

7:40 PM: Maria Shriver! Mrs. Governor Of California! And Seacrest made it through her intro without doing his Schwarzenegger. But the band did not get through it without playing “Maria” from West Side Story. I guess that pegs the number of songs with “Maria” in their names at one. Maria wants me to be a volunteer. I’m sorry, but does her forehead and brow look kind of…Klingon to anyone else? Forehead too shiny; brow too pronounced. Seriously, her eyes look mean. “We can all be American Idols in someone’s life.” Barf-o-meter: 1.

7:38 PM: I think George Lopez just declared for the presidency.

7:34 PM: There’s a Jimmy Johnson other than the one with fancy plans and pants to match? Oh, wait, that’s Jimmy James. That guy still looks like he might have fancy plans and pants to match. Flame-retardant NASCAR pants. I think I just figured out what I want for Christmas!

7:32 PM: I never thought I’d find anything with less street cred than Step Up 2 The Streets, but I’d say this opening number is right up there. Is there a reason for Idol to be hosting a review of various dance styles? Isn’t this a singing show? It’s like this is an obituary for Dance: 1986-1998. Dear poor and needy people: At least you do not have to watch this. Oh, it’s the So You Think You Can Dance people! That makes sense, and yet it makes no sense.

7:30 PM: The time has come, bitches. And by “bitches,” this time I mean “Ryan Seacrest.”

Starting at 7:30 ET (that’s in half an hour!), watch this space for live and ongoing coverage of Idol Gives Back. I’m not going to lie to you — the reason I’m doing this is that I want to watch it and I will for entertainment value, but I am fairly sure I will be crushingly bored, and struggling to entertain you will keep me awake. I will be following it live, and also probably stealing the best of the annoyed text messages I am likely to receive, because nothing pleases me more than lifting brilliance from my friends.

September 2018
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