Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Dave's Thoughts of the Day plus AGT Recap: July 31st

THIS is the last day of July, promise!

and what a day!   Did you all see "America's Got Talent" last night?  There was a sheer enjoyment watching America's hopefuls unfold while on another screen Mark Ellis singled home Andre Ethier to win the game for the Dodgers over the Yankees.  The whole thing -- BEAUTIFUL!

Let's get into the particulars... oh I know I could recap my dinner last night: Father's Office burger with the lady friend, shoestring fries, North Coast Beer, and garlic aioli better than gold, but this entry we dedicate to AGT.

If you remember my predictions from yesterday, oh wait, I didn't post those.  Let me go Phil Steele on you and recap it all...

Basically, I predicted, BEFORE the show that I'd eliminate these acts before the show even STARTED.  That's how much I either disliked them or didn't think they'd vote for em:  Hat Guy, Those Dopey Little Punk Kids from Staten Island (sorry Staten Island folks, nothing against SI, just these jokers), the guy who kept grossing people out Brad Byers, and Aquanuts (Synchro Swimming)

AND I thought to auto advance the "B-DOUBLE-O-T-Y" group aka Tone the Chiefrocca more on them later.
 Forte was auto advanced in my mind as well.

Even so, despite my predetermined advancement, both of these acts above blew me *away* with their performances.  I mean WOW with an underline!   Forte, first of all, overcame my presumptions about chemistry issues and took *over.*  They sang a ditty from "West Side Story" and just hit a grand slam... I mean THAT would have stolen the show on any other night, but not tonight!

B DOUBLE. O. T. Yyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!!!!!!!!  Watch it and you'll understand.  Tone the Chiefrocca -- one mission -- one hit.   That sounds so ridiculous right?  It is!  Yet, they sell it, oh they SELL it baby.

It seemed like even as much as I loved that group, they could not possibly do the exact same song and improve upon it.  Boy was I wrong!  End of the show, they run the highlight package... even show them doing their "one music video"  (I laughed so hard at this folks, I was in tears seeing them go after this idea so much that they did a video), then they went on stage.  Major effects, props, a whole team of backup dancers, full production values even Nelly would be jealous of, the entire production was siiiiiiiiick.   These guys dotted their "i's" and crossed their "t's."   Every part of that performance was brilliant.   Brought the HOUSE down.

To summarize, the last two acts described were easily the highlights of the night and frankly the highlights of BOTH weeks so far.  Last week was very underwhelming... I'm glad I could count on this week's acts to give AGT a boost.

Now to summarize the rest.  We knew Forte and Tone were in... after seeing them NAIL it last night, it's pretty much a done deal.  America, I swear to you, would have to be complete boneheads not to advance these two.  So ten acts to compete for two spots suddenly!   Who advances?

Well, let's return to the question of (Dave's personal) auto eliminations... to avoid this fate you really had to show something, and baby, the Hat guy showed me something.  He still kept dropping his hat, but at least here his mistakes were minimal and his charisma took the crowd by its hand and strolled it along. Hat Guy, Kid the Whiz I think, was *good.*   People are really rooting for him.  That guy was a fun dude to watch.

Other than that, everyone else I auto eliminated pretty much justified their dismissal.  Now we'll get through the rest of the acts in chronological order:

Okay, first of all, to an act I had on the cusp of advancing, Innovative Force.  I was being WAY too generous with these folks.  There was nothing innovative nor forceful with these ladies... look it's nice that they can show some incredible athletic feats, but for goodness sake, nothing about that said "WOW!  I gotta run to the TV!"  As Franceser would say, "Good, not great."  I just wasn't blown away.  I can't advance em, I'm sorry fellas.

Magala was next... holy smokes is this guy riding the edge.  He did a pretty good job but there was a visible stumble in his act.  All the judges gave him a pass, and for good reason.  They revealed that Magala cut himself internally during rehearsal, while swallowing swords, couldn't eat for two days, and was really in bad shape.  But within the week he came to and put together a big show.   The way he stumbled worried us all.  I think people were more concerned with if he was hurt than how he did.   Inspired act for sure, and I'd advance him myself, so that's three spots in Dave's predictions now solidly taken.

I believe the Hawaiian Kid Singer was after that.  She wasn't bad, but it wasn't very memorable either.  I'm afraid she's not going to make it.  One writer said it'd be a joke if she was bounced but Anna Christine wasn't.  Ok ok, one key difference here.  Hawaiian Kid singer at her best wouldn't come CLOSE to Anna Christine at her best... it was clear that Christine made a huge blunder, but she can just as easily overcome that and put in an enormous performance the second time.   This other kid was pretty good, but it seemed like a linear "safe" curve... no breathtaking heights in effect.  and, I hate to say it, but as Coach says "she sang like a kid."  That's not good.  Someone has to be good in their own right to be a serious contender, I think so.   Not just "good *for a kid.*"

There was another guy who swallowed swords but he was more of a gross our act than a showman.  Brad Byers.   All this guy could do was either troll the audience or gross out the judges.  I had to cover my eyes for both of his big stunts.  One was him trying to put his tongue into a fan... damn miracle the tongue didn't bleed to death.  The next stunt was him lying on a bed of nails, then getting some guys to put a speed bump over him AND get his brother to drive an ATV over him.  It was more gross than entertaining.   Especially when you consider that he performed AFTER a similar stuntsman of far better caliber, Byers had no chance.  NO CHANCE.

I can't remember who came after what anymore so let me just run down what comes to mind.

Dave Shirley, the man with the video screen illusion of changing "sides" so to speak.  So he'd dance with the top half and the bottom half would be him dancing and wearing something else.  Very high concept theater, but man the execution as bad.  I mean it was BAD... dancing way out of sync... his positioning would be nearly half a body length off...  imagine the two halves of your TV split and shifted in opposite directions.  Shirely needs some refinement of his act, but I don't think he should give up either.  But HERE... it was a fail.  So he's probably done.

I can't hold my opinions on these punks any longer, let's get to "Struck Boyz."   Can you imagine a bigger brasher more pompous set of hacks this side of Mike Francesa?  Give me a friggin *break.*   They're just little kids so I really shouldn't be this harsh with them but they act like they are the schiz.   I don't even like this behavior with adults so you can bet I'm going to have very little tolerance for that arrogance for 8-12 year olds.  After this act of them patting themselves on the back during their intro package, they go on stage and their choreography is sloppy, their timing is off, and their performance is just a bunch of kids dancing at the neighborhood party.  Look, this is probably mean of me to say, but let's face it, these kids are not National Stage Material.   Hey more power to 'em for having great self confidence, but they're just NOT that good.  It's a nice story... Staten Island's own and all that good jazz, but we have to evaluate the performance itself and I can't see much potential.  Oh, and what were they doing flashing their abs and grabbing their body parts.  These are little kids!!!  LOL...  

My preemptive apology to all the good people of Staten Island.  I suspect Struck Boyz might be neighborhood heroes, but the West Coaster in me has seen many an amateur dance/singing act on Third Street Promenade, and I'm quite ready to see something more.  I wish the Struck Boyz the best in all they do...

All right, NEXT!  Angela Hoover, one of a very few remaining comics on the AGT program.  It's for good reason... so many outlets exist for a Comic to hit the big time -- Comedy Central, Local Clubs, Youtube, HBO, and on and on.   Any comic on a general talent show is going to have to be extraordinary or extremely memorable to put a dent in it.

Hoover is an interesting case... she hits her niche very nicely but it is a pretty limited niche -- female impressions.   She was riffing on Mel B. and Heidi Klum (both of these impressions were pretty hilarious and spot on) but goodness, weren't all of you waiting for her to switch to impressions of Howie and Howard to complete the package?   That's where her narrow niche killed her.  Imagine her re-enacting the entire judges table!  That would have been epic.  Instead she had to quickly change subjects, with no segue even, to a take on Christina Aguilera on "The Voice."

For her simple objectives I thought she hit all her spots.  Not all the acts can be loud and bring the house down.  She was good!  I don't know if it's good enough for her to advance, but she didn't hurt her cause last night.

Now then... Aquanuts.  The judges last night were being as diplomatic as humanly possible in brushing aside what's otherwise a pretty headscratching idea on the show.  Synchronized Swimming on a Talent Show?   It's pretty *good* Synchro but it's still just not grabbing America as they might hope.  The Judges were always quick to point out how well they did what they did... but they pretty much said without saying it that what they DID was not going to bring people running down to Vegas to watch them on stage.

Beyond that, they weren't even on the stage... they did their performance in a pool, naturally.  Let me say something else: Synchronized Swimming is *boring.*  I tried very hard to give it a chance, but the art and potential eroticism, even, of such a sport is defeated by the long amount of time spent stationary in the water.  I know it's REALLY hard to do, especially with a dance style, but it's still very difficult to watch on TV or in person.  It moves too slowly to really appreciate the artistry involved.  Nothing Aquanuts did was bad... it's just that their entire genre is not going to be that captivating.  It never really has been and I'm afraid most of America will end their journey today.

I think I may have told the story once of how I saw a Team USA Synchronized swimmer board my bus to UCLA once early in the morning.  I wasn't sure if it was her, but the backpack said "USA Synchronized Swimming" so I went to their website and lo and behold the face on the team roster was a lot like the face of the woman on the bus!  I was mesmerized.  I saw her one other time on campus but never got the nerve to say hello.  What was I going to talk about anyway?  Synchronized Swimming?  I can't lie and pretend that I found interest in it.  Ergo my conversation was defeated.  The best I could have done was congratulate her for representing our country.  Very odd situation but I digress.  We continue...

Kid the Whiz dazzled the crowd, but he did drop the hat at least once.  I don't think it was intentional.   With that said, he brought way more to the table than I remembered.  Kid can dance too!  Good spirit, good heart, he has a chance...

Oh man... biggest bomb of the night had to be Marty Brown.   There was an ominous line I used in my email preview of AGT which I sent to my buddies:

" face value, this guy's pretty good BUT we gotta see if he can handle New York.  Stay tuned."

And, GOOD LORD, the answer was a resounding NO.  What an unfortunate performance last night.  His voice cracked 3 to 5 times... he was missing notes left and right, and it was clear he tensed up.   The stage ate him for lunch... poor Marty.

Then to compound it, Mel B had a senior moment and kept calling him "Dave" while criticizing his performance.  Dave???

Marty was so bad that I didn't even think to advance him.  By that logic, I think Kid the Whiz just made it into my top four!

So, to summarize, some spectacular performances, a few pretty good ones, and a number of out and out bombs last night.  From all of that here are my predictions for who advances.

1. Tone the Chiefrocca... easy one to call.   I'll be shocked if they don't advance.   I mean you saw how they took down Radio City.   The voters are sure to respond accordingly no?
2. Forte... even if they did just a halfway good performance I was putting them in.  Ladies love their opera singers!   Thankfully they destroyed it with their song.  It was FAN-tastic.
3. Kid the Whiz... he made it!   Not a perfect performance, but his charisma is winning a lot of people over.
4. Alexandr Magala... captivating, scintillating, plain thrilling.   Wasn't his best performance last night... might even have been his worst in terms of execution, but he is full of ideas and he knows just what will up the ante.

Tonight, we'll see how America picks the winners.  Good luck to all.

This entry took over an hour to write... there won't be time for quickies, but will express great interest in drinking alcoholic apple cider someday soon.

Can you ferment apples in the same way grapes are fermented?  What does that make in that case?  Apple Wine?

What was popcorn named before people decided to pop it with heat?  Just "corn?"

I miss peaches, but I don't miss them enough to pay twice the price.

This feels like an excellent week to get a pastrami sandwich.  Stay tuned.

That's all from here!  Have a good Wednesday everyone.

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