always amazing

Prior: I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.
Hannah: Well that's a stupid thing to do.



We respect directors in our country...

Some catch-up from the last two months!
  • I saw Bat for Lashes at the 9:30 Club last month. Her voice is incredible, and it sounds better live. Good show, BfL. Thank you.
  • I may have gotten around to Inglorious Basterds three weeks late, but I went to see it twice within a week. Both times with my Mom, oddly enough. I'm fairly certain I speak for us both when I say: "HOLY SHIT! What a great movie! Jumpin Jiminey Jillickers!" But we would agree to say that last part like Swedes, pronouncing the J's like Y's, but then when the time comes, she would totally stop short, and I would start saying it by myself, like a total idiot. My Mom hates me. [By the way, everything you've heard about Christoph Waltz is true...the Oscar is in the bag.]
  • My favorite Emmy win this year wasn't presented during the broadcast ceremony. My pick for most deserving Emmy winners are the editors of This American Life. The episode they won for, titled "John Smith", is an all around fantastic hour of television, and its emotional charge is most often provided by its editing. I love that the award actually seems to have been awarded on specific merit, rather than familiarity with the show's title.
  • The Netflix instant queue must be revolutionizing the way mediocre to shitty movies are distributed. However, I also have it to thank for reminding me how awesome Slap Shot is...so it's a mixed bag.
  • How did I have no clue that Neil LaBute wrote and directed Lakeview Terrace? The movie, like Sam J's character, is absolutely batshit insane. I kinda loved it right up until the end. Some might dismiss Jackson's work as his typical histrionics, but I think he was doing something really special. Instead of playing a likeable, shit-talking badass, he's inhabiting the skin of a rageaholic, pibolar racist. His on-screen persona works to his advantage, amping up the tension of every scene. Overall, better movie than I thought, but not a must-see unless you're into bizarre race, culture and class conflict stories.
Well, that's that.


80's comic books are hilarious

I know I just posted about comics earlier today, but this old issue of Iron Man that I'm reading has some more gems that I simply must share with the world.

I'm not crazy; the author is implying that Merlin's gay, right? I mean, he "fetches" his less flamboyant attire: a suit covered in futuristic rhinestones, complete with matching fez. I don't think it's possible to misread this.

Doctor Doom? More like Doctor Diva! (high hat) Thank you!

I just love the look of impotent rage that forms on his metal face. This issue alone has like 30 classic Doctor Doom moments.

More impotent metal rage. Iron Man is about to be the shit out of this dude for providing such awful customer service.

I love how in the 80's, everyone thought the future would look just like it did in California, circa 1984, but with hover cars and jetpacks. Plus, everyone complained about malls constantly. What's with that?


A really long post about comics

Recently, I've found myself reading a lot of comics - specifically, Marvel Comics, both old and new. I'm not sure why it is that I love Marvel as much as I do. There are plenty of reasons to give up on them: Their stories are generally less literate and fascinating than DC's, they constantly spoil major upcoming developments in their comics, they keep giving Jeph Loeb titles in the Ultimate Comics line, and so on.

Even with all that, Marvel still has my loyalty because I can't turn away from the X-Men. They will keep me coming back.

It helps that, for the most part, I really like what's going on in the X titles at the moment. Astonishing and Uncanny are both somewhat underwhelming and slow, but the newest volumes of X-Factor, New Mutants, and especially X-Force are more than enough to please me.

It's funny, all three of these titles are in their third iterations, but their worst issues are more fresh and exciting than the three main books (Uncanny, Astonishing, and Legacy) have been since Messiah CompleX last year. [To be fair, New Mutants has only been around for four issues, but that may just further prove my point.]
Out of these titles, the new X-Factor has the most diverse cast and promising concept. The book focuses on Multiple Man/Jamie Madrox, as he runs X-Factor Investigations, a mutant detective agency that employs a whole bunch of kick-ass characters who aren't on any major X-Teams.

The three X-Factor titles over the years have all been very different, but they're practical purpose was basically the same: to give the secondary mutant characters something to do. However, unlike the first two books, this version of X-Factor never feels like a knock-off of the classic X-Men; this can be attributed directly to the cast of characters, and their chemistry together. [To be fair, the first version of the team was literally the classic X-Men line-up, so they couldn't help it.]

From its first issue, this title has had a growing cast of B-List awesomeness, effectively saving some great mutants from the dreaded Comic Book Limbo - a place characters go when they are not being used a background filler in Uncanny. In its run so far, the cast has been a virtual who's-who of mutants that used to be important: 90's X-Factor members Strong Guy & Wolfsbane (who is currently a member of the new X-Force); 90's X-Force members Siryn, Shatterstar, and Rictor (the latter two shared a man-on-man kiss recently...very un-90s); as well as the mullet-sporting 80's castaway Longshot, who I'm certain no other writer would go near with a ten-foot pole.

Peter David (the book's creator and writer) has proven that he can make any character work, and has even gone out of his way to include problematic characters from one-shot stories like the unkillable, ever-adapting Darwin (a strange invention from the continuity-obliterating Deadly Genesis storyline) and the creepy, precocious Layla Miller (who was invented as a thin plot device for House of M, basically). The usefulness of both these characters had seemingly been spent, but David has given them new purpose and life. Thanks to their team chemistry this motley bunch of has-been mutants has really blown away almost every other X-title.

With all this high praise, I still haven't mentioned my favorite inclusion on the team roster: the ridiculously overpowered M/Monet St. Croix. I've loved her ever since her days on the woefully under-appreciated Generation X. Now, if Peter David could rescue her fellow Gen-Xers Husk, Penance, and Skin from CBL, I'd just pee myself with joy. Now that I think about it, GenX supervillian Emplate (who also happens to be M's older brother) was just reintroduced in the pages of Legacy, so maybe we're in the middle of a Generation X revival. I can hope...

While I haven't read the whole series, I highly recommend X-Factor to all mutant lovers. Especially those who lost faith in the X-Books and have not returned. It's a good way to learn to love Marvel's Mightiest Mutants again.
In the history of secondary X-Teams, the new incarnation of X-Force is a very special case. You see, this team actually has a specific mission, and there is a larger purpose for their continued existence; they're not just an edgier version of the X-Men with slightly different surroundings.

The original X-Force debuted in 1991, and was essentially a collection of every awful comic book trend of the early 90s. Big guns? Check. Ludicrously gigantic upper bodies on every dude? Check. Insensitive racial stereotypes that the writer intended to be progressive? Check. Zero practicality to a single character's costume? Check. Big mysterious stranger from the future with random metal body parts ? Check.

The set-up was simple: The time-traveling cyborg soldier Cable takes over the leadership of a young team of mutants, partially composed of former New Mutants. The book was meant to appeal to a younger audience who had not grown up with the X-Men or New Mutants. It was basically a carbon copy of the main team with a different, angrier cast. It was successful for a while, but it had already run out of steam by the time Age of Apocalypse rolled around, and was put to rest soon after. [BTW, AoA, for my money, is still the best comic book crossover of all time.]

I don't see the latest team running out of steam anytime soon.

The new X-Force first appeared during the Messiah CompleX crossover, which would lead into their current series. Unlike the first X-Force, the current team is a deadly squad of X-Men assembled covertly by Cyclops. Their mission? To hunt down and kill anybody that he asks them to.

Totally bad ass premise, am I right?

Like X-Factor, this version of X-Force has a dynamite, and diverse, cast of characters. While Cyclops ultimately calls the shots, Wolverine is the team's field leader. This is an interesting dynamic, because, believe it or not, Wolverine has never actually led a team of mutants before. This new position of responsibility provides room for Logan, one of the X-Verse's most familiar faces, to actually develop and grow - something he hasn't done since the whole "bone claw" era. In addition to Wolverine, the team is currently made-up of Warpath, X23, Wolfsbane, Angel/Archangel, Elixir, Domino, and the petty criminal/teleporter Vanisher (against his will). Notice that, with the exception of Angel, there isn't a single big-name X-Man on the team. Instead of a team full of unrelated famous faces, X-Force acts as a cohesive unit, with each member contributing vitally to almost every mission.

Similar to Peter David's willingness to adopt underused or problematic characters, X-Force's writers, Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost, seem to always be on the lookout for characters to revive or enchance. [But we don't even have to focus solely on their current title to see how good they are with developing unknown character properties; their last X-Book, the underrated New X-Men, introduced more successful and popular new characters than the team has had in about a decade.]
Now, let's talk about some classics!

This year, I finally got around to reading the original Secret Wars crossover from the 80's, which introduced me to one of my favorite non-X-Men Marvel characters of all time: MOLECULE MAN! (pictured above) I love the idea that this little shrimpy guy could destroy the universe if he had any perception of his true power; but instead, he just keeps using his powers clumsily, and accidentally putting the fabric of the universe at risk. Molecule Man is awesome because he's got all this destructive potential, but all he really wants is a simple life with a family. One of Marvel's great reluctant villains. (Incidentally the big double-M seems set to make a major comeback in Marvel's upcoming Siege storyline. I'm psyched.)

Besides introducing me to the overwhelming awesomeness of Molecule Man, Secret Wars taught me another important lesson: The X-Men used to kind of be assholes to everybody else in the Marvel Universe. In fact, their anti-social behavior is one of the major plot points of the entire story. When the big ol' team of heroes needs to band together, the X-Men basically get super cliquey and form a third group, seperate from either the heroes or the villians. I guess mutants were more naturally agressive and seperatist back in the day. These days, the X-Men are a lot more integrated into the regular world...oh wait, no, they just formed their own nation on a floating fort in the middle of San Fran Bay.

[Small gripe about Nation X for a second: I don't even think they're in international waters. Seriously...how is an artificial island less than two miles offshore a seperate country?]

So, continuing my old timey Marvel Comics catchup, I just downloaded the entire Acts of Vengeance crossover [a whopping 68 issues long!] also from the 80s (Marvel has always been about the big Events, it ain't a recent development).

The first issue of the storyline is Iron Man #250, in which Iron Man and Doctor Doom are thrust into the future to do something or other. The reason I mention this, is because I think I have discovered my favorite comic book panel of all time. Witness its glory:
I love the narrator's confirmation of their situation at the bottom there. Truly hilarious.

I'm gonna wrap up before this gets any longer.


PS: Read X-Force & X-Factor, please!


a confession

This picture has nothing to do with anything, but I find it funny. So there.

On to the topic at hand...my confession!

Mind if I tell you something?

I don't really care that Michael Jackson is dead.

If anything, I am glad the man is finally out of his misery, and that his musical legacy will survive long beyond the courtroom horseshit. [I'm a firm believer that a man found innocent of a crime deserves some benefit of the doubt. ]

But seriously. Don't fucking care.

Most of the time, I'm up for a media frenzy, but this one got old real fast.

(For the record, Achewood had my favorite Jackson obit.)



We're gonna give him a best friend hug

You know what pisses me off?

Well I'm gonna tell you.

The fact that more than one review of The Hangover begins with 'Todd Phillips does not produce art and is not an artist.' Can we give that shit up? Anybody who makes me belly laugh for two hours straight is an artist. Comedy, especially funny comedy (I'm looking at you, Year One), is a difficult thing to pull off. It's a tightrope act with no net or audience empathy.

Another modern american master of comedy [David Wain] once said that directing is 75% casting, and if so, Todd Phillips is one of the best directors working in the US at the moment.

PERFECT casting. Flawless performances, occasionally even inspired. Ebert compared Zach Galifianakis' performance to Belushi's Animal House breakout. I couldn't agree more; the man was on fire when they filmed this shit.

The Hangover: B+




No need to worry, I have returned safely from a field in Manchester, Tennessee, better known as Bonnaroo 2009.

My favorite act of the weekend was David Byrne's Friday evening set. "Heaven" was just too good.

Byrne's curated stage was pretty fantastic too: The Dirty Projectors and St. Vincent just tore shit up. Byrne even joined the Projectors for the last song of their set.

Erykah Badu, Phish, Springsteen, Girl Talk, and Paul Oakenfold were all pretty spectacular as well.



Catching up ain't hard to do

In recent days, I have been mucho busy. But that doesn't mean I have been ignoring the pop culture landscape. Some thoughts...

Pixar's latest is as funny as Finding Nemo, with the emotional heft of Monsters Inc. or Wall-E. Carl Fredrickson is one of their greatest triumphs as a company; a fully-realized human being, chock full of pathos and humor, just like the real thing. Highly recommended.

Bat for Lashes - Two Suns
Just stunning. I think I'm in love. "Daniel" is so perfect, it sounds like it should have already been made. You know what I mean?

This season, the scope of the show's mythology just expanded beyond anything I could have predicted. When all is said and done, LOST will be remembered as one of the greatest narratives to have ever graced the small screen. I'm sure of it.
By the way, if Josh Holloway and Elizabeth Mitchell (Sawyer & Juliet) don't get emmy noms this year, I'm gonna scream. Thanks to Holloway, Sawyer has become perhaps the greatest character on the show; this time last year, I'm not sure I would have had him in the top ten.

Tim & Eric: Awesome Show, Great Job!
I have recently come to the conclusion that these guys (specifically, this show) are the true heirs to the Monty Python crown of absurdist, occasionally upsetting sketch comedy. Season 2 is pretty much perfect, and I have the DVD to prove it.

Just to give you an idea of what I'm talking about, here's morbidly obese Carol and her abusive boss. Enjoy:



ahh freedom

"Some 400 million Indians, 60 percent of all the eligible voters, had cast their ballots in the biggest electoral exercise in the history of the democratic world. Six million officials and security personnel had protected the voters and close to one-and-a-half million electronic voting machines were used in the exercise."

Wow. I tell ya, India should be focused on more positively in america. They are the largest, most hopeful democracy in the world. That's important.



Seriously dudes?

You know that golf announcer who thinks American soldiers would murder Nancy Pelosi before touching Osama Bin Laden?

Not shockingly, CBS has declared it an "unacceptable attempt at humor." I love the added burn of calling it an "attempt."

How come all the disgruntled "comedians" like this douche and Glen Beck are invariably recovering alcoholics? One sign of alcoholism is allowing your actions to become socially unacceptable or extreme; you think they'd be more aware of the damaging nature of indulging irrational behaviors and feelings.


Thinking about all this already, I ran into the single most obvious egregious of Obama Derangement Syndrome yet, a guy who accuses Obama of using his Iron Fist Socialist Inexperience to force Paramount Pictures into...sending over a copy of Star Trek. Yeah, I know. Nevermind the fact that Presidents have screened films in the White House ever since Birth of a Nation.

Just what is this guy getting at? Does he seriously think that Obama wanting to see Star Trek, or the press reporting on the fact, is a problem? What, precisely, is his point? Cuz I didn't see one in the article.

Lordy, these people are loons.


*(I'm not holding double standards, Bush Derangement Syndrome was a very real thing. I know this.)


I don't...I can't remember. I'm sorry

Last night's Fringe really delivered. Not only did we get to see Michael Cerveris' ominous Observer again, but we got a cameo from Clint Howard, as well as the very satisfying death of the show's most irritating character.

What I love about Fringe is how many allusions it contains within one episode. The show assembles very familiar imagery and icons of sci-fi, then constructs a new, rich fiction from not just its plot, but also the audience's recognition of its allusions. Pop culture allusion is the show's bread and butter. For instance the Observer is obviously a shout-out to the bald, mostly silent Watcher of Marvel Comics, but his presence, meaning, and origin within Fringe's universe are entirely new, and founded within the show's own mythology.

Not convinced?

For a better example, last week's episode "Inner Child" referenced E.T. and 2001 very directly within the same scene to great effect. The E.T. reference arrives as Olivia uses Skittles to bond with the subterranean child, recalling E.T. and Eliot's shared love of Reeses Pieces. Twice during the episode when characters are having conversations behind glass, the child seems to understand them, much like HAL silently observed the plan to destroy him in 2001.

The purpose of these allusions was not just to provoke "oh look at that" moments of recognition; by referencing cinema's most iconic benevolent alien and villianous technology, the show poses a question to the viewer: Is this child a misunderstood being capable of love, like E.T., or is he a sign of the dangerous future that awaits our characters, echoing HAL's inhumane pursuit of progress. By recalling these two iconic film characters, the show can convey this dynamic without relying on dialogue or exposition.

You don't have to get the show's references to understand the story (it is rather self-contained), but recognizing these allusions enriches the story through the secondary narrative of the show's engagement with the iconography of the sci-fi pop culture world.

Smart TV is good, no? I'm pumped to hear that it shall be returning in the fall for a full season.


John Noble's performance as Walter Bishop has become so moving. His navigation of the character's broken and haunted psyche has layers of depth that are just beginning to reveal themselves. The scene in the diner with Olivia last night was heartbreaking.

I'm beginning to think that John Locke is going to be trouble.

These are screen caps of my favorite moment on LOST last night. As I have suspected since "The Man Behind the Curtain", Ben's connection with Jacob is an outright lie, a lie that Locke has seen though from the beginning.

Ben's face in the first picture is in reaction to this accusation, and Locke's is in reaction to his reaction. He knows that he just pulled the rug right out from under Ben's entire scheme.

"Follow the Leader" will go down with most fans as one of the best episodes in the show's history, guaranteed.

There was no gigantic twist, no huge reveal, but over the course of the episode, our long-standing assumptions about many characters, and about the show itself, were completely subverted or confirmed, depending on your viewpoint.

Now we know that Richard isn't a benevolent spirit, secretly working for Locke's benefit. He is is master manipulator who is less all-knowing than he seems. I guess we know where Ben got his leadership style.

This episode also made it clear that one must read LOST's second-half narrative as a bizarre mirror image of the show's first three seasons.


"[Obama's] just got a great smile."

This article is the perfect eample of why Obama's personality is his greatest political asset.

If Coburn, a die-hard right-winger, was "charmed" by Senator Obama on a personal level, how can the Right hope to demonize him on a national level?

The answer: they can't.



this is all an illusion

God damn. Mulholland Drive. Jesus. So good.

This was my 4th or 5th time round, and definitely the best yet.

I would be more than okay with this as the consensus Best O' Decade pick...but then again, In the Mood for Love is pretty good...plus Crouching Tiger...



To die would be an awfully big adventure

I was just discussing my deep-seated love of Peter Pan with one of my roommates, and the conversation ended up centering on PJ Hogan's 2003 film adaptation, of which I am a huge fan.
To me, Hogan's film is the single most thoughtful onscreen treatment of the Peter Pan mythology; it strays from the book in a few instances, but always in service of the story's fundamental purpose. It portrays Captain Hook and Peter as equally tragic figures, whose rivalry is more metaphorical than personal; Captain Hook is the embodiment of everything Peter fears about adulthood (cynicism, pettiness, and failed dreams) while Peter is a reminder of Captain Hook's lost innocence and joy. In the film, neither one is fully capable of love, but while Peter shuns the notion of deep love, Hook secretly longs for the simple comforts of family life. The film treats the source material with respect, accentuating the bittersweet nature of Peter's eternal youth while adding a complicated and engrossing level of nuance to the character of Captain Hook.
I'm done rambling. Sorry 'bout that. Go rent the film.


You don’t touch Sheldon! Do you want him to explode?

The A.V. Club interview with Jim Parsons is a fantastic read. Parsons plays uber nerd Sheldon on CBS' pleasantly surprising, often very funny Big Bang Theory. His character is the show's Kramer/Barney/Kenneth* breakout, and this is largely due to the deftly comedic performance from Parsons, who never stoops to rudiculing Sheldon's deep-seated social ackwardness. The interview is illuminating; I would love it if more sitcom actors put Parson's level of empathy for Sheldon into their performances, it adds dimension nicely.


* from Seinfeld, How I Met Your Mother, and 30 Rock, respectively.


The GOP...alienating americans one at a time for the sake of the country

Politically, this decade has been an eventful one, and today, with Specter's big switch, its final months just got a lot more interesting. What began as the decade of "compassionate conservatism" has become the decade of GOP civil war, pitting hardcore social conservatives against more moderate factions of the party in a battle to the death...or something less dramatic.

Let's look at how this 10-year-long debacle began, shall we?

In the 90's, Bill Clinton oversaw the final years of the Boomer-dominated Democratic Party. His reluctance to take strong stances on social issues may have been justified (after all, his early push for the rights of gays in the military did not go too well), but it is a quality that Obama, as well as younger Democratic voters, does not share. With the Lewinsky scandal firmly in the past, Clinton's presidential legacy flourished during Bush's tenure in the White House; "Come Back Bill, All is Forgiven" was a popular bumper sticker slogan during Bush's first term.

But Clinton's presidency was not always so highly regarded; his reign in D.C. was marked by fierce Congressional opposition as well as virulent hostility from the FreeRepublic crowd. Ultimately, the Clinton years did little to cement Democratic influence in Washington, while Newt Gingrich managed to hold more sway than almost every other Speaker of the House before him. So, the decade that began with a pushback against the conservative culture wars of the 1980s ended with weariness and apathy dominating Democratic voters. However, Clinton's presidency strengthened the Democratic party in the long run, solidifying the support of younger voters, as well as de-emphasizing the politically correct, overly cautious elements of the party.

In a similar way, Bush & Cheney may have overseen the final years of the American Right as we know it. Many writers are speculating about a "permanent Democratic majority" the same way Rove spoke about Republican dominance in 2004; but this is as logically unsound an idea as it was when Karl said it in 2004. No party is immune to backlash, and the newly dynamic Democratic party only emerged after eight long, frustrating years of political defeats. That's why I'm convinced that it is impossible to judge the future of the GOP by its complete self-destruction during the 2008 campaign. While Republicans currently lack an effective platform, I'm certain that Obama will provide them with enough fodder to energize their base, and world events always lend themselves to party talking points come election time.

So, the future of the GOP may be uncertain, but I think this whole "death of conservatism" phenomenon is being taken a little too literally. What has happened is the complete erasure of the big tent Republican Party of the 1960s, replaced with a body of voters who value idealogical agreement over practical governance and political pragmatism. Essentially, they have become the Democratic party of the 1980s.

One thing Specter's change of heart indicates is that the battle lines between the parties have been permanently redrawn. For the first time since Ronald Reagan, Republicans have found themselves fighting for the trust of the American public, and losing.

By my reckoning, as well as Megan McCain's, the recent dominance of the Democratic Party is largely due to the Republican refusal to modernize their platform along with changing social norms. The gay marriage issue will provoke legit conservative outrage for another decade, but the younger generations' attitudes to homosexuality are completely out-of-step with the Republican position; as reformed neocon Andrew Sullivan* points out, framing the gay community as godless enemies will only serve to alienate future voters.

The GOP love them some sour grapes, so the reaction to Specter's abandonment has been pretty predictable: Michelle Malkin called him the "head of the Turncoat caucus," and Rush asked him to take Megan McCain with him when he goes. However, Olympia Snowe (another member of Malkin's "Turncoat caucus," I'm sure) hit the nail on the head when she attributed Specter's switch to the "exclusionary policies and views towards moderate Republicans" within the GOP. Snowe may not follow Specter's lead by switching, but she is voicing a very practical argument that a Democrat could not make so effectively.

Of course, many will call both Specter and Snowe RINOs (Republicans in Name Only), and maybe they're correct; but if they don't fit the definition of a Republican, it's because Bush's presidency forever changed the party's identity and purpose.


*I'm just playin'! Mr. Sullivan has more than made up for the mistakes of his past. He's a-ok in my book.


Sarkozy's a real sonovabitch, ain't he?

I wonder if it's the fact that France is basically the sidekick of every other major Western power that makes him so snipey.


PS: Truthfully, I love this guy...he's the good kind of sonovabitch.


I had a dream the media would be so different from this hellish echo chamber

It may not be the American media this time, but, as always, you can count on the press to completely miss the point of a massive cultural phenomenon.

I'm referring to the coverage of Susan Boyle's recent performance on Britain's Got Talent. If you are unfamiliar with the show, it's essentially a variety/reality show competition, a la the [insert country here] Idol formula. The last big story to emerge from the show was the surprise success of Paul Potts, an unassuming cellphone salesman who happened to sing opera masterfully. His audition performance (and Ms. Boyle's, for that matter) is probably one of the greatest moments reality television has to offer, and he has since become an international superstar. The #1 album in 15 countries kind of superstar.

Ms. Boyle is a similar figure: she is forty-seven, unmarried, and spent all her life in the same village in Scotland; in other words, she doesn't possess any typical "showbiz" qualities. In fact, when she walks on stage, the audience (as well as the judges) are prepared to laugh her right back off of it. But then, within the first few bars of "I Dreamed a Dream" (one of my favorite B-Way ballads, by the way), a strange thing happened: the audience started clapping wildly and cheering her on with a standing ovation.

Throughout her performance, the show would cut to Simon Cowell's uncharacteristically bemused face, just to make its point even clearer: Cynical snarkiness has been the only thing keeping this beautiful voice silent, and the notion that this cynicism is synonymous with wisdom or taste is a false one.

Before she sang, Ms. Boyle told Simon that the only reason she hadn't sung professionally was that she "never had the chance." From what I can tell, if most people had their way, Susan would have never been given the opportunity. When she confessed that her dream was to be a singer like Elaine Page, the audience's reaction (both in theater, and, assumedly, at home) was one of derision, based solely on her appearance and manner.

Ms. Boyle is an ordinary person, no uglier or frumpier than most women her age, but since her television debut, writers have dubbed her, among other things, a "hairy angel...dowdy, with thick eyebrows."

This rubs me entirely the wrong way. How is it that the media can only celebrate a woman's inner beauty by pointing out her physical imperfections? I understand that these writers need to set the stage for the "surprising" nature of her performance, but come on people, cruel words are still cruel words.

Luckily for her, Ms. Boyle's life has prepared her for cruelty (I don't want to go too far into her backstory, but she suffers from a learning disability and has been teased about her appearance since she was a child); she can probably take all these articles on the chin without batting her eye. But that doesn't mean she should be given nothing but back-handed compliments from writers claiming to be so personally moved by her voice.

Let me put it more succinctly: If you are write an article about how Ms. Boyle proves the worthlessness of image-based expectations, try not to call her fat and ugly in your first sentence. That sort of defeats the purpose.


PS: This lady gets it. Good on her.