Vast 'Idol' Conspiracy ... Grrr!

Another scandal on "American Idol."

Diva singer and judge favorite La Toya London (search) didn't get enough votes to stay with the competition last week, and the judges are once again upset with America.

Oh well.

Look, when it comes right down to it, London was too good for "American Idol," and I don't mean that as a slight to the show. I mean that as a slight to London. She is as talented as Whitney Houston. She's got a voice to die for. She's already got star quality. Which begs the question ...

What the hell was she doing on "American Idol" in the first place?

While "American Idol" is a singing competition, Americans are always going to vote for the people they like the most, and America loves underdogs. Enter Fantasia, Diana and Jasmine. Each of them — while maybe not as polished or as good as La Toya — is a Cinderella story. That's not to say we didn't like La Toya, but I'd bet a lot of us were suspect from the start. At least I was. What is a woman that talented doing singing in a wedding band? I won't deny her talent, but I will question her ambition.

With a voice like that, I would hope that with a little effort, Ms. London could have secured a recording contract on her own — like most professionals do — without having to wait in line for five days to audition for "American Idol."

Just a Little Off the Top ... Grrr!

What's the difference between a good haircut and a bad haircut? About two weeks.

You ever go into the barbershop or beauty salon and know exactly what you want, only to have your hair butchered beyond anything resembling, well, you? I Grrr! beauticians who think they know what's best for their clients more than their clients do.

Of course, there are those who walk into a beauty salon and surrender themselves freely to the whims of their stylist. That's fine for those people. I, for one, go into my barbershop and like to tell them exactly what I want — high and tight, and not too much off the front. Inevitably I get some scissor-happy barber who is hell-bent on making me look like John Candy in "Stripes," and it ruins at least two days for me. Eventually I start to get used to the new look, and by the time I like it, well, it's exactly what I would have liked to walk out of the barbershop looking like — two weeks ago.

Hypocrites in Hollywood ... Grrr!

Famously liberal actors who Grrr! on the Bush administration and particularly the war in Iraq will probably not have any problem playing war heroes a few years from now. Gregory Peck, for instance, didn't turn down the role of Gen. Douglas MacArthur in the 1977 film "MacArthur," even though he was staunchly against the general's politics.

Actors might argue that just because they don't agree politically with someone doesn't mean they wouldn't portray them in a film. But I can't believe one could be so subjective in real life and completely objective in make-believe.

I rented the 2002 movie "High Crimes" (search) the other night, which stars the beautiful Ashley Judd and was directed by Carl Franklin ("One True Thing"). The movie is about a former Marine (Jim Caveziel) who is accused of crimes against humanity while serving in Latin America.

One scene in particular made me go Grrr!

Ashley Judd, who plays the accused Marine's wife and a defense attorney, enters a barracks where young men and women are performing routine drills, like jogging and doing jumping jacks.  The images turned to slow motion and ominous music began to play throughout, giving the impression of evil and darkness. Quick cuts to extreme closeups of Judd's terrified eyes added to the grimness of the scene. What makes me angry is how Hollywood uses subtle techniques like that to show its bias against the very people who give them the freedom to do so.

But present an actor with a potentially Oscar-winning role about a heroic Marine, and they'll be threatening their agents with termination if the role goes to a rival actor.

Is There an Editor in the House? ... Grrr!

Celebrity authors have a clear disadvantage over non-celebs who manage to land book-publishing deals and that is: They don't get editors.

It must be true, which would explain why people like Rudy Giuliani ("Leadership), Hillary Clinton ("Living History") and Jack Welch ("Straight From The Gut") write books chock-full of names and events that most readers could give a rat's behind about. The authors will say they need to include those anonymous peeps in their memoirs to give credit where it's due, but an editor should be brave enough to tell them that while it may be important to them, it doesn't make for a good read. In fact, it's boring.

Which makes me dread the upcoming 700-plus pages of tome written by former President Bill Clinton. The man's got a knack for telling a good yarn, but I dread the endless "thanks to so-and-so and so-and-so and so-and-so's" that none of us have ever heard of, and that will certainly fill dozens of pages.

Now For Your Grrrs

Jason Blosser in Ft. Wayne, Ind., has a few Grrrs:  "I'm a celebrity, so I'm somehow qualified to speak on matters of politics and religion." Grrr! and wives who don't understand the miracle of home theater but consider their basket collection an investment and national treasure. Grrr! (Just kidding, hun.)

Jenn W. in Freeland, Wash., has two big Grrrs: One to our neighbor's paper delivery dude who makes his rounds in a 1980's diesel Volkswagen Rabbit with no muffler at 4a.m. in the morning. And the second to my other neighbor who lets out their yapping, eight pound version of a dog at 5:30 a.m. every morning. Thanks for the wake up calls! Grrrrrrrr!

S.S. Grrrs the Cell Phone Lady at the grocery store: Your pushing your oversized cart through the grocery stores narrow aisles with a parade following you when the lady in front of you gets a cell phone call. She answers and proceeds to have a long conversation that seems to make her invisible to the world. Except no one can move because she's blocking the aisle. When asked to pass she holds up that "one finger" (the wrong one) and sort of implies "just a sec". It was all I could do to not just grab the phone and gently slide it down the aisle (in the direction that the crowd behind me had wanted to go anyway) and say "it's long distance!"

Stacy McKain in Slidell, La.: Here's my GRRRRR......MSNBC, NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, CNN Headlines.....any media outlet except FOX!  Thanks for giving us true, fair and balanced journalism.

David Lund in Indianapolis: Why is it that when most people find out I am getting a motorcycle, they feel the need to tell me about every distant acquaintance that they have ever known who has had an accident on one?  For instance: "My uncle's friend's brother's third cousin's accountant had a really bad accident on his bike..."  This is the only form of transportation that people feel the need to do this with. If I said I was going to get a new pair of running shoes, people wouldn't tell me about their fishing buddies who have tripped and scraped their knees or elbows, would they? I know they're dangerous, I know people have accidents, but I'm getting one anyway. Grrr!

Sharon in Reading, Pa., says: I’m so tired of reading these stories in the news where something unfortunate happens to someone and immediately they hire a lawyer. For instance, the poor woman who found a mouse in her soup at the Cracker Barrel hired a lawyer. Why? I’m sure the restaurant did not want this to happen. It was just an unfortunate accident for them (and the mouse, no doubt). If I was eating that soup and found the mouse, I too would have screamed and run out. I would have expected an apology from the restaurant. And more than likely I would not eat there again, or at least not for a long time. But hire a lawyer? Everyone just wants the easy buck. It’s all about a quick opportunity. So pathetic. Grrrr!

Tom Friddle in Herdon, Va., writes:  Mike, love your column and after my past 10 days on vacation I had to write. The wife and I took our 4-year-old to Disney World for 10 days. I would have to say that half of the people there are total oblivions. What gets me the worst is that when you go someplace like that, you can expect an occasional clip in the back of the leg by a stroller, but now you have the elderly and the obese people driving those little motorized scooters around.

I have to say that most of the elderly were very considerate, but when the lazy get on those things they just expect you to get out of their way. I was clipped by a scooter seven times, once by an elderly woman who apologized several times and the other six by mostly overweight people who had the audacity to look at me like it was my fault that they hit me. I am sure that some of the obese people may have had a legitimate medical reason for driving a scooter around, but the bottom line is that pedestrians have the right of way and when you do clip someone, don’t be rude about it, just apologize. GRRRRRR!!!!!!

Heather Hintz in CyberSpace writes: Hey! I absolutely love your column! The best. Here is my GRR....why does my ATM ask me what language I want it to "speak" to me in? Uh, English please! Duh! This is America and the language we speak is English! If I was in France I would expect the ATM to speak to me in French. And why can't my ATM card remember I only speak English?  Like I am suddenly going to want to try and do a transaction in Japanese? GRRR!

Jack Edwards Top Five List for Oblivions:

1.  Attention co-workers: there is a popcorn button. Use it. Enough said.
2.  Those of you who leave 16 car lengths in front of you at stop lights need to pull up. Nobody wants to car-jack your hoopty. Besides, car-jacking is so 1990. Why do you do this? You make all of us late because only two of us make the light. Traffic is bad enough without you. You are slow as it is.
3.  Talking louder doesn’t mean you’re right.
4.  It’s called cologne not "I-smell-horrible-but-I-think-that-people-love-it-juice!" One spray is enough. You know who you are.
5.  Don’t get them if you don’t want me to look.

Stupid Lit'l Dreamers

There is much to Grrr! New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (search) over (like her book above), but let's give credit where it's due.

Clinton could have come out firing with both barrels after seeing the Abu Ghraib pics last week, but she chose instead to reserve comment.

No Grrr! there. None whatsoever.

Now a Little Bit of Name-Dropping

I went to a private party thrown by Esquire magazine the other night, where I met "Apprentice" cohorts Heidi Bressler (search) and Tom Downing (they were not together by the way). Downing, you might recall, is the general manager of the Trump International Hotel (search) in New York City who was one of Trump's lieutenants who interviewed the final four "Apprentice" contestants, and said that Amy Henry "irritated the hell out of me." Downing said his life hasn't really changed all that much since the show, and looks forward to doing his part for series two.

But Bressler, who is much prettier and less abrasive in person than she appeared to be on the show, is juggling a multitude of personal appearances, cashing in on what she knows will be a fleeting celebrity.

"Always be humble," she said. "You've got to treat people with respect. I get people who want to take pictures with me. They ask me how my mother is doing — she's doing great by the way, and I just really appreciate all of it — because you don't know how long it's gonna last," she said.

As for the Esquire brass present at the party, I always get a little star struck when I see editor-in-chief David Granger (search), because I'm a big fan of the magazine. He's got to be one of the most down-to-Earth guy's guys in magazine publishing. And the always-gracious associate publisher Stephen Jacoby also played host. You can meet these guys by checking out the "FOX Magazine" Esquire Apartment piece.

Until next week, Grrrrrrrrrr!

Read previous Strakalogue Grrr! columns

Mike Straka is the Director of Operations and Special Projects for, and contributes as a features reporter and producer on "FOX Magazine" & "Sunday Best." As an actor, Straka appeared in the film "Analyze This," co-starred in the Off-Broadway hit "Tony n' Tina's Wedding," and has appeared in various TV commercials and programs.

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