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UNDERRATED / OVERRATED

Underrated: Lhasa de Sela and Dan Savage

Overrated: Mel Gibson's vengeance and National Guard ads

January 17, 2010

Lhasa de Sela: 2010 continued its rough start as this 37-year-old singer-songwriter succumbed to breast cancer. A frequent collaborator with Calexico as well as members of the Montreal indie rock scene, Lhasa was possessed of a dusky-smooth voice that could break your heart in three languages. Her sultry, Spanish-language debut from 1998, "La Llorona," best shows what we lost.

Dan Savage's 'Savage Love' podcast: While only for the most mature audiences, this alt-weekly columnist and frequent cable pundit can eat up a road trip's hours with this weekly sex and relationship advice show. Savage would readily admit he's not for everyone, but we're always entertained as he handles delicate and not-so-delicate questions with sensitivity, smarts and a startlingly quick wit.

Mel Gibson's sense of vengeance: While we kind of missed Mel Gibson during his brief hiatus from the big screen, the guy seriously needs to find an interest beyond righteous, action-flick revenge. Maybe the upcoming "Edge of Darkness" will turn out to be his "Copland," but we're pretty sure the trailer didn't need Gibson growling about "hangin' on the cross." Think you covered that ground already, Mel.

The National Guard's new in-theater campaign: Serving one's country is among the finest callings, and we respect the military's need to drum up enlistments. But this operatic, over-the-top ad running before hits such as "Avatar" seems better suited for Paul Verhoeven's "Starship Troopers." Isn't there a more artful way to capture the nobility of service than ominous, faux-Latin choruses?

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