Monday, April 30, 2012

bear the dog

From the category of "I didn't write it, but I sure as heck wish I had've"... for your day, here is the talents of the late, great Rich Mullins, in an essay written in September, 1994. 

If I loved my Master like my dog Bear loves his, I'd be more saintly than John the Divine... more radical than John the Baptizer... more deeply devoted than St. John of the Cross.

Bear is a golden retriever with a more-than-weird fear of storms, an uncanny sense of how to be especially gentle around children, epilepsy and a coat that is wildly wavy and shines gold.  He has a look of nobility at his 9 years of age, although he still hasn't grown into his feet.  He weights about 75 pounds, eating very little to maintain that weight.  He loves to fetch, especially in water.  He hates baths, but loves to roll in... well, stuff that smells.  He knows Sit, Stay, Down and Heel, but doesn't do tricks.  I suspect he's a little shy when I try to show him off.

An amazing album... with Rich and Bear the Dog
But the devout part... aside from his obvious charm... is the part I most envy.

When a storm comes, Bear unashamedly dashes between my legs.  When I lock them, he attaches himself to whichever leg he is closest to.  He does not run away in a storm, he runs to me.  I don't know if this is about real safety or mere comfort, but I do know that I would do better to crawl between my Master's legs in times of storms than to fake courage or to run for another, no less inferior, shelter. 

Of all the things I've had to teach Bear, coming to me was never one of them.  I've had to teach him not to sit on the couch, or climb on the bed, or beg under the table, but coming to me came easy.  When my friends sit with him, if he gets nervous or upset, they play a tape with my voice on it, or give him one of my sweaters to nuzzle.  Bear not only loves me, he loves my stuff too.  Kind of like I should love God's stuff--His Church, His Word, His stars, His sparrows... His voice... those things that carry His scent.

Bear takes his medicine (for his epilepsy) well too.  I've never been too good at taking medicine.  Bear obviously doesn't like it, but he doesn't resist.  He's only slightly uncooperative.  If I try to sneak it to him in his food, he spits it out.  If I give it to him with my outstretched hand, he'll swallow it.  I try to avoid medicine from God--even to the point of avoiding God. 

Of course, there is one time when Bear runs from me... its when I practice guitar, so who could blame him?  I'd run from me too.  But Bear's master is not as good as playing as my Master is.  Bear's master chunks and plunks away at his instrument in a way that my Master will never do. I have long since given up the ambition of being as good at everything as my Master is.  I just hope my Master will not give up on making me as good at being master as is my dog.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

i hate comic sans (and other thoughts)

So, I have an announcement to make this week.  Not yet.  But this week.  A major announcement, and I'm going to use my own site as a platform to launch it.  It will extend to Facebook and Twitter, natch, but it will start here.  What is it?  What's going on?  Find out by checking here daily.

And if you are reading this on Facebook, then make sure you "like" the Clouds in My Coffee page... and if you are here on the real page, become a "following" follower.  I'd really appreciate it.


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I hate the font known as comic sans.  I do.  I think its boring, I think its overused, I think its a little silly.  It just looks so... blah.  Comic sans is like that kid in school who thinks he's a little cooler than he actually is, so instead of being cool, like Verdana or Trebuchet are, he just ends up being annoying.  And the more cool he tries to be, the more annoying he ends up being.

So, if you are reading this page in a Comic Sans font, I apologize.  There is a sad reason for it. 

Working on the new laptop, with Windows 7, natch, I did a Google search today on importing new fonts into Blogger, and was all excited when I learned that Blogger has like, 70 something fonts to use--only 7 are in the default page, but go to the advanced settings and such, and you can pick different fonts for your post fonts, for your post headings, for your title line and everything... so I spent about an hour or so playing with different fonts, and had a cool looking cursive font for the post titles... I had a "felt" looking title card... and for the writing itself, had a marker looking font--all easy to read, but with my propensity and love for Sharpies, it looks like a handwritten font, written in fine point Sharpie.  I loved it.

So here I am, admiring my page and the way it looks, and think to myself "this is great... I think I'll do a random thoughts post and lead with the fact the blog has a slightly new look".  Well, this evening, I flip over to my old computer, which has an older version of Windows, and pull up Clouds In My Coffee.

And to my horror, the entire page... Comic Sans.  Its all in Comic Sans.  Gone is the cool cursive font, gone is the felt marker looking writing, gone is all the fun stuff... its all Comic Sans.  And this just won't do.  This is terrible. 

Look for this to get fixed sometime very, very, veeeery soon.  Cause this just won't do.


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Kellie Martin, recently.  All growed up.
So, there is a Hallmark Movie Channel Movie on right now.  Thankfully, we aren't watching it, but I know its on.  Kellie Martin is the star.  She plays the mom.  No, not the mom of a toddler.  No, she's not a teenager who got pregnant and is struggling to make it, nor is she the college diving team captain who has a baby and a secret. 

She's the mom of like, a 9 year old.  And I feel incredibly old that I'm watching a movie where Kellie Martin is a mom of a 9 year old, and she's believable at that.

Sigh.

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Sometimes when I go to Sonic, I push the button before I'm absolutely ready just to force myself to make a decision

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UPDATE.... I published this post, and then refreshed the page on my older laptop... and the fonts worked?!  What the what?!  So... you might be reading this all in Comic Sans, or you might be reading this in the cool font that I described, going "What the fool is he talking about?"  So there ya go.

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And finally, this...



That's funny, I don't care who you are.  Just funny.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Idolhemian Rhapsody

With only six contestants left, Seacrusty starts off this show by telling us that our votes count more than ever.  More than ever.  Why, you ask?  Why do our votes count so much, more than ever?  Well, because...

THIS

IS

AMERICAN

IDOL


Tonight, they revisit a them they used a few seasons back, don't ask me which because I don't remember and I don't really feel like going back and looking for it...

I do love me some Queen.  Freddie Mercury, who probably had the most infamous overbite in the history of musical overbites, was the full definition of the word "flamboyant"... and as the Idols sit down with Roger Something and Brian May of Queen, I get the sense that only Phillip2 and My Next American Idol Elise Testosterone actually realize what a big deal this is, and how amazing advice from these two guys could possibly be.

Its a two hour show tonight, and with the Idols down to six, they'll be doing two rounds... first, its their Queen renditions... and second, its a choice of their own. 

Round One:  The Queen Songs

Kicking off the show is J-Sanch, with no prepackaged video about her hometown or her day with Jimmy Iovine or what have ya... and she's taking on "Bohemian Rhapsody". And for whatever reason, they are showing her in black and white...

The Lovely Steph Leann:  I find this black and white thing very bizarre. Its not like these people in the audience can see this.  This is just... weird.

...but as J-Sanch gets to the meat of the song, the color kicks in.

Me:  That's gotta be really hard to arrange for a minute and a half song
The Lovely Steph Leann:  Its a really long song anyway... and... she's wearing sneakers.  High top sneakers with her dress.  What is that?

The judges loved this song, by the way.  For me, not a fan.

And in the second position tonight. Little Skylar Laine is taking on a monster depressing song, one called "The Show Must Go On".  Why is it depressing?  Its about Freddie Mercury's battle with AIDS, which he ended up losing in the late 80s.

Can't say I love this song, as I really appreciate it more than I like it, but this Little Skylar Laine brought it.  Creepy Uncle Steven loved it.  J-Lo gots the goosies.  Randy the Dawg, sporting a ridiculous pin that simply says "YO", loved it, skipping right past the "she's in it to win it!" and going straight to the "she's gotta have it!".  Those is some big words, Dawg.

Doing one my favorite Queen tunes, Joshua Ledet is holding one of those old school, big rectangular mics with the cord draped all over the stage... he's singing "Crazy Little Thing Called Love".   He does his thing on the stage, and the judges give him a Standing O... honestly though--and I can barely push a tune in a wheelbarrow much less carry it--to me, it was a bit screechy.

The judges are all about it, though, and J-Lo even says that her favorite part of the show is the Joshua part. 

And doing "I Want It All" is My Next American Idol Elise Testosterone.  To me, she's got this odd look about her, kinda like her face broke and was glued back together, not quite right... but I so dig her voice.  Whereas everyone so far sounds like, good or bad, they are trying to recreate the Queen song they are singing, My Next American Idol Elise Testosterone sounds like she has made this song completely her own... and I love it!

And in another one of my favorite Queen songs, Phillip2 is singing the ode to those of the fairer gender who carry with them a somewhat larger posterior... you know, junk in the trunk... a bodonkadonk... thats right, its "Fat Bottomed Girls". 

This song is so much fun to sing... "awwwwww... gonna take me home tonight!!!!"  And Phillip2 seemed perfect for this tune... though I wish the backup dancers had more going in their own backends.  I mean, if you are singing about the trunk, then show it off!

Creepy Uncle Steven loved it.  J-Lo loved it.  Randy the Dawg liked it.

And finishing up The Queen Round, its Hollie Cav doing a Queen tune that I don't really know... its called "Save Me". 

As I was fast forwarding through commercials via the --> button on my DVR remote, I looked over and noticed The Lovely Steph Leann was dozing off.  I know she's tired as a one armed paper hanger, but when she gets on her couch, Campbell Isaiah in deep sleep while draped across her chest, sometimes its hard for her to stay awake.  And I mention this only because Hollie Cav's song was really slow.

I look over, and surprisingly, The Lovely Steph Leann is awake.  Barely.

Creepy Uncle Steven loved the song.  J-Lo has been rambling about connecting to the songs for the last 27 minutes.  I think she liked it, but I'm not positive.  And Randy the Dawg, also trying to stay awake, liked it. 

I liked it, but didn't love it.   The Lovely Steph Leann?  Dozing.


ROUND TWO... The Idols Pick 'Em

We come back and see Seacrusty talking to The Saved Jessica Sanchez, who has chosen Luther's "Dance With My Father".  She's dedicating it to her father, who is being deployed overseas, apparently to Singapore rather than the Middle East--a somewhat easier place, but difficult nonetheless.  So, I dare not make fun of J-Sanch, not with her dad serving our country.

Thank you, Daddy Sanchez, for serving.

Back to J-Sanch... its good.  Well, again, I have to say her vocals are just about flawless... but still she's kinda boring.  The judges just gush on J-Sanch.  So how do I balance an incredible voice with a lifeless personality?  Sigh.

In between the performances this round, they are showing little videos of the Idols describing the Idol about to perform... and we are amused as British Hollie Cav tries to say that Little Skylar Laine is tough and "thick skinned", only she says, "Little Skylar Laine is... thick boned.  Is that how you say it?"

Going back to her roots this round, Little Skylar Laine is doing Jason Aldean's "Tattoos On This Town", a song that I had never, ever, never heard of, nor did I even know existed.  And she sounded great, like something I'd hear on WZZK here in town.  Good times.

The judges don't stand, but they do gush.

For the second go-round, Joshua Ledet is taking on India.Arie's "Ready For Love".  Not only do I not know this song, I can't tell you a single India.Arie song, neither title nor tune.

(brief pause for laundry duties and crying baby... full blown "holy crap, I just woke up and I'm frikkin' hungry, FEED ME NOW YOU STUPID PARENTS" meltdown)

And back.  Don't know the song, but I like Joshua's rendition of it, though I feel like were The Lovely Steph Leann not holding a bottle to Campbell Isaiah's face, she'd be asleep.

Randy the Dawg practically drools over this (the song, not the propective nap from The Lovely Steph Leann)... Creepy Uncle Steven smells the finish line... and J-Lo uses the word "Transcendant".  There ya go.

My Next American Idol Elise Testosterone is singing Jimi Hendrix's "Bold as Love", and I love what EW blogger Annie Barrett said about this obscure choice...  she writes, "...it seems like Elise has come to terms with the fact that she's not the judges' chosen one, so why not just go nuts, do a largely spoken-word song, and attach an orange scarf to her "melisma hand" so it will look crazier than ever?"

I didn't know the song, and I am not headed to iTunes to download it immediately, but at the same time, I thought it was great. 

And of course, the judges drill her for song choice.  Creepy Uncle Steven says, "you can't pick the cherries with your back to the tree... but I loved it."  J-Lo actually sticks up for My Next American Idol Elise Testosterone by saying, "I think you slayed that song so hard."  Randy the Dawg goes back to Creepy Uncle Steven and harps on song choice.   

Phillip2 has been compared to Dave Matthews all season, so what better way to differentiate himself from that comparison than by actually doing a Dave Matthews song?  This song is called "The Stone".  Cool voice aside, I couldn't care less about this song. 

Naturally, My Next American Idol Elise Testosterone does an obscure song and gets poohed on... but Phillip2 does it, and the judges love it.  Creepy Uncle Steven loves the fact that Phillip2 takes chances... but My Next American Idol E-Test needs to do something familiar.   Randy the Dawg wants Phillip2 to be Phillp2.  But My Next American Idol E-Test needs to please the audience.

And finally, Hollie Cav wraps up the show with...

(pause to finish feeding the grumpy 5 month old, and to give him his soothing colic tablets...)

...a song that I cannot get away from.  Miley Cyrus' "The Climb".  I say it now... if this song is anywhere near my funeral service, I'll rise from the casket like Lazerus and kick someone's teeth in before I go into the Light.

That being said, I think I liked Hollie Cav's version of this song more than any other time I've ever heard it.  As much as I don't like the song, I really like this song.  Go figure. 

The judges?  Standing O.  And gushing abounds. 

Best to Worst:  Phillip2's "Fat Bottomed Girls"... Hollie Cav's "The Climb"... Little Skylar Laine's "Tattoos On This Town"... My Next American Idol Elise Testosterone's "I Want It All"... My Next American Idol Elise Testosterone's "Bold As Love"... J-Sanch's "Dance with My Father"... Little Skylar Laine's "The Show Must Go On"...  Joshua Ledet's "Ready for Love"...  Hollie Cav's "Save Me"... J-Sanch's "Bohemian Rhapsody"... Phillip2's "The Stone"... Joshua Ledet's "Crazy Little Thing Called Love"

Testosterone No More

Six are left.   Six start this results show.  Five will remain.  Five will leave the show with a chance to win.  Four.  Four weeks left.  Or so, anyway.  Three judges.  Three babblers.  Two hours down this week.  One hour left. 

Tonight... another one bites the dust.  Tonight, one won't be the champion. 

THIS

IS THE

AMERICAN

IDOL RESULTS

Kicking off the show, The Lovely Steph Leann pipes up and says, "Sigh.  I'm still sad Colton is gone.  Sigh."

Seacrust tells us that the Idols received a staggering 576,088,029,003 votes last night... and that's just an average per state.  Amazing.

As I start to fast forward through The Queen Extravaganza performance, The Lovely Steph Leann whimpers... "This is my favorite Queen song."  So, we listen to "Somebody to Love".

Fast forward through Commercial Break

Fast forward through Ford Music Video

And now, a video where the Idols head to TMZ's headquarters to learn how to deal with the Hollywood mean scene... and its actually pretty funny...

Now, the results!

Seacrusty calls down J-Sanch and My Next American Idol Elise Testosterone to centerstage.  After missing him last night, we get some Jimmy Iovine!  He calls J-Sanch's take on "Bohemian Rhapsody" a complete mistake, but calls her "Dance with My Father" a masterpiece.   Jimmy also felt that both of My Next American Idol Elise Testosterone's song choices were bad choices. 

Dim the lights!  Here we go!  After the nationwide vote...

Me:  I bet My Next American Idol Elise Testosterone is in the Bottom Three again
The Lovely Steph Leann:  Well, I dunno... J-Sanch was voted out once.

...and I was right.

Fast forward through Commercial Break

And we are back and we see The Saved Casey Abrams, with much more hair, chatting with Seacrusty... and now we see the return of Stefano Italiano!

Fast forward through Stefano Italiano's performance

Fast forward through Commercial Break

Now, Seacrusty pulls down Hollie Cav and Joshua Ledet to centerstage.   Jimmy Iovine says that Hollie Cav's "Save Me" was great, and thought even better of Joshua Ledet's songs. 

Dim the lights, here we go!  After the nationwide vote, one is in the Top Three, the other in The Bottom Three... and its Hollie Cav having a seat in the Silver Stools of Suck.

Fast forward through Commercial Break

Fast forward through Katy Perry

Fast forward through Commercial Break

The Lovely Steph Leann, asleep.

Now, we have Phillip2 and Little Skylar Laine, and they both head to centerstage with Seacrusty.  Jimmy Iovine thought Little Skylar Laine's Queen song was great, but the country song was a little self-indulgent.  Jimmy thinks that Phillip2's songs weren't all that great, though...

Dim the lights, here we go!  After the nationwide vote, the Idol in the final spot of The Bottom Three is... Little Skylar Laine.   Seacrusty pulls over Hollie Cav and My Next American Idol Elise Testosterone, and then immediately sends Little Skylar Laine back to The Couch of Comfort.

The Lovely Steph Leann awakens just in time to see Little Skylar Laine get the safety news, and she says, "Well, this sucks..."

Fast forward through Commercial Break

Dim the lights, here we go! After then nationwide vote...

...and deep inside, I knew this would happen...

My Next American Idol won't actually be America's Next American Idol, as Elise Testosterone goes home. 

I am saddened, not only because I loved her voice, plus thought that the judges never gave her a fair shake, but now I've got to find another My Next American Idol.  Phillip2?  Hollie Cav?  I dunno.

The Lovely Steph Leann went back to sleep.  Fitting.


Monday, April 23, 2012

Why Ferris Bueller is a Bad Person

Ferris Bueller is supposed to be a loved character. You are supposed to envy him, to want to be him, to want to date Sloan Peterson, to want to help Cameron Frye and get the best of Principal Ed Rooney, and of course, you are supposed to outsmart your mom and dad and sister Jeanie.

However, Ferris Bueller is a jerkweed.

Cameron Frye and Sloan Peterson, following the lead of "Abe
Froman", the Sausage King
Let me back up... I'm sure you've seen the movie "Ferris Bueller's Day Off". Ferris is an iconic character, and one of the symbols of the 80s decade. Directed by the late, great John Hughes and released in 1986 to modest success, the movie has taken on a huge, cult like status. 

The lines from the movie are irresistible, and impossible to get away from.  Be it an imitation of Ben Stein's economy lesson, in a monotone, nasally voice saying... "Anyone... anyone?" followed by "Bueller... Bueller... Bueller... Frye?  Frye?" (and for the super fans, they will answer, "Oh, he's sick!") or Ferris himself saying "The question isn't 'what are we going to do', the question is 'what aren't we going to do'", or motto of, "Life moves pretty fast, if you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it", or Cameron's low song of "When Cameron was in Egypt's land.... let my... Cameron... goooooooo"

The movie is one that will be remembered when Campbell and his future sister Lorelei will watch when they get older... not at my urging, mind you, but probably something they will want to see as I raise them to be movie lovers as I am.  Meaning, this will be something they will feel like they should watch, as they try and see the 80s classics.  (though I will make sure they get the real classics like "The Breakfast Club", "Pretty in Pink", "WarGames", "Ghostbusters" and "The Goonies", among others as well)

Back to my point... and if you haven't seen this film and do not want to know the plot points and scenes of this movie, then stop reading, because I'm about to bust up all over these spoilers...

Ferris and his ways of fooling his parents to skip school
He's a jerk.  And he's someone that I would never want to be friends with.  He's narcissistic, obnoxious and... well, selfish.  He's got a best friend that has some serious family issues, as Cameron and Cameron's dad's relationship possibly being worthy of intense therapy... so what does Ferris do? He talks Cameron... no, he forces Cameron to take Cameron's dad's prized car, his Ferrari worth a cool couple of 100Ks and as an indirect result, ends up destroying that very car. 

He is a slacker.  He not only skips school not once, not twice but nine times (and that's just the recorded absences), he seems to have no interest in graduating with any sort of self-worth.  Perhaps in this day and age, a high school and/or college degree isn't as necessary as it once was, but I would think in the mid-80s, it meant something.  But hey, his dad seems like he's successful, so maybe he gets Ferris a job in his office, maybe the mail room or maybe as an assistant of some sort... but do you want Ferris Bueller working for you?  Taking short-cuts, calling in sick, slacking and trying to be cool... I don't want someone working for me who is just trying to be the cool-cat and unconcerned with the value of his work.

Ferris Bueller is that part of us who just wants to tell The Man to suck it, and take a long walk off of a short pier (why is it that no one uses this expression anymore?  this is hilarious, takes just a second to register and is fun to say.  we need to bring it back.  i'll start.)  Ferris is that piece of our soul who wants to skirt responsibility and accountability and do what makes us happy...

Perhaps the reason this movie is so popular is that for an hour and forty some odd minutes, that part of us who wants to tell our own bosses and authoritarian figures and such to kiss it and then walk out of our jobs defiantly to the raves and envy of all the other co-workers lives this very fantasy through the main character of Ferris. And its those traits that make him so appealing to us, because in this film, he gets away with it. Ed Rooney, the dastardly principal, gets his come-uppance, while his mom and dad are completely in the dark, and his sister even has a slight change of heart at the end... and because we know the world doesn't really work like this, we cheer him on.  We cheer Ferris on as he crashes a random parade through weekday downtown Chicago, or as he boldly proposes to Sloan in the rafters of the Chicago stock exchange, or as he races through the yards and streets of his neighborhood, desperately trying to beat Jeannie, who is desperately racing home in her car, trying to show her mom that Ferris is a big ol' faker...

As a matter of fact, if you are a sporto, motorhead, geek, slut, blood, waistoid, dweebie, pinhead... you probably adore him.  You think he's a righteous dude. 

And yes, we cheer him on as he destroys the emotion and psyche of Cameron Frye, his bestie.   Cameron has issues.  And Ferris is not the emotional support Cam needs... he's an enabler and a manipulator.  When Cameron posts strong, and well-deserved objections to leaving his dad's prized Ferrari in a random parking garage, Ferris doesn't even try to reason or argue.  He just tells Cameron that this is where they'll be leaving the car so he, Cam and Sloan can go out and do what Ferris wants to do. 

The Garage Attendatnt and the Attendant Co-Pilot
It is, of course, this action that leads to Cameron's meltdown at the end of the movie.  The car doesn't even make it into the garage wholly before Garage Attendant (as he's billed in the movie) and Attendant's Co-Pilot (also billed as such) hops in and speeds off, racking up several hundred miles on the odometer and doing who knows what kind of unseen body damage to the chassis, let alone the engine wear and tear on pushing a car that hard after being dormant in a covered, climate controlled garage (one can only assume that if Cameron's dad puts that much time and energy into a car, especially at the expense of his relationship with his own son, he would make sure that the car is care for in every way), all while unbeknownest to Cameron, Sloan and Ferris.

Ferris Bueller is not a role model.  He's not a very respectful son, nor is he any kind of a decent brother to his sister. Granted, his sister does seem a little bratty herself--of course, he got a keyboard while she actually got a car, plus she got to meet a young, not yet whacked out Charlie Sheen in the police station and even tell him to shove his thumb in his rear, so that counts for something.

In closing, I give you one six second scene that tells you exactly who Ferris Bueller actually is.  At the end, when he is running pell-mell (why don't we use 'pell-mell' anymore?  the same reason we stopped using 'higgledy-piggledy' to describe something chaotic or messy?  let's bring these back too) to get home, he does something very indicative of who he is.  We've already seen him profess his love for Sloan, not only in his proposal, but later on when he tells us, the audience, that he meant it... and we know that he has everything to lose by getting caught.  His mom and dad who believe in him so much will know he was faking the illness, and then will probably begin to wonder about the other times he was "sick".  Jeanne wins, because everyone will know she's right.  So getting home before his mom does is the most important thing he can possibly do--it will affect his life completely, at least for the short term future.

So, he jumps a fence and runs past two chicks in bikinis, lounging.  And then what does he do?  He stops, turns around and slowly walks back, sticking his hand out and saying, "Hi, I'm Ferris Bueller."  He who proposed to Sloan a few hours earlier, who is entitled to look but knowing he's committed, spends precious minutes talking to two scantily clad chicks who he's never met.  But he does it, because he's so arrogant, so self-confident, so narcissistic that he knows he won't get caught.  We only see a few seconds of this, but you know this conversation had to last at least a minute or two.  And because he barely makes it back in his bed, with nary a second to spare, before Mama Bueller checks on him, you have to understand that had he not stopped for the bikini chicks, he probably would have made it home with a few minutes to spare.

This is who Ferris Bueller is.  And Ferris Bueller is a bad person. 

And if you are wondering if I just spend a dozen paragraphs on the character of Ferris Bueller... well, you might be right.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Idols Then & Now

So, The Lovely Steph Leann has cataracts.  Have I told you this?  No, probably not.  Anyway, ever since Campbell popped out into the world, she noticed her vision was a little jacked up... a visit to the optometrist revealed that even in her relatively young age, both eyes have astigmatism and cataracts. 

And today was eye surgery numbero uno... her right eye was taken care of, leaving her with a funky clear shield over that eye, and a few bottles of drops to use all day long.  Don't worry, though, fellow Coffee Drinkers and TLSL fans (and I know she has fans, I hear from you asking about her), she is just fine.

I only mention all of this to note that it might come up again in our viewing of...

THIS IS



AMERICAN



IDOL

Tonight is Thursday... and for the first time in three weeks, I'm going to be able to watch and blog the performances, AND THEN blog the results show... without knowing who gets the boot!  And this will get posted hopefully by Friday afternoon, in a timely fashion from the shows!  Progress, baby!

We are first given a video recap of last week's "dramatic results show", where J-Sanch was voted off, and then subsequently voted back on by the judges... J-Lo racing to the stage, essentially telling her to not bother singing, because they have already decided they are "Saving" her.  My thoughts are that they had a list of just a couple they would save, and more they would not--and she was at the top.

And Ryan Seacrest gives us a nod to the passing of Dick Clark, who died yesterday at the ripe ol' age of 82.  Good job, Seacrest.  That's a great mention.

On with the show!!

Tonight, each of our Idols will take on two songs... the first will be a number one song from 2000 to now... the second, a Motown classic.

Holly Cav is up first, and she's taking on our modern day Whitney/Mariah/Celine, at least when it comes to this show... no, I am not talking about Ke$ha... I mean Adele. 

She starts the first few notes by singing acapella... and then launches into what is now an contender for the best song of the night, even though its first.  Hollie Cavanaugh at last has a brilliant Idol moment.

Creepy Uncle Steven loved it. J-Lo loved it.  Randy the Dawg said "pitchy"... but liked it.  Oh, that Randy the Dawg.

Next up, the ladies lurve them some Colton Dixon.  I mean, all up and down Facebook, its a Colton Love Fest from the stay at home moms and older chicks... he's like a Rocker version of the The Widower Danny Gokey. 

And what is he singing?  Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance".  And I'm not sure this is the best song for him... its a risky choice, its a brave choice, but honestly, I'm not a fan of this performance.  Love the original song, but not the cover by Colton. 

Randy the Dawg calls its a "Colton Dixon concert!"  J-Lo loved it.  Creepy Uncle Steven kinda blubbers a little bit, a la Paula Abdul, only without passing the room key over. 

Okay, let's get it out there.  Its time to declare MY Next American Idol.  Sometimes I can do it early, sometimes late (there were only four Idols when I declared Haley Reinhart as Last Season's My Next American Idol Haley Reinhart), and sometimes early... and so here is my choice...

My Next American Idol Elise Testosterone is coming up next... and she's singing "No One" by Alicia Keys.  Not bad, not great, but I did like it. 

J-Lo says she got her first Goosies of the night.  I'm sure there is medication for that.  Creepy Uncle Steven says it was great and she sang her tushy off. Randy the Dawg was happy with it too.

And if you think that I'm a little weirded out by having My Next American Idol be someone with the last name "Testosterone", you might be right. 

And now we're up to Phillip Phillips, who is doing Usher's "U Got It Bad", which is stripped down with a sax, a bongo, an upright bass and a guitar or two.  Looks like a garage band, and it sounds great. 

The judges think so, giving him the first Standing O of the evening.  Creepy Uncle Steven Tyler says something about "no chump love, sucka", though I don't know what that means. J-Lo uses the word sexy no less than four times.   Randy the Dawg smiles big. 

Once again, we see J-Sanch become The Saved Jessica Sanchez from last week in the "dramatic results show results"... she takes on the second Alicia Keys song of the night, "Fallin'", an Idol standard that is hard to mess with.

And here we are again... she is a good great singer with a good great fantastic voice.  But no matter how Idol tries to sell her to us, she's just boooooring. 

The judges just gush.  As they always do, doing their best to convince us that we need to vote for this chick. 

Out of every artist that has hit the number one spot in the 12 years since the year 2000, not only do we have two Alicia Keys songs, but we've also got two Lady Gaga song... and Little Skylar Laine is taking on the country version of Gaga's "Born this Way".

Trim the 'stache, give him a fiddle, suddenly
this is the guy staring at Little Skylar Laine
By the way, the fiddler behind Little Skylar Laine is freaking me out.  He kind of resembles Michael Biehn's nutso character in "The Abyss", my 10th favorite film of all time. 

I'm not sure that I was a big fan of Little Skylar Laine's style or look at the beginning of the year... and she's really grown on me, like kudzu. 

The judges gush.  J-Lo says about 3000 words in 7 seconds, while Creepy Uncle Steven tells us that people will drawls will love her.  Randy the Dawg tells her she's beyond ready and amazing. 

And ending the first round of songs is Joshua Ledet, who claims his idol is Fantasia.  And he's singing his idol's song, "I Believe".  Really?  Not sure that I could get behind anyone who has Fantasia as his idol. 

I'm not sure I've ever heard this exact song, but I know I've heard about fifty songs just like it.  "If You Believe" from that gawd-awful "Prince of Egypt" movie is like this... seriously, how can you screw up a song that has both pre-skank Mariah and pre-crack Whitney on it?  And yet, its a terrible song.  And a terrible movie.  Let's move on.

Joshua Ledet?  Eh.

Randy the Dawg calls him totally gifted.  J-Lo tells us what he gives America every week.  And Creepy Uncle Steven pulls out the "you can sing the phone book" line.   Eh.

And now, we start Round Two, with Hollie Cav getting a video message from The Liverpool Football Club (re: commie soccer), and her giggling.

Despite the fact I rarely watched the show, I do remember Soul Train
as having one of the coolest, most hip openings of any TV show in its day
First, though, we get a clip of Soul Train, which is what we'll be doing songs from... "The Spirit of Soooooooooooooullllll Traaaaaaaaain..."

Hollie Cav is doing Dusty Springfield's "Son of a Preacher Man"... and however she made it happen, Hollie Cav is lookin' good tonight.  No joke.  Like the song too.

Randy the Dawg said, "Dude, you worked it out!"  J-Lo liked this even better than the first song.  Creepy Uncle Steven says can be even better. 

I truly dig me some Earth, Wind & Fire, and so I'm looking forward to hearing Colton Dixon doing my favorite of theirs, "September".  Its a different take, not quite the soul version I'm used to, but really good nonetheless. 

I remember having this as my ringtone two phones ago, and even being in New York City on missions in 2005, and using this as my alarm.  Nothing better than waking up in a hot hostel in Manhattan during an August heat wave at 615am to the sounds of Earth, Wind and Fire.

Creepy Uncle Steven thinks Colton's voice could have had a better song.  J-Lo agreed.  Randy the Dawg also agreed.  I disagree completely... this was much better than his Gaga.

Seacrusty says, "Get in the mood with this piece from d$'s Next American Idol Elise!"  He is just a rhymer, that Seacrusty.

She's doing Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On", and I have to be upfront here.  I love My Next American Idols Elise Testosterone's voice.  I love the raspy and the snarl and the growl.  Its awesome.  She, however, is not someone I want to "lets get it on" with.  Plus, I've never been a huge fan of this song anyway.

Do I regret anointing the My Next American Idol nickname?  No. Not yet. 

Having said all that, the judges are idiots.  J-Lo is telling her how My Next American Idol Elise Testosterone doesn't show enough emotion.  Wait... what?  Seriously?  Jennifer Lopez, have you been watching the show this season?   Creepy Uncle Steven and Randy the Dawg both babble incoherently, even confusing Al Green and Marvin Gaye, while J-Lo mixes up Led Zeppelin and Queen.  Just stop talking.

The Lovely Steph Leann:  You know... I kinda miss when they let the Idols do longer songs, as the group begins to dwindle down
Me:  Perhaps that's so they can continue to do a two hour show.
The Lovely Steph Leann:  Perhaps. But a few years ago, Your Next American Idol Elise Testosterone would have been able to do a 3 or 4 minute version of that song, instead of 90 seconds. 

For his next tune, Phillip2 is busting up on some Wilson Pickett with "In the Midnight Hour", and this turns out to be a little screechy for my taste.  Just a bit, really.  I mean, its not bad... but I liked his Usher song better.

Randy the Dawg loves that Phillip2 is who Phillip2 is.  J-Lo uses the term "mmm!"  I think I'm going to start a rumor... J-Lo dumped Marc Anthony so she could mack openly on Phillip Phillips.  I know a guy who knows someone who saw someone who knows a guy who works on Idol's set and saw J-Lo and Phillip2 looking tenderly at each other. 

The Saved Jessica Sanchez is up next, doing Otis Redding's "Try a Little Tenderness".  Not a single note escaped The Saved Jessica Sanchez's lips before The Lovely Steph Leann shouts, "What the crap is she wearing?!" 

Creepy Uncle Steven loved the song.  J-Lo says this was a great connection with the audience.  Randy the Dawg thought it was awesome. 

Honestly?  To my untrained ear, I thought that was terrible. 

For her second song, Little Skylar Laine is doing "Heard it Through the Grapevine", and as she descends the steps from a maddening wash of digital telephone poles on the video screen, she is stalked followed by Crazy Michael Biehn the Fiddler, who is rocking the Skinny Jeans.

This song was decent, a country version of a song that really doesn't warrant a country version.  Randy the Dawg makes a great point, though... she and Phillip2 really know how to connect to the audience in a way that The Saved Jessica Sanchez just cant make happen.  Creepy Uncle Steven calls her a "wild horse who cannot be tamed".  J-Lo gushed.

Let's finish this sum-gun up tonight with a Civil Rights Anthem.. maybe THE Civil Rights Anthem... Sam Cooke's classic "A Change is Gonna Come".  I love the opening to this song, both the original and Joshua Ledet's version...

"I waaaaaas booooorn... on the rivah"...

This is one of those majestic songs that gives you lots and lots of room to screw up, but if you can get it right, if you can nail it, its a beautiful thing... and Joshua Ledet nails it.  My favorite song of the entire night.

The judges deservedly gushed over this completely. 

The Lovely Steph Leann:  I thought it was "A Change Gonna Come"... is there an "is"?
Me:  Is "A Change IS Gonna Come"
The Lovely Steph Leann:  But he just sang "A change gonna come...", with no "is"
Me:  But its called "A Change IS Gonna Come"
The Lovely Steph Leann:  Uh... okay.

My best to worst:  Joshua Ledet's "A Change is Gonna Come"... Hollie Cav's "Rolling in the Deep"... Colton Dixon's "September"... Phillip2's "U Got It Bad"... Hollie Cav's "Son of a Preacher Man"... My Next American Idol Elise Testosterone's "No One"... The Saved Jessica Sanchez's "Fallin'"...  Little Skylar Laine's "Born This Way"...  Colton Dixon's "Bad Romance"... Phillip2's "In the Midnight Hour"... My Next America Idol Elise Testosterone's "Let's Get It On"... Little Skylar Laine's "Heard It Through the Grapevine"... Joshua Ledet's "I Believe"... The Saved Jessica Sanchez's "Try a Little Tenderness."

Colton's Last Stand

And finally, I go into a finale without knowing who gets kicked off... this is good.  This is GREAT!  I'm avoiding Facebook, I'm avoiding my favorite sites like Entertainment Weekly Online, and I'm hoping to not a get a text from Hot Manager Melanie saying "Can you believe (insert fallen Idol) got the boot!?"

No more second chances.  No more safety nets.  No more Saves.  Seven start the hour.  Six will leave the hour.  Six butts on The Couch of Comfort.  One butt on the Silver Stool of Suck. 

THIS IS

THE AMERICAN

IDOL RESULTS

This exchange:

The Lovely Steph Leann:  You know what would be funny?  If after they saved The Saved Jessica Sanchez last week, American kicked off The Saved Jessica Sanchez again..
Me:  That would be high-larious

Seacrusty starts by telling us that Idol Season 8 winner Kris Allen is on the show... I saw Taylor Hicks, but apparently he's not performing.  Seacrusty also says that LMFAO is performing, to which The Lovely Steph Leann pipes up, "Uh... who?"

Fast Forward through Group Song

Fast Forward through Commerical Break

Fast Forward through Ford Music Video

Seacrusty calls down Hollie Cav and Joshua Ledet to center stage.  What did Jimmy Iovine have to say about Joshua Ledet?  Jimmy says that Joshua did himself a lot of good, and though Hollie came out of her shell, and her choice of "Son of a Preacher Man" was a good choice.

Dim the lights, here we go.  After 53 quadrillion votes, America has put Joshua Ledet back on the Couch of Safety... he is safe.  America, however, places Hollie Cav in the Bottom Three, as she makes her way to the Silver Stools of Suck.

Fast Forward through Commercial Break


Fast Forward through Seacrusty not asking Taylor Hicks to sing


Fast Forward through Kris Allen singing


Fast Forward through Commercial Break

Now, Seacrusty pulls Little Skylar Laine and My Next American Idol Elise Testosterone to center stage.  Jimmy Iovine says "Let's Get It On" will put My Next American Elise Testosterone in the Bottom Three, if not get her sent home... but says that Little Skylar Laine is the best Idol on the show so far.

Dim the lights, here we go!  After the nationwide vote, My Next American Elise Testosterone is once again headed to the Silver Stools of Suck.  Little Skylar Laine, however, is safe.  We knew this, though.

Fast Forward through Commercial Break

This is my favorite Dick Clark.  Remember the days when
winning $25,000 on a game show was appointment TV?
Plus, a single episode would start and finish, instead of
carrying over to the next day, or week?
Now, a nice little Dick Clark tribute... watching him from American Bandstand all the way through the Pyramid game show.  Very nicely done.

Fast Forward through LMFAO


Fast Forward through Commercial Break

And now, Phillip2... The Saved Jessica Sanchez... and Colton Dixon are up.  Jimmy says that The Saved Jessica Sanchez are singing songs too old for her, which is why audiences aren't connecting.   He says that P2 and Colton Dixon came out opposite last night... Phillip2 was strong, while Colton Dixon's "Bad Romance" was completely wrong.

Dim the lights, here we go!  After the nationwide vote... Seacrusty tells The Saved Jessica Sanchez that she is, in fact, saved again.  This leaves Phillip2 and Colton Dixon... the one in headed to The Silver Stools of Suck is Colton Dixon.

Seacrusty then pulls My Next American Idol Elise Testosterone to the side, and fakes her out, but then sends her to the Couch of Comfort. Oh Seacrusty, you faker!

Fast Forward through Commercial Break

Dim the lights, here we go!  After the nationwide vote, America has decided that the Idol journey is over for Colton Dixon. 

In the last two minutes, The Lovely Steph Leann has said the word "suck" or a derivative of the word "suck" about 83 times. 

Boo. 

Boo.

Double boo.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Hunger Movie Book Review

I tried reading "The Hunger Games" some weeks back, and after about three chapters, got distracted.  I do this sometimes with books... I remember re-reading "The Firm" after about 15 years since the first time, getting 40 pages into it, and laying it by my bedside.  And there the novel remained for about eight months.  Then, randomly, one day I picked it up and read it in 3 days. 

Same with this book... of course, I did see the movie between the first and second reading attempts... and in full disclosure, I must tell you that by "reading", I mean "audiobook".  That's how I roll.  Er, read.  Er, listen.  You feel me.

Anyway, when I started the audiobook, I just didn't get into it.  I tried, but I ended up putting it down.  But lo and behold, the movie came out like a juggernaut, broke all sorts of box office records and made terms like "Tribute" and "The Reaping" and "Katniss" pop culture ingredients.  I even read an article recently that discussed 2012 baby names... and both heroines "Katniss" and "Rue" and even villainous "Cato" are making waves... of course, when I think "Cato", I think of either the discount clothing store, or the unwanted live-in resident involved in the OJ trial.

Naturally, after The Lovely Steph Leann and I made plans to see the film, I grabbed the audiobook again, and got 1/3 of the way through it before show time, then finished the book after the movie. 

And here are my thoughts on such things:

THE STORY
Here's the plotline of both the movie and book, so I can just talk about each adaptation when I get there... The United States, possibly North American, has been recreated as a country called Panem.  Apparently, there is some war or revolution that happened a long time before the events of this story that led to this country's shift, but its that revolution/war that is key to the events.

Panem, like most towns and cities, and on a bigger scale, even our modern day country, has areas that are hugely successful and prosperous and others that barely make ends meet.  These are called "Districts" in Panem, with each district specializing in a specific crop or textile that makes Panem run.

District 12 is where our heroine, Katniss Everdeen, lives, surviving mostly by illegally hunting and selling wild game to shop owners and business people.  She regularly meets with her friend Gale, a dude, but says in the story that there is no romantic interest there... or is there?

Due to the revolution, the government created The Hunger Games as a punishment for each of the districts.  In a process called "The Reaping", one boy and one girl, ages 12 through 18, are selected from each of the 12 districts to participate... they are brought to The Capitol, trained and then put into a large arena... where they will spend the next few weeks killing each other.  The last surviving "tribute", as they are called, will be declared the champion and sent back to their district with lavish gifts, money and spoils.

More than just a game, its a national pastime, where Tributes compete for sponsorships prior to the Games, earning supplies and medicines in the arena.  The Games are broadcast in every district, some of which only get electricity part of the day, or even the week, and is mandatory for everyone to watch.  The gambling circuit makes a killing, and the "Opening Ceremonies" set it all up, where first impressions of the Tributes mean a ton. 

It is when Katniss' younger sister, Prim, age 12, is chosen that things take off--Katniss volunteers in her place, and alongside Peeta, the boy Tribute chosen from district 12, a boy that she doesn't really know, but only knows of, they are whisked away to The Capitol to compete.

Along the way, we meet several characters like Effie, the District 12 hostess who presides over The Reaping and its announcements... Haymitch, a former Hunger Games champion from District 12 (there are few champions that don't come from somewhere other than Districts 1, 2 and 4, the most prosperous districts in Panem), but also a part time drunk who is given the task of mentoring Katniss and Peeta... Cinna, a stylist who helps them look great for the "opening ceremonies"... Caesar Flickerman, the eccentric talk show host who interviews all the tributes and commentates over the games for the viewers (more on him at the end)... and Seneca, the orchestrator of the games.

And the story continues through the games until its conclusion, showcasing the violence of kids killing other kids, and the dynamic between Katniss and Peeta, two teenagers who end up being friends, yet know they have to kill the other to win and be free. 


THE BOOK
Loved it.

Funnily enough, after getting past the first few chapters, past the point that I actually stopped, I wondered to myself why I actually stopped reading it.  It was an extremely quick and easy read, and truly, not as graphic as I've heard it made out to be. 

There is violence, though, don't think there isn't... its kids killing kids.  That's the part you have to push through... its teenage kids finding ways to end the life of other teenage kids. 

Seriously, y'all remember when this kid got
that rock dropped on his head?  Man, that
was some cold, messed up stuff.  Gives me
the heebs.
It sort of reminds me of the 1990 film adaptation of "Lord of the Flies", with Balthazar Getty, where the island society has descended into such chaos--that scene where Jack and the bad kids drop that rock on Piggy's head... the way it was filmed, making Piggy's head slant to the side from the rock's impact before he falls dead... the worst example of "kids killing kids" in any film. In fact, on a recent episode of The Deucecast podcast, I listed that scene as the #1 most uncomfortable movie scene, ever.

Anyway, this book is not that graphic. Don't get me wrong... Tributes die. They have to. This is the nature of The Hunger Games.  In fact, the purpose of the brutal punishment is spelled out during The Reaping passage... its a reminder to the Districts of Panem to never try and uprise again.  The plucking of two of their kids per district for certain death is a slapdown to the citizens showing who is in charge--The Capitol.

The movie kind of glosses over this... Effie reminds the kids present in The Reaping of the revolution decades earlier, and admits while the Games began as a punishment, its now a wonderful annual event and its an honor to be chosen as a Tribute.

This brings us to the movie...

THE MOVIE
Loved it. 

The movie leaps right in, introducing Katniss and Gale in the first few minutes, and showing us how hard it is to survive in District 12.  The Reaping happens within a few more minutes, and we're off... the casting is also stellar.  Jennifer Lawrence being announced as Katniss over a year ago had many Hunger Games fans questioning, wondering if she was right for the part, especially after her sexy turn as Mystique in "X-Men: First Class" last summer.  Katniss, though unassuming pretty, is not considered a "sexy" character... however, J-Law brought just enough good-lookedness with a mixture of rugged un-made-upness that you believed Katniss. 

I only knew of Josh Hutcherson from that gawd-awful "The Kids are Alright" film and at first, he seemed in this one to be a little nerdy, a little dorky, a slight contrast to who I felt Peeta was in the book.   But the guy kinda grows on me.  And love him or not, Gale is but a sub-character in this film... and even in the book, he makes a brief but important appearance at the beginning, though he is referenced much more throughout the novel--the movie does give him a glance here and there.

I think if The Tuch doesn't get a Supporting Actor Oscar nod, at least his
choppers should.  They had their own credit.
With Josh Hutcherson working, the rest of the cast really succeeds.  Wes Bentley rocks this awesome beardy gotee-ey 'stachey facial hair as Seneca, Liz Banks is almost unrecognizable as the purple haired Effie, Woody Harrelson is in his wheelhouse as the drunken Haymitch, and Stanley Tucci as flamboyant host Caesar Flickerman is number one, baby, number one.  Love me some The Tuch. 

Of course, Jennifer Laurence is great as Katniss, and Miley Cyrus' boo Liam Helmsworth is fine as Gale, the effects are good, and there is virtually no gore in this film.  You know the kids die, and you see some blood splatter and in one cringe-worthy moment, one kid gets his neck broken, but the book is much more descriptive in its violence than the movie shows. 

The film is fast-paced, goes quickly and unlike some movies (I'm looking at you, Harry Potter movies 4 through 7), you don't need to read the novel to have a solid understanding of what's going on.

I'd let Campbell read "The Hunger Games" when he's 12 or 13, and I'd probably let him watch the movie around the same age.

Your thoughts?  Have you seen the movie or read the book?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Idols and the Recent Music

Here I am, just minding my own beeswax at work.  I had just finished my shift, and was about to use the restroom before I came home... just to keep myself amused, I grabbed the day's copy of USA Today and went into the bathroom for a few minutes peace and a respute of quiet.

I have been reading USA Today for about twenty years, its sort of my favorite daily paper... and with that, I have a routine.  I read the entertainment section first, Section D, the "LIFE" section.  I then go to the A Section, the front page and news.  I next plow through the B section, "MONEY", and end with the C "SPORTS" section.  I open up the USA Today paper, and right there on the front page of Friday's paper, the day after the results show has aired, I see the captioned box with a pic that says, "JUDGES USE SAVE TO KEEP ------".  Except there was no "------", there was a name.

Really?  Really?  I mean, it wasn't like it was Monday's paper, where you had a full five days to see it... nay, this was about 12 hours or so after the actual results were aired.  It would be like some paper saying "MOVIE NEWS:  BRUCE WILLIS IS ACTUALLY DEAD" the Saturday morning after "The Sixth Sense" premiered in 1999. 

Not even a "To find out Idol results, check 2B" or even a "Shocking results lead to judges save.  Details on 3D"... nope, there was a name with a picture.  So, for the second week in a row, I go into finally watching the Idol performance show already knowing who was sent home--or at least, who was voted out and saved by the Judges Save. 

Of course, it didn't help that Hot Manager Melanie tossed up the word "SAVED!" on my Facebook wall... I had already learned the fate of our Idol, but it might have given me more than I wanted to know. 

This is American Idol. 

Sigh.

As we see a video of last week's disposal of D'Crappensuck, the show asks us via words on the screen "How do you find strength"... and then "to watch your friends"... and then "leave one by one?"... and then "You remember..." and finally, "Who you are singing for..."  This led to this exchange:

The Lovely Steph Leann:  Really?  You are going to end a sentence in a preposition on American TV?
Me: So... it should have said "Remember for whom you are singing"?
The Lovely Steph Leann:  Yup.

Hey The Lovely Steph Leann... this is an Akon
Tonight's theme is songs from the last three years, which will all but guarantee that I haven't heard of most of these tunes. I'm a podcast junkie, and I also tend to hear the same 400 songs over and over and over, and only about three or four songs per year make it onto that list.  And the mentor tonight, Akon, won't help me learn alot of these songs either. 

Her:  Who is that guy on screen?
Me:  Akon
Her:  A... who?
Me:  Akon.  A-K-O-N
Her (pause):  Who?

When I think of Akon, I can only think "Whooo-hooo!  Weee-hooo!  Whooo-hooo!  Weee-hooo!" as featured in Gwen Stefani's "Great Escape", a good song to hear about once every three weeks or so.

Little Skylar Laine comes up first, singing a song that Jimmy Iovine says, "Here's a tune from Pickles that none of us really knew", which is funny, because I am very familiar with "Didn't You Know How Much I Loved You" and like it very much.

Like I would give up a legitimate chance to show
a pic of Pickles
This song is a strong, powerhouse ballad that shows off  the vocal prowess of Pickles--and yes, she does have some strong vocals--and does the same for Little Skylar Laine.  I can dig it.

Randy the Dawg agrees with me, saying this was "in your wheelhouse!" and says, "picture perfect pitch!"  J-Lo loved it.  Creepy Uncle Steven, wearing the stretched out skin of what looks like a python, loved it too. 

And now comes the dude ALL the chicks are digging, Colton Dixon, and he's singing a song from Skylar Grey called "Love the Way You Lie".  Who is Skylar Grey?  What is "Love the Way You Lie"?  I thought that was an Eminem song with Rhianna backing it up?  And as he starts rehearsing, it IS that Eminem/Rhianna song... but a slow version, non-rappity version.  Weird.

Sitting at a white piano, amidst a blanket of fog that rolls across the stage, complete with a string section, Colton brings it.  The kids in the front of the audience have their full arm-sway going, and I'm expecting to at least see a cell phone with a flame image on it, if not a real lighter.  And that, my friends, is a performance.

The judges loved it, as did each of us in The Cabana.

But who is Skylar Grey?

DUET TO IT!!!  Last week's duet was a success, so here's another one from Elise Testosterone and Phillip2!  They will be singing "Somebody That I Used to Know" by Gotye.  What?  Who?

So this is a Gotye? 
Except for the revolving image of one of those 3D pictures where you can see something if you stare at it long enough, the performance was stellar.  Both E-Test and P2 have great raspy voices and they harmonize really well together. 

The judges loved it, as did each of us in The Cabana.

But who is Gotye?

Jessica Sanchez, the little girl with huge talent and small personality, is doing a song by Jazmine Sullivan, called "Stuttering".  What... who is... what?

I need to get in my car and listen to three straight hours of "Top 20" channel on my SiriusXM radio.  I'll have to hear lots of crap, but will hopefull get an idea of what's out there now.  I feel like everything after "Hey Soul Sister" by Train doesn't exist.

Once again, J-Sanch does a great job, and sounds nearly perfect, even on a song that I have never heard.  But watching this show late at night, when I got less than 5 hours sleep both last night and the night before, and worked a good 8 hours today (beginning at 515am) means that you need to keep me awake.  And she barely does.  Great talent, no personality.

The Lovely Steph Leann agrees as she's asleep now.  The judges however, loved the fool out of it.

But who is Jazmine Sullivan?

The one name I struggle with constantly is Joshua's last name.  I've used "Lidet", "Ledit", "Lidit" and now, I think I've figured out, its "Ledet".  Dont' ask me how I missed this so far, but there ya go.  And Ledet freaks out when Seacrusty shows him a video of Fantasia wishing him luck.  From Fantasia to Mantasia, she says. 

He is singing Bruno Mars... finally an artist I've heard of!  And he's doing "Runaway Baby"... a song I've never heard of.  Gotta admit though, I like it.  Its fast, flashy and fun, which sounds like the name of an edition of "13 Going On 30". 

Creepy Uncle Steven implore Joshua to get the number of the trombone player.  J-Lo gushes.  Randy the Dawg also gushes.  And I liked it too.

This is Jason Aldean.  However, it would not have
taken a whole lot of convincing to get me to believe
it was Chris Cagle.  Or James Otto.  Or Luke
Bryan.  Or Eric Church.  Or Josh Turner. Aren't
they really all the same now?
DUET TO IT!  The next duo of the night pairs Colton Dixon and Little Skylar Laine doing "Dont You Wanna Stay", a hit for Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson.  And for the next few minutes, I'll do my best to not only stay awake, but also keep The Lovely Steph Leann afloat. 

Worth noting--this is the second song of the night where young Little Skylar Laine has sung the words "we are making love" or a close variation of that. 

Creepy Uncle Steven earns his nickname by saying "you just made love to each other by singing that song", which jabs the ongoing rumors that Colton and Skylar are an item.  J-Lo loved it.  Randy the Dawg just sorta, kinda liked it.  And I know the feeling.

Hollie Cav has her turn next... and for the first time, I'm actually noticing her accent.  Like, her Brit accent.  Its really, really prominent.  How did I miss that?

Anyway, she's going "Perfect" by Pink.  She has stripped it down, made it into a ballad of sorts and I thought she sounded really, really good.  I mean, "Perfect" is not perfect, but it'll do.  The last note of "Perfect" was perfect, though.

And J-Lo gives her the "You look beautiful tonight" line.  Crap.  What a crap line.  Creepy Uncle Steven tells her it wasn't perfect, and again admires her looks.  Randy the Dawg says it wasn't perfect, but she did redeem herself again. 

Both The Lovely Steph Leann and I agree that it sounded really good. 

Seacrusty tells us that Phillip2 is doing a huge smash from Maroon 5, a song called "Give a Little More", another song that I've never heard.  Guess I missed that one too, or perhaps it wasn't a smash?  He's got guitar in hand, doing it acoustically.

He sounds good, but he seems like's doing more yelling instead of singing.  I liked it, but didn't love it. 

Creepy Uncle Steven loved it.  J-Lo barely liked it.  Randy the Dawg says, "...it is kind of a radio song, if that's what you want..." which makes me think... Yeah Randy, getting their song on the radio... that's what they want.  But I digress.

DUET TO IT!  Since there are 7, and they have done two duets already, that leaves 3.  So why not just put all three together, right?  Joshua Ledet, J-Sanch and Hollie Cav are taking on Kelly Clarkson's "What Doesn't Kill You (stronger)". 

Her:  Those earrings are killing me
Me: Who, Sanchez?
Her:  No, Hollie.   Those feathers on her chest are part of her earrings.  Really?

The song went on a little long, and was just okay. 

And that leaves the one, the only, Elise Testosterone, who sees a video from Jason Segel saying he's rooting for the E-Test and sets up the "Jeff, Who Lives at Home" movie promotion. 

Back to E-Test.  I love this chick's voice... she's doing "You and I" by Lada Gaga, probably my favorite Gaga song.  In fact, when it was really popular last year, the first time I heard it, I thought it was a country song with Carrie Underwood.  Okay, I only thought that for half-a-minute, but still... I do like this song.

Elise Testosterone is doing her thing, and sounding great, like usual.  That said, she did sound a little off on a few, very few, notes. 

Randy the Dawg just went nuts.  J-Lo loved it.  Creepy Uncle Steven also loved it. 

Here's my picks, first to worst: 

E-Test and P2's "Somebody that I Used to Know"... Colton Dixon's "Love the Way You Lie"... E-Test's "You and I"... Joshua Ledet's "Runaway Baby"... Little Skylar Laine's "Didn't You Know How Much I Loved You"... Hollie Cav's "Perfect"... Phillip2's "Give a Little More"...  J-Sanch's "Stuttering"... Hollie/Josh/Sanchez's "What Doesn't Kill You (stronger)"... Colton Dixon and Little Skylar Laine's "Don't You Wanna Stay"...

And now, the results..

The J-Sanch Save

And now, here we are, with American Idol results.  The Top 7 face results, and we know there is a save coming.  So, bring it.

THIS IS

AMERICAN

IDOL'S

SAVE EPISODE

We see a run of clips from the performance episode, including Colton Dixon and Little Skylar Laine saying "no!  no!  no!" to those dating rumors. 

Seacrusty tells us that tonight, America has put one more Idol dream in danger of losing out forever.  He asks Randy the Dawg about the vibe, and Randy the Dawg says that he's always scared of losing someone big at this point.

Fast forward through Group Song

Fast forward through commercial break

Fast forward through Ford Music Video

Fast forward through Twitter promo

Now, let's get this done.  Hollie Cav and J-Sanch comes centerstage.  This is the time when they divide up into two groups of three, then make one Idol pick between the two as to which one is the Bottom Three.  Jimmy Iovine says that these are two great techincal singers, with J-Sanch using habits that she should continue, and Hollie Cav using habits she needs to re-learn.

Dim the lights, here we go!  After the nationwide vote, Hollie Cav is sent to stage right.  J-Sanch then heads to stage left. 

Fast forward through commercial break

Fast forward through Blinky James Durbin

Fast forward through commercial break

Now, more results.  Phillip2 and Elise Testosterone come down centerstage.  Jimmy Iovine says something that... well, I sort of dozed.  Its been a long few days.  Anyway...

Dim the lights, here we go!  After the nationwide vote, E-Test is sent to hang out with J-Sanch, while Phillip2 goes to the other side with Hollie Cav.

Fast forward though commercial break

Fast forward through Jennifer Hudson and Ne-Yo

Fast forward through commercial break

Now, Colton Dixon and Joshua Ledet leave Little Skylar Laine on the Couch of Comfort, and come centerstage.  Jimmy Iovine raved about both of them. 

Dim the lights, here we go!  After the nationwide vote, Joshua Ledet is sent to stand with E-Test and J-Sanch, while Colton Dixon goes to Hollie Cav and Phillip2.  Seacrusty then goes to Little Skylar Laine, and we see her highlights from last night.  Jimmy Iovine dug her, and hopes she doesn't end up in the Bottom Three.

After the nationwide vote, Little Skylar Laine is safe.  And then Seacrusty does it... he asks her to choose the group of three that she belongs in... and she goes back to The Couch of Comfort.  Seacrusty places her with Colton Dixon, Phillip2 and Hollie Cav, telling them all that they are safe.

The Bottom Three?  J-Sanch, E-Test and Joshua Ledet.  Lots of "whoa!" and "aww!" in the audience.  Jimmy Iovine says this shouldn't be the Bottom Three.  Randy the Dawg says America got it wrong, while Creepy Uncle Steven says flat out, they'll use the save tonight on one of them.

The Lovely Steph Leann:  Out of those three, I want J-Sanch to go home
Me (staying silent)

Fast forward through commercial break

Back!

Dim the lights, here we go!  After the nationwide vote, Seacrusty sends Joshua Ledet back to the Couch of Comfort.  The person who will get saved tonight, even though they got voted out, will be... Jessica Sanchez. 

Guess what?  I'm okay with this.  She's boring  American Idol is looking for a total package--talent (check)... Looks (check)... fashion sense (check)... energy (uh...)... personality (um...)... 

The Lovely Steph Leann:  I knew it would be her.  Guess how I knew that?
Me:  How?
Her:  She's boring.  She can sing, no doubt.  But she's boring.  Her songs are boring, her look is boring, she's just boring.  She makes me fall asleep.

As J-Sanch starts to sing, J-Lo just jumps onstage and screams "Give me that mic!" and when she procures a mic, J-Lo yells "This is crazy!  We are totally saving her!"

So, Jessica stays.  and she sings the show out.  And The Lovely Steph Leann says, "Oh geez, she's going to sing anyway..."

And now I wonder... do they eliminate two next week?

Sunday, April 08, 2012

The Idol Eighties

Just rolled up into town from a trip down in Andalusia, Alabama, seeing the family and showing Campbell off to everyone.  I even took my computer with me, thinking I'd have a few free minutes to blog something or another, give you, my fair Coffee Drinkers, something to read and look at, but alas, by the time 1140 rolled around last night, I was tired as a one-armed paper hanger.

That being said, I have much to blog, some funny, some pics, and some personal, but first, we have a little matter of a episode of American Idol to discuss.

Now, I must tell you going into this performance episode, I already know who has been voted out.  The Lovely Steph Leann is in the dark, as she's good at avoiding such info when she needs to not-know, but I managed to see.  It wasn't my fault, though, I wasn't looking for the answer, I just happened to get a message that said "Hannah Armstrong left a message on your timeline", meaning my Facebook wall.  And dear, sweet Hannah, not knowing that I had not seen the episode nor heard anything about it... her message told me exactly what I was avoiding.  So, I know.

We still need to review, though.. so let's get to it. 

CAUSE THIS

IS AMERICAN

IDOL

Its 80s night, and we'll be hearing 80s performances as well as 80s duets.  We see a music montage featuring Mr. Mister's "Broken Wings", seeing their sad faces as Hey Jun! (he'll take a sad song and make it better) says goodbye last week, but their determination (and backhanded insult to the others who have said goodbye) by someone saying "Its down to the best of the best".  If only we could get rid of D'Crappensuck... if only.

This week's mentorship, joining Jimmy Iovine, is from Gwen Stefani and Tony Kanal from No Doubt. 

D'Crappensuck is first up.  He'll be singing some song from El DeBarge, which means he found something that lets him to his falsetto so annoyingly much.  Gwen Stefani says that D'Crappensuck is the "total package".  Yeah, total package... of CRAP!  Ha!

I don't care if it was good or not, I can't bring myself to start to like anything this kid does.  Heck, even with Obama, I'd give him credit for doing something right (I'm just waiting for that moment), but with D'Crappensuck?  Not so much.  The judges love him, of course. 

Eh.

Randy the Dawg says, "El DeBarge is somewhere saying 'oh my gawd!' from that performance..."  No, Randy the Dawg, El DeBarge is somewhere saying 'oh my gawd' because he's locked up. 

Here comes the much loved Elise Testosterone!  She's doing "Hallelujah" by Leonard Cohen, made famous by Jeff Buckley.  She then tries "I Wanna Know What Love Is" by Foreigner. 

E-Test sounds good--not great--but good, and does a mature performance with the song.  I think "Hallelujah" would have been a true Idol moment, but when Gwen Stefani tells you "do the Foreigner song", you do the Foreigner song. 

Randy the Dawg calls her out on pitch issues, and Creepy Uncle Steven, who was swaying to the music when the Idol cameras showed him, says it was the wrong song choice.  Really?  And J-Lo gives her the death line... "you look beautiful tonight'.   That sucks. 

Islands in the stream... that is what we are.. no one in between... how
can we be wrong... sail away with me... to another world.. where we
rely on each other... uh-huh.. from one lover to another... uh-huh
DUET TO IT!!  Colton Dixon and Little Skylar Laine bust up on Kenny & Dolly's immortal "Islands in the Stream", a song that, as corny as it is, you just cannot help but like.  I think everyone likes this song... Bill Clinton.  James Hetfield.  Brad Latta.  Courtney Love.  Barry Manilow.  They all love this song.  Who doesn't? 

Since country is her forte, Little Skylar Laine does better in this than Colton Dixon, but its admirable that she doesn't just blow it out and show him up. 

And Seacrusty, that drama starter, makes a comment about the "strong chemistry" up on stage, while Colton gives him the death look of death.

And now, let's hear it for Phillip2, and he'll be singing "That's All" by Genesis, and in rehearsal, he looks not only terrible, but also like he's in pain.  Gwen Stefani says the same, that maybe he wasn't quite getting there... though she does feel like he'll be in the "top tops" eventually.

Me: Did she just say "top tops"?
The Lovely Steph Leann:  That's what she said.

As for Phillip2, it was good.  Again, not great, but good.  I like the original, and I get a kick out of how Phillip2 eats the mic John Mayer style, but this was just decent. 

The judges loved him.

That's all.

DUET TO IT!

So, what's better than one appearance from D'Crappensuck!?  TWO, count 'em, TWO SONGS by D'Crappensuck!  That's right!  Appearing with Hollie Cav, they are set to butcher sing The Pointer Sister's "I'm So Excited".

All I can say is, as a child of the 80s, I cannot hear this song without thinking of Jessie Spano singing this to Zack Morris when he tries to take away her caffeine pills. 




When asked about the performances so far, J-Lo says, "I loved D'Crappensuck!"  When this guy goes, she might just kill herself, live, on-air.  Seriously.  Randy the Dawg then asks the question, "I wanna know, who's got to have IT tonight?!"

The answer?

R&B Crooner Joshua Lidet is singing one of those songs that I don't care for, Simply Red's "If You Don't Know Me By Now"... personally, if I'm talking Simply Red, you should check out "Sunrise".  Great song, great sample of Hall & Oates "I Can't Go For That (no can do)"

By the way, I remember listening to Casey Kasem's American Top 40 back in like, 1987, when Simply Red was in their heyday... apparently, they were called "Red", but as they were going on stage, the guy introduced them as "Red Simply Red" due to a miscommunication.  Frontman, and red haired Mick Hucknall, whispered loudly, "No, its Red!  Just simply Red!" and the MC says, "Okay... Simply Red!".  There ya go. 

I like Joshua Lidet, but he kinda sounds exactly the same from week to week.  Great voice, great style, but nothing new. 

The judges loved it, of course.

Jessica Sanchez is taking on her second pre-crack Whitney song of the season, this time being "How Will I Know". 

The Lovely Steph Leann says, "I'm glad she's not singing 'I Wanna Dance With Somebody', that song is overused."

J-Sanch kicks off the song a little shaky, but then digs in and sounds great.  Like usual.

Okay, so I wanna be the guy who sets up the background images for the performances. No joke, there is an image of a cassette tape in the background with the word "CASSETTE" written on it.

Me: So, they have to spell out that its a cassette?  Are these kids that ignorant?
The Lovely Steph Leann:  What do cassette tapes have to do with "How Will I Know"?

The judges loved it, of course.

RANDOM NOTE... So the two people who wrote the song "Waiting for a Star to Fall", Shannan Rubicam and George Merrill, also known as the duo Boy Meets Girl, wrote "How Will I Know" AND "I Wanna Dance With Somebody".  Now you know.

DUET TO IT!!  Because Idol can't get enough of Stevie Nicks,we've got Elise Testosterone playing Stevie to Phillip2's Tom Petty on "Stop Dragging My Heart Around".  They both have perfect voices for this, and truly, that was a great version of this song.  E-Test really shone, and helped picked up Phillip2's slight slack on the song.  Good times!

No Hollie!  No ma'am!  Don't do this!  Jennife Beals
barely pulls it off...
Here comes Hollie Cav, and she'll be doing Irene Cara's "What a Feeling... Flashdance".  Now, I hope that they don't do a bucket of water poured onto Hollie Cav as she leans over a chair, as you see her silhouette... since Hollie Cav is so young, that would be creepy.

BUT... if she wore leg warmers and the sweatshirt that had the collar cut out and draped off her shoulders, that would be seven shades of AWESOME.

I think Hollie Cavanaugh sang it decently well... but she didn't seem to ever get into it.  The judges agree with me on that.  However, after hearing all three judges pile on, I think she was better than they gave her credit for.  This could be bad for Hollie Cav. 

DUET TO IT!!  Seacrusty asks us if we'd ever wondered what it would sound like if Joshua Lidet and J-Sanch teamed up... on my way back from South Alabama, I spent over an hour wondering that very thing!  Thank you, Seacrusty!!

They are doing the Aretha Franklin/George Michael mega-hit from the late 80s called "I Knew You Were Waiting".  I used to love the foo' out of this song, spending a few months atop my mental Favorite Songs list... it was followed by Chicago's "Will You Still Love Me", strangely enough, which spent a few weeks atop my mental Favorite Songs list.  Don't ask me how I remember that. 

Anyway, good duet by J-Lid and J-Sanch.

The judges loved it, of course.

I think that we should invent a drinking game, where every time Randy the Dawg tells us he worked on a song or worked with (name drop here), you take a shot.  You'd be eligible for Al-Anon by 38 minutes into the show.

Colton Dixon is doing a song that made The Lovely Steph Leann say, "YES!"... the song that makes Tony Kanal and Gwen Stefani say, "every time we sit and write a song, we want to write this song... we wished we had written this song"... the song that I considered one of my favorites of all time, Top 100 definitely, and one of the most beautiful covers I've ever heard by Nichole Nordeman...

Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time". 

I think I like this performance, but being Colton Dixon, I really wanted to like it more.  I think the fact he keeps singing "Time After Tie" bugs me, and I'm not sure I like the sped up arrangement of it all. 

The judges are going nuts, though, and I guess with Colton Dixon, that's okay. 

Finally, in the Pimp Spot, its Little Skylar Laine, and she's doing some cheese with "The Wind Beneath My Wings" from Bette Midler, featured in the movie "Beaches".  Great movie.  I shed one single tear as I watched it, though that might have been my subconscious trying to show Ginny Kochen that I was a sensitive guy as we watched it with Miranda Bryant, Bobby Black and Mandy Stewart in Miranda's & Mandy's 4th floor room in Shackelford Hall back in like, October 1993.  Ginny and I only went out once.  Taught me a lesson, that being, "Even though girls say they want the flowers and romance and such, they really don't want it until well into a dating relationship, lest they think you are coming on too strong and might be a little creepy."  There's a story there, I tell ya.

Anyway, Little Skylar Laine just killed that song.  I mean, made it her biz-nitch, pardon my Frez-nench. Personally, it was the best solo performance of the night, and I think it was not just the voice, but also the country arrangement. 

My list, from first to worst, of performances: 
Colton & Skylar's "Islands in the Stream"...  Little Skylar Laine's "Wind Beneath My Wings"... E-Test & P2's "Stop Dragging My Heart Around"...  Phillip2's "That's All"... Colton Dixon's "Time After Time"... Joshua & J-Sanch's "I Knew You Were Waiting"... Elise Testosterone's "I Wanna Know What Love Is"... J-Sanch's "How Will I Know"... Joshua Lidet's "If You Don't Know Me By Now"... Hollie Cav's "What a Feeling... Flashdance"... That crap from D'Crappensuck, where he sucked Hollie Cav down into his crappiness... That crap from D'Crappensuck by himself...