Idol mediocrity

Since American Idol is the new ‘Up With People‘ [only without all the do-gooders plus a huge amount of fame; slightly ignoring the fact the old ‘Up With People’ isn’t actually defunct as I had believed], you’d think they’d pick better songs for the entire group to sing together.

I really thought that there was a list of songs that they got to choose from – and that there were people giving the contestants assistance…It doesn’t seem so, tho.  The group performances are even worse than the individual performances.  With so many great songs – how is it that they’re picking so many losers?

I’m seriously pissed that Alexandrea didn’t get enough votes.  I actually voted last night.  For her.  Until the lines were too busy. [Ok, so I’m not a die hard, and I kinda forgot to go back and vote after Project Runway – sue me.]  Seriously – that wild haired rock girl should be going home.  Or that awful Kady girl.  Actually, I think Alex’s performance tonight was awesome.  I’m totally disappointed, and I’m wondering who [the ethereal] America wants.  David Archuleta gained some more respect from me, seeing as how Alex seemed to be his fave girl, too.

I don’t care about the guys going home – they actually should be going home.

I just don’t see how anyone could believe that this is the best season, yet.  It seems to be shaping up to be a disappointing one, though.

the big let-down

I’ve already stated my dislike for the Carly Smithson girl.  I’ll just move on to Syesha Mercado.  Singing “Me and [Mr.] Jones”, her performance was lackluster.  The last note was great.  Her video was nice though…except for that weird baby cry thing.  [That was slightly scary.]  I don’t think she’s in danger (crossing fingers), cuz she’s one of the best girls.

And then there was Brooke White.  Overall, I’m surprised that it seems as though the singers aren’t allowed to transpose the songs to fit their ranges a little better.  [I actually noticed this last night as well].  But she did ok.  For some reason, her ‘Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm’ vibe is waxing old with me.  -I guess you think this song is about you, don’t you?- The judges liked it better than me, but I believe there is much worse to come in this show.

Ramiele Malubay underwhelmed with a song I’ve heard before but I can’t name…I love her, and I’m ready for her to break out next week – if the trend holds, it’ll be 80s week.  Kristy Lee Cook performed a solidly – solid performance of ‘You’re No Good’.  Excellent song choice for her.  It didn’t require too much in the way of styling or range, so it fit.  I agree with Simon, that country might be her place to fit in.  I think she could do really well with more vocal practice – her tone is good, and once she increases her range [and further recovers from the flu] she’s got a chance.

But here comes the girl I love to hate – Amanda Overmyer.  She looks really good with that bandana on her head, and while I’m glad that she likes to read…I think that’s the most disturbing ‘reading is fundamental’ commercial I’ve heard.  Then she walks out with that hair.  The hair.  Oh, the hair.  AH!  The performance was something.  Not great.  Or necessarily good.  The song was out of her range – ‘Carry on, My Wayward Son’?  No.  I’m not sure what she should’ve gone for this week [perhaps Janis] but what she chose didn’t work.  I’m actually kind of disappointed.  When she goes home, I want it to be because she has the least amount of talent of those left.  Not because her hair looked like crap-on-a-stick and she picked a bad song.  [Although when she does leave, it may be partly due to poor song choice.  Picking the right one can be tough.]

Actually, I think that if I were giving anyone advice on doing well on Idol, I’d suggest practicing songs from different genres, and becoming familiar with a style that works for you.  Along those lines, I’d encourage someone to familiarize themselves with two or three songs from the major themes [60s, 70s, 80s, British, rock, etc.] that have been done on the show.  Songs should be recognizable, fit your range in the original key,  and upbeat or meaningful.  The song shouldn’t be too popular, though.  The more popular it is, the more tempting it is to do either an exact copy or do some wild and crazy arrangement that alienates the audience.  Finding a tangentially famous song can give people a feeling of nostalgia while leaving room for more creativity – just the thing to endear you to the fans and the judges.

Alaina Whitaker – Hopelessly Devoted, from Grease.  Almost a carbon copy of the original.  Some bad notes in there.  And the dress?  It actually is heinous.  The whole skirt of it was just dreadful.

My girl Alexandrea sang ‘If You Leave Me Now’ – and I really like her.  A lot.  She tackled the modulation well, and overall, I thought it was good.  Of course, I’m not all that familiar with the original.  Simon said she was in and out of tune, but Randy and Paula didn’t say anything about it…since I didn’t hear it [although that could be cuz I don’t know the song], I’m inclined to believe that Simon was incorrect on that.  But I’ve not ever seen both Randy and Paula miss a chance to say the non-word ‘pitchy’.

I’ve noticed that there have been several issues tonight with volume – the band is getting better sound amplification than the singers.  It’s not entirely hurting Kady Malloy, since I think she’s been off-key a lot. A LOT.  Sometimes, Randy and Paula lie.  Cuz that thing was terrible.

Asia’h was a cheerleader!  Ready? OK!  -Oh no…She started off so poorly, I’m almost afraid to play the rest of it.  Voice shaking, she forgot the words.  Can she dig herself out of this hole?  ::crossing fingers again:: I hope so!  Well, she definitely finished well.  I was holding my breath for a minute, but she made it through.  I think Asia’h needs to keep working on her personal style.  [I was so not into her skirt.]

So tonight was an escapade in poor song choice.  I thought for sure that someone would sing Donna Summer tonight.  And I thought it would’ve been excellent if one of the better singers had tried ‘Do You Know Where You’re Going To?’  A night replete with disappointment.  Oh well, we’ll see what tomorrow brings…

that whole bootstraps thing

So there’s this dude.  He grad’s from college and decides he’s gonna get himself a book deal.  How, you say?

By “abdicating” his middle-class status and “starting over” in Charleston, SC.  He lived in a shelter for a time, got a job as a mover [day-laborer], and started working his way out of the (artificial) hole he’d put himself in.

He was gonna do it for a year, and see if he could save $2,500 and get an apartment.  10 months in, he had a truck, and apartment, and $5k.  He had to quit, then, cuz of a family thing.  But it was a success, anyway, all because of his attitude.

[needless to say, he’s white]

And here we go again.  Some white guy fakes a hard lot in life, gets out of it ok, and says ‘See? I told you it could be done!’  I’m sure he’ll get lots of publicity, and I know tons of white people who will latch on to the message like the gospel truth [a few black people, too].   Yeah, all it takes is a good attitude, some hard work, and some self-discipline.  Your only obstacle in life is yourself.

Whatever.  If you’ve met the real world, you know that privilege makes a hell of a lot of difference.  Meanwhile, a few other people are talking about this guy too.  [h/t Racialicious]

is it ’09 yet?

I am tired. I was tired last fall, but I’m really tired now. By now we all know that the media is not neutral, they pick their champions. But right now, I can’t figure out whose side they’re on.

The NYT decided to blow a whistle on John McCain for having a lady lobbyist. Not the proverbial whistle. But a whistle nonetheless. It seems that maybe this was a preemptive whistle, though, and might’ve worked better with more research prior to actually blowing it.

CNN’s Headline News played a video montage of Hillary and Barack as Tom and Jerry with an Alicia Keys soundtrack (Fallin’) on that loop that they have [which seems to work out to about once every 20min.] I can’t find a link to the vid – but trust me, it is not a life-enriching piece of cinema. It was a slow news day, apparently. [They also reported on the fact that there was NOT a storm in Chicago today – mmhmm]

SNL and Tina Fey dug in for Hillary this weekend:

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But Tina’s parting words created a ripple of backlash across the ‘tubes as bloggers of color and Obama supporters challenged her comment that “b*tch is the new black”. We all know that can be taken two ways, so – when she was on such a good roll for Hill – why’d she have to take it there? For some, her last comment takes away any validity her preceding statements might have had. And it seems like this is Hillary’s problem within her campaign, as well. So much good stuff, but then folks associated with her campaign, or her husband, or she herself, will say/do something that dances across the racist line when talking about Obama.

Then, this evening, I got an email from my dad (he loves to forward stuff, and though he doesn’t do this with any other form of media, he tends to believe everything that he gets in email form) ~ Continue reading

the dudes

All ten guys sang tonight…a few impressed.

david_a.jpgDavid Archuleta (Imagine) is the one to beat, without a doubt. He also had the best intro video. [There were an awful lot of guys talking about what great musicians they are and then screwing up their performances with crappy song choice/vocals/instruments.] He talked about meeting the Idol Finalists from Season 1, and getting to sing ‘And I am Telling You…’ for them. There were vid clips of him singing and you could see Kelly and Justin [among the others] listening. Kelly actually came over and talked to him and gave him a hug or something – very cute. Right now, I’d say he’s got the best sense of how to win this thing.

david.jpgDavid Hernandez (Papa Was a Rolling Stone) had the first great performance of the night – only topped by David A [the last performance]. He chose a song that was good for his range and his style. He didn’t stick to every single original note, which made it more interesting and showcased his vocal talent, but he maintained the backbone of the song and its character to allow for maximum nostalgia points, and genuine respect for doing a remake well.

chikezzee.jpgChikezie’s piece (I Believe) went much better than last week. There was even one moment that seemed to endear him to the audience [“…when you know my name, when you know my name…”]. I loved that. The rest of it was ok, but better than everybody else besides David A and David H.

david_c.jpgDavid Cook sang ‘Alright Now’. He did a good job. He can actually sing rock – as opposed to this other guy whose name I haven’t bothered to learn [since I don’t think he’ll be in the competition much longer anyway]. I kind of get the impression that he’s trying to ride Chris Daughtry’s coattails, and that’s a bit disturbing to me. I don’t think he has anywhere near the charisma that Daughtry has.

Frankly, no one on the show has the charisma of past Idol seasons. David A has something…more of an endearing quality than that of the ‘leader’ feeling you get from a Kelly, or Fantasia or even Carrie. You know what? He’s like a more sensitive/sympathetic Taylor Hicks.

Anyway, it’s a lil bit interesting to me that there are three Davids and two Jasons, this year. And also, the fact that a boy might win it this year, after all.

office gossip: religion in the workplace

There have been enough allusions about the fact that I’m a Seventh-day Adventist Christian, for folks to be picking up on that now. A conversation I had with an old co-worker last night illuminates why I feel so strongly about religious freedom in the workplace. Freedom for and freedom from.

At my last job, I worked a 12-hr swing shift:

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
        MUT-D   N
N N     MUT-D D  
D   N N N    
  D D D D  

[D=day; N=night; MUT-D=make up time-day]

Because I was unaware of the shift at the time I accepted the job [and the fact that it required work on Sabbath], I was surprised when they reviewed the schedule with us during our second week of training. I spoke to someone in HR and after speaking with my manager’s manager (and her manager), and also bringing in a letter from my pastor, we worked out the above schedule.

What I found out last night, from talking with my friend, is that apparently, news of my schedule arrangement reached far and wide across the site. [at its peak, while I was there, there were ~14k people employed there. I left when there were ~11k] Discussion of my “preferential treatment” continues there now, even though I will have been gone from there for 3 years next month. Continue reading

the Oscars – and the dresses

[i’m just starting to watch the show now (DVR)]

just a note: i was really feeling sketchy about Jon Stewart hosting – just cuz I don’t think he’s that funny without writers. So I’m going into this with…apprehension…

but the opening monologue wasn’t bad – it was better than I expected. not a laugh riot, but good.

and Jennifer Garner’s dress was bee-yoo-tiful. Black with awesome ruffles at the bottom.

I almost forgot how excited I am about ‘Get Smart’ coming out – I cannot wait! I loved that show [in reruns on NickatNite]…YAY – Ratatouille won!

Anne Hathaway and Katherine Heigl had some really great red dresses.

Amy Adams was understated in a dark green dress. The whole performance was understated, though.

Ooohwee, Jennifer Hudson! Wear that dress, girl! Awesome white dress. She looks good.

And Dixie Carter accompanied Hal Holbrook – cool – nod to Designing Women.

Didn’t get a chance to see Keri Russell’s dress in detail – from the back it looked nice. But the song from ‘August Rush’ was awesome! I need to see that. Interestingly [or not] enough, a friend of mine with a similar name pointed me to an article interviewing Jamal Joseph [the guy who wrote the song for August Rush]. Apparently he’s a professor at Columbia and just wrote a book about Tupac.

Tho I haven’t seen any of the animated shorts, I feel strangely gratified that “Peter and the Wolf” won. I love that story. I grew up listening to Sterling Holloway narrate the story.

Ewww. Tilda Swinton won best supporting actress. I don’t think she was prepared. She doesn’t seem to have done her hair, and she’s wearing a black sack. Meanwhile – Ruby Dee looked positively hot! I haven’t seen the movies – so I’m just basing this stuff on looks – it’s Hollywood, right?

Jessica Alba’s purple dress was very becoming…

I laughed out loud at something Jon Stewart said! I didn’t think it’d happen. His comment to Jack Nicholson was hilarious. That’s 1.

Ooooh. Sarah Polley nominated for an Oscar! Awesome! I’m just glad she was nominated – she’s a really talented girl. I’m gonna hafta look for ‘Away From Her’.

Dude. Wouldn’t it be so cool, to be a member of the academy and get to see movies for free? And then be able to vote, too?

Hannah Montana reprised the red dress fairly well. Kristin Chenoweth is not my fave singer/actress…Her voice…is annoying to me. Her dress is ok…a very ruffly tan/grey thing. Actually prettier than it sounds. But weird.

Forest Whitaker is awesome. I just like the way he walked in.

me = not into the song from ‘Once’. I’m thinking I wouldn’t so much be into the movie, either.

So as Jack Nicholson is introducing the Best Picture montage, did anyone else think he looked like he was scanning the room for more hot chicks? Meanwhile, I’ve seen 20 out of 79 movies that have won for Best Picture. Pretty awesome since I’ll watch almost anything but Oscar nominated movies…

Dude. There’s some 98-yr-old who’s still doing production design. Wow. That’s variety – he did ‘Fiddler on the Roof’, ‘The Birds’, and ‘Private Benjamin’ [and many others]. But Nicole Kidman’s dress was boring.

Ahhh, Penelope Cruz’s dress was much more dramatic. Very nice.

Woo! Another song from ‘Enchanted’ – but that dude totally…mucked it up.

Ok. I’m disgusted. I woulda been happy with any other song winning. ANY other song than this. [the one from ‘Once’]

And what’s the deal with the camera and Laura Linney? Is she taking each win personally?

ooooh, Cameron Diaz! Great Dress! yes – with a capitol D. Light pink with drama and flair – but not that crazy couture stuff – drama and flair within the realm of wearability.

Hillary Swank’s dress: black – and somewhat reminiscent of Halle Berry’s dress the year she won. Not in a copy-cat way, more of a silent tribute. Nice though.

Amy Adams black dress? Um, no. The top was kinda ugga-mugga.

Just added ‘War Dance to my Netflix queue. [I love spelling that word…queueueueueueueueue. Ok, so it’s late and I’m getting a lil punch-drunk.]

Yay! ‘Juno’ won something!

You go Helen Mirren. That dress makes you look like a real queen. Scarlet with silver and jeweled sleeves. Best of the night, I think. [And Johnny Depp is as hot as Daniel Day Lewis is decidedly disturbing]

wow. Denzel bald. Is it permanent? or for a movie? or just preference?

PS – the choices for movies this year, IMO, were sorely lacking. if going to/watching movies is about escapism, then these folks aren’t giving us much to escape TO.

So that was the Oscars, according to the shyness. Join us again next year, when (hopefully) we’ll have more festive choices, and more worthy comedies.


a note on racism/racist commentary

I find myself uncomfortable with groups of white people criticizing black people. I’m not saying that black people don’t have faults, or that it’s categorically wrong for a white person to notice and call a black person on their faults. But a group of white people discussing a black person and their negative traits? This gets me all kinds of crazy.

And I can’t really articulate why it’s not kosher. It’s just not. Maybe it’s cuz it feels too much like an attack. And racism is still too real – too fresh.

Consequently, I tend to limit my own comments about negative traits of prominent black people around white people. I’ve gotten the impression that if I make a comment first, this means the person in question is fair game, and the conversation will get away from my original point, or everyone will jump on that one point with a fervor that smacks of covert racism.

So, even though I’m not an Obama supporter, I find myself defending him when too many white folks jump on a bandwagon. It’s a tightrope, and I don’t know any other way of walking it.

This feeling of solidarity [for lack of a better term] is just as much out of self-preservation as anything else. It seems understood that we don’t talk about certain things in front of white people – that we present a united front for the benefit of the group.

And maybe that’s completely old-fashioned and outdated. It’s impossible, anyway, since there are plenty of black people who don’t ascribe to this ‘loyalty’ paradigm. That and, it’s not like we have meetings. Or even all believe the same things.

But I think this is part of the problem I have with Bill Cosby. It comes back to excatly what he started off with: ‘airing our dirty laundry’. There are arguments for and against, but it just makes me uneasy.

I feel like white people don’t need more ammunition against black people – there’s enough. So why encourage the discussion? Is it really helping?

Obviously we’ve not progressed as far as some like to think. In an online conversation in the last day or so, a white person accused of racism because of his comments about Barack Obama [which in this case, I wouldn’t actually classify as racist – except for his incessant proclamation of Obama’s well-spokenness] decided that he needed to list his pedigree to dodge the “you’re racist” bullet. So he lists a bunch of famous black people that he admires, and a couple Middle Eastern folks for good measure. Basically saying – I know who these people are [MLK, Ghandi, Morgan Freeman, Sojourner Truth, the Dalai Lama] and I like/respect them – so I can’t be racist!

We all know that’s ridiculous.

I don’t know what the fix is for this, yet. Liberal white people are determined to not be informed of their racism [no matter how blatant] and will give you every reason under the sun to prove how much they really love people of color. As long as ________. [you fill in the blank]

so. that’s the frustration I’m dealing with right now. carry on.

the results show

(or – I think I’m gonna die of not surprise)

Two dudes went home. Yay.

And two of the worst girls went home [Amy and Joanne].

Icing on the cake? Paula’s new vid doesn’t suck. I could go without seeing her in lingerie, but otherwise – I liked the song. Randy feels a little fake with the guitar, but he can do whatever, I’m listnin to her.

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can’t wait to see what the ‘theme’ is for next week’s show. or not.

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the requisite Idol commentary

It has been said that this season of American Idol holds the most-talented group of contestants. I do not agree. Maybe they’re just not showing the talented moments on tv. We’re in the top 24 stage, right now, 12 girls and 12 guys. Last night was unspeakably bad. Like – actually – I can’t talk about it. I fast-forwarded through most of it cuz it sucked SO bad. There may be …two? salvageable guys?

The girls, on the other hand, actually lend themselves to review – so here they are:

kristy.jpgKristy Lee Cook, “Rescue Me” – nothing spectacular, but she was on key, for the most part, so that’s good.

jo-anne.jpgJoanne Borgella, “Forever” – I just don’t like the tone of her voice. It seems to border on shrill. Maybe she just doesn’t have a lot of control. Whatever the issue, the performance wasn’t very good. She’s prettier than her voice.

alaina.jpgAlaina Whitaker, “Love You More Today” (?) – THE worst song of the night – sung very well. I hated the song. Passionately. It was terrible, but she brought energy and warmth to empty words and a lackluster tune. I hope she gets to stay.

amanda.jpgAmanda Overmyer, “Baby, Please Don’t Go” – I haven’t liked her from the beginning. I’ve tried. I just don’t like her. She performed well. But – ugh. I do not like her. Or her hair.

amy.jpgAmy Davis, “Where the Boys Are” – I really like that song, so it was really sad to hear it done so badly. I actually fast-forwarded through most of it. Maybe she’s really sick and nervous and that’s why her voice wobbled and wouldn’t stay on pitch. That could be it. If she makes it to next week she’s gonna hafta step it up.

brooke.jpgBrooke White, “Imagine Me and You” – Poor song choice. She needed to pick something better for her range. She’s not going anywhere though, because she has a passing voice and her looks/personality will carry her at least a couple more weeks. [if not much further]

alexandrea.jpgAlexandrea Lushington, “Spinning Wheel” – Possibly my favorite performance of the night. Sung well, with attitude and inflection. And an excellent song choice. I love this song, so I’m completely biased, but it’s gotta say something for me to think she did it fair justice for an early Idol rendition. I think Simon was furthest off-base with his critique on this song. [He said he didn’t ‘get it’.] I will say, though, that there were better singers on the stage tonight.

kady.jpgKady Malloy, “Groovy Kind of Love” – I had no idea this song was actually from the 60’s. I know Phil Collins’ version and that’s it. This girl’s probably not going home, but the song has been done better. WAY better. I’m not sure she’s got longevity in thie competition, though.

asiah.jpgAsia’h Epperson, “Piece of My Heart” – Stellar performance. Maybe best of the night. This girl’s got to go far – she’s good.

ramiele.jpgRamiele Malubay, “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me” – Very well done. She’s probably one of the best with control and musical styling. I’d actually love for her to win it all, but I fear that versatility is not her strong suit. I’ll cross my fingers anyway.

syesha.jpgSyesha Mercado, “Tobacco Road” – Good job. Not my favorite, but very well done, just the same. She’ll be in for the long haul unless something crazy happens.

carly.jpgCarly Smithson, “The Shadow of Your Smile” – Good, but not great. I don’t really like this girl’s personality.

Paula’s hair: scary. Why are the extensions hugging her so tightly? It’s just too long and a lil bit scary.

So far: guys – 0; girls – 5.