Thursday, April 27, 2006

Reaction to Idol posts

Well, my shallow ploy seems to be working, as I'm getting replies again. :)

(My wife is trying to steal my mojo by making AI posts, too, I notice)

Kellie indeed was sent home yesterday. I was quite disappointed in her for the last two weeks, as I thought she might show some improvement over time. She's appeared to be depressed lately on the show, and I wonder if the pressure got into her head. She's got a couple of months to rest up before the American Idol tour this summer, so maybe she can pull it together and start a career.

I stand by my predictions of Katherine and Chris being the finalists. If Taylor can survive one more week, I predict that the Elvis week will send either Elliott or Paris home, and make him the second runner-up. He's got to get past whatever the theme is this coming week, however.

On an unrelated subject, NC State University is seeking a new basketball coach. Resumes should be sent to Serious inquiries only, please.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

More Idol

Tonight's contest was the most disappointing one all season. The bar was set low, and still many of the prospective Idols failed to jump over it. Why the heck Idol chose to publicize the appearance of Andrea Bocelli (whom no one that watches Idol would know) instead of publicizing David Foster's appearance, I can't fathom. Foster showed tonight that he's forgotten more about singing and performance than Simon could ever learn. Take the bottom 6 contestants from this season and let them work with Foster for a month and then let them compete against the top 6 and I'd bet we'd see fireworks. If I were the Idol winner, I'd sign over half the contract earnings to Foster just to have him produce my first album.

Now then, onto my criticism:

Katharine: She broke rule #6 tonight and got spanked. Even though Whitney can't sing her way out of a paper bag right now, apparently she's still untouchable in the judges' minds. I think she did a great job, myself. Not in danger.

Elliott: David Foster got on his case for the same things I said last week. No risks or originality. He made Elliott take some risks on riffs and it worked like a charm. See what I mean about Foster? He's a genius. Elliott is not in danger this week.

Kellie: Ohhh...bad bad bad bad song choice and lackluster effort. She broke rule #7 in a big way. Kellie, this may end it all for you. Easily the weakest performance of the night two weeks running. DANGER!

Paris: Performed a song that is supposed to be a light sorbet and covered it with chocolate sauce, chopped nuts, and thick merengue, and it was bound to cause a serious intestinal blockage. Still pretty good, though it may violate rule #6. Possibly in danger if Kellie's fans come through for her again.

Taylor: Took a great song choice and whiffed. Taylor has been giving lip service to the verses in order to get to the big choruses. It backfired big-time tonight. Rule #7 in play again. DANGER!

Chris: Picked a pretty obscure song, but totally killed it. POW! over the right field wall. Not in danger, and back out in front as the favorite.

Bottom 3: Taylor, Kellie, and Paris.

Out: I'm predicting Kellie goes home unless the text messaging station outside the bar in Albemarle, NC glows in the dark tonight.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Comment Trolling: American Idol analysis

OK, folks. I've been slack, and you've noticed and I don't get comments any more. This will now change, as I will unashamedly bring up the subject everyone wants to talk about: American Idol.

This season of AI has been my first - I never watched it regularly before now. I hear that this season has been the best, and I must agree that it is definitely a better show than the few spots I caught here and there in previous years. After watching Rockstar:INXS this summer, I had to admit that the singing on INXS was much better than AI. This is still true, but AI is a different animal, in that it encourages singers with little or no experience to try out, whereas INXS required a resume' of sorts to get on the show.

This season has pleased me and disappointed me. We had a strong final 12 (with the exception of Kevin Covais), and a broad selection of musical styles to choose from amongst them. What has disappointed me, however, is a fairly low musical IQ to go with all that talent in the contestants.

Here's my individual analysis of the final 12:

Ace Young
Ace had girl appeal. He wasn't the most masculine contestant and his song choices were notoriously poor. His best performances were "Father Figure" and "Tonight I Want To Cry". America grew tired of Ace in week 6, and he was in the bottom 3 all but one week after that. I predict we'll never hear from him again.

Bucky Covington
Bucky survived a long time on his personality, but his voice wasn't strong enough to pull off a win. Even when he got to sing country, where he was strongest, he was frequently drowned out by the backup band, and was off-pitch a lot of the time. Bucky was surprisingly good in his song choices, though, and I think that kept him around much longer than expected. His best performances were two of his last three: "Real Good Man" and "Best I Ever Had". If Bucky can get a good agent and some vocal coaching, he just might be heard from again in the future.

Chris Daughtry
Chris is the favorite to win this thing. He is versatile and has a good musical IQ. He's also experienced, fronting his own band back in McLeansville, NC. Chris nearly lost his audience when he sang a Creed song back in week 6 and Simon accosted him for being too "indulgent" with his song choices. Chris took that advice to heart and has chosen to show that he is more than just a "rocker" since then. His appearance in the bottom 3 this week is an anomaly and won't be repeated. I think that Kellie's poor performance this week caused a sympathy vote swing at Chris's expense. If Chris is lucky, he'll be the runner-up and get a better contract than the default one given to the winner (a la Clay Aiken).

Elliott Yamin
Elliott is quite talented, but totally unpolished. He sings vanilla vanilla vanilla, which is good, but boring. He also refuses to take risks on high notes or difficult arpeggio runs, which will doom him. He lost my vote during the Queen show when he declined to finish "Somebody to Love" the way the song demands to be finished (with a high note and arpeggios). Take some risks, man! I predict his demise in the next couple of weeks. Elliott will probably never be heard from again after AI wraps up.

Katharine McPhee
I put her just behind Chris as the front runner at this point. She's got it all. If she can just find a decent dress to wear occasionally. Her song choices have held her back, but lately, she seems to have gotten it figured out. Her last two performances, "Who Wants To Live Forever", and "Someone To Watch Over Me", have been masterpieces and closed the gap. Katharine will be big-time someday. I predict she has a nice recording career and ends up headlining in Vegas. If she wins, she will eclipse Kelly Clarkson as a star (not right away, but eventually).

Kellie Pickler
She's #3 at this point. Kellie gives new meaning to "raw" talent. This girl needs a manager and vocal coach because she's country gold just waiting to happen. Surviving one of the worst performances ever seen on AI, Kellie did it on sheer personality. Kellie has picked great songs except for two, "Suds in the Bucket" and "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered" last week. This indicates to me that she's smarter than she's letting on. If she had chosen Katharine's song instead (Someone To Watch Over Me), she'd have hit the home run her fans have been waiting for. Now that she's survived that debacle, her voters are exposed - they are voting for her, not for her performances. I predict that someone coaches this girl into a dazzling Nashville career. She could be the next Dolly Parton.

Taylor Hicks
You have to love this guy. Taylor is great, but has shown an annoying tendency to pick loser songs. Taylor is not very versatile, and he has to know that and choose songs that he can hit out of the park. I put him at #4 right now. Next week's theme will really challenge him, but I think, like Kellie, that he has his votes locked up every week, and how he does from week to week isn't really that important to his voters. Taylor will end up in Vegas when it's all over.

Paris Bennett
She's good. Damn good. If the girl only pronounced the lyrics correctly, we'd have something. It's annoying! "Live" is "Leave", "Love" is "Loaf", etc. The people that have been voting for her aren't enough to keep her in the competition much longer, I'm afraid. Paris was born 50 years too late, and I just don't think there is an audience for the music she wants to sing, the way she wants to sing it. I predict she'll go to college and lose interest in a singing career after AI.

Kevin Covais
He didn't belong on stage with the rest of these people. Very little talent or charisma. I'm glad he's gone, because his performances cheapened those of the other performers. If we ever see him again, it will be as an actor, after he grows up.

Lisa Tucker
She was a poor man's Paris. There's only enough room for one Paris. Sorry.

Mandisa has talent, and a heck of a set of pipes and a good musical IQ. I think her gospel style and her looks doomed her in this competition.

Melissa McGhee
Ah. Melissa. #1 example of how poor song choice can get you sent home. She made bad choices three weeks in a row and went home long before her talent deserved it. I wish Ayla Brown had survived in her place. Seriously, Melissa, how could you let Kevin outlast you? My prediction is that Playboy gets her to pose some time in the near future.

So that's my analysis. A lot of these folks let bad song choices send them home.

My advice to future Idol-wanna-bes:
1. Identify the threats and the losers early on.
2. While a loser survives, take risks with your style. As long as they are worse than you are, you're safe. Early in the season, it's OK to whiff on one as long as one total loser remains to get booted off ahead of you. Taking risks earns you votes. If you are the loser that's just hanging on, go vanilla and do something else to earn votes, like snark off at Simon.
3. Show personality and build a fan base early.
4. Get better every week. Don't relax and take a week off with something safe.
5. Pick songs the audience knows.
6. Do NOT pick a song by a current artist unless you are prepared to change it radically, or else do it better than the artist.
7. Once the losers are gone, you must swing for the fence every week.
8. Don't listen to the show's stylists unless you are completely hopeless on your own.
9. Listen to Simon's advice and ignore Paula and Randy's advice. Be nice to Paula, though.
10. Know what you do well and make sure you do it every week.
11. Don't let the guest artist pick your song for you.
12. Once your fan base is built, they will vote for you no matter what.
13. If the night's theme is your favorite, you have to hit a home run. No excuses. You can lose your fan base if you don't 'have a moment' here.
14. Be aware that it is the voters that keep you alive every week, not the judges. Suck up to the camera, not to Simon.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Sore and Happy

I can hardly lift my arms today. It was so hard to get out of bed this morning, that I called in sick. This is from wrestling with a roto-tiller and shovelling and raking and lifting bags of dirt on Saturday, followed by more lifting and then seeding and fertilizing the grass on Sunday. My parents came over to help on Saturday, and they were too tired to go to church on Sunday, so I could have predicted how bad I'd hurt today.

Did I mention that I love/hate lawn maintenance? Hate the work, love the results.

Saturday night, Bernie and I had to make dessert for Easter dinner on Sunday, so we took our tired and burned out selves and tried to make a cheesecake. I knew - KNEW, mind you - that I should consult the Alton Brown archives to make sure I was doing it right, but I was too tired and simply followed the index-card family recipe that mentions ingredients and the only mention of cooking technique was "1 hour at 375". It turned out about like you would expect. Brown, cracked, falling apart (but quite tasty, strangely enough).

For those of you who read Bernie's blog in addition to mine, let me give you the menu for Easter lunch, since she didn't mention it.

Celery with pimento cheese
watermelon rind sweet pickes
Devilled eggs

Main course:
Spiral-cut ham
Yeast rolls
Southern-cooked Lima Beans (known as Butterbeans to us)
Potato Salad
Cranberry jello cobbler

Lemon curd cake
Cheesecake with oreo crust (the aforementioned disaster)

Today, nature rewarded me with a rainshower, so I don't have to water the lawn. I've been a lazy slob and haven't lifted a finger all day. Tomorrow, back to work, then on the road for the rest of the week.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Haven't posted in a while

Not much of importance going on, but I'll give a brief update:

I've been home and not travelling for 7 whole days! Rah!

Sophie and Brian had their baby! Little Elise is at home and doing great. We will visit them later this week.

30-day walkthrough on the house happened yesterday and was fine. Looks like the punch list will be worked on.

Decorating is nearly done until we decide to buy more furniture. Just need to hang the pictures once we decide what and where.

We've been cooking lately and have been shaking the rust off of our skills and producing some nice stuff. See Bernie's blog for details.

We want to build a fence, and I've submitted plans to the HOA committee. We'll see how it goes.

That's it for now. I need to do a post on other subjects soon to liven things up.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


I'm home. I'm alive, and all is well. Phew.
My wife is right where I left her and so is the cat. Bernie apparently missed me a lot, and the cat is more of "'s you. Hi."

Got 3 whole hours of sleep in my bed, then we went out to run some errands and took my mom to dinner and watched American Idol.

If this sounds boring to you, go sit in a Carl's Jr for 5 days.

Incidentally, I saw a DVD of "The Aristocrats" while I was waiting in the airport. This is probably the funniest movie I've seen in my adult life, and I can't give it a higher recommendation than that. It's a documentary by Pin Gillette about an old vaudeville joke that professional comedians have been telling and re-telling (to each other) for decades, each one embellishing it as much as they can to make it more and more disgusting and vulgar. The best version of it on the DVD is by Gilbert Gottfried and it just howls. Good thing I was wearing headphones.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

You know what really stinks?

Being on the road on April Fools Day and not being able to perpetuate the annual prank, that's what stinks. Not getting more than a couple of hours away from this restaurant at a time, that also stinks. Not being able to eat decent food for 6 days, that really stinks.

At least I got a couple of bottles of local wine to take home. There's a little winery a block from my hotel. Funny thing, though...the winery gets grapes from other places - one of which is Paso Robles, where I visited late last year, and it looks quite a bit like Camarillo, where I am now. Go figure.

My cell phone started dying today. Got a line across the screen that wouldn't go away, so I took it to the Verizon store that was conveniently next door, and they replaced it. Also sold me an extended battery that was on closeout. That made me happy, so I splurged and got a handsfree that I needed.

Just one more full day and I can get on a plane and fly home and see my wife - for two days - then I'm off to Nebraska. The boss has already inquired about my schedule after that, so I think I'll be doing an Atlanta trip almost as soon as I get back from the next one. It's doing wonders for my self-esteem, since I'm obviously needed, but Jeez...can't we spread the trips out just a little?

Almost dinner time...wonder what I can find that's close by and not a burger?

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