My New Home

Monday, July 19, 2010

I Write Like Stephen King

I write like
Stephen King
I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

I couldn't pass up the temptation of I Write Like. I recommend trying it out because of the fun of having your writing analyzed by an impartial algorithm and compared to the works of real more famous writers. You'll have to find a significant sample you're at least somewhat proud of. For me, that was this post about the infamous George Plimpton hoax in Sports Illustrated. (I omitted the George Plimpton excerpts to avoid being told I write like George Plimpton.)

The result, as you can see, was Stephen King. I'm honored by the suggestion, but I have no way of knowing if it at all accurate. I've never read a Stephen King book before. Nevertheless, it's kind of scary, no?

Okay, it's not. I should still give him a try. If you do it, would you mind telling me what you find?

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Monday, July 05, 2010

Writer's Block: Honesty in Action

Now that's an honest picture.
I love this picture because it is as honest a portrayal of my family as I can imagine. Addison is about 75% posing for the camera and 25% laughing at Colin's refusal to sit still. Heather is about 25/75 the other way. Colin has just lost his 1% interest in posing, and I, in true 100% don't-take-my-picture fashion, am holding the camera.

The wonderful and the imperfect get along quite nicely within this frame. As a photographer (I'm not one, except by the most rudimentary definition) it can be pretty difficult to capture an honest image. As a writer, it can be paralyzing.

I have always felt that good writing demands adherence to two fundamental disciplines of human nature: 1) Keeping your eyes open to all truth; 2) Honestly telling the story of what you see. I call them disciplines of human nature because writers aren't alone in the need to follow them both. Everyone should be compelled to observe and tell with honesty, but a writer must mind that responsibility especially severely because the lies we tell persist in posterity. We can either skew or straighten the sight of our readers.

Herein lies a potential downward spiral of circular reasoning. Being honestly aware is no small burden for the depraved. I might be able to live with my own ignorance, but perpetuating it in someone else through the power of the written word stops me in my tracks. When I begin to write, I begin to notice, to open my eyes to the painful realities I have conveniently ignored for as long as writer's block has allowed. For the record, writer's block is a most forgiving accomplice.

As long as I am unwilling to tell the truth about who I am and who we are as people, the more comfortable I am in illusions and half truths and dreaminess, the longer I will go without fully opening my eyes. And the longer I go without honestly surveying the situation, the worse it gets. The worse the situation, the greater the sense of loathing that accompanies the prospect of writing.

So the part of me that's really good at rationalizing (which, incidentally, is the same percentage of me that hates to be photographed) tells me that not writing is at least a way of being honest. Ask me no questions, I'll tell you no lies, you know?

But silence may be the worst lie of all because it forces observers to fill in the blanks without any help from me, making a liar (or an unreliable guesser) out of their own imaginations. So I suppose writer's block is just an excuse to procrastinate facing or telling the truth. The only cure for that is intensified vigilance in observation and repeated acknowledgment of the trouble made plain before my eyes.

To improve I must write. If I don't write, I will regress. Even in inaction and silence, there is no idle state. Get writing.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Fun with Fireworks, Fun with Photoshop

If it were up to him, Addison never would have stopped running up and down that dune.
I decided to change the look of the blog again, as well as the fact that I haven't posted since Idol ended. There will be some new things, I promise. 

We went to see the fireworks tonight, and it was great fun. 

That is all.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Idol Eyes: The Finale

Ugh. They covered R.E.M. and Patty Griffin?

I can't. I'm sorry, I can't even describe how disappointed I am. I just felt like they weren't ready. Not good.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Idol Eyes: Top 3

Mighty Casey has . . . 
Three left. Penultimate show. We're getting short and sweet here.

Casey James
Okay, It's Alright With Me
At this point, the judges are completely extraneous. I mean, they are always kind of needless on this show because, aside from the one save they get to use, they have no vote. I don't really think that many people take the judges' feedback into account when they vote other than as a motivator when they disagree with the reviews. I think they might be right that the song was forgettable, and it fizzled out in a way that left the audience unaware of their cue to clap. But I did think the song suited Casey. It sounded cool. It wasn't annoying.

Kara doesn't read my blog, because she thinks Casey's audience is women and girls. That's cool. Casey sounds like he's intentionally trying not to sound like John Mayer. Unfortunately, it very closely resembled Mayer's live performances: stilted, detached, and full of weird guitar faces. I wanted the song to be over very shortly after it started. Things don't look good for Casey. Casey, on the other hand . . .

Crystal Bowersox
Come to My Window
This was a much bigger misstep than what Casey did. Crystal finally exposed herself as a mini-version of Melissa Etheridge. But she is, compared to the original, definitely mini. She doesn't have Etheridgian power, and all that song did was make the gap all the clearer for us. Not good. Not awful, but nothing to remember.

Maybe I'm Amazed
Crystal has sung two of my favorite sing-along songs this year: "Midnight Train to Georgia," and this. She did much better with Gladys. The pace of the song was all wrong. I'm not sure she got the lyrics right, and her transition into falsetto was iffy at best. That just doesn't make me want to vote for her. Crystal has backed into the finale.

Lee DeWyze
Simple Man
Lee seems to understand increasingly well what it means to build toward a climactic moment in a song, and he did that pretty well on this song. He also took a big vocal risk at said climactic moment and pulled it off pretty well. I really didn't expect this much from Lee. He's having a David Cook type season with less artistry and more aw shucks.

He didn't sing it as a polka? Darn. No bagpipes? Oh, but hey, the Pointer Sisters, the Pips, the Winans, and Whitney Houston circa '97. That was all kinds of wow. Probably the most explosive performance of that song I've heard. I don't know if explosive is what everyone wants out of that song, but it was pretty much vocal C4.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Idol Eyes: the Final Four

Batman Forever. Free Willy. The Graduate. Caddyshack. The movies that changed our lives.
I'm so ready for this season to be over. It hasn't been the worst bunch of singers ever, but it's hard to remember many of the performances. But we're at the point in the show when they have to do something special to advance. Unless, you know, they all keep serving up the mediocre stuff. Hopefully Jamie Foxx can repeat his inspiring mentor work from last season, but the summer-camp t-shirt gimmick doesn't fill me with excitement.

Lee DeWyze
You ain't never gonna win nothing singing Seal. You ain't never gonna win nothing singing songs from the Batman soundtracks. And you ain't never gonna win nothing singing out of tune. That was not good. It ended well, but mostly I was just glad that it ended. Oh dear, Lee, it's a bad time to lay your first real dud.

Michael Lynche
The Michael Jackson songbook is a lot more impressive than Seal, but we just can't leave the ocean mammals or the cheesy 90s movies behind. Free Willy? That said, I love this song (big shocker) but not the performance. It wasn't bad. He sang well. But it was very . . . yawny.

Lee & Crystal
"Falling Slowly" is pretty much the perfect song for these two. I don't know how much this duet business will count in people's minds and phoning habits, but if it carries any weight that's real good news for the both of them. That was cool.

Casey James
The I less-than-three Casey jokes pretty much write themselves at this point as he sings the signature song from The Graduate, so let's just sail right past all of them. Strictly musically speaking, he pretty much kicked the lemonhead out of that Simon & Garfunkel tune, and I genuinely loved it. But it wasn't the biggest vocal challenge in the world, which is kind of a big deal at this juncture. Not a big song. Not a big guitar. But it was a great song.

Crystal Bowersox
Caddyshack? Tell me Crystal isn't pinning her American Idol hopes on Kenny Loggins. Please. Tell me that, people. Tell me she isn't taking on the king of the soundtracks. . . . I'm waiting. Well, the song has started. "I'm Alright" is playing, and it's coming from the mild rasp of Crystal's larynx, so I have to assume there are no announcements coming from you. Oh, hey, she sounded good. Great, actually. But that was Caddyshack. Cinderella story, out of nowhere? Hmm . . .

Casey & Mike
Casey singing Bryan Adams is right down his alley. Michael's in a completely different alley, so it was pretty darn surprising to see the intersection of their disparate alleys work so well. It was pretty cool. Not mind-blowing, but cool.

I have no idea who's going home, so I didn't even bother doing odds for them. Gun to my head, I'd say Mike, but all of them deserve to advance yet none of them have done so well as to shock me by their dismissals.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Idol (Old Blue) Eyes

Might be the end of the line for Casey's choo-choo of soft-focus glory.
Harry Connick Jr. might be the coolest guy alive. But Harry, like Sinatra was to a greater degree, is inimitable. So doing the songs of Sinatra is the artistic equivalent of what a vocal challenge it would be to have Whitney Houston night. Having him arrange the songs and performing behind them is awesome, but I'm not optimistic (partially because Jim warned me in advance) that they'll be able to pull it off.

Still, this show is supposed to reveal who's got it and who doesn't. This should be informative if not entertaining.

Aaron Kelly
Aaron looks good dressed like a grown up. (When a critique starts with comments on your looks, AI performers, you shouldn't take that as a good sign, but this time it's not all bad.) I gotta say, the look helped sell the sound. The song exposed Aaron's weaknesses, most notably his lack of confidence, but I think it also revealed a lot of potential. The big problem though is that the top 5 isn't about potential; you're supposed to have realized it by now.
Odds of Going Home: 5 to 1

Casey James
Casey started shaky, finished strong. He was nowhere near as bad as the judges made it sound. To me, it sounded like Casey was just a few rehearsals away from perfecting that song, but according to Harry he was a rehearsal too early with his best work.
Odds of Going Home: 4 to 1

Crystal Bowersox
Crystal looked good too. Kara liked Crystal's phrasing, which was the very worst part of this performance. She was lost under the beat, she swallowed the key words in every phrase, and she lacked any lyrical continuity whatsoever. Crystal's still great, but that wasn't.
Odds of Going Home: 6 to 1

Michael Lynche
"The Way You Look Tonight," really is the perfect song. Michael didn't sing it perfectly, but he did it very well. He's also the very coolest of the performers, as Ellen alluded to it. And he wore the heck out of that hat. This week really played into Mike's giant hands, because this is not completely his sound, but it's closer for him than anybody. Except . . .
Odds of Going Home: 5 to 1

Lee DeWyze
Lee killed it. He really did. That drew applause from my wife. It sounded like if Michael Buble had testosterone. His "That's Life" just sounded real and natural and cool. The scary thing is, he's probably gotten better every week, which is a very bad sign for everybody else.
Odds of Going Home: Daughtry to 1

Now I'm nervous.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Idol Eyes: Shania Week

Siobhan went to the yell one too many times.
Casey James and Shania Twain on the same screen? That's a whole lot of beautiful, people. Give me a moment to prepare . . .

In the meantime, I just want to say that after a couple weeks of reflection (and a sudden reminder from Ms. Twain) that Simon was dead-on with his statement that Katie should have been singing country. Whether it's right for her or not, who knows, but there is no one for country fans to vote for on this season, and Katie could have owned that segment.

Okay, I'm ready.

Lee DeWyze
Still the One
Shania gave Lee some great advice, although it forced him to expose a weak spot in his repertoire: the soft and slow vibe. Lee doesn't have a middle ground between throaty emotional outburst and quiet contemplation. The first few bars were sleepy and sloppy, but once he opened up the song it sounded great. For the most part. Lee' definitely come the farthest, although I still wonder what Alex Lambert could have been had America the slightest clue about who belonged in the top 12. Oh well.
Odds of Going Home: 9 to 1

Michael Lynche
It Only Hurts When I Breathe
Lee could learn a lot from Michael, because he lives in the soft, slow, and tender vibe. I don't recall ever hearing this song, but I know it didn't sound quite like this. Michael is probably the best of the group at putting his signature on a song. It's weird, I think Michael is one of the best performers on the show, but I don't know if he has a chance of winning this thing OR succeeding in the business. Then again, he could be the next Jennifer Hudson, I don't know. I like the guy, though. I really like him.
Odds of Going Home: 6 to 1

Casey James
There was a brief moment, maybe 5 or 6 notes out of the mentor clip, when Casey and Shania harmonized together, and that got me a little excited. Casey's performance did that too. Wow. I think Shania absolutely shot a bullseye through Casey's psyche, and the truth of what she said came through in the song. He seemed like that guy who was a little worried the only reason he's in this thing has been his looks. And he finally decided to express himself musically. And also looked amazing. Moving on . . .
Odds of Going Home: 8 to 1

Crystal Bowersox
No One Needs to Know
The biggest shock of this one is the song choice. It's sort of a guilty pleasure of mine, but I didn't peg Crystal as the "guilty pleasure song" kind of girl. It seems too light and fluffy for her. But I'm glad she's taking on new things. I like that she made a personal statement in an Idol performance. I like that she played with the song so much almost to the point of improvisation. I'm just a little worried she's about to get Daughtried.
Odds of Going Home: hmm . . . I don't want to say. 7 to 1

Aaron Kelly
You Got a Way
Shania is a really good mentor. I mean, she's one of the all-time hit machines in music history, so I shouldn't be surprised. But up to this point all the singers clearly belong here. Aaron is just on a lower tier. But holy crap, he was leagues better than he's ever been. The teeny boppers who've been voting this kid through every week won't have to look back in shame upon their actions tonight.
Odds of Going Home: 6 to 1. Crazy, I know.

Siobhan Magnus
Any Man of Mine
Siobhan doing a straight-up rendition of Shania's original hit. All she did was add a high note and a Broadway finale. For me, it was an absolute Twain wreck (blame Ellen for that pun). Her rhythm was off. Her delivery was as bland and soft as unsalted butter. The whole thing was a syncopative mess. (I was going to say syncopatory, but it turns out that's not an actual word. Neither is syncopatorial. They are both such non-words that googling them results in zero results, which means this page should be the only result you'll find. If you need a one-hit google term, you're welcome.) They'll go back and watch this and see what Shania saw: it was bad.
Odds of Going Home: 2 to 1.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Idol Eyes: Idol Gives Up

It hurts to hear, doesn't it, Tim?
Alicia Keys mentors the final 7 in the ways of inspirational, off-pitch singing. I can't wait. So I won't.

Casey James
"Don't Stop Thinkin' About Tomorrow," complete with Huey Lewissian grit, Marty McFlyesque guitar solos, and Man-Barbie dreaminess. It started weak and pitchy and just fizzled out in a whimpering pile of yeah-yeah-yeah's. Inspire-o-meter: 5
Odds of Going Home: a very sad 4 to 1

Lee DeWyze
The unpolished throaty wailer takes on a really curious choice of song from a clean-cut perfectionist of a musician, Paul Simon. "The Boxer" is not what I think of when the Inspirational genre gets discussed, but he did alright with it. I kind of wished he had replaced the lai-la-lai's with "Lee DeWyze, Lee DeWyze, Lee-Lee DeWyze," but he probably made the right call. Inspire-o-meter: 7
Odds of Going Home: 13 to 1

Tim Urban
Is Tim going to give the best performance of Inspiration Week? Oh . . . no, no, not at all. I don't know what exactly you said to him, Alicia, but I think it may have been just the thing to get rid of this kid. His rendition of that silly little Goo Goo Dolls song was definitely not goo-good. Two words: Sha. Ky. Inspire-o-meter: the singing is a 2, but the fact that he is very likely going home is a 10.
Odds of Going Home: 3 to 1

Aaron Kelly
Aaron < R. in the battle of the Kellies. When I hear a 16 year old is taking on R. Kelly, I get a bad case of the heebie jeebies, I'm not gonna lie. Aaron's singing didn't help. If you believe it, you can achieve it? Hmm . . . I don't know how well you believed it. The judges, at this point, are trying to salvage the integrity of the show by being nice to these people, but this season is a disaster. Inspire-o-meter: 4
Odds of Going Home: Justin Bieber to Reality

Siobhan Magnus
Mariah and Whitney in one song? I hope you brought your claws, Siobhan, because one of those two ladies is bound to rush the stage and Kanye you into next week. All joking aside, this was a terrible song choice and a pretty boring performance. Without the intrigue of hitting the high notes, the song is completely without quirk, so Little Miss Quirky really should have picked something else and skipped the NyQuil bottle I have to assume she chugged before hitting the stage. Although it is pretty hilarious to say Siobhan is being too dramatic on Inspiration Night. Inspire-o-meter: 4
Odds of Going Home: 4 to 1

Michael Lynche
Remember when Chad Kroeger took an artistic break from the indie/alt-rock shackles of Nickelback and really let the art of Spider-Man consume him? "Hero" was not a great song for Michael. I thought maybe he could breathe life into it in an Andrew Garcia "Straight Up" kind of way. But it made him sound like a vocal lightweight. You really don't want to leave people thinking, "Well, he's not Chad Kroeger." Okay, maybe you do, but not in the way we were thinking it. Inspire-o-meter: Nickel
Odds of Going Home: Scary

Crystal Bowersox
Well, Crystal you really had to hear and see. Her "People Get Ready" was pretty much just a warning that the tears were a-comin' for her and for you. Pretty amazing. Inspire-o-meter: Damn, girl.
Odds of Going Home: Nil

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Idol Eyes: Double Elimination & the King

Talent has left the building.
So I didn't review last week except for a few tweets, and the judges matched my laziness by refusing to allow any of the contestants to leave. Mike got saved, two people are going home this week, and we no longer have to watch the judges pretend to deliberate whether they'll stave off execution. With Adam Lambert as Elvis's stand-in, this week should be fun. Here we go, here we go:

Crystal Bowersox
Crystal's singing Big Mike's song, "Saved," and she did your basic gospel rock track. I didn't love it. I can't remember how the song went, and I just heard it thirty seconds ago. I mean, it rocked. It rolled. It kinda bored me to death. Oh, and look: Kara's wearing a camouflage parachute. Fun!
Odds of Going Home: 12 to 1

Andrew Garcia
Andrew is clearly an Elvis guy. I hope he does "Suspicious Minds," but I'm not sure it will matter. I don't know that he can really hope to avoid the bottom 2 this week. He's doing "Hound Dog," which isn't surprising, since his best songs are completely devoid of lyrical complexity. I like this guy. I like his voice. I like the way he almost took out the judges with his mic stand. But that fell flat. Will anyone ever look back on this performance with fondness? Kara's criticizing Andrew for not being Elvis . . . yeah, guess what, chica? Nobody's Elvis but Elvis, and he's . . . well.
Odds of Going Home: 2 to 1

Tim Urban
Oh crap. Is Lambert gonna really teach this kid who to do something slightly less snoreworthy? Oh, okay, no.  He started out all staccato and robotic in his rendition of "I Can't Help (Falling in Love {with You})". He had about 4 seconds of great performance, and hundreds of other second-long doses of crap. And can I just say how fed up I am with the use of singer/songwriter as an adjective? May I? Thanks. I am fed up all the way to 200. For perspective, I'm fed up with the Cubs losing at about a 250. Thousand.
Odds of Going Home: Apparently never, no matter what

Lee DeWyze
Hey, Adam convinced Lee to stop doing his Droopy impression (killer, by the way) during every performance, and the advice really paid off. He finally looked comfortable on stage, albeit in a singing-like-this-hurts-like-a-thousand-blisters kind of way. "A Little Less Conversation," brought a little bit more facial expression. I dig this cat.
Odds of Going Home: 10 to 1

Aaron Kelly
Aaron looked like he was afraid Lambert would eat him during the mentor segment, and that fear seemed to carry over into tonight. He even forgot to wear "Blue Suede Shoes." Did you see SNL when Justin Beiber was singing provocative lyrics to Tina Fey, lyrics he clearly recited by memory cuz the boy's got no idea what the rock's going on? Yeah, that just happened again.
Odds of Going Home: 5 to 1

Siobhan Magnus
She did "Suspicious Minds," and she also got great advice from Lambert, which surprisingly didn't consist of "scream more." To me, it was her first really complete performance. She showed there was, in fact, a segment of her vocal range between deep, brooding treacle and glass-breaking shrieks. Kara's an idiot. Simon turned deaf. The judges really aren't paying attention. I mean, she's not an amazingly polished performer, but Siobhan can perform like crazy, and not just literally.
Odds of Going Home: 9 to 1

Michael Lynche
Nobody can top Cartman's performance, but Mike's "Ghetto" was so smooth and gripping. I'll say this: his performance was the only one all night that made me care in the slightest about what the song meant. Michael being in the bottom 3 last week was high idiocy. His place as the potential loser was ridiculii. There aren't three performers better than he is. Wake up, America.
Odds of Going Home: Stupid to Dumb.

Katie Stevens
Be believable? Huh, who would think that advice would work? Katie's "Baby, What Do You Want Me to Do?" should have been interrupted by a little reminder from Lambert, because she obviously forgot the gist. She kind of sang like she was mildly irritated, not angry. She practically yawned the first 30 seconds of the song. Not good.
Odds of Going Home: 5 to 1

Casey James
"Lawdy Miss Clawdy," a song with which I was completely unfamiliar, sounded like a song I'd actually want to hear again. Novel concept. The song climaxed early and trailed off fast, but it was still miles ahead of most of these people. I think sometimes when they so obviously rush the show, the contestants sense what's going on and rush their performances a bit. It was like Casey was afraid he was going to force the end of Glee off America's DVRs. It will be less of a problem in the coming weeks, but it doesn't strike me as particularly fair. Ironically, Glee started a bit early, and I've got to finish this stupid recording to see the first part of it. Ugh.
Odds of Going Home: 13 to 1

Here's who I think is on their way out: Katie and Andrew. It's hard to care at this point with all the dreadful that shows no sign of leaving.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Idol Eyes Migraine Substitute

I can't do an Idol recap this week, at least not tonight. Computer screens + my eyes is a five-minutes at a time deal right now before it triggers a migraine and I get nauseous. If I'm watching Tim Urban sing while that happens, so help me, I will yak all over this keyboard.

In lieu of that, I'll give you this little episode from the Kellogg house tonight. Addison has been quoting Shel Silverstein poems lately; he just loves them. So tonight before bed he treated me to a recital of "Ridiculous Rose." Here goes:


Her mama said, "Don't eat with your fingers!"
"Okay," said Ridiculous Rose.
So she ate with her toes.

And then he added, "What if her name was Ridiculous Rutt?" Peals. Of. Laughter. Mostly his, but I'm not made of steel, what am I supposed to say? That's not funny? 

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Idol Eyes: Top 10 Usher in the Soul

Two hours and 10 contestants give Ryan Seacrest plenty of time to talk with Usher about his new album. Which would be great if I were bulimic. So let's just try to muddle through somehow.

Siobhan Magnus
Siobhan picked a song that I can't remember ever hearing and I don't want to hear again. I know Chaka Khan is supposed to be this goddess of soul, but I don't know too many of her songs that deserve air time in the 21st Century. She's just not one of my favorite soul singers. Come to think of it, I don't even count Chaka among my top 5 favorite Khans (Cobra, Genghis, Kublai, Shere, and Ricardo Montalban). "Though the Fire" burned with not-goodness. The only thing worse than the garbled, funky mess was the 10-minute judges' review. Ugh^10.
Odds of going home: Nah. There will be much more suck to follow.

Casey James
It's time for the guitar to say goodbye. At least it will be next week. But to be honest, Casey could just go up there and smile, and a billion people would text "vote" to 5702. Crap, I think my wife just caught me staring dreamily at the screen. Time to wrap up. Uh . . . yeah, he's talented, and he doesn't need this show anymore. He really doesn't fit the mold of AI.
Odds of going home: 300 to .0036

Michael Lynche
Big Mike picks good songs and performs them well. He hits his notes. He connects with his audience. He doesn't have an off switch. I love that he was positioned behind the judges' table. It was like he was saying, "Forget you four, I'm singing to the people." He's really something.
Odds of going home: not if there's anything right in the world.

Didi Benami
Didi broke down performing for Usher, which I find fascinating. It had me looking to see if she could display just enough of that emotion to make us feel with her and not so much that we feel for her. But in all that, I think she just missed the rhythm of the song a bit. She wasn't nearly as bad as the judges made her out to be (which they have made a habit with Didi), but she's not doing incredibly well.
Odds of going home: 5 to 1

Tim Urban
Tim, a dud with hair, sings Anita Baker, maybe the best ever at blowing people's minds with understated soul. This has all the makings of a snoozapalooza. Somehow, the song seemed to suit him. But it still made me yawn at the innermost part of my being. Randy outsinging him woke me up a bit. Ellen saved the segment. She's perfect. The whole round of critiques was absolutely brilliant.
Odds of going home: 1.1 to 1

Andrew Garcia
I'll give Usher this: he's giving some really good advice to these people. He may have just saved Andrew's season, because this thing sounds good. Yeah, there it is kid. He's still not the best singer on the show, but he finally did something exciting with a low-key cover. Very nice. Prediction: 7 mentions of "Straight Up." (Shockingly, they all made an obviously intentional effort not to refer to it. Only Ryan called the song by name.)
Odds of going home: 11 to 1

Katie Stevens
Katie < Aretha is the biggest mathematical understatement in the history of numbers. Even comparing Katie's version of "Chain of Fools" to the one from School of Rock is off-base. The judges can love it all they want, but Katie should not be singing Aretha. And none of the judges seem to notice how close R&B and Country really are to each other . . . or how far apart Katie is from Aretha.
Odds of going home: 6 to 1

Lee DeWyze
"Treat Her Like a Lady." Okay, Lee, what do you got? I'll tell you what he's got: an innate ability to make old songs sound not as old. Maybe not 100% fresh, but day-old, and I'll eat that for a dollar. Even if he is wearing a Members Only jacket. Lee rocked that one out, and it made my wife cry a little bit.
Odds of going home: that really shouldn't happen.

Crystal Bowersox
Based on the trailer, Heather really wants to see Knight & Day. I say that because I'm sure this is gonna be great with no need for commentary. But what-what? She's singing Gladys Knight? Just let her sing people . . . shhhhh.

Chills. Man, I knew she could sing, but that was amazing. She showed she's better than what I thought she was. It doesn't hurt that "Midnight Train to Georgia" is a top 10 song for me. Amen, Crystal. Amen.
Odds of . . . no.

Aaron Kelly
Ah, the obligatory "Ain't No Sunshine" performance. He sounded better with Usher. Meh.
Odds of going home: Justin Bieber to 1

Who's in the Bottom Three? Didi, Katie, and Tim, who really must go.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Idol Eyes: Top 11, The Number Ones

Paige. Buh-bye.

When Ryan said the Top 11 were about to get the best of both worlds, I thought it would be hilarious if they all had to pick Miley Cyrus songs. But no, they have to pick #1's on the Billboard Hot 100 charts throughout history. And yes, Miley F. Cyrus is the first mentor of the season. I won't say I'm in heaven. But I don't always share things like that. So let's move on.

Lee DeWyze
Lee's singing "The Letter," and he's performing like he's trapped in the dirtiest phone booth in the history of enclosures. Don't be afraid to touch the walls, pick up the phone, maybe even step outside a bit, yeah? His singing was alright, not great. I think he played with the song a bit too much to where it was all riffs and no rhythm. The judges loved it (except Simon) and I think a lot of people like his Joe Cocker sound and Tom Jones outfit. I think he'll get there eventually.
Odds of going home: 15 to 1

Paige Miles
Ms. Miles is going where Phil Collins and Mariah Carey dare to tread. She might have worn a castoff from Whitney Houston's wardrobe from 1988, but she sounded like . . . Whitney in 2010. Girlfriend just had nothing. That was hard to watch. Tim Urban could go out there and hum a Gregorian monk version of George Michael's "Faith," and still not go home.
Odds of going home: Infinity

Tim Urban
The least crazy person in America is singing "A Crazy Little Thing Called Love" in true church musical fashion. That's the thing with this dude, he just can't make the jump from boy choir to boy band. It's like Michael Bublé without even that mild sense of understated flair. He's Michael Blasé. But as kill-me-now boring as it was, it was still a gazillion times better than Paige.
Odds of going home: Can we send America home for leaving so many lousy people here while infinitely better contestants got sent packing?

Aaron Kelly
Oh, poor Aaron. He's saying he has laryngitis, but we all know it was only a matter of time before his voice changed. I just didn't expect it to happen this year. Maybe it will add a Steven Tyler-esque crackle to his rendition of "Don't Wanna Miss a Thing." Maybe? Yeah, actually. This was the perfect song for this kid, and if he could have staved off puberty for another week, it could have been his defining performance. As it was, it was good enough to get him on tour.
Odds of going home: Not now.

Crystal Bowersox
Finally, Crystal sang a Joplin song. Obviously it rocked. She is a bit understated, and Ellen (as usual) nailed the criticism. Crystal does seem the slightest bit guarded. She seems afraid to be too good. For the first time, I'm genuinely excited to see what comes next from Crystal rather than just being content to know it will be typically good.
Odds of going home: Seriously?

Michael Lynche
Big Mike does not have a problem connecting. He really didn't have to perform after his little Miley interview segment, but I'm glad he did. One thing I love about Michael is that he doesn't take a single note off. He understands he's performing, and I don't know that he stops performing . . . ever. He can also sing real good.
Odds of going home: If home is the top 5, 3:1.

Andrew Garcia
Andy "Heard it through the Grapevine" that he had a free week, so he phoned in a Marvin Gaye cover. I don't see how Andrew can remain in this thing very long, because he doesn't seem interested in letting us know he can sing. Maybe he can, I don't know. But that was a yawner. I also think the dude might be stone-cold drunk.
Odds of going home: Soon.

Katie Stevens
Fergie. Hmm. Seriously, I got no idea how this song ever reached #1 on any nonsarcastic list. I just can't listen to that. It wasn't good. It did feel like Karaoke as an institution went back to high school.
Odds of going home: How long is this freaking show?

Casey James
Unless Casey goes up and sings the national anthem Roseanne Barr style, I don't know what he could do to leave the show. Huey Lewis? Okay. I'll skitch along behind that jeep. Actually, that's pretty much what Casey is doing: biding his time and hanging on for the ride. Judging by the quality of this week's performances, he can get by doing that for another four or five weeks. But sooner or later he needs to do something different and lose the guitar.
Odds of going homo: Wait, what?

Didi Benami
People, come on! Do not sing songs with names like "You're No Good"! Challenge me! The obvious name jokes aside, the song is hopelessly dated. Who in this millennium would want to listen to something like that if they hadn't made an unwritten/unspoken commitment to write some kind of review about it? Gag.
Odds of going home: Paige to 1

Siobhan Magnus
Siobhan meets Stevie and dresses like Sheena Easton. I dig. If Adam Lambert was a shy, awkward girl with less makeup, we'd have Siobhan. As usual, she broke glass near the end. But it might have been her worst performance, just because it was entirely too lighthearted and meaningless. Still, why not? She's Siobhan.
Odds of going home: Granola

The bottom three ought to be Paige, Paige, Paige, Tim, and Paige. And Andrew. But Paige must go.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

My Name is Adam and I'm Here to Say . . .

I like to make up freestyle raps about my kids. I perform them as first-person narratives from their point of view. "My name is Addison, I rock the mic. Lego Star Wars is what I like." Or, "I'm Colin James, and I'm livin' large. Don't mind Charles 'cuz I'm in charge." That kind of thing. When Addison joins in, it can get pretty funny. Here's how we broke it down this morning:

Me: "Addison Michael, that is my name. Be-ing awe-some is my game."
Addison, without missing a beat: "And I like to lion tame!"

Then he adds, "I don't really. I just made that up because it rhymed."

Monday, March 22, 2010

Unpublished Poem

This one's untitled. And I have no idea . . .

So another star learned to say, "I love you."
So two more people fell into the heat
So magic feelings brought them together
And the credits rise across the screen.

But the love child has to keep on growing
His teeth tear through the ground of his mouth
And he doesn't understand except to cry
The raw screams of growing fill the house

And love's leaves fall to the cold, cold ground
And the trees stand naked reaching for the sun
Because August didn't say that January

Maybe it wasn't finished? I dunno.

Excerpt from an Unpublished Screenplay

I found this in an old notebook I had lying around.

Well, you probably won't see me too much on the weekends. My girlfriend lives in the 'burbs.

So you mean we'll never see you on the weekends or during the week.

That's not true.

Well you're not gonna bring her to this dump.

Come on, this place could use a woman's touch.

I could use a woman's touch, but you won't see anyone bringing their girlfriends over to help me out.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Idol Eyes: Top 12, The Rolling Stones

Idol is down to 12, the absolutely wrong dozen contestants. America didn't get all 12 wrong, but they let enough losers through that we'll have to watch some pretty awful performances of otherwise good songs, beginning with the Rolling Stones songbook.

Michael Lynche
"Miss You," is barely recognizable in Big Mike's hands, although in more of a Witness Protection sense than in an OMG, Britney Shaved Her Head kind of way. He's definitely creating his own sound, and I don't think any performer is going to step on his territory: very important, as we probably learned from Lilly's blend-in-with-the-alt-rock-folk early exit. Not a memorable performance, but not regrettable either.
Odds of going home: 13 to 1

Didi Benami
Weak start. Pay attention, Idol contestants: you cannot wait for the big notes to sing well. If your song starts out soft, you still have to sing strong, on-key, and passionately. If you don't, you'll miss the emotion, and you might (like Didi did) forget the words. You are, forgive me, "Playing with Fire," and Randy is smokin' weed. She forgot the words. She missed the biggest note and all the small ones. Boo.
Odds of going home: 5 to 1

Casey James
Aw, we get a look at the family of hotness. We also get to hear Casey open up his vocals a little bit, and he sounds his usual awesome self. Again, he's not blowing you away with how good he sings, but he's still performing like a rock deity. He sounds like Bob Seeger (again) and looks much, much better.
Odds of going home: 1 in a million

Lacey Brown
"Goodbye, Ruby Tuesday," . . . always a risk to sing a song that features the word goodbye too prominently. Lacey is so odd in her performance because I can't really tell if she's missing the notes on purpose. The line between jazzy and sloppy is fuzzy. Speaking of jazzy, sloppy, and fuzzy, those seem to be the three outfits she couldn't decide between. Someone should really make her pick just one before going out on stage.
Odds of going home: 9 to 2

Andrew Garcia
Andy's pops thought he'd be a custodian? Let's hope he can clean up the mess the last couple weeks have become. Don't shoot me, this thing feeds on word play, sometimes I have to give it junk food. He's singing "Give Me Shelter," and not in his typical, Hey, I'm gonna turn this into an impromptu coffeehouse acoustic track style. The good news, he finally did something with his voice we hadn't heard yet. The bad news, I kind of miss the wannabe "Straight Up" performances. But it was alright.
Odds of going home: 7 to 1

Katie Stevens
I thought Katie deserved to go home last week, and the producers certainly didn't do her any favors assigning her the Rolling Stones. I like her choice of "Wild Horses," though the irony could come back to bite her. Or drag her away. But at least she got the chance to justify her choice before singing. And look at that, she gave her best performance EV-er. I don't know if it's enough to save her (again with the rough beginning) but I think people will remember her enough to call a little bit.
Odds of going home: 347 to 46

Tim Urban
"Under My Thumb" goes reggae? I would normally scoff at this from an Idol contestant, but I give Tim credit for playing with the arrangement that much. His vocals are still so gosh-darn stinkin' golly straight-laced, I feel like the Men's Choir sent their vice president to reggae night at . . . church. I don't know. It wasn't great, but it wasn't the complete train wreck I expected it to be. Still, it didn't scream, "Bring Tim Back!!!" Or even whisper it all that briskly.
Odds of going home: 4 to 1

Siobhan Magnus
"Paint it Black." I want Siobhan to stick around as long as possible just to give me a chance to figure out what the rock is going on with this girl. Just as I try to compile some kind of formula on her, she sings one of her amnesia notes and I can't remember the rest of the song or the previous half hour of my life. She's like the film, The Red Balloon. What's going on? I don't know. I can neither remember it nor forget it.
Odds of going home: Grey

Lee DeWyze
I feel cold and soulless, but these stories mean nothing to me tonight. His performance of "Beast of Burden," is pretty good, though. He's got me debating which is tougher to cultivate: singing the right notes or singing with that sandpapery, hey, sweetie, the coffee's brewing texture he's got going. It was funny how they cut from a shot of Randy saying "dope" to one of Lee's gaping mouth. With Ellen on here, I feel like I'm wasting my time. That song almost came together like a hospital gown . . . priceless.
Odds of going home: 13 to 1

Paige Miles
We now reach the hardcore fraud part of the evening. Or so I thought. Paige's elimination-defying votes came on a massive debt of ear-worthy notes, and I think she covered the balance tonight. She did strike out on the opening phrase, and she wasn't consistent, but she finally showed she can sing a little bit. I don't like the laryngitis shtick, but here we are.
Odds of going home: 7 to 1

Aaron Kelly
He's adopted. Okay, this story found what's left of my soul I think. He's singing, "Angie," and he's got a fauxhawk going on, like when Jonathan Taylor Thomas wanted us to take him seriously. I can't do that for this performance. I wish this kid would lose the sweet, simmering romantic act and bring some energy, because I just can't buy this little boy as a serious, brooding love song singer.
Odds of going home: 6 to 1 (Honestly, it's probably closer to 1 trillion to 1, because this kid is getting Justin Biebered.)

Crystal Bowersox
"You Can't Always Get What You Want," plays regularly in my house to curb little-kid whining. I say that because I don't have much to say about this one. Crystal was her typical rocking self. She's good.
Odds of going home: Ohio

Are we just saying goodbye to one this week? I guess I expect Andrew, Tim, and Didi to be our bottom three, and Tim has reggaed his last rolling stone.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Idol Eyes: Top 16, the Guys

Why Keith Urban? Shut up, I don't know.

After seeing the remaining guys introduced, the performances seem like a waste of time. It's pretty obvious which two remaining guys need to grab their luggage and get the rock outta here, but where's the fun in that? Let's give the chumps one last chance to inspire my sense of cruelty.

Lee Dewyze
Fireflies? What are you, 12? The quality of his voice has some serious potential, but the quality of his note singing makes me skin want to come off. He finished well. He kinda looks like Elijah Wood on a Snickers diet.
Odds of Going Home: 20 to 1

Alex Lambert
You can't go wrong with Ray LaMontagne, unless you can't sing, and Alex can. I'm so glad he's coming along. He can definitely go further, and I think he definitely will. I really think he's the Allison Iraheta of this season. The cool thing is that he sang Ray without messing up the song or blatantly copying the style. Very nice.
Odds of Going Home: 30 to 1 . . . the crappy guys better find some magic vocal chords

Tim Urban
This is definitely Tim's best performance. And he should go home right now. I see a highly successful career in the Children's Music genre for Tim. He's just so darn deliberate. But his voice sounded much, much better than it has. And Ellen is awesome.
Odds of Going Home: 4 to 1

Andrew Garcia
Alright, the weekly attempt to completely reinvent a song commences. If I hear, "It wasn't as good as 'Straight Up' " one more time, I'm gonna have an aneurysm. For some reason I knew it would be "Genie in a Bottle," when I heard it was a Christina Aguilera song, and for some reason, I really liked it. There's something so Jose Feliciano-y about him. But I'm not entirely sure America will feel the same way. The dude needs to sing a song just plain normal, though. He's basically doing a Jimmy-Fallon-does-Neil-Young routine to random vapid pop songs, and if he keeps it up he might just break music.
Odds of Going Home: 9 to 1

Iron Man

Casey James
One impossibly sexy dude covers another . . . wait, that came out wrong. Keith Urban song, great choice. Holy crap, this dude is good. In this song, he sounds pretty much exactly like Bob Seger. Randy's an idiot. Kara's a fraud. There's no way Casey James is going home.
Odds of Going Home: Didn't you read what I just wrote?

Aaron Kelly
Oh dear. Don't sing a song with lines along the lines of 'When you coming home?' 'I'm already there.' Just a tip. Also, if you're going to sing those songs, try to not suck. When it was low, he was weak. When the song got big, he lost control. His voice is good, but his ability to use it is not coming on stage with him.
Odds of Going Home: Directly proportional to the texting powers of whoever the crap is making Justin Bieber trend on Twitter

Todrick Hall
Dude, just sing the dang Queen song. If you change it, you die. . . . Okay, he's singing the song. The performance had its moments, it started shaky, building, building . . . and then he pulls back at the climax of the song! Why? Dude! Why? Oh, man, I think he did a good job, and probably enough to save his sorry act for another week. But he had a chance to make it great, and he just kinda turned around and chilled for awhile.
Odds of Going Home: 5 to 1 if America has a memory; 10 to 1 if they don't

Michael Lynch
A phenomenal Diana Ross impression to start the song. Outstanding. I honestly don't know what he's singing, but I like it. I think it's his best performance so far, and I definitely think he'll be back. Maxwell, okay, I wondered. Alright, yeah, that was great. Michael's got something about him.
Odds of Going Home: Butter

Quick update: the guys are definitively better than the girls. It's not an enormous gap, but they're clearly better.

Who's going home? Dude, I don't know. Andrew Garcia and Tim Urban

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Idol Eyes: Top 16, the Girls

I'm still getting used to transitioning from Lost to American Idol, so if I refer to a bad performance as getting smacked around by the smoke monster, forgive me. The show is down to an hour and in a total rush, so I'll follow suit.

Katie Stevens
The hard part of "Breakaway," you would think, is the hammer-the-high-notes chorus. But since Katie brought the song down into a more attainable range, the chorus was a bit breezier, easier. The opening verse, though, was way below her power. All in all, there were about six notes she sang well. The judges can go on about song choice or image, but she just sang really poorly. And Kara has a new hair color, which is pretty.
Odds of Going Home: 2 to 1

Siobhan Magnus
A capella "House of the Rising Sun" intro? Good. The power finish? Awesome. The reason I'm asking myself questions? Because it's my blog and I can do what I want. There's also not much need for me to critique the song, because Siobhan kicked its tail. Randy touched on an important note by saying she doesn't listen to their advice. Bottom line? If you need the judges' advice all that much, you won't last long. And Simon will change his mind when he watches this again.
Odds of Going Home: No.

Lacey Brown
Do you know this song? (See, I'm asking you questions now.) I don't. And that's a brilliant move for Lacey, because she's making me like a song I can't remember ever hearing before, and she's singing the crap out of it. Another really great performance for the show, and Lacey's best ever. She still looks too colorful for Avatar, but whatever.
Odds of Going Home: 18 to 1

Katelyn Epperly
Oh no, the earth is moving under her feet. As Heather said, her hair kinda looks like a puppy dog. She sounded less like Carole King and more like Carrie Okey. I apologize for the awful joke, but it wasn't nearly as bad as the performance. Her singing wasn't awful, it just had that uneasy quality that said, "I think I can do a better job when I perform this on results night."
Odds of Going Home: 4 to 1

Didi Benami
Let's do two reviews. The first is the guitar playing: NOOOOOO! The second is the singing: yes, dear. I'm not sure which was more convincing, the degree to which the girl can sing or the degree to which she can't play the guitar. There was just no reason to play the guitar there. But she sang effortlessly and mellow but completely meaningful. Very nice.
Odds of Going Home: 11 to 1

Paige Miles
She's not singing that "Smile," is she? Oh. She is. And for the first time ever on this show, she's not smiling. That's weird. Oh, dear, it's like someone shot Toni Braxton. Paige really looked uncomfortable. Like people she loves are being held hostage and their lives depend on her performance. Aw, sweetie. I hope you told them you love them.
Odds of Going Home: Really, Really Good. And home is nice.

Crystal Bowersox
Girl, plug in your guitar. Can't hear it. And please start singing the . . . oh, my, there you go. Now your singing. Oh, she's ripping it. She's killing it. She killed it! Well, that was lovely. If you're gonna choose between starting well and ending well . . . she picked the right one. Very cool.
Odds of Going Home: 1 Billion Trillion to 1

Lilly Scott
Patsy Cline, huh? Sweet. She kept the country twang but sang it all Bjorky. I wouldn't listen to it on a loop or anything, but it's way cool. Lilly is Cyndi Lauper fun. The judges have to race through their praise of her, but she deserves more. I loved it.
Odds of Going Home: 15 to 1

Who's out: Based on these performances? (Yeah, I did it again.) Katie and Paige

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Idol Eyes: Top 20, the Girls for Real

Crystal Bowersox is back on her feet again. Kara has a major case of fountain hair. Ellen is still hilarious. And I'm a little disappointed I have to wait another day to see some bad singers sent home. Here we go . . .

Crystal Bowersox
Apparently there was a major soul memo sent around the AI office, because Crystal picks up where most of the guys left off. Her CCR homage, "As Long as I Can See the Light," was pretty smooth, nothing mind-blowing. But I liked listening to it. Is that enough? It works for me. Randy is channeling Paula with nonsensical philosophizing about truth and reality and unicorns, I think.
Odds of Going Home: 200 to 1

Haeley Vaughn
If your smile is surgically affixed to your face (and Haeley's is) you want to sing more Miley Cyrus than Kurt Cobain. That said . . . whoa. That was awful. She sang "The Climb" as though she were actually in the middle of scaling a mountain. The Big Rock Candy Mountain, maybe, but still it was painful. I just think you're supposed to hit notes and she didn't. And she's still smiling, even after Simon told her the deep dark nasty truth.
Odds of Going Home: 3 Heel Clicks and She's Gone

Lacey Brown
Oh, Lacey, you and your colors. It's like Tammy Faye Baker and Las Vegas had a baby girl. She took Kara's advice as literally as she possibly could, and she sang her cute little alt-pop ditty. Randy and Kara are infuriating me with their "do something with the song" garbage. She sang a nice song and didn't suck. That's all she really needs to do at this point. She doesn't want to be that poor guy whose best performance is probably going to be his "Straight Up" cover he did in Hollywood week.
Odds of Going Home: 9 to 1

Katie Stevens
I'm a little concerned that Katie and the others are falling into the classic trap of confusing her desire to please the judges with the need to wow America. The judges give you advice to help you be impressive, but basing your entire performance on their 30 seconds of criticism will suck the life out of your songs. Katie's definitely ensnared in that. The other trap: taking a cool, smooth song like "Put Your Records On," and thinking you can snooze your way through it. Corinne Bailey Rae flirts and teases her way through that song. Katie just sort of yawned. And NOOOOO! They're telling her to sing a song by someone her age just so they can tell her she's being a copycat next week. DON'T DO IT!!!!
Odds of Going Home: 7 to 1

Didi Benami
Oh, good, another soul song. "Lean on Me." And Didi changed the melody a bit, just like we all do in the shower. Her voice sounded pretty good, but her dancing-ish kind of thing felt like she was being jostled around by invisible cattle. Why cattle? I'm just trying to distract from the vicious critique from Kara. She probably said "that was not good" four times in 15 seconds, which is pretty rough. It was nowhere near as bad as what the judges are saying, but they seem to think this contest is half over. Guess what, judges 4: no one emerges as an artist in week 2.
Odds of Going Home: 5 to 1

Michelle Delamor
Girl's doing Creed, which frees her from any copycat, playing-it-safe accusations. It also precludes me from calling it awesome. Without a commercialized Eddie Vedder impression, "With Arms Wide Open" just doesn't sound like a good song. The person having the worst night: Randy. He keeps saying "do something with it," when he means, "Sing better." Michelle, take my advice: Sing better. Funniest moment: Michelle's fans don't even buy Kara's praise of the song.
Odds of Going Home: No. As bad as that was, people will remember how she looked more than how she sounded.

Lilly Scott
Sam Cooke might be the most generous musician of all time. His songs are more prone to reinvention than Madonna. You can't go wrong with Sam, because it always sounds new. Lilly did a fantastic job, especially at the outset. The beginning was so good I didn't even mind when the ending unceremoniously unraveled. But yeah, Lilly did her thing. She's letting people know who she is, and that confidence will take her a long way.
Odds of Going Home: Given the certainty of her continuation on the show, I want to take this opportunity to point out how strange it is that there's such a thing as even odds. Odds are usually odd, except when they're even. But I digress . . . 

Katelyn Epperly
The Scientist? By Coldplay? Okay, Mall Chick, let's hear it. Hmm. There's really no excuse for missing your opening note when you're sitting at the piano, except for that little fact that millions of people are watching. The big mistake Katelyn made with this was not stripping away the alternative feel. If she changed it up into a bit more of a pop song, it would have been outstanding. As it was, it was plodding and mournful, but not enough to be her funeral march. Kara is impressing me with how annoying she is.
Odds of Going Home: She's just too pretty not to be buried in votes.

Paige Miles
I was thoroughly disappointed in Paige last week, so if she underwhelms this week I'm sticking the fraud label on her. She picked Kelly Clarkson, which is a good move; she has good songs that aren't death-defying. But man, it wasn't great. I did see that her voice is strong, but her energy lacks a bit. And when she goes high? Yikes. I won't say she's going home this time, but I don't see how she can win big on this show.
Odds of Going Home: Thread

Siobhan Magnus
Siobhan having a mohawk is the least surprising piece of news I've heard since Mark McGwire admitted to using steroids. Her choice of Aretha's "Think" was more of a stunner. It wasn't perfect. Aretha has hats that could have done a better job. But still, it was a showcase. I don't ever want to hear that song again, but I still think she deserves enough votes to sail through. The review is spraying awkward all over the stage, and it's delicious.
Odds of Going Home: America, please don't let that happen. Please. Siobhan promises great television for months. Don't let me down. 

Who's Going Home: I'm disagreeing with my own odds, Haeley Vaughn and Lacey Brown are going home.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Idol Eyes: Top 20, the, wait

Crystal Bowersox is hospitalized. Ellen is hilarious. Kara is wearing a bathrobe and a brass chandelier chain. This . . . is American Idol.

Michael Lynche
This dude is his own episode of Glee. He's going to take on James Brown, which I think is a great move if it works. Let's listen . . . it's okay. He's playing it really mild, especially for a song punctuated with long instrumental interludes. You really have to tear through that with a voice like thunder, not pad it with velvet. We got the ginormous Velveteen Rabbit. Randy loved it. I just kind of liked it.
Odds of Leaving: 5 to 1

John Park
I like "Gravity." I'm not sure he's got the soul to deliver it. He does, however, have a wardrobe Simon can be proud of. This is really a duplicate of the first performance of the night but to lesser effect. He sang it so nice and melodious, but that song should rip a little. Maybe the problem with it is that the song is really a song John Mayer sings to himself, and Park was trying to sing it to . . . someone, I don't know.
Odds of Leaving: 3 to 1

Casey James
Casey bought and restored his own house? And he can play guitar well? Unless the secret inside the box is Gwyneth Paltrow's head, I don't see how this guy doesn't cruise to the top 5. I'll just say this: I think my wife is more jealous of how I feel about Casey than she's ever been about a female. Pretty funny watching Kara give him her Charlie's-flight-review-of-Maverick routine. She sees real genius in his performance, but she can't show that in there or everyone in that room will know that she's fallen for him. But I'm sure her critique was right on in her opinion.
Odds of Leaving: No no.

Alex Lambert
This kid is "Aw Shucks" personified. And he's the third of the first four to go really soulful . . . but he's the very first to absolutely nail it. He mulletized John Legend to perfection. Oh, man, this is the first performance of the season that I've actually been excited about. His voice sounds unique and strong and smooth. Very cool. Standing, snarkless ovation.
Odds of Leaving: Holy crap, I hope not.

A brief intermission here. I miss Paula. She'd be crying and standing and rambling.

Todrick Hall
Todrick's asking the Turneresque question about what love has to do with it, and the answer is . . . not a whole lot. I'm not in love with a performance that takes an extremely catchy song and turns it into a greased pig. I just now listened to this guy sing, and I can't even remember how it sounded.
Odds of Leaving: 5 to 2

Jermaine Sellers
Wow, who proclaimed this soul week? And who scalped Bobby Brown and put his hair on Jermaine? And what psycho, bow-tie-wearing fool coached Jermaine to butcher the arrangement of "What's Going On?" I'll tell you what's going on, Jermaine, you sound like you're auditioning to be the crown prince of elevator music. I'm actually too bored to yawn.
Odds of Leaving: Really, really good

Andrew Garcia
Who knew Andy Garcia was a breakdancer? Anyway, he's singing a James Morrison song, and I have no idea how it normally sounds, so the changes mean nothing to me. But I do like how it sounds. Although he lost the energy for a little while, he still seems to have a good sense of what he's doing up there. He's a great singer, but . . . I don't know. I was a bit bored by the end of it. Kara's advice is no advice, which is massively annoying. Dude just needs to pick a good song and sing it well. Not rocket science.
Odds of Leaving: 15 to 1

Aaron Kelly
Will this show never end? Aaron's growing a facial hair. He's singing rather well about his girl, but I don't believe for a second that he has a girl or that he's ever so much as faced a temptation. The performance is a waste because it's nothing. He's just singing. And who knew the Vienna Boys Choir kid would have trouble with the falsetto?
Odds of Leaving: 8 to 1 and in bed by 9

Tim Urban
Tim's singing a song that I like so much, I hesitate to even listen to him sing it. But he's not bombing. I just can't imagine this guy making it very much farther. I also can't get over how much he resembles Rod Blagojevich if he were a Brady. I think that might be the best he can do. The problem is, it's not a very challenging song to begin with, and he dialed it back from the original.
Odds of Leaving: I don't know. Do people think he's cute? Is he the Vote for the Worst guy?

Lee Dewyze
I don't really want to hear a guy sing about an "angel" who makes him want to cheat on his wife. That doesn't make me want to vote for him. It makes me want to punch him in the face. He sang well. He needs a belt. Whatever.
Odds of Leaving: Meh.

Okay. I think John and Jermaine are going home.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Idol Eyes: Top 24, the Dudes

Twenty four reviews in two nights is killing me. I'll be thrilled when we're rid of four of these people so I can chastise awful singing at a more leisurely pace. After last night, I'd be willing to ax even more contestants, but patience is a virtue. It's not one of my virtues, but it is said to exist, so I'll honor it for now on the off chance it pays off in one of these roughed-up diamonds. Blah, blah, singing.

Todrick Hall
Before I get to Todrick, did Randy or Kara fart while Ryan was introducing the judges? No? Well, the judges are warning us of fragile nerves, which makes my job fun. You know what else is fun? Learning about songs people write in the shower about American Idol. I'd get to the singing, but Todrick started out talking. But then he took Kelly Clarkson's "Since You Been Gone," and revealed just how little versatility that song really has. He can sing, but why that?
Odds of leaving: Eh. No numbers. He's sticking around.

Aaron Kelly
Aaron's gonna have a hard time if he lasts long enough for his voice to change. He also needs to be careful not to eat that microphone all in one bite. Okay, jokes aside, it wasn't a great performance. He showed he can probably sing, but it would be nice to actually see it last for an entire song. He sang . . . um, something about goodbye. Simon's right, I don't remember it.
Odds of leaving: Unless every phone south of the Mason Dixon line fails, no way.

Jermaine Sellers
I've got a serious beef with the show's sound crew. The lead vocals are just mixed very poorly, and they wind up sounding softer than the backup singers. Jermaine was the victim of that. He was also the victim of singing terribly. And dressing like Napoleon at a funeral. He sounded good for a lot of it, but he was clearly nervous as evidenced by his spasming lip at the end. "Get Here," was a poor song choice, but I HATE it when the judges tell one singer to pick a song out of their typical style and then criticize the next one for picking a song out of their typical style. But, yeah, pick a song that doesn't make me want to rip my eyelids off.
Odds of leaving: 4 to 1. That's the Chicago pessimist factor.

Tim Urban
Starsky! Or is it Rod Blagojevich before he grew up and cut his hair down to ginormous. I'll go with Blago, because it fits better with singing "Apologize." It's also fitting that they spent so much time explaining how they called him back to the show right before he let his own brand of dreadful tell the story of why they cut him.
Odds of leaving: 1 to 1.
Note: I have never seen a parent look as angry and ready to kill someone as Tim's mom looked during Simon's critique. 

Joe Munoz
At first I thought Joe and the band got skipped to different times on the island. But once he got it, Joe really came through and sounded like someone who wanted to sing professionally. I really like him, and I'm really afraid he might slip through the cracks. I'm also really going to stop using the word really.
Odds of leaving: 7 to 1.

Tyler Grady
"American Woman." He is not up to this. Beneath the Morrisonian visage and vintage-looking new clothes is hiding a frail little dweeb with a bad voice. If anyone in America is grabbing their phones and thumbing their little texts in desperation to bring that back on stage, their last name had better be Grady.
Odds of leaving: Certainty.

Lee Dewyze
Wow, a guy who split the judges in half. As bad as Tyler and Tim were, I can't see how it matters, but Lee did alright. Not as good as Simon thought (as he defended his choice). Some parts were downright awful, not just in the sound, but I mean . . . can you really scream, "LET ME JUST LAY HERE!" without inciting fits of giggles? No. No you can't.
Odds of leaving: I really don't see how T&T have left any room in this week's exit.

John Park
Oh, John, you fell a little too deeply in love with Shania's praise of your bottom end. That was weird. Kara was dead on calling it loungy, because I felt like I was at a 40th wedding anniversary at open mic night at a piano bar. It was as bad as that metaphor. Or simile. Whatever, it was atrocious. He sounded fine, but the end product was a thousand question marks. Oh, I get it. He was singing that for his parent. But John, unless you have 6 million parents who will all vote 10 times, don't do that again.
Odds of leaving: 12

Michael Lynche
I hope he sings about a mountain, because he is one. Let's see . . . no, no mountain. Maroon 5. And he's holding a guitar for no other reason than to make it look like a fiddle next to his mountainicity. He's pretty good, but he made "This Love" sound a little too disco.
Odds of leaving: No way he can squeak between the two losers on the way out the door. No way.

Alex Lambert
Alex will not be confused with Adam Lambert. He will be confused with Alex "Deer in Headlights" Jones. Whoa. Good voice. No composure.
Odds of leaving: Look out, T-Twins, you've got company.

Casey James
Holy McButter, his hair is down. He's glowing. He's the cover of a romance novel. And, unless my judgment is mercilessly clouded by the soft-focus lens they're shooting him with, he sounds ready to record. From what I've heard so far, there's no point in continuing this thing. Casey James, the man with two names, is gonna win this sucker.
Odds of leaving (with Kara): Solid.

Andrew Garcia
What song is this . . . OH, the bullet song! I didn't recognize it with intelligible lyrics. I really liked the performance, shaky as it was at points. I hate how the judges are telling him to do what he did with "Straight Up," when that is exact-a-freakin-actly what he just did with that song. Make it original, just like your last performance. Holy crap, people. All that said, it did look like he had the lyrics written on his guitar. But other than that, I like this hombre.
There are no odds. he's stickin' around.

Idol Eyes: Top 24, the Ladies

Idol's back into the happy realm of voting people the heck off the show, as is my take on which people that might be. We get to trudge through 3 weeks of gender-divided performances and wave goodbye to the bottom 2 guys and gals every week. I like this much better than the "top 2 survive" approach of last season, although it will probably mean a lot more Sanjaya types hanging on for way too long.

That's quite enough intro, since we've got 12 songstresses to make fun of. Let's get right to it.

Paige Miles
Turn it. I never thought of "Alright Now" as a song that should never be covered, but the opening riff corrected that oversight for me. Poor Paige did not sound good. The judges are trying extra hard to convince America they weren't stupid for putting her on stage, but she sounded and looked unbearable.
Odds of leaving: 3 to 1

Ashley Rodriguez
Most of these singers, when they start out singing quietly, they're lucky to find a note the rest of the performance. I give you Exhibit A(shley). She sang "Happy," which rhymed with how it sounded. But, as Heather put it so correctly, she's pretty.
Odds of leaving: Why do I get the feeling everyone wants to be in the bottom 2?

Janell Wheeler
It's a rare Heart song that doesn't wind up as a complete "aw, honey, no" moment on Idol, and Janell's performance of "What about Love" was no exception. The only reason I would want to listen to a performance like that is if the singer was a member of my family who didn't realize I was listening and videotaping and preparing to upload its hideousness onto YouTube straightaway.
Odds of leaving: Goodness me, I don't know what it takes to get eliminated this week.

Lilly Scott
Oh, wow. Finally a voice that sounds pleasant. Lilly picked a song I don't know, and it was the kind of song where even if she was flat or sharp it would sound intentional. Every other performance seemed like the vocals were stumbling their way to the soundboard. By the way, Kara's hair looks like a horse, even more than most ponytails do.
Odds of leaving: no.

Katelyn Epperly
Katelyn and her mall hair brought a nice little raspy soul to "Oh, Darling," but I was a bit distracted by her Classic Peg/JT shoulder bounce. I agree with Kara's roundabout way of saying the girl's makeover makes her look like a hooker. She was good. But this "girls are all strong" business is horse apples.
Odds of leaving: 11 to 1

Haeley Vaughn
Haeley went bobbing for glitter before taking on the Beatles, and as much as I hate to say that her version of "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" had promise, it did. It was also incredibly sloppy and annoying. It's almost as though at some points she doesn't even care what comes out her mouth. Still, she's not boring.
Odds of leaving: 9 to 1

Lacey Brown
I didn't think anyone could distract me more with their hair and makeup than Adam Lambert, but Lacey was like an Andy Warhol painting that came to life . . . with a vendetta against Stevie Nicks. "Landslide" wasn't as bad as the judges made it out to be. I think she was trying to be quirky with her intonation. But, yeah, it was kind of like she decided the Smashing Pumpkins didn't make that song sound sad enough.
Odds of leaving: 5 to 1

Michelle Delamour
I totally didn't realize Julia Roberts and Janet Jackson had a kid! Congrats. The song, though, was equal parts plodding and painful. Her version of "Fallin'" had all of Ms. Keys' pitch problems and about a tenth of her power. The judges are trying to convince us these singers are good. I'm willing to give them time, but I don't see anyone yet who seems comfortable on a national stage just yet.
Odds of leaving: probably not.

Didi Benami
First things first: Didi, I'm gonna need my laundry room rug back. The song choice, "The Way I Am," was much better than the wardrobe choice, because it's not a song anyone knows for its power vocals. This is a fine week to be this boring.
Odds of leaving: nuh uh.

Siobhan Magnus
I hope this girl goes home this week, because I'm going to have to check the spelling three or four times every week. But still, she can wield a blowtorch, so, you know. "Wicked Game," is a song with a wide range, which suits a guy with a mean falsetto, but not so much a woman with a weak lower register. Still, she ended good. She's a bit odd, and I like that in the same way John Kreese liked Mr. Miyagi's nerve. I also think that if she loses, she may hurt someone or their bunny.
Odds of going all Fatal Attraction: 6 to 1

Crystal Bowersox
I like her voice and her guitar and her harmonica head gear, and I love her command of the stage. But man, that was one polished, well performed piece of yawn. I'm not concerned at all with her chances, and I think she'll get a lot better, but I'll never think about that performance of "Hand in My Pocket" ever again.
Odds of getting burned much later in the competition: 2 to 1 (but not tonight)

Katie Stevens
Aw, shucks. I feel like David Archuleta just took the stage in drag. I don't mean that to be as weird or insulting as I'm sure that reads. She's a cutie. I don't condone Michael Bublé performances. I do get the feeling that the audio setup of this stage is not right. A lot of singers were a little too close to inaudible, and the judges mentioned Katie seemed like she couldn't hear herself.
Odds of Katie having problems hearing her farewell performance on Thursday: 10 to 1

My picks to get sent packing: Paige and Janell. 

Monday, February 08, 2010

Who's On First?

It's pretty sad that the only things motivating me to blog here are TV (Lost and Idol) and contests, so here's a real piece of family stuff. A week or two ago, Addison and I performed in his elementary school's talent show. It was a lot of fun, even the endless rehearsals of "Who's on First" to which we subjected ourselves.

The night of the performance I had been drumming into Addison's head that only I would have a microphone and that he'd need to project just like before—I would take care of the mic. Right before we went on, he was begging me to let him hold a mic, and I repeatedly told him no. Sure enough, right before we went on, he was handed a mic, and the rest was hilarity.

Since we've finished, Addison hasn't wanted to reproduce the whole routine, but anytime anyone says "I don't know," we'll both say, "Third base!" We'll do intentionally, too, with one or the other asking what the capital of some state or far-off country is. Colin's gotten into the act, too. Yesterday, he said, "What's the capital of . . . third base?"

What indeed, Colin. What indeed.

Friday, February 05, 2010

LOST: LA X Recap | Abridged and Updated

For the benefit of . . . anyone who values their time but also is into LOST, I've trimmed and refreshed the Lost tome. It's still long, but a bit more manageable. Here you go:

I liked this episode, though I wasn’t so sure at first.

First question: Did Juliet’s bomb-bashing, future-changing experiment work? Yes, it did. The island was underwater, the plane never crashed, and this whole series never happened.

Before I continue on with the story of the uncrashed airplane, I want to comment about this crazy little turn on the show, the alternate reality (AR) running concurrently with (though 3 years behind) the original reality (OR). There are basically two schools of thought with time travel. 1) If you go back in time and change something, you won’t really change anything—the future you were trying to change was actually the result of your efforts in the past, and 2) If you go back in time, you can change the future, but it’s dangerous, cuz you could screw something up. Read More

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

LOST: LA X (parts 1 and 2) ~ You bet your Frogurt there are spoilers

This may have been the best episode of Lost yet. That's an ironic thing for me to say, considering that my first reaction to Flight 815 not crashing was, "Holy crap, they've really jumped the shark, haven't they?" But the show's creators stayed true to their formula of injecting plot leaps jarring enough to make weaker viewers faint into a dizzying haze until our brains' timing mechanisms can recalibrate. If, like Charlotte before you, you're experiencing mild nose bleeds, headaches, and dizziness, I'll do my best to fix your sense of time and stop the flashes.

So let's talk plot, themes, and theories for a moment, shall we?

Plot (aka What the crap is going on and when is said crap taking place?)
Having not watched the recap episode and failing to catch up on the last dozen episodes of season 5, I was worried I wouldn't gain my bearings on the first viewing. Despite misplacing my notes from last season's finale, I was surprised to find my Lost legs almost immediately—this show has a way of drawing me into its spell all too quickly.

Read More

Monday, January 25, 2010


Our family has been wanting to buy a Wii for the last . . . how long has the Wii existed? That long. But, you know, we've put off buying one (and all the accessories) in favor of frivolous stuff like groceries and running water.

So I'm hoping maybe I can get one for free. Well, semi-free. I'm going through all the avenues to enter this contest from fixR.Com so I can get my grubby little paws on a new gaming system sure to prevent me from ever doing another productive thing again bring hours of joy to the entire family.

If you'd like to enter, follow the link and start jumping through their hoops. If you'd feel better if I won, follow the link and leave tons of comments about how awesome it would be if I won. Because, it would be awesome. You know this.

Okay, thanks.