Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Week 2 of the Gals

Song choice seemed to be the big issue for the ladies. The ones that struggled did so because they chose the wrong song. Carly, on the other hand, started out with the perfect song, Crazy on You, by Heart. I was worried when she started. When people sing Heart and Queen, I always think it's a mistake. But Carly pulled it off. Amazing performance. Nailed it. Syesha chose the wrong song with Me & Mrs. Jones (though, she sang it as "Mr. Jones"). As was pointed out with Syesha, with powerful voices like hers, singers tend to struggle on the soft, low notes, then bring it around on the big notes. That's exactly what happened with Syesha. Brooke then kicked ass singing You're So Vain. Though she never came out and admitted it, everyone seemed to agree that she was singing straight to Simon. And he loved it. Brooke was rockin' the Carly Simon vibe. It absolutely worked for her. Ramiele struggled with Don't Leave Me this way. Very awkward performance. Not natural. It seemed like someone else showed her this song and said, "Hey, this would be perfect for you." It wasn't. Kristy looked hot, but struggled with You're No Good. It wasn't terrible, better than last week, but it wasn't good. As Simon said, I think she needs to get back to her country roots. That's where she shines. Amanda the rocker nurse stunk up the joint singing Carry On Wayward Son. She started rough and never seemed to recover. She looked like she was uncomfortable the entire time. She will be lucky to make it to next week. I thought Alaina did fine singing Hopelessly Devoted to You. Not perfect, but good. Alexandrea also did fine singing If You Leave Me Now. It was odd to hear a woman singing Peter Cetera's falsetto, but she sounded good. Not a good song for her, though. Last week's was much better, more upbeat. Kady Malloy absolutely chose the wrong song with Magic Man. Struggled with the low notes, couldn't find the melody anywhere. And I can't believe Simon didn't know the song. Asia'h turned in what I thought was another powerhouse performance singing All by Myself. Aside from a brief loss of voice in the beginning, apparently due to lingering illness, I thought it was a fantastic vocal. Looked great, too. I think Kristy would be a little worried, if not for the fact that Kady & Amanda did so much worse this week. She really needs to pick it up if she wants to make it past next week.

Week 2 of the Guys

Well, last night was the guys' night of week 2 on Idol. I thought they should have switched off and had the ladies go first, but they didn't ask me. Michael started off singing Go Your Own Way. I have to agree with Simon that this was easily his weakest performance to date. I don't know that it was the right song choice for him. Jason C. followed with some Andy Gibb. Again, not the best choice of song, but in this case, I'll have to disagree with Simon. I thought Jason did very well with it. Not his most dynamic performance, but good vocals. I do agree with Paula, though - I'd like so see Jason without the guitar next week. Luke was very uneven singing Killer Queen. I always wonder what goes through people's minds when they sing Queen. Almost always beyond their capabilities. Luke did very well in parts of the song, though, when he was singing straight. When he tried to add the little theatrical flourishes ("Yeah... c'mon..."), it came across as very cheesy. Definitely better than last week, though. Robbie sang Hot Blooded. Aside from reminding me physically of Bo Bice, Robbie has the same problem as Bo did - because of his look (esp. the long hair), he gets classified as a "rocker." He really isn't, though. I think that's what Simon is referring to when he questions Robbie's authenticity. Robbie hasn't claimed to be a rocker, that's just the label they put on him then judge him based on that label. Aside from all that, I thought the performance was good. Danny (or, as my friend Keith called him last week, Gay Elvis) tried to sing Stevie Wonder. I'm not particularly fond of Danny. Agreed, he's got more personality than most of the other contestants, it's just not a personality I particularly care for. David H. rocked the house singing Papa Was a Rolling Stone. I haven't cared for some of David's previous performances, but this one was one of the best of the night. Jason Y. struggled with Long Train Running. I think Simon summed it up perfectly that Jason is "a quite good singer who can't perform very well." He should be worried this week. Chikezie turned in what I thought was the best performance of the night singing I Believe to My Soul. I thought his vocals and personality on stage were the bomb. He kicked it. Unfortunately, he blew it in the interview again. I think he thinks a little too much of himself and it will hurt him in the long run. David C. seemed more of a rocker than Robbie did singing All Right Now. I see what Simon was trying to say about the video, because David does seem a bit more of a rocker, but the whole "word nerd" thing goes against that image. He also seemed to have the same problem Chikezie did in that he was getting attitudinal with Simon. A lot more of the contestants are doing that this year, I think because they think it will win people over if they come back at Simon. But I think the majority of times, it just makes them annoying. David A. finished the night singing Imagine, by John Lennon. I thought it was a very good performance, but I don't see what the judges see with this kid. I think he's a talented singer and performer, but not the best of the group. Based on crowd and judge reaction, he'll probably make it to at least the top 5. We'll see. I thought his, Chikezie's and David H.'s were the best of the night. My votes are on Jason Y. and Luke to head home tomorrow. I think Michael and Jason C. should go on at least one more week based on past performance. Everyone needs to make better song choices and watch the attitudes.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Boxing at the Garden

For the first time in 23 heavyweight championship fights at Madison Square Garden, dating back to 1882, an American is not vying for the title. Wladimir Klitschko (Ukraine) will put his IBO and IBF titles on the line against the WBO tile of Sultan Ibragimov (Russia). I'm looking forward to it. I've been a big fan of both Klitschko brothers for years. Always a good fight when there's a Klitschko involved. I'm predicting Wladimir will KO Ibragimov in the 8th round.

In other boxing news, Jessie Brinkley (semi-finalist from the first season of The Contender) beat Otis Griffin (winner of the only season of The Next Great Champ). Too bad. I was rooting for Griffin. I never watched the show, and I had no clue who Griffin was, I just couldn't stand Brinkley. I think he is an arrogant jerk, and not nearly as good as he thinks he is. I was hoping he'd get his ass whooped. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be.

Finally, speaking of The Contender, fan fave (and one of mine) from Season One, Alfonso Gomez, is getting a shot at the welterweight title. On April 12, Gomez is fighting the current WBA champ Miguel Cotto. I think this will be Gomez's toughest fight to date. I would love to see him rise to the occasion and take the title. I think Gomez is a talented fighter and all-around good guy. He deserves the best. Go Alphonso!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Idol - The Ladies

Well, contrary to what the judges seemed to say at the end of the show, I don't think the ladies did as well as the guys did the night before. Also, I won't beat a dead horse, but Randy needs to let it go. Stop mentioning age, Randy!! Kristy started off well with Rescue Me. It wasn't a spectacular performance, and you could tell she was nervous, but she was good. And damn, she's cute! Anyway, Joanne followed with I Say a Little Prayer for You. I don't care for the song and it wasn't a very good performance. I worry about her. I really like Joanne, but she's got Mandisa syndrome. Because she's a bigger girl, and America basically has a prejudice about size/weight, she has to really bring it every week or risk getting booted. Not fair, but reality. She may get by on past performance, though. Alaina sang More Today Than Yesterday. Chikezie sang this the night before, and Alaina blew him out of the water. Her voice in the interview was a bit annoying, but her voice in the song was amazing. Great performance and no nerves showing. Amanda the Rocker Nurse sang Baby, Please Don't Go. I don't know this song, and it wasn't a powerhouse vocal, but it was fun enough that she'll make it through this week. I disagree with Paula, though, that Amanda has proven she's not a one-trick pony. She hasn't proven it yet. She will need to show some range if she wants to make it past next week. Amy stunk up the joint with Where the Boys Are. Bad song choice, bad performance. Not just struggling with nerves or the flu, but Bad. If she sang like that at the audition, she would not have made it to Hollywood. Brooke the Nanny sang a fun rendition of Happy Together. Not quite as good as David C.'s version from the night before, but good enough to make it to next week. Alexandrea (regardless of how you pronounce it) gave the best performance of the night to this point singing Spinning Wheel. This girl is a force to be reckoned with. I'm not sure what show Simon was watching last night. 99 times out of 100, I agree with Simon. Every now and then, though, he gets PMS or something and goes way off the reservation. Last night was one of those nights. Kady was a bit bland singing Groovy Kind of Love, which I've always thought was a bit of a bland song anyway. She's cute, though, and with the Britney impression, will probably make it another week. She'll have to step it up to make it past that. Asia'h (hate the weird spelling) had the best performance of the night with Piece of My Heart. If she continues at the level she has been, I think she'll make the top 3 along with Jason C. and Michael. Ramiele sang a restrained performance of You Don't Have to Say You Love Me. Given the expectation for her to belt it out, I think it served her well to keep it in on this song. It could have come across as shouting. That's a danger with a voice as big as hers. Syesha kicked butt singing Tobacco Road. I've heard this song on Idol before, but I can't say I'm familiar with it aside from that. However, Syesha made me not care. Girl can sing. Carly finished with The Shadow of Your Smile. I like Carly, and the performance was good, but not anywhere close to best of the top 24. Don't know what Randy was smoking. Best of the night were Alexandrea and Asia'h. Amy's definitely going home. Not sure about the second. Hate to say it, but I think Joanne will go, too. I hope not, but I can't think of who else I think would deserve it based on last night's performances.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Idol Finals Kick Off

With the top 12 guys. David H. started off the night singing In the Midnight Hour. I haven't been crazy about this guy. I think he's good, but not as good as he thinks he is. He puts too much flourish into his vocals when he should just be singing. Fortunately, he sings well enough; he'll make it through. Chikezie worried me right off when he dropped the last name. I liked him in the auditions, but the one-name thing seems a bit pretentious for a reality show contestant. Got a little more worried during the pre-performance clip when he almost blurted that he was glad the judges recognized his talent. Seemed a bit arrogant. He recovered and said "hard work" instead of "talent." He worried me more when he started singing More Today than Yesterday, not a good song choice or performance. The icing on the cake came when he started snipping at Simon and getting a bit of attitude. Really turned me off. David C. followed with Happy Together. I haven't been a big fan of this David from the beginning - not sure why, something just rubs me the wrong way - but he did a good job in this round. Good song choice, good performance. Jason Y. then performed Moon River. I absolutely agree with Simon (as I usually do) that he was forgettable and not at all contemporary. Robbie sang One (by Three Dog Night, I believe?). Rocked it out! Easily the best performance of the night at this point. David A. sang Smokey Robinson's Shop Around. I think he had trouble hitting the low notes in the beginning because his voice hasn't changed yet. Overall, though, another good performance. But again... Randy. Dawg. It's American Idol, not 17 Year-Old Idol. I don't want to hear it. Just comment on their performance, not their performance relative to their age. Thought he would hyperventilate whilest talking to Ryan, though. Danny I-look-like-Jessica-Alba's-twin-brother Noriega then performed Jailhouse Rock. I actually agree with what Paula was trying to say here. I think he chose a relatively easy song that just allowed him to run around on stage and ham it up. I don't think it was grotesque, but I don't think it was a great singing performance. I think he's this year's Sanjaya. Let's just hope he doesn't try the faux-hawk. Luke sang a relatively forgettable rendition of Everybody's Talkin'. But given his resemblance to a cross between Hugh Jackman and Orlando Bloom, I think he'll get by this week on looks. Again, I agree with Simon regarding Colton's performance of Suspicious Minds. Not as bad as the other Elvis song, but not very memorable or relevant. Garrett struggled through Breaking Up Is Hard to Do on Valium. Paula was right when she told him he shouldn't be afraid to work with Ricky Minor to change things up. Simon was right that Garrett looked a bit washed out and haunted. He looks like he hasn't been out of his mom's basement in about 12 years. Jason C. brought the house down with What a Day for a Daydream. Hands down the best performance of the night. Chrissy and I don't care for the dreds, but he looked incredibly comfortable on stage - at least while he was singing. He seems a bit like one of those shy people who blossoms when performing, then draws back into his shell during an interview. Johnny Depp seems like that. Michael finished the night with Light My Fire. If it weren't for coming right after Jason C., Michael would have had the best performance of the night. He looks so comfortable on stage and on the mic, it's almost not fair to the other contestants. Then again, so was Chris Daughtry. If Michael continues how he has been, he'll cruise his Aussie ass to the top 5. My prediction is that Garrett and Jason Y. will go home on Thursday. We'll see how the ladies do tonight.

Friday, February 15, 2008


Well, we're fairly happy with the American Idol Top 24. Chrissy's a little disappointed that her cowboy didn't make it, but like he said, at least he won't miss turkey season. My favorite so far (not to win, just the cutest) is Kristy, the farm girl/cage-fighter. Girl can sing, too. Don't know if she can sing well enough to compete against the level of competition that's in the finals this year, but we'll see. Early favorites (to win) are Asia'h and Syesha. I like Joanna, too, but she struggled a bit in Hollywood. I like Amanda, the rocker nurse, but she needs to show some range beyond 60's/70's rock. I think Carly and Brooke are cute and can sing, but they may not have the goods to make it to the end. Michael (Australian dude) is easily the one to beat from the guys. David A. and Danny (who looks like Jessica Alba's little brother and is gayer than Liberace) both suffer from what I call Jordin Sparks syndrome - they're great.... for their age. If I had to hear Randy gush about David being 16 one more time... I like Chikezie, both personality and name, but don't think he'll make it. I don't care for David C. Something just rubs me the wrong way with him. Not sure what. Maybe some hidden attitude? David H. need to tone it down a bit. There's making a song your own, then there's trying to show off. I'm glad living-in-his-car boy didn't make it. I think he had a bit of an attitude. I worry about his mental state, though. He seemed a bit desperate and pinning his future on winning the show, which I think he absolutely thought he would. Josiah. That was his name. Given, though, that the process took place months ago, if something had happened to him, I would think it would have happened by now.

Monday, February 11, 2008


Well, the Redskins have a new Head Coach. Jim Zorn, the former Offensive Coordinator. Well, as of the 25th, he was the Coordinator. Before that, he was the QB Coach in Seattle. Interesting choice. I don't really know much about him, so I can't form much of an opinion of him yet. I'm curious to see what he does with personnel. It makes me nervous that he's already talking about hiring Stump Mitchell for Running Backs Coach when just last week, Earnest Byner signed a one-year extension to his contract. Unless Byner is bumped up to the Coordinator position. That would be interesting. On a side note, speaking of interesting, Bill Lazor, the former Redskins QB coach, signed with Seattle to replace Zorn as QB coach there. Funny.

Also, R.I.P. to Roy Scheider, who passed away this weekend. Cause of death was not reported, but it was confirmed that he had been battling myeloma for the past two years. To me, he will always be Police Chief Martin Brody from Jaws. When I think of him, I think of my sister Gail and our endless joking about the line, "You're gonna need a bigger boat," and the cigarette in his mouth bouncing up & down on the alliterative b's.

It appears as though the writer's strike is over. I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, naturally, I'm quite happy. While I don't know all the details about the deal, I think it comes down to (as I speculated before), if the network or studio is making money on it, the writer gets a piece of the action. Sounds pretty simple. Two problems with the strike ending now: 1) Since we are still partly through the season, I'm sure the writers will be rushed back to the shows to try to crank our some crap to tack on to the end of the season. I would rather they simply leave this season short, and put their energy into creating good episodes next season. 2) I was looking forward to making more progress on my Netflix queue. Since there was a dearth of new programming on the networks, I was actually starting to see some movement on the queue. Hopefully, I'll see some more before the new shows return.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Super Bowl

Well, today is the big day. What to do? I just don't care for the Pats (sorry, Jackie!). I think Belichick is an arrogant jerk. I think the team should have an asterisk next to their "perfect" record. I don't care what anyone says about the Jets coach snitching, or other teams cheating. The fact is they cheated and got caught. That taints it for me. I have nothing personally against Brady, I just hate how much the media dotes on him. I wish they would simply invite him into the booth, bend him over, drop his pants and kiss his ass. At least that would be more honest.

On the other hand, I just can't bring myself to root for the Giants. Anyone who knows me (or has read this blog) knows I'm a Skins fan, and as such, I can't root for a rival NFC East team to win the big game.

So what do I do? I'm going to hope for a good game. I think the Pats will blow out the Giants, so I hope the Giants will put up a good fight. And I hope we get some good commercials this year. The commercials are typically the best part of the day, and the past few years, people are actually talking about the game the next day! We need better commercials this year; and hopefully a good game.

P.S. Congrats to Darrell Green and especially Art Monk (!!) for making the Pro Football Hall of Fame! Yay!!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Changing Perspective

This past week, I have been thinking a lot about the implications of the title of this post. It began during our vacation at Disney World last week. Though we did have a great time, it will not go down in history as our best Disney trip ever. The entire time we were there, we had to deal with these Brazilian, high school tour groups running around like they owned the place (we think they were Brazilian, and they were about the right age and behavior for high school kids...). Then, (I don't know if anyone other than me notices the space on the right where I state what I am currently reading, but...), this train of thought picked up a few more cars as I was re-reading The Gunslinger, book 1 of Stephen King's Dark Tower series.* It picked up a caboose when I read my sister's column (shameless plug) about her thoughts on Eli Manning.

It got me thinking about how I was at the age these kids were, and though I don't always feel I am a vastly different person than I was then, there are times when I can't believe how different I have become. Given how much I have changed, and I'm sure others have undergone similar transformations, it's amazing that I continue to hold friendships with people that I was friends with then, and continue to have good relationships with family members that I felt I had good relationships with then.

As perhaps is typical of many young people, I used to see things very black & white. When I began driving (23 years ago!!), I felt that the speed limit was the law. If the sign said 35, and you were going 36, you were breaking the law, and may as well have been going 70 (you can't be a little bit pregnant). Well, anyone whose been in a car with me in the past ten years or so knows I see a little more gray area now. There are a lot of gray areas I see now. I remember seeing The Color of Money back in '86 when it first came out. Not a bad movie, if you enjoy watching 9-ball and don't expect much. (Definitely a make-up Oscar for Paul Newman. Much as I like him, it wasn't an Oscar-worthy performance). Anyway, I remember a couple of years ago talking with Rob about it. He had recently seen it again, and so had I. We both had the same experience of identifying more with Newman's character now, when we had identified more with the Cruise character when we were younger. Our perspective had shifted.

While I am enjoying the Dark Tower books every bit as much as I did when I began reading them ten years ago (thanks to Ian Raymond, who I worked with at Harbour Spirits - Thanks, Ian!), I was in a very different place in my life than I am now. I had just lost a job of ten years, a girlfriend of five years, and any hope of financial stability, all in the span of about five months. Since then, I became gainfully employed on two separate occasions, gotten back on my feet financially (though I hope to be doing better in the coming years), and I have experienced ten more years of life, including almost - and then in a very real way - losing my father, getting married, my grandmother passing away, dealing with various health issues, and gaining, then losing, another second father in my future wife's father (if you follow). Needless to say, my frame of mind from then to now is a bit different. Therefore, while my enjoyment of the books is just as great, if not greater, my experience while reading them is much different. That almost makes it like reading them again for the first time. When I was watching extras on one of the LOTR DVDs, I found out Christopher Lee (Saruman) has re-read the trilogy every year, possibly since they were published. He's that big a fan. As I read what I typed about the Dark Tower, I wonder if he has experienced the same thing. As much as I love some books, I thought it was a bit excessive to read the same three books every single year. It may be. But possibly not as excessive as I once thought. My perspective on that has changed.

So... where does this lead us? What conclusions have I drawn as I have pondered the topic over the past week and a half? None. Save, perhaps, one more changed perspective from my youth. There aren't always solutions. There doesn't have to be a conclusion drawn. Maybe the examination in itself (of one's own self) is the whole point. To look inward. Analyze. Fix? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe just see things from a different perspective.

"Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view." -- Obi-Wan Kenobi, Return of the Jedi

Yes, I just quoted a Star Wars movie. Some things never change...

*"Wait," you say (if indeed you do pay attention to what I'm reading), "I never saw that. It looked like you started with book 2, The Drawing of the Three." Well, half right. While I did start with The Gunslinger, I whipped through it so quickly (and at Disney, no less), that I never had time to indicate on my blog that I was reading it.