Thursday, March 27, 2008

I Love Stupid People...

No, I'm not insulting my wife. She's smarter than I am. I'm laughing about the 18-year old guy in Chicago who tries to rob a muffler shop, only to be told that the owner has the combination to the safe and he's not in yet. So naturally, he does the only logical thing he can do. He gives them his phone number (two, actually) and tells them to give him a call when the boss gets in so he can come back and rob them. I love it!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Top 10 Night

Some interesting choices this time around. The contestants chose songs from the year they were born. It seemed like everyone was born in 1987. Made me feel very old. Ramiele started off with Alone. I have made my feelings clear on people trying to sing Heart songs. This is why. Jason followed with Fragile, by Sting. Didn't know this one, but he did a good job with it. I can see what the judges are saying about Jason, but I don't think he has the range some of the others do. He knows what he's good at and he's sticking with it. Syesha sang If I Were Your Woman, another one I didn't know. She did well with it. No bottom 3 for her this week. Chikezie did If Only for One Night. Not bad, but I think he should have listened to the judges about the ballads. It was technically proficient, but boring enough that I think he'll be bottom 3. Brooke did very well with Every Breath You Take. I thought the arrangement was fine. Another artist, David C. perhaps, when the band came in for the uptempo part, could have kicked back the piano bench, grabbed the mike and moved around the stage some. Wouldn't have worked for Brooke, though. Michael killed with We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions. He is an exception to the Queen/Heart/Celine/Whitney rule. There aren't many, but he's one. He does great with Queen. Probably 2nd best of the night. Carly did well singing Total Eclipse of the Heart. I kind of agree with Randy & Simon. Not sure what it was, but it wasn't great. There was something missing and I can't put my finger on it. But it should be good enough to get her to next week. Archuleta did another song I didn't know, You're the Voice. Simon nailed this one. Theme park performance. Absolutely. Kristy had the best song choice of the season with ubiquitous God Bless the U.S.A. Not the best of the night, but her best performance. She won't even be in the bottom 2. Maybe even bottom 3! Excellent. I hate to admit it, but Cook turned in the best peformance of the night singing a slow rock version of Billie Jean. I still don't care for him, but I do have to give credit where it's due. He's original. Still don't think he's as good as he thinks he is, though. My money is on Ramiele, Chikezie and Carly to be in the bottom 3 and Ramiele goes home.

Monday, March 24, 2008

My New Toys!

A few months back, for Christmas, we got a gift certificate from After almost three months of deliberating, I finally made my choice. I bought a Swissco 5-piece, Nickel Shave Set. I've always wanted to try a fancy shave set with the bowl (or mug), shave soap, brush and ideally a straight razor and strop. I have always heard/read that a straight razor gives the best shave, hands down. Unfortunately, I couldn't afford that yet, since straight razors alone can be upwards of $150-200, up to $1,000 or more! In my research on the matter, though, I did discover that, next to a straight razor, the best shave you can get is from an old-fashioned double-edged safety razor. It seems to be fairly unanimous that modern disposable/cartridge razors are crap. So, since all the shave kits seemed to come with the crap razors, I went ahead and bought a Merkur "Hefty Classic" Double-Edge Safety Razor. I haven't used it yet, but I am hopeful. The brush that came with the set is a badger brush. Some day, I may get a silvertip (or superbadger) brush, but, as with the straight razors, they can run upwards of $80-200 or more. So far, I have used the badger brush and soap and am loving that! Definitely a better shave than the with cream or gel out of a can. No environmental disposal concerns, either. Bonus!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Beatles Week, Part II

Well, I think the producers were pushing their luck to do a second Beatles night in a row. But they didn't ask me. I think the performances prove my point. Amanda started out singing Back in the USSR. This should have been great for Amanda, but she just seems bored with the competition. I don't think she cares if she goes on and it shows in her vocals. Not great. Kristy improved on last week, singing You've Got to Hide Your Love Away, but still is having trouble putting together a memorable performance. Or for that matter, a very good one. I hate to admit it, but Archuleta had the best performance of the night singing Long and Winding Road. At least he didn't forget the lyrics this time. Michael did pretty well with Day in the Life. Very hard song to compress into 90 seconds, but did a decent job of it. He did have one early pitch problem (with a falsetto note?), but brought it together by the end. Unnecessary, though, to bring up the recently deceased friend. Blatant attempt to get sympathy votes. I thought Brooke did a very good job with Here Comes the Sun. She obviously is not comfortable moving around and "dancing" on stage, and I think the judges took that out on her. But she killed with the vocals. Paula actually noticed the same thing I did that Brooke is one of the only ones who is vocally strong in the low range. Cook did the rocker thing with Day Tripper a la Whitesnake. One of the top 3 performances of the night, but I absolutely agree with Simon - it wasn't nearly as good as Cook thought it was. The voicebox thing was completely pointless and stupid. Carly rocked it with Blackbird. Not sure I cared for the arrangement, but her vocals were great, as usual. Jason did well with Michelle. Not fantastic, but as the judges said, he's got charm. And, I think, in the top 3 of the remaining contestants (behind Carly & Archuleta). Syesha did ok with Yesterday. Kinda boring. Though that dress may keep her in the contest until next week. Wow. Chikezie did pretty well with I've Just Seen a Face, but it felt like a replay of last week. Only not as good. Still, should be enough to make it to next week. Ramile finished the night with I Should Have Known Better. She had the same problem Kristy did - kind of forgettable. Not worth of the ability we know she has. I think as we eliminate contestants out of the top 12, we won't be getting rid of bad singers, just bad performers. All the top 12 can sing, but they won't all be able to keep getting the votes to move on. I'm going out on a limb and saying Amanda will go home tonight.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Beatles Night

Well, I think on the whole, the contestants did much better this week. They generally did much better on song choice, perhaps because of the quality of the songs they had to choose from. Syesha started off with Got to Get You Into My Life. While my bro-in-law Caleb thought it was terrible, I thought it was fine. Not great, not her best, but should be enough to get her to next week. Chikezie went next with She's a Woman. It started with, as Paula put it, an O Brother, Where Art Thou vibe. Then he kicked it into the stratosphere with this sort of rock and funk fusion that blew me away! Easily the best performance of the night. Big risk, huge payoff. I felt bad for Ramiele following up with In My Life. Regardless of who she followed, it was a boring performance. Technically fine, but pretty forgettable. Jason went next with If I Fell. Excellent song choice, very good (but not fantastic) performance. A little breathy for me. Big shock, Carly rocked her version of Come Together. I think she's going to make it to at least the top 3. Probably the final. She's that good. David Cook sang Eleanor Rigby. I think I must be missing something. I'm not overly crazy about David. He's good, but I seem to be in the minority of people that think he's not the second coming. I thought he struggled with the low notes, and screamed the high notes. Brooke sat behind the piano and sang Let it Be. Wow. She's getting better and better each week. Just like Elliot Yamin did last year. He made it to the top 3, and if she continues the way she is, so will she. David Hernandez casually mentioned in his film clip that he worked at Pizza Bistro. Is that what they're calling the gay strip club these days? He sang a cabaret version of I Saw Her Standing There. I think he's bottom 2 this week. Amanda sang You Can't Do That, which I don't believe I have ever heard. She was fine, but I'm getting bored with her. It's one thing to "make a song your own," it's another thing to do the same performance week after week. Amanda's got to mix it up a little. Michael did well with Across the Universe, but I don't know that it was the right song. A little lethargic. He's capable of much more, and if he doesn't step it up to where he's capable of performing, he won't last to the top 2, where I think he belongs. Kristy. [sigh]. Kristy made 8 Days a Week into a country song. I think she took Simon's previous comments a little too far. She needs to keep her country spin on the songs, but not change the songs entirely. Her arrangement didn't really work and she could be in trouble tonight. On the other hand, she's smokin' hot. That could save her with the teenage boy vote. David Archuleta finished the night with We Can Work It Out. He said in his film clip that he was nervous because he wasn't familiar with the songs. He then proceeded to prove he it by forgetting the lyrics in 3 different places! If anyone else did that, they would be out tonight. No question. I think David's past performances and present cuteness will probably save him. Unfortunately, I think Kristy will be the one to go home tonight.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Top 8 Ladies

Well, Ladies' Night wasn't quite as clear cut as the guys. At least not for one of them. Asia'h started the night singing I Wanna Dance with Somebody. It's always risky singing Whitney Houston. As a general rule, no Idol contestants should sing Whitney, Celine, Heart or Queen. Just don't. They rarely can pull it off. Asia'h did pretty well, though. Good enough to make it to next week, at least. Kady bombed singing Who Wants to Live Forever (see above re: Queen). It brought to mind McPheever's iffy performance of the same, and she's 10 times the singer Kady is. Amanda did her Rocker Nurse thing with I Hate Myself for Loving You. Perfect song selection, but she seemed like she could have cared less to be there. Maybe she's doped up on something. Her attitude may hurt her this week. Carly killed it singing I Drove All Night. Not the best song selection (I agree with Simon), but she always nails it. She's great. Kristy finally brought the country twang to Faithfully. Definitely improved the performance, and she looked great, but I don't know if she's got the talent to make it to the top. I hope I'm wrong. Ramiele did OK with Against All Odds. I was shocked that David A. didn't sing this on guys' night when it was announced that he was singing Phil Collins. I was positive that he would. Oh well. I knew someone would. She did OK. She shouldn't have worn that short of a skirt, though; it made her legs look a bit stubby. When they went to a commercial saying they would be back with Brooke singing Love is a Battlefield, I winced. I thought it was another poor song choice. Boy, was I wrong! She sang a beautiful acoustic arrangement that was easily the best performance of the night. Perfect song choice, perfect arrangement, perfect execution. I could not have disagreed with Paula more. It was the right move to keep the band out of it. Syesha finished the night with more Whitney (Saving All My Love for You - see above re: Whitney). They must have been running short on time by now because the judges kept their answers to "good." In comparison to Whitney, Syesha wasn't great, but on its own, I think this performance will be good enough to get her to next week. No question Kady should go home this week (she should have gone last week and she knew it). I'm guessing Kristy will be the other to go this week. I wouldn't be surprised with Amanda or Ramiele either, but sadly, I think it will be Kristy.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Last Week Before Idol Finals

This was the last week of eliminations before the contestants are narrowed down to the top 12. As I said last week, I think absolutely the wrong people went home. This week I think will be much easier with the guys singing songs from the 80s. Even more of a clear-cut line with the guys as to who should leave. Luke started off singing Wake Me Up Before You Go Go. Aside from the fact that Wham should generally be stricken from the memory of the American public, Luke was just all over the place. Very karaoke performance. David A. has the judges so enamored with him that Paula says she enjoys when he sucks (not in these words) because it proves he's human. He did fine technically (singing Another Day in Paradise), but I agree with Simon. David needs to show a little more personality and energy, not be so depressingly earnest. I also agreed with Simon on Danny Gay Elvis Noriega. Awful. When he tried to sing the low notes on Tainted Love, it sounded like his voice hadn't changed yet. And the attitude is getting old. "TMTH"? Please... David H.'s most embarassing moment is having a picture taken with a booger in his nose? Somehow I doubt that. I can understand them not harping on his male stripper fiasco, but I admit to being a bit distracted when he sang the line, "When you touch me like that." I don't know how the audience didn't laugh at that. Thought he sang the song (It's All Coming Back to Me Now) pretty well, though. Michael sang (Don't you Forget About Me). I don't particularly care for that song, but I thought he did a good job with it. Again, I agreed with Simon, Michael hasn't had that defining performance. For me, one of the best performances in all of Idol, and a perfect example of what Simon is talking about was when Chris Daughtry sang Hemorrhage (In My Hands). That was amazing! David C. sang an interesting arrangement of Hello. I didn't like the performance as much as the judges did. It was good enough for him to move on, though. I think he should have ditched the guitar. I was more entertained however by the story of Simon running in to Lionel Richie at the Whole Foods. Too funny! Jason finally ditched the guitar and sang a restrained Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen. I thought this was a bit of a risk, to sing an overtly religious song on Idol, but he did a great job. It wasn't his best performance, but it was one of (if not THE) best of the night! Awesome. Chikezie finished out the night singing All the (Wo)man I Need. I thought he did very well with it. Again, not fantastic, but should definitely be good enough to make it to the finals. In the end, Luke and Danny should go. I'll be pissed if they don't.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Oh What a Night!

Wow. Chrissy and I went to see Joshua Bell last night at the Kennedy Center. It was a wonderful night all around. It started when we left work an hour and a half early. Always good. We drove over to the Kennedy Center with almost no traffic. It was easy to get to; we just followed the signs. We got there a few hours early. We spent a little time looking around at the gift shops. Then we spent some time out on the balcony. Washington and the Potomac don't look nearly as dirty at a distance, not to mention how wonderful the weather was! As the sun set, the town actually looked quite lovely. We finally decided to go in and grab a bite to eat around 6:00-6:30. We were debating between the Roof Terrace Restaurant & Bar and the KC Cafe. We decided to go with the Cafe. We were thinking it looked like a basic cafeteria style restaurant. I was thinking I'd get a slice of pizza or a ham sandwich and a soda. I wound up having garlic rubbed prime rib, roasted potatoes, couscous, chocolate mousse for dessert and a glass of Chateau St. Jean cabernet. This was all before we even got to the concert!

When we finally decided to head to the concert hall, they weren't letting people in yet. So we were forced to wait outside and enjoy more of the gorgeous weather! When the time came, we went in and followed the signs to the Parterre Orchestra Boxes. Now... we knew we had paid a healthy price for these tickets and that they were good. But when the usher walked us through the door and we saw the edge of the stage five feet away from us, our jaws dropped! We looked on the stage, saw the piano in the middle and realized that he was going to be standing in front of it. Playing the violin some 40 feet away from us! He was unbelievable. There were times when I swore there were five other violins on stage with him. There were other times that I thought I must have been imagining things, because a human beings can't move their fingers as fast as his appeared to be moving. To put it in layman's terms, to make a heathen comparison, it was like watching Eddie Van Halen play guitar. Like watching Michael Jordan slam dunk a basketball. Like watching Meryl Streep act. In between each passage that he played, Chrissy and I just looked at each other and shook our heads. We couldn't believe that: a) someone was physically able to create such beautiful sounds; and b) we were able to be there.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Wrong Wrong Wrong

Absolutely the wrong people went home on Idol last week. Even the people that should have gone home were surprised that they didn't. I felt bad for Alaina. I keep forgetting that she's only 17. A lot of these contestants who are very young do so well on stage that I forget that they're really just kids. After her initial breakdown, though, she composed herself very well. I didn't think they should have pushed her to sing, and she struggled at first, but pulled herself together well by the end of the song. In general, I think it's very mean to make these people sing after they get booted off. I feel like they are saying, "Ok. We know you're very emotional right now, because America just told you that you're not good enough. BUT... we'd like you, one more time, to sing the song that wasn't good enough to keep you in the competition. Just in case you or anyone else forgot just how bad you were!" Kinda mean.

Oh, and Wladimir Klitschko won the unified Heavyweight IBO/IBF/WBO belt last weekend. Not the most exciting fight I've seen, but a dominating performance. Before the twelfth and final round, his trainer, Emmanuel Steward, told him he needed to knock Ibragimov out, or it would look bad. Well, by that point, it was too late. If he had said something around the 6th round, Klitschko could have done something. As it was, it didn't look so hot. But I still think he showed his dominance. Now he needs to grab that WBC belt and be a true unified champ!