Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Song for You

Okay, so, I don’t have the comfort of DVR tonight…I’m at a seminar on achieving excellence, at a training center in Potomac…it’s NICE, but I don’t think they want us in our rooms a lot because seriously? This room is the size of your average work cube. Now imagine a cube with a double bed in it. I’m just grateful that the tv has a remote. Apparently this place used to be a nun school (abbey?) or something, but it is gorgeous and it runs like a campus, right down to the dining hall. As classes go, this one is good, although it cracks me up that I’m Achieving Excellence this week…cuz honestly? I’ve been fine with mediocrity.

So, I turn on Idol to find that Jamie Foxx is the mentor tonight and oddly enough, I don’t have trouble with it. If anyone can teach people how to parlay determination into a multi-faceted career, it’s Foxx. Whether he’s your taste or not, I think there’s no denying he’s talented. Particularly because just about everyone remembers him from Ray now as opposed to Wanda from In Living Color. Plus, I have to admit that one or two of the songs I’ve heard from his latest release make me snap my fingers a bit.

First up? Kris Allen singing The Way You Look Tonight. Jamie says something about the “throat Olympics” making me rethink my being all right with his mentoring. Kris is very humble about the praise that Jamie heaps on him, making me like him all the more. I feel I might be breaking up with Matt. Or at the very least, cheating on him. Just sayin’. So anyway, this is one of my favorites. Performed by one of my favorites, so it will be hard to find fault with this. Okay, I kind of wished that it hadn’t gone up tempo at all, but it’s no matter; I so enjoy Kris’ voice. This was very good, and I’m really starting to believe that he could very well end up in the finals. Randara thinks it’s his best performance yet, and that he’s set the standard very high. Ooh…you can tell that it’s getting serious, because Kara and Paula both look a little dressier than they have before. Paula says he’s evolved to a sophisticated gentleman (hello, Cougar!), and that his crooning was near impeccable. Simon’s not as enthusiastic, but then again, when is he ever? Simon says it’s a bit wet, comparing Kris to a safe cocker spaniel. When Ryan asks what he meant by ‘wet’, Simon says “not dry”. Welcome back, Captain Obvious.

Alison Iraheta – who looks gorgeous! She says being the only girl left is scary. Hey! She’s 17 now! Happy Birthday! I do like Alison; I think she’s very young and fun, but standards night may hurt her if she tries to be all rocker-chick tonight. She’s doing Someone to Watch Over Me, another favorite of mine. Okay, I think I may love all the songs tonight. Jamie gives some credible performance tips, making me almost forget “Throat Olympics”. I’m not sure how I feel about this performance, honestly. It’s *good*, meaning she got all the notes right, and some good emoting. But I think this song is more…uh, for lack of a better word, innocent than she did it. I hear this song and I think “please hurry and take care of me”. She sang it and I heard “you better get your a$$ back here”. Randy says yo about 1000 times, noting that she did it in her style and that he loved it. Kara thinks she’s no longer a one-trick pony and that if that doesn’t land her in the finals, she doesn’t know what will. Paula heard the innocence that I found lacking, and Simon asks her if she thinks she can win at this stage, and she says that she thinks she can. Simon asks because he doesn’t believe *she* believes she can win it and maybe she’s been overshadowed. Simon thinks she may be in trouble tonight, which is not to say that he didn’t like her performance, but I think he’s saying that she didn’t do enough tonight to eclipse the frontrunners. Kara disagrees with Simon (SHOCKING!)

Next up – Matt Giraudi singing My Funny Valentine, and he will either rock this, or he will be going home. I’m writing this on the commercial before I hear the first note. He has a real chance here to own his R&B style. I really hope he does. The bad-hair-day hat is back. During the rehearsal, Jamie looks like he’s thinking about lunch, and then calls him back to give him some real advice, and I remember that Jamie is a classically trained musician. I kinda wish that Matt had done his own piano playing. Okay, what does this song mean? “Your looks are laughable, unphotographable”? Are they singing this song to an ugly person? Okay, the middle and end of this were wonderful, but the beginning was a little rough for me. If they are looking for Matt to leave next, he will not get a great critique…Randy thinks it’s a little pitchy. Kara thinks that he didn’t do much to establish himself and that she missed the connection…Paula loved it, and she really appreciates that he took Jamie’s advice. Simon loves it, calling it the only authentic performance tonight, saying he could tell that he (Matt) loves jazz, and compares him to Nat King Cole. Now I don’t know about all that, but I’m always happy when Simon is happy with my boyfriends.

Which reminds me, I’ve been hearing all this chat about Simon leaving Idol -- that it’s too much for him to do two shows in the UK and this one. Uh-huh. Unless they are ready to end the AI franchise, I’m dismissing this rumor outright. Simon IS American Idol. There are some shows that can absorb losing a major player (NYPD did it for years; ER did for a while before it became complete a$$, and Law and Order proved that you could do it, and do it well), but not AI. Simon is to American Idol what Dorothy Zbornak was to the Golden Girls. Not that the others weren’t spectacularly funny, but she was so integral to the success of the ensemble, it didn't work. The Golden Girls spin-off lasted a season without Dorothy. So I say, forget it. I also say, Rest in Peace, B. Art. Your comedic timing was legendary.

Danny Gokey is singing Come Rain or Come Shine. I’m enjoying Jamie Foxx as the mentor, I really am. Oh, Danny is singing the hell out of this. I love love love it! Although that last note scared me a bit, this was probably my favorite performance of the night, and my favorite one from Danny in like a month, because he was starting to rest on his laurels a bit. He rocked the joint. His vocals were spectacular and he worked that stage like a pro…very nicely done. Randy once again goes on to remind us it’s a singing competition (do we not know that?). Kara says he has swag. Hello, Kara? Swag is what you get in the green room…I’ve never heard swagger abbreviated like that. Paula loves it too. (Lovin’ Paula’s hair, by the way). Simon notes his confidence, saying he proved a point that he thinks he can win this, and you know, I think he can too. Simon notes that Jamie bought out an outstanding performance in Danny. That was kickin.

Okay, this commercial for minute maid brain juice is a total knockoff of an internet joke that continuously cracks me up, so this is only a minor complaint. See, without DVR, I comment on commercials too! And this show Glee seems like it’s going to be a page from my high school life, unlike, say, The Secret Life of the American Teen-Ager…which I like, but Glee Club sounds more like me.

The winner of AI 8, Adam Lambert, is singing Feelin’ Good. I’m full of predictions tonight, because he’s going to rock this joint. Adam starts on the stairs, and I wonder if they all have that option, because it works. I realize I’m going to be in the minority, but I love this white suit…this sh!t is beyond fabulous. Adam is conjuring up Freddy Mercury for me right now, and I mean that very complimentary because I love Freddy Mercury’s voice. Adam’s intonation is spot-on; and his pitch is flawless. Randy says it was too theatrical for his taste, but that he can sing. Kara can’t figure out what the heck she wants to say and stumbles all over herself. Paula has 19 Entertainment about to call the lawyers when Paula says Adam makes her feel better than good. Simon says he’s in it to win it, and laughs that Randy has issues with Adam being theatrical, because if you looked up ‘theatrical’ in the dictionary, there’s Adam staring right back at you. Simon tells Adam that he had the best entrance of the season and that Ryan is no longer allowed to use the stairs, because Adam worked them (we’re running out of time AI! Do you want me or not!?!?!?!?!).

So, I think it’s been a while, but I can honestly say that I enjoy each of the remaining performers. I think America got the top 5 exactly right. I don’t remember if they do the bottom two or the bottom three now that it’s only five, but if I were to rank the performances tonight?

1. Danny
2. Adam
3. Kris
4. Matt
5. Alison

Okay, onto to Dancing with the Stars, and Robin Thicke is on it…and I just love this man. He’s cheesy like his dad, and soulful like his mom. I love ballroom dancing (wow! I love a lot of things tonight. I’m telling you, this leadership center is kind of magical!). I own the DWTS Cardio DVD, which is its own blog, but the ladies dancing remind me of this woman at the Inaugural Ball who stayed on the dance floor with her hands bent in that “dancer stance”. It cracked Michele and me up, which means you just can’t do those hands just anywhere! On DWTS, it looks like good form, on a random dance floor in the National Harbor, it’s completely cheesy.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Boogie Wonderland

Okay, so DVR tells me I'm just about an hour behind as I watch the final 7 perform again. There is talk about the judge's save last week, so I must vote tonight to keep my Matt in the competition.

You can tell that Idol is really challenged by time, because I get no Ryan at all -- they launch right into it. I also heard that I wasn't the only one who hated tag-judging, so all four will talk tonight. Good. Because really? Who doesn't get that if Simon doesn't critique, there's no point? Tonight is disco night, usually a favorite of mine, because everyone who knows me knows that next to 80's hip-hop, 70's disco holds the biggest spot in my musical heart.

First up, Lil Rounds - I'm Every Woman, Chaka Khan. Lil is rockin' her booty tonight, but the weave is a bit off putting for me. As much as I enjoy that she shakes up her hair weekly, I'm wondering if her real hair has been completely traumatized by it. At any rate, this is a song that should go very well for her. Big vocals, very disco, and yet it's very very mediocre. It's loud in all the wrong places, and while I appreciate she snuck in a song that is associated with Whitney with the under-30 crowd, it's not good enough to remind me of Whitney or Chaka. Randy says she got the party started, but then puts his head in his hands (translation: hated it) and says this didn't show him what kind of artist she is. Kara says she's been waiting for her to sing an artist like Chaka, but doesn't think it's worth the wait, and that she's been every other woman but herself (Lil, not Kara, but I could see where it could be confusing), and it's a problem. Now, I'm not listening to Paula because I've asked DVR to go back like 10 times to see whoever this is in the audience that is giving the stink eye to the judges. Paula doesn't love it either, so there's another hammer coming from Simon, who says she looks sad...awww, maybe he's going to remember his crush. Oh not so much, because he tells her that he's glad she had fun, but this is the last week we'll be seeing her. No originality and that her vocals were a mess, and it cracks me up when Simon describes something as a mess. Ryan gives Lil a chance to lip off that she was not karaoke. Simon says something that I can't hear and it shuts Lil up rather quickly. It's been fun Lil. Enjoy the tour. But the judges have somewhat proven my point. If Lil were a front runner, I suspect they wouldn't have found this karaoke, but since she's solidly in the lower bottom of talent at this point, I think their comments are even more scathing. Too bad, but I'm content to be done with her. But Simon should make sure he's escorted to his car tonight; Lil's mom looks like she's about to wax his behind.

Next up - Kris Allen, who has his guitar. He's singing...She Works Hard for the Money, by Donna Summer? Seriously? All right, I'm a pretty solid fan of this guy, so I'll give it a chance. Oh me likey. Me likey a lot. He has updated the song nicely, and I like this whole KT Tunstall turn. I'm really digging this performance and I suspect that the judges will either go with brilliant or that it sucked big time. I wouldn't have expected to enjoy this, but I love it, and now I'm an even bigger fan than before. Stop vying with Matt for my affection, Kris, my heart can't take it. Kara launches her inner cougar after arguing with Randy on who was going to go first and tells him that his risk paid off (stop agreeing with me Kara; it makes me uncomfortable). DrunkPaula is in full drink tonight, saying that lots of women shop in the men's department, but that men don't shop in the woman's department, or some such nonsense, and then Simon admits that a translator wouldn't be a bad idea, and then there's something about La Perla...and can you see how this show can really infuriate you sometimes? Anyway, to cut to the chase, all of the judges agree with me and Simon makes a point to say that he's the un-Lil. Walter thinks that Simon is disappointed in Lil, and I'd have to agree. Because most of the time Simon's picks go far. I think he feels bamboozled. Anyhoo, nicely done, Kris.

Danny Gokey takes on September, by Earth, Wind, and Fire. Okay, so, with apologies to all of the Danny fans out there, I don't know that I think his performances are stellar week after week, and there are only a couple of bad notes separating him and Lil. No; I take that back. Danny is working' the stage, and DrunkPaula is out of her seat, and I like this vocal. Randara really likes this, noting that he turned a song without a lot of melody into something great. Paula taps into *her* inner cougar saying he has one of the sexiest voices she's ever heard, and I agree. The raspy works for me. Simon doesn't disagree with the other judges but says he's not sure it's a good performance, and I think I get what he's saying. He's sort of agreeing with Kara that this may not be all that memorable. I don't know. I think at this point, Danny and Matt are splitting the r&b vibe voters, so it's too tight to call.

Alison Iraheta - Hot Stuff, by Donna Summer. And it's taken me this long to figure it out -- her voice reminds me of Adele. Okay, I like her hair better without those unforgiving bangs, but I don't know if I like this performance. It's different, and it has a bit of a rocker thing going on, which helps her, because that's who is she is, but something about this is not working for me, particularly because she's still a little jumpy for me. And I REALLY want her to stay out of Madonna's 1990 wardrobe. Randara doesn't love the arrangement, but notes she's one of the best singers in the competition, and Randy says she proves his point every week, and I'm not sure, even after 8 years, what his point is. Paula doesn't mind the arrangement because it's authentic, like she is (have a sip, Paula). Simon says it was a brilliant performance, despite her coming into this week as an underdog.

Adam Lambert - he has the Ken Doll hair, which I like. He's doing If I Can't Have You, by Yvonne something-or-other. He's slowed this down to a ballad of yearning, and wow. It really, really works. This cat can sing. And as much as I enjoyed his Smokey Robinson week, this is my favorite performance of Adam's, and perhaps in my top 5 of this season. Paula is sitting there with tears in her eyes...can you IMAGINE what sort of monosyllabic babbling she's about to do? Randara call him inspiring and that he's brilliant, and 19 Entertainment claps with glee over the records this kid is going to sell. And then Paula starts waving her hands and I'm hypnotized by her jewelry and she says something rather unintelligible, and the look that Simon is giving her is priceless. I think that Paula thinks she's connected this performance with Adam's worst love affair, and there is something about Adam's over the top look and eyeliner that reminds me of Boy George, and anyone who knows me knows that I still feel like John from Culture Club is one of the biggest bastards on the planet, allowing George's love to go unrequited and driving him into a downward spiral of drugs and shame (read the bio, people! It's heartbreaking). Simon says his vocals were immaculate, which is high praise. Ryan notes that his (Adam's) vocals had melted Paula in a pool of "Abdul" (translation: Red Sky, Absolut, Grey Goose...) There is something about Adam that's very unassuming, and very friendly, and I like how he's never once looked smug as the judges heaped all that praise on him, and for that, I officially declare myself an Adam fan. Good thing, because he's gonna win this thing.

Matt Giraudi - Stayin' Alive. Right off the bat, I'm not loving this song choice, but let's see. Bad hair day hat is back. And oh...how it pains me to write this, but I don't love this. He got it right with the BeeGees, but I think that he would have been better off with a ballad, because his voice is so lovely and we didn't get a chance to see that with this song. A slow, pared down version of "How Deep is your Love" would have been a much better choice. Boo! I'm sad that this wasn't better. Randy notes that he can really sing, but he hated everything else. Kara notes (and I agree -- kill me now) that he bought disco back, as no one had stayed with the true theme of disco. Paula takes about 100 words to say she liked it and that Matt will be sticking around after that. Simon didn't like it, saying it came over as a bit desperate, and that it wasn't a great vocal. While I hope Paula's right, I wasn't as into it as she was.

My man Anoop Desai finishes out the night with Dim All the Lights. I was really hoping that this was going to stay slow and I would have said Anoop is the smartest performer, making the most of what he has. But it speeds up. But it doesn't get crazy fast, and you still get to hear Anoop's lovely voice. I like it okay...oh no. Okay, I'm eh on this. It ended awkwardly and not great, and you can tell that Anoop isn't loving this performance. Randy says that Anoop's arrangement is kind of corny, but that he can sing. Kara really likes it, saying he's really hitting his stride. Paula, well, it's the end of the night so we got some words like magic and real men wearing pink (he does look nice...the shadow beard works for him). Simon hates it. Just plum hates it. Says it's his worst.

Bottom 3? Lil, Anoop, and Matt. Anoop has the mathlete vote and gets sent back to the sofa of safety. But you know...? Maybe Matt benefits from his fans (like me) calling like mad because he was so close to elimination, in which case, Alison joins the bottom three, and if that's the case, I think it's the end of the road for Anoop. If I were Lil, I'd soak in the mansion jacuzzi one last time. Then I'd pack and get excited about joining my kids again. Even the review of her performance was really harsh for me.

Okay, so it's over, and I've caught the beginning of this show with Pacey from Dawson's Creek. If anyone would like to write me and tell me what the heck this show is about, I'd love to know.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Sound of Music

The (Hollywood) Hills are alive with the soundtrack of music. I was too tired and too emotional last night (and I didn't get home until almost 9), so DVR held onto Idol for me until this morning, when I was in the mood for some fun. So, the Idols take on movies under the watchful eye of a legend. Quentin Tarantino. And right away, I'm feeling old because I will agree that Tarantino movies, while not always my taste, were evolutionary in their way. I don't like my legends to be my age. But notice how Quentin does THIS...is aMERican Idol (I'm telling you Ryan is the real star of this show. I love him.

So, any guesses on who does Aerosmith's I don't Wanna Miss A Thing? I'm going with Anoop. Somebody's gonna do it.

Okay, so is it that the judges are seated on Tuesdays, but walk out on Wednesdays. Ryan owns the stairs coming down. I feel just today I've started to openly love Ryan. Why does Randy Jackson always raid Dr. Huxtable's closet? Why does Kara always question everything (though her hair is gorgeous). Paula is sporting a dog choker of diamonds. It's startling and disconcerting all at once.

There's some discussion of last week running over, and to assuage America, they are altering somewhat so that only two judges at a time will talk. So only 1/2 of these kids will get any useful criticism. I'm really digging this short saluting Quentin, and they flashback to him giving Diana DiGarmo what for. I think I would enjoy working for Tarantino, or he would make me cry every day, not sure.

First up - Alison Iraheta - singing I Don't Want to Miss A Thing - I guessed wrong. I didn't always like this song, finding it too treacly for Aerosmith, but I came to love it -- the lyrics are so romantic. Now - okay, I love her voice, but I find sometimes that I have to watch her with my eyes closed...she's kind of jumpy. Plus, what the hell is she wearing? She gives a great performance, I think, even when she's jumping around. One thing about Alison, she's steady -- she has been delivering great performances all season and now that we're getting down to so few, I think it's more noticeable. Paula says she has the same special sauce that Adam does (Simon gives Paula the word authentic), but then says she's bbq sauce -- hot and spice (put Paula's cup down, Simy). He goes on to tell her she's the girl's only hope in this competition (Simon is TIRED of Lil. Lil, you better rock this town tonight).

Anoop Desai - Everything I Do, I Do For You, from Robin Hood. Okay, he did find the treacly song book after all. Quentin tells Anoop to growl more, and you know that Quentin wants Anoop to do well, so they can both be former Mathletes who have gone cool. Anoop is so funny -- it's like he's seen every cheesy lounge singer and performs accordingly, but I can't help it. I love his voice and enjoyed this. Randara is doing Anoop's critique, and Randy tells him he's rocking the house, it was in tune. Kara tells him he has found his place, adding soul to pop songs. She said it was one of his best performances and she felt connected to him. Okay, this two-judge-critique isn't working for me.

Adam Lambert - Born to be Wild, Easy Rider - he tells QT that he's going to give it some electronic element...oh, so I got a feeling I'm going to H-A-T-E this. So, I can probably stop blogging about Idol because there is no question that after that, this kid has won this. I feel so sorry for who has to follow that. Paula is a cliche-spewing machine tonight, saying the he dares to dance in the path of greatness and that fortune rewards the brave. Simon, after asking Paula once again what the hell she's talking about, says it was an incredible vocal but that the performance was like watching the Rocky Horror Picture Show, and that he doubts this will be as popular as last weeks. I see his point, I don't know that anyone will say that was just "okay" Adam is growing on me, I admit, and I think it's because what I used to find "poser" about him, I now view as a good performer. He worked that stage like a pro tonight, and that's what going to sail him to the finals, he gets that that whole stage is his and he works it, and he works with the band...Nicely done, Adam.

Awww...dang! Matt is following that. That's okay though -- we know that Matt Giraudi has chops. He's singing Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman, Don Juan DiMarco. Another treacly song that I really enjoy. QT seems to enjoy it, but I wonder if he (Matt) thinks he has a funny shaped head because he always has a hat on. Or not..maybe he just had a bad hair day, because it's performance time and no hat. Okay, so, with the exception of a couple of rough notes in the middle, I really liked this. Randara heard what I heard, but go onto say that it was a rough performance that he 'lost more than he won' tonight. I don't see where he flipped it as much as they say he did...it sounded pretty true to the original. I also thought his piano performance really complimented his vocal. It didn't overpower it, and it was so effortless you didn't really notice it (are you still watching, Scott?) I would have liked to have heard what Simon thought, really.

Danny Gokey - no glasses - Endless Love from the also titled movie - So QT gives some great performance advice about not using his hands too much. Okay, maybe I'm emotional from yesterday, maybe I'm imagining that Danny is singing this to his wife, maybe I just love this song and the harp, maybe I'm just a big ole sap because I'm sitting here with a lump in my throat, and I really liked it. Paula calls it beautiful after wondering if it was in the right key. Simon is *disappointed* because of the harp, and that he did the song so traditionally, and he was bored. But then, having said that, Simon realizes that Danny was probably a choked up mess singing it, and congratulates him on his vocal. Translation -- I hated this, but I like you, so I'm not going to slam you too bad.

Kris Allen - Falling Slowly from Once - And I applaud him for choosing something new. This may hurt him though, because I think people take points off in their mind for songs they don't know, myself included. This song begins kind of slow...but I do like it, and I like him. His rendition of this song is very sweet, and I think he did a great job. Randy doesn't like it - he says it was pitchy from note 1. Kara notes that it's difficult to 'pick an obscure song', but that for her, it was one of his best moments. I'm with Kara. Not something I write often.

Lil Rounds - Remember what I just said Girl...you must bring the house DOWN. She's singing The Rose...oh what movie is this song from...anyhoo, I *like* this, but she's not bringing the house down. And how unfortunate for her that Simon will be giving the critique. Okay, that transition was much better in rehearsal, and is it me or is she missing notes all over the place? What's happened to her? She was so much better than this in the beginning? Seriously, has she let her nerves get to her with all of the bad review week after week? Paula says that it's a road worth taking since she's come this far, which means...what? Simon just point blank says he has no idea what she (Paula) is saying, and starts off with "once again", telling her she got it completely wrong, too middle of the road, that she had some nice moments in there, but that there's no excuses anymore. And then he brings down the hammer, telling her that she's not the artist they met 7 or 8 weeks ago and that he's getting frustrated. Wow. This is akin to when he told Michael Sarver that he wasn't good enough to win. Lil lips off, further making me think it's time for her to go. The fact is (and I can't believe I'm about to say this again) Kara is right. Lil cannot make that leap from singer to artist, and it's hurting her. The same could be said for Anoop, I think, but it hurts her more because Anoop continues to deliver strong lovely vocals. Lil's vocals are, at best, streaky. She's not yet had *that* moment, the David Cook Billie Jean moment, the Kelly Clarkson Natural Woman moment, the Fantasia Summertime moment, the Adam Lambert Tracks of my Tears moment...you see where I'm going with this. She's done nothing to make me think she could win this thing, and even being 7 in, and we all know that it's not just the winner who gets a record deal anymore, I don't know that Lil will do much with 19 Entertainment beyond the tour. Too bad.

Okay -- so, that's it. Bottom three Lil, Kris (only because that song wasn't very familiar), and ... while it pains me...Matt. I really hope that my bottom 3 is wrong though. I think Matt goes back to the sofa of safety, and should it be Kris, he gets a legitimate shot at the judge's save.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Better Days

Okay, some of you might have noticed that my blogs are always titled songs. I chose "Better Days" tonight because just about everyone I know calls this "The Grandma Song".

So, time flew by and stood still all at once as I barreled to the inevitable conclusion of having to say good-bye to my Grandmother for the last time. As a woman of faith, I know that my grandmother's soul left this earth seven days ago. But there was still the matter of the funeral. My grandmother, knowing her time was getting short planned the entire service. Which comes as no surprise -- my grandmother likes to plan her own parties, and this, her last one, she ensured was going to be a beaut. So, here are my random observations on the day, in no particular order.

1. Rain, however appropriate for the occasion, complicates things. Umbrellas are a logistical nightmare.

2. I love St. Mary's County -- I love being from there, and it will always be home to me. Having said that, in a lot of ways it's like I step into a time warp. I feel like I'm still a kid, but then I see all the people I've known for a lifetime, and I wonder why they look so old. Life is hard on some. I saw the first person I ever had a crush on and he had no front teeth. What is that?

3. My family is too big. It's virtually impossible to agree on anything. I knew when, at the private family viewing, my aunts started arguing that this was going to be a long day. My family forgot to keep the *fun* in dysfunctional, and I hope in time they can put back together what their sadness and resentment over the years led them to break.

4. There is nothing more comforting for me than the hug from a friend in a time of grief. Hugs through shared grief are nice, and necessary, but it's the ones from your friends -- the family you've chosen - the ones who come solely to offer you support that make you break down, and then sustain you. Maybe it's because in those times, you can be really selfish -- break down, cry, admit that you are not okay. I'm not sure really; I just know that at some point I did something right to have the network of friends that I have. Between the people who were there and the people who called, it's humbling, and a great tribute to what really matters.

5. I was overwhelmed today by the circle of life. I learned today that my grandmother was married in that church. I was baptized, made my 1st Holy Communion, and was Confirmed in that same church, and was back today to say goodbye to someone who has had such a profound effect on the course of my life. I almost expected Monsignor Harris to come out and deliver the eulogy. Of course, he's like 150 now, so he would have been moving slow.

6. I hate when they close the casket in the church, and having to leave the grave site. And I wish that I hadn't seen the workers covering her grave as I was leaving. It's how it goes, but it still sucks.

What follows is what I said in church today about my Grandmother. I will miss her. A lot.

As I watched Miss Fancy courageously battle her illness over the past year, I’ve thought a lot about who she was, and what she’s taught me. There’s not enough time to adequately describe everything she taught me, every memory I will cherish of her, and I would probably forget some of them if I tried. Much of what I learned at her knee was about getting things done. I learned how to snap peas and green beans. I learned how to do laundry. I don’t enjoy it as much as she did, and don’t expect I ever will, but I know how to do it. I know that keeping clothes in the refrigerator makes them easier to iron. I learned how to make cream of wheat last summer when she wanted some and I had no idea what to do. It was my Grandmother who told me to always buy two pairs of shoes at once. I learned that it’s just best to go to a bakery to buy rolls because I could never figure out how hers always came out so perfectly. Some lessons are learned the hard way.

But the things I learned just by watching Grandma are the things that will stick with me the most. My grandmother was very loyal. I watched her take care of my grandfather and my great-grandfather through age and illness, and she did it so quietly, I did not know for years later what a testament of love and loyalty it was. I learned that you can be firm without raising your voice. It’s not that she didn’t yell, but I was far more frightened when she was quiet. I learned that generosity is not always about your wallet, but your time. I know this because she always had time for me. She stayed on the phone while I made macaroni and cheese the first time, warning me that if she didn’t, I’d make a mess of it. So many times when she went to the grocery store it was because one of her kids or grandkids had asked her to make something – vegetable soup, macaroni and cheese, apple-walnut bars, a pound cake. And watching her in the kitchen, I learned that the best cooks not only follow directions, but put a little love in it. I never knew how she remembered that I didn’t eat coconut, but my cousin Ronnie did. I learned the value of hard work, knowing now that my grandmother worked tirelessly until her retirement, and yet there was always a hot meal on the table after we got home from school. I learned that a good cook makes too much, but a great host always has room for one more. I can only hope, particularly in the days to come, that I have learned something about strength.

I imagine last Tuesday, when the good Lord called her home, he greeted her with a hug, saying “well done my good and faithful servant”, and that’s perhaps the greatest lesson of all: to live a life worthy of my grandmother and the lessons she taught – to be loved as she was loved, and to someday fill such a lovely church with such lovely faces.

[For those of you looking, my Idol ramblings will post tomorrow sometime before the elimination show]

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Forever Young

Okay, so, by now those of you who hang out on Facebook know that I lost my Grandmother today...and while I have some thoughts on that, for now I'm content to lose myself in Idol Tuesday. Thank you for the condolences and the well wishes...and with that...

DVR knows what's been going on, so it was faithful enough to record, even though I didn't get home until almost 10. So I don't know who's made a mess of what tonight. Starting off, I notice that we are down to 2 ladies...I'm betting that the new Idol will be a man. Just playing the odds. I'm also thinking that Ryan's "This. Is AMERican Idol" will become a part of television lexicon, joining Chuck Woolery's "two and two" and Don Cornelius' "we wish you love, peace, and SOOOOOOUUUUUUUUUULLLLLLLLL". I wonder if Bryan (or was it Ryan) Dunklemann, the genius who decided that American Idol wouldn't last beyond Season 1 and declined to be a cohost is still drinking.

Tonight, it's songs from the year you were born, and we are treated to baby pictures of the hosts before the show begins. Randy was cute; Kara looks as pissy as she is now; even Ryan comments that she looks in her picture as she made a poopie. Paula Abdul is adorable...but it's not a baby picture. Neither is Simon's, and despite his protestations that it wasn't him, you can tell that it totally IS him. And Ryan was an adorable kid, which is no surprise.

It' the Elite 8 on American Idol. Starting with Danny Gokey. The oldest contestant on American Idol was born in 1980. Oh for pity sake...I was in 5th grade when Danny was born. FIFTH GRADE. I was practically old enough to drink. He's doing Stand by Me, a version released in 1980. Pretty sneaky, Sis. (Another commercial reference for those of you who were born BEFORE 1980). First off, I like the rimless frames on Danny. Okay, this version speeds up. Interesting. Oh... Paula's on her feet already! This promises to be fun. Okay, so...I *liked* this. It was fine...his vocals were Danny-like, but this did not blow me out of the water. I don't love this arrangement after all. Oh, Randara doesn't love the arrangement either, but he loves Danny, so it's fine that the performance was eh...Kara comment that he made it his own. Paula says he's opened the show and set the bar so high that everyone will have to run to catch up. Simon asks Paula why she talks like that (just now? he questions it). Simon says the beginning was good, the middle was lazy, and the end was terrific, which means that Danny is definitely a frontrunner because they were not at all snappy for a performance that I thought was a teeny bit phoned in.

Next up? Kris Allen - All She Wants to Do is Dance, by Don Henley, 1985. Okay, by 1985, I had friends who had driver's licenses...gracious. So tonight, Kris is in the mosh pit and I am LOVING this arrangement of this song. It's very very funky and I'm loving it. Paula is sitting down showing blatant favoritism -- THIS is making me tap my feet. He's got a great voice, and even though this song didn't exactly showcase that, I enjoyed this performance. Kara feels like funking it up cost the song its youth and didn't love it. Paula didn't like it because she starts off with something that makes no sense, she likes him, but not the performance. Simon says it's indulgent, boring and forgettable. Simon then, when the audience calls Kris hot, saying he is too, but that's not what it's about. I kind of agree with Randy when he says that the arrangement was so good that he failed to notice his song. Everyone's eh...

Lil Rounds -- What's Love Got to Do With It...and she starts with the little Tina stutter step. And how nice for her that she's got hot wheels (translation -- great legs). Lil looks gorgeous tonight -- she's making me want to go back to my stylist and get bangs. Okay, so maybe my mood isn't Idol-riffic...I don't love this. It's almost as though Lil kind of blows through the beginning of her songs to get to the power part, and it's really kind of mediocre, and I hate typing that. Okay, Paula begins with how hot she looks (but what the hell is Paula wearing on her arm? It looks like a badge), but whenever Paula begins with physical, she's not a fan of the vocal. And she wasn't, giving a lucid critique of the song, saying that she's kind of starting to sound karaoke. I'm with it. Simon attempts to paraphrase Paula, and calls it a ghastly copycat performance, saying that he's lost her and doesn't know who she is and that they are not looking for a 3rd rate Tina Turner. Okay, so the stutter step seems to have hurt her. Paula points out (correctly) that is what she said and Simon says he makes more sense than Paula...and with that, Simon has a nickname: Captain Obvious. Randy breaks up their spat by once again reiterating that they love her, but the bloom is off the rose - Randy says that he doesn't think Lil is listening to their critiques (Simon also said that she's either getting bad advice or she's not listening). Kara says she thinks Lil is struggling to make the leap from singer to artist, and I can almost see what she's saying, and then she says she has to pay attention to her lower register and not just the power, and once again, I wonder when AI will call me for a job.

I don't normally comment on commercials, but 1)I think I may need an iPod touch, and 2) I want to see this chick flick with Jennifer Garner and Matthew McConaugHEEEY, because I like her, and well, he's just...good.

Anoop Desai starts off by saying Go Heels,and I can guaran-darn-tee you that I will not like what he sings, regardless of what it is because of that comment. Apparently, Anoop got hankty last week with Kara and he apologizes for lipping off and says he wasn't himself. I missed that. Anoop was born in 1986; I was in my senior year of high school. Anoop was an absolutely beautiful child. He's singing True Colors, a song I love. And if he weren't a TarHeel fan, I'd tell you that once again, Anoop's ability to sing a ballad is amazing. I love to hear him sing when he's not trying to impress his Mathletes friends by singing Usher (and when he's not talking about UNC). I was going to comment that his inability to speed up the tempo will ultimately hurt him because it's not versatile, but then I remember that Baby Archuleta got to the finals the same way...so we'll see. Randy congratulates Anoop on the UNC win (dead to me), and likes what he did and says he's impressive, that it was a nice, controlled vocal. Kara says he controlled the song, and not the other way around and she, along with Paula praise his song choice, and then Paula takes a sip of kool-aid and says his voice was truly magical, like a rainbow. Captain O gives Paula the look, saying this week was good, but that last week was abysmal. He then says that Anoop doesn't have to apologize for his reaction, that it's a back and forward. Kara says she doesn't remember the exchange, and even though she seems sincere, I'm not sure I buy it. Kara doesn't seem that easy going, and if the Idol mansion was tp'd after last week's show, well then, we know who to call, don't we? Anyhoo, he's four for four with the judges.

Scott McIntyre -- The Search is Over (is this REO Speedwagon?) - Scott has lost the piano and has a guitar. And oh Scott...what to say. The vocals are credible, I think, but...I don't love this either. I found his guitar playing to be clunky and not nearly as effortless as his piano playing, and the falsetto made me uncomfortable. I don't hate it, but he just doesn't have enough Idol Equity with me at this point for me to be ehh about this. Kara says she wouldn't have picked this song as it's a very difficult (SERIOUSLY?) , that some parts were ambitious. Paula gives him credit for stepping away from the guitar but that she was surprised it wasn't acoustic, and while some of his high notes were screechy, overall she says "bravo", and right here, I'm calling bullsh!t on Paula. You say all of that and then you say "bravo" why, exactly? Yeah, Scott is a sweetheart and I do enjoy him personally, but none of that has anything to do with the fact that he is a solidly mediocre singer and the "bravo" is a "bravo for being visually impaired and doing all this". As much as I feel like I've patronized Scott this season, I've never done that. [folds up soapbox and puts it away]. So Simon tells him to stick with the piano, and that he is obviously not comfy now and that the song was atrocious and that the guitar playing wasn't much better. Randy says it was just all okay and didn't show him as one of the best undiscovered singers in the country (because he ain't). Scott tries to lip off and they cue the music, which makes me laugh, oddly enough. Moving on...

Alison Iraheta was born 1992 - and I wasn't a student at all...I was just a working slob in the city (which is different from now...uh...wow) She sings I can't Make You Love Me, and this better be good because this is one of my favorite songs and I think I've demonstrated I'm not in the mood for much tonight. Sixteen...damn girl! You can sing! She does Ms. Bonnie proud, and the jazzy lilt of her voice complements this song well. It's great, in my opinion. Paula says that you hear one note and you know it's her and some other stuff that I don't know because again, I'm blinded by her wrist medallion. Simon says he thinks it really good, but says she needs to be more likable, but amends it, saying that they just don't know her well and that on a show like this (read: popularity contest) that's important...Randy compares her to Kelly Clarkson, and tells her to engage the public more because she's one of the best singers tonight. Kara loves it and says that Allison took this song and made it young...but did she really? Allison's hook, in my opinion, is that she has such an old voice.

Matt Giraudi - another cute kid - Part Time Lover - this could be a mess...let's hope it's okay. Okay, I like it - Matt's got his Justin Timberlake on full display, and it doesn't bother me. For some reason, I have this really inappropriate crush on Justin Timberlake. He was in a boy band, he flaked on Janet during the Superbowl Wardrobe Malfunction, and he dumped my girl Cameron Diaz, and yet, I just think he's so talented and sexy, I almost giggle when I see him on tv. Paula's on her feet working her Fly Girl moves. I see her hugging on Simon and I wonder if it's a coincidence that she's hugging Simon during a song called Part Time Lover (or, if she tripped -- I can't dance when I'm drunk either). Okay -- I really loved this, but they just may comment on him losing himself in the arrangement. I don't think that's true, because I liked that jazzy scat thing he was doing...yes, this worked for me. Randaraula are in heaven -- the all love the hell out it -- Randy saying it was the best of the night. Paula says "two words: standing o". Simon rushes through his critique saying it was so much better than last week, and very well done, and I wonder if they are pressed for time. I kind of thought that performance deserved more basking.

And, I see why they rushed because DVR cut off at 9:01. And apparently, this show didn't end until 9:05 maybe...DAMMIT! DVR let me down. I'm going to check You Tube real quick...I feel like my blog is not done...

Okay, I found it on Photobucket (I'm committed to this). Adam Lambert sings Mad World, a song I never heard before, so I have no basis for comparison. Having said that, when Adam Lambert was a baby God reached down and touched his vocal chords. His voice is incredible. I'm not sure I love the song, but I know that I just heard a really incredible vocal, and unless this kid effs up royally, he will be in the finals for Season 8. Again, get rid of the ridiculous make up and the screech and just sing, Boy. Wow. Simon can barely contain himself, notes that he's the only one talking due to the time crunch and stands up. That might be the first ever standing ovation from Simon. Well done, Adam. I did a little research on Wiki, and it appears this song was a Pre-Everybody Wants to Rule the World from Tears for Fears. Impressive.

Okay, that's a wrap...bottom three? Oh it's gets hard at this point, but on the strength of tonight's performances -- Scott, Lil, and I'm pressed to pick a third.


Friday, April 3, 2009

A Change is Gonna Come

Okay, so, I got my hair cut last week. My hair has borne the stress of the last year, and it finally decided to stage a mutiny (taking the place of my uterus, I guess). Anyhoo, I held out as long as I could -- and when I realized that my hair was an uneven mess and it was taking me 20 minutes to arrange it -- I had the equivalent of a comb over. And -- and this is important -- I HAD to wear headbands. Now I'm all about the headbands as accessory, but to need to wear it so that your hair doesn't look a hot mess is a problem. It's one of my mantras -- if you HAVE to wear hair toys daily, you need to visit your stylist. So, I pulled up my big-girl panties, went to my backup stylist (who's now my main stylist -- you can't have a stylist that you can't trust to tell you when your hair looks like sh!t), and told her I trusted her as she picked up the scissors.

And I love it.

It's much shorter, and so much healthier. I thought for a while that it was too serious, because it's straight, but Walter said it was cute, and my work boyfriend said it was playful (and look for a blog in the future on the merits of a work spouse). And I've gotten a lot of compliments on it. Best of all, it takes me about 5 minutes to do in the morning AND my headbands are now accoutrement, once more.

So, I kind of feel like this haircut is a good parallel of my life -- I spend a lot of time not making decisions that ultimately put me in a better place than I was before. And after it's done, I wonder what took me so long in the first place. It took me about six months to buy an iPod, and now I own two. Back in my single days, it took me such a long time to dump the few boyfriends I had that they usually beat me to the punch. I'm very change-averse -- I hate it. I think that's why it takes me so long to make decisions sometimes, I'd just as soon not change anything. My boss retired last year, and I hated the thought of getting her job. And I've been in the job for almost a year and tried very hard not to change anything. Which I've decided means I haven't been doing a very good job (but don't tell anyone). I don't like changing paint color in my house -- what if I hate it? I cried like a baby the day after my wedding; I was very happy with Walter, but as I told him, I was all grown up now! I am still mad that Mike Walter is no longer on Channel 9 News in the morning. Guiding Light is ending after SEVENTY TWO years of production, and while I never watched it, I couldn't help but wonder what was going to be on Channel 9 at 3 in the afternoons now. No, I don't do well with change.

But -- change is a must. To not change is to stagnate. I would probably have been bored if my job hadn't changed. Obviously, making a life with Walter is one of the best things I ever did...it's funny how life works out. Having to change Alex's clothes out what seems like every day because he's growing so much is a constant reminder that life goes on...and even though I'm wistful at watching Alex change and grow (into someone who called me Mean Momma tonight), I embrace the change -- the growth -- I see within him.

Here's the thing -- life is constantly changing. It changes all around you. People retire, folk move away, grandparents pass away, your parents get older (and odder) as they assume the top of the family tree. People divorce, the people you love the most are the people you get to see the least, you work ten hour days to please someone who seems impossible to please, and just when you get into a rhythm, he shuts down and it seems inevitable that he's leaving. Life spins on a dime all the time, and while I grapple with decisions, often times decisions are made for me. Last summer I was so consumed with how I was going to do in my new job that I failed to notice that my body had deteriorated to the point of transfusions and surgery. I was so busy wondering if I should try pregnancy again that I didn't notice that I didn't feel well (and then God helped Dr. Aron make that decision for me). You love people and lose them and you think that you'll never get over them, until you do, until it's three or four (or ten) years later you're living the life of your dreams -- the life you never would have had if you hadn't let go of the one that wasn't working for you in the first place.

I'm still change-averse, but I'm going to work on it. I'm going to try very hard to start embracing change...to be excited about what's on the other side. I'm going to try to make more decisions - better ones - because I need to no longer fear change. I don't want Alex to fear change.

Maybe I should start by finally taking the fibre optic Christmas Tree down. Even Alex is starting to look at it and say..."Momma?"