Thursday, May 22, 2008

American Idol ~ Season 7, It's a Wrap

So that stuff in yesterday's post about making peace with the decision and how it was really better that David A. won: Never mind! Lo and behold, the most deserving David triumphed after all. O ye of little faith in the American Idol voting public.

David Cook is probably mature and secure enough as a person and musician to do his best to avoid AI genericism (real word?). Kelly Clarkson has held her own, and David C's likely starting out in a more assured place than she was. (Don't do a movie, David, only advice.) He may not hold onto his hair for too many more years, but if he holds on to his integrity and his tender side, he could blossom into a very fine artist. Watching him on stage last night with Archie (side by side, it was clear who was the stronger presence) and with ZZ Top (!), he totally looked like he belonged there.

As for David Archuleta, it will be fascinating to see what becomes of him. He certainly has no shortage of talent and ambition. He has a musical future, perhaps literally. (Clay without the scary looks factor?) He could be dropped into a 50s teen musical as the good kid, and time would stand still. The obvious thing would be to market him in as many ways as possible asap to his very devoted, very young fan base, reaping short-term rewards and massive overexposure, but then what? (Rehab? Start all over again?) The other obvious thing would be Christian music, god forbid. If the Christian music makers are smart, and I've no doubt they are, they're already knocking on his door. With his innocent looks and that innocent voice: all too perfect. Resist, David, resist! My choice would be for him to lose a little of the gee-whiz puppy-dog cuteness (aging and world experience usually take care of that), eventually--after AI contracts and Dad are out of the way--find some pop geniuses to work with à la Justin Timberlake, and work towards a George Michaelish smooth sophistication, preferably without GM's run-ins with drugs and restroom cops. If he's honest about who he is, once he knows who he is, and is clever about packaging it, little David could stay a big pop star.

Bonne chance to both Davids. And get well wishes to Luke Menard, one of the nice guys in the top 24, who's been diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

American Idol ~ David vs. David

I've made my peace with it. David Archuleta will be the next American Idol. It is for the best.

If you look at Season 7 as a whole, who was more creative, had the most memorable performances, took the most chances, was the most vocally versatile, improved his hairstyle enormously? David Cook. In seasonal terms, he is the winner. He is still my winner.

But last night David Archuleta won the battle, and on American Idol, winning the battle means winning the war. Or should I be putting this all in boxing terms given the stupendously strange Boxing Introduction? See, David A. won it right there. He--all "100 pounds soaking wet" of him (some young fans are gonna be memorizing that line for later use)--looked happy to be prancing around in his miniature silk boxing robe, whereas David C. looked like he thought it was as silly as it was. Therein lies the difference. Beneath David A's I-can't-believe-this-is-happening-wow-you-like-me-really? facade is 100% pure competitive muscle, don't be mistaken. When the "desire to win" was brought up, David C. said, for him, the competition was over. Yup.

Nokia. Nokia. Nokia. It seemed mandatory that everyone use this word (cause they were in the Nokia Theater) as much as possible last night, so I'll get it out of the way. Nokia. Nokia. Nokia.

Clive Davis was in the Nokia House, looking not a day over 90. As was Andrew Lloyd Weber, who may be considering tossing off musical theater composition in favor of full-time mentoring and eyebrow choreography.

The boys started off with songs selected by that young buck, Clive, who perhaps showed his leanings by choosing the absolute most perfect song for David A. to sing, Elton John's "Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me." Of course, George Michael is no stranger to this song, either, and didn't I compare David A. to GM during Neil Diamond week? (Clive, my homeboy, you listened to me!) It was a perfect song because it allowed David A. to use his ballad diva skills but with more energy and less sugar than some of his performances. For those who "don't get" David A., this song should have been an, "Ok, I get it now" moment. Watch it, GM, David A's on your ass, and not in the public toilet sense.

Clive gave David C. U2's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For," also a good choice, maybe too good. Bono once told Rolling Stone that the song is "'an anthem of doubt more than faith.'" Maybe that's why Clive picked it? Doubt set the tone for David C's night. The powers-that-be probably had some doubts, too. That David, he's a risk-taker, uh-oh. We like that sort of thing early in the season, but in the finale, not so much.

For the "2nd Round," each David got to pick a song from among the Top 10 in the AI-sponsored Songwriting Competition. (Why must they have this competition? Does anyone ever like these "winning" songs?) David C. went with a rocker. David A. went with a ballad, a sappy ballad, a "fantastically self-centered" ballad, Simon proclaimed, making it a perfect choice for proms and David A., or a future combination of the two. David C. sang his choice with the respect it deserved (not too much), while David A. sold the schmaltz with all the genuine faux sincerity he could muster (or he could've actually liked the song, it's all too possible), which is a lot, enabling Randy to use the phrases "in the zone" and "sing the phone book" one last time.

Lastly, the boys each got to pick their favorite song to sing. Surprise, surprise, David A. chose to do a tried-and-true "Imagine" encore, knowing that strength is found in the familiar and that this song was his strongest of the season. A completely unimaginative choice that smartly reminded all of us with weak memory spans of David A's finest moment. David C. could have pulled the same logical trick, taking "Hello" or "Billie Jean" for a nostalgic go-round, but no. "Why do something I've already done?" he said. (Because you'd have a much better chance of winning? There's one good reason!) He sang Collective Soul's "The World I Know," a song he'd never performed before. He sang it tenderly, without vocal fanfare or pyrotechnics. It was subtle. It showed artistry. He was teary after the performance. I love the guy. It was the nail in his AI coffin. Paula gave a standing-O (the kind you give candidates who need to concede), which David C. deserved, but Simon was right when he said it was absolutely the wrong song for the finale.

But was it? I've made peace with David A. winning over David C. because I think, ultimately, it will be best this way for both of them. David A. will have a new stage parent, the American Idol corporation and all that suggests. (Given the rumors over the season, it seems David A. could use a new stage parent pronto, one that might transition him towards being a person of his own. I hope, as soon as David turns 18, Dad is sent far far away till the album's done.) David C., on the other hand, by losing, will, presumably, have freer rein over his music, which can only benefit him since his energy is more creative than competitive. Plus, isn't it cooler to lose American Idol than it is to win it? (I mean, look at Clay Aiken.?! Oops, never mind, bad example.) David A. needed to win this because winning it was his goal, his dream, his raison d'être since he popped from the womb. David C. needs to hold on to his integrity, and it will be easier for him to do that as a loser.

So, it all worked out perfectly, right? Everyone's happy? We'll see tonight.

My final favorite performances of Season 7, one from David A., one from David C. Just to be fair. Now if only the Democratic primary could conclude so peacefully.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Justice Is Served!

The California Supreme Court, in a 4-3 decision, has overturned the state ban on gay marriage. A historic day, and history will be on our side. (Not a bad birthday present for me, either.) Bravo to the judges who wrote this clear, wise, and right decision. Opponents will be pushing a ballot (i.e. bigotry) initiative that would allow California voters to amend the constitution to ban same-sex marriage, stripping away a right that's just been granted. To his credit, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, though he's previously vetoed legislation that would have granted same-sex marriage, does not support the right-wing amendment to overturn the ruling.

As the dust settles today, reactions are coming from various quarters, some jubilant of course, others less enthusiastic. There is a good summary of responses over at Joe.My.God.

Towleroad reported yesterday about the gross inaccuracies in CNN's initial coverage of the decision. In CNN's haste to put the story on the air (quick is better than right, right?), the talking head only read a short copy about the decision rather than a "much longer" one he'd "have to click on" (god forbid!), thus presuming the decision went the other way. Meanwhile, their "legal analyst," who admitted she didn't even hear what the talking head said, went on to comment at length based on misheard erroneous reporting. As they're speaking, it's obvious they have no idea what they're talking about, and the cluelessness continues for 15-20 minutes! You can watch CNN's disgraceful reporting in a Towleroad video. Heads should roll. Apologies should be issued.

A PDF of the full ruling can be found within the LA Times coverage. Here are two excerpts from the ruling:

Furthermore, in contrast to earlier times, our state now recognizes that an 
individual’s capacity to establish a loving and long-term committed relationship
 with another person and responsibly to care for and raise children does not depend
 upon the individual’s sexual orientation, and, more generally, that an individual’s
 sexual orientation — like a person’s race or gender — does not constitute a
 legitimate basis upon which to deny or withhold legal rights. We therefore
 conclude that in view of the substance and significance of the fundamental
 constitutional right to form a family relationship, the California Constitution
 properly must be interpreted to guarantee this basic civil right to all Californians,
whether gay or heterosexual, and to same-sex couples as well as to opposite-sex

A number of factors lead us to this conclusion. First, the exclusion of
 same-sex couples from the designation of marriage clearly is not necessary in
 order to afford full protection to all of the rights and benefits that currently are 
enjoyed by married opposite-sex couples; permitting same-sex couples access to
 the designation of marriage will not deprive opposite-sex couples of any rights and
 will not alter the legal framework of the institution of marriage, because same-sex
 couples who choose to marry will be subject to the same obligations and duties
 that currently are imposed on married opposite-sex couples. Second, retaining the 
traditional definition of marriage and affording same-sex couples only a separate
 and differently named family relationship will, as a realistic matter, impose
 appreciable harm on same-sex couples and their children, because denying such
 couples access to the familiar and highly favored designation of marriage is likely 
to cast doubt on whether the official family relationship of same-sex couples
 enjoys dignity equal to that of opposite-sex couples. Third, because of the
 widespread disparagement that gay individuals historically have faced, it is all the 
more probable that excluding same-sex couples from the legal institution of
 marriage is likely to be viewed as reflecting an official view that their committed relationships are of lesser stature than the comparable relationships of opposite-sex 
couples. Finally, retaining the designation of marriage exclusively for opposite-
sex couples and providing only a separate and distinct designation for same-sex
 couples may well have the effect of perpetuating a more general premise — now
 emphatically rejected by this state — that gay individuals and same-sex couples are in some respects “second-class citizens” who may, under the law, be treated
 differently from, and less favorably than, heterosexual individuals or opposite-sex
 couples. Under these circumstances, we cannot find that retention of the
 traditional definition of marriage constitutes a compelling state interest.
 Accordingly, we conclude that to the extent the current California statutory 
provisions limit marriage to opposite-sex couples, these statutes are

One of the important things the Court points out is that giving gay couples access to marriage will not "deprive opposite-sex couples of any rights," an obvious fact which the opponents to same-sex marriage continually fail to understand. Your "traditional" marriages will carry on as successfully or dysfunctionally as ever, but you will no longer be able to declare your own superiority, and that is something the opponents to this humane decision cannot stand.

Opposition to the ruling by a right wing inordinately preoccupied with homosexuality is hardly a surprise. They'll be spouting off till doomsday, which they probably think is soon upon us because of this ruling. What surprises me is reactions from people who might otherwise be described as liberal or progressive. On Towleroad, a liberal "site with homosexual tendencies" run by a gay man with a mostly gay readership, the reaction--while not completely uniform--was tears and joy. This decision hit our hearts, practically and emotionally, and reading the decision the long-term justness of it is indisputable. Peek in on reader comments on The Huffington Post, another generally liberal but much straighter site, however, and you'll read a different story. Comments like this:

It's also bad because it brings gays back into the MSM national debate. The media loves this wedge issue, and as of right now, it's a losing one for the left. All press is bad press for progressives when it comes to gays unfortunately. So it should be avoided. Gay acceptance will naturally occur over the long haul so long as the progressive movement is allowed to move forward.

All progressives must stand for equal rights and support civil unions no matter what. But calling it marriage is a serious problem, politically. Personally I don't care what it's called. But other people do. I just know that going beyond the support of equal rights is the wrong move and will hurt us politically and set the agenda backwards. It's also a bad idea to always want to "bring awareness" to this issue. This isn't the environment we're talking about.

And this:

Gay marriage? Oh, yes, it IS an election year.
And, more than a little interesting is the fact that it was Republican judges who made the ruling, but the Republicans are already using it to attack the Democrats with.
But since when was honesty part of our politics?
I think such issues could be handled just as well at other times -- when right might have an equal chance.

And this:

And since I don't have a dog in this fight -- I'm not gay -- I don't really care that much about the particular issue. That said as long as these couples are given legal rights in terms of finances, medical matter, etc -- as propsed in some state civil unions -- then it seems to me to be a fair compromise, satisfying those on both sides of this argument ....

As opposed to same sex couples demanding for the word 'marriage', which *is* asking for a right that currently does *not*, and never has, legally existed.

And I CAN say with certainty if I were gay, I'd realize that there are far more pressing world and national matters at hand: and I wouldn't allow this issue to galvanize all the attention and the change the result of the '08 election.

To be fair, other commentators on the Huffington Post story called these twerps on their arrogance. For them, gay rights are good, just not when it's politically inconvenient for them, and if it's not quite equal, well, that's ok, cause it doesn't really matter like the other more important progressive issues. We support gay rights, sure, but only when the right wing gives us permission to; meanwhile, you gays should be happy in the middle of the bus, almost right up there with us progressive heterosexuals. The religious zealots will probably never be on our side, but it's dismaying when supposedly liberal people don't really get it either. A sign of the selfishness of our times: if it doesn't affect me personally, it doesn't truly matter. I plead guilty of this, too, and the California victory is a reminder that all civil rights are important and should be struggled for no matter the short-term political consequences and inconveniences. Right is right, even if the timing seems wrong.

I hope Vermont, my home state and the first state in the country to adopt civil unions (something that too often gets forgotten--Vermont got the ball rolling!), will soon join California and Massachusetts. Meanwhile, congratulations California.

Oops! A Cautionary Computer Tale

Proving once again the importance of keeping one's work and home computer, um, materials separate, this cautionary tale from Fairfield, California. A high school art teacher was apparently attempting to give a lesson on using Photoshop during his computer graphic arts class but instead, inadvertently, one presumes, gave a brief lesson on gay porn.

One student described the incident this way:
"He was just clicking on random files, all of a sudden this big image of literally gay porn shows up," said freshman Chris Matthews. "And he's going crazy, looking. Just by that reaction that shows he didn't expect it."

The only thing worse than unexpected figurative gay porn is unexpected literal gay porn. Oops! The student went on to say that the incident was "'disturbing, shocking'" and that the class was "'in a shambles afterwards.'" Lord knows teenagers never seek out porn, gay or otherwise, on their own.

"Some say the teacher denied the picture was his, while others claim the teacher showed little reaction and simply continued with the class." Hmmm, that porn does have a way of sneaking itself unannounced onto one's computer. Or perhaps the teacher did a Google search on an innocuous farmyard phrase and this was the unfortunate result? We gives me an excuse to post one of my favorite related clips by the brilliant French and Saunders:

I'm sure much will be made of the investigation in Fairfield, but I suspect that, assuming the incident is true, the high school students will recover without too many lifelong scars. The class might actually gain newfound popularity.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

American Idol ~ 3 X 3

Now that we're down to the final weeks of American Idol, each of the remaining Top 3 contestants got to perform 3 songs last night, giving them plenty of room to impress or screw up, as the case may be. One song was chosen by the judges (with each judge assigned an Idol), one was chosen by the producers (those names that flash by in the credits, presumably), and one was chosen by the contestants themselves. Simon was the winner. And whichever producer(s) chose the Dan Fogelberg song for David A. was the loser. None of the contestants did themselves particular favors with their own song choices, which makes one wonder.

Let's start with the judges. Paula--proving again that she's not as ditsy as she sometimes seems--picked a Billy Joel song, "And So It Goes," for David A. It wasn't a Joel song I was intimately familiar with so I was just listening to the vocals rather than making comparisons to the original. (Joel's voice isn't much like Archuleta's anyway.) As Simon said, "predictable." But it flowed effortlessly from li . . . . from David, in a good way I thought, and he took his confident time with the lyrics. I think Randy mentioned for perhaps the millionth time that David could "sing the phone book" and it wouldn't matter and that he was "in the zone." Dawg, someone needs to give Randy some new phrases, ones that actually mean something.

Randy picked Syesha's song, which seemed cruel since he bashed her best performance last week and thus isn't a real reliable Sy advocate. He selected "If I Ain't Got You," by Alicia Keys, which delighted Syesha cause she's a fan, but once again it set Syesha up for comparison with an extraordinarily talented (and beautiful to boot) black diva. That's happened too many times this season, and who always loses? Syesha. She held her own, give her credit, on both the vocal and pretty fronts, but Randy, if he weren't Randy, could've done better.

Simon, proving again that he is the smartest as well as the bitchiest judge, picked "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face." Inspired! (Best choice of the evening, hands down.) It gave David C. the chance to be tender, which is his strong suit (Randy, of course, doesn't get this), and to amp it up a bit at the end to maintain the rocker vibe. (I would have been happy if he'd stayed in ballad zone, but that would have confused the typecasting.) As Simon claimed, it's one of the great songs of all time, and I have a particular fondness for it because it was written by Ewan MacColl, father of the late, great Kirsty MacColl, something I only learned long after becoming a major Kirsty fan. It may have just been my allergies, but I think I got a little teary. Certainly my favorite performance of the night.

Apparently the producers can't pick a song to save their lives, go figure. They gave David A. the aforementioned Dan Fogelberg tune (a treacly song made even more sentimental because of Fogelberg's recent death), which was almost like David A. actually singing the phone book. Not really David's fault, but it was as snoozy as a Bing Crosby holiday special. For David C., an Aerosmith song wasn't quite as boring a match, but nearly. Diane Warren was in the house and behind the song, so it was expectedly generic. (Not that I don't sometimes appreciate Diane's work on a long car drive.) Paula was on her feet, but David himself didn't seem that into it. (Giving this song to David A.--now that might have been inspired, or inspirationally disastrous.) Syesha was stuck with "Hit Me Up" aka The Penguin Song. Some drugs must've been floating around the producers' room during that choice. (Or they wanted to ensure Syesha doesn't crack the Top 2.) And the producers strike out.

I'd hoped the contestants themselves would do better than both the judges and the producers. This was a golden opportunity, but they kinda blew it, too. David A. made a valiant but ill-fated attempt to be "more youthful" (never mind the irony of a 17-year-old who looks 12 trying to be more youthful) by doing Chris Brown's "With You." Supposedly David A's Dad has been banned from the backstage area, but I have to believe only a Dad could make such a humiliating, uncool choice. (My theory: Dad wants David A. to only sing songs with "girl" in the lyrics, for more reasons than one.) I mean, really, did David A. honestly want to sing, "I need you boo"? Deep down, did he? David Awkwardleta! Or as Simon put it, "a chihuahua trying to be a tiger." Ouch. (But the girls do love their pet chihuahuas, many of whom might henceforth be named David or Archie.) Moving-gracefully-to-music is right up there with opening-one's-eyes in the list of things David A., precocious as he is, has not yet learned to accomplish on stage. I keep hoping he'll do something surprising and really great, but . . . there's still time. A for Awkward Effort.

David C's choice of Switchfoot's "Dare You to Move" was more predictable, and it's disappointing when David C. is predictable. Simon should have passed him a secret note to do something really geeky and make it cool, cause that's the kind of thing David C. excels at. Paula was right. The song sounded incomplete, and to me it was like so much blah blah blah from today's radio, middle-of-the-road rocker by a band whose name I'll never try to remember. (Maybe that just makes me old? Maybe middle-aged people didn't care about U2 back in their early years, but we'll see if Switchfoot is still around in 2020.) If David C. wants to put the chihuahua back in its place, his next choices had better be better.

Syesha picked Miss Peggy Lee's "Fever" as an excuse for demonstrating her skill at using a chair as a on-stage prop while wearing a short dress and while not pulling a Sharon Stone, something that may come in handy in family-friendly Broadway productions. (Girl's got an eye on her future!) If I'm not mistaken, Syesha disobeyed my permanent ban on the word "fun" escaping an Idol's lips. I think she disobeyed me twice. But I'll give her a break because the judges didn't. Paula was "surprised," which is Paula's way of saying, "WTF, girl?" Simon called it "lame cabaret" and warned that she'd regret it when--big surprise--she's eliminated tonight. I forgot what Randy said, because I've stopped listening to him. I didn't think it was a worse choice than the ones the boys made, but Syesha probably needed to make the *BEST CHOICE EVER* for it to make a difference, and even then. I do have a hard time listening to the song without comparing it to, A) Miss Peggy Lee's untoppably understated and sexy version, and B) the equally untoppable version by the brilliant Dragapella group The Kinsey Sicks in which they demonstrate what a difference one (or two, I suppose) simple letter can make in a song title. (See Sharon Stone reference above.)

Unless there's a true surprise tonight and Syesha fans caught the dialing fever, it will soon be David vs. David. This David is still my choice:

P.S. More proof that being a moron is REEEEEAALY a prerequisite for any FOX "newscaster."

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Idiot of Every Week ~ Bill O'Reilly

I haven't posted an "Idiot of the Week" for a while (not that there haven't been plenty; I've just been lazy), but one can always depend on Bill O'Reilly to be an idiot each and every week. I found this clip via Towleroad. The video seems to be coming down nearly as quickly as it goes up--what ? Bill O' and his legal bullies don't want his infantile little tantrum exposed?--so catch it if/while you can. Who'd have thought that the words "to play us out" would be so opaque (hell, even I knew what they meant) and that Sting could send a man into nuclear breakdown mode? Broadcast unprofessionalism at its best. "We'll do it live!!!! F**king thing sucks!!!!" Classic.

Update: It's not easy to parody a man who is already a parody of himself, but Stephen Colbert gives it his tiny tiny penis best shot and further f***s with O'Reilly's head.

Update: The gift that keeps on giving. Now, the dance remix version. "We'll do it live!":

Saturday, May 10, 2008

My Divas ~ Linda, 1976

One of the pleasures of YouTube is coming across a rare, unexpected performance by an artist you've long been a fan of. Such was the case when I discovered this 1976 performance by Linda Ronstadt of "Down So Low," a mostly overlooked track from her underrated "Hasten Down the Wind" album. While Linda performances of "Blue Bayou" or "You're No Good" are a dime a dozen on YouTube, "Down So Low" is a true rarity. I've seen Linda in concert a number of times, but I never heard her sing this uncharacteristically bluesy song--one associated with Tracy Nelson--and it's not one she's likely to perform now. Linda has never been a loose or natural performer, and this version of "Down So Low" sticks pretty close to the recorded version, but she gets more emotion out of it live, and you can see her getting down (as the title implies) into the song instead of just hitting the notes.

Linda (followed closely by Emmylou) was my original diva. Her commercial heyday occurred when I was a teenager in the 70s. Inevitably, her poster was on my bedroom wall. I remember saving the 1977 Time cover-story showing Linda looking more sultry than usual alongside the title "Torchy Rock." I still have the article tucked away in a file cabinet. Though Linda was no stranger to the radio in those days, my friends didn't listen to her: she was my own personal diva. She wasn't the obvious gay-boy choice, either. She wasn't Judy, or Barbra, or Bette, or Cher. She didn't particularly act like a diva or dress like a diva or have camp value, aside from the odd Cub Scout hotpants or Jerry Brown jet trip. In photographs she pouted in a vulnerable looking way, and she sang mostly of heartbreak, but she didn't sound vulnerable. She was a straight-ahead belter mixing pop, country and rock, a vocal role model for today's country stars but not for today's pop divas. Only recently, when occasionally browsing the Linda Ronstadt Fans’ Forum, did I discover that Linda was the unlikely diva of choice for many a gay boy who came of age in the 70s. (She recently returned the favor by singing with the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles.) We responded to the voice but also to her imperfect looks: depending on the lighting and angle, she could look beautiful or plain, like a star or like a plump-faced girl with iffy skin who happened to find herself in the spotlight. Somehow, we could relate. She was our reachable diva.

With the exception of "Blue Bayou" (her version has become definitive) and a couple of other songs, Linda's big hits haven't really stood the test of time. (She sings them now only very reluctantly and only the ones that make some sense for a woman over 60.) But much of her earlier album material has held up, even if she herself has little use for it. As divas go, you won't find one who cares less about being a diva. Ronstadt seems not to have a nostalgic bone in her body. She's indifferent towards the songs that made her famous, records and performs infrequently yet speaks of retirement without fanfare. She hasn't tried to stay young looking, or slim. She hasn't become a trainwreck or checked into Betty Ford. She made headlines a few years ago for trumpeting Michael Moore during a Vegas concert, to the consternation of some fans, yet brushed the controversy aside rather than trying to capitalize on the attention. In essence, she seems to be a very talented ordinary person who put up with fame only because it has allowed her to do, musically, pretty much whatever the hell she wants to do. She doesn't tell her fans that she loves them, because she doesn't. She has too much integrity be a true diva. But some of us are still listening.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Peeing in the Shower

I discovered this YouTube clip via (NSFW) QueerClick’s Sticky and just found it funny. Perhaps it was the highbrow concept or hi-tech film editing? BRB, I have to go to the shower . . .

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Randy Go Home!

Simon told Jason he should pack his suitcase, but Jason wouldn't be the first person I'd send home from American Idol this week. Nope, I'd tell Randy to pack his tacky rhinestoned bags. What an a-hole!

Syesha blew the roof off the place with "A Change Is Gonna Come" but for Randy it fell "flat." What?! Last week there was all the brouhaha about Paula critiquing a song that had yet to be sung (you better believe they didn't try that format again this week), but this week it seemed like Randy was reading from his own dyspeptic script, one that aims to get rid of Syesha. There was something ugly and vengeful, not to mention off-base, in his criticisms. That's when Paula stood up and started clapping for Syesha and the girlie waterworks began. I loved Paula in that moment, I truly did. Meanwhile, Randy awkwardly sipped from his big red cup (what's in there anyway, Diet Mean Cola?) and put on his practiced defensive look. Simon agreed with Paula, so I didn't have to yell, "Misogynist Pigs!" at the screen. Syesha continued crying. Actually, though I liked her performances this week (the put-it-all-on-the-line Syesha was back in the house!), she annoyed me a bit in the pre-song interview when she talked about how "A Change is Gonna Come" was a crucial civil rights anthem, then said how it also applied to her (the next most important cause after civil rights) right now cause she's like changed so much, too. Yuck. She also talked about having "fun" with "Proud Mary." (David A. also had "fun" with "Love Me Tender," a song that just has fun written all over it, doesn't it? NO, IT DOESN'T!) The word "fun" should hereby be banned from the lips of all American Idol performers. But I digress. Syesha redeemed herself in my eyes when, after the Niagara tears did a number on her mascara and Ryan (who said chivalry is dead?) called for a tissue, Syesha said, in a voice about three octaves lower than usual, "I probably look like crap right now." That's my girl. You've come a long way, baby. (Just keep a check on the me me me chit-chat.)

Leave Jason alone! In his room. Where he wants to be right now. Or probably anywhere that isn't the American Idol stage. (Does anyone sport dreads in Siberia?) I advised viewers to vote him off last week, for his own sake, but did they listen? No! And now his soul is ruined. It's done. "Yet another `American Idol' hopeful flubs lyrics to a song" goes the Yahoo! headline today. Nothing the entertainment media loves better than flubbed lyrics. Something trivial to focus on, like Howard Dean's scream. So, he forgot a few Dylan lyrics, big deal. Dylan himself has probably flubbed a few lyrics in his time and incomprehensibly mumbled the rest, and it's not like everyone's on his case. Personally, I think it was a deliberate move on Jason's part, in case massacring Bob Marley (I didn't think it was as "utterly atrocious" as Simon said, but anyway . . . ) wasn't enough to finally get himself released from the prison the show has clearly become for him. Please, viewers, I beg of you, show mercy and send Jason to a better place!

Which leaves us with the two Davids. Cook and Archuleta. Which David reins supreme? Last week I declared Cook the season's winner, and I stand by my David (because I'm the loyal sort), even if David A's "Stand By Me" was inevitably better than David C's "Hungry Like the Wolf." Cook, dude, what were you thinking? You had the entire Rock & Roll Hall of Fame catalog to chose from (or at least the corner AI had access to), and you chose Duran Duran? They weren't even a good band in the 80s, never mind in 2008. It was all hairdo and accessories, and we know that you're on shaky ground in the hairdo department, Mr. Cook. You may have left Paula with a big appetite but you left me with a big WTF? David C., humble David C. (if his arrogance doesn't do him in in this competition, his humility will), realized his mistake and came back with The Who's "Baba O'Riley," aka "Teenage Wasteland." There's something deliciously eccentric about singing "Teenage Wasteland" to a TV wasteland full of teenagers. Paula loved it. I loved it. (Now that Michael Johns is gone, we gotta have the hots for someone over 18.) But will the teens, wasted and un-, love it? Maybe not so much.

Especially since David A., bless his crafty little heart (oops, I'd vowed not to use the word "little" in relation to the smaller David), is getting better and better with his song choices. (Has Daddy stepped aside? Is Kristy Lee Cook phoning in suggestions from her horse stable in Oregon?) He began with the aforementioned "Stand By Me," which he'd only performed a few thousand times in his bedroom before, never publicly. The almost subliminal cleverness came towards the end when he asked all the "beautiful girls" to Stand By Him. (I'm not sure how David A. actually feels about girls, but he sure knows where his white bread is buttered!) As if that weren't enough, he followed it up with that "fun" chestnut, "Love Me Tender." Like those beautiful girls aren't going to love him tender all through the designated window of voting opportunity. (If only Hillary could seduce the voters like our little, oops again, David! I half expect her to pop up in an Archuleta mask to face the next round of primaries.)

Unlike David C., whatever eccentricities David A. has inside of him, he's keeping hidden away in his Al-Gore-approved lock-box till after the competition. He wants to win this baby, and the odds are certainly back in his favor. He picked right, sang really well (I personally adored the little, oops again, broken note at the end of "Love Me Tender"), and didn't pass out, as poor Papa Ryan feared. (Would it be inappropriate to suggest that they would make the cutest little--sorry!--Daddy/Boy couple ever? Matching leather pants, OMG!) My favorite David A. moment of the night was when he euphorically protested, in response to a redundant bit of Jason flogging, "I liked Jason's song!" I believed him. David C. is in trouble.

My Favorite Idol Performance #21, just to spite that big blob of evilness that is Randy Jackson:

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

We're a JPG Couch Couple

JPG Magazine recently held a Couch Couples Photo Challenge in response to a video project by Rannie Turingan, aka photojunkie, on Vimeo. I found the video, which shows 20 different couples on 20 different couches, to be a moving glimpse into the daily lives of these couples.

Rannie's video reminded me that one of the best things about coupledom, when it's working out, is the relaxed intimacy that can easily be taken for granted when you've been together long enough. In the throes of a new romance, you want and expect fireworks, but after the years add up, and up, the fireworks will inevitably sputter. (Unless you're both drama queens and feed off of that.) What remains is the everyday sharing (with occasional fireworks, if you're lucky) that would seem too mundane to chronicle, while it's the very mundaneness of it that makes the comfortable intimacy in Rannie Turingan's video special in my eyes. Watching it was a wake-up call to appreciate the small moments as well as the bigger ones.

It's not often I have a photograph in the archives that perfectly suits a JPG theme challenge, but I found a self-timed portrait of Kevin and me taken in Berlin in 2005 that fit the bill, so I submitted it. Now we're on the JPG Blog (9th couple from the top) as one of their selected couch couples. By the way, I'm writing this, with Kevin beside me, from a big comfy couch in Budapest.