Monday, March 31, 2008
Some consider that low. Here's why I bring this up. If a religious or social conservative even hinted at a connection between lesbianism and women's sports, the good liberals at the St. Pete Times would be peeing themselves over such outrageous homophobia. But it gets better:
Karen Doering, senior counsel and Sports Project attorney for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, counters that lesbians love the game for the same reason any fan does: It's exciting, with a greater emphasis on team play than men's basketball, particularly the star-driven NBA. Right. And I buy Playboy for the articles.
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Friday, March 28, 2008
Did I take it? Well, why not? I have no idea what's going on up there. As far as I know, this is the current breakdown:
9% insufferable know-it-allity
8% pure Bravo Sierra
That's clearly inadequate, so away we go... 54 questions, multiple choice, not too long...
I am 40% left-brained and 60% right-brained (and 82% lame-brained). They then break down six individual categories for each half of the brain. My top two were both right-brained:
55% Concrete (Your most dominant characteristic)
Concrete processing is a method associated with the right hemisphere that is used for processing things that can be seen or touched. It processes much of the information you receive from real objects. For example, a right-brained person is not just satisfied that a mathematical formula may work, but will want to know why it works. A strongly concrete person often finds it easier to solve a mathematical problem by "drawing it out" because it allows them to visualize it. The more a concrete person can visualize something the easier it is for them to understand it.
Your Concrete Analysis
You are strong in concrete processing. When you process information about things that can be seen or touched you show great comfort. But when contemplating something without concrete form, you may have difficulty, and attempt to understand what is trying to be processed in visual terms. For example, if solving a math problem, it would help you to "draw out" the problem and visualize it. Only after visualization, would you feel comfortable solving it.
Sounds about right.
Fantasy-oriented processing is used by the right hemisphere as a method for processing information with creativity. It focuses much less on rules and regulations than the processing method of a left-brained person. Due to the fantasy-oriented processing mechanism of a right-brained person, they do not adjust well to change. Instead of adapting to the change in the environment, a right-brained person attempts to change it back to the way they liked it. But fantasy-oriented processing also provides the advantage of creativity to right-brained individuals, and since emotion is integral of the right side of the brain, anything a fantasy-oriented person becomes involved in emotionally will aid their ability to learn.
Your Fantasy-oriented Analysis
You have the ability to use both creativity and reality to process the information you receive. This is a unique gift that allows you to both focus on rules and regulations but to also act with creativity. You are able to adjusting to change, even though you might not like it, and you can become emotionally involved in your work if it interests you.
In other words, this doesn't just mean that I wish I lived in colonial times as Dr. Action, the patriot son of exiled Jedi Knights.
My strong suits on the left:
35% Sequential (Your most dominant characteristic)
Incidentally, they say that a scale of 30-50 is healthy, and that lower or higher is an indication that I have to pay more attention to different approaches to thinking, lest I topple over like Oliver Wendel Jones in the old Bloom County strip.
Sequential processing is a method used by the left hemisphere for processing information. The information that is received is processed in order from first to last. Information is processed in a systematic, logical manner. Through sequential processing, you can interpret and produce symbolic information such as language, mathematics, abstraction, and reasoning. This process is used to store memory in a language format. Activities that require sequential processing include spelling, making a "to-do" list, and many aspects of organization.
Your Sequential Analysis
You show moderate ability to organize information sequentially. You are capable of processing information you receive in a systematic, logical order from first to last. However, at times you will process information you receive quite randomly, or may give it only a semblance of order. You are probably an average mathematician and speller, and may or may not enjoy tasks such as making "to-do" lists.
Funny thing is, I am an excellent speller, and very good at basic math, so long as I don't have to handle anything more complicated than a quadratic equation. (All the engineering types just started laughing at me, but it's true.)
Verbal processing is a method used by the left hemisphere to process our thoughts and ideas with words. For example, through verbal processing, a left-brained person giving directions may say, "From this point continue east for two miles and turn north onto Bellevue Road. Continue north on Bellevue Road for seven miles and turn west on Main Street". With verbal processing, exact, logical directions are given in a very sequential manner compared to a right-brained person who, in giving the same directions, would use more visual landmarks.
Your Verbal Analysis
You have a moderate verbal ability. Using this method you process your thoughts and ideas with words. You tend to combine technical details with illustrations, depending on whatever strikes you. For instance, if giving directions, you might say, "Continue two miles east on Court Street and take a left at the McDonalds," combining the exact details of street names and mileage with prominent landmarks.
For someone who is so verbal, I actually misunderstood the applicable questions. I thought that they meant "verbal" specifically as spoken words, so I answered those questions differently, and only realized my error when reading the results. I am not nearly as strong with memorizing things I hear vs. things I read. Perhaps that just proves the point, but I would have probably scored higher had I understood clearly.
In the interests of complete disclosure, my two utter weaknesses were 15% Intuitive (right brain) and 14% Reality-based (left brain). Me not reality-based? Just for that, you're not invited to my lifetime Awesomeness at Everything Ceremony on Starbase 11. Zapp Brannigan was going to be there, too.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Saturday afternoon I felt a little dizzy and went to take a nap. I woke an hour later throwing up and so dizzy I could barely sit up. I called few friends to see if they could take me to the hospital (I live alone), but no one was answering their phone but 911.
I am blessed by being a vet and living 2 miles from the finest VA hospital in the country. I was taken to their ER, all the while having the kind of dry heaves that in the past were only brought on by massive doses of Wild Turkey. I puked on everything and everybody.
By 3am Sunday, after chest and stomach x-rays I was admitted to the hospital and moved up to a ward. Thank God the nurse’s assistant was male because I needed some cleaning up.
The diagnosis was that I had caught a bad stomach bug. I was on an IV to rehydrate from Saturday till Monday morning. I didn’t get out of the place till noon Tuesday.
I was surprised by the extent to which the VA goes to make sure that vets don’t fall through the cracks. I was visited by a rep from the benefits office, from the finance office, from a dietician (my A1C number was kind of high my last blood work so everyone yells at me about it. I want to keep my blood sugar okay just to get these people off my back.).
Where was I? Oh, the patients’ advocate visited me to make sure I wasn’t in need of anything. The chaplain visited and was able to get me a Bible (so I can catch up on my reading program).
I was also visited by some folks from church because, after all, this was all on Easter Sunday. The day our Lord walked out of a grave I was down for the count. This helped with my attitude, because I had watched Mel's movie recently and it's hard to complain about my situation when you've seen what the Savior went through to save my sorry posterior.
On Monday I had my kidneys sonogrammed. By then I was unhooked from the IV and on Monday night I was given real food to eat.
After a few more doctors came over to yell at me about my A1C number, I was free to go by noon Tuesday.
The nurses are wonderful and beautiful, and they do the heavy lifting. I know that there have been some problems with the VA health system, but this place in Tampa has their act together.
I am fine now, eating twigs and berries like I’m supposed to. As soon as I get caught up at work I will be back to normal posting.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
is American Idol!"
(The all-time record, set by William Shatner, is unlikely to be challenged by any mere mortal.)
They play up the songwriter competition, and then medley some songs from the contestants' birth years: Maxine Nightingale's "Right Back Where We Started From" (1978) first - and I love the Slap Shot vibe, even if this isn't the best rendition. At least they're having fun. Solos for all the girls. Annnnnnnd - scene. OK, so it was a really SHORT medley.
Now they do some behind-the-scenes stuff with the iTunes songs. I like that they get to do full versions. Ryan says that they can't allow them to be rated, or it would affect the competition. Ha, the engineer is telling someone to watch their pitch! Bet it was Ramiele. Now he's schooling David A, the Crown Prince of Earnest. I like the end, with Carly geeking out about seeing herself on her iPhone. (PLUG.)
Recap. Mike Johns exults off-stage after rocking it out; we need more of those little moments in the recap and not just what we've already seen. Enough people have Tivo, right? Show us a little more behind the scenes. For example - YES it was David A's choice. "It's one of my favorite songs." He's a mortal lock to sing Bruce Hornsby or CSN and make me throw up on the keyboard.
Chikeize is up first, and takes Toadstool #1. No surprise, but I'm sad about it. (BTW: I would like to apologize for inadvertently half-swiping "toadstools of shame." Someone at American Midol coined "stools of shame," though I can't find the citation right now. I subconsciously channeled that while writing one week. Don't hurt me, please! I'm linking and attributing, I swear!)
Then it's Brooke. Will she join Chikeize, asks Ryan. PPFFfffftsskkkrk. Ridiculous. Of course she's safe. Carly is both safe, and not pregnant (despite Internet rumors).
Coming back from break, there's the commercial - one verse of "I Want You to Want Me." I like the moving t-shirts, posters, etc. Mike Johns is first, Dave Cook is last: smart to bookend with strength. A lot of the rest of them were poor: bad song for Ramiele and Jason, sharing a shirt on a rack in the store. (No doubt, that's why our Ford owner didn't buy it.) And they cut out before they got to the "Didn't I didn't I didn't I" bit, which is the best part. Pity. It would have been nice to hear it in the group sing tonight, as long as R and J kept to harmonies.
The Crown Prince is safe. However, Syesha and her personal pan-pizza earrings are not. I'll be surprised if the voters aren't keeping her around. She's a big voice, good range, and clearly has talent; her performing has to come up to speed in order for her to keep in this. We're already at the point where we're risking losing good singers every week. Season 7 is definitely deep, and I think that thus far it's been well-played by the voters. Nobody who's gone, except for Asia'h Epperson, is in the class of anyone left, except for Ramiele; and that may be corrected in the next twelve minutes. While I was blabbing, both David Cook and Michael Johns came up and took a spot on the couch. Ryan mentioned that David's arrangement was done by Chris Cornell (thanks Cullen!) so it's good that someone's doing footnotes.
They skip out, they come back... Constantine pops up to stare directly into a camera for five seconds. The Idols, meanwhile, all get comfy for some awkward questions. First up, Sarah - Chikeize, you're so
When you go to work
When you get the mail
When you walk the dog
I'll be watching you
Second question, for the CP - why'd you pick that song? EXCELLENT QUESTION. He babbles a bit about how he loves it, and rainbows and puppies, and I will have a seizure in about fifteen more seconds. Do not want. Third question, Ari wants to ask Simon how she (Ari) can replace Ryan. "The good news is that you don't need a lot of talent." Ha! Ryan proves it by singing four words of "Straight Up" during the next question, and quickly abandoning it. Final question, does Simon think he's the hottest guy on the show? "It's not what I say, it's what other people say," he replies. Simon's in form tonight.
Kimberly Locke will be performing now. She had been in law school when she auditioned. Now she is the partial owner of Croton Creek restaurant in Croton Falls, NY. Ladybug wants to go. Entrees are $22 - $35 a pop, so we'll have to save up a bit. She also has two albums. I like the filmed segment, very personable. Ryan is sitting next to Brooke and Carly. Well, they're both married, so there's no pressure on him now.
Kim's singing. Ryan looks BORED over there. This is tons better than the Pickle - sort of how tons of bricks are tons heavier than three kittens on a poofy pillow. Not to say that the song itself is all that great. The Idols seem stuck with generic power ballads too often. Even Jordin's "This is My Now," which won a contest with 25,000 other fan-written songs, was no better than the glurge of other seasons. But Kimberly's performance was great. Not too thrilled about the dress, however.
Another Idol gives back clip - some of that $76 million stayed in the States. Oooh, little kids crying. The Crown Prince sings for you, little girl! (Eureka! That's it - David A. is a one-man Idol Gives Back.) But snark aside, everything they're doing is fantastic: mobile immunization centers; books and reading programs; food banks. It's outstanding.
Oh, phoey. Ramiele is out next. Too early to take a Toadstool. Are you kidding me? So Jason and Kristy Lee are here. We may be looking at the same thing I mentioned last week, that people go out the moment they finally improve. I'd be surprised if Jason was out this early. He has been a little slack lately. Ryan says that Lee Greenwood called with his compliments about Kristy's rendition - America was equally complimentary. She's safe and the Dreds take the last Toadstool. He jokes that "I've never been out this late before, so I figured it was a big shocker." Heheheheheh. Ryan immediately sends him to the couch, so it's Chikeize or Syesha, right after this.
"This" includes some "controversy" over David Cook's cover of "Billie Jean." Probably nonsense . (updated: OK, maybe it has legs. Apparently Mr. Cook cribs a lot of people's cleverness. Hat tip to Jess at American Midol. (See? Attribution!)) The lead singer of REO Speedwagon is on "Don't Forget the Lyrics." And Chikeize is bottom three (according to Simon) for not being original. Syesha is bottom three (according to Ladybug) for too many crappy weeks previously.
The bubble bursts for the One Top. Chikeize goes home, a little early for my tastes. Ramiele's going to be this year's Sanjaya. Crapola.
First up, Remiele. 1987. (Told you.) She's glad to be in the top ten; she thinks she belongs here. (She's hitting the soy sauce again this week.) She's singing "Alone" by Heart. Uhm, didn't Carly smoke this a few weeks ago? Yeah, she's immobile again. And she's Happy Facing. And she's sharp. And yelling. The crowd is doing that slow arm waving thing. Are they preprogrammed? Silly. Randy says it was too big a song (correct); Paula is ... holy cow, she doesn't look good at all. Seriously, she looks ill. Some blather about big talent, yeh. Simon says that it wasn't as bad as Randy thought, she'll probably get through on that performance. Sad but true, but I didn't like it; why run head-to-head against a more talented competitor and come off worse? It just boosted Carly at Remiele's own expense. (She could have done "Walk Like an Egyptian," or a U2 song, or Janet Jackson's "Let's Wait a While" - she would have done well with that.)
Ryan wants us to write songs for the first single. Then he wants us to listen to Jason Castro - it's his birthday tonight! (Awwwwww.) Hah, his brother had a "keytar." Also born in '87 - much smarter, he's doing a Sting song, "Fragile." His voice is ideally suited for this. He's not rocking it out or anything, but it is a solid performance. He's bringing it home well. I don't dig the weird rock faces, but that's the only quibble. Randy: nice, nothing jumped out. (Didn't I just write that?) Paula agrees with Randy. Simon is trying to shake him up a bit; tells him it was too laid back, too in his own world: "I've heard that hundreds of times in the subway." He is a mellow dude, isn't he? Even sounds like, "fer sure, really," but admits his playing was a little ragged and he needs to practice more.
Syesha - another 1987. I'm going to hate this year's music almost as much as my own. She did the baby cry again. Luckily I could never hate babies. She has sides, she says! A mellow side, an adult side, a silly side... y'know, unlike every last person on earth. "If I Were Your Woman." Thank you, no. OK, OK, that was rude. Man, those earrings are terrible though. My car's hubcaps are smaller. Syesha does well with the soulful songs, especially of this subject - the Woman Pining for an Inaccessable Man. Randy and Paula called it her absolute best ever, new contender, America will remember this moment... Simon wasn't quite as sold. If it's possible, I'll sit in the middle of those critiques. She was very good tonight, hit almost every note she tried.
Next, Dr. Chikeize and Mr. Hyde. Seriously, he's been either hideous or great. This week is scheduled for great. He was born in 1985, so he's got a lot of good choices - of course he's not a new wave sort of guy. "If Only," a ballad. He's nailing it. I love the tone of his voice tonight, and he's playing it straight. The long note in the bridge was pitchy, but otherwise great. Best of the evening so far. Randy just called this an "oldie," and said that it wasn't hip and cool. Boring to him. (Idiotic.) Paula said it was a good throwback performance. Simon said he sang well, but the performance was cheesy. He needs to show a little more originality. Well, last week's "original" harmonica wheezing and hoedown Beatles break was hardly a high moment in Idol history, so I liked what Chikeize did here.
Brooke is coming up next, with a Police song. It has to be something from Synchronicity, she's not that terribly old. Please, not "Every Breath You Take." But what else could she do from that album? "King of Pain?" Yup, there it is, 1983. And yup, there's the stalker anthem! Whoa, she blew the first words and started right over. Her on a solo piano. It sounds decent... but then it picks up and it's all just eh. She sounds too country to sell the whole obsessed Say Anything vibe the song requires. Randy liked the beginning better. Paula blabbered a bit. Whoa - I just noticed those bizarre glovelike tubes Paula's wearing. It really is 1983 all over again. Simon agreed with Randy about just staying on the piano by herself, without the band.
I could go a long, happy time without seeing that "thrillicious" commercial. Ever.
Michael Johns, rocking out in 1978. I like these family bits. The parents and siblings are terrific. Hahahaha, "I'm too good for you," with the little gloating dance. I'm totally using that on my brother. NICE. "We Will Rock You." Good stuff, time to start rocking it out - finally. Now they cut it really short so he can also sing a bit of "We Are the Champions." He's doing very well, he didn't... quite... reach the note on "never lose," but has the attitude. He's holding the notes at the end very well. OK, this was solid. Better than solid. Judges all love it, Simon says this is the first time he's seen star potential. I have to say that, no matter how many times you hear it all together on the radio, these are technically two different songs, so it's kinda cheating a little itty bit.
Carly is a Virgo, and Oirish. She sounds more Oirish than her mum. She had a huge white 'fro going for her as a wee bairn, awesome. She's singing from 1983 as well - oh CRAP it's "Total Eclipse of the Heart." I really can't stand Jim Steinman's songs. I mean, it's suited for her voice, but so is a lot of stuff from this year. Stevie Nicks had "Stand Back" and "Stop Dragging My Heart Around;" she could have done Tom Petty's "You Got Lucky," even. Oh, the singing... right... well, beginning was excellent (drat), middle was good, and the very end, she tried too hard. Randy is sort of right by accident; Paula makes more sense, until she says that Carly "can do no wrong tonight." Simon says she seemed uptight during the performance and that something didn't quite work as a result.
Heh, Carly was seventh again tonight. Archuleta's up eighth. And that was a GREAT Coke commercial with the two football teams, 50's v. today. Terrific spot. (This just in: Milla Jovovich is a hottie.) OK, fast forwarding the rest. Another "Moment of Truth" spot. Ugh, that's one ugly show.
Awwww, David may miss prom. They show a shot of the potential date in the audience. Back off Ryan, he's HER date! Anyway, David will be doing a Black-Eyed Peas song tonight. But first his parents talk about him. Trucker Dad and Sultry Mom show a clip of David and his sister dancing. "It's just sort of embarassing." And now all of America gets to see it! Poor guy. Finally, he's singing - don't recognize it. It's good, but of course it's another Social Awareness Singalong from David. "We're all someone's daughter, we're all someone's son." Half right. "How long can we look at each other down the barrel of a gun?" I've never done, kiddo. Do you live in Reverse Mormon World where everyone walks around looking through rifle sights at each other? Lots of Latter-Day Gang activity in your neighborhood, drive-bys and such? Quit scolding me, you brat! Yeah, excellent job and all, but I am growing sick to death of this whole rigamarole: "I have a conscience, and I shall sing of Important Things, and then I will grin like a demented lemur while everyone cheers for little ol' me!" Criminy. Funny, Randy's never heard of it either. (Probably because it wasn't done by Mariah or Journey.) Paula says, "You could sing the phone book and we would fall in love with you." He would have been better off singing the phone book than this, and I daresay I would have enjoyed it more. Simon is a riot: "It's one of those ghastly songs you sing when you've got, like, animated creatures with you, and everyone joins in together... I don't think that is you at all and I'd be amazed if you chose the song yourself." Sadly, Simon, it IS him. Completely. He's the clean-cut, earnest social conscience of American Idol, and it makes me hurt in my brains.
Kristy Lee Hoedown is up - born in 1984. Heh, wouldn't you love to hear her break out some Van Halen? "Caintcha see me standin' here, ah got mah back agin the reckerd muh-chiiiine..." Nope, it's "God Bless the USA." If Kristy makes me hate Lee Greenwood I hope she never sees her horse again. Gaaaah, they're arm-waving again. SEEN IT. I am going to tape the audience to their chairs in a minute. Well, this is mediocre. It's a personal song, and she's singing "you" instead of "I" for the verse. Getting better toward the end, as she warms to the subject. In the end it actually works without being mawkish. Simon calls it a brilliant song choice and her best performance, possibly saving her on the show. I wasn't quite falling over myself about it but it did work.
That "Prom Night" movie is going to suck out loud.
David Cook closing it out. Cute kid. Heh, he thinks that he just had a massive skull, like a Marvel supervillian. I hate to break it to you, Dave, but you still have way too much forehead. He's born in 1982, which means that he has his pick of about eighty zillion terrific songs. He's doing an alt-rock version of Billie Jean. Very smart, avoiding the Michael Jackson comparisons. Great arrangement. (I wonder where he boosted it from.) He knocked it clear out of the park. Just a terrific performance, head of the class tonight. Randy loved it - he called it a joint, which he's been doing every time he really likes the song or the performance. (His sudden fondness for that terminology may explain his bizarre Pole-ur type lapses this season.) Paula is standing to tell him he's smart, and brave, and willing... and she pauses juuuuuust a bit too long before finishing. Simon keeps it simple: it was amazing. Agreed. Eleventy votes from me.
Bottom three - Ramiele, Chikeize (though I liked it myself), and.... hm, tough to fill the last one, but I'd have to say Carly again. Jason will probably get a pass tonight but he needs a better performance next week. Going home? I'll say Ramiele.
(Get more cooler from Snark Raving Mad!)
Monday, March 24, 2008
This is inadvertently the funniest thing I've seen today. Not only does Simmons kill the Jerome James signing every time he brings up the Knicks, James himself is about the last reason to come out to see the Knicks play, unless you like watching the guys in three-piece suits on the end of the bench. T-Mobile couldn't even find a picture of him with his uniform and a basketball. They're expecting him to sell tickets and/or cel phone service? He could maybe sell mutual funds - he's making $5.8 million this season, and has played all of five minutes total. (Every remaining Knick fan just threw their mouse through their monitor.)
That this ad popped up over Simmons' column today? Let's just call it faaaaaaan-tastic.
Friday, March 21, 2008
Do not be deceived - our cause is never more in peril when a human looks about himself, at a world in which all traces of God seem to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken - and still believes.
--CS Lewis, "The Screwtape Letters"*
It's fun to tell the cruelties and casual foolishness of the world to take a hike (language alert, from the title on down); it can be a catharsis and a valuable pressure-bleeder for tense folks. Sometimes it's just what I needed. It isn't the way for me to go this week, however. Today I think that I need to keep that stuff here, "to ponder these things within my heart" so to speak. Today, if I would simply blow off that sort of thing, I wouldn't be doing it with the right heart - I'd be doing it because, in a way, I felt a little too good and important to have to deal with bad drivers, inconvenient weather, and a busy offline schedule.
Well, this week, I suppose it's my turn to take a hike.
Christianity has a full quota of paradox, and today is the apt summation of it all - today is the day in the Christian calendar when we celebrate the murder of God.
It must really tick off the atheists. Not only can't they succeed in killing Him off themselves, but they have to watch Him turn their fondest dream into eternal victory for those who love Him. And in their defense it seems rather on the outset that we're simply full of it. Paradox bears an uncanny resemblancce to flat contradiction. There's a big difference, however. Contradiction is when you run into something that ruins everything; paradox is when you stumble across the one and only thing that makes everything work.
Experience bears this out. One usually only finds contradictions while sailing along, and they bring it all to a halt, but a paradox always comes along when things are hopelessly snarled, and show you a sudden clear path. When you meet a contradiction, something has to give, but a paradox makes you realize that both things have to stay, no matter how much you'd love to drop one of them.
This is the sort of thing that I've been running into lately - and the paradox above all is that, without the sudden contradiction in how my life has been lately, I never would have noticed that I was missing one half of the Christian paradox, and having only half a life as a result. (Take THAT, logic!)
A strong summation of what I'm trying to say is right here, thanks to Nina.
One common accusation against Christianity is that God does mean stuff to us, and then demands that we stick to it in order to please Him. Some of God's strongest believers have even come close to this themselves - such as St. Teresa of Avila snarking to God, "If this is how You treat Your friends, it's no wonder You have so many enemies." The truth of it is, it's not God mistreating us: "In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33) But it's also true that we don't necessarily like to hear that answer, especially when we feel disconnected from Him - it's well and good for Jesus to overcome the world, but I can't even overcome my cel phone bill.
Now, the same man who told His followers the above would that very evening beg not to face this day. Not 24 hours later, He would be dead, abandoned by all his friends, after crying out "Why have You forsaken Me?" If there's anyone who knows what our hearts are capable of saying to Him, it's He who said it Himself in those last hours of torment.
We know that in spite of it all, He ended by saying "Father, into Your hands I commend My spirit," and then we have Easter, and there's eggs and chocolate and we get to sing Hallelujah in church again, yippee. But that's going too fast. It's a mental defense: when we emerge from personal darkness and are amazed to see the sun rising again, we don't want to think of those times, because while we're in them they last a week for every minute. In a small way, we get a taste of eternity: we don't just feel the sorrow of the now, but in that now we feel all the sorrow we're already carrying, and the absence of the joy we had (our hearts made more hollow for having once been so full), and can only see the prospect of the same days stretched to the grey horizon. As disturbing a concept as Hell is, it is no stretch to know that it is real when one has been in such straits and felt that there was no escape. After all, one never reaches a horizon.
This is where this particular Friday becomes, for us, Good. We do in fact have a God who has felt despair and abandonment. Plenty of faiths promise us happiness, Christianity not the least, but if we want one that offers a God such as this, who also promises that He is with us even in the valley of the Shadow of Death, we may wait long before an alternative to Christ presents himself. That is the paradox, without which the death of Jesus and our own miseries become unsolvable. For it is plain that God did not visit death upon His Son: "Do you not think that I could call upon my Father, who could send twelve legions of angels to my aid?" (Matthew 26:53) It was more a matter of knowing that the power of the world would never tolerate being usurped by the Kingdom of God on earth, nor resist the opportunity to seemingly end any chance of it ever arising.
Neither does He visit our troubles on us - in all honestly, many of my own troubles are of my own making. But even those visited upon me by others are not His will. "Neither this man nor his parents have sinned; but that the works of God would be revealed in Him." (John 8:3) Jesus isn't talking about the man's blindness as a work of God, but his healing, his eventual freedom from that limitation - a freedom that in this case the man could literally never see, just as we cannot see past the horizon. God knows this, and without changing that truth, He works a wonder, and brings the horizon to him. He does so for us as well, by His death, not that either He or His Father have sinned, but that the work of God may be revealed. He is not above turning our struggles to our profit; and this should not be strange. What is strange is how we heap praise and congratulations on people (especially when we're those people) for turning our problems into advantages, but them hold God guilty and refuse Him the chance to do the same thing.
I never took careful notice of what happened to this man immediately after he got his sight. He didn't even know what seeing was, and once he had it it's reasonable to expect a lot of high spirits and good times to celebrate his deliverance. Getting dressed down by the Pharisees and tossed out of his community instead could hardly have been fun; it was probably the last thing he expected. But nobody would consider it better to put his eyes out instead. Likewise, he would never be better off as he was, and he has the grace to see that the trouble he's going through isn't the point. He has reached the horizon: "One thing I know, that though I was blind, now I see." (v. 25) He holds steadfast despite adversity: "If this man were not from God, he could do nothing." (v. 33) In return, he gets a faceful of the dirt outside the synagogue, the reproach of his religious guides, and the derision of the crowd that must have gathered to watch the hubbub. In the midst of it some strange dude he doesn't recognize lifts him up, dusts him off, and asks him, "Do you believe in the Son of God?" (v. 35)
Apparently, it's no stranger than anything else that's happened to him. He just asks, "Who is he, Lord, that I may believe in Him?" On getting the answer, he worships. (v. 36-38) One could perhaps think that this is foolish of the man, when we would probably have been prepared with a sharp answer - along the lines of, "Who is He, that I may puncheth His head for all the crap He causeth me?" But would that answer open the door we were just flung out of? Would it make us any less dispossessed, any less homeless? In fact, it would make us something worse than merely unseeing - it would make us unthinking, and ungrateful. Walking inside the Valley of the Shadow of Death may be no treat, but the moment we decide to quit walking, we lose all hope of ever leaving.
I do not think God is pleased by our suffering, but He realizes that we are in for some suffering anyway. Believers and non-believers alike can be despressed, and afflicted. Each alike has the prospect of eventual escape, but that escape entails trusting in the One who makes it possible, much like escaping a plunging airplane requires us to trust the parachute. It seems at first that the parachute is only going to weigh us down, or that it's madness to jump out of the plane in the first place - but we're not safe in there, and we can't use the parachute inside it. Nor should we be fooled by those who do jump and then refuse to pull the cord.
Suffering makes plain the Valley in which we sit, and need to get out of. When the sun shines down on us in here and we think that it isn't so bad, really, we are in danger of falling into a snare. The man born blind could certainly feel the sun on his face while begging by the well in town, but he wasn't getting anywhere that way. He could well have chosen to stay there after his eyes started working, because what work could he do anyway? He could hardly have learned a trade. or been fit to work one, by sitting uselessly day after day by the well. He could have taken his good fortune and made it a reason to stay where he was - and that is the second half of the paradox, the part that I was missing. As a result I have been stuck in the mud, glad only for the sun shining on me as I sank.
I mean, life is very good right now. But I am, in fact, not out of the mud yet. When I go to Mass because the sun is shining and Jesus and me are like totally BFF, I'm not really doing anything requiring my faith or my courage. When Nina goes to Mass despite telling God to take a long flying jump into a pile of rusty lawn darts, she is. Based on that evidence, her faith is working far harder for her than mine for me, and is open to more grace from Him. The hard training is no more fun than doing crunches and resisting cookies, but she climbs farther and find a more rewarding experience from doing it that way. And in the end, she will see and understand Him far better than someone who has shirked the good fight.
"Shirk" is the proper word. The sun doesn't shine forever. My life is so good right now that I get caught thinking of how sad it is to lose it, as I know I must someday. And iff I were paying attention this would be an opportunity to grow in faith. When I escaped my depression of several years ago, one of the things I would do is think about death. It sounds quite backwards and macabre, but when I was depressed I had no energy to think about it - nor would I have gotten anything useful from it. It was only in health that I could do this. Well, I'm far happier now, but I don't know that I'm healthier. Thinking about death once made me mindful that my home lay beyond that horizon, and that thanks to God I could reach it. Now, I'm stuck in the mud, and leaving it scares me - not the natural sorrow everyone feels, but outright fear: in fact, sometimes a terror that keeps me awake at night, afraid that there will be no waking, in this world or any other, and nothing beyond the horizon but void.
I feel somewhat guilty when I read about the kinds of struggles that Nina and some of my other blog friends are going through. My terror is all of my own devising, but they have real problems, and because of what I've done to myself, I don't know how to help them. I hardly even know if what I have to say (and there's way too much of it) is any use - when I was morbidly depressed, "Be of good cheer" sounded an awful lot to me like "You suck. Something is wrong with you because you aren't happy."** Well, yes - happy is preferable, and depression is a symptom of something wrong, but ignoring the sympton isn't going to cure the problem. I can't be rid of the gout by pretending my foot doesn't hurt and chowing down at the raw shrimp bar. Hearing "Be of good cheer" made me feel like those guys couldn't get what I was going through. Praise God that He does get it, having gone there Himself. The help isn't in anything I can say, but in Him, and what He did for us on Good Friday. Easter could never have happened without it.
In short: I read what some people go through, and think of how little I get out of my blessings, and I am rebuked. Thank God that this is indeed a good day for it.
* quoting from memory - I don't have it verbatim but there's no "block paraphrase" code in HTML so we'll just have to muddle through.
** one problem I have with certain preachers is exactly this tendency - they're all Easter, no Good Friday. They teach a Gospel that leaves the impression that struggle is our own damned fault: and I mean damned in the literal sense, that it is evidence of our deficient faith and lack of salvation. In fact, as I've strived to show here, struggle is inevitable in life, in or out of the Church, and to avoid it is to miss one of our greatest opportunities. Healthy and happy are not always the same thing.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Syesha - instead of "Ticket to Ride," she did "Yesterday" (my hope was Jason Castro). It was one of her better performances. She went to the top ten. (Note I am not doing this in order.)
Jason - instead, goes to "Michelle," which is a sweet longing song, and should be right in his wheelhouse. He's not bad, but he gets cartoonish on the French phrases. Jarring note. Kid's got perfect eyes, though, don't he? Yeah, he's on the Tour Bus.
David Cook - did "Eleanor Rigby," which to be fair was not a suggestion of mine for poor ol' Trent Dimas, but more of a fear. Cook rocked it. He was a little less successful this past week with "Day Tripper." I liked it a bit more than Simon, who called it a little smug. The song calls for a little scorn; unfortunately, my benefit of the doubt vanished today when David said he had no reaction to Simon's criticism. That's smug, cookie. Whatevs. Siddown, you're in the top ten.
Carly - perhaps the most disappointing. Did well with "Come Together" first time around, albeit not a first-rate performance. She's beginning to make the same faces over and over again. This time, "Blackbird," and it struck me as an odd performance. I liked her voice, and it's good that she threw a ballad at us, but she has to make it work better than that. All the seams in the song were audible: she reached the end of one section, paused, started the next, paused, did the next bit, paused, did the sudden loud bit (hurting the song in the process), etc. etc. Very mechanical, none of the smooth flow of her other performances. America, shockingly, dumps her into the bottom three.
Kristy, perhaps, is the worst. First she drops this cracker "Eight Days a Week" on us - boy howdy, but that was a turd. Sounded like a parody of Hee Haw; Lurleen from the Simpsons was more subtle. Now she's slouching through "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away," which is not quite as much teh suq as last week, but it's not like she was clearing a high bar. Nevertheless, America makes her join Carly on the toadstools of shame. (Seriously, those chairs look like they were stolen either from the set of the Match Game or Bert Convy's swank bachelor pad. Shame is exactly the right word.)
The only person who was remotely close to following my advice, sadly, is Amanda, who hits her one note with the regularity of a metronome. "Back in the USSR." Remember when I said that she could hardly sing worse than Ringo? I wasn't right by much. It was aight, to use Randy's phrase. I guess the advantage of having only one tool in the box means more time to learn to use it well. Amanda has in fact improved from her badger-haired spazz-outs of the first two weeks, but does anybody really want to hear inferior Joplin renditions of every kind of song known to man? Guess not - she's the last of our bottom three.
In brief, the others:
Michael Johns - decides that A Day in the Life is a great song to slice to ribbons and stitch together into a hopeless mess. He may as well have just picked one section of the song to sing in its entirety. This was horrible - AND he messed up a lyric at the end. What a clunker. Anything else would have been better. (Maybe, I dunno, "The Inner Light"? "Doctor Robert"? Hell, even "Octopus's Garden" would have been a better idea.)
Brooke - "Here Comes the Sun." I'll say. The stage lighting was probably not her fault, but c'mon, nobody thought about this beforehand? Nobody considered a bright blue, like, y'know... the sky? It would have looked tons better and subtly suggested that Brooke was the sun, rather than the current set up, which looked like staring into an eclipse without eye protection. That's all there was out there; I broke out the SPF 15 right there in my living room. It also looked like her dress had summer squash hanging off it. Then, there was the Woo, and her habit of singing too close to the microphone and hissing all her S's. This should have worked ten times better, and I'm upset about it.
Archuleta - I am beginning to come around on the innocence deal. He's from Utah, and as a friend reminded me the other night, he's the kid who nearly lost his voice permanently due to vocal cord damage. That all explains the permanent gee-whiz demeanor. But given all of that, why on earth would he choose to sing like a guy twice his age? All he's picking are these somber tunes, when he could just rock out one of Paul's happy-go-lucky deals and knock it clean out of the park. Instead, it's "The Long and Winding Road," and it's better than the utter disaster of forgetting half of "We Can Work it Out" last week, but nowhere near the magic he captured with "Imagine." See, this is why I left him out of my Final Four.
Chikeize - I'm actually liking "I Just Saw a Face," until he inexplicably breaks out the Kristy Lee Hoedown arrangement for the second half of the song. DO NOT WANT. I think I would have thrown my chair at him from the judge's stand. That was beyond atrocious. How he escaped the bottom three is beyond me.
Remiele - here, I'm going to dissent from the distinguished Cadet Happy, who longed to bring the axe right down on the hat that she snitched from David Cook's closet. While no great shakes musically, it was improved from last week. This was actually the first time that she started to move around a bit on stage. "I Should Have Known Better" is a good energy song and she didn't slouch there like a sack of oatmeal. This was a small, halting step in the right direction.
The team-up song was pretty dull, considering how much they had to pick from. Leading off with "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" is... I mean, "I look at the floor, and I see it needs sweeping" is one of the all-time Bad Lyrics. (Sad but undeniable. Of course, the trade off is that George Harrison was a Beatle, so frankly I can shut my blog hole.) They toss out some "Here, There, and Everywhere," so that's good, but it's all that's good. Altogether earnest and leaden. The end is "The End." Some imagination. I would have pushed for closing with "Good Night" from White Album, for the cheap thrill of it. The commercial was much better - not least for my being able to call out all the MST3K lines from "This Island Earth." I regret nothing! And I think that Chikeize wore one of his own outfits for the shoot.
Great moment with Fantasia and Elliot in Africa handing out bed tents to screen out mosquitos. They call Elliot in to see a newborn boy that they've named after him. I don't know about that "custom" of naming kids after visitors to the village, but it was sweet in spite of it all. And Fantasia sings a bit, which is always a plus.
Oh, Lordy, it's the Pickle. My lovely bride has fallen asleep out of self-preservation, but unfortunately she's got the remote. I can't even mute it. This is dreadfully bad. I wish the judges could roast her, but she's a professional now. (And she sings!) Ludicrous shot of Randy acting like a bobblehead. (And he was nodding, too.) Triple threat: Pickle can't sing, the song is mortally bad, and it goes on for five indulgent, lazy, ear-stabbing minutes. Two would have been plenty. (PS, she's still as sharp as a bowl of Twinkies.)
But enough stalling. Carly is safe, faith n' begorrah. No shocks there. Kristy and Amanda are both sweating it out now, and really, we can't lose here. Annnnnd - Amanda is out! This happens a lot with bad contestants: they don't lose until they improve a little. Their fan base gets a little slack about calling in, and without the artificial support from certain parties such as VFTW, the clock strikes twelve on them. Kristy has been worse the past two weeks, but she scrapes her way into the Tour Bus, and after next week's slight improvement, she should watch her back.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
It has a towel rack, two drawers, two stools, and a fold-out table surface. It's a handy and attractive addition to any kitchen, and my wife loves it (and I, her) so of course we're going to be saving up to get one.
Marriage got me? Yeah. But there's that little eight-year boy who would be totally unimpressed - except that the stools tuck underneath the drawers and the whole thing folds down to about 30" x 30" of floor space. It's a Kitchen Transformer.
I must have one.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Clarke, who had battled debilitating post-polio syndrome since the 1960s and sometimes used a wheelchair, died at 1:30am after suffering breathing problems, his personal secretary Rohan De Silva said.
“Sir Arthur passed away a short while ago at the Apollo Hospital [in Colombo}. He had a cardio-respiratory attack,” he said.
Friday, March 14, 2008
As some of you know, my day job is with an air conditioning contractor in Tampa FL. According to a change in the FL building code, starting 7/1/2008 new construction which has a fossil fuel burning furnace, a fireplace or an attached garage must has a Carbon Monoxide monitor.
Now in this part of FL there are few homes with furnaces, maybe more with fireplaces but many with an attached garages. And this law does not apply to existing homes.
But I want to encourage all you readers whose homes meet the above description to seriously consider getting a CO monitor. I want to continue boring you with my postings for many years to come.
More details from my company's blog here.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Chikeize - sang "She's a Woman." Good choice. I loved the banjo/fiddle intro, and then the whole band kicking in. It was going wonderfully until he mistook Roger Daltrey for a Beatle and began stutter-singing, and doing this very strange spazz-dance across stage. (Maybe Biker Nurse hit him with an Imperious Curse or something.) Still, he pulled it out before it went off the rails. Very good.
Remiele - butchered "In My Life." It sounded almost like she started in the wrong key, and even when she got the notes on track, the whole thing was deadly dull. I know it's a somber song, but that was a mournful dirge.
Brooke - I heard a few measures of "Let it Be," which now that I think of it, is really an excellent choice for her. But I didn't get to stick around for the conclusion, nor do I know who got the heave-ho from the voters. (I don't mind the spoiler if you want to tell me.) All I can do is guess at the rest, based on what I would have loved to hear:
Mike Johns - I'm thinking "Strawberry Fields Forever" for him, but really, it couldn't go wrong. He could probably do the gag tune "You Know My Name, Look Up the Number" and it would rock.
David Cook - likewise. He can handle harder or slower stuff, so I can see him doing almost anything. HE could have nailed "In My Life." Oh well, let's say "Norwegian Wood" or "Back in the USSR." (He could really give us a great lefty-guitar riff with McCartney head kick.)
David Hernandez - his best of the show so far has probably been "Papa Was a Rolling Stone," so I think that he should try something like... well... "Something." Slower pace, where he can sound soulful. I fear that he may have instead gone for something like "Drive My Car," which would not have worked. OR - holy smokes, do you think he happy-faced "Eleanor Rigby?" Tell me no, friends.
Jason Castro - he'd sound lovely doing "Yesterday" or "When I'm 64."
David Archuleta - considering that he's trying to sound 37 all the time, I am deathly afraid that HE did "Yesterday," which would sound great and depress everyone. Hopefully he took last week's advice and did something teenagery like "I Saw Her Standing There."
Carly - someting to show off the pipes. There's no shortage of power songs. I'm drawing a blank right now.... pressure's on.... ""
Kristy - for some reason, I'm thinking of "Good Day Sunshine" for her. I love that song, and she'd do well.
Amanda - Lessee... Biker Nurse could maul "Birthday" or "Helter Skelter" or "Twist and Shout" or any of the other shouters in the catalogue. I don't even know if I should bother picking her something better. Naw, I should. "Day Tripper" or "Lady Madonna." (She can't sound worse than Ringo, right?)
Syesha - although Simon doesn't like it when they sing songs meant for the other gender, I don't care, so I'm assigning "Ticket to Ride." She'd rock that out as a wronged woman song.
Carly (redux) - of course! "Golden Slumbers/Carry that Weight." Oh, PLEASE.
My song - I'd go for "Things We Said Today" if Castro hasn't trumped me on it. If so, then maybe "Old Brown Shoe" - again, Harrison, but tough, it's my fantasy contestant dream.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
"Come on up and see me" is scribbled with a gold pen
"But you'd better ring twice"
Seven months after his little indiscretion
He sits with his wife at a therapy
For a little advice
"If the healing happens as the time goes
Tell me why I still can't look her in the eye"
"God I'm only human, got no other reason"
Sin for a season
Governor Spitzer was Client (Love Potion?) Number 9.
"He didn't do anything that wasn't clean," she said, adding that she knew who he was because he had made calls from the attorney general's office in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Federal investigators say there is no evidence Spitzer used state money or campaign funds to pay the prostitutes, but that the way he moved an estimated $40,000 through various accounts violated federal money laundering laws.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Monday, March 10, 2008
Today I realized that I have a carbon footprint that would be the envy of most tree-huggers. And I'm doing it for other reasons.
How many of us are living more Earth-friendly, but like me doing it for reasons other than love for Mother Gaia?
Friday, March 07, 2008
The standings as of today are not pretty:
1 Montreal.. 68 37 22 9 83 217 192 25.0 80.1 7-3-0
2 Pittsburgh 69 38 24 7 83 202 190 20.7 80.5 5-3-2
3 Carolina.. 70 36 29 5 77 212 218 17.6 77.4 7-2-1
4 NJ Devils. 67 38 23 6 82 176 157 16.7 83.0 6-2-2
5 Ottawa.... 69 37 25 7 81 219 207 17.7 81.1 3-5-2
6 Rangers... 68 35 24 9 79 182 169 16.9 83.2 7-0-3
7 Boston.... 67 35 25 7 77 181 189 18.8 79.0 6-2-2
8 Philly.... 68 34 26 8 76 208 196 22.0 82.4 4-3-3
x Buffalo... 68 32 27 9 73 206 197 18.4 83.9 4-5-1
x Washington 68 32 28 8 72 200 203 18.8 80.6 5-3-2
x Islanders. 69 32 30 7 71 169 200 15.4 83.7 5-5-0
x Toronto... 69 30 29 10 70 195 214 16.8 78.3 7-2-1
x Florida... 70 31 31 8 70 187 198 18.9 81.4 4-4-2
x Atlanta... 68 29 32 7 65 181 225 17.3 80.3 2-5-3
x Tampa Bay. 67 26 34 7 59 185 218 18.6 80.6 2-7-1
You'll notice that the Islanders are dead last in their conference in goals scored (12 behind a dreadful Atlanta team) and power play efficiency. They have fewer games remaining than the next five teams they're chasing, and have played worse over the last ten games than all of them - not to mention the seven-game losing streak they had in January that helped put them in this mess. They are also in peril of being caught from behind by Toronto. Even the pity points have them in a bind - the current difference between Buffalo, Washington, and the Isles is identical to the number of OT and shootout losses the teams have. (I HATE the pity point. HATE.)
Given their relative lack of talent, the Isles have to grind out wins, and a lot of their best grinders have been hurt: Mike Sillinger, lost for the season; Brendan Witt, in and out of the lineup; Chris Campoli, out for the year... The Isles are 2-5 when taking forty or more shots on goal, including a recent loss in which they took 53 shots but scored... ZERO. (I broke out the Fishsticks logo for that one.) This is indicative of the dearth of creative playmakers and reliable finishers on the team.
One can only hope that their several youngsters can take the leap next season and give them a reliable first line from within. It is unlikely that they can attract such a player (Marian Hossa, for example) in free agency; nor do they have the assets to trade for one. They have to get lucky in this year's relatively strong draft. From there, they may be able to move a veteran or two at next season's deadline for a young, high-potential player or two, and then sign someone to help them with the money they save. (At that point Yashin's buyout will be off the books.) 2009-2010 is the year to look for. And frankly, that really blows chunks. They should have been so much better now, building off of the 01-02 season. Frickin' Milbury. *(%#)(%$!
Thursday, March 06, 2008
At the outset I'm going to take a guess here at my final four, thanks to the poll that American Midol is running:
1. Jason Castro - just a hunch, but I think that this kid has a genuine sweetness to him that will put him over the top.
2. Asia'h Epperson - I don't dig the random apostrophe in the name, but she has pipes and that's the point.
3. Michael Johns - he's got a great voice, performs well, and is a handsome Aussie bloke.
4. Carly Smithson - powerful voice, can handle rockers; hopefully can also handle ballads.
My two dark horses are David Archuleta and David Cook. Why two guys? For one, I don't think the girls are as strong this season as the guys; for another, a lot of the guys are coming up with surprisingly good performances, while the girls seem to be trying too hard and disappointing. That usually spells trouble.
The reasons I can't put either of these guys up into my four are as follows:
1 - David Archuleta is beginning to strike me as kind of a phony. The saccharine aw-shuckism will be wearing in large doses; it would be to his advantage to quit performing once he's done singing the songs, so we can actually see a real kid.
2 - sadly, the problem with Mr. Cook isn't his voice. He and Johns are very close in that regard, but Johns has a moderate edge in hotness and a big edge in Australianity. He may also be clever enough not to bust out a guitar, thus avoiding an obvious comparison to Cook's musical abilities.
Castro and Epperson are the two more likely to be replaced by one of the gentleman above. There is also an outside chance that one of the other girls will get their act together and push into the final four, but they're such a muddle right now that I don't feel comfortable picking one of them to do it. I will hopefully know more at the end of the recaps tonight.
Oh it's 80's night, and the feelin's right - oh what a night! And embarassing outfits and moments.
01- Luke Menard - dressed by his older sister as a girl as a boy. Poor guy. Singing "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go." He doesn't sound terrible... but he's doing odd stuff with the phrasing. Some of his notes are fading in and out quite annoyingly. Guilty feet have got no rhythm, kiddo. Paula is so scatter-shot out of the gate that Simon has to hustle her along. Then he adds he didn't like it, probably won't even make it past tonight. I'm forced to agree. America may correct their oversight. Don't let the door hit you as you go-go.
02- David Archuleta - he lost his voice and his mom had to finish a song for him once. Cute. He's scolding us, however, with Phil Collins' maudlin "Another Day in Paradise." And he wasn't as strong as last week. He couldn't sing and play at the same time, so he got up halfway and walked out to sing at us. Paula - "In your imperfection, you are perfect." They really let her get into something special for this week. Simon says that he risks being depressing, and David tells Ryan that he wants to bring attention to the poor around the world. BIG RED FLAG. (And the Ladybug doesn't like me writing that.) It just seems to me that he's trying a bit too hard to prove that he's got some gravitas; almost like a pageant contestant trying to prove she's more than a bubble-headed clothes hangar. Just be a 17-year old every once in a while.
03- Danny Noriega - somebody tripped Manga Boy into one of his crushes and he blushed and ran. This may actually have been a subplot in Three's Company. He turned into a "cute little red tomato." I am gagging on my Stouffer's. He's vamping his way through Soft Cell's "Tainted Love" [12" Queer as Folk club mix]. Randy thinks that he started shy (you're kidding, right?). Paula calls him a bright, spicy light. Simon thought it was horrible and useless. Danny's blowing him off, and the other judges are "moosing" Simon. Oddly, I kind of prefer Danny's honest reaction to David's constant gawwwwwwww-lee! Ryan claims that he didn't even notice the purple streaks and Danny just goes "mmmmm-HM." I am howling.
04- Trent Dimas - something about a booger or somesuch, and I don't care. He's doing Meat Loaf's "It's All Coming Back to Me." Ugh. Why do people just go for all these bombastic tunes? His vocal is iffy; he's not hitting the notes cleanly. He is trying to smolder at the camera, which is giggling a little uncomfortably and trying to hide behind friends at the end of the bar. And truth be told, I can't stand Stienman's music so I'm being perhaps harder on David Hernandez than I should be.
05- Michael Johns - thank goodness. Save us from the mediocrity. He's talking about making a rock-soul "with a little bit of dance" rehcord. He also used to be a mascot, and got jumped by four hooligans during a match. Poor Boomer. He's singing "Don't You Forget About Me." By a mile, best of the night so far. He's on key, he chose a great song, he looked good, and his performance was strong. The judges are happy, though Simon likes him better as a soul singer than as a rocker.
Aside - I love that "adventure racing through the movie theater" commercial.
06- David Cook - plays an intro chord to demonstrate that his guitar difficulties have been defeated. He once forgot a verse during a childhood talent show and stood mute rather than abandon the stage (or flee like a cute red tomato). He's singing (and playing) "Hello" by Lionel Richie. Interesting arrangement. (Ladybug: "You just know Good Charlotte wants to do this song now. Joel Madden is probably kicking himself." Heheheheheh.) He's terrific, and this is helped greatly by the lack of a giant clay bust of his head. Randy says it could be a single (agreed). It's so good that Paula is lucid while praising him. Simon loved it. He should sail through here.
07- Jason Castro - accidentally ripped off one of his dreds during a date, but they went out again, so that's cool. His song is "Hallelujah," and he's not playing the solo guitar, just singing. I like it. He's on key. He's putting the emotion through. Oops, he didn't quite have enough juice for the last note, but overall good. Finally somebody picking a bit of a daring song.*
08- Chikeize Eze - chikeize-beize, banana-fana-fikeize, fee-fi-fo-keize... His embarassing moment is using a girl's bathroom throughout high school. "Guess that's why there weren't any urinals." Uhm - yah. He's singing a Whitney Houston song, the name of which escapes me, in part because of the arrangement. "She gives me more love than I ever need." It was sort of short. He wasn't bad, though he had a pitch thing at the start, and a couple of long show-off notes that didn't quite work for me. He just seemed a little tentative at times. Going last will help him, though, because people won't remember to vote for the earlier guys who struggled.
My top two are David Cook and Michael Johns, with Jason a narrow third. My going homers are Luke (the force is NOT with him) and Trent.
And now, the ladies:
01- Asia'h Epperson - was an extra in a movie, and smacked into the set lighting while trying to roller skate. D'oh. Is singing more Whitney, "Wanna Dance With Somebody." She won't be able to hit the really high trilling notes. But so far, not bad at all. Struts her way down the stairs, gets to the stage... and promptly seems to go flat. (Not vocally, but facially.) Listening was fine, but watching wasn't quite as good. Randy brags about playing on the song with Whitney Houston. Paula is Paula. (Maggie scores big with her comment: "She's like a Mad Lib." HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!) Simon's criticism is valid - she did it just like Whitney, which only highlighted what she couldn't do, that Whitney could. Hm.
02- Kady Malloy - Ryan is "scoring an interview" with Ms. Malloy. She was shocked that she didn't go home. I was shocked that Amanda didn't go home. In ninth grade, she ruined a Christina Aguilera song and then accidentally wrecked half the set. Luckily the mics are cordless here. The song is Queen's "Who Wants to Live Forever." Uh-oh. She won't be able to hit Freddie's notes. What is wrong with these people? Pick something you can handle! She is very stiff at the stand until the big note, and then shuts back down again. Randy noticed too. Paula calls it Kady's best yet, says her voice was tender. No, she was sleepy, not tender. Simon calls it "lack of personality, you're like a robot when you sing." This bodes ill.
03- Amanda Overmeyer - Biker Nurse's most embarassing moment is not, surprisingly, either of her two performances so far. Turns out that she accidentally set half of somebody's house on fire, including the pool. She's locked in combat with "I Hate Myself for Loving You" by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. I suppose I have to give her a little credit for not jumping at "I Love Rock n' Roll," but how about this revolutionary thought: sing something that isn't rock!
On second thought, I don't want to hear her rumble through some innocent Allan Parsons Project song. Better leave it where it is. She wasn't as awful as the past two weeks (she could hardly be worse). Her face was masklike and dull, but her vocals were decent, and her hair was finally tamed into submission. Randy says well done, Paula is on board, and Simon says she was fantastic and nailed it. I don't think she has the voice to keep up, but she may sneak into the twelve.
04- Carly Smithson - got stuck in a bar railing and her friend greased her leg with butter and oil to get her free. "I Drove All Night" by... well... I don't know this song at all. There's something odd about this, there's hissing on the s-sounds. She sang quite well, hit the notes, had suitable power. Paula calls her "a dependable dog." Simon: "What?!?" (Me: What?!?) Simon didn't really like it, though he said she did as well as she could - "you're a million times better than that song." Agreed there; I've actually never heard of this thing. Wasn't impressed by the actual song, but the performance is the best of the night so far.
05- Kristy Lee Cook - used to pretend she was a dog when she was 7, barking at people and drinking from a bowl. Moving on... she's singing "Faithfully" by Journey. She took Simon's advice to heart and is singing this with something of a country twang, which is good; but also hit that country vocal crack, which is annoying. (Her tongue is fire engine red - what is up with that?) This was really good, though. Unlike many of the others, she didn't have to worry that she couldn't get to Steve Perry's notes. Simon is worried that she will be "battling the bigger voices and bigger personalities," and should finish about tenth. I'm not down with that. This was really much better than her first week.
06- Remiele Malubay - in fifth grade she rode her bike to drop off a picture to a boy she liked... and both the boy and the mom laughed at it. That's mean. Good job, mom, for being a tool. Remiele is singing "Against All Odds" by Phil Collins. Not my favorite artist, though this song isn't all that bad. Ladybug: "There are so many great 80's songs for ladies; why is she singing this?" I have to agree. It's not terrible. She very nearly Happy Faced while hitting the big notes, but dodged it. But bleah. Nothing about that stood out in any way. It sounded acceptable but it didn't go anywhere. She's very stiff on stage. Pointless, really. She should pick an offbeat song and really let it rip; quit being so safe about it. And for some unfathomable reason, Manga Boy is wearing her glasses. It's surreal. This must be how Paula feels all the time.
07- Brooke White - will be coming back and performing "Love is a Battlefield." I sense impending doom; I hope I'm wrong. But how is Brooke going to even hit half of Pat Benetar's notes with even a quarter of her power?
Brooke accidentally grabbed a guy that wasn't her dad after church when she was twelve. And now she's sitting on the edge of the stage (SEEN IT) and going acoustic with it. It's probably the only chance she has of pulling this off. She's wearing an empty cologne bottle on her hand, and it's distracting. Well, OK. It was a six, maybe 6.5. She's moving on.
08- Syesha Mercado - waaaaay back in second grade she wrote a note to a crush, complete with a bit of gum. The guy ate the gum and ratted her out. Her song is YET ANOTHER Whitney Houston song, and possibly the worst of the lot- "Saving All My Love for You." Yay, adultery! And she also sang that "Me and Mr. Jones" nonsense too. It stinks that she's doing well with it, because I am getting sick of this. DO NOT WANT. Quit singing about sleeping with other people's husbands.
My top two are Kristy Lee and Carly. My going homers are Kady and Remiele - BUT Amanda may wind up going out by surprise. Often the terrible ones go out the week they show a little improvement.
* For what it's worth, my songs would have been as follows:
for 60's night, "Everybody is a Star" by Sly and the Family Stone;
for 70's night, "Reminiscin'" by the Little River Band;
and for the 80's, either "Missionary Man" by the Eurythmics or "Mayor of Simpleton" by XTC (depending on how I'm feeling. Right now, if I had a dollar bill for all the wrong I done...)
RESULTS - Blake opens the show by doing some floaty dance moves and scatboxing. Very boy band. He looks like a more sophisticated Screech. I'm not really liking this. Not mything, sorry; though the beat box stuff is superbly done.
Turns out that Lionel loved David Cook's version of "Hello," and so did enough of America. David Cook has the first stool. Nice tie. David Archuleta gets second stool AND congrats from every girl in the competition. That was a little precious. Go sit down. (Maybe he can call himself "Davis" the way the other Aimee on ANTM is calling herself "Amis.") Jason Castro is also in, without the scare moment from Ryan. Danny gives us his best emo pout and we go to break.
The ladies are going to get some love now. First love goes to Brooke White. Good choice. Syesha stands next. The judges all say she should sail through; they're right. Next up is Kady Malloy, one of my shoot-down choices. And there she goes, our first elimination! The theme of the year seems to be "Don't sing about stuff ending or not lasting forever."
Back to the guys. Trent Dimas is in. I disagree. (Chikeize may have a difficulty.) Mike Johns is in, easily. So the last three guys are the bottom three. Luke, predictably, is a goner. It's down to Manga Boy and the One Top. We will see their fates after the ladies... Remiele stands next, so this means that she's probably in. (There are still four girls left, and they like to stretch things out.) Yeah, she's taking a stool. I dunno about this. This is bad for Asia'h. Carly stands next. Why is she wearing orange drapes? This is too odd. She's in, anyway, so she hugs Ryan (and looks over the top of his head at the same time), and then sits down. Amanda stands next, and there are two remaining, so she will skate. And she does. Well, no sense crying about it, but she is definitely taking a more talented singer's spot.
Final two eliminations. The final ladies' spot goes to... Kristy Lee Cook. Asia'h is going home, and one of my Final Four spots is kaput. (It's a preview of my NCAA Bracket, three weeks early! Yay!) Manga Boy is crying and he hasn't even been eliminated yet. Chikeize is holding his hand to buck him up. He's so close to the girls. (I have fifteen jokes here. I'm going to bleed from the eyes.) Chikeize... nodding as if he already knows he's gone. But NO - Ryan was pulling a fast one, and Chikeize is in the final twelve. I liked his performance, so I'm not upset, but I'm going to miss Manga Boy. So is Remiele, who is bawling.
So that's it. I'm actually sad about Danny more than about Asia'h. I'll miss the candor. Next week we really start slinging some tunes.
What do you think, folks?
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
Some people have been taking to outlining the Best of the Best in red or in really huge font to specify more than a mere thumbs-up or down. It's a good idea and I'll follow this convention by highlighting in red my all-time top faves. (In short, do I just stop and stare at it when it comes on the TV?)
One note before we begin - I copied and pasted the list, of course... but when I did, Blogger decided to remove all the line breaks. I am now not only highlighting, bolding, and what-not-ing, but I have to make sure I don't accidentally erase something by hitting "return" while it's still highlighted. If there's anything missing folks, that's why. And if I have any comments, they follow the selection.
The Godfather (1972)
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
The Godfather: Part II (1974)
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) - honorable mention, since I have and love the soundtrack
Pulp Fiction (1994) - but surprisingly, my favorite of Tarantino's movies is not on this list at all, Jackie Brown (1997)
Schindler’s List (1993)
Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980) - George Lucas should have re-watched this about twenty times before writing the prequels
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
Star Wars (1977) - I still probably know about 75% of the dialogue by heart. And HAN SHOT FIRST.
12 Angry Men (1957)
Rear Window (1954)
No Country for Old Men (2007)
Goodfellas (1990) - I've actually played on a hockey team named after this movie, but still haven't seen it
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) - think about Harrison Ford... in the space of five years he got to be Han Solo, Indiana Jones, and Rick Deckard. And can you think of anyone else in any of those roles? Look at Kurt Russell's line reads for Han or Tom Selleck's promo pics as Indy. Those guys are good actors, too, but neither movie would have been as good.
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
City of God (2002)
Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
The Usual Suspects (1995)
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) - been a long time, so though I have seen it, I can't remember if I enjoyed it or not
Citizen Kane (1941)
The Silence of the Lambs (1991) - eh. I don't hate it out loud or anything, but I don't see the huge Oscar-winning deal about it
North by Northwest (1959)
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
Fight Club (1999)
Sunset Blvd. (1950)
Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
The Matrix (1999) - if only the Wachoskis had stopped here
Taxi Driver (1976)
Apocalypse Now (1979)
American Beauty (1999)
The Departed (2006)
Paths of Glory (1957)
American History X (1998)
To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) - Gregory Peck is wonderful in this
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
The Third Man (1949)
A Clockwork Orange (1971) - enjoyed? No. But it's a hell of a movie
Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
The Pianist (2002)
The Shining (1980)
Double Indemnity (1944)
L.A. Confidential (1997)
Leben der Anderen, Das [The Lives of Others] (2006)
The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) - it's embarassing how many of these I've always meant to see and didn't
Boot, Das (1981)
The Maltese Falcon (1941)
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Reservoir Dogs (1992)
Forrest Gump (1994)
Raging Bull (1980)
Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
Hotel Rwanda (2004)
Sin City (2005)
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
All About Eve (1950)
Modern Times (1936)
Some Like It Hot (1959)
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) - I sort of kind of liked it, but boy is it dull. Needs more Roy Scheider
The Seventh Seal (1957)
The Great Escape (1963)
On the Waterfront (1954)
Touch of Evil (1958)
The Elephant Man (1980)
The Prestige (2006)
Vita è bella, La [Life Is Beautiful] (1997) - I don't hold Roberto Bellini's insanity against the film
Jaws (1975) - bonus points for being one of the better "As Told By Bunnies" spoofs
The Manchurian Candidate (1962) -
The Sting (1973)
Strangers on a Train (1951)
Full Metal Jacket (1987)
The Apartment (1960)
City Lights (1931)
Cinema Paradiso (1988)
Batman Begins (2005)
The Big Sleep (1946)
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
Once Upon a Time in America (1984)
Blade Runner (1982) - only bits and pieces. I am lame
The Great Dictator (1940)
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Salaire de la peur, Le [The Wages of Fear](1953)
High Noon (1952)
Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983)
The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
Back to the Future (1985)
Million Dollar Baby (2004)
Cool Hand Luke (1967)
Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)
Donnie Darko (2001)
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
The Green Mile (1999)
Annie Hall (1977)
Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)
The Sixth Sense (1999) - unfortunately
Diaboliques, Les [The Devils] (1955)
Ben-Hur (1959) - again bonus points for the third-grade version from that commercial a few years back. No, that's not rational at all, but it's my list. So there.
It Happened One Night (1934)
The Deer Hunter (1978)
Life of Brian (1979)
Die Hard (1988)
The General (1927) - the Inspector General, with Danny Kaye? Oh? Well, then, no.
American Gangster (2007)
V for Vendetta (2005)
Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)
The Graduate (1967)
The Princess Bride (1987)
The Wild Bunch (1969)
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
Letters from Iwo Jima (2006)
The Night of the Hunter (1955)
The African Queen (1951)
Stand by Me (1986)
Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004) - but not as much as the first one
Witness for the Prosecution (1957) - I've read the play, it was great
The Big Lebowski (1998)
The Conversation (1974)
Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
Wo hu cang long [Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon ] (2000)
The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
Gone with the Wind (1939)
3:10 to Yuma (2007)
Cabinet des Dr. Caligari., Das [The Cabinet of Dr Caligari] (1920)
The Thing (1982)
Groundhog Day (1993)
The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
Toy Story (1995)
Out of the Past (1947)
Twelve Monkeys (1995)
Ed Wood (1994)
The Terminator (1984)
In the Heat of the Night (1967)
The Philadelphia Story (1940)
The Exorcist (1973)
Anatomy of a Murder (1959)
The Hustler (1961)
Toy Story 2 (1999)
The Lion King (1994) - negative points for the voice of Whoopi Goldberg
Big Fish (2003) - the movie that made me forgive Tim Burton for "Sleepy Hollow"
Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)
Bonnie and Clyde (1967) - eh. Nice to see very early Gene Hackman and Gene Wilder roles, though.
Young Frankenstein (1974) - ha, I just noticed, that's back-to-back for Gene Squared!
A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
In Cold Blood (1967)
Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
Dial M for Murder (1954)
All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
Roman Holiday (1953)
A Christmas Story (1983)
Ying xiong [Hero] (2002)
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) - again, they should have just quit here. I will never be convinced that either this or the Matrix had any planned sequels until the originals became big successes.
Cinderella Man (2005)
The Searchers (1956)
Finding Neverland (2004)
Inherit the Wind (1960)
His Girl Friday (1940)
A Man for All Seasons (1966)
Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) - if I ever owned a curtain shop I'd name it "Liberty Valance."
And that's it. A lot of movies I've seen aren't on here. I may follow up next week with a list of some of those, for everyone else to label accordingly.