Tuesday, March 27, 2007

American Idol Talk: Every Little Thing

In the interest of full disclosure, I will admit that I came home from work very late tonight and in an extremely cranky, frustrated mood. We have a database that seems to be doing its best to explode and not being an IT type, I have no idea why or how to fix it. By 8pm tonight, I no longer cared. I just wanted to come home, see G. and the pups, eat something and watch me some Idol. So the contestants and you will have to forgive me if I seem overly grouchy.

Tonight's guest mentor was Gwen Stefani, which I thought was an interesting choice since Gwen doesn't sing so much as chant her way through most songs. I wasn't really sure how much she could contribute to the kids' vocal education and thankfully, she didn't really try. She limited her comments to "stay on the beat and sing the melody" which would be good advice coming from anyone. Hey, maybe I could be a mentor! She did look awfully cute though. Oh, and the theme this evening was songs by Gwen Stefani and the singers/bands that inspired her. Otherwise known as "sing anything you want" night.

LaKisha - "Last Dance" (Donna Summer) - The last couple of weeks I've been less than over the moon for LaKisha's vocal performances. There's nothing wrong with them per se, it just feels like she has fallen into the predictability rut. She's got a great voice, but so do lots of people (outside of this competition) and she's doing nothing we haven't heard before. In her defense however, she really worked the song and the audience responded well. Note to LaKisha: Way to rock the outfit. Killer sexy dress and boots. You go, girl!

Chris S. - "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" (The Police) - Something felt just a little not right about this and I couldn't put my finger on what it was until the judges started commenting. Oddly, they were exactly right. Chris was about 1/4 of a note behind the band for most of the song. It was just off enough to make the whole song sound slightly weird. The vocals though, were great. This song was just exactly in his register.

Gina - "I'll Stand By You" (The Pretenders) - Very impressive. Very. She had great control, a pretty tone, and lots of emotion in her voice tonight. Her best performance so far, and the best of the night. Note to Gina: Keep the funky boots, lose the shiny, horizontally striped mini-dress. It made you look squarer (is that a word? no?) than you are.

Sanjaya - "Bathwater" (No Doubt) - What in the hell was that? I'm not even sure the teeny-boppers can forgive the train wreck that was Sanjaya this week. The horrible song wasn't that bad compared to the hugely out of tune vocal, the forgotten words or OH. MY. GOD. 7 ponytailed faux-hawk. It had to be seen to be believed and really, I wish I hadn't.

Haley - "True Colors" (Cyndi Lauper) - She was a little pitchy in spots, but overall, it was a nice performance. She played with the melody a little but not enough to screw up the song. It wasn't exciting, but it wasn't bad either.
Phil - "Every Breath You Take" (The Police) - Phil really sounded great tonight. It was a little bit copycat, but the original is great and there really isn't a need to mess with it. Strong vocals and a solid performance. Note to Phil: I'm not sure which is better, crazy hat or not. No advice. I just had to say it.

Melinda - "Heaven Knows" (Donna Summer) - Surprisingly, I wasn't wild about her tonight. I mean I know she out sang everyone except possibly Gina, but I thought this song was a really safe choice for her and I would have liked her to sing something unexpected. Something NOT R&B or disco. Note to Melinda: Yeah for the color! Boo for the cut of the blouse. But keep trying. You'll get there.

Blake - "I Will Always Love You" (The Cure) - I though this was a little boring too. Wow, I must be cranky tonight because I never think Blake is boring! The vocal was simple and kinda sweet, but blah. I'm not familiar with this choice, was it the song?

Jordin - "Hey Baby" (No Doubt) - When they announced this song, I thought it was going to be great. Fun and peppy and adorable, just like Jordin. But I thought it fell really flat. It sounded as if she slowed it down just so she could keep up. And the beginning of the song was too low for her voice. I love her, but this just didn't work. Note to Jordin: When I come to raid your closet, I will not be taking this outfit. I can't imagine those proportions looking right on anyone.

Chris R. - "Don't Speak" (No Doubt) - This one's so obvious I can't even bring myself to make the joke. Flat, as usual. Nasal, as usual. Blech, as usual.

Bottom three: Sanjaya, Chris R. and Haley
Going home: Sanjaya (oh please, oh please, oh please....)

Thursday, March 22, 2007

American Idol Talk: Top 11 Results

And Stephanie is gone. Which is hardly the most interesting part of this show. In fact, pretty much every other part of this show was more interesting:

--Peter Noone seemed to be having a great time during his song, which was fun to watch.

--Lulu looks pretty freaking fabulous and she doesn't sound half bad, either.

--The Ford commercial cracked me up. I have no idea why, but Melinda doing back handsprings down a row of commercial washers was hysterical.

--Neither Gina nor Phil were in the bottom of the pack. Gina was terrible and should have been, while I get the distinct impression that Phil is just starting to get on people's nerves.

--Sanjaya didn't seem to be anywhere remotely close to the bottom tier this round. Lots of theories surround this phenomenon. 1) VFTW, 2) The asshole of all media telling listeners to go to VFTW, or 3)the call center in India is diverting other votes to Sanjaya. My personal opinion differs. I say never underestimate the power of raging teeny-bopper hormones.

--Chris R., despite the overly lavish praise of the judges, ended up in the bottom two. Now that was a surprise!

Stephanie being voted out - not so much.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

American Idol Talk: I'm So Excited!

Didja hear? American Idol is actually a competition, not a spectacular one woman concert with some other people singing too? Tonight it seems, most of the rest of the cast figured this out (with the exceptions of La Doolittle and Sanjaya, neither of whom should be there, for vastly different reasons.)

It was British invasion/60's week, with guest mentors Peter Noone (of Herman's Hermits fame) and Lulu (To Sir With Love). In direct contrast to Miss Ross, both provided constructive comments that were actually useful to the contestants and were quite funny. I take that back, Miss Ross was funny, but not in a good way.

On with the show!

Haley - "Tell Him" (?) - God help me, this was adorable. She was in tune and having fun. Sassy and flirty without being totally over the top about it. The song fit and this was easily her best performance yet. Note to Haley: I'm with the Fug girls on this. I don't care how great your legs are, stop with the formal shorts.

Chris R. - "Don't Let The Sun Catch You Crying" (Gerry and the Pacemakers) A couple of weeks ago, Chris slowed down and sang a Keith Urban song all nasally and out of tune. He tried the same thing this time and it was better. At least it was in tune. If his voice appeals to you, this was probably a great performance. He works the song, the audience, and the arrangement. Ah, if only he could sing...

Stephanie - "You Don't Have To Say You Love Me" (Dusty Springfield) - Stephanie confuses me. Generally, I think she sings well but I don't seem to connect with either her or the songs she chooses. Tonight was just the opposite. Loved the song and thought her vocals were really shaky and weak. Huh??

Blake - "Time of the Season" (Zombies) - Now, aside from the weird dancing, this modernization of a classic really worked. Good vocals, great arrangement, and the minimal beat boxing fit right in seamlessly. Very nice.

LaKisha - "Diamonds Are Forever" (Shirley Bassey) - Don't get me wrong, it was good. It just wasn't LaKisha good. It wasn't outstanding, and since that is what everyone has come to expect, it was a bit of a disappointment.

Phil - "Tobacco Road"(The Nashville Teens) - I'm not sure how I feel about this one. I don't know the song, but it seemed a good fit for him. He certainly looked like he was having fun singing it. His range is much better than expected, who knew? I guess I liked it, but I may need to watch it again to be sure. Note to Phil: Dry cleaners can generally get stains out of shirts before national television appearances. Look into it.

Jordin - "I, Who Have Nothing" (Shirley Bassey) - Absolutely, the performance of the night. Pretty damn close to perfect vocals. Emotional delivery. Wistful and tender where called for with a great big finish. Amazing. Note to Jordin: That may have been the most perfect of all the perfect little black dresses ever. I will be over to raid your closet soon.

Sanjaya - "You Really Got Me" (The Kinks). This was the most wrong anything has ever been. And I mean ever in the history of history. I'm too traumatized to talk about the specifics of the performance. Dolly Parton once said "Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion." I don't think this was what she had in mind. G. summed it up even better. He said "I will eat shit out of the ass of your choice if Sanjaya makes it to the finals." Can't get much clearer than that.

Gina - "Paint It Black (Rolling Stones) - I wanted to like this. It's a great song and seemed like it would be a good fit for Gina. But apparently she suffers from Philitis, which now that I've said that out loud, sounds a little dirty. The softer parts of the song were horribly out of tune. Towards the end she improved, but it was still a quite shouty. Not good at all.

Chris S. - "She's Not There" (Zombies) - I wasn't as impressed with his voice as I usually am. It wasn't bad, but I would have liked it better if he had sung it a little lower. We've already got a couple of guys in this with thin, reedy voices and he really needs to distinguish himself from them. Also, I really think he ran out of air towards the end. Great song choice, though and overall a pretty good job.

Melinda - "As Long As He Needs Me" (from Oliver) - Gorgeous, flawless performance. There really isn't much else to say. Note to Melinda: More gray? Really? I thought we discussed this.

Bottom three: Phil, Stephanie, Gina
Going home: Stephanie
Should be going home but won't due to power voting by 12 year old girls much in need of therapy: Sanjaya

Friday, March 16, 2007

American Idol Talk: Top 12 Results

I almost forgot to post that Brandon got the boot last night. I think that says it all.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

American Idol Talk: D(iva) Day

All right now. We're at that point of the competition where things usually start to heat up. The singing begins to dramatically improve, we get to know the contestants a little better and we get a chance to see who really has what it takes and who does not. The differences between the haves and the have nots was quite clear tonight, sometimes painfully so.

The "mentor" for this week was none other than one of the original Divas, Miss Diana Ross. While I'm sure it was a thrill for some of the kids to meet her, I didn't think that she offered much to them. Lots of the typical touchy-feely sort of advice like "feel the song", "connect with the audience" blah, blah, blah. She's a great singer and a great performer and I would have loved to hear her give more concrete, specific advice. God knows they could have used it.

Brandon - "Can't Hurry Love" - Wimpy and cliched about sums it up. Typical arrangement, typical performance and typical Brandon vocal with no oomph at all. Also, fewer words than generally necessary. But who's counting?

Melinda - "Home" - It wasn't the song I wanted to hear her sing, but since I don't know what I would have chosen for her instead, I'll just shut up about that. I don't think it really matters anyway, since she seems to be fantastic every time she opens her mouth. Note to Melinda: Please stop wearing grey and black. You are perfectly adorable and have every right to enjoy color as much as the rest of the world.

Chris S. - "Endless Love" - Apparently, he heard my plea for a ballad and then decided to play with my head. They announced his song choice and I went "Squeeee!". Then he ruined it. The vocal was good, but the song was almost unrecognizable. I hate it when people do that to perfectly beautiful melodies.

Gina - "Love Child" - Probably the most forgettable performance of the evening. The whole thing just lacked energy. However, she did "pronouciate" it well, per Miss Ross' instructions.

Sanjaya - "Ain't' No Mountain" - If this performance wasn't enough to take him out of the competition, I don't know what will be. It was so unbelievably like a high school talent show. I'm pretty sure he was mostly in tune, but I can't be positive because I couldn't hear him through most of it. He has so little power and presence that he just sort of faded into the background vocals and the band. Note to Sanjaya: Stop with the hair already. You've got lots. We get it.

Haley - "Missing You" - Poor kid was forced to sing a Diva song this week. Surprisingly, she managed to pick one she could handle. When she wasn't busy forgetting the words, she sounded quite nice. Also, I though she handled herself quite well in front of the judges, given the reaming she assumed they would give her. Note to Haley: Lose that dress. Why would you ever put your ass in a bubble on national television?

Phil - "I'm Going To Make You Love Me" - It's nice to be noticed. Phil seems to have read my humble advice from last week and taken it to heart. What do you know...the beginning of this song didn't suck. The rest sounded pretty OK as well. Still not terribly distinctive, but otherwise strong.

LaKisha - "God Bless the Child" - I wasn't as enthused about this performance as I though I would be. It didn't sound bad at all, but I think she over sang it a bit. I have fond memories of Bailey on Grey's Anatomy singing a very soft, tender version into the phone in an effort to comfort her baby from afar. She may have ruined me for any other interpretation.

Stephanie - "Love Hangover" - This week was one of her better, more engaging performances as far as I'm concerned. The judges blasted her for not singing the "good part" of the song, but since I don't know the song, to hell with them. She sounded good, as always, but the biggest difference was her stage presence. She was flirty and powerful and fun. Note to Stephanie: You looked awesome. Your dress was very flattering and a great nod to the disco era without going over the top.

Blake - "Keep Me Hangin' On" - Very disappointing. He, like Chris S., tried to make this classic more modern and it just ended up a big ol' mess. I applaud the effort, but not the outcome. The vocals were also uncharacteristically weak. On the more positive side, he sold the hell out of it. So much so, that I wasn't even sure I didn't like it at first. I had to go back and listen without watching to confirm.

Chris R. - "The Boss" - This performance did not improve my opinion of his talent in any way. Nasal and bobbleheaded, again. Still. His ability to schmooze with the audience can't distract me from the fact that he doesn't sing very well.

Jordan - "If We Hold On Together" - Everything about this performance was just lovely. The tone, the tender parts, the power vocals, everything. I love her more each week. Note to Jordan: Can I have that dress?

Should go home: Sanjaya. Two different contestants FORGOT THEIR WORDS, and he was still worse than they were.

Will go home: Haley. With Brandon and either Sanjaya or Chris S. filling out the bottom three.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

American Idol Talk: 2/4 Again...Whatever

Since I'm quite late in posting this, you probably already know that Antonella, Sabrina, Jarred and Sundance got the boot this week.

Oddly, I'm neither terribly surprised or terribly dismayed. Of course, I'm wildly happy to see Antonella go, and reasonably pleased about Jarred's departure. Both were out of their respective leagues.

While I do think Haley is in over her head, Simon was awfully mean to the kid and that's always good for some sympathy votes. Oooh, there's a plan. Maybe the judges will be super sticky sweet to Sanjaya next week and America will take the bait and STOP VOTING FOR HIM ALREADY!

And although I'm not overly disappointed that Sundance is gone, I'm a little surprised at how much I don't really care. I started off really liking him, but he never delivered the goods in a consistent manner.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

American Idol Talk: Girls Rule, Boys Drool

Which week is this? Top 16? Coulda fooled me. This week sounded suspiciously like the top 24. Generally, the guys sucked and the girls were pretty good with a few standouts. I think Paula was being generous when she said only 4 guys deserved to be in the top 12. By the way, is it just me or did Paula change her prescriptions somehow? Did she take something different? Stop taking something? Take everything all at once? She seemed especially coherent the last two nights. It's scaring me.

The Boys:

Blake - All Mixed Up (311) - Once again, Blake manages to pick a song I've never heard before by a band I've never heard of. And once again, I don't mind a bit. He's got a surprisingly pleasant voice, with a nicer lower register than I realized. I would love it if he would stop with the beatboxing though and just sing.

Sanjaya - Waiting on the World to Change (John Mayer) - I just don't know what to say about this kid anymore without being really mean (a little mean? I can live with that), which he doesn't deserve. It was closer to being in tune than ever before? He seemed to try to inject some life into the performance? For me, it was still very, very bad. He just doesn't have any energy. If this kid gets any more mellow, he's going to melt into a big puddle of goo.

Sundance - Jeremy (Pearl Jam) - Pretty soon he's going to make me stop liking him. I'm not a Pearl Jam fan, so I can't really compare this to the original. G. said it wasn't that bad, but all I could hear was yelling. How do you yell and mumble at the same time. Sigh.

Jarred - If You Really Love Me (Stevie Wonder) - Could this guy get any more predictable? However, I do have to give him points for being generally in tune. At the risk of sounding like Simon, I feel like I could hear this exact same performance from any decent wedding singer in the country. Meh.

Chris R. - Tonight I Want To Cry (Keith Urban) - Good and bad ran right smack into one another with this performance. The good: He sang something with an actual melody that allowed us to really hear his voice. The bad: his voice. Just as nasal as ever, and flat throughout. I don't get what the judges see in this kid.

Phil - I Need You (LeAnn Rimes) - Once again, Phil proves that he can't start a song well. It was really rough. Once again, Phil proves that once he gets going, he's got a decent voice. I think it's more a matter of learning to support his voice even when he's singing softly. It's easier to have good breath support when you are belting a note. The difficulty is learning to have the same control when singing quietly. Hopefully, he'll get a chance to learn this.

Brandon - I Just Want To Celebrate (Rare Earth) - It was upbeat and fun and he still sounds like a 14 year old boy who has yet to hit puberty. I want his voice to match his looks. I keep expecting a fuller, richer sound to exit his mouth and every week it doesn't happen. How old is Brandon? Maybe he can come back and try again after he starts shaving.

Chris S. - Wanna Be Loved (DC Talk) - What is with all of these songs I don't know? Best vocal of the night by a long shot. This is the type of voice I want Brandon to grow. A man's voice. I would love for him to sing a great ballad so I could swoon a bit.

The Girls:

Jordan - Heartbreaker (Pat Benetar) - Why don't more people sing Pat Benetar on this show? Anyway, Jordan is just adorable and it's really hard to say anything negative about her performance. She's very polished and she's almost always in tune. I liked it very much.

Sabrina - Don't Let Go (I have no idea?) - I can't deny that the girl's got a powerful voice. I'd actually like her not to use next time she sings. I want to see if she can. The screamy was back in full force tonight and it's starting to wear on me a bit. She's a good performer, though and I want to like her more than I do.

Antonella - Put Your Records On (Corrine Bailey Ray) - This was possibly the best Antonella has ever sounded. Much, much better than previous weeks. That ain't saying much considering how terrible she's been in weeks previous. Her higher register is sometimes really quite nice, but she refuses to stay in it. Also, she has absolutely no stage presence. She's gone farther than she should have and needs to leave.

Haley - If My Heart Had Wings (Faith Hill) - Possibly the dumbest contestant ever. I don't understand her obsessive need to sing songs that have already been sung by some of the best voices in the industry. She's not a bad singer and she didn't sound terrible tonight. Just completely out of her league.

Stephanie - ???? (????) - I don't know why she continues to not impress me, but she does. She was about half way through her song when I realized I wasn't listening anymore. At one point, Simon mentioned "LaKisha, Melinda and Stephanie" and G. and I both said "Stephanie who? I don't think there's anyone named Stephanie left." Oops. She's clearly a talented singer and a good performer, but everything she sings sounds the same to me.

LaKisha - I Have Nothing (Whitney Houston) - Remember all that I said about not singing songs by the Divas. LaKisha needs to come over here and smack me. She can sing anything she damn well pleases. This was a lovely, strong vocal accompanied by an emotional performance. Loved it.

Gina - Call Me When You're Sober (Evanescence) - I like that Gina was back to singing the songs she loves and clearly feels comfortable with. It's not my favorite genre of music, but she sounded pretty good and was obviously having some fun. Good for her.

Melinda - I'm A Woman (???) - Cute, meek little Melinda vamped it up tonight in fine form. Looked great, sounded great. She's proven she has power, versatility and great presence (I almost typed mad skillz, but then I remembered who I am). I love everything about her.

Who should go home: Sanjaya, Brandon, Antonella and Haley.
Who will go home: Jarred, Phil, Antonella and Haley.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

One Sick Puppy

Tell me what to do. I know a bunch of you are dog lovers and I need your advice and help.

****Graphic icky dog poop post ahead. The squeamish should just click away now. ****

Everybody good? OK. Don't say you weren't warned.

Late last fall, Greta, our German Shorthaired Pointer, got very ill, very quickly. She's always had a bit of delicate intestinal tract, so diarrhea isn't that uncommon for her. We tend to watch her potty habits pretty carefully and act quickly when there is problem because she also tends to get dehydrated quickly. This time the problem developed, literally, overnight. Greg woke up to an awful smell and found her in the living room with blood coming out her ass. We rushed her to the e-vet who practically scared the shit out of us (pun intended) with a hemorrhagic gastroenteritis (or HGE) diagnosis. Later that day, our vet said no, it was coccidia. Two weeks, 2 days of IV fluids and antibiotics, 3 prescriptions and close to $1000 dollars later, we finally had it cleared up. Then, of course, Ollie had it. He of the iron constitution, was better in about 3 days.

Since then, they've both been fine. So imagine our surprise when Greta's routine stool sample came back positive for coccidia again on Saturday. Luckily, we caught this round before she really became symptomatic. Since it's highly contagious between dogs, we started them both on oral meds right away. They'll both be fine so I'm not worried about that. It's the recurrence that bothers me.

Our best theory is that she's eating rabbit poop out in the yard. Our neighborhood is lousy with rabbits and they come in and out of our chain link fenced yard at will. Our vet suggested we spray the entire yard with a bleach solution to kill the coccidia, I'm pretty sure that would just kill off the current infestation and our grass. We obviously are having very little luck getting her to stop snacking, and I don't think a "Don't Shit Here" sign is going to be terribly persuasive to the rabbits. Our only other viable solution seems to be to keep the little buggers out of the yard. How in the hell do you do that? We're going to try chicken wire around the bottom foot or two of the fence (I'm sure our neighbors will love us for this), but other than that, I'm at a loss.

Has anyone else ever encountered this problem? What did you do? Is there something we could spray on the yard that would 1) be safe for the dogs, 2) be safe for the grass and 3) be distasteful to the bunnies? Is a barrier the right plan? Should we just say fuck it and unroll the AstroTurf?

I need ideas here people!

Now, if you've made it through the grossfest, click here for your reward.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Idol Results: 2/4 But I Would Rather Be More Wrong

Say Goodbye to Nick, Alaina, AJ and Leslie.

Although I was right about Nick and Alaina, I was way off on the other two.

I don't understand the point of voting for people who can't sing in a singing competition. Do the folks that voted for Sanjaya and Antonella not have ears?

I realize that Sanjaya has the adorable puppy dog thing going for him, and in an adorable puppy dog look-a-like contest, he'd be the hands-down winner. I'd even vote for him there. But to choose him over AJ, who was really very good and quite likable this week, is just ludicrous.

Obviously, there are other forces at work keeping Antonella in this show. Maybe the boys are scared that if she goes away, so will the sleazy pictures? If that's the case then listen up fellas. Porn is not that hard to find. Most newsstands carry one magazine or the other, it's all over cable, and a simple Google search will get you all you will ever need or want. Just stop torturing the rest of us, would ya'?