Tag Archives: American Idol

You Are Lucy and I Am Charlie Brown

“This time, you can trust me,” Lucy says to Charlie Brown, enticing him into their eternal battle of wills – kick the football and I won’t pull it away this time, I promise.

I love t.v. I love narrative in general and I get hooked into the story structures of t.v. shows over and over and over again. Even a “reality” show like Survivor has all the classic story elements that I crave and enjoy.

But I have been frustrated more and more the last few years. Here’s why:

– I have a busy schedule and like most people my age, I can’t be locked into watching a t.v. show at the same set time every week. Luckily, most shows are available online within 6-12 hours (sometimes a full day or week) later and I catch up with my “stories” when I have the time, which is often just a few hours or maybe a day or two after the original airing.

– The online viewing model seems to me an excellent one. I am still viewing advertisements, which should still be paying for the shows. In fact, I feel that I’m a more captive audience for online ads than the ones on my t.v. because I tend to walk away from the t.v. during commercials. I am watching the show at my convenience. Excellent, all around. But I’m not sure the Nielsen rating system is still in any way an accurate schematic (I don’t know how it could be) and to my knowledge, nothing else has replaced it. So how do networks know what shows I’m giving my loyalty and attention to? Theoretically, they should be able to track the downloads and online viewings, right?

– Yet, some of my favorite new shows are consistently getting canceled, sometimes mid-season or after only one season. This breeds a vicious cycle that makes me and other viewers wary of investing in new shows. Why care about characters that might suddenly disappear, give our attention to stories that will remain unfinished? But what are a studio’s “obligations” to the viewers of its shows? I feel like a full season should be a standard network-viewer “contract.” Promising shows should really get two seasons to build their audience. Yes, it’s expensive. However, as far as I’m concerned, so is my time and my attention.

You might ask what has brought about this rant. Monday, the list of canceled t.v. shows was disseminated. First, it includes 32 shows across the networks, which is quite a lot. Also, it features some great new shows that I feel weren’t given a solid chance. Last, there are many shows on this list that I thought were already canceled several months ago because of reports I’ve read in the past.

I’ll break down the list for you.

Canceled shows I didn’t invest in because I figured they’d be canceled:

Better with You, Mr. Sunshine, Off the Map (ABC); Perfect Couples (NBC)

Shows I might’ve watched, but thought were already canceled or off the air ages ago because of reports I read, so clearly their networks were not doing a whole lot to support them:

My Generation, Detroit 1-8-7, No Ordinary Family, V (ABC); The Event and Outsourced (NBC); Lone Star and Running Wilde (FOX); Life Unexpected (CW)

Canceled shows that had a really solid chance to build their audience (regardless of how you feel about the quality of the shows and their demise):

Brothers and Sisters (ABC); Friday Night Lights (NBC); Human Target and Lie to Me (FOX); $#*! My Dad Says (CBS); Smallville (CW)

Canceled shows I’d watch if they were given a second chance:

Detroit 1-8-7 (ABC); The Event (NBC)

Canceled shows I’m really pissed about because I’d invested in them:

Breaking In and Traffic Light (FOX)

FOX has long been guilty of creating pretty good shows and then scrapping them before they’ve had a solid chance, in my opinion. Keep in mind, FOX also airs two of the shows I talk about most, American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance, but those are reality competitions and I don’t know that FOX has worked out their dynamic for scripted dramas and sitcoms. Out of all the networks on the list, FOX is canceling the most good shows, I think. Many on the FOX list had a good chance to sink or swim, but I think Breaking In and Traffic Light should be given more time. They are both hysterical half hour ensemble sitcoms, which I think we need more of on t.v. Good ones, that is.

So what are the networks gonna do next season? Give us 50 new shows, two thirds of which they’re prepared to sacrifice if we don’t invest quickly enough? Break our hearts again? Yank the football once more before we can kick a good, solid field goal? FOX, as well as all the networks, needs to create good shows and then stand by them. Have some faith in what you create, Networks.

Now, on to the slightly related topic of the Castle finale, appropriately titled “Knockout.” How is this related to my giant rant above? Well, first of all, it’s still about t.v. Second of all, one of Castle’s stars, Nathan Fillion was in not one but two shows that fell victim to FOX’s wishy-washiness (Drive and, ahem, Firefly, anyone?). Third, the finale happened to air on the same day the canceled show list was disseminated.

Castle is a fun, gripping show, a worthy vehicle for Nathan, finally, at long last, hallelujah, on a network that will support the show and create interest with tie-ins (novels, graphic novels, etc). It’s one of my favorite shows, especially because it has such a great cast and also all the qualities I loved about Bones in the earlier seasons. I’m still watching Bones because I love the characters, but it’s lost some of its sheen.

One of the elements I like best about Castle is that it is unafraid to be cheesy and emotional and sometimes feels like a sitcom wrapped up in a drama. This feels like old-fashioned, classic t.v., even while it is cutting edge. So it shouldn’t surprise me that every part of Castle‘s Season 3 finale felt inevitable in that way that good storytelling always feels. While the storyteller in me can appreciate the Castle finale’s unflinching and yes, even cruel twists, the viewer in me feels absolutely shellshocked, almost betrayed. And pissed. Pissed that they punched me the guts like three times in an hour and then walked away for several months, leaving me nursing my wounds and dying for more.

But you know what? You better bet I’ll be tuning in next season. And for that, I must congratulate them.

For a moment at the end of “Knockout,” in light of the canceled show list, I was very afraid that this was the end, that Castle was one of the unlisted “bubble” shows and it might not be back. I had to remind myself that it’s a popular show and that ABC has just as much invested in it as I have invested (some would say more). But that fear, that paranoia, is the best example that I can give you of what the networks have done to us with their “yanking back the football” behavior.

Should I, like Charlie Brown, continue to trust all the Lucys promising me big and then yanking it all away? Despite all the times that I have been burned and lost “stories” that I loved, should I trust the networks? Like Charlie Brown, I hate looking stupid by falling for it again and again, but just like him, there’s no other choice for me. I love stories too much not to take the kick of faith every time.

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What I’ve been thinking about lately…

Everyday, I read dozens of little news items about the whole gamut of human experience. Literary and movie news, scientific discoveries, music, random celebrity-ness (yes, I admit) and current events. My co-workers do as well, and from time to time, one of them will announce some odd or interesting factoid or this-just-in and the rest of us will listen.

My first week at my new job, one of my co-workers said into the large, silent office we all share: “So, what’s going on in the world?” One of my other co-workers said, “A woman says Steven Seagal made her his sex slave and Treme got picked up for a second season.”

Random. But then, we’re news and information junkies.

Throughout each day, I have an ocean of factoids and images in my head, each swimming around in there like strange aquatic life. One day, I read the Wikipedia page on the Donner party and had those horrific deets bouncing around, and then read a review of Exit Through the Gift Shop and did my budget. That’s just modern life.

So, here are some links to randomness that I’ve been thinking about the last few weeks.

-A man rescued a woman being attacked, got stabbed and died on a NYC sidewalk as bystanders avoided and ignored him. So horrified by this one, I read a second article later the same day.

-Lane Bryant plus-sized lingerie commercial censored. This pieces mentions a Victoria Secret ad that I saw about 20 minutes before (and an hour after) reading this.

Women make less money when they get married and take their husband’s last name?

-Even though I worked on The Final Destination, apparently there will be a 5th in the franchise. Not so final, after all. Are any of us surprised? I remember reading the script and thinking, “Last one, huh? Yeah, right…”

-A book of Marilyn Monroe writings! I’ll certainly read that book. Feel free to send me an advance copy for review, Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Seriously.

-An utterly hypnotic YouTube video of 500 years of female art subjects morphing into each other. Check it out!

-Kelly Osbourne gets flak for claiming that she looked healthier and skinnier after she started wearing self-tanner on Dancing with the Stars.

-Author Kathryn Stockett has a Google Maps application on her site with her readers’ names and locations. This kinda just scares me. Especially since my mom’s book club is reading The Help next month.

New Mark Twain manuscript has surfaced, in memory of his favorite daughter, who died.

-Cadillac driver stops a purse snatching! With the car!

-Molly Ringwald’s therapist told her to stop dating writers and be a writer.

Darth Vader-narrated GPS! Hysterical video. 🙂

Daughter of serial killer writes book.

How the pill liberated women – the author’s mother counts it as the most important invention of her lifetime.

-“Sea Waif” tragedy survivor breaks 50-year silence.

CW is resurrecting Moonlight! Well, just reairing episodes along with The Vampire Diaries. But still cool. Alex O’Loughlin is wonderful. See The Back-Up Plan for evidence. I did, last week, in a double feature with Date Night.

-The breeder of the labradoodle regrets the designer dog trend.

-The story behind the Carrie Underwood song “Play On.” And her fellow AI alum, Kelly Clarkson, has a new song I can’t wait to hear (it’s been pulled anywhere you might be able to hear it online) – “Wash, Rinse, Repeat,” apparently lambasting the music industry in general and “Already Gone”/”Halo” co-writer Ryan Tedder in particular.  And while we’re on AI, 5 potential replacements for Simon Cowell – I’d love any of them.

The Art of ConfessionCurtis Sittenfeld interviews Meghan Daum and Emily Gould! Wonderful piece – I wish it were five times longer. You might remember that in my very first blog post (almost 2 years ago!), I described my attraction/repulsion to blogging thusly:

So that’s my way of saying I’m ambivalent about blogging. Primarily because of delicious little trainwrecks like this: Emily Gould Blogs All

-This lovely photo project, Dear New Orleans, came to my attention because of the wonderful Scene Magazine‘s most recent issue.

-Somebody recently told me that Mr. Rogers was formerly a sniper in the army and I repeated this to a co-worker, who got me hooked on Snopes.com by using it to REFUTE THIS RUMOR!

-And now, we come full-circle to my horror at the NYC left-for-dead-on-the-sidewalk circle with a much more positive story about a group of individual female students rushing a man who was attacking another woman. They pinned him to the ground till the authorities arrived – and probably, as all parties acknowledge, saved her life. A round of applause to those woman, and my admiration.

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Fess Up Friday (Just Tell the Story edition)

I’ve been writing throughout the week and socializing like a fiend on the weekend. Big sigh. But how do you say no to drinking at new bars with visiting friends, 12-hour adventures with D. (a seasonal treat) that involve the recording studio, Elizabeth’s, Apple Barrel and the casino and then matching R. and B. drink for drink at the local after said 12-hour adventure (never, never, NEVER again)? Why are y’all colluding to make me have fun? Stop the conspiracy! 🙂 I need better willpower.

I wish I could say it’ll be better this weekend. But with N. in town and J.‘s birthday…that might not be likely. At least there will be less drinking…right?

And of course, with the t.v. I watched AI, yes, I did, and saw Kris win (very glad because though I love me some Glambert, I think Kris needed the positive reinforcement and we all know Adam needs nobody’s approval to be hisself). It was a great finale, with a lot of fun performances. Could’ve done with less Gokey and more Alexis and Megan, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Allison singing with Cyndi Lauper – AWESOME! And loved Megan and Michael with Steve Martin on “Pretty Flowers.” I agree that “No Boundaries” is The Worst Song Ever, but Kris did an admirable second go of it (I prefer his to Adam’s, and with a singer like Adam, that’s probably no accident) and it was really good to see him embrace his wife right as the show signed off.

But probably the worst news for my book – So You Think You Can Dance started again Thursday. I love that show. Like seriously love it. Cat Deely is The Best Host Ever – case in point, she went to congratulate a contestant and being profusely sweaty after his audition, he was wary of messing up her couture jacket. She grabbed him in a hug, crowing, “Dry cleaning!” Hysterical.

Finished The Song Is You and while the plot got a little weird for me, the writing was always incredible and, most impressive of all, Arthur Phillips managed to consistently convey those indescribable things that music makes you feel. Utterly personal things and yet somehow universal at the same time. I’m reading some new books now (I can never read just one), so look to your right for that.

I took a quiz on Facebook called “Are You a True Bengali?” The questions were in Bengali (I assume, I don’t know Bengali) and I used deductive reasoning and picked whichever answers sounded the best when I tried to read them out loud. Turns out I’m 100% Bengali. I thought perhaps the quiz was rigged, but one of my non-Bengali friends (lol) took the quiz and her result was of the “why, dude, why – why did you even bother to take this quiz?” variety. I feel like I have achieved something here.

Enough with that, my deadline is ticking ever closer, so the fun may have to be quarantined. Hands off Sunday! I have nine days left and I’m going to crush this sucker – just watch.

New words –
5.15: 183
5.17: 601
5.18: 1,714
5.19: 526
5.20: 637
5.21: 248
5.22: 710 (so far today, one monstrously difficult scene).

In a weird sort of reverse logic, it’s a good thing to see fewer words because that means I have less new writing to do (don’t worry, there’ll be some whopping numbers coming up next week). I’m making some real strides in understanding a few things that eluded me previously. But I made the mistake of going to read the rules for a contest I want to enter soon and that stymied me for about a day and a half. Bad idea – I need every day and a half I can get. And I have a few of these hard scenes coming up, so I’ve been floundering a little bit.

But, as the card I wrote and put on my desk says: JUST TELL THE STORY!

It’s a bit early, but on the 26th, I will have been writing this blog for a year. You won’t hear from me again till the 29th with the last Fess Up Friday this month, so I thought I’d say something now.

In parting, some links:

D. worked on one of these top Sundance films.

Longest running fictional character.

Green Day takes on Wal-Mart. Finally.

JUST TELL THE STORY, EMILIE.

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Fess Up Friday (the short hair edition)

That’s right, I have chopped off my hair for Locks of Love, the official summer hair cut. When I get a pic I like, I’ll maybe switch it out so everybody can see. I’ve gotten “Amelie,” “retro,” and “babydoll” as comments, if that gives you any idea.

Wasn’t sick at all this week, but I did somehow lock myself out of my bedroom while I was in my pajamas. Thank goodness for those painters and their paint knife after my letter opener broke.

So, I’m doing better with cutting down on my t.v., though I did watch AI and I have to say that, all respect to Danny Gokey, but the voters got it right with Adam and Kris. And Kris! He totally showed Adam up, which I didn’t think was possible. I had just been saying that though I love both “Heartless” and “Blame It on the Alcohol,” both songs were pretty silly performed live on AI. A lot of posturing and rough negotiating with all of the synths or whatever. And as if he heard me, Kris performed an acoustic “Heartless.” Whoa! Freaking whoa! And not only was it just a freaking great arrangement, it also demonstrated how amazing the lyrics are (that was clear in the original, but with a stripped-down version, they just jumped out at you). So even though I was unfortunately wrong with the top 3, I was spot on about the top 2. And you know what? Kris could win this, he really could. And Adam’s gonna have an amazing career no matter what, so it’s all gravy.

But you know what I’ve been overdosing on this week? Reading! I read 3 young adult books in like 2 days. The last, Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, I read pretty much straight through last night/this morning. Thought I’d read a chapter as I was trying to fall asleep and got so consumed with the story, just had to know what happened, that I read until I finished at 5:31 this morning. And of course, it’s the first in the series and of course the next isn’t coming out till September. Oh, how will I ever wait to find out what happens next? Somebody send me an ARC! So even though my site says I’m reading, The Song Is You and that is true, I’m usually reading like five or six things at once. But The Hunger Games. Seriously, read this book. It is inventive and brutal and gorgeous, about a future society in North America that sends 24 “tributes” from its 12 districts to fight until only one survives. I love how some of the best characters in these brutal future-society books (think John Marsden’s Tomorrow series) are kick ass girls like Ripley and Barbara.

The socializing – I’m still doing quite a bit of that. Drove up to Baton Rouge for an “Electric Ladies” lunch celebrating David Madden (see pic) and went to Bud’s Broiler for the first time and the Insectarium. Overall, however, I’m doing pretty good at saying no to invitations (sorry!!!! I promise I’ll be less of a hermit soon!!!).

But that’s enough about how I’m failing to use my time wisely. Let me update you on all the progress I’ve made.

New words:

5.10 = 1,547 (3 scenes)
5.11 = 3,179 (2 scenes)
5.12 = 613 (1 scene)
5.13 = 558 (1/2 scene)
5.14 = 599 (2nd 1/2 scene)

But it’s not all about new words. I actually generated a significant amount of new words and scenes since last October, in preparation for filling out the parts that needed more. I have one complete draft and lots of loose material to work with. So the greatest part of the work I’ve been doing has been splicing the new work and the old material together, or editing. So, how’s this for linear thinking – I made an enormous jump and I have about 180 pages “done.” I’ll continue with my splicing and hope to have a few days or a full week at the end to do one more pass to make everything connect and work the way I’d like it to. Makes the book sound like a machine, doesn’t it?

During all the test runs I’ve taken it on, the book is performing well. Just like a top-end sports car, purring and growling enthusiastically, just revving up to show off what it can do. A friend recently asked me how the writing was going and for the first time in a long time, I didn’t sigh and shake my head and offer a lot of excuses. I grinned and chirped, “Great!” And meant it. That feels so good.

Toni sponsored a book-giveaway on my blog. Someday I’ll be more democratic with my book-giveaways, but this time instead of making y’all work for it, I gave the books to people I knew would love them. So the copy of Allison Brennan‘s Sudden Death went to Pam Gauxtreaux and the copies of Toni’s first two books (they’re gonna be re-released this summer under new titles) went to Kristin Sanders.

So, to conclude, a few items that grabbed my attention this week:

This is a GREAT idea (Amazon to reprint books).

This makes me incredibly sad (Coconut Beach).

And this is fascinating (Dan Baum, New Yorker, a story told on Twitter).

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Gotta talk about it…

Okay, so they need to rename American Idol “The Adam Lambert Show with Friends.” That’s incredibly rude to say, especially considering that the other four contestants are hugely talented. But it is true. Kris blew me out of the water with “Ain’t No Sunshine,” and Allison Iraheta is solid every week, doing her thing. But who can top Adam’s showstoppers?

If anyone else wins, it will be primarily because they’ve had to raise their game so much to match Adam and surprised everyone.

I mean, take a look at this latest, “Feeling Good.” Simon nailed it when he said that complaining that Adam is too theatrical is like “complaining that the cow moos.” That’s exactly what Adam is, theatrical and not afraid of it. He plays with whatever material he chooses to tackle, collaborates with the house musicians, packages himself and the performance in an always-memorable way. You have only to see his entrance on those stairs to feel like (and I’m borrowing a Paula-ism, but it’s true) you’re watching an Adam Lambert concert (event) rather than a talent show. I mean, was that a white satin suit he wore tonight? He was the exact opposite of Ryan as he stood next to him. Not many men can make eyeliner, falsetto and impeccable fashion sense as masculine and sexy as he can. I guess it’s the swagger.

Speaking of that falsetto, I must say that it is incredibly hard to hit the note Adam hit at the end, hold it as long as he did and then maintain that level of control when you’re coming down quietly. You don’t have to know anything about music to know that, but I know just enough to say confidently that it’s hard and not everyone would be capable of it. When the hell did he breathe?

I suspect the final three is going to come down to Adam, Kris and Allison. Although I enjoyed Matt Giraud tonight, I think he’ll be the next to go. Then Danny Gokey next week. He did well tonight, even with Jamie Foxx right in front of his face, but he’s a bit bland for me. I’ve heard folks predict that it’ll come down to Adam and Danny and that may happen. But my money’s on Adam and Kris at the end. Unless people assume Adam’s gold and don’t vote – the judges’ save is gone now, so he’d be toast. I highly doubt that’ll be the way of it.

Let us see. Only Adam (and Kris’s “Aint’ No Sushine”) could’ve made me watch again after Alexis and Megan left.

[4.28: This is ridiculous, but I was curious. The high note lasts at least 8 seconds with the controlled notes coming down lasting another good three or four before he can even think of breathing and surprisingly, the breath isn’t a loud heaving one. So hard.

I compared the different versions of “Feeling Good” I personally have after listening to Adam’s like 5 times straight through today. Recently heard an awesome cover from the Dark Was the Night charity album by My Brightest Diamond which owes a lot to Nina Simone’s version. While Adam’s version is not original – those edgy opening notes gave away his debt to Muse – he cut their 3:20 cover down to a 1:59 version that didn’t suffer for it. AND, that high note? His own, entirely. Muse’s is quieter and less showy. Gorgeous, of course, but not anything as oh-my-f’ing-gawd-how-did-he-do-that as Adam’s.]

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American Idol thoughts

I didn’t say anything last week after the results show because I was satisfied with Michael Sarver going home. That sounds kinda cold…well, it is cold. Here’s my problem with this season so far (as I realized last night). I think people are sticking around longer than they should based on their voices because they’re likable, have gotten air time because of their likability. Let’s face it. Michael’s a cool guy with some kids and a tough job – incredibly likable guy. Not a great voice compared to the others. Same with Scott and, as Paula calls it, his “challenge.” He’s blind – he seems like a great guy, I have tons of respect for his courage for doing a show like this, especially the group numbers at the beginning of the results shows. But his voice is boring to me and ditto his performances. There was absolutely nothing special about his “Just the Way You are.” It was decent, but absolutely nothing special. I don’t think I would be doing him any favors if I pretended to love his music just because he’s got a special challenge in life.

Alexis Grace going home pissed me off because she has a great voice. She struggled with one song, “Jolene” and went home. Folks – have you listened to “Dirty Diana” and “I Never Loved A Man”??? Don’t you want to know what she’ll do next? But how does a young mother with an awesome voice compete for likability against a blind guy and a roughneck daddy with okay voices? Everybody has kids this season: Lil Rounds (I cringed when Ryan picked up her daughter and handed her to Randy – but its horrific cuteness will probably save her after a wretched performance of “I Surrender”), and Megan also. Danny’s a widower, which they made a big deal out of for a while, but I’m relieved they seem to have let go of a bit. It’s a big deal to let us “get to know” the contestants because likability is a huge factor.

But it turns my stomach when it comes down to Allison being “the 16 year old,” Scott being “the blind guy,” Danny “the widower,” Michael “the roughneck daddy.” The contestants who’ve stood out to me did so because of amazing voices, incredibly strong or new performances.

I also hate that Alexis went home right after a lot of Internet speculation that the contest was rigged (as folks speculate it is every season). Maybe it is rigged and Alexis had to be sacrificed so that people would believe that it wasn’t… See how my conspiracy theory mind works? Honestly, I seriously doubt that AI is rigged because that would kind of defeat the purpose. And because the judges/producers (ahem, Simon) already do so much visible manipulation to try to save the contestants they think have what it takes. Anyway, if AI is rigged, how the hell did Taylor Hicks win?

Let’s talk about last night.

1. Kris Allen – Oh my. I was about to walk out the door for a volleyball game, almost decided to skip his performance. The first thing I said to my roommate when I heard he was performing, “Ain’t No Sunshine” (one of my most favorite songs ever) is, “Oh no, he could really screw this up.” I have 10 versions of this song in my iTunes and no matter how great someone covers it, it’s hard not to think of Bill Withers. And then Kris pulled some magic out of somewhere and presented me with an “Ain’t No Sunshine” I had never heard before and really, really loved. He changed up the phrasing, delaying that first “gone,” playing against expectations so beautifully to give us something new and special. Artistry, truly. Not that I didn’t miss Bill Withers’s rasp a little on the “I know, I know, I know, I know,” but Kris made this song so new and so current that it took my breath away. Now there are 11 versions in my iTunes and Kris has gone from “oh no” to “oh my.”

2. Adam Lambert – It’s an interesting week when Adam is second to somebody else for an original and experimental performance. I thoroughly enjoyed his “Play That Funky Music,” and think he’s a fascinating performer. But he did play second fiddle to Kris this week. Nobody could touch that final performance.

3. Megan Joy (Corkrey) – Really, really liked her “Turn the Lights Down Low.” She’s got a weird voice (which I love) and you can always tell it’s her singing. I think that’s an incredibly good thing. I still think she hasn’t picked one bad song. Not one. “Rockin’ Robin” was good for her and so was “For Once in My Life,” and if you don’t believe me, go listen to the studio versions. She may have had small stumbles in performance, but so has everybody and she is learning so much about how to hold herself on stage every week. I’m getting sick of “the new judge” Kara (it works both ways) spouting out, “Adele, Duffy, blah blah blah” after every performance. Yes, their songs will be incredible with Megan’s voice, but I like what she’s picking. I voted for the first time this season, trying to make sure that Kara and Simon don’t get her voted off.

4. Allison Iraheta – Gave me exactly what I’ve been asking for with the first section of “Don’t Speak” and then started screaming again. She’s got a great rocker rasp. I like her a lot. But I want more of the unplugged Allison singing softly. She proved to me that she can do it this week. Now I want an entire song.

5. Lil Rounds – Disappointed me with “I Surrender.” I thought if anybody could make me like a Celine Dion song, it’d be Lil. Nope. This song sucked. Lil can sing, I want her to give me a performance I like again.

6. Matt Giraud – I really liked his “You Found Me.” I kinda get what the judges say about his rock band songs (“Drops of Jupiter”), but then again not really. I enjoyed both of those performances and I like that he has dimensions – not just R&B and soul, but rock too. I thought it was a bit manipulative for him to play the piano in a sea of adoring girls, but that’ll probably work for him.

7. Danny Gokey – Liked his “What Hurts the Most.” Had no complaints, but it wasn’t my favorite. I think he picks the same kind of songs every week and that bores me.

8. Anoop Desai – “Caught Up” bored me and I forgot what he sang and had to look it up. I respect him for asserting exactly what kind of career he wants to have. But I’m not likely to buy his cds, maybe just buy a download or two.

9. Scott MacIntyre – You already know how I feel about “Just the Way You Are.” It’s hard to top the Piano Man and I don’t feel like he made it his own at all.

I’d like to see Scott or Anoop go. I’m afraid that folks will listen to the judges on folks like Megan and Matt (negatively) or Lil and Scott (positively). The judges supported both of the second two’s performances and I highly disagree. I’d like Lil to stay, though, because I like seeing what she does. So, in short, I’m not quite sure what’s going to happen tonight.

Know what else I’d like to see? Alexis come back. You think if the judges’ don’t use their save they can recall her, even weeks later? That would be lovely…

[Later 4.1.09 – I’m disgusted. Megan was voted off. Too bad it wasn’t an April Fool’s joke. Simon really pissed me off as well because he spoke for all of the judges without consulting them (as far as I could see) before Megan even performed. This whole judges’ save things has brought out a whole new rude side in Simon. I’d like to say I’m going to stop watching now and I probably won’t watch as often, but I am intrigued to see what Adam and now Kris get up to. And yes, Allison. Really liked her sweet vocals on the group number. But I don’t particularly care who stays or goes any more, am not invested. You know what would be nice? Besides Alexis and Megan coming back? They should have a duets week where nobody gets voted off so we can see how the contestants sing together. Could be cool. It was nice seeing David Cook back and I liked what he said about only selling 1,000 copies of his cd in a year before AI and going platinum in 3 months after. And Lady GaGa’s performance of “Poker Face” – looooved it, especially how her singing straight at the clear pink piano was a million times more demented than her regular performance.]

[Also, and I know this is random, but I noticed my last name in the AI credits tonight. Just looked it up and Laura Staat is a deko operator (whatever that is, sounds cool) on the show. Hmmm, wonder if we’re related. Also random – if you Google “American Idol” and Staat, my blog pops up on the first page of search results.]

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American Idol again

Okay, so I was still hoping that there’d be a, “hey, after thinking about it and letting her sweat, we decided to invoke the judges’ save and here’s Alexis…” all the way up to when Matt first started singing. Probably I’m in denial, but I still want it to happen.

I’m gonna rank my favorite performances from tonight. Megan Joy (Corkrey) is still my fav in the competition, however –

1. Adam Lambert – Holy shit. Just, like, holy shit. Seriously. He’s never been my fav – sometimes he strikes me as cocky and disingenuous. But I have never denied or been able to deny that he has voice and originality. After his take on Ring of Fire, I was flabbergasted. There aren’t words for his Tracks of My Tears. Smokey Robinson gave him a standing O. When he ended on that last “I need…” oh my. This performance was incredibly controlled (mostly in falsetto!), but I don’t think anybody could call it disingenuous.

2. Allison Iraheta – I have been begging for her to do something softer and more tender so that we can see that she’s a great singer with dimension to her voice. She didn’t exactly do what I’ve been asking for, but I feel like she gave me what I’ve been wanting with Papa Was a Rolling Stone. This kicked ass, it wasn’t screamy and those final notes… Loved Kara’s “It sounds like you’ve been singing for 400 years.” But seriously, the judges need to stop reminding us she’s only 16. It’s getting incredibly annoying. As they always say (before they say she’s 16), it doesn’t matter how old she is – it sounds like she’s been singing for 400 years.

3. Anoop Desai, Kris Allen and Matt Giraud – I couldn’t really pick between the three of them. They were all supremely excellent with Ooh Baby Baby, How Sweet It Is and Let’s Get It On respectively. Oh sooooo excellent, guys.

4. Megan Joy, Lil Rounds and Danny Gokey – I feel like all three of these performances had some really awesome moments but were generally a bit too frenzied or off in some way. For Once In My Life was a a good song for Megan, but she didn’t really nail it. Heat Wave really should have worked for Lil, but she was screaming and pushing for some reason. And Get Ready really worked for Danny, but was a bit campy.

5. Michael Sarver and Scott MacIntyre – They’re both just incredibly redundant to me at this point. I dig that they’re both nice guys and reasonably talented. I think they can both have successful careers and I’ll probably even download a song or two of theirs one day. But I very seriously doubt I’m ever going to want to listen to an entire c.d. straight through (let alone over and over) or attend a concert of theirs. I hope one of these two goes home and I think their performances of Ain’t Too Proud to Beg and You Can’t Hurry Love reinforce my prediction. I’d give them both up if we could have Alexis back – I can’t help wondering what song she would’ve picked for Motown week. 😥

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I’m curious…

I missed AI last night (out having a real life) and caught up the only way I could (listening to the performances without video on YouTube and reading recaps about the judges’ comments). And I’m curious to see if I can still predict who leaves today.

Going home: Michael Sarver or Scott MacIntyre. Probably Michael.

Judges got it wrong: Loved Lil Rounds with “Independence Day.” She’s always been solid, but she hasn’t really gotten my attention before this. I thought it was a great performance, solidly country but still her own take. Adam Lambert with “Ring of Fire.” Ditto as Lil Rounds. I’ve always known he’s a good solid performer, but he’s not my favorite. I’ll give him this, his performances are *always* completely original. He really does his own things with the songs. It might not be Simon’s style, but it was definitely risky and creative. And it sounded amazing.

Lovin’: Anoop Desai and Matt Giraud and Kris Allen. Great performances.

Alright now: Danny Gokey and Allison Iraheta, great solid performances but they are not surprising me. I just wish they’d mix it up, surprise me. Danny should sing something about bitter, dark hearbreak and not something tender and inspirational. Allison should sing something tender and soft and show us that her voice has dimension, that she’s not just a rocker chick. Sure, being true to yourself is great, but I can honestly say I wouldn’t listen to an entire cd or concert of theirs if they’re only going to sing the same type of songs.

Still loving: Alexis Grace and Megan Corkrey. It helps that they both sang songs I know well and really love. Though not terribly surprised that Alexis sang “Jolene” – because it’s a great song for her. She didn’t quite do with it what I know she can. Megan sang sick, had a couple of rocky notes, but did a really nice “Walking After Midnight.”

So let’s see how my predictions turn out…

[3.23.09: I did a very bad job of predicting this one as half of my favorites group went home. Put out a cd Alexis. Like, right now. I’ll buy it. Just like I’ll see Kherington in the remake of Fame.]

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American Idol predictions

I can’t promise I’ll do this every week, but gonna make some AI predictions.

Going home: Jorge or Jasmine. She looked gorgeous, but she’s not ready for this. Sucks cause everyone else is pretty freaking awesome.

Surprised me (pleasantly): Kris Allen. He rocks. And I think he handled Simon pretty well, though I suspected he wanted to beat the crap out of him for the, “Wouldn’t have brought the wife out just yet” comment. Anoop did a pretty good job, I thought, but got trashed by the judges. I always enjoy Matt when he’s singing, but I never remember him.

Not surprising me (unfortunately): Allison Iraheta. She needs to sing something soft next week, to show us she’s not going to be screaming every week. Love her, but we need some variety. Scott can sing, but he’s singing the same stuff I’m not terribly interested in every time. Like Michael, but he doesn’t have a lot of variety either.

They rock, but not my favs: Lil Rounds, Adam Lambert and Danny Gokey. Not worried about any of them.

My favorites: Megan Corkrey and Alexis Grace. Megan looks like she has a lot of nervous energy onstage and physically does the same thing every time. Hasn’t mattered to me one bit cause I love the sound of her voice and I don’t think she’s picked a single bad song. Alexis has got it all. I’m worried she’s pulling a Kherrington (my fav from SYTYCD) and getting cocky. But I loved “Dirty Diana,” especially when she belted out, “make me a star!”

[3.12: So they sent two people home – Jorge and Jasmine, both of the two I said were in danger.]

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A yummy all-media post

Going back to one of my favorite things to blog about – media. Yum.

Let’s start with movies. In a distant time and place (okay, say for a while before spring 2007 and in Baton Rouge), I used to have a Sunday-movie tradition that got disrupted by graduation, my European tour and moving to New Orleans. I re-established it with Confessions of a Shopaholic. I haven’t read the books, but I did enjoy the movie. I remember reading somewhere (EW?) a review that questioned whether big-spending would go over well with a recessed audience. But I think some of the messages of the film – don’t count just on material possessions, credit cards and debt collectors are the devil – is all the more poignant because of this recession. Isla Fisher is amazing and I always love Hugh Dancy (oh yes, I do), so even though I felt like the romantic elements were a little rushed, I still believed them cause the actors are awesome at what they do. I love that Isla Fisher is such a physical comedienne, which is reminiscent of the best of Debra Messing (I’ve been a fan since 1998’s 13 episodes of Prey, which was NOT comedy) and, even better, Lucille Ball (who I’ve been compared to in my dizzier, hopefully more brilliant moments).

Now let’s talk t.v. I think I’ve come out as an American Idol fan before and if I haven’t, I suppose this is my big confession. I started watching a few seasons ago and probably got hooked cause it was fun to watch with my neighbors and friends. Now I’m just hooked. The good, the bad, the ugly, I’m there. Sad to say. I am more reluctant and less enthusiastic about the early train-wreck auditions, if that does make you feel any better. Enough defense. 🙂 So far, though this season is definitely weird, I’m entirely satisfied with the first six going through. I looooove Alexis Grace and Allison Iraheta really blew me away (she wasn’t really on my radar before her performance). However, if anybody is reading this, I do hope this is heard – Megan Corkrey and Stevie Wright MUST, must, do you hear me, be wild card picks for the top 12. I’ll tell you now, I don’t care what happens to Megan Corkrey on this show – I will buy any c.d. she puts out. I love her voice. It’s probably too early to say the word “favorite,” since I haven’t even seen 12 people perform and I do love some others, but… Predictions for the three picked from this last set of 12 (really, AI, confusing) are: Scott MacIntyre, Lil Rounds and let’s say…Alex Wagner, but I remember liking Kendall Beard, too. Let’s see what happens tonight.

[3.6: I must’ve had a premonition that they’d pick four contestants, rather than just three. And I was right about two of the last set of three before the wild cards. That was a pretty easy call, though.]

More t.v. Can I just say that, after catching up with all three episodes of Dollhouse so far, I am a BIG fan. No, I won’t be staying in on Fridays to watch it, but YES, I will watch it. Hear that, Fox peoples? Let’s have a deal here and now, between you and me. I will watch it, do not cancel it. But then, I knew I would love it, since I do love my Joss Whedon (insert collective sigh for Firefly here). Big fan of Eliza Dushku, too (in part thanks to Joe, love you dear). This show is smart, funny, addictive. And it’s slick and pretty. Has all the best elements of classic Whedon, also reminds me of Alias a bit (which is great as J.J. Abrams is another big love of mine). I think, honestly, it would’ve been paired better with Fringe than The Sarah Conor Chronicles (Fringe has a strong, kick-ass woman lead, too and my mamma mia! and I text throughout the episodes), but maybe the Fox folks felt that was too much science and technology and weird conspiracy for one night. I will bow to their greater knowledge of these things – provided they don’t cancel either Dollhouse or Fringe. Have I revealed yet just how big of a dork I am?

Now, books. Reading this cool French girl-adventurer book called The Princetta (and the Captain, apparently). It’s massive and translated and really, really good. Just finished a fun (if a bit weird with the Brit-infected “New Yorker” main character) book called Me and Mr Darcy. Not as good as Austenland, a bit too reminiscent of Bridget Jones, but fun nonetheless. Also, while I’m always a big fan of Sarah Dessen, I was blown away by Lock and Key. Even wrote the author a very personal fan letter.

And something I’ve been wanting to blog about for a few weeks. Let’s see if you can follow this. In a distant time and place (okay, circa 1996 as far as my documents certify and in Georgia), I started reading an author named L.J. Smith. I became a BIG fan, getting involved in a massive fansite online (remember in my first blog when I talked about first engaging in an online life?) called The Night World, which was devoted to all of her books. She wrote several trilogies and a quartet of books (after two linked stand-alones) before beginning a longer series called The Night World, which was supposed to be 10 books long, the last of which, Strange Fate, would be released right before the new millinnieum (which featured in the series). However, due to mysterious illnesses and etc., the book’s never been released. Now it’s 9+ years later and, to my knowledge, the book’s still not out. She’s reappeared, writing under the name Ljane Smith and according to her website, she’s still writing Strange Fate. And coolest of all, as I discovered while at my not-so-local bookstore (I was in Baton Rouge), her series’ are being re-released, omnibus style!! There’s lots of L.J. (as I’ll always know her, short for Lisa Jane) news lately, actually. The CW is apparently creating a t.v. show from The Vampire Diaries. It has a lot to do with the success of the Twilight books and movie, almost certaintly, but these books pre-date all that and rock in their own right. As I said in my comment responding to this piece on Pretty Scary. However you get into L.J. Smith, get into her. I love these books. They predate when I was educated about writing (and judgmental) and just enjoyed books for all their cheesy potential (see: Dean Koontz). And you know what? I was a kid when I read L.J. Smith and Dean Koontz. And all these years later, I still get crazy excited about them, still enjoy their books. So that must say something… Can you tell me what? 🙂

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