Tag Archives: Kris Allen

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under American Idol, books, bragging on, Fess Up Friday, Friends, music, musing, New Orleans, pop culture, random rant, review, So You Think You Can Dance, t.v., what I'm reading, writing updates

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).

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

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.]

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

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.]

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

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. 😥

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

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.]

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

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.]

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized