Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Chosen One

So the Idol hysteria has just about died down. I've heard from many of you that Adam was robbed and that Kris is too white bread, middle America and not very talented.

It happens every year; the loser's partisans generate stormy protests about alleged voting improprieties that cost their star, the runner-up, the Idol crown. I love a good conspiracy theory and they seem to run rampant after each and every Idol season.

I didn't vote, so I was in no way responsible for the victory. But, yes, I am pleased that Kris won the trophy, pleased because I prefer his style of music over Adam's. I would choose acoustic guitar over screaming rock n' roll any day of the week. With that said, I have no doubt that if I were to party with Kris and Adam, I would have a lot more fun with Adam. And, something tells me that my political and religious views are more in line with Adam's than with Kris's. I may have vanilla taste in music, but my thoughts on politics and religion are more Cherry Garcia.

But the bottom line is...there can be only one American Idol. Adam was a truly gracious runner-up who, I'm sure, will go on to be very successful and prove that you don't have to win the title to be a worldwide star. America did not chose him this year, but he is certainly not a loser.

Yesterday my son came home from school with the year's final monthly newsletter. I glanced over the paragraph about dress code revisions and the one about summer math review suggestions (that will never happen) and stopped at the new guest policy for next year. Many parents enjoy going to school to have lunch with their child. When they do, they sit at a table reserved for visitors and their child gets to invite a friend or two to join them. (Personally, I'd prefer to sit at the table with all the kids, but that's not how it's done.)

Well, according to the newsletter, teachers have noticed that some children feel excluded and left out when they are not chosen to accompany the parent and child. And then the teacher has to deal with hurt feelings. So, beginning next year, when parents come for lunch, the school asks that they enjoy that time with their child and their child alone - no friends - and more importantly, no hurt feelings.

Rrrreally? Really? Necessary?

God forbid the kids learn the lesson that they will not always be included. It's easier to simply eliminate any circumstance where feelings might be hurt. I wonder if they still pick teams for kick ball these days? Probably not, being chosen last could send a kid into therapy for years. I'm not saying it's easy, I'm just saying eventually kids are going to have to learn that life isn't always fair and sometimes it sucks and are not chosen. Dealing with those feelings is a part of growing up. Heck, it's a part of being a grown up, as well.

I read it again: "The teacher has to deal with the hurt feelings." What is that about? Apparently explaining to the children that they will not always be chosen is not an option? It's not as if the child "left out" is put in a closet and told to eat alone; they remain at the table with 20 classmates, for crying out loud! How much could that hurt?

Something tells me that Adam had his feelings hurt a time or two when he was a kid. And I bet you anything those experiences helped him become such a gracious runner-up. I'm all about sparing feelings, but not at the expense of raising a generation of sore losers.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

There Can Be Only One American Idol

What's the moral of the story? America likes their Idols to be humble. He may not be the most articulate fellar, but he is adorable and he is cool and he can sing. And man, oh man, is he humble. America cast 100 million votes and something tells me it wasn't even close (or Ryan surely would have mentioned it). Despite what the judges wanted us to believe, Kris has been a favorite for quite some time. Hats off to Kris...I think he is very worthy of the prize.

It took 2 hours to get through the final...I'll try to do it in a matter of minutes....

As usual, it was too long and drawn out and then too rushed at the end. God forbid we should get to see the winner bask in his glory. (although I did love that hug between Kris and his wife as the show faded to black...)

Ryan starts us off with the judges roast where we are reminded that Randy constantly abuses the English language, Kara is anything but a sweetie, Paula honestly believes that she has a firm grasp of the English language, and Simon doesn't really have a flaw, so the producers come up with a lame-o bit about him being hard of hearing.

First Group Sing of the Night: Pink's So What. It sounds like the Kidz Bop version. Huge cheese factor as we get reacquainted with the Top 13, some of which have no business being on that stage.

Then last year's humble Idol takes the stage singing Permanent. He's dressed like a train conductor and gets a little verklempt singing the song. But he sounds great and he looks great and I'm wondering if he's still dating Kimberly Caldwell? Please, God, no.

Next it's time to give out the awards for the crazies. Outstanding male goes to Nick/Norman and I have to admit, it was kind of funny. Just kind of. The bit could have been shorter, but I did chuckle when the camera panned to Ryan wearing Norman's glasses and headband.

Duet time. First up, Lil Rounds and Queen Latifah singing Cue the Rain. I don't like the song; they are totally out of sync. In fact, they are singing together, but separate. At the end of the song, they don't smile at one another or hug one another or even acknowledge each other's presence. Big egos (and lots of big booty) up there on that stage.

Back from a commercial break we find Alexis Grace and Anoop singing I'm Yours by Jason Mraz. Alexis is very much at home up there on that stage, it's a shame she won't be touring this summer. Enter a shoeless Jason Mraz wearing his peace shirt and epitomizing what it is to be cool.

Buckle up, we're going on a Kris journey to Humble, Arkansas. I like Kris a lot better when he's singing and not talking. He and Keith Urban team up to sing a song about kissing a girl. They sound great together. Kris looks like a natural.

It's time for all the girls to parade out in their Glamorous attire. This song is so 5 minutes ago and I must say, the girls look like a bunch of whores. Enter Fergie, the original butter face (as in: everything looks good....but her face). I am relieved to see that she is joined by the rest of the Black Eyed Peas to sing Boom Boom Pow. During the performance Fergie is replaced by a still Idol logo image - what is Fergie up to? One can only imagine....

More awards for the crazies...Best Attitude goes to Bikini Girl and as she parades across the stage I am pretty sure that she had some augmentation. Loved Ryan's quip, "I was going to ask you what's new...but I think I know." And as much as I despise Kara, I have to give her her props for singing and flashing! She sounded great and has a smokin' hot bod. But I still think she is an awful judge and should get voted off the island...

Next duet is performed by Allison and Cyndi Lauper. They could be mother and daughter and both are singing as if they have marbles in their mouths.

Time to visit the Allen and Lambert camps: Kris' mother could have used some help in the dress department tonight. And, as usual, his father is beaming. And where, pray tell, is his wife? I don't think we've ever heard her speak once the whole season? She was sitting next to them earlier, but seems to have disappeared. Hmm. Adam's parents don't especially like the spotlight (maybe because Adam has always stolen it from them?).

Ok, now I'm starting to get rrrreally bored. And to make matters worse, Danny is singing with Nicole Ritchie's father. Zzzzzz.....

Wake up, it's time to go on Adam's journey. Yes, we know you've been performing since you were 10, Adam. Yes, in the theatre. Uh-huh. He's singing Rock N Roll All Night with Kiss and I think he's finally met his match with the screaming and the pointy tongue thing (not to mention the platform boots).

And they're losing me again with Carlos Santana's Black Magic Woman. Followed by the Steve Martin song with Meaghan and Michael (worst performance of the night.) Then Rod Stewart comes on stage looking old and feeble and a little like Mr. Weasley (Ron's dad) from Harry Potter. He sounds exhausted, but apparently he feels up to touring this summer. Necessary, Rod? I think not.

Now, you knew that if Norman got his two minutes, Tatiana would get hers, too. Her little act is silly and very played.

Is it not time to crown the winner? My clock says 9:55, but no, uh-uh, not up the boys are going to sing We Are the Champions with Queen. (Hey! Kris' wife is back in the audience next to her in-laws - she was so avoiding Ryan).

Ok, it's finally time...Ryan asks Simon for some parting words. Since he's the only judge who can actually speak English and form a coherent sentence he tells Adam and Kris that they are both brilliant, both unusually nice guys and that the future is all theirs.

And then....Ryan crowns the winner. Kris looks shocked! Kris receives the very first Idol trophy and immediately says that Adam deserves it. Humble until the bitter end. He's not very well-spoken, ok, that's putting it mildly, but he's super adorable and I'm all smiles until....Ryan announces that Kris will be singing No Boundaries. For the love of that absolutely necessary?

So, I'm turning off my TV for the season.....


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Who Gets Your Vote?

Tonight the stage is bigger, the audience is bigger and the stakes are bigger. Each contestant sings three songs to a theatre filled with stars, celebrities and old Idol wannabees.

The first song is the contestant's choice; their favorite song of the season...

Dim all the lights...a thick fog rolls over the stage while a menacing dark figure in a long coat appears on the top of the staircase. Enter Adam Lambert looking very much like a vampire. He's in his element. I'm not sure why the judges have labelled him a rocker, clearly he is all about grand entrances and Broadway productions. You can take the boy out of the theater, but you can't take the theater out of the boy. What I do like about this performance, and yes, it truly is a performance, is that there is no screaming. He's got his serious face on and he sounds phenomenal.
  • Randy says something positive, but I am having a hard time taking him seriously (what with his dueling plaids and polka dots) and so I don't really know what he says...
  • Kara is all fired up; she's shouting as she delivers her lines like a well rehearsed speech. Can't tell if she's more thrilled with Adam or herself.
  • Paula is a shimmering shade of orange this evening and may have hit the bottle just a smidge before taking the judge's chair.
  • Simon loved the performance but thinks it was a bit too Phantom of the Opera. Perhaps Adam can star as Edward in Twilight: The Musical?
Kris' favorite song is Ain't No Sunshine (in keeping with the vampire theme) and it is brilliant. Looking all cool behind that piano of his, he's current and happening and is the most comfortable I've seen him.
  • The Dog says it's his best performance ever.
  • Kara is screaming something about, "if you don't feel a Kris Allen performance, there is something wrong with you." There is something very wrong with her.
  • Paula Worst spray-on tan ever.
  • Simon admits he was wrong last week when he thought America made the wrong choice with Kris. He's taking it all back and round one goes to Kris.
Simon Fuller choses the next two songs. For Adam, it's Change is Gonna Come. He's got his theater eyes on and he's looking all serious, almost like he's snarling. But he's not snarling, he's screaming. For the life of me, I don't know why the judges never call him on his screaming shenanigans. He ends the performance with jazz hands and angry eyes last parting scream.
  • Randy (seriously, who put that outfit together?) says he can sing his face off.
  • Kara thinks its his best performance and his best interpretation AND she's still screaming. Everybody needs to relax and stop screaming, for crying out loud.
  • Paula is on her feet, professing her love for Adam
  • Simon says that he's 100% back in the game
The judges are doing their job: trying to make this an even match by creating drama where there really isn't any drama. And just before I hit the ff button, I think I spot Katie Holmes in the audience.

Simon Fuller's choice for Kris is What's Going On. It's a very Kris-like performance; laid back and mellow. He's playing his guitar and his crooked smile is out in full force as is his ultra-cool style. No orchestra, no big band, just Kris and a few other guys...
  • Randy thinks it's a little light for him...
  • Kara says he's true to himself and she's still yelling!
  • Paula thinks he tore the song up and made Marvin Gaye proud.
  • Simon thinks Kris didn't grab hold of it and declares Adam the winner of round 2.
And now it's time for No Boundaries, the single co-written by Kara for the contestants. It's an opportunity to showcase Kara's song writing abilities and as far as I'm concerned, she falls flat on her face. The song is horrible. I hope the winner doesn't have to re-sing it tomorrow night.

Adam attempts the little ditty first. Man, is he sporting a lot of rings on those fingers. The crowd is eating him up.
  • But for was just awright, dog.
  • Kara is moved and proud that Adam is singing her song. Like he had a choice? She must be moved, because she is speaking much softer.
  • Paula proclaims that she is a fan.
  • Simon starts by saying that he's not going to judge the song (because it sucked), but he is going to judge the person and then goes on to say that Adam is the best, most original contestant ever and he believes that they have found a worldwide star.
Now it's Kris' turn to attempt No Boundaries. He does so without the screaming and with much less drama and fanfare, but he doesn't look comfortable singing it. Maybe because it is an awful song. Maybe because it's not in his range. It certainly isn't his best performance, but I like his rendition better than Adam's.
  • Randy says Kris is an amazing competitor and this song fit Kris' voice better than Adam's.
  • Kara says she hopes that America will vote on the season and not this song. I hope the producers will vote her off the island based on the season and this song.
  • Paula says that Kris deserves to be up there on that stage, but falls short of endorsing him for the title.
  • Simon thinks Kris' first song was the highlight of the night, but agrees that he thoroughly deserves to be on that stage.
Carry Underwood sings us out and now it's time for America to decide the fate of Kris and Adam. I think Adam had a better night, but I still want Kris to win...and I think he might....

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Adam vs Kris....

How can Simon say, "Nobody could have predicted this..." Um, hello? I did. And so did many others...

88 million votes and only 1 million separate Adam and Kris. I'm thinking Kris will get a lot of Danny's votes next week, thereby putting him over the top and making him this year's American Idol. And I predicted it here and now, Simon.

So no Group Sing tonight; instead we are treated to Alicia Keyes, Global Ambassador for Something or Other, introducing an up and coming singing sensation from Africa. (and I can't hit my fast-forward button fast enough...)

Danny's visit to his hometown of Milwaukee is very...well...very Danny. It's nice and sweet and...that's about it. My favorite quote from a little girl in his audience sums it up rather nicely, "he's cute, he's got good glasses and he lives in Milwaukee." Enough said.

Conway, Arkansas comes out in full force to support their hometown hero. Love that Kris has a lifetime supply of free cheese dip at his favorite restaurant. I wonder if he'll have to pay for whatever it is that he dips in said cheese dip? And how about that father of his? How cute is he? It's easy to see where Kris gets his adorable crooked smile and his humbleness. A sweet family, indeed (I hope they'll be ok when Kris ditches them for LA). Something tells me his father may cry...just a hunch I have...but hopefully they'll get to eat his free cheese dip when he's gone.

And then we stall for a few more minutes while Jordin Sparks takes the stage. She's looking smokin' hot. But still, I don't have time for this and so I fast-forward and stop just in time to catch the last shot of Jordin looking like Satan! Holy good god, I'm going to have nightmares. Not a good way to end, Jordin. Horrible, in fact.

Now it's Adam's turn to have his moment. Hey, look, all the Idols are in the audience tonight! I see the blind guy (whose name has already escaped me) and Anoop. Oh, and there's the rest of them. Ok, so roll Adam's tape. His first fan request is from the weather girl at the local Fox affiliate asking Adam to apply her eye makeup for her. Hmm. Alrighty then. Then he visits the junior Broadway theater to show us where he got his start and he gives all the kids a pep talk. Then we go to his San Diego high school where some chick rips off her shirt and storms the stage. I'm sorry, isn't Adam like 27? And we're visiting his former high school? Isn't this a little humiliating for him? Clearly I need to lose the bitterness about Adam getting to sing One last night. I'll let it go... I fast-forward through Katy Perry's performance. Could her eyes be any bigger? I kind of feel sorry for her, surely everybody in America is fast-forwarding through her Vegas act, no?

And finally...the moment we've all been waiting for...Kris and Adam are heading to the finale and Danny is going home to Jamar and his church choir. Sweet Danny; he's a good guy and goes out with a bang as he sings You Are So Beautiful. Paula is on her feet and is tearing up. I take that back, Paula is on her feet and is now bawling. Kara is mouthing, "Oh My God." while I am mouthing, "Shut up, Kara."

Not sure what Simon means when he says that next week will be a "big ding dong"...but I think there's a good chance that The Chosen One will be upset....

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Three Amigos

Whoa. Tonight's performance should be called Judges Behaving Badly. Ridiculous behavior from every last one of them. So I'm going to give my two cents before I give their lame feedback...

Gokey starts us out tonight with Paula's choice of Dance Little Sister.
  • Laurie: What the? Why did he bring out that saxophone player? Verrry awkward. Coming on the heels of seeing Bruce Springsteen in concert with the Big Man, Clarence Clemons, that was painful for me to watch. Danny's got great vocals, but I am not all over this song (although I realize that's Paula's fault, not Danny's.)
  • Randy: Dude that was dope for me, dude. (Really, Randy? Really are we going to go there again?)
  • Kara: She didn't like the dancing. Somebody needs to tell her that this is American Idol and not So You Think You Can Dance.
  • Paula: Enter Paula, who sets Kara straight by telling her that she's a choreographer...
  • Simon: Tells both ladies that Danny is not being judged on his dancing and then proceeds to say that he doesn't like the saxophone or the song choice thereby echoing my sentiments exactly. Love him.
Next up, Kris. Now, tell me why Kara and Randy pick Kris' song and Simon chooses Adam's song? Fair? Hardly. I think Simon should have picked all the songs. I'm not happy that Kris is at the mercy of the Dog and the Drama Queen, but he is...

And he's singing Apologize. They picked it because it's a big song, with a big range and it's going to be Kris' big moment. (or not...)
  • Laurie: Love his crooked smile. Love his piano playing. I know the judges are going to be all over the fact that he isn't changing it up, but I still love him.
  • Randy: says something about the song showing us how great he can be????
  • Kara: I want to punch Kara in the face. What is with all the drama? The over enunciating of the words and the gesturing of the hands and the same schtick week after week. She doesn't like the piano, she says Kris should have been more gutsy and played the guitar. How, pray tell, is the guitar more gutsy? She's talking nonesense.
  • Paula: blah, blah, blah....
  • Simon: goes off on Kara for her song choice and then...well...hmm...honestly, I have no idea what they are all arguing about. Poor Kris is left up on stage while Paula his pounding on Simon's breasts and Kara is trying to convince us all of her artistic talents.
Simon informs us that the official word from Bono is that he is honored that Adam is singing One. I'm still pissed that Adam and Simon got paired up. Somebody is playing favorites.
  • Laurie: You know what? I don't think it's that great. First of all, Adam looks like Mr. Spock this evening. He's wearing ear pieces to help him hear, I guess, and the wires kind of go up to a point making Adam look a lot like the Star Trek character. Weird. So, I'm assuming those ear pieces allow him to hear his SCREAMS even louder and clearer? Seriously, what is up with the screaming? And is it me or is his tongue unbelievably pointy? And does he constantly stick it out when he screams? I know, I sound bitter and ugly because Kris got stuck with Dumb and Dumber and Adam got Simon, but still...I'm just saying...
  • Randy: Hottest. In the Zone. (Randy speak for "it was great").
  • Kara: Thinks Adam is a strategist. Hmm.
  • Paula: Resents Adam for doing such a good job because Simon can now gloat.
  • Simon: And gloat he does...brilliant song choice. (Bite me, Simon.)
Now we take a break and go to Africa with Carrie Underwood...or at least some of us do, I choose not to....

Adam's back with Joe Cocker's, You Are So Beautiful.
  • Laurie: I think it's a bit dorky. I don't know, Danny has a great voice, but that's about all he has. I don't see any star quality. I want to see star quality, but he is void of star quality.
  • Randy: Mad vocals.
  • Kara: Stunning.
  • Paula: You left us breathless.
  • Simon: Vocal master class.
Kris is singing Kanye West's Heartless...I LOVE this song and hope that Kris blows one out of the park....
  • Laurie: And that he does! Home run, baby. This is my favorite song of the night. (And yes, I realize that Adam still has to sing one, but I'm not going to like it nearly as much as this one.) I am sooo in Kris' camp.
  • Randy: Likes it better than Kanye's version. Kanye is going to be pissed....
  • Kara: Thinks it was bold, brave and fearless. Do you think it had something to do with the guitar? Can't wait for Kara to shut up.
  • Paula: Says it was relevant. Funny, cause I would describe her as irrelevant.
  • Simon: Admits that he wrote Kris off after the first song, but he's changed his mind after that performance...
And then the Chosen One comes back on stage. No, I'm done, I'm not even going to try to hide my bitterness. He's singing Aerosmith's Crying. Wait, no, he's not singing it...he's SCREAMING it.
  • Laurie: What is up with that pointy tongue?
  • Randy: Says he's a charismatic rock star. That might be the biggest word he's used all season. Props for the dog.
  • Kara: Says she'll see him at the finals. Whatever, Kara.
  • Paula: Says he sets the bar high.
  • Simon: Tells Adam he belongs in the finals based on his talent. (And not on his screaming ability, I guess?)
Roll the recap tape and let's see what I missed the first time around:
  1. Danny has a fantastic voice, no doubt about it, but nothing much else going for him. I think Danny will be back in the church choir on Sunday.
  2. Kris has a great voice, a great personality, star quality and America will eat him up (with a spoon).
  3. Adam is extremely talented, is as cool as they come and if Kris wasn't in the competition, I'd want him to win....
It happens every much as I love Idol, I am so ready for it to be over....and I'm at that point. Let's just crown Kris the winner and go home...

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day!

I received a lot of emails about mothers and Mother's Day this week,
but this was my favorite!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

End of Year Teacher Gifts

I can't tell you how many times I've started to blog about a particular topic...and then stop...because I'm afraid I'll offend too many readers. Well, I'm throwing caution to the wind. I dubbed my blog "Reid It and Weep...Idol Thoughts and Other Rants and Raves" and today I'm living up to my subtitle and I'm going to rant like you read about.

Today's topic: end of year teacher gifts.

And so begins me rant....

Do parents really think that teachers want end of year tchotchkies? Because they don't. I'm not sure what a teacher does with one coffee mug that reads "World's Greatest Teacher", much less 22 of them. Do you know what teachers do with those picture frames that you give them? They take out the photo of your kid and they regift them. (and no, they don't save the photo of your kid). Think about it, teachers who have been teaching for years have been given, on average, 342 picture frames in the course of their career. And they have received enough charms to fill 50 charm bracelets. I'm just saying, the charm that you and your child picked out is neither unique or precious. And really, who besides your grandmother is sporting a charm bracelet? a teacher a craft made by your child is not a gift. In fact, it's a slap in the face. Despite what you think, your child's handiwork does not light up his teacher's life. The teacher has spent the last 10 months doing arts and crafts with your kid; what makes you think that personalized flowerpot pencils is a great way to show your appreciation? It isn't. Same goes with baked goods. Your child's teacher has seen where your kid's hands have been (ie: up his nose, in his pants, in the dirt, in the ear of the kid sitting next to him) thereby making it extremely difficult to snarf down cookies made by your wonder child. I don't care how many times he's washed his hands.

When my daughter was in 1st or 2nd grade, the room mother took up a collection in honor of the teacher and the teacher's assistant. Each parent donated cash, in whatever denomination they saw fit, and the room mother presented each of them a check from the whole class. Perfect. Cash...good. Not receiving tchotchkies...priceless. A novel idea. But we couldn't leave it at that....

The next year I received a note from the room mother informing me that we would also include the specials in this year's collection. The whattles? What are "the specials"? Turns out the specials are my child's other teachers, as in the librarian, the gym teacher, the Spanish teacher, the art teacher, the music teacher and the computer teacher. Whoa. How about the cafeteria lady and the nurse? Why are we excluding them? And, as you can imagine, this addition made things more complicated; we were asked for one donation, but it would be split amongst many teachers. What mathematical equation would be used to come up with who got what? You'd be surprised how much thought goes into this and how many people feel the need to give their two cents; figuratively, not literally. (And, um, I'm sorry, but the gym teacher was a cranky, pain in the ass who barely deserved a paycheck much less an end of year gift.) Apparently every person who has been blessed to be a part of your child's life....gets a token.

The end of year gift is presented to the lead teacher at the end of year party. And somewhere along the way some crazy, crafty mothers (with far too much time on their hands) (see, this is where I start offending people and losing readers....) decided that presenting a check or a gift card was tacky and simply not a grand enough gesture. So, they decided to give part of the money in the form of a gift card and skim some off of the top and buy an actual gift. So the teacher has something to open (because opening a card with a check in it is so awful?). The most clever of mothers come up with a theme. For example, a teacher might receive a beach bag with a beach towel and some sunscreen and some trashy summer reading.

Now, you might think that presenting a group gift would thus eliminate the need for tchotchies, but you'd be sadly mistaken. There are those who contribute to the class gift, but still feel the need to do a little something extra on their own. Because god forbid their kid doesn't stand out. Not to mention it's a great way for the mother to showcase her gift giving abilities. Which, I might add, is also on display during the Christmas gift giving season, teacher appreciation week, and of course the teacher's birthday. One gift per year is hardly enough.

But I've got an alternative to the end of year about instead of giving teachers a geranium or a scented candle or a t-shirt that reads, "If you can read this, thank a teacher" make an effort during the year.

How about if you make sure that your child's homework is done correctly and on time? How about if you teach him to take responsibility for his actions? How about if you keep your teaching ideas to yourself and let the teacher teach? How about if you send your child to school with an extra box of tissues during cold and flu season? How about if you get your child to bed on time so he isn't a cranky mess in the morning? How about if you send your child to school in clothes that meet the dress code? How about if you use the parent/teacher conference not as a way to tell the teacher how gifted your child is, but rather to listen to what the teacher has to say?

And last, but certainly not least, how about saying thank you once or twice during the year with your mouth instead of saying it at the end of the year with a tchotchkie?

The greatest gift you can give a teacher is a child who has learned good manners at home and comes to school ready to learn. That's all they want. Not a stinky bottle of cream that you picked up at Bath and Body Works.

And so ends my rant....

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Rock N' Roll Results

I could start by mentioning the record setting 64 million votes, or I could tell you how much I hated the School's Out for Summer performance. I could write something about Slash being too cool for school or I could tell you how much those freaking Ford ads bug me. I could reference Danny's self-deprecating critique (which I thought was adorable and endearing) or I can simply cut to the chase and comment on Paula...

Holy mother of pearl.

That was the cheesiest moment in Idol history. I didn't fast forward through the performance, but I had to keep looking away. Even now, hours later, I'm still embarrassed for her. Were we really supposed to believe that she was singing those electronic vocals? Here's what I wish her manager had said to her,
"Paula, honey, no, you cannot perform on the Idol stage. Outta the question. You've gotten old, doll, and that's ok, it's going to happen to all the Idols. You need to let this crazy ass dream of yours go. You are no longer a singer or a dancer or addicted to pain pills. You've got yourself a sweet gig at the judge's table where you are paid millions of dollars for incoherent banter. Don't ruin this for us, Paula, honey."
I can only imagine what Simon was thinking. And I can't really concentrate on the rest of the show after that performance, so I'll make it short and sweet:
  1. No Doubt: how many times has Gwen Stefani been on Idol? I swear it's every season? She could be the Idol House Band, for crying out loud. Love that she's hitting the road because she's sick of being a stay-at-home mother.
  2. Kris is safe! And shocked. I swear he's shaking.
  3. Daughtry, now this is the kind of rock that I prefer. But I think Chris needs a backup singer or two, no? (I hear Allison is available...)
  4. Adam is safe. No shocker there.
  5. And Allison is going home. She's a good sport and has a great attitude right up until the bitter end. I see big things happening for Allison.
So now it's the three boys going home to their hometown parades. I think it's going to be an Adam vs Kris showdown. (which reminds me of that ridiculous newspaper that Paula's backup dancer held up depicting a Paula/Simon showdown. I have to wrap this up right now...I can't go there again...)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Rock Week on Idol

I hated tonight's show. Worst all season. Maybe because I'm not a fan of hard rock. If I never hear another Guns N' Roses song for as long as I live, I'll be just fine. And while I don't doubt that Slash is a fabulous guitar player, his iconic status is lost on me. I think he's a freak.

Adam starts the night (and pretty much ends the night) with Zeplin's Whole Lotta Love. I know the guy is crazy talented and I know he can sing like nobody's business, but I hate the way he looks tonight and it completely turns me off. Yuck, I can barely look at him. Slash, on the other hand, loves every minute of him (although he does warn him to watch his screetching).
  • This is the Adam that Randy loves (you can have him, Randy).
  • Kara, dressed as a rocker babe, tells him he's a rock god.
  • "You're a whole lotta perfect" is Paula's clever reaction.
  • Mr. Cowell says the only problem is that nobody will be able to top it.
  • I think he looks like something out of a horror movie. And while he sounds great: a) I am not a fan of the genre and b) I'm scared out of my wits
Seems Allison paid a call on Adam's hair stylist this week. She's got new purple extensions and a bit more style. She looks good. After feedback from Slash, Allison choses Cry Baby by Janis Joplin.
  • Randy says that although she can sing her face off, he doesn't love the song choice. (Nice job there, Slash.)
  • I totally forget what Kara says, but I'm guessing it was overly dramatic and spectacular
  • Paula says that if they ever do a bio of Janis Joplin, Allison will get the part. (never happen.)
  • Simon thinks she's come a long way, baby. But...doesn't love the song choice. (Again, nice mentoring there, Slash. Great input.)
  • I'm just not that into Allison. End of story.
Duet time. Kris and Danny are the first pair to perform. And, I'm sorry, but who made these pairings? Did they flip a coin? Did they get to choose amongst themselves? No mention of how it was determined, but clearly we've got the two rockers together and the two non-rockers together. Hardly seems fair.

Kris and Danny seem a little out of sorts (rightly so.) They sing Renegade by Styx. Randy likes the harmonies, but isn't all over the individual performances. Kara says it's pitchy, but together they are united and strong. Paula says they are powerful and compelling. Ladies, these are ridiculous adjectives to use when describing a singing performance. Simon makes it short and sweet, "Danny was better than Kris." Ouch. I thought the whole thing was a mess.

Commercial break and we're back with Kris (who has made a wardrobe change) for his individual performance. Kris admits that he wants to pee in his pants when playing guitar with Slash. Meanwhile, Slash is clearly not a huge fan of Kris' as evidenced when he says, "He needs to pick it up for his performance."
  • Randy likes Kris' guitar playing and thinks he is true to himself, even though he is a bit out of his element. (a bit?)
  • For Kara, it is not a great performance.
  • Paula thinks it's risky to do a Beatle's song. Why? Because she can't think of anything else to say, that's why. And god forbid she say nothing.
  • Simon does not like it and describes it as "eating ice for lunch."
  • I think Kris is off tonight. He seems nervous. But I will add that he sings the song much better without Slash and his crazy-ass guitar. It's a shame that rock night has to come this late in the season. It might mean trouble for my boy.
Danny, the only contestant never to be in the Bottom 3, sings Dream On. Slash says Adam is vocally gifted, but his performance could go either way with that end note. Clearly, Slash only has eyes for Adam.
  • Randy tells him it's not his genre. Thanks, Einstein.
  • Kara says that Danny took the swagger comment too far. (I'm not sure who is bugging me more: Slash or Kara.)
  • Paula doesn't think it was the right song for Danny.
  • Simon thinks the last note sounded like a horror movie, but thinks he'll be safe tonight.
  • Laurie hopes that by dissing Kris, Simon actually rallies the troops to vote for him. As for Danny, I think he sounds ok (except for the last note), but as usual there is nothing original about Danny. Yes, he's got a great voice, but he doesn't have an ounce of originality.
Time for the second duet, Slow Ride, sung by Adam and Allison. Of course this is going to be fantastic and it is. There is no excuse for it NOT to be fantastic.
  • Randy says that the two seasoned rockers are da bomb.
  • Kara calls them a rock god and goddess.
  • Paula says they are a perfect marriage (does she know that they are on different teams?)
  • And Simon tells them they won the Battle of the Duets. And adds that Adam may help keep Allison alive for another week.
  • I agree with Simon; Allison is riding the coat tails of her rocker friend. He not only gave her a new hairstyle, he gave her some votes. I love how Allison throws herself into Adam's arms at the end of the performance.
I am glad when they cue the tape as it signifies that tonight is over. Let me reiterate...I hated this show. Roll the tape:
  1. Adam: is scary. Scary good, but scary nonetheless.
  2. Allison: still doesn't do it for me.
  3. Kris: still does it for me. But I fear he may be the one sent packing...
  4. Danny: whoa, that scream at the end was painful.
So who will go home tomorrow? I think it should be Allison. And I'll leave it at that.

How about Daughtry performing tomorrow evening? And did I hear Ryan say that Paula was going to take the stage? Where is her publicist? Who is advising her? I don't think this is a good idea. At all. As if she doesn't make a big enough ass of herself every week - must she add fuel to the fire?

Monday, May 4, 2009

Beer, Beer for Old Ramsey High!

In yesterday's post, I mentioned that I was a cheerleader in high school and, boy, did I receive a lot of emails from friends wondering why they didn't know that about me.

For the record, it's not a part of my past that I am trying to hide, but it certainly doesn't come up much in conversation...possibly because I was a cheerleader 30 some odd years ago and a lot has happened since then. One of my friends wanted to know if I'd ever let my 12 year old daughter become a cheerleader. What the? You people have no idea what it was like to be a cheerleader at RHS. I assure you, my friends and I were not the stereotypical mean girl, bubble head hotties that are often depicted in today's teenage movies. Far from it.

And to answer your question, yes, I would let my daughter try out for cheerleading...if she so desired. But, I can also assure you that she has no desire. (Not to mention the school she attends does not have cheerleaders.) I never played on the high school field hockey team or the basketball team, but somehow I managed to become a contributing member of society regardless of my stint as co-captain of the cheerleaders. Imagine that.

I also mentioned in yesterday's blog that instead of singing our school's fight song, our squad often sang Springsteen songs on the bus rides to and from football and basketball games. And just like the Springsteen songs, I still know every word to the cheers. And, I might add, I can still do the jumps and moves. Pretty impressive for a girl who has no memory and no sports team background, huh?

So, let's review the words to my alma mater's fight song, shall we? Keep in mind I was a sophmore in high school when I made the varsity cheering squad, so I was, what...15 years old when I was shouting these words (cue up the band)....

Beer, beer for old Ramsey High
You bring the scotch and I'll bring the rye
Send those freshman out for gin
And don't let a sober sophmore in....

We never stagger, we never fall
We sober up on wood alcohol
When we yell, we yell like hell
for the glory of Ramsey High!

What the? I realize that mine is a generation of helicopter parents who hover over our children's every move. I think parents today are far too involved in their children's lives. But I wonder if our parents had any idea what we were singing back then? And if so, did they really think that was an appropriate cheer for 15 years olds to sing? It wasn't only the cheerleaders doing the singing. The cheerleaders lead the way, but the entire school band played along while the fans in the stands joined in the fun. We had an entire community singing about underage drinking and getting crazy ass drunk at school and nobody seemed to think that was odd. Or inappropriate. Not a single student, parent, coach or school official ever raised an eyebrow. Hmm.

Fast forward a few years. Ok, 30 years. If the kids at my daughter's school were to sing that song today, I'm pretty sure they'd all be suspended. I'm sure some parents would hold the school accountable. Others would take it a step further and say that the school was promoting underage drinking. And cussing. And god knows what else. The cheerleaders would be branded a bunch of boozers. The school would bring in experts on teenage drinking. The coach would be fired. Everybody who partook would have to do 25 hours of community service not to mention be forced to seek professional counseling. Parents would scramble to have the incident removed from their child's permanent record. Rumors would circulate about the kids involved not getting accepted to college on account of their despicable behavior.

Luckily, that never happened back in my day, back before the helicopter parent got heavily involved and started blowing everything out of proportion. Back before parents decided what sports their children would play, what courses their children would take, and what their children's high school transcript would look like.

We all managed to graduate high school, go on to college and become happy, healthy, successful adults despite the fact that we spent three years singing about getting hammered and nobody seemed to notice. But like I said, my cheerleading squad seemed to prefer Springsteen songs over the school's fight song, so maybe that's why we turned out ok.

Man, those were the days.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Mr. Springsteen

You can take the girl out of Jersey, but you can't take the Jersey out of the girl. And the Jersey Girl in me will always love Bruce Springsteen.

I've lost count of the number of times that I've seen him in concert; at least two times at Madison Square Garden, several times at The Meadowlands (yes, I realize I'm dating myself) and last night marked the third time seeing him in North Carolina. That man can still rock a stadium and still make this old lady feel very much like a Jersey Girl.

While it's true that I love his music, I realized during last night's performance that I also love the memories that come with his music. I've mentioned on more than one occasion in this blog that I do not have a good memory. But there is something magical about a Springsteen song; somehow singing his lyrics and humming his melodies brings to life vivid memories that I would not normally be able to recall on my own. And as cheesy as it sounds, along with the memories come warm feelings and many smiles. And that's what I love about Bruce Springsteen.

Last night while he was singing "Growing Up" he brought me back to Darlington Avenue in Ramsey, New Jersey. The year was 1973 and my friend Elaine and I were in the third grade. We were in the attic of her old victorian house watching her teenage sister get ready to go out on a date. She was blasting Springsteen and singing every word while the three of us danced around like fools. That was the day I fell in love with Bruuuuuce.

Two years later I remember my sister, Susan, setting her alarm for midnight so that she could wake up and hear our local New York radio station, WPLJ, unveil the Born to Run album. I was too young to partake in the midnight madness, but she taped it for me on a cassette cartridge. Within two days we knew every lyric to every song on that album. And I can still hear my mother saying, "I wish you girls knew your school work like you knew those lyrics." I can't tell you what I learned in school that year, but I can still sing every word to every song on the Born to Run album. My mother is very impressed. Not.

And then there is the memory of my sister, Karen, waking me and my sisters up in the middle of the night to tell us that she had met Bruce Springsteen. She and her friend were in NYC that night and were stopped by tourists who asked if she would take their picture. When my sister looked through the camera she thought that one of the guys looked a lot like Bruce Springsteen. Sure enough, my sister was face to face with The Boss. I thought her head was going to pop off from sheer delight as she described following him into a building and calling out, "Mr. Springsteen...." Love that she used her best manners when addressing the legend. He chatted a bit with my sister and her friend and scored major brownie points with the Natale sisters. Till this day, my sisters and I refer to him as Mr. Springsteen.

I don't remember a lot about high school, but I remember singing Thunder Road. All the time. I suppose other cheerleading squads sang their school's fight songs while pulling into the opposing team's parking lot...but not our squad...we sang Bruce. At the top of our lungs. "It's a town full of losers, I'm pulling out of here to win...."

You'd think I might have outgrown it and him by the time I left for college in New England. But, as luck would have it, my BFF at Bentley also loved Bruce Springsteen. She grew up in a small town in Massachusetts, the type of town that Bruce would sing about, and we had a lot in common, not the least of which was our mutual adoration for all things Springsteen.

She was next to me last night singing and clapping and humming and dancing. My sister Karen was a few rows in front of us wondering if Bruce recognized her. I'm sure he did; she hasn't really changed much in 3o years and I doubt there have been that many encounters with crazy obsessed fans (hardly). Especially ones that call him Mr. Springsteen.

Ok, clearly I need to wrap this thing up before I break out into Glory Days....