Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Bomentum vs. Carrie Okie

Are you overcome by Bomentum? Carried away by the folksy Okie?

Not me. My impression of the season four American Idol showdown is more like Boring Carrie-okie. My idol is AWOL, so tonight I will be an interested but not invested spectator.

I hope the grand finale lives up to the hype. It will be a challenge to surpass the dramatic power of Bo Bice's a cappella performance last week unless that mothership of an overhead light comes back to beam him up. If Carrie Underwood begins to sense that she is a pawn in an elaborate scheme, maybe she will go all Sissy Spacek on Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson in a porcine bloodbath.

Now that would be an exciting show.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Well, I Never! Have You?

The Indigent Blogger piggybacked on an Ann Althouse post, which listed ten things she has never done. He began by crossing off the things he had done from her list, carried over the remainder to a new list of his own and added enough never-dones to total ten.

True to form, the Indigent Blogger’s list is as uncompromisingly honest and creative as are his blog posts, which you can and should find at Vagabondia. According to my site meter, I have two regular readers, excluding the Indigent Blogger. So, in the same forthright spirit, I challenge both of you to continue this thread and pass it on. Please note that I will skip the items on their lists that I have done, incorporate our common never-dones and add as many originals as space allows.

Ten Things Ann Althouse Has Never Done

1. Gone camping.

2. Eaten egg salad, devilled eggs, or cold hard-boiled eggs.

3. Gone skiing.

4. Set foot on any continent other than North America and Europe.

5. Shoplifted.

6. Watched a pornographic movie -- other than in federal court, as part of a forfeiture proceeding.

7. Called anyone "sir" or "ma'am."

8. Used a computer that wasn't a Macintosh (unless you count things like dedicated LEXIS consoles and ATM machines as computers).

9. Seen the movie "Apocalypse, Now." (It was always "Apocalypse," later, for me, and now maybe it's "Apocalypse," never. )

10. Used cocaine or heroin.

Ten Things the Indigent Blogger Has Never Done

1. Stepped foot on any continent other than North America.

2. Owned a new car.

3. Made a mortgage payment.

4. Had sex in a car.

5. Gone jogging (where I wasn't forced as part of a P.E. class).

6. Achieved a High School Diploma or GED.

7. Been to a professional basketball game.

8. Read the Chronicles of Narnia.

9. Visited the Grand Canyon (I've seen it from an airplane).

10. Had a professional massage.

Ten Things I Have Never Done

1. Gone skiing.

2. Set foot on any continent other than North America.

3. Used any illegal drugs, including cocaine and heroin.

4. Gone jogging (where I wasn't forced as part of a P.E. class).

5. Been to a professional basketball or football game.

6. Visited the Grand Canyon or any other National Park.

7. Had a professional massage, manicure or pedicure.

8. Put makeup on.

9. Gotten drunk.

10. Smoked any legal or illegal substances.

Item 8 was a source of concern to me before I went through chemotherapy two years ago. Losing my hair, which was waist-length for most of my adult life, turned out to be no big deal. But, as someone who never applied makeup and cannot draw a straight line with a ruler as my guide, the prospect of penciling in my eyebrows every day for more than six months was worrisome. Happily, although my brows got pretty thin, they did not disappear completely and my vain fears were in vain.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Did You Hear the One about Dennis Miller?

This Friday the 13th was an unlucky day for fans of funnyman Dennis Miller whose eponymous CNBC show aired for the final time. In an unscientific poll, 75% of my household ranked the Dennis Miller show the sharpest, funniest TV infotainment of the 21st century – and the other 25% is my deaf brother, who is still trying to vote for Anthony Fedorov on the erroneous phone number American Idol posted in closed captions.

According to news reports, Dennis was informed of the pending cancellation and headed for the emergency exit so fast he forgot to leave a forwarding address. I can relate. I was dumped only once – honestly – but my attitude was, “Hey, you don’t want to be with me? Your loss. Taxi!” This is southern California, where we drive our cars to the neighborhood fitness center and circle the parking lot to get a space closest to the entrance, so I made that last part up.

Coincidentally, Rita Cosby just left Fox News Channel over a contract dispute. Before he got the call from CNBC, Miller had a Friday gig on FNC’s Hannity and Colmes. Rita’s departure leaves two hours of weekend programming Roger Ailes needs to fill PDQ. For months I have been pimping for Fox to give my man Hugh Hewitt a new media forum as CNBC did for Miller. If not Hugh, then why not Dennis again? During its all-too-brief run, Dennis Miller the show featured most of my internet-friendly favorites as guests (see the margin on the left side of this screen).

Meanwhile, Comedy Central might be seeking a placeholder for the AWOL Dave Chappelle, whom 75% of my household ranked as the top comedian of 2004-2005, while the other 25% is still trying to decipher Dave's most frequently closed-captioned word, ni**er. Dennis is the only contemporary American comic with the wit, guts, honesty and political incorrectness to equal Chappelle. We wish Dave a complete recovery.

Which reminds me. Isn’t ABC considering a new show to replace Nightline? Too bad they already wasted the title Politically Incorrect on Bill Maher.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Three to Get Ready

On the morning of Wednesday, April 27, 2005, I posted a list of the top 6 signs during top 6 week that these are the end times for American Idol. Eerily enough, that night was apocalyptic for fans of Constantine Maroulis when he was summarily dismissed – maybe not Armageddon but a day that will live in reality TV infamy. You may have read my big, fat Greek hissy fit.

Immediately thereafter, we witnessed wars (on message boards) and rumors of war (boycott threats). Some fans compared Scott Savol to the Antichrist for laughing with wicked glee as their Bohemian angel was taken away too soon. The most common ultimatum warned the AI brain trust that, if they could not find a way to bring Constantine back from sudden death, there would be no rapture in Idol TV land.

Without Constantine, American Idol has gone from sizzle to fizzle. Just as Clay Aiken initially appeared too square, Constantine and Nadia Turner were way too hip for AI’s narrow top 40 format. While making a fairly conventional audience rethink their definition of a pop star, Constantine like Clay created his own unique market, which no substitute can satisfy. Losing one dazzling hipster, Nadia, was a blow. Losing Constantine left AI4 in dire need of hip replacement surgery with nary a donor to save the season from limping to a lame anticlimax.

The fortnight since Constantine exited the Idol stage has been the most challenging in the franchise’s history, but the news isn’t all bad. Last week Scott was eliminated and took with him the collective rancor of fan bases that blamed him for the premature departure of their favorite contestants. I appreciate Scott’s vocal talent, wish him well and regret that he became a scapegoat, but that kind of poisonous distraction we can all do without – especially the scandal weary.

American Idol has been the subject of eye-popping headlines every day for two weeks. What a relief it was to tune in Tuesday night and focus on the redeeming talent of four likable singers chasing their dream. Simon Cowell might consider niceness boring and syrupy, but it is a welcome respite for viewers, of whom many are families watching together. Perhaps Simon misses the Constantine buzz, too. As Joni Mitchell sang, "Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone."

I voted for Constantine that infamous evening two weeks ago, many times with few busy signals. After that exercise in futility, I amazed myself by wanting to vote again this week and most surprisingly for Anthony Fedorov, whom I dismissed earlier as a bland Aiken wannabe. I also phoned in dozens of votes for Vonzell Solomon. As I checked the volume of calls for the others, I was able to cast only one vote for Carrie Underwood, whose line was the busiest, and a few for Bo Bice, whose line was second busiest. Based on my experience, I predicted Anthony and Vonzell would receive the lowest vote totals.

Of the top 5 contestants, Anthony displayed the most consistency, versatility, growth, charm, poise and humor. And he’s barely 20! As often as he appeared in the bottom three, Anthony had to attract new votes each week to last this long. If he impressed little old skeptical me, I have to believe that someone astute in the recording industry also took notice. Paging David Foster.

Anthony seemed to thrive on the increasing intensity of the race even as Vonzell seemed to wilt. Baby V, a promising up-and-comer with a wondrous vocal range, lost her sweet, sunshiny smile after Dance Music Night. Now she looks like she’s suffering from a migraine, root canal and PMS all at once. I hope whatever ails her is fixable – and soon. Of the remaining three, she has exhibited the most appealing blend of singing and performing talent.

Since I came to accept his vocal limitations, I can simply relax and enjoy Bo’s performances. Some might consider him repetitive, but I call him faithful to his roots. He is just a mellow, floppy hatted, tie dyed throwback to the Woodstock era. As much as Fox loves to use cross-promotion, it’s a darn shame he arrived too late for That ‘70s Show. His musical tastes make him something of an anachronism for the current radio market, barring an unforeseen Gary Puckett and the Union Gap revival, but I will probably buy his first post-Idol album.

One of my Mother’s Day gifts was AI music, which my son thoughtfully transferred to one convenient CD. In the ensemble productions, Carrie’s is the most pleasing, dominant voice. She is obviously not comfortable as a stage performer, but her strengths really shine through on audio. In fact, she reminds me of Kelly Clarkson as both are dynamic, powerful and precise vocalists.

In less than two weeks, one of these three will be our new American Idol – maybe not mine, but certainly Simon Cowell’s or Randy Jackson’s. No matter who wins, I will be happy … to see Constantine again. Let the countdown begin!

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Blog the Vote: AI Final Four

Well, I voted again last night after American Idol.

Primarily I voted for Anthony Fedorov and Vonzell Solomon, but I threw a few votes Bo Bice’s way as I tried to gauge the busyness of the final four contestants’ phone lines. I only got through one time to vote for Carrie Underwood out of probably ten attempts. The ratio for Bo was probably 1:8 and 1:6 for Anthony and Vonzell.

This season I voted only once before – for Constantine Maroulis the week he was eliminated. Tellingly, I had little trouble phoning in votes for Constantine.

If my experience is any indication, Anthony and Vonzell may be in the bottom two tonight – and their other fans can blame me for jinxing them! [Editor’s note: Right, like you have that much influence in the cosmos.]

Friday, May 06, 2005

Pray for the Soul of Betty

Honesty compels me to warn fans of Constantine Maroulis that this post is not really about his band, Pray for the Soul of Betty. When I first heard about them, I wondered how they came to select such a name and if it holds any specific meaning. That puzzlement is probably one of the reasons the name appealed to band members. It helps to have a label that stands out amidst the noisy throng of musicians fighting for our attention. Pray for the Soul of Betty is a distinctive mouthful with an aftertaste of artsy angst. Plus, the name Betty by itself is retro-cool. Maybe someone will explain all when their CD is released this coming Tuesday.

In a completely different context, the phrase pray for the soul of Betty was infused with poignant meaning this week for one family and we who love them. Betty was the mother of a very dear, special friend. In a common twist for baby boomers of the in-between generation, my friend was frazzled by the demands in recent years of caring simultaneously for a daughter in bloom and a mother in decline, both stubbornly clinging to their independence. Betty always said she wanted to pass swiftly and in relative peace, and she did. She also said she never wanted to be placed in one of those assisted living facilities, but the unavoidable reality of her medical needs forced a heartrending decision, the kind that leaves a daughter feeling like a traitor to the mother who gave her life and who is too far gone to grant forgiveness.

Yesterday a mobile shrine traveled from church to burial site to the restaurant where we gathered to honor a life liberated from earthly suffering and to comfort the survivors haunted by guilt and grief. It is a long goodbye, I told my friend, which takes the rest of your life. I know she remembers, as she was my staunchest support after my mother died and tried to rescue me from the deep blue funk that I believe led directly to my breast cancer.

I reminded her that friends are the family you choose and in her sorrow she seemed to understand. As her self-appointed big sister, I will make sure she never forgets. As her grateful friend, I will pray for the soul of Betty and the healing of her family.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Top 5 Idol Predictions for Week 5

Here are my top 5 predictions for top 5 week about predictable behavior during tonight’s broadcast of American Idol:

5. Ryan Seacrest will carry on, carry on, as if nothing really mattered – just like every other week.

4. Paula Abdul will borrow Jackie Peterson’s oxygen tank, wear a full body cast, and still be crying "for Constantine Maroulis." Every time Paula is onscreen, there will be a legal disclaimer under her image stating that American Idol is not responsible for the words and actions of the judges.

3. After one of their favorites performs, Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson will cite the example of Constantine’s elimination to remind viewers to vote. Simon will wear an extra-tight t-shirt that reads: "Free Corey Clark."

2. Bo Bice will dedicate a song to his friend Constantine in a ploy to gain his votes. Ryan will ask him to clarify his drug-free status.

And the number one prediction about predictable behavior during tonight’s broadcast of American Idol:

1. Using reverse psychology, Simon will tell Scott Stavol that he is safe because America likes him. Elated, Scott will dedicate his final song to Paula and acknowledge her very special coaching the night before.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Idol Goes to Washington

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I have been wondering about these two for several weeks. Connie and Nadia, sitting in a tree . . . ?

Actually, this photograph was taken Saturday night, April 30, 2005, the evening of the annual White House Correspondents' Dinner, which was attended by American Idol crowd-pleaser Constantine Maroulis, AI's breathtaking beauty Nadia Turner, and funny man Trey Parker (not pictured) of South Park and Team America, to name my favorite luminaries.

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One of these things is not like the others. One of these things just doesn't belong.

Hmmm. Pat Robertson, Nadia Turner and Donald Rumsfeld. This does not look like your average Washington, D. C., accidental photo op. During the red carpet arrivals, Nadia told an interviewer that she is very interested in politics. So, does this mean she is a pro-defense Christian conservative? Or are Rummy and Robertson American Idol fans?

Big thanks to Theresa Kiihn for linking to these pictures.