Monday, January 26, 2009

"Snow" in Altadena this morning

Lots of little hail on the lawn this morning. Sort of like a snow scene. The citrus trees look okay, but it's still dark, so I won't know if the little yummy fruits froze off.

Worst part was I left the car out and the hail brought done pounds and pounds of pine needles onto the top of the hood. What a mess!

Got to work before 6am in downtown Pasadena and saw nothing. Looks like they escaped the extra chilly weather.

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Belated American Idol 2009-01-21 in Louisville

(Sorry about the late posting)

Louisvile this evening. So lots of horseplay apparently. They're going to have a ball with all the horse race stuff.

We're starting with a platinum bombshell named Tiffany Shed. She's singing Mariah and oh no. She's a platinum bomb period. Why does she think she can sing?

#16071 is next. 23yo Joanne Pacitti has dark hair and was previously on an album. She's doing Pat Benatar. Oh I like the voice. She has more oomph than I realized. Helps that she does a Benatar song I like.

A frighteningly scary guy named Mark Mudd who evidently was related to Dr Mudd of Lincoln's assassination fame. Oh my they think his bad singing is part of a joke. So sad!

A very attractive Brent Smith has a great country sound singing "Can't Get Enough". Wow, listen to the judges fight but for what reason? They all let him go through.

Now comes the part I dislike (as if you haven't noticed). They string along a queue of really bad bad bad bad bad bad singers.

#13758 from Kalamazoo (Matt Giraud) is a dueling pianist? He's got an odd mountain voice but is right on pitch. Interesting, they'll let him through. Not sure how far he'll go.

No we get Ross Plavic who spends his time categorizing chinese characters. He studied Youtube opera greats for this audition. He's sing "Cara Mia" and I am unsure he knows how this contest works. Oh what a train wreck. He now sings "Love Me Tender". And sorry but he can at least focus on his studies.

A mother whose hubbie is in military school at the moment now sings. Alexis Grace has a very bright pink shirt, as does her baby. She sings Aretha (but without the hat), and she's got a huge on pitch sound. Nice, she'll go.

Ok, now some more bad singers.

Now we have a very excitable Aaron Williamson. He yells out Clearance. He belts it out. Sometimes singing involves a yell, but rarely does yelling involve singing. Sorry Aaron.

Someone named Rebecca Garcia was on the morning news so they bring it up. Oh does she not know she's bad? Oh they thought it was a joke performance! Oh how sad!

There are four people who go forward: Kris Allen, Felicia Barton, Ryan Johnson, and Shera Lawrence. Dang, why don't we get to hear any of these?

Oh it's sob story time. A young person who grew up in and out of homelessness. Lenesha Young will oops sing an original number, but she's a sob story so we know she'll go through. Ooh I like the song and her voice. She's very entertaining.

So that's it! Til next week!

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

I love the hat

So many articles about the hat Aretha wore during Barack Obama's inauguration. One blogger wrote that it had crystals and mentioned that some folks thought it distracting from the President.

Uhh, are they crazy? I'm with the blogger. She looked fabulous and wanted to be dolled up for the President. Who wouldn't want to look their best for the new President? She wore what she instinctively knew was styling. And for Pete's sake, she's the Queen of Soul! Queens wear tiaras made of diamonds (not crystals) and don't need to justify why.

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Coming down off the mountain

It's raining in Pasadena today. Not our typical Southern California deluge. Just a chance to wet down the sidewalks, germinate some seeds, mess up the dust on my car.

And, unlike what I've been doing almost every day for the past two weeks, I won't be taking advantage of the spectacular weather to go on a stroll up the local mountains. It's really easy for me to take short hike, because one trail head is across the street from my home and other trail heads are less than a mile away. So, I've gone up to Echo, down into Rubio, explored hills post-2007 fire, and other fun little adventures.

Oooh, and the views are amazing. One Sunday, I could actually see lines and shadows on Catalina Island from my street. Now mind you, Catalina Island is 40 miles away. And a couple days ago, from atop the Cobb estate on Lake Street, it dawned on me that I was looking at Santa Barbara Island (a little spit of land about the size of Eagle Rock) or perhaps San Nicholas island, way past Santa Monica. I often forget they're even out there, much less see them on these strolls.

Now that's a view.

So why the bummed out mood? Well, the rain dampens the spirits and the hiking some. But also, reality hit after Tuesday's inauguration. There really are a basketful of challenges to be faced. Business is tough, and I'm trying to figure out how to avoid lay-offs. We have two wars, with friends serving overseas in frightful places. And the nation and the states have Kafka-esque budget nightmares tainting everything.

I'd love to bask and revel, as we did the other day. Watching Obama take his place as the most powerful person on the planet did move me. He is the living embodiment of not just African Americans empowerment but of the extent of today's diversity. His family has chinese, canadian, hawaiian, indonesian, african, irish and other interesting mixtures. He's got a rabbi, Muslims, and Christians in his family. Obama's brother in law is a Pac-10 (Oregon State) basketball coach - how "in the times" is that? He went to Oxy, depends on the internet and cell phones, and plays basketball daily. Dang, he really can be a cousin in my family. It's a reason to rejoice.

But it's tough to make a living while hanging out on these mountain tops. It takes hard work to climb up there and you still have mouths to feed. So, despite the glorious views, the gentle breezes and the bountiful joy, there are times when we have to come down and get to work.

So rain on, Southern California. Instead of being bummed, I just need to remember that with the rain and the gloom comes an opportunity for growth, rebirth, nourishment. We can germinate a tiny seedling that may one day be an astonishing tree from which we can seek shelter and shade. And not just for me, but for all who come after me. Bless us all with the water from the skies.

And I will let the optimist in me reign on.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

American Idol Season 8 in San Francisco (2008-01-20)

I cannot believe I'm going to be watching American Idol tonight. Not after we saw what today in Washington DC, where the "real American Idol" was inaugurated.

But we do what we must do.

OMG the auditions are at the Parc 55 in San Francisco tonight. I've spent maybe 80 nights there in the past 3 years. Ugh, I certainly know that place only too well. How on earth did they keep the clanging of the cable cars from overwhelming the auditions?

Tatiana del Coro is from Puerto Rico and had a heck of a dress. Alot of vibrato and jazzy but too "cabaret" and a creepy laugh.

Scary freek redhead named Nick. And Jiayu is a scary offtune asian gal.

Then Dean Bradford (oh no from Pasadena) looks like a nightmare and sings from Simply Red. He's intense and loud, that's for sure. He's surprised he's not going through?

Jesus Valenzuela is a Dad with a few kids. Interesting, he's singing a boy band number. I like it. Simon's in a grumpy mood and said "no" to the kids. Oh wow, Gabriel (small kid) hugs Simon. Ewww.

Dalton does Rubik's cube. Does that mean he can sing? "Oh Baby Baby" was whimpered out. Poor guy.

James Smith has a beret and points. Oh, someone point him out the door. It's so bad.

Akilah shows up with some biology stuff. She's going to be singing some gospel. Trachea? Why isn't she singing gospel then? The song wasn't very good at highlighting her voice. Oh dear, off key. Oh stop the fighting.

String of singers who made it through but we didn't really get to hear them.

Now, Annie Murdoch. Sings Summertime and then got stabbed in the side.

Adam Lambert used to do musical theater when he was younger. Sings Bohemian Rhapsody with a really nice sound. Simon thinks he's theatrical.

Kai Kalama is a musician who takes care of his mom. One note shaded poor but a nice sound to his voice. Rather old fashioned crooner. Good he goes through.

So, that's it. We're off to Louisville tomorrow night. And, we can return to watching the Inaugural Balls...

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

American Idol @ Kansas City (Wed Jan 14 2009)

Alright - getting ready for tonight's show and it's on Cookie monster's home turf. You figure if Kansas City can churn out a pleasing pop-rocker like David Cook, maybe there will be other Midwest farmboys and farmgirls looking to make it big.

Oy Jason Castro's brother is here. Not a good sign.

Chelsea Marquardt seemed like a nice person, but umm, it was a disaster. Simon unfortunately is again correct: "Sounds like cats falling off the Empire State building, before it hit the floor." Hope she doesn't cry.

Ashley Anderson had a nice sound if slightly off pitch at one point. Oh she's going through.

Casey Carlson seemed to have a pretty voice and has a nice personality. She'll go through. Yup. See you in Hollywood Casey.

Brian Hettler is a big boy and was an opera student. Oy that was awful. What was he thinking, singing Aretha? Good heavens.

Now on to a trail of tears, all to Mozart's Requiem. Such drama!

A series of "original takes". A tall skinny dude sounded like a dying weasel unfortunately. Some guy named Billy Vinson was a large guy with a tiny voice. Chris Jones sang a song from Phantom and it was definitely music of the night. Deandre Hopkins sang an unholy song.

Vaughan Smith looked like the guy in High School Musical, what with his hat. He sang Somewhere Over the Rainbow. He has a strong voice, despite his crap start (maybe from a cold), and I am surprised. Doubt he'll make it, but I think he deserves a chance. He'd be cut right away I suspect if he goes through. He's in. Well, pack up Toto and come on over to Hollywood.

Oh no. Not another Castro. Hmm he's actually not bad. I like it. Good sound and mostly on pitch. Thank goodness he didn't bring a ukelele. Oh he's going through. I underestimated his older brother. Maybe this one will survive too.

He's wearing a yellow and orange suit. Vaughn English is another joke. Man I thought we were going to get real people this year!

Matt Breitzke is like the oil rig guy. All butch and not looking like a singer. Oh a nice bluesy voice. Wouldn't have expected this sound from him. Only a couple odd notes. I like him. Randy said no, but everyone else likes him. Cool.

Jasmine Joseph is unfortunately oblivious to her inadequate singing, as she sang it. Huh? No comments? Odd. It was perfect to diss this audition.

Now we get guitar-playing girl, Jessica with a deaf grannie. How fun! Singing Joplin. 19yo. She has a nice big voice with good control. She's going.

Asia and India are rapping sisters. Big girl Asia isn't that good. Ok she's bad. India is second. She's pitchy but has a nice sound. Not really going to go though. Oh my, they're sending India! Interesting.

Jamar Rogers sings “California Dreamin'” like Mama Cass on a loudspeaker. Screaming. Too bad cuz he has a nice voice and over the top. Interesting, he's going too.

Danny Gokey is a music teacher whose wife died. I hate sob stories. Oh. Great voice and a nice falsetto singing "Heard it through the grapevine". A real smokey voice that's for real. Nice, he's going.

Oh no, the stream of bad singers. Sad sad. Crazy wide-eyed blond. Crazy wide-eyed red-head. Crazy wide-stanced and wide-gapped singer.

An Indian guy Anoop Desai is a Masters student. Of course. He sings Boyz 2 Men. Oh nice soul voice. Surprised. Geeky guys like me CAN sing... :) haha, "Anoop dawg"

Montage of scary "Signed Sealed Delivered" and heavens this is not good.

Oh no. Two cheerleaders introduce the next guy. Andrew Lang. Oy. Sort of a cute twink but he's overacting. Not a great sound quality, but theatrical. It would be better if he could settle on a pitch. Cute but not for me. Oh he sings again. They said he's theatrical, too. Oh he won't go. Well that wasn't a surprise I guess. Oh so many people like him. Aww now I'm sad.

A middle school band director is next. Asa Barnes. He's doing Michael J? Not a wise choise to me, but hmm good voice. Despite the rough start, and as long as he doesn't go up to falsetto, it's not bad.

Michael Nicewonder needs a makeover. Hank Williams Jr is related to this guy? Oh no an original song. Not a good sign. Oh no. Oh no. Oh no. Oh no. Oh no. Oh no. Oh wait. Oh no. Oh no.

Now some guy Dennis dreams about Simon. Does a Brown song. Um, he's a dancing wide-eyed nutcase. I think he has a voice that could work without his look but it's hard to see him doing well. What? He's through? Interesting.

A sleeping Mia Conley thinks she's singing. Oh no she sang that note. Oh no.

Tornado victim Lil Rounds sings Stevie W. Oh, nice control and tone. They like her alot it seems.

That's it. I guess the farmboys and farmgirls weren't really in attendance. Mostly got urban types. Oh well, so much for perceptions on what the Midwest is all about.

So next week we go to where, Louisville? Looking forward to the Hollywood rounds, to be honest, because these bad singers that so many people like to watch, are, well, ummm, bad. Let's get to the meatier singers and go from there.

Til next week...

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

American Idol @ Phoenix (Season 8 premier Tue Jan 13 2009)

It's that time of year again. When we see some truly awful singers get on stage with some lucky and talented "ordinary" person from somewhere out there. I don't particularly enjoy listening or watching the bad ones. I know that's what many people really enjoy about this part of the season.

But it's fun watching the cattle call, where thousands stream through auditions, and somehow upon the tryout, we the audience can somehow tell that this person, this singer has something special in their voice, in their personae. Last year, for example, I distinctly recall saying "Hey did you hear that kid from San Diego last night? He had an amazing adult voice in such a small body". It turned out to be David Archuleta. And at another point of last season, I said, "Well I'm not crazy about that mass murderer looking red-dyed hair but he has a really good rocker sound to his voice." That was David Cook. Within weeks we saw them gather many eager fans.

So we start in Phoenix. Gorgeous views of the Grand Canyon in the winter.

And the first singer is a fro'd out Vietnamese guy Tuan Nguyen. Nice sound, too stagy and went off-key.

Emily Wynne-Hughes sang Barracuda. Nice sound. On key. Odd hair. Not very loyal, but hope she goes through. Should make it into semi finals.

Randy Madden from Moorpark is a "rocker". Looks sort of like k.d.lang but is a guy. Nice sound (singing Bon Jovi) but doesn't match his image. Not a solo singer guy.

JB Ahfua has a nice voice but to me is sometimes pitchy. Wow, they let him through.

Now they bring on a guy that they are teasing. Michael Gurr is ... ummm... not really singing is he? Hmm.... Is he constipated? Is he Golom?

Will Kunick must be trying sound bad on purpose.

DJ Bradley does Celine like he's mad at someone.

Hmm missed the woman's name but she's crazy offkey.

Now we have a wildman Aundre Caraway singing and clapping and dancing. Not a good stretch in the show. Why is he surprised that they don't want him?

Arrianna Asfar started some organization and is a kid. Oh, she has a sweet voice. Not sure how she'd survive but she'll get some youth votes.

Now we get to day 2. Elijah Scarlett sings some weirdly low song. It's appallingly bad. Does he have a cold?

Another kid. Pinky. Lisa Marie. Hmm She's annoying. Hope she doesn't go through. She think she's Madonna. Hmm. Not a good sign for her then. Not a good sound to me but on key.

Stevie Wright is in a cow outfit. Hmm. Bad blouse from Phelan Cal. Singing "At Last" Ooo nice lounge sound. Love that sound. She's 16?

Jeremy Sarver works in oil. Real beefy butch guy from Jasper TX with 2 kids. Cleans up well and seems like a pleasant guy. I like the sound of his voice! Wow, does not match his job and background. Hope they like him. Yay.

Ouch. Bad singing stretch. Bad guy. Bad girl. Screaming blond guy #28207.

Bikini girl. They've been pushing her all episode as a way to keep us tuned in. Katrina Darrell from Chino Hills CA. She has a lotta cajones for dressing like that. Nice sound if bland and one bad note. Cannot believe the sexism here. Is it battle of sexes for real or fake? Ooh, she dissed a judge...

Sexual Chocolate? Eric Thomas is 18 and doesn't sound that good.

From Tempe, Brianna Quijada has reasonable voice control. In pitch for the most part, but the voice is not that bad. Ugh don't do that weird voice groaning stuff. Are they letter her through on her personality? Interesting.

Deanna Brown. Another smoky voice. Southern. Hope she goes through. Not sure how far she'll go. She's going through. Cool.

Oh my. Some emo 17yo is next. Cody Shell. Odd family to boot. Oh dear, he's into horror movies. He's singing "Wonderful World". Oh, he has a nice voice! No pitch problems and a clear boy band sound. Good control and everything.

Alex Wenger-Troutman is scary geeky. Cute in a scary way from Studio City. Well, that's a surprise. He has a nice sound. He looks very awkward but has a good sound and is in pitch. Randy's singing didn't throw him off. I see him going well.

Ugh more bad singers in a row. Yikes.

Lastly Scott McIntyre, the blind musician. Great voice! Lovely control, nice sound and a good falsetto. Yay he's through.

Phew... Long show, huh? 27 people got through. Not bad for Phoenix

On to the next show!

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Monday, January 12, 2009

American Idol starts this week!


Decided on keeping my blogs online so that people don't get flogged with a flurry of emails. Feel free to post your comments

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