American Idol Results Show Top Seven Wednesday, April 15, 2009 Season 8

Find my latest American Idol article here.

The group song tonight was Maniac, and it was obvious that they were lip-synching again.  It even sounded like they had enhanced the sound by adding extra vocal tracks.  With the justification that the Idol producers have used for this so far, I wonder if they will keep doing it when they go on tour.  It’s the same thing.

I try to ignore all of the product placement and cross-promotion on the show, but they waste an incredible amount of my time doing it.

Jennifer Hudson was the first musical guest this evening.  Compared with some of the other tripe they have been rolling out on the Idol stage in recent weeks, she was great.  It was not my favorite style of music, but I would not turn it off if it was playing on the radio.  I cannot say as much for Lady Gaga or Flo Rida.

Miley Cyrus was the next musical guest.  It started better than any of the non-idol related guests that they have had in weeks.  It sounded very country which was good, but she had some big diction issues and sounded pretty nasally on the chorus.  I will take this over most of the other guests that they have foisted on us lately.

I was surprised to see that Allison was not in the bottom three, not because she did badly, but because her song was a little boring, and there were so many other contestants that did well last night.  I was even more surprised to see Anoop in the bottom three.  He was very good last night.  No one was surprised to see Lil in the bottom three.  Finally, I was expecting Matt to be in the bottom three, but at this point it was just a numbers thing.  Anoop got to sit down first, as it should have been.  I was surprised and saddened to see Lil stay and see Matt told that he had the least votes.

However, I did not think that they should have used the save on him.  The save, as I understand it was intended to right a wrong, and save a contestant that had a chance of winning the competition.  Matt was not this.  Simon said so, but the hens (Paula and Kara) were cackling and soon it was clear that they would be using the save.

I told a friend earlier this week that I believed that judges would use their save no matter what happened just because they had one regardless of the viewer’s vote even if the contestants were voted off the show in the order that they should have been.  Nothing good will come of this, mark my words.  Now there is almost a thirty percent chance that one of the really good contestants will go home next week, and next week is disco week.  Pathetic.

American Idol Top 7 Tuesday, April 14, 2009, Season 8

Find my latest American Idol article here.

We were told at the beginning, after Ryan had wasted four minutes babbling, that there would only be two judges commenting after each performance.  I don’t like this idea at all, because it means that Simon will not be heard half the time.  Simon correctly identified the girls as the problem (fire one or both, no problem), but they quickly wasted even more time with a three minutes on a Quinten Tarantino montage.  Even stranger was the fact that Tarantino was the guest judge.  What does he know about it?  Of course, the theme was movie themes.

Allison Iraheta, “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing”– This was not her best by a long shot.  It was breathy, and affected, as usual.  Mainly, it seemed flat and fairly underwhelming, while at the same time coming across as indulgent and unforgettable.  This could be a bad combination with her leading off the show.

Paula and Simon complimented her.

Anoop Desai, “Every Thing I Do, I Do It For You”– He sounded great at the beginning, and carried that through to the first chorus.  When he held out the big notes, they still had strong, pure, even tones that sounded just great.  It was his best in a couple of weeks.

Randy and Kara loved it also.

Adam Lambert, “Born to be Wild”– Why are we even continuing with this farce of a competition?  It was not my favorite vocal by him, but it was still an amazing performance.  It always seems like a concert when he’s on stage.  I can see why someone would not like it, but it was still incredible.  I think he is the best performer that they have ever had on the show.  Period.

Paula said he was one of the bravest contestants that they have ever had.  Simon liked the vocal but did not like the performance as much.

Matt Giraud, “To Really Love Woman”– I thought this song would be good for him, and it was.  It was not as pretty as Brian Adams’ version, but that is not Matt’s style.  It got out of pitch one time, but for the most part it was very good.

Randy and Kara did not like it as much as I did.  They insightfully pointed out that when you change the melody of a great song, and add runs, they have to be perfect, and they were not.

Danny Gokey, “Endless Love”– I thought this would be a hard song for one person to sing.  It got very good at the chorus.  It was his best vocal in a couple of weeks.  It built, and got prettier as it went along.  Very nice.

Simon oddly criticized him for singing it well, and singing it traditionally.  Paula loved it.

Kris Allen, “Falling Slowly”– I did not know this song, but it sounded great at the beginning.  The harmony was the best that I have heard from the background singers this season.  This vocal was simply beautiful.  This tone of his voice was amazing, and the emotion was great.

Randy was a complete idiot.  He needs to take that tin ear of his back to the place where he got it.  Kara rightly loved it.

Lil Rounds, “The Rose”– This is an easy vocal.  I know because I can sing it.  That is usually how I determine the difficulty of anything on Idol.  The beginning seemed disjointed.  It was another one of those songs that need tell a story, the way she cut it up was weird.  Otherwise it was pitchy and a mess.

Paula was nonsensical.  Simon hated the song choice.

It is time for Lil to go.

Hopping on the Bandwagon

The day after the election, I went to a local fabric store with my wife.  While she was browsing, and I was futilely looking for something to catch my interest, I looked up and saw four full bolts of Barrack Obama fleece that I assume people were supposed to make blankets with.  I was confused and appalled.  Since that time, I have felt like I was being bombarded with Obama products.  The latest Obamination being the Obama Chia Pet.

So, in a effort to add my own instrument to the cacophony, I decided the time had come to bring together America’s new savior and the Savior of men.  Enjoy.

imga0262

Good News, the Navy Acted and the Captain is Safe Finally. So where do we go from here?

Well, it was a happy ending.  The good captain of the Maersk Alabama is safe, and three of the Pirates are dead.  We will only have to foot the bill to imprison one of them.  Yeah!  Thanks to the Navy.

I was reading one report that explained that the Navy had approached the President three times during negotiations, and had received permission to take necessary actions.  This is where I have the problem.  It is not appropriate to manage these types of situations from a desk thousands of miles away.  Obama should have ceded control of the situation to the commander on the scene from the beginning of the situation giving him authority to take any necessary action to save the life of the captain.

Having to repeatedly ask Washington for permission to act put the captain’s life in further jeopardy.  As I said in my earlier post, this was why the Navy was not in a position to end the situation when the Captain jumped into the water the first time.

The captain had done exactly what a hostage should do in a situation like this.  He had separated himself from his captors giving the Navy the perfect opportunity to end the situation.  However, not having permission to do so, the Navy sat back and allowed him to be captured again.  He was really lucky the pirates did not shoot him in the water.

So, a couple of days later, after finally receiving permission to take punitive action, and when it appeared the captain’s life way in danger, the Navy resolved the situation, in a way that it could have been done earlier.

Now, the press will focus on the fact that these ‘boys’ who were killed and the one that was captured were only 16 years old.  The press will play this up regardless of the fact that this is a country where boys are forced to grow up earlier.  Often they are carrying AK-47s by the time they are 10 years old, and the life expectancy in Somalia is 48.

The prates are now threatening to kill any Americans that are captured in the future.  The truth is they will probably leave any ship flying a U.S. flag alone because it has been shown to be very unprofitable to attack them, and profit is what this is all about.

The other part of the solution, is for the Navy and Marines to take a couple of months, and destroy as many of these pirates and their bases of operation as possible.  We know where they are, they have to be where their boats are, and without the boats, they are no longer pirates.  After destroying their infrastructure, it will simply be a matter of assigning a couple of ships and their compliment of helicopters and support craft to patrol the area and a few armed Predators to make sure we know which boats are in the area and what they are doing.

Failure to Act

Off the horn of Africa, a drama has taken place which I am afraid will turn out to be an example of what Americans will learn to expect from the Obama administration.  Last night Captain Richard Phillips of the Maersk cargo ship Alabama (the ship that had been taken by pirates only to be freed after he heroically offered to accompany the pirates as a hostage) leapt from the boat in a bid to save himself

It is important to note, that these pirates and their hostage are currently in a lifeboat with their hostage.  It is out of fuel, and simply floating in the Indian Ocean.  So, what happened when the captain tried to escape in the night by attempting to swim to a U.S. Navy destroyer?  The pirates caught him and brought him back on board.  The U.S. Navy reported that it happened so quickly they could not provide assistance.

Translation: The Navy was not ready and in position to act when they had the opportunity to save the captain, they did not have the authorization to use deadly force against the pirates if they had been in position to do so.

I talked to a friend about this yesterday.  I told him that I believed that these pirates would eventually surrender, and that for the first time in history, we would do nothing to them, and they would eventually be released.  Historically, piracy has been one of the most punitively punished crimes in the world.  In fact, the first time the U.S. fought a war abroad, it involved piracy and the attempt to end it in the Mediterranean Sea.  Pirates are hung, shot, downed and keel-hauled (the Alabama has a big-assed keel), and rightfully so.

When this happened to a U.S. ship, Navy Seals should have been immediately provided to the destroyer overseeing the situation.  They should have been deployed in the small support boats from the destroyer to surround and curtail the movements of the pirates, and given the right to use deadly force.  Once it was realized that the pirates were adrift in a boat with a hostage, it should have only been a matter of time.

After the pirate boat was surrounded, the seals with appropriate Barrett M107 .50 Caliber sniper rifles should have simply waited until they all had a shot that did not include Captain Phillips.  This would definitely include any time he was not on the boat, especially an escape attempt in which he was in the water and swimming.  In fact, that may have been a good time to employ a weapon that involved an area of effect (one that goes ‘Boom!’) on the pirate boat.

My point is, I suspect that the Navy did not act because it was not prepared to do so.  The only reason that makes any sense to me is that they had not received the authorization to use deadly force at that time.  This would be the same authorization that would be expected to be given to any local police force in the U.S. in a similar hostage situation.

This inaction, and the attitude that kept the Navy from being able to do what was right and necessary at the time will be a hallmark of our foreign policy for the next four to eight years.

My thoughts and prayers are with the captain and his family.  I just hope action is taken to save his life soon.

American Idol Top 8 Results Show, Season 8, Wednesday April 8, 2009

Find my latest American Idol article here.

For some reason the judges did not seem to know that Frankie Avalon was going to be on the show tonight.  Right.  Unfortunately, he had old, tired voice.

I think the group song might have been live again tonight because it was the musical train wreck that we have come to expect from the show.  I hope that was not the best recorded version of that song that they could produce.

Then we were abused by the musical stylings of Flo Rida.  For a show where the judges are so in tune with the types of songs that its audience wants to hear, I find it hard to believe that they do not know better than to force the same musical abominations on their audience every week.  I am completely sure that they do this on purpose and knowingly at the expense of their audience.  I am not sure, however, why they do it.  Either these groups and their labels are paying Fox an ungodly amount of money for this service and exposure, or these groups must be from labels that Fox has some monetary stake in.  No other explanation makes sense, because I am sure Idol could have its pick of legitimate artists.

Kelly Pickler was on the show tonight.  I guess the show blew its wad having Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood and Davis Cook in the last few weeks.  Her voice was whiny and screechy in a way that affected your back for most of the song.  She was off pitch, and when the verses went down the song got too low for her.  It was a mess.  I don’t think I will be wasting any money on tickets to one of her shows anytime soon.

When it came time to kick someone off, Ryan’s feeble attempts to be clever and add suspense to the show were more clumsy than ever.  I was surprised to see that Anoop was in the bottom three, but I guess he didn’t really do anything to stand out from the pack.  It was no surprise to see Scott join them. Then Lil joined the other two, and I wasn’t surprised. 

I was surprised (and disappointed) to hear the judges say that they would use their save on one of these contestants.  I assume they are talking about Lil, but it is time for them to drop their agenda.  She is just not that good of a singer, and it is time for her to go in the next couple of weeks.

Of course, she got to sit down as soon as Pickler sang.  Scott was off the show, and the world was right.  There was no judges save for Scott, though they threatened it.

National Work Zone Awareness Week

As much as I despise him, I’ve decided to go a little Andy Rooney with my post today.

As I was driving into work today, I looked up to see a message flashing on one of the permanent traffic information boards that are spaced about every five miles apart on my drive through Fort Worth on my way to work. 

Sometime these signs contain useful or even important information.  They will let me know a few days ahead when there will be scheduled road repair or if a NASCAR race will be affecting traffic that week.  Often there are Amber Alert messages regarding missing children or elderly.  When I see these messages, I make a mental note of their content in case I actually see the car that is wanted or matches the description.  This seems like a great use of technology to me.  Sometimes there is an accident ahead that is significant enough to warrant a warning on the signs.  Those days I take an alternate route.

However, there are also the days when someone is put in charge of the sign who feels like things need to be tricked-up a little.  I have grown used to the “Buckle Up” admonition, and the polite desire that I “Have a Nice Day,” but every now and then some joker feels the need to say something different.  These messages sometimes encourage me to pay attention to road workers even if there is no road work to pay attention to.  In other cases, I have been encouraged to vote.

The only real affect that I have noticed from innocuous messages such as these, is that they affect the flow of traffic as people feel like they have to slow down to read them.  It seems to me that when signs are used in this manner that they defeat the purpose of having the sign in the first place.  I have even seen accidents shortly before getting to the signs that were probably caused by people breaking to read the signs while other people trying to read the signs hit them in the rear.

This morning as I drove to work, I was greeted with a message informing me that it is Work Zone Awareness Week.  I looked this up in the internet, and not only is it Work Zone Awareness Week, it is National Work Zone Awareness Week.  This struck me as a little odd.  Of course, there were no work zones on my twenty mile trip to work for me to be aware of, but that was not all.  I suddenly thought, “Pretty soon we are going to have a week for everything.”  But, there are only 52 weeks in a year.  So, is ‘Work Zone Awareness’ in the top 52 things that I need to be worried about.  I find that hard to believe.

So, I assume there must be some serious overlap here.  Every week must have multiple causes that are competing to make sure that I am aware of them.  In the cacophony of causes something is lost.  I am just not able to care that much about all of this stuff, and  regardless of that, I always try to be safe when I am driving down the road anyway. 

So what is the real purposed of National Work Zone Awareness Week?  I can only assume it is three fold.  1) To give the folks that sit at a desk in a boring job at the highway department something to do.  2) To provide revenues to advertising agencies that have won lucrative government contracts to promote these types of things. 3) To assure that my drive home from work takes a little longer as people slow down to read the ‘very important’ message that has been provided for our edification.