Tuesday, January 30, 2007
American Idol: The South Will Rise Again Edition
American Idol hits Alabama—with makes Andy all jealous. With his unique musical skills, it’s a sure bet that he missed his shot at fame by not being at the audition (along with the 11,000 actual contestants).
As for me, all the southern accents just made me all giddy. For some reason.
In the beginning: Erica Sky sucks. I mean, seriously, hubba hubba, but damn…
Somebody should have warned her. Repeatedly. With a big, pointy stick if necessary. Because Erica Sky sucks.
And then, who the hell let the four year old in the room? Katie Bernard has one of the strangest, smallest speaking voices I’ve ever heard. She apparently sidestepped puberty on the way to the audition. Her singing, while better, was hardly a treat. If I had a choice, I would have been practicing my “no” voice.
Seems nice enough, though.
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
American Idol, The New York is Sort of Creepy Edition
It’s good that American Idol starts with Ian “The Dancing Queen” Benardo tonight. It restores faith in the value of mocking those desperately in need.
With his idiotically inflated sense of self, rudeness, and stupendous lack of talent, Benardo must be somebody’s idea of a joke. Honestly, he is why I like the mean parts of the show at times: this oddly xenophobic young man really needed the kind of verbal slap that only someone like Simon can provide.
On the other hand, Sarah Burgess needs therapy more than she needs a ticket to Hollywood. Her “daddy doesn’t love me” issues and speed dial tears far outweigh her marginal talent. Which doesn’t make her post audition tears endearing or heartwarming; it makes her more of an object of worried sympathy. Like many of the contestants, she could probably use a few years of growing up before she tries to launch a singing career.
Aside: Maybe Greek singing and dancing competitions are so different from their American competitions that cultural exchange isn’t possible. At least, that’s the polite view of a certain audition this evening…
Which, bad Greek entertainment is a poor way to lead into Ashanti’s desperation play for a trip to Hollywood. Her impressive, melodramatic monolog was certainly long, but just as certainly ineffective. How often do contestants shoot their last shred of dignity away with that kind of a begging performance? Admittedly, most aren’t as earnest or as long-winded, but the belief still seems to be that you can beg your way to Hollywood.
Darling girlfriend notes that the final look that Ashanti gave as she left the room made it seem as if the woman had just broken up with Simon. Which is either funny or disturbing, depending on your point of view.
Read the rest at iHatePaula.com. Or don’t if you really hate the American Idol stuff.
I’ll Admit It… (Updated Continually for My Pleasure)
I love being quoted. It makes me feel all special inside.
Kind of like a beautiful ray of sunshine.
None of which explains why someone doesn’t slap Hu Jintao for being such a blatant ass. If I had his email address, I’d give him something to “purify.”
For that matter, why doesn’t someone slap the hell out of the racist bastards commenting on this story. How the hell does everything get to be about race in the news today?
We all know that any man, with just the right emphasis and a raise of the eyebrow, can make almost anything sound like a walking case of sexual harassment (ask me to demonstrate at the Blogger Bash, if you’re curious). What is it in some people that make even basic news stories into another battle in the race wars? That’s a sickness, folks.
And if you read this piece by Shawn Macomber, you’ll finally get to this:
Not his words, but the words written on a memorial in Mombasa. Every once in a while when I’m reading Macomber’s pieces, I’m reminded of the style a young, less truculent Paul Theroux. I’m not sure that Shawn would appreciate the comparison, but Theroux is one of my favorite authors.
The words are evocative to me--at one moment, I’m angry at the idiots in the World Social Forum, in the next moment I’m laughing at the slogan spattered t-shirts and signs. I get a great sense of place, with the smells, the images, and the people all walking those Nairobi city streets in my mind. And in the middle of it all are reminders of events that some people seem to find so easy to forget.
I look forward to the full length piece later.
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
An Interesting (And Very Early) Note
Offered without comment.
State of the Union (Hey, This isn’t American Idol! Edition)
Man, before I start in on the general discussion, it must be noted that Nancy Pelosi is mighty spry. She jumps up to applaud (selectively) with an impressive vigor. I mean, seriously, she’s bouncy.
Now, onto something more serious. President Bush delivered a speech that was well considered and (for a man who will never be considered one of our nation’s great orators) well delivered. It contained much that will irritate every side of the aisle (which works well to support his “uniter” self-image) and hopefully a bit to actually excite both sides of the aisle as well.
Starting with his symbolic olive branch by giving a wonderful nod to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi--a nod that was delivered with more grace and dignity than his political opponents usually afford him--and congratulating the Democrats on their victory was a smart way to acknowledge a very public defeat of Bush Republicans. It was a good way to start his “hands across the aisle” efforts, whether out of a sense of honest desire or simply out of necessity.
What is tough is that after six years of his presidency, it is sometimes tough to hear Bush without a sly smile. When he talks about a balanced budget being achieved without raising taxes, it is hard not to think about some of the more expensive Bush initiatives (the pill bill, of course, springs to mind) and wonder if a truly balanced budget would have been achievable without those expenditures. It’s funny, though, to watch the Democrats sitting and smirking through even the thought of trying to balance the budget without raising taxes. Hillary looked downright antagonistic to the very idea.
Which is, of course, one of the reasons I have a hard time voting for the left. Talk about frustration.
President Bush’s call for earmark reform, though, was wildly applauded on both sides of the aisle. Earmarks, though, are a bipartisan issue, of their own; in a bipartisan manner our leaders have supported earmarks as a way of spending far more of our money than I think is wise. I wonder how much of that applause will translate into Bush’s vision of exposing earmarks to the light of day? Call me cynical, but it’s one of those things that politicians regularly call for and rarely deliver.
Even less likely to be enacted--especially with a Democratic leadership bent on obstructionism--are sweeping reforms to Social Security and Medicare. Bush has wanted those reforms since he has been in office and, with a largely compliant Republican congress, was unable to attack meaningfully. Can anyone honestly expect that this will be easier to achieve with the new political climate?
Don’t get me wrong: Social Security and Medicare reform are two of the most important things that our country needs for future fiscal security. But my hopes are most likely to be disappointed.
There are other areas, too, that he is likely to be disappointed on. His call for school vouchers or No Child Left Behind. Although he’ll probably find an easier time in his urge to increase education expenditures in a fiscally responsible and no-new-taxes kind of way.
The one thing on the domestic agenda that was most interesting to me, though, was the Conservative Guide to Universal Health Care (in a fiscally responsible and no-new-taxes kind of way). This mix of lowered taxes in the form of tax credits, expanded health savings accounts, calls for cost transparency, liability reform, and support for association health plans actually provided an intriguing view of how mandated health care might struggle its way out of the socialized hell of unending entitlement and into a reality of something that actually is vaguely fiscally responsible.
Which, of course, means that everyone will hate the damned thing. I am personally intrigued enough that I would love to see the details.
On immigration, again, Bush is unlikely to make anyone happy. His calls for border integrity will be overshadowed by his call for a temporary worker program to relieve pressure on border security (an argument I actually find somewhat convincing). What will find bipartisan support, I think, is a call to hold corporations accountable for their hiring practices--although I wonder how this entire, not-entirely-coherent view of immigration reform might work without “animosity or amnesty”. Even if the guest worker program were approved, it would be hard to sell that as anything other than a form of amnesty.
Of course, the meat of the speech is in foreign policy (in particular, the war on terror and the “surge"). The tone of his delivery doesn’t reflect desperation, but the content can’t be far off that mark. As much as I agree with his belief that we must “take the fight to the enemy"--even the Democrats stood for that line--and as much as I still believe that Iraq is not unwinnable--I can’t help but wonder how much time he has to try to enact meaningful changes to affect changes in Iraq.
If anything can do the trick, though, it’s throwing terrorists’ words our way. “We will sacrifice our blood and bodies to put an end to your dreams...” Understanding the earnestness of that statement, understanding the patience that underlies the statement should leave us fearful. Instead, I think that much of the country is merely weary.
But in understanding Bush’s call for helping moderates and reformers around the world resonates deeply for me, especially having recently read Natan Sharansky’s powerful The Case for Democracy. The moral and pragmatic case to be made for supporting liberalism around the world is compelling--and what is said in the State of the Union Address is not only for our ears. Much of what is said is messages of support or warning to people around the world.
Those reformers--and the leaders in Iran, Syria, and North Korea--hear these words and put meaning to them, too.
But America may have a hard time finding the will to support those words. The Bush “Surge” plan received the chilly reception that would have been expected by anyone who has watched polls over the last few weeks. Unfortunately, the focus seems to stray on the numbers and ignore the change in tactics that are the most important part of the plan.
One thing that Bush seems to realize, though, that other politicians either do not understand or are willfully ignoring, is that our war is a generational commitment. This is the biggest reason that I voted for his second term; like the Cold War, this war against Islamic extremists is one that will not be won or lost on a single battlefield or without long term sacrifice. And, like the Cold War, that also means that we will suffer through errors and successes, good and bad leadership, to come to a place where we can finally claim victory.
A Kerry presidency could have worked hard to derail that commitment.
Mostly, I hope that America isn’t as weary as she seems. Americans, it has always seemed to me, respond to strong leadership. Bush has very little time left to prove that he is the leader who can take us to victory in Iraq.
As a Side Note: I’m writing this while taking notes on American Idol--which is a little surreal…
So, on a more up note, I have to say that I always love the introduction of the Presidential guests. I was doubly pleased to see Dikembe Mutombo, one of my favorite former Nuggets (and current Houston Rocket). And, along with Baby Einstein creator, Julie Aigner-Clark, and just all-around great guy, Wesley Autry (and, no, heroic isn’t a stretch for what this gentleman did for a stranger), these are great examples of Bush’s vision of America. It’s that vision that I’m going to close with, because it is that vision with which I whole-heartedly agree.
And that is my view of America. Filled with people from such disparate walks of life, often having come here from other countries, volunteering and working not just for their own benefit but with a spirit of generosity for the people around them. That is the beautiful spirit of America--a spirit that doesn’t obey partisan politics and isn’t found solely in people of any one religion. An imperfect people, to be sure, but bent on doing and being good.
Sudden, Happier Realization
Thank God for hockey.
Thursday, January 18, 2007
No. I’m Not Afraid of Short Posts. Why Do You Ask?
Colorado Global Warming Warning!
Fellow citizens, I feel the need to raise an urgent issue with you all. While congress sits and does nothing, global warming has come to Colorado. Where once majestic sheets of ice and snow covered streets, there is barren blacktop. The glaciers that towered over our parking lots are slowly calving, giant portions breaking away and shattering on the earth below. Gaia is crying out for our help!
While we sit warm and comfortable in our heated homes, driving recklessly over this precious, snowy landscape, the blight of solar warming takes its toll. If nothing is done to curb this activity, the snow could be gone by spring.
Don’t let this happen!
I know that you, being concerned citizens, wonder what you can do to help. Contact your congressional representatives and demand that something be done to save Colorado’s snowlands from further harm. And an operation like ResurrectionSong--devoted to social justice, environmental equality, and groupie redistribution to the groupieless--is expensive. Your donations will not only help keep Rsong running, but will also help to buy much needed ice makers in our efforts to keep the streets icy.
You can also earmark your donation for our Groupie Lend-Lease Program or our Free Tequila for the Needy Blogger Bash Tradition.
Thank you. With your help, we can make sure that Colorado doesn’t have a brighter tomorrow.
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
American Idol: The Season Begins
The most fun to be had in American Idol comes at the beginning of the season. Really, the best of the thing—if “best” is a measure of entertainment value rather than actual talent—is the absolute worst that the show has to offer.
The deluded, painfully untalented true believers in skills they don’t possess are matched by the attention-seeking dolts who simply can’t have imagined that they ever had a chance of advancing. These folks have nothing to offer the world except for the hilarity of their post-critique breakdowns and tantrums. They leave the viewer breathless, wondering just how the hell these people devoted so much of their self-worth to the likes of Simon, Randy, and Paula that their rejection could cause public displays of passionate lunacy.
These early shows represent a hilariously pointless affair.
Still, it was hard to not feel a twinge of pity when the first wannabe fell into racking sobs and despair when she embarrassed herself in front of her favorite singer (the guest judge, Jewel) by performing a terrible impression of the famous singer. But, after that moment of pity, the question remains: why?
Why imagine a talent that doesn’t exist? Why should it make such a big difference that Simon says mean things? And why the hell didn’t her friends tell her “no”?
The questions are repeated even more emphatically when faced with the flat, droning voice of the Amish impersonator and the hordes of warbling fools who soon followed. How many of them were there as a joke? Because, for every one of them who honestly believed that they had a shot, there are probably dozens of people who should acted prophylactically to save their friends from public embarrassment.
From a talent perspective, the best that can be hoped for from American Idol tryouts is a sort of inspired mediocrity. The best moments are pale imitations of other peoples’ music and a feeling that, hey, that wasn’t so bad. That’s a long way from inspiration.
The car crashes are more interesting than the rest, anyway. Once the wrecks have cleared and Idol goes into the contest proper, all that remain are the bland and the boring. Instead of the delightfully weird, opera singing Apollo Creed, the audience will be watching the spectacularly average (but cute and perky) Columbian transplant. Neither was a special talent, but at least one of them was entertaining.
Over ten thousand people auditioned; only seventeen passed through to Hollywood. The deluded masses are more numerous than anyone had imagined.
Which brings me to an announcement: within the next few days, a new American Idol blog will be starting up. Because as bad as these singers are, I’ll still be watching the damned thing and feeling like a hypocrite. What you’ll get at that new site is one marginally talented blogger taking easy shots are the marginally talented singers who dream of the fame and big bucks that come with being named the American Idol.
Sunday, January 14, 2007
Another Early Exit for San Diego
I’m personally pulling for Indy to represent the AFC in the upcoming Super Bowl. Peyton Manning is one of the game’s best quarterbacks, and it’s a shame that he hasn’t found his way to the big game yet. It would be nice to see him playing for the championship. But since the Broncos and the Redskins aren’t in the playoffs, it isn’t a really big deal to me. I’m a casual observer at this point.
I only preface with this to point out that I really didn’t care much about San Diego’s bid for the Super Bowl; I wasn’t pulling for them, but I wasn’t much rooting against them, either.
Here’s the thing: Marty Schottenheimer is a damned decent coach. He knows how to win games, he recognizes talent, and he’s brought a lot of winning seasons wherever he coaches. What he doesn’t do is go to Super Bowls. Forget about winning the thing, the truth is that he never seems to get to the big game. He is the winningest coach in NFL history to never coach in the Super Bowl--a fact that is going to be thrown around in the San Diego sports pages tomorrow.
For most of the season there has been a question about whether Schottenheimer would be returning as San Diego’s head coach next season. His relationship with AJ Smith, the Chargers’ general manager, is notoriously strained and, given the expectations of the team, there is going to be a lot of disappointment. There will be talk of wasting a season where LaDainian Tomlinson, Shawne Merriman, and Philip Rivers all played brilliantly, but came up short against a surprising Patriots team.
I’ll be surprised if Schottenheimer is back in San Diego next year. His reputation as a big game loser, his sour relationship with the team’s general manager, and the massively disappointing end to the season will all overshadow just how well the Chargers played this year.
The next big question for all of us now is whether Tom Brady will get his fourth ring. He’s on pace to not only match John Elway’s records as the only quarterback to start in five Super Bowls, but to eclipse the mark. What a remarkable career that young man has already had.
Thursday, January 11, 2007
The Big Question of the Day
I think the question that we all need to be asking ourselves today is this:
Because I’m pretty sure that’s important to all of us.
Friday, January 05, 2007
I’m More Confortable With Life’s Ponderables (First in a Series of at Least One)
One of my current high-rotation songs has the lines “if I told you that I knew about the sun and the moon, I’d be untrue. The only thing I know for sure is what I wanna do.” The song is called “Wanna Make it Witchu.” Connecting the dots from there is pretty easy.
Anyway, the point is this: sometimes pondering the imponderable just gets a little ponderous. Sometimes it’s just easier to sit back and deal with certainties.
For example, at this moment, I am completely and utterly certain that I am really freakin’ tired of these snow storms that keep making my trip to and from work a tension-filled, hazardous journey and necessitate further shoveling of the driveway. I am just as certain that I wouldn’t be complaining if a little global warming would blow over Colorado over the next few weeks and melt some of these giant mounds of snow along with all the ice (and those concrete-like ice potholes that seem to be forming on most of the side streets). I am even more certain that I’m jealous of the darling girl who, being a teacher in a district that just called another snow day, was happily sleeping when I left the house this morning.
Stupid freakin’ snow.
Yeah. That’s probably the depth of my depth for the day.
Thursday, January 04, 2007
Low and No Cost Stock Photography
Professional photographers don’t like the growing trend of low and no cost stock photography available on the Internet, although this is really just a continuation of the mid-90’s move to relatively inexpensive royalty free stock photography offered in CD collections.
See, photographers who offered their works either on contract photo shoots or through rights managed sources used to see their photos being valued in the thousands of dollars; with low (often just a few dollars for print-quality files) and no cost options available, those rights managed pictures don’t look so attractive. I’m sympathetic to the plight of the photographer, but when a client asks me to source a photo and isn’t comfortable with the rights management limitations and high costs, I’m going to do what I can to make them happy. More often than not that means first perusing a handful of sites to see if there is a good quality image available cheap.
So, if you are looking for images to use in your own projects (whether it’s for your site or for press), these are a few places to look for images that might fit your needs.
The danger, of course, is that you might see “your” photo on someone else’s ad or Web site. The $1100 rights managed image I used on a recent media kit isn’t something I’m likely to run into again any time in the near future. Like every choice a designer makes, there is a balance between the key points of affordability, quality, and uniqueness. For my smaller clients, of course, it’s always affordability that takes top honors.
A few times, I’ve had people send emails asking where they can get low or no cost images, though, and this is my answer. All of these sites have been useful to me at one time; I’m betting that all of them will come in handy again in the future. Your mileage may vary.
Generosity is a Dish Best Served With Cocaine
I don’t have much in the way of commentary on this story of free drugs on Mothers Day except to note that it was either an oddly nice gesture or a symptom of a perverse sense of humor.
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
For Design Geeks
Sans. Coated. Grey. Nano. InDesign. Photograph. Justified. No. Deboss. CMYK. Of course, all that goes out the window when I’m working in Quark on files that a client sent for a job that cries out for a bold serif embossed on a gray, uncoated stock with an aggressive tooth backed up by an evocative illustration and a rag right text block placed just so on a playfully asymmetric layout.
And, for the record: Beatles (although I like Elvis), Mary Ann (Ginger was a bimbo), The Who (because the Rolling Stones are the ugliest band ever), and soda (because pop is too old-fashioned).
Monday, January 01, 2007
Denver Bronco Darrent Williams Shot and Killed
I was going to get up and write about the anti-climactic ending to the Broncos season, about my disappointment, and about what I figured they would be looking for in the off season. Maybe I’ll get around to writing about that later, but the tragedy of yesterday wasn’t the Broncos failing to make the playoffs. The tragedy was in the drive-by-shooting of a 24-year-old player for the team.
What a tragic ending to a promising young man’s life.
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