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Goodly.

I love the English language. My abilities in the language are not the model of perfect syntax but I strive to speak and write well by utilising the skills I learned as a youngster and continue to learn each day. I try to talk English more goodly when I talk.

I was recently reading an article about the rapid demise of the proper use of English among students. College professors are shocked at the appearance of words such as “AFAIK”, “LOL” and the like are showing up in term papers. Students are now using text-messaging shorthand in lieu of forming complete sentences. The nuances of the language are rapidly falling away. Why describe something with a colorful, elaborate prose when you can plunk it out in terse, utilitarian, plain ol’ black and white on a tiny keyboard?

With the advent of spelling correction and the like, people are paying less and less attention to their spelling and in many occasions are using a program where they aren’t autocorrected. This drives me insane. I admit that I have my share of spelling and grammar mistakes on my blog. Due to my history of writing advertising copy, I tend to write as a person would speak versus how a person would read and that informal style tends to carry over to my words here. I write casually but I try really hard not to be casual with my spelling, as there really isn’t a formal and casual way of spelling a word. So I’d like to take a moment and review some of the basics that really get on my nerves:

lose vs loose
“Emma wanted to lose some weight so her pants would be loose.”
“Matt played with the loose change in his pocket.”
“I won. You lose.”

Here is how I remember: when you lose something you want to only lose one ‘o’. When you’re loose, you’re probably having double the fun.

desert vs dessert
“J.P. and Earl went for a Jeep ride in the desert.” (note: we were not driving through an ice cream sundae.)
“I think I’ll have the apple pie for dessert.”

Here is how I remember: There is one desert in the U.S. and once in a while I wish I could have two desserts.

their, there and they’re
“They’re happy that their mobile home was still there after the tornado.”

‘They’re’ is a contraction of they are. “They’re excited about winning the lottery.”
‘Their’ is possessive. “It’s their kid that is screaming.”
‘There’ refers to a place. “Put the couch over there.”

I just remember that one, though I occasionally mix it up when I’m typing quickly.

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Inconspicuous.

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Earl and I are just back from Geno’s Steaks in South Philly. We try to get a “mushroom provolone wit” at least once a year during our trips to these parts.

One of the things about Geno’s is that it’s VERY U.S.A. centric. There are signs all over proclaiming that “we want our country back” and “You are in America and you must order in English.” They even feature Freedom Fries. I’m cool with this in that I think it’s great that as U.S. Citizens we can proclaim our pride in our country in any way we feel appropriate, much like I do on my blog. So I keep my mouth shut and try to blend in with the local culture. (I don’t succeed in this very well.)

After ordering and receiving our steaks we moved on to the fries and drink window, where Earl placed an order and asked if I had any dollar bills. I pulled out my wallet and started fumbling through my money clip when the woman behind the window noticed me. (Ed. note 23 Aug 2009: looking at Geno’s site, it’s Betty I’m referring to.) She looked harmless enough; I’d say she was in her mid 50s and had been through the course of life. She was efficient in what she did and had a hardened, Philly appropriate demeanor I suppose.

“WHERE IS THAT MONEY FROM?” she barked out the window. Numerous pairs of eyes were suddenly on the bald guy that was trying to keep his mouth shut whilst standing at the window waiting for his “pop” in “soda” land. I kept the “u” out of the local flavour I was trying to drink in. She was referring to the ten dollar bill I had in my hand.

The bill she was referring to is pinkish-purple with wording in both English and French. Of course, it’s Canadian money.

Startled a little bit, I jump in my skin but quickly regain composure. I think I heard a smirk from Earl, but I can’t be sure. I barked back at her, “it’s from Canada”. I looked at her as I said it with a smile, she smiled back at me with a twinkle in her eye. She took me for a Canadian and appeared okay with that.

I didn’t bother to correct her. But I kept my fries as Freedom Fries. I didn’t want to push the point.

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Talent.

So there has been some really big news today. Yes, two Americans were released from North Korea and there story is quite important, yes yes yes, but the big news today is more in the history making, monumental category.

Paula Abdul twittered that she is not returning to American Idol for it’s 9th season and Fox confirmed the breakdown in contract negotiations.

Sacré bleu!

Naturally, the failed contract negotiations are all about the money, with Ryan Seacrest reportedly making $45 million over the next three years while Paula was asking for around $12 million per year. News flash for Fox: I find Paula Abdul infinitely more entertaining than Ryan Seacrest and quite frankly, I think a lot of people agree with me.

There is the misconception that American Idol is about the talent and the next big superstar. Please. For much of the show’s run the talk around the water bubbler has been about Ms. Abdul and her erratic ways. While Ryan is doing his best to look butch…

Ryan Seacrest
Please note stubble. This is always a sign of a butch man.

… Paula always beat him to the punch, by looking like a Klingon.

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While I love me some Paula Abdul (I still play “Dance Like There’s No Tomorrow” off my iPod), we have to admit that there is a sizable portion of the audience that doesn’t give two hoots about who sings the best and who is pitchy, what we want to see is some Paula meltdown with the hopes that Ryan will announce what number to dial on our AT&T phone to get some of what Paula is taking.

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Randy “the Mad Dog Dawg Dawg baby Dawg Dawg” Jackson goes on and on and on and on and ON about how this is a talent show and how every year the talent is getting better and it’s all about the star quality yadda yadda yadda (when in fact the winner will be turned into a record company’s bitch for a year and be subjected to more auto-tune than should be legally allowed) but we know what it’s about. Yes, we agree with Simon most of the time and snicker at his staff written zingers. And we wonder where this Kara DioGuardi came from and really wish that she would take her poorly written songs home with her but in reality American Idol is the train wreck, the car accident, the scene that we can’t turn away from.

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I mean the only way to distract yourself from what Ms. Abdul is up to is to play that fun game of “Remember Who They Used To Be Before They Went Plastic!”

priscilla20060509
An now-defunct blog, “Rotten Ryan”, once commented that Priscilla wouldn’t be identified as human in the middle of “It’s A Small World” at WDW. If I ever meet you Rotten Ryan, I will bow to you.

So while there will always be people that claim that American Idol is the showcase for what Old Glory has in the way of talent (hello? Carmen Rasmussen? Chicken Little Kevin Covais? Scott Savol?), many will claim that American Idol is just pure, trailer trash entertainment at it’s very best (and remember, I grew up in a trailer so I can say that), and much of that was because of Paula Abdul.

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Paula, we will miss you and I’m sure Fox will see a good-sized decrease in ratings. Let’s hope you continue to dance like there’s no tomorrow.

A Girl Crush?

I haven’t talked about American Idol much during these final weeks of the competition, but Earl and I have been watching the performances and the results shows. Wednesday night we sat down and watched the finale, which I found to be quite entertaining. I was originally going to write a blog entry during the event but lost interest about a third of a way into the show. The entry just wasn’t coming together the way I wanted it to. However, here are a couple of thoughts from watching the show:

1. Donna Summer was amazing. I was a little shocked to see her being escorted down the stairs (because it looked like she needed the help), but Earl said that was just Donna’s way of being a diva and making an entrance. Either way, I thought she looked amazing and sounded fantastic. And am I right, or what: “Stamp Your Feet” is going to be a big summer hit.

2. Could Amanda Overmyer look anymore uncomfortable with singing pop songs? I know that’s not her genre, but it’s the gig she signed onto when she auditioned for American Idol. Maybe the angry rocker chick is her shtick.

3. David Archuleta has the voice of an angel and will be soaring up Clay Aiken Boulevard in the career department without an issue.

4. David Cook has a promising career ahead of him and I found his performances genuine and enjoyable. I think America got it right with the voting of the finale. Both have promising careers, Cookie is more prepared for it than Archie is.

5. I think I have a crush on Carly Smithson. Not only did she give her best in all of her performances during the finale, she looked wicked hot in her “Hot Stuff” outfit. I don’t usually notice these things, but I certainly noticed Carly Wednesday night. And, her duet with Michael Johns was one of the highlights of the evening. They both nailed the performance and were thoroughly entertaining.

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So Much For That.

I had every intent on review the American Idol contestants every week until the end of the season but I guess I’ve lost interest. I didn’t even remember that American Idol was on this week. Carly doesn’t even spin my wheel anymore.

Oh well, so much for that.

I think I’ve pretty much lost interest in all network television. “Las Vegas” is gone. I’m still bitter about the loss of “Judging Amy” years ago. “Heroes” does nothing for me. I more content with Sam and Darrin, Wally and Beaver, Lucy and Ricky and the folks at 1313 Mockingbird Lane.

I just read that NBC is going to start using the sponsors as building blocks for shows and then write a story around that to come up with programs. I think this proves in many ways that network television is rapidly headed down the crapper.

American Idol: The Top 8.

As I’ve been doing for the past couple of weeks, here’s my unedited thoughts on tonight’s American Idol. There may be spoilers, you’ve been warned.

Ryan Seacrest really grates on me nerves these days. I used to find him hot, now I find him exceedingly annoying. His “This is American Idol” sounds too fake and his demeanor just makes me go “ock”.

They introduced the Top 8; I thought “who’s the new girl?” It was Jason Castro. Tonight’s theme: “Inspirational Songs”.

1. Michael Johns, “Dream On” by Aerosmith. Usually a favorite of mine, he seems to be struggling to me a little bit. He could have taken it down a step and probably sounded more comfortable. Good performance but he didn’t do anything new with the song.

Paula is liquored up. She’s lucky I like her single else I wouldn’t give her a second notice.

I must by cranky tonight. I hate the audience tonight and I’m not in the mood for the syrupy explanations of why the performers chose their song.

2. Syesha Mercado, “I Believe” by Fantasia. She sounds like someone else but I can’t decide who. Maybe Whitney. I like this better than Fantasia’s. Ms. Thing hand movements, interesting. Where did that Mariah yelp come from? I’m impressed.

The judges are dipshits. They’re complaining because the performers are singing the songs that others have already sang. No shit sherlock, what the hell are they suppose to sing?

3. Jason Castro, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by some guy in Hawaii. Aloha Don Ho. Your hair is dirty. Same old, same old, boo-boop boo-boop boo-boop the TiVo goes. You will never hear this on a Top 40 station. Must be I’m missing something on this guy. I don’t agree with the judges at all.

4. Kristy Lee Cook, “Anyway” by Martina McBride. I don’t like watching her sing. The band is drowning out her vocals and she doesn’t sound too bad tonight. The hand movements are forced. A few pitch issues. More than a few on the second verse. Paula is up, someone goosed her animatronic remote.

A mike squeal on this multi-million dollar show? Puleez. And I’m missing the oval on the bumper, but I’ve mentioned that once or twice.

5. David Cook, “Innocent” by Our Lady Peace. Thank God his hair is getting tamer. Not familiar with the track but it fits his style. Good display of range. His eyes look weird to me tonight. Paula’s animatronics are getting weird again. Someone please pull her plug. He writes on his hand. That’s a first. Not a bad performance.

6. Carly Smithson, “The Show Must Go On” by Queen. I love her accent but of course it’s because she’s Irish. She always looks intense when she sings. She dead on with her pitch. Clothes are better. Not her best performance, she wasn’t comfortable.

7. David Archuleta, “Angels” by (I have no idea). He likes singing somewhat religious songs. He sings beautifully. I’m not a big fan of the pronunciation of “ain-julls”. A good performance but again I found him in his safe zone. He’s a brilliant vocalist but avoided risk tonight.

8. Brooke White, “You’ve Got A Friend” by Carole King. Song choice totally fits her style. Hand movements look rehearsed to me (why do I notice that?) Safe performance, not bad but I don’t feel engaged.

My prediction: I want Jason to go home but it’ll probably be Carly.

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American Idol: Top 9

My reactions to tonight’s Top 9 on American Idol. I write these blog entries as the show progresses and I don’t edit as I’m going along.

Tonight it’s Dolly Parton night. I’ve always been a fan of Dolly. Any guesses as to who will sing “Islands In The Stream”? I’m guessing a rock version from David Cook.

Here we go.

Dolly is looking good but a little plastic. Not too bad though. The reconstructed cheekbones always throw me. At least she doesn’t look like Priscilla Presley.

1. Brooke White, “Jolene”. Typical Brooke performance. I like her but I’m finding her performances a little too predictable now. A few pitch issues in the first part of the first chorus? She doesn’t look entirely comfortable on the stage.

Please for the love of God, someone please up Paula’s dosage so she’s just passed out. It would be such a more enjoyable show if Paula didn’t have to negate every negative comment the others make.

2. David Cook, “Little Sparrow (original arrangement)”. Oddly for me, the beard doesn’t negate the bad haircut. I can totally see Daughtry doing this version. That being said, I’m rather enjoying it. Hate the waving hands in the mosh pit. I liked it for the most part, aside from the ending. I thought the ending didn’t work at all.

3. Ramiele Malubay, “Do I Ever Cross Your Mind”. Her clothes always look sloppy to me. They don’t fit and they look cheap. The performance lacks energy and I could never see a full concert or listen to a full album by her. Bottom three material.

I love the new Apple commercial with the yoga instructor.

4. Jason Castro, “Traveling Through”. Oh god. I hope he surprises me this week. Never mind, it’s not going to happen. Same old. Same old. Pitch is perfect, performance is predictable. Like Ramiele, I don’t think I could listen to an entire album or watch an entire concert by him. For what it is it’s o.k.

5. Carly Smithson, “Here You Come Again”. I’m liking the arrangement of the track. Carly is nailing the pitch and energy of the performance. This is the first time I’ve been slightly reminded of a Céline like quality to her voice. Best performance thus far. I thought Simon was a little harsh, but I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY DO NOT like Ryan’s sniping back at Simon. I think Ryan Seacrest is going way above and beyond his role as “host” and not in a good way.

Still missing the oval around the logo on the bumper.

6. David Archuleta, “Smoky Mountain Memories”. His voice is angelic. He can sing the phone book and make it sound like a hit. He’s got an AC (adult contemporary) thing going on and now I see him as the heir to the path forged by Clay Aiken. Why is he wearing ear pieces? I’ve noticed this on him for the past two weeks.

7. Kristy Lee Cook, “Coat of Many Colors”. Carmen Rasmusen without the yodel. The performance lacks energy. Pitch issues throughout the bridge. She saved herself with the last phrase. I’m not impressed. Who is voting for her? I agree with Simon: pleasant but forgettable. Why does Ryan Seacrest mention her french pedicure and how is it that he knows about these things? I don’t like Kristy’s snarky comments back to Simon.

8. Syesha Mercado, “I Will Always Love You”. The song choice was exceedingly predictable. She’s making it different from both Dolly and Whitney. I appreciate that. Pitch was on. I’m liking the way she phrased the chorus. Wow, I’m impressed with the way she held out the notes on the phrase at the end. Impressive, I wasn’t expecting it.

9. Michael Johns, “It’s All Wrong But It’s Alright”. I like Michael but I’m not liking this performance. It’s sounds way too much like Michael Bolton to me. The last bluesy part of the chorus worked for me else I found it non-engaging.

Please, someone, please up Paula’s dosage.

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American Idol: Top 10.

After taking a week off from live blogging American Idol last week (who wants to watch that when we can watch power outages in Las Vegas?) I’m back watching American Idol on time delay and giving my raw impressions as I watch the performances. I welcome comments and feedback.

There may be spoilers if you haven’t watched the show. I’m just warning you per internet etiquette.

Tonight’s theme is the year they were born. Mostly 80s music? This is making me feel old already.

1. (1987) Ramiele Malubay: “Alone” by Heart. The audience is annoying with their waving arms. That first run she sang was off key. She’s off key quite a bit. Did Carrie Underwood sing this back during her season? I believe she did and it was much, much better than this horrible performance. The audience needs to stop the boos. I completely agree with Randy: “pitchy”.

I still think the “American Idol” logo looks naked without the oval around it. It lacks punch.

2. (1987) Jason Castro: “Fragile” by Sting. Typical Jason: stool, dreads, guitar, breathy vocals. He has one way of singing and he does it well but it doesn’t grab me and I wouldn’t enjoy an entire album of this. “Gee whiz Jason, shave the peach fuzz above your lip until you can grow a real mustache”. What is Paula Abdul wearing for gloves? Zsa Zsa cast offs? Jason seems like a nice kid but he has the personality of a wet dish rag.

3. (1987) Siesha Mercado: “If I Were Your Woman” by Stephanie Mills. Surprise! I totally expected “So Emotional” by Whitney Houston. I’m not familiar with the track but I thought she sang it well. She’s no Jennifer Hudson but I thought she did a very good job and she was on pitch the entire performance. I enjoyed it.

I’m happy that they’re including the Cathy Dennis “Oh whoa whoa whoa whoa” on the music beds this year.

4. (1985) Chikezie: “If Only For One Night” by Patti LaBelle and Luther Vandross. First couple of notes were a little shaky. Not a bad performance, the end was impressive, but unfortunately it’s not suited for mainstream radio. I agree with Randy’s comments in that it sounded very dated.

You would think that the top rated show on the American networks would be able to make the judge’s mikes sound good. What’s up with the hum and the hiss? They need a better sound designer.

5. (1983) Brooke White: “Every Breath You Take” by The Police. Whoops, false starts are always disconcerting but she recovered well. I don’t know how she plays piano with rings on, I always have trouble with my wedding band when I play piano. Maybe the rings are interfering, I heard a few clinkers in the instrumentation. I want to like this but I’m starting to think she’s a one trick pony like Jason and that’s unfortunate because I really want to like her.

The lack of consistency in the American Idol on the bumpers is not good for brand recognition. Can you tell this lack of oval bothers me?

6. (1978) Michael Johns: “We Will Rock You/We Are The Champions ” by Queen. He does Freddy Mercury fairly well. Perhaps he should try the ‘stache, but that’s my spin on it (big fan of the ‘stache). I’m happy that he knows his vocal limits and didn’t try to sing above his natural register. I enjoyed both his vocal performance and his presentation. Good job.

7. (1983) Carly Smithson: (she gets MAJOR points for mentioning Kylie Minogue in her pre-game interview) “Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler. I’m always a fan of Carly but this performance isn’t really doing much for me. I almost think she’s trying too hard. I agreed with Randy and Simon, she didn’t seem entirely comfortable while performing.

8. (1990) David Archuleta: “You’re The Voice”. I don’t know this song. It was a typical David Archuleta performance. He nailed the pitch, the performance was good. O.k., it was written by John Farnham. Google says David Foster and Jeff Pescetto did something with it in 1990. I agree with Simon to an extent in that it sounded like a Theme Park Performance, but I think it would be a high-end theme park like DisneyWorld.

9. (1984) Kristy Lee Cook: “God Bless The U.S.A.” by Lee Greenwood. At least she’s staying within her genre without going hoedown on us. I still say she’s Carmen Rasmusen without the yodel. She still has some pitch issues that are not characteristic of country music. I think she played it safe this week. Her arm movements looked rehearsed and unnatural.

10. (1982) David Cook: “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson but as performed by Chris Cornell. I hate his hair, it reminds me of a bad beauty parlor cut on an older Italian woman. Vocally he’s on target but he’s a bit of a one trick pony. He’s a cheap version of Daughtry. Predictable.

Who do I think should go home? Chikezie.

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Trying.

Last year the world was introduced to the television show “Heroes”, and it was good. Through creative writing and acceptable special effects, we were taken through the twists and turns of ordinary people with extraordinary powers who came together to try to save the world.

And it was good.

It is now season 2. And I really hate to say this, but “Heroes” ain’t doin’ it for me. I’m not enjoying the Mexican story arc, I’m not liking the Peter in Ireland story arc and now we have Niki back on the screen whining and crying. The week’s episode, the third of the season, didn’t make it to the TiVo in it’s complete form due to a wild thunderstorm during the original airing. Luckily, the screen stayed stable enough to reveal Uhura in New Orleans. Other than that, it was a mosh posh of dancing pixelated images that abbreviated the episode to 30 minutes. Normally I’d be freaked out about the interruption and trying to download the episode in it’s entirety, but I’m finding that I just don’t give a damn.

Oddly enough, I’m interested in only two shows thus far: “Las Vegas”, because it’s like television Cheese in a Can and it knows it, and “Private Practice”, because it has a good ensemble cast and what seems to be good writing, plus it has my babe Amy Brenneman on it. I am interested in “Pushing Daisies” and will be adding that to the TiVo as well.

I must be getting old, because I’m also contemplating adding the new “Price Is Right” onto our viewing schedule. For the first time in the 35 year history of the show, they rerecorded the theme song in stereo.

Private Practice.

Amy Brenneman.

If you’ve followed the blog for a while or seen my populated ‘list of quirks’, you’ll know that I am quite bitter about CBS’ cancellation of “Judging Amy” a couple of years ago. There are many reasons for my bitterness in which I won’t bore you with the details (you can read old entries here, here and here) but one of the main reasons for my angst is that Amy Brenneman is one of the few women on the face of the earth that can turn my head. She’s my Elizabeth Montgomery of today’s times.

Enter “Private Practice”.

A spin off of the popular “Grey’s Anatomy”, which I’ve never watched in my life, “Private Practice” follows the story of one of the more popular characters from “Grey’s Anatomy” and spins her into a co-op type medical practice in L.A. The cast is quite impressive, as it includes Kate Walsh, Audra McDonald, Taye Diggs, Tim Daly and Amy Brenneman, among others.

I haven’t really been excited about this new television season. Our TiVo has been whittled down to “Heroes” and “Las Vegas”. There’s nothing else that has really captured my attention (except for a SciFi remake that I REFUSE to watch and urge any and all to boycott for a number of reasons) but Earl saw that Amy was on a new show so he added it to the To Do list on the TiVo.

He’s such a good man.

The first episode of “Private Practice” had a lot to do. It integrated an established character for a popular drama into a bunch of new characters, it had to establish backgrounds for these new characters, it had to set a vibe and it had to bang us over the head with it’s intended premise.

It did all these things well. There were a few over-the-top moments, but hey, people expect that and it’s a cut throat industry now – big ratings immediately or down the toilet you go.

“Private Practice” has earned a spot in our TiVo to do list. And once again Amy graces our screen.

All is right with the world.