Saturday, March 31, 2007

Thursday, March 29, 2007

version one of three

For someone who fancies herself a wordsmith, I've been foundering for days as to how best to announce my departure from the company. Nothing sounded right, and so now I'm allowing that flimsy excuse of a sentence to do my dirty work.

My last day is tomorrow (Friday, March 30th). I have enjoyed the variety of challenges I've had during my 13 years with the company, and most of all, will miss the camaraderie.

I don't yet know what I'll be doing, and I am equal parts excited and uncertain about my future! I hope that we'll have the opportunity to cross paths again, either professionally or personally – perhaps both.

Please stay in touch, and don't be surprised if you hear from me!

All the best,

Friday, March 23, 2007

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

napkin notes

Not getting to this until 11:30pm, and don't want to take 90 minutes to compose. So just using incredibly terse scribblings to update. Not even going to use pronouns. Ha. British Invasion night with Peter Noone and Lulu.

1. Haley. Ppppbbbbbbttttt.

2. Chris R. Very good job, showing restraint and singing talent on "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying."

3. Stephanie. Flat in spots, generally shaky. Hugely frustrating because I know she's talented. First time I haven't loved the dress, but I did love the jewelry.

4. Blake. Excellent. "Time of the Season" the perfect song for him to show off both singing and beatboxing talent. Finally judges agreed.

5. LaKisha. Excellent as always. Very pretty dress, and love the million dollars in diamonds. But the song "Diamonds are Forever" did nothing for me.

6. Phil. "Tobacco Road." Good grief. Pppbbbbbtttttt.

7. Jordin. Nose gets closer to LaKisha's and Melinda's noses every week. Never heard "I Who Have Nothing" before tonight, but she did it justice.

8. Sanjaya. Remember how I said Sundance Head should NEVER had attempted to sing Pearl Jam? Multiply that sentiment by a gazillion, and you have Sanjaya singing the Kinks' song "You Really Got Me." The only thing that prevented it from slipping into blasphemy territory was the sheer amount of fun he had singing it.

9. Gina. "Paint it Black" was the perfect song choice for her, but Simon said it best: "style over content."

10. Chris S. Another impeccable song choice in "She's Not There." Wasn't keen on the walking-through-the-audience bit, but overall another good performance.

11. Melinda. Perfect. You'll note I didn't merely say "Excellent." She surpasses most all of the rest with ease and grace. As much as I love LaKisha and am rooting for Blake and Chris Sligh, I still think Melinda takes home the prize.

Miscellaneous Note. Who is Ashley, and why did every single minute of the 2-hour show make her cry?

Synopsis. Nothing changed my overall opinions tonight.

Phew! That entry only took 14 minutes. Unfortunately, it's painfully apparent. I have to find a happy medium! 'Night.

"Still Remains" by Stone Temple Pilots from one of my favorite albums of the 90s. I spent most of Summer '94 listening to this CD. At the time, I'd just begun working for the company where I've now been for 13 years. Our office was in Kirkland, WA, which on the eastern shore of Lake Washington, across from Seattle. Lots of nice parks to which I escaped for lunch and STP-listening.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

a.i. weirdness

There were more than a few bizarre moments on 'American Idol' tonight (or as Ryan Seacrest calls it, "A-MER-ican Idol"). At times, it just seems like an alternate reality show (ha! I made that up! I'm so clever!). There is a very distinct line between amateurs who want to be stars, and small-time professionals who just needed a launching pad to a national audience. Then there's stuff in between the two.

Now that it's down to the Top 12, my recap will be complete. Alphabetically (how diplomatic). Photos included indicates a Top 5 Kelly Choice (not diplomatic). Diana Ross night.

Blake Lewis

Except for a few rough edges that may be attributed to his amateur status, Blake knows himself and his style, and he's true to them both. His singing voice is good, although sometimes it is under-emphasized in comparison to everything else going on (beatboxing, fancy footwork, etc.). I think he did a fine job of arranging "You Keep Me Hanging On" to fit his style, even if it rubbed the judges the wrong way. Blake gets a vote tonight.

Brandon Rogers
It's disappointing that I don't like Brandon as much now as in the audition process. Clearly, he has talent. I mean, he's a professional backup singer. But week after week, he's been, well, weak. Tonight's version of the always fabulous song, "You Can't Hurry Love," was just... you know, weak. Such a waste.

Chris Richardson
I have liked Chris despite (or perhaps because of) his obvious desire to be the doppelganger of a certain boy band veteran named after woods and water. Tonight, his Justinian falsetto aerobics and trills were just confusing, and his choice of song ("The Boss") was downright puzzling. C'mon, it's Diana Ross. Surely you could have picked a better song!

Chris Sligh

Again, a contestant creates a unique arrangement, and it completely tweaks the judges. I don't know why. I think Chris has come the closest to taking a contrived situation ("Everyone sing Gregorian chant, regardless of your strengths") and making it work for his particular style. [Chris Daughtry was particularly good at this last year.] If the judges would have gotten over their personal dislike of the arrangement, I think they would have found his vocals to be as strong as all his previous performances.

Gina Glocksen
I like Gina. Really, I do. She's a much better singer than I am. That said, I'm an absolutely terrible singer. She did OK tonight, but I can't see her making it more than a few more weeks (and only that long to allow for the worst to be voted off first). It cracked me up when Paula told her that "Love Child" should be a fun, upbeat song. Um, Paula, have you ever listened to that song?

Haley Scarnato
Poor Haley. She's beautiful (although tonight's pumpkin-shaped, eggplant-colored, hip-banded, baby doll dress was a nightmare). Unfortunately for her, no matter how important it is for pop singers to be pretty, they also have to possess a certain degree of talent. I felt bad for her because she knew that she had botched it up but good (although that post-singing performance was a bit hammy). Her departure from the show this week would be the only acceptable reason for Sanjaya making it through again. Bye, bye Haley.

Jordin Sparks

Jordin has her ups and downs, all of which (I believe) can be attributed to her youth. Through it all, she has a very strong voice and, in the right circumstances, has let it roar. Tonight, she roared. The song (some obscure piece from the movie "Land Before Time") sounded remarkably like a Vanessa-Williams-sings-Disney bit, but she completely pulled it off. If she can sing like this more often, she could make it a long way toward the prize. Just no more sappy songs!

LaKisha Jones

I haven't been shy in my praise for Ms. Jones. Tonight is different only to assert that she is clearly separate-from-but-equal-to Melinda Doolittle, to whom I'd given a slight edge to first place last week. LaKisha (or Kiki, as Diana Ross presumptuously called her) was stunning, running slightly afoul of the A.I. rules by singing the Billie Holliday song, "God Bless the Child" (she got away with it because Diana Ross covered the song for the movie "Lady Sings the Blues."). If she doesn't win the crown, she'll have no trouble finding a recording contract of her own -- probably from 19 Records.

Melinda Doolittle

Well, we all know how I feel about Melinda, don't we? Tonight did nothing to change my opinion of her. She took a song I would otherwise have thought nothing about ("Home" from the movie, "The Wiz"), and made me interested in it. She is just that good. She's a pro, and unlike Brandon, she has been completely up to the challenge of stepping into the spotlight. Going out on a (very strong) limb, and saying that the Top 2 will be Melinda and LaKisha.

Phil Stacey
You know, I haven't really been that excited about Phil all along. In my opinion, bald doesn't work for him. But let's focus on the singing. What I've seen is a guy who gets utterly lost at the beginning of a song (particularly in the lower range), and then strengthens only when the chorus swells. Tonight, he was able to bring most of that strength to almost the entire song, although he does tend to get LOUD when he gets strong.

Sanjaya Malakar
Heavy sigh. Yes, he's adorable. As Diana Ross said, "he is love." OK, we get it. The sweet 17-year old has a heart of gold. Remember how he cried when he made it onto the finals and his sister didn't? Awww. Sweet. However, 'sweet' didn't help him reach the peaks of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough." He tried too hard and still didn't get anywhere close to the power and emotional impact that song almost innately carries. And someone needs to tell him to be more assertive when the stylists walk toward him -- grinning maniacally -- with hair irons in their hands. Run away!

Stephanie Edwards
Stephanie, Stephanie, Stephanie. Early on in the Top 24, she was among my favorites. And I still think that she's got talent. But she doesn't do herself any favors with song choice. A disco Diana Ross song ("Love Hangover") just didn't do it for me. I'll pull the Paula routine and comment on her look, though. She has the most sensational outfits. Tonight's dress was another stunner. I've yet to see her dressed in anything that wasn't absolutely gorgeous. I still have hope that she'll rapidly develop some mysterious personality trait and rebound. We'll see.

Ugh, it takes me too long to do these entries! I've called in my votes, but now I really need to go get some sleep. 'Night!

"Never Get Enough" by Raul Midon. I discovered this album when NPR did a piece on him. Once I listened to it, I was transformed. It is a magical album. He is magical.

Actual posting time: 12:42am zzzzzzzzzzzz..............

Saturday, March 10, 2007

kittehs, puppehs, et cetera

It should be a requirement for every person on the planet to make a daily visit to Cute Overload. Go there. Now. And later today. And again tomorrow, and every day thereafter. Go, I beg you. Go. You won't regret it.

You cannot resist!

"She Can't Help Herself" by Level 42. One of my favorite bands of all time. This is a great track from their 1991 album, "Guaranteed." They just released their first new record since then. I paid $30+ for it because it's only available as a British import. Well worth every penny. Follow the link on their name above and listen closely to words of the intro. They're so clever!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

quick critic

OK, the female American Idol contestants have two advantages over the men. First, more of them have more obvious talent. And second, all of them want to win and take the whole thing way more seriously.

I only have a few things to grumble about tonight, unlike last night, which was so icky, I reduced it to a tiny footnote in an entry otherwise about the Bicentennial! By the way, one more thing about last night. Sundance Head. I'd included him in my "honorable mention" category last week (which can be taken with a grain of salt because my only other H.M. was voted off), but this week, I've completely jumped off the Sundance bandwagon. He attempted to sing "Jeremy" by Pearl Jam, and it became painfully apparent to me why nobody except Eddie Vedder should ever sing a Pearl Jam song. Ted was baffled that I found it such an affront.

So, brief girl gripes. My biggest issue is with Antonella Barba. She should have been one of the first off, but she's managed to hang on through a few weeks of remarkably weak attempts at singing. As if that weren't bad enough in itself, tonight she had the audacity to mutilate the wonderful Corinne Bailey Rae song, "Put Your Records On." Shame, shame, shame!

Otherwise, Gina did a respectable Evanescence although she shouted it a bit -- Amy Lee, she's not. Sabrina proved again she can sing even if her power and flair were a bit lacking tonight. Jordin tried a bit too hard on a Pat Benatar song, but the talent peeked through. Haley was OK but ultimately forgettable.

Which leads me to the girl highlights. Here are my favorites, in order of my preference.

1. Melinda Doolittle. Holy cow. Let the judges say whatever they want about her timidity, Melinda is world-class. She may be shy and unassuming in pre- and post-singing chat, but when she's on stage, she is a superbly talented and entertaining professional. And her performances have never disappointed me. Not once. Not only my favorite female, but my favorite to win the Season 6 Idol crown.

2. Lakisha Jones. It's unfair to put Lakisha in second place, because -- much like Melinda -- her performances are always flawless. She has a confident and powerful voice and presence, and clearly should make a living as a singer (not a banker!). This is obviously some inexplicable differentiation in my head that puts Lakisha slightly behind in the ratings, but it's certainly not for lack of talent. She has also never given anything other than lustrous performances.

3. Stephanie Edwards. Also talented and strong, she's a little less consistent than Melinda and Lakisha. Still, she's got the ingredients: she just needs to cook them up the right way every week. Noteworthy though really meaningless in the context of singing well to win a contest -- her dress tonight was stunning. And her hairstyle reminds me of Fantasia.

With that, I bid bon soir. I'm tired, and even the quickest of blog entries takes me an hour. Someday in the not-too-distant future, I will have more time to dedicate to this process. You'll see.

"You Taught My Heart to Sing" by Dianne Reeves. The funny thing about iTunes shuffle is that I feel like I should always be entering different artists here, but there's always the possibility of hearing the same artist numerous times in a sitting. Usually, it's a sign that there is a larger number of songs by said artist in my library. But sometimes, it's just random. In this case, it is the former. I love Dianne Reeves and am in possession of all of her recordings.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


I would talk about Idol tonight, but I don't want to. How's that for temperamental? MSNBC's Test Pattern blog directed me to an online test to name all 50 states in less than 10 minutes (take the test here). Thanks to a song I learned many moons ago, I was not only able to name all the states in a mere 95 seconds, but I did it in alphabetical order.

When I was reading the Test Pattern comments, I realized that there are apparently legions of people who also learned this song. As I read more and more of the comments, I think I've concluded that it was taught to elementary school kids around the country for the Bicentennial. I remember quite distinctly being in 4th grade when Mrs. Watson-Jones taught it to us, which was 1976 for me.

I only remember the part that lists the states. I'd managed to completely block out the rest of it (except at the end where you shout very deliberately NEW HAMPSHIRE IS THE BEST!). Here it is for your listening enjoyment. Pay no attention to the massive typo on the title of this clip.

Did you ever learn this song? Can you still sing it? How well do you remember the Bicentennial?

I remember lots. My father, oldest brother, and I were in a Revolutionary War reenactment militia. My uncle who lived in Concord, Massachusetts (birthplace of the revolution) bought me a black plastic fife, which started my 8-year hobby of dressing up in authentic costumes, reenacting battles (the fifers were always at the front of the line and therefore the first to die), marching in parades, and traveling far and wide. A year or two later once my interest in fifing was cemented, my Dad had a rosewood fife carved for me. I also procured a buglehorn and penny whistle along the way, with a brass scabbard for the lot of them (well, except the buglehorn, which I flung over my shoulder on a satin rope).

By the time we journeyed to the South in the early 80s to do the later Revolutionary battles, I was regularly teaching spectators about the instruments and even showing them how to play. I especially remember Yorktown, which not only had over a million participants, but was even attended by President Ronald Reagan and France's President Francois Mitterand. The combined fife and drum corps was over a thousand musicians strong. There was a time delay from the front of the group to the back of it. It was cool.

At camp, a group of girls about my age came up to me and asked about the fife. I spent probably 15 minutes in explanation and showing each of them to play a note or two. When the lesson was over, one of them said to me in a serious Southern drawl, "Where're y'all from?" When I answered, "New Hampshire," she said in the same serious drawl, "I thought I detected a Norrrrrrthrnnn accent." She dragged out the word "Northern" as if she were picking up a mouse by its tail to toss it out of the house. Too funny.

Also in 1976, my parents bought a brand new Volkswagen bus. It was two-toned with blue on the lower half and white on the top (not quite like the one pictured, which is actually a 1959 model). The full-size roof rack was red, and it bore state-issued Bicentennial commemorative licence plates. We were a patriotic lot.

After a decade of having a VW bus as the family transport, this would be the final one for us. It lasted four years, after which, my parents bought the wildly popular 1980 Chevrolet Citation for $4000. It's amazing the weird little details I remember from my youth.

Time for bed. By the way, the boys were weak again tonight. Only Blake Lewis and Chris Sligh were worth the price of admission. OK, I guess I couldn't go completely without an Idol mention.

Song playing as I finish writing this post is a serious flashback from the beginning of the house music craze. "Good Life" by Inner City. I love this song. Five stars.