Thursday, February 25, 2010

Speak with Authority

My wife found this video:

Typography from Ronnie Bruce on Vimeo.

There's also this video about war money:

War Money from Ronnie Bruce on Vimeo.

I'm right there with you, Ronnie Bruce, if you think people should be able to choose not to give their money to finance wars. I just hope you'll agree with me that they have that same right to withhold their money for other things, rather than watching government waste it or worse.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Idol Season 9, Top 12 Males

Only a handful of men sang well tonight. If viewers voted for all of the top 24 at the same time, women against men, this first week would have been a rout, with 4 guys going home. So many of these guys just don't belong in the semi-finals. I think the judges made some big mistakes in Hollywood week.

I'll just list the good ones:

  1. Andrew Garcia ("Sugar We’re Going Down" by Fall Out Boy) - Nice performance. Perhaps, as the judges said, a little safe, but this guy is good enough that his "safe" version is superior to all the other performers. He'll go far into the finals.
  2. Casey James ("Heaven" by Bryan Adams) - A very close second. Putting aside the annoyance of the judges (and my wife) going on and on about his looks, he gave a good rendition of that song. He'd have to have some great pipes to try to out sing Bryan Adams, but I don't think he does, and so I don't think he should try that approach.
  3. Todrick Hall ("Since U Been Gone" by Kelly Clarkson) - I liked this much more than the judges or my wife. I didn't realize until I looked up on YouTube what the original pop song sounded like. Kudos to him for his originality. He was a bit rough around the edges, but showed real talent. I can't see him winning the top prize, but if he makes good song choices, he should make it several rounds into the finals.
  4. Lee Dewyze ("Chasing Cars" by Snow Patrol) - OK performance. When I replayed it, I liked it better than the first time. He seemed a bit nervous and constrained at times. He sounds, right now, like a cookie-cutter of the bands he's covered, so he'll need to show some more uniqueness to stand up to the competition.
  5. Michael Lynche ("This Love" by Maroon 5) - Decent performance tonight. He'll get to the finals easily, but I don't see him lasting long there.
  6. John Park ("God Bless the Child" by Billie Holiday) - Bad song choice for this venue. Still, he showed he's got a very good voice, which puts him ahead of everyone else not on this list.

Politics These Days

I haven't been able to bring myself to blog about politics since August, when the Town Hall and Tea Party protests (*) were so wretchedly run over by the pro-Democrat Party smear machine. The intensity of the anti-reason in the political arena disgusted and disheartened me to the point that it was downright painful to spend too much time watching the mess, as I could guess, in broad strokes, how it was going to play out. I could not have done justice to it all without spending far more time than I was willing to spend--time in which I would no doubt have been filled with anger by focusing on the particulars. I don't care to put myself through that level of stress.

If Republicans do manage to block Health Care Deform and the worst of the Obama/Reid/Pelosi agenda, if some small measure of rationality shines on the vermin who so hungrily eye our property and freedom, it may be a bit easier to spend time focusing on these things. But Republicans are unprincipled cowards, so I think there's a good chance they'll "compromise" far enough that the damage will still be horrific. Even if they managed to grow a spine and stop supporting the assault on individual rights, you can't vote your way to freedom. Voting got us where we are now.

And, while Obama's ambitions, if realized, would be devastating to us in the here and now, they're nothing compared to the impending doom of Social Security and Medicare. They've managed to build the nation's financial future smack dab on the top of a cryptodome, which is guaranteed to explode in the next couple decades.

* Clarification: I'm not among the Tea Party or Town Hall protester ranks. While many of these people that I've read or seen in interviews have, to one degree or another, an appreciation for how the government has screwed us with spending, bailouts, and Health Care Deform, just about all of them look to the ballot box to solve the problem. A handful have made noises about state secession, though I doubt many of those would be in favor of counties, cities, or individual people carrying forward the principle behind secession to its natural conclusion. In other words, they hate the current bosses, but only want to replace them, rather than allowing free, rational individuals be their own bosses. Furthermore, too much of their anger is directed at immigrants.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Idol Season 9, Top 12 Females

With a couple exceptions, the best singers rounded out the end of the show, leaving everyone before them in the dust. My list, in order of performance quality:
  1. Katie Stevens ("Feeling Good" by Michael Bublé) - She made the hairs on my neck stand on end. Her voice was very powerful, but expertly controlled. I didn't hear any pitch problems that Randy mentioned. Other performers were more unique, but none of them quite had the power and control. I think other performers will probably do better than her in coming weeks, but she's definitely finals material.
  2. Crystal Bowersox ("Hand in My Pocket" by Alanis Morrisette) - She showed great talent with the two instruments and a great voice, integrating them all well in her arrangement. Better than any real-life street performer I've seen. Ought to squeak by into the finals.
  3. Didi Benami ("The Way I Am" by Ingrid Michaelson) - Very sweet and captivating performance. This one particular performance reminded me a bit of Megan Joy from last year--Meagan at her best, that is. I'm hoping Didi shows more variety and doesn't follow Megan's tiresome quirky-warbly-voice-on-every-song gimick. She'll probably be in the finals, but will need to be great to stay long.
  4. Siobhan Magnus ("Wicked Game" by Chris Isaak) - She built from a mediocre start to a pretty good ending. Hauntingly beautiful. I expect she'll have even better performances to come.
  5. Lilly Scott ("Fixin' A Hole" by The Beatles) - Very nice performance from a very unique artist. Definitely one of my favorite performers to make it several weeks into the finals. To do so, she'll have to be very careful in her song selection to showcase her strengths.
The other performances were mediocre to horrible. On a side note, I thought Haeley Vaughn did much better than she was given credit for. However, it's hard for me to pinpoint exactly how to describe it, but something about her pronunciation, enunciation, timbre, or whatever grates my nerves when I hear her sing. It could be, as one judge suggested, her tendency to smile so much while she sings. I wonder if some intense coaching could help her to smooth out her technique.