Thursday, February 27, 2014

AI Season 13- Top 13 Elimination, 02-27-14

We cold-open on an oddly choreographed Group Sing. Everyone is walking down hallways, and bumping into each other, and riding dolly carts, and looking into mirrors. They group up in twos and threes and finally end up onstage. They're singing a medley, but I only recognize the last tune (Radioactive) because every third auditioner sings that song these days. Everyone is dressed in some version of white and/or denim, and Emily is dressed in a lot of belly button. There is, however, no Pointy Pose.

Ryan is wearing a charcoal suit whose fabric has faint cris-cross lines. His tie is wine with little blue dots which match his blue pocket square. He says that 71million votes were cast, but since we can cast 1 million votes apiece, I don't think the total means a whole lot.

JLo's dark sparkly mini is mini enough that she rucks it down on her walk across the stage. Her top has matchy sparkles. It has a round neckline and plain, short sleeves. Her hair is pulled up into a severe pony tail. Keith's hair has no semi-side part tonight. HCJ is dressed exactly like HCJ.

We get clips of the kids heading out in assorted vans after last night's taping. They ride to a restaurant for supper, and it appears that they all get along well. There are a lot of laughs (and a lot of  talking with full mouths).

The Silver Stools of Despair are on stage tonight, and since there are three of them, I assume only one kid will go home.

Ryan gets right down to it, calling Malaya, Jena, Ben, and Alex down. Randy adds his bit of babble about each one. I will report what he says tonight, but I refuse to do it every week.

Malaya (unhooked bibs, a white hankie-print shirt with black short sleeves): Randy says the song got the best of her.
Jena (white jeans, and a white and black top): Randy says she did a good job.
Ben (untied white bow tie looped around his neck, denim jacket, jeans): Randy says he played too fast.
Alex (white jacket, white shirt, white pants rolled up, no socks): Randy says he's talented.

(Note: See why this is a one time thing?)

Malaya goes to the Stools. She is subdued.

Keith is tasked to name 5 things about himself in 20 seconds: I only catch that he was named after a jockey.

Last year's winner Candice Glover's album was finally released this week, to absolutely no notice or sales, which is too bad, because she has an amazing voice. On stage, she has a raspberry glimmer in her elegant hair. She's wearing a black long dress with a deeply scooped neck (Candice has herself some bazooms, which are highlighted in this dress). Her black leather jacket has a flared bottom (and sleeves), raggedy edges, and an elaborate applique on the back. Her makeup is glittery and her hoop earrings are huge. She looks fantastic. She sounds fantastic too, on a retro 70's sounding R&B song. She may actually be singing a medley from her album. I loved her last year, and I love her still.

HCJ's 5 Things: He always wanted to play football, likes fishing (especially tuna), was an amateur boxer for one match, and has never seen Keith Urban naked.

Ryan calls down M.K., Sam, Majesty, and Dexter.

M.K. (in a white on white leopard print sweatshirt, and low-slung white jeans, and the ever-present backwards ball cap): Randy thinks she needs to get moving on stage.
Sam (faux white tux jacket with black piping over black jeans): Randy says he needs to be a better performer.
Majesty (in black and white denim and a worried expression): Randy says she needs to enunciate more clearly.
Dexter (in a denim vest over a white shirt): Randy says Dexter needs to make songs his own.


Ryan sends M.K. to the Stools of Despair. M.K. despairs.

Keith found some British teenager to inflict on us. Jake Bugg has Peter Noone hair and perhaps the most nasal voice I've ever heard. His stripped down band sounds totally 60's, but I am not in the least tempted to buy his album, no matter how much Keith loves it.

JLo's 5 things: her kids are her life, she eats a chocolate chip cookie every day, she loves to give makeovers, and is a workaholic. She has two kids, so that does add up to five.

HCJ ambushes Ryan and makes him recite a list too: his first pet was a goldfish named Sheila, he loves to eat at the food court, he played the recorder in school, and has also never seen Keith naked.

Ryan calls the rest of the kids down.

C.J.(denim): Randy says he was pitchy, though he doesn't actually use that word.
Kristin (blue jeans with white sides and pockets, a pale chambray short sleeved top): Randy says she needs to show more emotion.
Emily (all I notice is the belly shirt): Randy says she lacked edge.
Caleb (denim blazer): Randy says he's a real rocker.
Jessica (lots of denim clothes, plus a shirt tied around her waist): Randy says she needs to sell it.

And with no buildup, or gradual whittling, Kristin joins Malaya and M.K. on the stools.

And then with no build-up, M.K. is saved, to my immense relief.

The Judge's Save is still in play this year, but there's no way they're going to use it so soon in the season. Ryan sends Malaya back to the rest, and Kristin (with a red lipstick smooch from Malaya on her cheek) sings while the judges pretend that they're actually contemplating keeping her around. JLo is crying, but I feel exactly the same way about Kristin as I did last night, maybe even a little more annoyed, since several really good singers were given the boot so she could Pageant Smile her way to being the first one eliminated.

And then our DVR began recording 2 separate shows, and I missed the very last minutes of the episode, so next week's theme is still a mystery.

Thursday Tab- Dolls by Berta and Elmer Hader

Something a little different this week, some assembly dolls, likely from magazines in the 20's, drawn by Berta and Elmer Hader.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

AI Season 13- Top 13 Performance, 02-26-14

(Note Added the Morning After Posting: I take notes while watching the show, and write up my recap immediately afterward, so we'll all pretend that garbling the song titles is funny...okay?)

We open with clips of the Top 13, and then some previous rejectees, including the jerk ass who insulted the judges and offered to help JLo with her boobs. I really didn't need to remember him. The Top 13, however, are happy happy happy to be here, though I still don't know why Emily Piriz or Kristin O'Connor are still around.

Tonight Ryan is wearing a gray shiny suit that looks like it's made of polished cotton, a white shirt open at the neckline, and a white pocket square. His vertical hair is slightly more blonde. He says that our new American Idol will be named in *three short months*. Oh Ryan, I do not think those words means what you think they mean.

He calls the kids out on stage, and Malaya is still hyper. All of them file through a gantlet of young audience members, high fiving them with various degrees of enthusiasm (Malaya being on the high end of the scale, Alex, who looks physically pained by the process, at the lower).

JLo is wearing a long-sleeved, blue lace belly shirt with a high, blue leather collar, and a matching short lace skirt. Her hair is braided back on one side and sort of swept to the other, and she has very smoky eyes tonight. Keith is in a denim jacket and his hair has been restyled into a sort of a highlighted, side-part bed head. HCJ is not wearing his glasses, but he is wearing a black jacket with leather shoulders.

Ryan announces that tonight's theme is This is Me. Then he signals a pre-taped clip of the kids describing the bazillion ways we can all vote. One improvement is that each finalist has been assigned a permanent number, which he or she will keep from week to week, as long as he or she survives the competition. One not-so-much-an-improvement is that we can begin voting now. I mean right now, before the show even starts. Before anyone performs. So, tell me again, why we should listen to them? Ryan also says that each kid will be ambushed and charged to name 5 things about him or herself in 20 seconds. This ought to be fun.

#1. Dexter is: scared of spiders, does do-it-yourself dentistry, got back on the horse right after he was bucked off, kissed his first girl at age 5, at the top of the slide. He's wearing a black, long-sleeved Henley and dog tags. His hair is almost aggressively curly, but it looks good on him. He's also sporting a bit of a scruff. He's using an electric guitar to play some upbeat twangy country song, and he does fine with it.
Keith: Dexter is likeable, and that was a good cover song. Now he needs to figure out how to put his stamp on it.
JLo: Ditto, and perhaps sing more in his lower register.
HCJ: Maybe the in-ear monitors caused the pitch issues because Dexter was out of tune.

#2. Malaya is: 5'2", afraid of dogs, plays lots of instruments, wears glasses, and loves everyone. She's wearing loosish red leopard-print pants, a short-sleeved black leather top, and gold high-tops. Her curly hair is soft and beautiful, and she has bright red lipstick. I have no idea what she's singing but it has lots of words. Lots and lots, of which I can only understand about one in twenty. But it's high energy, and Malaya is always entertaining, if just a tad exhausting.
JLo: Loves the energy, but not the best vocal.
HCJ: Mentions intonation, which is Connickspeak for pitchy.
Keith: Contagious energy, but stay in control of it.

#3. Kristin is: best friends with quadruplets, likes the Lindy Hop, is better at math. And then she ran dry. She's wearing a short sleeved waist length top and a short tight skirt which both look like they were heavily spattered with red and blue paint. She's wearing a necklace made of about 20 rings strung on a velvet ribbon. It looks heavy. She's singing Kelly Clarkson's Beautiful Disaster, and smiling throughout, just like a beautiful pageant princess.
HCJ: Says that Kristin is a perfect Pop Princess (Note: Kristin smiles as though that was a compliment.) but has no connection to the meaning of the song.
Keith: Showed dymanics.
JLo: Don't overthink, just sing.

#4. Ben loves: sports, Keith Urban, kangaroos, sky diving, and making trouble. He's wearing a black shirt and a black vest, a yellow tie, and a black leather ball cap. He's singing Folsom Prison Blues, which would have sounded better a whole lot slower. Ben is singing this like it's a race and he's in last place, shouting and often skirting the melody altogether. I have liked Ben in the past, but I don't like this at all.
Keith: Exact quote: That was particularly brisk.
JLo: liked the tempo.
HCJ: Best performance of the night so far. (Me: Seriously?)

#5. C.J. Harris does not like: heights, icy roads, shooting deer, or bad attitudes. He does like: religion. He's wearing a faded-looking black denim snap-front shirt, a black and gray ball cap, and tan pants. His guitar strap is very wide. He's singing Darius Rucker's Radio in a growly voice. I like this though mostly I'm taken with how much it sounds like "I'm Your Weatherman", from Groundhog Day. I have refrained from mentioning C.J.'s girlfriend because I never know quite how to describe her. She's certainly happy for C.J. and an enthusiastic fan, but she's a little... rough...
JLo: That was fun but there were pitch problems. (Note: when JLo mentions them, you know they were bad).
HCJ: Misses the cry in C.J.'s voice and thought it was only an okay song choice.
Keith: Likes the song and what it showed about C.J.

#6. M.K. is: a mediocre snowboarder, loves soccer, the song Single Ladies, and would like to be able to dance. She's wearing a pale rose tux jacket with black velvet lapels, and matching pants (slouched very low on her hips). She has yet another of those stupid backward ball caps perched impossibly high on her head. For the first time, she's wearing makeup. It's understated but the mascara is visible. She looks quite pretty, though I'm not sure *pretty* is her goal. She says she's singing Satisfaction, and I am confused when the song is plainly not the Rolling Stones tune. I have no idea what this song is, or what it's saying. There is not much melody, and M.K.'s voice seems uncertain and wavery here and there, though that may be the way the song is supposed to be sung. It's one of the oddest performances I've ever seen on this show.
HCJ: Notes the makeup, and enjoyed the performance.
Keith: loves the look, M.K. needs more confidence.
JLo: Dances in her seat, loves it.

#7. Majesty is: only 5 because she was born in a leap year, left handed, has a goofy foot, likes ballet, and loves her big hair. She's wearing a yellow, black, and sparkly flowery print top with openwork embroidery, and a really confusing black and white skort- the back is mostly black and obviously shorts with white hems, the front is like a half black skirt with a white pleated lower half. It's really odd, and it looks totally wrong with that top. Her hair is adorable though, in a curly updo with red highlights. I have no idea what Majesty is singing, but it's upbeat in a sort of retro-40's way, one of those songs with lots and lots of syllables sung quickly. I think a couple of her later notes are shrill, but she's so darn cute that I really don't care.
Keith: Killer song choice.
JLo: Loves everything about Majesty.
HCJ: His favorite thing is watching Majesty grow in skill and confidence.

#8. Jena is: BFF with her brother, really a brunette, loves The Wizard of Oz, and has changeable eye color (from gray to blue). Her coal black hair is curly. She's wearing a black studded vest over a gray studded knit top with cap sleeves, and gray acid washed jeans. Also black boots. She's singing a Coldplay song, the first sort of ballad of the evening. Some of it is good, some of it isn't.
JLo: Loves the nuances in Jena's voice, and was glad she could pull this song off.
HCJ: Felt Jena's connection to the song.
Keith: Pitchy at first, and then leaned into it.

#9. Alex: loves thrills, writes poetry, is a romantic, and loves coffee. He's wearing a maroon silk blazer over a blue print shirt with a mustard print collar. His skinny jeans are very much high-water, and he's not wearing socks. He's singing Jason Mraz in a very Jason Mrazy way. I like Alex's voice and I like this performance, though he keeps lifting one leg and jiggling like he has to go to the bathroom.
HCJ: Good song choice but slightly out of tune, and maybe a tad too introspective.
Keith: Felt pulled into the performance.
JLo: Caught up in the song as well.

#10. Jessica is: a clean freak, loves ghosts, loves animals, loves ponies, and is not a band geek. Her pink streaks seem a little subdued tonight, maybe slightly more pale shade. She's wearing a white jacket with chrome spikes sticking up out of the shoulders, a red top, and black, red, and white print pants. She's singing a Pink song, something about something chasing butterflies and the background projections are all very spooky and gothic and frenetic. It's a little distracting. I liked the beginning of her performance better than the end.
Keith: Bold but cool song choice.
JLo: Goosies!
HCJ: Mentions the crazy projections, nice job.

#11: Emily: went to chef camp, changes her eye color, and whistles weirdly. She's wearing a sparkly silver dress that screams Mother of the Groom. She stands by a piano and sings Gray & Gray. This performance is not even pageant, it's more High School Musical Review. Her vocals are fine, but her facial expressions are totally rehearsed. There's not an ounce of life or conviction anywhere.
JLo: It was a tough song but she liked the emotion and the fact that Emily stayed in tune.
HCJ: Emily did exactly what she was supposed to do here (Read: Not sing about sex for a change)(at least overtly).
Keith: Technically fine but don't forget to add some edge.

#12: Sam: does not like spiders, has smallish feet, stepped on a sea urchin once, and broke his ankle falling down stairs. He's wearing a brown leather jacket over a green tee, and cuffed jeans. His cheeks are still pink and his hair still lives in ClarkKentville. He's playing his guitar and singing something from Matchbox 20. Hey! I actually recognize this song! Sam began weakly but warmed into it. He bounces a lot while he plays, and is not actually connecting with either the song or the audience.
HCJ: Sam's voice is too perfect for the song. It was nice. (Note: again, not a compliment).
Keith: The whole thing was a tad slow.
JLo: Sam is a quiet storm and adorable, but a little like a deer in the headlights.

#13: Caleb is questioned while brushing his teeth, so his 5 things are totally garbled: Jason is a cow, something about squirrels, and bandage mush. He's wearing a black velvet jacket with spangly gold braid trim sewn in curlicues on the sleeves and down the front. His hair is cleaner than usual. He's singing Pressure in time by Rival Sons. This is a perfectly serviceable rock performance, with lots of shouting and head shaking, and mike-stand brandishing. The whole thing ends with multiple steam jets shooting up from the floor behind Caleb. Holy Whoa! Taylor Hicks is actually in the house!!!
Caleb gets a Standing O from Keith and JLo.
Keith: Love love love, find an original angle
JLo: Caleb is ready for life on the road.
HCJ: Caleb killed it.

Given that we're encouraged to vote early and often, this is now more than ever a popularity contest rather than a singing competition. So I have no idea how the votes will go, and absolutely no notion of which kid will go home tomorrow night (and since we have only *3 short months* until this is over, I have to assume they're going home one at a time from now on). But here are my rankings:

Top 3: Alex, Majesty, Caleb (in that order)
Bottom 2: Ben, Kristin

Most Perplexing: M.K.

Photo Challenge January Pictures

I forgot to post the January Photo Challenge Highlights... Forthwith:


My town

Found- on the beach in Santa Barbara



Man made


Photographer's Choice

Black and White

 What is it?

What it is


Friday, February 21, 2014

Spindle City

Remember the beautiful hand-painted spindle that my kids got me for Christmas, after seeing my posted admiration for it on Facebook? I tried to buy that spindle, but when Nancie McCraw, of BadFaerie Designs,  told me that it had been sold already (crafty crafty kids...), I ordered another, to be delivered whenever it was ready.

It came today.

Is it not glorious?

Even the sides are beautiful!


And a size comparison, with the bead tahkli thrown in just for fun. I can't wait to get to work with it!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

AI Season 13- Rush Week Elimination, 02-20-14

Ryan opens by mentioning that 75,000 contenders are now whittled down to 20. We segue into a recap of the last two nights, which I did already and don't intend to do again. We also hear clips of each of the Top 10 guys singing, and yes, I still feel exactly the same way that I did last night.

Ryan is wearing a black jacket over a black shirt with an open collar. JLo is wearing a complicated slinky halter dress. The black slim skirt hits at mid-knee. The front bodice is a diamond, with the bottom point tucked into the skirt and the top attached to the neck straps. The bodice back looks like a bra. Her hair is in a smooth topknot, and her makeup is nude-ish. HCJ has a black cloth shirt and glasses and Keith has a black tee shirt.

JLo explains that the Top 5 Gals and the Top 5 Guys, based on the last two days' votes, will be called down. And then from the remaining 10 kids, 5 will be called to sing again. After that, the judges will choose their 3 Wild Cards. Combined, they'll make the Top 13.

I settle in, waiting for  Top 20 Group Sing, but Ryan signals to lower the lights. Whoa, it's eight minutes into the show and we're already naming names. No filler, no Randy Jackson rambling, no clips of the kids visiting something. Results. Now. Who are you, and what have you done with my show?

So, in very short order, with no hoopla or stalling, Ryan announces the Top 10 Vote Getters:

#1. Malaya Watson, in a black top and acid washed jeans and huge hair. Malaya is hyper as hell, but happy.
#2. Ben Briley, looking like a bearded Andy Dwyer.
#3. Emily Piriz, in a light denim shorty jacket and high waisted flare-leg pants with a huge blue and white print.
#4. Alex Preston, in jeans short enough to show that he's not wearing socks.
#5. Jessica Meuse, in a black dress and long, lacy black cardigan.
#6. Dexter Roberts, wearing the same stuff he wore last night except his shirt is gray.
#7. Caleb Johnson, in a black jacket that is either velvet or no-wale corduroy, over a gray plaid shirt.
#8. Majesty Rose, wearing Aunt Mabel's house dress. Her hair is mushroomed up and restrained by a band of flowers.

Ryan finally remembers to mention that the finalists are being named in no particular order.

#9. M.K. Nobilette, in a black leather jacket and a stupid backwards ball cap. (Note: it's not the cap that I object to, or even the backwardness of it. It's the fact that it sits way up on top of her head, making her look like Justin Beiber. Why MK wants to remind me of that twerp is beyond me).
#10. Sam Wolfe, in a jacket with the sleeves pushed up to his elbows.

Well, that was amazing. In the entire history of the show, I've never seen anything dealt with in such a straight-forward manner. Of this grouping, I object only to Emily Piriz.

And without further ado, HCJ calls C.J. Harris as a Wild Card Hopeful. C.J. is wearing a blue oxford shirt and last night's Outback hat. He's singing his Hollywood solo, Bring It On Home. this is bluesy and heartfelt and I like it a lot.
HCJ- the band and C.J. were not together, it was not good.
JLo- loves the specialness of C.J.'s voice.
Keith- says C.J. drifted in and out emotionally.

Keith calls Jena *Not Jenna, Dammit* Irene. She's wearing a black leather jacket over a black top, and white jeans with wide black stripes down the side seam. She's sitting at the piano. I don't know this song, but she sounds good.
Keith- made good use of the moment.

Commercial Note: the more clips I see for Surviving Jack, the more I know that I will never, ever, ever watch that show.

JLo calls Spencer Lloyd... of course she does. This kid is a pretty, empty shell wearing a black leather jacket and playing a guitar. He's doing okay with this slow-dance song, except for that final note.
JLo- wanted to give Spencer another chance after last night, but is not sure now.

HCJ calls Bria Anai, who has ditched the glitter lips for tonight. She's wearing a pink, yellow, and black tiger print tank over a tube top, and a short, flared bold yellow and black print skirt. The camera better be careful, or we're going to get an undie shot shortly. Bria is singing It's A Man's Man's Man's Man's World, and this performance is far too shouty. The last note is painfully bad.
HCJ- Bria was all over the place, passionate but not in tune.

We're down to the final Wild Card selection. The camera pans over the rest of the kids sitting dejectedly, though all of them except Emmanuel smile weakly. Emmanuel is glowering. Or maybe plotting murder.

Keith calls Kristin O'Connor as the final Wild Card Hopeful. Seriously? I would even trade Mini Miley for her. And I definitely would have taken Savion Wright. Kristin is wearing pink tie-dyed pants with a high pleated waist and black stripes down the sides, and a black knit crop top with 3/4 sleeves. Wow, this performance is terrible, from beginning to end. Bad all the way through.
Keith- good but in the wrong key.

Judges: deliberate, confab, mumble, pretend to choose, mumble, confab, deliberate.
Wild Card Hopefuls: huddle hopefully on stage.
Of the five, I only like Jena and C.J.

And once again, with no fanfare, Keith names WC#1: Jena Irene
HCJ, with a really horrible pun, names WC#2: Kristin O'Connor (Note: sigh)
JLo names WC#3- C.J. (Note: Woot!)

So, next week The Top 13 perform, and more eliminations follow. Let the good times roll.

Thursday Tab- Juliet Jones Coloring Book

Juliet Jones was a comic strip, drawn by Stan Drake, in the '50s. She was evidently popular enough to get her own coloring book with paper doll insert pages.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

AI Season 13- Rush Week, Top 15 Guys, 02-19-14

Ryan opens in a solid gray suit with a red striped tie and a gold pocket square. His shoes are red. He gives a quick recap of the Top 10 Girls, with clips of them singing from last night (or maybe from the afternoon dress rehearsal- it really doesn't matter which). My opinions have not changed, I liked Majesty, Jessica, and Malaya, and I hope MK shines.
They're running another new animated title sequence. This one looks mechanical and sounds thumpy.
JLo is dressed to join Abba tonight, in very pale rose floaty flared trousers and a matching sparkly top. Her metal earrings are lacy and huge, her hair is straight and flat, and her eye shadow is pale.
Keith is wearing a red tee, and HCJ is in a brown suede jacket over a white tee. I think we've seen that jacket before.
Keith explains that the three judges watched all 15 guys sing earlier today, and they made their final choices at the last minute. The camera pans to the Top 10 Gals, and I can tell that liking MK's voice does not offset how much I hate the backwards ball cap perched high on her head.
Randy Jackson gives me the creeps, pure and simple. The show has improved vastly without him on it. I'm sorry he's back, but I hope his interference will be short-lived.
#1. So we get to the purpose of this two hours of air time. Keith calls Caleb Johnson down. Caleb auditioned formerly as a chunky nerd. Now he's Meatloaf Light. He's from Asheville, and I know for certain that they sell shampoo in Asheville. I wish Caleb knew that. Unless Randy says something particularly intelligent, or more likely, something particularly stupid, I'm not going to report on him at all though he will meet with each of the kids. Chris Daughtry, however, tells Caleb to keep his eyes open while singing, and to smile. On stage, Caleb holds the mike stand as he sings Stay With Me. It's a good uptempo song to open the show, and he does just fine with it.
Keith- Caleb has a cool soul, and it was the perfect song choice.
JLo- An amazing performance, the real deal.
HCJ- Strong opener.
#2. JLo calls C.J. Harris. I like C.J. Harris. Daughtry tells C.J. to ditch the guitar and just go with his voice. On stage, C.J. is wearing a blue plaid shirt, khaki pants, and a hat that I don't hate (write that one down, folks- it's not apt to happen again). C.J. is also wearing his guitar as he sings Shelter, by Ray LaMontagne. It starts weak, but he warms into it with his gritty voice. Keith listens with his Music Face on.
JLo- That was a beautiful thing, it made her smile.
Keith- Says C.J. is a blend of Dobie Gray and Johnnie Lang, and says that C.J. is a great Alabama boy (and I do hope that Keith is not taken to task for calling C.J. that- he clearly meant nothing racist in the comment).
HCJ- Mentions intonation and C.J.'s tendency to veer sharp.
Ryan announces that C.J. had a root canal yesterday. One thing AI is good for- dental work. Contestants with iffy teeth always come out with a brighter smile.
#3. HCJ draws out his intro, talking about what an entertainer #3 is, which of course can only mean Emmanuel Zidor. During coaching, Emmanuel struggles with his song choice, Best of My Love (the disco version, not The Eagles'). Emmanuel also sports blonde fuzzy hair, which thankfully has been dyed back to dark for tonight. He's wearing a black leather jacket over a shirt printed with that pyramid/eyeball combo made popular by the one dollar bill. Here's the deal with Emmanuel- I have no problem with flamboyance (not that Emmanuel has made an MK-style declaration of sexual preference), but man, he trowels it on so thickly that it comes off as parody and affectation, something he's doing purely for show. Every second of it feels forced. That said, he's doing just fine with this song.
HCJ- Cautions Emmanuel to maintain control on stage, and not to rely on the Big Notes.
Keith- Mentions that adrenalin can cause notes to go wonky.
JLo- Loves her some Emmanuel, though maybe not that song. JLo also has Emmanuel sing something else in a gospel-y style because she thinks Emmanuel didn't show his proper self off properly during his performance. This is totally unfair- no one else gets to remedy a bad song choice with a mini-encore.
Have I mentioned that we get a picture in picture during the commercials, showing the live action during the break? JLo getting her hair brushed and makeup checked, Keith being re-floofed, HCJ getting water, stage hands sweeping, and Ryan laughing with the judges. It's interesting.
#4. Keith says that all of the judges agreed on Sam Wolfe from the start. Sam, of the very pink cheeks and Clark Kent hairdo, is singing Babylon in a denim jacket over a hoodie, and playing a guitar. Sam is not exactly loose, but he's trying to relax, and he's doing really well with this song. Sam's voice sounds older than 17.
Keith- People like Sam, and Sam will continue to get better and better.
JLo- Sam has a sweet quality and perfect pitch.
HCJ- Says it was a good performance, and looks forward to watching Sam's confidence grow.
Commercial Note: From the looks of the clips they're showing, I am going to do myself a major favor and never ever watch Surviving Jack. I'm pretty sure it would give me an apoplexy.
#5. JLo talks about George Lovett, who puts in his ear pieces even before his name is called. Adam Lambert helps George with his stage presence on a Bruno Mars song. On stage, George is wearing a long-sleeved white crew neck knit shirt, tan pants and a blue shirt tied around his waist. The sleeves of the tied shirt hang in front like a chambray loin cloth. I am not familiar with this song, but I'm pretty sure that Mr. Mars is not nearly so... melodramatic... with it. And I'll bet he does not pronounce the word *you* either as *yeh* or *yooo-ooo-ooo-ooo*.
JLo- Compliments George's energy and then says *um*, which is not a good sign. She then goes on to tell George to control the runs a bit more, and when JLo docks a kid for singing runs, you can be sure they're egregious.
HCJ- Reiterates what JLo just said, only more bluntly.
Keith- That song did not play to George's strengths.
#6. Ryan does a West wing talking/walking bit and HCJ calls Dexter Roberts down, though I'm pretty certain that Ben Briley thought it was going to be him. Ben did everything but jump up and head to the stage. Dexter is beefily adorable in a white shirt and jeans. He's singing some country song, and is completely and totally comfortable on stage. It's a smooth and pleasant performance of a rather lyrically complex song.
HCJ- The performance was good, and certainly good enough for American Idol, but maybe not individual enough to survive out in the real world.
Keith- Says exactly the same thing using different words.
JLo- Admires the easy way Dexter has with a song, and his confidence.
#7. Keith calls Alex Preston, our less pale, shorter-haired Tiny Tim. Alex admits to being an awkward human being. On stage, he's wearing a black jacket over a white tee, and playing a guitar. As always, I am surprised by Alex's voice. He is nailing this complex song- it's a very good performance, subdued and subtly powerful.
Keith- Says that was the best song  choice of the night.
JLo- Thinks Alex is an interesting artist with a good groove.
HCJ- Compliments a specific guitar chord. (Note: this is high praise coming from HCJ.)
#8. JLo calls Malcolm Allen, formerly of the ever-present bow tie and glasses. He's wearing neither tonight. Instead, he's in a ruby colored work shirt and tan jeans. What the heck is this song? Malcolm is mumbling, and I swear that he's singing an entirely different tune than what the band is playing. This whole performance is terrible.
JLo- Says the performance was weak, but she still got GOOSIES. (Note: JLo's GOOSIES need new ears.)
HCJ- Says Malcolm can sing runs properly, but he over did it and was sharp throughout.
Keith gets cut off by the band before he can give his critique, but Ryan gives up his post-performance patter to allow Keith to say what HCJ said, only without the booing.
#9. HCJ finally calls Ben Briley, who must have be pretty anxious by now. On stage, Ben wears a black vest over a gray shirt and a bright orange tie. He also has on a backwards hat. He sings a country song and sounds fine with his gritty voice. I'm not so pleased with the guitar solo interlude, but at least it doesn't last too long.
HCJ- Talks a lot about the large knot in Ben's tie, as though they weren't pressed for time.
Keith- Thinks Ben's vocal was better than his guitar playing.
JLo- Ben comes alive on stage.
#10. So, we're down to the last choice. I hope it's Maurice, with the dreds and the four adorable kiddos. But Keith calls Spencer Lloyd, who strikes me as nothing more than a generic pretty boy. Randy tells Spencer to play his guitar, Adam Lambert tells him to ditch it. On stage, in what I think might actually be a white leather hoodie, Spencer sings without a guitar. Maybe he should have kept it- his voice is weak and his performance style consists mostly of prancing and thumping his chest. But he's cute and the girls love him.
Keith- Dings Spencer for song choice and vocal quality.
JLo- Says the crowd likes him. (Note: this is very faint praise from her.)
HCJ- Says this song was not Spencer's strong suit, and that it was not a good performance.
There's not enough time left for a clip show of tonight's performances, or a rerun of the voting numbers. Ryan brings the dejected rejects out for one last bow. I have time to notice that Maurice's pants have a very weird leather insert on the front of his pants, like a shiny non-elastic pregnancy panel. Now I'm really sorry I didn't get to see them on stage, moving around.
Ryan hastily explains that tomorrow night, the 5 girls and the 5 guys who got the most votes will move on, and each judge will choose one Wild Card to join them in a Top 13. We'll see if that's what actually happens.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

AI Season 13- Rush Week, Top 15 Girls, 02-18-14

Okay, so Dish Network lost the Fox feed for the first approx. 14 minutes of the show. It flashed back on with the Top 15 Girls all sitting together nervously, and JLo talking.

#1. JLo calls Majesty Rose. Evidently Randy Jackson was a large presence during *Rush Week*. He interviews Majesty about her poofy hair. Adam Lambert, dressed almost mournfully (no eye makeup) coaches Majesty on Pharell's Happy. On stage, Majesty is wearing wine colored flood pants and a cute jacket with horizontal stripes. Her hair is, indeed, poofy. Majesty is adorable, but I think she's a little more tightly wound than usual, though given that she did not know that she was going to sing until  just that moment, it's understandable.
JLo- in a long sleeved, blue, sparkly dress, beautiful hair and makeup, and a couple of those rings that span the length of an entire finger, was charmed.
HCJ- says that Majesty is in the Top 10 Girls, which makes me wonder if I missed five eliminations in that first segment.
Keith: His new hairstyle adds too much height to his already oblong face.
Anyway, all three judges like Majesty.

Okay, so it looks like I didn't miss any eliminations- the judges are just going to call out the Chosen 10 to sing, one at a time, and the others are going to sit there for the whole live show and be tortured and then sent home. Nice going, Show- you've elevated meanness to a whole new level.

#2. HCJ begins his choice by saying that she's a nurse, and Kristin O'Connor jumps up and runs down before he even says her name. Good thing there isn't more than one nurse in the Top 15. Randy talks about nothing and Kristin wears a Debby Boone hat during her interview. Chris Daughtry advises Kristin to do something, but I'm not sure what. I really am not impressed with Kristin. On stage, she's wearing a very heavy-looking silvery spangled sleeveless top over raggy black jeans. She sings with a lot of teeth, and I am still not particularly impressed.
HCJ: praises Kristin, but the praise has a faint feel to it.
Keith- Likes Kristin's range, which is not quite the same as liking Kristin's voice. Or liking Kristin.
JLo- likes Kristin's tone, and then goes on to critique the actual performance.

#3.Keith calls down Brianna Oakley. Randy asks Brianna what she needs to work on as a performer, and then interrupts her when she tries to answer. Randy tells her to loosen up and connect with the audience more. On stage, Brianna is wearing a tight dress with a light gray chevron pattern and odd black piping and outlines. You all know how much I dislike mullet skirts (longer in back than in the front), but this mullet skirt is perhaps the ugliest one I've ever seen. Brianna perches half on and half off the stool to sing. She interprets the advice to connect with the audience by opening her eyes very widely, which is amazing given that her false eyelashes are huge and look very heavy.
Keith- loves her tone but says that she didn't find her zone until the last quarter of the song.
JLo- notes that Brianna is scared and did not do that connecting thing that Randy mentioned.
HCJ- cautions not to over use the Big Notes, that dialing it back once in a while is a good thing.

#4. JLo calls Jena (not Jenna) Irene. The Irene is new, but the Jena not Jenna is old enough to be boring. Randy calls her Jenna. Daughtry tells Jena to keep her eyes steady, that darting them around makes her look frightened. On stage, Not Jenna is wearing a loose, belted pale gray dress with drop shoulders, and dramatic bracelets. She has really pretty eyes. I like Not Jenna in general, but this version of Paint it Black is pretty bad- screechy and overwrought, and far too high in her register.
JLo- the performance had a nice sultry quality.
HCJ- asks Not Jenna if she understood the meaning of the song (Not Jenna chirps: Darkness).
Keith- was more enthusiastic about this one than the previous couple of performances.

#5. HCJ calls Bria Anai, she of the glittery lips. Randy asks Bria about her style (Appropriate Rhianna, Bria says...). On stage, she's wearing black sparkly skinny pants, a white blazer over a black top, very red fingernails, and red glittery lipstick. Bria sings with lots of fist pumping and squatty moves. I would much rather hear her sing in her lower register.
HCJ: cautions Bria to beware of being shouty.
Keith: says to dial it back and let her voice carry the performance.
JLo- says exactly the same thing as HCJ and Keith, but more gently.
Only HCJ gets booed.

Oh- Ryan is wearing a natty charcoal striped suit, and his front hair is reaching for the rafters.

#6. Keith calls Marielle Sellars, aka Mini Miley. Randy talks about Marielle's hair (floopy Mohawk). Adam tells Marielle to slow down on Roar. On stage, Marielle is wearing a black cropped halter top and black pants with a lot of belly button showing, red very tall shoes, and a hair tumor. The thing about Roar is that it's more of a chant than a song- it only gets melodic in the chorus, and even then it's pretty limited. Katy Perry is really the only one who can fool an audience into thinking that *oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh* is a lyric, and that possibly because she sometimes shoots fireworks from her boobs. I would have liked this so much better if Marielle had listened to Adam Lambert, and slowed the whole thing down.
Keith- not the best song, not the best tempo, not the best performance.
JLo- wished it had been sung slower and with more heart.
HCJ- mentions the importance of singing in tune.

#7. JLo calls Jessica Meuse, the Pink Streaked Drama Magnet. Randy asks Jessica what she's going to sing. Daughtry asides that Jessica's voice is stronger than her guitar playing, and he gently tries to talk her into ditching the guitar. On stage, Jessica is in all black, playing a huge-ass guitar. That said, this is a good performance. Jessica's voice is full and mature, and she does well with what I think is a Carrie Underwood song.
JLo- mentions visible nervousness.
HCJ- mentions intonation and a tendency to go sharp.
Keith- cautions against smiling during sad songs.

#8. HCJ calls Emily Piriz. Randy reminds Emily that HCJ already expressed discomfort with a young girl singing sexually explicit songs in general, and Emily's current song choice in particular. Emily says that she's singing the emotion of the song, not the words. On stage, Emily wears a black crop top with long gold tassels, and leather pants. HCJ is right, this song is downright creepy, what with lyrics about being shaved bald and being put on the floor and all. And Emily, knowing that one of the three judges on the show she hopes to win is deeply uncomfortable with that song, decided to sing it again. I suspect that choice will come back to bite her.
HCJ- asks Emily to speak the first two lines of the song, which Emily cannot do without giggling (btw, Emily's dad is enjoying all of this hugely, which is more than a little creepy all by itself). He asks Emily if this is the kind of music that she really wants to sing, and asks her what the song is really about. Emily declares it to be about female empowerment.
Keith- reminds Emily to trust her own artistry, not to sing into a mirror to try to become more Rock.
JLo- loves Emily.

#9. Keith calls M.K. Nobilette, which thrills me. Randy tells M.K. to give it her all. With her backwards hat, M.K. looks far more Justin Beiberish than anyone should, including Justin Beiber. On stage, she is wearing a gray linen blazer and a tweedy knit cap. She starts out sitting on a stool and then stands up. M.K.'s pants are falling off. Pull up your pants, M.K. I have been waiting to hear more of her voice, and though her nerves are plainly showing, this is a really nice, subtle and subdued performance. M.K.'s mamas are very proud.
Keith- has to talk over the cheering crowd (the biggest audience reaction of the evening so far) to compliment the perfect song choice.
HCJ- M.K. is elegant and artistic and belongs in the Top 10.
JLo- praises the simplicity of the performance.

Remember last week when we didn't know whether Neko Starr or Ben Briley would make it to the Guys' Top 15? Ben, in a vest, tie, jeans and a ball cap, and Neko in the kind of stupid hat that only Bruno Mars can wear without looking ridiculous, stand on stage to hear that Ben made it. Neko seems to take the news well.

#10. So, we have 6 girls left, and only 1 spot. I like a couple of the remaining girls, and would trade them for Emily and Kristin. JLo callas Malaya Watson, Tuba Girl. Randy asks Malaya what kind of artist she wants to be. Malaya says a combo of Ray Charles and BeyoncĂ© (Rayonce, she says, laughing). On stage, Malaya is wearing a leather biker jacket over jeans, and the biggest hoop earrings I've ever seen. Those things are the size of saucers. She is very very  nervous, but she also has a great voice, which is suited to this bluesy song. Malaya is kind of hyper, and just a little odd, and I suspect she would be exhausting in person. But she can sing, and she's totally adorable.
JLo- (side note: I just noticed that JLo brought The Cleavage out to play tonight) loves Malaya. Loves, loves, loves her.
Keith- enjoys Malaya's confidence but thinks the performance was just a tinch over the top.
HCJ- says he will enjoy watching Malaya settle into herself.

So, those are The Judges' Top 10 Gal Picks. Voters will choose 5 to move on.

Tomorrow night, we do it again with The Guys. The results will be on Thursday, and each judge gets to choose a wild card kid. All I can say is someone better bring back Savion Wright.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Boil and Bubble

I'm still in Tahkli Phase, spinning assorted organic cotton sliver colors, and plying them with a commercial yarn (80% cotton, 20% wool, Brown Sheep, fingering weight, on a cone).

This is a little over 4 ozs, probably about 360 yds, of natural colored, handspun cotton yarn. The whitest white is Acala cotton. The slightly darker white is Buffalo (the color name, it's still cotton) from Fox Fibre. The Medium is a stripey Fox Fibre, as is the darkest brown.These hanks had been washed but not boiled.

General wisdom has it that handspun cotton yarn needs to be boiled, both to set the twist and to bring out the color. Fox Fibre specifically is supposed to get darker with each washing. However, I didn't want to bring the yarn to an active boil because the plied strand has some wool in it. Just boiling will will not felt it, but I still didn't want to take a chance on sudden temp changes. That's several weeks of work up there- caution was my byword.

And then last night, I decided to do it anyway. A little Googling told me that Fox Fibre needs an alkaline boil, and my faucet provides all the alkalinity anyone would need. So I simmered the skeins gently. The color changed instantly and dramatically.

Here are the hanks, dry after their hot bath.

Look at the color change! (the little foof is unspun cotton)

The change in the Buffalo color is more subtle, but it's still obvious.

Even the acala darkened a bit.

This sliver is supposed to come out tweedy. It did.

I am really happy with these yarns. And I have no intention of putting the tahkli away any time soon. Next up on the spindle, some Fox Fibre green.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Destash Sale!

I've mentioned, here and there, that I am on a Yarn Moratorium, that I will buy (almost) no new yarn until I use up a significant portion of that which I have on hand. It's been about 3 years and I've stuck to that vow pretty well, and... the yarn levels have barely changed. So I decided to speed things up a bit.

Over the next several weeks, I'll be listing yarn lots for sale on eBay. Most of them will be Buy-it-Now, and most will have free shipping, and most will be listed for US bidders only (though if you see one you really want and you're out of the US, let me know- shipping will be extra).

I listed 17 auctions for discontinued Rowanspun 4 ply yarn yesterday, in 17 different colors, lots varying from 11 skeins, to 1, each can be purchased individually or in lots of whatever number you like. Within an hour, 9 of the colors had sold out. But that means there are still many available, including these (at the time of uploading this post, the auctions were all still up and running):

Multiple skeins of each color are listed. At one time, I thought I would put up kits with my original patterns. That never happened. It's lovely lovely lovely yarn, but I simply will not use it.

Here's a link to one of the auctions, and from there you can see the rest. Or you can search out my username: kmtayloratnvcnet    (if that confuses you, it's an old e-mail address).

Thanks for looking, and I promise not to do this too often.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

AI Seaason 13- Top 30 Reveal, Part 2, 02-13-14

Have I  mentioned the nifty new animated opening segment? It's nifty, and it's new.

So, yesterday we were left hanging with C.J. Harris and Casey Thrasher waiting for The Judges' verdict. I really want C.J. to stay, but surprise... Casey is #18 and #19.

#20. Marielle Sellars has a raspberry Mohawk (currently deflated). She looks like Miley Cyrus, she sounds like Miley Cyrus, and she dresses like Miley Cyrus did about six months ago (before she discovered nudity). When Marielle gets the good news, she momentarily forgets how to breathe.

#21. Jena Ascuitto's mother should have spelled her first name Gina, so people wouldn't constantly mispronounce it. It's  not *Jenna*. Anyway, Jena sang an original song for her solo, in a top with black transparent sleeves with large polka dots. For the Long Walk she's in a striped blouse over jeans, and I suspect she's happy enough not to mind any mispronunciations.

#22. Caleb Johnson apparently has an entire collection of regular jeans which have been made into flares with print fabric inserts sewn in at the outside of the leg hem. For his solo, he wears a burgundy velour jacket as he sings Radioactive. For the Long Walk, he's in dark over dark with  blue suede vest and an ugly hat. I would not mention the audience vote, except that the Twitter folks got their prediction totally wrong- 80% of them thought he was going home, and that 80% was wrong. That does not bode well for Caleb when it comes time for audience voting.

#23. Young Robbie Benson lookalike, Ethan Harris, sounds off to me in his solo. He also sounds very nasal. For the long walk, he wears a black denim shirt over a black and white wide stripe tee. He and his nasal voice make it into the Top 30.

Sarina Joi Crowe totters home on very tall red platform heels. Nalani (who?) goes home, as does David Oliver Willis.

#24. Majesty Rose York, she of the big floaty hair and flowered audition headband, wears black and white tweed and forgets her solo lyrics. For the Long Walk, she wears a top that looks hand knit with big needles and variegated yarn. The kind you can make in a couple of evenings. But she's not being judged on the intricacy of her knitwear.

#25. Briston Maroney sings in a very cartoony voice. It's not unpleasant, but it's definitely odd, and it seems totally unmarketable. I really thought Briston was going home. I have a lot in common with 80% of the Twitter folks.

Brandi Neeley, in an off-shoulder seafoam green chiffon cocktail dress and cowboy boots, has learned to blend her makeup in better. For her solo, she wears a loose black jumpsuit with a beaded neckline. Brianna Oakley wore a black semi-formal with a mullet skirt for her solo. For the long walk, she's wearing a black top and a cute black tweed skirt.  They come in together, and leave #26 and #27.

#28. Kenzie Hall is blonde and weepy and has huge blue eyes. For the Long Walk, she wears an ordinary baggy brown tee shirt. For her solo, she sings terribly. She's in. Why? Why?

Savion Wright is the one other kid (besides C.J. Harris) that I want to make the Top 12. For the Long Walk, he wears a black trench coat and red pants. He carries and plays a small guitar, which I do not think is a ukulele. For his solo, he wears a brown gingham shirt and he plays a regular sized guitar. This kid is charming and talented, and.... arghhhhhhhhhh.... they're sending him home. They're keeping Emanuel, Briston and Ethan, all marginal singers, but they're sending Savion home. This is a huge mistake. The only thing I can think is that the judges want him to have some time to work through his grief, given that Savion's older brother died just two weeks previous. I hope he gets to come back next year.

So, we're down to 2 gals and 2 guys left, for the final 2 spots.

Of the girls, Sandi Lee is totally new. She's a big gal with long hair and heroic bazooms which are front and center on display. I like her big voice. Austin Wolfe wears a burgundy dress for her solo, and she dances awkwardly. Austin is #29, and the last girl. Shoot, I liked Sandie better.

The final 2 guys are Ben Briley, of the backwards cap and the wife who made him audition, and Neko Starr from last year, in the Bruno Mars hat. Ben's solo is a little overwrought but he nails the final big note. Neko sings in a white dress jacket with black piping over a white tee. His voice makes no impression on me at all.

So, the judges can't decide and the final choice is left to the audience, and not the Twitter audience either. Actual voters who can vote online, via text, or phone call, not that I care enough about these two to bother, unless my vote can be used to bring Savion back.

The live shows begin next week already. On Tuesday the girls will perform, and since there are 15 of them, I suspect it'll be a 2 hour show. On Wednesday the guys will perform. And Elimination will be on Thursday.

Three nights next week, 5 hours... and Randy Jackson will be there. Sigh. Or maybe... grrrrrrr.....

Thursday Tab- Valentine Cut-Out Dolls

Happy Hearts!