Sunday, March 30, 2014

Interesting night

 flight was 3 1/2 hours late, but she's here now, and we head to the port in a couple of hours. It's green here!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

I'm here

I made it to Ft. Lauderdale in good time. I'm just hanging out in my room, knitting and watching a Harry Potter marathon and waiting for my roomie Deeann to arrive. Tomorrow, we sail!

In the meantime, a few pics...

Thursday, March 27, 2014

AI Season 13, Top 9 Elimination, 03-27-14

So, we pick up immediately after last night's taping ended, with the vanterviews and suppertime conversation. And Ryan's shoe. Did I mention that HCJ stole Ryan's shoe last night? I did mention that they had two hours to fill, right?  My guess is that this bit of shenaniganery was engineered specifically to eat up time. To make up for it, tonight's show is only a half hour. That's a decision I can get behind.

JLo is wearing a tight, red, strapless Barbie dress. Her front hair is messily clipped back low on her head.

Ryan says that rather than calling kids down in groups, they're all going to sit on The Stools, and the Big Screen will flash who is safe. This might be faster than the usual reveal. Maybe.

First Save is Jena, with curly hair, a denim jacket, shorty-short-shorts and a shirt tied around her waist.

Second Save is a surprised and thrilled Malaya, in a sleeveless navy dress with white polka dots.

Third Save is... nope, we won't find out until after Janelle Monae sings.

Janelle is singing What is Love? from the Rio II soundtrack album. Well, it's lively and the stage is crowded with musicians and dancers who venture up into the audience too. It's colorful, with feathers and spangles and stripes and drums and dancing and scarf waving. It's loud and frenetic. Ms. Monae is wearing tight white pants with a black stripe down the outsides of the legs, a white jacket and cropped top. Her hair mushrooms up off her forehead like a hair tumor. The song is shrill and shouty, but at least it ends in a confetti shower.

Ryan points out Christopher Meloni and Rachael Harris in the audience. They're the ones bringing us the abomination known as Surviving Jack (okay, potential abomination- but the commercials repeatedly hammer home what a jerk the father is, and I have no intention of finding out if it's really as bad as I think it's going to be).

Back to the task at hand, and quickly because the clock is ticking.

Third to safety is Alex, wearing a blue jacket with a little white all-over design, and a goofy hat perched on his curled hair.

Number Four is Jessica, in jeans, a black shirt and a white jacket.

The Fifth Face belongs to Caleb, who is dressed exactly like Caleb always dresses.

Sixth, and last, save is Dexter, in a short-sleeved black tee shirt.

So, the Bottom Three are Sam, Majesty, and CJ. If you remember from last night, two of them were in my Top Three... sigh...

Sam is wearing a pastel tie-dyed tee shirt, and his cheeks are even pinker than usual. CJ is glum in a black jacket. Majesty is in a cute pink flowered skirt and a white knit top.

And suddenly Majesty is named as getting the least number of votes. She's going to sing for the save. I like Majesty's personality, and she is purely adorable, but she always skews much younger than she really is, which I think is a drawback. She's 22 but looks and dresses 15, and I think that confused voters. She's very talented, but I think she needs a few years of seasoning, which will begin off the show because the Judges *narrowly* were not unanimous (translation: Keith and JLo wanted to save her, HCJ didn't).

Majesty channels Malaya to mask her leaking eyes. I wish her well, and I think the tour will help with her stage-presence issues.

Thursday Tab- More Magazine Paper Dolls

Reminder again: I'll be gone next Thursday, so no paper dolls.

These scans are from Good Housekeeping.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

AI Season 13- Top 9 Performance 03-26-14

Reminder: I will be on a cruise ship in the Caribbean next Wednesday and Thursday. Even if the ship gets Fox in St. Thomas, I'm not about to spend two of my evenings in Paradise watching this show, and I am not going to saddle myself with watching 3 DVRed hours the day after I get back home. We'll just pretend next week doesn't happen, okay? I'm pretty sure we won't miss anything important.

The screen assures us that it's anyone's game. The screen does not explain that that's mostly because no one is even remotely exciting this year. In fact, this may be the most lackluster year since Season 3.

Anyway, Ryan is wearing a charcoal suit with a wine tie and a bright red and white print pocket square. And brown shoes. I still don't get it. He explains that the theme tonight is *I'm With The Band*, not meaning that the kids will sing songs only from bands (rather than solo artists), but that Rickey Minor and the band will be right down on stage with them. I'm not sure how that's different from any other week, but I guess we'll find out soon enough.

JLo is wearing a tight, white, just-below-knee-length skirt and a slightly tan, short-sleeved, crop top. Her hair is center parted and mostly straight, with prominent highlights. She's wearing very red lipstick and no eyeliner with her pale-blue eye shadow. It makes her look like she just spent a long day in the hot sun, wearing sunglasses. Keith has finally settled into the right style for his new haircut. HCJ looks like HCJ. It would be nice if, once in awhile, the guys wore some color. Any color besides black, white, and gray.

So Fallout Boy is meeting with the kids, who now get priceless advice from the former Mr. Ashley Simpson.

What fresh Hell is this? A group sing on Performance Night? Oh yeah, that's right- they still have to fill up two hours. Sigh. The kids are singing a medley in trios, Alex-Sam-Majesty, Jessica-CJ-Dexter, and Caleb-Jena-Malaya. So much energy packed into one little Malaya. She makes me tired just watching her. Whatever it is that they're singing, they sound fine, and Alex is becoming more and more comfortable on stage. There is no Pointy Pose. Dammit, if they're going to lip-sync to something on a Wednesday night, then I want my Pointy Pose.

#1. Alex, singing Don't Speak by No Doubt. The clips tonight are reminiscences about what the kids were doing last year. In Alex's case, it was working in a farm stand, and dropping a notebook full of original song lyrics into a mud puddle.

Tonight, he's wearing a jacket over a plaid shirt, and his usual no-socks-rolled-up-pants-legs. Alex is doing his own quirky thing with this song and I like it a lot. The Hub disagrees, he thinks it's dull.

Keith: Agrees with The Hub, asking for more edge
JLo: Not as thrilled with the softer version of Gwen Stefani
HCJ: Honors Alex's artistry and asks him to move around a bit more

#2. Majesty will sing Shake it Out, by Florence and the Machine. Last year, she had a normal life and if anyone thought she was special, it was her preschool students.

Her hair is down and floaty, with a couple of bright red tips. She's wearing, and here are words I never thought I would type, a totally adorable shorts jumpsuit. It's white with red pinstripes, double breasted, self tie belt, and shoulder pads. She looks like she might, at any moment, start tap-dancing on the deck of an aircraft carrier. In the 40's. It shouldn't work, but somehow it does. I don't know this song, but I think Majesty is doing well with it, connecting with the emotion, and not oversinging.

JLo: Welcomes the Confident Majesty back, critiques the vocal
HCJ: Has been waiting for a real connection, and Majesty is almost there
Keith: Great song choice, but Majesty needs to center herself

#3. Dexter will sing Boondocks by Little Big Town. Last year he was a poor but imperfect Farm Boy, a lifeguard, a fire fighter, a dog trainer, and a tractor tire changer.

He's wearing a Dexter outfit, and singing a Dexter song, in a typical Dexter fashion. It's the sort of thing that if I was in a bar and it was playing, I would tap my toes but I would never remember any of the lyrics. It's generic shouty C/W.

HCJ: Says exactly what I just said
Keith: Gives HCJ a huge gummy bear (remember they have to fill 2 hours) and then finally realizes that he should talk about Dexter's performance, not that he actually does
JLo: Asks Dexter to mix it up just a little. Pretty please?

#4. Malaya will sing The Beatles' Long and Winding Road. Last year she was in high school, playing a tuba, and being goofy.

She's wearing a black jacket over a white jump suit which may or may not be strapless, but which definitely has weirdly baggy hips. Malaya sings, waving her pageant arms throughout. There are some good moments, but for the most part, this feels weak and wavery to me.

Keith: Beautiful performance, highlighting both voice and spirit
JLo: Standout voice
HCJ: Majesty consistently improves, and she should worry about the craft, not stardom

#5. Sam will sing the Plain White T's Hey There Delilah. He was in high school last year too, but he played gigs on the weekends.

On stage, he's wearing a flowered shirt (roses, with thorns), and his pants are tucked into boots. Well, this is the best I've heard him sing. This song is a good choice for his voice and style. There are lightbulbs scattered all over the floor around him, which seems a little odd. For the first time, I think he deserves to have come this far in the competition.

JLo: The song is perfectly suited to Sam
HCJ: That was a smart, stripped down arrangement
Keith: Advises Sam to lose himself a bit more in the performance

#6. Jessica will sing Rhiannon, by Fleetwood Mac. Last year she sang gigs all by herself, just like the year before, and the year before that.

Evidently, Jessica is never going to get tired of the pink hair streaks. She's wearing an OpArt black and white pant suit and knee-high black boots. She sounds fine doing a countrified Stevie, and if I was just listening to her, it would be pleasing. But there is something incredibly uncomfortable about Jessica's stage presence. I don't know if the camera makes her nervous, or if it's just that she has spent too many years performing all alone, but she never ever looks like she actually wants to be a part of this competition.

HCJ: Nice job, favorite Jessica performance to date
Keith: Learn to be comfortable singing without a guitar
JLo: Confidence is growing

#7. CJ will sing If it Hadn't Been for Love, by Steeldrivers. Last year, he wanted music but knew that there was little hope for a musical career in his town.

On stage, he's wearing a denim jacket that fades from tan to gray, and a fedora that manages to look like it's on backwards even though it's not. I'm pretty sure that no one knows this song, since Ryan makes a point to say that this is the first time they've been featured on the show, but I like it. A lot. It's a folky/bluesy/soulful tune and CJ is really and truly connecting with it. This is the best he's done in a long time.

Keith: Clever song choice, but don't confuse sound with feeling
JLo: Good start, messy middle, good ending
HCJ: Stresses again that CJ needs to work on pitch

#8. I get excited when I hear that Caleb is going to sing something from Led Zepplin, because I really want to hear him do Whole Lotta Love. But he's doing Dazed & Confused instead.

He's wearing a black jacket with gold stars on the sleeves, and a black fringey scarf. The stage is smokey and the back-screen is all psychedelic. Caleb is wailing the shit out of this song, and JLo is going purely crazy in her chair. She and Keith give Caleb Standing O's. Even HCJ smiles.

JLo: The performance itself was sexy
HCJ: Caleb did an iconic song justice
Keith: Caleb is an excellent front man

#9. Jena is singing Evanescence's Bring Me to Life. Last year she lived with her mom, went to school, and worked in a small restaurant after school. She makes that all sound pretty bleak.

Her hair is straight with bangs tonight. She's wearing a white jacket with big black checks over a white tunic tee with black skulls, and black shredded capri jeans. Jena has a big voice, lots of confidence, and a very good stage presence. This song is not to my taste, but I can tell that she's doing well with it.

HCJ: Thought that Jena might have a hard time following Caleb, but she did just fine
Keith: Jena delivered
JLo: Phenomenal, but be a bit more messy

So, here are some more words I never thought I'd type: My Top 3 tonight are CJ, Caleb, and Sam, with Alex and Jena tied for 4th.

I don't have a Bottom 3 tonight, but my Bottom 2 are Jessica and Dexter. But I doubt either of them will go home tomorrow. I suspect Majesty will be in trouble again.

Cruise Exclusive Beaded Lace Wristlet

This is the beaded lace wristlet pattern we'll be using in class on the Malabrigo Friends & Fiberworks Cruise... for which I am leaving in THREE DAYS!!!!!!!!!!

I am really quite excited about this adventure, as if you couldn't tell. Shipboard internet minutes are very expensive so I won't be updating the blog while I'm gone, but I will post pics on Facebook here and there, as I can, from my phone. If you're not one of my Facebook Friends, shoot me a request (Kathleen Prater Taylor) and I'll okay it before we set sail.

Otherwise, I promise to bore you all with hundreds of wonderful pictures from Nassau, Charlotte Amalie, and Philipsburg, not to mention shots of one of the world's largest cruise ships, when I get back!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

AI Season 13- Top 10 Elimination, 03-20-14

From now on, assume that all elimination episodes open with a recap of the previous night's performances. That way, I won't have to say so (and I am not about to recap a recap).

Ryan is wearing a charcoal suit, with a white shirt and pocket square, with a navy polka dot tie. JLo is in a gold, spangly, very short, very tight, leopard print dress and a matching jacket with black lapels. Her hair is straight and center-parted. Keith is wearing a tee shirt and a leather jacket. HCJ is in pinstripes.

Tonight HCJ will introduce a band that I think is called Royalty. Also? JLo will "sing".

From the vanterview last night, Jena was still euphoric over her performance, and the judges' remarks. Sam wondered if he is really timid. Caleb loved the way Keith and HCJ imitated each other. Malaya loved her flowers. They had sliders for supper.

Ryan gets right to it (well, right to it after 10 minutes of filler). He calls down:
Malaya, in a short-sleeved pastel splotchily-dyed shirt and jeans
Dexter, in a black and white plaid shirt over a black tank top
Jessica, in a sleeveless black and white tunic with a huge tiger face on the front. Her hair is braided over one shoulder

Jessica is safe. Dexter is not.

JLo talks about the first time she heard herself on the radio, which was in a cab in New York, and the song was If You Had My Love.

JLo is going to sing her new single, I Luh You Papi, (that's the correct spelling) which I hate on the basis of the title alone. A whole bunch of girls are on stage, sitting on a stoop (and a couple are jumping rope). All of them are dressed in shorts and jackets with furry collars. JLo's shortie-short set is sparkly denim over sparkly nude hose. Her hair is wound smoothly and tightly into a high topknot.  She and two backup dancers move to the center of the stage and sing this "song", which is mostly a repetition of the title, over and over and over and over, accompanied by assorted squats and kicks and swiveled hips. Also, inexplicably, slapping themselves upside their own heads. Repeatedly. Man, this song is stupid, and it gets even stupider when some guy dressed in black, walks his twenty or so gold chains out, and begins to rap. The upside of this? Alison Iraheta, a favorite from 5 or 6 seasons ago, is now a backup singer. It's nice to see her.

Keith first heard himself on the radio on Tamworth, the country/western capital of Australia.

Ryan calls down:
Alex, in a blue velvet jacket with pushed up sleeves
Majesty, wearing a short set sewn from Grandma Rose's guest bedroom curtains
Caleb, in a faded denim jacket, apologizing for a tasteless joke he made last night about Alex's peanut allergy

Alex is safe. Majesty, once again, is not.

HCJ first heard himself on the radio after he and his junior high buddies formed a band called Octane. They recorded a demo and entered it in a contest, and their entry was not well received. By anyone.

Ah, the band HCJ loves is called Royal Teeth. And they're from Louisiana. Imagine that. On stage, a half dozen kids begin to play. The male lead singer is very skinny, and he looks to be about 16 years old. It was nice of Royal Teeth to go over The Wall and find Ygritte to sing the female lead for them. Huh. Given how picky HCJ is about music, I sort of expect any band he recommends to be more... well... musical. But this song seems to consist mostly of a chorus of *oh oh oh* and random hooting. But for singers, they can really jump to the beat.

The last four kids are called down:
MK, wearing a backwards hat (sigh), and a really cute white shirt with wide flowered horizontal stripes (I would totally wear that shirt, which would totally horrify MK)
Sam, in a brown blotchy windbreaker
Jena, in a denim shirt with a frayed and raggy hem, and a sloppy knit top with keyhole shoulders
CJ, in a brown on brown plaid shirt and tan slacks.

CJ is safe. Jena is safe. Sam is safe.

MK knew this was coming, and though I've liked her a lot, she seems totally over her head in this competition. She sings for The Save, and she sings well. To their credit, the judges seem to be truly considering using their power. But in the end, JLo is weeping too much and it falls to HCJ to tell MK that she's going home. MK takes it well.

I think MK has a lot of talent and I hope she seasons for a couple of years and finds her way into a career that will make her happy.

Thursday Tab- More Vintage Magazine Paper Dolls

I wish magazines had paper dolls these days.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

AI Season 13- Top 10 Performance, 03-19-14

The kids are rolling reluctantly out of bed at the horribly early hour of almost 7am in order to go on Ryan's morning radio show. We spend a lot of time with Caleb, and then with the others as they take selfies. Lots of selfies.

Ryan is wearing a nice blue suit with a black tie and a white shirt and white pocket square. JLo is in an ice blue, tight dress whose short sleeves have little gathers at the shoulders. The bodice has shiny nude inserts in the shape of long, skinny triangles angling over her shoulders, pointing in the general direction of her bosom, as though anyone needs a reminder to look there. Her hair is in a wind-blown French braid, and she has blue eye shadow.

The Top 10 will sing any song they like from the Billboard Top 10 lists from 2011 and onward, which means I will probably not recognize a single one. I also don't recognize what nay-nay (or nae-nae) is, though HCJ insinuates that it's not something for polite dinnertime conversation.

The kids all visit Ryan in the radio studio, but except for announcing their song choice and wearing backwards hats, nothing interesting happens there, so I'm going to skip all those parts.

#1. MK will sing Pink's Perfect. Her hair is gelled up in swoopy curves with sparkly red highlight streaks. She's wearing an interesting tee which has flowers toward the neckline and a half of a face toward the hem. Her pants are black on black plaid. MK is more comfortable on the stage than she has been previously, and I really like the quality of her voice, but there is something off about this performance, though I can't quite put my finger on what that is.
Keith: Loves how MK looks, and wants her to loosen up more
JLo: Saw more emotion in that performance than in others
HCJ: Not one of MK's stronger performances

Commercial Note: I am still never ever going to watch Surviving Jack. The ads upset and annoy me all by themselves.

#2. Dexter will sing a song by Florida-Georgia Line. He's wearing a blue Henley whose front hem (and only the front hem) is tucked in behind his belt buckle. I think this is the first time we've seen color on Dexter, and it looks good. He is also not wearing a hat, which I applaud. The song? Hard to tell. It's standard country fare, and Dexter mumbles so much that I can't understand a single word of it. But the audience seems to enjoy it.
JLo: That was... long pause... good
HCJ: Not a good performance, too generic, no joy
Keith: Good song choice but not a great performance

#3. I think that Ryan says that Jena's song is something called Zeg, but it turns out that she's singing Clarity, by Zedd. She's wearing a black and white print belly shirt, and the low-slung, baggy survivors of a Bedazzler explosion at the jeans factory. And pink boots. Her hair is very straight tonight. Whatever this song is about, it involves audience participation in the form of waving glow sticks. The song does not interest me in the least.
HCJ: This song is in Jena's wheelhouse.
Keith: Best performance of the night so far
JLo: Rendered enthusiastic and incoherent

#4. Alex will sing Story of My Life, by One Direction. In the lead-in, the handlers are using a lint roller on Alex's leather jacket, which begs the question: Are there cats in the Nokia Theater? The camera focuses on Alex from the back, with a strong spotlight silhouetting him, and then it swings around to the front. Alex's pants are rolled up, and as usual, he fidgets like he has to go to the bathroom. All I know about One Direction is that Taylor Swift dated one of them (possibly South West), but I think Alex is doing well with this song. He's awkward as hell, and goofy looking to boot, but I really like his voice.
Keith: Made the song his own
JLo: Beautiful vocal, reminiscent of Buddy Holly
HCJ: Hit the artistry bulls eye

#5. Malaya will sing When I Was Your Man, by Bruno Mars (aha- a title I recognize, at least). She's wearing a black and silver glitter blazer. Her hair is huge and curly, and she has pale pink lipstick. Malaya starts sitting by a piano (not playing it). She's singing with more restraint than I've seen in any of her performances. She builds up to the big notes, rather than hitting the stage at 11 and going up from there, and is handling this song exactly right (except for that one wonky note).
HCJ: Sincere interpretation, and some sound advice about runs
Keith: Great job, great control

#6. I would raise an eyebrow when Caleb says he's singing The Edge of Glory, by Lady Gaga, but he killed Adele last week, so we shall see. He's wearing a black leather jacket over a black tee with screen printed skulls, and gray acid washed jeans. Gray acid washed jeans. I'll let that soak in for a moment. Caleb is singing without a guitar tonight, and he's Meatloafing it up out there, but he's doing a pretty amazing job with this song.
HCJ: A+ for originality
Keith: Interesting song choice but not sure about the beat
JLo: Not as much feeling as she was hoping for

#7. CJ will sing Invisible, by Hunter Hayes. He's wearing a gray on black print blazer (little flowers, I do believe), a gray tee and white jeans. And no hat. There's a string section on stage with him, but I think CJ is off tune throughout, and I'm pretty sure he didn't open his eyes until the very end of the song. This whole performance sounded weak to me, CJ's worst to date.
Keith: CJ was much better in rehearsal
JLo: Rooting for CJ, and knows his heart is in it (his voice? not so much)
HCJ: Tries once again to explain to CJ the importance of singing in tune

#8. Jessica is singing Foster the People's Pumped Up Kicks. It's interesting to me that Jessica is 23 but she looks 35, while Majesty is 22 and looks 15. Jessica's pinked-up hair is in Farrah Fawcett Mode tonight. She's wearing a dark jacket over a light shirt, and playing her guitar. Though I couldn't really hear the lyrics, I understand this is a dark song with a sprightly beat. Jessica sings it nasally,  with a huge smile throughout.
JLo: Happy with the performance
HCJ: Wonders about grinning through a dark song
Keith: Thought it sounded like 60's country pop

#9. Majesty is singing Wake Me Up, by Avicii. Majesty is dressed like a normal person in a white sweater with wide red stripes, and jeans. Her anti-gravity hair floats around her head beautifully. This performance is a huge improvement over last week's. The song is country adjacent and it's a good choice for her. I still like Majesty's voice more when she sings softly, but this is really nice.
HCJ: Smart choice, loved it
Keith: Disagrees with Harry, wanted a harder edge
JLo: Showed fear for the first time, which is not good

#10. Sam is singing We are Young by Fun. He's wearing that stupid hat again, with his front hair pulled straight back and tucked under the hat. He's also wearing a fairly interesting shirt with some big, bold red print on the sleeves and front, but his guitar is hiding most of it, so I don't get a very clear view. I don't love this song (it's another one I actually recognize), so it's hard to tell if Sam is doing okay with it or not. Interesting note: the audience liked the performance, but when the camera panned across the rest of the kids, they all smiled and clapped except MK, who stood glowering, with her arms crossed over her chest. I have no idea if that means anything or not.
Keith: Rushed because time is running out, but it was good
JLo: Much better than last week
HCJ: Be more assertive on stage

So, I enjoyed this theme about as much as I usually do (read: not a lot, because I'd rather listen to music that I know). But there were standouts.

My Top 3:

My Bottom 3:
MK (sadly)

I have a feeling that MK will be going home tomorrow. But at least she'll get to go on the tour.

Wordless Leftie #3 progress, and a cool mani