Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Country Night--Yee Haw? or Hee-Yawn?

Country night is traditionally my least favorite of the Idol theme nights, because usually there's this odd parade of acts better suited for Knotts Berry Farm than the national stage. I'll never forget the moment Mandissa walked out wearing denim capris and a ratty straw hat. For the life of me, I can't remember what she sang, but I knew the minute she wore that hat she was a goner. Weeks later, I was at a teacher conference waiting for the session to begin, and two women in front of me were having a conversation in the row in front of me. I wasn't paying a lot of attention, but when one of them said, "Gurrrrl, she didn't have no business wearin' that hat," I knew exactly what they were talking about. See? American Idol makes you instant friends.
But I think tonight was a little more successful as far as the genre goes, because instead of letting our contestants run wild in fields of corn, they were corralled into the songbook of Shania Twain. Great songs from a great writer, and much like Dolly Parton week a couple of seasons back, everybody really did well. Hard to go wrong with good songs, and for me, this is the hardest night so far to pick a winner. Or, as the case may be, not-so-much-a-winner.
At the risk of waxing stereotypical, I shal rate the contestants according to iconic country music video images. Feel free to agree or disagree--it ain't no thing.

Lee: A perfect pair of faded jeans--I can't help it, this guy does it for me. Maybe it's the little sideways mouth thing, the way he can make a song almost unrecognizable in the first few measures before you realize you can't even remember the original arrangement. Flawed, yet perfect.

Michael: The rumpled bed in the middle of a room with lots of open window and fluttering curtains with the seascape outside--This is the most I've liked Mike in a while. Really nice vibe, nice tone. But I totally got Simon's "wet" comment, though. He's always just a bit much for me.

Casey James: Standing in an open field, sunshine in his hair, band somewhere out in the weeds--I think what I liked most about Casey tonight was his humble spirit, how he acknowledged and took ownership of the judges comments from last week. Still didn't blow me away, but good. Best vocal of his run so far.

Crystal: cute girl in shorts an boots--oh, wait, she was wearing a short skirt and boots, but still. It wasn't everybody's favorite, nor mine. I'm not a big bluegrass girl. So, not my favorite, but everybody has an off night. Remember Carrie Underwood singing "MacArthur Park?" yeah.

Aaron: dude standing in the doorway watching the woman in his life get dressed up for a night out--but then the woman turns out to be his mother. So that's creepy.

Siobhan: the beautiful singer posing as a cutesy, misunderstood comic weirdo who gets all glammed up at the end of the video--I was way off on this one, according to the judges. I thought it was kind of a twainwreck. A twainwreck in the wain with a dog. But there ya go.

So...toughest bottom three to call, but I'm going on history and bottoming--Mike, Aaron and Siobhan. Going home? ummmmmmmmmmmm Aaron

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Inspiration in Spurts

So, this is Idol Gives Back week, and I think if I could choose exactly what Idol was to give back, it would be the hour of my life spent watching this week's show. OK, 36 minutes thanks to the DVR (only because I watched Crystal 3 times). During the live broadcast I was riding around various unpopulated streets giving a driving lesson to my fifteen-year-old twin sons. But, really, no matter how little attention J gave to the on-coming traffic, or how often I had to tell R that he was drifting to the left, I still don't know if I'm more grateful for having come home alive, or for being able to fastforward through the torture known as Timanilow.

Maybe I exaggerate a bit. It wasn't all bad. Even those who were bad weren't, you know, all bad. But, did you feel inspired? Were you moved? Let's see...

Casey--now, he inspired me...to seek out Fleetwood Mac's original, joyful, infectious original. Like, I can get that this show is sponsored by ATT, because Casey was beyond phoning...he was texting it.

Lee--my Lee-love is nothing new, but I think he was a bit over-praised tonight. Arrangement was perfect, beautiful, but he had some bum notes at the beginning (and throughout) that sounded like they'd gone through a few rounds. Still, inspiring? Yes. Plus, I got to watch my sons listen to that song for the first time and we got to talk about the beauty of a simple lyric.

Tim--Somewhere, Katie Stevens is inspired to say, "I lost to this guy?" and throw her over-accesorized Hello Kitty at the screen.

Aaron--I'm inspired to Give Back to AI any amount of money that would ensure that I never have to hear that song again.

Siobhan--wondering why none of the judges are inspired to comment on the nasal tones of her lower register. But, beyond that--I thought her performance was really beautiful and haunting. And I loved her outfit. (inspired by Mariah)

Big Mike--inspired me to lose a bet because I thought the song was from Avatar. So I guess I'll do dishes as soon as I post this.

Crystal--inspired awed, hushed silence. Which --you might can tell-- is rare for me. This is my favorite performance, and her interaction with Ryan's pocket square might be my all-time favorite moment with her so far!

Overall, the episode inspired me to wish I could fast-forward through the whole season so I can just get to where Lee and Crystal each try to look like they don't care about winning.

So...who's going home? In the past, the show didn't send anybody home on IGB week...just two the next, but really, if Tim survives, I'll be ready to hop on that train Crystal was singing about. Have I inspired you to leave a comment? And a vote?

I almost skipped...

...my quiet time today, and I don't mean that I got caught up in the flurry of morning routine (as happens). I mean, I was on the brink of saying: Gym? or Bible? And as fantastical as that may seem, gym was about to win.
Then I thought, No--I can give my reading passage a quick skim, say a quick prayer, and still make the 8:30 water aerobics class. So, I sat down with Bible and coffee, flipped to my passage (in my One Year Bible, as I'm between studies) and started to skim.
That's when the Holy Spirit said--STOP.
I don't often pray out loud when I'm alone, but today I did, and in my best self-chastising voice, I prayed: "Lord, I am going to sit right here, slow down, and read. Really, really read." And I did. Got a whole new series idea from the book of Joshua--from something with which, until today, I was totally unfamiliar. An entire series in one thought. It was like God had grabbed me by the collar (or swimsuit, in this case) yanked me back and said--I HAVE A WORD FOR YOU TODAY. READ IT.
And all I could think was--how many Words have I missed out on? All those mornings when I say I'll get to it later, and I never do. Or, more common, those days when I have to stop and think about when was the last time I truly sat and sought His Word? I envy those who have the spiritual discipline to read their Bible daily--but envy is such a waste of time.
That was an hour ago. I won't always have a full hour to spend with my Bible. Wait--I'll always have it, but I won't always take it. And I may not even need to. But today I did. And there's another class at 9:45. And I'm already in my suit, so...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Second Place Silver-tongued Sages

So, what does a guy have to do to be counted among such musical recording greats as Andrew Lloyd Webber, Barry Manilow, Randy Travis, Dolly Parton, Elton John, Lionel Richie, and -- oh, what the heck--Miley Cyrus? Apparently, you need to lose a singing contest. Ladies and gentlemen, Adam Lambert!!!

Now, I know a couple of weeks ago, I likened Miley's mentoring capabilities to that of a duck, and I just want to qualify something: I love ducks. So, it's not automatically an insult. To her, or to ducks. There's just something about the girl--her voice, her face, her lips--that makes me want to sit on a bench with old men and throw bread at her. Is that such a bad thing?

That said, I really think Adam did a good job. He set forth some challenges, gave some good advice, had something specific to offer each contestant. Spot-on mentoring, Mr. Lambert! Mayhaps the AI producers know what they're doing after all. Still, I can't help but think they're missing out on a few great opportunities. If they can trot Adam Lambert out, why not all the AI also-sang? No need for mentor-sharing, they could pair up! Imagine...(as DavidA once sang...)

Justin Gurarini could teach Tim Urban how to capitalize on a winning smile and great hair to compensate for what might be lacking in singing and/or dancing. Of course, with Crystal's inevitable win, we'd have a super-awkward "From Tim to Crystal" bad beach movie follow-up.

Clay Aiken, having lost to the original Velvet Teddy Bear could give Big Mike a few pointers about how to use his massive circumference to charm the lady voters.

Diana DeGarmo could join forces with Katie Stevens to create the facebook page: I Missed My Prom to Be on American Idol. (11 fans)

Bo Bice and Casey James could do each other' shair.

Catherine McPhee could just stand in Lee's room and look pretty. I don't think he'd ask for much more.

Blake Lewis could come back and do an awesome beat box behind Andrew Garcia's send-up of the Paula Abdul classic "Opposites Attract" -- actually that would be kind of awesome!

Crystal Bowersox could smile patiently and pretend to need to hear whatever whoever has to say.

David Archuleta and Aaron Kelly could join forces for the ultimate back-stage Pokemon showdown, then it's time for snack.

And Adam Lambert...seriously, weren't you hoping for an Adam/Siobhan scream clinic?

In keep with the theme, tonight the lowest and second-lowest vote getters go home. Who's it going to be? Vote and leave a comment, and TWO books get added to the Idle Summer Reading basket!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Here Come the Bridegrooms!

Releasing today! Unbelievable...my fifth novel. I say unbelievable, because it wasn't long ago I had no idea I wanted to pursue a life writing Christian fiction. No idea. I knew I wanted to write...something...but the only Christian novel I'd ever read was Christy--a book that is almost required reading for Christian girls, and rightly so. And now--what a difference a decade makes!

So, with a new book comes all of the other fun "new" things. Walking into bookstore after bookstores to see it on the shelves, interviews and give-aways to promote, forcing copies on your oh-so-understanding writers group friends--especially those sweet guys who don't happen to read historical Christian fiction, but buy copies for their wives. But, with this new book came another "new" thing.


Now, I have other books that have been released on Kindle, and I guess I've never really thought about it...but my friend Virginia sent me a message on facebook saying she'd pre-ordered The Bridegrooms on Kindle, and it would "appear" on Tuesday, April 13. And it just seems weird to me to think of all the hundreds (maybe that's optimistic...) of people who pre-ordered to Kindle, and all those words, all those pages, all those hours of work will just "appear" on Kindle screens everywhere. All at once. It reminds me of those nature documentaries where they show a bunch of flowers blooming in time-lapse photography. Just...poof...and in one cybernatural moment, there they are. My friend Virginia says the drawback is that she won't be able to have a signed copy. I offered to get a Sharpie and scrawl my name on her Kindle. She hasn't messaged me back yet.

I don't know that I'd ever be able to go Kindle. I'm a super-slow reader, takes me forever to finish a book. Having the cover staring at me from my nightstand is sometimes my only motivation--just to get it read and returned/put away/donated. I'm afraid if I were looking at the same unchanging device day in and out, I'd never finish anything. I'd just pay my 9.99 over and over and over, filling it up. Hubby, on the other hand, goes through 2-3 books a week. He was made for e-reading.

So, how about you? E-reader, bookstore browser, library lover, on-line orderer? Say, for example, a great new story about four sisters looking for love in the void left from their mother's abandonment? How would you go about pursuing such a story?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Diridgedudes and Babepipes

A song for Timanilow
(in honor of Lennon/McCartney week)

Hey, dude, don't make it bad,
Take a bland song, and make it blander.
Remember, Randy and Ellen are smart,
And you can ignore Simon and Kara
Hey dude, don't be afraid
You were made to guest-star on Disney
The minute your texting votes don't come in
You can begin to be a guest star
Enter: Bagpipes
I remember this them from 2 seasons ago, and it was a fantastic night. I can still hear Carly Smithson singing "Come Together" and Michael Johns singing "Across the Universe." And David Cook's amazing Eleanor Rigby. That was a great night for music, because it's a night of great music, and I think the contestants always do better when, really, there can't be too many bad song choices. Oh, had DiDi hung around, she might have tried to show us a new dimension of her by treating us to a ride in a yellow submarine, but other than that...
So, we had diridgedoos and bagpipes, guitars, guitars, guitars, dreadlocks, and a nearly lethal use of a flatiron. Andrew took us to Saturday morning Bandstand, Crystal took us to a really cool Blues club about 40 minutes into her set. Siobhan and Aaron gave us just a taste of what we might hear in-between reassurances that our call is important to somebody. Casey rocked the Leif Garret look (thanks, A.J.), while Timanilow brought the Leif Garret vibe. ALERT! Quite possibly the first time "Leif" "Garret" and "vibe" have been used in a single sentence. Mike frightened lonely people everywhere with the knowledge that he's looking at them (and when he finds them, he will pick them up in his massive hulk-like arms), Katie made me remember why I love that song (and her father made me remember why grown men should wear pants if they're going to be on TV). And Lee--quote of the night:
LEE: (when he saw the bagpipe guy backstage) Is he here for me?
But I thought that was totally cool.
So...this'll be a tough week to call, because nobody was terrible; but here goes:
Bottom 3 = Andrew, Tim, Aaron (oh, so torn between Aaron and Katie...)
Going home? Andrew
So, what think you! Leave a comment and cast a vote. We got it right last week (yay!!), making my new release, The Bridegrooms the first book in the Idle Summer Reading Give-Away!