American Idol 2009, The Final
American Idol is one of the few prime time shows we have access to on overseas cable that we get to view in almost real time. It’s on about 10 hours after the live broadcast. It’s “up to the minute” aspect is one of the prime reasons I never miss a show. For me it’s a way to get a taste of the current pop culture from back home; although, we also get to see Fox News and CNN while they are being broadcasted live, but that's different.
I was pretty impressed with this year’s Idol final 5. After they had it down to those singers I was satisfied that the eventual winner wouldn’t be someone who really sucked (in my opinion). I easily predicted that the final 4 would include Chris, Danny, Adam and the chick. Sorry, I forgot her name, but oh my word that voice; no way will I forget her singing voice. Dang, that girl has some unique pipes.
But, as for the final two, if I had my druthers, MY final two would have been Danny and Chris, not Adam and Chris. I know everyone raves over Adam’s incredible range, and I think he’s pretty remarkable too; but I’m sorry, as a performer he just doesn’t appeal to me. I began to arrive at this opinion about a month ago, when with my eyes closed, I listened to him sing in that super high range of his, and it occurred to me that I was listening to a female impersonator. He’s a dude with almost no male qualities in his voice. So, if that’s what trips your trigger then vote for the guy, but if I could vote, it wouldn’t be for him. In a way, Adam is a bit of a one trick pony. He sings high and does so faultlessly and VERY impressively, but if I had my choice as to whom I would pay to listen to in a concert, that would be Danny and Chris.
A writer for Newsweek opined on Fox’s O’Reilly today that he thought that Adam’s apparent “gayness” would probably work against him as Chris is apparently a Christian. What a crock. The Newsweek guy, who to me also “seems gay” based on his voice inflection, appears to have an agenda—that being that “the gay person” SHOULD win, especially since he’s “obviously the better singer.” To that I say once again, BS, because which singer is “the better” is up to each person who votes; and people vote based on which singer appeals to them.
There a lot of factors that might lead someone to decide that one singer is more appealing than another; factors that quite fairly include characteristics such as appearance, gender, race, marital status, and a whole number of items, ESPECIALLY including “singing style.” In this case, in contrast to Adam’s “gayness,” to his equal detriment, Chris has a pretty blonde girlfriend in tow, which could also just as easily work against him, since a lot of young girls will be put off by his lack of “availability.”
Ultimately though, sexuality and religion will not be what determines the winner this year. No, it WILL be singing style, and let’s face it; Adam and Chris have singing styles that are quite dissimilar. Adam, with his big high-ranging voice is obviously comfortable on the stage in glitzy musical productions, while Chris’ more understated style is that of a pop singer. Obviously, in this case, the winner “on style” is Chris, especially when it comes to economic draw. Both will do well as they continue their post Idol careers, but Chris is going to make his BIG bucks in much different venues than will Adam, who should also do quite well in the years ahead.
It’s ironic to me then that Chris is actually advertised as “the dark horse” in this competition, because I just don’t think so. I believe him to be the favorite. As I’ve been saying, American Idol is not just about singing; it’s about popularity. At this point, I think Chris has the broader attraction among voters, especially among young female voters.
And finally, the reason I think Chris will win is because all the judges, particularly Simon, LOVE Adam. Personally, I despise the judges, particularly Simon. (It’s easy to hate that mean-spirited haughty Brit) Nasty Simon actually said that based on singing talent that everyone SHOULD vote for Adam, which was a huge mistake if he actually wants Adam to win. In effect, Simple Simon has just administered the kiss of the death to his favorite. Chris is bound to win now, especially after what he did last week when he took an ugly gangster rap “song” by Kanye West and turned it into something absolutely stunning. With that, Chris definitely showed who the REAL talent is. I was blown away when he did that.
Also concerning last week, Adam made a big mistake, at least in my eyes, when he sang a Steven Tyler song. Adam hit all the notes, which is good, but NO ONE sings Aerosmith songs like Tyler, who not only hits the highs, but does so with a decidedly rocker “GUY” resonance. As I said, in contrast to Steven Tyler, Adam sounded like a woman trying to sing like a man. It just didn’t strike a chord with me.
Tomorrow is the final show before the results episode. It all comes down to which guy can “inspire” his “base” to get up and dial. I’m betting that Chris will take it all. Thing is, on a personal level I like both these guys. They seem like a couple dudes that would be really cool to hang out with. Having said that, I’ll be cool with whoever wins. I’m thrilled for ‘em both.
Labels: American Idol 2007, American Idol 2009
We’ve come to know him affectionately as “Ungoy.” That’s Filipino for “monkey.” As I write this I can’t even remember his real name. Man, that’s just not right. I even call him Ungoy when I talk to him. He doesn’t seem to mind though, and even his Aunty Divine calls him that. In fact, I think he takes some measure of satisfaction from it.
Anyway, whenever there’s a job that involves scary heights, he’s the guy we get; thus, the appellation “Ungoy.” The man is a fearless climber. So, the other day, we decided it was “Ungoy time” once again. We texted him to come on over to do some work.
Before getting to that, it’s been almost a year since we finished the tree house tower. Naturally, Ungoy was a key member of the work force that built it, a crew that included three of his brothers and their father, Eddy. During the 3 weeks of construction Ungoy and all of Eddy’s boys never ceased to amaze me as they worked so high, so quickly and confidently, and with so much apparent fearlessness.
After the tower’s completion, for the first few months of our enjoyment of it, I loved that the upper mango boughs partly screened us inside the confines of the platform. Eventually though, I realized that much of the fun of being so high above-it-all was hindered by our obstructed view of the surrounding panorama. It was irritating every afternoon to have to stand and peer around a big branch of pesky leaves to take in the beautiful sunsets. Thus, we decided it was time for Ungoy to do some tree trimming and “un-obstruct” the view.
There was a time last year that I pleaded with Eddy to let me invest in a safety harness, especially after he mentioned that one of his sons had actually fallen three floors flat on his back at one of their job sites. Luckily, it was a “soft” landing on dirt so that he was but shaken and not excessively stirred. Even so, each time I watched the boys do their precarious thing way the heck up there I begged them to let me purchase a harness, but I was always politely turned down. They claimed that the ropes would only encumber them; so, I stopped bringing it up.
Normally, I cannot bear to watch Ungoy as he does his perilous "high wire" routines. I had no choice this time though, since I had to direct him as to which branches to cut. I took my camera up with me hoping that I would not capture a shot of him tumbling tthrough the branches to the ground.
I showed him the specific unwanted branches and where I wanted the cuts to be made. After that it was up to him to figure out how to get it done. Interestingly, I was able to watch his trapeze-like antics without cringing by mostly doing so through the aperture and on the viewing screen of my digital camera—funny how that works.
Looking at the shots now, it might not seem all that particularly dangerous because the impression of height is not so apparent. Keep in mind though that he is over three stories up. The ground is a long way down from where he is working. Even when I was young and considered myself a good tree climber, I could never have forced myself to do what he does.
Getting ready to work, first thing, Ungoy slips out of his flip-flops. Before that, as soon as he got to the house, off came the t-shirt, so that was already taken care of. You can see from the photos that he is a slender fellow to say the least. Not having a lot of extra pounds to weigh him down is surely a good thing. Most people fall while climbing trees when branches give way. It was true for me, when as a kid both my worst tree-climbing accidents involved the unexpected snapping of branches beneath me.
Way up on the fourth tower landing, with the saw in his right hand, Ungoy reached up with his left and grabbed the branch that he’d be cutting on. Then, placing one foot up on the railing he effortlessly pulled himself up onto it. Watching him balance on that narrow railing I was already feeling sympathetic queasiness. He wasn’t perturbed in the least.
Within ten minutes he had all the unwanted branches removed. Amazing. You wouldn't know it to look at him, but Ungoy is in his early 30s. When I first met him I thought he might be barely 20.
I still can’t get over how he can clamber around in the tree like that with bare feet. But we DO call him Monkey, and why would a monkey put shoes on over its hands? I was watching him; our Ungoy uses his feet like another pair of hands, just like a monkey.
Labels: mango, tree house
Poor little thing...
Yesterday was a good day because I got to spend most of it with my girls, but unfortunately, there was one bad moment that has lingered on and tainted the memory of the whole day. I do this a lot; become consumed with things that most people would consider minor. The first time I realized I do this was over 30 years ago when a marine staff sergeant informed me in response to my worrying about what I considered to be the sad state of his office regs, “Hey Sergeant Spear, don’t sweat the small stuff. Everything is going to be fine!”
So yesterday afternoon we had just returned from a trip to the mall where my two little ones always have a great time in the playhouse and playing their favorite games in the arcade. Back here at the house I asked the girls if they wanted to help me feed and water the finches in the big bird cage. They responded with the kind of enthusiasm that only little kids can show.
We trooped in line around the back of the house to the large green bamboo gate of the big bird cage. I let them go in first, holding one hand high to keep any birds from flying out the door. As I closed and latched the door I told them that a batch of baby finches had just left their nest for the first time a few days before.
“Daddy, there’s a bird in the water,” the 8 year old announced uncertainly.
‘Oh no!’ I thought, ‘my first casualty.’
There, floating beak down in the water was a tiny hatchling, its wings spread wide. Both my girls were hovering over the pitiful little thing.
“Daddy, what happened to it? Is it dead?”
“Yeah, it drowned. It must have fallen in.”
“Can I see it? What did you do with it?”
I had deftly scooped up the tiny body and hid its damp feathered carcass inside my cupped palm. I didn’t want them looking at the dead bird and perhaps getting upset; although, they didn’t seem the least bit affected. I know I sure was though. I felt horrible, feeling responsible.
For the last couple days I had been watching two new hatchlings try out their wings. It’s surprising how quickly they learn to expertly flit about the cage. I imagined how the little thing must have died; it must have landed in the large watering bowl by mistake and then struggled in there for who-knows-how-long before finally expiring.
I told Divine later, “Maybe I should take the deep bowl out of there until the little ones are better at flying, and just use a shallow dish to keep them watered; ya know?”
I continued to conceal the drowned fledgling in my hand for the five or ten minutes we stayed in the cage.
“What are you going to do with it Daddy?” my 5 year old asked me.
“I’ll bury it in the garden.”
They wanted to watch me do it, but I just wanted to get it done so they wouldn’t have to dwell on its death. Thing is, I think I was the one all screwed up over it and doing all the dwelling. With the girls following me and hovering near I placed the tiny feathered corpse at the bottom of my current compost pit along the south interior wall. In no time both girls were happily running around the yard playing tag with Divine’s girls, the dead bird no longer a thing of interest.
As for me, I can’t keep it out of my mind; I still have the image of it floating forlornly there in the water.
It turns out that the dead little bird is not one of the two fledglings I’ve been watching all week. The one that drowned was a brand new hatchling that had just dropped out of one of the nests and right into the bowl of water. It was just bad luck. Poor little thing…
Labels: finches, My big bird cage, my girls
Last year, for the two or three months of its “bombing season,” our huge overhanging mango tree inconsiderately and inopportunely dropped its load of hundreds of plump juicy fruit, one at a time, on the corrugated roofing of our bedroom. The thin metal makeup of the roof would reverberate each fallen mango into a jolting explosion. The irony is that we moved back here in the first place mostly for the peace and quiet.
The best way to simulate the explosive disturbance made by the “mango-grenades” would be to squat under an overturned metal trashcan and then have an angry baseball player whack it hard as hard as he can with a big old baseball bat. “Whammm!”
Now, imagine its 2 a.m. and you’re sound asleep under that trashcan, when “Mr. Homerun” smacks that can with all his steroidal might with his major league size 35/35 Louisville slugger . Bashhhh! Because THAT is what happened to us last year, night after night, week after week, for almost three months.
A few months ago, watching daily the mangos form in their massive drooping bunches in the branches above my bedroom; I realized that this year’s fruity bombing crop would be far worse than anything earlier experienced. Compared to last season, not only was there way more fruit, they were visibly plumper and heavier looking too. The reason? Probably the new septic tank we put in last February. Obviously, the tree had found and was making good use of all that extra underground “irrigation” from my own personal sewage plant. Not only was there more water available, as far as the tree was concerned, this new source of water was “supplemented” with “extra sewery nutritiousness!”
Once again, when in a situation that takes a combination of engineer and building contractor, I went to Eddy for help. I asked him, “Can we put a net of some kind under the tree Eddy? I don’t think I can take another mango season without doing something.”
As always, it was Eddy to the rescue. He answered without pause, “Of course. No problem!”
I had envisioned some slapdash concoction of poles and nets, but slapdash is not Eddy’s style. In just under two days, he and two of his boys put up what I have come to call “the blessed mango catcher.” It’s tidy, it’s aesthetic and it works.
Thanks to Eddy’s brilliant resolution, me and the mango tree are no longer “at war;” and if it WAS a war, until Eddy's net, I lost every battle. To fight back, all I had was a few choice epithets, but I don’t think Mr. Mango Tree heard me. But these days, that's all water under the bridge, for now, as far as "man versus mango goes," we are at peace. And there is a tasty bonus to having Eddy’s mango catcher out there snagging mangos before they can crash onto my bedroom roof—mango shakes. A bruised mango goes rotten pretty quickly and birds and bugs soon add to their almost instant inedibility, at least as far as human consumption goes. Eddy was responsible for saving countless fruit when his net safely cradled each fallen fruit for the day or two it took for one of the nephews to go up there and collect them. And I DO so LOVE ripe lusciously succulent mangos!
Ahhh, but apart from the eating (gorging?), what a truly great semi-relief is that blessed-mango-catching-net. Even as fitful as my slumber is, at least for the 90 or so days of the fruiting season, which is pretty much over now, not a single mango-grenade went off and so, thankfully, did NOT rouse me. I describe it as semi-relief as I still woke up every couple hours or so, just not due to exploding mangos. Thus, I have Eddy to thank for the sleep I got that WASN’T lost; and if you woke up every night as much as I do, you too would cherish every slumbering second you could get.
Everyone should have an Eddy in their life.
Labels: home improvement, mango