This is some pretty wonderful news for a Friday afternoon!
Hi Linda! Phil and I have been talking for the last couple weeks about adopting another beagle. I registered with www.AdoptAPet.com for a 500 mile radius, and have been getting beagles in my inbox for the last 10 days. I look at every one and dismiss them for one reason or another (too old, boy not girl, funny markings, not quite right, etc). Well, yesterday, I got a beagle in my in-box - I took one look at her and "knew" she was the right little girl for us. Her name is Alexa (tho we are going to change it to Sally), she is 6 months old, weighs 11 pounds and is so beautiful that I can't believe how lucky we were to find her. Phil took one look at her and said, "she's perfect". I emailed the Humane Society last night and wrote them a heartfelt letter about how we lost Daisy and how our hearts have felt empty since that day. I told them about how Lucie has developed separation anxiety since Daisy has been gone, and told them that we saw Alexa and immediately fell in love with her. Then I told them about my support system (DGMS) and how everyone rallied around when we lost our girl and how supportive and caring they've all been.
They phoned me early today and said she was still available, and that because my letter was so detailed and from the heart (she cried when she read it), they weren't going to do a 10-day waiting period background check other than to call our Vet. I called Phil and told him that she was ours if we wanted her, and he gave me the green light. Alexa/Sally is about 150 miles away, so we won't get to visit her before we pick her up, but I happily paid her $150 fee today. She will be spayed on the 2nd, and I am going to go up there on the 3rd to pick her up. She has her own webpage, (with a 5-second video!). Here's the link: http://www.adoptapet.com/pet3857217-ss.html
Feel free to post this - I feel like this is the happy ending to our story, and the DGMS Blogmunity has been there (to prop me up) for the entire journey. We are incredibly happy and excited and know that Daisy would be just as happy for us!
I have an idea for over the summer: Since we seem to have a whole lot of fun talking amongst ourselves, let's have a "question of the day" as a way to get to know each other even more. We share our huge milestones and reach out to each other when in need--I think it would be fun to share silly, little details about our personalities. Vegas Week will be really fun (we already know we need to wear skirts if Paul's around!). So anyway, I'm thinking questions like "What's the funniest thing one of your kids (doggies and kittys included) have ever done?", "What's your favorite memory from high school?", "Who's on your 'free-pass list'", "Who was your first celebrity crush?" etc. Sounds like fun to me. Anyone else?
As I'm neck deep in cake right now, this is a great day to start. :O)
OK, so we all know how it went down. Yet again, the most deserving - if deserving is measured in terms of raw talent, delivery, performance, and the ability to take an audience on a ride - did not take the Idol crown.
Joining Adam Lambert - the king of being shafted in the AI voting process - is now Crystal Bowersox.
And that really power sucks.
I've enjoyed Lee's lack of an ego, total absence of smarm, and his awestruck demeanor throughout - there is no arguing he's a likeable guy. Like Kris Allen, you'd let him walk your dog, housesit, escort you down a dark alley. He's never come across as anything but a decent human being.
And perhaps that is, in large part, how he came to find himself duking it out with Crystal in the Nokia. We love a nice guy.
But it was in that head to head that the differences in talent became glaring. Where he is still uncomfortable on stage, squirmy even, Crystal looks like she's just welcomed you into her living room for a sing-a-long by the fireplace. When he relies on the Nickelback quality of his vocal cords to playact the part of emotion, Crystal just opens her mouth and out pours real, connected, meaningful emotion.
So why did he win? By now, there are some easy answers. Factor in the human nature and age groups who do the most voting, and this is certainly not an unexpected outcome.
Tween and teen girls still run this show. And teen and tween girls are not paying attention to the pitch, they are paying attention to the itch. They are creatures of puppy love, hormones, and binders scrawled with words like Mrs. David Archuleta and I Tim Urban. They are swayed by good hair, a nice smile, and the ability to make their hearts go pitter pat. (And if it's a showdown between two girls, they go with the one who seems least likely to mean girl them in the school hallway.)
So in that regard, Crystal didn't have a chance.
But in the real world, where iTunes cash is king, there is a place for both Lee and Mamasox. He will get better, he will. Nonstop touring this summer, constant exposure to large crowds, and the affirmation of the crowd will season him quickly - kind of like a Ron Popeil Flavor Injector, but Lee will be injected with confidence and stage presence.
As for Crystal? Don't cry for her, Argentina. The truth is she'll never leave us. She may not hold sway over the younger kids, but I have an iTunes account, too, and my money is waiting for her.
Now, let's take on this behemoth of a finale show, shall we?
The opening sequence harked back to where it all began for Lee and Crystal: Chicago ... our biggest turnout this season ... 12,000 came.
(And I think about 100 of those were actually there to audition.)
But after 7 cities, 100,000 dreams, 14 weeks of LIVE (I would argue half-dead) shows, and nearly 500 million votes - here we are at the finale ... or should that be the FINALLY!?
Then Ryan was flanked by Crystal, looking as happy and relaxed as ever, and Lee, again looking like a proctologist with Andre The Giant fingers and no lube was leering at him, as he intoned one last time, T.I.A.I. and the house lights went up.
Again, WOW. Huge crowd, a Michael Stipe dream come to life - 7,000 shiny, happy people.
After the graphics rolled, Ryan took one last stroll down the disco staircase, explained that less than 2% separated Lee and Crystal going into the finale, and then greeted the judges:
Randy "FTD" Jackson wearing a suit, bright blue tie, and a shirt from the Get Well Loon bouquet collection; Ellen practically glowed in white (she looked beautiful); Kara was dressed for the Idol Oscars in a one shouldered Greek goddess gown by Reynold's Wrap; Simon wore chest hair.
Oh, and an unbuttoned white shirt and suit. I love him, but I swear, all that was missing from his Latin lethario outfit was a rose clenched between his teeth.
Ryan then welcomed L&C to the stage, and their outfits foreshadowed what was to follow. They were dressed like private school kids from Idol Academy Prep on a Friday afternoon. She in a plaid skirt, white shirt, tie, and jacket - he in the same, but with pants - all of which were disheveled - untucked shirts, loosened ties.
A quick video greeting to the hometown crowds losing their minds in Toledo and Mt. Prospect, and then Ryan intro'd the Top 12, all of them dressed like Crystal and Lee.
As a hot schoolgirl guitarist (Orianthi) stood behind the judges, the top six guys - Big Mike, Aaron, Lee, Casey, Andrew, and Hair awkwardly moved through the stilted choreughraphy as they sang the opening lines of School's Out.
They were then joined by the Top 6 girls - and here's a clue for you as to how this season went - I had to look up half their names. Siobhan, Crystal, and Lacey I remembered. The other three were Didi, Katie, Paige (thanks Wiki).
They sounded fine - drowned out as they were by the music, and then hey! Look at that! Even private schools have goth kids - a whole zombie horde of them began jerking down the staircase, eyes ringed in black.
As the song moved on, Casey took the helm to welcome Alice Cooper, who rose from the dead (ok, he's not THAT old) to the top of the stairs. His leathery old body encased in black leather from head to toe, he wielded a cane, which I assume was to wack anyone who dared to insinuate he sounded like crap. Thank God for all the goth kids drowning him out on back-up.
As for the Top 12? Aaron looked frightened of Alice. And Siobhan looked in her element.
Back from the break, Ryan welcomed reigning Idol Kris Allen so we could all see that the reports of his (career's) death have been greatly exaggerated.
Singing his new song, The Truth, he looked as adorable as ever, and this served as a great reminder that while he will never rival Adam Lambert for WOW factor, he CAN sing. He has also grown more comfortable on stage, moving around with ease, even touching a Fembot or two along the way. All in all, a good song, and nice to see him performing.
This segued into a montage paying homage to "the end of an era," meaning Simon's run on American Idol. Cute video package highlighting the other judges ripping on him, auditioners ripping him a new one (one of them via wrongly inserted crumpets), and him being, well, him - noshing while people sang, being bored out of his bushy haired gourd, dissing Paula at every turn, and smiling like a Cheshire Cat all the while.
Then an odd duo if ever there was one - Siobhan and Aaron - kind of like Wonder Woman and Beaver Cleaver - to sing How Deep Is Your Love.
I really miss Siobhan's quirk, I do. Her coiffed-in-a-blender hair, that smile, her KY lips, that off kilter style.
Then there was Aaron. Dressed in black. That's about all I have to offer. And the cameras seemed to decide he was an afterthought, too, honing in on Ms. Magnus.
And then *POOF* there they were - Andy and Robin Gibb - in all their embalmed glory. Thankfully, for this AI appearance, Barry kept his nipples under wraps - no see through shirt.
Poor Robin, as much as footnote in this performance as young Aaron. He sang minimally, and swayed robotically as Barry sang to Siobhan and she sang back. The cameras only catching him and Aaron in wide shots.
As for Aaron, I think that was OK with him - he didn't seem to have a clue why he was even there, or who he was singing with anyway.
As the song came to an end *LOOK!* a shot of David Hasselhoff's wax figurine from Madame Tussaud's in the audience! Seriously, can the guy look any shinier, pulled, tightened, and frozen? He is rapidly developing KennyRogersBurtReynoldseyesitus - you know, the teeny kind that look like they were drawn with a fine Sharpie?
Next up - Big Mike and Big Michael (McDonald) singing Taking It To The Streets. OK, not a bad duet at all, but come on - I agree with the people commenting - what is up with all the old talent? There is not a viewer under 20 who knew who he, Alice Cooper, or the dudes from the BeeGee Retirement Home are.
Only true moment? At the very end, when Michael gave it up for GREG Lynch.
And then we were back to abusing Simon - this time via a guitar wielding Dane Cook singing (I'm being genrous here - Dane, stick to your day job) a song woven from Simon's greatest insults.
I love Dane's stand-up, but this just wasn't very funny. And then having him joined by every freak and geek who has ever disgraced the Idol process - Tatidrama, Muffin Top girl, the Brittenum twins (out on probation, I guess?), I Am Your Brother dude in his finery, and one truly obnoxious Ian Bernardo who hijacked the microphone and forced the show to cut to commercial.
In case you are wondering, that part was not planned. Yes, the insane asylum of Idol was furloughed for the Dane piece, but as Cook later Tweeted, If you missed it I got Kanye'd on American Idol. Wild. Luckily at the end of the song. Simon loved it. D-load song on iTunes tomorrow and That was not staged. Weirdo hijacked the song. Just glad he didn't hit me in the face w/the mic or Americal Idol would b American Beatdown. and finally, the pithy Tweet, Weirdo = ****face.
Sigh. Idol producers, you take the strait jackets off the inmates, they will take over the asylum.
In case you need a refresher on ****face Bernardo, here you go.
Lacey then strolled out singing the opening lines of Beautiful, so obviously Ms Aguilera was off stage somewhere applying a final coat of mascara.
Lacey was Beautiful in a purple leather dress and black leather bolero, and I give her serious props - she must be really strong to be able to lift the microphone to her mouth with fifty pounds of jewelry on her arm.
She was joined by Didi in cut out black leather, Katie in sequins and an unnecessary single fingerless glove, Siobhan in ripped up leggings, and Crystal who blew them all away.
Then they all (hey, where did Paige come from?) walked out to the semi circle behind the judges to sing three lines, then walked back up to the stage to sing Fighter - and Paige actually took center stage for a few lines. Good on her - I wish she had let loose like that when she was competing.
And then young Katie (trying hard to be fierce, but so do kittens, and I laugh at them when they hiss) intro'd Christina Aguilera who obviously wasn't ready, but the show had to go on, so she appeared in her underwear and sparkly panty hose.
From the neck up, she was lovely - hair back, four sets of falsh eyelashes, and THAT VOICE. From the neck down, she continues her attempt to GaGa it up.
Xtina - STOP. I watched the new video and my eyes still hurt from rolling them so hard in their sockets. You have such amazing vocal talent, you do not need to slather liquid latex on yourself and simulate oral sex to compete.
Underwear aside, her take on You Lost Me was amazing. Her voice is as powerful, rich, and soulful as ever, and I watched every moment of this one.
And just for contrast, so you understand what I referred to up there, here is the video. Don't say you weren't warned...
Another break and Ricky Gervais chimed in via satellite (from a half mile away) to rib his good friend Simon. Love me some Ricky. His dry wit was the perfect foil for Simon's famed abrasiveness - loved the compliments on how Simon has launched so many international careers "and you only take 80% of their wages."
This led into Lee walking out singing I Can't Go For That, and again I had to wonder, "Where are the current artists?" No offense to Hall and Oats, but it's been a long time since they ruled the charts.
Lee was joined by the guys who then segued into Man Eater, Aaron tried hard to be sexy, Tim's hair sang a line (seriously, where was his face?), then Lee welcomed Hall and Oats to the stage.
I shit you not, for a second I thought it was an SNL sketch with Bill Hader as Darryl and Fred Armisen as John. Take from that what you will...
A quick, pointless check in with Janelle Wheeler - early season 9 casualty - I say pointless because she was completely drowned out by the crowd - and then Ryan stopped by to say Hi to Crystal's Dad - channeling David Archuleta's pop only snazzier - his newsboy cap was leather.
This led into Crystal walking out in JEANS, boots, and a sleeveless tunic with a floral skirt attached, singing the opening lines of Alanis Morrisette's Ironic. She was quickly joined by Alanis herself, looking freshly Oompa Loompahed in her Mysic Tan (take it from me - if you want to do Mystic, start with the level called GLOW, not DARK), pounds of wavy hair, and leather boots.
They segued into Alanis's ode to her breakup with Ryan Reynolds, the teeth gnashing You Ought To Know. I waited - sure enough - they kept it family friendly, switching one of the more notorious lyrics to "will she go down with you to the theater."
They sounded amazing together, but I could have done without the constant crisscrossing of the stage that they did - I think Crystal could have done without it, too, as she damn near tripped on a moving cord. Nothing like a faceplant on national TV.
Up next, Carrie Underwood appeared to sing her latest (Underwood - DioGuardi penned) song, Undo It. OK, I'm thinking this finale must have been sponsored by Tandy Leather Factory - she was spray painted in leather pants, over-the-knee boots, and was wearing a sleeveless bolera from the car parts challenge on Project Runway. It was either made out of hubcaps or floor mats - or both.
Oh hell, she could wear car parts and still look gorgeous.
Decent song, she sounds better than ever, and no one should look that good in leather pants.
Up next, Carrie Underwood appeared to sing her latest (underwood - DioGuardi penned) song, Undo It. OK, I'm thinking this finale must have been sponsored by Tandy Leather Factory - she was spray painted in leather pants, over-the-knee boots, and was wearing a sleeveless bolera from the car parts challenge on Project Runway. It was either made out of hubcaps or floor mats - or both.
Oh hell, she could wear car parts and still look gorgeous.
Decent song, she sounds better than ever, and no one should look that good in leather pants.
They then rolled footage of Crystal and Lee heading to what they thought was a photo shoot, but instead they were greeted by Kris Allen who opened some doors and there they were - remember those custom designed Fiestas they made on the computer at the beginning of the season? Voila!
Crystal's was a sunflower mobile, Lee's was decked in music notes. I'd like to think they were both overwhelmed in the moment because neither one seemed overly excited by the gift.
This led directly into the last Vommercial of Season 9 - Vom Voyage? - Crystal and Lee singing My Wish as clips of all the previous voms rolled past.
Ryan then welcomed Casey to the stage. Wearing his uniform of untucked shirt, JEANS, and not one, but two guitars, he launched into Every Rose Has Its Thorn - good fit for him, he really sounded relaxed, happy, strong. As he ditched the acoustic guitar for the electric, out walked Bret Michaels, trademark bandana and cowboy hat in place.
That, my friends, is a man happy to be alive. You could see it on his face. Like Lee, he was taking in the moment, loving playing live - loving being alive to play. He and Casey jammed together and then it was over too soon. Here's to many more years of improved health, Bret. You rock. Do something better with your life than that ridiculous Rock of Love garbage.
Ryan then intro'd Lee, singing with - who else? Come on, he's from Chicago (sort of) - Chicago!
He started out the medley with Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is? (yeah, time to hit the FF button) - poor Lee, as they went into If You Leave Me Now and the lead singer for group took the vocal reins, his face totally said, "Casey gets Bret Michaels, and I get this???"
Paging Peter Cetera - where are you?????
They finished up with some verses of 25 or 6 to 4, and Lee looked as happy to have it over with as the audience felt. My main concern was for the guys on the horns. I was more afraid they were going to blow a head vein than I was over Bret Michaels.
We then got to check in with Matt Rogers in Illinois - still a big, burly, happy man - be dropped one of the Ugh lines of the evening: We beLEEve Lee is de wyze choice!
Ba dum DUMB.
This was followed by more cheese in this Chipotle burrito of a show - Simon and his infamous flirting - with contestants, judges, himself - of course that included copious footage of his nipple fondling. Then again, he does play with them like they're radio knobs.
Ryan then welcomed back General Larry Platt with four words: Pants On The Ground.
Good lord, I hope I can move that well when I'm that age. As he sang his now infamous ditty, he worked the stage, keeping up with the professional dancers behind him. Go, Larry!
And while this should have been the General's moment in the sun, Idol had to go and take a big steamy dump on it in the form of William Hung - all thugged out and as great a singer as ever.
Seriously disappointed they had to ruin it this way.
They then rolled a sweet interview with Paula talking about Simon, how they first met on the first day of Season 1 auditions - she was seriously taken aback by his blunt-as-a-spoon critiques, but that what she remembers most is all the laughter. It was a very sweet tribute to him, and then *POOF* out she walked.
She looked GORGEOUS. Tan, fit, the right amount of hair, and that dress was perfect for her petite frame. A strapless, bright pink confection is a dress, the skirt made of fabric swirled like giant flowers, set off a pair of serious gams.
Straight up? She was a knockout.
She then rambled a tad, making jokes about their time together, the real reason she left (a lovechild with Simon), and teared up as she gave a heartfelt tribute to him.
Footage then rolled of Simon through the years, as Frank Sinatra's My Way played in the background. The package ended with Simon facing the camera and thanking everyone for "the best 10 years of my life."
Smoothly, this rolled into Kelly Clarkson walking out singing Together We Are One. She was joined, line by line, by each fellow Idol winner - Ruben, Fantasia, Carrie, Jordin, Taylor, and Kris. And as if this wasn't enough, from both sides of the stage, past Idol contestants poured out - I didn't catch all of them, but I did see Justin Guarini, Kimberly Caldwell, Jason Castro, Diana DiGarmo, Smarmoulis, Elliott Yamin, and Bo Bice.
Please tell me I wasn't the only one to tear up at this part. Watching all of these kids, and recognizing so very many, it dawned on me just how many talented hopefuls have passed through our lives the past 10 years and, despite my snark filled recaps, how much fun it has been to chronicle their journeys each season.
Ryan then called Simon to the stage and he gave a very heartfelt thank you to everyone. Nice moment. For him. For them. For everyone who has watched this show through the years, loving to hate him, hating to love him.
Another break and we returned to 10 of the 12 kids (no Crystal or Lee) singing Janet Jackson's Again (have always loved that song). Soon, out walked Miss Jackson herself, dressed like some R & B version of Morticia Addams in a flowy black robe lined with bright red.
She looked amazing. Short hair slicked back, she finished Again, then slid into Nothing (a beautiful song), then went behind the screen to change while the dancers took over - she then emerged to sing Nasty Boy - dressed as the new spokesmodel for Power Spanx - good lord, she rocked that one piece black outfit with nude mesh sides, did she not?
As for the singing? I'm of the opinion there was, at bare minimum, a vocal backing track playing because there was a huge difference between the really smooth singing and when Janet would speak / shout certain lines. But no matter, Janet - that's Miss Jackson, cause I'm nasssty - looked and performed great.
Ryan then rolled footage from the auditions of Crystal and Lee, through Hollywood Week, to their making the Top 24, through 18 different cuts, to where we are now. My personal favorite was the week they did the duet with their guitars - there should certainly be a record together in their future.
They then came out singing (loved that Lee was handed the line What would you do if I sang out of tune? I guess we would stand up and call in some votes for you?) A Little Help From My Friends.
Crystal then welcomed Joe Cocker (?!?!) to the stage.
OK, seriously, I channeled Seth and Amy, "Really????"
Joe Cocker? Come ON. For the moment right before the results? Someone who made most of the viewers go "Who?" and the rest of us go "WTF?"
Oh well, singing (and looking) like the crazy drunk uncle at a wedding, Joe sang with the kids and then mercifully it was over.
One more break and then Ryan stood on the stage with Crystal and Lee, was handed the Telescope certified results, and the lights went down.
So did Lee.
Not kidding. He hunched over, looking like he was about to hork. Crystal was as happy and carefree as could be, and Lee was about to stroke out. Even Bret Michaels was backstage worrying about him popping a vein.
Then Ryan spoke, The winner ... of American Idol 2010 ...
... is ...
... Lee DeWyze.
I honestly thought he was going to do one of two things: Pass out or piss himself right there on stage.
It was in that moment, that I was actually glad he had won. It was obvious over the past couple nights that winning this meant far more to him than it did to Crystal. The raw emotion, the tears, the inability to articulate a full sentence - Lee was overcome.
There were hugs all around, pandemonium in Mt. Prospect, and the words, "Oh my God." from Lee. He managed to add, "I am so happy right now." Then the music kicked in and he had to start singing through tears, Beautiful Day, as the streamers fell, sparks rained from the ceiling, and a confetti snowstorm blew through the Nokia.
And in that moment, I had to agree, yes, Lee, it was a Beautiful Day because despite who we each rooted for, voted for, we got to see another dream come true, and that's never going to be a bad thing.
Nice guys do NOT always finish last, sometimes they finish first, and it's a pretty damned special thing when they do.
Crystal will be fine - that much was written all over her face. She will get to do HER thing, and I know we will be waiting for it.
And so ends Season 9 of American Idol.
I would like to thank all of you for again taking the ride with me, and a special thanks to those of you (you know who you are) who kept me going when this season rode my last nerve like a drunken cowboy on the bull at Gilly's. I appreciate all of you - those who comment faithfully, those who drop into my inbox, and those who come by but stay quietly in the shadows - I hope you have enjoyed the recaps and will stick around for the off season. The web is a big place and it is truly MY honor to have so many of you stop by and spend your time here at DGMS.
This is precious. Her name is Dillie. She is legally blind, and having been raised by this family, now considers herself one of them. :O) This is the news piece about her, but you can always stop by the Dillie Cam and see if she is lounging in her bedroom. I just did, and there she was, happily snoozing.
Insert music from Gunsmoke into your mental 8 track...
Dust swirls across the setting (No wait, that's a smoke machine).
Somewhere in the distance a lone coyote howls (or is that Paula Abdul still complaining about being replaced?)
Lightning flashes in the distance. (No, wrong again. That's just the lightshow.)
And two fierce competitors prepare to meet for a duet duel to the death.
OK, ok maybe we don't have that much of a wild west showdown taking place, but the outcome will still be the same. When the smoke machine stops pumping, and the confetti stops raining down, only one will emerge victorious Wednesday night.
Will it be a down-to-earth young mother from Ohio, or a down-to earth young paint shaker from Illinois?
I'll be honest with you - I'm fine with either outcome. Nice kids both, talented, too, and the only liquid that will be shed in this duel are tears of happiness. I highly doubt either Lee or Crystal will resent the other taking the crown.
That might make for slightly boring viewing, but it is also a breath of fresh air in the reality TV world heavily polluted with cynicism, Snookies, and backstabbing Housewives.
Belly on up to the bar, grab your favorite beverage, and let's get this showdown underway...
As the nameless faces of thousands of Season 9 hopefuls floated across the screen, so, too, floated the words...
What does it take to be an Idol? Is it just luck? (Um, yeah, a good portion of it is. Add in some vocal ability, good hair, a hardknock life story, a Zoom smile...)
Or is it something else? (the ability to fill a particular voting demographic? See Aaron Kelly.)
As they began to roll clips from the past 5 months of our two finalists, it dawned on me that part of Crystal's problem recently is that she peaked very early. She set a bar so high that we continually waited for her to breach it and go higher.
In short, she began to suffer from Andrewgarciastraightupitus.
Lee, on the other hand, has enjoyed a slow boil. Never setting the expectation so high that he could not possibly do a tad better the following week.
As their voiceovers stated, "I will be the next American Idol," suddenly, there he was ... our emcee at the nOKia Corral, Ryatt Twerp: "but only 1 will make good on that promise. THIS is their final chance, and THIS. IS. AMERICAN. IDOL."
Throw up the house lights and reveal a packed-to-the-rafters Nokia. OK, I admit it, my sphincter clinched for Lee and Crystal as I saw that many people - 7,000.
Ryan then descended a set of flashing, lighted stairs that would make Tony Manero green with envy.
A hello to the judges revealed Randy in a costume from a bad 70's porno - bright red dinner jacket over a hallucinogenic paisley button down; Ellen looked neat in navy; from the neck up Kara looked ready for a junior league luncheon - hair swept back. From the neck down her cleavage was sponsored by the Brazil Tourism Board. Hers was only matched, however, by Simon's. Dapper in a pinstripe suit, he also wore a deeply unbuttoned white dress shirt.
Ryan then welcomed Crystal and Lee who entered down the two aisles through the massive crowd. Poor Crystal dropped her microphone, Lee just about dropped his lunch - he looked petrified.
Once they made it to the safety of the stage, both seemed to relax, and marveled at the crowd before heading backstage while Ryan explained they would each sing three songs: 1. Their favorite pick from the season 2. Exec Producer Simon Fuller's choice for them. 3. The single each will release should they win. What? No This Is My Moment In The Now Of My Life's Boundaries?
As usual, a coin toss decided who would sing when - Crystal won, and in true Idol strateegery, chose to sing second, all the better to cement her in the minds of the voters.
Before Lee sang his first choice, The Boxer, from Inspirational Songs week, they rolled a tape of his parents talking about his childhood when they thought he was going to be a ball player - cute to see Lee as a little tyke. Then they cut to Lee talking about dreaming of being a "rock star." Hmmmm, ball player / rock star. Both hard dreams to chase - nice to see one coming true...
On stage, Lee was definitely polished up for Idol's Prom night in a nice blazer and white T, holding his guitar. I think the song was a good choice, aside from the fact that it suffered from now seeming like he has sung it too many times - in reality he only sang it once on the show, but last week they showed him singing it during his trip home, so it felt, albeit unfairly, like McPhee Rainbow overkill.
That being said, he sounded fine, and if I have to nitpick anything, it would be the distracting, gummy spit strings in his mouth as he sang. I know, I know - I cannot imagine the the degree of nerve induced dry mouth he must have had, but still, I had to look away a few times.
Randy called it a "nice song" and said he "sounded nice" but then reprimanded him to "pick it up." (Um yeah, Randy, you're right. He should have been breakdancing during this slow song. Asshat.) Ellen said she "couldn't be prouder if I birthed you myself"; Kara quipped "you gotta punch harder" but loved that he "connected to it"; Simon wanted more "passion," likening it to "a kiss on the cheek when I want a kiss on the lips," quickly adding, "not from you."
Crystal's tape featured her father reminiscing on her beginnings in music, and she fessed up to snooping for Christmas presents and stumbling upon a guitar. Again, great pictures of her growing up, and of her first gig as a young teen singing in a mall coffee house.
Dressed like a modern Miss Kitty in a skirt, western duster, and cowboy boots, Crystal, too, held her guitar to reprise Me and Bobby McGee from Billboard Week.
Watching her, listening to her - you just know in your gut, she is born to this. And this performance was all it took to take us right back to when we first fell in love - it was like a church tent revival - rousing, upbeat, toe tapping, and above all, it made me smile. I can only imagine the feeling of the energy in that place as she performed.
Randy said it "started a little slow" but overall was "dope"; Ellen called it "stunning" and talked about how Crystal is "so compelling on stage"; Kara said Crystal has "a fire in her belly"; Simon agreed with me, echoing my notes of "brought us back to when we absolutely fell in love with you." Hmmmm, Simon and I often agree, perhaps I should submit a resume? I hear there's a job opening soon...
Up next, Lee took on Simon Fuller's selection of the R.E.M. song Everybody Hurts. Again at center stage, again shielded by his guitar, Lee was dressed in JEANS, a white T, and ... hey ... I never knew Members Only worked in suede.
OK, his voice was actually very strong and he seemed to feel the words, but as the Idol Tabernacle Choir and band kicked in, he really started to get drowned out. What was a good song choice for him quickly became less about him and more about Ricky Minor and the Minorettes.
Randy said, comparing it to the first song, that it was "definitely better" and that he could feel Lee's "passion vocally"; Ellen noted "a couple times you really started to get into it, then pulled back"; Kara said that while it "wasn't a perfect vocal" she loved how "emotionally accessible" Lee is; Simon called it a "brilliant choice of song," noted Lee was "a bit off the melody in parts," said he could tell Lee is "nervous" and then asked that the last performance be a "10 out of 10 - you're capable of it."
But no pressure...
When Ryan announced Simon Fuller had chosen Black Velvet, my first impulse was to cringe. That song has been more abused than the box springs in a whorehouse. But then, this was Crystal...
Standing at the top of the stairs, bathed in the glow of an Amsterdam whorehouse - how many red lights were there? - she wore a fitted black cocktail dress with a kicky ruffle of satin and heels. As she began to walk, one was quickly reminded that she is not Sarah Jessica Parker. Manolos are definitely NOT Crystal's wHEELhouse.
Once she got down the stairs without falling, she seemed to relax and went to town on the song. Good lord, I LOVE the rasp in her voice - it brings life, color, emotion. Another rousing success.
Randy shouted, "Mamasox is in it to win it!"; Ellen called it "fantastic" and gave her a standing O; Kara said, "You want it, you can tell"; Simon remarked that after so many butchered versions in auditions he is "almost allergic to that song," but that Crystal "took that song and you absolutely nailed it - very impressed."
For round 3, Idol finally gave up the insipid, specially-penned-for-the-finale, saccharine, syrupy ballad and chose songs to suit each contestant. Lee went first with U2's Beautiful Day.
OK, tough one to be handed - that song belongs to Bono - you don't have to hear it, to hear it in your head, the way he sings it, the inflections, the highly stylized nature of it.
Lee walked out in JEANS and a black leather jacket, and props to him, no guitar. Unfortunately, no guitar showcases that Lee has no comfort level on stage when it is just him. So he walked to Matilda, planted the microphone in her neck and clung to her like Rose on the floating door in the Atlantic.
No matter how big the song got, how loud the band played, the most movement Lee mustered was to rhythmically bop his right foot up and down on the floor. The song suffered from his lack of ability to work the stage and the crowd.
On the plus side, I truly enjoyed seeing him take in his Beautiful Day - his eyes raked the enormity of the Nokia and you could see the enormity of that moment reflected on his face.
But again, Bono can rest easy.
Randy complimented him on his "strong, big rock voice"; Ellen, too, liked watching his eyes and seeing him "fully present in that song"; Kara played Debbie Downer and commented that he was "swallowed up a bit in that song," but then added Lee has "one of the most commercial voices of the season"; Simon said "he made the most if it" and that Lee represented "what this competition was designed for." He ended with, "I genuinely wish the best for you."
As for Lee's final thoughts? He called the whole experience "amazing" and stated that "I want to be doing this for a long time" and that he truly appreciates all the support.
And then he collapsed in a heap on the floor.
OK, no he didn't, but the relief at having the songs done was more than evident. Knowing that it was now out of his hands (and vocal cords) seemed to allow him to finally breathe.
One more break and Crystal was back to sing what will be her single should the confetti cascade down her dreads Wednesday night, the lesser known spiritual Up To The Mountain by Patti Griffin.
Sitting on Bar, dressed in JEANS, boots, a one shouldered black top, a blackbird stuck behind one ear, and an odd choice of rhinestoned chainlink fence wrapped around her neck, Crystal simply played her guitar - and all was perfect.
The emotion poured through the lyrics as Crystal's voice, and the subdued sound of the back-up singers, filled the Nokia. It was that elusive "moment" the judges are always talking about - when everything comes together and the crowd rises and falls with the performer through every single note.
As Crystal got to the last line, she began to tear up, overcome, and I admit, she took me with her there, too. It was a three hanky moment.
Randy called it an "amazing song by an amazing singer"; Ellen said "If you make a CD, I'll buy it. If you go on tour, I'll watch you. If you make a salad, I'll eat it."; Kara - quick question: was she wearing huge granite jelly beans from her ears? Never mind. - she said Crystal was "completely, emotionally invested in that song - amazing."
And before Simon could chime in - Crystal spoke and said, "You have been amazing - thank you." She then wished him luck with his future endeavors, "not that you need that from me." It was a sweet moment.
Simon called it "by far the best performance and song of the night" and then said that as his final critique on American Idol, "That was OUTSTANDING." I think even Simon was happy to be able to offer up nothing but praise on his way out the door.
Crystal's final thoughts? She is "incredibly grateful."
And with that, they rolled the replays, the crowd was on its feet, and another season of Idol competition came to an end. It's all over now but the confetti and pyrotechnics. (And of course, two hours of GROUP SONGS, guest performances, and cameos by auditioners who made a name for themselves without ever getting a Golden Ticket - The General, anyone?)
Personally, I think what Crystallized Tuesday night is that one of these young people is a star performer - the complete package - and one of these young people is a nice guy with a nice career if he wants it.
So, who is in Camp Crystal, and who just wants their paintcans shaken by Lee? (You know what I mean.)
It amazes me what passes for amusement these days.
Or in the case of this fabulous foursome, abusement.
They would be Ryan Fisk, 19, Travis Johnston, 18, Blake Vannest, 18, and Donald Wyman, 20.
Tracy had sent this story to me late last week, but I did not have time to write. I'm actually glad because five days ago the mug shots of these thug shits were not available yet.
Ahhhhh, the future of this great nation.
This brain trust was arrested after it came to light that they tattooed a mentally and emotionally challenged student against his will.
Yeah. Makes a body proud, don't it?
The young man was an easy target, in fact, Vannest told prosecutors the boy was always picked on.
According to the boy, these four told him he wouldn't get picked on anymore if he let them tattoo him. (Deal with the devils, anyone?) A person identified as "Daddy" (what the young man was told to call him, but who is apparently Fisk) was called by the boys and came over with a tattoo gun in a metal case. They inked him in the basement of one of these boys with the image of a penis and the words POOP DICK. We're not talking a teeny butterfly and the words Love Jesus here.
The young man told a school official the next day and police were called.
Of course, they proclaim their innocence. Except one. As the investigation has gone on, one has found a skosh of conscience. Wyman told reporters, "At this point, I feel absolutely terrible about what was done. It was a joke that went way too far and ended terribly."
I see. You are 20 years old and can only, in hindsight, see what assholes you and your friends are? That maybe, just maybe, you should find a better hobby than picking on the weakest in the herd?
You are all pathetic.
(As for the ages? They are all still in high school. The principal would not specify, but said several of them are special ed students who are required to be in school until age 21.)
The bottom line here is more bullying. More kids thinking it is not only OK, but some form of personal amusement to ridicule, tease, torture other kids.
It's not. And until more parents get involved and STAY INVOLVED in what their children are doing in school, after school, and online - AND HAVE CONSEQUENCES FOR THE BULLIES WHEN IT HAPPENS - this is only going to get worse. When the news is filled with stories of physical violence, bullying that ends in suicide, and permanently disfiguring another person?
Well, the writing is on the wall - only this time it's also on a child.
OK, call me sappy, but I was just here trying to make sense of the piles on my desk and I started to think about tonight's American Idol.
And then specifically about Crystal and Lee. It made me smile to think about what they must be up to right this moment. Last minute prep, rehearsals, trying to eat, but not being hungry at all, nervous, flushed, excited, and marveling at the surreality of this whole thing.
It may not have been the most riveting season, but the human component of this show is what has made it last.
Whether you are in the Crystal Camp or a Lee fan, tonight's show should be a good one, with two really nice kids on the verge of their lives changing forever.