Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Back blogging soon

Watch this space ... 

I think I have again reached a sufficient degree of crazy-creativity to start blogging after a very very long absence. The absence can be ascribed to my participation in a field study I like to call "Trying to fit in to everyday life, as normal people are expected to do".

Hopefully my blogs will bring a smile to the one or two lost souls who happen to stumble onto this blog every now and then ... whether as a result of an (un)fortunate coincidence or out of absolute boredom ... more often than not probably the latter.
Chances are also very good that the smile will come at my expense, as I will probably be reflecting on some unfortunate situation I find myself in (most likely because of my big mouth and constant and unwavering support from Murphy and his Law).

Stay tuned, stay true, stay strong and most importantly stay semi-sane.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Most Random of Random Thoughts - A Recap

Ok, so I am back ... emptying my random thoughts to my one reader and the other personalities talking to me in my head (it can get a bit loud in there with so many 'people' speaking at once).

Since the American Idol finals my, yours and probably everyone's mutual frenemy Murphy has been doing his best to implement his well-known and despised law as strictly as possible in my life.

But before I get into that I would just like to say that I was so on the money in calling Lee DeWyze as the winner of American Idol. When he sings, he sings with his soul and that carries a message even more so than someone with a brilliant voice but no emotion behind the words they sing. His version of REM's "Everybody hurts" had me in tears with the real artistic depth that he showed in his performance. And U2's "Beautiful day"! Wow! To quote my favourite character on How I Met Your Mother: "It was legen ... wait for it ... dary!!!" Just one (ok maybe two) comments. First, to the judges who complained that Lee did not show enough energy in his first song, I just want to ask ... what were you smoking because Simon and Garfunkel were certainly not doing a little happy dance while composing and performing "The Boxer". Listen to the words and just maybe you will get that it is a song with raw emotion and not an empty candy floss pop song. At least America had the common sense to pick up on that. Secondly, I must admit that Crystal's last song was amazing. It suited her voice and really allowed her to express herself in a manner that I did not see throughout the season. However, "Black Velvet" was not as good as the judges made it out to be (by no fault of Crystal I must add). As Simon Fullers choice, she interpreted as best she could, but she looked very uncomfortable throughout the whole performance. When I think "Black Velvet" I think sultry and seductive, and unfortunately those dimensions were sadly missing in Crystal's interpretation but at least she stayed true to herself, so I have to give her props. All in all I really enjoyed the final. But I was not prepared to ball my eyes out with Simon's farewell. Idol will just not be the same without him. Idol without Simon is kind of like a banana-split without the banana ... very dull as only vanilla ice cream can be.

In any case, moving on to frenemy nr 1 ... Murphy. I have no decided to do a bit of research on the legend/myth/crime against humanity that is Murphy's law and will blog about it as soon as I have come up with some decent answers, because I really want to know why the universe likes Murphy's law so much that it enforces it with such vigour on days that you really just need a break. So over the weeks it has range from little incidents like buying a latte with the last coffee money of the month just to let it drop before even the first sip (for a self confessed coffeeholic that is torture believe me) to someone opening their car door on my new car (which I will be paying off for the next five years) while I am standing in my lane at the red robot adhering to the rules of the road like a good little lemming with the dude (who apparently likes using middle lanes as bus stops to drop off people) staring at me like I did something wrong and driving off to avoid any sort of responsibility. Society has really evolved with responsibility, honesty and other ethical standards are fully embraced on a daily basis. (Note the sarcasm).

Eventually I must say that the tide turned and I am very grateful to the Big Man Upstairs for stepping in and kicking Murphy's uncooperative behind into next year, because only by an act of grace am I sitting here writing this blog once again. What you ask happened? Well, I work for the heart of Lalaland (lets not get technical so that I can avoid troubling questions from the powers that be at work) that shares certain regulatory ambitions with the mythical Murphy. So Monday (would it be any other day) comes and after a loooong meeting where a lot of people spoke for loooong periods of time without saying anything, myself and three friends decided to award ourselves with lunch and ventured out into the great city. Deciding on taking a short cut out of the supposedly heavily guarded building we took the lift down to the lower level parking lot. An unfamiliar face took the corner as we stepped out of the lift and made our way to the exit. He was walking at a quick pace and looked slightly tense holding on to the front of his jacket, but stranger people have been seen in and around the building so we walked towards him laughing and joking amongst ourselves with no apparent care in the world .... until .... the police came charging around the corner, guns in hand shouting at us to get away from the guy because he has a gun, at which time he pulled the gun and luckily bolted away from us further into the underground of the Lalaland support-staff building. Needless to say adrenalin kicked in an my feet took me as far and as fast away from the danger zone as possible, while the curious minds of the general public came running down the street towards the building regardless of the warnings of "man with a gun" being screamed from all side. My deductions: Life is short, so appreciate every moment. People are generally insane, but only the brave care to admit it. Really what sane person runs towards danger (with the exception of those officers devoted to society's protection.)

So that is that. I am alive, I am grateful and I am still just a little crazy (just enough to make life fun).

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Random Subjective Ramblings on the American Idol Semi-finals Result Show

If you (my possible one and only reader) live in a country that does not get to see American Idol live (even if at 3 am in the morning) and you want to wait to see the show for yourself to find out who is the top final two stop reading already.

Short teaser: Some woman had Casey sign her dog! I am thinking potential future stalker. Crystal played hide and seek with her fans (limo style) and signed a guys chest (he said he was going to turn it into a tattoo) and Lee being his sincere humble self sang “The Boxer” to a stadium full of adoring fans. All in all, not a bad show. And the results you ask? Well, read on if you want to know more …

As I don’t celebrity stalk on Twitter I saw how Perez Hilton looks for the first time, albeit it at 3am in the morning with blurry vision. (Yes, some of us actually use Twitter to stay up to date with what is happening in the world news wise, while selectively following the tweets of witty individuals … with Bryan Adams as my one exception as I have been a fan since 1995) Getting back to Perez, I don’t know what all the hype is about. He did not leave a lasting albeit it early morning impression. I only faintly remember a somewhat weird (perhaps rather different) laugh and his music taste leaves much to be desired if he thinks Travis Garland is better than Justin Timberlake. Travis is good, but definitely not better in my humble opinion. Well at least Travis has one thing going for him; unlike Jason Derulo he won’t have to sing his name at the beginning of every song so that people won’t forget who he is.

OK, perhaps waking up at 3am after a very early 2am rise the previous day made me cranky … so maybe Perez and Travis will still grow on me, but I still think Jason Whats-his-name is way to egocentric for me to waste thinking, blogging or even breathing time on him, regardless of my mood or the time of day.

So, with my sanity still questionable and a hot cup of cappuccino (absolute heaven on a cold winter morning) I focussed to listen to … wait for it … Justin Bieber.  Don’t fall off you desk chair, but the kid actually didn’t sound bad singing “You Smile”, but then he went and tainted my new found deference for him by following it up with his “baby, baby” phenomenon. Maybe it is the fact that I see his music video in my minds-eye when I hear the song and it is just so wrong because they got him paired up with someone that looks twice his age in that video … So wrong on so many levels … And the lyrics remain repetitive to the point that I think my IQ drops every time I hear it. But (and this is a big but) the kid has some mad skills behind the drums, got to give him some props for that.

After that personal revelation, the show neared to an end …
I held my breath, scared to move and miss an important moment …

Ryan started the tension filled final 10 minutes with his trade mark “Dim the Lights. And here we go”.
He first looked to Lee the springy care-free Giselle … paused … and said: “The first person in next weeks finale”!!!
Then Ryan turned to the remaining two and without drawing the moment out to the extent that it actually becomes cruel, he quickly looked to Crystal and said “joining Lee”.

I really felt bad for Casey, because he is undoubtedly a good artist and a phenomenal guitar player … but I think he can help Hanson make a come back, because he kind of looks like he good have been the 4th member/brother. But all jokes aside, Casey is a living example of the fact that you should never give up on your dreams, because for someone who was so badly injured in an accident that doctors told him he would never play guitar again, he sure will be playing his way into people’s hearts for a very long time to come.

But can I just say … I so saw this coming! My prediction was so on the money, baby!
In the final of American Idol is Lee and Crystal!!! America you based your decision on performance, and you got it right.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Random Subjective Ramblings on the American Idol Semi-finals

So I decided to watch the American Idol 2010 Semi-finals and showed my dedication by setting my alarm for 2 am South African time Wednesday morning 19 May. (And as my friend Alma already so aptly pointed out this morning I am crazy and should not complain about sleep deprivation because I brought this on myself. Noted. Agreed. Luckily not yet Certified and Committed.)

So with freshly brewed coffee to wake up the mind, I listened to what the judges had to say about each contestant, just to make sure that may favorite (Lee Dewyze) was still on track to win it. With the contestants each singing two songs (own choice and judges’ choice) Ryan Seacrest opened the show with his well-known and now-expected dramatic entrance.      

First up was Casey James with a less than memorable performance. It was so unimpressive that I probably would not have remembered the name of the song if it didn’t describe the performance so accurately: "OK, It's Alright with Me". In fact it was so unimpressive that I am still wondering whether it actually had a chorus, because everything sounded the same … slow and boring. (If I didn’t have my coffee I would not have been awake to hear Crystal and Lee sing.) The Judges for once all agreed that his song choice left much to be desired and was not the type of song you choose when you are trying to reach the finals.    

Crystal Bowersox was up next and although she was good in her own unique way, her performance of "Come to My Window" by Melissa Etheridge left me with a similar feeling of disappointment driving me to make yet another cup of coffee because next up was Lee and his performance was sure to be remarkable in contrast to his two fellow contestants.   

And he did not disappoint. Singing Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man” he truly connected with the song. Ellen stated that he had grown from a lamb to a Giselle or something similarly springy (a very Ellen-like comment that you just got to love). Simon’s comment however was the one that set the scene for the rest of the show: “I don’t think you won round one. I think you crushed the other two.

Ironically Kara was one of the judges to pick the next song for Casey. Now for those who have not been following Idols, Kara has been drooling over Casey since he first auditioned. As a result I constantly question her objectivity when it comes to arguably “the best guitar player the show has seen” as noted by Brian Mansfield in the USA Today of 12 March 2010. Luckily someone in the Idols family presumably shares my perspective as Randy teamed up with Kara and together they picked “Daughters” by John Mayer for Casey to sing. Regardless of the level-headed Randy’s clear influence, Kara could not help but point out that the reason behind the song choice was the fact that Casey’s target audience is mainly women and girls. Not surprisingly, both Randy and Kara found that the song suited Casey, while Ellen so wittily expanded on Kara’s earlier comment by stating that Casey’s audience may include mothers, daughters and sons. Simon however, being himself, ignored all the other judges and stated that the song lacked arrangement and found the climax to be the guitar solo. Ouch. I agree with Simon though, Casey sounded good but the “song didn’t have that wow factor” that you look for in a semi-final. 
Crystal stepped it up with Ellen’s choice, singing Paul McCartney’s “Maybe I'm Amazed”. She surprised by appearing on the stage without her guitar and really won my respect by showing range and artistic guts. At this stage I decided that Crystal deserved a place in the final showdown as reflected in the comments of the judges: 
Randy: “We have someone else in it to win it right here.
Ellen: “I couldn’t ask for more.”
Kara: “No instrument. Huge risk for you and I think it paid off."

Simon explained that he was initially somewhat perplexed by Ellen’s choice, but got it afterwards when he saw that it allowed Crystal to show soul and declared himself of opinion that Crystal would make it to the final.

And then came Simon’s choice for Lee, “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen. Simon explained that he decided on that song as he was of the view that “we will ever hear it like Lee is gonna do it.” And Simon was right as per usual. Listening to Lee’s version of this well-known hit I got chills and goosebumps. Words such as 'amazing' and 'angelic' (to sound very corny) sprung to mind without delving further into the alphabet. Simon's smile said it all. If Lee does not get a place in the final during the result show (at 3am South African time) I will be in a state of shock and will probably have myself certified and committed. Randy even proclaimed that “Lee through down the gauntlet” and that this performance was “Lee’s biggest moment on the show and in his career.” Yet, Lee was still his humble self and thanked Simon and the other of the judges for their comments: 

Ellen: “That was just stunning.
Kara: “Lee you are what this song is all about ...  you are the heart of the season”.
Simon: “I am very proud of you ... You proven that you are a fantastic singer and great person.” (My favorite Idols moment ever!!! Simon showing is soft side.)  

America Please Vote Vote Vote. Don't let the rest of the world down. Sorry Casey, you have a great voice, but although I am not clairvoyant I am willing to bet that it's going to be Lee and Crystal in the final. How ironic through that Lee possibly sang his way into the final with a Lynryd Skynryd song and Justin Biebier will be performing at the result show that sets the scene for the final show down. I wonder what he will sing, "baby, baby, baby, ooooo"?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Random Subjective Ramblings on Contemporary Music

Ok, so transport strikes in Lalaland equates to 2 hours in traffic (for what should have been a 30 minute commute) equates to lots of radio listening equates to lots of time to think results in the following ramblings of the day …

6am and listening to Lady Gaga on 5fm singing “Telephone”. It got me pondering the actual meaning of contemporary music, if any. Don’t get me wrong, I am still young enough to have adequate knowledge of Bieber Fever and alike, but I find myself drawn more to the older hits. I find myself rather listening to songs that tell a story, with lyrics to which the writer/composer actually gave some though and did not merely come up with by walking through the house identifying electrical devices to serenade. I am for example thinking of "Hotel California" by the Eagles and "Hazard" by Richard Marx. Songs with lyrics that actually touch your soul and does not merely equate to you head bopping to a meaningless beat …

Beat? That also got me thinking. There are few modern songs that actually have a proper melody if you take away the ode to the electrical appliance. All you hear is a beat. There is no melodic inspiration, nothing that moves you to be happy or sad, nothing serendipitous. Everything sounds more or less the same. If I must describe the current trend in one word it would be “homogenous”.

Perhaps I have an old soul, but I think Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky got it right with “The Flight of the Bumble Bee” and “Sugar Plum Fairy” respectively, because they painted a vivid picture with only the bare notes to such an extent that you could see the story without any need for lyrics.

I think I am going to call dibs on the toaster oven as the next big thing to sing about. I may just make my first million that way. How difficult can it be? I will at least be justified in using the word “Hot” more than 20 times in the chorus and end it of with “Oooooouch” in stead of the over-used “Ooooo”.

And for those who are still pondering why I am one of the few people that have not yet caught Bieber Fever (not denying that he can sing, but merely question what he chooses to sing), I think it is because I take the antidote on a daily basis: ¼ “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd, ¼ “Summer of 69” by Bryan Adams, ¼ “Paint it Black” by the Rolling Stones, and ¼ “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen. Shake well and let your soul soar to musical enlightenment …