Sunday, April 28, 2013

And the winner of Contest #3 is...

Elizabeth D!!!!!

Congratulations! E-mail me your address and how you'd like the booklets signed, and I'll get them in the mail on Monday!

Next week, the 4th and final drawing! Stay tuned!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

AI Season 12- Top 4 Elimination

The letters appear across the screen, one at a time: What a week it's been. Then we get time-stamped clips: Janelle went home, the rest had interviews, rehearsals, Red Carpet appearances, recordings, more rehearsals, photo ops, a hospital visit, Brit Week, and then on the air. Yeah, I imagine they are pretty tired by now.

Ryan says that the results start now, and his pants don't burst into flame.

Nicki is wearing tight white pants, black short boots, and a very bright red leather zip-front jacket. Mariah sashays in a tight, sparkly silver strapless gown. Randy is also wearing a bright red jacket, but in a shade that clashes totally with Nicki's.

At the hospital the girls sang for some of the ambulatory patients, and then were joined by a few for a  sing-along. The girls seem moved and the kids enjoyed it, and one of the adults (maybe a worker, maybe a well dressed parent) rocked her bad self out.

Back on stage, the girls sing Alicia Keyes's This Girl is on Fire, which is the least musical of Alicia's entire catalog. Angie starts at the piano, and then joins the others, displaying her supernatural ability to know where the camera is at all times.

The Ford Fiesta Mission  is for the girls to spend the day hanging out with Ryan, the joke being that he's everywhere at once, and nowhere at all, always speeding on to the next appointment before the girls arrive. The payoff is that there are actually four Ryans. That was mildly amusing, as is the finish with the girls reading the chyron badly, in turn, as Ryan arrives late to the stage.

The girls are tasked with naming five things about themselves in 20 seconds, no rehearsal and no do-overs. They have a hard time coming up with five things.
Angie: hates the color pink, lives in heels, loves olives
Kree: once bitten by a snake, loves Rap, sucks
Candice: loves Spongebob, sleeps in socks, loves Drake, loves the color purple (the actual color, not the play, though she may love the play too. I don't know).
Amber: prefers showers to baths, likes 90 degree weather, was on the Drill Team, loves neon green, and has a pierced septum (and yes, that's six things- Amber wins).

Jimmy Iovine's individual analysis:

Amber (red sleeveless top which does not cover her belly button, black shortie shorts, denim shirt tied around the waist, stilettos, curly hair) was great on Power of Love, but McArthur Park is a stupid song and Amber didn't make it any smarter.

Kree (black drapey loose top, black pants) needed to redeem herself but didn't. Bad song choices.

We interrupt the analyses to bring back Stefano Langone, who was not one of my favorites during his season. He looks the same, except for the hipster glasses during his interview. He has a record contract, and is still annoyingly overconfident. Onstage, he's wearing a black jacket with a velvet collar and a scoop-necked white tee. His new single has a stripped down arrangement- just Stefano, a guy with a guitar, and a guy on a piano. It's called Yes to Love and it is surprisingly tolerable. I think he sounds better now than he did during his season, and he's miles ahead of any of this season's guys.

Back to the Iovine Analysis:

Candice (denim tie-front top, black pants) has a big voice which she needs to protect. Her song choices this week were too safe.

Ryan tells Candice that Drake left a recorded message, which begins to play, and then Drake (beige hospital scrubs. seriously) comes out on stage, and Candice loses her shit in a really adorable way.

I'm still bitter that Lee DeWyze won Season 9 over Crystal Bowersox. Lee met and married his wife after Idol, and now he's working on a new album, which is nice for him given that his debut album is the worst selling of all the winning records (including the reviled Taylor Hicks). His song is Silver Lining. He's wearing a black suit and playing a guitar. There are lots of folks on stage- a bass player, a fiddler, a banjo player, a drummer, and three or four backup singers. The song starts slow but in the middle it speeds up, all hoe-down like. At any speed, it's a pretty terrible song.

More Iovine:

Angie (splotchy red, white and black sleeveless top, black pants with raveled knees, straight hair) won the night with two great songs and two great performances, but she's more natural at the piano, and should stay there.

So finally- Ryan divides the girls on stage, Amber and Candice on one side, and Angie and Kree on the other, which is absolutely not the split I was expecting. He only wastes a little time before saying that Candice and Amber are in the bottom two, which no one saw coming. Especially Kree. And Candice, who is not holding it together very well.

Ryan says one o f them "could be leaving tonight", which tells me all I need to know, because guess what? No one is leaving.

Do I know this show, or what?

An extra week was built into the schedule for the Judge's Save, which wasn't used. So next week, all 4 sing again, but the votes from this week will be added in. Given the unexpected pairing tonight, I'm not making any bets as to which one will go home next week.

Thursday Tab, Play Housekeeping, Lowe 1961

Paper furniture rather than clothes this week. But at least we get a flock of Busy Housewives!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

AI Season 12- Top 4 Performance

We start with clips of each of the girls' original auditions (this season's auditions, not Candice's Season 11 audition). We're reminded that Amber liked shortie short shorts back then too.

Nicki is wearing a sleeveless wild animal print dress with a vaguely Empire waist, a gathered skirt, and a black and white polka dot neck ruffle. Mariah is in a royal blue mullet sack with a train. The slouchy neckline slouches deeply. Very deeply. I didn't notice what the guys wore owing to the danger that Mariah's unfettered chesticals could fall out of that deeply slouched neckline.

The Gals all visited LA's Children's Hospital to cheer the little ones. We'll get clips from each visit.

#1. Amber brought hats and craftiness to the sick kids, who are all pretty adorable, and some of whom are seriously ill.

She's wearing a rather attractive white and black belted jumpsuit with cut out sides and back (and *attractive* and *jumpsuit* are two words I never thought I'd type together). Her hair is really curly, and it looks nice that way. She's singing Power of Love, and doing very well with it, standing still at the top of the stairs. She begins a Capella, and builds with a controlled and lovely performance.
K-N-R Standing O.
K- that song was tailor-made for Amber
N: calls Amber a big sexy glass of milk
R: no fear, you are ready (repeated several times)
M: showed amazing range, # POW
JI: detected a small strain in Amber's voice, will be difficult to beat

#2. Candice played peek-a-boo with the most adorable little bald girl at the hospital.

She's wearing a loose black top with white (or maybe silver) zig-zags, black stretchy pants, soft curls, and huge shiny earrings. They keep talking about Drake, and saying the words hip-hop, which fill me with dread. But I should not have worried. If the song was originally rap, Candice changed it. It's smooth and jazzy. The lyrics consist mostly of five words (*I better find your lovin'*). She gets lots of applause, but no Standing O.
N: Knows Drake and promises he'll send a message tomorrow, loves Candice's vocal, but wishes she had stuck to the original melody
R: crazy vocal, but it's not necessary to throw in so m any runs
M: wonderful vocal, but the performance skewed Adult Contemporary
K: agrees with Nicki, thinks Candice is still finding herself
JI: agrees with Nicki

#3. Kree spent time at the hospital singing to preemies and hugging worried mamas.

She's wearing a belted red shirt and black leather pants, with orange lipstick. This song is Standard Country Smokey Bar stuff. Kree is trying to show sultry emotion, but the effort shows. I also think I hear a few off notes. It's okay, but not up to the first two performances.
R: Kree loves the blues, but this was maybe not her best vocal
M: babble babble
K: all four girls are exceptional, but Kree needs to show more emotion and connection
N: that performance will not put Kree through this week
JI: agrees with Nicki
Kree smiles bravely but she is barely holding back the tears.

#4. Angie visited with toddlers and got lots of hugs.

She's singing Jessie J's Who You Are, wearing a black dress with white splotches, and an odd leather harness-like collar that goes around her neck like a yoke, extends down the center front and then turns into a belt. Her hair is straight and flat tonight, and I like it a lot better than her usual Big Curls. She's sitting at a white piano, with blue lighting,. The judges love love love Angie at the piano, but I think her high register is thin and screechy. The lighting turns orange, which is a little unsettling. During the lively parts, Angie bounces on the piano stool like it's been electrified. This is not a horrible performance, but it's nothing I'd want to hear again.
K-N-R Standing O
M: Says she would have stood too but her train was caught under a chair wheel
K: Angie begins too prim and proper but lets loose at the end
N: loves Angie at the piano
R: 10 out of 10 out of 10, best performance of the night so far, in it to win it
JI: Angie is neck and neck with Amber

Amber (odd skinny pants with huge color blocks in shades of blue, a shortie denim vest, and a black tank) is dueting Adele's Rumor Has it with Kree (softer hair- I think it's been changed from a center part to a side part, and black top over the same black pants). Kree sounds much better on this song, but Amber has clearly taken over the lead on the duet. I love the Tribal Drums.
K: the girls sound really good together
N: Amber has grown so much and commands the stage, Kree has lost her confidence
No time for Randy and Mariah to babble

Angie (black shorts romper and boots that look like those things you use to hang from the ceiling to do upside-down stomach crunches) and Candice (short-sleeved black top, black pants, smaller earrings) will sing Rhianna's Stay. I worried about this pairing, but I needn't have. Candice is perfect as always, and even Angie is head-wagglingly fierce. This pair is playing off each other perfectly.
K-N-R Standing O.
R: yo yo yo un-believable yo yo yo
M: babbles over Randy

Ryan informs us that the second theme of the night is One Hit Wonders. For a moment, I hope that we'll get to hear one of older girls sing Afternoon Delight, but it very soon becomes apparent that the show has not the slightest idea what a One Hit Wonder is. I'm getting ahead of myself here, but every one of the next four songs was recorded several times, a Bilboard charter several times, written by award winning writers, and sung by people/bands with multiple studio albums (and in many cases awards). Nothing about any of aspect of any of these songs qualifies them for this category. I'll provide links for each, if my head doesn't explode first.

#5. Amber is in a tight, short, bright orange shirred dress with darker side panels, and white gladiator boots. She's singing McArthur Park,written by Jimmy Webb ( many Grammys, inducted in the Songwriter Hall of Fame), and a #2 Billboard hit for Richard Harris (multiple Grammys). Amber is singing the Donna Summer version. Yeah, that Donna Summer, who is probably the absolute opposite of a One Hit Wonder. And my word, this is just plain awful. Amber's unnecessary key-change into her lower register is weird, and I am pretty sure that she messed up the lyrics.
R-M Standing O
K: incredible performance
N: blooming flower, called her Angie, and says that of all four girls, she would like to get to know Amber the most (Me: Does Nicki realize that the other girls can hear her?)
R: in it to win it
M: inner glow, star quality
JI: Judges missed the mark, bad song, cheesy performance

#6. Candice is in a red jacket over a white and black circuit-boardy kind of print. She's singing Emotion, which was originally done by Samantha Sang, which would be the closest to an actual one hit wonder singer in the lot tonight (though she charted with it in 13 countries) except that Candice is singing The Bee Gees version. They also wrote the damn thing. No one hit wonders here. Her performance is oh so smooth and oh so good. No Standing O's though.
N: Candice made her groove to the old song, and then segues into a rebuttal of Jimmy's comments about Amber's performance.
R: Candice is returning
M: points out that Candice has a cold
K: wonders if there are only old one hit wonders (Me: I wonder who decided what constitutes a one hit wonder. I also scream at the TV a lot).

#7. At first I think Kree is wearing a pretty little black dress, but when the camera pulls back, I see that she's actually wearing a jumpsuit. It  looks nice on her though (that's twice tonight with the jumpsuit approval- odd).  She's singing Procul Harum's (several charted songs, 11 studio albums) Whiter Shade of Pale. Well, this performance is better than her first one, but I don't think it'll be enough to keep her on the show, which makes me really sad.
R: Kree is back
M: takes 100 words to say "I have no words"
K: too middle ground
N: Kree is in danger
Kree holds it together. Barely.

#8. Angie is in a long mullet dress with a black leather bodice. She's singing Julie London's Cry Me a River. For crying out loud- Julie London recorded more than 30 studio albums over a 40 year time span, and had at least six charted singles. The song itself has been covered at least 22 times. The performance is standard Angie stuff- thin in the high register.The audience loves it.
M: Even Mariah knows that Cry Me a River isn't a one hit wonder
K: mystical celestially powerful
N: tonight was Angie's night
R: yo yo yo

I don't know whether Jimmy didn't care to critique the last two performances, or if they just ran out of time.

Round 1 Ranking:
1. Amber
2. Candice
3. Angie
4. Kree

Round 2 Ranking:
1. Candice
2-3 Tie: Kree, Angie
4. Amber

Best performance of the night: Candice and Angie's duet.

I am very afraid that Kree will go home tomorrow night. Or I would be, except that Ryan said something cryptic about a special announcement tomorrow night. Since there are three more weeks until the finale, and the show only needs two more, I wonder if no one will go home tomorrow. We'll have to wait and see.

Sneak Peek- Fantasy Fiber Arts Cruise Mystery Lace Fingerless Mitten Class

Sign up for my Mystery Lace and Bead Fingerless Mitten Class on the Fantasy Fiber Arts Knitting Cruise,and you'll get all materials (except for the needles) to knit this exclusive design. Students will have choice of yarn and bead colors.

It's hard to imagine right now (since it's snowing here), but summer is coming, sooner than you think!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Contest #3!

I'm switching up the order on the final two contests- this week the lucky winner will get signed copies of Taunton's Threads Selects Lace Socks and Colorwork Socks, both with patterns from my book The Big Book of Socks.

Same drill as before- enter by leaving a comment on this post. Be sure to put your name in the comment if you're posting anonymously! The contest is open worldwide.

The drawing will be made, and the winner announced, on Sunday!

And if you're not a sock knitter, or a knitter at all, enter anyway- use the booklets as gifts, or donate them to your local library!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Upcoming Travels and Classes

My Work Travel Season is starting earlier this year. Here's where I'll be, and what I'll be teaching, and when. Registration info, materials provided and/or needed, and material fees (if any) as well as class fees are listed on the individual sites and links.

I hope to see some of you there!

Fantasy Fiber Arts Knitting Cruise
sponsored by Friends and Fiberworks, Asheville, NC, July 26-31

Leaving from Charleston, SC on July 26, with day excursions in Nassau and Freeport, The Bahamas!
I'll be teaching:

Mystery Fair Isle Fingerless Mitten- here's a sneak peek of the pattern. Students will be given a choice of lots of yarns for their own two-color combos.

I'll also be teaching a Mystery Lace and Beaded Fingerless Mitten Class (sneak peek to be posted soon), and the EEK! A Steek! class. All materials come with the class fee except knitting needles, large-eye needle, and scissors.

Michigan Fiber Festival (MFF)- Allegan, MI
Festival August 16-18, Workshops August 14-18

Wednesday AM: Writing Patterns for Publication
Wednesday PM: Little Tips and Tricks
Thursday all day: Nordic Christmas Stocking
Friday all day: EEK! A Steek!

North Country Fiber Fair (NCFF), Watertown, SD
Sept. 20-22

Friday: 1-4 pm: Little Tips and Tricks
Sunday: Needlefelted Half-Moon Santa (all materials provided, no prior needlefelting experience needed)

Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair (SAFF), Fletcher, NC, October 25-27

Friday- all day: EEK! a Steek!
Saturday 9am-12pm: Exclusive Fair Isle Fingerless Mitten Design (yarn provided)- sneak peek to be posted soon
Saturday 1-4 pm: Little Tips and Tricks
Sunday 9 am-12 pm: Written Patterns for Publication
Sunday 1-4 pm: Design Your Own Fair Isle Fingerless Mitten

Thursday, April 18, 2013

AI Season 12- Top 5 Elimination

Before we get started I thought I'd post this, just in case you thought I was kidding about Nicki's dress last night.

Boobapalooza... amirite?

Okay, back to tonight. Once there were ten, but we eliminated five guys in a row so now we have Grrl Power. Or maybe we have blatant producer manipulation. One or the other.

Nicki is wearing a tight white tank and tight jeans, and though she didn't actually put them away, there is far less exposed boobage tonight. She also has what I think may be a Gucci belt slung over her shoulder. Mariah is in a pretty coral sleeveless dress with a scoop neck and a dropped waist and pleated skirt. She looks positively schoolgirlish. Randy is in a gray jacket with weird decorations arranged a little like an all-white match-three game.

The girls sing a Donna Summer medley, I suppose in keeping with the whole Diva theme. The harmonies sound fine, Janelle's solo not so much. For all the official, and unofficial, All-Girl Rah-Rah, the show feels the need to back up the Top 5 with an all-male dancing chorus.

They're not even pretending to do anything altruistic with the Ford Fiesta Missions any more. This time they're driving red and blue cars on a scavenger hunt. It's not exactly a competition, it's just a lame excuse to feature shots of Ford Fiestas. I never thought I'd say this, but I miss the old Fordmercials. The girls finally end up in a barbershop, sucking up to that guy from Glee.

We're going to do individual critiques before the rest of the festivities tonight.

Angie (black leather pants, black top with a long shirt tail, and silver arrowheads down the front.)
JI says that Angie is a great technician at the piano but her singing-only performances are not believable.

Candice (black pants and a loose black and silver top).
 JI says that Candice was perfect last week, and he worried about Straight Up. But the combo of Candice's two songs were very very smart, and she blew his mind. Ryan asks Randy if he got hold of Paula about Candice's performance, and while Randy says no, Paula herself sneaks out from behind the curtain. Paula's wearing a red dress designed by aliens. There is very little of her original face left, but she still maintains a Hotline to Babbletown. Mariah visits there, but it's just not the same.

Fallout Boy is in the audience. No one cares, even them.

Though I most certainly was not a Claymate, I still have a soft spot for Clay Aiken (and yes, I saw him in concert many years ago). We get a montage of his Idol Journey, and an update on his current life, which includes lots of charity work with disabled kids. Clay's face is thinner and more mature than it was, and his eyebrows are startlingly sculpted. He's back to tall, red hair. Tonight he's singing Bridge Over Troubled Water, which tells me that he's not working on anything new right now. But if he's going to recycle an old song, this is a great one, especially with the gospel choir arrangement. Clay still has the same wonderful voice, though his vibrato is a little out of control. He's still firmly in charge of the Glory Note, though. I'd go see him again in a flash.

More critiques:
Janelle (black blouson strappy top and long mullet skirt with a wide white hem, fringey booties).
JI says that Janelle was sleepy and her song choices were a strike-out. Ryan reads a weird but encouraging message to Janelle from Dolly Parton (which includes the news that Janelle is not really a blonde).

Amber (black shortie short shorts, black square-necked tank top, sparkly silver booties).
JI says that Amber is brilliant every week and yet she still ends up in the Bottom 3. He has no idea why but he thinks she took a huge risk last night and succeeded.

Kree (loose white blouse, black jeans).
JI says that Kree made the wrong song choices and did not show enough emotion while performing, but he loved Nicki and Mariah's disputes.

Next, for no reason other than it happened during Fantasia's season, we get a recap of the first Huff (when poor George Huff was forced to choose which group of three finalists he belonged with, the twist being that the former top vote-getters were all in the bottom. That was the night that Jennifer Hudson was eliminated, and we all know how much that hurt her career). We also check in with LaToya London, the third member of The Huff. LaToya lives in Oakland and has been busy in plays and is now recording again. She sounds sad yet hopeful, though maybe just a tad bitter about being lost in the shuffle. All of this is leading to a performance by Fantasia herself, the winner of Season 3.

Fantasia now has short, red hair, and is wearing a one-shouldered white toga dress which features her shoulder tattoo nicely. She has on good makeup, though her eyes are very very wide open. She's singing her new song (no reprises of old stuff for 'Tasia, nosiree) called Lose to Win. I was not a fan of Fantasia, or of anyone in her season, but her talent is undeniable. The song starts out slow and restrained, but since this is Fantasia, we know it's going to go batshit eventually. I can't understand a word of this song, but by damn, she means every single shouted syllable. The audience goes batshit as well.

So with ten minutes left, we finally get down to it. Ryan announces, in no particular order, the safe girls:
Candice (YAY!)
Angie (okay)
Amber... uh oh....

So it's  Kree and Janelle in the bottom Janelle looks like she's handling it just fine, Kree might throw up right on stage. But Janelle knows what's coming and she comforts Kree who can barely believe that she's safe. Janelle sings for the possible Judge's Save, and she sounds fine, but I really don't think they'll keep her around because doing so could endanger one of the better performers.

And nope, for the first time ever, the judges will not use their Save. And why should they? The eliminations happened in pretty much the right order. Janelle is a sweet girl with a good voice, a couple of years on her and she'll be a powerhouse. I wish her luck.

Next week, we'll be getting down to the Nitty Gritty, and any one of them could go home. It'll be interesting.

Thursday Tab- Saalfield 1943 Air, Land and Sea Paper Dolls

I'm so happy to share this gorgeous wartime paper doll set from Saalfield, 1943. Thank you Dottie!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

AI Season 12- Top 5 Performance

It's been six years since a girl won this shindig, and the show finally figured out how to make that happen again (Hint: get lots of good female singers in several styles/genres, and don't allow any of the guys to play a guitar).

Randy is wearing a starlet leather jacket with gold ornaments on the breast. Keith is in a white tee with the word Liberte on the front (very French of him). Nicki... oh Nicki... is in a tight red dress with a keyhole bosom, and by *keyhole*, I mean a large gaping hole filled with enormous cleavage that threatens to spill out entirely. I don't usually jump ahead in the recap, but I will say that I spent the entire episode mesmerized by the possibility that Nicki might fall out of her dress. Mariah, by comparison, is fairly restrained in a strapless black glittery bodice that might actually be made out of metal, over a short sleeved top made of black netting. I didn't notice what Ryan wore. It's all Nicki's Boobs' fault.

Tonight the Girls are singing Songs from the Year of Their Birth, and Songs by Their Favorite Diva. I will also say in advance that learning that the oldest of the girls was born when my oldest son was almost out of high school (and the youngest when they were both in college) is extremely sigh-inducing.

#1. Candice, 1989. Candice says she was a chubby cheeked, bossy kid, and her parents agree. She's singing Straight Up... yeah, the Paula Abdul one. I am concerned about this song choice. Candice is wearing a royal blue blouse, jeans, and straightened hair. Aaaaaand... I should have known better than to worry. This is smooth and jazzy and nothing at all like the frenetic original. Candice is getting the 360 spin-cam and she's playing to the camera and to the band and to the audience perfectly.
K: whoo,  whoo, good Lord... and then many words that boil down to how seductive Candice's voice is
N: congratulations on making it to the Top 5
R: loved the arrangement
M: genius
JI (commenting from back stage): needed a bigger song, this one was too vocally narrow for Candice's talent

#2.Janelle, 1989. Janelle was a girly girl and totally adorable. She was a performer even as a toddler, and Vince Gill's voice had the magical ability to make her stop crying. Janelle is wearing a dowdy long gray dress with wide black zig-zag stripes. She's singing some Vince Gill song that I don't know, standing still at the microphone with her huge guitar. It's old-style country, and Janelle is singing it well, but it's totally boring.
N: loves how comfortable Janelle is with the guitar, the vocal was pretty
R: in her comfort zozne
N: believed in Janelle
K: angelic voice but didn't feel the song.
M: interrupts and babbles
JI: Keith is right, the performance not strong enough

#3. Kree, 1990. Kree was a good baby, and she looks exactly like her late mother. She had red boots which she loved so dearly that she wore them to bed. Kree began performing at age 3. She's wearing a white cardi with elbow-length sleeves over a white top with silver embroidery, black pants and black patent leather knee-length stiletto boots. Her hair is nicely sideswept and she has great makeup. She's singing She Talks to Angels, by The Black Crowes, with which I am not familiar. But Kree is giving it an effortless country twist. It's lovely.
R: Kree, man, let me say this, man...
M: thinks Kree can sing anything but was maybe holding back a bit
K: agrees with Mariah
N: loves the shoes, lapses into the British Accent and says it was the best of the night so far
M: interrupts again, says nothing worth hearing
JI: not strong enough to take the lead

#4. Angie, 1994. Angie's family is fixated on the fact that Angie was born thin (their word) but became a chubby baby, therefore Angie is also fixated on that. It makes me dislike her mother (the one who called Baby Angie a *fatty* on a previous segment) intensely. And it explains why Angie is Pageant to the core. She's singing I'll Stand By You, sitting at the piano, of course. Angie is back to tons of cascading curls. Her strappy tank top is festooned with lots of chains and her jeans are holey. I don't love this song, and I don't love Angie (though after seeing her parents again, I do feel sorry for her), and I think she starts out way too high. The performance is mechanical.
The judges don't agree with me, she gets a K,R & M Standing O.
M: loves Chrissie Hynde
K: loves Angie at the piano
N: great performance
R: great song choice
JI: turned the song into a power ballad, best tonight so far

Ryan reminds us that Carly Rae Jepson (who is almost 30 but dresses 14) is going to perform on the finale. I had managed to forget that.

#5. Amber, 1994. Amber sang with her sister, and had on-air journalistic ambitions. Her expressionless father sends his love. Expressionlessly. Amber is wearing a tye-dye knit dress with cap sleeves, and electric yellow heels. Her hair is in a single braid, slung over one shoulder. She's singing Without You (the Mariah version, since the original is way before her time). Man, this is Amber's worst performance ever, parts are too low, there's too much embroidery, it's shouty, and I think she's a bit sharp throughout.
She gets a K-R-M Standing O.
K: shouts *Amber Alert*, and then retracts it as stupid
N: the low notes weren't quite right, and Mariah did it better
R: not perfect, brave to sing that in front of Mariah
M: loved some of the choices Amber made
JI: A for Bravery, but Nicki was right about the lower register.
Ryan fills in a bit with some Amber-style fast talking.

#6. Candice has chosen Mariah and Whitney Houston as her Divas. She's singing their When You Believe. She says she's nervous but that Mariah has given her courage. Candice is wearing a pretty white silky blouse and black jeans. The stage is filled with smoke, strings, and purple starscapes. Man, this is beautiful and I got GOOSIES at the key change.
4-Way Standing O
N: THAT is how you do it, the song is a perfect message for everyone
R: best vocal of the night
M: so proud
K: just ripped out all the stops and annihilated them

#7. Janelle's diva is Dolly Parton, and she's chosen Dumb Blonde, a song I've never heard. Janelle has soft curls and is wearing a floaty white layered tunic with sparkly speckles and a low slung belt, a short sparkly skirt and boots. This song is obviously an anthem for anyone who has been judged unfairly, but Janelle just doesn't have enough sass for the message. The whole performance is plodding.
R: fun song but not a great vocal
M: hears what Randy is saying and mostly repeats it, only a little less bluntly
K: wonders about that song choice from Dolly's huge songbook
N: says Janelle is in jepoardy, gives a pre-consolation pep talk

#8. Kree is going to sing Celine Dion? Oh dear. She's looking glamorous in a simple black dress with a peplum. Peplums annoy me just by existing, but Kree looks good. She's in the dark with  multiple spotlights and purple smoke. Her performance is good, really good, though maybe just a tad tentative.
4-Way Standing O
M: smart choice, showed versatility
K: Kree is back
N: epiphany: Kree is not country, Kree is worldly
R: agrees with everyone

#9. Angie's Diva is Beyonce. Of course. She's wearing a short black dress with an overdress consisting of hundreds of loopy chains. And booties. I don't like Beyonce, and I don't love Angie, and I don't love Halo, and this isn't impressing me at all. I think her voice sounds thin. Then again, Beyonce's voice sounds thin to me too, so I shouldn't be surprised.
I am surprised by the 4-Way Standing O
N: Angie is back
R: in it to win it
M: loves Angie's clarity
Evidently there wasn't enough time for Keith to add his critique.

#10. Amber's Diva is Barbra Streisand. Huh. Didn't see that one coming. She's wearing a heavily boned, white strapless top with a very deep plunge which is nevertheless, a modest deep plunge (tricky thing, that), and a long black skirt. She's singing What Are You Doing The Rest of Your Life? standing at the mike, with a grand piano and strings. I think she's just a tad behind the music, but otherwise is doing a surprisingly good job with this. Her voice has a lovely tone (which was entirely missing from her first performance) and it sounds much more mature. The whole performance might be a bit slow, but it's otherwise really nice.
N: simply perfection
R: very difficult song to sing
M: tells everyone to vote for Amber
K: elegant and regal

My Top Performances:
Candice #2
Candice #1
Kree #1
Kree #2
Amber #2

My Worst Performance:
Amber #1
Janelle #1 and #2

All five of these girls are talented, each in a different way, so truly, it could be any of them staying, and any of them going, but I really think Janelle will head home tomorrow.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Contest #2 Winner!

And the winner of Contest #2 is:   Knitnik!

e-mail ( )me with your address and how you'd like the books signed, and I should be able to get them in the mail tomorrow (along with last week's winner- we had some *interesting* weather in the last week, and spent a lot of time hunkered down).

Tomorrow: Contest #3

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Saturday Non-Sequitor

My sister Terri went on a cruise last fall. She bought tchochkes for us.  Mine was this fingernail polish.

It's made by Del Sol. And by itself, it's pretty snazzy- all silver and glittery. And it dries within five minutes, which is a major plus when it comes to me and fingernail polish. The surface is rough, not smooth like most polishes, but you can add a clear coat to the top if you like. But it gets even better.

This is what happens when you go out in the sunlight! Is that the coolest thing ever, or what?

The color doesn't change under any other lighting. Inside it's silver, outside it's this. This one is called Ruby Slipper. . There are many other shades available. Must have the blue/green.

But first, I need to practice my polish application- I can't seem to color within the lines.

P.S. Don't forget to enter the contest. The drawing is tomorrow.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

AI Season 12- Top 6 Elimination

Once again, we're opening with a recap of last night's show even though tonight's episode is only an hour long. In case you forgot, it included tears, terrible Lazaro, and amazing Candice.

Mariah is wearing another prom dress, this one bright red. The bodice is all strappy, with peekaboo obliques and boobs. Nicki is in a short, blue, tight, long sleeved dress with a ruffly bustle. She has red lips and no wig tonight. Ryan's black polka dot tie is very long, it hangs almost below the hem of his gray jacket. Randy is in a white shirt with large blue polka dots, and a cheap-looking dark blue denim blazer. I honestly didn't notice what Keith was wearing.

The Group Sing is a Bacharach medley. Janelle starts with You'll Never Get to Heaven. After a good long time, Angie continues with... well, I don't actually recognize this one. Kree sings Always Something There to Remind me. Lazaro sings This Guy's In Love. He sings it badly. Really, really badly. Candice and Amber together sing One Less Bell to Answer. Damn, Candice. Just damn. They segue into A House is Not a Home, and then everyone sings That's What Friends are For. All in all, it's a nice medley.

I think they've totally abandoned the notion that the Ford Fiesta Missions are supposed to be altruistic. Tonight the kids are divided into two teams (red and green) and they drive two Ford Fiestas (red and green) and they play soccer on a parking garage roof with a big big ball. Let me be clear about this- they're playing soccer WITH their cars. Driving the cars to bump the ball for goals. This seems like a recipe for disaster, though if one happened, it was off camera.

Jimmy Iovine Opines:
Kree: has great vocals but needs to show more personality
Angie: competent but that's not enough to win
Lazaro: boring, unskilled, and 10th out of 6 performers (Note: it's unclear whether Jimmy is making a joke, or he just can't count).

Ryan plays games with the kids, making Angie (long, black leather top, geometric black and white print mini, booties) go and stand at the far side of the stage. He has Lazaro (red shirt, patent leather vest, bow tie) stand in the middle of the stage, and Kree (great sideswept hair, black jacket over a white top) stand on the other side of the stage. But this is just a time killer because Ryan sends them back to the bleachers so he can go into the audience and talk with a grizzled Kevin Bacon.

We see clips of Scotty McCreery's audition, and other show bits. I remember that he talks out of the corner of his mouth, and that Steven Tyler made a highly inappropriate joke about him. I forgot how deep Scotty's voice is. The boy is a baritone. His new song is pretty much the same as everything else he ever sang- pleasant, and country with a crossover appeal. It goes on for a long time.

Ryan sends Janelle (cute white embroidered peasant top, jeans and boots) to stand with Angie (who has resumed the position). He sends Amber (sparkly silver jacket with black leather trim) to Lazaro in the middle, and Canddice (a denim vest that looks like it was spray-painted silver, tan jeans, black top)  to join Kree. But this arrangement means nothing, because they're sent back to the bleachers again.

More Jimmy Iovine Opinions:
Janelle: literal interpretations are not enough to win
Candice: leading everyone, with a great sense of herself and her talent
Amber: looks great, the whole package, baffled as to why she doesn't connect more with the voters. (My guess: she's a kid, pretty and a great voice, but absolutely  no life-experience. It shows.)

Next we see a very very early conversation with Kelly Clarkson, Ryan, and the unlamented Brian Dunkleman. In it, Kelly is wearing a strapless abomination consisting of two long jean legs cut open and and laced together in the front and back. Kelly proudly explains that she made it herself, which explains so much. Tonight's outfit is probably not homemade, but still... she's wearing a very oddly constructed dress with a full skirt and sleeves with transparent sections, over leggings. The dress, Kelly's earrings, and all of the band outfits, are decorated with splats and splatters of reflective paint which glows under the black lighting. Her eye makeup is disconcerting- the eyelids are painted a solid black and her upper eyelids are traced with a line of pale blue reflective coloring. When her eyes are closed, they look like open, empty eye sockets. When her eyes are open, it just looks weird. The song? It's another Kelly Clarkson Empowerment Anthem. Kelly's post-idol music has never appealed to me but I'm happy for her success. After the song, Mariah toddles up on stage (her dresses are so tight that she can only take mincing steps) and they have A Moment together.

So the kids are back on stage, in the same formation as before.  Ryan immediately tells us that Kree and Candice are The Top Vote Getters. YAY! (I guess my online votes helped... snort). Then Ryan says that Angie and Janelle are safe (I was sort of expecting them to be in the bottom, not that I'm sorry to be wrong).

That means that Lazaro and Amber (once again ) are in the bottom. I assume this means that Amber is the low singer on the totem pole because Lazaro has placed inexplicably well throughout the competition, while better singers have gone home. But nope, Lazaro is done. I say that with all confidence because there is no way in hell that the judges will use their save for him even though his final singout is better than either of last night's performances (though you should not mistake *better* for *good*).

So, it's good-bye Lazaro, finally. And congratulations Show- you wanted a female winner, and by cracky, you're going to get one.

Thursday Tab- Anna and Lina, from Barcelona

These lovely Spanish dolls may actually be 2 separate books. However they were published, they're adorable.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

AI Season 12- Top 6 performance

The show opens with a long recap of last week's episodes, which I did already, and do not feel the need to do again. Short version? Bye-bye Burnell. We do get some new clips of the kids as they rehearse their two songs for tonight, which we are going to see in their entirety very soon. We have to fill those two hours somehow.

Mariah is wearing a white knit mermaid dress and nude lipstick. Nicki is in a floor-length snakeskin. Randy is in a red zip-front blazer, and Keith is in a yellow Mustang tee. Ryan is wearing a charcoal suit with a lavender pinstripe shirt and a lavender tie with little black pin dots. His pocket square is red and white, which makes no sense to me. Anthony Hopkins is in the audience. Seriously, that Anthony Hopkins.

Tonight's themes are Songs of Bacharach and David, and Songs the Kids Wish They'd Written Themselves. This should be interesting- Burt Bacharach was the first composer whose music I could identify without a scorecard. His songs sound simple, but they're devilishly difficult to sing. I predict a couple of the kids will flounder.

Tonight's exposition involves the kids talking about themselves, as though that's any different from any other episode.

#1. Angie has smooth hair (which is a large improvement), a short rust-colored dress and booties. She's also wearing a narrow black belt which is attached to a black band looped up over her shoulder, like a single suspender. Her big secret is that she and her friend make embarrassing home videos and post them on You Tube. By embarrassing, I mean they act goofy and dance weirdly, which certainly can be embarrassing, but is also nowhere near as embarrassing as I was expecting. She's singing a subdued version of Anyone Who Has a Heart. I don't enjoy listening to Angie's voice, but this isn't terrible.
K: Angie looks great but is still not connecting to the lyrics
N: agrees with Keith
R: says that Angie looks *commercial* (read: cute and thin and long legs) but needs to find the passion
M: took awhile to get there but actually offers a constructive comment about not over-enunciating

#2. Amber... oh dear, Amber is wearing a wide-legged, denim, strapless, zip-front, jumpsuit. I'll let that sink in for a moment. Strapless. Denim. Jumpsuit. Her big secret is that she likes to eat frozen cooked shrimp right out of the bag. Shrimp-cicles as she calls them. Amber is singing Say a Little Prayer- hmmm. There are some distinctly wobbly notes and her voice sounds uncharacteristically thin.
N: What the hell just happened? (Note: that was a direct quote, but I actually think it's a compliment)
R: the competition just started tonight
M: genius, and then briefly mentions the wonky notes (Note: that's the second time tonight that Mariah actually said something pertinent).
K: don't oversing
Ryan takes time to let us know that Amber really is going out with Burnell. Ew.

#3. Lazaro is wearing a blue, green and black suit with a Kilim-like pattern. And by *suit*, I mean a blazer and pants. Matching. In a Kilim-like print. He's also sporting a really tall pompadour. Lazaro's secret is that he loves four-wheeling and hunting, and that he's a Spanish Redneck (his words, I would never say that on my own). He's singing Close to You, and... and... and... this may be the absolute worst thing I've heard so far this year. Or any year. I don't think Lazaro hit a single note within his five-note range, and I can't understand a word he's saying.
R: uh... wow... speechless (Note: Randy SAYS that he's speechless)... no no no no
M: reminds us that she has been reminded that she's supposed to judge, not just cheerlead, so it's her job to tell Lazaro that when the music makes a key change, he's supposed to do it too
K: Lazaro's fans will still love him
N: recuses herself due to time constraints (Note: Nicki rolled her eyes quite dramatically throughout Mariah's commentary)

#4. Kree is in a seafoam green shirt with ugly split sleeves, though I freely admit that I never like split sleeves. Her hair is softly curled and her makeup is stronger than usual (it looks great). Her big confession is that she sings at rodeos. She's singing What the World Needs Now (Is Love, Sweet Love). Kree starts a capella in a spotlight, a piano joins in, and finally the rest of the ocrhestra. Oh, wow, this is great! Note to Lazaro: this is how you do a key change. Kree is throwing in a country-tinge that works perfectly.
M: always amazing, babble babble babble
K: feels Kree's compassion and humanity
N: Kree is sweet and humble, and yet cocky at the same time
R: This. is. singing. that. girl. can. sing.

#5. Janelle is in all white, with a large feather yoke/necklace which covers most of her chest. She has smooth hair, and her pants are tucked into her shorter boots. Her secret is that she played a boy in a school play. She's singing I'll Never Fall in Love Again. She sounds fine, but bland, and she's substituting her own lyrics- not just individual words, but entire lines. Since I know all of these songs, the change throws me a bit.
K: sees a different side of Janelle every week
N: likes Janelle but the performance was boring
R: not Janelle's best
M: loves Janelle's effervescence
Ryan points out that Janelle is allergic to feathers, which makes me wonder why she festooned herself with them.

#6. Candice is wearing a studded white leather jacket and black on black print tight pants, which may also be leather. I think we've seen both before. Her hair and makeup both look fantastic. Her confession is that she speaks some local island dialect that no one else can understand. She's singing Don't Make Me Over, and I have one word to say about it: GOOSIES!
Keith, Nicki and Randy give Candice a Standing O and Mariah gives her a Sitting O.
N: Candice made an old tune sound like a new R&B song
R: this is what the show is about, in it to win it
M: agrees with Randy 100% (Note to Mariah: *simplistic* does not mean what you think it means)
K: beautiful, automatically in his Top 3

For their second number, the kids will sing songs they wish they had written. They each talk about why they chose that song, but each one says essentially the same thing: this song speaks to me. I don't feel like typing that six times, mentally insert that after the outfit-descriptions, wouldja?

#7. Angie, is in a black leather top with cap sleeves and lots of chains, and splotchy white pants. She's singing Love Came  Down, by Kari Jobe. She begins where the judges want her to be, at the piano. There is lots of swirling smoke, and a really annoying drum track that sounds like a very fast heartbeat. I don't know this generic song, but Angie is really pouring her heart into it, though that does not distract her from knowing exactly where the camera is at all times.
Randy and Keith give Angie a Standing O.
R: stay at the piano
M: that was organic
K: this is what Angie will do in concert
N: this is what Angie needs to do
Angie is touched and crying, and really needs to wipe her nose.

#8. Amber is wearing shortie shortie short shorts, which are full of holes and the pockets hang lower than the legs. She's also wearing a waist-length faded print jacket over a coral top, and matching coral heels. We remember how young Amber is when she says that the song she wishes she had written is by Love on Top, by Beyonce. Amber is prancing and enjoying herself enormously but her voice isn't up to the song, and the band is overpowering her entirely. It's... peppy.
M: America loves Amber, though that wasn't her greatest vocal (Note: again with actual commentary. Go, Mariah!)
K: great song choice
N: Look out Beyonce!
R: yes yes yes, in it to win it (for the second time tonight)

#9. Lazaro is in a white jacket and red pants. He's wearing a shirt that is black with little white polka dots at the top, but it mysteriously segues into a red and black print on the bottom. It's untucked, and the two sections of the shirt are so disparate that at first I think that Lazaro is wearing swim trunks over his pants. He's also wearing a gold bow tie. He's singing Robbie Williams's Angels. He appears to be hitting closer to the melody this time around, but I still can't understand anything he's saying.
K: elements of Lazaro's tone are marvelous, but the girls are plainly better
N: uh, yeah (Note: that's her entire commentary)
R: slightly better, but no, the girls are better
M: this song is better for Lazaro's range, but the girls are better

Once again, I want to point out that the reason that the girls are better this season is because the show stacked the deck with amazing girls and mediocre guys. It's not an accident. If even one guy with a guitar had made it through, we'd be seeing an entirely different ball game.

#10. Kree is wearing a really flattering black (navy?) short sheath dress. It has one keyhole shoulder, and generally I don't like keyhole anythings, but this one looks okay. It also has 3/4 sleeves. Again, her hair looks fantastic, and she has absolutely great smokey eye shadow. When Ryan announced that Kree was going to sing something by Kris Kristofferson, I was hoping for Me and Bobby McGee, but Kree says she's singing Help Me Make it Through the Night, which is almost as good. There is not much to say about this performance except that it is perfect.
N: shout out to the musicians, and Kree is very very special
R: kudos (Side Note: I keep typing: judos), Kree is a natural singer with a beautiful voice
M: this is how this song should be sung
K: it was a Buckle Polisher (Note: this appears to be high praise)

#11. Janelle is in a black sparkly top with ruffly sleeves, a short two-tier ruffled skirt made from  black tulle, and a wide rhinestone belt. Her makeup is also very good, with red lipstick that suits her skin tone very well. She's singing Garth Brooks's The Dance, first sitting down and then standing. This performance is much better than her first, more *real* and heartfelt, though that last note bobbled just a bit.
R: believed this performance
M: unfamiliar with the song, but liked it
K: reminded everyone (particularly Janelle) that Garth Brooks did not, in fact, write this song, a good thing to know on a night when the kids are supposed to be honoring songwriters, not just singers.
N: sweet, sweet song, better than the first one

#12. Candice is wearing black again. Still. Some more. I wish she'd raid Lazaro's closet. I cherished a small hope that she would sing I Can't Make You Love Me, just because I want to hear her sing it, so I'm a little disappointed that she's singing something I don't know: The Cure's Love Song.
OMG! OMG! OMG! OMG! I do not have the words to describe this performance. The audience goes crazy. She gets a 4-way Judge Standing O. Mariah not only stands, she shuffles up on stage and tosses a handful of glitter at Candice. Keith falls to his knees and bows repeatedly. And not a single one of them is over-reacting or exaggerating. That was the best performance I have ever seen on this show. Ever.
Randy speaks for all of them, repeating what I just said. And for once, Randy is right.
Candice gets another Standing O from the judges. She weeps on stage. It is absolutely amazing.

So my best of the night? Candice #2, followed very closely by Candice #1, with Kree #2 and Kree #1 behind. Kree was marvelous and her songs were fantastic, but Candice was pure genius tonight. Far ahead of everyone.

The worst, obviously, Lazaro #1, and then Lazaro #2, followed by Amber #1, and Janelle #1.

I have no confidence that Lazaro will go home tomorrow night, though it is well past time. Tonight brought the best and worst this show can manage, and I have no confidence that Candice and Kree will survive, but for the first time this year, I voted.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Monday Contest #2- Two more Taunton's Threads Selects Booklets!

Just like last week- two of Taunton's Threads Selects booklets are up for grabs.

This week's prizes are Fair Isle Flower Garden, with patterns and projects for children's wear, from Fearless Fair Isle Knitting, and Lace Socks, from The Big Book of Socks.

To enter, leave a comment (and be sure to leave your name, if you're posting anonymously) on this post. I'll draw a winner on Saturday and announce the lucky person on Monday.

I'll sign the booklets any way you like, and if you're not a knitter, they'll still make good gifts for the knitter (or the library) in your life.

Have fun!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

And the Winner of Monday Contest #1 is...

... Nancy D

Congratulations, Nancy D, you have won these two booklets:

Please e-mail me ( with your address and how you'd like the booklets signed (to you, to anyone else, just my name- whatever you'd like).

Monday Contest #2 opens tomorrow, with two more Threads Selects titles.

Thank you everyone for entering- check back tomorrow and enter again!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

AI Season 12- Top 7 Elimination

We open with clips from last night, recaps from last night, more clips from last night, and *in it to win it* from last night (or, you know, from any episode in the history of the show).

Mariah is wearing a black dress with a bustier-construction bodice and a black plastic corset cage on the outside of the dress. Nicki is in a red and blue tight knit dress. Both sets of bazooms are front and center. Nicki has straight-cut blonde bangs.

The Group Sing is Queen's Somebody to Love. They begin with the kids arranged for Bohemian Rhapsody, under a blue light. Their harmonies sound fine, though Amber is a bit flat. I'll describe the outfits later but let me say right now that there are some bad, bad trousers on stage tonight. Candice hits the final big notes and if JLo was here, she'd be shouting GOOSIES!

The Ford Fiesta Mission (this year's substitute for the cheesy commercials) is Who is Your Idol? Candice and Amber explain the premise, which is that the kids all are having a photo shoot dressed as their own personal idols (by which, I think they mean singing idols, not Baal, or a Golden Calf). The resemblance to anyone else is slight, at best, so I'll let you guess which who chose which one from Patsy Cline, Jessie J, Josh Groban, Dolly Parton, and Whitney Houston. I didn't catch who Burnell's idol was, but evidently he dresses a lot like Burnell.

Jimmy Iovine Opines on last night's performances:
Burnell: got it all wrong, was way behind the beat, and will be in the Bottom 2
Lazaro/Angie: not even good wedding singers
Kree: picked right song, sang with poise and dignity
Janelle: competent but not a great song
Lazaro: a reasonable job for Lazaro
Amber/Janelle/Kree: like a Grease outtake
Candice: not the right song
Amber: improving every week, legs longer every week (Me: dammit, she's 17, shut up with leg comments, you grown men)
Angie: confident, beautiful, tornado wind machine
Final comments: Lazaro needs to go.

It had to have been very hard for the kids to sit on stage and listen to that critique. Candice's face has shut down completely, and Burnell is visibly peeved.

Casey James, from Season 9, is back tonight. We're treated to his shirtless audition. His debut album went all the way to #2 on the Billboard Country Chart, which is pretty darn good. His tousled blonde curls still need a shampoo, and he's wearing a tee with a saggy neckline which looks cheap but probably cost $300. His song is perfectly competent, and if I was at a bar, drinking a beer, I'd tap my foot. Afterwards, Ryan clarifies that Casey had to go to the mall and buy a new shirt, so maybe it really is as cheap as it looks. But he's a nice guy- he brought gifts for all of the kids, which he distributes during the commercial, so we never see what they are.

Nigel Lythgoe tricked the judges into predicting their Top 3 contestants, not telling them that the picks would be made public. Much chagrin follows.
K: Kree, Angie, Amber
N: Angie, Amber, Kree
R: Amber, Kree, Angie
M: Kree, Amber, Candice

I am relieved that there will be no Huff tonight (named after hapless George Huff, who was forced in Season 3 to decide which group of 3 he belonged with top or bottom. He chose wrongly). The Huff is a no-win situation, uncomfortable for the audience and actively cruel to the kids. I won't miss it. Ryan names the Top 3, in no particular order: Kree (black short sleeved top, with one transparent sleeve, tucked in to black pants, very tall heels), Angie (grey tank, black and white splotchy jeans where the splotches sort of look like she has a stained crotch), and.... wait for it... Lazaro... sigh.

BTW, Lazaro is wearing a black leather jacket over a red tee, and maybe the ugliest pants I've ever seen. They're white, printed with a chainlink fence motif. Seriously.

Idol Darling Carrie Underwood is also appearing tonight. We see her original audition too (The Hub liked her from her first appearance even though he's not a country music fan). She's wearing a one-shouldered, coral floaty prom dress with a very long leg-slit. Her waist seems to be encased in a shiny metal ring. Her hair is short and jumbled on the front and sides, but it may be long and pinned up in back, I can't tell. She's still gorgeous. The song? It's fine. Nothing I'll buy, or listen to voluntarily again, but it's exactly of a piece with everything else she records, which means it'll sell gazillions and win Grammys. She does this thing where she drops the hand holding the microphone every line or so, and I finally figure out that she's doing it every time she inhales. It's odd.

Ryan draws it out a bit, but he finally announces that Candice (white jacket, black leather  pants, and a limp) is safe. Candice looks like she's about to throw up.
Also safe: Amber (sleeveless red and white tank, weird black and white print pants).

So Burnell (quilted white leather jacket over a black leather shirt) and Janelle (white sleeveless shirt, black embroidered vest, black and gray stretch pants, boots) are the Bottom 2.

Nicki thinks Burnell is going home, but she hastens to assure him that it's not a failure.

And after 25 million votes, to no one's surprise, Burnell is going home.

Burnell sings his final song, badly. Candice is crying (so much for wanting to punch Burnell last night).Angie is crying. Amber is crying. Janelle is crying. Mariah is crying. Burnell goes over to the girls and gives Amber a kiss and then resumes the position.

The judges give him a 4-way Standing O, but since Nicki is crying too, we know there is no save. Burnell is going home. His early clips show that he really did look much better (and far more like an adult) before he lost weight.

In case you wondered- I am not crying. I won't cry until Lazaro wins this whole thing.

Thursday Tab- Stephens Little Sweethearts

And they certainly are little sweethearts.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

AI Season 12- Top 7 Performance

We open with amps being plugged in, and knobs being cranked up to 11. It's Rock 'n Roll night. It's raucous. It's raw. It's powerful. Sure show, you just keep telling yourself that.

Mariah and Nicki are color twinsies again, this time in teal. Mariah is in a sheath with toga-closures at the shoulders. Her hair looks kind of unkempt and her makeup is nearly invisible. It's not a good look for her. Nicki's dress looks like a 50's pinafore over a transparent shirt. Keith is in a blazer over a print tee (there's a face on the tee but I don't recognize it) and Randy is in all black except for a gold chain something on the breast pocket, and a very wide-banded red watch.

Ryan promises that tonight will feature no ballads and no slow songs. This does not bode well since all of these kids are slow-song balladeers. And tonight's the night when the kids all make fun of each other. This oughta be interesting.

#1. Burnell- the general assessment is that Burnell has a strong accent, that he mumbles a lot, that he flings his hands around while he sings (Me: no kidding), and that his laugh is distinctively loud.

He's wearing  a black studded leather biker jacket over a red plaid shirt. He's singing Bon Jovi's You Give Love a Bad Name. And whaddya know? He's actually  moving around the stage. The kids' ribbing has made him self-conscious because he keeps both hands down throughout the performance. The singing? It's okay at best, but the band and backup singers are doing all of the heavy lifting.
K: says Burnell was uncomfortable, not a rock 'n roll singer
N: Burnell needs hugs
R: Was behind the beat throughout
M: babble

Once again, we're killing an entire two hours, so we need filler. Lots and lots of filler, in the form of duets and trios. First duet is Angie and Lazaro. Together. They're singing Queen. Seriously? Lazaro is in a black leather jacket and tight red pants with embroidery down the leg seams. We need to talk about Lazaro's pants- there is no way that every single pair accidentally accents (enhances? emphasizes?) his manly parts. Obviously (and I do mean obviously), he's doing it on purpose, and it's very hard to ignore (trust me on this- I am an old lady. If I notice, it's noticeable). Angie is in a black leather mini skirt and a black top. They're singing Crazy Little Thing Called Love, and nothing- absolutely nothing- about this is good. Lazaro is hesitant and sometimes inaudible, Angie is screechy and smiles constantly.
N: exact quote: Hi Ken and Barbie...that nice
R: uh... Angie was good, Lazaro got better later in the song
M: that wasn't a good song for a duet
K: not great, variety show quality

#2 Kree- the general assessment is that Kree is the Mom of the group, she irons everyone's shirts, she's the Guardian Angel, she knows everyone, and is very huggy.

She's wearing a pretty white shirt with black shoulders, black pants, and stiletto knee-boots. She's singing Janis Joplin's Piece of My Heart. She's hitting the notes with the right grit, but she's over-enunciating. It's good, but not as good as it could (or should) have been.
R: show finally started, in it to win it
M: excellent song choice
K: wondered if the boots constricted Kree's performance (Kree's answer: she has a pinched nerve and cannot move her arm well)
N: mag-nif-icent

Kree says that her grandma went to school with Janis Joplin. And now, I am really and truly and officially old.

Next duet: Candice (Chanel-ish black and white tweedy jacket over black pants with an electric yellow necklace) and Burnell (electric yellow shirt, black leather jacket- not the same one he wore earlier). They're singing The Letter, and it's really good. Candice is on fire, and Burnell is so very much better than he was on his solo song.
M: complains about the song choice, forgetting that the kids aren't allowed to sing ballads tonight
K: loved it and Candice was amazing
N: Candice is clearly superior
R: Burnell much improved and Candice: OMG

#3. Janelle- the general assessment is that she's a country farm girl who is into soap-opera style drama at all times. The show makes an genuinely funny joke about Janelle and the Restless. Way to go, Show!

She has soft curls with coppery highlights, a short shiny copper bolero/vest which has 3' fringes, over all black, except for the cowboy boots, which are rhinestone and jewel encrusted. She starts on the steps with Billy Joel's You May Be Right. Hmmm- something is off about this, but I don't know what. It could be in the wrong key for her, and she seems like she's behind the beat throughout.
K: loves the boots and how Janelle worked the stage, but it was not the best song for her
N: wants to borrow the boots, thinks Janelle is relatable and Middle America will vote for her
R: loves the fringey vest
M: babblebabblebabble
(Me: note how no one actually talked about the singing, which wasn't very good)

When we come back from the commercial, Nicki is wearing the boots and Randy has the vest fringes draped over his shoulders and Janelle is in her stocking feet (boring black socks, btw).

#4. Lazaro- the general assessment is that none of them have ever met a guy who was so in love with bright colors, and they all do a very good imitation of Lazaro's dramatic closing moves

For all the talk of loving bright colors, he's wearing a burgundy shirt with sparkly black stripes under a plain black leather jacket, and jeans that do what his jeans usually do. He's singing We Are the Champions (which Lazaro prounces: Sham-pee-owns). This is better than last week's performance. If we were only grading on the Lazaro Curve, it would rank pretty high. But on the Actual Singing Curve, Lazaro is a cute guy who is trying really  hard.
N: lovin' it, did it justice
R: concerned about song choice but did okay
M: echoed Randy
K: good song choice for his style

The trio tonight is Amber (very spiky red sleeveless leather vest, with a plaid flannel shirt tied around her waist, jeans consisting of more hole than fabric, and stiletto platform booties), Janelle (black sleeveless vest and red jeans), and Kree (black top with copper collar and black pants). They're sing Still Rock 'n Roll to Me, and man... it's ordinary. Not quite Karaoke but not quite Not Karaoke. Of the three, Janelle seemed most out of her element, but maybe that's because she's so much shorter than the others.
R: unbelievable, so good
M: likes Billy Joel and talks about that a lot
K: they sound great together
N: Jem and the Holograms. Says that Amber was mesmerizing but that the song was cheesy
(Me: Yay Nicki!)

#5. Candice- the general assessment is that everyone resents that Candice gets her own room. Burnell cruelly says it's because she's going home this week and the show feels sorry for her. The others mention that Candice and Burnell have a love/hate brother/sister relationship, and Candice says she'd like to punch him. I think she means it.

In a pre-song interview, Ryan establishes that Candice broke her toe during an ill advised prank she and Burnell were playing on Lazaro which backfired (something about telling him that the house was on fire). She's wearing a black blazer with silver piping, a heavy gold necklace and black pants with red and gold sparkly embroidery down the seams. She's singing Satisfaction, mostly stomping one foot (presumably the one without the broken toe). Boy, I am not loving this. I mean, it's well done, and Candice can sing the phone book and her showmanship always on point. But I'm just not feeling it. At all.
M: Bravissimo
K: voice so freaking good, effortless power
N: Booed herself first and then says that the song was boring though she loves Candice personally
R: brought the Tina Turner grit

Ryan mini-interviews Orianthe, who is famous I guess, and who plays the guitar, and who is accompanying every song tonight. She says she had to learn ten songs in a single week, which is what the house band does every week on this show.

#6. Amber- the general assessment is that Amber talks to herself a lot, and takes many many posed self-portraits with her phone. Burnell is totally creepy about Amber, who is, gorgeous, but she's also 17 years old. Creepy- really really creepy.

She's wearing a black zipper jacket with narrow sparkly gold diagonal stripes, leather shorts, black hose, and possibly the same platform bootie stilettos as before. She's singing What About Love, and like many of the younger kids on this show, she confuses stomping across the stage with attitude. That said, she's connecting with this song better than she usually does, and she sounds great until a totally unnecessary key change moves into her upper register, where she sounds thin and sort of screechy. Even so, this is her best performance to date, and the best of the night so far. Keith, Nicki, and Randy agree with a Standing O.
K: great song choice
N: pulled everyone in emotionally
R: look and sound amazing, makes a special point to mention the long legs (Note: if it's creepy for Burnell, who is in his 20's to be leering at Amber, it's creepier still for Randy to do it. Ick).
M: great job with the rock element

Ryan talks to Joshua Ledet (last year's Curtis Finch, in a red and blue gingham shirt and flowered bow tie) and Hollie Cavanaugh (white shirt, gold vest, tall brown boots). Both are working in the studio (though neither says which one) and Hollie just moved to LA. She gets to meet Mariah.

#7. Angie- the general assessment is that Angie is very very excited about everything, that she has a signature squeal and claps frequently and rapidly (which is proven by a montage of her doing just that), and that she uses her eyes to seduce the camera (there is a very specific term for that which I will not repeat here).

She's wearing all black- a loose-ish top with shirt-tails and drapey chains across the bosom, and low slung jeans. Her hair is big, as always. She's singing an Evanescence song with which I am not familiar (like I am familiar with any Evanescence song). She begins slowly at the piano but shortly moves to a dais where smoke swirls around her feet. The wind machine is cranked up maybe a tad too strongly because Angie has to hold her shirt down for the rest of the song. But her hair blows around prettily. This is her best performance since she sang her original song back in Hollywood (or was it Las Vegas?).
N: loves the all-black look and the long pants
R: loves the theatrical edge
M: babblebabble
K: loves her voice but Angie needs to connect more

Tonight was a very mixed bag- the only performance that I actually enjoyed was the Candice/Burnell duet. My rankings are Amber/Angie (equally the best), Kree/Candice (close behind), and then Lazaro/Janelle/Burnell in that order but not by much. But I don't think any of them are safe- tomorrow night will be interesting.

Spring, is that you?

The snow is melting.

Mother nature sculpts whimsically.

Anticipation has begun.

A friend has cotton seeds sprouting on a windowsill.

I've tried for years to get them established up against the south side of our house, but I think this time, finally, the Hollyhocks took!
 Yay Spring!

P.S. Don't forget to enter the contest!