Wednesday, April 30, 2014

AI Season 13- Top 5 Performance, 04-30-14

Are we ready to blog? You damn betcha!

America picked the songs? Not me. Ah, You Tube and/or Twitter. Given the things America embraces, I suspect this will be terrible.

Ryan in a blue wool suit and a blue and white striped tie, asks the kids for their Celebrity Crushes... I missed most of them except for Alex, who shares The Hub's preference for Zooey Deschanel. Can't say I blame either one, she is pretty adorable.

And it's the Top 5, not the Top 6- that's what happens when I go away. I forget what week it is.

JLo is wearing a short silver and blue sparkly night shirt. It's baggy. And sparkly. And it has 3/4 sleeves. Her hair is artfully  messy, center parted and tousled. HCJ is wearing a white button down shirt- a first I believe.

The kids are singing two songs apiece. Jazon Mraz, who used to dis Idol, is the guest mentor tonight. How things change.

Alex is singing Sweater Weather. Alex says he's not going to change things too much, but JMraz thinks Alex should follow his muse. He also suggests that Alex raise the mike a bit. Alex is wearing a red blazer with the sleeves pushed up and shirt cuffs rolled. He has no socks, as usual. Alex looks more comfortable than usual, and the pee dance has been toned down. I like pretty much everything he does, and this is no exception.

Keith encourages the crowd, and wouldn't mind hearing a bit more vocal soaring. JLo enjoyed the Alex/Mraz collaboration. HCJ reminds JLo that Alex is a front runner. He commends Alex on memorizing the many many words.

Austin Malone? Contrived selfies? Don't care.

Caleb, in a gray Civil War-ish, jacket, will sing Don't Wanna Miss a Thing. Okay America. I have no quibble with that. JMraz suggests learning the song before performing it. I just realized that Mraz reminds me of Captain Elliott on Deadliest Catch. This is not a good thing. Anyway, Caleb is starting out really slow and raspy, which is not the best showcase for his powerhouse vocals. He's building into it, and wailing a few notes in the right places. The ending is better than the beginning.

JLo felt it was a challenge for Caleb but that it was good. Lower case goosies. HCJ recommends singing to the audience rather than the camera. Keith begins with the good stuff and then recommends letting the feelings take over.

Jena, Alex and Sam are singing Best Day of My Life. Jena is wearing a white sleeveless tee and frayed jeans, with a red flannel shirt tied around her waist, Alex is in a short red denim jacket. Sam is wearing a black jacket over a white tee. Man, this is a stupid song... ah ah ah ah ah ah

Keith gave them a standing O, but otherwise there was no judge commentary.

Commercial Note: Legends of Oz looks terrible. Really really terrible.

Jessica is going to sing a Christina Perri song. At least it's not Jar of Hearts. Mraz is giving her lots of very good advice, most of which Jessica had never considered before despite being told pretty much the same thing every single week. She's wearing a floaty coat made of linen napkins over a short black and white dress. I think some of the advice is finally sinking in- there is a lot more life and inflection in her voice than usual. And her eyes aren't quite as dead. I think she did a pretty good job. Oh, her hair isn't quite as pink as usual. It's more coral. It's a very pretty shade.

HCJ commends Jessica on a good performance. Keith liked the voice break. JLo talks about the magic of tapping into the emotion of the song.

Sam will sing Ed Sheeran's Sink in tie-dye scrubs and a fedora. Ah, Sam has a crush on Ariana Grande, and who should show up and make Sam blush? He may be blushing because she seems to be wearing her dad's sweater and white go-go boots and nothing else. This is an upbeat little song, and Sam appears to be doing okay with it. He's just such a kid, and I don't think there's any cure for that but time. I mean, he giggles when he says the word *funky*.

Keith enjoyed Sam's blush and commented on how tough the song was without talking much about Sam's performance. JLo thought Sam funkified it up a little bit anyway. HCJ talks about not keeping up with the rhythm, but admired that Sam stepped out of his usual groove. Frankly, America let Sam down on song choice.

Jena will sing My Body by someone or other. She's wearing a really cute red and white striped top, lots of bracelets and a pair of bracelet-sized earrings, and black leather jeans. She's working the crowd pretty well, but Jena is always comfortable on stage. I like her bangs. I think she did fine and enjoyed herself greatly.

JLo loves Jena's signature moves. HCJ likes how Jena uses the stage. Keith gave her a Standing O, and loves all of Jena's artistry.

Caleb and Jessica are singing Beast of Burden. Caleb is wearing a black western shirt with gold embroidery on the yoke. Jessica's dress is also black with sparkly embroidery. They're doing very well with this song. The beading on the back of Jessica's dress sticks out about an inch, as though the  beads are stacked on end. I wish they'd do a close-up on the beadwork  I care more about the clothes than the music. Duh..

Alex will sing Say Something by Great Big World. He's wearing a white shirt with an iron-on rose on the pocket, and severely moussed hair. He's sitting in a chair and strumming his guitar. This quiet and plaintive song is smack dab in his wheelhouse. It's lovely. When Alex stands up, we can see that his pants legs hit easily 8" above his sockless shoes.

Keith is standing more than he's sitting tonight, but in this case, I agree with him. HCJ loved how Alex managed the emotion of the song. Keith loved the song choice. JLo loved the vocals and the staging.

Jena is wearing a black and white wrap dress this time- and by black and white, I mean half black and half white. And she's going to sing Valerie, by Amy Winehouse. This song is very smooth, and Jena is doing very very well- acing the vocals and owning the stage. Keith and Jlo are chair dancing and HCJ is smiling, which is the equivalent of cheering wildly. As much as I just enjoyed Alex's quiet solo, this is the performance of the night.

Keith loved this version and Jena's vocals. JLo didn't love it, thought the performance skewed old (which is probably why I liked it). HCJ concentrates on what stage name Jena will eventually use.

Sam will sing How To Save a Life, which I actually know. He's all in browns and tans, vest, tee, and hat. Sam is usually spot on, pitchwise, but this sounds off to me. Both of his solos have been weak tonight.

JLo mentioned the shakiness but thought he recovered. HCJ mentions pitch issues and lack of dynamics. Keith agrees with both of them.

I think Jessica Rabbit is up there, in a red dress with a dramatic slit (and a thigh tattoo), draped all diva-style on a low platform. The girl who recommended this song spoke so fast that I didn't catch the title, but it has something to do with summertime and sadness. Jessica is emoting the hell out of this

HCJ compliments America for choosing that song for Jessica. Keith compares the song to David Lynch, and means it as a compliment. JLo didn't think the total was quite the sum of the parts.

Caleb will sing Whitesnake's Still of the Night, which I'll bet isn't the song I think it is. And I'm right- it's not. He's wearing a distressed brown leather jacket, and he's flinging his mike stand and shouting and doing what he usually does as well as he usually does it, which is pretty well. This is what Caleb was meant to sing. It's not what I particularly want to listen to, but damn, he does it. JLo and Keith are both on their feet and dancing (it's rather sweet what a dorky dancer Keith is).

Keith is carried away completely. JLo is incoherent. HCJ mentions Cole Porter... heee.... and that Caleb could not have done any better.

So, there were no terrible performances tonight, but my pick for strongest, in performance order:
Alex #2
Jena #2
Caleb #2

Weakest, worst first:
Sam #1, #2
Caleb #1

I assume Sam will be in trouble tomorrow, but my predictions aren't always right. So we'll see.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Wordless Badlands, because Earth words are inadequate

Never mind- I can't post pics from my phone and the ratxafratzan wifi here keeps cutting out. I'll try later


Thursday, April 24, 2014

No live blog tonight

We're here in Rapid City after a great travel day, but the motel wifi is spotty so I'm not going to try live blogging American Idol. I probably won't be able to blog at all until I get home again. Wait until you see the Badlands pics!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

AI Season 13 Top 6 Performance 04-23-14

Alrighty now- ready to live blog!

Alex the troubadour. Jena the wild card. Hmmm. I must have missed the other four because Ryan in pewter starts the show.

Someone in the audience I should recognize, but I don't. A bunch of doofii in hipster scarves. The usual bunch. It's Country and Rock night. I think the kids will sing two songs apiece.

They all come out, mostly dressed badly, as usual. JLo is wearing a short, shiny, purple weather balloon, with a shiny copper top. Her hair is swept up and off her forehead. Keith is his usual tee, and Harry is wearing a blue Henley.

Jena (Irene), The Wildcard: old clips of her singing and of the critiques. The judges seem to have liked her throughout. She's singing Barracuda, in black and white hounds tooth skinny pants and a sparkly gold loose top, and straight hair with bangs. Well, the kid is up to the song, and that's no small compliment.

Keith enthuses loudly. JLo asks questions with no real answer, and recommends pushing herself. HCJ says the song was a perfect match for her skills.

Ryan is surrounded by a boy band in dire need of shampoo.

Sam Woolf gets no signifying nickname? He's singing It's Time, by Imagine Dragons. I can't tell if this is the rock or the country song. Sam is loosening up on stage, which is good. I still can't tell if this is supposed to be rock or country. Oh, Sam is wearing a blazer with rucked up sleeves over a tee shirt and jeans.

JLo got GOOSIES. HCJ thinks Sam is sweet, humble, and kind, and blossoming. Keith liked the whole performance, and especially liked two of the notes.

And Sam has passed his 18th birthday- so he's legal now...

CJ is from Jasper, AL. So only Alex and Jena get nicknames? So weird. In the clips of old critiques, there were none from HCJ continually reminding him to sing in tune. CJ is singing American Woman in a shiny silver jacket and patched jeans and a shirt with a cowl collar. Man, he's way off tonight- I'm not sure a single note is in tune. I don't love the arrangement, which is percussion heavy. Wow, that was bad.

HCJ asks CJ how he feels about the performance, which is not usually a good thing. HCJ liked the energy but thinks CJ might sorta wanna try to sing on key sometime. Keith wants CJ to learn to fake the emotion if he can't feel it himself. JLo loves how he looks, and thought it was shaky at first.

Alex, the Troubadour, is wearing white pants, a shirt with possibly an asymmetric zipper, and a jacket that looks like it's made from a garbage bag. Alex likes Jeff Buckley and Jason Mraz. He's singing Animal by Neon Trees. I'm pretty sure this is not a country song. I do like Alex's voice. He's doing more stomping tonight, so it looks less like he has to go to the bathroom. Oh, he's playing a red guitar. I think I'm hearing a wonky note here and there, which is a first for Alex. But overall, he's doing fine with this upbeat song.

Keith sang backup throughout, and would like Alex to release a bit more. JLo wanted a bit more from Alex. HCJ says Alex is very consistent and good and probably gets a pass for the minor quibbles.

Caleb is The Resident Rocker, though he didn't get that title in Caps. I'm bestowing it on him. He's singing Sting Me by someone.(Added after checking: The Black Crows). This is a Caleb Song sung calebly- proficient and exactly like every other performance he's given. Eventually he's going to get dinged for doing the same thing every single week.

But not this week, since JLo just gave him a Standing O. HCJ thinks it was a perfect song choice and an incredible performance. They're all mentioning a glitch that I somehow missed- Caleb slipping and sliding and yet performing perfectly as well. They loved it.

Jessica will either be a successful musician, or a broke one, which is too many words for a title. She's singing Somebody to Love, and Jessica is Grace Slicking it up all over the place. She's wearing a black leather jacket and matching skirt. This may be her best performance yet.

HCJ thinks Jessica did exactly what she needed to do. Keith agrees with HCJ. He also says his favorite word again (release). JLo tries to explain what Keith means but isn't entirely successful.

Oh, all six of these songs were rock. Now they'll all do something country. That's going to be easier for some than others.

Dammit, we're back to showing results mid-show. I hate this.

Sam is up first, in a blue jacket over a red shirt, tan pants, and a knit cap. He's singing You're Still the One, which is not the song by Orleans that I was expecting. This is the Shania Twain song. Sam is just singing and not playing this time, so we can really hear his voice, which is strong on this one. He could use a bit more control over the vibrato, but otherwise, this is pretty darn good.

Keith loves this song, and thinks Sam should relax a bit more. JLo loves how cute Sam is, and Sam is too young and inexperienced to understand that baby ducks are cute, but not men. HCJ thinks Sam needs to work on dynamics a bit.

Aaawwwww- Grumpy Cat.

Caleb is wearing a ruffled shirt, or perhaps a shirt that just looks like it's ruffled, and a black vest. He's singing Undo It, by Carrie Underwood. Oh, the shirt has a ribcage, not ruffles.... Well, he's rocking up a country song, which may or may not be cheating. On the other hand, Carrie herself does a bit of shouting on her songs too, so it's probably okay.

Caleb is 23 today- he only looks 38 or so. JLo didn't think this one was magic. HCJ expounded on the nature of magic moments too. Keith can't wait to hear Caleb's country song (I believe that was Aussie Sarcasm).

Alex is singing Willie's Always on My Mind. He's wearing a tan tux jacket. He's playing beautifully and I love his voice on this. There was one small riff that felt out of place, but this is quiet and lovely, and I might just buy it from iTunes.

HCJ feels lucky to have heard that performance. Keith recognizes Alex's signature bits, and would have liked a bit more of the original song in the performance. JLo thinks it was the perfect balance of Alex and the song.

Jena is wearing white and spangles this time around. Jena is also singing Carrie Underwood (So Small). Many have tackled La Underwood and many have fallen, but not Jena. She's killing it, to the tune of JLo checking out her GOOSIES. This girl could win it all.

Keith says Jena is such a good singer, getting better and better and better. JLo got lost in the vocal. HCJ didn't love it as much, saying it was mostly an imitation of Carrie.

CJ in an exuberantly paisley orange blazer, is singing something from the Zac Brown band. This is much more in CJ's wheelhouse, but still, he's off. This was better than his first performance, but it wasn't good.

JLo liked it better than the first song, but expected more. HCJ says it wasn't his best performance, and CJ needs to choose his songs better. That is, if he doesn't go home this week. Keith says the same thing.

Jessica is wearing a black tunic top under a black jacket with elbow-length sleeves. And high heel boots. She's singing Jolene, a song I do not particularly admire. Jessica has a great voice but she can't emote. At all. This is a song about some sad-sack woman begging another woman not to seduce her husband (instead of giving the man an ultimatum- or the boot), and Jessica's face is acres of blank. If I was just listening, it would be fine, but I'm also watching.

HCJ- thought it was good. Keith hated the arrangement. JLo thought the vocal was strong while Keith and HCJ jokingly argue over her.

Not reporting instant vote totals. Nope, they can't make me.

My top rankings tonight: Jena #2, Jessica #1, Alex #2

My bottom ranking: CJ #1, CJ #2

But I'm worried about Alex and Jessica. CJ seems to be bullet proof.

Heading out again

We leave tomorrow for the Black Hills Fiber Arts Fair, a new festival being held in Rapid City, SD. I'm excited to be teaching four classes- two apiece on Friday and Saturday. This isn't exactly a local fair, but still, I'll be seeing plenty of familiar faces, and I'll be meeting new folks. All good.

There is still room in some of my classes (Little Tips and Knitting Tricks, Writing Patterns for Publication, Fair Isle Nordic Christmas Stocking, Fair Isle Toddler Hat), and signups are allowed on-site. There are lots of other classes as well, and vendors. Stop out and see us!

Tomorrow is a travel day. I imagine we'll stop at Wall Drug, as usual. The Hub is driving, and he'll be on his own (with a list of errands from his friends) while I teach. We likely won't go to Mt. Rushmore or Crazy Horse- both are further from Rapid than most folks imagine (at least an hour drive), or Deadwood (at least an hour the other way). But I think we'll drive through The Badlands on our way home Sunday. It has been many years since we took that route, and I'm looking forward to it.

I will have my travel computer with me, and internet access throughout, so I will probably do a blog post or two from the road (though not on Friday- I teach from 10am-8pm, and I'm apt to collapse by the time I get done).

As for the American Idol elimination episode tomorrow night- it depends. If we're in our motel room in time enough to see it, I'll live-blog. If not, I won't. It all depends.

So, now off to pack...

Saturday, April 19, 2014

What's that thing you do with two sticks and a string?

Knitting... that's right... I used to do a lot of it... and I'm getting back into the habit...

I finished my daughter in law's sister's Birthday Socks (easier just to say Chessa's Socks). She got to choose the yarn from my unending stash.

Just for the fun of it, I made a contrast facing with a picot edge. Easy Peasy: CO an even number of sts- whatever your pattern calls for- in the contrast, K 12 rnds. Next Rnd: *YO, K 2 tog*, rep around, Next Rnd: K. Change colors and knit sock as per usual. Tack the facing down and in loosely (so it stretches).

I bought this yarn at the '09 Sock Summit. I love how the socks came out.

And I finished the Caribbean Bobble hat that I started on the cruise. It's knit from one skein of Malabrigo Rios, on size 8 needles. I'll post the pattern whenever I get around to writing it up.

It fits! (not always a sure thing when I wing it)

I do love the colors. This colorway is called Aguas, chosen for the obvious reason.

And, for some reason, I was moved to cast on a worsted weight sock, using leftover yarns.

I had the ribbing done the evening before, but I finished the rest of the first sock last night. One of the wonderful things about worsted weight socks is that they knit up very quickly.

I divided out all of the yarns evenly, so I should be able to knit a matching mate. Specs: Size 5 needles, 48 sts, 15 rnds ribbing, 6" cuff (total), short row heel on 24 sts, 6" foot (for size 8 1/2), Star Toe (starting with *K6, K 2 tog* rep, and decreasing the number of sts between decreases by one every other row until 12 remain).

I'm remembering how much I love knitting!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Malabrigo Cruise- Last Ft. Lauderdale day, and then home

After we left the beach and the beautiful Atlantic, my classmate Colleen (DeeAnn was a grade younger, so she and Colleen didn't meet until this trip) asked if we'd ever seen The Everglades. As a matter of fact, we  hadn't. So Colleen drove us an hour over to Sawgrass Recreation Park.

We were greeted by this fine fellow. I'm pretty sure that peacocks aren't what most folks think of when they think of The Everglades, but I bought a fridge magnet featuring him in the gift shop anyway.

Back when we were planning the cruise, DeeAnn and I contemplated an air boat ride, but we realized that the trip to the park would be far more expensive than the boat trip. We never expected to make it to the park, but once we got there (courtesy of Colleen), we kinda decided we were too tired, and maybe too chicken to do it anyway. But the boats were cool.

 Sawgrass Recreation Park isn't in the jungle part of The Everglades. The land is flat and the horizon is endless (sort of like Eastern South Dakota). Except that what looks like land is actually swamp. And what looks like prairie is actually home to alligators and all manner of bitey snakes.

But should you ever get to this place, the air boat rides are really quite reasonable.

A hug-discouraging tree...

DeeAnn and I both squealed when we spotted the Spanish Moss hanging from this tree. I'd never seen it in person, and though Dee lives in North Carolina, she'd never seen it on a tree either.

I'm pretty sure Colleen had second thoughts about being seen with us after all that moss excitement. Dee took a handful home in her suitcase.

The power lines are shaped differently in Florida.

Colleen did not encourage us to get out of the car and wander around, looking for photo ops, given that this stretch of highway is called Alligator Alley.

It was such fun to see Colleen, and it was so kind of her to shepherd us around her world for an afternoon. We said good-bye reluctantly and then just settled in for an early night. My flight was early, and it was recommended that I get to the airport at least 90 minutes before flight time, which meant I was up and ready to go at 3:00am.

The less said about the fact that the airline folks didn't open the lines until 4:30am, or that a wonky scale prompted the agent to make me unzip my suitcase and redistribute dirty clothes into a duffle bag (in front of a line of other impatient folks) when I was absolutely certain that my case wasn't overweight (and surely enough, it wasn't- the pair of bags only weighed 45lbs, under the weight allowed for a single suitcase...), the better. By the time I got through security, even with precheck status, my flight was nearly ready to board. And by the time I got to Atlanta, I had just enough time to get to my gate and board a flight so bumpy that no beverage service was offered. So by the time I got to Minneapolis, I'd been up for 10 hours already, with no food. But, the less said...

I had enough time in Minneapolis for a leisurely lunch and a beer (at 10am, with no guilt whatsoever). I spent the rest of my airport time reading The Martian, a book I recommend highly.

The flight from Minneapolis to Aberdeen was smooth and short (it's usually around 42 minutes).

And the land at home, while still brown, was at least not white.

And when I got home, after a very long day, I found that The Hub had surprised me. It'll be at least a month before we can swim, but a girl can dream.

So, wonderful trip, wonderful homecoming. Next weekend, I am teaching in Rapid City at the Black Hills Fiber Festival, and after that, I'm home until mid-August! Woot!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Live Blogged AI Season 13 Top 7 Elimination 04-17-14

So live blogging again. This could become a habit.

Parks and Recreation ran over, so I missed the beginning of last night's recap, which was barely worth watching the first time. I should have stayed with Leslie Knope to the very end.

Oh! Kevin Bacon! Did I ever tell you all that I'm just two degrees from Kevin Bacon? (that is if KB himself counts as one, otherwise, I'm just one degree away).

Ryan is wearing his navy blue suit tonight, with a white shirt and black tie. Or maybe, like Prince William, he has a closet full of them. JLo is wearing a very very mini dress that looks like it's made of some heavy Chanel-adjacent fabric, and thigh-high boots. JLo looks very 60's tonight, with her hair in a sort of swoopy updo. Keith is wearing a black tee shirt with a red cross- in honor of Easter? Harry is in a suit too.

Last night's post-show involved toasting with water glasses. Sam mentions Alex's pee dance, and Harry seemed ill. I am surprised that Jena likes Demi Lovato... she seems better than that (Jena, I mean).

The kids are lined up on stage and Ryan wears a fedora. It looks dumb on him too. The Fordmercial is about the revamped mustang and what the kids would do if they had one. My guess is that at least two of them will get to find out on the finale.

Alex in a pale blue striped summer shirt, Dexter in a backwards cap and tan jacket, and Jena in a long sleeved chambray shirt and some gold chains, are called down first. First saved is Jena, who is very happy. And Alex is safe. I would have thought that all three were safe, but nope. Dexter is in the bottom two.

Is this Dexter's first time in the bottom?

CJ in Grandpa's ratty old brown tweed sweater and fedora, Sam in a blue on blue raglan tee, Jessica with her hair pulled back and a short-sleeved black leather jacket and red pants, and Caleb in a black velvet jacket are called down next. Caleb is safe first. CJ is also safe, to everyone's surprise. And finally, Sam is safe. Sam is surprised, Jessica is not. Jessica is not pretending to smile.

And the one going home is.... Dexter! Whoa. I'm not sorry because I think he peaked long ago. But I am surprised. I fully expected Jessica to hit the road. Well, next week, probably.

I don't dislike Dexter, I just don't care for the music he likes. I hope he finds success. And I hope his sad mama feels better soon too.

Man, I like half-hour shows.

Malabrigo Cruise- Last days in Ft. Lauderdale

I couldn't get a flight out the day after we docked in Ft. Lauderdale, so we ended up staying an entire extra day. We didn't do anything but collapse once we finally got into our room on Sunday (folks were returning from cruises and leaving for cruises all at the same time- the lobby and shuttles were chaotic, and when this motel said that check-in was at 3pm, they weren't kidding. We had several really exhausting hours to kill). We walked across the street for supper at Chipotle and then conked out early.

A street sign I'm not apt to see any time soon...

Our first motel was far nicer, but this one had a good pool.

Neither DeeAnn nor I intended to drive anywhere in Florida, so mostly we expected just to sit around for our last pitiful day in sunny Florida. But my old classmate Colleen came to our rescue. I've known Colleen since the 6th grade, but we hadn't seen each other in person for decades. She lived nearby, so on Monday she drove over and took us to the most marvelous little canal marina restaurant for lunch.

The Bahia Cabana is attached to a motel/resort/canal. The entrance was entrancing.

 We got a waterside table, and commenced to watching the many many boats.

Lovely Colleen, our hostess and guide!

If we had had longer in Ft. Lauderdale, we might have been tempted to ride on this one.

The food was wonderful, and the atmosphere fantastic.

More boats (I'm pretty sure I'm okay in calling these boats rather than ships).

  Rubber biscuit?
Oh, those sculpted black pants? In the sunshine? They're hot. Almost blistering hot.

I never knew that such a thing as revolving plastic toilet seat covers existed.

After lunch, Colleen drove us to a fairly secluded beach. I have no idea who the owner of the bent-over backside is. I'm sure she's happy not to be named.

The ocean sound was amazing. This was my first time putting my toes into the Atlantic, and I loved it. The sand on this beach was grainier than on the Caribbean beaches, for whatever that's worth.

It was windy.

DeeAnn always looks great in the water.

One last view of the beautiful Atlantic.

And one last afternoon of adventure in Florida.