Sunday, April 26, 2009

A note from Kristen's publicist

Kristen is experiencing a bit of a funk. She'll be back soon. Thanks for checking in. 

Thursday, April 16, 2009

American Idol Top 7

I'm writing my American Idol recap a day late on purpose this time: I decided last week that I liked being able to comment on the results as well as the performances, even if it means the originality of my predictions may be subject to scrutiny. Whatever.

"Songs from the Movies" might just be my favorite theme so far. In addition to witnessing Quentin Tarantino actually provide constructive criticism (a refreshing challenge to every other celebrity mentor's "That sounded great!" broken record), we weren't forced to sit through any painfully boring songs. Unfortunately, the evening was also devoid of any spectacular performances. Even my usual favorites fell a little flat: Allison Iraheta's "Don't Wanna Miss a Thing" by Aerosmith was a perfect choice, but she just didn't sing it that well. The message coming across to me was, "Obviously I am an awesome rockstar, so correct pitch and emotional connection to the song aren't necessary." Even Adam Lambert, while technically proficient, didn't add anything extraordinary to "Born to be Wild." I guess I prefer his startling softer side to the rock and roll which he more clearly embodies.

Kris Allen brought out that softer side I love with the beautiful Glen Hansard song, "Falling Slowly." His was my favorite performance, of a great song I don't hear often enough.

The difference between Danny Gokey's performance this week and last week Danny certainly brings an admirable level of consistency to the competition. He always sounds good, but he always sounds the same.

I expected Anoop Desai to follow his established pattern and fail miserably after he did well last week, but was pleasantly surprised with his controlled rendition of Bryan Adams' "Everything I Do," a song notoriously easy to karaokify.

Likewise, I wasn't expecting much from Lil Rounds, but I thought her gospel-infused version of "The Rose" made the song more interesting and showed more artistry than she has brought to the stage for many weeks. She is still my least favorite contestant, but I thought her performance was better than the judges gave her credit for. I thought it might be enough to save her until she fought to squeeze in her opinionated defense after the judges' comments. That is always an unattractive move, made more distasteful by the blatant disregard for Ryan's urgent reminder that the show had already gone over-time.

Matt Giraud also performed Bryan Adams, and also sounded quite good. But without having established a fan base as solid as Adam or Danny's, however, I felt that Matt's sentence to the bottom 3 this week was a distinct possibility. I would have preferred to see Lil Rounds pack her bags, but Matt received the lowest number of votes, which earned him the opportunity to "sing for his life" based on this year's new ultra-exciting rule twist: the "Judge's Save." The elite panel gets one opportunity to veto America's votes if believed to be "wrong." The problem with such a prospect at this stage in the competition is that everyone is pretty darn good...but each week someone inevitably must go.

Matt's do-over--possibly his last chance to sing on the American Idol stage--was unrecognizable. Granted he awkwardly sang it from outside the safe haven of his piano bench, but vocally it was a disaster. It wasn't a big surprise to me that the judges opted to use their one saving grace for Matt. He has been one of the girls' favorites from the very beginning despite the fact that his performances have been inconsistent, and he has yet to bring anything spectacular to the stage. Their decision to keep him around another week could not have possibly been based on his supposedly life-saving performance, because if it had been his first audition, we would never have seen him in Hollywood.

We'll enjoy the likes of this same Top 7 once again next week, but because of this not-so-shocking twist, two of them will see their fate sealed by the public vote (or lack thereof). What remains to be seen is whether the judges' save did anything more than prolong the inevitable.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Easter Bunny Chronicles

After today, my daughter Madelyn has lived through a total of three Easter holidays. At the first, she was a mere 4 months old. Besides the phenomenon that 9 out of the 10 girls at our family gathering showed up wearing shades of pink without any premeditated collaboration, it was a fairly uneventful holiday for Madelyn.

But that is because she had no business participating in any hunting of Easter eggs. Madelyn's second and third Easter experiences have both been clouded by minor egg-hunt grievances. Not that she has any clue about this, but I can't help noticing the pattern.

Madelyn was 15 months old at the time of her first Easter egg hunt attempt. A timid age, surrounded by lots of people and noise, she was slowly trying to figure out the whole idea of picking up the plastic eggs and putting them into her basket.

Well, "you snooze, you lose." This young man reached right around Madelyn and snatched the very egg she was reaching for. And if you can't tell, he already has an egg under his palm as well. Not too mention the giant grocery satchel compared to Madelyn's tiny straw purse. Ahem. Sorry, I'm sure he is normally a very well-mannered boy and just got caught up in the excitement.
Last year we also showed up 47 seconds late to a different egg hunt, meaning that every last one of the 10,000 eggs on the premises were already found. These comprise Madelyn's first Easter experiences.
This year we went to an Easter egg hunt put on by one of my mom-friends. It is a really sweet thing for her to do. I never want Madelyn to feel like the purpose of these activities is to "get" as much as you can. It's just for fun! Especially at this age, there is no point in overdoing the egg collecting.
So after Madelyn had filled her relatively small basket (her Care Bear was already taking up half the room anyway), we stepped aside and let the other children find the remaining eggs. I do appreciate that most of the eggs were filled with little toys or temporary tattoos instead of candy.
Everyone returned to my friend's house to visit while the kids opened their eggs. I immediately went to the kitchen to discard Madelyn's snotty tissue when we got there. When I returned to Madelyn, I found that she had dumped out her basket just inside the door, and was happily unwrapping a piece of candy she found inside one of her eggs. All the rest of her eggs had been swooped up into the other kids' piles. Probably unintentionally. But at this point Madelyn was left with one egg for her basket.
I casually mentioned the amusing situation to my friend next to me, and she said we could have some of her son's eggs. That was sweet of her, especially since, being right next to us, some of his were probably eggs Madelyn had found in the first place. Except she never actually gave us any, and I didn't feel comfortable just taking them.
Amid the chaos, I was able to slide a few seemingly "stray" eggs back to Madelyn's area undetected. I had noticed some foam capsules that grow into animals or dinosaurs when placed in water, and I knew Madelyn would enjoy those. So I asked the hostess if she had any extras, which she did. So I was entirely pleased to go home with those, a couple of play-doh tubs, and a sticker or two. When we got home, however, I discovered that the foam capsules had somehow been misplaced. I was really disappointed about that.

The contents of Madelyn's basket at time of departure
(compare with full basket at end of egg hunt, above)
Another child's collection of eggs. One child.
I put on a little Easter egg hunt for Madelyn at home this morning. She had a lot of fun, and no one stole her eggs. So I was happy too.
And now just for FUN...
Frightening Easter Bunnies of Days PastMy brother John, me, my cousin Rachel. Easter 1990.

A very scary bunny trying to eat my mother. Why would any child want to sit on this lap?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

What's in a name?

Okay, far-out trends in baby-naming have been around for a while: unique spelling of standard names, unexpected pronunciation of names which at first appear ordinary, odd nouns and adjectives serving as names, and the like. I always enjoy Bridget's posts about intriguing (or hilarious) name discoveries, such as this recent one where she cited a like-minded blogger's response to the list of babies born at a certain hospital in Idaho last year. A report like this always give me a hearty laugh (or several building in succession), but it also hurts my tender heart a bit considering the future of these unfortunate souls, given atrocious names without their consent, is not a joke. And it hurts my brain to ponder the mental capacity and selfish motives from which such names were spawned. Come to think of it, my eyes probably hurt the most, though, from attempting to phonetically sound out names like Taicyr, Kenideigh, and Adicyne.

The divergent trend I predict for the future is probably already occuring. There will continue to be parents who insist on standing out, eventually forced to mutilate the sacred gift of a name even further until the only remaining prospects resemble un-pronouncable groupings of letters drawn from a hat. "Hello, uh, Ialeuskj?" "No no no. It's pronounced Jack." Riiiiight.

We're already seeing the influx of "vintage" names returning, the likes of Rose, Pearl, Henry, and Afton (yep, even my own grandmother's name). After a while, parents who want to make a real statement about their baby's individuality will start choosing names from Generation X: the ones so overused they all but disappeared from new birth records, a phenomenon which will eventually allow them to be "cool" again one day. When I'm fifty there will probably be lots of new little Jessicas, Madisons, and Taylors. Of course, the question remains whether agreeably old-fashioned names like Mavis, Gerard, and Myrtle will make a comeback one day.

My daughter's name is Madelyn. Does the Y in her name place me among the ranks of baby-namers to be ridiculed? First, consider the facts: My husband and I both had an affinity toward the name Madeline, (pronounced as it rhymes with "inn" not "ine") long before we were expecting a child. We met with a financial advisor once, and I was struck with the name on her business card: Madelyn Stasko. I had never seen that spelling of an already favorite name, and loved how it assured correct pronunciation of the easily mistakable--although more typical--spelling. This woman was probably in her fifties, so was not a product of a recent naming fad. Throughout my pregnancy several years after meeting Ms. Stasko, the name Madelyn remained on our short list until the very end (obviously), but I did a lot of searching for the right name. My primary concern with Madelyn was that it had recently spiked in popularity, and I didn't wish the fate of ever-present last initial on my daughter as I had growing up. But it came down to a gut feeling about what was right. We did not intentionally name our daughter after the random financial advisor with whom we haven't spoken in years, it was simply the first time I had ever encountered that phonetically correct spelling. Since my father, Bryce, is also a financial advisor, perhaps our Madelyn Bryce will grow up being a wise investor.

My own name is very standard. I've always felt it was too boring, in fact. As a Barbie-doll playing child, my favorite part of the whole make-believe experience was selecting my Barbie's name-of-the-day. A favorite, which I gleaned from some sci-fi book, was Tanda. Awesome. But even a totally normal name like Kristen gets misspelled and mispronounced all the time. Kristin is of course the most common spelling error, but I also get these variations on spelling and pronunciation: Christen, Kirsten, Christin, Christine, Kierstin, Christian, Kristan, and more.

Now, having only heard my name spoken aloud, one is left to venture a guess at the spelling. I have had to spell my name over the phone and to receptionists all my life, and it isn't even a weird name. There are multiple acceptable spellings of even the most seemingly basic of names, like Sara(h), or Bridget(te). Of course you start going down the Saeruh and Bryjit routes and I'm no longer on board. But truly, I've never felt that the need to spell my name for people was any huge burden, and I hope that my daughter will agree. A little twist on an old favorite is nothing I get too worked up about.

What I do find slightly disrespectful is when people can see my name written clearly, and still misspell it. My email signature is clearly embedded in every message. My Facebook profile makes no mistake of the name by which I am known. Yet people reply directly to my messages with 'Hey Kristin.' Being intimately familiar with this little irritation, I make a concerted effort to get people's names right. I feel that if the letters are right there in front of you, the courteous thing to do is take an extra moment to ensure accuracy.

I feel more strongly that names ought to easily be pronounced correctly by sight-reading than that they ought to conform to some specific spelling rules. I met a new friend the other day whose name is Alyssa. Her parents specifically named her after the Alyssum flower, but for a reason which evades me insist that her name is pronounced Uh-LEE-suh. I would typically spell that Elisa or Alisa. Any first crack at Alyssa will be pronounced Uh-LISS-uh. Am I right? At least she could laugh about it.

As a general rule (which always have exceptions), names should include only necessary letters. Huntter and Tyhler are not appropriate exceptions. Maybe a helpful hint for parents-to-be is to imagine your child's name typed in Copperplate Gothic across the top of a fine linen-paper resume.
See? It really works to weed out the names that will never have a chance of being taken seriously. Those examples come straight from The List (actually Rowdy was from the 2007 list, but 2008's Tyken Raylee has a twin sister named Tylenn Braylee. I'm sobbing for them as I type this). I'm also sobbing for little Xoie (yep, that's like Zoey for all us lame people). Do your eyes hurt yet?

In summary, I like unique names, and don't even mind unique spellings within limits. But babies grow into children with insensitive peers, and children grow into adults who may want to command respect. Names like Brinley Sue and Chasitie aren't going to help. One conjures image of a redneck, the other a prostitute. And I just don't know what people will think of when they meet Taggart and Zaylee. Just go read the whole post so I can quit listing examples. There are too many great ones, I can't help it!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

American Idol Top 8

I watched both the American Idol performances and results in succession last night, so my tardy review allows me to discuss both aspects of this week's show.

Nearly every bit of television entertainment I watch is recorded on our DVR. Even when I want to watch American Idol on the correct night, I'll wait until at least 30 minutes past showtime before starting to watch so I can fast-forward through the commercials. I know I am not alone, and I also know that people like us make advertisers very angry. But don't you worry, they'll find other ways to reach us. I'm already noticing changes to the commercials themselves which seem to make an impact even on fast-forward, or contain images that are designed to make you want to rewind and watch it. The evolution of advertising.

Anyway, the reason I mention this is that Tuesday night's show went into overtime--perhaps because a little too much time was spent making not-very-funny jokes about the judges' and Ryan Seacrest's baby photos at the beginning--and the DVR entirely missed recording the final performance. This spot in the lineup happened to belong to one Adam Lambert, the performance I most look forward to each week because it is always by far the most interesting. I was very disappointed.

Thank goodness for YouTube, then, as moments ago I was able to sneak a peek at the performance which I understand received only a standing ovation from Simon Cowell himself, in lieu of any adjudication from the judges, as the clock ticked into Fringe's season premiere. Simply put, Adam Lambert is a brilliant artist, talented vocalist, and hasn't made a wrong choice yet as far as I'm concerned. Take a listen to this, and remember that it comes from the same man who sang that insane arrangement of Johnny Cash's Ring of Fire (I re-posted audio-only since the video was removed).


The rest of the contestants were okay--no other standouts this week in my opinion. Even Kris Allen's performance really fell flat. It was just kind of sloppy, and really boring. Matt Giraud's song also seemed off to me, but the judges loved it. Danny Gokey managed to make "Stand by Me," a relatively boring song, interesting by choosing a creative arrangement. Anoop bounced back from last week's trainwreck with a soft ballad, "True Colors." He was technically proficient, but the song was yawn-worthy.

Allison did justice to a great song, "I Can't Make You Love Me." Her voice is recognizably unique, which is more than I can say about Lil Rounds. She would be a great backup singer, because she can sing in tune and hit big, high notes, but to me, she just doesn't stand out as a star soloist. Scott MacIntyre isn't good enough to sell albums either. But he took a big leap and moved away from his comfortable piano bench, accompanying himself with an electric guitar this week. I thought that might have been just the right bold move to keep this sight-impaired contestant around for another week, but it turns out I was wrong.

Scott got the boot last night (although softened by Paula Abdul's heartfelt speech to his inspirational journey), with Anoop and Lil by his side in the bottom three. Surprisingly, this was Lil's first time in the bottom three (but I doubt she'll be able to escape it anymore). Anoop, on the other hand, is no stranger to those uncomfortable silver stools.

The problem immediately facing Anoop Desai is that his likability is waning, and that quality alone rescued him from some very poor performances. After each mistake, he manages to rebound with a performance worthy of redemption, only to throw it away again the following week. The emerging predictability of this pattern leads me to believe we can expect another bomb next week. And I don't mean that in the context of "da bomb."

But last night while he stood next to Scott, awaiting Ryan's pronouncement of their respective fates, Anoop did a very poor job of disguising his anger at us viewers for not having voted for him. Maybe he was just mad at himself, but his evident frustration came across as arrogance, which is unbecoming to say the least. Contrasted with Scott's beaming smile--happy to have simply been a part of such an amazing journey--the effect Anoop's expression had on his consumer appeal was intensified. Apparently there was also buzz about him talking back to the judges last week, and anyone who had forgotten or might not have noticed (that's me) was made full aware when Ryan Seacrest asked Anoop about it Tuesday night, basically forcing him to apologize on stage before his performance. This all adds up to a risky situation for Anoop, so he'd better pull himself together. If he can't lose the ambiance of conceit, he'd better step up some serious game on the singing front.

The remaining 7 contestants are easily divided: Lil, Anoop, and Matt will all leave the competition before Danny, Adam, Kris, and Allison. I believe Adam will be in the final showdown, but I can see him accompanied by any of those remaining three. My official prediction at this point for order of elimination is: Anoop, Lil, Matt, Danny, Allison--leaving Kris and Adam to battle for the title. But my opinion could easily change as the weeks progress.

While we're talking about results for the first time, I want to say that I am so happy that Megan Corkery was finally released from her unfortunate position in the top 10. That girl brought shame to the organization and all it stands for. It seemed as if she knew that on the night she was sent home. The only person I do wish was still around is Alexis Grace. That cute little blondie with the big voice could take Lil's place and I would be very pleased.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Not homonyms

sedimentary ~ one of the three main types of rock (the others being igneous and metamorphic rock), formed by the deposition and compression of small particles.

Sample of correct usage in a sentence: Limestone, dolomite, and sandstone are all types of sedimentary rock, which covers 75-80% of the Earth's land area.

With the intention of describing the desk job which aided in the expansion of your waistline, the word you are looking for is sedentary.

pitcher ~ 1. a vessel used to contain liquid, usually having a handle and spout for pouring. 2. the player on a baseball team who launches the ball toward home plate to begin each play in attempt to retire the batter.

Sample of correct usage in a sentence: When I saw the Yankees' pitcher in the bar, I bought him and his friends a pitcher of beer.

In discussions relating to photography, the word you are looking for is picture which is pronounced with a hard 'k' sound at the end of the first syllable. Of course, both words may be appropriately used if you have taken a picture of a pitcher.

mortified ~ a synonym for embarrassed or humiliated, as in when one is made to feel uncomfortable because of shame or wounded pride.

Sample of correct usage in a sentence: There were only two of us in the car, so when my date had to nonchalantly roll down his window to clear the gas I had passed, I was mortified.

When you are extremely frightened, or intend to describe your intense fear toward a particular object or situation, the word you are looking for is terrified. To say, "I am mortified of spiders" implies only that you might be ashamed if one were seen in your company.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Flashback Friday: A plea for equal alphabetical rights

I have always been a good student. In fifth grade, I got along with my teacher, Ms. Graham, by quietly meeting expectations. She was fairly strict, but I wasn't typically one to cause trouble (exception: the time I was taken into the hall to define the word "wedgie" to Ms. Graham when another student tattled on me for having noticed hers aloud), so we generally remained allies in the classroom.

In preparation for an upcoming assignment, we were instructed to contemplate and select some task on which we considered ourselves an "expert." Next we would prepare formal presentations instructing our classmates on the intricate details of the chosen task. Ms. Graham described an example for making a peanut butter and jelly sandwhich. The presentation would involve an overview of the materials needed and a demonstration of every little step from extracting 2 slices of bread from the bag to taking the first bite, including any special techniques for avoiding jelly spillout, etc.

At home, I discussed some options with my mother, and ultimately decided enthusiastically on demonstrating how to wrap a present. I probably loved a good gift-wrapping session then even more than I do now, and my mom and I had some creative ideas for my presentation.

It would have been absurd for half of the class to explain how to make a sandwich, so the next day Ms. Graham recorded the title of each planned demonstration. Beginning at the top of her class roster, she asked each student to announce his or her selected area of expertise. I settled into the familiar boredom of waiting to get from the "A" names down to my "W" name.

I was only bored until little miss Emily Pratt casually declared that she would teach the class how to wrap a present. I felt my face get hot as boys and girls around me continued to indifferently state their choices. Ms. Graham had informed us that there were to be no duplicate topics.

I had my heart set on giving a kick-ass demonstration of gift-wrapping genius. I wondered how Emily could possibly have chosen the same theme as I, when I was clearly far more brilliant. Although slightly irritated, I had no intentions of changing my mind.

When Ms. Graham called my name, I responded calmly.

"How to wrap a present," I said.

"Emily is already doing that," she said. "You have to do something else."

I declined.

After finishing with the last student on the list (which may well have been me), Ms. Graham gave the rest of the class some busywork (I can only assume) and took Emily and me aside to discuss the dilemma.

Her intial query was whether or not I had told anyone my idea before class, which I had not. The most aggravating part of the situation, then, was that Ms. Graham thereby inferred I must have simply copied Emily's idea after hearing her state it during class. As if instead of completing the task assigned, I planned to simply wait until I heard someone else mention an idea I liked and use that one. Were all my hard work and good grades and tiny defining illustrations accompanying every word on spelling tests because I could spell the words at lightning speed not enough to gain her trust?

I launched a passionate argument against the injustice of forcing me to change my selection simply because P comes before W in the alphabet. My pleading tears must have been effective, because Ms. Graham withdrew her "no repeats" rule and granted Miss Pratt and I both the right to present our identical supposed areas of expertise.

On the big day, Emily's demonstration preceded mine in the lineup. She adequately demosntrated how to wrap a rectangular box. Bravo!

During my turn, I showed a much easier way to wrap a rectangluar box, plus some techniques for wrapping odd-shaped or cylindrical gifts, adding ribbon, and more. I felt a little bit guilty that my presentation was so much more thorough. I suppose that validates Ms. Graham's plan to avoid two students being "an expert" on the same topic, since expertise is relative among fifth graders.

The only other presentation that remains a flicker in my memory came from the boy who actually used the sample task: making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I was really annoyed that he put the peanut butter and the jelly on the same piece of bread. And the sandwich was really sloppy. And who chooses the teacher's example for an assignment like this?

Perhaps someone who didn't take the time to think of something better at home, and whose ill-fated last name starts with A.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

American Idol Top 9

I swear I have no intentions for Beyond Mommy to become an American Idol blog. Since my husband recently started working a job with long hours rendering me a full-time working-at-home-mother with a business to run, I have been left with very few moments to spend blogging, and when the free time does manifest itself, my brain is so far from creative writing mode that I've been unable to focus any meaningful thought into comprehensible prose. So here we are again with my opinions on Fox Reality TV, since my OCD won't allow me to abandon this series of posts I began.

Predicting the bottom three after tonight's show should be easier than making a blonde laugh on Saturday.*

To my humble little ears, Megan Joy's voice sounds like nails on a blackboard, the agony only intensifying every week. The judges only prattled on about her disappointing song choice though, instead of cluing her in to the fact that she cannot sing! Why am I the only one who knows this?!?

Anoop sang a song by Usher that half of the audience has probably never heard and won't enjoy. I really like Anoop. On top of his singing talent, I am always left with a faint impression that he could have been Peter Gibbons' third cohort at Initech. His little hip-hop motif on stage tonight authenticated the Office Space persona for me, distinctly conjuring images of the three software programmers bashing the hell out of an old copy machine in a vacant lot to the tune of "Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta." Hilarious? Yes. Legitimate? No.

Matt Giraud got the next worst comments from the judges, once again focusing on his poor song choice. I agree that it was ludicrous to select a song by The Fray which was so reminiscent of his horrendous Cold Play rendition that cost him his first chance at getting voted through to the Top 12. But he sang tonight's song far better, and I wish the judges would let go of the song choice issue once in a while and give some feedback on what the singer did with the song he or she chose. It's true that this genre isn't Matt's best match, and the judges made no mistake in conveying that message, but if this is the kind of music he wants to sing, let America decide whether or not he should. Kara is right, however, in stating that Matt does not deserve to go home.

On that note, neither does Anoop, based on what we've seen him accomplish in the past. After Megan, my next choice to go home would be Lil Rounds. Last week I felt it was time to bid adieu to Scott MacIntyre, but this week he made all the right choices. Billy Joel's "Just the Way You Are" with nothing but Scott, a spotlight, and the shiny black Yamaha (which Ryan Seacrest has repeatedly referred to as the "baby grand" despite the fact that it is over 7 feet long) perfectly highlighted his vocals this week without the distractions that I believe have caused him to lose mental focus in the past, affecting the precision of his intonation and pitch. The judges were pleasantly surprised at Lil's Celine Dion copycat, but my assessment is far from glowing. She struggled to find the correct key a couple of times, and overused the screaming powerhouse voice without giving it proper dynamic balance.

My four favorites still won the competition tonight, but I can easily place two at the very top. The issue I'm having with Danny Gokey is that he is producing a nearly identical performance each week. It isn't getting any worse, it just isn't getting any more interesting. I also thought the range of the Rascal Flatts number was too wide, as the lower register was not well-supported (again), yet it would have been a strain to hit any higher than the top of that key.

Alison Iraheta killed it once again on "Don't Speak," and I appreciated a slightly more subdued choice without losing her rockstar edge. Usually Simon Cowell is the only judge bold enough to ridicule a contestant's choice of wardrobe (especially a girl's), but the meek and stuttering Randy Jackson started the panel on a tirade against her (admittedly horrific) ensemble. I hated the dress as much as any of them, but I was baffled that not one of them mentioned the absurdity of her guitar prop. When she came out with the axe around her neck, we were all surprised and excited to hear this punk jam on her electric guitar. She plucked a few soft chords for her intro, then violently swung it around her back , grabbed the mic, and allowed the band to accompany the rest of the song. I was left yearning for more, but believing that she must lack the skill to provide it, and thus should have simply left it out altogether. Because after the intro she looked rather silly with a guitar strapped to the back of her poofy dress. The whole thing was confusing, but thankfully she really did sing well, and this is a singing competition after all.

Which leads us to the highlights of the night: Adam Lambert and Kris Allen. It amazes me that Kris' entrance to the competition was kind of a shocker, yet he has not once failed to impress. I absolutely loved his "Ain't No Sunshine," and we got to see him behind a keyboard instead of guitar this week, which just adds another succulent layer to his tiramisu of talent. The reason I can see him rising above the entertaining Mr. Lambert is the fact that he has universal appeal. Right now we love anticipating what inimitable mark Adam will leave on the stage each week. But at the very end, when people start deciding which performances they would actually download to their iPod, I think Kris might beat Adam based on a wider circle of influence. On the other hand, it may be Kris' conventional talent that ultimately resigns him to being just another really good singer, giving Adam the edge as he has proven to be so much more.

At this point, I'm rooting for these two boys in the finale, but my verdicts are based on performances alone, so no alliances are promised. But if Megan continues to escape her deserved fate, I may have some harsh words for a little website called because they are seriously pissing me off (to the extent that one can take Reality TV seriously).

*Just tell her a joke on Saturday! Do people even tell blonde jokes anymore?


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