Feb 28

Girls Strike Back?

American IdolHere’s my first attempt at “live-blogging” American Idol. A bit of a peek into that interior catty bitch that is my sub conscience.

Gina Glocksen – Her performance of “Alone” was just ok for me. The beginning was a bit too low for her. I hope she sticks around to develop herself a bit more. Way to go Ryan for completely putting her boyfriend on the spot with the “time for a ring” comment.

Alaina Alexander – I love love love “Not Ready to Make Nice” as my faithful readers already know. However I hate this song when it’s sung out of tune and with absolutely no breath control. By the end, I thought she might pass out, turn blue and flop around on the floor. Thank you Simon, you get me. You really get me. She did run out of steam.

NduguMy African Grey Parrot, Ndugu, loves American Idol as evidenced by his insistent singing and whistling along. Must turn up the volume.

LaKisha Jones – Ok… there’s no question she’s got a great voice. But please please don’t fall into the trap of performing all black diva songs all the time. It’s predictable and boring. That being said, she looks great, and did a decent version of “Midnight Train to Georgia.” I’d really love to hear her sing something completely against type, like a Melissa Etheridge or Lita Ford (wouldn’t that be hot!?) song. Simon should not give fashion advice. She looked great. Of course Ryan can tell the difference between Orange and Salmon.

Melinda Doolittle – She looks amazing. “My Funny Valentine” is a great choice for her. Yeah, she’s still my favorite girl. She switched up the melody a bit, and is dead-on the pitch. Outstanding! Even Ndugu shut up to listen. That was great. Simon is again quite astute in his assessment of her personality. She’s so sweet and unassuming and so un-diva like. I ::heart:: her.

Oh God. Ryan has just threatened us with Antonella singing Celine Dion after the break. Is three minutes enough time to find an ice pick and shove it deeply into my ear canals? Damn, no ice pick here and the corkscrew is too thick. Chopsticks? No, I’ll want to eat with those later… Aaah fuck it. I’ll just have a glass of wine and hope Ndugu will out sing her. He can, you know.

Antonella Barbra – She dedicated her song to her brother. Guess it’s because HE didn’t leak the pictures of her on the toilet and servicing a guy with a pixelated penis. Ok… so she’s sang a total of 8 notes, half of which were in tune. This is dreadful. I think I saw that dress pattern as the background on someone’s myspace page. It has since been removed for causing blindness. “Because You Loved Me” was not the song for her. Actually, I can’t think of a song that is the song for her. Oh good move, going on the offensive against Simon about Jennifer Hudson. That might get her some votes, but I think she’d better have her suitcase packed and ready to go home. Maybe Senjaya Malakar can share her taxi to the airport…. as long as she doesn’t sing along to the radio he should be fine. He might even get blown.

Ndugu remained relatively quiet during that tragic number. I think he’s in shock.

Jordin Sparks – The youngest of the girls is quite cute. She reminds me a bit of Norah Jones. Why do all these younger artists try so hard to perform songs that are too old for them? She’s having some pitch problems with this sappy Christina Aguilera song. Yikes, that run was terrible. Did someone step on a cat? Aah, tears are always good for enough votes to push you through for another week. Wow… is she a giant or is Ryan just a child? Don’t answer that.

Another freaking break? Seriously guys, how much money do you really have to make? How many Ford and Coke commercials must I sit through? That’s the problem with watching this live instead of coming home to a fresh episode of Idol waiting in my Tivo Now Playing list. Tuesdays are great because we have band rehearsal and get to breeze through all the commercials when we get home.

Oh good, the Pickler will be on tomorrow night. The average IQ of the room will drop by 100 points.

Stephanie Edwards – She looks fantastic. I hate this song, “Dangerously in Love.” It’s got that weird atonal melody thing going on that makes it impossible for me to get into. I don’t like the Beyonce version either. That being said, she performed it quite well. Nice range. I still like her.

More commercials. This is really annoying.

Leslie Hunt – Gawky is a good word for her. I wonder if that is a side effect of lupus? She’s doing “Feeling Good” too? Why is that song suddenly so popular? I love Nina Simone. I like Leslie’s voice, though there are some pitch issues close to the end. And the freaky scat? Hated it. I don’t like to watch her. I want to like her, but sadly, I just can’t.

Haley Scarnato – Great start with “Queen of the Night.” She sounds like she is trying to do an impression of En Vogue singing Whitney. I think her falsetto run in the middle was in a key unknown to any composer. Other than that, she did show some excitement and fun finally. A definite improvement over last week, but that’s not saying too much. Ndugu bobbed his head along with her, which could either mean he enjoyed it or he wishes to poop on her. Not that those two things are mutually exclusive.

Sabrina Sloan – She’s so striking… reminds me of Gloria Estefan-ish. Another Whitney song, but she has enough power to pull it off, though she’s just a bit flat on the money notes in the middle. She almost NAILED the ending until the final note which was weak.

Ok, here’s the wrap up:

Safe:

  • LaKisha Jones
  • Melinda Doolittle
  • Sabrina Sloan

Coasting:

  • Gina Glocksen
  • Jordin Sparks
  • Stephanie Edwards


Danger! Danger!:

  • Alaina Alexander
  • Antonella Barbra
  • Leslie Hunt
  • Haley Scarnato

Overall, I have to say the guys were more exciting this week.

My picks to leave are Antonella and Alaina. (Of course Antonella will probably get the sympathy votes and Leslie will go home a week too early.)

Ndugu agrees, but thinks Antonella should go home based on her dress alone.

So, who do you want to go home? Besides Antonella of course…

Feb 28

The Boys Suddenly Appear

American IdolI have so far (this season) abstained from talking about my serious addiction to American Idol. It’s not because I’m not watching religiously, but because until tonight there really hasn’t been anything to say.

There were a couple of performances last week that didn’t completely and utterly suck, but it was only a couple. The boys were especially dismal. In fact last week I was finding it hard to find any guy worthy of my vote. Blake (the beatboxer) was good, and Chris Richardson was ok. Brandon is gorgeous and has a nice voice but has so far bored me. The girls were better, by far. Lakisha, Stephanie, and my front runner favorite so far, Melinda was especially good.

What a difference one week makes. The boys came out swinging tonight and actually made it seem like a competition for the first time this season.

Here are my picks for the boys this week.

Blake LewisSafe:

  • Blake Lewis – His take on Virtual Insanity was killer. I realized about halfway through that I was unable to sit still and I kept thinking, ‘ok… this is hot!’
  • Chris Richardson – I told UMB last week that I wanted to hear Chris sing a Jason Mraz song. Funny that he did it this week. Funnier still that the one he chose, “Geek in the Pink,” is one of my LEAST favorite Mraz songs. That being said, he was spectacular tonight. Now I’d like to hear him do a Maroon 5 song. (You hear that Chris?)
  • AJ Tabaldo – He’s been consistently good. I loved his version of “Feeling Good.” Anyone else get the gay vibe from him? I’m not looking to out anyone, I’ll leave that sort of sleazy tactic to Perez Hilton, but I definitely get a blip on gaydar.

Chris RichardsonWill probably coast by:

  • Brandon Rogers – He’s got a great voice and definitely deserves to come back. “Time After Time” could have been much better than he performed it tonight. He’ll skate by on his dedication to his grandmother and the fact that he did seem to feel the song, which IS extremely important, thank you very much Simon.
  • Chris Sligh – I liked his version of “Trouble.” But honestly, I don’t think he’s that special… he’s got a strange sense of rhythm and really needs to learn how to annunciate when he sings. I can’t understand half his words.
  • Phil Stacey – Nice voice, gets the soldier vote. Nothing spectacular. He has managed to perform two songs that I love, “I Could Not Ask for More” last week and “Missing You” last night.

Sanjaya MalakarDanger! Danger!:

  • Sanjaya Malakar – Look, you’re pretty. You have a nice voice, and you have been consistently in tune. However, the performance last night of “Stepping Out” was awkward, weird and generally made me quite uncomfortable. At first when I thought you might be performing the Joe Jackson song I was intrigued. When it ended up being the jazz standard made famous by Tony Bennett I was quite confused. I’m sorry to say, you’re just too young. You should be performing in local talent shows and discovering who you are as an artist.
  • Nicholas Pedro – I like you. I really do. Unfortunately, you pick shitty songs. “Fever?” Really? Here’s my unsolicited advice (as though you’re going to ever read this): Stop looking at Sinatra as an influence and look squarely in the direction of Harry Connick Jr and Jamie Cullum. They do a similar old style while still exuding an incredible amount of youth and fun and excitement. That’s what you’re lacking.
  • Jared Cotter – Last night was a really bad Marvin Gaye impression. If you’re going to sing “Let’s Get It On” you either have to do something completely different with it, or you have to absolutely nail it. You failed. You may skate by this week because of the sexy faces you were making, but you’re gonna have to do MUCH better than that to make the top 12.
  • Sundance Head – Dude. Go home to your kid. I liked your audition, but every performance since then has been absolutely terrible. You didn’t deserve to make the top 24 and you know it. And pulling out “Mustang Sally” last night? What the hell? It was like a really bad wedding band (and I know something about bad wedding bands) performance. I have NO idea what the judges were listening to since they seemed to like it. I think they were just still giddy following Chris Richardson’s performance.

So what do you think? Am I off the mark? Who’s going home? Who do you love?

Feb 28

Music Flashback

I had one of those strange moments tonight where I felt like I was six years old again.

I was suddenly and instantly transported back to my parent’s bedroom where the stereo lived. My mom and dad and I were sitting on the bed listening to the 8-track player singing along to artists like Amy Grant, The Kendalls, Barry Manilow, and the rich smooth baritone of country artist Don Williams.

These are the songs that taught me how to sing harmony. These are the songs that will forever make me feel like a kid, happy, safe with a world of possibilities ahead of me.

It was a nice feeling to hear them for the first time in probably 25 years. Nicer still that UMB remembers the songs from his childhood too.

Enjoy!

Tulsa Time – Don Williams
[audio:TulsaTime.mp3]

I Believe in You – Don Williams
[audio:IBelieveInYou.mp3]

Feb 26

Having a bla.st

My Bla.st card.

Thanks to John Chow for his tipping me off to the newest web directory over at http://bla.st/.

It’s an idea I wish I had come up with. The deal is you upload a business card graphic to the directory and then make a dollar amount bid to hang on to the number one position in your categories.

Hear that sound? That’s a cash cow being born.

I’ve uploaded my card already, and so far I’m the only card listed in the ‘gay’ category. We’ll see how long that lasts! Have a site you want to promote? Want to find new sites to browse? Check out bla.st.

Oh, and if you want some help designing a card for the site, drop me a line, I’ll work cheap.

Feb 23

Your Friday Diversion

I’m sure everyone knows by now that I’m an audiophile. (Meaning I am consumed by music.) I’m especially good with music from the 80’s.

I ran across this lyrics quiz last night that was pretty challenging. I still managed to get a score of 176.

What is your score?

Feb 22

Where I’ve Been

There’s a cool site I ran across yesterday, World 66. You can generate maps showing what states you’ve been in and countries you’ve visited. Here are mine:


create your own personalized map of the USA


create your own visited country map
or write about it on the open travel guide

Looks like I’ve got some traveling to do.

Feb 21

A Word of Caution

In my efforts to create the “rear-ended” bumper sticker from my last post, I also created another design that I thought was a little more “globally acceptable.”

I uploaded the image to CafePress to create the stickers, and almost immediately the image was flagged as being a “possible violation of the Content Usage Policy.” This meant that I could not create any products using the design. There was no indication that it was merely ‘pending review’ by any further CafePress team members. I was directed to read the “CUPS” and change my image accordingly.

Here’s the image in question:

Brake Bumpersticker

I immediately wrote the company requesting further information on what possible copyright I could be infringing.

I received the following response:

With regard to your pending image, we have set the image to pending status due to the use of the term “caution” in your design. In accordance with our Intellectual Property Rights Policy, the owner of the “Caution” trademark, has notified us that the use of the word “Caution” in product titles, product descriptions and/or in products potentially infringes upon the “Caution!” trademark.

Although we are not in agreement with all of the contentions, we are not in a position to evaluate the merits of an infringement claim made against you by a third party. In order to best protect ourselves from risk, we must take all allegations of infringement seriously and take action in removing the content from our site.

Accordingly, images which utilize the “Caution!” trademark have been set to “pending status” which disables said content from being displayed in your shop or purchased by the public. You may review the content set to pending status by logging into your CafePress.com account and clicking on the “Media Basket” link. The content set to pending status will be highlighted red.

If you believe that you hold the rights to the content alleged to infringe the rights of the third party, we encourage you to contact the alleged rights holder directly for a resolution to this matter. Below please find the contact information for the party bringing this allegation of infringement to our attention.

Caution Brand Apparel
P.O. Box 4802
Covina Ca 91723
legal@cautionwear.com

We apologize for any inconvenience that our actions may cause you. Please let us know if we can be of further assistance.

Now I don’t know about you, but I have a problem with the idea that the word “Caution” can be trademarked. You’ll notice that I have no exclamation mark on my image. If you go to the Cautionwear website, which by the way leaves a LOT to be desired, you’ll see these examples of their logos:

Caution 1

Caution 2

I’m not an expert, but I don’t see a similarity between their logo and mine. The only conclusion I can reach is that the WORD itself has now been trademarked. Here’s a screenshot of their site confirming this conclusion:

Caution Underwear page

If you haven’t already noticed, I’d like to point out the first product that is listed on this particular page:

Scratch and Sniff Underwear

So if you’re following along, you’ll see that the word “Caution” has been trademarked by a company that makes and sells “Scratch-and-Sniff Underwear.”

If anything ever needed a caution sticker, it would be scratch-and-sniff underwear.

So in the spirit of commercialism and profiteering, I’d like to offer the following list of words that I wish to declare my own registered trademarks:

  • Danger
  • Bigot
  • Gay
  • Sex
  • Ahead
  • Any
  • One
  • Notice
  • The
  • First
  • Four
  • Words
  • Made
  • A
  • Funny?

Make your checks payable to Paul Harris. I also accept Paypal.

Oh, and in the spirit of non-infringement, I altered the bumper sticker design. Get yours now at my CafePress store.

Brake Bumpersticker

Feb 21

Dear White Hyundai Accent Driver

Hi,

You don’t know me. I’m sure you didn’t notice me driving behind you on I-80 earlier this evening. I normally wouldn’t have looked twice at your Buy One Get One Free vehicle, but you had what appeared to be a Human Rights Campaign sticker on the back bumper.

I love living in the bay area where people can freely drive around with gay pride stickers on their car. It’s not uncommon to see rainbow stickers, bear flags, leather daddy flags, and other homo-friendly sentiments displayed conspicuously on everything from cute little Volkswagens to gigantic SUV’s and Hummers. In fact, my silver Toyota Matrix has a rainbow antenna ball.

I’m not sure why we do this, maybe to feel like we’re part of a club. We pull up next to each other at stop signs and wave at each other, or more often than not do that “cool man head nod.” Of course there’s always the hope that we all secretly harbor that we’ll pull up next to a marked car and the single guy of our dreams will be driving. He’ll look over and our eyes will meet and our souls will be instantly connected and from that point on we can use the carpool lane with our dogs in the backseat of our hybrid. It could happen, right?

So you can imagine my dismay as I got closer to your car I got a better look at the bumper sticker on your car:

Awful Gay = Pervert Bumpersticker

It was joined by other stickers that shared other nuggets of wisdom such as “I’m Pro-Woman, Pro-Life” and “The TRUTH is out there.” All of the stickers directed me to view a website for more information.

I spent the rest of the evening steaming about the fact that you have taken the symbol of a very worthwhile organization and turned it into something vile and acidic.

I can appreciate your right to free speech. I can appreciate that you have opinions and feel strongly about them. That doesn’t however change my desire to shake you until your eyes pop out.

I got home not long ago and decided to look up the website you were advertising, truthusa.org.

It’s the “Official Educational Headquarters of Dr. Don J. Grundmann for President.” Man, you’re a nut case! It’s bad enough that you make no distinction whatsoever between a child molester and a gay man:

Despite any and all objections it can be easily demonstrated that one of the goals of the homosexual movement is to normalize child molestation; i.e; to make it a everyday occurrence which has not only no criminal penalties attached but is actually celebrated, endorsed, encouraged, and cultivated.

but you also have rather… umm… interesting ideas on other issues. Here are some of my favorite coo-coo moments from your site:

If you are An American working in America, there is no law which requires you to either file a tax return or to pay income tax.

The facts of the autopsy show, conclusively and without doubt, that Sirhan Sirhan COULD NOT HAVE BEEN THE KILLER OF ROBERT KENNEDY!!

The organization known as Planned Parenthood, being founded upon the principles of Social Darwinism and by known supporters of Social Darwinism and its most egregious and outrageous attacks against humanity, must be totally eliminated from all government funding of any type, circumstance, or possibility in all venues inclusive of national, state, and local considerations.

I must give you some credit for actually making a page that clearly states your positions on issues (something I think every candidate should be forced to do). Your positions are completely unpredictable… you are pro-gun and pro-life, but also pro-alternative power and inexplicably you think global warming is a hoax. You want to abolish the IRS and our entire economic system and think that vaccinations for children are dangerous.

Now I’m wishing I had just followed my first instinct to just slam my car into yours. Then I’d be able to put a bumper sticker on my car proclaiming, “This fag rear-ended a bigot.”

In conclusion, I just wanted to write you this note to let you know that I will be unable to offer you a position as my running mate in 2012.

I hope you understand.