Sunday, January 30, 2011

"Who Stepped On A Cat?"

It’s that time of year again!  A wondrous time that brings our country together.  Where armchair quarterbacks are free to judge those who have chosen to attempt to excel at their sport and live the American dream.  No, I’m not talking about the Super Bowl.  Of course I am referring to Season 10 of American Idol!

Hundreds of thousands of dreaming teenagers and “twenty-somethings” travel for hours, sometimes days, to stand in never-ending lines awaiting their turn to showcase their talents in a 3 minute audition in front of a panel of judges and the millions watching at home.  A small percentage of these hopefuls will receive their Golden Ticket but only one will make it to Wonka’s Big Dance!  (Wait, wrong show!)  As for the rest, they will be sent home, most immediately, to wonder how Randy, Jennifer and Stephen could not have seen the superstar within.  I will now bestow upon those that did not advance the magical key to unlock this mystery so that they may be forever free from this quandary…

Close your eyes and listen to yourself when they air your segment on T.V.  This is what the judges and the rest of America heard when you sang your un-intelligible rendition of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” in the key of G-U-Suck!

It causes me to ask what, exactly, are these people hearing when they sing?  In 9 prior seasons of the show’s broadcast, have they not seen the caliber of the people who belt their way to the finals?   Did the kid who sang Sinatra’s “I Did it My Way” not realize that if Old Blue Eyes was still alive today he would have  been more than willing to sip on a cyanide martini while sitting in a closed garage with his 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham still running?  Did the girl who sounded like two dolphins mating not realize that she was causing internal head bleeds of those within 15 ft.?  They didn’t come close to comparing to the likes of Sanjaya, let alone someone with talent like Carrie Underwood or Chris Daughtry.  Yet, each year these "train-wrecks" are my favorite part of the show.  This leads me to wonder; what do people hear when I sing?

There are days when the house is empty and I perform a one-man concert in the shower at the top of my lungs (most times with 2 or more encores).  What if a neighbor was to walk by and hear the show?  Would they hear what I hear; a voice as powerful as Chris Robinson from the Black Crowes and as smooth as Mel Torme on a foggy day or would they say, “Why is that nice young man on the corner stomping on his cat’s head?”  

This can also spill over into the category of what we see.  Stylistic taste differs, that is for certain, but can Bjork really put on white, feathered covered dress with a wrap-around swan neck, equipped with a head and beak, and think, “Yeah, THAT’S THE ONE!!!”?  I guess it's man’s fashion is another man’s, well, meat dress.

I am literally giving myself a complex as there are so many layers of this rotten fruit to peel back.  In the end, we are all being judged on some level each time we encounter someone else.  It is a part of human nature, a part of thinking, and will be passed down for many generations to come.  Therefore, I say embrace the fact that we judge.  Judge passionately and often, learn from those who are being judged and take from each a lesson on life.  Judging is only a negative when used to demean someone else and a positive when used to better ourselves.  As I type this final sentence I am realizing that I, too, am about to be judged.

 “Who's judging American Idol? Paula Abdul? Paula Abdul judging a singing contest is like Christopher Reeve judging a dance contest!”

 ~Chris Rock

Monday, January 10, 2011

Own it or lose it!

Recently I was watching “Shrek the Third” with my two girls when I was unexpectedly provoked by one particular scene.  After a speech given by Arthur (Justin Timberlake), all of the “Villainous Fairy Tale Characters” drop their weapons and, one by one, each divulge a characteristic of themselves that no one else knows.  The headless Horseman has always wanted to play the flute, the Evil Queen wants to open a spa in the South of France and Captain Hook grows daffodils, “…and they’re beautiful.”  My question is, why did they wait until that very moment to reveal what their interests and passions were?  

Did Captain Hook think he would be ridiculed by Peter Pan (even though Peter was the one wearing tights)?  Did the family of the Headless Horseman not support his dream of playing the flute because he had no lips?  Did the Evil Queen lack the confidence to open up her own spa because she knew “Snow White’s Beauty Emporium and Hot Apple Cider” was the most popular shop in all the land?  I am absolutely certain it wasn’t because Justin Timberlake is just that great of a speaker (although my wife would argue this point until the end of days).  Whether it is due to embarrassment, a lack of confidence or the lack of support, there should be no reason to be ashamed of acting, feeling, thinking or believing a certain way. 

On the opposite end, why do I feel the need to provide a George Carlin Esque. commentary when I see someone do something that seems out of my comfort range.  Why must I poke fun at a buddy when he tells me he is the president of the local chapter of the Barry Manilow Fan Club?  (Good for you Manilow-maniac!)  When someone tells me they lay awake at night dreaming of becoming a Broadway singer, why must I laugh and knock them down a peg?  (Go for it Colm Wilkinson!)  If you saw your husband or wife eating a can of sardines straight out of the can, would you simply ignore it or would you feel compelled to say, “Oh my God, how can you eat that?  That is so nasty!  I’m not going to kiss you fish breath!”  (Not that it has happened to me!)  Why can’t we just accept people for who they are and feel comfortable owning who we are?

So here’s the deal friends; I have decided to do the unthinkable.  I will now reveal a list of semi-embarrassing things about myself that I have never told some of my best friends, let alone post on an unsecured public forum.  I will now unbury my face from the sand…liberation in 5,4,3,2,1…

1.      I know every word to “Air Supply’s Greatest Hits” (BOOM!)
2.       I tear up during the reveal of “Extreme Makeover Home Addition” (TAKE IT!)
3.       I have seen the movie “The Last Dragon” more than 50 times (OK, THAT'S JUST WEIRD)
4.       My dream job is to be a FOOD CRITIC! (EAT IT)
5.       I took tap and ballet and a kid.  (THE ONLY DUDE IN MY CLASS!)
6.       I can sing every song to every Disney Princess movie ever made. (MY KIDS LOVE IT!)


7.       I am a NATURAL redhead!


If you feel like liberating yourself, post something in the comments section about yourself that not everyone may know.  OWN IT!


Monday, January 3, 2011

Ho, Ho, Hope you can crack a safe...!

The 2010 Christmas Season has said its final farewell.  Hundreds of fragile ornaments have been individually wrapped in their off-season flak jackets and buried in a shallow Rubbermaid grave, a football field’s worth of twinkling Christmas lights have been wound tight to form a Chinese torture puzzle to be solved next December and the Christmas tree is laying prone on the ground like a New Year’s home invasion suspect (for the record, it was an invited guest).  But through it all I learned one very important holiday lesson…Santa doesn’t want anyone jacking his loot!

With two little girls in the house, we were assured that Santa’s generosity would be bountiful.  What wasn’t in the fine print was that each toy, whether it be from F.A.O. Schwartz or the dollar store, would be bound tighter in its packaging than Zed’s basement house guest in Pulp Fiction.  For example...

“Toy Story 3 Barbie” is not an extravagant gift by any stretch of the imagination.  It cost roughly $16.00 and looked harmless enough; no batteries, no downloads and no assembly required.  WRONG!  This molded-plastic Odessian siren called me to her like a ship in the night.  (OK, it was my daughter repeating, “Will you open it dad?” until I could no longer take it!  Humor me!)  I was forced to use a serrated Rambo knife, complete with headband and compass, to penetrate the cryogenically frozen encasement.  Han Solo or Barbie?  Seriously! 

Once the “hull was breached”, this icon to so many young girls had the audacity to lay there motionless with a smug look on her face.  I’ve seen that look before on the last woman I dated before I met my wife.  It was the,“Nuh-uh, you’re gonna have to work for this,” look!  Both were dubiously correct.  

Barbie was lanced to the cardboard by an intricately woven pattern of elastic and twist-ties that would have made a Hopi Indian jealous.  10 minutes of slashing, cursing, pulling and more cursing and my fair maiden was finally free from the chains that bound her.  I was Prince Valiant who weathered the Crusade to present the toy to my little princess.  My daughter held out her hands, hugged Barbie like a lost puppy and looked at me like I was a hero.  With sweat running down my brow and pride welling up inside I watched her as she walked away, hand in hand with her Barbie.  15 seconds later I watched her lay Barbie down, grab her V-Reader and play a “Dora the Explorer” video game.

Wine never tasted so good!

Next year I fully expect to be given 2 keys that must be turned simultaneously, like arming a Nuke, just to open a tube of Lincoln logs.  Or perhaps a retinal scan will be needed to get the no-no words in Taboo.  My point is this Santa, stop being so paranoid!  You fly around in an open cabbed sleigh full of toys, unarmed in the middle of the night!  If that doesn’t make you paranoid you have obviously never visited the South East side!  If you had, your sleigh would look like a Brinks truck!  Next year, I hope that you focus less on loss prevention and more on allowing a dad to open a gift for his daughter without her hearing mommy say those 5 little words…“Ear muffs honey, ear muffs!”