Monday, April 30, 2007

American Idol/Top 6: In The Spirit of Sally Struthers.

Last week's theme was "Idol Gives Back" and the Idols were supposed to sing feel-good songs that would inspire us to give back to those less fortunate. Last week's other theme was recovering in the aftermath of Hair-i-cane Sanjaya and to show us that the Idol can go on.

In truth, last week's show was another boring episode of the Idols trying to inspire us to good and Simon and Ryan traipsing around poor neighborhoods in Africa, which I guess is one big borderless entity, since the show failed to mention any of the countries they were in. Chris started off with "Change the World," which is one of my most favorite songs ever. I guess he and Simon kissed and made up after the big nasal debate because Simon was all about Chris's performance, calling it "sexy" and "soulful." I thought it was pretty good, and he got my vote, although I kind of wished I had voted for Melinda instead.

I think Melinda is finally coming to her senses and actually picking songs from the last 15 years as opposed to the last 30 years. She sang a Faith Hill song ("There Will Come A Day") and is starting to live up to her diva-dom, especially after Simon told her last week to cut it out with the "surprised" look. Lakisha, on the other hand, seems to heading for a train wreck. She belted another stupid song ("I Believe") that Fantasia only improved somewhat when she sang it by giving it the ghetto scary-Fantasia treatment.

Blake was ok. He shouldn't have sung "Imagine". Really, that song is more famous for the identity of it's singer. Blake's performance was sincere, but that song should be most notable for being one of the most boring ones ever written. Phil and Jordin were pretty boring too, only being memorable for Jordin again being so good that she makes herself cry.

My votes:

Best Performance: Melinda Doolittle. I voted for Chris, but I was biased because I love that song so much that Chris sang. In retrospect, I should have voted for Melinda.

Worst Performance: Lakisha. Doesn't she realize that the none of the former Idols' songs are really any good?

Most Improved: Jordin Sparks. Because Randy called her performance one of the best vocals in Idol History. A sentiment, I HIGHLY disagree with. Jordin's performance really did not resonate with me at all.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

I'm Like A Little Schoolgirl With A Crush

I've been talking with this guy for a little bit, which is kind of exciting for me since I haven't had anyone new of interest ever since the cheese store guy, who I assume has gone off to live in a house made of cheese. Anyway, my new guy's got impressive credentials--good job, cute, and he's British! I've never dated anyone with an accent. Of course, to him, I'm the one with the accent.

So far we're just friends, and to that end, I think about him more than I probably should. But I'm trying to maintain level-set expectations in my head and not get too ahead of myself. And to his credit he seems to feel something a little extra for me too. But sometimes I'm not sure of that either.

So I need to figure out how to seduce him further. Here are some avenues of approaching this that I've been tossing around in my head to move us closer:

) Make him feel included in my life in a special way.

e.g., Invite him to a special event. Like ask him, "Hey, do you wanna go rob a bank with me?" Because there's nothing more intimate than committing a crime together. That's a true special bond.

2) Give him a nickname. Something cute or smart-ass, because the Brits do have an odd sense of humor.

My suggestions:

  • "Hey, dogface"
  • "Hey, smacks"
  • "Hey, big shot"
  • "Hey, smoothie"
  • "Hey, fake accent guy"
  • "Hey, hot stuff"
  • "Hey, bumbly"
  • "Hey, whistles while you work"
And the possibilities are endless.

3) Be direct and pour all my emotions out. Deal the cards.

e.g., I could send him an email and open with, "I need to tell you about all the little habits you have that annoy me so much." Now if you got that from me, wouldn't you feel close to me? Because of all the people who could be annoying me, it's you! And annoying me so much that I had to lay out all the reasons out there because I felt it was important you understood why.

4) Be witty.

Now I do think I have some natural skill with this since I got the blog and all with a somewhat loyal (but finicky fan base). So I must be doing something right. I was thinking I could do some pun or wordplay, like maybe "Hey, wanna intercourse through some books?" I could play to his overall British scholarly tendencies, and show him that I'm an American who actually reads. But also it would serve the purpose of suggesting perhaps a more fun activity.

5) Say something completely random.

e.g., "Amedeo Modigliani"

Now I just pulled those two words out of my ass in the spirit of Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, who said that a strong and memorable name is the key to a successful start-up. The above two words form the name of an Italian artist, whose name I think just floooooows so nicely. I could say those two words all day. If I sent that to my British friend, of course, he would have no idea what I was talking about, but I bet he'd remember me better (maybe not in a complimentary way though.)

6) Show some concern in his life.

e.g., "You know it would really suck if your plane crashed over the Atlantic on your trip back to London."

This shows three things: a) I'm concerned about his health and welfare; b) I'd be really sad if anything happened to him; and c) I'm thinking about the future, so I'm ready to make a commitment.

7) Tell him that he looks like a celebrity.

Being British and all, I could tell him that he looks like David Beckham or Daniel Craig. But that's probably aiming a little too high, and he would never believe it. So I gotta aim lower, like maybe say, "Hey, you really remind me of that dude from Chariots of Fire." Then he'd be like, "Oh yeah? I remember him. What's his name? I bet he's a knight now. Anyway, I'm so flattered."

And that's some lame advice from me. If anyone actually takes these seriously, let me know how they work out.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Germans Must Love Me

I seem to not be able to escape the Germans. A company is interested in sending me to Munich for five months, all expenses paid. It's tempting if not only for the fact that all my meals will be covered in addition to my lodging. But the job itself is boring and is pretty much the same as what I used to do, so there isn't much career advancement for me. Still, five months will go by fast, and who knows when a chance like this will come up again.

I'll sleep on it. I should be asleep anyway.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

American Idol/Top 7: I'm A Little Bit Country

Martina McBride is on hand this week to guide the Idols. My knowledge of country music is limited at best, evidenced by the fact that I thought Martina McBride was a classical singer in the same vein as Sarah Brightman or Josh Groban. Little did I know that she was this mega country star who had about as much going on in her head as a carrot.

Phil Stacey kicked things off singing "Where The Blacktop Ends" by Keith Urban, my favorite country music artist (see my Live 8 Review). I have to join Randy in the "Who the hell knew?" clamor and say that I was pretty impressed. Phil sounded great and didn't creep me out like he usually does. But then after he finished, he went on and on about how Country is his music, and he was really in his element. Well, I thought this was a load of crap. If that were really the case, how come Phil has made no hint of this in the first 10 weeks?

Jordin came out next to sing a Martina McBride song ("Broken Wing"). Martina went off and told us that it's hard for someone to sing a song in front of the artist who performed it. Well after Jordin's performance, I think it's Martina who should be scared. Jordin was great. She didn't really sing it Country and could have used a mic stand, but she was my best performance of the night.

With a couple of exceptions, it all went downhill from there. Sanjaya sauntered out to talk-sing his way again through another song. The whole performance garnered cringes from even the background singers, one of whom was sporting a Gap RED tshirt that I have too! I'm lame enough to get excited about that.

Lakisha showed perhaps a lack of versatility with her performance of "Jesus Take The Wheel", which is a really dumb song anyway. Last year, Mandisa bombed on Country night (although I didn't think Mandisa was that bad), providing the latest evidence that "Big Black Girls should not sing Country." While singing the Carrie Underwood hit, Lakisha sounded shrill and probably broke every glass in the building. Too bad for her.

I would have thought that Chris Richardson's voice would have been well suited to Country, but he sounded whiny and teeny. Then in an awkward and rather pathetic attempt to parry Simon's criticism, he informed him and the rest of us that "Nasal is a style." I have two things to ask Chris R. now, do you mean you did this on purpose that night and the fact that you have sung this way every single other freaking week was not intentional? Second, listening to a cat screeching while being smacked against a wall is a style too. Doesn't mean I want to listen to it. Chris R. lost a lot of points with me that night.

Melinda brought up the score by singing with some major honky-tonk like a proud black woman in some funky church. Who knew she could do country too?

Finally, Blake arrived on the stage and sang a song that I never knew was Country since Bono, the Corrs and Tyler Hilton have all covered this song. Oh well. That was pretty smart of Blake. Too bad he sounded completely weak and off-key. And he also had this weird gaze into the camera--like he was looking into the camera, but not really looking; almost as if eyes were focused on some other point behind the camera. It was kind of bizarre.

My votes:

Best Performance: Jordin Sparks. Simon told her he can finally see her winning the whole thing. I agree.

Worst Performance: Sanjaya. Who else?

Most Improved. Melinda Doolittle. Melinda had really been boring me because her performances were almost too perfect, and she also sang songs that grandparents would like. Finally she pushed the buttons for more sass this week.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

We Never Had A Chance To Say Goodbye

After my stint at the courthouse on Monday, I was instructed to call a number at the courthouse at 5PM the next day for further instructions. This is all so secret agent. Anyway, Tuesday, I called and was told that my "services would not be needed" and to call back Wednesday.

Today at 5, I called the number. The recording told me that my "jury service is over."

It hurt.

I couldn't bring myself to accept it. I actually called again to make sure I had heard the message right. I couldn't believe it was over. Just like that. Had I changed? With Summer coming up, I really wanted a distraction. I let my guard down and "poof!" It was all gone.

I guess they found somebody else.

Oh well. The jury folks don't have to worry about me. I'll be fine. I just need some time.

More Site News: Somewhat New Look

I've had a few battles with HTML. I've been wanting to change my template forever. Even the mommy blogs out there have better looks than mine.

When I first tackled the HTML beast last year, it proved to be a horrendous decision. I had never spent so much time on something so impossible ever since I tried to go digging for oil in my back yard when I was 9.

I really thought I was going to have to resort to having a tutor be like "Ok, move your cursor there. No, wait. You lost it. Are you retarded? This isn't hard." But like many others have commented, and in my typically late "living under a rock" way of discovering the conveniences of life, the new blogger software makes adjusting the template oh so easy.

So I think I picked some pretty good colors, and I've cleaned up my sidebar a bit, so that everything has the same margins and it doesn't look like so amateur anymore.

I think the world is a better place now.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Oily Fun

A few nights ago, I dropped an entire bottle of toasted sesame oil. OMG. I would not wish cleaning up an oil spill on my worst enemy. First, the bottle fell out of my cabinet while I was reaching for a can of tuna behind it. Then it plopped on to my counter, rolled off and broke on to the floor in between my counter and my stove. Great, now the oil was spreading underneath my fucking stove.

I picked up the bottle and immediately it slipped out of my hand and fell on to the floor again, shattering the bottle further into millions of microscopic little pieces.

Let me tell you, this was a HUGE, all-caps HUGE in fact, pain to clean up. Pushing the stove away from the wall is major work and a little scary. I think I got it all but if you smell toasted sesame oil in my building hallway, you know where to go.

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Best Part Of Today Was That I Finally Satisfied My Dim Sum Fix

I woke up at 7:30AM today. Normally, I hit the snooze button and sleep for another thirty minutes, but today, I sat up rimrod straight. It's Jury Duty Day! I immediately regretted staying up so late getting those pictures for my last American Idol post. I was a little panicky because I had to be at the courthouse at 8:30. I rushed through my shower and hair routine, and then faced a minor crisis when I was trying to decide what to wear. Have you ever looked in your closet and thought, "Shit, I have NOTHING to wear."? Now in my case, this is a gross overstatement, considering that I have a literal walk-in closet (yes, you can spin around in it, if you want) of clothes. But for some reason, nothing popped out to me and I made a mental note to make a pilgrimage to Barneys sometime soon. At first, I grabbed a sweater but it looked "pouchy" to me which is a direct result of my recent lack of gym discipline. Then I went back in and got a dress shirt with vertical stripes and some black wool slacks, since they're slimming and all that. What Not To Wear would be proud of me.

I headed off in the Noah's Ark weather, whistling cheerfully. When I got to the subway station, I was reminded what the concept of "morning rush hour" means. Seeing as how I almost never take the subway before 9AM on weekdays, I was not used to the mass throngs of people huddling like refugees at the 72nd street stop. And then the pushing and shoving! Ohhhh, the pushing and shoving!

On the way there, I had to transfer to TWO trains. I hate going down to the Lower East Side. It's such a hassle from my neighborhood. Also, the 4/5 is the worst train in terms of crowd control since that is the only train for the poor East siders. After an angry businesswoman shoved me into someone else, I almost decided to skip jury duty and leave New York and never come back.

Thanks to my speediness and general awesomeness, I made it to the Jury Assembly Room at 8:30 on the dot. I immediately realized that this was not the same room I was in last time I did jury duty. It seemed bigger and a tad nicer. It didn't occur to me until much later when I was in an actual courtroom, and the judge spelled it out for me that this time around I had graduated to the Federal Courts from my State Court apprenticeship.

At around 10, the clerk turned on the video, and we watched Ms. Cindy DiBiasi and her fellow "actors," showcase the latest in 80s fashions while telling us all about the virtues of jury duty. I've already seen this video, so nothing much is captivating me. I turned to scanning the room, but all my hopes of a courthouse romance are immediately dashed. It's hard to believe that some of these people are my "peers."

After the video, the clerk collected our summonses and read some more instructions. One line caught my attention: "If you are not a U.S. citizen, you cannot serve jury duty. Please go to the courthouse at 60 Centre Street, Room 139." Um, yeah, like an illegal alien is gonna go turn himself in by telling them, "I was just at jury duty, and they told me to come here because I'm not a legal citizen. Oh and can I get one of those visas?"

Random public service announcement from TCho: the WIFI network that is advertised on the District Court website does NOT work in the Jury Assembly Room, where unfortunately I spent the bulk of my time today. Actually, when the clerk called the first list of names right after the video, I was on it! Woo-hoo! I won! We all lined up and went up to the courtroom. We sat down and then the judge started to tell us, "This will be a short trial. It'll probably be over by the end of this week." Whoa, this judge was smart. He was actually selling us his trial because if you didn't get picked, you would have to go back and you might get picked for a longer trial. It's actually fairly easy to get out of jury duty during the questioning. All you have to say is, "My car got stolen a couple years ago, and I think all car thieves should burn in hell." But I have nothing that exciting in my life, plus with this judge's sales pitch, there was no way I was gonna miss out on this trial.

Well, alas I didn't get picked from the raffle (the courtroom clerk has a spinning wheel where she selects names like Jury Bingo.)

I got sent back to the Assembly Room and couldn't help but be disappointed. But when I got back, our lunch break had started. Yay! The best thing about jury duty in Manhattan is the proximity of Chinatown near the courthouses despite my feelings about that neighborhood. And I have had this major dim sum craving for the past few weeks.

When I returned, I just read for the rest of the afternoon. I was a bit on edge because I had no contact with the outside world since cell phones and blackberrys are not allowed in the Federal Courthouse (they are in State). But I tried to make the time go by quickly.

At 4PM, I got to leave. I have the day off tomorrow, but I'll be back being a model citizen on Wednesday. Cross your fingers that I get on a trial!

I guess I'm supposed to be the Asian kid in the front row.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

It's Like Sleeping On The Night Before Christmas

I should be asleep, but I am on pins and needles because tomorrow I have jury duty! Geez, it's like this blog just writes itself because now I get to write about jury duty again. Anyhow, I have to be at the courthouse by 8:30 AM which is 90 minutes before I show up for work, so I better get to sleep soon. But then again, I could probably skip the video they show, since I know I am a naturally gifted juror. Honestly, instead of that boring video, they should just show episodes of Law & Order.

Stay tuned! After all, the only thing more fun about jury duty is reading about someone else's jury duty.

Us on break.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

American Idol/Top 8: Latin Flava

This week's Latin theme is ambassadored by Jennifer Lopez. Even though Latin music is so 8 years ago, I was still curious to see how the contestants would do because I thought it would be a stretch for all of them. Thank god that J. Lo. was there to teach everyone all she knew about a subject on which her last name and her marriage to a really weird-looking guy make her an authority.

First up was Melinda who sang "Sway", which has also been sung by that horny, drunk creep Michael Buble who slurred his way through some stupid song last week. Every week, my idololization of Melinda goes down the tubes even more. I think my latest thing is her increasingly irritating mannerisms. At least Mindy-doo knew what the problem was. She told the camera, "I'm so not sexy." I hate to say it, but yeah, Mindy, you're right. To her, being sexy means hunching up her shoulders up to her ears and squinting her eyes like she's trying to read a book with small type.

Lakisha came next, singing a song ("Conga") that I forever associate as Hank Azaria's favorite song to high kick to with a broom as the houseboy in The Birdcage. OMG. How funny was Agador and his accent and his super-short shorts? Anyhow, I digress. Lakisha was ok. I liked the first five seconds of her performance, and that was about it. The rest of it was bland and kind of reminded us all that that song is way past its sell-by date.

Chris Richardson and J. Lo. provided the funniest moment throughout the entire night. I was dying when J. Lo. goes "It's 'muñeqita' with a 'y.' Cause you don't want all the Latinos out there going 'It's MOON-YA-KEE-TA!'" Chris sang "Smooth" which I think Santana will keep on playing until the end of time. When it came time to sing it, Chris still messed up "muñeqita" and flubbed the lyrics for the third week in a row, but despite a slightly too-low start, he ended the song pretty respectably.

Haley and Phil by now are best known for their appearance in two polar opposite ways. Haley's shorts keep getting shorter and shorter and her performance of the very unlatin-sounding "Turn The Beat Around" got more and more manic as the song progressed. J. Lo. warned us that "Turn The Beat Around" is a hard song to sing, but then again I think "Happy Birthday" might be a hard song for J. Lo. to sing.

Phil, on the other hand, will never escape his alien looks. But Phil, I'm sorry, those stupid hippie hats don't help. Leave the hats to Blake who can pull them off as well as pull off a semi-Latin vibe by singing another stupid song, "I Need To Know" by J. Lo's weird looking husband (seriously, why do the Idol contestants pick the most coma-inducing, overplayed and insipid songs ever?) Blake sounded okay, not great though; almost completely in-tune.

Jordin was ok too. She chose another Gloria Estefan standard ("Rhythm is Going To Get You") and, to me, made the song sound older than the song actually is. I wasn't that impressed. But I did like her side ponytail and that kind of funky top she was wearing.

Finally, Sanjaya pops up looking like a Jheri-curled Mexican pimp. I have to digress again and state unequivocally that Jheri curl has got to be the nastiest hair product ever created. Why the hell did any guy put that crap in his hair? Anyway, Sanjaya has really learned to play to the camera providing us with some lascivious looks into the camera. I hate to say it, he didn't sound terrible. It wasn't a "wow" performance, but it wasn't bad.

My votes:

Best Performance: Chris Richardson. I think mainly because he sang a song that I at least halfway like.

Worst Performance: Phil Stacey. His voice was cracking as if Kermit the Frog were dying a slow death.

Most Improved: Jordin Sparks. If only because this time I actually remember what she sang because I sure don't remember what she sang during Tony Bennett week.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

I Promise This Will Be My Last Post About That Job, Not That I'm Obsessing Or Anything

I met a headhunter the other day who had actually also been working on placing someone for that job I was so disappointed to not get. She told me that I was the first and only person the company was interviewing and actually she thought that the job was pretty much spoken for because the company kept expressing that they found someone good.

Apparently, after I got cut, the company started sending a new job description to recruiters with different requirements. The position was already a new position, and so some fluidity is expected. And I'm guessing that after probing my experiences and skill set and knowledge base, they figured out more of what they wanted.

Not that I'm pissed or surprised. I guess I'm just glad i could help. Picture me with rolling eyes.

P.S., I'm really not bitter or pissed. I've moved on, seriously. But thanks to everyone for the well wishes. I promise my blog will return to the more witty banter that it's known for.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Elevator Karma

Everybody gets in elevators with total strangers. For the most part, you don't notice anyone else and most people take great care to avoid meeting eyes because that's just part of elevator etiquette. Being touchy-feely isn't really in vogue on the elevator.

A few years ago, I was in Vancouver for a couple days before heading off to Whistler for some skiing. I was staying in the tallest building in Vancouver at a period in my life when I was a Starwood whore (now I'm a Hyatt man - more to come in a later blog post). I was staying on the 29th floor. But the elevators at this hotel were like Star Trek teletransporters because there were that fast.

This is good because I can be somewhat (ok, a lot) impatient waiting for and riding elevators. Usually I just want to get up or down wherever I'm going as quickly as possible. A lot of people hold elevators. I never hold elevators because when others do it, it ANNOYS THE SHIT OUT OF ME. These narcissists hold out their arm while I'm waiting inside as if I have nothing better to do than wait for their slow ass friend to take his sweet time to get to the elevator, while smoke is coming out of my ears. Then the friend arrives and doesn't even realize that he's kept the rest of us waiting because he and his friend were convinced that this was the last possible elevator ride of the day and no more would be coming.

I try to show by example, meaning when I approach an elevator bank, I don't scream "Hold it!" because I, unlike others, do not have a manic disregard for the lives of others. I wait, damn it.

Anyway, one day when I came back to my hotel after walking around Vancouver, I pressed the button and waited. The elevator arrived, and I got on and pressed the "Door Close" button almost immediately. Right before the doors closed, an arm slipped through. The doors opened and in came this guy in a suit and sunglasses. I gave out this big huff (huff!) and sneered at him. Who the hell are we waiting for?

Finally, our guest of honor arrived. Normally, I wouldn't give a second glance because my glare gives a pretty clear message that you would gather in about two seconds: "No. I am not happy to have waited for your sorry ass while you held all of us up because you're too lazy to wait for the next one."

But this time, I couldn't help but stare because this guy was wearing bright red and gold sheets. OMG. Is that the Dalai Lama?!?! I looked again, and wondered, is my hotel that nice that the Dalai Lama would be staying there? And what is he doing there?

The doors closed and our ride began. I was standing in the back, totally immoble. I felt like I was in a holy vessel and kind of hitchhiked a ride to heaven.

As I said, the elevators there are very fast, and pretty soon we arrived at my floor. I get off, and the Dalai Lama says "Have a nice day." I wanted to pull a George Costanza and start blubbering, "Listen, I hope you didn't think I was glaring at you. I love Tibetans and I love red and gold. Where'd you get those sheets in fact? I really wasn't glaring. I was just staring into space and that's my look of deep thought. I love sharing elevators! Free Tibet!"

But I just turned around and smiled and then left. I got back inside my room and turned on the TV and whaddya know, there was a local news reporter in front of my hotel talking about the Dalai Lama and his visit.

Well, I hope any tension was diffused during my moment with his holiness. But I'm sorry, Mr. Lama, I still don't hold elevators for anybody. I'll probably come back in my next life as an elevator man.

Monday, April 09, 2007

I Don't Need To Learn German Anytime Soon

The HR person just called me about that job. It's a job at a German company. Anyway, in short, I didn't get it. They want someone with 2-3 years more experience.

Let's all let out one big collective SIGH.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

American Idol Top 9: Swing, Swing, Swing

I'm not gonna even really bother with a full review of Idol because Tony Bennett week was so boring. It sounded like one long lounge act. So I'll just get to my votes and hopefully I'll have a more interesting topic tomorrow.

My votes:

Best Performance: Chris Richardson. He didn't sound as shrill and nasal as he sometimes has.

Worst Performance: Phil Stacey. If I had to use the word "pitchy", I'd use it here.

Most Improved: Sanjaya Malakar. This was a hard one. Gina did a good job, but she shouldn't have sung a ballad two weeks in a row. Haley was still like a piano act at the Carlyle. Blake really bored me as he tried too hard to inject some swing into "Mack the Knife." Lakisha, Melinda and Jordin were good as always, but didn't blow me away. I'll give most improved though to Sanjaya, NOT that he improved in a good way. He still deserves to go. But I will give him credit for now becoming absolutely cocky and smug about his personality to mask his horrible talk-singing. So grudgingly, I give Most Improved to Sanjaya for his stage presence.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

If All Goes Well I'll Be Heading Off To Greener Pastures

On Monday, I had my second interview for this job I really like. I really hope I get this job. I don't want to reveal what type of place it is because I don't want the cosmic employment gods to jinx my chances. But hopefully soon, I'll be packing up and moving on to the land of in-house nirvana.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

American Idol Top 10: The Idols Sing Pop Music, Well Gwen Stefani's Pop Music

Didn't have much time to blog last week due to my mini-vacation, and it's already Tuesday today, which means another new week of American Idol!

So I'll cut to the chase on my review of last week. Last week was kind of boring anyway. We learned a little about what type of music influences Gwen Stefani as she imposed her musical tastes upon the contestants. Lakisha and Melinda had a Donna Summer duel. I think Melinda won, but I don't think either was enough of a departure from their smoldering, adult contemporary black diva music that they've been beating us to death with.

Phil sang "Every Breath You Take" the same way that he sang "Missing You" a few weeks earlier--kind of mumbly and inaudible during the regular lyrics, but then really sang out on the chorus. The judges commented that he really goes for it on the chorus. If that's where he's strongest, maybe someone should tell him that he should be shooting for backup singer instead of our Idol.

Chris Sligh also chose a song by The Police and sucked. I don't know if I could really tell that much that he was off the beat, like the judges said, but he was just so out of tune, and his voice sounded like it was on the verge of cracking. I was wondering if maybe Chris Sligh has a better recording voice rather than a live performance voice.

Blake sang a song I hate (The Cure's "Love Song"), and I don't know what the judges were really praising him about. On the other hand, I thought Haley was pretty good on a song that's been sung over and over again at weddings and graduations all over the country. I still get a "I paid you $500 to sing on my cruise ship" vibe from her, but I didn't think she was that bad.

Gina sang The Pretenders's, "I'll Stand By You" and by far gave the most commanding performance that she's ever given. I wouldn't say it would go in the all-time Idol performances, but it was the best of the night and got my vote.

Finally, Jordin, Chris R. and Sanjaya all chose to sing No Doubt/Gwen Stefani songs. All were average to below average. Sanjaya came out with a pony-hawk and got more attention for that than his throaty performance of "Bathwater." My take on the Sanjaya crisis--he can carry a tune, and that's about it. But he just needs to go because if he wins the whole thing, I think the country will go into mass riots. Jordin and Chris R.'s performances weren't working for me, and I think I fast forwarded through them, so you can tell how much I was paying attention.

My votes:

Best Performance: Gina. I think she needs to play up the rocker attitude even more.

Worst Performance: Chris Sligh. When did he become such an unfunny and unwitty pill? He really lost it, when his humor was supposed to be his saving grace.

Most Improved: Lakisha. If only because she at least didn't sound like Eartha Kitt anymore.