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  • February 28, 2007

    Vital Idol – Welcome to the House of Bad Song Choice

    [Posted by ]

    PMW back in the saddle, all alone, without my Idol soldier, Kris. Luckily, fiancé has graciously agreed to sit through another show with me. True love! Speaking of true love, Shecrest is starting to dress like he has a serious man-crush on Dick Clark. On with the show:

    Gina Glocksen – This song goes out to her boyfriend Joe. And it’s “Alone” by Heart. Which is totally on a Monsters of Rock album somewhere, but also a duet, and she totally sounds like Kelly Clarkson. Powerful chorus, but the harmonies are pretty retched. And she looks a bit like a Mexican hooker, but I still like it, even though she’s kind of bitchy. I think she’ll keep bringing in the votes.

    Alaina Alexander – Girl done lost her fricking mind. Natalie Maines is a phenomenal singer, and she is not. Plus she’s broken a key ISCC, song sung by a group. If she’s lucky, boys have it on mute and will vote for her because she’s pretty. The arrangement was also terrible. Bad, bad, bad.

    Lakisha – This song goes out to Gramma in FLINT. Lakisha’s looking good tonight. Nice color shirt and good hair. She’s rocking “Midnight Train to Georgia,” but it’s a little boring. She really needs to investigate the top 40 soon. Damn, even the backup singers look bored.

    Melinda Doolittle – This song goes out to her vocal coach and her stylist (who should be killed.) Sounds great, but what’s with all the old shit? Has Idol tapped in to the coveted geriatric voter demographic without me knowing? Still, great sexytime with the camera and vocal acrobatics. And she doesn’t make voter number gang signs. Sweet.

    Barbarella – Looking cute in a Brady-inspired dress. Oh hell no, bitch thinks she can sing CELINE. I think she’s gone mental. And her mom looks crazy. Wow. Uninspired, boring and out of key. Please send her home.

    Jordin – Awwww, she’s so cute. I wish she was better than she is. I think this is an Xtina song. Wow, how sad and depressing and opposite of her personality. Nice bridge, but I still think she’s Grade A high school musical material.

    Stephanie Edwards – Interesting evening gown. Bad song choice, any other Beyonce choice would have been better. But it’s from the 00s, sing I’ll give her props. I really hope she sticks around longer than Barbarella and Alaina.

    Dogwalker – I really hate her face, style and image. And she’s decided to sing Nina Simone. I’m not sure if the dogs told her that it sounded good, but I think not. She is totally like a tough Chicago girl singing in a bar band, then going to work her shift at the Polish sausage shop (sorry, Kris). And she thinks she can scat. WTF? Fiance thinks she’s missing some chromosomes.

    Haley Scarnato – Very pretty, all-American girl. But like many women in the crew, she done lost her mind thinking she could sing a Whitney song. Before all the crack and Bobby Brown, Whitney was a fantastic singer. This girl is not. This is awful, I’m surprised the backup singers made it through this one without laughing.

    Sabrina Sloan – This song goes out to her soon-to-be deceased Gramma. I really like this song, her hair and face. Good energy, but she’s just not as good as Whitney. Still, she’s better than Scrubnato.

    Top 3 – Melinda, Lakisha, Gina
    Bottom 4 – Alaina, Barbarella, Haley, Leslie

    Posted by at 08:28 PM | Comments (8)     
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    February 27, 2007

    Vital Idol III – PMW vs. Kris (Kristofferson)

    [Posted by ]

    So we’re holed up in snowy Madison. What could be better than good friends, good wine and bad singing? The answer is nothing. That’s why PMW & I joined together in a historic convergence of Idol recappers. Enjoy.

    Phil Stacey – John Waite. Um, are you fucking kidding me. Kris likes the shirt, but his ears. Phil, your ears will be the death of you. Nice, even tone, but he sounds like a bitch, and I’m fairly certain most tweens have never heard of this song. And the bring it home note was off. Ick. Kris deems it terrible like John Waite on “Paper Dolls.” Although she still wishes he would have gotten together with Nicolette Sheriden. Le sigh.

    Jared Cotter AKA Sexual Chocolate – Cute suit! Bad shoes. Honey, Billy Joel called, he wants his casual singwear back. But you sound fantastic and move like a baler. Kris is bored, but me likey. Great tone, but the end was a bit rough and Kris thinks he pulled a finger-lickin Steven Tyler outro. I think he’s in the top 5 for sure and Paula is gonna bang him before show’s end for sure.

    Gay-J Tabaldo – Ick, men who wear sweater vests should be killed. He’s singing about feeling good, but nobody else is. He sucks, sucks, sucks. Unless pre-gay man teens are voting I think he’s out soon. Even my fiancé coined him the “gayest man in the world.”

    Sanjaya Garett – Superwack Michael Jackson. If he lasts this week, he really needs to sing something from this decade. Or the 90s. Lacks inspiration and originality, but Kris likes it anyway.

    Chris Sligh – This song goes out to his mormon boo. He chooses a Ray Lamontange song, which is a alt-radio hit. He reminds me of Sideshow Bob. Cheap suit, bad shirt, jewelry, hair. Nice voice, but he’s sucking all of the soul out of this song. I think if the Baby Jesus heard this, he would cry.

    Nick “Vote for” Pedro – Kris here. Nick dedicates the song to his “girlfriend”. PMW is too distracted by his manscaping to pay attention to the touching love story. Whoa? When did dudes start singing “Fever”? If I wasn’t so distracted by what he’s singing, I’d think that this isn’t that bad. Randy’s right, it’s full of smoky goodness. Simon’s right though, he lacks charisma. There’s something too soap operaish about him. He should be singing at Club Indigo on The Young & The Restless, not on Idol.

    Blake Lewis - The big question is whether Blake will beatbox. I think so since he’s singing some Jamiroquai song. Blake’s got moves and he’s beatboxing. (Correction – vocal entendres.) YAY! PMW thinks Blake can win the whole thing if he’d just “butch it up” a little bit. I disagree. I think he can win it just because he’s so damn cool. PMW’s fiancé agrees. But what does Simon think? He doesn’t think much, but I think this is the rare occasion when Simon offers constructive criticism. Of course, Randy, Paula and the crowd don’t know how to deal with this so they act like little brats and try to drown him out. Simon’s obnoxious, but he often speaks the truth.

    PMW vows to vote for whoever doesn’t make a number out of their fingers when Ryan plugs their number. Fiance points out that this means she’ll be voting for Sanjaya. Ha!

    Brandon Rogers – PMW back. This is a shout out to Gramma! Oh hell no. “Time After Time” is a deceptively difficult song to sing. There is a lot of room for vocal interpretation and err. Think about “True Colors.” Same thing, great, soulful song that people think is an easy out, but Cindi could really hit it in the studio. And if you aren’t Cindi Lauper, you really need to be on with the key and then go a step further and knock it out of the park. And he still needs a haircut.

    Chris Richmondson – Another Gramma shouty. Gramma rocks the banana clip. Hmmmm … “Pink Snake Mambo”? I don’t remember what he was singing and he looks like he was attacked by an Old Navy store with an electric razor. And he sounds exactly like JT. Meh. I liked Scott Savol better (editor's note - I believe you mean "Punkass"). Alas, I think unless some naked toilet photos come out, he’ll be around for a while.

    Sundance Head - Kris is in the house. So Sundance is married with a kid. I guess there’s hope for everyone. Hey, Sundance’s mom got laid to this song too! Excellent. You know what, I know “Vote for the Worst” is all over Sundance, but this isn’t nearly the worst performance of the night. He’s upbeat, energetic and fun. PMW hates him, but I think he was good. One of the better ones tonight.

    PMW’s top three: Jared, Blake & Chris Richardson
    Kris’ top three: Blake, Sligh & Timberlake

    PMW’s bottom two: Sundance, A.J.
    Kris’ bottom two: A.J., Phil

    Our boot predictions:

    PMW: Sanjaya & Phil
    Kris: A.J. & Nick

    By the way, the fiancé totally agrees with PMW. They should get married or something. Until tomorrow…

    Posted by at 08:32 PM | Comments (5)     
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    February 25, 2007

    Amazing Race All Stars Recap - Episode 2 - I Can't Drive 55 (or can I?)

    [Posted by ]

    Kevin & Drew were Philiminated tonight in Santiago, Chile mostly because they couldn't follow simple directions. If they had followed directions they would have realized that they were able to go above the 40 km/hr speed limit for much of the way to the Pit Stop. Reading is key important in the Amazing Race!

    Other highlights/lowlights of the episode:

    • Rob & Amber continue to dominate. It's too bad that Christie (of Colin & Christie) is supposedly pregnant, because a Rob & Amber vs. Colin & Christie showdown is what an All Star season should be. Throw in Zach and a 100 lb. weight and we'd have a classic!
    • Mirna & Charla have already shown what giant asshats they are. They find ways to offend other teams, random cab drivers and even each other (what was up with Mirna bitching at Charla when she needed to find a step stool to complete the Detour?). They are equal opportunity offenders.
    • Speaking of Charla, what's up with her hideous pink sweater? I know they've put Phil in some ugly tops over the years, but Charla's getup is ridiculous and frankly, it makes me dislike her even more.
    • Tonight's leg was poorly designed. Danny & Oswald and Rob & Amber took a risk by taking a faster flight with more connections. When one of the connections was delayed, they should have been screwed, but the Roadblock and subsequent flight bunched everyone back up so none of the 1st half of the leg mattered. I'm rooting for both of those teams, but still...bad moves should have serious consequences.
    • Oswald is sweetest man alive, isn't he? He might think he's a bitch for crying over the beauty of the Chilean landscape, but I just think he's one beautiful, gorgeous hunk of a sweetheart.

    Next week: scary fish!

    Posted by at 08:16 PM | Comments (1)     
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    February 22, 2007

    American Idol Results Recap - The First Cut is the Deepest

    [Posted by ]

    Princess Midwest is off drinking Captain & diets and trying on tiaras, so you've got me instead. You know, I feel like I'm watching a different show than people who don't know about Dial Idol or Vote for the Worst. The unspoiled masses are going to be in for a shock tonight.

    But first, we get a sneak preview of the season to come. Folks, it ain't pretty. Among the special guest stars:

    • Diana Ross - ho hum. The various Simons & Nigels that produce Idol do realize that music's been made in the last 10 years, right?
    • Jon Bon Jovi - okay, I'm fine with that, he's pretty
    • Jennifer Lopez - oh how hip and 2003 of Idol
    • Gwen Stefani - awesome, I've been wanting a Yodeling Night!
    • Tony Bennett - really? I didn't know Washington State's basketball coach could sing!
    • Martina McBride - I can't wait for another Country Night disaster
    • Herman's Hermits - it's British Invasion Night. No, I'm not kidding
    • Barry Gibb - okay, this not only completely excites me it also puts the "Barry Gibb Talk Show" theme in my head. That'll help over the next hour
      Here we are ... in a room full of strangers
      Discussin’ politics ... and the issues of the daaaa-aaaay
      Talkin’ it up
      On the Barry Gibb Talk Show
      Talkin’ ‘bout issues
      Talkin’ ‘bout real important issues
      Talkin’ it up
      On the Barry Gibb Talk Show
      Checkin’ out politics
      In this crazy, crazy to-own oh yeah!

    Medley time! It's "Sowing the Seeds of Love" by Tears for Fears. I love this song, but it's crushed under the weight of 24 desperate and mediocre talents. Somewhere out there my darlings Curt Smith and Roland Orzabal are crying. Well actually, they'd be shouting, wouldn't they? :-)

    The guys are up first and it's time to cull the herd. Who's safe? Brandon, Sundance (thanks VFTW!), Chris Richardson, Nick (who?) and Blake (duh).

    And Paul Kim is out. HA! That's what happens when you don't wear shoes, punk.

    Question - we vote these cats out, why do we have to hear them sing again? If we wanted to listen to them sing more, we would have voted for them, right? Idol should do away with the sing off and let the top vote getter have another performance. Reward the good singers, don't punish the audience.

    Time for the chicks. Safe: Jordin (damn straight!), Stephanie, Sabrina, Leslie (really?) & Melinda. Antonella is left on stage all alone with the judges' criticism. But of course she's not going home. Vote for the Worst strikes again, my friends. Instead, it's Amy Krebs' chance to sing a sad, sad song. Indeed Amy, you can't make us love you, if we don't.

    Fantasia's in the house singing "I'm Here". Not being a big Fantasia fan, I'm not.

    Again with the girls. Safe: Hayley, LaKisha & Gina. It's down to Nicole & Alaina. And Nicole Tranquillo is gone. How will the show go on without her? Where can we turn to for a weekly dose of Chaka Khan? A troubled nation needs answers.

    Three down, one to go. Who's going home? Not Chris Sligh, Phil (who looks kinda hot with a hat on, I must say), Jared, or A.J. That brings it down to cutie pie Sanjaya and Rudy. One is in the top four, the other is going home. In a completely unshocking event, Rudy Cardenas is going home. I'll miss him and his whole Scott Baioesque thing.

    And, in the biggest news of the evening, Daughtry's "Home" has replaced "Had a Bad Day" as the loser song. Way to go, Chris!

    Check back next week for more Vital Idol. In the meantime, check out all of our American Idol coverage. We've been doing this for years, people.

    Posted by at 07:58 PM | Comments (4)     
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    Sometimes America Likes a Thug

    [Posted by ]

    OK, I love Fantasia. But damn, what's with the crazy tit-tat sapphire ensemble? She'll be hitting Broadway starring in "The Color Purple" musical. I think it'll be the best thing since Ashlee Simpson starring in "Chicag-ho."

    Again, Fantasiatastic voice, but I think I'd rather hear J-Lo sing about taco flavored kisses. (This is clearly a shout out to "South Park" and not an attempt at racism.)

    Posted by at 07:41 PM | Comments (0)


    February 21, 2007

    Vital Idol - White Chicks

    [Posted by ]

    Tonight I watched the show live. I guess it turns out I’m quite mean in real time. Even meaner when I haven’t has a bellyful of Cajun food and copious amounts of wine. Plus, girls are dumb. On with the show:

    Stephanie Edwards – Bad hair. Nice cleavage. Great teeth. I like her tone. It’s nice and warm, but I’ve never heard of the song. As she drops to her knees to testify she draws in the crowd. But with her high church factor, she’ll need to do mix it up and do some contemporary hits ASAP.

    Amy Krebs – What is with all the jacked up skin? Just because Kelly Clarkson did a Pro-Active commercial, doesn’t mean you have to be a before-Pro-Active commercial. Other than that, she’s OK, not too pretty and definitely no style. And she looks like she shops at Wal-Mart. She tackles “I Can’t Make You Love Me” by Bonnie Raitt. She’s singing it in a higher country-type key and breaks in certain places, which can be cool, but not here. I don’t like it, and I think if she sings a song where she needs to show vocal range, she is waaaaaaaaaay out of it.

    Leslie Hunt - I’m only gonna say this once (OK, so maybe a hundred times throughout the competition). DO NOT TOUCH ARETHA, WHITE GIRL. DON’T DO IT. She is dead to me. And oh my God, are these boots back in style, or did she steal them out of my stripper friend’s closet? On a more positive note - nice legs, hair and dress.

    Sabrina Sloan – Wow. She’s lovely and distinctive looking with curly locks to boot. BUT SHE PICKED AN ARETHA SONG TOO. WTF, GIRL? I love, love, love this song and she sounds pretty good. But she’s not ARETHA and halfway through she got all Christina Aguilera on me. Nevertheless, she looks hot and has a good voice, very Mya; I think she’ll be around for while.

    Barbarella – Her and her buddy were such bitches during Hollywood Weak, I’m not sure what it’s gonna take for me to get behind her. And she kind of looks like Denise Richards, who is a heinous bitch. She’s also no Steven Tyler. I can best compare her to Diana LaGarmo. I think the Guidos and Guidas will like her and keep her around, but eventually they’ll realize she’s not that good and can’t sing with accompaniment.

    Jordin Sparks - Also really cute. But she looks retarded in the skirt/jeans outfit. And the song sucks and she sounds bad singing it. It’s very shrill and it’s making me cringe a bit. Her movements also look forced and Tracey Chapman is BORING. I don’t think there’s any way she can win this.

    Nicole Tranquillo – I’m feeling déjà vu. I’m only gonna say this once (or maybe a hundred times). OH NO YOU DIDN’T, WHITE VOICE MAJOR GIRL. WHO TOLD YOU YOU COULD ROCK LIKE CHAKA? PUT DOWN THE MIC. You are dead to me. She also makes really ugly faces and is very shiny. I think she’s going home very soon. From the looks of the crowd, everyone is too distracted by her shininess to realize she’s not very good.

    Hayley Scarnato – She’s very pretty and dresses a little slutty, I had high hopes for her. I could even ignore the fact that she’s wearing a sweetheart neckline with pants – until she opens her mouth. I will not by any means support someone who sings Celine Dion. It sounds like a bad high school musical. I think she’ll absolutely be in the bottom this week.

    Melinda Doolittle – She totally looks like Jackee Harry. She sounds fantastic, and can actually pull off an ARETHA song. Hear that, whitey? Stay away from ARETHA. I like her. But does the world really need another Fantasia? I think she breeze through the first few rounds while the sucky girls drop, but leave a la Kimberly Locke and J-Hud.

    Alaina Alexander – Meh. All style no substance.

    Gina Glocksen – She sounds good, but damn what a stupid song choice. I think she’s pulling off a Kelly Clarkson vibe, and will easily cruise to the top 5 with her pipes.

    LaKisha Jones – What can I say, she’s from Flint, Mich, where pets are meat. Great song choice, great voice. I’ll forgive the outfit because of the nice shoes. She is by far the best singer of anyone I’ve seen. Let’s hope her personality keeps the votes coming in as much as her voice should.

    LaKisha gets my vote for the night. Until next time, PMW.

    Read all of our American Idol coverage.

    Posted by at 09:00 PM | Comments (6)


    February 20, 2007

    Vital Idol - Boys Night Out

    [Posted by ]

    Another season has begun and the men were up first on Tuesday night. After a lovely montage (you gotta have a montage) Ryan Shecrest introduced the crew in his Men’sWearhouseForeverHollister finery.

    Song choice, you say. Isn’t that a myth perpetrated by Simon, Randy “Keeping it real, Dog” Jackson and Paula, and sometimes Clive Davis, the super-corpse? No. Picking the wrong song can mean the death of an Idol. And sometimes, no matter how much swagger in Mick Jagger, junk in the trunk or face in the case, a song will leave you hanging on for Idol life. So, I’ve come up with my Idol Song Choice Commandments:

    1. Thou shalt not sing a song from a commercial.

    2. Thou shalt not sing a song written for a group, or with excessive harmonies (Supremes, Bee Gees, Beach Boys, Wings, Destiny’s Child, etc.). A person can only hit so many notes, and sometimes they try to sing them all and it’s bad news.

    3. Thou shalt not sing a ballad that is not currently in the Top 40 or on a Monsters of Rock power ballad album somewhere.

    I’ll add to the ISCC as offenders pop up throughout the competition. And now folks, on with the show. In honor of the general shallowness of the music industry, I’ll freely comment on everyone’s looks. Fun!

    Rudy Cardenas – He looks a bit weird. While he can hit the high notes, his tone leaves a bit to be desired and his dancing was a little embarrassing to watch. He is also the night’s first song-choice victim.

    Brandon Rogers – Disappointing hair and vocals. I think he should have waited a few weeks to do Michael. A warm-up of Chris Brown or Usher would have been fantastic, or maybe even Timberlake. I think it’ll be good enough to stay, but he better bring it next week, and get his hair did.

    Sundance Head – I hate him as much as I hated Buckteeth Covington. I don’t like the look of his face and his beard. And he could seriously use a chest wax. As his song begins I can’t help but exclaim, “Is this fucking ‘Nights in White Satin’?” loudly to my fiancé. Indeed it is. On a good note, he has a decent tone, nice, not too over-the-top vibrato, but still, “Nights in White Satin.” I’ll give him two or three weeks max, especially if he keeps picking songs his Mom got laid to.

    Paul Kim – Yes! Ethnic, sexy, and he’s pulling the old earthy artist thing with a barefoot performance. And it’s a Wham! Song. I love Wham! Women across America also love Wham! Great vocals, a little rough on the high notes (because the song was performed by a duo), but he’s got soul and great hair. I think the judges will bash him like a piñata if he doesn’t go up-tempo next week. Ladies, let’s hope he does. I think I’ve picked a pony.

    Chris Richardson – Cute. He needs a dermatologist, a shave and a nice lady to tie his tie. Hmmmmmm… his song was OK. He’s like a poor woman’s JT. He did a fairly good job with the song and stayed in key. I’ll keep an eye on him.

    Nick Pedro – The betrothed had one word for him – Tosser. A severe victim of East Coast manscaping and bad posture, I think he’ll go quickly. He’s bad. Don’t “Vote for Pedro.”

    Blake Lewis – He’s the beatboxer with a heart. I like his hair and face, and he seems nice. He chose the Keane song “Somewhere Only We Know,” showing he’s not just a one-trick pony. Nice tone, he’s not trying too hard and he’s making sexy time with the camera. I think he’ll go far.

    Sanjaya Malakar – He reminds me of an Indian Leif Garrett. So cute! He started off rocky with a song that goes on for 12 bars or so before it becomes familiar, and I still can’t place it. Turns out, it’s Stevie Wonder. The ISCC are gonna put a hurting on him tonight. I think he may go this week unless somebody really messes up.

    Chris Sligh – He must cut his hair in order to downplay the Hobbit factor he has going. Nice voice. Creepy song choice. And his movements remind me of those Christian Rock CD commercials. But, he may have a hook. One year it’s country, one year it’s gray hair, one year it’s not reading good. This could be the year of Jesus. At the very least, this guy has some serious G-Aiken potential.

    Jared Cotter – I was so right about Mr. Cotter. He’s tall, dark and handsome. Brian McKnight was a nice, safe song choice, and he hit the high notes well. He had a nice tone, stayed in key and projected a confident, masculine image. I’m looking forward to seeing him in the coming weeks.

    A.J. Tabaldo – He’s go the John Waters ‘stache. What is it about kids these days and their resistance to a razor. Other than that he looks approachable, and sounds about the same. But his dancing was a bit flowery and 45 seconds in, I still don’t know what the hell he’s singing. Wait, is it Luther? What the hell is a 23-year-old doing singing an abbreviated Luther song? Not impressive. And sugary A.J.s don’t have a good history of luck on Idol.

    Phil Stacey – Hello, sailor. I think he’s aping the Daughtry look a bit, and is best served when he’s covering that large, bald head of his. And he looks like he may have a terminal illness. The song started off really rough. But, then he breaks into the power chorus, and hits every note after that. But his ears are all I can focus on. Randy ended up giving him the best vocal performance of the night. I wouldn’t go that far, but would say with the help of some hats, he could last six weeks or so.

    One night down, many nights to go. I’ll give the vocal performance award to Chris Sligh even though his song was awful. Of the men, the guy I want to win is Paul Kim, but the guys I think can win are Blake and Jared. Until next time, PMW.

    Posted by at 11:14 PM | Comments (7)     
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    February 18, 2007

    Amazing Race All Stars - NO!

    [Posted by ]

    I was so excited to see my all-time favorite Amazing Race team, John Vito & Jill, again. Sadly, they were Philiminated in tonight's first episode. John Vito & Jill have many excellent qualities, but a sense of direction isn't one of them. Therefore, it wasn't really a huge surprise that they got lost on the way to a national park in Ecuador.

    In a completely non-shocking development, Rob & Amber finished tonight's leg in first place. In a somewhat more shocking development, they were actually shown doing a good deed on camera when they made sure their airport parking lot shuttle stopped to pick up Danny & Oswald.

    Speaking of Cha Cha Cha, they ran a flawless leg to finish second. More importantly, they were still their charming selves. What darlings. While I knew I'd root for the Cha, I surprised myself by also rooting for Teri & Ian. I don't know how it happened, but I'm now a firm supporter of Team Asshat. I even find his "Hooyas" adorable. What's wrong with me?

    Other notable moments from the premiere:

    • Charla beat one of the Frats in a footrace. I dislike her team, but "ha ha!"
    • Nice use of the Miami Vice soundtrack during the opening while teams arrived via speedboat
    • As always, animal hijinks are appreciated. Tonight's Detour task was a bit too sad, however. How can horse's hooves get so long? Poor things.

    It's funny how little some of the teams have changed. David & Mary are still too helpful for their own good. The Guidos are still over confident. Most teams still think that speaking Spanish just means adding an "o" to the end of every word. God, I love this show!

    Posted by at 09:23 PM | Comments (0)     
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    February 17, 2007

    Rating the Campaign Websites

    [Posted by ]

    While some folks are eager to compare John McCain's website to Leni Riefenstahl films, I'd rather evaluate the site (and other candidate's websites) as a marketing vehicle.

    As an internet marketing professional, I've shared my thoughts on online political marketing. Sadly, few candidates have taken my Dos and Don'ts to heart, so I don't they'll care what I think about their websites. But they should!

    John McCain is an attractive site with a nice clean layout. The designer wasn't afraid of white space and the prominent "Donate Online Today!" button isn't at all obnoxious. My favorite thing about the site is the "Undecided?" dropdown menu item. McCain isn't just using the web to get money or rally the troops. He seems to understand that people use the internet to get more information. Customer already go online to research purchases big and small. Why wouldn't they go online to research Presidential candidates.

    To be fair, I have a couple of criticisms of the site too. First, audio loads automatically. NO! Please don't slow my computer to give me some inane "welcome" message. If I want to hear anything on your site, I'll click something. Second, I'd be surprised if the site was designed to make it very crawlable to search engines. If I was on John McCain's staff I'd make damn sure that my site would come up on google searches for the candidate. It doesn't They purchased keywords at Google, but a better design might have saved them some money.

    Final Grade: B+

    John Edwards, on the other hand, is the first result from a Google search for the candidate. The site, however, makes a terrible first impression. Whose bright idea was it to have a landing page with nothing but a picture of the Edwards family and a blank for my email address. Hey Edwards campaign, I'm not going to give you my email address right off the bat. Don't start our relationship by asking me for things. You're the candidate. You need to give me information, not vice versa.

    It doesn't get any better once you get to his actual website. The dropdown menu items aren't immediately understandable. "One Corps"? What's that? I don't know why you would make something that obscure into a menu item. I also think it's a huge error to give most of the site's real estate to a universal health care message. Is this John Edward's site or is it a health care site? People vote for the person, not a single issue - at least for President.

    Final Grade: D

    Hillary Clinton

    As with Edwards, a search for "Hillary Clinton" sends you straight to her website. For the most part, I like the look of this site. It's not as attractive and artistic as McCain's site, but it's clean and easy to navigate. However, it lacks a simple "here's what I believe in" message. That's because this site is for people who are already going to vote for Hillary. Supporters might think calling themselves "HillRaisers" is cute, but I think the undecideds out there are going to find that obnoxious and it will simply reinforce the negative perceptions of Clinton (she's shrill). Clinton should have used the site to appeal to people who might agree with her on the issues but not like her. She doesn't. It's a fatal flaw, in my opinion.

    Final Grade: C-

    Barack Obama

    I mispelled a search for "Obama Barak" and still got to the right site, so good job, Obama web team! From a design perspective, Obama's website is a disaster. It's way too busy and has far too many cutesy icons all over it. On the other hand, I think the Obama campaign is using their website to address their candidate's perceived shortcomings. People think Obama is an empty suit. So, to address that, the "issues" tab at the top of the page is comprehensive. Other than the ugly overall design, my main criticism is that once you're in the "issues" area you can't easily navigate from issue to issue. You have to choose each issue individually from the top menu.

    Final Grade: a solid B.

    Rudy Giuliani

    A search of "Rudy Giuliani" gets me a sponsored link to the campaign website. It's also worth nothing that both the McCain and Romney campaigns are also buying that term. That seems like a waste of money. Are people looking for information on Rudy really going to just give up and go over to the Romney site instead? I doubt it.

    Although, given how crappy Giuliani's site is, maybe his campaign should hope not many people visit it. Like Edwards, Rudy seems to think that the internet is about getting something from visitors to the site. Most of the space on the homepage is taken up with requests for information and money. It's a huge turnoff. The candidates need to give us something, not the other way around.

    Rudy's site does have some issue information, but honestly, I think many people will be so annoyed by the tone of the site that they won't get past the HUGE "gimme gimme" section to read more about the candidate.

    Final Grade: D

    Gah, after looking at Guiliani's site, I'm just depressed. Why don't campaigns get it?

    Posted by at 09:17 AM | Comments (0)     
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    February 15, 2007

    Hollywood Weak

    [Posted by ]

    I ran across the top 24 American Idol list this morning and was immediately disturbed. Was it the breadth of talent. No. My hometown girl Denise "The Crack Baby" Jackson didn't make it. Not really, she was a bit weak for a church singer. Was it the fact that all of the guys are either fugalicious or gay? A little.

    After all of that, the overwhelming disappointment was seeing some 29-year-olds on the list. I thought the cutoff was 28, making me too old for Idol. Now I'm kicking myself a bit for not schlepping up to the great north and trying out in Minneapolis. Would I win? Not likely. But I think I would have made it to Hollywood week and lasted long enough to smack the fake tan off of one of the bitchiest sets of finalists I've ever seen. Antonella and Gina, I'm talking to you. And all the colorful hair styles and formal shorts in the world will not help you, so you best bring your A-game.

    OK, down to the good stuff, trying to pick a pony during Hollywood week is a bit difficult since the production doesn't make it easy. But I do have a few favorites based on the people who received camera time with their names attached. I did miss last night for Singles Awareness Day, but I'll give my full pony-picking report when everyone sings a song with the dreaded accompaniment next week.

    I like Sligh, but I think he's too ugly to win. The guys I like and think are cute enough to win are: Sanjaya, Blake Lewis, and, if memory serves, Mr. Cotter. The ladies I was not revolted by include Lakisha and Leslie. I will make and revise my pony pick after the first round of solos.

    So why should you care what I think? I've picked 3 of the Idols - Ruben, Fantasia and Taylor (from the very first day). I also have a strong vocal music background, have performed in a number of groups for the past 15 years and reviewed music for a variety of Web and print publications over the past decade.

    Full list:


    Chris Sligh, 28, Greenville, SC

    Alaina Alexander, 24, West Hollywood, CA

    Sanjaya Malakar, 17, Federal Way, WA

    Melinda Doolittle, 29, Brentwood, TN

    Brandon Rogers, 29, Los Angeles, CA

    Gina Glocksen, 22, Naperville, IL

    Phil Stacey, 29, Jacksonville, FL

    Haley Scarnato, 24, San Antonio, TX

    Blake Lewis, 25, Bothell, WA

    Jordin Sparks, 17, Glendale, AZ

    Rudy Cardenas, 28, Los Angeles, CA

    Stephanie Edwards, 19, Savannah, GA

    Paul Kim, 25, Saratoga, CA

    Leslie Hunt, 24, Chicago, IL

    A.J. Tabaldo, 22, Santa Maria, CA

    Sabrina Sloan, 27, Los Angeles, CA

    Nicholas Pedro, 25, Taunton, MA

    Lakisha Jones, 27, Flint, MI

    Chris Richardson, 22, Chesapeake, VA

    Nicole Tranquillo, 20, Philadelphia, PA

    Jared Cotter, 25, West Orange, NJ

    Amy Krebs, 22, Federal Way, WA

    Sundance Head, 28, Porter, TX

    Antonella Barba, 20, Point Pleasant, NJ

    Until next time, keep their heads ringing.

    Posted by at 10:18 AM | Comments (8)     
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    Winter in Wisconsin

    [Posted by ]

    Wisconsinites are tough, hardy folks. When winter comes we don't cry & whine. We roll with the punches:

    You can't keep a Badger from their card game!

    Posted by at 08:56 AM | Comments (0)     
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    February 11, 2007

    2008: Choo Choo Choose Them

    [Posted by ]

    I was reading the Book of Love Thursday and I came across this dedication to a man we all know (I'm leaving out the love part):

    Russ Feingold ~ I love you. I would gladly convert to Judaism to be your wife. Keep up the good work :-)

    Russ is a handsome man and we've been concerned about his love life for years now, but why is he the only politician getting love notes from the public? I'd like to see these kinds of messages in next year's Book of Love:

    John, I love your hair. You put the Breck girl to shame!
    Obama, I'd be happy to judge whether you're a real black man!
    Algore - shine on you crazy bastard. Shine on!
    Tommy, your pen is a sword. Please don't veto me!
    Mitt - need another wife?
    Senator McCain, I hear you swing both ways. How about swinging' my way?
    Rudy, you'll forever be the Mayor of my heart.
    I'd like to put the Rodham back in Clinton
    Posted by at 09:08 AM | Comments (2)     
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    February 05, 2007

    It's the saddest day of the year

    [Posted by ]

    The Monday after the Super Bowl should either be a national holiday or a national day of mourning. And it's not just Bears fans who feel like crying. The rest of us are sad too. There's no football for seven long months. Oh sure, there's the NFL draft, the spring game and various mini-camps, but it's just not the same.

    Colts fans can relive their glorious victory until September, but the rest of us have to look forward. Maybe next year it'll be us. Maybe the Packers will send Brett Favre out at the top and we'll all face this day hungover and very, very happy. Or maybe we'll still be basking in the glow of the Badgers. Or maybe we'll just be saying "what if?" again.

    Football is gone. Long live football.

    Posted by at 07:27 AM | Comments (0)     
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    February 02, 2007

    Super Bowl Picks

    [Posted by ]

    After two weeks of hearing all about Peyton Manning, Lovie Smith, Tony Dungy and Rex Grossman, the actual game is almost here. Who do you like?

    I'm picking da Bears. The Bears will commit to the run and expose Indy's poor run defense. And, much like Desmond Howard before him, Devin Hester will break the game open with a few big returns.

    Posted by at 12:07 PM | Comments (7)     
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    February 01, 2007

    America: Behind on family-oriented job policies but ahead on fairness

    [Posted by ]

    A new report from Harvard & McGill University researchers states that the "United States lags far behind virtually all wealthy countries with regard to family-oriented workplace policies such as maternity leave, paid sick days and support for breast-feeding".

    American fathers don't get paid paternity leave, unlike dads in 65 other countries. And, while 145 countries require paid sick leave, Americans have no such guarantee.

    The question the researchers don't ask is whether this is a bad thing. When fathers are gone for up to 14 weeks on their paid paternity leave and the sickees are watching the Tyra show (not that I would do that), their work doesn't go away with them. It's all well and good to offer such spectacular benefits, but in the real world, someone still has to do some work. Is it fair to ask other employees to take on that burden? The childless, parents of older kids and the healthy shouldn't be forced to subsidize the lifestyle choices of their coworkers. In practice, of course, this is what already happens, but should we make it a law?

    If, as a nation, we're ready to trade productivity for worker benefits, then I suggest we start with things that all employees can take advantage of, like more vacation. I don't know about you all, but I could sure stand to have the time to spend a week or two soaking up the sun. (Four degrees is the high? My kingdom for some global warming!)

    Posted by at 12:36 PM | Comments (3)     
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