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  • April 29, 2008

    Vital Idol - Back from a Vacation

    [Posted by Princess Midwest]

    OMG it’s Neil Diamond night! Wild horses couldn’t keep me away from this night. And Kristy Lee’s gone. And the Irish-American Idol Carly is gone. Things are really looking up in Idol land. If I get my way, Archuletta or Brooke will be gone tomorrow. The only downfall of the night is twice the Brooke and Archuletta. I can only hope Cook does my two favorite Neil Diamond songs – “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show” and “Cracklin’ Rosie.” On a side note, if you love train wrecks as much as I do, you must watch “Cradle of Rock” on MTV Thursday nights.

    Jason Castro –

    “Forever in Blue Jeans.” While his charms have worn on me, I must say this is a pretty good version. Nice tone, almost country and western, and mostly in key! Plus his eyes are extra sparkly, I think he’s safe this week.

    “September Morn.” Boring and average.

    Cook –

    “I’m Alive.” Skunked on both of my song choices. Oh well. I’m not too fond of this arrangement. It’s boring and sounds like a sound that would be in a B-movie montage. Let’s hope he does better with the second song.

    “All I Really Need is You.” Hmmm. Maybe it’s the scrubby beard, but I’m just not feeling DC tonight. The song kind of drags until halfway through when he hits some bitchin’ power ballad notes. He managed to bring the Diamond into the 80s, but not quite into the aughts.

    Brooke –

    “I’m a Believer.” Wow bad choice of key. She looks a little terrified, probably because she knows this song is not working. She’s also wearing crazy Elvis pants and trying to do an Elvis growl and lip thing. I think this could be her last night of sucking on a national stage.

    “I Am I Said.” Aw, how endearing (and unprofessional), she wrote some lyrics on her hand. Pretty good for Brooke. In key and not as shrill as usual. Kudos to Neil Diamond for writing a song that could even make her sound OK.

    Archuletta –

    “Sweet Caroline.” Wow, this is terrible. Wack. Wussified. I’d rather hear any drunk Badgers fan sing this than David. At least they’d have soul. This sounds like the soundtrack to an 80s sitcom. Can we kick him off soon so that he can star in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” already?

    “America.” I think we all knew going in this was gonna be baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad. And what’s with the “Jailhouse Rock” outfit? I never thought anyone would make Richard Marx sound like a badass.

    Syesha – “Hello Again.” Nice makeup and weavework this evening. Nice tone, but the song makes her sound like she’s 40. I’ll give her credits for the high notes.

    “Thank the Lord for the Nighttime.” I think the backup dancers doing the Watusi were a bit unnecessary, but heck, what do I know. Good energy, but it’s a little too Broadway/churchy for me.

    Best: Cook
    Boot: Archuletta

    Posted by PMW at 07:57 PM | Comments (1)     
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    April 28, 2008

    Hillary Clinton Compares Job Loss to the Holocaust

    [Posted by ]

    Does anyone else find this extremely offensive?

    At the union hall in Gary, she grew so animated in describing the plight of old-line industrial workers that she described them in language from the oft-repeated poem, attributed to the German pastor Martin Niemöller, about the victims of Nazism. “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out, because I was not a Socialist,” goes the version inscribed on a wall at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. After coming for the trade unionists, it continues, “they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out, because I was not a Jew.”

    In Mrs. Clinton’s version, she intoned: “They came for the steel companies and nobody said anything. They came for the auto companies and nobody said anything. They came for the office companies, people who did white-collar service jobs, and no one said anything. And they came for the professional jobs that could be outsourced, and nobody said anything.”

    “So this is not just about steel,” she finished.

    It sucks to lose your job. My former employer recently announced that there were moving headquarters out of town and sending 270 jobs with them. I feel horrible for my friends who now have to choose whether to follow the company to another city or to find another job. But you know what's worse, and, in fact, not even comparable to that - having yourself, your family, your friends, and your entire community murdered.

    This kind of rhetoric is just an extension of the whole Bushitler crap we've heard for the last eight years. Bush is Hitler and his economic policies are like the Holocaust. While the people who say things like this may think they're making a clever comparison, what they're doing is actually minimizing what real evil is. If Bush is Hitler and the Holocaust is like losing your job, then Hitler and the Holocaust weren't that bad, right? To make a far more appropriate allusion, those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.

    Posted by at 11:06 AM | Comments (2)     
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    April 23, 2008

    Vital Idol - Showtunes!

    [Posted by ]

    First, a caveat. I "watched" this Andrew Lloyd Webber episode while doing dishes, so the only people I actually paid any attention to were those who were especially good or especially bad.

    That said, obviously I don't remember much about Syesha except that she wore a sexy red dress and vamped around the stage. That's probably enough to keep her in another week given the boring personalities and bland singing of most of her competitors.

    Jason Castro sang "Memories" exactly how Simon described it - like a poor kid forced to sing something by his parents. He was completely out of his element. While the show wants us to judge Jason because of that, I'm judging the show itself instead. Why does a show that claims to want to entertain the audience force contestants to perform songs that they know will suck? How is that entertaining?

    Brooke White performed "You Must Love Me". I suspect America will respond with a hearty "Nah, not so much." Brooke screwed up the start and had to begin the song over. That, combined with desperate lyrics and crazy eyes should doom her.

    I have no idea what David Archuletta sang. I'm sure it was some song about the children or rainbows or kittens or something. I'm also sure he sang it well, but wussily. Ho hum.

    Carly Smithson finally found a song that suited her voice - "Jesus Christ Superstar". Carly was a little brassy and a little fabulous. Plus, I have to confess to a soft spot for the song since I fondly remember my father obnoxiously singing the chorus around the house for several years. Good times...

    Finally, David Cook closed the show with my favorite showtune this side of "The Bitch of Living", Phantom's "Music of the Night". David got the emotion of the song and didn't do much to change it into a post-grunge tune. I appreciated that.

    Best of the night: Carly
    Should go: Brooke
    Will go: Carly

    Posted by at 07:29 AM | Comments (4)     
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    April 20, 2008

    Games Presidents Play

    [Posted by ]

    I was thinking about Presidential experiences and the common ties that Presidents share. Are there certain experiences that we should look for or traits that great Presidents have in common? I was particularly thinking about Presidential participation in sports – do great Presidents play team sports, individual sports or no sports at all? It’s hard to find that kind of information about our early Presidents, but here’s what 20th century Presidents played:

    George W. Bush – baseball & cheerleading
    Bill Clinton – music & rugby
    George H.W. Bush – baseball, soccer
    Ronald Reagan – football
    Jimmy Carter – basketball
    Gerald Ford – football
    Richard Nixon – football
    Lyndon Johnson - ?
    John F. Kennedy – sailing
    Dwight Eisenhower – baseball, football
    Harry Truman – music
    FDR – rowing, tennis
    Herbert Hoover – baseball, football
    Calvin Coolidge - ?
    Warren Harding - ?
    Woodrow Wilson – cycling, golf
    William Taft - ?
    Teddy Roosevelt – rowing, boxing

    It’d be nice if you could look at that list and make a conclusion like great Presidents learned leadership by playing team sports, but you can’t. Likewise, it’s easy to make fun of Bill Clinton as a band geek, but then you have to paint Harry Truman with that same brush. You could mock the elitism of JFK’s pursuit of sailing or FDR’s rowing, but then you’d have to include Teddy Roosevelt in your disdain.

    So, I guess it’s not just about McCain, the boxer, vs. Obama, the basketball player, or Clinton, the tennis player.

    On a different note, I actually had to look in one of my Reagan books to find out what sports the Gipper played. Skimming through Reagan: A Life In Letters, it struck me that perhaps that’s the kind of experience a President needs to have. The book’s editors estimate that Reagan wrote over 10,000 letters. He corresponded with all kinds of people all throughout his life. You can only live your own life and only have time to do so much, but talking to people and learning about their lives, like Reagan did, lets you learn about experiences beyond your own. I think about Barack Obama’s recent comments and it strikes me that he probably doesn’t actually know any white, rural, lower to middle class Americans. He only knows “of” them.

    So maybe the key to judging future Presidential candidates isn’t in the games they played, their education or their military service. Maybe we should judge future candidates by the quality and quantity of their email correspondence and by how many Facebook friends they have!

    Posted by at 12:10 PM | Comments (0)     
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    April 18, 2008

    Presidential Experiences & Comparisons

    [Posted by ]

    Hillary is JFK or Harry Truman. Obama is Abe Lincoln. John McCain is...Gerald Ford? WTF? That's the conclusion of a post on Madison.com. This is how the poster sums up the careers of our three finalists:

    Hillary Rodham Clinton was an attorney for 17 years, focusing on child advocacy. She also was a law professor for two years and served on several boards with a child advocacy mission. As first lady of Arkansas for 12 years, she had exposure to issues affecting state and local governments and focused on rural health and reform of the state's educational system. She also served as a board member for Wal-Mart during this time. Her eight years as first lady for the United States took her to 79 countries and put her in charge of a major health care initiative. She has been a U.S. senator for seven years and served on the following committees: Armed Services; Environment & Public Works; Health, Education, Labor & Pensions, and Special Committee on Aging. Because her experiences as first lady are unique, it's hard to compare her to past presidents. She comes closest to Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy.

    First, Hillary Clinton did not focus on child advocacy for 17 years. She worked at the Children's Defense Fund for less than a year, and then spent the rest of her career in corporate law. Also, she "had exposure to issues"? That's a rather vague term that I take to mean that she was married to Bill Clinton (in which case those issues weren't the only things she was exposed to - know what I'm saying?). Hillary's experience can actually be summed up like this: she was a lawyer, was married to a Governor and President and was in the Senate. By contrast, JFK was a playboy, PT boat commander and served in the House and Senate. Harry Truman served in WWI, was a county judge, a Senator and a Vice President. How do these experiences mirror those of Hillary? I don't see it - unless the sympathetic poster simply wants to compare Clinton to positive Democratic icons. (Ding! Ding!).

    Not surprisingly, the author takes the same tack with Barack Obama:

    Senator Barack Obama was a community organizer in Chicago for three years, a civil rights attorney for four years and taught Constitutional Law at The University of Chicago for ten years. He served eight years in the Illinois State Senate and three years in the United States Senate. In the Illinois legislature he chaired the Health and Human Services Committee and successfully passed legislation regarding death penalty reform, videotaping of interrogations, ethics, welfare reform, and health care. In the United States Senate his committee assignments include Foreign Relations; Veterans Affairs; Health, Education, Labor & Pensions; Homeland Security; and Government Affairs. Like Senator Clinton, he has a long history of working in the law profession and has a legislative career giving him broad exposure to a number of foreign and domestic issues. A comparison to presidents over history shows that his experience is almost an exact match to Abraham Lincoln, who spent most of his career practicing law, with eight years in the Illinois legislature and three years in Congress.

    An exact match to Lincoln, eh? While Obama was matriculating at Harvard, Lincoln's formal education lasted a whopping 18 months. Lincoln served in the Black Hawk War and ran a small store and then taught himself the law. Lincoln had a 23-year legal career in Illinois and was involved in more than 5,000 cases. Unlike Obama's focus on constitutional law, Lincoln was a major player in transportation law. Finally, while Obama sailed through to the Senate, Lincoln was involved in a famous campaign against Stephen A. Douglas. Basically, the difference between Obama and Lincoln is that Obama has had the luxury of pretty thoughts and speeches while Lincoln actually had to spend his life doing things. It's the contrast between the pragmatist and the dreamer.

    Finally, as one would expect by this point, the writer finds a poor comparison for the Republican candidate:

    Senator John McCain was in the U.S. Navy from 1958 to 1981, including seven years as a POW in Hanoi. Before becoming a POW in 1967, he was a pilot. After his release he briefly commanded a training squadron. From 1977 to 1981 he served as the Navy's liaison with the Senate, which was his introduction to politics. He was elected to Congress in 1982 and moved to the Senate in 1986. He has been in the Senate for the past 22 years. His committee assignments are: Armed Services, Commerce, and Indian Affairs. His career has given him a great depth of experience in military affairs, as well as issues covered by the Commerce and Indian Affairs Committees, but his breadth of experience is only to the extent needed to vote on legislation. The best comparison in experience is Gerald Ford, who had a distinguished military career and went immediately to Congress, where he remained for 24 years. (Ford, had additional experience, though as Vice President and House Minority Leader).

    Like Ford, McCain is a career politician. However, it's hard to imagine that the defining experience of McCain's life is anything other than his seven years as a POW, an experience he doesn't share with Ford. Likewise, Gerald Ford's life is one filled with team experiences - he was a star athlete, a coach, a consensus builder in Congress. By contrast, McCain was a navy brat and a boxer he spent two years in solitary confinement in Vietnam. McCain's not called just a maverick because of his political stances - he's a maverick and a lone wolf because that's who he is to the core of his being. I'm not saying he'll be a better President than Ford, but I am most certainly saying that he would come into the job with a vastly different life behind him than Ford.

    I get that this poster simply wants to make a case that both Clinton and Obama have "enough" experience for the Presidency. She's right. They do. What they're lacking isn't experience. It's right ideas.

    Posted by at 03:23 PM | Comments (1)     
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    April 16, 2008

    Playing the Percentages

    [Posted by ]

    Yesterday marked the 61st anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking baseball's color barrier. While baseball celebrated, baseball pundits fretted over the news that 8.2% of the league's players are black. Maybe it's just me being me, but I fail to see the problem here. I wasn't aware that sports (and who knows what else) should be controlled by some kind of quota system. African-Americans are 12.2% of the American population, so does that mean baseball has to mirror that breakdown? Why isn't 8.2% enough?

    Are the people wringing their hands over the lack of African-American participation in baseball likewise devising elaborate strategies to keep "overrepresented" Latinos out of the game? Are the Milwaukee Brewers trying to break it to star Ryan Braun that he can't play because teams "should" only be .35% Jewish?

    Of course not. We tend to reject quotas because they violate our sense of fairness to the individual. Quota is a dirty word - and rightly so.

    So what's going on? I point my finger at sportswriters. They want to be "real" reporters so when they get a chance to dig into what they see as "hard" news they take it (and make a HUGE deal of it). That's why sports news gets dominated by non-sports stories like steroid use, Tibet, contracts, Jessica Simpson and Cheatriots. That's "news". That's a story. That's where the glory is, baby.

    Posted by at 02:55 PM | Comments (1)     
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    April 12, 2008

    A Barbequed Grilling

    [Posted by ]

    I was watching American Eats on The History Channel this morning. The topic was barbeques. Now, I know all about the rivalry between Memphis and Kansas City barbeque (I’ve even indulged in Gates barbeque sauce thanks to my brother), but I had no idea that barbeque actually comes from the Carolinas or the contributions of Eastern European immigrants to Texas barbeque.

    I find this kind of thing absolutely fascinating. It’s yet another example of how immigration led to the richness of American culture, and also an example of the great regionalization of that culture.


    Here in Wisconsin, we don’t have “barbeques” in the backyard. We “grill out”. And, grilling out generally means burgers and brats. “Barbeques” mean Sloppy Joes or something we get at a restaurant. On one hand, I feel like we’re missing out on an awesome cultural phenomenon, on the other hand, the rest of the country doesn’t have real brats, so we’re probably even.

    I know that we have readers and contributors who are quite familiar with barbeques, so this is as good of a place as any to determine who has the best bbq.

    Who has the best barbeque?
    The Carolinas
    Memphis
    Kansas City
    Texas
    BBQ? I'd rather have brats on the grill
      
    pollcode.com free polls
    Posted by at 10:25 AM | Comments (6)     
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    April 08, 2008

    Vital Idol - Inspirational Songs

    [Posted by Princess Midwest]

    It’s inspirational song week, making me wish I would have conned Kris into doing this recap. Joy.

    Michael Johns – “Dream On.” What’s with the ascots? And the man vests? And the Chinos? Bad, bad fashion aside, it’s a pretty decent of a very difficult song. Nothing groundbreaking here, but he should be safe.

    Syesha – “I Believe.” She’s chosen to sing a non-hit of past winner, Fantasia. She’s not a really powerful singer, so this is an odd choice. It’s OK, but she’s not taking me to church. I think this could land her in the bottom 3 this week for sure.

    Jason Castro – “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” I think this is the Sandals vacation commercial version. Needless to say, Jason’s frat-party performances have left me bored with him and firmly out of his corner. Nice vocals, but the song choice is so lame, I can’t praise him any more.

    Kristy Lee Cook – “Anyway.” Well, the genius that she is, she’s chosen to sing a Martina McBride song. Martina is one of the finest country singers in the world, ever. Kristy, not. On a positive note, I like her top and hair. On a negative note, she’s still on the show and she sucks horribly.

    David Cook – “Innocent.” Terrrible song choice, execution and jacket. I was hoping maybe for “More Than a Feeling” by Boston or anything recognizable as being remotely good.

    Carly Smithson – “Show Must Go On.” Why people insist on ruining Queen, I’ll never know. She’s wearing a crazy Pat Benetar outfit and has a crazy look in her eyes. She also totally loses the pitch in the middle. This is awful and may send her rightly to the bottom 3 this week and hopefully home.

    David Archuletta – “Through it All” Terrible and boring.

    Brooke White - “You’ve Got a Friend.” It was OK.

    Boot: Carly


    Posted by PMW at 08:01 PM | Comments (3)     
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    NCAA Pool Results

    [Posted by ]

    With Kansas' glorious victory, DaveTBH won our annual NCAA basketball pool. I'm not actually sure who Dave is, so Dave, please post a comment and let us know what charity you'd like us to donate your $25 prize money to .

    Here are the final standings:

    1. DaveTBH - 144 points
    2. winner - 140 points
    3. Jagged Little Bracket - 138 points
    4. Unabrewer - 136
    5. kahoks - 87
    6. BVBigBro - 83
    7. Motion Ws - 81
    8. preachers - 78
    9. Wow - 73
    10. KVBigSis - 73
    11. jsnisu - 66
    12. Winters Winners - 64
    13. Chris in NC (themandownthehall) - 64

    My nephew Cale (winner) won my intra-family pool. Sadly, Cale, this doesn't mean that you actually won anything. Sorry.

    Posted by at 08:41 AM | Comments (2)     
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    April 07, 2008

    Much Ado About The Olympics

    [Posted by ]

    What should we do about the Olympics? While most people agree that even now we shouldn't boycott the Games and destroy the dreams of thousands of athletes, some argue that we should at least boycott the Opening Ceremony to make a statement. I couldn't disagree more. The time to boycott and make a stand against these Games was before they were ever awarded to China. But instead, Olympic officials made a bet:

    Today's election took place by secret ballot, and delegates of the Olympic committee declined to reveal how they voted. Beijing appeared to receive broad international support beyond the developing nations where it has gained favor by building sports stadiums over the years. Sandra Baldwin, the president of the United States Olympic Committee, said she was ''O.K. with Beijing.''

    ''I think the Olympics should supersede politics,'' she added. ''It's the greatest peacetime event in the world.''

    It was clear, however, said François Carrard, the executive director of the I.O.C., that delegates faced one overriding political issue with regard to Beijing: human rights.

    ''Some people say, because of serious human rights issues, 'We close the door and say no,' '' Mr. Carrard said. ''The other way is to bet on openness. Bet on the fact that in the coming seven years, openness, progress and development in many areas will be such that the situation will be improved. We are taking the bet that seven years from now we will see many changes.''

    When you place a bet and you lose, you don't get to walk away. You have to pay up. And so, the rest of us are going to have to suck it up for a few weeks (or months, in the case of the torch relay) and let the Games go on. I know that many people think that boycotting just the Opening Ceremony won't cause that much harm, but I again disagree. Only a small fraction of athletes are at the Games to win. For most of the them, it's about the experience and other than competing in their specific event, I'm betting that the Opening Ceremony is their most memorable experience. Let's not ruin it for them to appease our guilt over awarding China the games in the first place.

    And it's not even just about the athletes, for spectators, even those just watching on TV, the Opening Ceremony is a big deal. Nevermind NBC's doom and gloom, hyper-political coverage, the Opening Ceremony is just plain cool. We get a little taste of the culture of just about every country on Earth. It sounds cheesy, but we're part of the world. We really do come together and it really is wonderful.

    It's about that, it's not about us. It's not even about China. China is just the facility. Think of it this way: Your best friend is getting married. She chooses to have her reception at a country club where you know the workers aren't treated well. You discourage her from having the reception there, but your concerns are overridden for a variety of reasons. Do you boycott the wedding? Of course not. You go and enjoy yourself and make the best of it for your friend's sake. Afterwards, you can talk trash about the accommodations all you want, but you go because your friend is more important than making a stand against the reception hall. Likewise, I genuinely believe that the Olympics are more important than sticking it to China over the same human rights violations that have been going on for years and years and years. At least for two or three weeks in August.

    What do you think?

    What should we do about the Olympics?
    Boycott the Games completely
    Boycott the Opening Ceremony
    Participate in the Opening Ceremony, but don't dip our flag to the Chinese leaders
    Make it business as usual
      
    pollcode.com free polls
    Posted by at 12:48 PM | Comments (2)     
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    April 01, 2008

    Vital Idol - Hello Dolly!

    [Posted by Princess Midwest]

    It’s Dolly night, folks. I love Dolly Parton and have often tried to sing her songs and they are tricky to pull off. Here’s to hoping Kristy Lee doesn’t ruin “Here You Come Again” or “I Will Always Love You.” On second thought, I have to think that Syesha might have to slap a bitch for trying to take her Whitney song.

    Brooke White - “Jolene.” Meh. Brooke starts off with one of Dolly’s finest and brings it into mediocrity with one octave singing and a simple strum on her acoustic. Not bad, but boring and definitely not the best cover that could have been done with this iconic song.

    David Cook – “Little Sparrow.” Looks like somebody took a shower and got a haircut. Dave takes a play from the Sting when he could still sing live book with a nice falsetto. I like the arrangement and his soulful tone. I think this will keep him safe this week for sure.

    Ramiele – “Do I Ever Cross Your Mind.” Finally she’s made a good song choice! At least until she totally drops the pitch in the middle. The cute outfit and nice hair should keep her safe this week.

    Jason Castro – “Traveling Through.” I hate Jackson Johnson with the heat of a millions tirefires in hell. As such, I also hate wack Jack Johnson arrangements on Idol. I predict the bottom three for this lame performance.

    Carly Smithson – “Here You Come Again.” Carly brings her cruise-ship stylings to the Idol stage again. This is so the wrong song for her. She should have picked “9 to 5” or “Why’d You Come in Here Looking Like That.” Tone is good, but a bit Celine Dion-y. On a positive note, her Spanx appear to be holding up well and it looks like she got herself a nice weave.

    David Archuletta – “Smoky Mountain Memories.” Young Dave’s managed to pick another sappy, Star Search 3 and ¼ star performance song. He gets points for being more in key than Jason, Brooke and Ramiele, but loses points for being such a wussbag. More importantly, what the hell is Michael Kors doing in the Idol audience, other than having many fashion heart attacks.

    Kristy Lee – “The Coat of Many Colors.” Very interesting styling tonight. I wish someone would go for the full-on brow wax, but that might only help her chances of getting votes. Alas, the song suits her and she is far from the worst of the night.

    Syesha – “You All Know What Song She’s Singing.” What Syesha wants, Syesha gets, and I’m guessing she had some tussles with the Idol girls about who would sing this song. Good choice of doing the hybrid Dolly-Whitney version. I think it could have been a tad lower in register, but overall it was the best of the night so far, which is not saying that much.

    Michael Johns - "It So Wrong, But Its So Right." Other than the ascot, he looks great. He picked a sultry number that suits his voice. It nice, bluesy and entirely in key. Best of the night by a mile.


    Posted by PMW at 07:59 PM | Comments (5)     
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