Archive for May, 2009

Sad Spectacle

Posted in Culture on May 25, 2009 by joetheyouthpastor

I just watched the season premiere of ‘Jon and Kate Plus 8’ with my wife (no man would ever admit to watching it alone or by his own choice, I believe). In recent months, both Jon and Kate Gosselin have been plagued by tabloid rumors of tension and affairs. The pages of tabloids, as well as more ‘reputable’ gossip magazines such as Star, US, and People, have been plastered with pictures of Jon with ‘the other woman’ and Kate with the bodyguard she is rumored to be having an affair with. With an internationally televised show, it’s easy to understand why their family would be the subject of tabloid attention. That’s what tabloids do – they seek out famous people, take their picture, and then make up a scintillating headline in order to sell copies. I get that.

Jon and Kate plus 8What I don’t get is the way Jon and Kate are acting in public and on their show. Kate has not only been the subject of speculation and rumors about her personal life apart from Jon. In a recent issue of People Magazine, she sat down and discussed all of these issues at length and with startling openness. My wife read the whole article and kept saying, “I can’t believe she’s talking about this with People. This sounds like a conversation she and Jon should be having with a marriage counselor.” I agree.

Jon has been more silent about all of the drama. Even so, throughout tonight’s season premiere, both Jon and Kate addressed their personal issues. Both kept to what they’ve been doing publicly – Jon maintained that he and Kate were working on it, but that it was their business; Kate addressed things more directly.

The saddest part about all of this is that both Jon and Kate are making such poor choices when it comes to their family. Both said over and over tonight that they’re in it for their kids. But the fact that they’re even doing a season 5 tells me that both Jon and Kate are more interested in what’s in it for them. For Kate it’s obvious – she has two best-selling books, numerous speaking engagements, etc., in addition to the money I’m sure they receive for allowing the show to be filmed. I don’t know what’s in it for Jon, apart from the money. But the fact is that there would be no season 5 of Jon and Kate Plus 8 unless they had both signed on the dotted line.

I have a feeling that this season is going to be a) the last, and b) extremely uncomfortable. Tonight’s show made me squirm. Both Jon and Kate acted like they were pleading their case in the court of public opinion. I don’t know if I can take a whole season of it. My fervent hope is that they will realize the toll that all of this is taking on their family, stop filming the show, and work out their issues. Based on the choices they seem to be making, it doesn’t look like either of them is really serious about addressing the real issues they’re dealing with. The end result of not addressing hurt and conflict is always heartache.


‘Idol’ Finale

Posted in Culture with tags , , , , on May 21, 2009 by joetheyouthpastor

Okay, so I’m not sure it quite matched up to last year’s finale in terms of being an overall great show, but it was still a great American Idol Finale. They have finally seemed to master the art of giving us 2 hours worth of filler that we actually don’t mind watching. Here are the points worth talking about.

-Golden Idol for Outstanding Male 2009: Nick Mitchell, a.k.a. Norman Gentle. I said in one of my first posts on this blog, and I stand by my declaration, Nick Mitchell is my American Idol. No one in the history of American Idol has so completely committed to simply being entertaining.

-Queen Latifa and L’il Rounds were great together. L’il got shorted by the judges, but she’s got a lot of talent. And I think she’s got a career ahead of her.

-The Jason Mraz number was pretty cool until they brought in all the rest of the top 13. They should take a clue from how popular the duets were this year, and get rid of the big song and dance numbers.

-Megan Joy should never be allowed to dance in public again.

-Golden Idol for Best Attitude 2009: Katrina Darrell. You knew bikini girl would be making a comeback. I don’t think anybody actually liked this girl, but guys definitely liked looking at her. Regardless, you can’t argue that she’s got tons of confidence/guts to stand on tv in front of tens of millions in her bikini. She’ll get an offer from Playboy or something. Kara might, too.

-Does anybody else think Kris Allen’s dad kinda looks like Meatloaf?

-Message to Danny Gokey: No, it is not you we’re looking for. We made that very clear two weeks ago when we kicked you to the curb. And it felt like that medley was going to go ‘All Night Long’. Lionel Ritchie is still the man, though.

-Kiss rocks. Adam rocks. They’re both very theatrical. Match made in heaven, if you ask me. Pyrotechnics are cool, too.

-Watching Matt sing ‘Black Magic Woman’ was more than enough to make me glad he didn’t win. And pray that he doesn’t ever make an album. Uncomfortable…

-Steve Martin on a banjo.

-We Are the Champions was awesome. It was pretty clear that AI wanted to hand the title to Adam (or at least make us think they were). Queen is right up his alley. Honestly, can you think of another modern front-man who could come close to Freddie Mercury in terms of vocal prowess?

-Kris wins! Both guys were awesome. They’re both going to have great careers. I’m glad that Kris won. It does a couple of things… 1) It shows that America liked Kris better, and 2) Adam will be freed up to do whatever he wants to do musically after the top 10 tour is over.

Great season. Best Idol season to date. I’ll be back with Idol recaps in January.


‘Idol’ Recap – Season Finale

Posted in Culture with tags , , on May 19, 2009 by joetheyouthpastor

When you get to this point in the competition, you know everybody can sing. It’s just easier to point out the flubs and missteps rather than the usual 3 – up, 3 – down. So, here is the weird stuff from tonight.

-Paula Abdul looked like an Oompa Loompa tonight – orange skin contrasted with bright green. Lay off on the spray tan!

-Adam sounded bad on Kara’s song. Also, his pants were atrocious.

-Kris sounded bad on Kara’s song, too.

-Kara’s song made Adam and Kris sound bad. The final song this year was a great reminder that even someone like Kara DioGuardi, who has written a ton of top 40 hits, still writes 10 pieces of crap for every hit.

Bottom line is that it’s down to who America likes more. This year, more than any other year so far, neither finalist is clearly better than the other. It’s totally down to preference. Do you prefer theatrical, glam-oriented, slightly experimental rock? Or do you prefer a more laid-back, singer-songwriter type of vibe? Your choice, America.


‘Idol’ Recap

Posted in Culture with tags , , , on May 14, 2009 by joetheyouthpastor

Here are my thoughts about American Idol this week.


-The judges picks were pretty good this year. Definitely weird that Kara seemed to want to criticize the contestants for song choice, when they didn’t have any choice on the first one…

-I really did not like Adam’s version of ‘One’. Kris’ version of ‘Apologize’ was pretty blah. Surprisingly, Danny won round one.

-Adam was great in round two. Danny was predictable. Honestly, is there anybody out there who didn’t think Danny would do a power ballad/love song? Kris, however, won the mess out of the second round. His performance was his best, the best of the night, and I think it showed us pretty clearly what kind of artist he’ll be.


Didn’t watch the whole show because Lost was having its season finale, but here are some of my thoughts as I skimmed on the DVR.

-Katy Perry is weird.

-I like that they gave all three guys the results at the same time.

-No surprise that Adam is in the final.

-A little surprised that Danny got the boot. I thought his heartbreaking story and popularity he had enjoyed all season would be enough to carry him.

-Surprised that Danny left from a popularity standpoint… Musically, it was the right decision. Danny was boring. Kris against Adam will be the most interesting final in AI history.

-The only negative for Danny leaving is that it would have been pretty cool to have two worship leaders in the final. Oh well.

Next week should be exciting. And since I won’t have to worry about Lost, I’ll be able to watch the whole thing. Thanks for working that out, ABC and Fox.


Be Healthy

Posted in Culture with tags , , on May 7, 2009 by joetheyouthpastor

the officeI only have two words for you:

Disco Cafe

Not sure what I’m talking about? Find tonight’s episode of the Office on Medical studies have shown that intense laughter can have very positive health benefits. Be healthy, people. Watch the Office.

‘Idol’ Recap

Posted in Culture with tags , , on May 5, 2009 by joetheyouthpastor

It’s getting down to the wire on American Idol. Exciting category for me this week. I grew up and learned to play guitar on hard rock, so this was my wheelhouse. It also looked going in like this week was going to be a snap to judge – Allison and Adam kinda have a run on the rock thing over Kris and Danny. There were some interesting surprises in store this week, both good and bad. Here’s the rundown.

AdamGood performance. Really good performance. Actually not as good as I was expecting, especially when I heard he was doing a Led Zepplin song. But mad props for being the first Idol contestant ever to tackle Robert Plant. Obviously, this week had Adam and Allison written all over it.

AllisonI liked Allison a whole lot early on. She had the young thing going for her. She had the cool thing going for her. She had the rock edge thing going on. The last few weeks have been misses for me. And this week was, too. I think she’s having an identity crisis as a singer. She’s doing this weird blend of rockish vocals mixed with popish mannerisms (picture Christina Aguilera’s hand gestures when she sings a long run). Plus tonight she went down the road that L’il was on the last few weeks before she got booted – getting mouthy and annoying with the judges. Note to all contestants: I don’t care how good you are, or think you are; even Paula has sold more records than you have.

KrisKris was out of his element tonight. It’s not that he can’t rock, it’s just that hard rock isn’t his thing. That being said, I was pretty impressed with his performance. The judges poo-pooed it some, but I thought he did the best job of the night in terms of playing sort of a bad hand. He definitely handled hard rock better than, say, Matt handled country.

DannyDanny gets the award for the night in terms of sheer guts. Everybody remembers Michael Johns getting booted early last year on ‘Dream On’. When I heard Danny was performing it, two things went through my head – 1) Wow, that’s gutsy; and 2) I don’t see this going well for Danny at all. I was right on both counts. I don’t think Danny is in any danger of going home. America loves him so much, I think he could hum for the next two weeks and still walk away the winner. Tonight was horrible. In every respect terrible. I hated it. Everything about it. He was trying too hard to be, well, hard. He was trying to snarl like Adam. He was trying to gruff up his voice more than usual, and it just sounded stupid. He was frequently off pitch on the melody. The ‘scream’ at the end was just that – an uncontrolled scream. As screechy as Stephen Tyler gets, he never loses control. Simon’s critique that it sounded like something from a horror movie was all-too-accurate. The judges kept saying stuff like, “I don’t know if it was the right song choice for you…” Here’s the easy answerL unless you’re Stephen Tyler, it’s the wrong song. Just ask Michael Johns. Oh, and if Danny really needs to listen to his performance to see if it was as bad as the judges said, he definitely doesn’t need to be the next American Idol.

The duets tonight were a nice surprise, and very interesting. I always hate the big song and dance numbers that the final 12 and onward do on results night, so I thought I would hate the duets, too. I actually like both the duets tonight. American Idol finally managed to creat filler that doesn’t feel like filler.

Good show tonight. If I had to guess, I’d say either Allison or Kris is going home. Simon was right in saying that Allison’s duet with Adam might have saved her tonight. We’ll see!


Swine Flu Insanity

Posted in Culture, Life with tags , , , , on May 4, 2009 by joetheyouthpastor

panflu1A friend told me yesterday that she was ‘scared to death’ of getting swine flu. I asked her why and she said, “Seriously?! Have you been watching the news?!” I said that yes, I had been watching. I also told her that I wasn’t concerned about swine flu at all. She seemed surprised, so I told her a few facts I had learned about the flu.

Regular old seasonal flu kills something like 36,000 Americans every year. Americans. We have some of the best health care in the world, and we lose 36,000 people per year to flu. As usual, those most at risk of serious illness and death are the very old and the very young. Who do we see worldwide being killed by swine flu? The very old and the very young. And how many deaths have we seen worldwide? Less than 200 in Mexico, the ‘epicenter’ of the ‘imminent pandemic’, and one in the U.S. It doesn’t even come close to the number of Americans who die from seasonal flu every year.

There have been serious flu pandemics before (and many more scares and pandemic threats). In 1918 a strain of flu known as Spanish Flu killed more than 50 million people. In 1957 the Asian Flu raised the U.S. death toll to around 68,000, a little less than twice normal. Swine flu itself was first identified in 1976 and labelled a pandemic threat, but never spread beyond the area it was discovered in. Most recently, in 1997 and 1999 there was the Bird Flu madness that killed a total of (wait for it…) 8 people.

So why are people losing their minds over Swine Flu? I think it’s because our news media needs something to talk about. The talking heads need something to keep themselves in their position as the informed know-it-alls who help us average American bumpkins navigate our confusing lives. They also need the advertising dollars that pay their salaries as we’re glued to coverage of our latest ‘public health emergency’. The Centers for Disease Control and World Health Orginazation are trying to save face after their initial over-reaction by continuing to insist that swine flu is a serious threat and that we should all be on our guard, travel less, wear surgical masks, and not shake hands with people.

Be smart, people. The influenza virus is a nasty little bug every year. Swine flu, the H1N1 variation, seems to be a pretty mild strain, as far as flu strains go. Take care of yourselves. Wash your hands frequently. Don’t get sick. But most of all, don’t buy into all the panic hype. Don’t let the media run your life.