Thursday, February 21, 2013

And you'll see me, somebody new!

"I Will Survive" just shuffled up on my ipod. It's a song that makes me smile. It makes me smile because of one incident when I was in the eighth grade.

Eighth grade was a big one for me. I went from a school of about 50 kids in my grade to over 1000 eighth graders. A lot of kids would hate that jump in numbers, but it's where I found myself. In seventh grade, I had been surrounded by kids who had known me since I was 5, kids who had judged me by my inability to play kickball and my social awkwardness. I had been picked on relentlessly by a group of boys that thought it was hilarious to make the shy girl cry. In later years, there would be a few a would reconnect with, but, at the time, my primary goal of the eighth grade was to avoid ever single one of those assholes.

When you have a sea of 1000 kids to disappear into, it's pretty easy to avoid 50. I stopped being so shy because I had decided that it was no fun. I fight my shyness almost every day, but in the eighth grade, I fought it like it was my job, and I was rewarded with friends and a new life. I couldn't have been happier.

The only downside was the bus. My bus route picked up primarily kids from grade school, of course, and I would get on and hope no one would even notice me. Luckily, we lived fairly close to the school, so most days we were on for barely enough time to get settled into a seat. This was fine by me. I was so sure someone would expose me, which, looking back, was a ridiculous fear. I wasn't the only one who had found new friends, new groups to hang out with, a new way of being. We were all scattered into the pool of 1000.

But there was that day. Honestly, I can't remember the details. It had probably snowed some and there was ice and snow. They probably should have cancelled school, but they didn't. The big yellow bus full of eighth graders lugged around back roads that hadn't been plowed, and the drive that should have taken less than 10 minutes was pushing an hour. We inched along, kids got restless, it felt like we'd never get to school. We had time on the bus to reconnect and become what we were a year ago. I was almost in a panic. We couldn't get to the school soon enough.

And then, a few blocks from the school, a group of kids started singing. "At first I was afraid, I was terrified..." Gradually, more kids started singing along. We had gone our separate ways, but we all could sing along. I loved this so much because it was joyful and fun and everyone knew we were being a bit ridiculous, but it was beautiful. We pulled into the school parking lot, pumping our fists to the "Hey! Hey!" of the song. Other buses were also late, the other kids looking bored and restless, but we were all lifted that day.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

It's back!

"American Idol" is back, and I can't resist writing about it. In all fairness to the show, I will admit that I have only watched an hour or so of this new season. Of course, that speaks to how I feel about the new season. None the less, I have some opinions.

First of all, if you haven't heard about this, please give it a read and watch the video:
Do the judges actually decide?

For those who don't want to check it out, this person points out that the judges are being given signals from behind the scenes as to who to send through and who to dump. So, although there may be some back and forth during the auditions, the bottom line is that Mariah, Nicki, Keith, and Randy aren't really making any decisions here. This, of course, gets them off the hook for being a deciding vote or, frankly, even really thinking during this whole process.

If this is true, it explains a lot. It explains the "say it all together" judgments, which I hate. Why take away the most interesting part of the auditions? Will the girl who has a nice voice but is clearly nervous get through? What about the boy with the sad story and mediocre voice? Will they give him a chance? It's much more interesting to watch the judges struggle with this, but when they all shout, "YES!" there's no drama. Right now, there's so many unanimous proclamations, I have no idea as to what kind of singer speaks to each judge. Why have a panel of four with different backgrounds and ages, when all they're going to do is rubber stamp a nod from behind the camera?

This is why I watched the first half hour of the first night and decided I'd wait until Hollywood. I did catch it the other night, but it was boring, background noise. I think I'll like Nicki as a judge, but at this point, I don't know how much she's allowed to say. Mariah seems much more concerned about her hair than anything else. Keith may turn into something interesting, so I will be curious as to what might happen when (if?) they're allowed to voice their own views.

At this point, I really think that "American Idol" should just start their season in Hollywood. Make Hollywood "week" longer, with flashbacks to the auditions, backstories, all that nonsense. Let the judges do their jobs. The novelty of the bad audition has worn off, but they can still be woven into flashback segments. Hollywood Week is just good drama. Just cut to it, have us pick our favorites, and let's start voting!