Reasons Today Rocked

Reasons today rocked:

  • Hot wings at Culpeppers
  • As a related item, eating lunch outside for the first time this year
  • Walking in Forest Park, in an area I don’t usually go to (I’m a Grand Basin junkie, but I thought I’d check out some of the other park areas)
  • Getting an article I’m writing for a webzine about half-finished (major breakthrough, as I’ve been procrastinating through research for a week and a half)
  • Being highly amused by a couple trying to unload a very heavy motorcycle off the back of their pickup–their “ramp” (aka a two-by-four) kept falling off
  • Belle and Sebastian CD on the way home
  • The rain not starting until after I got home, and after dark
  • Catching up on 24, House, and How I Met Your Mother
  • Finding a book that I think will finally help me understand PHP and MySQL…maybe
  • Finding an FTP extension for Firefox that seems to work better than the Dreamweaver one, which has been crashing DW constantly lately
  • Beating a boss level on XIII that’s kept me stuck for a few weeks (I won’t let myself buy any more games until I finish this one–my “stuck in the middle of” stack is getting astronomical)

So, yeah. Successful day. Tomorrow: church, sheperding groups fellowship, delving past installing PHP into actually using it, and possibly the last four eps of Arrested Development, which I’ve been saving, but really, it may be time to let go.

AI Top Twelve Results

Okay, I know I’m not going to like the American Idol results show this week. I like seven of the eight girls (I don’t care for Kinnik, and I just saw before I backed my DVR up to the beginning that she’s off, as I knew she would be). And I like five or six of the guys, but I’m by no means sure that the ones I like will be the ones that stay. I think the other girl off will be either Kellie or Melissa. Kellie was an early favorite of mine, and I still like her, but I don’t think she’s got the voice to keep up with the top three or four. Melissa has been growing on me every week, so now I’d be sorry to see her go as well. And I was fairly sure Ayla was going to make it into the top twelve, but this week’s song was really weak, so I don’t know anymore. I agree with Simon on her…I like her somewhat, and last week she was very good, but she’s almost too perfect. If that makes sense. There’s no thrill.

On the guys side, I *heart* Kevin Covais. Especially when he does Josh Groban songs. Chills. Up. And. Down. My. Spine. But my coworker hates him, so if there are many in America like her, I fear for my Kevin. If I were voting off, I’d probably vote off Bucky and…geez. Either Ace or Gedeon. I like Gedeon’s singing, but his video clips where he’s talking are annoying me to death. Overenunciate much? And I liked Ace at first, but the last two weeks have just been…meh. And he’s kinda smarmy. As in, there’s part of me that says, yes, he’s hot in a way, especially his eyes, but there’s a much larger part of me that wouldn’t let him touch me, ever.

Now. Back to the beginning of the show. I love DVR.

American Idol…

Speaking of the removal of the high-low distinction in art…

Figured I should put my American Idol predictions in here before any more of it airs, so if I’m right, it will be on record from pretty much the beginning. (I swear, I picked Carrie Underwood out of the auditions. But it’s not written down anywhere, so I can’t prove it.)

Based purely on the auditions, my pick this year would be Paris Bennett. And she’s still a definite top three contender. But after the first set of performances, I’m leaning towards Lisa Tucker. She really wowed me. I think Katherine McPhee has the best natural singing voice of all of them, but I don’t think she’s going to be able to sell the songs like Lisa can. On the boys’ side, I dunno. There are four or five guys I think can go right to the end, but when it comes down to it, I think Lisa’s better than all of them.

So there it is. My prediction. Lisa Tucker for American Idol 2006. (Even though I probably wouldn’t buy her record, because she’s not my style of music…I’d be much more likely to buy Katharine’s or David Radford’s–who I know won’t make it too much further; he’s on borrowed time already.)

There. My American Idol addiction is outed. I can’t wait until tomorrow night. I’ve avoided watching it at all for four years, and now, it’s hitting hard, man.

Off-the-cuff Postmodernism

Call me crazy, but I didn’t even notice that Pastor Meyers had gone overtime the past two Sunday evenings. That’s because he was talking about postmodernism as part of the Cultural Discernment series. First off, I love all the Cultural Discernment evenings. Secondly, things that smack of philosophy and media and pop-culture, especially all mashed together, pretty much tops my list of Interesting Things I Want To Hear More About. Thirdly, postmodernism itself especially interests me, and I was glad to hear such a clear and non-judgmental presentation of it. I thought he did a really good job of pointing out the good things about postmodernism and the critiques it has made against modernism, as well as point out places where postmodernism itself goes to far, or in a misleading direction. He’s posted this week’s presentation on his blog, in case you weren’t there Sunday night.

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In defense of ice dancing

This afternoon, I watched the ice dancing original dance from last night, and I’ve once again decided that ice dancing is my favorite of the four disciplines to watch. I decide this pretty much every Olympics, but then I forget and think I like pairs the best. But I only like pairs second best. And here’s why: the best pair skaters are the ones who can do all the big tricks and everything, but also are able to connect them together with innovative and artistic choreography, and really interpret the music they’re using. Unfortunately, many pairs skaters get away with having amazing tricks and connect-the-tricks choreography, and can still win the competition, because the focus is on the tricks. Which means, for the viewer, that you have perhaps three or five points in the program where you go “oh my gosh, they’re going to fall and kill themselves”, which is exciting and creates feelings of relief and euphoria when they don’t fall and kill themselves. The rest of the time, however, you’re stuck going “when are they going to jump/lift/throw/death spiral again?” (Obviously, this doesn’t apply to the very best pairs teams…the Russians continue to be the best largely because they do NOT rely entirely on the tricks, but put just as much effort into the artistry and choreography as landing the next biggest jump. The Chinese skaters, though–very strong on all the technical elements, but give the impression that the program would be exactly the same done to any other piece of music or no music at all…the choreography is only there to rest between technical elements.)

With ice dancing, on the other hand, although they do have required elements which are now more important than ever due to the new scoring system, the emphasis is on the choreography, the innovation, and the flow all the way through the program, not just for the few seconds of spins and lifts. Therefore, in most cases, the entire program is much more fun to watch, much more expressive, and much more interesting, because if ice dancers ever simply connect-the-required-elements, they do not make it to the Olympic level of competition.

Tracy made a good point last night about the new scoring forcing the dancers to up the ante on athleticism, and you could definitely tell in the programs…the number of falls was incredible for ice dancing. But the point is, the difficulty is in the footwork, the closeness of the partners to each other when they’re skating, the intricacy of the lifts, and the sheer speed with which they’re doing most of this…the difficulty is in actual skating, not aerial tricks. Belbin and Agosto were simply breathtaking. Notice how the commentaters didn’t hardly even speak during their program? I couldn’t even breathe. So solid, so fast, so many steps, and everything so perfect. My fingers are crossed for them in the free dance tonight. They’re so good, and they were so nearly not here at all. Plus, Tanith is like the best name ever. It sounds both classic and new, very soft and yet strong. The only downside is the “th” at the end could come across as a lisp, but at the same time, it’s such an unusual ending that it’s attractive. It’s going on my baby name list.

I wrote the above earlier today, and then read this article in Slate Magazine, which just made me mad. Sometimes I wonder why I continue to look at Slate articles, because they usually make me mad, but then I remember that it’s because they make me mad and force me to respond to them (at least in my head) and sort out my thoughts about WHY they make me mad, which makes me think. Anyway. Article starts of with groaning at the fact of ice dancing, continues on to ridicule and enjoyment of Marie-France Dubreuil’s fall which sent her to the hospital and kept the team out of the free dance tonight (although the author sort of apologizes for that), and goes on the lampoon the entire discipline as being silly, non-athletic, and unriveting. Why is it, then, that after three or four of the men skated in the men’s singles competition, I only half-watched the rest, except for the Americans and Victor Plashenko, and yet I haven’t been able to take my eyes off the dancers? Last time I checked, that would fall within the definiton of “riveted.” Am I weird? Do I lack some taken-for-granted ability to become easily bored by pure artistry that is less adulterated by showy tricks than the other disciplines? It certainly isn’t that I hope to see some good falls.

(Please don’t get me wrong and think that I don’t like the other disciplines…I do, greatly. I love seeing skaters do amazing jumps and I love pairs pushing the envelope on throw quads, and I love the huge, flying lifts. I love it all. I just feel like ice dancing gets unjustly ignored and maligned, and I had to step in and defend the most artistic, least plagued by the bad side of competition, sport still being performed at the Olympics. Especially since I think these dancers have shown that it does require athletic ability, and it is difficult and demanding…requiring much more than “basic coordination, mediocre rhythm, a terrible outfit, and a cheerleader grin,” as stated in the article above.)

However, I have to grant Slate credit for this article, which highlights a lot of the problems I have with the new scoring system. I’m not willing to say it’s a bad thing altogether, because after all, if we’re going to keep treating figure skating as a sport, there has to be at least an attempt at less subjective scoring (and I have a vested interest in keeping it a sport, because it’s the only reason I watch the Olympics, and I like watching the Olympics). But when the system rewards failed attempts at harder elements and penalizes flawless executions of easier elements, there’s still tweaking to be done. Hopefully the skating association will figure this out and hammer at it some more.

Okay, now back to the Free Dance.