Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Idol With The Golden Head

As I write this entry, warm as toast on the 12Th floor of a downtown Buffalo skyscraper, I note, almost with a sense of relief, that Winter has finally come to Western New York. Of course, it's never really that simple when it comes to weather here.

In October [October 13Th, to be exact], we were hit with a snowstorm. Not a big one, by this area's standards [Until you drop a foot of snow on us, you just annoy us], but big enough. Further complicating matters, most of the trees still had their leaves. When the snow coated them, the over-burdened branches of many trees gave way, bringing down power lines in the process. As a result, many communities in the area were effectively shut down, with power and telephone restoration taking as long as a week, even in Buffalo proper.

As if to make up for that pre-season fiasco, the weather since then had been positively tranquil, with temperatures no lower that 40, virtually no snow, and that lasting only a few hours. Trees were blossoming, thinking Winter had been cancelled, and moving onto the next season. Squirrels were frequently lax in storing food for the cold times. We marked one of the few "non-White" Christmases in recent memory.

This past weekend, though, we were reminded vividly exactly WHERE we were living. A bout of freezing rain and strong winds, topped off like a sundae with snow, took care of that. As noted above, though, the reaction of many, along with the occasional nasty words when they fell on the ice, was a sigh of relief. This is the weather we signed up for in January, the thinking seems to have gone. We take the snow and cold in Winter, in exchange for almost never seeing a hurricane [or even a tornado], except on TV. As a bonus, we get fairly pleasant, sunny Summers. We may grumble about the arrangements sometimes, but, given the choice between this and, say, triple-digit temperatures and winds that spread fires [like California seems to have a lot of], we usually decide to honor our part of the bargain.

Another sign of Winter, and one that usually doesn't involve gloves, is the annual return of American Idol. (For the unaware: Idol is an incredibly popular national amateur singing contest. It airs twice a week through the Winter and Spring. The winner, selected by telephone vote after weeks of televised competitions, wins a recording contract, a new car, and gets an incredible boost to start his or her singing career.)

While many people enjoy the weekly sing-offs, others [including The Woman I Love and myself] are fans of the "audition" shows. In the spirit of "discovering the next music superstar" [or something like that], almost ANYONE [within the right age group] can enter! Tens of thousands of people line up outside the venues where auditions are held, hoping for a chance to perform before the show's three judges; enthusiastic Randy Jackson, sympathetic Paula Abdul, and acerbic Simon Cowell. The "audition" shows are well-edited highlights of the various stops. Show host Ryan Secrist narrates the segments, frequently telling inspiring, funny, or doofy stories about the various contestants. And then they sing.

Or then they move their lips and emit sounds from their throats that they THINK is singing. Which is rather the point, I guess. Every year, TWIL and I watch the "auditions", and every year she makes the same observation: "Don't these people have friends?" I know exactly what she means. The loners out there, who don't have a chance to bounce their "talent" off someone else, are understandable. But shouldn't someone with a friend or two have one of them, confronted with a "performance" that might make Donald Duck sound like the next Pavarotti, gently pull that potential superstar aside and say, "Honey, look, I love you, but..."
I mean, it's not like Simon [usually] or Randy [more so lately] is going to show any mercy. What's worse, the worst of the "auditions" frequently make up the bulk of the early shows. Embarrassment in front of three or four people is one thing. Why would you risk embarrassing yourself before a TV audience estimated in the tens of millions ?

Then again, I'm now hosting two blogs...

-Mike Riley


D League said...

I know this is unrelated to this post, but what do you know about the swine flu vaccination? I couldn't find very much information.