You mess with Harpo Marx, you get the horns.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Talent, Schmalent

Whilst America was surprised by the triumph of apple-pie, poster boy Kris Allen over neo-new-wave Adam Lambert on American Idol, at least these were two singers going head to head. In matters of talent-related taste, the gobsmacking shock occurred on Britain's Got Talent*, where Scots mezzo-soprano and fashion/coiffe rebel Susan Boyle was beaten out by a cheerleading (oh, all right... "dance") squad called "Diversity."

There's an excellent rule of thumb for talent contests: in matters of dance vs. song, usually singers have the edge. This is partially because most people recognise the basic differences between good and bad singing and the vocal qualities needed to excel**. Meanwhile, whilst people understand that there is a fair amount of coordination and athleticism involved in dance, we also know that most dance looks completely ridiculous. Take for example any given ballet. No matter how graceful and flexible the performers, one is still distracted by the fact that the dancers express the depths of emotions in really freaky ways. True love for example, is most often conveyed in ballet by vaguely spinning around in place, doing exaggerated leaps past one another, waving the hands about in odd fashion, and all in less clothing than many couples have conceived thier kids in.

Pop group dancing is even worse. Most of these "routines" consist of 20 people rhythmically moving their hips out of joint whilst staring at the camera like a randy Derek Zoolander.

So, Boyle's second place finish was unexpected, but in a contest dependent upon the general public's vote we can always track down reasons for such anomalies, or, in lieu of actual demographic and social research, speculate wildly***. So, here are some of the possible reasons Susan Boyle finished second:

  • Brits tired of her winsome flirting with Simon Cowell when everyone knows Piers fancies her.

  • Many sodden Brits confusedly refused to vote for someone "with a boil."

  • Amanda accidentally sabotaged the voting when she playfully and inaccurately suggested that Boyle was a member of a Thuggee death cult.

  • President Obama unleashed the White House call-in machine as soon as he found out a small, unglamourous Scottish woman was challenging "diversity."

  • Boyle was mistakenly implemented in the British parliamentary expenses scandal when it was discovered that an MP from Aberdeen had purchased several thousand copies of her bootleg CD at government expense. The MP thought he was buying the soundtrack of Cats.

  • Someone photoshopped a picture of her hugging Mike Ashley, prompting Newcastle United supporters to tie up lines for hours voting against her. This could be ruled out if there is not a corresponding record of death threats in Geordie acccents during the same period.

  • The generous British public decided to throw dancers a bone for a change.
  • Boyle's song choice of We Didn't Start the Fire turns off fans expecting a medely of ska hits.
  • Diversity's concluding move, where they form a giant human structure in the shape of the M4 won over the sceptical public. Rail passengers account for Boyle's strong showing.
  • Simon's grudging compliment of "not bad" to Diversity convinced voters that they were the best dance troupe in history.
  • Vote tabulators forgot to carry a one when adding the tally.
* Over in Britain, coincidentally enough
**And yet a Bob Dylan or an Ashley Simpson can still sell millions. It's a great business to be in, if you can get there.
*** For obvious reasons, I have chosen the latter.

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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Darby O'Earl and the Little People

Well, it's just a few days before the Fando clan makes our way to the lush, green shores of Eire, by way of Delta Airlines. It won't be long before I pack my shillelagh and we're off.

I'm looking forward to much about the trip, but there are still a few things that leave me apprehensive. Some positives and negatives about a trip to the Emerald Isle from the US.

Positive: Guinness as it was intended to be drank: warm and as sour as a month-old lemon. Also, Murphy's, which I'm rather looking forward to.
Negative: I'm not a massive beer drinker, so I'm hoping the locals don't mock me too much when I stop after a pint or two. It's the allergy meds, don't you know.

Negative: Switching lanes in Ireland. Driving on the left will be a switch after years of right-lane driving in the US.
Positive: I'm on the wrong side of the road so much, this breaks about 50/50 for me.

Positive: A massive dose of Irish music and culture. I'm looking forward to sitting in a pub absorbing the good vibrations of the fiddle, guitar, drums, and penny-whistle.
Negative: I have a huge fear of leprechauns derived from Lucky Charms commercials. The music sometimes triggers hallucination-fueled panic attacks. (If you see a tallish, wiry haired bloke in a pub fending off imaginary little people, do me a favour and buy me a pint to calm me down.)

Negative: Jet lag.
Positive: Chalking insomnia up to the fact that it's only 9 PM at home.

Positive: I love Irish (and British) food. I'm looking forward to bangers (sausages), steak and Guinness pie, colcannon, champ, various beef dishes, rashers of bacon, etc. etc...
Negative: Counting how many McDonald's there are on the M7. Also, carrots and parsnips.

Positive: A good, transatlantic flight.
Negative: Any transatlantic flight. Also, we won't get to fly Aer Lingus. I was looking forward to the free Guinness.*

Negative: Irish traffic
Positive: The Littlest Fando won't understand many swear words in heavy Irish accents.

Positive: The friendly, discursive Irish personality.
Negative: Trapped in a corner of a pub with a barfly named Sean who's convinced your his second cousin and have to be caught up on all the family news since 1973.

Positive: Seeing all the Irish castles.
Negative: Kissing the Blarney Stone

* I'm not actually positive they do this, but surely an Irish airline would serve free Guinness. It's like mother's milk, Boyo!**
**Actually, that doesn't sound very appealing at all.

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Tweet, Tweet!

I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to call a foul on Nuffy's response to #5lastwords. The response, "Careful, that elephant has explosive diarrhea," actually has six words in it and is thus, disqualified.

Perhaps, Nuffy is working on a Six Times Better system, and let himself get ahead of things.

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