Post of Canadian Idol-ness

It’s been a long time since I’ve done one of these, isn’t it? And now, not liable to again. I was feeling rather wistful about the whole situation – the way you do, when you hear the fate of a friend long past – until I happened to catch judge Zack Werner’s reaction. Something about howbitterly ironic it was that the show was being canned as too expensive, when it’s in just this sort of economy that kids need dreams to hold onto.
Er, yeah, Zack. Not to worry; they can always still aspire to be contestants on Don’t Forget the Hits! And there, they’ve a chance to be paid real money.

Anyway, I dragged out my old home-made ‘Best of CI2’ CD as part of the total music overhaul, inspired by Brian Melo’s version of Karma Police from CI5. It’s worth a download, mostly; Melo’s rock voice sounds authentic, and I was heartened to learn that he and the bubblegum factory have since parted ways.

As for CI2…oy. Remember I said I wasn’t particularly embarrassed by my past musical choices? Well, I lied. Shorn of the excitement of the moment, Teh Greatest CI Season Evah comes off, largely, as…how do I put this? Like you thought you were watching American TV, and it turns out it was Canadian all along.

Mind, this does have the effect of throwing the glimmers of real professionalism into high relief:

Top 32:

What I preserved
– Kalan (Lady), Theresa (Summertime), Kaleb (Water Runs Dry)
What I’d keep now – None of the above. These are three canny kids showing off their vocal tricks for the voters; that’s all. Kaleb probably gives the closest thing to an actual performance.

Top 10:

What I preserved– Kalan (Born to Be Wild), Theresa (Good Mother), Elena (Mary Jane)
What I’d keep now  – Theresa. No idea how I put up with Elena’s shouting for even this long, anymore. Meanwhile, Kalan’s developed a serious case of Johnson novelty syndrome: it’s not so much that he’s performing well, as that he’s performing it at all.

Top 9:

What I preserved– Jacob (Space Oddity), Kalan (House of the Rising Sun)
What I’d keep now  – Both, unreservedly. They are collectively the reason us Canucks were all "Our Idol is better than yours, nyahhh!" at AI all season. (Although I do wish Kalan would just record the damn song already so I can get a version clear of all the SCREEM!s.)

Top 7-Finale under the cut…



I know I ought to be updating more often lately, but honestly, even for the (inexplicably) dedicated readers this blog has, there’s not much percentage in it that I can see. Life is just sort of puttering along – rather like the weather – here @ Shoe Central. Partly interesting, with a 40% chance of amusing overnight.

I did get my Bob & Ray CDs, but would imagine by now that even the most dedicated readers – say, the top one or two – don’t want to sit through another ramble on that subject. Let us just say that I’m having a wonderful time, especially with the ep in which the guys take off on ‘modern radio sales techniques’ that sound rather alarmingly like, well, modern sales techniques.  (“Hello Dave! My, your hair looks so natural and un-patent-leathery!”).

Also, I really must praise the Old Time Radio Archives generally. Barring a mild contretemps with their PayPal page – near as I can figure out, it kept resetting cookies, until I was ready to sob with the sheer frustration of trying to give somebody money for a random set of CDs – their conduct was prompt, professional and polite throughout.
They even tossed in a free Milton Berle CD, which was nice of them. I have no idea what I’m going to do with it, mind you (offer it as a premium to my last remaining reader?) but the thought was there. The problem is, my concept of Berle comes largely from one evening when Shoemom threw one of her periodic nostalgia fits and made us kids sit through some TV variety retrospective or another. Yeah, apparently Ed Sullivan’s ubiquitousness extended all the way out to rural Niagara Falls.So anyway, there I was, chuckling dutifully, when all of a sudden this…uh…look, it had a dress on, that was rumpled in all the wrong places – very, very wrong – and its eyes were bugged way out. That’s all I remember. That’s all my brain could process, before Shoemom explained it was ‘good ol’Unca Miltie! Never missed his show!’. And parents wonder how their children come to view their genetic material with deep suspicion. We won’t even get into the whole ‘Howdy-Doody fan and proud of it!’ speech. More

From somewhere back in my long ago

In the interval between soaking up the goodness from my last writing project and deciding what to tackle next – as I understand it, a common problem among your neophyte literary geniuses –  I suddenly got all nostalgic for my first writing project again.

Or, more specifically, I got really really bored at work the other day, decided to check in on Brian Melo, the latest Canadian Idol, then immediately wished I hadn’t. Suffice it to say, boyo’s sales to even date, here @ Hbc at least, are just over Kalan Porter’s ditto in one week. Pre-Christmas week, but still. And I really don’t have any particular reason to believe they’re more impressive elsewhere.

I was going to go on to run comparisons to Hedley’s latest, but decided that the karma police have been thorough enough in re: those Juno ads without me contributing to my own torture. Memo to Canadian music industry: Reveling in your success is one thing; rubbing a fair chunk of your market’s nose in it is something else again. Possibly a source of legal action, if I can prove that’s the reason the cats race from the room every time Jacob starts yowling…

…where were we? Oh yes, nostalgia. Naturally this whole thing sparked off a series of ‘Whither CI?’ reflections – don’t laugh, there was a time when music lovers of general goodwill really believed they were onto something cool, here. Didn’t help that there was no decisive crushing blow administered to those hopes…although it could be argued that hanging on after the aforementioned Porter’s CD debut represented a clear triumph of affection over good sense.

That was the really cruel bit; people with no clear notion of how the music industry works came flocking to the banners, convinced TPTB couldn’t do otherwise than recognize the specialness of the adored winner, and then…well, then they did. A sort of relentless drip-drip-drip of corporate philosophy, eating the idealism away. Or reinforcing the lack, in the minds of those already disposed to be cynical; or even creating stubborn denial in the minds of those who refused to believe in anything but destiny. Because, y’know, that’s what music industry types do…no, not fulfil destinies.

So does the overwhelming yawn of non-support for the latest Canadian Idol mean the majority have finally figured it out, and are turning away in disillusionment? I dunno. Certainly counting on that factor, in re: reality-TV audiences, is historically a dangerous gamble, given that the genre still thrives. It’s lost some significant chutzpah, to be sure, but the basic assumption that if you film Tori Spelling long enough, people will watch, hasn’t yet been questioned.

People don’t, as a general rule, mind being played for intellectual suckers, so long as they don’t have to actually pay for it. Sure, the Idol ratings may drop a little as the lack of real quality becomes obvious; but can you think of a better concept to fill CTV’s summer weeknights? This is how AI’s survived several mediocre seasons, and CI will probably limp along in its wake for awhile yet. Hey, I may even tune in, if only to see how long the judges can keep trotting out the ‘relevant’ speeches with a straight face.

Sometimes the world begins/To set you up on your feet again…

Public-service announcement: Kalan Porter.

OK, OK, I know…look, I did try a Google News search beforehand this time, but no dice. Save for a handful of references to this year’s CI auditions. I note they seem to have borrowed the ‘Looky the cumulative avalanche of talent we’ve uncovered!’ card from AI…unfortunately a year or so after everybody noticed that the AI talent being referenced were, almost without exception, the people who had fallen by the wayside (or been shoved there) during the process, not the carefully-nurtured products of same.

Which would still not be a huge problem, per se, except that CI’s version of ‘C’mon out, take a chance, and you too could be the next Daughtry!’ is, y’know, Billy Klippert. I won’t even get into the dichotomy between being Jennifer Hudson and being Jacob Hoggard. So who the hell do they have left to seriously audition for this thing? Greg Neufeld, hoping third time’s the charm? The mind reels.


Anyway, seriously, there is a point to my base attention-gathering tactics here. Really. Not, I will confess, unmixed with a certain particular satisfaction in terms of my…stormy…Idol-writing career. (See, kids, this is one of the practical advantages of staying awake in English class – you have at your command infinite polite euphemisms for “Nyahh-nyah-nyahhhh-NYAHHHHHH!”.)

It’s a rather peculiar sensation, isn’t it, having good news to tell? I mean, really good news. Not just ‘there was leftover birthday cake in the office today,’ or even ‘whoa, hunky dude from the Pilates class finally asked me out!’.
This is the kind that validates something so deep inside, it gives you little shuddery shocks of sweetness every time you realise it afresh. So that who you tell, and how, becomes important in and of itself. Do you run screaming through the streets, setting all that excitement off in one glorious but short-lived firework? Or do you hoard it carefully, spending it only among those close ones of whom you can be sure of maximum return on your investment?

…Or, reluctant to give it up in either case, do you heighten the sensation by blathering on for awhile about the entirely obvious? More

The unbearable lightness of being green

Public-service announcement: I’m still feeling a little badly over that Kalan Porter gag from last week – not the others, so much; it’s hard to envision anything that could get me worked up over for instance JayDee. Were they to invent a Preppy Minivan-Riding Idol Winner repellent spray, I’d keep an impressive stock in the hall closet at all times, believe you me.

Kalan, on the other hand…well, Hurray is still on the iPod rotation, lo these many weeks later. My attitude toward music is much the same as toward books; the ones that find a perfectly matching slot in my psyche, they’re the only ones I keep. So I guess I still do care…just enough to wonder whether what might be, already has been or not.


In other news: I never did find that good book. Although LaVyrle Spencer will do quite nicely for brain candy, thanks, and That Camden Summer edges up to the point where I muse about it being retold by someone who could do the characters real justice.

Still, though…if there’s anything we have around here, it’s standards. ‘Up with edification’, this is our motto at Shoe Central; primarily because we have spent the past month’s Net time immersed in the results of laxity in this vital area. To wit: the decision by Marvel Comics to divorce Spider-Man. More


Public service announcement: I really must apologise to all – uh – [glances at statcounter] – any of the readership who may have unwittingly bought seats on the Great Bob & Ray Essay Kaleidoscope these past few weeks.
It started out as just your standard offhand blogger’s appreciation I swear; but then an unexpected hit from a Los Angeles IP address started me thinking that it would probably be a good idea, when writing a public tribute, not to leave the impression that any live honourees were deceased. I got interested, and started researching, and realised I’d left out some really great details…well, you can imagine, after forty years there are a lot of details.

So the next thing I knew I was working on a full-fledged little article. (Should anyone with a personal interest in fact be reading, I’d like to stop right here and say thanks. Not sure what for, specifically, but I have developed a very great need to thank somebody for those forty years.)

‘Tennyrate, the really good news is that I’ve just added the very very last, finishing touches this afternoon. I think. Well, barring any shocking! revelations of late-night cavorting on the set of Bob & Ray & Jane & Laraine & Gilda, the SNL special they taped in the 70’s…

…OK, getting grip once and for all. Seriously, as far as I can tell both Elliott and Goulding were perfect gentlemen at all times; even while throwing a spelling bee to a miniskirted Laraine Newman they come off as the dear old grandfathers they were by then. Albeit I do wonder if the little ones were allowed to stay up and watch their Grandpas chorus Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?…

[Um, in business suits. You can put down the brain bleach now. Sorry.]


So life acquires a distinctly whimsical edge anyway, when you conflate vacation days with the holidays…

[Note to readers now moved to outrage over my not saying ‘Christmas’: Hey, far be it from me to interfere with your belligerent defense of the Prince of Peace. Just please make sure the link back here from your Net-spanning defamatory emails is working correctly. thxbai!]. More

Strange things are happening…

Public service announcement: I realise the season for Hallowe’en house decorating is well over, but as long as the ghosties are still dangling from the bushes I feel it my duty – as a person who’s forced to walk through a sort of animated Sears Wish Book every day from mid-October through the New Year – to point out a couple things:

1. You know that white fuzzy stuff that’s supposed to represent cobwebs? Yes, cobwebs. Those eerily filmy things that hang round neglected corners and sometimes wash over neglected furniture, only not so much now that the owners have been convinced they’re the darlings of the Antique Roadshow, which really explains quite a lot about this season’s displays.
See, the keywords here are eerily and filmy. Merely plumping great wads of fuzzy stuff all over the lawn suggests that neglect has not so much led to gloom and desolation as a cheery sort of occult pillow fight, or perhaps a cosmic Tide commercial. Especially after it rains and the people passing are all ‘ooh, I wonder how they’re going to pick all that up when they’re done’.

2. On the other hand, dying the clumps of fuzzy stuff neon orange? Is truly scary, if only because one fears for the human race if people capable of missing the point that badly are allowed to mingle their genetic material. More

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