Snippet Of My Life Episode 20 – Extreme Idol, Extreme Sport, Extreme Spanish Verb

Extreme Spanish Verb

Extreme Idol

So Adam Lambert didn’t win the title.  On the next day, I briefly joined the countless of fans reading through hundreds of comments easily found in the Internet.  It was as though we all need a global support group, to hear that common voice.  Majority of the younger audience these days probably won’t appreciate the vocal powerhouse of Freddy Mercury or Axl Rose, the mighty guitar skill of Slash and Brain May.  So get over it.  We all love Poker Face more.  It would have been nice for Adam’s career had he gained the title.  Then again, I think it is the American Idol franchise’s loss more than anything else. 

I love the franchise.  And due to the time difference, by the time we get to watch the result shows in Singapore, there bound to be someone around us who can’t contain the emotion and broadcasts the result.  To some, it’s no big deal.  To others, the anticipation throughout the day, the excitement of spending an hour or two in front of a TV to wait for that very nail biting moment is gone, utterly spoilt.  So I have developed this natural defence system.  On the day of the result show, I would avoid visiting Facebook and even CNN.  On the season finale, I would take leave if I could.  And if I couldn’t, like this year, I would not read any text messages sent to my phone.  Call me if you need to contact me.  I would not watch the tiny television inside the lift and I would listen to my music throughout the day if possible.  For two consecutive years, Cynthia – rather sad really as she too is a fan of American Idol – knew the result prior to the finale because someone sent her a text message.  Throw that phone away, just for a day.

Extreme Sport

Unlike American Idol, my new interest F1 is usually broadcast live on a Saturday and Sunday afternoon or evening.  I love watching F1.  Such an extreme sport.  To win a race, the car constructor has to do a fabulous job in constantly evolving the car throughout the season, the engineer has to closely monitor the car’s condition, traffic condition ahead and behind, weather condition, competitors’  lapping performance, and decide on the pit stop strategy, the driver has to perform and take care of the car during the race, and the team has to adapt to the different circuit challenges as they tour the world for the race.  Accidents may happen, safety car may come out, mistake can happen anytime, anywhere that some teams may be able to take advantage of while others cannot.  And it is a flawless execution of the entire team, from qualifying round to the actual race, that has a higher chance of a podium celebration.  F1 is not just some cars going round and round in circle.  These are the meanest machinery on Earth that can go beyond a speed of 300 km per hour.  It’s an extreme sport with rule of the game changes every year.

Extreme Spanish Verb

If day one of my Spanish Class was to start with Spanish Verbs, I would have quited long ago.  In Spanish, the verb ir means to go.  In English, we have the verb forms goes, going, went, and gone for the verb ‘go’.  What about its Spanish equivalent?  To conjugate the verb ir, we need two pages of text (see picture above).  Those highlighted in red are without any pattern.  You have to exercise brutal memorization for that one irregular verb.  And these conjugations are not often found in the dictionaries.  You have to know their model form.  Ir is one of the hardest verb to remember, I reckon.

Below is a straightforward regular verb vivir side-by-side with the English equivalent – to go – in four simple tenses.

  • (I) live, (you) live, (he/she) lives, (we) live, (you [plural]) live, (they) live / vivo, vives, vive, vivimos, vivís, viven
  • (I) lived, (you) lived, (he/she) lived, (we) lived, (you [p]) lived, (they) lived / viví, viviste, vivió, vivimos, vivisteis, vivieron
  • (I’ll) live, (you’ll) live, (he/she’ll) lives, (we’ll) live, (you’ll [p]) live, (they’ll) live / viviré, vivirás, vivirá, viviremos, viviréis, vivirán
  • (I’ve) lived, (you’ve) lived, (he/she has) lived, (we’ve) lived, (you’ve [p]) lived, (they’ve) lived / he vivido, has vivido, ha vivido, hemos vivido, habéis vivido, han vivido

That covers 25% of the verb conjugation for ‘to live’ in Spanish.  In case if you wonder, that is not the most amazing thing I have observed today.  In today’s class, our teacher Natalia played an audio clip on several repeats and Cynthia was able to pick up major sentences while I was staring into space.  That, is extreme Spanish, from me to you for me.  (OK, you have to be an American Idol fan to get this).

I look forward to Adam Lambert’s upcoming release that goes without saying, my anticipation does come with hopes and fears.  I look forward to a good F1 season though the memory of the last season has hardly faded and now we do it all over again.  I may still watch the next season of American Idol and most likely, I will drill deep into the land of extreme Spanish Verbs, this weekend, and do what I best in doing: extreme memorization.

Kelly Clarkson – All I Ever Wanted – Now, Give That Girl Some Love

Kelly Clarkson's All I Ever Wanted

In a way, I am not surprised to read that Kelly Clarkson’s latest single “My Life Would Suck Without You” made the biggest jump from 97 to 1 in the US Chart.  After her last effort “My December”, I am reminded that big stars don’t necessarily make great albums all the time.  Look at Leona Lewis’s “Best Kept Secret”.  I want some “Bleeding Love”.  The blessing and curse of such successful titles, all eyes are on our American Idol’s very first “Because of You”.

“My Life Would Suck Without You” has all the elements of being a chart topper.  The beat, the tune, and it’s catchy.  I watched her on TV performing that song on this season’s American Idol.  She had so much fun on the stage, that confidence.  Unlike her last album, she put more effort in collaborating with other songwriters and producers, which is good.  I think she is a greater singer than a songwriter.  And like her last album, and the one before, and before, her lyrics seem to continue to revolve around her past failed relationship.  I really wish someone give that girl some love and perhaps, she may make a happier album next time.  Although, of all people, I shall be able to understand why some artists are more attracted to certain emotions.

The album “All I Ever Wanted” has its hits and misses, in my book.  I bought the deluxe edition that comes with a DVD and an extra two bonus tracks.  It was a good decision because the bonus tracks are really good.  Looking at all the 16 tracks of pop / rock / dance genres, there are 5 I absolutely love, 4 I absolutely don’t get it, 5 I am lukewarm towards, the remaining 2 are so-so-ok-ish.  Of those the hits, most are written not by Kelly Clarkson.  For the misses, it is a split.  So what does that say?  Collaboration with other producers seems to pay off.  There is still room to work on song choices.

Hits and misses aside, Kelly Clarkson has such a God gifted voice.  And she can sing almost any genre, fast and slow.  She reminds me of the early days of Mariah Carey, whom I admire a lot.  I wish that “All I Ever Wanted” has a stronger song collection.  OK, Kelly Clarkson has established the fact that she likes to create a different album each time.  Kelly, you’ve just brought me back into the fan base and I am looking forward to what your next album would be like.  Country music please.

Below is the single “My Life Would Suck Without You”.  And I have found a really funky remixed version too.

It’s Not Who’ll Be In The American Idol Finale. Question Is: Which David Will Win?

American Idol

Provided that there will be no major screw-ups by the two David’s nor any kind of ‘divine intervention’ by the producers, the next few rounds of the American Idol will be exactly like the past few rounds – a series of agonizingly predictable episodes of everybody taking the musical chair of bottom positions except David … and David.  It is not even a remote question of who will be in the final two.  In the absence of a dark horse in this season, we may as well fast forward to the finale and get over and done with what this season ultimately offers – a glorious battle between the little David and the Goliath who also called David; a battle of the soothing pitch perfect young vocalist who specializes in ballads and voice improvisation against the more mature, stage dominator, and arguably the most original singer of all seasons; and if that is not enough, a pianist against a rock guitarist.  Who can really tell what the outcome will be this end May?  Does anyone really care?  I don’t because I love them both.

What American Idol desperately needs is a winner who will have a career after the show, to stand the testimony of time that the producers do discover talents all over US.  Season 1 winner Kelly Clarkson had some fantastic achievement on her first and second albums (2x and 6x platinum in US) but is on decline with her latest one.  Carrie Underwood from season 4 stands as the favorite star of the American Idol having a 7x platinum sales on her debut and for her latest work, a 2x platinum sales.  Recent Idols such as Taylor Hicks and Jordin Sparks are embarrassments to the franchise.  Even the runner-ups are not doing well except Daughtry who achieved a 4x platinum over his band’s debut.

So, who can save the franchise?  David Archuleta or David Cook?  To pick a promising recording artist, my money is on Cook.
I love to analyze the weekly results and the trends with my friends – those are also fans of the American Idol.  There are many factors that work with the ‘physics’ of this TV reality powerhouse.  Over 30+ million votes are cast (more towards the finale) by the audience each week and base on what?  Here are the down right dirty open secrets of American Idol that I am sure everyone knows but no one is crazy enough to pen down.  Please note that not one attribute is the governing factor when we attempt to spot the weekly trending.  We need to look at a bigger picture most of the time.

  • Sex: The only season that has contestants of the same sex in the final 3 was, I believe, season 3 with Fantasia, Jasmine, and Diana.  It is rare to see three or more consecutive elimination of the same sex.  In recent years, happened only once in season 6 and didn’t happen at all in season 5.  Season 4 was an odd one but by and large, opposite sex – between a viewer and a contestant – does attract.  So, is it as simple as …
  • Sex appeal: Not!  Fortunately, voters do usually prefer skills over appeal.  But how about last season’s great vocalist Melinda DooLittle?  That has to do with …
  • Growth: Viewers love to see growth.  We love to see not only the heroes but also the making of heroes.  And we love to be influenced by …
  • Judges’ preferences: Besides Paula’s comments, I think viewers do listen to judges’ reaction to each contestant’s performance.  I admit that I do not agree with them all the time.  However, if Randy and Simon are a fan of a someone, that someone is almost certainly going to sail through to the top.  But there is one more person I have not mentioned …
  • Ryan Seacrest: I once read a book (Tipping Point I think) on how a TV anchor’s approving smile could affect the voters’ choice of a presidential candidate.  I personally think that Ryan is a lot powerful than some may think.  At the end of the performance, before he announces the the number to vote, the questions he asks, the gestures he makes – all can give the contestants a little push to a certain direction, good or bad.  Surely you may ask: this is a singing competition and so …
  • Weekly performance: Matters of course.  More so in the initial stage.  But we all know that at times (remember this season who forgot the lyrics and who had to restart the performance but yet they did better than survived?), it is …
  • Fan-base: At work.  At later stage, it is almost all that matters.  And while we are at that, why don’t we examine the contestant’s …
  • Home town support: If you are from LA where celebrities are everywhere, you probably won’t have as much home town support as others (think Katharine McPhee).  That pub you often frequent, the school you grew up with, the church you go, they all add up.  OK.  What else are there to compare against others?  Could it be …
  • Genre: Can American Idol sustains, say, two rockers till late stage?  I think not.  Votes will have to be split amongst contestants of similar genres.  And if your rocker competitor get voted out of the competition, a chunk of the future votes may possibly land onto you and while we are in this topic …
  • Who get voted out last week: Assuming that voters will continue to vote even if the contestants they support leave the competition, I often challenge my mind on questions like: OK, now that Michael Johns get voted out, who would his supporters vote for next?  Imagine that if I do like Michael Johns, what do I like about him?  Talking about voters’ preferences, here is one piece of trivial thoughts that may or may not hold water.
  • Race (?!): 12.5% of Americans are black.  Majority of the blacks support Obama.  That aside, what about …
  • Age group:  Instinctively, I feel that a 21 years old girl may go crazy over the 25 years old David Cook than the 17 years old David Archuleta.  And last but not the least …
  • Divine Intervention: American Idol is a show business.  There are invisible hands behind the scene.  Maybe it is the producers; maybe someone or some entities have a stake on one of the contestants.  Regardless, you will be entertained.  And someone is getting paid for getting you entertained.  Oh, guess what?  I am not done yet.  One final last point (bad English, but who cares?) …
  • Unknown unknown and a game of personality: Cliché as it sounds, there are signals and information that are simply hard to pick up beforehand.  Scandals can spawn from nowhere (like the provocative photos of Antonella Barba in season 6 circulated in the Internet or the news of David Hernandez in the current season as a male stripper … for men).  And we have seen personality that works (David Archuleta’s boyish giggles), personality that should have worked (Kady Malloy’s impersonation of Britney Spears is just oh so funny), and personality that doesn’t.  Star quality to the singers is tantamount to the X-factor of the models – not only you have to born with it but also have to flaunt it in front of the crowd.  The show is called “American Idol” after all, instead of “So You Think You Can Sing”.

OK.  I purposely write this blog entry so long that 99.99% of my readers won’t reach this line.  And I am going to put my money where my mouth is and tell you who I think will win the American Idol.  Hence, even if I am wrong, only a 0.01% of the population may notice and I won’t end up with tons of comments posted here on May 22 to laugh at me.

Based on what I have observed so far, Cook will be the winner.  Cynthia will be upset.  And once again, we will support a different finalist.

What’s new?

And even if I am wrong, I will still stand by all that I have written here with perhaps some fine tuning – part and puzzle of the trending exercise.

Snippet Of My Life Episode 10 – Of Password, Viking Game, And American Idol

Oil Painting Morphed

Cynthia’s mother is leaving, my mother is arriving.  I think I need a holiday.

We all do something stupid, in the past.  I can’t explain why the paranoid.  I mean, those are just computer files and pictures and seemingly useless stuffs now that I am looking at them.  But back then, I put a protective password to every single file, every zip file that archived a bunch of protected files.  That was madness, paranoid, and stupid. I am desperate to retrieve an old Excel file, all of a sudden.

Till now, I am still trying to crack my brain for that password.  I know it is somewhere.  I shall call a hypnotist for help.

And in this digital pile of junk, I have uncovered more than I could remember, more than I want to remember.  Documents of (failed) business venture, diary, love letters, hate letters, letters that have never been sent, countless gaming programs I attempted to create including something as absurd as a Viking game (it is actually quite a good asymmetric game from York, UK, I think) – it was supposed to be a game of me against the machine, baby! Life of a geek in solitude, used to be.

I wonder.  Where did I manage to find time to do all these?

My world was pure in the beginning.  Before I left Hong Kong, I listened to classical music most of the time.  The first English pop song I fell in love was Madonna’s “Like a Prayer”.  The first pop cassette I owned was “Like a Prayer”.  Before Cynthia came to my world, I hardly watched any TV programs. Now, I am a …

How I love to watch American Idol!  Another new season, another something to look forward to, another something to cry upon.  There are already some eye candies whom I really like.  Even that boy with altitude … I mean … gosh, where did they find these people from?  Monday, “Dirt”, Tuesday, “Heroes”, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday “American Idol”, any day, “E!”, “[V]”.  To top up the list, there are always Oprah and America’s Top Something.

TV has taken control of my life!

OK, I am still cracking my brain for that password.  Cynthia’s mother is leaving, my mother is arriving.  I think I need more PJs.

Don’t ask.

Carrie Underwood’s Carnival Ride – Award Winning Albums Are Made Of This?

To qualify the title of this review, I did not watch that particular season of American Idol when Carrie won the competition, nor her new album “Carnival Ride” has won any awards yet – which can just be an eventuality. I do like her debut pop country album “Some Hearts” and that has won her a number of awards from Billboard to Grammy. Question is: is she getting better in this album?

I think it is a yes. The songs are all well crafted and it is hard to find a song that I do not like. All the songs stand out on their own and if I have to pick one that I like most, that would be “I Know You Won’t” or the title song “Wheel Of The World” perhaps (“Carnival Ride” appears in the lyrics of the last song). The video featured below is from her single “So Small” and it does convey an emotional story of a young girl and her parents beautifully well. In this album, you may notice that Carrie’s voice has grown stronger (through training I read) and the sustain of the ending notes is amazing just to listen to. Though some may not like this change in her technique, I do see where it may come from knowing that her favorite country singer is Martina McBride. Hopefully in her next album, she will be able to balance the lightness and strength of her voice better. If you are open to pop country music (such as Faith Hill), you may want to give this album a try.