So You Think You Can Dance — Top 4 Perform

13 09 2012

Tuesday night was the last time we could vote on our favorites, the finale sort-of version. One more episode to go–to crown not just one winner but two: America’s favorite girl and guy. Lending critiques to the evening’s performances are resident judges Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy. Award-winner Rob Marshall was in the house lending his extensive knowledge to the mix.

Dancers: Eliana and Cyrus
Choreographer: Jason Gilkison
Style: Paso Doble (Eliana is the matador and Cyrus the bull)
Song: “The Game Has Changed” by Daft Punk

My thoughts: Cyrus is one determined bull, but was ultimately defeated by the lovely Eliana who continues to bring her strength of character to each role she embodies. It was a great opening number and a very smart move on the part of the choreographer, knowing that Cyrus’ lack of technique would not work in this situation.

The judges: Nigel thought Eliana had secured her place in the industry. He pointed out some things to Cyrus to help him improve and commended him on good partnering. Mary said that Cyrus conquering the paso doble must have felt like skinny dipping with snapping turtles and was very masculine. Eliana was on fire tonight. Rob loved how Eliana threw away technique and focused on the story. He told Cyrus it was exciting to watch them let it happen in the moment.

Dancers: Tiffany and Will Wingfield (Season 4 All Star)
Choreographer: Sonya Tayeh
Style: Jazz
Song: “The Time is Now” by Moloko

My thoughts: Tiffany was really enjoying herself. She is a little spitfire with a lot of grace and strength. It was nice to see Will back, too. The music was a bit boring.

The judges: Mary that she was a star tonight. She loved it and felt there was great partnering. Rob thought Tiffany was great–fearless. Nigel said Tiffany is so little but her lines are so strong, so big. She is a tremendous dancer.

Dancers: Chehon and Eliana
Choreographer: Marat Daukayev
Style: Ballet
Song: “The Nutcracker Suite (Pas De Deux)” by Bruton APM Studios

My thoughts: FINALLY! The first time two ballet contestants were paired up with each other to actually do ballet. I had chills. The dance was exquisite. Poor Eliana almost had a wardrobe malfunction.

The judges: Rob said it showed their versatility. Eliana’s extensions were breath-taking. Nigel made mention that the choreographer, Marat Daukayev, was the principal dancer with the Kirov Ballet. He said that Chehon made it look so easy. Mary thought it was spectacular.

Dancers: Tiffany and Cyrus
Choreographer: Tessandra Chavez
Style: Lyrical hip-hop (story is that Cyrus has broken Tiffany’s heart).
Song: “Best Thing I Never Had” by Beyonce

My thoughts: It was a good pairing. I did get chills (or was it just the air conditioning?) I still have not been WOWED tonight.

The judges: Nigel mentioned that neither of them had been in the bottom 2 or 3 the entire competition. Both were so good at emotional routines and were incredible. Mary thought they killed it. Rob thought that they had “abandon”. He said it was his favorite so far of the evening.

Dancers: Tiffany, Cyrus, Chehon and Eliana
Choreographer: Tyce Diorio
Style: Quirky (is that a style?) I guess Broadway
Song: “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (District 78 remix) by KPM Studio Artists

My thoughts: That must have been the most difficult piece to showcase all their unique, diverse skills. I did not care for it personally, but I respect Tyce’s challenge.

Dancers: Chehon & Allison Holker
Choreographer: Stacey Tookey
Style: Contemporary
Song: “Leave” by Once–A New Musical (Original Broadway Cast)

My thoughts: My favorite so far tonight. Those leaps Chehon does are incredible. Allison’s face was so full of expression. I think Chehon is finally peaking, taking in all the feedback he has been given and applying it.

The judges: They received a standing ovation. Mary had a WOOOOO yell. She said that Chehon was free at last, free at last, and that his performance ability was growing and growing. Rob thought the height on his leaps was unbelievable. Allison was fierce. Nigel thought Allison should be an actress. With Allison, Chehon came alive.

Dancers: Eliana and Tiffany
Choreographer: Ray Leeper
Style: Pole dancing? (Broadway)
Song: “When You’re Good to Mama” by Chicago–The Musical (1996 Broadway Revival Cast)

My thoughts: I did not care for it. I understand it is difficult and some of the moves defied gravity. It’s okay; one does not have to like all the dances.

The judges: Another standing ovation. Rob (who won an Academy Award in 2002 for the movie Chicago) said he was trying to imagine Queen Latifah doing that. Mary said the two ladies were extraordinary. It was fun and sassy. Nigel said he could not say anything that would not get him into trouble.

Dancers: Cyrus and Chehon
Choreographer: Sonya Tayeh
Style: Jazz — (story is their struggle for the top)
Song: “Fangs (District 78 Remix)” by Little Red Lung

My thoughts: These are always weird dances. They are either hits or misses. Benji and Travis’ dance of the nerds was memorable. Alex Wong’s dance with Twitch was memorable. This was okay for me. Chehon is definitely the better dancer but Cyrus always tries to keep up and should be commended for that as well.

The judges: No standing ovation this time. Nigel thought Sonya choreographed this well. Cyrus has improved so much as a dancer and he is so proud. Chehon has also grown as a person and is his favorite dancer. Both were inspirational. Mary thought both have had a tremendous journey. Rob felt like they were lifting each other up as dancers always do.

Dancers: Eliana and Alex Wong
Choreographer: Travis Wall
Style: Contemporary
Song: “Without You” by Harry Nilsson

My thoughts: Two ballet dancers doing contemporary. Usually I have chills with every dance Travis choreographs, but this one not. The dancing was awesome, but I think I would have chosen the slower Mariah Carey version of the song. I think that is what was not resonating with me.

The judges: Were on their feet. Rob said it was poetry. They (Eliana and Alex) got lost in it and we (the judges) did, too. Nigel said it was his favorite routine of the night and that Eliana was his favorite of all time on the series. (Nigel–Melanie Moore will be very hurt). Mary said it was her favorite of the night as well. Eliana had extraordinary passion that oozes from her body.

Dancers: Tiffany and Chehon
Choreographer: Dmitry Chaplin
Style: Rumba
Song: “Love Me Tender” by Adam Levy and Norah Jones

My thoughts: Wooooo Tiffany! You have been cute, but this was sexy and sophisticated. It must have been hard to come out and dance like that after hearing all this gush about Eliana. Well done young lady. Dmitry said during the rehearsal shots that this dance you have to feel uncomfortable watching it. Was I? No. And I think that was an issue with Chehon. He needed to bring more Latin steam.

The judges: Mary thought it was beautiful. She did not believe the chemistry but the movement was gorgeous. Tiffany was fabulous. Rob thought it was sexy. He thought the connection was beautiful. Nigel said this dance was so much sexier than the pole dance. He commented to Chehon that they couldn’t find a shirt with buttons for him? Mary laughed and said, “Dmitry was the choreographer!”

Dancers: Cyrus and Twitch (Glitch meets tWitch)
Choreographer: Christopher Scott (with the assistance of Madd Chadd, an animator)
Style: Animator (story is they are robots in a secret lab).
Song: “Like A Criminal” by District 78

My thoughts: THAT ROCKED!!!! It was so Terminator-like. Rise of the Machines. Watch out. My favorite routine of the night.

The judges: Standing ovation. Rob said it was crazy; the two guys were superstars. Mary loved it. Nigel wanted people to know that tWitch worked so hard at that because he is not an animator. Hip hop and animation are so very different. He mentioned that Christopher Scott felt they were world class in what they do.

Then Nigel really upset me. Cyrus is having a moment, the time of his life, and Nigel drops a spirit-crushing blow to Cyrus: I am supporting Chehon for my own personal reasons. And goes on and on about it. That Nigel “loved his bones, but won’t vote for him.” Nigel has been a mentor to Cyrus. Nigel’s opinions hold great weight to Cyrus. I remember thinking, “Why don’t you just tear out his heart and stomp on it, Nigel?” Did you really HAVE to say that? Could you have just critiqued his performance and left it at that?

I have always respected Nigel. In that moment, I lost a generous portion of that respect. Did Nigel just have a gaffe on live TV where he said something he should not have? It reminded me of his comments last year to the two guys that one of the girls would win the competition for which he later apologized. Again a spirit-crushing moment to Tadd and Marko. Or are you trying to manipulate voters? Either way, it is not cool, dude. Nigel, I love your bones but that move made me not vote for either one. I do not appreciate being manipulated into voting.

Solos

Eliana danced to “Passacaglia” by Johann Johannsson. Interestingly, she said in her interview that she did not want to be typecast as just ballet, but then she does a ballet number. It’s beautiful but I see no risk-taking here. Cyrus decided to go with something we’ve already seen–his solo during Vegas week to “Holy Ghost (Helicopter Showdown and Sluggo Remix)” by Messinian. It would have been nice to have seen something different. Tiffany danced to “I Believe” by Fantasia. With her, too, I think I have seen all these moves in previous solos. Chehon’s solo was the best. He danced to “How It Ends” by DeVotchKa. I liked the use of a prop other than a costume. I liked it already. His solo incorporated all that he has learned and not just another ballet routine, which is his strength. It was risky and I admired him for it.

Guest Performance

A B-boy dancer named Jean Sok from Paris, France took the stage. The young man only has one leg and uses crutches sometimes. It was a beautiful combination of strength and grace. I stopped breathing for a moment. He danced to the song, “Expression” by Helen Jane Long.

Who will be the winners?  I think it could go either way.





So You Think You Can Dance — Top 6 Performance

4 08 2011

After tomorrow night’s show, we will be down to our final 4 contestants and our season finale show. Last week we said goodbye to our favorite J’s: Jordan and Jess. Each was the consummate professional full of gratitude the journey and for the fans. Even for a brief moment when Jordan looked like she was about to fall apart, she took a deep breath and remained positive and hopeful for her career, a trail both will blaze after the tour.

Top6

2011 So You Think You Can Dance Top 6 --Season 8

Guest judges for this evening were the lovely Christina Applegate, and the loquacious Lil’C. They discussed the stupendous success of National Day Dance on July 30, 2011. Perhaps it needs to be renamed “International Dance Day” as people across the world celebrated dance, including physicists in Switzerland. Although not shown on the show this evening, even Vancouver, BC got into the fun.

Dancers: Melanie and all-star Twitch Boss
Song: “Roman’s Revenge”
Artist: Nicki Minaj featuring Lil Wayne
Choreographers: Napoleon & Tabitha Dumo (aka NappyTabs)
Style: Hip-hop
Story: Little Red Riding Hood with a twist

Melanie did well, but I’ve seen some of the other ladies do a better job with hip-hop. The routine was weird. I might have liked it better if in the end she would have slay the big bad wolf versus tame him, but that is the choreography and not the dancers. I think she might have needed to be lower to the ground. Lil’C felt she got off to a rough start but found her ghetto groove and ascended. Christina agreed with Lil’C. Mary felt she was on fire. Nigel loved the dance as well. He confronted internet allegations that Melanie has never been given a dance out of her style, but he dispelled that quickly, saying she was good at everything. Itsy bitsy problem with that. If they are randomly drawing dance styles out of a hat, and last week the talk on the internet was the biggest it’s been about this issue, and she suddenly gets hip-hop, it doesn’t help the argument that these dances are random. It is, however, one of these no-win situations. You will have a group of people who will believe it and some that will not, and like politics, there is no changing anybody’s mind about it.

Dancers: Sasha and all-star Kent Boyd
Song: “Fool on Me”
Artist: Me’Shell Ndegeocello
Choreographer: Tyce DiOrio
Style: Contemporary
Story: Two people who have hit a wall in their relationship and the emotions you go through when someone hurts you.

During the rehearsal taping about the song, Sasha began to cry. The meaning of the dance runs deep for her and I was sure it would come through in her dance–and it did. I had goosebumps but I lost my breath at the moment of the lift that had her legs upside down on the wall, a great symbolism for how upside-down you can feel when you are hurting inside when someone you love hurts you. You love them, you hate them, you want them stay, you want them to go. All the feelings are taken the n’th level. Sometimes you can bust through that wall and sometimes you cannot. I love when Tyce choreographs dances like this (like the dance he created for his friend who had cancer, danced who beautifully by Ade and Melissa). They have a way of reaching a place deep inside your soul that is universal to everyone. Christina described the difference between technicians of dance and dancers like Sasha who can affect your heart, and thanking her for being so courageous as to share with us whatever it was that hurt her so badly in this life. Mary called her intoxicating and got all choked up about the move of when Kent threw her to the floor, and that it only matters that you get back up. When she said that, I was thinking of Mary’s courageous battle with her thyroid cancer. Nigel also complimented Tyce, as did Mary, at this routine being at his best, as was Sasha. Sasha then won Nigel’s “favorite” dancer something that he ping-pongs between Melanie and Sasha. Lil’C was trying not to cry, having identified personally with the dance with experiences in his own life. He wishes that he could have worked with Sasha this season and called her phenomenal. Oh, and did I mention, first kiss on tonight’s show. The kissing season, season 8.

Dancers: Marko and all-star Janette Manrara
Song: “Zorongo” (Traditional)
Artists: Antonia Gomez, Ely “La Gambita”, Guillermo Basilisco and Paco Pena
Choreographer: Dmitry Chaplin
Style: Paso doble
Story: Marko is the matador and Janette is an activist trying to keep him away from killing the bull. (I laughed).

I didn’t recognize Dmitry with his beard. Has it been that long? You have to been pretty beautiful and passionate to sway a matador from his mission. How could Janette be ignored? I had a problem at first with that story stuck in my head since we are so used to the woman being the bull or the cape, but after a minute, I concentrated on the actual dance and let the story go. After Cat drew comparisons to the matador costume and Mary Murphy’s shoulder pads, she complimented him for being spot-on at the arrogance that was necessary for the dance. She pointed out that he lost his footing from time-to-time, but most of the time, he nailed it. Nigel loved the twirls that mimicked the movement of the matador’s cape (as did Mary). However, Nigel said it left him feeling cold. He was looking for more passion. I think it is difficult to bring a ballroom routine up against a brilliantly danced contemporary piece. It’s like coming back from San Diego Comic Con. You are on this incredible high and then–CRASH–everything around you seems so boring and mundane. Lil’C loved his stoic performance which was necessary to this particular dance. Christina wanted him to drop it down a little (lower in his crotch level), but loved the bravado.

They took a break in the action to listen to messages from home. The love and pride of all the contestants’ families touched my heart and my tear ducts. Then Ricky took the stage to dance his solo to “After Tonight” by Justin Nozuka. It was lovely.

Dancers: Tadd and all-star Ellenore Scott
Song: “The Gulag Orkestar”
Artist: Beirut
Choreographer: Sonya Tayeh
Style: Contemporary?/Jazz?
Story: A period piece where everyone was prim and proper, but once they touch, everything gets thrown out the window and becomes with wild, reckless, lustful.

Sonya Tayeh is the goddess of strange and Ellenore was the perfect all-star to fill that role. I was not feeling the passion that Sonya demands from her dancers coming from Tadd. The spin on the chandelier was reminiscent of Cirque de Soleil. It was an interesting prop. Nigel had no words and said he felt like it needed more time to develop, that he was left “hanging.” (Oh, Nigel, you make me laugh). Lil’C complimented Sonya’s talent of showcasing a dancer’s unique abilities. He felt like Tadd was just going through the movements instead of making them last a lifetime. Christina likes the dirtier side of dance, and complimented Tadd that he is a b-beat pointing his toes and how great is that. Mary felt Tadd was still growing and complimented Sonya’s trust in doing such a dangerous thing with a prop.

Next was Caitlynn’s mom sharing that she one day said she was going to be on this show. Via the internet, Caitlynn’s dad, away on business, shared his pride. Caitlynn then performed her solo to “What’s Love Got to Do With It” by Katie Thompson. Afterwards, Caitlynn was crying, moved from the words from her parents, the song, the moment or all the above.

Dancers: Ricky and all-star Jaimie Goodwin
Song: “Inside These Lines”
Artist: Trent Dabbs
Choreographer: Dee Caspary
Style: Contemporary
Story: A couple trying to stay together, but he feels her slipping away so he tries to control her. (I call this The Puppetmaster.)

I noticed that when Ricky was close to Jaimie during the routine, he didn’t extend himself as you would see him do when they were apart. Perhaps he was concentrating on the sticks and not hurting his partner. While the sticks did enhance the routine, you can’t forsake the dance for the prop. At the end of the dance, Jaimie did what I was hoping–she took the sticks and threw them to the ground. Lil’C gave props to him and the props (and Cat Deeley just stole my line, damn). As usual Lil’C had a mouthful, “What a magically, magnificent puppeteer of physically rhythmic artistry you are.” In other words, buckness. Christina said he was a beautiful dancer, but wanted to help him grow and said he does not always dance with the clearest intention, like a push and a pull, like when he reached for Jaimie, it was harder to let her go away from him. That would help take him up another notch, which was great advice. Mary added, “All of that” plus that it was beautiful, free-flowing movement. Nigel loved the story of the dance from Dee. The only advice Nigel had to help Ricky was that he wants him to feel the movement more in his gut because he is so up and high in his dancing.

Tadd’s parents, and his entire Filipino community, are very proud of his accomplishments (and the first story that did not make me cry but smile). His song selection also made me laugh, “We Speak No Americano” by Yolanda B Cool and DCup. Tadd’s solos have always been interesting in that he is a b-boy and he chooses all these songs from eras past that make for a weird and wonderful combination. It has become his signature.

Returning from the break, Sasha’s solo was shown but not before her parents got to boast about their beautiful, bubbly baby girl. I smiled, too, when I saw Sasha picked “Teeth” by Lady Gaga after she received such high praise from Lady Gaga last week (and her shoe!). Again she did a terrific job.

Dancers: Caitlynn and all-star Pasha Kovalev
Song: “Drop It Low (District 78 Remix)”
Artist: Kat DeLuna
Choreographer: Dmitry Chaplin
Style: Samba
Story: None, just sexy, great music and being sexy.

Pasha and Dmitry behind one dance? Wow. Double boiler kind of hot. Was it sexy? YES IT WAS! Was there great music. YES , THERE WAS! And was it really sexy? SIZZLING. At that precise moment, I desperately wished to have use of the communication stones that are used in the show Stargate Universe (where people can swap consciousness with another body–yes, I’m a geek). I wanted to be dancing with Pasha. Be still my heart. Wait, this is about Caitlynn. She did a fabulous job. I have to remind myself she is just a senior in high school (or was). Christina loved it. Mary thought it was great, especially on the reverse samba rolls. Her only criticism were some of her facial expressions. Nigel ad Lil’C had similar advice.

Marko’s mother was very emotional about his journey to the show. Dancing to “Wonderful World” By James Morrison, Marko combined a lot of technique with acrobatics. I always enjoy his solos.

Then Melanie’s mother had a message for her. Instead of talking, she sang; instead of walking, she danced. Melanie chose to dance to “Cracks (Flux Pavilion Remix)” by Freestylers featuring Belle Humble. Some truth rang to me with the name “Belle” and “Humble” to describe Melanie. Her solos have become more complex as she incorporates what she has learned over the weeks into her dance. She is both beautiful and humble.  It was the best solo of the night.

Dancers: Sasha and Ricky
Song: “Schoolin’ Life”
Artist: Beyonce
Choreographer: Kumari Suraj
Style: Waacking
Story: None.

Waacking is a new style of dance to SYTYCD, the origins from Los Angeles in the 1970’s. It’s about the individual and who you are right now in your life. It’s about skill, precision and control. After watching the routine, it does bring fond memories of the 70’s back to me. Sasha was great; Ricky less so. He was too stiff once again. I would have hoped he would have taken to heart the earlier critique and applied it to this dance. Mary never liked this type of dance until Samara “Princess” Lockeroo, who was the first to audition and win to a ticket to Vegas with this type of dance. She felt like Sasha had the edge in the dancing. Both were out of their styles, but neither could take it to Princess Lockeroo’s level. Nigel says when Ricky is thinking about dancing, he does lose a little bit. Then Nigel took a comment that they said to Caitlynn and applied it to Sasha, saying she did not have to act sexy because she is sexy. Oops! Lil’C wishes both of them would have enjoyed it more because he felt they were so focused on the steps and speed. Christina enjoyed it and thought perhaps they could have “whacked it harder.” She’s so funny.

Dancers: Melanie and Tadd
Song: “(Where Do I Begin) Love Story (Away Team Mix)
Artist: Shirley Bassey
Choreographer: Spencer Liff
Style: Broadway/Jazz?
Story: A rehearsal within a rehearsal. Tadd uses Melanie’s crush on him to bring out the best dance in her, but she discovers her feelings are not reciprocated.

They paired well together. It was a lovely dance that did not affect me on any emotional level but just was fun to watch. The use of the mirror where Melanie’s hands touched it and it got these weird distortions to it made me think, yes, just like the relationship between this dancer in the dance and the choreographer in the dance, played by Tadd. The relationship is not what it seems to be to Melanie’s character. I look for meaning sometimes that may or may not be in subtle things. Lots of prop use tonight. Cat compared it to “Black Swan” (which I have not seen yet). Nigel complimented Melanie on her solo as the best solo across all the seasons. She is not only the original beast, but a great actress and a great dancer. She now stole Sasha’s earlier place of the evening and is now Nigel’s favorite again. I think if SYTYCD could have a tie, he would be happy having the two of them there. To Tadd he said, “…to say you didn’t suck is a compliment.” He pointed out the things he did well in the routine. Lil’C says Melanie has a quiet fire and Melanie is EXTREMELY buck. Lil’C also wanted to give accolades to her solo performance that it was so beefy. And as an afterthought, he told Tadd he was growing by leaps and bounds and to continue doing so. Christina also commented on her solo, saying they were all banging on the table. She described Melanie’s performance as being better than that of Donna McKechnie in “A Chorus Line.” Tadd continues to surprise Christina with his technique since he is a b-boy. Mary says America has fallen in love with them and they are brilliant in their styles. She got all choked up that she was able to be here for this wonderful season to see it.

Dancers: Caitlynn and Marko
Song: “Heavy in Your Arms”
Artist: Florence and the Machine
Choreographer: Sonya Tayeh
Style: Jazz
Story: Marko is a controlling, overbearing man and Caitlynn is trying to break free.

Perfect song to close the show. This was dynamite and gave me goosebumps. It was much better than the Puppeteer routine performed by Ricky. My breaths felt heavy of the weight of this relationship. The judges were standing in ovation of their performance. Lil’C thought this was double-hashtag buck (#buck #buck or ##buck)? “Reckless and convicted, it was murderous,” according to Lil’C. Translation: Lil’C loved it. Christina makes Marko join the beasts. Christina believes that was Caitlynn’s moment (maybe, but she had one with Mitchell, too). Mary thought it was Caitlynn’s best routines ever. She brought the grit to it and brought it to another level. Marko is Mary’s favorite dancer (I bet Mary and Nigel have a friendly bet going on the side as to who is going to win). Nigel thought this routine redeemed Sonya from her earlier Cirque de Soleil choreography. Regarding Caitlynn, she came of age today, he felt. She is a brilliant dancer. Marko is sensation. Cat added, “But you’re very pretty, too” to Marko.

Common sense would dictate that Marko, Melanie, and Sasha will be in the top 4. Up in the air is whether Tadd or Ricky gets into the final 4.  Or we could use any number of science-fiction shows and their technologies to merge Ricky and Tadd into 1 dancer to get Radd or Ticky so we don’t have to make up our minds.  Of course, it would be temporary….unless…well, they are wearing a red shirt that evening.  What do you say?

Stay tuned tomorrow about more news regarding Miranda’s and Jordan’s fan clubs and what they are doing to show them their love.





My American Idol Finale Trip — The Final Chapter

3 06 2011

Glicel and I retired to our room after the American Idol finale on Wednesday night. I had already received a phone call from my Twitter buddy, Robert Burnett, who is currently directing episodes of Femme Fatales on Cinemax. Having missed our dinner reservations for LA Market by Kerry Simon (a Gordon Ramsay restaurant, where Nona Sivley was now working, winner of Hell’s Kitchen Season 8), I had booked a reservation for 9 p.m. on May 25th after the Idol finale. Rob would meet us there.

After seeing that the menu did not have a dish with vegetables with nuts, I opted for the bricked organic chicken with organic farro, braised beet greens and citrus jus.

Chicken

My chicken dish.

Glicel had the special-recipe meatloaf with mashed potatoes.

Meatloaf

Secret recipe meatloaf

Rob had grilled beef tenderloin with Yukon au gratin, onion, smoked bacon and red wine jus.

Tenderloin

Beef tenderloin

Ryan was our server. We each gave a little sample of our dish. I was a little disappointed when I took some chicken off the bone and it was a big pile of fat. There was not much of the chicken, but when I did actually get the chicken, it did melt in my mouth. However, after tasting the beef tenderloin, I had wished I had ordered that.

Glicel has a S’mores fettish right now, so we indulged. We reached consensus that there was no beating the original.

Smores

Upscale S'mores

My friend’s son wanted to go into filmmaking (surprise to me because I thought he wanted to be a musician) and she asked Rob a lot of questions. Rob was kind enough to offer his advice. The time went by very quickly; he had an early morning call so we parted ways.

Rob Glicel and me

Rob Burnett, Glicel, and me.

Texas is hotter than Hades right now (reached 100 degrees today). Even with the heat on (yes we turned on the heater in our room), I was still cold so the hotel was kind enough to bring me up a blanket. I went to the business center to find it had closed but they had a few computers outside the actual room. I used the opportunity to post on Twitter and Facebook and to print out our boarding passes for our flight home. On the way back up the elevator, I met two radio station personalities from Houston. I was trying to find a few of these people during the trip, and here they are in my elevator. I took the opportunity to explain who I was and when the Idols came into town, if they were interviewing them, I would love the opportunity to ask them questions or just say hello. They gave me their business cards and told me to contact them. They seemed to know me, or at least know my name, which was odd, but I had done a lot of promotional marketing for our April Rock Autism event benefitting my son’s school, “Including Kids”, so it is possible they remembered it from an email I sent. Hope lives that I will get to meet James Durbin soon.

It was 2-3 a.m. once again before I fell asleep and was up at about 7 a.m. We decided to go back to LA Market for breakfast where we opted for the buffet. We inquired if Nona was working, but we were told she would not be in until the afternoon. After breakfast, I ran down to the business center to post on Twitter and Facebook and mail off some things to home that would exceed the liquid limits on the airplane ride home. I also stopped in the gift shop where my new friend was excited to share her news: She was able to go to the finale herself and she smuggled in a camera. Her pictures were fantastic. We left in our taxi around 10:15 or so for our 12:45 flight home. I expressed my exuberant thanks to the taxi driver for the more peaceful ride to the airport.

Tired campers

A Rob-Burnett-inspired photo

Hallway

I pictured a big wheel and two ghosts.

We went and checked out some areas of the hotel we had no time to explore.

Pool

And it was heated.

Nokia

Nokia from the pool-eye's view.

Marriott

The opposite corner's view

Our flight was just a few minutes late. Although my itinerary said Glicel and I were sitting together, the boarding passes indicated we were not. Instead, I got to sit to this inspiring 20-something-year-old named Donnell. He is a hip-hop music producer who had been in LA for a few months, and was just now returning home to Atlanta. We talked music for awhile and I let him listen to some of Houston’s local talent that I had on my IPod. Our discussions turned more philosophical and I was in awe at his wisdom, an old soul. I don’t think I ever did this in my life with someone I met on the plane, but I gave him my email address and asked him to keep in touch. I have met some wonderful people in my lifetime on a plane, even held the hand of a woman an entire flight who was going to her grandbaby’s funeral. The life stories I have heard have enriched my life. I normally thank them for sharing and wish them a wonderful life, but Donnell was different. He actually emailed me on Sunday and I was tickled. We plan to keep in touch. We had a very bumpy ride into and out of Phoenix, the kind of turbulence that makes your stomach drop. This turbulence was NOTHING compared to a flight from New Orleans to Houston when there were tornado warnings out in the area of the Houston airport. That was the scariest flight I ever took.

The next segment of our flight was both booked solid and late arriving (for us to even board). They asked people who were in loading zones 3, 4, and 5 for boarding to step forward and check their bags so they could get the plane boarded quickly so we could take off as soon as possible. Only five stepped forward. We were rewarded with an upgrade to zone 2 boarding. Because people did not listen to the airline personnel, when they tried to bring their luggage on board, it was packed, so they had to go back out of the plane to check their bags, causing a further delay in the flight. I let out a heavy sigh. If people do not cooperate voluntarily to a direction or suggestion that will ultimately make things better for all, everyone else suffers.

Glicel and I did sit together this flight, but our attention was directed to the young mother flying with her 2-month-old child. The baby was wonderful through the flight. She was on a one-way flight from Phoenix to Houston to live closer to home. As we were close to landing in Houston, she informed us of a family member serving in the armed forces and was stationed in Korea and also had had a baby. She was missing him. I thanked her for his service, noting that the families of those serving in the military deserve our gratitude as well. With Memorial Day around the corner, I shared that my father-in-law, would be turning 90 on that Saturday, had served in World War II on the naval vessel Daniel T. Griffin in the Pacific campaign. My father was in the Navy during the Korean War, but I believe he was stationed in Europe and did not see any actual fighting. Glicel and I helped her get out of her seat and get her baby fastened safely into stroller in the jetway. As we parted, I gave her a big hug. I do hug people all the time. It’s the only way I can let out all of the emotion I feel inside sometimes.

We arrived about an hour late, but Glicel’s husband was there to pick us up at baggage claim. Somebody in that area was having a serious flatus problem; I had to hold my breath until we got outside. When I got home, I realized the only one who missed me was my golden retriever.

What a whirlwind trip it was! We encountered a few hiccups, but overall I had the time of my life. The trip turned out exactly the way the trip was meant to turn out. Los Angeles’ weather was a glorious reprieve from the oppressive Texas heat. We left our sign for James Durbin at Nokia; I can always hope that someone may have given it to him, particularly because of the nature of the sign (with all the autism ribbons on it). The recorded Idol finale will never be erased from my DVR; all I have to do is replay it, and it will take me right there again.

Many thanks to be given: To Fox Broadcasting for not only developing the program, but for offering this as a prize within our group. To my local station, Fox 26 Houston, for the recommendation to be a part of this wonderful VIP program. To the JW Marriott LA Live staff. To Jessica and Scott who helped to make this adventure even more fun. To Rob for coming out to dinner with us even though he was likely tired. To US Airways for getting us from point A to point C in one piece and for the friendliness of their employees. To my friend, Glicel, who accompanied me. To my husband for working it out so I could go. To my sweet Patrick who did not give my husband any trouble while I was gone. To my friends for putting up with me during those weeks between winning and going. And to anybody whose name I did not catch, thank you as well.





American Idol Finale — Day 2, Part B: The Show

1 06 2011

Although the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles seats 7100, the theater seems very intimate with a good view from every chair. This was my ticket:

Ticket

My ticket for American Idol Finale

And I was seated about where I have the dot on the chart:

Nokia

Sat in the blue section, right side, where the dot is.

We entered about 3:45 p.m. The production staff was on stage. I thought maybe Comfort from So You Think You Can Dance might have been one of the choreographers on the stage, too, but we were too far away for me to make a positive identification. I had forgotten binoculars! Those WERE allowed into the theater. Bicycles were practicing behind them, which immediately brought Arcade Fire’s Grammy performance to mind. To my right in the mezzanine section was a sign for one of the contestants with battery-operated lights. I immediately realized the poor choice I made in the color selection of the sign for James. The cameras would never see it. To our left in the LOGE section was a group of young ladies holding up individual-letter balloons that spelled out S C O T T Y. Very creative.

I got to meet some more Fox people who were sitting around us. Everyone was so wonderful. I hope my excitement did not get on their nerves.

Corey is the warm-up guy for American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance. He sounds like Ryan Seacrest. Before the show began, they introduced the judges: Randy Jackson, then Jennifer Lopez who was in a stunning gown, and then Steven Tyler. Then we were live.

Benefitting greatly from on-line voting this year, the vote for Scotty versus Lauren brought in a record 122 million votes. Decked-out in white, reminiscent of the David vs. David year, Lauren and Scotty took the stage. The group performed the Lady Gaga song, “Born This Way” and it sounded great in the theater.

During the commercial break, people were going in and out from the audience. Corey asked everyone to get up on their feet, especially towards the end of a song.

Coming into the theater on the orchestra level was a bald guy with a spiked costume. My friend was yelling to me that was James Durbin, but I was looking at the bald guy saying “no it’s not.” (She was looking in a different place). I had to ask Scott and Jessica with whom James was singing (Judas Priest)

Another thing I noticed when I watched it back on DVR was when they were making note of someone in the audience, like Adam Lambert or David Cook, it would not show up on the screens at Nokia (unless I totally missed it because there was so much going on).

Next up was Jacob Lusk with Gladys Knight and Kirk Franklin of Fort Worth, singing “I Smile.”

Casey Abrams and Jack Black were up next singing “Fat Bottomed Girls.” When they were head-to-head at the end of the song, I really expected Casey to kiss him, like his JLo move earlier in the season, although probably not as soft. What you missed on camera was Casey mauling Jack Black with a giant bear hug. I could see Casey pursuing a career in comedy (I mean that as a compliment).

The girls were up next with a medley of Beyonce songs. It sounded good in the audience; however, after I returned home and listened to it on DVR, it did not sound so wonderful. It gave me some perspective though on why the judges think everything sounds fantastic. Also the crowd was going bonkers, but on TV, the sound of the crowd was sort of muted. It reminded me of the voice-sensitive microphones they use for news broadcasts where you can hear the voice of the reporter, but the background noise is muffled out.

Houston-girl Beyonce looked and sounded fabulous. I remember saying that she must have been glued in tight for that dress and I worried for her for a wardrobe malfunction. Once she took center-stage, she was so awesome she made the girls look like amateurs.  Beyonce is a goddess.  That is all.

At this point, I was very surprised how slowly time was passing which was a good thing for me. I also felt sorry for my seat-neighbors hoping I hadn’t ruptured their eardrums with my high-octave screeching and apologize to anyone sitting behind me about my dancing. I was in the zone.

During the commercial breaks, Ryan or Corey (I really could not tell their voices apart) engaged the audience members, threw them T-shirts, and other things like that.

I was expecting Haley to sing with Lady Gaga, so I was very surprised to see Mr. Tony Bennett. Then TLC was up, but I did not recognize them at first either.

When “Live Like You’re Dying” was announced (misheard for the real song title “Like You Were Dying), I thought, “Cool, Scotty is going to be singing with Kris Allen.” Embarrassing how little country music I know. It was Tim McGraw.

Another commercial and then more bad singing which was then reprieved by Marc Anthony singing “Aguanile” by Hector Lavoe, with Jennifer Lopez dancing and Sheila E in the house. My friend Glicel later explained the song. It was about black magic and calling out the evil spirits, which would explain the JLo booty shaking.  

Another shocking guest star appearance was Tom Jones after a medley of his superhits by the boys.  

After this I had what I’d like to call my Disney-overwhelm moment. To understand, back in the late 1990’s I went on another girls’ trip with a friend, her sister, and her friend to Disney. I had so many years at that point of caregiving and throwing myself into my son’s treatment program. I was working 40-60 hours a week for my employer, working 40-60 hours a week with him and running him to occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech therapy in between. The first night we were at Disneyworld, seeing the fireworks, hearing the music, not believing that I was actually having this fun time that I desperately needed with these wonderful friends, the flood gates to my emotions just opened up and I found myself sobbing. Having gotten only 6 hours of sleep between Monday and Wednesday, being there, hearing the music, getting a break from my son, my eyes began to well up with unexpected tears. Since I was not anticipating having this moment, I did not wear waterproof mascara. The fear of having raccoon eyes quickly quelled my emotional overload.

While the stage was being set up for Lady Gaga, Ford did their tribute with the teachers. Three cheers for them. Our teachers in this nation deserve some recognition. Not only did the school get money, but the teachers got a car. Then we learned Scotty and Lauren could have a Ford car of their choice and consensus around where we were sitting was that Scotty would get a pick-up truck–I’m thinking F-150.

Lady Gaga is a terrific performer, but the simulated sex and jumping off the edge of a cliff with Mark Kanemura (from So You Think You Can Dance) in the song “The Edge of Glory” were not something for young kids’ eyes. Although the age limit was no one under 6 allowed, there were some kids younger than 6 in that crowd. At home, you have the choice as a parent to turn off the television; attending a concert that you trust is family-friendly, she should have had the good sense to modify her act. When Adam Lambert was touring Indonesia, he was asked to tone down the concert and he respectfully did. It goes back to the age-old argument that yes, you have first amendment rights and a right to creative expression, but you have to use that right with responsibility. It was nice to see Clarence Clemmons, however.

Lauren sang a great duet with Carrie Underwood “Before He Cheats” and just like Beyonce, the star shined. However, I give her major props for trying to keep up especially with her vocal cords problem.

After more “youngest contestant” jokes, Beyonce performed yet again. I could never get enough Beyonce.

During the commercial, they emphasized to the audience to make sure the aisles were clear. The Spiderman performance required very precise movements and they wanted to ensure the safety of both the acrobats and the audience. When Bono and the Edge and Reeve Carney (the guy who sings in the play on Broadway) took the stage, I slapped my head and feigned fainting. When I got home and watched the performance on playback, wouldn’t you know that there was some idiot in the audience who thought the rules did not apply to her and tried to touch one of the acrobats when he came down into the audience.

After another commercial break, Steven Tyler came on and performed “Dream On.” It was too short; I was left wanting more.

Coming back from another commercial break, Scotty was named the winner. As he broke down and cried, my heart again welled up with tears. Scotty and Lauren were both very humble and very down-to-earth kids; if James could not win, then either of them would have been the next best thing.

There were congratulations to the band and then the crew with the show signing off. I wanted to stay in the audience as long as possible (until we were kicked out) but Glicel wanted to get t-shirts before they sold out, so out we went.

After obtaining t-shirts, we exited the Nokia and saw a bunch of lights and excitement over at the Fox tent, so we went to investigate. However, too many people were smoking, and I could not tolerate it, so we went back to the hotel.

Next up: The rest of Day 2 and Day 3