Wednesday, April 29, 2009

On Looking Like A Good Singer

Everyone has had a first reaction to the Susan Boyle appearance on the variety show "Britain's Got Talent." Whether it's disgust at Boyle herself, or laughing at her look, or being moved by her singing voice, or a combination of all kinds of emotions, no doubt you've got some kind of reaction. And obviously, to get almost 50,000,000 hits on YouTube, a reaction of some kind is being generated. Here's my reaction: This is all Madonna's fault.

Yes, Boyle can sing, and that's not up for debate. My problem is with everyone being so surprised that she can sing. The gasps and giggles from the audience when Boyle walked out on stage came from a place inside those folks in which they've been trained to think over the years that anyone not hot or attractive obviously can't sing. Even the damn judges on the panel, whose jobs, I thought, were to judge talent, not PREjudge talent, were stunned by her ability. And I couldn't have been angrier. See, all the pop tarts out there like Britney and Pink have contaminated the pool by becoming singing stars not because of their singing, but because of their ability to writhe around on a beach or on stage and look like porn stars while lip-synching to their mechanically-enhanced vocals. And it all started with Madonna. I say that because, before she and MTV came along in the early 1980s, I don't recall your looks having anything to do with how well you can sing. Of course, I wasn't around in the '70s, but I'm guessing that you still had to sound good to sell records back then, and I'm definitely going to assume that for before the '70s. But fast forward to today, where a judge of a talent show can actually have the temerity to say to a contestant, "I didn't think you could sing so well based on how you looked when you walked out here." What the fuck does that mean??? Someone please tell me how your looks are in any way connected to how well you can sing. Once Madonna showed how you can make it to the top of the music charts without the ability to hold a note, the floodgates opened, and Janet Jackson, Britney, and tons of others whose names I've since forgotten managed to hit our radios and make our ears bleed while horny teenage guys and insecure girls who wanted to be like those pop tarts pushed their popularity sky high. And hey, I was one of the horny guys; I wasn't a teenager when "Like A Virgin" came out, but I bought the extended version on vinyl, I still own it, and I never liked it for Madonna's vocal range, I liked it because hearing a hot chick cooing "Touched for the very 1st time" when I was nine years old make me feel tingly and warm, and I like the feeling, although I didn't understand it.

So I get that it's a marketing coup when you can make a singing star out of someone who cannot sing for shit. That's great, and congrats to everyone involved. But what's been created as a result is a situation where a woman can come out onstage looking not so hot, and people all around the world express shock and amazement when she sings well. No, my friends, that's not amazing. What's amazing is that we've allowed ourselves to judge vocal talent on how sexually charged the vocalist is. The only worse reflection on our society is the fact that I guarantee you, Susan Boyle, sometime soon, maybe this year or perhaps next summer, will get a full makeover by some marketing genius in an attempt to sell recordings of her voice, which, of course, have nothing at all to do with her appearance.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

When Bad Comedy Writers Attack Good Wrestling Shows (link taken from

The above link is for anyone who has ever wondered what the difference is between good, sensible, intelligent booking in pro wrestling and nonsensical, garbage, bullshit "writing" that seems to have permeated the industry nowadays. In his article "The 'Write' Stuff," Jim Cornette, who has been in the wrestling industry for almost 30 years, breaks down why the comedy writers who populate the "WWE Universe" are ultimately much more harmful than good for the business. For hardcore fans, and even for casual observers who have watched something on a WWE telecast that isn't entertaining and has nothing to do with wrestling and wondered why the hell they put such crap on TV, this is a must-read.

A quick update on me: Not much going on. I'm looking forward to a bowling event for Sick-A-Cell this Saturday at Lakewood Bowl in Richton Park, IL. I'll be in lots of pain afterwards because I'm old, but that's ok. If anyone's interested, it's $20, which gets you two games, shoes, pizza, and a raffle ticket for prizes that usually are pretty cool. Last year, they gave away an iPod. It starts at 6P, so drop on by. In other news, my job is eliminating 2nd shift, so by June 1st I will be back waking up early in the morning and going to work 9 to 5 like normal people. I got used to 2nd shift, so I will miss certain aspects of it, mostly waking up whenever the fuck I felt like it. But I will be happy to watch prime-time television once again, especially baseball and football games, and my fiancee will be thrilled to speak to me earlier than 11:15P most nights. Finally, speaking of wrestling, I caved in and ordered WrestleMania 25 a few weeks ago after waffling back and forth. I won't say it was a horrible show, but I will say that I got the feeling even before I ordered that this may be the last big show I pay for because wrestling is on the decline without a bright light on the horizon, and this card didn't do anything to change my mind about that. The best match was between two guys over 40 (Shawn Michaels and the Undertaker), and of the two men that won the double main event, one can't wrestle but is on top because he's sexy and sells a ton of merchandise (John Cena), and the other is fucking WWE owner Vince McMahon's daughter (Triple H). Yeah, I don't think I'll be back for any more PPVs anytime soon.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Blast From The Past II

In this blog entry about my experiences in the Chicagoland and National Spelling Bee, I typed the following sentence: "...while actually telling a girl that sat next to me during the contest how calm and cool I was, the gum I was chewing fell out of my mouth and onto the floor. Real smooth, Ex-Lax."

It's a small world after all...

Last Friday at about 6:45P, I was walking back into the building where I work with my dinner in tow. I had my headphones on and blasting as usual, so I kinda noticed a woman signing in at the front desk making a quick hand gesture, but I ignored it because I assumed she was talking to someone else. I then blew past three security guards trying to get my attention until I caught the last one out of the corner of my eye frantically waving his hands at me. He then pointed me back towards the woman at the front desk. I walked back and looked at the girl, and as she began to talk, my brain recognized her as someone from my childhood, but I couldn't immediately place her. She was tall, thin, black with light features, and had short wavy hair. "This is gonna sound strange," she started, "but did you participate in the Chicago Spelling Bee many years ago?" I cracked a large smile and looked in the air, shocked that a fellow contestant picked me out of thin air on the street twenty years later. But I actually didn't realize exactly who she was until we talked for a minute. There were only a couple of black girls in the Chicagoland Spelling Bee with me that year, and I didn't talk to any of them...except the one sitting next to me who confided in me that she was nervous. The one who I tried to calm down by telling her how cool and calm I was. The one who watched my Big Red gum go flying out of my mouth as I attempted to tell her how cool and calm I was. Yes, she was that girl. How crazy is that??

We shot the bull for a couple of minutes, as she recalled that she didn't know how to spell some word that I did, and she remembered the word that I got right to win it all. She asked what I was doing in that building at that moment, and I told her that I worked there for Chase. I asked what she was doing in the building, and she told me that she was an attorney for some firm there, and at that moment I started to go upstairs to my breakroom, because there's no sense continuing to talk to a girl who grew up to be an attorney while I'm counting checks for $10 an hour. "You can tell your friends about the weird girl with the long memory," she laughed as I walked away. I believe her name was Dana. I spent the rest of the evening not believing the coincidence that found me in 2009 walking past the girl who was so cute that I spit gum trying to have a conversation with her in 1990. In retrospect, perhaps I should be proud that this time, I didn't accidentally spray her in the face.