Wednesday, July 30, 2008

American Idol - A Faulty Political Process

Well, what can I say except for, "Wow!"?

I have an amazing singer for a fiancee. I have a great singer of a friend named Aric. I know a talented and charismatic musician named Jake. And none of them even made it through the first round of American Idol!

The Boys--Aric, Jake, and Tanner

On Saturday night, Tanner and Aric decided it might be a good idea to pull an all-nighter so we could be the first to register for Idol on Sunday morning. For those of you who know me well, you know I don't do well running on no sleep. I am a very anxious person who needs rest, and my body reacts in strange and emotional ways when I am sleep deprived.

That's us, looking lovely and sleepless. Oh gross.

At least we saw the sun rise, sort of.

So we left at about 1:45 AM on Sunday morning and arrived in Salt Lake around 2:30. I was trying to sleep in the back seat and was failing miserably. Tanner and Aric got themselves some food at McDonald's because there were only a few people standing near the Energy Solutions Arena to get in line. So they got in line, and I tried to sleep in the car. That didn't work because it was bloody hot outside, really noisy from cars driving by, and the whole street was really well-lit. I guess they let the first group get in line around 3 AM, so the boys moved up to the top of the stairs, and Tanner had me come with blankets and stuff from the car.

From that point on I was pretty much a quiet grouch. I was listening to people and wishing that I could sleep on that stupid concrete floor. There were some interesting, cocky, and socially retarded people, as you might guess. One girl, in her super high voice, was singing that song that Eleanor sings to the penguin on the Chipmunk Adventure. Another was talking about her many previous experiences with the judges who "said she was really cute, but their quota was met." I hardly think they would have let anyone continue auditioning had they met their quota, but whatever she needs to console her, I guess.

Anyway around 6:45/7 in the morning the cameras were out, and people started going crazy. I'm not much of a sheep, myself. I also had no makeup on and was sleep deprived, so I didn't want to be on camera. Nevertheless, I hid behind freak shows Tanner and Aric while they fired finger gun shots at the camera. The constant screaming and non-rhythmic crowd chants were a little annoying. "American Idol, welcome to Archie-town"? What genius thinks these things will be acceptable for public television? I mean, really.

At about 7:30 AM they let our group in first to get registered. There was some confusion about the need for identification, which Tanner didn't have because his wallet got stolen, and Aric left in the car. I had identification, and ironically was the one in our group NOT singing. They gave us the wristbands and tickets anyway. A red wristband, might I add, which apparently meant that I was auditioning. Silly people. I should have gotten a pink one to be a "supporter." Oh well, I am OK with looking like a coward I guess.

We got home a little after 8--I got home at 8:30 AM, actually. I went straight to sleep and woke up at 2 PM and had a regular Sunday and Monday. I asked to leave work early on Monday if possible, so I could get some sleep before having to wake up at 3 AM for auditions on Tuesday. I got to go home at 9:30, which was really awesome. I was in bed by ten but had an awful time falling asleep! I felt like I didn't sleep at all, but it was OK, I wasn't in such a bad mood.

Up on Tuesday at 3:10 AM, ready at 3:40 AM and out the door. Apparently Tanner's phone alarm didn't wake him--Aric did. So we ended up leaving about 20 minutes after we had planned, but it was OK because Tanner did 90 mph on the freeway and got us to Salt Lake in 30 minutes. Yeah, not kidding. We were in line by 4:45 AM.

Still dark outside, lovey looking handsome.

Aric at his best at 5 AM. Good hair day, too.

Jake and Tanner, in all seriousness.

We even love each other early in the morning.

I brought donuts, water, and other snacks. The experience was really funny. We saw pretty much every important person, producer, and camera, get drawn to the same two black people in line ahead of us. Must be this backpack theory of MLK, Jr.'s, huh? ;) Really though, the girl was very talented--I've seen her in a play at the Hale Center Theatre. Her guy friend who was wearing a very loud outfit had actually zero singing talent whatsoever. At around 8 AM we all got shoved onto the stairs to do some camera shots and more crowd screaming. The camera never came to where we were, which was really annoying. I wanted to sit down, but those who didn't participate got yelled at by the producer. haha. It was so exhausting and annoying.

Finally at 9 AM I believe it was, we got to go inside. We had to get rid of all of our food which SUCKED. And we could only bring in one water bottle. They could have posted something about that on the website. I hid my jerky and gummy bears in my bag though, so all was well. Of course we did some more crowd screaming and camera shots as well as the crowd songs--"Ain't No Mountain High Enough," and "Get Ready," by Marvin Gaye and the Temptations, respectively. Our section was the second section to be let onto the floor.

Everyone was put into small lines of four and waited to be sent to one of five tables behind which were seated 2 to 3 judges. While Tanner, Aric, and Jake were on the floor in line, I waited and took pictures. And then Ryan Seacrest came! He has great presence and charisma. I love him. That part was fun. But once again all of the camera pans did not reach to our section of the arena. I guess the privileged "first group," had already received their payment, so the ones who had to wait got camera privileges. Really boring and annoying though. So we shouted and screamed and heard Ryan do a few takes, and a few "after the break" things as well. Then they set up six more tables on the floor. Of course, the boys got sent to table 11, the farthest away from where I was sitting. So I got up and hurriedly walked down to the other side of the arena so I could be close to them and get some pictures.

The tables.

So in their lines of four, each person stepped out of line, sang their 20 second piece, and stepped back in line. This includes Aric and Tanner. Then the whole line steps up to the table, and the producer says something like, "We really appreciate you coming out. Unfortunately, we are really raising the bar this year, and we're looking for someone with that star quality. None of you really had it," blah blah blah. And out the entire line walked through the "non-winner" door. Let me just say that in the 100-150 people we had seen audition, only 7 made it through to the next round. One was an old man (for entertainment's sake), one was a ventriloquist girl, three had gained some sort of winning privilege prior to the show, and the other two were cute black girls. I don't know how the latter two sang at all, but they certainly had a consistent image going on.

This illustrates both the lines of four as well as the individual whom I shall call, "Pat." Quick! Guess the gender! Whoever guesses correctly gets a prize.

Tanner in line.

Aric singing.

Tanner singing.

The tactful decline.

So as you can see the process was very, very long and very, very tiring. People had been practicing for weeks and weeks to perfect their performance and singing only to sing for 20 seconds and be told "no." The producer that the boys had was apparently very fidgety and didn't even look at them, which really distracted Tanner and Jake. It frustrated all three of them, and rightfully so. The least they can do after all of this time and preparation and fear is LOOK at the auditioners.

The ventriloquist girl.

Anyway, we were done around 11:30 AM which was nice. I was glad we didn't stay there all day to get rejected. We went to lunch at Red Rock, which was decent. After that we drove home and dropped Aric off at his car. Tanner and I shared a churro and softserve at Costco. We took a much needed nap, and met up with Aric and Cody for dinner at Fazoli's around 6:30 PM. Then we got ice cream at Sub-Zero which was SO, SOOO delicious. Easily rivals Cold Stone. I so want to eat there again. Goodness gracious. Back to Idol...

The FAQ states, "Although we would love to audition everyone who registers, it may be impossible given time constraints built into our schedule. There is no guarantee that everyone who registers will be given the opportunity to audition. If our time is running short, the Producer may walk around the venue to pick out people to audition (regardless of how early they registered or their seat numbers) based on performing ability, look, style, personality and other factors, at Producer's sole discretion."

The release form states, "I understand that I may reveal, and other parties may reveal, information about me that is of a personal, private, embarrassing or unfavorable nature, which information may be factual and/or fictional. I further understand that my appearance, depiction and/or portrayal in the Program may be disparaging, defamatory, embarrassing or of an otherwise unfavorable nature which may expose me to public ridicule, humiliation or condemnation."

After reading these things and having been through most of the process myself now, I can say that American Idol is for sure a television show geared toward entertainment. I can say that I don't believe the top 24 are necessarily the most talented or able that the producers/judges may have come across in all of the cities--we at home are missing out on quite a few talented people. I can say that much of the show is, in fact, based on image and uniqueness rather than singing ability, so when Simon says it's a "singing competition," he's full of crap. I can say that for the most part, the people who audition for the show are at least average singers, and the freak shows and tone-deaf people really are the exceptions. I can also say that I now know why people freak out after being rejected by Paula, Randy, and Simon--after the driving, gas, time, money, and energy that the process takes out of you, as well as making them all have hope and then laughing in their faces, people have a right to be upset.

I guess I wasn't expecting a whole lot more than all of those things, but it is still a little disillusioning, I suppose. In any case it was fun to see behind the scenes. And I do still think that all of the people who do get to the judges and are completely horrific probably should be subject to public ridicule and humiliation because of how clueless they are. It's still sad though. None of these things or participating in this process will make me stop watching the show. I do still believe that the show finds very talented people--even if it doesn't do it through the most efficient or fair processes possible. Overall, an eye-opening and once in a lifetime experience :)

Three best things

1. Sleep. That's all I have to say.
2. iPods. I love that I could laugh and listen to music while waiting in so many lines.
3. Flexible bosses/jobs.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Post-California Feelings: I'm Beat

Well, that was a fun (but short) trip!

We left by 2:40 PM (Mountain time) and had a relatively uneventful trip to Glendora, California. We arrived at probably 10:30 PM (Pacific standard time), so the trip took us just under nine hours. And that was with a few more stops than I would have liked. I had to pee, then I got tired, then we had to get gas... Anyway, we listened to our Dr. John Lund tapes and once again got through four out of the five sessions. It was a good and helpful reminder of the efforts that I (and we) should be making as a couple to communicate effectively. Needless to say, we drove through In-N-Out before we went to my parents' house. The fries were slightly disappointing, but the burger was great, as always.

My parents and brother came outside to greet us. The next morning I had to get blood taken and a dental cleaning done. They took blood from the wrong vein, and I look like a heroine addict with my discolored bruise on my arm! It was one silly little vial that took way longer than it should have. Anyway, all is well. I got Tanner and I some donuts, and we also went to breakfast with my dad and two of my brothers at B&J's. It's okay though, it was lunch time, and I only had like five onion rings and an orange juice.

So my mom was really cute and had gotten a bunch of stuff for us at the store for the beach--hot dogs, buns, condiments, soda, etc. She boiled eggs so I could make egg salad sandwiches. We finally left around 2 in the afternoon for a day at the beach and a bonfire. Tanner and I got wood and some other snacks at the store--s'more supplies and whatnot. It was a fun day. I was in the water next to a school of little fish. Tan and I snuggled in the waves. haha. The fire got lit on its own which kind of sucked, because Tanner set up the wood ahead of time and it caught on fire from the previous night's leftovers. Wasted some wood that way. Oh well. We had some good food and enjoyed ourselves and were off at 10. We spent the drive home listening to Loveline because Gene Simmons was on it. He's such a strange man. I love him.

The next day was Disneyland! Tanner and I had showered the night before when we got home from the beach, so we didn't take long to get ready. We had our cameras and all we'd need and were out the door--Mom, Dad, Jared, Tanner, and I. The drive there was fun, listening to random songs we like, singing along and all of those things. We arrived probably before noon and parked in the parking structure of Goofy 4H. Tanner got a button for his "first visit" since he was too young to remember his REAL first one. My parents paid for our admission, and it was really cute. We went straight to the bathroom and then got on the Jungle Cruise and then went to the Blue Bayou to get a reservation for dinner. It was totally full! I was so bummed. We rode on Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, Star Tours, Matterhorn, Mad Tea Party (me and Jared), Autopia, Big Thunder, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, and Space Mountain. Someone gave us their fast passes for Indiana Jones, and that was amazing as always. We ate at the Dole stand and went in the Tiki Room, and we ate lunch at the Pizza Port by Space Mountain. We took a ride around Disneyland on the Railroad, so that was fun. Tanner had a migraine pretty bad (at its worst after the Matterhorn), so we managed to find some Excedrin, and he felt better eventually. Anyway, it was lots of fun.

We got back that night and found ourselves pretty hungry since we didn't get to eat at Blue Bayou, so we went to Taco Bell. Tanner ordered himself some food in the drive-thru and paid with his American Express card. The lady at the window was pretty rude and didn't ask him if he wanted sauce. If you know Tanner, you know he is a sauce fiend. So we pulled out of the drive thru and into a parking spot so he could go in to get some sauce. Little did he know, his wallet fell off of his lap into the Taco Bell parking lot when he got out of the car to get some sauce. His wallet had all of his credit cards, his social security card, and almost $200 in cash (which he never carries, but it's vacation!). So that was a really unfortunate start to the next day when we were leaving for the Dark Knight. After scouring the car, the driveway, and the whole family room, we departed for LaVerne to see the Dark Knight--but not before we ate some In-N-Out.

So we ate and then got in line at 11:50 for the Dark Knight at 12:50. We were first! And we were saving six other spots for my family. While we were in line, Tanner made a call to the Taco Bell and left his name and number, and the lady on the phone was really helpful and nice to him. So that was good. His wallet is now probably in the hands of some dishonest, pathetic individual... otherwise a really desperate individual. Either way, karma will come to you, you thief. Anyway, the Dark Knight was amazing. Heath Ledger was amazing--he totally freaked me out! After we got home, we hung out for a couple of hours. Tanner called his credit card companies and canceled his cards, so his new ones are in the mail.

The Angel game was FABULOUS!!! We (Tanner, Jared, Mom, and I) arrived late, which I was really upset about because I missed the lineup call and the national anthem. I love all of the pre-game entertainment. I think it's really fun. Anyway, we were playing the Red Sox and we SLAUGHTERED them! 11 to 3. That's right. It was SUCH a good game, even if we had won by 1 and not 8, it was a fun game. We got Panda Express while we were there--Mom bought, cuz she's cute. So we got caught in the after-game parking lot traffic for probably 45 minutes. That was fun, especially when you have a freak stress queen for a mother. We got home safe and sound and heart-attack free...

Saturday was pretty uneventful. My dad made his amazing breakfast, and Tanner and I didn't even wake up till 11 AM. Holy moly! We kind of sat around all day. We watched The Matrix, and I decided we should have a barbecue with everyone. So mom invited the family and I invited my friends. Dinner was supposed to be ready at 6 but didn't end up being done until almost 10 at night, when I had told my friends to come after 8 to go get ice cream. So dinner was ready when they arrived, and we were cutting it pretty close for food. Jake's friends were there too! After all my mom's hard work, there wasn't even any food left for her.

So a lot of my friends showed up. It was so cute. Stephanie came to say hi and left before anyone else got there, but it was sooo fun to get to talk to her. I love her. Then Robin and John came, then Amber and Casey, then Kristina, then Allyn, and then Ashleigh. I am loved!! There were a thousand conversations happening at once, but we did manage to make it to Cold Stone like five minutes before they closed. It was so delicious, and the conversations were fun. Everyone left probably around 11:15 that night. Tanner, Amber, Casey, and I got home and Tanner and I did the dishes. I didn't even know Mom hadn't gotten to eat, but at least she didn't have to clean up after it all. So I was glad we could do that for her.

We were up much later than I wanted to be, just talking and stuff. I love talking, but not when it's late and I'm leaving early the next morning. haha. Anyway, it was all a lot of fun. I got up at 8:45 on Sunday and got ready to go home. We left at around 10:30, stopped at the grocery store for some things, got food at Jack in the Box and then gas at Chevron, and we were on the road a little after 11 AM (Pacific Standard time). I spent a lot of time between my parents' house and my apartrment being very teary-eyed and sad. I don't think I got to be with my family long enough this time because I really had a hard time leaving! I was very emotional. Tanner was cute and said we could stay an extra day, but I knew that probably wouldn't help much.

So in the car we drove, drove, drove. We listened to the last Dr. Lund tape on Forgiveness and Love. It was so awesome. I was sad we hadn't listened to that one before. I needed to hear that one desperately. After just about three hours of driving, we stopped in Vegas for a potty break and gas. Then we stopped in Washington City for In-N-Out. I felt really bad, what with it being Sunday and all. It was a last hurrah though for my favorite burgers and fries. Back on the road, and Tanner drove the rest of the way. We stopped in Beaver so I could go potty, then we stopped in Nephi for gas. We got home around 9:15 PM (Mountain time). So it took us just about nine hours again on the drive back, with several stops, and a long lunch break. We got to listen to lots of good music and some good comedy--Larry the Cable Guy and Mitch Hedberg. Oh my gosh, I couldn't breathe I was laughing so hard at Larry. I was afraid at how hard Tanner was laughing since he was driving. It was fun though.

After taking Tanner home, I drove home and sat down for a few minutes. Eventually I unpacked and started cleaning for cleaning checks (today, Monday). I figured I could either stay up late doing it and just wake up later, or stay up late and get up early to clean. I chose to stay up late and wake up later! haha. I was scrubbing the bathtub, thinking about all I had left to do, including cleaning my ridiculous rabbit's cage, when I realized I really could have used Tanner's help to clean. We had gone back and forth about him coming over since it was late, and he had work, and his scooter wasn't turning on. I sent him a text saying I really could use his help if he wanted to come, and if he didn't want to that that would be fine, too.

Just after I hit send, I heard the front door close. In walked my love with some expensive hardcore cleaner stuff (Goo Gone?) to help me. It was so sweet. He finished the bathroom for me while I tried to do my room and clean the cage. We did "git 'r done." This morning though I realized I should probably pay more attention to the dust around the door frame, like they pointed out on the instructions. So I cleaned that this morning. It all looks really good, and I got done a lot faster because of Tanner's help, so that was really cute.

Hopefully I pass my cleaning checks because I went to bed exhausted last night after minimal sleep the night before, a 9.5 hour drive, and then a couple hours of cleaning. But after all this exhaustion, I have to take a minute to recognize that my parents (especially my mom) did a lot to make everything happen. They spent a lot of money and a lot of time to make this trip fun for us, and we really did have fun and I appreciate their generosity and kindness now more than ever.

So while Tanner's wallet got stolen and that put a damper on things, it was all around a really fun (and safe!) trip. So it's back to the summer routine of work and play and sleep.

Three (or four) best things:

1. My parents. I've said this too many times. They are cute though. And I miss my family.

2. Car mechanics. My car had been having some trouble recently, but they fixed the fan and my car drove perfectly from Provo to Glendora and back again. It's a champ, even at 18 years old.

3. Tanner. I wasn't expecting him to come and help me clean, but he did, and he was so great about it, not bitter to be there helping me at all.

4. Cleaning checks. They are a pain in my royal rossinonees, but getting me to clean my room and the apartment is really a helpful and good thing. I appreciate cleanliness.