Anne with a E: Thoughts

I just finished watching the first two season’s of Netflix’s Anne with an E. And I very much have thoughts. Continue reading

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Adam Lambert: “Workin’ with people I love”

Adam Lambert has been making videos to go with his songs since the start of his career post-Idol. That’s normal for artists, and has been since the eighties. It’s also something  he seems to enjoy and do well.

But in the beginning, when he was signed to RCA and the world was a different place for gay artists, being gay created a major obstacle. He could put love songs on his album, he could release them as singles, but he could not act them out with another man.

They tried all sorts of ways around it. “Whaddya Want From Me” showed him acting and emoting to a camera, which was very effective, but not something he could do twice.

“Better Than I Know Myself” became a little drama with Adam acting against himself. I happen to love this video. It’s powerful and I think he does a terrific job, but it’s also obvious they were reinterpreting the highly romantic lyrics.

For “Another Lonely Night” – another masterpiece, in my opinion, he has four different vignettes of lonely people in Vegas jobs. Best part was that it went with the lyrics. It didn’t feel like they were trending away from the story of the song.

What Adam seems to do the most consistently – it’s happened for four of his singles so far, one for each album – is use his many talented friends in the video. 

“Ghost Town” is unique in the first three. The song ISN’T a love song – it’s describing depression with an amazing beat. Using his friends as dancers felt organic, not like he was trying to hide something.

In the other two, “If I Had You” and “Never Close Your Eyes”, the lyrics are either ignored or twisted. The “IIHY” video is about a rave in a park. It’s crowded with what looks like all of his friends, including an exboyfriend on stilts and what looks like a dragon puppet in back. It’s fun and joyous and very colorful, and everyone looks like they enjoyed themselves. And nothing about it is how empty his life is because he doesn’t have “you.”

“Never Close Your Eyes”, with lyrics about a one night stand that might turn to something more, is a dystopian science fiction story, with mind control in a totalitarian world. They break free with the power of…music? Dancing? It’s still fun, but there’s no hint of a love story anywhere.

As of last night, though, we have “Comin’ in Hot”

This is his latest video from his album Velvet.  (Release date unknown, but first half dropping in September.) It’s part two of the video “feature” he started with “New Eyes.”

The club from the first video is filled with his friends. The song is about going after and seducing a new lover. And, appropriately for Pride month – SO IS THE VIDEO. We see exactly who caught his eyes – a very handsome young man. One played by his real boyfriend. No special camera work, no hiding or reinterpreting the lyrics.

It’s right there out in the open. Adam, surrounded by his friends, falling for a man. Ten years after he had to play to a camera instead.


(Side note: my headcanon says that the club in Velvet is the same one in “For Your Entertainment”, as well as the one referenced in his songs “Shady”, “Underground” and “Kickin In.” It’s just 30-40 years earlier.)



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Bohemian Rhapsody: A Review

I finally had the chance to see Bohemian Rhapsody. Took a couple of weeks, but it meant I saw it around the anniversary of the day Freddie died. And I still saw it on the big screen. And it was worth the wait.

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Pride and Prejudice – Class, Money and Birth

I recently read Longbourne by Jo Baker, which is a retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice from the point of view of the servants. It’s a great book that I’d actually like to talk about, but that’s not what I’m doing here. It triggered a lot of thoughts about the original instead, and how classism actually worked in those days.

The most telling scene in the book is the confrontation in the Hermitage between Elizabeth and Lady Catherine de Burgh, where Lady Catherine says that Mr. Darcy outranks Elizabeth, and Elizabeth declares that, as he is a gentleman, and she’s a gentleman’s daughter, they are equals, which Lady Catherine acknowledges is the truth as far as her father goes.

Mr. Bennet is a gentleman – he is landed gentry, and he makes his income from the family estate, which he inherited from his father, and would have passed on entire to an eldest son, except there wasn’t one. That’s the basic definition. Mr. Darcy is exactly the same in that respect, except for five times the income. There ARE other gentlemen in the novel, but other than Mr. Hearst (of whom we know very little), they’re only that by courtesy. Mr. Collins is a clergyman, Mr. Wickham is an officer, and Col. Fitzwilliam is an officer AND the younger son of an earl.

And then we have Mr. Bingley. Mr. Bingley is wealthy with an excellent income, but he gets it through investments made by his father, who was in TRADE. He has no land and no gentleman’s profession, so while he’s called a gentleman, and treated as one, and acts like one in the best sense of the word, is he one? Note that the other well-behaved man in the novel is Mr. Gardiner, who is in trade and lives in sight of his own warehouses, and is the source of Lady Catherine’s disapproval.

Because that IS one of her objections towards Elizabeth, other than her not being Lady Catherine’s daughter Anne, whom she intended to marry her nephew – Elizabeth has unimpeachable background from her father, but her mother is the daughter of an attorney (not a solicitor or a barrister) and the sister of a man in trade. She’s MIDDLE CLASS. In fact, in the realm of gentry, while technically of the same class, they are on opposite sides – HER mother’s family is middle class, HIS mother comes from titled nobility.

And if Elizabeth is tainted by her mother’s relations, then Bingley must be more so by his own parents. It’s actually a wonder why Darcy picked this much younger man, no matter how sweet-natured, to be his friend. He struggled with Elizabeth’s relations for his first proposal – and did not use that as an argument against Jane for Bingley.

My suspicion is that Darcy and Bingley met in public school, where Bingley was Darcy’s “fag” – underclassman servant, and Darcy cherished an affection (go with that where you will) for him, and thought of him as a gentleman. But I somehow doubt he’d think Bingley, however sweet and gentlemanlike, was good enough for his sister. I certainly think that Miss Bingley was playing out of her league, despite her wealth and lady’s maid. Lady Catherine, who never met the Bingleys (also telling how he didn’t bring them to his company starved aunt) would have been even more mortified. The children of a man in TRADE! Unthinkable.

Yet, no one brings this up in the novel at all. Maybe she assumed her readers would understand – and also understand how his wealth and independence would help raise Bingley’s class in most ways, and that he could complete it by purchasing an estate of his own. Because while birth is everything, money can help a lot IF you are also well behaved. Maybe that’s the key. Lady Catherine and Mr. Darcy can behave poorly because of their aristocratic rank or connections, but the Bingleys and the Gardiners must behave perfectly to be accepted.

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This is not my normal post. This is not a normal day.

When I started this, I began with a list of why today is bad. But we know why it’s bad.  We know the person who will be sworn in at noon EST today, and we know what he did to get there, and we know what we’re losing and what we could have had. And the campaign itself did damage to this country in ways we’re still learning.

But we’re still America. Still the United States. This country has faced bad times, divisive times, times we have done things for which we are ashamed. But, we survived them and as a country, and while we haven’t righted all the wrongs we could, or even, at times, come close, we have TRIED. We keep on trying, we keep on growing.

We are a nation founded on the idea, however imperfectly implemented, that we are all equal under the law, we are all valuable, we all have a say, even if it’s just a blog post or a tweet or a wordless scream as loud as a shofar blast.  And that is what we must continue to fight – to not be silenced, to not be erased, to not let the forces of authoritarianism make us disappear.

And if we do that, if we keep information flowing, and ideas flowing, and listen for when it stops, we can stay who we are. We can keep  the  idea alive.  We can keep America alive. We can keep our say and our presence. We can still work for equality under the law and righting the wrongs.  And while it doesn’t seem this way right now, we can even try to heal the harm that’s already happened.

Keep the idea alive.


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Adam Lambert concert reviews Feb 23 and Mar 1 2016

Yes. I got to attend two The Original High shows – the very first US one and the New Brunswick one a week later. I probably could go to the one in Manhattan Mar 3, but I can’t do general admission. Continue reading

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Adam Lambert First in Forbes Top-Earning Idol Report

In what is possibly the last in this series of articles, Adam is on top. As he prefers.
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American Idol Season 15 January 6th 2016

Auditions. Starts with winners being announced, and people dreaming of being on the show, ending with Nick’s victory, and focusing on a Golden Ticket.

Brian Dunkleman!

Montage of auditioners.

First auditioner. Michele Marie. 15. Can name all the winners. Fan since she was four. As old as the show…wow. She scares me.

Singing “Blue” by Leanne Rhimes. Girl can sing.

Where are these auditions?

Jlo – very pretty. Harry – technically very good and stageworthy. Keith loved it.  Made it.

Apparently, someone gets arrested. And they plug a surprise we all know about

Taylor, Rubin, Clay and Kris doing the producer rounds. Oh, and Lee DeWyze. Interesting. I bet none of these gentlemen get a performance spot.

Auditions in Atlanta. Country singer. Josiah Siska. 18. Johnny Cash fan. “Ghostriders”. I’ve only heard parodies of this song. Gorgeous deep voice.

Harry – real commitment. Keith loved his voice. He sings a low scale. Harry likes that he knows about music. Three yeses.

Lindita, singing “Man’s World. Big voice. And bigger heels. Harry – fans would love your runs. JLo – power, great job. Keith – great. Trimming out is easier than adding. Three yeses.

Keith is being silly and Harry wants to be weird. Bored judges. Billy Bob Evett. A honky-tonking man. Large 25 year old. With dimples. Hots for Jennifer. Singing Waylon Jennings. Keith sings with him. It’s cute. I don’t know the song. Keith likes him as a person. Singing wasn’t strong enough. JLo – not consistent enough. Harry – close to say yes but too many pitch problems. Three noes.

Lee Jean, who lost his brother last year. Singing a lovely gospel song in honor of his brother. Heartfelt. Jlo thinks he’s cute and talented. Harry – tremendous a lot of talent. You need to sing in tune. You can work on that. Keith – beautiful tone, and you can tell a story. Three yeses, even with pitch problems.

Now in Denver. Taylor is the guest producer. Girl with a cello. JeneveRose Mitchell. She yodels and lives off the grid. But knows about Idol. No power. Ah. Uses generator to watch Idol. Smug about it. I’m almost surprised she’s wearing pants.

Singing Chainsaw by Band Perry. I’m not sure at all. She’s pretty, but I’m not sure at all. Plays well.  Keith – compelling. Harry – impressive. Work in progress. Jlo is impressed. Three yeses.

Taylor is at the judge’s auditions, too.

“Off the grid” montage. Small towns, Alaska, hitchhiking.

Sonika Vaid, 22 from Massachusetts. Daughter of immigrants from India. Lovely girl. Pretty voice. (I’m not familiar with the song.) Sounds like she has control. Also, I’m staring at the Adam Lambert poster. Jlo loves it. A lot. Harry – sang beautifully. Could win. Pure, Gd given voice. Keith – and you just let it go. You just sang. Jlo – so pretty. Three yeses.

Joseph Kohlrass is 16 and pretentious. Classically trained and “deep and rich, but bright and contemporary.” Gorgeous voice, but SO not pop. So wrong for this song.  Jlo – strong voice but inconsistent. Keith – big flexible range, but you don’t know how to use it. Harry – Challenges to hit F below bassclef. Does scale. No, though. Not the “four yeses” he imagined.

Wasn’t a note at the end. He kinda fried out.

Reanna Molinara. Police officer. Amazing earrings. Will handcuff Harry with real handcuffs. Leave It on Your Mind by Patsy Kline. Nice, jazzy voice. Works very well. Harry – solid performance. Pretty good. Jlo – thought it was good, but could have more performance quality. Keith agrees. Lovely voice. Harry is in pain. Yeses.

Tragic backstory montage.

Happy, talkative, sixteen year old. Very cute. And annoying. Yodels, too. Wins everything. Her name is Sylvia Lee Walker. Keith applauds her monalogue. She yodels for her audition. Seriously yodels. Jlo says she’s awesome. Keith compliments her accent, so she talks more. And more. Your pitch is all over the place. Jlo – adorable but no. Sent home to her show goat.

Returning auditioner. Chevonne Philador. (DJ Shavizzle.) 6th audition. Nice voice. Also a young man. Kory Wheeler. Last chance, after all. Singing Benny and the Jets. Laurel Wright, who was on before. Sweet country voice. They like all of them. All three go through.

And now the judges sing the theme from Laverne and Shirley. For some reason.

Nick Fradiani shows up. Hmm. Interesting. Will he get a slot as latest winner? That hasn’t happened the last few years.

Guy with pregnant wife (three weeks from due date.) MOre nervous to be a dad. Joshua Wicker. “Stay” by Rihanna. Oh, dear.  Run in the wrong place. But sweet voice. Jlo – interesting voice with pretty colors. Harry – compelling. Keith – beautiful. Sang it like you wrote it. 3 yeses. Brings in the wife. Gorgeous baby girl named Branch.

Many babies. Montage. So cute. One plays with Kris. Jordan and Alex Sasser, with a baby and a manbun. Wife is better singer, she says. Adorable baby. Both are auditioning. Alex (wife) is playing ukelele and singing Bruno. Cute. But only cute. Harry – pretty. Not passionate. Keith – too surface. Jlo wanted to hear more of a voice. Three noes.

Jordan (husband) singing Celine, It’s all Coming Back to Me. High and nasal but powerful anyway. Good pop voice, actually. Jlo – really good. Harry – talented vocalist and smart. Keith – bouyant and light voice. Three yeses.

Taylor on harmonica. So we’re back in Atlanta.

Homeschooled guy on guitar. Beard, nose piercing. Big gauges.  Mom died of cancer. Plays for mom. Kerry Courtney. Black Sun (Deathcab for Cutie.) Interesting voice. Works perfectly with this song. Jlo – dark and scary, but beautiful tone. Keith loved the tone, with unique usage. Three yeses.

Everyone knows Keith montage.

Shelbie Z  from the middle of nowhere, Alabama. Hairstylist. Works with her grandmother. Last Night, Carrie Underwood. Big voice. They don’t look happy. Jlo likes her. Harry loves her. Terrific. 3 yeses.  I read them wrong.

And Kanye shows up to “audition.” Pregnant Kim. They pretend he’s new. He raps “Jennifer Lopez.” Sigh.














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American Idol Final Season Thoughts

Before I liveblog at least the first audition episode, I wanted to give a few thoughts.

This is the reality show that actually affected reality. This is the reality show that was such a juggernaut that other stations carefully programmed against it. This was the show that produced Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, Chris Daughtry and Adam Lambert. It spawned XFactor and The Voice and other such shows.

It has a legacy. And that is something very few shows, reality or otherwise, can claim. And that, by itself, is worthy of respect.

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Adam Lambert vs Labels – History and Speculation

We are at the beginning of Era 3. At this writing, a new single is a week away, and a new album will be released this summer. In the past six years, Adam has changed publicity agents, management and, most critically, label. This release will test him and his team. I want to revisit his past to guess about the future. Continue reading

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