Thursday, January 23, 2014

My On-Again-Off-Again Relationship with American Idol is Back On

remember when American Idol first started. It was on during the summer after I graduated high school. It wasn't all that big of a deal at the time, since it was so new. I didn't even watch most of the season, but I do remember watching Kelly Clarkson win and then thinking "A Moment Like This" would never stop being played on the radio. I bought her CD when it came out and I was hooked. I've been a Kelly fan ever since.
Fast forward a couple years to my college friends and I would have American Idol nights and all get together to watch the show. This was in 2004 so I'm thinking season 3? Anyway, that was the year Idol and I started to drift apart. I think I may be the only one in the world, but I thought Fantasia was terrible. I couldn't understand why the judges were so in love with her voice. If you remember, this was also the year the Jennifer Hudson was elimated in 6th place (what the what?!) and William Hung became a thing (God help us all). I ended it with Idol.
It's really too bad I chose to stop watching after that season, because the next season (4) was Carrie Underwood's year and of course who doesn't love her? My decision to stay separated was validated, however, when Taylor Hicks won season 5 (though I do like Kellie Pickler and Bucky Covington who came from this season).
I decided to give Idol another chance in season 9. It was a shaky reunion, for sure. I thought there was some decent talent. Although nothing came of his win, I thought Lee DeWyze was pretty good; I'm kind of a sucker for the gravelly-voiced rockers. I didn't think there was anything wrong with Crystal Bowersox, but every time I saw her, I thought it looked like she hadn't showered in awhile, which sort of grossed me out. Overall, it was a mediocre season at best. Same with season 10, although I loved having Steven Tyler as a judge. This season saw the best contestants go too soon (Casey Abrams and Pia Toscano) and Scotty McCreery's win was justified I suppose, but his coronation song totally creeped me out (I love you this big... really? You're not 4 years old). Season 11 introduced Colton Dixon and Philip Phillips into my life, which was not a bad thing. 
Even though Idol was clearly making an effort to make our relationship work, I had to break it off again a few episodes into season 12. As much as I love me some Keith Urban, I was so sick of Randy Jackson by that point and Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj are just ridiculous. I couldn't handle it anymore; it was over.
When they started advertising for season 13, my heart leaped with joy. Randy Jackson was gone! Keith Urban is back along with Jennifer Lopez! And the best news of all since Kelly Clarkson won: HARRY CONNICK JR WILL BE A JUDGE!!!!! I couldn't handle it. I just think he's the bees knees. And after only a couple episodes, he has not disappointed. I think all three judges have really good chemistry (especially Harry and Keith, who crack me up every episode). I love what Harry Connick Jr brings to the table. He obviously has the musical knowledge and he's honest without being mean, a la Simon Cowell (who I admit, I actually liked). He told a 15 year old girl to sing age appropriate songs; he's not impressed with vocal gymnastics when they aren't necessary; he stopped the one joke audition (which used to dominate the show and have been all but eliminated now) and told him that the contestant was disrespecting the process and the people who work hard to be there and take it seriously. Go HCJ.  
So my Idol relationship has resumed. The only request I would like to make this season would be for the contestants to stop saying they've been watching the show since they were 3 years old. It makes some of us feel really old.

Beating a Dead Horse: Why the Richard Sherman debacle still makes me so mad

I realize this is an issue that has been talked about to death, but every time I hear about it, it makes me mad all over again. Here's why:
Richard Sherman is a celebrity. No one will argue that. He is also, presumably, a functioning member of society, just like the rest of us. He has a job, just like the rest of us. His job may be a little different from the norm, but it's still a job. I understand emotions run high in a game like the one he was playing, but he is still a professional and should act as such. There is a standard for acceptable human behavior and, in my opinion, he did not meet it. But apparently that's ok because he's a football player.
I'm an editor for a news wire company. Would it be OK for me to finish editing a press release and scream and holler around the newsroom that "I'M THE BEST EDITOR!! YOU CAN'T TALK ABOUT ME! YOU ARE ALL SORRY EDITORS!!"?  Hint: No it would not be OK. I may even lose my job. It doesn't matter if it's true (it probably isn't for me, but Sherman is most likely the best cornerback in the game right now) and it doesn't matter how smart I am, it is still a douchey and gross thing to do.
And that brings me to another point. I don't care how smart Sherman is. I don't care that he graduated high school with a 4.2 GPA or that he went to Stanford or that he is currently working on his master's degree. I don't care because none of that matters. Being smart doesn't preclude you from being a jerk.
Oh, being an editor and playing football aren't the same? OK, let's pretend we are at a Pop Warner football game or even a high school football game. Your son makes a great play and starts in about how he's the best in the game and no one else compares to him, making a big scene in front of everyone. Are you going to be OK with that behavior coming from your kid? Or another kid on the team? If you say yes, I'm going to hand you a hose to put out the fire on your pants, because you are a liar. If it isn't OK for the rest of us, it shouldn't be OK for Sherman or any of the rest of the NFL either.
We all like to get mad and talk about how we are an entitled society with a "me, me, me!" attitude. When we make excuses for behaviors like what we all witnessed last Sunday, we become enablers of that sort of problem.  This is probably going to be something that I will feel strongly about forever (not Sherman specifically, but this sort of thing), but I'm going to end (for now) on this note:
1. Sportsmanship is more than just about sports and games. It's about real life and how we can all live together, as civilly as possible.
2. If you are going to apologize, do it for real. Saying you're sorry your comments are distracting from the team is not the same as saying you're sorry for your behavior. That is like when someone says "I'm sorry you're mad" which we all know is a total non-apology.
Like I said, there are standards of what is socially acceptable behavior and LITERALLY EVERYONE should have to abide by them.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Our kids deserve good role models

My son is almost 4 years old. My friends' sons are mostly around the same age--some older, some younger. My daughter is almost 7 months older. Again, my friends' daughters are around the same age--some older, some younger.


Important fact: Our kids need good role models.


Yes, yes, as parents, we should be our kids' primary role models. Grandparents, cousins, aunts & uncles, close family friends are also in a position to be a role model for our kids. And that is how it should be.


But let's be real here; it is inevitable that our kids will one day look up to celebrities and athletes and make them role models as well. That is why it bothers me when celebrities say they don't want to be a role model. Well, suck it up, Princess, because you are one.


This past summer, we all learned more than we wanted to about twerking when our news shows and social media pages were bombarded with images and stories and opinions about Miley Cyrus. It was gross, the way she exploited herself, her sexuality overshadowing her talent as a singer. She seems to be trying so hard to shed her "Hannah Montana" image that she went in the complete opposite and wrong direction. I cringe to think that my little girl (who is thankfully far too young to know anything about this) could potentially be exposed to this and want to emulate. But that is what happens and that is part of the reason our kids are exploring sexually way younger than ever before. Ms. Cyrus used to be a well-spoken, pleasant girl, giving interviews like this: "Well, thank you. I really try with the show and my concerts to let kids and parents know that I really am just a down home girl with good values and work really hard at what I do." (2007) Now her interviews sound more like this: "Like, if someone was videoing me ripping a bong, I didn't care, so it's just funny to me." (2013... And that wasn't even the worst thing I've heard her say.)


Not cool.


The most obvious anti-Miley right now is Jennifer Lawrence. She is a well-spoken girl with a solid head on her shoulders. She doesn't have to rely on attention-grabbing antics to get people to notice her. She is talented and she speak often about being true to who you are and not trying to live up to other people's expectations of what they think you need to be. She is someone I'd be proud to have my little girl look up to.


Football is a big deal in our house. It is almost inevitable that my son will grow up to be as big a fan as my husband. From a young age, he would see the 49ers symbol and say "That's football!" And if you ask him "Who's got it better than us?" He'll respond with an emphatic, "NOBODY!!!"

 I know it's not new news now, but yesterday after the Seahawks-49ers NFC championship game, an on-field interview was conducted with Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman. He is a talented player, but he's known for stirring up controversy. Erin Andrews (the sideline reporter for the game) asked him a question about the final play of the game (which more or less, allowed the Seahawks to win the game). That was when his rant began. He began screaming like a crazy person about how he was the best cornerback in the world and that Michael Crabtree (the receiver he blocked) was a "sorry receiver." I'm sure the video can be found pretty much anywhere on the internet at this point. It was embarrassing, or at least should have been. I highly doubt we will here from him about it again, but I sure hope that Pete Carroll will sit him down and lay into him about how unacceptable his behavior is. I doubt it, but I can hope.  Sherman clearly has a beef with Crabtree (among other NFL players), who also likes to smack talk on the field. It's football, I get it. It is an intense sport and this was an intense game between an intense rivalry. The public interview after the game is not a place to air your grievances.


On top of the terrible interview, which many people are upset about, other fans are making excuses. "Well, it was right after the game. He was still hyped up." Um, no. I've seen many player interviews right after the game and none of them sound like that (see Peyton Manning for a PRIME example). Also, Seattle went on offense after Sherman's play and SF called a couple time-outs. There was plenty of time to collect yourself. There is no excuse for that interview.


Sherman is a good player, so he would definitely be on the radar of impressionable young people who want to be like him. I most definitely would not want my son thinking it is OK to be that way. Being a good sport means being a good winner too. (*side note: I will give him credit for blasting the fans who threw food at NaVorro Bowman as he was being carted off the field after an injury. Why would anyone think that's acceptable behavior?)


On the opposite end of the spectrum from the same game is SF inside linebacker Patrick Willis. His interview after the game was nothing short of classy and humble, which as it turns out is sort of how he's known in the NFL. His interview was all about his concern for his team BFF NaVorro Bowman (who suffered a horrifically bad knee injury) and his team. Everything mentioned was all about the team and how they are just thankful to be in the championship game at all. He wished the Seahawks luck in the Super Bowl. (*another side note: do yourself a favor and read up about Willis. He's worth being a fan of and he's an all-around good guy.)


I feel like this is a topic that can drag on and on. And obviously there a tons of celebrities and athletes that can be listed on either side of the argument, but the thing is, it is our responsibility to make sure our children are looking up to the right people. We are their parents and it is our job to raise them the best we can, but the truth is we are in competition with TV, radio, actors and athletes, their friends at school. With social media being what it is, they are exposed to EVERYTHING. Hopefully we can help them sort it all out.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

I made it to the playoffs, everyone!

I made it to the playoffs, everyone!
And I got third place!! See:
This whole experience of being totally engrossed in football was so new to me but I kinda sorta liked it. A lot. It was a season filled with ups and downs and lots of anxiety, but I came out on top! Well, towards the top anyway.  I finished the regular season in 2nd place and ended up 3rd place after the playoffs. I even kicked my hubby out of the playoffs, but he doesn't like to talk about that :0)  I learned so much in such a short time. Maybe I'll write an ebook about it: "Fake It Till You Make It: A First-Timer's Guide to Surviving Fantasy Football"
At first he wasn't so excited that I was getting in on his territory, but he quickly warmed up and by the end of the season, he told me that he loved that I was so into football now and he could watch games with me.
Our league is done (has been for a few weeks), but the real football is still going for a couple more weeks. Then, on to next season! I've already got my eye on some players... let's do this!