Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Amazing Race Kicks Off Season 13!

A day late, but here's some of my thoughts on Sunday's premiere episode of The Amazing Race 13:

- After completely missing the last Race, I was excited to be watching it again Sunday night, even though I was so tired my eyes were pretty much half-closed throughout the whole show. For that reason, some of my observations might be a little hazy...Forgive me.

- I always root for the hot boy team. 'Cause there's almost always a hot boy team. When I heard there were Frat Boys in the Race this year, I assumed that would be "my team". However, the Frat Boys are not what you'd typically think of when you hear the term "Frat Boys". They're kinda chubby, and a little goofy-looking. Sort of reminiscent of the guys in Superbad. That being said, I didn't actually mind them, they were kind of funny. They may end up being "my team" after all.

- With my Frat Boys decidedly not hot, I went on search of the hottest guy in the Race to root for, praying he wasn't already paired up with a girlfriend or wife. I discovered Dallas, who is racing with his mom, Toni. Kinda cool, I think, especially since she was a single mother and raised him by herself, so you know they have a tight bond and that should help them in the race. Not too many young men would choose to do the Race with their mothers, so I think it's sweet and they're my favourite team...for now.

- Is it just me, or do Terrence and Sarah seem like a severely mis-matched couple? She's insulted 'cause the other teams aren't all that buddy-buddy with her. She's more interested in making friends and chatting with the other teams. Terrence is in super-competitive mode, and now he's pissed that she's trying to connect with other teams instead of him. While they did very well in the first leg, finishing third, I'm not sure their new relationship can withstand the stress of the Race.

- The brother/sister duo of Nick and Starr annoyed me. I didn't like their matching cammo outfits, and I didn't like that they started calling Ken & Tina their "Mom & Dad". (I was surprised it didn't piss Ken & Tina off, too). The day I get my brother to do a dance routine with me the way they did in their intro will be the day hell freezes over...

- Does it really matter if you get on the 9:00 flight or the 9:45? Seems like the different start times which are supposed to be "penalties" don't really have that great an impact on the final results. If a team is fast, smart, and composed, they should be able to do well no matter what, especially with so many others getting flustered, imploding all around them.

- The challenges on the first leg seemed pretty simple. Wheeling a little truck loaded with boxes of stuff through the streets of Brazil? As long as you kept your load from toppling off, it was pretty quick and simple. And then the majority of the teams chose to go down the outdoor elevator - basically a big net thing that they had to climb down. Admittedly, it did sound like an easier task. But the Frat Boys decided to do the climbing stairs on their knees, and it proved to be a pretty fast challenge. The only hitch was not knowing what the question would be at the top. They did have to do it again to count the number of stairs they went up, but even having done it twice, they still had no trouble avoiding elimination, landing at the pit stop in 7th, right behind my hot boy Dallas and his mom.

- I don't think there's a more stereotypical "American Couple" than Ken & Tina. He's an ex pro football player, and she's his aging Barbie Doll wife. They've been seperated for months after she caught him cheating on her, but they still love each other and are hoping the Race will bring them back together again. Excuse me while I go puke...

- Speaking of stereotypes... It wasn't too difficult to toss Arthur & Anita under the "Hippie" label. Both with long flowing grey hair and tie-dyed t-shirts, the beekeepers seemed to love being old hippies. Unfortunately for them, they were always a step behind the vastly younger teams, and at the end of the day, they didn't even have a chance. They were first to be nixed from the competition.

That's all I can think of right now. Looking forward to the next leg!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Early Observations from Survivor: Gabon

Hey guys!

As you arrive to read the Blog today, you'll notice a few little changes. I jazzed things up a little yesterday by adding a poll - look for a new one every couple of days. And I finally figured out how to add a list of links! More changes could be coming soon, so try to contain your excitement... ;)

Now, on to Survivor. Last night kicked off the season of Gabon. No idea where that is, but sure, let's give 'er! Here's my early impressions:

- I missed the first half hour because of Karate, and tuned in just in time to see the first girl get eliminated. I didn't get to see much of her, but as far as I could tell, it was a good riddance situation. What a skinny raging bitch! She was pissed 'cause she wasn't on the "good-looking tribe" (if I were her tribemates Dan & Matty - pretty good-looking dudes - I'd be insulted), and called her tribemates losers. Atta be the cancer of the group right off the bat, chickie!

- The two tribes are called Kota and Fang. But Fang is pronounced "Fong". Hmm. Kota's really awesome and have won everything so far. Fang sucks. Big time.

- I was excited when I heard one of the competitors was named "Jillian". Turns out, it's with a "G", and she's a 60-year-old nurse who wouldn't even help one of her tribe members when he cut his head, claiming it was too dark to see the wound. Her tribed quickly deduced she was dead weight, and she would have been voted off first, except for crankypants skin-n-bones. Gillian made it through the first Tribal Council, but she wasn't so lucky the second go-round.

- I kept seeing this hot guy in the promo commercials, but it took me awhile to pick him out last night. When I finally did, my first impressions were correct. Marcus is hot. Colby-esque in his hotness. And smart. He's a doctor. Mmmmmm...!! The weird part? He instantly made friends with Charlie the gay lawyer, who has a secret crush on him. It kinda threw me off, and I was afraid my "HOT SURVIVOR GUY" was actually gay. Lindsay confirmed for me this morning that I didn't miss anything in the early part of the show - Marcus is definitely not gay. Phew!!

- Anyone else sick of the great leader debate that seems to take place with at least one of the tribes every year? GC automatically lost points in my book for first offering to be the leader of his disfunctional tribe, then stepping down from his post a day later. What a coward.

- I hate Randy, the guy who cut his head and had to get the medical team in on, like, the first day. He's an ass. And he made comments about Gillian-with-a-"G" being so old ... Um, check a mirror, buddy, you're not exactly a spring chicken yourself!!

- The only good part about the Fang tribe, as far as I can tell, is Matty. He's the closest thing to hot after Marcus. He keeps his mouth shut, gives it his all in the challenges, and never gets involved in the constant squabbling. I hope he can last through these early days of turmoil on his tribe, because if he could get over there in the Marcus-Charlie alliance, they could become a powerhouse.

- I initially thought Dan was hot too, and he is, except he's also a bit "duh", which takes away from his attractiveness. His lawyer-speak is annoying, and he couldn't even find the hidden immunity idol when he was sent to Exile, wasting his time by over-analyzing the clue. Bone head.

- One of the girls on Kota mentioned how they seemed to have all the smart guys. She would appear to be correct. Bob the physics teacher looks like a geek but is so strong in the mental challenges, like puzzles and untying knots - major asset. Charlie's a lawyer and Marcus is a doctor. Lots of school years between the two of them, I'm thinking. And even Ace, who would appear to be the flaky male who leads his team in yoga exercises in their underwear, seems to be extremely intelligent and fits in well with his group. This tribe is definitely a force to be reckoned with.

- As usual, I have a hard time catching on to names after the first night, and even I find it funny that I can name all the guys, but not one girl, except Gillian-with-a-"G". Gosh, I love boys.

- Did I mention how hot Marcus is?

OK, I think that's enough for Episode 1...

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Wade Redden...In New Colours

I've spent the entire summer trying to sort out my Wade Redden dilemma. I've talked about it with friends, I've blogged about it, I've spent many a sleepless night agonizing over it.

(OK...that last part is not really true, but I said it anyways to add some literary flair. Snazzy, huh?)

What to do, what to do? What to do about my boy Wade?

Cheer for him and the New York Rangers? Cheer for the Sens but keep my eye on the Rangers? Turn my back on him entirely and remain faithful to the Red-Black-&-Gold, no matter what?

As of this past weekend, I still wasn't entirely sure how I was going to treat this unpleasant situation I've found myself in. All I knew for sure was that I had never felt so unenthusiastic about Senators hockey as I did this year, entering training camp. A new coach, a whack of new faces, many of the old beloved ones gone. And no Wade.

Absolutely no Wade.

My excitement for NHL hockey, either Senators or Rangers, has been luke-warm at best.

Of course, I've had to face my dilemma head-on this preseason, with the Sens' first two games being a home-and-home with the Rangers. What a sneaky bit of scheduling that was.

I was almost relieved, though, to hear that Wade was not dressing for the first game in Ottawa. I wasn't quite ready to see him in Ranger colours, especially not on home ice. Because no matter who's signing his pay cheques now, you have to think he still considers Scotiabank Place, where he spent 11 seasons, his home rink.

He did, however, make his debut at Madison Square Garden on Monday night vs. the Sens. I was at Stacy & Ricky's playing BINGO, and Ricky switched over to the game on NHL Centre Ice. Within moments, the cameras flashed on Redden as he was skating off the ice with some of his teammates. They zoomed right in on him, and I had the same reaction I always used to have when he had a close-up on TV:

"Oh! It's Wade! Hi, Wade!"

Then I had a moment of bewilderment when I realized I hadn't recognized him at first. It had taken a couple of seconds for me to clue in who it was.

And then I understood why.

I didn't recognize him because of his new colours!!

So used to him in a Sens jersey, I hadn't even stopped to think of what he'd look like in Ranger blue. And then, there he was. Looking like a Ranger...Acting like a Ranger. Yet my heart was screaming, He's a Senator!!!

It was a difficult moment for me. Probably the hardest thing I've had to do since watching him play out his final minutes as a Senator last spring. If I hadn't been sitting at Stacy & Ricky's, I probably would have cried.

It does help to know that he's struggling with this as well. He says all the right things, about how excited he is to be in the Big Apple, and how much he likes the team and his colleagues. But after that pre-season game when he had to suit up against his old friends, he said this:

''I don't know if it was more weird being here for the first time wearing this (uniform) or playing against that one,'' Redden said. ''I got them both out of the way.''

Well, Wade, I sort of felt the same way.

I'm glad it's out of the way for now, so that hopefully when I'm at the game on Nov. 22 for his first official return to Ottawa in the regular season, I won't get all silly and emotional. I still haven't really decided who I'll be cheering for that night, either.

But I still have another few months to figure that one out.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Fun with iTunes!

I've really enjoyed watching my iTunes grow over the past month-and-a-half...At this current moment, I have over a thousand songs downloaded and on my iPod. According to my iTunes, that's 2.7 days worth of music. Everything from rock, country, alternative, blues, rockabilly, hip-hop, rap, folk, live versions, acoustic versions, covers...You name it, chances are I might have it.

So, thanks to an idea I got from another blog (http://randomlyyoursbouffe.blogspot.com/), I'm going to play a little game. For those of you who also have iTunes, feel free to play along and post your own answers in the comments section of the blog!

Open your iTunes
Sort by song title
Share the first song you have for each letter

A - Absolutely Anytime - The Watchmen
B - Baba O'Reilly - The Who
C - California Love - Tupac ft. Dr. Dre
D - Dance Naked - John Mellancamp
E - Emotional Girl - Terri Clark
F - Factory Girl - The Higgins
G - Geek in the Pink - Jason Mraz
H - Half Your Age - Kid Rock
I - I'll Be - Edwin McCain
J - Jack & Diane - John Mellancamp
K - Karma Police - Radiohead
L - Ladies & Gentlemen - Saliva
M - Made of Steel - Our Lady Peace
N - Name - Goo Goo Dolls
O - Oh Boy - Buddy Holly
P - Paralyzer - Finger 11
Q - Quit Playing Games - The Backstreet Boys
R - R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A. - John Mellancamp
S - Santa Monica - Everclear
T - Take a Bow - Rihanna
U - Umbrella - Boyce Avenue (cover)
V - Viva la Vida - Coldplay
W - Waitin' on a Woman - Brad Paisley
X -
Y - Yellow Brick Road - Raine Maida
Z - Zombie - The Cranberries

1 - 1 2 3 4 - Feist
2 -
3 - 38 Years Old - The Tragically Hip
4 - 4AM - Our Lady Peace
5 -
6 - 6th Avenue Heartache - The Wallflowers
7 -
8 - 8 Days a Week - The Beatles
9 -

As an addition to the game, here are some observations I made while compiling my list...

Song I Was Most Embarassed to Write Down: The Backstreet Boys' "Quit Playing Games"
My Favourite Song on the List: "38 Years Old" by the Hip
Song My Parents Would be Most Likely to Listen To: "Oh Boy" by Buddy Holly

Also...It would appear that John Mellancamp is a heavy favourite, making it on the list three times...??? Not quite sure how that happened, but I do love all three of those songs!

Well that was fun...Thanks for letting me play! :)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Bad Night For Ball...

Forgive me if I'm a little cranky today.

Not only did my team lose in our do-or-die game to advance to the Quyon League 3-pitch finals, the Quyon Flyers also lost their do-or-die game to advance to the GOFL finals.

I was terrible last night in our game. As per usual, I suppose, but I'm still kicking myself for not making a catch (would've been my first catch of the season). I hate losing. I'm a very sore loser. I also hate being the worst ball player in the world. I hate knowing I suck that bad. Gah.

But I think hearing about the Flyers loss hurt more. Especially knowing that they were winning through most of the game, and it came down to extra innings again, but this time they weren't able to pull it off. The 56'ers won it in the bottom of the 9th. (For full details, see http://fitzroyfastball.blogspot.com/ )

At the end of the day, though, I think the Flyers should be holding their heads up high. They've competed at a high level all summer long, and despite being one of the youngest teams in their league, they've held their own against the experienced veterans filling out most other line-ups in the GOFL.

The good news? They're still a young team, with a long and promising future ahead of them. This year, they almost made it to the finals. One has to believe they'll have many opportunities to get there in the years to come.

The Flyers will have one last hurrah this weekend, as they'll be playing in another tournament before the ball season winds down. Good luck, guys, and congrats on getting as far as you did in the playoffs!!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Memphis the Mysterious

Somehow, this summer, I've managed to save you guys from reading my ramblings on Big Brother. I figured you were getting enough with just Canadian Idol. And if I'm being entirely honest, I really was more interested in Idol than Big Brother this summer, anyways, and I had much more to say about the hot boys of Idol than I did about the hot boys of BB10.

That being said, I did follow Big Brother through til the end, and I was extremely happy that the one dude I was rooting for throughout most of the competition ended up in the Final 2.

Ladies & gentlemen...Meet Memphis:

Memphis was a pretty quiet guy inside the Big Brother house this summer. He didn't do much to rock the boat, he was laid-back, and seemed to avoid getting in the middle of any big dust-ups (which are extremely hard to stay away from in there).

The only time I ever remember Memphis getting hot under the collar was when he found out Jerry, the senior citizen in the house, had been calling him a "womanizer". Memphis took it personally, and roared at Jerry to never call his character into question like that again when he didn't even know him as a person.

It struck me at that moment that, despite watching him for weeks, none of us really knew Memphis as a person. And on a show like Big Brother, with cameras on the contestants at all times, capturing all their conversations, it's unusual for the audience to know as little about one of the competitors as we knew about Memphis. All we seemed to know was that he was a "mixologist" - which he insists is different than a bartender, but what the heck is it really? He had that mysterious, cool vibe going for him, and I think that drew me in even more.

A week or so ago, after his good friend Dan had put him up on the block to throw their remaining house mates off the scent of their alliance, we finally got a sneak peek into "the real Memphis". Big Brother cameras sought out his long-term girlfriend Ashley in LA and she opened up a bit about the man she's been dating for over three years. She spoke of how Memphis had a bad relationship with his father, and that he tried very hard to be the exact opposite of his dad, so that was why he was so upset when Jerry called him a womanizer. She claimed him to be a faithful and loving boyfriend, despite his party animal instincts. And then Memphis himself told Dan that he loved his girlfriend very much, and that being in the Big Brother house made him realize how he'd been taken her for granted and how he wanted to make things better with her when he got out. He said he was ready to take the next step with her and make more of a commitment.

OK. I swooned. Not just "hot & mysterious". Now add "sweet & loving" to Memphis' character profile, and I got me the perfect man!

I was thrilled that Dan & Memphis were able to keep their "Renegade" alliance a secret, and through careful planning and a bit of luck, it was the Renegades going up against a jury of their former peers last night, each trying to prove they deserved to win the half-million dollar prize money.

Unfortunately, Memphis never won an HoH in the game, and Dan won three times, and that seemed to play big in the jurors' decisions. At the end of the night, Dan was handed the cheque for $500,000 - and I wasn't surprised after listening to what the jury had to say. They had made up their minds that Dan deserved it more because he won more.

I still think that Memphis played more intelligently, and the fact that he was able to keep the blood off his hands by getting Dan and others to do his dirty work was a better strategy. The fact that he actually admitted to throwing competitions just shows how far one can get in the game without actually being in power. He was wise, stealth, and cunning, and he won the Power of Veto on several clutch occasions.

Alas, the jury decided to reward the schmoozy, schmaltzy Dan instead. They didn't even throw Memphis one measly vote. I was a little disappointed. While I didn't dislike Dan, I'm certain that if I knew both of these guys in real life, Memphis would be the one I'd rather have as a friend. Dan was over-the-top, could get theatrical, and his speeches annoyed me. Memphis didn't have the gift of the silver tongue, but in my mind, he was more genuine and straight-up.

Oh. And, did I mention...HOT?? ;)

So yet another of my favourite summer shows is now over. What a relief to know that training camp started today. At least there will be some hockey talk coming up.

And last but not least - good luck to the Quyon Flyers tonight in their Game #5 vs. the Stittsville 56'ers. If they win, they'll be headed to the GOFL finals against Team Easton. Go get 'em!!!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

My Canadian Idol Withdrawals

Last night was Monday night. For the past three months or so, Monday nights have been Canadian Idol nights, and last night, there was no Idol for me to watch.

I was a little sad. I wasn't sure how I was supposed to get through this particular Monday night without my Idol fix.

Fortunately, I had taped many of the episodes over the course of the summer, especially back in the Oliver & Sebastian Pigott days. So to the chagrin of my brother, who would much rather have been playing Guitar Hero or watching football, I subjected him to watching old snippets of Idol - not all of it, but anything that had Oliver or Sebastian in it, and then some of my other favourite performances (like Amberly's "Redemption Song", Theo's "Weak in the Knees", Mitch's "I'm Yours", Earl's "Two").

I know. I'm pathetic. But honestly, what else am I supposed to do until hockey starts? It seems to me that I go through this gap every year, when I miss watching Idol, but there's no Sens action to divert my attention.

I think I've figured out what my problem is. I have this incessant need to cheer for someone. Whether it's a team like the Sens, or a performer on Idol like Oliver & Sebastian, I'm always - always - rooting someone on. Like I'm tied to them by some cosmic force, and I just can't let go. And truth be told, I think I'm living vicariously through them. I'm not an athlete; I'm not a particularly good musician or singer. Despite wishing and trying, I basically suck. So by clinging on to someone who actually can do it, whether it be sports or music, I get to feel the ups & the downs, the joys & the pain, of being in that position.

My little passions - they are my drug. So when I'm all out, I do seem to go into withdrawals.

That's why I keep that stash of old tapes on hand - when I hit bottom, they always seem to get me through. ;)

Monday, September 15, 2008

A New Discovery; An Old Favourite

One of the biggest joys in my life, as most of you know, is making musical "discoveries" - when I unexpectedly stumble across a musician, singer, or band that I've never heard of before, and they blow me away with their awesomeness.

It's probably why I enjoy shows like Canadian Idol & American Idol. I love feeling like one of the first people to enjoy this fresh, untapped talent, and promote it in my circle of friends. This Blog has become a great vehicle for me to discuss new music that I love - and that I want you to love, too.

So here we go again!

On Saturday night, I had the pleasure of taking in the Randy Travis concert at the Civic Centre. My taste in music is wide & diversified, so it shouldn't come as too much of a surprise that I have a bit of a soft-spot for Mr. Travis. Hearing his voice takes me back to Sunday drives when I was a kid, with my mom & dad up front, and all three of us kids in the backseat. We had exactly four tapes to listen to - Gail Gavan, Elvis Presley, Kenny Rogers, and Randy Travis. The only ones my dad would tolerate as we toured the back roads of the Pontiac, looking for deer and singing at the top of our lungs.

When I hear songs from any of those four albums, I still know the words off by heart.

So yes, I was looking forward to seeing Randy Travis in concert for the first time, and hearing all those old favourites from my childhood.

What I wasn't expecting was to be absolutely blown away by his opening band, The Higgins. From the moment they took the stage with a beautiful acapella version of "Factory Girl", I was captivated by Kathleen, Eileen, and John Higgins, siblings from Delta, B.C.

Their music was country, infused with a Celtic flavour, and the blend of their three voices together was pure magic. Their set lasted for about an hour, as they played songs from their new album The Real Thing. I haven't been listening to much country radio lately, but apparently they're getting air time on Y101, so you may already be familiar with them.

If you're not, check them out at http://www.higginsmusic.com/ - you won't regret it! I forked out $20 for their CD, and I've become a big fan in just a matter of days. I just love them.

Now, after enjoying the opening act so much, I was afraid Randy Travis wouldn't be able to compare, but I needn't have worried. He kicked things off with the ever-popular "Diggin' Up Bones", and never stopped the whole night through. Highlights for me were "I Told You So", "Three Wooden Crosses", and a fun sing-along to "King of the Road". We were also treated to some of his new songs from his current album, Around the Bend, and I particularly enjoyed "Dig Two Graves" and "Everything I Own Has Got a Dent". Of course, what would a Randy Travis show be without "Forever and Ever Amen"? He closed the show with his signature hit, and the crowd loved every second of it.

Speaking of the crowd... I have never been to a show where so many people had to be helped to their seats. There were walkers and canes and wheelchairs galore. The most popular hair colour was white. Hardly anybody stood up, and hand clapping was about as lively as it got in the seats. Kristen, Luke & I were clearly amongst the youngest fans in attendance. Yet it didn't put a damper on the concert at all. Just glancing around, I could see the enjoyment on everyone's faces, young and old, and Randy Travis is quite an entertainer. His jokes between songs were funny, even to us, and his on-stage banter with the crowd was fresh and amusing.

Interesting how on the same stage, I found both a new act and an old favourite, equally enjoyable in completely different ways. Thanks to The Higgins and Randy Travis, it was well worth the admission price!

Friday, September 12, 2008

And We're Going to Extra Innings...

It was a chilly one at the Quyon ball park last night, but a large crowd - probably the biggest of the summer - filled the bleachers to watch the hometown Flyers take on the Stittsville 56'ers in Game #4 of their best-of-5 semifinal in the Greater Ottawa Fastball League.

With their playoff lives on the line, the Flyers needed a big win to push the series to the 5th and final game. It became clear early on that they weren't about to get blown out the way they did the night before in Stittsville. They were tight defensively, and on several occasions, Quyon's Drew Hathway pitched them out of a jam, and looked quite impressive on the mound for the Flyers.

Unfortunately, they weren't able to get much going offensively. Inning after inning, they were leaving runners stranded on the bags, unable to get that big hit to bring some runs in. When a 56'er solo homerun put the enemy ahead 1-0 mid-game, I was concerned that the local boys wouldn't be able to put together enough offensive power to get it back.

There was no need to worry. In the bottom half of the same inning, Quyon shortstop Matt Greer hit one long to draw them even with Stittsville, giving the Flyers fans reason to believe.

Of course, I managed to miss one of the "highlights" of the game when I decided to take a run to the little girls' room in the middle of an inning. I was just emerging from the washroom when I heard a big cheer go up in the stands. Upon returning to my seat, I learned I had missed my very own baby bro throwing a guy out at home.

It was pure excitement up in the bleachers. Tensions were high and the cheering was loud. Never once did we give up, or believe that it couldn't be done. After 7 innings, and still tied 1-1, the game went into extra innings, and then we were all on the edge of our seats, particularly with a runner placed on second to start each inning.

It was in the 10th inning that the 56'ers scored another run, forcing Quyon to answer back in the bottom of the inning ...or else. By this point, it was getting awfully cold up in the stands - I know my teeth were chattering, although I'm not sure it was entirely just the frigid night air. Could've been nerves!!

It all came down to the bottom of the 10th. At last, Quyon was able to break through with some hits and a few wild pitches that hit players, getting men on base, and scoring one to tie the game. When Steve McCord came up to bat with two out, he was able to connect bat to ball and finish the game, bringing in the winning run to the roar of the cold but rowdy crowd!!

Game #5 will be played in Stittsville next week, date and time yet to be determined. And I apologize for my rather vague reporting on the game - for some reason, when it came to sorting out details, I got a little muddled and started mixing up what happened in what inning - I'll blame it on the freezing cold I sat through to watch the game. Guess next time I'll have to bring a pad & pen to take notes, like a real reporter!

For a full and accurate re-cap (likely to be updated later today), check out: http://fitzroyfastball.blogspot.com/


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Theo Gets the Glory!

Hmmm...There doesn't seem to be any Quyon Flyers bragging on the Blog this morning...Better luck tonight, boys!!
So after my own ball game last night (which we also lost), I headed home and stayed up til midnight watching my taped Canadian Idol finale. A lil zonked today, not gonna lie, but I think it was worth it.
As promised, it was a star-studded affair, with many special guests and performances before Ben Mulroney finally revealed the winner of this year's competition. And yes, folks, something finally - FINALLY - went right for me on Idol this summer, when Theo Tams was crowned this year's winner! Theo really did deserve the victory - his voice is amazing, his performances were memorable and strong, and I'm sure he'll go a long way in the music business and sell lots of records. Kudos to him & I wish him well!

So now I'll run down my list of highlights and lowlights for the night.

First of all, after watching performance after performance, it struck me how the Canadian Idol finale is a lot like an awards show - without any awards being presented in between. And to be quite honest, I'd far rather they fill in the two hours with just performance from the Top 10, Top 2, and re-cap reels, because that's basically all that interested me last night. Brian Melo? Nice to see ya back, but I didn't like his song at all. John Legend? Honestly, never heard of the guy before this past week, and while I think he's a handsome dude, his music isn't my thing. Jully Black? She had her ups & downs as sort-of-co-host this year, but her performance last night was just "meh" for me. I enjoyed the re-caps of her hanging with the contestants more. Again, not my cuppa tea. And Mariah Carey? She looked a little Botox-y, her mic stand was awfully twinkly...and aside from those notables, not much else to say. Another letdown.

Fair to say that the only non-Top-10 performance I really enjoyed was by Hedley, singing my favourite Hedley song, "Old School". Loved it.

Now, for me, as a huge fan of Sebastian Pigott's (bet ya didn't know that, eh?), the big highlights of the night were anytime he was on stage. Literally. Even when he was so much as just standing there, my eyes were on him. My gosh, how I've missed the guy.

The Top 10 kicked off the show by singing "Can't Stop This Thing We've Started" by Bryan Adams, then they each broke off to do their own mini-performances. Sebastian rocked out to CCR's "Down on the Corner", and it was really cool. Reminiscent of his "Lucille" perfomance. And boy, was he looking good last night!!

After a taped segment that took us to Malawi with Ben & Farley to promote UNICEF, the Top 10 took the stage again for a special performance - it was very touching. Again, my eyes were on Sebastian the whole time. Holy hell, he's hot.

The final time they all took the stage together was my absolute favourite part of the night. Partly because they sang "Home" by Daughtry, aka Chris Daughtry, a former American Idol contestant of whom I'm a big fan. Partly 'cause I love that song. Partly 'cause it was Sebastian's best vocal of the night - he really nailed the little part he got to sing. It was just perfect!

When we finally got down to the business of the Final 2, both Theo and Mitch were allowed to showcase their favourites from the summer. Theo chose "Weak in the Knees", and just like the first time around, he did an amazing job with it. Absolutely wonderful. I was also really happy that Mitch decided to reprise "Love this Town" - it was one of my favourites, too, and when he sang it, I actually thought, "Ya know, it wouldn't be so bad if he did win this thing..."

Last but not least, the guys joined together for one final hurrah, taking on Blue Rodeo's "Hasn't Hit Me Yet", with Theo on piano and Mitch on guitar... And it was really, really awesome. The best Final 2 performance ever. The lyrics were appropriate for the situation they were in, and the harmonies were excellent. I hope that they decide to record it together and put it on one of their future albums. It's sure to be a part of the Top 3 Tour which they will be going on this fall with Drew. So cool!

I was thankful on finale night that Sebastian's older brother, Oliver, didn't go unmentioned. I spotted him briefly in several of the re-cap packages, and it really was a credit to him when Theo brought him up when he spoke of how nerve-wracking it was when they narrowed the group down to the Top 24. He said that when he was brought in for his final judgement, along with two other guys, he was sure they were all being sent home, because eight guys had already been selected, and Oliver and Sebastian were both still waiting in the room. I still consider it a travesty that Oliver didn't make it to the Top 10. Every time I listen to his songs, I'm absolutely floored by how amazing he is, and it was nice to hear the eventual winner give him those kind of props. Obviously, the Pigott brothers were highly respected by their peers on the show, and I don't doubt that even Theo probably wonders how it wasn't Ollie standing next to him last night.

I was searching for Oliver and the rest of Sebastian's family in the crowd last night, but I was never able to pick them out. Of course, the camera is always seeking out the celebs in the crowd, and they were there in droves last night - MuchMusic VJ's; the judges for So You Think You Can Dance Canada (which starts tonight); athletes like Kurt Browning; prolific Canadian newscasters; actors from shows like Degrassi: The Next Generation; and other performers, like Matt Dusk. In fact, Dusk was my favourite, because when the camera zoomed in on him, they seemed to ignore the fact that he was sitting right next to Tie Domi!! Apparently Tie is no longer recognizable enough to get his own "shout-out"!! HILARIOUS!!

Oh - and I also loved it when Theo was finally announced the winner and the rest of the Top 10 gathered on stage while the red-and-white confetti fluttered down on them. It appeared as though Earl & Sebastian were trying to catch the little pieces, chasing them around the stage - it made me laugh just watching them, and it reminded me of what a great group it was this year.

All in all, it's been a great season on Canadian Idol, with many highs and lows, but at the end of the day, I do think the best man won.

Congrats to Theo, and I'm looking forward to what he does in the future!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

So It Comes Down to This...

Last night on Canadian Idol, our final 2 performers took to the stage in one last effort to impress the voting public and stake their claim on the "Canadian Idol" crown.

Doesn't seem so long ago that I sat down to watch that very first audition episode, several months back.

So much has changed and evolved since then. That night, I was ready to throw the Pigott brothers up there as the final 2 - hands down, no questions asked. Even still, I can honestly say they were the biggest highlight of this season for me, and I'm so thankful to have discovered them.

But back then, in the audition process, I can actually recall both Mitch McDonald and Theo Tams.

Mitch struck me as looking like a nerd, but had this different voice that sort of stopped you and made you think, "Wow...He's really good."

And Theo - well, Theo was "The Sweaty Guy". I laughed when he made reference to that last night - I'd almost forgotten. When he walked in to audition, his perspiring pits were about all you could think of. That is, until he started to sing. And then, you had to stop and say, "Wow...That dude is really good."

Months later, they are the last guys standing. The Guitar Man and The Piano Man.

It will be interesting to see which one of them wins this thing. In my mind, the title is Theo's, without a doubt. He's been so consistently strong throughout the whole competition, and has had some of the most memorable performances of the season - if not any season. (Stand-outs for me have been: "Bubbly", "Weak in the Knees", "Collide", "Chariot", "Heaven", and my favourite from last night's show, "Good Mother"). The judges have said it, and I have to agree - Theo is probably the best male vocalist they've ever had on the show. He's been a pleasure to watch, night after night, and I'll be the first to stand and applaud him when Ben announces him as the winner tomorrow night.

That's not to say Mitch McDonald is done for. As I've mentioned several times, he's got a huge fanbase out there, and he's a Maritime boy, so he also has that whole voting contingent which seem more passionate about their Idol than any other part of the country. Mitch has a unique tone, and he's remained true to his Indie roots throughout the competition, sticking to more obscure, quirky song choices which he clearly loves to perform. I still think Mitch winning would be an upset, but everyone loves an underdog, right?

So the masterminds of Canadian Idol have decided to shake things up this year, and instead of showing the results tonight, as they have every other week, they're going to make us wait until Wednesday for the 2-hour finale.

I can already guarantee that no amount of John Legend, Hedley, Mariah Carey, or Brian Melo (all slated to take the stage in the star-studded affair) will overshadow the main reason I'll be watching...

Sebastian will be back!!!

I was already giddy just spotting him in the crowd last night, along with the other booted Top 10 finalists. (This shot, from http://www.idol.ctv.ca/ shows my other fave, Mookie, clowning around with Seb).

Can't wait to see how this thing goes down...Look for a full report on Thursday!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

CD Review: Can You Dig It? It's Oliver Pigott!

If you go to cdbaby.com and search for Oliver Pigott, you'll find a brief write-up on the man; the musician:

Oliver Pigott. He is all at once a powerful singer, timeless songwriter and magnetic, explosive performer...What most people recognize instantly is the kid´s astounding lyrical abilities. As one admirer from Los Angeles explained, ´´It´s almost as if Oliver has spent his young life on a train and seen the world in all its joy, pain, benevolence, cruelty and social injustice.´´ The tunes, too, speak of a world-weary soul, resulting in a wonderful melodic mix of blues, country, folk and rock ´n´ roll...In the words of one devoted Pigott concertgoer, ´´Oliver picks up that guitar and steps up to the microphone like he´s coming home. I´ve seen him so many times because he´s twenty feet tall onstage and I can´t look away.´´

By now, you, my faithful readers, are all familiar with my Pigott fixation. After being introduced to the brothers from Toronto via Canadian Idol this past Spring, I followed them through their unfortunately brief stints on Idol, and since then, I've done some Internet research (read: cyberstalking) to find out as much as I can about Oliver and his younger sibling, Sebastian. Consquently, my Blog has been lively this summer with my Pigott chatter, even long after they were both sent home from the Idol stage.

Thanks to this new-age world of technology and that fabulous site cdbaby.com, one of my greatest "finds" was the downloadable version of Oliver Pigott's album, Year of the Pig. For the past month, I've been listening to it almost incessantly, and falling in love with each song over and over again.

It's somewhat difficult to describe Oliver. From the different websites and biographies I've read about him, apparently others have had trouble boxing him in to one genre of music as well. His music has been labelled everything from pop to folk rock, from folk to acoustic rock, from rootsy blues to soul.

Rather than try to pigeon-hole Ollie into one of those categories, I'll simply tell you this: His voice is like a warm, rich cup of coffee. When I hear the deep, rasping timbres of his voice, it soothes me and compels me to listen. And from listening, I've been privy to some of the most beautiful lyrics and masterful storytelling I've ever heard in music.

The album kicks off with his signature track "Our Generation", a passionate, politically-charged promise to our elders that, while they may believe us to be a bunch of lazy asses, we're actually just lying in wait for them to all step down so we can take charge and clean up their messes. The opening verse of the song is as follows:

Out by still waters, your sons and your daughters -
Forgotten although we may be -
Have seen what you've done to the world that you've run,
To the things that you choose not see.
On the fateful day that you all step down
And we take your places,
Then the love you lost will be finally found
In a billion faces.

"Our Generation" might be the most radio-ready song that Oliver has in his compilation, and it makes me proud to be who I am, and from this generation. It's like a rallying cry for us to be ready to stand up and fight for what we believe in when that day comes.

The other most mainstream tune is "Rich & Loaded", probably the closest he comes to all out rock & roll, with the catchy chorus that has had me singing along: "Rich and loaded livin' on the corner, This is how we all get high!" It's grittier, and conjures images of Ollie and his friends hanging out on a street corner, playing music and having a blast.

Then we have what I consider the two dark, bluesy offerings, "Shed My Sin" and "Let Your Devil Die", both dealing in subject matter with battling your demons and searching for fresh beginnings, leaving pain and suffering behind. With Ollie's rich, dark voice seemingly coming from deep inside him, almost guttural at times, along with the simple but effective accompaniment of his talented acoustic guitar playing, both of these songs take on lives of their own.

On the softer, gentler side of Oliver, we've got "Still on Your Mind", a heart-wrenching song in which he seems to be speaking to a former lover who has left him behind for a better life, and he's consoled by the fact that she can't get him out of her thoughts. There's also "Best Drink I Ever Had", a toast to the past and a wish for the future, in which he sings, So pour me the best drink I've ever had; Here's to the life I just left behind. As with all of his songs, the poignant lyrics resonate, and I find myself thinking about them long after the song is over.

Back into the up-tempo selections, there is "Anna Turn It Up", which always has me singing along - memorable for its simplicity and how easily the words get stuck in your head. We also have "American Miracle", which takes on an edgy tone as he tells the story of falling in love with a beauty from the U.S. And another highlight from the CD is "Storm Brewing", with yet another catchy chorus: Storm brewin', let me in. I am sickly, pale & thin, Mama. Don't leave me alone outside, in the cellar let me hide, Mama. From the videos I've seen on Youtube, this has become a staple in the Oliver & Sebastian Show (which they're taking on the road out West this fall), with Ollie letting his little brother join in and making it a bit of an on-stage duel between the two siblings.

Last, but certainly not least, is the song "Follow That Car". After my initial speed-listen to the record (when I quickly jump through every song and listen to only the first 30 seconds or so), this was the song that grabbed me and took hold of me more than any other. It's just Ollie & his guitar again in a one-sided conversation, with him begging a cab driver to follow the car carrying a girl he just had a argument with. He wants to catch up to her so he can apologize and make things right before it's too late. It's a song that paints a vivid picture, and he really pours his heart out. I can tell you one thing - I'd certainly love to be the girl he's chasing. Usually, after repeatedly listening to a song as much as I've listened to this one, I eventually get sick of it and move on. That hasn't happened yet with "Follow That Car".

After Oliver's father, a blues harmonica player, passed away when he was a kid, his family moved to Portugal, where he sang and played in bars with his brother. In his teen years, he returned to Toronto, continuing his music with his band Laughing Sam's Dice. As an adult, he's lived in both LA and England, developing a fan base worldwide and getting his name and music out there.

Now, following his Canadian Idol fame, along with Sebastian's, Oliver's star continues to rise. As I mentioned before, they will be touring out West in the weeks to come, promoting their individual musical tendencies as a united front. There's no doubt in my mind that with Oliver's already-strong fanbase that he's only going to gain more recognition,and before long, he'll be a famed entertainer that this country can be proud of. I can't wait to see how far this guy can go.

I'm predicting big things. Very big things.

Oh, and on one final note - there seems to be a bit of a battle going on with Ollie's fans on-line. Some are fighting for him to "bring back the 'fro", which apparently was his trademark before taking to the Canadian Idol stage. I, however, became a fan of his when he was sporting the close-cropped look, so if anyone ever asks: I'm against the 'fro!!! ;)

Still a pretty good-lookin' dude, though, if I do say so myself...



Wednesday, September 03, 2008

My Summer of Discontent Continues...

Everyone knows I've been a little disgruntled this summer.

I've been dragged down repeatedly by bad news, and I've wallowed in it. People have died young & tragically (including Buzz from the Team 1200's TGOR morning radio show, who I still miss, and then there was the beheading of that young man on the bus out West, which still gives me chills); Heath Ledger spooked me with his portrayal of the Joker; Wade Redden cut his ties with the Ottawa Senators; Canada went the whole first week of the Beijing Olympics without a medal; the weather has SUCKED (especially when we got a torrential thunderstorm in Toronto just at the time my cousin was getting married); now we're not allowed to eat meat because of this Maple Leaf disease. Geesh!

Everyone keeps telling me that bad stuff happens every summer, but for some reason I'm just paying more close attention to it this year.

Whatever. I've been getting bad vibes all summer long. That's why I've labelled this my "Summer of Discontent".

Oh, and there's another big contributor to my summer-long funk, and that has been Canadian Idol. The Idol gods have not been on my side during these fair-weather (haha!) months of 2008.

First, it was the early eliminations of both Pigott brothers, which I still declare unfair and ridiculous, especially Oliver not making it to the Top 10. Absolutely baffling.

Then, after Sebastian was cut after the Top 8, I turned my attention to Mookie Morris, who was sent home two weeks ago, just making it to the Top 5. My last-ditch effort to be happy on finale night came when I threw my support behind the adorable Drew Wright last week on the heels of him singing Anne Murray's "Hey Daddy" (one of my favourite performances this year).

Of course, Drew was given the boot last night.

Nobody wants me to be happy this summer!

That being said, Theo Tams does probably deserve the crown this year, and after Drew was sent packing last night, I'm almost 100% positive Theo will take the title in next week's finale. As nice and sweet as Mitch McDonald is, he just doesn't have the musical chops that Theo has. Theo has been consistenly the top performer, week after week, blowing away the judges and audiences alike.

But I have this tiny niggling feeling that I can't count Mitch out just yet. The clips of the boys' hometown visits last night showed what I have suspected all summer long - Mitch has one helluva die-hard fan base and voting contingent out there. They're the only reason he's still there ahead of the likes of Amberly, Mookie, Earl, and even Drew. The crowd at his hometown concert stretched out for miles - it reminded me of the mob in Ottawa when the Sens were in the Stanley Cup finals that came out for the Sens Rally at City Hall. Absolutely massive.

There's no doubt in my mind that Mitch has not proven worthy of the Canadian Idol crown this year. He's been sweet & entertaining, and he's introduced me to some songs a probably would have never heard otherwise (Jason Mraz's "I'm Yours", Joel Plaskett's "Love this Town"), but compared to Theo and quite a few others in this year's competition, he's not even on the same level.

So knowing how my summer has gone so far...Yeah, it would only make sense for Mitch to win the whole damned thing.

On a positive note? Bryan Adams rocked the stage with one of my favourites "18 Til I Die" last night - what a great live performer! Seeing him up there sort of renewed my old appreciation for Mr. Adams.

Oh, and also, I get to see Sebastian back on the Idol stage in less that a week for finale night.

I'm looking more forward to that than actually seeing who wins!