Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Typing Out Loud: Just a Quick Race Before Hash

Candid from the race. Green is not my color.
A cupcake and a cookie? Love it!

So I participated in the Color Run a few weeks ago and the experience was a mixed bag. Awesome because it reunited me with some high school girlfriends, including one I haven't seen in over 20 years. Fun because I was all sorts of colors by the end. Special because it was in downtown Lansing around some old haunts I used to frequent when I was a student at LCC. But disappointing because I approached this event with the thought this was a real race. With 5 color stations and a water station along a narrow stretch of road with 20,000 racers, I never got above a brisk walk.

I trained for this?!

So with that in mind, I actually had what I consider a body craving for a race. Interesting, I've never had that before. I had three choices: the Y's Grand Haven 5k, a Cookie Dash 5k, or a Streets of Fire 8k.

I chose the cookies.

What I ended up choosing was a race close to home, on a cross country track, early enough to get it over with but not so early I wasn't able to sleep. And, it was organized by my friendly-but-not-quite-friends yet Y workout companion Rebecca.

Beautiful weather, a challenging course, and TONS of cookies at the end. I discovered dairy-free blueberry cookies. I discovered I don't mind a CC course, and improved my time by about 5 minutes compared to the Fuel Your Fire 5k last October. And, for the fourth race in a row, Ringo Starr made an appearance at the finish line. Even though I had the ipod on shuffle, I got Boys for the final stretch and I Wanna Be Your Man for the finish line. I think I need these cookies and a Ringo Starr shirt for my next race.

And we went out for breakfast after, and mommy got her corned beef hash. I earned it!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Why Art Matters: Local TV Commercials

So the partners read me the Freddie Rumsen speech... I'm going for the Dirt Cheap Chicken!

As a freelance Ad Girl, I love Mad Men for it's dramatization of the advertising business of the 60s as well as the soapy lives of the employees. Since I pay equal time to the business side of show, I find it interesting that outside of securing Chevy, Don Draper hasn't landed an account all season; the emphasis is about DD's personal downward spiral, but it looks like his professional life hit the toilet too.

Couple that with the hilarious depiction of a Wallside Windows ad by a coworker who barked, "Winders? We don' need no winders!"

Where will Don land when he hits rock bottom? My brain is spinning him towards small-time, locally produced commercials.

There is an artless art to the local ad, in the fact it's so bad, it's good. Yet there is a little something special about them.

Mascots: Mel Farr's Superstar. The Dirt Cheap Chicken. The Mattress Giant (oooh, ahhh!)

Shameless -- or charismatic -- Business Owners: Becky's Wholesale Carpets, with her tiara and flying carpet. Sundance Chevrolet's "Howdy Pardner!" Rose City Motors homespun guarantee that they will send you home in a "vee-hick-le."

Catchy jingles: everyone knows you "save big money at Menard's!" I haven't seen an ad for Mel Farr since the 70s, but you depend on "Mel Farr Superstar for a far better deal!" Empire Flooring's 800 number song.

Low end production values: lots of these ads are single camera productions on VHS (you can just tell!) with bad shadows, visible boom mikes, 80s video productions like flashing bursts and dizzying swipes. Used car lots are notorious for the shouting announcer too.

Far-fetched storylines: local father-son-grandson heating/cooling ad features the three generations (with a surprise 4th generation appearance twist) playing baseball with and against each other. The before mentioned Wallside Windows parodies of The Godfather as well as Newly Rich.

Monday, July 8, 2013

What's Right in the World: Who's the guy in the pointy hat with Mr. Woolsey?

Don't wear your warm ups and don't leave your harp in Sam Clam's Disco.

I'm looking forward to the Color Run this weekend for many reasons. First is getting completely stinking dirty. The second is meeting up with girls I graduated from high school with. We all had such a good time at our reunion last November, people are getting together here and there to do things, from bar hopping to open houses to 5ks.

Being alumni of Lumen Christi, when we talked about putting together a team for the run, it was only natural for us to select something special that was tied to the school and our experiences there. Mr. Woolsey was a natural choice, being resident cross country coach and freshman religion teacher (who also scared all the seniors in marriage class). Since his teams won a ridiculous number of state championships while we were classmates, dubbing ourselves his "other" dream team felt like a great homage to the man.

Teammate and fellow '87 alum Aimee ran into him at a graduation open house, and explained what we did in his honor. Touched, he gave his blessing and by way of endorsing our efforts, is getting us LC track shirts for the run. Awesome sauce!

But what's with all the jokey punch lines earlier in the blog? In order to get our attention and keep us engaged, Mr. W. would frequently open a class session with corny jokes. One was the tale of Bill Simms, who was so well known and so famous, people would often wonder who the guy in the suit (President of the U.S.) or the guy in the pointy hat (the pope) was that was with Bill Simms. The other is a silly pun on "I Left My Heart In San Francisco" that I unfortunately don't remember the set up. They were all groaners, but to think I remember the setup to one and the punchline to the other 29 years later is a testament to the man's standup by way of teaching.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

July Playlist: American Idol!

Oh I'm sorry, did I just slam-dunk this competition?

In terms of pop culture phenomenon, few can argue the impact of the TV show American Idol. The show has been a ratings hit from the first season, and it's contestants have dominated the pop, country, Christian, R&B, and Filipino charts as well as making a splash in theater, TV and the movies.

All out of a little singing competition resided over by a cranky Brit, ditzy pop star, and session musician.

Admittedly, I haven't watched the show for a couple years now, but when I did, I was a fanatic. Not voting-for-two-hours-straight crazy, but enthusiastic water cooler conversing. What got me there? Well, the following is my favorite Idol performances.

Angela Peel, As We Lay - Who? Black girl in punk band who could wail. A true talent that somehow slipped through the wild card cracks.

Nikki McKibbon, Hard Hearted Hannah - I'm a sucker for big band and rockers. Put 'em together, yay. Lot of people disliked Nikki, I didn't get the hate.

Kelly Clarkson, Stuff Like That There - She went from front runner to the only one that mattered. She held the word "it" for what felt like a minute and a half without wavering.

Ruben Studdard, Kiss and Say Goodbye - I LOVED the Velvet Teddy Bear, Claymates be damned. He wrapped old R&B melodies around his vocal chords and performed them ever so sweetly, and this rendition had me jumping on the couch.

Jennifer Hudson, I Have Nothing - I'm sure glad she showed Simon how wrong he was about her curls, her looks and her voice. Grammys. Academy Awards. Her best performance came, appropriately, during movie soundtrack week.

George Huff, What a Wonderful World - Probably one of the sweetest, most even-keeled performers on Idol ever. Only reason he was eliminated was because someone had to go. Shame.

Fantasia, Something to Talk About - One of the most unconventional Idol winners with a nasally speaking voice and interesting back story. Man did she perform.

Bo Bice, Time in a Bottle - My clear favorite for season four. I line listed at least 4 other songs here until I figured it was too much. And he remade the song Blaze of Glory for the adult-skaters-know-it-by-heart movie Blades of Glory.

Nadia Turner, Time After Time - Another cute black girl with an afro and a definite sense of who she was and what kind of singer she wanted to be. Unfortunately not an AI. I hope she is still performing.

Carrie Underwood, Crying - Although a big fan of Bo, she did a beautiful  job on this song. This was a year when Dave and I went head to head, as he was a big Carrie fan. She won me over with some of her pop releases in later years.

Chris Daughtry, I Walk the Line - He was part of my one/two favorite until he was unbelievably eliminated. What's up with that America?! He's crying all the way to the bank, thanks.

Taylor Hicks, Not Fade Away - Lots of people give Hicks crap for not being more radio friendly but I loved an Idol who knew the history of music, as his version of this Buddy Holly classic proves.

Lakisha, Stormy Weather - I know Simon was in the business of making stars, but he underestimates the American public when he rudely dismissed Lakisha based on her plus sized status. She proved to him her voice was plus sized as well, belting 'em out until she made top 4.

Melinda Doolittle, Nutbush City Limits - tiny girl, tiny speaking voice, tiny self esteem. Oh, you want me to sing now? Here comes the sonic boom.

Amy Davis, Where the Boys Are - I was surprised she was eliminated in the wild card, I really enjoyed her performance. And, loved the dress.

David Cook, Billie Jean - They could have had Idol Sings the Phone Book week, and I probably would have listed his performance of "Yellow Pages, Plumbing" as my favorite. He was just that good.

Adam Lambert, Tracks of my Tears - a flamboyant screamer, he floored me with this performance. It was soft, amazingly heartfelt.

Megan Joy, Michael Sarver with Steve Martin, Pretty Flowers - during the finale, actor Steve Martin came out to perform a sweet bluegrass number with two of the finalists.

Crystal Bowesox, Me and Bobby McGee - right in her wheelhouse, she personified the Janis Joplin spirit.

Phillip Phillips, Home - didn't watch the season yet this song invaded the airwaves, and was the go-to Olympic theme song for athletes.