Poll Question, Baby

The poll question is simple . . . yet impossible. You’re on American Idol. It’s Neil Diamond week. What do you sing? And don’t say the question is too hard, because every contestant has to answer it, right? Or are they in two-performance territory? Regardless, you have to pick one song. Well . . . you don’t have to. But you’re finding it hard to resist, right? Clearly, this is a Neil-friendly audience. So . . . go ahead. Grab a mic. You’re on next.

And I couldn’t list all the viable choices. So if the four options there don’t unleash your doe-eyed, gritty, come-hither growl, post your selection here.


I had a theory; actually, more of an invention. I wanted to explain the history of the word cheesy. I wondered if it could have originated from the smile-inducing practice of portrait photographers who ask their subjects to say, “Cheese!” in the absence of genuine happiness. So cheesy grew to become synonymous with fabricated emotion, questionable quality, artificially manufactured moments.

Unfortunately, the real meaning is just shabby or cheap, inferior in quality. It pretty much undermines the whole motivation behind the etymology search. M-W gave me no explanation of the history, but I think I’m giving up. If you discover something more, please let me know.

April 25, 2008 question

I’m so proud of all of you. Well, not all of you. Just all of you:

Steve J (the J stands for Just 10,000?)
Karen H (the H stands for How You Like Me Now, Yankees?)
Nancy K (the K stands for Kicking New York Butt)
H. E. (the H E stands for Holy Empire)
Heather M (the M stands for Muchos W’s)
Steven F (the F stands for Flag-Waving Cub Fan)

Double congrats to Steven F, Karen H, and Kristin who knew both correct answers: the Cubs and the Giants. And to everyone who guessed the Yankees . . . ha. Here’s today’s question:

What was the first state to require license plates for automobiles?

Diamond, pt. 2

This started as a comment, but I couldn’t stop typing. Darn it all, Neil, what are you doing to me?

I stand behind both Neil Diamond as cheesy and Neil Diamond as good, no, great. It’s unabashed glorious cheese.

Actually, I’d say Neil Diamond is the musical alter ego of Bob Dylan. The music is excellent from both, consistently. Diamond is on the pop love song, loving life end of the spectrum, Dylan on the rock, folk, art, the world is so messed up end. Diamond’s voice is crushed velvet, Dylan’s torn denim. Neil writes songs that tell stories of the heart, the libido. Bob’s tell stories of the soul, the conscience. But the songs are great. Over and over again, they’re great.

And they are the anti-Idol, both of them. I mean, look at them both. At either of their peaks, Neil or Bob make Clay Aiken look like Johnny Depp. In Dylan and Diamond, you have two guys who made it entirely on the strength of their music and their music alone.

No Idol contestant can say that. The genius of Idol is that they have manipulated the pop culture system to perfection. They pick a couple dozen marginally talented singers and surround them with endlessly entertaining buffoons who can’t sing a lick. They market that talent vs. mockery rodeo for a month or so, gradually eliminate some of the less-than-marginally talented folks, and then they kick it up a notch with the master stroke: popularity disguised as democracy. Popularity disguised as talent. Popularity disguised as the real stars who are too good to win the competition (yeah, I’m talking to you Bice and Daughtry . . . you’re no more artistic or genuine than Clarkson or Underwood. You got on the show because you knew it could pimp out your career. Don’t you dare pretend that you wanted to lose so you wouldn’t have to sell out. You sold out at the audition, you loved it, and you’d do it all over again if you had the chance. Okay, go pretend, cuz it’s sellin’ you records.) It’s genius. It really is.

But Neil Diamond didn’t have American Idol. All he had was his music, terrible hair, a magical voice, and the look of a spritely dwarf (same goes for his Hobbit friend, Dylan).

So yes, I like Neil Diamond. (I got nothing agains ALW, either, I just don’t think he belongs on Idol.) I guess you could say . . . I love him. Cheese and all.

April 24, 2008 question

Only Laurie and Karen M (the M stands for Maybe I’m Amazed At The Way You Speak In Iambic Pentameter All The Time) knew that the Bard was 52 years old to the day when he shed this mortal coil. Brava!

And since today’s the fourth Thursday in an even-numbered month, here’s a sports trivia question (with a hint):

What are the only two franchises in Major League Baseball history with at least 10,000 wins? (Hint: if you only guess one team, and that team happens to be a team I really like, I’ll still give you credit.)

Something Completely Different

I had planned something a little more heartfelt and reverent, but then my world got rocked . . .

Next week is Neil Diamond week on American Idol. I can sum up my reaction in three words: Awesome.

Now I’ll elaborate. Neil Diamond songs are perfect for Idol. It’s the guy who made cheesy good. If cheesy music was actually cheese, Neil Diamond would be France. I can’t wait. It’s the redemption of the show. I say this week, and not Idol Gives Back week, should be the week no one gets eliminated. Heck, they should bring back every contestant, every person to audition.

You can sound bad singing Neil Diamond. But you can’t be boring. This is gonna rock.

Also, the new Will Smith movie, Hancock, looks pretty unbuttoned and hairy chested, too. Can’t wait.

Should I Get You a Card?

What do I say, Earth? Do you want a Hallmark? Box of chocolates? Day off?

I’m sorry, I don’t like Earth Day (no offense, planet). It’s my least favorite fake holiday, right there below Sweetest Day and maybe neck and neck with Andrew Lloyd Weber day on AI. I love Earth, it’s totally the best planet I’ve ever lived on. But the holiday should be recycled into playground equipment.

It’s not that I don’t think Earth is worth the trouble. It’s kind of in the same vein as Mother’s Day – the whole point of the event is to give the honoree a break, but by the end of the day, you’ve burned the french toast, got crumbs in the bed, spent all day in line at Ponderosa, strewn wrapping paper and bad presents and sarcastic cards across the living room, and somehow still managed to leave a kitchen full of dishes for later that evening (cuz let’s face it, Mother’s Day ends at about 4:30 in the afternoon). I just don’t think we’re really helping.

There are plenty of valid environmental causes, I don’t mean to dismiss them all. In general, wasteful living, excessive consumerism, and general disregard for the world around you are all deplorable yet regrettably prevalent lifestyles. I think we use too much and reuse too little. I also think global warming is an absolute crock put upon us by the most arrogant pseudo-scientists in the entire history of planetary studies. Maybe that is what has ruined Earth Day for me.

Probably not, though. Another candidate for Earth-Day ruining champion has to be people who try to offset excessive energy use by making up for it in some other way. Somebody pimp slaps the Earth one second and then buys it flowers. “No, Earth. I love you, baby, come on.” Sorry. Not buying it. I’m not buying that and the whole day any more than I’m buying Jason Castro singing like a glamourpuss. Sorry.