Archive | May, 2013

The Voice – Top 6

30 May

I’ve skipped a few weeks of blog posts but that last elimination stunned me, so it was time to put the pen to paper (or fingers to the keys).

Top 12 -> Top 10

  • Three weeks later, I can’t say that any one of the performances stuck out in my mind… so I won’t bother highlighting any.
  • Was not surprised Garrett was eliminated. He just wasn’t the strongest, despite having a seemingly sweet personality and great rapport with Shakira.
  • VEDO had such a great story and charisma, but this really was a season for the ladies.

Top 10 -> Top 8

  • Even though I’ve never been the biggest Judith fan, her Michael Jackson rocked! (can’t find the official version for some reason)

  • Big kudos to Holly Tucker — I kind of loved hearing “How Great Thou Art” on national TV… not to mention it was very timely give all the destruction in Oklahoma.

  • And I loved Michelle Chamuel covering Pink’s “Just Give Me a Reason”:

  • Kris & Josiah going home… was sad, but not surprising, again. If anything, I’m proud of them for getting this far!

Top 8 -> Top 6

  • Michelle’s “Grenade” was awesome — props to Usher for great song choices for Michelle the past few weeks.

  • But… in my opinion, absolute standout performance was Amber Carrigton’s “Skyfall”. So gorgeous. And it shows crazy versatility because she’s a country singer! Or well, country-pop. Makes me a little worried for Ms. Danielle!

  • OMG that elimination!!! I totally get it. Sarah’s been at the bottom before so it wasn’t a complete shocker… but I just really liked her! From the very beginning — that blind audition video really, really sold me.

  • And Judith… so pro, so polished. Maybe that’s really what screwed her in the end?

And at the very least, it’s clearly a country-dominant season, so props to Holly (she’s still here?!), Amber, Danielle, and the Swon Brothers. All the non-country fans can now collectively back Michelle and Sasha… will be interesting to see if they can out-vote the rest of the country bloc. OR maybe this overwhelmingly country season convinced the rest of America to tune out, hence the drop in ratings?

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Confessions

23 May

A smattering of random confessions (some are more recent than others) I’ve wanted to jot down in the spirit of #KIR (keepin’ it real):

  • I’ve gone 4-5 days without showering (I then found this article in Real Simple and felt vindicated)
  • The elderly volunteers at my polling place were eating chocolate cake and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. The next day, I semi-spontaneously looked for a bakery while driving around, found one, then ate a giant slice of chocolate cake. By myself. I then ate the rest of our baby carrots as an act of penance.
  • We’ve eaten out for dinner every day for a week straight (this has probably happened more than once in the past year)
  • I find piles of Bella’s hair in corners of our house and only stop to sweep them up if I know that people are coming over

A little ashamed to post some of these, but #KIR!

What I’m Reading

22 May

Soooo… while I haven’t been blogging much, I have been reading. A lot.

I re-discovered my love for Young Adult (YA) fiction, and specifically the dystopian science-fiction/fantasy type of YA fiction that apparently has been flooding the market for the past few years (thanks to Twilight and the Hunger Games). I’ve read the books listed below and have a few others on my “Hold” queue (thank goodness for technology!) that are trickling in from libraries around Los Angeles.

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  • The Maze Runner (James Dashner) – I had seen this book on Amazon once or twice before, but finally requested it from the library because someone I knew in college (Ki Hong Lee) was apparently cast as one of the main characters! That was more than enough of a reason. Kudos to him, because he gets to play a pretty cool character. It’s a bit different from the others below in that the protagonist and main narrator is male, which is not bad, but different–less emotional, less romance, but still thrilling. (Amazon)
  • Divergent (Amazon) / Insurgent (Amazon) (Veronica Roth) – These were so good. I mean, not high literature by any means, but captivating can’t-put-them-down types of books from beginning to end… and I was frustrated to find that the 3rd book in the trilogy wasn’t being released until October! Dah! It’s interesting that Shailene Woodley (of “The Secret Life of an American Teenager”) is playing the main character, Tris, because I just imagined Tris as more… rugged and dauntless (ha). Will be interesting to see how it all plays out! And definitely, definitely grabbing that 3rd book off the shelf the day it’s released.

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  • Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Amazon) / Days of Blood & Starlight (Amazon) (Laini Taylor) – I think Stephanie Meyer (yes, Twilight’s author) had been the first to bring this new trilogy (seriously, what is it about trilogies!) to my attention, but I can see why. They’re not necessarily dystopian in context, but more like Twilight in that they layer in a world on top of the world we already live in without being in a new society or future. I don’t want to say much to give it away, but I’m curious to see if the types of mythologies and creatures highlighted in this book get more popular as a result. Like the Divergent series, this trilogy hasn’t been completed and in fact, the title of the third book was only just released this past week — Dreams of Gods and Monsters. Chils, right? I do think the romance in these novels is a little less manufactured than those in the other novels, but that’s not saying much… still loved it!
  • Son (Lois Lowry) – I had heard of “Son” and requested it, but only once I began reading did I realize I should have gone back and re-read The Giver and also requested the two other books in this “loose quartet” — The Messenger and Gathering Blue. I wasn’t surprised that I didn’t remember much about The Giver (it has been a long time…) but little random things in the book sparked memories of plot points and I realized that all four books involve the same universe of people and circumstances. The Giver really was the first dystopian novel, at least American, and it is such a classic. Lowry said she ended up writing the 3 newest books because so many people would ask her about what happened to the characters in The Giver and she finally let herself wonder and write about them. I really did appreciate that Lowry’s writing is more mature, more patient, and as she’s pointed out in interviews–she doesn’t write books that can easily be turned into movies because so much happens in non-action (thinking, conversations, mulling). If you were a fan of The Giver back in elementary school or jr high, would recommend you sit back down with it and read through the newest additions. (Amazon)
  • Matched (Amazon) / Crossed (Amazon) / Reached (Amazon) (Allyson Condie) – And back to the new/popular dystopian novels! I honestly didn’t think that the Matched series would draw me in, but it did. Nothing super novel or creative-out-of-the-ordinary, but it fits its genre well and is entertaining enough for me. I actually think Reached (the finale) was really satisfying and surprised me in more ways than one, but not sure if folks will read through the first two to really enjoy and be satisfied with the third.

So yes, I’ve been reading! The library has saved me from spending tons of money on books I would honestly only ever read once, but it’s become part of my routine to read, pick up/drop off books at the library, and browse through the catalog looking for more. Keeps me out of trouble, at the very least 🙂

The Voice – Playoffs Results!

9 May

Nothing entirely surprising, but suspenseful, nonetheless! This atypical Wednesday episode also marked the return of the Voice I remember… the Voice that loves to fill up screentime with random performances and guest artists that frankly, I don’t care much for. Thank goodness for Hulu and fast forward!

Team Blake

  • Safe: Holly Tucker & Danielle Bradbery (what I predicted)
  • Blake Saved: Swon Brothers
  • I don’t know if I believe Blake when he says, “This isn’t one of the scenarios I expected” because it’s what expected! And to be honest, I’m pretty sure the Swon Brothers aren’t going to make it through the next round (nor would Justin have) so it’s just letting them down easy.
  • Holly really endeared herself to everyone with her opening up about “I don’t feel beautiful” and clearly it converted into votes.
  • And I love Danielle! Ever since she sang T. Swift…

Team Shakira

  • Safe: Sasha Allen & Kris Thomas (not surprising)
  • Shakira Saved: Garrett Gardner
  • Do you really think Shakira pulled Garrett’s name out of the bag and decided to save him? Loca! I do think that Garrett is really really improving and he’s obviously become one of Shakira’s favorites on a personal level, and given that Karina really screwed up a couple weeks ago, I think it’s fair that she didn’t get another chance.
  • Sasha was a shoo-in and I think Kris was the logical 2nd winner because of his unique, strong voice.
  • Aside from Vedo, he’s one of the only strong male singers left.

Team Usher

  • Safe: Michelle Chamuel & Vedo (what I predicted, but a little surprising)
  • Usher Saved: Josiah
  • Again, I don’t know if I believe Usher’s whole “Didn’t see that one coming” but then again… I’m glad I’m not the only one that thinks Josiah’s just a pretty face but like I said with Karina, I think Cathia already got her “second chance” so it seemed fair that it was time for her to go. Not to mention, there are already a LOT of really strong powerful female singers and I just don’t think she could stand her own.
  • MICHELLE! Even though I had a feeling she’d make it through, I still got a little “squee!” when they called her name. Michelle’s success will be driven a lot by the force of her real, unpolished personality and the power of all the “dorks” voting out there.
  • And Vedo… one of the stronger male singers and the things going on in his personal life and the way he’s presented them on the show really allow people to connect with him. Whether it’s a smart move or just being real… it’s definitely helping!
  • PS: Cathia had a great “going away” speech — with great spirit.
  • PPS: Anyone else notice that super cute way Josiah & Michelle were holding their hands as they left??? uh, that would be an adorable couple. And great publicity.

Team Adam

  • Safe: Judith Hill & Amber Carrington (half… surprised?)
  • Adam Saved: Sarah Simmons
  • I hoped/wanted to assume Sarah would be safe (second to Judith, of course) but Amber really killed it in her solo performance so I wasn’t 100% surprised. It must be the power of Blake+Miranda (or something), but the country fans are clearly voting!
  • I also wasn’t surprised that Adam chose Sarah over Caroline Glaser, because let’s be real–Caroline’s voice and style can’t compete with some of these other pros at this point.
  • Random thought: How do you think it feels to be a show front-runner (Judith) but have to pretend to be shocked and thankful when you get voted through? I wonder if you get tired of it.

AND–I just realized, despite Shakira’s huge following and popularity among the Latin-American world… not a single one is left at this point. Maybe next year?

Phew! Down to the final 12! I wouldn’t be surprised to see many of the coaches’ saves eliminated next, but hope that Sarah can somehow make herself more lovable and vote-for-me-able. Sounds like the next few weeks will be live shows + results shows on Mondays & Tuesdays respectively. Can’t wait.

The Voice – Playoffs

9 May

Yet another round of eliminations, this time with “America” voting for two, their coach saving a third, and then sending one person from each team home. A hybrid of sorts, which I like. Sometimes coaches really do know their contestants best and America’s just dumb (or too superficial). But, at the end of the day, that coach isn’t going to buy 1,000 of their records, yknow? So America it is.

Across the two episodes, I really only liked a few of the songs from the second. Of course, Sarah and Judith were awesome, but I didn’t get that overwhelmingly awesome feeling toward any of the performance. Random other observations:

  • I love, love, love Usher’s coaching methods (so random, but creative!)
  • The coach mashups (Blake + Shakira and Usher + Adam) were really interesting
  • I loved that there was so much to fit into each episode there was less room for filler. Thank goodness.
  • Blake is SO enthusiastic and effusive… I wonder if it works in favor for his contestants?
  • Blake chose really country songs, but I suppose he’s appealing to the country audience? Would have almost preferred he pick more pop-friendly songs so that other people could relate, but I was right there with Usher and his “this is my first country concert” feeling.
  • Shakira (I think) chose really, really good songs for her contestants.

The performances I particularly liked:

Garrett Gardner – he’s always better than I expect!

Holly Tucker – but I don’t know if she can really compete with…

Danielle Bradbery – I think she has greater commercial potential than Sarah Simmons, even though I love Sarah’s voice

and Sasha Allen woooo!!!

Have a favorite?? I haven’t seen the verdicts yet, so no spoilers please!

What I’m Reading

6 May

That library card will be the death of me! The endless supply of books that I can request and pick up from the nearest branch has led to a much taller pile of books by my nightstand. I’m not complaining, but it does mean you’ll have to bear with more of these “What I’m Reading” posts.

I will also humbly confess that I love YA fiction. I love all books (or most) but there’s something about that angsty teen genre that really hits home. I love the little (but big) conflicts, the tension between friends, siblings, parents… I love them! So don’t judge me!

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  • Looking for Alaska: John Green’s most recent novel The Fault In Our Stars has been at the top of the Bestsellers list for quite some time, so while waiting for that one, I picked up a couple of his others. I believe Looking for Alaska was one of his first, and it was compelling. Reading more than one book from the same author in the same week is a fun experience–getting a sense of that writer’s personality and his quirks. It’s harder for me to “get into” books narrated from a male perspective, but I enjoy his characters. (Amazon)
  • What Happened to Goodbye: I’ve been a big Sarah Dessen fan for a while. Lock and Key was one of my absolute favorite YA novels. This one was an easy, breezy read but didn’t necessarily move me the same way some of her others have. That being said, would still recommend it for a light summer read. (Amazon)
  • An Abundance of Katherines: This was my 2nd John Green of the week. A strange, kind of gimmicky premise (the main character’s dated 19 Katherines) with a weird twist of mathematics (I think he likes smart/intellectual characters) but still an enjoyable read. What I appreciate is that John Green’s stories aren’t super predictable and they don’t necessarily follow the archetypes you’d expect. (Amazon)

What are you reading?

The Voice – The Knockouts

6 May

Because I skipped Season 3, this was my first time watching a knockout round. It makes sense that they had to add another layer before the live shows if they wanted to extend the season, start with more contestants, but still keep things interesting.

  • Amber vs. Midas Whale (Team Blake) – I’m still not sold on the duo concept, and Amber did good.
  • Garrett vs. Tanya (Team Shakira) – I cannot believe Garrett got this good. Seriously.
  • Caroline vs. Amy (Team Adam) – I honestly don’t think either did that great, but Amy really underwhelmed, and no second chances anymore, love. I actually forgot Caroline had been stolen off Blake’s team, so good for her.
  • Kris vs. Mary (Team Shakira) – Kris was great and Mary really, really underwhelmed. They make it so easy for their coaches sometimes.
  • Judith vs. Orlando (Team Adam) – I mean, honestly? No one can win against this woman. Except, maybe Sarah Simmons…
  • Monique vs. Karina (Team Shakira) – I think Karina’s great, but she really DIDN’T impress here. She knew it too. It’s only because of her potential and promise that Shakira chose her because Monique did GOOD. Here’s the first (of many) example of folks stolen from Adam’s team that got to stick around…
  • Warren vs. Sarah Simmons (Team Adam) – Uh, duh. Sarah. I love how the producers try really hard in the pre-performance segments to make it seem like these are close battles, but you know they’re not.

  • Sasha Allen vs. Shawna P (Team Shakira) – And as much as I love Sarah, this Sasha Allen “At Last” cover was fantastic. Shawna really, really gave it her all too, but picking Sasha was a no-brainer after that. She was stolen off of Adam’s team, which makes me think Adam’s original team was just too good for its own good.

And then there was Round 2…

  • Savannah vs. Justin (Team Blake) – I liked Savannah, but Justin’s last note was impressive…
  • Josiah vs. Jess (Team Usher) – You know what, neither is good enough to beat Judith or Sarah, so it is what it is.
  • Holly vs. Luke (Team Blake) – Luke was GREAT here, but because he was with Blake… the country gal takes it.
  • Audrey vs. Michelle (Team Usher) – Michelle Chamuel is SO adorable. I know that’s totally not the word she would ever want to be described as, but she is. I love how real, real, real she is. That being said, I don’t necessarily love her voice. And on a show called, well, you know… that can be a problem. (And Audrey–I didn’t even recognize her! Was it the makeup?)

  • Danielle Bradbery vs. Taylor (Team Blake) – I LOVE Danielle!!! I didn’t love Taylor to begin with, but Danielle is so innocent, consistent, and genuine… and it’s reflected in her voice. Do yourself a favor and just listen to the first half, ha.

  • Vedo vs. C Perkins (Team Usher) – Vedo literally took it away, and it was tearjerking, for sure.
  • Grace vs. the Swon Brothers (Team Blake) – 2nd tier contestants, sorry to say.
  • Cathia vs. Ryan Innes (Team Usher) – I cannot, cannot believe Ryan would try to do something so different than what he excels at… and it cost him his spot. I had to go back and watch him sing Gravity again and it makes me so angry! Yay for Cathia!! I love that she was the only (?) one of the stolen participants to make it through to the live rounds, kudos to her.

Some random other thoughts:

  • If you watch on Hulu, have you noticed how glitchy and inaccurate the captions are?! Bugs me! 
  • I’m so, so, so glad that they stopped interrupting EVERYTHING with commercials! Thank you for just TELLING us who wins, without us having to *hold our breath* through another commercial.
  • If you’ve watched in previous seasons, you will feel me when I say, thank goodness we don’t have to deal with constant Christina Millian interruptions… at least not yet.

Bring on the live shows!!!