Why Do You Like American Idol?

January 20, 2010 by cloften  
Filed under General Insanity, Silliness and Rants

I believe that by now that all people who follow American Idol and many who don’t have seen the incredible Pants on the Ground audition.  If not, here you go:

Something happened in the aftermath of this that surprised me.  Some friends of mine that are big American Idol fans of mine didn’t really like it.  These friends are the hosts of my favorite morning radio show, The Morning Rush on B98.5.  I was stunned.  How can fans of Idol not just love the General?

Then it hit me.  Some people love American Idol: the Singing Competition.  My family and I, on the other hand, love American Idol the Trainwreck of Craziness that Becomes a Singing Competition.  We love the craziness at the beginning, the people who can’t sing but don’t know it and even the people who dress like idiots, know they can’t sing and are just looking for attention.  Then when it turns into a singing competition, we pick someone to root for and follow them all the way.

If there is any part we don’t like, it’s Hollywood week.  It’s contrived drama.  They take crazy melodramatic artists, keep them up all night, pair them with other crazies and then they cry.  No thanks.  Either give me the bad singers or let’s get on with it.

How about you? Singing competition? Trainwreck of bad singers? Contrived drama and crying?  What do you like about Idol?

American Idol, Chicago Auditions

Here is a stream of consciousness collection of tweets/posts from Tuesday January 19th.

Seriously, you get an opportunity to be on national TV and you drop f-bombs and give the finger. Stay classy, America.

In an effort to keep up with Jillian and Biggest Loser, Simon starts offering family therapy.

Team Over the Top Broadway Seacrest stalker/Pass out on the floor, even that was too much for me and I love the crazy people

TEAM FELLOWSHIP, TEAM CHARITY VANCE. Text vote to some number right now for practice.

I don’t think they gave crazy accordion lady a chance. I think she should go far.

Team Angela Auditions a lot/Traffic Violation. Lauren: I bet she has quite a collection of those golden tickets.

Despite my (occasional) quippiness, it really does hurt when the people who think they can sing get laughed out of the room. (See Team Big Guy in White Outfit who screeched like an owl)

Team Tiny Tim/I sing for the troops/Subsitute Teacher. I vote joke. What do you think? (His walkaway, made it obvious)

BTW, if I can talk Adam Hambrick into auditioning next summer, I’m going with him. Anyone got any ideas for what my audition schtick could be?

White hat, Rocky theme music. No way they are setting us up for a ridiculous audition. . .What? I’m shocked. Hey, it was his allergies. Wait, again. Is he really crying? Knot in the stomach now.

Team Inappropriate Banter with Shania: Didn’t think it was that good. I think he got in because everyone else was so bad.

Girlified, is that what you call when the women in your life overwhelm you, guilt you and make you change your mind about something? If so, I have been girlified many, many times.

Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late

You probably have noticed that this blog (at least the serious stuff) has taken on a parenting/marriage flavor lately.  There are a couple of reasons for that.  First is that I post mostly on what I am thinking about and doing, and I spend a lot of time being a husband and dad.  I love the three girls in my life and I feel blessed to have them, so I like to talk about them and how cool they are.  Second, I spend a lot of time at my job talking to families that for one reason or another are not doing very well.  They come to me for advice and prayer.  I consider it a privilege to be able to talk to couples and families that need some help, perspective and some wisdom from God’s word.

All that to say, too often I notice that people do not ask for help until it is too late.  Usually one of the two, the husband or wife, is ready to be done and then as a last resort, they ask for help from a friend, pastor or counselor.  If I could give one piece of advice to couples (and the same would apply to parenting and just about anything in life) it would be do not wait to ask for help.  You don’t have to wait until your life is in crisis or things are falling apart.  If something doesn’t feel right, call someone.  If a fight or disagreement seems to be lingering, ask for some advice.  Most problems and disagreements can be easily worked through when they are a 2 on a scale of 1-10.  It is a lot harder when it is a 9 or 10.

There is no shame in asking for help.  Here’s why.  This may be a huge shock to many of you.  You ready?  Marriage, parenting and life in general are hard.  Guess what else?  Everyone knows it.  When you call your pastor or friend and ask for advice, I promise you they will not be thinking, “What a loser.  Marriage is the easiest thing ever.  How did he/she get so bad it?”  No one will think that.

I’ve noticed that 99% of marriage problems are very similar.  Neither spouse feels they are getting what they need from their spouse and they don’t know how to express it or talk about it (More on this in depth at some point).  Sometimes just knowing that your struggle is common and that countless couples have overcome is enough to help you overcome as well.  Anyway, don’t wait.  Consider it like a tune-up.  You are calling to have something checked before something breaks.  In the end, your marriage and family will be much stronger.

(Btw, feel free to shoot me a note at charlie (at) cloften.com with any questions, comments or if you need help with anything)

Two Things Loftens Cannot Fear Part 2

If you missed Part one, check it out here.  The first thing that a Loften cannot fear is talking to adults–ordering food, asking for refills, introducing themselves, etc.  The second, I’m guessing will shock you and maybe make you smile.

The second thing that Loftens are never afraid of is a little less (or a lot less) intuitive.  We are not scared of rides and roller coasters.  That’s right.  The rule is this:  once you are tall enough to ride it, you ride it, at least once.  My guess is that some of you are looking up the numbers for child endangerment services right now.  How could you do such a thing? Well, just like I said in part 1, I put my girls in situations that can be scary but not dangerous.  We are not cliff-diving or swimming with crocodiles.  These rides are safer than riding in the car.

What can the justification for this be?  Do you like watching kids scream? Are you just looking for someone to ride with when your wife won’t?  Are you just mean?  We do this, because the fear of the unknown is not OK.  How much adventure and fun is lost when we are too scared to try?  How often are we intimidated by something that is uncertain and so we stay safe?  A new job, a new opportunity, a new friendship, a new adventure, an awesome roller coaster that goes upside-down and shakes you around at high speeds.

Once you have tried the ride once, you may then choose to not ride it again.  You can decide that you didn’t enjoy it and you don’t want to do it again.  That’s fine.  You cannot however choose to not do something because of an irrational belief that it is unsafe (That sentence was a triple negative, but it seems grammatically ok).  Their Dad that they trust tells them what is safe.  They trust me, not their fears.  I am with them and we face the rides together, the whole time their dad telling them, you are going to love this.

What have we learned.  We have learned that we all love, I mean LOVE roller coasters.  The faster the better, the more upside down the better, backwards, forwards, sitting, suspension, all kinds.  They cannot get enough of them.

Pre ride: Dad: “You are going to love this.”  Daughter: “No, it’s scary.”  Dad: “No it’s not.  You will love it.”

Post ride: Dad: “I was right again, wasn’t I?”  Daughter: “Yes, Dad.  Can we ride it again?”

We’ve also learned that they are not as big of fans of the freefall rides, the ones that pull you straight up and drop you straight down.  Even with that though, I made Maylee ride Tower of Terror again at Disney Hollywood Studios the next time we went to Walt Disney World, even though she didn’t enjoy it the last trip.  Post trip, favorite ride? Tower of Terror.

Fear of the unknown grips us.  We strive for security.  I want my girls to find it in the relational trust that they have in their Dad.  Somehow I wonder if we are stil talking about parenting.  Wouldn’t we do well to face the world not with fear, but relational trust in a Father that loves us and is always with us?

Watch out World, the Loften girls are not scared of you.

We always know where the cameras are. . . always.

We always know where the cameras are. . . always.

They look absolutely miserable, don't they?

They look absolutely miserable, don't they?

2 Things Loftens Cannot Fear Part 1

At first you may think that this is a joke, but you can ask either of my girls what the two things are that we cannot be afraid of as Loftens and they will both tell you the same thing.

The first is that we cannot be afraid to talk to people.  This includes new people that we meet, it includes waitresses, essentially everyone.  For example, we are at a fast food restaurant and we are sitting down at the table with our food.  One of the girls may ask, “Dad can I have some ranch?’  I tell them, “sure” and then I look toward the counter.  They then go to the counter themselves and ask the people themselves and get their own ranch.  You may wonder when I started doing this.  They started ordering for themselves as soon as they could formulate sentences and they have been going to the counter by themselves way earlier than many of you would think is safe.

You may think that I am (at least was) putting my girls into scary situations, and I should (or at least should have) gotten stuff for them, ordered for them, etc.  First, you are right.  This is a scary situation for a little kid.  However, there is a difference between a scary situation and a dangerous one.  I have never put them in danger, but they have been scared.  Why is it important to me that they do this?  First, our lives/my job thrusts my girls into situations all the time where they are meeting new people.  We’ve told them we never go to stranger’s house, we are meeting new friends.  But even if I weren’t a pastor, what better life skill is there than the ability to confidently talk to people, especially people that you might naturally be intimidated by?  There aren’t many.  I’ve said this before, but I want our girls to be confident and want them to have hearts to love and engage with people.  God has called us to love others like we love ourselves and fear will not be what holds a Loften back.

(Stay tuned for Part 2, the second thing we cannot fear.  You won’t believe it.)

Top Pop Culture Icons and Characters on 24

A couple of things before the list. First, this is coming from someone who just started watching 24 in the last year. Therefore, some of the people on the list were nobodies at the time and became well-known after. For me, the reverse was true. Second, this is not a list of the best characters. If that were the case, Chloe would be near the top and Kim Bauer would be at the bottom, maybe just ahead of some of her equally ridiculous boyfriends. This is a list of best actors/actresses to appear on the show because of their pop culture coolness. (According to IMDB Bubba from Forrest Gump will be on the show this season, so the rankings will definitely change)

Not on the list, Kevin Dillon (maybe if I were a fan of Entourage, I would put him on), Janeane Garofalo (classic c-lister with no big anything) Peter MacNicol (that dude from Ally McBeal). Also this is a top 11 list.  Why?  You’ll see.

11. The Allstate guy (Dennis Haysbert) as President David Palmer, Day 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. allstate haysbert

Some of you might think of him as that dude from The Unit, but I’ve never watched that show. To this day when those Allstate commercials come on, my girls get a little freaked out. I think his voice intimidates them. As someone who gets called “ma’am” at the drive-thru, I understand their point.

10. Charlene from Designing Women (Jean Smart) Day 5 and 6 Designing-women-Charlene-Stillfield

I don’t want to say too much here or my man card could be revoked. Can I just say my mom made me watch it growing up? No matter what she plays, won’t she always be that woman from Designing Women? Oh cool, look Charlene married the president. That’s a long way from Atlanta. Wait no, I didn’t remember Atlanta on my own. Wait no, give that card back!

9. Darlene from Roseanne (Sara Gilbert) as Paula Schaeffer, Day 2 sara gilbert

Though all grown up now, she is still the obnoxious kid from Roseanne and always will be. I kept wanting her to be sassier on the show, thinking “hey, who tamed Darlene?” You want to know why I will never be allowed to direct/produce a show? Because I think they should have had one short scene where she is on the phone talking to her mom about the crisis and you cut to Roseanne Barr. I would do stuff like that all the time.

8. Jin from Lost (Daniel Dae Kim) as Tom Baker, Day 2 and 3. jin-lost

So I’m watching Agent Baker and I’m thinking, “Man, Jin has gotten a lot better with his English, no accent.” Also, I’m thinking that he is destined to be like the guy who goes down to the planet with Kirk and Spock and he is toast. However, he made a solid 11 episode, 2 season run. Way to go, Jin.

7. Howard Payne from Speed and Shooter from Hoosiers (Dennis Hopper) as Victor Drazen, Day 1. shooter hoosiers

I don’t know where to put Dennis Hopper on this list. Those two pop culture characters are good, not great. The bigger question: How does a guy like that end up doing a small role on what at the time was a new show that may not have even made a full season? Was he friends with Kiefer? the producer? Did he lose a bet? Does he just like cashing checks? He did phone his performance in with his over the top acting and unbelievable accent. He was forgettable to the point that I had the list put together and double-checked IMDB to see if I had forgotten anyone, and I had.  Couldn’t leave him out though.  I’m rambling now.

6. Jon Voight owner of 1983 LeBaron Convertible (Jon Voight) as Jonas Hodges, Day 7. seinfeld jon voight

John Voight has been an actor for almost 50 years. He has won an Academy Award and been nominated multiple times. So, what is he most know for in my mind? Biting Kramer on Seinfeld and not exactly being the owner to George’s car. I’m sure the star of Midnight Cowboy, Deliverance, Coming Home, Runaway Train and Ali would be glad to know this. Second in my mind is Patrick Gates in the National Treasure movies. (BTW, it is mandatory at my house to sing, “I’m just driving around in Jon Voight’s car,” when you see him. Mandatory.)

5. Curly Bill from Tombstone (Powers Booth) as Vice President Noah Daniels, Day 6. curly_bill

I would like to know what information Olivia Taylor had on Curly Bill, because he should have won election in a landslide. Please, don’t take this as sexist, but in a string of mediocre presidents that 24’s America elects, she might be the worst. (Well except, of course, for the one that was convicted of treason) Nothing else to say, except, “Well. . . bye.”

4. Arthur Hoggett from Babe (James Cromwell) as Phillip Bauer, Day 6. cromwell

Would it have killed them for during one of the father/son moments between Jack and his dad for him to say, “That’ll do Jack. That’ll do”? Would it have? Come on. Another example of why you cannot put me in charge of your TV show. Does anyone else have a hard time imagining him as sinister? He has been in a lot of stuff, but he can never be sinister. He’s Arthur Hoggett for goodness sake.

3. Ricky Stratton from Silver Spoons (Rick(y) Schroder) as Mike Doyle, Day 6. silver_spoons_image_ricky_schroder

“Silver spoons togetherrrrrrr. You and I.” You can drop the y from your first name, you can be on NYPD, you can do whatever you want. You are the kid from Silver Spoons hacking into the government computer with Arnold Jackson. That’s it. That’s who you are. You can drop the k next if you would like. It’s not gonna work. Seriously, isn’t he trying to hard being the over-the-top tough guy? Shave the facial hair, call Carlton from Fresh Prince and let’s make the Silver Spoons reunion happen.

2. Samwyse from LOTR aka Rudy aka Mikey from Goonies (Sean Astin) as Lynn McGill, Day 5. rudy

Harrison Ford aside, has there ever been someone else with so many classic pop culture roles as Sean Astin? Ok, Sylvester Stallone (I sense a future list here). How about this: has there ever been someone with so many iconic pop culture roles that never became a superstar? Stallone, Ford, Ian McKellan are not going to do bit parts on 24. There may not be anyone else on the Sean Astin list.

1. Sylar from Heroes (Zachary Quinto) as Adam Kaufman, Day 3. sylar_l

The fact that I don’t watch Heroes anymore almost made me put him down. (Thought this season was getting bizarre) Still, I believe Sylar may ultimately go down as one of, if not the best TV villains ever. Now that he is about to make a run as Spock, one of the most recognizable tv/movie characters of all time, puts him #1 on the list. Seriously, the whole time we are watching season 3, I kept waiting for him to take Chloe aside, do that thing with his finger and take the part of her brain that makes her so awesome as a computer hacker/analyst/dominator.

Pre-date Your Wife

I am going on a date with my beautiful wife today. We are going to have a great time. I’m sure that we will end up at some girlie shopping place at some point, because we always end up shopping on our dates. I’m not sure how or why, but we do.

Anyway, what I would like to encourage you guys to do is “pre-date” your wife. The date itself can be great, but the love and romance can start before you get dressed up and go eat. Often it is the little things that romance your wife more than the things that we think are big. For example, she has been very tired and rundown the last couple of days, so I let her sleep in. I got both girls ready and off to school. (We even had a total of 3 clothes/hair crises, with just 2 girls, that I managed to successfully avert) I got all the dishes done and even swept the whole kitchen.

While this might sound like public bragging, what I want you to hear is the power of loving your wife through giving her a break from her routines and helping around the house. At this point, our date later could be Captain D’s and a Wal-Mart run and I promise you she will have had a great day. Men, let’s step up and invest into our relationships with our wives. They are precious gifts that God has given us.

Dealing with Bullies, the Loften Way

So any time one of my girls comes to me with a story that someone at school is acting (verbally) like a bully to them, I tell them the same thing on how to respond. I tell them that they should do one of two things (or both). One, they should shake their hands in the air and shout, “Mesopotamia!!!” Second, they should pretend to fall asleep–close their eyes and start snoring.

Why would any Dad in the world do something like that? First, I want my girls to settle down and laugh. It always makes them laugh when I shout “Mesopotamia.” I also hope that in the moment that someone is being mean to think about that and at least in their heart be able to smile. They also need to learn how to take a verbal assault and not lose their temper. I don’t want them to cower, but I also don’t want them escalating the conflict. (Seriously, has lashing back ever helped anyone? Has it ever helped you? Just walk away)

Here is what I thought would never happen. Lauren tried it at school. A boy came up to her and a friend and started talking mean to them. She looked at him for a little while and shouted “Mesopotamia!!!” at him. So when Lauren told me this I was stunned. I asked her what happened next. He told Lauren she was weird, so she then pretended to fall asleep. The boy then walked away. Turns out the plan works. Who knew?

I love my girls. I want them to be strong and gentle. I want them to be strong and proud women free from fear and free from anger. The world can be a rough place, and I want them to walk in it with their heads held high and a quiet strength, confidence and grace that the world will notice and will be honoring to the God that loves them.

American Idol Day 1

Here are some thoughts on Day 1 of American Idol.  I will try to keep these brief, because unlike my Facebook postings, I need to start slow.  4+ months of diligent following of American Idol is a marathon, not a sprint.

Some general thoughts:  did anyone miss Paula?  Honestly, I didn’t really notice that she was gone.  The only point in which there was a “where’s Paula?” moment was when the girl who was counting on success from her success at the AI video game kept pointing at Kara and calling her Paula.

Along the same lines, the Victoria Beckham sure did add a lot to the show, didn’t she?  She sat there and listened and sat there and listened.  Then on day 2, she sat there and listened.  I thought it was very strong.

There were three compelling (?) stories that they used to make us want to like certain contestants.  There was Team Sister of Four Brothers with Downs–loved the story a lot.  I have a soft spot in my heart for kids with Downs (like my niece).  She was a good, not great singer, but she is my early favorite.  Team Portuguese Girl with the Sweet Grandma with Alzheimer’s.  She might have been the better singer, but the Team Sister still gets the edge for better story.  Third was Team Hunky Cancer Survivor.  I got nothing to say, not a big fan of the Hunks they foist on us.

The 2nd tier of “compelling” stories weren’t that impressive to me.  Team Italian Guy with Family, Team Africa, and Team My Parents Were Too Strict.  They were just aiiiight for me Dawg.

The great debate continued, with Heidi believing that no one was putting on to get on TV with me thinking that most of them were.

The biggest laugh out loud was the guy that they made us believe was a New Age Hippie who wanted to touch the world.  My guess is that he wasn’t what they made him out to be, but it made for great TV.  The part where he reaches down and smells the flower and the wind blowing through his hair was hilarious.  Then his singing brought it home.

Resisting my urge to say everything, I will end with this.  My favorite line of the night is when Kara said that Team Africa needed Star Power.  What is this Guitar Hero?

It’s going to be a great season.

American Idol Day 2 Posts that I didn’t make because I didn’t watch it live

January 13, 2010 by cloften  
Filed under General Insanity, Silliness and Rants

If you watch the show enough, you know that you are being set up with Team My Uncle Was One of the Pips. (But he did have great range, if you redefine both of the words great and range.  Sing it with me, “Laaa-teee I looooow you.”)

Did Mary J Blige say that girl won Miss Congealiality?  Does that involve making Jello the best? (She was not that good.  Loud singing is not the same as good singing.)

I don’t like it when they just popcorn the good singers.  Either give me the backstory or just show me the bad singers.

Randy just say “yes” or “100% yes” Please the mathematician can no longer take 1 million 400 73,000%. Whatever that is.

Your assignment tomorrow is to go around saying “411 the show” and then do that annoying hand thing. (Of course, she did an over the top version of Pat Benatar.  Of course she did. Performances like this is why we love the first couple of weeks.  And of course the over the top exit.)

Producers meeting: “Hey guys, we don’t have enough contrived drama.”  “Hey, I know let’s add an elevator, like on the decision day show.”

Hmmm, I wonder if Ellie May the bridge jumper will be good?  Is this the producers’ revenge for an Arkansan winning last year? (I liked it.  They set me up and I fell for it.  Pleasant surprise.  How many times in his life do you think Ryan has heard the phrase, “I don’t have butterflies, I have frogs?” or the word Air-o-plane?)

Add in Team I Almost Died Three Times and the producers are definitely taking shots at the South.  Careful, there is another Arkansan in this year.  We might rally again, just to show you.

Team I’m Dressed Like a Guitar:  I will leave the commentary on this to people without filters.  I, on the other hand, must remain silent. (Usually they don’t let the gimmicks in, even if they can sing)

Team Low Cut White Dress.  Simon always puts this type through, but they never last.  It’s quite annoying, just send them back home.

Put me down for 1000 votes for Team Skii Bo Ski.  He is my kind of ridiculous. (I am also like a Dollar Store, in case you were wondering)

Team BFF’s for Life.  Isn’t that redundant?

Team Small Town Cop: Was he from Winchestertonfieldville the town from Mr. Deeds?  Heidi wants to know if they can do something with that hair. . . soon.

Team Mary J. Blige Stalker, taking crazy to a whole nother level. (It’s never good when the security guards and the f-bombs come out. The sarcastic clappers at the end were a nice touch)

Team General Pants on the Ground. That may be the BEST, IDOL, MOMENT, EVER. (Pants on the ground, pants on the ground. Lookin like a fool wit yer pants on the ground)

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