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'Bent Idol' Debut Post: An Intersection of ‘Idol’ & ‘The Daily Slap’

What do American Idol and Bent Blog have in common? JLo has Violent Affection Syndrome, and she ain’t ashamed.

The connection is simple: the Syndrome,
explained here, affects those of us who thinks someone is so cute it’s aggravating – to the point you want to pinch, bite, squeeze, punch or slap the snot out of them in protest.

JLo reacted thusly out of her VAS when she evaluated our first singer, Joshua Ledet, because she enjoyed his performance so much. I’ll post the video as soon as it’s up. Speaking of Joshua, let’s deep dive into the performances:

Joshua Ledet
He werked that Stevie song, brought us back to church and, with help from ace mentor Mary J. Blige, he hooked in to the driving beat. Well done. He’s about as girly as Jacob Lusk was last season.

Elise Testone
This girl can sing… but “I’m Your Baby Tonight” was totally the wrong song for her – as was “Greatest Love,” her original choice. She seemed visibly upset about her performance and I can see why.

Jermaine “Gentle Giant” Jones
Definitely evocative of Ruben Studdard – perhaps a better singer with a less-tubby charisma. “I Love You,” though, I don’t think is gonna do him any favors in moving him ahead in the competition. A snoozer.

Erica Van Pelt aka “EVP”
“I Believe in You and Me” was a bad arrangement sung by a fantastic singer. I was surprised by her presence with such a huge song. Whitney is a monster to tackle for any singer, and given what she had to work with she did a good job. She just seemed to be way more free and “comfortable” than Elise Testone. JLo was right in that she was playing it safe with her phrasing and delivery.

Colton Dixon
Given the fact that he’s out of his genre, big time, he was tonally on point and actually pretty in touch with the song. Randy was right about the notes flat and sharp – but he created an emotionally hooked-in “rock ballad” out of a Stevie classic. He’s pretty darn cute, too, qualifying for the evening’s Idol Slap Derby.

Shannon Magrane
I get annoyed when I have to wait for singers to get out of their lower registers for the song to become interesting. “I Have Nothing” really did have nothing, though, even when she emerged from the head-voice doldrums. Very karaoke and pretty awful. Next. (PS: could this volleyball player have looked any more gargantuan next to Ryan?) Bad song choice for such a young girl.

DeAndre Brackensick
We were thankfully spared DeAndre’s gratuitous falsetto, and with “Master Blaster” he definitely showed a reggae funk that was new to us. But it was bland and not nearly as good as the (frequently cheerleading) panel said it was.

Skylar Laine
This girl is one to watch – she was out of her element and she still did up “Where Do Broken Hearts Go?” with some moxie. JLo was spot-on when she criticized the front half of the song; the second half was unrecognizable compared to the first. Very well done, as expected.

Heejun Han
“All is Fair” was a tale of two performers – one with normally gorgeous tone (painfully sharp in one spot) and terrible diction. He doesn’t close his “t”s and other of those pesky consonants. The “Hugger in Chief” did a decent job but I don’t think he’s gonna go far, despite the fact that we love the goofballs.

Hollie Cavanagh
Lacking in presence but burying the needle on cute, Hollie tackled “All the Man that I Need” and I gotta say I didn’t dig it as much as the panel did. Parts of it were good, other parts, “meh.”

Jeremy Rosado
Always doing too many runs with a voice that rivals many of the others, Jeremy’s “Ribbon in the Sky” was too breathy, and lacked control and gravitas. Randy was right to note that he didn’t believe it.

Jessica Sanchez
Flawless. Definitely a leading contender, especially since “I Will Always Love You” is one of the most iconic songs in the world to cover. I definitely don’t like the early coronation from the judges, though. Steven Tyler’s “you may be the one” is just lame. Just let it be a great performance and don’t pressure this young girl too much.

Phil Phillips
“Superstitious” was the best of the evening. Driving, percussive, tonally perfect – and delivered by the evening’s hands-down Slap. He’s yummy, entertaining and a fantastic singer. His charisma is natural and his confidence is breezy. This guy will make records, period. The most refreshing thing about him? He’s ALWAYS dressed-down casual, and speaking as a writer who works in his jammie pants, I LOVE that. More, please.

Predicted bottom gal and guy: Elise Testone & Jeremy Rosado (possible wild card for bottom dwellers goes to Shannon Magrane)

Best performances of the night: Phil Phillips & Jessica Sanchez

JLo fashion grade: A
Normally a train wreck, this blogger loved the dressed-down look. Keep it up, Jenny.

Oh and Joshua, just remember: that hand movement is not what you said it was. It is called “The Stabilizer.” The record has been set straight.

Writer’s note: this blog will also appear on BentBlog.com. Stay tuned!

Why Does Facebook Hate Charity Fundraising?

(ATLANTA - 25 October 2011) “Too big to succeed.” And no, I’m not talking about AIG or Morgan Stanley.

Those horrible four words could be the new-new-new-new Facebook tagline. As the social-networking giant has grown exponentially, it has changed UIs (user interfaces), bells and whistles, functionality, and security preferences more than Tara Reid has changed boyfriends. While Twitter has streamlined and improved without blowing up their core product - and spawning a cottage industry of top-notch Twitter clients - Facebook has seized on an ill-perceived need to change, change and change again.

This issue came to a boiling point while running
ARTvision Atlanta - which, smart as it was at the time, has a Facebook page for the sole purpose of expanding our earnings reach and branding. As many folks have noted (here and here), love it or hate it, Facebook is a critical element in growing exposure to charitable causes.

Among the myriad challenges that charities face, spending time
fixing a fatal code bug on a Facebook page shouldn’t be one of them. (My Googling shows that this is a widespread and as-yet unaddressed issue.) Alas, this is the case with our page now. Without getting into the geeky-gritty of it: Facebook has inexplicably violated its own TOS (terms of service) by allowing administrators to inadvertently change the name of a group with 100+ members by indicating the location of said group. So now, ARTvision Atlanta - which was closing in on 500 members - now reads as its beneficiary, Positive Impact, and the name cannot be changed back.

A group’s name is, last time I checked, the very foundation on which fundraising stands. Our AV page has three years of activity, history, photos and proven sales history that we have abandoned for a new page until Facebook gets off its ass to fix the issue. Sending bug reports, posting on help pages and other pleas for assistance have been systematically denied - because, well, Facebook is just too damn big. At last count, the site has 800 million users and they, by sheer volume, cannot address everything individually.

But is that a good enough reason to refuse help when charitable funds are at stake? This bug rises to a different level entirely when we’re talking about charitable giving. We depend on the networks and reach of Facebook to get word out, and this fatal flaw in their code - being no fault of any user -
must be addressed now. Lest the company go down in history as the giant who got too big for their britches and couldn’t care properly for their philanthropic micro-communities.

When it comes to charitable giving and fundraising, a different urgency should rise through the ranks. And if this post helps to fix the overall bug itself, fine by me. In the meantime, please
visit our new Facebook page and forgive the occasional grumble from me. - WP

Big HT and shout out to WannaBAuthor for the awesome devilish FB image.

Blogger’s note: I will be blogging at the
ARTvision site from here until the end of the year.

UPDATE: After hitting hard, Facebook came back and addressed the Group name issue. We now are back in business as ARTvision Atlanta on Facebook! Of course, they attributed it to our mistake. But I don’t care... as long as we have the real name back.

The Gospel Of Parachute

(ATLANTA - 6 September 2011) :: Songwriting, crisp arrangements and soulfulness are alive and well, I’m happy to report.

All evidenced by Parachute’s latest record, “The Way it Was” (Island Def Jam). The band first caught my ear with the driving, soulful “Under Control” - a fine if a bit safe pop-rock track that spurred me to snag the entire album. I’m glad I did, because it was the perfect prep for their newest effort.

go to Parachute’s official website

No sophomore slump here - far from it. The album cover art is a throw-back to an old Chicago or Doobie Brothers cover, shot plainly in a leafy park setting.

”The Way it Was,” Parachute

But don’t let that fool you: the production is slick and the writing is stellar. Despite the strange, retro look on the cover, the band fearlessly delves into hybrid waters, with the unabashed, gospel-infused “Something to Believe In.”

“You spend your days alone still hopin' for the truth,
But all you hear are lies”

As a writer and lyricist, that’s a line that hit right at my core. We are a nation hoping for something new, something truthful, but all we are fed is bullshit - and then we’re expected to stay quiet and accept the scene of our country crumbling at its core.

But the lyric and arrangement is raised up by the gospel backing - a daring move for a band not known for that. I’d push back on their video for not highlighting those specific vocals, because they absolutely make the song. But I’m nit-picking.

I don’t use the term “fearless” lightly with this record - because rock bands often shy away from anything that takes them outside of their wheelhouse. (And they are often criticized for doing so,
as Liz Phair found out the hard way.) Creating accessibility in songwriting is not tantamount to watering down or “selling out” - it’s a tool to speak to more people.

Just ask
Steve Winwood, who saw “Higher Love” shoot to the top of the charts with the blistering, stellar backing of Chaka Khan. How could that song have soared as it did without her vocal - and without that added accessibility? Answer: it couldn’t. They did, in fact, show Chaka in the video, too.

In all, and in the midst of the nutty spin-cycle of never ending new-band parades, Parachute has done an incredible job. So check it out on iTunes if you haven’t already; make sure to spin “
Kiss Me Slowly” (written with members of Lady Antebellum), “You and Me,” and “Philadelphia” - an uncomplicated tune reminiscent of some of Josha Radin’s best stuff.

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I Flipped For 'Flip'

Richard Blais does his thing at his new, hip and happening burger joint in West Midtown.

Thanks to Alison for such great company.

@richardblais doin' his specialty at Flip today. Awesome join... on Twitpic oh and PS: the onion rings are slap-yo-mamma good. on Twitpic

Two Sequels For Which I Will Definitely Stand In Line

They have nothing to do with each other, and attract a disparate audience... but I’m very happy to hear that both “franchises” have sequels in the works.

The first, the new Star Trek prequel, has
already been greenlit for a second in the series -- proving that Paramount has enough faith in the buzz of J.J. Abrams’ forthcoming juggernaut that they’d approve a sequel before the receipts are in for this next installment (which is really a complete re-imaging of the entire brand).

You’ll forgive my excitement:

Some of the TNG-based Trek movies won me over - most notably, the dark and high-minded “First Contact” - so I’m excited for this new beginning, too.

In other sequel news, there’s the follow-up in the works to the remarkably long and equally funny
Sex and the City feature film, which is reportedly on the fasttrack... which would be a surprise given how long it took for the first one to get made. (Kim Cattrall may want to make another ice skating movie beforehand.)

We could use healthy doses of comedy, action, sex and human understanding that both films franchises bring to the table.

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Of Bras, Panties And Hair Styling: Cloris Leachman On Bonnie Hunt

Take a break from the grind and look at this clip from The Bonnie Hunt Show.

She and Cloris Leachman have great chemistry and you'll laugh your ass off.

Frankly I was surprised at how at ease Bonnie Hunt is with her new show.



No Embedding? Fine... I'll Go To The Concert And Do It Myself

This is a sequel post from yesterday. Mission accomplished.

I suppose I played right into their hands by attending the concert, but at least I kept my protest clean by not patronizing
Ticketwhore, oh sorry, I mean Ticketmaster. I bought directly from Variety Playhouse's box office.

Enjoy the clip below. More to follow on my
YouTube channel.

Colbie Caillat's vocals were strong and the audience seemed chill and engaged. A rare combination. Kudos to her for sticking with small venues.


'Mic And The City': Lowering The Boom On A Blockbuster

(ATLANTA - 31 May 2008) :: OK, so I did my gay duty and went to see Sex And The City movie on its premiere night. Thanks to Thom for coming with.

The film was uproarious, vivid, full of couture, acted and written exceedingly well, and all expectations were surpassed... save for the hideous exception of a visible boom mic.

And not just in one scene - multiple times, and in such an overt way that you think some local loon is standing over the screen on a ladder, holding the long-arm mic, taunting you, teasing you for no apparent reason.

In an otherwise stellar display of cinematic joy, this was perplexing to say the least. The
boards are abuzz about this "gaff"; even Perez Hilton has posted about it. There is even an early YouTube review that pokes fun:

Please, New Line & WB, do us all a favor and fix this in post production somehow. Blame for this error stretches across multiple roles in this film, resting not only with the boom operator... but with the production crew, as well as the actors and director, for not catching it in the film's dailies.

Despite the rarity of this type of mistake, it
appears to have precedent in the TV-series run.

Even so, this movie is so good that it'll wipe out this weekend's competition despite "the long arm of the sound" stepping in front of its cast. The film stays so true to the original series - in fact, elevates it so elegantly - that the mistakes turn out to be just, quite literally, blips on the screen.

And believe me when I tell you - this boom-mic story is intended as fair warning, not as spoiler. I wish I had been warned ahead of time myself.

Here's the trailer!


Crusty Gives Thumbs-middle To Shaun's

A group of us, including Chris "Crusty" Haddle, went to Shaun's on Saturday night. His review on AccessAtlanta is spot on:

While I admit that Shaun Doty is a talented chef, it's too bad that talent didn't get transferred to the operation of his eponymous restaurant. I made a reservation 2 weeks in advance for 8pm on a Saturday night. It was apparent that the hostess didn't have a good handle on the seating because it took us 45 minutes to be seated, even with a reservation. She showed us the table, then walked off. Is it too much to expect a little apology for the wait? Our waiter was apathetic and only mildly efficient. The food was OK, but I was hoping to be "wow-ed," especially by a chef of Doty's caliber. The best part of the meal was the dessert of sticky toffee pudding, but even that was a small portion. Basically, Shaun's is just OK, but I would suggest going during the week. I must say it baffles me why the AJC continuously puts mediocre-to-mildly decent restaurants on their Top 50 List (see Trois...ugh!). This city has so much more to offer."

They really did seem to be in over their heads... but I still think the joint has a lot of potential.