Monday, June 6, 2011

The Battles Are Over But the War Goes On

Now that the battle rounds are over, I figured that it was time to revisit the teams on The Voice.

In reviewing the four rounds together, I think that for the most part the correct decisions were made, but I’m not sold on the battle format. Even though I loved comparing competitors singing the same song at the same time (especially when one singer did surprisingly better than I thought they would), inevitably it meant that promising people who we had barely heard were eliminated, including Niki Dawson (Team Cee Lo), Justin Grennan (Team Christina), and Tim Mahoney (Team Adam).

Also, and this was no fault of the format, some of the song choices were just flat-out crazy, including all of Blake’s choices (“Hunk of Burning Love,” “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “You Can’t Hurry Love,” “I’ll Stand By You”).

Some other opinions…

Favorite Song Choice: “F*ckin’ Perfect” (Cee Lo)

Least Favorite Song Choice: “Hunk of Burning Love” (Blake)

Oddest Song Choice That Actually Worked: “Baba O’Riley” (Christina)

Favorite Duet/Battle: Rebecca Loebe & Devon Barley on “Creep” (Team Adam)

Most Egregious Elimination, Part I (because he was so much better): Tyler Robinson (Blake)

Most Egregious Elimination, Part II (because her competition was so bad): Kelsey Rey (Cee Lo)

Toughest Battle to Call: Emily Valentine & Curtis Grimes on “Need You Now” (Team Cee Lo)

Favorite Expression: Cee Lo’s face when Emily Valentine & Curtis Grimes kissed at the end of their duet

Most Pleasantly Surprising Team Pick: Jared Blake (Blake)

Top Five Six I’m Rooting For: Devon Barley (Team Adam), Javier Colon (Team Adam), Jeff Jenkins (Team Adam), Vicci Martinez (Team Adam), Beverly McClellan (Team Christina), Nakia (Team Cee Lo)

Contestant I'm Most Rooting For to Get Her Act Together After a Dismal Battle Round: Xenia (Team Blake)

Eliminated Contestant I’d Love to See on American Idol: Rebecca Loebe

Strongest Team: Team Adam (Devon Barley, Javier Colon, Jeff Jenkins, Casey Weston)

Weakest Team: Team Christina (Raquel Castro, Frenchie Davis, Lily Elise, Beverly McClellan). Seriously, I’m pretty sure a team made up of Adam’s rejects (Casey Desmond, Rebecca Loebe, Tim Mahoney, Angela Wolff) would beat this team.

If Each Team Could Pick an Additional Wild Card: Casey Desmond (Team Adam), Cherie Oakley (Team Christina), Tyler Robinson (Team Blake), Emily Valentine (Team Cee Lo). I’d love to see any of these singers again.

I’m not sure exactly how the live rounds are going to work, but I like a lot of these singers and I’m very interested to see what happens in the coming weeks.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Great Unread—May

—People change, she said.
—Oh, no they don’t. Look at me. I’ve never changed. It’s like those sticks of rock: bite it all the way down, you’ll still read Brighton. That’s human nature.

As I mentioned in last month’s challenge post, this month I decided to read my copy of Brighton Rock, which is part of the six-volume “Deluxe Edition” Graham Greene centennial series by Penguin that I bought at the MLA some years ago. Being set in the Brighton underworld, the novel also fit conveniently into this month’s book salon topic, Crime and Punishment.

When I pulled this month’s challenge book down from the shelves, I had no idea what Brighton rock was. Knowing the basic outlines of the plot, I figured it was, you know, a rock, or maybe a cliff. But, no, it is actually a candy sold in seaside towns in the U.K.

[Note: The photo above was ganked from Paperback Reader, who provided me with some comfort by asserting that she had made the same assumption about this title, despite knowing of the candy. I wholeheartedly agree with her assessment that the symbolic use of this candy takes the book to a whole other level.]

Reading this at the end of a series of books related to the topic of crime really pointed up the issue of level, which we discussed at last night’s salon. While I enjoyed the other books I read (A Certain Justice, Killing Floor, To Love and Be Wise, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie) and the latter two had me immediately take out The Franchise Affair, Brat Farrar, and The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag from the library, they did not reach the level of the Greene, even if Brighton Rock itself straddles the line between his earlier “entertainments” and his later “Catholic” novels.

Next month’s read for me will also straddle the classic/popular line: Le Tour du monde en quatre-vingts jours. Besides a translation of Paris au XXe si├Ęcle, I’ve never read Jules Verne and I’m really looking forward to it. Of course, it’s a bit of a cheat because I just purchased it on my recent trip to France and haven’t been carting it from apartment to apartment for years like most of the Great Unread, but it syncs up nicely with next month’s book salon on Best Picture Adaptations. I’ve never seen Around the World in 80 Days (1956) either, so I’ve added that to my Netflix queue.

I haven’t heard from readers in awhile. Have you given up on this challenge? Not reading these days? Enquiring minds want to know.