Wednesday, January 30, 2008

An insider's statement about politicians, their promises and lies -- or "Rudy didn’t even care enough about conservatives to lie to us"

In an fascinating news analysis in today's New York Times, "For Giuliani, a Dizzying Free-Fall for Ex-Mayor Who Seemed to Have It All" by reporters Michael Powell and Michael Cooper, there was an amazing quote from a Republican insider:

“It bordered on science fiction to think that someone as liberal on as many issues as Rudy Giuliani could become the Republican nominee,” said Nelson Warfield, a Republican consultant who has been a longtime critic of the former mayor. “Rudy didn’t even care enough about conservatives to lie to us. The problem wasn’t the calendar; it was the candidate.”

Let me highlight the essential part of Warfield's quote: "Rudy didn’t even care enough about conservatives to lie to us." (Check it out yourself here.)

In other words, it's okay, even expected, that politicians will lie to their constituencies -- but that's because it shows voters that the politicians care enough to pander to them. If politicians don't lie to show they care, they won't get the support from voters (who recognize they're not being lied to.)

That's a Catch-22 that even Joseph Heller could appreciate.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Rules for "American Idol"

It's that time of year...time to see how many Americans really have no singing talent. But are deluded enough to think they deserve a shot at being a celebrity.

I'm talking about the auditions part of the program.

I am not a big fan, and have only watched one season through the end. But I've seen enough audition episodes to identify some basic ground rules to get a yellow ticket to Hollywood. Ignore them at your peril.
  • Have some real singing talent.
  • Seriously, dude, have some talent. It helps if you actually have a regular place to sing that isn't the shower.
  • Do not sing a a signature song from Mariah Carey or other diva. Not because you can't compete with her voice; perhaps you can. Don't do it because doing so gives judge Randy Jackson the opportunity to talk about how he knows Mariah and how he produced Mariah. Even if you're good, he's not going to like you. It's just not worth it. Sing another song.
  • Do not sing a song made famous by an American Idol winner or runner up. They've already heard the song about a million times. Sung better, too.
  • Do not sing a song you've written yourself. It's difficult for the judges to determine if you're a good singer if they don't know the song. Also, only freaks sing their own songs during auditions.
  • Have an interesting back story to tell. If you're any good, the producers will help you polish it. But be careful: there's a line between really interesting and, um, singing a song you wrote.
  • Do not bring any show-and-tell items. People have brought in fans, posters, photos of their students -- things that take time away from the main point of the proceedings: to determine whether or not you deserve a trip to Hollywood. There may be exceptions, but if you bring life accessories into the audition room, it's a safe bet that your so-called singing talent isn't what you think it is. Not surprisingly, the people I saw who expected to do some show-and-tell included people who sang their own songs.
  • Ignore Ryan Seacrest. Sure he may act like he's your friend before you enter the audition room, but he's not. His so-called job is to inject some sort of tension into the audition process. Being friends with him does not help you get to Hollywood. If you get selected for Hollywood, you should be polite of course, but he's not your friend.
  • Ignore Simon. He may get the most attention, but the most important judge for you to impress is Randy Jackson. The reason: Paula pretty much votes in a block with Randy. You only need two judges to say yes to get to Hollywood; if Randy says yes, start packing, dawg.
  • If all three judges say no, it's okay to tear up, but do not lose control. Especially don't start cursing out Simon and the rest of the judges. The producers have complete control: they will bleep your voice, cover your mouth with an Idol logo (to prevent us from hearing what kind of, um, uh, person you think Simon is), and can make you look like a deranged freak. If that's really you're goal, you can get a lot more airtime on other programs. Save the effort for a program and audience that really cares, like Jerry Springer.
Good luck!