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Match Play is a golf/suspense novel. Dust of Autumn is a bloody one set in upstate New York. Prairie View is set in South Dakota, with a final scene atop Rattlesnake Butte. Life in the Arbor is a children's book about Rollie Rabbit and his friends (on about a fourth grade level). The Black Widow involves an elaborate extortion scheme. Doggy-Dog World is my memoir. And ES3 is a description of my method for examining English sentence structure.
In case anyone is interested in any of my past posts, an archive list can be found at the bottom of this page.
My newest novel, Happy Valley, can be found here.

Wednesday, December 9

The Voice & Frank Sinatra

We’ve been watching the finals on The Voice, the ABC equivalent of Fox’s American Idol. In many ways it’s better than Idol with the four judges more active participants in the process of separating the wheat from the chaff, the sets for the individual performances better and more elaborate, and the wardrobes of each performer classier. Several similarities, though, are things I’ve complained about in the past—the cheesy, unclassy waving of arms by the two sections of the audience near the front during the performances, and too much sound interference during performances. Why would the producers of these two shows have thought this arm idiocy was something they needed? As I said before, the waving arms look like sea anemones undulating back and forth. But even anemones would be able to keep better time than some of the idiotic arms. Also, both shows seem to encourage the audience to scream and holler during performances. We already have too much background noise from too much backup singing and over-loud orchestrations; we don’t need audience noise as well. I say, again, if we really want to find the best singer on these two shows, we should at some point hear the finalists all sing the same song, and sing it a cappella. That would really separate winners from losers. After last night, the field was pared down to the final four: hefty Jordan Smith, country cutie Emily Ann Roberts, the tall Arkansan Barrett Baber, and red-headed Jeffrey Austin, who made it by way of a saving vote among the middle three contestants. Of the four, Emily and Jordan don’t stand a chance, with either Barrett or Jeffrey winning it all, and I’m betting that of the two, Jeffrey Austin will come out on top. Now, if we could just get Voice and Idol to do away with those irritating arms and audience shrieks.
And speaking of Voice and voices, how could I ignore the CBS special last Sunday of Sinatra's 100th birthday? It was very good, almost as good as Frank was. But too many of the guest singers doing Sinatra standards sounded like they were in a karaoke bar. I'd rather have heard Old Blue Eyes singing some of the numbers, up on the video screen singing to us from his grave. Instead, we got only pieces of him doing "It Was a Very Good Year." Nobody, nobody, can duplicate his phrasing and timing. Michael Buble may come close, but that's it. As Duke Ellington once said, Frank was always aware of the beat. The band could play it as it was arranged and they never had to wait for Sinatra to catch up, or to catch up with him if he ever got ahead (which was never). Impeccable timing. Most of the guest singers did all right, but they sang it in their own standard ways, and my ear could always hear the difference between their versions and Frank's. Thumbs down on Adam Levine, who tried to sing "The Best Is Yet to Come" (and he was certainly right about that); Zac Brown, with a bad rendering of "The Way You Look Tonight"; Garth Brooks tramping through "The Lady Is a Tramp"; Celine Dion giving us a few phony tears with her rendition of "All the Way"; and Harry Connick Jr. begging for luck on "Luck, Be a Lady" (but crapping out instead). Tony Bennett did his 89-year-old "I've Got the World on a String," but did it in his own version. The evening's standouts? Host Seth McFarlane surprisingly doing well with "One for My Baby," Alicia Keys in high-key at the piano with "I've Got a Crush on You," and Lady Gaga closing out the evening in a tuxedo, doing her own version of "Theme from New York, New York," ending it with a shadow version of Sinatra with cocked hip and hat. It was a very good finale.
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