nurturing thursdays: …of caterpillars…and butterflies…

Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over,

it turned into a beautiful butterfly.

Can life get any better than that?January 2011 00049

Two auditions down, one left to do.

While awaiting news of her Toronto audition for Ballet BC, my daughter did Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s audition yesterday. While she made the first cut, one of forty dancers down from the 250 or so vying for one or two positions in the main company and another couple in the second company, she did not make the second cut which shaved the numbers by 30 dancers. Wanting to share the disappointing results, she called me as soon as she exited the studio.

I detected neither devastation nor ecstasy in the tone of her voice. She sounded chipper. I was hopeful, until she gave me the bad news. Except for her words, I didn’t pick up on any major catastrophe. Just the slightest trace of sadness. After all this was her dream company.

On her way to catch a subway back to her hotel, she seemed slightly out of breath as she explained the outcome.

My daughter felt okay at having lost out to phenomenal dancers. She mentioned a couple of the women, one already with Hubbard Street 2, and the other, a 31-year-old who’d danced with Milwaukee Ballet since she was 17. I’d seen the second one a couple of summers ago when she and my daughter danced with Textures Contemporary Ballet. The woman was amazing. And according to my daughter, the Hubbard 2 dancer “moved beautifully” as well.

As with any job interview, dance auditions are a roller coaster ride. Only the hardy get off in one piece, prepared to do it all over again. And that’s my daughter, ready to continue on with the ride of her life. One I would’ve ditched years ago. In fact, roller coaster rides lost their appeal for me after I did a handful of them way back in the day. Besides scaring the bejesus out of me, they made me nauseous.

It takes a certain mindset to survive roller coaster rides…the man-made ones and the ones manifested in our everyday lives. To survive we must establish coping mechanisms…give in or zone out. Either way we have to let ourselves…go with the flow. 

On the subway ride, my daughter sat with another dancer who’d been cut from the audition. Both traded stories of where they’d been auditioning, and what they planned to do in the aftermath of this failed venture. It seemed the young woman was more despondent about her prospects. 

One of the beauties of dancers is how they support one another in good times and bad. They realize they’re all in the “same boat.” They cheer when others break through and live their dream. They empathize when others don’t make the cut. They support one another in their job searches, often suggesting companies they should try.Nashville 09-2010 00036

We continued our conversation once my daughter was in her hotel lobby. We talked of her upcoming four days in Atlanta where she’ll be auditioning during company classes. Always the preferable way to have the director see her among his own dancers, rather than one of fifty in so-called “cattle calls.” Having trained and apprenticed with the company might also work in my daughter’s favor. I say might because six years have passed and there are lots of “other fish in the sea” who might be equally as good or better, as we’ve learned from previous auditions. There’s no guaranteeing who will succeed in being hired to fill the one or two openings available.

The other thing to consider is that unionized dance companies, Atlanta’s being one, must hold auditions even if they don’t have jobs to offer. I’m not sure what the rationale is for this rule. So even after dancers dole out money for head shots, airfare, accommodations, and registration fee…yes, they have to pay to audition…chances are the entire affair was a ruse. As a veteran of the business, my daughter only does auditions where jobs are available. She learns of them through her network of friends or is astute at seeking out companies with openings online.

Auditions are an excellent way for dancers to critique themselves. They see where they stand among their competitors. They learn what specific things they need to improve, perhaps to master, to better their chances of being hired. They can gauge first-hand what companies are seeking in prospective members. 

On a personal level, auditions can be healthy doses of reality. Dancers learn if they’re made for a career that can be very fickle…at times based more upon subjective, not objective, criteria. Appearance matters, whether in the dancer’s look or the lines she creates while moving through the choreography. Directors know in their heads what they’re looking for. Too bad dancers can’t get inside those heads. It might be a lot easier to decide whether or not to even go through the motions.

I’ve been enamored of dance all my life. Growing up I just moved to whatever music was playing on the radio or TV. Except for the requisite hula classes…I’m Hawaiian, after all…I taught myself, and others, to do the popular stuff…the mashed potatoes, the twist, the jerk, the continental. An older sister used me to practice the cha-cha and the swing.IMG_4657

Ballet and I would never have seen eye-to-eye. I’m not one for standing still and moving my limbs. Not when I have no control over my body once the music begins. It grabs hold of me and throws me around like an out-of-control, deliriously excited rag doll.

My daughter is beginning to learn some of why dance appeals to me. Having decided to go more contemporary, she’s learning to take ballet to a new place. Allowing the body to sculpt the movement, rather than confining it within specific structures. Marrying both concepts creates beautiful movement, not unlike ballet in its finished form…on stage.

No matter the form it takes, dance is like magic effortlessly performed.

…like a butterfly…freed of its cocoon…

………hugmamma.Andrea's Portland Pictures 2008 006

tiptoeing…through the internet…

Hover!

Image via Wikipedia

I lead a double life as I’m sure most of us do these days. We’re on the internet doing our thing, whatever that might be. Meanwhile the gods hover overhead controlling the maze in which we find ourselves. We’re mice looking for that tasty morsel, that “feel-good moment,” which momentarily quiets our brain in its perpetual hunt for satisfaction.

facebook engancha

Image via Wikipedia

Addicted to social networking is putting it mildly. We’re as committed to the internet as we are to the automobile and foreign gas. Yes, there are those who have managed to side-step both life altering inventions, but they are decidedly in the minority. But I would venture to guess that they too are affected, just as non-smokers are by second-hand smoke.

The Human Body -- Cancer

Image by n0cturbulous via Flickr

According to Webster, “Cancer…1. a malignant growth or tumor that tends to spread. 2. any evil that spreads destructively. …” I liken the pervasive invasion of Google and Facebook into our privacy like a cancer that can only have dire consequences. And just as a victim of the dreaded disease is never certain of his prognosis, so too we users of the internet might be viewed as lambs led to slaughter. When and where we meet with our destruction is yet to be seen.

Image representing YouTube as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

You can draw your own conclusions from the following Wall Street Journal article in today’s paper.

Google Widens Its Tracks
by Julia Angwin

     In a move that could make it harder for Google users to remain anonymous, Google Inc. said it would start combining nearly all the information it has on its users.
     This could mean, for instance, that when users search via Google, the company will use their activities on sister sites like Gmail and YouTube to influence those users’ search results. Google hasn’t done that before.
     Google’s move–which was disclosed in a privacy policy that will take effect on March 1–is a sign of the fierce competition between Google and Facebook Inc. over personal data. Facebook has amassed an unprecedented amount of data about the lives of its more than 800 million members–information that is coveted by advertisers.
     Google traditionally hasn’t had the same amount of personal data about its users, and has kept much of its personal data separate.
     But as Facebook gears up for its planned initial public offering this year, Google has amped up the competition.
     Last year, Google launched its own social network, called Google+ in members’ search results. Google’s latest move would allow the company to include insights from services such as Gmail and YouTube to search results as well.
     This could effectively rewrite the relationship between users and the world’s most-popular search engine.
     Google has long treated users’ search queries as sacrosanct–in part because they can contain very personal sensitive information–about topics such as health and finances.
     In June, at The Wall Street Journal’s All Things Digital conference, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said, “Google will remain a place where you can do anonymous searches. We’re very committed to having you have control over the information we have about you. So, for example, if you want to continue to use Google and don’t log in, and don’t tell us who you are, that will continue to be true forever.”
     Mr. Schmidt’s statement would remain true for people who aren’t logged into a Gmail, Google+, YouTube, Android phone or an other Google account. But as Google’s services become more ubiquitous and deeply linked, it could become more difficult for users to take Google up on that promise of anonymity.
     “Google now watches consumers practically everywhere they go on the Web–and in real life, when using a mobile phone,” said Christopher Soghoian, an independent privacy and security researcher in Washington D.C. “No single entity should be trusted with this much sensitive data.”
     Google said that it isn’t collecting any new information, just combining it to provide better service to customers. For example, the company said that it could alert a user that he is going to be late to a meeting based on Google’s analysis of the user’s location, calendar and analysis of traffic on the road to the meeting.
     “We’ll treat you as a single user across all our products, which will mean a simpler, more intuitive Google experience,” Alma Whitten, Google’s director of privacy, product and engineering, wrote on the company’s blog.
     Google added that it would continue its policy of not combining user’s personal information with data about their Web browsing collected by its DoubleClick advertising network.
     The company last year signed a privacy agreement with the Federal Trade Commission. The settlement requires Google to ask users for permission before changing some of its privacy settings and requires the company to submit to privacy audits for 20 years.
     This month, the company launched an advertising campaign touting its commitment to privacy.
     Google until recently refrained from aggressively exploiting its own data about internet users to show them online ads tailored to their interests, fearing a backlash. But the rapid emergence of rivals such as Facebook has caused it to change its policy over time.
     In 2009 Google for the first time started collecting a new type of data about the websites people visit, and using it to track and show them ads across the Internet.
     Last June, the company launched Google+, which was intended to rival Facebook, Twitter Inc. and other social-media companies whose users have willingly provided information about themselves.
     With Tuesday’s changes, Google is “setting the stage for one-upping” Facebook in terms of being able to better target online ads to website visitors based on what it knows about their interests, said Brian Kennish, a former Google programmer who runs Disconnect Inc., a firm that offers software to block Google and other companies that collect information about Web users.
(–Amir Efrati contributed to this article)

Makes me think of former New York Governor, Elliott Spitzer. He trolled the internet seeking sexual favors from women on online sites. I’m sure it’s safe to assume there are millions of men who do the same. What they do in the privacy of their own homes is their business…or is it? Not anymore it seems. Google is now the all knowing eye. Will it give up its information for money? To buy political favors? To get the Feds off its back? Who knows?

Profile shown on Facebook in September 2011

Image via Wikipedia

Our privacy is no longer sacrosanct. It’s in jeopardy of being relinquished to the highest bidder, which in this case…are the deep pockets of the almighty advertisers. They want to know what we want…so they can sell us more of the same. A vicious cycle over which we’ve ultimate control. Or do we?

We seem willing pawns in the battle of the gods. All of this may seem far-fetched, and I may be the one who cried wolf once too often. My voice is lost amidst the din consuming the internet. I’m just Chicken Little running around shouting “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!” And the resounding response? Silence. 

English: A chicken running Français : Un poule...

Image via Wikipedia

Even i have no idea what it is we should do…

Chicken Little (2005 film)
Image via Wikipedia

…tomorrow…i’ll think about it…tomorrow…

………hugmamma.      

this generation…”the voice”

If, like me, you feel totally disconnected from ” whassup?” with this generation, I highly recommend you start watching the latest, reality talent phenom, The Voice. It airs Tuesday nights on NBC. The first in the series ended last night with one of four challengers being hailed as “the voice,” in addition to walking away with $100,000 and a recording contract.

Trust me when I say, I knew very few, if any, of the songs that were sung throughout the course of the competition. Every once-in-awhile I recognized a piece of something from having heard it on my car radio, as I ran errands. Fortunately I love music with a beat, or tunes that have heart. I can be-bop to almost anything. I love singing; I love dancing.

Christina Aguilera performing during the Sanre...

Image via Wikipedia

Of the 4 judges, who also coached the challengers, I’d only heard of Christina Aguilera. And it was only recently when I saw her starring with Cher in a film, that I became a huge fan of the blonde songstress. She is one amazing vocalist! But as I tuned in faithfully to watch The Voice each week, I became a huge fan of Blake Shelton, country crooner, and Adam Levine, pop rocker, who served on the panel with Aguilera. I’m still not familiar with Shelton’s songs, can only recognize a couple by Levine, and am well acquainted with only one by Aguilera, Beautiful.” Knowing who they are now, still doesn’t give me entree… into this generation. But at least I can step up to the peep hole and be a “peeping tom” into what makes the young folk tick.

Adam Levine from Maroon 5

Image via Wikipedia

Adding to my credibility as an honorary member of this generation, is the fact that I’m the one who got my 25-year-old, professional dancer daughter hooked on The Voice. Like me she really wasn’t committed to watching any of the other talent shows. But The Voice definitely persuaded us to delay our phone conversations until we’d both watched it in our own time zones. Now that’s saying something!

I heartily encourage seniors and anyone wanting to “get with it” to watch the next season of The Voice. By the way, the talent crosses all generations. One of the TV audience favorites was a 42-year-old, bald, Lesbian, with tatoos, who got the studio audience on their feet, moving to her powerhouse vocals. Beverly McLellan could belt it out with the best of them. She was one of my favorites.

Blake Shelton - 1

Image by tncountryfan via Flickr

While I liked many of the singers, my favorite was Dia Frampton. Coached by Blake Shelton, she succeeded in coming into her own as a performer, right before our eyes. Though still shy and exceedingly humble, Dia showed her creative genius for songwriting, versatility at playing the piano and guitar, and exquisitely different tonal quality which ranged from barely audible and raspy, to scintillatingly explosive. It didn’t hurt that she was Miss U.S.A. caliber either. While she wasn’t voted the winner by America, Dia wasn’t far behind. Only 2% separated her from Javier Colon, the guy who already had “the voice,” even before he joined the show.

I don’t think there was a doubt in anyone’s mind that Javier should’ve walked away with
the grand prize. Evidently he’d had a couple of non-starters at a musical career. With the unfailing love and support of his wife and 2 young daughters, as well as other family members, Javier continued to search for his breakthrough moment. Luckily for him, and for music afficionados, he found his way to The Voice, and a win he very much deserved.

Dia Frampton

Following YouTube videos are of Dia Frampton singing “Heartless,” Dia and Blake Shelton singing I Won’t Back Down,” and Javier Colon singing “Stitch by Stitch.” Hopefully these videos will convince you to tune into season two of “The Voice.”

…celebrating the voices…of this generation…hugmamma.

 

halleluja! for small favors

Tried to leave comments on my blog buddies’ blogs. Thank goodness 2 of them worked, jeanne’s blog and The Daily Dabbler. I posted 2 comments on each consecutively, to make sure it wasn’t a fluke, as well as to celebrate the moment. Gotta love those small moments! Not so lucky with Scriptor Obscura and Sage Chronicles. Am letting them know via this post that I’ve left comments which disappeared into “thin air.”

Cover of

Cover via Amazon

Bought a book which might help me understand the machinations of the internet better, especially the manipulations of others to get ahead of the pack. I think the title speaks for itself, Get to the top on Google,” by David Viney. Someone left a comment a while back asking how it was I got to the top of Google’s ranks. I responded that I had no clue. Remember I’m a writer, not an internet guru. I’ve no clue about Akismet, let alone Google. I write. I click. And it’s out of my hands. Except for checking stats on my blog, I rarely venture out to see what’s happening with my site on Google. When I do, I’ve no idea what to make of what I see. I do see a lot of sites using my posts, but I just shake my head not knowing what to make of that.

My brother’s more tech savvy, so he’s been trying to clue me in on what’s what. I guess manipulation is part of life. We all do it, to some degree, to get our way, to get what we want. But when it oversteps, in the hopes of hurting others, then it’s in another league altogether. But I’m not going to go there. Just want to let readers of my blog know in case your comments are hijacked too. My advice? Don’t stress. Celebrate the small things that do go right.

thank you, jeanne, and the daily dabbler…for “taking my calls”…hugmamma.

THIS IS IT!!!

365 posts published in 7 months…12,113 views…record-setting 303 views today, 2/28/11 

We did it…together!!!

…”mahalo nui loa”…thank you, from the bottom of my heart…hugmamma…

i’ve got a deadline to meet

Regular readers to my blog know that I set myself a task about a month or so ago. By day’s end, today, I will have published 365 posts. That would mean I would’ve written a year’s worth of posts in 7 months. The other part of the challenge was that you, dear reader, help me reach 10,000 viewings at the same time. Needless to say you’ve far surpassed that goal with hits to date at 11, 879! Who knows you might even make it to 12,000, since you’re just shy of the mark by 121 views. 

Whatever the number at midnight tonight, I’m already eternally grateful for your faith in me as a writer. If you were my boss in corporate America, you would have already given me a promotion beyond my wildest imaginings. And so I thank you, with great humility, for letting me into your lives through the written word.

So brace yourselves, especially those who’ve subscribed by email, for  an onslaught…of more words. Tomorrow you’ll get a well-deserved break, I promise…I think.

blest to be writing…for you…hugmamma.

on our way to 10,000 viewings!

Wanted to keep you posted on our efforts towards 365 posts and 10,000 views by the end of next month, February.

The day I first posted the challenge, January 22, my blog “hugmamma’s mind, body, and soul,” had a total of 171 viewings. The following day, there were 122 viewings, and thus far today, there have been 112. The 3 day total equals 405 viewings!

On January 22, I indicated in my post “an impossible challenge? not for a “superior chinese mom,” that viewings thus far that day were 8,307. And today, thanks to the fantastic totals of these last 3 days, viewings are at 8,621!!!

We’re not too far off our goal, just another 1,379 viewings to the magic 10,000, and another 84 posts, to arrive at 365. We can do it!!! I know we can…I know we can…I know we can…

just like the little train “who could”…hugmamma. 

10,000 viewings, you can do it!

Forgot to add to my previous post, concerning my challenge to have had published a grand total of 365 posts by the end of next month , and way shy of my one-year anniversary, that it would be phenomenal to have my achievement coincide with 10,000 viewings of my blog. That might be a tall order, but I’m counting on your help, needless to say. I’ll write another 94 posts by the end of February, or sooner, and you just sit back,read, and enjoy. I’m not sure whose job will be easier, hopefully yours.

So I challenge you, dear readers, to keep on reading! Don’t stop, even when you’ve had enough. 

and we’ll both come out on top…yeahhhh US!…hugmamma.

an impossible challenge? not for a “superior chinese mom”

I usually acknowledge my appreciation to faithful readers, and readers new to my blog, when I pass the next thousand mark in viewings. The most recent happened so quickly, I was caught off guard. Between attempts to fix my body from the onslaught of old age, and wanting to quickly unload my mind of a landfill of words, I didn’t pause to say “thank you.” So here’s a shout out for the 8,307 views of my blog to date. You’re keeping this henna-rinsed, 39-year-old wannabee, self-employed, though not gainfully, since no money’s involved. But in this economy, I’m not paid like a lot of other people. So I’m keeping good company, and I’m not complaining. I love what I’m doing, writing!

Meanwhile, I’m challenging myself. I’m working feverishly to accomplish a goal which I’ve set, to publish 365 posts long before my one-year anniversary! The thought of achieving this within the next month gives me an adrenalin rush, not to mention an anxiety attack. I would have liked to have achieved my goal within 6 months, but the holidays, my daughter’s recovery, and my debilitating bout of senior moments sidetracked my writing efforts. You’re probably saying all my excuses are blah, blah, blah. You may be right. Nonetheless, here I am.

With 268 posts, this being the 269th, under my belt, I’ve got a little less than 100 to write. I’m heading to see my daughter’s performance in a couple of weeks, so my fingers are going to be glued to this keyboard until then. I’m hoping my laptop goes with me on my trip, but going through security at the airport is such a hassle, I’ll decide what to do about it later. If I don’t take it, I can’t access my library of photos. And you know how I love to decorate! Even my posts are not exempt. I never waste an opportunity to hone my skills at interior design.

So “gracias,” “mahalo,” “merci beaucoup” and huge “thanks” for making my blog world so much fun! Having you along doubles, no triples, the pleasure of writing. So I’m counting on you to stay tuned as I try to outdo myself in writing a year’s worth of posts, 365, in approximately 210 days…or less!?! My husband calculates that I’ll have to have published 13 posts a week to meet my goal. Think I can do it? Any bets?

watch and see…keep your eye on me…hugmamma.

meanwhile, our house is going to the cats and dogs, in other words, it’s looking like s–t! thank god i have a great hubby!

tv land, 2010

Once upon a time sitcoms ruled the airwaves. There were the good, the bad, and the really greaaattt! My favorites will always remain “I Love Lucy,” “All In the Family,” “Everybody Loves Raymond,” and the early black and white episodes of “The Andy Griffith Show.” These are like comfort food for the soul, conjuring up memories of a simpler time when family life was very important. I enjoyed watching others with some regularity as well, like “Ozzie and Harriet,” “The Danny Thomas Show,” “Father Knows Best,” “The Donna Reed Show,” “Dennis the Menace,” “Barney Miller” and “Sanford and Son.” Growing up my daughter had her favorites as well, among them, “The Bill Cosby Show.” 

What was appealing for my daughter and me was the laughter the sitcoms evoked. For half an hour we lost ourselves in others’ foibles, while enjoying the family dynamics acted out on the small screen. Time flew by, leaving us eagerly awaiting the next installment. As we drifted off to do other things, echoes of laughter could still be heard as we remembered some mishap, or hilarious “punch line.” Sitcoms left us feeling warm and fuzzy inside.

Fast forward to the present, and TV land’s domination by reality shows. I balked when Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson wanted to play husband and wife in my living room. Nuh, uh. I don’t think so. Other shows piqued my curiosity but never held my attention, like “Wife Swap,” and “Super Nanny.” I was never a fan of “Kate and John Plus Eight,” and I’m still not interested in watching her carry on without him. Though I’m glad she is; he’s  such a loser. What finally “sucked” me into watching Reality TV was “The Bachelor.”

I don’t think I watched with the thought that I’d be hooked, but one, gorgeous hunk surrounded by a bevy of beauties was intriguing. It was inconceivable that 25 women would lay bare their souls, and bodies, for millions of viewers to see, and pass judgement. I never thought of them as desperate, although some let it be known that they were. A few said they were on the show to marry the bachelor because their biological clocks were ticking away, and time was running out. Wow! Talk about honesty in front of millions of strangers. Whenever I asked my daughter if she’d audition for the show, her eyes would bulge in disbelief, “I’d never go in front of a TV audience to compete for some guy. Those women are crazy! I can’t believe they’d do such a thing.”

I’m not as faithful a fan of “The Bachelor” as I once was. The network lost me when they began substituting it with “The Bachelorette.” I didn’t find the  shenanigans of the men in the house, as much fun as that of the women. How they can behave like divas and catty “b—s” on national TV is beyond my comprehension. But with so much competition, “Bachelor” is just one of many shows that I view sporadically.

Among the many reality shows that I’ve glimpsed, some more than others,  are “Laguna Beach,” and “The Hills,” depicting the life of spoiled, rich kids. The exception was “The City’s” Whitney, who became a successful fashion designer in NYC. Celebrities whose lives I’ve watched with curious disbelief are Atlanta’s Kimora, the self- crowned “Queen of Fabulosity,” and Beverly Hills’ Kim Kardashian with her menagerie of family members, including former Olympic champion, step-father, Bruce Jenner. My daughter actually reminded me that the first reality show I probably watched was Tyra Bank’s “America’s Next Top Model.” I’ve not seen it in ages, so I guess I’d forgotten about it. What I do remember, however, is disliking that the candidates’ vulnerabilities were exploited by the show for its own benefit, and Tyra’s fashionista presence. I found both unappealing by the time I stopped tuning in to watch.

Then there were “The Housewives of…” Orange County, NYC, New Jersey, Atlanta, D.C., and soon to be aired, Beverly Hills. I watched the first in the series, the O.C. housewives, because I wanted to see how the “other half-lives.” It was difficult to believe that there were such shallow women whose lives revolved around money, and all it could buy. Underlying all the other Housewive series is the same dollar worship. Of course, some of the women are more tolerable than others. Bethenny Frankl-Hopy of NYC being one of my favorites. She is self-deprecating, realizing that the show should be viewed with more than a “grain of salt.” I must admit to still watching the “Housewives” from time to time, and I can’t wait to see how much sillier the Beverly Hills group will be.

Currently I’m a fan of “Say Yes to the Dress,” the New York version. The show is taped in Kleigsfeld, “the” bridal shop patronized by many brides-to-be. The warm, friendly staff remind me of the years I worked in the “Big Apple.” Those who have not worked, and perhaps lived, in Manhattan haven’t experienced the unique charm of New Yorkers. They can be brusque, but they also have “big hearts,” especially for those whom they befriend. So watching the bridal staff do their utmost to marry a bride with the perfect wedding gown is gratifying, even to me, an observer.

HGTV is my reset channel. I’m always up for one of its home sale or designer shows, “Get It Sold,” “Property Virgins,” “Divine Design,” “My First House,” “Color Splash,” and, of course, “House Hunters,” and “House Hunters International.” It’s so much fun to see the “befores” and the “afters.” It’s equally entertaining to guess which of 3 properties house buyers will purchase. And several of the show hosts are like old friends, Sabrina Soto, Sandra Rinomato, Janice Olsen, and David Bromstad. I know their voices, and can picture their faces with my eyes closed.

I’m not such a fan of the reality competitions like “American Idol,” and  “Dancing With The Stars.” While I may drop in to watch “America’s Got Talent,” it’s not often enough to say I’m a devotee. When “So You Think You can Dance” first aired, I watched because my daughter was tapped to be one of its first contestants. The British judge, Nigel, and a couple of others associated with the show, sat in on a company ballet class where my daughter use to dance. She was singled out, along with others, to try out for the show. But my daughter declined because she was already under contract, and didn’t relish the thought of a television competition. In some of the early shows, she did recognize contestants with whom she had danced in various summer programs, like Danny Tidwell, and Neal (blonde guy, forgot his last name).

These days reality shows dominate TV viewing. I enjoy some, and loathe some. But not even those I favor gives me the same pleasurable feelings, as did the sitcoms of bygone days. If only “I Love Lucy” could have gone on forever.         

for the good old days, huge hugs…hugmamma.

michael grimm, humble beginnings

Wanted to share Michael Grimm’s humble beginnings, on America’s Got Talent. A star in the making, I hope he never changes once fame and celebrity move in. But it’s unlikely his grandparents, gentle southern folk, will allow their child to be other than they raised him, a sweet, young man with enormous talent.

crooner michael grimm, no gimmicks

I don’t usually watch America’s Got Talent, but the latest captured my attention “hook, line and sinker!” How judges Sharon Osbourne, Piers Morgan and Howie Mandel, maintain focus throughout endless, mind-numbing days of auditions, is beyond me. Earning fabulous salaries and world-wide attention, must convince them to stay put. Not even a million bucks could spare me falling asleep, eyes wide open, or resting my head wearily on crossed arms, loud snores competing with the performers on stage. So I applaud the judges for their stamina.

The 4 acts making it into the finals were each worthy of being selected. Doubts about such variety shows like American Idol, So You Think You Can Dance, Dancing with the Stars, Dance Your Ass Off, and America’s Got Talent, are appeased when I witness phenomenal talent that might otherwise go unnoticed. In this case, all 4 will reap the rewards of discovery, Defying Gravity for its uniqueness and inventiveness; Prince Poppycock, for his self-deprecating, over-the-top, ready-made Las Vegas act; and angelic Jackie Ivancko for a voice which belies her 10 years, and the wisdom of an old soul. Michael Grimm, the grand prize winner, walked away with $1 million, and a 1 year Las Vegas contract.

The final moments in any awards ceremony are usually pensive, especially for the contestants. The face-off between the America’s Got Talent finalists, were no less stomach churning. I kept telling my daughter that Grimm, given his humility, probably expected Ivancko to win. Between both, her voice was “other-worldly.” In each of the shows leading up to the finale, it was heartwarming to witness Grimm quietly speak with Ivancko, a sweet-faced child.  It seemed obvious that he understood and appreciated her huge talent. So when the show’s host, Nick Cannon, announced Grimm as the winner, his stunned look wasn’t a surprise, but it brought tears to my eyes.

Grimm entered the competition as a long shot, a young man from Memphis wanting to buy his grandparents a new home since their’s was destroyed in Katrina. Each time he made it through another round, he expressed amazement and gratitude for making it thus far. His demeanor was calm, quiet, shy, humble. Dressed simply in dark gray, casual jacket, shirt, jeans, very small hoop earrings, a trademark fedora pulled low, sporting dirty-blonde hair with blue eyes, Grimm was the epitomy of a heart throb. Looking like a cross between James Dean and Michael Bolton,  Grimm sang “When a Man Loves a Woman,” his “ace-in-the-hole.” Bolton’s number worked for him a long time ago, and it worked its magic once again, for Grimm. He was catapulted to stardom, and as they say, his life will never be the same.

Yesterday as I was typing away at my keyboard, I overheard a news reporter give a “thumbs down” to Michael Grimm’s win, in favor of Defying Gravity because of its innovative, gimmick-laden, Las Vegas appeal. This act will probably make it to “Sin City” on its own merits, that’s how good it was. Execution of the performers wasn’t always in sync, so it didn’t look professional. But they will surely perfect the act with more practice, a luxury not afforded them in the  time constraints of the show. The reporter complained that Grimm and Ivancko belonged on  American Idol, saying “They’re just singers!” But actually, that’s what appealed to me.

Viewers chose 2 singers for the final competition. I agree with the pundits’ speculation that a 10-year-old headlining a Las Vegas show, probably didn’t appeal to the masses. Show host Cannon, when interviewed afterwards, opined that Grimm had indeed won the theatre audience, who was all abuzz after his sensational performance. As judge Osbourne summarized earlier in the contest, he consistently “stepped it up,” each time he took the stage. What I found charming was that Grimm’s humility never took a back seat to his obvious talent, and growing showmanship. Minutes after being declared the winner, he bent down, scooped Ivancko into his arms, gave her a peck, and spoke what could only have been comforting words, while looking deeply into her bright blue eyes. My daughter and I agreed that Ivancko most likely developed a crush on the handsome, soulful crooner.

Michael Grimm, a singer with no special effects, belting out ballads in the style of other great artists before him, Sinatra, Elvis, Bouble. Sometimes simple is better than wild and glitzy, that’s what the voters felt, and that’s what I felt.

grimm and ivancko, buying their CDs for sure…hugmamma.