Wednesday, March 26, 2008

LAist Piece

Check out the piece I wrote about Team in Training for the blog LAist.

AI Review - 03.25.2008

1. David C - Ha! I called it this afternoon. Based on his tendency for picking "interesting" rock covers, I knew he would do the Chris Cornell version. To his credit, he performed it very well, and also to his credit, he's smart in finding versions that make him seem original and different. I call b.s. on the "brave" comment. There was nothing brave about it when another artist already did it exceedingly well.

However, I just see him as another Daughtry, another uninteresting rocker in the Nickelback vein. Maybe he'll prove me wrong when he writes his own stuff, but the last thing I want to hear is another Nickelback or Buckcherry or Daughtry or Creed or 3 Doors Down or Matchbox 20 and so on.

2. Michael - Welcome back! Of all the men, he's the one most willing to test the boundaries of his vocals. He repeatedly picks songs that are tough and challenging. He hit some bumps tonight, but it was 99% on.

3. Brooke - Hers is a thoughtful way of singing, somewhat brooding. The problem with last week was she was trying to be Miss Sunshine. The judges were right about the shift in the song, but it was nitpicking.

4. Syesha - I think she ran out of breath in the end, but she's someone who can be easily improved with slight touches in the recording process. It was confidently delivered.

5. Carly - She was no match for the song--and Bonnie Tyler. It was the first time it felt like she lost control of her voice. Shaky.

6. David A. - Awful song choice. He's proven that he can sing and he sang well again tonight, but this was an awful, awful song choice. Cheesy. He needs to demonstrate his pop chops.

7. Chikezie - Boring. There's a radio station in LA that plays songs like this in the evenings. Growing up we would listen to it so we'd fall asleep. I almost did listening to Chikezie. He may have found an unexpected panache for country music, so I suggest he go back to it.

8. Ramiele - Her voice is weak during quiet passages, but she gets by on yelling. Randy is right about pitch issues during the song, but I'll give her a pass for being sick. Had she been better, though, I doubt it would have been any better.

9. Jason - Completely forgettable. Even Adam Duritz knows to rock it hard once in a while. I think I've had my fill ever since "Hallelujah."

10. Kristy - She actually has a pretty voice and this was her best performance, but at the same time it made me cringe. She's a vacant vocalist. However, she might be very savvy. She might have just earned all of the Red States tonight with that song.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

AI Review - 03.18.2008

1. David Archuleta - Still not his best performance, but it's the winner in a weak night. Technically proficient and on point, with a startling maturity. He avoids the foolish tendency of others to embellish and overdo a song. He certainly does best on the power ballads and still has to prove his versatility.

2. David Cook - Might have been first if it wasn't for the ill-conceived vocoder and the increasingly off-putting smugness.

3. Michael Johns - He overreached. "A Day in the Life" is a tough song to sing and he sounded winded by the end. I appreciated his maturity during the criticism. He didn't speak and just took it all in. He also avoided milking the sentimental factor of his song choice and only revealed it when prodded by Ryan. A very mature guy in more ways than one.

4. Carly Smithson - She again demonstrates amazing control in her voice.

5. Syesha Mercado - An overcooked performance that tested the limits of her voice. The emotions were too much on the surface. It sounded pretty, though.

6. Brooke White
- A very disappointing, awkward performance this week after the exquisiteness of last week. The goofy dancing and the desperate attempt to punch up the song's energy level hurt more than helped. The nervous, passive-aggresive attempt at justifying her failings tonight was a little annoying.

7. Ramiele Malubay - She certainly gave it her best, and for the most part she sounded fine. Her forte is in big ballads and her song choice this week showed the failings of her vocals when forced to add energy and fun to her performance.

8. Jason Castro - Dull and amateurish. The goofiness may be endearing but this week it just made it seem like he was unprepared and was just screwing around tonight. He gets bonus points for pointing out the "nails-on-chalkboard" moment during "Hallelujah."

9. Amanda Overmyer - She was singing ahead of the song. She's pretty much a one-trick pony and her personality adds to her unlikability. She could have an interesting voice. As of now she's getting by on the benefits of smoking two packs a day.

10. Chikezie - The first part was dull but sounded fine, then all of a sudden he started singing a different song. He must have gotten carried away after the praise last week, and instead he winds up with a baffling performance.

11. Kristy Lee Cook - She ruined one of my favorite songs. She hit the notes but this was a vacant lifeless performance. What a strange arrangement too.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

03.15.2008 - 7 Miles

Distance: 7 miles approx.
Time: 1:04
Where: Rose Bowl (south side)

After a flurry of e-mails and texts and concern over the fact that the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure will be taking place at the Rose Bowl on Saturday morning, I wound up doing the run by myself. I had to be there any way for my swim lessons, but I could have slept in. Ultimately I'm glad I ran because Sunday turned out to be a very, very lazy day. I haven't left my apartment all day. Is there even a world outside my studio?

The run went well even if I wasn't feeling it for the first two miles. By the time I hit the horse stables I was warmed up. As I ran past the baseball fields I tried to keep an eye out for FJ since he was going to be there for his kids' Little League games. It turned out he was the one who spotted me. Trying to spot him amongst the other Dads was a tougher task than I expected.

I hadn't run anything more than four miles since the marathon, so I was a little rusty. I was a little tired by mile four but I still had enough energy to finish strongly but the legs felt heavy and tired.

Right after I went for my last swim lesson at the Aquatics Center. In three lessons I've made some progress. I'm more confident about my breathing and my form has improved. I even made it from one end of the pool to the other a few times. 25 meters in one try! Now if I can only do that 32 more times straight I might be able to do a sprint triathlon.

We also worked on treading water (egg beaters) but that still needs practice. I think once I've got that figured out, I'd feel more confident about going into the deep end. I'm not yet a swimmer, but I'm working on it.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

AI Review

1. Brooke White - She doesn't have the most conventional voice for a female Idol, but she knows how to wield it. She wasn't just covering a Beatles song, she was interpreting it.

2. Chikezie - He surprised me. He has been dull so far, but this was a breakout, joyous performance.

3. Carly - She's a pro and it shows. Just a very solid singer in full control of her voice.

4. David Cook - He's growing confident with a second straight strong performance, but I have a feeling he'll cross over into cockiness in no time. Leave the microphone stand alone. It can stand by itself.

5. Michael Johns - The judges expect a lot from him. He was shaky in the beginning, but he had a strong moment in the middle.

6. Amanda Overmyer - Surprisingly good. Her voice verges on screechy, but it was under control tonight.

7. Syesha - Weak beginning, but it settled in the middle and through the end. Not memorable, though.

8. Jason Castro - He's dull. Pretty enough voice but being given too much credit. He's essentially the Jack Johnson of this group. Good enough, but tiresome in its mellowness.

9. Ramiele - Dull tonight. Perhaps listening to too much Filipino pop music as it shows in her [i]maarte[/i] vocals.

10. David Archuleta - I love the kid, but he had a rough night tonight. Nerves got the best of him and stumbled. Apart from that he was actually decent, but this wasn't his best moment.

11. Kristy Lee Cook - I thought her vocals were OK. I blame the band and the arrangement. It went extreme. Even if the band had been better, there's no disguising her forgettable voice.

12. David Hernandez - Not playing up to his strengths. I was tired of it within the first few seconds.

I rarely call in to vote, but tonight, I felt so bad for David A. that I actually called in a couple--alright, a few--times tonight for him, and I'm sure quite a few others did too. Anyone who doesn't like him must hate puppies.

New York Times Wedding Announcement of the Week

It's not every bride who can claim their father-in-law is the Greatest Actor of His Generation.

Claudine DeMatos and Raphael De Niro

It always bothers me when the NY Times tries to explain too much who the famous parent is. All they really have to say is "actor" "Robert De Niro" and "Raging Bull" and everyone ought to know who he is. Instead they lay on a bunch of credits. It's De Niro!

Girls Are Having Too Much Fun

Now my suspicions about teenage girls have been validated.

"One in Four Teenage Girls Have STD's, Study Finds"

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Not Drowning But Swimming...

Little swimmer, originally uploaded by capitan-patata.

Some time next year, I think, I will be competing in my first triathlon. That's the goal at least. To work towards it I've started taking swimming lessons at the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center. Yesterday was my second class and it went better than my first.

I kind of know how to swim, but not very efficiently. My legs keep dragging and I'm winded after only ten meters. Needless to say I'm not taking to swimming as quickly and as well as I did to running. Swimming requires more coordination than I'm capable of, the leg movements, the strokes, the breathing, it's all too much for me at times. With some regular practice, though, I can see myself becoming a decent swimmer by the end of the year. To that end Jane and I are thinking of getting a membership and practicing together. I'd feel self-conscious going to a pool by myself and looking like an amateur, but with two of us amateurs at least we'll have each other. Who knows? Maybe I'll turn out a better swimmer than I could ever expect.

Not likely.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Race Report: LA Marathon - 03.02.2008

Mile 26!, originally uploaded by savemejebus.

Time: 4:47:26
Pace: 10:57/mile

It wasn't my fastest marathon--just seven minutes faster than my very first LA Marathon--but it was certainly the easiest, the most relaxed and the most fun. It was the first time I ran a marathon all the way through with others, and it made a huge difference. It took us almost five hours but the miles flew by. The next thing I knew we were in downtown heading out for the final six miles.

The weather turned out to be not much of a factor. It was sunny and warm, but it didn't bother me too much. Still, I would have preferred running the race during Saturday's weather.

FJ, Andy and I ran a very even race. We stuck to about an 11 minute pace and got through the run with no major hassles. Andy held up extremely well in his first marathon even though his longest run was an 18 miler. Truth be told, though, he has been training for his first marathon for the last three years. The anticipation was so great that an entourage followed Andy to support him. By mile 19 our entourage grew with the addition of Jimmy and Kate who ran the rest of the way with us and Katie joined as we were going over the 6th Street bridge. Even without the big posse, though, Andy said he realized with an hour left in the race that he was going to finish. And we did!

When I got home I ordered Thai food and tried to sleep. The sleep wouldn't come though and I wound up staying up until 2 AM. The food, though, was tasty. For dinner I cooked a steak, but the Thai food was what hit the spot. When I woke up this morning, I was barely sore. It felt like I had just gone on a 16 mile training run. Perhaps the days of incapacitating soreness after a marathon are gone. Recovery is faster as the soreness subsides within a day. During the race, though, my legs felt quite heavy while my breathing remained calm and steady.

The count now stands: 4 straight L.A. Marathons, 6th overall, and many more to come.