Thursday, February 21, 2008

Total eclipse

Did you all watch the lunar eclipse last night? We had one of those perfect cold, clear nights where you can see twice as many stars as usual--like a million party lights spinning across the sky. I walked outside at 10:01 pm (right after Idol, of course; see below), and the moon was already starting to turn doomsday red-orange at its left edge.

I found it so compelling that I bundled myself up and stuck a lawn chair in the middle of the yard. I turned off the back porch and kitchen light, and I got half a glass of red wine in a takeout cup. I sat and watched, with breaks to warm myself up, until the moon disappeared into a tiny silver sliver.

The s.o. agreed that the eclipse was cool, but he wasn't willing to sit outside for as long. He visited a couple of times and watched the sky with me. It was eerie and beautiful. Unfortunately, he was indoors during one of the strangest moments of the evening.

For a little while around 10:30 or 10:45, the entire world went quiet and the only sound I could hear was the blood whooshing inside my head. Then a couple of dogs a few houses down started baying and barking. Suddenly I heard an alien sound from the woods: like the whinny of a horse, only flutelike, with the top of the octave held long and clear. It repeated eight or ten times, and then it was gone.

Afterward I ransacked the internet until I was pretty sure I had found the sound. I think it was this.

And now for something completely different: my opinions of the American Idol top 24's performances.

Favorite guy: Jason Castro. He's one of the guys who has had practically no camera time prior to this week, so he was a complete unknown. We were also biased against him from the start because he has silly white-guy dreadlocks. But I loved every second of his "Daydream." He was vulnerable and tender and showed fantastic control. He seems as sweet as can be, too, and appealingly geeky. I hope everyone else is as taken with him as I am!

Runner-up: David Archuleta, who I think is well on his way to becoming America's sweetheart. The kid is incredible.

Overrated: Michael Johns. It pains me to say it, because he is capable of great things, and he seems like a really nice guy. But I really didn't need to hear an imitation of Eddie Vedder singing "Light My Fire." I'm baffled that the judges seemed to like it. I can only assume it sounded better in the room than it did on TV.

Favorite girl: Brooke White. By a mile, actually. She doesn't have the most amazing pipes of the group (that honor would probably go to Carly Smithson). But she has IT. She has Carly Simon-ness, Carole King-ness. Her folksy, mandolin-tinged version of "So Happy Together" is the one performance of the night that has stuck with me note for note. I'm a little tired of the "good girl" sideshow that Simon's comments seem to have ignited, but if it makes viewers notice her, I'm all for it.

Runner-up: Asia'h Epperson. Do you know how hard it is to sing Janis Joplin and have it sound fresh? And, might I add, more soulful and funky than the original?

Overrated: Syesha Mercado, who has one of the best voices of the group, yet managed to squander it completely on a song that didn't show off any of her capabilities. I am beginning to think I may despise the song "Tobacco Road." No, wait--I know I do.