Pop Culture Junkette

Addicted to pop culture.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Hockey and American Idol

As a child, I was a very big hockey fan. I followed the sport somewhat obsessively until college, when my interest waned a bit, just because I wasn't around a television very often. Then I went to law school in Chicago, and Bill Wirtz pretty much killed my interest in the sport by refusing to televise Blackhawks home games. Why? Because he (as owner) was afraid the televised games would interfere with attendance. Somehow he failed to recognize that when fans are unable to watch half of their team's games on television, they become less interested in the team and therefore less likely to attend games in person.

Anyway, I digress. When I moved to DC from Chicago I started buying about eight games a year from a season ticket holder I worked with--his seats were in the second row of the then-MCI Center (now Verizon Center), and although it was nice to be close to the action, the Caps weren't much good, so there wasn't much excitement to follow.

Then Alexander Ovechkin joined the team three seasons ago and was immediately the best player on the ice. This year was his best, as he will surely win the Art Ross trophy as the league's MVP, and he led the Caps to a highly-improbable playoff run. More important, for me, Ovechkin reminded me why I loved hockey so much when I was younger, and I became interested in the sport. I'll always be an Islanders fan (they are the team I grew up cheering for), but I really got attached to the Capitals this season and when they made the playoffs Gobo and I decided to go to every home game.

There is something really wonderful about being part of a crowd that is all cheering for the same team. When I go to a baseball game, I am used to cheering for the Mets when they are playing the Nats (as I will be doing tomorrow at Nationals Park), or, when the Mets aren't playing, deciding who I will cheer for based on which team's win will help the Mets the most in the standings. At the Caps game I was wearing red just like everyone else, and all of the fans wanted nothing more than for the Caps to win. It was surprising, considering how few fans were at the games in October and November, but the large majority of the fans I saw during the playoffs seemed like true Caps fans.

I attended each home playoff game. Including tonight's. I have had many devastating moments as a sports fan--the Islanders failing in their Drive for Five (my first sports memory--a mere whisper of things to come), the Mets losing the NLCS to the Braves in 1999, the Mets losing the World Series in 2000, the Jets every year. But I wasn't at the game for any of those moments. Today I experienced my worst in-person sporting moment when the Caps lost game 7 in overtime. I still can't believe it happened. When the Caps made it into OT I was just sure that they would score. We were sitting in front of the net they were shooting on in OT and I was convinced I would see the little black puck in there soon. I kept thinking about how loud the stadium would get when that goal was scored.

Of course, the goal didn't happen. The Flyers scored their goal instead, the players shook hands, a bunch of fans left, a bunch stayed to clap for the Caps one last time this season, Ovechkin raised his arms in thanks to the crowd, and the entire season was over. It was a horrible let down and an incredibly disappointing game (and I don't care what the NHL says--I will not forgive the lack of a goalie interference call on Thoresen during the play that took the Caps' goalie, Christobel Huet, out of the net and allowing the Flyers to score).

Gobo and I walked back to the car in a silence that was interrupted only by one of us saying "I can't believe that just happened," or "that sucked." When we got home I suggested that American Idol might be able to take our minds off of the game, particularly because it was Andrew Lloyd Webber night. And so I watched:

Syesha Mercado. I figured out what I don't love about Syesha: I don't think her voice's tone is particularly interesting, and she always seems to be acting when she sings. So I guess it isn't surprising that she should completely sing on Broadway.

Jason Castro. "Memories." I really liked this performance and was surprised that the judges hated it so much. I think "Memories" is a really pretty song and I liked that he didn't oversing it or overact it.

Brooke White. "You Must Love Me." Wow. I have never before seen someone actually stop singing, apologize, and start all over again at this level of the competition. I think this was a really smart song choice for Brooke--Madonna originally sang it, so her voice is going to sound better by comparison. Like the judges, I had trouble with this. I thought she sounded good at times, strained at times. And it's hard to forget about the beginning (I was stressed she would mess up again through most of the song). I thought it was uncommonly nice of Simon to tell her she made the right move in stopping the song, but I definitely understood Paula's (harsher!) point.

David Archuleta. "Think of Me." Oh my god. This is not happening. Please tell me this easy listening version of "Think of Me" is not really happening. So horrible it is hysterical. Thanks David for helping me to forget the travesty of a hockey game I just got home from. (Watching AI didn't manage to completely take my mind off of it after all.) Of course I'm sure the judges are going to be all "when you can sing, you can sing." And...sure enough. Paula and Randy being all over him about being wonderful. Simon was a little more critical, but he called it forgettable. That performance was completely unforgettable, because it was so awful.

Carly Smithson. "Jesus Christ, Superstar." The female winner of Grease: You're the One that I Want," sang this during the competition and it became a defining moment for her. I thought Carly sounded good as well. Simon was right that she was a little shouty in the middle (and shouty has become characteristic of many of Carly's performances), but I enjoyed it and thought she did a nice job.

David Cook. "Music of the Night." This was really interesting. He didn't rock it up at all--did it completely straight. I really liked it up until the last two notes. I thought it showcased his voice in a way we normally don't hear it, but the last two notes--the only time he did the rock thing--just didn't fit with the rest of the performance.

Best of the night: David Cook.
Worst of the Night: David Archuleta.
Going home: I really, really hate to think it, but I'm afraid Brooke will go home. It will really suck, because she and David Cook (and sometimes Jason Castro) are the only ones I look forward to hearing from week-to-week. But she has been near the bottom a lot lately, she didn't sound 100% wonderful, and I think the fans will go for some of the more overdone performances over hers. It's unfortunate, but would fit in with this already-crappy week.

After we finished watching Idol I started watching a different show while Gobo got ready for bed. At one point he walked back into the living room and said "how can you watch Head of Household?! I just don't understand!" He meant Big Brother. I had no answer for him. (And this post is long enough, otherwise I would go into how stupid Ryan was for not putting Adam on the block with Sheila and getting Sharon to vote the way he wanted her to--she would have because she needed his alliance and didn't want to go home, and he would have ended up in a situation where both of the other two people remaining would have taken him to the finals. But as I said, the post is too long. And I don't think even one reader knows what I am talking about.)

Let's hope Santana pitches a gem tomorrow and David Archuleta goes home so I have something to be a little more excited about.

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