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Just Off-Camera

"They respect you if you write. The dumber the world gets, the more the words matter." -Dan Jenkins


Thursday, February 19, 2004

A Bangin' Performance

Matt Rogers, the former Washington offensive lineman who's a contestant on American Idol, took his shot at entering the final 12 contestants a couple of nights ago, and he sang pretty well, but believe me, his performance was not the sports-related American Idol show you wanted to see this week.

Remember William Hung? You might not know him by name, but if you watch TV, you've probably seen him, because his audition for Idol was so atrocious that FOX used it for their commercials - over and over and over. He's the skinny, poorly dressed dude from Hong Kong who sang Ricky Martin's "She Bangs" in an enthusiastic monotone while dancing. Check that, dancing's not the proper word here. What he did while singing could best be described as a cross between Tae-bo and a convulsion.

His sorry audition has ironically turned him into a celebrity of sorts, and a tribute website, www.williamhung.net, has even been set up. He's a student at the University of California, and last night, his school gave him his first chance to perform in front of a live audience.

Cal's men's volleyball team, which is a club program, not varsity, invited Hung to perform "She Bangs" at halftime of their game last night. This apparently was caught on video, and unfortunately I was driving from Bristol to Philly during the performance, so if you happen to catch it on TV somewhere, please, please tape it for me. There is no doubt in my mind that his performance was laugh-out-loud, side-splittingly funny.

No word on whether or not Cal won the game. But you know what, Hung's the real winner here anyway. I'm not sure whether he realizes that his singing and dancing is laughably bad, but his dream is to be a singer, and he's at least getting to fulfill that dream. Besides, if Lil' Jon can score huge hits by screaming about sweat dropping down his balls with no real tune, there's no reason Willie shouldn't get his shot.

Back to Matt Rogers. Two nights ago he led off a group of eight singers, most of who turned in pretty bad performances (although not nearly as bad as Wille Hung). The Rose Bowler performed the song that 2pac sampled for "Do For Love" (like I've said before, my musical knowledge isn't too sharp).The judges didn't give him much love when he went, although given the weakness of the rest of the group, he had a shot at landing in the top two, which would send him to the final group of 12.

Well, he finished second, getting over a quarter of the votes. I really think he didn't expect it, because he looked really surprised, not to mention elated. I have to admit I was rooting for him for my own selfish reasons.

The final group of 12 won't be whittled down for another three weeks, at least. That means there's plenty of time for ESPN to do a little research, make a few calls, get a few interviews, and run a feature on big Matt. And guess who's going to look good by pitching this idea? Yours truly.

Rock on.

***

Yankees fans really irritate me. They feel as though a yearly World Series title is their birthright, and they're extremely arrogant about their team's success over the past decade. I wish they'd be a little more appreciative of how lucky they are to root for a team that wins each year instead of expecting it. Makes me hope that someday soon the Yanks will return to their futility of the late '80s. But I don't see that happening anytime soon, unfortunately.

However, Red Sox Nation is gaining on the Evil Empire in terms of annoyance with lightning speed. First you had Ben Affleck on the verge of tears at the Daytona 500 as he whined about A-Rod in pinstripes. Then, today, Sox owner John Henry cried foul, saying baseball needs a salary cap because the Yankees have an inherent advantage based upon their deep pockets.

Yes, baseball does need a salary cap. But John Henry is the second to last man who should be clamoring for one. The Red Sox have the second-highest payroll in baseball. His team is the second-biggest culprit in doing what the Yankees do (and admittedly, do well). It's teams like Minnesota, Pittsburgh, and the like who should be upset. Yes, the Marlins won the Series with a fraction of the Yanks' payroll. So think what they'd be like if they'd been able to spend like George Steinbrenner. Maybe it would have been a sweep.

Another thing about Sox fans' whining. Enough with the "curse." I haven't seen my team win in my lifetime either. The Phillies have had seven winning seasons in my lifetime. The Sox have had more than that in just the last nine years. A curse is seeing your team contend once every decade. Shut up and enjoy the postseason. Steinbrenner, as much as I hate to say it, is right. John Henry, Ben Affleck, and Red Sox Nation are just calling sour grapes.

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