After the results on American Idol last night America will get the showdown that many people have been predicting since early in the season.
It was a very padded results show that included several video segments and live performance. One of the performance was a high-octane number by season 4 winner Fantasia, sporting cherry-red dyed hair and matching lipstick, and leaving judge Simon Cowell stunned, no doubt by the frantic dancing of Fantasia and her backup singers.
Host Ryan Seacrest brought all three finalists to center stage before declaring David Archuleta safe. Does this make him the front-runner, since he was called first? We'll find out next week.
As Syesha Mercado and David Cook waited for the results, I contemplated just what sort of viewer outrage would result if David were sent home. Fortunately, that didn't happen, and Syesha sang her swan song instead. Instead of celebrating, David Cook looked almost sad, knowing that it was the end of the dream for Syesha. He gave her a hug and a reassuring hand on the back, though she didn't seem to need it. The consummate performer, she rebounded with grace and smiled through her final song.
Syesha has improved over the past several weeks, primarily in terms of performance ability. By that, I mean loosening up on stage and using more movement. Consistently, she has selected songs by some of the best-known singers, and while her renditions have been good, they failed to live up to the originals.
Compare her performance of the Alicia Keys song, "If I Ain't Got You" from this week's show to Alicia Keys singing it. Pay special attention to her sustained notes, which often fall flat. Also, she has a tendency to throw in runs just to embellish a song.
In this live performance by Alicia Keys, you can hear the difference. She makes much more sparing use of embellishments, and when she uses them, it's to augment the emotion of the song. She uses her voice like an instrument, and she knows how to control it: when to push and when to pull back.
Syesha would be wish to parlay her American Idol experience, as several other finalists have done, into a run on Broadway. That way she can focus on what she seems to truly love: putting on a show.
Last Sunday, I conducted a phone interview with Jeremiah Zagar, the filmmaker who received the Best First Film award at this year's Philadelphia Film Festival for his deeply personal documentary, In a Dream, which examines the art and life of his father, Philadelphia muralist Isaiah Zagar.
Jeremiah was just back from a bike ride, and as we spoke, he walked through his neighborhood to grab himself a bite of lunch. He was very animated throughout our discussion, and he really opened up about his thoughts on film-making and about the film.
While In a Dream started as a film to chronicle his father's artist process, it became much more. He happened to capture his family during a crisis moment. I asked him when he finally knew it was becoming a different kind of film, and we spoke about the role his film-making had. He felt that simply by having the camera around, it gave his father the opportunity to open up about things he'd been hiding.
Jeremiah stressed that honesty is important to the health of any relationship, and he said his family never could have gotten beyond their troubles if they hadn't faced up to them.
Our conversation made me think about how often that's been true in my own life. My family is close, and we often confide in each other, but often the conversation begins, "I'll tell you something, but don't tell [another family member]." That sort of secret-keeping usually ends in disaster.
The year when The Luser was staying with me, I knew my family would disapprove of him. To keep my secret, I severely limited my contact with them to an unprecedented level. My sister would not be deterred so easily, and she eventually sussed out the truth. She read me a much-deserved riot act, telling me exactly what I'd feared hearing: that The Luser wasn't worth my time and I shouldn't let him take advantage of me.
After I finally kicked him out, I thanked her for being honest with me and promised I'd never hide another boyfriend from her. More importantly, I never again dated anyone I felt I couldn't introduce to my family.
Secrets eat away at you and erode communication and trust in any relationship. Perhaps because I now realize this, I find it next to impossible to keep anything from The Gryphon. There are times when I don't want him to worry about me, or when I'm embarrassed about something that I did. My first instinct is to protect myself and keep that information from him.
Maybe, for example, the scale jumps up a couple pounds on a week when I thought I was doing good. I'm not proud of such information and keep it to myself. But I always end up telling him, because he's such a great supporter. He helps me put things in perspective.
The same thing goes for when we encounter differences. Sometimes it seems easier not to say anything, but I've found that whenever I talk to him, we work things out and make our relationship even better than before.
Now that he's helping me out with the Wild Violet redesign, I wanted to share with him my to-do list for the magazine. Instead of sending him just that portion, I sent him my entire master to-do list. I hadn't been deliberately hiding it from him, but I'd never really shared it, either.
I was a little afraid he'd find it overwhelming or express concern about how many items were on it, but he just read through it and nodded, without one critical word. Now I know that he knows what I'm hoping to accomplish. I'm sure he'll help me as much as he can.
The biggest reason most people don't tell the truth is because they're afraid of what will happen when they do. Keeping a secret, not only does it eat away at you, but you also don't get help from those who are closest to you. It can stall the possibility of healing and growth.
I look forward to running this interview with Jeremiah Zagar, in the summer edition. The things we talked about should give many people something to ponder.
Be true to yourself and others.