Wednesday, May 28, 2003

Ah, and I'm back again!

Not to brag or anything, but my ACT scores tell me that I'm absolutely fantastic.

On another note (pardon the pun), I saw a wonderful band perform at Williams Coffee Pub on Sunday night. They were wonderful! They are called South River. And eventually, I'm going to scan in the picture from the poster I stole and put it up on my site so that all can see these delightful young men. There are two of them, and they're quite good. Normally these types stink, but these particular ones are better than your average coffee pub performers. Really!

So I've been spending all of my spare time lately printing Josh Groban paraphernalia for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra concert this Saturday night. Maybe I'll be rewarded in heaven.

And a new conundrum has arisen: Should I drive 11 hours for a guaranteed opportunity to see Josh in Quebec City, or should I stay home and go to Canada's Wonderland for 30 dollars? I must decide tonight. Isn't that wretched?

Monday, May 26, 2003

Alright. I'm sorry for neglecting you for so long.

News flash: An Indiana phone company has claimed that it mishandled 400,000 phone votes which would have given the title of American Idol to Clay, and not to Ruben.

Now, I think we all know who deserves to be the American Idol here.

And I have a new hairstyle! Remember how I debated it (briefly, in a sentence)? Well, now I have it.

I would just like to grumble about something briefly. Today, in English literature class, Mrs. Koehn asked us all to write down the question What is the point of living? in reference to the book we are reading (Too Late the Phalarope by Alan Paton), and to answer it. And someone promptly asked, "Can it be in point form?" I think that's demonstrative of the world today. No one wants to put any effort into anything, especially teenagers. When someone asked President Lincoln to write an address to give at Gettysburg, do you think he wondered, "Can it be in point form?" My doubt should be evident.

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

This person has certainly done their Claymate research!

Digging Clay

Most pop stars have fan clubs. Other acts have the more cultlike communities, like Jimmy Buffett's "Parrotheads." Clay Aiken -- without a national tour, without a hit record -- has a community.

It's a place where Americans call themselves "AmeriAikens," Canadian followers are Claynadians and women type on and on and on about OCB (Our Collective Boyfriend). Some call themselves Claymates. Others ride The Clay Train.

In fact, just call it Clay World, and in that mystical cyber planet Raleigh's "American Idol" finalist, win or lose, is already getting the idol treatment.

On dozen of Web sites, message boards and chat rooms, fans -- mostly women -- break down everything from Clay's voice to his clothes to the mouthed "thank yous" he gives the judges.

They chat about his eyes. They chat about his pants. They tape each episode and watch it over and over again, sometimes in slow motion. Then they chat about it.

"This is actually the first time this has ever happened to me. I never thought I'd be emotionally invested in someone I'll never meet," said Claynadian Erin McSwiney, a 23-year-old student at the University of Calgary. She's a citizen of the People's Republic of Clay (PRoC).

Clay World is a place where a 54-year-old bookkeeper from California can post messages under the name "AClayzingrace" and receive positive feedback from other women just like her.

"I feel like I'm a part of something that's really big," said Peggy Taylor of Santa Monica, Calif. "He seems to have bridged the gap between the ages." Taylor posts messages at www.bolt.com, which hosts the official forums for FOX.

The PRoC is one of the more inventive Clay sites. The Clay Train on which these fans ride has metaphorical cars that describe their emotional state. There's a Mrs. Robinson car, for older women with romantic feelings for Clay, and a Group Hug car, where fans go when someone says something bad about him. Then there's the Debacle car, where the sentiment is a little more R-rated.

They've even created an Aiken vocabulary. When describing a particularly fetching photograph of Clay, citizens type *swoon* into their messages. *Thud* represents the sound a fainting Clay fan makes when she hits the floor. Obsessing about every little thing Clay does is called "Zaprudering," after the Abraham Zapruder film of the John F. Kennedy assassination.

Anne McKemey, a 28-year-old mother of two from Farmville, N.C., is a PRoC citizen who has diagnosed herself with OCD (Obsessive Claypulsive Disorder). This is not her typical behavior. "I feel really, really, really silly, but at the same time, I'm not ashamed. He's somebody worth being proud of," she said. "My poor husband, he's been so patient."

Lisa Courtney, 31, is a happily married technical writer in New Jersey. She enjoys being part of a Clay-based community. "It's almost like finding that you can ride a bicycle after all these years. It's like being 12 again."

What does it feel like to live in her little corner of Clay World?

When Courtney came across some newly posted pictures of Clay recently on the Internet, she couldn't help herself. She oozed. Right in her office.

"I slid off my chair onto the floor."

*Thud.*

Staff writer Matt Ehlers can be reached at 829-4889 or mehlers@newsobserver.com.


See? Some people appreciate excellent fans. :)

Monday, May 05, 2003

And here we have a delightful article that mentions the Claynadian Claymates, to which I belong. In fact, I'm Claymate #446! :) Here it is:

I am not a Clay Aiken fan. I don't even watch American Idol. But as
the editor of Elites TV I have not been able to escape the all-
encompassing passion of the fans of this unlikely new star.

The e-mail that finally made me decide to write a piece on Clay fans
was addressed to one of our writers, Ray Courtright Jr. Short and
sweet, it said "Thank you, Ray Courtright, for a great article! It
is refreshing to read unbiased reporting when it comes to American
Idol. Well-written, insightful, and right on the nose!" OK I do read
the articles I publish, and Ray is definitely not an unbiased writer
and is definitely a Clay fan (read his articles and see what you
think: "Musical Idol Beyond The American Idol Competition?", "Clay
Aiken: Pulling Ahead In The American Idol Marathon
Competition?", "Clay Aiken & Ruben Studdard - Entertainer vs. Studio
Singer?"). Coupling this with the many letters I and my other
writers receive when they mention anything negative about Clay (and
KC does really enjoy your letters, Clay fans), I thought I should
investigate this a little more.

First check out the websites. There is www.claytonaiken.com with a
full screen picture popping up immediately. Then there is
www.clayaiken.freewebpages.org/ with, suprisingly, another very
large picture of Clay. Looking a little further we find
www.promoinnovations.com/clay/ with guess what - nope - just a small
picture of Clay. And last but not least, well actually it does have
the smallest picture, clay.neurox.net/. Our sources says there are
at least 6 websites devoted to Clay, though I think they may have
missed a few. Josh Gracin supposedly has one, and none of the other
contestants even rate a website.

Of course there are message boards galore out there discussing Clay
and the rest of the American Idolers. At EZBoard alone (a very
popular free forum site) there are 7 Clay Aiken boards that have
been created, the most active being That's The Clay.

And finally there are the message groups - like the Yahoo group
Claymates. I tracked them down, signed up for the group, and found
to my suprise not the usual welcome message, but several useful
files for any Clay fan.

Yes, their name is the Claymates. To make sure that I understood the
jargon that has built up around Mr. Aiken, one of the files sent by
the Claymates was a glossary of terms that every Clay fan must have.
Meaning that not only has Clay gained fanatical fans, but has also
had a language created around him. All he needs now is a small piece
of land and a jeweled crown and he can run his own country -
perhaps "The Republic of Clay"? No wait - that is another of his fan
groups.

So now we have Claynadians - Clay's Canadian fan base, and
Ameraikens, who all are clayving for more Clay. Or more importantly,
they are all voting for Clay each week with an undying loyalty to
their titular head of the ever expanding Clay Nation.

E!
Editor
www.elitestv.com

As for Andy, the tragedy is averted. But I can't say how... I desperately want a new hairstyle. I wonder what it should be...

Now, here's an excellent post about Clay:

This rambles, forgive me.

How do I love thee? Let me count.... no wait, WHY do I love thee?

So, I've spent the better part of an evening reading online forums
regarding American Idol, more specifically, Clay Aiken. Why do I do
this? Why Clay? Why not Ruben, Kim or Simon, for that matter? I’ve
been pondering this question on and off for the last few days. What
is it? Why am I so drawn to this fellow? I think I may have finally
figured it out.

I was first introduced to Clayton exactly the same way most AI
viewers were; as a skinny, rather dorky looking guy with big ears (to
be honest, I didn’t even notice them) and an even BIGGER voice. Oh
my, what a voice. I was intrigued. So he wasn’t a boy band clone, so
what. He was cute, refreshing and real. He didn’t stand a chance.

To my surprise, he made it past the judges and on to the final
rounds. Much to my (and many others) chagrin, he didn’t make it into
the top 12 on his first try even though he should have. The deck was
stacked against him. And you know what? It was done on purpose. I
have a sneaking suspicion that the producers saw something in Clay
even before America and the rest of the world had a chance to see it.
They saw a diamond in the rough. A talented young man with oodles of
heart, integrity, intelligence and charm. Simon, Nigel, et al.
probably went to sleep every night with $$ dancing in their heads.
So, we were set up. Clay became the underdog. How happy were we for
Clayton when he was finally chosen as the viewer’s Wildcard choice?
Estatic. Yes, we said, there is some justice in this world!

From then on, it’s been nothing short of sheer joy watching this
talented young man race at the speed of light toward his dream. There
is no stopping him. No, there isn’t. I would kindly suggest that his
fellow contestants step away now to avoid injury or at the very
least, remain alert.

I read messages posted all over the internet by people just like me,
intelligent people. People who can, and do, think for themselves. I
read their thoughts and feel justified in my fascination. I take
comfort in knowing I am not alone. The “Clay Love” knows no bounds.
Fans range in age from 4 to 104. And the fandom is obsessive, make no
mistake about that. This kid has developed such devotion in just a
few short months it boggles the mind. Making him the next American
Idol has become a mission. And so it should be.

Still though, why am I so affected by him? Why am I so invested in
this show only because of him? Why do I feel so strongly that he
deserves to win… no, will win…. MUST win. I’ve narrowed it down to a
few basic reasons:

1) That voice. He is by far the most talented contestant in the
competition this year, hands down. No contest (pardon the pun).

2) Commitment. Of all the contestants, nobody has been more committed
to this competition than Aiken. He takes the judges criticism and
suggestions seriously and strives to improve his performance each
week. He challenges himself and is willing to step outside his
comfort zone to grow even further as a performer. I really haven’t
seen this from the other contestants.

3) Personality. This in my opinion, should be considered essential
when choosing any kind of idol or icon (as silly as that sounds).
What kind of person should America vote for? Someone intelligent,
with integrity, heart and humour? Then vote for Clay. He’s kind,
funny, humble and witty. He wants to help children. How could anyone
not like this guy? How could I not like this guy? (Can’t you just
hear TPTB rubbing their collective hands together? Mmmmm money!)

4) Appearance. This is after all about the music business. An
attractive appearance will help sell albums, like it or not. Clay is
no different than any other performer out there in this regard.
Either you’re gonna like something about him, or you’re not.
Personally, I think he’s a very attractive young man who will only
grow more so as he matures. That suit on Neil Sedaka nite? Dang! That
was all kinds of sexy!

5) Timing. We need a “Clay” today in the music industry. I am
soooooooo tired of listening to “pop” stars with very little talent
and even less intelligence when I turn on my radio or TV that I have
stopped listening to them and discover my music in other ways. Clay
isn’t cookie cutter “boyband” material? Oh thank you Lord! Let me put
it this way. I am absolutely over the moon because I don’t have to
worry about ever hearing Clay say he’s “gonna have ya nekkid by the
end of this song.” Finally an alternative to this crap! There is
Clay. Life is good.

I really believe the producers saw this potential in Clay from the
very beginning. I’ll also go as far as to say, they’ve had proof in
the voting. I think that Aiken has been substantially ahead in the
voting from the very beginning of the live audience performances
(Motown Night) and will continue to dominate in just the same way. I
have no proof, I just really feel it in my bones.

People LOVE this guy. LOVE him. Not like him. Not “think he’s very
talented”. They LOVE him. Of course, some don’t. And they REALLY
don’t. That’s actually a good thing. He inspires passion in people.
Do any of the other contestants? No.

Clay has so much potential to grow and change with the industry and
his fans, that he will be successful for a long time to come. I’m not
sure I see that for anyone else. He will only get better with time.

But I have to say, for me, the biggest reason I feel Clay is so
special and deserves to win this competition, why he has generated so
much love and support, why his fans are so devoted and why he
inspires people to such a great degree is simple. When he walks on
stage I am watching someone who is where they are supposed to be.
This rather funny, sometimes awkward, even shy young man becomes a
powerhouse of energy, maturity and sex appeal right before our eyes.
This is what he was meant to do. There is joy in every note he sings
- he loves it. We see it and we feel it. It’s infectious. It affects
us in ways we can’t even comprehend or explain. How rare is that?
Clay is one of those people, those few who come along in each
generation, to empower and inspire us. And he will.

Some would say that such a voice is a gift from God. If that’s true,
perhaps Clay is God’s gift to us. He truly was blessed and through
him, so are we.

Ally

Thursday, May 01, 2003

Horrible news!! The most dreadful tragedy... Andy, my darling English hairstylist, is touring with a rock group in the U.K. for 6 months and therefore can't cut my hair or do it for graduation! How dare he? Oh, its awful. :*(

On a slightly more positive note, Ryan Seacrest was apparently named one of the '50 Most Beautiful People' in this year's People listing. Awww...my Ryan...with the sexy hair. :D

And I finally watched The Hand That Rocks the Cradle tonight. It was marvellous. The woman is purely evil, and she's a genius at it. A modern Iago if ever I saw one.