Talent Show

In fourth grade, my school put on a talent show. Auditions were held within each of the classes and the students voted on the top two acts. These acts would then get to participate in the school-wide performance where ¬†audience was made up of the entire 3rd and 4th grade, along with parents and family members. While my true talents ultimately developed in the swimming pool and on the field hockey field, in 4th grade, I still considered myself a pretty well-rounded child. I was a member of the chorus, which entailed participating in the grade-wide musical and was even given a solo my 4th grade year (although, my family still mocks my fast-paced singing of “wild geese that fly with the moon on my wings, these are a few of my favorite things; the main point to focus on here is that I was awarded a solo!). And in my fourth grade class’ performance of A Christmas Carol (wow, we were NOT a PC school at all!) I played the part of the Ghost of Christmas Past, a pretty solid role if I do remember correctly. Anyway, when I decided to audition for the fourth grade talent show, it wasn’t that surprising. However, it was a bit surprising what I decided to showcase as my talent.

At first, I told my mom that I wanted to try out two different acts. Now this was right around the time that my grandparents bought Abby and me a karaoke machine for Christmas. The system had two tape players so that you could play one tape to sing along to, and record your amazing vocals on another blank cassette. Needless to say, I went through a lot of blank tapes during this phase. The machine also came with a sample karaoke tape; it had one side with songs that contained the lyrics and another side that contained the same songs, only minus the lyrics. You could practice the words on the first side, and once you mastered those you could flip the tape over and become a star!

The songs that were on this tape were a bit “off the beaten path” especially for me, who was a child of Rosenshontz and Disney music for FAR too long. One of my favorite songs on the tape was “Let’s Give Them Something to Talk About.” I had practiced this song countless times and thought it would be perfect for the talent show; it was far and away my best!¬†While I knew the lyrics by heart, I had no idea what this song was about. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this song, please see below:

While this isn’t the worst song ever written (or even close to the worst song), for a fourth grade talent show, it wasn’t the best idea. Couple that with the fact that my singing abilities weren’t amazing, I am EXTREMELY thankful that my mom talked me out of that idea. I ended up doing a comedy skit (I know, that isn’t much better) from the Free to Be You and Me record. That’s right, I just said record. No, I am not that old, my parents were hippie-ish and just liked living in the past (please reference previous posts about growing up in a cable free household for more evidence of that.) The skit, and pretty much the entire record, broke the mold of traditional gender stereotypes. It was deep for fourth graders and I blame my classmates’ inability to grasp such complex and forward-thinking ideas as the reason why were weren’t voted through to the final performance. Either that, or the fact that I forgot half of my lines. Either way, my musical and theatrical career came to a screeching halt after that experience. Although I continued to lay down some pretty serious tracks on the karaoke machine in our basement.

Thankfully, some children didn’t have their dreams of stardom trounced as easily as I did. The Mickey Mouse Club skyrocketed kids like Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera into world-wide stars.

Miley, Hil-Duff and the Jo-Bros have The Disney Channel to thank. And Fergie got her start on the 80’s classic show, Kids Incorporated where she stole the show for 5 years straight.

And now, children around the world have the wonders of YouTube and Ellen to thank. After conducting a search for the most talented children featured on YouTube, Ellen came across the likes of Greyson Chance, a 13-year-old boy from Edmond, Oklahoma. His performance of Lady Gaga’s Paparazzi won him the attention of millions, but most importantly, of Ellen. She featured him live on her show earlier this year, with his unbelievable performance of that song:

Then two weeks later, it was announced that Greyson won the 10,000 dollar prize from the Ellen contest AND the backing of Ellen’s new record label, eleveneleven. Today Greyson released his first single Waiting Outside the Lines.

Man, must be nice to be a YouTube sensation. And talented.

Greyson’s story has inspired me to re-think my career as a performer. Let’s be honest, I missed my chance at the Olympics and I am never going to be a professional crafter (besides Martha, I don’t think there is much money is that field). I am going to devote the next chapter of my life to perfecting my rendition of “Let’s Give Them Something to Talk About.” I will then buy a flip camera and record my “unknown” talents and post it to YouTube. I will then received 100,000 hits in a single day and be invited to LA where I will inevitably become a star.

How’s that for a life plan?

Sucked in by the Sap

I blame my parents for my addiction to crappy tv. Growing up, not only did we not have cable, but we only have 4 channels on our tv. I grew up on ABC, NBC, CBS and far far too much PBS. While other kids were watching Punky Brewster, 90210 and Melrose Place, Abby and I were watching Mr. Rogers and Square One. We had a limit of 30 minutes of tv each day during the week and an hour or so on the weekends. Reading, playing games and swimming took up most of our time. In truth, I was blissfully unaware of all that I was missing and honestly didn’t mind, or realize, that my childhood (and teenage years) were lacking the quality tv time of my peers.

When I went off to college I started to hear stories about Dawson’s Creek. I felt left out as I never got to meet Dawson, Joey or Pacey. Thankfully, the DVD box set came through for me. I started to form relationships with people my friends had known for years. Rory Gilmore and I became fast friends as we shared the stress of college. The parents on 7th Heaven taught me many life lessons. And I partied with Salinger siblings.

Over the years, my obsession with tv has changed from classic 90s family shows to reality shows. I now spend countless hours watching shows like American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, the Next Food Network Star, and Toddlers & Tiaras. Recently, I have become hooked on to two new shows: Losing it With Jillian Michaels and America’s Got Talent. Both of these shows have one thing in common – they play up the sap.

On the surface these shows are not good. One show follows a family struggling with obesity for 1 week of their lives. Watching over weight people learn how to eat appropriate sized portions and visit a gym isn’t a great plot for a show. The other show scours the country for marginal talent. I think that Winter Follies, the annual talent show at my high school had much more talents acts than this show is able to find. Really the acts are more bizarre than talented. But what draws me into to these shows are the sappy stories. The story of a family overcoming the evils of southern cooking. The story of a boy suffering from epilepsy who has found peace in indoor kite flying. The story of an old watch maker who shared his love of playing the harmonica with the world.

These stories of people, from the most obscure places around the world, I am embarrassed to say, have moved me to tears more than once. So I thank you, sappy reality tv, for allowing me to continue my quest in making up for lost time. Ironically, I do this by sitting in front of the tv, losing time from reality.