SMOKINCHOICES (and other musings)

May 14, 2011

Ah James, sad no more

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jan Turner @ 6:54 pm

(I’ve been so sad and upset over James Durbin’s elimination from IDOL last Thursday nite.   He was clearly the most exciting talent to come along in quite a while.  I’m ancient and in my lifetime I never liked “metal”  or “rock” or anything seemingly abrasive – was hard on my nervous system.  . . .  .  remember,  I liked I loved Adam Lambert.  He was my choice and I could barely stand it that he was not chosen.  Actually, for three years now I have gone through this and don’t know if I’m up for any future contests at American Idol.  I simply don’t like the judging, the way they boot superior talent for the more lackluster.    I’m not a fan of the three judges either.  At least Randy tries to impart legitimate critique only to be pooh-poohed by the other two.  J-lo tries and she has improved.  I miss Simon Cowell and Ellen and Paula.

Practically EVERY performance of James has brought the house down – with all three judges remarking on his ability, talent and extraordinary quality and sensitiveness – his artistry and delivery.  Flawless and impressive.  There is no question that there was indeed much talent on Idol this year.  It is hard to choose sometimes because there is SO MUCH good to choose from.  I Adore Haley.  She is not less better than James, just very different.  Lauren IS hard to believe especially for her age.  And I have had a fond preference for Scotty – often.  When James in on that stage – He OWNS IT!

Needing some closure to lose this sadness, I went online and found these piece as and decided to share it in case anybody else is out there who is having a hard time letting go.  This kid IS going to be OKAY.  Rock on, James.            Jan)

USA TODAY Idol Chatter: Candid commentary on American Idol performances

May 13, 2011

‘Idol’ elimination blindsided James Durbin

By Lindsay Deutsch, USA TODAY
By Michael Becker/FOX

James Durbin’s fans weren’t the only ones blindsided by his elimination from American Idol. “Expect the unexpected; that’s what I should have done Thursday night,” the show’s resident metal-head said Friday, admitting that he expected a hometown visit and a place in the top three.

But the Santa Cruz musician, 22, who went out singing a tearful rendition of Paul McCartney’s Maybe I’m Amazed and repeated his mantra, “Give metal a chance,” already has big plans to update the genre to this generation. “I did what I came here to do,” he said. “I haven’t failed at all. This is just the beginning.”

Plans for an album are already in the works, with what Durbin described as a Holy Diver, Neon Nights-type feel. “I potentially heard my first single yesterday,” he said, adding that it “still has a heavy edge and is radio friendly.” He plans to reunite with a friend from home who will be his lead guitarist. He also hopes to work with Mike Portnoy from Dream Theater.

Durbin said Idol has helped the “social awkwardness” that comes with his Asperger and Tourette syndrome, but he embraces his condition: “I’m different. I’m a freak. Different is the new normal.”

And he’s still planning a wedding to his “guardian angel” Heidi, with fellow Idol Stefano Langone as best man and Paul McDonald as groomsman.

As for the future? “Expect the unexpected!” was all the rocker would reveal about his finale performance. James talked about his past life and a budding friendship with professional wrestler and Dancing with the Stars contestant Chris Jericho, as well as his superstition surrounding the song Don’t Stop Believin’, in a conference call:

What was going through your mind when your name was called? It was a huge shock for a lot of people.

It has been a real whirlwind of emotion. I’ve been thinking about why I came on the show, why I even auditioned in the first place. I’m brought back to those feelings: It’s for my family, and it’s to try to give a voice to a genre of music that seems like it’s slowly fading away. I really accomplished a lot on the show. I’m really thankful and grateful for the opportunities.

You had a lot of celebrity fans, like Alyssa Milano, who were talking about you on Twitter. Have you heard from any celebrities besides the judges?

I became good friends with Chris Jericho, who was on Dancing With the Stars because we filmed at the same studio. I’ve been a wrestling fan since I was 12, and he has always been one of my favorites. We could talk about wrestling and music and the road. He’s a singer in a metal band, so it really worked out.

You starred in the Kids on Broadway theater group in Santa Cruz, Calif. How did that change you?

One of the things that comes with Asperger’s, the high-functioning autism, is social awkwardness. i had a lot of it, starting out. Being in that theater organization and being around people constantly really helped with that. From one performance to the next was a complete 180 of my attitude and how I presented myself. I was able to talk to people, hold a conversation and not get really emotional before the performances.

In theater, even in children’s theater, the week before the show is called Hell Week. If all hell’s going to break loose, that’s when it’s going to happen. After being in one of those Hell Weeks, if anything was going to happen, it would have happened then. But it didn’t. That’s when I, and everybody else, noticed a real change.

What was the change in you when you met Heidi? How did you guys meet?

When I was 4 and Heidi was 13, or mothers were friends at church. She watched me, when I had a play date with her younger sister. We went to the park or something. It’s not like we grew up together or anything.

I was singing karaoke, and she was at the restaurant for the going-away party for one of the managers. We crossed paths. I was singing, and she dug the song. She came up and said, “I’m Heidi. Aren’t you James?” I’m like, “Yeaaahhh …” She said, “Our moms were friends at church. I don’t know if you remember me.” I didn’t remember her, but I wanted to, so I tried to get her alone the whole night. I got her number, then called her but hung up because I was nervous. it just took off from there.

She is my saving grace. She’s my guardian angel. At that point, I was 19 living at my mom’s house. No job, no car, no money. No license, even; no diploma. I was about as low as you could get. Then I met her and everything changed.

I wanted to be a better person. I wanted to succeed. I wanted to advance in life. Behind every great, successful man, there is an amazing, amazing women.

If Hollywood did a movie on your life, what actor would you want to play you?

I think I would want to play myself. I wouldn’t want that to sound conceited. Maybe Matt Damon, because I was told I kind of look like Matt Damon. Then Steven Segal could play me when I’m an old man.

When I was a kid, I had my hair dyed black, and I had it down to my shoulders. I pulled it back into a ponytail. I always got told that I looked like Steven Segal. I was a little overweight, too.

What was the best piece of advice one of the judges gave you?

Don’t hold back. Just roll with it. Just keeping going. Just keep giving it everything.

Randy told me, “This is your competition to lose.” I felt like I was going out on top. Wednesday I had two of my best performances of my entire life. They were both very consistent; they were both pinpoint-perfect. I’m my own biggest critic, and I shot myself up on that one. I didn’t have anything to say. I was really proud of myself and really excited to see what was next and go home for that Top Three. But not everything works out the way you expect it.

How did it feel to share your full spectrum of emotions with America? We saw you break down on stage. We also saw you break down in joy when you saw Hulk Hogan.

I’ve gone though so many changes throughout the show. Earlier, I was talking about how Heidi helped me change, how Kids on Broadway helped me change. Idol has really helped me change.

I’ve never been very business-savvy. Thanks to being on Idol, I got to let loose and get into my stage-manager/ production thing and organize this and that: the flaming piano, Zakk Wylde, the marching band, costumes. I figured out what I wanted to wear and designed it or had it made.

Every single one of my performances was all me. I wrote it; i drew out a storyboard for everything. Every single one of my performances had an idea. I just ran with it. I’m really happy. I really am. it sounds cliched, but, honestly, I feel, with the amount of stuff I have done in my run on Idol, I really did what I wanted to do.

Other guys in the past had put their foot in the doorway, to hold that door open for guys like me. I did what I wanted to do. I accomplished it. I came in and I put my foot straight through the door.

By Michael Becker/FOX

Are there any people in the metal world you’d like to work with?

Definitely Mike Portnoy from Dream Theater. I got to meet him, and I asked him if he’d be down for anything like that. He said, “Absolutely.” So that’s pretty amazing. Zakk Wylde again.

But I have a little secret weapon back home. My best friend back home, I asked him if he’d be my guitarist for anything post-Idol. That’s why I’m really looking forward to this now. We have a plan to bring back great frontmen and their lead guitarists. You had Ozzy Osbourne and Randy Rhoads, or Ozzy and Tony Iommi. Or Ronnie James Dio and Tony Iommi. Or Dio and Vivian Campbell. Just amazing metal duos. There’s Steven Tyler and Joe Perry. Or Steve Perry and Neal Schon.

Those are the two people you remember most out of the group. Robert Plant and Jimmy Page. The list goes on and on, but, for some reason, it seemed like it stopped. We want to bring that back. That’s pretty much the essence of rock ‘n’ roll. That’s what people get excited for.

When Chris Daughtry went out fourth, he said that he was kind of glad he didn’t win Idol because he thought it would have ruined his rock cred. What do you think about that?

That makes plenty of sense. Winning would have been just great, too. The first instinct when you’re up there and Ryan says you’re going home, your first instinct is, “I wanted to win so badly, and it feels like I’ve failed.”

But, now, thinking about it, I haven’t failed at all. This is just the beginning.

It’s like a rollercoaster, but it’s not how you would think. You would think while you’re on Idol, the rollercoaster is doing all its turns and loops and corkscrews, but that’s not it. Idol is still just the clicking up the track before it drops into the craziness. So I’m still clicking.

When you weren’t on stage, how were you affected by the Tourette’s and the Asperger’s?

When I was a kid I took medication. When I was about 16, I decided I wasn’t going to let a man-made substance control me. God made me a certain way, and I’m perfect in His eyes. So that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to run with it. I’m going to be me. I’ve been looked at funny. Who cares? I don’t care.

I’m different. I’m a freak. Different is the new normal. If you’re not different, you’re not in.

There have been rumors that some of the other contestants, perhaps even ones still on the show, have already signed record deals. Do you have any reason to believe you might have or might expect a recording contract?

Who knows? Expect the unexpected. That’s what I wish I would have done Thursday night.

We’re still going with the flow on the show. We get to write stuff and figure out that sort of thing. I potentially, yesterday, heard my first single, but that doesn’t signify there’s a contract.

What do you man that you potentially heard your first single?

I just heard a song. Someone me a song. I really dig it. It’s something I can work with that still has my influence on it. It has a heavy edge, but it’s radio-friendly enough to be on the radio.

What might your record sound like?

It definitely has to have a real throwback feel. Holy Diver is probably my favorite album, or Neon Nights by Black Sabbath with Dio. Definitely all Marshalls and Les Pauls. My guitarist is a total shredder, and he’s amazing. It’s going to be awesome. We’re going to force it on the airwaves, definitely.

We feel strongly about our music and strongly that it seems like it’s dying out. That just can’t happen. It was taken off the list for Grammys, and we’ve got to find some way to get it back out there.

I’m definitely really excited to collaborate with people and work with different songwriters and musicians.

You were never in the Bottom Two or the Bottom Three. How blindsided were you last night?

I’m not going to lie, I definitely was. There was something off with the kinetic energy of everybody at the studio yesterday. I just felt it off people’s body language. Not that people know, but there was a real somber feeling. I freaked out a little before the show started. I just knew it. I was told, “Don’t worry about it,” but I knew it.

What do you have planned for the finale?

Once again, expect the unexpected. No one would ever expect it. Whatever it is. I don’t know.

What was Heidi’s reaction, and have you talked to Hunter, you son?

I didn’t get to see him last night. He’s back at home with my mom and my sisters.

When I was standing up there, I just kept looking at Heidi, trying to reassure here that it was okay.

Looking back, what’s the whole reason I auditioned in the first place? It was because we couldn’t afford diapers. I don’t think I’m going to have to worry about affording diapers now.

Did Heidi have any words of support on the stage?

Just that she loves me to death. That’s all that really matters.

What was the first thing you did once cameras stopped rolling?

I really just went around and thanked all the crew and hugged everybody — the band and the crew, everyone. Those are the people that put on the show. Those are the people behind the scenes, and it’s not possible without them. It’s not just an emotion because of getting eliminated, it’s an emotion because I see those people every day. They’re, like, our friends. We don’t get to see them anymore.

It was rough. It was a rough night. I wasn’t expecting it. Because of that it caught me off guard and got me a little bit more.

Did you get much sleep?

Probably a half hour. But that’s okay. I haven’t touched coffee or 5-hour Energy. Running off adrenaline.

Is there anyone you’re pulling for in the finale, and who were you closest with on the show?

Definitely closest with all the guys, really. Stefano’s going to be the best man at my wedding. Paul’s going to be one of my groomsmen. We had a little jam band with myself, Paul, Casey and Stefano. We won’t go there. It was fun just hanging out, making up silly songs, boys’ stuff. Songs about boogers, that sort of thing.

I have a feeling who might take it, but, at this point, you can’t really choose.

Who’s your feeling for?

Mmmmmm …. Who do you think? I ain’t saying, but who do you think?

Who now? You had two strong performances of two popular songs, Don’t Stop Believin’Love Potion No. 9. Do you think there was anything about those songs that didn’t connect for some reason?

I’ve been waiting for somebody to ask me this question all morning, since 5 a.m. here. The funny thing is, a friend I made while out is Chris Jericho, who was on Dancing With the Stars. Big metal-head, singer in a metal band, pro wrestler. The last song that he danced to before his elimination was Don’t Stop Believin’.

Don’t Stop Believin’ eliminated Chris Jericho, James Durbin and Tony Soprano.


All Videos

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  • James Durbin

Bee’s struggle for survival

Hard-hit honeybees can’t get a break

‘Colony collapse’ cut their numbers in past years; now, the cold, wet weather poses another threat


A  long winter followed by a cold, wet spring didn’t do anything to help Ohio’s struggling honeybee industry.

“The weather here has just stunk; it’s the worst spring I have ever seen in trying to do well with bees,” said Kim Flottum, editor of Bee Culture magazine in Medina. “It’s been cold, rainy — they’ve been unable to fly.”    The bees should have been out a month ago gathering pollen, but they’ve had only a few days to do this because of weeks of rain.

What’s at stake? Ohio farmers need bees to grow more than 70 crops, including apples, peaches, strawberries and pumpkins. Nationwide, they are responsible for billions of dollars in fruit and vegetable crops.    “No bees were thriving because of that weather,” said James Tew, an Ohio State University beekeeping specialist. “They needed that protein and pollen.”

During the winter, bees cluster inside hives on top of honey that they use as food. If the temperatures stay below zero for too long, the bees stay put even if they run out of food.    “They don’t move and they actually starve to death,” said Barbara Bloetscher, state apiarist with the Ohio Department of Agriculture. “The cold is OK, but it needs to warm up above zero so they can move.”

Arnold Crabtree, a Canal Winchester beekeeper, has lost many bees through the years. This past winter, he took most of his bees to Florida.    “We lost very few bees,” he said. “Those (beekeepers) who aren’t as fortunate and didn’t have a place to take them to, they took a pretty big loss.”    This is all in contrast to what’s happening in California. Beekeepers there say their bees are healthy, hungry and making lots of honey.

Nationally, retail honey prices have increased from $4.22 per pound in 2008 to $5.22 this year, according to the National Honey Board.    Honey prices have had steady increases through the years, but foreign producers have kept U.S. prices from skyrocketing, said John Grafton, president of the Ohio State Beekeepers Association.

From 2006 to 2009, state officials say beekeepers lost 60 to 70 percent of their bees because of what experts call colony collapse — which could include disease, pesticides, mismanagement, bad weather and genetics.    The situation isn’t as bleak this year, but bee losses vary from 30 to 50 percent across the state.    “The Ohio bees are just not as vigorous as they used to be; they require more babysitting,” Tew said.    “I’m not predicting a disaster and I’m not saying the end is at hand, but I’m saying things need to be done differently.”    He said bees can’t be left out in a field to fend for themselves as they were decades ago.

The plight of the honeybees has spiked interest in beekeeping across Ohio.    Classes that teach how to set up colonies, produce queens and manage their hives have been packed across the state.    Barry Conrad, who owns Conrad Hive and Honey in Canal Winchester and is treasurer of the Central Ohio Beekeeper Association, said a record 150 people attended the local beekeeping school this year.    “People want to get back to nature,” he said.    There were 3,871 beekeepers in Ohio last year, and state officials expect that number to climb significantly when new registrations are counted by June 1.

Experts said it will take a while for this new interest in beekeeping and of consumers buying locally made honey to turn around Ohio’s honeybee industry.    “The bees continue to struggle,” Tew said. “I can’t give them as high a mark as I can the people wanting to help them.”    Information from the Sacramento (Calif.) Bee was included in this story.

SHARI LEWIS DISPATCH    Arnold Crabtree of Canal Winchester is one of more than 3,000 people in Ohio raising honeybees. He says he’s been working with bees since the fourth grade. “I’ve never lost interest, even when I got stung.”

Facts on bees

BEES IN OHIO (2010)    • 3,871 registered beekeepers    • 6,000 apiaries    • 32,119 colonies (average of 50,000 bees per colony)   

DISEASES DIAGNOSED (NUMBER OF COLONIES)    • American foulbrood: 141    • European foulbrood: 31                • Chalkbrood: 180    • Tracheal mite: 129    • Varroa mite: 3,332    • Small hive beetle: 252

2010 HONEY CROP (NATIONWIDE)    • Producers with five or more colonies produced 176 million pounds, a 20 percent increase from 2009.    • Yield per colony averaged 65.5 pounds, up 12 percent from 2009.    • The total crop was valued at $281.9 million.   

CONSUMPTION    • The U.S. per-capita consumption of honey is about 1.29 pounds per year  

AGRICULTURE’S DEPENDENCE    • Millions of acres of U.S. fruit, vegetable, oilseed and legume seed crops depend on insect pollination. The direct value of honey bee pollination annually is $14.6 billion.    • The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that 80 percent of insect crop pollination is accomplished by honeybees.                                       

CROP DEPENDENCE    • Almonds are entirely dependent on honeybee pollination. Other crops, including apples, sunflowers and cherries, are 90 percent dependent.                                                                                                                          

LIVESTOCK FEED    • The production of most beef and dairy products consumed in the United States is dependent on insect-pollinated legumes, including alfalfa and clover.    Sources: Ohio Department of Agriculture, National Honey Board, U.S. Department of Agriculture

For more on Ohio’s struggling honeybee industry, watch Dispatch reporter Suzanne Hoholik on WBNS-10TV between 6:30 and 7 this morning or go  .

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