American Idol

From Carrie Underwood to Clay Aiken to Antonella Barba

Created by Simon Fuller, former manager of Spice Girls, American Idol has been one of the most successful reality shows of recent times. The show is about a talent hunt to find good singers (‘great singers’ if you ask Simon Cowell) in each season from across America, with the audience’s vote deciding the winner. It is into its 6th season currently and all involved with the show have had their life changed by it. Be it the contestants or the judges, fame has embraced them all although not always for their singing abilities.
It is almost surprising to look back and see that the first American Idol season premiered with absolutely no hype in 2002. But word of mouth generated about the talent of the contestant and the no holds barred comments of British judge Simon Cowell pushed the show’s ratings over the roof. By the time of the season finale it was estimated that fifty million people had tuned in to the show. The winner that year, Kelly Clarkson, went on to have a successful singles career and a star was born.

In subsequent seasons Ruben Studdard, Fantasia Barrino, Carrie Underwood and Taylor Hicks all won the title. However they all have had varying degrees of success in their singles career. While the women had greater success, the men are finding it tough in the music industry. Kelly Clarkson is a Grammy Award winner. Fantasia and Carrie Underwood both have had number ones in the Billboard charts. As for the men, both Ruben Studdard and Taylor Hick found somebody they had beaten in the American Idol beating them in record sales. While Clay Aiken beat out Ruben in record sales, Chris Daughtry outsold Taylor.
It was not only the winners whose lives were changed by the show. The non-winner of American Idol who has had the most successful musical career must be Clay Aiken. Clay Aiken has released 3 albums so far. His first solo album, Measure of a Man, which debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200, was the highest-selling debut for a solo artist in 10 years, and to date the highest debut of any Idol. Following it Clay Aiken has been in the limelight with a number of tours and TV appearances. Clay has even lent his voice and efforts for multiple charity events show casing his commitment to causes close to his heart.

Another Idol non-winner who has made it big is Jennifer Hudson. She was recently in the limelight for winning most of the awards in Hollywood, including an Oscar and a Golden Globe for best supporting actress, for her role of Effie White in the movie Dreamgirls. Other notable non-winners to have had successful careers were Chris Daughtry and Bo Bice.
The show was life changing for the judges too. Simon Cowell became an international celebrity through his image of being the villain in the show. He was so successful that in every country where the show had a spin off there was one judge who would play the villain. But none of them were as good as the Simon Cowell for the title of ‘The man you loved to Hate'.

Paula Abdul, a yesteryear pop star, came back into the limelight for her compassionate assessment of the contestants. She became the perfect contrast to Simon Cowell, sometimes even going to the limit of public altercations with him on TV. Randy Jackson on the other hand has had to overcome his weight related issues.
A show of such popularity cannot be without its share of controversies too. In the second season of American Idol when out of 24 million votes casted; Studdard finished just 130,000 votes ahead of Aiken. The accuracy of this result is still disputed. There was much discussion in the communication industry about the phone system being overloaded, and that more than 150 million votes were dropped, making the voting invalid. Since then, the voting methods have been modified to avoid this problem.

Also during Season 2 Corey Clark, who was kicked off the show because of a police record he had not disclosed earlier, alleged that he had an affair with judge Paula Abdul. Clark also alleged that Abdul gave him preferential treatment on the show because of their alleged romance. A subsequent investigation by Fox found no evidence to support Clark's charges.
In Season 3 the controversy was over the legitimacy of the contest itself was questioned when Jon Peter Lewis, John Stevens stayed afloat despite bad performances while others who gave better performances were unexpectedly eliminated. While in Season 5 it came to light that Bucky Covington has had prior troubles with law. It seems he and his twin brother had switched places in an effort to confuse the police in 1988.

The current season of the American Idol has been overshadowed by the Antonella Barba scandal. Some provocative pictures of Barba has surfaced on the internet. The pictures show Antonella topless in a beach with other women. This has garnered much media attention of late with Fox News featuring a full segment of the controversy in its O’Reily Factor. Photos of Barba posing in a wet t-shirt in the fountain of the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. have also surfaced. Antonella Barba’s friends have claimed that these pictures are fakes. Ultimately she was voted off in the previous episode.
Despite the controversy there is no denying the fact that the show has discovered some undisputable talent from its inception. Moreover it is a platform for talented singers in the country to showcase their stuff which might have gone to waste otherwise. It offers the dream of fame and success to ordinary people. Its spin offs have been equally successful. The third season of the Indian Idol is about to start, and let’s hope they are as successful as their American counterparts in unearthing great talent.

Interview in Good Manner

Hello Friends. Here are some tips for facing the Interview in Good Manner -
  • Dress appropriately in simple - comfortable clothes that reflect your personality.
  • Avoid wearing new shoes (squeaking noises) and do practice wearing your tie.
  • Be punctual - don't be late or even too early.
  • Read up about the company - what business they are into, growth trends, diversification etc
  • Read your own resume - be sure that you don't have to look into your resume to recall details during the interview.

  • Carry extra copies of your resume and testimonials - you never know when you may need them.
  • Make sure you know the full name and designation of the person interviewing you.
  • Keep your references ready.
  • Remember to make a note of your previous or current salary with all its components.
  • Make a good first impression.
  • Wish the interviewer(s) cheerfully and with a smile.
  • A firm handshake is an indicator of how you are feeling. If you are a lady, then some male employers might not make the first move, but go ahead and initiate the handshake.
  • Wait till you are asked to sit down.
  • Look the person in the eye.
  • Do not appear too nervous or overconfident - Your body language usually conveys more than what you are saying. Don't slouch or lean forward too much.
  • Try to curb nervous mannerisms [eg. fidgeting or biting your finger.]
  • Appear comfortable, confident and interested in securing the job.

During the interview

  • Start the interview with a pleasant smile.
  • Always remember to give a firm handshake. If there are women in your interview panel, wait for the other person to extend the hand while shaking hands.
  • Listen carefully to what the interviewer is saying.
  • Stress on what you can contribute to the organisation.
  • Remember that the employer is in control of the interview.
  • Don't be too long-winded, say what you want to convey in crisp sentences and use terms that would convey your job & achievements.
  • Complete your sentences - don't answer just yes or no.
  • What you don't know can be learned, tell them if you don't know something. But give instances of how quick a learner you are.
  • Do not boast. People on the other side are shrewd and can generally see through you. At the same time talk about achievements giving due credit to others.
  • When talking about yourself and your aspirations, do not sound vague or do not say that you don't know something. You should be very clear and precise about what you want to do, where you want to go etc.
  • If you don't understand a question, ask for clarification, don't answer vaguely.
  • Don't talk about your personal problems, why you need the job etc.
  • Don't get personal, even if you know the interviewer personally.
  • Don't be overconfident or too nervous.
  • Don't badmouth your previous employer - you could do the same in the case of the prospective customer.
  • Don't complain about politics, a bad boss or a poor salary - your reasons for change should be higher responsibilities, location etc.
  • If the interviewer is interrupted during the course of the interview, don't pick up papers on his/her desk and read them.
  • Don't ask about salary before the offer is made.
  • Strike a balance between what you actually are and what you want to be, don't paint a picture of yourself as somebody who is not concerned about money, social status etc.
  • Don't be in a hurry to complete the interview.
  • Ask questions at the end of the interview, it could be about the company, the job or the next stage of the interview process. It will be an indicator of your interest in the position.
  • Send a thank-you letter, outlining your interest in the job and why you are qualified for it.
  • Be Positive and Confident - And the Job is yours. Best of Luck!

Little Roby

Little Roby's Test

A first-grade teacher was having trouble with one of her students.
The teacher asked, "Roby what is your problem?" Roby answered, "I'm too smart for the first-grade. My sister is in the third -grade and I'm smarter than she is! I think I should be in the third-grade too!"
The teacher had had enough.
She took Roby to the principal's office.
While Roby waited in the outer office, the teacher explained to the principal what the situation was.
The principal told the teacher he would give the boy a test and if he failed to answer any of his questions he was to go back to the first-grade and behave.
The teacher agreed.
Roby was brought in and the conditions were explained to him and he agreed to take the test.
Principal: "What is 3 x 3?"
Roby: "9".
Principal: "What is 6 x 6?"
Roby: "36".
And so it went with every question the principal thought a third-grade should know.
The principal looks at the teacher and tells her, "I think Roby can go to the third-grade."
The teacher says to the principal, "Let me ask him some questions?"
The principal and Roby both agree.
The teacher asks, "What does a cow have four of that I have only two of?"
Roby, after a moment, "Legs."
Teacher: "What is in your pants that you have but I do not have?"
The principal wondered, why does she ask such a question!
Roby replied, "Pockets."
Teacher: "What does a dog do that a man steps into?"
Roby: "Pants"
Teacher: What's starts with a C and ends with a T, is hairy, oval, delicious and contains thin whitish liquid?
Roby: Coconut
The principal's eyes open really wide and before he could stop the answer,
Roby was taking charge.
Teacher: What goes in hard and pink then comes out soft and sticky?
Roby: Bubblegum
Teacher: What does a man do standing up, a woman do sitting down and a dog do on three legs?
The principal's eyes open really wide and before he could stop the answer.
Roby: Shake hands
Teacher: Now I will ask some "Who am I" sort of questions, okay?
Roby: Yep.
Teacher: You stick your poles inside me. You tie me down to get me up. I get wet before you do.
Roby: Tent
Teacher: A finger goes in me. You fiddle with me when you're bored. The best man always has me first.
Principal was looking restless and bit tense.
Roby: Wedding Ring
Teacher: I come in many sizes. When I'm not well, I drip. When you blow me, you feel good.
Roby: Nose
Teacher: I have a stiff shaft. My tip penetrates. I come with a quiver.
Roby: Arrow
Teacher: What word starts with an 'F' and ends in 'K' that means a lot of excitement?
Roby: Firetruck
The principal breathed a sigh of relief and told the teacher, "Put Roby in the fifth-grade, I missed the last ten questions myself."

Miss Universe 2007


Yes, that’s right. Riyo Mori, who represented Japan at the Miss Universe Contest, has just been named the winner of the pagent:

Mori, 20, the 56th winner of the title, was given her $250,000 (U.S.) diamond-and-pearl crown by last year’s winner, Zuleyka Rivera of Puerto Rico, watched by a live audience of 10,000 and some 600 million television viewers worldwide.
A lifelong ballet dancer from a village near Mount Fuji, Mori wore a striking black gown with coloured lapels for the final. Winning surpassed the ambition of her grandmother, who told her as a child she wanted her to be Miss Japan one day. My mind went blank,” she said of the winning moment.

I’ll be following up later today or tomorrow with more information on the Japanese media coverage of her win. You can bet it’s going to be huge news over here!
Congratulations, Riyo!

Whoops, looks like Miss Universe 2006 is horrible at the simple act of placing a crown on the winner’s head:
…and the blunder even made the frontpage of Yahoo!

This evening, during one of the year’s most exciting live international television events, a star-studded panel of judges chose Miss Japan, Riyo Mori, as MISS UNIVERSE® 2007
Ms. Mori is 20 years-old and has been dancing since she was 4. She loves traveling the world and enjoys visiting museums and watching musicals.
The judging panel for the 2007 Miss Universe Pageant included NBC's "Heroes" James Kyson Lee, NBC's "Deal or No Deal" briefcase model Lindsay Clubine, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, rocker Dave Navarro, World and Olympic figure skating champion Michelle Kwan, fashion designer Marc Bouwer, Novela Star Mauricio Islas, "Project Runway" judge and Elle magazine fashion director Nina Garcia, and former Miss Universes Dayanara Torres (1993) and Christiane Martel (1953).
Throughout the two-hour event, contestants from 77 countries around the world competed in three categories: swimsuit; evening gown; and personality interview. Zuleyka Rivera, Miss Universe 2006, crowned her successor at the conclusion of the two-hour primetime telecast, before an estimated worldwide viewing audience of more than 1 billion in over 170 countries.
The MISS UNIVERSE® 2007 prize package includes: Official Miss UNIVERSE Mikimoto pearl tiara; 2 Year Scholarship from The NY Film Academy in NYC; custom designed wardrobe by Tadashi; National and International multi-media advertising campaign and a complete denim wardrobe from YMI Jeanswear; Swimsuit wardrobe from BSC Swimwear Thailand; Shoe wardrobe from Nina; A Ritmo Mundo Jumbo Jet Mystery Dial time piece; Year-long supply of hair care products and tools from Farouk Systems; Membership to Gravity Fitness and papering at John Barrett Salon; Fashion Portfolio by leading fashion photographer Fadil Berisha; Consultation with stylist Billie Causieestko; New York City apartment for the year of her reign including living expenses; professional representation by the Miss Universe Organization and Trump Model Management; and a personal appearance wardrobe.
The Miss Universe Organization, producers of the MISS UNIVERSE®, MISS USA® and MISS TEEN USA® competitions, is a Donald J. Trump and NBC Universal partnership. Utilizing its global grass roots infrastructure, the Miss Universe Organization is committed to increasing HIV/AIDS awareness by focusing on women's health and reproductive issues. By forging relationships with organizations committed to research and education such as the Latino Commission on AIDS, Global Health Council and God's Love We Deliver, Miss Universe is armed to impact women today.
Placement List 2007
01. Miss Universe 2007 Japan
02. First runner-up Brazil
03. Second runner-up Venezuela
04. Third runner-up Korea
05. Fourth runner-up USA
06. Tanzania
07. Angola
08. Mexico
09. India
10. Nicaragua
11. Slovenia
12. Czech Republic
13. Denmark
14. Thailand
15. Ukraine
Special Awards

Congeniality: Ningning Zhang (China)
Photogenic: Anna Theresa Licaros (Philippines)
For the first time since its inception, no Best National Costume Award was awarded.
Historical significance
  • Japan won the pageant for the first time since Akiko Kojima won Japan's first Miss Universe title in 1959. She is the first Asian titleholder since Lara Dutta won in 2000.
  • Slovenia and Tanzania placed for the first time. This was the first year that Tanzania participated in the pageant; Miss Tanzania was also the first bald contestant in the competition.
  • Countries that made the semi-finals after a long period without placement were: Czech Republic (last placed in 2003), Nicaragua (1977), Korea (1988), and Angola (2003).
  • Denmark placed for the second consecutive year; this was their first pair of consecutive placements since the 1960s. Prior to 2006, no Danish contestant had placed since 1967.
  • Philippines won the Miss Photogenic award for the seventh time (it has won this award three years in a row since 2005).
  • China won the Miss Congeniality award for the first time.
2 videos of her win at the Miss Japan contest earlier this year:


  • Miss India Universe - Puja Gupta, later among top 10 finalists at the Miss Universe
  • Miss India World - Sarah Jane Dias
  • Miss India Earth - Pooja Chitgopekar

Dream Bike

Sania Mirza

Sania Mirza (born November 15, 1986) is an Indian tennis player. She was born in Mumbai but brought up in Hyderabad. Coached by her father Imran Mirza, she began playing tennis at the age of six, turning professional in 2003. She was the highest ranked female tennis player ever from India, with career high rankings of number 31 in singles and 24 in doubles. She is now ranked 48th in singles and 38th in doubles as of April 9th, 2007.

Nevada Shoe Tree

Between the small towns of Fallon and Austin stands a tree on the side of the highway. Much like the gum tree in Ohio, it has become a living, breathing work of collective art - a piece which has an unwritten history and a fluid, unending future. It exists by the sheer will of its anonymous participants and the spirit of conspiracy. I present to you, in all its breathtaking majesty and glory, the Nevada shoe tree. more images after the break...

People amaze and amuse me. It is a wonderment that never ceases. Often times it can be appalling, the brutal and insensitive nature of humanity, but for the most part, I've always found it inspiring. Man is capable of the grandest achievements - philosophically, artistically, and mechincally - and yet, simultaneously, can be reduced to tearful, hysterical laughter by a really good fart joke. It is this duality of the human spirit that moves me; the sacred and the profane, the high-brow and the low-brow, the earnest endeavor and the flight of fancy.There is a tree at the Kings Island amusement park in Ohio. I forget which ride it is, one of the big water rides. The line you have to stand in winds through a forest to the attraction. There are many trees along the path, but one in particular was singled out by the throngs of hot, idle park-goers for a piece of impromptu collective art. I've always called it the gum tree. There, on the right-side of the path stands the small tree, it's trunk almost completely covered in globs of chewing gum of every color imaginable. It's not like base graffiti, an essentially one person show of artistry on a public canvas. Sure, graffiti when un-checked results in a collection of various artists in a localized area, but it's not a collective effort on a singular undertaking. Someone, most likely a group of someones, standing in that line decided to all stick their gum on that tree. Consequentially, over the years, more and more people added more gum to the tree, resulting in the myriad of color that exists today.I discovered a similar phenomena in central Nevada. Trees are rare here in the desert climate. One is generally hard pressed to spot a tree on the stark landscape. U.S. Highway 50 runs laterally through the center of the state, from Ely on its eastern border all the way to Lake Tahoe. It is a beautful drive, with long stretches of open country. Often times you can drive anywhere from 50 to 100 miles between towns with nary a house in site. Between the small towns of Fallon and Austin stands a tree on the side of the highway. Much like the gum tree in Ohio, it has become a living, breathing work of collective art - a piece which has an unwritten history and a fluid, unending future. It exists by the sheer will of its anonymous participants and the spirit of conspiracy. I present to you, in all its breathtaking majesty and glory, the Nevada shoe tree.

While I'm sure no one went barefoot to create this masterpiece, it is arguable that it has required a bit of sacrifice to create and forethought to maintain. Whoever began this must've had some extra shoes and just tossed them into the tree branches. Over the years, people travelling through the area have made their donation to the tree with pairs of unwanted shoes that happened to be in their RV's and trucks.
It is an amazing sight up close. The tree is filled with every type and size shoe imaginable. Children's sneakers and adult's atheletic shoes. Boots of all stripes: workboots, hiking boots, cowboy boots, and even a pair of rubber knee-high "hipwaders". Pumps, sandals, wing-tips, and loafers.
Which is what makes this project so astounding on a level that the gum tree cannot begin to approach. This tree, literally and figuratively, represents every walk of American life. What probably began as a prank or a joke, and is probably still fueled largely by mischeivous adolescents, has blossmed into a beautiful statement which an indivudal artist could never capture. The very essence of the art lies in the fact that it was created in cohort and by collusion to create an unintentional statement.
It is certainly one of the most amazing things I have seen in my great American escapade thus far. For me it captures perfectly that dual nature of humanity, particularly the American human. Sometimes it is easy to feel inconsequential, like one's contribution to life and society is of little import. In a grander scheme of things, this may be true, but in the realm of the trivial interactions of humans, sometimes all it takes to be part of something beautiful and infamous is tossing a pair of shoes into a tree.