Tuesday 1 July 2014


This year I'm setting myself a challenge each month by either giving something up, or taking up something new. For July I've decided on the latter.

On a side note, how the chickens is it July already?

Strictly speaking, duolingo is not brand new; I've had an account for a while. I just don't use it regularly enough for my liking, and I'm hoping that a month's worth of daily lingo-ing will force me into better habits.

For anyone who doesn't know, by the way, duolingo is a rather brilliant little website where you can learn new languages for free. When I first joined the options were French, German and Italian, but those lingo-ers have clearly been busy little bees, and there are now 12 wonderful languages from which to choose.

This is all rather fabulous, but what makes it arguably even better is the fact that you can add a bit of healthy competition by getting your friends to join and comparing your progress with theirs. At this point I should mention that my username is RebeccaTheGroves - feel free to add me, and while you're there you can check that I'm sticking to my daily practice!

Saturday 7 June 2014

I'm Wittering Again

Knock knock.

This is where you say, "who's there?"

I'll have to assume you said or thought it because alas I can't see or hear you.

Unless I've crept into your house and am hiding behind that curtain...

I'm not behind that curtain.

Or am I?

No, I'm almost definitely not.

Because I'm actually behind ... that OTHER curtain.

No but seriously, I'm not behind the curtains, and we've got ourselves off topic. Let's start again.

Knock knock!
(Who's there?)
It's me, Grover, back from another break of several months in which I completely abandoned my blog!
(Okay, whatever. What are you doing behind the curtain?)

In a parallel universe somewhere I will actually have been behind someone's curtain as they read that, jumped out and scared the crap, and indeed the bejesus, out of them. So there's a fun thought.

Well what am I actually doing back here all of a sudden? Truth be told, I don't really know. The blogger icon just caught my eye this morning and I fancied writing a bloglet.

My only new year's resolution this year was to set myself the challenge each month of either giving something up, or doing something extra. This month I've given up all drinks except water. Thus far I have managed it, but it was a foolish idea for two reasons:
1. Water is, without a doubt, the most boring of drinks.
2. It means that I can't give up tea, coffee, alcohol etc. individually later and so I have to think of other things instead.

So maybe, MAYBE I will set myself the challenge of writing a bloglet everyday for a month.

Consider this fair warning.

Saturday 23 November 2013

X Factor 2013 (23rd November)

Shall I bother carrying on with these bloglets? Sam Callahan was booted off last week so there's no one left for me to pick on. 

Oh yeah, Walsh. Onwards!

Tonight's theme is ... X Factor. Riiight. The show is 10 years old, you see. And in that time they've unfortunately run out of good themes.

Nicholas McDonald. The Climb.
This week Nicholas has been home to Scotland and he's also sung Miley Cyrus' Joe McElderry's song to Joe McElderry. 
For the first time in the competition, I think little Nicholas is a little flat at times. The staging is pretty boring, the song is pretty boring, the key change is a little boring. You get the picture.
Sharon wishes Nicholas a happy birthday - so she can no longer remind him he's "only suxteeen"? She thinks he sung it beautifully. Gary wants Nicholas to work on his identity. Nicole thinks she saw his identity on the stage. If she did, it's a boring identity. Louis thinks Nicholas is one of the best vocalists the show's ever had. Dermot then strolls on stage with an awesome birthday cake of the studio and the judges and I am rather jealous.

Hannah Barrett. Hallelujah.
Nicole tells Hannah that she stole the show last week. I think I'd agree actually. This week Hannah got to meet Alexandra Burke. There are tears from both.
It's nice. I think we're all waiting for her to belt out the big notes, aren't we? They don't come until about three quarters of the way through the song, so it drags a little until then.
Louis thinks it was an emotional interpretation of the song and that it was her best performance. Sharon says Hannah seems to be more comfortable with herself each week. Gary likes that Hannah doesn't choose songs in order to chase votes. (Hannah's in tears again by this point.) Nicole: "You know it's good and it touches you when there's snot, you know?" Enough said really.

There's now a montage of X Factor's most memorable moments. Have I missed a memo about this show ending? Because it's quite the nostalgia-fest tonight.

Luke Friend. What Makes You Beautiful.
Luke was "like, really down" after being in the sing-off last week so Louis arranges for him to meet Shane Ward. I'm sure that really cheered him up.
He's certainly put his own spin on this. I can't decide whether or not this was a good with such a famous song, but I admire him for having a go.
Sharon says Luke is the dark horse in the competition. Gary thinks that Luke being in the bottom two last week has been positive for him. Nicole loves that he changed the song. Louis hopes the Wand Erection fans liked it.

Rough Copy. What's It Gonna Be?
Gary took RC to Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park because they don't have enough fun. Oh I'm sorry, I seem to have mistakenly got the idea that they're in a singing competition, when apparently they're in a competition for who can have the most fun.
Another interesting style choice for these guys. (Is that a ski mask on one of their heads?) I find myself in the confusing state of really liking this. Sorry folks.
Nicole talks a lot. There are ice cream similies and 'schsprinkles'. Louis thinks there's a gap in the market for them. Sharon finds the song whiney. Gary says they did a brilliant job.

Tamera Foster. Impossible.
Tamera had a bit of a shocker last time, forgetting the lyrics and all. Nicole gives her permission to "have her moment" with this song. 
She starts off alright but she forgets the lyrics again(!) and then I think she gets ahead of herself and it's just horribly painful to watch. She manages to get a grip, though, and belts out the rest of the song. If she hadn't messed up, this would have been a great performance.
Louis thinks she's a potential superstar but is annoyed she keeps forgetting the lyrics. Sharon says she did good (you mean 'well', Mrs O) despite forgetting the lyrics. Gary found it difficult to watch and thought the song was in the wrong key. Nicole is full of positive words.

Sam Bailey. Bleeding Love.
Sam is not going to let being the oldest in the competition get in her way. Good, I'm glad.
Despite saying in her intro video that she wants to put her own spin on the song, Sam sounds exactly the same as Leona. Until there's a key change. Then it's a little different, but it's basically a copy of Leona's version. Don't get me wrong, she sounds ace as usual but let's not kid ourselves that she really made it her own.
Gary thinks it was amazing. Nicole says it was a perfect perfomance. Louis says that Tamera should watch back Sam's performance to see how it's done (meow). Sharon is thankful that she has Sam to represent "the girls" and "the overs".

Blimey, that's everyone! I think Tamera might be leaving this week. What do you reckon?

Saturday 16 November 2013

X Factor 2013 (16th November)

Tonight's theme is the Great British Songbook. I'm not sure 'British' is really a genre but hey ho, on with the show.

Dermot marches out to the wonderfully bizarre (and oh-so British!?) What Does the Fox Say? but alas, is not wearing a fox mask. That would have made for a perfect entrance.

Hannah Barrett. Can't Get No Satisfaction.
Hannah was in the bottom two last week. What the ACTUAL crap? How did Callahan avoid it again?
Seriously this kid must have earned herself a record deal by now. Someone MUST sign her up after the show, regardless of where/when she finishes.
Louis (who is wearing the WORST jacket I have ever seen) compares Hannah to Tina Turner and pleads with the audience to vote for her to keep her out of the bottom two. Sharon loves the song choice and the fact that Hannah had fun. Gary describes it as another great performance. Nicole says she's going to spend all her money voting for Hannah.

Luke Friend. Your Song.
Louis, sitting with his full category, tells his full category that he's the only judge with a full category left. He's hoping for all three of his boys to be in the final. Never gonna happen. This week Luke was invited to meet Seal. Seal doesn't say much so we'll move on.
I've told you before, Friend, I do not care to look at your face on the huge screens behind you. Stop it. It's pretty good vocally though.
Sharon thinks the song was huge and that if Keith Richards could sing, he'd sound like Luke. Someone from the audience heckles her and she spins round to say, "Don't you dare swear at me, young man." and later tells 'that dirty man' to 'go home'. Gary praises Luke for doing his own version. Nicole then comes out with the insightful gem, "Your voice ... reminds me of your hair" (because it's organic, real, has grown through the competition and has just enough grit and dirt to make her like it). Obviously. Loius then talks a bit but he can't top Scherzinger's comment.

Sam Bailey. Will My Love Grow?
Sam had an amazing week meeting Michael Bolton and Celine Dion, but pops home for 'jam tart Wednesday'. I've probably said it before but I friggin love this woman.
Again, someone HAS to sign her up if she doesn't win this. It makes for a rather dull bloglet, but there's nothing to criticise, dammit!
Gary's shaking his head. He describes it as another incredible performance and assures us that Sam will sell records. Nicole calls it an epic performance (bit of a pet peeve of mine, calling stuff 'epic'). Loius tells Sam she's a world class vocalist. Sharon wants us to vote for her.

Rough Copy. Viva La Vida
This week RC got the opportunity to perform with Gary. Blimey - actual singing practise? Whoa.
I like these three. Let's face it, I like most of them apart from Callahan. They sound really good together, even when they're bouncing round the stage.
Nicole says they never disappoint but that tonight's performance was a bit 'vanilla' and she wanted some 'chocolate'. Louis loves their style and swagger. Sharon calls him ridiculous and says that RC's version was great (I didn't think it wasn't different to the original at all). Gary loves them.

Brace yourselves everyone, Callahan's up next.

Sam Callahan. Faith.
Sam has watched the show back and thinks he's taken more of a battering than anyone else. Sam doesn't really understand why Gary doesn't like him. I'm pretty sure he's told you it's because you're not as good as everyone else, sonny.
Sam makes me nervous. He has a shaky start, where he doesn't quite get the rhythm right and then he looks absolutely petrified, and I can't relax. The vocals are alright. Just alright though.
Sharon praises Sam's bravery for doing things his way, but says that his face looked defeated and scared stiff. Gary didn't love the performance but then goes on what can only be described as a 'positivity rant'. Nicole calls him a fighter. Louis claims that Sam gives him 150% every week.

Tamera Foster. Diamonds Are Forever.
Tamera loved big band week but Sharon told her she needs to add more passion. She was apparently planning to sing Bohemian Rhapsody. I would have loved to see how she interpreted that!
The lower notes at the beginning kind of disappear and then - disaster! - she forgets the lyrics. She recovers well though and finishes strongly.
Louis thinks it was an unusual song choice. Sharon thinks it was bitter sweet because it was her best performance but she forgot the lyrics and didn't know how to hide that fact. Gary's waiting for Tamera to steal the show. Nicole thinks she handled forgetting the lyrics pretty well.

Nicholas McDonald. Someone Like You.
Nicholas is rather enjoying the female attention that him being on the show has produced.
Excellent song choice. He sings it beautifully. A little less of the face acting would be nice, but it's a beautiful performance.
Sharon says that every week Nicholas delivers. Gary wants Nicholas to turn up the individuality knob up a bit. Nicole wants Nicholas to sing to her everyday. Louis says it was the vocal performance of the night.

My prediction for the bottom two: Tamera and Sam C.

Saturday 9 November 2013

X Factor 2013 (9th November)

It's big band night. Dermot's wearing a bowler hat. I would suggest he finds a larger one - this one's somewhat perched on top of his head.

The judges enter to loud applause. Nicole is wearing an exceedingly yellow dress.

Abi Alton. That's Life.
Abi thinks that all her experience of gigging in pubs has helped her in the competition so far. She is very excited about performing with an orchestra tonight.
Abi's decided to swap her usual headband for a giant white flower. She's also ditched the glasses. It's all rather classy really. Unfortunately for Abi, she doesn't really have a big, powerful voice like other contestants on the show - she's better off when it's just her singing with a piano accompaniment.
Louis says it was a good song choice but that she got swamped by the big band. I agree - curses. Sharon expects more sassyness (my spell-check tries to tell me that 'sassyness' isn't a word. Silly spell-check, Mrs O. said it so it must be real). Gary says he worries about Abi but that he didn't need to. Nicole claims that Abi is sasstastic (again, spell-check takes issue).

Sam Bailey. New York.
Sam liked disco week (last week) but her highlight was getting a tweet from Michael Bolton. Seriously, she actually cried. Imagine what a wreck she'd be if he turned up at the door.
Bolton turns up at the door. Sam is a wreck.
Sam's absolutely got the voice for big band (I'm having to try really hard not to type 'big bang' - apologies if I fail at some point). Bloody hell she's got a pair of lungs on her. Bolton's bound to tweet her again after this performance.
Gary thinks Sam's vocal range gets bigger and bigger. Nicole says that it was exactly how the song should be sung. Louis says Sam is the one to beat in the competition. Sharon calls it stunning and says that Ozzy is watching and will be proud of them both.

Nicholas McDonald. Dream A Little Dream.
Nicholas is a little nervous about performing with a big band because 'they know what they're doing.' Bless, even Nicholas admits he's clueless.
Well if he didn't already have it, he's won the Mum vote - sensible suit, sensible hair, generally nice boy. The vocals are pretty much perfect - very nice, controlled performance. He should get through to next week easily enough.
Sharon thinks his hair is stunning and fabulous (it's just gelled - calm down). Gary says Nicholas is very consistent and reminds us he is 'only 16'. Nicole's full of praise. Louis claims that Nicholas didn't know the song when he told him he'd be singing it. I'm not surprised - he's a moron.

Nicole's family in the audience. Quite far back in the audience, so not very close family.

Luke Friend. Moondance.
Luke's rather surprised he's still in the competition. He went home this week, back to the place where he used to busk - outside Exeter Cathedral, which is exciting! (I went to uni there.)
For a second I think Luke's chopped all his hair off, but it's okay folks, the matted fur ball is still there (it's just tied up). The vocals are a little shaky at times. It sounds like he's rushing a bit, but he belts out some massive notes towards the end and the audience loves it.
Sharon thinks it's fabulous and gives him 110 for effort (does she get away with that one by not saying percent, Philly?) Gary was disappointed, I'd agree actually. He says the trick to big band music is being behind the music and that Luke was ahead of it all the way through. I keep saying it, but if they want me to judge this next year I could TOTALLY do it. Nicole agrees with Gary. Louis says that these people don't realise Luke was a busker in Devon. Well yes they do, Walsh, it was in his intro video.

Hannah Barrett. This Is A Man's World.
Hannah's been on vocal rest this week. This does not bode well for big band week.
Phew, vocal rest has been good for Hannah - she sounds fantastic as normal. She's another one who absolutely has a big band voice. It's so good it sounds like she's been performing in front of millions for years. 
Louis nit-picks about whether the song was big band. Sharon wants Hannah to smile because she's on the telly. Gary loves her voice. Nicole says Hannah was 'preaching' and 'owning' it while being cool as a cucumber.

Rough Copy. Hit The Road Jack.
Gary: "You're my best act by far. Oh, you're my only act."
Geez, calm down. This week Gary took RC go-karting. He's got a lot of time on his hands now with only one group to mentor.
After a lame start with two members of the group starting in the audience, things pick up. It's not the best performance of the night, but neither is it the worst.
Nicole says that if RC isn't in the final three of the show ... and then doesn't finish the sentence so we're left wondering what will happen if they're not in the final. Sharon praises Gary for the fantastic arrangement of the song. Gary thanks them for a great performance.

Tamera Foster. Cry Me A River.
Tamera was apparently in the bottom two last week (I don't tend to watch the hour-long faff show that is the Sunday results programme), which is just ridiculous. Clearly Sam Callahan should be in the bottom two, with himself (sorry, I dislike him that much).
Bloody loud fireworks outside distract me from Tamera's performance so I'm a skip right ahead to judges' thoughts.
Louis thinks she's a diva. Sharon wants more passion from Tamera. Gary says we all take Tamera for granted. Nicole says the performance was mesmerising. 

Sam Callahan. Aint That A Kick In The Head.
Sam's starting to feel like Gary's punch bag. That's because you're not very good vocally, Callahan, and this is a singing competition.
I love this song. I am therefore apprehensive about Sam ruining it. The choreography's pretty good, the vocals are okay - they're certainly not great or anything approaching the original though. 
Sharon congratulates Sam for still being in the competition. Gary: "You looked like you had a good time up there, well done." End of Barlow critique because Barlow clearly doesn't want to be too negative this week. Dermot picks up on this and Gary offers nothing more. Hashtag awkward.

No flash vote, so that's the end of the show and, therefore, the bloglet. Byeeeee!