Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas, my friends

It's Christmas Eve. For most people, the kids are sleep, the presents are wrapped, the egg is nogged, the dishes are done. For some of us, the party is not quite over. For others, we sit and await for our relatives to arrive, yet, for others, they will be celebrating Christmas alone.

I'm a member of Clay Nation and I want to reflect back on what this year has wrought and what Clay Aiken has given me.

In March, I earned a promotion. I've wanted to leave my previous position for about two years, but you had to have a securities license to do my old job and I was the only person with a license so I was kind of stuck. I liked my old job but I was bored after over eight years. After talking with my Supervisor, I received a chance to interview for another position and I got the job.

My new job has been challenging but I love it. It's not what I thought as a teen I'd be doing when I was grown, but it's a good job with lots of responsibility.

Why am I telling you this? It has to do with Clay. Although I missed him like crazy the first half of the year, his absence gave me a breather to concentrate on my new job. You see, when Clay is in the spotlight, or when he is tourng, it seems that my life takes a backseat to the joy, the excitement, and the happiness I feel when interacting with the Clay Nation.

I will forever be grateful to Clay Aiken for giving me riches beyond what I ever thought I would have. Riches of happiness and friendship, riches of a community born on February 28, 2003, after seeing this skinny kid, all arms and elbows, stand before the judges on American Idol and sing these 19 words:

Take time to tell me
You really care
And we'll share tomorrow
Baby, I'll always love you

How can one predict when a moment would change a life? Especially such an inauspicious moment as a nineteen word audition? The past almost four years have taught me to be a better person. Yes, that's a very trite saying, in fact, doesn't it come from 'Dirty Dancing'? But sometimes the most simplictic sayings are the most prophetcetical <---- I just made that word up. Go, me!

So, how could a pop singer make me a better person? It was only partly Clay's fault. During and after American Idol, hundreds of thousands of Clay's fans went hunting for him on the internet and, if they were very lucky, they found the Clay message boards. I was a computer neophyte, only using it for e-mails and to surf because I had just purchased my first home and I wanted to re-do the entire property, and where better to get decorating and landscaping tips than HGTV?

So I searched for those message boards and in April, 2003, I found them and I started to make friends. On the computer. Who'da thunk it? I still remember some of those early fans that welcomed me to this new kind of neighborhood. Laynie, my very first, and still, internet friend, Podsoda, who embraced me with open arms. Liska and Browneyes from the 'Look what Love has Done' organization, the very first independent fund-raising arm of, eventually, the BAF. YouStopRightNow, who's warm personality takes everyone in, and others too numerous to mention.

There were posters on the boards who scared me because they were so wicked smart and snarky, and would debate an issue, so you'd better be prepared to defend your convictions. Clawme, dee_ayy, Tagalong, Clay4me, Recgirl, JessieFaerie, Candi, Pink, LadyofLorien, Jules, Christie, NorthernKitten, Horse, Lessa, I know I'm forgetting many, but to my fellow ClayWhores, I celebrate and honor you, for without you, I wouldn't have discovered talents that lay dormant.

Who would have guessed that I had a little bit of talent for writing. I never wrote anything in my life except for some music. Words? And a theme? Not me. But by partaking on one of the smaller message boards, I learned how to write, how to express my thoughts in a coherent and rational way, how to debate and defend, and most importantly, how to read others' points of view. To consider them, then either accept or reject them. This small board taught me that it's OK to change my position if I find an arguement than makes more sense then mine. Thank you.

To Clay Aiken. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for being you. Warm, loving, kind. For opening your heart to children the world over; founding The Bubel/Aiken foundation, treating people the same, no matter what their disability, inside or out; for being the kind of person who inspires this devotion that your fans feel for you; for being the catalyst that brought us all together, from all over the world, in friendship and community.

For this holiday season and the rest of your life, I wish you joy. I hope you find joy in your family, your career, your friends, your fans, and God willing, joy with your future family. I celebrate you and I thank you for the time of my life. Merry Christmas, Clay.

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Sunday, December 17, 2006

Respect.... thy name is Clay Aiken

I, along with thousands of other Clay fans, witnessed something this weekend that I'll never forget. I witnessed a courage that one doesn't see much of anymore. I witnessed committment, I witnessed a professional musician doing his job regardless of circumstances.

I witnessed Clay Aiken sing with vertigo.

ver·ti·go: [vur-ti-goh]
–noun, plural ver·ti·goes, ver·tig·i·nes
1. Pathology. a dizzying sensation of tilting within stable surroundings or of being in tilting or spinning surroundings.

2. a reeling sensation; a feeling that you are about to fall

3. a disordered state which is associated with various disorders (as of the inner ear) and in which the individual or the individual's surroundings seem to whirl dizzily

A singer uses many different tools in producing a sound, including the sinus cavities, vocal chords, throat, and ears, to get the resonating tones they need to vocalize. To be successful, all these things need to work in unison. When one of the aforementioned is unavailable, singing is much, much more difficult, out-of-kilter, if you will.

Clay has vertigo. It started at the Long Island show. How he managed to not only perform, but to put on a show that was every bit as entertaining as his previous shows during this tour is beyond me. Most performers would have cancelled. Most performers would have put themselves before their audience and fans. Most performers wouldn't even THINK of going on stage, much less try to give as good as, if not better than, the night before, and the night before that, and the night before that.

Not Clay Aiken.

Clay chose to go on that night. Clay chose to NOT cancel. Clay chose to give everything he had to entertain his fans. Not only did he choose to do that on Thursday evening in Long Island, but also on Friday night at West Point, and Saturday night in Red Bank. What I witnessed on Friday and Saturday night left me humbled.

Humbled by Clays courage, his tenacity, his professionalism, his integrity, his complete disregard of his health as to not disappoint his fans. I witnessed a tour-de-force of a performance where Clay definitely struggled with his vertigo, his vision, his balance. Where he would hold on to either the mic stand or the stool with a death grip that turned his knuckles white. Yet he didn't falter, he didn't give up, he didn't quit. In fact, those performances are every bit as good as any other performance he has ever given.

In Long Island, Clay sang what is his most difficult song to date, 'All is Well'. He is visually struggling with his vertigo, death grip on the stool, yet this performance is so powerful that it defies description.

The Clay Aiken that I've followed for the past almost four years has, with the past several performances, changed how I look at him. I see in him a courage that I always knew was there, but this is taking it to a whole new level. I've always looked at Clay through the eyes of love, yeah, corny, I know, but I love him. Now, I see him with a respect that is so profound and deep, it defies description. I've tried to put into words in this blog how I feel and I fear I have fallen short of the mark, but all I can do is try. That's what Clay Aiken does every day of his life. How can I do any less?

Thanks to the following Clack Gatherers who took these amazing photos: MnM, ScrpKym, Invisible926.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

All is Well....maybe

I thought it was time to put a period to Handgate. After all, it seems that Clay moved on and so should we. That is, until I found this on YouTube. The first 35 or so seconds are about Kid Rock and Pam Anderson...let it run through that, then listen to this guy's take on the entire incident.

It just warms the cold cockles of my itty, bitty heart to have some stranger see what we saw during that show.

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Friday, November 24, 2006

Kelly're a foolish, foolish woman

Kelly Ripa, you're a foolish, foolish woman. Let me tell you about the man you ranted over for two days.

This is from Clayzedover, who attended the Regis and Kelly Show. I was there also, and I regret that we didn't get to meet her that day.

I attended the Clay/Kelly show today with my brother who uses a motorized wheelchair, and wish I could tell you more about what went on. They sat him in a corner of the studio in front of the regular seats, and next to a corridor where people congregated and communicated during the show. We were surrounded by camera and craft persons. The large floor camera in front of us, hand held cameras to the side of us, technicians laying and removing cables, as well as by various office-types associated with the show.

All of this was compounded by the need to place stage props, like the high desk, in front of us as well to accommodate the dancers. Am not complaining here, really, just want to give you a "feel" for the atmosphere inside the TV studio. Tickets are free, we got in, and life is good.

I do want people to know about what I witnessed. Clay passed by my brother as he entered that corridor to talk with someone, and again as he came back to the stage. He had to wait for a cue from the director during the dance routines. Not making any kind of deal about it, he quickly knelt down on one knee, waiting for his cue. The first time, I thought it strange because nobody else took that position. They just stood and congregated behind him in front of us, blocking the view. A few minutes later, it happened again. But the second time, others took his lead and knelt down so those behind them could see.

Editing to add this disclaimer from Clayzedover:

I want to clarify that it was a zoo in the studio that day. The crew was only doing their job; they accommodated us as best they could, placing him in what is apparently the designated wheelchair area. That day, there was only so much space to work with, especially because of the dancers. It was the outsiders that seemed to disregard the person in the wheelchair, but it was Clay who took the initiative, kneeling next to the floor camera so that the person could see. It was a simple act by a very compex man who teaches respect by quiet example.

Ms. Ripa, here is a shining example of the kind of man that Clay Aiken is. He quietly goes around thinking of others. He doesn't shout it from the rooftops, he doesn't toot his own horn, he respectfully and gently leads by example. Your show chose to put a person who happens to be in a wheelchair in a spot with an obstructed view. Your show then proceeded to obstruct the view of the person in the wheelchair with people, go-fers, and equipment. Your show didn't think enough of that person to provide him with a decent place to sit so he could enjoy the entire show the way the rest of the audience did.

Clay Aiken saw that man and knelt down when he was in front of him so the audience member could see the show. Clay Aiken is the one who instinctively knew what to do and by example, the staff of the R&K show followed suit.

You said Clay was rude. You said Clay was disrespectful. You said Clay was hostile. All I have to do is read about Clay kneeling down instead of standing in front of a man in a wheelchair. That tells me all I need to know about how Clay respects others. It also tells me all I need to know about how the Regis and Kelly Show respects the members of their audience....ALL members of their audience, not just the able-bodied ones.

I'll take Clay Aiken's brand of respect over yours any day of the week.

Oh, and you're still not off the hook. Hypocrite.

If you'd rather have Simon Cowell's hand over your mouth than Clay Aiken's hand, I question your sanity. Oh, wait...I already do.

Let's see where Clay's hands have been, Ms. Ripa

Where have YOUR hands been?

Thank you to Clayzedover for sharing her story.

This blog is soley the OPINION of the writer.

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Kelly Ripa...a coward by any other name

From the sublime to the ridiculous................

You know what pisses me off? When someone doesn't have the balls to stand behind their convictions and takes the cowardly way out. Case in point - Kelly Ripa and her unprofessional rant about how Clay Aiken treated her on Friday's show.

I was in the audience on Friday. I witnessed the entire show up close and personal from the very first moment Clay and Kelly entered the sound stage to the very last moment when the audience coordinators ushered us out of the studio.

The first twenty minutes was a snark-fest from BOTH Kelly and Clay. She ripped on him, he ripped right back. Hummmmm....maybe that's why she's so pissed, because Clay Aiken gave back just as much as he took. Come to think of it, he gave back more! That is one freaking funny guy. Kelly zinged Clay and Clay zinged right back. He was funnier than she was. He was quicker than she was, and he was way more entertaining than she was.

I'm starting to see a plot here. Could it be that Kelly felt upstaged? I guess that would be enough to get your dander up when the guest host is funnier than the host. The first twenty minutes had me rolling in the aisles and clutching my sides from laughter. Watch it again:

Clay did what he was hired to do, play host and make the show entertaining. And he did a better job than Ripa. To the studio audience, they were having a blast together. So, what happened?

Kelly and Clay sat down to interview Emmitt Smith and Cheryl Burke. Both of them had small cue cards in their hands with the questions they were supposed to ask Emmitt and Cheryl. Kelly asked her question, then another, then another, then another until Clay started to feel uncomfortable. Maybe uncomfortable isn't the correct word. How about we use 'third wheel' instead? So he tried to get his questions in. How? By putting his hand over Kelly's mouth in a joking manner. Obviously Kelly didn't like it and made it known in no uncertain terms. Immediately, when Clay realized that Kelly didn't like that, he immediately stopped and was contrite, while still trying to make a light moment out of the incident. They both moved on to the interviews and the dancing and then it ended.

The audience loved the show. There were Clay fans there, Kelly fans, Dancing with the Stars fans, Emmitt fans, Mario fans, all sorts of fans in attendance and we were ALL entertained and we ALL had a good time.

So what happened? Why did Kelly Ripa go ballistic on Clay's ass? What possessed her to be so unprofessional as to air this publicly? When Clay couldn't defend himself?


Kelly Ripa is such a coward that she didn't or wouldn't say to his face what she used her TV show for...a bully pulpit. She deliberately used a forum where Aiken couldn't fight back. Where he had no opportunity to explain what happened.


And then to turn it around and say that Clay disrespected her through out the entire show? What the fuck has she been smoking? Maybe she'd better eat a sandwich or something because, seriously, the lack of calories is affecting what little gray matter she has in that freakishly large head of hers.


To compound her bullying, she called in to The View today and when Rosie called her homophobic, Ripa back-peddled so hard she left skid marks on the floor. Tried to turn it into a 'I don't want to get the flu or germs' rant. Bullshit, Ripa. Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit. So, not only is she a coward, she's a liar, too.



Kelly Ripa acted unprofessional, catty, unclassy, and crass. If she really thought that Clay Aiken crossed a line, she should have had the fortitude, the guts, and the balls to call him on it in private, to not air her dirty laundry in public, to not make a fool and a spectacle of herself. That she didn't, speaks volumes to me.

When someone has a guest in their home, their job is to make that guest feel comfortable. If the guest puts his foot in his mouth, or if the guest makes a fax paux, the job of the host or hostess is to put the guest at ease, to make that guest feel welcome. Ripa displayed manners that belong more in a barn than on TV.

Clay made a mistake, but Ripa compounded it with her disgraceful behavior. She ought to be ashamed. At the very least, she owes him a public apology




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Sunday, November 19, 2006

Clay Aiken: Of jewels, and stars, and snowflakes....and other precious things

Sometimes, something that a fan writes on a message board or in a private blog so clearly defines a sentiment about Clay that it's impossible to not think about what that poster expressed. When something is that good, it makes one think, it makes one feel, and it makes one feel very lucky that Clay Aiken has come into our lives.

This is one of those Rockysmom

Of jewels, and stars, and snowflakes....and other precious things

Tiffany's...ah yes Tiffanys. The mothership for those of us who enjoy drooling over the best life has to offer. Only things of the finest quality are connected with that little pale blue box tied with white ribbon. Solid platinum, pure gold, diamonds without flaw-sparkling in their brilliance, shooting off sparks of multi-colored light.

How appropriate then, that they were the retailer associated with the UNICEF Snowflake lighting ceremony in NYC Saturday night.

Platinum - check
Pure gold - check
Flawless, sparkling brilliance - check again

And organization dedicated to helping children world-wide, whose mission is to nurture and protect the littlest among us...decided to join with Tiffanys and light an enormous snowflake made of thousands upon thousands of the purest and most expensive Baccarat crystal to start the holiday season of love and hope and joy and giving.

A snowflake....each one is different, each one is special, each one is unique...every one is something this world will never see the likes of again.

So UNICEF asked one of their ambassadors to join them in a little ceremony to light this snowflake. A young man whose eyes have not only seen the devastation from a tsunami in Indonesia and witnessed the unspeakable horrors of a nation torn by decades of civil war ...but who has also seen his only brother leave not once, but twice for military duty in possibly the most dangerous spot on this planet. And his eyes have also been forced to look upon the most vindictive, despicable lies spewed out of nothing but pure hatred and selfish greed.

A young man who--like that pure, sparkling crystal in the air above him--has been subjected to the fires....and emerged from them as a thing of unspeakable beauty.

In NYC tonight....

There is the light of a brilliant star
One made of many facets of the purest shining crystal
One that is meant to be a symbol of hope for all the world's children
One that is beautiful and precious beyond compare

It's not the one made of Baccarat and suspended high above the streets
it's the one we know and love and hold dearly in our hearts

You're beautiful, Clay...inside and out....and the world is just beginning to see what we've known all along

Many thanks to Getty Images for providing the beautiful picture of Clay.

Many thanks to the Clack Gatherers who provide the candid pictures of Clay.

Many thanks to Rockysmom for writing this beautiful tribute to a beautiful man. I'm proud to call you friend.

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Friday, November 10, 2006

How I purchased MCWL and avoided a heart attack

Two years ago, next week, Clay released his Christmas CD, Merry Christmas, with Love, and his book, Learning to Sing. This is my account of purchasing the new and beautimongeous clack. I did not pull any punches with my language. In other words, I did not clean it up. Heh. Enjoy the trip down memory lane...........

Don't people realize that by getting in between me and new Clack that they are manifesting a death wish??? Huh? HUH?

I leave work about 10 minutes later than I planned. Get in the car and make my way through rush-hour traffic towards the thruway. I note, as I pass over the highway, that the cars are barely moving, I see flashing lights up the road. Idiots. Daring to get in an accident when fresh Clack is near???

I desperately maneuver my car into the left lane to detour through the rich, high-class neighborhood situated on a two lane, macadam road. Past kids and school buses. Get off the road!!!! Clack is here! Like a hyena smelling a scent, I took off down the road, listening to the Demo CD, awash in the glory of The VOX. Get to the first light and sit. And sit. And sit. I sat through 4 freaking light changes. Meantime, my desperation is growing, I need my fix. Like a two-bit junkie, I start to hyper-ventilate, my groans turn to screams as the words, "Why the hell aren't you moving" escape from my mouth at a decibel previously unknown to mankind, a look of terror on my face as visions of a clackless store dance in my head.

The light turns green and as I step on the gas, the car in front of me starts to brake. For no reason. There is no light, there is no traffic. There are no cars in front of her. La-di-da, for a lark, this freaking car brakes on and off, for no reason, for the next.two.miles. Almost went all Clay Aiken fan all over her ass.

Finally I get to the third leg of the journey. Turn left and tear-ass down the road towards Wal-Mart. Pull into the parking lot and by the divine providence of the Gods, a car pulls out and I whip my Ford Escort into the vacated spot, just two spaces from the front door.

I turn the engine off and just sit for a minute or two, taking deep breaths, trying to compose my racing heart. Trying not to leap out of the car and run into the store jumping and screaming and yelling, "I love Clay freaking Aiken". Nope, wasn't gonna go there.

I get out of the car, walk to the doors and grab a cart. Freaking cart wouldn't come out of the cart conga-line. I ripped that sucker out with a look of desperation on my face, start to push it in the store and realized the wheels were all fucked up and out of alignment. I slammed that cart back into the conga-line like a woman possessed and grabbed another one. Luckily for the cart, this one worked alright.

I walk to the electronics department, trying not to skip for joy and look for THE CD. It's not there! My eyes dart left and right, my head whips around faster than Linda Blair's while spewing green pea soup. I see the 'new release' bin and I'm there faster than a duck on a June bug. Search for boyfriend and finally, after my long-ass wait, spy him in a primo location, the two left upper bins. A sigh of relief escapes my lips as I gaze upon the most gorgeous sight of Clack. Wonderful Clack. Glorious Clack. I pull two of those babies off the shelf and reverently put them in my cart. I look at the other CD's and notice that Destiny's Child is not selling, Live is selling, and boyfriend has one bin half empty.

Furtively glancing around to see who's staring at me, I casually re-arrange the display to boyfriend's advantage. Bought a CD cleaner disk and some blank tapes so I can listen to Clack my CD-less car.

Off to find the book, I head towards the books and magazine section. Wait. It's not there. The area is filled with Rubbermaid, freaking Rubbermaid. Storage bins, trash cans, dish drainers, laundry baskets, but no freaking Clack. Aarrgghh!

Frantically, I dart up one aisle and down the other, looking, looking, looking, and I spy the paperbacks. I was there faster than Clay Aiken talks, faster than a starving penquin on a french fry, faster than a Claymate spying Jerome at the bus.

My eyes dart spastically around the rows of books, left and right, up and down, until I see it! THE book in all it's glory. Boyfriend staring back at me with bedroom eyes, inviting me into his world. I come. Into his world, I mean. Yeah. I come. Alas, no audio book.

As the checker is ringing me up, she remarks, "Oh, I didn't know he had a book out". I told her today was the release date and after educating her in all things Aiken, I happily leave the store, my precious cargo in hand.

Get back in my car to go to B&N for the audio because there's nothing like Clay whispering in your ear as you come. Into his world, I mean. Yeah.

I drive down the brand new highway and get off at the B&N exit and slam on my brakes. Ahead of me are thousands of cars, waiting for the light to turn green. So I brake to a stop and wait. And wait. And wait. I wait at least 10 minutes because apparently the fucking designers of the brand new freaking highway don't have the foresight to plan for traffic around a brand new Mall at the holiday gift-giving season.

As I wait, I think of this morning's news story about automobile head rests and how they don't really protect you from whiplash. As I wait. And wait. And wait...I test my headrest, while watching the cars screech to a stop behind me on the rapidly backing-up exit ramp. Yeah, in an accident, I'm fucked. I'll have the worse case of whiplash ever.

As I pull in the parking lot at B&N, again, by Clack design, a car pulls out and I pop in the space, just two spaces away from the front door. I casually saunter in and look around. I don't see the book. It's not up front. It's not in the second section. It's not with the best sellers. I start to panic. My heart beats faster. The sweat pops out on my brow. Don't they realize that boyfriend deserves to be front and center? I walk towards the middle where the cash registers are and spy a table where a lot of books are lying down. I see a familiar cover. Bedroom eyes, inviting me, tantalizing me, wanting me. I walk over and serependitiously pick one up, open it and place it so it's standing up. The only book on the table that's standing up. I do it to another, and another, and soon, there are quite a few Clay Aikens staring at me, all with those bedroom eyes. Life is good.

I had to reserve one of the two audio books they have on order. Don't know when boyfriend will be speaking to me, but when he does, when he invites me into his world with those bedroom eyes staring at me, I'm going to come. Into his world, I mean. Yeah.

Let's listen to Clay sing Christmas like nobody else on the planet can. The first and last song are from his Christmas CD and the second song is a very special tribute video'ed in Raleigh, NC at the Christmas show. Clay sang it for his grandfather (Papa) who has Alzheimer's, a disease that afflicts many of our senior citizens, my father included.

Don't Save it All for Christmas Day by Spotlightlover

Oh, Beautiful Star of Bethlehem, Clay's tribute to his Papa by Aflack

Winter Wonderland

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Thursday, November 02, 2006

Clay Aiken...good to see you after so long

Well, I've been very busy since my last update but I should be able to get here more often now.

I was at GMA on September 19th to see Clay. They let us in the studio around 7:30 - 8:00 and then moved us all around. First we stood here, then we stood there, then we were moved back again, then again. I finally ended up on Clay's left side, against the wall. It was a good spot.

The audience coordinator asked us to cheer for Patrick Dempsey, Dr. McDreamy. Well, cheer we did and he came in and was better looking in person than he is on TV. Gah! If Clay and Patrick spent time together in the green room, there was w-a-y too much pretty in that room. Patrick came up to me and shook my hand and looked into my eyes. I didn't see the clip until this past Saturday and I realized one thing.....ain't no talent scout gonna call me to be a TV Star. Oh, man, I looked AWFUL on TV, just AWFUL. The lights were so bright and of course, I didn't have TV make-up on so the 'hills and valleys' of my face stood in stark relief to each other, making me look ghoulish. Clay is very lucky that he's so photogenic.

Anyway, he was cute and funny and charming and you know, he sings real good *g* Watch both performances again.

Without You:

And 'A Thousand Days' videographed by the ever taltented and lovely SecretlyovesClay:

It was so good seeing Clay again. I hadn't seen him since December 10th, 2005 at the Tweeter Center in Camden. That was nine months too long.

I freaking love Clay Aiken.

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Friday, September 15, 2006

The Eve of your 1st CD release – part 2

This was written just before Clay's first CD, Measure of a Man was released in October, 2003. No one knew how he'd sell, if he'd sell, and what kind of career he would have. Three years later, the interest in Clay is still rabid, still intense, and he's still a pop icon. Clay, I hope your new CD, A Thousand Different Ways, is a success beyond your wildest dreams. You deserve it.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Hey, Clay,

How're you doing? Yes, it's that time again. Here we are, your internet fans, downloading like crazy. One of the Raleigh stations is playing your CD and we got to hear a lot of the songs a little early. The consensus? Wow, your CD is going to be HUGE! What a terrific collection of songs and what a wonderful vehicle for your amazing voice. It seems the background music is just right, not too loud and not too overpowering. We can't wait until October 14th. Of course, everyone has their different points of view on which song they like the most. One of the internet favorites is The Way. We think that will be a hit, it would certainly make a GREAT song for a movie. Actually, I don't want to talk about the songs on the CD until next week, after the official release date. Just be prepared for all of us to let you know what we think. We always do, you know?

We are also gearing up for all your appearances on TV in the next week.
It's kind of like a feeding frenzy on the boards, everyone is so excited.

The CD Release parties are in their final preparation of planning. The venues are secured, the entertainment is your music, the TVs are all set up to see you on Leno and we've been faxing our phone numbers to JoJo in hopes that we can talk to you live during the parties on his radio show. Come on, Clay, talk to us! We hear that Raleigh is going to have over 2,000 people there. Wow!

A quick re-cap of Time magazine and the reaction it got. By now, we all know that Diane Bubel told you about Operation Vanilla. By now, we all read your e-mailed response that you allowed her to share with us. Yes, we love Diane. Our reaction? First, a collective THANK YOU for FINALLY talking to your internet fans. Second, it's about time, Clay, what the heck took you so long (and how much longer will we have to wait for another e-mail from the exalted one?) Third, we all think that Operation Vanilla was the absolute single most brilliant stunt ever pulled by fans of an entertainer. EVER! It was timely, it was subtle, it was snarky, it was a classy way to get our point across. We also understand that the targeted RCA executives LOVED it, they got it. Let's hope that in the future, their remarks are a little more respectful towards you, because if not, I shudder to think of what would be next in store for them We all bow down in gratitude and awe of the PRoC'ers (that's the People's Republic of Clay) who launched and carried out the greatest come-back in the history of Clay fandom.

The PrimeTime Live interview.
Now, you know we all love Diane, we adore Diane, we worship Diane. Why? Because Diane takes care of you. Diane asks the right questions, she does not hesitate to ask the hard questions, but always in a respectful way. You were terrific on PrimeTime Live, just terrific. We learned some things that we never knew about your family life, and while you lived through some tough times, we think you are stronger for it. We are sad about everything that you've gone through but we especially admire how you seem to handle it and put it in perspective. You've stolen our hearts all over again.

Oh, and just a little side note, we do NOT think you are perfect, far from it. We hear you have a temper (and I bet the KFC person could verify that!) and even though you've used the F word, you don't like people cussing. That's cool. Oh, and the hunt is on for the person who told you that Invisible needed work. We think we know who it was and we hope you took it in the spirit it was meant to be, that the recorded version was very different than the live version. We REALLY liked the live version, but we think it's because we could watch you doing all the WMS (Weapons of Mass Seduction) moves, the clutch, the yank and the tug, combined with the hip shakes. Yeah, that's what we liked...the hip shakes. What the heck does Simon know, anyway?

We are thankful that you care enough to share your vulnerability with us. That's one of the reasons we love you so much, you open yourself up to people. That's a rare quality in a person, so thank you for that. We agree with Diane in that we don't think your skin's so thick, either. You wear your emotions on your sleeve, and that's a good thing. Clay, we think you were courageous to go on national television and speak as candidly as you did about things that are so personal to you and your family.

And we're still waiting for our private rendition of Moon River, what happened to it?
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Monday I am leaving for NYC to attend the NYC CD Release party, then head to Virgin Megastore for a listening party, grab a few hours sleep, then go to Good Morning America. What an eventful two days next week will bring. I can't wait!

Come on, Aiken, bring it on!

The second to last picture credit goes to the lovely Galrow.

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Friday, September 08, 2006

On the Eve of your First CD Release

In about ten days, Clay Aiken will release his second mainstream album, 'A Thousand Different Ways'. It is his third album, if you include his Christmas CD, 'Merry Christmas, With Love'. The Clay Nation is gearing up for it by participating in nationwide CD Release parties on the eve of the release, Monday, September 18, 2006. These parties are a grassroots initiative put together soley by the fans of Clay Aiken. Read the press release that was picked up on

So, I thought I'd revisit a journal I wrote in October, 2003, about the excitement the Clay Nation felt on the eve of Clay's first CD release.
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The Eve of your 1st CD release – part 1
Hey, Clay,

How's it going? Boy, in the next week or so, you're doing a slew of media appearances, a lot of interviews, a bunch of print articles, a PrimeTime Live special with the lovely Diane. I imagine your life is pretty crazy right about now. And to top everything off, your first CD release is just around the corner.

Are you scared? Apprehensive? Excited? Nervous? I'm all of the above. I think most of your internet fans are all of the above, too. It's not that we doubt you, far from it. It's that we want so much for you.

We want you to have the most successful debut CD release in the history of the music industry. Not too much pressure, huh?

We saw you on Nickelodeon, heck, we not only saw you, we downloaded your performances and discussed them ad naseum. Actually, Clay, not only did we tape your performances, we also taped the commercials you made promoting the event! We came to the conclusion that you looked great, you sounded great, and we loved your outfit. We loved seeing your debut of 'I Will Carry You'. We watched 'Invisible' and we waited to see if you would do a clutch, tug and yank. Nope, you did a mini clutch, but the chillrun were present so you left off the, shall we say, more mature posings of the concert moves. And that was OK. We loved you anyway.

We are waiting with anticipation for PrimeTime Live. We saw the commercials and we all thudded when you brought the rose for Diane. Heck, even Diane thudded. We love Diane. Diane is probably the most trusted reporter on the internet right about now. Certainly, she is the most beloved. We trust Diane to do right by you, even with the hard questions. We all want a private rendition of 'Moon River'. And no, Clay, you are definitely NOT a mistake.

We all read the Billboard interview. We all love Fred Bronson. We all love the fact that he asks you questions pertaining to your music, instead of the stupid interview questions you usually get. 'Angsty'. We loved that you used the word angsty. Why? Because it's an internet word. Even you know there's no such word as angsty. Have you been peeking on these boards? 'Fess up, now. If you think that is upset with the album title changes, you have no idea of how it affected your internet fans! Measure of a Man, no title, Clay Aiken, TBD, Measure of a Man. Geesh! You could call it "Clay Aiken sings the Phone Book' and we'll buy it.

On a serious note, no, Clay, you do not have to be perfect all the time. I know if feels as if you have to, sometimes, by reading how we dissect every little thing you do, but that's because we love you so much. Please don't alter your behavior for us, that's not what we want. We want you to be you. And, yes, we DO want to know how you are and we want the half-an-hour answer, thank you very much. Just give any one of us a call and we will be happy to hear your half-an-hour answer. Better yet, just put it in a letter to Nicmike.

As for Solitaire not being on the album, yes, the word has gotten out and some of your internet fans were upset. How did you know? 'Fess up, Aiken, you do surf these boards, don't you? We're glad your family is handling your fame well. I know you're worried about them, but if the way your mother raised you is any indication of how she raised your siblings, all of you will be just fine.

Time Magazine just published the interview and we all read it on-line. Of course, we all wanted you on the cover, but real life has to rear its ugly head and interfere with our Clay fix. There are just some things in this world that are more important than you. Yes, it's hard for us to believe, but there it is. We don't think that RCA came off too well in that interview. You, on the other hand, came across as a strong man who stands up for what he believes in. Good for you! It's about time you stand up for yourself. We love that. One RCA executive, who insisted on anonymity, cited Idol as proof that "Americans have no taste". Thank you. Clay, for standing up for Americans with no taste. We think we have taste, good taste, after all, we love you, don't we?

"You can't be paralyzed by what the public expects of you........and if you allow the television audience to program your music, you will not be on radio and you won't make mtv. And then where are you? We have to stay ahead of the curve." . Well, let's see, 'This is the Night' did not get a lot of airplay, you didn't have a video out for MTV and where did you end up? How about with the best-selling single of the last five years that went platinum in 37 days. Who does Clive think did that for you? Your television and internet fans, that's who. Yes, your music will have to evolve, every artists' music has to evolve, this is only your first CD, Geesh, Clive, give him a little time, won't you? By the way, most of us bought our CD's at Walmart. Why? Because we value a buck and we can save some money buying them at Walmart, and that was the closest store to my house, and the money saved can just go to buy even more Clay music, that's why. Duh!

The Time reporter said that pop isn't just music, it's the package. Don't they realize that there can be different kinds of packages? That most of the American public is tired of the nudity, the bad songs, the talentless singers, the down and dirty sexual innuendos that comprise music today? That someone like you is a breath of fresh air in the jaded world of music? Don't they get it? I guess not. But they will, on October 14th. "They had me in this tight little vintage T shirt and jeans and a leather jacket," . Yeah, but we liked you in that tight little vintage T shirt, the jeans and the leather jacket.

'Do not—ugh!—don't pretend that the public are a bunch of idiots! Don't pretend that you know what they want and they don't know what they want.' That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard in my life!" "America has shown them that they don't know what they're talking about." *Sigh* Did I ever tell you you're my hero?

The marketing department now says its strategy is to "let Clay be Clay." I wonder how much the RCA marketing department is being paid to come up with this innovative and unusual strategy, because your internet fans always knew this but did RCA ever ask us? Nooooooo.....oh, I forgot, we're the great unwashed public with no taste.

”They don't understand the reasons that someone as uncool as me is's a revolution." Clay, I'm going to let you go to bed now, it's late and I'm tired, but I will leave you with this one caveat: When you start your own record company, please, oh please, name it Revolution Records

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Monday, September 04, 2006

Clay Aiken's first album reviews

Reviews for Clay Aiken, in the past, have been all over the place, from Billboard's "Clay Aiken's "Measure of a Man" is the best pop album of 2003" to the New York Daily New's "Not since the heyday of Styx's Dennis DeYoung has pop been tormented by such an adenoidal voice. It's a tinny, nasal whine of a thing". What do I say to the New York Daily News?? Bwahahahaha! Aiken's voice tinny? Whatever the freak planet do they live on?

All the fans wanted from reviews was honesty, not over-the-top praise or criticism based on preconceived perceptions of Clay. It looks as if we finally got that review. The review that is based on the voice and the production, not on the critics prejudices.

This is by Bill Lamb from on Clay's single, 'Without You':

If you are unfamiliar with the song "Without You," you have not been listening to pop radio for the past 35 years. The song, written by Badfinger's Pete Ham and Tom Evans, first appeared as a Badfinger album cut on No Dice released in 1970. Idiosyncratic pop singer Harry Nilsson released a version of the song in 1971 featuring the signature piano intro that would be the standard for future recordings of "Without You." The song became a #1 hit for Nilsson and the biggest pop hit of his career. Mariah Carey took the song back into the pop charts in 1994 with a surprisingly plastic sounding interpretation.

Clay Aiken has chosen the instantly familiar tune as the lead-in for his first proper studio album in 3 years. I count myself as one of the skeptics when I first heard this would be the opening single, but "Without You" is a good choice and will tremendously please his many devoted fans while quite possibly gaining a few new converts.

The pure beauty in Aiken's voice is abundantly showcased here, and the arrangement gives a contemporary twist on the song. The mix is pleasantly propulsive and percussive which will sound great on pop radio. Mainstream pop radio should give this track a chance. It's popularity may surprise more than a few radio programmers.

Simply said, Clay Aiken's "Without You" is a triumphant return. While it would be easy to think that Harry Nilsson and Mariah Carey had wrung all the possibilities from this pop chestnut, there are some fine elements here and a bravura vocal performance.

The beauty and clarity of Clay Aiken's voice
Very nicely propulsive instrumental arrangement
The emotion is restored to this classic song
Please, enunciate - We can do without "Without 'ooo"

Then there's this review from shipwreckislandstudio, a website run by two guys in their 20's who like to talk about good music. Check them out!

I was privileged to listen to Clay's album today and I have to say he's got a winner on his hands. I was a bit put off by the idea of another covers album but he's pulled it off nicely. A classic track such as Bryan Adams "Everything I Do" which I felt couldn't be redone properly is completely retooled and sounds amazing. I'd say the best reinvented track has to be the Celine Dion song "Because You Love Me." I didn't care for the original version but Clay sped up the song and added his own flavor to it making it his own. Now when I first heard about this disc the one song that stood out to me was the Bad English song "When I See You Smile." I read some pretty harsh comments from some fans that in a nutshell said that Clay couldn't pull off this classic track. While it's not quite was redone as other songs, Clay's vocals fit perfectly and with a violin backing really allows the song to breath a bit more. To me Clay pulled this track off with no issues at all.

Honestly, I'm shocked over how good this disc turned out. 17 days to go until it's release but I'll have an album review up before it's release. Everyone is in for a real treat with this release. - Tony

So, the reviews begin. I'm not naive enough to think that Clay will get these kind of reviews forever, but these reviews are at least honest, especially the one from And honesty is all we ask when reviewers review albums, not sticking their own agenda in where it doesn't belong.

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Friday, September 01, 2006

Clay's promotional schedule?

Oh, the joy!

Oh, the angst!

Depending on which board you read, or which poster you read, Clay is either being mentioned all over the place or he has the worst promotion in the world. RCA is either out to destroy him, or out to make money off him.

So which is it? Idle-Wandering and ClaySpots decided to keep track of all the Clay mentions in the media that we could, just for fun. Well, it's a LOT more work than we thought it would be because you see, Clay has been all over the freaking media ever since August 01, 2006. here's list of Clay's media mentions, so far:

Clay's Promotional Schedule

ET: America's Favorite Stars, Clay is #5

OFC: Jaymes Foster confirms album title in blog

Oprah: Wildest Dreams episode repeats

Parade: new look, online poll

07/23/06 ATDW release date will be Sept. 19
picked up in various print and on-line sources

"bad bootleg" surfaces of ATD
OFC: Clay blogs about his photo shoot


OFC: Clay quotes WISYS lyrics in blog

OFC: Clay confirms release date in blog
Promosquad: 'ATD' & 'Suzie duet'
New Music Tipsheet: new release date

Promosquad: 'Without You'
ET: promo for photoshoot exclusive

Amazon and Barnes & Noble: ATDW listed; goes to #2 in music on Barnes & Noble
MySpace: Official Clay Aiken MySpace opens
OFC: announces MySpace
ET exclusive: photoshoot and CD

USA Today: front page of entertainment section with photo
hot library photo appears and is everywhere
PR press release re-done
Amazon and Barnes & Noble: ATDW goes to #1 in music
OFC: video player added

various radio stations mention upcoming CD
25,000 MySpace views
E!News Online
Access Hollywood online

Regis & Kelly: CD
E! Daily10: CD

print and on-line media pick up CD story, including:
Entertainment Weekly Popwatch
Associated Press (Clay-Ruben rematch): this story is picked up by many, many papers and on-line sites

E! News Weekend: CD mention by Ryan Seacrest
Washington Post
The Sun/News-Myrtle Beach Online
St. Louis Dispatch Online
New York Times
Soul Shine magazine
and more...

Promotionus interruptus as publicity stunt by "author" intervenes. Great quote from Clay emerges, however:
As a so-called 'celebrity' I have become used to scurrilous allegations and untruths being made about me and my work. I have always taken the path of not reacting to these matters and have accepted them as, somehow, coming with the 'job.' However, I cannot, and will not, stand by when these attacks are made on my family.

numerous on-line, print, and a few TV mentions of lawsuit, many of which also mention ATDW

Insider: response to lawsuit

OFC: hits to Clay's blog pass the 4,000,000 mark

Insider: poll winner

Insider: poll winner

Clay blogs that he won't be doing a Fall tour, but will be prmoting his new CD through the end of the year.

TV Guide and TV Land Present: The 100 Most Memorable TV Moments (repeat)

TV Guide on-line: Supernova blog snark blog: pans CD concept mention in conjunction with SYTYCD

08/15/06 CD first sighting of the CD cover Clay listed as a SoundCheck participant
InStyle magazine: Clay is sexist singer
American Idol magazine: article about Sandecki's AI5 appearance

'Without You' is confirmed as the first single
'Without You' added to Clay's MySpace

ET Online: Clay is sexiest crooner
The Insider: poll (artist people would most like to have perform at their weddings)

Clay Nation Internet Block Party

Time of Northwest Indiana: CD
Daniel Pearson MySpace: posted a Sept. 15 Tonight Show appearance, subsequently removed now playing 'Without You' snark about SuperNova mention in Kimberley Locke interview
David Foster and Friends: Clay added to performance roster
News & Observer: quotes from LTS & lawsuit filed by J. Holleman

OFC: Clay blogged! The CD is finished, mixed, mastered, and delivered and that he's 'chilling' for a week or so before going back to work.

Winston-Salem Journal: CD
Rueters via CD
Tv Guide: CD

08/22/06 CD cover picture
Sony Music Store: track listing CD mention mention in a Conan interview
Insider: album photoshoot exclusive

Sony Music Store: 30 second snippets of each song on the CD are made available, later removed
Access Hollywood: poll (Clay won)
USA Today: CD release mention
Fanscape: Street Team e-mail sent to the members
Williamsport Community Center: announced Christmas Concert
Buddy interview with Suzie McNeil - 'Without You' mention article about Clay covering Dolly Parton's 'Here You Come Again'
BryanAdams news: paragraph on Clay covering 'Everything I Do'
GameSpot: mention of Clay in conjunction with PS2 game.
West Point Christmas Concert is confirmed
Montreal MIX 96: plays 'Without You' - confirmed by DJ via MySpace message:
(8/26: "....Do you know if your station will played his new song "without you?" "YES!! I can NOT wait! Listen to The MIX for more Clay details!!!")

Chicago Tribune: mention in article about another artist's bookstore appearance
Charlotte Observer: mention in article about famous North Carolina residents mention in Benji Schwimmer interview
Official Fanclub: poster made available for printing for the CD Release parties
Sony Sound Advice: 2 Polls (Clay won both)
Orange County Weekly: mention in article about American Idol
Singapore CD Release: confirmation of the Singapore drop date
KISS FM, Austin, TX: DJs discuss Clay while playing 'Without You' in the background

08/25/06 confirmation of appearance on The Tonight Show, GMA, Kimmel
Official Fanclub: Second poster made available for printing for the CD Release parties
South Brunswick Post: mention of Clay in interview with young performer
Sony Music Store: offers free magnet along with purchase of ATDW poster added to site article on the CD release
Clay's MySpace: announces the Tonight Show, GMA, and Kimmel appearances
Hits Daily Double: publishes Clay's release date
WLNK Charlotte: plays 'Without You'

08/26/06 Article about the CD release
Raleigh Chronicle: article about the CD release and mentions his upcoming TV appearances
Grand Rapids Symphony: announces Christmas Concert with Clay Clay's page updated mention of Clay's drawing power at concerts
E! Clay is Mr. May in snarky calendar piece
TMZ: CD promo; 'Without You' is linked on page

Fanscape: 'Without You' available on Clay's page poll - Young Celebs Still Famous in 20 Years?
Fort Worth Star Telegram: mentions Clay in conjunction with the announcement of AI series 1-4 syndicated repeats

newspaper/online mentions - to be filled in later

Insider: MySpace fan photo turns up - Clay was at Insider performing on the 24th
newspaper/online mentions - to be filled in later

AOL: ATDW in Fall Music Preview
Walmart: price of ATDW reduced to $9.72

radio: Providence RI DJ reports that WY has been received by lite FM sister station (oldies & new mix)
Fred Bronson: confirms that WY has gone out to radio
eBay: promo single shows up on eBay
Star 105.7: plays 1/2 of Without You, CD, and Grand Rapids Christmas appearance
Singapore: DJ says that Without You will go for adds next week
WSRS Worchester: plays Without You - 5:45 pm today - mentions CD release parties
Mediabase: Without You is listed - ready for spins
AllAccess: Clay listed under cool new music - Hot/Mod/AC
SonyMusicBox: Without You ring tone available buddy icons available

Variety: singles out ATDW as one of the fall albums that could go #1 - describes Aiken v.s. Timberlake as a "superstar mano-a-mano battle"

more newspaper/online mentions - to be filled in later

Insider: poll winner
David Foster Star Search: biography and picture on web pages for gala and finale
UNICEF: Clay's page is updated to include recent fund-raising drive
more newspaper/online mentions - to be filled in later

radio: 'Without You' enters Mediabase combined A/C chart at #474
radio: WSRS becomes the first format starter for 'Without You'
radio: "Coast" 101.3 WHLG in Fort Pierce, Florida plays 'Without You'


Insider: Clay performs (the hair sings at last)

David Foster's Gala: performing

David Foster Star Search finale: judging

fan club renewal date


CD release parties: 81 parties scheduled - purchase CDs at midnight - RCA provides posters, prizes, and PR support


The View


date unknown
Walmart Soundcheck and Spotlight

guest appearances with symphonies:
12/09/06: Williamsport Pa, Community Arts Center
12/14/06: Long Island, NY, Tilles Center for the Performing Arts
12/15/06: West Point, NY, Eisenhower Hall (9/8 - tickets go on sale)
12/16/06: Red Bank, NJ, Count Basie Theater
12/19/06: Grand Rapids, MI, Devos Performance Hall

Thanks to ClayNationNews, Ms Marmalade, notacanuck, CinPA, and any others I may have missed who are keeping track of Clay's media mentions.

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