Friday, April 27, 2007

The Factor 7 World Tour

So one of Birmingham's best kept secrets makes it's triumphant return on Saturday night. It's Factor 7, looking slightly different than they did when they played the first DeuceFest back in 2000. It's the final stop before they hit East Asia, on their first world tour, carrying rock and roll and God's love to all.

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Matt Latta, Meredith Watkins, Scott Latta, Ashley Spell, Brad Latta and Drew "Slash" Morris make up the return of Factor 7. Long live freakin' rock and roll.

Original guitarist David Mark Osborne has gone on, gotten married, and is currently helping to produce and write new material for Chris Daughtry's next album (slated for release in 2008). Its great how they convinced Brad Latta to come back from a moderately successful solo career (two albums later, of course--the first, self-titled album was obviously a trial run, but the second, "No Stone Unturned" was really, really good. The riffs on track 4, "Below My Mind" are out of this stinkin' world) and rejoin his brother Matt, and also their buddy Drew Morris.

You may remember Drew Morris, or at least his name, as he's been touring with All American Rejects, mostly as a "fill-in" guitarist, and sometimes as their opening act when they play small venues. He's also appeared next to Jason Mraz on some of those Vh1 "Best Week Ever" and "I Love the (fill in decade)" shows.

The new faces include Ashley Spell, a local rocker who's style and attitude have been described as "Fiona Apple mixed with classic Joan Jett", and is ready to hit the big time (personally, I think she'll stay with the band just long enough for her solo career to take off, a la Gwen Stefani...)

Meredith Watkins, fresh off of Broadway, also adds some female viewpoints to the group. I say Broadway, though I guess it's really just touring with Rent and Aida, but she did do a few bit roles in some Kevin Spacey play. Her Broadway cd, "Starlight" is also really good... not a fan of her take on "On My Own" but I do like her on "Over the Moon"... but thats just me.

Finally, turning Factor 7 into the 6 that now comprise the group is Scott Latta, younger brother to both Brad and Matt. He's a senior at the Univerity of Alabama, and has recently finished a book called "We Got 12 (Coaches): Why Stallings Was Right, Shula Was Wrong and Every Mistake In Between", discussing the turbulant Dubose/Fran/Price/Shula/Saban saga, one of the most troubling period in Alabama history. Oh yeah, he also plays guitar. He's actually dating Jessikuh Smisson... you know, the Italian model chick? Yeah, struggled to think of her too, cause they all kind of look alike.

Anyway, I got to see Factor 7 do a small jam session in a small arena right outside of the Verizon Amphitheater here in Birmingham. All I can say is, welcome back, Factor 7.

You can see the video that recently ranked in the top 100,000 on YouTube right here.

The show starts tomorrow night at 8pm and will be at the Crossroads Community Church Coliseum, and here's the link for directions:

You can also visit their website and blog here. I'll be posting the site link to my website so you can see their progress.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Idol Inspiration

Okay, it was funny at first. But if I have to see Spongebob Nopants standing up in the bathtub, bubbles covering his giblets, I might kick a cement block barefoot. I’m just saying.

Alright, its… AMERICAL IDOL TIME! I haven’t done a complete review in several, several weeks, so I’m excited! It’s time for Idol Gives Back! And Sanjaya is nowhere to be seen! This could be a great night.

Basically, News Corp is going to offer 10 cents for the first 50,000,000 votes, which is $5 million bucks. And you know who's showing up tomorrow night? Bono. Yep, that Bono. I’ve heard it said that Bono is so cool, that if a guy makes out with Bono, you don’t call that guy gay… you ask him how cool it was.

Personally, I think U2 has kind of lost the edge (no, not The Edge, he’s still there… I mean the edge). They can put an album out of singing Waffle House menus, and it will go triple platinum, win four Grammys out of nine nominations, and Michael Nipp will buy it the second it comes out.

The money donated tonight through votes, and through people donating tomorrow night during the star-studded, two hour results show, will be going to fund charities in Africa, and here. And tonight’s themes are songs that inspire. Oh boy.

C-Rich is singing “Change the World” by Eric Clapton. This was featured in the underrated movie Phenomenon, starring John Travolta, and is found on the soundtrack to said movie… strangely enough, its one of my favorite CDs of all time. Jewel, Peter Gabriel, Aaron Neville, Clapton and several others sing some classics and its just a great rainy day album. And The Iguanas sing some Spanish song called "Para Donde Vas", which, ten years later, I still have no idea what it means, but it sounds cool.

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Here's a CD you should go out and buy, like, right now. Really. Go get it.

Oh yeah, Chris Richardson is singing. Its kinda nasally, though that’s him anyway. I don’t imagine Eric Clapton will be too scared that Chris will be taking his place. Randy loved it, Paula loved it (I’m proud of you, seeing your journey, here’s my room key). Simon liked it too. Really? I didn’t think it was all that great, but that’s why I’m tone-hard-of-hearing.

Conversely, the Cingular "dropped the call" ads are hysterical. I love the new one, where the guy is calling the girl back, talking about a connection... when the call drops and he can't hear her response, he says some stupid comment about, " know, like a brother and sister connection? Like, I would never make out with my sister...". The look on his face when he says this is priceless.

Mindy Doo is busting out some Faith Hill, a song called "There Will Come a Day". Its one I'm not too familiar with, me not being a big Faith Hill fan.

Songs that inspire me?
"Gonna Fly Now (Rocky's Theme)" by Bill Conti. How can you not be totally pumped up and excited about life after hearing this song? I mean, the push at the end just makes my blood race. If I can change, you can change, we all can change. Rocky ended the cold war with that line.

Randy used the word "so dope" when describing Mindy Doo. Paula loved her too (magical, no one like you, make sure Chris uses that key I gave him). Simon loved it because it wasn't a copycat, calling it a "vocal masterclass". Yeah, it was a great performance... but it was kinda boring.

"Welcome to Delaware" by Watermark inspires me. Its the theme song of my life, and cut #3 on the "The Original d$ Life Soundtrack".

Blake Lewis is up next. John Lennon's "Imagine" is on tap.. its a song I like, but not one I'm crazy about.

I love "Standing Outside the Fire" by Garth Brooks... the video is just superduper. Oh, and "Promise of a New Day" by Paula Abdul, but maybe thats just because this was 1991, when Paula was hot, and in the video she's in a small dress standing under a waterfall. Or maybe not.

Randy says "just aight for me, dude", while Paula liked it lots. Simon says it was sincere. I thought it was just okay... nothing tonight is just making me excited. Sigh.

You know what else inspires me? "Mama Said Knock You Out" by LL Cool J. No, seriously. Its a great song that just makes you clinch your fist and take on the world.

Another song that just lifts me up is "Healing" by Wynonna Judd and Michael English. It came right after English was pretty much ostracized from the Christian music scene after admitting to an affair, and was featured in the ridiculous movie "Silent Fall". Beautifully sung, powerful words, and you can tell that Michael English is truly living the words. You should click the link and buy it now... only one is available. Hurry!

LaKisha is singing "I Believe", by former Idol winner Fantasia? Wouldn't it be great if LaKisha had instead sung "Baby Mama"? How fantastic would that have been? "I chose 'Baby Mama', because as a single mother, I think its important to recognize all those bee-ay-bee-why em-ay-em-ay... this goes out to all my baby mamas, I got love for all my baby mamas." I would pay a little extra for that...

Randy liked it just okay, Paula tosses some sunshine LaKisha's way, though she stumbles all over her words. Simon didn't like it much either. For me, eh. Perhaps Jordin or Phil got some good stuff coming... I'm waiting for this Idol episode to be good.

Phil Stacey is ready to inspire me. And he's singing some Garth, "The Change". I miss Garth, I really do. He had one heck of a run in the 90s, didn't he? His take on "Calling Baton Rouge" is probably my favorite, but "Two of a Kind (working on a full house)", "Rodeo", his version of "Shameless", "Ain't Goin' Down til the Sun Comes Up", and tons more... great, great stuff. Heck, I don't even mind he shacked up with Trisha Yearwood... they make good music together, a la Johnny & June Carter.

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Here's another one you should own. Yes, this is the one that has "Friends in Low Places".

Oh, Phil's singing. And I'm bored to tears. Perhaps Jordin will bust out "Mama Said Knock You Out". I think I would actually get up and run around the apartment in joy if she did that.

Randy liked it, as did Paula. They both agree that country is Phil's forte. Simon really likes Phil, or so he says. "If you can connect with [style and country], you'll do well, because I think people like you."

Okay Jordin... give me something good to end this yawning show.

She's singing "You'll Never Walk Alone" by.... by... should I know this? Okay, Jordin. Blow me away. Wait for it... wait for it...

...wait for it...

...still waiting...

..and there she goes with the big vocals. She is truly your next American Idol. Randy says "one of the best vocals ever on six seasons of American Idol." Paula loved it. Simon says "fantastic". I'm pulling for her to take it home, all the way.

You know what else I like? "No Such Thing" by John Mayer. Yeah, really. Its a great song about life. Makes me happy. Even just the line "...I can't wait 'til my ten year reunion, I'm gonna bust down the double doors..." is worth it.

Course, I was just tossing out secular songs, with the exception of Watermark. I mean, add in Christian music, and the list of inspiring songs grows by a mile... "Faith My Eyes", "Close of Autumn", "Be My Glory", "Trinity", so on and so on... then again, you have to find that line between inspiring and encouraging and worshipful.

I'm not inspired by this show. Perhaps I'll toss on some Garth.
Note: Moments after finishing this review, I played "Calling Baton Rouge" three times on my iPod... then my internet crashed, I had to call Charter, stayed on the phone with the for about 30 minutes... and this was 130 in the morning. Good times, good times.)

Monday, April 23, 2007

Sheryl Crow, My Favorite Mistaken Liberal


I'm tired of all my favorite singers and celebrities turning Team Bats*** on me. I mean, Natalie Maines is already a team member when, last year, I lost my beloved Dixie Chicks to the extreme far left wacko side... and now Sheryl Crow?

My beloved Sheryl? Singer of some of my favorite tunes like "A Change Will Do You Good" and "Steve McQueen" and one of the greatest hits of the 90s, "My Favorite Mistake"? Yes, its true. Sheryl has been sucked into the Global Warming Political Machine.

She's declared one of the best ways that Earth killing you and Earth killing me can help save the planet is by using...
one square of toilet paper each time you visit. Now, let me be very careful here... for guys, half the time its not a big deal. For girls, I'm guessing that it... well, could be possible to use only one square.

But its very obvious Sheryl has never visited
Top China Buffet. Using one square of toilet paper after visiting Top China Buffet would as ridiculous as hacking your arm off and then putting a band aid on it to stop the blood. Or as ridiculous as Sheryl Crow's concert demands, commonly known as a rider (different hard liquor each day of the week? and several trucks?). Or as ridiculous as The Algore Global Warming Diet. You know, the one that says "you must stop driving that SUV and wasting that paper and cut down on your emissions... and I'll keep doing what I'm doing."

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Sheryl Crow, singer of one of my favorite albums here, says we should use one square. I'd like to see her try that.. okay, no I wouldn't. Eeew.


Speaking of Algore, I'm
70,594th on the petition to have Algore run for president again. I think its a GREAT idea. Seriously. I mean, just about any Republican can run against him and win... Algore is a quack, a jerk, a scam artist and a hypocrite. Okay, okay, I always try to be careful of name calling, so I take back "quack" and "jerk". Scam artist I can see, and I totally stand behind hypocrite.

Homeslice lives in a 10K foot, 20 room, 8 bathroom home in Nashville, has a 4K foot home in Virginia, and a third home in Carthage, TN. Both Washington DC and Nashville offer an alternative energy--wind energy can be yours for only a few pennies extra per kilowatt hour. Bush has even signed up some of the federal government offices to use such energy. Algore doesn't do any of it.

He condemns the use of fossil fuels in America, and our carbon-emissions, yet embraces and excuses China for usage that within two years will exceed our own, saying that they are a communist nation and should not held to the same standards as we have.

He thrives in carbon-credits, where you pay some company money to plant trees to neutral out your energy use, but none of these CC companies have any kind of accountability, nor responsibility to do anything. No oversight, but the guilt is gone. Heck, Chris Martin paid a CC company a bundle of cash to plant a certan kind of tree in India to, you know, even out Coldplay's usage on their latest tour. The trees were planted in an area of India that they could not grow... so they all died.

I mean, its one thing to live excessively. If you do so, do so at your own risk. You got the money, do what you want with it... but don't tell me I can't buy and SUV because I am contributing to the destruction of the world, a logic that is based on a consensus of some scientists with no regard to the thousands of meteorologists and scientists who claim its all bunk, which means its a theory with no current proof, and full of holes.

Okay, fine. Algore is in fact a quack, a jerk, a scam artist and a hypocrite. I know this to be fact? Why? Because I know a bunch of people that think the same thing. And if we all have a consensus that he is those things, well, then, hidey-ho, it must be true. Right? Right?

(by the way, to everyone on that petition site who uses the phrases "stole the White House" and "fraudulent election", get over it. It was 7 years ago. Algore lost legally, he lost fairly and he lost because of the electoral college. That's how it works. Don't get mad at Dubya... be mad at the Supreme Court who made the decision, be mad at our founding fathers for putting the electoral college in place as a system where all states are fairly represented, not just the most populated cties, and be mad at the DEMOCRATS who were running the voting locations in the counties in question. Suck it up. You lost. Its over. Move on.)

I love the Amazing Race All Stars. I really do. I think its because I'm rooting so hard for Dustin & Kandice to win, not because I'm all about D&K (I still can't tell which is which) but because I don't want Team Bats***, Eric & the Boob or Gay Miserable to pull out a victory. D&K seems to be the only one who doesn't complain about getting undercut, and they actually admit defeat.

The "Yield" is part of the game. When you reach it, you can make another team wait an hour before continuing. Its a strategy tool. Its not like you took a bat to the kneecaps of another team (though with Mirna, how enjoyable would that be?), or lied to their faces or whatever... so all the calls of "playing dirty and underhanded" and so on are just... well, whining. Shut up. Run the race.

As for Phil, the host... how can you not laugh at EW's review and their take on Phil's routine:

I wonder if every time he stands at a pit stop, he ponders a detour of his own, each with its own pros and cons: Paycheck...or rain check: ''With paycheck, I stand on this godforsaken mat for four hours making awkward conversation with some local in a serape whom we're paying $10 an hour, then play the old 'I'm pretending that you're last, but you're actually still in it!' game with the teams, and then when they clap and hug each other, I resist the urge to hit them over the head with a Travelocity gnome so hard they'll be picking white beard out of their hair for a week. With rain check, I tell [the producer] Bertram van Munster there's a roadblock only one of my boots can perform, and it's going right into his bum, and then I'll walk away from this endless semester abroad, go home, try to shake my six-year-old case of jet lag, and audition for Bob Barker's job.'' Then he sighs, picks paycheck, and steps onto yet another mat, trying to muster enough enthusiasm to raise one eyebrow.

So both of The Fray's songs, "Cable Car" and "How To Save a Life" sound almost alike. And I'm addicted to both. Is this bad?

Remember TBS' "Dinner & a Movie"? (do they still do this?) It came on Friday night, and they usually showed a chick flick, or some movie you only saw once and would never watch again, and in between commercial breaks, you have this chick and this guy cooking a meal. They show how to do it, step by step, and typically, it related to the movie. Example: "Firestorm", the movie that won Howie Long an Oscar, would be playing, and since its a thrilling character study of wildlife firefighters, they might be doing some sort of hot & spicy bar-b-que meal. You get the point.

Anyway, Annabelle Gurwitch was the chick, and I always thought she was just fun. Seems that one day, she was hired on to do a Woody Allen play, one of her dreams. And then, just like that, Big Woody tells her, basically, she sucks, and that she's fired. Hence, the documentary "Fired!", which I saw just the other day. The firing by Woody open the movie, and is so gut-wretching its funny.

And she ends up talking to fellow B-list comedians who were also fired at one time or another, including people I can't think of, but have seen at one time or another on Vh1's various series where they show a clip of something and people try to be funny and say quirky and witty things about it. Once, I saw Jason Mraz doing one of these shows. Why? Has he earned that much street cred from like, two songs? I was tossing popcorn at the screen, begging for Mo Rocca.

Where was I?

Oh yeah, its a great little movie, and I might just go get the book this afternoon... the
website for this movie is fantastic... except for when I read that Annabelle's next documentary is a global warming kind of movie. (Curse you, Global Warming! The Chicks! Sheryl! Now you come after Annabelle? Have you no limit to your web of deceit?!)

if you think back to when you were fired, and 99% of us were at some point, its true that you can look back and laugh now, but then? Yeesh. My buddy Mikey was fired from Blockbuster for stea... borrowing a Coke. Me? I got let go from WKMX because my friend AmyAlex came to visit me once at midnight, and there was a no-visitors policy in the studio. And until now, I've never admitted that. I feel a burden has been lifted.

I saw "Employee of the Month" as well. Surprisingly, I thought it was kinda funny. I mean, the chances of this movie being remembered in five years beyond hard core Dane Cook fans are about as remote as my statement of Howie Long's Oscar ever coming true, but still...

Its a dumb story of a group of guys working at a big discount store, like Costco or Sam's Club. Vince is the superstar check out guy who has won Employee of the Month for 17 straight months, and winning it 18 months in a row gives him a big bonus and a car and so on and so forth... Dane Cook is Zack, who just doesn't care... until Amy (Jessica Simpson) shows up, and there's a rumor going around that she's got a thing for guys who are employees of the month... rivalry between Vince and Zack. Throw in Harland Williams, Andy Dick and Pedro. Hilarity ensues.

Yes, it was predictable, and yes it was silly. But it was fun. And sometimes you need that. The best thing about it? Well, Jessica Simpson, but not in the way you think (I, for one, have always lumped Jessica in with Angelina Jolie in the "I don't know why everyone thinks they are so hot, cause... well, they just ain't" catagory. Also see "Roberts, Julia", "Zeta-Jones, Catherine" and "Clinton, Hillary")

All of Jessica's lines are very short. I mean, like, ten words or less. Its as if she learned her lines per scene... said a line, ran over to the script, learned the next one, came back, said it for the camera, and then ran back for the next line. Funny.

As for Dax Shepard, who plays Vince, who is this guy? If you were standing in line at the welfare office to get your cheese and butter, when you asked for your Zach Braff, the gov'nment would give you Dax Shepard. Bizarre.

Speaking of Shepard, that brings us to Grey's Anatomy. Steph and I have been watching this show on DVD like crazy, trying to catch up. We just finished the 18th episode of Season Two, where the last scene is when George admits to Meredith his love for her, and she responds by taking his shirt off... uh, you know, because that's how she likes guy to pray with her, right? Right.

Anyway, I'm trying to see the appeal of Meredith Grey. I mean, let's be honest... the more I watch Kate Walsh, the hotter I think she is. I've always thought Katherine Heigl was just gorgeous, and my favorite Asian not named Michelle Malkin has always been Sandra Oh... but Ellen Pompeo is just not that good looking to me. I've tried to find her attractive, but my efforts are not working.

McSteamy (Eric Dane) has just been introduced, and though I haven't asked her, I'm sure Stephanie likes what she sees... though chalk her up under "I Love McDreamy".

Its not a very moral show, though, is it? Meredith slept with some guy who had issues the next day, Meredith slept with George and with McDreamy, McDreamy slept with Addison, we know Addison slept with McSteamy, Burke slept with Yang, Webber slept with Meredith's mom (albeit a long time ago), Olivia slept with George, Olivia slept with Alex, Alex slept with Izzie, we know that Izzie will sleep with Denny... I guess that's why it's called Grey's Anatomy, not Grey's Abstinance.

Here's my thought on Sanjaya... and yes, this time, he's Sanjaya, not Punjab. To called him Punjab would be an insult to all the Punjabs of the world. Seriously, who would name their son Punjab? That's such a stereotypical name... its like a Mexican kid named Juan or a black kid named Shenanay.

Anyway, I imagined a phone call between Nigel Lythgoe, the American Idol producer, and the guy who is in charge of the phone voting system...

Guy in Charge, picking up the phone: Hey, this is Chuck
Nygel: Chuck, this is Nigel Lythgoe
Chuck: He, Mr. Lythgoe... you know, that Sanjaya, he's pesky. He got the 3rd highest vote totals again! Poor LaKisha's luck finally...
Nigel (cutting him off): Chuck, listen to me very carefully. Sanjaya doesn't win.
Chuck: I'm sorry?
Nigel: Sanjaya doesn't win. Do you understand me?
Chuck: Mr. Lythgoe... are you saying you want me to fix the...
Nigel: What I'm saying to you Chuck is... Sanjaya doesn't win. You figure it out (slam the phone down)

And Martina, formerly hot, looked really old on Wednesday. I'm not sure how I feel about that.

And finally, congrats again to Wookiee and Gina, who's boy Austin is healthy and fat, after only a few weeks from being out of the hospital. And a big congrats to Ryan and Melissa Sherman, who have one on the way in about seven more months...

I'll do my best to have a comprehensive Idol update, along with Survivor, and as The Amazing Race All Stars draws nearer to its end, I'll have the update on Team Bats***... only a few more weeks can I say that.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Lauren McCain, and other VT thoughts

People ask me about blogging, and the time I take to do it, and sometimes why I do it. Sometimes its fun (hence, Dave's First Ever Random Bracket), sometimes its informational, sometimes its political... and sometimes, its just a release. Sometimes its just... thoughts.

It's truly a small world. Well, physically, its quite a large world... but in terms of people, anyone who knows me personally is one person away from knowing Brooke Smith, from "The Bachelor". And she knows a ton of people. Anyone who knows me personally is 2-3 people away from everyone that Rick & Bubba know. And I'm sure out of all the people I know, I'm less than 3 people away from knowing someone at Virginia Tech.

How do you respond to it? I mean, I've covered myself in MSNBC (no, no political jokes today) and Fox News and CNN and Headline News footage, and watched reporter after reporter ask student after student the same questions: "Did you know him?" "Did you know any of the victims?" "Where were you?"... I read a blog commentary earlier tonight on myspace from someone who lost their best friend on Monday. She said that she's had dozens of reporters contact her via myspace to talk about her friend, and she just wanted to be left alone to grieve in peace.

I visited a few of the myspace pages for some of the victims, including Mary Read and Maxine Turner's ... some of the pages aren't real family friendly, so I won't link to them, but they're have one common thread. Lots of people missing them.

The one that struck me the most, the hardest was Lauren McCain.

If you scroll down, you'll see numerous people leaving comments asking where she is, with the last one being on Tuesday, 4/17, right before noon, asking her to call her parents. That means well over 24 hours had gone by since the rampage stopped, and her family still didn't know...

And then a comment around 420pm... "We miss you".

In those 4 hours, they found out. They were told the truth. In those 4 hours, Lauren's family and friends had their entire lives turned upside down.

Unfortunately, instead of calling it what it is--that being one very sick, very insane individual--its going to soon become tiresome rhetoric of gun law debates, how we could have stopped it, why Democrats are to blame, why Republicans are to blame, Bush hates college students, who knew what and when and so on... I don't look forward to it.

I can almost imagine the NBC News director grabbing the phone and saying "Get me that stock footage of anti-gun stuff. We'll need it."

My heart hurts. I'm still trying to wrap my head around the fact that a single guy, 22, shot and killed THIRTY TWO people. Perhaps he was mad at one or two, but he ended up just walking and shooting people at random, opening up doors and firing with a gun so powerful that he could fire off up to 30+ rounds before reloading, and then reloading in a mere few seconds.

Maybe God is protecting me from wrapping my mind around this event, because I haven't been able to. I want to actually stop trying to, but I feel like I should.

Why does God allow this? What makes a loving God so arrogant that He can... wow. I stopped typing that sentence and stared at it, trying to figure out how to finish it. What makes a loving God so arrogant that He can remove a hand of protection over certain people, allow them to be gunned down, and then expect us all to turn to Him in comfort?

I watched the events of the Oklahoma City bombing unfold in amazement, I witnessed the Olympic bombing firsthand, then I went on to see the terror of Columbine, and of course, watching in agony as Tuesday, September 11th, transpired. And I've watched the heartbreak of Virginia Tech and the coward who took so many lives.

And, unfortunately, there will be more heartbreaks to come as life goes on. Bad things happen to good people, great things happen to rotten people. Beautiful people suffer sometimes, as horrible people prosper. And thats just how it works.

"All things work together for good to them that love God...", says Romans 3:23. And its true. With every murder, bombing, act of violence and so on that God permits to happen, somewhere there are children playing, babies being born, near miss accidents that leave me breathless and laughing, rainbows, dogs, iced coffee, Stephanie and millions of other blessings we sometimes take for granted. For every single tragic moment, God gives us a thousand ones to be joyful of.

I'm sure that a parent or a friend of anyone who is to be buried in the next few days from the VT rampage would say differently. Perhaps not. I think Lauren McCain would agree with me. I look forward to one day meeting her. There are several people on my list to find when I get to Heaven, and I think I just added her, if only to give her a hug and a smile.

Its late, I'm rambling, I perhaps didn't make a lick of sense to anyone but me. But thats what blogsites are for. For you. And for me.

Monday, April 16, 2007

And We Have a Winner...

Wow, its been a week... and weekend... I apologize that I haven't blogged much. Of course, there's not any rule that says when I should blog, but now that I've got an average of double digit readers each day or so, I thought I should post something.

So, finally... defeating both James & Jessica Hawbaker 3-1, we have a winner in the First Ever Dave's Random Bracket. The winner of the Stephanie Leann Campbell Hyphen Dollar Random Bracket Trophy is...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Fitting, especially now since they've reformed with two new members, a la Caedmon's or Sixpence (good looking chick(s) with great voices), and are about to embark on their first ever world tour.

Congrats, F'7... and I'll see you readers in a day or so with American Idol, global warming and this great new show, "Drive". It rocks.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Dave's Random Reviews

The Finals in The Dave's Random Bracket:

After much battle, it all boils down to...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket VS Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Who will win when Factor 7 ties up against both Jessica AND James Hawbaker?


So I finally saw 300 last week. Excellent film, I must admit... for all the talk about how violent it was, and decapitations and arms being severed and the like, it really wasn't as bad as it was made out to be. Oh, there's decapitations and arms being severed and the like, but the violence was so stylized, and so comic book-esque, it wasn't the over-the-top gore fest I was almost expecting.

300 tells the story of the Battle of Thermopylae, when 300 Spartans took on over a million Persians. When Xerxes sends a messenger force to Sparta to demand their surrender, King Leonidas says "No thanks", then he and his men tosses the entire messenger group into a pit.

Leonidas go before the Oracle to authorize warring against Persia (in the first of two scenes of unnecessary boobage), but the men around the Oracle have already been bought by Xerxes, so they say no. So, Leonidas gathers 300 of his best, strongest soldiers, only those who have sired a son, to take on the Persians. Before he leaves, he meets up with his good looking wife (in the other scene of unnecessary boobage)... just saying, be aware.

From there it's one battle after another, with Xerxes tossing one army after another at the 300, until the dramatic end, filled with betrayal, death and lots and lots of arrows.

The film is shot in mostly bluescreen, to give it the oatmeal colored sky and the brownish texture it has, done so to keep it connected to the original comic by Frank Miller, who also did Sin City. Highly recommended.

"Sweet Escape" by Gwen Stefani, featuring Akon. Almost annoying, but just poppy enough to be slighty catchy, and who doesn't love Gwen. Download it. Catch the video.

"Grindhouse" is a purposeful double feature from directors Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez... if you don't know either of those directors, this is probably not the film(s) for you, so I won't go into detail.

The proper definition of "Grindhouse",
according to Wikipedia is as follows (links are theirs): "A grindhouse is an American term for a theater that mainly showed exploitation films. It is also a term used to describe the genre of films that played in such theatres. Grindhouse films are also referred to as "exploitation films." Grindhouses were known for non-stop programs of B movies, usually consisting of a double feature where two films were shown back to back. Many of these inner-city theatres formerly featured burlesque shows which included "bump and grind" dancing, leading to the term "grindhouse." Beginning in the late 1960s and especially during the 1970s, the subject matter of grindhouse films was dominated by explicit sex, violence, bizarre or perverse plot points, and other taboo content. Many grindhouses were exclusively pornographic."

Short definition: Give up good story for violence, sex and other audience-drawing traits. Boy, that sounds appealing, doesn't it?

Well, it is really not that bad. Like "300", I was almost expected to be blasted with violence, and when you toss in Rob-Rod and Tarantino, tons of naked chicks and worse... and like "300", I was pleasantly surprised.

The two films that make up "Grindhouse" are Robert Rodriquez's "Planet Terror" and "DeathProof", both about 80 minutes long. Even better are the "fake trailers" that appear with the film, the first (and best) called "Machete", setting up the revenge of a day laborer done wrong. "Don't F*** With This Mexican" makes for a classic tagline.

"Planet Terror" features Rose McGowan (who looks hot but I still can't get out of my head she made out with Marilyn Manson) as a go-go dancer named Cherry Darling, who wants to leave dancing and become a stand-up comedienne. Along the way, we see Sayid from Lost involved with Bruce Willis involved with poison gas that turns people into zombies which kill Fergie and infects the town and there's a lesbian doctor who's married to a bad dude and a BBQ grill owned by legendary That Guy Jeff Fahey who is brother to another That Guy Michael Biehn and... whew... it's great stuff.

And somewhere in there, Cherry Darling ends up getting a machine gun for a leg.

The best moment comes when you see the "missing reel"... back in the day, "missing reels" happened frequently, due to error in film or just clumsiness in theater operation, and when you get back to the film, you have no idea how you got here from where you werebefore--there is a missing reel in "Planet Terror", and its really funny when it happens.

When these films are released on dvd separately, as I'm told they will be, I would definately support catching "Planet Terror"... perhaps not so much "DeathProof".

Well, before you get to "DeathProof", you've got a few more "fake trailers", including a gem called "Don't",which is hysterical, and a random Nic Cage sighting in "Werewolf Women of the SS"... the one for the Eli Roth fake movie "Thanksgiving" is a little disturbing... including a random 2 second visual that made the entire theater go "what the...?" at the same time.

"DeathProof" shows you three chicks partying at a country bar, and meeting a stuntman driver named "Stuntman Mike", played by Kurt Russell. Essentially, I'm not telling you anything you didn't know if you were planning to see this movie by telling you that Kurt Russell is a bad, bad man and you know these girls are going to end up dead... and they do. Spectacularly, I might add. Stuntman Mike drives a Hollywood stunt car, built of solid steel, protected and made for violent crashes... and it does.

Then we skip to another diner scene with three more girls, including Rosario Dawson, who sit and talk forever... the story of the falling-yet-uninjured Zoe is important... but long. Anyway, they end up test driving a Dodge Challenger, and meet up with Stuntman Mike, and a showdown ensues. It's almost as if the film is two different stories, connected by a single bad guy and a single M.O... though both parts of the film have long, sometimes taxing, lead-ups, the payoffs are more than enough.

Watch the the crazy babysitters and the lesbian doctor (and her dad) who make appearances in "DeathProof", after all play a central role in the previous "Planet Terror". Also watch for the mush-mouth football player from "The Waterboy" as "Jasper".

And finally, here's "Fast Food Nation". The film is a fictional story based on the non-fiction book by Eric Schlosser, and tells three stories, all intertwined by one corrupt meat-packing plant in Coby Colorado.

1) Greg Kinnear (among Steph's pantheon of guys that she wouldn't leave me for, but would take a second longer to answer no than, say, Charlie Sheen. Also see "Whitford, Bradley" and "Firth, Colin") is Don, an executive for the fast food giant Mickey's, and creator of Mickey's biggest hit, "The Big One Burger". When Mickey's CEO is alerted that fecal matter is found on the burgers, Don is sent to the meatpacking plant to investigate. His research finds him much more than he wanted to know, while along the way meeting Kris Kristofferson and... yes, Bruce Willis.

2) Wilmer Valderrama, from doing both That 70s Show and Lindsay Lohan, is Raul, a Mexican immigrant who illegally crosses his wife Sylvia, by way of Luiz Guzman (an International That Guy hall of famer). Raul and Coco, Sylvia's little sister, get jobs at the meatpacking plant, while Sylvia works at a nearby motel. Mike (Bobby Cannavale) is a supervisor who's a complete pud and has his eye on the chicks there at the plant. Things don't go well for Raul and company.

3) Amber (played by Ashley Johnson... yes, the chick who played Chrissy Seaver is all growed up) works at Mickey's, along with Brian, and simply wants something more for her life. She's in high school, is niece to Ethan Hawke, daughter of Patricia Arquette, and ends up meeting up with Avril Lavigne in a protest. Who knew.

The meat packing plant is the central character that ties all three stories together, however loosely. I'm really not sure what I was expecting, be it comedy or serious message film or whatever... but I took from the film just one thing--I want to read the book.

The film was billed as "for fans of Fahrenheit 911", and since there's more truth coming out of The Neverending Story than Fahrenheit 911 (trust me, I can back it up, its not just me talking), I knew it might have a political slant on it... which actually, it didn't.

It does make you feel bad for the treatment of Mexican immigrants (which is okay... its kinda not their fault our country's system is so effed up... here I go again), but if you want to see a true attack on the fast food industry, go get Super Size Me. That will disturb you.

Hey, what if they showed Fahrenheit 911 and An Inconvenient Truth back to back, and called it "LieHouse"? Thank you, thank you.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Goodbye, Gina

Sigh. Gina Glocksen has said goodbye... looking back on her performanc on Wednesday, thought I kinda liked it then, I can understand now why she's gone home. And one of my favorites is gone. I knew she wouldn't win, but... it was nice having her around. Sigh.

By the way... I'm no longer calling Punjab Punjab... he's now officially Sanjaya. Only the name "Sanjaya" can stir the emotion of outrage, hatred, laughter and nausea, all at the same time, like no other name can. So Sanjaya lives on.

To review this week's episode, here's what EW had to say:

I didn't think it was going to be possible, but crazier things happened during tonight's episode of American Idol than Randy's BeDazzled-skull-sleeved shirt and Paula's rodeo monkey garb. Chris Richardson gave a terrific performance. LaKisha Jones put Melinda Doolittle on notice. Sanjaya Malakar did not make me feel the rage. Gina Glocksen squandered the bulk of her Gwen Stefani-week momentum. And Blake Lewis might've gotten himself in a spot of trouble.
Who knew Tony Bennett night would be packed with so much drama?

So let me begin with Chris, a contestant who only three weeks ago I accused of using a ''dull, reedy, nasal blade of a hack and kill every beloved note'' of Diana Ross's song ''The Boss.'' And while I still stand by my assessment of that particular performance, I'm not so mulish that I can't give the guy credit for showing vast (and surprising) improvement. Sure, his choice of Duke Ellington's swingin' ''Don't Get Around Much Anymore'' bordered on foolproof, and yeah, I noticed a couple wobbly notes in his lower register, but as the judges pointed out, Chris managed to do something that's been very rare on the Idol stage this season: He added unexpected spice to a beloved standard without defiling its classic recipe. (The song is 65 years old!)

Maybe Chris was born to play the role of hipster with a broken heart, but suddenly, his vocal runs made perfect sense, his line readings were infused with emotion, even his dance moves were fly. In fact, I was grooving to the dude's performance so much that my initial notes consisted of one word only: ''Wow!''

Chris' surge in momentum this week (combined with last week's not bad ''Don't Speak'') could present a problem for this season's other blond-haired hipster heartthrob.

Indeed, Blake Lewis's in-tune but disappointingly safe cover of ''Mack the Knife'' was the kind of performance that isn't good enough to inspire viewers to vote but also isn't bad enough to make fans worry that their favorite is in danger. (Anyone remember La Toya London's ill-fated ''Love You Inside and Out''?) Maybe Blake believed Simon's assessment last week that he's the front-runner on the men's side, but I thought the cranky Brit's remark about Blake scoring a ''7 out of 10'' this week was far more telling. Blake has yet to deliver a jaw-droppingly good, rewind-the-DVR vocal — and after seven weeks of live performances, I'm starting to wonder if he's capable of one.

If I'm right that Chris and Blake are appealing to some of the same voters, LaKisha and Melinda are likely in a two-way battle of their own as well. And while the judges were more effusive tonight in their praise of Mindy Doo's ''I Got Rhythm,'' I actually preferred Kiki's ''Stormy Weather.'' Mind you, I'm not saying Melinda hit a single bad note during her performance (or at any point this season), but as the judges lauded Melinda for teaching another vocal master class, it hit me: I don't want to feel like I'm at school, with Miss Doolittle giving a PowerPoint presentation on various details of pitch, phrasing, and rhythm. I want an Idol whose performances are throbbing with joy and pain and life experience, who's not afraid to get ugly, who makes me believe that she's got rhythm, music, and her man — and that she could not ask for anything more. The crazy thing is, Melinda proved capable of exactly that with her semifinal takes on ''My Funny Valentine'' and ''I'm a Woman,'' but her shtick has become too push-button, too bloodless these last few weeks.

LaKisha, on the other hand, came out kicking and growling tonight on ''Stormy Weather,'' like a woman who was smack in the middle of living the line ''everything I have is gone'' — her man, her fortune, and, yeah, her competitive momentum on season 6 of Idol. Were there a couple wonky lower-register notes? Sure. Did she ignore Tony Bennett's advice to drop that ''ain't no sunshine when he's gone'' tag at the end (probably because she couldn't manage to hold that big note for as long as he wanted)? Okay, yeah. Did any of it detract from the raw emotional power of the performance? Not one bit. Don't let the rockin' chair get you, Kiki!

Oh, and furthermore, a memo to Haley Scarnato: You are not the only woman in the competition who's capable of taking the ''girls'' out for a walk with a plunging neckline. You do, however, appear to be the only one who's running the risk of an FCC violation if your hemline goes any higher than tonight's gam-tastic green sequin number, which, along with an energetic (if utterly rote) take on ''Ain't Misbehavin' '' might just carry you to the top eight on Wednesday. Also, Haley, I have to say, the bile-soaked look-daggers you shoot at Paula every week when she patronizingly comments on your good looks? They're kind of turning me into a Haley fan — or not a Haley hater, anyway.

In fact, Haley might not even end up in the bottom three this week, given the big steps backward taken by Gina Glocksen and Phil Stacey. To be fair, Randy was correct that Gina displayed nice vocal control on her rendition of ''Smile,'' but if I pulled two perfect pieces of Wonder Bread out of my fridge and put them on a plate, would you consider that an acceptable lunchtime option? In other words, where was the meat, the condiments, the chipotle aioli? Or any kind of flavor at all? It sure didn't help that the chef's poofy hair and ill-fitting black dress made her look like Megan Mullally dressed up like Vampira for Halloween.

And while we're talking about scary characters, was I the only one who kept imagining Phil standing outside a stranger's bedroom window with a flashlight shining up his face as he delivered a particularly moribund ''Night and Day''? I mean, I know the song is all about longing and torment, but there's a difference between bringing the heartache and making me want to take out a restraining order. Why didn't this season's most underrated vocalist listen to Tony Bennett's advice and put a little bit of swing into it? Alas, I fear the lines ''This torment won't be through/Till you let me spend my life making love to you'' will not be tolerated by viewers — not the way Phil sang 'em, anyhow.

Thank heavens there was Jordin Sparks' ''On a Clear Day (You Can See Forever)'' to return the telecast to its regularly scheduled mood of newborn baby ponies, pillowy piles of cotton candy, and Fourth of July fireworks. Yay, Jordin! Okay, so it wasn't quite as emotionally devastating as her ''I (Who Have Nothing),'' but clearly, the kid has a knack for tunes with parenthetical titles — and big notes, too. Did you hear that astonishingly clear and powerful one she used to close tonight's number? Slow clap — Jor-din! Jor-din! Jor-din! Stop fighting it people!

For my part, I've reached a place of calm resignation when it comes to Sanjaya, because deep in my heart I know that this too shall pass, my friends. His rendition of ''Cheek to Cheek'' may have been weak and insipid, but it was no worse than what John Stevens did to ''Music of My Heart'' or Camile Velasco did to ''Goodbye Yellow Brick Road'' back in season 3. Outrage is one of Idol's sources of energy.

And if that doesn't help, think of it this way: If Idol is a horse race, then Sanjaya Malakar is the colt who loses his jockey coming out of the gate. Sure, he's loping around the oval — out of control, occasionally messing up his competitors' game plans — but technically speaking, without a rider, he can't be declared the winner, he can't pick up a paycheck, and none of the folks who bet on him can cash a ticket. So when the field rounds the turn and enters the homestretch, we'll be too busy cheering on Mindy Doo, Little Miss Sparks, and Spikey Blake to notice Crazy Hair Boy heading back to the barn — and that's something on which I'm willing to bet the farm.


(5) Wendy Garner vs (10) Factor 7

(10) James & Jessica Hawbaker vs (13) Fergie's Fergalicious

Wendy ends (15) Dodgeball's true underdog story 3-0, while Factor 7 out-hotted (9) Ashley Judd 3-1... The Hawbaker duo defeated (4) Kellie Pickler 3-2, while Fergie showed (2) Tyler Campbell she's D to the E to the L I C I O U S 3-2.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Jennyross = Cool... Stephanie = Hot

Here's what is shooting through my brain while I watch The Amazing Race on video, on Sunday night at 11:14pm...

I love The Amazing Race All Stars. EW's Michael Slezak affectionately calls Charla & Mirna, the lawyer and the midget, "Team Bats---". I actually think this is one of the funniest things I've ever heard in my entire life. I have to catch myself from saying it out loud, because it's just not the language I like to use. But man, its funny.

I'm in like with Dustin & Kandice, however. Yeah, they can be a little boneheaded from time to time, but they are fun to watch, they are competitive, and I am rooting for them hardcore. Anyone but Joe & Bill, the 57 year old gay couple. They annoy me.

I really want a Wii. I want to make me a Mii, and play the Wii. One day, perhaps.

Stephanie and I have begun the preliminary house-hunting tasks... right now, its all about working on getting our credit reports cleaned up. Hers looks a million times better than mine, but still, there are a few errors on it... mine is a minefield, really.

Most of it is correct, but a few things had to be cleared up. There was one bill I still owed (which I didn't know I still owed it) from a few years ago, but it was on there twice. After this is taken care of (the whole thing, not just this one bill) we'll do the mortgage thing, then the house hunting thing (though Steph has found one she's really excited about, which makes me excited about it too)

So, the Rick Ousley situation hit me like a brick. Dunno why. He's a very famous local pastor who has led camps, retreats, conferences, marriages conferences, sermons, etc, who admitted to having an affair in the fall of 2005. From the way the initial reports were released, it sounded as if it had been happening off and on for 20 some years... and I'm thinking it might not have even stopped if the woman hadn't come forward (the story is listed here)

Made me think long and hard about 1) how much I love my wife and 2) how much I'd lose if I pulled an Ousley. This guy lost and/or is losing just about everything... his wife is supporting him, but of course, when the story was splashed across the front page of the Birmingham News, every place that had booked him to speak has replaced him (and rightly so). His ministry, Quixotic, and his website have been shut down.

David Platt, the pastor of The Church at Brookhills (a mega-church here in B'ham that Ousley helped found), did an incredible sermon on 3/25 about "What to do when the church is in moral failure", and can be listened to on podcast.

Pastor Calvin said it best: "Given the right situation and the right time, any one of us is capable of committing just about any sin". I think its by the grace of God that I've truly never been--nor put myself--in a position where I'm having to make a clear decision of the right and wrong thing... heck, I flirt a little too much. I recognize it. It's a fault... perhaps one that I am thinking of a little more.

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My wife is hot and brilliant, especially with the shorter hair she has now

So one of the things I started doing is praying in the morning that I will truly only have a heart and eyes for my wife... even though I've never really had a heart nor eyes for anyone but her, its a great way to pray for marriage strength.

Anyway, she's amazing... she continues to be the most wonderful, beautiful and sexiest woman in the whole wide world... how could I ever toss away her, my ministry, my friends and my life for something stupid? Plus... I love my TV.

I went to two parties tonight... the first was a KidStuf BBQ party... KidStuf being the children's theater production ministry we do on Sunday mornings at Valleydale Church (an sbc fellowship). I love those people... like April Adams and Cindy Warner might be the greatest big sisters that aren't actually related to me, and Michael & Melissa Clark are just cool people.

Later, I attended a Wrestlemania 23 party. I missed the 8 Man Money-in-the-Bank ladder match (which apparently had Edge taken out in a stretcher), but got to see Vince McMahon get his head shaved (when Umaga lost to Bobby Lashley), got to see Donald Trump clotheline Vince, and then see John Cena retain his title against Shawn Michaels. Though it was fine hanging with NallWall and Rocky and the Starbucks Wrestlegroup, I would have loved to have continued playing games with the KidStuf group. But seeing John Cena was cool.

I was pleased to see Jennyross the other day. I moved from Starbucks 280 to Cahaba Heights a few days ago, now I'm the ASM there. And on my first day, here comes a girl I hadn't seen in what, 8, 9 years? Her name is Jennyross, she was an ADPi at Troy State, and we were both pretty active in the Baptist Campus Ministry there. Her brother, Jonathan, was a fraternity brother of mine.

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Adorable + lovable x TSU buddy = Jennyross

Jennyross has always been simply adorable. While I never found myself romantically interested in her (nor her me, for that matter), she was the kind of chick that you could sit with on the couch and talk about fifty four different things in the span of 90 minutes and have a good time laughing all the way through it. She's just that kind of girl. I'm very pleased to know she'll be stopping through every now and again.

The King of Queens commercial just came on... three thoughts:
1) This is the final season, and the final 7 episodes are airing soon. Its been on for 9 years? Basically, the last time I saw Jennyross, this show was brand new.
2) Luna Halo is the artist you hear on the commercial. Mikey Nipp has a Luna Halo cd. I didn't know they were still around.
3) What the heck is Stacy Kirosi going to do with herself? Did you know she's best friends with Taylor Dayne?

In watching the Amazing Race All Stars, the teams are headed to Auschwitz concentration camp, and Mirna (of Team Bats---) just tried to be philosophical about learning from our past. I'm jabbing the nearest Sharpie marker in my eye right now. Ow.

And Finally...

It's the Dave's Random Bracket Elite Eight!

The Sweet Sixteen scores include (5) Wendy Garner taking out top ranked (1) Strong Bad 3-1, while (15) Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story is no longer an underdog, defeating (11) The Entire Mackey Clan 3-2. When (4) Scott Latta found out he was taking on (9) Ashley Judd, he said "oh crap". He was right, as he goes down 3-1. (10) Factor 7 drums out (3) Hard Rain featuring Christian Slater 3-1.

(4) Kellie Pickler defeats (8) Christy Parvin 3-2, while (10) James & Jessica Hawbaker continue their ride through the bracket, taking out (14) Sarah McLachlan 3-1. (13) Fergie's "Fergalicious" defeats (1) OutKast's "Hey Ya" video 3-2, and (2) Tyler Campbell remains the highest seed in the bracket, taking out (6) Lost 3-0.

The Elite Eight:
The Mikey Nipp Regional Finals: (5) Wendy Garner vs (15) Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story
The iPod Regional Finals: (9) Ashley Judd vs (10) Factor 7
The Paula Maddox Regional Finals: (4) Kellie Pickler vs (10) James & Jessica Hawbaker
The Troy State Regional Finals: (13) Fergie's Fergalicious vs (2) Tyler Campbell

Okay, one more thing... Charla, the shortest member of Team Bats--- is using a butterknife to make herself throw up so she can eat more sausage. And because Team Bats--- and Dustin & Kandice are joined together for this task, they might cost my girls the game.

Mirna: I'm doing everything! I do everything! What are you supposed to be doing?!
Charla: Nothing. I'm supposed to just let you yell at me.

Bad times, bad bad times. (fyi, D&K just made the pit stop)