Friday, February 29, 2008

Four Years Later...

By the way... those of you who read the site have lots to read, including two days of Idol, a 100 Coolest Recap, a long post, and now one more...

But it would wrong to not mention one thing... despite my hotness for Amy Adams, and my adoration for friends like Nikki and Little Sister Ashley, and a love for castles versus my love for modern art, and the fact I've managed to get by 4 years without a single Streisand movie, and even knowing that Ashley Judd is truly a goddess (you have your Firth, I have my Judd), one thing remains true.

I love my wife Stephanie Leann more today than I ever did on February 28th, 2004, because of a million things I would be up all night listing.

Right now, its 110am, its 70 minutes from our 4 year anniversary day ending, and she's sleeping away blissfully. But I thought I would just say it here, because I know she'll read this tomorrow.

Steph Leann--I love you very, very much, and you are truly what God had for my life. Not only am I a better person just because I know you (you all are, really), but even more so because I'm married to you. I'm excited that you are still able to put up with me on this journey, and I can't wait to ride Cinderella's carousel with you again... (meaning that we would, of course, be there).
Your my song.

ps... before you ask me what I got her for our anniversary... I bought her a house. What more do you want?

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The 100 Coolest Things of 2007... 10 to 6 (and among other things, a McLachlan vs PM Dawn showdown)

“When you get married, things will slow down a little bit”… “When you get settled in your new home, life will slow down a little bit…” You’d think these things stand a chance of being true, but its lies, all lies.

The 10th Coolest Thing of 2007… Nikki Brown
Nikki and I have known each other for probably close to 8 years now, me having met her when she was an illegal high school student, and I was a Valleydale Baptist Church (a yet unnamed SBC fellowship) who kept my distance, lest I be named Brinks Part II. (old joke there)

Anyway, we hung out only in big circles and group outings, but in 2007, it was The Year of the Nikki. You could say it was Harry Potter who brought us together, as we bonded tightly over Harry and the like, especially in the days leading up to the release of “Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows”. Beyond that, we just became… well, good friends.

Me and my friend Nikki.

She’s great, with a great big warm smile and a great spirit and heart.  She's awesome.  __________________________________

So, you might have heard that I have taken the management position of the Starbucks on 20th Street & University, in downtown Birmingham. It was offered to me a few days ago, though when I say “offered”, its not as if you can refuse a store when its presented to you. While not my ideal situation, notably because 1) its downtown, and I hate downtown, and 2)parking sucks, its still a great store. The team is top notch, and I’m not walking into a rehab situation, one where I have to rebuild the store—I just have to maintain it.

Sadly, though, I leave Starbucks Cahaba Heights. I take great pride in the fact that I’ve help build that team to what it is, truly one of the best teams in this area, even the state. The team is cohesive, the team is excited, the team is ready to be the best. You might have heard that Starbucks across the country shut down last night for three hours for training… there is a reason for that.

For a while, Starbucks said they were the best. They were better than anyone else, when it came to retail and coffee, and for a while, they were better than anyone else. Well, over time, Dunkin’ Donuts got better, McDonalds got better, retail grocery coffee got a little better and so on, and all the while, while Starbucks is saying “we’re better!”, they weren’t. We weren’t.

So we decided to do something about it. We decided to get better. So I led our team in three hours of intensive training on exactly how to pull a perfect shot of espresso, on exactly how to achieve the perfect foam in a pitcher of milk, and exactly how to make a perfect customer connection. There’s more to making a beverage than just pulling a shot and pouring in some milk—there’s adjusting the grind, there’s timing the shot, there’s utilizing the shot before it dies, there’s aerating the milk just right, there’s plunging the steam wand into the milk at just the right time, there’s looking the customer in the eyes, saying thank you, knowing their name, wishing them well, asking how they are doing… this is what we did last night for three hours.

So if you need a great Starbucks Experience, then head to Cahaba Heights, where we’ll make it right. And better. At least until next week… then head to University and 20th Street, where we’ll make it even better.

The 9th Coolest Thing of 2007… “Enchanted”
What a great flick. I mean, seriously. I was actually looking forward to it, the more I saw the previews, and this would be a win two-fold… first , the Lovely Steph Leann really, really wanted to see it, so by taking her, I would be a rock star. Secondly, the movie looks really funny, so while making her happy, I get to enjoy it too.

Narrated by Julie Andrews (natch), it starts out animated (and like the Disney princess movies, with a storybook opening) and shows us Princess Gisele doing the normal Disney Princess things, almost self-mocking really. She’s singing, the animals are responding to her, she’s waiting for her dearest love to come and find her, while the Prince is strong, cocky, riding a horse and singing about how great he is, and how he will find his love. Tricked by the evil Queen Narissa, Princess Gisele is pushed down a magical well, only to come out on the other side…

…in New York City. Enter the gorgeously hot Amy Adams, in full wedding dress, playing the live action Gisele, who is, of course, wonderfully confused. Enter Patrick Dempsey, playing the real life executive Robert, father of the precious Morgan, and fiancĂ©e of the almost as good looking Nancy, played by almost as good looking Idina Menzel—you may remember her from the movie “Rent”, though most of my readers probably haven’t seen “Rent” (Scotty Latta did say he could relate to the gender bending Angel, not necessarily Angel’s life, but the internal struggle within to be himself in a world that asks you to be someone else… hey, he said it, not me)

Look! A reason to put up a picture of Amy Adams! I'll take it!

Anyway, the Queen, a delicious Susan Sarandon, shows up, wreaks havoc, as does the Prince, a hilarious James Marsden. In one of the funniest scenes ever, the Prince is singing atop a bridge… he hops down onto the path, in mid-song, only to be run over by a bicycle race. I laughed for a long, long time. This is one of those great movies that I look forward to watching again and again, and has a real shot at being in the Dave100, the 2012 edition.

So, on my DirecTV tonight, after watching all the shows I needed to watch--Survivor, American Idol, Celebrity Apprentice--I came upstairs to blog a little. As I flipped on the tv, I was met with quite a quandry. On at the same time... "DieHard 2: Die Harder"... "The Rock"... "Independence Day"... all incredible guys movies, all with lots of explosions, all with great casts, all movies featured in the Dave100. What do you do?

I lobbyed. I watched "The Rock" the other day, since it was on, but you can't really watch this movie too many times. Ed Harris, David Morse, legendary actor Bokeem Woodbine, Nic Cage and of course, Sean Connery. Then, there's "Independence Day", with Jeff Goldblum and Will Smith. "Shut up about the fat lady, you're obsessed with fat ladies, just get us out of here!"

Ultimately, I decided on "DieHard 2: Die Harder", partly because it features Fred Thompson, and this was perhaps my grief over Thompson's loss in the presidential race.

Also, you can't go wrong with Bruce. Did you know that General Esperanza is from the fictional country of Valverde, the same fake country used in Ah-nald's "Commando"? The first "DieHard" was actually supposed to be a sequel to that movie. Who knew?

The 8th Coolest Thing of 2007... Dave Ramsey
Live from Financial Peace Plaza, its the Dave Ramsey Show, where debt is dumb, cash is king and the paid off home mortgage has taken the place of the BMW as the status symbol of choice. I am your host, and this is the best in talk radio, service oriented talk radio, talk radio that matters.

And yes, I did that all from memory. Its hard to listen three hours per day, and in fact, I can't remember when I listened to a whole three hour, same-day show, though getting it on podcasting allows me to listen to multiple shows at a time.

Dave's just the man, really. He was a millionaire by his mid-20s, went bankrupt because he didn't know how to use his money wisely, and started all over again, making smart decisions, saving, investing and NOT using credit cards. Now that Steph and I are pretty much one single payment away from being debt free--except for the house we just bought two weeks ago--its entertaining and sometimes heartbreaking to listen to the people who call in now.

People with thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt and no concept of what to do with it. It kinda cracks me up to not only hear people who pull in $200K or more per year be completely saddled with so much debt, they are overdrawn at the bank, but also to hear Dave Ramsey say, simply, "You make 200 thousand dollars per year. I just can't feel sorry for you!"

Various websites and columns criticize his methods, including many that say "debt is not wrong!", and you know, debt may not be inherantly wrong. I mean, perhaps its okay to owe other people money. But he speaks to more than just debt... he speaks on how to handle your money. Its not so much paying off all your bills, its changing your habits and lifestyle so that when you get money, you make smart choices with it, and one day, yes, be completely debt free.

Just like you wouldn't take diet advice from a fat doctor, make sure your financial advise comes from someone with money, not broke people with fancy cars and 14 credit card statements per month.

What would it be like to not owe a single person or company one single thing? Of course, we'll always owe the power bill and water and cable and monthly utilities... but to have a thousand or more dollars per month that you previously dedicated to Chase Visa, to Discover, to Fannie Mae Student Loans, to Citi Card... now just used for whatever you want. Save. Retirement. Give some away. Save for that big screen tv and pay cash for it, so when you get it home, its yours.

The other day, I heard a guy call in who makes about $40,000 per year... and he had a $900 car payment per month. And all I could say is... "That's not me. Not anymore."

By the way, "DieHard 2: Die Harder" ended, and I managed to catch the end of "The Rock". Its worth it just to hear Nic Cage say, "That's how that s*%& works!!"

And, due to the coolness of DirecTV and satellite, even though I missed "Independence Day" on Encore a little while ago, its just coming on now on Encore West. The downside to DirecTV is that sometimes I'm roped into watching crap like "Deep Impact". And if ever you want to watch crap that involved Tea Leoni (a crappy actress), a list of B-grade actors (including Favreau, Ron Eldard, Dougray Scott and Leelee Sobieski given crappy roles), a comet hurling towards the Earth (a crappy plot outdone by "Armageddon") and Morgan Freeman (a cra... well, he's actually a really good actor, but he's alongside all the aforementioned crap), then "Deep Impact" is your crap.

Tonight, kicked off of Idol was The Yeager(meister), Alaina "The Gap", Robbie Carrico and Alex Andrea Lushington. I could've done without both Robbie and The Yeager(meister), though the latter had a cool nickname, but I liked both The Gap and Alex Andrea.

My favorite thus far? Brooke White. She's a very Carly Simon like singer, and I like Carly Simon quite a bit. KD Malloy is still the hottest, but I would probably buy a Brooke White cd before anyone else. That's not saying I'd buy a Brooke White cd, mind you.

Out of six seasons of American Idol, I own two Idol cds... the one from Pickles, and the one from McPhee. Both are not bad, really. I also have iTunes copies of Taylor Hicks' and Daughtry's cds, the former being not all that great, and the latter being really good. Oh, and Carrie Underwood's first cd is fabulous. Jason Roberts says that Clay Aiken's music is really good, but I just can't buy into it.

The Tie for the 6th Coolest Things of 2007... "How to Save a Life"/"Over My Head (cable car)" by The Fray
Every year, there seems to be a song that makes my top ten, as if its my favorite song of the year... perhaps years later, I still am enamored with it ("Black Horse & the Cherry Tree" by KT Tunstall, the 3rd coolest thing of 2006), and sometimes years later, I grow tired of it, and am not as taken by it as before ("Behind These Hazel Eyes" by Kelly Clarkson, who ranked 6th on 2005's coolest)

This year really is no different... both of these songs are magical, really, and I can't decide which ranks 7th and which ranks 6th, so I guess I'll just tie them at 6. The Fray is a Denver based band that has been around for a few years, and started out like most bands do... playing locally, trying to get radio play, releasing some self-titled EPs and such, and they worked their way up.

"Over My Head (cable car)" is just so darn singable. "I never knew... I never knew that everything was falling through..." is such a catchy tune, and now that you've read that, its in your head. On the other hand, "How to Save a Life" mostly caught fire because of play on "Grey's Anatomy", but also spent some time played in "Cold Case" and "One Tree Hill", and is also a fantastic tune.

Because of its media popularity, there are actually five videos to this song--the original, the Grey's Anatomy, the original redux, the September 11th version and the Katrina version.

Truly, it all comes down to the piano and vocals of the lead, Isaac Slade. I also remember Scotty Latta saying something on his old Rammer Jammer site about how much he liked The Fray, back before all this Fray momentum began. He always was a trendsetter.

What more can I say? I love these two songs. Tied for 6th on the Coolest Things of 2007.

Do I put newer songs on my favorite songs list? I used to. But not anymore. Blame that on Duncan Sheik.

I had this theory back in the day that any song had to be at least two years old before appearing on my mental Favorite Songs list. I figured that any song should be heard over and over to ensure that I don't get tired of it. This point was proved when "Barely Breathing" came out in 1996.

I loved that song. It was cool. Duncan Sheik and his guitar had this cool sound, this guitar rock sound and the song was just... well, awesome. I would turn it up when it came on the radio as I drove to Montgomery to work from Troy (I worked at The Disney Store in Monkeytown)... "I am barely breathing, I can't find the air, don't know who I'm kidding, imagining you care..."

My favorite song at that time? "I'd Die Without You" by P.M. Dawn, followed closely by "Piano in the Dark" by Brenda Russell and "Not the Only One" by Bonnie Raitt. I considered fast tracking Duncan to the top five, but decided to wait. I was never one of those people who had a different "favorite song" every week, so I refused to make "Barely Breathing" a favorite song after being out only a few months.

And I was right. Within a year, I tired of the song. Quickly. It just got old, fast. Even ten years later, it's just so-so for me, one that I might keep on if I can't find anything else. So, still, sixteen years after it came out, "I'd Die Without You" still holds my top spot... but just barely.

Over the years, Sarah McLachlan's "Possession" has gained much ground, working its way to the top to not only equal P.M. Dawn's superb song from "Boomerang", but in some ways surpass it. Still, Brenda Russell stays in 3rd, Bonnie Raitt in 4th, and "Head Over Heels" by Tears for Fears is in 5th, but that #1 spot is a toss up.

Its time to take a stand and make a decision. What should it be? In one corner, from the album "Fumbling Towards Ecstasy", its "Possession" by Sarah McLachlan, currently at #2, having been there for about 8 years. In the other corner, Dave's #1 song, ever, having held that spot since August of 1992, for over 800 weeks, 15 years, P.M. Dawn's "I'd Die Without You"

Follow the links. Listen to them both. What do you think?

Man, that felt good to get that off my chest.

The 100 Coolest Things of 2007... Recap

First, know it was my every intention of doing this list the first to third week of January. And then we went and did something silly like, you know, bought a house. So that kinda threw everything into disarray for a while. Well, now its turn to finish.

Since its been a month since you've seen the 100th coolest thing of 2007 to the 11th coolest thing of 2007, I thought perhaps a recap was in order...

#100 to 91... Michelle Carr, Leah Stewart's "The Myth of You and Me, Tony Dungy, that Air Supply infomercial, Katharine McPhee, "Surf's Up", NYC Jenni, Amy Adams, "Love Song" by Sara Bareilles, "Knocked Up"

#90 to 81... Wendi Deckermiller, "Barack the Magic Negro", "What If" by Robert Cowely, "Solitaire" on Fox Reality, classic videos on iTunes, "Drive", "The Reminder" by Feist, Amanda Laughlin, Boise State beats Oklahoma, Todd on Survivor

#80 to 71... Hannah Pruit, seeing Jenny Ross, the New England Patriots perfect regular season, the amnesty bill gets defeated, CelebTV, "The Way I Am" by Ingrid Michaelson, CarTalk on iTunes, the Robot Chicken Star Wars special, Samantha Brown, "Cell" by Stephen King

#70 to 61... Trinity defeats Millsaps, the 2007 College Football season, leading Financial Peace University, Adam Corolla on the Sports Guy podcast, "Cosy in the Rocket" by Psapp, "Golden Compass" bombs, the Blake Lewis beatbox, Factor 7 gets back together, Scott Latta, Colbie Caillat's "Coco", Whataburger!

#60 to 51... The Amazing Race All Stars, "The Shining" by Stephen King, MLK Weekend at the beach, Tyler graduates, The Lovely Steph Leann's one liners, STOMP!, "Salem's Lot" by Stephen King, "Transformers", Seth Rogan, Facebook

#50 to 41... "The Soup", Justin Timberlake, KDub, "300", Jonathan Taylor, ESPN's College Football Insider, "1776" by David McCollough, "Superbad", Weird Al's "Trapped in the Drive Thru", the trailer for "Cloverfield"

#40 to 31... Rush smacks Harry Reid, Tiffany Abbot-McCauley, Taylor Swift, spending Memorial Day in Destin, "No Country For Old Men", "Heroes", Rollercoaster Tycoon, Stephen King's "The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon", Brandi Carlile's "The Story", Andrea gets married

#30 to 21... "Mythbusters", "Ratatouille", Jason & KT, "Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix" (the film), dinner at Archibalds, Chris Hansen on "To Catch a Predator", "The Holiday", Troy beats Oklahoma State, Ann Coulter smacks Liz Edwards, Tanya Stephens

#20 to 11... Paula Maddox, babies abounding, Nelly Furtado's "Say It Right" video, "The 40 Year Old Virgin", James B. Stewart's "DisneyWar", Rush Limbaugh, "Grey's Anatomy", "Snow (hey-oh)" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Podcasting, "Fergalicious" by Fergie

Up next... the Ten Coolest Things of 2007. Finally. Seriously, I promise. No, really, I promise.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Idol Chicks... Ten Down, Two to Go

The chicks are up now, as the guys are in the dawg pound, awaiting results. Once again, it’s the 70s classics being performed for our 10 chicks, hoping to make the next round of 8, then finally, to 6, which puts them in the finals.

Carly Smithson
Irish Carly works at an Irish bar, and she and her husband also work at a tattoo parlor. She’s got a thicker accent than usual… I wonder if she’s adding to it.

HECK YA!!! Carly is busting out some “Crazy on You” by Heart, one of my 100 favorite songs of all time. This song freakin’ rocks… and Carly is rocking out with it. Wow… I was not expecting this. This is the best performance I’ve heard since the elimination rounds begin…. Rock on!!!

Randy thought the beginning was a little rough, but the middle and end went strong… Aight. Paula loves sunshine. Simon liked it better than last week’s, though he still doesn’t feel as if she’s chosen the right song that gives her The Moment. She’s awesome. I loved it.

Syesha Mercado
She reveals that she’s been in a few commercials, and then does a great imitation of Democrats. Kinda cool. She’s taking on Billy Paul’s “Me & Mrs. Jones”, though she’s singing “Me & Mr. Jones”… a song about a love with a young person and an older neighbor. Truly a song about Stifler’s mom before Stifler’s Mom came into being on the screen.

Syesha is wailing it, too. I like it. The song is not my cup of tea, but she performs it well. Randy says it was the wrong song choice, but it was aight, while Paula tosses butterflies and kittens her way, and Simon thought it was indulgent. Since the song wasn’t written for a girl to sing, he thought it was a bit silly to sing it that way. I thought it was alright.

Brooke White
She lets us know that she went to beauty school—and dropped out--and KT starts to giggle. She says she’s not talking because you, our loyal readers, will think she’s a horrible person. Yet, KT giggles.

She takes on Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain”, yet another one of Dave’s 100 Favorite Songs of All Time. By the way, for you new readers, I love Carly Simon, and this song is where “clouds in my coffee” comes from. Guitar in hand, she’s doing a decent job for it… KT asks me, “Do you like her singing this song, since you like it so much?” I replied, “Ehh… she’s pretty good.”

KT adds, “If you got to beauty school… shouldn’t your hair be… pretty?”

Randy makes a joke that the song was intended for Simon, possibly. Paula gives her puppies and noogies. Simon absolutely loved it. He even feels like the song was perfect.

Ramiele Malubay
Little Ramy used to Polynesian dance (hula dancing for those people in Mississippi) when she was little, though that can’t be too long ago. She says she might do it onstage, if she does a fast song.

Another great song! Thelma Houston’s “Don’t Leave Me This” starts a disco run for Idol. This is a great song cause it starts out slow, builds, then busts out with “ooooohhhhh baaaybbeeee! My heart’s full of love and deeee-sire fo’ you!!”

Little Ramy is doing okay with it, though she’s a little more subdued then I would have thought. Big Jo from last week would have been going to town on this, had she not got cut last week.

Randy says it was a little rough for him, and with so many dope records, she choice this one and it was the wrong choice. Paula drops a bucketful of sunshine on Paula’s feet. Simon astonishingly agrees with Paula, thinking it wasn’t very good.

Kristy Lee Cook
KLC says she’s a tomboy. She rides horses, she camps, she boxes, she fishes, she’s a redneck woman she ain’t no high-class broad. She’s just a product of her raising, she says Hey y’all and Ye Haw!

Linda Ronstandt is the artist of choice for KLC, singing “You’re No Good”. KT says, “Last week I didn’t think she was all that pretty, but right now, she’s really beautiful.” I agree, I think. Maybe its because I’m a boy and there’s cleavage involved. Inner monologue, sorry.

Randy says it’s a 100 percent improvement over last week, but he liked it aight. Paula throws grenades of sunshine that when they explode, they turn into pink and lavender ponies. Simon says he has a feeling that KLC should possibly explore a country route.

Amanda Overmyer
She comes out with a mane of hair streaked, and she looks like Simba. She tells us that she rides a Harley, is a nurse, and loves reading. She reads rock icon biographies, which she says helps educate herself.

Actually, she doesn’t look like Simba, she looks more like Scar. KT thinks its more Cruella de Vil. Either way, she’s highly weird looking. She’s singing… okay, she stabbing to death… Kansas’ “Carry On My Wayward Son”. The best part of this song is when she’s not singing, and the guitar is playing.

The final note comes, thank Heavens, and she pretty much eats the microphone. I thought she should have done Heart—“Magic Man” or “Barricuda”.

Randy didn’t like it at all. Paula compliments Scar de Vil on her dancing, and struggles for something good to say. Simon says he felt like the video was real, and natural, while her performance felts really contrived, and the song was ugly. I totally agree… the song was terrible.

Alaina Whittaker
The 16 year old reveals she doesn’t like the food that touches each other. Hear hear! I feel ya.

She’s doing some Olivia Newton-John, “Hopelessly Devoted to You” (which, when teased before the commercials, The Lovely Steph Leann and KT both gasped). KT asks “Is she The Gap?”

The Gap Toothed Blonde takes the stage, and already I’m bored. She actually could put the microphone in her gap in her front teeth, and sing from the back of her throat. The song isn’t bad, but to me, it was kinda unremarkable.

Randy likes the song, but didn’t like the song choice. He uses the word “Pitchy”. Paula loves Alaina. Simon likes her a lot too, but thought the song was old fashioned, as was the performance and presentation. He admits that she’s a “dark horse” in this competition, liking her more now than a few weeks ago.

Alexandrea Lushington
A former poster child for the Atlanta fire department, cause her pops was in the AFD, and she got to sing at Ground Zero too. Very cool.

She’s singing “If You Leave Me Now” by Chicago. This is a risky move… not because Chicago is necessarily hard to sing, but because Steph Leann loves loves loves her some old school Chicago. The verdict? Steph Leann says, after a pause, “Hmm… she’s… okay.”

Randy says the song was too safe, which is one of the first times the word “safe” is used. Paula jumps in to give her hugs and giggles. Simon says he was a big fan of Alexandrea back in the day, but that she’s struggling now, and the song is so old fashioned. I can agree with that.

Kady Malloy
KD is an opera singer, singing the big O since she was 9. Opera is not my cup of tea, unless its preceed by the words “Phantom of the”.

Here’s “Magic Man” by Heart! And unlike Carly Smithson, she’s not doing so great. KD is probably the hottest chick in this show right now, but she’s not doing herself any favors by this song. “Magic Man” is probably in Dave’s 150 Favorite Songs of All Time (possibly in the top 100, but I’m not sure yet).

KT says her dress makes her look like she has a big bulbed string of Christmas lights hanging from her neck.

Randy says she never quite found the notes. Paula is digging in her pocket for some sunshine, though she only finds rainclouds. Simon didn’t like it at all. He even says “Everything you do on film is fantastic… but the performances are not very good at all.”

I think KD is in real danger.

Asia’h Epperson
She was a middle school and high school cheerleader! Who knew? She went to cheer camp!

I really like Asia’h, and I hope she does well. She is singing “All by Myself” by Eric Carmen, also made famous a few years ago by Celine Dion. This song has real belt potential, which is probably why she sang it.

And… during the part she’s supposed to belt, it sounded like she dropped a note, like completely. And she hits another note that made KT turn over and Steph Leann look up sharply. She redeemed it at the end, but wow that was kinda rough.

Randy reveals that Asia’h has been sick, and even after that, he liked it. Paula has a cup full of ta-da and sunshine, and splashes it all over Asia’h. Simon says it takes one heck of a singer to pull that song off, and she couldn’t do it because she’s not that good.

So… I think that Scar de Vil is gone. After her, I think KD is in danger.

Idol Boys... Then there were 10

American Idol is live! The guys will come out and try to bring it for another week! After the storm that almost ripped our town apart (not really, but it did wake me up at like, 4am this morning, as did the phone call from my ASM telling me that Starbucks had lost power, to which we didn’t actually open the store until 3pm and… wait, where was I?)

Last week, it was the 60s, and this week, its the 70s (think next week might be the 80s?). Michael Johns is up first, and he’s singing “Go Your Own Way” from Fleetwood Mac. He sounds okay, but I’m not sure I like his version of this. He’s missed a few notes already, and I’m not sure I can dig it.

Its not perfect, I can tell you that… Randy liked it okay, er, aight, Paula loved it, and Simon says it was his weakest performance of the whole competition. I totally agree with that.

Jason Castro is up next, the dreadlocked guy. He’s admitting to the camera that he hates doing interviews, because they are always awkward. Its kinda funny, actually… he says, “I love music, but there’s more of the not-music stuff than I thought.”

He’s got the guitar again, and he can play it well. I don’t know the song he’s singing… wait, yes I do. It’s a Bee Gees song. The Dreadlocked One is doing Bee Gees with a guitar… and sounding great. His version of “I Just Want to Be Your Everything” is really good, and the Lovely Steph Leann admits, “I don’t like his hair… but he’s really good looking. Like, really good looking.”

Randy didn’t like it much. I thought it sounded great. I guess I agree with Paula, who blows sunshine. Simon didn’t like it at all, mentioning weak vocals. They challenge him to go without the guitar next week… if he makes it to next week.

Luke Menard is coming up now, telling us that he’s part of an acapella group called Chapter Six. Luke is doing some Queen, “Killer Queen” in particular. Interesting choice in songs, really… I mean, he was a rainbowy as a box full of Lucky Charms, but Freddie Mercury was a musical genius, so Luke is doing one heck of a step-out to take on the Fred.

As boring as I think this guy is, I surprisingly liked his performance. It wasn’t my favorite, but he was much better than last week’s schmaltzy stuff. Randy recognized the risk and liked it, Paula blows sunshine in Luke Menard’s ear, and Simon thinks it was a mistake. “The singer of that song has charisma and personality, and you didn’t,” is what Simon says, and I agree with that.

Ryan calls him Dawson’s Creek. That was really funny.

Robbie Carrico, the guy who looks like a younger, blonder Travis Tritt, has his turn behind the microphone. Robbie admits he’s a drag racer back home, loving the rush of the fuel and tires and so on. So, 2 Fast 2 Furious is doing Foreigner’s “Hot Blooded”, and already, I don’t like it.

Lou Gramm has this rockin’, deep, raspy voice when he belts out “hot blooded! Check it and see! Got a fever of a hundred and three!”, and Robbie just doesn’t have it. As my friend Erin Formerly Known as Coates would say, Robbie drops into my NO pile.

Randy not only gives Lou Gramm a mention, but says he wasn’t wowed at all. Paula loves Robbie and shows it her sunshiny best, including saying an Inspirational Poster. Simon liked the vocal, actually.

Danny “I could be a friend to you” Noriega is now making his way to the stage. Not sure if he’s wearing pumps or not. He admitted that he was in a punk rock band a few years ago… not sure of the band name, possibly R.E.M. (rear end men), or maybe Brokeback Mountme or something. Anyway, Danny Noriega is taking on “Superstar” by The Carpenters, one of those untouchable groups to The Lovely Steph Leann. I think Steph Leann threw up in her mouth.

Randy has problems with the vocals, while Paula isn’t sure whether to give him props or take him purse shopping. Simon thought this was better than last week (what wasn’t?). I will now stop Steph Leann from poking popsicle sticks in her eyes.

I’m not thoroughly convinced that Danny Noriega isn’t a girl.

David Hernandez has his turn to sing. He used to be a gymnast when he was a kid. D-Hern is singing something that I don’t recognize, though he’s not too bad with it… ah, yes, “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” by Dylan. I like this guy, I think. Even if the song itself is not perfect, I do like his version of it. Its different, its fun, its Hernandez.

Randy loved it. Paula stood up for him. Literally, up and clapping, and sunshiny. Simon says it was the best vocal of the night. Out of what we’ve heard so far, I agree.

The Yeager(meister) is up, and he is a multi-instrument player, including piano, guitar and drums. Very talented, but can he handle the Doobie? As in, the Doobie Brothers, that he’s trying to sing. No, not a real doobie, though I’m sure he could. Not that I think he is a drug dealer or anything, I’ve just realized that people who you wouldn’t think would do things sometimes will… oh heck, I’m rambling again.

Yeager(meister) is singing “Without Love”, or at least, I think that’s the name of it. I actually like The Doobie Brothers, especially when Michael McDonald was lead, though this isn’t one of those songs. However, Yeager(meister) is doing a pretty fine job mirroring the lead of the Doobies. I will say he’s about two inches away from having a full blown Flock of Seagulls hair cut.

Randy didn’t like it. He said it was a little pitchy, and perhaps karaoke, and actually, I could see that. Paula is struggling to criticize, and is just tossing out some flowers and butterflies. Simon didn’t like it at all, and is throwing out some meanness. Simply put, “You’re a quite good singer who can’t perform very well”.
Yeager(meister) responds, talking about he wants to get into the heart of a song, and will have to come out next week even better, and Simon says, “Its like the Oscars, the speeches are never ending, we need the Oscar music.” Yeager(meister) looks as if he’s about to come across that desk and kick Simon in the face with serious abandon.

On a side note, I really like that song in the MacBook Air commercials.

CheezyDeezy is singing Donnie Hathaway. He reveals that his name is Nigerian, from a native dialect. And his last name is Ezy? CheezyDeezy Ezy? Oobie Scoobie Doobie Kanoobie?

CheezyDeezy is breakin’ it down though, I’ll give it to him. He hasn’t really been one of my favorites, mostly cause he’s been boring… until tonight. I’m tossing CheezyDeezy into Erin Formerly-Known-As-Coates YES pile.

Randy shouts, “CheezyDeezy is back! Dat was hot, baby!” Paula says “brilliant clouds puppies babies”. Simon can’t say his name, but gave him some props. CheezyDeezy gets some love. Simon takes a shot at CheezyDeezy’s suit from last week, which was horrid, and asks him if he’ll wear it again… CheezyDeezy says, “Man, we on tv, I can’t wear it twice, only you do that!” Simon has a “I hate you now” grin on his face. I’m still expect Yeager(meister) to jump off the balcony onto Simon, yelling “CheezyDeezy! Let’s take him!”

And if you think I’m using his name over and over cause I think it’s funny, you’d be right.

David Rob Thomas Cook is a word-geek. He likes using big words. Me too. I knew I liked this guy. My love for words I can’t say equivilates his word-geekdom.

He’s singing “All Right Now”, with the guitar in hand, by the band Free, a notable one hit wonder you’ll hear in most TimeLife 70s collections and movies like “Dazed & Confused”. David Rob Thomas Cook is a very likable guy, and he’s not too bad with this… it wasn’t great, but it was decent enough.

Randy called him “the real rocker of the show this year”, which I’m sure made Robbie Carrico clinch his fists. Paula says something about balloons, clowns, kittens and rainbow flowerdom. Simon liked it, though says David Rob Thomas Cook doesn’t have a lot of charisma. He responds, “Fortunately, I don’t have to win you over, I have to win the people at home with my charisma,” to which Simon responds, gritting his teeth, “I know the rules of the competition.”

And Young David Archuleta is finishing up the Guys Night. He reveals that when he was 11, he was able to meet the American Idol first season finalists, including Kelly Clarkson. Of course, when he was 11, it was 2002. No, I’m not kidding.

He’s singing “Imagine”, always a risk on this show. There are certain songs that you just better shy away from, unless you are going to bring da noise and da funk—or in this case, knock it out of the park. Several Celine songs, a few Whitney songs, some Mariah songs and John Lennon’s “Imagine” are on that shortlist.

Granted, Young David is doing the song justice. I’m a little bored, really, but he sounds great singing it. What will the judges say?

Randy says, “Dawg, that was one of the best vocals I’ve ever heard on this show!” Young David says he sang the third verse only, because it was his favorite and has a great message. Paula is filling out adoption papers. Simon says what I said earlier… very, very risky. He says that Young David pulled it off, and has now become the one to beat. If Young David wins this thing (and make no mistake, he will end up in the Final 12), he’ll definitely have a Buble/Groban type career, which is not a bad thing.

My picks for the Final Six Guys? Young David, CheezyDeezy, Jason Castro, Michael Johns, David Rob Thomas Cook and unfortunately, Danny Jessica Alba Noriega. I think David Hernadez could end up in there, bouncing out The Dreadlocked One or Noriega.

Going home on Thursday? Luke Menard should probably get out—he’s not going to win this, and either Yeager(meister) or Robbie Carrico. I only say those two because really, they are both rather boring.

Onto the chicks!!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The 2008 Oscar Running Diary

The Oscars have begun with a cool little animated montage with references to about 100 films or more… and since it actually started at 730pm our time, and its actually 930pm our time… we’ll start from 930pm.

930pm… Jon Stewart is introduced as the host of the 80th Annual Academy Awards. I remain one of about 4 people in the world that doesn’t think he or the Daily Show is actually funny (mostly because its so inaccurate as “news”, which it never claims to be yet enjoys its status as a newscast)

933pm… Jon makes a few funny remarks, though.
--“’Away From Her’, a remarkable movie about a woman trying to forget her husband. Hillary Clinton called it the ‘feel good movie of the year’”
--“’Norbit’ got a nomination… too often, the Academy ignores movies that aren’t good”

935pm… Ah, there he goes. Political jokes. Its funny, he discusses issues and positions, then nudges a vote for Democrats. Somebody please tell me what Obama has done? Ever? Ever?

937pm… Here comes the awards! Jennifer Garner is up to present the first Oscar, that being the Costume award. I went with Atonement… and the winner is… Elizabeth: The Golden Age. It’s a two point category, and Stephanie and Nikki get it. Ashley, me and Mikey – Zero.

940pm… George Clooney is up now, looking debonair as always, to introduce a montage over the last 80 years of Academy Awards. I always think the montages are fun, honestly…

945pm… Anne Hathaway is joined by Steve Carrell. Anne has a total strangeness in dress. And for the 2nd award, it’s the Animated Feature category. Jon Stewart = not really funny. Steve Carrell = totally freakin’ funny.

948pm… I went with Ratatouille. And the winner is… Ratatouille! I’m 1 for 2 tonight, and pick up the 3 points. So does everyone else. Nikki & Stephanie are at 5 points, while Mikey, Ashley & myself are at 3 points. Brad Bird is Ratatouille’s director, and has a great speech.

950pm… Katherine Heigl is here for the makeup award, which is ironic because she does have a little bit too much rouge on. This is the movie Norbit was nominated for… but I went with Pirates 3. And the winner is… La Vie An Rose. Curse it all. One point goes to Mikey, which puts him at 4. I didn’t realize this was the Marion Cotillard movie, otherwise I would have gone with it… shucks.

953pm… The first of the five songs are up now, this one being “Happy Working Song” from Enchanted, one of the Top Ten Coolest Things of 2007. And Amy Adams, aka Total Hotness, is singing it! The Lovely Steph Leann has a grin the size of a Buick right now. This grin is nothing to what will be going on that lovely face when Amy Adams throws down to “That’s How You Know”.

958pm… The Rock is in the house! The People’s Champion! Yes, yes, mancrush. Shut up. Here comes the Visual Effects Award. I picked Transformers. And the winner is… The Golden Compass. And Nikki gets it… one point awarded, Nikki 6, Steph 5, Mikey 4, d$ and Ashleynipp have 3. My solace is that the movie made about 57 dollars at the box office, and half of that was popcorn.

10pm… Cate Blanchett is up for Art Direction. She’s one of those that sometimes, like tonight, can look totally gorgeous… and other times looks hideous. I chose There Will Be Blood in this one. The winner is Sweeney Todd. I am absolutely sucking wind tonight… just terrible. Steph Leann, Mikey and Ashleynipp get it, putting me in dead last. Nikki & Steph 6, Mikey 5, Ashleynipp 4, me 3.

1003pm… An Acting Award, one of the big ones, a four point category. They are replaying the Cuba Gooding Jr win for Jerry Maguire in 1997, which was absolutely awesome. Tonight? I picked Javier Bardem for “No Country for Old Men”. His role of Anton Chigurh was amazing. Personally? I’m rooting for Hal Holbrook, just because it was would be so cool to see him win one at 80 years old. The winner is? Javier Bardem. Four points for me, Steph Leann and Mikey. Steph has 9, Mikey has 8, I have 7, Nikki has 6, Ashleynipp has 4.

1013pm... Keri Russell appears, looking very elegant. Never thought she was all that good looking, but she does look classy tonight. This song she’s introducing is from “August Rush”, a little film that I’ve never seen, and most of you probably won’t see either.

1017pm… Owen Wilson, Academy Award nominee (for what?), is here for the Short Film category. I have no idea what I picked, Steph Leann has the ballots. The winner is The Mozart of Pickpockets. I didn’t pick that, I’m sure. Steph Leann gets it right… one more point for her. She now has 10 points overall. This guy who won the Oscar is talking, and I’m not sure if he’s trying to talk or cough something up, with his accent so thick.

1020pm… The Short Animated Film category is up, and I picked I Met The Walrus, whatever that’s about. The Oscar goes to Peter and the Wolf, which looked pretty awesome from the clip they showed. No one gets it right.

1024pm… Supporting Actress award, presented by last year’s supporting actor winner, Alan Arkin. This is a four point category, and I went with sentimental favorite Ruby Dee, from “American Gangster”. And the winner is… Tilda Swinton for “Michael Clayton”. I actually didn’t see that one coming, and Nikki takes the four points. Nikki and Steph Leann are tied at 10, Mikey has 8, I still have 7 and Ashleynipp has 4. Tilda looks terrible. I accidentally saw her nude in a film once, and it hurt my eyes. I turned the channel quickly.

1030pm… The teaser says “Stay tuned for Jessica Alba!” to which Steph Leann says “Jessica Alba will never be taken seriously again. Like she ever was. She hasn’t made a good movie in like, forever.” Jessica Alba is out to present the Scientific Technical Awards. We fast forwarded.

1032pm… Josh Brolin and James McAvoy are out together to present another award, this one being Adapted Screenplay. I went with “No Country for Old Men”. The winner is “No Country”! Its 4 points, and Steph Leann goes to 14, Mikey goes to 12, I have 11, Nikki stays at 10 and Ashleynipp has 8.

1039pm… “That’s How You Know” from Enchanted is being played, being sung by Kristen Chenoweth. Steph Leann’s grin went from really, really big to sort of a smile, now that Amy Adams isn’t singing it. Though she still has the head bobbing. Of course, if you are going to replace Amy Adams with anyone for this song, you can do a lot worse than Kristen Chenoweth.

1044pm… Dame Judi Dench and Dame Halle Berry are coming out and… oh wait, this is Jonah Hill and Seth Rogan. This is even better. And they are pretty funny… anyway, the award is for Sound Editing, and I picked The Bourne Ultimatum. And it wins! Another point for me! Steph Leann is at 15, Mikey stays at 12, I tie at 12, Nikki has 10 and Ashleynipp has 8 still.

1047pm… Seth and Jonah are still at it. The award is for Sound Mixing, and I went with Transformers, just cause I’d really like it to get something. And the winner is… The Bourne Ultimatum again. Stupid me… I should have picked this for both of these Sound awards. No one gets it this time around.

1051pm… The Best Actress Award is up next, the first 5 point category. I went with Julie Christie, only because she got tons of praise for this role… not that I have seen it, or will probably see “Away from Her”. I would give up the entire Oscar contest to see Laura Linney win an Oscar, though…. I luv luv luv Laura Linney’s acting. And the Oscar goes to Marion Cotillard, a heavy favorite… and no one picked her. Stupid foreigners gettin’ our awards. It was cute, though, with her walking off stage crying.

1059pm… Colin Farrell walks out, and almost slipped. He’s here to introduce the 4th nominated song from the little seen Irish film “Once”, it’s the song “Falling Slowly”. The song starts, I ask Steph Leann if I can fast forward, she looks at me funny with a “no”. So we listen to “Falling Slowly”. The might want to put the word “asleep” in the middle of the title.

1102pm… Jack Nicholson comes out… always a good time. Just hearing him talk cracks me up. He’s here to introduce the montage of “Best Pictures”.

1107pm… Either Renee Zellweger or Jewel just came out, I can’t tell. Though I think they might be the same person. Here’s the Film Editing Award, which I picked The Bourne Ultimatum. I got another one! Personally, The Bourne Ultimatum could have been a Best Picture nominee. Scorecard: Steph Leann 15, d$ 13, Mikey 12, Nikki 10 and Ashleynipp has 9.

1110pm… Jon Stewart: “Film editing… someone just took the lead in the Oscar pool based on a guess.” Yep.

1110pm… Nicole Kidman is out now. I used to be so into Nicole Kidman, though she’s kind of falling out for me. She’s still pretty, but I lean Kate Winslet now. This is some sort of Lifetime Achievement Award for an art director, one who’s 98. Robert Boyle gets an Honorary Oscar, and a standing ovation. It is cool, however, that they award someone who’s not an actor nor a director.

1118pm… Steve Guttenberg is going to be on Dancing with the Stars. Just sayin’.

1119pm… Penelope Cruz comes out to present another award. The Foreign Flick Prize. I think I picked the Polish film, Katlyn. The Counterfeiters from Austria gets it. Steph Leann picks it up, as does Mikey. Steph gets to 17 points, while Mikey goes to 14.

1122pm… A member of Steph’s “Colin Firth Club”, Patrick Dempsey comes out to introduce “So Close”, also from Enchanted. Luckily, Steph Leann allows me to fast forward through it.

1124pm… John Travolta, who should have gotten a nod in the makeup category for “Hairspray”, is giving out Original Song. Travolta’s face is heavily made up, and looks plastic. I picked “That’s How You Know” from Enchanted. The winner? “Falling Slowly” from “Once”. I wonder if Enchanted canceled each other out. Steph Leann is unhappy, calling the people who did win it “Losers”. The three points goes to Mikey, who now tied Steph Leann at 17. I’m at 13, Nikki stays at 10 and Ashleynipp still has 9.

1128pm… Me: If “Its Hard Out Here For a Pimp” can beat Bono for best song, then anything can happen in this category.

1130pm… Jon Stewart brings out the chick from the duo that just won best song. The guy got to talk, but the music cut them off, so Jon got her out to say her thank-you’s. That was actually kinda cool.

1131pm… Cameron Diaz comes out… remember what I said about Cate Blanchett? Yep. Cameron too. Our award now is Cinematography, and I went with There Will Be Blood. A 2 point category, its important to stay up with the leaders. And the winners are… There Will Be Blood! My total runs to 15, and Nikki finally gets up to 12! Mikey takes the lead at 19, Steph Leann is still at 17, and Ashleynipp breaks double digits with 11 points now.

1134pm… Two time Oscar winner and one time Chad Lowe wife, Hilary Swank! And here’s the legacy montage, and I’m sure a big ovation will be given to Heath Ledger. This one is always kinda sad. Sometimes you get the “I didn’t know that guy died!” reaction. This time it was Dabbs Greer, the old mad in “The Green Mile”. Sadly, we also lost Deborah Kerr. And the loudest reaction is given to Heath Ledger. Strangely, no Brad Renfroe mention.

1139pm… My latest Hollywood crush, Amy Adams, comes out with a “Academy Award nominee” label… it took us a second to remember “Junebug”, which I still haven’t seen. The award for Best Score is being given out. I picked Atonement. Rock! The winner is Atonement! 3 points go to me… and everyone else but Ashleynipp. Mikey has 22, Steph has 20, I have 18, Nikki has 15 and Ashleynipp is at 11.

1143pm… Tom Hanks, a two time winner, is up next, giving out the Documentary Awards, first the Documentary Short Film. Actually, they cut to soldiers in Baghdad, naming the nominees and giving out the award. Great move. I picked Sari’s Mother. Sari’s mom has it going on. You know that Sari. The winner is… Freeheld. Crapola. At least no one else picked it either. Except for Michael. His lead goes to 3 points, now with 23 total. Steph Leann screams “Mikey… you suck!!” And, even better, Freeheld is all about gay marriages. Mikey would get that one right.

1147pm… Tom Hanks now has the Documentary Feature Award. I picked No End in Sight, because an anti-American, anti-military movie is right up Hollywood’s alley. Taxi to the Dark Side, another anti-military film gets the win. Here comes the anti-American speech! Ashleynipp gets the 2 points, bringing her total to 13.

1150pm… “After Gitmo’s atrocities…” says the guy holding the award. That’s right, after four meals per day, prayer rugs, religious freedoms and all, how terrible it must be for these terrorists who want nothing more to blow up and destroy American lives.

1151pm… Harrison Ford walks out in all his stature. Are you pumped for Indy 4? Me too. He’s got the award for Original Screenplay, and its worth 4 points. I picked Juno. Unfortunately, we all picked Juno. Diablo Cody wins for Juno, and even gets a standing ovation. Mikey still leads with 27, Steph has 24, I have 22, Nikki has 19 and Ashleynipp trails with 17.

1156pm… The Best Actor Award is up now, another 5 point category. I think most of us picked Daniel Day-Lewis. Helen Mirren is up to give the award, and I think even though she’s like, 84 years old, she’s remarkably stunning. And she just said the word “cajones”.

12am… Daniel Day-Lewis, predictably, picks up the Oscar. Mikey jumps to an almost insurmountable 32 points, Steph has 29, I have 27, Nikki has 24 and Ashleynipp has 22 still.

1201pm… I think Daniel Day-Lewis is one of those actors that is highly underrated, and that no one mentions when they are talking about ‘Great actors’, but perhaps should. I mean, he doesn’t do a ton of work, but what he does is remarkable… he was the best thing about Gangs of New York, he was apparently great in There Will Be Blood, and he was awesome in Last of the Mohicans.

1204pm… It’s time for the Best Director Award. Last year, Scorsese won it, given to him by Coppola, Spielberg and Lucas. Someone in the room said, “I wonder if George Lucas wants their Oscars” to which, Drew Morris replied, “Yes, but I HAVE BILLIONS!!!” Funniest line of the night.

1206pm… I went with the Coen Brothers for “No Country For Old Men” for this award, and I was right. Another 5 points… for everyone but Nikki. Mikey has 37, Steph has 34, I have 32, Ashleynipp takes over 4th with 27 and Nikki is in danger of a First to Worst finish, still with 22 points.

1208pm… And finally… Denzel Washington comes out for the Best Picture. I went with “No Country for Old Men”. And the final Oscar goes to… “No Country for Old Men”. The final tally of the night? Michael wins it with 42 points, Steph Leann finishes 2nd again with a 39 point total. I end up with 37, Ashleynipp finishes with 27 and Nikki bombs out with 22.

So, that’s your 2008 Academy Awards… Michael is now a 4 time winner, though this one might have an asterisk on it, being over email and with only five participants, as opposed to the usual 12 or more people every year.

Well… I guess we’ll see you on Idol. I’m going to bed now.

Steph Leann (repeating this three times): “Stupid Michael”

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Idol Night... Chicks Dig It

It's 938pm on Thursday night... due to a meeting that is directly related to the three hour shutdown of Starbucks on Tuesday night... and I don't know who got hoisted from Idol. I'll be watching it on DVR in about 20 minutes or so, as soon as The Lovely Steph Leann finishes watching "A Walk to Remember". This is my life.

But here is what I wrote on Wednesday, during the girls night...

Once again, its plausibly live from The Cabana, this time in the room where The Lovely Steph Leann, wrapped in a blanket, and joining us are KT and Jason!

KT’s first remark? “I don’t think Paula should ever be allowed to talk in public.” We first visit the recaps of all the chicks who made it through the auditions, and now its revealed that Jason hates American Idol… so for him, this is torture.

Kristy Lee Cook is up first, KLC who already has a record contract (or at least had one… if she still had one, she wouldn’t be on Idol). She looks like someone I should find really pretty, but somehow doesn’t. She sold her horse to make it on Idol.

“She’s too skinny to be pretty. Skinny people are disgusting,” so sayeth KT. KLC is singing “Rescue Me” by Fontana Bass. Jason says, “This song has no pop… no crackle… no snap…”

KLC is rather boring, if I do say so. She looks okay, she sounds okay, but really… she’s kind of forgettable. Randy didn’t like it that much, while Paula will now blow sunshine. Apparently, the flu bug has hit Idol, and KLC is sick. Simon says, “What are you made of? Not a lot.” I agree.

This exchange:
Steph Leann: “She should have had sung that… you know that song where the guy jumps off the bridge? You know that one where…”
Jason: “…jumps off the Tallahassee Bridge…”
Me: “Ode to Billy Joe by Bobby Gentry?”
Steph Leann: “Yeah, that’s it!!”

Joanne Borgella
A plus size model (KT replies, “Whatever… she is a plus, plus size model”) from New Jersey is 2nd tonight. Joanne starts out with really the only thing that Dionne Warwick ever did right, “Say a Little Prayer”, which really was outdone by Rupert Everett in “My Best Friend’s Wedding”.

Joanne: “I just want to help music touch other people’s lives like…”
Jason: “…the way food has touched my life?”
KT: “JASON! Be careful! He’s blogging!”

Randy says, “The first was a little weird for me, but you got it at the end,” while Paula blows sunshine. Simon didn’t like it a’tall. A very average, cabaret song, he says, and I agree.

Alaina Whittaker
The youngest contestant in the show comes up next, and Jason makes a crude joke about the gap in her teeth. KT shouts at him, then pauses, and says, “Wow… her teeth are kinda bad.”

She’s pretty in a jailbait sort of way, but not really. Actually, she’s kinda pretty in a Jennifer Herndon sort of way. She’s singing that “I love you more today than yesterday, but only half as much as tomorrow…” song from last night. We found out its from Spiral Staircase, a one hit wonder from the 60s.

I’ll be honest… I didn’t think I’d like Alaina, and I actually did. So did KT, Jason and the Lovely Steph Leann, who says, “I think she did her thang.”

Randy liked it. Paula has lots of sunshine, and is serving it up on a platter. Simon actually hated the song itself, but liked her performance.

Amanda Overmyer
The rocker of the chicks, she kinda scares me a little. I think she could actually beat up everyone in this room. If you take her hair out, Amanda has a plump-Full-House-Candice-Cameron look about her, so sayeth Jason. KT and I think Kelly Osbourne.

None of know what she’s singing. Actually, I can’t really understand anything she’s saying. I know the song, and can hear the original in my mind, and it sounds better in my mind—I heard it in “Good Morning, Vietnam”.

Randy likes the performance. Paula says “flowers, clouds, ponies, puppies”. Simon likes her as well. Steph Leann and I both said, “What was that?” We still don’t know.

Amy Davis
Yet another that I don’t remember in the audition process. Her eyebrows are kind of weird. Pointy. She’s singing “Where the Boys Are” by Connie Francis.

I’m bored already. Jason fell asleep the moment Amy opened her mouth. Not only is the song boring, the performance is boring. KT just lapsed into a coma. Steph Leann is getting caffeine injections, though with that final note, we all woke up.

Randy didn’t like it. Paula is looking for something positive, so she naturally regressed to how pretty Amy looks, which is a stretch too. Amy’s okay. Simon didn’t like it, either.

Brooke White
One of my preseason hopefuls, the chick who reminds me of Carly Simon, and I luvs me some Carly Simon. She’s almost got the mouth for it.

Brooke is taking on “Happy Together” by the Turtles. Maybe I’m biased, but I kinda like her. David Cook may have done it a little better last night, but Brooke is doing her thing.

Randy liked it by the middle. Paula blows sunshine. Simon liked the song, but considered it all average. One thing I can say is, Brooke has great hair, and is very toothy. Her eyebrows are normal, though.

Alexandrea Lushington
Alex gets the award for being the most likely to look like she belongs in Destiny’s Child. Gosh, my pop culture vein runs empty again… she’s singing “Spinning Wheel” by… by… by… crap. She’s pretty soulful, and KT and I both kinda like her.

I dig it because she’s fun. She’s bouncing all over the stage, though Jason observes the suspenders looks like Rerun from “What’s Happening” and subsequently, “What’s Happening Now”. Randy says, “You blew the doors off a’dat”.

Its Blood Sweat & Tears, by the way.

Paula has a wheelbarrow of fluff and she’s dumping it out on the stage, complete with a “dope outfit” compliment. Simon didn’t get it. He says it sounds musical-esque, but darn it, I really liked it. It was the most fun of any chick tonight.

Kady Malloy
Jailbait alert! Before the age shows up, I just want to go on the record and say she’s kinda hot. And then it flashes up that she’s 18. I sorta feel creepy now, but at least she’s legal.

She’s the one who can imitate Britney Spears, without the bald head and bi-polar disorder and kids and crappy ex husband and all that.

Kady is singing “Groovy Kind of Love” by The Mindbenders. Unlike Amy Davis, she’s actually doing well with the ballad. If you’re going to do a ballad, you gotta wail, and though Kady isn’t wailing, per se, at least I’m awake. Maybe its because she’s hot.

Jason is yawning, but KT, Steph Leann and I can dig it. Randy says “okay”, while Paula tosses up some fluff on butterfly wings, headed straight for Kady. Simon didn’t like it at all. And Kady looks as if she’s holding back the tears.

Her problem was she did the Phil Collins version from the 80s and not the 60s original version.

Asia’h Epperson
Right off the bat, Jason tosses out, “Her eyebrows make her look like she’s always surprised”. Asia’h is the chick who lost her father a few days before the auditions.

She’s tossing some soul in the frying pan and cooking up a big plate of Janis Joplin, sprinkling it with “A Piece of My Heart”, and you know, her dinner tastes good. She did some good work with it, and I really liked it. KT and Jason are having an eyebrow conversation, while Steph Leann just nods.

Randy loved it, Paula has sunshine, and Simon says it was the best of the night. And, truly, she’s got some great hair. She actually is cuter than Kady Malloy. Asia’h is the new hotness.

Ramiele Malubay
She’s just shy of five feet tall, and she’s very tiny and very cute and very fun. Not as cute as Asia’h or Kady, but still.

She’s singing some Dusty Springfield, which is some big shoes to fill. “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me” is her song of choice, and Steph Leann is singing along. Now THIS is how you sing a ballad.

Me: She looks like an Asian porn start
Steph Leann: David!
Jason: I think she looks like she works at a nail salon
KT: Or a sushi bar

I am totally impressed with Rami, as is the rest of the room. Jason declares her his favorite. The fact that Steph Leann was clutching her blanket and singing is a good sign.

Randy loved her, Paula loved her, and Simon? He didn’t like her in the auditions, but tonight, “you outsung every single person”

Syesha Mercado
So, this chick looks like a black Julia Stiles with a fro, and what’s weird is that I don’t think Julia Stiles is all that pretty… but Syesha is. She’s the one who had a terrible throat infection, and talked via notepad for two days, and then belted it out in the performance.

“Tobacco Road” is her song of choice, and once again, the artist has left me. I don’t really like the song all that much, but her performance is pretty good. She nails it, actually.

Randy liked it, and Paula fluffs it up. Simon liked it too, declaring her one of the most talented chicks in the competition.

Steph Leann liked it, as did Jason and KT.

Carly Smithson
Our Irish chick closes out the show. Tattoos all over her arm, she had a record contract at 17, but the company went bankrupt. So here she is, and she’s got a cute face, but I could not handle the tats on the arm. Too much. I’m lucky that all of Steph Leann’s tats are hidden. I do like the replica of the $100 bill with my face on it that she has on her back. Perhaps I shouldn’t have said that. Its better than KT’s “88” tat, or Scott Latta’s “3” on his butt (don’t ask me how I know that)

She’s singing something I’ve never heard of… perhaps it’s a 60’s Irish folk song. She looks like a reformed Goth chick.

Randy reveals that Carly has bronchitis, but declares it the best vocal of the Top 24. I don’t agree. Paula puts sunshine in a needle and shoots Carly up with it. Simon didn’t like it. I don’t know that I did either, and most of the room didn’t.

So, who’s going home? Amy Davis, for sure. And I’m guessing Amanda Overmyer, or possibly (gulp) Kady Malloy.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

American Idol, plausibly live from The Cabana

And we’re live from The Cabana!!!!
There’s a whole lot to talk about in the next few days, including moving, Starbucks, Survivor, and of course, American Idol… and what else but Idol would bring the blog back!

Tonight, it’s the top 12 guys singing, and tomorrow, the girls will be singing. On Thursday, we lose two guys and two girls, until it’s the Final 12. Randy, Simon and Paula are our judges, while Steph Leann lays on the couch, reclined, blanket in hand, though at this stage, if a blanket goes on the face, its really, really bad.

AT&T Internet Services have been nothing but terrible. I can get online, if I plug into the wall. However, the purpose of a laptop is to not be hooked up against a wall. I spent an hour on the phone with them Friday night for them to finally tell me, “Oh, the reason you’re internet doesn’t work through your router is that you need to update your password! Oh, but you’ll have to call in to do that, and that department closed an hour ago. Call back tomorrow.”

When I called back tomorrow, there systems were down. I called back Monday, the guy had no idea what I was told and what to do.

David Hernandez kicks off tonight, one of about half the group that I actually remembered from the auditions. Some of these guys, including the dreads guy, and Cheezydeezy, or whatever his name is, are in the Top 24, and I dunno who the guy is.

Hernandez is singing “Midnight Hour” by Wilson Pickett, as directed by the 60s theme tonight.

I hate the fact that I missed blogging the final audition shows and the selection show last week… oh, what I could have said about Josiah. Josiah the Winah. (That’s “whiner”, for you people in Mississippi).

D-Hern doesn’t do it too bad, but its… well, kinda boring. Randy liked it, Paula blows some sunshine, and Simon says “better than I thought it would be”. Steph Leann agrees that D-Hern lost the note at the end. “A little flat,” she says.

Cheezydeezy comes up… he made it to the Hollywood round last year, only to get cut right before the finals. But now, Cheezydeezy is back! And why didn’t we see this guy in auditions? With a name like Cheezydeezy, he should have been a highlight every week… kinda like he’s a highlight right now in that orange suit. He is singing the song that says “I love you more today than yesterday, but not as much as tomorrow”. I remember neither the title nor the artist, which is unusual. I’ll get it later.

Cheezydeezy does a pretty good job tonight… Randy is calling it “old fashioned but aight”, Paula blows sunshine, and Simon calls him Jacuzzi, tells him the suit is hideous, and the song was hideous.

In the Red Room, Colton compares himself to a likeness of Ellen Degeneres, America’s favorite lesbian. But up next, David Cook, who looks very Rob Thomasy. He looks like he should be a rock star, but sounds more pop.

For the third time in a row, the song is started slow, only to break into the tune. David Cook is taking on “Happy Together” by The Turtles, which Steph Leann says, “I LOVE this song”. She’s tapping her foot… which means she’s enjoying it.

And lets be honest… David Rob Thomas Cook is a pretty good singer. This style worked for Bo Bice and for Daughtry… Randy says “You made a rock joint out of ‘Happy Together’! You worked it out, dude!” Paula loved it. Simon liked it, though he felt it was a little shouty.

Moving went just swimmingly… a big shout out to Little Sister Ashley, Wookiee, Mikey Nipp, Nick of Nick & DeLisa, Jon Taylor, Tommy McLeod, Jessica Hawbaker, Chris & Brit Croyle and Jason Roberts, who came out and helped us move from The Casa de Pesos to The Cabana.
But the moving MVP? KT.
kt and brittney moving
Brittney and KT, loading up another truck to move
She was awesome. Not only did she help us move, she was up late with Steph Leann the night before cleaning the floors. Like, up until 3 or so… only to be back around 9:30 to help move. Jason Roberts was with me, helping pack and disassemble furniture until midnight, but KT was all over it. She rocks.

Jason Yeager(meister) is here to do his thang. Tonight he’s singing “Moon River”, made famous by… Johnny Mathis? Henry Mancini? I only remember it from when Fletch went to the proctologist, this is the song he sang as he was being probed. Why do I talk about Fletch during Idol? Because Jason Yeager(meister) is boring me.

Randy and Paula both kinda like it, but sorta only. Simon says Jason came off much older than his 28 years. I agree.
Fletch singing "Moon River". He was more exciting than Jason Yeager(meister)

I LOVE DVR!!!! Holy cow, its awesome! I’ve season pass’d “Celebrity Apprentice”, “Survivor: Fans vs Favorites”, “American Idol” and “Mythbusters” already, as well as DVR’d WWE Raw twice. And I even recorded the last four laps of the Daytona 500 on Sunday, as Jason and KT pulled up to pick us up for Lifegroup at Valleydale Church (an sbc fellowship) with only five laps to go. So when I got home, I watched Ryan Newman take the race.

The downside? It only records however long it’s supposed to. Which means, we missed the last two minutes of “Deal or No Deal” last week, and I missed the winner of the John Cena/Randy Orton bout with Triple H as the guest referee. Bad times. Mixed with good times. Times.

Robbie Carrico, the official rocker of the group, is here.

And Little Sister Ashley just came in! Yay Little Sister Ashley!

Robbie Rocker is doing Three Dog Night’s “One”, another song that Steph Leann says, “I love that song!!” We don’t see her much anymore, now that she has a boo.

Robbie Rocker is singing and kinda shouty. Randy says, “You move me, baby!” Paula loves him—of course—and shovels some flowers in his pockets. Simon liked it so far the best.

David Archuleta is the youngest guy in the group, at 17. He sang “Heaven” by Bryan Adams in Hollywood, which contains the line “Oh, thinking about my younger years…”, which means ,what? 10? 8?

Archuleta is doing “Shop Around” by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, and singing it a little low. This kid was born in what, 1991? This means almost all of Paula Abdul’s hits are older than Archuleta. This means that Mariah Carey’s career is older than Archuleta. And more voluptuous.

Randy loved it. Paula says “brave and bold and flowers and sunshine and butterflies”. Simon says “By a comfortable mile, best performance of the night.” This kid will make the Top 10 overall, I call it. Little Sister Ashley says, “You just want to pinch his cheeks…” and Steph Leann says, “He’s way too cute.” Even Ryan says, “You can only vote for him, you can’t adopt him.”

The AT&T commercial is on, the one where the little girl gives her dad a stuffed monkey when he leaves for his trip, and Dad proceeds to take pictures of the monkey and send them to his daughter, while the Amos Lee song “Sweet Pea” plays. Its such a cute commercial

Danny Noriega is up next, and he is flaming like a gas soaked log thrown in a campfire. He looks like a male Jessica Alba, honestly, which isn’t a good thing. He might actually perform on girls night too. He’s singing “Jailhouse Rock”. Which is funny. Guys hook up in jail. I’m just sayin’.

He’s dressed like a Mormon. Randy says “You know how to have a good time!” There are so many jokes right now, only part of them involving Boggs from Shawshank, but I’ll resist... though I wouldn't be surprised to hear the following exchange:
Danny Noriega (talking to David Archuleta): Hey... anyone come at you yet? Anybody get to you? We all need friends in here. I could be a friend to you. (Archuleta looks puzzled and walks away) Hard to get. I like that.
Paula actually uses the words “beautiful”, “song” and “colors”. Simon speaks for all of us when he says, “I didn’t understand anything you said. What colors are you talking about?” Rainbows, maybe? Simon thinks the performance was grotesque. I agree.

I think Paula likes him because he could go with her shoe shopping. And Danny’s dad looks like a gang banger… and Danny would be the kind of kid his dad would shank if they weren’t related.

Two things to finish in the next year. First, the Top Ten Coolest Things of 2007, a list that would have been finished three weeks ago, except for the fact , you know, we moved. That cuts into your free time. Then a week without the ‘net kinda sucks.

And then, the Dave100, the list of my favorite 100 movies. Coming this spring, perhaps one or two a week.

Another guy that I didn’t see in auditions, Luke Menard, who kinda sounds like Kevin Max from dcTalk. Tonight he sings Jim Croce, “Everybody’s Talking.” They play this song at Starbucks sometimes, and it makes me happy. I thought that was the 70s… perhaps it’s not Jim. Maybe I’m losing my pop culture touch. That week without the ‘net could have cost me everything.
(I find out later its not Jim Croce, but Harry Nilsson. Duh.)

Little Sister Ashley says, “I don’t think this guy’s voice is that great”, and I agree. I can see him going home Thursday. Randy says it was consistently sharp the whole time, and Paula struggles to criticize. Simon says, “The problem was that you are forgettable”, and I totally agree with him. Luke Menard is boring.

And now, Colton Berry, the male Ellen Degeneres. He just admitted that he sings the Teletubbies theme song in his head when he gets nervous. And… wow… he’s singing “Suspicious Minds”, one of my favorite Elvis tunes. Colton is very toothy.

Having not seen this guy in the auditions, this is really the first time I’ve heard him sing. And really, he’s not too bad. The weird leap at the end was… well, kinda weird. Randy says it was pretty good, while Paula says it was nice, and Simon says Colton has no relevance, and is more music theater. Paula retorts by using about 15 words to say a three word response.

Garrett Haley looks like Peter Frampton, crossed with Leif Garrett and a little Shaun Cassidy tossed in. He’s 17, which makes him as young as Archuleta, which I didn’t know. Part of me really wants him to sing “I Think I Love You” or “Baby, I Love Your Way”.

But alas, he’s singing… I’m not really sure. But I feel like I’m watching a well preserved video from Vh1 Classic, especially when they show him up close. “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do” is the song… I didn’t recognize it from the terrible version. And up close, he looks like he’s trying to grow his first mustache. Little Sister Ashley observes, “He’s just got all sorts of problems, doesn’t he?”

Randy says it was boring, Paula is struggling to find something good to say, and Simon? “Boring, whiney, you look terrified, and you look verging on haunted…”

Simon says, “You need fresh air, you need…” and Steph Leann adds, “…to shave…”

One of my biggest pet peeves? Using “u” for “you”, “r” for “are” and stuff like “2moro” for “tomorrow” and the like. I mention this because the texting commercial that features the “IDK, my BFF Jill” chicks. Drives me nuts. The commercial is kinda funny, I guess, but everyone uses those shortcuts, including my own father-in-law, Big Poppa Ron, who said to me “find out how 2 cancel before u commit” in a contract conversation over text. Not you, Ron! You sold out!

Dreadlocked Jason Castro, 24, is playing an instrument. Playing the guitar, he’s singing Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Daydream”, and though he’s not the best voice ever, he’s fun. I wish we could have seen this guy during auditions.

Randy says he was a little pitchy, but aight, while Paula has a bunch of sunshine rays she’s tossing at him like spears in the hands of the Spartans, while Simon says it was one of the top two performances. “You’ve just got it.”

Closing the show, the guy with the most Hollywoody name, Michael Johns. He’s from Australia, with the accent which the ladies just love. Aussie Michael is doing some Doors, “Light My Fire”. Channeling Jim Morrison, he is actually nailing the song. This might be my favorite performance of the night…

Randy loved it, comparing him to Michael Hutchens. Paula loved it. Simon says he’s the most consistent of all the contestants so far.

Who goes home on Thursday? I predict Luke Menard and Jason Yeager(meister). Colton Berry and Garrett Haley can’t be safe either.
Up Next... the chicks sing, and how I finally got closure with Charter Cable

Friday, February 08, 2008

the moving diaries: 24

Twenty four, as in, twenty four hours from now.

Despite when you may read this, at this very moment I'm typing these words, its 717am on Friday morning, which means at 717am on Saturday morning (tomorrow, natch) the Lovely Steph Leann will be running around like her pants are on fire, while I'll be finishing tape on the final boxes that will transport our family from The Park at the Galleria to The Cabana.

As it stands, I'm about to watch Survivor: Micronesia -- Fans vs Favorites. I love Survivor, and I've watched it every single week, every season (except the first one...), through the incredible Outback, Pearl Islands and China, and even through the disasters of Thailand and Fiji... this time, its the top ten fan favorites (minus a few that didn't want to come back) featuring one of the hottest Survivor chicks not named Elizabeth Filarski-Hasslebeck (Australia)... I speak not of Parvati (Cook Islands) or (China), but of one of my favorite Survivors ever, Ami the Lesbian Barista (Vanuatu).

My favorite line ever? From Jonathan, who is one the Favorites side, who did the mutiny in Cook Islands.... "If I stay with my tribe, I betray my friends, and I'm a bastard! If I swap tribes, I betray my tribe... and I'm a bastard!"

I did not watch American Idol this week. KT comes to me on Wednesday at church and says "DID YOU SEE IDOL!?!?!?!" On Tuesday, the Lovely Steph Leann asks me to come by The Cabana before going home (our home for the next 24 hours, the apartment, is six miles from Starbucks. The Cabana is about 2 miles in a different direction), so I didn't get to tape Idol.

That hopefully will change on Monday, when DirectTV comes to my new home to set me up with DVR... my first DVR ever! I'm pumped.

Back to Idol... I have Wednesday on tape, so I'll try to watch it this weekend.

Survivor moment, here on tape: Kathy says, about Chet, "I think I worked with a homosexual... in the 80s... but been friends with one..."

Our house is in chaos. Boxes everywhere. Our stuff reminds me of when Jesus fed the 5,000... each time I pack something, suddenly, two more things appear in its place. I actually found a Vol-tron and a Go-Bot while packing stuff.

When I have to open, I have to be at Starbucks at 530am, which means I leave the apartment around 510am. I always try to be quiet, as to not wake The Lovely Steph Leann, but its hard to keep quiet when you almost fall over empty boxes in the dark.

Survivor Moment, here on tape: Eliza, Jonathan, Yau-Man and Ami the Lesbian Barista just made an alliance. Amanda the Flirt, Ozzy the Tree Climber, Parvati the Sex Kitten and James the Gravedigger already have paired up, while Jonny the Fairplay is playing both sides. Of course. His comment? "I can't believe that there 9 other Survivor favorites here, that are believing what I say... have you not watched the show before???"

"Vantage Point" looks like a cool movie. It looks like the kind of movie I'd like... I hope it doesn't suck.

Do you realize that I'm approach 10,000 page loads on the Clouds in My Coffee Blog, presented by Citi? That means that my blog page has been viewed and loaded 10,000 times. I mean, its not a huge number over 3 years (June 2005 is the beginning of the blog), but that still averages about 9 to 10 views per day, every day. And thats just here on this page... this blog is also featured on my MySpace Blog Page and on Facebook, so heck, it could be 30 to 50% more vies than that.

And thats considering that I took the fall of 2005 off, plus a few other months here or there when I didn't blog. I mean, I'm not patting myself on the back too much, but hey, I'm proud of what I've done. Go me.

Survivor Moment, here on tape: The Fans win the first challenge, beating The Favorites. I do believe The Favorite have underestimated The Fans. And Cirie speaks for the first time. You got The Favorites, who are already scheming to take one another out, teaming up, half of them trying to take out Eliza. On the other hand, The Fans are just happy to be here. Jonny Fairplay is up to some tricks, but Ami the Lesbian Barista is not fooled!!

The time is now approaching 806am... I have to be at Starbucks at 9 for some training stuff... and Survivor: Micronesia is quickly coming to an end (they are voting now), so my day is about to kick into high gear. I just got a phone call from DirectTV confirming my appointment & installation, which I said, "Yep!!"

On the docket today, after work? Continue packing. Move boxes. Label boxes. Get KT's man JR to help me put kraft paper down on the carpeted steps at The Cabana, so you mangy people won't be dirtying up my carpet... well, The Lovely Steph Leann's carpet, anyway.

Survivor Moment, here on tape: Jonny Fairplay goes home. He's saying that his girlfriend is 7 months pregnant and he's having a crisis of conscience, and that he should be at home with her. Personally, I think, like Gene Simmons on Celebrity Apprentice (which I just realized I forgot to record last night, curse it all), Fairplay is just wanting to leave the show. Next week? Krazy Kathy breaks down, The Fans turn on each other, two people go to Exile Island, and Ozzy and Amanda git it on.

And now... I'm going to move. The next blog should be live, from The Cabana....

Monday, February 04, 2008

The Moving Diaries: The Glorious Road to Columbiana

Here's what I can tell you... if anyone ever directs you some place, such as a building or say, a courthouse, and all they say is "Oh, just turn off this (insert main highway) and follow the road, and keep going until you see (insert destination)", ask for more specific directions.

If they choose not to give you those directions, even indirectly by saying "oh, you'll find it", then you kick them in the face. They are not your friends, and furthermore, they want to see you fail.

We closed on our house today... The Cabana, as it will furthermore known in the Clouds In My Coffee Blog (presented by Citi, Scott Latta)... and it was painless, really. We just signed a bunch of papers in the presence of the closing attorney, an older bean counter with it seemed like no sense of humor whatsoever--of course, if I need legal advice, I'd take a guy who can't a joke but knows the law backwards and forwards over a funny guy who has no idea what he's doing.

It is important to know that I haven't really talked about The Cabana much, other than some mentions on Facebook and such, simply because nothing is final 'til its final. I wanted to wait until today to really discuss it, because today we finally closed on the house.

Also in our midst was Tanya, our fabulous realtor, Gary, our mortgage guy, and Shelley, the leasing agent from Beaumont, which is where just bought our home. Closing actually took about an hour or less, so yay for us. Heck, I might even be back at the Starbucks to do the schedule and other stuff by what, 2pm? Rock on.

At the end, though, we were presented with some documents, plus instructions from Gary and the closing attorney. Those instructions simply stated, "You need to file those homestead papers at the Courthouse."

Me, being a first time home buyer and know as much about buying homes as I do about why I'm sitting here watching Sly Stallone in "Cobra" on tv (which is very, very little) responded with "Um... the courthouse?"

"Yes, the Shelby county courthouse."
"Which is...?"
"Downtown Columbiana"
"Downtown Columbiana? Where is Columbiana?"
"Oh, just follow 280 until you see the signs to turn off. Then you'll turn, and follow the road straight to Columbiana."
"And where will I find the courthouse?"
"Just look for the building that looks like a courthouse"
" downtown Columbiana..."
"What do I do? Just take this paper in and say 'here'?"
"Pretty much. Its a 25 mile drive for about 30 seconds worth of work. They'll stamp the papers and send you home"

I looked at The Lovely Steph Leann, who smiled and said, "We need to get it done. Just follow the signs off of 280". Little did I know that she really didn't know either.

Steph Leann, Gary and I had lunch, then I was on my way down 280. Over the mountain, down through Chelsea, Alabama, and bam! There's the sign that says "Columbiana 13" with an arrow pointing to the right.

"Well, heck, this should be a piece o'cake!" I thought to myself as I turned to the right, but before I could think much of anything else, there's a red light. And a right turn option. And a straight-ahead option. And no sign. So, I figure, go straight. About 20 minutes later, I decided to call The Lovely Steph Leann to ask, simply, "Where is Columbiana?"

"Where is Columbiana?" I asked.
"Um... let's see," came the lovely voice of my wife of 3 years, 11 months and 26 days. "I'll Google it... looks like... you take... Highway 47... then turn right on to Highway 37..."
"Hmm... I think that was Highway 37 back there, when I didn't turn. Perhaps I should have turned there."
"Maybe so... I don't know"

So, I turn around. I drive the five or six miles back to the turn I should have taken, and turn there. Little did I know that the cars I was seeing would be the last I would see for a long, long time.

I'm driving down this road, and I see civilization pass me by. Slowly, but surely, it fades away into nothing, into just woods, undeveloped hills, and somewhere in the distance, I hear "Dueling Banjos" and swore I heard someone say, "Squeal like a pig, boy!" It scared me.

The road became more and more twisted and turned, I began to wonder... "Is this the glorious road to Columbiana?" And my answer came very clear as I came to a four way stop. On either side of me was an umarked road, going north to south, or perhaps east to west... either way, it was perpendicular to where I was going. And where was I going? I didn't know. Across the road, the highway was different. It was no longer Highway 37. It was Highway 39.

I called The Lovely Steph Leann again. "Um... I need help"
"Where are you?"
"I have no idea..."
"Well, hold on, let me Google it again"
"Maybe you should ask someone."

She looks up on Google, and repeats the directions. I told her I thought I followed them. We go back and forth about what she sees on her screen, versus what I'm seeing in real life on this twisted road. I see a T-Rex take out a pteradactyl in the distance. A volcano erupts. I pass a wedding... a brother and sister was tying the knot. Was I in Mississippi now?

I hear another voice behind The Lovely Steph Leann's voice. She's called for help. She asks me again, "Where are you?" Again, I'm forced to say I dont know, because truly, I don't have a clue. Until... I see a sign. A county road sign. One that says County Road... 331.

"I'm on 331," I answer
"331?" she replies, then turns away from the phone to repeat the news. I hear a voice in the background,"331? What? He's waaaaay off...."

And in truth, I was. Almost an hour after I left the comforts of Highway 280, if there is such a thing, I was driving on a stretch of road unfamiliar to mankind. In one place, the yellow lines just stopped, then started again 100 feet later, as if both side of the paint crews had run out of paint, and they were feuding over who had to come back and finish the job.

Then, suddenly, Highway 70. There were houses. There were cars, egads, there was life! A turn on Highway 70, another turn later and there approached a town! With an unmistakable dome that could only belong to a courthouse. Finally... I had made my destination! Now I was going to just go in there, get my papers stamped, and be on my merry way. Perhaps I'd go to I-65, perhaps I'd go back to Highway 280, but either way, I was saved!

I parked my car behind the courthouse and walked in, only to find two armed guards and officers sitting behind the counter. "Can we help ye?" asked one.
"I need to file... homestead papers," I replied, still unsure of what I was even asking for.
"Head out this here door, and head over yonder 'cross the street there to the tax office," he answered.

I walked outside, looked across the street to my left and there was a single story brick building, with the heading "Property Tax Commissioner". Well, then, I'll just go over here and hand them my papers and get them stamped and then be on my way, right? Right!

I walk in, and there's a pleasant lady behind the counter waiting to assist me. I strode over, hand her my papers, and say, "I'm here to file homestead papers." I'm waiting to hear the clunk of a big stamp stamped on my page, then it to be handed back. She doesn't do this, however.

A few seconds go by, she's typing something, and then she says, "Square footage?" I was perplexed, but I told her. "Bedrooms?" I answered "3". Then they came fast and furious.... "Bathrooms? Half baths? Hard woods? Carpet? How many total rooms? Garage? One car or two? One door or two? Any unattached dwellings? Your mothers blood type? What is your favorite color? What is the font of that sign in the back of the Highway 31 Chick-fil-a that says 'Employee Entrance Only'? How many bricks are in the Great Wall of China (I knew that one...)"
But, like the genius I am, I fired off the answers quickly... 2. 1. Downstairs. Upstairs. Six. Yes. Two car. No. Not sure. Whatever Steph Leann tells me it is. Helvetica. A bunch"

Finally, after 20 minutes, she handed me back the papers, signed, sealed, delivered I'm hers. Well, not really hers, but still.

I am glad I went to Columbiana though. How else would I have known that next to the Shelby County Courthouse, there stood the Karl C. Harrison Museum of George Washington.

Some things you can't make up.

Okay... I'm going to pack some more boxes now.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

The Laura DeGarmo-Hall Official Guide to the 2008 Presidential Candidates

Just the other day, my friend Laura DeGarmo-Hall posted a note on my Facebook page that simply said, "I don't know who to support, and Super Tuesday is right around the corner". I responded that she needed to decide which issues are more important to her, and then align herself with the candidate that most closely matches those issues.

But the problem is, with so much jibba-jabba out there, who knows what candidate believes what? That's why I decided to do a little research, and with the help of the Clinton News Network, aka, CNN, the DNC-TV, aka MSNBC, the Birmingham News newspaper, and Fox News, aka Fox News, I wanted to present what I call your own guide and reference tool to the issues upcoming.

I don't begrudge anyone for voting Obama... but know why you are voting Obama. No one that supports Obama can tell me why they do! Same for Hillary. So, I'll list them too. And if you agree, then hey, this is American, where you can be a socialist if you like.

My biggest issue? Immigration.
Hillary and Obama both voted for the 2006 bill that gave a path to citizenship for all illegals, and supported a border fence. Huckabee favors allowing illegal immigrants to gain citizenship through penalities and restrictions (the way he wants to do it looks good on paper, but won't work in real life), McCain supported the 2006 bill that Clinton and Obama supported, but now says he would secured the border first and foremost. Romney opposes the path to citizenship for illegals with penalities, and supports a border fence, National Guard at the border and ID Cards.

My vote: Mitt Romney. Read more here.

My second biggest issue? Taxes.
Huck supports a national sales tax, ie, a "Fair Tax" which again, looks good on paper, but will never... never... I REPEAT NEVER EVER NEVER NEVER get it passed through a Democratic congress... he might as well be saying "I'm going to give every American citizen a 56" flatscreen TV!" It sounds good, but know it will never happen. Not now. McCain opposed some of Bush's tax cuts, but now flipped and says he wants to keep them permanent. He also wants to cut corporate taxes to 25%. Romney says to give tax breaks to those earning less than $200K, get rid of capital gains taxes and interest.

The short answer on taxes for Hillary and Obama would be "Yes". The long answer is that Hillary wants to raise income taxes on the wealthiest citizens (a 60% tax bracket is not out of the question, mind you) and to keep estate tax. Obama wants to raise taxes, capital gains and interest taxes on the wealthy. Keep in mind that in some cases, making $60K per year is considered "wealthy". Give 80 billion in tax breaks to the poor and elderly.

My vote? If Huck could do a Fair Tax, I'd say Huckabee all the way. However, the Fair Tax will never happen, so I gotta give it to Romney again. Here's more on the subject

What about Social Security?
John McCain says he would consider almost anything in a compromise (with the Democratic congress) to save Social Security, but he rules out higher taxes for now. Romney simply says "higher taxes are the wrong way to go". Huck wants higher benefits for people who delay retirement past 70. Let retirees choose to get their money, or leave it to their family upon death.
Hillary proposes a federal match of up to $1,000 to set up 401(k) plans. Considering raising the cap on payroll taxes (ie, higher taxes for social security out of your pocket). Obama also considers raising payroll taxes.

My vote? Romney, especially if you read further.

Gay Marriage, and should there be a Constitutional Amendment banning it?
Hillary and Obama say no. McCain says no. Huckabee and Romney say yes. My vote? I don't agree with gay marriage, but no, I don't think we should write a constitutional amendment banning it. I think civil unions is a better option, and furthermore, I think it should be a right of the state to allow or disallow it. So I guess I side with Hillary, Obama and McCain on this one.

Can't believe me? Well, here's the page.

Huckabee wants to give more states authority to run education. McCain wants school choice and more community college aid, while Romney supports No Child Left Behind and school choice. Hillary wants $10 billion dollars for universal--

--understand that when the word "universal" comes in, that means everyone has to do it, and people who make more than $50,000 per year have to pay for it, ie, higher taxes--

--universal pre-school. Yes, demanding your kids go to a pre-appointed pre-school. She also supports a $10,000 per year scholarship for college for national service. Obama wants $18 billion for universal pre-school, teacher pay, $4K in college tax credits for community service.

My vote? I would say Huck, because I'm a big proponent of states rights... however, most states have unionized education, which makes for bad education, so I'm leaning towards Romney or McCain on this one.
Read more about thoughts on education

Abortion Rights?
Hillary and Obama say yes. Huck and McCain say no, and Romney said yes 20 years ago, but now says no. My vote? Anything no. Anyone who cannot support a ban on Partial Birth Abortion should be sent to the corner. Its barbaric. Do not talk to me about Gitmo and Abu Graib when partial birth abortion is allowed.
Read more about the candidates on abortion rights

The Hoax Known as Global Warming
Hillary says she wants a $150 billion, 10 year energy package for new fuel sources. (which drives me nuts. THERE IS OIL IN OUR COUNTRY!!!!! THATS OUR NEW FUEL SOURCE!!!! FREAKIN' DRILL FOR IT!!!! SCREW THE SPOTTED HORN OWL!!!!!). But I digress. She also backs stringent caps on greenhouse gas emissions.

Obama wants pretty much the same thing.

Huck supports a 35 mgp fuel efficiency increase by 2020 and emission caps. McCain led the Senate effort to cap greenhouse gas emissions, and favors tougher fuel effeciency. Romney wants tougher mileage on cars, but opposes greenhouse gas emissions unless other countries do the same thing. He says the answer is to not depend on foreign oil.

My vote? I love Romney's answer... we won't sacrifice unless other countries do as well. He's got me here. Though honestly, if John Edwards stepped up and said "I think global warming is a farce", I'd be tempted to vote for him. Here's the page on energy research.

Stem Cell Research
First, let me explain to you that embryonic stem cell research

From a site I found: Those who value human life from the point of conception, oppose embryonic stem cell research because the extraction of stem cells from this type of an embryo requires its destruction. In other words, it requires that a human life be killed. Some believe this to be the same as murder. Against this, embryonic research advocates argue that the tiny blastocyst has no human features. Further, new stem cell lines already exist due to the common practice of in vitro fertilization. Research advocates conclude that many fertilized human cells have already been banked, but are not being made available for research. Advocates of embryonic stem cell research claim new human lives will not be created for the sole purpose of experimentation.

Also (this is d$ talking again) you have to know that despite all the research that has been done on embryonic stem cells, there have been no significant breakthroughs of any kind... unlike those of adult stem cells, which doctors and scientists have found many medical advances.

President Bush has very tight federal restrictions on embryonic stem cell research. Hillary and Obama want to relax those restrictions. So does McCain. Huck and Romney do not.

My vote? Romney. As governor, he tried to stop legislation that backed more embryonic stem cell research.

Read more about embryonic stem cell research

Gun Control
Hillary and Obama support gun control. Huck favors "right to carry" laws, McCain opposed ban on assault type weapons, and Romney favors strict state gun control.

My vote? Toss up. Romney favors state control, ie, let the states decide, but I do like McCain's opposition to the ban on assault weapons and favoring background checks. Here's the info.

Health Care
Ah, the big one. Under HillaryCare, we'd get taxed for a $110 billion per year mandatory universal coverage, and this would happen as soon as she takes office. Tax credits to make insurance more affordable (not for you and me, though). Obama doesn't ask for mandatory health care for adults, but for children. This means you, Laura DeGarmo-Hall, can't take Junior to your doctor, you have to go the one you are mandated for.

Huck wants to "spend more money on prevention, and let market and states expand insurance", while Romney actually signed into law what was aimed at ensuring universal coverage. McCain wants a $2,500 tax credit per taxpayer to help pay for insurance.

My vote? Romney's leanings toward universal care scares me. That is the worst idea you can think of. I'm going McCain on this one... for now. To go more in-depth, click here... don't forget, under HillaryCare, and even ObamaCare, free health care would be given to the tiny children through the age of... 25. To poor families barely meeting the poverty line, making up to... $80,000 per year. No, KT, I wish I were kidding.

The War in Iraq
Hillary opposed the troop increase & surge that happened over the last 12 months. She doesn't have a timetable for withdrawal, and though she voted for the war, she said she would vote differently now. Obama says he'd get the troops out in 16 months, and spoke out against the war at the start.

Huck faults Bush for not sending enough troops in at the start and has been critical of the President's handling of the war. McCain was a critic of the war in its early stages, but backed the surge, and opposes any scheduled pull out. Romney supported the surge and the prosecution of the war.

Understand this truth, though. The Democrats have been doing everything they can to get President Bush to fail in Iraq, and to have our troops lose under his watch. If the Democrats get the White House, however, there is no stinkin' way that they would want to lose the war under their watch. They'll do everything they can to finish because no one wants to be known as the president who lost a war that was being won handily.

My vote? Yes, yes, McCain is a war hero. He knows the military--for this, I have to give him the edge here... but only razor-thin slightly over Romney.

What about Iran?
No matter what Hillary and Obama say about Iraq's shoulda woulda coulda, Iran is a problem the next president will be forced to deal with. Huck says to intensify talks with Iran, and believes that we can do military action without Congressional approval. McCain agrees with possible military action, but wants Congressional approval. Romney says the US should not engage in bilateral talks with Iran, and that military action remains on the table.

Obama wants to talk more. So does Hillary. She did vote to declare Iran's Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization, Obama abstained from the vote.

Read more here.

And finally, one that is now dear to my heart... the housing "crisis", which is really a fallout of Congress demanding that mortgage companies give the poor, broke people a chance to buy a house they can't afford, to which the mortgage companies have done--hence, Sub Prime Lending--and now that those people who were poor and broke when they got the house they couldn't afford are realizing they can't afford the house they have because... well, they are poor and broke, Congress is demanding bailouts for the foreclosures and coming down hard on those mortgage companies.

Greedy mortgage companies + irresponsible people + Congress who won't let the market do its thing = lots of foreclosures and bankruptcies that you and I will pay for via tax dollars.

I'll let you read the details here, but know that I support Obama's "Credit Card Bill of Rights", but I really like Huck's line that says the problem needs to be handled by the people who got themselves in the mess in the first place, and does not support a government bailout. I agree with Huck more than I go with Romney.

My vote here? Huckabee.

So there you have it... the issues in a nutshell, and what each candidate thinks. But please, don't take only my word for it. Research, Google, read more for yourselves.

I was pulling for Giuliani initially, but then became a Thompson supporter... and that didn't pan out. I'm a conservative first, and Republican second, and I just think that we should help people get on their feet, but no more. Then let 'em work for it, like the rest of us do. We help you when your down, but your responsibility is to educate yourself and work hard so that you don't get down again. Not to sit around and collect handouts because you are entitled to something. You aren't entitled to anything. Sorry.

My vote? I'm going for Mitt Romney. I am not happy with my choices, but this is the guy I will get behind as it stands. Vote your heart and what's important to you, Laura.

Oh... and let's close those borders!!