Sunday, May 31, 2009

Happy Times

There are people in this world who are good. There are people who are great. There are people who are simply amazing. There are people who are just so fantastic you just want to give a big hug to, and say, "Wow. You're great. Amazing. Just so fantastic." And there are people who leave something to be desired. There are people who are bad. There are people who are simply jerks. There are people so jerky, you just want to kick in the neck and say, "Wow. You leave something to be desired. You're bad. A jerk. Just so jerky. Stand still while I kick you in the neck."

Either way, people are truly fascinating. And this is never more apparent than when you spend time at The Happiest Place in the Mall. These are... Happy Times.

"The Mom-down Throwdown"
There's a young lady who comes into The Happiest Place in the Mall with her daughter. I recognized them both quickly, chatted with them for a minute, and went about dispensing magic to other guests.

I went backstage for a few minutes, probably checking for a XS Stitch shirt or something of that nature, and when I returned to the stage, I noticed Daughter in tears, with Mom squatting next to her, consoling her. The Happiest Place in the Mall is no place for tears, so I walked over and kneeled down, asking if everything was okay. Mom assured me it was with a weak smile, glancing over my shoulder with a scowl.

I left Mom and Daughter to their own, went back to the box office register, dealt with other guests. Mom finally came up with bag of magic, ready to purchase, when I inquired what was wrong. She then whispered to me to look at the three little children--two boys and a girl--running amok in the back while the parentals were not paying a lick of attention. "See that little blond girl? For no reason at all, she came up, pushed Daughter down, started teasing and poking at her. Daughter is shy, but she's very polite and there was no reason for this. I almost went crazy on that little girl, and her parents? Nowhere to be seen. They are on the other side of the store doing their own thing, not watching their children. I even saw one of the little boys rolling all over the plush mountain back there, climbing up, tossing plush everywhere... " Mom growled a bit, "there's no need for this. If parents would watch their children..." she trailed off, still gritting her teeth.

She was right about Daughter. The times I've seen the pair in our store, Daughter has been very behaved, a "yes sir" and "no ma'am" kind of kid, even at 3 years of age. Wish all the kids that came in were as well adjusted. Mom was brewing and steaming. She had a right to be. I ended up walking back to the back where the trinity of romper room was engaged in chaos and destruction, and had to get one of them off of the plush mountain. Their parents were truly around the other side of the store, not a care in the world. Happy times.

"The Confusing Bag Math"
In The Happiest Place in the Mall, we do sell re-usable shopping bags. Its a direction the entire company is taking, that of the "Green" persuasion, and while I'm not adverse to helping the environment, I personally don't seek out ways to earn carbon credits. As it stands, though, this is my job, and I have no problem getting a $2.50 big Mickey bag into someones hands, especially when we sell 300+ of them in a given week... which we did a few weeks ago during our bag promotion.

It worked like this... you buy a bag for $2.50. When you buy this bag, anything you put into this bag is automatically 40% off, whether its on sale or not. (was this hard to understand? Those two sentences were what I said to guests, and it really did seem like it was easy to get...)

If you were coming in to just buy a $4.50 Buzz Lightyear soft baseball, or perhaps a $5.50 Princess lip gloss ring set, this promotion wouldn't do you any good, unless of course, you wanted a bag anyway, which many people did. But if your purchases went up to $7.50 or more, you essentially got the bag for free... follow the math... $7.50 for whatever, plus $2.50 for the bag, equals $10. Take off the 25%, and that leaves you... $7.50. Right? Right.

Now, for anyone who's been at The Happiest Place in the Mall lately, you'll probably understand that 87% of our products probably top $7.50. This means you can save yourself some great money... but I can understand why people are so reluctant. Every time you check your email, there's some spam asking you to "click here" and get a whatever. Turn on the tv, you can see a great offer for something that looks cool, but there's tiny, tiny print at the bottom that reads something like, "Everything this commercial just said is a lie, we won't do any of this as promised, we'll just bilk you dry." Actually, that might have been an Obama ad...

Anyway, its rare to have an offer be simply cut and dry, so even though ours was simply buy this and save, I can get how people would be resistant. They wouldn't take the bag when offered on the floor, but when they got to the register and were informed their $47 purchase can become $35 and some change by simply spending $2.50 more, nearly everyone did it.

I did say "nearly".

Me: Hi there. Find everything you needed this afternoon? (picking up Eeyore and Pooh plush)
Guest: Yep. (he nods his head. He's wearing a Junior hat, cigs in the front pocket of his faded sleeveless shirt)
Me: Alrighty... well, the plush are 2 for $15 plus tax, but if you get this bag for $2.50, you'll save 25% on everything...
Guest: (blank stare... blank stare... brain computing...) Naw thanks.
Me: Seriously (not wanting to harp on this, but am positive he doesn't get it). Its' $16.35 total. However... with the bag, you're only going to pay $14.30 total.
Guest: (blank stare... computing... blank stare... computing...) No thanks.
Me: Okay, well, since, uh, you don't want the bag (I smile) you'll pay me two bucks more! That's $16.35
Guest: (blank stare... computing... hamster on wheel is getting tired... computing) Thanks.

Lest you think I'm picking on the country boy...

Heather: Hi, is this going to be it for you today?
Guest: Yep. This is all I need (hands over the black bag full of stuff. She's probably in her 40s, dressed in her best business casual, looks a little hurried.)
Heather: Will you be getting to bag today and saving 25% on everything?
Guest: No, I don't want the bag.
Heather: Okay, well, your total is going to be $61... but I have to tell you, if you spend $2.50 on this bag, you'll save 25% on everything
Guest: I don't need that bag.
Me: Ma'am, you would save about $15. No kidding. (not trying to be rude, but making sure she understands that she will be giving us FIFTEEN DOLLARS LESS by taking this black bag off of our hands)
Guest: Fine. (sighs) Give me the stupid bag.
Heather: Okay, with the bag, minus the 25%, you're new total is $47.34
Guest: Fine (pays for the magical merchandise, takes the bag, hurries out)
Heather: Wow (looks at me) She didn't seem happy about that, did she?

Out of nowhere comes Ol' Joe, who has been at the front greeting the guests. He's holding a crumpled black bag. "She came up to me, pulled all of her stuff out and then shoved this bag in my hands. Said she didn't want this bag." I looked at Heather, she looked at me, and I sighed, "You know, maybe we should just toss the bag on there anyway, and then when they come back and ask us to take it off the receipt, we'll tell them they owe us what they saved."


Me: Hello! Is this snowglobe going to be it for you today?
Guest: Yes, thanks. (she's young, maybe 18, maybe a year or two less or more. She's short, she pulls out all of her cash, piecing together 1s and 5s to try and pay for it)
Me: Alright, well your total is going to be $26.88, but if you let me put it in this black bag, your total would be $19.58.
Guest: How much is the bag?
Me: Well, its only $2.50, and you'll save 25% on all your purchases, which would be this snowglobe. You'll pay me about 6 or 7 dollars.
Guest: Nah. No bag.
Me: Okay, well then, your total is not $19.58, its actually $26.88. (I look up, and a 30-something mom is standing behind this current guest. She locks eyes with me and rolls them. I smile, and in my smile, I say, "I dunno. Sometimes I don't think people listen to what I'm trying to tell them, they just assume its a rip off, and really, all we are doing is trying to get rid of these black Mickey bags")

30-Something Mom smiles back at me, seemingly understanding my one second smile and glance, and then, standing behind this young lady who is paying me $6 more than she should have to, Mom says, loudly, "You know, I just don't get how some people don't want to save money."

I put all my focus back on the guest in front of me, who clearly heard this, and is awkwardly squirming. I gave her back her change, smiled, wished her a happy day and she took off. Inwardly, though, I found a rock and hid under it. Happy times.

"Kodak Moments"
Ah, the picture taking. Yes, yes, you love to lay your little newborn onto the mountain of plush and snap pics... or perhaps you are your 14 year old girl friends all want to hold Mickey and take a picture with your $400 iPhone your mom and dad bought you... or maybe you and your beloved just want to hold up Donald and Daisy together, snap a pic for the scrapbook, since while you were dating, people called you Donald and Daisy, and since today is your 10th wedding anniversary, what better way to remember the afternoon? This is all magical stuff, and I think its great. This is why The Happiest Place in the Mall is truly the happiest place in the mall.

And then there are those who decide that the picture is worth it, no matter what.

I walked toward the backroom, probably to get more Tinkerbell collapsible totes for the shelf, and notice two little boys sitting in front of the Beanie Plush wall. The beanies are smaller versions of the big plush, and at a much cheaper price. They came into phase when everyone was doing beanies, following the lead of the Ty Company and Beanie Babies, and for Disney, they've been around since then.

Little Boy 1 and Little Boy 2 were sitting, Indian style, facing each other, and had an entire shelf--probably 20 or more beanies--of Pooh and Tigger beanies raked into their laps. The shelf was empty. Some of the Piglet and Eeyore from the shelf above and a few of the McQueen and Bullseye from the shelf below had also made it into the pile, all which rested on and around our two little preciouses. For a second, I asked myself, "Really? Where's mom?" but honestly, I knew the answer to that question.

I stepped past the sale rack that was blocking my immediate view of the beanie shelves, and there was their mothers. Each had their own mom, smiling, holding up cameras, taking pictures and cheering them on... "okay, hold up Pooh!"... "That's so sweet!"... "Give Piglet a kiss, come on, come on, that's so cute!" Its as if the beanie-parazzi had made it to our store. I rolled my eyes, sighed and went on to fetch my Tinkerbell tote supply.

When I came back out later, the moms were gone, as were the boys. Yeah, they picked up... well, in a manner of speaking. Imagine if you raked an entire shelf of small stuffed animals into the floor, then picked them up in big handfuls and shoved them back onto the shelf, and the disorganization and messy appearance it would display. Yes, this is what they had done. Happy times.

"Plush Mountain Life Lessons"
There's a few specific reasons we do our best to keep the younglings from climbing the summit of our plush mountain. When you come into The Happiest Place in the Mall, you'll find Plush Mountain in the back. Its the seemingly random big pile of stuffed animals, and when its completely full, it looks just like that--a pile of stuffed animals. Beware, young climbers.... its actually a pyramid of hardwood shelves with "trenches" built in to hold the overflow stacks of Lucky and Lumpy and Rabbit and Wall*E and Buzz and Lady and Tramp and Mickey and Daisy and so on and so forth.

Its tempting, isn't it? But resist. You must resist.

Climbing in the mountain is dangerous, first of all. Your kid moves wrong, he tumbles out and though rolling down a pile of foam, fur and fluff might seem entertaining, those shelves have hard ledges that will be hit on every roll. Secondly, we have actually had guests who have broken things like mugs or snowglobes and the like, and instead of telling someone, or even leaving it on a shelf, they shove it under the plush to hide it.

Third, and this goes to tossing the plush as well, the screen is fragile. And a ripped projection screen is bad times indeed. Finally, its just a nightmare picking up all the plush that gets kicked and strewn everywhere due to Lil One kicking Donald and Goofy halfway across the mall. No bueno.

There are many things I've learned just in life that I hope to pass down to Lorelei Addison Dollar and Campbell Isaiah Dollar, once they enter this world, mostly just from common sense. However, there are many more things I would have never dreamed I'd need to tell my kids that I learned just from working at The Happiest Place in the Mall. Let's be real here... kids are kids. They will throw things, they will drool on things, they will touch stuff that has been clearly pointed out as "don't touch!"able, they will climb on things that are supposedly unclimbable, I get it... its the parents that I take issue with.

Why, for instance, do you stand there and smile as little Johnny takes a Dalmatian by the leg, little Sally takes Bambi by the head and then they both start beating each other with the plush? You have no intention of buying these animals, in which case they aren't yours. Please stop before Johnny, Sally or both rip and damage these animals and either you leave them in the mountain (this has happened) ripped and torn, or you buy them, complaining about the high prices of plush that you are now forced to by, as if its my fault you allowed your offspring to go MMA on our toys (this has also happened).

And why, for example, do you not wipe off little Mary's mouth, cleaning off the dark blue residue left from the cotton candy she just finished? And while your at it, please wipe off her fingers before you allow her to pick up, cuddle, hold and love on Marie the Aristocat who, by the way, is solid white except for those blue fingerprints Mary has left on her back. And because you are so generous, you allowed Marie to just be tossed back into the mountain, now white AND blue. This has happened.

And why, just wondering, do you allow little Billy to toss our plush high into the air, from one side of the mountain to the other, and when we ask little Billy to stop, you chide us for being rude and not plainly seeing that little Billy "is just trying to help pick up"? And grandma, next to you, says loudly, "I don't know why they have all these animals here if they won't let the kids thrown them around and play with them." Grandma, you old moron, they kids are welcome to play with them. They can hug them, carry them around the store, squeeze, kiss, love and hold... but don't throw them! You wouldn't like it if we came into your home and tossed your upper and lower dentures around the room. This has also happened (the plush, not the dentures). Happy times.

And then you have those kids who marvel. They walk in, their faces light up, they mouths fall open and the only words they can muster are... "NEMO!!" Or maybe "MICKEY!!!" or sometimes "ARIEL!!!" or even "CINDERELLA!!" as the characters from their favorite movies and their children picture books are now alive, real, larger than life on our screen, on our walls, in our boxes and packaging, on our shelves.

For all the children that go to The Happiest Place on Earth, more do not. The Happiest Place in the Mall is, to them, The Happiest Place on Earth. Our goal is to be the best 30 minutes of a child's day, to be the one store that, when they get home, they talk about us. They talk about "The Mickey Store" or "Where Snow White lives" or "I wanna go back to Disney World", even though "Disney World" is our own store because that's the only "Disney World" they've ever--and in some cases--will ever know.

And when I can ring up a Piglet and ask the question, "Would you like to hold Piglet or do you want me to put him in a bag?" and already knowing the answer, pull the tag off of the newly purchased plush and hand it back to anxious little hands who didn't want to let go in the first place, only letting go on the faith of a promise that in only a few seconds, they'll have it back... now that... that is why I love my job. That is why I like going to work. That is why The Happiest Place in the Mall is the most fun job I've ever had...

...despite the stupid parents we get sometimes...

...truly Happy Times. Indeed.

(ps... Erin the Marine Wife listed her own posting about kids, messes and unintentional vehicular manslaughter... well, not quite that bad, but still, I thought it was worth linking... its titled "Sorry Lilly"...)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Arguing the Hotness of Ashley Tisdale (and other points of interest)

Just got finished with another movie, this time "I Love You Man", starring Paul Rudd and Jason Segel. Met Mikey at Popeye's Chicken & Biscuits after church, and we headed up to the Carmike Dollar Theater for a late night viewing. This has been a common ritual, we find a movie that both want to see, perhaps one that we just don't want to pay $7 bucks for, and we catch it at the dollar theater.

We started this trend while watching "The Marine", starring 5 time WWE Champion John Cena, but this didn't work with "12 Rounds", starring 5 time WWE Champion John Cena, because it was up one week, then gone the next. We also wished we had waited until the dollar theater to see "Punisher: War Zone" from last year. Mikey, you still owe me 9 bucks for that drivel.

As for "I Love You Man", it was funny enough. Not awesome, not terrible, but good for some good laughs. Great moments, Paul Rudd's delivery is solid as always, and Jason Segel is someone I could get used to laughing at. The appearance of Jon Favreau was a welcome sight, too, as it always is. And somehow, the character playing Zoe, Paul Rudd's fiance, got hotter as the movie went on. Found out later it was Rashida Jones, the daughter of Quincy Jones. Not a clue.


Had this exchange with The Lovely Steph Leann while watching Ashley Tisdale's new video, airing in a snippet before the commercials & previews of one of our movies this past weekend:

Me: Ashley Tisdale. Still think she's hot.
The Lovely Steph Leann: She's a baby!
Me: Seriously, she's like, 23
The Lovely Steph Leann: Still, anyone you are ten years older than is... well, a baby
Me: Uh... Dennis Quaid? He's like, 50. Bradley Whitford, too.
The Lovely Steph Leann: (pause) Well... (pause)... I like older men. So there.

See... I think she's pretty hot. Maybe its just me.


I did minor in sign language in college, and though I've forgotten most if it, it still piques my interest. Lil Sister Ashley and I were actually trying to take a sign class at nearby Six Flags of Brookhills, but we weren't able to go alot, and it fell through for both of us.

Still, its my love of sign and Fergie, a championship combination that is solid any way you put it, that makes me think this video is just awesome:


Toni Rocki Honda is sick. I'm not sure if there's a cure. Apparently, her electrical system is screwed up, and sometimes she starts. Sometimes she doesn't. In fact, she doesn't give any indication of when she may or may not start. Seriously.

Monday morning, that being this past Memorial Day, I went out at 5:20a to drive over to Starbucks and work my 4 hour, time & a half shift. She turned over, but didn't start. Wouldn't start. I took The Lovely Steph Leann's car. Tuesday morning, I had Toni Rocki Honda towed over to my mechanic, Christian Brothers Automotive.

Today I get a call from them, and they basically tell me that something is shorting... out... the relay... switch (I scrunch my face to try to recall what it is that is wrong, and the words that were being used...) and they... can't figure it out...

Brandon: We've been running tests, and we can't figure out whats wrong.
Me: Wow. Just eliminating one thing after another?
Brandon: Pretty much. We haven't even done anything to fix it, but it just started working in the middle of us working on it.
Me: So you'll be doing more tests, huh?
Brandon: That's all we can do.
Me: You know this sounds like I'm on the phone with a doctor discussing the prognosis of my grandmother, right?

Hopefully, they'll figure it out... for all the debt-freedness we have going on, we cannot afford to just write a check for a new car. And car payments are not an option.


New blog plugs...

Wookiee has his own blog now. He's not as chatty as I am, but he's much more into sports, or at least more knowledgeable, and has random thoughts just like me. You can find his blog right here.

As always, I have to mention Erin the Marine Wife, who has an excellent blog started. She calls it Many Kind Regards, and its all about being a mother and a Marine Wife, and some of her best work is when she dives into the life, struggles and hilarity's (what there are, I mean) of being a military wife. Check it out right here.


Had a house guest here at The Cabana Extended Stay Suites & Resort Spa. About a month or so ago, out of the blue, Tyler the Brother in Law calls up his sister, my wife, and says, "Hey, I got a friend working in Birmingham this summer and doesn't have a place to stay for a few weeks... can she stay with you guys?"

"Do we know her?"
"No. But she's nice and all. You'll like her."

She'll probably kill me that I used this pic, but I lifted it from her Facebook page. It was hard to find, though, because she's with someone on just about every picture.

Her name is Davis-Ann, and that's just the first name. She's been here in our guest room for a few weeks, and today she moved out into the place she'll call home for the summer, at a friend's family place. She was really just wonderful, if I may be so old to say as such, she was quiet, polite, and clean. And she loves her coffee. She's going to hold down The Cabana when we head to The Happiest Place on Earth in a few weeks. She even mentioned us in her blog today... we feel special.


Hilarious spoof. And pretty accurate.


Want me to completely waste time and not do anything? Put me in front of the television, then turn on Investigative Discovery when there's a rerun of Dateline NBC or 48 Hours Hard Evidence. This past Saturday, I completely killed three hours just staring at this channel, as I saw a dentist who murdered his wife for his mistress, and a judge who was killed by a hired gun and another case of a love triangle gone wrong. Heck, its on right now, at 1:04 in the morning, and though I'm not watching it, I know its about some old chick who bought it at the hands of... well, we won't know until about 20 after. And I'll be done by then, hopefully.


Made a new header for Clouds, I hope you like it. I also added pics of those people I often talk about on Clouds, like Mindy D'A, Mikey, Wookiee, J Rob, KT and many, many more. Eventually, I'll link those pics to their respective blogsites, if they have them.

I also added The Dave100 listing on the side, to which I'll add to from time to time. And I'm going to add a section on books I've read this year, so far, and movies I've seen this year, so far.


And for tonight, that's a wrap.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day Movie Day

Three movies last week, two movies this past weekend, two movies today, plus another tossed in there... so here we go...

If you didn't like the first movie, you will not like this movie at all, as its really nothing more than a two hour extension of the first film, 2006's "Night at the Museum". This flick picks up about two or three years where the first one left off, as Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) has left his night guard job at the Museum of Natural History, becoming an inventor and owner of Daley Devices, making, among other things, the glow-in-the-dark flashlight.

Upon his return to visit his night-time museum friends, he learns that through renovations of the museum, Jedediah, Octavius and Sacajawea and the gang are being shipped to underground storage of Washington's Smithsonian. There's an issue with the golden tablet that brings them to life every night, Larry rushes to Washington to save his friends and runs face to face with Al Capone, Ivan the Terrible, General Custer (an always hilarious Bill Hader) and Kahmunrah, a [fictitious] Pharaoh hell-bent on taking over the world. And, Larry run into one Amelia Earhart.

Here's the thing... this is a goofy, silly, fun little movie. Besides the suspension of disbelief needed to believe in the whole "wax figures come to life at the museum due to this golden tablet", you also have to go a step further and believe some pretty outlandish coincidences, some pretty crazy situations and some pretty odd occurrences... but you don't worry about that. With this movie, you know what you are going to get... lots of historical figures making pop culture references, lots of funny action and Ben Stiller doing what he does best.

And in this particular film, there are two scene stealers, the first being Hank Azaria, who not only plays Kahmunrah to the hilt, leaving you convinced that he had a blast playing this part, but he also does the voice of the Brooklyn-accented Thinker sculpture and of Abe Lincoln, fresh out of the Lincoln Memorial.


And of course, Amy Adams, whom I'm in love with. She does her best Amelia Earhart with zest, gusto and all the energetic adjectives you can come up. In fact... she's put forth the biggest challenge to date for the crown of The Goddess. We shall see.

Speaking of Ben Stiller, I saw this via Netflix a month or so ago. Its raw, its bawdy, its totally wrong, but it is oh so funny. Loved every second of it.

I thought the first Terminator, as far as story goes, was the best. I thought the second Terminator, as far as visual effects, was downright stunning and amazing. The third, despite that pretty rockin' crane chase scene, was quite a letdown. The fact that Christian Bale was in the fourth was really the only reason I was giving it credibility.

Bale broods much like Vin Diesel in "Fast & Furious", and in fact, were I not d$ but Scott the Blind Vampire, I'm not sure I could tell them apart. He fires lots of guns, he blows lots of crap up, and he is trying to save Kyle Reese, who, if you think back, is Michael Biehn's character in the first Terminator... in that film, Kyle goes back to 1984, gets it on with Sarah Connor, and John Connor is born... in this current film, Kyle is a teenager, and an adult John has to save his teenage dad, so his teenage dad can grow up, become an adult, go back in time, get it on with Sarah and... well, the circle of time flimflammery continues.

If you like lots of explosions and robot violence, then this film is for you. There are very few curse words, there are very little scenes of people getting killed, its mostly just robots and humans duking it out. All in all, I enjoyed the film, I enjoyed the underrated Bryce Dallas Howard, and I enjoyed the random Terminator scene--you'll know what I'm talking about--towards the end when John is in Skynet.

This is an old school western that came out last year, directed by Ed Harris, who also stars along with Viggo Mortensen. They play Virgil and Everett, hired by the town to defend them against the villainous Randall Bragg, played in a DieHard With a Vengeance Sneer by Jeremy Irons.

The movie isn't bad, but it really doesn't work for me due to one thing... Renee Zellweger. She just doesn't fit in the movie, her lines are terrible, her acting is terrible, and really the only person who you really like in the entire film is Viggo, who is just always cool.

As it happens, I'm watching WWE Raw, as we speak. This is the much heralded performance from Mickey Rourke last year that earned him a Golden Globe award and his first Oscar nomination. And let me tell ya, as Randy "The Ram" Robinson, Mickey Rourke is brilliant.

The Ram was a huge megastar in the 80s, but now he's doing nothing but low-attendance high school gym wrestling shows and crappy barn shows. His only daughter won't speak to him, and his only friend is an aging stripper, played to beautiful perfection by Marisa Tomei. Marisa, by the way, is like a fine wine... just getting better with age. You see lots of the wrestling, some of the behind-the-scenes scripting for matches, but mostly, you see a man who wants to be something he's just not anymore, just trying to do the one thing that he was at one time incredible at, but now is only pretty good at--though he still thinks he can be brilliant.

This movie is raw, there is a ton of language, and Marisa Tomei's boobies make a few appearances, along with a really random and possibly unnecessary getting-it-on shot between The Ram and some random bar chick. You decide.

Awesome. Just awesome. Absolutely awesome.

Kim is taking a trip to Europe with her friend Amanda, with the support of mother Lenore (when did Famke Janssen get so old??) and against the wishes of father Bryan. And when bad things happen to Kim, father Bryan springs into action.

Hey, hairy foreign dude... you're going to want to tell Mr. Neeson what he wants to know...

The beauty of Liam Neeson's character is that you are never really told what it is that he did for a living, you just know that he possesses one heck of a skill set. Perhaps by that omission, it allows Bryan Mills to do whatever the heck he wants under the canopy of "former job". Either way, he's bad-a and its freakin' cool watching him do what he does. Everyone I know that has come out of this movie has told me they liked it, and I admit the same. One of my favorite of the year so far.

This is a movie that really, only Clint Eastwood could star in. Clint plays Walt, a gruff, tough widower who has been living in his house forever, and isn't too happy to see the Hmong Asian family move in next door. He warms up slowly, mostly due to the persistence of Sue, the teenage girl, and her brother Thao.

The family sees trouble when a local Hmong gang pressures Thao to join them, going to the point of assault and threats. Walt gets involved, against his better judgement, and a whole lot of bad things happen before the final scene of the movie, including one that made me sigh, and thank heavens that The Lovely Steph Leann didn't see what I just saw.

Excellent film, but full of language and violence.

Greg Mottola, same guy who did Superbad, did this flick, and it looked hilarious. Its got Bill Hader, its got Kristin Wiig, it takes place in a 1980s amusement park... what can go wrong? Plenty.

Though it has its funny moments, this movie isn't nearly as funny as I thought it would be... should be, even. Its really nothing more than a love story between James (Jesse Eisenberg) and Em (Kristin Stewart... yes, Bella from that movie "Watching Paint Dry"), and he looks dorky all the way through, and she whines a whole lot, and a great character turn from Ryan Reynolds is all but wasted and... well, I just was really disappointed.

Having said that, however, I'm looking forward to watching it one more time because I think now that those expectations have been lowered, I think I will appreciate the more personal aspect of this story...

In the next few weeks... Disney Pixar's "Up"... Nia Vardalos in "My Life in Ruins".... Denzel & Travolta in "The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3"... and Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock end up together at the end of "The Proposal"...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Idol's Final Results

Well, its 1034pm, I just came in the door after doling out magic for the better part of 8 hours and, thusfar, have made it successfully upstairs to talk to The Lovely Steph Leann before she goes to sleep, back downstairs to check my email and over to Clouds in My Coffee without finding out who won. MZ texted me and told me that the show was really good, and my reply was, "Don't tell me nothing! I can't watch it until at least 10 or 11!" Luckily she complied...

So... let's start, in real time...


10:36p... Seacrest stands between The Ambiguously Gay Adam Lambert and The Lovely Steph Leann's Next American Idol Kris Allen, both dressed in solid white. Sure to be lots of former Idols in the audience, lots of celebs in the audience, there's a Courtney Cox sighting...

10:38p... The judges are introduced, with Randy Jackson, Randy the Dawg, busting up with this big red bow tie. I want to wear a bow tie one day. Its like some accessories... it works for some people, for others, its a disaster... just like The Lovely Steph Leann can wear a hat in church. She knows how to wear it, she looks good, I've heard other people say, "No one can wear a hat like Stephanie Dollar". I wonder if I can do a bow tie.

10:40p... Next is Kara DioGuardi, Kara the New Hotness. There's been some speculation as to whether she's necessary, or needed, or anyone likes her. I thought she was great. And yes, I think she's quite attractive.

10:41p... Up next is Paula Abdul, aka, Paula the Flake. Paula the Blubberer. Paula the Blitherer. Paula the Droolin' Hoobernoogin. That would be our lovely Paula. I've been over how she was awesome back in the day, so I won't go into that, but I will say... she makes me laugh so much. Not just laugh, but look on in confusion and amazement.

10:45p... Simon Cowell, Simon the Cowell, appearing once again in a black jacket and a white shirt. My friend Kevin Spivey reminds me of Simon the Cowell.

10:46p... Those white outfits the Idols are wearing would be absolute nightmares when eating a Dairy Queen chili dog. They cut to Mikalah Gordon, in Conway, AR, hometown of The Lovely Steph Leann's Next American Idol Kris Allen. Mikalah was one of the most annoying Idols ever. Over in San Diego, we see Carly Smithson, who I really like. She's like a better MJC.

There apparently are some mic problems, as The Ambiguously Gay Adam Lambert and The Lovely Steph Leann's Next American Idol Kris Allen can barely be heard. See, I have a problem with this. This show, American Idol, is the number one show in the country for five months out of the year. Its generated what, enough to almost support President B. Hussein Obama's budget? (or Bush's war, depending on how you want to spin it... well, maybe not either). This is the show that now artists come to to try and promote their new stuff... my point is, when its time for the finale, the producers should have an all-star line up for everything. The best gaffer, the best best boy, the best associate director, the best anything and everything for this show. And, the best tech guys you can possibly put your hands on... all that is to say, there is NO EXCUSE for mics going out. None. None. None. No excuse for any kind of technical glitches short of . But I digress.

10:48p... Doing a P!nk song, "So What", here comes all 13 American Idol contestants from this year. At least I'll get to see Alexis Grace again and... wait, what am I doing? I've been watching the group song! Aaaah!!! Fast forward!!!

10:54p... David Cook doing his latest single, "Permanent". He lost his brother a few weeks ago, and is putting this performance on iTunes, and all the sales will go to a cancer research charity. Classy, classy guy, seriously. Also, a hot Carrie Underwood sighting. And Justin Giarini?

10:55p... The Annual Golden Idols, silly little awards to take hilarous potshots at this seasons who didn't quite make the show. Yes, yes, God loves them all. Yes, yes, we are directed to love them to. Yes, we should appreciate their talents. And yes, this video is hilarious. Absolutely hilarious. They even show the guy who makes Barry White sound like a soprano...

10:58p... And Nick Mitchell, aka, Norman Gentle. Part of me wishes he'd made the Top 13. The people over at Vote for the Worst would have collectively passed out at the same time, wondering if there were any better gifts. Norman Gentle wins the Golden Idol for "Best/Worst Male". And he comes up to give a speech... and then he strips. Seriously, I have yet to laugh a single time at this guy.

11p... No kidding, though, man's got some pipes. Seriously. Here's the first duet of the night... Lil Rounds and Queen Latifah with "Cue the Rain". Do any of you remember when Queen Latifah had a talk show? I used to love that show! It would come on Fox every day, and for those Coffee Drinkers not around here, you can hear our local Fox affliate on the radio on 87.7... so, everyday I'd go out and grab lunch, and at 2p, I'd turn it on 87.7 to hear The Queen Latifah Show. Loved me some Queenie L. I also dug The Ricki Lake Show, which was cancelled, giving the time slot to The Queen Latifah Show, which was cancelled, giving was to Maury Povich which, if you've never seen it, makes you feel great about your life...

...mostly because you realize how many people are out there that are more pathetic than you. Did someone say Jerry Springer? At least Jerry knows his guests are completel morons and the show is absolutely ridiculous. Maury Povich wants you to respect him as a serious journalist. Which is why Jazmine is there, waiting on the results of the lie detector test to tell her weather Jamal is actually the father of her cousin Muffy's baby (Jamal says it isn't him, he "ain't neva' been with that ho!") Is he? We'll find out next!

11:08p... Anoop Dogg is onstage now. I guess its another duet, joined by Alexis Grace (just in time, as I was reaching for the remote). And here comes Jason Mraz... I'll be honest... when he first came out with "The Remedy (I won't worry)" I thought he was a flash in the pan. I liked the song, but he kind of annoyed me... but... nowadays, I really like Mraz. "You and I Both" is one of my favorite tunes, pulling in over 20 plays on the iPod. And yes, I'll be interested in hearing Alexis Grace's first single.

11:10p... Here is a video of The Lovely Steph Leann's Next American Idol Kris Allen's journey through Idol. And though you could have forseen The Ambiguously Gay Adam Lambert and possibly The Widower Danny Gokey making the final two by the beginning of the Top 12 shows, The Lovely Steph Leann's Next American Idol Kris Allen kinda snuck up on some people. He was that guy that people usually complimented by saying, "You know who I have really started liking? Kris Allen..."

11:13p... That being said, I'm fast forwarding through his duet with keith urban.

11:14p... The girls are up now, singing "Glamorous", which I can only guess will have Fergie coming out soon enough. MJC sounds terrible. There's one chick that I can't even remember her name...

Between "F to the E, the R, G, the I, the E" and "G.. L... A... M... O... R... O U S", Fergie should have titled her CD "Spelling Bee".

She's singing "Big Girls Don't Cry". In the same vein of shame that makes me watch movies on The Lifetime Movie Network starring Judith Light and William Devane, I listen to Fergie. I think "Fergalicious" is both the most ridiculous and moronic, yet brilliant and awesome song. I'm now going to turn on the gas logs and stick my head in the fire.

This was one of the tamest Fergie photos I found online. She likes to dress skimpy. Just an FYI in case any of you guys decide to Google "Fergie"

11:16pm... So, all of a sudden, the Black Eyed Peas come out, Will.I.Am starts singing, Fergie jumps in, then everything goes silent, they show an Idol logo, then they cut back to the performance.

11:16p... Fergie. Freakin' hot. She wasn't before, but the break between "The Dutchess" and the new Peas album, plus marriage (to Josh Duhamel from Transformers) has done wonders. She looks amazing.

11.17p... Will.I.Am is pretty good in "X-Men Origins: Wolverine", by the way.

11:17p... "Boom Boom Pow" is a pretty cool name for a song, too.

11:17p... Should I start calling myself Da.V.Id?

(by the way, I was looking for the "Fergalicious" video online to post, and I found the greatest Fergalicious tribute EVER. I'll be posting that in a few days...)

Its a little low on video quality... no, I mean the presentation, not the actual video, though some might argue that point... anyway, I think someone put a camera up to their tv. Anyway, I've got the video on my iPod, and yes, I've watched/listened it more than 40 times. I hate myself.

11:19p... More Golden Idols, this time for Best Attitude... and of course, there's Bikini Girl, who, unlike Fergie, hasn't gotten better as time goes by. Then there's Alexis Cohen, the screaming, raging chick who scares everyone. Of course, Bikini Girl comes out, looking as homely as she did before, in her small bikini. Why couldn't Fergie wear that? Seacrest tosses out a great one... "I was going to ask you what's new, but I think I know..." as she throws back her hair off of her... well, her boobalies. She is now trying to butcher... well, not trying, she IS butchering "Vision of Love"... and who comes out, but Kara the New Hotness, as they sing the song together. Kara the New Hotness isn't perfect, but sounds pretty doggone good. Then she rips her dress open, revealing her own bikini. Don't get me wrong, she looks fine as all get out, but what is this, Cinemax Idol?

What happened to "fine"? Does anyone else remember when "hot" was "fine"? If a girl was pretty, we'd say "She is FINE!" and the chicks would discuss guys being "FINE"! Its only the last several years has "hot" surpassed "Fine" as the go-to adjective to describe the shallow, surface only appearance of the opposite sex. I miss "Fine". The Chiffons would have never had a lasting hit with "He's So Hot"... its "He's So Fine".

The Goddess? Fine. Ashley Tisdale? Fine. Amy Adams? Fine. See how it works? Maybe we should bring it back. Oh, and what about Pickles????

You all knew I couldn't end this season without my beloved Pickles!

11:25p... My Next American Idol Allison Iraheta is sitting with Cyndi Lauper, singing on of my favorite 100 songs of all time, "Time After Time". My favorite version of this, though, is by Nichole Nordeman, from her "Live at the Door" live CD, which is just remarkable. Back to the show, for being 86 years old, Cyndi Lauper looks fantastic.

11:30p... Seacrest talks to the Allen family and the Lambert family. Then we cut to The Widower Danny Gokey, singing "Hello" by Lionel Richie... oh, please please please let Lionel come out.. please please please Father in Heaven God please I pray let Lionel come out... why? Cause Lionel Richie is AWESOME and you know this.

Not only that, but this video's unintentional comedy rating is somewhere in the 100s.

And here comes Lionel Richie! Yeah! I am so seriously thinking of growing me a Lionel 'stache. Still reminds me of Chris Tucker in "Rush Hour"... "Lionel Richie ain't been black since the Commodores!" Dude, his Commodore mustache has to be one for the ages... no kidding.

He and Dead Wife sing a newer song, "Just Chill", and then kick it old school by tossing out some "All Night Long", which in retrospect, is just a fun song. We're going to party... caramba... fiesta... forever... all night long (all night, all night)... all night long (all night, all night)... everyone you meet, there's dancing in the street (all night)... everyone you meet, there's dancing in the street (all night).

When I worked at Cox Radio, I spent time on the Rob & Shannon Morning Show, and as a result, I got meet some fun celebrities, however B-List they might be. I met Fred Travelina, and Rodger from Survivor Outback and Harry Anderson, and honestly, I don't get starstruck. Just never do. However, when I met Kevin Pollak, I was star struck. I was like, "Wow, its Kevin Pollack, holy crap!" and my friends later said, "You get star struck over the oddest celebrities..."

I think if I ever met Lionel Richie, I would be star struck, in a way that I wouldn't be if I met Jon Bon Jovi or Bono or any of the Hootie guys.

11:40p... We now see The Ambiguously Gay Adam Lambert's journey through Idol. Let's be honest here... the guy has a great voice. I mean, really, you can't deny how good he can sing. For someone who doesn't have a trained voice, I can tell he can sing, but for those who have trained voices, they think he can sing even more so.

Its not the outfits... heck, I (I just had to pause the DVR, because The Ambiguously Gay Adam Lambert just appeared on stage, wearing the weirdest outfit ever, which I didn't understand until I heard him sing the words... "Beth I hear you calling..." which made me nod my head and say, "Yeah. Gene Simmons. That explains it.") loved 70s flambouyant crazy Elton John--his best music was from that day and age. Its not the Ambiguously Gay Gayness, cause no, I'm not a homophobe. We don't even know if he's gay. He's never told us he was. I mean look at Clay Ai... I mean... look at Lance Ba... um... I mean, look at... oh, forget it.

Its the screech. I hate it. I can't stand it. Perhaps in the same way that some Michael Jackson haters didn't like the "woo!' and the "shi-moh!" in his music, thereby causing them to not like Michael Jackson. For me and The Ambiguously Gay Adam Lambert, its the screech. Drives me nuts. Do I want to see him win or lose? I don't care. Seriously. I'd rather have The Lovely Steph Leann's Next American Idol Kris Allen win, but I'm okay with The Ambiguously Gay Adam Lambert winning. Does bother me that his boots are consistantly covered in saliva from the judges licking his boots every single episode.

11:46p... YES! YES!! YESS!!!! I channel Beavis & Butthead as The Ambiguously Gay Adam Lambert finishes "Beth" and introduces KISS!!! The entire band, full makeup and everything...

You know, if I were The Lovely Steph Leann's Next American Idol Kris Allen, I'd be hacked off. He got Keith Urban... and The Ambiguously Gay Adam Lambert gets KISS???? How is that remotely fair? Typical of this show. And there's a screech, sandwiched between Gene Simmons and Ace. And in case you had forgotten the screech sound, he gives you another. And one more. And another. Like, four in a row? I'm not sure my brain can handle his brilliance.

11:51p... Santana stands on stage, doing his guitar mastery. Matty G, who also is very, very lucky, sings the opening verse to the classic "Black Magic Woman" before Santana busts into "Smooth", which is a great song. I think I lost my taste for "Smooth" because during that year, it was played about 9,388 per day and I heard it almost that many times... I think radio stations were just playing only that song... "This is 99.3, Smooth FM, playing 'Smooth' over and over non stop. All 'Smooth', all the time. 99.3 Smooth FM".

11:53p... Was that Rachel McAdams in the audience? Fine.

11:54p... Ford Music video! Where's the remote! Featuring David Cook! Awarding them their own 2010 Ford Fusion! Wouldn't The Ambiguously Gay Adam Lambert rather drive a Scion?

11:55p... Megan G, Mike the Oil Welder (I can't remember which he does, oil or weld, so we'll go with both) and... Steve Martin. That's right, Steve Martin. MJC, who still cannot sing, has this look on her face that is cracking me up... while Mike the Oil Welder is seemingly really enjoying himself, knowing this is as good as its going to get for him, music wise, MJC has this "Okay, so The Ambiguously Gay Adam Lambert gets KISS... The Lovely Steph Leann's Next American Idol Kris Allen gets Keith Urban... freakin' Lil Rounds, who didn't even make it to the Final Five gets Queen Latifah... and I... I get Steve Martin playing a banjo? This is what I get???"

11:58p... And now, the new trailer for "G-Force", another film in the long line of crappy talking animal films from Disney... when I saw on IMDB that "G-Force" was in the pipeline, I was really excited, because I thought it was a long overdue movie version of the classic 70s cartoon, "Gatchaman", also known as "Battle of the Planets"... "G-Force". I was mucho disappointedo when I found out it was about a covert group of secret government agent spies who happened to be guinea pigs. Sigh.

12:01a... More music! I keep waiting for Scott the Blind Vampire to do some stuff with someone.... Ronnie Milsap? Stevie Wonder? All the Idol guys are doing "If You Think I'm Sexy", which is a song that The Eyebrowed One should never be allowed to sing... cause he ain't.

12:03a... Here comes Rod Stewart. Those familiar chords that we all know and love lead to... "Wake up Maggie, I think I've got something to say to you..." When I'm at Starbucks and make a drink, and the name on the cup is "Maggie", I usually say "Wake up Maggie I think I've got a drink for you..." out loud. And I laugh at my brilliant wit and fantastic humor.

12:05a... Rod is old. And this is painful. I'm not sure his hair has changed since 1976. Fast forward.

12:06a... The Outstanding Female Golden Idol nominees... and we have a sighting of Tatiana the Annoying. Can you imagine a Final Two with Tatiana the Annoying and Norman Gentle? Fox would go bankrupt and Rupert Murdoch would kill himself. You know who gets this award... Tatiana the Annoying.

So... I'm not sure if its staged or not... but Tatiana the Annoying comes to the stage, Seacrest tells her they have to go to break, she runs onstage and grabs the mic and starts to sing, Seacrest and several security guards are chasing her around the stage, she is still singing...

Cut to Ruben Studdard in the audience, with a total "What the..." look on his face. I agree, Big Daddy, I agree.

12:10a... The new Transformers movie trailer makes me giddy. Absolutely nerdy giddy. That big robot looking like a bad-A unicycle? Awesome.

12:10a... Did anyone else notice that they haven't gone back to Mikalah Gordon or Carly Smithson for anything?

12:11a... The Ambiguously Gay Adam Lambert and The Lovely Steph Leann's Next American Idol Kris Allen stand side by side, singing "We Are the Champions". And out comes Queen, sans Freddy. I totally think the The Ambiguously Gay Adam Lambert should do an album of Queen songs, because I can totally see him becoming a Freddy Mercury of the 2000s. Let's pray without the AIDS part.

12:14a... Drives me nuts when I hear radio stations play "We Will Rock You" and don't play this song immediately after it. They are two different songs, but MUST be played back to back. While "We Are the Champions" can stand on its own, though I don't think it should unless its the ending credits of "Revenge of the Nerds", "We Will Rock You" needs this song to follow it. This is the only acceptable way to hear "We Will Rock You". It's like playing "American Pie" or "Lyin' Eyes" and cutting off the last verse just to save time. Unacceptable. Let's move on.

NOT EMMY TURNBOW SAFE... three curse words line the dialogue. But this is one of the few acceptable usages of "We Are the Champions" without "We Will Rock You". And a classic ending from a cheesy, awesome 80s movie.

12:15a... I'm also excited for "Funny People", with Seth Rogan and Adam Sandler. And Leslie Mann. Leslie Mann? Fine.

12:18a... Alright, let's finally get to the end of this season and this episode, also entitled "Foregone Conclusion". Simon the Cowell gives them both a little encouragement, and Mr. Bean Counter comes out and hands Seacrest the results in a sealed envelope.

12:19a... Dim the lights.

12:19... And your winner is...

12:20... What?

12:20... What? What did... what?

12:21... (rewinding DVR, looking around for The Lovely Steph Leann's possible sabotage of the video to make the ending she wanted to happen actually happen...)

12:21... Kris Allen. Huh.

12:21... Didn't see that coming.

Postscript... Had more than one or two people comment to me today about how terrible that song "No Boundries" was. And right now, I have to believe that The Ambiguously Gay Adam Lambert is soooooo freakin' happy he doesn't have to sing that song again.

Where will The Lovely Steph Leann's Next American Idol Kris Allen rank amongst Idol winners? No way he reaches Carrie Underwood or Kelly Clarkson. I think David Cook still surpasses him, but I think he'll have a better career than Jordin Sparks and certainly Taylor Hicks... Fantasia has done more outside of music, but strictly with music, he'll take her out too.

AND FINALLY... I hope that you've enjoyed my take on Idol, and I hope that you will continue to stop by Clouds in My Coffee even thought Idol is over this year. And if you like it, if you get a laugh out of what you read, or you enjoy my take on life and pop culture, or disagree too, then tell a friend.

Kris Allen, huh? Hm. The Lovely Steph Leann? Fine.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Idol's Final Stand

One plucks his guitar. One plucks his eyebrows. One sounds like David Cook, Jack Johnson, maybe a rock Kanya. One has crushes on David Cook, Jack Johnson and maybe Kanye. One is beloved by The Lovely Steph Leann. One is beloved by everyone with a rainbow sticker on the back of their car. One is the guy next door. One is dating the guy next door.

One is The Lovely Steph Leann's Next American Idol Kris Allen.

One is The Ambiguously Gay Adam Lambert.

Both are performing tonight... why? Well, because...


Randy the Dawg, Kara the New Hotness, Paula the Green and Simon the Cowell are all ready to heap lavish praise, adoration and love for The Ambiguously Gay Adam Lambert, and ready to resist any urge to possibly compliment The Lovely Steph Leann's Next American Idol Kris Allen, no matter how good he does.

Each guy has three songs to sing. The first is a rehash of a favorite performance from this year, one is a song chosen by Simon Fuller, the show's creator, and one is a song co-written by Kara the New Hotness.

And The Lovely Steph Leann's heart is all a twitter from "Glee", a show about high school show choir, a show that The Lovely Steph Leann has been gushing about for weeks.

The Ambiguously Gay Adam Lambert's parents look normal... heck, his mom even kinda looks cute. And we have this guy now. He's doing his version of "Mad World", one he got raves on weeks ago during "Music During Your Birth Year" Week. I think The Ambiguously Gay Adam Lambert should have been in Tears for Fears. He would have fit. Or perhaps The Pet Shop Boys.

When I was in high school, I had a friend named Victor who's favorite band was R.E.M. Another guy, Joey, used to tease him and tell him R.E.M. stood for Rear End Men. Don't know why I thought about that while watching The Ambiguously Gay Adam Lambert. Hmm.

Randy the Dawg gushes. Kara the New Hotness gushes. Paula the Green gushes. The camera cuts to the fallen Idols, including Anoop Dogg, Matty G and The Gokanator. Simon the Cowell gushes, though said he thought it was a little over theatrical. Really, Simon? When has this guy not been?

The Lovely Steph Leann's Next American Idol Kris Allen's parents look normal, discussing when he would give them "music coupons" for him to sing. It sucks that they pick their best of the season, as he did "Heartless" last week, a song in which, for the first time ever during Idol, I went and downloaded the performance from iTunes.

He's doing "Ain't No Sunshine", from Bill Withers, and out of the corner of my eye, I can see The Lovely Steph Leann nodding her head. The Lovely Steph Leann loves her some The Lovely Steph Leann's Next American Idol Kris Allen. She claps when its over. There are 25 "I know"s in this song, though he only sings 16 of them.

Randy the Dawg laughs uncomfortably, which makes me and The Lovely Steph Leann both go "uh-oh". However, he loved it. Kara the New Hotness gushes, surprisingly. Paula the Green gushes incoherently. Simon the Cowell admits that last week he wasn't sure if American made the right choice, picking him over Dead Wife... "but after that performance, I take all that back now."

Alright its Round Two...

The shows producers have picked Sam Cooke's "A Change is Going To Come" for The Ambiguously Gay Adam Lambert. Funny how he's dressing normal, toning down the freak-o-the-week style, almost leaning conservative to be the middle of the road. So he'll get more votes.

PhotobucketThat's right... this is quite possibly your next American Idol. Live it. Love it.

And here's our first screech of the night, followed by a mini-screech, then another mini-screech, and here's the big finish. And boom... there it is. Four screeches in one song... that's a huge mark to beat.

Randy the Dawg feels liberated from the white man. Kara the New Hotness feels white guilt. Paula the Green stands up and pays reparations. Simon the Cowell feels no guilt, as he's British.

The Lovely Steph Leann's Next American Idol Kris Allen sits onstage, guitar in hand, singing Simon Fuller's choice for him, "What's Going On", made famous by... Marvin Gaye?

I note that, "...he is singing his ever lovin' heart out". Without looking away from the screen, The Lovely Steph Leann just replies, "Mmm hmm."

Randy the Dawg thought it was a bit light for the room and the competition. Kara the New Hotness gushes. Paula the Green gushes. Simon the Cowell didn't care for it, wondering why he didn't make it his own version. Simon, really? Have you ever heard Marvin Gaye's version? Seriously...?

So, the crappy song that always comes out of Idol is called "No Boundaries", though the subtitle is "(for a moment like this) Flying Without Heavenly Wings... Now". And like all the rest, its pretty crappy. Its always inspirational, its always a bomb on the radio (because no one wants to hear it) and its always much maligned by everyone I know.

Oh, The Ambiguously Gay Adam Lambert just sang it. Randy the Dawg actually said it was pitchy. Kara the New Hotness gushes about him singing a song that she co-wrote. Paula the Green says, "Adjectives cannot express what you've brought to this show..." then follows it up with, "...whats an adjective?" Simon the Cowell laughs about the song, saying, "Its the mountains and the hurricanes again..." (he pronounces it "hurri-kins")

And finally... The Lovely Steph Leann's Next American Idol Kris Allen takes on "No Boundaries". Can you imagine he and The Ambiguously Gay Adam Lambert discussing this song backstage... "Dude, [The Ambiguously Gay] Adam... this song sucks. Seriously."
"No kidding [The Lovely Steph Leann's Next American Idol] Kris. No kidding. I'm going to have to majorly suck up to Kara the New Hotness."

And unfortunately, The Lovely Steph Leann's Next American Idol Kris Allen... doesn't do that song all that well. Actually, it wasn't good. Randy the Dawg thought it was pretty good. Kara the New Hotness doesn't want The Lovely Steph Leann's Next American Idol Kris Allen to be judged over the whole season, not just that song. Paula the Green, who, by the way is wearing this shocking lime green blouse that can be seen from space, blubbers. Simon the Cowell doesn't judge the song, just tells him that he should be very proud.

Honestly? I think The Lovely Steph Leann's Next American Idol Kris Allen should be happier in 2nd than 1st. Less restrictions. By this time, he, The Ambiguously Gay Adam, Dead Wife and My Next American Idol Allison Iraheta are going to have the careers that they'll have anyway. Only The Ambiguously Gay Adam Lambert will have a guaranteed record deal.

The Lovely Steph Leann is texting her votes to Idol for her next American Idol. That's Kris Allen, by the way.

"Ain't No Sunshine"... "What's Going On"... "A Change is Gonna Come"... "Mad World"... The Ambiguously Gay Adam Lambert's "No Boundaries". The Lovely Steph Leann's Next American Idol Kris Allen's "No Boundaries".

By the way, they are showing a Idol Season montage filled with all the contestants that did and didn't make it, and singing Motley Crue's "Home Sweet Home" is none other than Carrie Underwood, who has continually gotten hotter and hotter as the years have gone by. No joke.

To counter-act the possibilities of tossing my lunch due to the first picture...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Immuno Boy & the Attack of the Silicone Finger

I pride myself for having a pretty rock solid immune system. My friend Allyson in Troy called me "Immuno Boy" for years. Seriously... I very, very seldom get sick. Now, like most people, I do have headaches from time to time, but the times that I'm prevented from at least getting done what I need to get done at an acceptable level are slim to never. I get a headache, I'll work through it, or if I can, I'll just go to bed early. Wake up later, viola! I'm good. Sometimes I will just throw up. Puke my guts out. Then I'm all better. Anyone else have this phenomenon happen to them?

Anyway, the times I'm forced to go to the doctor are seriously few and far between... in 8th grade, I ran too hard into a wall, also known as Daniel Stephenson, when trying to rush the passer in P.E... he stood tall, I bounced and hit the ground hard, broke my right arm (which is kinda good, because it taught me how to write legibly with my left hand, a talent I still possess). He stood me up, told me I was alright, meanwhile I'm crying cause my arm in bent in an unnatural position.

In 1996, I fell asleep and hit the broadside of a telephone pole with my 1990 Buick Century. Then my face hit the broadside of the steering wheel. Take your index finger and place it right in that little soft spot where your upper lip meets the mid nostril dividing section of your nose. That's exactly where I struck the top part of the steering wheel. Later, when I saw the car in the junkyard, I marveled at how cool the blood spatter looked across the windshield. Two stitches in the left nostril--IN, not around--two in the middle and two in the right.

In 2003, I had a terrible cold and a bad sore throat. Worked my day job at the radio station, then went to Starbucks feeling miserable. Finally called in the next day and visited a doc-in-the-box, found out I had strep throat.

In 2005, I had to go to the doctor for a full physical, having not had one in... 17 years? I had to have one when I was 13 to go to Camp Ala-Flo, the Boy Scout camp, but not since. But I was headed to a NYC mission trip, so off to the doctor I went. It was my first ever "drop trou" check up. Let's talk uncomfortable. I know the doctor.

In 2007, my right arm was feeling pretty miserable, stinging pain, hurt to twist it sometimes, so on and so forth. Took a check up, found out it was tendinitis. Had to wear a brace for three weeks, which majorly got in the way when I was pulling shots for lattes, and got pretty sticky when I was pumping syrup. More than once the end of the pump got caught between my brace and my wrist, and I had vanilla syrup pumped down my arm.

That list seems like alot, really... but when you consider in my entire life, that's the only medical maladies I can even recall, I think that's pretty good... especially considering I don't take all the precautions that society tells us we should take..

Or maybe, that's pretty good BECAUSE I don't take all the precautions that society tells us we should take. I, for one, love being barefoot and spent much of my childhood doing so. When I was a kid, I ate dirt. I've eaten a Milkbone dog biscuit. Snot, poop, blood and other fluidy type things don't bother me. I've worked with middle schoolers for almost 10 years, and we can all attest to the hygiene proficiency of your typical 7th grade boy.

Point is, I have a pretty good immune system built up over the years... The Lovely Steph Leann swears up and down that our daughter Lorelei and our son Camp will not go barefoot in our yard, and I'm pretty adamant that they probably will. The Lovely Steph Leann swears up and down that children won't get dirty, play in the mud or the rain or the creek or whatever, and I am pretty adamant that not only will they, I'll probably be there with them. Of course, if Lorelei takes after her mom, she'll be such a princess girly girl that the thought of "outside" might make her run in terror, but this is what builds your immune system. When we were in The Happiest Place on Earth in February, the same stomach virus that took my wife out of commission for 48 hours got me for about, I dunno, 8.

And I do not, let me repeat, DO NOT ever, ever, ever, ever use hand sanitizer unless its a real, real emergency. That gel stuff that dissolves on your hands, like washing your hands, but you know, without water. I think the fact this stuff can be found in every household, every kitchen and every desk of anyone who has a slight fear of a single germ is the reason that Swine Flu Mania has gripped our country. Every one's immune system is shot. Heck, The Lovely Steph Leann is sniffly and wheezy at least three times per year.

Another aside... I've been biting my nails since I was like, five. I tried to fight it, I tried to stop it, I used that fingernail stuff that tastes terrible, but that stopped when--and I vividly remember this--I had a hair in my mouth one day. A random hair in your mouth is maddening, as its so thin and hard to find, but almost impossible to swallow or spit out, so what do you to? You go after it. And I did. After a few minutes of tasting this terrible, awful, disgusting anti-nail biting crap on my fingers, I did away with the hair. And the terrible, awful, disgusting anti-nail biting crap.

Sometimes, I bite my nails too far down. Every now and then, it will pull a little at the edge of my fingertips, and draw a little blood. It happens. I shrug it off, knowing this is what I signed up for when I decided to stop trying to stop biting my fingernails. Even less every now and then, it will come too close to the edge of the fingernail. It will be sore for a day, then develop a little "pus pocket" of which I'll stick with a pin, a nail, my teeth, a box cutter, a pencil tip or anything else sharp I have handy--it'll ooze out green and be fine. Like I said, immune system rocks.

SIDEBAR: "PUS" is like the words "Arraignment" and "Chafe". There is not a good use of this word, and when its used in the sentence, I'm not sure its ever in a positive light.

Now, to the actual story that I'm telling, after all the back story...

Imagine my surprise when last Thursday, my index finger on my right hand was a little swollen. I don't necessarily remember biting this nail anytime recently, but it could have happened. On Friday, it was even more swollen, looking kind of icky. I pushed it a little, poked it a little, expecting to see the green ooze of pus coming out, and it didn't. Saturday, it was still icky. And bigger.

Sunday night, The Lovely Steph Leann and I are enjoying salads at Jason's Deli, and she stops me from eating. "What is wrong with your finger?" I looked down, realizing it was still swollen and pretty sore, and I just casually mentioned that I might have bitten it down too far days ago, and that it would go away. Then she pulled out the words that husbands just don't want to hear... "Honey, you need to go to the doctor."

"Really," I replied. "It'll go away."
"How long has it been like that?"
"I dunno, a few days."
"And it hasn't healed? You need to go to the doctor tomorrow. That's infected. You don't want that infection to get into your bloodstream."
And the rest of the night was filled with me making Swine Flu, Lyme Disease, finger & arm amputation jokes, and her smacking me and telling me that that isn't funny. (it is).

I go into The Happiest Place in the Mall on Monday, tell my Magical Manager whats going on (she knew about the swollen finger, having commented on it already) and that I had an appointment later that morning. Turns out that, yes, it was infected.

Doc put a cold freeze on it, which hurt, but didn't hurt nearly as bad as when he used a needle to go straight into the swollen area, right where the nail meets the skin, to lance it and bleed it out. And bleed is what it did. Like an almost empty tube of toothpaste, he ran his fingers up my index finger, squeezing out what would come out. I felt my finger giving birth. I have this uber-powerful ointment I put on it several times per day, a prescription ointment stronger than Neosporin. (MZ has already told me she wants it for her children when I'm done)

Oh, but there's more... my medical dysfunctions continue...

So, the next day I have an eye appointment. My contacts have really, really been bothering me for a month now. I just got this new brand, Acuvue Oasys, which is supposed to be revolutionary in comfort and vision and such. Whatever, I just wanted contacts.

A few days after I put them in, I noticed that even though my left eye was fine, my right eye was blurry. On the fourth day of having them in, they started irritating the heck out of me, and I had to yank out the right contact. Take out the right, gotta take out the left, to start with a fresh pair. Its like how they recommend getting all four tires at the same time.

Wore my glasses a few days, then went back to the contacts, a fresh pair. I checked my contacts to make sure the right one was going in right eye, left one to left eye, and sure enough, Right is -3.75, left is -3.25, so that was correct. Looked carefully to make sure they weren't inside out, and they weren't. Still, same situation... two days of good vision, then on Day Three, blurriness, and on Day Four, irritation and removal. Called the eye doctor, who didn't call me back. Went in there, and they told me it might just be a bad box. They gave me two new sets, told me to try them out.

Two days of good vision. Day Three, blurry. Day Four, had to pull them out... only this time, the left eye was joining in the festivities of wrecking d$'s vision. Finally, I made another appointment. I tried putting my contacts in again once more, and the same situation happened. All in all, I went through six pairs of contacts in a three & half week span. Not normal.

Now, I'm not adverse to wearing glasses, I don't mind it... for a while. However, I like being able to run or play tennis, and glasses hinder that, and if I go swimming, I can't see out of the pool, and you can't see anything when you wake up, and in the summer, I like my sunglasses, which my glasses get in the way of that too... but on Tuesday, I strode in, wearing my glasses, for my eye appointment, about 6 weeks after my last appointment.

Doctor came in, did the exam and lifted my eyelid. Its never a good thing when your doctor sighs, says, "This isn't good", and then grabs a picture to show you whats wrong.

"You have silicone deposits in your eyelids"


"Johnson & Johnson, makers of Acuvue Oasys, and even Bausch & Lomb's brands have started putting silicone in their contacts. They won't admit it, but we all know this is whats happening. People are developing allergies to the silicone, and after a day or so, the contact becomes unwearable and irritating to the eyes, and its dangerous after a long period of time." She pulls out a picture, points to the normal looking eye lid and says, "See, this is what a normal looking eyelid looks like." Then she points to the one on the other side of the row, one that looks all red and weird and gross, and says, "This is what an eyelid that has a silicone allergy looks like."

Remember those pictures they showed you in 8th grade of a lung that had been in a smoker's body, or a someone's mouth that used dip, and the smoker or dipper in the classroom felt all awkward and weird? I felt like that smoker dipper just then. Especially when I asked, "Does mine look like this?" and she smiled weakly and said, "No, yours is off the charts. We've got to get that silicone out of your eyes."

So, now, not only do I have an allergy to silicone, which means I can NEVER have breast implants, I also cannot wear contacts for at least two weeks. I have another appointment in a few weeks, where she'll check my eyes to see if its gone, and if its not, then I have to go another few weeks without wearing contacts. When its all gone, though, they'll replace all of my contacts with a different kind, which is good.

I have two bottles of eye drops, one I used twice per day, the other four times per day... the latter is weird, as when I drop it in my eye, everything is foggy and gray. Almost like putting milk in your eye. And when it drips out of my eye, it looks like the android from Alien.

On top of that, I have these sulfur based antibiotic pills I'm taking for my finger infection, in addition to putting ointment on my hand three times per day. I am like that old guy who has to "go take his pills". Wait... I AM that old guy who has to "go take his pills".

But my immune system rolls on.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Idols Make Choices (with results!)


So, Idol opens up with Ben Stiller, Jonah Hill, Bill Heder and Hank Azaria doing their own plug for "Night at the Museum: Battle for the Smithsonian", introducing Idol and Seacrest and such... The Lovely Steph Leann giggles for a second, then dryly says, "Yeah, that was kinda stupid..."




We are actually watching it live this time around, and not on DVR. Which means that we cannot fast forward through the Ford Commercial or the group song. They introduce the remaining Idols, The Widower Danny Gokey, The Ambiguously Gay Adam Lambert and The Lovely Steph Leann's Next American Idol Kris Allen--when his name is called, The Lovely Steph Leann cheers. He might actually be on the B-Team of The Colin Firth Club.

Alicia Keys comes up to promote a charity group, then introduces a Rwandan singer kid. Not to be mean, but this is the kinda stuff I would want to fast forward through.

I'm not sure, but I think the kid just said "Paul is dead" in Rwandese.

After the break, we journey to the hometowns, which makes sense, because last night they barely showed a clip of the hometown journey, when they usually show a full video montage of each one. I'm wondering if The Ambiguously Gay Adam Lambert's takes place in the Blue Oyster Bar. Wookiee, that one is for you.

Now, KT, dim the lights. Let's look at who might be going on next week. The Widower Danny Gokey comes out, per Seacrest's instructions, and I'm wondering if perhaps he goes home. Think about it... The Goke has been floating by on much of his music and reputation, while The Lovely Steph Leann's Next American Idol Kris Allen is peaking at just the right time... hmm...

Dead Wife stands nervously, awaiting Seacrest to read the results. And without a word of results, Seacrest sends Dead Wife to the couch. The Lovely Steph Leann's Next American Idol Kris Allen comes out (The Lovely Steph Leann shouts "Yeah! Yeah! Awesome!!"--she is more excited about this guy than she ever has been about me.. ha!)

Gotta say, The Lovely Steph Leann's Next American Idol Kris Allen's video is pretty cool, mostly because the background song is Tears for Fears immortal "Everybody Wants to Rule the World." My favorite by them is "Head Over Heels", but the other is great, especially used in "Real Genius", a somewhat forgotten gem of an 80s movie starring Val Kilmer (also starring a very young Uncle Rico from "Napoleon Dynamite"). Hysterical flick.

Seacrest sends him to the Couch of Anxiety with The Goke.

And in another part that I'd like to fast forward through, Jordin Sparks comes out to sing her new song, "Battlefield". The Lovely Steph Leann is laying on the couch, watching and listening to Jordin sing. I am surfing the net, reading random trivia on IMDB. We sit in silence as Jordin sings, "Battlefield! Battlefield! Battlefield!"

Breaking the silence, The Lovely Steph Leann pipes up with this... "What? Do you like this song? [I say no, and that I've mostly tuned it out]. I mean... this is the stupidest song ever. [mocking Jordin] Battlefield! Battlefield! What is that line? 'Better go get your armor'? That's ridiculous. How... in... the... world... did she beat Melinda Doolittle to win Idol? Seriously."

And finally, The Ambiguously Gay Adam Lambert. Randy the Dawg runs onstage, licks his boots. Kara the New Hotness comes out and kisses his bum. Paula the Flake says, "I can make you straight." Simon the Cowell bends down and screams "We're not worthy! We're not worthy!". He's right, though. Really, who is?

By the way, do you notice that The Ambiguously Gay Adam Lambert's video is a wee bit longer than Dead Wife or The Lovely Steph Leann's Next American Idol Kris Allen? Anyway, Seacrest sends him over to sit with the other guys.

First, though, before the results, Katy Perry comes out to sing for us. She is known for her song "I Kissed a Girl", which I'm not sure that The Ambiguously Gay Adam Lambert has ever experience. Anyway, Katy Perry's new song is called "Waking Up in Vegas." Her cape has Adam Lambert's name on it, which makes me think that its right out of his closet.

As Katy Perry sings, The Lovely Steph Leann says: "Maybe we're just old that we don't get into the kids music nowadays. I mean, is this what kids like? I like Daughtry, is he still popular? This song is stupid. That Lady GaGa song was stupid. That Flo-Rida song was stupid." What impresses me most about this mini-rant is that she pronounced "Flo Rida" correctly.

And finally... let's kick someone off. Who is the first of two to head to next week's finale? The Lovely Steph Leann screams loudly as The Lovely Steph Leann's Next American Idol Kris Allen is announced. The judges clap, Simon the Cowell included, though he sits there wide-eyed with a "this is supposed to be a Goke-Gay final... is this happening?"

And I called it. The Ambiguously Gay Adam Lambert takes on The Lovely Steph Leann's Next American Idol Kris Allen for the title.

That wailing sound you hear is Emmy Turnbow, April Adams, Cindy Jo, Stacy Mintz and 14 million other 30something Mamas crying in unison, as Robert Downey Jr Junior says goodbye.

Just a note... I work next Wednesday night, which means my Idol recap will be late. But I'll recap the show just the same, just later.


Its been weeks and weeks and weeks and weeks and weeks of updates and songs and votes and Seacrest and Randy the Dawg and The Ambiguously Gay Adam Lambert and Dead Wife and Kara and her New Hotness and Mindy D'A hating on Kara's New Hotness and Paula blubbering and blithering and The Lovely Steph Leann's Next American Idol Kris Allen and late nights blogging because I had to work and lights and dim the lights and The Couch of Safety and the Silver Stools of Failure and finally... this is the 300th episode... no, not of this season, but over all...


Two songs per Idol tonight, one chosen by the judges, the other a personal selection.

Also, this late in the season, its a "go home" kind of show. The crews followed the three Idols back to their home, and The Widower Danny Gokey is home at Milwaukee. He gets a text message from Paula the Meanderer that her choice for him to sing is "Dance Little Sister" from Terence Trent D'Arby, who had a huge hit back in the late 80s with "Wishing Well"... "

Let me get my Randy Jackson on when I say this song... nay, this JOINT IS DOPE! Yeah yeah!

Dead Wife is actually bringing it, his husky voice doing the song alright now. Randy the Dawg says, "Let the games begin! Dude, that was dope!" Kara the New Hotness loved the song, but not the gyrating dancing, Paula the Abdul drools on herself and Simon the Cowell didn't like the dancing, but thought the vocals were great.

Seacrest makes a gay joke towards Simon. The Ambiguously Gay Adam feels repressed.

Let's head to Ark-Kansas to see what Kara the New Hotness and Randy the Dawg has selected for The Lovely Steph Leann's Next American Idol Kris Allen "Apologize" by OneRepublic. KT is loving this, wherever she is, because she LOVES this song. She walks around singing it randomly. I'm sure she's beboppin' wherever she is right now.

By the way, a big Clouds Yippee to KT, because to those who don't know, she's expecting a little KT in a few months.

The Lovely Steph Leann's Next American Idol Kris Allen is behind the piano, doing his thing, his voice cracking a few times. Randy the Dawg says he loved it, and that it showed who he could be in the future. Kara the New Hotness wanted a home run, but only got a base hit. Paula discusses butterflies... she is saving rainbows for The Ambiguously Gay Adam Lambert. Simon the Cowell challenges Kara the New Hotness for selecting the song, and then criticizing him for not being more original on the song.

The Ambiguously Gay Adam Lambert gets a text from Simon the Cowell to sing "One" by U2. Simon the Cowell said he had to call Bono to get permission to have The Ambiguously Gay Adam Lambert sing it... for me, its not going to help The Ambiguously Gay Adam Lambert's cause that "One" is one of my least favorite U2 songs. I know, I know, its moving and powerful and means all this and that and so on and so on. Shut up. I don't like the song. Especially from this guy...

...and his screeching...

I can imagine The Edge calling Bono right now, saying, "What the (#&@ dude? You let The Ambiguously Gay Adam Lambert screech during our most beloved song???"

Randy the Dawg said the vocals were good, not great. Kara the New Hotness loved it. Paula the Flake talks about rainbows and Brokeback Mountain. Simon the Cowell heralds the song choice.

Seacrest introduces a video of Carrie Underwood going to Angola as part of the Idol Gives Back program, to show where the donated money goes to. I'm sure I would get a lot of the "I'm so blessed, they are so poor" stuff in my head if I watched this, but its late. And I'm tired. So fast forward. And that's difficult, cause Carrie Underwood is hot.

Now, The Goke has selected for his next song, "You Are So Beautiful" by Joe Cocker. The Goke Bandwagon is rolling along, and sitting shotgun is The Godly Mamas, headed by Emmy Turnbow, the 13th Disciple's Wife Stacy and Cindy Jo. I think Emmy Turnbow might be crying right now.

I think I was bored.

Randy the Dawg loved it. Kara the New Hotness calls it stunning. Paula stops hiding, just tossing her hotel room keys onto the stage, saying, "Seriously. Its been a few months. She's gone. I'm here." Simon the Cowell didn't like the arrangement, but calls the performance a "vocal masterclass".

I think I was bored.

The Lovely Steph Leann's Next American Idol Kris Allen is singing Kanye West's "Heartless". This should be a hoot...

Now THIS... rocks. Strumming with the guitar, it reminds me of a John Mayer cover of a hip hop song... or when Derrick Harris covered "Baby One More Time" on guitar at A Very Deuce Christmas Party in 2000... I think Factor 7 performed too, but don't remember, but seriously... this is awesome.

Randy the Dawg actually liked it better than the original. Kara the New Hotness thought it was fearless, brave and bold. Paula the Flake is tossing her room key to him. "If you can beat The Goke there, so be it." Simon the Cowell said he has written him out, but "Heartless" changes everything.

And this will do what few songs will do... make me go to iTunes and download the song. And I might, tomorrow, do what I've NEVER done in all these years of Idol blogging... go and download the performance version. I didn't do that with Ruben, nor McPheever, nor Pickles (I love Pickles!) nor Carrie nor anyone else. But I just might with this one.

And now to spoil my good mood, here's The Ambiguously Gay Adam Lambert to do Aerosmith's "Cryin'". First "One" and now "Cryin'"... can we ruin any more of my high school memory songs tonight? With a screech, maybe? He looks like he's going to eat that microphone (and there's the screech, during the words "making love", which in itself is disturbing).

And double screech! Two in the same song! Three! Will he go for four? I mean, I would say this guy sucks, but there are too many jokes there. Seriously.

Randy the Dawg liked it better than "One". Kara the New Hotness loves the notes. Paula the Flake says, "If Steven Tyler was a mentor..." and I'll finish it by saying, "I hope he'd kick you in the jimmy for killing his song." Simon the Cowell pleads to the audience to vote for The Ambiguously Gay Adam Lambert.

My choices for the night... The Lovely Steph Leann's Next American Idol Kris Allen's "Heartless"... The Widower Danny Gokey's "Dance Little Sister"... The Lovely Steph Leann's Next American Idol Kris Allen's "Apologize"... The Widower Danny Gokey's "You Are So Beautiful"... The Ambiguously Gay Adam Lambert's "One"... The Ambiguously Gay Adam Lambert's "Cryin'"