Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Visit to Freedom Enterprises

My time off is random... an afternoon here, a morning there--this past Monday was Memorial Day where I, like Barack Hussein Obama, honored the "fallen solders, some of whom I see in the audience", but that's another story. Anyway, Memorial Day for me was broken into three parts... early morning (sleep), in to work for an hour (payroll), late morning (lunch), back to work for two hours (Jeff didn't show up) and back home again.

So I got a full day off today... which all of that is to say, I got to run errands for my lovely wife, The Lovely Steph Leann. I had to go by Valleydale Church (an sbc fellowship) to pick up some stuff, then I ran by The Disney Store, then I went by Kingdom Comics, and somewhere in the day, I was supposed to go to a vacuum shop that sells bags for Kirby Vacuums. The Lovely Steph Leann has this heavy, monster of a vacuum that only takes Kirby bags, and apparently, one place in town sold them, and she had figured out where.

It was located in Lorna Brook Village, which is the little shopping area almost directly across from our old apartment, The Case de Pesos. Shouldn't be too hard, right? I roll over there on my way between stops, dash in, get the vacuum bags and be up on my way.

Well, I roll up into Lorna Brook Village, and somehow, I'm not seeing the vacuum shop. I'm half expecting to see a sign that says "Kirby Vacuums" or at least, "The Vacuum Store" or "Suck It Up: Vacuum Sales & Parts". I mean, what do you name a store that sells vacuums, aside from the brand you sell? "Hoover's Hoovers", tagline "We Suck. And That Doesn't Suck."

I slowly drive the perimeter of the place, looking at each sign, and see nothing resembling a vacuum dealership, or even a vacuum sales or repair shop. I pull into a space in the far end of the lot and give my wife a call.

Me: "Um... was this vacuum shop in the Lorna Brook Village?"
The Lovely Steph Leann: "That's what the lady said. You don't see it?"
Me: "I don't see anything that slightly resembles a vacuum store..."
The Lovely Steph Leann: "Hmm. Well, that's what she said. I didn't quite understand the name of the place. I just know she said they sold Kirby vacuum bags."
Me (scanning the shopping center): "I see Calico Corner... Yoe Xpress... Then Again... Amigos Mexican Grill... Wayne King... GMAC Reality..."
The Lovely Steph Leann: "Wait, what was that Wayne King one?"
Me: "That's Wayne King, State Farm Insurance. The Lovely Steph Leann, I don't see any kind of vacuum place."
The Lovely Steph Leann: "That's so weird. She told me where the shop was, and she said it was in that shopping center. Maybe you need to call them, since you are there."

So she gave me the number, I hung up, then dialed 988-5119. The phone rang for one or two times, and then I heard "Weposahtiv!!" on the other end.

A little confused, I stuttered, "Hi... are you located in the Lorna Brook Village shopping center?"
The voice, sounding echo-y, replied, seemingly frantic, "Ya! You looking for an interview?"
Still confused, "Uh... an interview? No, I was wondering if you sold Kirby products?
The voice replied, still a little frantic, "Ya! We sell bags!"

Interviews? What do I need with an interview? I finally asked, "What is the name of your business?"
"Freedom Enterprises!"

If you are looking for a vacuum, or vacuum bags, this might not be the place for you. If you are looking for a good time, however...

I hung up, scanned the shopping center once again, and in the corner, there was a small gathering of people, standing under a banner that had been hung up--one of those banners you have made until your store sign is completed or installed--that said "Freedom Enterprises".

"Really?" I said to myself. I wheeled over to that side of the shopping center and parked. Freedom Enterprises was nestled between two businesses that, judging from their signs in the window that said, "For Lease", didn't make it. Outside the glass door were about six people, a mixture of male, female, black and white, including one white chick that sat in a chair that was propping a door open. All were dressed rather nicely, though a few looked uncomfortable in the sweater vests, ties and dress blouses they wore.

I walked up to the door, which was right next to the door that white chick seated in the chair was propping open. I went inside, and suddenly I felt like I was at Club La Vela all over again... well, except for the loud music. And the drinks. And the hot chicks. And the dancing. But, the cigarette smoke was fierce in the air.

The office was completely disheveled, with the desk very messy, boxes piled up along the wall, a motivational poster reading "RISK" on the wall, and a large mirror on the left. Straight ahead of where I walked in, another open door lead to a wide open room, almost bare, containing just a desk and a copier and a few piles of papers. It reminded me of the office that Mitch McDeere and Tammy Hemphill rent to make copies in "The Firm".

Facing the mirror was a young lady, maddeningly putting on makeup, talking on the phone. I stepped in, and then stepped close to the desk. Now, its important to note that most guys have their things about girls. Some guys are "boob men", others are "butt men", ie, the parts of a girl that are noticed first. I'm happy to admit I'm a "Hair Guy" and "Smile Guy", and admittedly, this chick had very, very pretty hair. All curly and wavy, reminding me of Liz Enloe (for those that know here--you can check my friends on Facebook).

I could only see her face in the mirror, as it was a long mirror, put nailed to the wood-paneled walls horizontally, just high enough that she could touch up her lipliner, which is what she was doing.

While on the phone, she looked at me through the mirror, "Can I help you?"

"Yeah, I need to get some vacuum bags"
"For a Kirby?"
"Okay, I'll (phone rings) Fffffudge... I'll get someone in just a second..." The way she said "ffffuudge" made it clear she was desperately trying not to curse in front of a potential customer. The phone rang a minute later, and she said, "Shhhhhucks...."

Another thing became clear the moment she turned around--her hair wasn't what she was most proud of. She whirled around towards me and it startled me by how much the ponies wanted to get out of the stable. They were bucking in their red blouse corral.

"So, uh... I'm guessing you are interviewing for hires here?"
"Oh yeah, I'm a recruiter. I'm #4 in my region. We teach them how to market here."

Boob Girl stepped past me, grabbed something on her desk, then went back to the mirror. She started applying more lipliner, telling me how she was excited there was a big crowd outside for the training seminar.

And... it all came clear. Freedom Enterprises recruits and trains door-to-door salesmen for Kirby Vacuums, though I'm guessing that's not all they do. The phone rang again, and Boob Girl reached for the phone.

"Dang it, I thought there was supposed to be someone back there to do this!" she answered, "We're Positive! This is Callie!"

We're Positive? That seemed to jibe with what I heard on the phone earlier, and on the door leading to the other room, a simple black and white note said some sales stuff, and under it, read "We're Positive!" Makes sense.

Callie the Boob Girl dialed a number really quick, and spoke, "Hey, is Bindle there? He needs to get out here, there's someone here who wants some bags."

I'm not sure she said "Bindle" but it sounded like that. "Wants some bags" kinda made me feel like I was buying a dimebag or crack, and honestly, I was in a room that fit the bill.

Without a word, Callie the Boob Girl went out the door and disappeared. I saw a guy in cut-offs and a polo walk up, smoking a cigarette, and put it down on the outside window sill. As he came inside, the plume of cigarette smoke actually drifted in, still floating around his head. He looked at me and disappeared into the next room. Another guy, a larger black man, came out in a shirt and tie. "Can I help you sir?"

"Yeah, I need to buy some Kirby Vacuum bags"
"You want the 2 pack or 6 pack?"
"The 2 pack is 11.95 and the 6 pack is 29.95"
"I'll take the 2 pack"

Bindle went back into the room from whence he came, and Cigarette boy came back out, strolling back outside. He picked up his cigarette and went out of view. Bindle came back and handed a plastic package, containing 2 Kirby vacuum bags.

"Are they all the same size?" I asked.
"Yep" he replied, "Cash or credit?"
"Um..." I fumbled for my debit card, "I guess credit. Would it be easier to pay cash?"
"I can do credit. But yeah, it would be easier to do cash"

I pulled out a ten and 2 ones, and handed them over. He dug in his pocket and out came a nickel, which he handed it to me. Bindle nodded, I nodded back, and strode out. Everyone still stood outside, supposedly awaiting the training session, and Callie the Boob Girl was walking toward the office.

The whole visit lasted about 10 minutes. But what an entertaining 10 minutes.

When I got home, I pulled up "Freedom Enterprises" on Google, and came up with these juicy tidbits:

From the Ripoff Report, Coachcp13 says, "NEVER LET A KIRBY SALESMAN INTO YOUR HOME. They forced there way in by offering a SERVICE when really they were selling a product."

From the SuperPages ad for Freedom Enterprises, Guest 44308 says, "The company drops the salesman off and leaves him alone with the home-owner... " while Guest 39371 says, "...the salesman who entered my home was very obviously intoxicated. You could not only smell the alcohol, but his eyes were blood shot and he had difficulty keeping his eyes open..."

You know those ads in the paper that declare you can make $1600 per month cleaning carpets, with no experience necessary? Yeah, Freedom Enterprises is one of those places. I feel like I just bought drugs.

Sometimes, people ask me why I blog. Days like this? This is why I blog.

Friday, May 23, 2008

My Favorite Tunes (Part II)

Sometime last week, I listed my favorite songs... what I considered to be my absolute, most beloved songs out there... you can read all about that here, in case you missed it.

However, Stephen King made a good point in the back pages of a recent Entertainment Weekly. He said basically that, no matter your favorites, what are the songs you listen to the most?

Granted, I've had my iPod for just over 2 years now, and when I got a new laptop, my playcount reset to 0, but still, I have a good idea of the songs I listen to the most. Keep in mind, the good majority of my time is spent listening to podcasts of: The Dave Ramsey Show, The Rush Limbaugh Show, Car Talk, The B.S. Report and PTI, and sometimes I get to watch a Strong Bad email, Samantha Brown touring South America or Inside the Kingdom's Disney Podcasts.

Taking Stephen's point, though... I thought, "What do I listen to the most?" I made myself a "smart playlist", ie, you can set it up with tons of perimeters. I excluded audio books and TV shows, and set it up to only list the songs I'd played 11 times or more. And this is what it came up with:

Played 11 times on my iPod:
"Cowboy Take Me Away" by The Dixie Chicks. Love it. Call me names, I don't care. Makes me think of Dana Mitchell in that Samford step sing skit many years ago.
"Sorry to a Friend" by Edwin McCain. Yes, yes, his first big hit was "Solitude", but to me, this is a much better song. Of course, now all you hear from Edwin on the radio is "Could Not Ask for More" or "I'll Be". Its a travesty, really.
"Fergalicious" by Fergie. Its actually the video. Originally, before I moved to the laptop, this was closing in on 40 plays. I will now go slam my head in our garage door.
"Learn to Fly" by The Foo Fighters. Speaking of the Foo, the website The Smoking Gun lists celebrity "riders", or contract specifications of bands and artists when they perform somewhere. Sometimes its something simple, like "no shellfish because of allergies" or whatever. Other times, it borders on ridiculous. One band asks for all the green M&Ms to be removed. I bring that up to say The Foo Fighter Concert Rider is absolutely hysterical.

"Callin' Baton Rouge" by Garth Brooks. This song is fun to sing, especially when you are so off key, cats and flies are both dying... "aaaaahhhhperator wont you put me on through I gotta send my love down to Baton Rouge hurry up won't you put her on the line I gotta talk to my sweet girl one more time ooooh ooooh ooooh sweet Baton Rouge...."
"Until I Fall Away" by The Gin Blossoms. Oh, where did the Blossoms go? Anywhere they'd go, I'd follow them down.
"Fading Like a Flower (everytime you leave)" by Roxette. You know those bands that have songs that everyone knows, like "The Look" or "Must've Been Love"? And those bands that have songs that really, only their fans would know? Yeah, I give you this song.
"I Have Nothing" by Whitney Houston. You ask me why, I repeat the title of this song.

Played 12 times on my iPod
"King of Pain" by Alanis Morissette. The live version from her Unplugged album, which is simply fantastic. This is the song by The Police, but I daresay she improved it.
"Uninvited" by Alanis Morissette. Also, the live version, from the Unplugged album. This is the song that was featured in "City of Angels", a movie that I hope Nic Cage takes solace only in the fact its not "Capt Corelli's Mandolin"
"Full Moon" by Brandy. This is way back before she became a mom and ran people over. Anyway, this song is da bomb dot com... its tight. I don't really know all the words, though, but I'm pretty sure somewhere in here she says, "We can dance if you want, get to crackin' if you like". I'm not sure I want to know what that means.
"Hole Hearted" by Extreme. Before they wussed out on us with "More than Words", they were a rockin' little band. This song takes me back to 8th grade. Way back.
"One Hundred Years" by Five For Fighting. The Lovely Steph Leann really likes this tune, and really, I can't blame her. Its a smooth little ditty.
"The Way I Am" by Ingrid Michaelson. Pretty much the newest song on the entire Played 11+ Times playlist, its also fun to sing. Short and sweet.

"Stay" by Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories. Speaking of fun to sing, this is #1 on my "Favorite Songs to Walk Around and Sing Endlessly" because when you do, chances are someone will join you. And this is one of those songs that, if you ask me to sing the 2nd verse (which, you wouldn't) I couldn't do it without first racing through the first verse and chorus. You can't start in the middle of this song. Go ahead, watch the video. Be entranced. Do it.
"3 AM" by Matchbox Twenty. I consider this my Melanie Jackson song from 1997. That's all I got.
"Chains" by Tina Arena. "Oooh" starts it out, with a finger snap, a couple of beats and a clap. Then another finger snap, another couple of beats and another clap. Its almost like a game... and Aussie singer Tina Arena can wail, I tell ya. I don't think I realized she's kinda hot too, at least, in 1995.

Played 13 Times on My iPod
"Two Tickets to Paradise" by Eddie Money. Looking over my list, this is the most surprising, really. Its just a 70s classic. I liken Eddie Money to Pat Benetar, and a few select others... first, you don't realize how many songs they actually had until you pay attention, then you realize that you like more of them then you thought.
"Barracuda" by Heart. I tried to play this on Guitar Hero a few weeks ago. I got about halfway through it, then fell completely apart. Ooooohhh Barra-cuda.

Played 14 Times on My iPod
"I'll Be Okay" by Amanda Marshall. On my list of saddest songs ever, a few years ago, this one came in strong. Its very, very painful, when you listen to it, but its a deceptive pain. Its not all touchy, feely ballady slow, its actually got a simple beat to it... featured in "My Best Friend's Wedding", its about letting go of someone who wants someone else. See these eyelids? Fire pokers are going through them now.
"Poison" by Bell Biv Devoe. In keeping with the sad, weepy songs list... ha! Contains perhaps some of the greatest, wisest advice anywhere... "Never trust a big butt and a smile..."
"Alone" by Heart. Back in the day, Nancy and Ann Wilson had it going on.

Played 15 Times on My iPod:
"Linger" by The Cranberries. I mean, let's talk about college, shall we? This is the song I remember when I'm hanging out with Miranda Bryant until 3 am (I must be lonely), while waiting for Bobby and Mandy to come back from the golf course, or I remember from wondering what Kathy Hollingsworth saw in Jerrod Whatshisnuts, and why she wouldn't go out with me... "you know I'm such a fool for you... do you have to, do you have to, do you have to let it linger..."
"Someone Saved My Life Tonight" by Elton John. Techinically, my favorite Elton John song is "Take Me to the Pilot", but you know how many times that one has been played? Twice. I will say that "Tiny Dancer", my other favorite Elton tune has a 9 time play record. Still, this one is The Lovely Steph Leann's favorite Elton, and really, I can't fault her for it.
"Clarity" by John Mayer. Not even sure how this ended up being played so many times. Not that its a bad song... its like seeing "Men In Black" 15 times. Its good, but really? Have I seen it that much?
"Loungin' (who do you love)" by LL Cool J. The polar opposite of "Clarity", I'm actually shocked I haven't heard this song more. Just don't ever read the words too closely--much like any song by Janet Jackson--because your minds are too pure. Cool J says so much without being offensive... mostly, anyway. He rocks. This was actually the first dance song at our friends DeLisa and DeNick's wedding. Cool J is part Greek, I think.
"Snow (hey oh)" by The Red Hot Chili Peppers. The 13th coolest thing of 2007, played endlessly for a few weeks, then some here and some there. Catchy.

Played 16 Times on My iPod
"How to Save a Life" by The Fray. I discovered this song before I discovered Grey's Anatomy. Actually, it was Scotty Latta who steered me their way... I remember on his Rammer Jammer Blog (R.I.P.), he mentioned how much he liked this band.

Played 19 Times on My iPod
"Light in Your Eyes" by Blessid Union of Souls. I re-discovered this song last year, and realized how addicted I am to it. The line that says, "'s been a while since I've seen you, so how have you been? Did you get my letter I wrote you that I did not send..." Freakin' ouch. Seriously.

Played 20 Times on My iPod
"Cable Car (over my head)" by The Fray. I'm noticing how many times the ( ) are used in songs. It's like, you want to give your song a cool title, like "Cable Car" or "Snow" or "Loungin", but you know that everyone is going to call it by the words they hear several times in the song, so just add a ( ) to it, and that makes it okay. Add an (over my head) or a (hey oh) or a (who do you love) and its all better. Is this an overused cliche?

Funny thing is, when I had to reformat iTunes, the #1 song played on my iPod was Reese Witherspoon's "Wildwood Flower", then until I got a laptop, the #1 song was "Cable Car (over my head)". And now, since the laptop, everything started over again, here we are again.

Bonus list... songs that have been played 10 times and are ready to make the leap:
"Head Over Feet" by Alanis Morisette... "Sister Golden Hair" by America... "Ain't No Sunshine" by Bill Withers... "You're So Vain" by Carly Simon... "What a Fool Believes" by The Doobie Brothers... "Rocket Man" by Elton John... "Vehicle" by Ides of March... "Running on Empty" by Jackson Browne... "The Remedy (I won't worry)" by Jason Mraz... "Bye Bye" by Jo Dee Messina... "Rock Your Body" by Justin Timberlake... "Stand Up" by Ludacris... "Holy Roar" by the Passion Worship Band, featurin Christy Nockels... "Baby I'm Yours" by Shai... "Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover" by Sophie B. Hawkins... "Jimmy Olsen's Blues" by The Spin Doctors... "Drops of Jupiter" by Train... and "La Grange" by ZZ Top.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Idol Finale Part II: Fluff & Circumstance

Here we are, in The Cabana. Wearing all white, its Cook, its Archie…


Is American

Idol Season Finale

Tonight, we are joined by KT, and introducing Alissa and her boo Joey, and of course, The Lovely Steph Leann. This is good, because Alissa is the PK of the group, that being the daughter of Pastor Calvin, pastor of Valleydale Church (an sbc fellowship).

Broadcasting live from Cook’s hometown, its… Mekaleh Gordon? Wow. And Matt Rogers is the broadcaster from Archie’s hometown. The Lovely Steph Leann observes that Paula’s dress is modest. “Look! She’s got the girls locked and loaded away!”

Alissa gives us this tidbit: “My dad voted 20 times for Archie”. That’s my pastor.

We’re now enjoying the Top 12 doing “Get Ready”, where we witness one of the backup dancers almost drop the chick he’s tossing around. This leads to these observations:

The Lovely Steph Leann: “Some of these people don’t need to be wearing white”
Alissa: “Amanda Overmeyer doesn’t sing! She doesn’t sing if its not Janis Joplin!”
KT: “Joey, you bored out of your mind yet?”
Joey: “Huh?”

Cook comes out, by himself (this is after the commercial break), then is joined by Archie, singing “Hero” by Chad Kroeger. KT observes that, “I do not like Archie. I want to kick him.”

Here comes the part where Fox promotes its own, this time being “The Love Guru”, the upcoming movie with Michael Myers. I think this movie looks like a train wreck… like, this movie looks TERRIBLE!!! The Lovely Steph Leann and I both saw this trailer a few weeks ago… the video bit here has Cook and Archie meeting The Guru Pitka, which is the character by Michael Myers.

So, The Guru Pitka comes out on stage, predicting the winners name will be “David”. This joke was just said by both The Lovely Steph Leann and Alissa right before. KT says, “I’m embarrassed for him”

Coming up now, The Black Julia Stiles gets onstage, singing with Seal… and she’s singing “Waiting For You”, which is The Lovely Steph Leann’s favorite song. I’m partial to “Prayer for the Dying”, followed closely by “Crazy” and yes, even “Kiss From a Rose.”

Here's Seal... this is just awesome. Weird, but awesome

The Dreadlocked One makes another appearance, singing “Hallelujah”, one of his best performance. I wouldn’t mind hearing him sing “Over the Rainbow”, the version by Israel Kimanioniaooly’loenialekieanlikna’alie. And we have a Mindy Doo appearance, followed by another Ford commercial, featuring the entire Top 12, which makes me think this was filmed early in the season.

And now the part of the show where Ryan gives Cook and Archie a new car, the Ford Escape Hybrid, though he fails to mention the part where Hybrids actually are many times worse for the environment and on gas mileage than regular vehicles. Just sayin’.

The girls come out, now, singing “She Works Hard for the Money”. My Next American Idol Brooke White is singing… does she know this song is about prostitution? Simba even gets a solo. I just heard the words “Donna Summer” and “new single”. Is this 1978? We all observe that Donna Summer has a bling mic, and got her hair really did. They cut to The Black Julia Stiles, and The Lovely Steph Leann yells, “Whoa!” I reply, “We almost saw Syesha’s mercados!”

Seacrest is dancing a’foo… and finally, Donna gets to the good stuff… “Last Dance.” And wow, we thought Paula had her Abduls locked away, but alas, we almost saw the girls.

Irish Carly and Aussie Michael come out now, singing “The Letter”. Its good the international voices are represented. Makes me wonder if we’ll get the joy of hearing Lil’ Ramy or KLC do something.

And for something that is going to be hilarious, Jimmy Kimmel comes out to review the season. He rips on Paula, Chris Sligh, Simon and Sanjaya, including a great video of all the bad things Simon’s said over the season.

All the Idol guys come out now, singing “Summer of ‘69” by Bryan Adams. Aussie Michael comes out, followed by… Dave the Gay Stripper! And CheezyDeezy! And when Cook and Archie comes in, we morph to “Heaven”, which is probably because the slow song is all that Archie can really sing. And then… to the cheers of KT, Alissa and The Lovely Steph Leann, here comes Bryan Adams! And he looks about 133 years old.

Look, its Jordin Sparks! And its advertising the upcoming American Idol Experience, at Disney Hollywood Studios, the theme park formerly known as Disney MGM Studios. Cook is now singing with ZZ Top, “Sharp Dressed Man”. A Blake Lewis sighting!

My Next American Idol Brooke White is strumming along now with Graham Nash, singing “Teach Your Children.” She’s a Mormon, so I guess I could marry her too. The Jonas Brothers just came on the stage. I feel old, but somewhere Michael Jackson is glued to the tv.

Fun! Here comes the bad-video recap. And, on the stage now, is Renaldo, singing his hit song “Brothers”. Wow. Not good times, bad times. It gets worse… the USC cheerleaders and marching band just marched down the aisle to join Renaldo.

KT’s favorite song, “Apologize” by OneRepublic, has come on now. Across America, black women are coming the stark realization that this soulful voice screeching “too late to ‘pologize… toooooo laaaate….” Is a white guy. Archie then comes out, singing with him. KT says, “Life does not get much worse than this, really”

And our current American Idol, at least for the next thirty minutes (though right now, its 928, which means the American Idol has already been chosen), Jordin Sparks comes out singing her next single that will stall at #56 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Fox is now shamelessly plugging another movie, “Tropic Thunder”, with Jack Black, Ben Still and Rob Downey Jr.

Taking the stage, the hottest American Idol freakin’ ever, at least besides Kat McPhee, Carrie Underwood. And tonight, like always, she’s smokin’ hot. Totally.

A commercial on features Archie, playing Guitar Hero, notable because he’s dressed in his Tom Cruise “Risky Business “ best—undies and flannel shirt.

And now, for the last time, before the results, the Top 12 comes out. And what would make the night better than a George Michael song like “Faith”? If you said “nothing”, you’d be right. Unless you said Castro singing “Father Figure”, or perhaps Dave the Gay Stripper saying the line “…warm and naked…”

Let’s be honest, though… early George Michael… I dig it. “Freedom” is what they are singing now, followed by the appearance of George Michael. Steph says, “Of course he’s there. He’s got an album to hock.” Someone made the comment, “Why George Michael? Because they had to the throw the Brokeback crowd a bone.” He’s singing “Praying for Time”, I’m singing along, Paula is crying and Joey is yawning.

Here's George Michael--trust me, click on this if you have YouTube capabilities... you will NOT be sorry. Or you might be, but thats the point (its safe for work, but not for street cred), back when he was at least pretending to be straight. I wanted to put "Freedom 90" on here, I can only link to it because some jerk disabled embedding for all George Michael videos. What kind of sick person are you, to deprive us of our George?

And finally…

After 19 weeks, two shows per week, 19 or more blogs, and two hours of fluff and puff tonight, we have an American Idol winner. The judges give their final takes, Paula blows sunshine and its time to announce.

And the new American Idol is…

David…. David…. David… COOK!!!!

There is nothing more to add, because literally 5 seconds after Ryan said "Cook"--like, Cook and Archie were moving towards each other to hug--the tv went black, and that box popped up that said "Yes, delete this program or No, do not delete this program". KT shrieked, I laughed, The Lovely Steph Leann said, "Whoops", and Joey yawned.

So, after the whole season, I'll say this... this was probably the best season of Idol I'd ever seen. Heading into the Top 12, there were a number of Idols that I could see winning--Cook, Archie, Irish CarlyAussie Michael, My Next American Idol Brooke White and at the time, even KLC... of course, as the show progressed, we saw the highs and lows of each Idol, and watched Cook and The Black Julia Stiles rise through the ranks, getting better each week, and folks like KLC, Irish Carly and especially Aussie Michael not ever reach their potential.

Part of me thinks that Archie should have won, only because he'll fit the mold of what American Idol will want him to perform better than Cook will, but at the same time, I think David Cook was just... well, better.

That's American Idol 2008. Don't worry, I'll be back in full force in 2009, but I'm sure I'll have about 150 posts between now and then. Next stop... the Dave100.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Idol Finale, Part 1: Cook vs Archie

Tonight, its the final American Idol performance show of the season... its on DVR right now. And in a few minutes, I'm going to watch it... and you can read it as it goes along.


Will be American Idol.

Okie Dokie, its 10pm. The Lovely Steph Leann and KT just came back in from Tuesday Chick Night (a weekly estrogenically fused get together). So, three hours after the show was on, I'll get to watch it...

Opening up the show is Michael Buffer, the guy who came up with the phrase "Let's get ready to ruuuummmmm-buuuulllll". Did you know he actually tried to copyright that phrase? He's introducing Young David and David Rob Thomas Cook like its a boxing match, to which KT asks, "Are you serious? No, really, are you serious?"

We have a Luke Perry sighting. And a KLC fan. Its magic in the Nokia Theater, as the judges--Randy Dawg, Blithering Paula and Simon Cowell--make their appearances. Both Young David and... know what, for the whole season, its been "Young David" and "David Rob Thomas Cook", the former for the fact he's something like 7 years old, the latter because he reminds me of Rob Thomas. Perhaps he has morphed into something beyond Rob Thomas, but thats been his nickname... but tonight, I'm giving them new names. Archie and Cook. Much easier.

Both Archie and Cook are being introduced by Ryan Seacrest, in a piece that sets them up, again, like a boxing match. Mega Producer Clive Davis is talking to them, wondering who's Now this will be.

Archie wins the coin-toss and picks to go 2nd in the rotation. I'll be honest with me. My friend Melanie Z texted me earlier and said, "Cook didn't do so well". Now I'm wondering how this will be set up... seriously, though, does Cook want to sing "A Moment Like Flying Without Your Heaven While Making You Proud.... NOW!" at the end of it all?

The first round are songs chosen by Clive Davis. They've got HBO Sports' Jim Lampley doing snippets talking about how they have to come out swinging. More boxing references. They cut to Andrew Lloyd Webber, giving tips.

Round I
Cook has been assigned "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For", the U2 hit from "The Joshua Tree". This seems like this might be easy for Cookie here, but he's not starting out great.

KT pipes up, and noticably sincere, "I love him. I do."

Its not his best song ever, it kind of sounds like your typical U2 cover, either in concert or, not to be all Simon on you, in a bar.

Randy says it was a great way to start out, saying it was hot, baby, hot. Paula blows sunshine. Simon says he looks tense and emotional, calling it phenomenal. I thought it was just... okay.

Archie has been given Elton John's 70s song "Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me", also made famous when Elton and his Partner in Brokeback George Michael did an early 90s remake.

I'm wondering how fair this is... you got Cook singing U2, a band everyone has heard of. Heck, my mother knows who U2 is, and she's never driven a car and hasn't touched a computer in her life. Then you got Archie, singing Elton John, an older artist that most of the Idol audience under 20 may or may not be familiar with.

Randy says it was flawless, molten hot, and the right time to pique. Paula has sunshine in full effect. Simon breaks up the Archie lovefest... he thought last week Archie was okay... but tonight? The best so far.

KT responds in three sentences. (1) "I'm so sick of Archuleta." (2) "What??" (3) "Did they hear the same song as me??"

Round II
Train wreck! Train wreck!!

The songwriting competition gave us "This is My Now" last year. And I can't let the joke go about how bad this song is. So Archie and Cook get to pick one of the ten finalists in this years contest.

I've advised The Lovely Steph Leann to have the blanket handy to hide her eyes, and KT doesn't know what is about to happen.

Singing "Dream Big", Cook kicks it off. Its a fast paced little ditty full of "you can do it as long as you believe in yourself" and stuff like that.

I wrote a song once about Amy Wible and how she shattered my heart and soul, so I wonder if I should submit that? Okay, I didn't really write a song, but if I did, I would call its "How She Shattered My Heart and Soul". As long as I put the line, "But I believe in myself, I can fly without wings and my heart will rise like a phoenix", it might be considered.

Randy says the song was just okay, but that Cook nailed it. Paula blows sunshine. Simon thought the song was just okay, and though it was supposed to be a winning song, it didn't feel like a winning moment.

Some chick in a commercial just spelled V-E-A-G-S. The words on the screen spelled "VEGAS". Just saying.

"In This Moment" is Archie's song. Wow, its ten seconds old, and it sucks. The Lovely Steph Leann just got glassy eyed, KT is slamming the front door on her head over and over and I just threw up in my mouth. French fries.

Once again, he's got a great voice, but the song... wow. Its like Michael Bolton or Josh Grobin would look at this song and say, "uh, no, we have to have something that rocks a little more than this..."

Randy didn't like the song, but calls Archie in the zone, and makes a "you can sing the phone book" remark. Paula blows sunshine. Simon says that Archie chose the better song. Having already declared Round I for Archie, Simon then declares Round II for Archie.

Round III
Its the contestant song choice... whatever they want. Cook is taking Collective Soul's "The World I Know"... and, well, thats a good choice. Archie is pulling back Lennon's "Imagine" from earlier in the season.

I think that contestants should NOT be able to sing a song they've already done.

Armed with just a guitar, Cook strums out the Collective Soul hit from... 1995? 1997? I was in college. I just remember the video where the guy is walking down the street, in a jacket. Thats all I got.

Personally, I really like this song. I actually like "Heavy" best, because its a great driving song, and I do like "Shine", their breakout hit. "Gel" is fun, as is "December". This one is good too. Oh, yeah, Cook is singing, and not doing too bad with it.

The Lovely Steph Leann, KT and I all agree, we liked it. Cook takes a subtle swipe at his eyes, to wipe the misty tears away.

Randy loved the song, and loved the performance. Paula blows sunshine, and hands him her room key. Simon says, "You are one of the nicest, most sincere contestants we've ever had... but the song was the wrong choice. You should have sung 'Billie Jean' or 'Hello'". I disagree... I like the fact that he sang something different--and Cook agrees.

And now Archie takes the stage, for the final time as a judged Idol. He scored huge with Idol earlier this season, and he's trying it again. And the girls and Swaybots (tm) (the hand waving annoyances in the front) love it.

So, the first time it was great. But this was back when we were just getting to know Young David Archuleta. Now that practically everything he has sung has sounded like this, its not as good, really. Its kind of predictable.

By the way, here's what I said about it the first time, from the February 27th blog...

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.

Randy says Archie was just so good tonight, declaring him the best singer of Season 7. Paula blows sunshine. Simon says that Archie came to win, and that it was a knockout.

Archie is fighting back tears. The Lovely Steph Leann laughs as KT looks at both of us, and whispers, "I hate this show."

I'll admit it, though... I'm rooting for Cook over Archie, but this is the most enjoyable Idol Finale since Carrie and Bo, and The Lovely Steph Leann says, "Or even as far back as Ruben and Clay."

Someone asked me a few days ago who I thought should win. I said, "My Next American Idol Brooke White."

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The White Oaks, with Friends

So, Friday I met up with Mikey, The Rev'rn Ty and Big Tom for lunch, at our favorite waterin' hole, Johnny Ray's BBQ. I don't really know why we still meet there, to be honest, because its really only convenient for Mikey.

When I worked at 106.9 The Point and then NBC13, I was right down the street, so Mikey and I both abused our location power to The Rev'rn and Big Tom, forcing them to come to us. Now, with The Rev'rn living outside of Birmingham, and who knows where Big Tom is coming from, and I'm all the way down Highway 280, we should make Michael travel farther. But for whatever reason, we don't. That's neither here, nor there really.

Found out The White Oaks were playing Friday night at WorkPlay... Now, I'm not really connected to this band other than I know one guy in it, and sorta, kinda know of another guy, though I know his mom more. Matt Jackson is a worship leader, and I have been on many, many retreats and conferences where he was leading worship, both on a stage with hundreds of people, or in a Bible study with nine people (along with Michael Warren). He's married to Mollie, who is the daughter of Sybil Johnson.

Sybil Johnson is the leader of Undivided Ministries, and in my top ten all time Most Influential People, Like, Ever. When she was at Valleydale Baptist Church, she lead The Ministry Formerly Known as Common Ground, and when she left Valleydale, she formed (or continued, not sure which) Undivided, including mission trips to Washington, more Bible studies, discipleship groups and more. She's a neat, neat lady, and one of those that when she goes Home, Jesus will meet her and say, "Hey, good job. Really well done."

All that is to say that Sybil is the mother of Noel Johnson, who is the lead singer of The White Oaks. And its a band that I'd never seen, and honestly, I don't go to that many clubs anymore. Not that I ever did, but I had really forgotten what a cool place WorkPlay is. Oh, she's also friends with THE Al Denson. I celebrate his entire catalogue. I'll be honest with you. I love his music. I do, I'm an Al Denson fan. For my money, I don't know if it gets any better than when he sings "When a Man Loves a Woman".

I was going to call up Little Sister Ashley to see if she wanted to grab some dinner, as The Lovely Steph Leann is in The Ay Tee Ell with her mom, sister and niece on a girls weekend. Turns out, Lil Sister Ashley was actually having dinner with The Rev'rn, at his new house... so I talked to Lil Sister Ashley, and the two of us made plans to go to the show later that night.

As the night wore on, part of me didn't really want to go. Maybe its the new house, maybe its because I'm slowly leaving "early 30s" and heading into "mid-30s", or whatever, but I really like being at home lately. Plus, The Last of the Mohicans was on (currently residing in the #11 spot on the Dave100), so if she called to tell me she was on her way, I might have said, "Uh... go without me." As it turns out, I was able to see Chingachgook take care of Magua, avenging Uncas' death, and the credits were rolling before she called.

We headed to WorkPlay, a little club & bar, but also a small theater that is becoming quite the popular stop for rising stars or well-established stars looking for an "intimate setting". Amy Grant played there about a year ago, and I heard that it was an amazing show, and Kathy Mattea played a few weeks ago, both shows I would have love to have seen.

The theater is kind of "in the round" with the stage set back a little bit, and a small area in front that can be used for a dance area, or in the case of The White Oaks show, just an area where people can be close to the band. The seats are in a U-shaped area, surrounding the stage on three sides, and there's even two stories. I would be surprised if they could get 150 people in there, though there's probably some re-configuring that goes one with bigger shows like Amy Grant. You can see a scan of the lobby by clicking here.

WorkPlay was co-founded by Alan Hunter, one of the original DJs, and also contains a recording studio, a film studio and a full service bar.

We get there, and each pay our $10 to get into the show... apparently we missed the first act, which I heard from several people was not very good. I don't even know the name of the band, but somebody pointed out a saw on the stage and said, "you see that saw? They played that saw. Seriously. It was bad."

Being a The White Oaks show, and the attachment of Sybil, there were lots of people there I knew, including:

  • The Good Doctor Earl. He was sitting at a table with a girl named... Latika? Lateeka? Either way, apparently her parents thought she was black upon birth, but for whatever reason, white girl don't have a white name. She was really nice, though.
  • Tommy McL. He was sitting with The Good Doctor Earl, but ended up at another table. Amy McL and Baby Sophie were absent, understandably. Little Sister Ashley ended up sitting with Dr. Earl and Laquisha.
  • Mikey and his wifey Ashley. They were at one of the booths, sitting with...
  • The Rev'rn Ty, and his friend Brooke. I think it was Brooke. I only know her as Amanda's roommate, not that I've ever met Amanda. I really don't know what I'm talking about here.
  • Drew, who sat down at the end of the booths, though I didn't get much of chance to speak to him. He looked in good spirits, though.
  • Heather Rowland, whom I haven't seen in a couple of years. I think she might have been with Drew, but don't quote me on that.
  • Sybil, of course. She was with her boo Dan, who I think I could count on two hands the number of times I've heard him speak.

And of course, Amy V, whom I just love and adore. You know how you have friends who you don't see for a while, and after a while, you think "Ya know, I guess we're just acquaintances, because I never see this person," only you see them just before, maybe days or even minutes before they make that transition from friend to acquaintance? That's Amy. I randomly see her at random places, but it always makes me happy when I do. She's awesome.

Also saw Abbey Gore, the wife of Matt, who also spent some time leading Monday/Tuesday/Thursday night Bible Study at Sybil's (it bounced around days from year to year). Once again, I hadn't seen her in a long, long time. Later I looked at Mikey and said, "Ya know, I don't think I ever noticed it... but Abbey's kinda hot..." and he said, "Yeah, I think your right." Don't tell anyone I said that, though.

Up walks this chick I'd never seen before, and she spends a few minutes talking to Mikey, The Rev'rn, Sybil, and the others at those two booths that were side by side. I had sat down at a table in front of Mikey's booth, and though I was alone at my small table, I was right next to where Dr. Earl, Laquinta and Lil Sister Ashley was sitting, so I wasn't lonely.

The waitress came by, and I ordered myself a Ginger Ale. She said, "Two dollars" and I said, "Pay up front, I guess?" She nodded, so I handed her a 10. A few minutes later, she came back with a 16 oz plastic cup of Ginger Ale. And no change. I figured that they were just keeping a running tab at my table, so I shrugged it off.

Sybil taps me on the shoulder, and when I turn, she asks, "Is it okay for Nancy to sit here with you?" and I replied, "I would love for Nancy to sit here with me!' She asked, "Have you met Nancy?" and I replied, "Not a clue who she is." The girl who had spent time talking to The Rev'rn and his posse turned to me and Sybil, who said, "Nancy, this is David Dollar... there is a seat here, if you'd like." So Nancy stuck her hand out, we exchanged pleasantries and she sat down.

Turns out, she has a boyfriend who is taking the CPA exam and is buried in books studying. I told her The Lovely Steph Leann was in Atlanta with the women of her family, and from there, we had great conversation the whole concert.

The White Oaks started and really... they sounded good. Really good. They have a hard sound to peg, as the first few songs made me think of The Wallflowers and The Goo Goo Dolls, but later they had a song that reminded me of The Soggy Bottom Boys, and still another song made me think of either Vedder or The Crash Test Dummies. I think Noel's voice sounded like Vedder, but the song sound was of the Dummies. Overall, though, it was a great show.

It was hard to concentrate on the music when Noel Johnson looks so much like Judd Nelson. I kept looking around for Ally Sheedy, eating a potato chip sandwich in the corner. Yes, most of you won't get that, but some of you will, I just know it.

Nancy and I both compared musical tastes, and she agreed with The Wallflowers/Jakob Dylan assessment, and we both laughed repeatedly at the sound guy. The sound booth was in the clear area, directly in front of us, so we could look down into it. The sound guy had a tv there, and at the beginning, the concert was on the screen. Turns out, though, the had DirecTV, and he flipped from the Lakers/Jazz game to Sex in the City to something on WE to finally setting on Bravo, showing "Training Day".

The amusing sound guy, and his multitude of channel options. Including one that actually had the concert on.

I wanted another Ginger Ale, and Nancy had piped up that that was a good idea, so I ordered two. The waitress came back with our drinks and said, "Three dollars," and I gave her a bewildered look. "You never brought my change back." She got wide-eyed and said, "Ohmigosh, I'm so sorry! I totally forgot! Like, I was wondering where in the hell this money came from! I'm so sorry! I'll be back with your change!" Nancy and I both laughed. I looked at her and said, "It's been a long time since I bought a girl a drink. You don't tell your man, I won't tell my chick," and she laughed and said, "Deal!"

Actually, I think the last time I really bought a girl a drink was in 1993, when I bought Deann Westin a Rum & Coke in the bar on the cruise ship. Another story, another day.

Down in the Standing Room Only clear area, I spotted Joel & Angela Blount, who would probably be a little creeped out at how excited I was to see them. See, Joel wrote this song called "Sunday Afternoon", its one of my favorite tunes on my iPod (at least 6 or 7 plays) and she looks like Paige Davis, who is 2nd to only Samantha Brown as Reality Show Host I'm Overly Obsessed With.

We all have this happen to us: There are some people you run into, and let's be honest, you don't really care how they are doing. That sounds mean, but they don't really care how you are either. I mean, they'll share sympathy over a recent tragedy, or be genuinely happy if something big has just happened to you, but for the most part, its like "I'm good, you're good, let's part ways and not see each other for another few years, and tomorrow you won't remember (or care) how I'm doing, just like I won't remember (or care) how you are."

Once, I saw a guy I knew in college while in Barnes & Noble. To avoid the conversation above, I literally hid on the opposite side of the store. He found me anyway, and we spent five minutes catching up, and all I could think of was, "This might the most we've ever talked, and there's a reason..."

Seeing Amy V and Joel & Angela Blount in one night? The polar opposite of that very thing I just talked about. Its more like "Wow, I just want to stand here in your presence and talk about whatever, because I don't see you nearly enough and you probably think I'm a dork but I really am excited you are here!" Which, yeah, is sorta creepy and uncomfortable, so I'll move on.

You know, I hope I wasn't the guy that Joel, Angela and Amy would avoid in Barnes & Noble just to keep from talking too... I might have a complex about this now.

Me and Amy V! Moments after this, Amy V filed a restraining order, and I spent the rest of the evening stalking Joel & Angela outside their kitchen window.

Overall, it was a great night of music and fun. Heck, if this were 1995, I would have asked for the phone number of the chick sitting with me at the table--and gotten it. As it is, 13 years later, I enjoyed telling Nancy about The Lovely Steph Leann, and how great she is. Maybe I'm just getting older in my happily married ways. Next time, I'm bringing her with me. I might even get her hammered just so I can take her home.

Click here for The White Oaks myspace site, also to be added to the links on the right. The song "Hey Julie" has been heard on Reg's Coffeehouse on 94.5

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Idol: Three Times a Charm

And finally, we've reached the last "normal" show before we go to the fun and frivolity of next week's Idol Final. You know, where they sing fifteen songs per, and the results show that we will all watch, with 119 minutes and 54 seconds of fluff and :06 seconds of the winner being announced.

Tonight, they each sing three songs, one picked by the judges, one picked by the Idol contestant, and one picked by the producer.


Is American.


The Black Julia Stiles. David "Reminds Me of Rob Thomas As In He Looks Like He Should Rock a Little More Than He Actually Does, Even Though He Does Rock" Cook. Young David Archuleta. One of them is on the brink of super stardom (re: Taylor Hicks, Jordin Sparks, Ruben Studdard)

The Judges Song Choices

David Archuleta
We see video of Young David going back to Missouri. KT is laughing at him. The Lovely Steph Leann is ready, blanket in hand. Paula has chosen "And So It Goes" by the immortal Billy Joel for Young David.

KT notices that Young David has bags under his eyes. He's only, like, 9, so isn't that too young to have bags? Though this isn't one of my favorite Billy Joel songs, and I do love me some Billy, I can admit that Young David is singing it well.

KT reads my mind... "Am I the only one bored to tears?"
The Lovely Steph Leann quietly replies, "...I like it..."

So, there's Young David's dad, who at first glance looks like Danny Bonaduce. Who knew the 'Duche had such a great lineage.

Randy says it was a dope choice by Paula, who calls it pure and happy and joyful and sunshiney and fluffy and shut up. Simon says it wasn't a surprise, a bit predictable, but good. I agree. Not outstanding, but just good.

Syesha Mercado
And we head to Tampa, Florida, to see what The Black Julia Stiles. Randy has picked "If I Ain't Got You" by Alicia Keys. Wow. That's along the lines of Celine and Whitney... and The Black Julia Stiles doesn't have the poofy hair.

Fine. I'll admit it. If The Black Julia Stiles puts out a CD along the lines of Toni Braxton, especially early Toni, I'm totally buying it. There. I said it. So sue me. And she looks freakin' amazing. The Black Julia Stiles, I mean, though Toni is pretty good lookin' herself. Where was I?

Randy said it was amazing. He does say, "This is why you are standing there at #3!" Of course, it would have been better for Randy to say, "That's why you are in the top 3!", instead of sounding like, "That's why you are only going to be third in this contest!" Paula blows sunshine. Simon liked it lots, too.

David Cook
Let's go to Kansas City, where David Rob Thomas Cook is on the video, and Simon has chosen "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" by Roberta Flack. Wow. This is totally out of left field. KT might just go to sleep.

Ryan makes a gay joke at Simon's expense.

This is one of those songs that, while I will admit its artistry, importance, elegance and beauty, I have to hear it--at least the original--while I'm wide awake. Otherwise, I'm gone. However, David Rob Thomas Cook puts on pretty good version of it, raspy voice livening up the song. Very, very good. KT just slipped into a coma.

Randy admits he's been a David Rob Thomas Cook fan since the beginning. Really? Wish he had said that before, so we'd know. The Lovely Steph Leann just drowned in the sarcasm. Paula blows sunshine. Simon thought it was one of his best performances.

The Contestants Song Choices

David Archuleta II
Young David takes on "With You" by Chris Brown, a more contemporary song that is fairly recent.

I'm dazzled by the fact he is singing a song using the word "boo"... twice! This might be an Idol first! I have always liked the word "boo", its funny. KT's boo is not here tonight, while The Lovely Steph Leann's boo is typing these words.

I don't really know the song all that well, and I'm not bothered by that, from the sound of Young David. Its very poppy and KT is making fun of it. The Lovely Steph Leann has a puzzled look on her face.

Randy applauds the song choice... but he didn't like the fact that Young David was singing about "my boo". Ha! Paula blows sunshine. Simon applauds the fact he didn't do a ballad, but says, "It was like a Chihuahua trying to be a tiger." That's really funny.

Syesha Mercado II
The Black Julia Stiles is taking a big step... "Fever" by Peggy Lee. And she's going to use a chair. To work her thang, to do her walk, be sexy and all that. Once again... she looks hot.

Remember what I said about The Black Julia Stiles and buying a CD? Even more so a possibility. KT admits she loves her at this point, and I gotta say, so do I. Dare I appoint The Black Julia Stiles the banner of "My Next American Idol", since its obvious My Next American Idol Brooke White is not going to be the next American Idol? We shall see.

Randy says she sang it amazingly well. Paula starts out with "you look lovely tonight" which means sunshine is not coming. And it didn't. Simon says that The Black Julia Stiles will possibly regret that song in the morning. For me? I thought it was great. Her Alicia Keys was better, but this was still good.

The Coke bubbles in the animation screen in the back have Hidden Mickeys in them.

David Cook II
He's taking on Switchfoot, a Christian rock band. Well, how about that? I'll be shocked if Simon knew anything about Switchfoot... for that matter, if Randy or Paula does either. David Rob Thomas Cook is singing "Dare You To Move", a Christian song. Well, its a mainstream Christian song, like "Hanging By A Moment" or "Flood", but still...

So... I'm not sure I like this. I like the original, but this sounds like he's just screaming into the microphone.

Randy knows Switchfoot... and he didn't think it was David Rob Thomas Cook's best. Paula blows sunshine. Simon thought it was predictable, but doesn't declare a 2nd round champ, like he declared DRTC the 1st round champ.

The Producers Song Choice

David Archuleta III
The Idol producers decided that Young David should sing the late Dan Fogelberg's "Longer". KT just slipped back into a coma, and she might need rehab to learn how to walk again. The Lovely Steph Leann loves this song.

Actually, I was kinda bored too. Again, solid delivery, but kinda boring. Randy loved it. Paula blows sunshine. Simon doesn't criticize Young David, because he thought the song was sung well, but the song choice was gooey and terrible.

We just had a Justin Guarini sighting.

Syesha Mercado III
Shakin' those good lookin' hips, The Black Julia Stiles is doing "Hit Me Up" which is... I have no clue, but this sounds like a Beyonce song. Nothing seems to be able to stop the inevitable David vs David finale, but The Black Julia Stiles is doing her best.

KT doesn't like it. KT is dumb.

Randy says "just aight for me". Paula admits the song is from "Happy Feet". Then looks for sunshine, and can come up with a little, only a little, to sprinkle lightly onto The Black Julia Stiles' feet. Simon didn't like the song choice.

The "My Next American Idol" mantra will remain with My Next American Idol Brooke White.

David Cook III
Aerosmith's "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" is getting the David Rob Thomas Cook treatment. This is really an overblown song from a so-crappy-its-fantastic-no-its-Craptastic movie "Armageddon", which is much better than the other meteor movie released around the same time, that being the so-crappy-it-gets-crappier-everytime-I-see-it movie "Deep Impact".

All things being equal, DRTC does the song justice. KT hated it. She's a hater.

Randy loved the song, but the performance was just "okay for me". Paula is crying. She's actually crying. What a goober. Simon declares the song, "One of the great songs of all time" (what??) and then declares David Rob Thomas Cook the night's winner.

My favorite of the night, really? The Black Julia Stiles singing "I Ain't Got You".

KT hated every song tonight. The Lovely Steph Leann liked some. So, no matter what The Black Julia Stiles was able to do, there's pretty much no way she's getting in to the American Idol finals.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

My Favorite Tunes, Part I

So, for about 16 years, my favorite songs have really remained unchanged.

Some songs that could be considered are "Maybe I'm Amazed" by Paul McCartney & Wings, "Tiny Dancer" by Elton John, "Running from an Angel" by Hootie & the Blowfish, "Ain't No Sunshine" by Bill Withers, "Roam" by the B-52s, "Dilemma" by Nelly (ft. Kelly Rowland), "Come Undone" by Duran Duran, "You're So Vain" by Carly Simon,

At #5 on my list is "Head Over Heels" by Tears for Fears, from the album "Songs from the Big Chair". The opening tune is melodic, and on the album version, there is an awesome instrumental that leads to a live version.

"Head over Heels" had been developed nearly two years prior as part of a segue with the song "Broken", which was previously a stand alone B-side to the 1983 "Pale Shelter" single. As the two songs share the same piano/synth motif, "Head over Heels" eventually came to be sandwiched in between two bookend parts of "Broken" in live performances. This placement carried over to the final track listing of the Big Chair LP, with a studio recording of "Broken" preceding the song and a live reprise following it. The song features guitarist Roland Orzabal on lead vocals.

For #4 on the list, "Not the Only One" by Bonnie Raitt, from the "Luck of the Draw" album. I like it because its bluesy, it jazzy, its sweet and its fun. "I was in a daze, movin' in the wrong direction... Feelin' that I'd always be the lonely one... Then I saw your face, on the edge of my horizon... Whisperin' that I wasn't the only one... The lonely one..." I've managed to get alot of Bonnie's stuff, and you know what... I really like it.

At #3, its the smooth sound of Brenda Russell, backed up by Joe Esposito, with "Piano in the Dark". It was actually on her album "Get Here", though the title song was actually covered by Oleta Adams for a huge hit.

You know how, sometimes, the lyrics can be really, really cheesy, but if the right voice sings it, the cheese goes away? Alicia Keys gets a pass on that with "Fallin", because the lyrics are kinda dumb. Same thing with "Get Here". No one would take it seriously... unless you have a voice like Oleta Adams singing it. But I digress.

As written on February 28th (the bottom of the column), music is difficult for me to rank. But I've made a decision. So, for the first time in 16 years, I can declare that I have a new favorite song.

At #2, from both the original soundtrack to the highly underrated movie "Boomerang" starring Eddie Murphy (the soundtrack is really good too, introducing Toni Braxton, and a great song from TLC) and "The Bliss Album...? (Vibrations of Love and Anger and the Ponderance of Life and Existance)" which, itself is also a very good R&B, hippity hoppity album...

Funny thing is, the album featured in this video is not the album that features the song. "I'd Die Without You" by P.M. Dawn

And my favorite song, from the album "Fumbling Towards Ecstasy" (a superb CD, possibly one of my favorites)... I can't put the video on here, so just go here and watch it.

Whats your favorite song?

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Idol Hall of Fame Rockin'

Its Fox live, as the final four compete. There's David Rob Thomas Cook. There's The Dreadlocked One. There's Young David. There's the Black Julia Stiles.


Is American.


(cue music and possibly over-cheesy graphics)

Can you believe its already May, and there's only two weeks left? I can remember being in the Casa de Pesos, watching the auditions, thinking that that Brooke White chick might do well. And here we are, the finals 14 days away.

This week's theme celebrates The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, songs chosen from that Hall of Fame's exhibit of The 500 Most Influential Songs of All Time. Two songs each.

Looking over this list, however, I'm wondering how credible it is to feature only one single Fleetwood Mac song ("Go Your Own Way"), only one single Billy Joel song (not even "Piano Man", its "Just the Way You Are") and still feature four songs by Muddy Waters. I mean, heck, The Left Banke ("Walk Away Renee") got in!

David Cook
His first song is Duran Duran's "Hungry Like the Wolf"... it sounds alot like the original, only David Rob Thomas Cook's raspy voice is on it. Da-do-do-do da-do-do da-do-do.

Once again, he sound like he's headlining his own concert, and he's just doing a cover of this cool song amidst his own stuff. Good job.

Randy says it was just okay, solid. Paula says, "Your 'Hungry Like the Wolf' has left me with a big appetite." Yikes.

Simon says it was good, but a little copycat.

Song selection is pretty big nowadays... there's a good article about the Idols and their song selection last week... the songs are first come first serve, and they use a tiebreaker in case the same song is chosen by two Idols, if one doesn't relent.

Turns out, My Next American Idol Brooke White won a tiebreaker for "I'm a Believer" over Young David, during Neil Diamond Week. David Rob Thomas Cook and The Black Julia Stiles also chose the same song, but he backed off and let her have it.

Syesha Mercado
Wow. The Black Julia Stiles is taking on Tina Turner's "Proud Mary"... this is one that you don't do unless you think you can do it... there is no "try" with this one. Do it or don't. Even without the poofy hair, The Black Julia Stiles looks... well, hot. Seriously. She's the hottest chick left in this competition.

"Rollin... rollin'... rollin' on the river..." and here comes the jam!

So... she's done Whitney, she's done Mariah... and now she pulls off Tina. Over the last several weeks, she has freakin' rocked it! You go, The Black Julia Stiles!

Randy loved it. Paula blows sunshine. Simon thought it was a bad, shrieky version of Tina Turner... no way... I thought it was awesome.

Hey, its Irish Carly!

Jason Castro
The Dreadlocked One is taking on Bob Marley. Surprise. "I Shot the Sheriff" is the tune of choice. Let's hope he didn't shoot the deputy.

I'll be honest with ya... this has never been a song I cared for very much, so for me, even though he's got a good voice, this performance is miserable. Really, really miserable. I'm bored.

Apparently it was miserable for Randy, so much so that he can't even finish sentences... "Dude, I mean... Like I don't... wow (uncomfortable laughter)..." Paula gives him the boy equivilant of "you look great" by saying "you really played to the audience". Simon says it was utterly atrocious, like a first round audition massacre. "This is a song you don't touch, the arrangement was terrible..."

Randy and Simon pile on, and Paula comes to The Dreadlocked One's defense... even Ryan Seacrest jumps in to shush the two guys. Wow.

David Archuleta
Inspirational song? Check.

The familiar beats kick in, and Young David starts with, "When the night... has come... and the land is dark..." It makes me think of the movie "Stand By Me", which is actually older than Young David.

Still not that impressed. Come on, in three months of this show, I have not heard one single person say "Oh, I'm buying a Archuleta CD when they come out!". Not a single person. Let's go to the judges, because they love him.

Randy says Young David is trying to win the whole thing! Hot! Paula blows sunshine. Simon says, "You could have whistled and it would have sounded better than the last song."

Round one, I seriously give to The Black Julia Stiles, followed closely by David Rob Thomas Cook, followed not quite as close by Young David, followed by My Next American Idol Brooke White, who's song tonight sounded world's better than last place The Dreadlocked One.

David Cook 2.0
Here's one I don't know all that well... The Who's "Baba O'Riley". This will be hard, because I don't really know how its supposed to sound.

"Teenage Wasteland" should be the name of the song... I'm confused. Yes, the song is called "Baba O'Riley" and you can get info on it here.

Randy loved it. Paula wants more. More David Rob Thomas Cook. More. Simon says, "Welcome back!", almost as if the first one wasn't good... darn it, I liked it. Of course, I had to scroll back up to see what he sang, because I already forgot ("Hungry Like the Wolf")

Ryan Seacrest says, "After the break, Syesha and (ominous voice) Jaaay-suun..."

Syesha Mercado 2: Syesha Mercado-ier
Sam Cooke's "A Change is Gonna Come" is the next song for The Black Julia Stiles, comparing the songs history (The Civil Rights Movement) to how she felt still being here after last week's results show, the results show in which my precious, sweet, G-rated Next American Idol Brooke White went home. I'm not sure The Black Julia Stiles appearance in the Idol Top 4 compares with the historical context of the Civil Rights Movement, but hey, I wasn't a history major, what do I know?

Good, strong voice, but I missed most of it typing up the previous paragraph. It was good, but I liked "Proud Mary" better.

Randy didn't love this as much as "Proud Mary". Paula blows sunshine. "Welcome to your dream, Syesha, this is it for you", to which The Black Julia stiles begins to cry. Which makes it harder for Simon to dump on her. Good thing Simon didn't dump on her, agreeing with Paula.

Maybe when I hear "La Bamba", it will take on a whole new meaning for me, being partly Hispanic or something.
As Simon and Randy banter, Ryan Seacrest yells, "We're running out of time! 'Hell's Kitchen' is going to start!"

Jason Castro: Castro with a Vengeance
Wow... The Dreadlocked One is doing Bob Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man". The Lovely Steph Leann emerges from her blanket and says, "Oh, I like this one... don't screw it up!"

So, let me just say as I was typing that sentence, something happened. He started out decent, not great, but then I heard "...mmm....duudp....lalala..." He forgot the lyrics. A whole line of lyrics. Wow.

This doesn't help that I think Bob Dylan is completely overrated. Legendary, yes. A pioneer, yes. A good voice? Not at all.

The Dreadlocked One is ready to leave. Like, maybe he's not blowing it on purpose, but he's not trying anymore.

Randy says, "Jason's not in the zone tonight..." Paula reaches down and finds some stray sunshine on the floor. It barely reaches The Dreadlocked One. Simon says, "Jason... I'd pack your bags."

The Lovely Steph Leann looks at me and repeats what I said a few minutes ago, apparently going unheard... "I'm going to be a conspiracy theorist and say Jason wants to go home. He's blowing it on purpose." (it seems that EW might have the same sentiment)

David Archuleta: Live Free or Archuleta

For his final song, Young David chooses Elvis Presley's "Love Me Tender". Young David is taking on a romantic love song. With his eyes open.

Wow. For maybe the first time in six weeks or more, I really like Young David. He's doing great on this song, not trying to re-do it, not trying to do more to it than necessary, he just sounds really good. Not a single inspirational note.

Randy loved it. Paula blows sunshine. Simon says, "You didn't beat the competition tonight, you crushed them." Ryan says, "Good job, crusher."

My favorite of the night? "Love Me Tender" from Young David, followed by "Proud Mary" from The Black Julia Stiles, followed by "Hungry Like the Wolf" from David Rob Thomas Cook, followed by "A Change is Gonna Come" by The Black Julia Stiles, followed by "Stand By Me" from Young David, followed by whatever that was David Rob Thomas Cook sang by The Who, followed way back in the back from the nightmare that is The Dreadlocked One.

My Cool Friends

I might actually have the coolest array of friends, like, ever. No, seriously... okay, let's get the famous ones out of the way--you know about Ambre Lake, but there's also Brooke Smith from the Bachelor, and Birmingham musician Michael Warren.

I have a friend who makes his own cheese and beer. I am friends with two different people on two different newscasts. I got a friend who has a ticket to the governor's mansion when he wants it. I have friends on the mission field, I have friends who have been up and down Route 66, I've got friends I met at 12 years old and I've watched them grow up and get married...

I've got really cool friends. But today, I discovered something that blew me away. Something I never expected. Today... the tipping point... I discovered I have a friend who was actually a woman wrestler.

I looked forever for this... I'm hoping this is you, Lori Fullington

My friends rocks.

Monday, May 05, 2008

working for a living

This was originally going to be a blog about Starbucks, but then I got carried away remembering all the places I had worked for...

When I was 15, I got a job washing dishes at The Wright Place, owned by Forrest and Charlotte Wright, in my hometown of Samson. When was 16, I upgraded to waiter, and did that for two more years in high school, then off and on for another three years. Its quite possible that Sandy Wright, the middle daughter of Forrest and Charlotte, was truly my first love--she was that chick who was ahead of you by 3 in grades and a billion miles in leagues.

My gigs at radio stations WKMX and WTBF were also lots of fun... I had the Friday evening shift with Rod Connor, helping out with the high school scoreboard, then at midnight, I took over on the airwaves. Now, they do voice tracking--as in, someone does all the "radio stuff" during the day, and computers play it at night, as if the DJ was really there, but in 1995, I was really there. It was great, but tiring... considering I'd go in at 8pm, I wouldn't leave until 9 the next morning... I wrecked a car this way. Fell asleep at the wheel, the day before Heather Howell and I were going to Atlanta to see Beauty and the Beast at the Fabulous Fox.

WTBF was a smaller station, but with the smaller station I had lots more freedom. I did the mid-morning show, from 9 to noon, and at noon, I would run the board during the Rush Limbaugh Show. I was a Bill Clinton fan during that time... and then discovered Rush.

Every Wednesday night I did "The Wednesday 90s!"--keep in mind this was around '98, so most of the 90s had gone by. I pulled in my two boxes of cds and cassette singles, playing all the forgotten favorites like "Better Than You" by Lisa Keith, "That's What Love Can Do" by Boy Krazy and "Solitude" by Edwin McCain.

Sunday nights were more fun, though, as I did "Sunday Night Power", a 3 hours Christian music show. I even managed to finagle on-air interviews with Audio Adrenaline, Plumb, Third Day, Cindy Morgan, Watermark, Point of Grace and a few more... tons of concerts, free CDs, and with free concerts and free CDs came dates that were inexpensive. Christian women are righteous babes, that's what I always say.

Considering I'm jumping all over the chronology here, I have to mention my freshman year's catering experience at Marriott Catering at Troy State University. I also waited tables there at Troy State for Marriott--along with half of the Indian nation. Funny story, one day I'm moving glasses off of a table, and another waiter, Naveem, was doing the same. The professor engaged him in conversation, finding out he was from Bangladesh. After Naveem left,the professor turned to me, looking at my then-darker and slimmer features, asking, "What country are you from?" I gave him a weird look, and a more southern slang than I intended, I said, "I'm from Alabama."

I did my time in fast food, mine being a Dairy Queen. Its truly a wonder I still can eat Blizzard from there, as I've made plenty of them. I also know that the health department does in fact allow a certain number of tiny gnats into the Blizzard mix, as its impossible to keep them away. They also never cleaned under the chicken pan, when they breaded chicken, and it was quite odiferous. As you pass down 231, coming into Troy, wave at the Dairy Queen. Thirteen years ago, I was there.

Movie theaters are a joke. I worked at two, once in college, once living in Birmingham. I worked at the Carmike 10 in Montgomery for a while... its unbelievable how lazy some high school students--most of the people that worked there--can be. I did get my entire fraternity in for a discount at "12 Monkeys", so thats something. At the time, I worked with Bobby Black, now a Grammy winning and Tony nominated artist, and Lisa Turk, one of my old school BFFs at Troy... I mean, how hard can it be to tear tickets? Not very.

Lisa ended up quitting because she was getting married that March. And they wouldn't tell her they would give her a few weeks off for the wedding. I just decided to stop going. Not sure why Bobby left.

The other movie gig I did was at the Summit here in Birmingham. That place is miserable, I tell you... boring and miserable. I remember working the theater the night the first Harry Potter movie came out. I had my arms outstretched, holding back mobs and mobs of kids and parents of those kids who wanted nothing more than to sit down and finally get their children settled. Of course, one of the good things about working at a theater is that you see lots of movies for free--I watched "From Dusk til Dawn" about 30 times, "Powder" another 30 times, "Life as a House" a few times and... you know, maybe it wasn't that great. I left the Summit 16 because, despite the fact I told the managers there I had a day job and could only work nights, they kept scheduling me to work 11am shifts. I just quit going.

Another job at Troy that I loved was The Pied Pipers, the children's theater troupe. Seriously, we all got dressed up in funny costumes, learned and acted out goofy children stories like "The Three Little Pigs" and "The Tortoise & the Hare" and others, and we would tour the southeast, in Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and Alabama. Imagine spending a week on the road with a bunch of actors, crammed in a van, staying at some of the seediest hotels ever. The All American Inn in Bonifay, Florida? Stay away. I do have some fond memories of The Hampton Inn on Mobile Bay, though... but that's a whole other story.

The stories then? What about the time I actually did throw up in my mouth because a fellow actor smelled so bad? Or the box of cereal that was filled with weevils? Or the very flaky Heli and her odd Lil' Pig? Or the time when Mitch passed out, and we had to cancel "The Tortoise & the Hare"? Perhaps one day I'll share... I'm sure Wendi Deckermiller could add a ton more.

I remember Suzy McGinn was always nice to me. I remember traveling with Michael Brown, and Mitch Kissam, and Whitley Porter (Rives), and and yes, Ambre from Rock of Love 2 with Bret Michaels was there.

Our director was Dr. David Dye, a generally good guy, but a very serious, perhaps offbeat director. We were paid something like $35 per day, and maybe $15 or $20 per day for food, I don't remember which, and our travel expenses and hotel/motel accommodations were covered. But from what I gathered, it was nothing compared to what Dr. Dye was making out of the deal. It reminds me of that scene in "The Shawshank Redemption", where Red is discussing the Warden Norton's "Inside Out" prison worker program... "And oh, how the money rolled in." Kinda felt like that too.

FYI, for anyone interested, I found this site which gives the fate of several Troy actors...

Did some time at The Disney Store too. Like Dairy Queen, I was the first person hired after the initial staff's opening. This is back in the day when The Disney Store was actually owned by Disney (now most of them are owned by Children's Place), and this location was in the Montgomery Mall--and this is back in the day when you could go to Mo'Mall and not get shot. At least, not repeatedly.

That location is gone now, shut down when Disney sold the business and closed a bunch of stores. Actually kinda saddens me, and it has crossed my mind more than once to apply at The Disney Store here at the Galleria.

My first job in Birmingham was a story I'm not proud of. So, therefore, I'm not going to mention it, because you know what, its embarrassing.

However, that bad experience led me to a temp agency, which led me first to a $8 an hour job at Regions, working in the back, scanning checks. Like, I would take a pile of checks, feed them in the machine, and stand back. In 2 weeks, I scanned over 3 million checks (it kept a tally on screen). When the machine broke down, I just sat back and waited for them to fix it.

Its important to note that at that temp agency, a guy named George Marling asked me if I had found a church. I said no. He handed me a green pen with a church named Valleydale on it. He said I should try it. So I did. And 9 years later, I'm still there. Don't ever let anyone tell you those green, now brown, pens are stupid and useless.

It then led to me AmSouth Bank--where Lori Smith Beirne would come to work years later--doing check research. Holy crapping smack was that job boring. I would actually spend 8 hours on five checks, pouring over books and books of data, trying to fill in gaps and figure out where they belong.

And then, that led me to the fateful decision of working at Parisian Corporate/Saks on Lakeshore, first for $6.15 per hour. They had just started the "Home Division", so really, I was doing data entry there. However, out of the 20-something temps they brought in, they only hired like, four, and I was one.

Parisian was truly a great experience... I spent time in the Home Area, then in Advertising, and finally in the Men's Buying Area, and by the end of it, I knew how to run assembly in the warehouse, how to operate the buying systems, how to track the shipments headed to Michigan and Iowa, how to shake down a candle company who refused to pay (I'm not kidding--Iris of Excelsior rued the day they crossed me and Janna Morrison, my buyer) and everything else you could think of. Buyers who were coming into the company making 70 and 80 and more per year were coming to my desk to learn how to do basic data entry.

Janna told me once, "Dave, there are 500 divas in the world. 400 of them work here." She was not kidding. Some of the most beautiful women ever worked in that area, but what you thought was honey was turned to sour salsa when you got to know some of them. Especially in cosmetics and shoes. Those women are vicious.

When I got the job at Cox Radio, the department manager said, "Okay, David, what can we pay you to stay?" I said, "$12 an hour". He said, "You already make $10.75. That's really high for your position... actually, you aren't even a sales assistant, you'd be considering an area specialist." He tried for $12, but didn't get it.

At the time, Cox Radio consisted of Oldies 106.9, Rock 97.3, and 104.7 WZZK... I was hired to work for Oldies and WZZK as a sales assistant, and at first, it was really rough. My boss was a lady named Vickie, and... well, she was mean. She wouldn't let me do my job without hovering. I was very, very glad when she left, because then I took over.

Rob & Shannon, freshly plucked from Magic 96.5, was taking over the morning show, and I worked with them in the morning... the first day was September 10th. Of 2001. And you know what happened the next day.

I was with Cox Radio for almost 4 years and in that time, I outlasted 75% of the staff. The entire Rock 97.3 staff was let go, as it became Oldies 97.3, and 106.9 became The Point--The Best of the 80s and More. My job really consisted of helping the sales team with their presentations, slide shows and stuff like that, but it evolved into me being pretty much everyone's right hand guy. I was the guy you turned to when you needed something--to bring up Shawshank again, I was the Red of Cox Radio for a few years.

And oh, how the rewards rolled in... I mean, The Lovely Steph Leann and I (dating at the time--which is funny, because at Parisian, the men's buyer and his assistant I worked for begun to hear the name "Stephanie" as I was leaving the company... they knew little about her, only that I was sort of enamored with her... where was I? Oh yeah...) pay for the Comedy Club Stardome or Birmingham Broadway tickets for over three years. It was awesome. Gift cards from Cracker Barrel and Logan's Roadhouse and IHOP and everywhere else, and free hams from Honeybaked Ham and free CDs and more. Sometimes I didn't have anything to do, so I sat in my office and read comic books. Seriously.

I had the overhead lights pulled out in my corner of the office, and a table lamp in there. I had a cubby full of snacks, and an empty area on the far right of my desk that was empty only because it was where Natalie, or Bob, or Adam or Marcie or whoever would come and sit when they wanted to talk through a presentation, or just talk. I knew so much crap about so many people. It really was one of my favorite jobs ever.

About 2003, I took a job at Starbucks. February '03, to be exact, just part time. I had a day job, so I worked 4 nights per week--I had to start saving money to buy my woman a ring, ya know. And pay some bills.

It was something big that took me away from Cox Radio... perhaps it was God, knowing that if I had stayed there, I might have stayed there forever, and never gone to Starbucks. I mean, 106.9 is now The Eagle, an awesome station, and WZZK has Rick & Bubba, so imagine what kind of fun that job would be now. Of course, going on that rationale, what if I had stayed with Regions when they offered me something permanent?

Anyway, I got offered a job at NBC 13. This was a dream opportunity... I mean, 8 years out of college, and I was going to finally get to use my degree for something purposeful! Yes, it was another sales admin job, but a year there, and I'll be able to work my way over to production, right? I mean, I directed, produced, wrote and sometimes anchored the news in Troy (working with Steve Hauck, thank you), so that experience would pay off, right?

NBC 13 was the absolute worst job I've ever had. There was no room for advancement, there was no room to move, some of the sales people I worked for were, for lack of a better word, complete morons who would blame me when they screwed up (I'm really only thinking of one in particular, though a few more weren't much better... on the flip side, though, I loved me some Kelley G...)

I made at least three serious attempts to make the jump to production, even being willing to work for free to learn what I could. Shot down. Told to stay put. Then, when I was leaving the job, one of the managers said he didn't think I had ambition.

One of the good guys, Gary, they let go. For whatever reason. I received a letter from him at work a few weeks later, simply saying, "Hey, I hate that I didn't get to say goodbye but I was forced out. Thanks for working so hard, and you let me know if I can help you any. David, you're one of the good guys there. Don't let them get to you -- Gary A."

Here's the kind of place it was... Salesgimp #1 asks me to organize files. So I did. Salesgimp #1 later pulls out a file, and then puts it back in the wrong place. Comes to me asking me where it is. I say, "I filed it, like you asked", to which the reply came, "I can't find it". So, I spend the next hour and a half of my time searching various file cabinets around the office for this missing file. Finally, I go back to his office, where Salegimp #1 is gone for a meeting. I decide to take a glance in the desk file cabinet... surely looked there, right? The file was misfiled, about four files away. As in, its supposed to be here, count four file folders with your fingers, and there it was. Clearly marked. I told my boss about it. I got in trouble for it, for calling Salesgimp #1 out.

I didn't leave on the greatest of circumstances with NBC, though I guess thats only with the management. Or one or two in particular, anyway. In one of those "we must decide the best direction" conversations, I volunteered, "I am turning in my two weeks. I'm done. I'll be honest with you guys... I hate this job, its miserable, and you guys make for a terrible work environment." I mean, I'm leaving the job, so what the hey?

"Like, the other two people in my position hate their jobs, your salespeople can't do anything for themselves, Salesgimp #1 (I used his real name in this instance) blamed me for that file missing when he screwed it up, and I still got the heat for it... I feel like I spend the whole day with a napkin in my hand, just awaiting the chance to wipe their mouths."

If you've never had a chance to unload on your boss, especially when it doesn't matter because you are leaving, the feeling is unbelievably refreshing. Some of the sales staff took me to lunch later--Kelley, Barbara, Clif, Minea--and they told me I was getting screwed out of a job. "Its a club," Clif said. "If you aren't in that club, in that clique, you don't make it here. I'm sorry, man. You were one of the good guys."

On the positive side? I became friends with Brooke Smith (from the Bachelor), Stephanie Walker and the wonderfully wonderful Wendy Garner.

In the weeks that followed my departure, one of the sales managers up and left, another was fired, a few more quit, and I was enjoying my full time gig at Starbucks. It was supposed to be temporary, making $8 and some change an hour, until I found something better. My wonderful Lovely Steph Leann said, "Don't worry about it. Take your time, you find what you want to do, we'll make it work. It will be tight, but we'll make it work."

And I discovered that... I liked Starbucks. Not just for part time work, but I really, really liked the company. It was a great company... and so, I finally made the leap, did the interviews and went full time career with The World's Best Coffee Company.

Its one of those stories where I look back and realize what I learned everywhere else... people skills at The Wright Place, cleanliness at Dairy Queen, cultivating creativity at WKMX and WTBF, how to make a napkin into a swan, a peacock and a crown at Marriott Catering, theatrics and drama in Pied Pipers, interpersonal savvy at Cox Radio, adversity at NBC 13...

So, here I am, in the working field now almost 17 years. I'm a manager of a Starbucks Coffee and Tea. Makes me wonder, if this is what all the other jobs was leading me to, or if this is just another learning journey that God has for me, en route to something even bigger.

For now, though, I will continue to do my job. And love my job. Because I do.