Saturday, February 27, 2010

God Blessed My Broken Road

The Lovely Steph Leann and I were sitting at dinner tonight, what we declared our "Anniversary Dinner", and it dawned on me.  I've been married to her for over half the time I've known her... we met in 2000 briefly, then became friends in 2001, dating in 2003, married in 2004... I've known her just under ten years, and tomorrow, I'll have been married to her for six.

For those who want the full story of d$ and The Lovely Steph Leann, you can click here to go back to "A Love Story in Three Acts" from June/July of 2006.  If the "click here to go to the next part" links don't work, you can just go into archives on the right sidebar, open up July 2006 and read from there.

Now that is pretty long... I'm told its a good read, but its a lot of reading, so if you want the shorter version, you can click here, but I must warn you that its not as accurate--The Lovely Steph Leann says the short version changes a few key facts here and there.

Anyway, anyone who reads this blog on a regular basis knows I talk about alot of different things, including those I consider the eyecandy of the world, be it The Goddess or Amy Adams, whom I'm in love with, but anyone paying attention knows how much I adore and love my wife.   I dote on her every chance I get, and though I'm sure I annoy the fool out of her--sometimes on purpose--she knows how I feel about her... and yet, sometimes, I just want to tell her again.

So, Sunday at about 2:30pm, we'll have been married for six years.  Six of the longest best years of my life, six of the longest most fantastic years of hers.  There's always one song that comes to mind when I think of our relationship, and God's plan for me, her and us as it was unfolding for us.  "Bless the Broken Road" is kind of the epitome of what I'd have to say about my life before The Lovely Steph Leann... so, this is for you... Happy Anniversary baby.  I love you. 

I set out on a narrow way many years ago
Hoping I would find true love along the broken road
But I got lost a time or two
Wiped my brow and kept pushing through
I couldn't see how every sign pointed straight to you

Every long lost dream led me to where you are
Others who broke my heart they were like Northern stars
Pointing me on my way into your loving arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you

I think about the years I spent just passing through
I'd like to have the time I lost and give it back to you
But you just smile and take my hand
You've been there you understand
It's all part of a grander plan that is coming true

Every long lost dream led me to where you are
Others who broke my heart they were like Northern stars
Pointing me on my way into your loving arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you

Now I'm just rolling home
Into my lover's arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you

That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you.

She Done Threwed Up in Two Places

Watching The Happiest Place in the Mall descend into a chaotic version of a bargain basement Disney outlet has been maddening.   Its a store full of Cast Members who care about every single thing in our store, from how the shirts are folded (Bo Peep likes to take an excruciatingly long time to fold every shirt exactly, a trait that is a blessing and a curse) to turning the dome tumblers out so that each character is lined up, facing out, to making sure that everything that hangs is sized, smallest to largest, with a size 7 in front. 

Now, its folding shirts as quick as possible... its filling bins with items that we've long since sold out of, sent to our store as clearance, and emptying those bins on a shelf as quickly as possible.  Every morning, we throw the Magical Chum into the store, every morning the Bargain hunting sharks circle and kill. 

The Lovely Steph Leann asked me the other day about work... a simple, "How was the day?"  I sighed.  I explained the day, now a typical day at The Happiest Place in the Mall, by this simple monologue...

"We close April 24th... it's a leasing issue with the mall... no, there are no plans to relocate... April 24th... yes, we are upset too... no, not everything in the store is on sale, sir... yes, ma'am, its April 24th... no, the animation characters around the top are not for sale... no, there won't be another store in Birmingham... April 24th... no, its not a relocation... its a leasing issue with the mall... not everything is on sale... April 24th... its a leasing issue with the mall... April 24th... no, the characters around the top aren't for sale...  no, we are not relocation... April 24th... we are unhappy about it too... no, its not a relocation... April 24th... its a leasing issue with the mall... no, not everything is on sale... April 24th... April 24th... its a leasing issue with the mall... no, the animation characters around the top are not on sale... April 24th... no, its not a relocation... its a leasing issue with the mall... not everything is on sale... April 24th... April 24th... no relocation, its leasing, April 24th..."

If I were to walk into a store that was closing, I would ask those questions, I'm sure... "When are you closing, exactly?" and "Is there another store opening up anywhere?" and "What's going on?  Why are you closing?" and though I wouldn't assume that everything is on sale, especially items that aren't under a sale banner or sign when its very, very clear that things that are on sale are indicated by large red signs that say, for lack of a better word, "SALE" on them, I would possibly ask what some of the sales were.  When I hear these answers, it doesn't occur to me that while I'm only hearing them once, the person answering my questions are probably saying the same things 40 times per day.  And thus, I am doing that very thing.

Fauna put it eloquently tonight... "It's like we're watching a terminally ill family member just waste away.  We know the end is coming, but we have to watch it happen slowly." 

I don't think it would be so bad, though, if people weren't... well, either a) thoughtless and rude... b) stupid... c) oblivious to anything that doesn't involve their immediate personal space or d) some combination of a through c, including but not limited to all choices together. 

Guest, putting down a Princess Tiana tumbler on the counter.
Flora: Just so you know, ma'am, that one is $6.50, or 2 for $10.
Guest:  Why ain't it $1.99 like the rest of them?
Flora: Well, ma'am, just the ones on the front table are on sale.  The ones on the back fixture are regular price. 
(never mind that because of this very issue, I had very clearly set the "$1.99" sign on the front table, then with purpose and intent, set another very visible sign that said "$6.50 OR 2 for $10" squarely in front of the regular price tumblers)
Guest: Well, that's just stupid.  All your stuff should be on sale.  I mean, y'all in are in bankruptcy!

Jason Turnbow, and his spawn Bailey, came in to say hello, smelling of the Jim'N Nick's BBQ they had just consumed.  Not too long after that, the splendid Emmy Turnbow walked through to say hello.  A hug and a smile from a beautiful friend is sometimes all that's needed to put a little sunshine on the night.  And it was needed. 

Tonight, I picked up no less than four half full to mostly full beverages off of shelves.  Cups with "Manchu Wok" on them, or "Great Wraps", or a unidentifiable cup, with lid and straw, just left on a shelf, or on a rack.  And during the course of my day, not only did I clean up milkshake, a large vanilla one from McDonald's that mom dropped, I also cleaned up a large glass of water, dumped accidentally, squarely in front of the box office counter...

...but the coup de grace...

Sitting in the backstage office, working on a numbers sheet, the phone rings from up front.  Its Charlotta.  "Hey, d$, we got a problem up here."   Yeah, what's that?  "Bring some paper towels.  We got throw up."


I go into our restroom and grab a new roll of paper towels, and head to the stage.  And sure enough, a young princess has decided that dinner was so good, she wanted to experience it twice... on the carpet, of course.  And it was a good sized splatter too, with far reaching tentacles that stretched out at least a foot from its center core, which itself had a diameter of at least 8 inches of chicken particles and something that resembled cheese.  Or oats. Or broccoli.  Or Kellogg's Honey Smacks.  Not sure.

A little girl, possibly 3, stood idly by, somewhat ashamed.  To her credit, mom asked me for the paper towels to clean up what she could, and I allowed her that pleasure.  I brought her the garbage can, and went to look for our chemical cleanser, Virex, to spray over it.   As I sprayed it down, and leaned over to scrub and gather what I could, I looked over at the little girl, who had brown stains all over her sleeve.  "Its okay, sweetie, you didn't mean to.  It happens sometimes."  Mom said she was sorry, and the little girl remained silent.  "You feeling okay now?" I asked.  She said she was.  "You know, sometimes when I am sick and throw up, I suddenly feel better.  That's so weird to throw up and then feel okay, isn't it?"  She agreed that yes, it was weird. 

I told her to stand back while I sprayed the Virex, and this is when dad entered the picture  And my first thought?  Cousin Eddie.  No joke. 

Jeans, a t-shirt that was perhaps a bit too tight, a leather coat, and a hick accent... I'm on my hands and knees, spraying this harsh chemical, wadding up mass amounts of paper towels, rubbing out and scrubbing up bits of what could be brains for all I know, and here's what Cousin Eddie says...

"So, where y'all moving too?"
"Nowhere.  Its just a closing."
"What?  That's a shame, man.  So there ain't gonna be no Disney in Birmingham, huh?"
"No sir."
"Where's the closest ones gonna be now?"
"There are several stores in Atlanta, and if you are in the area, you can try the Mobile store."
"Atlanta?  Man, that's a long ways off.  So, what y'all gonna do now?"
Still scrubbing.  With a smile on my face, mind you, because for at least the next 60 days, that's my job.
"Well, we'll all move on and find other jobs, I'm guessing."
"When's y'all's last day gonna be?"
"April 24th... well, unless we run out of stuff to sell."
"So, it is just the 'conomy and all?  I mean, like, y'all shutting down cause things are so bad and all?"
"No sir, its a leasing issue with the mall."
"What?  Really?  So, its not business, its... " Cousin Eddie gets cut off by the vomitous daughter and what I'm assuming is a son.  "Y'all stay back, he's cleaning up now, okay?  Y'all get back.  [turns back to me]  So, it's a mall issue?  Man, that's just terrible.  Real terrible."

I see him stick his leg out, and with the end of his foot, point to another smaller, yet still viably potent, area of splatter. Cousin Eddie says, "Don't forget this spot here.  She done threwed up in two places."

And, at this point, it was around 9pm, so it was time to pull the gate.  Mom had already gone to buy daughter another shirt because the one she had now reeked of Chick-fila and stomach acid.   A busy, busy day, and to show for it, we had three tables full of toe'up from the flo'up t-shirts, a ring where vanilla milkshake stood, and a large dark spot, with a small dark spot nearby, where the vomit stood. 

Still, I love my job.  I don't have to keep telling myself that to believe it, I just know it to be true... but, and this is in all honesty... I am getting to the point where I can see the end.  And its a sigh of relief.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The 100 Coolest Things of 2009... 60 to 51

Lest you think I was giving up... we continue with our countdown of what I personally consider to be the 100 Coolest Things of the Year of Our Lord 2009... you might remember reading some of the stuff before, as I did copy some of the previously written thoughts and recaps from posts last year.  Hope you don't mind...

60... Thanksgiving in Ellijay
Vacation is always nice, especially if there's a Campbell Family involved. Explained further on November 29th, 2009, this year The Lovely Steph Leann and I joined Big Daddy Ron (the father in law) and Mama Ruthless (the mom-in-law), Tyler Campbell, and The Lovely Steph Leann's sister & family. We joined up with some family friends, including The Lovely Steph Leann's good friend Jason and his wife, The White Jada, and headed to the mountains of Georgia.

One of the many highlights included a stop over at Babyland General Hospital, home of the Cabbage Patch Kids... how can this be a highlight, you ask? Well, it made for great blog fodder, if nothing else. We also got to spend some time in downtown Dahlonega, walking the shops and antique stores... those are some of the most fun times I think The Lovely Steph Leann and I have together.

And of course, what would a Thanksgiving buffet be without lots and lots of food? And where we ate, there was lots of food... and dessert... here's how I described it on November 30th...

And of course, there is dessert. There is always dessert. After two plates of lunch (though no more crab legs--they were delicious, but crab legs are just too much work), I headed towards the superb dessert spread, gathering up a banana pudding parfait, a piece of pumpkin pie (covered in homemade whipped cream), a piece of pecan pie (covered in homemade whipped cream), a pecan pie brownie (covered in homemade whipped cream), a piece of German chocolate cake... and I think a cookie. And I ate. And I ate some more. And it was awesome. And just when my stomach knocked on my insides and said, "Hey, yo... uh... we're getting kinda packed down here, so you... uh... you may want to ease up, or even stop..." To which I said, "Stomach. Shut up. Its vacation. Its Thanksgiving. You'll speak when you're spoken too. For now, take what I give you." And with that, I took another bite of the chocolate parfait I had just retrieved.

Now THAT is a vacation.

59... "The Proposal"
(From my own Clouds in My Coffee review, where you'll also get my own list of favorite Sandy Bullock movies...)... Right from the get-go, you know exactly how this movie is going to end, but really, it’s a lot of fun to find your way to the moment when Margaret (Sandra) and Andrew (Ryan Reynolds) finally get together.

Margaret Tate is a mean, mean boss, especially taking for granted her hard working, long time, loyal assistant, Andrew Paxton. The predicament is when she, being Canadian and ignoring her call to renew her visa, is threatened with deportation. Her solution? Marry that hard working, long time, taken for granted assistant, and of course, against his will. (Let’s forget that this movie was called “Green Card” when it was released in 1990 and starred Gerard Depardieu and Andie McDowell… because “The Proposal” is a far better film, it gets a pass)

So they travel to Alaska together, to his hometown to meet his family, and… well, hilarity ensues. The supporting characters add much to the fun, including Ramone, who makes a half-dozen appearances, all hilarious, throughout the film. Betty White is the grandma, and has her own issues which are quite funny, Mr. Incredible Coach and Mary Steenburgen are the parents, doing an ample job and worth mentioning is Malin Akerman, who plays Andrew’s former flame Gertrude (really? Gertrude? They couldn't come up with a better name for that?) I only mention Gertrude because while really good looking here, she wasn’t anywhere near this cute as Silk Spectre II in “Watchmen”.

There is a notable scene, heralded in the media and with critics, where both main characters are naked, accidentally running into each other, he covered in sweat after hard work, she wet after just getting out of the shower. All naughty bits are covered and unseen, though, and the scene is very funny. -- June 2009

58... "Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince"
I struggled with this film for weeks. In one sense, it was awesome. All the Harry Potter films are awesome, with "Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix" not only being my favorite book, but my favorite adaptation... but I struggled as to whether to rank this one high or low on the list of the six films.

There's so much about it to like... Emma Watson has grown into quite the eyecandy, it was great to see Quidditch back onscreen, Jim Broadbent made a great Slughorn and the visuals of the movie were stunning--like usual. But... there was so much to not like. Yeah, yeah, its a movie, its not going to be the same as the book, I get it, that's not the point... I think the biggest miss, more than anything else, was the inexcusable way that the Harry/Ginny hook up was handled.

I think I could have handled the screwed up Dumbledore death scene, I could have dealt with the lack of screen time that the fantastic Dave Legano received as Fenrir Greybeck, I could have forgiven the inclusion of a silly Burrow scene with an attack from the Death Eaters, I could have pushed through the fact one of the most glorious battles in the entire series, the (first) Battle of Hogwarts, was reduced to only a few main characters, I could have overlooked the way Snape was handled as the Half-Blood Prince, but...


...the way the Harry/Ginny get-togethery was done? Inexcusable. Unforgivable. Dare I say, blasphemous? It would be like George Lucas coming out and saying that the Force, the mysterious, mesmerizing Force that wields so much awesomeness in "Star Wars" is nothing but a bunch of cell-things in the bloodstream of a potential Jedi... waaaaaiitt...

Anyway, this is further spelled out in my own letter to the movie's screenwriter, Steve Kloves. You know, I went back and re-read what I had written, and it reminded me that, while I liked the movie, it made me angry.

You know what? Forget this.

58... KT's Baby and Mindy D'A
KT and J Rob had a baby.  Baby Kaylee.  It was worth a mention, cause really, that baby is preciously cute.  I mean, solid cutetivity going on with that baby.  And Mindy D'A?  She reads Clouds and comments often. She's a friend from college. She lives in Seattle. What can I say, she's pretty cool.  I don't mention either enough.  So there.

57... Lunch at The Swamp
As Lenning, Tyler the Sexy Beast, Trey Cartledge and the 70th Coolest Thing of 2009, Jon Thompson, and myself were returning from a guy's weekend at The Most Magical Place on Earth in October, we were debating on where to eat.

Trey had suggested a trip to Gainesville, which was just off the interstate as we drove up I-75. We didn't actually know where we were going, but we figured once we found the statdium, we'd find a place to eat. We found The Swamp, in all its two national championship and a Heisman in three years glory (I know, I know, y'all got thirteen, yeee-haw!), and started looking around for a place to eat. Driving, I wheeled into a parking lot, spying some co-eds walking nearby.

I casually rolled down the back window where Tyler sat, and honked the horn. They looked over. With a "...what the... dude! why did you do that!" look on his face for a second, he was forced to speak to the girls. "Uh... so, uh... where can we find a good place to eat... uh... you know, around here and... and all...?" he stammered.

I'd love to tell you that the girls saw all the single guys in the car--Tyler, Lenning, Jonny T and Trey--and immediately gave over their phone numbers, but this didn't happen. They pointed us to to a restaurant called The Swamp and that was that.

We drove around the block, parked and walked inside. The place was kinda cool, looking like an older house that had been renovated into a restaurant... you can always tell that when the bathroom door has a little hook on it to lock, like an old fashioned screen door. I mean, the hook part, not the bathroom door being like a screen door, cause that would be weird.

Anyway, lunch was great--I got a burger of some sort. You'd think it would be hard to screw up a burger, but its been done before. Everyone enjoyed their food, Jonny T enjoyed the waitress, Trey enjoyed the atmosphere, Lenning enjoyed the appitizers (don't remember what they were, but I remember liking them too), and Tyler enjoyed the fact he was sitting a football field away from the world famous The Swamp Stadium, being the Go Gators fan he is.

56.... Baha Burger
Speaking of great burgers... ahhh... Baha.

Come hungry, leave full. You can choose one of their "titled" burgers, or you can do what I do, and spend the $7.50 and make your own. Pick the meat... a beef, pork, chicken, turkey, lamb, salmon (my choice), or veggie burger, then pick your bread (I go Kaiser Roll), then pick your sides, including skinny fries, sweet potato fries, onion rings, a salad, coleslaw, or melon... cause I don't dig on melons, onion rings, sweet potato fries or salad, the skinny fries are my choice. You can also add on garnishes like peach chutney and chipotle, and I like the mushrooms.

The whole place has a "surfy" theme to it, though its really nothing more than a few surfboards and some beachy-named menu selections, but it still makes the aura friendly and comfortable. On pleasant fall and/or spring days, when the temperature is just rightly so, sitting outside and enjoying a Lamb Burger on a Kaiser Roll, coated in mayo, mustard, ketchup, mushrooms with sharp cheddar (and if I'm feelin' froggy, some Swiss too), with a helping of skinny fries, washing it down with a 22 ounce fountain Coke soaked in great, chippy ice, having great conversation with MZ or Mikey or whoever I'm meeting for lunch... number one, baby, number one. Ah, Baha.

Just a note... after I wrote this, The Lovely Steph Leann and I went to Baha Burger--me for the millionth time, her for the first time.  She ordered the Baha Blend, which is like a chuck roast burger, and the sweet potato fries, and while I normally get the Lamb, I decided to try the Baha Blend.  We split a piece of Key Lime Pie.  She loved it.  Its always great when you convert someone to a place you like to eat at.

55... "State of Play"
Absolutely excellent. The all star cast was just part of it--Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams, Helen Mirren--when many times "all star casts" just don't work, especially in political thrillers (See "Lions for Lambs". Or better yet, don't).

Just kicks off immediately with a couple of deaths that seem unrelated, which of course, you know have to be related somehow... but what drives this movie is Crowe, who is great as a reporter who just wants to dig for the truth, no matter where it takes him, including taking him to his friend, Congressman Collins, played by a surprisingly good Affleck. Rachel McAdams is Della Frye, a blogger for Crowe's newpaper and who resists learning from Crowe--but ends up assisting him all the same. And thankfully, there wasn't a "Peacemaker" ending, that being a pretty good movie ruining by a sudden romantic gesture between its two leads when nothing during the movie was leading to that.

The twists kept coming, the dialogue was sharp, the humor was in-line and the plot, though thick, was very, very good. I always look at The Lovely Steph Leann as the credits begin to roll and ask, "How did you like it?" This time, I looked at her, and said, "I really liked that. How about you?" Rated PG-13 for language and violence. (from a movie review post in April)

54... "Fearless" by Taylor Swift
From the opening title track, through the end, Taylor Swift's sophomore album is full of nothing but awesomocity. What can I say, I like Taylor Swift, and have since her first song, "Tim McGraw", off of her first album.

My favorite of the tracks, "You Belong With Me" (to be featured later in this very list), is full of energy and pep and charm, while there's a bit of maturity, if not a little sappiness, in "Fifteen" and even "White Horse".

53... "Julie & Julia"
Oh, man I loved this movie. It helped quite a bit that it has Amy Adams, whom I'm in love with, but Meryl Streep is also fantastic... as always. It tells two stories, one being Julia Childs' beginnings in France as a cook and chef, while paralleling the story of Julie Powell, who is looking for something more in her life, and decides to take on the task of cooking all 524 of Julia Childs' recipes in "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" in a single year... and she blogs about it. And both stories are true, with Julia Childs being... well, Julia Childs, and Julie Powell actually having a real blog telling this adventure.

The movie is great, it moves fast (despite its 2:04 running time) and is fun. The Lovely Steph Leann and I laughed throughout, there were a couple of "awww..." moments when I think The Lovely Steph Leann found the theater to be a little dusty, and I think I can now watch Amy Adams in just about anything. And call me old fashioned, and I guess this was only portrayed in the movie because that's how it was in real life... but I like the fact that Julie and Eric, her significant other, are married. Not just dating and living together, but married. Somehow that means something. Chris Messina is awesome as Eric, who goes through just as much as Julie does, trying to cope with his wife under this massive undertaking.

The main Julie Powell story is based on a book called "Julie & Julia", which I have on audio and look forward to listening to. She also has her own blogsite she still keeps up, which does have a colorful use of the English language, so beware. (from August, 2009)

Since writing that review last summer, Meryl Streep was nominated for an Oscar for this film, something like her 48th nomination lifetime, and months later, I still haven't read the book--but its on my list. I promise. Amy Adams, whom I'm in love with, has been in "Leap Year", a film saved by the prescence of Adams and the Irish countryside, and The Tuch has been nominated for an Academy Award for "The Lovely Bones", an adaptation of a book I was halfway through before I got distracted with other stuff. I'm sure I'll finish it at some point.

52... Lenning on American Idol
From October 15th, 2009, recounting the Disney World trip with me and Tyler & his roommates...

We were working our way to The Sci Fi Cafe for lunch when we passed by The American Idol Experience. One of us piped up to Lenning that he should try out for it. He said no, and another of us said he should, and still he said no, and finally we all pushed him towards the entrance. Of course the Cast Member at the front was trying to convince Lenning as well.

I said, "Okay, okay... if you will try out, I'll try out." Lenning looked at me, still unconvinced. Then I said, "Okay, not only I will try out, TYLER WILL TRY OUT!" This, of course, came as quite a surprise to Tyler, who, after the initial shock, said, "Uh... yeah! I'll try out!"

Essentially, it breaks down like this... you can audition for American Idol in Hollywood Studios. You sing for one of the producers, and if they like you, they send you down the hall to another set of producers. If those producers like you, you become one of three people booked on one of the shows. There are typically seven shows per day, from about 11a, each hour, until about 4p, maybe 5p.

The audience votes on a winner for each show. If you are a show winner, you come back for the daily finale, at 7p. Again, the audience votes, and if you win THAT one, you get a special golden ticket... that golden ticket allows you to go to ANY American Idol audition in the country and go straight to the front of the line and get special VIP treatment for your entire visit.

So, anyway, we went into the AI building, and because I am a Cast Member, not only could I not participate, I could not even audition. Technically, neither could Tyler, being my brother-in-law, but we weren't really that concerned with his winning the show. They could only take one person in the audition room with them, so Tyler took Jon. Jon later said that Tyler sang, "Ain't No Mountain High Enough", complete with hand motions and movements. He didn't make it.

Lenning, on the other hand, took Trey with him. I stood in the lobby talking to a CM for a little while, when I learned that Lenning had made it to the next round. I went out to The Sci Fi Cafe and told them to hold our reservations, because we were with the Next American Idol. Tyler and Jon were sitting outside, waiting on the results of Lenning's second round audition.

Tyler texted Lenning's dad. His text read something like, "YOUR SON IS GOING TO BE ON AMERICAN IDOL". A few minutes later, Tyler gets a text. He reads it, and says, "Crap! Mr. Lenning trumps again!" The text read something like, "IN SOUTH AFRICA. DINNER WITH DISNEY VP."

Lenning made it. He came out wearing a number and a yellow card on a lanyard. We went nuts. The producer came out, and wanted to get some video of him celebrating. They got a great shot of us doing high fives, and Jon chest bumping Lenning. He did some interviews on camera, and finally, an hour and ten minutes after our reservation, we had lunch.

Lenning had to be back at 2:50 for make up, rehearsal and a few other re-show things for the 4pm show. The guys and I had enough time to run and do Star Tours and a couple of other things, then we had to meet up at 3:30p for the VIP door.

The family and friends of the other two that made it were also at the door when we got there, and soon enough, a CM led us to our seats, close to the front on stage-right side of the theater. Each seat has an arm rest with two sets of buttons number 1-10, which you use to vote on your favorites. As we walked in, the first contestant was finishing up his practice song, which was "I Like It" by Tim McGraw. The guy singing, Billy Cox, was a country bumpkin kind of guy, and sounded decent enough.

Lenning was singing "Sweet Home Alabama", which was a blessing and a curse. He sounded great, but I dearly hate that song. Always have. Makes me feel like I should be driving a 4x4 truck, covered in mud, a tennis ball hanging off the long antenna I have and a big Confederate Flag in the back window. Under the gunrack, of course. So, it makes me feel like I'm back in Samson. Yee-haw.

Lastly, Jada Davis, a big sista', got up and sang "Respect". As she sang, I looked and Tyler, who looked back, and we both looked up at Jonathan on stage, who saw us. We all shook our heads. Jada was tearin' it up... and we knew it was over.

The little girl sitting next to me was the daughter of Billy Cox, and she looked up at me and said, "She's really good." I nodded, and said, "You know, if you accidentally hit 2 on your buttons there, instead of 1, then its okay." She smiled and said, "And if you hit 1 by accident, its okay too." I heard Tyler say, "Touche."

The show started, the judges came out--one is like Randy, one is like Paula, and one is like Simon... go figure. Billy Cox sang his song, and again, sounded pretty good. The judges said their stuff, then Lenning got up there... and again, sang well. The Randy-Judge told him that he needed to be more animated, the Paula-Judge said, "You are so cute! You look like you are 12 years old with your fuzzy little legs!" You know those moments when something happens and you just know that this will stick with you for a long, long time, and you are going to hear about it a whole heckuva lot? That was this moment with Jonathan Lenning. Trey, Jon, Tyler and I just about passed out in our seats with laughter.

The Simon-Judge told him that "I once carried some frozen peas and that was slightly interesting than your performance."

And Jada Davis got up, sang awesome, and the judges loved her. The Cox family next to me had a little baby girl who started crying, and the daughter next to me had to take her out, leaving her buttons unattended. So when it came time to vote, I hit "2" for Lenning... then I hit "1" for Billy Cox, cause that is what Cox the Daughter would have done.

Well, Seacrestette stood up finally, and announced the big winner... and to no one's surprise, it wasn't our man Jonathan Lenning. But, for the rest of the day, people were coming up to him, telling him they had voted for him telling him how much they loved him, and I'm sure he got the chick vote easily.

51... The DFC X
What started out as a simple game between 11 friends, picking football game winners, has become a still-simple game, this time between 30+ friends.  The Deuce Football Championships concluded its 10th season in December, with the first ever chick taking the title.

Alas, I tear through the regular season once again, winning my second straight MVP title, but stall and fall in the postseason.  An old school battle was set up for DeuceBowl X, our championship weekend, between Eddy McBroom and Lori Beirne, with almost 1100 victories and 17 years of DFC'ing between the two of them.  I'm still rooting for Big Eddy to win this game, but I gotta give props to Lori for winning it all.  Good job.

Coming up... Moving your hips like yeah... Starbucks gets a new boss... and the political debates rage on...

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Idol Road to the Dude Half-Dozen

Tonight!  The Top 12 guys take the stage...



The Lovely Steph Leann and myself are in the living room of The Cabana, fresh off a dinner at the garden where I guess they grow the olives.  Pretty good Shrimp Portofino, she had soup, we had dessert, and are now in the woes of fullness, on the couch and recliner.  The guys?  Todrick... Aaron.. Jermaine... Tim Urban.. Joe... Tyler... Lee... John... Big Mike... Alex... Casey... and Andrew...

Simon puts it plainly... "if you lose it tonight, or forget the words, your career is over..."

Todrick Hall, 24, from Arlington, TX, was the guy who wrote and sang his own little song.  Tonight, he's doing an R&B version of "Since U Been Gone", starting out with a Boyz II Men'esque narration.  And this might the be most original version of any song I've heard so far this evening.  My man is busting it...

Not sure if the vocals are perfect, but the energy is up, and its a fun version of an already fun song.  The Lovely Steph Leann says, "Pretty cool", and America's Favorite Lesbian Ellen DeGeneres is all smiles.  She thought the chorus was a little rough, but loved the performance.  Randy the Dawg is one of those that has been saying "make the song your own!", as is Kara the Hotness... and yet, they both sit here and say, "I didn't recognized that song, that was a crazy arrangement..."  Simon didn't like it either, saying, "You murdered the song."  I kinda liked it.  So there.

Aaron Kelly, 16, from Sonestown, PA, is the youngest guy in the contest this year.   He's singing Rascal Flatts "Here Comes Goodbye", which as a huge Rascal Flatts fan, The Lovely Steph Leann picked up immediately.  He sings, he finished, I'm underwhelmed.   "You could tell he was nervous, but it was good," The Lovely Steph Leann pipes up.

Simon says, "It was quite a good performance."  Kara the New Hotness says, "You have no idea how great your talent is."  Randy the Dawg says, "You got all those pipes..."  And Ellen the Talk Show Host says, "You'll be here a long time."

Personally, I think Jermaine Purifory should be here, not Jermaine Sellers... but Jermaine Sellers it is.  He's 27, from Joliet, IL, singing "Man in the Mirror" during an audition, and seemed like he was blaming the band.

He's singing "Get Here" by Oleta Adams, one of those tender, soft, precious songs that has to be very, very hard to sing.  How's he doing?  Eh.  Just eh.  The original is by far and away better. 

Ellen says she loves his look, she loves the song, but felt that he was only singing the song as a performance and not really feeling it.  Randy the Dawg said he loved the song, but the song seemed too old for him, and that The Wrong Jermaine was trying to do too much with it.  Kara the New Hotness agreed with Randy the Dawg.  Simon the Cowell says it sounded like a cocktail piano bar song, and that he was trying to oversing it.... The Lovely Steph Leann nods her head.

Up next is Tim Urban, 20, from Duncanville, TX, a dude I know very little about.  I have to give a nod to Erin the Marine Wife, as we discovered that Big Mike isn't the one who was cut (his father did tell people, and caused some trouble), it was a guy named Chris Golightly who was cut for unspecified reasons.  Anyway, Tim "Not Keith" Urban got the call, and is on the show now.

"Apologize" by OneRepublic is the song... The Lovely Steph Leann groans, "I hate this song."  Poor KT, she's missing this, as this is her favorite song of all time.  Yeah, I'm not a big fan of the song either.  Hitting the high notes on "tooooo laaaaateeeeee" wasn't good for Tim "Not Keith" Urban... 

Simon says, "Congrats for coming back, but based on that performance, we made the right decision the first time when we cut you."  Kara the New Hotness said the music just swallowed him up.  Randy the Dawg said it was just the wrong song all the way around.  Ellen the Talk Show Host says it was smart to choose a song that people like, but it just didn't sound good.  The Lovely Steph Leann says, "I do like him better than I do that Ashley Rod girl..."

Joe Munoz, 20, from California, another guy we don't know alot about, another guy who did "Man in the Mirror" during Hollywood Week.  Joe the Latin Lover is doing "You and I Both" by Jason Mraz, one of my Top 250 songs of all time.  And Joe the Latin Lover seems to be doing quite well... maybe a little safe, but he's not trying to do too much with it, he's not trying to oversing it, he's just doing the song the way I would have done it, were I able to sing.  Which I am not.  Not that I don't try.  Its a song that has over 40 plays on the iPod, so I've sung it loud before...

Ellen the Talk Show host liked the song, liked the performance... Randy the Dawg says, "Not for me for you, for me, for you, for you, for me, you worked it."  Kara the New Hotness didn't expect him to sing this song, but loved it.  Simon the Cowell says, "I kinda agree... but not really.  Based on that performance, I don't think you are a star."

Its Tyler Grady, 20, from Nazereth, PA, and this is a guy that The Lovely Steph Leann adores.  She says, "I'm going to hush, because I don't want to say anything to jinx him!"   He's singing, perhaps to The Lovely Steph Leann, the big hit by The Guess Who?, "American Woman". 

This seems like a song that the band would love to play onstage.  None of that pansy Oleta Adams, "Get Here" crap, oh, nay nay... let's rock it out with some 1970 Guess Who? music baby.  Dig it.

As for the song, its not bad.  Its not great.  Its... well, eh.  I said, "He seems like he's shouting alot of it," and The Lovely Steph Leann defends him by saying, "Well, that's much of the song...."  Simon the Cowell said the song was a bit cliche and unnatural.  Kara the New Hotness says he has a frontman personality, but isn't keen on the 70s gimmick.  Randy the Dawg says they've seen this from him already, they want something more.  Ellen agrees, telling him he needs charisma.

Lee Dewyze, 23, from Chicago, IL, and is a paint clerk.  But now, he's a guitar playin' Idol hopeful.  He was the rockin' kind of guy singing "You Found Me", which was awesome in Hollywood Week.  He's singing Snow Patrol's "Chasing Cars", which seems like a song right in his wheelhouse.

His shirt says "Weapon of Choice", which makes me like him already.  His vocals aren't perfect, but he almost seems like the most normal, down to earth guy out of the entire roster.  Ellen the Talk Show Host says she thought it was a good song choice, though he seemed like he screamed a little bit.  Randy the Dawg didn't like the song choice at all, wishing he had gone a little harder.  Kara the New Hotness didn't like the really small range of the song.  Simon the Cowell says, "I thought this was the best performance of the whole night so far."

The judges mention that he should do a Kings of Leon song.  The Lovely Steph Leann says, "Uh... I don't know who those people are..."  We're old.

Up next is John Park, 21, from North Park, IL, who was praised by Shania Twain to the point where it was almost creepy. 

"God Bless This Child", a jazz classic, is what he's singing... I think, actually.  He sings the first four lines, and until he gets to the chorus, I didn't know he was singing English.  I thought this was perhaps a foriegn song, along the lines of La Bamba.  I look at The Lovely Steph Leann and say, "I didn't understand any of those first lines... did you?"  She shakes her head no. 

He sounds pretty good, but mumbles a whole lot.  Simon the Cowell tells him that he needs an incredible voice to sing that song, and he doesn't.  Zero emotion.  Flat.  Kara the New Hotness calls it loungy and sleepy.  Randy the Dawg said he liked the runs and bridge, but beyond that, not much else.  They all tell him he's got a voice, but bad selection.  Ellen the Talk Show Host says that was a song that is not going to get the girls to vote for him.  I agree... didn't like the song, didn't understand the song, didn't think he was all that great.

Michael Lynche, 26, from St. Pete, Florida, the birthtown of The Lovely Steph Leann.  Big Mike was featured during Hollywood Week because his baby girl was born that very same week. 

Big Mike is singing "This Love" by Maroon 5.  He looks like a linebacker, holding his guitar, not really sure if he's even playing it, and singing the song.  The Lovely Steph Leann says, "Its a little nasal", but I kinda like the performance.   And she likes it too, despite the nasally quality that she's hearing. 

How in the world did Big Mike & Joe the Latin Lover end up having two of my favorite performances tonight? 

Ellen loves his personality, loved the song choice and love the performance.  Randy the Dawg likes him, his persona and the song.  Kara the New Hotness says, "It was little depressing until you came up here and did your thing".  She admits if there had been lots of great performances, they might be more critical, but since there hasn't been, they won't be.  Simon, however, calls him an opening act.  I liked him. 

Alex Lambert, 19, from Texas, is a high school student.  At 19?  Anyway, he's the guy who was stuck in Mary Powers group, and in a video flashback, she says cheerfully, "I'll never be in this guy's group again" and he says, "I hate you."

Alex "Don't Call Me Adam" Lambert is singing some James Morrison, a guy I just don't know much music from.   The Lovely Steph Leann says, "He kinda reminds me of that Firefly Owl City guy."  I can see that... Alex "Don't Call Me Adam" Lambert has this raspy kind of voice, and the makings of what seems like a baby mullet going on. 

Simon the Cowell says, "I don't know who was happier for that to end, me or you."  He says Alex "Don't Call Me Adam" Lambert has to get his nerves together, and that he's a good singer.  Kara the New Hotness says he's got crazy tone, and that he sounds alot like James Morrison, but its not all together yet.  Randy the Dawg likes him, as does Ellen, who makes a mullet observation, then tells him he's like a banana that is not quite ripe enough yet.  Uh... okay...

And here comes Casey James, 27, from Fort Worth, and we hope he keeps his shirt on.  "Heaven" by Bryan Adams is his song of choice.  Sitting on a stool, plucking his guitar, he kinda sounds like a... well, a singer.  A good singer in a coffeehouse or a small concert.  Kara the New Hotness was the one who asked him to take his shirt off, and Idol has played up this whole, schoolyard "Kara likes Casey!" angle, which is sort of goofy.   Of course, she is only 39, 40 this year, so who knows?

Kara the New Hotness says, "I'm married, thank you!" and Randy the Dawg says, "For now!"  Kara is all kinds of being weird and stuttering and such... Randy the Dawg liked the song choice, the swagger, and says, "I liked you too, but not in that way!"  Kara the New Hotness says, "Seriously, though... you are eye and ear candy."  Simon the Cowell says, "Casey, we were both cursed with good looks.  You chose the right song, it was honest, it was good..."

Seacrest says, "Remember, tomorrow is the results show, and Friday is Kara's HR meeting..."

Oh, just an aside... apparently, as I just learned, "Casey James" is also the name of an adult film star.  So if you Google "Casey James", make sure you add the words "American Idol", and then make sure your search filter is on.  Cause... well, trust me.  Eeew.

Now, to close out the show, its Andrew Garcia, 24, from Moreno Valley, California.  He's this squatty Hispanic guy with square glasses, who got all teary eyed when he found out he was headed to the Top 24.   He's a guy I hope does well.

Fall Out Boy's "Sugar We're Going Down" is what he's singing, and like several others, chooses to do the guitar route.  Andy Garcia is taking a song that just about everyone knows, and puts a new spin on it.

Simon the Cowell says, "I was looking forward to hearing you the most tonight, but you disappointed me."  And I kinda agree.  It was a decent arrangement, but not a great peformance.  Kara the New Hotness thought the rendition was strange, but she really likes him.   Randy the Dawg didn't like the version, but is a fan of Andy Garcia.  America's Favorite Lesbian Ellen says she's a fan as well, but tonights song wasn't great. 

So, here's my rankings for tonight... Joe the Latin Lover... Casey James... Big Mike... Aaron Kelly... Lee Dewyze... Andy Garcia.... Todrick Hall... Tyler Grady... The Wrong Jermaine... Alex "Don't Call Me Adam" Lambert... John Park... Tim "Not Keith" Urban

So, if I'm picking the Dude Half-Dozen, to go along with the Chick Six, as of right now, I'm taking Joe the Latin Lover, Casey James, Big Mike, Andy Garcia and Lee Dewyze and as of right now, Todrick Hall. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Idol's Road to the Chick Six Begins

Its about time... finally, after the good and bad auditions, after the Hollywood Week, after Ryan Seacrest talking incessantly, after America's Favorite Lesbian Ellen DeGeneres has more than successfully taken the reins from Paula the Flake, after Randy the Dawg spits out about 1,092 "dawgs"...




The chicks are here!  Tonight, the first half of the Top 24 will compete... Paige... Ashley... Janell... Lilly... Katelyn... Haeley... Lacey... Michelle... Didi... Siobhan... Crystal... Katie... for the next three weeks, six of these chicks will go away.  Seacrest asks Randy the Dawg to give the chicks some advice, to which The Lovely Steph Leann laughs and says, "Yeah... asking Randy for advice... words of wisdom.  Yo."

Tonight is songs from the Billboard charts... Up first is Paige Miles, 24, from Naples, FL.  This is a chick that we know very, very little about... let's see what P-Miles can do. 

"It's All Right Now" by Free... a sista' taking on a 70s rock hit.  Interesting.  She sounds okay... but in the middle of it, out loud, I involuntarily went, "Eh".  Because really?  It's Eh.  Just eh.  At least she does the over the head clapping thing, getting the audience involved.  Even the final note wasn't all the great.

Simon the Cowell tells her that he thinks she's got the best voice, though he didn't like the song choice.   Kara the New Hotness said it was fantastic.  She loved it.  Randy the Dawg said the song was wrong, but she showed up during the chorus.  Ellen the... well, the Talk Show Host agrees and disagrees.  She loved it.

P-Miles then admits that she's sewn into her outfit, and she's had to pee for five hours.  Ha!

Up next is my sista' from a Mexican motha'... Ashley Rodriguez.  Yes, expect lots and lots of Lorna Road and landscaping jokes as long as she stays in this competition.   She tells of her love of "Battlefield" by Jordin Sparks, which I liked better when Pat Benatar sung it...

Leona Lewis, "Happy" is her song.  Pretty girl, that A-Rod.  She looks like Eva Mendez and Jordin Sparks had a baby together, and let's face it, with Ellen the Talk Show Host on board, that's not out of the question.  During the song, The Lovely Steph Leann looks up from her blanket over at me and grimaces.  I grimace back.  She says, "Wow.  I hate this.  This is terrible.  Is she even on key?"

Kara the New Hotness said it was a few nice moments... but she didn't like it.  Randy and Ellen agree, while Simon said it was clumsy, the arrangement was bad and that he thinks A-Rod is going in the wrong direction. 

Here comes an early favorite, Janell Wheeler.  She's 24, from Orlando, and is a wine sales rep.  She's singing "What About Love" from Heart.  The Lovely Steph Leann says, "I really like the tops she wears".

Janellybean comes roaring out of the gate with the song, which is a great tune from the 80s.  It fits her, and though she does sound a bit shaky here and there, overall its strong.   The Lovely Steph Leann chalks it up to nerves. 

Randy the Dawg didn't like the song that much, but he still likes her.  Ellen liked her performance.  Simon said "You gave the 100% effort, and delivered 65%" and said she was little off-key.  Kara the New Hotness liked her, but thought the song was way too big.  I liked her quite a bit, darn it.

Here comes Lilly Scott.  Only, if only, her last name was White, how fabulous would this be?  Lilly is 20, from Littleton, CO, and was living out of her car and playing on the street, but now, here she is!

She's doing "Fixing a Hole" by The Beatles.  Guitar in hand, she's strumming in front of the mic stand... and as much as I wanted to like Janellybean... I gotta say, I'm digging me some Lilly Scott.  She's got this distinctive voice that reminds me a little of Leigh Nash, or maybe Feist or Lily Allen.  Lovin' it.

Ellen the Talk Show Host says, "That's what I'm talking about, right there."  Simon the Cowell says it was the best so far.  Kara the New Hotness called Lilly Scott believable, and from the heart.  Randy the Dawg says she is more like an indie artist than anything else.

Katelyn Epperly, 19, from West Des Moines, Iowa, has this weird, yet cool, dot between her eyes.  I think its a mole, but she almost looks like a white Indian.  "Oh Darling" from The Beatles is her song, and if this were a movie in 1987, she would fit in perfectly.  Don't get me wrong, she's really pretty, with really pretty hair, but it looks like that really pretty hair has met a really pretty crimper.  Bright red lipstick, sleek black dress, she's got the best outfit of the night.  And she sounds good.

Simon the Cowell says at some points, she was screaming the song, but still, he likes her.  Kara the New Hotness compliments her on how well she knows her own voice, and she even comments on the makeover.  Randy the Dawg likes the makeover, and he likes her tone in the song.  Ellen thought the song was a bit pushed, but liked the whole thing.  Seacrest inquires Katelyn about the makeover, Kara the New Hotness mouths a bad word.

Haeley Vaughn, 16, from Colorado, and I'm kinda not excited about her in the show, mostly because its hard to spell her name on the first try.  I always go to "Haley"... she's singing "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" by The Beatles.

Holding her guitar, she's sounding a little screechy to me.  The Lovely Steph Leann shrugs and says that she kinda enjoys it.  I do like the arrangement, its kinda fun, but I didn't think the performance was all that great.  Kara the New Hotness says it went all over the place, the notes were off... but, she really likes her because she really dominates the stage.  Randy the Dawg says that he likes the originality, but he doesn't like her when she tries to hit the high notes.  America's Favorite Lesbian Ellen DeGeneres says that Haeley shines, just shines.  Simon the Cowell speaks my heart--"If I'm being honest, it was borderline terrible, and a complete and utter mess..."  Thank you, Simon, thank you for the voice of reason.

Coming up, its Lacey Brown, 24, from Amarillo by morning.  The Lovely Steph Leann says, "I have high hopes for her..." and then as the flashbacks come up, she rubs it in my face that I called Megan Joy by Kristy Lee Cook.  Seriously, they could be the same person, and no one would know.  Or care.

"Landslide" by Fleetwood Mac is her song... Stevie Nicks singing this song is good.  The Dixie Chicks singing this song is amazing.  Lacey Brown singing this song?  Not bad.  Not good either.  Just... well, eh.   I really like Lacey B's voice, but this isn't as good as I wanted it to be.  I look over at The Lovely Steph Leann who just shrugs and says, "Well, I don't really understand this song anyway..." 

Randy the Dawg didn't like it, and flat out says, "Terrible."  Ellen the Talk Show Host also says "not good".  Simon the Cowell says, "Depressing and indulgent."  Kara the New Hotness says, "Forced" and tells her to try Sixpence or something. 

Now, Michelle Delamor, 22, from Miami, FL, and gets my vote for the hottest Idol chick so far.  That might change, but first, we'll hear her sing "Fallin" by... Alicia Keys.  Wow, she's taking on The Keys.


I was really, really worried about anyone singing Alicia Keys, but I'm diggin' it, totally.  Michelle My Belle hits the high notes, and even ends it with a huge note... awesome.

Ellen says, "Fantastic", probably after reading my blog.  She said it almost seemed safe, only because the song seemed easy for her.  Simon the Cowell liked her lots too.  Kara the New Hotness said it was great, but there were a few not-great moments.  Randy the Dawg said it was good too. 

Didi Benami, 23, admits that singing Kara the New Hotness' song "Terrified" while in auditions was nervewracking... she's the one with the friend that died.  She's singing one of my favorite songs, "The Way I Am" by Ingrid Michelson...

Didi sounds great.  Seriously, this is such a fun song to sing, and she looks like she's having fun with it... she's got this fun outfit on, and she's got this slightly unusual, cool voice.  Loved it.

Simon the Cowell says, "You sound great, but tonight, too many people are trying to sound like Adele and Duffy".  Yep, I can see that... though I did like the song. Kara the New Hotness liked the song, and liked the changes made to the song.  Randy the Dawg is still waiting for the star factor from her, or anyone.  Ellen the Talk Show Host says it was the wrong song to open with.

Siobhan Magnus, which might have the coolest name of the show, is up next.  She's 19, from Cape Cod, MA, and is a glass blowing apprentice.  I went out on a date with a girl named Siobhan, once.  I think it was... 1994, maybe, on my birthday, and I got a speeding ticket.  She and her eyebrows will be singing "Wicked Game" by Chris Isaak.  I can tell you, before she starts, this won't be good.

This song just doesn't seem right without a video of two hot people making out in the sand and surf behind her.  I think this is the first time this song has ever been sung on Idol.  Ya know, I love this song, and Chris Isaak does it awesome... its like a white version of a Whitney or Aretha song... its also sort of creepy to have a 19 year old sing this song.

Kara the New Hotness liked her singing... Randy the Dawg says she's got some big pipes, and that she should reach for bigger songs... Ellen loved it... Simon liked, but not loved, the song.

Crystal Bowersox is also an early frontrunner.  She's 24, from Elliston, OH, and is a musician and a mom.  She's got this cool, dreadlocky, lip ringy, dreamcatcher earringy look about her... singing "Hand in My Pocket" from Alanis.

Plucking that guitar, she starts strong.  Harmonica in place, she sounds really good, really relaxed and really experienced.  Her teeth still kinda creep me out, but let's just say that if she can make it to the Top 24, she might be the one to beat.  Rock on.

Randy the Dawg loved it.  America's Favorite Lesbian Ellen DeGeneres says she'd be voting for her if she could.  Simon the Cowell likes the story, likes the baby, likes the song, but says, "there are thousands of you performing outside subway stations... choose a song and make it yours, don't be a sound-alike."  Kara the New Hotness says "Bosox, you were really good tonight."

And, rounding out the night, Katie Stevens, 17, from Middlebury, CT, and she's a high school student.  She seems like the most normal, down to Earth of all the contestants... and I'll probably find her a bit annoying later, but for now, I like Katie. 

She's taking on "Feelin' Good" by Michael Buble, and though his is a good version, if you want great, you go to Nina Simone, who's version is on my 100 songs of all time.  Katie Stevens, at 17, is trying to be seductive and sexy... because this is a seductive and sexy song. 

She also seems like one of the most marketable Idol hopefuls... her name is Katie Stevens, alot easier to remember than "Janell" or "Bowersox".  She sounds really good, by the way.  Not my favorite, but good enough to keep her around.

Ellen the Talk Show Host says the song was a little conservative for a 17 year old to sing... Simon the Cowell agrees with Ellen the Talk Show Host, even using the word "Annoying" (probably after reading my blog)... Kara the New Hotness calls her pitchy, but still having ridiculous chops... and Randy the Dawg said she pushed to hard on the song. 

For my money... Lilly Scott... C'Bosox... Michelle My Belle... Didi Benami... Katelyn Epperly... Katie Stevens... Janellybean... Siobhan Magnus... P-Miles... Lacey B... Haeley Vaughn... A-Rod...

If I'm choosing right now, based on what I saw tonight and what I've seen before, in the Chick Six I'm putting in Lilly Scott, C'Bosox, Didi, Janellybean and Katelyn Epperly for sure, and then a toss up between Katie Stevens, Michelle My Belle and Lacey Brown. 

Saturday, February 20, 2010

So, Vera Farmiga (and other thoughts on The Prevue Channel, Gerard Butler's career and roaches)

Sometimes I just have random stuff to say, and Coffee Drinker Mindy D'A is always quick to tell me these posts are her favorites...

As the figure skating comes out, someway, somehow, at least once during the night I will shout (sometimes to The Lovely Steph Leann's annoyance) "Toe Pick!" in a high, shrill voice, just like that "Cutting Edge" movie.


When I see figure skating pairs, I'm convinced that the two are romantically involved... but I'm equally as convinced the guy is gay.  How does that skating paradox work?...


 So... men's figure skaters.  Is is a shirt?  Is it a blouse?  Is there a difference in the two?


In that contest where you can win a trip to the Olympics for the rest of your life, I'm picturing every executive on the edge of their seats when the winner is drawn... "What? He's 88 years old? Whew! That would have totally been crappy if some 27 year old won this thing!"


After years of announcing the Olympics, Bob Costas must know more random, useless geography facts than anyone in the history of the world.  "And here comes the Dutch team.  Of course, we know that the Dutch town of Leeuwarden can be spelled 225 different ways..."


We were having dinner at The Campbell Home a few nights ago, and The Lovely Steph Leann noticed in a Wal-Mart flier that "The Biggest Loser" for the Wii game was on sale for $29.99.  I just happened to have a $30 Wal-Mart gift card burning a hole in my pocket, so a few days later, I purchased it.  The next night, I pointed it out to her, told her that I thought she might like it, we could do it together and so forth.   And what did we do later that night?  You guessed it. 

Sat on the couch, ate Girl Scout cookies and watched television, Wii game still in the wrapper on the end table.


My latest "Crappy Movie With Mikey" movie was "Law Abiding Citizen".  This film stars Gerard Butler as Clyde Shelton, a man who watches his family get senselessly murdered in a robbery, then watches the leader of the crime roll over on the not-as-violent partner and essentially get off on a technicality.  Years later, he sets out to get revenge on everyone who allowed this to happen.  Jamie Foxx portrays Nick Rice, the fledgling district attorney who is trying to stop him from killing more people.

The first part of the movie is intriguing... a man set on vengeance for the slaughter of his family, he's in prison, yet how is he still getting these assassinations completed?  The game is afoot.  The second half of the film, when Clyde's resources and back story is revealed, sort of... well, completely falls apart.  It goes from a "What would I do in this situation?  Would I want revenge too" kind of thinking movie to a "Wow.  That's kind of a stretch.  Wow, now that is really a stretch.  Wow, that's kind of ridiculous" kind of thinking movie. 

Its full of violence and F-Bombs, and really, its 2 hours that you could spent elsewhere, unless you are just jonesing to see this movie or Gerard Butler.  It does have a really cool death, though, involving a cell phone and a judge.

And what happened to Gerard Butler, anyway?  Remember him in "300"?  He was this awesome dude that was in "Phantom of the Opera", and he was this guy that we all just knew was going to have a rockin' big career full of action flicks and great starring roles... and then he did "P.S. I Love You"... and then he did "The Ugly Truth"... and then he did "Nim's Island"... really, Gerard?  Really? 


Ever seen the movie "Creepshow"?  Its not a terrible film, its meant to be a little schlocky and campy--its a series of vignettes from a horror comic book, with the screenplay written by Stephen King.   My favorite of the stories is entitled "Something to Tide You Over", and it features Leslie Nielsen (!) as a bad guy who, at least in the beginning, gets the best of Ted Danson and his woman. 

The most disturbing of all of the shorts, however, is the last one, called "They're Creeping Up On You".  Essentially, a mean, bad man who suffers from Mysophobia and lives in a sealed off, germ-free apartment has a problem with roaches.  A very, very big problem.

Though in now-over 2 years at The Cabana, I have yet to see a roach, we'd routinely see them at The Deuce.  Its not that our apartment was dirty (stop laughing), but in the neighborhood, plus with the roommates and the rest of the world visiting, it happens.  Even then, though, when I saw a cockroach in The Deuce, I could get it sometimes... other times, it would escape behind behind something and disappears.  So I'd go to bed, knowing that cockroach was alive and well, sometimes in my room.  And, thinking back to "Creepshow", I just knew that that stupid roach was talking with talking with 4,000 of his children and friends, making plans for a revolution.  Viva la 'cacaroacha! 


When I go onto the iTunes store, I look at the section that says "Recommendations For You".  I'm assuming iTunes bases this on music I've listened to recently, and maybe listen to on a regular basis.  This time around?  They recommend the soundtrack to "Kung Fu Panda", albums by Madonna, The Police,  and They Might Be Giants and singles by Taylor Swift, the Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus, Julie Andrews, The Kinks and some guy named Marco Marnengeli.  So not only am I actually 14 years old, I'm apparently living in 1986.


If you actually punched some random guy after seeing one of those new Volkswagens, chances are you'd get punched back, regardless of the color.


Anyone remember Gatorade Fruit Punch, or Grape, or Lemon Lime?  Life was easy then.  Now its all kind of weird flavors and concoctions like G2 and Elite and Mountain Blast and Shock & Awe.  I miss Fruit Punch.


Along that same lines, anyone remember when The Prevue Channel existed?   Covering most of the screen, it did nothing but scroll what was on every other channel... and when nothing was on TV, you left it on The Prevue Channel--for hours at a time.  It would show commercials and trailers for movies coming on HBO and network television, but it was great background noise.

Says It's TV more hypnotizing than Peter Jennings' baritone. More riveting than bouncing Baywatch body parts. It's the Prevue Channel -- that excruciatingly slow scroll that lists what's on the tube's every channel. All My Children... Tennis...Pictionary...and on and on. Some folks tune in for actual information -- and tear their hair out with impatience. Me, I like the Prevue Channel as a mesmerizing end in itself -- my own electronic lava lamp. I savor the endless, repetitive looping. The fun bubbles of red that denote premium channels. The cryptic, haiku-like movie descriptions. (''Deconstructing Harry: A prominent author is plagued with writer's block and numerous personal problems.'') But my favorite moment has to be when the Prevue Channel scrolls by the listing for the Prevue Channel itself, and I learn that I am watching... previews. What a gorgeously self-referential moment! What a brilliant metaphor for our onanistic media culture! -- from 1998

Now?  We have The TV Guide channel, and I can't watch it.  The scrolling part--which is why you'd turn it on the TV Guide channel in the first place--takes about 1/4 of the screen, showing maybe 3 or 4 shows at a time.  Then, they've got their own programming, plus they show other channel's shows, so you end up getting caught up in this girl who's makeover is going to have her end up looking like Reese Witherspoon, even though she looks, and will look, nothing like Reese Witherspoon, you watch anyway, and then you realize you were waiting to see what was on TNT, and you realize you just missed it, and you have to wait for it to scroll again...

Or you can just pick up your remote and use the guide function and look to see what time "Law & Order" comes on.  I can answer that, though... probably 10am, 2pm, 3pm, 7pm and 9pm.  That's just a guess.


When you are trying to merge in front of me, you have about 2 or 3 seconds to do so.  Then, I'm moving up, cause I got stuff to do.  Hey!  Don't merge in front of me now, you had your chance, so back off.


Dear seatbelt... please note the difference between "about to hit a brick wall head-on" and "trying to adjust in my seat".


For that matter, Dear Automatic Flushing Toilet... please note the difference between "I'm done here" and "trying to adjust in my seat".  That water is cold. 


So, Vera Farmiga.  She's one of the two lead actresses in "Up in the Air"... I say "lead", even though she and Anna Kendrick are both nominated for an Academy Award for Supporting Actress.  I loved this film, every single minute of it, and though its rare for me to feel this way, I would have been happy with a few more minutes. 

It tells the story of Ryan Bingham, played by also-nominated George Clooney, who's job is to travel all over the country and be the mediator when a company wants to lay people off.   Natalie (Kendrick) is a new recruit who's developed a system of eliminating the travel--firing via satellite.  Bingham convinces their boss (a great Jason Bateman) that Natalie needs to learn how its really done, so she's sent with him across the country to teach her how to do it face-to-face.

Along the way, Ryan keeps running into Alex (Vermiga), who is another frequent flier, and they develop a relationship in hotel rooms and where ever they can find a place... but of course, there might be real feelings there after a while.   Jason Reitman, director of "Juno", wrote and directed this flick.

On December 29th, 2009, I realized I had not seen this film, and wanted to get it in before 2010 began, mostly so I could include it The 100 Coolest Things of 2009 (and its on the list, high up).  The only night available that week?  New Year's Eve.   So, sometime later in the evening, with no particular New Year's Eve plans (remember when what you were doing for New Year's Eve was a big deal?  Like, you had plans for weeks of who's house to be at during the stroke of midnight, or when you were single, who you'd be with or hope to be with, or maybe you'd have the big bash at your house, hoping all your friends would come over, and maybe, just maybe The Official Clouds in My Coffee Troy State Crush Tiffany Abbott would show up and... where was I?  Yeah...) we figured, why not go see the film. 

It was a 2+ hour movie, with a start time of 10pm, and much to our delight, the theater was empty.  Completely empty.  We kicked back, threw our feet up and enjoyed being able to talk louder... until someone walked in, a woman who came in and sat about four rows ahead of us, all by herself.  Don't know how it happened, who knows how stuff like this happens, but The Lovely Steph Leann and I ended up chatting with her, and finally, I said, "'re Andrea Lindenberg... NBC, right?"  She said, "Yeah, that's me!" and I shared with her that I worked there for a while, and we chatted about that and so on.

It seems that Andrea's kids were seeing something else, but she didn't want to see it so she came in here.   The movie began, and about 2 hours later, I looked at my watch and said aloud, "Happy New Year" to chuckles from the woman four rows ahead of me and the woman to my left. 

Back to the movie... it does have language, and one seen where you see a nude woman's back, but that's it... and yeah, I loved it.  I am eager to see it again when it hopefully comes to the Ghetto Theater here in town.  Not only did it have airplanes and airports, which I strangely am fascinated with, it had George Clooney, who like Brad Pitt, I contend if given the right material is a phenomenal actor, it had the cutie-patootie Anna Kendrick, who was the only thing that kept me alive during the movie "Twilight", it had great writing, it had likable, if not sympathetic characters, it featured appearances from the cool voiced Sam Elliott, the comedic Danny McBride, the always awesome JK Simmons, "The Hangover"'s Zach Galifianakis and the I-am-strangely-enthralled-with Melanie Lynskey, and... it had Vera Farmiga.

So, Vera Farmiga.   I think I'm categorizing her with Jennifer Garner and applying the McGriddle Effect.  I cannot decide if Vera is drop dead gorgeous or just pretty at all.  There really is no in-between. 

Alright.  Gotta go to The Happiest Place in the Mall.