Saturday, March 31, 2012

Idols in the Nicks of Time

Well, here we are once again, on a rainy, lazy Friday night... The Lovely Steph Leann has Campbell in her arms, as they snooze, the only sound in the house is the clicking of my keyboard, backed up by the whirring and humming of the washing machine upstairs as it cleanses bibs, onsies, diaper cloths and other apparel for the umpteenth time of formula, soured milk and general baby droolness.  How's that for an opening run-on sentence?

The Lovely Steph Leann was gone for two nights, and the grandparents agreed to keep him overnight both nights, to afford me the chance to be at work at blue-thirty in the morning... so with 2 evenings free, my mind raced to all the things I could do:  clean the upstairs back bedroom!  watch a few DVR'ed movies!  grab a quiet dinner somewhere nice like Popeye's Chicken & Biscuits or Krystals!  or blog some of the movies I've seen recently, like "The Hunger Games" or "Green Lantern" or "Safe House" or "Warrior"!  I think the term for this is "best laid plans", and I think that might be a Toby Keith song or something, who knows.

Along with all the things I didn't get to do, because I never got home until 830, or even after 9, is the viewing of this week's American Idol.  And apparently the Top 9 get a house together?  I remember the Idols living together at some point, but I never remember it being a "milestone" like, "Top 12 in the finals" and "Top 10 make the tour" and so on.  I keep expecting Seacrusty to say "Remember, those who make the Top 8 get pedicures every day for the rest of their Idol journey!" and next week, to come out with "And our Top 7 will get to watch endless Adam Sandler films, 24/7!". 

Anyway... let's get 'er done...




What is the theme?  Not a clue.  But here's Seacrusty to first introduce us to our Idols, and he pulls out a "Hunger Games" reference by saying, "Idols, may the odds be ever in your favor!" 
Tonight's theme is actually "The Idols own personal Idols", which I almost feel is a cop-out theme.   "Just pick your favorite artist, and just hope they aren't so obscure or unknown that we won't have anything for you to sing, and you end up having to sing Meat Loaf."

In addition to the Idols Idols, they will also be singing in trios over the course of the night... and Jimmy Iovine has brought in a musical icon, that being Stevie Nicks.

First!  Its Colton Dixon!  He'll be singing Lifehouse's "Everything", which he declares as "his favorite worship song".  Who doesn't love this kid?  And Stevie Nicks is turning that worship song into "something I want sung to me."  Nicks, a known Wiccan, has an interesting perspective.

It takes the chorus for me to remember the song, but I do remember belting this out in church... and Colton is making it happen.  And I love the fact he's not afraid to say the name "Jesus" and not just "God" on TV. 

Creepy Uncle Steven says "You are a dream come true for a judge on Idol!"  J-Lo is all emotional and moved.  Randy the Dawg says that Colton is a star, and full of passion.

And for me, I liked the fact it wasn't a song, but it was a performance.

Now, we get Little Skylar Laine, doing some Miranda Lambert, notably "Gunpowder and Lead".  Stevie Nicks tells her that she [Little Skylar Laine] is a storyteller, and truly, I would think if she can make it into the Top Three or Four in this year's competition, I can see the country scene snatching her up a'la America's Darlin' Lauren Alaina.  Maybe not someone who will win Grammys or even a bunch of CMAs, ACMs, CMTs and whatever else country music gives awards for, but someone who can have a few hits on the air. 

Having said that, while this song was done strong and with power, I wasn't a huge fan of it.  Good job, just not my song.  The judges, however, loved it.

The first trio of the night is, naturally, "Landslide", featuring Colton Dixon, Phillip2 and Elise Testosterone.  You could do a lot worse than this, by the way.  Personally, I like the Dixie Chicks version of this better than Stevie Nicks, but honestly, I like the Dixie Chicks version of anything and everything better.  "Landslide" transitions into E-Test's gravelly voice doing "Edge of Seventeen" (that's the one that says, "just like the white winged dove, sings a song sounds like she's singing, ooh, baby ooh, baby ooh).  To finish up, Phillip2 leads "Don't Stop", another Fleetwood Mac standard.  Marvelous.

Up next, its Hee Jun! (he'll take a sad song and make it better), who was lambasted last week for not taking the competition seriously.  Bayley Brown! would have been better.  Long Live Bayley Brown!

He'll be singing "A Song For You" by Donnie Hathaway, one I'm not all that familiar with.  Like Little Skylar Laine, I have no complaints about the effort... I'm just bored with the song... I mean, how is he going to convince America to vote for him when he can't get the to stay awZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ



(smack lips, grimace from gross sleepy mouth taste)

Where was I?   Oh yeah, Hee Jun! (he'll take a sad song and make it better) just finished.  The judges loved him.   And the producers were hoping against hope that he'd suck it up this week, so he wouldn't win. 

Jason Derulo with his neck brace.  His blingy neck
brace.  Three words you don't see together often.
Seacrusty tells us that there is a new Idol song contest, with Coke.  You can help Jason Derulo write a new "smash" for Co-Cola... there's an old one?  And it looks like Jason Derulo had a smash of his own, wearing a neck brace from a neck break recently.  Wait... what? 

Anyway, the last time Idol had a songwriting contest, we got this travesty of American justice called "This is My Now", which gave me endless fodder to the point where some folks don't even recognize the joke. 

Hollie Cav is singing "Jesus Take the Wheel".  Of course she is singing Carrie Underwood.  Someone had to.  I wonder if one of the Idols piped up to sing Kelly Clarkson, and the producers slapped that down, saying, "No way... she's a traitor... she showed up on The Voice.  And dissed us.  Take that Kelly crap outta here."

I've noticed Hollie Cav has very, very fine, thin lips.  See, I know chicks who have thin lips, and that's all well and good, but I need a little puff to my chick's lips.  Not collagen, or Botox or anything, just a little life.  My darling wife has good lips.  Just sayin'. Where was I?

Randy the Dawg said the song was a dangerous choice, but still was a good performance.  J-Lo said it was one of the best from Hollie Cav.  Creepy Uncle Steven says he wished she had sang a different song, but "I'm not going to mess with Jesus or Carrie..."

And now, the low part of the show... and I wonder if the judges also see this too, as they bury him right in the middle of the performances.  Its DeAndre Crappensuck himself, singing an Eric Benet (!) song called, "Sometimes I Cry". 

The Lovely Steph Leann says, "Who?"

In one of my favorite re-watchable crappy movies in recent years, "Grown Ups" starring Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, David Spade, Kevin James and Rob Schneider, there is a scene where David Spade's character, Higgins, makes a gesture after being grossed out by something.

He uses both hands, then imitates throwing up, making a "bleeeaahhhh" sound.  I want to make the exact same sound and use the same gestures. 

J-Sanch has loved Beyonce since she, J-Sanch, was like 7 years old.  Of course, I was about 23 when Destiny's Child hit the scene, and about 25 or 26 when Beyonce was good to go solo.  J-Sanch is singing the Sasha Fierce tune, "Sweet Dreams"... another one that I don't really know very well. 

Here's my thing with Jessica Sanchez... she's very, very talented.  She's very articulate.  She's got a pure, beautiful voice and could sing just about anything in the R&B/Pop/Easy wheelhouse.  Maybe the best all around voice in the whole show right now.  But she's boring.  I like Phillip2's style, I love E-Test's gravelly voice, Colton Dixon's all cool and got the hair and all that... but J-Sanch?  She's just boring. 

But, I am glad it wasn't a take on Beyonce's take on the Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams", which I have grown to really despise over the years.  Or maybe I just don't like Annie Lennox.  That's probably it.

The judges love it, by the way.

So now, its D'Crappensuck, Hee Jun! (he'll take a sad song and make it better) and Joshua Ledet, doing the second trio of the night, this a medley old Michael Jackson... starting out with "Lady in My Life", they transition into "Rock With You", which I totally dig in real life, but watching Hee Jun! (he'll take a sad song and make it better) try to rock with you makes me laugh.  The next song is "P.Y.T (pretty young thing)", a forgotten classic by MJ on the "Thriller" album.   Not bad. 

Me: I feel like PYT is one you never hear anymore... I really like that tune
The Lovely Steph Leann:  I had a co-worker that had that song as her ringtone
Me: PYT?
The Lovely Steph Leann:  Yeah
Me:  That is AWESOME

Phillip2 is doing a Jonny Lang song called "Still Rainin".  Stevie Nicks tells him that "you'd been friends with me and Lindsey Buckingham in 1975, Mick Fleetwood would have invited all three of us to join Fleetwood Mac.  No doubt in my mind."  Friends, THAT is a compliment. 

Now, Phillip2 isn't the most vocally awesome Idol in the show... but he's still awesome.  Never heard this song, and I like it because right now, I can only hear him singing it. 

The judges give him a standing ovation... which they have also given to Hee Jun! (he'll take a sad song and make it better), Colton Dixon and D'Crappensuck. 

When Joshua Ledet started in practice with "No I can't forget this evening or your face when you were leaving...", The Lovely Steph Leann just sighed, saying, "I love this song.  This is my favorite Mariah song."

Frizzy hair notwithstanding, I like Mariah much better in the early
1990s.  She is much more clothed and much less ho'ey.
Its not my favorite Mariah song, personally--but its near the top.  This is vintage, VINTAGE I SAY, pre-skank Mariah.  This was her in her prime, before the short shorts and plunging tops and making out with Taye Diggs lookalikes in every other video and featuring every rap guy ever in every song... "Without You" is Pre-Skank Mariah in near perfection.

Oh, I miss you, Mariah.

By the way, lest we forget Harry Nillson, a middle-aged white guy, originally did this song in the 70s and sounded good.  But not like Pre-Skank Mariah.

Joshua Ledet sounds good, but it almost sounds a little forced.  He did his vocal tricks all on the end, and I liked it... but didn't love it.

Randy the Dawg said it was flawless.  Creepy Uncle Steven loved it.  J-Lo called him an angel from Heaven and a phenom. 

Back from commercial, maybe one that went too long, it jumped right to J-Sanch standing atop a staircase, singing "Like a Prayer"... and Hollie Cav sounded better.  Certainly better than Little Skylar Laine.  When they go to "Borderline", Hollie Cav outshines both of the other two chicks.  Finally, when they do "Express Yourself", Little Skylar Laine takes the lead--and I think she sounds dreadful.  Its like, if its not country-powerhousey, she can't do it.

Seacrusty tells us that Elise Testosterone is doing... Zeppelin?  Wait... what?

This will be the most awesome thing or most awful thing I've seen all day. 

She's doing "Whole Lotta Love", and will be channeling her inner-Robert Plant.  Jimmy Iovine and Stevie Nicks both said, "She came in and murdered it... awesome."  Then Jimmy got Stevie and E-Test to sing "Dreams" together...

Me:  She's singing with Stevie Nicks.  Holy crap.
The Lovely Steph Leann:  I know!!

And this might the be the most awesome thing I've seen all day.. she sounds fan-frakkin'tastic.    By far and away, the best performance of this night.  I think I love Elise Testosterone.  And I think I would at least buy some of her music on iTunes, if not an entire CD. 

Creepy Uncle Steven said, "I wasn't sure you could pull that off, cause no one can pull that off... but Robert Plant would be proud."  J-Lo gushed.  And Randy the Dawg mentioned how hard the flava' was in that song... and how she did it. 

My trio choices:  First, Colton/Phillip2/E-Test... Hollie/Skylar/JSanch... Crappensuck/HeeJun/Joshua

Elise Testosterone's "Whole Lotta Love"... Colton Dixon's "Everything"...  Phillip2's "Still Rainin'"... Little Skylar Laine's "Gunpowder and Lead"... Joshua Ledet's "Without You"... J-Sanch's "Sweet Dreams"... Hee Jun! (he'll take a sad song and make it better)'s "A Song for You"... Hollie Cav's "Jesus Take the Wheel"... that crap from D'Crappensuck.

Bye Jun! He'll Take a Sad Song and Leave the Idol

As we open up, we see the clips of the Idols coming into the theater... getting ready for their show... practicing... then performing... and we hear the judges toss around words like "star" and "crazy" and "contender" and so on.  After 87 standing ovations by the judges, and around 93 gahgillion votes, its time to make our 9 become 8.




Seacrusty:  We have hip-hops It Girl, Nicki Minaj tonight!
The Lovely Steph Leann:  Oh.  Oh joy.

And we see the Idols, then we see D'Crappensuck go nuts when Eric Benet comes out--I don't know that I could have picked this dude out of a lineup. 

Fast Forward through Ford Music Video

Fast Forward through Commercial Break

Now that we know the Top Nine would live in the house together, we seen a clip of the Idols moving into the Idol's Mansion. 

But now... Elise Testosterone, Hollie Cav and Phillip2 come to the stage... Jimmy Iovine tells us about E-Test's huge, huge rendition of "Whole Lotta Love", and tells us it was a transporting performance for her and Idol.   Jimmy Iovine then tells us that because Stevie Nicks gave such high praise to Phillip2, then he deserves to be here.  He says that Hollie Cav lacks experience, and how it will come down to a Hollie Cav vs J-Sanch match.

Dim the lights, here we go.  After the nationwide vote, America decided that Holly Cav is in the Bottome Three.  Hollie Cav has a seat on the Silver Stools of Suck.  Phillp2 is safe, going back to the Couch of Comfort.  Elise Testosterone also heads to the Couch of Comfort. 

Fast Forward though Commercial Break

Seacrusty comes back, and starts to introduce Nicki Minaj, and The Lovely Steph Leann yells, "Hurry!  Fast forward!  I've never heard her, and don't want to!"

Fast Forward through Nicki Minaj successful.

Fast Forward through Commercial Break.

Here we are again, more results.  Colton Dixon, Joshua Ledet and Hey Jun! (he'll take a sad song and make it better) come to center stage.  Jimmy Iovine says that Colton was good, but not good enough, and that he needed to stay poised.  He says that Joshua Ledet sounded better in the Michael Jackson trio medley.  And finally, Jimmy Iovine tells us that Hey Jun! (he'll take a sad song and make it better) is just not good as the other singers.

Dim the lights, here we go!  After the nationwide vote, America says that Colton Dixon can head back to the Couch of Comfort.   Joshua Ledet is faked out by Seacrusty, that ol' faker, and is sent to The Couch of Comfort, while Hey Jun! (he'll take a sad song and make it better) goes to join Hollie Cav on the Silver Stools of Suck.

Fast forward through Commercial Break

Fast forward through Deep Voiced Scotty McCreery's performance

We stop and watch, though, as Jimmy Iovine comes out and presents Scotty with an award signifying that Scotty's album, "Clear As Day", has gone platinum. 

Fast forward through Commercial Break

And now, finally, D'Crappensuck, Little Skylar Laine and J-Sanch come centerstage.  Jimmy Iovine says about Little Skylar Laine that she didn't sound great in her song, but sounded better than ever in her trio performance.  I thought the exact opposite.  For D'Crappensuck, Jimmy Iovine says he needs more experience.  And finally, about J-Sanch, Jimmy Iovine says he's fully on-board for her.

Dim the lights, here we go.  After the nationwide vote, J-Sanch gets a quick send back to the Couch of Comfort.  Who will end up in the final empty Silver Stool of Suck?  Little Skylar Laine gets the bad news, while the rest of us get the bad news that D'Crappensuck will be around next week.  Darn it.

Fast forward through Commercial Break

Dim the lights, here we go!  Sending one person back to the Couch of Comfort, Seacrusty says Little Skylar Laine's name.  Seacrusty is, "The person who is at risk of leaving us tonight is... Hey Jun! (he'll take a sad song and make it better)".   Does he really need to say "at risk"?  Because let's face it, no matter what he sings, no matter how good he is, there is no way in Heaven, Earth, Alabaster and Ensley that the judges will use their Judges Save on him.  No way.  Not after last week's debacle where Creepy Uncle Steven practically called him out for not taking it seriously enough.

The Lovely Steph Leann:  I love it how the judges are leaned in, pretending to collaborate.

Creepy Uncle Steven tells him flat out, "You knew this was coming, after last week... we have to let you go."  It would have been just as well to see Donald Trump go, "Ya fy-ahd..."

But here's the real question...


Thank you.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Billy Joel is My American Idol

You have to know, I love me some Billy Joel.  I mean, straight up, the man is a genius, he's ubertalented, and much of his collection is filled with memorable tunes that I could just sing at any point and time... "Only the Good Die Young"... "Allentown"... "The River of Dreams"... "The Downeaster Alexa"... "Piano Man"... "New York State of Mind"... "The Longest Time"... "Just the Way You Are" (these latter two are hugely popular with The Lovely Steph Leann). 

Some of his lesser known tunes are also fantastic, which "Leave a Tender Moment Alone" comes to mind.  And, my favorite Billy tune, "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant". 

Billy Joel rules!
Matter of fact, the short list of my ten favorite artists of ALL TIME are:  (1) Garth Brooks... (2) The Dixie Chicks... (3) Hootie & the Blowfish... (4) Michael Jackson... (5) Billy Joel... (6) Sheryl Crow... (7) Sarah McLachlin... (8) Martina McBride... (9) Whitney Houston... (10) Alison Krauss... if you wanted to include Christian artists in there, the list gets adjusted to: (1) Garth... (2) Dixie Chicks... (3) Hootie... (4) dcTalk... (5) Michael Jackson... (6) Jennifer Knapp... (7) Billy Joel... (8) Sheryl Crow... (9) Watermark... and (10) Sarah McLachlin. 

Note--this is an unscientific list, from the top of my head, as I feel that any list containing my favorite artists of all time would have to also include (in no particular order) Elton John, Gloria Estefan, Nichole Nordeman, Jars of Clay, The Monkees, ABBA, Caedmon's Call, Lionel Richie, LL Cool J, PM Dawn, Plumb, Jars of Clay, Prince, Toni Braxton, The Forester Sisters, Steven Curtis Chapman, Kathy Mattea, Weird Al, Michael Bolton and pre-skank Mariah.  (And Factor 7, natch) So if I do a post containing just such a topical list, don't come back to this and see it as gospel.  My point was to show how awesome Billy Joel is.   

All that being said, I always get a little antsy when I hear that Idolees are going to be "The Songs of (insert favorite artist here)", because while there is a good chance I'll hear a great version of a great song, there's a more than great chance I'll hear some novice goof up a great song.  Bear this in mind as you read along, knowing that I have no clue who is singing what on tonight's show.  I do know that D'Kenny G will probably screw it up, and stay anyway.  As a matter of fact, I like Kenny G, so "D'Kenny G" is too good of a name.  How about we call him... D Crappensuck?  I like it.





While "And So It Goes", a Billy Joel standard, plays in the background, we see clips of last week's departure with Shannon Magrane.  The other Idols look somber and tearful, though its probably a guilty somber and guilty tearful because its a "Sad to see you go, but I'm glad it ain't me" feeling.  But the 10 remaining.. they get the tour.  They get the Top Ten status.  And a few minutes later, minus Shannon, we see the giggles and laughter.  Because this is how it works when you are 19 years old.

The music swells and Ryan Seacrusty strides onto the stage, welcoming us, and telling us how intense the week has been, and then introducing us to the Top Ten.   Creepy Uncle Steven says, "If you can't sing Billy Joel, you can't sing... he's an American Icon."

Then Seacrusty says, "Helping Jimmy Iovine is R&B heavy hitter Diddy!", to which I just pause and then laugh.  That led to this exchange:

The Lovely Steph Leann:  Why would you have some R&B guy, and I say R&B loosely, helping out with music like Billy Joel's?
Me: Why the heck not just get Billy Joel to help with music like Billy Joel's?
The Lovely Steph Leann:  Simple.  He'd be too drunk.

Oh, and apparently, Tommy Hilfiger is the new "Style Advisor".  I just threw up in my mouth. 

And when D'Crappensuck comes out, I did it again.

Okay, Deandre--if you happen to Google yourself and read this, I'm not picking on you.  I'm sure you are a nice kid, and I'm sure you are pleasant to be around... but I'm just not a fan of your voice.  I think you try to hard.  I think your falsetto is crazy weird.  Its not for me.  If you could sing D'Angelo's "Brown Sugar" over and over, you'd win this thing. But you can't.  And the fact that you are singing "Only the Good Die Young", one of my Top Five Billy Joel Songs Ever, this makes me nervous.  Good luck when you get kicked off.  -d$

Says Diddy... "Billy is at his hottest in this song!  He's singing about being a repressed Catholic, and he's got Christie Brinkley on the side and... you don't even know who Christie Brinkley is, do you?"

I don't know who got kicked off this week, but I do know of one who did't get kicked off... that's D'Crappensuck.  I was flipping down Facebook and saw my friend Kelly Williams Fisher's post that said, "Who keeps voting for DeAndre!  Stop it!"  I completely agree.

And he just made a wonderful song into a heaping pile of crappy poop.  J-Lo thought it was a great way to start the show.  Creepy Uncle Steven made a joke and passed it on down.  Randy the Dawg liked it to start the show... and he's wearing another weird pin thing going on.

Now, its Erika Van Pelt, who will be doing "A New York State of Mind"... personally, she would have been great to sing "Only the Good Die Young", because despite what D'Crappensuck did, that song rocks out. 

On the suggestion of Tommy Hilfiger, EVP gets her hair did, and somehow, she's a short haired brunette.  I like it, but I liked her natural locks better.  And I can't complain about how good her performance is, as it sounds really good... the new do is just distracting. 

The judges loved her song and her look.  You know, I do too.

Joshua Ledet is taking on "She's Got a Way", which isn't one of my favorite ballads, but it is a good song nonetheless.  Personally, I like "Always a Woman" or "Just the Way You Are" better, but this should be good. 

This exchange:
Joshua: I'm singing "She's Got a Way"
The Lovely Steph Leann:  Mmm.  Great song.
Diddy: Have you ever heard this song?
Joshua: No, never, not until this week
The Lovely Steph Leann:  What?  d$!  Ohmygaawwwww....

Adding a little soul to the song, J-Led sits in a chair turned backward, and you can tell he's not familiar with the song... and its a testament to his talents that he's not letting that deter him.  He's even got a choir behind him.  As Billy Joel himself sang, "Its All About Soul".

J-Lo loved this performance.  Creepy Uncle Steven Tyler just said, "I don't know that song by Billy Joel", and The Lovely Steph Leann nearly passed out.  Randy the Dawg liked it, but didn't love it. 

Great, great album.  "Shameless" is one of many great tracks.
In one of the most appropriate song choices of the night, Little Skylar Laine has picked "Shameless", which is a somewhat more obscure Billy Joel tune from 1989's "Storm Front", made hugely popular by Garth Brooks on his "Ropin' the Wind" album.   I say appropriate, because this is definately one that can be country-fied effectively, as Garth has shown above.

She starts a little shaky, finally gets her groove when she hits the chorus, somewhat molests the back of the keyboard player on stage, and then his her stride... but to me, its still not her strongest song, and I expected more of her on this one. 

Randy the Dawg asks her what version she was coming from, and she admitted that it was Garth's.  J-Lo says, "You aren't shameless, you are fearless!"  I see what you did there, J-Lo.  Creepy Uncle Steven Tyler gives her some fluff and sunshine. 

And now, its Elise Testosterone, singing one that I like, but don't know all that well--"Vienna".  I'm still wondering how she keeps ending up in the Bottom Three, but perhaps its that America thinks shes too old?   Tommy Hilfiger says she's too layered up, and really just needs to... well, I'm guessing wear less clothing.

Here she comes, with a plunging neckline.  As I listen to "Vienna", I realize my feet are slightly tapping, and I find myself enjoying this version immensely.  She's not doing a cover, she's doing her version of this song, and that's wonderful. 

And she garners a standing O from all three judges, much deserved.  The Lovely Steph Leann then interjects, "This song was in '13 Going on 30'".  The judges loved E-Test.

We come back from Break, and its Phillip Phillips!  Tommy Hilfiger tells Phillip2 that he needs some fashion help, and Phillip2 simply says, "Eh, I keep it simple." 

The song he'll be doing is "Movin' Out (anthony's song)", another great tune that I know all the words too... my favorite line is "Sergeant O'Leary is walking the beat, at night he becomes the bartender... he works at Mr. Cacchatories' down on Sullivan Street, across from the medical center..."   Diddy and Jimmy Iovine tells him to put down the guitar as he sings.

So, Phillip2, wearing grey, is singing the song while holding his guitar.   He adds a rockabilly twist to the song, and I'm not sure I love it... I like it, I don't hate it... it was just... weird.  A good weird, but weird nonethless.

J-Lo loved it.  Creepy Uncle Steven tosses his own scarf to Phillip2.  Randy the Dawg mocks Jimmy Iovine and Diddy for suggesting that Phillip2 drop the guitar and drop the grey outfits.

Looking like a cross between one of the chicks from ABBA crossed with a disco ball, Hollie Cavanaugh is going to be performing "Honesty", probably one of my least favorite Billy Joel songs.  I like it, but don't love it.

Lots of Billy Joel Ballads tonight... I wonder if Idols feel those are easier?   Dear goodness, Hollie Cav's pants are like, 8 feet long.  High waisted pants, with a disco ball top?  No thank you.

Creepy Uncle Steven says she was a little pitchy.  J-Lo loved it.  Randy the Dawg agreed with Creepy Uncle Steven Tyler.

Last season's My Next American Idol Haley Reinhart is in the audience!  Yay!

Coming in the 8th slot, its Hee Jun! (he'll take a sad song and make it better), and he'll being singing "My Life".  Interesting...

Diddy is trying to figure out Hee Jun! (he'll take a sad song and make it better), and questions if he's an actor... or a con man... or even Asian?  Tommy Hilfiger asks him who is fashion idols are, and he responds, "Jessica Sanchez... Michael Bolton..."  Tommy says, "I think Hee Jun! (he'll take a sad song and make it better) is testing me."

The song starts really slow, and he actually stops the piano player, saying, "This is much too slow... and I wanna dance!"  The music kicks in, he rips off his fancy schmancy shirt to reveal this goofy looking t-shirt.  The song itself sounds terrible.  But the whole thing is quite entertaining. 

I think Creepy Uncle Steven felt that Idol's credibility was taking a hit
Randy the Dawg and J-Lo are clapping, Creepy Uncle Steven Tyler is just staring, clearly not amused at all.  J-Lo says, "I don't think you hit the vocals exactly...", while Creepy Uncle Steven Tyler is, in a roundabout way telling him, "you need to take this more seriously, otherwise this business will beat the crap out of you."  Randy the Dawg enjoyed it.

And the Powers That Be that DO NOT want Hee Jun! (he'll take a sad song and make it better) to be the American Idol, are sweating hard right now... because though it sounded terrible, it was fun.  But I'm afraid his novelty is wearing thin, and honestly, besides Crappensuck, I think I'm ready for him to go home and not take up a spot that could be filled by Elise Testosterone or EVP.

What the crap is "Everybody Has a Dream"?  I've never heard this song in my whole life... anyway, its what J-Sanch is singing.   Well, for your info, its one of three songs that were NOT hits on "The Stranger" from 1977... the other six songs are immortal... "Movin' Out", "Scenes from" and "Only the Good Die Young" included. 

She just slayed that song, but I didn't like the song itself.  I mean, the judges are nuts about her, and they are right to be that way, but the song was kinda boring.

Last, but not least, its Colton Dixon.  Says The Lovely Steph Leann, "I hope he's doing 'Piano Man', because how can we have a Billy Joel night without 'Piano Man'?"  We wait for the song choice as Tommy Hilfiger goes on his fashion tangent.

The Lovely Steph Leann giggles in delight as Colton Dixon says, "I'm singing 'Piano Man'".  Plus, he's got the pimp spot, last for the night.  After hearing Colton do the song, Diddy says, "I wanted to buy this record from him."

Me: This... this sounds awesome.
The Lovely Steph Leann:  He's updated this song to make it modern.  This is awesome.  Campbell and I both vote yes.

J-Lo loved it.  Creepy Uncle Steven said it was stunning.  Randy the Dawg said it was sensitive and simple, but so good. 

Seacrusty asks him about the performance, and Colton just says, "I wanted God to use me."  Seacrusty then immediately goes to something else.  Oh, Seacrusty, you faker.

Best to worst:

Colton Dixon's "Piano Man"... Elise Testosterone's "Vienna"... EVP's "A New York State of Mind"... Joshua Ledet's "She's Got a Way"... Phillip2's "Movin' out (anthony's song)"... J-Sanch's "Everybody Has a Dream"... Skylar Laine's "Shameless"... Hollie Cav's "Honesty"... Hee Jun! (he'll take a sad song and make it better)'s "My Life"... That crap from D'Crappensuck

The Idol Who is Movin' Out

Here we are, another elimination episode... there are TEN, but in a little while, there will be NINE.  They took on Billy Joel, and some rose (E-Test, Colton), and some fell (Hee Jun! (he'll take a sad song and make it better), Hollie Cav) and some just continually suck it up (DeAndrea Crappensuck).




where only the least popular Idols die young...

J-Lo walks out in a very, very pink dress. 

Me: You can see that from space
The Lovely Steph Leann:  She's wearing a pink highlighter.

Seacrusty tells us that the group song is "The Longest Time", and The Lovely Steph Leann whines, "nooo... they are going to make it bad!"  This might be the first group song I've heard in about four seasons.

By the way, how can you not snap your fingers when you hear this tune?  To be honest, its not a bad version, mostly because the song itself is acapella anyway.  Still, I usually fast forward through these on general principal.

The Ford Music Video... fast forward

Commercial Break... fast forward

And we're back... Seacrusty says that the ten remaining already are going on tour, but the Top Nine moves in the Idol Hollywood mansion.

He then calls down Hollie Cav... Little Skylar Laine... and Elise Testosterone.  E-Test just hangs her head, with a comical sigh.  Jimmy Iovine says he was worried about Hollie Cav, and felt that Little Skylar Laine took a step back.  About E-Test, he said he basically loved it.

Dim the lights... here we go.  After the nationwide vote, America says Hollie Cav is safe.  Then he says, "The one moving into the Hollywood mansion is Little Skylar Laine..." then says, "And Elise Testostorone is safe too."  Oh, Seacrusty!  You faker!

Commerical break... fast forward

Lana del Rey... fast forward

Commercial break... fast forward

Random comment from The Lovely Steph Leann... "I just want Creepy Uncle Steven Tyler to wear like, the next size up, on his pants."

And outta nowhere, he comes Aerosmith lead guitarist Joe Perry, to help lead a "Happy Birthday" to Creepy Uncle Steven.  Am I a nerd because I not only notice that "Happy Birthday" is written in Comic Sans, but that I'm also bothered by it?  

I tell The Lovely Steph Leann that Joe Perry is from Aerosmith, and she says, "I know, I have been on Rock'n Roller Coaster!"

Now, Seacrusty tells us that DeAndre Crappensuck, Joshua Ledet and J-Sanch are next.  Jimmy Iovine says he told DeAndre to bounce, but not go out and frolic, like he did.  Jimmy Iovine liked Joshua, and loved J-Sanch.

Dim the lights... here we go!  After the nationwide vote, America loved J-Sanch's version of the Billy Joel song.  She is safe.  Joshua Ledet is also safe, and is headed to The Couch of Comfort.  DeAndre Crappensuck heads to the Silver Stools of Suck... thankfully.  Its a start.

Commercial Break... fast forward

Welcome back, Haley Reinhart
Last Year's My Next American Idol Haley Reinhart... not fast forward.  Actually wanted to hear it.  Its not bad.  But, finally, fast forward

Commerical Break... fast forward

And we're back... Seacrusty calls down Colton... EVP... Phillip2... and Hee Jun! (he'll take a sad song and make it better)... Jimmy Iovine says Colton has joined Joshua and J-Sanch to make this season of Idol a "three horse race".  Jimmy Iovine then says, in the real world be who you are--but in this competition, follow the mentor's advice.  Jimmy Iovine says EVP deserves to be at the top of the heap.  And finally, for Hee Jun! (he'll take a sad song and make it better), Jimmy Iovine takes Uncle Steven's harder comments and adds more. 

He then makes my point... "Interscope Records has to spend alot of money on who wins the show, and he's not it..."  And then Hee Jun! (he'll take a sad song and make it better) says, "I'm not trying to be a star." I'm thinking that perhaps he shouldn't be on the show, if that's the case.

Seacrusty sends Colton Dixon to the Couch of Comfort.  Then sends EVP to The Silver Stools of Suck.  Then sends Phillip2 to the Couch of Comfort, putting Hee Jun! (he'll take a sad song and make it better) to the Silver Stools of Suck.

Commerical Break... fast forward

Honestly... I don't like this.  I am afraid of how this going to turn out.  Seacrusty sends DeAndre Crappensuck back to the Couch of Comfort.  Suck it!

And finally... he says EVP has the least amount of votes, while Hee Jun! (he'll take a sad song and make it better) goes back to the Couch of Comfort.  I just don't agree with this.  The novelty is over, and Erika Van Pelt deserves to be here.

As I expected, the judges will not use their save on EVP... I think its too early in the show still.  Maybe in three weeks, EVP might have gotten it, but right now, no.  Sadness.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The 100 Coolest Things of 2011... #90 to 81

Let's continue our list of the Coolest 100 Things of the previous year... we've already looked at the 100th to 91st Coolest, so let's get to the next ten!

#90... Coin Dozer
What a colossal waste of time!  And I love it!

You know those time and money consuming carnival games where there is a pile of quarters sitting in front of a little wall that moves back and forth, and your job is to drop the quarter into the pile in the hopes that you place it in just such a way where the wall will push the quarters over the edge into the spot where you can reach in and grab them?

That's what this game is.  As a matter of fact, that's all this game is.  You are given a certain amount of coins, you aim and tap the screen, hoping the moving wall will knock more coins into your "prize pocket".  Also, prizes randomly drop, like sunglasses and teddy bears and dice and plush puppies and so on... got a few minutes?  Try Coin Dozer.  I've made it to over 100 levels and... wait, should I admit this?

This guy is the real deal.  And he's actually kinda
cool, at least with his intentions.
#89... "Superheroes"
What a great, bizarre documentary.  From IMDB:

'Superheroes' will introduce us to several of the country's most famous masked heroes including, Mr. Xtreme, a 33-year-old security guard officer by day, but a goon's worst nightmare by night. We'll follow Mr. Xtreme on his nightly patrols through the streets of San Diego, as he tries to stop evildoers and protect the innocent. We'll also meet the New York Initiative, a fantastic foursome of real life superheroes living together that tackle crime fighting, one Brooklyn borough at a time. Lead by Zimmer, we'll watch as they take to the streets and try to lure criminals out of hiding with their controversial Bait-Patrols. With over 300 registered superheroes in the United States, we'll definitively uncover the 'Real-Life Superhero' cultural phenomenon and discover what inspired these everyday citizens to take the law in to their own hands as they try to make the world a better and safer place for all.

In watching this movie, I just couldn't help being fascinated by these real-life superheroes.  Even going into the film, I wanted to openly mock some of these guys, especially the guy living with his mother, but by the end of the movie, I was rooting for them, and thought it was awesome that these men and women saw a problem--crime in their area--and wanted to do something about it.   And the documentary itself doesn't make fun of any of them... it simply tells their stories, letting them do much of the talking.  Great, fun movie.  And check out while you are at it.

88... "The Rainmaker" by John Grisham
From 1995, back hen John Grisham was consistently good (The Firm, The Pelican Brief, A Time to Kill, etc) and before Grisham became a tool (or at least a known tool... did you know he hates fan mail?  He hates people writing to him, and refuses to read anything, ever), "The Rainmaker" is a pretty good novel.

Rudy Baylor is a young lawyer who is on the verge of graduating law school, and the book chronicles first his efforts to find a law firm--there are issues with one after the other and his employment... second, an abused wife he meets and falls for in a hospital cafeteria... third, a case involving an old lady who becomes his landlord, and her will, plus the money grubbing family that wants it... and finally, making up the crux of the novel, a massive lawsuit against an insurance company, one that failed to provide health care to a family that resulted in the son becoming terminally ill--and eventually dying.

If it sounds like there are multiple subplots in this story, that's because there are.  Grisham has a habit of unfurling a few stories at a time, locked around a major one, sometimes intertwining, sometimes not, but this one seems to work.  There are a few loose ends that either he doesn't tie up satisfactorily, or even at all, but overall, it makes for a solid read.  The characters are worth investing in, and though some of it was a little predictable, it still came together quite nicely.

The movie, however, not so much.  After reading the book, I went out to Best Buy and found "The Rainmaker" on DVD in the $4.99 bin, and thought, "What the hey... why not?" and bought it.   Released in 1997, it stars Matt Damon as the lawyer Rudy Baylor, Claire Danes as the embattled wife Kelly, Jon Voight as the defending attorney Leo Drummond, and Danny DeVito as Rudy's partner, Deck.  Other names in the film include Mickey Rourke, Danny Glover, Virginia Madsen and Andy Shue.

I guess had I not finished the book the day before I watched the movie, it wouldn't have been so bad, but I was able to quickly figure out all the parts cut from the movie... heck, I was wondering how someone who hadn't read the book would even understand how one scene correlated to the next one as so many of the parts are tightly connected by stuff that didn't make the film.

It was well acted, but to me, not that great.  There are a hundred good courtroom dramas out there that you can rely on rather than this one... even the movie adaptations of the books I mentioned above are much better.

#87... "I Need a Dollar" by Aloe Blacc
You may have seen it on HBO's "How to Make It In America"... or maybe on the Boost Wireless commercial... or Conan or Jimmy Fallon's shows... or maybe heard it in a Starbucks... truthfully, I don't know where I heard it... but its addicting.

I need a dollar, dollar, dollar's what I need... I need a dollar, dollar, dollar's what I need (hey hey).

Check it out on iTunes and see if you like it.

#86... "Zookeeper"
Okay, I'll admit... this is an incredibly stupid, dopey movie.  The script is hokey... the acting is subpar... some of the jokes are flat... its got talking animals... its got talking animals... Sly Stallone IS a talking lion... but guess what?  I enjoyed it.

I went into this movie with very low expectations, and those expectations were completely met, even surpassed.  Understand--this is a fairly crappy movie.  Its stupid.  Its really stupid.  So why is it on this list?

It has "guilty pleasure" potential.  As in, I can imagine flipping through Starz in Black in March, and choosing between this and "The Departed" over on HBO, and since I am tired and just want something to be background noise, or just want something unencumbered by the thought process, then Kevin James wins. Try it out. If you let yourself, you might find yourself laughing a few times.

#85... Mr. Toad's Wild Ride
Taken as we walked into the attraction building
In our trip to Disneyland in May, we knew there were several rides in Anaheim that we've never seen in Lake Buena Vista, Florida... that is, in Disney World.  They've got the Alice in Wonderland ride out there, and the Nemo's Undersea Voyage and Autopia and California Screamin' (at California Adventure), all which were great... and then, there was one attraction that used to be at Disney World, but is no longer, yet is located in Fantasyland in Magic Kingdom.

That would be Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, the attraction based on the movie "The Adventures of Ichabod & Mr. Toad", and its a rollicking "dark ride" where you board a little car and then tour through the Toad Hall, Winkie's Pub, town hall and then, naturally, Hell. 

At Magic Kingdom, the attraction closed in 1998 and was replaced by The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.  Despite the many protests and calls for its return, the Disney Imagineers answered those calls... by placing a Mr. Toad gravestone statue in the pet cemetary outside of the Haunted Mansion.  And in the Pooh ride itself, one of the opening scenes shows Mr. Toad handing a deed over to Owl.

Not one of my all time favorite rides, but I liked it nonetheless.

#84... "The Help"
What can I say?  I liked this movie. 

I won't spend too much time on the specifics of this movie, as we all kind of know by now its a group of black housekeepers in the early 60s who are interviewed for a book by a white reporter about their living standards and such.

The ensemble cast is outstanding, with Viola Davis as Abileen and Octavia Spencer as Minny (who won an Oscar a few weeks back for this role) as the main housekeepers in the group, Emma Stone with the jacked up curly hair as Skeeter, the reporter writer chick, and various good and bad "housewives", played by Jessica Chastain (who got an Supporting Actress nod), Ashley Johnson and a great villianous turn played by Bryce Dallas Howard.

Its a movie that was made for awards, tackling Civil Rights, though I think the subject of the movie is actually better than the movie itself... does that make any sense?  Like, if you take Heath Ledger out of "Brokeback Mountain" and put in Natalie Portman instead, making it a hetero story and not a homo-story, I think "Brokeback Mountain" becomes a forgettable love story that gets very little notice.  You can't say "take out the race aspect of 'The Help' and it becomes a forgettable story" because race is the story, but I think you get my point.

The movie is well acted, the script is well written, though I can't tell you how it compares to Kathryn Stockett's book (I started it, got bored and put it down... will eventually read the whole thing).  Davis and Spencer are great in their roles and deserved their accolades, and as I mentioned, BDHoward is perfectly just mean, but I don't know that I really liked Emma Stone here--don't get me wrong, I dig some Emma, but still.  All the white chicks smoke, as per the culture of the day, but when Emma did, I didn't buy it.  Her curly hair was a little odd, and maybe she was a little mis-cast.  Who else could have done it?  I dunno.  And maybe if I see it again, I'll completely go with Emma here.

Which presents the issue... I dont know that I necessarily want to see it again.  Being featured on this countdown will tell you that I didn't think it was a bad film--nay, I thought it was a great movie, and I'm glad I saw it... but it didn't change my life, and when all is said and done, I don't know that it will be on my list of my Top 500 films of all time.    And truthfully, if this is on Starz in Black (what else would it be on?) in late 2012, I might still watch something else... perhaps "Zookeeper". 

#83... Jersey Mike's Subs
Man I love this place.  Big, thick bread, they slice the meat right in front of you, the cheese is fresh, and the prices are reasonable.  I do enjoy a Subway sandwich every now and then, but I do love to indulge in some Jersey Mike submarine sandwiches.  Dig it.

#82... "Thor"
One of the many superhero movies I've seen in the last few years, and one of several that make this countdown for 2011... here's what I wrote on June 21st:

Its a great movie. Chris Helmsworth is fantastic as Thor, and Tom Hiddleston is perfect as the weaker, yet smarter Loki. The effects are quite stunning, with the color and splendor of Asgard, the superhero explosions and superpowers you'd expect to find in a super hero movie, and to top it all off, the story is solid too. Again, I wasn't expecting nearly as much as I got out of the movie.

Even Natalie Portman was good--yes, we know she's a good actress, yes, we know she won an Oscar for "Black Swan", but in movies that aren't serious, she tends to mail her performance in (see: prequels, Star Wars), but she actually isn't that bad. Of course, there is stuff at the end of the credits, so stick around for that...

(see the full review, plus more reviews on "Devil" and "Three Days of the Condor", by clicking here)

#81... Brava Rotisserie Grill
Sitting next to Publix on Valleydale Road is a Subway shop.  Next to it used to be a Jungle Juice Smoothie place, but it now sits empty.  Next to it is a UPS Store.  And on the corner is used to be a coffee place called The Bean Hole... but no longer.  Oh, nay nay. 

Currently, there is a little chicken place called Brava, and its good food.  Its great food.  The chicken is grilled over a rotisserie with just the right amount of spice, while the fries are served with this awesome seasoning kind of stuff... each plate gets a piece of pita, with a little hummus and some dipping sauce, which is fantastic.

I know that Hurricane Rhett doesn't like it much, but his wife Amarylis by Mornin (up from san antone) really loves it... which helps the cause of myself and The Lovely Steph Leann when we four are looking for an after-church lunch spot.  (update:  they are no longer open on Sundays.  Frowny face)

I would say that I'll eat there tonight for dinner, but we had it last night... perhaps I'll hit Jersey Mike's. 

Coming up... the financial gain of Hot Coffee... a Disney makeover... and Misery.  And later... one of the best apps I've ever owned...

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

And No Sauce: A Dinner Out Lament

Why is it that I can't get a great experience while eating out?  I mean, I can't complain too much--I'm eating out.  I'm eating food, good food, and I've got the money to do so.  I'm sure those kids in Darfur would love to have some Full Moon BBQ chicken, sauce or not, for dinner.

But if I'm paying hard earned money, can I not just get what I want, especially if I speak clearly, friendly enough and with concise ordering perfection?

Case 1... Taco Bell
I've discussed this at length in previous posts, but I just don't understand how hard it is to leave something off.  I mean, I'm not asking for a precise amount of lettuce on my taco, I'm actually asking you to do LESS work.  Not putting lettuce on my taco is a step you don't have to take.  Just don't do it. 

But IF you do, then you need to be nice enough about it to say, "Oh, hey, my bad dawg... let me fix you another one real quick like..." because while I've never worked at a Taco Bell, I've watched from my perch on the other side of the counter, and let me tell ya, it ain't hard.  It ain't rocket science.

But the worse thing is not only when they screw it up, they actually leave it out of the bag.  Twice.  TWICE have I gotten home without my entire order.  And TWICE have I gotten back in my car to go back and get my paid for but not received food... the first was a soft shell taco, only meat and cheese, and the second was a cheesy roll up.  Both times did I say, "Hey, I got home and realized I didn't have my (insert which one at that time), so I came back up here to get it", and both times I was greeted with a simple sigh, a fake smile, and a piece of food tossed at me with a "sorryboutthat".  And I don't think they meant it.

When I left, I'm fairly certain that they were probably telling each other how dumb I was for, "coming all the way back up here for a taco?  man, is it that important?  it ain't but 89 cents..."

Yes, its that important.  Its the principle. 

But, with the couldn't-care-less resolution, I didn't leave a satisfied customer.

Case 2... Full Moon BBQ
Out of the three main BBQ places here in town, I think Full Moon is my favorite.  Jim-n-Nicks is good, and their cheddar biscuits are the bomb diggity dot org, but Jim-n-Nicks has two things against it--its pricey and its usually overly crowded.  Sunday lunch for two is a commitment, usually taking well over an hour and resulting in a bill of about $25 to $30--and that's two sweet teas, and two plates, and maybe sharing a piece of pie, maybe not.  The other known place in town is Johnny Ray's, and I tend to find their chicken to be a bit dry.  Its good, just not great. 

Our dear Aunt Becky is here this weekend, and Thursday night, I was given the task of going to get dinner at Full Moon. I like this place because its right down Hwy 280 from The Cabana, its reasonably priced and... well, the food is excellent. 

But I don't like BBQ sauce.  Sorry, I just don't.  I don't like sweet sauce, I don't dig on tangy sauce, or hot sauce or honey sauce or anything else... hence, I don't eat ribs often.  That's just the way I'm built. 

So when I order my BBQ chicken, I use the words "and no sauce" about four or five times in the conversation.  I use it often enough to hear the cashier repeat the words back to me, letting me know that she understands "and no sauce".

A few minutes later, my order comes up, and stupid me, I don't check it.  I get home, give Aunt Becky her pulled pork plate, I give The Lovely Steph Leann her veggie plate, and am ready to open up my own plate and chow down...

...again, not that I'm complaining, but this is an evening that followed a day that had me up at 3am (i must be lonely), picking up Hot Manager Melanie at 350a, picking up a few other managers and going to Atlanta to tour stores.  So, I've driven 350+ miles and I'm just flat out tired, not to mention that I have to be back up at 4am on Friday morning to work all day. 

I open the plate, and there's a big heaping helping of thick, what I can presume to be tasty but I wouldn't know, dark BBQ sauce all over the chicken.  This is actually the third time this has happened, though the other two times I wasn't doing the picking up and was far enough away from Full Moon to not make a return trip viable.  However, this night, I'm at The Cabana. I just frown, close the lid, put it back in the bag and walk right back out to the garage.

Its right at 9p, and they are closing.  However, I make it in the door before she locks it (I think she was headed that way) and the chick who rang me up recognized me.  "Is everything okay?" she asks, already knowing the answer.  "Well... I asked for no sauce, and there is BBQ sauce all over my chicken.  I need to get a new plate."

She responds friendly enough, and I follow her to the counter.  The manager comes up, I politely explain the situation, and he apologizes about four times.  One of the Full Moon'ers offers me some tea, and I gladly accept.  Meanwhile, I hear the manager in the back saying loudly, "And NO SAUCE on that chicken!  NO SAUCE!!"  He offers me an extra side, then a piece of pie... both of which I politely refuse.  Yes, extra fries would have been good, and a piece of chocolate pie would have been good, but I didn't need either, and I really just wanted my chicken, to go home and have dinner, then go to bed.

Perhaps next time I should lead with "And no sauce on the chicken I'm ordering right now."

However, I did leave a satisfied customer.

Don't get me wrong, I love Pablos.  I love the atmosphere, I love the band that plays, I love the fun servers that are there, I love the deck, and the food is exceptional.  

But for whatever reason, sour cream eludes my order.  See, I don't like lettuce.  And I don't like spicy things.  But I do like tacos and quesadillas, and what makes it all better is sour cream.  Enough sour cream on any Mexican dish, and its a tasty meal.  But when I order my meal, and always order it with sour cream on the side, one of two things happen... either the plop a little dollop of sour cream atop a bed of shredded lettuce, which makes it hard to separate what I love and what I hate, or they just forget it altogether, and by the time I remind them and they bring it, everyone is half done with their food, and mine is only lukewarm.  Having said that, understand that Pablos is my favorite authentic Americanized Mexican cuisine--but this is the only area where they are grouped with others... all Mexican places forget my sour cream.  If fact, we visited the genuine Mexican place at Epcot... no, not the pyramid, the other one.  And guess what?  They forgot my sour cream.

By the way, Pablo's was still better.  Just sayin'.

Last time at Pablo's, they got the sour cream part right.  A bowl of the white heavenly condiment topping came out with my meal, my fish tacos ordered with "NO LETTUCE", and it was great.  However, in my tacos--Lettuce.  Tons of it.  And its mixed with the shredded cheese.  So removing the lettuce removes 94% of any cheese on the tacos. 

I didn't ask for another taco, I just went with it.  Sigh.

The company was more than satisfactory.  The dinner was satisfactory.  The lettuce was not. 

There's a new pizza place in town, but I'm afraid to mention it, because I don't want the following anecdote to dissuade you from going--its excellent pizza, and I will go back because it is such a good meal at a good price... so rather than call it Marco's, I'll just call it The Pizza Place.

...but never again on a Friday night.  Once again, I was sent out to retrieve dinner for The Lovely Steph Leann and Aunt Becky, and once again, it wasn't as easy as I wanted it to be.  I arrived at The Pizza Place at 739p, and made my order at 746p.  Its busy, so I'm thinking that it might be a good 20 or 30 minutes before my pizza, sub and cheezybread would be ready.

Time ticks slowly by, as I hear a woman come in who has "three starving children, so can I go ahead and order cheezybread?  Please get that in, and then I'll order the pizza..." and another guy who came in and said, "Yep, I just want some cheezybread and a large pepperoni..."

I can tell, however, that things aren't going as swimmingly as it should be, as the people behind the counter seem a bit frantic.  There is a nearby restaurant that I also frequent for lunch, and the couple who run that establishment apparently are the aunt and uncle of the owner of The Pizza Place, and the uncle was there telling me how they never expected to be as busy as they are.  Their cafe is rather small, but it wasn't meant to hold a ton of people--the expectations were they would have pretty good delivery/carry out, and a cafe to hold a few patrons.

And when they started doing gangbusters, the whole staff was caught off guard. 

The aunt of the owner saw me and said hello, and asked me how long I had been waiting. I looked at the receipt, did the quick math and replied, "about 45 minutes." Then, still politely, I added, "you know, you probably should tell people it's going to be awhile for food--I probably wouldn't have ordered if I had known it would take this long."

Now, I must mention to you Brenda, across the counter. I'm sure she is a very nice lady, and I'm going to give her doubt's benefit in saying she was probably stressed, but she had the bedside manner of a wet mop. At the moment I was talking to Auntie, and giving my "truth about the wait" suggestion, I heard Brenda finish up an order on the phone by saying, "oh, it will be about 20 minutes." When Brenda hung up, Auntie said, "he's right. Don't tell people 20. You need to be saying 45 or 50."

The wait continued.  A few minutes later, the lady with the three kids who were starving came back up... "Um... we've been here for 45 minutes, and we don't even have cheezybread.  You didn't say it would take so long... my kids are still starving..." and at the same time, the dude who just wanted some cheezybread and pepperoni came up, saying, "Yeah, so we never got our bread.  Our pizza is half eaten already, so can we just cancel the bread?"

At the same time, I observed a couple who came in, and told Brenda, "We ordered our pizza an hour and 10 minutes ago for delivery... well, we only live 5 minutes away, so we figured we would just come get it."  Brenda gave a big sigh, and said, "What's your name and house number?"
Baseball players like Wes gotta eat too
Over in the corner, Major League Baseball player Wes Helms sat with a buddy.  He saw me and we both waved.  "Waiting for your pizza?" I asked.  "Yeah, man, been here for about an hour."

The one common denominator for all of these stories is simply this:  We LOVE the pizza, but didn't want to wait this long.  And its true--The Pizza Place has great pizza, so much so that we chose this on Friday over just ordering Papa John's across the street from The Cabana. 

Finally, 56 minutes after I placed my order, I was given a pizza, a sub and a box of cheezybread.  For my troubles, I was also given a good coupon for next time, a cup to get myself a refreshing beverage, and a two-liter to take home. 

In short, I waited forever, and was starving by the time I got home.  But the steak-n-cheese sub was excellent, and the pizza for Aunt Becky and The Lovely Steph Leann was great, according to them, so we were satisfied customers.

So there ya go.  Four cases of food service travails.  White people problems?  Sure.  First world problems?  Absolutely.  Blessed life troubles?  Yup.

But problems and troubles nonetheless.  I would imagine much of life's problems would be fixed, though, if they'd just include the cheesy roll-up, leave off the lettuce and warn me that my food might take almost an hour to prepare.

Oh, and leave off the sauce.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Say This, Not That

From the file entitled "Stuff I Didn't Write but Wish I Could Take Credit For"...

You never mean: Could care less
You always mean: Couldn’t care less
Why: You want to say you care so little already that you couldn’t possibly care any less. When the Boston Celtics’ Ray Allen said, “God could care less whether I can shoot a jump shot,” we know he meant exactly the opposite because 1) God has other things on his mind, and 2) God is a Knicks fan.

You might say: Mano a mano
You might mean: Man-to-man
Why: You don’t speak Spanish by adding vowels to the end of English words, as a columnist describing father–teenage son relationships seemed to think when he wrote, “Don’t expect long, mano a mano talks.” Mano a mano (literally, “hand to hand”) originated with bullfighting and usually refers to a knock-down, drag-out direct confrontation.

You might say: Less
You might mean: Fewer
Why: In general, use fewer when you’re specifying a number of countable things (“200 words or fewer”); reserve less for a mass (“less than half”). So when you’re composing a tweet, do it in 140 characters or fewer, not less.

You never mean: Hone in
You always mean: Home in
Why: Like homing pigeons, we can be single-minded about finding our way to a point: “Scientists are homing in on the causes of cancer.” Hone means “to sharpen”: “The rookie spent the last three seasons honing his skills in the minor leagues.” But it’s easy to mishear m’s and n’s, which is probably what happened to the Virginia senator who said, “We’ve got to hone in on cost containment.” If you’re unsure, say “zero in” instead.

You might say: Bring
You might mean: Take
Why: The choice depends on your point of view. Use bring when you want to show motion toward you (“Bring the dog treats over here, please”). Use take to show motion in the opposite direction (“I have to take Rufus to the vet”). The rule gets confusing when the movement has nothing to do with you. In those cases, you can use either verb, depending on the context: “The assistant brought the shot to the vet” (the vet’s point of view); “the assistant took the shot to the doctor” (the assistant’s).

You might say: Who
You might mean: Whom
Why: It all depends. Do you need a subject or an object? A subject (who) is the actor of the sentence: “Who left the roller skates on the sidewalk?” An object (whom) is the acted-upon: “Whom are you calling?” Parents, hit the Mute button when Dora the Explorer shouts, “Who do we ask for help when we don’t know which way to go?”

You almost never mean: Brother-in-laws, runner-ups, hole in ones, etc.
You almost always mean: Brothers-in-law, runners-up, holes in one, etc.
Why: Plurals of these compound nouns are formed by adding an s to the thing there’s more than one of (brothers, not laws). Some exceptions: words ending in ful (mouthfuls) and phrases like cul-de-sacs.

You almost never mean: Try and
You almost always mean: Try to
Why: Try and try again, yes, but if you’re planning to do something, use the infinitive form: “I’m going to try to run a marathon.” Commenting on an online story about breakups, one woman wrote, “A guy I dated used to try and impress me with the choice of books he was reading.” It’s no surprise that the relationship didn’t last.

You almost never mean: Different than
You almost always mean: Different from
Why: This isn’t the biggest offense, but if you can easily substitute from for than (My mother’s tomato sauce is different from my mother-in-law’s), do it. Use than for comparisons: My mother’s tomato sauce is better than my mother-in-law’s.

You almost never mean: Beg the question
You almost always mean: Raise the question
Why: Correctly used, “begging the question” is like making a circular argument (I don’t like you because you’re so unlikable). But unless you’re a philosophy professor, you shouldn’t ever need this phrase. Stick to “raise the question.”

You might say: More than
You can also say: Over
Why: The two are interchangeable when the sense is “Over 6,000 hats were sold.” We like grammarian Bryan Garner’s take on it: “The charge that over is inferior to more than is a baseless crotchet.”
You almost never mean: Supposably
You almost always mean: Supposedly
Why: Supposably is, in fact, a word—it means “conceivably”—but not the one you want if you’re trying to say “it’s assumed,” and certainly not the one you want if you’re on a first date with an English major or a job interview with an English speaker.

You might say: All of
You probably mean: All
Why: Drop the of whenever you can, as Julia Roberts recently did, correctly: “Every little moment is amazing if you let yourself access it. I learn that all the time from my kids.” But you need all of before a pronoun (“all of them”) and before a possessive noun (“all of Julia’s kids”).

You might say: That
You might mean: Which
Why: “The money that is on the table is for you” is different from “the money, which is on the table, is for you.” That pinpoints the subject: The money that is on the table is yours; the money in my pocket is mine. Which introduces an aside, a bit of extra information. If you remove “which is on the table,” you won’t change the meaning: The money is for you (oh, and unless you don’t want it, it’s on the table). If the clause is necessary to your meaning, use that; if it could safely be omitted, say which.

You never mean: Outside of
You always mean: Outside
Why: These two prepositions weren’t meant for each other. Perfectly acceptable: “Wearing a cheese-head hat outside Wisconsin will likely earn you some stares and glares (unless you’re surrounded by Green Bay Packers fans, that is).”

You might say: Each other
You might mean: One another
Why: Tradition says that each other should be used with two people or things, and one another with more than two, and careful speakers should follow suit: “The three presenters argued with one another over who should announce the award, but Ann and Barbara gave each other flowers after the ceremony.” (By the way, if you need the possessive form of either one when writing that business letter, it’s always each other’s and one another’s; never end with s’.)

8 Confusing Pairs
leery, wary: suspicious
weary: tired

farther: for physical distance
further: for metaphorical distance or time

principle: rule
principal: of your school

compliment: nice thing to say
complement: match

continual: ongoing but intermittent
continuous: without interruption

stationary: stands still
stationery: paper

imply: to suggest a meaning
infer: to draw meaning from something

affect: typically a verb, meaning “to act upon or cause an effect”; as a noun, it’s “an emotional response”
effect: typically a noun, meaning “something produced,” like a special effect; as a verb, “to bring about,” as in “to effect change”

Read the original article right here.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Idols Born Music (ie, the episode where I feel old)

Controversy.  Its no stranger to America's favorite show for years and years.  Remember Frenchie, the big black diva who had lude pics of her pop up on the interwebs?  And that dude who claimed he got a little freaky deaky with Paula the Flake?  And we've had numerous Idols who have been let go from the show directly because of legal violations and things such as that, especially when they hide things from producers.  Why these guys don't come clean to begin with, I'll never know... with the power of the interwebs, Google and even Wikipedia, you can find just about anything out about anyone else.

Enter Big Daddy Jermaine Jones.  He had a little brush up with the law last year, including outstanding warrants for stuff involving assault and such. AND he told producers that he was abandoned by his Daddy when he was 10, which didn't make sense to Daddy Jones, who says he talks to his son all the time.  When producers of Idol found this out, they became suspicious and did some digging, and viola!  Law problems. 

But that doesn't stop Seacrusty! 



Tonight's theme is "Songs from the Year You Were Born", which we are told will be from 1983 to 1994... The Lovely Steph Leann gasped.  "No more 70s!!"

Jimmy Iovine is back in the hizzy, and this time, talking to Will.I.Am to help mentor the Idols.

First up, in the lead-off spot, its Phillip2, who was born in 1990.  Phillip2 is telling Jimmy Iovine and Will.He.Is that he's got to head to the hospital to get surgery for kidney stones.  Wait... what?

But he pushes through!  He will be singing The Black Crowes "Hard to Handle"... thats from 1990?  Wow.  And another Wow is that he sounds pretty good... he isn't moving a lot, but he seems like he's recovering well. 

The judges rave about him and the fact he's back and sounded good. 

Last week, J-Sanch dominated the show by dominating "I Will Always Love You"... this week?  She's picking "Turn the Beat Around", the Gloria Estefan version from 1995.  I was a sophomore in college, heading into my junior year.  I was 9 days shy of 20 when J-Sanch was born.  It always makes me feel old to know I could be this kids dad. 

Jimmy Iovine and Will.I.Am have told her she is a "Swaggernaut".  No Will.I.Am, no Jimmy.  No, you dont'.  That's horrible.

After hearing this song several times in the last few seasons of Idol, I'm convinced that you cannot do a "blow the audience away" version of this song.  Plus, her pants look like a disco ball threw up on them.  Not good times.

That was terrible. How did she fall that fast in a week?!  Creepy Uncle Steven didn't like it, enough to garner boos.  J-Lo loved the pants, told her is was just so-so.  Randy the Dawg lifts her up by telling her she's one of the greatest in this season's Idol, but then bursts her bubble by saying "Eh."

J-Sanch then tells us that from 1995, she didn't have alot to choose from.  Which, I can totally believe that, actually.

Now, we have our resident class clown, Hee Jun! (he'll take a sad song and make it better), who is taking on some Richard Marx... "Right Here Waiting", probably the quinessential love song from 1989.

I think Richard Marx is somewhat underrated as an artist, because he truly had some memorable pop hits... I say this in all seriousness, I'm not joking here.

My favorite Richard Marx song is "Hazard", but I do enjoy "Endless Summer Nights", and I even have the 45 of it... I also like "Shoulda Known Better" and "Don't Mean Nothing". 

All that being said, I can imagine Will.I.Am's thoughts when an Asian, Hee Jun! (he'll take a sad song and make it better) takes on one of the whitest songs in the history of the world... "What kinda white fruit booty song this is?"

Now, I managed to type all of that during his performance because... well, its boring.  The best part about this entire thing is his gawd-awful bow tie thing he's going on.  And that's saying something.  

Randy the Dawg says it was the wrong song for Hee Jun! (he'll take a sad song and make it better)... J-Lo says she felt his heart... Creepy Uncle Steven says it was a bit breathy and outside of his circle. 

Back from the break, its Elise Testosterone!  She's coming back after a bad week in which she almost went home... thankfully, she didn't though, because I am rather fond of E-Test at this point.  I mean, she's not Baylie Brown! (long live Baylie Brown!) but she'll do.

Now, The Reverend Al Green did the immortal and amazing classic "Let's Stay Together" in the early 70s, and we've already deduced that no one was born before 1983--Elise Testosterone herself--but E-Test is actually covering Tina Turner's cover of Al Green's "Let's Stay Together".

Receiving last week's only save of the season, as she sat on the Bottom Two with Jeremy Risotto, I'm hope that E-Test will bring it.  In other words, Will.I.Am just said the word "inner Negro".  Then they do a split screen with E-Test and He Who Must Not Be ReElected.  Yes, that one.

And she is doing awesome... starting out slow atop a piano, she brings it, channeling her inner Negro and becomes my favorite of the night thusfar.

The judges just all loved it, as they should. 

And, in the low point of the night, its D'Kenny G, born in 1994.  And here's what Annie on EW had to say about D'Kenny G:

A woman had come up to DeAndre Brackensick's parents and predicted that he would someday be on American Idol when he was 4. Four!!! I just thought you might need another reminder of how young these kids are, and how old you are. Gosh are you old. DeAndre struggled with song choice this week, and I think he should have gone with his original idea, "Can You Feel the Love Tonight," instead of Mariah Carey and Luther Vandross' cover of Lionel Richie and Diana Ross' "Endless Love." No teenager has ever heard of that song. Trust me, I know all of the teenagers. Not really; I know less than 10, and sometimes I read their Facebook updates but only because we're related.

I think he should have gone with the Lion King song, if only for the Mufasa mane connection.  Get this kid off of the stage before I go through myself into a wildabeest stampede.

J-Lo says it was sung beautiful.  Blech.  She says that Jimmy Iovine steered him wrong.  Creepy Uncle Steven says it was the wrong song.  Randy the Dawg says it was wrong, and boring. 

Shannon Magrane was born in 1995.  Again, I'm old.

Jimmy Iovine gives her the song he suggests by using the fourteen word name of the phone he's holding up, while Will.He.Is looks on to the product placement.  No Doubt's "Don't Speak" is what they are pushing, but she vies for "One Sweet Day" by Boyz II Men and Mariah Carey. 

I worked at the Carmike 10 in Montgomery, Alabama during the fall of 1995, with Bobby Black and Lisa Turk, and when I would do a stint as a ticket taker, I'd hear this song during "Movie Tunes".  Understand that "Movie Tunes" was on a 30 minute loop.  So I'd hear this song about 10 to 16 times in a shift.  Maybe that's why its not one of my favorites by Boyz or Mariah.

J-Lo says that her (Shannon Magrane) singing Boyz and Mariah terrified her (J-Lo), and Randy the Dawg agree.  The he says, "America has fallen in love with you".  Why do I feel like that just signed her death warrant?  Creepy Uncle Steven Tyler says it was good too.

Let's hear from Colton Dixon now, who tells us about how awesome it was to meet one of his own Idols, Chris Daughtry.  Born in 1991, Colton Dixon is going to be singing a song by White Lion.  No, not "Wait", which would have frackin' ruled.  And not "When the Children Cries", which is probably good.  Will.He.Is says, That song, Broken Heart, no one knows... the band barely knew that song..."

Whatever this song is, Colton Dixon is owning it, and sounds like he stepped right out of 1991's radio airwaves.   I say this to The Lovely Steph Leann, and she replies, "Yeah (pause, then sigh).  Back when music was good."

J-Lo says she had never heard this song, but loved Colton's version.  Creepy Uncle Steven says, "I think it was the wrong song for your voice and your passion..."  Randy the Dawg says that Colton was dope. 

Catching up with the mid-80s, its Erika Van Pelt!  I do love me some EVP.  She's going to throw down on the rocker ballad "Heaven" from Bryan Adams in 1985.  As EVP starts sing, the video screen behind her as this weird staircase behind her, moving upward, and as she moves forward, it makes an odd dynamic.  I'm lost.

Now, she's singing the fool out of this song and sounds great, but I feel like she will not truly own the week until they do a Heart themed episode.  I'd love to hear her version of "Barracuda" or maybe "Crazy on You".

Creepy Uncle Steven tells her it was too busy, and a bad arrangement, but he loves her voice.  J-Lo says she didn't like the arrangement, but loved her. Randy the Dawg says basically the same. 

And Seacrusty busts up with the info about Big Daddy Jermaine Jones.  And in a ratings ploy a serious interview, they essentially blindside him on camera by the producers, who sit him down and run through his charges while sitting in front of him, and then say, "You didn't reveal this to us."   Big Daddy Jermaine says he was never in a fight, he just fell, but was charged over a disagreement. 

Lesson?  You get on Idol, you tell the producers EV-AH-REE-THING.  The Idol producers tell him that they are not allowed to have anyone on the show who have outstanding warrants and they let him go.  Then they show him throwing down on "Somewhere Out There" during rehearsal.  I hate to see this guy go.  Why couldn't freakin' DeAndre be busted for crack or something? 

Okay, back to the performances, here's Little Skylar Laine, who tells the judges "Y'all are being mean!"  They should all thank their stars that Simon Cowell is long gone, because he would eat some of these kids for breakfast.

Skylar Laine was born in 1994, and is doing Bonnie Raitt's "Love's Sneaking Up On You".  Jimmy Iovine and Will.I.Am suggest Coolio's "Fantastic Voyage", which although would be stinkin' awesome, it would also have the potential to be a flaming debacle of hippo poop.  Which would still be awesome.

Gotta tell ya, this is one of my least favorite Bonnie Raitt songs.  She does it well, just don't like the song.

Creepy Uncle Steven loved it.  J-Lo loved it.  Randy the Dawg loved it.

Seacrusty introduces Joshua Ledet, and mentions how Joshua Ledet misses crawfish from back home, and then they wheel out a huge bucket of crawfish.  Seacrusty is just being shellfish.

Joshua is from 1992, and is singing "When a Man Loves a Woman", the Michael Bolton version.  I'm not sure I like this whole "singing a version from a certain year that is a remake of a song that came out 20 years earlier."

The Lovely Steph Leann agrees with me.  See, Joshua Ledet is sounding more like Percy Sledge than Michael Bolton here. 

Joshua rips off his jacket and keeps rolling, and let me just tell ya, he just owned the stage and simply dominated.  What J-Sanch was to last week, Joshua was to this week. 

Randy the Dawg just dropped the "Oh my gawd!" like, then J-Lo says, "The best thing I've seen on American Idol".  Then Creepy Uncle Steven just gushes for a minute or so. 

I agree. He just brought it. 

And in the pimp spot tonight, its Hollie Cav, who was born July 5th, 1993.  I was headed towards Troy State's orientation that weekend, and met Lisa Turk and Cyndi Bledsoe that night.  Awesome.

What is she doing tonight?  Celine Dion's "The Power of Love", a song loved by most females 28 and up.  Hollie Cav almost looks stunning, but huge strips of fabric are missing from the part of the dress that cover her legs, thighs and bum. 

J-Lo says, "You and Joshua... saved the best for last, huh!?"  Creepy Uncle Steven invokes the name of God and Heaven for the 49th time this episode in describing Hollie Cav, and Randy the Dawg says she just blew this song outta the box.

Here's how I rank 'em...

Joshua Ledet's "When a Man Loves a Woman"... Colton Dixon's "Broken Heart"... Elise Testosterone's "Let's Stay Together"... Hollie Cav's "The Power of Love"... EVP's "Heaven"... Little Skylar Laine's "Love's Sneaking Up on You"... Phillip2's "Hard to Handle"... Shannon Magrane's "One Sweet Day"... Hee Jun! (he'll take a sad song and make it better)'s "Right Here Waiting"... J-Sanch's "Turn The Beat Around"... whatever crap D'Kenny G did tonight.

Who goes home?  Keep scrolling.