Sunday, May 27, 2012

saluting dad

On this Memorial Day, as another reminder that its not all BBQ and Mythbusters Marathons on Discovery Channel (not that there is anything wrong with either of those, though I'm glad that  Travel Channel isn't having a Samantha Brown marathon--I wouldn't move for 12 straight hours), I thought I'd post a couple of pictures I came across...

When visiting my Mama over Easter weekend, I went through several boxes of things that pictures that belonged to me, yet I had forgotten I had... and I thought it was awesome that I found a few pictures of my Dad.  Well, he's my grandfather, if you read this post you'll understand, but I grew up calling him Dad, and that's how he shall be remembered.

He served our country in World War II and Korea as an airplane mechanic.  Not sure he saw a whole lot of combat, but anyone who served in WWII is someone I consider part of a group that "saved the world".  Saved the world from the Germans, saved the world from tyranny, saved the world from the bad guys.  Saved the world.

I do believe John Dollar retired a Sergeant Major in the Air Force,
with a full military funeral when he passed in August of 2000

In a picture I had never seen before, this is Dad working
on one of the many airplanes he fixed.  Handy, that
one was.  On the back is written "In my work clothes"

Thought this was a hoot... the back of the picture, in his
messy scrawl, says "the chow hound".  I can only assume
that is a bottle of Coke he's holding, and in the 40s, I'm
guessing that is a fantastic bottle of cola.

Caption on the back writes, "Me under the nose of an attack plane".  Can't
help but think of Brad Pitt in "Inglorious Basterds" wanting him some
Nah-zi scalps

Caption on back says, "A few of the planes here for Air Force Day, 1947". 
Not sure where "here" is.

"My squadron in flight.  The 41st".  Yes, it took me a few minutes to figure out that the plane formation said "41".   How great is this?

And finally, no date or caption written on this one.  But
I thought it was still a great shot.

So that's my Dad, back in the day.  And like all the rest who serve, he was a hero.  No, he didn't die in a gunfight, or a roadside bomb, or saving the lives of his fellow Air Force countrymen, or in some dramatic fashion... he died of old age from many of the problems that plague older gentlemen.  But he was still a hero.

Thanks to my younger brother Shawn who was/is a Marine, to my cousins Steven and John, thanks to The Big Wasyluka, thanks to Gemini & Heather King, thanks to Joey the Marine Husband, thanks to Kirk (Tiff Abbott's boo), and thanks to all the service men and women who do what you do, voluntarily.  And thanks to the families who give them up and let them serve, who sit by the phone and stare at pictures missing their loved ones and constantly pray for safety. 

U-S-A!  U-S-A! 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

the wet onesie of life

I've noticed something.  My son, who will be 6 months old next week, likes being dressed.  And truthfully, though I'll worry if this doesn't change by the time he's 12 or so, but he likes being naked.  Really, he doesn't care. 

It's the in-between that drives Campbell up the bonker wall.  He typically has a litle hissy fit when I change his clothes, especially if the onesie I have is something that pulls over his head (taking it off is a quick stretch of the collar and up and over that noggin... putting it on is more of a handle, as many times he wiggles his head and the onesie gets stuck covering his face--not his favorite, I can tell you.)  There are exceptions, of course, because sometimes he's just dead tired, or he's really playful and he doesn't cry... but he does do his best Bend it Like Beckham and kicks his legs out at a surprisingly strong and rapid pace, while trying to turn over all the while. 

Listen up, Daddy.  Pay attention and you might learn something, eh?
I know what Scripture says about Hell, its all black and dark and bottomless pit and all that (I'm not going, so it doesn't scare me, personally) but if I found that one of the hidden missing Scriptures also included a verse that said Hell was also "verily a place where ye shall be in total darkness, forced to snap the buttons on the legs of an infant onesie together, whilst at the same time the child verily doth be kicking for all of eternally eternity...", it wouldn't shock me on iota.  Its a terrible thing, especially at 239 in the morning.  Not that I would know.

Back to changing him... mostly he just cries. 

He also cries when he's sleepy.  He knows that sleep makes him feel better, but he hasn't made the connection that, if he goes on to sleep, things will be okay.  He figures he'll just cry and scream, not understanding that, "Hey, if I just chill, trust my Daddy, let him hold me close, I can rest peacefully, sleep and wake up refreshed, anew and hungry for more."

You see where I'm going with this, don't you?

I'm the same with my own Daddy.  My Heavenly Daddy, that is.  In the same way that Campbell doesn't get it that a slight few seconds of discomfort, when I pull a wet, slobbery, dirty onesie over his head and force his arms back through the sleeves will all result in something clean, dry, warm and safe... in the same way that Campbell doesn't understand that going to sleep is good, rest is necessary for a tired body... its the same way that I, a stubborn, foolish, sinful Child of God, will typically forget that my own Heavenly Father needs to put me through a little discomfort, put me through my own version of a wet, slobbery onesie of life in order to be safe, warm and dry. 

And when I'm tired, when I'm fussy, when my life just doesn't feel good and I'm in desperate need of rest and refreshment, if I will just trust Him, if I allow Him to pick me up, cradle me in His arms and hold me close, trust in His safety that no one, nothing, not a single thing will harm me when I am there... if I could remember that, life would be better.  Warmer.  Full of "anew" feelings.

But unlike Campbell, who's memory is short right now, and can probably only piece together familiar sights and feelings with faint recognition, I have a good memory... which means, that many times I don't forget these things, these lessons... calling upon God to hold me when I'm beat down, or to help me while life pulls the wet onesie over my head... aren't forgotten.  They just aren't heeded. 

I'm sure there is a spiritual analogy for poopy in the diaper, but that's another post. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

idol wanna change nothing!!!

After months and months and months and months and weeks of waiting, this is it.  The 2nd to last episode of this glorious season of American Idol.  And truly, it has been glorious, as this has been one of the best seasons to date... granted, I would have liked it better to see Colton Dixon taking on My Next American Idol Elise Testosterone, but I can deal with Jessica Sanchez and Phillip Phillips, and one of them being the winner this season.

Anyway, lets get this sucker a'going, shall we?








Yes, tonight is Wednesday night, and in real time, Idol would be into its hour and fifteen minute mark, probably on its 28th group song and 9th random celebrity performance by someone who ten seasons ago wouldn't be caught dead on this show, but now can't wait to peddle their new projects via the Idol stage...

But, The Lovely Steph Leann and I still have to watch The Performance Show... so let's get that going first... and thankfully, its an hour long, so we can be through it via DVR's magical Fast Forward, in about 45 minutes.

We see an opening video of both J-Sanch and P2 as they worry about their auditions, sharing the same dream and all that... and how they get their Golden Ticket, then off to Hollywood, then surviving Hollywood, then making it to the 11th American Idol Finals.

As the judges make their way down the steps to thunderous applause, The Lovely Steph Leann pipes up, "Oh gosh... what is J-Lo wearing?  That's terrible..."

Here comes the Idols themselves, Phillip Phillips looking like he's late for class, just woke up and is racing to English across campus... while Jessica Sanchez, 16, looks like she's trying to dress older and sexier to get into The

First round is Simon Fuller's pick... good time to make an appearance, Simon Fuller.  And his choice for J-Sanch?  "I Have Nothing" by Whitney Houston, one of my top three or four favorite Pre-Crack Whitney songs ever... of course, its from "The Bodyguard", my 56th favorite film of all time... man, do I love me some Bodyguard.  And that ending?  Its so cheesy, but so good... Rachel is on the plane, Frank is watching from the tarmac and she is watching him watching her, and she makes the pilot stop the plane, and she races down the steps to Frank and they start madly kissing each other right on the runway and... love it. 

Oh, the song?  Good enough.

The judges will give their take at the end of the round.

For Phillip2, the song he's been assigned is Ben E. King's classic "Stand By Me".  Good movie.  No, seriously.  It came in what, 1986, and I remember watching it on HBO like, two years later. Back then, movies took at least a year or more to get on home video, and a good year or year and a half to premiere on pay cable channels.   Now?   "Safe House", which The Lovely Steph Leann and I watched at the theater in January just came out on DVD/Blu Ray.  And on Starz in Sports, I'm seeing "Moneyball" over and over, the same one we saw in theaters in September 2011. 

Anyway, I loved "Stand By Me".  Back when Wil Wheaton, Corey Feldman and River Phoenix had so much potential and promise... but if in 1988, you told me the most famous of those four, all these years later, would be Jerry O'Connell, I'd tell you you were nuts.  And now?  Not so nuts.

The song?  I didn't dig it.  A little drainy nasally for me. 

J-Lo rambles on about something or another I wasn't listening to, and Randy the Dawg says that J-Sanch won Round 1.  I agree.

Now, we are treated to some junk from Jason Derulo, the dude with the blingy neckbrace.  I tried to care about two seconds before I hit the --> button.

Here's Round Two, with the Idols Choice from This Season

And to liven up the stage, to make sure we know she's hip, current and modern, J-Sanch is singing... Celine Dion's late 90s soft ballad "The Prayer".  Wait... what?

Okay, so, I have a will-be-six-months-old baby in my life right now.  As does The Lovely Steph Leann.  We are exhausted all the freakin' time... we get five to six hours of sleep per night, but its always in two hour blocks.  I say this to point out that "The Prayer" is the wrong song to sing if you want us to fully engage in this performance.. we are both just as likely to fall asleep.  But since I'm doing a recap, I will try and stay awaZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ


(that snorey cough sort of grunt, then a slight twitch)

ZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzz... what... huh?

Oh, its over.  That song made me tired.

Now, its Phillip2's second song, singing "Movin' Out", from Billy Joel week.  I loved Billy Joel week, and I loved hearing the different renditions of the songs, and here's what I said about this version then:

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.

Kinda feel the same way.  Better than "The Prayer".

Creepy Uncle Steven Tyler, who speaks for the first time 30+ minutes into this episode (!), says he liked it, but gave Round Two to J-Sanch... J-Lo gives it to P2... and Randy the Dawg calls it a dead heat.  I agree with Jennifer Lopez.  Did I say that? 

And finally, Round Three... Songs They'd Release If They Won

Remember, this is the part of Idol that gave us "Flying Without Wings" and "Inside Your Heaven" and of course, "This Is My Now"... so instead of singing the same song, both Idols are given a different song that they'd release...

Jessica Sanchez has "Change Nothing", which I can only assume is some sort of "inspirational, don't change anything about me" kind of song.

J-Sanch:  I don't wanna change nothing!!!!!
Me: Shouldn't that be... "I don't want to change anything?
The Lovely Steph Leann:  (pause)  Well... yeah
J-Sanch:  I don't wanna change nothing!!!!!
The Lovely Steph Leann:  This is a horrible song.  They are always bad, but this is horrible
J-Sanch:  I don't wanna change nothing!!!!!
The Lovely Steph Leann:  If Phillip Phillips has a better song, he can win this.  This song is terrible.
Randy the Dawg:  I didn't love the song...
The Lovely Steph Leann:  ...that's because the song sucked.

And she's right.  It sucked.  J-Lo didn't even like it.  Creepy Uncle Steven didn't like it.  And J-Sanch sells out the producers by saying that she wouldn't have picked that song.

To end the show, here's the song Phillip2 would release... a song called "Home".  Can they never find songs for the Idols to release that have any kind of quick beat to it?  Its always ballads! 

That being said... and in 11 years, this is the first time I've ever said this... I like this song.  I could totally hear this song on SiriusXM's Coffeehouse Channel, or even The Blend.  Plus, Phillip2 has the percussion section of a marching band on stage!

"Home" is the most original "gonna release" song I've ever heard.  That was really good.  Really, really good.   The Lovely Steph Leann says, "That was the most original original song on Idol ever."

Round Three, by far and away, and for the entire night too, goes to Phillip Phillips.  And I think after that, he might just win this.  She was right.

Best to Worst...  "Home" by Phillip2... then, way after that, "I Have Nothing" by J-Sanch... lets be real--nothing else was that good.

the season 11 idol finale

So its 903p... I think another running diary is good for this episode.  In real time, they have already released the name of the Idol winner.  Right now, we have another American Idol winner.  But I'm purposely staying away from Facebook, completely away from any social media and if I get a text from anyone saying "Can't believe [insert J-Sanch or P2's name here] won!!!", I'm going to get in the Kia Soul, drive over and punch them in the jejunum.





As I was typing, the show spends about 90 seconds doing a quick "This night will end differently for the two finalists" video, and it jumps immediately into a group song.  I pause it so I can fast forward as soon as I'm done typing, but The Lovely Steph Leann insists we watch it.

So we see the Idols, dressed all in white, singing some "Runaway Baby" song, while a couple of gay dudes in black do acrobatics all over the stage.  Glad we waited for this.

Finally, she says, "I don't understand this.  Whenever you are ready, we can fast forward through this."  And I quickly do.

908p... Here come the judges, and here comes Seacrusty!  He tells us that a staggering 566 billion votes came through last night, and that was just from Delaware!  Unbelievable.

910p... P2 and J-Sanch come out, and I wonder if they were backstage watching the group song, and saying to each other, "Thank the maker we didn't have to do that crap...

910p... Fast Forward through Commercial Break

911p... Phillp2 is on stage with CCR's John Fogerty, singing "Have You Ever Seen the Rain".  Hey audience, raise your hand if you've ever heard of either Creedence Clearwater Revival OR John Fogerty?  Yeah, thats what I thought.

911p... Fast Forward through P2 and Fogerty

912p... Blooper reel!  Including one chick who's singing was so screechy, Campbell just cried out. 

Remember me!?  I'm Season 3's fifth place finisher,
George Huff!!
915p... I'm about to fast forward through Joshua Ledet's version of the Elton John's "Take Me to the Pilot"... but I like this song... I actually discovered it when George Huff did it way back in Season whatever... and I'm digging Joshua's version.  I might actually watch an entire "not competition" Idol performance...

917p... And he brings out Fantasia.  Fast Forward.

917p...  Fast Forward through Commercial Break

918p... Campbell Fussy Break

920p... Video with Jimmy Iovine and the judges, especially how he confuses the names "Jessica" and "Jennifer" over and over, even saying "Josh-icca"...

922p... Fast Forward through the Ladies Group song, with special guest Chaka Khan

923p...  Fast Forward through Commercial Break

924p... Fast Forward through final Ford Music Video of the season... I missed them ALL!  I RULE!!!

924p... Phillip2 and J-Sanch are giving away Ford Escapes to two dudes in the audience.  And then Seacrusty gives the Idols each a Ford Fusion.  I think the dudes got the better end of that.

925p... Rihanna!

925p... Fast Forward through Rihanna!

925p...  Fast Forward through Commercial Break

926p... And now, its Little Skylar Laine, doing her country thing.  And of course, Reba McEntire joins her.  Why wouldn't she?

926p... Fast Forward through Little Skylar Laine and Reba

927p... Video of Creepy Uncle Steven and his "dressing room", adorned with a sign that says "All Who Enter Here Must Surrender the Booty"

928p... I think I just caught hepititus B while watching that.

928p... Campbell Fussy Break

931p... Fast Forward through J-Sanch doing her "I Will Always Love You" from earlier this year

932p... Fast Forward through the Guys Group song

933p... Stop when I see Neil Diamond come out, if only because they are singing "Sweet Caroline", and everyone is required to go "bah bah bah!" during that tune.  Its just part of Americana. 

934p...  Fast Forward through Commercial Break

935p... A video on Randy the Dawg and his amazing original one-liners... like, Randy the Dawg saying "You could sing the phone book" about nine times in a row, to nine different Idols.  And so, naturally, we see the Idols holding the Yellow Pages, and yes, they are singing stuff out of the phone book.  This is a group song I'll watch.  Even D'Crappensuck was funny and well placed in this piece.

937p... Randy the Dawg now introduces Jennifer Lopez to the stage.  Fast Forward.

939p...  Fast Forward through Commercial Break

Congrats to Ace and Diana
939p... Seacrusty scans the audience for past Idols, and we see Taylor Hicks and America's Darlin' Lauren Alaina, and who's a couple?  Diana DeGarmo and Steph's Man Ace Young Still with the Ace Hair... and after Seacrusty mentions that they moved in together... and... Ace says he has a question...

941p... Dim the Lights, here we go!  He proposes!!!!  SHE SAYS YES! 

942p... Now THAT was an Idol moment.  Awesome.

942p... Will.I.Am (you know, from Fergie!) says this chick was awesome... and she is... here is Hollie Cavanagh!   And Jordin Sparks, minus, like, 89 pounds!

944p...  Fast Forward through Commercial Break

944p... Seacrusty mentions the death of Robin Gibb, and deservedly so.  And the Guys Group comes out, and I hit the --> button.

Randy Watson, the lead singer of Sexual Chocolate, with The Reverend
Brown.  Put a fluffy wig on the reverend, take off that 'stache, and its a
pretty close take on Jennifer Holliday.
945p... One is on the verge of having a dream come true, the other is a real Dream Girl... Jennifer Holliday and Jessica Sanchez.  I might have to watch this.  I've never seen Jennifer Holliday sing... and she has the weirdest mouth I've ever seen.  It actually makes me think of the preacher guy in "Coming to America"--you know, the one portrayed by Arsenio Hall? 

948p... At one point, J-Sanch just stops singing and shakes her head.   Jennifer Holliday is freakin' owning her.  I would imagine backstage, she looked at J-Sanch and simply said, "Listen, little girl.  I don't get much TV time any more.  This is my spotlight, my song.  You sing when I let you sing.  And only then.  Otherwise, you keep your mouth shut."

949p...  Fast Forward through Commercial Break

949p... And whaddya know... its Aerosmith!  I say that seriously, not in jest... Aerosmith is awesome.  However, it is late... so... -->

950p... So, thats J-Lo and Aerosmith.  Wonder if Journey is coming out so Randy the Dawg can play his guitar?

951p...  Fast Forward through Commercial Break

952p... Fast Forward through a duet by P2 and J-Sanch, backed by the Idols, of "Up Where We Belong".  Did you know Joe Cocker, who sings opposite Jennifer Warnes on this song, was British? 

954p... Seacrusty finally gets down to business, bringing Phillip Phillips and Jessica Sanchez to centerstage.  The accounting guy comes out with the "official results" in a gold envelope.

954p... I guess they are automatically the Bottom Two?  Or the Top Two? 

955p... Dim the lights!  Here we go!  After a nationwide search and vote...

the winner is...






957p... And The American Idol Phillip Phillips does "Home", which was on the previous night's episode, but we just heard it a little while ago... and its still good.  Phillip Phillips ends up crying halfway through this performance, however, and struggles to get to the next line. 

Finally, before the song is even over, he just walks away, off stage and to his family. 

I guess the best way to end this recap, and this season of Idol, is simply to quote The Lovely Steph Leann, who just said, "Well.  There is it."


Sunday, May 20, 2012

graduation day

This was written back on Saturday, May 6th, as I sat in the audience, via iPhone's Blogging app.  It is until just now that I got around to posting it, in between all the other posts that were more timely... so, enjoy.

So... My first college graduation. The time is 1242p, and I'm sitting in the middle of the Coleman Coliseum, planted right on the campus of The University of Alabama.

My brother in law, the Super Cool Tyler, is getting his degree today in Mechanical Engineering, meaning he is smarter than I and he makes more in his internship than I do in real life.

When I say it's my first college graduation, I mean that--I graduated from Troy State U (go Trojans!) in the spring of 1998... However, to walk, you had to pay like, $50 to rent your cap and gown and such, and honestly, I didn't have 50 bucks for anything, and I missed the deadline for ordering... Were I to walk, I wouldn't have anything scholarly to wear. There was a mission trip to New York City with our BCM that March--right during Troy's graduation... So I saved up some money, and in mid-March, on that Friday, instead of shaking hands with Chancellor Hawkins and getting my diploma, I was instead strolling down 8th Avenue in Manhattan, headed towards FAO Scwartz with Allysong Guy, Claire Baldwin and Troy McConnell.

So, here I am. And the whole family is here too... There is Big Daddy Ron... Mama Ruthless... Aunt Becky... coming soon is Angie, the sis-in-law, Randy the bro-in-law, and the kids, Madeleine and Benjamin. Sitting with us as week is Tyler's fiancee, Brynn... And lest we forget, The Lovely Steph Leann. Who is holding our five month old.

The graduates file in, one by one, ready to end their dreamy college
experience and begin the strange new adventure known as "The Real World"
Our five month old. In a crowded, loud arena. For three hours. What. Could. Possibly. Go. Wrong?

107p... We find out, as Campbell has decided he has hungry a little ahead of schedule.

113p... As the graduates make their way into the arena, Angie and Company have arrived to join us. The gang is all here.

114p... We are currently playing a little game called "Find the Tyler"

117p... One of my favorite things at graduations--high school up until today--is to hear the "Name Reader" butcher the simple and not so simple names. And with names like "Mohammed abdulrhim al Ibrahim" (pg 49) and "Meisam Salahshoor-Pirsoltan" (pg 24) it might've been a fruitful afternoon... However, I've been informed by Trey Cartledge, sitting in front of us, that Eugene Proffit, the "Name Reader", is a god among insects when it comes to such things... He apparently doesn't miss names. We shall see.

129p... Camille Sonnier, at least according to the jumbotron, sings the national anthem... U-S-A! U-S-A!!!

132p... Surprisingly, an invocation. Albeit one to "the Creator", but still...

138p... The Doctorates are first. Some chick named Wookjung Chang is up. Her family? The Woojung Clan.

144p... After pronouncing Cui Cui, this exchange:

Brynn: this guy is a baller
The Lovelt Steph Leann: he has been doing this a long time

146p... Just had a Michael Scott AND a Miaomiao Pang.--pronounced "Meow Meow".  Just saying.

147p... Elizabeth Luzer. What a rough name to overcome. Im not a Luzer, I'm a Winher!!

149p... Candidate for Cinemax name of the day... Willie B Breedlove.

151p... Campbell shows his support by pooping. The Lovely Steph Leann will be right back.

156p... The Business Degrees are up. And if Danielle Marie Drago doesn't name her son Ivan, then there is no justice. I'm also expecting big things from anyone named William Augustus Burgstiner IV. Just saying.

207p... So far, Procter is like a pimp on these names... But, I'm wondering, is it possible that he is getting a ton of these names wrong, but says them with such conviction, no one questions him?Maybe the graduates are told "okay, he might goof up your name, but go with it."

208p... If I were William T. French, I would have totally gone by "Will T. Freedom" back in the early part of the 2000s.

211p... If your last name is Gooch, and your a guy, cool. If you are a chick, you are looking to marry out of that name as soon as possible. And surely John Nicholas Grabowski's nickname is The Big Grabowski. Right? Right?

217p... If Lisa Yoko Lawless is dating the guitarist, you know the other bandmates are nervous.

220p... The name Brooke Elise Pancake just came up. I have about 3,877 breakfast jokes right here--by the time I decide on one, the moment is gone. Sad.

227p... Peter Joseph Scatamacchia? "yea, I need a tall latte, and venti mocha frap and a grande Scatamacchia... With an extra shot, please.". Love it.

229p... Jenna Nicole Stiffler probably thought she had a name that was fine, forgettable and unremarkable. And then those American Pie movies came out.   And her poor mom.

234p... We enter Hour 2 of this name fest and it's time for the Engineering... Which means Tyler is up.
Mommy and Campbell, before he decided he liked it
better outside, where the attention was all on him.
242... Look! There's Tyler in line!

(cue record screech sound)

We are sorry to interrupt this blog, but further jokes about names and random comments about graduation proceedings are now impossible, due to the fact the 5 month old in our group has decided he'd had enough and had begun to cry... Meaning Daddy--yours truly--now has him in the lobby, walking around, patting him on the bum and whispering comforting things to him.

I actually think I heard the family yell for Tyler as I was exiting the row... I said "excuse me" to the lady at the end of the row as she had to stand to let me by and added, "this little guy has had enough".

She smiled with a smirk and said, "yes he has.". I took Campbell out.

259p... And it's over, the grads are filing out. A few pics, a hot walk to a distant parking lot and 20 minutes later, we are now all at The Cypress Inn Cafe, awaiting a seat.

So, I guess that's it. There is your Alabama graduation... Oh, I guess since I'm in Tuscaloosa, home of the 63 time national champs (according to them) and the 6 time national champ (according to logic), I guess I should end this with those two famous words...

Go Gators.

Friday, May 18, 2012

idol trios and baby sitting

So I manage to avoid sites like Facebook and Twitter when it comes to the day after Idol results... well, not so much avoid, as I usually can scan and spot key words like "Final" and "Idol" and "Eliminate" and see pics out of the corner of my eye, and scan past them.  I can even go on and read recaps of performances while missing the headlines to the Elimination show... so I was a little disheartened and surprised when, at the bottom of Fox News' website, it said "Idol Final between (name here) and (name here), only there were two very recognizable last names in those ( ), with a third name going unmentioned. 

Its just after 9am, and I'm just now starting this blog... but in the meantime, I also have a 5 1/2 month old in my care.  So, let's see how long 20 minutes worth of watchable video will take us...






902a... Been biding my time til just the right moment.  When Campbell goes in his bouncy seat, there is about a 20 minute window of time that's free... so its showertime right now!

923a... Surprisingly, he's still chilling in his bouncy.  So lets start this show! 

924a... With Paul Simon's "Homeward Bound" playing, they do a video montage of the three Idols remaining, Phillip2, Joshua Ledet and J-Sanch.  But there are three.  Only two will continue this journey, in case your math is off, or in case you are in charge of the budget in Congress

926a... The judges enter... Creepy, Crazy Uncle Steven Tyler.  J-Lo, who is disputing the fact she's quitting Idol after this season (disputing in the media, as the news goes understandably unmentioned on the show--by the way, don't click on that link unless you know who gets eliminated, because its right on the front page).  And Randy the Dawg.  Seacrusty tells us of the upcoming Lisa Marie Presley and The Unambiguously Gay Adam Lambert.

927a... Fast Forward through the three Idol finalists doing a group song

927a... Fast Forward through Commercial Break

928a... Fast Forward through Ford Music Video.  Only one more next week to fast forward through... and I will successfully have avoided ALL of the Ford Music Videos this year.  Can I do it?  Let's hope so!!

928a... Quick baby break

931a... Campbell repositioned into the floor playmat.  Joshua Ledet comes centerstage, and we take a look back at his performance, and how the judges just loved loved loved them some Joshua Ledet.  Creepy Uncle Steven told him there only one American Idol... and Joshua Ledet sang like it.  Jimmy Iovine disputes this, saying it was good, not great during his first song.  His second, "Imagine" was loved loved loved by the judges.  Jimmy says Joshua is the most exciting showman left in the competition, and thought "Imagine" didn't work.  He liked liked liked it.  And for "No More Drama", which was Jimmy's pick for him, he regrets picking that song because he didn't give Joshua a "big moment".  The judges?  Oh, they loved loved loved it.   Jimmy then says that, "100%, Joshua belongs in anyone's finale".  So, when and if I have a finale, I'll consider putting Joshua in it.

934a... Fast Forward through Commercial Break

935a... So, they are pushing the crapola out of "Ice Age: The Meltdown" or whatever its called.

(L-R) George Lopez as Raphael, Jesse Eisenberg as Blu and Anne Hathaway
as Jewel... and the rest of the voice cast is pretty good too... heck, Will.I.Am
seems tolerable, and funny.
936a... Ester Dean comes out and meets the Idols in a video package.  I only mention this because Ester Dean sings the title song to "Rio", that bird movie that came out last year.  And I only mention that because "Rio" is Campbell's favorite movie.  He FRIKKIN loves that movie.  He'll be having a meltdown of his own, and many times, turn on "Rio" and he's quiet. 

937a... Fast Forward through Lisa Marie Presley

937a... Fast Forward through Commercial Break

938a... Jessica Sanchez comes down to centerstage to join The Seacrusty... her song, "My All", which was completely the wrong Mariah song to sing for her, is featured, with Creepy Uncle Steven predicting J-Sanch as the Idol winner.. after he nodded to Joshua Ledet to win.  The judges loved loved loved it.  Jimmy Iovine thought the song was the wrong song completely.  For "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing", the judges loved loved loved it.  Jimmy Iovine thought the song was boring.  I love this cat.  And for "I'll Be There", J-Lo and Creepy Uncle Steven loved loved loved it.  Randy the Dawg liked liked liked it.  Jimmy?  He admits again that the song didn't give her a "moment", and again, regrets the decision to pick that song.

939a... Baby break to change batteries in the annoying musical thingy on the playmat

939a... Baby break to give 5 1/2 month old attention.  Funny how they need that.  Back soon to resume show.

1253p... Went out, ran errands, fed the kid and here we are now...

1254p... Fast Forward through Commercial Break

1254p... Here's Seacrust with Shannon Magrane, Hey Jun (he'll take a sad song and make it better), Elise Testosterone, EVP, and Skylar Laine... however, Seacrusty skips them and walks down to Jimmy Iovine, Carole Bayer Sager and Rita Wilson (aka, Mrs Tom Hanks), and discusses the passing of Donna Summer.

As an aside... "Last Dance", one of the best, most pure R&B Disco songs of the 70s, and easily one of my Top 100 favorite songs of all time.  "Last Dance" has everything... funk, groove, pop, its easily sing-along-able, its fun, its got great backing music and vocals and everything else.  Love that song.

1256p... By the way, fun, great, easily sing-along-able, funky, groovy... That's everything that The Unambiguously Gay Adam Lambert is NOT. 

1256p... Can't Fast Forward through The Unambiguously Gay Adam Lambert fast enough.  I will say his shirt makes him look like he made out with a highlighter.  A male highlighter, natch.

1257p... Fast Forward through Commercial Break

1257p... Phillip Phillips comes down to centerstage, and we see a review of "Begging", by The Four Seasons, covered by Madcorn.  The judges loved loved loved it.  And Jimmy Iovine didn't say it stole the show, but says it was very entertaining.  "Disease" was his next song, and the judges sorta kinda maybe liked it.  Jimmy Iovine says it was a risk going down in flames just as an experiment, and appreciates the risk, but it was a bad risk at this point in the competition.  Finally, "We've Got Tonight"... the judges loved loved loved it.  Randy the Dawg says "Best performance by P2 EVA".  Jimmy Iovine says he won the night, thinks it was the best of the night, and yes, P2's best song of the whole show.

101p... Baby break

(sniff sniff)

102p... Poopy break

110p... And back.  No, it didn't take me 8 minutes to change a diaper... it took me 2 minutes.  Then I, while holding Campbell with one hand, moved whites and lights from the washer to the dryer with the other, and hung up a t-shirt and two other garments.  Cause I rule.

110p... All three Idols come down to the center of the stage with Ryan Seacrust, and Randy the Dawg gushes that "these are the best final three Idols we've ever had..." and I disagree.  Good season, but after losing Colton, I feel like we just went down hill.  Jessica Sanchez should NOT be here.  If this was voice only, then sure.  But "total package"?  No.  Little Skylar Laine should be here.  And I'd take Elise Testosterone over Phillip2, even though I can understand why she didn't make it this far. 

112p... Fast Forward through Commercial Break

112p... Dim the lights, here we go.  After the nationwide vote, Jessica Sanchez goes to the finals.  Bleh.

113... After the nationwide vote, Jessica will be taking on...

113p... Phillip Phillips.  P2 vs J-Sanch, while Joshua Ledet goes home.

114p... He finishes with his signature song from this year, "It's a Man's Man's Man's Man's World", which Idol unceremoniously cuts off. 

So there we are.  Phillip vs Jessica.  I am rooting Phillip all the way, though I don't think any of these three will be stars... just my opinion. 

117p... Baby crying.  Guess we'll turn on "Rio".

(by the way... The Lovely Steph Leann... sorry I watched it without you... you can watch it while I take the kid to The Zarzaur house tonight... you can knock it out quickly...)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

idol choices

Do not adjust your computer screens.  Yes, this is Wednesday night.  Yes, Idol came on tonight.  And yes, you are reading this Idol recap without the benefit of a results show recap following right behind it.  Tried to do this last week, on Wednesday, and was just flat out too tired... but tonight, I'm ready, its early, and its time...





Tonight's big theme is the hometown visits, as Jessica Sanchez heads back to California, Joshua Ledet heads to Louisiana and Phillip Phillips goes to Georgia... the Idol crew will tape their returns, showcase the "[insert idol name here] Day in [insert idol hometown]" ceremony, and at least one of them will cry at the overwhelming amount of support and love of their respective communities... as it always happens.

The judges come out, followed by that ol' faker, Ryan Seacrusty, and a pan of the crowd shows off Colton Dixon, My Former Next American Idol Elise Testosterone and even Hey Jun! (he'll take a sad song and make it better).

Next Tuesday, the performance show.  Next Wednesday, the live finale.  And guess what?  I'll blog both the night they air, just for you people.  I do it all for you.

First round is going to be songs picked by the judges, then round 2 gives us the Idols picks, then round 3 is songs picked by Jimmy Iovine, the music mentor.


Randy the Dawg is picking the song for Joshua Ledet, choosing "I'd Rather Be Blind" by Etta James.   With the old style, rectangular hand held mic, Joshua Ledet does his thing, and sounds superb doing it. 

The judges are gushing over him, and deservedly so... that was really good.

And now, its J-Sanch... J-Lo picked her song, and it's "My All" by Mariah Carey.  Featured on 1997's "Butterfly" album, its a song that came after Mariah's skankification, as it was a follow up to the skank turn of "Honey".  Not one of my favorite Mariah songs... I know why J-Lo picked this for J-Sanch, to hear her hit the big notes and the runs and such... but I would have loved to hear something upbeat like "Emotion" or maybe even "Dream Lover", which would have not only shown off J-Sanch's voice, but also give her a chance at personality.

That being said, she's doing the song some severe justice.   The judge gush. 

I would listen to the song "Begging" as performed
by Mankind.  Just sayin'.
Next up, its Creepy Uncle Steven Tyler, who is picking the song for Phillip2, the song "Begging" by... Mad Con? Mad Kahn?  Madeline Kahn?  Man Kind?  Like the wrestler?  Mankind?  That would be awesome...

Okay, so a quick look on the Algore's interwebs shows me its Madcorn, "Begging". 

Dude, the song was awesome.  P2 was jamming like a boss on the guitar, he had his groove on, and though the other two were enjoyable, I will remember THIS song tomorrow.  Good times.

The judges gush.

Round One goes to... my pick is P2... Randy the Dawg says Joshua Ledet... J-Lo says P2... Creepy Uncle Steven says he can't decide... The Lovely Steph Leann goes Joshua Ledet...


Its the video clips of going home, as Joshua Ledet heads back to Louisiana via a private jet.  Surprisingly, the airport crowd meeting him is kinda small... we see Westlake Baptist Church, a tiny little church where he visits his church family, and then him in a parade through his hometown, ending up at Westlake High School.   Okay, so I'm not saying nothing, but I do observe compared to previous finalists crowds, Joshua's crowds are rather small... though he does finally get a bunch of people in the arena nearby.

Back to the Idol stage, here's Joshua Ledet singing "Imagine".  Okay, maybe I've discussed this before, but I really am not a fan of this song.  It seems very anti-God to me... imagining there is no Heaven, no God, and all the people here live for their own lives.   Think about who wrote it--John Lennon, not a known Christian philosopher--and the free love and worship whatever you want kind of time period... just not a good message all wrapped up in a cutesy little tune.  Bleh.

Creepy Uncle Steven Tyler said it was a beautiful song, even saying, ironically, it was a "thank you God moment", which is completely NOT what it is.  J-Lo loved it.  Randy the Dawg says it was brilliant, dude, brilliant.

Jessica Sanchez headed back to Chula Vista, CA, for her hometown visit, as she leaves LA in a flippin' helicopter.  I reckon Chula Vista is close to San Diego, as she spends a few minutes in the Padres ballpark, where she auditioned. 

J-Sanch's crowds are huge.  She gets to her home, and the tears come as the family wraps her up... and now its off to see more big crowds.  She has her parade, visits the local high school, and is mobbed by the people... and she gets her "Jessica Sanchez Day in Chula Vista" plaque.  She even does a mini-concert outside of a San Diego docked battleship. 

And back to the Idol stage, she has chosen Aerosmith's "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" as her 2nd song.  The Lovely Steph Leann says "uuuggghghhh..."  I wonder how intimidating it is to perform this song in front of StevZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

As she sings, "I don't want to close my eyes, I don't want to fall asleep..." I pipe up, "I don't want to fall asleep either, J-Sanch... stop singing."

The Lovely Steph Leann:  Its almost like they Muzaked that song.  It was already cheesy anyway, but that sounded like it was music at a grocery store.

While the judges gush, I think that was terrible.

Finally, to end Round 2, its Phillip2 who went back home to Leesburg, Georgia.  Big crowd at the airport, big crowd following his limo.  Saturday brings him to the pawn shop where he works, withe more huge crowds, then a tearful reunion of he and his dad.

He gets his parade, then a mob of people chicks as he nears the stadium where he is going to perform his concert.

His song for the night, though, is "Disease" by Matchbox Twenty.  And though I'm very sleep and starting to drift, I can pick up on the Rob Thomas flair of the song... and his other song was better, but this song from P2 is very good.

J-Lo called it "easygoing" but she didn't care for the song as much.  Creepy Uncle Steven liked it okay enough.  Randy the Dawg says he didn't care for it either. 

Round 2 goes to... Well, I'll have to say Phillip2... The Lovely Steph Leann says the same.  No judges picks.


The final round of the show had Joshua Ledet getting a text from Jimmy Iovine, who picks a Mary J. Blige joint called "No More Drama".

The piano starts, and The Lovely Steph Leann pipes up and says, "They did this on The Voice to.  Its the tune from "The Young and the Restless'"   That's why I married her.

Bonus The Lovely Steph Leann:  He's jumping.  Why is his jumping?  Its very distracting.

Despite the jumps, it was very good.  Not great, but he really did the song right.  And he really gave the song all he had. 

The judges gush.

Seacrusty then teases us with the worst possible upcoming performances ever... Lisa Marie Presley and The Unambiguously Gay Adam Lambert.  Really?  You have two shows left after this, in one of the best seasons you've ever had, and this is who you choose to perform?  Yikes.

Jimmy tells Jessica Sanchez that he wants to hear her sing "I'll Be There" by The Jackson Five.   And for whatever reason, there is a big honkin' ferris wheel in the video screen behind her.   Even The Lovely Steph Leann comments, "Whats with the random amusement park in the background?

Dear goodness... this song is soooo boring.  Like, my interweb blipped and I had to restart, and I didn't even pause the song to get the laptop to reboot.  Nothing to say.

Creepy Uncle Steven says, "Get to the chorus, don't bore us..." and I think that J-Sanch only did one of those things successfully.  J-Lo gushed.  Randy the Dawg said it was just okay alright.
Have I ever talked about my affection for this show?  Perhaps I should,
though its been so long since I've watched an episode, it would be
nothing but positive recollections.  Maybe thats the way it should be.

And now, wrapping up the show, its Phillip2 getting his product placement AT&T package at home, telling him that he'll be singing "We've Got Tonight" by Bob Seger, sans the Silver Bullet Band.  This is truly a great song, one I fell in love with during an episode of The Wonder Years, where Winnie Cooper had shunned Kevin Arnold, but had fallen sick, and he climbed into a tree to check on her, and she spots him, sort of smiles and the song plays in the background.

P2 sits on a barstool, non-blind black piano player behind him, and even gets a violin chorus behind him.  Not a bad rendition... and it had life, personality, emotion behind it, three things that have been missing from everything Jessica Sanchez has done the entire season.

Randy the Dawg says it was his best performance on the show, ever.  The others judges gushed too. 

Round Three is a tie between Joshua Ledet and Phillip2... and honestly, if there is any justice on this show, which we all know there isn't many times, but if so, the finals should be a battle between Phillip Phillips and Joshua Ledet. 

Now, something I haven't been able to say for months... TOMORROW, the results!!!

Best to Worst:  Phillip2's "Begging"... Joshua Ledet's "I'd Rather Be Blind"... Joshua Ledet's "No More Drama"... Phillip2's "We've Got Tonight"... J-Sanch's "My All"...  Phillip2's "Disease"... Joshua Ledet's "Imagine"... J-Sanch's "I'll Be There"...  J-Sanch's "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing"

Monday, May 14, 2012

mom, mama and mother's day

One thing you might not know about me, and one thing I'm pretty sure you didn't... (1) Did you know I was adopted?  I am.  Not in the usual sense, like being a child from Russia or Ethiopia or Pakistan or Chile... but yes, I'm adopted.  Oh, and (2) my name has not always been the fabulously awesome d$.  My birth surname?  Creech.  Like, "Screech", but without the "S". 

This Mother's Day, I mourn the passing of my Mom, who raised me, who took care of me and who loved me immensely.  However, I'd also like to celebrate the reunion of me and Mama, who let me be raised and cared for, with a love as equal, perhaps greater than what I was raised with. 

I'd like to share with you a story.  I won't be too personal, and I won't reveal too much because I haven't actually talked to the parties involved to get their full-on permission to share the story, but I don't think they would mind.

My biological mother, Jan, had me when she was very young, mid-teens.  One of those baby taking care of a baby things... she took care of the as best she could, as we all lived in lower class neighborhood near the Orlando/Winter Garden/Apopka, Florida, area... I actually want to say trailer park, but I'm not confident of that, so I'll just say "lower class".  Anyway, she did what she could.

In one of my favorite all time pictures, this is my mama and me,
late 70s.  I was a cutie... and wasn't she a dish?
But as a young girl, she had a hard time because as I've really learned in the last five months, newborns are a handle.  And we aren't talking 2012 with gadgets and gizmos to help babies sleep and eat better and specially formulated baby foods that deal with gas and spit up and so on... this is 1975.  Bottles came in a few colors, and that was it.  Diapers didn't have "wetness indicators", they were just cheap diapers. 

Bottom line, it was hard.  And it got even harder when she dated and eventually married a dude named Bob.  Bob?  Jerk.  To me, anyway.  Jan had another three boys--Shawn, Chris and Bobby--over the course of the years, and Bob sorta kinda liked them--me, he wasn't a fan of.  And he showed it. 

At some point, my granny, living in Austin, TX, with her husband John, heard that I needed some help, and she flew down to get me.  My biological mom didn't want to, but she had to... let me go with Granny.  She gave me up.

I lived with Granny and John for a few years in Austin, and the idea came about that they would adopt me as their son.  This was done for a variety of reasons, but mostly to be able to make legal decisions for my care and my upbringing, as by this point, it was apparent that I wouldn't make a permanent return visit to Orlando.  Thus, my name went from Creech to the popular d$ that you all know and love today.

This is me, with one of my all time favorite t-shirts, with Mom and Dad.
Taken in Austin, TX, a year or so before we moved to Alabama, I
can assure you that in the background, yes, that is a velvet print of a
deer standing in water. 
And in 1984, we moved to a little town known as Samson, Alabama, population (at the time) of 2,100.  I called Granny and John by the more appropriate names of "Mom" and "Dad" and I in October of '84, I started at the brand new Samson Elementary School.

This was life at 301 North Johnson Street.   Until 1985.

One day, on our doorstep was my real mom and her three boys... my brothers, actually.  Well, legally, they were my nephews.  My three aunts had become my sisters, and my cousins became my nieces and nephews... okay, so imagine a family tree... my grandparents adopted me, so I move up a level on the branches... suddenly, my parallel family members (cousins, siblings) go a branch below, and my one-step-up family members (aunts) become my parallel branches and... okay, if you don't get it, I don't really know how to explain it.

Anyway, Jan showed up in December of 1985, with Shawn, Chris and Bobby in tow, having left the old, disastrous, even dangerous life of Bob down in Florida, and ready to start anew.  Start anew they did, as over the next few years, they got back on their feet, and I was able to get fairly close to my brother nephew Shawn (we were only separated by a year or two) and had lots of fun with my brothers nephews Chris and Bobby. 

Jan, at this point, is my sister.  Imagine calling your own mother your sister, and calling her by her real name... Jan.  But really, this is how I knew her... I mean, I hadn't called her "mama" or "mommy" since I was a toddler, and here I am going on 11 years old, so this is all I know.   She, however, could never really look me as a brother--I was her oldest son.  But she had to deal with it, knowing I was being taken care of by other people--yes, those other people were her parents, and yes, she knew they were doing a great job, but other people nonetheless.

The four of them eventually moved to nearby town, Opp, which was about 15 miles away from Samson to the west, Jan eventually was remarried, and the boys went on to middle school and high school at Opp High.  (her new husband, Johnny, unfortunately passed away several years ago)

And my story is simple... I graduated from Samson High School in 1993, went to Troy State University and graduated in 1998, moved to Birmingham in August of that same year, lost my Dad in August of 2000 to being just plain
Both the top and bottom pictures show Chris on the left,
Shawn in the middle, and Bobby on the right.  Though
the pictures are separated by about 25 years or so.
old, and a decade later, its 2011 and The Lovely Steph Leann is pregnant and its summer and its hot as can be.

Shawn, Chris and Bobby all went on with their own lives, and because they were in different places now with their own families and kids, and I rarely saw or spoke to them.  Not that I didn't want to, not that they wanted to avoid me, but life is life.  Even with Facebook, which they are all on, it still wasn't much of a help to keep up. 

September 2011.  Mom dies.  I get the call at work on an already rough day, and spend two minutes in the backroom wiping back tears before composing myself and hitting the lattes again.  Jan had been pretty amazing over the later part of Mom's life, as she was the one who took care of Mom's doctors appointments and financial stuff and legal issues and power of attorney and so on... so when Mom passed, Jan only had to do a little work with the other three sisters to put everything in place. 

And this is where I wanted to bring you, the reader, to talk about my amazing mother.  Not the one who passed--yes, she was amazing.  But Jan. 

When I got off work the day Mom died, I came home to a quiet house.  It was a rainy, grey day, so inside my home with the blinds closed made for a dark living room.  I sat in my chair for about 20 minutes, no tears, no words, nothing.  Just sat. 

The woman I knew as Mom was gone.  She had raised me for about 15 of my first 18 years, and I had spent 33 years calling her "Mom".  But she was gone.  But I still had a mother.  I still had a mom.  I still had a Mama. 

I called Jan.  She answered pretty quickly and we began to talk "business", as in, funeral stuff.  When The Lovely Steph Leann and I were planning on coming down, where to go when we got there, how the ceremony would proceed, of course I'd be a pallbearer and so on.  And I was to give the eulogy, which I felt both honored and petrified at the same time.

Once the formalities were done, we began to actually talk.  Not just talk, but talk talk.  And I told her that now Mom was gone, without diminishing the importance of Mom in my life, that I felt it was time to start calling Jan "Mom" again.  There was silence on the other side, and for a second, I didn't know how she'd react, but then she started spilling her guts... on how much she loved me, how much she could have been there, how much she wanted to tell me all this stuff for a long time, and how she didn't want to "cut in" on the dynamic of mine and Mom's relationship, but how she never could see me as a "brother" but always saw me as her first born son... because I was.

Essentially, Jan was a scared teenager who was pregnant, and did the best she could with what she had at the time.  And when she realized that she couldn't give me the love and support, or the protection, that she knew I needed, she made a decision that affected my life to this day. 

She gave me up.  She didn't want to, but she did.  She gave me to someone that she knew would take care of me.  And I understand that fully now.  I guess I always did, but never put a ton of thought into it until that conversation on the day my Mom died.  Had she kept me, who knows?  I know, though, that I wouldn't be in Birmingham.  I would have never met The Lovely Steph Leann, I wouldn't be working where I worked, I don't know that I would have ended up at Troy, or anywhere--that's not to say that Shawn, Chris and Bobby had a bad upbringing because they remained with her, not at all... they are good guys who, like any and all of us, have made mistakes and have learned from them--but I just feel that all I have, all I have been blessed with, all I know wouldn't be what I have and know without Jan handing me over to Granny back in 1978 or '79, whenever it was.

And during the days leading up to, and following the funeral, I was able to sit and talk with Jan for a long time.  We shared thoughts, and personally, I was sad, mourning for the loss of Mom... but elated that I had a Mama again. 

What's more... I have my brothers again.  Shawn, Chris, Bobby, they are my flesh and blood, my siblings, my three younger brothers... and I am an older brother, which is a foreign thought to me.  After Jan and I talked, she talked to the three guys, and all three told her they were happy about me being the "older son" again.

I even talked to Chris at the funeral, and he said flat out that he never really saw me as an uncle anyway, he always looked at me like a brother.

Though I will get fussed at for posting this picture, as only a Mama
can fuss at her son, I love it.  (the pic, not the fussing).  This is Mama
holding her grandson, and her grandson trying not to spit up.
But its Mama that I celebrate.  She made a huge sacrifice by letting go of her oldest son to help him be who he needed to be.  The Heavenly Creator made the ultimate sacrifice by sending Jesus to the cross for all of our sins, and though I don't attempt to put Mama's sacrifice in the same ballpark, league or sport as God's gift, to me it meant a whole lot.  To me, it changed my life.

And now, I have my Mama back.  Because she's really not that much older than I am, I'll have her for a while.  We visited her and her husband Randy in Andalusia over Easter, and she held her grandson for the first time, and got to spent time with her oldest son and daughter-in-law.  Campbell got to see, coo over, spit up on and love his Granny Jan and Pawpaw Randy.  (honestly, I never though of myself as someone with a "pawpaw" in their life, but hey...) And I got to spend some time with my younger brother Chris, and though Bobby and Shawn couldn't make it, I was around their families too.  It was simple, it was wonderful, it was a yard full of Easter eggs and love, it was... well, it was family, country style.

So that's the story.  I love my family.  I love my three younger brothers and look forward to re-connecting.  I love and appreciate my Mama for everything she has done for me. 

Only in my family can I lose a Mom and gain a Mama in the span of a few hours.  Go figure.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

idolfornia dreamin'

I had every intention of watching American Idol on Wednesday night.  Seriously.  The Deucecast, which usually records on Wednesday nights, and my involvement in the excursion into podcasting excellence typically prevents me from watching the show on Wednesday when it airs... we try to get it viewed via DVR on Thursday evening, but sometimes it is Friday.  And even Sunday. 

This past Wednesday was free and clear, though.  The show's cohost, Mikey, had a sick offspring and felt the need to stay at home (pansy), which pushed the show to a rare Thursday night recording date... so after church activities, the plan was to get home and watch Idol with The Lovely Steph Leann.

However, Campbell needed formula.  Oh, and The Lovely Steph Leann needed floss.  And Degree Powder Fresh Deodorant.  And even though I had eaten at church, she had not.  Which meant a trip to Wal-Mart, which is always out of the deodorant she needed.  So that meant a trip to Publix.  Oh, and I'm also trying to find some of those Hyland's Colic Tablets, which Publix is out of, but I remember Wal-Greens having Hyland's Teething Tablets, which is similar. And that meant a trip to Wal-Greens.  And somewhere in there was a stop at Panera Bread for The Lovely Steph Leann's requested Fuji Apple Salad, no tomatoes, no onions.

By the time I got home, it was almost 930.  By the time I got changed and settled, it was almost 10.  And then we started watching Idol... we got through one single performance before I just spoke up and said, "I can't do it.  I'm dying."  This was after I had drifted a few times through Seacrusty's babble. 

But now, its Friday afternoon, and somehow, some way I have made it through a few days without finding out what happened on the show! 

So now...




We are shown a quick clip of last week's results show, in which Little Skylar Laine said goodbye... and this leaves the front runner guy, Phillip2... the main frontrunner, Jessica Sanchez... the dark horse (no pun intended.. or maybe...), Joshua Ledet... and the one who it can be argued is there about 3 weeks too long, Hollie Cavanagh.

Tonight is two themes... first, "California Dreamin'", which are songs about California, or songs written about California.  Or songs that have California in the title.  Or songs that feature John Phillips or any other members of the Mamas and the Papas, the artist of "California Dreamin'".  Or a song written by anyone who had been sexually abused by their father, like Kristy McNichol had written about, at the hands of John Phillips.  Or any song written by anyone who has ever heard of California.  And so on.

Secondly, its "Songs They Wished They Had Written", which means any song you want, or at least any song licensed by Idol... as in, "I like that song.  Um... I wish I had written it.  Yeah, thats' it.  So I'm singing that one!" 

Annie Barrett from EW commented that next week's theme will be "Songs". 


First up, its Phillip2... he's doing Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Have You Ever Seen the Rain?", a great old 60s rock tune.  Sans guitar, P2 takes his growly voice to the mic, and sounds pretty good.

Creepy Uncle Steven Tyler said, "You are living proof that the road to success is always under construction!"  Wait... what?  J-Lo loved it, and Randy the Dawg said it started a bit rough, but found its way a little longer into it... and then he loved it. 

For Hollie Cav's first song, she's taking on Journey's "Faithfully", which I reckon is California Dreamin because... they are from California?  Because then-lead singer has heard of California?  Because they probably played at a few arenas there over the years?  Who knows.

Anyway, the song isn't bad.  She has that quivering lip thing going on during the last "I'm yo-o-o-o-orrrsss!!!" final line, which to my untrained musical eyes, looks like it means something good. 

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

Next up, here's Joshua Ledet... first, here's Jason Derulo, who's been involved in this songwriting contest with Idol, trying to declare how this is his Now, and is wearing a blinged out neckbrace.  Wicked odd.

Back to Joshua Ledet!  He'll be doing a cheesy song called "You Raise Me Up", this generation's "Wind Beneath My Wings".  I don't think there is an un-cheesy way of doing this song.  And though Joshua's voice is good, and the song sounds fine, to me its just a boring picture of a mountain and a river on an inspirational poster set to music. 


Of course, Creepy Uncle Steven Tyler, J-Lo and Randy the Dawg spend an hour and a half telling them how much they were raised up. 

So, for J-Sanch's California Dreamin' song, she's doing Etta James' "Steal Away"... and since J-Sanch is actually FROM California, really, any song she wants to do would be a California connection.

Once again, brilliant vocals.  Yet, plywood chemistry.  However, I think we need to start learning how to begin to learn how to start accepting that Jessica Sanchez will likely be The Next American Idol.  Just suck it in and breath out and take it. 


I am struck by how odd it is that Joshua Ledet and Phillip2 are singing "This Love".  That is a song by Maroon 5.  And while Maroon 5 hails from California, hence the "California Dreamin'" spot, its frontman, Adam Levine, is one of the four judges on NBC's "The Voice", which is probably American Idol's biggest singing competition reality show competition.  I would think that Idol wouldn't want to give Maroon 5 and Adam Levine any press... but perhaps they figure "Hey, we're Idol.  We squash The Voice."  So be it.

You know what?  This version of "This Love" isn't perfect... but darn it, they both look like they are having more fun with this than anyone has looked in weeks.  The piano player is on his feet jamming, as are the other musicians.  Love this.


And whether this wraps up the California Dreamin' or this begins the Songs I Wished I Had Written, all I can tell you is that Jessica Sanchez and Hollie Cav are swinging.  Like, they are both sitting on rope swings, doing a duet to "Eternal Flame" by The Bangles. 

"Eternal Flame", by the way, one of the first five Cassette Singles I ever bought.  I remember "Paradise City" by Guns N' Roses was first, and soon after was "Shiny Happy People" by REM, "When I See You Smile" by Bad English and this Bangles classic, though I don't know in what order.  Just sayin'.

And as the judges give their two cents worth--they liked the guys a whole lot better, in the background, Phillip2 and Joshua Ledet are swinging on the rope swings.  Hilarious.

Oh, and Fast Forward through the unexpected Group Song


Phillip2 says he wished he had written Damien Rice's "Volcano".  And here comes Jimmy Iovine, who says this song helped Phillip2 to stop sounding like everyone else and start sounding like himself. 

Dude, I totally dig this song.  I'd never heard it previously, but Phillip2 sits on a stool, on a darkened stage, with an awesome cellist sitting and playing nearby.  Not just a good song, but a great performance.

Hollie Cav says she wished she had written Bonnie Raitt's "I Can't Make You Love Me".  And here comes Jimmy Iovine, who says to not oversing this song. 

Standing behind a piano, from the waist up, she looks like she's wearing an elegant black dress, and she is all fine and such, but when she steps out you can see its a black pant suit, and that kinda kills the look.  She also says "don't pah-tronize" and not "don't pay-tronize".  That could cost her the show.  And she's got this Michael Stipey Losing My Religion arm swingy thing going on there.

The song was pretty good.  But not brilliant.  Creepy Uncle Steven says she should have shown more emotional.  J-Lo says the same thing.  Randy the Dawg said she needs a song that "gives her a moment" and this song had no moments.

Joshua Ledet says he wished he had written James Brown's "Its a Man's Man's Man's World".  And here comes Jimmy Iovine, who says that it was a thrill to see this song being done by Joshua.

I gotta tell ya, the guys are owning me tonight... between Phillip2's "Volcano", their "This Love" duet, and now this song from Joshua Ledet, Dude Power reigns. 

You knew Joshua would scream at some point, and he does, but this time its warranted, and his scream is kept in check.  That was a great, great performance all around, with the vocals and the backup singers and the music and such.

And rightfully so, the judges just totally geek out. 

Finally, Jessica Sanchez says she wished she had written Billie Holliday's "And I Am Telling you That I'm Not Going".  Here comes Jimmy Iovine, and he is raving about her version of this tune.

She channels her inner blackness in this song, and sounds awesome.  J-Sanch is blowin' it right on up, doing her thing, hitting all the notes, and all that... but I then turned to The Lovely Steph Leann and said, "Tell me, as a music aficionado, what you thought of that song." 

The Lovely Steph Leann thinks for a second, and says, "Well... I don't think you are familiar with this song (I'm not), but this song builds.  The thing about it is, she didn't have time to really build it.  She did fine, she sounded good and all, but she didn't get the chance to take that into the part where she just screams it and gets all emotional and such, because this is an emotional song."

Of course, the judges loved it.  Over and over.  Its Friday, and I think they are still talking about it.

The Lovely Steph Leann:  You didnt like it?
Me: I did.  Again, I think she's got an incredible talent, but she's a stick in the mud charisma wise.
The Lovely Steph Leann:  I thought she connected well, better than some of her other stuff

It is funny to me, though, that Hollie Cav was cautioned to not "oversing", so she chose something deep and personal and sang without oversinging... but Joshua Ledet oversang the crap out of that song, and it was awesome.  Jessica Sanchez oversang the crap out of her song, and it was much ballyhooed.  Hollie Cav should haven't thrown down on her tune. 

And I'm afraid dear, sweet Brit Hollie will pay the price. 

My Best to Worst for the Night:  Joshua Ledet's "Its a Man's Man's Man's World"... Joshua Ledet & Phillip2's "This Love"...  Phillip2's "Volcano"...  J-Sanch's "And I Am Telling You That I Am Not Going"... J-Sanch's "Steal Away"... Hollie Cav's "Faithfully"... Phillip2's "Have You Ever Seen the Rain?"... Holly Cav's "I Can't Make You Love Me"... J-Sanch & Hollie Cav's "Eternal Flame"...  Joshua Ledet's "You Raise Me Up"

The Results are in the very next post!  Keep scrolling!