Thursday, February 28, 2008

50% correct

Well, I called half of them right. Alaina and Alexandrea, Jason and Robbie. I had all 4 in my least favorite category, though.

Now I have to hear Luke for another week. Ick.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

10 Girls

Hey, am I psychic or what? The day after I complain about never getting Chicago songs, I get one!

Does anyone besides me mix up Alaina and Kady? I can't keep them straight in my head.


The problem shared by all the girls last week was the flu. Tonight it was the key. I only think two girls chose the proper key to sing their song in. In most cases, it was too low. The vocal coaches are really falling down on the job on Idol so far this year.

Bottom of the pack was Amanda the rockin' nurse tonight. That may have been the worst performance not made by someone named Sanjaya. I don't think she actually got one single note right. I'm pretty sure that's the end for her, and it's too bad because I really wanted to hear her sing AC/DC and try to channel Brian Johnston's lead vocals. Oh well.

After her performance, there was a logjam for middle of the pack. Alaina or Kady might have put themselves in the most danger. Alaina, no, Kady did "Magic Man" in a horribly low key, such that she couldn't get out the verse so it could be heard. Kady, no, Alaina did "Hopelessly Devoted To You" and didn't do it badly, but she just has no personality on stage. When the judges criticize her, she gives them the "I hate you" stare and that's about it. I just don't think she's connecting with the audience.

Top honors goes to Carly - and I misjudged her during auditions. With a band backing her, she's pretty good. She did a Heart song as well, "Crazy on You", and hit it nicely.

Ramiele ("Don't Leave Me This Way") was terrific again, and Syesha ("Me and Mr(s) Jones") was the next strongest. Kristy Lee redeemed herself with a nice rendering of Linda Ronstadt's "You're No Good".

I have to say this yet again: Idol contestants should NEVER pick a song about going home, breaking up, letting it end, going down in a blaze of glory, or some other subject that would be truly ironic if they were eliminated and had to sing it as their farewell performance. "You're No Good" would be a terrible thing to have to sing after being voted off. I don't think Kristy Lee is in danger this week, but if she gets voted off, the gods of irony will have struck yet again on American Idol. You hear that, Phil Sawyer?

Brooke did a really good job with "You're So Vain", looking Simon in the eye the whole time. She used the original key, but it was a tone too low for her to sing the first words of the chorus properly. She's safe, though. I like her.

Alexandre'a totally messed up my perfectly good rant by singing "If You Leave Me Now" (another ironic song if eliminated) by Chicago. It occurred to me that Luke Menard should have sung this last night, as his falsetto fits Chicago perfectly. I think Alexandre'a is safe because her performance was adequate and better than some of the others, but I don't get the likable vibe from her. She will be vulnerable until she wins over some voters.

Asia'h took a risk and sang "All By Myself", which is a difficult one to pull off, and she did it while sick. She broke on the very first chorus, recovered, and did a darn good job for the rest of the song. Bonus points for ballsyness.

Strongest: Carly (way out front), Ramiele, Syesha
Weakest: Amanda, Alaina, Kady

Predicted losers: Amanda, Kady

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Week 2 American Idol: The Guys

Tonight, the theme was the 70's, and we saw better song choices from just about everyone.

Before I get started, I have to air one of my pet peeves. Why hasn't anyone on AI in 8 seasons ever sung a Chicago song? I don't get it. We had two Blood Sweat and Tears songs last week, but never ever anything by Chicago.

Anyway, only one of the guys stunk up the joint tonight: Luke Menard. Two weeks and I hate him already. Any fool can stand up and sing falsetto off-key, and that's apparently his shtick. I hope he's gone on Thursday.

Nobody else stank. David Hernandez ("Papa Was A Rolling Stone") and Chikeze (some Donnie Hathaway song about remembering his name), who were my least favorites last week, were much better tonight and sounded stronger than just about any of the others. Jason Castro, who I really like because of the effortless way he performs, was in my top 3 with Hernandez and David Archuleta. Archuleta is way out front of the pack right now. David Cook was pretty strong as well, so that's 3 Davids in of my top 4 this week.

Danny Noriega (the gay kid) did a passable job with his song, but his personality may not win him any votes. Robbie Carrico did a very bland, slow, and too low performance of Foreigner's "Hot Blooded" and could also be in danger. Jason Yeager did a pretty good "Without Love", but all three judges panned him for the second straight week and that could doom him.

My least favorites this week: Menard and Carrico. I predict Menard and Yeager go home on Thursday.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

How To Cook A Steak

First, get two really nice steaks.

Lightly coat with olive or canola oil, sprinkle with kosher salt and grind on coarse black pepper.

Toss on a HOT grill for 3 minutes per side.

Also coat some thick slices of yellow squash and sweet potato with olive oil, sprinkle kosher salt, and throw on the grill with the steaks.

If it looks so good you forget to take the picture, just take the picture after you've cut half of one of the steaks for your wife.

Perfect pink on the inside!

This is what it looks like when it's done.

It's Curtains for You, Lefty!

The new curtains are complete, sans tie-backs.

Fabric chosen by Bernie, bought and hauled all the way from Malaysia.
Sewing by Jason's Mom.
Valances built, upholstered and installed by Jason.

You can see the framed print in between the windows no longer goes with the curtains. We'll have to replace it with something more appropriate. We have a Chinese lyre and an Indian horn (lying on the desk) to put on the wall as decorations, as well. Mom has a bedskirt from the same material on the way to us.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


I nailed it! The two girls I singled out were the ones sent home. I didn't actually predict for the guys, so I'm claiming a perfect score. I didn't want to see Garrett sent home so early, though. I thought he had some potential. I'm willing to forgive a weak performance in a 17 year old more than I am in an older performer.

It's too early to see trends, though. The first week is just there to survive and get your feet wet. Reset all expectations for next week.

Analyzing the Ladies

I only got to watch the second half of Idol last night, due to basketball awesomeness (I had to watch this one, since I'd ditched the last two games). However, I did DVR it and scanned the first 5 singers after watching the last 7 live.

Syesha - I can't make up my mind if I like her or not, but there's no denying she's good.
Ramilie - My favorite. Two completely different personalities depending on if she's singing or not.
Carly - I wasn't impressed with her until this performance. The band makes a difference.

Going home:
Amy - Oh my God, that was bad.
JoAnne - Not bad, but very weak, and she's playing the fat card too much.

As usual, I'll change my mind week to week. Overall, I was disappointed in the ladies, as I thought they'd be better than the guys based on auditions. Once we weed out the weak ones, I think we'll have a better 6 females than guys, though.

We'll see later on - elimination is tonight.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

First Idol Post of 2008

Bernie and I watched American Idol last night to see the 12 guys sing. There's too many of these people to run down strengths and weaknesses individually, however, I will say that all twelve of these guys are better than any of the guys from last season's finals. Including Blake.

Nobody earned less than 7 out of 10 on my (fictional) scorecard last night, whereas I don't think I would have given that many points to more than a couple of male performances during last season.

I think the Hernandez guy (first performer of the evening) and Chikeze (Jacuzzi, according to Simon) were the worst of the lot, with the falsetto dude Menard close behind. The best was David Archuleta, who if they don't let him giggle like a retarded child on camera too much (like they did last night) might have a chance to win this season. The guy with the dreadlocks wasn't bad either. The Australian guy irritates me for some reason, and he's a quarter pitch flat most of the time. I actually liked the gay kid and the Ellen Degeneres look-alike kid, though Simon hated them.

From what I've seen of the ladies this season, the female contingent will overwhelm the guys once we go head-to-head in 3 weeks. If the guys are better this year, the girls look to be stellar.

Judge-wise, Simon was the worst he's ever been on last night's show. He's definitely scripting his insults before the show airs, and he isn't a good enough actor to hide it. It really doesn't make sense to blather on and on about being "relevant" and "modern" if the theme is 60's night. The contest is for singing, not for arranging (if it was, I'd enter and win). The judge comments were the least interesting aspect of the show last night, which is a switch. I'm beginning to think that Randy actually is the best judge of talent on the panel these days, even if 90% of what he says is indecipherable.

One day, they'll let the vocal coaches from Idol get on camera and tell us what they think. That will be interesting to hear. Probably the only intelligent commenting we'll ever hear from this show.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

End of an Era

In earth-shattering news, the saga of the twisted column has come to an end. The builder finally sent two guys to replace it. The epilogue will be when they come to paint it and my railings.

No other news to report, other than I'm probably going to get sick soon. The evidence is that my face is breaking out - a sure sign that my immune system is in overdrive fighting something.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Prolonging My Life

I've given up watching UNC basketball games for the most part. Not because I don't care - it's because I'll die of a heart attack if I have to endure the adrenaline rush 3 times a week until March.

Two, count-em, TWO overtimes tonight. Down by 16 in the second half, and UNC wins anyway. I can tell you this because I read it online. I didn't watch, and boy am I glad I didn't.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

A Scare and a Frightening Realization

Bernie and I decided to go over to Mom and Dad's house this afternoon. Aunt Pat was visiting, and Mom was planning on having the whole family over for dinner, but we decided to go early since we were out already.

After about an hour, Mom and Bernie decided to go grocery shopping. That left Dad, me, and Aunt Pat watching TV. Dad had taken a misstep on the bottom stair this morning and twisted his ankle, so he had been taking it easy on the sofa. He decided to get up, and his knee decided not to hold him up and he took a fall, whacking his forehead on the sharp edge of the chest-of-drawers.

Blood was everywhere. I ran and got him a wad of damp paper towels, then found an icepack and an old cloth to put pressure on the injuries. To Dad's credit, he didn't pass out. He had three deep cuts - two on his forehead and one on the bridge of his nose. I called mom's cell phone and told her to come home quick.

When she got home, it was decided that we were going to the Emergency Room and Bernie and Aunt Pat would stay home. Dinner was canceled.

After about 6 hours in the ER, Dad got his wounds dressed. No stitches. He had a gouge-type wound that had no edges to pull together, and two flap-type lacerations with edges that wouldn't hold a stitch or dermabond, so they used steri-stips to tape the two lacerations shut and put ointment and a bandage on the gouge. No concussion or other trauma to the head. When they heard of Dad's history and his neck surgery in 2005, they took a CAT-scan of his head to make sure there wasn't any damage.

We got him back home around 8:30.

My Dad has a history of accidents, and since his surgery, he's been predictably getting a bit weaker and clumsier, and has had a number of falls. I find myself getting irrationally angry whenever this happens ("How can you not be more careful, knowing your condition?" etc., etc.). Feeling that way isn't fair, but I guess this is my way of trying to deny that my parents are getting older and not being able to face the fact that they won't be taking care of me forever, and instead they will need me to take care of them in the future.

That's a hard truth to face, because my Dad has always been there to catch me if I mess up. Even if I don't always need that backstop (and there have been times when I've even resented it), I've gotten used to him being there for me. One day, hopefully a long time away, I'll have to go on without him, but that is too frightening to think about. I'm not looking forward to outliving my parents. I have been lucky - my parents love me and my sister, love my wife, love each other, and have been stable, healthy, and supportive for my whole life. When they are gone, I really don't know how I'll cope.

Anyway, Bernie ended up unloading the groceries by herself, and kept Aunt Pat company all afternoon and half the evening - all while worried to death for my Dad. At least I chose the perfect woman to spend the rest of my life with. Both me and my parents agree on that.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Welcome To The Doldrums

The cat is off getting his radiation treatment. He's doing fine, and we'll get him back tomorrow.

Brendan and Alexis dropped in on Sunday and we took them to the sushi buffet and had a nice time. They didn't bring little Garrett, but we keep up with him on his blog.

Watching the Super Bowl was a lot of fun, but you all pretty much know about that.

Work is still good. Most fun job I've ever had, although that is damning it with faint praise.

I'm still fat. I'm beginning to think about Lap-Band surgery. I don't want to be obese when I turn 40 in 2009.

I'm way overdue for an adventure. I don't have any vacation days left, though. We don't get new vacation until May each year. Even when I get some, I'm inclined to save it so I can carry some over to use after May 2009.

Welcome to the February blahs. Happens every year!

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