Friday, May 30, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Burning Popcorn Machine

Bernie and I went out for our "anniversary" dinner tonight. Our actual anniversary was Wednesday, but we obviously were not able to celebrate in the middle of the week, so tonight was the night. We went to see Indiana Jones at the local googolplex.

Of course, being me we're talking about here, some rookie concession stand employee figured that the popcorn maker didn't actually need any oil this evening, so with 15 minutes left in the movie, the fire alarms go off, the projectors stop, and everyone must evacuate the theater. We end up in the parking lot with a billion irate women being deprived of their "Sex and the City" premiere.

We do eventually get to go back inside after the fire department comes and turns off the alarms, and then we get to see the end of the movie.

(Seriously, though...the alarm goes off at the exact moment when Spalko is setting the skull back on the skeleton - the climactic moment in the movie - how likely is that to be a coincidence?)

Anyway, there you go. I can't go to a movie without a fire breaking out. On the plus side, I discovered on the way home that the local gas station stocks Mexican Cokes! With real sugar, not HFCS! Oh my gosh, that tastes so much better!

PS: Indiana Jones pronounces "Nuclear" as nyoo-cyoo-lar, just like the POTUS does.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Surprise! We Went On Vacation!

I just now realized that I haven't mentioned the vacation that we just went on and got back from in this blog. Oops.

We went to Puerto Rico and it was awesome. There's no time today to make a decent blog entry on it, and tomorrow is booked up as well with an after work program to attend and desperately needed grocery shopping, so it'll probably be Thursday before I can attend to this decently.

Trust me, though. We had a great time. Visit Puerto Rico.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Another Season Gone

When I looked at this morning, I saw that they had called the vote for David Cook by a wide margin. This of course contradicted the judges' commentary from last night, so I was looking forward to some backtracking tonight. I got it. Poor Simon had to make up some stories about the performances being closer after he looked at it on TV at home.

Well, this is the second year in a row I've called out the eventual winner early in the season, but it was pretty easy to narrow it down to the final two way back when there were 10 people still competing, so I'm not getting a big head about it - yet.

Congrats to DC, who was either sporting a new guitar tonight, or he just replaced his "AC" decal with a new one. I wouldn't be surprised if one of the guitar manufacturers signed him up to an endorsement deal this week, which would be a first for an Idol.

More observations:

  • I was entertained for two solid hours tonight (except for Jimmy Kimmel, the Pips spoof that went on far too long, and the "you are my brother" guy), and the performers were phenomenal.

  • The group numbers were all extremely good. I think they've been rehearsing for weeks while the competition was still going on in the other arena.

  • Brooke White had her "Idol moment" during her duet with Nash. On the final verse and chorus, the magic happened where two performers suddenly connect with each other, and you could see it on both their faces. This is why musicians do what they do, and it's also why they tend to do drugs - it's an amazing feeling and if you can't make it happen all the time, you look for it elsewhere.

  • I totally can't believe that Randy found an authentic Captain Kangaroo blazer somewhere.
  • Any doubters about the best performer between the Davids need only look at tonight's show. Cook was everywhere, singing harmony, singing lead, singing different genres of music, showing his incredible versatility. Archuleta isn't that great singing harmony, and can't do upbeat stuff, or move around while singing. I think Archie will be great someday, but he's got a lot of work to do in the meantime - he's got to become a musician to get to that next level.

  • Speaking of which - I nearly died laughing when I saw Cook's Guitar Hero commercial. In Archie's version, he was wearing shorts - such a Mormon.

  • I'm going to have dreams about fronting for ZZ Top tonight.

  • Carly looks better each week, and now that the pressure's off, her singing is light-years better than it was while she was still competing. She's lost a lot of weight in 20 weeks.

  • I'd forgotten, as did most of America, how good Jason Castro is when he's in his comfort zone. I read last week that he had been on stage only twice before he auditioned for American Idol, and only learned the guitar two years ago. He's got work to do, but he came a long way really fast, and experience could turn him into a force to be reckoned with in the future.

  • Did it look to any of you like when the fireworks started raining down at the end that the stage managers rushed the Idols into the audience rather quickly? Think that was a snafu?

  • Damn, George Michael is amazing. I wish he'd get his personal act together. Queen should have signed him up to replace Freddie Mercury.

  • I can't wait for DC's CD.

  • It's a shame I won't shell out the cash for the tour, because it should be great - the contestants that lost this year didn't lose for lack of talent, they lost because they broke under pressure. Like Carly, I think they'll really amp it up without the nerves being a factor.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

American Idol finals

Personally, I liked David Cook's songs better tonight. Archuleta was in the zone, however.

I prefer someone that won't reprise something they've done before and chooses something new over someone that had their best performance in week 1 and milks it again in the finals. That's the difference between an artist and a singer.

No predictions. We'll see how the voting goes. I'll be happy either way.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

We're Sale-ing A-wayyyyyy...

Yesterday was the neighborhood yard sale, and we were both busy and lazy all week, so we didn't prepare as completely for it as we should have. We spent Friday night hauling boxes out of the attic and sticking price tags on stuff, and it was 1 am before we realized it.

The next morning, of course, we had to get up at 6 am and set up for the sale. If you do the math, that's only 5 hours of sleep. This will come into play later in this story.

The neighborhood didn't have this sale last year, so the last time we did this was two years ago, and at that time, we had just moved in and had a TON of junk to get rid of. This time, we were shocked to see that there really wasn't a whole lot of stuff to get rid of. I had various power adapters, and computer junk, an old PDA, our old weed-eater, a hedge trimmer, and that's about it. We had an old waffle iron and our old rice cooker, and then Bernie had various soft items like place mats, and we had a lot of old clothes. The rest was very small stuff.

Compared to our across-the-alley neighbors, we were strictly small-time. The neighbor's son works for 1-800-GOT-JUNK, and he's been cherry-picking good stuff from the junk they collect. He had several 35mm cameras, an electric scooter, potted tropical plants that came from a pro football player that got traded to New York, furniture, etc. People were backing up their trucks to their garage all day.

Anyway, we were let down by the neighborhood association, which had sent a newsletter item saying the sale would be published in the paper and that a charity was sending a truck in the afternoon to pick up anything we couldn't sell. In fact, neither item was true, so the traffic was very light. At the end of the day, I was surprised to hear that Bernie and I had sold $120 of stuff.

Strangely enough, she sold 5 or 6 Malaysia keychains (you know, tourist-type souvenirs) that she had brought home from our last trip. You never know what's going to be popular.

Anyway, we loaded up the clothes that didn't sell and hauled them in the back of my truck to Goodwill, then went to our favorite sushi place for a late lunch.

Interesting side story: We discovered our favorite sushi chef's Servsafe certificate on the wall. His name is Jackie, but we saw his Chinese name on the certificate, and it's really Zhao Qi Chen. "Zhao Qi" Americanized to "Jackie" - so he's Jackie Chen! (Chen is pronounced pretty much like "Chan", folks, so bear with me). Furthermore, Bernie tells me that "Zhao Qi" means "The real thing" in Chinese. That's just a pretty cool name any way you look at it.

After lunch, we came home and moved the remaining boxes indoors and collapsed in exhaustion. At this time, I was reminded there is a party across the street in two hours and we have to make a cake for it. Bernie gets started on the cake, and I decide that I need to make a contribution also.

A couple of weeks ago, I caved in to an impulse and bought the "As Seen On TV" pancake puff maker. I thought I'd try it out and see if it could make something for the party. After looking in the freezer, I saw only some ground beef, so I decided to make cheeseburger pancake puffs. Ground beef, dehydrated onion, ketchup, mustard, cheese. Darned if the filling didn't taste just like McDonalds! Anyway, the pancake puffs are the real deal - they came out very nice, using the normal old Bisquick recipe. I made a huge mess of the stove top in the process, dripping batter everywhere, though.

So after a quick shower, we dash over to the party, pausing in the process only to toss a soccer ball back to the kids from across the street, who manage to kick it over our fence three times in 15 minutes while we are trying to leave. I tell them they need more practice - but not here, because we're leaving and can't get the ball for them any more today.

Once we get to the party, it turns out to be a good thing I made the cheeseburger puffs, because the neighbors bring the kids along (the puffs disappear once the kids figure out what they were). A couple of hours later, we come home and decide we're too tired to clean up. I stay awake about 30 minutes before I can't keep my eyes open any longer. We've been on our feet all day since 6 am, on 5 hours sleep, and even though it's only 10pm, it's bedtime. Zzzzzzz.

That's a whole weekend of work in just one day.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

No Surprises

Well, it looks like AI's going to play out as expected.

Syesha had two good performances with her choice and Randy's choice of songs, and did as well as she could on the idiotic choice from the producers. Can someone please tell me why Lythgoe and Fuller would pick a dance track for a singing competition?

Archie had a good performance on Paula's choice of song ballad, a mediocre performance of the producers' choice of song ballad, and a bad performance of his choice of ballad...whoa, wait! He did something upbeat by his own choice? Okay, my mind is blown. Too bad he messed it up. I caught a couple of mumbled lyrics in there, followed by some shaky notes. I tell you, if he wanted to do something upbeat, he should have picked "Cherry Pie" or "Pour Some Sugar On Me". I know it sounds weird, but I think his voice would actually work in hair metal music.

David Cook was 2 for 3 for me tonight. Simon's choice was a challenge with "First Time Ever I Saw Your Face", and he mashed it up pretty darn well. David's choice was only average, and he was off-pitch quite a bit while singing it. (Dunno why David doesn't do well if he's the one picking the genre). His last performance was "Don't Wanna Miss A Thing" with Diane Warren in the audience, and he faked everyone out by starting with the orchestra accompaniment and stuck with it much longer than Aerosmith's version, sticking the bridge in before the chorus and finally rocking out on the chorus at the very end.

It'll be the Davids next week.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Song Choices and How I Would Have Done It

I've gotta say, I've been HUGELY disappointed with song choices all season on American Idol. Aside from David Cook and Kristy Lee Cook at the end of her run, I don't think we had anyone make a well-considered musical choice on any show.

So with that in mind, I'm going to lay out how I would have chosen songs for each Idol this season.

Top 12- Lennon/McCartney:

Singer Song Choice Better Choice Comments
Chikezie Eze "She's A Woman" "She Came in Through the Bathroom Window " He could have wailed on this one
David Archuleta "We Can Work It Out" "Day Tripper" I can actually hear his vocals working on this up-tempo song
David Cook "Eleanor Rigby" "Eleanor Rigby" This was the good choice of the night and the first indication that DC was special
David Hernandez "I Saw Her Standing There" "And I Love Her" He should have stuck with Beatle ballads
Jason Castro "If I Fell" "Maxwell's Silver Hammer"
He's the only one that can pull off the slightly more twisted Beatles songs.
Michael Johns "Across The Universe" "Why Don't We Do It in the Road? " Michael really needed an injection of testosterone at this point in the competition
Amanda Overmyer "You Can't Do That" "I Saw Her Standing There " A much more appropriate song for her voice
Brooke White "Let It Be" "Let It Be" One of only three decent song choices that night
Carly Smithson "Come Together" "Penny Lane " This early in the season, she needed to show a softer side of her vocals
Kristy Lee Cook "Eight Days A Week" "Yesterday " Anything's an improvement over that hoe-down version of "8 days a week"
Ramiele Malubay "In My Life" "The Long and Winding Road " This would have been more memorable
Syesha Mercado "Got To Get You Into My Life" "Got To Get You Into My Life" The last good song choice of the evening

Top 11 - Beatles:

Singer Song Choice Better Choice Comments
Chikezie Eze "I've Just Seen A Face" "I Got A Feeling" Good song for belting out his baritone vocal
David Archuleta "The Long And Winding Road" "Do You Want to Know a Secret " The girls in the mosh pit would love this one
David Cook "Day Tripper" "Come Together " I'd love to hear what he'd do with this song
Jason Castro "Michelle" "All I've Got to Do " Guitar strumming, happy-go-lucky, head bobbing. It's Jason all over.
Michael Johns "A Day In The Life" "I'm Only Sleeping " Good, laid back song with strong melody line in his range
Amanda Overmyer "Back In The U.S.S.R." "Back In The U.S.S.R." Good choice
Brooke White "Here Comes The Sun" "Hey Jude" Piano song.
Carly Smithson "Blackbird " Blackbird Good choice
Kristy Lee Cook "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away" "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da " She'd have been much more memorable with an uptempo song like this
Ramiele Malubay "I Should Have Known Better" "I'll Cry Instead " Upbeat and in her vocal range
Syesha Mercado "Yesterday " "I Should Have Known Better" This was a much more appropriate song for Syesha than Ramiele

Top 10 - Birth Year:

Singer Song Choice Better Choice Comments
Chikezie If Only For One Night - Luther Vandross No change Chikeze sounded good on this one
David Archuleta
You're The Voice -John Farnham Cherry Pie - Warrant Admit it, if he'd actually sung this, you'd be a fan, right?
David Cook Billie Jean -Michael Jackson No change This was his breakthrough moment of the season
Jason Castro
Fragile -Sting Faith - George Michael Upbeat, guitar strumming song. Right up Jason's alley
Michael Johns We Will Rock You /We Are The Champions- Queen No change I can't blame him for trying Queen after his triumph in Hollywood
Brooke White Every Breath You Take - The Police No change The judges liked it, so I don't see a reason to change it
Carly Smithson Total Eclipse Of the Heart - Bonnie Tyler No change Good song for her, but not so good performance.
Kristy Lee Cook God Bless The U.S.A. - Lee Greenwood No change This was the moment she turned it all around
Ramiele Malubay
Alone - Heart I Think We're Alone Now - Tiffany The cuteness factor of her singing this song is irresistable
Syesha Mercado If I Were Your Woman - Stephanie Mills No change I actually liked this.

Top 9 - Dolly Parton:

Singer Song Choice Better Choice Comments
David Archuleta Smoky Mountain Memories Great Balls Of Fire Dolly actually recorded this one. He'd have impressed me if he'd have chosen it
David Cook Little Sparrow No Change
Jason Castro Travelin' Thru No Change
Michael Johns It's All Wrong, But It's All Right No Change
Brooke White Jolene Me and Little Andy This song is so sad that Brooke would have made Simon cry
Carly Smithson Here You Come Again No Change
Kristy Lee Cook Coat Of Many Colors No Change
Ramiele Malubay Do I Ever Cross Your Mind Jolene She needed a strong song in her mid-range with some attitude
Syesha Mercado I Will Always Love You No Change

Top 8 - Inspirational Songs:

Singer Song Choice Better Choice Comments
David Archuleta Angels - Robbie Williams No Change Excellent Choice
David Cook Innocent - Our Lady Peace I Believe I Can Fly - R. Kelly His smoky low range would work well here.
Jason Castro Over The Rainbow - Israel
No Change Jason's best song all season
Michael Johns Dream On - Aerosmith Eye Of The Tiger - Survivor Dream On isn't inspirational. Eye of the Tiger makes you want to work out.
Brooke White You've Got A Friend - Carole King I Can See Clearly Now - Johnny Nash Slightly less predictable and it's got a little beat to it
Carly Smithson The Show Must Go On - Queen The Rose - Bette Midler Replacing depressing with inspirational.
Kristy Lee Cook Anyway - Martina McBride No Change She really performed this one well
Syesha Mercado I Believe - Fantasia Walking on Sunshine - Katrina and the Waves Getting her out of the Diva copycat business. This is a fun song, too.

Top 7 - Mariah Carey:

Singer Song Choice Better Choice Comments
David Archuleta When You Believe No Change One of the few times I liked what he sang
David Cook Always Be My Baby No Change This was a triumph. He could have recorded this.
Jason Castro I Don't Wanna Cry No Change For Jason, this was pretty good.
Brooke White Hero Through the Rain This would have been perfect for her understated style
Carly Smithson Without You I Still Believe I can't believe she didn't pick this in the first place.
Kristy Lee Cook Forever No Change Even though she lost the vote, this was one of her best performances ever.
Syesha Mercado Vanishing Vision of Love This was the one week she could be forgiven for singing a diva song.

Top 6 - Andrew Lloyd Webber:

Singer Song Choice Better Choice Comments
David Archuleta Think Of Me - 'Phantom of the Opera' No Change Archie had probably been saving this idea all season
David Cook Music Of The Night - 'Phantom of the Opera' No Change The bravo performance of the night
Jason Castro Memory - 'Cats' Crazy - Starlight Express This is the only song I can find from ALW that Jason could have pulled off
Brooke White You Must Love Me - 'Evita' No Change This would have been good had she not screwed it up.
Carly Smithson Superstar - 'Jesus Christ Superstar' No Change "All I Ask Of You" would have doomed her. Too bad she got voted out anyway.
Syesha Mercado One Rock n' Roll Too Many - 'Starlight Express' No Change Darn good choice. This marked Syesha's rise up the rankings

...and that take us up to two weeks ago. I've been writing for 3 hours, so I'll catch up on this another time.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

As If It Weren't Obvious

For those of you who didn't see the show last night, Jason Castro is certain to be eliminated tonight.

He butchered both his songs like they were a bad audition tape. First song: "I Shot the Sheriff", the arrangement was disjointed and he whined all the way through it. It was hard to tell what kind of sound he was going for, reggae or rock. Second song: "Mr. Tambourine Man", he forgot the words and la-la'ed through it. Jason gave it about 20% more energy than usual tonight and it only made things worse. He had hinted in an interview last week that he was ready to go home, and he got caught on camera yawning during introductions. I think he smokes pot during commericals. Honestly.

Anyway, Syesha continued her rise up the boards with what I thought were the two best songs of the night, a copycat Tina Turner "Proud Mary" and a slow croon for "Looks Like Things Are Gonna Change". Archuleta picked two ballads again - go figure. He did "Stand By Me", sang one verse and cheesed it up by improv-ing lyrics addressed to the girls in the mosh pit. He followed that up with "Love Me Tender" and did the same thing. David Cook was underwhelming with "Hungry Like The Wolf" and above average with "Baba O'Riley".

All in all, a snooze-fest.

The broadcast sound quality was the worst ever. Most songs sounded like they were a capella. You could see the band playing but couldn't hear them at all. If this show is about music, it sure doesn't show it.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Cleansing over (for me)

24 hours between meals and I was done. I really wanted to make it that 24 hours, though, just to prove something to myself.

Bernie's still going, but her resolve is starting to weaken. She's got a headache, so I told her to take a teaspoon of the maple syrup she uses for her drink and to hold it on her tongue for as long as she could. Hopefully, that'll get her blood sugar up a bit.

I'd feel a little better about this cleanse if it were only a 3 day program.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Household Cleansing

If you read my wife's blog, you probably know about this internal cleanse business.

What you probably don't know is that I volunteered to do it with her. Am I insane?

I am in it until the first migraine happens, anyway. That was my promise. So until the pain-hammer starts, I'm taking the saltwater drink in the morning and my only nutrition is lots and lots of lemonade made with maple syrup.

So far, I've missed two meals and dinner time is fast approaching. I've thought about food pretty much all day. I've accomplished putting a liner in the bottom of the storage ottoman I built last summer, and done a lot of web surfing. I may go outside and put the finishing touches on the bamboo bench from last fall, so we can move it to the garden where it belongs.

Is it bad when you watch Man vs Wild on Discovery, and the worms and insects Bear Grylls eats make you hungry?

Friday, May 02, 2008


Oh My God. This movie rocks.

Best Super-hero movie ever. Batman Begins? Bah. Spider-Man? Ptui! X-men? I laugh.

Robert Downey, Jr. is the best actor ever cast in a super-hero role, and it makes all the difference. I could watch a whole movie of just Tony Stark never getting into the armor and be entertained.

Be warned! (I wasn't) You must stay to the end of the credits. (I didn't). If you don't, you'll be sorry. (I am).

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