Wednesday, January 30, 2008

First Wives Club

Now that the field of presidential candidates has been whittled down to a manageable size, it's time to take a look at the positives and negatives of each of the possible First Spouses. Face it, this will be a woman/man who will be front and center, representing our country on the world stage along with his/her spouse for at least four years. Who do you want to see in this position? Who's your idea of the perfect first lady/gent? More on the lines of Jacqueline Kennedy or Eleanor Roosevelt? Betty Ford or Rosalynn Carter?

In the interest of keeping things fair, this is in alphabetical order. I really look forward to your comments!

Bill Clinton
Positives:
• It would be really cool to have a man as first mate.
• He gives a good speech.
• People around the world know him and love him.
• He has his own office staff in Harlem that does foundation work.
Negatives:
• We know what we're getting, there's no excuse in trying to ignore the baggage Bill would bring back with him to the White House. The women, the glory grabbing, the drama, the red face, the finger pointing, etc. etc.
• It may be a problem keeping him out of his wife's oval office during business hours...or after hours for that matter.


Cindy McCain
Positives:
• Cindy is a good role model for women balancing home and business. She’s the chairman of her family’s business, Hensley & Company, one of the largest Anheuser-Bush distributors in the United States. Very impressive.
• Cindy has a generous heart. She brought an orphan infant from Bangladesh home with her without asking John first. That was bold.
• On the fun scale she was a rodeo queen in 1968.
• She's an active volunteer, advocating for children’s healthcare needs around the globe through HALO, Operation Smile and CARE, USA.
• She's attractive, poised, well dressed.
• She looks good with long or short hair.
Negatives:
• She had a little bitty drug problem a few years back, but hopefully she attends Narcotics Anonymous meetings regularly and takes it one day at a time.
• She and John met while he was still married to his first wife. He got divorced and married Cindy a month later. I know it was a long time ago, but it's still a little unseemly for my taste.
• Cindy wouldn't break any new ground in her role, she's gone on record as saying `the American public wants a traditional First Lady'. [Actually, you may see this as a positive]
• Cindy had a stroke in 2004, so she may have some underlying health issues.

Michelle Obama
Positives:
• Michelle's a magna cum laude graduate of Princeton. Princeton!
• She's an accomplished lawyer in her own right.
• Tall and statuesque, but of all the candidates' spouses looks most like one of us.
• Mom to those two cute little girls (6 & 8) and we'd get to watch them grow up.
• She's friends with Oprah. Wouldn't it be fun to see Oprah and Gayle at a state dinner? Oprah could do a show on it, and put it in O Magazine. Shoot, Oprah could get her friend Colin Cowie to plan it!
• At 44, Michelle's the youngest of the possible First Ladies. Might be fun to have someone in there with more contemporary taste in pop culture.
• In July 2007, Vanity Fair magazine listed her among "10 of the World's Best Dressed People". I like an attractive, easy to watch presidency, don't you?
• I've heard Michelle speak and she's funny, articulate, and comfortable in the spotlight.
Negatives:
• Juggling motherhood and her new role might be tough. It's hard enough to raise kids without 300 million people watching your every move.
• She could become easily bored if she can't work outside the big house and is relegated to picking the china pattern for the dinners or choosing a non-controversial cause to back like guide dogs for the blind.
• Travel with her husband could be a problem if she can't take the kids. And who would want to take those sweet things to some third world country where you have to boil water?



Ann Romney
Positives:
• She and Mitt have a storybook relationship. They met when he was 18 and she was 15. Mitt calls her `my sweetheart' and I really like that. I bet he sends her flowers.
• She's a very attractive woman with a beautiful family. She's a great example to women who choose to be SAHMs.
• You may not know this, but Ann has MS. Mitt says he'd leave the race if she became seriously ill. Nice to hear his priorities are in the right place. I want my husband to put me first that way.
• The way she handles her illness is very inspiring, she's not a victim...she rarely talks about it.
• I appreciate that she sees her role in this campaign as a supporter, not a way to present her personal crusades. Most of the time she's on the campaign trail with Mitt, not off on her own.
• She wears great clothes and would bring some country club casual style back to the White House.
• I've seen photos of the interior of one of their homes and I think she probably has a personal pipeline to some great decorators who could update the White House decor in a classic, tasteful manner befitting the White House.
• With all those beautiful kids (5 sons and daughters-in-law and 11 grandkids) they'd have a really lovely Christmas card.
Negatives:
• I worry about her MS and what would happen if Mitt was elected president and she became seriously ill. I think it would be next to impossible for him to concentrate on negotiating with Iran on limiting their nuclear technology, planning a summit with Putin, or getting universal healthcare passed if Ann was incapacitated.
• With all their money she may be a little too much a part of The Junior League crowd and not so much a part of us pot-luckers.

What do you think? Please add your comments. This is an open discussion.

American Idol Recap--The Miami Sound Machine

It's got the beach, the snowbirds, Ocean Drive, lots of retired folks, palm trees, Little Havana, salsa music...and now Miami's playing host to the American Idol auditions.

Shannon McGough a meat-handling, burping, sequin beret-wearing, brunette is up first. Her family shows us some of the awards she's won on display in their shop. Shannon is genuinely in shock after her audition when the judges tell her how bad she is. Her mother is in even more shock than Shannon.

Boy bander turned Rocker Robbie Carrico is up. All three judges vote yes and Robbie's friends spray him with silly string confetti.

Next is a curly-headed guy who looks a little like Dodi Fayed before the car accident, I think his name is Ghaleb. Looking a lot older than his 27, Ghaleb sings a song he wrote. Simon says he'd like him if he was drunk. Paula likes him, but worries about his accent. Unbelievably, Randy says yes. Now it's up to Paula to break the tie--after lalalalalaing to herself awhile, she says yes. This guy Ghaleb is going to Hollywood.

Brittany and Corliss two large black women are next. First we have to hear about what kind of men they both like. I could have done without that. Corliss Smith is first. Simon tells her to sing to Randy. She's alright, sings about tingles in her feet. Brittany sings "My Guy." Simon gives them both thumbs up, Paula says yes, Randy follows suit. I think the judges are tired. They've lost their edge. These girls are no Mandisa and Lakisha.

Tonight's sad story comes from Suzanne Tune. Suzanne's 21 now, but became a single mom at 18. She doesn't tell us why, but her daughter's dad chose not to stick it out with her. Suzanne is sick of struggling. She's pinning her hopes on American Idol to help her and her daughter, Madison, out of the rut they're in. This Suzanne Tune can sing, plus she's hot. What a combo. Hot, hot, hot, in hot, hot, hot, Miami. Yes, Ms. Tune is playing our tune. She's going from the Atlantic Coast to the Pacific Coast--she's got her golden ticket to match the golden curls inexplicably piled around her head like a Shirley Temple doll.

Ramiele Mulabay wants to be the first Asian American Idol. Is that even possible? Think about it. I ask again, is that even possible? Simon thinks she's cute. Paula thinks she's adorable. Randy says she's small. Ramiele chooses "Natural Woman." Paula seal claps. Simon thinks she's a good singer, but not a contemporary singer. Randy and Paula overrule Simon.

Day 2
Saesha Mercado is in a happy place. That's what she tells us. Her dad has just graduated from rehab. He has the diploma to prove it. Saesha treats us to "Think Freedom" by Aretha. She has a big voice. The positive thinking has paid off for Saesha, because now she's going to Hollywood. Hopefully her dad won't feel a need to go out and celebrate.

"At Last" is Natashia Blach's song choice. There's one in every group, isn't there? Randy likes her old school style, Paula says 1 million percent yes, Simon joins them and Natashia is going to H-wood.

Ilsy Lorena Pinot makes it three in a row. She looks like someone from Miami. Maybe because she is.

Well, we don't get to hear the boys, but we get to see some of them blasting out of the audition doors with golden tickets so we know at least some guys are going to Hollywood.

Julie Dubela who was in the top 20 of American Juniors four years ago is next. We see some retrospective video from American Juniors while Julie tells us she's not a quitter, music is her life, and she doesn't believe in mediocrity. Actually, she's way better looking today than she was when she was 12. Unfortunately, she was way more likeable as a 12-year-old. After impressing the judges with her cocky and confident attitude--arrogant? precocious? over-indulged?--Julie treats us to "Me and Bobby McGee" reminding us there's only one Janis. Simon tells her to move to LA and become an actress. Julie doesn't take his advice well, but finally leaves the audition room.

Brandon Black is our final contestant. He's scary. Singing "I'll Make Love to You" he starts taking his clothes off and doing some strange gyrations that should have been left at home. I hate it when we end things on a low note. But that's it, folks. I didn't edit the show.

17 people who auditioned in Miami are going to Hollywood. Who stood out? My votes go to Ilsy Pinot, Natashia Blach, and Suzanne Tune.

Goodnight Miami.

A Phrase I Wish I'd Never Hear Again

Baby bump.

Enough said.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

American Idol Omaha Recap--High Stakes

Omaha rolls out the green crop circle for American Idol and delivers 10,000 contestants to stand in line around the Qwest Center waiting for their auditions. I grew up there and even I think this is a huge percentage of the population. Believe it or not, Omaha has a long line of folks who've made it big in Hollywood: Sandy Dennis, Marlon Brando, Henry Fonda, Nick Nolte, Gabrielle Union, Dick Cavett, Johnny Carson and more. Granted, I couldn't come up with any famous singers or musicians, but there must be some. Oh yeah, Mannheim Steamroller. Back to the auditions...

Lots of midwest farmer's daughters and wholesome guys are lined up. Paula's plane has been delayed, but the show must go on.

Chris Bernhisel is ready to explode in happiness now that he's actually auditioning. He's hoping for a "life alternating" change. [Note to east and west coasters: All midwesterners do not talk like this.] Chris brings gifts for the judges. A furry stuffed animal, a shirt, and some photos of Chris with Kelly Clarkson. Chris starts crying when Simon asks him why he's auditioning. Regardless of his answer, he shouldn't have auditioned. Chris sings Since You've Been Gone, which he tops off with a handstand. The handstand was the best part.

Jason Rich, from Stout, Iowa a town of 500, is up next. He's either really good or really bad because the producers go to the trouble of shooting him on a farm riding a tractor. Jason gets through a few bars of Keith Whitley--twice--and both times forgets the words. This is really uncomfortable for all of us. Simon and Randy give him more chances than they should, but he finally makes it through nearly a whole verse. Randy likes him, Simon likes him and even though he forgot the words and they don't see any star quality--they're sending him through to Hollywood.

Paula shows up.

Just an observation: This is a really blonde crowd.

Rachel Wicker, who's won six arm wrestling championships, belts out Lee Ann Womack's Don't Tell Me to Stop Loving You. She looks a little like Julia Roberts with short, blonde hair. Randy asks why everyone who sings country does it with a half yodel. I've wondered that myself. Still, in the words of Ryan, Rachel strong arms her way to Hollywood.

Now we have a professional lady wrestler, Sara AKA "Lady Morgue". Sara's all goth with black shiny leather raincoat, weird eye makeup, dominatrix boots. A couple of blondes waiting their turn are appalled. Lady Morgue does not make it through.

Ryan and Paula switch places. A really sweet, self-effacing, Samantha Sidley sings I Don't Know Why by Norah Jones. Ryan gives Samantha a hard time, Paula comes back in the room. Samantha gets three yesses and is going on to Hollywood.

After Samantha, we're treated to three short snippets of good auditions. Elizabeth Erkert, Denise Jackson and Michael Sanfilippo all get golden tickets. The heartland is on a roll.

Tonight's sad story is from Anjelica Fuente. She's from Kenosho, Wisconsin and lives with her grandmother. She moved out of her mom and dad's house, because her dad is strict. Maybe American Idol can reunite them. She just wants to make her dad proud. Anjelica sings Celine's Power of Love and it sounds like an impression. Anjelica starts crying because she's really nervous. The judges look past her mediocre audition and move her on to Hollywood. Ryan calls Anjelica's dad and the dad sounds like a normal guy, he tells Anjelica he loves her. There's hope for their relationship

Now we're transitioning to the rock segment. David Cook a bartender/musician from Tulsa is up next. He thinks he brings something different to the table. I can't wait. Living on a Prayer by Bon Jovi is his song and even though I didn't hear anything that different, it was good. All three judges say thumbs up and David's packing his leather jacket for a trip to LA.

Johnny Escamilla is next. He's wearing a cheap gold jacket that looks like it came from his mom's closet. Johnny admits he's one of the weirdest people you'll ever meet. Off camera, Paula lets out what sounds like a shriek, but it was a really loud hiccup. What's in that coke glass, anyway? We know, we know, it's coke. Johnny sings "Shout", making us all want to shout at our televisions. Simon tells poor Johnny he hates everything--the jacket, the dancing, and the singing. Johnny gets a no all the way around. He thanks the judges and leaves quietly.

Another montage of weirdos. This time lots of folks sing "Stuck in the Middle of You."

The final auditioner is Leo Marlowe. Leo sings Danny Hathaway's, A Song for You, and he sounds great. Simon likes him and gives him an absolute yes. Paula gives him the touch down sign. Randy shakes his hand. He's moving on to Hollywood.

Did you notice how pleasant all the contestants were? Even the slightly strange ones like Johnny Escamilla, Lady Morgue, and Chris Bernhisel seemed nice. No one talked back or got obnoxious with the judges. Quite refreshing for American Idol auditions. In all, we'll see 19 people who auditioned in Omaha in Hollywood. I'm going to keep my eye on David Cook, Samantha Sidley, and Leo Marlowe.

Why American Idol Held Auditions In Omaha


Tonight American Idol auditions come from my hometown—Omaha, Nebraska. I thought I’d head off a chorus of whys by posting some fun facts (beyond beef and beefy football players) about this little known jewel in the heart of the Midwest.

• Marlon Brando, Henry Fonda, Nick Nolte, Montgomery Clift, Dorothy McGuire, and Fred Astaire grew up in Omaha. Marlon Brando’s mother gave Henry Fonda acting lessons at the Omaha Community Playhouse.
• The 911 system of emergency communications, now used nationwide, was developed and first used in Lincoln, Nebraska
• Both Malcolm X and Gerald Ford were born in Omaha
• Borsheims in Omaha is the largest jewelry store in the nation.
• Hall of Famer Bob Gibson is from Omaha and still lives there.
• Johnny Carson grew up in Norfolk, Nebraska. Dick Cavett grew up in Gibbon, Nebraska.
• Warren Buffet has a net worth of over $52 billion. He’s been living in the same house in Omaha since 1958 (which he bought for $31,500).
• Buffalo Bill (William Cody) started his famous Wild West Show near his ranch in North Platte. The first rodeo was held in North Platte on July 4, 1882.
• Kool-Aid was invented by Edwin Perkins in 1927 in Hastings. He changed his soft drink syrup, Fruit Smack, into a powder to make it easier to ship.
• Omaha has been the home of the College World Series since 1950
• Boys Town, renamed Boys and Girls Town in 2000, the "City of Little Men," was founded in 1917 by Father Flanagan, as a shelter for homeless boys. The 1938 movie, "Boys Town," portrays the orphanage and Father Flanagan's contribution to the shelter; Spencer Tracy (as Father Flanagan) won an academy award in 1938 for his role in the movie.
• With a population of over 390,000 people, Omaha is Nebraska's largest city. More than one million people live within a 50-mile radius of the city. The city and its suburbs forms the 60th-largest metropolitan area in the United States
• Forbes Magazine puts Omaha in the Top 15 regions of the country that provide exceptional quality of life and a stable economy.
• Nebraska is the birthplace of the Reuben sandwich.
• Omaha is the smallest city in the United States to have three major research hospitals.
• Nebraska was the first state to complete its segment of the nation’s interstate system, a 455 mile stretch of four lane highway.
• Nebraska has more underground water reserves than any other state in the continental U.S.
• Omaha’s high school graduation rate is higher than 90%.

So now you know.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Is Hillary Tracy Flick? Slate Says "Yes"

Remember the movie Election? Pick Flick? Watch this video from Slate Magazine--hilarious. Now I know who she reminds me of.

Art From Those Pesky Fruit Stickers

Stickerman Produce Artist Barry Snyder

Spa Weekend

This weekend I went to a women's retreat where we pampered ourselves and shared our cares, our concerns, our joys and our worries. It's so great to have a group of friends to confide in. This group is extra special because they're women of all ages and backgrounds. On the surface it may not look like we have much in common, but the more we get together the more our commonalities shine through. We had so much fun giving each other spa treatments, talking, studying, singing, praying, and of course--eating. Here are some photos.








Sunday, January 27, 2008

Don't Try This In Real Life


No matter what you tell them, sometimes kids will just be kids. Apparently some boys in Indiana wanted to test the theory in "A Christmas Story" about tongues and frozen flagpoles. You can guess what happened.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Mary Kate & Heath

What's the link between Mary Kate Olsen and Heath Ledger? Why would his masseuse call MKO (#7 on my list of most annoying people of 2007) after finding him unresponsive before dialing 911?

What's New In The Race For President [I'm Paying Attention So You Don't Have To]


Hardball's Chris Matthews referred to Mitt Romney tonight as a mood ring.

On the other side of the aisle, Barack Obama said today the Clintons will “fudge the truth” and will “say anything to get a political or tactical advantage.”

Pat Buchanan and Bill Press agree on one thing: Mitt Romney is like the guys they used to hate in high school. He's everything they're not--rich, smart, handsome, athletic. hmmmmmmm. Don't most people grow out of that phase?

Here's John McCain's take on Mitt: "Never get into a wrestling match with a pig. You both get dirty, and the pig likes it."

Rudy Giuliani has put all his eggs in the Floriday primary basket. Right now, polls have him coming in third. If he doesn't win the state, will he drop out? He's not saying.

And, get used to it, Bill Clinton intends to stay on the campaign trail, dogging Barack Obama. In fact, Hillary's aides have beefed up his appearances. He said, "I love this election...It's exciting."

South Carolina State Representative Gilda Cobb-Hunter is quoted in USA Today as saying Clinton crossed the line with his critiques of Obama. "Why doesn't he go sit down? It's like he doesn't want to let go. It's kind of sad. Bless his heart. He wants to remain the center of attention."

Another one bites the dust. Dennis Kucinich dropped out of the race. Now he can concentrate on impeaching President Bush and Vice President Cheney.

Finally, Mike Huckabee has been uncharacteristically quiet the last couple of days. Probably because he's out of money.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Doin' The Charleston

10,000 folks showed up in Charleston to audition for American Idol. Will the south do it again? We'll find out.

First scene is a guy leaving the auditions because his wife is having a baby. Bet we see him again.

Uh, oh. Krystal and Randy, a couple who met on the American Idol message boards, are auditioning together. Scary. It becomes a really bad duet with frightening vibrato. As Simon puts it, the good news is they found each other.

Michelle and Jeffrey, a brother/sister team, are also auditioning together. Between them there's a whole lot of love goin on, if you know what I mean. They sound nice together, although Jeffrey's definitely the heavyweight of the two. Book some extra seats, because they're both going to Hollywood.

Amy Kathryn Flynn is up, she's captain of the dance team for her Catholic high school. AKF gives us a sermonette on abstinence and self control. Moving on to the singing her choice is Reflections. Paula says her voice is pure (like AKF herself) and votes yes. Simon thinks the song was too big for her. Randy says she has "mad potential". They move her on to Hollywood. Bring a chaperone.

London Weidberg, a native of Charleston not England, is the last contestant of the day. London put her music on hold while her dad was sick and fought a losing battle with cancer. Billie Holliday's Good Morning, Heartache is her song of choice. Randy liked her tone, as did Paula. Simon said she wasn't unique and there will be thousands of others like her. Paula and Randy send her to Hollywood anyway.

Day Two
The judges hope to see better talent today. Unfortunately, they don't.

Here comes Aretha. No, not the real Aretha. Aretha Codner. This Aretha has some definite assets you'd have to see for yourself. Aretha says she's as good as Fantasia and proceeds to sing Whitney. Simon criticizes Aretha's outfit which is strange since her audition was really awful. She argues with him as he gets around to telling her how bad her singing is. All three judges vote no, although Randy says he likes her belt. Aretha continues to argue until Simon throws her out of the audition room.

Oliver, the baby daddy, is back (as I predicted). Oliver is dressed like the treasurer of the local young Republicans' chapter. He sings and I think he's better than the judges do, they give him three thumbs down. Oliver introduces baby Emma Grace to Simon, Randy and Paula, but it doesn't do any good--he's still not going to Hollywood.

That's it for Charleston. With only one, maybe two, sort of okay contestants, these were not its finest moments.

Things I Don't Understand (cont'd)

6. The year I buy two new pairs of boots and have another on order, it doesn't snow.

#1-#3
#4-#5

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

American Idol's San Diego Zoo

Well, a twist for tonight's recap. I'm only going to go for the good ones. Sorry, but it just sucks the life out of me to have to think of quasi-clever things to say about people with too much self esteem and too little talent.

We start with Tatiana (sp?). Simon says, "I don't think you're as good as you think you are." I don't remember hearing Simon saying that a single time in all of the first six seasons, but he used the same exact criticism last week for another female contestant. 0 times in 6 years. 2 times in 1 week. Weird. Anyway, Tatiana makes it through. On her way out the door Simon calls her obnoxious.

Next sort of decent audition is a guy named Michael from Australia (I think there was a `down under' reference, anyway). He sings some soul and gets three thumbs up. Note, this is the first time this year Randy compliments a contestant for making a song their own. Moving on.

A pretty girl named Samantha comes in the room with her less attractive sister. It's the non-singing sister's goal to meet Barack Obama, Oprah and Simon. Simon invites her to judge Samantha's performance with him. Samantha sings Aretha's `til You Come Back To Me and actually sounds quite good. Her sister gives her two cents and, surprisingly, starts off with a slight diss worrying about Samantha's performing ability. Fortunately, the judges ignore the sibling rivalry and move the pretty sister on to Hollywood.

Another first. The first time in six plus years of auditions that I hear a contestant use the word `chutzpah'. Even though the kid doesn't make it, I wanted you to know.

Day 2

David Archuleta is interviewed by Ryan. He tells us about suffering from vocal paralysis two years earlier. His doctor wanted to do surgery, but David didn't want to risk it. He thinks he's okay now. He looks like he's about 12, but he's really 16. David sings Waiting on the World to Change, Randy inexplicably sings back up. Paula likes his tone, David's that is. Simon like his choice of song. Randy says yes, Paula says she wants to squish David and votes yes, Simon makes it unanimous. [Note for football fans. We used to have a player here named Adam Archuleta. I wonder if he and David are related.]

Carly, an Irish tatoo artist who auditioned in season 5, is back. She made it through to Hollywood two years ago, but was disqualified when she didn't get her visa in time. Carly sings. Paula lets out a rodeo whoop, Randy says yes 100 million times over, but Simon is disappointed and tells her the audition wasn't as good as last time. Still, Carly gets the final golden ticket of the night.

In all 31 people are going to Hollywood and we have yet another night of auditions completed.

Today's American Idol Fun Fact

Phil Stacey (remember him?) is releasing his first CD in April. Reportedly, it's a country album. Hats Off...or maybe not if you know what I mean.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Gender or Race?

CNN says black women in South Carolina are facing a difficult decision...whether to vote for their gender or their race. I've got an idea, how about basing your vote on the issues? Just saying...

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Man Against Beast

[Warning: If you are an animal rights activist, please move on to the next post. Thank you.]

It seems like yesterday that we had a beautiful, green, flat, manicured lawn. Not now. Yes, it's winter, but that's not why our yard has ugly and dangerous mounds, rivets, and tunnels. Our space has been invaded. It's the attack of the moles. For two years we've tried to co-exist peacefully. We've tried to get the dog to chase them. We've tried to trap and release them. We've tried stuffing their holes with Juicy Fruit gum (a suggestion from a friend who swore that would send them chewing into another yard). Nothing has worked. 2008 will be a different story. We've called in The Mole Hunter. Here is how our backyard looks now: You can see the mole hills. But you can also see silver traps glistening in the sun. We're taking the critters on. This is war. Now I know how Carl Spackler felt. These traps have been professionally set. By a man in a uniform. We are not to move these traps, touch them, check them, or otherwise manipulate them. Each week The Mole Hunter will come and check them. He is a professional. He is educated in mole behavior. If he finds a mole in a trap he will put up a red flag at the site and reset the mole trap. Note, he will not put up a white flag. This is war. The Mole Hunter says that just as in any war, we have to be prepared to fight for the long haul. We have to accept casualties. There's a cost. And we need to make sacrifices. But it's all worth it to us. This is our land and we need to reclaim it before we're completely overtaken. We will aggressively defend our borders from all intruders.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

1987 - Air Jordan - It's all in the imagination [Must See Video!]

In light of my last post about Peyton Manning, take a look at this video. I think it's one of the best sports celebrity endorsement spots...ever.

Peyton Manning, Just Play Football

I know a lot of you who read my blog are Peyton Manning fans (I won't name names, you know who you are), but I'm so sick of seeing Peyton and his brother and now even his parents in commercials. The newest is an Oreo commercial. These spots are beyond endorsements. Don't these guys have enough money? I really think we're verging on overexposure here. Just my opinion.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Avis

I'm so excited! Daniel Baldwin has named his new baby girl after my mom!

"Congratulations are in order for Daniel Baldwin and Joanne Smith-Baldwin. Joanne gave birth to a little girl on Thursday. Avis Ann Baldwin weighed in at 7 pounds 10 ounces."

Live From The Planet Xenu

Check out the latest Katie Holmes' controversy here. Apparently, there's a question now about whether or not she really ran the NYC marathon.

Even more bothersome to me is how Katie's beginning to look a lot like Dora the Explorer without the monkey:
or Margaret Carlson without the glasses:
or Anna Wintour without the attitude:
Regardless, she looks a lot older than 29. Too bad.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Top 10 Mispronounced Words In My City

1. Flustrated
2. Congradulations
3. Valentime's Day
4. Libary
5. Medium (as in, "I hit the medium in the highway.")
6. Supposebly
7. Irregardless
8. Nuke-you-lar
9. Kinneygarden
10. Walmarts

Meet Logan, The Sky Angel Cowboy -- CBN News


Simply amazing.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

American Idol Recap--Jesus Take the Wheel

We're in Dallas and immediately start off with another sad story. Fortunately, this one has a happy ending. Jessica--mom of two--tells us her story of life as a meth addict. We see pictures of her during those days and they're not pretty. Jessica tells the story of hearing Carrie Underwood sing Jesus, Take the Wheel and realizing she needed to turn her life around. She's a poster child for recovery. Now she sings, and while she's not great she's good enough to pack her bags for Hollywood.

We move onto a happy guy with a bad voice. I guess the judges have turned over a new leaf this year. They're definitely going overboard not to be mean. They keep calling the guy joyful, but he's staying in Texas.

It never bodes well when someone compares themself to Kelly Clarkson. Actually, she sounds a little like Kelly on helium singing "Beautiful Disaster." Needless to say, the audition is a disaster.

Oh my, a girl comes in looking a lot like Carrie Underwood...she sings a Faith Hill song. Simon tells her he doesn't think she's as good as she thinks she is. She's so cute and gracious--doesn't cry or pout--so they let her through to Hollywood. Nice judges.

Back from a break and there are a couple of really bad Texas metaphors about stampedes and such.

Now for tonight's sad and creepy story. A young man who's never kissed a girl, he's saving himself for his future wife--that's sweet, but the way he and his dad tell it, it's downright creepy. Bruce sounds okay. Bruce doesn't get a thumbs up. He asks for advice and Randy delivers the night's funniest line: "Kiss some girls."

Most interesting looking girl, with the most interesting name, Zpia with the mini Mohawk sings some Gladys Knight. Simon likes her because she's confident and stylish and interesting. Where I live she'd be confident and interesting, but what the hey, she's on to Hollywood.

I know I'm contradicting myself, but THIS is the night's creepy story (I'm blogging live). This weirdo peels his fingernails and puts them in a zip lock back. I guess he carries the bag with him where ever he goes because it's about a quarter full. Really gross. Simon votes no, but the other two let him through. Ryan had to say it, "Brandon nailed his audition." Moving on.

Farmgirl Kayla is next. Kayla Dawn Hatfield. Yes, that's really her name. Mom of two. Kayla tells us her sad story of being in a horrible car accident that left her blind in one eye and one side of her face disfigured. Scares me a little bit, when she lets some Janis Joplin rip. Simon surprises me! He says yes. Surprisingly, since Paula always says yes if Simon says yes, Paula says no. Tie-breaker Randy gives in to Simon and Kayla Dawn Hatfield is through to the next round. I think they moved her on for comic relief.

Lots of untalented folks audition. Are they jokes or do they really think they have talent? It's hard to say, so I won't.

Katie Malloy comes in and she's hot, hot, hot. Katie does vocal impressions, she does a spot on Britney (sane Britney, not crazy Britney). Katie does a real audition and is great. Looks like an American Idol, sounds like an American Idol. Simon says she's the best audition of everyone this year. All the judges agree that she's going to Hollywood.

Day 2 of the auditions starts with Doug from Austin. We know he's weird before he ever sings a note. He's a doughy, soft, white, sweaty dude, who needs to warm up. After the warm up he starts singing some undecipherable songs. Not going to Hollywood on the AI nickel. Security has to escort him out of the room when he won't listen to the judges. Simon tells Douglas that security is going to "take him someplace safe."

Dallas has a lot of blondes. Now we have Angela. She's newly married to a professional model. Chad, the husband, joins his wife in the audition room. Angela sings and makes some really strange, squinty-eyed faces. Chad loves Angela's audition, but she's bad.

A politician wannabe auditions. He looks like a goof ball, but he has a pretty decent voice. Interestingly, they put him through to the next round. His goof ball mom and dad hug him and cheer.

Tammy something or other is up next. She compares herself to Celine Dion. No one else does. She's bad and goes away, thankfully.

Colton spiky hair Swon is next. The judges listen intently. Paula votes yes, but tells him to open his eyes more. Simon, says he's okay. Randy likes him. He's on his way to Hollywood.

More bad Texas metaphors: Put your boots on, saddle up, etc.

Montage of bad looking, bad singers, this must be the comic relief segment. Lots of cross dressers, which makes me uncomfortable since this is a family show.

Another farmer, this time a guy farmer named Drew. We go with him to work in the field. His parents rock on the porch and tell us about Drew. Drew sings a lot on the tractor. He's willing to give it all up for a singing career. Randy acknowledges that farming is a lot of hard work--like he'd know. Simon automatically says no. Randy likes him and compares him to George Strait and Randy Travis. Paula tells him, "you are who you are." Paula says yes, so Drew is packing his saddlebags for California.

Next up a rocker with guy-liner and a fake tan. Unfortunately, he lives about 20 minutes from me. Representin'. Paula listens and looks very pretty and ladylike. I wonder if her hair is really that long or if she has extensions. Simon says his audition was demonic. The judges are polite, but tell him he was bad and he gets a thumb down from all three.

Yet another montage of awful singers. Really, are these folks serious?

I think we're wrapping up here. A girl from the same little bitty Texas town as Kelly Clarkson comes in. I never like it when girls tuck big flowers behind their ears, but maybe she can sing. The judges say no to the first song, but give her another chance. Song two, Randy says yes, Simon says no, Paula says yes and girl with flower is going to Hollywood. Remember Jasmine Trias?

We end with "Brothers Forever." You really had to be there to appreciate it. Look for the video on You Tube.

It's a wrap. Finally.

Happy Valentine's Day

It's January 16th. Time to take down all Christmas decorations. Actually, it's way past time. Yes, neighbors, I'm talking to you. It's now officially closer to Valentine's Day than Christmas. Please take the holly and the ivy, the bells and the baubles, the tinsel and the garland, down. At least unplug the lights. [This has been a public service announcement.]

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

And So It Begins

Paula is surprisingly coherent for the Philadelphia auditions.

There sure seem to be a lot of sad stories in the city of brothely love. One of the sad stories comes up when a young teenager named Temptress who looks like a linebacker--no, wait, she is a linebacker on her high school's football team, gets her turn to audition. Temptress intros us to her ailing mother who doesn't look that old, but she's gigantic, like 500 pounds. She has some breathing apparatus and a mobile wheelchair. Temptress doesn't make it, but Paula, Randy and Simon give her a group hug and escort her back to the hallway. She's made her mom proud.

Another sad story is a young girl who says she got pregnant in her thee-nyour year of high school. That's really what she said...her thee-nyour year. Anyway, sad story of her daughter follows. The baby was born healthy, but when she turned two she started having seizures and developed cerebral palsy-type symptoms. The girl is auditioning for American Idol so she can hopefully get known and make enough money to find great treatment for her daughter. I'm so happy that she can actually sing and the judges tell her she's going to Hollywood.

Christa Lee Cook a country music loving, kick boxing, horse riding, log cabin living, blonde comes in looking all hot and belts out a great rendition of Amazing Grace. She's a little like Carrie Underwood with personality. And now she's going to Hollywood.

Eventually we have another blonde who made an album when she was a little girl called "Little Liz, Jesus Loves You." The cover of the album makes her look like Little Bo Peep. Now she's singing Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered. Simon tells her she won't stand out in a crowd, but both Paula and Randy vote yes, so she's heading to Hollywood even though she didn't have a sad story.

Brooke White goes in right after a girl with hair like Princess Leia didn't make it. Princess Leia is crying because she thinks she didn't make it because she's a nerd. Truth is she can't sing, but if she's worried about being a nerd why would she wear her hair in Princess Leia honey buns? Back to Brooke. Brooke is a nanny for twin baby girls, she sings "Like a Star" (she doesn't sing like a star, but she sings the song "Like a Star"). Like a star, or not, she sings well enough for a golden ticket to Hollywood.

And that wraps up the first episode of the seventh season of American Idol. It's back and I was not disappointed.

7:00pm-9:00pm Tonight--Be There!



The Writer's Strike can't touch my Idol. Unfortunately, I have a 6:00pm dentist appointment, so just in case I get home a tad late the TIVO is locked and loaded for the start of Season 7. I can't wait. Simon said this year will be just as mean as last year--no holds barred. There's a rumor that John Sligh, Chris Sligh's brother makes it to the finals. (Hopefully with a better voice and hair).

I'll be flipping over to the Dem Debate from Las Vegas during commericals to catch some of tonight's other reality show. Hillary and her folks have made some dumb statements about race in the last week. John Edwards has nothing to lose. And Barack, well, he's been accused of running a fairy tale campaign. They'll all come out fighting tonight.

Lighter Than An Oreck


I must have this. It's only about $20 at Whatever Works. Is anyone listening? Anyone?

Happy Anniversary, John!

“You know you're in love when you can't fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.”
Dr. Seuss

Monday, January 14, 2008

But you don't look a day over 29...

I took this test that's supposed to tell you how old you act. I came out to be 31 (which I long surpassed), but it's interesting because I always tell everyone I feel 28.

You Act Like You Are 31 Years Old

You are a thirtysomething at heart. You've had a taste of success and true love, but you want more!
You're responsible, wise, and have enough experience to understand a lot of the world.

You're at the point in your life where you understand yourself pretty well.
You are figuring out what you want... and how to get it!

Virtual travel coming to a mailbox near you!



Drop by Kelly's blog to join in a new swap. Here's a summary:

You will be asked to send at least three objects (i don't think anyone would mind if you decide to send more) that are some of YOUR favorite travel related things. think vacation, exotic countries, travel guides, maps... you get the idea. maybe it's a favorite travel journal, perhaps something that reminds you of a favorite city or place , a package stocked with all your favorite travel goodies & must haves, or a collage of your favorite destinations. be creative & most importantly have fun with it! objects can be new or vintage, bought or handmade... just remember, it is best to send something the you'd be pleased & excited to receive yourself.

I'm packin' my bags!

Will She or Won't She??

All eyes are on the LA Courthouse waiting to see if Britney shows up for her custody hearing. The suspense is killing me. Apparently she was running around LA a couple days ago in her wedding dress. I still can't get over how her craziness has made K-Fed seem like Father of the Year. Sad.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Steel Magnolias


“There is in every true woman's heart, a spark of heavenly fire, which lies dormant in the broad daylight of prosperity, but which kindles up and beams and blazes in the dark hour of adversity.” Washington Irving (1783-1859)

Look at the smiles on these three strong women. Like all of us, each has faced down trials and come out stronger and better. I love them.

Meet the Press Expands Your Vocabulary (& Other Random Thoughts)

* Meet The Press devoted its whole hour to an interview with Hillary Clinton. I think of myself as pretty well read, but she used a word I'd never heard before: Jesuitian. As in `well Tim, we could keep this Jesuitian debate going on forever...' That's a paraphrase, but seriously, I've never heard that word spoken by anyone in any context. I'm going to use it now. I'm probably not voting her, but maybe she really is the smartest woman in the whole wide world.

* Nothing feels as good to me as when I'm helping someone else out. Nothing.

* I can't believe John & I are celebrating our third anniversary this week. What a whirlwind. A good whirlwind, but a whirlwind nonetheless.

* I'm watching football and every other break has a commercial with Peyton Manning in it. We have the tough Peyton, the funny Peyton, the regular guy Peyton, and the aw schucks Peyton (similar to the regular Guy Peyton with a downhome twist). Thank you very much, but I'll just take the play football Peyton. [Addendum: Colts just lost meaning I was right, he should of stuck with the play football Peyton.]

* Sundays alway make me think of my Dad. I miss him today.

* Yesterday we were at Sam's and at the checkout next to us was a man with seven--yes, I counted them--leather holders clipped onto his belt. Maybe they weren't all holding cell phones, but they had to all be for communications devices of some sort, right? Why would anyone need all those cordless, mobile, electronic, thingamajigs attached to him? I don't want to do any profiling, but he didn't look like a CIA guy, or a drug dealer. Is there some job in between those that needs to be in constant touch with like a million people at one time? Just as an aside, he didn't use any of the devices while we stood in line and checked out--a period of about ten minutes. Also, he was buying a dozen or so pineapples. His Sams card looked well-used. Those are the only clues I could get in my short observation time. Any ideas?

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Qualcosa da Mangiare--Something to Eat

I was craving some good old-fashioned comfort food, so in honor of my weeklong efforts at learning Italian, and the hundred or so words I've almost mastered, I made Braised Italian Sausages & Lentils. Here's the recipe:

Cover the bottom of a heavy pot with olive oil. Add 4 mild Italian sausages and prick each a few times with a fork. Cover the pan to keep the fat from splattering all over your stove. Let the sausages cook, shaking the pan or turning the sausages occasionally. After they're golden brown and a little crispy on the outside--about 8 minutes--transfer them to a plate.

Put 1 chopped yellow onion and 2 sliced carrots in the pot and cook until softened. In the meantime, take a pound of white or cremini mushrooms, clean them and cut the mushrooms into quarters. After the onion and carrots are soft, add the mushrooms. Sprinkle with salt and cook until a good deal of water is released--approximately 5 minutes.

Stir in 2 cups hot water, 1 cup of dried lentils, 1/4 cup of tomato paste, a bay leaf and some freshly ground pepper. Let it all come to a boil, then add the sausages back to the pot. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pot and cook until the sausages are cooked--about 25 minutes. Transfer the sausages back to the plate. If the lentils seem dry add another 1/4-1/3 cup of hot water. Cover the pot and simmer until the lentils are tender, another 20-30 minutes.


When the lentils are done, turn off the heat. Slice the sausages and stir into the lentils, let everything stand for about 5 minutes to reheat the sausages. Serves 4.

Family Guy


Just got a call from my son. "Are you blogging?" he asked. How does he know these things?

Friday, January 11, 2008

It's Almost Here!!!

4 D A Y card letter s

Mark your calendars! American Idol is coming back in just four days! Can you believe it's already the seventh season? Nikki McKibbin, RJ Helton, Tamyra Gray--remember them? Then you've been with the show since the beginning. Me, too. Who will be this year's Sanjaya? Will there be a ponyhawk moment? Will there ever be another Kelly Clarkson? Did you know Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson only made it to sixth place in Season 3? What about faux-rocker Constantine and his hot hot hot stares into the camera? I saw him on Paula Deen's show a couple of weeks ago--that was weird. Well, it's all coming back--no doubt complete with Vote for the Worst controversies, Paula Abdul meltdowns, some hidden scandal coming to light for at least one of the singers, etc. etc. I'm not missing one second...you never know when you'll see another William Hung, Kevin Covais, Scott Savol, or Anthony Federov. She Bangs She Bangs. Fuggedabout the Writer's Strike. This is drama that will hold me until The Shield comes back.

Here are my top 5 American Idol contestants of all time:
Kelly Clarkson
Carrie Underwood
Jennifer Hudson
Taylor Hicks (no hate mail, please)
Chris Daughtry

Who's on your list?

Repita, say it with me...

I learned the coolest Italian word this morning on my way into the office. Uno spuntino = a snack. Doesn't that sound great? Like, a little spoon. I'm going to say it all day. Uno spuntino...uno spuntino...uno spuntino. Rolls right off my Italian tongue. Uno spuntino...

Thursday, January 10, 2008

I Don't Heart MoDot [Missouri Dept of Transportation]

Nine days ago, TPTB in our fair city completely shut down the major east/west artery connecting the suburbs with the business centers and all points between. Ever since, I (along with 149,999 other commuters each day) have been trying to figure out exactly what time to be on the road to make it into the office on time. This is a $535 million dollar project that's going to take two years! Before the shut down it took me 12 minutes to get to my office on a good day and no more than 22 minutes on a bad day.
Now the length of the trip varies depending on what time I leave in the morning. Coming home has been a bear, because most people leave work around the same time. Anyway, I've tried all sorts of alternative routes. Our city doesn't have a viable mass transit system, so that's out of the question. Following the advice of MODot, I've left earlier. So far, I've left the house anywhere between 5:30am and 7:15am...to make it in by 8:30. I don't know if it will last, but traffic tie-ups have been non-existent, so I've been moving my exit time up by 15 minutes each morning. Tomorrow I'm leaving at 7:30am. I'm sure eventually I'll hit the wheel house, the wall of impenetrable traffic, and then I'll know exactly how early to get on the road. Not being a morning person, and needing at least 7 hours of sleep each night to function well, the highway project has also wreaked havoc on my sleep patterns. Even though I'm usually in bed by 9:00pm, I've been known to stay up reading for another 2, even 3 hours. To accommodate my lack of discipline, I've changed my early morning routine so I can get every last second of sleep I can, snuggled under my electric blanket. Now I take a shower at night, instead of the morning--saving myself a good 15-18 minutes. My husband makes my lunch each morning (which has led to some interesting surprises) and packs my car for the trek, saving me another 12-14 minutes. The problem is after just 9 days down of this 730 day project, I haven't had even six hours of sleep any one night. I'm an exhausted wreck. I can't go to sleep at a decent hour (I think it's my natural Circadian Rhythms at work), making it nearly impossible to get up at the crack of dawn. I leave the house for my office before the sun comes up, and by the time I leave work at 5:45 or 6 (yes, to miss the traffic), it's already dark. I feel like a vampire. Trying to make the best of this horrible situation, and in an attempt to limit my possible road rage, I'm learning to speak Italian as I wind my way through the little known backstreets of the county and head in to the city. I repita after my teacher on CD in the privacy of my pretend Fiat: Ciao, Bon Giorno, molto bene, grazie, prego, pechere, le presento Signore Chaplin, etc. etc. [Sorry, I don't know how to spell anything because I'm just learning to speak Italian, not write it--this is an audio course...] So after 2 years and $535 million dollars will we be getting more lanes on our fancy, new, long-awaited superhighway? No. How about some nice commuter trains so we can leave our polluting cars behind? No. Wider lanes? Nope. More exits? No. We're getting new bridges, new on and off ramps, and 3 lanes each way of pot-hole free roads. Plus, don't forget, I'll know how to speak Italian. Progress I tell you, progress!

"Get Off My Red Carpet"

That's what I would say if I was Katie Holmes. How many other spouses grab the spotlight when their wife has a movie premiere?

Alzheimer's Drug Claims To Reverse Symptoms Within Minutes

Won't it be great if this really works?

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

2%: Good For Milk, Bad For Politics


One thing I don't understand is why the caucus in Iowa and the primary in New Hampshire are so important. Together the two states only make up 2% of the population of the United States (I know because I looked it up). I like people from Iowa and probably New Hampshire, even though I've never met anyone from there, but why do they have so much clout? This is a BIG decision. Already several candidates have dropped out because they did so poorly: Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, Bill Richardson. There's talk now that Rudy Guiliani and/or Mitt Romney may drop out before Super Tuesday, February 5th. I don't understand it.

(In the words of my mother) Turn That Frown Upside Down

Why does John Edwards have such a chip on his shoulder? I didn't vote for him in the last election, but at least he seemed like a pretty happy guy. I even remember the press kind of berating him in 2004 for not taking on the role of attack dog for John Kerry. Looks like all that's changed. Now he seems negative toward everybody and everything, and generally ticked off at life in general. I guess I'd be mad, too, if I thought I was the best candidate, but I kept coming in third. Not that any politician has ever changed their presentation just to get votes or anything, but I hope he hasn't changed his public persona because he's figured out "nice guys finish last." I don't buy that. I think most people would rather have a `nice guy' representing them than a not-so-nice-guy. I listened to John Edwards' speech last night and here are the things I can remember he's angry about: poverty, the war (who isn't), rich people, protecting the environment, the drug companies, peoples' voices not being heard, an insurance company who denied a girl a liver transplant (or maybe it was a kidney), health care industry that didn't fix a man's cleft palate until he was over fifty years old--so he couldn't talk until then, homeless people, global warming, lack of jobs in America, and that 99% of Americans haven't heard his message. Well, I've heard it. Loud and clear. I just wish he'd stop shouting and yelling. I think he should go back to being a little more positive. There's plenty that's right with this country, too. Just so everyone knows, I'm still listening...I haven't made up my mind yet about anything.

Thank you, Shoe Addict!



Following an early January Uggs disappointment,
Shoe Addict helped me find the perfect snow, work, play boots at Zappos. Love them!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Choose A New Look

My previous post about Cindy McCain got me thinking that maybe now's a good time for a new look. I found this mesmerizing site that shows you what you look like with different celebrity hairstyles. In most cases you'll see I don't look very good. But...let me know if you think any of these styles would be a change for the better:
1. Rebecca Romijn
2. Reese Witherspoon
3. Reese Witherspoon short hair
4. Scarlett Johannsen
5. Unknown
6. Eva Longoria
7. Heidi Klum
8. Hillary Clinton
9. Jessica Simpson
10. Katie Holmes before Tom
11. Jessica Alba
12. Britney Spears
13. Cameron Diaz
14. Cindy Crawford
15. Drew Barrymore


VOTE! IT'S ELECTION DAY!