Monday, March 31, 2008

Is This Really Necessary?

I may be obsessing (see my previous post)...but when my son was a baby, his stroller looked sort of like this (only not as nice):

Now, strollers look like this:

and this:

I even went so far as to compare the dimensions:
old: 17" wide X 26" deep, 7.5 lbs
new: 24" wide X 42" deep, 19 lbs

Final thought: These new strollers are starting to tick me off. Stay in your own lane.

Things I Don't Understand (cont'd)

7. Why today's baby strollers have to be the size of a mini-cooper.
8. Why today's moms insist on driving mini-cooper-sized strollers through tiny boutiques.
9. Why today's moms driving mini-cooper-sized strollers through tiny boutiques think they have the right-of-way.


Saturday, March 29, 2008

Pappardelle With Ragu

I made this meaty stew a couple of weekends ago and it was delicious! Try it.

2 lbs. boneless lamb stew or pork stew or 1 pound each, trimmed of excess fat (I had the butcher cut stew meat for me from a pork shoulder, there was about 2 lbs. left so he cut 3 pork steaks out of that. If you're not from St. Louis you may not know about pork steaks. Season them with salt, pepper, Worcestershire, and garlic salt, sear them on a really hot grill, then cook slowly for about an hour. Brush with some barbecue sauce and serve to your friends. They'll love you.)
Kosher salt
Olive oil
4 ounces pancetta, diced
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup red wine
1 teaspoon paprika
1 large can (28 ounces) chopped tomatoes, plus 1 can (14 1/2 ounces) chopped tomatoes
1 bay leaf
1 pound pappardelle pasta or wide egg noodles
1/3 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
Coarsely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or pecorino Romano cheese

Cut the meat into 1-inch pieces, trim, rinse, and pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt. Coat the bottom of a heavy 5-7 quart Dutch oven with a thin film of the oil and set pot over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers, add enough meat to cover bottom of pan in 1 layer. Don't crowd the meat! Cook without stirring, until the meat lifts easily from the pot with tongs and is well browned on the bottom, about 5 minutes. [The trick to browning your meat well is to leave it alone! Don't fiddle with it. When you can turn it easily, without any resistance, then it's time...but not before.) Turn and brown on the other side, about 5 minutes more. Transfer meat to a plate and continue with remaining meat, adding more oil to the pot in between batches as needed.

When last batch of meat has been removed, drain off all but about 1 tablespoon fat from the pot. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring, until it renders most of its fat, about 1 minute. Add the onion, carrots, and celery. Cook, stirring often, until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Pour in the wine and cook for 1 minute, stirring to release browned bits. (Note to all of our friends...John and I don't drink, so if you bring us a bottle of wine when you come to visit, a nice bottle of cooking wine is fine. Unless you want to drink it of course. Thanks.) Return meat and any accumulated juices to pot and stir in the paprika. Add the tomatoes and bay leaf and let it come to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until meat falls into shreds when pushed with the side of a spoon, about 2 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat and let stand while you cook the pasta.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add pappardelle; cook according to package directions until al dente. Drain pappardelle and divide among bowls. Stir the parsley into ragu, ladle over pasta, sprinkle with cheese, and serve.

[From Braises and Stews, by Tori Ritchie]

Thursday, March 27, 2008

American Idol Top 9 Power Rankings

Okay, I know you're asking..."what's the criteria used to come up with the American Idol weekly power rankings?" Well, it's highly technical and I can't divulge the mathematical formula. However I can tell you the following factors (among others) are taken into account: most recent performance, previous performances, likeability, appearance, personality, song choice. So here they are...this week's Power Rankings.

1 David Cook
2 Michael Johns
3 David Archuleta
4 Jason Castro
5 Brooke White
6 Carly Smithson
7 Syesha Mercado
8 Kristy Lee Cook
9 Ramiele Malubay

Biggest movers are Michael Johns who moved up 3 places and Jason Castro who dropped 3 places. Also, Carly Smithson dropped 2 places due to two weeks of substandard performances and a huge likeability problem.

As I previous stated these folks are not going to win: Syesha Mercado, Kristy Lee Cook (horse-loving blonde) and Ramiele Malubay. Right now momentum is in David Cook's favor to win the whole thing. After four great weeks, he may be unstoppable.

American Idol Runner Up Blake Lewis Hates On Sanjaya

I guess Blake and Sanjaya weren't BFF.

The End of The World As We Know It

Here are 3 stories in the news today that leave me shaking my head.

A married man says he’s 5 months pregnant, yes he’s undergone `gender reassignment’.

A woman pulls a gun on men delivering furniture to her house because they wouldn’t remove their shoes before coming in

Some company has bought the rights to distribute IMAX films on cell phones. Isn’t putting an IMAX film on an itty-bitty screen an oxymoron?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

American Idol Top 10 Results: Take It Easy, Chikezie Ezie

Random thoughts on American Idol and tonight’s elimination show…

I don’t think the addition of the `mosh pit’ to the set has been an improvement. I’m sick of all the arm waving down front.

Chikezie [Eze] is the most inconsistent contestant. One week he’s great, one week he’s barely listenable.

Syesha may have sounded better than usual, but she’s still no Gladys Knight.

Brooke White (Sweet Blonde)
obviously had no clue that “Every Step You Take” is a stalker song, not a ballad. Stylistically it was all wrong.

I think the stress of the competition is getting to Little David and Tattoo Girl Carly.

If Carly’s voted off she may have a nervous breakdown right there, live, on the stage. She seems very tense and desperate. I don’t think her being voted off is out of the realm of possibility either. Those unattractive, angry expressions are probably making a lot of people besides me uncomfortable.

Now—on to the eliminations.

Here are my predictions:
Top 3: Michael Johns, David Cook, David Archuleta (reluctantly)
Bottom 3: Ramiele Malubay, Chikezie [Eze], Brooke White (sweet blonde)
Could be going home: Ramiele Malubay, Chikezie [Eze], Carly Smithson, Kristy Lee Cook (horse-loving blonde)
Going home: Ramiele Malubay

Ryan’s going to call each kid out to the stage individually. Chikezie [Eze] is first up and just that quick he’s on one of the three stools of impending doom.

Brooke White (sweet blonde) skips out to center stage, butterflies flying around her sweet head, and immediately starts talking. Ryan interrupts to tell her she’s safe.

Tattoo Girl Carly comes out looking particularly goth tonight, her big arm tattoo center stage. She looks absolutely terrified. Carly lets us in on her big news—she’s not pregnant. Like I said, too many potatoes. Ryan tells her she’s safe and she reacts like I will when I’m led through the pearly gates. Priorities girl, priorities.

I missed it…or rather my Direct TV missed it (there’s a thunderstorm here)…but Syesha is in the bottom 3. And our little boy in the bubble David Archuleta is safe.

David Cook is also apparently safe. My Direct TV is back, but it’s doing that weird mosaic thing it does in storms, still I can make out through the pixels that David Cook is walking to the safe side.

I insist on watching Kimberly Locke because I love her. She looks and sounds awesome. I want her hair and makeup artist. I’m so proud of her.

Ramiele Malubay, still sporting the Flashdance look, is next. Ramiele definitely was one of the worst singers last night--and has been week in and week out, but once again her fan base voted for her and kept her safe.

Jason Castro and Kristy Lee Cook (Horse-loving blonde) walk out together. For the first time Kristy Lee (Horse-loving blonde) is safe and Jason is in the bottom three. Jason staggers around until Ryan points the way to the stools of doom.

So Syesha, Chikeze [Eze], and Jason are lined up. Jason is safe, leaving Syesha and Chikezie [Eze] to sweat it out through the commercial break. Syesha is safe. Our beloved Chikezie [Eze] is headed home. A very somber tattoo girl Carly gives him a well-deserved standing ovation.

And that’s a wrap.

The Check's in the Mail

I wouldn't normally share my private mail with outsiders, but look at this! I got a letter from John McCain! He's inviting me to join him on the "Straight Talk Express"! He even signed, really.

My Friends,

Next week, I will embark on a "Service to America" tour visiting numerous locations that have played a significant role in shaping who I am today; places where I have had the honor of serving our nation. This tour will take me through Mississippi, Virginia, Florida and my home state of Arizona. I look forward to visiting sites that have left an imprint on my life aboard my campaign bus, the Straight Talk Express.

My campaign has come up with an opportunity for a supporter to join me on the Straight Talk Express for a day of conversation and campaigning. As a token of my appreciation for your financial support, you will be entered to win this seat aboard the Straight Talk Express if you make a contribution before midnight on March 31st. I hope you'll consider joining me by making a donation today. If you can give $50 or more, not only will you be entered to win a ride on the Straight Talk Express, but you'll receive a commemorative Straight Talk Express ticket.

March 31, 2008 marks an important deadline for our campaign. We will file a report with the FEC outlining the amount of money we have raised during the past three months. I'm reaching out to you to ask for your support by following this link to make a donation of $50, $100, $250, $500, $1,000 - anything you can contribute up to the legal limit of $2,300.

I have said many times before that this campaign will be the most expensive campaign in our history, and I have no doubt that both Senators Clinton and Obama will continue to report historic, record-breaking fundraising numbers. With your support today, my campaign will have the resources necessary to compete with either Senator Clinton or Obama in what will be a great contest come November.

I'm looking forward to traveling on the Straight Talk Express again next week, visiting directly with voters, hearing their concerns, offering my vision for the future and highlighting those among us who are serving our country and communities, dedicating themselves to causes greater than their own self interest. Your support makes this possible, and I am grateful for any assistance you are able to give.


John McCain

P.S. You have an opportunity to join me aboard the Straight Talk Express by making a generous contribution before March 31st. With your donation of $50 or more, we will send you an exclusive, commemorative Straight Talk Express ticket as a symbol of your commitment to our campaign. Thank you.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

American Idol Top 10 Performances--Aussie & Rocker Bring Down the House

Ramiele Malubay (power ranking 9): Alone
Poor Ramiele gets put in the first spot…forgettable. The song feels forced, and Ramiele doesn’t appear to be having any fun at all. She seems disconnected with the song, the audience, the judges. Oh well. Randy says the song was too big for her, Paula says she knows Ramiele is sick, Simon sort of says not as bad as Randy thinks, but still bad. Ramiele’s days are numbered.

Jason Castro (power ranking 1): Fragile
Jason is just coasting right now I think. He’s brought out the old tried and true guitar. I’m getting bored with Jason, even though I like him. Did you see this picture of JC without the dreadlocks? Interesting, huh? Okay. Randy likes the song, likes Jason, Paula says Jason's not taking any chances and playing it safe. Simon says this is his second bad week in a row and he won’t win if he keeps doing the same thing. John has the funniest observation of the season, he thinks Jason should make a CD for Pottery Barn.

Syesha Mercado (power ranking 7): If I Were Your Woman
Why does Syesha seem so ungenuine (is that a word?) Well, as always she looks stupendous. She looks like a star. She sounds good--for Syesha. Randy says it’s her best performance ever. Paula agrees and calls her a dark horse (sorry Kristy Lee for stealing the horse metaphor out from under you). Simon says it’s the best performance of the night, but we’re only three in. Brilliant.

Chikezie [Eze] (power ranking 8): If Only For One Night
Well, I don’t like it at all. It’s all loungey in a lizardy sort of way. Or, maybe even a wedding singer sort of performance. No, no, no, no. Not for me. Randy calls it old school and boring. Paula calls Chikezie [Eze] a great singer. Simon (predictably) calls the performance cheesy. Cheesy Chikezie [Eze]…love it.

Brooke White (Sweet blonde) (power ranking 6): Every Breath You TakeBrooke (Sweet blonde) does something I have never, ever seen anyone in 7 seasons of American Idol do. She has a “misfire” and just restarts her song. It’s like the President reading the first line of the State of the Union address and just stopping and starting over. Weird. Surely the judges will count off for that! Maybe not. It’s Brooke White (Sweet Blonde) after all. She’s back behind the piano after her dancing debacle last week. Now that we’re firmly into the song I get the weird feeling of being at a Lilith Fair concert. And! That’s not something I would ever do willingly. Same old schtick. Safe, boring, one trick pony (sorry for the second horse reference, Kristy Lee, I know that’s your territory). Not much of a melody, either. Time for the judges, let’s see how much Brooke (Sweet Blonde) insists on talking. Randy doesn’t like the arrangement, Brooke talks and tells Randy it’s `okay.’ Paula enjoys this week’s performance more than last week’s. She likes Brooke’s niche. Brooke talks. Simon agrees with Randy, the arrangement stunk. Brooke talks.

Michael Johns (power ranking 5): We Are The Champions
One note into it, and I can tell you, the Aussie is back! Randy agrees, this is Michael’s best performance. Paula is proud of him. Simon gives him props for giving the best performance of the evening (including Syesha’s). Every year there's one great performance. This may have been it, folks! Sizzlin’. Hot, hot, hot.

Carly Smithson (power ranking 4): Total Eclipse of the Heart
The Irish lassie comes out and I immediately wonder, `how many votes are these tattoos costing her?’ I am so shallow. Rumors on the internet that Carly is pregnant. I see what everyone is talking about. But it could just be too many potatoes. Why does Carly have to power out every single song she sings? And, why can’t she control these unattractive facial expressions. She looks like an angry yak (aren’t they the animals that bare their teeth, bulge out their eyes, and spit?)…well, that’s what she looks like, anyway. I find her hard to watch, she seems desperate. Randy didn’t love it. I think Carly’s going to cry. Paula (wearing some dominatrix gloves) loves what Carly did at the end. So did I. She stopped. Simon says something didn’t work. Like the singing? He says she seems tense and needs to lighten up.

David Archuleta (power ranking 3): You’re the Voice
The Boy in the Bubble…I’ve decided that’s what he reminds me of. This is like watching a kid in a high school talent show—a fancy sort of music magnet high school, but a high school talent show nonetheless. I want it to end. Not entertaining. David, NO MORE MESSAGE SONGS! Randy says it was a strange song choice, but TBITB can sing anything and make it sound good. Paula says TBITB could sing the telephone book and it would be good. Simon agrees with me. Horrible. He calls it a theme park performance.

Kristy Lee Cook (horse-loving blonde) (power ranking 10): God Bless the USA
Kristy’s sitting on a stool. She looks cute. I actually like her performance a lot. She seems young, fresh, sincere. Randy says it was a good song choice and a good performance. Paula sort of disses her performance while complimenting her. Weird. Simon calls this Kristy Lee’s best performance and enough to keep her in the contest. Kristy Lee jumps like a cheerleader. Our horse-lover is thrilled to finally be at the rodeo.

David Cook (power ranking 2): Billie Jean
Another strong and interesting performance by the big-baby-headed rocker. Totally original. Randy says David is the boldest performer they’ve ever had on American Idol. Paula’s all sweaty and beside herself and can't sit down. Simon calls it brave and amazing. John likes this arrangement better than Michael Jackson’s.

Top 3: Michael Johns, David Cook, David Archuleta (reluctantly)
Bottom 3: Ramiele Malubay, Chikezie [Eze], Brooke White (sweet blonde)
Going home: Ramiele Malubay

Jason Castro--Dread-less

Here's a photo of Jason without his dreadlocks. So, what do you think, still American Idol material?

American Idol Top 10 Perform Tonight

After one good week of performances of Beatles' tunes and one miserable week of performances of Beatles' tunes, tonight the top 10 will perform a song from the year he/she was born.

If I was performing here's a list of songs I'd have to choose from:

1. Little Things Mean A Lot, Kitty Kallen
2. Wanted, Perry Como
3. Hey There, Rosemary Clooney
4. Sh-Boom, Crew Cuts
5. Make Love To Me, Jo Stafford
6. Oh! My Pa-pa, Eddie Fisher
7. I Get So Lonely, Four Knights
8. Three Coins In The Fountain, Four Aces
9. Secret Love, Doris Day
10. Hernando's Hideaway, Archie Bleyer
11. Young At Heart, Frank Sinatra
12. This Ole House, Rosemary Clooney
13. I Need You Now, Eddie Fisher
14. Cross Over The Bridge, Patti Page
15. The Little Shoemaker, Gaylords
16. That's Amore, Dean Martin
17. The Happy Wanderer, Frank Weir
18. Answer Me My Love, Nat King Cole
19. Stranger In Paradise, Tony Bennett
20. If I Give My Heart To You, Doris Day
21. If You Love Me (Really Love Me), Kay Starr
22. Skokiaan, Ralph Marterie
23. Hold My Hand, Don Cornell
24. Changing Partners, Patti Page
25. Papa Loves Mambo, Perry Como
26. Shake, Rattle And Roll, Bill Haley & His Comets
27. Rags To Riches, Tony Bennett
28. In The Chapel In The Moonlight, Kitty Kallen
29. Stranger In Paradise, Four Aces
30. Here, Tony Martin

I am really old.

Monday, March 24, 2008

1st Knitting Project

So what do you think of my new scarf?

"In politics, a lie unanswered becomes truth within 24 hours..." (Willie Brown)

I don't know why, but I love this story.

"I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base."
--Hillary Clinton, speech at George Washington University, March 17, 2008.

Not so fast, Hill...

According to the Washington Post Fact Checker:

Far from running to an airport building with their heads down, Clinton and her party were greeted on the tarmac by smiling U.S. and Bosnian officials. An eight-year-old Moslem girl, Emina Bicakcic, read a poem in English. An Associated Press photograph of the greeting ceremony, above, shows a smiling Clinton bending down to receive a kiss.

And more:

According to Sinbad, who provided entertainment on the trip along with the singer Sheryl Crow, the "scariest" part was deciding where to eat. As he told Mary Ann Akers of The Post, "I think the only 'red-phone' moment was: 'Do we eat here or at the next place.'" Sinbad questioned the premise behind the Clinton version of events. "What kind of president would say 'Hey man, I can't go 'cause I might get shot so I'm going to send my wife. Oh, and take a guitar player and a comedian with you."

David Archuleta--Mmmmmm Lip Smacking Good

It had to happen...

Enjoy the video

Friday, March 21, 2008


We were invited to a fun breakfast last week with the Yahoots. That's Young At Heart, Out On The Town. Here are some photos. These folks know how to have a good time.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

American Idol Top 10 Power Rankings

We hold these truths to be self-evident in Season 7 of American Idol:

--The following folks are not going to win: Syesha Mercado, Chikezie [Eze], Kristy Lee Cook (horse-loving blonde, Ramiele Malubay
--Carly Lee Smithson has a great voice, but has a likeability problem
--Michael Johns has the likeability thing down, but may not have the pipes
--David Cook has had three great weeks
--The camera loves Jason Castro

So who's up and who's down this week? Using a highly complicated formula that takes a myriad of factors into account here are this week's Top 10 Power Rankings:

1) Jason Castro
2) David Cook
3) David Archuleta
4) Carly Smithson
5) Michael Johns
6) Brooke White (Sweet blonde)
7) Syesha Mercado
8) Chikezie [Eze]
9) Ramiele Malubay
10) Kristy Lee Cook (horse-loving blonde)

Biggest movers this week are David Cook and David Archuleta who both moved up 3 positions and Carly Smithson and Michael Johns who moved down 3 positions.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

American Idol Results: Amanda, Back to the USSR

Results night. As a reminder, here are my predictions:
Top 3: Jason Castro, Carly Smithson, David Archuleta
Bottom 3: Kristy Lee Cook (horse-loving blonde), Ramiele Malubay, Brooke White (Sweet Blonde)

Ramiele Malubay is who I think will be packing her bags tonight.

The big news is Kelly Pickler will be performing. Also, Dolly Parton, Mariah Carey, Andrew Lloyd Weber, and Neil Diamond are announced as this year’s mentors. Wow! That’s some line-up.

Finally, the unfortunate Up With People segment and recaps of last night’s performances are over and we’re moving on to the first eliminations. Thank you, TIVO.

Brooke White (Sweet Blonde) is brought up front. Once again, she can’t stop talking. Putting us all of out of our misery Ryan sends her to the chairs, she’s in the top 10.

Carly Smithson—tattoos nicely covered—is up next. Surprise! She’s in the bottom 3. Everyone’s shocked. Even I had her in the top 10. But she’s so unlikeable I can see why she’d have trouble getting folks to actually care enough to vote for her.

Little David Archuleta is pronounced safe and in the top 10. We hear him breathe heavily.

Aussie Michael Johns is completely shook up. Apparently, Carly’s fall from grace, has him nerve-racked. Nothing to worry about though, he’s safe.

Rocker David Cook, still with the octopus firmly planted on his head, is in the top 10.

Kristy Lee Cook (horse-loving blonde), looking hot, is once again in the bottom 3. She may have set a record for being in the bottom 3 the most times in all 7 seasons of American Idol. I'll look that up tomorrow.

Jason Castro is in the top 10.

So far it’s looking like this is a year for the guys, huh?

Ramiele Malubay, my pick to go home is wearing a really awful Flashdance top, but she makes it through to the top 10. Another surprise!

TIVO’d past the ridiculous segment “On The Air With American Idol” when viewers ask questions of the judges. Please email me if anything was newsworthy. Thanks.

Kelly Pickler sings "Red High Heels." Yes, she’s wearing them, too. She looks so much better than she did last year. I say way to go, Pickler! You’ve made us proud.

Syesha is in the top 10. She won’t win, of course, but she probably deserves to stay in the competition a couple of more weeks.

and Chikezie [Eze] are called down to the stage. One of them is in the bottom 3 and one is in the top 10 and I for one am not hazarding a guess. Amanda’s hair looks particularly Elvira-ish tonight. Chikezie [Eze] is safe. He gives Amanda a really awkward hug and heads stage right.

So it’s Tattoo Girl Carly, Kristy Lee Cook (horse-loving blonde) and Amanda Overmyer in the bottom 3. After the break, we find out that Carly is safe. Kristy Lee Cook (horse-loving blonde) is safe. Amanda Overmyer is going home. I’m torn. I understand why she wouldn’t have a huge fan base, but she’s definitely a better singer than Ramiele Malubay and Kristy Lee Cook (horse-loving blonde).

Oh well, just like an election…you can’t complain if you don’t vote.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

American Idol Top 11: Beatles Redux Recap

In honor of Sir Paul’s successful divorce from that gold digger…[call me bitter, but Heather Mills can’t hold a candle to Paul’s beloved Linda]…Tonight’s American Idol will once again feature songs from the Lennon/McCartney songbook.

I have a suggestion for little David Archuletta who committed the big ugly sin last week and forgot the lyrics. Yep! Davey’s trying to win a singing competition and he FORGOT the lyrics to “We Can Work It Out.” Anyway, my advice is for him to sing “I Want You." There are only about 10 words in the whole song and they’re repeated over and over, so he’ll probably be fine. I want you, I want you so bad, I want you, I want you so bad, It’s driving me mad, It’s driving me mad. Simple. [In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit I will never forgive David Archuletta for saying he doesn’t like the Beatles and doesn’t know their songs. How can you admit that? It’s like saying you’ve never heard of Beethoven or Frank Sinatra.]

Don’t know if you read my advice to the frontrunners, but I’m hoping we’ll see some breakout performances tonight. I just want to be entertained. I’m praying that Jason brings a little oomph to the stage and excites me. I want Brooke (Sweet Blonde) to leave her shoes on, not talk to the judges, and drop the Rebecca From Sunnybrook Farm bit. I want Tattoo Girl Carly to wear long sleeves. I’m hoping Amanda uses a new stylist. And I liked Ramiele before she went all ga-ga over pretty little Danny Noriega, so I hope she gets back to her pre-finalist spunk.

After the ususal intros, we're treated to some old film of the Beatles when they first came to the states, through the sixties, and back to Abbey Road. They really were That good.

First up, Amanda Overmyer (power ranking: 10). Amanda reminds me of a lovable, but slightly trashy in-law you love to be around a couple of times a year (not that I have any). She’s singing “Back In the USSR.” Not much of a tune here, just some squeaky nasal shouting. She works off the audience well, though. Randy liked the middle. Paula liked the middle. Simon calls her performance predictable and tells her she’s in danger of becoming boring. Not to say I told you so, but I did.

Trainwreck. The plague. The Titanic. Nope. It’s just Kristy Lee Cook (horse-loving blonde) (power ranking : 11) who miraculously survived to sing for us another week. First though we have to see a picture of her horse. Oh brother. Last week Kristy brutalized “Eight Days A Week” to the point that I may never be able to listen to it again without seeing her face. This week Kristy Lee (horse-loving blonde) is singing “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away.” What planet are these kids from? She says she’s never heard the song…she picked it from the title. Oh, that’s a good reason Kristy. She’s working the Haley Scarnato angle this week. Long legs, low cut dress…unfortunately she’s also missing the notes like Haley did. The equestrian does better when she’s belting it out, she's worse—and off-key—in her lower register. Just like last week, though, the song only faintly resembles John Lennon’s version of the classic. Randy says it was an `interesting’ arrangement. Paula says it might have been better if she stuck to the melody. Simon suggests hypnosis so she could become a better performer.

Little David Archuletta (power ranking: 6) is up next. Do you get the feeling his mom is right off stage watching? Let’s hope he remembered the chapstick like I suggested. While he’s talking he sounds like he’s in need of an inhaler…hopefully it's a temporary condition. He’s singing “Long and Winding Road.” One line, lick lip. 2nd line, lip lick. Okay I promise, I won’t count any more. It’s just so annoying. Hearing him and watching him, I think he’d be more comfortable in the Vienna Boys’ Choir. I know the judges are in the tank for him, but I’m not there yet. I can’t buy into him singing a love song to anyone. If I shut my eyes, he sounds great, but I’d never buy an album with him singing. Yep. Randy loves it, says he’s hot. Paula says it’s exciting and wonderful. Simon’s turn to blow him kisses. He calls him amazing. Danny just gives us that shuffle, head down, aw shucks, guys, gee whiz, look we all know and love.

Aussie Michael Johns (Power ranking: 2) is up. At least he knows who the Beatles are. He’s singing “A Day in the Life.” From the very beginning his voice sounds weak. I don’t like the arrangement because the song sounds all chopped up. Maybe that’s what happens when you take a 5 minute song and whack it down to a minute and thirty seconds. The most disappointing part to me is Michael doesn’t even sound good in the melodic sections. Randy says it was a bad song choice. Paula says it wasn’t as good as his dress rehearsal. Simon says it was a mess. He agrees with me that the song doesn’t work in a minute and a half.

Oh, goody, goody, gum drops…look! It’s Sweet Blonde! Brooke White! (Power ranking: 4) She’s all bright and sunny in her yellow ruffle dress. Not surprisingly, she’s singing “Here Comes the Sun.” I’m sure John Lennon and Paul McCartney would be honored to hear that Sweet Blonde Brooke White thinks the song is very well written. It’s just such a sweet performance. I feel like I’m watching a kid’s show. By the way, now we know why Sweet Blonde stays in a seated position—girl can’t dance. Randy calls it awkward. Brooke can’t keep her mouth shut and just keeps talking while Randy gives his critique. Paula likes her yellow dress, because the sun is yellow. Simon says the performance is forgettable, predictable, etc. etc. He would have said more, but Brooke just kept talking.

David (is that an octopus on my head?) Cook (Power ranking: 5) is up next and singing “Day Tripper.” And, yes, he’s doing a rock version. Love this song, by the way. David kind of has a big soft baby head, doesn’t he? I know he’s supposed to be a rocker, but I still think he’s too close to the microphone. And, I really, really, really, hate his guitar riff. Still, it’s all right. Randy says a solid look. Paula says there’s not much else anyone can say. Simon says David’s too smug and not as good as he thinks he is. He says he’s lost his element of surprise and should do something different.

Carly Smithson (power ranking: 1). Oh Carly what are we going to do with those odd facial expressions? Well, I’ll give her this much she's just going to sing “Blackbird.” It’s beautiful, but the combined ugliness of the large tattoo on her right arm and her really atrocious red top kind of ruin the performance for me. If she didn’t look so old and pained as she sang, I might be quicker to jump on the Carly train. Randy just loved it. Paula compliments her tones. Simon thought the song was indulgent. Carly makes lots of pained faces and then tries to explain to us why she chose the song. Ridiculous. If that isn't enough she shows us her new tattoo. Thanks.

Jason Castro (power ranking: 3) Last week my friend Joey noticed that gnats were swarming Jason’s dreadlocks. Joey’s afraid it’s a hygiene issue and says we’re fortunate we all don’t have smell-a-vision. Keep an eye out tonight for insects. Jason (predictably) chooses “Michelle”. He left the guitar in the closet, yea! Good choice! It’s a jaunty version. Not as good as the cute Beatle would do, but better than adequate. Just a great song. Randy says good choice, but maybe too subdued. Paula says Jason has a distinct charm, but he was disconnected without his guitar. Simon says the whole show has been weird. Amen. He calls Jason charming and goofy.

Syesha Mercado (power ranking: 9) sings “Yesterday” because the song touched her in middle school and now she wants to touch people. As usual she looks very beautiful. It’s nice that she’s just sitting and singing. “Yesterday” is such a beautiful song it really doesn’t need any embellishment. Nice call on Syesha’s part. Randy likes the performance. Paula says Syesha is very vulnerable and that’s where she needs to be. Simon says it’s Syesha’s best performance. In a back-handed compliment, though, he adds that "Yesterday" is the song Brooke (Sweet blonde) should have chosen.

Well, sometimes Chikezie [Eze](power ranking: 8) is great and sometimes he’s downright terrible. Which Chikezie [Eze]will we see on tonight’s stage singing “I’ve Just Seen A Face”? Chikezie [Eze] either can’t find the tune or has so botched the arrangement the song is almost unrecognizable. Why take a great Beatles classic and think you can make it better? Now we’re treated to some sort of weird harmonica bridge into a bluegrass version of McCartney’s tune. I don’t like it. But the crowd is cheering. Randy likes part of it, but not the harmonica part. Paula says Chikezie [Eze] is showing who he is (who else would he be showing?). Simon says it started off okay, but turned into Achey Breaky Heart. He gives the performance the ultimate diss: Gimmicky.

Ramiele Malubay (power ranking 7) gets the judges’ choice spot. The last couple of weeks she’s been horrible. It might be too late for her to turn this thing around, but she’s going to try with “I Should Have Known Better.” Nope. One note out and I can tell you this just isn’t happening. Bad. Atrocious. Paul McCartney is flying over from London to rip his music out of the hands of the American Idol producers once and for all. Randy says it was all right,but he wasn't jumping up and down. Paula wants Ramiele to sing ballads. Simon said the track sounded amateurish and the song was mediocre.

Top 3: Jason Castro, Carly Smithson, David Archuleta
Bottom 3: Kristy Lee Cook (horse-loving blonde), Ramiele Malubay, Brooke White (Sweet Blonde)

My pick to take the long and winding road home is Ramiele Maluabay.

The Unsinkable Danny Noriega

Rosie O’Donnell loved Danny Noriega’s singing so much that she has offered to pay for his encore. She dangled a lucrative offer to him to accompany her on her R Family Cruise to Mexico. Rosie and company would set sail next week. Before anyone gets any funny ideas, Rosie is a family woman. She has extended her invitation to Danny’s entourage too. He could bring his friend or family along.
(excerpt from Stupid Celebrities Gossip)

Oh goody, goody, goody! Pretty little Danny Noriega will be singing on Rosie's next cruise. Why can't I go????

At least he's promising to update us with more videos soon. Can't wait!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Tabhair póg dom, táim Éireannach*

A few fun Irish facts to help you celebrate St. Patrick's Day...

An Irish birthday tradition is to lift the birthday child upside down and give his head a few gentle bumps on the floor for good luck. The number of bumps should correspond to the child’s age plus one.

Catherine Kelly, who died in 1785, was allegedly the smallest Irish woman ever. With a total height of just 34 inches and a weight of 8 pounds, she was known as “The Irish Fairy.”

Aran Island sweaters have a variety of "family weaves." When a fisherman drowned, his sweater would wash up on shore. His family could identify who was lost by the sweater's weave.

The Irish in Ireland don't wear green ties, hats or other green clothes on St. Patrick's Day. They're way more subtle than us and just put a tasteful sprig of shamrock in their lapel.

In some parts of scenic Ireland, mobile phone towers have been designed in the shape of trees, to blend into the Irish landscape.

In 1850 a gentleman by the name of Fulmuth Kearney made the journey from Ireland, to the United States. One of the huddled masses, he prospered and his line flourished. His great great grand daughter gave birth to a boy, who she named Barack. It's possible that Senator Obama of Illinois could join the estimated 40% of American presidents who claim some Irish heritage.

The wolfhound is the official dog of Ireland. It's the largest of all dogs and can be up to six foot four when standing on its hind legs.

My favorite Irish quote: "It was a bold man who ate the first oyster." (Jonathan Swift)

My favorite Irish proverb: “A man is incomplete until he marries. Then he is finished.”

* Kiss Me I'm Irish

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Mellow Yellow

About a month ago I saw this house with a yellow door. I took a picture, because I couldn't decide if I liked it or not. Honestly, I don't think I'd ever seen a house with a yellow door before.

Since then, I've been seeing them everywhere.

So, is this a new trend or something?

If you see a yellow door take a picture, send it to me, and I'll post it.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Time for Dinner

About nine months ago, my friend Joey told me about Time for Dinner. We checked it out, we loved it, and now we go every month. Time for Dinner's slogan is "Home Cooking Made Easy"--and it is! Each month they put out a list of about 15 main dishes, side dishes, and desserts you can choose to make. I sign up on line--easy. We make six choices, each serves at least 6. You can choose to make more. The folks who work at Time for Dinner do all the shopping, the chopping, etc. When we get there all we have to do is put our aprons on and start assembling. There are individual work stations for each menu selection. Each station has the recipe, directions, and everything you need to put it together. Since we only have 3 people eating dinner most nights we divide each meal into two containers. Quick calculation...that means we walk out with 12 meals to put into our freezer, all neatly labeled.

Here's what we love about Time for Dinner:
* The women who work there. They're awesome. We've been cooking for a long time, but they're so patient with everyone's questions. If you don't know how to cook it would be a great place to learn.
* The ingredients are all really fresh. The meat is the best quality.
* We don't have to shop, chop, or clean.
* We can make 12 meals (6 full orders) in less than an hour.
* They include all the cooking and nutrition information on the pre-printed labels.
* There's a set fee for 12 or 6 sliding scale.
* John and I have a blast doing something together.
* It's locally owned.
* The food tastes great!

They offer lots of other services, so check out the website.

Bottom line is thanks to Time for Dinner we're eating better, spending less money, and taking the stress out of planning our meals during the week. We've also made
meals there for friends who are `under the weather.' We make them and put them in their freezer and then they have an easy meal ready anytime they want it.

P.S. I'm not getting a kick back or anything, I'm just hoping Carolyn or Karen give us a Very Berry Cobbler next month.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Women Scorned

Hasn’t the image of a political wife being trotted out to stand silently by her husband as he apologizes for his part in a sexual scandal outlived its usefulness?I admire women who can forgive their husband’s infidelity. I understand doing your best to keep the family together. I even buy into the notion that a politician’s spouse is part of the team.
What I don’t accept is putting these women in a situation that amounts to a second round of personal humiliation. Their private hell becomes a public spectacle. Just once I’d like to hear one of these poor victims say to their cheating spouse, “Look, buddy, I’ll probably forgive you eventually. But you got yourself into this mess and right now you’re on your own. Come see me after you talk to the media and then we’ll sit down in private and start talking.”