Thursday, January 29, 2009

American Idol Season 8 Auditions: New York and Puerto Rico finish it off

Tonight wraps up the final auditions. Tomorrow I'll give you my favorites, so come back.

We're in NYC & Puerto Rico. I heart New York. I might heart Puerto Rico, but I've never been there.

Contestant #1 is Adeola Adegoke who is barely understandable when she talks, even worse when she sings. Too bad she quit her day job. Simon calls Adeola's boss and asks him to take her back. He does, so all ends well.

Jorge Nunez sings something in Spanish. Oh. It's My Way. Muy bien. Paula asks Jorge to sing something in English. He does, but it still sounds like Spanish. Randy loves him. Jorge gets a unanimous vote to send him to Hollywood. BTW, Simon gives us a big clue. He tells Jorge they're looking for a Latin type. Hmmmmm. I bet Jorge goes pretty far.

Jessica Baier tells us all about her b-i-g talent. She's been in more than 700 singing competitions. Horrible. Terrible. Awful.

The nearly bald Melinda Camille wants to uplift humanity. Melinda likes to be naked. The judges send her on to Hollywood, but I think they just want to see her wardrobe choices as the competition unfolds.

Jackie Tohn is this year's Blake Lewis. Remember him? The beat box guy. Jackie makes it through, but I predict she'll get on my nerves really, really quickly.

"Crazy Rocker" Joe Contreras comes in as an IPod. Go home.

Nick Mitchell "Norman Gentle" looks to be about ten or fifteen years over the age limit. Go home. Nope. The girls and Randy send Nick/Norman to Hollywood

Kendall Beard a hottie from Texas gets the yellow ticket. I expect we'll see more of Kendall.

Monique Garcia Torres with the cutest little brother ever, Christopher, is next. I vote for Monique because Christopher is such a doll. Monique has a sweet, little voice. I don't think she'll last long, but Simon and Paula send her to Hollywood.

Whack job Alexa Cohen makes a return appearance from last season. She's still bad but i love her. I think she should go into acting. I'm serious.

A whole family of folks is partying in the ante room waiting for Patricia Lewis Roman to audition. She's on. Sort of screechy and frantic. The judges don't like it, but give her another chance. She sings some weird song in Espanol. Kara, Simon, and Randy send her through.

In all, Puerto Rico gives us 9 semi-finalists and NYC gives us 26.

Whoopee! Semi-finals are next week. Can't wait.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

American Idol Season 8 Auditions: Salt Lake delivers an Osmond, a Winehouse, and a Jordan

What would a singing competition in Salt Lake be without an Osmond? We meet David Osmond, son of Alan Osmond. Alan's been suffering for years with MS. David has it, too. Is MS hereditary? I didn't know that. David is one of the better looking Osmonds I've seen. Lots of criticism on song choice and style and stuff, but they eventually let him through to Hollywood. An Osmond in Hollywood, imagine that!

Joke audition. Tara Mathews, dominatrix. Terrible. Leave. There were a few more horrible auditioners.

Chris Kirkham with his friend Greg the Rabbit is next. Greg is his good luck charm. He's in a big pink bunny suit. Rabbit's foot, get it? Sorry, good luck charm doesn't work. Goodbye to Chris and Greg the Bunny.

Frankie Jordan, no relation to Jordin Sparks, a stay-at-home mom is up next. She thinks she was born to this do this which begs the question--why have a baby and be a stay-at-home mom? Oh, well. Frankie channels Amy Winehouse--in a good way. Frankie is staying at home no longer--she's headed to Hollywood.

Megan Corkrey also a mother (apparently they have babies young in Salt Lake), tells us her sad story. She's going through a divorce. You guessed it. American Idol could change her life. I like her voice--very different and old-fashioned. Simon agrees with me, says she's different and `I'll remember you.' Megan grabs the yellow ticket and is off to Hollywood.

Andrew Gibson b-a-d.

Austin Sisneros, senior class president, sounds funny when he talks. He sounds a lot better when he sings. Austin sings two horrible, I mean horrible, songs. Pretty much on the strength of his squeaky clean personality he makes it through to the semi-finals.

Jarrett Burns--loved him. Can't wait to see more of him in Hollywood.

6'1" Taylor Vaifauna reminds Randy of Jordin Sparks. Not me. She's okay. Kara liked her in the bathroom. Honestly, that's what she said. Regardless, Taylor's going to Hollywood.

Final audition of the night. Final sad story. Rose Flack was brought up by her dad. He died when she was 13. Whe was taken in by her best friend's family. Two years later her mother died. Man. This IS a sad story. Rose is the highlight of the night. Could be my favorite of the entire season of auditions.

Salt Lake sends a lucky 13 to the semi-finals.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

American Idol Season 8 Auditions: Jacksonville 5+11

After a little tribute to Randy Jackson (Jackson-ville, get it?), we see a self-professed Justin Guarini lookalike. Josh Ulloa, sort of a one man band/singer gives us Marvin Gaye with some extra embellishments. Simon says his audition was like Inspector Gadget. I think you had to see it to understand, but it made perfect sense. Josh is going to Hollywood.

Sharon Wilbur brings her little pooch in with her. She hands off the dog and sings what I think may have been the first Karen Carpenter song ever in American Idol auditions. It's two for two. Sharon's going with Josh to Hollywood.

Dana Moreno screams some Chaka Khan and is dismissed. A delusional Kaneswa Finnie is so bad Simon brings her mother in to tell her how terrible she is.

Muy caliente Julissa Veloz is a complete loco before she sings, but then pretty darn good. Paula gets her feeling hurt and leaves the judging table. Julissa gets a unanimous ole and is headed to the semifinals.

Darrin Darnell may not win American Idol, but he'll be considered for Miss Congeniality. Darrin has a rough start when his friend gets cut. He's really, really bad. Bye Darrin.

Naomi Sikes calls herself a talented looney. Great. She also compares herself to Mariah Carey. She's singing Minnie Ripperton. Okay, she's not singing Minnie Ripperton. Horrible. Day one in Jacksonville does not end on a high note.

16-year-old Jasmine Murray is the highlight so far. Love her. She's a little nasally, but okay. She's heading west.

Physics student George Ramirez scares Ryan and everyone else with his thinking. Bad beard, too. After sharing that in his wildest dreams he wants a small house with nice floors he kind of sings. He's sent back to school to dream about his little house with its nice floors.

Ann Marie is sent away to "find the star in herself." We see her putting on more makeup.

TK Hash a former contestant is back...Simon lets him know he doesn't remember him. That's not a good sign. Actually, I think I remember him and I think he sang Imagine that time, too. Too, too many runs. Simon votes no--loudly. The other three judges send him through.

Michael Perrelli is all happy and folk singy with his guitar and bandana...until it's audition time. He loses it when he's told he can't play his guitar in his audition. Big entitled baby, go home.

Ann Marie Boskovich comes back in with makeup on, touseled hair, and sandals. Why does this make any difference? We all know the kids who make it through get a huge makeover. Anyway she sings and the judges give her the golden ticket to Hollywood.

In all 16 contestants from Jacksonville will be in the semi-finals.

Oh, Baby

I don't know what would be birth to 8 babies or planning to breastfeed them all.

Related story

Monday, January 26, 2009

Book Report: Night

Elie Wiesel won the 1986 nobel Peace Prize for his memoir Night. Night is a record of Wiesel's experience in a series of Nazi death camps after the Nazis deported his family from Hungary and sent them to Auschwitz. His mother and younger sister were killed, his two older sisters survived. Elie and his father were later transported to Buchenwald, where his father died shortly before the camp was liberated in April 1945.

This book is terrifying and shocking in the manner that all holocaust accounts are terrifying and shocking. But Night is different in its honesty. Wiesel, raised as a devout and orthodox Jew, has his faith tested in ways we cannot even imagine:

"Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed....Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never."

Wiesel, as you know, is an author and professor. He became a U.S. citizen in the fifties and dedicated his life to keeping the Holocaust from becoming a forgotten historical event. He speaks and writes on the moral responsibility of all people to fight hatred, racism and genocide.

"We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must - at that moment - become the center of the universe."

As a sidebar...The Elie Wiesel Foundation posted this on its website in December:
"We are deeply saddened and distressed that we, along with many others, have been the victims of what may be one of the largest investment frauds in history. We are writing to inform you that the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity had $15.2 million under management with Bernard Madoff Investment Securities. This represented substantially all of the Foundation's assets."

I consider this one of the most important books I've ever read. 5 stars.

Blago Bits

In case you missed Governor Blago on his media blitz through the network morning shows today…here are some of the highlights:

On his idea of appointing Oprah to Barack-star’s Senate seat "She seemed to be someone who would help Barack Obama in a significant way become president," ... "She was obviously someone with a much broader bully pulpit than other senators"

"It's a kangaroo court and they've decided, essentially, to do a hanging without even a fair trial," {The Today Show}

{his impeachment} is "all about raising the income tax in Illinois before Memorial Day." {Good Morning America}

Numerous references comparing himself to Jimmy Stewart and Gary Cooper and movie classics like Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, It's A Wonderful Life, Meet John Doe, and Mr. Deeds Goes To Town.

"I didn't do anything wrong," {The View}

"I am not a crook." {Said on The View when the gals tried to get him to do his impression of Richard Nixon}

BTW, do you think Blago looks like Fred Flintstone?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Weekend Highlight

The highlight of our weekend was celebrating the life of little Emma Martin at the dedication of the Technology Program at the Good Shepherd School for Children in St. Louis.

We lost Emma last spring, but Saturday would have been her sixth birthday and what a legacy this sweet little girl left!

Through the loving efforts of her parents (Sean & Wendy), Emma's friends, and the staff at Good Shepherd, the Technology Program has been greatly enhanced from donations in Emma's name with the latest advancements in automated teaching toys and other materials for special needs children.

John and I were so impressed with the Good Shepherd School and its staff. The school is an inclusive environment. It serves children six week to six years, of all abilities. Children with developmental delays receive their services side-by-side with typical developing kids. Imagine the benefits to all the children!

Check out their website to read all about the services the aptly-named Good Shepherd provides.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Ta-Dah! The Christmas Needlepoint Belt

This is the Christmas project that seemed never ending. Now! All finished! Being worn by my lucky baby boy. Applause! Applause! It's been awhile since I finished it, but it's just now that I can talk about it. Kind of like labor. When you see the finished product you forget about all the pain you went through. Almost.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Book Report: Daughter of Time

"Grant lay on his high white cot and stared at the ceiling. Stared at it with loathing. He knew by heart evey last minute crack on its nice clean surface. He had made maps of the ceiling and gone exploring on them; rivers, islands, and continents. He had made guessing games of it and discovered hidden objects; faces, birds, and fishes. He had made mathematical calculations of it and rediscovered his childhood; theorems, angles, and triangles. There was practically nothing else he could do but look at it. He hated the sight of it."

I pride myself on being a reader. Sadly I must admit I'd never heard of either Daughter of Time or its author Josephine Tey. When I started working on my 2009 book list, Ms. Tey's name kept coming up in the genre of mysteries. Tey, aka Gordon Daviot, aka Elizabeth MacKintosh, was born in Scotland in 1897 and died in London in 1952, and is considered one of the best English mystery writers of all time. Daughter of Time was her final book.

In addition to being a mystery/detective story, Daughter of Time also has a little bit of historical fiction to it as well. The book calls into account that time in English history when King Richard III ruled, King Henry VII took over and two young princes were murdered in the tower.

For hundreds of years King Richard III was assumed to have been one of the wickedest characters in English histroy, a ruler remembered most for the cold-blooded murder of his two young nephews, boys in line to take the throne before him. Daughter of Time uses 20th century Inspector Alan Grant (flat on his back with a broken leg) to unravel the mystery and come to a striking conclusion.

As I read, I had to continually consult the family tree illustration in the front of the book to keep all the historical characters and their connections straight. Suffice it to say I'm now on close terms with the Nevill's, the Woodville's, the Lancaster's, the Tudor's, the York's, and the Plantagenet's.

I loved, loved, loved the concept, the clues, and the development of the story. This is a small book, but I found it a challenge to read because of all the previously-mentioned characters, but also because it's very British in style and tone. 3 stars.

Still the champ

Remember last year's Battle of the Davids on American Idol? Well, both David Cook and Archy have albums on the charts. In total sales units David Cook is the big winner with 861,656 vs. Archy's 588,559.

Also, David Cook's season finale song "The Time Of My Life" is still No. 1 on the Adult Contemporary chart. This is the 15th week which makes it one of the longest running singles by a solo male artist in history. Personally, I love David Cook--but hate that cheese ball song.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

American Idol Season 8 Auditions: 19 Louisville contestants make it across finish line

Tiffany Shedd kicks off the Louisville auditions and could have been the worst yet. Put it this way, she'd have a better chance of winning the Kentucky Derby.

Joanna Pacitti is the anti-Tiffany. Apparently Joanna had been signed to a record label and something bad happened. I like her. Only thing I don't like is that her teeth look too big for her mouth. Judges ignore the big teeth and give her a ticket to Hollywood.

Mark Mudd is terrible. Yes, he's related to The Dr. Mudd. Who cares? Go away.

I have a bias against two first name guys, but I may make an exception for Brent Keith Smith. Cute, cute, cute.

The judges like Matt Giraud. Not me. I think he'll be gone after the first Hollywood cut.

Joke audition...Ross Plavsic gets sent home to little town Kentucky.

Alexis Grace is headed west (wanting to make a better life for her daughter), Aaron Williamson is not (maybe be he wants to be `America's Next Top Idol').

Probably not a good idea to sing a Carrie Underwood song in an American Idol audition, but Rebecca Garcia does it anyway. Yep, told you. Sent home.

Bar Singer/mom Felicia Barton is really great. Love her, want to see more of her! Oh, goody! Felicia is going to Hollywood.

My second favorite of the night is Leneshe Young who is ready to be a star. Simon loves Leneshe and her original song. This girl could go far. (Hey that rhymes. Maybe I should write a song).

Book Report: The Year of Magical Thinking

"You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends."

Writers Joan Didion and John Gregory Dunne were married for almost forty years. Dunne died of a sudden cardiac arrest shortly after Christmas 2003 in their apartment as they prepared for dinner. As a sidebar story, Didion's and Dunne's daughter Quintana had been hospitalized a couple of weeks before his death for pneumonia, subsequently developed septic shock, and was unconscious when he died. It was months before Quintana could be told the news of her father's death. Even after, Quintana suffered numerous health setbacks throughout Didion's year of `magical thinking.'

The Year of Magical Thinking is an account of the twelve months following John Dunne's death and Didion's struggle to make sense of the grieving process.

Anyone who has lost a close loved one, especially from a sudden death, will be able to relate to Joan Didion's story. The sudden memories that rush into view; the belief that if you could just pray hard enough, or will it strongly enough, things would be different; the need to have just one more conversation or get the answer to just one more question; the desire to turn back time...all are universally-felt reactions, but also extremely singular.

"Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it. We anticipate (we know) that someone close to us could die, but we do not look beyond the few days or weeks that immediately follow such an imagined death. We misconstrue the nature of even those few days or weeks. We might expect if the death is sudden to feel shock. We do not expect this shock to be obliterative, dislocating to both body and mind. We might expect that we will be prostrate, inconsolable, crazy with loss. We do not expect to be literally crazy, cool customers who believe that their husband is about to return and need his shoes. . . . Nor can we know ahead of the fact (and here lies the heart of the difference between grief as we imagine it and grief as it is) the unending absence that follows, the void, the very opposite of meaning, the relentless succession of moments during which we will confront the experience of meaninglessness itself."

Didion's cool, somewhat detached journalistic style isn't for everyone. There. You've been warned.

P.S. Quintana, Joan Didion's daughter and only child died in 2005 before the book's publication.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

American Idol Season 8 Auditions: San Francisco delivers a dozen

If it's Tuesday, it must be American Idol.

This week we're watching auditions from San Francisco. My significant other says this will be a `freak show.' We'll see.

First up, a gal from Puerto Rico, Tatiana Del Toro. She's really beautiful until she starts laughing and my goodness, there are no words to describe the level of annoyance this chica reaches. The judges send her through simply because she's dramatic. Did I tell you she's wearing an evening dress with snake skin on the top, taffeta on the lower third and silver shoes?

Dean-Anthony Bradford. No, no, no. Bad jacket, bad hair, bad teeth, bad voice.

Okay, our first guy of the night counting on American Idol to make a better life for his family. Jesus Valenzula's dreams are immediately crushed by Simon, but he gets a second chance when he brings in his two little boys. Jesus squeaks through on the strength of his kids' personalities. Seriously, this guy doesn't have a voice.

Rubik's cube genius Dalton Powell underwhelms everyone with his personality and his voice. Sorry Dalton.

I don't understand anything about Akilah Askew-Gholston. I don't understand her clothes, her song, her puffer jacket, her hair, her voice, anything she's talking about. I don't understand anything. Please make her stop singing and talking and send her home.

John Twiford, Allison Iraheta, and Raquel Houghton are all headed to Hollywood. Allison is the only one I didn't like too much. Except Janis Joplin, I don't think I've ever loved anyone who sings Janis Joplin.

Annie Murdoch is over-the-top and awful.

Adam Lambert, from Hollywood is going back to Hollywood. Simon calls him theatrical. BTW, that's not a compliment, but it's a unanimous vote from the judges.

Sad story of the night. Contestant Kai Kalama put his dreams on hold to take care of his mother. Kai's mother developed a seizure disorder a year ago. I say let him through before he even sings. This, folks, is why I cannot be a judge or even write an unbiased recap. Who cares if he has any talent? Kai wants to win so he can make his mom proud and buy her a house. Kai has the cool factor, a great story and a pretty decent voice. Yep. They send him to Hollywood. We all cry when Kai calls his poor, sick mom.

Only a dozen contestants from big old San Francisco were sent on to Hollywood. Surprising.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Dear Barack-star,

In the words of Winston Churchill, "There is nothing wrong with change, if it is in the right direction.”

With all my heart I wish you the greatest success in your presidency. I hope under your leadership our country finds greater peace, prosperity, and a truly civil discourse that has been sorely lacking in my lifetime. I pray that rather than pursuing a policy of wholesale change, you use your God given oratory skills to create an overall vision of excellence we as Americans can look to with pride. Excellence in our entrepreneurial spirit. Excellence in innovation. Excellence in adventure. Excellence in the humanities and business and tolerance and religious freedom and education and health care, and, well, excellence in all things that brought those very first settlers to the continent.

Barack-star I also hope that you'll foster an environment of true collaboration. Not just collaboration with the people who agree with you and support you, but collaboration with people who have just as strongly held viewpoints--albeit on the other side.

As a believer in prayer, {"The fervent prayer of a righteous man is very powerful," (James 5: 16)}, I promise to pray for you everyday you're in office. I pray that you'll have wisdom in pursuing the change that will lead our country in the right direction.

Now, go get 'em.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Knitting Project: Baby Blanket

Here's the baby blanket I finished knitting last week. It's soooooo soft. Do you like it?

P.S. This is not an ugly baby. It's Jasper the Cabbage Patch baby. Jasper's not too much of a baby anymore. He's 23 years old.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

American Idol Season 8 Auditions: Kansas City here we come

Home of last year's American Idol David Cook...we're in Kansas City, where I hear there's lots of pretty little women. Uh, yeah, sorry.

Here's what I'm already sick of...contestants who are singing to make their _______'s lives better (fill in the blank: mother, father, sister, brother, son, daughter, dog, pet hamster, etc.), faux rockers, and anyone who sings Stevie Wonder. Other than that I'm really excited for Season 8.

Ashley Anderson came all the way from New Jersey to audition, she sings Footsteps--oops Footprints--In the Sand. I hate it, but she gets the judges' votes.

Bubble Tea Maker (whatever) Casey Carlson wearing a bubble dress is hot enough, but can she sing. Yep. She's in.

Von Smith is from Greenwood, Missouri. I live in Missouri. I've never heard of Greenwood. Oh well, Von from Greenwood is going to Hollywood. BTW, hate the hat. Lose it Von, it makes you look like Sam Snead. Google it.

Remember dreads boy Jason Castro? Well, he has a younger, less talented brother, Michael Castro. Michael has pinkish, punkish hair. Not much else going for him, but the judges send him to Hollywood since he's Jason's brother. At least, that's what I think.

Matt Breitzke a big, bald, welder dude is also going to Hollywood, but on a split decision. I liked his rendition of "Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone," but I don't think he's going to last long in the competition.

Jessica Furney looks like a girl from Kansas. Ah, she is a girl from Kansas City. And she lives with her 93-year-old grandmother. I just love this girl. I want her to win. Go, Jessica. And, she's on her way to Hollywood after singing a little Janis.

India and Asia...sisters, sisters, never ever such devoted sisters. India makes it, Asia's staying home.

I HATED Jamar Rogers' audition. I lose. Judges are inexplicably wasting a plane ticket on this cheese ball.

Danny Gokey (unfortunately, a friend of Cheeseball Jamar)tells the sad story of the year--his wife died this year. Anyway, Danny Gokey...surprised me! Yes! Finally, someone who can sing. He's headed to H-Wood.

Anoop Desai...that's Indian for Anoop no Sanjaya. Hooray. He can sing and he's on his way to Bollywood Hollywood.

You don't see a guy tackle a Michael Jackson tune often, but Asa Jackson takes it on. It nearly loses him a spot in Hollywood, but the judges are sending him west in spite of his song choice.

Dennis Brigham from Glen Carbon, Illinois earned himself a yellow ticket. Don't know how, but he did.

Lil Rounds from Memphis ends things on a high note. She's catching the flight to California. And, guess what...she's doing this for her three kids and husband.

If what we've seen the last two nights is a representative sample, I think it's shaping up to be another year for the guys.

In all we'll see 27 contestants who auditioned in KC in the Hollywood round.

Book Report: Ender's Game

"I've watched through his eyes. I've listened through his ears, and I tell you he's the one. Or at least as close as we're going to get."

"That's what you said about the brother."

"The brother tested out impossible. For other reasons. Nothing to do with his ability."

Do I look like a science fiction/fantasy fan to you? Well, I'm not. But! I did read Orson Scott Card's novel Ender's Game and didn't find it a waste of time.

Sometime in the future, a long, long, time away...six-year-old Ender Wiggin is recruited and trained to save the world from an alien invasion. That's as much of the plot as I'm going to tell you because I'm afraid saying anymore would ruin the story.

As you read the book remember that Card wrote it in 1985. Amazing that there are so many references to the "internet", e-mail, and virtual video games before they were available to the general public.

One thing I didn't like about the book is that the final chapter is an obvious set up for sequels. In fact, there are five books that follow this one chronicling Ender's adventures. If you like this kind of novel you've got some reading to keep you busy.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

American Idol Season 8 Heats Up in Phoenix

So Season 8 of American Idol has started. Part talent show, part freak show, love it or hate it, American Idol has made it back for another year.

First up? Auditions from Phoenix. Home of Season 6 winner Jordin Sparks. Jordin even welcomed the kids to the auditions. Big...very big...of her.

Hooray! We have a new tattoo girl. Emily Wynne-Hughes threw her girl band overboard to audition and now she's headed to Hollywood solo.

J.G. Aufua is going to Hollywood, too. He's hoping to take his Il Divo act to America so he can turn his family's life around.

Cute-as-a-button Arianna Afsar tells the judges about her volunteer program that matches teens with senior citizens, then really wows them with her spot on singing.

Girl Stevie Wright {yes, named after Stevie Nicks} sings Etta James' standard "At Last" and earns a spot on the plane to Hollywood.

Michael Sarver a roughneck on an oil rig is singing to--yep, you guessed it--make a better life for his family. I like him and so do the judges.

Katrina Darell--hereafter known as bikini babe--makes her way into at least two of the judges' hearts and after a smackdown with new judge Kara DioGuardi gets the coveted yellow ticket.

Just a note. I pretty much hate it when anyone other than Stevie Wonder sings Stevie Wonder.

Not quite as annoying as Mikala Gordon from a few seasons back, but reminiscent, Brianna Quijada cheerleads her way into the audition, but blows second song "Killing Me Softly." Still, Paula and Simon put her through on the strength of her cloying personality.

Cutie Deanna Brown from Louisville has the most unusual voice of the lot. This girl could be a surprise. Definitely the type we may see in the top 12.

Cody Sheldon, slasher filmmaker/singer makes it through...surprisingly, in my opinion.

Alexander Wagner-Trugman is a kid who will totally get on my nerves after about 20 seconds. I don't like his voice. Don't like his weird facial expressions. Don't like his jokes. Don't like him. But I'm not judging. We'll see him in Hollywood.

I think Scott McIntyre is the first blind contestant we've had on AI. Before he sings a note, I want him to win. Scott sings Billy Joel and blows me away. All four judges give Scott thumbs up. On his way out the door Ryan tries to high five Scott, but Scott doesn't see him. Awkward.

In all 27 kids who tried out in Phoenix got golden tickets.

Book Report: And Then There Were None

"Constance Culmington, he reflected to himself, was exactly the sort of woman who would buy an island and surround herself with mystery! Nodding his head in gentle approval of his logic, Mr. Justice Wargrave allowed his head to nod... He slept..."

And Then There Were None is an Agatha Christie mystery novel first published in 1939.

Excellent premise. 10 people are invited to Indian Island for a relaxing holiday by a mysterious host {Mr./Mrs. "U.N. Owen"--ie. unknown}. After they arrive, the never-seen host accuses each person of murder. The guests realize they've been tricked into coming, but there's no escape.

And then the romp begins. One by one, the visitors are knocked off. This is a classic who-dunnit that will leave you guessing until the epilogue.

No kidding. Ms. Christie knew how to structure a mystery with all the requisite clues, tricks and turns that will keep you puzzled and enthralled page after page.

I've never been a huge fan of detective/mystery novels, but after reading The Maltese Falcon and And Then There Were None, I'm glad I added the genre to my 2009 reading list.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Golden Globe Loser

Sorry. But what is this? The Zsa Zsa hair. The strapless undershirt under the weird gauzy top. The sleeves. The big, fat watch or bracelet, or whatever it is. Oh my. Renee.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Hmmmm...where should you go to dinner? How about Bobo Noodle House?

My friend Suzi says Bobo's is her significant other's (George) favorite restaurant in St. Louis. Okay, George, I'm right there if you ever want to go grab a little sesame chicken with chili and udon noodles or a pho (soup) of beef and butternut squash.

Truly, what a spectacular little find at the corner of Skinker and Forest Park. Bobo Noodle House is a tiny little sliver of a restaurant tucked into a new building. When I say tiny, I mean it. If Bobo's seats more than 25 or 30 at the max, I'd be shocked. That said, be prepared to wait at peak times.

Be sure to try the seared salt shrimp served with a cool yogurt sauce. The shrimp is meant to be eaten with the shells on, like soft-shell crab.

We spent $60 on dinner for two.


P.S. There's no restriction about bringing snowflakes {kids under 10}, but the space isn't all that accommodating for them.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Stop reading this and go to the St. Louis Art Museum

I admit I don't know a lot about art history, techniques, or if you do, forgive my naivete. Last night we went to the St. Louis Art Museum's exhibit: "Action-Abstraction: Pollock, de Kooning and American Art, 1940–1976" This is the last weekend for the exhibit, so if you have time make your way over there. According to the printed materials, this is the first exhibit in 20 years to examine the Abstract movement and the period that followed.

Interestingly, the exhibit is portrayed through the perspective of two rivals in art criticism, Clement Greenberg and Harold Rosenberg. About 50 pieces from major collections throughout the world have been brought together. You'll see works from Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning, Lee Krasner, Helen Frankenthaler, Arshile Gorky, Philip Guston, Hans Hofmann, Jasper Johns, Ad Reinhardt, David Smith, Frank Stella and Clyfford Still. Paintings and sculpture are displayed that changed the art world from representational to abstraction.

Contemporary magazines, newspaper, and filmed interviews are also part of the exhibit and help define how truly extraordinary and revolutionary these works were at the time. The role art critics Greenberg and Rosenberg played in getting the largely American movement recognized is also integral to the exhibition. Greenberg championed the purity of abstract art. Rosenberg the action side of creating abstract art.

Admission is $6 and includes an iPod media tour.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Things I Don't Understand (cont'd)

#13 The Sham-Wow Guy. Why does he have that microphone thing? Other people on TV don't need Britney-mics. Why does he say, "and it's made in Germany!" Is that a good thing? Why?



Book Report: Churchill: A Study In Greatness

" 'I was what grown-up people in their off-hand way call a troublesome boy.'
The nation and society into which Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill was born, the place in which he was born, and the parents to whom he was born, were all remarkable."

In the genre of biographies, my first book for 2009 is Churchill: A Study In Greatness by Geoffrey Best. At about 350 pages this is a relatively compact book to cover the life of one of the greatest figures of the 20th century. Informative, entertaining, inspiring, illuminating. I liked this book a great deal, but it left me wanting more. Best spends most of the book on Churchill from World War II. Surprisingly, I found the chapters on Churchill's latest years some of the most fascinating. I knew he was ahead of his time regarding ending communism, but had no idea he was one of the first proponents of arms control and European unity. Throughout the book Best notes that Winston's wife, Clementine, was his steadiest influence...but strangely, very few details of their relationship are revealed.

Interestingly, Churchill always believed he was destined for great things even while castigated by contemporaries. He felt that time would provide context and perspective for many of his controversial positions. In most cases, he was proven correct.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The next Attorney General

I love Joe Scarborough. Today on MSNBC's Morning Joe they were talking about Sanjay Gupta (not to be confused with American Idol's Sanjaya) being named Barack-star's Surgeon General.

Joe Scarborough at about 6:00am "That's the funniest thing I've ever heard."


"Greta Van Susteren for Attorney General."

Related post: Now you're talking Barack-star!

{Personally, I like Greta. I think she'd do a good job as AG.}

Where are you??????

I'm hurt. Hurt, I say! It's been two days and none of you have commented on my blog's new look? Do you hate me my new blog or something? Should I go back to the old format? Back to the drawing board? What gives?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Now you're talking, Barack-star! This is change I can believe in

Reports are that Barack-star is going to name hottie Sanjay Gupta Surgeon General. Whoo-hoo! Sanjay is the photogenic doc on CNN and CBS.

I don't really know what the Surgeon General does. I don't think he performs surgery or has a staff to command or anything. In fact, I only know one other Surgeon General--Dr. C. Everett Koop. He was the guy with the beard who always looked like he was wearing a Salvation Army uniform.

Call me shallow, but I'd rather look at Sanjay than a guy that looks like Everett any day. So I say, yea! Nice pick, Barack-star! I think he's even been on Oprah. Or, maybe I'm just confusing him with Dr. Oz who I also love.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Officially an old lady

I ran across an article today that listed the fashion trends for Spring 09. I may not be the trendiest person in the world, but I like to keep up with what's happening. Well, I think 2009 is the year I officially move into old lady category. Read this list. I can't wear this stuff. I don't even think I want to wear it. I know you don't want to see me wearing it.

2009 Fashion Trends

Strong 80s flair.

I lived through the eighties and it was one of the worst decades--ever--for fashion. Legwarmers, parachute pants, Reebok hi-tops, jelly shoes, acid washed jeans...80s and flair do not belong in the same sentence.

Maxi Dresses.

No. I'm only 5'2". I'd look like Ma from Little House on the Prairie.


Okay. Boring, but okay.

Cropped military jackets.

No. Too Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band for me.

Floppy pants and baggy bottoms.

No. I already have a baggy bottom, I don't need any floppy pants to help me out there.

Zipper accents.

Nothing uglier than an aging, blonde, biker babe.

Rompers and jumpsuits.

This is a joke, right?

Single shouldered tops.


The exposed midriff.



Maybe {as long as I don't move into Annie Oakley territory}

Daytime sparkle.

A little too Miami Beach for my taste.



More gladiators.

Hate them on anyone other that Russell Crowe.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Book Report--The Great Gatsby

Kicking off 2009's reading list in the category of classical fiction is F.Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby.

"In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since.

`Whenevever you feel like criticizing any one,' he told me, `just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had.'

He didn't say any more, but we've always been unusually communicative in a reserved way, and I understood that he meant a great deal more than that."

I know, you probably read this book in high school. Well, read it again. I don't know how any teenager could ever understand the adult themes of the book. Can you remake yourself? Is achieving The American Dream just a dream for most people? Is the self-made man a myth? What choices do women have in our society? Do they diminish or enlarge with wealth?

Fitzgerald was at his finest with this book. His observations, seen through narrator Nick's eyes were dry, tightly written, economical. Here's one of my all time favorite lines in American literature:
"Her voice was full of money."

Friday, January 2, 2009

Oldest Person Alive Dies--Again

Yep. It's happened again. The world's Oldest Person Alive (OPA) has died. Maria de Jesus of Portugal died at age 115 today. Maria only wore the OPA crown for 37 days.

Next up is 114-year-old Gertrude Baines of California. {At 113, Japan's Tomoji Tanabe is gunning for Gertrude.}

Related Post:

Thursday, January 1, 2009

5 things I want to see less of in 2009

1) Bluetooth headsets
2) Bailouts
3) Pelosi, Reid, Boehner, and McConnell
4) Skull motifs
5) The "Race" card {real or imagined}

Bonus: Dan Hesse, the ubiquitous Sprint CEO who apparently loves to see himself in commercials.

I want to meet them
LogoThere are
people with my name in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

They're called GOALS, not resolutions

2008 was good for us. We were blessed in so many ways. Today I have high hopes for 2009. Just think...all those 24-hour periods to do something positive and meaningful.

Looking in the rear view mirror, here were my goals for 2008:
1)Take golf lessons.
2)Pay cash.
3)Learn to knit.
4)Make a trip to Italy.
5)Have 8 dinner parties. We had 10
6)Learn Italian.
7)Go to 8 movies.
8)Read 50 books (I'm so proud of this one--I read 60!)

Not completed, but points for trying:
1)Go to 8 new restaurants: We only managed 5, but in our defense we only counted new (to us) restaurants in our own city

Looking ahead to 2009, hear are my goals:
1) Make my bed every day. For real. Every single day. Even if I'm sick.
2) Quality reading. Last year I went for quantity, this year I have a book list I'm working through that covers five recommended books in each of five different genres: Historical fiction, biographies, science fiction/fantasy, mystery/thriller, best sellers, classic fiction. Add to that the 12 books for our book club TBA. If you want the complete list so you can read along with me, let me know and I'll send it to you.
3) Laugh more. I think I have a great sense of humor. But, I also think this is going to be a tough year with the economy and the world situation so I'm going to make a conscious effort to laugh more. I want to watch more comedies on television and at the movies, go to comedy clubs, read the comics, hang out with funny people. LOL, sound like fun?
4) 12 movies! That's a huge jump from 2008's eight. But, if I go to the Academy Award movie marathon with Joey as planned that's five right there. Seven more shouldn't be too tough.
5) Due to the economy we're going on a spending freeze at Chez C. Yep. No purchases for six months of 2009 beyond necessities. Plus, any purchase of an item over $100 (unfortunately, that includes clothes and shoes) has to have a 24-hour waiting period. And, absolutely no purchases on anything full price.
6) This year I made about 1/4 of the Christmas presents we gave. Next year I want to make at least 1/2 of everything we give.
7) Now, I know this is a little incongruous with my other plans to cut back (see #5 and #6), but we need to make at least a short trip to get out of town quarterly. This is strictly for mental health reasons. I don't think this will be too hard. We already have trips planned to NYC and Hawaii. Probably toss in a Chicago sometime during the year and we're only one short. Vegas and N'Awlinz are always fun. Maybe we could go to Boston and see Ashley and Alaina. Or Toronto? Who lives in Toronto? Kingsley might show us around Philadelphia. Let me know if you're willing to entertain us for a night.
8) Do more service projects.