Wednesday, April 29, 2009

American Idol Top 5 results: Rat Pack Revisited

So who do you think sang with the most Rat Packish swagger last night? With the exception of Matt Mole, I thought all the contestants did pretty well. I have no idea why Simon blew all the kisses Matt's way last night.

I checked out today for their predictions on who'll be going home and it's a virtual five-way tie.

I'm up for a big surprise, how 'bout you?

Danny Gokey: safe
Allison Iraheta: safe
Adam Lambert: bottom 3
Kris Allen: bottom 3
Matt Giraud: bottom 3

Kris Allen: safe
Adam Lambert: safe

Matt Mole is out!

Book Report: Presumed Innocent

Presumed Innocent is the final book on my 2009 reading list in the Mystery/Suspense category. It took about 150 pages for me to really get involved in the story. Each of the main characters has major personality flaws, which made it hard for me to care a whole lot about what happened about them. Still the final 100 pages are as suspenseful and packed with twists and turns as any I've ever read. The basic story is that a former chief deputy county prosecutor is suspected of murering his co-worker/lover, is arrested, and put on trial. The rest you'll just have to read for yourself.

One of things I loved about Scott Turow's book was the names of his characters. Here are a few: Rozat `Rusty' Sabich; Judge Larren Lyttle; Carolyn Polhemus; `Painless' Kumagai {the medical examiner}; Nico Della `Delay' Guardia; Detective `Lip' Lipranzer; Tommy Molto.

I read that Turow plans to release a sequel to Presumed Innocent {first published in 1990} in May 2010.

First half of the book **1/2
Second half of the book *****

This is it???

Watching the Health & Human Services news conference on how to protect yourself from swine flu. Here's their advice:

1) Wash your hands
2) Cover your nose when you sneeze
3) Don't go to work or school if you're sick

And, if you want, you can wear a paper mask.

This morning Prez Barack-star was in my town and said that `Americans should know the government is doing all it can to control the virus.'

Yep, folks. 159 dead in Mexico. One toddler dead in the U.S. 66 confirmed swine flu cases in the United States in six states, 45 in New York, 11 in California, six in Texas, two in Kansas and one each in Indiana and Ohio. Canada, Austria, New Zealand, Israel, Spain, Britain and Germany also have reported cases of swine flu sickness.

And our government says wash your hands.

Oh my goodness.

BTW, even if the World Health Organization orders emergency vaccine supplies — and that decision hasn't been made yet — it would take at least two more months to produce the initial shots needed for human safety testing.

Again. Oh my goodness.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

American Idol 2009 Top 5 Recap: Rat Pack--The Boys and Girl Top 5 Club

Tonight the top 5 are singing songs from the original team of bad boys..the Rat Pack {Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. if you're too young to remember. Actually, if you're too young to remember you're probably too young to know who any of these guys are.} Please note...there were no women in the Rat Pack. Angie Dickinson and Shirley McClaine did hang out with the boys, but never sang with them. Why do I bring this up? Just to point out that Rat Pack Night will be an uphill battle for Allison.

Now that we don't have to suffer through any more of America's favorite frat boy's tortured ballads, or Little trying to find that big voice we heard so much about...this has turned out to be a really tight race.

It's a razor-thin separation for 2nd, 3rd, and 4th places in the power rankings. I heard that Kris Allen had the most I Tunes downloads this week, so his fan base is definitely growing. Danny needs to conjure up the sympathy vote again {his wife died just a few weeks before the auditions} to re-invigorate his followers. And, Allison? Hmmmm. I just don't know what she needs to do to broaden her appeal. In fact, it may not be possible at this late date.

That leaves Adam and Matt Mole. They're at first and last places in the power rankings right now. Adam appears to be a foregone conclusion to win the whole thing, but never forget that Chris Daughtry, Tamyra Gray, LaToya London, and Melinda Doolittle also seemed unstoppable...until the viewers voted them off.

It really is Matt Mole's turn to go home, but as I pointed out before, the Rat Pack theme probably favors him over Allison. We'll see.

Jamie Foxx is the faux mentor this week.

{Current power rankings are in parenthesis after the contestant's name}

Kris Allen (4) Kris looks good in a suit. He's also in this thing to win it. Very impressive. Kris is a smart competitor. Observation: Simon's afraid Kris might win.

Allison Iraheta (2) Great choice to sing "Someone To Watch Over Me". Amazing vocal styling. Can't help but say I love this gal. Once again, Simon's scared Allison could make it into the finals so he disses her big time.

Matt Giraud (5)Matt Mole with his cool hat sings "My Funny Valentine." This song should be in Matt's wheelhouse. Hmmmm...blew the very first note. A really shaky start. Clearly the worst of the night. Even more disappointing because this is Matt Mole's song style. Weird. Simon loved it. He and I are definitely not on the same page tonight.

Danny Gokey (3)Danny needs to not be boring and doing something special. So the vocals were nice and solid at the beginning and then he broke into special. Reminiscent of Dean and Frank.

Adam Lambert (1)Once again Adam snagged the judges' choice spot. Adam appears to have gained about 20 pounds since the season began. Yep, he's got his "Freddie Mercury Thing" going again. Too over-the-top for my taste, but I admit he'll probably win.

Who should go home: Matt Mole

Who will go home: Allison Iraheta

Oops. Sorry.

I think there should be an independent commission set up to investigate why Barack-star signed off on flying the Air Force One backup plane around NYC skyscrapers yesterday. In my book this is domestic torture. Apparently thousands of New Yorkers scrambled to evacuate their offices and fled into the streets. People were shaking and crying and scared. The stock market even went into a decline.

I'm not making this up!

Mayor Bloomberg is furious that he wasn't informed about the "top secret" mission.

Using the smart-aleck tone he's becoming known for:

Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, said Monday afternoon that he was unaware of the flyover. At his daily press briefing, Mr. Gibbs initially referred questions to the F.A.A. and the Air Force. When told that those government offices were referring questions to the White House, Mr. Gibbs said: “I have no information on this other than what I saw.”

Mr. Gibbs, pressed by reporters, said he had seen news reports of the flyover, but declared: “I was working on other things. You might be surprised to know that I don’t know every movement of Air Force One.” Later, he added that he would look into the matter." (New York Times, April 27)

Barack-star called it a "mistake."

Seriously, this is becoming the Obamateur Hour.

ADDENDUM: In addition to freaking bunches of people out unnecessarily...the photo op of Scare Force One swooping through the Manhattan skyline cost taxpayers more than $328,000.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The identities have been protected

Actual conversation:

Person #1: I'm leaving early tomorrow.

Person #2: Why?

Person #1: Working out.

Person #2: Where?

Person #1: At the gym.

Person #2: How long have you been going to the gym?

Person #1: Since tomorrow.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Tagged by Shoe Addict

8 Things I'm looking forward to:

This weekend
Ribfest IV in July
Going to Hawaii in September
Getting to know our new espresso maker better
The next episode of "In Treatment"
Dinner tonight at El Scorcho
Sleeping late tomorrow morning

8 Things I did yesterday:

Knitted {pair of striped socks for some lucky family member}
Watched two episodes of Prison Break on TIVO
Went to Trader Joe's
Ate lunch at my desk
Talked to an old friend through Facebook
Won a zebra print dress on EBay
Read some of Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow

8 Things I wish I could do:

Go on a yoga retreat
Lay on a sandy and sunny beach
Talk to my dad
Work 3 days a week instead of 5
Volunteer more
Travel, travel, travel
Work in a library

8 TV Shows I watch:

In Treatment
American Idol
Hell's Kitchen
The Iron Chef
Neil Cavuto
Morning Joe

8 People I tag:

The problem with Barack-star setting a precedent

President Palin's Quandary: To Prosecute Or Not
By Matt Lewis
Apr 23rd 2009 4:30PM

There has been a lot of debate on the potential prosecution of Bush Administration officials who offered legal opinions supporting waterboarding -- with some even calling for investigations of high-ranking officials like Dick Cheney. However, one thing that hasn't been given the attention it deserves is the precedent it would set if we were to criminalize national security decisions. Hence, I've finally decided to test out the time machine I've been building in my basement – and you would be surprised what sort of things grew out of the current debacle.

For instance, the following Associated Press story was filed on April 23, 2013, and if it sounds Orwellian, well, it is:


WASHINGTON – The Justice Department announced today that charges could be filed against numerous Obama Administration officials as a result of last year's terror attack in Los Angeles. In announcing the indictments, Attorney General John Cornyn said that top officials showed "gross and purposeful negligence" by releasing perpetrators of the attacks from the Guantanamo Bay prison camp and demanding that interrogation tactics be softened against chief planner Mehmet al-Meshugeneh, who had already revealed that a major attack was being planned against a major U.S. sporting event.

"By purposefully disregarding crucial intelligence, and in releasing known participants in the plot into Saudi custody, numerous government officials took action which made the Staples Center bombing possible," Cornyn said. He went on to note that, "numerous individuals in the Departments of Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security knowingly pursued policies which would endanger the lives of Americans. They placed their political priorities above the safety of the citizens of this country, and thousands of innocent people died as a result. These people must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

At the White House, Press Secretary Adam Brickley said that President Sarah Palin stands firmly behind the decision. "It's not as if we relish the thought of prosecuting members of the previous administration," Brickley said, "but, at this point, there is a clearly established precedent – set in place by the Obama Administration themselves – which says that government officials must be held accountable if they contributed in any way to major breaches of the law. In this case, the individuals under investigation do appear to have purposefully allowed these terrorists to continue their actions – prioritizing international public opinion over the lives of the American people. So, while this may be a politically charged issue, there is a real need to prosecute."

Ironically, it appears that the highest ranking official who could face prosecution is former Attorney General Eric Holder, who personally dropped the state's case against Mr. al-Meshugeneh after declaring his capture in Afghanistan illegal. Al-Meshugeneh later admitted that, at the time of his release, he had already told the government of his role in planning the attack which killed almost 10,000 people, including the entire Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks basketball squads. Holder was also the primary force in prosecuting Bush Administration officials who issued legal opinions supporting waterboarding and other harsh interrogation tactics. As such, it appears that he actually set the precedent under which he may now be prosecuted himself.

Public opinion polls show 62 percent of Americans support prosecution of at least some Obama Administration officials.

Reprinted from Political Machine

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

American Idol Results: Disco Inferno Claims Two Bad Singers

I've been depressed all day. The judges wasted their save last week on Matt Mole Giraud--and immediately Simon admitted MM has no chance of winning. I have a feeling the wrong two are going home tonight. Clearly, Little and Anoop are the weakest contestants. Matt rounds out the bottom three. Still I have a feeling my oh-so talented Allison and Kris are headed home. I hope not.

Lil {Little} Rounds: out!!! Yea!!!
Kris Allen: safe Yea, again!!!
Adam Lambert: safe
Danny Gokey: safe
Anoop Desai: safe {bottom 3}
Allison Iraheta: safe {bottom 3}
Matt Giraud: safe

So, my worst nightmare. It's between the talented Allison and the Frat Boy Anoop. At least Kris is safe. Please send the right person home.

Yea, for the third time!!! Anoop is out!!!
My faith in the viewers is restored.

Nothing new under the sun. 39th anniversary of Earth Day.

  • One of the organizers of the first Earth Day was Ira Einhorn who's now serving a life sentence for murdering Holly Maddux. Ira's nickname is "The Unicorn Killer." Arlen Spector was Einhorn's first defense attorney.

  • The first Earth Day was April 22, 1970.

  • There's a rumor that April 22 was chosen because it's the birthday of Vladimir Lenin, the founder of the Soviet Union. Organizers have denied that.

  • The original Earth Day was planned as an "environmental teach-in". Fill-in-the-blank--ins (eg. sit, work, etc.) were popular in the seventies.

  • Earth Day was first planned to create more awareness about overpopulation, not the environment. "Zero Population Growth" was a huge movement during the seventies. Probably why most of us who came of age during that time have 0-2 kids.

  • The New York Times announced plans for the first Earth Day in a long article reporting on the rising hysteria of "global cooling".

  • The first Earth Day event included scheduled opposition to the Vietnam War. Ali McGraw and Paul Newman attended the protests in NYC.

  • Earth Day has its own flag:

  • Earth Shoes originated the same year as the first Earth Day. Marketers saw the crowds in NYC and decided to rename their product from "Anne Kals Minus Heel Shoes" to Earth Shoes.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

American Idol 2009: Feed A Cold, Starve a Disco Fever Top 7 Performances

It's disco night, which typically means the inevitable undoing of some contestant. Remember Blake Lewis trying to beat box his way through the BeeGees' classic "You Should Be Dancing"? How about Jasmine Trias and her version of "Everlasting Love"? No. Well, you're lucky.

Two kids are going home tomorrow night. My predictions?

Anoop hasn't delivered a good performance of an upbeat song yet, plus he's established residency in the bottom 3 circle week after week, so I think he definitely has a target on his back.

You'd think that Little's big, belting voice would make disco night a piece of cake for her. But we've been saying that for weeks. I'm starting to wonder if she ever did have a big, belting voice. Plus, she always chooses diva songs. Let's hope she doesn't go for the obvious {Donna Summer} and surprises us by surprising us. Capiche?

Adam and Allison will do great.

Matt will be boring.

Kris, hmmmmmmm...could be trouble.

Danny doesn't even have to sing and people will vote for him.

Personally, I'm finished with Anoop and Little. Please, folks. It's time for them to go home.

On with the show.

{Current power rankings are in parenthesis after the contestant's name}

Lil "Little" Rounds (7) "I'm Every Woman" Little was all over the place. Screechy, yelling, as Randy put it...wild. She didn't do Donna Summer, but she did do Chaka Khan. Go home.

Kris Allen (4) "She Works Hard For the Money" A little whiny, but I give him props for doing a Donna Summers in an interesting, fresh way. Sounded like Santana (hey, Paula agreed with me! Don't know if that's a good thing...) Kris keeps growing on me. He could sneak into the final 3 and I wouldn't be mad.

Danny Gokey (3)"September" Brilliant choice of songs. Fit his voice perfectly. Nothing special or different, but a solid performance. He'd have to go mute and fall off the stage to be voted off the competition at this point.

Allison Iraheta (2) "Hot Stuff" This gal is so original and sure of herself. I'd love to have a CD with her songs. I'm always afraid that voting block of youngsters won't appreciate someone like Allison. Oh well. She was awesome and will definitely have a big career.

Adam Lambert (1)"If I Can't Have You." Adam looks like a creepy wedding singer. I think this arrangement really stretched the limits, but I appreciate his vocals. Not for me, but Paula is standing up so it must have been good. Definitely in the finals.

Matt Giraud (5)"Stayin' Alive". I like Matt better with the mole covered, but I really couldn't stand this over-the-top peformance.

Anoop Desai (6) “Dim All the Lights” by Donna Summer Anoop's got the judges' pick spot, so he must have a pretty good performance. Hate the mustache. HATE IT! Also hated his performance. I didn't even understand the song choice or the arrangement. Finally, who's dressing this ice cream vendor? Yep. Simon agreed with me.

Bottom 3:
Little Rounds
Matt Giraud
Anoop Desai

Top 3:
Allison Iraheta
Adam Lambert
Kris Allen

Going home: Anoop Desai

"A billion here, a billion there—sooner or later it adds up to real money." Senator Everett Dirksen

Deep pockets Barack-star told his Cabinet he's giving them 90 days to come up with ideas on how to cut $100 million dollars from the proposed budget. That sounds good until you realize that's like asking a family that spends $60,000 in a year to save $6. {hat tip}.

Budget cuts are good. Savings are good.

But, according to the same article on `borrowing costs for February's stimulus package will on average cost almost $100 million a day over the next decade.'

Not exactly change I can believe in.

New Jesus sighting!

Another person has found Jesus...this time's he's on a guitar wearing a spacesuit.
The guitar maker says his Jesus guitar is NOT for sale.

Related posts Where are you looking?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Our trip to Chi-town


Caught the Megabus at 8:30am at Union Station in St. Louis. Audrey was on the phone with the office and e-mailing them a lot, Rick slept and read and worked, John played on his computer, I knitted, read, etc. Very relaxing and enjoyable. We were in Chicago before 2:00pm

We went to dinner at Smith and Wollensky's. A homeless guy walked us to the restaurant. His name is Dennis. He asked us to pray for him to get hired as a Night Security Guard at the Hilton. I think he's supposed to hear about the job Friday.


Audrey and I went to the magnificent Tribune Tower for a tour and to meet some people we work with.

We had lunch with a few of the folks at the `World Famous Billy Goat Tavern at Grill." Cheezeborger, cheezeborger, cheezeborger, Coke, no Pepsi.

Later Audrey and I scored a couple of pairs of shoes and a purse on sale on Michigan Avenue. John went more upscale and bought an Espresso machine at Bloomingdale's.

After a massage at the hotel and a swim in the Intercontinental Hotel's pool....we had dinner at Adobo. A server made fresh guacamole at our table...Audrey, Rick and John had the Arrachera Adobada: Grilled flank steak in chile morita quemado Adobo, frijoles puercos, grilled tomatoes & onions. I had the Carne Asada: Adobo marinated grilled Flat Iron steak, potatoes with chorizo,creamy ancho salsa.

We caught the Blues game at the ESPN Zone with some other St. Louisans. Sorry they lost, but it was fun.


As if we hadn't had enough food already, we had a yummy breakfast at the West Egg Cafe in Chicago. Then Audrey and I ran--literally--through the 3 level Forever 21 store. In 15 minutes (we were on a tight schedule) we spent about $80 between us on cute accessories.

We took a cab to the Chicago History Museum and went on a tour purported to highlight peoples and places from "The Devil in the White City" bestseller. The tour guide `Al' looked just like Jerry Lewis when he had that lung disease and he got really fat because he was taking steroids. Here's a picture of Al.

Most of the people in Chicago dress really stylishly. This lady was an exception. Audrey called her Pippi.

How was the tour you ask? Uh, not that good. Al only wanted to talk about the 1893 Chicago World's Fair (the White City part of the book). We were mainly interested in the Devil part of the book...a serial killer run amok. Al gave us interesting tidbits like `Chicago became known as the The Windy City because the men who presented the plan for the World's Fair to Congress were long-winded.' Oh well.

Our final dinner was a place Rick chose called "Kuma's Corner." The BEST hamburger I've had in a l-o-n-g time. The wait was long, but the staff and clientele are fun to watch so it's all good. We were the only ones there who didn't have prominent tattoos and piercings.

We came home on the Megabus. It rained nearly the whole way. Perfect sleeping weather. We got back to the Loo just in time to head downtown for The Blues game.

We had a great time and can't wait to make another fun excursion with Audrey and Rick.

American Idol 2009 Top 7 Power Rankings

The judges saved Matt from being voted off the show by the viewers. Clearly, Matt is a better musician/singer than either Anoop or Little but he's personality-challenged. And, he has an unfortunate mole in the middle of his forehead that should have been removed years ago. Kris Allen has risen steadily in the rankings, but Danny has a big and loyal fan base that may be impossible for him to overtake this late in the competition. This week two contestants go. I'm hope Anoop and Little get the boot.

1. Adam Lambert
2. Allison Iraheta
3. Danny Gokey
4. Kris Allen
5. Matt Giraud
6. Anoop Desai
7. Lil Rounds

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

American Idol 2009: Top 7 results...America votes and decides Matt is too boring to be the next American Idol

Miley Cyrus and Jennifer Hudson! Big night.

Allison Iraheta: safe
Adam Lambert: safe
Anoop Desai: safe {bottom 3...why doesn't he just be quiet?}
Kris Allen: safe
Danny Gokey: safe
Lil {Little} Rounds: safe {bottom 3}

Matt Giraud: out no wait!!! Safe! The Judges have used their save for Matt. Next week two go home. Stay tuned.

P.S. Go Blues!

Tea parties brewing revolution

Thousands and thousands of protestors from New York to California took to the streets today to protest outrageous taxation and a government budget that leaves a growing debt to our children and children's children.

So where does this Bozo get off dismissing the Tea Parties and saying `it's an idea that hasn't really caught on.'

Huh? What planet is MSNBC's Chuck Todd living on?

There are over 500 planned events across the country! I'd bet there are more Tea Party participants than any Earth Day event ever drew.


Why shouldn't hard-working people be sick to death of a government that bails out banks, and deadbeat homeowners...but raises every tax they can on the rest of us? Why shouldn't hard-working folks be outraged by a government that goes deeper and deeper into the red as it says `yes' to every government-run social program it can think of. And, why shouldn't hard-working men and women of all ages and incomes band together to cry foul when their government leaders don't listen, don't even bother to read spending bills that commit billions and billions of dollars for decades to come and refuse to look further down the road than the next election all this stimulus money can buy?

Go ahead Chuckles. Keep your head in the sand. But remember, this is the way all revolutions started.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

American Idol 2009 Top 7 performances: Hooray For Hollywood

The theme tonight is `music from the movies'. Quentin Tarantino is a guest mentor. Now before you all go crying foul and saying `what does the director of Kill Bill and Pulp Fiction know about singing?'

Well, way back in 2004's season 3 here's what Quentin had to say to Diana DeGarmo after her performance:

So Quentin may be weird, but his critiques are at least as substantive as Paula's. I read that he's a huge American Idol fan, and asked the producers if he could come back.

I think Anoop and Little are really on the hot seat tonight. They just haven't been very good the last few weeks...certainly not the same caliber of the rest of the contestants. It's time for them to pack their bags.

{Current power rankings are in parenthesis after the contestant's name}

Allison Iraheta (2) Singing Aerosmith's "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing." I'm a huge Allison fan, but I didn't think she got into the song until 2/3 of the way through. First 2/3 I give her a B-. Last 1/3 I give her an A. The judges loved her, called her authentic. Too bad she had to go first.

Anoop Desai (7) Quentin gave Anoop great advice when he told him to `rough it up' when he sang "Everything I Do." That little bit of drama made this the Anoop's best performance yet. I still want him to go home though. And I'm probably putting him in my bottom 3. Sorry. Oh yeah, I also really really hate the faux blazer, leather jacket thing he was wearing.

Adam Lambert (1) "Born To Be Wild"...that's the song, not Adam. I pretty much love his vocals, but could have done without the dancing, grimacing, jumping, etc. I'd never buy an Adam Lambert CD, but I appreciate him. I'm also really sick of everyone thinking it's a foregone conclusion he's winning this year's winner.

Matt Giraud (4) "To Really Love A Woman". I'm hoping Matt doesn't drive down Boring Avenue tonight. Interesting song styling. Randy said he missed a lot of the notes, but I'm not sure it makes much difference. He's still one of my favorites. BTW, awesome at the piano.

Danny Gokey (3)Yucky Lionel Richie "My Love." I l-o-a-t-h-e this song. Talking about missing notes. This was an abomination until the full orchestra joined the harp to drown Danny out. If Matt didn't drive us to Boring Avenue, we're there now with Danny. Don't believe anything Paula said about it being magical. It wasn't. It was horrible.

Kris Allen (5) Kris sings "Falling Slowly." Quentin really liked him in the mentor session. As for me, I'm still firmly parked on Boring Avenue for a second performance in a row. I've never even heard this song before. It was interminable. I don't think Kris did himself any favors.

Lil "Little" Rounds (6) Little gets the judges' choice spot tonight. They're really hoping she finally vindicates their early and constant praise. Does it seem like someone sings "The Rose" every year? Maybe not. Weak performance. Off key. All over the real notes, but never quite there.

Bottom 3:
Anoop Desai
Little Rounds
Danny Gokey

Top 3:
Allison Iraheta
Adam Lambert
Kris Allen...reluctantly

Going home: Anoop Desai

Not dead, not even napping

Time Cover 1966

Newsweek Cover 2009

For 43 years the news media has been decrying the demise of our Creator.

Psalm 119 says:
"Your word, O Lord, is eternal;
It stands firm in the heavens.
Your faithfulness continues through all generations;
you established the earth, and it endures."

Isaiah 40 reminds us:
"Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom."

Monday, April 13, 2009

Book Report: A Hitchiker's Guide To The Galaxy

"Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-eight million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea."

And so begins Douglas Adams', A Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

This is a masterpiece of science fiction that's laugh-out-loud funny.

Earthling Arthur Dent is about to see his home bulldozed when he's sort of rescued by Ford Prefect {a character `not descended from the primates'} and snatched from the Earth right before it's destroyed to make room for an intergalactic superhighway.

Ford is a researcher for a publication called the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Together, Arthur and Ford have plenty of Monty Pythonesque adventures as they jump onto the spaceship named The Heart of Gold and travel throughout space.

The characters in the book are completely unique...a depressed robot, a supercomputer named Deep Thought, and Zaphod Bebblebrox, the two-headed president of the galaxy, among them. Deep Thought has been designed to answer the question to the meaning of life. You'll get that in the second half of the book.

Huge fun for those of you {us} with a twisted sense of humor.

3 1/2 stars.

P.S. This is the first book in a five-book trilogy.

Friday, April 10, 2009

It's a beautiful day in the neighbood

Barack-star and Hillary enjoying a pleasant afternoon at Sasha's & Malia's playground

Might have been a better use of their time to rescue that poor American ship captain being held by Somali pirates.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Book Report: A Farewell To Arms

"In the late summer of that year we lived in a house in a village that looked across the river and the plain to the mountains."

And, so begins one of the best books I've ever read. Hopefully, you won't wait until you're as old as me to delve into Ernest Hemingway's A Farewell To Arms.

Written in Hemingway's unique, succinct style, A Farewell To Arms is one of those books that gets under your skin and stays with you for days after you've read the final line. If you're looking for a feel good, happy tale--skip this one. In fact, better skip Papa Hemingway altogether. But, if you're looking for an unvarnished, raw story as complicated as life itself...something to enlighten, inform, and challenge your assumptions...jump in feet first.

At its heart, A Farewell To Arms is a love story. But, it's also a tome on war--the price, the caualties, the comradery, the chaos, and the mundane meaningless of the day-to-day grind. Interestingly, it's also semi-autobiographical. Hemingway drove ambulances for the Red Cross on the Italian front during WWI. Just like the protagonist, Ernest was injured in battle {when he was barely 20-years-old} and fell in love with his nurse while recuperating.

Hemingway's style was a huge departure from the Victorian novelists who were popular when he first began his career. He's considered one of the first `modernists', departing from flowery, overly descriptive style to one that's more skeletal.

Here's a suggestion. If you read a lot of bestsellers or modern day fiction, return every now and then to a classic. I promise you'll appreciate great writing when you run across it.

American Idol Top 7 Power Rankings

Adam has his manicured fist firmly clenched on the first-place slot. Second and third place are switching week-to-week between Allison, Danny, Matt, and Kris--and at this point in the competition are anybody's bet. The bloom is off Little and Anoop.

1. Adam Lambert
2. Allison Iraheta
3. Danny Gokey
4. Matt Giraud
5. Kris Allen
6. Lil Rounds
7. Anoop Desai

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

American Idol: Top 8 Results: Piano guy Scott McIntyre led off the stage

Coolest thing so far this season was Frankie Avalon singing "Venus" to Simon tonight {the song was released the year Simon was born--1959}.

Adam Lambert: safe
Kris Allen: safe
Danny Gokey: safe
Anoop Desai: safe {bottom 3}
Matt Giraud: safe
Allison Iraheta: safe
Lil {Little} Rounds: safe {bottom 3}

Scott McIntyre: out

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

American Idol Top 8 Performances: That was the year that was

The theme tonight is guaranteed to make me feel ancient. The kids are singing songs from the years they were born...which from my calculations would range from about 1980 through 1993. Unfortunately, with the exception of say Queen, Bon Jovi, and a couple of Madonna tunes, music from the 80s and early 90s wasn't very good. Raise your hand if you remember all that awful Lionel Richie drek {eg. All Night Long, Hello, etc.}.

Anoop and Scott better hope their birth years delivered some dynamite songs. They need stellar performances to stay in the competition. And--please, let's hear some of that "big voice" the judges are always telling us Little has.

Vegas has Adam taking home the AI crown this year. I'm not convinced yet. I think he may be too polarizing to win...kind of like Hillary Clinton.

We're treated to baby pics of the four judges and Ryan. Very cute.

Danny Gokey (2)Danny's the oldest contestant, born in 1980...he's going first and singing "Stand By Me." I'm not a huge fan of this slow version, until he gets into the chorus. Even then it's a little boring for my taste. Very jazzy, though. The judges seem to have said (I'm translating): terrible arrangement, good vocals.

Kris Allen (3)Kris "crooked mouth" Allen (b. 1985) has come on strong the last couple of weeks. A solid performance tonight will keep him at the top of the pack. He's singing "All She Wants To Do Is Dance." Again, I don't like the arrangement. Whoa, the mosh pit is back. Not so good on the vocals. Overall, a really weak performance by one of my favorites. Oh well.

Lil "Little" Rounds (6) Little was born in 1985. I like her straight hair. Little's singing some Tina Turner, "What's Love Got To Do With It." She comes out dancing in a short skirt she shouldn't be wearing. This is probably Little's best performance, but a lot of it was just shouting. The rest of it sounded like a Tina wannabe. BTW, I completely disagree with the judges saying Little looked hot. The rear view of this outfit was ghastly.

Anoop Desai (7) Anoop's all apologetic for being a jerk to Kara last week. He's wearing a lime green and white striped sweater that makes him look like an ice cream vendor. Anoop (b 1986) unfortunately decides to sing Cyndi Lauper's "True Colors." I always know it's a mediocre performance when it leaves me wanting to hear the original version. In the high parts Anoop gets very whiny. I'm rather unimpressed tonight. I told you 80s music was blech. Randy liked his control. Kara liked his control. Paula liked his satin voice. Simon called him a singing yo-yo. I want him to go home, but his above average performance tonight will limp him along to torture us another week.

Scott McIntyre (8)Please, please, please, don't sit behind and sing to us, Scott. Scott was a chubby little boy born in 1985, who wanted to be a train engineer. Okay, use your imagination. Well, hooray, he's not playing piano. He's playing guitar. Blah. What is he looking at? What is he singing? Bad squeaky vocals. Boring song. Scott's going home this week.

Allison Iraheta (4) The baby of the bunch--born in 1992. She's a doll. Singing Bonnie Raitt's "I Can't Make You Love Me." Spot on vocals. Hate the outfit. My favorite performance of the night so far.

Matt Giraud (5) We see the cutest video of Matt (b. 1985) as a little angel in a school play. Singing Stevie's "Part Time Lover." I give Matt props for not doing it like the Stevie Wonder version. I thought it was very cool and contemporary. Loved it. Matt definitely redeemed himself from last week's debacle.

Adam Lambert (1) (B. 1982) Is he sitting on a giant ice cube? What is that thing? He sings "Mad World." Adam's reminding me more and more of Freddie Mercury. He missed the last note, but it was another fearless performance. Simon gives him the first standing ovation during the non-finals-- ever.

Bottom 3:
Anoop Desai
Scott McIntyre
Little Rounds

Top 3:
Allison Iraheta
Matt Giraud
Adam Lambert

Going home: Scott McIntyre