Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Sense of Accomplishment

When my husband was first laid off, people offered their condolences and their advice: "You'll need to cut back and unfortunately the cleaning lady will be the first to go." Looking back, I'm glad I didn't fire her. She's been a part of our family for as long as I can remember and she does an exceptional job. I'm afraid my kids and my husband would have sorely missed her. Truth be told, I am not only a trophy wife, I am the cleaning lady.

(The second thing I was advised to slash from the household budget was the yard man. Again, that would have been difficult as the yard man is also the father of my children. And for the record, that man can cultivate a lawn like nobody's business.)

But back to the cleaning lady thing....I must admit, my house is usually pretty tidy as I abhor clutter. But today you can literally eat off of the floors. In fact, I may serve the next meal right on the hardwoods. (note to self: do not make soup for dinner). I spent the entire day dusting, scrubbing toilets, vacuuming up dust bunnies (the one under my bed was the size of a small child) and cleaning the tile floor in my downstairs bathroom with a toothbrush. I changed the sheets on 3 beds, I did 4 loads of laundry, I put together the makings of an exquisite shrimp dinner AND I prepared chocolate covered strawberries for dessert.

I tell you this not because I am looking for kudos, but because I delight in my sense of accomplishment.

As pathetic as it sounds, I don't always get to experience that feeling. My kids are at the age where I no longer help them achieve milestones. My daughter has been potty trained for 10 years, my son mastered his r's, both kids can tie their own shoes and they look both ways before crossing the street. The only thing I can really help them with these days is their homework, and who am I kidding...I have great difficulty with my son's 3rd grade math....and he knows it...and so very rarely asks for help. Needless to say, when I feel a sense of accomplishment, I relish in it.

The beauty of cleaning my house is that it's instant gratification. One minute there is an orange ring around the toilet bowl, the next it is gone. Ahhh, it's the simple things. My desire to feel that sense of accomplishment is the reason I've been thinking about rejoining the workforce. (And yes, I realize that my timing is impeccable.) I've been thinking about going back to work since my son was in 1st grade; he's now in's time. I'm not looking to become a CEO, I just want a part time gig that gives me a sense of accomplishment and brings in a little spending money. And who knows, maybe if I make enough money, I can outsource the cleaning. (bite your tongue - that will
never happen)

I blogged about my desire to go back to work in today's online Charlotte Observer. Click
here to read it.

And...I'm very happy to report that I have accepted a part part part
part time gig with a very talented speaker/author/consultant. He's not famous, yet, but when I get done promoting his services he will be. You'll want to book him for your next speaking engagement. But you'll have to go through me to do so...and I can just imagine the sense of accomplishment that it will bring me when I help grow his business. And I bet it beats the feeling of satisfaction that comes with vacuuming up a killer dust bunny.

Wish me luck....

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Top 36: Take Two

I thought that the show ran a bit smoother tonight; glad to see that they did away with the family interview up in the loft. I did a lot less cringing with embarrassment as a result.

First up: Jasmine Murray. And I had high hopes for Jasmine Murray, but those hopes were squelched tonight.

Despite what the judges say, I didn't mind Matt Giraud's Viva La Vita. He was no Chris Martin, but he made it his own. And then he lost me when he got all mouthy with Simon as he tried to defend his song choice. "That's the kind of song I want to sing." Apparently Matt is 20 going on 12 and so Simon suggests that he zip it. I concur. You blew it, Matt.

Jeannie Vailes? Wow. The bad news is...her Idol career is over before it started. The good news is...she burned a good 700 calories during that performance. Not that she needs to burn even one calorie with those legs of hers. Waaaay too much going on up there, girlfriend. I felt like she was singing, dancing, and playing Charades all at the same time.

Nick Mitchell. I cannot stand this guy. Seriously, is he mentally challenged? I think he might be so I won't say anything mean about him. So. Not. Funny.

Next up...Allison Iahetta (or something like that). She's 16 and kind of looks like a bad version of Kelly Clarkson. Actually, a bad version of Kelly Clarkson/Miss Piggy. She is in dire need of a makeover and I don't know whether to start with the hair or the eyelashes or the dress. But she's got a great voice and gave a rrrreally good performance...but...I just don't like her. In fact, I dislike her. Simon said she needs to get a personality, but the fact of the matter is...she's got one...I just don't like it. She's probably a typical teenager riddled with angst and bored out of her mind. Yeah, I'm so not interested. But I think America will be and she'll get the nod.

Kris Allen is cute. He's very cute. He's adorably cute. Was that a Member's Only jacket he was wearing? I liked his version of Man in the Mirror, but he's another one with a personality issue. Or lack thereof. Very vanilla.

I don't know about Megan Joy Corkscrew-dancer, either. She is beautiful and I think she's got a nice voice, but her little jiggy-wiggly-shimmy thing was annoying the bejesus out of me. But I believe she will be a top vote getter. Does she go by Megan? Or Megan Joy? She's a quirky one, for sure. (And her brother looks like Philip Seymour Hoffman - hat and all.)

Matt the Welder. Matt, Matt, Matt. Matt the Welder, with his very sweaty-head, was never one of my faves and tonight sealed the deal. Challenging Simon is the kiss of death and Matt will soon learn that lesson. Shame he didn't learn it before his performance - not that he would have picked a new song, mind you - he loves that song. Well have fun singing it into your welding mask, my friend.

It's Jesse Langseth's turn to take the stage.... I'm sorry, when did Season 8 become Single Mother Season? Kara says she's slinky and sexy, but she reminds me of a cat. And cats scare me.

Kai Kalama: Blah, blah, blah.

Mishovanna Henson: Blah, blah, blah.

And last, but certainly not least...Adam Lambert. I love him. I really do. I agree with Simon; he's a bit of a train wreck. But I can't look away....he rocks a crowd and I think we'll be seeing more of him.

So...who will America vote for? I say Allison, Adam and I guess Megan Joy. Unless the Vote for the Worst groupies are out in full force....then I'm afraid that freakazoid Nick will be back. Let's hope not.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Screw the Media, I'm Going With a Positive Spin....

It seems everyone is going through challenging times these days and there is not a lot of good news out there. Never mind that the Dow Jones Industrial Average broke to a new six-year low last week, researchers say that even sharks are feeling the economy’s bite as fewer people can afford beach vacations. 

I’m sick of bad news; it is paralyzing. Since I took my head out of the sand in early January, it’s been a constant struggle to remain positive, but it’s a struggle I will not abandon. Every day I choose to concentrate on things that I can control like my thoughts and my attitude and my response to our employment situation (or lack thereof) and not on things that I have no control over whatsoever (like the Nikkei Index). 

There are millions of people out of work and millions more worried about becoming the next statistic; would it kill the media to throw them a bone and report some good news every now and again? If they won’t, I will: my husband has been out of work since November and has already been on several interviews. Yes, the job market is competitive, but I refuse to believe that he will not be gainfully employed in the near future. He will. 

Of course, I am experiencing stress and anxiety as a result of the layoff, but I am choosing to confront it with humor and a positive attitude. That may lead some people to believe that I am not going through a difficult enough time, but I am a firm believer that laughter is the best medicine. Just like negative energy, positive energy can be contagious and I hope mine is as contagious as the common cold. 

The greater purpose of humor, especially during tough times, is to uplift and take us out of ourselves and our cares, if only temporarily. Being able to do that is no trivial pursuit, but I believe if you put laughter and positive energy in your life, you will reap the dividends. I’m not talking about the kind of dividends that are controlled by the stock market, I’m talking about the kind of dividends that are controlled by you. 

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Academy Awards: The Day After

So I dreamed about India all night. Those Slumdog millionaires were a very deserving lot. Very gracious and humble and I am glad they brought home so many prizes. I could have done without the Indian singers and dancers, but since the Academy overlooked Bruce Springsteen this year, truth be told, I wasn't going to get excited about anybody's song. 

Ok, so what do I remember of the extravaganza? I remember that there wasn't much star power at this year's Oscars. Those of you who are frequent readers of this blog know how I feel about Jack Nicholson and Cameron Diaz, but at around 11:00 pm, I found myself missing them and that assclown Renee Zelwegger. How about George Clooney; it would have killed the Academy to invite him to present an award?

It started out on a high note with Hugh Jackman. Loved his musical interpretation of the movies. Sure, it was a little more Broadway than Hollywood, and yes it was tremendously awkward watching him sit on Frank Langella's lap afterwards, but he's cute and charming even if I can't look at him without seeing a wolverine, it was still enjoyable. 

The producers changed up the format this year and I couldn't have been more pleased when not one, but five actresses introduced the Best Supporting Actress nominees. Viola Davis was the first to be feted and Viola was clearly verklempt. I thought it was moving and heartfelt and I loved that Penelope Cruz got the nod. While I did not see her performance, on a very shallow note I will say that hers was my absolute favorite dress of the evening. Simply stunning. 

Then the comedy dream team of Tina Fey and Steve Martin took the big stage and I thought to myself, "This is going to be a great show..." Wrong. 

Jennifer Aniston and Jack Black were up next. They had a tough act to follow. And when the cameras panned to Brangelina while Anniston was speaking, it was clear that somebody at ABC thought the nod to the Jennifer vs. Angelina thing would be a boost to ratings. Note to ABC: So. Five. Minutes ago. 

I will not comment on animation, because I hate animation. But I will comment on the fact that Meryl Streel and her daughter were sitting on top of one another throughout the whole show. Literally joined at the shoulders. Bizarre. I know Meryl is fabulous, believe me, I've heard it a million times. I agree, she is a tremendous actor, but she is so taken with herself, there is no reason for me to be taken with her. 

You would have thought by allowing the same actors to present several awards instead of just one, it would have saved time; but the show was still about 2 hours too long. And so when Jennifer Aniston and Jack Black presented yet another animation award - this time for a short film - I started to nod off. I don't know the name of the film or the gentleman who won, nor will I ever see the short animated film....but I loved his acceptance speech. "Sank you, sank you, sank you, domo arigato, Mr. Roboto."

In fact, let's talk about acceptance speeches for a minute. There was not a single good one the whole night. Something tells me that there are a lot of unemployed writers who would have gladly come up with a little ditty for one of the stars. Hell, I bet they would have foregone cash for a mere shout out. Hollywood seems like such a tight knit group of freaks; do you mean to tell me that the guy who is up for Art Direction doesn't have a single writer friend he can call on to help him write a few words? 

Sarah Jessica Parker and Daniel Craig presented the next several awards (that meant absolutely nothing to me). Sarah oozed out of her dress and I could barely keep my eyes open. 

I read that the producers were trying to appeal to a younger TV audience this year. I guess that explains why the vampire from Twilight and the weird looking chick from Mama Mia introduced the romance pictures of 2008. For this old fart, it was a complete waste of time. 

I thought Ben Stiller's Joaquin Phoenix bit was ridiculous. It was one thing to impersonate the dude, but another to roam the stage while Natalie Portman was introducing the nominees for Cinematographer. Rude. And unfunny. But what about the dude from Slumdog who won? He mentioned that he wanted to thank a thousand people, but he just couldn't do it (thank you very much) but clearly his hairstylist would not have been on said list. And were those Crocs he was wearing? Hmm. 

I enjoyed Seth Rogen and James Franco's Pineapple Express-eque tribute to 2008's comedy films but could have done without Hugh Jackman ode to musicals. The wolverine was joined by Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, the weird looking chick from Mama Mia and...Beyonce. Rrreally? Necessary? Does Beyonce have to be at every single event these days? Don't get me wrong, I love me some Beyonce, but I just think she is a little overdone right now. Surely Anne Hathaway could have pulled that number off? And again, I realize that the producers were trying to attract a younger set (at the expense of losing the older set, I guess), but Zac and Vanessa? Rrreally? Disney Awards, yes, but the Academey Awards? I think not. 

Then Heath Ledger wins Best Supporting Actor. One word: duh. 

I swear, I'm starting to nod off again just writing about the show. 

I thought Bill Maher would save me, but his shameless plugs for his own documentary and his plastic looking suit did nothing to revive me last night. I suppose the guy who walks on tight ropes and balances Oscars on his chin is worth mentioning, I guess. 

Here's a question for you: who amongst us can tell the difference between sound editing and sound mixing? Because there are two separate awards, folks. And couldn't they have just given the Foreign Film award to Slumdog, too? It might have saved some time. 

Ok - so let's get to the real awards...

Kate Winslet wins for Best Actress. There's a shocker, huh? And as she makes her way to the stage I am saying out loud, "Please god, make it short and sweet, please DO NOT thank everybody and your mother." And then she gives her father a shout out. While gasping for air. Yes, one again, she' going on. For the love of god, catch your breath and make your damn speech. (I have no use for this woman.) But I am quite pleased that she acknowledges her husband and not her make believe boyfriend Leo this time around. 

And Sean Penn wins for Best Actor. (and for the record, he does not acknowledge his on again, off again spouse). His speech is ok. I was not bowled over. But I am a big fan of Mr. Penn's, and so it matters not what he says in his speech. Although I did love how he acknowledged the fact that he makes it hard for people to appreciate him. 

And the dresses....

Let's start with the worst and work our way up...
  1. Of course Mickey Rourke has to be on this list
  2. As does Philip Seymour Hoffman
  3. Miley Cyrus is hard on the eyes all the time and her dress did not help. Horrible. (and I might add, she thinks she's going to be up for an award next year. Swear. She said that. Wtf?)
  4. I was not a fan of Amy Adams red dress at all. And the necklace was bigger than her. 
  5. Lot of talk about Whoopi wearing a dress. Nobody mentioned that it was Wilma Flinstones' grandmother's dress. 
  6. Angelina Jolie is too cool for school. Hated her green jewels. Too many tattoos.
  7. Marisa Tomei is a wreck. End of story.
  8. I think Reece Witherspoon wore one of her daughter's dress up costumes. Ill-fitting and just plane ugly. 
  9. Sarah Jessica Parker: I am not a fan of the ballet bottom and the oozing boobs on top.
  10. Jessica Biel's dress looked like an origami creation

Best Dressed
  1. Penelope Cruz: stunning
  2. Anne Hathaway: although it would have looked better with a tan.
  3. The entire cast and crew of Slumdog
  4. Taraji Henson looked gorgeous from her coiffed head to her toes. Loved her dress.
  5. Natalie Portman always looks fabulous - loved her pink frock.
I am too bored to write anymore...

Most. Boring. Oscars. Ever.

Oh. My. God. That's 3 1/2 hours I'll never get back. 

My plan was to blog about the Oscars before going to bed. But it's after midnight and I just dragged myself off of the couch having nodded off at least 15 times throughout the evening.

I'll attempt to blog in the morning. That is, if I remember any details of the most boring night of television....

Off to get some much earned sleep. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Numbers 1,2 and 3

They sang for America and the nation spoke. Well, some of the nation, anyway: 24 million votes, up 10 million from last year at this time. So the 20 or so people who weren't watching were busy posting nasty comments about Idol on my Observer blog. Their loss. 

How could I have forgotten about Group Sing? After 8 seasons you'd think I'd be expecting it, but it threw me for a loop. And I cringed through the whole song. No, that's a lie, I cringed through 2 minutes of the train wreck while holding down the fast forward button. Painful.

I was happy that Alexis made it through; she is very deserving. Now she's got 3 weeks to work on her songs and perhaps a tan.  

I've never been to Disney World. I never had the desire and have managed to brainwash my kids into thinking the same. Now I'm rethinking it. I may drive down to Orlando for spring break. I don't want to sing on the big stage, but I want to play the part of Simon. His chair is calling my name....

Next up: Carly and Michael. I've heard them do that song before. I didn't like it the first time and I didn't like it this time. How about Carly covering up much of her tattoo? It would have killed her to do that last season?

And then Ryan makes half the contestants stand so he can tell them that they are not through and the camera pans to the waiting room where we are greeted by a headshot of some crying bufoon. Who was that idiot? Pull yourself together, man. 

And speaking of pulling yourself together? Holy. Mother. of Pearl. Tatiana? Seriously, I thought she was going to faint. How about her hiding behind Stevie during Danny's song? The whole crew is smiling and swaying and singing along to Danny and Tatiana is having a breakdown behind Stevie! Hilarious. It is all about Tatiana, I'm afraid. She is a head case.

So glad Danny made it. I was not surprised, but I will admit to getting caught up in the drama of nothing is as it appears. I believe the Robert Downey, Jr look-a-like is going to be a favorite of mine this season. 

I would have rather seen Anoop get the nod rather than Michael, but I think Anoop has a good chance of making one of the wild card spots. Unfortunately, I think the judges might consider Tatiana for one of those spots, as well. Only time will tell....

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Top 36: Take One

Is Paula back to her old tricks? I don't know if it was the bloodshot eyes or the orange face or just the fact that she was sitting next to Kara who is radiant and young and smooth (and not high), but Paula did not look her best this evening. Thankfully she had her jewelry to distract us.  

First up, Jackie Tohn who kind of dressed like Minnie Mouse, but Minnie would never wear those sneakers. Or those trousers. I think she is adorable and a great performer, but I don't think America is going to be all over her quirkiness. 

Next was Ricky Braddy. I've never laid eyes on him before but I guess that's because he's been busy selling chicken fingers. Guess what? He's going back to selling chicken fingers. He hails from North Carolina, so I'm sure that tomorrow's Charlotte Observer will mention him even though Elizabeth City is a good 5.5 hours from Charlotte. But the Observer likes to claim the NC Idols as their own. Wait, I probably shouldn't be bashing the I take that back. 

Alexis I-can't-be-away-from-my-baby Grace has definitely listened to the judges constructive criticism. Those listening ears of hers will get her far. She was great this evening despite having really odd looking parents. 

Brent Keith? I didn't recognize him nor will I miss him or that rockin' country song he sang. Bye, bye Keith. 

Ooooh Stevie Wright was just so wrong. She reminded me of Selena Gomez of Disney fame, so maybe she can guest star on one of those Disney shows and then call it a day. 

I like Anoop, but I didn't like his song choice. And I especially didn't like when he tried to justify it. Three words for you, Anoop: We. Don't. Care. Pick a song that sounds good, not one that has special meaning to you. Because...We. Don't. Care. Seriously, why is that such a difficult concept for so many Idols to grasp? He's lucky he's so cute (and his parents get the cutest parent award) because his cuteness may just carry him to the next round. 

Casey Carlson. Ouch. How about Paula calling her out on her weird facial expressions? Um, Paula, that's the pot calling the kettle black, my friend. And if Paula and Kara told her one more time how pretty she was, I was going to scream. Poor Casey, she was genuinely shocked by their responses. She thought she did a bang up job. The Police, Casey? Rrreally?

I'm calling bullshit on Michael Sarver. He claims that it was the perfect song for him because he "doesn't want to be anything other than me". He soooo would give up that oil rigging gig to be the American Idol. In a heartbeat. And then he'd lose the wife. And then the kids. I'm just kidding, Michael's a nice guy. But nice guys finish last. 

Ann Marie Boskosomethingorother was a total disappointment. Word on the street is that The Top 36 was actually chosen back in November. So they had plenty of time to choose a good song for tonight, hell, they should have a nice repertoire...but Natural Woman was the best she could come up with? I hate that she blew it because I liked her. Even if she has a weird crush on Kara and even kind of looks like her. 

Steven Fowler is not worth commenting on. So I will not. 

I am certainly not a fan of Tatiana Del Toro, but I do think the producers had their way with her during Hollywood week. She's a freak show. 

And last, but not least, Danny Gokey was my fave. But I agree with Simon, he did not knock it out of the ballpark by any stretch of the imagination. But I think the church music director and his rendition of Hero will be a force to be reckoned with...

America votes for one woman, one man and then the next highest vote getter....

Female vote: Alexis Grace 
Male vote: Danny Gokey 
Next Highest Vote Getter: either Anoop or Michael Sarver

Tune in tomorrow...


The chupacabra, which is Spanish for "goat sucker", is an animal unknown to science but is rumored to inhabit parts of the Americas, especially Puerto Rico and Mexico. The name comes from the animal's reported habit of attacking and drinking the blood of livestock...especially goats. Physical descriptions of the creature vary, but eyewitnesses have claimed that the chupacabra is the size of a small bear with a row of spines reaching from the neck to the base of the tail. Biologists and wildlife management officials view the chupacabre as legend, but I beg to differ....chupacabra is alive and well and trying desperately to suck the life out of me. 

My second post appeared in today's Charlotte Observer's online edition. And once again a reader who goes by the name "chupacabra" (and I affectionately refer to as Chewbacca) has left an obnoxious comment. And apparently I am not alone, it seems as if Chewie responds to many of the Observer blogs. She or he or it actually thought that today's post was a rewrite of my first post?? Seriously, wtf? Never mind a reading comprehension problem, she clearly is as dumb as a box of rocks as evidenced by the fact that she is having a helluva time grasping the meaning behind the title of my first post. Wow. 

I'm told that the editors at the Observer loved my post today as well as the reader's responses and so are planning on running a slightly abbreviated version - with reader's comments - in tomorrow's (February 17th) printed edition! I'm very excited. I only hope that Chewie doesn't share the space with me...

Thursday, February 12, 2009

I Know How You Feel, Jessica

I'm still reeling from the aftershocks of my Charlotte Observer online debut

Last count, there were 88 comments in response to my post. And while I know that all PR is good PR, I certainly do not have 88 new friends. But I have a new found respect for Jessica Simpson. 

Clearly, many readers did not get my sense of humor. That's putting it mildly. But I think others simply have a reading comprehension problem. How about the folks that called me a whiner? I was not whining. At all. Not this time, anyway. I am not above a good whine; hell, I can whine with the best of 'em. But, I can honestly say this particular post was void of whining. 

Lots and lots of bitterness and anger and resentment out there in my fair city. Apparently confronting my stress and anxiety with humor leads some people to believe that I am not going through a difficult time, nor am I trying hard enough. Hmm. But there were some lovely comments, as well, and I enjoyed reading each and every one of them: the good, the bad and the ugly. I told my editor that the picture that appeared with my blog showed that I indeed have wrinkly skin, but what the photo didn't reveal was the thickness of my skin. Nothing I read upset or concerned me (except for the dude who looked up my tax records and found how much my house is worth. Was worth. I wonder if he's interested in making an offer?)

Anyway, if all goes well, I'll be submitting posts for Charlotte Observer's blog, The Squeeze, on a regular basis. Apparently another one of my posts is due to appear tomorrow, Friday, February 13. Friday the 13th? Hmm. I'm anxious to see if I'll be crucified again...

PS: how about Joanna Pacitti getting the Idol boot? Can you say drama?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Judges Mansion: Final Judgement

The good news is there were chairs in tonight's holding room, the bad news is that is two hours I'll never get back. 

I think I recognize most of the contestants now that we are down to 36. Most, but certainly not all. And yet, I think I've only heard a handful of them sing more than 3 or 4 notes. I still don't know what's in store for us over the next couple of weeks, but I have faith that someday soon we will get down to the top 12 and then the fun can start. 

So who do I remember?

I was glad to see Anoop Desai get the thumbs up, but not so glad to see Von Smith and all his red blotchiness get the nod. How about him dissin' his parents on national TV? I don't care for him. And apparently his parents don't either. 

The new sing-off feature is cruel and unusual punishment, if you ask me. Must they pit friend against friend? Yes, of course they must...this is the mansion, this is final judgement, this calls for the utmost in drama. 

How about them giving Joanna Pacitti, the cry baby, another chance? The one contestant who has already had multiple contracts and label deals...and they give her another chance. When is she going to finally make it, you ask? Simon says, "when somebody gives her a break." Give me a break, she's had more than enough chances! She needs to pull herself together and stop crying. 

How did I miss the married couple? Surely tonight wasn't the first time the producers revealed that story? I must havefast forwarded through it. But tonight hot, sexy married lady was up against Kristin McNamara in a sing-off. Now, it was one thing when Kara commented on Kristin's clothing behind her back, but when Paula told her that, "The way you dress is off-putting," I almost choked. Paula? Commenting on clothing style? Rrreally?

Scott MacIntyre, the visually impaired fella, made it through. First faux-pas: he gets the golden ticket to Hollywood and Ryan tries to high-five him, but he doesn't connect with Ryan, because, well, he can't see him. Second faux-pas: Kara gives him the good news by saying "We'll see you again!" Necessary?

Danny Gokey is my favorite. And I think he'll be around for quite some time. Unfortunately, he's going to have to make a new best friend because Jamar didn't make it. I never thought he was a great singer (a good friend, yes, a good but I think it was those darn facial piercings that did him in. 

I like that crazy girl, Jackie Tohn, with her scratchy voice and her spunky personality. Maybe she can be Danny's new friend?

Tatiana is this season's token ass clown. And is it me, or has she put on some serious weight since auditioning in Puerto Rico? Wasn't she Miss Puerto Rico at some point? Not at this weight, she wasn't. She needs to get her hands on a Spanx, never mind one of Paula's reach for the stars jewelry pieces. 

Love that they made room for both of the blue collar workers. They are both very polite and very sweet. And don't stand a snowball's chance in hell...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

So Sick of Hollywood

I am so confused. I watched this evening's performance thinking we were starting with 72 contestants and ending with 36, but I swear, only a handful of hopefuls were actually cut. I guess tomorrow night the remaining aspirants go before the judges and plead for their Idol lives. For the love of Pete, can we cut to the chase already?

The Top 36 was actually leaked over a week ago, so if you want to spoil the "fun", you can check out the names here. I have not looked because cheaters never prosper. And you'll be missing out on a whole lotta drama if you sneak a peak now, as the producers still have a good solid hour of torture in store for us. 

How many times do you think Ryan Seacrest said, "The contestants are exhausted, anxious and ready to find out if they made it or not..." I'm going with a good solid 8 times. You think maybe the contestants were exhausted because they were put in a room for hours and forced to sit on the floor? 72 contestants and I think I counted maybe 6 chairs in the "Main Holding Room" and zero in the four break-out rooms.

I would have much rather seen an actual performance rather than all the theatrics, but apparently we will not be privy to a complete song until next week. With that's what I remember: 

Adam Lambert (and don't quote me on any of the names as I have not committed anybody to memory) started us out singing Cher's "Believe". He's good, but the nail polish and the rings and the eyeliner kind of wig me out. He reminds me a bit of Adam Ant. 

The BFFs are still going strong although Jamar's version of "Hey There Delilah" was a bit of a stre-e-e-tch. But Danny's "I Hope You Dance" was spot on. 

One thing I'll say about these Season 8 contestants - they definitely make it their own. Good to know that they have been listening to Randy's lectures. Now if they just steer clear of any Whitney, Mariah, or Beyonce songs, we'll be all set. 

Ok, can we talk about the blind guy or is he strictly off limits on account of political correctness? Cause I am not a fan. And it has nothing to do with the fact that he couldn't see Paula give him a standing ovation and everything to do with the fact that Paula will clap for anybody regardless of whether or not they are deserving. I thought he was tempting fate by singing "I'm Going Home", but apparently I was mistaken. 

Tatiana del Toro? Most. Unlikeable. Contestant. Ever. She is history once America starts voting.

Loved Nathaniel's version of "Disturbia". But I would have preferred seeing it without the shots of the backstage drama woven into his performance.

And the last contestant that I'll comment on his Norman Gentle. Really? Rrrreally? I find him void of any entertainment value whatsoever. You mark my words, he'll be this year's "Vote for the Worst" Poster Child. 

And I will not comment on Paula's necklace. No way. No how. 

Friday, February 6, 2009

Happy Anniversary

I have an anniversary coming up...

One year ago, on Tuesday, February 12th, I posted my very first blog entry. It was my fascination with American Idol that inspired me to launch a web log dedicated to the critique of the contestants on this popular television series. My first entry premiered during American Idol's Hollywood week, Season 7. Now, I'd like to say that I've come a long way baby...but in last post was about American Idol's Hollywood week, Season 8. Hmm. Seems I've come full circle. 

But rest assured, throughout the year my blog has evolved into an outlet for me to write about a wide spectrum of topics from my BFF, to Girl Scout Cookies, to Day Camp Immunization Records, to the first day of school. Along the way, I discovered that I much prefer to write about un-Idol-like matters. But, despite my best efforts, I quickly learned (with the help of Statcounter, a web log tracker) that my American Idol posts were the ones that generated the most traffic (not a huge surprise given the popularity of the show). 

So imagine my surprise when I learned that the posts about my husband's layoff and my family's reaction to our new situation received an even greater response than the Idol posts. Seems I hit a nerve with readers when I started blogging about the economy (or lack thereof). I guess it's a bit like a train wreck: it's disastrous and distasteful, yet morbidly fascinating. You don't want to stare, but you can't look away, either. 

So it seems I've found my niche and for the time being, I will continue to blog about the trials and tribulations of unemployment. But, don't expect me to write about how to develop your job marketing strategy or how to brush up on your interview skills. I'll stick with what I know best: how to save money by using the freezer burned chop meat in your fridge, or what you can say to a recently laid off friend to avoid coming down with diarrhea of the mouth (which is often brought on by attempting to dance around the issue.)

I'll continue to blog about American Idol, so long as I continue to watch American Idol. And who knows, maybe next year I'll have a brand new topic to blog about...let's hope so. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Scene 1, Take 2

Group Night = Waste 'o Time Night.

I'm not sure who I dislike the most: Katrina the Bikini Babe, Miss Puerto Rico or the very flamboyant Nathaniel? I guess I don't have to waste any negative energy on Bikini Babe as she is history. Rightfully so. And hopefully the other two clowns will follow her lead (albeit without the swagger). They grate like cheese. 

Because of all the drama and ridiculousness, I never really fully engaged in tonight's show. So I'll be honest with you, most of the contestants are a complete blur to me. There are only a few standouts for me and even then, I don't remember their names or very much about them. I love the two guys (friends before Idol) who performed in White Chocolate. One of them looks a lot like Roberty Downey, Jr and the other is the chocolate part of White Chocolate. They are both good, but I am partial towards Robert Downey. I also like the oil rigger fella: big guy, great voice, seems like Joe Normal (which could bite him in the butt). 

As for the ones who didn't make it through....I'll miss Rose Flack. She's the only contestant who made a big enough impression on me to remember her name. I do hope she gives those feet of hers a nice cleaning when she gets home. In fact, it wouldn't kill her to splurge on a pedicure. And I would have liked to have seen the Osmond boy make it to the next round...but I'm not really sure why? I detest his Aunt Marie, but I guess I've always had a little thing for his Uncle Donnie (come on...what girl growing up in the 70's didn't?). 

From what I can gather, the producers are holding their cards close to their vests...we certainly have not met all of the contestants. Oh, wait...I just thought of another guy that I like...the one with the really dark hair who auditioned in, I believe NYC?? The judges liked him, but told him that he was too theatrical. Him. I like him. 

Ok, clearly I need to take notes next time. I promise I'll remember more when we whittle away at the crowd and are left with a manageable lot of contenders. 

Until next week....

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Hooray for Hollywood!

I thought it would be a lot better once we got to Hollywood, but it really isn't any better. At all. It's just a whole lot more of the same. Today is February 3rd...America doesn't start voting until February 17th. And the Top 12 Finalists perform for the first time on Tuesday, March 10th. March 10th?? That seems like an eternity. 

I can only rant and rave so much before sounding like a broken record. 
So I'm going with bullet points: short and sweet. 

  • Can you say drama? Cause that's the name of the game...drama. Say it.
  • Idol Boot Camp complete with stylists, hairdressers and vocal coaches. Beautiful addition.
  • Barry Manilow: His contribution to Idol Boot Camp was to offer this bit of advice...."make it your own". Really? Rrrreally, Barry? That's the best you can do? Huh. Cause it seems to me that I've heard that one before. Not sure where...
  • If there is any justice in the world, then the sore-loser contestants who storm off the stage shouting obscenities at the judges will be mocked and ridiculed by their friends, colleagues, family and neighbors for the rest of the season. And well into Season 9.
  • Favorite quote of the night: When Simon referred to one of the performances as "indulgent nonsense". Love.
  • Song choice. I cannot believe that it's Season 8 and there are still some who haven't grasped the fact that it's all about song choice. I especially love when pathetic Idol wannabees cry and whine and carry on while defending their song choice because it "meant something" to them. Meant something to them. As in..."it was the song that kept me connected to humanity when I was homeless and living on the streets." Note to contestants: you are no longer singing for YOU, you are singing for an audience. Losers sing for themselves, winners sing for an audience. Do you want to lose or do you want to win? Your choice.
  • Despite the fact that Simon is quick to point out that this is a singing competition...some contestants are chosen for their singing ability, some contestants are chosen for their personality, and some contestants are chosen for their bikini body. End of story. 
That was TWO blog entries in one day. Two. I am going to step away from the keyboard and curl up with a good book....

Where the Unemployed Hang Out

Career experts estimate that the vast majority of job openings are never advertised or publicly announced, instead they are filled through word-of-mouth or networking. As such, my husband is on a mission to broaden his ever-growing list of business network contacts. 

The thought of networking can be overwhelming, scary and intimidating for a lot of people, but my husband has embraced this new mission of his and seems to enjoy every meeting and every single person he adds to his contact list. (Unlike me, he truly enjoys people. I don't get that.)

Several mornings a week he holds court at our neighborhood Starbucks. I call them his Starbucks Encounters and am quick to point out that he could save a little money by inviting his new friends to our house for coffee and a biscotti. I am more than happy to put on my barista apron and serve a cup of joe and a smile. He chuckles at this suggestion, probably because he knows that my coffee will not help him win new friends or influence people. On second thought, it is probably best that he sticks with the tall, skinny lattes at Starbucks. So Starbucks reaps the benefits of his many Starbucks Encounters. And he's not the only one hanging out at Starbucks these days; the place is crawling with the newly unemployed. 

When they are done with their coffee, many of these recently displaced workers head over to the YMCA for a workout and some more bonding and networking. Although membership is down at the Dowd YMCA in Dilworth, I am told that usage is up since November. Now if you told me that usage was up starting in January, I'd attribute that to the New Year's resolution crowd, "the tourists" as we like to call them. But apparently the trend started back in November, so one has to assume that its not the tourists, but the unemployed who are hogging the treadmills, elliptical trainers and invading my space during group exercise classes. 

They flock to the library, as well. It's standing room only in the computer section of my local branch. The computer sign up sheet is now stationed at the check-out desk and is heavily monitored by the librarian. And there is a 30 minute limit: no ifs, ands or buts. 

Could it be that the Johnny-come-latelies at the Y and at the library and even at Starbucks are stalking me? After all, these are my old hangouts, my stomping grounds...I was here first. Hmm. Seems the only way to avoid them is to get a job myself, and believe me, I'm on a mission. I'm taking a sick day today and staying home. Apparently I pushed myself a bit too hard over the past few days and am now feeling a bit crampy and...well...I'll spare you the other symptoms. Suffice it to say, yesterday was 5 weeks since my surgery and perhaps I should have heeded my doctor's warnings and stayed away from the YMCA until I hit the 6 week mark. But what with all the tourists and the New Year's resolution folks out in full force, I had to get back and reclaim my territory. 

But today I am staying put. I've declared it a bathrobe kind of day. I'm going to sit in front of my computer ALL DAY and do some serious writing. My goal is to submit two articles to local magazines today. And believe you me, I am steering clear of the likes of Starbucks, the Y and the library. 

Wish me luck...

PS: I'll try to blog again later about Idol as I think tonight they are in Hollywood!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Groundhog Day

Am I making this up...or is it true that when I was a kid, Groundhog Day was a much bigger deal than it is today? Punxsutawney Phil was like a celeb back in the day. We waited with bated breath each February 2nd to learn our fate: would we have six more weeks of winter or would spring come early...only Phil could tell us for sure. 

But this morning when I woke my kids, I wasn't certain that it really was Groundhog Day. Yes, I knew it was the 2nd day of February, but I wasn't sure if the world's most famous groundhog was due to make an appearance or not. Is it because I live down south now and with temperatures hovering around 61 degrees it matters not if we have another 6 weeks of winter? Perhaps I paid more attention when I was a kid because the winters in New Jersey were brutal and if we could shave off 6 weeks, it was like winning the lottery. Or perhaps the Pittsburgh Steelers' Super Bowl win was the only news making its way out of Pennsylvania this morning. I don't know, I just seem to remember a bit more fanfare and excitement over the annual ritual. 

I'm having a hard time because I can barely remember yesterday, much less the early 70's, but I have a visual of entire bulletin boards at John Y. Dater Elementary School completely devoted to this crazy superstition featuring Phil in all of his glory. As a child, February meant cutting out large black silhouettes of President Washington and President Lincoln's heads. You could also count on at least one Valentines Day art project. But I swear we colored and painted and crafted images of Punxsutawney Phil, as well. And while I'm usually not a betting gal, I recall making wagers with my fellow classmates: would he or would he not see his shadow?

But I checked with my 3rd grade son when he got home from school today and he assured me that there was nary a mention of Groundhog Day. Same goes with my 6th grader: nada, nothing, totally ignored. What, pray tell, are they teaching kids these days if not the roots of Groundhog Day? For the love of Pete, it's the most apolitical holiday on the calendar: no need to be politically correct or racially tactful or religiously agreeable. It's good, clean fun. We as a nation need to re-embrace Groundhog day. We need to bring back the Groundhog Day customs and traditions of long ago. 

But mostly...we need spring to come 6 weeks earlier this year....