Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Most Popular Downloads on iTunes

Ahhh...it's No Mentor Night on Idol. I don't know if it's a cost cutting measure or what, but I'm happy for the break.

So....Anoop starts us off and promises to bring back his high energy while singing Usher. Randy didn't like the vocals. Kara said it sounded like a bunch of frat boys dared him to sing Usher. (Clearly referring to Anoop's cheering squad this week.) Paula liked the vocals. And Simon said it was a complete and utter mess. I tend to agree with Simon, but it wasn't until Anoop opened his sassy-ass mouth that I realized how completely over Anoop I was. Mr. Belligerent snapped, "I'm just trying to be an R&B artist..." Yeah, well, try being an R&B artist without American Idol, my friend...it aint' going to happen...so zip it and lose the attitude.

Megan Joy is next singing Bob Marley/Lauren Hill but sounding like Ethel Merman. If you close your eyes, you can almost hear her belting out "There's No Business Like Show Business..." Very odd. Kara thinks she's in trouble. 'Ya think? I have no idea what Paula was trying to say. Simon said it was boring and indulgent. And Randy went blah, blah, blah all the way home...

Danny Gokey sang Rascal Flats, because, he said, "Everybody loves them." Except for me. But I thought he did a great job. Paula made it short and sweet (who knew she could do that?): she liked it. Simon said it was his best performance to date. Randy...um...yeah, I have no idea what Randy was talking about. None. Whatsoever. Dude, what language does he speak? But I gather he liked it. As did Kara who said something about him moving everybody emotionally and giving it his heart and soul. She kind of looks like Julia Roberts tonight. She's so freaking deep, I want to stuff a sock in her mouth.

Allison. Allison. Allison. The outfit is going to be the death of her. She busted out the guitar (which purely served as a prop) to no avail, because nobody is going to be able to get over the get-up. She needs to shave that head of hers and start over.

Just the Way You Are. Rrreally? This is one of iTune's most popular downloads? Hmm. Don't get me wrong, I like Billy Joel...but my kids' reaction was, "This song is old...it's from the first Shrek movie." Oooh, it goes back further than that, kids...I was in the 7th grade when that song hit the charts. I thought Scott sounded like a lounge singer. Last week I said he sounded like the piano player at Nordstrom, but on second thought, I swear the guy at Nordies is better. But, the judges LOVE Scott. L-O-V-E because he is B-L-I-N-D. I. Do. Not. Get. It. Every season has a contestant that I just can't get my head around and Season 8's conundrum is Scott. For sure.

But just as I do not fully understand why the judges embrace Scott, I don't get why they diss Matt. I thought his version of You Found Me was really good. Really good. And if it came down to Matt vs. Scott...I would choose Matt every time. He doesn't deserve to go home.

Lil Rounds sang A Celine Dion song. Bo-ring. And man, does that girl have some junk in her trunk or what? Randy liked it, but told her she needed to "young it up a bit". Kara who, again, looks a lot like Julia Roberts tonight, appears to be auditioning for a role. She takes herself waaay too seriously. Paula is incoherent: for the life of me...I couldn't possibly translate what she said. Simon thought it sounded like a wedding performance. Clearly Lil has a problem with the whole song choice thing. But really, does song choice matter all that much? As if the record company is going to let her pick the songs; they are going to tell her exactly what to sing.

So I was in the 7th grade when Billy Joel sang "Just the Way You Are", and the 6th grade when Wild Cherry sang "Play that Funky Music". And yet, Adam managed to bring a current, hip, trendy vibe to the oldie but goodie. Paula was on her feet...so you knew she loved it. She called Adam a true genius; man, is she a freakin' mess tonight. Simon agreed that it was original. Randy went on and on and on and all I could deciper was that he thought Adam "worked it out, dog." And Kara thought she was in Studio 57. (I wish.) I love Adam, but I hate that controlled scream thing he does....

And once again, they saved the best for last. I thought Kris' performance was the bomb. (do I sound like Randy?) Once again, Paula is on her feet - so you know where she stands. And Kara's waving her arms and calling it artisty - so you know where she stands. Randy is saying something about "slayin' 'em dog" - so you know where he stands. And Simon calls it clever, cool and Kris' best performance to date. I'm with Simon. I love Kris and his crooked smile.

So Ryan rolls the recap tape and here we have it folks:
1) Anoop is too cool for school
2) Megan is a freaking train wreck
3) Danny is solid and dependable and so very likable
4) Allison = The Rocky Horror Picture Show
5) Scott MacIntyre is blind
6) Matt can't catch a break...
7) Lil is lucky that her kids are so cute
8) Adam looks like an Elvis impersonator
9) Kris is tonight's stand out favorite....

So who is going home? I think it's Megan's turn....

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Where in the World is My Husband?

So my husband had a consulting gig this past week. He was approached by a startup company (or as we like to call it around my house "a make believe company") to help with their supply chain management. My husband coined the term, but I quickly jumped on board and wondered if they were going to pay him pretend money and offer fake benefits. Perhaps startup company is the wrong term to use in this case, because I think that label, which became popular during the dot-com bubble, is associated with high growth, technology oriented companies. That is definitely not the case with this particular...um....young...business...venture.

Regardless, my husband has been working....or at least feigning work. I'll tell you more about it another time; I don't think I'm at liberty to discuss the details right now. That makes it sound very secretive and mysterious, doesn't it? Are you thinking that the newly established "business" is actually a branch of the C.I.A? You might be on to something. I know I've probably told you that he has several engineering degrees, but have I ever mentioned that he also a three digit number associated with his name? (Think 007.)

So my kids and I iChatted with him this week while we ate breakfast and he ate lunch. Hey, this is sort of like Where in the World is Matt Lauer?! You know...that a segment on NBC's Today show which features co-host Matt Lauer traveling the whole world within a week. He gives a clue as to where he will be the next day and the viewers and his co-hosts try to guess his next destination. One day he is in Reykjavik, Iceland and the next he is in Cape Town, South Africa. Yes, Matt is that crazy.

I'm pretty sure NBC robbed the title from the PBS game show Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? So, I'm going to rob it and play my own game of Where in the World is Jim Reid? Perfect timing since nobody is going to be asking where in the world is Matt Lauer this year. Apparently NBC has decided to put Matt's jet-setting ways behind him and keep him home in light of the current economic crisis. Move over Matt, there's a new traveller in town!

So, the traveller called me this afternoon to tell me that he cleared customs and would be home in time for dinner. Then I got a call saying that his flight from Washington, D.C. was delayed. Then I got a second call saying the flight was delayed again - the kids and I would eat without him. Then I got a third call saying that the plane was still not at the gate; in fact, they apparently can't find the plane. What the? How are we supposed to play Where in the World is Jim Reid if we can't locate his plane? I hate traveling. He has been at it for about 35 hours now. I would be a basket case if I were him (precisely why the make believe company didn't recruited me).

Ok, so let's play. Those of you who know where he is...mum's the word. Those of you who are not in the know...take a guess. Where has he been all week? Here is the clue: We did NOT make him Chicken Kiev for his welcome home dinner and we're hoping he brought us home some fancy schmancy Easter eggs...

Anybody? Anybody? Buehler?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Stevie Wonder...Live

I'd like to skip over everything and go right to Stevie Wonder, because he was fantastic, but I can't go there without first mentioning what a sweaty mess of a man that Ruben Studdard is. Just gross. The sweat was streaming down that big, fat head of his like a waterfall, for crying out loud. Seriously, what is that about? This from a woman who sweats with the best of 'em, but in all my years, I have never been blinded by my own sweat. Horrible.

Ok, so the bottom 3: Matt, Michael and Scott. Matt had no business joining the likes of Michael and Scott. None. Whatsoever.

Sweet Jesus, WHO IS VOTING FOR SCOTT? I need names. And while I am at it: who is NOT voting for Matt? (besides me, I mean). If I were to vote...it would have been for Matt. All I'm saying is, 36 million people voted last night and a lot of them got it wrong. Completely wrong. Matt? Rreally? In the bottom 3? He was brilliant last night!

You don't think it has anything to do with that mole in the middle of his forehead, do you? Cause if it is - that's just wrong. If Scott can get the disability vote, then surely Matt should get the goiter/mole/facial issues vote. Apparently those folks are vastly outnumbered.


Ok, so I'm going to pass on Smokey and Joss Stone. I love Smokey, but he kind of looks like a woman, no? A little bit? An older woman. Maybe an older lesbian woman? (not that there is anything wrong with that.)

But Stevie? He's worth mentioning. I love Stevie Wonder (but, seriously, Matt? In the bottom 3? Really?). I am not alone in my love for Stevie. Clearly Kara loves Stevie. And Kris loves Stevie. And Anoop loves Stevie. The whole audience loves Stevie. Barack Obama better love Stevie because he got a shout out. And Matt is in the bottom 3? I can't get my head around it. I think the mole is going to have to go. Before next week.

Megan is clearly getting the sex vote. She's the only good looking woman and she's getting all the macho votes. (Am I oversimplifying things? Megan = sex vote, Scott = Americans with Disabilities vote, Matt = Americans with goiters and moles vote). So you know what we have to do? Allison is going to step it up a bit. She needs to clean up her image. I'd like to see her natural hair color return as that particular shade of orange/red is not found anywhere in nature and shouldn't be found on a woman's head, either. We can make her cuter. Somebody has to give Megan a run for her money. We need to split the sex vote. Divide and conquer.

So in the end it's Michael who goes home. No shocker there. He ain't too proud to beg, but it didn't work. I can't say I'm sad to see him go. Nor was my son, but he did say, "Michael isn't my favorite, but he has a lot of manners." That he does, a helluva lot of manners. He seems like a very nice guy with a wonderful personality and a great attitude and I wish him well and hope there is still a spot for him on the oil rigs. Really and truly.

Let me just end by saying, Matt had no business being in the bottom 3. Have I made myself clear?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Top Ten do Motown

That Smokey Robinson is a class act; I love him - bad plastic surgery and all.

The night started out on a high note. In my humble opinion, Matt Giraud's performance was the best of the evening. He sang "Let's Get it On" and it was a brilliant song choice and a phenomenal rendition. Matt's got it going on; he's cool and hip and sultry and hot, hot, hot. After tonight, he's my guy. He dethroned Danny. Don't get me wrong, I still like Danny, but there's only room for one king...

Kris Allen had a great night, too. He sang "How Sweet It Is" and made it very current, very today, very Kris. (Why does Paula feel the need to stand up and dance? Sit down, you assclown.). I disagreed with Simon's advice that Kris should behave more like a star and act conceited. That's what I love about most of the guys in this year's competition (the good ones, anyway.). They are sooo not conceited: Matt, Adam, Danny...and Kris are all humble and unassuming and it makes them that much more endearing.

And then you've got Scott MacIntyre. He played the piano (shocker) and sang "You Can't Hurry Love" and I swear it sounded like something the piano player at Nordstrom might perform. In fact, the last time I was at the store trying on shoes, I swear there was a gentleman at the piano singing Scott's cheese ball version. For the life of me, I can't figure out how he's made it this far. It's the same thing, week after week. LOVE how Paula (who was grasping for straws) tried to sell the idea of having the singers around the piano as something that was fresh and new. Really, Paula? Rrreally? That's the best you can come up with? Well, then, it's probably a good idea that Scott goes home. But he won't...not yet, anyway.

But Megan might. Her version of "For Once in My Life" was horrendous. She may be original, but you still have to be good - because original by itself just doesn't cut it. And she is not good. She has no rhythm, she looks uncomfortable performing and there is nothing natural about stage presence. She reminded me of an act you might have seen on The Love Boat. (Doc would have been all over her.)

Anoop was up next and to be honest with you, unlike the judges, I wasn't that impressed with Anoop. But he's certainly not in danger of going home to Chapel Hill.

But Michael Sarver's end is certainly drawing near. Simon said it best when he said, "You are taking part in this competition, but there's no chance of winning it." It was a harsh thing to say and uncomfortable to hear, but Simon could have said it to a few people this evening. After Simon speaks, there really isn't any point in hearing what the other nincompoops have to say. But that doesn't stop Paula and Kara from going on and on and on and on and on. And on.

Lil Rounds hasn't hit her mark yet. I think she will, but she hasn't yet. I loved that she got verklempt at Hitsville, USA. I thought she did a great Martha Reeves impersonation complete with hairdo and designer duds, but she forgot the golden rule of Idol: make it your own. Not to mention she rushed through the song. But surely America will give her some votes because if she goes home before Megan, Scott or Michael, it would be a crime.

So I'm watching Adam during his alone time with Smokey and I'm thinking, "Man he looks great without the eye makeup and his hair all done up and the black nail polish..." and the camera pans to Adam on stage and he looks like Elvis! Or maybe Ricky Ricardo. But he looks great. Who knew his hair could do that? He was awesome. His version of Smokey's "Tracks of My Tears" was out of this world and Mr. Robinson gave him his props with a standing O. Wow. He is not conceited and every bit a star. Love him (but right now my heart belongs to Matt).

Danny had the unfortunate luck of singing right after Adam. But....there is a silver lining: because he's near the end of the line up, the show is running out of time. As usual, Kara and Paula have talked themselves silly and as a result, each of the judges can only say one line about Danny, so he fairs pretty well. They all agree it wasn't his best (that is putting it waaay mildly), but he's still in it.

And the last singer of the night is Allison and she hits one out of the ballpark. Man, she's good. She sang, "Papa Was a Rolling Stone" and her version was somethin' else. While Danny benefitted from the time constraint and the one line comment from each judge, Allison suffered....because Kara and Paula could have waxed poetic about Allison for a good 5 minutes or so.

So now it's time for the play back and it is clear from watching the recaps that we really only need Matt, Kris, Lil, Adam, Danny and Allison in this competition. The rest of them can go home tomorrow. But that's not how the game is played. So who will it be? Scott, Megan, Anoop or Michael?

I think I've made myself abundantly clear: Scott is the least worthy of the bunch. But he apparently is getting the Americans with Disabilities vote. I know, I know, that is not PC at all....but you know you were thinking the same thing. How else would he have made it this far? And it's not as if I'm the only one being politically incorrect...how about Ryan busting on Scott's flesh colored pink pants and then asking him how he knows that the pants were pink? Ouch.

But I digress...

I want Scott to go home, but I think Michael will...

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sweet As Candy

So it seems that candy companies are relatively recession-proof. In fact, during the Depression, those who specialized in bonbons were extremely prosperous. The early 1930s saw the birth of some of my childhood favorites: Snickers, Tootsie Pops, Mars bars and Three Musketeers. The term "childhood favorites" implies that as an adult I no longer care for these sweet confections; that would be a lie. At 45, I am still a candy lover, a candy afficionado and a closet candy addict. Ok, maybe not so much a closet candy eater as I devour candy out in the open as well.

I have a designated candy drawer in my kitchen that is usually well stocked. When my daughter (who seems to have inherited my sweet tooth) opens it, I often hear her whine, "Ooooh Mom?! Are you kidding me? What happened to the licorice? There was a FULL bag in here yesterday." Yeah, well, sorry sweetness, that was yesterday. And technically, it's my drawer.

Back when I had a full time job, my British boss introduced me to the Cadbury Crunchie. Holy chocolate bar, Batman. The caliber of the Cadbury milk chocolate is second to none and the golden honeycomb center is simply to die for...but the candy bar is only available in England. (which is probably a good thing). A few weeks ago my husband went to England for a job interview and I told him not to return without the Crunchies. A job offer would be nice, but a Crunchie would be nicer, and a couple of Crunchies would be nicest. (There are three in my candy drawer as I type...but there is no guarantee that they will be there tomorrow.) And while I have grown to appreciate a piece of dark chocolate with a nice glass of red wine, I must confess that I get just as much satisfaction from kid candy: Skittles, Sour Worms, Nerds, Fun Dips, Starbursts...I'm telling you, I've never met a candy that I didn't appreciate.

As a result of my sweet tooth, I am no stranger to the dentist chair. Truth be told, I don't think I have a single tooth that hasn't been drilled, refilled, capped or crowned (but they are relatively white, so that counts for something, right?) I've had several root canals and cracked a few teeth (but never wore braces, so that counts for something, right?). My last visit to the dentist was a result of raiding my son's Halloween candy (that I promised I wouldn't touch). The Tootsie Roll that I clamped down on tasted delicious, but it apparently grabbed hold of one of my caps and ripped the sucker off. Luckily, I didn't swallow the golden tooth and my dentist was able to glue it back in place. But if you think I've sworn off Tootsie Rolls as a result, you would be sadly mistaken.

They say candy is an affordable escape. I don't need the likes of Lindt or Ghirardelli, I'm fine with a pack of Sour Patch Kids. We've cut out a lot of things since my husband was laid off, but I will never give up my candy. And apparently I am not alone....

Monday, March 23, 2009

Alone Again, Naturally....

What a glorious day! It was sunny and warm in Charlotte: the cherry blossoms are magnificent, the daffodils are up and at 'em, and Spring is here to stay. Have I mentioned how much I love being a southern belle? And there was good news on the economic front as well! Wall Street got the news it's been waiting for and rejoiced by sending the Dow surging to its biggest percentage gain since October. And how about that surprising increase in home sales? A glorious day, indeed.

Normally, Mondays get me (and Karen Carpenter) down, but this particular Monday was shaping up to be a good one right from the start. For the first time in a very long time...I was going to be alone. In my house. All day. Alone. It doesn't get much better than that, my friends. I'm not saying I didn't enjoy the heck out of staycation and having my kids around, because I did. And I'm not saying I don't enjoy having my husband around, because I do. But....it's been awhile since I've had the house completely to myself and I was determined to enjoy every last minute of my loneliness. The fact that Wall Street, the Dow, home sales and Mother Nature all decided to join the party was simply icing on the cake.

Today my kids were back at school and my husband was off on a consulting gig. I hope his day was half as enjoyable as mine, but since I didn't have the chance to chat with him, I cannot be certain. We've gone from being attached to each other's hips to having a 7 hour time difference between us. I did receive an early morning email confirming that his plane had landed and he was waiting for a gentleman named Igor to pick him up from the airport. I sent one back to let him know that I was glad he made it safely and that I hoped Igor didn't have a hunchback.

So what did I do all day? Nothing much. I perused the want ads, did a few loads of laundry, made some soup, filled out camp applications...and....that's about it. I loaded the dishwasher (without somebody reloading it behind me in a more efficient manner) and opened the blinds (without somebody angling the blinds to maximize the suns warmth) and ate my lunch alone.

I'll be happy when the weekend comes and I start passing people in the halls again, but in the meantime, I'm going to bask in the glory of my solitary confinement. Yes, I understand that one is the loneliest number that you'll ever do, but every once in awhile, one can be the loveliest number....

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Staycation Update

I've received many emails asking for an update on our staycation. I haven't mailed the postcards yet, but suffice it to say....we are having a fabulous time. I must confess, I haven't attempted many of the things I blogged about in my March 12th post, but we're going with the flow and everybody seems happy, so why would I offer up room service and trolley rides when they are clearly not needed?

We haven't rented a single movie, but, we have completed season one of the Gilmore Girls (Santa brought all 8 seasons). Next year, assuming my husband is gainfully employed, we hope to spend our spring break in Stars Hollow, home of the Gilmore Girls. I know, I know, it's a fictional town in Connecticut, but I am convinced that we can find it. That might mean heading to the Warner Brothers studio back lot instead of New England, but we will find our Shangri-la if it kills me. (Maybe it's time to put away the Gilmore Girls DVDs and rent The Wizard of Oz....)

One of the highlights of this week has been the latest addition to our family. No, we have not caved and gotten that puppy that the kids keep asking for....but we did get the next best thing...an ant farm. The farmers arrived in a test tube via USPS (one was DOA) and settled nicely into their new digs. In a matter of hours they had successfully built several tunnels. They are the best pets EVER: no feeding, no watering, and no cleaning is required AND no noise, no mess, and no aggravation is generated. Good, clean fun; those ants have provided us with hours and hours of pure joy.

I'll admit, at first I was a bit skeeved when my husband placed the "farm" on the kitchen counter next to the big bowl that I use to store our bread. But I've gotten use to the picnic ants hanging out next to the english muffins. Every time I enter the kitchen, one of the Reids is leaning on the counter checking out the ants' progress. And if I've sang "The ants go marching one by one..." once, I swear I've sang it a thousand times. The other day while spying on the ants, I heard my son whisper...."I think the ants are getting chubby." Hmm. Maybe we'll buy some ant treadmills for the farm.

Speaking of getting chubby...we've made cookies and pizza and orange-creme smoothies (darn, I forgot the umbrellas!), but nothing from the Barefoot Contessa's collection. Tonight we are having my BFF over for her birthday dinner; maybe we'll pull out one of Ina's recipe's...but probably not. Today we're heading to Costco in search of the perfect slab of meat in honor of her 44th meat eating year. We hope to arrive around noon so that our shopping excursion coincides with peak sample time. Love those samples (if it's free, it's for me) at Costco! Our goal is to sample enough goodies so that we do not have to purchase lunch. But, if we have to break down and pay $1.99 for a slice of pizza, then so be it. (Costco's version of a slice easily feeds a family of 10 as everything at Costco is ginormous.)

We have a few more things planned for the week...but you'll have to check back for an update...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Who is Voting?

What the heck happened tonight? I was out drinking wine with some girlfriends and came home to find that Alexis Grace is no longer an Idol. But that wasn't what surprised me...what surprised me was that Scott MacIntyre wasn't in the bottom 3!? Has America gone mad? Michael Sarver, sure I get that, but Allison over Scott? Rrrreally?

Wow. A part of me wants to watch the show, but a bigger part of me wants to go to sleep.

Maybe it will make more sense in the morning....

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Nothing Grand About the Old Oprey....

So far, staycation is all I ever wanted...and then some. Maybe that's why AI seemed especially boring this evening? Or maybe it had something to do with this week's theme. There are many reasons why I love Simon Cowell, not the least of which is that we share a disdain for country music.

Michael Sarver started us out singing a Garth Brooks song. He has the same physique as Garth Brooks, but he lacks his charisma and star quality. Randy Travis made a big deal about him memorizing all the words, but as Simon pointed out, you couldn't understand a word he sang - so who knows if he flubbed his lines? Not I. If I didn't dislike Scott MacIntrye as much as I do - I would say that it's time for Michael Sarver to return to the oil rigs. I'll give him one more week. But that's it....

Allison Iraheta is one talented young lady. Key word there being young....but that doesn't stop her from having the confidence, the poise and the pipes of a star. I'm not ready to join her fan club, but I definitely think she will be around for awhile. And she should be....

As will Kris Allen. He also sang a Garth Brooks song...and he made it his own. I'll have to take the judges words for it (but not Paula's because she is back to her old tricks and is high as a kite tonight) as I wouldn't know a Garth Brooks song from a Randy Travis song. But I thoroughly enjoyed Kris' performance (even though I hate how he spells his name).

I felt for Lil Rounds. Or Little Rounds. It's country week, for crying out loud. So she picks a big country song and she's criticized for singing a country song. Whatever. She'll be back next week and country will be behind her. All is good.

Adam, Adam, Adam. I still love him, but I'll admit that his version was scary and, yes, it was indulgent rubbish. But he has amazing vocals and he is current and young and fresh and hot (or whatever it was that Randy said about him). I love his personality (but not so much his look). I am not a fan of the black nail polish either, but I'll take Adam over Randy Travis any day of the week. He'll be back next week. If not, surely the judges will use their super powers and keep him around for another try.

If Scott MacIntyre doesn't go home tomorrow night, I will eat my hat. I listened to three notes of his song and then hit the fast forward button. As far as I was concerned, it was just like every other song he has sung this season. Safe, safe, safe. America better send him packing.

With each passing week, I am losing interest in Alexis Grace. I think she comes across as desperate. She's going to bring back the dirty next week because that's what the judges want. Unlike some of the other artists she is up against, she is not true to herself. In fact, she doesn't know who she is - but she is willing to do whatever the judges tell her to do and to be. Nope, not a fan of little Alexis. But she'll be back (dirtier than ever) next week.

Danny is still my main man. I love him, love his smile, love his big voice. L-o-v-e. I am not a fan of country, not a fan of Jesus taking the wheel, and yet, I loved his performance.

But...while I only have eyes for Danny...Anoop was my favorite tonight. Randy Jackson said it best when he said that Anoop's arrangement was dope. Total dope. I hope he can keep up the dope.

Is she going by Megan Joy now? Is that it? Megan Joy. Well, Megan Joy reminded me of Marilyn Monroe tonight. I almost expected her to break into, "Happy Birthday Mr. President...". I am not on board with Megan Joy. I think she is very, very odd. And what was up with that contrived accent of hers this evening? Was that brought on by the flu? And could she have coughed a few more times for effect (and votes)?

Once again...the last performer was (one of ) the best performers. Loved Matt Giraud's Carry Underwood song. He is one suave dude. Great vocals, great look, great ending to an otherwise boring show.

So after tomorrow we'll have our top ten...and if America gets it right...Scott MacIntyre will be looking for work this summer as he will not be touring with Idol.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Staycation, All I Ever Wanted....

Spring Break is fast approaching and this year we are not headed to an exotic destination. We are hunkering down and staying put. No packing, no jet lag, no airport delays, no backseat fighting, no sunburn, no "are we there yet?" This year we are embarking on a staycation and the possibilities are endless...

Perhaps we'll pitch a tent in the backyard one night, build a campfire and take in the night sky. Maybe we'll get crazy and project a movie on the shed in the backyard and have our very own drive-in theater. And if it rains that night, have no fear, we'll pitch the tent in the living room and roast marshmallows over the gas range.

We've visited DC, New York, and Boston and seen all the sites worth seeing. And do you know what tops my kids' favorite list from those cities? The ride on the Metro, the T, the Subway and in a NYC taxi cab. What can I say, my kids love public transportation. So, who am I to fight it? We'll take the trolley to uptown Charlotte and take a city bus home. I'll throw in a few bucks to buy some souvenirs, postcards and treats - because no trip is complete without useless tchotchkes - and I promise you the Jefferson Memorial, the Empire State Building and the Freedom Trail will be distant memories.

One morning I'll surprise them with room service. They'll wake up and find a menu next to their beds with instructions to intercom me in the kitchen when they are ready to place their order. Then I'll deliver the eggs (anyway they like 'em), toast, and orange juice on a silver tray with a copy of USA Today...right to their bedroom door. Service with a smile. And I'll give them the option of hanging a "Do Not Disturb" sign on their doorknob. If I'm still feeling generous at the end of the day, they will receive turn down service complete with a piece of chocolate on their pillow. The Westin's got nothing on Hotel Reid.

On second thought, that doesn't sound like a vacation for me. At all. I may decide to declare a choratorium: no bed making, no vacuuming, no cleaning toilets and certainly no meal preparation. In which case the room service idea may not be an option after all. Hmm. I'll have to think about that one...

The other night we were watching one of our favorite cooking shows...The Barefoot Contessa and my son commented, "Man it would be nice to have a dinner like that every night." Ouch. But I have to agree; in my next life, I'm coming back as the Barefoot Contessa's husband. I was quick to point out that if I cooked like the Barefoot Contessa every night, his sister would would starve to death. The thought of Dover Sole in a lemon butter sauce might sound appealing to him, but it would set her over the edge. Then I suggested that when we go on staycation, the whole family should get involved in meal selection and preparation. My son loved the idea and keeps asking if we are really going to do it. (wait until she vetoes his every suggestion).

I promise to share photos from our staycation. My husband's cameras and all the lenses accompany us on every trip. We have candid shots, posed shots, funny shots, family shots, individual shots; he's exceptionally talented and captures our lives on film quite beautifully. On past vacations, we looked forward to the nightly slideshow of the days activities and I don't expect this year to be any different. I'm envisioning a few snapshots of the couch, several of the kids playing the Wii, some kitchen scenes, the trolley ride, room service delivery, and one or two of the pizza delivery man (we can't cook every night) oh and cocktail hour. We may not be poolside, but we'll keep up the tradition of happy hour every afternoon. We'll get the blender out and mix up some fruit smoothies for the kids and pina coladas for the adults (note to self: purchase cocktail parasols for the umbrella drinks).

And, yes, of course, it goes without saying that I'll scrapbook the whole staycation. Because I am oh, so crafty. Not.

Maybe I'll come up with a theme for each day? Monday will be Beach Day (hence the umbrella drinks), Tuesday can be Spa Day (somebody can rub my shoulders while somebody else gives me a pedicure), Wednesday can be International Day (Bonjour! I'll offer French toast on the room service menu, visit Taco Bell for lunch and perhaps see a movie with subtitles in the late afternoon), Thursday can be Olden Days Day (no electricity, board games, candles, outhouse, etc...). Or maybe it would be easier to pick a theme and make it last all week? I like the idea of Film Festival Week. We'll rent movies, pop corn, eat Milk Duds and Junior Mints for lunch each day and wash it down with ginormous Coke products. The first movie will be The Wizard of Oz and I'll replay the part where Dorothy chants, "There's no place like home, there's no place like home..."

This could be paradise...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Double Elimination

33 million votes. That's a lotta votes. I've been a fan right from the start; I knew Kelly Clarkson when she was a waitress in Texas and yet I have never once voted for a single contestant. (But I will be the first to rant and rave if one of the contestants I like gets voted off.)

That won't happen tonight. Jasmine and Jorge had it coming. Granted, I would have rather seen Scott MacIntyre get the pink slip first, but it will happen all in good time.

I like the new Judges Save rule - I think it's a great addition. And I love how Simon doesn't mince words. When asked if the judges would use their one and only save on Jorge he simply replied, "No." No sugar coating for Simon. Ryan, on the other hand, is so kind and eloquent when he consoles the loser Idols. Now if we could only get the producers to eliminate the part where the losers have to sing the song that did them in....

They are keeping it all in the Idol family this season with Carry Underwood serenading the Idols home and past Idols performing each week on the results show. I wouldn't mind seeing Jennifer Hudson grace the big stage again.

And no, I will not comment on Kelly Clarkson's size. Nor will I comment on the fact that Kanye West needed to pull his pants up. I am a fan of both artists and will save my politically incorrect comments for those performers who deserve it....

Two down, 10 to go....

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Lucky 13

Michael Jackson night...

Lil Rounds started us off with "The Way You Make Me Feel". I thought Lil looked like a clown. Paula complimented her outfit and make-up....probably because Paula looked like her twin. Lil will be back (hopefully with a new look).

So I guess Scott MacIntyre's brother is going to be the 14th Idol? I appreciate Kara trying to win Scott points by asking if he learned to play the song in a week...but it didn't work for me. I just don't think Scott is Idol material; the song was ridiculous. He needs to "Keep the Faith" elsewhere...preferably off the big stage.

I love Danny Gokey and I loved watching him sing "PYT". I thought his vocals were great and I loved his dance moves. And I love that his father made the family sing everything from their homework to their bedtime. Love.

Simon summed it up best when he was critiquing Michael Sarver, "I just wish we knew what you did for a living." Enough said. He'll be back, but he'll be back to the oil rigs before too long.

I can't decide if it's Jasmine's name or her look that reminds me of the princess from Aladdin. Can you see the resemblance? She'll probably get the teen vote tonight, but I think she'll be going home to her gorgeous sisters in the very near future.

Kris Allen is adorable. He and his wife Katy seem too good to be true. They've been married 5 months and he says that they've made a lot of sacrifices for Idol. Sacrifices? Something tells me that Kris wouldn't know a sacrifice if it bit him in his hot booty.

Allison Iraheta is this season's token rocker. And like the rockers before her, she's very good. But rockers don't make it on this show. That's not to say they don't go on to be successful (read: Chris Daughtry), but they don't take the title. Allison will be back, but she won't be this year's Idol. (though she does remind me of a young Kelly Clarkson...)

Anoop, Anoop, Anoop...what were you thinking? Bad, bad, bad song choice. You might be able to ride the coat tails of Slumdog Millionaire and get the nod to come back next week. If you do, you need to bring it, my friend.

Jorge is the clear loser of the evening. He sang, "Never Can Say Goodbye". Yes you can, Jorge. Say it: goodbye. I know there is a huge Latino audience out there, but I just don't think that Jorge is going to be our first ESL Idol. Not seeing it. At all.

You know what else I'm not seeing? Megan Joy. "Rockin' Robin"? Rrreally? It was a very silly performance. So not worthy of a vote. There's a reason she never sang a solo in the choir or never won a part in a high school musical.

I want Adam Lambert to be my favorite, but that spot is already filled by Danny Gokey. But Adam is a verrrry close second (even if he does remind me of Sharon Osbourne). He can sing, he can dance, he can perform, he has confidence and he is humble. I must admit, I did think his performance was a tad bit over the top, but then Paula declared her love for Adam and I realized that her performance was the one that was over the top; Adam's paled in comparison.

Matt the dueling piano player was great. So glad the judges gave him a 2nd chance. He is a cross between Matt Dillon and Justin Timberlake and I look forward to seeing the combo next week.

Lucky for Alexis Grace, Fox ran out of time and the judges weren't able to dissect her performance....because it wasn't very good. A few weeks ago the judges told her to dirty herself up a bit. She took it to heart and actually sang Michael Jackson's "Dirty Diana". I thought it was very unoriginal. It's one thing to take the judges advice, it's another to become their puppet. She was probably good enough to come back, but she might want to rethink that dirty thing.

So who will join Jorge as the first Idols to leave? I hope it's Scott MacIntyre. But if she doesn't secure enough of the tween and teen votes, it could be Jasmine Murray. I think Anoop is too popular to go this week and he does hail from NC where we LOVE our Idols. I would not be upset to see Megan fly away home....

One thing is for sure, I'm tuning in tomorrow because Simon promises BIG changes. (I am not holding my breath...)

Monday, March 9, 2009

Whining About My Cold...

Do you think it's possible to cough up a lung? I don't. Because if it were possible, I would have done so today. What about coughing your brains out - do you think that's possible? My head is pounding so badly right now, that it almost sounds tempting. What about falling apart? Do you think people can actually fall apart? Is it possible that my tongue might shoot across the room as a result of the force of my next cough? Stay tuned.

I am sick of hacking, barking and rattling. I feel like I've smoked a pack of cigarettes and my throat is beyond raw. Luckily, I fancy myself a doctor and know that this too shall pass. In the meantime, I am eating Mucinex D like it were candy. Why is it that coughs are always worse at night? To hell with the mucus globule lodged in my chest, I am taking an Ambien and will deal with coughing up the fur ball in the morning.

Wish me luck....

Saturday, March 7, 2009

When Life Hands You Lemons....

An abbreviated version of this post appeared in the Charlotte Observer this past week. Click here to read it and the comments people left. I'm posting it on my blog because I want all of my posts recorded in one place for posterity.

I was happy to see that most of the comments regarding my story were positive. I am no Pollyanna, but I do believe that everybody has the ability to take a bad situation and transform it into strength and power, it's all about having the right attitude. So this is what I sent to The Observer...

I realize that in this economy, finding a job will not happen over night. Unfortunately, I was born without patience and so waiting is not my strong suit. When my husband was laid off in November, I developed a pit in my stomach the size of the Grand Canyon and nothing seemed to fill it; not the cookies that I inhaled by the boatload nor the wine that I consumed by the bottle. Luckily, what I lack in patience, I make up for in mental toughness. And so I have been able to choose patience over frustration as I have learned that the latter is a waste of my time and energy. Staying positive gives me power.

Last month I had lunch with several women whose children attend school with my son. I've known these women for years, but we never got together socially until we discovered that all of our husbands were out of work. Suddenly we had a lot more in common than just third graders. Our new situation connected us in a way that chaperoning class field trips and attending back- to-school nights never had been able to do. Over lunch we shared our stories, our concerns and our worries. We talked about our husbands’ job searches and our own efforts to find work. We discussed everything from healthcare coverage to cutting coupons to our families and how they are coping. I couldn't help but think how different our conversation would have been had we gotten together for lunch a year or two ago.

Rest assured, there weren't any tears and it certainly wasn't a pity party. None of the diners in the restaurant had any idea that we were discussing COBRA and unemployment benefits. We were upbeat and positive and shared many, many laughs. Each of us vowed to make our lunch a monthly outing (next time we are brown bagging it). I think we have a mini support group in the making. I knew I would enjoy the lunch, but I didn't expect to find a group of mentally strong women whose stories were exactly like mine. Just as staying positive gives me energy, so does talking about what I am experiencing with people who truly understand. The bond we share isn't the most pleasant, but we are all happy to have made a connection.

I've known plenty of people who have lost their jobs over the years. My father lost his in the 1980's with two children in college and one more on her way. I was a teenager at the time away at school in Boston; I'm sure I barely acknowledged the difficult time that my parents were going through. I'd like to blame my behavior on being a teenager and thinking that the world revolved around me. But lately I've thought a lot about others who were in this situation long after my selfish teenage years, and I am embarrassed to think back on the meager compassion that I offered them. I've always thought of myself as an empathetic person, but there is something to be said about actually living through something before you can truly understand its effects.

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 has been 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.

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 biscotti. I am more than happy to don my barista apron and serve up a cup of Joe and a smile. He chuckles at this suggestion, probably because he knows that my coffee will not win him friends or influence people. It’s probably best that he sticks with the tall, skinny lattes at Starbucks.

I can't help but think that those Starbucks encounters do more for him than simply grow his contact list. The people he meets serve as his support line. He gets positive energy from each of those encounters and he returns the favor tenfold. There are millions of people out of work and millions more worried about becoming the next statistic. My advice to all of them is to find yourself a good support system: accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative. Being able to do so is no trivial pursuit, but I believe if you put 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.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Top 13

Jasmine was selected for her commercial marketability.
Meaghan was selected for her quirkiness.
Matt was selected for his coolness.
And Anoop was selected for his mass appeal.

I could do without the quirky factor. I don't care how current Simon thinks she is...I am not a fan. But I did feel for her when instead of basking in her glory, she was forced to console that idiot, Tatiana.

(side note: My son is a very sweet child. He rarely, if ever, says anything bad about anybody. I know, I know, he's nothing like me. So imagine my surprise when after Ryan announced that Tatiana would sing after the next commercial break, my good natured son deadpans, "I hope the judges crush her dreams." OUCH. I was shocked, "That's a little harsh, dude. What did Tatiana do to deserve that comment?" He then mimicked her laugh and her scream to a tee. Enough said. I'm elated that they crushed her dreams.)

Most awkward moment of the evening: when Jessie thought Simon was telling her she made it. She apparently doesn't understand British?

So in the end, those wild and crazy judges throw us a curve ball and give us the Top 13. When Anoop is finally voted off (and he will eventually be voted off) he's going to have a hard time accepting the fact seeing as he's been reincarnated several times now.

And what exactly does this mean? Will two people be eliminated during one week? Maybe we'll have a new American Idol...and Anoop.

Only time will tell....

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

We Almost Have the Top 12

Hmm. I guess we need to get used to seeing the couch as the prop of choice for the Group Sing choreography. I mean no disrespect; Scott seems like a very nice feller, but he is just not American Idol material. Lil Rounds, yes, but Scott MacIntyre, no.

I suppose he's going to need his brother to stick around unless of course he dons a yellow hat and then he can pair up with Curious Jorge. (LOVE that Jorge thinks 78 degrees is freezing. He's a boy after my own heart...)

Tatiana....necessary? Fox must be really hurting for ratings. They had better not put her through, because it will be a waste of a spot as America will not tolerate that woman. Although I'm sure Vote for the Worst is thrilled to have their poster child back.

I don't get the Von Smith nod at all. Simon suggested that he wear a hat tomorrow night, so I'm sure he will. Either that, or lose the Heat Miser hairdo as it does nothing for you, Vonnie.

I was thrilled to see Anoop (who looked stunned) and Matt the dueling piano player get a second chance. Rickey and Jasmine Murray are my other faves. I'll be happy if 3 of those 4 make the Top 12.

I'm just excited that 8 people will sing AND the judges will reveal the three winners in a span of just 1 hour. That must mean one thing: Kara will have to keep her mouth shut. Yes! I'm in....

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Top 36: Take Three

Can I just tell you how much Kara bugged me tonight? I think she has taken on the role of Paula this season and Paula is mild in comparison.

Ok...with that said....

They are making The Hobbit a movie, aren't they? I think Von Smith should audition for a part. The lead part. The Hobbit. He'll have plenty of time, as I don't think he will get the nation's nod to come back next week. Which is a good thing, because I don't think I can look at him (or his sister in the audience) for another week. He of the weird facial expression and Heat Miser hairdo.

Taylor Vaifunua....I don't remember how to spell her last name and I don't think it matters. But under my breath, I am telling Kara to shut up. That's all I remember.

Alex Wagner-Trugman. A little dorky? Ya think?

Next up, Arianna Afsor. I had high hopes for her and her cuteness, but man, she killed ABBA (killed in a bad way, not a good way.) And now I find myself whispering out loud to Kara: shut the you-know-what up. Poor Arianna, she genuinely looks crushed.

I thought that judges were especially kind to Ju'Not Joyner. While he had a nice voice, I found myself wanting to slit my wrists halfway through his song. Bor-ring. Kara said he had ridiculous pipes, I say Kara had ridiculous comments.

The judges were not very impressed with Kristen McNamara who admitted that she should probably hire a stylist. Ryan mentioned that the Top 12 would be getting plenty of stylist help, but, alas, I'm not sure Kristen will ever get the chance to reap those benefits.

I will not comment on the fact that Nathaniel Marshall is a flaming drama queen. Nor will I tell you how I feel about his (too) many facial piercings. And I will leave his chipmunk cheeks alone. But I will say that watching him reminded me of a scene out of Flashdance. I wanted to break out into "What a Feeling..." but I was too busy SCREAMING at Kara to SHUT UP. Holy snap am I done with that lady. Did Nathaniel's grandmother remind anybody of one of those shriveled up apple people that you see at state fairs? Click here to see how Nathaniel's grandmother was born...

Just out of curiosity - doesn't everybody like to have fun? I mean, if you interview 10 people on the street, surely at least 9 of them will admit that they like to have fun, no? So why does every Idol contestant who performs badly have to say, "I just wanted to have fun up there." Really? Huh. Cause I thought maybe you were looking to have a crappy time up there. My bad.

Felicia Barton filled a spot in the Top 36 that was vacated by the woman who had a few previous record deals and posed a conflict of interests. Good for Felicia, good for Idol. I like her look and her personality (perhaps more than her voice) and think she'll be a welcomed addition to the Top 12.

I'm sorry, but if Scott MacIntyre gets through, it will because he earned the sympathy vote. There, I said it. As politically incorrect as it is, I said it. He's not that good, folks. And for the LOVE OF GOD...SHUT UP, Kara!

Kendall Beard? Do we really need yet another cute, little, blonde country singer? I think not.

At first I thought Jorge Nunez reminded me of Sammy Davis, Jr., but then I realized he looks a lot more like Curious George. Curious Jorge, if you will. And I think it's curious that after the guy spends money and time on a dialect coach (at the judges' request), Simon decides he no longer needs to work on his accent. Simon says articulation, Simon says pronunciation, Simon says diction...Fire your dialect coach. What the?

The last spot of the night is the place to be. First we had Danny Gokey in that spot, the next week we had Adam Lambert in that spot, and tonight we had Lil Rounds in that spot. I am pretty sure she will follow the others in that spot to a spot in the Top 12. She's got some junk in her trunk and that girl can sing. Very polished, great vocals, hot look...and I can't seem to get past Kara and her ridiculous input. Shut. Up. And while I'm ready to strangle Kara, I've got to give Paula her props. She was coherent tonight and had some good input AND managed to close the evening on a high note with her little play on words using Lil's last name! Way to go, Paula!

So, I'm going with Lil Rounds as top lady of the night. I'll go with Curious Jorge as top male vote getter for the night. And my third choice goes with Felicia Barton the replacement Idol. I'll be tuning in tomorrow at 8:55 for the results show....

PS: Was I too harsh tonight? A little too cranky, perhaps? We were without electricity for just about 36 hours and I guess I took my frustrations out on the Idols rather than Duke Power. Still, given the choice of slapping Duke Power or Kara...I'd go with Kara.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Southern Style Snowman

March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb or so the saying goes...

We in Charlotte are hunkering down for a real snow emergency. The weather forecasters (who are rarely, if ever, right) are calling for 4-8 inches of the white stuff in the Charlotte area by Monday morning. Usually by the end of February, residents of the Queen City are sporting t-shirts and shorts and sunning themselves in parks. But not today, today we are readying ourselves for a natural disaster and it is so darn exciting I can barely contain myself.

I love Charlotte’s version of a snow storm. We've already had two snow days this year...the first "storm" dumped less than an inch on our lawn. The kids left the house at 7:30 am to take a spin down the hill at the park, but by the time they got there (7:35) there wasn't enough snow. Swear. The second "storm" dumped, well, nothing. Honestly, we didn't even have a dusting. But apparently the roads were icy and impassable for the buses (although I looked and didn't see any ice on any road anywhere). I left a note for my kids that morning when I scooted out to the Y that read: "Hey Guys! The good news is....you have a snow day! The bad news is...there is no snow!"

Yet despite the miniscule accumulations, the city comes to a complete standstill and there is mass hysteria and utter pandemonium. Not only are the schools closed, the local television stations send reporters out with wooden rulers to measure the snow on streets and overpasses (in centimeters), businesses open two hours late (if at all), roads are declared impassable, liquor flies off the shelves by the gallons and grocery stores run out of bread and milk.

Today is no different. I went to the grocery store this afternoon because I really and truly had to go to the grocery store (and not because I wanted to get some hot chocolate and the makings for chocolate chip cookies). I'm happy to report that there are plenty of vegetables to be had (apparently eating ones veggies is not part of a snow emergency plan), but the bread was seriously picked clean and the deli counter was hopping (apparently there is going to be a whole lot of sandwich eating tomorrow across my fair city).

As luck would have it - my kids are off on Tuesday for a Teacher Work Day, so if Mother Nature is in a good mood, they will enjoy an unplanned 4 day weekend. I just checked the 5 day forecast and it's supposed to be 70 degrees by Friday. That's what I love most about a Southern snow emergency...one day you're sippin' hot chocolate and three days later your slatherin' on the sunscreen.

My kids are already bouncing off the walls, so Mother Nature better come through. If she doesn't, than that Teacher Work Day on Tuesday will be verrrry much deserved.