Tuesday, February 1, 2011

This Valentine's Day....

On March 27, 2007, Grier Christenbury was diagnosed with Stage IV Neuroblastoma. He was 2 ½ years old. Neuroblastoma is the most common solid cancer of early childhood. It grows in the developing nerves of a child, often appearing as a tumor in the chest or abdomen. There is no known cause or cure.

Grier, with the help of his parents Amy and Jeff, and his siblings, Hayes and Grace, has been fighting the disease for four years. During their battle, the Christenburys learned that pediatric cancer robs families of more children than any other disease, that there is a vast disparity between funding of pediatric cancer and other cancers and that there is a lack of interest on the part of pharmaceutical companies to invest research and development dollars in treatment and cures. So they have made it their mission to not only fight this disease, but to raise tens of thousands of dollars for pediatric cancer research while educating our community about this dreadful illness.

Grier’s enormous dark, brown eyes take in everything around him, giving the impression that he is older and wiser than his 6-½ years. A gifted athlete, who is not defined by his cancer, Grier is a natural on the baseball and soccer fields. Unfortunately, he can also hold his own in an MRI scanner or an infusion room. He has spent most of his childhood in and out of Levine Children’s Hospital and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in NYC receiving treatments. But that hasn’t stopped him from attending kindergarten, splitting his time between the classroom and the chemotherapy room.

While his classmates count their fingers, Grier counts his treatments: 15 rounds of 5 day chemotherapy, 2 thoracotomies, 14 radiation treatments, 10 rounds of an extremely painful antibody treatment called 3F8 (that he received in NYC while living at the Ronald McDonald House) and more blood and platelet transfusions than he can count. In the span of four years, Grier has relapsed twice.

During one of the visits to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Amy met Gretchen Holt. Her son, Liam, was the inspiration for Cookies for Kids Cancer.  Through the concept of local bake sales, Cookies for Kids Cancer provides the inspiration and support for communities to fight pediatric cancer. The Christenburys, with the help of their friend Lesa Helbein,100 volunteers, 23 local bakeries, and a matching grant from Bank of America, raised $90,000 in their third community bake sale last December. 

What can we do as a community? We don’t have to find the cure, we simply have to support the effort to fund clinical trials for children. Forty-six children are diagnosed with cancer every day (that’s two full classrooms at Grier’s school). Over 40,000 children are currently being treated for cancer. Why not send cookies to somebody you love on Valentine's Day? Visit the Cookies for Kids’ Cancer website at www.cookiesforkidscancer.org
Together, we can make a difference one “good cookie” at a time.

For more information, visit www.gogriergo.com or Caring Bridge

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Georgia On My Mind

I got an email from a friend asking for a Georgia update. And she wanted the update via a blog entry. With a picture. So here it goes....

She's 5 months old now. And she's awfully cute. And really attached to my kids. And visa versa.

When my husband takes the kids to the bus in the morning, Georgia hollers at the top of her lungs. She doesn't bark like a puppy, she screams like a kid. Most mornings I put her on a leash and she follows the car, carrying on like a complete lunatic. And if I'm not ready for a morning walk, she stands at the back door wailing like a banshee. It's a bit unnerving.

This morning I drove the kids to the bus and decided to throw Georgia in the car. She was delighted to be included and seemed fine when the kids hopped out and boarded the bus. But as soon as I pulled out of the parking lot, all hell broke loose. I am pretty sure that one of my eardrums is permanently damaged.

I serve as Georgia's voice since Georgia cannot speak for herself. I know exactly what she will say in any given situation, so I provide commentary on her behalf. Georgia speaks very fast (think stream-of-consciousness) and her voice is unusally high (think Alvin the Chipmunk). Each and every morning when she greets the kids (think jumps all over them) I put words to her actions ("oh-my-god-where-have-you-been-I-totally-freaking-missed-you-it's-been-like-2-years-since-I-last-saw-you-and-oh-my-god-oh-my-god-I-can't-stop-jumping-all-over-you-and-biting-the-crap-out-of-you-because-I-love-you-and-I-need-to-get-closer-to-you-I-need-to-literally-be-in-your-face-I-need-to-bite-your-face-oh-my-god"). But when Georgia screams at the top of her lungs like she did in the car, I am too busy being the voice of reason to be the voice of Georgia.

Yesterday I was at my daughter's swim meet when my son came down with one of his migraines. He usually vomits, passes out for a couple of hours and when he awakes, he's as good as new. But yesterday's episode was pretty bad. I tucked him in around 5:00 pm and he slept through dinner, slept through his bed time, slept through my bed time and finally appeared at my bedside at 1:00 am scaring the bejesus out of me. He wanted to know if his sister was home from the swim meet. Um, sweetie, it's 1:00 am, so, yes, yes she is. He wanted to know if he missed Monday Night Football. Um, again, it's 1:00 am, so, yes, I'm afraid you did. And lastly, he wanted to know if Georgia missed him. Absolutely. In fact, I bet you anything she makes a fuss over you in the morning. And with that, I put him back to bed knowing full well that Georgia would not disappoint.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Chew on This

After school, Beck and I returned home to find a mess in the mudroom. Georgia had destroyed the throw rug and when she tired of that, she helped herself to a piece of art off the wall. It just happened to be a piece that Beck created last year after reading a biography on Barack Obama. Beck wasn't upset that his masterpiece was ruined, he just laughed and said, "I guess Georgia is a Republican." I told him not to jump to any conclusions, Georgia might just be frustrated with how Mr. Obama is handling his job as president. As long as she continues to love my Beck and not Glenn Beck, she can call my house her home (although she may be confined to her crate from here on out regardless of her political persuasions).

I'm not going to lie to you...she's driving me a little bit nuts with the chewing. Everything, and I mean everyfreakingthing, goes into her mouth. I know, I know, she's a puppy and that's what puppies do, but I grow weary. This morning I took her for a walk past the elementary school in my neighborhood. As luck would have it, there was a gaggle of children on the playground and as soon as they saw Georgia they swarmed us. A few of the (smart) kids asked if she bites before they reached down to pet her. I was loud and clear, an attempt at full disclosure, when I declared "Yes, she bites and it really HURTS because she's got teeth like a baby shark and she's not afraid to use 'em." But, that didn't stop some of the (dumb) kids who ignored my warning and entered the jaws of death. You know what? I can only do so much.

I managed to pull her away from the kids (before any skin was broken) and we continued to stroll down the street at a nice clip until Georgia literally stopped dead in her tracks. Up ahead was a child's wagon blocking the sidewalk. A small, blue, harmless plastic wagon that apparently looked like something out of a Freddy Krueger movie to Georgia. Two minutes ago she was gnawing on some poor kid's arm and now the sight of child's toy was wreaking havoc on her mental state. So I became one of those crazy dog people trying desperately to coo and cajole my poor pup into walking past the big, bad, scary wagon. I was even using that ridiculous dog voice that people use when they talk to animals, the one that registers several octaves above a normal voice. "Come on Georgia, you can do it. It won't hurt you, sweetie." But, to no avail, she was not budging. This went on for about a minute until she spotted a squirrel and took off at top speeds. Then I became one of those crazy dog owners who scream at their dogs at the top of their lungs as if they understand, "Georgia, I don't have my running shoes on, slow down or I'm going to kill myself!"

The rest of the walk was pretty uneventful. She snapped at a few falling leaves, actually catching several before they hit the ground. And she took bites at random bushes along the way, just for the hell of it. And she greeted every single person that we passed as if they were her best friend and she hadn't seen them in a year. And when we finally made it home, she was absolutely exhausted and collapsed in the mudroom.

And I did a jig.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Meet Georgia

It's been awhile.

My last blog entry was on Wednesday, June 2nd, the last day of school. So it's only fitting that I return to blogging today, Wednesday August 25th, the first day of school. In the past, I did a jig on the first day of school, but not this year. One, I was not ready to get back into a routine and two, I have been walking like Cro-Magnon man since Sunday when I pulled my back out, so the thought of doing a jig brings tears to my eyes.

How did I pull my back out, you ask? I'd like to tell you that I was trying out a new yoga position or lifting an exorbitant amount of weight over my head. But the truth is, I was lifting my puppy. My 12 pound puppy. Who, at the time, was chewing on electrical cords under my desk. I saved her life and in exchange lost the use of my spine. I'm really not that selfless; if I had to do it all again, I'd choose electric shock for Georgia and an intact back for me. (Note to crazy dog people: that was a joke.) (Kind of.)

So, yes, after about 3 years of my kids begging us for a dog, my husband and I caved. I was envisioning a small dog that didn't shed and didn't necessarily like people. We wound up with a yellow lab; a dog known for its excessive shedding, love of people and who will most likely tip the scales at 60 pounds when she is full grown. Not exactly the lap dog I had in mind.

For the most part, she's a good dog, but every once in awhile she gets all psycho and reminds me of that crazy pup in Marley and Me. She's lucky she's so cute, because I was not in the market for a new best friend, especially the four legged variety. I'm not saying that I don't like dogs, I'm just saying that nobody has ever confused me with Dr. Doolittle. But now that the kids are back at school, I'm all she's got. And somehow or another the two of us are going to have to learn to communicate.

This afternoon Georgia and I took a long walk to meet the school bus. She was ecstatic to see the kids, but then again Georgia would have been just as happy to see an ax murderer get off the bus. She doesn't play favorites, she loves everybody and everybody loves Georgia (or so Georgia thinks). My daughter was overwhelmed by all the homework she received on the first day of 8th grade. My son came home with a horrible migraine. Georgia, on the other hand, wouldn't know a bad day if it bit her in the face. Sure, she can be a pain in the neck (or the back, as the case may be), but she has already brought our family a lot of joy and something tells me...it will just keep getting better. I'll keep you posted.

Here's to a great school year!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Today is my son's last full day of 4th grade. He is counting down the minutes. Next year, as a 5th grader, he'll be at the top of the school food chain. I asked him if his class toured the new 5th grade wing that is due to open in August. He told me that the school hasn't received "the certificate of loyalty or something like that, so we can't get in." "Do you mean the certificate of occupancy?" to which he replies, "yeah, that". I don't know what getting a certificate of occupancy entails, but I'm quite impressed with myself for coming up with the term, so I nod my head and smirk as if I am totally in the know. I figure I only have another year or two where he believes that I know everything, so why not play it up while I can, right? (Ok, I have one more year. Tops. Probably closer to 6 months.)

Yesterday was my daughter's last day of classes; today she takes her final math exam. A two hour, cumulative, algebra extravaganza. I'd rather gnaw off my own right arm than sit down and take that test. But as I often tell her when she complains about homework and studying, "I already passed 7th grade with flying colors." (and with my right arm intact.) Needless to say, we will be doing a jig at our house this afternoon. Most likely eating ice cream and candy for dinner. And probably having left-overs for breakfast.

And then tomorrow they both go back for a half-day of fun before closing up shop for the summer. No more pencils, no more books, no more teachers' dirty looks. I am a huge fan of the last day of school. I haven't personally celebrated one in a few decades, but I live vicariously through my kids, so the day is still up there on my list of favorites sandwiched between Christmas and Thanksgiving. Who doesn't love the day that marks a twelve week hiatus from studying and school projects, from carpools and after-school sports, from early bed times and early rise times, from dress codes and from routine (and usually means junk food for dinner)?

There's a joyous feeling in the air. We're happy and relaxed and looking forward to a great summer. We don't have much planned; there's plenty of downtime to recharge our batteries and enjoy the lazy, crazy, hazy days of summer. All is good. Until somebody tells me that they're bored....

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Last Word on Idol

It's been so long, I almost forgot how to log on to Reid it and Weep.

So, my family sat down to watch the American Idol finale and within 10 minutes, our decision to abandon the the show earlier in the season was completely validated. I'm afraid American Idol's 15 minutes...is up.

We let the DVR get a good head start, but after fast forwarding through the commercials and the lame songs, we were caught up in no time (much to our dismay). I haven't watched a commercial in years, but it turns out, the Ford Fiesta commercials were the most entertaining part of the evening. I'm tempted to trade in my minivan for one of them babies, but I don't want one with sunflowers, thank you very much.

Alice Cooper can't sing. Was that a problem for anybody besides me? The Bee Gees looked like they were brought back from the dead. Hall and Oates? Really? If there is one singer that I dislike more than Big Mike, it's Michael McDonald. Would it have killed them to book a singer that had a hit after 1985? Maybe they were Simon's favorite singers when he was a teenager and this was a tribute to him? Lame.

Ok, Crystal and Alanis Morisette sounded great together and were a good match-up, but the best they could come up with for Lee was to pair him with Chicago because he's from Chicago? (and technically, he's from outside of Chicago.) Ridiculous.

At one point, I glanced around my den and my husband was doing some work on his laptop, my son was playing games on his iTouch, my daughter was Facebooking on her iMac and I was Googling "How to undo dreadlocks" on my iPad. That would not have happened a few seasons ago. And not because iTouches and iPads weren't around then, but because AI used to entertain us.

I could rant about the abundance of silliness, or about Paula's long-winded tribute to Simon (which was really all about her) or about how Janet Jackson is a has-been, but I won't. And I could go on about how much it annoys me that we sit through 2 hours of bad TV waiting for the announcement and Ryan finally acknowledges the winner with 30 seconds left on the clock, but I won't. Because I'm sick of sounding like a broken record.

(And just for the record, I'm pleased as punch that Lee won. Last night a friend texted me saying that Crystal had it in the bag. I told him that I wouldn't be so sure about that; the popular vote is a funny thing. And so we made a bet: if he won, that is, if Crystal won...I'd have to cook him Julia Child's beef bourguignon and if I won, that is, if Lee won...he'd have to cook me the meal of my choice. I need to get out my cookbooks and pick something delicious. I wonder what Lee would choose? The Idol producers would have me believe that Lee, who hails from Chicago, dines on pan pizza and hot dogs, but I know better.)

And...I could say that I will give it another try next season, but I won't. I'm officially done with Idol. Simon and I know when it's time to leave and it's definitely time to leave. But, I'm hesitant to wish for something new to blog about....because the last time I did that...I didn't like what the universe handed me. But I do miss blogging, so if you have any ideas, send 'em my way. But please don't suggest another television show...I'm turning my TV off for the summer (as soon as Glee wraps up).

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


I'm two hours behind because as of last week, my heart belongs to Glee...and Glee trumps American Idol. I'll take Rachel, Finn and Sue Sylvester singing Madonna over Aaron, Sioban and Big Mike singing inspirational tunes any day of the week. Tonight's episode was brilliant (Glee, not Idol).

Alicia Keyes, Princess of Soul, is tonight's guiding light (on Idol, not Glee) and first up is Casey James singing Don't Stop. Casey is going to have more success in the modeling business than he will in the music business. He is so handsome and has a flair for style. I think his voice is good, his guitar playing is great, but man is this guy stiff. On second thought, I think he'll make a better mannequin than model.

Lee Dewyze is singing The Boxer. I am in love. With Lee. With the song. With the arrangement. With his voice. And even with the sparkles in his hair.

Tim Urban is back to his old tricks. His performance is below par, but when the judges confront him with their negative feedback, Tim smiles and giggles and agrees with Ryan that nothing rattles him.

I Believe I Can Fly is a pageant song, but Aaron Kelly chooses it because he's been singing it since he was 5. My question to the 5-year-old Aaron is what's so wrong with the Itsy Bitsy Spider? I Believe is a big song when you're 5 and a big song when you're 16. But regardless of it's size, it put me to sleep and may have put Aaron in the Bottom 3.

Siobhan Magnus, who is dressed like Tinkerbell, is on my last nerve. This is the third week in a row that she chooses a lame song and then goes on the defense in a 5 minute rebuttal to the judges justifying her ridiculous choice. She can't play that eccentric card anymore; she's used up all her chances. If I want to watch an oddball misfit singing each week, I'll tune into Glee. Oh, wait, that's what I do. Well, alrighty then, I guess I have no use for Siobhan anymore. And quite frankly, I think America will agree.

Michael Lynche is singing about a hero. And he bores me. To tears. He just earned himself a spot in the Bottom 3 with Aaron and Siobhan.

Crystal Bowersox is the judges' favorite tonight. She looks beautiful (in a Medusa sort of way), sounds extraordinary and is choked with emotion by the time she finishes the song. Now that, my friends, is inspirational.

Idol Gives Back, the 2 hour fundraising event of the year, is scheduled for tomorrow night. In the spirit of giving, I'm not sure if they will have the heart to give somebody the heave-ho. But if somebody is packing a suitcase tomorrow night, I prefer that it be Big Mike's duffel bag. America had it right a few weeks ago and the judges went and screwed it up.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Elvis Night...

Adam Lambert has more charisma in his little finger than all of the 9 contestants put together. He's articulate, eloquent, engaging and the best mentor that American Idol has ever delivered. Heat Miser hairdo aside, it's great to see Adam back on Idol.

Ryan reminds us that the one save of the season has been used, so two Idol wannabees will be going home this week. I think we should make it three to celebrate the return of Glee to the Fox airwaves. In fact, let's send them all home and watch Glee three times a week.

That won't be happening, especially with Idol Gives Back right around the corner. With that said, who made it to the bottom three?

Not Crystal Bowersox.

Definitely Andrew Garcia. Adam does not mince words; he tells Andrew that he's boring and he gives him some constructive criticism. Does Andrew listen? No. Will Andrew go home as a result? Yes.

Not Tim Urbain...who is my favorite of the night. Simon says it best..."You went from zero to hero." And could he be any cuter? No, he absolutely could not. He's adorable.

Not Lee Dewyze who sings A Little Less Conversation like a rock star. The judges and Adam still want to see Lee smile more and lighten up, but I disagree...I like him just the way he is...a little mysterious, a little complicated and a little edgy.

Perhaps Aaron Kelly. In his introduction he says that Blue Suede Shoes probably isn't the best fit. Um, then why are you singing it, Aaron? He appears scared out of his freaking mind, so I opt to fast forward through his performance. I can't seem to look at him tonight, so I have to believe that a good chunk of America will feel the same way, and as a result, Aaron will suffer in the vote department.

Based on her performance, Siobhan Magnus should be in the bottom three, but she may get sympathy votes based on her comeback to the judges. After being criticized for seemingly not knowing what type of a singer she is, Siobhan fires back that she doesn't label herself, she just likes to sing. It reminds me of the interview segment in a beauty pageant when Miss America is asked "What quality do you like most about yourself and why?" But in case you haven't heard Randy say it a gajillion times - this is a singing competition (not a beauty pageant).

Unfortunately, Big Mike is going nowhere fast. He puts me to sleep singing about the ghetto. What is up with that nodding thing that he does with his colossol head while sucking in his lower lip? Slowly and methodically he nods his head yes as if someone is asking him a question. Maybe Big Mike hears voices in his ginormous head?

Katie Stevens will not be a top vote getter, but her performance should not land her in the bottom three. But it probably will....because Katie bugs people. The song she sings is called Baby What Do You Want Me to Do? But Katie's performance could be called, "Oh No You Di'int!" She's got some serious attitude going on complete with neck rollin' and head bobbin' and finger waggin'. The vocals are good, but I think America is going to side with Simon who thinks it's loud and annoying. Katie wants to be America's sweetheart, but sadly, she is not.

Casey James will be safe. I think. His performance is just ok, but I think he'll get the votes he needs. Unless, like me, America is getting sick of looking at his stiff neck. He moves like he is wearing an invisible neck brace.

So who is going home? I believe I've given you the Bottom Four and a Half...but if I had to pick two...then my money is on Andrew and Aaron.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

I Didn't Watch Idol This Week...

I don't have a good excuse as to why I didn't watch Idol this week, other than I'm just not that into it. The contestants bore me, the judges bore me and Vanity Fair arrived in the mail last weekend and I had a lot of reading to do.

But last night after watching The Good Wife and reading a lot of emails asking why I didn't blog about Idol, I decided to fast forwarded through the results show (at record speeds). I got a quick recap on everybody's performance and it was enough to give my two cents:
  • Yes, Crystal Bowersox is a great artist, perhaps in a league of her own musically. But there is nothing about her personality that draws me in...and I still have a hard time getting past her teeth. Sure, the veneers are a vast improvement over Hollywood week, but she still kind of skeeves me. I think she needs a good scrubbing from head to toe. I want my Idol to be clean. (and while I am not a fan of the group sing...Crystal cannot lip sync to save her life.)
  • Yes, Lee has a great voice and a great vibe, but I am soooo sick of the judges telling him that he has no confidence on stage. Lee has no confidence period, folks. His fellow contestants confirmed it...he doubts himself after every performance. That's his personality. The judges are constantly telling the Idols to be true to themselves...well, Lee is 100% true to himself; he is void of an ego. Unlike that big doofus Mike whose ego is bigger than his enormous body.
  • Casey James is more than eye candy...he can actually sing. But he's awkward and goofy and I just don't enjoy watching him. This from a girl who likes candy - both the mouth and eye varieties. He's got a neck the size of a giraffe's - not that there is anything wrong with that - but it's just uncomfortable to watch. Stiff. The guy is way too stiff.
  • Katie, Tim and Aaron are swell, but they lack originality. They all belong on the Disney Chanel, not Fox.
  • And what those three lack in originality, Siobhan makes up for in leaps and bounds. She's ok when she sings, but when she opens her mouth to actually speak and try to make sense? Yeah, no, she completely loses me. Every time.
  • The only thing that Andrew has going for him is that he's Lee's friend and roommate. So, for Lee's sake, I'm ok with him sticking around, but he brings nothing to the party.
As a group, they are the most unappealing Top Ten that Idol has ever showcased. I'm not just talking singing talent, I'm talking personality and charisma. I don't think any of them have what it takes to become a pop star.

So...Ryan starts the show by warning us to brace ourselves for a surprise or two. Whatever. Obviously one of the judges' favorites is the bottom vote-getter and surely they are going to exercise their right to save. Really? Was that so hard to predict? You know who I want to go home with week? Kara. But that's not going to happen.

So let's talk about Mike. The producers have been molding Mike into their teddybear since the moment his wife had her first contraction. By the time she was 9 millimeters dilated, the powers-that-be decided Mike had a good story. But I'm not sure America is buying it and based on this week's vote...clearly the producers missed the boat.

He is not nearly as charming as they think he is. Did you see his face when it became clear that he had received the lowest number of votes? Nothing likable about that face or that body language. In fact, he might have taken a lesson from fellow contestant Tim and freaking smiled! But he did not. At all. He looked pissed and if his fat biceps could have spoken, I think they would have said, "How dare you not vote for me, America!"

Even after Simon told Fat Mike that he would be around another week, his body language didn't say, "I am humbled, thank you for this opportunity. This is great!" it said, "Damn straight I'll be around another week. I deserve to be here." At least, that's how I translated the fist pumping and and chest thumping.

And speaking of body language, I didn't get the impression that the other Idols were totally overjoyed that Mike got the nod. There is not a lot of love between the Idols. I notice it each week when one of them learns that they are safe and returns to the couches. They don't high five one another or give each other hugs or words of encouragement. There is no sign of a strong group dynamic. (Which surely makes filming those Ford commercials an especially painful process.) I've noticed it on the judges' table, as well. Granted, Kara would sit on Simon's lap if they let her, but she rarely, if ever, has an exchange with Ellen (and visa versa). I'm just not feeling the love this season. Maybe Paula was the glue that held them all together.

Anyway, Mike might be around for another week, but I'm not sure I will be....

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Usher is in the House

It's Soul and R&B night and Usher is here to mentor the Idols. He asks their permission to be brutally honest. He tells them he wants to help them, but I have a sneaking suspicion that Usher only really wants to help Usher.

The camera pans the audience where we find Usher and his bodyguard chewing gum. What's up with the mentors and their love of gum this season? Regardless, I'm so glad that the bodyguard is there because the teens sitting behind Usher look menacing. Not.

First up - Siobhan Magnus. She's singing Though the Fire and after hearing her sing, Usher comments on her fashion sense (or lack thereof). And now that I'm seeing her on the big stage, I'm thinking that Usher didn't quite drive that point home. She looks a little bit like Hermes, the great messenger of the gods. He wore similar boots, but his had wings on them so he could fly. Siobhan is not flying, she is dying. This is the worst I've ever seen (or heard) her. Randy likes the way she looks. Of course he does.

There's a new Idol twist this week...after the commercial break the camera follows the Idol wannabees backstage after hearing their critique from the esteemed panel of judges. We see Siobhan making a bee-line for the snack table to drown her sorrows. And Big Mike is right behind her. Go figure.

Casey James is up next and he's singing I'm Coming. Casey looks good (no need for Usher to help with the fashion) and sounds good.

Usher tells Big Mike how to project and connect with the audience. I'm getting the feeling that Usher hasn't watched American Idol this season. And I'm getting the feeling that Usher is quite pleased with himself. There is not a humble bone in this man's body. As for Mike, he can project all he wants, bottom line is that this song, Ready for Love, is putting me to sleep. B-o-r-i-n-g.

Didi Benami is having a breakdown. So what else is new? She's always crying about something. Tonight it's the song What Becomes of the Broken Hearted that puts her over the edge. Usher thinks the audience will like that fact that she wears her heart on her sleeve. Present company excluded. Didi takes the stage and gives us all a good reason to cry. Horrible performance. She looks bad, she sounds bad, she is bad.

Tim Urban is singing Sweet Love and Usher asks Tim to sing it to him as if Usher is the person that Tim is in love with...um...awkward much? It seems that Usher is all about making the connection. So, Tim looks into Usher's eyes and sings, "With all my heart I love you baby..." Really, really awkward. And a lot of good it does, because when Tim gets up on stage, his performance is an abomination.
  • Randy says he sounds like a singing waiter with no vibe and no swagger. This might be the best critique Randy's given all season.
  • Ellen says that he moves as if he is sneaking into a bedroom. And she's spot on.
  • Kara thinks it's a cross between Broadway and Vegas. And she, too, is spot on.
  • And Simon says the reason Tim laughs all the time is because it doesn't matter what the judges say, he'll be back next week.
And he should be...for comedic purposes.

Andrew Garcia tells Usher that he's singing Chris Brown's Forever. Finally. Finally, Andrew redeems himself.
  • Yo, yo, yo...lots of yo's....and then an "Andrew is Back!" from Randy.
  • Ellen says it is a strong performance.
  • Kara says it's one great leap in the right direction.
  • And Simon, while he likes the performance, tells Andrew he is boring and needs to work on getting a personality.
Enter, stage left, Andrew's mother to the rescue. (Usher would have his hands full trying to talk fashion with Mrs. Garcia.) She tells Simon that Andrew is not boring and I think Andrew is about to have a heart attack as he pleads with his mama to be nice.

Katie Stevens tells Usher that she met him once at Epcot, but his gum-chewing bodyguard wouldn't let her take a picture. Katie sings Chain of Fools and does a fine job, but she's an old fart trapped in a teenage body.

As soon as I hear that Lee Dewyze is going to sing Treat Her Like a Lady, I know that we are in for a treat. This is by far the best of the evening. He sounds great, he looks great. He's my fave, for sure. Simon tells him to go back and watch the performance because this is the night his life may have changed forever. Now that is some serious kudos.

Even Crystal couldn't surpass Lee tonight. She comes close, but no cigar. She's singing Midnight Train to Georgia behind the piano instead of a guitar. She looks good and sounds good, but I think she is a little uncomfortable in stilettos behind a piano. She's better barefoot and strumming a guitar.

And the last person to let Usher show us how great he (Usher) is, is Aaron Kelly. He sings Ain't No Sunshine and it ain't nothing special. But there's no chance he's going any where this week.

Ok, roll the tape. I'm going to choose one or two words that sum up the performance.

1) Sioban: bizarre
2) Casey: suave
3) Mike: Shrek
4) Didi: bottom three
5) Tim: super freak
6) Andrew: redeemed
7) Katie: contrived
8)Lee: American Idol
9) Crystal: oozes talent
10) Aaron: just ok

Bottom Three: Didi, Tim and Katie. Who's going home? My money is on Didi. And I bet you anything....she cries.