Saturday, May 31, 2008

That's 500 slow trots around the bases

Manny hit his 500th career home run tonight!

Manny is the 24th Major Leaguer to reach the milestone, and the third to do so in a Red Sox uniform (joining Ted Williams and Jimmie Foxx).

Friday, May 30, 2008


Looks like I picked the wrong week to stop sweating profusely. Believe it or not, but our air-conditioner is still not working. Which is no surprise when the A/C company won't make an effort to get it fixed.
You might remember that they came out last Wednesday and Friday, deduced a problem, told us we were screwed for Memorial Day weekend and left with a promise to put in a call to the warranty group for approval of new parts and repairs. The days came and went, and I called and called and called and called to figure out what was taking so long, and only after the warranty group threatened to use another company did the original one step up yesterday and put in a call, six days later.
Which means, of course, that even if the new unit comes today (more likely tomorrow, I'm guessing), it will be Monday at the earliest before it's installed, and I'm betting I'll have to make some more calls to get the work done ASAP.
Hey, it's only been 90 degrees almost all week, and supposed to be hotter and muggier all weekend, so what's the big deal? Besides going to bed with so many fans pointed at us that GM asked us to be subjects for wind tunnel tests. Val's amazingly streamlined, apparently.
Thankfully, on Wednesday a cold front moved through that made it cloudy and more comfortable, so much so that I had the windows open all afternoon and evening and it almost got downright cool. Otherwise, it's been between 78 and 82 degrees in the house, and when we have to use the dryer it gets even hotter. If I hang up any clothes over the laundry while the dryer's running they smell musty like they've been outside for three days after it rained, that's how hot and muggy it gets. Half my paycheck goes to buy Fabreze. (The other half goes for gas, of course.)
Cooking is even worse. Any time the stove or oven is used, the kitchen is at least 90 degrees, and the overhead fan isn't going to help any. We've resorted to using the microwave or getting takeout this week.
I'm not saying that this is frustrating, but a quote from Arnold in "Conan the Barbarian" comes to mind: "Crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentation of women."
What was infuriating is that when I would call the A/C company, the women would blow me off, telling me that they'd call when the parts were in. They never remembered my name or claim, and I had to repeatedly tell them that no, you have to call the warranty group first to get approval, and they'd assure me it would be done that day. And the next. And the next. And the next. (The warranty group assures me that this company is rated high in customer satisfaction. I think I'll be bringing down that rating a little bit after filing a formal complaint.)
Today we're anticipating plenty of hotness and we need laundry done, so we'll be heading to my in-laws' for air-conditioning and dinner. I'm not sure how anyone survived living in the South without A/C back in the day, or am I just spoiled?

Thursday, May 29, 2008


There have been very few decent Vents from the Atlanta paper the last few months, and it's getting depressing. This is the first I've posted in two months, so there are quite a few old ones:

- Since its Mothers Day weekend, I would like to thank my Mother for making me a good decision maker. She always said find me a switch, and it better be a good one!

- There is a secret society of really stupid people. There secret sign is ball caps turned backwards.

- People with their pants hanging to their ankles are much dumber than people with their hats turned backwards.

- The new Delta pre-flight video can’t be authentic. Absent is the screaming baby and the idiot trying to cram an oversized suitcase into the overhead compartment.

- We need to look at how much the US charges the oil producing countries for food. Let them try growing tomatoes in sand.

- To say doing jail time for driving without a license unfairly targets illegal immigrants, is like saying doing jail time for robbing a bank unfairly targets bank robbers.

- For those of you who want government health care, I have compiled a list of things government does well:

- In another beautiful example of irony, the bill that bans the sale of pot-flavored candy to minors was pushed through the legislature by a senator named Stoner.

- I'm sure everybody knows the difference between a BMW and a Porcupine. Porcupine's pricks are on the outside.

- The price of gas is too much when it costs more to go to work than you get paid.

- As I was filling my gas tank last night I thought to myself, "I sure would have been nice if the pump would have at least kissed me first"

- Why is it that some people can walk around a store for hours with a shopping cart, but when they get out to their car they can't walk ten feet to put the cart away.

- I don't understand smokers who hold the cigarette outside of their window while in the car. If you don't like the smell of cigarettes, why do you smoke? [Jeff note: After eating sour cream & onion chips, I put my face out the window to prevent bad breath.]

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Double trips

One of the fun things about going to baseball games is the chance to see something few ever get to in person, such as a perfect game. Cleveland fans have gotten to experience two rare plays in the span of two weeks.
After pulling off the 14th triple play in Major League history, last night the Indians stole three bases on the same play for the first time since 1987, and it was purely accidental, as the AP explains:
With the bases loaded and Ben Francisco batting, White Sox pitcher Ehren Wasserman faked a throw to third and threw to first, which caught Jamey Carroll off the bag. First baseman Paul Konerko got Carroll in a brief rundown. David Dellucci broke from third and Konerko's throw to catcher Toby Hall was in the dirt, allowing Dellucci to score. Dellucci, Carroll and Grady Sizemore, who was on second when the play began, were given stolen bases.
Meanwhile, over and up in Seattle, the Red Sox lost in the bottom of the ninth, and are once again a half-game behind Tampa Bay (The Rays! Seriously!) in the AL East. After winning seven straight at Fenway the Sox have dropped five of six on a West Coast swing to Oakland and Seattle. Can we come back home again, pretty please?
Even Manny hitting his 499th career homer was overshadowed by Dice-K leaving in the fifth with an injury. Not good times.


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Memorial Day weekend

I trust everyone enjoyed their long weekend, or at least found time to see family, enjoy a favorite activity, and eat heartily? Well, eating heartily is a favorite activity of mine, but you know what I mean.

It was a busy holiday for Team Valfrey, with all of my immediate family making pilgrimages from around the South back to the family's ancient homestead. Some drove in personal carriages, others flew in giant magical metal birds from the sky.

No, I have no clue what that means, and there's no chance I can extend that further.

The only hiccup was the lack of air-conditioning at Valfrey Estates, which wasn't as bad as anticipated. Instead of half the family staying with us, they spread out to hotels and Nana's, instead of spending much of the weekend making fun of our DVR recordings.

I told you last week that the A/C was on the fritz, but when the guys came back on Friday to fix it they found out that the compressor was bad, meaning it will be this week before it's repaired. Just as high temperatures hit 90 for the first time and stretched into this week. No matter how many windows we open for ventilation or place fans in rooms to cool us off, the house is stuffy and hot.

And yet, Sunday everyone plus my father-and-sister-in-law came over for a cookout and were good sports about the heat. Amazing what free food will do as an incentive, eh?

Let's rewind:

Friday, Dad flew in, and with Nana we all dined at Olive Garden, where I'm told we're family. Family who has to pay the entire check. Some family.

Saturday, me, Val, and Dad drove two hours east to the Tennessee River and the Shiloh Civil War Battlefield. Dad and I have been several times, but Val hadn't been there in a long while,. It was good timing, since being Memorial Day volunteers in full uniform set up tables, tents and automobiles from every war since America's founding. (Which, for public school grads, was NOT a result of Michael Jordan winning a game of HORSE with Napoleon.)

The volunteers led a firing exhibition as well, which is always cool for the "big badda boom" factor of seeing a musket fired, smoke billow and enough noise to drown out my snoring and let Val get some sleep.

It was stinking hot, but we managed to drive around the battlefield and stop at key points, accidentally learning some new things, climbing on cannons for photos and trying not to start new battles with carloads of slowpokes from Missouri.

Saturday night the rest of my fam hung out at Nana's Matriarchal Abode while Val and I attended the quadri-annual gathering of her mom's side of the family for more good food, gossip and old stories. Then I had to go to work. It was a night of news unlike any other, but then again, you could say that about every newscast.

Sunday, with Mom and Stephanie watching Nate, the rest of us went to the theater to see the new "Indiana Jones" flick, which I'll review later, holding my nose much of the time and shaking my head at how the term "inter-dimensional" found its way into an Indy movie. What, no good scripts about the Bermuda Triangle were available?

Afterwards, with temperatures only 92 degrees, sunny and no wind at all, why not head to a house without A/C where we're lighting food on fire? For the occasion Dad bought us a grill, the very important and final piece lacking in making Valfrey Estates a real home. It may take a few more cookouts to figure out how not to singe my eyebrows, however.

Thankfully I also bought a big long spatula for Dad to use as the braver of the two of us, since the grease dripping from the burgers would ignite on the gas below and send fire billowing throughout my back porch. Still, everyone seemed to enjoy their well-done and extremely-well-done burgers, chicken and hot dogs, and Natalie bought the boys a slip-and-slide so they spent their time soaking wet in the backyard.

I'm not saying it was hot, but good thing Val and I didn't buy any leather furniture or everyone would still be in our living room stuck to the seats.

By Monday morning it was time to let everyone go home, so after a brunch at Perkins everyone climbed back into their preferred transportation and headed out of Memphis, to return next time when our home is cooler, I hope. Unless they're back in, say, to pick a random month, January, and our heat is broken, and it's too cold, which is highly likely.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Fresh pickings

The latest good stories from Fox News' Political Grapevine, as seen on Special Report With Brit Hume:

- For someone who is supposed to be our Obamessiah, he sure has a way of avoiding what he thinks about issues. He claimed that he didn’t know anything about what his “staff” wrote in a 1996 campaign questionnaire while running for the Illinois senate, in which he took ultraliberal positions on abortion, the death penalty and gun control. But the Politico newspaper reports he was actually interviewed by the questionnaire's sponsors and even sent them an amended copy with his own handwritten notes on it.

- I don't mind so much that members of the House of Representatives can lease whatever vehicle they want on taxpayer dollars, but Democrat Charlie Rangel's justification defies explanation or understanding of normal Americans:
"When I'm in New York, my car is my office. I use it to conduct congressional business. It really pleases me that [my constituents] appreciate driving in a comfortable car, especially the senior citizens. "I could probably find something for... one of those red cars and then I think my constituents would say, 'With all the money that he gets, this is the respect he shows us?'"

- How to rid your city of a gang problem? Follow D.C.’s lead and stop using the term “gang” altogether! Bang! Solved!

- On the global warming hoax bulletin board:

There are strong indications that much of the world may soon experience a decrease in surface temperatures.

World sea ice melting? Not so much.

According to the National Climatic Data Center, April 2008 was the coldest April in 11 years.

Even though global temperatures have basically flattened out in the last 10 years — and one scientific study predicts global cooling over the next decade — Prince Charles says humans have only 18 months to reverse climate change or disaster will strike. He proposes a $30 billion program that may or may not affect climate change.

- More than 200 students and faculty at Furman University are protesting President Bush's planned commencement address next week. But many students are upset with the protesters. The senior class voted unanimously in favor of the president's address. One student tells the Greenville News that it is the faculty response that has taken away from the honor.

- Recession schmession, the American economy as the most competitive for the 15th straight year.

- Twelve-term Pennsylvania Democratic Congressman Paul Kanjorski was caught on video being honest, for which of course he’s refusing, since he admitted that Democrats deliberately misled voters that they would end the Iraq war to win the 2006 midterm elections.

- Over in Colorado, the faculty won’t win any awards for diversity of thought. According to one professor's analysis, the 800-strong faculty includes just 32 Republicans. Jeepers, you could find more GOPers in NARAL than that.

- While anti-Semitism flourishes in the Middle East and Europe, and racial genocide is underway in Africa, the United Nations has decided it needs to investigate racism in America.

- Why did Obama get beaten so bad in Kentucky last week? It’s all Fox News’ fault.

- Iowa Democratic Senator Tom Harkin says that John McCain's military background makes him dangerous: "He comes from a long line of just military people, so I think his whole world view, his life view, has been shaped from a military viewpoint and he has a hard time thinking beyond that and I think he's trapped in that. And I think that can be pretty dangerous." In case you’re wondering, yes, he thought Kerry’s Vietnam service was admirable, moral and above reproach.

- Hollyweird Lefties like to pretend that their free speech is being tortured by Chimpy McBushitler and his cronies, but remain oddly silent when over in France, one of their own is actually prosecuted for politically incorrect speech. Save Brigitte Bardot!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Sweep! Times Two!

To say that the Red Sox seven-game homestand was successful would be understating the case. With a three-game sweep of the Brew Crew and a four-game wipeout of the Royals, Francona's bunch are 2 1/2 games up in first place, 7 1/2 up on the last-place dang Yanks. Not that I'm getting cocky. After all, the Sox were up 14 games last summer before the lead dwindled to two and they recovered. To win the World Series. Their second in four seasons. In case you forgot.
During the stretch, Jon Lester tossed a no-hitter, rookie Justin Masterson and former Cy Young winner Bartolo Colon were called up from Triple-A Pawtucket and picked up Ws, and in a 11-8 win last night Dice-K improved to 8-0 despite walking six and throwing two wild pitches when J.D. Drew and Mike Lowell each hit grand slams, becoming the first Red Sox players to hit grand slams in the same game at Fenway Park since Tony Armas and Bill Buckner did it Aug. 7, 1984. I'm sure you all remember that fondly. I was eight. Not so much.
Starting tonight, a tour of the West Coast, starting with Oakland.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

In my favor

I'm not sure which event shocked me more Wednesday night, that David Cook beat little Archuleta by 12 MILLION VOTES, or that Bartolo Colon (who was just 7-13 with a 5.72 ERA in 29 games the past two seasons) won his first start with the Red Sox. Instead of thinking too much about either, I'll accept the results as the heavens being in my favor, and move on.

On the home front, Val and I are working to spruce up Valfrey Estates for the much-anticipated visit by my family this Memorial Day weekend, in which most will see our new house for the first time in person. Can Team Valfrey clean, organize and finish all projects by Saturday? Doubtful. But I know we'll be forgiven since we had so much work to do remodeling. I'll also throw in a couple of excuses, such as our A/C on the fritz (not to mention it's finale week on Idol and Dancing with the Stars so no work is done between 7 and 10).

I called up the home warranty people the other day because our A/C is freezing up, literally. When we turn it on there's ice an inch thick built up around the connections, inside and out, and when we turn the whole thing off to defrost after an hour you can hear chunks falling in the vents. I'm hoping the old homeowners just never refilled the Freon and the A/C guys will have us back up and cool by this afternoon, because keeping open all the windows to create air flow may have been quaint in 1903, but we have allergies!

We tackled our first Martha Stewart-ish HGTV-type project last night. Val got to use her fabric and foam to cover her hope chest as a bench seat for our guests, and I got to use our handy-dandy new electric staple/nail gun, which rocked my world with every THUNK!

Today I'll pull out the caulking gun, because those plastic vanity/bath trim liners don't stick worth squat, so it's time for the backup option so that the space between the bath and kitchen counters and the wall won't look so daggum awful.

Or we'll rely on my family not caring and just being happy for us and our new house. Please?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Your 5:30 AM update

I take a couple of days off blogging and all heck breaks loose! Well, I mean, in a good way, what with Red Sox young gun Jon Lester throwing a no-hitter on Monday night. Lester, who missed most of last season recovering from cancer, blanked the Royals, walking just two, for the 18th no-no in Sox history. I, of course, didn't see it, since both Val and I had our phones off after seeing "Prince Caspian" that afternoon, while both of our Dads tried to call and tells us to turn to ESPN pronto. Crud.

Even more impressive than Lester is that this was the fourth no-no that Jason Varitek has caught behind the plate, a record for catchers. I'm beginning to think that he could make a case for the Hall of Fame, and not just because he's my favorite Red Sox and I have a jersey with his name and number on it. Think about it, he's been the captain of a team that won two World Series, and look at the four players who tossed no-hitters by following his lead: Human seesaw Hideo Nomo, notorious head case Derek Lowe, and two rookies, Clay Buchholz and now Lester. Varitek would have five to his credit if Curt Schilling didn't shake him off with two outs in the ninth last summer only to see a hit rocket into the outfield to break up a certain no-hitter.

Meanwhile, the dang Yanks are under .500 and talk this week has been of Jason Giambi's "good luck thong," a gold number with flames, that he has shared with teammates to break out of slumps. Ick.

Yesterday was all about my teeth, once again. And thanks but no thanks to anyone who didn't tell me that getting fillings meant more drilling! I had two to get, so they numbed me up something good again, and apparently I have a small mouth because it was never wide enough for the dentist, who every fifteen seconds would say, "open wider. More. Even more." I kept my eyes closed the entire time, since whenever I opened them I had two faces staring at me from six inches away, the dentist and her assistant, who's job was to keep sucking whatever was being drilled out of my mouth, and spritz water to swish around, which mostly just collected in the back of my throat and made it tough to breathe. But I couldn't swallow, lest I close my mouth with the drill still going and end up with an accidental root canal. Hmm, maybe there's something to this "floss" and "brushing" thing as preventative care, eh? But at least, in the end, after a few hours the numbness wore off and besides having to forgo awesome crunchy foods for a day there wasn't any lingering pain or problems. And now y'all can stop having to read about my teeth.

In case you hadn't noticed, and judging by the dwindling ratings many of you haven't, the Idol finale is tonight, and if the judges have their way little Archy will be crowned the champion. But in the tradition of most past winners, he will sell fewer albums and win fewer awards than runners-up. I would be willing to wager a pretty penny that in the end, Cook will easily sell more albums and have more hits than the kid the Idol producers are pushing as their champion.
Was anyone else as perplexed as Val and I last night when Simon actually criticized Cook for not making his "winning song" a mushy ballad? Archy, of course, obliged Simon's wishes, and sang his "winning song" the same as every other previous winner, almost all of which I can't remember ever since Kelly belted out "A Moment Like This" after season one. Wouldn't it be nice to have something a little bit different? A teeny tiny more original? I guess not. So Archy will win tonight, the show will be stretched an hour-and-a-half too long, and we'll forget about him by November.

Over on "Dancing With the Stars," no such disappointment. Kristi Yamagouchi has been the best all season, and deservedly takes home the mirror-ball trophy. In Monday's top three show, I enjoyed the idea of the dance-off, all three having to dance a cha-cha back-to-back-back for comparison's sake. The finale was stretched way, way out, and the only amusing part was watching Usher perform twice and lip sync so badly that by the second time the camera only showed him in a wide shot to prevent the obviousness that he barely even tried to match the audio track.

Ouch. In last week's Sporting News there's a fan vs. writers poll for the next year, and one of the questions asks, "Memphis Tigers vs. Memphis Grizzlies: Who will win more games." Hopefully that says more about Coach Cal's success with the college kids than the futility of the pros. Which will continue, since once again the ping-pong balls didn't fall our way in last night's NBA draft lottery and the Griz will pick fifth. There's no one out there to save a team with the fifth pick. Notta. Zilch. Zero.

Who won the lottery? The Chicago Bulls. Who had a 1.7 percent chance of getting the top pick. And just who is projected as the No. 1 prospect? Derrick Rose, former Memphis Tiger, who just happens to be from Chicago. No, it's not rigged at all.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Fences, Red Sox, confusing shows

- Saturday was an uneventful end to my work at this year's Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, with the only complaint being that while I was back at the studio Thursday and Friday the folks downtown were treated to free barbecue. Saturday night? Notta. Zilch. Zip. So I had to part the crowds for an $8 sandwich plate at the Corky's stand. Competing teams aren't allowed to give the public food, probably for fear of people getting sick and suing the city.

Reason No. 1,243 to lose weight and get in shape: After breaking down the equipment and on the way out at 11:30 p.m., officials had closed and locked the gate at the exit. Which is at the top of the bluff. To call it a steep climb is to insult the bluff. Instead of finding someone to open the gate (unlikely) or walking a mile down Riverside Drive to the Beale Street exit, the other guys decided climbing over the fence would be easy enough. Riiiigghhhht. After climbing up the stone staircase we had to climb over a wire fence ten feet above the ground. Most made it easy, but a couple of guys were getting snagged or landing on the trash can on the other side.

Me? Ready to walk down and try the walk down the street option.

My size 14 shoes were not going to fit in the fence holes, and my legs were shaky after climbing that bluff, so getting up and over the fence wasn't going so well. That's when morning floor director James realized that part of the fence was held closed by a few pieces of wire. Evening floor director carries around a belt worthy of Batman, and used pliers to twist open the wires and open the gate. All I had to do was jump four feet down from the stone staircase and walk out. Piece of cake.

- Up in Boston, the Red Sox drank the Brewers' milkshake with a weekend sweep. As a result, Francona's boys are back up a game in the AL East thanks to the Cardinals beating Tampa in two-of-three, so thanks to my wife and it's a win-win for Team Valfrey!

- Meanwhile, on network television, two of my favorites, "Lost" and "Battlestar Galactica," are weirder than ever and producing far more questions than answers. I need a Cliff's Notes to follow the plots. BG is worse, since at least it's easier to try and predict where the show's going. With BG I have no clue who's doing what, to or with whom, or why. I can't even figure out when Sharon became commonly called Athena. On "Lost," what's bugging me is that in the flash-forwards, the Oceanic 6 are so daggum miserable. How am I supposed to root for anyone to get off the island knowing that? And don't they dare kill of Desmond. If he isn't reunited with Penny, so help me and Val, we will totally threaten to quit watching!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Awesome links of the day

A man who dressed up as Darth Vader, wearing a garbage bag for a cape, assaulted the founders of a group calling itself the Jedi church. (Courtesy Scott, who finds prefers a blaster at his side to hokey religions.)

For the little kids in grown-ups who have yet to grow up, good news is on the horizon: A double helping of nostalgia will soon be making its way to screens both big and small. Kid-friendly TV series Fraggle Rock and The Electric Company are being steamrolled back into production, the former in a live-action musical film, and the latter in an updated run on PBS. (Thanks to Heather for the heads-up.)

An Australian man has been fined after buckling in a case of beer with a seat belt but leaving a 5-year-old child to sit on the car's floor. (Courtesy common sense.)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Great grab! High five!

I know my wife and many others hate Manny Ramirez, but I love the guy.

The other night in Baltimore Manny makes a wicked awesome running catch in left field, high fives a fan as he runs up to the wall, and then still gets the ball back to the infield to double off the runner at first.

The dugout's reaction watching it at the end is just as priceless.

The whole highlight is here.

And no, this does not make up for losing four in a row, the last two to the stinkin' Orioles.

UPDATE 12:05 a.m. - Meanwhile, apparently the dang Yanks have more to worry about than someone burying a David Ortiz jersey in their new stadium, judging by the evidence of mice and rats found in stadium food areas. And no, by "mice and rats" I don't mean "Hank Steinbrenner and A-Rod."

David vs. David

Syesha's out, and the Davids are pitted against one another in final combat a la Spock and Kirk!

Or they'll sing it out. Whatever. We'll be rooting for Cook.

Meanwhile, this week is the Memphis In May International Barbecue Cooking Contest. Unlike last year I'm not out at Tom Lee Park all week, which looks to be great for my asthma/allergies. Instead, I helped set up Wednesday and I'll cover the 9p special Saturday night. In between I'll gladly watch from the control room and let someone else deal with the crowds, smoke, mosquitoes and drunks.

Not that I won't gorge myself on BBQ when I'm there. Really, it's the most awesome food on the planet.

Ironically (?), MIM is honoring Turkey this year, which is majority Muslim, and thus the vast numbers of Turks won't eat pork on religious grounds. Guess they won't be judging the contest here, eh?

Me? I say if pigs are unclean, I don't want to be clean. This BBQ is so good as to transcend religious beliefs. Eat more pork!

Idol semifinals

The top three each sang three songs this week, one chosen by a judge, one of their own and the last selected by the show's producers.
ARCHY - During the song Paula chose for him, "And So It Goes" by Billy Joel, I was more interested in watching the spaghetti turning on the fork on my dinner plate. Take two, "With You" by Chris Brown, we learn that not only can he not sing upbeat songs, he can't even come close to an R&B style, either. Take three, "Longer" by Dan Fogelberg, and he'd better be glad it was last because it was his best, a song made for him.
SYESHA - She's a stage performer and proud of it. Will people choose someone clearly intended for Broadway as a pop icon? I have to admit, she has a darn good chance now. Tonight she had three good songs, by Alicia Keys, "Fever" where she even pulled out a chair as a prop (thankfully no water splashing a la "Flashdance") and some song from the "Happy Feet" soundtrack, all good fits for her style. Weirdly, though, the judges trashed her third song, even though I thought it was pretty darn good, which will not cool internet talk of the judges and producers trying to influence the results with a David-David finale. It's true that I don't think she has a huge booming voice like, say, Tamyra or Lakeisha in years past, but she's clearly better suited for stardom than Archuletta.
COOK - A typical Cook night, a couple of rock ballads, half a rocking song, half too slow to start. The latter was his choice, Switchfoot's "Dare You to Move," which he had just gotten going when his minute-and-a-half was up and left the audience wanting more. Dude, stop with the 45 second slow intros already. Not only that, when he does these slow build-ups his voice has a tendency to weaken, leaving him iffy for tonight's results show. Love Simon's choice, a Roberta Flack song, clearly hoping Cook would pull a "Hello" and change the arrangement awesomely. David did not do that, but it was still strong.
Should get the boot: Archuletta. Seriously, what's with all the screaming over a kid with mediocre talent and no personality?
Meanwhile, on Dancing with the Stars, Marissa's run is over, as it should be, leaving Kristi, Jason and Christian in the finale next week. Does it matter who wins? Probably not.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

That's a duck hook

Found two golf balls while mowing the backyard today. That's not much, but the where is a doozy. Both were between the tree and house by our bedroom on the other side of the patio. One was even against the house.

This is a photo from earlier this spring showing the back of the house, and where the tree is at. Number 14 fairway runs from left to right behind the photographer.

Which means, either they aimed at our house from directly across the fairway, or they hooked it so much that they bounced off the roof of the patio and behind the tree. No wonder they didn't retrieve the balls, who'd want to admit to those shots!


It's Dancing With the Stars! (Because the Sox just lost two in a row to the stinkin' Twins, and that's all I'm saying about that.)

The final four meant the return of Len's Masterclass segment, the second-best regular bit behind DanceCenter. Hilarious stuff watching him interact with the dancers. He introduces them all to one new step to see how they do, which reminds me of soccer camp. One summer the coaches taught us some ball tricks and told us that for any trick used in the afternoon game that a point would be added to the team's final score. Surprisingly I was the only player to try one, and though it was ultimately unsuccessful they awarded me the point and my team won by one.

Jason & Edyta - Their foxtrot was graceful, cute, entertaining. Jason posed too much in the paso doble and I didn't feel it very powerful. It was missing some oomph, and I don't mean the sound he makes spinning Edyta around half the time. Speaking of which, Val and I thought they accidentally did a lift, but the judges were silent on the issue.

Marissa & Tony - Their quickstep was enjoyable, though I didn't notice what Bruno did, that they missed a step. For the rumba, I know it's supposed to be slow, but to me that was slow-motion. Boresville.

Christian & Cheryl - Last week Val and I felt his scores were artificially inflated, but this week he actually deserved decent numbers. It's weird, but I think the injury to his left arm did him good, because now he has to focus on being technically good instead of just smiling all the time and letting Cheryl do all the work.

Kristi & Mark - Kristi really should be worried. By this time voters start going with the "most improved," not "most outstanding." I think she would have been better served with a different partner. Mark's way too happy to be on TV. If the Gooch was paired with, say, Tony, Jonathan or even Derrek she would have been even more proficient. Her dances tonight were efficient, but you don't win by being efficient, you win by drawing in the audience, and I felt nothing. In their second dance, the Jive, Mark's feet were flailing spastically so much to be distracting from Kristi, who looked stiff by comparison.

Going home? Marissa, if talent is the yardstick, which it's not. Is Kristi popular enough?

Just because

- Every time I successfully complete a transaction at the self-scanner at a store, I feel like the all-seeing clerk should give me an "atta boy" as I walk out.

- This is the niftiest advertising I've seen in a while: An Alabama entrepreneur has developed a way to make foam clouds shaped like corporate logos that float hundreds of feet into the air. (Click the link to see a picture.)

- You thought you were hot stuff as a kid long jumping into the sand or running around the track. I mean, I was. Bonnie Richardson thinks you're a wuss. Richardson won the Texas 1A team title all by herself. Heavens to mergatroids! Richardson was the only Rochelle High School athlete to qualify for the state meet, where she won the high jump, placed second in long jump, third in discus and then laced on her running shoes to win the 200 meters and finished second in the 100 meters. Richardson, a junior, earned a total of 42 team points to edge team runner-up Chilton (36). Rules limit a contestant to five events, so think of how big of a rout she would have won if she could have kept going!

- Headline of the day: "Chelsea says HIllary would be 'better' president than father." - Well, yeah, but one is impossible and the other involves surgery.

- Oh Tony, oh no:

- This is a funny mass email my sis-in-law Cheryl sent along, and I don't care if it's all true or not, it's hilarious.
Top 10 comments made by sports commentators that they would like to take back:

1. Weightlifting commentator at the women's Olympic Snatch and Jerk Event: "This is Gregoriava from Bulgaria. I saw her snatch this morning during her warm up, and it was amazing!"

2. Ted Walsh, horse racing commentator: "This is really a lovely horse, and I speak from personal experience since I once mounted her mother."

3. Grand Prix Race announcer: "The lead car is absolutely, truly unique, except for the one behind it which is exactly identical to the one front of the similar one in back."

4. Greg Norman, pro golfer: "I owe a lot to my parents, especially my mother and father."

5. Ringside boxing analyst: "Sure there have been injuries and evens some deaths in boxing -- but none of them really that serious."

6. Baseball announcer: "If history repeats itself, I should think we can expect the same thing again."

7. Basketball analyst: "He dribbles a lot and the opposition doesn't like it. In fact you can see it all over their faces."

8. At a trophy ceremony, BBC TV boat race 1988: "Ah, isn't that nice, the wife of the Cambridge president is hugging the cox of the Oxford crew."

9. Metro Radio, college football: "Julian Dicks is everywhere. It's like they've got eleven Dicks on the field."

10. U.S. Open TV commentator: "One of the reasons Arnie Palmer is playing so well is that, before each final round, his wife takes out his balls and kisses them. ... Oh, my God, what have I just said?"

- It's not so much the kid sucking on an empty beer bottle at the Chattanooga Lookouts game, it's that frackin' fauxhawk hairdo that gets me.

Monday, May 12, 2008

My new email signature

"I've now been in 57 states. One left to go." - Barack Obama

(Thanks to big bro Scott for the heads-up.)

100 Things About Me, 141-150

1-10 | 11-20 | 21-30 | 31-40 | 41-50 | 51-60 | 61-70 | 71-80 | 81-90 | 91-100 | 101-110 | 111-120 | 121-130 | 131-140 | 151-160 | 141-150 | 161-170

141. A few summers growing up in Scenic Hills, we were members of the local Recreation Club in the neighborhood. They would have late-night movies for the young'uns. I only remember one of these. They showed "Night of the Living Dead." Previously I told y'all about my disdain for horror/gross-out flicks, and this is one of them. I was eating a box of Boston Baked Beans, and the movie and candy turned out to be a vomitous combination. So embarrassing.

142. Never have been, never will go to a strip club. ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY, NEVER. It demeans everyone involved.

143. I prefer to deal with females when it comes to important issues like getting a home loan, a new car or going to the doctor. I don't feel as though they're cheating me like men would try, or at least they don't seem so smarmy. So I guess I'd rather be snubbed, robbed or prodded by a woman than a man, 'cause at least they provide that nurturing touch.

144. I absolutely abused our carport growing up on Ancroft Cove. If I wasn't drawing the Enterprise on the walls, I was kicking soccer balls against them or hitting tennis balls off them, leaving all kinds of wonderful round marks.

145. Breakfast fast-food of choice: Burger King. Lunch: Chick-fil-A. Dinner: KFC.

146. In my youth, say, ages 10-18, I could watch the same movies dozens of times and never tire of them, usually as background viewing while reading, doing homework, etc. The two that wore out the VCR most were Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and The Hunt for Red October.

147. One day I was hanging out with my brother's friend Jeremy and his new BB gun. He started aiming it me, freaking me the heck out, and when I started running he shot me in the back at close range.

148. My life in stitches, both around the same time as a kid under 10. One time taking a bath with my brother, we were seeing who could hold their breath the longest. I popped my head up quickly and it caught the faucet, and later when I stood up to dry off I had blood streaming down my body. We went to the local Med where they had to give me a shot in the top of my head (it hurt, but I didn't cry!), and stitches. The second time, I was playing Choo-Choo with my sisters hanging on, running around the house. I rammed the corner of my forehead into the kitchen counter, blood ensued and much crying. Back to the Med, more stitches, another story for Show and Tell.

149. Every time I reach for the bathroom door handle, I have a thought in the back of my head that someone could come barge through and break my fingers.

150. As a kid I used to fall asleep with my head down and butt sticking straight up in the air.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Good eats, Paps, Duet, etc.

The dentist bidded me adieu during Thursday's follow-up visit. The pain had subsided into "really annoying" and now "occasionally uncomfortable," so the healing has begun and I'll stop bugging y'all with the details of my mouth. The holes are starting to fill in, and he gave me one of those syringe-looking things to squirt water into the holes and flush out any food particles. This afternoon I even ate chips again at the Mexican restaurant and feel meals coming back to normal, though I was really liking all those mashed potatoes ...
Now that I can eat solid foods again, Valfrey is back to experimenting with cooking. By Valfrey I mean Valerie, because she's manning the kitchen while I play on the computer and update her on "Crosswords" and "Wheel of Fortune." Even though she sometimes gets frustrated because cooking chicken shouldn't be so frackin' confusing, the way I see it, even our mothers and grandmothers had to figure out the range, and in fifteen years our kids will have their favorites just like we do. If only I can convince our kids to like liver and onions, and spinach, of course, because I was on my own with Mom when she made those! If you have a mother who can cook something considered repulsive to everyone else and make you like it, then that's good cookin'! Happy Mother's Day, Mom!
Repeat after me: "I will not panic that Papelbon blew two saves in a row. The Red Sox will be just fine." J-Pap (Pap Smear?) blew Wednesday's lead after an error and broken-bat single, nothing to show signs of losing his focus, and mowed down the Twins tonight for a save. Meanwhile, Cardinals fans (i.e. my wife and father-in-law) were eager to see Jason Isringhausen demoted to the bullpen after last night's implosion. To put it simply, he's awful. And he's doing what we Sox fans watched with horror with Keith Foulke and Eric Gagne, both of whom have never recovered. He gets two quick outs, then can't get the third, and that foreboding since of doom echoes in the pits of your stomach. He should walk out of the bullpen to the music from "Red Dawn."  
Friday night we stumbled onto "Can You Duet" on CMT, where aspiring musicians team up with either their regular partner or one chosen by the three judges (Naomi Judd being the celebrity). We missed the first episode but caught the next three in a marathon, so now we're up to speed with the final eight duos, performing live next Friday for the first time. In what Idol calls "L.A. Week" is actually a week in Nashville for these contestants, and all three judges actually took a day to mentor the groups before they performed for real, so that was a step up. Can you imagine Simon ever lending advice one-on-one to every singer on Idol? "You suck. Good luck tomorrow." Or Paula: "You look great, can't wait to see you tomorrow!" Randy might be helpful: "Yo dog, that would have been the bomb when I was playing for Journey!"
It sure is nice to live in a neighborhood where you can expect to hear the ice cream man regularly. I'll get my Bomb Pop yet!

Friday, May 09, 2008


Red Sox GM Theo Epstein better sign first baseman Kevin Youkilis to a long-term contract before he demands a trade to Detroit. After last night's win over the Tigers (the Sox' sixth in seven games), Youk finished with four homers in the series and now has eight at Comerica Park. He has no more than two at any other road venue.
Meantime, Josh Beckett reached 1,000 strikeouts in the win. Not all in one game, I mean. That would be a record.

Thursday, May 08, 2008


I'm not saying that I'll be a macho man handing out cigars in the actual delivery room, but this really is fittin', you know? So many questions about ninth inning swings and misses with the game on the line answered:
NEW YORK (AP)—Alex Rodriguez passed out during the birth of his first daughter.

“The one nurse had a cold cloth on his head. The other nurse had the blood pressure on his arm. And my mother was like rubbing his back. And he is passed out on a couch. And I am there, in the middle of labor,” Cynthia Rodriguez, wife of the New York Yankees star, said on an episode of the YES Network’s “YESterdays” that is scheduled to be broadcast Wednesday night.

“And really, I am not being paid much attention to besides the doctor and a couple of nurses,” she said. “And he is there moaning. In between pushing, I am going, `Honey, are you OK?’ and `Are you breathing? Are you OK?’ “

Natasha Alexander Rodriguez was born on Nov. 18, 2004.

“As tough and big as he seems, he is real wimpy around doctors or any type of medical situation,” Cynthia Rodriguez said, according to excerpts released Tuesday by YES. “I don’t know why I thought the birth of our child would be different. In the middle of the night, I realized that I needed to go to the hospital. I wake him up. The first thing that comes out of his mouth, `Can we call your mother?’ … A few hours later, I said, `I think you can call my mom now.’ Uh, and the color came back to his face when I told him he could call my mom.”
Congrats on your new daughter, A-Rod, may she never read this blog!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Lots of stuff, plus Idol

While waiting to get to Tuesday's Idol and going on zero sleep (literally) ...
My mouth still hurts. These gaping holes are not filling. Back on Thursday I went to the doc, and he packed some gauze and medicine. That night Val and I weren't sure if I was supposed to leave it in, so I took it out, and needed an ice pack all weekend to numb the pain. Monday I went in for a follow-up and lo and behold, I was supposed to leave the packing in. More medicine that left me slobbering for three hours, but with the packing in the pain was reduced from Holy Crap This Hurts to This Is Pretty Uncomfortable, which is a huge improvement. Problem is, with the left side hurting less, I became acutely aware that the right side was also in pain, only less so previously so as to go unnoticed. What I'm getting at is, if they'd told me before the surgery that nine days later I'd still be eating a diet consisting 80 percent of mashed taters, noodles and pudding, I might have thought about it longer.
I don't have the MLB Extra Innings package this season, so I have to catch the Red Sox on ESPN when I can. However, if every game is like the one Dice-K pitched on Monday against Detroit, it may be a good thing. EIGHT walks, 109 pitches in five innings, and oh yeah, he won. That's right, he allowed two hits and only one run, getting out of jam after jam, and now he has a 5-0 record with a 2.43 ERA. Then again, so long as Boston wins his starts I guess I don't care if he ends up averaging eight walks a game, am I right? Speaking of, with a 5-0 blanking of the Tigers last night, that's 5 in a row for the Beantown Bombers, and David "Stop Calling Me Washed Up" Ortiz hit his fifth homer in ten games. I would get all cocky about the Sox being tied for the best record in the AL now, but my wife's Cardinals are actually a half-game better over in the NL, so good for her.
Home improvements are now focused mostly on decoration and landscaping. Valfrey Estates did get a bright lift when bro-in-law Randy came over last Friday and used his electrician skills to replace several fixtures, including putting his life on the line for the outside wall lantern during a severe storm. The coolest change, however, was putting a box in the kitchen ceiling fan for a remote that controls the lights. Now instead of crossing the kitchen to turn the fan on, we stuck some magnets on the remote and put it on the fridge within arm's reach as you enter the kitchen. Neato, and a lot less hassle than installing a new switch from the attic.
There must have been a duffer's league playing Stonebridge last week. Found five balls in our backyard while mowing Tuesday morning, three Titleists, one Nike and an MC Lady, which, what, is the choice of female rappers everywhere? One ball was so wayward as to be to the left of the patio, which is a heck of a shot, over our neighbor's yard and a good 30 yards from the out-of-bounds stick that marks our property. The course lets their rough grow out quite a bit, so I enjoy having a freshly mowed lawn just inches away to make the golfers both thankful that they don't have to use a penalty stroke for being out-of-bounds and angry that they don't have a better shot. I hope none of them are angry for me to turn off the mower when hitting their shots, 'cause it ain't happening, and I never expect as much when I'm on the course.
Val and I are none too happy about this week's Dancing With the Stars. Not Mario's exit, since he was going to go eventually, but the judges' scoring was atrocious on Monday. Christian ended up the leader, even though he has a bad left arm and can't do anything but hold Cheryl and let her twirl around him for two minutes. Sure, she spun excellently, but he's the "star," and he didn't do squat.
Now, for the main event, the lackluster American Idol review!
Tuesday night's theme: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which only brings bitter memories of an opportunity lost for my hometown. Seriously, in what world does Cleveland get that instead of Memphis?
David Cook starts off with Duran Duran's "Hungry Like the Wolf" (at least it wasn't "Rio," one of the most overplayed 80s songs) and follows with "Baba O'Reilly" by The Who. Leading off he was fine, but the second effort was his typical Cook-alternating arrangement, starting slow and rocking out the Teenage Wasteland.
Syesha picks the obvious Tina Turner song to start, with "Proud Mary." She is so obviously better off on Broadway, and if not for the giant figurative sign yelling TINA TURNER IMPERSONATION until the recap we didn't notice that the vocals weren't very good. Next she sang Sam Cook's "A Change Has to Come," though the only change I noticed was all that cleavage. The one minute between the big first and last notes are totally inconsequential, because no one will remember. Randy is too attached to the original and throws a hissy that Syesha dared sing it, while Paula and Simon thought she was great. I don't think that Syesha quite understood how dense she came across by constantly comparing her journey on a television competition to the Civil Rights movement. Darling, you're not breaking any new ground here.
I'll get to Jason in a moment.
Archy can sing. No doubt. But he can't sing upbeat songs, and as a result of having to do a ballad over and over every week he's getting blown away by Cook and Syesha. It comes across dull, no matter how well he does. Same this week with "Stand by Me" and "Love me Tender," two good songs but not Idol-winner material, and yes I'm aware that the judges all but did a pyramid with Paula holding a "Rah Rah Sis Archy Bah" sign.
And now, sigh, Castro. Crash. Burn. Let him go, Jason fans. Let him go. He's done. In "I Shot the Sheriff," he barely sang and let the backup singers and horn section control the number. Then he forgot the words to "Mr. Tambourine Man," and that was it. Except that he giggled in his "whoa" way, and I don't get the stoner culture, but I do think that last night is what happens when you smoke too much pot as a teen.
Gone? Hopefully Jason. Syesha? Maybe.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Obama sees the light, conveniently

Columnist Charles Krauthammer nails down what's really disturbing about the Obama-Wright story:
At a news conference in North Carolina, Obama explained why he finally decided to do the deed. Apparently, Wright’s latest comments — Obama cited three in particular — were so shockingly “divisive and destructive” that he had to renounce the man, not just the words.

What were Obama’s three citations? Wright’s claim that AIDS was invented by the U.S. government to commit genocide. His praise of Louis Farrakhan as a great man. And his blaming 9/11 on American “terrorism.”

But these comments are not new. These were precisely the outrages that prompted the initial furor when the Wright tapes emerged seven weeks ago. Obama decided to cut off Wright not because Wright’s words or character or views had suddenly changed. The only thing that changed was the venue in which Wright chose to display them — live on national TV at the National Press Club. That unfortunate choice destroyed Obama’s Philadelphia pretense that this “endless loop” of sermon excerpts being shown on “television sets and YouTube” had been taken out of context. ...

On Tuesday, Obama declared that he himself was surprised at Wright’s outrages. But hadn’t Obama told us that surprise about Wright is a result of white ignorance of black churches brought on by America’s history of segregated services? How then to explain Obama’s own presumed ignorance? Surely he too was not sitting in those segregated white churches on those fateful Sundays when he conveniently missed all of Wright’s racist rants. ...

Obama’s newest attempt to save himself after Wright’s latest poisonous performance is now declared the new final word on the subject. Therefore, any future ads linking Obama and Wright are preemptively declared out of bounds, illegitimate, indeed “race-baiting” (New York Times editorial, April 30).

On what grounds? This 20-year association with Wright calls into question everything about Obama: his truthfulness in his serially adjusted stories of what he knew and when he knew it; his judgment in choosing as his mentor, pastor, and great friend a man he just now realizes is a purveyor of racial hatred; and the central premise of his campaign, that he is the bringer of a “new politics,” rising above the old Washington ways of expediency. It’s hard to think of an act more blatantly expedient than renouncing Wright when his show, once done from the press club instead of the pulpit, could no longer be “contextualized” as something whites could not understand and only Obama could explain in all its complexity.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Teeth and movies

I tell y'all what, this is the last time I get my wisdom teeth removed!
Ye gads, what a hassle. I know some discomfort and pain is normal, but it's not going away. Yesterday I went back to the doc, worried about developing dry socket due to the pain in my left lower jaw, and he put in the nastiest-tasting medicine I've ever had. It made me slobber for two hours, and I couldn't rinse for the first hour on his orders. Now, both holes on the right and left lower jaw are in pain, and I can't tell if the holes are filling up or not.
As a result, I have to shovel food straight down my throat with as little chewing as possible, because having to rinse, then dig, the food out of the giant holes makes the pain and discomfort worse. I'm loving me some mashed taters, the easiest food in the world to eat, plus pudding and ice cream. Whatever the diet is, it's working, because I lost two pounds this week.
And yet, despite all the whining above, I'm still in a decent mood, being the weekend and a chance to catch up on much needed slumber. Not to mention working on Valfrey Estates. That's my new favorite hobby, while Val is enjoying putting together all the pictures from our first two years and finally figuring out how to organize the hundreds of frames we got for the wedding. When you visit our house, please don't think we're that self-involved and have erected an altar to Team Valfrey. We just have a LOT of photos together to display!
And now for two completely opposite movies, one's an unusual love story and the other is a Disney flick.


Sorry for being obvious and unoriginal, but "Enchanted" left me, yep, enchanted. I don't know how good that French chick is who won Best Actress, but I doubt she was any better than Amy Adams. I dare say that it's tougher for a professionally trained actress to act bubbly and positive for an entire picture than for any actress to emote dramatically in a "serious" picture.
When Adams is singing "How Do I Know" in Central Park, inspiring hundreds of extras to spontaneously join in the song and dance number, it was the best thing in a film made in 2007. So sweet, so fun, it almost got a little dusty on the couch.
The climax wasn't entirely fulfilling, chasing a dragon up a skyscraper in Manhattan, though everything ends up wrapped in a tight little colorful bow tied by pigeons.

This one's just bloody mayhem, a connect-the-dots action flick pieced together by some truly awesome stunts. I really, really, wanted to like this as a campy, over-the-top action satire, but instead the labored ironic plot about gun control is even duller amid the excitement of the violence surrounding the low-talking nonsensical blabbering. If you're going to go super-crazy shoot 'em up, go all out.
At least Clive Owen is super cool and Paul Giamatti revels in full-fledged nuttiness, so it's got that going for it. Don't see it if you love eating carrots. They're not always good for your eyesight, is all I'm sayin'.

Feel Good Story of the Day

Opponents carry injured home run hitter around the bases

By Joseph B. Frazier, Associated Press Writer

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- With two runners on base and a strike against her, Sara Tucholsky of Western Oregon University uncorked her best swing and did something she had never done, in high school or college. Her first home run cleared the center-field fence.

But it appeared to be the shortest of dreams come true when she missed first base, started back to tag it and collapsed with a knee injury.

She crawled back to first but could do no more. The first-base coach said she would be called out if her teammates tried to help her. Or, the umpire said, a pinch runner could be called in, and the homer would count as a single.

Then, members of the Central Washington University softball team stunned spectators by carrying Tucholsky around the bases Saturday so the three-run homer would count -- an act that contributed to their own elimination from the playoffs.

Central Washington first baseman Mallory Holtman, the career home run leader in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, asked the umpire if she and her teammates could help Tucholsky.

The umpire said there was no rule against it.

So Holtman and shortstop Liz Wallace put their arms under Tucholsky's legs, and she put her arms over their shoulders. The three headed around the base paths, stopping to let Tucholsky touch each base with her good leg.

"The only thing I remember is that Mallory asked me which leg was the one that hurt," Tucholsky said. "I told her it was my right leg and she said, `OK, we're going to drop you down gently and you need to touch it with your left leg,' and I said `OK, thank you very much."'

"She said, `You deserve it, you hit it over the fence,' and we all kind of just laughed."

Holtman said she and Wallace weren't thinking about the playoff spot, and didn't consider the gesture something others wouldn't do.

As the trio reached home plate, Tucholsky said, the entire Western Oregon team was in tears.

Tucholsky's injury is a possible torn ligament that will sideline her for the rest of the season, and she plans to graduate in the spring with a degree in business. Her home run sent Western Oregon to a 4-2 victory, ending Central Washington's chances of winning the conference and advancing to the playoffs.

"In the end, it is not about winning and losing so much," Holtman said. "It was about this girl. She hit it over the fence and was in pain, and she deserved a home run."

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Dull Idol

I admit it, the final four Idols are a bust, despite my pleas for certain oustings along the way. Was their opening medley on last night's results show the least-inspired in show history? Absolutely. There have been sunnier performances in coma wards. The ending of "Terms of Endearment" had more smiles than these contestants did on stage. 
It's like once they hit the top twelve, the contest turns into "The Never Ending Story:" "Oh, that's what everyone thinks! But kind people find out that they are cruel. Brave men find out that they are really cowards! Confronted by their true selves, most men run away, screaming!" And good singers find themselves singing pitchy in front of tens of millions of viewers!
If we could have a re-do? I'd replace Brooke, Archy and Castro with Chikezie, Michael Johns and, gulp, Carly. Yes, Carly. At least she really wanted to be there, was upbeat and actually seemed to care every week. Instead of being a boring march to the finale, I'd enjoy May a lot more. Ditching Brooke last night was merciful, at least.
Unfortunately, you can add Neil Diamond to the list of guest performers who come out to standing ovations and a crowd expecting to jump up and down, and instead are led to their seats as the singer goes for a slower, newer number that no one knows and can't get excited about. *sigh* I love ya, Neil, but seriously.
Next week, I'm already prepared to be bummed as Syesha gets the boot while Castro ho-hums his way to the top three, and Archy rides a wave of inexplicable teen adoration.