Monday, March 31, 2008

Taking the America out of American Idol

Remember when I commented after Tuesday's Idol that KLC's clever "God Bless the USA" song choice would cause many libs' heads to explode with annoyance and anger? The very next day Television Without Pity's recapper did just that. Try to digest this mess:
America is awesome. When you trot out this (bleeping) sentimental warmed-over brainless hateful crap, you are seriously disconnecting yourself from America and why it's great. It's like Hallmark cards: the opposite of caring. You cannot let somebody else tell you what your heart says. Just by singing this song, the Colonel is saying that she hates America. The real America that is made with blood and bravery and strength and love, the real America that demands that you draw your circle as wide as you can and spend every day serving it with your hands, that goes right out the (bleeping) window when you pass the buck to some stupid (bleeping) song like this. And you know who eats it up, because it's always the same (bleeping) people that eat this vomit, are the people who are too lazy to think about America or love her in the first place. I hate this (bleeping) song, I hate this stupid girl, and I hate that this is happening, because my whole theory about how this show reflects the wider culture cuts both ways and I don't want to think about that. These are our people and they deserve to be loved, but I'll be damned if I'm going to let anybody tell me that this is the best that we can be. We are more than this.

Let's review: "It's like Hallmark cards: the opposite of caring. You cannot let somebody else tell you what your heart says." What? What kind of anti-sentimental horsehockey is that? That's exactly why you pick out the right card. Why else do women spend a half-hour standing in my way in the Walgreens aisle looking for one card?

"Just by singing this song, the Colonel is saying that she hates America." He knows that isn't true, but it makes him feel better about the gritty anti-American views he holds. Because only people who write papers about how the U.S. is racist and imperialist can love it? That's like saying that because I refuse on moral grounds (and good taste) to watch "The L-Word," only I can appreciate its impact on television.

This is the sentence that sells it, because it makes no sense whatsoever: "The real America that is made with blood and bravery and strength and love, the real America that demands that you draw your circle as wide as you can and spend every day serving it with your hands, that goes right out the (bleeping) window when you pass the buck to some stupid (bleeping) song like this."

Sorry, I got dizzy there re-reading that. I was drawing a circle in my mind and looking out the window and thinking of rainbows and unicorns and blacked out for a minute.

We know "God Bless the USA" is sentimental and gooey, but it's anything but "hateful." When Lee Greenwood sings it on Independence Day we sing it proudly and get chills. We're not afraid to say that America is the greatest country, and love it unconditionally. There are no "God damn America" excuses.

These kinds of leftists may preach love individually but hate Americans in general and feel superior to our pop culture. This dude's America is "Crash" and "Born on the Fourth of July." He can't believe that anyone would hold opposing views and instead of trying to convince them of their view just makes fun of opponents as dumb hicks and naive bigots. Like how I make fun of my political opponents as commies and tree-huggers while watching "Zoolander."

Here's an idea. Stay in your little SoHo apartment and watch the latest gritty film on the Sundance Channel about two boys who fall in love with each other while traveling in Norway, while complaining that none of the mainstream idiots support indie films, and the rest of us can enjoy warmed-over entertaining goo like "Idol."


UPDATE 11:35 p.m. - Here is why the recapper feels out of touch with Americans and especially his fellow youth, he's the one out of step:
WASHINGTON, March 30 (UPI) — Young Americans have a reverence for national institutions, traditions and family values, a U.S. survey indicates.

A survey of so-called "millennials" — those between 21 and 29 — revealed the group overwhelmingly said they support monogamy, marriage, the U.S. Constitution and the military, The Washington Times reported Sunday.

"We were completely surprised. There has been a faulty portrayal of millennials by the media — television, films, news, blogs, everything. These people are not the self-entitled, coddled slackers they're made out to be. Misnomers and myths about them are all over the place," said Ann Mack, who directed the survey.

Fresh picks

The latest sweet morsels from Fox News' The Political Grapevine:

I'm shocked

- In a survey of 585 journalists, only 8 percent claim to be conservative, while 32 percent cop to being liberal. 53 percent lied and pretended to be moderates.

Posting this makes me a neocon warmonger

- Harvard researchers find public anti-Iraq doubts have an "emboldened effect" on insurgents.

- A new opinion poll indicates public support for the Iraq war is at its highest point since the summer of 2006.

Global warming cooling

- A number of renegade environmental scientists say that the planet has stopped warming and is actually cooling.

- 3,000 robots collecting ocean data say that oceans have not warmed up. Of course, it could be a trick, as SkyNet becomes self-aware and starts preparations to take over the world.

Hillary's Hyperboles

- I've already pointed out how Hillary lied about her Bosnia trip. But while admitting that she "misspoke," she added this zinger: "I was the first first lady taken into a war zone since Eleanor Roosevelt during World War II." Of course, that would be Pat Nixon, who made a trip to Vietnam in 1969. To be fair, at the time Hillary couldn't have noticed since she was busy shutting down fish canneries in Alaska.

- Playing a game of one-upsmanship that only Al "Internet Inventor" Gore could appreciate, Hillary also exaggerated her role in developing the SCHIP health care bill and the Northern Ireland peace process.

- My favorite example of Hillary's hyperboles remains how she for years claimed to be named for Mt. Everest climber Sir Edumnd Hillary. Which was great until someone not in the press actually did the research and discovered she was born six years before his famed expedition.

But they can find Uranus

- In a survey of 1,400 British schoolchildren, one in three believes that Sir Winston Churchill was the first man to walk on the moon and three-quarters could not identify the moon in the night's sky.

Free speech for thee

- An Ohio State librarian finds that recommending a conservative book is harassment.

Palestinians not for peace

- A poll reveals the incredibly sad finding that 84 percent of Palestinians were happy about the slaughter of eight Israeli religion students, and 64 percent support rocket attacks continuing.
- Hamas admits to a policy of using women, children and the elderly as human shields. The media, UN yawn.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Jeff's Cracker Jack picks for the new season

Take me out to the ballgame! The defending champs already started their season in another hemisphere against Oakland, but the rest of the teams get under way the next few days. Here's what one fan predicts for the 2008 season:

AL EAST - Boston. I might be annoyed when they're playing .500 ball by June 1 after having to fly to Japan to open the season and then come back jetlagged to face tough opponents in April, but they'll recover.

AL CENTRAL - Cleveland

AL WEST - Anaheim

WILD CARD - Dang Yanks. (If only because it's fun to watch them lose in the playoffs, since they still haven't won a World Series this century.)

ALCS - Red Sox over Anaheim

NL EAST - NY Mets (Almost went with Philly, so it's a toss-up.)

NL CENTRAL - Cubs (This will be 100 years since a title. Should be fun to watch.)

NL WEST - Arizona (Colorado had to win, what, 50 of their last 51 games to make the playoffs? Can't happen again.)

WILD CARD - San Diego

NLCS - San Diego over Mets

WORLD SERIES - Red Sox beat Padres

Yep, I'm a homer and refuse to pick against my team. But hey, it worked last year, eh?

The field is narrowed

Thanks to my darling wife for emailing me the current info from Jeff's March Madness Challenge!
 
CURRENT STANDINGS:

UT can suck it - 98
12345 - 97
Cheryl - 96
Cody B. - 94
Stephen M. - 90
Dad - 89
Erin M. - 88
Natalie M. - 88
Jeff - 87
Steve R. - 86
Carol H. - 80
Valerie - 79
Scott R. - 74
CUT THE NET - 70
Michael C. - 69
Randy B. - 69
Stephanie L. - 56
Jenn R. - 53

SCENARIOS:

UCLA over NC: Jeff
UCLA over Kansas: Jeff
NC over UCLA: Syd
NC over Memphis: 12345
Memphis over NC: Carol
Memphis over Kansas: Erin
Kansas over Memphis: Cody
Kansas over UCLA: Cody

Go Tigers Go!

Final Four baby, yeah!!!!! And relatively painless, wasn't it? Guess that makes all those before the tournament who picked Texas to beat the Tigers look pretty stupid now, eh? Oh yeah, and that includes me. But I will gladly sacrifice my bracket if it means UCLA loses to Memphis next Saturday!

Random links late at night

- Name of the week: British Air Chief Marshal Sir Graham Eric Stirrup, commonly referred to as Jock Stirrup. For real.

- Cities around the world engaged in a meaningless symbolism of turning out the lights for an hour at 8 p.m. to showcase, I don't know, that it gets dark without artificial lighting and how great it is not to be using candles to light the TV to watch the NCAA Tournament like our ancestors had to do? Surely just coincidentally, the night of March 29 saw a significant spike in car wrecks and crime.

- Smile! You're on elephant vision!

- Why didn't anyone tell me that there's an X-Files sequel scheduled to come out July 25? Where'd this come from? Was the truth hidden by some skeevy dude smoking cigarettes in the dark?

- In no way will I admit that I licked a stamp today before I realized it was a peel-and-stick.

- For whatever this is worth:

38: Percentage of Democrats who rate their mental health as "excellent."
58: Percentage of Republicans who do.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Go Tigers Go!

Can't say I've enjoyed an NCAA Tournament game more than last night, when the Tigers were up 50-20 by halftime and so bored in the second half that Coach Cal and Joey Dorsey were playing "I Spy" with the crowd. Popular pick? "I spy a person wearing green and looking like they just saw a dead possum on the road."

Heading into the Elite 8, let's take a look at the current standings of Jeff's March Madness Challenge:

1. Cheryl (North Carolina) - 72
2. Cody (Kansas) - 70
3. Syd (North Carolina) - 66
3. Stephen M. (Kansas)- 66
5. 12345 (North Carolina) - 65
5. Dad (North Carolina) - 65
7. Natalie M. (Texas) - 64
7. Erin M. (Memphis) - 64
7. Carol H. (Memphis) - 64
10. Me (UCLA) - 63
11. Steve R. (North Carolina) - 62
11. CUT THE NET (UCLA) - 62
13. Randy B. (Kansas) - 61
14. Scott R. (UCLA) - 58
15. Val R. (Kansas) - 55
16. Michael C. (Memphis) - 53
17. Stephanie L. (Memphis) - 48
18. Jenn R. (Belmont) - 45

There are a lot of factors out there still, so many of you can still win it, but you need your championship pick to pull it out on April 7. We'll know more by Sunday night when the Final Four is set.

Some scenarios:
My mother-in-law, Carol, will win if Memphis beats North Carolina in the final.
If UCLA wins, beating anyone else, I win.
If NC wins, beating Memphis, who beat UCLA, 12345 wins.
If NC wins, beating UCLA, who beat Memphis, Syd wins.
If NC wins, beating UCLA, who beat Texas, Steve wins.
If NC wins, beating Texas, who beat UCLA, Steve wins.
If NC wins, beating Texas, who beat Xavier, Cheryl wins.
If NC wins, beating Memphis but UCLA lost to Xavier, Cheryl wins.
If Kansas wins against anyone, Cody wins.
If Memphis beats Kansas, Erin wins.

After that my eyes glossed over so I quit.

Finally, kudos to Steve for this link, a "bracket" filled out based on the median salary of its graduates.

Chelsea's exemption?

While campaigning for her mother at Butler College this Tuesday, Chelsea "all grown up" Clinton was asked whether Daddy Bill getting a Lewinsky, and the subsequent scandal, damaged the reputation of her mom.

"Wow, you're the first person actually that's ever asked me that question in the, I don't know maybe, 70 college campuses I've now been to, and I do not think that is any of your business," Clinton responded, drawing cheers from the crowd.

I would have added, "Kiss my a**, moron," and "Let's take this outside," but my parents aren't running for office. And if they did, I think we all know who would be considered the black sheep of the family.

But the part that made my eyebrows cock was the bit about him being the first to ask the question, as if she's entitled to never hear anything about the scandal or her parents' numerous problems with authority.

After all, she's out pimping for her mom who's running for president and built her entire political career in the Senate and this campaign on getting people to feel sorry for her after Bill's inappropriate hanky-panky.

Voters have every right to ask such questions. Especially since it turns out the questioner is a Hillary supporter who was trying to prime Chelsea for a response along the lines of "It made my mother stronger and ready to lead this country to change and hope."

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Jacuzzi's exit

Can't say I'm emotional about Chikezie's exit, since I figured he'd be gone before the top six and all this does is change the order of exits, but he deserved to stay at least another week based on Tuesday's performance.
 
Ramiele didn't even make the bottom three, which tells me she's got some serious Filipino-American support a la Jasmine Trias, meaning she'll stick around much, much longer than she deserves and I'll be ticked every week. Something to look forward to.
 
When Kristy Lee didn't even end up in the bottom three, I think that just made up her mind that next week she'll sing "Amazing Grace," the next week "The Star-Spangled Banner" and if she's still in it, KLC will bust out with the "Happy Birthday" song just to mess with Simon.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Streaks are made to end

Alas, the run is over, and the Red Sox are 1-1 after losing this morning to Oakland A's stud starter Rich Harden. Again, only Manny came through, hitting a homer for the Sox' only run. 162-0 won't happen, but neither will 81-81, promise!

Another run is over as well. The Union Lady Bulldogs' 35-game winning streak came to an end in the NAIA Women's Championship. No. 2 seed Vanguard (Calif.) scored with six seconds left to win, 74-72, and went on to beat Trevecca in the title game last night. Congrats to the Lady Dawgs on a great season, and go get 'em in 2009!

Idol Loser Dance Night

THE BIGGEST LOSER: COUPLES - What is with all the tears in these reality shows when a contestant gets the boot? The other contestants realize they'll see them in a few weeks, right? The booted ones aren't being killed like some sadistic reality show like in "'The Long Walk," my favorite Stephen King story (when he was writing under the pseudonym Richard Bachman). In it, contestants walk (at least 4 mph) from the tip of Maine until one remains, and if you're out, you're shot and killed. It's the biggest show in America, and the winner is a hero. On Loser, you lose, and, you go home, lose more weight and come back in the finale with a chance to win 100 grand.
 
Who sheds tears tonight? Jillian starts off the show crying over Brittany's exit, and when Dan and Mark are the bottom two at the end, they, Jay, Roger, are all bawling. Man tears flow aplenty.
 
During the reward challenge I finally saw how the women could see the guys on the Blue Team as big fat meanies, so much so that I felt one of the Blue Team deserved to go for once. Piling on Kelly and Ali was crude, rude and plain bad sportsmanship. I also blame the show, because challenges in which contestants have to eliminate each other set up this kind of animosity.
 
DANCING WITH THE STARS - Last night on the results show, the Jonas Brothers were sucktastic, the voters got it right and that Macy's Stars of Dance number by the Cirque de Soleil guy was AWESOME. The level of difficulty with all the tossing and flying was off the charts. Even Kristi Yamaguchi was probably saying, "Geez Louise, and I thought a triple salchow was hard!"
 
On talent alone, if one man and one woman had to go, this was justice. Penn and Monica were the worst. I won't miss Penn. Let's face it, Teller is the likable one of that duo and he never speaks. I will miss Monica, however. So sweet, so heartfelt, but so stiff. Don't worry, Monica, I doubt Stefi could do much better!
 
The important thing: The Guttenberg is safe! And the show needs to use Cameron "The Dance Machine" in the streets of New York more this season, preferably alternating with Kenny Mayne's "DanceCenter" segments.
 
AMERICAN IDOL  - Now, the big event, what y'all have really been waiting for, the weekly Coke/Ford infomercial disguised as a talent competition.
 
Ramiele - If you can't sing Heart's "Alone," don't sing Heart's "Alone." Ye gads, she's out of her league and needs to go home before it gets embarrassing.
 
Castro - In his pre-video he's clearly high, right? "I'm an Aries. Aries. I feel like I'm saying that wrong." Off camera, I'm guessing he added, "Dude, and my hands, they're HUGE!" Oh look, here's Jason sitting on a stool with a guitar, singing a song that doesn't go anywhere but is pleasant nonetheless. Has any other Idol contestant mailed in a performance very week for six weeks, knowing he's safe until the top five? I say no. Maybe he's a big Conan O'Brien fan, who said, "Success is a lot like a bright, white tuxedo. You feel terrific when you get it, but then you're desperately afraid of getting it dirty, of spoiling it in any way."
 
Syesha - She always seems to be sending out a long-distance dedication. Her best effort yet, she hit all the big notes, but she can stop with the baby crying imitation anytime, please.
 
Chikezie - Jacuzzi was okay, just fine and dandy, nothing special, and the judges ripped him for not going over the top with the bluegrassy upbeatness of the last two weeks. But if he had gone with that they would tell him it's getting old.
 
Brooke - The start was off, either she hit a wrong key with "Every Breath You Take" and started over, or I noticed she was looking to the side waiting for a cue and got confused. She did recover, and after last week's awkwardness went back to the piano where she's comfy and doesn't have to dance.
 
Michael - Reaching all the way back to 1978 as our elder Idol, he goes back to Queen after previously only impressing the judges with "Bohemian Rhapsody." When he starts on "We Will Rock You," I told Val that he can only sing this in conjunction with "We Are the Champions," because that's how we hear it nowadays at sporting events. And then, BAM, 30 seconds in he totally does so, and rock on! Next week, will he sing "I like to ride my bicycle?" And if they theme was sporting tunes would David Hernandez have gone with "YMCA?"
 
Carly - In her pre-song video she claims to be a "classic Virgo." Is now not the time to tell her that everyone is classic Virgo? And typical Libra? And your normal Scorpio? Does anyone believe astrology is anything other than amusingly ridiculous nonsense making money off of suckers' want of "discovering" themselves? anyway, she tries to rip my heart out by singing "Total Eclipse of the Heart," and she's not that bad - she actually sounds a lot like Bonnie Tyler - until the end when she hits a note that only pregnant cows have made in the past. And the way she sings "apart," weird, no? But hey, she's Irish, if you haven't heard.
 
David Archuletta - I know, he's adorable, you just want to pinch his cheeks, but sorry, he's not my Idol. I don't know who sang his choice of song, "You're the Voice," because Ryan inexplicably stopped telling us the original artists, but Val said it sounds like the kind of crappy, sappy song that Idol winners are made to sing. Because, really, besides Kelly Clarkson's "A Moment Like This," do you remember any of the other five? And if Archy was singing a song from his birth year, 1990, how can he not try to make a Vanilla Ice song his own? That would have been David Cookesque awesome.
 
Kristy Lee - If Idol was "Price is Right," Kristy Lee would be the yodeling climber who gets ever so close to the edge, and is just about to fall over, and stops on the last rung temporarily. As Simon said, singing "God Bless the USA" is the most clever song choice in the history of the show. She might as well sing the national anthem or "Amazing Grace." It's safe in a State Fair kind of way, and impossible to criticize, plus, bonus, it probably made liberal hippies' heads explode with anger and annoyance all over the country.
 
David Cook - Oh man, this is ambitious, this is the best of the night, this just stuck a dagger in every other contestant. If anyone was wondering if David could rock out another song like he did "Hello," the answer is a resounding yes. Taking "Billie Jean" and making his own rock anthem is wickedly brilliant. For everyone placing bets three weeks ago on the winner, you voted for the wrong David.
 
What was revealed tonight? Not much. Except that the backup singers? Not great. 
 
My bottom three: Ramiele, Carly, Kristy Lee, who must have very few fans but could be safe. Who deserves to go based on tonight? Ramiele, the only one to make you want to his the mute button.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

On pace for 162-0!

Okay, so I didn't wake up at 5 a.m. to watch the Red Sox' opener in Japan, but I did just finish watching it on my DVR, and it was nearly as enjoyable. Either way, the season has begun, the defending champs are undefeated and Manny is being Manny! Go Sox!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Dance, Dance, Dance, yeah!

All 12 contestants laced up their high heeled-shoes, put on frilly and shiny garments and tried to make the case to America that they deserve to make the top ten when two are cut Tuesday night.

Let's take a look at our Stars, and remember, don't feed Bruno after midnight!

THE GUTTENBERG - We're pulling for him, and I think he could last a while with his enthusiasm and based on the support just from the other contestants. Not from the judges, however, who panned his routine harshly, much more than he deserved. Val and I liked it and thought the performance was entertaining. The judges should watch more Diner and less Three Men and a Little Lady.

CRISTIAN - His Quick Step could have been quicker and less flailing as if unattached to his legs, but if he sticks around I'd say he'll be darn good in another six weeks. He won't stick around that long. Why hasn't Ugly Better bothered to show up in the audience yet to show support and pimp the show?

MONICA - Aww, I feel so bad for her. I just adore Monica, and she's so stiff and ungraceful it kills me to watch her dance. Maybe if she grunted during tough steps it would help?

PENN - If we're ousting people based on talent, the magician will find himself disappeared, with no tricks up his sleeve. He's so flat-footed and plodding you wonder if he can jump more than three inches off the ground. And hey, I can do at least six, so no judging the judger!

PRISCILLA - Like Lady Jane last season, she can ballroom dance with the best, but all that elegance and grace won't help her move her feet quickly in the Latin rounds. Still, not bad for week two.

SHANNON - In practice she has no stamina, which, yeah, when you throw up all your food after meals you probably don't have much energy. She's actually wearing clothes tonight, and the judges love her though I was busy listening to Val read the instructions to our new stove (delivered this morning!).

JASON - Last week he spent the entire time trying to prove he wasn't gay to his Dolphin teammates, and considering they finished the season 1-15 I don't think he has to prove anything to them. He's not bad, moves fluidly but it's a boring performance and the 9s from the judges seem generous.

MARISSA - After throwing a pity party early in the week due to her low scores last Monday, the Quick Step was perfect for the ball of energy, using all of her spaziness to whip her feet around the stage.

ADAM - Not as bad as Penn, about the same as Monica, worse than The Guttenberg. He's funny but awful.

MARLEE - It's so impressive watching her dance well despite being deaf, I can only watch with awe. Samantha proves why we watch her (to screw up) by asking Marlee a question and then putting the mic in her face as if she was going to answer instead of using sign language. Nice.

KRISTI - Ladies and gentlemen - and ladies who are gentlemen, and gentlemen who dress like ladies - your 2008 "Dancing with the Stars" champ! Is it too early to crown the Olympic champion as our winner? Nope. Despite protesting and acting shy, Guchi was working it in the mambo. If she was in the kiss-and-cry area the judges would have given her perfect 6.0s (except the French judge, the idiot.)

MARIO - I admit, I was actually peeking at the picture-in-picture showing "Deal or No Deal" on NBC, and almost completely missed this, but I figured he'd be decent and the scores reflect as such. He's safe.

Sweet 16 standings

Let's take a look at the standings of Jeff's March Madness Challenge after two rounds heading into Thursday's Sweet 16 action:


1. Cheryl (North Carolina) - 48
2. Sydney (North Carolina) - 46
2. Stephen (Kansas) - 46
2. CUT THE NET (UCLA) - 46
5. 12345 (North Carolina) - 45
5. Dad (North Carolina) - 45
5. Randy (Kansas) - 45
8. Erin (Memphis) - 44
8. Natalie (Texas) - 44
8. Carol (Memphis) - 44
11. Cody (Kansas) - 42
11. Steve (North Carolina) - 42
13. Val (Kansas) - 39
13. Me (UCLA) - 39
15. Scott (UCLA) - 38
16. Michael (Memphis) - 37
17. Stephanie (Memphis) - 36
18. Jenn (Belmont) - 33

Now, before you leaders get too impressed by the technological marvel you've created, know that if you don't get your final four teams, you're screwed. For instance, after Friday I could be ranked tenth or worse, and still win the whole thing. Same goes for others currently in the basement. Which is just my way of excusing the crapfest that was my picks for last weekend.

But was it funny sniper fire?

Comedian Sinbad has issues with Hillary's claim that she was sent on a dangerous foreign policy trip to Bosnia in 1996 in which her plane had to make a tight corkscrew landing to avoid potential attacks.

Sinbad wonders, "What kind of president would say, 'Hey, man, I can't go 'cause I might get shot so I'm going to send my wife...oh, and take a guitar player (Sheryl Crowe) and a comedian with you.'" He adds, "I think the only 'red-phone' moment was: 'Do we eat here or at the next place?'"

When Hillary's folks protested that she had to duck sniper fire, the Media Research Center pulled the tapes and found no mention of any shooting or running "with (their) heads down." The CBS report even showed her arriving in Bosnia smiling and walking alongside daughter Chelsea. Hillary had claimed there was no greeting ceremony and yet there she was on tape, being greeted by the acting president of Bosnia and a group of Bosnian children.

Surely her people will come out now, "Oh, THAT Bosnia! Sheesh, I thought you meant the other one. With the sniper fire and stuff. The media will cover for us, so no worries."

UPDATE 10:17 p.m. - Hillary's people now acknowledge that she "misspoke" about the trip. Because other countries are so frequently shooting at her plane that she confuses them?

Just say "my butt hurts" and leave it at that

If I'm a professional athlete and my name is on the injury report, there are certain things I don't want in the parenthesis after my name. One of them follows:
Mar 17 Brian McTaggert, of the Houston Chronicle, reports Houston Astros 2B Kazuo Matsui (anus) is likely to begin the season on the disabled list.
I really, really, don't want to know what an "anal fissure" is, but I'm sure one of you is on WebMD already.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

I guess symbolism matters now

Barack Obama, when asked last fall why he doesn't wear a flag pin on his lapel anymore:
Obama said Thursday that he stopped wearing one shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks, telling reporters at a campaign stop in Iowa that “I probably haven’t worn a flag pin in a very long time. After a while, I noticed people wearing a lapel pin and not acting very patriotic....

"My attitude is that I'm less concerned about what you're wearing on your lapel than what's in your heart," Obama said. "You show your patriotism by how you treat your fellow Americans, especially those who serve. You show your patriotism by being true to our values and ideals. That's what we have to lead with, is our values and our ideals."

Barack Obama this week giving his speech defending his racist anti-American pastor by comparing him to his racist old white grandmother:

Point values increase, the tension increases twofold

If UCLA had lost tonight, my bracket would have been toast. I would have been lucky to finish in the top ten, so dependent are pickers on how their choice for national champions have to be.

Yes, that's right, in my official bracket in my own group, I have UCLA beating Kansas in the title, with North Carolina and Texas joining them in the Final Four. I may love my Tigers, but I couldn't pick them to beat Texas in the Elite Eight, played in Houston. (Which is another topic. How fundamentally unfair is it that No. 1 seed Memphis would have to play the No. 2 Longhorns in their own state?)

Here are the standings thus far Saturday night, with their picks for champion so you know how quickly they'll collapse when their team loses:

1. Cheryl (North Carolina) - 38
2. Randy (Kansas) - 37
3. Sydney (North Carolina) - 36
3. Stephen (Kansas) - 36
3. CUT THE NET (UCLA) - 36
6. 12345 (North Carolina) - 35
6. Dad (North Carolina) - 35
8. Erin (Memphis) - 34
8. Natalie (Texas) - 34
8. Carol (Memphis) - 34
11. Cody (Kansas) - 32
11. Steve (North Carolina) - 32
13. Val (Kansas) - 31
14. Scott (UCLA) - 30
15. Me (UCLA) - 29
16. Stephanie (Memphis) - 28
17. Michael (Memphis) - 27
17. Jenn (Belmont) - 27

Despite being so awful in the standings currently, so long as UCLA wins it all I have a 95 percent chance to win the group. I won last year when my picks for every game in the elite eight, final four and title game went my way, and that won't change this year, either. If it doesn't happen, meh. King Willie Herenton said he's quitting after 16 years of arrogance, pompousness and race-splitting as Memphis mayor in July, so really, I'm already a winner.

Seriously, y'all who live in Memphis, used to live in Memphis or have driven through Memphis, every other week at work we run these stories from national magazines and groups that rank cities, and my hometown is always in the bottom five of whatever negative list comes out, from crime to foreclosures to couch potatoes. Lately it's the Tigers, Graceland, Beale or bust.

All week pre-Thursday, dozens of pundits picked Pitt to beat Memphis. Ha! Take that, courtesy Michigan State, punks! Guess that won't happen anymore, eh? (In fact, I'm listening to Wednesday's Tony Kornheiser radio show podcast, and he and his "expert" both just had Pitt beating Memphis. Suckers!)

To all who had Duke advancing to the Elite 8 or, God forbid, Final 4, sorry about that. Sucks to be you.

In the NAIA Women's Tournament up the road in Jackson, alma mater Union rolled past Lewis-Clark State College 82-57 in the quarterfinals. They'll play Vanguard in Monday's second semifinal, preceded by fellow TranSouth Conference rivals Freed-Hardeman and Trevecca Nazarene.

During the break in NCAA action, what better way to celebrate the new Spring than waking up bright and early to see the 2004 and 2007 World Series champion Red Sox play in Tokyo at 5 a.m. Central time Tuesday and Wednesday (early day Tuesday, at work Wed., watching ESPN2). And yes, these are official games that count, both against Oakland. Go Sox! And Go Tigers!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Shiny guy, Vader'll get ya

I am well aware that over 5 million people found this before Val's uncle Glenn passed it along in a group email, but we found it hilarious, "Star Wars as told by a three-year-old":

Good for the Sox

The Red Sox yesterday were set to boycott Wednesday's spring training game (airing nationally on ESPN) and their flight to Tokyo for games against Oakland next week because they learned coaches and trainers would get half as much compensation as the players ($40,000) for making the trip. Management agreed to make up the difference and they played ball.

I'm picturing the scene from "Rudy" when all the Notre Dame players tell the head coach they're giving their jerseys for Rudy to take their place and get a chance to suit up for a game. Cue the dramatic music and ... yep, getting a little misty in here. 

Good for the players, and good for the Red Sox administration. That's the kind of team-first thinking and support that wins championships. Perhaps even the third in five seasons?

Could I BE any happier with last night's Idol?

Well, only if Amanda and Carly both got the boot, but Val and I were pretty doggone ecstatic about the results show. Yes, it means another craptastic week of Kristy Lee, but at least I can understand the words to her songs, and I don't have to look at Amanda's tongue anymore. Good times!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Tuesday is a reality TV monster

Three top-notch reality shows were on tonight, so it was important to strategize what to watch, what to flip to, what to record on the DVR and what to record on tape back in the bedroom. Team Valfrey's solution? Watch Idol, flip to Biggest Loser between 7 and 8, record it from 8 to 9 on tape, record Dancing With the Stars on DVR and watch at 9. I spent less time figuring out which engagement ring to buy.

Let's check the tape, and sit back for a long three-part review:

AMERICAN IDOL

Last week was called Lennon-McCartney night, yet they all sang Beatles songs. This week, it's actually called Beatles night. Maybe Paul lost his stake in the divorce to Heather Mills?

Amanda - I wonder how many 16-year-olds heard her sing "Back in the USSR" and wonder where they can find this hip club. The songs sounds like Amanda. This is what she does. Afterwards, she claims to be happy if she just ends up singing in a bar in Lafayette. Good, 'cause that's all she's good for. Simon now agrees, turning on her for sounding the same every week, even after last week being impressed by how she always sounds the same.

Kristy Lee - When the song kicked it up a notch, she dropped down a notch. If she doesn't get the boot Wednesday, it will be a major upset.

David A. - Decent recovery, sticking to the ballad "Long and Winding Road." He could actually win so long as he never sings an upbeat song again.

Michael - "Day in the Life" sounded like something he could croon and/or rock, whatever his style is, but halfway through he starts this weird sound with his voice and it gets worse from there.

Brooke - So sweet, so passionate, so emotional, it will be a shame when police discover she's been burying drifters in her backyard. "Here Comes the Sun" was just that, sunny, from her bright yellow dress to her flighty "dancing" on the stage. After the judges scolded her, unfortunately she'll spend the rest of the contest either sitting at a piano or on the top step with a guitar.

David Cook - "Day Tripper" sounds like a David Cook song, which isn't a bad thing. I don't know what that voice box thing was, but Ryan proved to be a giant wuss for refusing to play with it on stage afterwards.

Why do both McDonald's and Taco Bell have these awful rap/beatbox ads? Sorry guys, you are muted every time the ads come on.

Carly - The "Blackbird" may fly, but this performance should be grounded. Carly starts defending her choice of song to Simon by talking about the blackbird represents the Idol contestants trying to make it in the music business. CARLY ALREADY HAD A CONTRACT AND AN ALBUM. She's flown! She flapped! She failed!

Castro - He gets by with his "aw shucks" smile, plays it totally safe and as a result he'll make it to the top five without effort.

Syesha - Tonight on Idol, Syesha's boobs! She sings "Yesterday," the most played song in radio history. Coming up fast in second? "Wind Beneath My Wings," because it's played 10 frakin' times a night by Delilah's show.

Chikezie - I guess he's decided that he wants to be the first black bluegrass star? Funny thing is, he may actually have a shot. Val and I, however, liked the opening better, slower and more of a croon.

Ramiele - Sings "I Should've Known Better." Any fans of her should have known better that she would be completely dull even though she went upbeat to avoid that criticism.

Bottom three: Kristy Lee, Ramiele, Amanda. Hopefully. Going home? Kristy Lee. Should? Amanda.


DANCING WITH THE STARS

This week, a two-parter, men on Monday, women on Tuesday, LIIIVE!

Penn Jillette - Of the Penn & Teller magicians, he's the one who talks. A lot. And is apparently ginormous. On the floor his predictions of looking like Sasquatch ring true. It's tough for someone who outweighs his partner, Kym, four-to-one to hide behind her as she spins and twirls to give the illusion that they're both this good.

Jason Taylor - He looks like the shapeshifting alien from The Fifth Element. And worries way too much about being called gay by his Miami Dolphins teammates. Dude, just tell them all that you mambo'd with Edyta, if you know what I mean, and they'll leave you alone.

Cristian de la Fuente - Supposedly on "Ugly Betty," I wouldn't know. Representing Chile, Cristian brings the Latin flare with two-time pro champ Cheryl. If he can gain some fans, he'll go far, but if not, he'll be this season's Albert.

Adam Corolla - Awful, but he's hilarious, in my opinion, so I'd be fine if he stuck around a few undeserving weeks.

Mario - The R&B star is the youngest contestant this season at 21, and is the best of the night with some fly hip and foot action. (Do people still say "fly?" Does this negate my chances of being described as such?)

Steve Guttenberg - His personal Cocoon, if he says "Wow" about this experience one more time, even I will tire of his "golly gee whiz" attitude, no matter how awesome it would be if Tackleberry or Winslow could make an appearance in the audience.

Shannon Elizabeth - Half the viewers are wondering why the chick from Showgirls is on the show. Close, but think the other topless girl from American Pie. She's all legs, shows them off with a dress that goes to her waist and her bloomers showing, but doesn't move them gracefully enough to satisfy. Len's advice: "Keep the dresses short." You go, naughty old man! As a result of her Maxim mag icon status, Shannon will not receive a single female vote. Partner Derek says in the intro video that most of the "beautiful women" are voted off early, and ouch! Wonder if season one champ Kelly would beg to differ?

Monica Seles - I adored her as a tennis star in the 90s, and she's just as adorable here, though "El Stiffo," as she admits her body's rigidity during the dance. She's down love-40 and needs a rally off-serve.

Marissa - Far be it from me to criticize the show for picking a plus-sized star, but this is a Tony award winning actress who starred in a musical about dancing on an American Bandstand type show! Tony's sparkly pants are so distracting that I barely notice their moves.

Priscilla Presley - The oldest woman ever on the show, Elvis' widow can break it down! partner Louis was throwing her around all over the floor and she was darn near spry. Maybe it's her experience inside a life-sized condom in The Naked Gun, maybe it's that her face is pulled back so far as to make her unfairly aerodynamic.

Kristi Yamaguchi - A two-time Olympic gold medalist in figure skating, but now she has to master pairs. Not exactly The Cutting Edge, but she's just as elegant as on the ice, and they had a lot of movement, deserving the highest scores of the night.

Marlee Matlin - An Oscar winner, she's deaf and can't hear the music mostly at all. A very interesting challenge, especially for partner Fabian, who is new to the show and seemed a good fit and teacher. Even better, with Fabian here, it means this season won't have any Maks! Yes! I knew the show seemed fresher, more airy, less full of egotistical hot air. Marlee and Fabian weren't quick, but fluid and acceptable.

Next week, the sexes dance again and two are eliminated.

THE BIGGEST LOSER: COUPLES

I was rejected of the happiness of watching Maggie get the boot at the beginning of the show because channel 5 spent a half-hour tracking storms that hadn't spawned tornadoes in northern Arkansas and the bootheel of Missouri. Fox13 wouldn't break into Idol if the station itself were hit by a tornado.

By the time 5 rejoined the show, the contestants were modeling clothes picked out by Tim Gunn (I assume) of "Project Runway," looking fabulous and surprised by a family member at the show. Kelly's makeover was amazing. I couldn't believe that fried hair could be tamed, but hey, what do I know? I once broke a mirror as a kid throwing a brush at it because my stupid cowlick couldn't be tamed.

Mark busts out more man-tears, which has become a little creepy, but in the end Brittany is ousted. What will Jillian do now without her pet? Take it out on Kelly and Ali, I'm sure.

She forgot Prince Mongo, but that's okay

The Sports Guy's wife, The Sports Gal, is my new best pseudo-friend, if only for this comment when making her NCAA picks: "I like Memphis because of the barbecue, the music, Graceland, the Peabody hotel and because it's J.T.'s birthplace. Five good reasons."

Speaking of, J.T. brought sexy back to Memphis yesterday with a movie shoot at The Peabody. Timberlake and Jeff Bridges are "an estranged father and son making a pilgrimage to the bedside of a dying woman played by Mary Steenburgen in "The Open Road," a modestly budgeted independent production from writer-director Michael Meredith, son of football great "Dandy" Don Meredith. Kate Mara ("Brokeback Mountain") comes along for the ride as Timberlake's girlfriend."

McCain and the negative media

It's no secret that I haven't been a big fan of John McCain the Senator, and he was about tenth on my list of Republican presidential candidates. However, now that he's our guy, I've gotten in line and put my considerable weight behind him.

The first thing I've noticed is that now that he's the GOP's guy the media stopped referring to him as a maverick and turned on him with every negative story they've saved for the past decade. According to the Center for Media and Public Affairs and reported by Brit Hume on Fox News: "McCain's media fortunes have taken a dramatic turn for the worse since early January," plummeting from "97 percent positive...before the New Hampshire primary" to "just 30 percent positive since."

In one of the weirder examples of how Hollywood trashes conservatives without actually doing it, earlier this month the NBC crime drama "Medium" featured a plot line in which an Arizona Senator and former POW is discovered to be a two-time murderer and a cannibal. I look forward to next week's "Two And A Half Men" when Charlie Sheen sleeps with McCain's wife and daughter, while McCain starts a paper route in which he sets a record for broken windows and terrorizes Vietnamese immigrants.

There are numerous dumb little stories that come out every day and matter zip to the campaign, serving only to remind the public that McCain is either old or possibly corrupt. The New York Times actually spent on a fictional controversy over whether John McCain's birthplace (the Panama Canal Zone, where his Navy officer father was stationed in 1936) makes the Arizona Senator ineligible for the presidency. It doesn't. When McCain ran in 2000 it was brought up and shot down in a day. The NYT knew this, yet still wasted space on it.

My favorite "We have to mention something negative about McCain" story lately, from March 9, "On campaign trail: few mentions of melanoma." No, but the media will gladly do it!

Let's just see what the Commercial Appeal here in Memphis has had on McCain in just the past few weeks (at least, the stories that actually mention him, three-fourths are about the Hillary-Obama duel):
Boeing backers condemn McCain for tanker deal loss
On the Stump: McCain backs away from supporter Hagee
McCain basks in president's embrace (Which was actually about Bush tap-dancing for the media while McCain made him wait. And then they threw out this kind of sentence: "Double-edged: Bush's endorsement has baggage.")
GOP will face challenges with McCain as presidential nominee
McCain retreats on war comment
Democrats aim to redefine McCain: War-hungry flip-flopper, not straight-talker, they say
McCain swats aside influence issue
'It's not true,' McCain responds

At least liberal columnist E.J. Dionne acknowledges this week that liberals who sung praises of McCain when he slammed GOP now face a test of integrity. "Liberals can't ignore their past praise of McCain and trash him now just because he's the Republican nominee." And then he goes on to slam McCain the rest of the column.

The media won't let up on McCain, but did you notice the self-flagellation when it was suggested that they were going too easy on Obama to the detriment of Hillary?

Obama playing politics with religion and racial extremism

Congratulations, Democrats, your hot shot presidential contender ripped his own grandmother to excuse his black minister for saying hateful, incendiary racist statements such as "God d*** America" for mistreating blacks, blamed America for starting the AIDS virus, training professional killers, and saying the U.S. deserved 9/11:
I can no more disown [Wright] than I can my white grandmother--a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe. ...
For the men and women of Rev. Wright's generation, the memories of humiliation and doubt and fear have not gone away; nor has the anger and the bitterness of those years.
So his grandmother is a racist, but his preacher can't be because he group in a time of civil rights struggles. Is that any better than if someone tried to excuse an elderly white preacher for occasionally slipping up and using the phrase "colored" simply because it was common back in the day? Not a chance. And if I heard my preacher use such language, it wouldn't take me 20 years of sitting in the pew every Sunday, letting a profane race-baiter baptize my kids or marry me - like Obama did - to either leave the church or speak out.

It amuses me to no end to see the media flocking to defend Obama on this story, wondering why they're "forced" to cover it at all. Oh, I don't know, maybe because they'd run wild for months with glee if McCain claimed that his pastor was a close mentor and then it turned out the pastor kicked puppies and advocated whites taking power back in the inner cities.

Mark Steyn:
Condi Rice, for example, has childhood memories of a segregated south and racial violence. But that's what makes Obama's association with Wright so significant. He's not from Alabama. He's a biracial middle-class Kenyan-Kansan Hawaiian-born Indonesian-raised Columbia and Harvard graduate who chose to immerse himself in the most corrosive and paranoid end of a racial-grievance ghetto mentality that is nothing to do with him, his family or his upbringing.

Seems to me that Rev. Wright's comments go a long way to explaining why Michelle Obama said that because of Obama's success that "for the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country." In a speech to a crowd in a South Carolina church in January, according to a profile in The New Yorker magazine, Michelle "begins with a broad assessment of life in America in 2008, and life is not good: we're a divided country, we're a country that is 'just downright mean,' we are 'guided by fear,' we're a nation of cynics, sloths, and complacents. 'We have become a nation of struggling folks who are barely making it every day,' she said, as heads bobbed in the pews. 'Folks are just jammed up, and it's gotten worse over my lifetime. And, doggone it, I'm young. Forty-four!'"

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

It's been a year? Ye gads.

As of Monday, it's been one year since Val and I moved from Atlanta back home to Memphis.

This past weekend, I kind of missed Atlanta, which is natural after spending nine full years there at CNN, but for a weird reason: The severe storms and tornadoes that hit the area. As reporters fled downtown, I saw all the familiar places in the background, CNN, Philips Arena, Centennial Olympic Park, the Georgia Dome. Check out the dramatic slideshow of the storm and the damage.

Not that I regret moving back. Not at all. I'm glad we're back home. I have a good, enjoyable job, still a director, still in TV news, a house in Lakeland and closer to family and friends for the most part.

Speaking of CNN, a bit of a swat on the back of the hand for some truly dumb decisions. Someone there actually distributed a memo telling staff to make positive claims about Fidel Castro when he "stepped down," to balance out the regime's critics, including crediting the communist dictator as a "revolutionary hero" to leftists who established "free education and universal health care."

You have got to be kidding me. Can you imagine if Fox News requested the same of, say, Pinochet, Hitler or George W. Bush? The liberals would go BALLISTIC, and rightly so. An official statement toning down critical views of a tyrannical dictatorship that imprisons journalists who write negatively about the regime gets credit from supposedly the most trusted name in news in America? Shame on you, CNN.

In an example of bad taste by CNN, to talk about the hilarious Eliot Spitzer scandal they trotted out expert legal analyst Kendall Coffey, who, it turns out, has a past of his own. Coffey was once busted for biting a stripper.

Their next bad decision? Hiring a lumberjack to talk about protecting old-growth forests.

Colon Blow

The Red Sox lost to the dang Yanks in Tampa in the rivals' only Spring Training meeting, 8-4, but as far as I'm concerned it doesn't count. After all, seven of the runs came in the first two innings when Boston threw out rally killers Bartolo Colon and Julian Tavarez on the mound.

Obviously Francona didn't want to show new New York manager Joe Girardi anything that could tip him off for the regular season. That would explain why the water boy was on first, and Boston Globe sportswriters filled the outfield.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Don't forget to join the fun!

The tournament gets under way this Thursday, so make your picks for the NCAA Tournament! Join my group (password: 12345) and bask in the glory of victory, or cry over the agony of defeat as you realize you picked all the wrong upsets and are screwed by Friday night. Go Tigers Go!

Customer Service my foot

I called Wild Blue to cancel their satellite internet service that we no longer require since we live in the city again and can get both cable high-speed and television.
 
After being on hold for a half-hour when the automated chick assured me it would be just ten minutes, I hear the phone ring, but there's no answer. Then I hear this digital mess that could be a person, could be a computer.
 
Then it/she hangs up on me. I had four bars, and had heard their muzak clearly for thirty minutes, so it wasn't on my end.
 
Thanks for wasting my time, Wild Blue. You can run, you can hide, can hang up on me, but I will be canceling you!

Vent around the clock

There have been very few decent Vents from the Atlanta paper the last few months, and it's getting depressing:

- When I get up in the morning, I am like Rice Krispies. I snap, crackle and pop!

- I hear Clay Aiken is starring in Spamalot, while Ruben Studdard is eating Spam a lot.

- No offense, but a dancing Statue of Liberty is not going to convince me to let you do my taxes.

- It certainly looks like the Clinton juggernaut has turned to just plain old naught.

- Please remind me why I should give a rat’s posterior what voters in Iowa and New Hampshire think. Thank you.

- To observe Lent, my wife is giving up correcting me whenever I say something wrong. She has not said a word to me in three days.

- Look on the bright side. Now that the primary is done, Washington pols will again ignore us for about eight months.

- Have you noticed how certain songs sound better the louder they are played?

- I saw an Atlanta area news headline that said “Heavy School Security After Shootings.” I have a novel idea. How about “Heavy School Security Before Shootings”?

- Even better headline: “Heavy School Security Prevents Shootings.”

- The people that pay xtra 4 personalzd lic platz, should still make shur peopl can figure them owt. Y make a statemnt if nobody nos what the h**l u r trying 2 say?

- I can’t believe it’s the year of the Rat… I’m still writing Monkey on all of my checks!

- If Hillary Clinton were my vice president, I would have someone tasting my food.


My Vents:

- I'm not watching "Wheel of Fortune" anymore until they bring back the ceramic dog to buy.

- It's one thing to teach children their history "warts and all", quite another to obsess on the warts at the expense of all else. (Courtesy Mark Steyn)

- Restaurant servers, I'm not impressed by you memorizing - or trying to memorize - my order. Write it down!

- The Christian backlash against The Golden Compass worked so well that secular critics lashed out at Christian parents who refused to march their children to the theater to here their own views denigrated.

- So the Democrats have been in charge of Congress for a year, yet none of their promises have been fulfilled: That there’d be no war, our allies would love us, global warming would be brought to heel, and we would have universal health care, happily married gay neighbors and embryonic stem cells for everybody. (Courtesy Jonah Goldberg)

- You, on the crotch rocket doing wheelies at 50 mph down the street, I'm not going to feel sorry for you when you're smeared across the pavement after running into a truck.

- If people who use walkers always cut holes in tennis balls to put on the front legs, why doesn't a manufacturer just make walkers with balls on the front legs?

- Saying that Hillary has Executive Branch experience is like saying Yoko Ono was a Beatle. (Courtesy The Corner.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

I was hoping for something more like "Stud Finder"

At ABC.com, my Sawyer nickname is Cloudy.

I have no idea what that means. See if you have any better ones.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Greatest karma moment in sports history

I missed this a year or two ago, so it's new to me, and wicked awesome.

During a game in Colorado, Steve Sullivan, then with the Chicago Blackhawks, was hit with a high stick to the face, and as he's bleeding back to the bench a heckler starts at him. Sullivan goes on to score a couple of goals, and then the Colorado goalie clears the puck, which goes over the glass, hits the heckler in the nose and makes him bleed even worse, so Sullivan gets his chance to skate over and say a few words. That's karma.



Link courtesy Deadspin.

In sports news

The Union Lady Bulldogs, undefeated (32-0) and No. 1 in the NAIA all season, start their quest for their fourth national title in 19 appearances Wednesday against some school named Science And Arts. If they win, they take on History And Women's Studies?

The Red Sox released backup catcher Doug Mirabelli, a perennial fan favorite. Why? If anyone has Tim Wakefield on their fantasy roster, drop him now, because Mirabelli is the only catcher who can handle the knuckleballs.

Even though we're coming off a World Series championship and all the Spring Training mags herald the Sox as being just as great, I have to say I'm a bit worried about the pitching staff. Schilling's out until at least after the All-Star break, Beckett's sitting out March with back problems, now Wakefield doesn't have Mirabelli as his personal catcher, and Lester and Buchholz are both relatively untested in a full season. Big Papi and Manny better hit 45 homers apiece, is all I'm saying.

I'm even more confused how to deal with this one. Turns out rookie stud Buchholz is dating a Penthouse Pet. Hopefully he won't have a Kim Basinger/black widow-in-The Natural moment, and more Susan Sarandon/goddess teacher-in-Major League experience.

Mo' Harry

I see the news today that the 7th and final Potter book, The Deathly Hollows, will be split into two movies, starting in Nov. 2010. Can't complain. So what if the actors will be, what, 30 by then? It worked okay for the "90210" gang, am I right?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Idol going my way

Down to 11, and last night's vote couldn't have been simpler and my preference. Well, except for the order in which I'm hoping people will go from here.
 
The bottom three of Kristy Lee, David H. and Syesha didn't bother me at all, and the stripper getting the boot certainly made both me and Val happy.
 
In fact, if it's going to be this easy, we might as well not even watch the next six weeks until we get to a final five of Brooke, Jason, Davids A and C, and Michael.
 
Yeah, right. Don't worry, we'll be back next Wednesday morning!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Comcast - To Be Fair

Just a follow up from Monday's blog about our DVR box on the fritz. Tuesday afternoon Val and I went to the local payment center and the gentleman behind the counter noted our problem, got a new DVR out of the back and we were on our way in just five minutes. When we got home it booted up fine and we enjoyed all the features in time for Idol. So thanks, Comcast, so far so good!
 

Judges have their agenda, we don't want sucky people to stay on Idol

Tonight the top 12 debuts to the songs of Lennon & McCartney. Actually, everyone sings Beatles songs, but I guess the producers didn't want to pay for anything that George or Ringo wrote, 'cause they're to the Beatles what Sporty and Scary were to the Spice Girls.
 
New stage, new graphics, same judges, same host, same singers getting voted through even though they stink. This ... is American Idol! 
 
SYESHA - First up, good luck with that. She's pulls her hair back and sings a Beatles song by way of Earth, Wind and Fire, which is a common theme tonight in an effort not to sound exactly like the Fab 4. She's not bad, decent vocally but a dull performance. Everyone cheers and Syesha eye boggles when Simon says she was "better than alright," which Randy called it, but Simon didn't exactly say it was great, either.
 
CHIKEZIE - In the video (this week they talk about their previous jobs and schooling) he reveals that he's been a TSA screener at LAX, apologizing for being the guy who feels you up and takes your water bottle. Good move. He sings "She's a Woman" with a bluegrass beginning and rocking end. Entertaining, though the music was so loud we couldn't hear his voice over it much of the time. He kept slapping his hand on his hip. Did he have a razor in his hand to help him hit that falsetto at the end? Ryan starts dancing around the stage afterwards, and it's all very awkward because Chikezie has long since calmed down, leading me to believe that he's taking Paula's happy pills tonight.
 
RAMIELE - We see her at the sushi restaurant she worked at, but we don't get to see the widely circulated pictures of her fondling her female co-workers' chests. She dedicates "In My Life" to Danny, whom she knew for, what, three weeks, total? Latch on, much? Randy was bored, Paula gave her typical kiss of death, "you look pretty," and Simon ripped her. I thought the vocals were good and it was a slow song so I'm not sure how entertaining it was supposed to be. Certainly she did better than the past few weeks, at least.
 
JASON - His family being Colombian, this might explain all the pot use. That he sang a slow song sitting with a guitar the whole time, "If I Fell," and the judges didn't criticize him for a slow song and no entertainment value like Ramiele about, oh, three minutes before, says a lot about how the judges have prejudged talent and are rooting for certain contestants. I think Jason knew that no matter what he sang or how he sang it, he's safe for several weeks. Afterwards, Simon remarked that he sounded like a "student in his bedroom at midnight," which Ryan used as an excuse to make a "Simon is gay" type crack, which started the first of Simon's "Ryan is a pedophile" suggestions.
 
CARLY - You might have heard that Carly is Irish. It's been in the news. Val and I don't get it. Why do the judges the producers feel like they could make her into a star? For goodness' sake, Simon compared her to Kelly Clarkson! What? How? It can't be her voice. I mean, her bluesy rendition of "Come Together" was alright, but nothing special.
 
DAVID COOK - How to follow up his "Hello" that rocked America's world? "Eleanor Rigby" in his own rocking style. Good performance, the judges really liked it, although Paula was going on about horses so I'm not sure if she was listening.
 
BROOKE - There's just something very sweet and passionate about her. I mean, she was a nanny for twins, how more all-American can she get? She plays the guitar, she plays the piano, she sings well, she's blue-eyed and blonde with a big smile, she deserves to make top five, if you know what I mean. You know, like, she has all the "it" factors that, say, shows like "Canterbury's Law" and "New Amsterdam" don't have in their previews to make you give a flip.
 
DAVID HERNANDEZ  - During Simon and Ryan's "you're gay, no you're gayer," here comes David to prove that neither of them could hang with his gay stripper crowd. His previous job, according to his video? A pizza bistro. Is that what the flaming kids are calling it these days? Is that like the Blue Oyster of "Police Academy" fame? At the end he says how he'll be "working the stage," which, yeah, that's what he's good at. Anyway, his "I Saw Her Standing There" is entertaining in that it's fast and loud, but for quality? Very karaoke. Randy said it was "overdone." Paula said he "overdid it," which is completely different than what Randy said. Simon said it was a "rabbit in the headlights," which, yeah, he's British, I guess.
 
AMANDA - For someone pimped as being "edgy," she's the mayor of Dullsville. Her "You Can't Do That" was 90 percent unintelligible. Of course, the judges were blown away. When Simon acknowledged that he couldn't understand much of it, Paula argued "that's what we like." Okay, so they admit Amanda's all image, no substance?
 
MICHAEL - Did you know he's from Australia? Just in case you hadn't, he is. He goes with "Across the Universe," thankfully the Fiona Apple version, which I can't believe but I actually like better than the Beatles' version. Tis a strange universe, indeed. Solid vocals, better song choice than the last couple of weeks, though the judges are mixed. The weirdest part was after, when Simon asked, "what's the Irish girl's name?" So he doesn't know the people he's pushing the most? Or pretends?
 
KRISTY LEE - I'm not sure why she's still here. The votefortheworst.com people are calling for Amanda, so who's Kristy Lee's constituency? Her country version of "Eight Days a Week" isn't awful, but too twangy, and I feel bad when the judges go off on her. Paula essentially tells her, "You know how we pushed you to be country? Never mind."
 
ARCHULETA - The worst of the night. Shocking, I know, but he noticeably forgot the words, and then boringly made he way through the rest of it. Like Simon said, "a mess." But we all know he's safe.
 
Who's going home? Kristy Lee or David Hernandez. Anyone else would be a surprise.
 
Elsewhere, how about THE BIGGEST LOSER: COUPLES? The elimination isn't until next week, and instead they added two former contestants to the mix, one of whom, Aly, was unfairly kicked off in week four and has no clue what she's getting into in terms of drama. She got that aplenty. The black team broke down emotionally and is a wreck. Jillian even cursed out host Allison at the weigh-in for daring to ask a question about how emotional this game has been. Awk. Ward. Maggie is a b*tch more and more every week, and if she doesn't get the boot next week I'll be ticked. Last week she cried over how she perceived the Blue Team to be happy when a Black Teamer didn't lose a lot of weight. This week, Dan only loses four pounds and Maggie's smiling so broadly you'd think she just down an entire box of Bon Bons. I'm pulling for Jay, Aly and Roger now, in that order.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

March Madness

This weekend is Selection Sunday, so get ready to make your picks for the NCAA Tournament! Join my group (password: 12345) and bask in the glory of victory, or as "One Shining Moment" begins playing after the final game, cry in the BBQ sauce puddle left on your table as you realize it's April and it's all over, you're a loser and your team lost to Winthrop in the first round *coughTennesseecough*. Go Tigers Go!

As a reminder, here are last year's final standings:

1. Me - 151 points; 44 out of 63 picks correct (Florida)
2. Dad - 143; 48 of 63 (Florida)
3. Jorge - 138; 47 of 63 (Florida)
4. Michael C. - 128; 41 of 63 (Florida)
5. Karen - 107; 36 of 63 (Florida)
6. Syd - 104; 46 of 63 (North Carolina)
7. Val's Mom - 99; 47 of 63 (Memphis)
t8. Kevin - 93; 45 of 63 (Georgetown)
t8. Erin - 93; 45 of 63(Memphis)
10. Val - 91; 46 of 63(UCLA)
11. Steve - 90; 39 of 63(Ohio State)
12. Southern Girl - 87; 45 of 63(Kansas)
13. Cody - 83; 46 of 63(Texas)
14. Scott - 64; 37 of 63(Kansas)
15. Jenn R. - 50; 33 of 63(Memphis)
16. Amy C. - 28; 23 of 63(Miami-OH)

Day one, not in a hurry to unpack

It took six weeks to move in to the new house, why try to unpack in a day, am I right?

This morning as Val went to work, I rearranged boxes to make it easier for the Comcast guy to install our cable, DVR and high-speed Internet, which ended up taking three hours due to the fact that the previous homeowners had the Dish, never had cable and the two guest bedrooms didn't even have holes for cables. So the guy (in good spirits throughout) drilled, poked and hooked everything up while I sat on the couch reading the paper and watching tripe like Regis & Kelly and the eighteen hours of Today, while eating oven-reheated pizza from Sunday's move. (The microwave is busted. Not good times. More like, freaking-the-heck-out, how-to-eat-my-Hungry-Man times.)

When Val got home from work at 1:30 we headed to lunch and do some price comparison for a new stove and microwave that goes over the range, plus check into getting drapes, blinds and whatever else we need and can afford (i.e. charge to Sears, JC Penney and Macy's; I don't think they require repayment. So generous.).

After an afternoon of this we went to Texas Roadhouse to celebrate. Why there? Because we had a gift card from Christmas courtesy big bro Scott and his lovely wife Jenn, and a coupon for a free appetizer courtesy Michael and his dearest, Amy, from their trip last week.

Since we had lunch at 2 and stopped at the Dairy Queen in the mall during our shopping trip, we actually weren't that hungry for dinner, but didn't want to go home first. We skipped the appetizer and shared a combo meal instead. This was our first time at Texas Roadhouse (we think - might have eaten there in Jacksonville back in Sept. 06), they have this policy where the host/hostess points at meat and tells us about the fresh cuts, we think he wants us to select one right then and there, but we're confused and just nod, he talks about baking their fresh bread (which, fine, so does Logan's, O'Charley's, etc.), and the manager actually comes over to give us their "story" and a couple of free ribs to sample.

Luckily we'd already ordered ribs, because the ones she gave us must have been from Saturday's leftover pile. They were tough and burned, as if I'd cooked them on a wire hanger over a tire fire out back. With the actual meal, the ribs fell off the bone and slid right down my throat into Yummyville. The steak was doggone good as well. Didn't even need the A1. I was sure to thank the cow for being so healthy.

Back home, the DVR is broken. It won't even turn on, and after consulting with Comcast's online chat help (while still on hold on the phone), it was determined that our box was headed for the giant scrap heap of cable failures in the sky. I won't say which company makes the box we were given, but it rhymes with Lyintific Shamerica. I'll have to go to a Comcast place to exchange it for an actual working model, which I'm pretty sure I requested last week to begin with.

The high-speed, though? Awesomely fast. The modem will certainly break by April, if only due to the amount of surfing I'm currently averaging, which amounts to about fifteen windows open at a time, plus iTunes downloading podcasts five at a time. The C Drive has scorch marks.

Exhausted, pooped, tired, worn out, we unpacked exactly zero boxes and I haven't even set up our bed yet so we'll be sleeping on the box spring/mattress on the floor again. I'm okay with that. By tomorrow night, though, Official Darling Wife of Thanks For Noticing Me might start to care. Better get some sleep and make an effort in the morning, eh? (While the pizza's in the oven, I mean. After that, it'll be Couch City. But please, no Regis or Kelly. Ick.)

Sunday, March 09, 2008

We. Are. Moved.

After approximately 5,440 days of remodeling and two snow day postponements, Val and I finally added our furniture and dozens of boxes to our new home, so we figure we might as well stay there from now on. Not that I won't have a "honey do" list the length of the fireplace (speaking of ...).
 
This morning we picked up the U-Haul at 9, and me and my father-in-law loaded up everything at the house. Moving down the street to storage, we were joined by Val's brother Ken and bro-in-law Randy. At the house we were joined by Val's uncle Steve and cousin Chris, who even helped make a second trip back to Millington to empty the storage and get back to Lakeland to finish up by 3:30 after I had headed to work. Not just a guy day, Val kept things moving as our Moving Coordinator and my mom-in-law picked up the pizza and helped Val unpack the kitchen.
 
Tomorrow, up at 8 to wait for the Comcast guy to give us that sweet, sweet, digital cable, DVR and high-speed Internet that doesn't involve a satellite dish. Nice to be connected again. Until the first time we can't log on. Then we're back on the Annoyed Train.
 
Of course, we can't afford any of it anymore.
 
Let's take a look at our meal plan for dinners next week reflecting newfound poorness with a mortgage, utilities and everything involved with homeownership:
 
Monday - Ramen Noodles (Chicken & Mushroom)
Tuesday - Frozen dinners
Wednesday - Spaghetti Noodles (with butter, or tomato sauce if can steal from neighbor's garden)
Thursday - Hot dogs (no buns)
Friday - Ramen Noodles (Beef)
Saturday - Splurge! Wendy's chicken & chili combo, large-sized! Or go crazy, get TWO Arby's roast beef sandwiches!
 
 
 

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Melting in Memphis

Val and I ended up taking a snow day and not moving this morning. The driveway and our rural street was still snowcovered at 7 a.m., so we changed the U-Haul to tomorrow morning at 9.

Instead, we enjoyed the stillness and beauty of the early morning covered in snow.









And naturally, by the time we ate breakfast and took a nap, by 11 the roads were melted and the driveway clear. Oh well, it was a good lazy day anyway, we got to play in the snow before it was gone and I get to go to work without it seeming too dangerous. Sure was pretty!


Friday, March 07, 2008

Snow Day

A few days ago I posted the pictures of the brief and unsticky snow showers in our area. Today we got the Real Deal, and the dogs did enjoy it!





Pictures taken by Val, since I was napping. Tonight we'll enjoy a fire while packing, since we pushed back the move from this afternoon and are supposed to move tomorrow morning at 7 a.m.

Or not, considering we'll have four inches of snow and currently live in a rural area, so getting out of the driveway isn't guaranteed. But hey, it's snowing! By Sunday it will be 60 degrees again, so enjoy it now, am I right?!

Finally, the top 12!

Some apathy and one happy surprise about last night's IDOL cuts. Very happy to see Danny go, don't care that A's'i'a'h', Kady or Luke got the boot. In fact, when Luke was tossed they cut to a shot of the girls and I'm pretty sure some of them thought they were seeing this guy for the first time ever.
 
Now that many viewers will be rejoining the show after skipping the auditions and L.A. rounds, let's look at the prospects of the top 12:
 
Expendable: Kristy Lee Cook, Brooke White, Jason Castro and Chikezie, all of whom will appear in the finals and you'll think, "Wait, they were on the show?"
 
Should be good for a joke or two: David Hernandez and Ramiele, if only for their online picture contributions to TMZ, The Soup, Best Week Ever, etc.
 
Judges will push into top six but America doesn't care as much: Amanda and Carly.
 
Top Four: David Archuleta, Michael Johns, Syesha and David Cook. Will there be a surprise or has little Archuleta already won the thing?

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Let's try this again

(This is the post from Wednesday morning but came back to me as "undeliverable.")
 
This morning our weather guy is forecasting rain Thursday night with snow into Friday. I'm picking up the U-Haul Friday at 12:30 p.m. for our official move to Team Valfrey Estates. This could get interesting. In the meantime, we're in touch-up mode, finishing little things in preparation of the Big Day. And then begins the one-year fixup mode where we remember little things every few weeks that we were going to take care of. And then there's we-have-kids-and-no-time-for-cleaning mode where it all goes to heck because we're too tired to care. Now on to last night's shows!
 
THE BIGGEST LOSER: COUPLES - When we heard the teams were merging into individuals Val and I were worried that it meant the outnumbered Blue Team would get picked off one by one. And then we remembered that so long as you don't fall in the bottom two of the weigh-in you're safe, so it ended up being two of the Black Teamers competing for votes at the end, and Bernie got the boot. After saving partner Brittany with immunity. And she would have been in the bottom two instead of him if he hadn't. Oops. Either way, it's Jay, Roger or bust for us, as we have good reasons for not wanting any of the others to win. And since Val and I are the only ones watching this show, onto the main event ...
 
AMERICAN IDOL - No, we had no idea either that David No 3, David Cook, would end up with the best performance of the season thus far with his rock ballad version of Lionel Richie's "Hello." He could release that as a single today and make millions. Which means he'll get the boot tonight. Good luck with that.
 
LUKE - A goner. No way he makes it to the top 12 next week. First off, his most embarrassing moment in the pre-song video was getting dressed up like a girl by his sister, and then he sings a Wham song. Wow, way to build street cred there, Lukey. It's almost like he's self-sabotaging.
 
DAVID ARCHULETTA - I didn't care for his arrangement of Phil Collins' "Another Day in Paradise," but the kid's great and even though Paula didn't want to squeeze his head off and hang it from her rearview mirror today, we all know he'll make the top three even if he sang "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" every week.
 
DANNY NORIEGA - I'm still holding out hope he'll get the boot this week, but it won't happen. "Tainted Love" is now tainted forever after this. And what the heck is this "TMTH" business? When did we start using text message lingo on Idol? The minute Randy says a song made him ROFLMAO, I'm out.
 
DAVID HERNANDEZ - His most embarrassing moment did not appear to happen on his stage naked in front of women and gay men, in case you were in line for Super Tuesday and didn't hear about his stripper past. For a club named "Dick's." I'm not kidding. And then he sings Celine's "All Coming Back to Me," which was the video with she and Meat Loaf, and there are too many jokes to list.
 
MICHAEL JOHNS - Two minutes before he got up there I said that I wished someone would sing "Don't You (Forget About Me)," so Michael obliged, and then it was weak and not very good. Crud. Tonight if one of the girls sings "St. Elmo's Fire," they're in trouble, because I was hoping for that as well.
 
JASON CASTRO - Surprisingly, his most embarrassing moment wasn't that he walks around every day looking like John Travolta in "Battlefield Earth." He sang "Hallelujah," written by Leonard Cohen in the 80s but made more famous by Jeff Buckley, which brings forth a story. Just Monday when Jeff Healey died, even though Val assured me that he was the blind guy who sang "Angel Eyes," I had to call my sister Stacy for confirmation because for the past 11 years I thought Healey died by drowning in the Mississippi River here in Memphis. No, Stacy confirmed, it was Buckley, the hipster singer, who tragically passed while singing a Led Zeppelin song and fully clothed in the river before being swept away.
 
CHIKEZIE - He wasn't bad, and unfairly attacked by Simon for singing a Whitney Houston song, "All The Man/Woman That I Need," never mind that Luther Vandross sang the song with the lyrics changed two decades ago. Does Simon even listen to music? Does he know the songs he pretends not to know, just to bag on the contestants? I love the guy, but that makes Simon an a-hole.

Idol girls, if you see this at all

Hmmm, this morning when I got to work I had a note saying that delivery of my email to Blogger was delayed. And yet, my emails to Val were going through just fine all morning afterwards. And something I emailed to myself at work never arrived. That's worrisome. Almost as much as the fact that the weather folks are talking about a rain/snow mix mess tonight and into Friday when we're trying to move. Ick.
 
Last night on IDOL, the girls did not blow us away, and frankly I'm wondering if there's a chance that the top six overall will end up being all guys. The two girls the judges are pimping the most - Amanda the biker nurse and Carly the Irish chick - are two that I don't like. But then again, the other six last night weren't exactly Celine, Whitney and Aretha on stage.
 
The best last night: Um, Syesha, I guess. But like Randy and Paula and Simon said, she was "good." That's about all the excitement she generated.
 
Elsewhere, Ramiele wasn't nearly as titillating as her internet photos, Kristy Lee still looks like she's riding a horse even during a slow song, A's'i'a'h' tried Whitney even after they told her she couldn't sing diva songs, Kady is a blank slate and Brooke seems to have a different look every week and none of them inspire confidence.
 
Who's going home? I'm going with Kristy Lee or Kady to eliminate one of the generic blonds, plus A's'i'a'h', though I'm hoping Amanda or Carly. Amanda doesn't even look like she wants to be there anymore.
 
Even better last night was the PROJECT RUNWAY finale. Christian was the inevitable winner, picked not just for his "fierce" designs but his attitude. I probably would have rather Jillian won, and Val and I agreed that Romi had the best collection in the finale, but I'm not upset. Christian's certainly a world of his own.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

What the heck?

I wrote out a typically long Idol post this morning and emailed it from work, but nothing's here? Wha? Who? Why? Grrrrr.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Snowy if not sticky

This morning we woke up to some pretty snow showers, though it only stuck to the roof.

Sam and Patches, however, did not get too enthusiastic about it.