Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Neil Diamond and Def Leppard, a night made for Jeff and reality TV

AMERICAN IDOL
 
Every year this happens. The top 12 looks amazingly strong with at least 10 possible winners. By the time the contest reaches the top six, however, most have sung themselves out of contention, and you wonder how they messed up along the way. This year, a final five of David Cook, David Archuletta, Brooke, Castro and Syesha was almost inevitable, and yet now I can only see Cook and Syesha in the top two. Archy, Brooke and Castro are all best on slow songs, can't sing upbeat at all and the latter two stopped gellin' in March; they either don't care anymore or need to go.
 
Who else need a breather? Paula. How confused was she after the first round of performances? Ye gads, she couldn't follow her own notes, and at one point thought Castro had sung twice already. Does anyone have a transcript of that nonsense?
 
All in all, a decent night for me, only because I got to hear most all of my favorite Neil Diamond songs. Yes, that's right, if you didn't know already, I'm a big fan. Answers a lot of questions, doesn't it? Let's see if the Idols did justice to his masterpieces:
 
Castro - "Forever in Blue Jeans" was actually my favorite of his this season. And then it all changed. "September Morn" was more like September Mourn, he sang it so dourly. Has he ever had a girlfriend? Felt anything besides the coolness of Cheetos powder on his fingers? It didn't help when during the initial meet-and-greet with Diamond that he didn't even know the words or bring the lyrics. And then the entire show he's all, "Whoa, do I even care about any of this?" He's like the Forrest Gump of Idol.
 
Cook - Picked a couple of songs that I recognized, but most won't. He rocked them both, the second one more of a ballad. It was his typical great stuff, and frankly at this point if he doesn't win I'll be surprised. My only advice from here on out is borrowed from the legend Han Solo a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away: "Great rocking kid. Don't get cocky."
 
Brooke - Her first choice was a disaster, "I'm a Believer," a song heard ten times a night at every karaoke bar in the country. Yes, it's a fave of me and Val and was part of our wedding video, and by that I mean, exactly. Not a good Idol song choice. Second she toned it down with "I Am, I Said," and performed without an ounce of feeling. You know that "Sleepless in Seattle" quote, "You don't want to be in love; you want to be in love in a movie?" Brooke doesn't want to be an Idol, she wants to be a singer on stage. She looks freaked out, like Cougar after he was locked-on by the Mig in "Top Gun."
 
Archy - Ugh. Why did it have to be him to sing my two favorite Diamond songs, "Sweet Caroline" and "America." Here's hoping next time I'm singing "Sweet Caroline" at Fenway during the middle of the 8th inning I won't have the little robot's version playing in my head. And really, the judges loved his "America?" He sang it in one monotone note for two minutes, and tried to ruin my memories of the song being played at the Mid-South Coliseum before Memphis Americans indoor soccer games. Why Archy, why??!!!!! He's dead to me.
 
Syesha - With merely a pleasant "Hello, Again" and "Thank the Lord for the Night Time," she still managed to be second-best for the night, playing the role of the "Survivor" winners whom you barely heard of until the final four, staying under the radar for 36 of the 39 days until the rest of the tribe looked around and decided, "Hey, she didn't stab us in the back. Let her have the money."
 
My bottom two: Brooke and Castro.
 
Should go: Brooke.
 
 
DANCING WITH THE STARS
 
Def Leppard still rocks it like they did for my first concert way back in the mid-80s at the Mid-South Coliseum, DanceCenter is the best offbeat segment of the results shows and only Shannon getting voted out made me less irritated that Christian would choose to stay and participate despite needing surgery. If he can't dance well next week with two performances, Shannon has a right to be ticked off.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Mmyyy Wsddsmms Tthhee Rrrrrrrr Otutut

Sorry, I have trouble talking lately. Must be all the gauze in my mouth after having my wisdom teeth yesterday. I looked so sexy when I got home and tried to just drink water.


But my darling Valerie has been taking super excellent care of me, making sure I took all my medicines on time, changed out the gauze and made all the right foods. Mashed potatoes never tasted so good as last night when I could get something down my throat.

I was way too tired to take notes on Dancing With the Stars, and it may have been the drugs, but did Len really give Kristi an 8 when Carrie Ann and Bruno gave her a ten? And did Jason really awesomely dance to the NFL Monday Night Football theme?

Today's been fine, though my mouth feels smaller without the extra teeth, and my tongue darts around the corners of mouth looking for them. Eating lunch this afternoon I noticed how I would push food to those corners to rely on for chewing. Not a good idea with four holes there right now.

The surgery itself wasn't too bad. They gave me some headphones to listen to (I turned to the Jim Rome show on the sports/talk station) but didn't hear much since the nurse and doctor had to talk to me. I went with the laughing gas only (the IV sedation would have been $300 more), and was aware the entire time of what was happening. I felt pulling, heard cracking and paid attention the conversation in the room. The doctor recommends that "Mad Men" show on AMC. After less than a half-hour they were done and I walked out to Val.

The only problem on the drive home was when Val was depositing a check at the bank drive-thru and I tried to drink some water. My face was numb, so that didn't go well as it involved blind tipping and much dribbling. The gauze on the left side of my face slipped out and caught in my throat, and I couldn't breathe much to swallow, so it took a second of struggling before I stopped freaking my wife the heck out.

What with the pain pills, antibiotics, steroids and Tylenol/Advil, I've been plenty drugged up and pain free, and hopefully, like last time I was really sick, come Friday's weigh-in all that soft foods will mean lost pounds on the scale!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Eye Witless News

- Earlier Sunday evening a report from the local ABC affiliate, Eyewitness News 24 led with a report on a rise of break-ins "in Lakeland." Problem: In their report they went to a location that is NOT IN LAKELAND AT ALL. This street is in a subdivision south of Highway 64, and thus Cordova, which is by and large Memphis. It's not even the same zip code as Lakeland. Can our mayor sue for bad publicity?

- Quote of the week, courtesy the AP reporting on piracy in the Indian Ocean:
"We are not scared of the U.S. troops or any other troops stationed off our waters. Why should we be scared?" asked Siyad, a Somali pirate who asked that his full name not be used for fear of reprisals.
Not exactly Patrick Henry, eh?

- When will the country see that a chill wind has descended over this country, that all dissent is crushed by Chimpy McBushitler and his cronies? When a 9/11 Truther can't even beat on a wheelchair-bound girl with cerebral palsy in an effort to speak truth to power to the First Lady and her daughter at a children's book signing, then a new era of McCartyism has begun. I weep for us all.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Reverse jinx

Um, remember that post about a week ago when I was so cocky about the Red Sox winning 10 of 11 and how it must not have mattered too badly that they made that stupid Japan trip? Never mind. Looks like they brought some bad sushi back to the States.
 
After being swept by the Rays for the first time ever, and with Dad in this weekend for his birthday (sorry Dad), the Sox have dropped five straight, managing just two hits in a shutout this afternoon. During that stretch, Captain Tek, Dice-K and Delcarmen were all out with an illness that spread throughout the clubhouse, Beckett missed a start with a stiff neck before being today's hard-luck loser and Sean Casey was placed on the DL, when we needed him to fill in at first while Mike Lowell is on the DL and Youk takes over at third.
 
I'm not saying that panic is in order, I'm just saying that if someone needs to sacrifice a chicken, then let's get on with it already.
 
Ye gads. Patience, fans, patience. The good news is, the dang Yanks are stinking up the field as well, needing a 1-0 shutout just to stay at .500.
 
The better news, Monday is an off day. The champs need it. Chicken donations or KFC coupons are welcome.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Random weekend ramblings

Sure, it was fun to spend my Saturday in the yard, mowing and trimming and washing and cutting, but I most looked forward to playing with my new toy, the weedwacker. Oh, the joy in butchering any and every weed around the front yard and edging by the driveway and sidewalk. Meanwhile, Val was trimming the hedges. By the end her hands were shaking like she'd downed a gallon of Starbucks coffee, so perhaps I'll be buying an electric trimmer if she's going to do this again. Not that she'll have to do so anytime soon. Our bushes seem impossible to make round or boxy, preferring the "any which way" shape, so I hold open the likely possibility of ripping them all up and starting over again. Yes, even the azaleas, which are gorgeous when blooming, not so much when dormant, which appears to be most of the year. We'll go with the easiest plants and bushes to maintain, and try a green thumb some other year.
 
Val and I tried out the nearest Mexican restaurant for dinner tonight. Bueno. Comfy booths, big clean tables, music isn't too loud, great chicken and rice dish that will go fine with our diet. When the guy-who-never-speaks-English-at-these-places brought us the chips and salsa, he left two small bowls. One was bigger than the other, and had water in it. For ten whole minutes Val and I tried to figure out what this "special bowl" was for. I got the nerve to ask our waiter, finally, and he looked puzzled and said they did no such thing, and it must have been out of the dishwasher like that. So why did we feel like the idiots?
 
I admit that Team Valfrey will never have our own show on HGTV, but we don't get home decor styles nowadays. Why does every store feature all sizes, colors and materials of stars? Stars? Really? I'm considering making one of the guest rooms a sarcastic style of stuff we make fun of at Old Time Pottery, Gordman's, Home Depot, etc. Along with all sorts of stars, we'll have five of the big shiny spheres that look like bubbles, one on a turtle, another on a frog and three on birdbath pedestals, and then we'll hang a few smiling iron suns, one with a mirror in the middle. Outside, every three feet we'll stick one of those posts for hanging things. What will hang? A mix of small lanterns, bird feeders and wind chimes, all decorated with patriotic themes.
 
Watching "Cops" at work right now, what makes me respect them as much as anything else is their ability to fight with a suspect who is resisting arrest, and ten seconds later talk with the guy/gal as if they're best buds. After hanging up with a telemarketer I want to stab my couch with a spork, yet these officers barely blink when a pistol-packing punk is subdued after spitting at them and trying to kick six bags of crack under a car.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Late to the dance

Okay, so Dancing With The Stars was Monday and Tuesday and I never posted a review, so I won't make this comprehensive. In summary:

- Shannon and Derek's hissy fit after getting a teensy weensy bit of criticism was pathetic. I know they're dating and Derek feels the need to defend her, but to lash out at other contestants can't win him points. He certainly didn't yell at the camera when Jennie Garth was criticized last year. Shannon's lucky they didn't judge the group dance; it looked like her knees wouldn't bend she was so stiff.

- Marlee had to go. It was her time. She's an inspiration, sure, but she was getting worse, not better. Does she have Henry Winkler, to blame, for crashing her practice session? Of course no. The Fonz only brings good luck. Hopefully Fabian will return next season, though. Good addition to the professionals, and a million times more bearable than Maks.

- Mario dedicated "Let's Get It On" to his six-year-old brother why? That was almost as awkward as the guy on American Idol last year dedicating it to his mother. Just naughty.

- Best line from Tom, regarding the group dance with a country theme: This is the best "chance to see Jason Taylor in a Cowboys uniform."

- Marissa finally did a slow dance, and not bad, either. She's really gaining confidence, and surprisingly she's not getting ever more annoying with all the screaming every week.

- When it comes down to freestyle in the final week, I will make my first vote ever on the show if someone will do the Time Warp.

- Do you even remember when Monica Seles and Penn Jillette were on the show? For that matter, it seems like forever since we've heard from Steve Guttenberg and Adam Corolla, too.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Gaining wisdom hurts

You know what they say, with age comes wisdom, but without wisdom teeth.

Hopefully I'm due to gain a bit next Monday when I get all four of mine extracted forcefully under the knife and under serious drugs. (That is what they mean by "wisdom teeth," right? That you generally take them out when young and ready to leave behind the immaturity of youth? Not that I've done that, but it's a start, right?)

I always figured I wouldn't have to worry about my wisdom teeth. I've had strong teeth and no problems with cavities or needing braces, chortling at all the suckers out there who spend hours upon hours at the dentist. Turns out, the two bottom wisdom teeth grew in fine, but the top right one is out but decayed, and the top left one is impacted and about to cause problems. Oops.

Of course, my insurance apparently doesn't cover anesthesia, so instead of the good drugs I told the doc to just hit me over the hit with a frying pan, "Tom & Jerry" style, and I'd be fine.

At least it was only slightly (read: hugely) humiliating that I have a hair-trigger gag reflex. The appointment being in the morning and before breakfast, I was lucky that I only dry heaved every three seconds as the assistant tried to take an x-ray of my decayed tooth way in the back. They ended up having to use the device that scans the entire mouth and requires nothing gag-inducing, which is the dental equivalent of bumpers over gutters in bowling alleys.

Let's see, in the past year, I've learned I have high-blood pressure, had to get glasses, got a colonoscopy because of gastrointestinal issues, and now I have to get my wisdom teeth pulled and then two cavities filled. This is why men don't go to doctors. We end up being told our bodies aren't as indestructible as once thought.

What's next? Well, I do have some weird discoloration on the big toenail on my right foot, and my tonsils are still intact ...

Here's a nice thing. Val and I were standing outside in the front yard thinking of things that need to be worked on, when a neighbor lady stopped in the street and called over to us from her car. She told us how great our yard looked and how happy they were to have us there. So that was cool. Makes us more determined to fix up the garden and kill those daggum weeds something fierce.

We may not have green thumbs, but we will have black and blue thumbs from all the work accidents sure to occur this summer! (And by "we" I of course mean "me," because Val has delicate, pretty little hands and needn't worry about doing anything dangerous.)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Dreams do come true!

Can you believe it, Carly is off American Idol!

Guess I can stop watching now. I don't care who wins from here, so long as it wasn't her!

Wait, must watch one more week. Next Tuesday is Neil Diamond night! Sweeeet!

Sing and Dance

AMERICAN IDOL
 
It's Andrew Lloyd Webber night, which is just a way of saying Broadway Night, since he's produced what, half of all musicals since 1975? If only he'd done Spamalot so we could have the joy of watching Archy sing "Knights of the Round Table."
 
Syesha - I have no idea what musical she's performing, but the song wasn't that good. She was very theatrical, and who was the dude in the hat? Still, she could be good on the stage. Which begs the question, Can you be a Broadway-type star and American Idol? I don't think so. I didn't like Fantasia, who is the best example of someone who is better in a musical than a solo pop act.
 
Castro - If you wondered who would tackle the most famous Webber song, "Memory," here's your guy. And the judges skewered his choice. They would rather a woman sang it with a booming voice, not Jason's same old, same old never-changing voice. Bonus, in that white suit with the dreds, he looked like one of the ghosties in the second "Matrix" flick.
 
Brooke - Singing "You Must Love Me" from Evita, she screws up two sentences in and restarts. Again. Paula disapproves but Randy and Simon are cool with it. To me she's crying for attention to get kicked off. It's time to go. She's regressing and it's getting depressing. Val thought Brooke looked like she was trying too hard to be emotional, and I agree. She's lost the passion. (Brooke, I mean, not Val.)
 
Archuletta - The only performer of the night to make a Broadway song more contemporary, and he does so with the best ballad from Phantom of the Opera, "Think of Me." (Did I mention that Val and I saw Phantom on Broadway just minutes after getting engaged in New York?) Anyway, Simon's right, it's not that memorable, but Randy and Paula are right in that the little smiling robot sang it well.
 
Carly - Thankfully Webber prevents her from ruining another Phantom ballad, "All I Ask of You" in favor of the more upbeat "Jesus Christ Superstar" title song, which as it turns out is perfect for Carly's voice. Drat. She was darn good. But then she ruins it with super-dorkiness by having a shirt on stage ready that said "Simon Loves Me (This Week)." Ugh. Can she go already?
 
Cook - When we heard that he was going to do "Music of the Night" from Phantom, Val and I were excited. It seemed like the perfect song to turn into a rockin' Broadway number. But no, in what must have been an attempt to prove that he's got the vocal chops, he sang it straight like the musical. He sounded great, but still missed an opportunity to grasp that bitter Phantom vibe and rock that song out.
 
Who's gone? Brooke, mercifully. She's a wreck. Also in the bottom two: Castro and Syesha, who was only slightly less good than Carly. The Davids will coast into the next round.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Sox, Sox, Sox, Sox, Sox, Sox, Sox, Sox, Sox!

Okay, so maybe I was being too safe, predicting that the 2007 World Series champs would be sluggish throughout April and May after the Japan trip to open the season.

Currently the Red Sox are up 8-0 in the seventh and poised to finish a four-game sweep of Texas during the annual Patriot's Day game (11 a.m. ET start) to cap off a heckuva run, winning nine times in the last ten games. Boston's taken over first place in the AL East and on the verge of running away. (Hopefully. Need to temper my enthusiasm. There are like, what, 300 games left to play?)

Sunday, Boston came from five runs down to beat the Rangers, 6-5, scoring four times after there were two outs and nobody on in the eighth. Saturday, Manny Ramirez hit a two-run homer (his 496th) after slumping slugging partner David Ortiz tied the game with an RBI single in the eighth inning, lifting the Red Sox to a 5-3 win. The boys from the Fens started it last Monday with a three-run ninth to rally over Cleveland, and the next night Jason "The Captain" Varitek hit a pinch-hit homer to outpace the Indians again.


UPDATE Tuesday 6 p.m. - Val's uncle Glenn emailed me this link to any other Sox fans interested in purchasing a 1992 Acura Legend once owned by Boston owner John Henry. Heated seats!

Here I am

Today's fortune cookie: "This year your highest priority will be your family." As opposed to, say, stealing copper from AC units? Of course my family is always my top priority!

Sorry it's been quiet around here this weekend. Val had a conference in Nashville for work on Friday, so we parlayed a free room Thursday night into a visit to see my Mom, Aunt Lynn and Granddad Friday night and Saturday for some home cooking and in general enjoy a couple of days away from tinkering around Valfrey Estate. There's only so many times I can look at the boxes in the closets or the extra paint stacked in the garage and think, "You know, I should get around to cleaning that some day."

While Val was conferencing from 9-3, I passed the time at the hotel, Target and playing trivia at Buffalo Wild Wings where I only felt old. I was playing mostly against college kids scattered in the restaurant, and when there was a question about The Cosby Show I was the only one who got it right. I realized, none of these students were even alive when the show was at its peak. Otherwise, I tried not to look to my right, since a lady had wandered in with her kid (skipping school, I guess), took off her shoes and propped her bare feet in the chair directly next to me. Classy.

Back home, today I took a few minutes to mow the lawn and trim the low hanging branches of our nine trees. The trees aren't dead, but there sure are a lot of branches committing suicide. ("Treecide?") I find at least a dozen scattered on the ground after every windy day, from a few inches to several feet long.

What was nice was sitting out front taking a break, and seeing every single neighbor in our cove out in their yard, either mowing, gardening or crafts. These are the moments I realize that I'm a homeowner, how cool it is to live on a quiet street with neighbors who care for their homes. It certainly motivates me to try not to be "that neighbor" who doesn't aim for "Beautiful Yard of the Month" status!

Singing at the old ball game

When baseball fans in San Diego sang "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" three times the other night during a 22-inning marathon loss to Colorado, I'm sure very few knew the history behind the 7th inning stretch anthem. Why would you say you don't care if you ever come back?

It turns out, the song was published in 1908 and was a popular song long before it became the thing to do while picking your underwear out of your butt and unsticking your shoes from the Coke, relish and ketchup under your seat.

Here I present the complete lyrics:
Katie Casey was baseball mad,
Had the fever and had it bad;
Just to root for the home town crew,
Ev'ry sou
Katie blew.

On a Saturday, her young beau
Called to see if she'd like to go,
To see a show but Miss Kate said "No,
I'll tell you what you can do:"

Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd.
Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack,
I don't care if I never get back,
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don't win it's a shame.
For it's one, two, three strikes you're out,
At the old ball game."

Katie Casey saw all the games,
Knew the players by their first names;
Told the umpire he was wrong,
All along
Good and strong.
When the score was just two to two,
Katie Casey knew what to do,
Just to cheer up the boys she knew,
She made the gang sing this song:

Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd.
Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack,
I don't care if I never get back,
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don't win it's a shame.
For it's one, two, three strikes you're out,
At the old ball game.

Honest in death

An obituary in last Sunday's Commercial Appeal of Ida Mae Russell Sills is causing quite a stir on the Internet, and for good reason. It's a whopper! Check out these excerpts:
IDA MAE RUSSELL SILLS began this world as Betty Jean Cherry, the daughter of Howard Cherry and Betty Thompson of Middle Tennessee. In the 1930s it was unthinkable for a child to be born to a single mother. The Thompsons contracted Georgia Tann at the Tennessee Children's Home. Georgia, now famous for selling babies, found a couple who was willing to purchase the child. Everett and Elsie Russell were chosen, who had already adopted one high profile Memphis baby. The Russells renamed their new baby Ida Mae. ...

Albert retired in 1985, Ida said "great I now get twice the husband and only half the income." ...

In Ida's spare time she became an assistant coach to the University of Memphis Tigers, The Memphis Grizzlies, The LA Lakers and The Miami Heat, if not in reality in her mind. As a professional armchair consultant to the NBA, Ida was nick named Hoop Mama Two. Ball handling and dribbling was Ida Mae's biggest weakness. ...

Ida developed a cold that progressed into pneumonia. Now Ida was a smoker. She said "to quit smoking well that's easy. I ought to know. I have done it a thousand times" but the years of smoking left Ida's lungs damaged and beyond repair. On this Good Friday March 21, 2008, Ida Mae Russell Sills slipped away and joined her beloved daughter in Heaven. Fortunately her husband Albert preceded her and joined his mother in a much warmer climate.
As for explanation, son Lee, the writer of the obit, says, "he consigned his father, Albert, and his grandmother to a 'warmer climate' for their general attitude toward his mother. They were Catholic, and, since Ida Mae had been married once before, her mother-in-law called her 'the whore of Babylon.'"

Thursday, April 17, 2008

So does this make him the "post-patriotic" candidate?

This just in, apparently Obama decided it's okay to wear a flag pin on his lapel again!

KLC needs to see a man about a horse

No real surprises in the Idol Elimination Hour like last week's Aussie getting told "g'day" with a boot to the rear. KLC barely hung on in the top 24, and got better every week of the top 12 and is fun and bubbly and country, which is why so many will be perfectly happy to see her go.

Me? Not so much. I'm astounded that Carly not only wasn't kicked off, but wasn't even in the bottom three. Who the heck is voting for this Erin Go Blah? And tonight Carly says that Simon's been too hard on her? Is she kidding? He and the other judges haven't been nearly hard enough on her.

What annoyed me more tonight than Carly? I HATE, HATE, HATE when they split the singers into two groups and make the seventh person pick a group that they assume is safe. So manipulative, so mean. This time, they make Archuleta choose because he's oh-so-safe. Like Bo Bice, Archie sits on the stage and refuses to choose, because he's a nice guy and the show is evil.

After swapping Syesha and David Cook near the end, the two groups end up like this:

Group 1 - Syesha, KLC, Brooke
Group 2 - Castro, Cook, Carly

Obviously the all-girls group was doomed, because seriously, Cook isn't going anywhere until the top three.

As for our celebrity performer, did it seem that Mariah wasn't happy during her performance? Her mic was low and the mix was bad, and she was messing with the ear piece, which tells me me she wasn't liking what she was hearing. It wouldn't have mattered. Mariah took a bigger crap on stage than Bon Jovi last year. Both times, the guests came out with the audience ready to bounce, and sang slow, uninspired songs.

Speaking of uninspired, meanwhile, the Red Sox scored five runs in the fifth for a two-run lead and promptly blew it in the bottom of the inning to lose 15-9. What did they expect putting Julian Tavarez in the game to protect a lead? That's like headline the Idol tour with Carly and David Hernandez.

It's only one game in mid-April, so I'm not concerned. What could be fun soon is that Manny, with a homer in the first inning tonight, is only six dingers from 500 in what is surely a Hall of Fame career. With 1621 career RBIs, he can have five so-so years (90 RBI-per-season), quit and still finish in the top three of all time. Looking way ahead, Dad and I agree that Manny's induction speech will be one of the more interesting, if not entertaining, that Cooperstown has ever seen. The over/under on "Manny being Manny" uses by pundits that week is 250.


THE BIGGEST LOSER: COUPLES - Tuesday was the finale, and for the first season a woman won the $250,000. Considering how much this season the show talked about how great it would be for a woman to win, it was almost a little too convenient for my wife. Val's theory is that the show saw how much Ali lost back home, knew that none of the women still left could win, so they engineered a twist where Ali could get back on the show and have a chance to win.

In some ways I think it's unfair that Ali beat out Roger and Kelly in the end, since she was voted out early in the competition, but I also remember that she and her mom were booted due to another twist, so maybe it is fair.

Either way, bit ups to Ali for her tremendous weight loss, and she and the rest are inspirations to all of us who have a few pounds to lose!

DO NOT TAUNT THE FLUORESCENT BULBS!

With all the rage about compact fluorescent light bulbs, I'll just go ahead and let you know about the special Dateline episode in ten years titled "Ironic Environmental Crisis" where the government has to tell everyone how to dispose of them safely.

Why? Because it practically takes a hazmat team to take care of them, and if you break one, might as well buy a new house and start over:
Fluorescent light bulbs contain a very small amount of mercury sealed within the glass tubing. EPA recommends the following clean-up and disposal guidelines:

Before Clean-up: Ventilate the Room

1. Have people and pets leave the room, and don't let anyone walk through the breakage area on their way out.
2. Open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes or more.
3. Shut off the central forced-air heating/air conditioning system, if you have one.

Clean-Up Steps for Hard Surfaces

4. Carefully scoop up glass fragments and powder using stiff paper or cardboard and place them in a glass jar with metal lid (such as a canning jar) or in a sealed plastic bag.
5. Use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small glass fragments and powder.
6. Wipe the area clean with damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes and place them in the glass jar or plastic bag.
7. Do not use a vacuum or broom to clean up the broken bulb on hard surfaces.

Clean-up Steps for Carpeting or Rug

4. Carefully pick up glass fragments and place them in a glass jar with metal lid (such as a canning jar) or in a sealed plastic bag.
5. Use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small glass fragments and powder.
6. If vacuuming is needed after all visible materials are removed, vacuum the area where the bulb was broken.
7. Remove the vacuum bag (or empty and wipe the canister), and put the bag or vacuum debris in a sealed plastic bag.

Disposal of Clean-up Materials

8. Immediately place all cleanup materials outside the building in a trash container or outdoor protected area for the next normal trash.
9. Wash your hands after disposing of the jars or plastic bags containing clean-up materials.
10. Check with your local or state government about disposal requirements in your specific area. Some states prohibit such trash disposal and require that broken and unbroken mercury-containing bulbs be taken to a local recycling center.

Future Cleaning of Carpeting or Rug: Ventilate the Room During and After Vacuuming

11. The next several times you vacuum, shut off the central forced-air heating/air conditioning system and open a window prior to vacuuming.
12. Keep the central heating/air conditioning system shut off and the window open for at least 15 minutes after vacuuming is completed.

Remember, this is if you break ONE bulb.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Reality Tuesday

AMERICAN IDOL
 
David A. - Missed him, but I'm pretty sure I know what happened. He was great, the judges swooned, the pre-teens cried, I rolled my eyes (had I been watching).
 
Carly - Really, Carly's that excited to meet Mariah? She's just so .. ugh. She could sing with William Hung and pretend he's the BEST EVER! As usual, she starts out okay, then has to hit a strong note, and, not so much. Very strained. The judges tell her to keep at it, that she "can do it." Um, hello, by now, if she's not doing it, she's not going to!
 
Syesha - Mariah had a bad influence, because Syesha tried about twenty different octaves, some worked and others didn't. I thought overall it was one of her best, though.
 
Brooke - She did miss her sister's wedding, and why? The vote-off was Thursday, she sings tonight, what was going on Saturday that the show wouldn't follow her home with a camera? She sings "Hero" at the piano, typically passionate but with a little extra grit added in her voice that may not go over well, plus a few pitch problems. She may crack soon. As a bonus, her hair actually seems fuller with extra curls, if that was possible.
 
Kristy Lee - Not sure about her low voice, but she can really belt. She should still stick around another week, and stay longer than Carly and Syesha.
 
David C. - Add another song to his album of class poppy songs that he makes into his own. Mariah's bubbly "You'll Always be a Part of Me" became a rockin' anthem. Now, most of his others have been done by other rockers before, but they didn't say if this was his own creation.
 
Who's next? I can't think of it.
 
Oh yeah. Castro. Sorry, Stacy, I just completely forgot about him. And after this, still don't have a reason to remember.
 
Cool! Just heard Archuleta's recap and he sang the song from "The Prince of Egypt." Sweet! You go, Archie!
 
Who's going home? I fear for Brooke, but hoping Carly. David C. should be the frontrunner to win the whole thing.
 
DANCING WITH THE STARS
 
I'm already missing Adam and Julianne. If not for their dancing, then the sense of humor and entertainment they added.
 
Mario - For inspiration they visited Stevie Wonder, who as you know, is renown for his ability to "shake what your momma gave you." As for his samba, Mario was fine, showed good footwork, but he still bores me.
 
Priscilla - Even for a rumba this was sloowwwwww. Still, extra point for the split!
 
Did Tom just say that future guest singers include Ashlee Simpson and Def Leppard? Or did the earth just open up and grab a piece of my soul?
 
Marissa - Ye gad, chick was thumping and thrusting and shaking. Very upbeat, enjoyable, but I have no idea if there were any actual steps.
 
Christian - Cheryl's outfits get smaller and Christian's intensity gets bigger every week. That giant vein in his forehead my burst anytime. Enjoyed the fake telenovela in the pre-dance video, but he looks too directed, like "go stand here and wait for her."
 
Marlee - Ouch. So many noticeable flubs. Still, she's so likeable that she should last.
 
Kristi - Blah blah she was great. She won't win this competition. She was too good at the start, her partner Mark is dull, and I don't see voters running to the phones to vote for them. Voters will pick someone who improves throughout.
 
Shannon - Last week, Derek hurt his neck. This week, food poisoning. Next week, who knows? Will he lose his spleen and still make it back? These two are either totally dating or too much alike, equally dorky. As much as they joke around I have never laughed at their antics or jokes. Her samba wasn't as bad as the judges thought, she just doesn't have the ability to vibrate like Marissa. Shannon needs to stop throwing up her food, because she should be in decent enough shape by now to not be panting for five minutes straight after the dance.
 
Jason - Better than last week, when his scores were elevated just so Kristi wouldn't be the only one with 10s every week.

He don't need no gutter bumpers

Congrats to nephew Cody, who was named to the Commercial Appeal's Best of the Preps bowling team.

And lest you fail to recognize that as a high school sport, he's also No. 2 on the 8-0 tennis team.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Tiger can't win them all; Yanks are big fat bullies

- Sports quote of the week:
 
"The only way Tiger Woods gets a Grand Slam this year is by stopping off at Denny's." - Jim Litke, AP sports columnist
 
- The pundits are doing a lot of griping about how dull this year's Masters was, how South African Trevor Immelman's win was uninspiring and that Tiger should have won this easily. Which just goes to show, 1) How dominant Tiger has been that he finishes second in a major and everyone thinks he should win every time, and 2) How difficult it is to win all four majors in a calendar year. You need some luck, and to be assured that one player won't have a career week. Immelman hadn't played well all year, missing four cuts in eight events he entered, but still managed to lead after all four rounds of the Masters, golf's premiere event. That says less about Tiger's failure than it does about the strength of competition in professional sports.
 
- The Dang Yankees came out of the Buried Jersey story looking both petty and like bullies. I don't blame them for digging up the Ortiz jersey that a Red Sox fan buried in the new Dang Yankee Stadium under construction. The Sox would have done the same thing to avoid any talk of a "curse" in the future, even as the Sox have won two World Series in four years and the Evil Empire hasn't won since the last century, with or without a curse. But the Dang Yank management is talking of suing the worker and bringing criminal charges against him. Talk about a lack of sense of proportion and sense of humor about this rivalry. They're building a billion-dollar stadium and talking of making the worker pay for unnecessary excavating of a shirt?
 
Team president Randy Levine wins the gold star for having his priorities out of whack with this inane comment: "The first thought was, you know, it's never a good thing to be buried in cement when you're in New York,. But then we decided, why reward somebody who had really bad motives and was trying to do a really bad thing?"
 
A really bad thing? What, the jersey had a bomb attached? Elliot Spitzer did a really bad thing. Goofing off with a jersey in concrete? Not so much.

Bitter roots

This guy is the "postracial" uniter?

Last week when trying to figure out why working-class voters in the Midwest weren't voting for him, Barack Obama decided they're just "bitter":
"And it's not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations," Obama said.
Hillary was quick to stand up for the little people, deeming Obama's remarks "elitist," "demeaning" and "out of touch":
“The people of faith I know don’t ‘cling to’ religion because they’re bitter. People embrace faith not because they are materially poor, but because they are spiritually rich,” Clinton said at a rally in Indianapolis.
Clinton supporters handed out "I'm not bitter" stickers in North Carolina.

Why is this a big deal? Because it's a trend. Left-wingers tend to think that people have to have some sort of mental defect to disagree with liberal dogma, and any professional article on conservatives treats us like studying animals in the wild. Obama and his Obamaniacs are the same ones who drive around with Darwin fish on their bumpers, next to ones promoting tolerance that say "hate is not a family value," and don't understand the contrast.

Talk about bitter. A grassroots team in San Francisco is sponsoring a November ballot initiative to rename the "Oceanside Wastewater Treatment Facility" the "George W. Bush Sewage Plant".

Here's a good reason Obama supporters don't understand middle America, this whole "we support the troops" nonsense is suspect:
Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller, an Obamaniac, apologized for suggesting Republican Sen. John McCain doesn't care about people because he was a Navy pilot who dropped bombs on Vietnam ...
"McCain was a fighter pilot, who dropped laser-guided missiles from 35,000 feet. [Jeff note: Not invented yet at that time.] What happened when (the missiles) get to the ground? He doesn't know. You have to care about the lives of people. McCain ever gets into those issues."
Rockefeller is a member of the Bill Maher School Of Stupid Anti-Military Statements. I'd say that McCain, once he got on the ground after being shot down, learned for 5 1/2 years why it was best he target the enemy from high above.

Bad first impressions

Did you ever start a new job and worry that you would say something stupid? You've got nothing on this guy:
Hundreds of employees were evacuated from a nuclear power plant for several hours Tuesday because of a misunderstood comment. A man asked for directions to the Point Beach nuclear power plant ... As the man was leaving, the clerk heard him say he "came to blow up the place." She called police, who tracked down the man's rental car at the power plant. He told FBI agents he was a contractor reporting for his first day at the plant, and said that what he told the clerk was that he "hoped he wouldn't blow up the place" because of his inexperience.
And you thought your new co-workers would think you're weird for eating soup with a fork!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Still have Tiger memories

No doubt about it, the Tigers loss last Monday was awful, painful. A punch in the gut. You think it stinks when you pull up to the McDonald's drive-thru and they tell you there aren't any more burgers or fries? Multiply it by a thousand. It was like riding on the Zippin Pippin - before Libertyland closed - and you'd swear the front wheels came off the track, only this time they did.

 

Maybe, in 20 years, I'll be able to watch the recap of this year's NCAA tournament championship on ESPN Classic (no doubt in 3-D and on a 60-inch screen, which will be the cheapest available because I'm waiting for the 100-inch TV to become affordable) without it making me sad, but I don't believe it. It still stinks to watch the '73 and '85 recaps, and I was too young to truly grasp the latter, and wasn't born for the former.

 

Saturday when I was at the Toyota dealership waiting for them to charge me 90 bucks to turn Val's "check engine" light off, a commercial for Sports Illustrated's special Kansas issue came on, and I just wanted to shrink into my seat, put my hands over my ears and scream "LA LA LA LA CAN'T HEAR YOU!' When the Sporting News came in the mail this weekend, I ripped off the cover that said "Kansas rocks." If the Weather Channel shows rain in Kansas, I turn the channel. When I watch "Wizard of Oz," I hope Dorothy stays in Oz instead of going home. I'm even wary of covering Arkansas on our newscasts. Too close for comfort.

 

Besides the Red Sox, if I desperately want any of my favorite teams to win a national championship, the Tigers basketball team is at the top. I’ve seen Boston win twice now in four years. With two minutes left in the game last Monday and Coach Cal’s guys up nine, I really thought the next dream title was going to happen.

 

Alas, it wasn’t to be, and the city of Memphis enters the doldrums after losing for the second time in the NCAA title tilt. Here’s hoping it doesn’t take another 35 years to get back. Memphis finishes with a 38-2 record, which gives the Tigers the NCAA record for most wins in a season, if that’s any consolation. Not now, of course. Horseshoes and hand grenades and all that.

 

I couldn’t even get in the mood to watch the “One Shining Moment” montage at the end. Which may not have been too regretful, since CBS went all New Coke on us several years ago and changed the song up, leaving the moment less chill-inducing.

 

To provide hope for the future, let's take a look back at the past. If you grew up in Memphis, chances are you either went to the University of Memphis (or Memphis State, as it was known until 1994) or someone close to you did. And chances are great that you’re a rooting fan of the basketball team, because it's been the best sporting team in the city. Unless you were a big fan of one of the 50 semi-pro football teams, basketball teams, Memphis Chicks (pre-Redbirds) or indoor soccer teams.

 

(Wait, scratch the sarcasm off the last one. I did greatly enjoy attending Americans games at the Mid-South Coliseum. When the lights would go down during player introductions and Neil Diamond's "America" started, it never failed to excite. I also got to play an official game after one of the Storm games, and even scored a goal.)

 

As a kid, Dad had two season tickets to Tigers games at the Coliseum for he and my big brother Scott, and would buy a cheap nosebleed ticket for me to get in and sit on his lap. As Dad said in an email not long ago, “no one around complained about the ‘extra’ person. They thought my two boys were so cute and adorable!” I expect my kids to be on my and Val's lap someday as well, asking, "Mommy, why does Daddy keep eating my barbecue nachos?"

 

Many of my few childhood memories that stand out are at the Coliseum watching the Tigers, back in the 80s with the likes of Keith Lee, Andre Turner and Baskerville Holmes on the court. The 85 Final four team still seems to be the most beloved group in the city’s collective mind. Unfortunately, I remember laying on the living room carpet in front of the TV watching them lose to Villanova as Dad unleashed a colorful language behind me in his Man Chair, drinking gallons of iced tea from his Green Cup. That was the kind of language usually reserved for when Memphis lost to Purdue in ’84 and ‘88, then coached by serial whiner Gene Keady.

 

Random memories pop up everywhere, such as watching a Tigers-Florida State game in a laundromat when they were both in the Metro Conference, or someone playing the Memphis-Louisville game on a portable radio during one of my soccer matches at Bartlett Park. I remember one year when we didn't have season tickets, me, Dad and Scott walked around outside trying to get some to a sold-out game. I think the game was against Virginia Tech, it had snowed the week before (there was still the white stuff around the Coliseum), and a nice lady had a couple of extras she gave us. Then again, my memory isn't perfect and Dad could have sold me into marriage in Estonia for the tickets, but I'm sure it was worth it.

 

Another game we were sitting behind the basket in the upper level against New Orleans. Memphis was down by double-digits with just a few minutes to go and Dad was ready to leave early. Nowadays I'd follow to beat traffic, but for some reason my child mind still figured Memphis had a chance, and being a good father who indulges his kids' dreams, he agreed to stick around, and wouldn't you know it, the Tigers came back and won. I can still see a New Orleans player kicking the basketball 50 feet in the air in disgust as the fans and players celebrated. I've been wary of leaving games early ever since, though not of Tiger football games, of which we also had season tickets and left many games early as they lost by three touchdowns to Southeast Texas Academy of the Blind. (The Tigers were pretty bad back then, is what I'm sayin'.)

 

My favorite memories aren't even necessarily attending games, but watching them on television. When the Tigers played on the West Coast in the late game of the first round of the NCAA tournament. I would stay up and watch with Dad, who would let me skip school the next day. I'm not sure how often this happened, but at least a few times it seems, though as fond as I was at the time, it seemed like every year. This would be when I learned the joys of couch potatoism, as half my weight is made up of chips, dip, wings and pizza from watching games on the telly.

 

Everyone in Memphis gets Tiger fever it seems, especially when the tournament rolls around. In 1988 I was in seventh grade, and my science teacher let me listen to our walkman radio during class to provide updates as the Tigers beat Baylor. The city was electric with Penny Fever during Hardaway's years, anticipating something special, but they never made it past the elite eight during his tenure. When he left, the city became an Orlando Magic town to root for him some more. (Which brings us to Nick Anderson and missed free throws, but that's another story.)

All grown up, living in Atlanta from 1998 to 2006 I couldn’t see the Tigers much on cable, so I would venture out to the sports bar for the important games. That is, when the bar actually showed them. Case in point, in 2005 I was at my favorite hangout to watch the Tigers play Louisville in the Conference USA title game. Problem is, that weekend in Atlanta there was a big news event, an inmate who killed two people in the county courthouse and fled to the ‘burbs. He gave himself up the next morning, and the CBS affiliate decided to follow the paddy wagon via helicopter all the way from the outskirts of Atlanta to downtown. All the while, Memphis and Louisville were playing but I couldn’t watch. I even called the station to ask them to put the game in a small box in the corner of the screen. Finally, they cut away from exciting coverage of the roof of the jail with three minutes to go, just in time for me to watch the Tigers lose in the final second when Darius Washington clanged two free throws.

 

Now, Val and I are back in Memphis and get to follow the hometown team as often as we want, all the ups and downs. Will we have a title to celebrate anytime soon? Time will tell. But that won't stop me from wearing the blue and gray and rooting for the local stars! Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Red Sox fan high "jinx"

In a span of an hour, Steve, Jorge and Dad all sent me this link: Report: Worker tries to jinx Yanks with buried Red Sox shirt:
A construction worker and Boston fan working on the concrete crew at the $1.3 billion new Yankee Stadium buried a Red Sox shirt in with the concrete foundation under what will become the visitors' clubhouse, in the hopes of jinxing the New York Yankees' new home, the New York Post reported.
Other workers with similar ideas should be careful. Dang Yank fans are more inclined to bury actual people in new stadiums.

Kudos to the Sox for having Bill Buckner throw out the first pitch of their home opener Tuesday. I still maintain that not long after the '86 season that most real fans forgave Buckner quickly, realizing the events that led up to his supposed gaffe and the eventual World Series loss were in no way his entire fault. If anything, Buckner was the one who had to forgive fans and the media for his mistreatment for 18 years, up until the 2004 World Series.

Sometimes "I told you so" is an understatement. Why didn't the Brewers management know what Sox fans surely did, that giving $10 million to Eric "The Gagger" Gagne was a bad idea:
Brewers closer Eric Gagne blew his second save in three chances Tuesday night against the Reds when he gave up a tying homer to Corey Patterson in the ninth inning. Gagne, who signed a one-year, $10 million contract this offseason, also blew a save on opening day against the Cubs last Wednesday.

If you've heard about the National Guard pilot who got in trouble for a cool move during the flyover after the national anthem of Tuesday's opening ceremony, here's the video.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Idol Abomination

Shocked. Appalled. What a traveshamockery. How is Michael gone yet the sucking music hole known as Carly still stands on the Idol stage? Ridiculous.

The best sports time of the year

For sports fans, or at least this one, this time of the year is like Christmas, Thanksgiving and July 4 all mixed together. The Tigers played in the NCAA championship on Monday, The Masters starts today, the Red Sox got their World Series rings Tuesday in their home opener, they play the dang Yanks this weekend with the game Saturday aired nationally, and, well, the NHL and NBA seasons are wrapping up if you care.
 
Coincidentally, Val has a girls' weekend in Jackson and downtown so I have the place to myself Friday afternoon through Saturday evening. Looks like the TVs will be on in every room while I complete the honey-do list.  
 
Elsewhere this week, on Tuesday I fulfilled one of the most important aspects of home ownership. I bought a lawn mower. It's a Toro, and it supposedly came ready to use out of the box (just add gas). I, however, in an amazing feat of anti-machismo, spent a half-hour trying to figure out how to straighten the handle, which, of course, turned out to be both obvious and simple. Then I mowed the entire yard, realizing just how spacious our backyard really is, trying to figure out if I have ten different kinds of weeds or just the remnants of a botanical garden.
 
I also realized we have a pine tree bordering our yard and I had to kick away about 554 pine cones into our neighbor's yard. No, not really. I kicked them into the wood pile that I think we share. We don't, however, share a hideous giant bird feeder that they recently erected and appears to intrude into our yard, based on the property lines on the Shelby County site. We're not happy about this. Is this the beginning of how people end up on a TV court show?
 
For the running tally of life living on a golf course: Found one golf ball and ran over another buried in the tall grass, slicing it clean in half. Now I realize I also need a weedwacker. I just noticed how many nooks and crannies we have around fences and the nine trees on the property, and darn it if I didn't try to get the mower into every one. (Kind of like how you vacuum, and even though something won't get sucked up you run over it ten times, pick it up, throw it back on the floor and try again.)
 
The good and the bad. Good: My asthma didn't engage the Wheeze Machine that are my lungs and my allergies didn't produce a single gallon of mucus, so maybe wearing a face mask helped. The Bad: Now I am expected to mow and landscape at least once a week for 40 weeks a year for the rest of my life. And wearing the mask, my tan lines should be a hoot.
Before the NCAA title game Monday, Val and I made the trek to Brighton to see nephew Cody play tennis, his girlfriend Katie and pal/superstud Kevin (if you don't believe me ask me how old his girlfriend is). Cody and Kevin won doubles and their singles 8-0, so let's just say that the talent coming from Tipton Rosemark Academy won't be competing for Wimbledon anytime soon. And by "Wimbledon" I mean "Weekend picnic against young nieces."
 
Monday night we took it easy at home to watch the game, chowing down on pizza, wings and cheesy bread. I'm just saying that to manage expectations before Friday's weigh-in! Alas, none of it went down easy as the Tigers lost painfully.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Inspirational Idol

Last night on AMERICAN IDOL, the contestants sang inspirational songs, some inspired, some not. You can probably guess already whom the judges loved and whom I will be grumbling about in a moment.
 
But first, speaking of inspirational, over on THE BIGGEST LOSER: COUPLES, Mark and Roger ended up in the bottom two of the final four, and won't know until the finale if they made the final three, having to put up with a viewer vote to decide. I'm going for Roger, since only he and Kelly have never been kicked off before, while Ali and Mark had their chance, lost, and Ali lost most of her weight at home before returning a few weeks ago.
 
Now, on to IDOL!
 
Michael - He could personally lead a rebirth of 70s rock if he won. Simon disagrees, telling him to stick to bluesy R&B music.
 
Paula is thisclose to giving us a nipple shot. My goodness, wear something that fits, lady.
 
On Monday's DWTS, Carrie Ann was so emotional and off-kilter that online people were saying that she "pulled a Paula." I'm sure if you're Paula, you're quite happy that your name is associated with saying weird things, crying all the time and in general acting nutty.
 
Syesha, you won't be surprised, sang Fantasia's "I Believe." It's perfect for her voice with a few pitch problems. Difficult to mess up too badly. As Paula sanely says later, it's easy to sing songs that inspire you. Case in point, I rock out on Bette Midler's "The Rose" in the shower.
 
Castro steals one of my favorites, the Hawaiian version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." The judges adored it, but I have to excuse myself because no one can ever compare to the first version, if only because it made me cry when it played on "ER" when they killed off Dr. Green in Hawaii.
 
KLC belts out Martina McBride's "Anyway," and darn well. She's also consistently the best dressed, so she has that going for her.
 
David Cook gives us a song I'd never heard by a group I've never heard of, and if he was impersonating them then I'll pass. I couldn't understand half what he sang, because he did something to his voice. Simon called it "pompous," I call it staged and fake, especially when he ended it by showing us his hand, which had "give back" written on it. Talk about a cheap shill for votes.
 
Carly is Carly, which is to say that I didn't like it. She doesn't hit big notes, she screams. And at the end she absolutely avoided a big note, letting the backup singers finish for her!
 
David Archuletta will eventually crank out albums with nothing but inspirational ballads, so you know he was fine. Okay, at the start he was flat, but really, he's safe no matter what so who cares?
 
I'm not feeling you lately, Brooke. Her "You've Got a Friend" by James Taylor was dull and too dramatic. Before the song she introduces it as being happy and feel-goody, but I sensed none of that upbeatness.
 
Worst of the night? Carly, but David Cook was right there, and rounding out the bottom three might be Brooke, but I like her and she had the cushy final spot so I'll say Syesha. We'll find out Thursday, unless they do like last year and skip an elimination because everyone's feeling good about themselves after tonight's "Idol Gives Back" overblownness.

Late Dancing

Sorry this is late, but I did write it Monday evening, which ended up being overshadowed by the Tigers dancing in the NCAA tournament title game! (More on that later.)

KRISTI – Talent, precision, the best by far. She receives the first tens of the season, though it turns out the judges are handing out 10s like Hillary hands out “correction memos” of her most famous stories-turned-lies.

PRISCILLA – Am I the only one who finds her banter in the rehearsal videos kind of fake? Okay, so sue me. Her Viennese Waltz is graceful, though you have to wonder why Carrie Ann praises how she couldn’t help but “watch your face, its perfection.” Well, yeah, if only because Priscilla’s face doesn’t move!

ADAM – Dressed as Zorro, Adam comes out to start the Paso Doble on a unicycle. Entertaining, for sure, and due to the distraction I have no clue if they were fine technically.

MARLEE – Can’t help but compare her Viennese Waltz to Priscilla’s, and it was just fine. I didn’t think it was as good but the judges disagreed, even making Carrie Ann teary and causing Len to use words like “fleckle.”

MARIO – In his Paso Doble, Mario had all the raw machismo of the chick in “Just One of the Guys.” You may stuff your pants and cut your hair, but that doesn’t change the fact that you have to tape up your boobs to hide the truth. At least afterwards Mario says the right things, telling Len to keep pushing him to be better.

JASON – He got tens from Carrie Ann and Bruno, why? For his awkward steps? For standing still while “It’s all about me” Edyta circled him out of control?

CHRISTIAN – Yowzers! Cheryl raided Edyta’s closet and took out the smuttiest outfit she could find! He looks like he’s thinking about the steps, but at least it was more macho than Mario’s effort.

SHANNON – I have decided that the Viennese Waltz is the easiest for female contestants on the show to learn. It’s almost impossible not to look graceful and dramatic, as is seen by Len getting hornswaggled into giving them his only 10 of the night, even though it was clearly not as good as Yamaguchi. Or Len’s getting old and he can’t remember back that far.

MARISSA - There has to be some conspiracy that our plus-sized pint-sized spaz hasn't had to do a slow dance yet, right? This week, the Paso Doble, which wasn't bad and she even completed some difficult moves and threw in a few high-ish kicks as well.

Tuesday night the votes came in, and unfortunately we didn't want to see either of the bottom two go, Priscilla or Adam, who ended up going home. The comedy factor will certainly drop, unless Mario learns how to think on his feet to say anything interesting whatsoever or Shannon stops trying to be "one of the guys." Seriously, can't you see her in the back room belching and making fart noises with her armpits?

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

April Madness

Nephew Cody has bragging rights, besting the other three who picked Kansas (Stephen M., my darling Valerie, plus bro-in-law Randy) and earned 32 points at the end.

Erin had a chance, being only person to pick a Kansas-Memphis final, but she had the Tigers and when they blew a nine-point lead she lost as well.

12345 and Syd were the only two who had the correct Final Four, and Cheryl had the most correct picks with 47.

Jeff's March Madness Challenge

1 Cody B. (Kansas) 142
2 Stephen M. (Kansas) 138
3 Val (Kansas) 127
4 Erin M.(Memphis) 120
5 Randy B. (Kansas) 117
6 12345 (North Carolina) 113
7 Cheryl B. (North Carolina) 112
8 Dad (North Carolina) 105
9 Me (UCLA) 103
10 Sydney G. (North Carolina) 98
11 Carol H. (Memphis) 96
12 Natalie M. (Texas) 88
13 Steven R. (North Carolina) 86
14 Michael C. (Memphis) 85
15 Scott R. (UCLA) 74
16 Stephanie L. (Memphis) 72
17 CUT THE NET (UCLA) 70
18 Jenn R. (Belmont) 53

Monday, April 07, 2008

Copycat Mets

It's not just sad that the Mets have to conduct a fan poll on their website to decide what "sing-a-long" song to play during the 8th inning, but they blatantly copy the Red Sox' famous playing of "Sweet Caroline" by Neil Diamond as one of the choices.

Just for that, everyone needs to go to the site, click on "other" and write in "Hollaback Girl" by Gwen Stefani as your vote.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

R.I.P.

Screen legend Charlton Heston passed away Saturday at his home after battling Alzheimer's for several years.

Really, the film he'll be best remembered for is whichever is your favorite. For me, he'll forever be Ben-Hur. For you, he may be Moses, or cursing dirty apes. What can't be argued is that he leaves a mark on Hollywood seldom matched.

In fact, Heston is second only to John Wayne in terms of on-screen heroes, not to mention their outspoken and unafraid conservative views off it.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!

Go Tigers Go!

Oh man, that was so awesome. Before I could even start to worry in the final minutes, CDR's dunk over UCLA's big stud Love with less than five minutes to go was HUGE. Then Dorsey executes a big block a minute later, just as HUGE, followed by Derrick Rose with a reverse layup amid a crowd, and HUGE!!!!!!!!

Monday night, it's title time, and it will be HUGE!!!!!!

UPDATE 12:44 a.m. -
And then there were two left in my March Madness Challenge. If Kansas wins, my nephew Cody takes it all. If Memphis (Go Tigers!) wins, it's all Erin's. Good luck guys! If you just want to go by total picks correct, that would be Cody's mother, Cheryl.

Presidential bowl-off

Of all the criteria in picking a president, I think this one's pretty high on the list. I don't want my president, a healthy 40-something male, to be someone who bowls a 37.

I don't care if you've never held a bowling ball before, it doesn't take bumpers to manage an 80, let alone 100. At least stand at the line and push it forward, for goodness' sakes.

This doesn't forebode well for his skills in dodgeball, either. Which, we all know, is crucial to NATO relations.

From the "You Can't Make This Stuff Up" department

Hawk attacks 13-year-old Alexa Rodriguez at Fenway:
A 13-year-old girl touring Fenway Park on a school trip was attacked by a resident red-tailed hawk that drew blood from her scalp Thursday.

She wasn't seriously hurt, but some observers saw an omen for a certain New York Yankees slugger in the attack at the home of the Boston Red Sox. The girl's name is Alexa Rodriguez.

The girl was taken by ambulance to a hospital, but wasn't seriously injured.

Vince Jennetta, a teacher who chaperoned her class trip from Memorial Boulevard Middle School — where the school nickname is "Eagles" — in Bristol, Conn., told the Boston Globe that Alexa is "a little shaken, but OK."

"The girl is fine," said Red Sox spokeswoman Susan Goodenow, according to a report on the Web site of the Boston Globe.

"The hawk nicked her," Goodenow told the Harford Courant. "We've certainly been in touch with her family and with the tour group as well. It's important for us to know she's all right and to express our concern."

The Courant reported that Rodriguez rejoined her schoolmates after her release from the hospital and was going to stay overnight with them in Boston, which is 106 miles from Bristol, Conn.

The hawk was perched on a railing in the upper deck behind home plate while the group toured the stadium. The hawk flew at the girl and swooped with its talons extended, scratching her scalp.

A single egg lay in the hawk's nearby nest in an overhang near the stadium's press booth.

The nest and egg were removed at the direction of state wildlife officials.

The Red Sox do not have their home opener until Tuesday.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Light the candles! All, um, 29 of them! Yeah, that's the ticket.

Happy Birthday to my wonderful wife, my beautiful muse, my darling Valerie!

Sorry it's so rainy on your birthday, and the media refuses to report on your day since apparently here in Memphis there's this event going on downtown. Something about a king, and a dream, or something. All the major networks were here, so I think it was important.

Kidding, of course. What I want to know is, how dumb is Barack Obama's campaign consultant that he's doing a town hall meeting in Ft. Wayne, Indiana right now instead of commemorating the 40th anniversary of Dr. King's assassination here in Memphis? Instead, watch everyone call Hillary and McCain panderers for actually making the trip.

So (changing the subject), yesterday our pilot light goes out in the heater. Nothing new there, it's happened three times since we got the house. It was a bit nippy in the house, so it was either do what we've done before, call MLGW and have them do it, or try ourselves. Val was adamant it get done quick, whereas I was hoping this was the final blow and the 25-year-old thing was dead so we could use our warranty to get a new one on the cheap!

Alas, we got it on again. After lots of tinkering, calling my father-in-law for advice and turning the gas knob back and forth. Let's just say that when it came time to light that firecracker, Val excused herself to go outside and "check the mail" while her guinea pig of a husband played with dangerous gas and fire.

But like I tell her, if she is forced to off me because we're broke and she needs the insurance money, at least make it look like an accident. I'm cool with that.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

So does this make Kansas the Snow White story of the tournament?

Have the Tigers officially made it big time, what with being the subject of an Onion parody?

Memphis Players Have Long, Complicated Explanation Of How They Are This Year's 'Rumpelstiltzkin' Story

Greek God of Walks not bad with a glove, either

Congrats to Red Sox first baseman Kevin "Youuuuuuk" Youkilis, who set the major league record yesterday for consecutive errorless games, playing his 194th consecutive mistake-free game to break Steve Garvey's record. Boston beat Oakland 5-0 to start the season 3-1 on their way to Toronto for the weekend. The Dang Yanks, meanwhile, lost to the Blue Jays. You will not be surprised that A-Rod hit a homer early in the game, but struck out in the ninth with two runners on and a chance to tie it up.

Meanwhile, I wish the Cardinals would stop messing with my wife. They have a $100 million team budget and yet everyone knows they'll stink in 2008, and knew that they'd stink last year. Who's running this sinking ship? Fans are certainly onto management. St. Louis' regular-season sellout streak ended at 165 games last night for an 8-3 win over Colorado. It was also the first non-sellout at 3-year-old Busch Stadium and the first for the franchise since Sept. 28, 2005, at the old stadium.

The Puppet Master

Attention American Idol voters! You will continue to do my bidding! Like good followers, you have accepted my wisdom to eliminate Amanda and David Hernandez and Danny and, last night, Ramiele. Now you must not vote for Carly next week! Do as I say!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The week in awesome TV

Sure, I enjoyed "Idol," "Dancing with the Stars" provided anger and drama by kicking off the most likable person on the planet, and "The Biggest Loser" went Down Under for no good reason, but the best show of the week was actually scripted. "How I Met Your Mother," with Barney's "bracket" of women he conned into sleeping with him, trying to figure out which one was sabotaging him, was one of the funniest of the show's run. With the "Doogie Howser" music playing in the final scene as Neil Patrick Harris types over a blue screen on his computer, the only thing missing to make it that much more awesome would be if Vinnie came through the window.
 
By the way, if you saw the episode, check out http://www.tedmosbyisajerk.com/. It has it's own song!
 
(On a personal note, making our house a home continues. We're getting around to finishing touches, getting all the wood blinds and shades up, unpacking boxes, putting up towel bars and TP holders, patchy painting, etc. We expect to be done by June when we try to resell our house before getting foreclosed on, 'cause I just did our taxes and holy moly good golly.)
 
AMERICAN IDOL - I'm with Simon this week. No one blew me away, and it's obvious that far too many contestants feel comfortable doing the same thing every week. Brooke, Castro, the Davids, they know they're sure to be in the top five so they don't feel the necessity to change their routine. Which is probably smart, since when they do try something different (Brooke dancing, Archuletta with an upbeat song) they get nothing but criticism from the judges.
 
This week, Dolly Parton night, and not a one sang "Islands in the Stream." Disappointment City. The only question was, who was going to take a chance on "I Will Always Love You?" The answer now seems obvious. On with Dollywood's greatest hits!
 
Brooke - Sitting with a guitar, she was comfortable, sang as such and I thought it was a good song choice. Not much variation in it, though, which Simon nitpicked because he couldn't think of anything else to say.
 
David Cook - Consistent, just fine, David will make it to the top three if there's justice in the world. Which, you'll see down below with The Gute, is not guaranteed.
 
Ramiele - She couldn't even make the side stage at Pigeon Forge at this point. This was flat, and she's ready to go. And Simon needs new analogies for so-so performances other than cruise ships, amusement parks and street corners. How about, "You could hear that on any third-rated morning show," or, "You aren't worthy to sing the Canadian national anthem at a minor league hockey game."
 
Castro - Our morning show review said that he messed up the words, but I didn't notice and the judges didn't, either. Maybe it's because everyone hears him start, realizes it's the same as always, and tunes him out until the end.
 
Carly - She's the A-Rod of Idol, too eager to please and comes across as a big fake as a result. I heard a story the other day that A-Rod once asked Cal Ripken how to shake hands. Now that's someone who doesn't trust his own instincts or judgment. Likewise, Carly was probably freaking out when Simon told her she didn't dress like a star.
 
David A. - Strong, but he stuck with a ballad as always. I don't get the fawning fandom. David's cute but he's dull, a David-bot created specifically to perform in front of crowds.
 
KLC - Looking lovely tonight, taking it easy by sitting on the top step most of the time, which I think is because she's in a dress and standing like she's riding a horse like usual might not appear lady-like.
 
Syesha - Should have know she'd try to equal Whitney with "I Will Always Love You," which is a shame since she doesn't have the range to make it work. If it's possible with this song, it actually seemed like she couldn't hit those notes and played it safe.
 
Michael - I guess he was good? Strange performance, rocky bluesy.
 
My bottom three: Ramiele, Carly and Syesha, but I'm biased because that's my list for the next three to get the boot.
 
 
DANCING WITH THE STARS - The Gute is gone? Is this an April Fool's joke? Nope, it's for real, and it's excruciating. I knew he wouldn't win, but for the sake of entertainment and sportsmanship I figured he'd last until the top six at least. In what turned out to be his final performance, he delivered the most hilarious dance in DWTS history, a "Mango," a tango with pro Jonathan, who is married to Steve's partner Anna and with whom The Gute practiced this week when Anna was sick.
 
Who would I rather have seen go? Shannon and Mario, with Marissa in the wings as the worst of Monday.
 
I'm still stunned. Shocked. Appalled.
 
 
THE BIGGEST LOSER: COUPLES - More man tears and yelling at the TV from me and Val as Jay volunteers to go when he and Mark end up the bottom two. We were hoping Jay would win, since it seems unfair for Ali and Mark to get kicked off, come back due to the game changing the rules, Kelly's annoying and Roger's kind of a jerk nowadays. Now it looks like fans get to choose the winner, so that seems good news for Ali, who has tried to stay above the fray and just enjoy her new body.
 
And what can she do with that new body? Here in West Tennessee, Apex Home Builders is offering a an "exercise" *coughStrippercough* pole installed in 12 newly built homes during the months of April and May. For real.
 
Speaking of losing weight, I'm down enough to buy new jeans last week, a size smaller, and I'm having to yank my belt a good four notches to keep my pants up, so good times there. Of course, last night Val and I made a pact to finally quit french fries, so naturally I'm craving them right now.