Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Fluff and Time Wasters*

*Blog post title, courtesy of Jessica

Subtitle: "In which I am often perplexed"

They tried to do a clever juxtaposition of an ad for "Clash of the Titans" and the relationship between the contestants and the judges. And they failed. (I am perplexed.)

Dweeb enters the stage. Audience-that-claps-for-anything screams and applauds. (I am perplexed.)

Kara dressed like Paula tonight, donning bulky pearl strands over a silky dress.

Ruben! He has slimmed down A LOT! Nice smile, cute dimples, good voice. Didn't seem quite as good as I remembered. I contemplate whether or not his body fat may be akin to Samson's hair.

Ruben's a vegan! Who knew? Ryan's a dweeb calling Big Mike out and having them stand side by side. (Cue green slime). Seriously, What. A. Dork. (I am perplexed.)

We return from commercial and Ryan introduces the Ford commercial like a dork.

We get to see Mama Garcia. There were two things I enjoyed tonight. This was one of them.

They show a really lame clip of a world premiere where the actors said things. It seemed rather useless. (I am perplexed.)

And, folks, we're 18 minutes in at this point.

Lee says you've got to always do your best every time. No, no, no, Lee. Lee apparently missed Kara's memo that says you don't. She's fired.

Ryan says to Casey, "I hate to get in a serious mode here, but I have to tell you to sit. You're safe." Such. A. Dork!

Randy then gives Aaron advice on how to sing about being in love when you're 16 and haven't ever been in love . . . think of how you love your parents and things. "Do that, but twisted." Twisted is the right word for it. (I am perplexed.)

Aaron is safe and someone from his family inexplicably turns his back so we can, presumably, read the back of his jacket, which we can't see at all. (I am perplexed.)

Holy Moses, this is tedious.

Siobhan talked. I fell asleep.

Randy wore an elephant brooch yesterday and an eagle emblem today. He is either an animal lover or a not-so-closeted Republican. (I am perplexed.)

Katie is in the bottom 3 and Simon is frusTRATed. (He is also annoyed that Ryan is in his personal space. Hell, I'm annoyed that Ryan is in his personal space).

Next week's theme comes from the Lennon/McCartney songbook. Yay!

Justin Bieber, or some 7-year-old boy (not sure which), is in the audience and Ryan talks to him. Point? I don't know. (I am perplexed.)

Usher performs. He has some Michael Jackson-like moves. What he and his dancers did was totally inappropriate for a family show, so we fast forwarded. This is rated PG, right? Because that looked like some NSFW viral video. So therefore . . . (I am perplexed.)

Didi looks wary of Ryan's questions and who can blame her. Didi is in the bottom 3.

After a stupid fake-out, Big Mike picks Ryan WAY UP off the ground. It was like watching my frustrations being worked out on stage. I bet Ryan never pulls a fake-out with Mike again. This was the 2nd of 2 things I enjoyed tonight. So, basically, I'm about done.

Tim and Andrew stand together. So predictable.

Kara is also genuinely perplexed tonight. She is perplexed by Tim and his ever-present smile and how it seems to reflect that he doesn't take anything they say seriously. I think he really doesn't.

So, we have Tim, Katie, Didi, and the useless 3rd stool.

Boots and a spring dress? I'm breaking out my sandals. (I am perplexed.)

They send Katie back so Ryan can have a stool.

Before we cut to commercial, Didi and Tim are uncertain of their fate; therefore, Tim will smile and give 2 thumbs up. Mystifying.

They issue a strobe lighting warning. (About this, they warn people. But inappropriate, gyrating dance moves? Not so much.)

Diddy Dirty Money? Isn't that Sean Puffy Combs? Or wait, is it P. Diddy? (I am perplexed.)

Let's evaluate the lyrics of the guest performances so far:

"Blah, blah, blah" and "Hello. Good morning."

Really? (I am perplexed.)

Sean P. Diddy Puffy Combs Dirty Money or whatever his name is now does a little singing and dancing with what appears to be some of Jesse James' mistresses. And I can't quite tell . . . is this supposed to be provocative? A 'Thriller' remake? And are those supposed to be teens in hoodies? Dementors? (I am perplexed.)

R&B has apparently gotten so bad and so stupid that it consists of strobe lighting, smoke, sunglasses, lots and lots of back up dancers all over the stage, and one singer shouting out, "Make some noise!" so that people will clap.

Diddy Dirty Money is a camera hog.

Didi is out and Tim is safe. Tim's friends, like the rest of America, are shocked.

Didi sings for the save. It's way too early for anyone to seriously think the judges are going to use it or even pretend to think they'll use it. I like that they can choose any song they've sung so far. She did a nice job. I like the timbre of her voice. She did so much better than she did yesterday. She really should've stuck with this kind of singing and song choice.

Didi leaves and we are subjected to more tedious Tim performances. And, aside from being perplexed, I hate teeny bopper voters tonight.

Who Killed R&B?

I'm royally disappointed. I remember when R&B singers were singers first, not dancers, choreographers, and entrepreneurs. I remember when the lyrics to songs actually mattered, when they weren't the excuse to blow smoke on stage and wear enormous sunglasses and an equally large sunglasses pendant around your neck. What happened?! I'm not even going way back to find these singers. I'm talking about people like Luther Vandross, Bobby Brown (before he and Whitney got so whacked in the head), Keith Sweat, and groups like Boyz II Men, New Edition, and Bel Biv DeVoe. Those performers all had stage presence but not at the expense of the music. I actually think Usher can sing, so his lame, AutoTuned performance bugged me, too.

Things I liked . . .


Tim and Katie in the Bottom 3. That was good.

Didi going home instead of Tim or Katie? Not so much. She didn't do well yesterday, but those others deserve to go home a lot more than Didi does.


Michael tossing Ryan around like he's some sort of small pet.Kara Trying to figure out why Tim smiles so much. I'm sure the smiles aren't ruining his chances. His singing is what's failing him.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

In Which Ryan is a Dweeb

Wow, they're really mixing it up this week by opening the show with a little backstage peek. Oh, look at that. And the judges are fake kissing. This show is so mature.

I feel grumpy at the onset and it steadily grows throughout the nonsense of the night. OMG! We still have a 2-hour show and 2 less contestants, so that means MORE FILLER. I'm in a mood tonight, so, that's right, producer who didn't shorten the show yet? You're fired.

Cue the music. The 10 contestants walk out on stage! Ooooh, so let me get this straight. First they're behind the big doors. Then, they're in front. Wow. This show really challenges the limits of my intellectual capacities. Seriously, I might actually hear myself getting stupider as I sit and watch this rubbish.

Usher? Cool. Ryan? He has never looked whiter than he did when he hugged Usher. He is SUCH A DWEEB. Oh, but look! Now he's wearing sunglasses like Usher! And now he's a dweeb in shades. Idol is getting more Disney-meets-Nick Jr. every freaking episode. I won't be one bit surprised when they replace the video montage with green slime. That's right. You heard it here first.

Siobhan Magnus - "Through the Fire"
I love that she told Usher she was "wicked nervous." And other than the fact that I'm glad her Sio-zombie friends didn't show up tonight, that is the extent of my love for Siobhan tonight. What the hell was she wearing? She had Princess Leia hair and Stormtrooper boots with shin guards. And a dress. I didn't get it. She was pitchy with a CAPITAL "P." It was awful. Bananas, pens, hiking trails, whatever it was, it stunk. And I'm with Simon -- I'm a bit bored by the screaming at the end. I could've smacked Kara (Shut up. I'm in a grumpy mood, remember??) for her "Every performer has an off night; you're entitled to one" remark. That's when I hit pause (That's right. I hit pause.) and said, "I'm sorry. What happened to 'You've got to bring it EVERY night?'" The audience is also growing stupider. It was so obvious tonight that they clapped when some schmo held up an "applause" sign. Or maybe the delay in response was his fault. "Applause" sign guy? Fired. And she was wearing a bumpit.I have no comment on that other than to point it out. Princess Leia with a bumpit. And Stormtrooper boots. With shin guards.

And was it me or did the judges go on and on and on? SHUT UP.

The backstage shot of sad Siobhan? So so wrong. Holy fire whoever had that idea. Backstage should be their haven. That was totally violated tonight and it felt so very wrong for us to be an invited part of that. So so wrong. Hey, I have an idea. Shorten the show to an hour and a half, because this sucks.

Casey - "Hold On, I'm Comin'"
His Zach Braff smile distracts me, but even so, I LOVED IT! Ryan is such a dweeb, but I am loving Casey. Zach Braff. I'm telling you. Producers? Wanna liven things up? Ditch the stupid Ryan interviews and give him a J.D. daydream sequence. Also, I love that Casey unapologetically will always use the guitar. Crystal should take note.

Michael Lynche - "Ready for Love"
That was an odd stage placement, but a really great performance. I am liking him more and more each week.

Ryan cuts to commercial with "Things get emotional when Didi met Usher." Hmmmm, somebody cried and I bet it's not Usher.

Didi Benami - "What Becomes of the Broken-Hearted?"
Weird song choice. For me, this is the kind of old R&B song that comes on the radio and I change the station. Just not one of my favorites. It's a little soft rock in an elevator for me. She did a good job with it, but just . . . bleh. Ryan turned all Maury Povich on her and that was incredibly uncomfortable. She tried at least 2 different ways to deflect that question and he just didn't back off at all. Beyond awkward. And I started to hate Ryan a little bit for that. Hated him a little more for going ahead and answering his own question by telling millions of people Didis' personal stuff. Um, hello? Idiot. Didn't I fire him?

The backstage shots with Ryan's voice narrating every move is slightly reminiscent of the Olympics but in a very bizarre and uncomfortable way.

Tim "Teflon" Urban - "Sweet Love"
They can choose from hundreds of R&B songs and they choose this?? I hate these songs! Where is Bobby Brown?? You, readers. You. Reading this? Feel loved. Feel very, very loved. This blog post is the only thing stopping me from fast forwarding the monstrosity that was this performance. And when you tell me in the comments that you just fast forward it? It fills me with envy and maybe even a little bit of rage. And resentment. See how this family show brings out the best in us? The only reason that they didn't tell Didi to pack her bags was because Tim hadn't sung yet. It was so awful, so Broadway (and not in a good way), so dull, so flat, so . . . I hate you all for fast forwarding it while I sat through it so I could write funny things for you. A pox on every one of you who skipped this crap. Simon's criticism was my favorite moment of the night. Simon should be proud. I think he had a "moh-ment" tonight. Thank you. Clearly Tim doesn't care. And that stupid backstage Idol's-thoughts-directly-after-the-performance clip only confirms that. I'm a little sick of Tim's mug. Teflon or not.

Andrew Garcia - "Forever"
Go back. Right now. Go back and read my past reviews if you're a doubter when I say that I have always loved this guy. I never gave up on him. I never hated on him. I never got so hung up on that awesome "Straight Up" performance (that, quite frankly, I'm so sick of hearing the judges mention) that I couldn't see his relevance and talent. I love Andrew. This performance was so current, so hot, so spot on. I LOVE IT. The guitar, the strings, the drum box. Loved it! My favorite performance of the night. He almost made me forget that wedding party dancing down the aisle. He deserves mad praise for what he did tonight. I love him. And I love his mom. Mama Garcia? Me gusta tambien.

Katie Stevens - "Chain of Fools"
Not a flattering outfit. I was a little bored. That's all I've got.

Lee DeWyze - "Treat Her Like a Lady"
Loved, loved, loved it! Simon's line about changing his life forever? Very cool. Dude, LOVED it. I like Lee, love his voice, loved this performance. Not much more to add. I'd buy his album. I'd watch him live. He is awesome.

Where's Waldo? Ryan's in the mosh pit. Stage director? Fired.

Crystal Bowersox - "Midnight Train to Georgia"
Crystal on piano. It was great, but not her best. Go back to the guitar, Crystal. I don't believe that she was totally comfortable doing what she did tonight. You could tell by her nervous tapping on the piano, though maybe she was just nervous she'd fall in those heels. Go back to barefoot on the carpet, Crystal. She is so good and authentic as she is, there's no need to do this sort of thing. And I didn't love the arrangement. It left me hanging. She stopped right when the backup singers would normally sing, "His world . . . " which is one of my favorite parts. She fell a few notches for me based on this performance, but I still think she's AMAZING. Ryan, though? Asking Crystal if she'd wear a dress like Kara's? Somebody fire him.

We keep seeing what's going on backstage as the Idols walk off. However will they fill the time tomorrow?

Aaron Kelly - "Ain't No Sunshine"
He closed the show? Why? Lee or Andrew should have had that honor. First of all, his hair looks like the top of a dessert. He had a shaky start. And when he got to the "I know, I know, I know" part, he did exactly what Usher said not to do. And it bombed. I love this song, but I didn't not like his performance of it. It was so flat. Simon calls him a cupcake, so Ryan whispers to him about desserts. Ugh.

My order of favorites tonight from top to bottom surprises even me, but there it is:

Andrew
Lee
Casey
Mike
Crystal
Aaron
Katie
Didi
Siobhan
Tim

Yep. And if there's any justice in this world, Tim will be putting his Teflon self on a midnight train to anywhere else but here. Because it is all so so wrong.

Soul Train, Idol Style

A Caveat: I like American Idol, especially the part where contestants sing songs and the judges say stuff.

The Top 10 is usually where I start crying and complaining about the length of the show. Two hours is just too much. There is too much space to fill so we get to watch the contestants get hugs after their performances. A couple more blown kisses and a bouquet of roses and we're back in Vancouver. And what's up with Ryan?! Is it me, or has he gotten a lot more annoying over the past few years. I feel like he's become so full of himself that he's trying to dominate the show. He was at his best when he did the Hollywood entertainment news thing: recap the performance, ask a couple of softball questions to keep the show running, and then move on to the numbers. He is not Mike Wallace. No need for "tough questions." He's Casey Kasem. Just count it down Ryan and move on, right Scooby?

There. Complaints gone. For now.

I usually like R&B week because I grew up listening to a lot of that kind of music. I was a little disappointed in some of the song choices, but there were enough really good performances that I was entertained in the end. I liked Usher as a mentor. He has serious street cred so the mentoring process meant something this week. You can decide for yourself what this means about last week's mentor. I will also say this: enough with "The Moment." A "Moment" happens by chance. That's what makes it special. The more a contestant tries to manufacture one, and the harder the judges push for one, the more ridiculous it gets each week. Let the poor singers be and see what happens. Like Ron Popeil always says, "Set it and forget it."

Siobhan Magnus: She decided to get into the whole soul thing by channeling her inner Apollo Creed. Or maybe she was going for Clubber Lang. Either way, I think those boots were the opposite of what Usher was talking about. Also, Simon read my mind. I've been tired of the screeching thing for a while. Siobhan is a better singer and performer than that. She doesn't need to trademark the higher octave to be legit.

Casey James: Like he said in his package, Casey was in good position this week. He's a genuine blues artist so he should have felt comfortable. He played well, seemed to fit the part, and looked very comfortable on stage. I'm wondering if there will be an Usher/James collaboration on a future album.

Michael Lynche: "Ruben with Moves" is now "Ruben with Guitar." Michael is a true R&B artist, like the guys I used to listen to. He is in tune. There is no gimmick to his performance. He's just a guy with a good voice who can reach out to people. I don't know if he is the next American Idol or not, but I definitely see him having longevity if he keeps this up. (An aside: add some Jehri curls and he looks like the guy hosting this show. I was waiting for him to interrupt the judges with a little refrain.)

Didi Benami: First of all, I hate it when contestants try to excuse their performances by saying, "I'm not a (fill in the genre) singer." It may be true, but it's no excuse for a lackluster performance. Didi just picked a bad song and her voice didn't fit it at all. The judges were right: she is so far from her authentic self as a performer that it's uncomfortable to watch. I did feel badly that Ryan kept pestering the poor girl. Obviously she's had a difficult experience she'd like to keep out of the spotlight. Dude, this is not some exposé. This is a talent show created for the teen demographic. Chill.

Tim Urban: I wish Facebook had a "Don't Like This" option on status messages. I also wish there was a line to call to vote "No" on Tim. He's smiling because he's been playing with house money ever since Ken Warwick made that awkwardly staged phone call to invite Tim to be a replacement on the Top 24 show. The judges already tried to get rid of him once and failed. Now it's America's turn. He seems like a nice guy having fun. That's fine. He's just not even close to belonging on American Idol. He was out of tune (despite the judges' comments otherwise), drowned out by the band, and hopelessly white. You can't teach soul--either you've got it or you don't. Tim is more of an Osmond kind of performer. He'd be rock-and-roll, I guess.

Andrew Garcia: If I were advising Andrew, I would have told him to keep playing the acoustic guitar until the people don't vote you back. He is obviously comfortable behind it. He has a great sense of style. He isn't a perfect singer, but he has great creativity. The judges nearly ruined him with all of that "where's your moment" and "we loved you when you played 'Straight Up'" crap. This week was awesome and his smile toward the end was proof that he felt it, too. I hope this helps him rebound and stick around for a while.

Katie Stevens: If the judges can't sort you out, where does that leave you? Apparently Katie isn't really listening anyway. I'd tend to trust Simon a bit more than Kara, but in the end who really cares? Katie is a little boring, a little arrogant, and not quite all that and a bag of chips. She's more of a half-bag of pretzels. Picking Aretha Franklin was a bit on the nose for me as well. I don't expect contestants to drastically change from week to week, but I think she already did Aretha. Switch it up a little. Please.

Lee Dewyze: Lee always looks like the sight of his shadow could make him run the opposite direction. He is a total ball of nerves ready to unravel. He is awesome, though. I love to hear him because he seems to understand who he is and what kinds of songs he should sing. His guitar playing is so good and I love the voicings he uses on the chords. It makes his arrangements so much more interesting. About halfway through the song tonight I think he started to realize how good he is. Usher pouring on the praise probably didn't hurt, either. He's one of the two or three relevant contestants in this group so I hope he does well. Early in the show when Ryan asked who people were cheering for I heard a lot of "Lee" in the crowd. Sure, his name just carries better than say, Siobhan, but I'm choosing to view it as an omen of things to come.

Crystal Bowersox: Crystal is by far the most "ready" contestant of the bunch. I get why she ditched the guitar and noodled around on the piano, but like Simon said, she can just do her thing each week and be confident that it is the right decision. Who in his right mind would have ever told B.B. King to lose the guitar? Crystal is a guitar-playing fool and should keep playing it every week. Most of the time when contestants try to "mix it up" for the judges it doesn't work very well. So Crystal, no more guitar-less performances. Also, this is one of my very favorite R&B songs so I was expecting a whole lot more from Crystal. Great song choice, so-so result.

Aaron Kelly: My adjective for Aaron is "adequate." He's better than some and worse than some. He's a nice kid with a good voice. He apparently didn't understand what Usher was saying about "I know. I know. I know." because I felt like he was reading me the 10-day forecast at that point in the song (apparently he "don't know"), but I've heard worse performances in my lifetime. This song is so great that I was quite disappointed in the end result. Plus, Kris Allen did such a phenomenal job that it was hard for me to get on board the Aaron bandwagon.

Bottom 3: Tim, Didi, Andrew (not that I think he deserves it)
Riding the Soul Train Home: Tim (please let it be Tim . . .)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Friend Spotlight: Cathy



I have been ITCHING to write this post since January.

Positively ITCHING.

Editor's note:

The background of the original post
took on a life of its own
and turned into a spotlight.

So the post I've been positively
ITCHING
to write (Girls' Weekend)
is coming soon.


A little background:
Growing up, I had a best girl friend. Her name is Cathy.
She lived about 45 minutes away from me,
but that didn't stop us from getting together
as much as humanly possible.

I looked through my scrapbooks.
I have pictures as far back as 1987,
though I'm fairly certain we met in 1986
when we were both 12.

Mess Hall, Girls' Camp, 1987
There she is in the yellow shorts and bandana.
Her shirt says, "Frankly Scallop, I don't give a clam."

I have pictures of us in Cape Cod,
in RI (where she's from), and
in MA (where I'm from).


WASHINGTON, DC

I have pictures of us as teens in Washington, D.C.
visiting the monuments and the zoo.

Washington, D.C., 1990
I took the picture, so I'm not in it.
Cathy is on the left.


Somewhere between 1990 and 1992,
about 5 years or so after Cathy and I met,
Kellie moved to R.I.
(We had a lot of friends come and go
due to the naval base there).

Kellie, Kora, Cathy, Rachel, Stacy
National Zoo, D.C., 1992


Swansea, MA

We became especially close our junior and senior years
of high school and throughout our college years
when we'd get together on breaks.

We had a really nice group of friends.
Often it was me, Cathy, Kellie, Rachel, and Kora.

On my back porch in Swansea, MA
Summer, 1992
Back Row: Rachel, Kora, Amanda
Front Row: Kellie, Cathy



Nantucket

These girls took me to the island to cheer me up.
I was sad that my 1st boyfriend had moved away.
We had SO MUCH FUN that day.

On a ferry to spend a day in Nantucket
Cathy, Kellie, Stacy, Kora
Summer 1992



Cape Cod, MA

We had a lot of friends in this little triangle of
Portsmouth and Middletown, RI (where Cathy and Kellie lived),
Swansea, MA (my hometown),
and Cape Cod, MA (more friends there).

Cape Cod, 1992
Kellie and Stacy
"ROAR!"

Cathy, Stacy, Carrie


Thanksgiving Break, 1992

I had a free flight, so I used it my Freshman year
to spend Thanksgiving at home.

I spent most of that time gushing over a new boy
I'd met in college.
I liked him a lot and was falling for him hard.
And I was so hoping he liked me, too.

He called me while I was home in MA.
And he kissed me for the first time
soon after I returned to college after this trip.

A little over 4 years later, I became his wife.

Me and Kellie

Cathy, Me, My Mom (I think Cathy was giving her a head massage??)
We're listening to "Unforgettable"

(Mine and Mark's song)



Christmas Break, 1992

During college breaks, several of us would reunite
and have a fun time together.

A favorite group thing to do?
Visit Boston!

Stacy, Melinda, Cathy, Selena

The girl 2nd from the left is my cousin Melinda.
Well, really her mom Lucy and I are cousins.
Lucy is the oldest grandchild.
I am the youngest.

Melinda came from the Azores to live with us for a while.
I both loved and hated it.

Loved it, because I loved spending time with her.
Hated that every boy I knew suddenly wanted to be around us
so they could ogle her and swoon over her accent.

-----------------

Summer, 1993

I was home for the summer after my first year of college.
It was a rough summer in many ways.
I was working full-time at a government job
with very grumpy people.
I missed Mark like crazy.
And my mother was menopausal.
(I love you, Mom, but you know it's true).

Cathy kept me sane.

In all her loveliness

Cathy and me

Cathy and Me
Joe, Ben, and Chris



Housesitting

One of my favorite things we did that summer
was housesit for my brother and his family.
We stayed in their apartment and lived as roommates.

When my brother returned
(his family stayed in UT a while longer),
we kept hanging out there.

Goofballs


Clowns

Soon after housesitting, we dressed as clowns
for my niece's birthday party.

I don't think my brother fully appreciates me.

I'm the one with the blue hair
She's the one with red hair


New York

We also road tripped with some friends to New York.

Me and Cathy


Meteor Shower

This is another one of those simple things
that stands out in my mind
as one of the most fun nights I had as a teenager.
I have always had simple tastes and simple pleasures.

I was 19.
And my girlfriends and I got together
and laid down in some farmer's field
in the middle of nowhere
and watched falling stars.
Loads and loads of them.

Then, as per tradition, we went to Friendly's for ice cream.

Sarah, Rachel, Cathy, Stacy, Kellie, Selena

Sarah, Rachel, Cathy, Stacy, Selena, Cigdem
Cigdem was one of my closest high school friends--
she was a Muslim from Turkey

Cathy and me


Turning 21
and some cross-country fun


I returned to college in the fall of 1993
and pretty much stayed there until I left for Portugal.

Right before I turned 21,
I was home for a couple of months.
Again, Cathy and I spent a lot of time together.

At my house

In Boston

In D.C.

We took the train to D.C.


A friend even paid for us to visit the West together.

We visited the "Mall of America" together
in Minneapolis, MN.

Recording our trip in a photo booth

We visited my brother's family that had just moved to UT
and built a pyramid with some of my nieces

Funny Story:

On my 21st birthday, we were in Utah together.
We were at a convenience store that sold liquor.
We didn't drink, of course,
but she dared me to try to buy some.

I protested.
She begged.
She just wanted to see if they'd card me.
I've always looked WAY younger than my age.
I wouldn't do it.
But I was curious, too.

So, when we were getting our (non-alcoholic) items,
I asked the guy at the register,
"Can I ask you something?
If I tried to buy alcohol, would you card me?"

He smirked and said,
"Little Girl, if you tried to buy chocolate,
I'd card you."

Cathy thought that was hilarious.
I was not amused.
Hmph.

We visited California, too.

------------

I have pictures of us in several Eastern states,
Minnesota, Utah, and California.

Doing this post helped me recognize that
we have visited over 10 states together!

(It also helped me realize that
perhaps I should consider contact lenses).

Cathy was there to support me
when I got home from living overseas.
She had gotten married and
had a baby while I was away.

Cathy's husband, baby boy, Cathy, and me
September 1996


She was at our wedding reception in MA.
She was supposed to DJ our wedding,
but it fell through VERY last minute
(as in she whispered it in my ear when she got there),
so we (*sniff*) had no dancing at our wedding.
I love her so much that I didn't even get mad.
Cathy, you can make it up to us by DJing our 25th
wedding anniversary party. :)

Hugo, Thaddeus, Cathy, me, Mark
January 1997

We got together now and then.

At my house in Swansea, MA
Summer 1998
Cathy's younger brother Mike
(who had a huge crush on me all through our teenage years--
I have funny stories about that, too),
me, Thaddeus, and Cathy

---------------

But over the years, we simply drifted out of touch.
No big falling out.
Nothing dramatic.
(That's not how we roll).
Just rotten at keeping in touch, I guess.
I lived in the West for a while.
She stayed in the East.

She was there for me at my Dad's wake.
I was so touched that she'd come.
She always loved my Dad.
She calls him Pepé
and my mother, Memé.

This past summer, we met up in Boston.
And it was wonderful!
WONDERFUL.
And we realized just how much we've missed each other.
The answer? A lot.

Cathy and me
with a bunch of "mini-us"es from the old gang
Boston Children's Museum
Summer 2009


So we vowed to not let that happen again.
We vowed to stay in better touch.

See, Cathy is HILARIOUS.
As in, she is, bar none, THE funniest person we know.
And she has super pretty green eyes gorgeously
offset by her lovely Puerto Rican skin.
And she's generous.
And she's kind.
And she's thoughtful.
And she's warm.
And she's WICKED AWESOME with kids.
And she's a bit of a kid herself.
And she's gutsy.
And she's smart.
And she's perceptive.
And she's fun.
And she's easy to talk to.
And she's supportive.
And she's a good friend.

When I'm with her,
I feel younger, a little crazier, a little more impulsive.

She loves to read and reads A LOT.
And we have similar tastes and opinions.
She got her account set up on GoodReads and
her list could've been mine.

We're reading The Great Gatsby this month
for book club. It's her favorite.
Wish she were here.

And she's totally jealous of our trip
to the National Book Festival,
so they're coming with us
starting this year!

Cathy and I LOVE to eat.
Some places come to mind as frequent haunts of ours.
East Side Mario's (for the Italian food).
Friendly's (for the ambience).
Newport Creamery (for the Awful Awfuls).
Border Cafe (for the best Mexican in Boston).
The SCOOPERBOWL (for the ice cream, duh).

The Scooperbowl is a Boston tradition.
Huge tent.
Lots of water.
$5 admission.
And all the ice cream you can eat.
Breyer's, Dreyer's, Dove,
you name it.
Plus you get to meet Ben and Jerry.


Texting

So, we've been better about texting and emailing
and even a couple of phone calls
(even though neither of us is big into using the phone).

We've texted now and then to say, "I miss you."
My favorite exchange went something like this:

Me texting her:
Guess who I woke up thinking about this morning!

Her texting me back:
I woke up thinking about blueberry pancakes,
but you were a close second.


Girls' Weekend

Something we started doing this past January,
in our effort to stay in better touch
and to get together more often
(because it's soooooooo very therapeutic) . . .
Girls' Weekends.

And see, that's what I was going to post about
when I started typing this.
But I got sidetracked on my trip down memory lane.

So, the post about Girls' Weekend will be the next one I post.

It's just that I can't write a post about Cathy
without the background.

She's just too special of a friend for that.

I think it's pretty neat that we've been friends
for coming up on 25 years.

All friends are important and wonderful,
but there's something extra special about someone
who has known you since childhood.

And I am super lucky that Cathy is
that kind of friend to me.

It occurred to me this morning . . .

. . . that yesterday's bottom 3 are the exact same 3 that should've gone instead of Lily, Alex, and Katelyn. What a waste of time.

I Must Be Getting Old . . .

. . . because I don't understand the music of today. This is the second time I've heard Miley Cyrus perform on American Idol and each time I had the same thought: keep it in the studio. She seems like a really nice girl, and during last night's show she came off as fairly mature without being precocious, but I just haven't liked her live performances that much. And the Disney crowd will scream for anything. And I've got news for you, Miley. People will give a standing O for anything these days. In fairness, she seemed like she might be a little sick the last few days, so maybe this critique is totally off base. I don't know.

Then out came Some Jonas and That Girl. What a manic performance. I felt like they went from 0 to 60 in about half a second, and then the wheels came off when they got to top speed. It seemed like he was in the middle of a poor Timberlake impression and she was trying to sing every note in existence within a four beat run. I just didn't get it at all. That's right they kicked it off in Orlando. Guests at Disney are easily impressed.

OK. Now that I've gotten that off of my chest . . .

The results shows are getting to be kind of lame. Talk about song selection. Of all the #1 hits since 1958, Wham? Talk about utter and complete cheese. And not the good kind from behind the deli counter. I'm talking about the processed kind you can squirt out of a can onto crackers or use to caulk your bathtub. These idols are way more talented than these group numbers ever show. But hey, you might see these performances on tour, so get ready America!

In case you missed it, 10 of these idols will be out on tour. The one who gets booted tonight will not. Got it? To recap. Ten will tour. One will not. Ten. Not one.

I was a little surprised that Katie was in the bottom 3 and not Andrew. Last night was Katie's best effort in a while, and if she can string together another performance or two like it she could stick around for a while. I was not surprised, however, to see Tim and Paige in the silver Captain Kirk bidets. I was even less surprised that Paige went home. She just did not have a good run as of late. I was glad to see them tell her before she sang that there was just no way they'd use the save on her. The complete honesty and openness was refreshing. Listening to her sing again was not.

Paige really didn't belong in the Top 12 based on her earlier weeks. She never had a great performance after Hollywood and it was hard to see why the judges were so high on her. Water under the bridge now anyway.

R&B and Soul next week. This is one of those weeks that I think everyone should do well. We'll see how much I know.

(Parting shot: The Siobhan-bies scare me. Truly. I may not sleep tonight.)

Stacy's Thoughts During Elimination Night

Tonight's post will be like taking a little trip inside my thoughts. Consider it a Field Trip of sorts as either penance or reward for watching the crap that is this show this season.

INTRODUCTION

This over-the-top dramatic intro montage is like a movie trailer for some kind of summer blockbuster hit. I bet they'd call it, "THE TOUR."

However, the audience laughing as the montage wrapped up kinda ruined the effect.

They're really making a big deal out of the tour this year. I've always wondered in the past why they don't make it more clear that the Top 10 (and not the Top 12) are the ones who go on tour. Something has changed this year.

Stupid save. Don't bother.

Kara is trying (unsuccessfully) to be like Paula. I bet the producers are kicking themselves over that decision. I can think of about 20 people who should be fired before Paula. I should be in charge.

GROUP NUMBER - "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go."

Oh crap. The group number is back. Whoever brought that back should be fired. Pronto.

I bet they brought it back to plug that TOP TEN tour. I bet ticket sales are down and they want people to attend the concerts.

In which case, they really should not have done this group number.

Crystal is so hoping she gets the surprise boot tonight so she doesn't have to go on tour. Snapping her fingers and fluttering her hand at her heart? I don't think so.

Why the close up on Michael's hand? 11 people on stage and we have to see chubby fingers? Director guy? Fired.

The stage is dripping in mounds and mounds of Velveeta.

The heart flutter hand motion is so dumb. Choreographer. So fired.

This is so lip synced, too. Also dumb.

Didi fell a little. It's okay, though. Didn't affect the sound at all. (Refer to above thought).

I think I might be too old to watch this show and enjoy it.

I used to think George Michael was so cute when he was the lead singer of Wham. That feathered, blond hair. . . Those two hoop earrings . . . Now he's just gross.

FORD COMMERCIAL

The one who has the most believable, commercial look in these commercials is Katie.

I secretly think that when they call someone "commercial," it sounds wicked insulting.

Oooh, a ball pit!

RESULTS

I've never seen them hype the tour so much. Bet they're worried that no one will want to go with such a lame TOP TEN. That's a legitimate worry.

So. Much. Chatter.

Casey's Lyrics, Siobhan's boss's beard, Katie's Dad's viewing habits (or lack thereof), Mike's baby . . . perhaps an hour is too long for the results show. Producers? Fired.

Camera shows 3 stools as Ryan says: "Soon the stools will be filled."

To which I say: "LIAR!"

Like Vivian has pointed out, the stools will be filled with 2 contestants plus Ryan as he interviews them. Thank you, Vivian.

I like the detectives and the cowboys. Oh wrong show. I'm sorry. I fell asleep while Siobhan was talking. It's positively lulling. It's the auditory equivalent of watching paint dry.

I love Ellen's pen comment. I forgot to say that in my post yesterday. Oooh, I know. I'll put it in this one tonight.

2 people stand--Lee and Casey. Oh wait! 4 people stand--also Tim and Paige. Well, this one's a head scratcher. So predictable. Two are safe, two are not. You can't fool me, Idol people!

I wonder if Casey and Lee kept standing during the commercial since no one told them to sit down. Ryan? Fired. Again.

Next week's theme is R&B/Soul. YES!

MILEY CYRUS PERFORMS

I wonder if the billowing smoke might help her sound better?

Nope.

Wow, her hair is long. And with that dress, it somehow reminds me of a mermaid. Like Daryl Hannah in Splash. Which is so creepy.

Wow, her singing is really bad--just like when she sang on Idol last year. Idol must be hurting badly. But don't forget to buy tickets for the tour!

Someone didn't cue the cameraman that she was going to start that strange head banging, so it looked like she was falling on the stage. That may have been more interesting and less weird than whatever it is she was actually doing.

The odd head banging together with that prom gown reminds me of drunk girls at prom. It's not pretty.

BACK TO RESULTS

Ryan: "We're gonna fill that 3rd seat."

Me (snickering): "No, they're not." (I recognize that I may need to find a new hobby soon).

Didi is so reminiscent of Brooke White.

What's going on behind that backdrop screen--is that a cave?

Didi can't hear the judges and Ryan had to ask for more volume. Bet that guy gets fired. Or not. It's only been about 9 seasons of the same story and he's still there.

My gender-sensitive readers are going to notice that I keep using "he" when I assume someone has messed up and fire said person. I'm just trying to lower the glass ceiling.

Obviously the first few people on the first row are safe (otherwise why would they start with them?). Fast forward, fast forward.

I love Tivo.

Clearly, it's going to be down to Katie and Andrew.

Kara says, "What?" They can't hear either. So fired.

See? No one is in the 3rd seat.

Oh please no singing for the save.

This season has jumped the shark.

A JONAS KID AND SOME GIRL

That suit is shiny.

Disney singers suck. Really badly.

It was all a little "Telemundo meets Christian Radio."

Their jerky movements are so manic! It's like they jumped over the crescendo and went right from ppp to fff. And fast!

The girls in the audience go mad. Seriously? I don't see it.

Wow, that's the same guy who "judged?!?" He talks!

BACK TO RESULTS

Katie's safe.

I don't want to hear either of these two sing again.

That was the approximately 23rd mention of the TOP TEN tour. A "We know they suck, but please BUY TICKETS" sign would be more subtle.

Please don't bother with the singing.

Oh good.

What's a "roller coaster of a lifetime?"

Don't sing us out. Don't sing us out.

She's gonna sing.

Ryan: "Get ready."

Indeed. Run!

I wonder if Simon has chapped lips.

Oh good. They switched her song so we don't have to hear last night's crapfest. Give that guy a raise.

Happy now, gender-sensitive readers? I gave HIM a raise.

Is she chewing gum?

POST POST

Why aren't I in bed?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

More Catching Up - LEGO Party!

And, of course, there's the birthday bash.
We love theme parties and this year,
Thing 2 chose a Lego-themed party!

They got to guess how many LEGOs were in each jar.


Eat the edible LEGO candy and other snacks.
Thing 2 made that cool LEGO "7" on the table.

They colored various character LEGO sheets
while waiting for all guests to arrive.

They earned tokens for every game and afterward,
purchased prizes at the LEGO Employee Store.

Note the range of ages represented at this party -
Thing 2 has friends of all ages!

Some of the games included LEGO bingo
(the "Bingo" cards spell "LEGO"
and the "numbers" are actual, varied LEGOs)

They also played unwrap the LEGO
(where there are several layers of wrapping
and you unwrap and pass until someone finds it).

And we played "Guess What I Built" and other games
involving big piles of Legos.


Then the LEGO employees had pizza and root beer/birch beer.

Obligatory Goofy Face picture


Then the kids got into 2 teams to build their LEGO racing cars.

Ronald has the patience of a saint.
We love having the teens at birthday parties!
Such great kids.

The other team
(also with teens). :)


Then we raced the cars!

The birthday boy with his LEGO cakes!
The little LEGO guys are holding the candles.
One caught on fire -- everyone thought that was cool.

Then we sang, ate cake, and opened presents.
The kids cashed in their tokens for prizes
at the Employee Store.

Good Buddies

Later that night, Papa came to visit us for a little over a day
since he had business in New Jersey.

The next morning, my Mom and Jim went back home.
We LOVED having my Mom here for the holidays.
We all enjoyed ourselves so much.
(Hopefully next year, Jim can come, too).
And we're glad that both she and Jim
could be here for Thing 2's birthday party, too!

This pictures ASTOUNDS me. My mother, who doesn't like dogs,
ADORES Scout. And taught her to "give kisses"
(Scout puts her nose on our noses).
And my Mom taught her in Portuguese, no less!

Jim and the kids

Playing games with Papa

Out to lunch with Papa

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Can I Send Home Two?

I think Randy said it best when at some point he told everyone that he felt like it was Karaoke night at the local bar. By and large, that's what it seemed like. There were a couple of stand-outs, but otherwise tonight was full of adequate performances of songs that fit the category. The mentor seemed a bit young.

It was nice to be a part of "Everyone in the Band Gets Camera Time Week," especially Ricky. He was really getting into each of the performances. I can't think of anyone from the band that didn't at some point end up on stage with one of the contestants. Like Ryan said, it's "Build Your Own Band" night.

Lee Dewyze: I liked his performance a lot. He had better intonation this week than he's had in a long time. His biggest problem was getting put first in the show. By the time it's over, the little recap at the end with the phone number just isn't enough to remind me of how well he did.

Paige Miles: I can't remember a time when the judges have been this harsh with someone at this point in the competition. They were largely right, though. Paige didn't sound good (illness or not). Honestly, she should have been booted a long time ago and then there wouldn't be this problem right now.

Tim Urban: Why do marginal performers always come back with the "I just wanted to have fun" response? Conestants that keep telling us that they are "having fun" or dedicating their performances to "my loyal fans" are usually the early casualties. I loved all of Ellen's "High School Musical" references. That's exactly what Tim's performance was.

Aaron Kelly: This was actually a good song for him, even if it is one of the most overperformed songs in American Idol history. He sounded halfway decent, even though he's sick, and it was nice that he could meet his current crush. I think Simon wants to see Miley and Aaron arm in arm out there--it would be great for sales.

Crystal Bowersox: There is Crystal, and then there is the rest. She is so comfortable up on stage, and she always picks the right songs. She seems seasoned and ready. I'm a little nervous about the "big surprise"--they don't always go over well on Idol. Also, contestants that are really good with their guitars, who then decide to mix it up because the judges want to see them without the guitar, inevitably seem awkward and "off" without the guitar, so I hope whatever she has planned goes well.

Michael Lynch: The judges went a bit overboard in their criticism. Michael is a great talent and I love his voice. I thought it was a good song choice for him since it fit his vocal style so well. He got a bit too much exposure during the auditions and Hollywood week, so it's easy to start feeling like his personality is a bit too much. Ultimately, though, it was a really good performance by a really good contestant.

Andrew Garcia: This guy doesn't know if he's coming or going. His voice is actually a bit weak so "hiding" behind the guitar is a good thing for him. Bring back the six string.

Katie Stevens: Katie did well with song selection this week. Then she sang well. I thought she was out of tune in spots, but ultimately it was A LOT better than what she's done over the past few weeks.

Casey James: Not a great song for him. And didn't his package say he was planning to move a bit more and connect with the fans, but correct me if I'm wrong. Didn't he start in the corner of the stage and then move to the middle when he started singing, only to remain there until the last note? He's getting by right now but needs to "step it up," as the judges would say.

Didi Benami: So last week they celebrate the "dark side" of Didi. Great. I hope the "Dark Side of Didi Project" is over, because it's not her at all. She picked a mediocre song for all the wrong reasons. And "I just wanted to have fun" is not a good reason to pick one of these songs. Pick one you can sing well, that reflects your style. Period. With that said, her pitch was off in the beginning, but other than that I thought she did well.

Siobhan Magnus: . . . is weird. She is such an odd duck. She can sing, without a doubt. I don't know that I'd be considered a Siobhan fan, though. Her performances seem like an act, like she has some persona she wants to express each week. And the final screech notes? Don't get me started.

BOTTOM THREE: Andrew, Paige, Tim
CALLING MILEY TO PARTY IN THE USA: Paige

And the Idols Sing Blah, Blah, Blah

A giant Ryan head welcomes us to the show. And that was about the most exciting part. If this is where your DVR cut out, you didn't miss much (with the exception of Crystal).

And I would've had 2 more hours to do something else if I'd listened to what was good (Crystal) and nothing else. Ah, blessed hindsight.

BUT. I wouldn't be able to write this review if I hadn't sat through the whole stinking thing. So, here I am giving yet more time to this blah fest just for you. You can thank me with comments.

One would think that with "Billboard #1" as the theme, the contestants would choose some really great songs. One would be mistaken.

We fast forwarded all the grand entrances. How I love Tivo! We sat through stupid banter and watched 11 people saunter on and then off the stage (rather pointless really).

Miley Cyrus is the mentor, so her montage was really short. And I think Idol might be totally pandering to tweeners at this point.

Lee - "The Letter"
He's looking very Harry Connick, Jr. to me. A plus. I love the arrangement. I hoped he'd belt out some crazy note during that one repetitive section. He didn't, but I still think it was dope. Kara trying to channel Paula? Annoying. Simon going on about moments? Also annoying.

Paige - "Against All Odds"
Well, this week just got a whole lot less exciting. I hadn't even heard the other 9 contestants and I knew Paige would be gone this week. She's a nervous wreck and in over her head (for about the 7th week in a row). She was so, so bad. I mean, when the most positive thing the judges can come up with is, "You didn't fall down," that's pretty bad. She got some of the harshest (though well-deserved) criticism in the history of Idol. Honestly, please producers, have mercy on us all and just skip the whole "sing for your life" act tomorrow. It ain't happening.

Tim - "Crazy Little Thing Called Love"
I felt like I was at a beach party or watching a high school production of Grease, only the party was really lame and uncomfortable and the play stunk. He was better than previous weeks, but I'm bored with him. Having 4 judges is really brutal. A simple "you suck" becomes "You suck. You suck. You suck really bad. Oh, and by the way? You suck."

At this point in the show, I believe I said, "UGH. 8 more." I so wish we were watching Katelyn, Lily, and Alex right now.

Aaron - "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing"
Aaron has laryngitis, so since he has to spare his vocal chords, Ryan writes something on a clipboard that we can't read. Astounding, effective use of a minute of live television. I think it's funny that Aaron was all nervous around Miley. This song could be bad even without laryngitis, so I wasn't hopeful going into it. I figured, "Well, if he bombs, he can join Disney's cast with Miley." The spotlight, the blue lighting, the waving arms in the audience . . . it was all a bit Velveeta for me. Man, teenagers will jump up and down for anything. I think the kid could do country. And I've got to hand it to him that he has a nice voice. He did okay, but really this song should be banned from Idol now. Song List Person, retire it or you're fired.

It occurs to me that very little has compelled me to pick up the phone and vote since Elliott Yamin graced that stage. Ah, Elliott. My favorite Idol. I even hooked up a power dialer just for him. What has happened to this show?

Crystal - Me and Bobby McGee
Ah, the ONE redeeming performance of the evening, bar none. Crystal has a cool Natalie Merchant sound. No one can touch her. It's like 10 people are competing with each other while 1 star outshines them all. Crystal is head and shoulders above the rest BIG TIME. I'm totally with the guys on this (not "the guys" as Kara uses the term to refer to Randy and Ellen, but the true meaning of the phrase -- I'm with Randy and Simon) -- Crystal rocked the house. And on a homey carpet no less. I like this girl a lot.

Big Mike - When A Man Loves A Woman
He's better than I gave him credit for a few weeks ago. He has a great voice, a good false, but he needs to mix it up a little. This, with so many others, falls under the "blah" category tonight. In fact, other than Crystal and Lee, it was all a bit blah tonight.

Andrew Garcia - "Heard It Through the Grapevine"
I like him better with the guitar (Miley!). Dude, don't ever mime the lyrics. It's weird and cheesy. It was a little boring and it wasn't a great song choice and even Miley looks bored, but what's most old for me is seeing the judges ream him all the time. I'm just so tired of it. He deserves better than that. I think they're slowly destroying him instead of shaping him into something great. And I think he's capable of great.

Katie Stevens - Big Girls Don't Cry
A few facts about me and this song before I review Katie's performance:
1. Fergie looks like Kirstie Alley, so I always think of this song as a weight loss ballad for Jenny Craig.
2. I love singing along to this song on the radio.
3. This song bugs the HELL out of me grammatically. When I hear, "I'm going to miss you like a child misses their blanket," I just want to scream. It's HIS (or HER) blanket, not "their." Child is a singular antecedent and therefore requires a singular pronoun. "Their" is plural. ROAR, Fergie. Just ROAR!
Now that that's out of the way, let's talk Katie. She has a very good voice. It is pitchy at times, but she has, overall, a nice voice. Kara put her arms up at one point, but it only made me miss Paula more. Clearly, I have more to say about the grammar of the song than Katie's performance, so I'll add that Katie's getting better.

Casey James - Power of Love
Seriously? So, when he decided to use the stage more, he added walking to the mic, singing, and then stepping out from behind it for one, big guitar chord? Wow, clear the stage! He's going CRAZY! Casey has got to lose that nervous smile when he sings. It's weird. I most enjoyed seeing Rickey Minor rock the bass guitar. I think this was a kinda lame song choice. It's kind of lame as its own song, so covering it doesn't do much for it unless you do something with it, which Casey did not. He didn't make it current or his own. It was fine, but I'm not jumping out of my seat.

Didi Benami - You're No Good
Well, let's start with the positive. She didn't cry. Ryan started out this part of the show by taking Randy's seat (again) while Randy stands awkwardly next to him (again). And then, to add insult to injury, he drank out of his cup. Didi looked REALLY stiff in rehearsal. I enjoyed watching Rickey Minor again, this time he was rocking the bass. Didi was dull, but good. She made it current and I like her voice and, despite the judges' erroneous opinions, she is not that pitchy. But I do feel like yelling, "Why aren't they picking relevant and RECENT songs??"

Siobhan - Superstition
Why would anyone who didn't have to, sing a Stevie Wonder song?? I still don't see what all the hoopla is over Stevie. I just don't get it. I love that Siobhan used the phrase "wicked cool." That's my fellow MA girl! Except that she's SO DULL!! In that way, she does not fit the MA mold. People are outgoing, loud, funny, obnoxious, friendly, and interesting there. When she interviews, Siobhan reeks of a shy, geeky kid who'd get picked on, but then she steps on stage and OWNS it. It's SO WEIRD!! And the band was all over the stage tonight -- left, right, up high, behind, in front, to the side, on the steps, in the audience. I guess they had to do something with this utter BLAH fest tonight. Ellen's Dickens' reference was lost on all the Hannah Montana kiddies watching tonight. I believe I heard a collective "Huh?" Siobhan's "awesome notes" are a bit screechy for me. And then Ryan talks to her and she goes back to monotone and dull and it is SO SO WEIRD. Is she possessed as a singer? I don't get it. Very strange.

Best tonight: Crystal
Best one after Crystal for me: Lee
Ugh tonight: Everyone else
Worst, by a mile: Paige
Joining Lacy NOT on the tour: I would think Paige, but given the voting history this year, could be anyone.

Blah.