Thursday, March 29, 2012

OMG. You MUST watch Idol.

Yet again, I don't have time to write about this week's American Idol show (I know -- I didn't write this past week either). I SO want to. But we're totally swamped. I'm hardly at the computer these days. It's so crazy.


If you missed Idol on Wednesday night, FIND IT ONLINE AND WATCH IT. It is not to be missed!

6 years ago, I went to the American Idol Season 5 concert on tour (Daughtry, Katherine McPhee, ELLIOTT YAMIN!!) and it was phenomenal. (For those who are new to my Idol reviews, Elliott is, IMHO, the best American Idol EVER).

Every year since then, I've thought to myself, "Meh. I wouldn't see this group in concert."

But this particular season has GOT to be the best one since Season 5. WOW. Not a bad performance in the bunch tonight.

The judges gave SIX standing ovations. All deserved. The performances were incredible as were the trios. No one deserves to go on Thursday night.

FIND IT ONLINE. Stevie Nicks as mentor, awesome songs, MJ tributes, Fleetwood Mac tributes, Led Zeppelin . . . YOU MUST WATCH THIS EPISODE.

Best group in 6 years. It's about freaking time.

That's all I've got for now. I hope to get back to blogging soon, but we're so so so ridiculously swamped, my head is spinning.

Oh, my favorite this year? Phillip Phillips, hands down. Love him.

K, gotta run again! WATCH IDOL. That is all . . .

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Random Thoughts - Annoyed Blogger Edition

Blogger changed some features and now you can only subscribe to comments if the person blogging chooses a certain kind of comment box. I hate it.


I'm not on Facebook, but I've seen their new Timeline layout and it looks cluttered and reminds me of MySpace. That's not a good thing.


We're going to Florida, but might not go to Disney. Crazy?


Because if someone hasn't switched over to the comment feature that allows subscription, I find that it's deterring me from commenting and I really, really hate that. Because I love blogging and I love commenting. Stupid changes.


The kids are getting their own rooms. We've been taking them shopping for new bedspreads and sheets and posters and lamps and things to reflect their own personalities. They have simple, sweet requests. Have I mentioned how great our kids are?


Also loving this spring weather.


"Hunger Games" premiere tonight! Which means a midnight daddy-daughter date for Mark and Thing 1. It also means a date for me and my son, only we're doing "The Goonies" and eating a bunch of snacks. :)


Because, really, who wants to comment but not subscribe? I can't endlessly check back on every post I read. Grrr. (I'm very annoyed by this).


I don't like feeling rushed at a restaurant. When they repeatedly ask if there's anything else we need and then bring us the check while we're eating, I find it REALLY annoying.


Eating out is one of our very favorite treats. This means it is also the first thing to get axed when cutting back on expenses. Also? Our kids are rapidly outgrowing the kids' menus and have been for some time now. Can't blame them. Would you want to eat the stuff on there? Most of the time, no. No, I would not.


We went out with a group of about 40 people to a local pizza buffet to celebrate Pi Day. We are so lucky to have so many nerdy friends!


We were talking about dream meetings the other day -- stars we'd just FLIP to meet. I realized how truly nerdy I am when it occurred to me that I would FLIP to be able to sit in the writers' room with all those writers who are brainstorming and writing episodes for my favorites shows like, say, Modern Family. I would LOVE that. Way more than meeting the stars. Nerd.


I mean, we've switched to the new commenting with subscription. But not everyone else has, you know?


I feed off of people's energy, but sometimes I really tire of people, too.


We watched Idol yesterday (and yes, I took notes), but I have not had a chance to write my recap yet. It's coming. We've had cable issues.


And car issues. The van was in the shop. AGAIN. Both cars have been yo-yo-ing being at the mechanic's quite a bit this past year. Something on the A/C and heat was messed up. Thankfully it was a $65 issue rather than much, much more.


"Thanks! That just saved me 75 bucks!" -- Someone seriously said that to Mark as they walked away after asking him a medical question at a social event. Don't even get me started.


It's terrible, because I'm totally behind on reading blogs in general and I'm not even inclined to read them just in case they haven't switched over. Defeatist much?


Gotta go. Baseball practice. More later!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Thing 1 and Thing 2

I have so many things I'd love to share. Hopefully soon. We've been super busy. A happy busy, but busy. For now, I thought I'd at least post a picture of our two awesome kids who are growing up so fast. They are GREAT kids and I love them so much. This picture is from Saturday afternoon. Our homeschool group had its first ever family dance and it was really nice. We took this picture before the dance, so the sun was setting and was kind of in their eyes. Just the same, you can see how beautiful they are. Happy spring, everyone!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Top 12, er, 11, and AI's Most Ridiculous Moment

And yes, that includes inviting William Hung back to sing on the finale, launching his brief solo career.

This will go down as one of the "eh" shows of the year for American Idol. There were some really good performances, a number of fair-to-middling, and a couple of real ear bleeders. I wasn't really surprised by much of what I saw, except for Nigel and Ken sitting down Jermaine Jones in what had to be the most heartless and low-class thing I've seen AI do ever. There was no reason to record and then broadcast this conversation. First of all, they aren't the law enforcement officials and shouldn't have been questioning him about specifics of these incidents where there are still outstanding warrants. Secondly, the news had broken already so rehashing it was pointless. I just thought it was stupid. And then to broadcast portions of his practice session that happened right before they booted him off? It reeked of ratings grubbing.

Besides the brief foray into Jerry Springer territory, there was a singing competition going on. The judges were all down on most of the contestants, as if whatever Steven's been smoking around the other two has finally worn off. Jimmy Iovine looked incredibly uncomfortable while plugging the new AT&T whatever it is that does something with airwaves and music and brushes your teeth or something. Will.I.Am is a riot. Love that guy. He is so entertaining to watch talk, rap off the cuff, sing, make faces, or whatever, and I'm glad they keep bringing him back.

I think the birth year weeks are very telling. One thing I've noticed is that, in general, the younger contestants seem to have a more difficult time picking a good song. I think that's mostly because music from your birth year tends to be outside of your usual favorites, but over time we get more and more exposure to other genres and artists. The teens haven't always had enough experience or time to get to know older music. Or, it could just be a coincidence.

Phillip Phillips ("Too Hard to Handle"): Not bad for a guy that had some sort of surgery for kidney stones. Not bad for any guy who comes out on the Idol stage. He did his usual great job and I thought he was one of the best of the night. His song choice was right on, by the way, unlike many others.

Jessica Sanchez ("Turn the Beat Around"): I think someone has done this on this show in the past. Oh yeah. EVERYONE! It's not even a great song to begin with. I thought Jessica did a good job with the song, especially given how boring it is. If there was an "America's Next Great Back-up Band" show this would be a great song to showcase all of the hopeful percussionists, though.

HeeJun Han ("Right Here Waiting For You"): Oh, HeeJun. What are you doing to us? This song was only "just a'ight" back in 1989, and time has not made it any better. The one upside is that Richard Marx was so out of tune that HeeJun's pitchy notes weren't that noticeable. I'm with the judges, though. There are so many songs that would have been a better match for him. Hopefully his personality keeps him going through so he can have another chance at it. Also, any chance Idol had of getting Fergie to mentor on the show is probably gone now.

Elise Testone ("Let's Stay Together"): This was a much better week for her. Last week she had the double whammy of having to sing a song that was outside of her comfort zone, and that was also by one of the "untouchable" artists on American Idol. I think Elise is a talented singer, and in general I like voices like hers, but I'm still not sure that I really like her. She definitely deserves to go on, though.

DeAndre Brackensick ("Endless Love"): He looked the most uncomfortable of all the contestants tonight, whether on stage or in rehearsal, probably because he had no clue what song to sing. "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" was not a great choice. "Endless Love" had more potential, but pulling off a duet song like this one is no easy task. His performance was good, but not great.

Shannon Magrane ("One Sweet Day"): Nice girl. Boring performance. The judges heard something slightly different than I did because their praise was a bit higher than mine would have been. Again, Shannon's was one of the solid performances, but nothing spectacular.

Colton Dixon ("Broken Heart"): I've actually heard this song, but admittedly don't know it well. Anyway, Colton is really good. I enjoyed his performance and while he doesn't seem to be a classic rocker, he has a style that is very much his own. I'm looking forward to next week when he will have enough time to implement Chris Daughtry's advice.

Erika Van Pelt ("Heaven"): On this one the judges were too harsh. They pulled out their "just sing the song" critique on this one, choosing to abandon their ubiquitous "make it your own" suggestion. This was a great song for her voice and she sang it well. She should make it through to next week.

Skylar Laine ("Love Sneakin' Up On You"): I have two opposing thoughts on this performance. She sang it very well, and it fit her style, but the song didn't really showcase a lot of versatility in her abilities. On a night like this one she definitely did enough to move on, and I'll give her props for basically telling two industry veterans that she doesn't care what they think, she's doing it her own way. Good thing she did it well.

Joshua Ledet ("When a Man Loves a Woman"): OK. Show's over. Hand him the title. This guy is awesome! He feels the music so completely that there is nothing he can do but perform well. It's like music is the only thing he was ever meant to do, besides eat crayfish. I don't even know what else to say. Love this guy.

Hollie Cavanaugh ("Power of Love"): Being married to a petite woman with a lot of energy I've learned to never underestimate the power that can come from small frames. This girl can sing. It was not perfect, and the last note was a little out of tune, but overall you've got to give her credit for taking on a diva and doing it well. I'd like to know a little more about her background since now we know she was born across the pond. Maybe they mentioned some of that in the audition shows, but watching 4,000 hours of human waste for one interesting tidbit still does not interest me in the least.

Top 3: Joshua, Hollie, Phillip
Bottom 3: HeeJun (it's the performance, not the person), Shannon, some other person who was just OK
Buying a Ticket for the Tour: Shannon

Boo, Idol. Boo.

We didn't watch until today. We have such a busy, filled week that it just was NOT happening yesterday. It's a good busy, but yeah, busy. I'm lucky I'm sitting down to write this at all.

Ryan kicked off the evening by vaguely alluding to a contestant's disqualification as if we hadn't all already read it on the news. Being cryptic about it in some kind of ploy to get us to keep watching is stupid, too. It's 2012. Anyone who hadn't yet read the news, Googled it right then. C'mon, Idol, you can do better than that, right? Apparently not. Because it only got worse.

But I'll get to that part later. Dun-dun-DUN. See? I can do that, because I'm being cryptic about my opinion, not a news fact that is easily researched. Eye roll.

Yesterday's show was all about controversy, baby pictures, and songs from the years of their births. They could've entitled the show "really boring songs from lots of years" and it would've been generally the same. There were about 2 exceptions -- Phillip's song and Joshua's song.

Phillip Phillips - "Too Hard to Handle"

The poor guy had kidney stones at rehearsal and then performed in front of millions of people on live television after having surgery. And though he could've easily used that as an excuse to do poorly, he didn't have to. He was funky and fun and basically awesome. And he was all that while post-op! I love this guy. He is definitely one of my favorites. He has a loveable Paul Rudd quality about him and I find him even more endearing after seeing his father get emotional talking about Phillip's health problems as a baby. I loved his line about how Phillip had to make it through because he is a kid that the world just has to meet. How sweet is that? Well, meeting him we are and color me duly impressed.

Jessica Sanchez - "Turn the Beat Around"

Those are some shiny pants! I don't like this song. She did great, but, oh, that is not a great song choice for anyone, including Gloria Estafan. Blech. She did great, though. The judges said they love her voice, but not on fast songs. I groaned audibly when they said that. Brace yourselves for many, many weeks of drippy ballads, followed by the criticism to "mix it up a little bit and do something new." Schizophrenic judges. Randy told her that their job as judges is to "stir you in the right direction" and I immediately got a mental image of her as a skinny, striped coffee stirrer in a cup of hot coffee being stirred in circles by a manically laughing Randy Jackson. Welcome to the inner workings of my mind.

Heejun Han - "Right Here Waiting"

Ugh, just when I thought a worse song couldn't be chosen, Heejun does this. That song ALWAYS bugged me when it was on the radio -- even Richard Marx couldn't sing it on key. Bah. I do love Heejun's parents, though, and his mom made me cry. At one point, I surprisingly got chills, but then the rest of the song went downhill. He was flat for most of it. Ugh. I think it's the curse of the song. It was just okay for me. But Heejun is a fun kid. Plus, he 70% loves his girlfriend (with 10% going to Fergie and 20% to Jennifer Lopez) and what girl doesn't want that?

Elise Testone - "Let's Stay Together"

I loved the Obama clip of him singing this song. I had already seen it back when it happened (though definitely not on Fox News). I thought the sing-off between her and the POTUS was pretty dang cool. I will say, though, that this song is on Idol every freaking year. And, for that reason, it should be banned. But yeah, she slayed it. In a good way.'s telling her to smile more was the best advice of the night. Steven's Aunt Sonya loves Elise's voice. And I hope Obama is the special guest star tomorrow night.

DeAndré Brackensick - "Endless Love"

Well, it was a better choice than "Can You Feel the Love Tonight," but apparently not good enough. rapped his advice - how cool is that? I'm glad we had that to entertain us, because poor Deandré was just under the notes during his performance. You know, just a couple of weekends ago, my girlfriend Cathy and I were belting this out to the radio together. And that worked. Know why? Because it's a duet. Years ago, Rickey Smith did it on Idol and did BOTH parts. It was incredible (I tried to find it online, but no luck). So, yeah, this was really flat to me. There were too many runs and it just felt wrong without at least some of the duet parts being sung. Meh.

Shannon Magrane - "One Sweet Day"

In this week of boring songs, I got up and did something else during part of this song. I didn't mean to not pay attention. It just happened so naturally. That's when I realized I was bored. The modulations on these abbreviated songs are so odd. There's no escalating build up because they've only been singing for 30 seconds. The other down side to this song is that it gave Randy Jackson the chance to name drop and plug his relationship with Mariah Carey. Again. Is he Moroccan's and Monroe's godfather or something? And, more importantly, why is he suddenly wearing brooches?

Colton Dixon - "Broken Heart"

Colton got to have dinner with Daughtry and he was pretty pumped about it. Colton is really good. I like his hair down and in a cool wool beanie more than that skunk updo he always has when he performs. Steven Tyler is clearly the killjoy of the night. I personally don't think it matters that the song wasn't well known. He did great. He could be even edgier, really -- more growl, more rasp -- when he does these hard rock songs. I agree with Mark's take that Colton has more of an indie rock sound than a hard rock edge. He is a rocker with such a clear tone -- that's why he does so well on Coldplay songs. More of that, please. But this was good.

Erika Van Pelt - "Heaven"

Oooh, I like crossover songs! I love that she sang a song that was originally sung by a man. That horrid, psychedelic subway background was dizzying. It made it difficult to focus. Is she singing a song? Is she late for her train? I don't know! The break in the song was a great idea in theory, but the execution fell short. I think she needs to tone down the other embellishments, but it was well done overall.

Jermaine Jones . . . oh wait.

This was the part of the show where Idol decided to go all reality show on us. I'm surprised they didn't start that segment with a rendition of "Bad Boys" from Cops. The fact that they taped their confrontation with Jermaine was in such poor taste. They've never done anything like that before. Are they that hard up for better ratings? Really, Idol, that was totally unnecessary and so low class. Boo, Idol. Boo.

(And I'm with the rest of America -- I like Idol, but given a choice between Idol and The Big Bang Theory, the physics geeks TOTALLY have my vote).

Skylar Laine - "Love Sneaking Up On You"

She has a great stage name and sounds just like Bonnie Raitt. She already seems like a seasoned professional. She did a great job. None of this was surprising.

Joshua Ledet - "When A Man Loves A Woman"

I LOVE this guy! Did you see the standing ovation? Did you see the smiling, awed faces? Did you SEE his passion on stage? THAT was a spiritual experience. Day-um! I love to see that kind of passion! He took them all to church. WOW! I bet J.Lo got "goosies," but, lucky for us, was rendered too speechless to say as much. Dude, Joshua was channeling James Brown, Fantasia, and I Don't Know What!! THAT was fun to watch. THAT was passion. WOW. Just WOW. We watched it 3 times. It was that good. If you missed Idol, look it up. His performance should not be missed. Love him! Best of the night, hands down.

Hollie Cavanagh - "Power of Love"

Oh! She has an accent, not a speech impediment! I honestly did not know that until they interviewed her sweet parents. It was a decent arrangement for a shortened song, but I'm befuddled as to why Joshua didn't close the show. That being said, she was good.

High points of the evening - Joshua and
Low point of the evening - Idol's interrogation of a wanted man. Boo.

Tomorrow night (well, tonight), Daughtry and Demi Lovato will be performing. I'm happy to see Daughtry, but Demi Lovato? I'd rather have Obama.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Uncle Ben's Contest--One Last Plea

There are two more days for voting so I'm hoping everyone will keep voting. Thanks so much!

Here are the links (they're the same as the last time we posted):

Thing 1
Thing 2

Go Thing 1 and Thing 2!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Top 13 or "wherein I rate using eggs"

And we're back.

We now no longer watch the auditions, because they're tedious. We start in Hollywood Weeks and are constantly amazed how much worthless filler they can find and use (a lot). Thank the gods for Tivo.

Tonight was Idol's 400th episode. That would be amazing if it weren't for the aforementioned tedious weeks of worthless filler.

SIX girls and SEVEN guys performed tonight under the advice of Jimmy Iovine and Mary J. Blige. The guys got to sing Stevie Wonder songs while the girls had to sing Whitney Houston songs.

Anyone else find the irony in American Idol making contestants sing a singer they constantly say not to touch? Yeah, me, too. Compound it by the iconic stature she has attained by having died young and recently? Now, that's just cruel.

Tomorrow the boy with the lowest votes and the girl with the lowest votes will be revealed and the judges will decide which one goes. I thought two people were getting booted (and maybe they still might), but I'm not clear how they're doing that exactly.

Why I'm rating with eggs, I don't know. It just popped in my head. I like eggs. A lot. I think it is a wondrous food. I've often (I kid you not) considered writing an entire blog post all about eggs. They are amazing. Chickens lay them, they're in a very fragile external casing, and inside lie so many possibilities -- omlettes, scrambled eggs, hard boiled eggs, dippy eggs, ingredients for dutch babies, cookies, flan . . . endless possibilities! What other food source can tout that??

So, rating using eggs goes like this: 1 egg is lousy and 5 eggs is a masterpiece. I'll have additional comments as I see fit.

1. Joshua Ledet - "I Wish" --- 5 eggs (on an English muffin with Canadian bacon and Hollandaise Sauce)

That's right. Eggs Benedict. And yes, he was that good. Know what I like about him? That he's "Mantasia." He is SO reminiscent of Fantasia and I happen to like her stage presence VERY much. I love to see someone with passion, someone who FEELS their music from the top of their head to the tips of their toes, someone who can't contain what they feel so they jump around and riff and put their whole souls into every song. What a great way to start the evening. He really popped! I was pretty distracted during the judges comments. Flat Stanley was in the audience behind the judges, Steven Tyler had a highly decorated microphone, and Randy was wearing a Lego brooch of either Stevie Wonder or that Earth, Wind, and Fire guy. What?

2. Elise Testone - "You're My Baby Tonight" --- 2 eggs (just flat and stagnant in a bowl)

Yikes. What a wreck. Her performance was uncomfortable to watch. She was awkward on stage and it looked more like she was doing calisthenics than performing a musical number. She was going to do "Greatest Love of All" and Jimmy and Mary had her switch it to this number. Didn't much matter, I'm guessing, since it was just okay no matter what she did. It was good, but I'm not jumping out of my seat. And if you think she was uncomfortable while singing, check out how she looked when the judges gave her negative feedback.

3. Jermaine Jones - "Knocks Me Off My Feet" --- 3.5 eggs (we have a recipe that calls for 1/3 of an egg and we're never quite sure what to do with that -- what does that look like, how does one measure 1/3 of an egg? That's how I feel about Jermaine. Is he 3 eggs? Is he 4 eggs? I don't know. 3.5!)

So, I am trying to be fair in my judgment, but I must admit that I'm struggling with this one because of my own personal taste. Jermaine is really good, but I don't think I'd ever buy an album full of this kind of singing. We all love Barry White . . . but only for one song once in a while. No one, and I mean no one, listens to a full playlist of Barry White, you know?

4. Erika Van Pelt - "I Believe in You and Me" --- 5 eggs (in a luxurious omlette)

She looks and acts a lot like Kelly Clarkson to me. Almost distractingly so. I don't know why she had a string of ammo holding up her red evening gown, but it doesn't much matter. Once she started singing, I didn't notice. What a range! I got goosebumps and she made it look so easy. Speaking of goosebumps, is anyone else annoyed by J.Lo's constant use of the word "goosies?" I'm guessing she goes potty, too, rather than to the bathroom. I digress. Go Erika!

5. Colton Dixon - "Lately"--- 4 eggs (perfectly scrambled, not overdone and not underdone)

What an odd choice of song for the rocker dude, but I'll tell you what. He has a REALLY good voice. He hit some great notes and gave me goosebumps (take note, J.Lo). This genre is not his comfort zone, so the fact that he could do so well in it earns extra points in my book. A true talent. I'm not a fan of his skunk hairdo. He is a cute boy. He doesn't need all that on his head - it takes away from his beautiful eyes. But even all that can't detract too much from his talent. Wow.

6. Shannon Magrane - "I Have Nothing" --- 1 egg (with bits of shell in it)

Wow, poor Shannon wins the "worst of the night" award for that incredibly awkward, uncomfortable, and tentative performance. She was off-key most of the time and her microphone antics were distracting. She looked and sounded soooooo uncomfortable. I'm not sure if it was nerves or song choice or both, but none of it did her any favors.

7. Deandre Brackensick - "Master Blaster" --- 3-4 eggs (mixed in something yummy like hibachi rice)

He was totally into it and he gave us a great performance that had us tapping our feet or dancing in the aisles. He has a really great stage presence and this was a great, upbeat, mid-way(ish) song for all of us to watch. He is a good performer and I'm so glad his hair was up, because his constant touching/playing with it/whipping it around is very distracting. I liked the reggae feel to this arrangement. Nicely done.

8. Skylar "Reba" Laine - "Where Do Broken Hearts Go?" --- 3-4 eggs (sitting in a bowl, not sure where or how to be used)

Pay attention, J.Lo. Mary J. Blige said "goosebumps." And she's no grammar queen. Skylar, like Colton, was out of her element. I guess it was too on the nose to sing Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You?" She has a good voice. I just felt a bit yanked around as it joltingly alternated between sweet and powerful. It was a weird contrast and I didn't quite know what to make of it. She's good, don't get me wrong, but it seemed like they needed to countrify it (tell me you didn't hear an SNL George W. Bush impersonator's voice in your head just now). Steven Tyler said some form of the word "beautiful" for the 179th time tonight. And that's a beautiful thing.

9. Heejun Han - "All is Fair in Love" --- 3-4 eggs (whipped into a fluffy meringue)

Why whipped into a meringue? Because that's what comes to mind when I see the image of his face in a yellow sunset of swirling clouds over and over and over again. He was off in spots, but he really does have a gorgeous tone to his voice. He's a funny guy and that gives him an edge over others like him who are good, but who are also probably not going to win this competition based on their singing abilities.

10. Hollie Cavanagh - "All the Man that I Need" --- 4 eggs (to make adorable, delicious, petite, bite-sized cookies with big taste)

That is a BIG voice for that little body and, my, it's a really good one. And a great big "thank you" to Mark for answering my unvoiced question, "Who does she remind me of?" with the answer "Jodie Foster." (Now if someone could please tell me who Jenn Hirsch reminds me of, I'd be much appreciative).

11. Jeremy Rosado - "Ribbon in the Sky" --- 2 eggs (not well blended)

Sweet kid, but c'mon, he's here more because he's likeable than because he can sing. He's got a decent voice, but he was off and boring. His big heart is going to be broken tomorrow when he joins Shannon in the bottom 2.

12. Jessica Sanchez - "I Will Always Love You" --- 5 eggs (used in gorgeous, buttery Dutch Babies, the likes of which are worthy of the cover of a magazine)

PHENOMENAL tribute. Just wow. I don't know what else to add. She's incredible. I got goosebumps. Most people butcher that song. She honored it. Beautiful!

13. Phillip Phillips - "Superstition" --- 5 eggs (baked into one hell of a tasty quiche)

I love this guy and his Dave-Matthews-sound-meets-Paul-Rudd-look. But really, what can I add to what's already been said?

Jimmy Iovine said, "He comes batteries included."
Steven Tyler said, "You are."
J. Lo said, "You killed it."
Randy said, "You drive your own car in your own lane."

It was like attending a fantastic concert performance. Dude is talented. Bonus points go to his parents for having chutzpah when naming him as a baby.

Top Egg performances of the night - Joshua, Erika, Jessica, and Phillip
Rotten Egg performances of the night - Shannon and Elise

Cracking open and going home -- Shannon (and Jeremy, if there are 2 ousters tomorrow night)

Lucky 13, Except for 1

So American Idol is back and I'd like to say, "better than ever," but I'll stop just short of that. Every season it seems like the producers are struggling to make it new and improved, but I would be fine with "as good as last year." The stage is smaller this year--must be a down year for Coke and AT&T--but the crowd is just as crazy. I'm not a big fan of their plan for the first elimination--please just let America decide who is staying and keep the judges out of it since their picks inevitably flame out before the finale. Randy's sense of style is still as difficult to define as it has ever been, as evidenced by the macrame lapel pin he was wearing. Maybe he'll tell us who it was supposed to be. (A white Stevie Wonder with a fu manchu? Doubtful.)

And let me share one last complaint. In a world where AI judges insist that Stevie and Whitney are untouchable (and they've said this since Season 1), why would you insist that 13 finalists choose songs by Stevie and Whitney? Last week they only mentioned Stevie Wonder, so I suspect the producers had a last-minute idea to try and boost ratings by paying tribute to Whitney Houston, but I would have preferred a medley during tomorrow's elimination show. But even with setting up the contestants to fail we had our fair share of good performances tonight.

Now, some random positive thoughts. Steven Tyler is still the same, don't-wake-me-from-my-trip repository of semi-coherent ramblings. "This moment is so beautiful I want to roll it up in my notepad here, smoke it, and then bask in the beauty of its beautifulness." He's been good for Idol. It also seems that Randy has been trying to express original thoughts a bit more lately. I'm not saying there weren't a fair number of "like the guys are saying" moments, but he actually made some honest assessments that brought down the rain of boos this week. I can respect that. And J.Lo is always the kindhearted, positive voice that balances out the panel. I mean, Steven is usually positive, but J.Lo makes more sense most of the time. Contestants deserve to understand what the feedback is.

On to the review . . .

Joshua Ledet ("I Wish"): Mantasia brought down the house tonight. The first slot on these mega-shows is usually a forgettable position, but he didn't seem to mind at all. Immediately I was struck with how natural he seemed on stage. Joshua did a great job and showed off why everyone is comparing him to Idol's Season 3 winner.

Elise Testone ("I'm Your Baby Tonight"): Her private session with Mary J. and Jimmy was terrible. It was an utter train wreck. As soon as they made her change songs (which was actually a good move for her) I knew Elise was toast. Watching her I felt like she was either completely uncomfortable or totally pissed off, and neither emotion was going to help. Even as she received her critique she seemed the same way. At this point in the program I was thinking that I didn't even need to hear the other 11 contestants to know she was gone.

Jermaine Jones ("Knock Me Off My Feet"): Mamma's little Isaac Hayes/Barry White/Luther Vandross amalgam did pretty well tonight. He has never been the most exciting performer but he is solid. And, he's one of the nicest guys you'll meet on television, and by meet, I mean learn to love through carefully selected behind-the-scenes clips and canned interviews. I really do get the feeling that what we're seeing is the real Jermaine, though. He's a talented, deserving singer.

Erika Van Pelt ("I Believe In You And Me"): This was one of the better performances tonight. Erika's voice is fantastic and is definitely one of the more unique ones in the competition. Thinking back over the night her performance gets lost behind a few others, but she was good enough to easily make it to the next round. For once a judge's wild card selection is deserving of praise (*cough* not Naima *cough, cough*).

Colton Dixon ("Lately"): For Colton, Randy's "cool, indie, rock, kinda sorta dude," just singing a Stevie song from beginning to end would be an accomplishment, but he showed off how good a performer he really is. I would have liked to have seen him behind the piano, but he probably made a good decision to hold off this week. There will be better weeks for him to do that. I wasn't floored by Colton's performance, but I was solidly impressed.

Shannon Magrane ("I Have Nothing"): First, the good. She totally owned all the flaws in this performance and refused to take the "there was something wrong with the band" bait. Impressive, especially considering that she is still young. Unfortunately there wasn't much else to applaud. She had a very rough go at it and there were a few times that I felt like she just stopped singing. Watching her you had the feeling that at least 2 or 3 times out of 10 she could normally nail this song, but her father can remind you that only in baseball is 3 out of 10 hall of fame material.

DeAndre Brackensick ("Master Blaster"): I loved the reggae vibe of his performance, excessive gyrations notwithstanding. He was totally into it, though, and that helps make everything seem more natural. He's got some serious talent and should be around for a while. I just hope he doesn't get caught up in a huge lip syncing scandal like his lookalikes had 20 years ago.

Skylar Laine ("Where Do Broken Hearts Go"): Skylar is a bit too country for my liking, but I can admit talent when I see it. This is actually one of my favorite Whitney Houston songs and I thought she did a great job with it. If I were arranging it I would have "countrified" it a lot more, bringing in a steel guitar and some fiddling or a mandolin or something, but hey, a country girl taking on an R&B/Pop diva? Let's give credit where credit is due.

Heejun Han ("All In Love Is Fair"): Critique of his comedy routine first. Great work with the pictures during the private session with Jimmy and Mary J. Loved it. His delivery of all his material had that great, deadpan voice. Loved that, too. Now, the music. Heejun has a great voice and picked a great song for it. Overall it was a solid, somewhat safe performance for me. I think it was a middle-of-the-pack showing at best, so he'll need to get a bit more creative as the weeks go on, but between his smooth voice and likable persona he'll be safe.

Hollie Cavanagh ("All The Man That I Need"): Jodi Foster takes on Whitney. This girl's voice is amazing. 'Nuff said. I was duly impressed with her effort tonight and could see her in the top 3 or 4 of the competition. It's crazy that such a power voice comes out of that small little body.

Jeremy Rosado ("Ribbon In The Sky"): Each week it is so obvious that Jeremy is one of the nicest guys in the competition, but you could tell he was nervous tonight. It's got to be tough to feel like America didn't want you in the first place, so now you have to work twice as hard. He seemed off the entire time, and that's not a "beautiful thing."

Jessica Sanchez ("I Will Always Love You"): OK. So Jessica can take on Whitney anytime she wants. Unreal. This girl is amazing. It's a long competition, and "Songs from the Antebellum South Week" could trip her up, but I'm guessing she'll be around near the end. If this hadn't been a gimmicky "girls versus guys" week Jessica would have closed the show. No one else was even close tonight.

Phillip Phillips ("Superstition"): This was a great selection for Phillip and I love watching him perform. Last week Randy pointed out that he gives off a Dave Matthews kind of vibe, but I've been saying that since Hollywood. Between his look, his vocal tone, and his only marginally coordinated footwork, he could be Dave's long lost brother. I liked the way he interpreted the song and put his own spin on it. I totally want him to stick around. I also totally want to know if his parents really named him that, or if he is using a stage name.

Top 2 of the night: Jessica Sanchez and Phillip Phillips.
Bottom 2: Jeremy Rosado and Shannon Magrane
Going home: J.Lo's love for her wild card pick will send Shannon packing.

Uncle Ben's Contest Voting Is Back On!

The site is fixed and we can all start voting again! Thanks in advance for helping out the kids!

Here are the links (they're the same as the last time we posted):

Thing 1
Thing 2

Go Thing 1 and Thing 2!

Uncle Ben's Contest

Thank you for everyone who has been voting for the kids' videos. You can keep voting until March 11, but unfortunately the Uncle Ben's site has been down for 2 days now. I'll keep an eye on it and let you know when it's back up.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Hey Stacy, it's your birthday . . .

Thanks, everyone, for the thoughtful
birthday wishes,
and general shows of love.

I love birthdays
and I love when people remember
and help make it special.

The loot!

Yesterday was a GREAT day and a whole lot of fun.

Thank you to my husband and kids
for decorating the dining room table
and making some great cards, gifts, and food.

Thank you, especially, to my girlfriends of over 25 years
for coming for the weekend and spending it with me.

Cathy, Stacy, Kellie

Thank you for making me laugh and cry and laugh some more.
We are so lucky to have one another.

Mark made us a delicious Mexican dinner

Great, great day.
I feel so loved and appreciated.
Thank you for loving me and celebrating me.

My birthday flan!

I'm so SO grateful.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Please vote again (and daily)!

Thanks for the votes so far.

You can vote daily until March 11th -- please vote for our kids! We'd love to win!

Here are the links:

Thing 1
Thing 2

And please share with your friends, post on Facebook, etc. -- we really appreciate it!!