Friday, February 27, 2009
We are "treated" to a group performance of Neo's "Closer" and it's as horrific as you would expect the group performance to be. Ryan spends another 5 minutes recapping last night's performances. You want the scoop? Read it here.
Allison is first up for the results and paired with Jesse and Matt. Randy predicts Allison will be moving on. He is correct.
Megan Corkery and Kris Allen are pulled on stage next. They are joined by Matt Girard and Jeanine. I predict Megan will move on but Kris is a cutie and he could pull out the tween vote. Paula thinks any of them could make it except for Jeanine. She is right and Jeanine is the first sent home followed by Matt. Kara talks for far too long about basically nothing. Simon razzes her and I'm in complete agreement. Kris Allen makes it to the Top 12. I'm a bit surprised but you really can't underestimate the tween vote.
So who is the final stool? Got to be Adam Lambert which means the guys could far outweigh the girls in the Top 12. That gives us 2 girls and 4 guys so far.
Brooke White comes on stage to perform. Last season I really liked her until she started talking back too much to the judges. Here's hoping she doesn't screw up and have to start over again. Simon would hate that. Seeing her perform makes me realize how crappy the contestants are so far. Of course, a lot of the contestants' progress is about building confidence in performing and we have many more weeks to get there.
Mishovanna, Kai, Nick, Jasmine and Adam are called out together on the stage. Ryan reads through their song selections and judges critique. Mishovanna, Kai and Jasmine are all out. That leaves us with Nick/Norman and Adam. How pissed would Adam be if Nick/Norman beats him? He might have a nervous break down. I'd be OK with that.
Unfortunately my wish isn't granted and Adam is through to the Top 12. Enjoy the next 6 days until the fiasco that is sure to be Group C. So Adam, Allison and Kris join Alexis Grace, Danny Gokey and Michael Sarver in the Top 12. I think that Anoop and Megan Corkery will be in the Wild Card race, but we have 2 weeks to find out. How are folks feeling about our Top 12 so far? Any surprises?
Thursday, February 26, 2009
I also dislike that we don't get to know the contestants gradually. Instead of seeing them over a period of weeks we get one week on, 3 weeks off until the Top 12. Groups A and B will be at a disadvantage because America, she is fickle, and will quickly forget them.
The counter argument is that good singers have a better chance of making the Top 12 this time around. No more Sanjaya fiascoes, supposedly. I'm not so sure that can't happen. Perhaps I should just be happy they aren't putting us through Idol Gives Back this year?
What are the rest of you thinking now that we are 2 weeks into the new format? Do I need to just suck it up because this format is around to stay or will AI producers come to their senses and retrench next season?
Ryan is looking thinner than usual in his black polo shirt. He introduces Randy in a cardigan I’m sure I’ve seen before, followed by Kara, Paula and Simon in a tight t-shirt. Is Simon showing Ryan how it’s done? He is looking pretty fly in that tight shirt...The judges give their usual inane advice to kick off the show. Ryan reminds us of the absurdly complicated way of building the Top 12 and introduces this week’s contestants.
Jasmine Murray is 17 and I don’t really remember her from the auditions. Per usual we see clips from Hollywood Week. She sings “Love Song” by Sara Bareilles and I really like the choice; very contemporary. Jasmine sounds very shaky and too low for the song as she starts it. She does get a bit better with the chorus but I’m not impressed. Randy calls it pitchy and Kara tells Jasmine she is commercial but it wasn't her best performance. Paula agrees with Kara (she's doing that a lot this season) and Simon was disappointed because Jasmine has everything but the voice. Simon thinks the song choice wasn’t very good and she could be better in the future. Jasmine takes the criticism well and claims she had a great time. She will not be coming back...
Up next is the dueling piano player, Matt Giraud (24). He's pretty boring looking so he'll have to really bring it tonight to get votes. We see a clip of his great "Georgia" performance from the solo Hollywood auditions. Unfortunately he decides to pick "Viva La Vida" by Cold Play for his first live performance. He not so wisely also chooses to go with a vibrato in his voice and it results in a bad comparison to Chris Martin. Matt is all over the place pitch-wise and kind of sucks. I hope he also had fun because he's going home. The producers have decided to rotate the opening criticism amongst the judges so Kara starts things said she wasn’t blown away. Paula said he picked a risky song and it didn’t pay off. Simon said it was verging on a horrible performance. Randy agreed with Simon but said he was still pulling for Matt.
Jeanine Vailes, 28, a bartender is up and has the unfortunate occurrence of not being featured at all during auditions. She must have a really terrible personality. Jeanine goes with the standby, "This Love" by Maroon 5. I’ve seen better in a karaoke bar. We are now 3 contestants in and I am extremely disappointed. Paula compliments her legs which all the judges agree with. Too bad it's not Next Top Legs. Simon said it was terrible and a bad song selection. Randy said that the end was the best because it meant it was over. Kara said the song was overdone. Also done? Jeanine.
Nick/Norman is up next and I’m looking forward to alleviating my boredom from the last 40 minutes of drivel. No matter what you think about him, he is entertaining. He picks the Jennifer Hudson song “And I Am Telling You” from Dream Girls. Because he fears rejection he comes out as Norman, not Nick. There is a flash on his parents and his dad looked very unhappy. He makes up for it by appearing to be really proud of his son at the end of the song but I call BS on that. How proud must a dad be to see his gay son hamming it up via an alter ego on the biggest stage in America? Norman totally plays to the crowd and they are eating it up. Crawling through the crown Norman spots Neil Patrick Harris and incorporates Doogie into the lyrics. In fact he changes a bunch of the lyrics to reflect his current AI experience. Anyone know why NPH is so invested in AI this season? Second week in a row that he's been there.
Norman can actually sing which makes this performance kind of sad for me. I'd love to see him as Nick but we haven't had that opportunity. Simon can’t do anything other than laugh and he hopes Norman won’t make it through to the next round. Randy called it entertaining albeit a little lacking in pitch. Kara said it was memorable and Paula called him a true performer. Will he make it? At this point, I kind of want him to just because everyone else has sucked out my will to live.
Ryan is a tiny little thing, isn’t he?
Allison Iraheta is 17 and she is another contestant we haven't seen through the auditions or Hollywood Week. Unlike Jeanine she doesn't whine about it. Probably because she's actually good. Allison has really vivid pink hair and seems stoned when talking with Ryan before her performance. I will put it down to nerves. Let's hope we don't have another Jason Castro on our hands. She chooses "Alone" by Heart and based on her raspy voice it could be a great song choice. She isn’t as good as Amanda Overmeyer when she sang the song but she’s still pretty good. It’s back to Randy to start things off and he thinks she “blew it out the box.” Is Randy the biggest poseur of a black man or is it just me? Kara calls her serious and great. Her performance must be better in person or just fatigue from bad performances but I didn’t think it was that good. Paula said she could sing the telephone book and was the best so far. Not with the telephone book again! That got really old with David Archuleta last season. Simon agreed that she was the best so far by a clear mile (not really saying much though), he did call her on being boring in her interview with Ryan. Based on the performance so far, she's in as the top girl.
Kris Allen appears next and he is very cute. We haven't seen much of him either and it's probably going to stay that way when he picks "Man in the Mirror" by Michael Jackson.
I immediately wince. Aren't these contestants coached on song selections? Most of them have been horrific so far. To top it off, Kris has terrible stage presence – all he does is bounce up and down and looks like he is having an epileptic fit. DH is disgusted and so am I. There are millions of songs to chose from and he picks this one? Buh bye Kris, we hardly knew ya and never will…
Kara said the second part of the song was better. Paula thinks he really showed his personality and nailed the song. I question whether she has vodka in her cup. For some reason Simon agrees with Paula. Randy said he proved he could do it without a guitar.
Maybe the sound is much better in person than through my surround sound? I’m confused.
We are joined by another single mother, Megan Joy Corkery. I kind of remember her from Salt Lake City but we haven’t seen her since then. She has a 2 year old son, Ryder. What is up with the single mother trend this season? Unlike most of the other contestants she picks a good song, "Put Your Record On" by Corinne Bailey Rae. She’s very cute but I hate her arm tattoo. She cannot dance and it’s a bit distracting. Megan's singing is good but the first half was much stronger. We get a flash to her mom who is a hotty too. Paula thinks she picked the right song and did everything right. Simon called her a funny little thing and thinks she oversang the second half. Yes! That's what I was trying to put my finger on. Randy is a “big fan” and wants to see her in later rounds. Kara thinks she could be a breakout hit artist. She is giving Allison a run for the money to be picked as the top girl vote getter.
Matt Breitzke is next (aka "The Welder"). He picks a very odd song choice, Tonic's, “If You Could Only See." As I watch him on stage he so doesn’t look like an American Idol but DH reminded me that Rueben and Soul Patrol didn’t either. I’m betting AI would like to take those titles back too. DH thinks it was a good song selection for his voice but I don't agree. There is no demonstration of range. Simon really likes him but hated the song; it was boring and an uncomfortable performance. Randy said the song was kind of boring. Kara said it didn’t show any personality. Paula said he had a good voice but was a poor song choice.
Jesse Langseth who we remember from her sing off against Frankie mentions she is also a single mother. I love red hair and am immediately jealous of hers. She picks "Betty Davis Eyes"which is an awesome song and hard to top. She’s not bad but there is something weird about the way she is singing the song. A little too affected, perhaps? Randy thought it was an OK performance.
Jesse asks for more specific feedback and I hate that shit. Shut up and look pretty. Kara complimented her look and thinks she took some risks that could pay off. Jesse talks again and I’m sick of her. She needs to go. Talking to the judges after every piece of feedback is why I fell out of love with Brooke White last season. Paula calls her captivating but Simon calls her forgettable.
Kai Kalama who takes care of his sick mother decides on "What Becomes of The Broken Hearted." He sings effortlessly compared to the other male performances. Kai has a good voice, decent stage presence, and stupid hair. Kara said the song was old fashioned but he did OK. Paula thinks he sounded really good on the song and gave a good performance. Simon said it was old fashioned, corny and like a wedding singer and Randy called it too safe. I'm not seeing Kai make it past this round.
Mishavonna Henson didn't make it past Hollywood Week last season"but has worked really, really hard" to be in this season's Top 36. She makes another unfortunate song selection with "Drops of Jupiter" by Train. Don't get me wrong, I like the song when it won Song of The Year at the Grammys 7 years ago. Contemporary? Not so much. She also changes the lyrics to be gender appropriate. DH hates that. She has a pretty good voice but something is lacking in the overall package. Paula didn’t think it was an exciting song choice but she can sing. Simon said she was too serious but is technically good, something about the performance left him cold. Randy agrees that she seems so much older than 18 and doesn’t like a solo singer performing a band song. Kara wants her to loosen up. Mishavonna discovers that second time around is not the charm...
The money spot is given to Adam Lambert. I can’t stand this kid and I actively hated him through his auditions. You remember Adam. He's the musical theatre freak who hasn’t been able to make it on his own so he’s turning to AI for a record deal. He settles on "Satisfaction" by the Rolling Stones. DH calls it the best performance of the night but I am distracted by his weird facial expressions and think it's really cabaret. I know he's going to make it through - I bet every person in the money spot will. That's why Lil Rounds will probably have it next week. I just hope he doesn't make it too far in the Top 12. And his fashion sense and black, black hair give him an odd goth appearance. Paula gives him a standing ovation and was extremely impressed. I’m paraphrasing here because it took her 5 minutes to say the same thing. Simon thought there were equal parts brilliance and terribleness. Randy loved it and called Adam really contemporary. Kara called his vocal technical outrageous.
So who is through? Adam Lambert and Allison are the Top 2 vote getters. Third? Could be Nick/Norman for entertainment or Matt Breitzke for likeability or Jesse for a decent performance.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
As a part of my obsession I have been doing a lot of web board reading on WebMD (third trimester) and BabyCenter.com (March birth club). At it appears as though every other woman out there is having a scheduled induction or c-section. WTH? One woman writes, "I have an EDD (estimated due date) of 3/14 but am being induced on 3/12." Why? There is no medical reason for the induction aside from scheduling. Not to mention the number who are whining that their doctor won't let them schedule an induction. Women have been giving birth for hundreds of thousands of years (would millions be accurate? probably). Let it come naturally! The best are the women who say, "I am at one centimeter dilated and have been for a week so I am scheduling my induction." or "I have been having small contractions every two hours for the past week." That probably means you needed a week to prepare yourself for labor. Just because you aren't progressing and you have one day to your due date doesn't mean somethings wrong. Gah! Am I wrong to be disgusted with some of these women?**
I have heard that inductions end up with more complications like the need for vacuums or c-sections. So even though it would be nice to not be pregnant I'm not going to rush it on my end. However, if I'm a week past my due date (which was already pushed out from 3/21 to 3/28) I will take the freaking induction. But that's more of a fear for a huge baby than anything else.
So, what do others think about the number of inductions and c-sections? Any corroboration for increasing percentages? Does anyone else roll their eyes at the whining?
**I reserve all right to completely change my mind when I am at 40 weeks pregnant and suffering from contractions. That is my right as a pregnant woman. Deal with it.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
What are your middle names?
Mine is Williams and his is Kane. Both family names and we really like that tradition. I did hate my middle name as a kid though and wanted something simple like everyone else. Fortunately friends like Helen had their own family middle names and made me feel better. We will most likely be giving our daughter a family middle name to keep the tradition going.
How long have you been together?
Since August 2002 so we are approaching 7 years!
How long did you know each other before you started dating?
6 months or so. We worked together at SmallResearch and met at an offsite training event while on a smoke break. DH asked me if I was on IM and I lied and said yes. I quickly downloaded it when I got back to the office :-)
Who asked whom out?
DH asked me out. Interestingly he told me later that if he likes a girl he will ask her out 3 times and if she says no all 3 times then he won't ask again. I actually had alternative plans the first time he asked me so thank goodness I said yes the second time!
How old are each of you?
I am 31 and DH is 37. He needed a little more seasoning before marriage :-)
Whose siblings do you see the most?
We don't get to see our siblings very often because we live so far away. Probably mine because of family vacations. I definitely talk to mine on the phone a lot more!
Which situation is the hardest on you as a couple?
Putting up crown molding in the half bath. Logic has nothing to do with how you need to cut crown molding to make it fit. I would like DH to put some in the master bedroom but I'm afraid it could cost us our marriage...Aside from that we have been very fortunately with our lives for the past 7 years.
Did you go to the same school?
Nope. DH went to a small liberal arts school in Vermont and I ended up at a arts & science university in Pittsburgh.
Are you from the same home town?
No, but we are both from Massachusetts.
Who is smarter?
DH is very common sense smart. He's a very handy person to have around! I am probably more book smart.
Who is the most sensitive?
I will cry at movies but DH is much more sensitive in "real life" situations
Where do you eat out most as a couple?
Eat out? That's a good one!
Where is the furthest you two have traveled together as a couple?
Hawaii for our honeymoon. But DH has traveled around the world: Japan, Thailand, Africa, etc.
Who has the craziest exes?
DH has many more exes than I do so odds are on his side...
Who has the worst temper?
DH gets mad at things out of our control like waiting in line or incompetent customer service people. But we are both very non-confrontational so I can count on one hand the number of times we've actually yelled about something.
Who does the cooking?
We are pretty much 50/50 on cooking. I have a few dishes I make and he had a few of his own.
Who is the neat-freak?
We are both very neat in making sure the house is picked up. I'm not sure how long that will last once the baby arrives but for now, everything has it's own spot. And I like it like that.
Who is more stubborn?
My family would say me but I say DH. It's why we still haven't gotten a cleaning service...hint, hint!
Who hogs the bed?
Me but only because I'm preggers. The dog sleeps between us and he is the real bed hog.
Where was your first date?
Phoenix Landing, August 2, 2002.
Who is more jealous?
Neither one of us is a jealous person.
Who does the laundry?
I probably do it more frequently but DH is very good about doing it if I ask him too. It's great because he works at home so he can throw a load in at any point. He's usually pretty good about folding it right away too.
Who’s better with the computer?
We are both competent but DH handles the external hard drive so I'd have to give it to him. Really we just ask my dad if we have a problem.
Who drives when you are together?
DH. He even drove the entire way up to Massachusetts and almost the whole way back! Of course we were in the new car (Honda Pilot) and I've only been allowed to drive it three times since we bought it in August. So he can only blame himself.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
We also made a big trip to Babies 'R Us for all the remaining items from our registry. Plus a few more "must haves" that caught my eye while we were shopping :-) DH was a trooper but it only took about 2 hours door to door so it wasn't that much of a strain. Then when we got home he had fun putting together all the baby gear. My house now has a lot more "stuff" than we did a few weeks ago!
I did 4 loads of laundry for this baby that still has 5 weeks to percolate. I was motivated and wanted to finish off the nursery with all the cute clothes we received from the baby shower. I can already sense that the itty bitty socks are going to cause me the most headaches when it comes to doing laundry! Another annoying baby clothes discovery is the clothes that are not labeled consistently. For example, a onesie says, "3 months." I assume that means 3-6 months but what if I'm wrong and it should be in the 0-3 month pile? And what about those onesies that say M? They look like the 3-6 month clothes so I put them there. Am I way off base? A first time mom needs to know.
Currently I have the closet organized into 0-3 months, 3-6 months and 6+ months for the 3 racks. Does anyone know where I can find the round plastic size indicators to hang? Department stores use them but I can't find them to buy. And getting arrested for shoplifting is probably not a good idea at this stage in my pregnancy. I found some adult sized ones but not for infant/baby sizes.
The finishing touch for our nursery is still to come! Right now we are t-minus 5 weeks for my due date. I am more than happy to go early but family history indicates this may not be the case. Either way, I am feeling like I am ready for her, at least from an organizational standpoint. I can't wait for the hardest and most wonderful part to start but she needs to arrive first!
Thursday, February 19, 2009
That leaves us with Danny Gokey (no surprise), Alexis Grace (cute as a button but needs to stop wearing silk slips to perform), and Michael Sarver (who will need to step it up to stay in the competition). Who are we extremely happy to see go? Say it with me: Tatiana. I didn't watch the results show but DH told me she was crying loud enough to drown out Danny's repeat performance. I also heard that Michael Johns and Carly from Season 7 performed a duet. Considering the crap we had to sit through on Tuesday night it's nice to remember the good performances from last season, no?
In other news I had the start of my weekly doctor appointments yesterday. I put on a few more pounds than I would have preferred but apparently that is normal at this point in the pregnancy. I am measuring at 36 weeks even though I am not even 35 weeks. So this little one could possibly be early! But A. had Finn late and Mommy, Esq. went right up to her C-section date with twins so there is no guarantee...
Because I am measuring more than a week ahead, my doctor said I will get another ultrasound at around 38 weeks to measure the baby's size. Yay! I was hoping I would get to see her one more time before she comes out. Of course if I'm told she is already at 8 pounds I will not be a happy camper. Smaller babies run in the family so I don't think it will be much of an issue.
DH and I were supposed to meet with a pediatrician on Tuesday evening but I ended up with a flat tire so we had to reschedule for early March. Thank goodness DH works from home and he could pop over to the parking lot I was stranded in and change the tire. Yes, I do have AAA but it always takes so long for them to come. DH was there in 15 minutes and we were home another 40 minutes later. It took him about 15 minutes to change the tire. I was impressed. I am annoyed because we bought the tires 2 1/2 years ago and now I need to get a new one. It wasn't a nail or anything that could be patched. It was a decent sized rip.
DH and I are planning a big baby shopping trip on Saturday for the remainder of our "essential" items. We were very fortunate that many of our registry items were gifted to us for the baby shower. So it should just be lots of little stuff. I also have about 6 loads of laundry to do for all the cute baby clothes we received. I think I need some more little hangers...
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
I've heard a lot of question about how the heck voting is going to work for this round of cuts so we actually end up at the all important Top 12. The 36 contestants have been broken in to 3 groups of 12. Each week, one of those groups will perform and will be followed the next night by a results show. The results show will give us the top guy and top girl plus the third top vote getter (no restriction on boy or girl). That means by the end of the third week we will have 9 contestants. The fourth week will give us the Judges' Pick (or Wild Card, whatever) for 3 additional contestants to round out the Top 12. This is vastly different from previous years when the Top 24 was broken up into guys vs. girls and 4 contestants (2 of each) were voted off each week. And of course, this now means more weeks of AI. Yay? Not really sure how I feel about that yet.
Jackie Tohn: "A Little Less Conversation" by Elvis Presley. Ryan calls her Miss Personality. I call her annoying. Does she remind anyone else of a poor man's Lily Tomlin? The song choice is a good one for her raspy voice. DH hates her "trademark" high tops. Jackie is bringing the energy but the crowd is still sitting which is never a good sign. Basically I think she did everything well but something was definitely lacking. Randy thought she was a good entertainer, Kara said she worked the stage, Paula said Jackie had her up dancing, and Simon thinks she played the clown. He was booed by the audience, natch. Jackie is not going on to the Top 12. Then we have to endure an awkward moment with Ryan and Jackie's parents. Do we really need that much filler? Oh right, this is American Idol...
Ricky Braddy: "A Song For You" by Leon Russel. I saw him and was like, "who?" Exactly. Ryan puts his hand on Ricky's knee for a bit too long and makes me feel funny. Ricky appears to have minimal personality which is the kiss of death. We see some shots of his auditions which we've never seen before. Ricky picks a mediocre ballad that I've never heard of for his first and probably only AI performance. He can definitely sing but that's about all he has going for him. Paula gives him a standing "O" and we see that his parents have T shirts supporting him. So did Jackie Tohn's parents. Do I sense a theme? If so, I hate it. Save that shit for the finals. Randy loved him, Kara said he "killed it," Paula mentioned he wasn't featured during the past two weeks but "deserves" to go far, and Simon doesn't think he has any star quality. Word.
Alexis Grace: "I Never Loved a Man" by Aretha Franklin. This girl is very cute and has a nice personality. She looks like she is wearing a slip while singing but the judges did tell her to "dirty" it up. Needless to say, Alexis is no Aretha (she needs a hat) but she does a very good job. Randy is loving her, Kara thinks she released something inside, Paula says she had passion and confidence (but says it in many more words and I say, "shut up, Paula" for the first of many times to come). Simon thinks she is the best contestant so far and could be a dark horse in the competition.
Neil Patrick Harris sits next to Ted Danson in the crowd. Odd combo. More inane conversation with Ryan and the parents.
Brent Keith: "Hicktown" by Jason Aldean. Brent didn't get much air time during the auditions but he is very cute. I've never heard of the song he sings. It sounds like every other country song I've ever heard. And Brent sounds like a bad karaoke show and is boring to boot. Randy liked that he returned to his roots, Kara thought he was playing it safe, Paula agreed with Randy and Kara, and Simon thinks he was forgettable. Say it with me, folks: word.
Stevie Wright: "You Belong With Me" by Taylor Swift. Stevie is 17 and has been watching since she was 9. Appropriate that she picks a song from another 17 year old. I'm going to show my age and say I've never heard this song before and only know Taylor Swift from Us Weekly. Stevie starts out really shaky and is obviously nervous. She misses notes and is all over the place. DH says what I'm thinking, "This is terrible." This poor girl is going to be eviscerated by the judges. Randy says he wasn't feeling it. Kara didn't think she connected with the song. Paula agreed that the song was not a good choice. Simon called the whole thing terrible. The camera flashed on Neil Patrick Harris and he totally agrees. At least Stevie took it well and didn't break down crying. Let's save that for the results, show, shall we?
Anoop Desai: "Angel of Mine" by Monica. I like Anoop, not only because he wrote a thesis on BBQ and is from NC. He just seems like a nice, mellow guy with a good voice. However, I am not happy with his song choice. Normally I think that guys who sing songs by women and vice versa are good choices. But this is a boring song and doesn't showcase his energy. Randy didn't like the song choice but is a big Anoop fan. He also calls out Anoop for a sharp pitch. Kara agrees. Paula thinks that America will vote him through, regardless. Simon also thinks the song selection was a bad decision. I hope that his likability factor will pull him through. Not that I plan on voting myself...
Casey Carlson: "Everything Little Thing She Does Is Magic" by the Police. I am immediately concerned for her with this song choice. It is a very difficult song. Casey is very cute and could go far if she can nail it. Unfortunately she does nothing of the sort. It was a very indulgent song choice and she is terrible. DH had to look away multiple times during her performance because of her weird faces and jerky movements on stage. A complete mess. Randy called it weird and completely wrong for her. Kara thought everything about it was wrong. Paula had to fall back on her "you are a beautiful girl" compliment because there was nothing else to say. Simon said the singing was atrocious. Again, I'm impressed she doesn't dissolve into tears. Perhaps because my pregnancy hormones are kicking in and I think crying isn't necessarily a bad thing these days?
Michael Sarver: "I Don't Want to Be" by Gavin DeGraw. Michael got a lot of face time during the auditions which will help. He picks a good, popular song that should be pretty easy to sing. Right? Right? Well, not so much. I can't figure it out but perhaps the arrangement is off? Michael is trying to not appear nervous but it's not working. He as zero stage presence and just keeps moving the microphone from one hand to the other. It would have been much better if he sang a stripped down version of the song. Instead, he has blown his shot at the Top 12. Next season I will mention to DH, "Remember the oil rig guy?" And DH will say, "Yeah, what ever happened to that guy?" Randy thought the phrasing was off, Kara didn't think it was his best performance and Paula thought he did a "real good job." Simon didn't think it was a good vocal but he hopes America will still vote for him.
Anne Marie Boskovich: "Natural Woman" by Aretha Franklin. I really like Ann Marie (parking lot makeover girl) and hope she goes far. I am nervous that she picks an Aretha song but she has great voice. Anne Marie looks stunning in her blue dress and does a good job with the song. She doesn't blow me away but I am hopeful that she will make it through to the Top 12. Randy asks her how she did and doesn't think that the song choice was a good one. Kara thought the song was too old fashioned for her. Anne Marie kind of talks back to Kara and I'm uncomfortable. Paula thinks she did better than in her auditions. Simon calls her a hotel singer. I am still holding out hope that she might be the third top vote getter.
Stephen Fowler: "Rock With You" by Michael Jackson. He is the guy we only saw in the last round of auditions who forgot his lyrics. He is 26 and a musician so he should be good. DH thinks picking this song will either be really good or a complete disaster. Let's see which one, shall we? I like that he's not trying to be Michael Jackson in how he sings the song. Stephen definitely has a great voice, probably the best we've heard so far, but I think he falls a little off pitch at the end. The beginning was much better than the end. Randy thought the song choice was horrible, Kara didn't think that he connected to the song, and Paula is glad that he remembered the lyrics but is disappointed in his performance. Simon called it a pointless performance for a musician of his experience. Looks like Stephen won't be in the Top 12.
Tatiana Del Toro: "Saving All My Love For You" by Whitney Houston. In her interview she felt picked on during Hollywood. That's because you are crazy!! I hate that she can sing. Life would be so much easier if she wasn't that good. While she is no Whitney Houston, Tatiana does hold her own. She probably has the best voice of all the girls so far. Hate. Hate. Hate. Hate to admit that. Grrrr. The audience gives her a standing ovation and I think it's the first one of the night. Randy was concerned about the song choice but felt like there were really great moments. Kara said she was reserved tonight but questions what her musical style is. Tatiana claims all musical genres. Paula thought she did a good job but is shocked by "demure Tatiana." Simon calls her a drama queen and desperate to be famous. Simon said it was better than he expected. Then all the judges tried to imitate her laughter and it was awesome.
Danny Gokey: "Hero" by Mariah Carey. He gets the money spot so I have high hopes for this performance. I didn't realize that his wife passed away just a month before his audition. My heart breaks for this guy. I hope his BFF, Jamar, is in the audience. The best thing about a guy singing a Mariah Carey song is that the normal comparisons can't apply. And Danny makes it his own with the arrangement. The crowd is definitely into it, for the first time all night. Danny is definitely sailing through to the Top 12. There's Jamar! Hi, Jamar! Randy called it blazing heart, Kara said it was great, Paula called him stellar and Simon thought it was good but he's not quite buying the hype yet.
Before I give my predictions I have to say that I don't think Kara is adding anything to the AI experience besides sucking up more time. She is a cross between Randy and Paula in terms of how nice she is to the contestants. When we hear a judge say, "I agree" a lot it means she doesn't have her own opinion. I'm willing to give her a few more shots but I have a feeling unless she signed a multi year contract she won't be around for Season 9. What do you think?
I am hoping that Danny Gokey and Alexis Grace take the top 2 spots with Anoop coming in for the third. What I think will probably happen is Danny and Alexis will be joined by Tatiana. I can only hope that her weird demure attitude on stage and disclaimers about her craziness make the public less interested in her. Who do you want to see in the Top 12?
Monday, February 16, 2009
When the first baby laughed for the first time, the laugh broke into a thousand pieces...and that was the beginning of fairies. - J.M. Barrie
That was the first sentence of the baby shower invitation my mother and sisters sent out. It was extraordinarily appropriate, not just because our nursery theme is fairies, but because this past weekend was filled with laughter.
I arrived at the Manchester airport about 2 hours late after flying via Newark from Charlotte. Along the way, I got air sick and sat in the plane for over an hour on the runway. So needless to say, I was extremely happy to arrive! And I've officially learned my lesson that paying a bit more for a direct flight is 100% worth it...
Friday afternoon I borrowed my mom's car and went to see Mommy, Esq. and her family. I was very glad to get some alone time with the twins because I couldn't get my hands on them for the rest of the weekend. There were too many other family members and friends waiting in line! It was wonderful for me because in about 6 weeks I will have my own little one. I observed Kristin and Aaron as they went through the bed time rituals with the twins. It was such a big difference from my visit in September. Ned and Penny have so much personality and are constantly laughing and smiling. They definitely made me even more excited to meet my daughter.
Saturday was my baby shower and it was absolutely wonderful. So many family members and friends were able to be there, despite the fact that it was Valentine's Day and the start of school vacation in Massachusetts. I did wish that DH could have been with me but he was probably very relieved to not be subject to 30+ women talking about pregnancy and babies! Everyone was extremely generous and I cannot wait to finish up the nursery and share photos. I also have so many cute outfits for the little one I won't even know which one to start with! Regardless I'm sure we will take a million photos and I will post them for you all to see once she has arrived.
Me showing off a special blanket made by my grandmother, Mimi, for our little girl.
By the way, does anyone know when it became acceptable to wear jeans to church? I was appalled to see kids and their parents (!) so casually dressed.
Aren't we sooo cute?
Friday, February 13, 2009
The labor rooms include a TV, VCR, DVD player, radio, jacuzzi tub, birthing balls, etc. The hospital also provides free wireless for instant gratification of baby photos sent to family and friends. They do not allow video cameras or still photos during the actual birth. I'm totally fine with that! And DH is too considering he will be firmly planted at my head and not helping the doctor "catch" the baby.
One of the coolest things they do is when the baby is born the entire hospital hears Brahms' Lullaby playing. And if it's twins then they play it twice! How cute is that?
In our group of 10 couples we were the only one having a girl which I thought was cool. One couple didn't know but the woman having twin boys made up for them. There were two other tours immediately after ours with a similar number of couples in each. Thankfully the labor rooms were not completely filled while we were there so I'm hopeful I won't have to battle it out with another mom when I arrive for my delivery. Plus most of the women in our group were delivering in April or beyond.
Today I am flying up to Boston for the baby shower my mom is throwing for me. I should be boarding the plane as this gets posted if the auto post feature works correctly. Mommy, Esq. is having a Christening for her twins so it will be a fun filled weekend. I'll post when I'm back photos from both events. Happy Friday the 13th, everyone!
Thursday, February 12, 2009
DH and I are somewhat disgusted at the notion of a judges' mansion. First of all, don't the judges all have homes in the LA area anyway? Secondly, the elevator is gone! I think that is the worst part of the whole thing. Of course Ryan is still the annoying gnat buzzing around the waiting room so not everything has changed. Admittedly, the mansion is beautiful but is this the message that American Idol wants to send during our time of economic woes? I can see the producers' meeting now:
Producer #1: I know! Let's dump the somewhat luxurious hotel for a house that not a single one of our voters could actually afford!
Producer #2: Great idea! In fact, should we even allow Coke and Ford to advertise any more? Let's get Dom Perignon and Lamborghini instead!
New for this season's Chair is the "sing off." Two contestants are pitted against each other to sing for their supper. So to speak. I'm "eh" about this twist but let's see how it plays out, shall we?
Up first is NC native Anoop Desai. He seems very relaxed as he saunters into the Chair. Kara tells him he "surprised" them. He is in the Top 36. And Kara needs to work on her delivery, "I think you will be with us for Season 8." Think? It is or is not.
Von Smith is next DH immediately says, "Buh-bye". Apparently the only reason he is alive is to be on America Idol. This isn't going to work out well. He is one of the big voiced, musical theatre talents that Simon has such little love for. Von Smith falls back on his generations' habits and blames his parents for his song selection. I am disgusted that he makes it through. He brought his mom with him and she cries in happiness. Just wait until you see how he blamed you while he was in the Chair!
Ryan tells us that the judges had such a difficult time making their decisions because the talent was so good this Season. Really?
Cody is the amateur horror film maker and he totally disappeared after his first audition. Alex (slightly nerdy guy I have a soft spot for) is brought in to compete in a sing off. Cody does a terrible job. He wasn't in pitch at all. Alex is much less nervous than Cody and has a significantly better performance. The judges agree with me and Cody is out and Alex is in. Ryan tries to sympathize with both of them and fails miserably. Don't worry, Ryan, you've only had 7 years to perfect bad news/good news.
Adam Lambert still annoys me. DH think he has "the look" but I strongly dislike his musical theatre vibe and Cher performance from the last solo edition. Simon tells him that the judges liked him in Hollywood. Kara gives him a smile so you know he is in. And apparently I am going to suck at my AI pool this year because Adam is through to the Top 36.
The first girl up is Taylor who auditioned in Salt Lake City. Is she the girl who moved from Hawaii to Utah to be "discovered?" I think so. DH thinks she looks like Callie from Grey's Anatomy. Randy doesn't let her sweat long before he tells her she's in.
Also in are Jasmine Murray, Arianna Asfar, Casey Carlson (very cute, has already been on TMZ), Megan Corkery (single mom), Mishavonna, and Stevie Wright.
Joanna is up next (previously had a label deal) and we are shown clips of her constantly forgetting the song lyrics. Not surprisingly she is through and joins the other ladies in the Top 36. I predict at least one more set of forgotten song lyrics in her future. Joanna is one I think could go very far in this competition. I am annoyed at the judges constantly saying she hasn't been offered a break in the business. Um, what about her past record deals? She's made it a lot further than any of the other contestants...
TK Hash, Chris Chatham, and Reggi Reasley are all out. They never got any air time so I am not surprised.
Kendall Beard is up next and we are shown clips of her not doing well. Paula fucks with her pretty well and breaks the news that she made it.
Kristen McNamara and Jenn Korbee are going to have a sing off. Jenn is half of the married couple that made it to Hollywood Week. Her husband, Tom, was cut after first day of auditions. Jenn isn't fazed by the request to sing and belts out some country song. Kristen has a more pure country voice than Jenn but who will the judges pick? Simon keeps saying that Jenn is much more attractive and the rest of the judges give him crap for it. Kara and Paula give constructive criticism to both contestants and drag it way out. Simon tells Kristen she is through but he preferred Jenn. I'm sure that makes Jenn feel soooo much better.
Alexis Grace (cute single mom) cries a little in her interview about leaving her baby if she makes it into the Top 36. I really enjoyed her voice in her audition and think she has a unique tone. Needless to say, she is in. Looks like Gradma will be her daughter's primary care giver now!
Up next is Scott McIntyre. DH wants him to say, "This is a nice place," as he walks to the Chair. He he he. That's never going to get old because he's obviously through. Paula tries to throw some BS his way but the decision is never in doubt. At least Ryan doesn't try to give him a high five again. That was priceless!
Lil Rounds immediately follows and she is another one who is definitely through. She is a mother of 3 who lives in a motel with her family because they lost their apartment to a hurricane or tornado or something. Simon loves her and she's in. If she keeps up the good work she will be in the Top 10.
One hour down, one to go. AI loves to drag out these results, don't they? During the regular season I don't recap the results shows except to say who goes home, so don't get used to this. Between the group performances and the guest singers, the results shows are the worst. Sometimes I even go to bed and have DH watch the end and wake me up with the results. That's how boring they are.
Anyway there are 30 contestants left to be judged in the Chair. Felicia Barton, Ashley Hollister, and Devon Baldwin are all out. The first we've seen of any of them so they won't be missed.
Frankie Jordan (stay at home mom) is up for judging next. She is going to be in a sing off with Jessie Langseth. I like Jessie a lot more even before hearing the sing off. I have always coveted red hair though so that could explain my bias. Frankie is incredibly nervous and starts out pretty shakey. Jessie has a lot more "umph" than Frankie and I predict she will be the one let through despite the bad song choice. Paula confirms my prediction.
Shera Lawrence is out. Derek Lavers it out. And Simon tells them with such aplomb I want to stand up and applaud him.
Allison who has an unspellable name is 16 and we see her for the first time as she walk to the Chair. Her Hollywood clips are good and she joins the Top 36.
Danny and Jamar are up next. We get a clip package of their journey together. I really like these guys because they both seem so normal and great friends. Thank goodness the judges don't pull a BS sing off for them. Danny is up first in the Chair and he's obviously through. Jamar is genuinely happy for him. Will he also join the Top 36? Surprisingly no. DH is shocked. I kind of am too but such are the vagaries of American Idol. The entire waiting room is stunned by the decision. Jamar handles it with grace. DH calls it crap.
Ricky Brady, Matt Giraud (dueling piano player), Ju'not Joyner, Jorge Nunez (still don't get the judges love for him), and Brent Keith are all in. Stephen Fowler is up next and he totally screwed up the last solo audition when he forgot the words. Twice. But the judges are forgiving and he joins the other Top 36 guys.
Nick/Norman heads to the Chair next. He is appearing as Nick this time around and the judges miss Norman. Simon obviously didn't vote for him but he is through to the Top 36. I am baffled.
Jackie Tohn who was completely annoying during Hollywood Week thinks she did well. I think she butchered the last solo audition. Randy beats around the bush before welcoming her to Season 8. Jackie and her guitar necklace cry their way out of the room.
Jackie is hugged by Tatiana on her way back to the waiting room. We see lots of clips of Tatiana being emotional. Does she have any other mode? She does have a good voice but she's so freaking annoying! Thankfully Simon is in my corner. Tatiana babbles about the bracelet from Paula's collection that she bought and it was a "sign from God." Also a sign from God? That she doesn't make it. What? What did I just hear? Did Randy say she made it?Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!
I'm ignoring it and moving on quickly.
Jackie and Nathanial are going into a sing off. Nathanial and his two headbands piss me off. At least he's not wearing sunglasses over the whole mess like he usually does. Nathanial is one of the millennial generation that completely pisses me off. So entitled. I think this is the first time we've seen Jackie McKiff and he does a decent job. Kara immediately defends him. But first we need to suffer through Nathanial "look at me!" Marshall. After we hear his sob story, of course. Mom in prison for drugs, obese grandma in wheel chair, etc. I'm too full of hate for any sympathy. His voice is better than Jackie's. I'm not happy. I realize that this is a singing competition but can the judges not incorporate any of the personality factors? I just hope that America does a better job because Nathanial is in.
Sigh. At least one more week of him and Tatiana. It really might kill me.
Also joining the Top 36 are Jeanine Vailes, Kai Kalama, Ann Marie, and Kris Allen.
Matt Breitzer is a welder and Michael Sarver is a rough neck on an oil rig. Neither of these guys are people you want to screw with. So the AI producers put them through a sing off. Matt doesn't do a very good job. Michael is much better. DH thinks they are both in. Based on my count so far, he could be right. My math is good and they are both through.
And so that it, Season 8's Top 36. Now America gets to vote. Let's hope we weed out the loonies early. It might even inspire me to vote. And I never vote. The contestants will be broken out into groups of 12 and compete each week to be narrowed down. Sounds confusing. I liked the boy/girl of past seasons. Contestants will perform on either a Tuesday or Wednesday and the next day the semi finalists will be announced. Then we get the judges pick "Wild Card" episode on 3/5. And then, only then will we have our Top 12. I'm exhausted already.
Contestants have complained that if they don't get air time during auditions they are at a disadvantage when America starts voting. What do you think?
Season 8's Top 36 (don't blame me for the crappy website, it is American Idol...)
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
But tonight is Day 4 of Hollywood Week, Season 8. Per usual, contestants are split up into rooms and the entire room is dismissed or makes it through to the Chair for the final round of judging. There are 4 rooms total with 18 contestants in each. Now, I was a little slow on the uptake here and didn't really figure it out until the end but if you are not as math challenged as me, you will know that 3 of the 4 rooms will be safe. Why? Because AI is going with a Top 36 this season and if they dismiss 50% of the rooms there will be nothing left for the Chair to judge. And we can't have that! Of course this math should just make the contestants who are dismissed feel even worse about themselves. A 75% chance of making it to the next round of judging aren't good enough odds for them!
After Ryan tries to fake us out that we will see the results immediately, the show is "rewound" to 12 hours earlier.
Adam Lambert is up first. If you don't remember him he is the slightly goth guy with a musical theatre voice. Paula called him "unique and different." Grrrr. Here we go again, Paula. Someone can't be both unique and different. Unique is sufficient and grammatically correct. That crap drives me up the wall! I'm sure I will comment on it many times over the course of the season so prepare yourselves; it is one of Paula's favorite compliments. Adam chooses Believe by Cher. Good set of pipes but having a gay guy sing Cher is a little cliche, isn't it? He does OK and we aren't told what room he ends up in. I think it's Room 1.
Adam is followed by dueling piano player, Matt Giraud. Matt serenades the judges with Georgia On My Mind and plays the keyboard, natch. Good tone of voice and a lot of presence. He's totally through and Kara calls it hot. Again we aren't told where he ends up but I'm sure his room will be safe.
Ryan talks more about the stress in the Waiting Room. I wonder why Degree sponsors a small show like Eureka but they pass up the opportunity for a Degree moment on America Idol. Seems like good synergy to me.
Featured next are Danny and Jamar, the BFFs who have received a ton of screen time during the auditions. You remember them: Danny's wife died of a heart condition and Jamar is his cute friend who supports him all the time. Jamar picks Delilah by White T Shirts (great song and apparently 1/2 of the contestants think so too) and does an OK job. I didn't think it was a good song choice for his voice but DH thought he was great. Danny watches him from the wings. The producers are really milking this friendship, aren't they? Performing right after each other, same group in Day 1, etc. Danny sings a smaltzy song with his raspy voice and he sounds really good. Not a lot of range or big notes but he's definitely through. I think Danny has had the most air time of any potential winner yet. I predict he will easily get passed the Chair. Jamar, however, is up in the air.
Anoop sings My Perogative and has the crowd on its feet. Jorge Nunez from Puerto Rico does a decent job but I am not seeing why the judges love him. Both end up in Room 1 so I'm going to assume the contestants we've seen so far do as well.
Scott MacIntire sings I'm Going Home by Daughtry and accompanies himself on the piano. He does a good job but I'm not bowled over by his voice. But there is definitely something about this guy. Totally normal despite his physical disability. I am secretly glad he hasn't been featured too much during Hollywood Week because it implies he will go far. After his performance he tells us, "I just heard that Paula gave me a standing ovation but I didn't see that." Good one.
Also in Room 1 (I think) is Kendall, a cute blond from Puerto Rico. She picks Carrie Underwood, of course, and had a generically good country voice. She is followed by Stevie who is 16 and sings the Bubbly song I like so much. Her voice was not great. But Lil Rounds does amazing! She has the drive and the voice and will totally survive the Chair.
Ryan has a chat with Kristen McNamara from Team Compromise. Ryan fucks with her and she is not annoying. She does much better than I saw from the group round. But it's the first time we really saw her sing so it's hard to tell if she makes it.
Mishavonna who we never saw before is back at Hollywood Week for the second year. I don't recognize the song but think she does a good job. Terrible name though...
We are on next (I think, Ryan is doing a bad job with his narrative tonight) to Room 2 which includes Tatiana so you know they are toast. Too bad because it included the oil rig guy and Alex, the kind of nerdy guy. Ryan shows us a montage of all the songs that she sang for the judges. Why do you insist on deluding this girl with more air time?? The producers are mean this season. Tatiana picks a Whitney Houston song, of course, and kind of butchers it. DH is happy and yells, "Gone!" The judges are appalled. She, of course, thinks she nailed it.
Alexis Grace picks Carrie Underwood and does OK (another one of the single moms we've seen). Jasmine Murray who was good in the other clips was not good in her final audition. Also in the same group is Nathanial ("Look at me!") from Team Compromise who got way too much air time. I breath a sigh of relief that he kind of sucks. Buh-bye.
Also in Room 2 is Joanna Paciti who is totally cute and royally screws up the words. Two more contestants forgetting the words are shown. Simon doesn't let that shit through. After all, if a contestant can't learn a song in 24 hours, how will they be able to do it week after week?
Then Tatiana is removed from Room 2 and put into Room 4. Not sure what's up with that, I've never seen it before. Room 4 should be very worried right now.
Nick/Norman is highlighted next. He picks his alter ego, Norman Gentle to sing the final audition. Let me pull my Psych 101 hat on and say that it is easier for Nick to be rejected as Norman than as himself. So when there is more on the line he's not willing to actually be himself. It's a shame because he does have a very nice voice. He is put into Room 4.
Also in Room 4: Ann Marie picks I Hope You Dance and pulls a Brooke White by singing barefoot. She's pretty good. You probably remember her from her audition where Simon made her go out and get a parking lot makeover. Ju'not Joyner sings the Delilah song and we've never seen him before. I think he does a great job with his styling of the song. Could he be another David Cook with his own versions? From the short clip we are shown, I think he will make it past the Chair.
When Tatiana joins Room 4 the rest of the contestants freak. As well they should. She's an awful person. But supposedly the judges only look at voices so you never know...DH is ready to stop watching if she makes it through. But he remembers: she will never survive the Chair even if she makes it through here. So the world is right again. We are counting on you, Simon! And add to your cut list Nathanial "Look at me!" if his room makes it too.
Room 3 includes Kaylan Loyd from the Louisville auditions. She starts strong but then forgets the words. Leneshe is also from Louisville and Ryan reminds us of her sob story. Homeless, raised by a single mom, blah blah blah. She does OK but not great.
Kai Kalama in Room 2 had his voice crack repeatedly. Chin up, man, Syesha made it through when she lost her voice. Michael Sarver is also in Room 2 and is the oil rig guy. He does an OK job but doesn't wow me. Simon was smiling though which is a good sign.
Simon skips out on informing the rooms of the results. But that's got to be his favorite part! It would be mine. He he he. Although he still has the Chair to come so he'll get his kicks that way.
Room 2's decision: they are through to the Chair. I am annoyed that Nathanial "Look at me!" Marshall is one of them. Gah.
In Room 3 India (she of India/Asia audition) is shown and does not do well. That coupled with the fact that many of the contestants who forgot the words are there means we are not surprised at the results. Room 3 decision: end of the road. Included is Jason Castro's brother.
Room 1 is obviously getting through. Is anyone doubting that? Especially with Scott (bind guy), Anoop, Lil Rounds, etc.
In Room 4, Tatiana has a nervous breakdown before the judges deliver their verdict: they are in for the next round.
That means only 18 people were cut and we are down to 54. 36 make it past the Chair.
Speaking of the Chair, tomorrow is the 2 hour extravaganza. And apparently now there is a judges mansion. A hotel isn't good enough any more? Where is the hotel with the private elevator? They can't do this to me! The elevator is a key component. I need to see the contestants collapse against the wall sobbing in shame and disbelief! A long walk from the waiting room up some stairs is not going to hack it. Unless someone falls? Then I might be OK.
So tomorrow night prepare yourselves for the start of the 2 hour episodes. We will likely have those (excluding results shows) for a number of weeks until the contestants are cut down to Top 10. I am preparing myself to stay up past my normal bedtime to blog all about it.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
The brochure also told us that we can only have a max of 4 other people in the room during delivery (including the significant other). Um, that kind of creeps me out. I was watching a Baby Story last night and some girl had her mother and grandmother with her! "Hi, Grandma, check me out giving birth!" Crazy... Relatives can come in after I'm all cleaned up and feeling a little more like myself. Not that we will have anyone with us unless I go 2+ weeks late and my mom is here. No offense, Mom, but if that's the case, I will have to kill someone.
Any particular questions I should come in asking? I'm more than happy to be that annoying person who asks all the questions and gets weird looks from other expectant parents.
I will try to get the American Idol recap up first thing Wednesday but if we get back late I may have to defer for a day. It's the Chair week, people! I love the Chair. And the elevator. And Simon saying, "I totally disagreed but I was outvoted, so you are in." But first up are more auditions to cut us down from 75 contestants to a manageable number for the Chair.
Monday, February 9, 2009
It was so nice outside I felt guilty about the massive cardinal bathing itself in my disgustingly dirty bird bath. So I pulled out the hose for the first time this year and cleaned it out. I also filled the bird feeder. We have so many birds that the bird seed lasts less than 24 hours. But Charlie loves to watch the birds so whenever I remember I fill it up.
Other than that, DH and I had a lazy weekend broken up by some shopping trips and eating dinner out on Friday. I tried to pick up an exercise ball from Target but the medium one (65 cm) seemed way too small. There are a few reasons I want an exercise ball and using it for exercise is just one of them! I have heard it is great for pre-labor and during labor for easing back tension. Plus Mommy, Esq. swears by it for bouncing and calming her twins. Anyone know what size I should get? And should I swing by a sporting goods store instead of a Target?
In other news, I am now T minus 7 weeks until my due date. Apparently the little one is now over 4 pounds (the size of a pineapple) and over 17 inches long. DH is impressed that she somehow fits in my belly. I know she does because now I grunt every time I get out of a chair or roll over in bed. I'm also a lot more short of breath and run to the bathroom at least once an hour. As I said, T minus 7 weeks!
Friday, February 6, 2009
Work has been pretty stressful this week and I've officially hit the third trimester fatigue on top of it. DH has been wonderful doing most of the cooking. All I want to do is collapse on the couch when I get home. I am working from home today and might increase the number of days over the next 7 weeks. My chair at work is becoming my enemy. By the end of the day I feel very uncomfortable and I think the baby is totally smooshed. At least at home I can go from a nice padded chair to a couch if I need to. Now if only I can stop dreaming about work at night. I feel like I'm working 24x7 with that!
DH submitted our taxes last weekend and we should be getting a nice chunk of change back from the federal and state governments. Good thing since BigFinance isn't giving bupkis for bonuses this year (and why exactly does Wall Street get to give out ridiculous amounts of money?). We'll probably save most of it but we are going to have a landscape architect come out this weekend to draw up some plans for our backyard so we might help stimulate the economy too. Last year we used a tax guy and DH ran his own numbers. The guy didn't get us any more money than we could have if we did it ourselves. Not having sold any stock or made any complicated financial moves, DH did our taxes for us this year. The only crappy part is that we couldn't deduct interest from my student loans because of our income bracket. I question the government on that regulation. Isn't student loan interest the same as owning a house? Interest is interest! No wonder some students are fleeing the country rather than paying back their loans. Regardless, taxes are not hard. So why the hell are so many politicians getting nailed for not filing taxes?
My recommendation for those tax filer procrastinators is to file early and file online. It is less than 10 business days to get a refund if you file online well in advance of the 4/15 deadline. DH and I use Turbo Tax and they do everything for you. A piece of cake. I do think it's a bit of a rip off that you can't file online without using one of those software packages but I don't run the world like I should :-)
Happy Friday, everyone! It feels as though it was a long time coming this week. The weather is finally warming back up in Charlotte and I'm looking forward to a productive yet lazy weekend. I plan on dragging DH to lots of stores for baby related purchases. It's time to help get the economy moving again.
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Ryan recaps that 40 contestants have bid adieu to American Idol and welcomes us to Group Round. The contestants are allowed to team up on their own (love it!) and have until the next day to come up with a routine. Quite a few contestants are left out on the cold including Tatiana (she of the mermaid dress and annoying laugh). Her teammates immediately peg her as a looney. And they are credited with massive amounts of intelligence by me.
Lauren, Jasmine, Rose (hippy girl whose parents died) and Bikini Girl are a group (Team Diva). Needless to say Rose is disgusted with Bikini Girl and she ratchets up in my estimation. Meanwhile Tatiana has her first of what is sure to be many meltdowns. She tries to get another group to accept her and pleads her case (to Team Compromise aka Nathanial, Kristen and Nancy). They are far from won over.
The more successful groups (or dumb ones) wrap it up and head to bed. What is sad is that so many more groups will be up until 3 or 4 AM and probably lose their voices as a result. The Tatiana drama continues and I'm completely bored with it. She needs to be cut, immediately. Team Compromise adds to the drama, noise and annoyance level. Multi-talented, aren't they?
Meanwhile Bikini Girl has a conflict with her group and retires to her room to cry. I feel no pity. Gay guy (Nathanial) from Team Compromise had a major meltdown and DH makes me fast forward the show because he can't take the annoyance any more. Don't worry, it's just more of Nathanial's meltdown and manufactured drama. 12 year old girls act better than these people.
Morning comes and Team Diva tries to track down Bikini Girl who wants nothing to do with them. Apparently sleep is more important than a shot at American Idol. Of course, she really didn't have a shot and Simon was just playing with her so it's probably for the best.
Will this agony of preparation never end? Shit, here comes Bikini Girl. Rose (who decides wearing her AI number in her hair is a good look) talks a good game but you know none of them will really confront her. Bikini Girl announces that the rest of the group needs to teach her what she missed. They get up and leave. About right.
30 minutes in and we finally get the contestants out on stage. Simon lectures the group that forgetting the words is a cardinal sin. He does it because he is right and because it freaks the hell out of the contestants. I like it!
Up first are India, Justin, Kris and Matt (White Chocolate). India does a little rapping. The group sounds good together and have a lot of energy. The judges respond favorably and all are through to Round 3.
Montage of bad group performances including bumbled lyrics. I forgot how they only get to choose from a couple of songs. The only notable updates here is that Jorge and Nick are through.
Alex, Ryan, Ann Marie and Emily are "Action Squad" and don't appear to have their choreography together. Individually they sound OK but as a group they can't harmonize worth shit. Plus there are forgotten words. Lots of forgotten words. Alex and Ann Marie are in and Emily and Ryan are out. Emily is crying as well she should but pretty graceful about the whole thing and recognizes at least that it was her own fault. Too bad she dumped her band and a European tour for this! Ryan claims Paula is the devil.
Montage of Simon's exasperation with the contestants. He should watch the "preparation" phase and really get a headache.
Danny, Jamar, Taylor, and some other girl (Rainbow Coalition) do a great a capella job with "Somebody". Simon tries to screw with their heads by calling Danny out but of course they all make it to Round 3. I am very much enjoying Danny and hope he isn't getting too much exposure in these audition rounds. Sometimes it can be the kiss of death. If you think back to past winners (or even late finalists) they tend to have not been featured extensively early in the season.
Jeremy, Adam, Matt Breitzle, Jesse Langseth are showcased as excellent singers and are all through.
Team Diva has appeared to kissed and made up (get your dirty minds out of the gutter!) but I am not hopeful. Lauren does OK as does Bikini Girl but I am so filled with hate I think everything she does is crap. DH comments, "She isn't even that pretty." Isn't he so sweet? Rose forgets the words and jumps around the stage like an idiot. Jasmine is the best. Simon asks them to point out why they sucked as a group. Lauren, Katrina and Rose are out. Katrina even poses when her name is called! No shame and Kara completely calls her on it. I feel bad for Rose but individual contestants can shine even if their group sucks. She didn't have the words or the confidence to pass through to Round 3.
David Osmond is also out as is Aaron (aka Class President) who is still OK because he's only 17. I remember when I was new and shiny and crap would roll of my back too.
Now Tatiana's team is up and they aren't so good. Anyone shocked? Well, you should be because the judges disagree and let everyone through. Tatiana is annoying in her happiness. Full on hate now. I am mentally bringing that bitch down! Simon better pay attention to my projected thoughts.
Team Compromise is the last group to go. Nathanial moved into my bad graces with his first audition so I am not expecting anything besides crappiness. Of course they pray to God because an almighty being is really invested in their success. They sing Duffy's Mercy. Nathanial is pretty decent, Nancy seems to come up with some kind of weird accent and forgotten lyrics. Kristen makes an effort but she's pretty tired and screeches some notes. Basically they are a mess. During the judging Kristen reaches out to Nancy but Nancy acts like the brat she is and shies away. The judges are a bit disgusted. Nathanial and Kristen are through and Nancy and her bad attitude are dismissed. Nancy blames everyone else but herself. As so many of these contestants do.
Blind guy is still in and I'm starting to wonder why they are hiding him from us. Are they trying to avoid overexposure because he really could go far? Hmmmm. Also still in is the kissing couple. There is a quick flash on Nick/Norman who also makes it through. Interesting that they don't feature him when he's is being "normal" don't you think?
Next week Hollywood Week continues with Round 3. The previews show Nathanial again and I can only hope that all this air time means he will totally crash and burn.
To recap my recap I am bummed that Rose is out and had my prediction of Emily as a Top 36 denied. And that's why Hollywood Week changes everything!
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Ryan welcomes us to the Kodak Theatre which is a much bigger venue than past Hollywood weeks. 147 singers will take the stage but only 36 will make it through for America to vote on. According to my calculations there should be 149 contestants. I'm going to guess that 2 dropped out or were removed for personal reasons. Perhaps a hidden past involving naked pictures? Or being sent to jail for a DUI? Those were past infractions anyway. For the first time, the potential contestants were put through boot camp: publicists, stylists, vocal coaching, etc. Barry Manilow (American Idol whore) stops by to offer encouragement. Dude, you weren't that good last year as a mentor!
Per usual, the contestants were split up into 2 groups for Round 1. The first half will have a short time to perform a capella and are immediately judged in or out. The other half gets to explore tourists traps. We plunge immediately into the first group to be judged. Lil Rounds is up first and decided Whitney Houston is the way to go. Do these contestants never learn? I didn't think she sounded that good but Kara gave her a standing ovation so she is obviously through. She gets a non-prompted mention by Kara later in the show so I have a feeling that Lil Rounds will be one of the Top 36.
Dennis Bringham was annoying in his Kansas City audition and equally annoying in Hollywood. A dismissive Simon "thank you" was all I needed to know he was not going to make it. Asia, Alexander and Lil are through, everyone else is out. Dennis tries to fight his dismissal but it's a losing battle. I really hate when contestants talk back to the judges. But frankly, it's is the judges' own fault. They have been known to bend during the city auditions if a contest pleads his or her case well enough. So of course they think the same tactics will work in Hollywood.
Ryan interviews Paula and Kara about the talent but they aren't encouraged. We are shown a quick clip of Frankie who was not given encouragement from Simon during Round 1. TMZ gave out a spoiler that she is still on the show so she must be another Top 36 finalist.
The next group includes Nathanial Marshall who was the gay guy with arm tattoos. He sings a ver lovely song I don't recognize. And he's good. Paula and Simon question his song choice and Nathaniel overshares how music "saves him". Then he starts crying. I would laugh but Paula and Randy are encouraging. Kids today. They feel so much. Gah. Suck it up! Perhaps my New England upbringing is getting the best of me here...
Then comes Anoop from UNC. I really liked him in his auditions. Simon said he needed a little more style and he appears to have at least ditched the button down shirt and shorts look. Anoop was good again. He's followed by Jasmine from Jacksonville is up and also quite good. Kara calls her a natural talent. And let's not forget Rose Fleck (aka "my mom and dad died and I don't wear shoes anywhere don't you like my gross dirty feet" girl). The judges remember her immediately. She lost some confidence in rehearsals but picks a great song for her audition. I really like the tone of her voice. She may not have the range of other singers but she is very distinctive.
Perhaps not surprisingly, all singers are through to the next round!
Next group features Steven Fowler who I totally don't remember. He's a good looking black guy with a nice set of pipes. Even though he picked a Stevie Wonder song (even worse than Mariah or Whitney!) he did a great job and Randy really digs him. He is followed by Jorge Nunez (San Juan auditions) who I think over vocalizes but has a great voice. I have a feeling even if he doesn't do well in American Idol he has enough exposure to get a Latin recording deal.
Von Smith is one of the annoying musical theatre contestants that always seem to sneak through. He picks a very weird song and sounds cabaret while mixing it with weird facial expressions. I think the last note was a sour one. Simon called it indulgent nonsense. Right on, man.
All three are through. And Von is very, very lucky.
Montage of song selection criticism. Song selection was emphasized in the boot camp so basically these contestants are dumbasses. Montage of people leaving because of bad song selection.
Nick Mitchell (aka Norman Gentle) was up in the next group. I can't believe he was let through from NYC. He decides to stay in character and sings in a very gay, over the top manner. I'll give him a dash of comedic relief. But a very small dash. Randy and Paula seem to think he has real talent but I'm skeptical. But once again, my opinion means nothing to the judges so Norman/Nick makes it through.
Quick cuts of blind guy and Frankie making it through.
Montage of people who passed this round.
The second group steps up during Day 2. But first, we are treated to a mini car commercial as they are on their way to the Kodak Theatre. Can't wait for more of those (eye roll) during the season!
Jackie Tone (28) babbles annoyingly at the camera. But she still has that cool Janice Joplin voice. I question her longevity. Paula and Randy both express their admiration for her. Needless to say, she's in.
Montage of "life long friends" coming out of American Idol. Ah, the joys of youth where everyone is your BFF unless they are your frenemy.
Montage of rejections. Keep 'em coming! These recaps are tiring.
Danny (28) who's wife died. So sad! And his friend Jarmar. Jarmar was a bit over the top vocally but he has a nice set of pipes. Randy is a big fan. Danny does a great job on a Seal song but doesn't really "own it". But I like his raspy voice. Paula gushes. They are both in.
Montage of praise from the judges.
Bikini Girl greets us back from commercials. She has a name but I refuse to dignify her with it. Especially as she keeps up the attitude in her interview and claims that Kara doesn't like her because she is jealous. All the other contestants seem to recognize the bikini girl. Gah. I hate that shit. She tackles Faith Hill "Breath" and does a pretty poor job. Kara and Paula try to let her down gently but Simon and Randy are no help. And somehow she makes it through. Again. And kisses Ryan again. He would totally tap that shit if she wasn't on the show and they have clauses against it.
Jessica (took care of her grandmother) didn't make it. Sharon with the cute dog was out. And Patrica who brought a million relatives to her San Juan audition is also out.
The next group includes Jeremy who is the guy with the 5th most dangerous job. He works on a oil rig. I really liked him in his original audition and think he did an even better job here. He's not conventionally handsome but he has presence and seems like a nice guy. I predict he will be another Top 36.
He is followed by Jesus (took his cute kid in with him for his audition) who is not nearly as good and shouldn't have made it to Hollywood to begin with. Simon is bored. Jeremy is in, Jesus is out.
Last line is up. First up is Emily Wynn Hughes who gave up a European tour with her band. They must be so pissed! She decides not to sing the song she practiced and picks a No Doubt song instead. Bad move. Kara calls her on it. But if you like her type, no worries, she is through. She will be another Top 36 because the judges seem to love her. I'm not won over and wonder what they are not showing us.
Also through from this group is David Osmond (yes, one of those Osmonds) and Alex who was slightly dorky guy. I totally heart Alex!
Erika does not make it and asks for another chance. The coolest thing about her is that her job is listed as FBI Agent! How cool is that? I'm not really sure I buy it though. Doesn't the FBI have high standards? The short clip we saw of her twangy voice was not good. She isn't too pushy but still annoying to try and get that second chance.
4 other folks were passed through. It's a blur at this point.
104 contestants are through to Round 2. DH is disgusted they couldn't cut it down further. I hear ya! It's going to be a long week.
Montage of happy contestants.
Tomorrow is group day. I hate group day, especially the stupid contestants who don't practice and sink their groups. Or somehow make it through. But it will still be fun!
Moment of silence for the idiots who really thought they had a chance at being an American Idol.
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
I am measuring between 32 and 33 weeks and my weight is very much on track (thank goodness!) so I don't have to give up the ice cream yet. The little one is currently head down but that won't be locked in until after week 36. At this point the doctor does not think I will go beyond my due date (3/28) because my original due date was 3/21. He pushed it out with the first ultrasound. Apparently if I go to week 41 I will be offered an induction and he recommended I take it. But in his words, "I would be surprised if you make it that far." Yah! Music to my ears and my burgeoning belly.
Many women get a final ultrasound at week 36 but apparently I don't unless the doctor thinks the baby is turned the wrong way. Interesting. The MBA in me wonders about the weekly doctor visits over the next 8 weeks compared to cost of an ultrasound. I might be willing to make a trade off if it was offered to me. But of course in the US health care system we are not offered choices like that.
I have been extremely fortunate with my pregnancy. Now that I'm at T minus 8 weeks, I figure I'm not inviting too much bad karma by talking about it openly in my blog. Of course this could mean that my labor will be hell, but that's a risk I'm taking regardless.
First off, I got pregnant at a great time of year. Sure, I look a little bigger in the more bulky winter clothing but I avoided pregnancy during the brutal hot months of the summer. Charlotte was blessed with a warm winter so aside from our trip to Massachusetts, I never had to deal with really cold, snowy or icy weather. And it will be well into fall once the baby arrives which means outdoor trips are not only doable but potentially pleasant.
For some reason I have been blessed with a lack of pregnancy symptoms. The only thing I've suffered from is a burgeoning waistline, some stretch marks for aforementioned waistline, occasional lower back pain and minor abdomen pains. Very occasional. All basically gone by the third trimester. I did suffer from some annoying carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms that seemed to appear only when I was relaxing in front of the TV or trying to fall asleep. But it was off and on and really only lasted a few weeks. I've had one or two bouts of heartburn but I had two bowls of chili on Sunday with nothing! And I'm carrying very high so I figure it would have kicked in by now if it was going to.
And finally, I have an amazingly supportive husband. He pitches in on everything without me even asking which is so nice! He was out raking the backyard on Sunday and didn't even bat an eyelash at my lazy ass reading the paper and watching TV. Of course I haven't really dragged him out for a big baby shopping trip so that might change. DH hates to shop. On the plus side for him I have been incredibly mellow with pregnancy. No crying outburst, conflicting emotions. Nada.
So what does this all mean? For me, it means I'm open to more kids down the road. Pregnancy hasn't been a big deal. But check in with me in 8 weeks and I might have a very different answer!
Sunday, February 1, 2009
Our teacher, Ann, was a very nice woman with 3 grown children of her own. I never got the feeling that she was pushing a particular agenda (natural childbirth only, breastfeeding only, etc.) which was nice and made me trust her a lot more. On Friday night we were joined by 8 other couples but one couple elected not to attend Saturday's session. It was a pretty homogeneous group. One half Taiwanese mother and one Indian father. All married couples and all within the 25-40 age range. It was pretty cool for me because there are no other pregnant women on my floor at work so it was nice to be surrounded by 7 other women who were going through the very same things I was. Unfortunately there was not a lot of time for socializing. Most couples were due in the mid to late March time frame with a couple being induced on 2/14 (she was on best rest and had a lot of blood clots in her legs) and one other due the first week of April (ironically on my birthday, April 6!).
Most of the class was focused on "classroom" style learning with slides and videos. The rest emphasized hands on practice of breathing and massage techniques.
The best part of the class for me was that it made childbirth seem much more real and less of an imagined activity. I have an overactive imagination so watching the videos really helped me to realistically visualize myself in that situation. It actually made me fear childbirth a lot less which I had not anticipated! However, I think it freaked out DH more, but I'll get into that in a minute.
Interestingly I responded best to the women who used a lot of movement in their labor. Of the three videos we saw, one woman went completely natural, one had Pitocin and some narcotics and the last had Pitocin and a full epidural. The woman who had the epidural was restrained in her movement which seemed to make labor longer (mentally). I had always anticipated having an epidural but now I am considering seeing how long I can go without one. When DH and I practiced the different positions for managing contractions I kept thinking to myself, "Sure, I am not actually having a contraction right now but I think I can do this!" We'll see how that stands up once they really start...
Every time the video showed the actual birth of the baby, DH had to look away. I was immensely interested and actually got a little teary eyed (in a good way) with the first one. After the first woman gave birth DH turned to me and said, "Are you sure they won't let you schedule a C section?" He got a little woozy at the first video and I had to tell him to turn away with the subsequent ones. I kept joking that he is going to pass out at some point during my labor. It could really happen folks! Now, in DH's defense, there was quite a bit of blood in each of the births related to the episiotemies that the women had to get. That shit definitely creeps me out too.
Ann told us that our hospital has a 90% epidural rate (!) which is extremely high but it is the main hospital and gets all the high risk pregnancies. The suburb facility has only a 50% rate which is much more in line with my expectations. Jeesh, from all the boards I read it should be more like 10%. People are extremely evangelistic about natural childbirth. I am much more of the mindset of whatever makes it work. My worst fear is that I labor for hours and hours only to be told that I have to have a C-section. All that work for nothing!
DH was pretty impressed that I already knew a lot about what to expect in labor and delivery. Um, since I'm the one that has to suffer through it I had to know as much as possible. But book reading (or Internet reading) is not the same as seeing an actual birth. I may be taping "A Baby Story" on TLC now to get even more educated.
DH and I are attending the maternity tour next week and a breastfeeding class the first week of March. He is also now interested in infant CPR so we'll try to fit that in too.
In other news, I am now 32 weeks and one day pregnant! The little one is 3.75 pounds (apparently the size of a jicama) and 16.7 inches long. Considering I feel her at the same time poking up very high on my ribs and the opposite side way down in my pelvis, I think our daughter is a bit longer. Or a gymnast. I have entered the "fattening up" period for the baby. I just hope that I don't gain too much on my end! I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow so we'll see. In other fun symptoms I am back up to multiple trips to the bathroom at night. Aside from that, I really can't complain.