Thursday, February 25, 2010

American Idol: Top 12 Guys Perform

Todrick Hall (24) is the actor/dancer of the competition. He decides to go with Kelly Clarkson's, "Since You've Been Gone." He totally changes up the arrangement and decides that doing a slam poetry version is the way to go. Not a good call. It doesn't show off any of his vocal skills and I question after that performance if he has any. I appreciate that Todrick is trying to make the song fresh but for a first performance I would have preferred to really hear him sing. Ellen appreciates the enthusiasm from the crowd but admits the singing wasn't the greatest. Randy is a fan but he didn't like the arrangement. Kara agrees with Randy. What the hell is she wearing? Simon nails it with a dancer trying to sing comment.

Aaron Kelly goes with a Rascal Flatt song and DH immediately comments on his lack of stage presence. He's obviously nervous. I wonder why he decided on a country song rather than an Aaron Carter one. They are doppelgangers after all. There are some pitchy notes but Aaron does get a little more comfortable as the song progresses. Simon shows some sympathy and calls it quite a good performance. He encourages Aaron to gain some confidence. Kara comments on his raw, natural talent. Randy agrees. I have a feeling that Randy will be getting the short end of the stick this season from me in my recaps. He's just so blah. Ellen loves it.

Jermaine Sellers (27) goes with "Get Here." Did we see him in the auditions? I can't remember him. Jermaine doesn't do himself any favors by picking this boring song. Wasn't this song the anthem of the first Iraq war? I seem to remember it being really popular and used for commercials and other background montages. Yes, I am that bored by Jermaine's performance that I'd prefer talking about the insipid song. Ellen loves his look and the song. Really, Ellen? She doesn't think he really felt the song. Randy didn't like the song selection but likes his look. Kara didn't think that the vocal runs were meaningful and it felt old. Simon thought Jermaine over-sang the song. And predicts that Jermaine is going home.

Tim Urban goes with a One Republic song, "Apologize." Good choice in that it's instantly recognizable. Bad choice in that he doesn't do it nearly as well as the lead singer for that band. The falsetto notes are absolutely terrible. But he has the Twilight hair so he could be safe, regardless. If the readers don't know, Tim replaced another contestant who was kicked out because of a previous recording contract. Simon references it and says that the judges were correct in not letting him through the first time. Kara said that the music overpowered him. Randy thinks it was the wrong song. Ellen feels bad for Tim.

I'm really feeling the fatigue of four judges commenting. Get rid of Randy or Kara and give that salary to Simon to stay on with a panel of only three judges. We meet Joe Munoz for the first time. He is the Mexican version of David Archuleta. He picks a Jason Mraz song. Joe is a good singer but has a weird warbling in his voice at times. DH likes him except for the mumbling. Ellen thinks Joe was really comfortable on stage. Randy didn't think it was the perfect song choice but that Joe has a great voice. Kara actually likes the song selection and thinks Joe has been the best so far. Simon kind of agrees with Kara but thinks Joe needs a lot of work.

Tyler Grady (23) is the broken wrist guy and decides to go with "American Woman." Most of us know this song as the Lenny Kravitz remake. It's a great song choice for his style. He does a decent job but his voice gets lost in the music occasionally. I expected a lot more energy and connection to the song than Tyler shows here. Simon thinks that people will remember the performance but for the wrong reasons. Kara agrees. The camera flashes on Tyler and he looks bored. Randy says it was style over substance. A pithy, accurate comment. There might be hope for Randy yet. Ellen thinks Tyler is a pale version of his '70s heroes.

Lee Dewyze (23) goes with "Chasing Cars" by Snow Patrol. I love this song! Winter of 2008 when we drove up North we must have heard it a 100 times. Got to love Sirius. He's the first guy to accompany himself on guitar. It's a great song selection for his voice but Lee changes it up with his more gravely intonations. A very good job. Ellen thought there was some screaming instead of singing but liked it overall. Randy disagrees with "E" and thought that Lee should have picked a rocker song. Wow, there is no winning for these contestants, is there? Kara agrees that the range was too small for Lee. Simon totally agrees with me and my heart breaks a little more that this is his last season.

John Park (21) is the token Asian. He goes with "God Bless The Child." A very, very interesting song selection and one that I think will bite him in the ass. John starts out very soft and boring. I think part of the problem is that the pitch is too low for him. Even when the song picks up I am still yawning. A long three minutes. Simon thinks that John's voice was flat and not good enough to sing the song. Kara agrees. Randy agrees. Ellen liked the performance and hopes that the audience votes for John.

Big Mike says how proud he is of his wife so I thaw a little at him missing the birth of his daughter. He goes with "This Love" by Maroon 5. A tough song. I did not realize he played the guitar...not that he did that much with it during the performance. It's a decent performance but, dare I say it? A little karaoke. He's totally safe though. He's got the good guy thing going for him. Ellen loves Mike's personality. Randy agrees. Kara enjoys the energy of the performance. Simon called it the support act before the main act. He thinks Mike can do better.

Alex Lambert picks "Wonderful World" and I feel like I should know this song but he doesn't do a good enough version of it for me to remember. You probably know Alex from the painfulness of the group round where he was a supporting player in the Mary Powers melt down. Unfortunately we seem him melt down on stage with a terrible performance. Simon was happy that the song was over. Kara wants to give Alex a hug. No need to keep shoveling shit on the poor boy. Randy also comments on Alex's potential. Given his lack of exposure during the audition rounds I have to take the judges' word for it. Ellen calls him adorable and comments on the mullet. Awesomeness.

Casey James goes with "Heaven." This guy did a 180 for me from his shirtless audition to his kick ass auditions at Hollywood week. True to form he accompanies himself on the guitar. And does a great job putting a more rock edge on a sappy pop song. DH notes that Simon and Ryan will totally play up the Kara/Casey angle all season long. And I have a feeling that Casey will be in the competition for a very long time. DH is totally right when the other judges make Kara go first. Kara comments on an occasional pitchiness. She lobs it over to Ellen who says that Kara was undressing Casey with her eyes. Randy makes a funny when saying they both share the model vibe. Simon comments on their shared good looks and really liked the performance. This guy is going far.

Who can top that performance? My boy Andrew Garcia. Yes, I'm actively rooting for this guy. I get a great David Cook vibe off of him. He selects "Sugar, I'm Going Down" by the Fallout Boys. I'm immediately nervous because I don't know this song. But not to worry, Andrew kicks some serious ass. He is excellent at controlling his voice, the pace and doing it all while playing the guitar. Andrew is extremely talented. After the first week, he could take the crown. Simon totally disagrees with me and calls it indulgent. OK, Simon. I have to pick on you for this one because he can't make crazy arrangement every single time. Kara thought it was a strange rendition of the song. I'm still standing strong with my label of awesomeness. Randy agrees with Kara and Simon. Ellen agrees with the other three. I'm ignoring them and still think Andrew was the best of the night.

So, who's out? Jermaine, John Park or Todrick. Also potentially on the chopping block is Alex Lambert.

SJ out.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

American Idol: Top 12 Ladies Perform

Paige Miles (24) is a pre-school teacher. I don't really remember her from the auditions but she appears to have a gospel vibe from the clip we see. She decides on "It's All Right Now" which is an interesting and frankly poor song choice. I'm not sure what is going on with this performance but it's pretty bad. When Paige gets to the chorus she sounds shaky. Aside from a few good notes and runs, the judges are going to eviscerate her. Let's listen, shall we? Simon thinks she has the best voice BUT hates the song for its wedding singer qualities. Kara disagrees and steps into the Paula role immediately. She thinks Paige was awesome. Randy agrees with both of them and continues his downward spiral. Ellen is looking gaunt these days, isn't she? I think it makes her look older. Unlike me and Simon Ellen thinks Paige pulls it off.

Up next is Ashley Rodriguez (23) from Cambridge. Ashley is one of my top picks. Let's see how she does. She picks a song from a Simon protege Leona Lewis, "Happy." Another interesting song choice. Ashley does a nice job but she's kind of boring. Perhaps she's afraid of peaking too early? Kara starts off first and mentions nice moments mixed with some criticism of the arrangement. Randy agrees. Ellen agrees. And apparently I am old because this is a hit? Simon calls it clumsy. Ashley has a lot of room for improvement and suffers from not being featured in the audition rounds. So she could be in trouble.

Janelle Wheeler (24) is another favorite of mine. She picks, "What About Love" by Heart. A classic and hard to do well. Another shaky start. It's a bad song selection for her type of voice. Simon is totally going to call it karaoke. These girls are really disappointing tonight. The judges are going round robin so Randy starts. He agrees with the poor song selection. Ellen loves the song and thinks Janelle sung it well with a couple of missed notes. Simon called it 100% effort and 65% excellence. Kara likes Janelle but the song was too big for her. I think that Janelle's niceness and blondness will get her through to next week.

We didn't see faux Stevie Nicks, Lilly Scott (20) until the end of the auditions. I'm vibing her and she selects "Fixing a Hole" by The Beatles and accompanies herself on the guitar. It's a nice song selection for her jazzy voice. Ellen really likes it and comments on Lilly's distinct voice. Simon calls it the best so far (not a high bar). He's also concerned that she isn't demonstrating star power. A good point. Kara calls her believable. Randy says Lilly is an indie artist.

"Oh Darlin'" Is the song selection by Katelyn Epperly. She looks vampy with her big hair, black hair ornament and black faux leather mini dress. Unlike most of the other performances Katelyn seems very comfortable on stage and polished. She could go far. Simon thought the performance was messy (should I clean my ears out?) and likes her. Kara thinks that Katelyn really knows her voice but doesn't like the makeover. Randy compliments her tone. Ellen thinks she has a great voice and a lot of personality on stage.

Country girl Hayley Vaughn (16) got her nose pierced as a reward for making it to Hollywood Week. She decides on the awesomeness that is "I Want To Hold Your Hand." And makes very poor arrangement and vocal decisions. I have never really understood why the judges have fawned over her. So this performance is not changing my mind. DH says if she makes the Top 12 Hayley will be his first elimination pick. I wish she wouldn't make it through to next week but she's young, cute and will have the tween vote. Kara thought the performance was a mess but Hayley's stage presence makes up for it. Randy loves her because she's 16. Enough said. Randy also nicknames Ellen "E". So "E" thinks Hayley shined. Simon thought it was verging on terrible. Word.

An hour in and Lacey Brown boldly selects, "Landslide." Considering I just heard the Stevie Nicks version on my iPod this afternoon I can't help but unfavorably compare Lacey's performance. She also does a weird slurring of words and makes it seem like she has a lisp. Seriously, go back and listen if you don't believe me. Randy dings Lacey on the song selection and said it was pitchy and terrible. Ellen thinks Lacey was better than that but expresses doubt she will be back next week. Simon called it depressing and indulgent. Given the harsh criticism I'm surprised that Lacey's not crying. Kara gives some advice on future song selection and says she hopes Lacey will be back.

Michelle Delamour picks "Falling" which is one of the better song selections tonight. Her vocals aren't as good as Alicia Keyes but she does a respectable job. DH calls it the best of the night. Ellen calls it fantastic but a little safe because it seemed easy for Michelle. Simon thinks it was professional but not a "wow" performance. Kara slips into her Paula shoes and thinks Michelle looks great. Randy says that it was great but she needs to take some risks. Totally safe.

Didi Benami decides on "The Way I Am" and cements the Brooke White comparison for me. With a dash of Meghan Coarkery thrown in for good measure. Good song and a good singer but a bit boring. Simon called it indulgent and trying too hard to sound like Duffy. Kara thinks the arrangement was nice. Randy agrees with Simon that Didi lacked a star factor. Ellen also thinks for a first impression song that it was a little too low key. I think Didi will be just fine.

Siobhan Magnus is the glassblowing apprentice. Love that. But I hate (even though I know it's the traditional Irish) the spelling of her name. She goes for the classic, "Wicked Game" by Chris Isaac. Remember how hot that video was? If I remember correctly Chris ended up dating or marrying that model. The flower in Siobhan's hair makes me think of Jasmine and it's a bit incongruous for her style. Siobhan does a nice job but it's a bit boring. Kara wouldn't have selected that song but liked it for Siobhan. Randy negatively compares it to her Stevie Wonder performance in auditions. Ellen loved it. Simon calls Siobhan a "funny little thing." He agrees with Randy but still liked it.

Crystal Bowersox (aka tattoo mom) goes for Alanis Morrissette's "Hand In My Pocket." Bold choice and a great fit for her style and voice. Crystal accompanies herself on guitar and harmonica. Unlike every other performance we've seen tonight she absolutely nails it. I see her going very, very far. Randy loves her originality but thinks it wasn't a good song selection. I disagree with the latter part of that statement. Ellen is a fan. Simon disparages her back story and thinks it wasn't very original because it was too close to Alanis' performance. He gives excellent advice for Crystal to become more like Adam Lambert and David Cook. Kara thinks Crystal has the ability to be great but isn't quite there.

Katie Stevens (17) decides on "Feeling Good." Not to channel Randy or anything but Katie's voice is really amazing for her age. Great control and big range. I think she'll easily make it to the Top 12. Ellen thinks it was great but the song was conservative for her age. Simon agrees with Ellen that Katie should pick a song more suited to her youth. Kara says the song was pitchy...I guess I need a hearing check because I didn't hear that. Randy thinks she has a big voice and will do better next time. The judges were a bit harsh but I think she will be around for many weeks to come. After all, Katie got the money spot for a reason.

So who's out? Lacey for sure. And I hope Hayley. Other than that, it's a crap shoot.

SJ out.

Cameron: eleven months old

Dear Cameron,

Your Daddy and I can't believe how awesome you are. This month has been a big turning point for you and you've handled it with grace and pizazz...keep that in mind when you enter the dreaded puberty years!

In your tenth month you moved from the Infant room to the Waddler room in school. And you have had a ball. It has also forced Mommy and Daddy to finally tackle baby proofing the house. Now you can pull yourself into a sitting position. And onto your knees. And finally up to your feet. You like to hold on to the furniture rather than Mommy or Daddy to walk around the room.

Your vocabulary has expanded although it is much more your listening vocabulary than your talking one. Although I distinctly heard a "Daddy!" while you were looking at him out the window. Lucky guy.

On the not so plus side you have also taken into ignoring us. True, the word "no" is becoming one of the more frequently used ones but so is "love". So I think it balances out. The head shake is back stronger than ever, particularly as it relates to food. You seem to have this aversion to eating for Mommy and Daddy but gobble everything up in school. I would be less insulted if you didn't consistently refuse pasta. Pasta! It's the lynch pin of the dining world so you will learn to love it.

Now that you have made great strides in mobility you would prefer to ignore your dozens of toys in favor of snatching at anything that is not yours. Sigh. I have a feeling that phase is going to last a very long time. You still screech with delight as you commando crawl across the floor. But now you also reward yourself with a scream when you have successfully pulled yourself up. All by yourself.
I can't believe how quickly you grew up in the last month. My little baby is almost a baby no more. We can't wait to see what you will do next.

Mommy and Daddy

Monday, February 22, 2010

The post where I admit I was wrong

It has been just over two weeks since Cameron was moved out of the little infant room into the Waddler room. I love that name because it is so apt. Ironic that pregnant women waddle too, isn't it? The plan is for Cameron to stay there until sometime after she hits the two mark. So I had better really like the teachers and the curriculum.

And guess what? I do! I know, I will pause here where you all gasp in shock that I am comfortable and happy with our daycare situation.

I really like the main teacher, Miss Melba. She is extremely engaged with the kids and always on the floor playing or singing to them. There is also a more defined curriculum than the eating, sleeping and pooping that we experienced in the Infant room. They teach them how to eat on their own, sitting in little chairs at a long table with their own bowls and plates and utensils. How freaking cute is that? Cameron is in the high chair but she'll be down there as soon as she starts walking. So basically any day.

Another adorable thing they have the the waddlers do is wash their hands after having their diapers changed. I actually got to witness this and I almost cried it was so cute. Miss Melba flipped Cameron over to her belly and had her move up to the attached sink. A dab of soap, splashes of water and a quick dry with a paper towel. I must try to take a video so I can post it here.

Cameron plays really, really hard all day long. Sometimes that means she only takes one nap. And guess what? I don't stress about it! I know, another shocking revelation from the sleep queen. We still leverage the third nap as a tool to keep Cameron from being overly tired. DH loves that he can just pick her up, she almost conks out in the car and he puts her down for a 45 minute or hour nap.

I'm also convinced that the physical development Cameron has shown over the past week is due in no small part to watching and learning from the other waddlers. She absolutely loves to watch the "older" kids and emulate them. My little munchkin is growing up far too quickly!

A nice tasty treat for Cameron as a reward for pulling herself up.
Annoyance at having her picture taken. AGAIN.
I knew that Cameron would love playing with this enormous packages of toilet paper. Isn't it funny how kids get enthralled with odd things?
A rare Cameron and Mommy shot.
Um, think it is time for us to baby proof? So far we've installed the interior latches for key (aka low) cabinets and drawers and also installed baby gates at the top and bottom of the stairs. That's it for now. But I'm sure we'll need to do more as Cameron starts really walking.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Almost there

Cameron has made huge strides in her physical development over the past week. I can't believe it's only been a week, that's how far she has come. While Cameron insists on continuing her commando crawling she has now figured out how to bring herself into a sitting position. And pull herself up on just about everything. And perhaps the scariest development of all? Well, check out the video and you'll see!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

American Idol: Top 24 Part 2

The first part of the recap on who has been ushered through to potential stardom (or obscurity if you are Taylor Hicks) can be found here.

Despite Simon not remembering her, Janell Wheeler does a nice job with her first round in Hollywood Week. Not so good were her group and final auditions. She seems genuinely nice and is also very pretty and blond. That will help because she is in. I'm sure it will also help that she's willing to wear micro-minis.

Tyler Grady comes up and Kara is kind of in love with him. If you don't remember him he is the guy who fell out of a tree and broke both wrists. With his hair and lean looks it seems like Casey has some competition! He is designated Boy #5 and more hopes are dashed in the waiting room. I kind of like Tyler's sense of humor and fell a little bit in love with him when he smoothly shook Ryan's hand post The Chair and didn't say anything else.

We get a flashback from last season when we see the end of the sing off between current contestant Lacey Brown and Megan Joy. Dude, remember Megan? She of the weird voice who lasted far too long with her crazy dance moves? Somehow despite losing to the awfulness that was Megan and Simon announcing that the ladies' competition was uber strong this season she makes it as girl #5. I miss the sing off. It's probably the only thing I miss from last season.

Ashley Rodriguez who I'm sure Ryan will nickname A-Rod due to his level of originality is one of the most talented girls, in my opinion. She is quickly through. Let me pause here for a minute to talk about air time vs. success in the America votes part of the competition. I actually think that a few special cases aside (I'm looking at you Gokey), the contestants who get the most audition air time tend to do worse overall. Do I have statistics to back me up? Nope. Just a gut feel after watching 7 previous seasons. Yes, that's right. I didn't see the first season. Don't judge.

Alex Lambert and Joe Munoz are quickly guy #6 and #7. I'm sure I will incorrectly call Alex "Adam" until he is voted off.

Crystal Bowersox, she of the new tattoo to honor her son, is up next. Simon rightly tells her that she appears to think she is too good for the show. But her voice is all kinds of awesomeness. I do hope that she makes it to the makeover portion of the show so that she can get veneers or at least teeth whitening done by the show. I think she has a chance to go far but I do hope she gets rid of the dread locks before the live show starts. I didn't like it on Castro and I definitely don't like it on her.

Post montage of people who have already been let through we see Katie Stevens again. Her particular sob story is that of a grandmother with Alzheimer's. She's very cute and I think if she makes it she will go to the Top 12. Ellen doesn't screw with her very much and Katie is in.

Quick montage of people who don't make it. Thank goodness weird glasses girl was among them. Also cut was squeaky voice girl who flew from Italy to audition. Angela Martin is in her third attempt to make it. You might remember Angela as the girl who had to leave Hollywood Week last year because she had a bench warrant out against her. A dead daddy and a daughter with serious mental and health issues Angela probably has the best/worst sob story of them all. To no avail, however, as she is cut.

Lilly Scott has a wonderful jazz style. I commented before how much she sounds like Ella Fitzgerald. Interestingly her look is more reminiscent of Stevie Nicks. She needs to lay of the eye liner. The judges make the right call and Lilly is in the Top 24.

Paige Miles who we've never seen is through as is Siobhan (glass blower). Side note, DH toyed with the idea of naming Cameron Siobhan before she was born. I put the kibosh on it quickly. Even reading it now I have to struggle to pronounce it. Yes, I know how to say it but the letters don't match the pronunciation.

Also through is Michelle Delamor, Jermaine S and John Park.

Haeley Vaughn is in and Tori Kelly is OUT. Sorry, a little Heidi Klum flashback there. Haeley has a chance to do really well or completely crash and burn. Song selection will be critical for the wanna be black country singer.

Thaddeus Johnson vs. Andrew Garcia. Thad has this odd Kid 'N Play vibe with his hair. His mother is a little too enthusiastic. DH said he's be in but there are no girl spots left. Cruel but also factual. Does anyone even wonder who is in? I thought not. Andrew Garcia is a little old for the competition, and, let's face it, he's probably the least attractive of all the guys, but there's something about his style I really like.

OK, time to wrap it up.

Aaron Kelly
Todrick Hall
Alex Lambert
Casey James
John Park
Jose Munoz
Jermaine Sellers
Tim Urban
Lee DeWyze
Michael Lynche
Tyler Grady

Ashley Rodriguez
Haeley Vaughn
Janell Wheeler
Katelyn Epperly
Katie Stevens
Lacey Brown
Lilly Scott
Michelle Delamor
Didi Bemani
Crystal Bowersox
Paige Miles
Siobhan Magnus

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Hollywood Week: Top 24

Apparently I didn't miss much by not completing the last episode since only 7 of the Top 24 were revealed. Before I get started with the results I do have to admit that I am dragging this season on posting recaps of the show. I need some inspiration to keep going as the two hour twice a week shows get started next week. So if you want me to keep the recaps up, please post a comment!

I found a great article on the myths and realities of the audition process if you are interested. You can find the article here. And I breath a sigh of relief that the audition process is officially over after tonight.

Up first to face the Chair is the baby daddy, Michael Lynche. I liked this guy in all of his auditions but think he won't go too far in the regular competition. He just doesn't have the range of many of the other guys. Oh, did I forget to mention he's in after crying his way from the waiting room to The Chair on stage? Well, it's no wonder because his dad spilled the beans to the entire world a few weeks ago and almost got Big Mike kicked out. Good job, Grandpa!

Following Michael is Didi who I really, really liked in her original audition even if she did suck up to Kara by singing one of her songs. She reminds me of all the good things I liked about Brooke White. We also found out (or were supposed to know already? so hard to keep track of the sob stories) that her best friend kicked the bucket and that was her inspiration for trying out. It also lead to her ASPCA Sarah McLachlan song. After being dicked around for a bit she's in. Guess what? She cries. I feel like I should create a macro for that phrase. We'll see it a lot this season.

Two up and two in. The more intelligent contestants (is that an oxymoron?) are probably counting their odds and not liking it.

Another girl, Katelyn Epperly is invited to The Chair next. I vaguely remember her whining about her parents' divorce in the auditions. Katelyn has hair that reminds me of my college freshman roommate. AKA awesome. Ellen does an excellent job of screwing with her but Katelyn is in. I don't think she'll make the Top 12, however. She is just a little too serious and not in a good Adam Lambert kind of way.

A third girl, Shelby, who didn't do so well at Hollywood Week aside from her last performance, is up next. As she properly notes, her odds are not good and we say good-bye to her hopes for the Top 24. Simon liked her so Shelby could have gone far (because we all know Simon is usually right) but majority rules and Randy gives the pink slip. DH is happy because of her oddly tilted mouth. He wasn't looking forward to seeing her talk out of only one side of her mouth regularly.

Casey Jones who completely redeemed himself from his embarrassing shirtless, hair down audition is the next guy to approach the stage. He did a really great job at Hollywood Week and I think aside from his audition faux paux he has a shot to go pretty far. After all, Casey can play an instrument and has a good package. What? I was talking about the singing, playing and overall look. Needless to say, after a quick reference to his flowing locks, Casey is through. The only caveat to Casey's potential success is that his personality isn't so great. He needs to work on that. We'll see how he does kibitzing with Ryan.

A teeny bopper type, Aaron Kelly follows. He made the unpardonable sin of forgetting the lyrics during group sing. Aaron really has a Federline type thing going, doesn't he? We didn't see much of Aaron during auditions but he has a nice talent and the tweens will love him. Ellen wants to pet him and tells Aaron he's through.

Lee D. didn't do so well during auditions including forgetting the words to one of the biggest hits of 2009. He's obviously not making it through but we still have to suffer through his clips. Kara in her space worthy shirt questions Lee's commitment to being a star and owning the stage. Somehow Lee skates through and I scratch my head for the first time.

Todrick who should go an audition for a dance show is up next. He's the guy who we saw performing back flips constantly. Todrick compares himself to Fantasia despite no experience singing. Kara doesn't even say anything other than "yes."

Moving right along, we see Jessica Furney. She strikes me as a little bit of a stalker. Attempting to appear cool she lounges in the leather Chair. Total wimp move to replace the stark Chair of past seasons. Regardless, Randy cuts her quickly and Jessica starts begging. Not a good look. Despite the montage of happy Top 24 contestants we kind of end on a low note.

OK, American Idol decided to screw with me so I will not be recapping the 7 guys and 10 girls still be announced until tomorrow. I will note that aside from Todrick, so far the leaked Top 24 list from a few weeks ago is accurate.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

American Idol: Hollywood Week Round 3

This is it, kids. The last round of auditions before The Chair. Two hours? Jeesh, I should have picked up some wine on the way home.

Ryan introduces us to the trials and tribulations that got the contestants to this point. I roll my eyes at him. 71 contestants are left for the final round. Per usual they will be broken up into rooms and told which of the three rooms goes on to the next round.

Immediately DH spots a few good contestants in room 1 and thinks they are going through. With the feature of some good black girl in room 3 DH predicts that room 2 is going home. Is he right? We'll see shortly. Or at least as shortly as I can hope for in a two hour show.

Ryan keeps showing us performances from Hollywood Week. I sigh and realize that the 2 hours is because of filler. Before we go to break Ryan tells us that we will see the Top 24 announced this episode. WTF? They better not be eliminating The Chair. That shit is solid gold drama.

Does anyone else laugh that the producers put these kids in barren hotel conference rooms? I mean, not even a chair! Or at least booze like in Top Chef to get them through it. Ryan keeps trying to get me to root for Jermaine and I'm not having it. Brick House and Man in the Mirror? Plus he tries to tell the judges the band fucked up? Not cool.

Siobhan is a glass blowing apprentice. How freaking cool is that? But apparently she wants to be a star too and not just work in Renaissance Fairs. We see Crystal Bowersox again who is the tattoo ladden mom. And I can't help but want to email my old classmate Mike Bowersox and ask if she is related to him. She does well in her last audition and I'd be surprised if she doesn't make it through.

Up next is Adam someone or other who didn't have much personality but has a nice voice. He had the misfortune to be in Mary Powers' group. For his last audition he does a nice job with a ubiquitous Jason Mraz song. Big Mike also put his new baby daddy spin on the same song. Tondrick Hall (he of the back flips) put his own spin on the song and I stretch in boredom.

Thaddeus Johnson's mother decided she would stage parent her son all the way to the Top 24. No pressure kid. DH calls Thaddeus the "daughter his mother always wanted." Cruel but true. The band starts the wrong song for him but Thaddeus shows some humor and busts out a decent version of Man in the Mirror. Is it too much to hope we don't have a Michael Jackson tribute this season? After the Grammys I'm feeling tapped out.

DH and I mock the carpet pattern in the hotel rooms as Ryan brings us to room 2. Up first to tug our heartstrings is Charity Vance. I remain dead inside and think DH's prediction could be correct. Up next is one of the many minster related contestants. I can't remember her name but I remember liking her voice a lot. When Ryan shows us Mary Powers in room 2 I line up behind DH and place money that room 2 is out. Mary's mediocre Katy Perry performance seals the deal.

As Ryan keeps nattering on and on and on I wonder why none of these contestants have an iPad or video iPod or even a book. I can only assume the producers cut them off so to increase the drama. As I ponder this question the dock worker shows us another mediocre Man in the Mirror performance. I'm guessing they only had a short list of songs to choose from.

Hope Johnson, another casualty of Mary Powers' group, mangles a Daughtry song. Ryan is really stacking the deck against these contestants in room 2.

Moving on, 40 minutes in, to room 3. Ryan mentions 7 or 8 contestants including Shelby who auditioned in Atlanta and swore her way through to Hollywood. We see an embarrassing snippet of her missing the words, stressing out and crying. Don't worry honey, if you make it to the Top 24 it's not like you'll have to remember a song a week or anything. Shelby manages to pull it off pretty well in the final audition but it's far from great. DH wonders if her face really did freeze that way.

Aaron Kelly goes through his family soap opera. He decides to go with the ASPCA classic, Arms of the Angel. Ashley Rodriguez is featured next and DH still claims she will be in the Top 10. Quick cuts of three more contestants including the wanna be black country singer, Hayley Vaughn. She wears a flower in her hair for her final audition and I shudder thinking of Jasmine from two seasons ago. Or was it three?

Jannell Wheeler whines about being sick but picks a (the only) Taylor Swift song I like and does OK. She thinks she didn't do well and we hear more Doubting Thomases via the joys of editing.

Finally, at least I hope so, Ryan takes us to the break and promises us that we will see the cuts when we come back. I urge him to hurry up so we can get to The Chair.

Dammit. More scenes from room 1 contestants. But id does show us Andrew Garcia so it will be no surprise when they are safe. Room 2 includes all of the "fighters." With Mary Powers there, I don't doubt it. Room 3 is up and down room. Needless to say, room 1 is through first. Ellen tries to screw with them a little but she doesn't make them wait too long. Their screams of joy clearly echo to the other two rooms who know they now have a 50/50 shot of making it to The Chair.

Minute 58 and we just caught up to the live show. Crap, I hate that. I'd watch the Olympics for a bit but Lost is taping too. Stupid DVR that can't tape two shows AND let me watch a third.

Room 2 is up next and Simon breaks it pretty gently to them. Looks like DH was right. We need to take him to Vegas. Of course, that means room 3 is in. So far so good. Aside from a few minor quibbles, I generally agree with the judges.

The contestants cheer and dance and I do my own happy dance singing (badly), "The Chair, the chair, it's time for the chair!" This year the contestants don't go up an elevator. Instead they have to walk down to the stage of the Kodak Theatre. But at the end of the walks we will have our Top 24.

Sorry everyone but I'm for bed. Yes, I am that pathetic but I promise a second recap with The Chair tomorrow evening.

SJ out.

Cure for the snoring blues?

DH and I are normally very compatible sleepers. We both enjoy quiet (no TV in our room!), a little on the chilly side and of course, Charlie snuggled right between us. Unfortunately that quiet has been broken by the loud sound of snoring.

It all started about a month ago when Cameron, DH and I all got sick in a row. DH was miserable and I got tired of telling him to roll over and stop snoring. I am an extraordinarily light sleeper so as soon as he started I would wake up. Pure torture. So one night at about 2 AM I went into the guest room, drew the blinds and slept wonderfully.

Fast forward a few more weeks and now I am the one torturing DH with the dulcet tones of my snores. For a few nights it didn't wake him until 4 or 5 AM. He did what he usually does and decided to just get up for the day. Crazy, isn't he? I mean, I have no problem falling back to sleep at any point during the night/morning. Even if it is 5 minutes before I'm supposed to get up!

This weekend was particularly bad as I continued with congestion. DH ended up retreating to the guest room twice. Finally last night I told him that I would just sleep in the guest room from the get go so that we could both get some decent sleep. And it was heavenly! No DH telling me to roll over a hundred times in a row. No loud snores from me to wake him up and cause him to lie there fuming. And if I were him, I'd totally be fuming.

So, has anyone else experienced this situation in your marriage or relationships? What did you do to conquer the snoring blues? Will DH and I be destined to sleep apart several nights a week just to get sleep?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Lost, Ugly Betty and other TV thoughts

My grandmother is probably appalled that I am writing a third post in a row about TV but hey, I am a child of the 80s! I promise to follow up with a cute Cameron post.

Last week ABC announced that they were not going to renew Ugly Betty. And I found myself bummed. I was considering dropping this show from my play list earlier in the season but have been impressed with the new story lines and advancement of the shows characters. I love the look of the show with the white walls and bright colors and most of the characters are endearing, even Vanessa Williams' character. Apparently I am a poor predictor of America's taste because last year I predicted that The Forgotten would last maybe a handful of episodes. But Christian Slater seems to have found his TV vehicle and the show is still around. Anyone else have a secret crush on Ugly Betty and wishes it had been renewed?

Last night I sat down to watch Lost. And perhaps it was the two (OK, three) glasses of wine, but I was extremely disappointed. I have loved the juxtaposition of story lines last season (Losties on the Island, Losties in LA) but don't think that it is working this season. Kate's interactions with Claire felt forced like the writers knew they needed the two characters to be connected in the alternate timeline and did it in the sloppiest way possible. I'm also not sure I like the new Others that have been introduced. I was looking forward to having more answers (and true, we have gotten some, like "Locke" being the smoke monster) and feel like by introducing a whole new group of people we are still getting more questions and characters that aren't insisting on answers. I realize that not every episode can be flawless and I hope that the writers were just trying to advance the plot and that resulted in the sloppy dialogue. There were actual times that I laughed out loud at the dialogue. Like when Hurley and Miles agreed to leave Jack alone with Sayid. I don't have the dialogue on hand but let me assure you that real people would never talk like that.

I'm worried that Lost will end up going down the X-Files rat hole. The X-Files knew it was ending so it attempted to wrap up lots of loose ends with its mythology. Instead it ended up contradicting itself and leaving a sour taste in my mouth. I'm hopeful that because the writers on Lost have known this season was to be the last for a long time that they will weave a tapestry equal to Jacob's. If you are a Lost fanatic, I encourage you to check out my friend Helen's blog for more insights and discussions. What do you think about the final season? Living up to the hype?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

American Idol: Hollywood Week Group Auditions

Contestants rightly hate this portion of the auditions. Frankly I don't understand why the producers insist on it. After all, the only group portions of the regular show are disjointed and lack any kind of real choreography. Plus if the judges like you then they will pass you through anyway. So really it is just the contestants on the line who are up for cutting.

Starting the round are 96 contestants who get to self select groups. Really it would be better to have random assignments. It might save us, the suffering audience, some of the drama. Adding insult to injury they also have to come up with group names. I had flashbacks to RA training. This shit is so juvenile.

Ryan introduces us to a few groups that are guaranteed to provide drama. We witness no real leadership, arguments over songs and lots of pandering to the cameras.

I'm going to be honest hear and write that Ryan throws out a lot of names in a very short amount of time so I find it hard to keep track of who is who. So let's just roll with it, shall we? Mary Powers steps up to try and take control of her group. She's a bit bratty about it but at 28 she's a decade older than most of the others so I can appreciate her frustration. After wasting a lot of time they decide to go with a group of 5.

Contestants whine about not having appropriate practice space. I feel zero sympathy. Don't they have hotel rooms?

Big Mike and Team Awesome appear to have their shit together. His wife is also the most understanding woman in the world as she labors along.

Contestants whine about how late it is and how tired they are. The vocal coaches make their onscreen appearance and seem to help more than hinder.

Coming back from the break, Ryan welcomes us to the early morning practices. Some contestants seem energized and optimistic. It won't last. Guaranteeing the slide into chaos are snippets of contestant forgetting the words.

Mary Powers whines that she's not having fun. She is rapidly slipping into annoying territory for me and I wouldn't be sad to see her go. Given the amount of airtime she's getting I will place odds that she is not one of the Top 24. If she was, the producers would be showing her in a much better light. Alternatively, Big Mike gets a Vaseline focused camera angle and lots of love from the editors. Apparently he is helping to talk his wife through the birth of his daughter. I doubt it helps his wife very much.

Family drama done, the group auditions start with Faith. They are a small group of three and harmonize pretty well. DH predicts Ashley will be in the Top 10. The entire group breezes through.

Team Awesome also does a good job but Ryan makes us wait until after the break to find out that Big Mike and Tim Urban are the two who make it through. I don't have to wait because I have a DVR. Suck it, Ryan! We see a shot of Big Mike's daughter and she is very cute with a full head of hair.

Team Neapolitan sings Lady Gaga and Destiny's Wild throws a bunch of bitch faces around because Team Neapolitan "stole" their idea. Up next, is Destiny's Wild and I have to admit it looks like they are third rate compared to Team Neapolitan. I'm sure they were frustrated which didn't help. But the judges seemed to like it so both groups make it to the next round.

Montage of good performances. At this rate the judges won't be cutting very many contestants. I'm impressed with how the groups have come together.

Featured next are the Mighty Rangers who admit that they didn't really practice. DH thinks glasses girl is annoying and wonders how many super sized glasses she owns. For the first time we see a crash and burn with lyrics. One of the guys who is cut whines and cries and asks for second chance. Kara and Simon quickly put the kibosh on that.

A contestant quits before her group's performance. She didn't want to embarrass herself. The vocal coach assures them that not much should change for them. Morea, at Hollywood Week for a second time with the same song, forgets her lines. Unforgivable in mine and Simon's estimation so she goes home.

Montage of contestants struggling with Gwen Stefani's "Sweet Escape." Why would they pick a song with that many lyrics? Dumb song selection. Big Dreams is the last group to tackle this song and features the guy who spent four years in jail and a girl who begged her way to Hollywood. They all do terribly. And they all go home.

I'm bored so I notice that the judges are drinking out of Vitamin Water cups instead of the standard Coke ones. I heart Vitamin Water so I approve.

Ryan tells us that lots of people are sent home that we should remember from the city auditions. I don't. Except for Tourette's guy. Because how could you forget him?

Middle C has a trio of very talented performers and easily make it through as do Three Men And A Baby. The producers saved the best drama for last and The Dreamers are up. Mary continues her path to "dead to me" with her attitude. I totally did a 180 on this girl in a single hour. Well, done, Mary!

The Dreamers do not disappoint with missed lyrics, mediocre melodies and off key notes. Somehow, against all odds, Mary, Alex and Hope make it to the next round. But I am now actively routing against Mary.

71 out of 96 move on to the last audition rounds before The Chair. I love the Chair. I'm ready for it now. But until then we have one more solo round. And we are thankful that group rounds are done for another year.

SJ out.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

American Idol: Hollywood Week Round 1

7 cities
181 potential contestants
The tears
The sob stories
The drama
The screaming
This is American Idol

Finally the auditions are over. Is it just me or do they get longer each year? Ellen Degeneres joins the judging panel and we bid a not-so-fond fairwell to the mediocre guest judges. The first round is Sudden Death and the contestants are allowed to accompany themselves with instruments.

Up first is Katie who has the grandmother with Alzeheimers. She is good and easily moves on. Not moving on, thank goodness is Skiiboski. My love for Ellen notches up considerable when she informs him that he crossed the sexy line into scary territory. Did anyone else think of Barney's crazy/hot scale?

Andrew Garcia tackles "Straight Up" with his own version accompanied by guitar. He does a great job and the judges love good interpretations. He doesn't have one of the stronger voices but he is smart and will go far.

In his group is Vanessa Wolfe who has the thickest twang I've heard in a long time and I live in the South. She gets a lot of airtime but not enough confidence. But hey, at least she got to go on the aero-plane.

Montage of crying people who thought they had the ticket to fame and fortune.

Three mediocre contestants are featured but they all sucked and are cut so I won't waste your time.

Janell Wheeler is one of the few contestants with a real job (lots of food service, unemployed and students this season). She does a nice job and I applaud the judges sending her through.

Montage of people making poor choices in accompanying themselves on instruments

Haeley Vaughn wants to be the first black country singer (doesn't Hootie count?). Unfortunately she is very pitchy although Randy likes her because she is 16. Apparently I know nothing because she is passed on to Round 2.

Mary Powers is a 28 year old rocker mom who's child loves Simon (good choice). She picks a Pink song which is excellent for her range and style. She easily moves on. Mary thinks her life is going to change, you have to make it all the way first, honey.

Ellen fucks with the contestants by making them move forward and back before telling them they are all in. Love it!

Montage of people I don't remember or never saw from auditions.

Of the 50% seen so far, 46 make it to round 2

Lilly Scott shows us the view from her hotel room. A parking lot isn't exactly a good view....She picks an Ella Fitzgerald song that suits her voice amazingly and the judges love her. I predict she will go far.

Big Mike Lynche gets a phone call that his wife's water has broken. As a fairly new mom myself let me be upfront that I would have killed DH if he wasn't there for Cameron's birth. Taking my judgemental hat off, Mike sings well and can play the guitar and isn't too tacky in pandering to the judges with his baby news.

The next group features Tim Urban and Justin Williams. Tim Urban decides to tackle a David Cook song and his voice dropped an octave since the auditions. Cancer survivor and hottie Justin Williams is kind of boring and gives weird looks while singing. Randy calls it interesting which is never good. Predictable he is out. He is also the only one not moving on from his whole group which has to suck even more.

Montage of people getting cut that I don't really remember. The Jersey girls were cut, thank goodness. They were uber annoying for me in the auditions.

Maddy Curtis is 16 (so Randy loves her) and has 4 brothers with Down's Syndrome. She hits a high note that makes me wince but recovers. Her song selection was poor and Simon backs me up. Unfortunately it is her undoing and she cries her way out of Hollywood.

Casey James is the guy who took off his shirt to make it to Hollywood. I hated that but he's actually much better than his audition and I think having the guitar helps. He easily makes it through.

Wow, a lot quicker hour than the city auditions! The last group lines up to go onstage and we get a flashback to a weepy waitress named Didi Benami. She sucks up to Kara by picking one of her songs. She has a Joss Stone vibe about her and easily makes it through.

Crystal Bowersox is a single mom who decides to get a tattoo for luck. I hope she didn't get it in a place where the guitar strap will rub it. She does a nice job with "Natural Woman" but needs some serious dental work if she makes it to the Top 24. Like Didi she moves right along.

Ryan closes out the episode with another montage, this time of happy, screaming people. 95 people out of 181 are moving to Round 2. Dare I hope that the level of drama in group auditions will surpass last season? I'm sure the producers are planning on it!

SJ out.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Video fun

I haven't been very good about taking videos lately. It seems like Cameron does something amazingly cute or funny and once DH or I pick up the camera she stops. Take her picture? No problem, Cameron will totally ham it up. But use the same exact device to take a video? No way. It's like she has a sixth sense that I've scrolled away from picture mode to video mode.

But we were fortunate last week to capture two very cute clips of Cameron having a ball. Enjoy!

Cameron does a trust fall with Daddy.

Cameron is fascinated by Mommy's sleeve. This is the first time that we've heard Cameron make a full on belly laugh. So cute!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

There's something about that hat

I have a winter hat. It's probably four or more years old. I think I got it marked down from Old Navy one spring. It's gotten kind of dingy over the years but it's simple and it keeps my head warm. What more to ask for?

I'm always cold. It's a running joke between me and DH. So during the two week cold snap in Charlotte I found myself wearing it indoors. After all, everyone knows you lose 85% of your body heat through your head. Right? Well, maybe not.

So I was keeping myself warm through my cozy hat and my thick woolen socks. But Cameron saw my hat as something more than just a utlitarian piece of clothing. She saw something hysterical. I picked Cameron up while wearing the hat and she immediately screeched in happiness and started tugging at the brim. Now all I have to do to get her in a good mood is put the hat on, pick her up and let her pull the hat down over my eyes.

Here is my hat...keeping me warm and Cameron happy the winter of 2009/2010.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Moving on up

Tomorrow will be Cameron's last day in the infant room. Sniff. My little baby at ten months old is moving up to the older infant room. Fortunately she already knows the teachers because she's spent some time there. Plus, we will still drop her off in the same room as the older and younger infants are together until critical mass is reached and they separate off into different rooms.

This past weekend DH and I chatted about the timing for moving her to the next room and when I dropped Cameron off on Monday I spoke with her main teacher about it. Coincidentally, Miss Tanya told me she had been thinking the same thing...I guess great minds really do think alike! I wasn't quite prepared for how quickly it would happen but Cameron is by far the oldest in the young infant room, by a few months.

I'm hopeful that it will help Cameron developmentally. She has plateaued a bit with her crawling and pulling up skills. All of the older infants are walking so I have a feeling it will serve as an inspiration to her. Not that we've even baby proofed yet! In speaking with one of her "new" teachers I learned that all of the kids go down for naps right after breakfast and a little bit after lunch. That meshes nicely with Cameron's nap schedule so an added benefit could be longer naps. Of course the correlated effect would be dropping her third nap but I don't know of many other 10 month olds who still regularly take a third nap, do you?

I know that every daycare is set up differently but for those of you who experienced the younger/older infant split, how did your kid(s) handle the transition? Anything I should be aware of or ask about before Monday rolls around?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Tuesday randomness

Yesterday Cameron's daycare was closed until 9 AM. I am still flabbergasted that a minor ice storm (aka wintery mix) on Friday night resulted in a complete shut down until today. At least I was able to get Cameron to daycare at a reasonable hour and could chug through the rest of my work day. Many other parents weren't so lucky. Question for my readers, how do you decide who stays home with your kid(s) when they are sick or daycare is closed and you both have to work? DH and I have been trading off depending on work schedules. But we both hope it is a rare occurrence in general.

My friends know how much I love a "meet cute" movie which is why Lifetime is such a good movie channel for me. DH makes fun of me constantly for it. Usually I don't tape the Danielle Steel or other crime/romance stories but I love, love, love the contrived work/romance situations. The required ingredients include: couple meets cute, series of misunderstandings, multiple montage scenes, some kind of big speech, and happily ever after epilogue scene. If I'm really lucky then it also includes a dance scene. Movies that fall into this category include: 13 Going on 30, The Cutting Edge, Enchanted, etc. So I was thrilled to come across a commercial for Lying To Be Perfect. Before you ask, I only see these commercials during Project Runway or re-runs of How I Met Your Mother. If you like cheesy movies as much as me I recommend you add it to your DVR list. Totally cute!

I'm about halfway through a great book about kids and eating that Laura recommended: Child of Mine. It's already helped re-adjust my mindset about feeding Cameron. The biggest takeaway for me? Cameron is responsible for eating. Yup. Seems like common sense, right? But between breastfeeding, pumping, bottles and all the rest I ended up in a bad place thinking that I needed to be able to control how much and when she eats. Now I know better. So thanks to Laura for her recommendation!

I recently opened a savings account with BigFinance. DH and I already had a checking account but because of a few special offers and other considerations (despite a piss poor interest rate) I decided to open a savings account too. When I set it up online I didn't have DH's social security number handy so I opened it by myself and planned to add him later. The catch? I can't just add him online or through the phone. Nope, they have to mail me a form that we sign and send back and about two weeks later he can see the savings account information online. I'm also annoyed because they sent me a separate ATM card. Um, why can't it be linked to my current checking account? So I have to carve out some time to call and figure it all out.

In good bureaucracy news I receive my new passport. I think it took about 3 weeks total between mailing the completed form and receiving my new and old one back. So I have to give it up to the US State Department. Good job guys! Now if I have to flee the country I don't have to file for an expedite. Question: have any of you gotten passports for your kids? How does that work? I assume exactly the same way but it expires faster?

Enough randomness for the day...I'm off to go wrangle BigFinance. Wish me luck!