Sunday, November 27, 2011

It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday

Thanksgiving week began as it always does ~ shopping for food, attempting to clean the house, the realization that there will be way too much food and how does that happen ever single year? Tuesday I went to Alex's school and had a Thanksgiving feast, complete with chicken nuggets (which were a LOT more popular than my homemade turkey dressing, let me tell you). And through it all, the weather was that freaky mid-Atlantic November weather. Monday and Tuesday it rained like a mug, and Wednesday and Thursday were so gorgeous you didn't need a jacket and you're all...okay I'm loving this but it's going to have to chilly up a bit for Christmas.

Through it all, I remember feeling so thankful. The way the leaves fell off the trees. The way my kid will re-enact the Lion King (and ask me to be Rafiki to write on his forehead). Even for too much food. For my pedicure. For a house about to implode with dirty laundry. Big and small, I remembered being so thankful, and saying a prayer for those less fortunate than me.

And then...

Thanksgiving weekend I lost one of my best friends. And I'm a mess. Kevin is the strong one. That's what we do. I cry over sad movies. He makes fun of my ugly pants. He sits at the edge of my dining room table and shakes his head at my disorganization. My son calls him Uncle Kevin. His daughters call me Auntie Tye..well, the littlest one does. His older daughters just call me, simply Tyuana.

I look for God's Grace whenever and wherever I can. I know it's there...and I know He will show it to me...if I can only look past how absolutely heartbroken I am. My heart breaks for his children, for his family, and yes, for me. Kevin was the brother God gave me because I didn't have any of my own. Kevin put me on a plane to my parents house when I went through the worst break up ever. Kevin ALWAYS made me matter how bad my mood was. He had an ear for everyone, he was always willing to listen. But he wasn't always willing to talk. I would always pry for information and he'd call me nosey and I'd be that's news. Several years ago, before either of us were married, we hopped to 4 different Thanxgivings...that was epic. I ate at all 4 places...thought I would die, but each house offered something different. That was the first time I met all of Kevin's family...I love them. They are family to me, because they are his family. Then there was the time, when we still worked together (this still makes me laugh), I had to talk to him about work...but he wasn't answering me...I kept talking and talking and finally he shushes me and turns up the radio. Barry White was playing...he turns it up and just starts singing...and I'm like...UH HELLO? And he simply's Barry. Recently, when the pace of cheering and working and parenting and life had caught up with me, and I hadn't seen him in a while...he just said, slow down. Kevin always hated Doctor Phil because he said that man got rich dispensing common sense. He was a man of few words (unless he was going on one of his famous, funnier than Dennis Miller rants), but all of his words had meaning. To me. To his family. To his children. To my child.

Walter always said that Kevin could say the things he was thinking and not get in trouble for it. So it was usually Kevin that would tell me that I spent too much money, or that my pants were hideous...or gently, that I could stand to hit the gym. But he only did it when I wanted to go. He told me once...if you were happy, I'd never say anything. I'm just reminding you of what YOU want.

There was the time his middle daughter, out of the blue, started calling him Mr. Kevin Merriweather.

Or when he very seriously told me that he had to break up with Nia Long because he realized she was a smoker.

Or the time I had him turn on my lights to make it seem like I was in the office when I was nowhere close.

Or the time, I got my girlfriend's pound cake recipe. I had promised Kevin, when his mom died, that I'd make him a pound cake. I got the best recipe I knew. I swear to this day my girlfriend gave it to me wrong, but I was putting too much baking soda in it. Cake after cake after cake fell. When I finally got one that resembled food, but weighed about 17 pounds I gave it to Kevin. He thanked me and told me it was good and took it home. He told Walter later, and swore him to secrecy, that it was too heavy and he couldn't eat it. But he didn't want me to know because I had worked so hard.

Here's the problem...I don't have enough stories for my lifetime. I was just asking him how we were going to "do it up" for his 40th. I was older in years...he was my big brother in every other way.

A couple of weeks ago -- I was driving home from work -- and the fog was misting through the trees, creating a shadow in front of the sun. The trees still had a lot of their leaves. The picture was breathtaking and I remember thinking...this must be what heaven is like. This must be what people see so they aren't afraid to leave this earth...the promise of something bigger, more beautiful. And then, I got a little freaked out that God was showing me this because it was my turn. But it wasn't. Maybe he showed me that picture so that I'd know where Kevin was going was beautiful. At times like this, all I have is my faith...I know that someone gently took Kevin by the hand on Thursday and took him to a lovely, peaceful place.

...but he's still supposed to be here.

There are no words to describe how much I will miss him. How I still think this is all a cruel cruel joke. You know there's...maybe a 5 second interval in the morning before your memory kicks in? Especially when something bad happens? That is happening to me. Saturday morning I asked Walter if I had dreamed it all.

He told me no.

I love you, Kevvie. Rest in Peace.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Sharp Dressed Man

Okay, experiences in parenting never end. Today was my first school picture day. We'd gotten plenty of notice, and I had figured out last week what Alex was going to wear: jeans, a rugby shirt, and hopefully it would be cool enough for a turtleneck. Easy enough, right? I hardly thought this would turn into a *thing*...Had it all gone as planned, this is how he would have looked [I took this tonight].

You see where this went wrong, right? I used the word PLANNED in conjunction with my life.

On a somewhat unrelated note. I'm *tired*. My frenetic pace this month is beginning to take its toll, and when I got up this morning, decided there was no earthly reason to begin my day so quickly, and went back to bed. So Alex and I both got a little extra sleep this morning. Alex's school day begins at 8:30, and class time begins between 8:45 and 9. I always figure he needs to be dropped off by 8:40, at the latest ~

7:15 - Gently shake the boy awake (we still haven't conquered the whole - stay in bed all night, and complicating things is that now Alex sleeps with Woody from Toy Story). Really. You can imagine all of the inappropriate things that run through my mind when I wake up face to face with a Woody.

7:30 - Finally, His Highness rousts himself to the bathroom, where he brushes his teeth. His newest thing, when rinsing is to mimic a surprise. For instance: "Mommy? How old are you? [takes sip] "41". [spits water out as if he can't believe that I've not yet turned to stone]

7:33 [And here's where it all goes to hell] I'm dressing him in the outfit that I thought was so great for a kindergartner, and say "Alex! Picture day, aren't you excited?"

Alex: Mommy, can I wear a tie?

A tie? Who am I raising? Alex P. Keaton? A Warbler from Glee? Alex's school has no dress code, and he's worn a necktie exactly twice: at his Uncle Parrish's wedding and Easter Sunday (courtesy of my mother, because you know, nothing says Resurrection like dressing your grandson like a City Councilman) I am not that formal. The last time I wore a suit to work, my boss complimented me on how nice I looked. Translation: "Jesus, I was beginning to think you slept in khakis and sweaters".

Anyway, I tell Alex that we don't have a tie. I then ask, puzzled, why he's just bringing it up that he wanted to wear a tie, that we had to go to school.

Alex: "When you and Daddy got married, he wore a tie, so I thought you would know that."

Okay. At this point, it's 8:00 and I figure it's not the time to get into kid logic. So, no tie. He then proceeds to pick up his glow in the dark dinosaur shirt and asks to wear that. Easy answer. No, because they school said no black. And plus...really? From a tie to a dinosaur shirt?

Alex [pointing at the rugby shirt like it's made of stick pins]: But Mommy, that shirt is black.
Me: No, it's blue.
[crickets chirping]

Then he points to his button down shirt in the closet. Can I wear that, pointing to a shirt from LAST birthday's pictures, and I'm thinking there's no way in hell that it fits. Well, it must have been entirely too big because it fit him perfectly. The school instructions said no stripes, but it's now after 8, and we still haven't had breakfast.

Okay, fine - you can wear this shirt.

"Please button my sleeves Mommy. Alex always says please and thank you. He's a kind and benevolent ruler. As I'm buttoning, he spies a pair of black socks, and excitedly says:

"THAT sock can be my necktie."

Me: Ah. No. Goes into the drawer...this is the only necktie you have, and it --
Alex: Okay I wear it.
Me: --doesn't match.
Alex: No, Mommy. It'll be fine. I wear dis.
Me: Alex, your shirt is blue striped. Your tie is yellow with a design. I really don't think this matches.*

*I NEVER buy ties. I am impossible at matching them. And even in my limited experience, I can see this doesn't match.

I take my next breath to explain that he's going to look a hot buttery mess, and then remember the numerous conversations that I've had with my veteran parent friends about choosing your battles. This is not a battle to choose - after all, who of us doesn't have a COLLECTION of bad school pictures? And at this point, I can't argue much because it's...


So downstairs we go, had breakfast, packed lunches finally got to school. In the turtleneck, striped shirt, and printed tie at...8:55.

ONE HOUR to dress 3 feet, 10 inches. I'm sure there are people who DID get married today and didn't take so long.

God bless the little test pattern as he grabbed just a little more of his independence. And a small part of me was very proud that Alex was determined to wear his own clothes on his own terms. But the larger part of me wondered what he'd want to wear for Christmas pictures. A tux?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

See You in September

Okay, so, I had the best day today!! Coach Tanya's and my Little Lady Hawks took the field for the first games of the season. They were ADORABLE! It was so much fun to watch them enjoy themselves on the field.

It was warm today, but with Labor Day in a couple of days, Alex starting kindergarten last Monday, and of course, the fact that it's dark by 8:00 nowadays, it means that Fall is right around the corner. So much to love about fall, cooler days, warmer foods, and time together with friends. I got married in autumn, Alex was born in autumn, and of course, thanks to my Waltie, we are a football family. Autumn is our makes me happy.

Of course the day only got better because I got some time to craft. I promise, my blog will not be all about the card making...I have some funny musings that I'm rolling around in my head. But these hops and challenges are on a deadline, which means that I have to post on time.

HQ of A Muse Studio challenged us on their FB page to do a layout using onyx and orange, the colors of fall. And while I don't have any specific halloween stamps from A Muse just yet, I have some colors, and some owls, and with Glee rolling on the DVR - this is what I produced:

Hard not to love the owls with their big old eyes, or how they sit quietly, taking in everything. Hard not to love autumn, the way the leaves go away and the air gets chillier, sending everyone inside until spring rolls around once more. Hard not to love the sense of renewal of it all. Hard not to love that life slows down somewhat in the colder months. Hard not to love. Period.

The fine print: [all supplies by a muse studio: Stamp set: Owl's Well; Cardstock: orange and onyx polka dot; Ribbon: orange; Copic Markers. You can shop for yourself here]

Friday, September 2, 2011

At the Hop

Hello and welcome to my first ever Blog Hop!! If you are participating in the blog hop, you should have come from Dana Vincent's blog and if not, then you should start from the beginning with Samantha's blog until you come to my blog.

We are highlighting items from the holiday catalog, and there are so many things to love in there. This Santa jacket is my absolute favorite, and with a little flocking on the collar and fringe, it's just like Santa's furry jacket.

I'm starting to become the Poster Girl for Clean and Simple - this card? Two stamps, 2 pieces of Paper, and a ribbon!

[All supplies are by A Muse Studio -- Stamp set: Naughty or Nice; Ribbon: Cherry; Cardstock: Candy Cane Stripe and Onyx]

All of these supplies are available at my web site! Or please contact me to schedule a workshop! I love it!!

Thanks for stopping by!! Now on to your next stop, Karen Crisp's blog...I LOVE what she's done with Santa's Coats...I'm totally going to case (scraplift, steal) that idea!

Happy Friday!!

Friday, August 19, 2011


Okay, so, I find that I'm no longer a spontaneous person. I didn't mean to become one who plans everything (and some would tell you that I'm not), but for the most part, I know what each day is going to hold. And honestly, with the schedule of being an employee, Mom, wife, cheerleader coach, and the President of "Turn the World into A Dance Floor" Movement, I'm glad about that.

However, I had to throw caution to the wind, and luckily had a sister who was feeling as spontaneous as I was. I took a road trip to Philly (well, King of Prussia) on a TUESDAY to go to a stamp workshop. A Muse has taken the show on the road, and it was SO worth it.

A Friday list -- the 10 best things, in no particular order, that made this trip, on a scale of 1 - 10, a 23.

1. ROAD TRIP = SNACKS. My workout's were extra hard this week, because I think I have calorie immunity if I'm going beyond a 50 mile radius. How I love peanut M&Ms. Oh, wait, the athlete in me struggles with listing this as #1, but it IS in no particular order.
2. Spending time with my friend Isunji. I don't get to see her enough. We laughed, we listened to Terrence Trent D'Arby - we caught up in that way that old girlfriends do. It was beautiful.
3. Linda. Linda started A Muse many years ago in her basement, and grew it into a successful business, all while raising her kids. And she's as nice as they come. I couldn't BELIEVE that she remembered me calling the store so many moons ago. Talk about customer service. I'm going to trust that she didn't remember me because I was bat sh!t crazy.
4. Heather. Heather is A Muse Studio Chief Creative Officer. Okay, first, I love that title. I want to be someone's Chief Creative Officer. I felt an immediate kinship to Heather, who has such a fun spirit (and she let me spruce up before she took my picture). Here the three of us are, at the end of a long day, still smiling!!
5. There was a HUGE mall near where I was. I didn't make it, but somehow I think I smile bigger in the presence of commerce.
6. I met some lovely people at the workshop. I've always maintained that crafty people are a friendly bunch. We are always willing to share, and laugh. It's nice to make a new connection, especially when you're nurturing an old one.
7. I remembered that I am not indispensable, and I can leave work for an afternoon and it. Will. Be. Okay. I have to keep that in mind. It's what I do, not who I am.
8. I'd be lying if I didn't say it wasn't a challenge to drive 6 hours over 12 hours. But I think every now and again it's good to push yourself to do what you think you can no longer do. It keeps you young.
9. On the way home, we stopped for a gnosh at McDonalds, and I took the liberty of getting some smurfs. When given the choice, Alex chooses where he wants to eat based on the toy that's offered, and right now, the McDonald's happy meals are offering Smurfs. I kinda love this - it's a total throwback. And the McD's in Philly had different smurfs, so I got them all (to save us a trip to McDonalds in the future). I lined them on Alex's bathroom sink, and when he discovered them the next morning, he was convinced that there were more in the house. Or, as he told Walter, it was Christmas. I love how my kid thinks there's magic all the time. That makes me happy.
10. Last but not least, I got a chance to nurture my love of my craft, some time, as my friend Alenka said, to do the things that makes me "me". I think we all need to remember what makes us who we truly are, and do the things that remind of us of that!

Happy Friday!!

Schools Out for Summer...

...but not for much longer.

A's teacher's aide has headed back to school, and I wanted a card to say thanks for everything she did! I really loved how this card turned out (all products a|s studio). Red, white, and blue is one of my all time favorite combinations and I LOVE this lined paper!

All of these products are on sale as a part of the A Muse Spotlight for August! One of the many things I love about A Muse is how they have know sales just speak to me. Along with the stamp sets, which I've listed below, they will also put the coordinating cardstock on sale - a fanTAStic way to get samples of many colors.

Here's are the stamp sets on sale - 10% off!
Stamp Sets:
School Days (used in this card)
Rock Star
Personal Stationary
The Mighty Jungle
Past Due

Coordinating Card Stock - Collegiate

One thing that I love about most of these stamp sets is that they go really well with scrapbooking!

Enjoy, and as always, contact me with any questions, or order from my website.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Colour My World

Okay, so, I can see if I keep posting my love for the crafty, finding song titles for each post is going to be hard. But I'll keep trying.

Here's a card I made using only 2 stamps, 2 ink colors, 5 pearl buttons, and some ribbon. And of course, the paper. A Muse is all about the Clean and Simple designs, which really appeals to my desire to simplify! So if you've ever thought you wanted to make cards, but didn't have time, or the inclination to sit over a craft desk for hours, I have great news for you! You don't have to!!

I love this stuff.

Side Alex Note: Does anyone else think they are raising a rock star? Seriously! After dancing his heart out yesterday, Alex is STILL asleep. And when he wakes up, he's going to want a big breakfast. Sometimes I'm a mom, sometimes I'm a roadie.

A New Thing

So, I've got this new thing going on that really excites me!! I'm a Creative Consultant for A Muse Studio. a | s is not NEW NEW -- I've been buying their rubber stamps for years, but they've recently gone home based and I...I LOVE IT! I love the quality of their paper, and their stamps, and I love that it's got me refocused on crafting. In addition to all the other things I like to communicate in this blog, I'm going to be posting the occasional project that shares my crafty love!

The other thing that's easy to love about a muse studio? They carry a large line of Copic markers. I can't tell you how much I love these markers, I'd have to show you! Here's a halloween scene I colored using my Copic markers!

Please browse the a | s catalog! I promise you, you'll be glad you did!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

19th Nervous Breakdown

Subtitle: From the Alex Files - Extended Remix

Okay, so today I pick Alex up from school, and, as usual, there's a flurry of activity. I think teachers are underpaid as a whole, but Pre-K teachers who have a classroom of children that did not get to go outside and run off energy? Clearly, there's no better evidence that teaching is a labor of love.

Anyway, there's a girl in Alex's class, let's call her Reena (after my imaginary childhood friend). Reena I've seen Reena maybe 6 times during drop off, and probably four of those times she's been in the middle of a SPECTACTULAR melt down. Seriously. Tears, screaming, the whole works. And her Mom is nowhere to be found (can't blame her there), so it's not like she's crying out for parental attention (which would be sad, but still, at 6:30 in the morning? Annoying as hell.) So Reena is playing with 2 other girls when I walk in. And near Alex's cubby is the latest science experiment, an egg that's submersed in vinegar until the shell melts/disintegrates/whatever.

Oh, and this is the same child that Alex not-so-politely told that my name was Tyuana, and Walter told me that Alex has remarked to him that Reena tells on everyone, except for her one girlfriend, and sometimes even her. To quote: "Daddy, all day she's "Ms. Tynee-Ms. Neka- Ms. Tynee-Ms. Neka. She's always telling."

(I'm sure a better parent would ask the question - what material is my kid giving her for tattling, but I'm going to work on being a better parent tomorrow.)

Okay, that's the set up.

While Alex is packing his stuff, the three girls are playing with the egg, and Ms. Tynee, the teacher warns them that they have to be careful, that it's still an egg, and will crack. Of course, they are FOUR, so they are fascinated. Reena saying something kind of loud to the other kids, and Alex whispers to me "she's ALWAYS yelling about something.

As you can imagine, 6 four year old hands did not do a good job of holding onto the egg, and it breaks, in Reena's hands. The other girls run off talking about the egg. Alex, who I thought was packing his stuff while I was talking to Ms. Tynee, observes the entire thing and runs off to tell his dude friends Mason and Jackson (not their real names either, I feel compelled to protect the names of children I do not know), and I hear him saying...REENA BROKE THE EGG.

(Long set up, bear with me)

The other two girls come back to the scene of the crime, and I can see that Reena is wearing the evidence of her misfortune on her sleeve, which is wet and reeks of vinegar. Alex is packing up his stuff, and says, "Mommy, did you see Reena break the egg?" Reena gets visibly agitated and starts yelling at Alex "YOU'RE NOT A GROWN UP, ALEX! STOP IT!".

In response, Alex leans into me, I kid you not, and says "here she goes again." And she starts to cry.

So she's standing there crying to me, and I'm trying not to laugh at my kid's OBVIOUS agitation at this girls' emotions, and say -- oh your Mom can wash that up. Don't worry.

Alex: Yeah, ask your Mom to wash it.
Alex: [eye roll]
Me: [at a complete loss of words at this exchange] I'm sorry about your shirt.

What else is there to say? This kid is already like that character in Seinfeld that cried over everything.

So then, we are walking to the car, and I say, "Alex, you weren't very sympathetic to Reena".
Alex: But Mommy! She all the time doing that.
Me: Well, that's no reason to tease her.
Alex: She's always yelling at me. SERIOUSLY. She's gonna have to cut that out.

It's losing something as I'm typing it, but after I strapped him in I had to stand outside of the car for a full 2 minutes while I laughed myself silly.

So Alex and Reena should be planning the wedding around 2035.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Fumbling Toward Ecstasy

Okay, so it would appear that I *did* have a bit of a "OMG I'm 40" crisis (can't call it midlife...just yet). And since my middle name is procrastination, I only just now figured this out. Obviously, I had embraced the good changes that being 40 brought - there's a certain amount of ...well, I *AM* 40 that's starts to happen. I did begin to take, on the whole, everything less seriously. I get now that being true to who you are means that everyone may or may not be a fan, and that's not anything to take personally. I also get that you have to, more often than not, take care of your body so that your body will take care of you.

But it was the other, darker issues about turning 40 - a true confrontation with my lack of confidence, my fear that I was truly destined to be...ordinary - that started to simmer in my thoughts.

I really started asking myself "who are you?" There's one definite drawback to being what I'd call resilient. The ability to fit in many places makes it really hard to find your true nitch, to figure out where you belong. I wondered if I'd made peace with the first 40, so that I could go about enjoying the second 40.

And then a perfect storm of events kind of catapulted me into a 30,000 ft view of my life.

Sunday, I had a lovely conversation with my friend Patrick, who was in town for a weekend. Just your normal catching up, but then he said "I knew, from a very young age, when I first heard there was something called Broadway, that I wanted to be there." I'm almost positive I never said - "Mom, when I grow up, I want to be an analyst for the IRS." I never had a moment like that as a kid - I never saw something, and thought, I want to do that. Oh, sure, there was that time I was watching Dynasty and Alexis said "if you don't do as I wish, I'm simply fire you all and find someone who will". That stuck with me - I thought that was completely kick ass and wanted to be the head of my ex-husband's board so I could say that to stick it to his beautiful new wife, and then we'd go fight in the lily pond wearing tremendous shoulder pads. But back to my point, there's always this nugget burning inside of me...this thought that I'm not supposed to be doing this job.

Then, my cousin died on Wednesday. Now anyone close to me knows I have a RACK of first cousins, and that my family is huge. And not surprisingly, I'm more in touch with some cousins than others. This cousin, while I didn't see often, I truly loved, and what's more? Her dad is one of my favorites. Kiki was the first baby born after me (my family ALWAYS has babies running around), and I remember being spittin' mad that no one would let me hold her. I also remember my grandfather sneaking her onto my lap when no one was looking. I remember when Kiki's baby sister was born, I used my 8 (maybe 9)- year old wisdom to deduce that everyone would be so crazy about the NEW baby, that I could finally get to hold Kiki. And now...35 far too short years later, she's drifted out of this world, leaving her family, and my uncle, devastated. I should hope by now she's run into my Grandfather, and he's telling her that her kids and her parents will be fine, that people learn to live with broken hearts more often than is fair.

Before last week, I was thinking about flirting with some things that had always fascinated me, wanting to indulge some curiosity a bit. Nothing that would jeopardize my secret clearance, not to worry. But I definitely lived the first 40 within the constraints of what I was supposed to do...go to college, major in business, get a good government job, get married, start a family. And while all of these things have paid humongous dividends in my life (and, I think, humanity), I think the road not taken starts to loom larger the further you get away from it. And I started to wonder, had the list not been given to me, what would I have chosen to put on it?

And after a great weekend with friends, filled with laughter, shooters, and drinking games, a weekend where I returned to pre-40 Tye, it kind of all has come together for me. During the weekend, I realized that I truly missed my 40-Tye. I spent some time with some great people, revisited a couple of broken hearts of my own (as only drunk people can do), and realized that I'm not defined anymore by what I don't have, or what I am not. And I'm no longer defined by the things I wish I could have missed from my life. I am, simply, me.

I sing at the top of my lungs in the car. I dance in the elevator bay at work. I will save a blog for days to find just the write song title that fits. I love television. I cry at the drop of a hat. I am sarcastic. My heart is on the outside of my body, and can usually be found on a four year old that sings misheard lyrics better than I do (did you KNOW that the Spice Girls song says "if you wanna be my booger"!!!). I snore when I'm tired. I don't like mean people. I could probably come up with 31 more, but that would get long.

And so, here's my 40-Tye list:

- Go to college
- Get a good job
- Get married
- Start a family
- As yet, unwritten

College is this wonderful halfway house between being a kid and being an adult. Everyone doesn't need it, but I did, and I highly recommend it. And anyway, I met one of my best friends on the planet there. I would leave business off the list this time, because I have no interest in it. Money doesn't interest me anymore, beyond having enough to take care of my family (and indulge my iLife, and love of Nordstrom's). I do not define "good job" by what the job pays, but one that is completely soul satisfying. And I still don't know what that is, which is unfortunate. Maybe it's not working at all - to spend my time being a better member of the community who know? But it's immaterial - I've made some deals with some people (namely Chase Home Loans) that makes the whole "not working" idea moot. The last two things on my list are a given - I know, without a shadow of a doubt that somewhere along the line, I did something exactly right to land a husband that gets me and completes me, and a kid that truly makes me fall to my knees in gratitude every single night. Tonight, as I put Alex to bed, he said -- and I quote -- "Mommy, I really really really really missed you and I love you." And in his eyes I saw EXACTLY why I jumped out of bed this morning and made Walter drive on a snowy mountain. THIS is where I belong. Going away is wonderful; coming home is...a blessing.

From that 30,000 foot view I learned that anything that I thought I could do to infuse some excitement in my life paled in comparison to what my life already is. I have my parents - Alex is fortunate to have all of his grandparents. His weekend spent with his grannies was so much fun for him. I'm so lucky to never have to worry about my kid. I miss him when he's not around, but I never once worry about his safety (except in that psychotic way that I have of imagining the worst - a thing I'm trying to fix). I have a magnificent support group of friends, friends who are accepting, who are always willing to cheer me on, and tell me when to get my head out of my a$$. The whole job thing...? Well - definitely not a calling, but what it does give me is options. I know I could do anything I wanted to do, but right now I have a job that gets me home in time for soccer practice and dinner. Who would walk away from such? (And I just KNOW that published book is right around the corner).

From 30,000 feet, I see that some things may nor not meant to be conquered. I will probably never have the confidence that it seems other people ooze. I am never going to feel like the prettiest, or the smartest, or the skinniest, or any of the -iest things the other people have. But you know what that does give me? Kindness. Compassion. A sense of humor. I'd like to think I have just enough confidence, that with the other 3, I could maybe be okay. The liberating part if that the list doesn't have to end...ever. As long as we are lucky enough to draw breath, we can always choose to put more stuff on the list, right?

From 30,000 feet, I have pretty close to everything I ever wanted. So it turns out that maybe I wrote that list after all. The road less travelled becomes just like any other road after a while...a pretty road, with lots of sights. But it's important to keep focused on the road you're ON: it has a lot of beautiful sights too, and you don't want to miss them. And you also don't want to get blindsided because you weren't paying attention.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Motown Song

After the most frustrating evening involving my car being about 3 hours later than they estimated, having Alex miss soccer practice, I settle in to watch my Idols...I'm a little behind.

Why is Idol still 2 hours? We can't condense this at all? Are there no midseason replacements? It's feeling quite a bit like filler to me, but's my show!

Okay, so it's Motown night, usually among my favorites. Naima, Paul, Stefano and Lauren should rock tonight, but it might be hard for James Durbin. I think Jacob will either kill it, or stink - there will be no middle for him. One would think Scotty would struggle, but if he picks a bluesy of the slower Temptation songs, he should do well too.

First up is Casey, who is singing I Heard it Thru the Grapevine. He's growling and doing his thing. He's just batsh!t crazy, but I think I love that about him. Either that, or I fear him. The judges are feeling me on this, because Steven just flat out calls him crazy. I believe he said he was "crazy ass out of control". Seriously. Jen and Randy says he can only do him and that he knows who he is. Translation: batsh!t crazy sells, and if we do this right, we can bottle the Casey Abrahms drug"...and speaking of that...Charlie Sheen? Wow.

Thia is singing Heatwave by Martha Reeves and the Vandellas. Okay, I like that she picked a faster tune, but this still seems dated. Why does she seem old to me? Her vocals are lovely as usual, but this is not a happening performance for me. Oh, and I don't like this ending. Eh. Jennifer compliments her on the refreshing change of tempo but that it still feels safe. Randy and Steven like that she took a chance, but needs her to believe in herself more so that she'll take more chances. Get it together, Sweetie. You're in danger of being forgettable.

Next up? Jacob is singing You're All I Need to Get By. The producer says there's no one more natural to sing Motown, citing his gospel background, and well...see my note above. The producer (still don't know his name) wisely advises him to not keep using the runs. One of the Funk Brothers is joining him on stage. Nice. Hey - this is nice! He is controlled and he builds to a lovely crescendo. He's nicely invoking the Aretha Franklin version and I'm loving it. So is Jennifer, and I cannot say enough how contagious her enthusiasm is. Okay, my first time saying this, I think, this season...or maybe the second. He sang the almighty sh!t out of that. And the end was kickin'!! Nicely done, Jacob. he obviously took the advice of Producer. That was easily my favorite performance of the entire season. I loved it. I consider this to be his breakout moment. Steven loves it too, going to the stage to embrace him...and it was nice. A little disconcerting that Steven's ass looks better in the skinny jeans than most women, but it was a nice moment. I'm loving Jacob even more as he thanks the band and the backup singer. Randy says that Berry Gordy was saying somewhere saying OMG! He notes that he took the producer's advice...JIMMY! the producer's name is Jimmy. Steven says he milked this performance and Jennifer chimes in and says he made them beg, that they were sitting there saying "Give it to me give it to me". And um...yeah. All around praise for a spectacular vocal.

Lauren takes on You Keep Me Hangin' On, by the Supremes. We will just see how this goes. I'm not loving this choice, and she's already going to pale in comparison to Jacob. We know this. It begins well, I think, oh, she's working the stage. I'm eh about this, and it may be her bad luck following Jacob tonight. She looks lovely though. Steven loves her tonight, and says she does her own thing every time she's on the stage. Jennifer says she brought it to life for everyone (maybe not me). Randy says she's got her swagger on. Okay, maybe I'm still having the Jacob love. I still like her though.

Back from break, Lauren notes how hard it was to follow Jacob, and. Word.

Stefano's Mom made the entire house dinner and I know this because AI doesn't need to be TWO HOURS! Stefano is singing Hello, by Lionel Ritchie. Why? Of ALL the songs in the Motown songbook? Don't get me wrong, I love the song (though I never got the video). Wow. They all cautioned Stef to keep his eyes open and it's clearly killing him to do so, and the result is wonky eyes. Here's what I like about Stefano...his voice. It's very clear and easy on the ears and he has a nice range. What I'm eh about - this arrangement. It's too sleepy for me. Yeah, that didn't work for me so much...Jennifer begins with "All right, Baby. Let's talk." she hated it. She says everyone knows he can sing, but that he's not connecting with the audience. She said she doesn't want the intensity from him wanting to do well, but from him wanting to let the audience know that his heart is breaking. Randy says the connection is missing, and they all agree that is what's keeping him from greatness. Even Ryan has to note that he got some amazing advice.

Haley is now on my nerves. It's nothing she's done, other than we all know she should have gotten the boot last week. Hey Otis!! I think he's the last surviving member of the original Temptations. She's singing You've Really Got A Hold On Me. Let's see how this goes, but I'm skeptical. Producer Jimmy tells her she's got to give it everything because she HAS to connect this week. And. Word. And 2 notes in, i. Hate it. Hate that shes on the stage. Hate the outfit. Hate that she's not showcasing her voice, aside from the guttural thing she does, which I'm also starting to hate. Even the somewhat cool run at the end doesn't redeem this for me. I liked her hair though. Randy says he started rough, but by the middle/end she was into it and he liked her. Steven says it was beautiful and that she sang her heart out. Steven goes onto show her how the growl is supposed to be done. Jennifer says she has one of the most soulful voices and it does exactly what she wants it to do. But notice how that's not exactly praise? I don't know what they heard, but I didn't like it.

Scotty is doing For Once In My Life, by Stevie Wonder. Sounds as though they are country-ing it up...uh-oh. Scotty said he didn't want to come off as a lounge singer. And...uh...well. Maybe a little, but overall it wasn't bad. Actually, it was pretty good, the vocals were nice. His lower register actually calls my cougar a little bit. Steven says he took a big chance and that he loved it, and that his lower register is where he lives. I KNOW. Randy doesn't know if it was his best yet, but he loves that he made it his own. He did kinda remind me of Barry White with that note. Scotty did his one trick tonight. It worked.

Pia is singing Stevie Wonder's All In Love Is Fair. Big song. I kinda want her to speed it up at some point, but i admit she could own this. Pia is so pretty, and I love her voice. Hot-cha-cha she looks smokin'. Okay, so here's the thing. She is singing this well, but I don't feel any sort of OH MY GOSH with that. It was simply good. I wanted to like it more than I think I did. Jennifer is feeling me on this...I can tell. She says another beautiful ballad, but said she needs her to move around the stage (notes this was her THIRD ballad). Yeah, Jenny from the Block is bored. Randy likes her impeccable vocals, but says too many ballads, in short. Randy is bored too. Steven is mesmerized by the Pia love and just rambles about how wonderful she is...and I get it. Pia is wearing that dress...I can see how she would void the mind of independent thought.

My man Paul is singing Tracks of My Tears, and Walter's face just went you know he LOVES Smokey. Producer Jimmy says he needs to feel this song. If I remember correctly (-and everyone knows my short term memory is SO suspect), didn't Adam Lambert changing the entire course of the competition when he sang this song? Paul's hair reminds me of a baby duck. I kinda like this...kinda. It's a completely different version, and It showcased his different voice. Randy says he needs to embrace his different voice. Steven compares him to Bob Dylan. I get it. Jennifer says he's the complete package and all he needs is a good producer. Walter always gets a vote on Smokey songs. He says it didn't work for him, but he can't figure out why. Because for a bit, it seemed like it was all over the place.

Naima is up next, singing Dancing in the Street. And Girl! Stop with the dance-y dance-y already!! The band is rocking tonight. But Naima...and it pains me to say this, but I think Naima has gone as far as she's meant to go in this competition. She's being consistently out sung...and what the ham sandwich is she doing up I said earlier in the paragraph: STOP IT WITH THE DANCING! It's enough, it's random, and it's scaring me. And it leaves me with a bad's one of the few times I wish Simon were still here. Can't you hear him? Steven takes a sip from the PaulaCup..."it was A to the Z to the twiddly dee". Jennifer says she got the goosies, and that she's a great performer. Randy calls it a smart performance, that she didn't move around, saving her voice, and that she took the advice from earlier weeks. Hookay. We will have to agree to disagree.

Random? I gave up fries for Lent. And the Big Mac has never looked as good to me as it does now.

Last up, James Durbin is singing Livin Just Enough for the City. Producer Jimmy says if he gets this right, it could be his moment. I might not get to see his moment though because torrential downpours are killing my satellite. James works the stage pretty well, and I think he does the song proud. Okay, this was pretty good, I think. Jennifer says Oh My God about 14 times. She calls him incredible and that he leaves her speechless. Randy said it started kinda rough for him, but he gets more confidence when he hits the high notes. Steven says it takes a little bit of crazy to make a difference in this world. So that's it. That's what's happening in my office - they are trying to make a DIFFERENCE! I see. Anyhow, they'll loved it and I liked it more than I expected I would.

So that's a wrap...bottom 3? Stefano, Thia, and maybe Naima? I think Naima and Stefano have a legitimate shot at the save.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Born This Way

Okay, so DVR has held onto Idol for a full 24 hours. At this rate, I have no hope of posting this before the elimination show, however, I know for a fact that DVR will hold on to the results show as long as I need it. At least, I think I will. My DVR upstairs is very temperamental - prone to fits, amnesia, being absolutely unproductive and apologetic for it. Hmm...I think I know a place it would fit right in.

In the interest of full disclosure, the show was background noise last night while I did all the things we do in preparation for the next day. But I purposely didn't pay attention to the judges critiques to maintain my objectivity. The Idol titles on DVR are very repetitive - "Contestants Compete" and "One Voted Off'. That's it until May, I guess.

The show opens with the Fab Four making a plea for donations for the devastation in Japan, and Steven even finds a way to look...not quite sober...during that. All joking aside (because you know the jokes are about to commence), I still can't quite wrap my mind around what's happening in Japan - the quake, the tsunami, the threatened nuclear disaster. Yet another reminder that there are no guarantees that your tomorrow will look anything like today...we need to keep living out loud, Peeps. A life of silence sounds...quiet.

Anyhoo, Ryan invites us to aMERican Idol! And opens with a nod to Ashthon who's back in Tennessee tonight (as she was last night), and a word about that. I would have thrown the bullsh!t card if they had saved her. I mean, really! How many times would America have to tell the judges that they didn't want Ashthon. I haven't watched that particular results show yet, and something tells me I won't. I was just over here. I still want to know what the judges saw.

Tonight the Idols are singing songs from the year they were born, and I remember thinking last night that some of the songs I was hearing were songs from my lost decade, the 90's, and I felt old. But then I thought perhaps I was feeling old because I'd worked harder than a bullfighter yesterday.

First up is Naima, singing What's Love Got to Do With It (1984. I was a freshman in high school). They say something about bring it into the 2000's, and I'm immediately skeptical. We'll see about this - it could be really really good...or not. Naima is shown in the producers office and she's crying AGAIN. This poor girl. Remember the one from 2 seasons ago that seemed like she was on the verge of a nervous breakdown? Oh...but she's crying over being separated from her kids. Okay, I take it back. I would cry too, and her Mom goes on to shed some tears over Naima living a dream that she had, and that's very sweet. Okay. Naima begins on the steps that Ryan Seacrest (and Adam Lambert) own. Uh-oh. I don't love this and it's only partly her fault. I don't like the arrangement (but I warned you that might happen). And it seems like she didn't learn her lesson about breathing and moving around on the stage. But the vocals seemed off to me. Oh Naima, you confound me. I want to love you - I love your story, and I love your look, but something's going. Steven pays her a lovely compliment, saying she has a 'sorcerer's grasp on her melody' and that he loved it...what? Jennifer starts off by saying she gave her a pass for last week (SEE?), but that now she's starting to seem consistently pitchy and that she needs to work on that. Randy heaps on that, saying that when he watched last week's tape, he saw that it was not that good (told ya!), and that she's pitchy. So clearly, she confounds them too. We are not off to a good start tonight.

We come back after the break to have Naima tell us that her she gets so worked up it affects her pitch. And uh...yeah.

Paul was born in 1984 too, and I love this guy. He's so fun to me. He's singing Elton John's "I Guess That Why They Call it the Blues", one of my favorites. His voice and his performance style should lend itself well to this song. The producer notes that he's hoarse and says "please come with your full voice". Thank you Captain Obvious. I'm sure he was thinking that maybe he'd try performing on the big stage with just a piece of his voice. Oh! Backup singers! I love back up singers. It's so hard not to adore this man - and here's why I like this. He makes it his own just by how unique his voice is. I just don't expect that simple little voice to come out of his body. He reminds me of a sober Jason Castro. You can tell his still hoarse though, but it's still good to me. Jennifer is singing along (oh, I didn't comment on how she looks tonight...smokin'. There.) He lost me a little bit on the ending with the clenched-Sonny-Corinthos-teeth, but all in all, I sit here smiling. Jennifer notes that he didn't sound like himself, but that she thought it was good. Randy was all...uh-uh - this was bad, you're pitchy, but he likes what he does, and compares him to Ray Lamontaine and...LOVE, and notes that he loves that he puts the "Paul spin on it". Or as I said "he makes it his own just by how unique his voice is... Sigh. Steven calls him a Cool Dude in a Loose Mood, noting the uniqueness of his voice and people are probably starting to recognize that voice. Right?

Thia was born on 1995 -- and when Thia was born, I was Like I was working and being me. Thia's voice is like BUTTER in rehearsal. She's singing Colors of the Wind, by Vanessa Williams. She should do lovely things with this, but she's going to have to speed it up at some point. She looks and sounds lovely. I just don't believe that this girl is only 16. She's so composed. And I really love her voice tonight, singing this song. After the first two performances, it's...ahem...a welcome change. Well done, Thia. That made me smile. Randy says her vocals are just "okay", but he's having a problem with her singing ALL OF THESE BALLADS. He found her performance boring and "pageanty". Don't say I didn't warn you, Pia. Steven says she thought it was lovely, but asks if that song is a good definition of her? And she a Jennifer loves the tone of her voice, but basically they are consistent in that she's being safe and let it go. So the judges were too bored to appreciate her voice. Boo.

Adam Lambert's protege James Durbin is up next, and he's singing oh wait -- Hi Kate! Hi Ryder! She's very cute by covering her face with her Chee-tos and she seems genuinely embarrassed to be on camera. James was born in 89 (Junior in college). He's singing "I'll Be There for You", by Bon Jovi...this could work. He's kinda rockin' this tonight - I am liking the arrangement and when he's not screaming at me, you can see that the quality of his voice is really kind of effortless. Oh! Guitar solo. That worked well. Steven calls James on his video, and says he has "leftover sandwiches under his bed older than he is"...and...BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Steven says it's good, but cautions him not to go to poppy. James says that Aerosmith had some good music in '89 too (Captain Obvious shows up at the most inconvenient times), but says he didn't want to go Aerosmith too early that he wants to "save it for the finale". And...that was kind of awesome. Like somehow he did it without stepping on the smug-o-meter which just surprises the hell out of me. Jennifer just said she was "acting a fool" and I must shout out to my friend Alenka who just busted out that exact phrase and cracked me the hell up. She loves it, as does Randy who says he did Bon Jovi proud. And while I'm still not a fan, I admit, that was good. It worked for him.

Next up? Haley was born in 1990 (Senior in College) and is singing I'm Your Baby Tonight by Whitney Houston. Oh, so is this her thing? The Betty Boop with the guttural rips thrown in from time to time? The fact that I'm asking if she has a thing means she's starting to bore me, I think. I am not liking this. I usually like her voice, but this isn't working for me. Her voice just ain't Whitney big. Jennifer starts with how beautiful she looks...that ain't good. But I have to admit I'm not listening to anything Jennifer is saying because Haley has lipstick ALL OVER the bottom of her face. Man, live performances suck. Let me rewind...oh wait, I'm not rewinding because Ryan has bought her a hankie to wipe her lipstick. Randy admits, after 10 years, that he's confused. He goes on to say she's picking artists from all over the place and feels like she doesn't know what kind of artist she wants to be. Steven calls Randy a dawg again, which cracks me up every time. Steven says her voice is so distinct and they love the bluesy quality of her voice and they want to hear more of that. That was decidedly eh.

Stefano was born in 1989 as well. He's singing If You Don't Know Me by Simply Red (even though we all know it was Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, but I forgive Stefano because I love him and I love this song.) Stefano starts to sing and I am very happy - he's doing this song justice. He's got a throwback quality to him - the suit with the high tops, very do-woppy. Jennifer is singing along, which I've decided is a good sign that she likes it. I think she's actually falling in love with Stefano just a teeny bit. Okay, he slayed this. His vocals were on point and he obviously took the producers advice. I loved it. And I love Jennifer's makeup tonight. Randy tells us about Harold Melvin and says it's the best performance of the night. Word. He even goes on to say he slayed it. He said slayed and I'm checking my house for bugs tonight. Jennifer's inner cougar comes out a bit and says he's suddenly in it to win it if he does that every week and "sings to her a bit" more. Ryan invites Stefano to go hug his Mom, who is overcome with emotion, and that was a very very sweet moment. Nicely Done, Idol Boyfriend '11.

Pia was born in 1988 (Freshman in college) and it's no wonder Pia is so lovely, her Momma is beautiful!! They show this video of Pia singing Whitney Houston and it's HILARIOUS, because she's doing the wide eyed thing that kids do when they are really feeling a song. She's singing Where Do Broken Hearts Go, by Whitney Houston. You know I love Pia, right? She's really good, sounds great as usual, but I couldn't help but think, really? Another power ballad? Even though the arrangement was fast (which, I am just. not. sure. how I feel about that.) Steven says she nailed it and she's the reason American Idol exists. Jennifer says that she's happy she sped it up (okay, so I guess it worked for her), and that she did a great job. Randy says she's in it to win it. High praise for Pia tonight - she does seem to be the entire package. I can see her getting deep into the competition.

Scotty was born in 1993 (real life), and is it any surprise that he grew up loving Elvis. And not 50's Elvis on the beach, but 70's Elvis with the jewelry and the jumpsuits. I ain't mad at ya, Scotty...Elvis is awesome. He's singing Travis Tritt's Can I Trust You With My Heart? We know Scotty does country very well and I don't expect tonight to be any different. And it's nice. I want to get mad at him for always doing country, but I can't. I love his voice - he's everything that I love about country music - sincere, melodic and beautiful. But Jennifer is not singing, so she might be about to slam him on his one trick. Yeah, I got some Scotty love. Jennifer wants to see him keep growing and wishes he had done what he did in rehearsal. Randy name drops Travis Tritt, and says that they know he can sing anything, but appreciates that he sings what he knows. Steven tells him to just stay in his lane. I'm going to translate their critique, because i think they all said the same thing: "you're totally going to get a country music deal, so let's see how long you can ride this train".

Next up? Karen Rodriguez (who Ryan says was an online audition. What?) was born in 1989 (back to college for me), and she's singing Love Will Bring You Back, by Taylor Dayne. The producer invites her to just be who she is, and her Mom sends her a beautiful heartfelt message. Karen's kinda doing a Bond Girl approach to the stage which is disconcerting. I'm decidedly eh on this. I think it should be better than it is...but I still love when she slips into Spanish, because it's very natural to her. Hmm...I don't know. I think maybe her voice isn't as big as this song. Randy says she started a little rough, and while he's not jumping up and down, it was better than last week. Steven says he loves it when she breaks into her ethnic "what it is-ness", and. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Jennifer gives more constructive performance advice - that as an artist she doesn't have to reach for notes that she doesn't feel comfortable with and to take the liberty to change it up. And that she loves that she seemed to face her fears head on...

Casey James is singing Nirvana. Really?

Hi Tamyra!! Casey was born in 1991 (end of college. Real life.) And he's singing Smells Like Teen Spirit. The producer, I think in his own way, tries to say this may not work, and Casey says he likes taking risks. To which the producer says "do good things." This may be a mess. Okay, the green light and Casey's moody stare makes this kind of spooky. Okay, this is a mess. He's yelling at me and he looks deranged, and as much as I like Casey, I *don't* like this. This made no sense. And the producer was right. I didn't get it. The band was kicking though. And then at the end of the song he just smiles the most angelic smile. In the words of my kid...awkward. Steven says he's crazy and talented, and that's the goop that great stuff is made of. Jennifer says there are parts of it that got "screamy-screechy", and when she said that, you could tell she was all...don't kill me in my sleep. Randy says he's impressed because, like Radiohead and Ricky Muse, that he loves that he puts art before commerce and loves that he's fearless. He loves that about him. Okay, me too. Because I'd prefer to not say anything bad about Casey and him show up on my doorstep asking me to explain myself.

Lauren Alaina has the flu. She was born in 1994. Her Mom says she was a peaceful baby for the first 3 years of her life and then...uh-huh. I know, Mom. I'm living it. I like Lauren. Tonight she's singing Melissa Etheridge I'm the Only One. She better not make a mess of it. Her Dad gets choked up during the video and I just love this whole family. What I don't love is the beginning...but she seems to find the notes, and by the time she gets to the chorus, she is rocking. You can tell she's sick though. Poor thing. Also, I think her nerves are lingering from a bad performance last week. Let it go, Girl, this is a new week. This is just okay for me, but I still like her a lot. Jennifer likes it more than I did, saying she made it her own. In fact, Stev-dy both think she's awesome and that she did a great job.

My buddy Jacob Lusk was born in 1987 (summer, right before I started college). Jacob is clowning his mom about his lack of a singing voice, and even though it's cute, do we really need 2 hours for this? Jacob is singing Alone by Heart. Let's see. The producer (I will learn his name) compliments him for stepping outside of gospel to sing rock, that "only the greats do that". Jacob is hopeful that as long as he puts his "lusty stank" (why paraphrase when what they say is so good?), it should be fine. Let's hope. Is Jacob wearing a Member's Only jacket? Okay - the good - I feel his intensity as he singing, and he really, really wants this. The not so good...I keep thinking back to the year that Carrie Underwood sang this and I thought...oh my, she can win this, and this wasn't that good. I give him a solid A for effort, but I don't know how I felt about it. Ranvenfer are love it - each of them saying in their own way that they love what he did with the song. Okay. I'll go with that.

Okay, that's the night. Bottom 3? Naima, Haley, and maybe Karen?

Okay, It's after 9, so my DVR knows who got the boot, but I don't. See you next week, Friends!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

I Idolize You

AI is live AND two hours for 13 singers. The judges take the stage and it's a toss up on who has the better hair...Jennifer or Randy. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Just kidding. Both Jennifer and Steven are rocking the hair, but Jennifer, once again, looks hot. Or as they say in my beloved hometown, hawt.

Ryan asks who our favorites of the 13 are, and really? Do we know names yet, or are we still in "the one that sang [insert song here]. The idols are singing songs by their favorite idols...which is essentially another way of saying free for all, so we will see how this pans out. I've said mentors this year. Well, no star mentors. The are using producers from Interscope records and I like this much self serving artist who is dropping a disc, and more importantly? No Miley Cyrus.

Lauren's idol is Shania Twain because "she's the first artist to mix country and pop", and we're just going to assume that she meant the first in her lifetime because she doesn't want to rain down the wrath of Bonnie Raitt. Anyhoo, Lauren is singing Any Man of Mine, and I'm caught by how out of breath she appears. I don't know if she's nervous or if she literally ran from makeup to the stage. This did not work for me at all...and what in the WORLD is she wearing. Steven starts with how much he loves her voice (he hated it), but says he simply wishes it were more kick ass. Jennifer says its time for her to step up her game, that she can sing...Randy says her voice is bigger than what she just did, and I think Lauren knows that. The sheepish thank you at the end of her performance was a bit of a clue. When asked how she thought she did, she said "I had a good time". Translation: Steven told me he runs laps before performances and I thought it would help me. Poor thing..not her best performance by a country mile.

Casey is singing A Little Help From My Friends, By Joe Cocker, which I love, if for no other reason than we get a clip of Joe Cocker...who...what is the deal with Joe Cocker? He's the reason i think the term batsh!t was coined, even though no one would dare apply it to Uncle Joe. I love Casey. He's got a great vibe going on, and wait...what is this? A chorus! This guy is crazy and the very awesome thing he did was resist the urge to do the Joe Cocker growl when the music breaks in this song during the bridge (you know the part...where the chorus sings "do you need anybody??" and all Joe can do is growl?) This worked for me...I love him in spite of the fact that I think Casey is one bad critique away from a manifesto. Jenny from the Block says she goes by what she feels, and that she loved it. She says it blew her away and that she grabbed Randy at one point and said "what am I watching?" and said she was watching someone important. Randy said he loved it, and listening to him is fun. Steven calls Casey a rainbow of talent and a plethora of passion. Hookay.

Ashthon is singing Diana Ross and she sounds good in rehearsal...for a bit. But I'm kinda over Ashthon so let's see how this goes. Oh this begins rather rockily (is that a word?) for me. Her voice sounds very unsure of what's she's doing. I applaud her taking the judge's advice about Diana Ross, but And oh! I just looked up and she's channeling Diana Ross. What a mess. I'm glad this is over. Randy says he liked it...what? He calls it a safe move but that he thinks she grew with the performance. And Steven agrees with Randy that there's a lot more to see from her. Jennifer says she could tell that it got away from her in some places, but compliments her for pulling it back together, and that while she would have preferred a more familiar Diana Ross song, all in all it wasn't bad. And...

...WHAT? Just what the hell??? This is the second week that they've soft pitched their critique to Ashthon. What do they see that I am not seeing? That performance was, at best, beneath mediocre and the only one who even hinted that it was less than a home run was Jennifer. It's clear Ashthon is an early favorite for the judges, so she needs to step up her game and be worthy of it.

Paul's idol is Ryan Adams (who?), and he's singing I Wish You Would (I think). Uh-oh. I really like Paul, but it may hurt him that this is not a familiar song (or maybe it is to everyone else but me). Paul's very quirky, which is great, but quirky and an unfamiliar song may not work for America. Steven says it was a little pitchy, and to find a song next time whose chorus is in a comfortable key for him, but that he loves him. Jennifer says he really touched the audience, and that she hasn't heard of the song EITHER. Randy has heard of the group, and loves him for the show he put on. But both Jennifer and Randy both say they hope the audience gets him. Another soft pitch critique, but it's okay because I like Paul.

Random? What is the deal with House? That's a creepy dude, right there.

Pia's up next, and she looks so pretty. She's singing Celine Dion's version of All By Myself. She's rocking it in rehearsal, let's hope that continues. This is quite good, I think. How come we didn't see much of her before the final 24? She's doing a great job of making this not too treacly. Nicely done, Pia. Steven loved it - they showed his face while she was singing and he was mesmerized. Jennifer is nearly speechless wondering how she could top last week, but that she did it. Randy says she has such a natural gift that he was impressed that took on one of the big three (Mariah, Celine, or Whitney). Steven said that she slammed it, and that is was the culmination of all the work she's done so far. Um, Steven? Let's hope that culmination comes in about 10 weeks or so, Steven. Peaking now would not be a good idea.

James Durbin (Adam Lambert wannabe) is singing Maybe I'm Amazed...a song I love, so I'm gonna need him to not eff this up. Okay, well he idolizes Paul McCartney, and it actually sounded good in rehearsals. Okay, it wasn't bad, but singing Paul McCartney while wearing chains doesn't quite compute for me. Yeah, it was good. I just don't like him. I admit it's probably personal. Randy says he's one of his favorites, and goes on to tell a story so that he can name drop a bit. He said that he slayed it and loved the falsetto (that WAS nice). Steven says that he did a great job...actually he rambled a bit and it was lost on me. Jen tells him to get used to the applause as he has a wonderful melodic quality to his voice. And then James demonstrates why he gets on my ever-loving nerves by playing volume games with the audience. Really, Kid. It's enough. I don't honestly think he's as full of himself as he seems to be, but every class I've ever taken says perception is reality, so there. He's pompous.

Hayley is singing LeAnn Rimes' Blue, the song that made everyone compare Lee Ann Rimes to Patsy Cline. And...uh...I'm not sure about it. The first note made me scrunch up my nose. Yeah, her yodeling is awkward. I do like her though, and I like this song. I'm just not sure about her singing this song. She looks lovely again tonight. JenVen really liked it; Steven says it was beautiful and that the country western world was roaring. Jen said the yodeling was special, and I'm pretty sure she didn't mean special the way I would have. Randy said it's good that she changed it up from Alycia Keys, but said it was boring from him. She plucks my nerves by trying to talk over Randy's critique; everyone knows how much that bugs me.

Jacob Lusk is singing R. Kelly's I Can Believe I Can Fly. Really? Is your Mom okay with you idolizing R. Kelly, Jacob? Jacob's video is memorable for his RIDICULOUS fade that he was sporting when he was 9. And that makes me feel old since guys were rockin' the fade when I was in COLLEGE. Okay, I don't think this song does his voice any favors...OH! chorus!! You can soar, Sweetie, just stop yelling at me. Okay, here's the thing about this...the big part of the song really worked, because Jacob has a big voice. BUT, I feel like perhaps he threw away the quiet part of the song to get to the big part, which makes me not love this as much as I could have if the quieter part had been more intense. Steven loves it and says he can't judge it. (um, Steven, 19 Entertainment called. They'd like a refund.) Jennifer says it's hard to judge him because he feels so much when he sings...which, yeah, I get it, but 19's calling you too. Randy sips from the Paula cup of happy saying he's happy about the talent, but it occurs to him that they picked the talent or some such nonsense. He notes that Jacob fell off a bit, but the end was awesome.

Cutie patootie Thea is singing Smile that she thinks is Michael Jackson but really it's Charlie Chaplin but of course Thea doesn't know that because she's 15 and has never heard of a life of silent movies. The beginning of this is lovely - she has a lovely tone to her voice but then...the music speeds up and it has a Lauryn Hill vibe and whatever that note was is not a note that the band is playing. But it got better toward the end. I'm decidedly eh on this. Randy loves the intro (I KNOW!) comparing her to Michael and Adele, but then didn't love the music arrangement and wishes the whole sng had been like the beginning. Steven agrees with Randy, but eases off when he can see Thea is slightly upset by the critique. Jennifer thought the arrangement was interesting, and by that she means lousy. Thea says she felt "a lot more better" at the beginning of the song. And. Yeah.

We come back from the break and Thea is upset...poor thing. Stop crying, it was okay.

Stefano is singing Lately by Stevie Wonder. This should be good. I was so impressed with his wild card performance last week. But he needs to stop making the wonky camera faces and what the hell is this arrangement. Oh I hate this. The arrangement of this song is all wrong. Because this is one of my favorite songs, I KNOW that Stevie is tortured in this song. He realizes his lover loves another and he's broken up, but he doesn't want to say anything to her because he's afraid she'll leave. That is NOT a story that deserves a dance beat. Ew. Even Stefano's lovely vocal quality cannot cheer me up with that effed up arrangement. Steven says he pulled it off, and thought it was beautiful. Jennifer says that he had her dancing and that it's hard to do with such a classic ballad. Randy said he slayed it, and that Stevie would be proud. Again, his vocals were very nice, but I pretty much hated it. I have to listen to Stevie's version again to get this one out of my mind.

Karen is singing Selena. Oh, this will be tricky...singing Selena on front of Jennifer Lopez. Good luck. Oh. My. The beginning is shaky. Either she's nervous or this doesn't work for her lower register. The middle is better, but overall, as much as I loved Karen last week, this is not working for me. I was hoping to like this more. Jennifer says she looks beautiful (of course she does, she looks like Jennifer in Selena!), but says she was obviously uncomfortable up there, and that she was having pitch problems. Randy says it was sleepy for him...I liked the way Steven put it - she used up all of her energy to get to the end of the song...definitely not as good as I was expecting.

Scotty earns my love just a little bit more by saying "kicked up" in that country accent and it's kinda great. He's singing Garth Brooks' The River. Okay, so far Scotty is a bit of a one-trick pony. But his one trick is a good one. His voice is rich and melodic and this performance sounds about how you'd expect it would. Randy says if it ain't broke, don't fix it, and that country is where he belongs. Scotty is going to be in trouble if they have disco night this year. Steven loves it too...I think...Steven's been deep into the drink tonight. Jennifer is happy to see he's connecting with the audience and loves it too. If Scotty has a formula, he worked it tonight.

Last up, Naima is singing Rihanna. And again? SHE'S your idol? Nothing against RiRi, but seriously? Naima is lockin' and poppin' in rehearsal...this should be good. Okay, this is a lot more current than anything she's done yet, right? That's good, it makes her younger to me...oh whoops! Raggae Rap!! I actually like that...oh but wait what was the Beyond Thunderdome dance? Okay, I think Walter just summed it up magnificently: "what started as overzealous has disintegrated into a horse ass mess". Yeah, what he said. I'm confused by this whole thing and I'm glad it's last because my mind is scrambled. Steven said she had some pitch problems, but that he adores her for bringing something different. Jennifer just basically says damn what you heard, that was a great performance. Her critique is actually very constructive however, in terms of learning to control her vocals when she's dancing. Randy says he does care about the pitch, but that she obviously learned how hard it is to sing and dance at the same time. Hmmm...I'm still confused and it's not helped by Naima using the word overstand, instead of understand.

Bottom three? Maybe Karen, Ashthon, and Paul?

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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Ladies' Choice

The Idol ladies are taking the stage tonight, but first, the introduction. This is the first time this year I think I’ve heard Ryan say “this is..aMERican Idol!”. One thing that’s been held over from last year is the judges taking the stage first, and holy GUACAMOLE Jennifer Lopez is looking smoking fine. I’m not a fan of the thigh boots, but good Lord her hair is working it tonight. Stop it, Jennifer. I don’t have a crush on you. I don’t.

All of the judges give the usual speech about how you have to bring it tonight, with a little added emphasis on this being their only shot at the top 10. Steven notes he’s addicted to adrenaline, and tells the contestants they need to leave it ALL on stage tonight, to sing if it was an encore. And again, I cannot say enough how much better AI works that the judges are all performers in their own right.

Like last night (I think I failed to mention this in last night’s blog), the ladies can sing whatever they want. This is both a blessing and a curse. It’s great because you are not limited to a genre/body of work that may or may not work well with your singing style. It’s a curse because, as 9 years have proven, some of these poor things are just a mess when they have too many choices.

First up is Ta-Tynisa Wilson. Really? I wonder if she added the hyphen in Hollywood. She claimed in her audition to have been a Beyonce impersonator. And. Okay. She’s taking on, I believe this is Katy Perry, The Only Girl in the World. It would appear my bad mood may be holding over from last night. She’s more about performing than singing, and both of them are falling rather flat. I feel like she’s yelling at me on some points, and this whole thing just isn’t working for me. Steven says she sang the song beautifully…what? Jennifer says she liked her groove, but that it started off shaky. She goes onto say that she bought it home. Randy disagrees (okay, so Randy is going to be the judge with sense this season). Oh, Randy points out that it’s Rihanna (oops), and that her version was pale and her notes were sharp. In short, he didn’t like it. Jennifer says that being a performer is all about moving the crowd and that she did that. Randy said she didn’t move him. And my love for the Dawg grew three sizes just then.

Next up is Naima Adedapo. Ryan likes her dress, but I wonder what the hell she’s wearing. She’s taking on Summertime and even with the touchy feely introduction, she better KILL this. This song has too many memories with AI. Okay, to her credit, she’s changed up the arrangement completely, and her version jumps a little more like it did in Porgy and Bess. I can’t figure out what it is about her that keeps me from loving her out and out – she has a great backstory and she seems so doggone likable. I do like what she’s doing tonight, though. She’s got a Leila Hathaway/Oleta Adams vibe happening and it works for me. I don’t’ know if I’d say she KILLED it, but she did a good job. Jennifer compares her to an exotic flower in a rose garden (Jennifer, it’s that ridiculous frock she’s wearing. Glad I could clear that up for you). Randy says it’s a little lounge act for him, and I agree, but good lounge act. Not Love Boat. Randy does bring up Fantasia, and even though she didn’t KILL it (his words), admits that she made it her own (19 Entertainment? I’m still available to judge, even though the Feds have decided to figure out a way to keep me employed for 2 more weeks…but that’s another rant). Steven Tyler loves her. He has loved her since he saw her and that hasn’t changed. He compares her to Ella Fitzgerald, which is HIGH praise in my book.

Kendra Chantelle is singing some song I don’t know, but she sounds great. She won me over singing Blackbird in Las Vegas. Wait – is she singing some version of Aretha Franklin’s Ain’t No Way? Okay, I need to rewind this, I’ve spent so much time trying to figure out what this tune is that I’ve only halfway listening. Okay, I still don’t know what this song is, but I liked it – she sounds great, and looks beautiful. That last note was kind of wonky to me, but did you SEE Steven Tyler looking at her like he wanted to have a Kendra Sandwich? Okay, Randy clears up the mystery somewhat – it’s Christina Aguilera. Randy loved it, saying he felt connected to her and compares her to Lauryn Hill. He said that she had a few notes that didn’t work for him, but overall, nice job. Steven Tyler (not surprising to anyone who was watching his face while she was singing) said that she sounds and looks hot and says she’s the whole package. Jennifer says she has heart. She notes she fought her way into the Top 12 and that she belongs there, but that she thinks that performance just scratched the surface. Nicely done, Kendra.

Random? I kind of want to see this movie Beastly.

Rachel Zevita is going all out burlesque tonight. Oh, the throwing off the cape may not work for her in this crowd. Oh wait! This is Fiona Apple. What the hell has she done with this song? So I’ll say this – I LOVE her dress, and my inner lounge singer loves this. She works the stage and she’s a true vamp. BUT, I don’t know how this is going to go over with the judges. It was totally Broadway, and to my everlasting chagrin, they always say that like it’s a bad thing. Steven loves her swagger but says – I defacate you not – that “it’s a little too Broadway for him. Not that it’s a bad thing, I thinks it could be your niche”. And OH MY GOD GET OUT OF MY HEAD STEVEN TYLER. Rachel says she’s never done Broadway before, and Steven just lets that comment sit there (one more reason to love these judges). Jennifer says it’s obvious she belongs on a stage, and she needs to decide how she wants the audience to see her, and she wishes she could have seen more of the talent that landed her into the top twelve. Randy, obviously wanting his fellow judges to lay a little more smackdown pipe, says point blank that it wasn’t great, he didn’t like it, he didn’t get it, and that he didn’t even recognize the song.

Karen Rodriguez is singing Hero and my goodness, she’s channeling Jennifer Lopez in Selena for me. Maybe it’s how often she changes her hair up. She looks lovely and oh my gosh – she just started singing in Spanish and I love her. I love this. This is very understated and maybe she’s getting an extra boost from Rachel just being a lively mess on stage, but this is so refreshing – her gown, her voice. I’m loving this performance. And she just said “I love you Mom” which put a lump in my throat. Very nice. Jennifer keeps saying “wow”. And of course, because she’s seeing herself on stage. Jennifer compliments her on going effortlessly from English to Spanish, Randy says he loves that she was herself up there. Steven says that she needs to record that song with Jacob. In short, we all loved it.

Next up? Lauren Turner is singing yet another song that I don’t know. She’s kinda got a vamp vibe happening too, but unlike for Rachel, it’s working for her. Maybe it’s the song, but I think it’s because her vocals aren’t lost in her performance. She can really sing – she’s got this raspy thing that works and even though she kinda yelled the last note at me, I thought this was very good. Randy says “that’s how you do it”. He compares her to Amy Whinehouse (okay, I can get that), he loves her bluesy soul vibe. Me too. Steven calls her spectacular, and even though he wasn’t sure in the beginning, by the end he loved it. Jennifer says she loved it, but says she’s gotta bring it more. More tips on performing, which is awesome for these kids, but says she thought it was great.

Back from break that kid whose name I think I’m trying not to learn further because I don’t like him (the Adam Lambert knockoff) irritates me by standing next to Ryan and making a nonverbal height joke. And really? I can tell that Ryan is IRRITATED. And so am I. Know your role, kid. How rude.

Anyhoo, Ashthon Jones with the pretty eyes is singing, I think this is Monica. The song is Love All Over Me, and this is only okay for me. I don’t hear much difference from when I hear it on the radio, except maybe her notes aren’t as strong as they are on the radio. But I do like her and hope she gets to stick around past this week. On the whole, I think the ladies are stronger this season. As you can see I’ve kind of moved on from this performance – that’s how mediocre it was for me. Steven calls her Jonesy…which I like. He says she goes places with her voices and that they’ve found one. One what? I don't know...that's just what he said. Jennifer says she’s got the makings of a diva, the confidence, the big hair, the composure, and Ashthon says she gets it from her (Jennifer). And it was a sweet moment, not a cheesy one, even with the neck roll. It leads to a great exchange where Ashthon does a little Jennifer imitation, and I think Jennifer is flattered. Randy agrees with them, but says he didn’t love the song choice. In fact, none of them commented on her song, just her. Translation – we didn’t love that but we love you and want you to stick around.

Julie Zorilla is singing Breakaway. Always a risk when you sing one of the former Idols, in my opinion. In could work in a “gee-I-really-want-this” kind of way, or it could fall flat in a “wannabe” way. And while Julie looks lovely, I feel like this is falling flat for me. Maybe it’s because she’s not doing anything all that different from Kelly’s version, or maybe it’s because I really love this song and she needed to wow me. Whatever the reason, I like her, but didn’t like this. Jennifer didn’t love it – saying she didn’t know if it was completely believable. Randy says she didn’t bring anything different or new to the song (I know, it’s so sad how much they copy me), but further that she didn’t sing it as well as Kelly did. Steven says it was the wrong song for her, that perhaps if it had been a couple of keys higher it would have showcased her voice more (reference my last blog about how the judges are so much more constructive this year).

Haley Reinhart is singing Fallen, the song that got her to Hollywood. And I was about to slam her for that, but she may have known what she was doing on this one because it sounds AWESOME. She’s got one heck of a voice. Okay, I have to pause satellite here for this –

At this point, she’s singing and Jennifer’s watching, and you see Jennifer say “Come On!”, like you’ve got this girl, let it go. That might be my single favorite moment so far this season. Jennifer GETS it.

- okay, back to Haley…she can SING. Her performance is actually a little wonky for me (memo to Haley – next time get a standing mic – it’ll force you to stand still). Still, I’ll take bad movements and a great voice anyday. Oh my goodness – she worked that out. Still though, she’s going to have to sing something different to earn my total love, but that was AWESOME! Randy didn’t love it, saying it felt karaoke to him. That he loved the Joplin in her voice but that it was gone. Steven says that he thought it was the right amount of sass and sexy and if he agreed with Randy, “they’d both be wrong”. And. BWAHAHAHAHAHA. Jennifer said she loved it but that she needs to get out of her head, that she seemed like she was thinking too much about her movements. Anyhoo, she should SAIL into the top 10 based on that performance.

Thia Megia is singing one of my all time favorite songs – Out Here On My Own from the movie Fame (and I’m not just saying that because I sang it one summer at camp and even though if I were to hear the tape now I’d think it sucked, I was really feeling it in 1985). Oh, the spotlight and the a capella…nice. She’s one of the teenagers, right? I love this. I love her. She looks beautiful and I can’t believe she’s this composed on this big stage. Some might say this was a little TOO understated, but I really think it worked. Of course, I could be biased. She’s FIFTEEN. Steven comments on her perfect pitch, and that it was beautiful. Jennifer loves the quiet moment in the middle of all of these big performances. And. Word. She said it was special. Randy says that the mark of a great singer is the quality of the tone, and that her tone reminds him of Michael Jackson and that’s he loves her. Ryan says that he’s going to need proof that she’s only 15. She was remarkably composed. I really liked that. I’m glad the judges did too.

Lauren Alaina has straightened her hair and is working some Reba McEntire. She’s good, and another one that I don’t believe is only 16. I think the band may have overpowered her a bit, but all in all, that was very good. Jennifer loves it. Randy says he likes it, but there’s so much more in there for her, and he compares her of a cross between Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, and that he wonders if she knows how good she is. Steven says it was good, but she doesn’t need to power sing every time, that he misses it when she doesn’t sing understated. Lauren calls Ryan “Peaches” because they are both from Georgia…and I kinda love it.

Pia Toscano closes out the night with the Pretenders’ I’ll Stand By You, and I love it. I love the beginning of this. She looks so beautiful…and she’s slaying this. Her vocals are lovely, and she’s got power in all the right places – very nice. You can see by Randy’s face that he loves this. Oh, she got the standing ovation from the judges. Yeah, it was that good. Randy says yo about 15 times and then he says she put herself in the top with such amazing vocals. Steven says “After Monday and Tuesday, even a week says WTF”. I think that’s his way of saying that she rocked it (and that Paula’s cup isn’t gone). Jennifer says she was a little tricky, that as good as they knew she was, she was saving that performance for when it counted. It was awesome. Congrats, Pia.

All in all, I think tonight was stronger than last night – I would probably keep more of the girls than the boys, that whole five and five thing sucks. But it would not surprise me if the judge’s picks are all women.

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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

It's Your Thing

American Idol surprised me. I forgot it was on tonight. The guys are singing, this is the first live show, and the audience is feeling Jennifer and Steven as much as I am. I think Ryan said that the top 5 vote getting boys and girls, plus the judges wild card picks would go forward next week, so I guess they aren't going to spend the next three weeks getting to the top 10. Oh AI, I am loving you.

First up, Clint Jun Gamboa, who is singing Stevie Wonder. Very Superstitious. Something about this kid bugs me...maybe i haven't forgiven him for being so awful to JayCee. Anyhoo, i find this very screechy. I will give him was a bouncy performance, and the vocals were okay, but the whole thing was eh. For me. Steven says that it was brilliant...What?? Jennifer says his obvious jitters didn't affect his performance. Randy liked it maybe I just don't like Clint Gamboa because it wasn't there for me. But it must have been hard to go first.

Jovany Boreto is singing I'll Be, the song Edwin McCain never wishes he wrote after AI contestants have spent the last ten years murdering it. That was kinda nice, I have to admit, even though he's not doing much more with the song than the radio did...which could hurt if someone invokes the term karaoke. Steven loved it. Jennifer is happy because we can see what Jovany can do (she's TOTALLY crushing on him) Randy says it felt karaoke for him, proving that it was the chair I was in tune with, not Simon.

Jordan Dorsey is covering Usher. Oh no. This is wrong. First of all, this isn't a vocally complicated song so it doesn't really demonstrate his talent. Second, its too early in the competition to be taking on performances, People. You need to focus on singing. Third, I find Jordan to be a bit of a pompous ass, so he really needs to kill it, which he didn't do. Steven says it's not his favorite performance. Jennifer says it felt fake to her, and that she's not at all convinced that's the type of performer he wants to be. Randy says it paled in comparison to the original and that when that happens, people are quick to say you don't measure up to Usher. Here's why that performance is going to hurt him...the people who actually VOTE, allegedly, are older than the Usher demographic.

Next? My early favorite, Tim Halperin. He's been very pleasantly surprised by how supportive the other contestants are...ahhh...He further endears himself to me by singing one of my favorites, Streetcorner Symphony by Rob Thomas.'s not that good to me. Maybe he's nervous, but it sounds like he's in a completely different key than the band. It feels forced and manic, and oh boy. Not good, Tim. Steven says he doesn't think the song did him any justice. The audience boos him and Steven argues by saying "nevertheless..." And. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Jennifer says he has one of the best voices on the show. Translation? That sucked, but let's hope no one holds it against you this week. Randy rounds out the pan, saying that's not the singer he is, that the song was okay, but didn't fit him.

Carrot Top, aka Brett Lowenstern (maybe) is singing Light My Fire. And I don't love this EITHER (am I in a bad mood?) But a stylist has gotten a hold of those curls because his hair is awesome. That's the best thing I can say about's the thing about this song: there's such an urgency in Jim Morrison's voice when he sings that song, and it builds to the end. Carrot's performance went nowhere. For me. Im the only one who feels this way though because Steven and Jennifer love it. Jennifer comments on his fabulous hair. Randy appreciates his performance, even though vocally it wasn't that great. He said he had fun with it.

I don't think my mood is about to improve because I. Do. Not. Like this guy. James Durbin chooses You Got Another Think Coming, by Judas Priest. Maybe I'll change my mind because I wasn't a fan of Adam Lambert at this stage of the competition either. Steven uses the little decorum card that Ryan gave him in the beginning of the show, saying it's [bleep]ing good. Jen says it's "crazy good". Randy says it's set the bar and his vocals were brilliant. Yup, he said brilliant. I don't see it. Waltie thought it was very karaoke, but he also said he may have a bias that hard rock has no place on this show.

Robbie Rosen sings Sarah McLachlan's Angel. This is okay. He's got a few too many runs for my taste, but it's by far my favorite of the night, which is really damning with faint praise. Steven thinks it was beautiful, and that the audience was feeling it. Jennifer says you feel connected to Robbie when he sings. Randy said he differs from his *cohearts*, which if he meant to do that, it's kind of cool....but something tells me he mangled the world cohorts. Anyway, he borrows Simon's line, that he will not like it as much as he thinks he does when he sees the video.

Scotty continues to dance with the girl that bought him, singing a country song, Letters From Home, by John Michael Montgomery. He has such a nice voice, it's hard not to like him even though I totally dozed off. I liked it, and so did the judges. StevRanFer were unanimous in their thoughts on his performance. Randy even goes on to say that he appreciates that he's not trying to be a crossover country artist.

Stefano Langone sings one of Alex's favorite songs, You're Amazing. It was mostly good, but then this one note made both Jennifer and I sit straight up. That was funny...Jennifer Lopez does not have a poker face. No worries though, it was pretty good, especially considering that this night has been mired in mediocrity. RanjenVen seem to love it though, confirming that I am the problem tonight.

Paul McDonald is singing Maggie May. This is a good choice for him, as he's a very quirky guy. Having said that, I don't know exactly how I feel about this, and one should never be ambivalent about Rod Stewart. Steven loves that he has a character in his voice and says nice going. Jennifer enjoys his dancing, and that his smile lights up the place, and i can see her point. Randy says he loves how unique he is, and that he did a good job.

Jacob Lusk takes on Luther Vandross, A House is Not A Home. Hmmm...I need to dig out my Luther...I still miss him. Okay, Jacob's eyes go a little wonky when he sings and I can't watch that. He looks very handsome tonight...I can tell Steven likes it because he throws his hands over his eyes. Steven says his voice makes him cry. Jennifer says that he makes him happy because Luther is gone, but we have Jacob. And Randy heaps on more praise. I think Jacob can go far into the competition...he's very likable, and there's no question he has a powerful voice. Song selection is going to be critical for him.

Here's why I think I'm in a bad mood - the songs are too short. I don't get enough notes to really get a sense of if I like it. Thats why I have no opinion on Jacob: given 2 minutes, he could have made something happen, but with however long they have tonight, they have to rush through and that's why it felt forced.

Last up for tonight - Casey Abrams, who is singing Put a Spell on You. Oh, I love him, even though I think he just growled at me. He's got this Joe Cocker thing happening tonight, which is totally working. For me. Okay, this is the most genuine performance of the night. This guy's got a little of the batsh!t in him. Steven calls him unreal, and Jennifer calls him sexy. How cool is it when Jennifer Lopez calls you sexy? It would be like Steve Jobs calling you a visionary. Randy loved it too. I'm kinda mad that I had to wait until the end of the night to get a good performance.

That's all for tonight, Friends!

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