Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Castro-ized??

That's like being exorcised, only without the excitement! (Groan...work with me, here...) I do believe Jason Castro will be hittin' the high road tonight! He seems embarrassed to be there and just floats through the songs like he could care less. Believability? Doesn't have it! How and I decided lastnight that he would be a great singer at a resort somewhere, when you want to relax and have not a care in the world. But, as far as buying his album or going to his concert? I don't think so! Too bad he's never come back after his Hallelujah night...that was stellar. Brooke was scared, and thinking, yet AGAIN! She was way more comfortable behind the piano, though. Syesha was believable, but still woefully out of tune. Not that every great singer sings on pitch, but I think she is still unable to center her notes and just slides into them and crashes on top of them in a panicked frenzy. She is absolutely adorable, though. My little Archie sang America, which I was hoping no one would try to sing. Argh. Didn't care for it. However, my daughter claims he is "so cute; I just want to squish him!" Apparently, a strong pull toward the 13-year old segment of the population! I thought David Cook was genius, again, and found myself wanting to see him in concert when this is over. I am guessing we will be saying goodbye to Jason, Brooke, or Syesha. If they aren't in the bottom three, then "vote for the worst" is in full swing. I still look for it to be a David squared final show. Yay!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

my Idols


Here's a pic of my little Idols.

Hell Yeah

In eager anticipation of tonight's Idol, here's a lofty wishlist: for David Cook to sing, "Hell Yeah", from Neil Diamond's 12 Songs produced by Rick Rubin. David would rock at that song, and it would fit him soooo well. I wonder if Syesha might sing, "You Don't Bring Me Flowers"...I could see her enjoying that one. I hope no one sings "America"...not my fave Neil song. I'm really curious to see what Jason Castro will choose. David Archuletta....hmmmm...how about "Hello Again." That would be beautiful. Brooke White is the one I'm not sure about. She is finally in a genre she can embrace, though, so it should be interesting. One thing we can be sure of, Neil Diamond is awesome and his songbook is vast, so it will be a fun night. Enjoy! Here's hoping the kids learn something from the master and don't think so much while they sing...just live in the moment, baby! :o)

forms

Yesterday brought about an interesting development. I had to fill out a form for Mason, to answer questions about bladder and bowel control so that he can work a therapist who specializes in such matters. The form was only a front and back piece of paper, but it was agonizing in terms of trying to fill it out. The questions included things like: "Do you have pain when you urinate?" "How many times do you urinate during the night?" "Do you hold your bowel movements until certain times of the day?" "Do you dribble after urination?" Out of about 50 questions, I had to answer "I don't know" to 30+. Argh! It was painful! I mean, we have pictures on his communication device that deal with hunger, entertainment, people, etc., but we have no way of knowing if he has pain when he urinates. Just another example of why speech would have been a nice gift for Mas. Seeing as we've been attempting to toilet train him for 15 months now, this help will be much appreciated. I just hope the therapist isn't too bothered by the lack of information on this form!

cold mornings

I'm sick of cold. I'm sick of mornings. I'm especially sick of cold mornings. I'm sick of seeing frost in the mornings. I'm sick of seeing frosty grass in the mornings. I'm especially sick of hearing the dogs paws walk through the frosty grass in the mornings. Our normal average high for this time of year is 64 degrees. Yesterday, we made it to 44. That is not the same. Not even close! Today, there are rumors we may see 60 degrees. I'll believe it when I see it! To say this has been a long, cold winter seems redundant and expected...but, it has truly been a long, cold winter. May will be here soon...may it bring with it some warmth, already!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Spring can really hang you up the most...





Well, here are some pics of the beee-yoooo-tiful spring weather we are experiencing. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

nice spring rain

Well, the roof is tinkling with the sounds of a nice, slow, spring rain this morning. It's enjoyable to listen to and good for all of the peonies I planted last week. As much as I love a good ol' thunderstorm, (even better if it's tornadic!!) there's also something to be said for a nice, steady rain with no added drama. Speaking of added drama, how about Idol lastnight? I was shocked Brooke was still there, but after hearing she is now the "vote for the worst" choice, I imagine she'll stay awhile. What she needs is to just block out the crowd, quit trying to work it, and go out and sing. I think what's hurting her is her strange mannerisms and little facial movements that make you think she's faking. I think Jason and Brooke should go out for supper and enjoy this week; they are both marked now, and Syesha, too, for that matter. Maybe they should go to Applebee's and raise their glasses in a toast. I wasn't so sad to see Carly go; as talented as she is, she has been thinking too much, trying too hard, and overusing her vocal cords. It's exhausting to listen to. I think she was told she was great one too many times, she listened to that, and now she's in the trap that so many of those contestants get into..."But my friends think I'm the best!!" I imagine she was ready to go anyway, and I am soooo ready to not look at that awful tattoo anymore! Whew!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

oh no you di'int

Brooke, are you kidding me? What were you thinking? After your restart (second one of the season) you were caught thinking, AGAIN, while you tried to sing! ARGH! I know you don't need this show, but I like you, and a singer/songwriter is hard to come by in today's music scene. Starting over is one thing, but thinking yourself off the show is another. I can only assume you want to go home?! Jason, I didn't buy it, not for a second. Painful to watch. Carly, I still feel you are shouting and hurting your vocal chords. But, I did almost believe what you were singing this week. David A. and David C., bravo! I'm sure we'll see you both in the final show! Syesha, good girl! Way to work the bandleader and way to finally look like you are enjoying yourself. I think it's safe to say you were in the moment, out of tune notes and all! We can overlook the "pitchiness" for an in the moment moment. Nice job! I thought the Andrew Lloyd Webber moments were golden! He was hilarious and I'm sure he was wondering why he was there a couple of times! Yea Sir Andrew! I think Carly or Jason will be hitting the road tonight. It's getting interesting!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

peonies and cocoa shells

Well, I managed to extend my line of peonies today and now have 10 in a row on the side of our yard. After finishing, I managed to check out the entire row and noticed how horribly out of line it was. Argh. I decided it was meant to be and left it that way! So there! I mulched with cocoa shell mulch, which feels, smells, and sounds wonderful. I made the mistake of showing Mas how to put his hand in the mulch bag, grab a handful of mulch, and put it around the plants. He proceeded to put his hand in the mulch bag, grab a handful of mulch, and put it on mom's back and head. Nice! I was covered in cocoa mulch before it was all over. At least it smelled nice! Today was the first truly "nice" spring day we've had; barely any wind to speak of, and nothin' but "blue skies, smilin' at me..." It was lovely. Here's hoping for a few more blue sky days in our forecast.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

hands over your hearts

Well, America, you finally got it right! Gooooooooodbye, Kristy! My hammer, anvil, and stirrup thank you! I have only one thing to say about lastnight's vote off: "I'm Proud to be an American!" :o) I think Carly and Syesha are both in the crosshairs for next week; Brooke will be, as well, if she doesn't calm down and just do her thing. I still think the girls will be gone before the guys. Mariah was doing raspy Mariah, so I was a bit sad about that. Also, what was that song she was singing? I was not impressed. I haven't heard what next week's theme is, but am thinking they will eventually have to have at least one week that fits Brooke and Jason's styles. In closing, remember to salute your nearest flag today to honor the brave men and women who voted Kristy off the show! (Insert fireworks here!)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

arbitrary numbers

So, Idol was pretty good lastnight, eh? I was glad to see they did some old school Mariah, especially "Vanishing", which is a great song. I have a prediction that we're going to be left with guys at the end, though, since all of the girls are so busy thinking while they're singing. (Just watch them, and you can see their thought process showing up in their pained expressions...) I think if you are really singing a song, you should be so immersed in your music bath that your only thoughts are on the song that is coming out of your mouth. I do think Brooke had a rough night, and although I really like her and would buy her album, I don't think they've really had a night where she can shine yet. She's obviously talented and will be a great singer/songwriter, but maybe she is feeling out of her element on the show as of late. I felt like Carly actually oversang/overthought her song, again, which is too bad. You could actually see her processing while she sang, which is a sure sign that someone is not in the moment. Syesha picked my favorite song of the night, and did well, except for a low run midway through that was nowhere near the right pitches. Kristy Lee Cook did exactly what I expected; butchered a song and held on to her Star Search notes, off-pitch, for an incredibly long and excruciating time. Argh. I would hope this will be her last week. I thought Jason Castro was smart in his choice and arrangement, yet again, and found it okay. David Archuletta was believable and did exactly what I had hoped he would; wrapped his arms around a great big ballad and went for broke! Go, Archie! I think David Cook was the smartest of the night, again, and I am hopeful it will be a double David showdown at the end of this whole thing. By the way, when did people stop working on their low registers? Either key those songs up a couple of steps, or avoid that low range altogether! Why aren't the coaches steering them away from this? There's more to a song than the big money notes at the end; they all need to work on their beginnings and their song set-ups; even David Archuletta is not immune to sounding sharp and breathy in his low register. However, I digress. The title of this post is "arbitrary numbers," which was inspired by viewing one of my fave reality shows, The Biggest Loser. Lastnight was the season finale, and I was reminded of one of my Biggest pet peeves as of late, that is, referring to giving something "110%." Now, people, isn't 110% as arbitrary an amount as, let's say, 137%? Or, 169%? Let's say what it is: I feel as though I can give 97-98%, and save saying 100% for those really big moments. No one is capable of giving over 100%. Just my 2%.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

assume the crash position...

Well, so here we are on Tuesday again, waiting for American Idol. I was sad and shocked to see Michael Johns go home last week, if only because that type of swagger is usually reserved for people who are already recording. I think the voters got it wrong, but I do think he was in a tough niche and that he sometimes got lost in the flotsam and jetsam of it all. One would hope that this week will be the last week of Kristy Lee Cook, whose singing makes me cringe. It reminds me of Friday afternoon student forums in college, where a group of us would "assume the crash position" as certain singers got up to muddle their way through something Italian. I think there is where I grew to hate sopranos. And bad singers. And muddled languages during bad singer's songs. I can remember only enjoying two sopranos during my 5 years as a music major at SDSU; Nancy McIntire, and Shari Peters. I seem to have a huge distaste for high pitches. Which brings me to tonight's coloratura package and guest artist, Mariah Carey. (To think, Michael Johns was going to do my favorite MC song ever, Vision of Love...sob, weep, sniff...) Let's hope Mariah does us all a favor and shows up tomorrow night in full voice, not the raspy, wispy, thinned-out voice that some rapper told her was hot. I miss hearing her blow through her 8 octave range with no apologies, and heading up to that coloratura range while taking no prisoners. I hope to see her there and strong. As far as the Idols go, I'm curious to see what Carly will do with Mariah; my guess is she'll oversing something that's not very popular. Brooke may struggle; hopefully, she'll take one of Mariah's strong melody songs in her own way and "keep it real", to quote Randy. Syesha will try to Whitney-ize something and go overboard. I expect David Archuletta to have a good night; Mariah's songs shouldn't scare him off, and he's been a strong, full-voiced ballad singer all along. Jason Castro may struggle with finding a small enough Mariah song to Castroize; I don't think he'll be able to put a ukelele with very many Mariah songs and make it sound good. David Cook will have his brother in the audience tonight, who has cancer, so I'm hoping for an emotional delivery from him, with a catchy arrangement. Let's hope Kristy Lee Cook picks something dreadfully difficult and all over the place, so we can watch (listen to) her fall, once and for all. At least there will be something worth watching tonight.

Monday, April 14, 2008

spurring....

I'm spurring on spring by being excited to hit 49 degrees! Yes, 49 is our forecasted high, and I couldn't be happier! Nevermind that there are still 1 foot drifts in certain sections of the yard, or that Mas and I took a little slip on the front steps this morning due to ice, or that Skipper was walking on frost during his morning constitutional. It's mid-April and we all need something to be excited about. In that spirit, I did manage to put away ALL winter coats this morning, to ward off any more thoughts of winter. We'll see how that goes. (I even zipped them all up to make them harder to take out!) Hee hee! We may even be making hamburgers for supper, a sure sign that things are starting to look up. Come on spring, you can do it!

Friday, April 11, 2008

nicknames

"Beauty-Softyhead-BoBo-Paws-Chief-Snuggybear-Of The Southeastern Chief Snuggybears." "Senor Messyball." "Lump." "Chief." "Masinator." "Little Tornado." These are some of the nicknames that Riley has come up with for Mason. The first string of nicknames was started by her when she was quite young; it used to be a riot to hear her fly through all of those names; especially since she pronounced "snuggybear" as "snuggybo." Both kids are home today due to weather, so I was reminded of Mason's nickname of Messyball...as he can turn any clean space into a pigpen in mere moments. It's almost impressive, if you like to live in a pigpen, that is. If you don't, then it's probably not as impressive. Riley's nicknames are "Missy", "Thirteen", "Sweets", "Riley-Smiley" and my favorite, "Babycakes." That last one was started by my dad when she was just a baby. I can still hear him say it. My nickname growing up was "Motormouth." I have no idea where that came from.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

On vomit and peacocks...and tooting my daughter's horn...

What is it about watching your child perform that can just lay you out in mere moments? Riley played her trumpet solo this morning for her middle school solo contest. Before she even got in the room, she dropped her trumpet and dented up the bell really well; then I had to tell her the accompaniment program that they have all been practicing with wasn't working, so she would have to play her solo alone, with no accompaniment. Then, she buried her head in my shoulder, sobbing, saying, "I dropped my trumpet"..."I dropped my horn." I assured her we could get it fixed. As I went into the empty auditorium to watch her, (empty because usually only parents attend) I sat and watched her get ready and just felt sick inside. I just wanted to yell, "It's okay, honey! You'll be fine! Stay strong!" Of course, I just sat quietly as she began to play. I felt like I was going to vomit! She ended up doing great, then, about halfway through, sobs started coming up and her shoulders were heaving. She had a great judge, who told to relax because she was doing great. She ended up pulling herself together and finished, and the funny thing was, she even hit the high B's that normally plague her in this solo. I was so relieved! At the end, the judge said, "Nice tone, range, technical ability, vibrato...what else does a trumpet player need?" He then said he thought her band director must be happy to have her. I was so proud! Like a peacock! I'm still foolishly beaming and it was 4 hours ago! I'm so glad she was able to persevere in a tough situation and present her solo to the best of her ability. It's such great practice for life. I'm so proud of her preparation for this and for her ability to handle life's curveballs. Yea, Riley!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

come play the stick game, use your ears...

I've taken a few days off here...sick a couple of days, nothing to say on the others. After watching (listening) to Idol lastnight, I felt inspired to post a post about listening.

Last year, you probably remember watching Kellie Pickler claw her way through songs that were much bigger than her voice. People seemed to think she was an amazing singer; however, she was just cute to watch. I finally convinced people of that by having them listen to her sing last year with their eyes closed; people would call me up and say, "You're right." I was like, "Duh!" :o)

Lastnight that became apparent again with Carly and Brooke, both of whom I like. Carly, because somewhere behind the horrendous tattoo and inflammed vocal cords is a powerful singer, and Brooke because she is a singer/songwriter, and they will always garner my vote over just a singer. Anywhoo, I listened to both of them lastnight with my eyes closed, and guess what, Randy was not just being grouchy or vying for Simon's supposedly "rude" spot...they were both off pitch more times than they were on, both oversinging, and both struggling to center any pitch they came into contact with. Even Syesha had a few moments where she was just sliding around hoping to bump into the note she wanted; she also gets by on the "cuteness factor", like so many Idols before her. Even with David Archuletta's pitch troubles in his low register lastnight, I think most people agree he is in a class by himself as far as singing, performing, and believability go. Case in point; consider whether you believe what David sings vs. what Kristy Lee Cook sings. I can tell you right now most people would not buy an album by Kristy Lee Cook. They might watch her at a free concert at Sea World, but her eye candy appeal is the only thing that has kept her in this long; that, plus being really the only obvious vote for country fans. I challenge those of you who disagree with me to watch the next Idol sans vision; I can guarantee you will hear things that amaze you; and although you'll miss out of the contestant's beautiful outfits, no worries, since Paula will go over that for you in her "critique." Happy Listening.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

another one down

Just finished "Into The Arms of Strangers...Stories of the Kindertransport." How sad was this book? Way sadder than you can imagine. I guess the good thing is, so many people were able to save their children's lives by sending them on trains to strangers. The sad part was, the high number of children who were taken in to be servants, or to be sexually abused. Some weren't even allowed food beyond bread and water. It is very sad. One girl said she was only allowed bread and water and one morning when the family left for church, she went to the roast that they had leftover on the counter and grabbed a piece of it to eat on her bread. She said it tasted like heaven. The family came back inside because they forgot something, saw her with the meat, and slapped it out of her hands and forbade her to ever do that again. The "system", which was supposed to look out for these kids, was not always able to do its' job correctly, because the kids were afraid to tell anyone their troubles, or, their English was so poor that they were unable to talk to anyone. There was also a set of sisters who were preyed upon by the father of the family who took them in. When it came time for the older sister to leave, she refused to go because she didn't want her sister to be abused anymore. So sad. The worst story, in my mind, is the parents who put their little girl on the train and then asked her to open the window all the way down so they could hold her hands before she left. As the train started to move, the father was crying and said he couldn't let her go. She was screaming for him to let go of her hands. As it was, he ended up pulling her through the window and out of the train, and she lost her place on the Kindertransport. This was a major blow, since securing a seat on this train was difficult enough to do the first time, let alone to try to do it again. In the end, she ended up at Auschwitz and various other concentration camps and ended up being rescued in her early teens, weighing only 58 pounds. Her parents were both killed. It was a very sobering look at something most of us can never imagine having to do; putting our tiny children on a train bound for strangers. I highly recommend this book based on content, and also the manner in which it was put together; small, short stories, letters, and memories that are easy to read and put down, which is the only way through a book like this.