Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Missing In Action

Ok, so I missed my Idol analysis last week. First off, I threw my back out again last Monday. It wasn't nearly as bad as it had been before. I was out of work Tuesday and Wednesday. And while I was still able to make it to two previously-scheduled appointments, and to see my GP about the back (thank God for Mobic!), it meant that as soon as I got home, I went straight to bed. So I was able to watch Idol, but not to sit at the computer to blog about it. See, this is why I need a laptop. Well, one of the many reasons. Also, since Michael & Carly have been booted, I'm not nearly as interested in who wins. It will probably be Archuleta, who I don't think is the greatest thing since sliced bread, as the judges and teen voters apparently do.

Ok, so Neil Diamond night. We're at the point in the competition where each contestant gets/has to sing two songs. The producers try to switch things up by having the judges hold their critiques until the end of the first round. All that did was serve to confuse Paula. First round, they all were boring, so I won't even bother. Second round. Jason starts with September Morn. I thought it was good, but safe. Cook followed with All I Really Need Is You. I didn't know either of the songs Cook sang, and didn't really care. I thought he was fairly dull. He should be worried, but I'm sure he'll get the votes. Brooke moved behind the piano for I Am I Said. Much better peformance for the second song, but her first was far from the "nightmare" Simon said it was. Archuleta sang America, which I thought would have served Cook better. America is a rocking song, and little David is not a rocker. But I'm sure he'll get the most votes he's so good he's so cute yada yada yada. Syesha closed out with Thank the Lord for the Night Time. I didn't know the song but she kicked it with the performance. I think it was the best of the night. She's really starting to find her groove. As Simon said (and she agreed a bit too quickly), she's a good singer-slash-actress. She will do well on Broadway once the show & tour are over. I think bottom two will be Jason and Brooke (though it should be Jason & Cook). Jason will go home.

P.S. If you follow my "What I'm Reading" section on the right, you may notice I have two books listed there now. Since my back was hurting, and Dark Tower is such a ginormous book, I began carrying White Night (a smaller paperback) to work and reading Dark Tower at home. I should be finished with both soon, and will be back to one book at a time.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Mariah Night

Well, last night's mentor on Idol was Mariah Carey. Personally, I liked Mariah better when she started out. She didn't seem so full of herself and didn't dress like a slut. But, she's a very talented singer, so I was looking forward to seeing what she would do with the contestants. Despite the fact that she's got more number ones than the binary code (let's hear it for geek humor), I wasn't overly familiar with a lot of the songs. Archuleta started off with When You Believe. It was wonderful, he's great, yada yada yada. Carly followed with Without You. I understand what the judges mean about her confidence, which has been shaken over the last few weeks with lackluster performances, but I thought she did great. I often wonder what the judges are hearing that I am not. Syesha was Syesha singing Vanishing. I'm sure she was happy not to have to worry about the judges saying she was trying to sing Mariah. As usual, Simon gave her the backhanded compliment that she was technically very good. He was right. She's just missing something. But I think she was technically good enough to make it to next week. Next, Brooke struggled singing Hero. It was weird. It seemed like she started off a little shaky, then decided to just rush through the end of the song to get it over with. Kristy surprised everyone by actually doing a good job singing a Mariah song (Forever). I would never have guessed that she would have done well this week. But she did great - better than Simon & Randy gave her credit for. Looked hot, too. I know you'll be shocked, but I didn't care for David Cook's version of Always Be My Baby. I didn't think it was a "haunting rock ballad." I just thought it was slow and boring. Jason did a good job ending the night with I Don't Want to Cry. Not fantastic, but good. Should be good enough to bring him through to next week. I think we're getting to the point in the show where even really good performers are going to get eliminated. There's just not much choice at this point. I think Syesha, Brooke and Jason will be bottom 3 (David Cook and Jason should be there instead of Syesha and Kristy, but they won't). Brooke will go home.

Monday, April 14, 2008


Happy Birthday to my niece & nephew!! Today, they turn 22 and 16! Hope you guys had a great one!! Love you BIG!!!

P.S. Hey Bub, when are you getting your license?

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Sweet Science

Ok, I'm trying to be very supportive of my sister's sports blog (The Sixteenth Minute - plug plug). I understand, perhaps, her not following NASCAR or horse racing. But two posts on boxing (about the same fight) since going online in November of last year? Come on, Jack! Boxing is the very pinnacle of athletic competition. Two warriors, face to face, with but the slightest bit of fabric to separate fist from jaw. Now, I don't hold myself out to be an expert in the sport, but this is a very exciting time, for me at least, as an amateur viewer.

Oddly enough, at the same time as I write this, ESPN has just announced that they are not renewing The Contender. Last season (the 3rd) ended with a knockdown, drag-out fight between Jaidon Codrington and Sakio Bika that was considered by many to be one of the best fights of 2007. Other alums of the reality show include Alfonso Gomez (1st season), who is fighting Miguel Cotto tomorrow night for the WBA Welterweight title. K-9 Bundrage (2nd) just decisioned former title holder Kassim Ouma. Brian Vera TKO'd up-and-coming Andy Lee. Steve Forbes (also 2nd) is getting a shot next month against none other than Oscar De La Hoya. Finally, Sergio "The Latin Snake" Mora, season 1 champ, gets his title shot against Vernon Forrest in June. Hopefully, this level of competition from their contestants will demonstrate to another network that this show is worth picking up.

Outside of The Contender, in the "real world" if you will, Antonio Tarver will attempt to unify the IBF and IBO titles tomorrow night. Next weekend, Joe Calzaghe moves up to light heavyweight in an attempt to shut B-Hop's mouth. A tall order for anyone. On May 31, Ruslan Chagaev puts his heavyweight title on the line against the Russian Giant Nikolai Valuev. The following weekend, Kelly Pavlik puts his unified WBO/WBC middleweight title up against Gary Lockett. Finally, in July, Wladimir "Dr. Steelhammer" Klitschko (Chrissy and my personal favorite) has his first mandatory defense of his unified WBO/IBF/IBO title against Tony Thompson. If he is successful, he will then defend against Alexander Povetkin. Hopefully, then he will go on to unify all the heavyweight belts for the first time since Lennox Lewis. Like I said, a very exciting time!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


Ok, so Idol Gives Back is over. It was interesting seeing all the celebrities and all. It's just that it all seems so contrived and manipulative. Yes, I did give. Just like I did last year. Not because Miley Cyrus told me that there were starving kids in the ghetto... but because there are starving kids in the ghetto. Not to sound cynical or jaded (which I am), but these things just seem a bit much. But enough of that. On to my weekly analysis/prediction.

Well, I think we will have a first tomorrow night. I think Kristy Lee "Smokin'-est-contesant-ever" Cook will stay out of the bottom 3! Michael started off the night singing Dream On. Now, I don't know that I would necessarily go straight to Aerosmith for "Inspirational Night" but I would qualify this song... one of my favorites. Michael knocked it out of the park! He kicked ass. I still don't know what he's doing with the scarves/ascots, but the boy can sing. He even did the high pitch wail at the end. Excellent. Syesha followed with I Believe, by Fantasia. I wasn't familiar with this song, but I absolutely agree with Randy & Simon. She was technically proficient, but completely emotionally detatched. I think she's in the bottom 3 this week. Jason went off the charts with his song choice singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow, arrangement by some Hawaiian dude named Iz. It was an odd choice, but he made it work. He played the ukulele and made it work. Don't know if I loved it as much as the judges did, but definitely good enough to make it to next week. KLC stayed country with Anyway, by Martina McBride. Perfect song choice for her and she looked hot as usual. She should sail on through. I predict David Cook will make his first appearance in the bottom 3 this week after choosing to sing Innocent by Our Lady Peace. Not only is it too obscure a song without a good hook, it seemed like he gave up halfway through. I think there's a chance he will go home tonight, but I think he has enough fans to keep him around. Unless the voters have the same reaction to the white jacket that Simon did. Carly also struggled with The Show Must Go On. By now, you know my feelings about contestants singing Queen. Normally, I would have said Carly was an exception (she did pull off Heart), but she had the same problem Cook did - gave up half way through. I think she will round out the bottom 3. Archuleta sang Angels by Robbie Williams. Another one I don't know. Very weak start, but strong finish. Naturally, he'll sail through. Brooke finished out the night with You've Got a Friend, by Carole King. I only know the James Taylor version, but it sounded pretty close. Brooke did well. Not the most memorable or original performance, but good. She should be fine. Overall, I think Syesha, David Cook and Carly will be the bottom three and unfortunately, I think Carly will go home. I think she's one of the best and could win the whole thing, but she had a poor performance on a poor song choice.

Weekend and Idol

Well, we had a fantastic weekend in Lexington, Kentucky. We left early on Thursday from BWI, landing in Louisville (Loo-uh-vull). We rented a car and headed out. We had planned to stop on the way at Woodford Reserve Distillery (Woodford is the official bourbon of the Kentucky Derby). They have a "Picnic on the Porch" lunch, which we thought we'd check out before taking a tour. Given my penchant for pickiness, I wasn't sure I'd find something I liked, so we stopped for a snack on the way there. For the snack, I had my first White Castle burgers! While they were no Five Guys burgers, they were pretty tasty. I can see why they became Harold & Kumar's objects of obsession. The tour of Woodford was great. We got too see a brief film of the history of bourbon in America, the fermenting tanks, and the distilling machines ("machines" plural - Woodford is triple distilled). Then we saw where it is loaded into the casks, which are rolled to the aging house (it's aged 6-8 years), then the building where it is bottled and labeled. Finally, we went back up to the main house where we got to taste a sample. Naturally, since Chrissy doesn't drink (though she did try a tiny sip), I got two samples! :-) We left Woodford to head back to our hotel. Just next door to the hotel was Malone's Steakhouse. Malone's is one of Tom Horan's Top Ten Steakhouses in America. It is a reputation that is well deserved. The food and service were amazing. I started with the fried mozzarella appetizer (little balls, rather than sticks, of cheese in panko bread crumbs, thick marinara). For the main course, I had the Kobe NY Strip. This was my first experience with Kobe beef and it was delicious. Though, I think I should have gone with the Filet Mignon. The steak came with a house salad (no dressing, natch) and 1 side (the 1-lb. baked potato). Did I mention that I added the lobster tail on the side? Wash it all down with a glass of Fat Bastard Cab and you got yourself a damn tasty meal.

Friday, we met up with our friend Dianna (from Ohio) and made our rounds at the various horse facilities in Lexington. I don't even remember it all (though Chrissy remembers every detail), but it was great. We saw Derby winners (Smarty Jones), Preakness winners (Bernardini), and Belmont winners (Point Given). We saw movie stars (Popcorn Deelites - one of the horses who played Seabiscuit in the movie) and famous sires (Dynaformer - who was Barbaro's father). We actually got to witness a breeding, which was a little weird, but very interesting. We got to see Stormello, who was one of the main reasons we went to Kentucky. We finished up the day going to Old Friends, a home for retired thoroughbreds. We got to get a tour from the President and founder, Michael Blowen! He was a newspaper movie critic until he heard about Ferdinand, the 1986 Kentucky Derby winner, who got shuffled around until he was killed in a slaughterhouse in Japan in 2002. He then decided to open a "retirement home" for thoroughbred horses. It was very sad to hear about the shape some of these horses were in when they came in, but they are all happy, healthy and very much loved now!

Well, this has taken the better part of my lunch. Since Idol has their whole Idol Gives Back thing tonight, and the elimination show isn't until tomorrow night, I'll wait on the recap of the show until tonight or tomorrow. I hope you will find it in your heart to forgive me...

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Dolly Parton Night

It doesn't happen very often, but last night, I agreed with Paula. She said, and I agree, that even though people may not know a lot of the songs, Dolly Parton is such a great songwriter that the performances would be enjoyable and the songs great. I knew about 2 or 3 of the 9 songs sung last night, but enjoyed pretty much every one. I also knew it would be a rough night for Simon, as it is painfully obvious that he simply does not like country music. Any time someone sings a country-ish song, he is much tougher on them. Brooke started off singing Jolene (which I did know). I disagree with Simon, and thought it was a very heartfelt performance. I liked it. Cook, after the obligatory disclaimers about whose arrangements he's using on the songs, sang Little Sparrow. Dolly loved how "confident" David was. I think "arrogant" might be a better word. But he did fine. I'd like to see him do one song without his crutch... I mean, guitar. Ramiele, thoroughly starstruck by Dolly, sang Do I Ever Cross Your Mind. She did well (certainly better than she has to this point), but it's getting to the point in the competition that even if you do well, it may not be good enough. Jason also did well with Traveling Through. Same thing for Cook and Ramiele apply to Jason. He needs to do a song without the guitar and needs to do better than "well." Carly sang Here You Come Again. I thought it was a great performance. Much more restrained and controlled than we're used to with Carly, but showed that she doesn't need to belt in order to be good. Archuleta followed with Smokey Mountain Memories. I hate to admit it, but this was David's best in weeks. Fantastic performance. Excellent vocals. Kristy had the unenviable task of following the 17 year-old Wonder Boy, singing Coat of Many Colors. However, this being a country week, I expected her to have her best week so far. She did. I think she looks better more natural and less glammed out, though. Syesha, predictably, sang I Will Always Love You. Also predictably, she sang well, hit the big notes well, and Simon didn't like her because she's not Whitney. Michael finished up the night with It's All Wrong, but It's All Right. Wow. Holy moley. That was Michael's best performance so far and the best of the night. Hands down. That was the breakout performance Simon had been waiting for. Overall a good night for all. But like I said, good may not cut it. My money's on Ramiele to go home tonight.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Laurel Park

Well, we had a great time on Saturday. Today, April 1, is the fifth anniversary of the passing of my father-in-law. So Saturday, we had a race named in his honor at Laurel Park. It was the first running of the Tim Sinck Memorial Classic! We wanted to remember Tim, but not have a sad, mournful memorial. He was such a great guy, we wanted to honor him in an equally great way. The day began shortly before noon. Everyone met in front of the Clubhouse entrance, but since it was much colder than we had anticipated, people quickly began moving inside. Once everyone was there, we were brought up to the Brass Horse, which is a section of the dining room. We had the Brass Horse to ourselves all day, with our own teller, too! We had a sandwich lunch, with chips, potato salad, pigs in a blanket and cookies. Just after the third race, we were escorted down to the paddock to watch the horses being brought out for the fourth race (ours). After the horses were saddled, we were brought to the Winner's Circle. Fifteen or so people from our group were allowed to actually watch the race from inside the Winner's Circle! The rest of the group watched from around it. Abel Castellano, Jr. won the race on Dynamic Dan, a gray. Chrissy's grandad always said, "Always bet on the grays." After the official photo, our group was allowed to come back in to the Circle and get our picture with the winning jockey. Then, we went back to the Brass Horse to watch and bet for the rest of the day. It was a very fun day, and a good way to remember Tim.