I don't know what it is about the month of March, but each year I dread it because it has been consistently the worst month of the year for me. Although I don't put a lot of stock in astrology, I would be willing to bet that my ruling planets are in retrograde or something during this time of the year. The last couple of weeks have been really challenging for me and those close to me. You can tell that April is coming though, because things are beginning to look up!
For instance, my dearest friend Melissa just received a long overdue promotion! Here she is showing off just one of the skills that earned her this recognition:
Oh, and then there's the fact that Jason Castro didn't get voted off of American Idol this week. Celebrate!!
Which means...it's that time again.
***Begin American Idol mutterings***
I cannot begin to write how disappointed, no, angry I was at my TV Boyfriend this week. Simon was almost spot on with his comments. I don't think that the problem is that Jason doesn't want to win, but that he doesn't know how to win. I gave him a pass last week because I felt that he got stuck with Michelle, but I'm pretty confident that he purposefully chose to sing quite possibly the most boring song in the entire Sting catalog. You just can't sing a largely unfamiliar song in the second spot of the show and expect to be successful, hence the visit to the Bottom Three Ville.
Incidentally, I did think Jason's performance was decent, and the vocals on the studio recording are very nice as usual. However, once again, Fragile doesn't grab me in the same way his three Top 24 performances did. Jason catches a lot of flack for not being a strong vocalist / performer, but I don't think he gets enough credit for doing as well as he has against a group that has mostly been performing their entire lives. He's never had a recording contract. He didn't win Star Search. He hasn't been playing clubs for years, honing his Jim Morrison impersonation. He does have appeal beyond his looks, and his inexperience and non-chalance makes me root for him. Unfortunately, I think those same qualities really hurt him this week.
You better man up and bring it next week, TV Boyfriend, or we're breaking up!
David Cook is amazing. Jason would be smart to learn from him. I hope he wins it all.
David A.'s performance this week confirmed for me why, in spite of his "masterclass" vocals, I can't get behind him. Someone call Fonzie stat - he and that song just sucked all the cool out of the room.
And unlike my TV Boyfriend, Michael Johns listened to me! I told you that that piece of advice works wonders for people. Too bad for him that there are no Queen songs in the Dolly Parton catalog.
***End American Idol mutterings***
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Sunday, March 23, 2008
It's hard to believe that this photo (Of Lauren, not George Lucas) was taken a year ago. She's certainly not a baby anymore. She's more like a room mate with bad taste in television.
This year's Easter basket was a hit. Her favorite component was a green Snoopy car that I bought on a whim. She didn't quite get the chocolate bunny on a stick though.
This weekend, I made lasagne primavera for this first time. The cheese puffed up real high in the middle, so high that we thought that an alien was going to burst forth. But the only thing that burst forth was our stomachs from eating too much.
In another first, Lauren dyed Easter eggs. We had a couple of close calls with the dye, but for the most part, our clothes and the furniture came out relatively unscathed.
Of course, she dyed the majority of them green.
Friday, March 21, 2008
Easter is way too early this year. I feel like I just did all this holiday preparation stuff a few months ago.
I guess that's because I did. Back then it was called Christmas.
Here are some cookies that I made that were inspired by The Pioneer Woman (I say "inspired" because mine are no where near as nice as hers.). The Pioneer Woman's blog is a must read. She is extremely witty and lives a vastly more interesting life than I do. In fact, once you start reading her blog, you may not even bother to stop by here, so why don't we just forget that I mentioned it, shall we? Good.
It's that time again!
***Begin American Idol Mutterings***
What a disappointment Beatles Night: The Sequel turned out to be! So many missed opportunities. So many cringe worthy moments.
Oddly, I'm starting to like Michael Johns. Maybe it's because I felt bad for him after the whole "Is he? or isn't he?" wearing an ear monitor discussion. Maybe it's because all this charisma that the judges keep alluding to really comes out when he's interacting with the other contestants or making an off-the-cuff comment. However, when he performs, the spirit of Jim Morrison takes over and just consumes his credibility. He needs to drop the Jim Morrison act and just be. Trust me, I've given this advice to others, and it truly works.
I liked David Cook the best, even though the use of the talkbox was over the top (Or "indulgent," as Simon likes to say.). Interestingly, the talkbox is not present on the studio version.
I'm going to miss Amanda. True, she wasn't the best of singers. Most of the time, she was just channeling the spirit of Janis Joplin (Perhaps she and Micheal Johns could tour together? All they need is a Hendrix wannabe to complete the set.). But she brought something to the competition that is sorely lacking - self-awareness. She did her thing week after week knowing that she didn't have a snowman's chance in hell of winning. And I liked her for that.
And then there's Jason - where to start? I don't really care for the song Michelle to begin with, so Houston, we already have a problem. I truly believe that he got stuck with it, because given that silly performance, I refuse to believe that he willingly chose it. I think the producers are trying to mold him into some kind of teen idol, and it's sucking all the coolness out of him. IT MUST STOP NOW.
The Jason Moves! experiment was an utter failure, proving our assumption that he has no idea what do to with himself when he's not sitting. He is extremely lucky in that he isn't the only contestant that has this problem (See Brooke White). Mark my words - the guitar will be back next week.
Now, for the good. He deftly handled the French part of the song (**puffs with pride**). And I thought that his singing was a lot stronger this week. In fact, the studio version starts out beautifully, that is, until the horrific arrangement kicks in, complete with high hat cymbals and electric(!) guitar riffs. Just awful, but no fault of Jason's.
Next week's theme is Songs From the Year You Were Born. Since eight of ten contestants were born in the eighties, that means it's essentially eighties week again. Will these people ever get to sing something current?!
***End American Idol Mutterings***
Monday, March 17, 2008
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Mark and I took the day off yesterday. We had originally planned to take Lauren to see Horton Hears a Who!, but changed our minds at the last minute. I know for certain that Lauren possesses the attention span required to sit through an hour and a half movie, but I don't think she's quite ready for the "movie experience" - sitting in the dark with a bunch of strangers having their senses assaulted by a giant flashing screen and booming stereo sound. Oh, and then there's the fact that Mark and I both despise Jim Carrey.
Anyway, it turned out to be the right decision, because Lauren wasn't in the best of moods yesterday and therefore probably wouldn't have been open to any new experiences. Mark and I are beginning to get the impression that we are so uncool that even a three year old doesn't want to hang with us.
Although the weather was dreary, the mild temperatures were just right for animal watching.
One of my favorite parts of the zoo are the roaming peacocks. It's one of the those things that I remember fondly from when I was a child (Them and the giant tortoise, who I believe passed away several years ago). This guy was grooming himself on a rock while his four girlfriends looked on. He was being a real stinker because he refused to fan out his feathers for me.
This is about as close as we got to having a polar bear "experience." The zoo opened a much publicized polar bear exhibit about a year ago where you could walk through tunnels under the exhibit and watch the polar bears swimming. What they don't publicize is that the polar bears only spend 10% of their day in the water. Lame!
More photos can be seen on Flickr
Thursday, March 13, 2008
The warm weather for the last two days has been a real treat. Lauren knew immediately that she could play outside. It's been a nice change of pace.
Even the crocuses are peeking out:
***Begin American Idol muttering***
I have loved The Beatles since I was about 6 years old, when my Aunt Phyllis took one for the team and let me "borrow" her copy of The Beatles Second Album (Which oddly has never been released on CD. Please don't tell, but I bought a Russian bootleg copy a couple of years ago. They might send the KGB after me! And you don't want Lauren to have to eat borscht the rest of her life do you? No one wants that on their conscience.)
Back on tangent. I used to play that album over and over again and pretend that I was playing guitar using a badminton racket. It had some great covers of "Roll Over Beethovan," "Long Tall Sally," and "Please Mr. Postman."
My favorite Beatle has always been Paul, and if you know me personally, this will make complete sense to you.
Anyway, I'm not sure which surprised me most this week:
-The invincible David A. forgot the lyrics to "We Can Work it Out" not once, not twice, but THREE TIMES.
-Chikeze, yes, THAT Chikeze, had the best performance this week.
On the other hand, I was underwhelmed by Jason's performance of If I Fell. It's one of my many favorite Beatles songs, so I was very excited when I read spoilers about an hour and half before the show reporting that he was going to be performing it (Yes, I'm that desperate.). While he was singing, I kept looking over at Mark and saying, "This isn't very good. Oh...this is bad! They're going to rip him to shreads!" Surprisingly, he ending up getting faint praise from the judges.
I listened to the stage performance a few more times, and it actually wasn't as bad as I originally thought. The studio performance available on iTunes is much, much better, as he hits the notes more forcefully. I think that he's so nervous when performing live that he runs out of breath which causes the money notes to just barely squeak out. Which makes him even more endearing to me.
To conclude, I rank this performance as my least favorite of the four. It's good, but I just don't think "If I Fell" lends itself to a solo performance. The harmonizing is critical. That what makes you want to sway along in the audience and throw your underwear on stage.
Next week, Jason really, really needs to step it up to gain his momentum back, preferably with something uptempo that, although it pains me to say it, DOES NOT INVOLVE ACOUSTIC GUITAR. He also needs to learn to work the stage, although I fear this could be a train wreck in the making. Could the bloom be off the rose already?
***End American Idol muttering***
In other news, we are taking the day off from work tomorrow. YES!
Sunday, March 9, 2008
Another wintry weekend has left us a little bit at our wits end. Nothing like being cooped up in the house with a bored about-to-be-three year old. I usually dread losing the hour with the time change, but this year, I'm looking forward to speeding this dull weekend along. Plus, the extra daylight will hopefully kick the blahs away. The blog should also benefit from the increased daylight hours, as I will have more opportunities to take photos during the week.
Other than entertaining Lauren, I made good on my word and baked some radical oatmeal cookies this weekend. I didn't take any photos because I'm running out of ideas on how to make cookies look interesting!
***Begin Idol Mutterings***
Of course, I'm ecstatic that Jason Castro made it into the top 12. There was no doubt since his performance on Tuesday night really made people sit up and take notice. He has grown a huge internet following, but the mainstream media continue to pay him no mind in favor of David A., Carly and Michael. Nonetheless, Jeff Buckley's version of Hallelujah has been the #1 download on iTunes all weekend. Plus, two of Jason's songs are outselling David A.'s. While David A.'s Imagine continues to dominate as the most popular Idol contestant download, David Cook's Hello is catching up, with Jason's version of Hallelujah right behind. Despite all this, I have no doubt that David A. will win this year. I'm really hoping that Jason finishes in the top four, because I don't think I can bear watching this show for more than a couple of weeks without his presence.
Anyway, I think Jason needs another strong performance this week in order to maintain his momentum. I'd really like to see him do an up tempo song without the guitar, but I don't think the first night on the big stage is the right time to do it.
***End Idol Mutterings***
I was pondering making Easter cards this year, but I'm having great difficulty getting a cute, smiling photo of Lauren. She keeps telling me that she doesn't want her picture taken.
See what I mean?
Sunday, March 2, 2008
Today, we went to visit great grandma Gert at the Vincentian Regency rest home, where she will be permenantly residing since her house is now sold. She celebrated her 89th birthday on Friday!
Grandma is doing well and is as spirited as ever. She doesn't care for her room mate too much (Who appears to be catatonic and therefore not enough of a conversationalist for Grandma), but she is looking forward to spending the summer tanning out on the patio. No one tans better than Grandma Gert!
Saturday, March 1, 2008
Wal-mart has all of their Easter candy sorted by color. It's really neat because they have bags of M&M's, jelly beans, Peeps and malted eggs sorted in single pastel colors. As I stood there marveling at the prettiness and the brilliant organization of it all, I suddenly felt the shopping basket that I was holding get heavier. I looked down to see that Lauren had placed two bags of green M & M's, a bag of green jellybeans, and two packages of green peeps inside.
Today, we discovered that Lauren can count in Spanish. Under normal circumstances, we would have stood awe-inspired by her precociousness, but since she chose to demonstrate this new skill in the middle of Wendy's by shouting CINC-O! O-CHO! over and over again, we simply made hasty retreat.
Lastly, it really bothered me that my last post didn't have a photo to accompany it. I was originally going to post a random photo of Lauren just for the sake of having one, but then the next day, the obvious choice struck me. So now the post is complete.