What Are Your Super Bowl Plans

January 31, 2008

Super Bowl Sunday is just around the corner.  Are you ready?I grew up in a household where Super Bowl Sunday passed by like any other weekend (Nascar weekends were another story).  My mother went to an all-girl’s Catholic school with 12 in her graduating class so you never developed a taste for the sport.  A childhood injury that left my father with severe knee problems prevented him from playing football as a child; thus, football was never a priority for him.  In fact, football was a sport I never even watched until I hit high school.  

Now I live with a man who plans for the Super Bowl like others plan for Christmas dinner.  He’s been mulling over the menu for weeks.  A menu for our family of four – we aren’t even having a party.  Sometime on Sunday he’ll rearrange the furniture for optimal viewing.  He might toss around the football with the kids for a little bit, but by 2 p.m. he’ll be settling in for pre-game, venturing from the TV only for the preparation of game snacks.

Me personally, I’m somewhere in between the two.  I enjoy a good game, can’t wait for the parade of Super Bowl commercials, loved the camaraderie of a party and will sit and watch the half time show.

What about you?  What are your Super Bowl plans?

What is your favorite part of the Super Bowl?  What is your favorite Super Bowl snack?


‘American Idol’ Shows the Ladies Some Love in Miami

January 31, 2008

In Miami tonight, the American Idol auditions were all about the ladies.  In fact, we saw the auditions of seven lucky ladies end with a golden ticket.

MiamiOnly two of the men we saw auditioned advanced.  Former boy band member Robbie Carrico sang a little Lynyrd Skynyrd to earn three yeses from the judges.  And Venezuela native Ghaleb Emachah was so excited that his rendition of a Mark Anthony tune got him the nod that he kissed everyone on his way out – and I mean everyone, right down to the crew filming and the staff.

We were treated to a montage of the unsuccessful male campaign early on.  In the second half of the show we saw a few more of the unlucky men including a performance by Ben Hausbach that made you want to forget when rock was young.

Simon told 27-year-old Carroy Bethea that he was “over the top,” as if the Don King hair wasn’t a dead giveaway.  And even a threat from Simon to have him come back in a dress didn’t faze Miami native Grant Rhea.

Randy even got in on the fun demonstrating to Richard Valles of Tampa his nasal sound.  And I think that Simon was underestimating 20-year-old Brandon Black when he told him that his performance was “bordering on desperation.”  See, I thought it was clearly desperate.

Even Janis Joplin couldn’t help either Shannon McGough, 18, or American Junior finalist Julie Dubela.  Maybe McGough’s backstory at the meat market was foreshadowing of the butchering she did to “Cry Baby.”

And after Simon heard Dubela’s version of “Me & Bobby McGee” he told her to go to LA and become an actress.  He called her precocious.  I can think of another word and it’s not as nice as Paula’s “overindulged.”

But there was some love in Miami.  Best friends Corliss Smith and Brittany Wescott took time out from their hunt to find a man long enough to get their tickets to Hollywood, auditioning with dedicated songs, at Paula’s request, to Randy and Simon.  Out of the two Jacksonville natives, I thought Wescott, who sang “My Guy” had the better voice.

Single mom Suzanne Toon, 21, turned in a seductive version of Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me” to earn a spot in Hollywood.

I worry when women try to sing Aretha Franklin songs.  Not everyone can do the queen of soul justice.  But 19-year-old Ramiele Malubay, who sang “Natural Woman” and Miami native Syesha Mercado with “Think (Freedom)” put in two solid performances.  If I had to choose between the two, Mercado is my pick.  Maybe her optimism is just catchy.

Ilsy Lorena Pinot of Miami and Natashia Blanch who made the trip from Colorado rounded out the nine winning auditions we saw.

In total we will see 17 of the more than 10,000 hopefuls from Miami in Hollywood in two weeks.

My picks for the evening were Mercado and Carrico.  Next week we head to Ryan’s hometown of Atlanta to finish off the auditions.

It’s looking like the auditions peaked in San Diego.  Here’s a rundown of the numbers so far:

17 from Miami

19 from Omaha

23 from Charleston

31 from San Diego

24 from Dallas

29 from Philadelphia

‘American Idol’ Top 24 Leaked

January 30, 2008

We still have two cities of auditions to go before we even get to Hollywood, but it appears that the identities of the Top 24 contenders for American Idol Season 7 have already been leaked.

According to Joe’s Place, here are your Top 24 contestants and their audition cities:

For the Men:

David Archuleta – San Diego

Colton Berry – Charleston

Robbie Carrico – Miami

Jason Castro – Dallas

David Cook – Omaha

Chikezie Eze – San Diego

Garrett Haley – San Diego

David Hernandez – San Diego

Michael Johns – San Diego

Luke Menard – Omaha

Danny Noriega – San Diego

Jason Yeager – Dallas

For the Women:

Joanna Borgella – Philadelphia

Kristy Lee Cook – Philadelphia

Amy Davis – Dallas

Asia’h Epperson — Atlanta

Alexandrea Lushington – Atlanta

Amanda Overmyer – Atlanta

Kady Malloy – Dallas

Ramiele Malubay – Miami

Syesha Mercado – Miami

Carly Smithson – San Diego

Alaina Whitaker – Dallas

Brooke White — Philadelphia

Never heard of these names?  Me neither.  But remember we still haven’t seen the auditions for Atlanta and Miami.  And in the other five cities we were only treated to a sampling of those who got golden tickets.

Of this 24, I only remember seeing auditions for seven and there were two more that I thought I caught a glimpse of in their audition cities.  Here’s a recap of the names above:

In Day 2 of the San Diego auditions, 16-year-old David Achuleta performed “Waiting for the World to Change” by John Mayer with Randy providing background vocals.  Simon joined Paula’s praise of the Vermont native telling him that he made a great song choice.

David Cook of Tulsa was my pick from the Omaha auditions.  The rocker had a nice sound and did Bon Jovi credit when he sang “Living on a Prayer.”

I think we might have seen a glimpse of Garrett Haley at the San Diego auditions.

After listening to the Australian born Michael Johns perform Otis Redding’s “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” in San Diego, Simon called him “a white soul singer.”

Oregon native Kristy Lee Cook sold her horse to pay for her flight to Philadelphia to audition.  But it was this horse training, kickboxer’s rendition of “Amazing Grace” that earned her a trip to Hollywood.

When Kady Malloy, 23, auditioned in Dallas, Simon told her that she was the best he’d seen so far.  Although the Houston native could sound like Whitney Houston Brittany Spears and Carrie Underwood, it was her version of “Unchained Melody” that won over the judges.

When the Irish Carly Smithson, 23, performed “I’m Every Woman” at her audition in San Diego, it was her second time qualifying for Hollywood.  In Season 5, Smithson, then Hennessy, was disqualified when her Visa didn’t come through in time.

Tulsa native Alaina Whitaker sang Faith Hill’s “Stronger” to impress the judges in Dallas.

And I’m pretty sure we saw a glimpse of Brooke White during the Philadelphia auditions.

I have no confirmation that this list is indeed the final 24.  I’ll let you be the judge of the validity of this leak.  In the meantime we have the Miami auditions coming up.

******* UPDATE **********

 This list is indeed correct.  Here’s a closer look at the Top 12 Men and a look at the Top 12 Women and their experience.  I’ll be posting the women later today.

Here’s a recap of the auditions held to date:

20 from Atlanta

17 from Miami

19 from Omaha

23 from Charleston

31 from San Diego

24 from Dallas

29 from Philadelphia

‘American Idol’ Found 19 Golden Auditions in Omaha

January 30, 2008

For years I’ve heard that you’ve got to watch the audition phase of American Idol, that it was the best part of the show.  Either I’ve been misled or Idol is losing its touch.

Renaissance CoupleTonight was yet another uneventful night of auditions.  Omaha turned out 19 golden tickets out of the 10,000 who vied for the attention of Simon, Randy and Paula.

The up side was that out of the 19 advancing to Hollywood, we actually saw nine of them audition.  Interesting that the city that turned out the fewest Hollywood contenders, also showed us more of them.

The downside, for those that enjoy the freaky and bizarre, is that we only saw three auditions that didn’t make it.  The show lead off with the gift-bearing Chris Bernheisel who was just as happy to try out as a red carpet host as he was to audition his vocal talent and that’s a good thing since even bribery couldn’t earn him a ticket to California.  

Also vetoed was Sarah Whitaker, the former Goth professional wrestler known as Lady Morgue from Iowa and the gold-jacket wearing Johnny Escamilla who rendition of “Shout” would not make James Brown proud.

CupidWe were treated to two montages – one of contestants forgetting the lyrics to their audition songs and one of contenders trying to sing “Stuck in the Middle with You” that included a guy dressed as cupid, a renaissance couple and a man in a shower cap and robe.

I know I’m probably the odd ball out, but I prefer these montages to the full out auditions of the eccentric.  We get just a taste of all the strangeness while not giving any of them too much air time and without hearing the berating commentary of the judges.

And now for my thoughts on the nine we saw that are headed to Hollywood.

Iowa farm boy Jason Rich had a good voice if only he could remember the words to his audition song.  Let’s hope those nerves settle before Hollywood.

Six-time arm wrestling champion Rachael Wicker split the judges’ vote with her rendition of Lee Ann Womak’s “Don’t Tell Me.”  She seemed more interested in arm wrestling Paula (who she beat), Ryan (it was a draw) and Simon (he declined) than singing.  Not sure that bodes well for her chances in Hollywood.

The quiet Samantha Sidley barely got out Norah Jones’ “I Don’t Know Why.”  She’s going to need to work on her stage presence if she wants to be a contender.

We saw quick tidbits of Elizabeth Erkert, Denise Jackson and Michael Sanfilippo.  Erkert’s version of “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” was the best of the bunch.  But her slip of the tongue in telling the cameras that she was going to be “America’s Next Top Model” won’t help her much in Hollywood.

Wisconsin-native Angelica Puente will need to find her own sound before Hollywood, but her mimicking of Celine Dion’s “The Power of Love” was enough to buy her some time.

Although “A Song for You” by Donny Hathaway was enough to prove that Iowa-native Leo Marlowe had a nice voice, it was his story that I found entertaining.  If asked if he was popular in the 200-person town of Charlotte, Marlowe replied that hiss mother raised the perfect homecoming queen; too bad it wasn’t one of his sisters.

And my pick for the night was rocker David Cook.  I’m partial to rock so I was overjoyed to here the Tulsa-native perform Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer.”

For those of you wanting to review, here’s the rundown so far:

19 from Omaha

23 from Charleston

31 from San Diego

24 from Dallas

29 from Philadelphia

‘Gridiron Gang’ Goes For It on Fourth and Life

January 29, 2008

With the Super Bowl just around the corner and no games on TV this past weekend, my husband and I turned to a movie to get our football fix.  Our pick for the week was Gridiron Gang.

Gridiron GangThis inspirational movie is based on a true story about how football changes the lives of kids in a juvenile detention center. 

Sean Porter (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson), a probation officer at the center, was tired of watching the kids that came through his center leave with little hope of a better life.  Turned back out onto the street many of these kids ended up back in the system or worse – dead.

Football, and a caring mother, had made the difference in Porter’s life.  He was hoping that football could do the same for these kids so he fought to bring a football program to the center.

Starting the program was a challenge, but, as you can imagine, a far sight easier that finding other teams willing to play a group of thugs and killers.  But in the end he succeeded.

What followed was an interesting story of how structure, teamwork and a shared goal bonded these boys together and transformed them from thugs into kids with heart. 

But the transition wasn’t easy and eventually the past life of one of the players threatens to bring down the whole team. 

I was most impressed with Dwayne Johnson as Porter.  I thought it was the first role where we got to see Johnson as an actor instead of The Rock.  There were no raised eyebrows, no bring it hand gestures; just Johnson filling the shoes of the motivating Porter.

L. Scott Caldwell (Lost‘s Rose) was a fabulous addition to the cast as the mother than never gave up on Porter.

The movie did a great job of wrapping up the story by telling you what happened to each of the players.  I’ll warn you, it’s not all happy endings.

Overall a feel-good story worth watching.

‘Heroes: Saving Charlie’ is no Fairy Tale

January 29, 2008

Heroes fans looking for more Sci Fi adventure while their favorite show is on hiatus will not find it in the new Heroes novel by Aury Wallington.  Instead “Heroes: Saving Charlie” is a story of lust – I mean love.

Unlike the online graphic novels, this novel offers no clues or tidbits to the overall mythology of the Heroes series.  In fact, “Saving Charlie” does nothing to answer those burning questions we all have about Heroes.  Instead this novel, delves into a side story of Hiro’s attraction to a doomed small town waitress that offers little to the overall plot of the TV series.

Saving CharlieHowever, on its own “Saving Charlie” is not a bad read, provided that you don’t mind already knowing how the story ends.  After all, we have seen the beginning and end of the story in Season 1 of Heroes.  Readers will have seen the beginning of the tale in Chapter 8 “Seven Minutes to Midnight” when Hiro and Ando stop at a diner in Midland, Texas on their way to ‘Save the Cheerleader’ in Odessa and the end in Chapter 10 “Six Months Ago” when a defeated Hiro returns to the Burnt Toast Diner.


“Saving Charlie” is a sweet tale of the budding romance between Hiro and Charlie, the friendly waitress at the Burnt Toast Diner that has a knack for learning and retaining information with ease.  But as the plaque in Hiro’s dad’s office says in Chapter 5, “This is not a Fairy Tale.”

The beginning of the book was very hard to get into.  The first six chapters are almost verbatim from “Seven Minutes to Midnight.”  And while Chapter 1 sounds like the Hiro we’ve come to know and love, the Hiro described in Chapter 2 on the journey to Midland was whiny and grumpy.

But after Hiro travels back into time, the story of his mission to save Charlie is complimented with the charming tale of his courtship with her that reminds us all of how fun, magical and exciting it was to fall in love for the first time.  When else would a guy go through all the trouble of making 1000 origami cranes but when he woos her?

We are treated to a few flashbacks throughout the story that give us more insight into Hiro’s past and his relationship with his father, Kaito.

But the most interesting details are regarding Hiro’s development of his power to freeze time and space, or lack there of.  Although Hiro seems to have full control of his powers when he attempts to prove them to Charlie and when he uses them to romance her, he seems to lose complete control over them when he gets emotional.  More than once he’s teleported through time or space during very awkward moments – or at least they are awkward when he’s suddenly no longer there.

There’s even a point in the novel when Hiro travels through time in a Quantum Leap fashion jumping in and out of time erratically put gleaning a new piece of information at each new place in time until Hiro loses complete control of his powers.

Unlike in the TV series, Hiro’s ability to travel through time and space in the novel (at least towards the end) no longer seems like a gift – a power he controls – but more like something that controls him.

The end was a bit weak too.  But it must be hard to ease into an ending that everyone already knows.  Or maybe I’m just disappointed that it couldn’t have a happy ending.  After all, “Saving Charlie” was an adorable tale of young love, but it was no fairy tale.

Taboo TV/Movie Hijinks and Your Childhood

January 26, 2008

I just finished reading the Dennis Hensley’s commentary on MSNBC about how kids today, with the help of DVDs, video iPods and YouTube, can see anything and everything. 

In order for me not to have a coronary or hyperventilate at the thought of how I’m going to monitor my children’s viewing habits in this high-tech age, I instead am reminiscing about the hijinks I pulled as a kid to see what my parents deemed inappropriate.

I wasn’t allowed to watch “Facts of Life” as a girl, but I can remember turning it on when I knew I should be in bed.  When my parents finally realized it was past my bedtime, I would dutifully go off to bed.  When I thought it was safe, I would sneak down the hall and peek around the corner to watch it if they hadn’t changed the channel.

On the weekends my parents played cards with their friends, alternating houses.  When we were at someone else’s house and it was considered past my bedtime, I would be sent to lie down on the couch.  I can remember waiting until my parents were distracted to roll over to sneak peaks at whatever “forbidden” show was on the television.  I think I even watch a late night show in a mirror above the couch once.

R-rated movies were an absolute no no at my house.  I can remember going through school and not knowing what movies like The Last American Virgin and Porky’s were about when all my friends did.  But when I was a freshman in high school we moved next door to a family that had seven kids from 4 to 19.  There was always so much going on in that house, no one ever noticed which VHS movie you were watching.  So I went over there for movie night all the time.

What did you do as a kid to bypass your parents’ limitations of your television and movie viewing options?  What were your must see that were tabooed by your parents?