Wednesday, March 30, 2005
At this point, I think all 10 of the performers have good - better than average - voices. I think Anthony will get eliminated because his performances the last few weeks have just been good, and not exceptional. Most of the other performers have had at least one performance where the audience, the judges, or I said "Wow!", but not Anthony. I think he has a wonderful tone to his voice, but his body language and stage presence seem less comfortable than the others.
The person with the least pleasing voice tone (to me) is Nicco Smith. Personally I would vote him off tonight, but I don't think the audience will because he has terrific stage presence. He moves around and works the audience, which in this case appears to be worth more than a pretty voice.
Of the 6 performances I saw last night, the most disappointing to me was Scott Saval. He usually does a really good job, but last night he seemed almost tentative during his song. It was a challenging piece to sing, as it had many large jumps from chest voice to falsetto and back, and I don't think it was a good choice for him. But I think it was a single non-Wow performance, whereas Anthony has had several non-Wow performances.
I'm sticking with my original prediction that Jessica, Carrie, and Nadia will be in the top 3 (weeks from now), and that tonight we will say "Buh-bye" to Anthony.
Later that night...
Okay, so I was totally wrong about who got eliminated. Anthony was not even in the bottom 3 tonight. Unfortunately, we had to say "Buh-bye" to Jessica, whom I think is a very good singer. I can't believe America voted her out, and left Nicco, Anthony, and Anwar in there. Oh well, so much for good taste.
On a totally different subject, the folks interested in buying our little place at the beach called tonight. We settled on an offer, and plan to complete the transaction this weekend, god-willing. Hopefully the property manager will be available on Saturday for an inspection and to do the necessary approval on the buyers. Hopefully it will all work out and we can finally be done with it. We have 'moved on' from that place, both physically and emotionally, so it will be good to pass it on to someone else.
The weather today was beautiful! Finally the sun showed itself and it was 68 degrees. I can not even begin to tell you how SICK I am of rain, drizzle and overcast skies. As you might have expected, I celebrated today's beauty by putting the top down on my car at lunch time, and driving home from work with it down, too. Pure enjoyment... Unfortunately, the forecast for Thurs, Fri, and Sat is cloudy skies and scattered showers. God, I can't wait for Spring to come.
Sunday, March 27, 2005
On Sunday our friends Ron & James came over. We had pork tenderloin, mashed potatoes, peas, corn casserole, and biscuits. Unknown to us, pork tenderloin is one of their favorite meals, so it was a big hit. James brought a delicious apple pie, which we had a la mode. We ate in the kitchen and had a wonderful time catching up with these friends we don't see as often as we'd like. We also talked about plans for a trip to the shore with them and our friends Mike & Clark in late April or early May. (We've done this before and have always had a blast.)
My American Idol prediction was correct, and with hesitation we said "Buh-bye" to Mikalah. (Am I the only one who thinks she looks like Fran Drescher from 'The Nanny'?) I'm looking forward to this week's competition. I think all of the remaining singers are good, so it is going to be more difficult to predict each week's parting contestant.
We went to the shore this weekend. My company gave me (Good) Friday off, and Joe had some comp time, so we left at 11:30 Friday morning. After a late lunch at our favorite lunch spot Cafe Sole, we went to the grocery store and the video store, then headed back to the house.
We put up curtains in two of the bedrooms, Joe took a nap while I watched a little TV, and then we decided to drive down to Ocean City to have dinner at 'The Wharf', an all-you-can-eat buffet. The food is pretty good and the price is pretty reasonable. The place is decorated with all kinds of nautical stuff, from compasses to fishing nets, to oars, to barometers, to laterns - you name it. It's kind of kitchy, which of course appeals to us. Then we headed back to the house and watched one of our movies "The Motorcycle Diaries". Two pals from Argentina set off on a 5,000 mile tour of their continent on an old motorcycle. Rather than just being a scenic trip, it becomes a life-altering experience for both of them. I thought it was pretty good. Joe loved it. I thought it was too long. It seemed like it could have ended a few times. But perhaps I felt that way because the movie is in Spanish and we had to read the English subtitles.
Saturday we had an appointment to show the Li'l Retro Getaway (trailer) so I experimented with a product called Liqui-Sew to hem the curtains we needed to hang again after washing. It worked like a charm and before you knew it, we were over at the LRG, curtains hung, just waiting for the potential buyer to arrive. The sun had finally come out (even if only for half an hour) and it almost felt balmy, so we sat on the deck until they arrived. They loved the retro feel of the place, and one of them is a teacher who has lots of time off in the summer, so it seemed like a good fit. Tonight they called and said they are interested in buying, and will call us tomorrow to make an offer!
After showing the LRG we made a stop at a store where we picked up some inexpensive fabric and some beading. Revved up by my Liqui-Sew experience earlier in the day, I decided to make a pair of curtains. I couldn't believe how fast and easy it was! In the time it took for Joe to have a nap, I measured, cut, and Liqui-Sewed a pair of curtains AND began attaching the beading onto an old lamp shade. I put up the new curtains and a pair of store bought panels, for a total of 4 pairs of curtains in the house and 1 pair at the trailer. Mission: Accomplished!
After dinner at home we watched another movie "Connie & Carla", written by and starring Nia Vardalos from 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding'. This was really cute! It's about these 2 girls who do a cabaret-style show in an airport lounge who accidentally witness a murder. In order to not be caught by the murderer, they decided to leave town and go somewhere unexpected... somewhere there is no cabaret-style shows where the killer would find them... like LA. They pretend to be drag queens at a West Hollywood bar and eventually talk the owner into making it a dinner theatre where they perform regularly. There were some really funny moments, and a LOT of Broadway musical renditions. Then we watched "Boat Trip" starring Cuba Gooding Jr. I had never even HEARD of this movie before, but Joe said he'd seen a trailer for it. It turned out to be cute too, but a bit sillier than "Connie & Carla". Cuba Gooding Jr and his buddy get 'accidentally' booked on a gay cruise instead of a straight singles cruise. You can imagine the characters they encounter and the antics that ensue.
This morning we had breakfast, cleaned up the house, and headed back home. We both showered and shaved, and got ready for Easter with the family. Joe's brother Louis and his wife Karen host Easter at their house every year. (Joe & I have Thanksgiving, and his sister Mary has Christmas.) We had a delicious honey baked ham, potato salad, macaroni salad, beans, sweet potato shuffle, green bean casserole, rolls, and deviled eggs. And candy. What would Easter be without candy? We all had a ball. It was really fun to have the family together, catch up on the kids' activities, and enjoy the afternoon.
So ends my week.
Tuesday, March 22, 2005
Last week I agreed with the judges that all of the performances were lacking. It was like someone forgot to tell them 'we're in the finals now - you've got to step it up'. Even strong performers like Carrie Underwood were lack-luster. Last Tuesday I correctly identified Lindsay as the weakest singer and the one to whom we'd have to say "Buh-bye". On Wednesday I was right.
After watching tonight's performances I thought that all of the singers really injected themselves with steroids. Every performance was outstanding tonight, with the exception of Nadia. I thought this was her worst performance, although she is a great singer.
Ever since the first time I heard Mikalah sing I thought 'her voice and diction remind me of Taylor Dane'. 'Maybe she'd do better if she sang a Taylor Dane song'. Low and behold, tonight she sang "Love Will Lead You Back" by Taylor Dane! But as much as I like Mikalah, who looks like Fran Drescher (The Nanny) and sounds like Taylor Dane, I believe that she is now the weakest singer and I predict that tomorrow night it will be Mikalah who we'll have to say "Buh-bye" to. Tomorrow night we'll see if I am correct again.
Although it is only the 2nd of 12 finalist performances, I am predicting that the last 3 left in the competition will be Carrie, Nadia, and Jessica. My gut tells me Carrie may win.
Monday, March 21, 2005
When I was in high school I started singing in the Concert Choir. It seemed I had some talent, and when I'd go for All-County, Regional, Honors, and All-State choir auditions, I always made it. In fact, in my senior year I tied the record at All-State choir auditions by getting a score of 299 points out of a possible 300. But that's not what made me a 'Dominant'...
'The Dominants' was an award-winning vocal jazz/show choir from my high school. From the first time I heard them (as a freshmen) I knew I would one day be a member of this prestigious singing group. The name 'Dominants' is a play on words, referring to the 5th of a chord, or the dominant of the chord, as well as performers who dominate at competitions. And yes, there were competitions...
I will never forget in my junior year 'The Dominants' were enrolled for some vocal jazz and show choir workshops followed by a competition in Jersey City, NJ. We were a little scared that schools from New York would be there, as we imagined 'Fame' choirs putting us to shame. The workshops were from like 10 am to 4 pm, and the competitions were from 6-8 pm. Unfortunately for us, our County school bus broke down on the way, which delayed our arrival by several hours. We got to the auditorium just as the workshops were ending. Fortunately we arrived in time to have a quick dinner, change into our costumes and compete.
All of the high school groups were competing in either the vocal jazz OR the show choir divisions, except for 'The Dominants'. We had two different performances and were enrolled in both divisions. As we watched the groups who performed before us, we got more and more excited because we knew our songs were better and that we were simply more talented. But the proof was in the pudding... err, the performances.
First was the show choir division, which involves more choreography and less complicated vocal arrangements. We were like group 5 out of 10, I think. Then came the vocal jazz division, which involves very little choreography, but complicated tight harmonies. You can't fake a vocal jazz performance. We drew the coveted position of performing last. Remember, we were the only group to compete in both divisions, using 2 different sets of songs.
After a brief intermission for the judges' votes to be tallied, they reassembled everyone for the results.
"The trophy for best choreography goes to... The Dominants" followed by thunderous applause. "The trophy for best vocal solo goes to... The Dominants." More thunderous applause and whistles. "The trophy for best costume goes to... The Dominants." The audience was going crazy - even our competitors were happy for us. On and on, The Dominants won all of the trophies except for one: best instrumental solo. As I recall, one group had a fabulous trumpet solo that got duly recognized.
Then came the finale. "Best overall performance in the show choir division... The Dominants." We were all on our feet, screaming, jumping up and down and hugging each other. Then came the last one. "Best overall performance in the vocal jazz division... The Dominants!" We were all hysterical by that point. We were in such an excited frenzy you'd have thought we'd each won a hundred billion dollars. What a night! I'll never forget that as long as I live.
Then there was the vocal jazz competition where the volunteer student from the audio/visual club was practicing for the Emmies. Each time a group was named as a winner, he'd play a snippet of one of their songs as the choir director went up to the stage to accept the trophy. When we won first place there and our song was playing, I swear I felt like I was on an TV awards show! The entire 24-member choir charged up on stage to be photographed with our choir director and that big-ass trophy.
If I wasn't 41 years old now, I'd have auditioned for American Idol when they came to DC. But although I look younger than 41, I honestly don't think I could pass for 28, the cut-off age for American Idol. So instead, I will look at the photos taken with my fellow Dominants and I'll remember when...
Monday, March 14, 2005
Friday night it did not rain, and Saturday it was bright and sunny. Joe and I had breakfast at McDonald's (I know, shame on us) and then ran a few errands. When we returned shortly before noon, there was a message from Justine and Liz, so we called them back and decided to meet for a late lunch.
On the way to lunch we stopped at an estate sale. I bought a pink ceramic ashtray from the '50s for 50 cents. Then we went to my favorite Thai restaurant for lunch. We hadn't been there in so long because the last few times we tried to have dinner there, the wait was too long. A late lunch was the perfect answer! The food was amazing, as usual, and we had a great visit with Justine and Liz.
Then I decided to become an artist. I bought 3 18x24 canvases from a craft store for $4.99 each and then got out some wall paint left-over from when I'd painted some of the rooms in the house. I came up with a simple, geometric design and began applying the paint with foam brushes. In about 20 minutes I had 3 fabulous canvases. An Artist was born! I took them to my office and hung them in a straight line. They looked great!
My art must have inspired Joe's creative juices to begin flowing because as I was putting away my supplies he reminded me that it really wouldn't take that much to get our downstairs 'Retro Lounge' looking good. The basement of our house has a large L-shaped family room, with a stone corner fireplace and nice large windows. We have a large sectional sofa from the '50s that is orange with gold threads woven in it, a smaller sectional sofa from the '60s that is tan, and two upholstered chairs, one turquoise and one purple. There are a number of original '50s and '60s accessories, ranging from pink and turquoise ceramic ashtrays to fabulous lamps with fiberglass shades. A friend once said that being in that room is like taking a step backwards in time. However, we don't use the room very often because the asbestos tile floor is not so attractive and the room has a 'cold' feeling.
So Saturday night we decided to buy a new TV for the room and to look for a new rug. Actually, we had been discussing buying a new TV for that room for several months, but had not decided when to do it. We'd been shopping around but on Saturday night we decided to bring one home. A 32 inch flat screen. Man, was it heavy! We also found a large rug we thought would work, but needed to measure the room first. After heaving that huge TV into the house, we measured the room and decided to go back the next day for the rug.
But first we needed to move all the furniture to one side and vacuum and mop the floor. We decided that would have to wait til the next day.
Our friends Michael and Jamie had invited us to join them for brunch at Bob & Edith's diner, in the event that we did not go to the shore. So Sunday morning we met them at 10:30 for pancakes, eggs and sausage or scrapple. We enjoyed hearing about their recent moving in together as well as their search for an affordable condo/townhouse/house to buy. They're great guys.
After brunch, we decided to look for some fabric with which we could make curtains for the large windows and to section off the L-part of the room. After careful measurements, we calculated we would need 24 yards of fabric. I thought to myself "this is going to cost a fortune" but I didn't say it outloud, so as not to burst Joe's bubble. He was quite gung-ho on the curtain wall to divide the L-space. To my amazement, we found some retro-looking rayon with all the colors in our room... priced at $4.50 per yard... sitting in the 50% off area. It seemed too good to be true, so when the sales girl was unrolling the fabric to measure it I said outloud "it will be totalling amazing if there's 24 yards of fabric there". There wasn't, but there was 23 3/4 yards so we bought it. Just over $50. and we had enough to make a gathered wall of curtains for the 12 foot wide opening and 4 curtains for the windows.
Next we went back to get the rug. "This is all working out so well" I said to Joe. "That black and tan rug will look perfect, will fit the space, and is so reasonably priced". I'd spoken too soon. When we saw the rug again in the light of day we realized it wasn't black, it was midnight blue. But, the size and price were great so we decided we could live with the midnight blue.
So, we rolled out the rug across half the room, moved all the furniture onto the rug, rolled it out the rest of the way, and began returning the furniture to its original location. Then came the chore of hoisting that beast of a TV onto the stand. Yikes - we almost dropped it twice! Then the room came together quickly. We vacuumed and arranged all the accessories and it looked great. We saved the curtain-making for another day.
Kerry, Hugh, and George came over at 5:30 to view my art and the updates to the Retro Lounge before we headed over to CiCi's Pizza and Pasta buffet. We enjoyed a lot of pizza and a lot of laughs.
Thursday, March 10, 2005
Then yesterday I get this idea: Let's have a "Sex and the City" boy's night out! You know how the "Sex and the City" girls get all dolled up, meet at some restaurant and have cocktails and dinner. Miranda wears that smoky eyeshadow that she only wears for such evenings, Samantha wears those 6-inch long dangly chandelier earrings, Charlotte wears a sleek strapless number (she always does), and Carrie will have to buy a new pair of $400. shoes. You get the picture...
To their credit, they all four agreed it might be fun, so it was settled. However, Rog & Bugsy said that although they'd heard of "Sex and the City", they'd never actually seen the show. My heart began to sink. I know Mike & Clark had seen the show, but they are usually not the dress up type. In all reality, I just felt like we should do something different, and not go out to dinner wearing the same old clothes I'd worn to work that day.
I'm pretty lucky: I can wear whatever I want to work. Most of the time it's jeans and a pullover. In the summer it's shorts and t-shirt. Since I never see clients face-to-face and I work in a small office, I dress in what is the most comfortable so I can be the most productive. At least, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.
I just didn't want the six of us to meet for dinner looking like I look everyday at work. I wanted the glamour, the sparkle, the feeling of being a "Sex and the City" girl. Yes, this night had to be different. I had to be different.
So, being the eternal optimist, I took and deep breathe and wrote back to the boys to lay down the fashion rules of the evening: no jeans, no sneakers, a solid sweater was okay, but a shirt had to have at least two colors. Now, you might be surprised at my need to review the fashion rules with 4 gay men. But, contrary to the stereotype, not all gay men are good at floral arranging, hair styling, home decorating, and fashion. Now you know. But after a little initial jeering, they all agreed to the terms. And I knew exactly what I'd wear.
I'd wear the ensemble I had put together for Joe's company Christmas party. Although I didn't know anyone when I arrived with him, I knew practically everyone by the time I left. They were all compelled to talk to me about my 'loud' shirt. My outfit was a big hit!
So as I began to dress this evening, I started feeling excited. I started with a pair of black gabardine slacks by Liz Claibourne that I'd found for a mere $39.95. Next came the infamous shirt: a very large paisley print in pink, grey, and black on a white background. Although I got it for only $19.95, it looks WAY more 'designer' and expensive. To tone down that outrageous shirt I slipped on a black leather sport jacket. Now, this is NOT a jacket you'd wear outdoors for warmth. Au contraire, this jacket is cut like a sport jacket you'd wear with dress slacks and a dress shirt - only its made of smooth black leather. Hot!!! I got it just before our trip to Las Vegas in Dec '03. And the finishing touch was a pair of black, square-toed leather shoes I snagged for only $29.95. You must admit that men's leather shoes for under $30. is unheard of! Unlike the real Carrie Bradshaw, I am the quintessential bargain hunter.
Joe looked very sharp in a pair of black slacks, shiny black leather shoes, and a smart-looking blue, black and grey stripe shirt. It looked especially good on him with his black hair. With our ensembles complete, we left to meet the boys. I dropped Joe off in front of the restaurant, since the garage was full and there was no street parking, which made us late. He joined the boys and I finally found a place to park.
Our table had a curved banquet and 4 chairs, and although I'd have pushed others aside to sit in the banquet, I didn't need to. The only empty place when I got to the table was one in the banquet. As we sipped our Cosmopolitans, I leaned back and tossed my arm up onto the back of the banquet, exposing more of my 'loud' shirt, and enjoying brief but fleeting glimpses of "Sex and the City"-ness.
Roger & Bugsy made concerted attempts to dress appropriately. I especially enjoyed Roger's bright multi-color stripe shirt and sunflower tie. Mike & Clark broke the rules, but I tried to hide my disappointment. Clark had on a dark grey crew neck and khaki pants, and Mike had on a hunter green cotton button-up and khaki pants. Can you say "Casual Friday"??? Mike joked by saying that he didn't own any fun or funky clothes. "Everything in my closet is solid or beige." I'm afraid my gasp may have been audible, but I hid it by pretending to cough.
Then our dinners arrived and we enjoyed the delicious and spicy Indian specialties of the Aroma restaurant. We talked and laughed and caught up on each other's lives. We really had a good time, and were too full for desert. I couldn't believe how quickly the time passed, and it was soon time to go home. After all, it is a school night.
Tuesday, March 08, 2005
Monday, March 07, 2005
Please note today's date: Monday, March 7, 2005.
At lunch time I forced myself to put my hectic work life on hold and leave the office. When I came outside it was so warm I took off my jacket. Excitedly I got in the car, hit the bottom to lower all the windows, and then I opened the latch that secures the convertible top and pressed the button that in 14 seconds lifts the roof and my spirits. I absolutely love driving with the top down, and beautiful days like this make the experience even more enjoyable. It can change my mood from 'over-worked and under-paid' to 'who cares about work, I'm livin' life'. (See my 2/7 post entitled 'Convertible'.)
I pushed the 'Temp' button on my dash and the display read 69 degrees.
Since I had no cash my first stop was the ATM. (Please note I did not say 'ATM machine' which is redundant.) After snagging some cheese I headed to Taco Bell for even more cheese - a chicken and cheese quesadilla to be exact. Once finished and still with plenty of time left in my lunch hour, I decided to take the long way back to the office. I cruised along with my sunglasses on, the radio turned up to a decent decibel, sipping my 1/4 Wild Cherry Pepsi 3/4 Diet Pepsi combination. It was grand!
Eventually I had to go back into the office, but I left the top down as an incentive for Old Man Winter to stay away. Sure enough, it was still beautiful when I came out of the office again at 5:45. So I drove home with the wind in my hair and a song in my heart.
Wednesday, March 02, 2005
'Doesn't she ever work?' I thought to myself, immediately followed by 'Duh - of course she works; she's a writer'. Every episode shows her tapping away on her laptop, seemingly transcribing her random thoughts about life, men, sex, relationships, and Minolo Blonic shoes. These random thoughts somehow get messaged into a weekly column in a New York newspaper. She makes a living from this, and can afford $400. a pair Minolo Blonic shoes. Lots of 'em.
Then I started to think 'I've got random thoughts about life, men, sex, and relationships. Why can't I get paid for writing a once-a-week column so that I too can have loads of free time on my hands? No sooner had I completed that thought, that I answered my own question: because I write a blog for free.
I jokingly mentioned this conundrum to a friend in an IM today at work, and he told me that some people get paid for blogging. Although the idea wasn't totally surprising to me, it did make me wonder if any blogs get that much visibility that advertisers would actually pay people to write blogs and mention their products in them. He told me about one blog that regularly gets like 400,000 hits a day! That reminded me that a friend/colleague at work who knew of my blog had clipped an article from the newspaper entitled "How to make money from your blog".
So, I scrounged around in the desk drawer I thought I may have tossed the clipping into, and sure enough I found the article. But I didn't have time to read it. Because unlike Carrie Bradshaw, I have a full-time, 5-days a week kind of job and do not have loads of free time to be shopping, meeting friends for lunch, meeting the girls for cocktails, or reading newspaper articles. I only have time to write in my blog... for free.
Actually (mis-used word)
Use of the word actually indicates that something is so, despite how surprising or incredulous it sounds. "I actually saw him bite off his finger" would be the correct usage of the word. However, I was watching a show on HGTV called Semi-Homemade where the host, Sandra Lee, was demonstrating how to make something and said "Okay. Now, you're actually going to add the flour to the mixture in your bowl." Now what is so surprising or incredulous about adding flour to a mixture in a bowl while cooking? In fact, that was exactly what I anticipated she was going to do with that flour.
"To tell you the truth..." (nonsense phrase)
How many times have you heard someone you know - not a stranger - begin a sentence with "To tell you the truth..."? So what does that mean? All the other times they've been talking to you they were telling lies, but this time is different? Hmm...
Literally (mis-used word)
This one can be really funny! Some people use the word literally when they mean figuratively. "I literally kicked their butts during today's game!" Is that so? Wouldn't there be a penalty for doing that? What they really meant was that they figuratively kicked their butts. However, this mis-use bothers me less than most since it often creates comical mental images.
"Quite frankly..." (nonsense phrase)
This is truly a nonsense phrase, as it adds no value at all and is redundant. "Quite frankly, I hate her." I don't know about you but I would never confuse the statement 'I hate her' as anything other than frank. It certainly isn't subtle. Mostly, its redundant.
Irregardless (mis-used non-word)
This is probably my favorite. Irregardless is not a word. Regardless is a word. "Irregardless of how much money he makes..." almost sounds like its correct, but it isn't. The prefix 'ir' means without. (Irrelevant means without relevance.) The word regardless means without regard. So, if irregardless were a word, it would mean without without regard. If something is without without regard, then it has regard. But we use the word regarding to mean something with regard.
"I could care less" (nonsense phrase)
Here's another one that means the opposite of how people use it. "I could case less about her new car." If one could care less, that means that they do care to some degree. Yet, when people say "I could care less" they really mean that they could NOT care less, or they have no degree of care at all. So, "I could care less about her new car" really means 'I am mindful that she has a new car and I think about it".
Now don't get me wrong; I'm not suggesting that everyone stop mis-using words and prefacing sentences with nonsense phrases. Sometimes they can be quite funny. And to tell you the truth, I could care less if literally everyone actually used them in every sentence, quite frankly, irregardless of whether they made sense. :-)