Wednesday, April 30, 2008

This Is Officially The Strangest Show We've Ever Done

Truer words were never spoken by Simon Tuesday night. It was a strange show. From its rushed pacing, to mostly dull performances, and Paula's famous gaffe it was a strange show. Before I get to the "performance" everyone is talking about, I will let MTV do its 60 second review.

Now that everyone is caught up here is the clip of Paula doing what she does best and that had everyone talking.

Of course, there all kinds of theories flying around the internet as to what really happened and what it all means. This was Paula's explanation later that night of what happened.

To add even more confusion, Ryan Seacrest had Paula on his radio show Wednesday morning and this is the explanation she offered up for her confusion on Tuesday night.

Paula Abdul did not hear Jason Castro’s first performance “Forever in Blue Jeans” because of all the commotion, and then caught the tail end of “September Morn” dress rehearsals — and then because she was confused with how the show went, judged those two songs — which for all intents and purposes were not the same performances the TV audience saw? (She did not “hear” Forever in Blue Jeans and the dress rehearsal was never aired). That’s the official story now? She was writing notes for the “September Morn” dress rehearsals of which she only saw a clip of? Didn’t she just read her cue cards with so much confidence? Also, what happened to the I was reading my notes for David Cook she said live on the air and the ET Online interview in the car? (Read: I was reading David Cook’s critique instead of Jason Castro’s).

All I know is I am confused. Now there are two different explantions for her mix-up. But it did add an interesting note to an otherwise dull night.

UPDATE: Since writing this I have found the "official" explanation of what happened. That would make number three. Should we try for a fourth?

“The judges occasionally watch the rehearsals, which they’ve acknowledged before in various press interviews, as well as on-air during the broadcast,” executive producer Cecile Frot-Coutaz told The Hollywood Reporter. “While this gives them an idea of what the contestants are going to perform that night, it does not influence their comments for the actual broadcast performance. Paula’s comments were based on her acknowledgment that she had seen a small portion of the rehearsal. The judges do not use ‘rehearsal notes."

So I will let Ryan sum things up, "She’s part of our family, and we love her, so a round of applause for Paula." Yea Paula! You definately made the show worth watching this week.

With all my searching throughout the internet looking for these clips and quotes, I found one more quote that I thought summed up the whole incident quite nicely.

Even Paula herself knew she was out of her element when she warned us it was really hard when they had to "write things down". Totally understandable, writing is tricky. I found it especially funny how everyone - randy, ryan, simon, contestants - just let her stumble through her entire made up opinion on Castro's undelivered second song before making her aware of her stupidity..
But maybe we should cut her some slack. As she said, it's "hard!!" to follow the rules of a show as complicated as idol, especially when you've been doing it for seven years... And when you've got five whole contestants to keep track of, how are you expected to remember if it was Jason again or David Cook? At least 13 minutes had passed by the time she had to talk - surely she can't be expected to retain information for that long?
by molo on

And of course we had to say goodbye to one of our Idol contestants tonight. Poor Brooke. I really thought your fan base was going to carry you through. This was the first week in a long time that you had actually looked like you were having fun. I'm sorry to see you go especially when someone like Jason who doesn't seem to care gets to stay. Here is her farewell performance. For a minute I thought she was going to stop and start over which would have been quite fitting way for her to end her Idol run.

And not wanting to leave you on a sad note, I am going to share one last quote from Paula uttered in 2006.

“Simon gave me advice he always refers to a fortune cookie and says the moth who finds the melon finds the cornflake always finds the melon, and one of you didn’t pick the right fortune.”

I couldn't have said it better myself, Paula.

Odds and Ends

Just a short post of a couple of odds and ends.

As many of you know, my not that much younger sister and I went to Florida about a month ago. We said it was to fullfill Katie's desire to see the ocean and collect shells but I really think we just wanted to get away to somewhere warm. Imagine our surprise when we discovered WE liked collecting shells more than Katie. We could have spent hours out on the beach looking for the perfect shell if not for Katie dragging us to the pool. The result of all of our shelling was a box each of shells to bring home. I finally have them in a jar where I can see them everyday. Look at all the treasures we found!

sanibel shells

Look what I found the other day wedged on an outside shelf of my greenhouse. Last year I had a robin's nest outside my laundry room window that I watched everyday. Hopefully I will be able to get some pictures of the babies once they hatch.

robin eggs, april 08

One more thing to mention. We went to Cincinnati last weekend as most of you know. I asked Beth what dessert she would like me to bring since they were having a cookout for us Sunday night. She wanted deep-dish apple pie. I thought I would try something new so I made the Barefoot Contessa's version of apple pie. Everyone there thought the pie was perfect. But Dave and I looked at each other and knew right away it didn't compare to my usual recipe. Dave and I could only give it 4 forks out of 5. I'm sorry, Ina, but my grandma's crust and Betty Crocker's apple pie recipe is better. Sorry, Grandma, for thinking I could improve on your apple pie. I have learned my lesson.

I am going to be doing some baking this Friday and hope to post the results of that later this week. For you Idol fans, there will be an update tomorrow. You won't want to miss it.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

This Is ..... American Idol!

Don't Cry For Me, AI Voters. Yes, I was feeling bad for Carly until I read this interview she did after being voted off.

Carly Smithson is actually glad she became the latest person to be voted off American Idol 7.
“Everybody keeps asking me why I’m not devastated and crying for being eliminated. I’m free to make a record, start writing and all that kind of stuff — be with my husband and hang out in the real world. The Idol bubble is kind of weird,” she told reporters, according to Reality TV World. “I’m actually not that sad to be leaving. I enjoyed every minute thoroughly, but we’re back in two weeks to start preparing for the tour and the finale. So it’s like a small break and I’m going to be back," she said. “I think I made enough of an impact to reach a good fan base and now I just get to be me without a theme night and make a really cool record. I’m excited.”

Well, then let's just move on to the Idols that are still glad to be there, shall we? Barring any surprises, I think I will go out on a limb and predict the bottom two before the show starts. Jason and Brooke had better bring the best they have or they will be sitting at the bottom tomorrow night. And now...... This is American Idol!

Ryan reminds us we must vote, vote, vote or the unthinkable will happen again this week. He says we will be pressed for time tonight. I don't understand, five songs in an hour shouldn't be that hard to fit in. Ahhh, they are singing two songs tonight and there will be two phone lines open per singer. I like this. There should be a lot of good Neil Diamond songs to choose from. I am looking forward to this. First up,

1. Jason Castro - "Forever in Blue Jeans"
He tells Neil D. that he doesn't know the lyrics to this song (surprise, surprise), ooops he has the lyrics for the next song instead of the first song he is rehearsing right now. I think he is one sandwich short of a picnic. What is going on in that head of his? I like this song but not the way he is singing it. His voice just seems weak. It's pleasant but nothing to get excited about. Ryan says the judges will give their opinions after their second songs. I'm not sure I like this. Can everyone keep the Idols and their songs straight? As we soon will find out, the answer to that question is "no".

2. David Cook - "I'm Alive"
This is funny, David is asking Ryan the questions! Neil says he has the material, attitude, and voice to pull off to relatively unknown song choices. I like it, he turned it into a rock song. I don't like this format though. The songs are too short and everything seems really rushed.

3. Brooke White - "I'm a Believer"
I like her song choices. I just hope she can do better tonight than she has been doing these past couple of weeks. Paula's dancing! We all know how she feels about this performance. I thought it was kind of weird in parts but it was OK overall. It is certainly the best she has done in a long time.

Someone is holding up a sign that says her husband has a man crush on Ryan Seacrest. Is that really something you want to tell the entire world?

4. David Archuleta - "Sweet Caroline"
For you trivia buffs, I read an interview with Neil Diamond a while back where he said that this song was written for/about Caroline Kennedy. David is good as always. I'm not sure I liked the arrangement all that much but it is nice to hear him sing a song that isn't a "song with a message". That is starting to get a little tiresome.

5. Syesha Mercado - "Hello Again"
I'm not sure I like this. I keep hearing Diamond's low voice in this and her higher pitched voice just doesn't sound right. Why is she barefoot? I do like her dress though. Cute. Oh my, I am beginning to sound like Paula. Yikes!

Ryan is letting the judges do a quick review of the performances before we move on to the second song. Randy thought Jason was Ok, D Cook was very good, Brooke was better, Archuleta was the "bomb", and Syesha was strong but not amazing. Paula loved the lower register of Jason's first song and now is saying something about his second song. Huh? What is she talking about. She thought he sang twice! Now she is rambling, I give up. Simon thought it was forgettable, average, nightmare, amaturish, and old-fashioned. Simon wants to see their performance of a life time for their second song.

1. Jason Cook - "September Morn"
This isn't working for me. Once he stood up from his stool he looked uncomfortable and awkward standing on the stage. There seems to be no passion or effort from him. Randy thought it was an OK-whatever performance. Paula thought he was playing it safe with his song choices tonight but remember this is the "third" performance she has heard of his tonight. Simon said there was no attempt to make it his own - Sorry!

2. David Cook - "All I Really Need Is You"
I don't know this song but I thought it was really well done. Randy said he rocked the house. Paula is proud of him and she is looking at the next American Idol. Simon thought it was brilliant and he made it contemporary.

3. Brooke White - "I Am ... I Said"
She has the lyrics written on her hand but how is she going to be able to read them if she is playing the piano? I thought it was a pleasant performance. She seems much more relaxed than she has in previous weeks. I don't feel like she is going to have a breakdown on stage unlike last week. Randy says it was a nice job. Paula said it worked. And Simon says this is the Brooke we like.

4. David Archileta - "America"
I thought it was good but I am over the whole Archuleta thing so unless it is unbelieveable he will have a hard time impressing me. Randy says it is another good performance. Paula says it is another perfect song and "I love you, I love you". Simon thinks it is a smart song choice. He ticked all the boxes tonight.

5. Syesha Mercado - "Thank the Lord For the Night Time"
I like this better than the first one but it is still just OK for me. She still isn't wearing shoes, I am not getting that. She is in the zone where Randy likes her. Paula thought it was theatrical and very good. Simon thought she makes a good actress/singer. It is also the strangest show he has ever done. He also thinks she may be in trouble. She just wasn't memorable.

My bottom two, Jason for sure. He shows no energy or enthusiasm on the stage. I think Brooke did enough that her fans will keep her out of the bottom two. If they kept her out last week, I can't see her ending up in the bottom two this week. Syesha will join Jason in the bottom two this week. I am going to pick her to go home. Only because I don't think she has a fan base to keep her in. Jason deserves to go home but I think he may squeek by one more week. Who do you think is going home?

And now for my performance of the night. David Cook has that honor this week. I know the judges liked the second song he performed better than the first but I am going with his performance of "I'm Alive". Agree or disagree?

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Come On, Baby, Do The ............

Monday is finally here and I know you are anxiously awaiting my song choice for one of my most hated songs of all time. First you should know, because of my old age I couldn't remember who sang this song and had to look it up on Youtube. Shocked would be an understatement when I realized who sang this song. And when I watched the video, let's just say The Village People have nothing on them. Have I got your attention yet?

This band was formed in 1969 in Flint, MI. They named themselves after the Grand Trunk Western Railroad which was a well-known rail line in Michigan. Yes, I am talking about Grand Funk Railroad. In 1970 they earned their second Gold Record with the song "I'm Your Capain". A year later they broke the attendance record set by the Beatles at Shea Stadium, selling out in just 72 hours.

In 1972 they shorted their name to Grand Funk and added a fourth band member. Interestingly, it would have been Peter Frampton but he had just signed a solo record deal and therefore wasn't available. They then came out with this hit "We're An American Band" and then this travesty. What were they thinking? What is more amazing it was co-written by Carole King. What was she thinking?

Not only is it a bad song it brings back memories of a bad date. And that's all I am going to say about that.

Give the song a listen and see what you think. Watch carefully, what is up with that drummer? Look when the time is at 2:30. What is going on in front of the stage?

In 1975 they reverted back to Grand Funk Railroad but by 1976 they had disbanded. They reunited in 1980 minus a band member. They again disbanded with one of the members joining Bob Seger's Silver Bullet Band which already included one of Grand Funk's former bandmates. The latest version of the band is still touring and plays about 30 concerts a year. If those concerts include "Loco-Motion" count me out.

And because I couldn't let you have that song stuck in your head I am going to post a video from the concert at Shea Stadium. This is what Grand Funk Railroad should sound and look like.

So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Goodnight

Yes, I am on the road again for the third weekend in a row. We are heading for Cincinnati and I will be back Tuesday in time for American Idol. Dave stays on for his board meeting. Jo is going on this trip so it will be interesting to see how she does.

If all goes well, like me remembering my password, I plan on posting Monday. The topic: one of my most hated songs of all time. Just let me say when I figured out who sang it I was in shock. And when I watched the video, there are no words to describe what I felt. Just tune in Monday, people, and all will be revealed. In the meantime, think about what song would top your list of most hated songs. I will be anxiously awaiting your choices.

In the meantime, I will leave you with a smile.


Friday, April 25, 2008

Song Sequels

The sequel to the song Taxi came up on my ipod the other day and it got me thinking (always dangerous I know). Why aren't more sequels written for songs? Movies have sequels. Books have sequels. Even video games have sequels. Sometimes even a tv show is reprised once in awhile so we can learn what happened to our favorite characters. But songs not so much. Other than Taxi by Harry Chapin, I can think of only one other song that has had a sequel written to tell the listener what had happened to the people in the song. So in honor of the late and great Harry Chapin, here is Taxi and its sequel. Enjoy.

I was lucky enough to see Harry Chapin in concert at Central. It had to be either the winter of 76 or 77. Needless to say it was a great show.

I shouldn't be admitting this but as I was looking for this song I found the lyrics. Would you believe I never knew this part was in the song until I just listened to it tonight.

Baby's so high that she's skying,
Yes she's flying, afraid to fall.
I'll tell you why baby's crying,
Cause she's dying, aren't we all.

Where have I been? I am just going to blame it on my hearing. His voice is too high pitched for me to hear it clearly. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Bummer, I can't post the video for the sequel but here is the link to youtube if you want to watch it:

For you American Idol fans, go down to the previous post. I found the studio version of Music of the Night. Give it a listen. Unbelievable is all I have to say.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

How Can I Say Good-bye If You Won't Go Away?

That would be directed at you, Jason. The words came from Andrew Lloyd Webber but the sentiment is all mine. First, you don't even care enough to know what the song is about that YOU had picked. "I didn't know it was sung by a cat". The musical is called "Cats". Duh. Then the yawn last night at the elimination. If you don't seem to care if you are there or not why should we? At least Brooke gives the impression that she cares. Let's just say for once Paula and I agreed on Wednesday night's outcome.

Just in case you missed this week's show, here is MTV's 'American Idol' in 60 seconds.

Next week we will be listening to Neil Diamond songs. If he is half as good as Andrew Lloyd Webber was as a mentor it should be a good show. Take note, AI, bring back ALW next year. Who knew he was so funny?

It has been bothering me ever since I picked David A over David Cook for the performance of the week. So to right that wrong, here is David Cook singing 'Music of the Night".

Since posting this I have found the studio version of this song. They have put it to the filmed version from tv so that is kind of weird. But, it is incredible. If you aren't a fan now, you will be after hearing this.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

This Makes Me Smile

One thing that I always wanted was a greenhouse. I have always loved growing plants, inside and outside, and a greenhouse where I could start my own seeds and grow plants in the dead of winter was always a wish. Imagine my surprise when the house we ended up buying had a greenhouse.


I really haven't taken advantage of having this greenhouse which is kind of sad when you think about it. So last fall, D and I started fixing it back up. The previous owner had built it from scratch using old wood windows. They were starting show their age so we have been taking them out one by one, stripping the old paint off, reglazing, repainting and rehanging them. We managed to get some windows done before winter hit and now we have started working on them again. The front is done and we have moved to the back windows. After that the roof is next. Fix or replace, we haven't decided.

There is also electricity and I am thinking about heating it next winter. If I can make it weather tight enough I think I may do that. In the meantime, I am going to really use it the way it was intended. I bought some seeds the other day and now have an assortment of flowers started to plant in my numerous flower beds.


Later this summer and fall I hope to have pictures to post that shows all the flowers that I started this spring. Sunflower seeds anyone?


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

This Is American Idol!

American Idol Rewind. First things first. Why is Kristy Lee Cook smiling?

Because she had a secret that nobody else knew about. Her boyfriend ended up proposing to her that night but that wasn't the first time. He first popped the question a month ago but they had kept the news quiet so she could focus on the show. "He actually got down on his knee this time. He owed it to me." Best wishes, Kristy. She says if she were singing tonight, she would have chosen the song 'Don't Cry For Me Argentina'. I like that song. It would have been interesting to hear your "country" version of that song.

And now......This is American Idol!

We are down to the top six. We are halfway home, people.

Ryan says in honor of Earth Day they will be using green power for the finale. They have also expanded the band section. Tonight's theme is the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber. Can I just say I am totally excited for tonight. I love his music but it seems there are others that don't feel the same way I do. I heard one complaint that the music was too limiting and they should have expanded it to all Broadway music. Are they crazy? Look at this:

Andrew Lloyd Webber has won seven Tonys, three Grammys, seven Oliviers, a Golden Glove, an Oscar, two International Emmys, the Praemium Imperiale, the Richard Rodgers Award for Excellence in Musical Theatre and the Kennedy Center Honor. Some of his best known composing work includes “The Likes of Us,” “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “By Jeeves,” “Evita,” “Variations” and “Tell Me On A Sunday,” “Cats,” “Starlight Express,” “The Phantom of the Opera,” “Aspects of Love,” “Sunset Boulevard,” “Whistle Down the Wind,” “The Beautiful Game” and “The Woman in White.”

If they can't find something to sing in all of those choices then they don't deserve to be there. He also is going to be mentoring them tonight. Let's just hope they listen because I have a feeling he knows what he is talking about.

Tonight will be extra special for you readers because D is watching with me and I am sure he will have something to say. Ryan is introducing the judges and when he gets to Paula, D says, "She's stoned again". D doesn't beat around the bush, he calls it like he sees it. Both Randy and Simon say it will be the toughest night of the season. Simon says they need to make it memorable but contemporary. Well, let's see how they take the judges advice. First up,

1. Syesha Mercado - One Rock & Roll Too Many (Starlight Express)
This isn't a good start. I have never seen this play and I don't know the song. I believe S saw this in London and from what I remember she loved the play. Hopefully, Syesha doesn't disappoint and she makes me like a song I don't know. I may not like the song but I sure like the dress she is wearing. She looks like a star tonight. Hey, who is that guy? Is this turning into Dancing With the Stars? I thought she was excellent and D, "That was really good. Wow!". Randy thought it was her best to date and she could be a Broadway star. Paula says she "brought the house down". D says, "Nice hairdo, Paula". Simon thought she showed masses of personality. I agree, I think the stage may be her niche. Nice job, Syesha.

2. Jason Castro - Memory (Cats)
I know everyone loves this song but it is one of my least favorite songs of this show. Jason says he has never seen any of ALW's musicals and that he didn't know a cat sang this song. Can I just say I think he is already in trouble and he hasn't even begun to sing yet. I think ALW feels the same way I do. He seems really nervous, I see disaster written all over this performance. Wow, this is really bad. D says, "Turn it off". Randy calls it a train wreck. Paula is saying, I have no idea what she is saying. But then again, does anything she says make sense? Simon says it was probably the longest two minutes of this life. I think he is in trouble after this performance.

3. Brooke White - You Must Love Me (Evita)
I know this musical but don't remember this song. ALW says she doesn't have a clue what she is singing about. He works with her and likes the result. Wow! She just stopped and started over. But she has done this before and it ended up alright. I don't think this song is working for her. Uh oh, she may be joining Jason in the bottom three. Randy says she listened to ALW and it looked like she believed what she was singing. Paula is silent! She's not saying anything!! Finally, she has something to say and it isn't good. She says she should never stop and restart a song like that. The audience is silent. Simon says she looks tense and her voice was straining. She looks so scared and nervous to me. D says, "Just get her out of there". I agree, poor Brooke. I am afraid she is going to have a breakdown before this is all over.

We are halfway through and only Syesha has done well so far. I didn't think this music was going to be so hard for them to sing.

4. David Archuleta - Think of Me (Phantom of the Opera)
I love, love, love this song. ALW thinks it is a weird song choice, it's a girl's song. He can't imagine how he will sing this song. Me either, Andrew, me either.
Oh, wow! That was incredible! He took a Broadway song and made it sound like a pop song you would hear on the radio. I loved it! So did Randy, it was "the bomb"! Paula called it the perfect pop ballad. Simon thought it was pleasant but one of this weakest performances. People won't remember it, sorry! D to me, "You thought it was good? Better than Syesha? No way!". Best performance of the night so far for me.

5. Carly Smithson - Jesus Christ Superstar (Jesus Christ Superstar)
She wants to sing 'All I Ask of You'. ALW says that is not the song for her. She is a rocker and thinks the other song she is thinking of is a much better choice. She listened to him and is singing JCS. She made the right choice, I like it. D, "I like it. Look at her husband, omg". lol. He leads such a sheltered life. Randy thought it was good and might be her best performance. Paula loved the chorus. Simon says it is one of his favorite performances of the night. Even though I am not a fan of hers, I have to give her props tonight. And because this is one of my favorite songs of ALW's, I am going to let Carly sing it again.

I also thought this was funny. It is nice to see she really does have a sense of humor. I wonder sometimes about the dark and brooding lass.

D, "Dreadlocks is going home". He may be right about that.

And now for my most eagerly awaited performance of the night.

David Cook - Music of the Night (Phantom of the Opera)
ALW says it is the sexiest song he has ever written. I don't know about this choice. Maybe it will work. I see him as a rocker not a ballad singer. Well, I thought it was good but he didn't bring anything new to the song. Let's see what the judges think. Randy thought it was an amazing vocal performance. Paula says well-rounded and it was fantastic. Simon thinks grittier music suits him better but he made the most of the song he was given. D says he didn't like the ending of the song.

Well, what did you think tonight? Who's going home? My bottom three: Jason and Brooke are the easy choices. The third is much harder. I think I will make my third choice Carly. I'm not really sure why. I think Jason may be going home. If he doesn't it is only because his fan base is large enough to keep him in. He was dreadful tonight. D says Syesha was the best and Jason is toast. From his lips to God's ear is all I can say.

HaHa, this is funny. The judges are wearing masks!

And now on to my performance of the night. That honor goes to David A. He took a song and not only sang it perfectly but put a new spin on it that was still likeable. Incredible!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Monday Randomness

It was another beautiful day in PA, so with D umpiring here in Butler I headed off to another baseball game. It was another field with high fences so I didn't have the best views. D was on first today so I sat on the ground by third and hoped for the best. It wasn't a high scoring game, 3 - 1 so there wasn't a lot of action today and my battery died just as a big play was developing on third. Oh well.

Here is the best picture I got of D today.


I did manage to catch one exciting play on second. He was called out for those who care about such things.


Because of the lack of excitement, I started looking around to see if there was anything else worth photographing. I liked the way the hands looked as they were hanging out of the dugout but I'm not sure if this photo works or not. I will let you be the judge. And in case you are wondering, he is counting pitches.


After D got home he decided this was a good night to start bonfire season. I don't know what it is about him and fire but he looks for any chance he can to have a fire in our outdoor fireplace. I think summer is finally on its way.


Even Jo was enjoying the warm night on the deck tonight.


Don't forget tomorrow is American Idol. The theme is Andrew Lloyd Webber. It doesn't get much better than that, people!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

There Is A First Time For Everything

While we were in Monroe having fun this weekend, JoJo was having a little adventure of her own. Here in PA people don't go up north, they go to "camp". So anytime Jo has to go to the kennel we always tell her she is going to camp and will have lots of fun. This time at camp we decided to have her groomed for the first time. In her 3 - 5 years she has never been groomed so we thought this could be a real adventure for the groomer. It turns out she was a pretty good girl. If she would only quit flipping to her back she would have been a really good girl. I thought you might like to see the before and after. I like what they did to her and think I will have the same cut done on her the next time.

Shaggy JoJo:

jojo, 3.08

Neatly groomed JoJo:

jojo, first grooming, 4.08

What do you think?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Check This Out, Sister!

The rest of you punks will probably just want to skip today's post. This is probably something that only my not that much younger sister will be interested in. Pioneer Woman kept her promise and didn't forget those of us who use Photoshop Elements. A few days ago she shared some actions for Photoshop users but alas those of us who use Elements couldn't use them. Well, yesterday she gave Element users some easy steps to achieve the same effect that her Fresh & Colorful action does in Photoshop. Can I just say I was a tad bit excited? So, sister, check out what this action can do for you. Now you just need to learn how to use that program you have.

First, here is a picture straight out of the camera (SOOC). The only thing I did to it was resize it for the web. I can't tell you hard it was not to do anything to this photo. I photoshop ALL my pictures.

butler, 4.08, sooc

Now here is the same photo with the steps that I normally do to an image.

butler, 4.08, pw - fresh & colorful - blue

The same photo again but this time I did Pioneer Woman's Fresh & Colorful steps. What do you think? Is it better or worse than my attempt at fixing up this picture?

butler, 4.08, pw - fresh & colorful

Now I kind of liked it but it had a blue cast to it that I didn't like so I redid PW's steps but this time I took some blue out of it. What do you think? I think I am loving it.

butler, 4.08, my action

Now because I am a Porter I couldn't stop there, so I tried it again with another photo.


katie, florida, 3.08, sooc

And the same photo again using PW's Fresh & Colorful steps. What do you think? Are you finally going to learn how to use Photoshop?

katie, florida, 3.08, pw - fresh & colorful

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Photography 101

When my not that much younger sister and I were in Florida, we were discussing future blog ideas. I told her I was thinking of doing occasional posts about taking better photos. Now, she thought it was a good idea despite what the rest of you may think. So this is the first post of an occasional series called Photography 101. I know that most of you use point and shoot cameras so I am going to try and keep that in mind. These will be just simple and easy tips that can make a big difference in how your pictures turn out. Trust me, I have made all of these mistakes and more. In fact, I am still making mistakes as the following post will show. So on to tip number one.

Tip Number One: Pay attention to what is going to be in the background of that picture when you are composing your shot. Sometimes the background can add to the "story" of your shot but if the background is too distracting, it will pull the focus off the object you are trying to photograph. Look at this picture which was only taken two days ago proving that I am still making mistakes.

dave, slippery rock, 4.08

The focus is supposed to be on D, but he is competing with the green roof of the school and the fans in the stands (who happen to be wearing red which is even more distracting). In fact, once I had it up on my computer screen I liked it even less than I did when I had looked at it in the viewfinder. I decided to convert it to a black and white photo which does help. Converting it to black and white helps keep the focus on D instead of the background.

dave, slippery rock, 4.08

I had an idea of trying to get a picture of D with the dugout in the background. Now that is a background that might have worked becaue it could have added to the story of the photo. But, sadly I couldn't find a place on the sidelines where I could get a shot like that. Maybe next time.

After 54 pictures, yes I looked, I realized what the background of all the photos I had just taken looked like. I moved just 10 feet to my left and that completely changed the background of my pictures. Now the focus of the photo stays in the foreground as it should. In fact, I now have the option of leaving them in color if I choose.

dave, slippery rock, 4.08

It only took 10 feet to to change the background to something that wasn't competing with the action on the field. I know it isn't always easy to do or even possible, but the next time you snap a picture take a quick look and see what your background looks like and use your feet to change it if you don't like what you see.

American Idol in 60 Seconds

Just in case you missed it this week, here is MTV's sixty second recap of American Idol.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Take Me Out To The Ball Game

Dave emailed me yesterday afternoon and suggested I go to his double header later that day. It was in Slippery Rock which is only 11 miles from here and just about as close as it gets when it comes to umpiring locations. Not only was it close, but I knew how to get there which is always a plus! Yesterday's weather was also incredible. Temps in the high sixties, a light breeze and not a cloud in the sky. I couldn't think of a reason not to go.

I had my camera in hand as I approached the field but quickly realized I was going to have a slight problem. The field was completly enclosed by a fence, not just any fence, but a high fence. ALL THE WAY AROUND. I had to shoot through the fence all day which explains some ghost like lines you will see on some of the pictures. Oh well, it just means I need to go to another game with friendlier fences.

dave, slippery rock, 4,08

D says a good umpire doesn't move even if the ball is flying by his head. He must trust his catcher. He says it always helps to have a good catcher and he had a good catcher for this game. I've been at games where the catcher was too lazy to go after the ball and D is getting smacked by the ball time after time. It usually only takes one, "Catch the damn ball", from D to take care of that little problem. Just look at that ball going by his head and he didn't even flinch! If that were me I would have been ducking. I guess that is why he is the umpire and I am the photographer.

dave, slippery rock, 4.08

D making some calls.

dave, slippery rock, 4.08

dave, slippery rock, 4.08

He had only one controversial call the entire game. As you can see the runner is sliding at home plate and from D's view caught the plate with his hand. Safe! I heard a lady yell from somewhere behind me saying she could see from where she was that he was out, "He didn't touch the plate, Blue!". And the coach saw it differently too. He said he could see that he was out from way over there (pointing to where he had been standing) and D said he could see from there (pointing to a spot 5 feet from the plate) that he was safe. The call stood. What do you think? Did he make the right call?

dave, slippery rock, 4.08


dave, slippery rock, 4.08

For those of you that read Pioneer Women's blog, you know she goes on and on about her Marlboro Man. Well, I was feeling a little left out so I just want you to know I too have a Marlboro Man, except I call him my Umpire Man. Who doesn't love a man in a uniform?

dave, slippery rock, 4.08

dave, slippery rock, 4.08

Ok, enough of that. Back to baseball.

Another thing I learned about umpiring yesterday is that D doesn't watch the foul balls that are going behind him. He watches the catcher and can tell from where he is going where the ball is going. Who knew?

dave, slippery rock, 4.08

And now for the last picture of the day. Literally, this is the last picture I took yesterday at the ball game. First, you need to know what is going on to fully appreciate the following photo. the visiting team had been up 4 - 0 going into the bottom of the sixth inning. Slippery Rock scored 6 runs and were now winning 6 - 4. This is now the top of the seventh inning. It is do or die for the visiting team. There are two outs and two men on base. The count on the batter is 3 - 2. The pitcher throws the ball and this is the result.

dave, slippery rock, 4.08

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

This Is....American Idol!

Crikey! Neither Paula or I are yet over Michael's unexpected exit.

So let's start with a moment of silence for our dearly missed Aussie. If there is any justice in this world, the Irish girl goes next! And now on to business. This is American Idol!

Even Ryan is still shocked at Michael's early exit. Tonight's theme: Mariah Carey music. Yuck. If you read my previous post you already know how I feel about this. This could be a tough night for the guys. Now on to a MC retrospective. She has a 5 octave range and five grammys. She also has the most number one songs for a solo artist having now passed Elvis Presley. Wow, I should be impressed but how can I be when I can't even name one of her songs? I can name a Kermit the Frog song but not one Mariah Carey song. This could be a long night.

1. David Archuleta - When You Believe
Before I comment on this week's performance let me say something about last week's song choice. This is a quote from our wide-eyed innocent boy, "This week I had a hard time picking an inspirational song because there were a few I was thinking about, and when I came to 'Angels', something about that song was just so different from the other ones." Maybe it was so different from the other ones because you have been performing that song for YEARS! What do you think? Did he have an unfair advantage last week? I am beginning not to like you, David.

I can already tell by the title this song was made for him and I don't even know it (surprise). I have to say it was fantastic. There will be no surprise exit for him tomorrow night. And by the way, are those leather pants he is wearing? No surprise here, Randy called it the "bomb". You made Paula proud and Simon said it was very, very good. David you are safe.

2. Carly Smithson - Without You
Carly says she was so sad when Michael left. I feel your pain Carly. Especially when it should have been you going home last week. Please don't let me down this week. Hey, I know this song! This isn't a MC song. She covered this song. Wasn't this a Harry Nilsson song? After some searching, I discovered I was right. He had a hit with this song in 1972. I can't remember what I had for dinner last night but I can remember a song from over 30 years ago. Weird. Well, I can still say that I haven't recognized any of her songs yet. I thought it was OK and by the way where is her stylist? The judges agree. They thought it was alright. This could spell trouble for out little Irish girl. I found Nilsson's version of the song so sit back and take a listen and see what you think.

3. Syesha Mercado - Vanishing
She has disappointed two weeks in a row trying to sing diva songs. Will this be three? She is singing an obscure song of Mariah's. I don't know if this will help her or hurt her. Take notes, Carly, this girl looks good! It's OK, I don't know it so it does nothing for me. Randy thought it was a little pitchy in spots. After a lot of rambling Paula says it was "magical". Simon disagrees. He thought it was technically good but something was missing.

4. Brooke White - Hero
This can't be a good theme week for Brooke. But, hey, I know this song! I know she isn't the best singer left in the competition but I just like the sound of her voice. She is just so likeable, sunny and bright as opposed to Carly who is so dark and gloomy. I kind of liked it. Randy thought it was pretty good. Paula is stumbling over her words again and finally settles on "pretty good". Simon it was like ordering a hamburger and getting only the bun. Huh? The others disagree. They say maybe it's only missing the bun. Now Simon disagrees. Ah, now they all agree it is missing something, maybe condiments? Now Paula quips, "Where's the beef?". I feel like Brooke looks, confused.

5. Kristy Lee Cook - Forever
Another unknown song. Look, Carly, another girl who knows how to dress. Maybe she listens to her stylist. This song does nothing for me. In fact, as I am writing this I don't even remember the song she sang. Randy is just rambling and Paula is blown away and, of course, is so proud of her. Simon said it didn't give him chills but she did the best she could.

6. David Cook - Always Be My Baby
Please, please knock my socks off, David. Yes!!! I love it and I don't even know it. Randy said he stood up for the first time this season. I'm with you, Randy. If I didn't have a dog on my lap I would be standing too. Paula says he is the whole package. And Simon? He said it was original and daring. He loved it! David has tears in his eyes. I can't wait to see the video of this performance.

I'm glad I don't have to follow David Cook's performance. Bummer, Jason!

7. Jason Castro - I Don't Want to Cry
Me neither, but I have a feeling your rendition of this song will have me in tears and not the kind of tears I had for David Cook. MC says his take on the song is interesting and different. That can't be good. Oh, this sounds like a boy band song and I hate boy bands. Randy says it sounded like a weird beach luau song. Paula liked it and said she is just proud of everyone tonight (you called that one, Shaelynn). Simon liked it.

Well, who are your bottom three? I have to say the boys were the best tonight which I totally didn't expect. So just girls are in my bottom three. I would like to see Jason there but his fan base is still too strong at this point. So Carly and Kristy Lee are definately there and forced to choose between Syesha and Brooke, I will go with Syesha. My prediction for who is going home tomorrow night is..... Carly. I think with the judges luke warm response to her performance and an eroding fan base she will be next.

And on to the performance of the night. Here's to the one who would have had me on my feet if not for JoJo on my lap. Take it away, David!

Listen Up, American Idol

As if running my own life doesn't keep me busy enough, I am going to start telling American Idol what to do.

First, I watched the CMT awards last night. Now that was a show. The parts that were supposed to be funny were funny. The music was fantastic and it was just plain fun to watch. Idol Gives Back could take some lessons from that show. So whoever produces Idol Gives Back, take note.

Second, for those that don't know yet, tonight the theme will be the music of Mariah Carey. I realize she is very popular but I don't like her music. In fact, I couldn't name one song that she sings. She was on Oprah yesterday and sang her new single. That didn't change my opinion of her or her music. If you want to have a "pop-diva" theme, why not Cher? Everyone knows her music and I think she would be just plain fun to have on the show. Plus she doesn't take herself too seriously. A popular saying is that if there was a nuclear holocaust all that would be left standing would be cockroaches and Cher. Take that, Mariah!

So I am going to fill your ears with some decent music before we are assaulted tonight with Mariah's music. Just so you know this is one of D's favorite videos. We saw this when we were in Hawaii and touring the USS Missouri. He kept saying I should climb up and sit on one of those gun turrets. Huh? Are you crazy?

uss missouri

Whenever this video comes on he gets so excited. Anyone know why?! Anyway, I hope you enjoy it as much as D does.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Four Grills Out Of Five

After all the talk I have finally tried the ribs. I started yesterday by marinating them in balsamic vinegar and root beer. Strange I know, but I got this recipe from my not that much younger brother so the blame goes to him if they don't turn out. Today I wrapped them in foil with more marinade and baked them in the oven. I need to remember to use heavy duty foil next time because I had some problems with the ribs poking through the foil.

grilling ribs

So far so good. The two and a half hours in the oven is up and now I must get Dave away from the Masters and on to grill duty.

grilling ribs

The ribs are now on the grill and they look good! Now they are getting a root beer glaze.

dave grilling ribs

A little more golf ....

grilling ribs

and they are ready to eat. Ribs, roasted asparagus and garlic bread.

grilling ribs

Ahhhhhh, they are now just a memory.

grilling ribs

All in all they turned out pretty good. They were falling off the bone and very tender. We decided they ranked 4 out of 5 grills. They lost a grill because of the root beer sauce. It was just too sweet for our taste. We decided that next time we are going to use some kind of barbeque sauce. But I have to say they were still really good and best of all they are really easy. Give them a try, you won't be disappointed!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

I'm So Tired

I am so tired. Why you ask? Because we drove to Cleveland last night, went to see Stacy Mitchhart and didn't get back to our hotel room until after 2. We were up by 6:30 so we could be back in Bulter by 10 to get Jo from the kennel. I am not a night person and I am NOT a person that functions well on 4 hours of sleep.

But despite the lack of sleep the concert was excellent. We went to Nashville a couple of years ago to see Stacy play at the Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie Bar located in Printer's Alley. If you are familiar with Carrie Underwood's video "Before He Cheats", that was filmed in Printer's Alley. In fact, if you look close you can see the bar's sign in one of the scenes. It is a great place to watch the blues. It is an authentic New Orleans style nightclub with live blues six nights a week. It has old wood floors, everyone is crammed into every available space and smoke hangs in the air. A thumbs up as a place to listen to music. Last night the venue wasn't quite as authentic. It is just a bar located in a strip mall but the music was great.

stacy mitchhart

Stacy Mitchhart grew up in Cincinnati and now lives in Nashville. To quote Stacy, “I’m a Yankee in Nashville doing the most non-country thing I can do.” There weren't many videos on youtube of Stacy but I did find one of him singing a song called "Homewrecker" which he also did last night. The audio isn't the best but deal with it. I'm tired and don't feel like spending all night finding a better video.

Tomorrow I will be cooking ribs for the first time. If they don't turn out I am totally blaming my brother. Review and pictures to come.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Idol Shocker!!!

Well, not as shocking as the title might lead you to believe but surprising none the less. Let's just say two days ago Paula was pointing to the heavens and tonight her mouth was on the floor.

First let me say I correctly predicted two of the bottom three. My picks were Carly, Syesha & Brooke. The actual bottom three were Carly, Syesha & Michael Johns. I was feeling pretty good about my prediction of Carly going home and Carly was looking resigned to her fate. And then the unthinkable happened. Michael Johns was voted off! How could this happen? I never thought he could win the whole thing but I thought he would have at least outlasted Kristy. The curse of performing first had reared its ugly head again.

So let me leave you with Michael's farewell performance from tonight. Dream on, Michael.

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