Tuesday, November 27, 2007

My new money pit

I was warned. "Don't bother buying a pace car under $5000," an owner of more than a dozen low-mileage pace car replicas told me. "You'll end up spending at least $5000 to get it back to the condition you want."

"Nah, not me," I said to myself. "I'm more careful than that. I do my research. And the car doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to be driveable."

Well, I paid $3000 for an '84 Fiero pace car. And I've already put $1000 into it (on top of the $80 to tow it to the shop and another $80 to tow it back home tonight). And it still isn't driveable.

Bah! I did my homework! I looked at the pictures -- the car is gorgeous inside and out (that much is true, even in person). I talked to the owner, who told me all about his love of Fieros, his car collection, the work he had done, etc. I even paid an independent inspection company to check out the car. The inspector sent back pictures detailing every little scratch and cosmetic blemish, but as for the test drive and running condition, the report just said "Runs rough. Probably bad gas."

Boy was he wrong.

So I get the car, and I can barely keep it from stalling, but I finally get it pulled into my garage. The next day I got home early from training and decided to take it out for a spin. I start her up and after a few minutes of idling, the engine gets EXTREMELY loud. A few revs and it drops back to a tolerable level. I take it out and try driving it around the neighborhood, and any time I try to give it even a little gas, it coughs and sputters, and then backfires when I get off the gas. So I limp back home and park it. I also find a heavy metal piece on the garage floor that looks like a cap to something, except it's not threaded. Hmm. So the next day I have the car towed to the shop.

So the mechanics start going over the car. First there's a bad front ball joint, which is needed for inspection. And apparently something chewed up the spark plug wires, which means the plugs are now shot. "So we'll replace the plugs and wires and see how it runs," the mechanic tells me. Oh, and that metal cap I found in the garage? It's a piece from the catalytic converter. He tells me it "holds the pellets in", and since it fell out, there are now no pellets. (They weren't on the garage floor either, so who knows where they went.) They can weld it back in place, but there's no telling whether it will pass emmissions.

So they fix the cat and replace the plugs and wires and... the car still doesn't run right. The computer is saying it's a bad MAP sensor, but a new one doesn't fix the problem. And this is Saturday before I leave for a week in Cancun. The mechanic asks me to give him "up to 2 more hours" to diagnose the problem, so I agree. "It could take me 15 minutes," he says, "but I won't spend more than 2 hours because I know this is getting expensive." By now we're up over $600 including the state inspection.

So I get back from Cancun and call to find out how the car's doing. "We found a bad O2 sensor," he tells me, so they replaced it, which allowed them to finally find the true cause of the problem -- a bad fuel injector. (Incidentally, the 2.5L Fiero only has one fuel injector, because it uses trottle body injection.) That and a new fuel filter will run almost another $500. "I can't put any more money into it right now," I say. "Is the car driveable?" "Barely," he tells me, "but I wouldn't recommend it."

So this afternoon I went over to check out the car and pay the bill, and then I went back tonight (when the traffic was lighter) to try to limp home, Jen following along behind "just in case". I get about half a mile down the road when the car stalls. So I go to restart it and -- nothing. Even though it fired up just fine four or five times in the parking lot, apparently the battery is now dead. So I have no choice but to call a tow truck and haul the car back to where it started, outside my house. (I could've jumped it but I know it would have stalled again at the next stop sign.)

There is one glimmer of good news, however. I talked to a friend at work, whose brother is a mechanic and loves to tinker with cool projects on the side. He used to own an MR2 so I figured he might enjoy working on another mid-engine car. So we chatted for a while today and he offered to replace the injector and the fuel filter for $40 -- a job the shop wanted to charge at least $150 labor for. Then I go online and find a reconditioned OEM fuel injector for $50 at DirectAuto.com (the shop wanted $320 for a new AC Delco injector), and picked up a fuel filter at Advance tonight for $9 (which would've cost around $25 through the shop). So it looks like I MAY be out of the woods for just another $100 or so.

Of course that's just to get it running. There's no telling if it will pass emmissions or not. And the shop also said it needs a new radiator. And then there's the oil leak. And of course it needs almost all new electronics -- power window and lock motors, a new power mirror switch, new windshied washer fluid pump. And both the steering and shifting are extremely tight -- no telling what could be wrong there.

But hey, at least the car LOOKS nice. Maybe I should just park it on a trailer and tow it to shows?

Maybe you'd consider stopping by Indypacecars.com and buying a diecast car for someone on your Christmas list? As you can see, I need the money!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

My new car

If you've been on my blog before, you may have noticed a link to Indypacecars.com, a website about the Indy 500 pace car program. I've run this site since 1999, yet I have never owned a pace car replica myself -- until now.

No, it's not the 2007 Corvette pace car or one of the great Camaro or Olds pace cars from the 60's and 70's -- maybe some day. For now I'll settle for the 1984 Fiero pace car that was delivered last night.

Yes, believe it or not, the Fiero was indeed an Indy 500 pace car. The replica is one of 2000 made, of which probably only a few hundred still survive. And even at 115k miles, it is one of the cleanest Fieros I have seen for the price, certainly far above average for the miles.

It may not be my dream car (my personal favorite is the '95 Corvette), but I figure the Fiero is a good place to start. It was in my price range, it's cheap to insure, and it's still a head-turner and will give me the opportunity to go out and show it off from time to time.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

A pretty good week so far

First, a welcome to anyone who might be reading this through Facebook's Blog Friends application. Be warned, I tend to babble about all sorts of random topics -- hence the name of the blog.

I must admit that this has been a pretty good week so far.
  1. I won $56 in this week's football picks pool
  2. Democrats won a majority in the Virginia state senate and picked up 3 additional seats in the house -- even though my district's Democratic candidate, Jay Donahue, lost. :(
  3. My friend's husband (also a Democrat) won the race for Dulles District Supervisor, which is pretty damn cool, even if it's not my district.
  4. We found out that we will be having a BOY in April! (I guess I never publicly posted that we are expecting, so here's the announcement.)
  5. Little Miss went potty FIVE times yesterday. Now we can really work on having her tell us before she needs to go. Hopefully she'll be completely out of diapers before her 3rd birthday in January.
  6. We went out for a great meal at Don Pablo's last night (my favorite) with my brother, and Lauren was actually quite well-behaved (once she fully woke up).
  7. We leave for Cancun in 11 days!
Hope all is well with you! And if you're on Facebook, add me as a friend!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Music Monday - Lady Bell from Austin

Last week I was in Austin, TX for a training conference. Friday night one of my co-workers took us out to see a friend of hers (who recently moved to Austin from northern Virginia) perform at an open mic night. The coffee shop, The Green Muse, was one of the seediest dives I've been in (or maybe this suburbanite was just out of his element, but I generally prefer to hang out with people who bathe more than once a week), and we had to sit through two laughably bad acts (one of whom performed twice) and a moderately decent female singer/guitarist before Lady Bell (apparently her real name) finally took the stage around 10:40. But Lady's performance more than made up for the hour and forty minutes we had waited.

In short, I was blown away by this 22-year-old's performance. Her voice and guitar playing are both fantastic and her original songs are irresistibly head-bobbing. Her set also included unique takes on two cover songs -- a ukulele performance of Margaritaville ("strumming my four-string"), and an amazingly beautiful rendition of Outkast's "Hey Ya". Lady's performance was so well received that the manager let her 20-minute set go on about 40 minutes. Nevermind the fact that more than half the audience was there specifically to see her -- Lady's talent was certainly deserving of the extra time.

I must admit that I do have one complaint, however. Upon visiting Lady Bell's Myspace page and listening to her original tracks, I discovered that Lady sings in a very soft, Jewel-esque voice throughout her songs. The thing is, she has a much better voice than that. It is when she really sings out that she sets herself apart from your average folk singer, starting to sound less like Jewel and more like Alicia Keys.

With Lady's talent, charm, and intoxicating smile, I can't imagine this girl will be performing at open mic nights for very long before moving on to bigger and better things in the "music capital of the world".

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Quote of the day

From Rolling Stone, in a rant about (among other things) politics and homeland security:

"You can have my shoes when you pry them off my cold, dead feet, and those Red Lobster-hostess blazers look fucking stupid on your police-academy-dropout ass."

RS 1037, "Hot Mood - Not Dealing With Reality"

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Little Miss's Mess

Boy, it's been a while, hasn't it? Sucks when you have to go on vacation just to find time to blog! (And sad that I actually took time to blog from Hawaii, but that's another story!)

Anyway, I just had to share this morning's conversation with Little Miss. Lauren's 2 1/2 now (actually, 2 years and 7 months today) and although she's been in a toddler bed for some time now, we just recently moved her out of the nursery and into her new bedroom, where we leave the door open overnight.

This morning when Lauren came into our room, the conversation went something like this:

LM: Daddy, my shirt all wet!
Me: Hmmm. Are your pants all wet too? (Expecting a leaky diaper) Yeah, they are... and sticky too! (pause) Lauren, what did you do?
LM: I brush my teeth all by myself!
Me: Ahhh. And you wiped toothpaste all over your pants?
LM: Yeah!

So I went to investigate the state of the bathroom... and it actually wasn't bad, although I did find a sticky footprint in the hallway.

Then I noticed that Lauren had Dora bandaids on three of her fingers. So I looked in the bandaid box, still sitting exactly where it always sits on the bathroom counter -- and found that Lauren had opened every. single. bandaid. And then stuffed the empty wrappers (and half the bandaids) back in the box (plus a few in the trash can). What could I do but laugh?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Aloha from Hawaii!

Yeah, I know, I can't find time to blog when I'm at home, but while I'm 5000 miles away in paradise I have time to sit at the computer. What the hell's wrong with me??? Well, you know... we paid for the high-speed access, and I'm not going anywhere tonight but I'm not quite ready for bed (It's 9:30 Hawaii time), so I figured what the hell.

So we are into our second week of our vacation. We spent the first week in Kona on the big island (the island of Hawaii, in case you didn't know), then hopped over to Kauai for our second week. We decided to do mostly sightseeing on Hawaii because there aren't that many great swimming beaches, plus there are lots of unique things to see. We did get to go snorkeling and saw a bunch of sea turtles and lots of cool fish. We also did the "swim with the dolphins" at Dolphin Quest at the Hilton Waikoloa, where we also got to snorkel in their amazing lagoon and once again saw some huge sea turtles and dozens of fantastic fish. As an aside, I was dismayed to learn that the dolphins at Dolphin Quest are Atlantic bottlenose dolphins -- which means they aren't native to Hawaii. They said it's because they do better in the shallow waters of their dolphin lagoon. It bothers me a bit to think that they were transported all the way over here just for our entertainment (or at least previous generations were -- I believe all of the current dolphins were born here) rather than this being a rehabilitation site for rescued Pacific bottlenose dolphins. But in any case, the encounter was cool and the snorkeling was excellent. We also spent a day touring the south side of the island, including Volcanoes National Park, and another day driving around the north side, exploring waterfalls and beach parks outside Hilo.

We also did a van tour to the summit of Mauna Kea at 13,700 feet to watch the sunset, followed by some amazing stargazing back down at around 9000 feet. The locals like to say that Mauna Kea is the tallest mountain in the world because if it were measured from the ocean floor, it would be over 20,000 feet tall. And regardless of where you measure from, I'd venture to guess that there aren't very many mountains where you can go from sea level to 13,000+ feet in a matter of hours. I mean I've been to the top of Mt. Baldy at 12,441 feet, but you start the climb from about 8800 feet. By the way, it was probably around 35 degrees F at the summit of Mauna Kea!

So this week we are in Princeville, on the north shore of Kauai. Kauai is so different from Hawaii -- it's called the garden island because almost everything here is lush tropical forest. Kauai also has a number of beautiful, sandy beaches. And yesterday we did the best snorkeling we've ever done at a place called Tunnels Reef, where we saw hundreds of beautiful fish (including a tang that must've been close to two feet long!) and another sea turtle. The weather has been a bit on the rainy side, but mostly in the evening and early morning so it hasn't really spoiled our plans. This morning we were up at 4am for a 7-hour catamaran cruise and scuba dive (which I'm saving that for a separate post), so now it's time to get to bed (it's now 10pm) before I fall face-first onto the laptop.... which wouldn't be that much of a stretch considering the whole room is still bobbing up and down!

More pictures coming soon!


Thursday, June 28, 2007

Ten years of wedded something-or-other

I know I haven't been blogging much lately (still terribly busy at work), but I had to pause for this momentous occasion. Today is our 10 year wedding anniversary!

Ten years, huh? Wow, that's something. It certainly hasn't all been roses, but on the whole I guess I can't complain. I guess special occasions like this (or Valentine's Day, for example) always make me dwell on the problems, but every marriage has its share of problems, right? Heck, the bottom line is that I'm thankful to have found someone who's been able to put up with me for ten years!

But more import than our anniversary (ok, maybe not more important but certainly more exciting) is the fact that on Saturday we are off to Hawaii for two weeks! With no kid! Yippee!!!!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Happy Birthday Ranger Rick!

So why have I been so busy at work lately? One of the reasons was launching this great website and video for Ranger Rick!

If you would like to embed this video on your own blog, please don't embed this version. We are putting the finishing touches on a version that will be served from our own site, so please check back here in a few days. For now I'm posting this version for testing purposes and to drive up the views a bit on YouTube.

To blog or not to blog, that is the question

Yes, I admit it. I am a blog abandonner. I didn't think anyone would notice, but apparently my two loyal readers both did! (Thank you to Liz and Jamie for checking in! It's good to know people do actually stop by now and then!)

So what happened? Well, lots of things...

Reason #1: I was liveblogging American Idol fairly regularly, but then
a) Idol went down the toilet with the whole Sanjaya thing
b) I tried adding Technorati tags to my posts and found that Technorati isn't spidering my blog, even when I ping it! (Any technorati users out there, please help!)
c) Idol is on from 8-9, and my daughter's bath time is typically 8:30, so my "liveblogging" was typically delayed while I paused the DVR to give her a bath. Plus it's hard to blog (let alone actually LISTEN to the contestants) with a 2-year-old running around.

Reason #2: When I started blogging, I was working on a government contract that didn't keep me busy, so I had plenty of time to blog during the day. Now that I work at National Wildlife Federation, I have more to do than I could ever get done. I've been here a year now, and this past April was the busiest I had ever been since starting. In fact it's probably the busiest I've ever been at any job.

Reason #3: My mom doesn't read my blog. Is that bad? Well here's the deal... a few months ago I decided that I was going to start using this blog for posting more stories about Lauren and then send my mom and dad here for the latest updates. So my mom asked me how her granddaughter was doing and I said "you can read all about her in my blog! Let me give you the address." To which she says, "I don't want to read your blahg! I have better things to do with my time than read someone's boring ramblings." Gee, thanks Mom! I'm not just "someone", I'm your SON, and these aren't boring ramblings (except for this one), they're posts about your granddaughter!

The funny thing is, some people here at NWF have embraced the "Web 2.0" buzzword and think we need to spend more time blogging, building social networks, etc. But our typical member is women over 55 -- just a few years younger than my mom. So if my mom is saying that she doesn't read blogs (even her own son's), is Web 2.0 something we really want to invest a lot of time in?

So anyway, that's why my blog has more or less died. But I would like to revive it and see if I can post at least weekly, so I hope you will stop back. And maybe if I get some more posts up about Lauren, my mom will actually read my blog!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

American Idol top 10 recap

It's Tuesday -- time for another evening of Idol liveblogging! Tonight's guest is Gwen Stefani and apparently the contestants will be singing both No Doubt songs and songs from artists who inspired No Doubt.

First up is LaKisha singing Donna Summer's "Last Dance". She's wearing a flowered mu-mu that makes her look far heavier than previously, but her voice is strong as always. It's nothing spectacular, but she has good energy and stage presence. The judges all comment on her hip outfit (???) and give her praise for the vocals.

Chris "Fro Patrol" Sligh is up next, singing The Police. Gwen comments on Chris's difficulty staying with the beat, which we've seen in past performances. And even now on stage, he's still ahead and wants to rush the song. This is far from his best performance. The judges are pretty rough on him too.

Gina Glocksen singing... crap, I know the song but I can't come up with the title or artist right now. She's lookin pretty hot tonight, but her voice sounds really rough -- it's clear she's sick. She still does a great job of staying on pitch. She's a trooper, and she gets a great response from the audience. The judges all say it's her best performance to date -- even Simon!

After the commercials, break out the earplugs... it's Sanjaya and Haley!

Sanjaya's singing Bathwater by No Doubt and comes out sporting a HIDEOUS mohawk. It starts off very weak -- as if Sanjaya is capable of anything else -- but the chorus isn't half bad. Oops, he stumbles over the words there. SOMEBODY SEND THIS BOZO HOME, PLEASE! Crap, even my two-year-old daughter wants me to turn the tv off. Oooh, he gives the camera the bedroom eyes at the end. Randy's "speechless" -- LOL! Sanjaya gets the comeback of the night though, saying Simon's "just jealous" that he couldn't pull off the mohawk. Simon basically gives up on Sanjaya, knowing that the voters will do whatever they want.

Haley's singing True Colors. When she starts, the performance reminds me a lot of Kat McPhee's breakout performance on "Somewhere Over The Rainbow", but whether she can accomplish the same thing remains to be seen. Nope, there's no big goosebump moment. Randy doesn't like it, but I disagree -- I actually think it was one of her better performances. It was elegant, not campy like most of her previous performances. I agree with Simon: "sweet but forgettable".

Next up is Phil Stacey. Thankfully they've put him in a hat again this week. It's another Police song, "Every Breath You Take". His voice sounds a lot like Sting's so this is a great fit for him. (I think I said this before this season, didn't I?) So far this is probably his best performance to date. I only wish he had more energy on stage. Yes, it's a ballad but it's an up-tempo ballad! Randy and Paula think it's "pretty good" and Simon actually gives him the best comments of the three!

Melinda is singing Donna Summer. Gwen knows immediately just how good she is: "I'd wish you luck but I don't think you need it," she says. They gave her a great, mature but modern hairstyle this week. She rips off another stellar performance. How in the world was this girl singing backups?? The judges love it as always. I'm still worried that she'll be the shocker to get the boot with 4 or 3 left, like Chris Daughtry last year. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Blake's singing The Cure's "Love Song". I love this song and I can't wait to see what Blake does with it. He has a great, pure voice. This is probably the best he's been too. It looks like everyone's in it to win it tonight -- except Sanjaya and maybe Haley. No beat-boxing tonight either -- interesting choice, but I think it's the right one. Paula gushes over it and says its risky and original -- how was that original? I thought it was pretty much a note-perfect rendition. Simon says he's the best guy, and I agree. Actually, I've been saying that since the first week.

Jordin's singing No Doubt's "Hey Baby". I think she can rock this! Wow, what a horrible outfit! She's a bit shaky in the beginning, and pitchy on the chorus, but it's a tough song to sing. I definitely like whe she holds the notes out and adds a little soul to it, though! Hmm... I wasn't blown away, but it was pretty good. The judges seem to like it a little more than I did.

Chris R. chooses "Don't Speak" by No Doubt. Gwen comments on his "vocal olympics". She actually has pretty good insight into the contestants. He's a bit flat throughout, and a few notes are completely off. Probably one of his worst performances... until he gets to the final chorus and takes the melody up, then he gets a bit stronger. Simon's dead on -- he's the only one who noticed the vocals were weak, especially in the middle.

So that's it for another week of Idol. Once again Melinda and LaKisha were far ahead of anyone else, but for me Phil and Gina gave the surprise breakout performances of the night. Who's going home? Probably Chris Sligh based on tonight's performance -- unless the universe suddenly rights itself and Sanjaya goes home, that is!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

In case you didn't know... the internet is for porn!

This is the funniest thing I've seen in a long time! (I need to watch viral videos more often!)

So apparently the song is from a musical called Avenue Q, and yes, it's really sung that way! I just learned about this musical tonight and now I am dying to go see it! It's performed with Sesame Street style puppets, although the cool thing is that the actors/puppeteers are in plain view. There's a great (but short) clip of the actual broadway production here.

It's Idol night!

It's Tuesday night... that means it's time for more Idol liveblogging! Tonight's "British Invasion" night. Let's see what the top 11 have in store for us tonight.

Haley Scarnato - Tonight's performance is certainly a lot better than we've seen the last few weeks. I wouldn't say it was great, and it got a little pitchy around the end, but it certainly wasn't terrible. She certainly had a lot more energy and passion than previously.

Chris Richardson - Chris goes with a ballad this week, supposedly to showcase his voice. He does well, but sounds a bit like a crooner to me... and we all know what happens to crooners on Idol! He's not bad, but it's not nearly as good as his up-tempo songs. Actually, it's pretty boring... my wife just let out a snore next to me! Wha...?? Oh, sorry, dozed off for a second. I must've slept through the good parts, because the judges seem to really like it.

Oh no!! We just lost our Fox feed! Both normal and HD are a black screen! Ok, it's back... but we're still in commercial.

Stephanie Edwards - I still think she's one of the best singers in the competition, but she has to do something to set herself apart and not seem so "ordinary" and forgettable, otherwise she's going home very soon. The performance was very strong, although it got a little weird for me at the end. Randy says it was pitchy and I agree. She could be in danger this week, if Sanjaya doesn't go home.

Blake Lewis - Blake brings a little of the beat-boxing back this week... but what a hideous outfit! He hits the high notes, but just barely... I actually think he would've sounded better in falsetto. The beat-boxing isn't as good as it's been in the past. Maybe he's trying too hard to put it into each song. Well Paula really seems to have enjoyed it! It's not my favorite performance from Blake, but it's still darn good. Randy and Paula seem to like it a lot more than I did.... even Simon likes it! I must be off my game this week.

LaKisha Jones - I don't know this song, but this is the powerful voice that LaKisha's become known for. Unfortunately I'm still waiting for her to really give me goosebumps. She's good, but she just doesn't do it for me. Well, the ending was almost there. I think it was better than Simon gave her credit for, though. But again, maybe my ears are just off tonight.

Phil Stacey - Some people look good bald, but I must say, Phil is NOT one of those people. But hey, hey comes out rocking this week and he sounds GOOD! I think this is the best we've seen from Phil so far. My 2-year-old is ROCKING OUT on the couch and singing along too! Hmm... last year Taylor was her favorite, so maybe Phil is the one to watch out for this year? OK, maybe not.

Jordin Sparks - "I who have nothing" is a great song for Jordin. Now this one gives me chills. It is a little slow, almost dragging, but it's still fantastically powerful. I think Jordin just made this a three-girl competition! The whole audience is standing. Wow, I forgot that she's only 17! Simon says the song was too depressing.... maybe next week she should sing "The sun will come out tomorrow"?

Sanjaya Malakar - OK, here comes that goofus Sanjaya. Oh. My. God. Are girls really that crazy about Sanjaya that they cry over him? Crap, he's so awful that he's certain to stick around another week. OK, I hate to admit this, but that might actually be his best performance so far. And apparently Randy agrees. Of course that's really not saying much -- it's still a suckfest.

Gina Glocksen - Boy, I never realized just how big a HEAD Gina has! Oh, she mentioned blogs! OK, I'm sorry I just said you have a big head, Gina! I still love you. Maybe Ryan just has a teeny head. Ooh, Gina's doing "Paint It Black".... all I can think of is Ryan Star doing PIB during Rock Star: Supernova. She's a little shaky, but still good, and the song certainly fits her style. I certainly don't agree when Simon says "there were moments of complete torture." It wasn't that bad! I actually thought it was pretty good.

I do love Simon's comment about good singing being "what this competition should be about," because it's clear this year that that isn't what it's about.

Chris Sligh - Chris meanders through the audience as he sings... a little campy for my taste. OMFG, did you see that sign, "BRINGING CHUBBY BACK"? ROTFLMAO! OK, where was I? Oh yeah, Chris is wandering around and trying to sing. For an up-tempo song, this song is amazingly boring -- not at all what we've come to expect from Chris S. The judges seemed to like it though, so who knows. And we finally have our catch-phrase for this season -- FRO PATROL!

Melinda Doolittle - So they save the best for last again this week. Looks like it's Melinda's turn to do a ballad too. I'm actually looking forward to hearing a softer side of her voice. It starts off solid but boring, but she brings it home in the end as expected. She really is a spectacular singer. Hey, there goes Simon stealing my words again!

Well that's it! Time to fire up DialIdol and start voting! Let's see if we can finally get rid of Sanjaya this week! Unfortunately I'm afraid it could be Stephanie going home tomorrow, or maybe even Phil, even though I really enjoyed his performance tonight. But for me tonight, Jordin gets the best performance of the evening.

So, let's try out this Technorati thing... do I need to do anything else to get my blog to show up?

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Would you like some K-Y with those concert tickets?

Yesterday I did something I never thought I'd do. I paid $300 for a pair of concert tickets.


Not ony that, but they're not even floor seats. Double ouch. Floor seats were $230 EACH (plus service fees, of course) and I wasn't gonna go that high. But I figured if 400-level seats were $80+, I might as well cough up the $130+ for 200-level tix.

$300. That's more than a week of day care! For one 3-hour (if we're lucky) concert.

So whom did I deem worthy of this ridiculous amount? No, not the Police... although they're in the same league. Genesis.

Yes, after 15 years, Phil Colins, Tony Banks, and Mike Rutherford have reunited for another tour. Has it really been that long? I guess it has. I actually saw the guys on their last US tour, at Veteran's Stadium in Philadelphia, on (according to this website) June 1, 1992. I believe I was somewhere around the 24th row for that show. And let me tell you, it was AMAZING. In fact I told someone after the Trans-Siberian Orchestra show this December that the Genesis concert was the only show I had ever seen with a better light show.

But I still have a hard time swallowing the $130 ticket price, even if this is most likely the last time Genesis will tour. I wouldn't pay that much to go see Billy Joel or even U2 for that matter.... well, I might have to reconsider that the next time U2 goes on tour, because that is now the only group in my top 5 that I've never seen in concert. (The other four are Billy Joel, Genesis, Dave Matthews Band, and Rush.) But Jen has never seen Genesis in concert, and when I found out they were touring again she said she definitely wanted to go. She was even the one who said to go with the $130 tix... I would've settled for the $80 ones.

Anyway, this is shaping up to be a very expensive concert season. In addition to Genesis in September, we're also going to see Blue Man Group in April and Phantom of the Opera at the Kennedy Center in August. Plus I'd kind of like to go see The Police if I can. I was never a huge fan, but hell, at least that show's only $95 for middle-tier seats!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

It's time for the Idol top 12!

It's finally here -- American Idol's top 12! As always, there are a few disappointments, namely Sanjaya and Haley who stole spots from far more deserving people. But hey, every season has to have its "Chicken Little" on tour, right? Besides, it's not like Sundance or Sabrina had a chance of winning it all.

Tonight's Diana Ross night. I wonder how the guys will fare, especially considering how rough they've been so far.

Brandon Rogers - Once again, Brandon picks a song that showcases his "pretty boy" voice, but no "wow" factor. I was going to say it was a very "safe" pick before that terrible crack... and then he FORGETS THE WORDS TOO! It's happened before to people, but Brandon's already on the bubble. He might survive this week, but don't expect him to stay around long. Then again, the first spot of the night is always a bad one for the forgettable performers.

Melinda Doolittle - She starts off a bit safe, but Melinda's powerful, star-quality voice shines no matter what she sings. She is miles apart from everyone else in the competition -- I don't know if there's anything she can do to NOT win this show.

Chris Sligh - I don't care for this arrangement at all, but the song really showcases his voice in a way we haven't seen before. He's a much better singer than I realized! Not at all what I would have expected from him, but it's very good. The judges all hammered him for the arrangement, which I agree with, but I still think the performance itself was worthy of some praise!

Gina Glocksen - I guess we won't hold it against Diana Ross for making up words. (OK, so technically "pronunciate" is a word, but I do not think it means what she thinks it means.) Gina picks a great song with Love Child and gives it her own edgy sound.... and does a fairly good job of enunciating too. I think she was better than the judges felt. Maybe the sound system in the theater is off tonight -- they're obviously having some problems with mics after each song, so I wouldn't be surprised.

Sanjaya Malakar - Diana says people care about Sanjaya... is that why he's still around? Oh my god, he looks like a cross between Diana Ross and Justin Guarini!! And he is just as awful as in previous weeks... although he does seem to have more confidence this week. LOL... Randy's a riot -- "hair idol". And did Simon just call Diana Ross a whale? No, that's "wail", as in "shriek in horror".

Haley Scarnato - Haley basically butchers "Missing You", even having problems with the words -- plus she's wearing the most hideous dress I've ever seen! At least she KNOWS that she was awful, unlike Sanjaya.

Phil Stacey - His practice tape looked pretty good... let's see what he's got when he gets on stage. It starts very boring, but in the chorus his voice gets a chance to shine, plus a nice little vocal inflection thrown in for good measure. If only he didn't look so damn goofy. I suspect once Sanjaya and Haley are finally gone, Phil will get VoteForTheWorst's support just based on his look!

LaKisha Jones - She certainly performs the song well, but I'm not blown away. Personally I don't see what people have been raving about with her -- she's good, but she's no Melinda. She's my pick for the surprise early exit, like around the final 6 or 5.

Blake Lewis - I'm already impressed by the fact that Blake tweaked the arrangement himself. I like the footwork too, and he has so much confidence on stage. It's not nearly his best vocal performance -- in fact it kinda reminded me of a high school talent show performance. He changed it up, but it almost made it cheesy rather than "new". Maybe if he had thrown some beat-boxing in... But he'll still be still safe for a few more weeks.

Stephanie Edwards - She's got some pitch problems tonight, and there's nothing in the song to really wow me. She was at the bottom in last week's DialIdol predictions, so I wouldn't be surprised to see her in the bottom two or three this week.

Chris Richardson - I love Chris's voice when he's taking on the alternative hip-hop style songs, but I'm not sure it works with Diana Ross. He still gives a good, solid performance... actually, I really like some of the vocal runs he threw in, although he could drop the falsetto stingers. He's still my favorite guy.

Jordin Sparks - She gives a good performance but sounds nervous from start to finish, and her last note is pretty flat. I have no idea what Randy was listening to because I didn't think that was anywhere near as good as Melinda or LaKisha, or even Chris R. How weird.

So, who goes home this week? Obviously it SHOULD be Sanjaya or Haley, but Brandon and Stephanie are also in danger. Being first up and forgetting the words could really hurt Brandon, and DialIdol currently has him last, but those predictions seem to change pretty dramatically when the west coast votes start coming in.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Idol girls final night - 8 become 6

Well, here we are -- the last girls-only show! It is a shame they continue to split the contestants 50/50 because it's clear this year that the girls are better than the guys. Anyway, let's see what the girls have this week.

Jordin Sparks - There were quite a few pitch problems, although she finished strong. I don't think it was as good as Randy and Paula thought, though. She has a lot of growing to do to win the competition, but she could probably make the top 12.

Sabrina Sloan - Sabrina has impressed me every week. Tonight's performance doesn't have the same energy and a few pitch problems here and there, but still an excellent performance overall.

Antonella Barba - For the first time since Hollywood, Antonella actually isn't half bad! Of course she's still awful compared to some of the others. But she's HOTTTT, so that could carry her far. And of course there's VoteForTheWorst.com, which is still supporting her. Unfortunately that means she'll make the final 12 and another deserving girl won't.

Haley Scarnato - Once again, she's just ok this week. She's good, but there's nothing really special about it. Randy puts it into "dog-eeze" by saying there's no "yo" in it. I agree with Simon too -- she hasn't made a big enough impression. She's one who is certainly in danger of going home.

Stephanie Edwards - She has impressed me every week too, and this week is no different -- another very strong performance. Not note-perfect, but very good.

LaKisha Jones - I haven't gone crazy for her the way the judges have the last few weeks, although she's certainly worthy of the top 6. Tonight she takes on Whitney Houston and actually does a darn good job! Probably the best performance so far tonight. Now somebody put some sleeves on that woman!

Gina Glocksen - I'm glad to see Gina take on something a bit edgier this week with Evenescence. She hasn't had the greatest performances, but it certainly locks her in for the rocker vote, so I think she'll be safe again this week. She had a few pitch problems right at the end, but overall it was a really good performance.

Melinda Doolittle - Last up is the powerhouse of the group, and she comes out swinging tonight! She's in it to win it, and unless something really strange happens this season, there's no doubt she'll be in this year's finale. She brought down the house tonight!

So who's going home from the girls? This one's REALLY tough... Antonella and Haley are certainly most deserving to go, but Antonella may be saved by the VFTW vote. I think it will be Haley and Jordin to go this week, although Gina and Sabrina could also be in danger. I guess we'll find out tomorrow night!


Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Idol top 8 guys

Well, here we are, the last week before the guys and girls start performing together. Tonight we see the top 8 guys and get rid of two more -- HOPEFULLY the worst two, although anything can happen. Here's how tonight's performances went down.

Blake Lewis - Blake sings 311's "All Mixed Up". I love 311, and I can't believe these three supposed pop mouguls don't know the song! It's the perfect song for him, and he is excellent again this week. He is one of my two favorite guys.

Sanjaya Malakar - Singing John Mayer, "Waiting on the world to change". John Mayer is one of my favorite artists, which is why it's even harder for me to listen to him butcher it. The pitch is all over the place, and the hair tonight is AWFUL! I agree with Randy that it's a little better than last week, but he's still terrible. It's too bad that VoteForTheWorst.com is gonna jump behind him... so PLEASE, PEOPLE, DOWNLOAD THE DIALIDOL.COM DIALER AND VOTE FOR THE SINGERS WITH TALENT!

Sundance Head - Singing "Jeremy" by Pearl Jam. Wow, from bad to worse! You can hear better renditions of this song in any bar on any Saturday night. Randy and Paula must be completely deaf because that was awful.

Chris Richardson - Tonight we see the softer side of Chris. He's my favorite guy right now, but this performance really concerns me. He's solid and on pitch, but he's also forgettable. I'm also disappointed to see him stray from the alternative hip-hop he's been choosing the last few weeks, although Randy seems to like the fact that he's changing things up. I sure hope he stays around.

Jared Cotter - I really liked him last week, and he picks another good R&B song this week, this time from Stevie Wonder. You can tell he's right at the top of his range, but he gives a solid performance. He could go home just based on the goofy looks, but I think he'll make the top 6.

Brandon Rogers - Brandon gives another good, solid performance, but nothing particularly special. He's certainly far better than Sundance or Sanjaya, but who knows what will happen this week. I agree with Simon -- he could be in trouble.

Phil Stacey - Phil goes soft this week too, and YIKES! He was one of the better guys, but this song starts off very pitchy and weak. It gets a little better as it goes on, but not much. But I think he has enough fans that he may survive.

Chris Sligh - Chris comes back strong this week, getting back to his blues-rock roots. An excellent performance overall! I'm really not sure what Paula was listening to this week. I thought he was one of the best two or three this week.

So who's going home? Well the two who most clearly deserve to go home are Sanjaya and Sundance. However, with VFTW.com and the rest of those a$$holes who insist on voting the worst ones through just for comedy value, who knows what will happen. I suspect one of the two will go home. After that, Phil, Jared, Brandon, or even Chris Richardson could be in trouble.


Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Idol top 10 girls

It's Wednesday, that means it's time for more Idol! Tonight it's the top 10 girls. I only got to see the first six last week, and it looks like they're going in reverse order this week, so the first five will be new for me. Let's see what they got!

Gina Glocksen - I heard some good things about her performance last week. She's got a strong voice, although the dress just doesn't fit her persona. I like her, but I'm not convinced that she'll make the top 6. OK, I agree with Simon's fashion advice -- that's scary!

Alaina Alexander - Meh. Totally ordinary and a lot of pitch problems. But she's hot, so who knows!

LaKisha Jones - I can't hear "Midnight Train to Georgia" on Idol without thinking of Paris Bennett... and she's not even half the singer Paris was. It was good, but certainly not spectacular.

Melinda Doolittle - I liked her from the audition rounds... let's see what she's got tonight. Wow, "My Funny Valentine"... the song makes her sound very mature. It started somewhat boring, but I think she's good enough that it doesn't matter. She just has an amazing voice! I really wish I had seen her performance last week. I'm not gushing like Simon, but she is REALLY good.

Antonella Barba - She was just awful last week, but of course picked up the support of VFTW. And she's almost as bad this week... pitch all over the place. She actually hit the high notes surprisingly well. I agree with Randy... as soon as they said she was doing Celine, I knew she was in trouble.

Jordin Sparks - I guess they're not going in exactly reverse order from last week... I wonder why. Once again she's very good, but I think she's oversinging this song just a bit... too many runs. Just sing the melody and let your voice shine!

Stephanie Edwards - Great performance. She has such a strong voice and she's such a natural on stage. A little trouble on one note there, which is a bit surprising... probably just got emotional. She's certainly one of the top three or four girls.

Leslie Hunt - This song starts a little low for her, but she does have a good, sultry voice. There wasn't really much to that song to really show off her talent, but it was enjoyable.

Haley Scarnato - Didn't see her last week either... how'd she get to sing so late tonight? Whitney Houston is WAY too big for her. It was bad karoke to me. If she was "so much better" this week, she must have been awful last week! She should be going home this week.

Sabrina Sloan - Another great, powerful performance... now if she could just stop sucking on the freakin mic! Definitely one of the three best ladies.

So, there you have it! I actually think the girls were somewhat ordinary this week, as compared to the guys who were ten times better than week one. My top four would be Melinda, Sabrina, Stephanie, and Jordin. Going home? Two of these three: Haley, Alaina, and Antonella, with Gina possibly at risk too.

A quick check of DialIdol.com puts Leslie at the bottom and (ugh) Antonella in the top 4 vote-getters! Let's hope that changes as the night goes on!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Idol top 10 guys

Well it's Idol night again, and I still haven't had time to watch the second half of the first girls' show! In fact I haven't even watched the results show! Hopefully I'll get to watch them at some point, but for now it's time to continue with tonight's performances and my real-time recap.

Phil Stacey - Singing "Missing You" by John Waite. Great song, and he makes it sound more like a Police song than the original. (Of course the guitar riff sounds just like "Every Breath You Take" too.) That was a very strong performance and he's got a good, unique voice. Paula likes his tone and so do I.

Jared Cotter - Singing "Let's Get It On" by Marvin Gaye. This is a BIG song to take on, but I think he does a respectable job. His tone and his ad-lib riffs remind me a lot of Daryl Hall.

A.J. Tabaldo - Sorry, don't know this song. It started a little boring (although I love the orchestration), but he really turned it on when the tempo picked up. Great tone, great pitch, and I like the falsetto too. He reminds me a bit of Boyz II Men. I don't really remember him from last week, though, so he could still be in danger.

Sanjaya Malakar - He's still around?!?! Wow, I knew Sundance was saved by VoteForTheWorst, but how the hell did Sanjaya survive? (I heard Paul Kim went home but I never did hear the other guy to get the boot!) This song fits his voice well, but we know crooners don't do well on Idol. And the getup is horrible! He sounds weak -- almost timid. Sorry, he's a nice guy but he needs to go home.

OK, I had to go to americanidol.com to see which other guy went home last week. Rudy Cardenas, huh? That's too bad -- he had a decent voice and was certainly better than Sanjaya and Sundance. But it's no huge loss. I didn't think he'd be in the top 6.

Chris Sligh - Don't know this song either. It's a solid performance, but not stellar. I was actually expecting more from him. Hm... the judges actually liked him more than I did. Maybe I missed something.

Nick Pedro - He's got a good, almost "old soul" voice, but he doesn't make this song very memorable. I hope he sticks around, but I'm worried about him too.

Blake Lewis - Will we see any beat-boxing tonight? Great song! He had a few pitch problems here and there, but it's a good performance, and the beat-box skatting is great. Nice falsetto too! Like Taylor's harmonica, Blake could have the "hook" that takes him far into the finals.

Brandon Rogers - Hm... never been a big fan of "Time After Time". No real problems, but a very safe, boring, ordinary performance -- which is basically what Randy said too. He should probably go home this week, after two dull performances in a row.

Chris Richardson - I don't know this song either (not my genre), but I like the performance. Once again, he really reminds me of Maroon 5. (I should have guessed it's a Jason Mraz song.)
I REALLY like his voice tonight. I agree with Randy... he could be the guy to beat.

Sundance Head - Let's see if he can redeem himself from last week. Mustang Sally is one of those songs that just about anyone can sing fairly well, but it does suit his voice well. Boy, I was thinking it was a fairly ordinary performance until he hit that screamer of a note! What a turn-around. But is one good week enough to get him into the top 6?

So, my picks for this week... well, Sanjaya will probably get the support of VFTW, but will it be enough to save him? I sure hope not! My picks for the bottom three would be Sanjaya, Brandon, and Nick. My favorites tonight were Chris R. and Blake, and rounding out my top 6 would be Phil, Chris S., Sundance (based on tonight alone), and either Jared or A.J.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Lauren tells her first joke!

Tonight at dinner, I heard Lauren mumble to herself, "Knock knock. Who's there? Ach." It took me a second to realize what she had just said! I'm sure she doesn't really realize what she said, but it was quite remarkable to Jen and I, and by the end of the night I could get her to say the whole joke, properly alternating lines with me. :) Knock knock. Who's there? Ach. Ach who? Bless you daddy!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Latest udates on Little Miss

OK, I guess I should take a minute to update everyone on what's new with Lauren these days! (Oh and btw, I'm giving up on the whole anonymity thing...) L.M. turned two last month and is growing up faster than I can believe. It seems like she changes so much in just a week!

So anyway, Jan. 22nd was Lauren's 2nd birthday. Jen's parents came down to celebrate but unfortunately my parents were in Florida. Jen's aunt was also supposed to fly up for the weekend from Atlanta but totalled her car Friday morning when a woman lost control of her car and came across the median on the interstate. Luckily Jen's aunt wasn't seriously hurt, just bruised and very sore, but she wasn't able to make the trip.

For Lauren's birthday, I baked a Blue's Clues cake with a pan I had gotten from Freecycle more than a year ago. I spent about THREE HOURS decorating it with hundreds of tiny stars. (I'll post pictures when I get a chance.) For my first attempt at cake decorating, it actually came out pretty good, but I seriously doubt I will ever attempt something like that again! If I do make that cake again, the colors will simply be filled in with a flat ribbon tip, not done with stars!

Anyway, after all that effort I was a bit disappointed by the response I got from Lauren. Maybe the candles scared her. And even though she knew it was Blue, she didn't seem to excited or make a big deal out of it. But her excitement actually grew over the next few days, as "birthday cake" quickly became her favorite word! Like father like daughter!

Little Miss was lucky enough to get to celebrate her birthday a second time when my parents stopped in on their way back from Florida to Pennsylvania two weeks later. Of course we had to have more cake, knowing how much Lauren loved it, but this time I went the store-bought route. Once again she had a blast, and then proceeded to ask for "boiday cake!" every night for the next two weeks.

This week Lauren finally had her two-year checkup. She's 90-95th percentile for height, weight, and head size, which is what we expected considering she towers over everyone in the twos class at daycare and many of the three-year-olds too. Like I said, she seems to change every week. Here are a few of her favorite things.

Favorite foods: pizza, broccoli (seriously!), chocolate, lollipops, and of course birthday cake

Favorite expressions: "Perfect", "Dat goes here", "Dat one", and "Oh no!" (complete with "Home Alone" face slap)

Favorite songs: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Baa Baa Black Sheep, and Mahna Mahna.

Favorite toys: stuffed animals, wooden puzzles, and her AquaDoodle.

Other items of note: she counts to 14 consistently, then typically jumping around from there.... 17 actually seems to be her favorite number to say. She always wants to put things back where they came from, whch is great when it's time to clean up the toys! And she's been sleeping in a toddler bed for the last few weeks now.

It's still amazing that we hardly ever have to fight with her to get her to go to bed. But it is clear that she's two -- she wants to do more and more things herself (like get dressed), and she'll throw tantrums if she doesn't get her way, or even for what seems like no particular reason at all. But all in all, I don't think I could ask for a better-behaved little girl!

Idol top 12 girls, part 1

OK, I realize people on the east coast already know which women (and guys) are going home this week, but I'm just getting around to watching last night's ladies' performances. Actually, I got to see a few of them last night and was very impressed with what I heard, but now I get a chance to really watch and listen.... and of course blog.

By the way, I found out my wife's cousin knows Antonella and worked with her best friend who auditioned with her in New York. (They both made it to the Hollywood round.) Antonella also goes to Catholic U in DC, so she's being treated like the "hometown favorite" around here, with lots of hype on the Fox evening news.

Anyway, on to last night's performance show and my reviews:

Stephanie Edwards - I'm really impressed with her. She actually reminds me quite a bit of Tamyra Gray, both in her vocals and her looks. She's a total natural on stage, and far better than any of the guys from last night. And of course the judges have nothing but good things to say about her too.

Amy Krebs - So far she's just been "meh". At least she looks a lot better tonight than in her audition clips, but the song's just ok -- ordinary and a little pitchy. The judges all said basically the same thing.

Leslie Hunt - From the audition clips, I really don't like her voice at all, but she did pick a song that works for her tone. And dude, she looks and even sounds a bit like Harriet Hayes (Sarah Paulson) from Studio 60! It was actually better than I expected... I actually think she was better than Randy and Simon gave her credit for. I don't know if she was "great", but she was pretty good.

Sabrina Sloan - Wow, this girl has got a powerful voice! She said she needed the perfect song, and I think she picked it. My only complaint is that she sings right on top of the mic so we can't see her mouth at all. But that was a fantastic performance! I'd love to say she's the one to beat, but it's really too early to tell.

Antonella Barber - I heard some of her performance last night, and to be honest, I'm not sure I can stand to sit through it again tonight! She was off-key from start to finish. She's got a very pretty voice, but she just butchered that song. It's no surprise that VoteForTheWorst.com is behind her.

Jordin Sparks - She's got quite a voice for a 17-year-old! I think she picked a great song to suit her voice, and it's more sultry than "sugary". And when she took it up in her register, WOW -- goosebumps. I like her a lot. I think Randy's right -- she can handle just about any song out there. That could be a real help for her in future rounds. She'll certainly be in the top 6.

Well that's the first six, and even though the results are already announced, I guess I should stop here and head to bed. More tomorrow!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Idol top 12 guys, part 2

OK, time to finish up last night's Idol while tonight's Idol records... then of course watch my other favorite show, Lost!

I did get to watch some of the ladies' show tonight, and a bunch of them really blew me away! But I'll re-watch the show tomorrow and write more then. On to the rest of the guys...

Blake Lewis - Wow, the beat boxer can actually sing! He's got a good voice, although a bit pitchy in spots. But the whole beat-boxing thing means that people will actually remember him, so I think he'll probably stick around for a while. Actually, I think he was probably the best so far... although that's not saying much after the first six. Hey, Simon just said the same thing! I hate when he steals my lines.

Sanjaya Malakar - I've heard bad things about his performance, which is too bad because I liked him from his audition. So let's see what he's got. Hm... very meek, very boring, and a bit pitchy in spots. LOL.... "I don't want to bore you," he sings... but he sure is! And once again, Simon's repeating me. :)

Chris Sligh - I loved this guy from auditions -- his voice, his personality, and his hair! Of course I always get chills any time I hear Kiss From A Rose. I don't know this song, but I like the performance, and he's very unique. I actually like him quite a bit, even if he did rush the tempo a bit.

Jared Cotter - Just another good but ordinary performance. He's certainly not the worst, but I just didn't really see anything special.

AJ Tabaldo- This is actually a good, energetic, and on-pitch performance, but I'm still not blown away.

Phil Stacey - I really liked him from the audition rounds -- he reminds me a little bit of Chris Daughtry, and he might be the the closest thing to a rocker we have this year. Of course you sure wouldn't know it from this song choice! Still a good solid performance. We'll see him in the top 6.

So who's going home from the guys? Well, Sundance should be one of them, but I hear that VoteForTheWorst.com is putting their support behind him, so it'll probably be Pedro and Sanjaya.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

It's American Idol time!

Hey everyone, I'm back! Yes, I know it's been ages since I've blogged, but American Idol is finally getting serious, so it's time to get back to blogging. I'm on the good 'ol DVR 2-hour-delay, so I guess I won't get to finish the show tonight, but I'll start now and finish up tomorrow.

Tonight the top 12 guys perform as we start whittling them down to just six. Here are my thoughts as the guys perform.... but before I do, how about the diversity of this year's group? We've got one hispanic, one asian, one indian, two African-Americans, and one who looks to be Hawaiian or a Pacific islander? Quite a cross-section of Americana.

Rudy Cardenas - This guy's got a nice voice and good sense of pitch, but there's really not anything special about him. I mean he's really good, but I worked with singers just as good at Kings Dominion. Simon and Randy basically said the same thing. There's nothing that really stands out about him. I suspect he'll stick around for a while, but I doubt he'll be in the top 6 guys.

Brandon Rogers - Like Rudy, I think he's got a good voice, but I don't see anything unique about him. Actually, I thought the performance was pretty boring.

Sundance Head - I've never really been a fan of Sundance, so I'll be interested to see how he does tonight. "Knights in White Satin"... very interesting song choice. He's very pitchy and really doesn't have the power to pull the song off. He could go home this week.

Paul Kim - I've been impressed with him so far this season, but this is just a strange song choice and way too low for him. It almost sounds like the mic is muffled. He's much better in the upper register, but that falsetto was just awful. I would like to see him again, though.

Chris Richardson - Wow, the Timberlake look-alike decides to break out the alternative rock. It wasn't great for me, but it kinda put him closer to someone like Maroon 5 than Justin or Nick Lachey. I agree with Randy... I really liked the energy. But I also agree with Simon -- the vocals sounded a bit thin.

Nick Pedro - I like Nick, but I'm not so sure about this song. He's got a rougher voice than most of the other singers, which is what makes him unique, but it's not really suited for ballads. He also started out very pitchy. I agree more with Randy and Paula than with Simon (for a change).

Well, that's the first six, and it's after 11:30 local time, so this is probably a good place to call it quits for the night and pick up again tomorrow.