Happiness, where art thou?

Wokini: A Lakota Journey to Happiness and Self-UnderstandingWokini: A Lakota Journey to Happiness and Self-Understanding by Billy Mills
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is an inspiring book about a young Native American boy from the Lakota tribe who goes on a quest to figure out how to be happy after the death of his sister. It was a quick read and I enjoyed it. It definitely got me thinking about various aspects of my own happiness.

I can't remember how I came across this book in the first place, but it sounded interesting and was.  Billy Mills is from the Lakota tribe and won an Olympic gold metal at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics for the 10,000-meter run.

This book is the 22nd book I read this year, which means I met my goal.  It was close, which was why I chose a quick read for the last two days of the year.  Next year I'll challenge myself to read 24 books.  We'll see how it goes.

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What's this? 3 posts in one day??

Carry the OneCarry the One by Carol Anshaw

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I think this book had an interesting premise, and it was very well-written, but it ultimately left me flat.

***Warning that this might contain some spoilers.  I'm not recommending this book to anyone, but if you still want to read it, a couple of plot points are mentioned.***

The three main characters in this story are siblings Carmen, Alice and Nick. Some of their friends and lovers make up the minor characters. After Carmen's wedding, most of these characters jump into a car being driven by Nick's girlfriend, Olivia. Both Nick and Olivia are high, and they end up hitting and killing a young girl.

The story then follows these folks over the next 25 years or so. (The author does the time transition in an interesting way. You read several paragraphs into a chapter, and realize by various references that several years have gone by. I found that strange at first, but got used to it.)

Valerie and mopeds don't mix

Deb gave this to me for Christmas--I love it!
So, as I mentioned in my previous post, I had an incident with a moped while on vacation over the week of Thanksgiving.

My family (20 of us) went on a cruise to the eastern Caribbean:  Nassau, The Bahamas; St. Thomas; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and Grand Turk.

We left out of Miami on Sunday, November 18th,  and arrived in Nassau on Monday.  My sister and I originally planned to just walk around the town a bit, but when we got off the ship, we saw a stand to rent mopeds.  We should have stuck with our original plan, but instead, we each did a test ride on a moped in a little alley way and then we were on our way to a beach the moped guy recommended.  After maybe 10 minutes, traffic was rushing by me, and I got nervous and tried to stay to the left as much as possible (they drive on the opposite of the road in Nassau), and then I crashed.  I think I just got too close the curb, but don't really know or remember exactly what happened.

Getting back to the movies

It's Oscar season and I'd been wanting to go to the movies since after Thanksgiving. But, due to an injury I sustained while riding a moped in the Bahamas (more on that in another post later), I couldn't sit with a bent leg for two hours at a time. Then, when my leg was feeling better, I caught a nasty cold with a bad cough. I hate being in a theater with a cough. I annoy myself, so I know I'm annoying other people too. My sister (who also had a cold/cough since before Thanksgiving) told me about this strange concoction someone recommended to her of Bragg's organic apple cider vinegar, raw honey, and water, to knock out colds.  In this YouTube video the girl says to take it at the first signs of a cold, but I took it after a week, and well, after a day and a half, it worked*!  And, I was finally able to hit the movie theater.


How To Be Black by Baratunde Thurston

How to Be BlackHow to Be Black by Baratunde R. Thurston

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a great satirical look at race that I enjoyed and could completely relate to. The book is part memoir--Baratunde Thurston discusses his childhood--living in a rough DC neighborhood at the height of the crack-cocaine epidemic, yet attending Sidwell Friends school and getting Chelsea Clinton to sign his yearbook. It's also part guidebook: he provides "guidance" on "How To Be the Black Friend," "How to Be the Black Employee," "How To Speak for All Black People," etc. I've been "the" black friend and "the" black employee, so these made me laugh. (He lets you know upfront that the book will not turn non-black people into black people. I think it's still worth them reading the book for funny insights into what black people go through.) The chapter on "How To Be the Next Black President" was a bit too long, but still amusing.

Baratunde also interviewed other comedians, bloggers, artists [4 (or was it 5?) black people and one white guy--the creator of the "Stuff White People Like" blog] for their take on race relations, so the book is also part social commentary.

I read the book on my Kindle, but from reading the reviews here, it sounds like I should check out the audio book as well, to actually hear the interviews. I definitely look forward to that.

Here's an interview with Baratunde so you can hear about the book in his own words:


I finally finished a book

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop TalkingQuiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I've been reading this for a long time, but it took me a while.  There's nothing wrong with the book--I've just been busy.  According to Myers Briggs testing, I'm as strong an introvert as you can possibly be. This book really appealed to me, and I enjoyed reading it. It was interesting to see research and explanations for the differences between introverts and extroverts, and I saw myself throughout the book. I really wish I could keep copies in my pocket to give to people when they ask, "Why are you so quiet?" or "Why aren't you saying anything?" Or to people who think I should change and be more outgoing. No I shouldn't. I'm fine the way I am. I do think it's a must read for everyone, not just introverts.

I didn't give more than three stars because of the huge focus on raising introverted children. Since I have no kids, that didn't do anything for me.

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Clearing out the Tivo

So, this week I've decided it's time to say goodbye to some TV shows.

First is Once Upon a Time.  I didn't LOVE it last season...I thought it was a clever idea and decided to try it again this season in case the story telling picked up any.  It didn't.

Next is Partners.  I watched the first 2-3 shows.  Terrible.  Terrible laugh track.  I wanted to like it so much because I love Michael Urie, but it's just bad.

I've also decided to drop Amazing Race.  The pairs this year are SOOOOO annoying.  There's no one to root for, and it's just no fun any more.

I just watched tonight's episode of How I Met Your Mother and it jumped so high over the shark tonight that I think it's still in space.  I might give it another week or two, but I'm not sure.  It's gone on WAY to long.

Major Crimes.  I decided to watch the first season after this show converted from The Closer, but it's just not the same without Brenda Lee Johnson.  

Oh, and mixed feelings about American Horror Story: Asylum.  It's just not as compelling as it was last year.  I think the alien thing has thrown it off.  I'll watch another couple weeks, then decide.

Grey's Anatomy - eh. We'll see what happens in the next few weeks.
Ahh...it feels good to clear some time in my schedule and off my Tivo. 

Still loving Homeland.  It's The. Best. Show. on TV right now.  I was getting a little bored with Boardwalk Empire until last night's show.  Treme is still great, as are Parenthood and The Good Wife.  I'm also liking Nashville, Go On, The Mindy Project, and The New Normal, and I'm so glad Happy Endings is back.  

Happy TV watching!


List time!

For some reason, any time I come across a "best of" or "favorites" list, I simply cannot resist taking that list and marking off whether I've read, seen, or done whatever is being listed.

Today I found this list of Book Riot Reader's Top 50 Favorite Novels.  I'm so happy that the book I voted for, To Kill a Mockingbird, made #1 on the list.

So, without further ado, here's the list, and I've bolded the books that I've read and made other little notes.

  1. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee (126 votes)
  2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  3. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  4. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling (just read the first one)
  5. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  6. The Lord of the Rings series by J.R.R. Tolkien (read about 1/2 of it, plan to finish some day)
  7. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  8. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  9. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  10. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  11. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  12. The Secret History by Donna Tartt
  13. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (it's on my bookshelf, but haven't read it yet.)
  14. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
  15. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  16. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
  17. The Stand by Stephen King
  18. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
  19. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (it's on my bookshelf, but haven't read it yet.)
  20. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
  21. Persuasion by Jane Austen (it's on my bookshelf, but haven't read it yet....clearly this is a problem I have)
  22. The PIcture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  23. The Brothers Karamozov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  24. The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon
  25. East of Eden by John Steinbeck
  26. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  27. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  28. American Gods by Neil Gaiman
  29. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (it's on my bookshelf, but haven't read it yet.)
  30. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (can't put this in bold in good faith...was assigned the book in junior high and didn't like it and never finished.
  31. 1984 by George Orwell
  32. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  33. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  34. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
  35. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  36. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  37. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams
  38. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  39. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  40. Ulysses by James Joyce
  41. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
  42. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  43. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
  44. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
  45. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
  46. Dune by Frank Herbert (read about 1/2 of it, plan to finish some day)
  47. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
  48. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (tried so hard with this one, but couldn't finish)
  49. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  50. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (13 votes)
So, I actually read 18 of them, and half of two, so that's really19 all together.  I should at least read the books I already own and push myself over 25.  Someday, someday....


I Want You to Shut the F#ck Up by D.L. Hughley

I Want You to Shut the F#ck Up: Genius Thoughts on Our Idiot AmericaI Want You to Shut the F#ck Up: Genius Thoughts on Our Idiot America by D.L. Hughley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I don't always care for D.L. Hughley's stand up comedy, but whenever I've seen him on Bill Maher talking politics and social issues, I always find myself nodding along. I had the same reaction to this book. I agree with him on a lot of things--politics, education, family, but not others: monogamy, guns, his views on women. He's kind of all over the place in this book topic wise, but I enjoyed it, and especially enjoyed getting the insight into his life (especially his childhood) and how he wound up where he is today, despite (or because) of his background. He ended with a nice tribute to Bernie Mac and I plan to see Kings of Comedy again soon.

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Too bad we can't stay baby.

I've watching last night's episode of ABC's new show 666 Park Avenue and every time the main character goes down to that basement, I want to scream at her...STOP GOING DOWN THERE.

This Eddie Murphy bit sums up my feelings about the show. (Sorry for the language.)

I don't think I'll keep watching 666 Park Avenue.  It just annoys me.  
Interestingly enough though, I can not wait for the new American Horror Story: Asylum that starts Wednesday.  I thought about Eddie Murphy when I was watching that show last season too, but for some reason, it kept me hooked.  I'm guessing it was just the audaciousness of the whole thing.

Ah, the memories

My mom sent me an email the other day that said:  
"Sunday Morning" did a story about the author of Winnie the Pooh.  All those pictures and songs reminded me of you singing:

Winnie AH Pooh, Winnie AH Pooh, funny little, fluffy, little buddy all stuffed with fluff, OH
            "                           "           willy, little silly old bear.

  I may not have all the words right, but you always cracked me up with this.  Do you remember?
 Ahhh...it made me smile so big.  I don't necessarily remember singing the song, but she's told me the story enough times that I feel like I remember.  What I DO remember is that I LOVED Winnie the Pooh (especially Tigger) and listening to "Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day on my handy dandy Show N' Tell.  Now, who remembers this thing??

Not only did I listen to and watch the various books on this thing, but it was also my record player for a long time.  I remember listening to the Grease, Saturday Night Fever, and Car Wash soundtracks on it, as well as my 45 records like Donna Summers' Heaven Knows which was always my favorite song of hers.

I'm so glad my mom sent me that note because all these memories came flooding back.  Man, those were the days.....  Geez...how old am I?  I sound like a crotchety old man!

Oh, and for good measure:

Gotta love that 70's 'stache.


Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

Beautiful RuinsBeautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was pretty much perfect.

In a nutshell, it's about Pasquale, a young man who is the proprietor of a small hotel in a tiny village on the coast of Italy. He has big dreams of building up his hotel in order to attract American tourists. Suddenly appears a beautiful American actress, Dee Moray, who had been working on the set of Cleopatra when she learns she has cancer. The story goes back and forth between Italy in 1962 to current-day Hollywood (where Pasquale is trying to find the actress he met so many years before) and even to World War II and the Wild West. There are a lot of characters and story lines surrounding Pasquale and Dee, including one about Richard Burton, but they all flow together so well, and when it's over, there are no loose ends. It's about love, romance, loneliness, family, the movie business, hope, dreams, fear, relationships, and so much more. I just loved it and realized as I neared the conclusion that I didn't want it to end. I look forward to reading it again, as well as other books by Jess Walter.

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TV's big night

The Emmys were on last night.  There was nothing too exciting, but I'm thrilled that Homeland won for Best Drama, Best Actor & Best Actress.  I think I mentioned in a blog a while back that I thought Claire Danes won that award with one scene in the 2nd to last episode of Homeland.  She is amazing in that role.  Game Change, the HBO movie about Sarah Palin, also won quite a few awards.  I was happy about that because my good friends were extras in the movie.  Clearly they added some oomph to the show to get it noticed at awards time.

So, a "friend" of mine on Facebook posed this question last night:  "Who's watching the Emmys."  Thinking there might be some fun conversation about the show, I responded that I was watching.  Here's what he said after a few responses, including mine, were posted: 
I "Don't Even Watch" prime-time t.v. mind fluff ( no insult meant ) - I am a learning nerd an watch Discovery, NatGeo, History, FoodNetwork etc... Yet, I figure this way I can learn what everyone is talking about an perhaps find a good prime time show. ;-)
He said no insult was meant, but yet, I sense an insult in there somewhere:  "I'm better than you because I only watch educational TV."


The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

The Fault in Our StarsThe Fault in Our Stars by John Green
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My friend Kerri left me a message recently that said:  
i have a GREAT one to recommend- and make sure to have a box of kleenex beside you. it's funny, heartbreaking and beautiful. "the fault in our stars" seriously, get it NOW and read it. best book i've read in years and years and years. one of my all time favs!!! i can't say enough kudos about it!
Well, I'm one who likes to follow directions so I downloaded it immediately. I'm SO glad she made the recommendation. She warned me to have a box of tissues, but also mentioned that it was funny and beautiful. She was completely right. The main character, Hazel, is 16-years-old and has stage IV cancer. She meets Augustus in a cancer support group and they develop a wonderful relationship. Hazel and Augustus are so special. They face the world with humor and wit, and it's easy to see why they'd fall for each other. I fell for both of them too.

When you hear that a book or movie or TV show is about cancer, it just sounds so depressing, but when it's done well, you get insight into what it's like to live with that terrible disease. This book reminded me a lot of "The Big C" on Showtime and the movie "50/50." You laugh through the tears.

I didn't even realize this was a young adult book until I saw it on the shelf at Barnes & Noble. It's a very mature, heartfelt story, and it's not at all treacly. I know I'll come back to it again. I definitely recommend this one. As Kerri said, get it NOW!

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Fall TV 2012

Time for my annual TV schedule.  A little late since some shows have already started.  Here's what I'm going to watch this year.  (For now anyway.)


Catching up on SYTYCD

I haven't been blogging SYTYCD this year because I haven't really been into the show like I have in previous seasons. I'm still watching, but I'm two weeks behind. A friend told me last night that next week is the finale, and I was like, what? Already?!

Right now I'm watching the show from two weeks ago (Aug. 29), and I when I see something like what I'm about to show you, I realize it's why I really do love this show, even if I've been a little lazy about it this year. Meet Cyrus. First of all, his easy-going personality and smile gets you past the holes in his ears. As you'll see in the little interview, he just seems like the sweetest guy in the world. And second of all, HOW IN THE WORLD does someone move like this? At about 1:30 into the video, he doesn't even look human anymore. It is truly amazing, and as Nigel said earlier during this episode, the show has never been about American's "Best" Dancer....instead, it's about America's "FAVORITE" Dancer, and I'd say Cyrus is right up there. Actually, at this point with 4 guys and 4 girls left (again, based on the 8/29 show), I like them all, but Cyrus is pretty special. He's never had any training and yet he hangs in there through all the different styles and he truly holds his own.

Okay, enough from me. Check out this solo performance:

And compare that to this:

What?! Wow.


On the iPod

I've been into Grace Potter & the Nocturnals lately. I downloaded their album of the same name several months ago though I can't remember why. I think I might've been reading something that said, "If you like so-and-so, you should check out Grace Potter." Or maybe it was a positive review in Entertainment Weekly...I honestly don't remember. Then, after I downloaded it, I never listened to it. (I've been on a Zumba music kick for months now.) Then, a couple weeks ago, I just put the iPod on shuffle, and Paris (Ooh La La) came on. I love that song and was thinking "Hey, when did I get that song?!" I then started listening to the rest of the album, and it's so great. It's rock & roll with a bluesy feel sometimes, and sometimes a country feel. I just love it. I see they have a new album out...I'm going to get a little more familiar with this one before I go seeking out another, but I know I'll get it eventually. Ladies and gentlemen, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals:



I just finished watching Casino with Robert DeNiro & Joe Pesci. (I was in the mood after having visited The Mob Museum in Las Vegas recently.)  When the movie ended, I started Googling to see what I could find about the real-life story the movie was based on.  I found myself on a Wikipedia page, that said this:

The film ranks fourth in the list of films that most frequently use the word "f#!$".

Sure enough, there's a list on Wikipedia of I don't know how many movies that most frequently used the f-word.  (Casino is actually now fifth in line...someone needs to fix the Wiki page.  Don't look at me...I don't want to be involved.)

I did notice the F-word a lot in Casino, but as I watched, I wasn't thinking, "Wow...they sure use that word a lot."  I think it's so overused in everyday language anymore that I don't really notice it.  Not to mention it's my word of choice when something has really pissed me off or I've been injured.

But then, I'm still not used to hearing the S-word on TV.  TNT & USA shows use it a LOT and it's still jarring every time I hear it.  Why would the S-word jar me, but not the F-word?  That's weird, right? 


Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone GirlGone Girl by Gillian Flynn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It's hard to review this book without giving anything away, so I'll just say it's about a married couple about to celebrate their 5th wedding anniversary when the wife suddenly disappears under a lot of suspicion. The husband, of course, is the main suspect. What follows is completely unpredictable and fun to read. I read part one over several days, but once I got to part two, I read the rest in one sitting. I love a good page-turner and this one fits the bill.

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A surprising turn of events on Project Runway

I'm in the middle of watching this week's Project Runway and find myself quite surprised, disappointed, pissed off, and charmed all at the same time. 

Up until this point, I've been pulling for Ven to win the whole thing.  He's calm, cool & collected, and his clothing is gorgeous.  My least favorite has been Gunnar...not necessarily because of his work, but because of his ENORMOUS ego, attitude, and general diva-ness.


I'm enjoying the Olympics, but man, I'm tired.

These late hours watching the Olympics is getting to me.  For almost two weeks, I've been up until at least 1:00am EDT, but usually it's closer to 1:30am.  On the night of the Curiosity landing on Mars, it was until after 2:00am.  On a school night?!  I'm supposed to be at work at 7am.  It's too much!  I'm enjoying the games, but am kind of looking forward to them ending so I can sleep.

Meanwhile, I just wanted to mention a couple of things....one is that I really enjoyed the pilot of Matthew Perry's new show, "Go On" that NBC aired last night.  I think it has a lot of promise. It was funny, but also touching.  I hope it does well.

The other is something I've been meaning to mention for a while.  It's about guilty pleasure music.  The nail salon I go to plays a sort of "Lite FM" Sirius/XM station.  Every time I'm in there, I want to burst out in song. I know I'm not the only one because I'll often hear other people humming along. The music always brings back memories and reminds me of my childhood.  The last time I was there, I wrote down the songs I heard:


A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz

A Fraction of the WholeA Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It took me a while to get through this book (my version is 561 pages), but it was worth every minute. The story is told by Jasper Dean who is trying to set the record straight about his father, Martin, who is hated by all of Australia, and his criminal uncle, Terry, whom all of Australia loves.

I said goodnight, closed the door, and left him...thinking of normal families who have normal problems like alcoholism and gambling and wife-beating and drug addiction. I envied them.

That pretty much sums up Jasper's views.

This book is very well written and a great read. One of the blurbs on the cover called it "Riotously funny!" I wouldn't take it that far, but I did laugh quite a few times. The story is witty and written with a lot of sarcasm and dry humor, which I love:

Let's not mince words: the interior of the Sydney casino looks as if Vegas had an illegitimate child with Liberace's underpants, and that child fell down a staircase and hit its head on the edge of a spade.

It's also thought-provoking...when Martin goes off on his manic philosophical tangents, I often found myself thinking, yeah, that's kind of true.

And finally, it's completely unpredictable. The story was all over the place and I had no idea where it was going, but it was a fun read, and I couldn't wait to find out.

Four stars instead of five, because from time to time, Martin's philosophical ramblings went on and on and on, so it dragged in parts, but that's it.

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The Song Is You by Arthur Phillips

The Song Is You: A NovelThe Song Is You: A Novel by Arthur Phillips

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I liked the idea of this book--that each song on the main character's iPod is a touchstone in his life.  I often think about which songs are touchstones in my own life.  But I really didn't care for how the author carried out the plot.  Julian was just creepy to me, and there's no way I could imagine someone like Cait being interested in him and going along with his stalker-ish ways.  I enjoyed the beginning of the book, about Julian's father and his link to Billie Holiday, and liked the brother character, but mostly I found the book tedious and annoying.  I saw someone mention in a review on Goodreads that the author seemed to spend a lot of time impressing himself.  I think that's exactly the problem.

I really should've known better--I attempted Prague a while back and couldn't get through it for the same reason.  The subject matter in The Song Is You seemed more interesting, but I was still ultimately disappointed.  I gave it two stars instead of one because I did find myself intrigued as to what happened, but that's about it.

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Round 2 at the Style Lounge

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, last Sunday I had an appointment with a stylist at the Style Lounge at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda, MD.  As a blogger who can help spread the word, I was treated to a session with the stylist and a $100 gift card to purchase something based on the stylists' recommendations.*

*Please note that although I did receive a gift card, my blog posts on this subject consist of my own thoughts and opinions.

When I got to the mall, I saw that the new Style Lounge is a scaled-down version of the huge "closet" they had during Stacy London's Style Tour.  (Which I understand she'll be doing again this fall.)  There was still a closet full of clothing and shoes, as well as some glass shelves with various accessories.  My stylist, Winnie, first told me a bit about the Style Lounge.  I think I mentioned in my previous blog that this was a permanent feature, but it actually is running through September 30 (although depending on how it's received, it could be there longer).  She explained how people can set appointments to meet with a stylist to figure out what styles work best for their age, shape, size, preferences.  If the schedule allows, the stylist will even go shopping with you.  And, Winnie stressed, this is all for FREE.  She said people think there's a catch, but there really isn't.  

After the introduction, Winnie led me to a 3-way mirror, and we discussed my body shape.  She told me I have an hourglass figure (I do?!), and she proceeded to make recommendations based on that.    She recommended clothing that accentuated my waist while camoflauging the areas I'd like to hide.  She mentioned wrap dresses, ruching, pencil skirts, and bottoms that came to my narrow points--either my knees or my ankles.  (As opposed to mid-calf like what I had on.)

Winnie pulled a few styles from the closet to demonstrate what I should be looking for.  For example:

Me and my stylist, Winnie.

After discussing a few more recommendations, she said, "Let's go shopping!"  (That was a surprise!  I was just expecting a consultation--I didn't know she'd actually be shopping with me.  This was because her schedule allowed her the time.  Have a stylist shop with you would depend on how many other appointments are scheduled when you're there.)

Honestly, I felt like I was on a mini-episode of What Not to Wear...it was kind of exciting.  We headed to Nordstrom where Winnie selected several things for me to try on.  I could see in the mirror why certain cuts worked, and while others didn't.  For example, I need pencil skirts and not A-line because I don't need the extra bulk at the bottom.  The biggest thrill for me is that Winnie brought in clothes that were a size smaller than I've been wearing, and they fit!  She even brought in some pants that were two sizes down and though they were the wrong material for me, I got into them!  That was pretty exciting. 

In the end, I purchased two tops and two pencil skirts.  I had to spend some of my own money (we were at Nordstrom, after all), but it was worth it.  I haven't worn a skirt in YEARS. (I work in a really casual office--I think that if I wear a skirt to work, my coworkers might pass out.)  Here's one of the outfits I bought:

It was a great day, and I really would like to have Winnie with me all the time.  I learned a lot during our little session.  I talked to my mom and sister and they're ready to make their own appointments.  I can't wait to hear about their results too.

After my appointment, I received an email with additional ideas for the types of clothes I should look for:

 Pretty cool.


Figuring out what to wear

I've always been a big fan of TLC's What Not To Wear, and have always thought it would be cool to go through that experience.  I wouldn't want to go through the embarrassment of having the ordeal seen on TV though.

Earlier this year, Stacy London went on tour promoting her new venture, "Style for Hire" which went live in April.  Stacy hand-selected and trained  personal stylists from across the country who are available to help people with their fashion.  Washington D.C. was a pilot area and last summer, my friend, Laura, hired Lisa, a stylist from Stacy's group (for an hourly rate set by Lisa). Laura opted for Lisa to help her streamline and "shop her closet."   Lisa helped Laura decide what to get rid of, what to keep, and what she needed to shop for.  Laura later set up a second appointment and this time Lisa pulled together outfits (about 30 all together), photographed them all, and then sent Laura a link to the photos with descriptions.  Each of the outfits also had notes like, "you can swap out these shoes for the black flats" or "you can also wear the red blazer with this." (Laura was impressed that Lisa pulled together something like 10 outfits in five minutes.) 

So, jump ahead to the spring and Laura told me and my sister that they were having a Stacy London "Style Tour" at Westfield Montgomery Mall.  The three of us went down to check it out.  In the center of the mall was the Style Lounge which consisted of a HUGE "closet" full of clothes and accessories from various stores throughout the mall, plus several make-up stations.  You could get a 15-minute makeup makeover, and/or a 15-minute session with a fashion stylist, where they would pick recommendations from the closet based on your particular goals, shape, size, and preferences--all for FREE.  We weren't expecting to be at the mall very long, so we just did the makeup.  It was cool, and we looked fabulous.  Later, my sister and I made appointments for the following weekend to meet with Lisa back at the mall to get some styling tips. 

This was the best part:  after some shopping and mulling around, the three of us sat down to have tea/coffee.  We were right behind where Stacy London was meeting with people.  (If you had $100 worth of receipts from the day, you got to meet with and have your photo taken with Stacy.)  As the event was ending, she exited the fashion area and was standing five feet in front of us.  Laura called out her name and said, "Stacy, Lisa is great!  And we love your work!"  Stacy turned around and waved and said, "Oh, that's so good to hear.  You three look good!"  And then off she went!

Made our day.

As it turns out, the Style Lounge is becoming a permanent fixture at Westfield Montgomery.   Once again, you'll be able meet with a stylist to get some free fashion tips.  They have a new feature now called "Ask a Stylist," where you can email a photo of an outfit you're considering buying and ask their opinion, and get an instant response.  The Style Lounge will
be open on Saturdays from 12pm – 5pm and Sundays from 12pm – 4pm. The "Ask A Stylist" service will be available during all mall hours (Monday-Saturday from 10am-9pm, Sunday from 11am-6pm).

When Debbie and I went back the following weekend to meet with Lisa, she asked us some basic questions about our goals (mine was for casual, but nice work wear--I can wear jeans to work; while my sister's was for work clothes that she can also carry over into the evening).  Lisa went through that enormous closet and picked out a few styles for each of us.  An assistant took notes and later sent us personalized emails that included the items Lisa had selected for us. Some of the items were out of my price range, but the point was seeing what style of clothing would work.  You can always find something similar in shape, size and color and at a cheaper price.   Here are the pieces Lisa pulled for me:

It's a very cool experience that I recommend to anyone.  This Style Lounge is opening in Bethesda, Maryland, and guess what?  I'm doing it again this Sunday.  Stay tuned!


Summer TV makes me feel fine...

....blowin' through the jasmine in my miiiiii-iiinddd....

Wait. What? Oh, I got distracted. That song popped into my head out of nowhere, and now as I think about it, what the hell is the "jasmine in my mind"? What does that even mean? I digress. I came online to talk about Summer TV. Just a few points:

  • I'm loving the new format for So You Think You Can Dance. It's only on once a week, and there will be two winners: a girl and a guy. I've always felt that's how they should do it, and now that they're at their 200th episode, they're finally doing it. I also like that they combined the announcement of the Top 20, and the introductory dances into one show. The show has become very efficient. Hopefully Nigel will apply some of the same methodology to Idol.
  • Dallas. OMG. I can't say I was a huge fan when this show was on before--I was too young to pay attention. My mom watched it though, so I was familiar with it. Well, after 3 episodes, I'm totally drawn in. At least once every show, I actually guffaw out loud at something J.R. does. It's hilarious.
  • True Blood. I'm anxious for Eric & Bill to get back to town--I don't like the separate story line they have going on, but I LOVE Chris Meloni on there. I've been a big fan of his since Oz.
  • Duets. I wasn't sure about this show at first, because the rules and show structure weren't really that clear, and I didn't know if they'd always be singing the stars' own songs (they only did that on the first show). There's some really good talent on the show. To wit:

  • Really looking forward to the new season of Louie, which starts Thursday. I love Louis C.K.
  • I watched the pilot episode of Newsroom and so far, so good.
  • Can't wait for The Closer. Political Animals looks good too.
Pretty good lineup this summer. I'm enjoying it and the jasmine in my mind is just fine.


I'm behind on watching So You Think You Can Dance, and am now watching Audition 2 from Los Angeles.  I don't have much to comment on during auditions, and prefer to get going once we know who's on the show, but this deserved some attention and praise.  I've never seen anything like it.
Beautiful. (Unfortunately, he dropped out during choreography, so we won't see him this season, but I'm glad we got to see this audition.)


The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and BusinessThe Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I admit that after seeing Charles Duhigg on The Daily Show, I knew I wanted to read this book in hopes that it would have the answer for how to finally break some of my bad habits. But, as the author tells you at the end of the book, "This book doesn't contain one prescription." He also read my mind and said, "most people, when they hear about this field of research want to know the secret formula for quickly changing any habit."

Okay, okay. So this book didn't provide the magic solution I was hoping for (changing habits takes quite a bit of work), but it did provide a lot of interesting information about how habits are formed, how companies and corporations use that knowledge to their advantage (Target knows WAY too much about its customers, and I'm paying cash from now on), how whole societies have habits of their own, and tips for looking at your bad habits and trying to break them down to create new habits.

It was an enjoyable read that I'll be thinking about for a while.

View all my reviews


Viggle, Viggle, Viggle, Viggle--Yeah!

A friend was in town recently, and she told me about an app called "Viggle."  Basically, you earn points and rewards for watching TV.   With all the TV I watch, why shouldn't I try to get some free Starbucks or iTunes cards for my efforts?

The app is simple to use.  You click "Check in" -- it records the sound from the TV and identifies what you're watching, and when the show is over (or you check in to something else), the points are credited to your account.  It works for shows that have been DVR'd and you essentially get 1 point for each minute watched.  Shows that are being specially advertised will add an extra bonus.  For example, tonight you can get an extra 300 points for checking in to the MTV Movie Awards (which I won't be doing), or 150 points for Drop Dead Diva, which I will be doing.  (I'm so glad that show is back!)  (Note:  the app is for iPhone, and I use this on my iPod touch.  It's my understanding that it's in beta for Android.)

So simple.  I'm watching TV anyway, so why the hell not?

The whole thing makes me wanna dance.


Idol finale, finally!

I didn't get a chance to post about last night's show.  If you want to know what happened, check out the recaps on wapo.com and ew.com.

As for tonight, the show opens with the 10 cast-offs--all in white-- performing Bruno Mars' "Runaway.'  It's a great and lively performance.  Poor Joshua lost his footing trying to get up from a split.  Almost landed on his face, but managed to maintain.  Oopsie daisy!  There were some dancers on stage who I think were from SYTYCD.  The cameras never got in close enough for me to see their faces, but I'm pretty sure I saw Ade and Brandon.

Now we've got an hour and 45 minutes to kill before we get the results.


A blogging trifecta! Idol elimination night

This is my 3rd post of the day.  That has to be a record.  Only 3 more episodes of Idol left.  Tonight we'll learn who the Top 2 are.  Since I often fast forward through the endless banter on the show, I missed Ryan's announcement last night that next week's shows will be Tuesday and Wednesday instead of Weds/Thurs.  This puts a cramp in my schedule because I have plans Tuesday, but I'll make it work.

On to tonight's proceedings.  Performing tonight are Adam Lambert (yay!) and Lisa Marie Presley (eh).  The kids do a group performance of The Beatles' "Got to Get You Into My Life," except they really do Earth, Wind & Fire's version of it with the huge blaring horn section.  They sound great tonight and do a good job with it.  They actually got PP to wear a white shirt.  Amazing.

Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James

Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades, #1)Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Okay, okay.  Yes, I jumped on the bandwagon and read this out of sheer curiosity.  Also, I was reminiscing with a friend of mine about how we used to swipe her mom's romance books when we were 11 or 12 years old and read all the sex scenes.  If we heard anyone coming, we'd hide the book under the mattress.  I told my friend that we should read this together, so it'd be like the good ole days.

The Grace of Silence by Michele Norris

The Grace of Silence: A Family MemoirThe Grace of Silence: A Family Memoir by Michele Norris
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book. As I read it, I couldn't help but see similarities in the story of Michele Norris' parents and my own grandparents. Her parents were the first black family to move into their neighborhood in Minnesota. Immediately houses went up for sale and "white flight" was on. Her parents were then determined to ensure that the white families who stayed in the neighborhood would not have any complaints about their Black neighbors. She says, "The Norris family led by example. Not only was the snow always shoveled; cars were sparkling clean, and children were well-mannered and well-dressed." Her parents dressed up when they ran errands, and at home, her father "let his flowers do the talking." He took great pride in his garden.


Who will make it to the finale??

Top 3 night on Idol.  I can see any of the three--Jessica, Phillip, or Joshua--winning the whole thing, and have no idea who will be the Top 2.  It all comes down to tonight.

They each will perform three songs...first will be songs chosen by the judges, next will be songs chosen by the contestants, and last will be songs chosen by Jimmy.

Josh is up first.  Randy picked Etta James' "I'd Rather Be Blind."  Perfect song choice for him.  He does a great job.  Another standing O from le judges.  Steven said "This is another Joshua moment."  Jen & Randy loved it too.  Funny enough, the first commercial after Josh's performance featured the same song.

The judges selected "My All" by Mariah Carey for Jessica's first song.  Ahh...from Mariah's Butterfly album.  That album got me through a bad breakup years ago.  I listened to it nonstop for at least a month.  ANYWAY....Jessica is shaky in the low register.  It's not a great performance.  My sister and were chatting on Facebook and she wrote, "are the judges setting her up to fail? i think it was a really hard song to sing. some parts it was really good and other parts a bit shaky. actually, now i realize why they chose that song....so randy could drop mariah's name. why yes, of course."  But then, Randy says it was absolutely beautiful.  Really, Randy??  Jen said she did it beautifully too.  What are they hearing that I'm not?  I can't wait to hear Jimmy's opinion on this tomorrow.  Steven called it "over the top."

For Phillip the judges select "Beggin'" by Madcon. ??  Who's Madcon?  I'm getting too old.  I really like the song, and PP does a good job, but not really different than anything else he's done.  He really did sound like Dave Matthews toward the end.  Judges loved it, but no standing O.  Judges loved it though.

For round two, the contestants chose the songs themselves.  But first, we get a little taste of Josh's visit home to Louisiana.  Cute.  He sold out the local arena for the first time ever.

For his second performance, Josh sings "Imagine" by John Lennon.  Aw...I get teary just hearing the title of the song.  That song & those lyrics just that effect.  He does a really nice job with it.  Beautiful.  Steven summed it up with "You are that good...Damn."  Jen said it was a pulled-back and controlled performance & "it's a beautiful, beautiful thing."   Josh says he picked it because of the message it delivers.  Randy said it's important that he carries that with him--truly connecting with the songs he sings.

Jessica goes home via helicopter to San Diego.  Great boo-yah moment for her--she said she was the dork and didn't have a lot of friends, and now there are thousands of people there to see her.

Jessica sings Aerosmith's "I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing."  She sounds fine, but I don't think it was the right song.  It needs the raspiness and grittiness of Steven's voice.  Elise could do this song.  Aww...Steven stood up for her.  He said, "You took a great song, and made it greater."  Judges loved it.

Phillip goes home to Georgia.  His dad seems so sweet, and it was nice to see PP get emotional for once when he sees his family and the crowds that came out to see him.

PP sings "Disease" by Matchbox 20.  It sounds just like everything else he does.  Not outstanding, but also not bad.  Just right.  Jen didn't feel like it was the "wow" performance.  I have to agree.

Now it's time for Jimmy's picks.

Jimmy chose "No More Drama" by Mary J. Blige for Joshua.  Jimmy selected it because Mary combines the things that Josh has--R&B and the magic of the bringing the church.  And her mentioned her performance of the song on the Grammys where she just brought the church at the end.   And Josh brought it too.  But I think he watched Mary's performance and copied it.  No matter--he still sounded great.  Judges loved it.

Now it's Jessica's last chance.  Jimmy chooses "I'll Be There" by the Jackson 5 for her.  Jimmy says he wanted something that appealed to the older audience but still show how young she is.  He looked at what Barry Gordy did with the Jackson 5--this song took them out of the teeny bopper and brought them to an older audience, but yet kept their youth.  This was her best performance tonight.  I just don't know if it's enough to get her to the final 2 based on her previous two performances.  Just like 90% of the performances tonight, Steven called it "over the top."  JLo liked it a lot.  Randy thought it was just okay, but it didn't have a "moment."

Jimmy's choice for PP is "We've Got Tonight" by Bob Seger.  Jimmy looked for a song that would appeal to guys and girls.  And it's got a great melody, so hopefully will stick to it.  I love this song.  PP seems nervous singing it.  He's seated on a stool and keeps rubbing his thigh.  Maybe he just doesn't know what to do with his hand.  There's a string section on stage with him which is nice.   Nice performance.  Randy said PP had a giant moment.  Randy declares he's in it to win it!  Steven said something that got bleeped.  I think he said that PP sang like he didn't give a shit.

Josh was my favorite tonight and I'm torn between PP and Jessica.  I have them as my top two on my pool, but I think Josh will (and should) knock one of them out.  I'm just not sure which, although I'm leaning toward the top two being Josh & PP.  Until tomorrow....


Idol results - from 4 to 3

Once again, I don't have time for full blog. This one is really short and sweet. As predicted, Hollie went home. And after this week's performances, that's how it should have been.

Sorry I don't have time for details!

Gotta run.

That amazing performance - best I've seen on any singing show, ever.

Here's Joshua Ledet's performance of It's a Man's Man's Man's World that I raved about last night. Amazing.

And the 2nd best performance of the night--Jessica Sanchez with "And I Am Telling You."


Top 4 perform on Idol

No time for a long recap tonight, but here's a brief rundown:

Hollie, Jessica, Phillip, and Joshua make up the Top 4.  Tonight they'll first do "California Dreaming" (songs from artists or bands from CA or about CA), then the songs they wish they'd written, or songs that inspire.

Round One - California Dreaming

Phillip is up first with CCR's (Creedence Clearwater Revival) "Have You Ever Seen the Rain."  Aw, this song that reminds me of my dad.  PP sounds good tonight...much better than last week.  I give it a B+.

Hollie does Journey's "Faithfully."  Nice job.  B+.  Randy said she did Steve Perry proud, and Randy would know since he used to play with Journey.  What?  He did?!  Why have I never heard that?  (Yes, I'm being sarcastic.)

Joshua sings "You Raise Me Up" by Josh Groban and dedicates it to his father.  A fantastic performance with a gospel flair.  Fantastic!  Grade:  A.

Jessica takes on Etta James' "Steal Away."  I think she took Steven's advice to sign the blues to heart.  Judges loved.  I give it a B+.


And the winner of The Voice is....

Well, we'll find out in about an hour.  In the meantime, we get a recap of last night's show.  It's been interesting reading about the controversy with Xtina and Adam today.  I saw a lot of people coming from the same place I was--wanting Xtina to LOSE.  Unfortnately, Chris is caught in the middle of that, but I also saw plenty of people that were voting for him.  We'll see how it all shakes out.

But first, some performances.  Jermaine Paul (Team Blake) is bringing back Jamar Rogers (CeeLo), Pip (Adam), and James Massone (CeeLo) to sing The Jackson Five's "I Want You Back."  James' voice is perfect for this song...he sounds like a 12-year-old Michael Jackson.  Cute performance...they sounded great together.

Flo Rida performs with Juliet Simms.  He starts with "Blow My Whistle,"  and then  Juliet comes out on "Wild One."  Fun.

Chris Mann (Team Xtina)  brings back Lindsey Pavao (Xtina) and Katrina Parker (Adam) to sing "Bitter Sweet Symphony" by The Verve.  Great job, but it was clear that Chris was the right person to be in the finale over Lindsey.

Hall & Oates perform "Rich Girl" with Chris Mann, Jermaine Paul, and Tony Lucca.  I'll definitely be listening to Hall & Oates tomorrow.  Love them!  Jermaine's a backup singer one more time. 

Oh geez.  I just realized the finale is 2 hours long.  Ugh.

Next performance is Naia Kete (Blake), Sera Hill (Xtina), Cheesa (CeeLo), and Kim Yarbrough (Adam) with Stevie Wonder's "Superstition."   They do a great job...Cheesa really stood out. 

Juliet is singing "With a Little Help from My Friends" with Jamar (back again), RaeLynn (Blake) and Erin Willett (Blake).  Hopefully this will be the last time I have to hear RaeLynn's voice.  Erin sounds great.

Lady Antebellum performs "Wanted You More."  By themselves...no accompaniment by contestants. 

Tony Lucca is singing "Go Your Own Way" by Fleetwood Mac with Jordis Unga (Blake).  He was going to perform it earlier in the season, but he said it was missing the female component.  Now he's happy to sing it with Jordis.  I love her.  I'd buy her music.  They sound great together.

Justin Bieber performs "Boyfriend."

And now, finally, we learn the results.  Carson first reveals the artist in 4th place.  Only a quarter of a prercentage point separates 4th from 3rd place. 

4th place is....Chris Mann  (Here comes Xtina to the stage in her little rhinestone booty shorts which are offensive to me and derogatory toward women.)

3rd place is....Tony Lucca  (wow...I'm kind of surprised.  I thought it would be Jermaine.)  How come Chris got to say a few words, but Tony didn't?!  I'm offended!

And...the winner is.....Jermaine Paul!!!!!!  WOW.....  I thought Juliet had it.   (4 percentage points separated 1st from 2nd place)

Awesome result--he was fantastic last night.  I think he's diverse and will do well. 

He sings us out with "I Believe I Can Fly."  He's almost too overcome to sing.  And he sings with his wife in his arms.  Aww....great stuff. 

And another season is done.  Thanks for reading. 


The Voice finals

It's time for The Voice finals.  Jermaine Paul (Team Blake), Tony Lucca (Team Adam), Chris Mann (Team Christina), and Juliet Simms (Team CeeLo), will be performing to win tonight. The coaches' work is done and tonight America will make the decision.

Each team will face off against each other, and later, each artist will join their contestant for  duet.

First up is Jermaine who sings the hell out of "I Believe I Can Fly" by R. Kelly.  Jermaine's in it to win it!  He even got a standing O from the judges.  They all loved it.  And he looked so handsome in his white tux jacket with the open bowtie.  Why is that look so sexy?  I love it.


Who are the final four?

Idol elimination night.  Cold Play & Carrie Underwood will perform.  I'm thinking Phillip might be in trouble this evening, but we shall see.

No group song, and Ryan jumps right to some results.  He calls up Joshua.  Jimmy says Joshua's performance will be hard to be.  "To Love Somebody" is the best performance on Idol this year, according to Jimmy.  He says that he deserves greatness and his production company will do everything they can "not to drop this ball."  Ryan tells us that Joshua is.........................................................safe.  (Yes, the dramatic pause was that long.)


America's Top 5 Perform

I wasn't going to blog about the show tonight because, 1) I'm sort of blogged out with 4 nights of posts every week about The Voice & Idol, and 2) I've got a friend visiting this weekend and need to finish cleaning the downstairs kitchen & bathroom.  But, how can I resist a post when I see that Silvio from The Sopranos is mentoring this week?  Yes, it's Little Steven Van Zandt, all in purple.  He and Jimmy apparently go way back and are great friends.  Jimmy says Steven is the friend that tells him he's wrong the most.

The kids tonight are singing 60's tunes, and then Brit Pop.  Seems like they could have covered those two themes in one pop, but no, they'll each sing twice, plus two group performances.

No time for a full rundown of the show, but here's who sang what:


The Voice eliminations - down to the final 4

Tonight we learn the finalists for this season of The Voice.

As a reminder, America's votes combined with the judges scores will determine who moves on to the finals.

Last years' finalist Dia Frampton performs, "Don't Kick the Chair" with Kid Cudi, who looks like he could be part of the Wayans family.    Dia has the same type of voice that Mathai has, but in Dia it doesn't bother me, for some reason.  Maybe because she doesn't put on a fake accent.  Cute song.  In an interview with Christina Milan I can see she's come out of her shell a bit.

Time for the results for Team Christina.  She split her 100 points evenly between Chris Mann and Lindsey Pavao.  As I mentioned last night, I would have given the edge to Lindsey.  She punked out and left it to America.  After adding America's score (Chris, 54; Lindsey 46) Chris has 104 points, Lindsey has 96.  Chris moves on to the finals.


The Voice - Semifinals

The best news about tonight's show is that next week is the finals.  It seems like this season has lasted forever.

Tonight each coach is down to their final two singers.  All 8 contestants will sing.  The judges will give scores.  America will vote, and then the combo of scores plus votes will determine the finalists.  Something like that.

I wish both Juliet & Jamar from CeeLo's team could both go forward and that we could send home both of Christina's team members (Chris Mann and Lindsey Pavao).  At least, that's how I feel now before the show starts.  Maybe I'll feel differently when it's over.  (Incidentally, Christina is wearing a tiara tonight and lots of fake blonde curls.  Why?  I dunno.)

CeeLo has a picture of his cat on his shirt.  And he's still clearing his throat.  He really should get that checked out.

So, first up to sing is Tony Lucca from Adam's team.  


A realization

Last week I recorded Good Morning America, so I could see the cast reunions of In Living Color, One Day at a Time, and Laverne & Shirley.  After watching that show, I've come to realize that even though Ann Curry works my last nerve while on The Today Show, I'd much rather watch that than GMA. 

The folks on GMA just don't have the chemistry that the folks on Today do.  And despite Ann's constant flubs, and her talking to world dignitaries as if they were five years old, I still think she's a nice person, and enjoy her ribbing around with Matt and Al, and I love Natalie Morales and Savannah Guthrie. 

Other strikes against GMA:

  • They devoted at least 45 minutes every day to discuss Dancing with the Stars.  Really?!
  • They feature Nancy Grace.  Enough said.
Some pros of GMA are that they have Dan Abrams as their legal consultant (I miss him on NBC), and they put on a good summer concert in Central Park.  I'll have to see who's performing this summer because my sister and I might try to go to one of the concerts.

That's it though.

I'm back to The Today Show.  Good morning, Ann.


Girl Walks into a Bar by Rachel Dratch

Girl Walks into a Bar . . .: Comedy Calamities, Dating Disasters, and a Midlife MiracleGirl Walks into a Bar . . .: Comedy Calamities, Dating Disasters, and a Midlife Miracle by Rachel Dratch
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I liked this book a lot. It's Rachel Dratch's memoir that covers how she got into acting, her work at Saturday Night Live, the limited roles she got after SNL, and how she wound up with a baby when she least expected it.

I really related to Rachel, particularly as she describes her insecurities. She's self-deprecating and very funny. It's a quick fun read.

I especially loved her description of how this went down (one of my favorite SNL scenes ever):

View all my reviews


And then there were five...

It's Idol's elimination night, once again.  In reading recaps this morning, I learned that Ryan Seacrest was really sick yesterday and that Nigel Lithgoe almost hosted the show.  I guess Ryan rallied and he did the show.  But, he also touched or hugged almost everyone, so I hope everyone else stays healthy.

Tonight Ryan introduces a Queen cover band where all the members were hand picked by original band members Roger Taylor and Brian May.  They're the Queen Extravaganza and they perform "Somebody to Love."  They're great.  Brian May and Roger Taylor come out at the end. Great performance.

I skip through the Ford commercial and get to the results.  But first, we watch as the Idols went to TMZ for media training.  It's a stupid bit and I FF>> through that too.


Idol's Top 6 perform

Queen is performing tonight on Idol.   After original members Roger Taylor and Brian May chat with the cast, they all perform a medley of Queen's music:  "Fat Bottomed Girls," "Another One Bites the Dust," and "We Are the Champions," It was a lot of fun--everyone sounded great.

Jessica is singing "Bohemian Rhapsody."  The performance starts in black & white, and then she rocks it out in color.  She did a great job.  Steven said Freddie Mercury would be proud, although he'd never say rock is her forté.  Jen said the vocal was beautiful but during the rock portion she was looking for more animation on stage.  Randy really liked it and appreciated that she did no runs in that.  He suggested she watch Tina Turner since she was that rock-singing big voice in the female form.


The Voice Adam/CeeLo elimination

The night starts with all the contestants on stage.  Carson introduces the judges, reminisces about last night, and says that Florence & the Machine will perform later.

After clips from last night, F&tM perform.  CeeLo's team is on stage too, but it's barely noticeable.  I don't know why they bother with that.

So, I called in last night for Jamar, Katrina, Tony and Juliet.  Let's see if my votes worked.


The Voice quarter finals

Tonight Teams Adam and CeeLo will be performing.  One person will face immediate elimination tonight, and one more will be eliminated tomorrow.

Carson's trying to interview the judges but they're all laughing at an inside joke.  Rude!

I *think* I heard CeeLo say he has gas.  Must be true--Christina pulled out a fan.  Whatever.

Blake said people were pissed about RaeLynn's departure.  Not anyone I talked to.

Christina tried to give Adam & CeeLo some advice on making the decision for immedite elimination.  She said, "Go with your gut..." but then caught herself when she looked at CeeLo.  Okay, that was pretty funny--now he's got his hand on his stomach.  I'm glad I'm not sitting up there.  Anyway, she said to go with their gut and their heart in making the decision.


I recently saw Jon Stewart interview Jane Goodall on The Daily Show about the new Disney movie, Chiimpanzee.  The interview was fascinating, and even though she tells the whole premise of the movie, I still went to see it this afternoon.

It was wonderful.

The footage of this film is amazing.  A lot of it reminded me of the work done on Planet Earth, but there's also an incredible story that is told. A young chimp, Oscar, is orphaned, and the male leader of the chimpanzee family adopts him, which is something rarely seen in nature.  I think what fascinated me most is that Disney's intent was to film the upbringing of a young chimp.  They didn't and couldn't anticipate that this adoption story would take place. 

I recommend this movie for everyone.  I believe it's rated G, so kids can see it too.  Although Oscar is orphaned, the cameras don't graphically show what happened to his mom.  It's hinted at, and there are sounds, but nothing to see.

Be sure to stay through the credits where you get a glimpse into how the movie was shot.  

And finally, here's the interview that got me interested in the first place:

The Daily Show with Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Jane Goodall
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook


Look at Me by Jennifer Egan **SPOILERS**

Look at MeLook at Me by Jennifer Egan

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This story about identity started off very strongly.  The main character, Charlotte Swenson, a model, is in a terrible car accident.  80 titanium screws are needed to restructure her face, and once she heals, although she still has model looks (somehow), she is unrecognizable to people from her life in New York. 

The premise of Charlotte trying to find herself with this new face was interesting.  Other characters she comes across are also struggling with their own identities.  Charlotte had a high school friend named Ellen.  Ellen's daughter (also named Charlotte) is a 16-year-old girl struggling with her sexual self who winds up having an affair with a much older man.  Ellen's brother Moose is suffering from some sort of mental illness while living what seems to be a "normal" life, and a foreign mystery man learning the ways of America. 

All of the characters have identity issues and that's a uniting theme in the book.  That was fine.

I enjoyed the first 2/3 of the book.  Jennifer Egan is great at character development and at creating a mood.  When she describes something, I get a complete picture of what's going on.  I do enjoy her writing.

But....I felt like there were too many characters.  Many of them with no connection to that uniting theme.  Of the main characters, I found myself skimming through anything to do with Moose.  His interactions with niece Charlotte were tedious.  His breakdown was confusing.  The mystery man's story had no closure...he just disappeared.  (Which kind of makes sense considering who his character is, but I thought some sort of closure was needed with him...an epilogue or something.)  The story about the Internet scheme was just too much, and the characters that came with that were so annoying.  It just became a jumbled mess at the end and I ultimately felt disappointed and annoyed.

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Sometimes it takes me a minute (or two, or five)

I was watching Suburgatory, which guest starred Alicia Silverstone.  It took a full five minutes for it to dawn on me that she and Jeremy Sisto (the dad on Suburgatory) were in Clueless together 17 years ago.  Duh.

Look how cute they were:

And how cute they are now:

AI's Top 6 announced

One more contestant will eliminated from Idol tonight.  Honestly, the Top 7 performers are all so good.  It feels like no one should go home, but alas, we have to get down to one person, so someone's gotta go.

Tonight Kris Allen and LMFAO will perform.  But first, a group song:  Martha & the Vandellas' "Dancing in the Street."  They all sounded good, but the choreography was a little awkward.  There was a lot going on on the stage, dancers, band members, pickle-tub drummers, balloons.

Results time.  No, first the Ford commercial.  Yawn.


American Idol -- after the drama

I can barely stand the drama of tonight's opening.  This show slow motion replays of last weeks' Jessica debacle accompanied by some piano music.  They show Jessica laying on the couch afterward.  And re-watching last weeks' show.  Drama, drama, drama.

On with the show, please.

When Ryan comes out, he pays tribute to Dick Clark, who passed away today.   Very sad news.  Ryan said Dick's in a better place, pointing at his watch, and saying "let's get on with the show."  Ryan said, "You got it, boss."

Tonight each Idol is singing 2 songs...one will be a #1 hit from 2000-present, the other will be an old school R&B song.


Results from The Voice and tips for watching The Biggest Loser

Double header tonight with The Voice & The Biggest Loser.  I'll start with The Voice.

As a reminder, the judges lost their minds last night and got rid of two good singers.  Tonight, the bottom two from each team (based on America's votes) will have to sing to try to save themselves.  Also tonight, The Wanted will perform, and we'll get the premiere of Justin Bieber's new video.

Before the results, I just wanted to share a great quote I read today on EW.com's recap.  Mark Snetiker wrote about RaeLynn (the bold emphasis is mine):
Performing “She’s Country,” RaeLynn was the first to take the stage, and take it she did, balancing a delicate stomp around the stage (her boots were decidedly not made for walking) with hay bale obstacles every which way. After the grown-up Toddlers & Tiaras cowgirl finished her little ditty, Blake proclaimed that he had just experienced his proudest moment as a coach: “You prove to America that country can kick ass.” In my opinion, all that performance proved was that RaeLynn could do with a little less RaeLynn-ness.
 Like I said last night, her performance of "She's Country" was her best this season, but I still have to agree with Mr. Snetiker here.

Okay, onto some results.


The Voice - quarterfinals.

Tonight we get to see Team Blake and Team Christina's contestants perform.  There are four artists left on each team.

Carson tells us there's a "shocking" twist tonight.  After the artists perform, Blake & Xtina must eliminate one person from their respective teams.  These folks will go home tonight.  Blake says that if he could kick whomever is responsible for this twist he would.

Blake & Xtina will also perform with their teams and Maroon 5 will perform their new single.  Yay M5!


Elimination night - from 7 to 6

Tonight's group song is Pink's "Raise Your Glass."  For some reason, the choreography included a scene with Colton's head in Phillip's lap, while Phillip ran his fingers through Colton's hair.  I think it was meant to be funny, but truly, it was just awkward.  As a group, they sound pretty good.  Phillip looks uncomfortable with the whole thing though.

After chit chat about fan mail, Ryan calls up Hollie and Jessica.


Idol Top 7 Perform

Tonight's theme is music from 2010 until today.  Akon is the guest mentor.

Skylar gets to go first.  She chooses "Didn't You Know How Much I Loved You" by Kellie Pickler.  Jimmy & Akon were impressed during rehearsals.  She's playing guitar tonight.  She did a great job.  Randy said she could have a hit with a song like that.  He said it was "crazy hot."  Jen said it was a perfect way to start the show.  Steven loved it.

Colton is singing "Love the Way You Lie," the Skylar Grey version.  Jimmy tries to get him to find a way to surpass Phillip this week.  He's at the piano this week, backed by a string section.  He does a fine job, but he just doesn't wow me.  His voice isn't unique...there's nothing that stands out about him when you listen with your eyes closed.  Apparently, I'm in the minority--the crowd seemed to love it.  So did the judges.


The Voice elimination - CeeLo v. Adam

After the recap of last night's events, Carson tells us that Juliet Simms and Tony Lucca reached #1 and #2 on the iTunes rock chart.

Jessie J performs "Domino."  I like Jessie J.   Xtina's team comes out to accompany JJ, but they don't really add much.

Carson next tells us the top 3 artists from each team.

From Team Adam, it should be Katrina, Kim and Tony or Pip. (In my opinion.)   But no, in real life, it's Mathai, Tony and Pip.

Katrina, Kim and Karla (K-K-K?!) have to sing a "last chance performance."


Team CeeLo vs. Team Adam

It's the 2nd night of live shows on The Voice and contestants from CeeLo & Adam's teams will be performing.

Adam looks especially debonair this evening in all black.  Love him.  CeeLo is back to his bald look this evening, thank goodness. 

Up first is Katrina Parker from Adam's team.  She's singing "Tonight, Tonight" by the Smashing Pumpkins.  During rehearsal Adam tells her to be herself, stop being Adele.   But, when she comes out, she's wearing a black cocktail dress with her hair swepts to one side and looks just like Adele.  I'm not familiar with this song, but she had a decent performance.  Christina wanted her to rock out, but overall thought she did a good job.  CeeLo told her the song sounded too show tune-y.  Adam thought she killed it.


Celebrity Apprentice

I've been watching Celebrity Apprentice this season.  In the beginning, I mainly turned it on to see Arsenio Hall, Penn Jillette, and Adam Carolla.  The show has no redeeming quality, I know, but it makes me laugh.  It's just one of those guilty pleasures, and what has really surprised me, is that although I detest Lisa Lampenelli's stand-up comedy, she has made me laugh repeatedly on this show...especially in her confrontations with Lou Ferrigno, who, it turns out, I don't care for much.  I have to admire how she stands up for herself and refuses to back down.  And she was right tonight.  Lou never brings much to the table, but he's so quick to complain in the board room.

Trump did the right thing in firing him tonight.  Hasta la vista!


Black and Blue: The Redd Foxx Story

Black and Blue: The Redd Foxx StoryBlack and Blue: The Redd Foxx Story by Michael Starr
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I enjoyed reading and learning about the life of Redd Foxx--he lead a colorful life and is an interesting character. I found little tidbits like the fact that his father and brother were named Fred G. Sanford, or that he was friends with Malcolm Little (aka Malcolm X), to be fascinating. What I didn't care for was the writer's style. He haphazardly jumps back and forth in time, and is quite repetitive. Still, it was an interesting tale.

While reading the book, I ordered a CD or Redd's comedy...he was a funny guy, and even though they always talk about how filthy his comedy was, it's nothing compared to what you hear nowadays.  He used a lot of innuendo and double entendre to discuss, for example, sex.  Nowadays the comedians come out and just throw the F word around...which is not clever, and is rarely funny.

I was a big fan of Sanford and Son and also ordered the series on DVD.  I look forward to watching the shows with a different eye, now that I know about Redd's past and how he did all he could to help fellow actors, friends, and performers from his past.  Did you know that LaWanda Page (aka "Aunt Esther") was an old friend from grade school?  Neither did I, but now that I know that, I think watching Redd's interaction with her during Sanford & Son will be interesting to watch.

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Idol elimination night

Time to eliminate one more contestant from Idol 2012.

I fast-forward through the long intro/recap from last night.  There was no group sing tonight.  Instead they seemed to show a JLo video.  Can't say for sure since I fast-forwarded through that too, as well as the Ford commercial, like I usually do.

Ryan says we're doing results by duet, so first up is Joshua & Jessica.  (Josh isn't feeling well tonight.  He doesn't look well...I hope he's okay.)  Both of these kids should be safe.  First some comments from Jimmy.  "Joshua's right in his sweet spot right now.  10's all around."  "She sang beautifully, with emotion.  But that wasn't enough because she's a great singer with a song without enough voice power.  Right now it's a competition between two power vocalists--Joshua & Jessica...Joshua won because he picked a better song. "  Both are safe.