milk and honey by Rupi Kaur

milk and honeymilk and honey by Rupi Kaur

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I don't know a lot about poetry and can't comment on whether or not this is good poetry. I can say that many of the pieces elicited strong feelings from me. I found them powerful and sad and hopeful, and relatable.

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Dracula by Bram Stoker

DraculaDracula by Bram Stoker

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Eh. I'm between a 2.5 and a 3 on this. I enjoyed the audio version which was done with a large cast including Alan Cumming and Tim Curry--Alan Cumming's reading of Dr. Seward's journals were the best, most of the stars are for his performance. There's actually not a lot of Dracula in this book, it's more about the people who set out to hunt him down, and I found that disappointing. Van Helsing's portions droned on and on and the book really dragged during his portions. The ending was anticlimactic and I was ultimately let down. I encourage you to read Sarah Actually's review, she sums it up perfectly!

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Fall 2016 TV - Meh

Last year, I was rather unenthusiastic about the new Fall TV schedule. This year is a little better, but it's not all that great.  The shows I'm most looking forward to are:  This Is Us, Insecure, and Divorce. 
Atlanta has already started and I'm liking that one.  I read a quote from Donald Glover, the star and writer, that said "Anytime we would get to a point where it's like, 'That feels like a sitcom,' we would try not to do it."  This is why I like the show so much.  There's nothing formulaic about it at all, and the humor is often subtle and just cracks me up.

Here's my plan for the fall:

I decided to drop Madame Secretary and Elementary on Sunday nights.  They got a little dull last season, and I decided not to go 'there' again.  As a result, CBS is getting no love from me this year.

Last year, I added four new shows.  Grandfathered and The Grinder were canceled (Grandfathered deservedly so, The Grinder should have had a second season) and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and Jane the Virgin are still on.  I enjoyed the first few episodes of Jane the Virgin, via streaming, but I decided not to dedicate a lot of time to it.  Crazy Ex-Girlfriend was good at first, but I became exhausted by the main character's stupid decisions, so I let it go. 

This year, I'm adding 12 new shows (11 are shown in bold italics in the chart...the 12th, Impastor, is in its second season, but I'm adding it based on my friend Kerri's recommendation).  I'm watching the first season on Hulu as we "speak" - it is pretty funny.  I'll give them all a fair shot and then decide.

The Washington Post gave Notorious a grade of F.  It's the only new show that received an F.  I'm curious to see what an F-rated show looks like, but since I tend to agree with Hank Steuver's reviews, I'm sure it won't last.  That's a shame because I do really like Piper Perabo.

So, off we go.  Here's to a new TV season.  At a later date I'll get into the streaming shows--looking forward to the new season of Transparent and there are some new shows that look promising.


The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer

The Girl with the Lower Back TattooThe Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I listened to the audio version and overall enjoyed it. There were a few chapters (usually those about her celebrity) that amounted to a lot of humble bragging, but there were also a lot of chapters where her self-deprecation and humor was more personal and reflective--I liked those chapters the most. I haven't picked up the hard copy, but in other reviews I read that the writing seems choppy. That didn't come across in the audio version--perhaps it's the best way to enjoy this book.

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The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

The NestThe Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

I usually try not to read reviews before I read a book, but did catch several reviews where people didn't like any of the characters in this book and therefore they gave it a low rating. As a result, I went in with low expectations, but that wasn't my experience at all and I ended up pleasantly surprised. I enjoyed the characters and the relationships between the siblings. I think this was a good debut and I look forward to whatever the author comes out with next. I alternated between the physical book and enjoyed both the writing and the narration.

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A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

A Man Called OveA Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I adored this story about Ove, a grumpy man, and the people that invaded his life. It's so charming and funny and sweet. I laughed out loud many times, and also had a few tears. There's such beautiful and thoughtful language:

One of the most painful moments in a person's life probably comes with the insight that an age has been reached when there is more to look back on than ahead. And when time no longer lies ahead of one, other things have to be lived for. Memories perhaps. Afternoons in the sun with someone's hand clutched in one's own. The fragrance of flowerbeds in fresh bloom. Sundays in a café. Grandchildren perhaps. One finds a way of living for the sake of someone else's future.

This was my favorite quote:

People said Ove saw the world in black and white. But she was color. All the color he had.

I simply loved this book.

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Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, WitchGood Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book made me laugh. A lot. I went back and forth between reading the book on my Kindle, and listening to the Audible version. One day, I'll have to go back and listen to the whole thing because as read--almost acted--by Martin Jarvis, it's even funnier.  The story is about end of the world.  Because the demon Crowley and the angel Aziraphale have come to enjoy life on earth as it is, they decide to try to stop it.  I really enjoyed the friendship between Crowley and Aziraphale, and Crowley was my favorite character, actually. The only reason I didn't give it five stars is because I was a bit disappointed with the ending. Still, I enjoyed every bit along the way.

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Almost Interesting by David Spade

Almost InterestingAlmost Interesting by David Spade

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 Stars

I've never been huge fan of David Spade's. I liked him on SNL well enough, but I haven't seen many of his movies, and didn't know much about him. At the recommendation of a good friend, I went ahead and listened to his audiobook, which he narrates. It's pretty crude and raunchy at parts, but through his story, his self deprecation, and the way that he chuckles at what he's reading, he endeared himself to me. I really enjoyed the chapters about SNL and movie making. I had never seen Tommy Boy, but after listening to that chapter, I watched it on Netflix, and was pleasantly surprised by what a sweet movie it actually is. I had no idea. The audio book with David's narration is quite funny and I'm glad I listened.

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Jennifer's Way: My Jouney with Celiac Disease.... by Jennifer Esposito

Jennifer's Way: My Journey with Celiac Disease--What Doctors Don't Tell You and How You Can Learn to Live AgainJennifer's Way: My Journey with Celiac Disease--What Doctors Don't Tell You and How You Can Learn to Live Again by Jennifer Esposito

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was diagnosed with celiac disease in October 2015 and found it interesting to read about someone else's diagnosis and recovery. My symptoms are different than Jennifer's and thankfully, I haven't (yet) come across any doctors, employers, friends, or family who questioned me or treated me poorly when I'm not feeling well. I thought the book could use some editing--there was a lot of repetition, so I did find myself skimming quite a bit. Still, it was interesting to read another perspective. I also think it would be a good read for non-celiacs so they can get a better understanding of the disease and learn the differences between this auto-immune disease versus a fad diet. Those points really resonated with me.

I do look forward to trying some of the recipes at the end of the book.

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Not my thing, but...

The other day, four separate friends were posting on Facebook that they were at the Cure concert.  They were reminiscing about the old days and saying the band sounded as good as ever.  I started thinking...do I even know any songs by the Cure??  When I was in high school, there was an alternative rock radio station that I only listened to occasionally.  I know they played The Cure, and Depeche Mode, and, and and....  Stuff I never got into.  It just wasn't my scene.  (Though, I know they played the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and I somehow got into them in college.)

ANYWAY.  I went to iTunes and pulled up The Cure's Greatest Hits album.  Out of 18 songs, I recognized two:  "Just Like Heaven" and "Friday I'm in Love."  And that was it.  And the only reason I recognized those two songs is because they were in movies I enjoyed.  (Of course, I can't remember what movies those were.) 

I started thinking about how I have pretty diverse musical tastes, but there are still things I don't care for.  Like The Cure, I realize now.  And as I've mentioned plenty of times, I'm not a real fan of country music.

HOWEVER.  There are exceptions.  There's an album my dad had called "Rhythm Country & Blues" which was a collaboration of country singers and R&B or Blues singers.  I love that album.  (I'll have to write another post about this at another time--someone remind me about "Patches.")  I love the Zac Brown Band's "Free."  I have Lady Antebellum's "Need You Now" and Carrie Underwood's "Before He Cheats" on my iPod.  I eventually got the Rhythm Country & Blues album for myself.  I even downloaded a few songs from the TV show, Nashville.  So, every once in  while, a country song will slip through.

This morning I texted my dad and sister to announce that another country song is being added to my country collection.  Steven Tyler was on the Today Show this morning.  He has a new country album coming out and he debuted the title song, "We're All Somebody from Somewhere."

Well.  I LOVED that song!  I rewound and watched the performance about five times this morning.  Here's the kicker for me:  It's a FUNKY country song with a horn section and everything.  I can get down with that.  I just loved it.  I'll definitely be adding it to my iPod and I'm actually looking forward to hearing what else Steven has to offer in the country genre.

Actually, that bass line that starts at about the one-minute mark reminds me of one of the Chili Peppers songs.  Can you hear it?


Man. Season 4, Orange is the New Black (SPOILERS!!)

Warning--this post has SPOILERS!!!!!

I watched Season 4 of Orange is the New Black this weekend, and as someone said on Twitter, it was both deeply disturbing but also the best season yet.  I agree whole-heartedly.

Around episode 11, I texted my friend Alicia saying, "I've never been so infuriated with the show.  Not because there's anything wrong with it at all, but because of the plot lines."  After I confirmed that she was watching, I wrote, "These new guards are KILLING ME!  So much abuse and the ladies taking all that abuse are not able to say anything.  I want to smack Caputo in the head.  I had this same feeling when I read the book."  Alicia wrote back:  "Watching this is so uncomfortable.  The abuse of power is especially terrifying, since it's probably pretty realistic."

At the end of last season, the old corrections officers walked off the job.  This season they were replaced with militarized guards who had serious issues with abuse of power.  Abuse of power was a big theme in the book as well, and it's infuriating to read, because the inmates are people too, and I think that thought gets lost in the correctional system.

When I was watching the final episode, I was literally on the edge of my seat, screaming at the TV and covering my mouth with my hands in anticipation.  It was INTENSE.  Alicia wrote: "I just finished this season" with what I would call an "OMG" emoji.  I wrote back and said, "Me too!  Just now!  Holy fuck! (Pardon my French!)"  I later said, "Oh my god.  My heart is still pounding.  I'm all cried out from Poussey's death.  All the feelings!  Oh my god."

Alicia said the season did a good job of showing that there are good people and bad people.  On both sides--the guards and the prisoners.  I told her, "Wow.  What writing.  So many of those ladies deserve acting awards.  Alex contemplating what she did.  Taystee when Poussey died.  Pennsatucky.  Piper during the branding.  Holy shit. There was so much."

Then I added, "My head hurts from crying.  I was seriously sobbing when Poussey died.  I don't usually react to TV like that.  Goodness."

Alicia said, "Goodness.  I can't even process how emotion this season was."  I said, "I know!  Oh my god!  When Diaz picked up that gun, I was screaming in my house.  By myself.  Nooooooooo!!!!   Oh man."

So there you have it.  My reaction to Season 4.  I cannot wait until Season 5.  What did Diaz do?!?!?!

UPDATE (6/21/16) - I opened up a Vanity Fair article and just this photo of Taystee and her grief made me tear up.  The photo alone should garner Danielle Brooks an Emmy award.


Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll - SPOILERS!!

Luckiest Girl AliveLuckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Mixed feelings about this one. The first half was better than the second. The parts written about what happened to TifAni was difficult and painful to read. The part about the school shooting was also tough to read, not just because it was a school shooting, but also because I didn't see it coming, and read it just days after the horrendous Orlando shooting at Pulse. After that took place, the last third of the book dragged along and I found myself skimming quite a bit.

I was prepared to give the book 2 stars because I didn't enjoy it that much, but then I learned that the author herself was a victim of rape (http://www.elle.com/life-love/a35202/...). I then understood why that section was so painful to read--it was because she was writing from a horrible, personal experience. I bumped my rating to 3 stars because I have to respect that she was able to write that down. I hope it was cathartic for her.

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I hate feeling disappointed.

When I first turned on the TV this evening, I saw that a hockey game was starting on NBC.  I immediately said out loud, "Jesus.  Is hockey still on?"  It's got to be the sport with the longest season, ever.  It seems that an ice sport shouldn't still be on in the final days of May.

Anyway, I checked the guide and saw that So You Think You Can Dance was on.  I felt excited, changed the channel, and then was reminded that this season is for the "next generation," meaning, 8- to 13-year-olds.  Eh.  That was a bummer.  I didn't realize the whole season was kids...I thought they were just a part of the show.  I'm not taking away from these kids' talent at all, but I'm not really interested in a full season of young kids.  I'll give it a try, but definitely feel disappointed in the new format.



Feeling old with the Billboard Music Awards

I recorded the awards so I could see Madonna's tribute to Prince.  I saw that it was panned pretty badly in the reviews the next day.  But, I wanted to see it anyway.  I also like what Questlove had to say:  
So I know there is gonna be A LOT of ‘feel a certain ways’ about who you want to see do his music justice – but you gotta put that aside y’all....Every Prince rendition will not be a life changing orgasmic [experience]. Just to SING his work is brave enough. Again feeling are on high, and EVERYBODY wants and deserves a chance to say goodbye in their own way. But remember: there will be AMAs, SoulTrain, NAACP, mtv, GRAMMYS, and a gazillion other tributes. But the point is let’s not get ugly with playing the ‘Prince would and wouldn’t approve’ game.

I admit, I wasn't thrilled at first to hear Madonna was doing the tribute, but the more I thought about it, why shouldn't she?  She, Michael Jackson and Prince were all born in the same year.  Prince was a friend of hers. She's from his era.  She knows his music.  It makes more sense than some up and comer doing a tribute, who wasn't even born when Purple Rain came out.


Okay, I'm done.

I've been mulling this post over in my head for quite some time now, and today I'm finally ready to put the words down.

Let me start by saying that my favorite night of television is Wednesdays on ABC.  I love The Middle, The Goldbergs, Modern Family, and black•ish.  Especially the first two shows.  It seems like each week, when those shows end, I say--out loud--"Oh!  I love this show so much!"  A couple of weeks ago, The Goldbergs had a "behind-the-scenes" episode and they mentioned how the first two acts are funny and then the third act will have a tender moment that gets you emotional.  It's a formula, but it works for me.  The Middle follows this same pattern, so really, when I'm saying, "Oh! I love this show so much!' there are usually tears in my eyes as I say it.

There are other great shows on that I just love every time I watch them--these currently include Veep, The Good Wife (which, sadly just ended), Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and The Grinder.

Watching TV consumes my time, and I know I watch WAY too much TV.  And lately, I've been taking note of the fact that there are plenty of shows I watch out of habit or loyalty, that I really don't enjoy that much.  I don't end each show saying, "Wow! That was great."  And often, I'm moaning and groaning about what's going on.  These shows build up on the Tivo, which is a sign to me that I'm not all that anxious to watch.  The shows I love, I watch immediately.

With all this in mind, I'm starting to eliminate shows that I'm just not enjoying that much.  I already deleted Gotham. I think after Jada Pinkett left, it just wasn't as interesting.  When it was gone for winter break, I didn't miss it, and when I saw that it was on again, I let 2-3 episodes build up on the Tivo and I realized, you know what?  I really don't need to watch that, and I deleted the season pass.  The same exact thing happened with Empire.  I really enjoyed the first season, but then it just started to get too soap-opera-y, and I realized I was no longer interested.

Things came to a head today (and this is what prompted this post) when I was watching this week's episode of The Blacklist.  It was on for about 20 minutes, and I realized, I couldn't care less about what was happening.  It was dull and I miss Red and Liz's interactions.  I'm not convinced that she's really dead, but I'm not going to spend one more moment waiting to find out.  I stopped the show, and said, "That's it.  I'm done."  Deleted.

I've got some other shows that need to up their game, or they're going to be dropped too.  Nashville comes to mind.  Oh god--the drama is so bad and repetitive, and again, too much soap opera stuff.  Then there's Gray's Anatomy, although this week got interesting, so we'll see what happens.  I'm going to drop Madame Secretary now that The Good Wife is gone.  I really only watched it because it came on between 60 Minutes and The Good Wife.  

Meanwhile, this summer I'm looking forward to So You Think You Can Dance, though I'm not sure about the twist with young kids.  We'll see.

Speaking of young kids--Little Big Shots has been a joy to watch.  It's a nice way to end the weekend and head off the Monday blues. (Even though I don't really suffer from Monday blues anymore now that I'm in a new job I like, but still.)

It feels good to clear this clutter off of my Tivo.   It's freeing up time so I can work on the clutter in the rest of the house!

UPDATE:  Just saw that I'm not the only one ready to drop Nashville.  ABC is dropping them too--now I don't have to make that decision.  I'll go ahead and finish out the last three episodes and then it'll be done.

UPDATE 2 (5/16/16):  Now I just heard that Jada Pinkett is coming back to Gotham tonight.  Sorry Gotham.  You're too late.  I won't be back.

UPDATE 3 (5/24/16):  AND, I was right about Blacklist!  I'm still not going to keep watching though.  Too little, too late! Oh and The Grinder was cancelled.  That one upsets me.


After You by Jojo Moyes

After You (Me Before You, #2)After You by Jojo Moyes

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

2.5 stars.

I read this immediately following Me Before You, and couldn't help but feel a bit disappointed. It's still a quick read and I enjoyed parts of it, but I didn't connect with it like the first one.


I don't usually comment on (or even pick up on) these kinds of things, but it really bothered me that when Sam got shot, it was done by someone with an "Afro-Carribean appearance." Of course, a black guy did it. My feelings about the book took a turn there and I found myself really annoyed by it and that whole story line. It was too contrived. 


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Prince - RIP

Prince died today.

This one really hurts.  Just this past Tuesday, I listened to Prince all day long.  So many songs bring back so many memories.

When "Do Me Baby" came on, it reminded me of the time I was in junior high and singing the song while at home, minding my own business.  My mom came in and said, "You better not sing that at school, or someone just might 'do you,'" as if I went around singing through the halls at school.

When "Diamonds and Pearls" came on, it reminded me of one of my favorite days ever--the day my college roommates and I took a one-day bus trip to NYC.  I bought the Diamonds and Pearls CD at Tower Records and listened to it for three hours straight on the way back to school.

Anything from Purple Rain just makes me happy.  Any time I come across the movie, I stop to watch it.  I own it, but I watch it on TV anyway.  The acting is so bad, but it's so good.  My uncle's girlfriend at the time, had three sons who were in the audience during the Let's Go Crazy scene.  We always tried to pick them out, but were never really sure.

There was a headbanger that lived down the street from me in junior high and high school--he was all about the hair bands and had big and long hair himself, and often wore black eyeliner to school.  We were hanging at his house one time and he pulled out the Purple Rain album.  It was so cool to discover we had that in common.  I'll never forget when he put on "Let's Go Crazy" and when Prince sang, "Called my old lady, for a friendly word, she picked up the phone, dropped it on the floor-- 'Ah, ah,' is all I heard," Eric raised his arms above his head and did two pelvic thrusts in time to the "ah, ah," just like Prince did in the movie.  I cracked up--it was such a surprise!

As I listened all day, I alternated between whether "Purple Rain" or "Adore" is my favorite.  But then I realize I have to say favorite slow, or favorite fast song.  Other favorites are "Pop Life," "Gett Off," "Erotic City," "7."

I sometimes cry through the song "Purple Rain"--if it catches me in a certain mood.  Today was definitely one of those days.  I put the movie on this evening just to watch that performance and the finale with "I Would Die 4 U" and "Baby I'm a Star," which definitely helped lift my spirits.

What about all the times we heard "1999" the year before the year 2000 rolled in?

The best concert I ever saw was Prince when he was touring for Musiscology.  We paid $60/ticket for nosebleed seats--those were the only seats left ten minutes after tickets went on sale.  The CD came with the tickets too.  My coworker sold his $60 tickets and bought $150 tickets on the floor from a scalper.  After seeing the amazing show, I vowed to pay whatever it cost to get floor tickets the next time I saw Prince in concert.  Unfortunately, I never had that opportunity.

And there's this...my favorite performance of his.

I will really miss those sexy eyes and that sly smile he had that always suggested something mischievous.

The world lost such a talent today.  I'm devastated.


Thanks for the surprise, iPod!

I have a LOT of music on my iPod touch.  I'm not at home right now so I can't check the exact numbers, but I have a vague memory of seeing at some point I had more than 2500 songs on the iPod.

There are plenty of albums on there that I rarely listen to.  How could I get to them all?!  As a result, when I use iTunes' "Genius Lists," I often find myself surprised by what comes up.  (For those who don't know, iTunes has a feature where you pick a song, and then it will create a playlist of similar songs from the rest of your music library.)

This morning, I created a Genius List from The Commodores' song "Oh No*."

I then settled in to my seat on the Metro (subway), closed my eyes, and listened.  After a few songs, I was completely surprised to hear, "Islands in the Stream."  But it wasn't Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton.  I was thinking, "I have this song on my iPod?!" and "Who's singing?!"  I opened my eyes, pulled out the iPod and discovered it was the BEE GEES!  The Bee Gees?!?!  And it was an album cover I didn't even recognize:

When did I buy that? I don't even remember. And apparently I had never listened to the whole thing, or just forgot that they did "Islands in the Stream." I had no idea. (I have to admit, I've always liked Kenny and Dolly's version of the song.) This was a pleasant surprise.

*For what it's worth, I remember the song "Oh No" from the movie "The Last American Virgin."  As I was listening to that song this morning, I was also reminiscing about seeing that movie with my best friend when we were about 13 or 14 years old.  We had rented it on VHS from Erol's video store, which was our store long before Blockbuster arrived.  Then I started wondering, how did we slip that movie past my mom?!  She would've had to be the one renting it.  It seems totally inappropriate for two 13/14-year-olds to be watching a movie about a geeky kid trying to lose his virginity.  Hmmm....I'm going to have to ask my mom about this!  Anyway, I remember the kid being upset, driving in the car, and listening to "Oh No."  I think he had tears streaming down his face. And I, meanwhile, fell in love with the song.


Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut

Breakfast of ChampionsBreakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I gave this 3 out of 5 stars...for now. I finished reading it four days ago and it's been on my mind ever since. I don't know if I liked it or not, but I figure the fact that it stayed on my mind has to count for something. It's such a weird book. Parts were outlandish...I was worried that someone might be looking over my shoulder when I was reading on the subway and came to one of his many drawings. I laughed at times. And I was confused and/or confounded at others.

Prior to reading this, my only experience with Vonnegut's writing was Slaughterhouse Five, which I did enjoy. I didn't walk away from that book feeling so conflicted.

I wish I had read this as part of an English class or book club, because it's the kind of thing that requires discussion. I insisted that a coworker read it so we can have a mini book club at work. If any big epiphanies come from that discussion, I reserve the right to change my rating.

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P.S.  I just noticed that my previous post, saying goodbye to American Idol, was my 1000th post.  Wow!  That seems fitting since so much of what I blogged about was Idol. 


Goodbye American Idol

The President opens the show saying that people have learned how to vote on American Idol and they should spend as much time and effort doing so for the government officials.  "Go to vote.gov and register to vote today."  I like that he also said that American Idol taught us what "pitchy" means.

The show opens with everyone wearing white, and it's contestants from this season as well as from previous seasons including Kat McPhee, Reuben, Daughtry, Kelly Pickler and plenty of others whose names I can't think of right now.  Oh, there's Constantine.  They're singing "One Voice."  It sounds like a Broadway production.

It's going to be difficult to blog this show because I have some work to do, but I'll do what I can.

Oh!  Ryan was about to announce the show and they introduce Brian Dunkleman, who hosted the original season with Ryan.  He cracked some bad jokes, but then in all seriousness congratulated Ryan for all of his success with the show.

La'Porsha and Trent sing the "very first Idol finale duet" that Kelly and Justin sang:  "It Takes Two" by Marivn Gaye.  They sound great together.  I stick by my wish that they tour together and become best friends.

Got some memories from Steven Tyler..."and that's the way it was..." before the commercial break.

Ok, gotta work.  I'll check back with highlights as I see them.

Medley of former contestants:
  • Justin Guarini looks great--loved him singing No Air with Jordan Sparks
  • If they didn't tell me that was Tamyra Gray, I wouldn't have figured it out on my own.  She still sounds great though.
  • Pants on the Ground!  HA!
  • Bo Bice?!  He looks SO good!!  Where did his hair go?
  • I liked the Rockers segment a lot!  That's not my go-to genre, but those guys were great.  I still love Caleb.   I guess the earlier medley was the pop divas?
  • Loved Keith & Carrie's duet.  Carrie looks amazing.  I wasn't always a big fan of hers, but I gotta giver her credit where credit is due.
  • What is happening to me?  I'm even loving the country section!
  • I guess after Harry sang with the little girl, we moved into the Crooner's section.  I will never tire of seeing and hearing Reuben Studdard sing.
  • After so much great singing, here's J-Lo lip-syncing.  She looks good though, as always.  (I confess to taking a little dance break for "Let's Get Loud.")
  • We're in the R&B section now.  Danny Gokey looks good!  Elliott Yamin!  Love him!
Note:  I've gotten no work done.  Tomorrow's going to be a bear.

Okay, back to the show!
  •  Joshua Ledet - this is a man's world!  Oh yes!  He was so awesome!!!!!!
  • Another dance break for the gospel/Christmas section ("Joy to the World") -- Melinda Doolittle!  
Wow--what a great show tonight!  Best finale they've had, as I guess it should be.

The "white boys with guitars" are doing a tribute to David Bowie.  (David Cook, Lee Dewyze, Phillip Phillips, Nick Fradiani (that's a season I didn't watch), and Kris Allen.)

OF COURSE Simon had to be there.  He looks great!  I like the salt & pepper scruff.  Why is his shirt unbuttoned down to his belly button though?!

OMG.  "For the last time, dim the lights....here we go!"

I can't believe it's happening.

The winner is TRENT!  HOLY SHIT!!!!!!!!!  I really thought La'Porsha had that, but I'm so happy for Trent.  I really am!  WOWWWWWWWWWW.

I'm glad we get to hear his sexy "Falling" song again.  He had the best song.  Aww...he's all choked up.  Awww...all the contestants are singing with him.  And so is Keith Urban. 

What a great finale!  They have the most confetti they've ever had!  That was fantastic!!

It was sweet to see Ryan choke up.  Seacrest out!

Did everyone catch Sanjaya thorughout?  Each time with different hair?  Great bit!


Close to the end...

It's the 2nd to last night of American Idol.  I haven't blogged about the show in a LONG time, but I'm gonna get it done for this week's finale.

The show starts off with a group performance, the group being Dalton, La'Porsha, and Trent.  I thought we'd gotten away from group performances, but at least these three sound good together. 

There are three rounds happening tonight before we find out who the final two are.  First, the three will sing their first single should they win, then they'll sing a choice by Simon Fuller (the show's producer), and then they'll sing the song of their choice. 

Trent's up first with his potential winning single called "Falling."  It's a soulful slow R&B song.  I love it.  This is something I'd buy.  That always plays into how I view contestants...would I buy their music.  For Trent, absolutely yes.  I like that the song isn't all treacly about being among the stars, etc. like the Idol songs used to be. 

By the way, I revived the pool for this final season, and as of last week, I'm in the lead.  In my list of how I'd like this to go, I've Dalton at #3, Trent at #2, and La'Porsha at #1.  For what it's worth, I also had MacKenzie going at #4, so my list was pretty good.  For my list of how I thought America would vote, I had MacKenzie to win it, so no points for me there.

Dalton's singing his song, and right off the bat, I don't like it.  He also doesn't sound great.  Last week I realized that he sometimes struggles to hit low notes, but I think people overlook it because of his story and because he does sing passionately.  I don't like this song though.  "Strike a Match."  His lyrics fit the usual Idol fare, "

La'Porsha sings "Battles."  She looks FABULOUS with her big black 'fro.  I always love her eye makeup.  She has beautiful eyes.  And I love the shots of her baby girl in the audience wearing her little flower, and her headphones.  She's such a darling with those cheeks!  I don't love LP's song, but she sounds fantastic singing it.

After the commercial break, Ryan's back to announce the Top Two.  It HAS to be Trent and La'Porsha.  I think Dalton thinks so too, because he said he's just happy that America cared to listen for so long...seems like he knows this is the end.

The first person to go through is.....

La'Porsha!  (OF COURSE)

And competing against her is...

TRENT!!!  Whoo!!!!

Now, honestly, I'll be happy whoever wins.  I wish Dalton well though.

Both Trent and LP are from Mississippi.  Trent's up first with a song chosen by Simon Fuller:  "If You Don't Know Me By Now."  Great choice.  Perfect song choice for Trent.  Whoo!  I love his tone when he sings low and then he breaks out the falsetto.  Fantastic!

That Simon knows how to pick songs. For LP he picked "A House Is Not a Home."  Again, perfect.  I got chills when she was singing this one.  Keith Urban said, "I don't even smoke and I feel like I need a cigarette right now."  A friend of mine said that she wants to have LP's babies.  Quite sultry!  And again, she just looks so beautiful tonight!

For Trent's pick, he's doing Sia's "Chandelier" again.  I love this song, and I love Trent's version.   He was fantastic!  There's just nothing else to say. 

La'Porsha chose "Diamonds" and gave another great performance.  The crowd can't calm down and LP has tears flowing down her face.  So beautiful. 

I want the two of them to tie.  I also want them to duet.  I want them to be lifelong friends.  Go on tours together.  They are both so great--I think this might be the best finale performance show ever.  Way to go out, American Idol!  Looking forward to tomorrow's finale and whatever surprises they have in store.  As they say, it's the end of an era!


On meeting an old friend for the VERY. FIRST. TIME

I don't do a whole lot of blogging any more, but this is a MUST-BLOG situation.

Many years ago (I thought it was 10+, plus recently figured out it was actually 9), I wrote a blog post recapping American Idol.  This was when everyone was aghast at the fact that Sanjaya was still in the competition.

I wrote the post on March 7, 2007, and on March 9, someone named Kerri commented on it.  She, too, was incredulous that Sanjaya was still there.  Kerri continued to comment on my Idol posts.  I started reading her blog too and on March 21, I made my first comment over there.

Over the years, we read and commented each other's blogs on a regular basis.  At some point we exchanged email addresses and started to communicate that way.  We had a lot in common--we're both left-handed intoverts, we tend to like the same TV shows, movies and books, and we have the same sense of humor.   Her BFF shares my last name AND my birthday.  We got along really well in words and it felt like we were meant to know each other.  She's so talented and I bought some of her CDs.  She started making jewelry and I bought some of that too. At some point, Facebook came along, and then last year we exchanged cell phone numbers--we didn't talk, but we started communicating even more often via text.

(A couple of years ago, there was a chance that her husband's job was going to be relocated to my area--I was so excited at the opportunity to meet her and get to hang out.  Unfortunately, that fell through, but it was in my mind that one of these days we would meet.)

Well, that day came on Thursday, March 31, 2016!

It was almost exactly nine years after our friendship started.  In January, I had come across some cheap flights to Dallas, and jumped on it and told Kerri I was coming to see her.

After refreshing at my hotel, I drove to her house.  I was so excited, and could tell she was too because when I pulled into the driveway, she came out right away and gave me a huge hug.  (An aside:  I was a little slow on the uptake because my rental car was a Prius and I was trying to figure out how to turn the damn thing off.  You have to push a button to park, and another button to turn the car off.  Each and every time I drove that car, I said, "this car is so weird." But, for what it's worth, when I went to fill it up back to full, it only took $3.50!)

ANYWAY, it was so good to FINALLY meet each other in person!  It was just like seeing an old friend after a long time.  We never had any awkward silences and we got along great right from the start.  I met her husband, Fermin, and her dogs, Lucy and Ricky, also known as "The Ricardos."  We chatted for a while at her house and then we went to the Dallas Arboretum, which was nearby. It was a beautiful day and we walked and talked (and talked).  Kerri showed me where her wedding had been.  We were off to a great start.  Kerri also pointed out that my first comment on her blog was a post about one of her visits to the Arboretum so it was fitting that we were there.

After the gardens, Kerri had some family business to tend to, so I headed to the grocery store for some snacks for my room (which had a fridge and kitchenette) and then we met up later for dinner at  a Mexican restaurant called Meso Maya, which was delicious.  Her brother joined us, and it was great to meet him as well.  I had seen him Shark Tank a few years ago and it was fun to meet him in person.

On Friday we went to a cute little crepe restaurant called Whisk.  Delicious.  We then went to downtown Dallas to go to Dealey Plaza with the intention of going to the Sixth Floor Museum.  Well, those plans were squashed when we saw how many people were there.  There was a 90-120 minute wait to get in, and then the tour was 90 minutes.  I didn't have time because I was meeting another friend for dinner that night, so we just checked out the "grassy knoll."  See?  I have proof.  (That sign cracks me up.)  I'll definitely be back to Dallas in the future to visit, so we'll plan better for this tour.

There's a small X in the middle of the street that shows where President Kennedy was first shot.  It's a little strange that it's not more prominently marked, but maybe that would draw more people into the middle of street/traffic than that little X already does.

We then went to the Dallas Museum of Art and did more walking and talking (and art watching).  We stopped by the Northpark Mall (which is a beautiful mall) on the way back before going back to my hotel.  (The mall was right near where I was staying.)

On Friday night, I met my friend Allyssa who also lives in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, and whom I also met years ago through the internet.  (When I told Kerri that I was meeting another friend that I had met online, she said, "You've done this before?!"  It is kind of crazy, really.  Meeting men and online dating hasn't worked at all for me, but I've made some great female friendships via the interwebs.)  Allyssa and I went to Mudhen Meats and Greens, which was also delicious.  We shut the place down after talking for 3-1/2 hours.  It was great to see her, and I look forward to seeing her again in August when she's up my way in DC.

(Note:  I haven't mentioned here on the blog that I was recently diagnosed with Celiac's disease and have to eat a gluten-free diet.  It was great to find so many GF options in Dallas.  Even Whisk had GF crepes, which was great.)

On Saturday, Kerri and I met for lunch at Spin Pizza (GF crust!).  Another great meal.  After lunch, I headed back to my hotel to await the arrival of my aunt and her husband, who live in Ft. Worth.  She is my mom's half sister, and I had only met her once before many years ago.  After she and her husband arrived, she told me that her sister (another aunt) was coming too.  And then, her husband's son and fiance also joined us.  It was great to meet "new" family and we had a good two-hour visit in my hotel lobby.

That afternoon, I went to Kerri's where she worked on designing some new jewelry for me that will re-purpose some of my grandma's jewelry.  I can't wait to see how it comes out.  We then went to visit White Rock Lake, which is a huge man-made lake with a 10-mile circumference with a bike path and trails all around it.  It was beautiful.  And, we finally decided to take our cameras out for some selfies!  I wish we had thought of that all along.  Duh.  (Doesn't it feel like you've been part of a cliffhanger?  You've probably been wondering, well, where are the pictures?!  What does Kerri look like for crying out loud?!)

There she is...so pretty, inside and out!  And I love that photo!  Photo credit to Kerri--hers came out the best!

After the lake, Kerri, Fermin, and I went to meet some of their friends (Kevin and Allyson) for dinner at a neighborhood restaurant called Thai Opal.  This was a place where everyone knows Kerri and Fermin's names.  Again, the food was delicious and the company was fun.  I already mentioned that I'm an introvert, but I'm also usually rather shy when meeting new people.  On this trip, I never felt shy at all.  I think it's because I've been hearing about them for years, so it's like I already knew them anyway.  After dinner, we went to a neighborhood dive called One Nostalgia Place.  I just found this article about it, which cracks me up:  "One Nostalgia Place Is the Shitty Bar of My Dreams."  When Kerri and friends were talking about going for cocktails and dancing, I thought they meant the activity of going for drinks and dancing until I saw the sign (check out the link to the article) and realized that Cocktails Dancing was the destination.  We had a couple of bad drinks, did the Wobble, and watched Kevin do some karaoke.  We weren't there long, but it was fun.

More photos credit to Kerri!

After Cocktails Dancing, we parted ways with Kevin and Allyson and then headed back to Kerri's to watch American Idol.  (How could we not?  This all started with American Idol!)  After the show ended, we made plans for me to come by in the morning for breakfast before my 1pm flight out of Dallas.

Well, on Sunday morning, just as I was getting ready to head to their house, I checked the American Airlines website to see if everything was on time, and oh jeez!  I just about had a heart attack because my flight didn't leave at 1pm--it was leaving at NOON!  YIKES!  How did I mess that up so badly?  I had 1pm in my head the whole trip.  Anyway, I ended up driving to Kerri's just to give her a goodbye hug and then was on my way to the airport.  It was sad saying goodbye and I became emotional and teary.  (Kerri said we're even because she had the same thing happen when I first got there.  She said it was a good bookend to our visit.)  I got to the airport with no issues and got home safely.

It was a fantastic trip and I had so much fun.  I know more visits will happen in the future and I can't wait.  I'm so happy to have actually met my longtime dear friend! She's one of the best people I know.

p.s.  Kerri also convinced me to get back to blogging more regularly--I'll try to give it a go.


Team of Rivals: The Poliitical Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham LincolnTeam of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I listened to the unabridged audiobook, which was a time commitment (41 hours and 32 minutes) and it took me about 8 months all together, but it was well worth it. (It was really almost 18 months because I'd started, and then stopped for a while. When I got back to it, I realized I needed to start from the beginning again.) I really enjoyed listening to the narrator's aristocratic tone, which reminded me of Katharine Hepburn in Philadelphia. Before I started the book, I had a general understanding of Abraham Lincoln and what he did for this country, but now I have such a deep appreciation for what a great man he was. The stories of his humor were charming, and you could really feel how difficult decisions heavily weighed on him. I learned a lot and would recommend this to anyone.

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