Archives for February 2010

Help Haiti Live – Tonight!

When I first found out about the Help Haiti Live concert, I took one look at the Nashville line-up and thought, “Ooooh – I want to go to there.” But then I realized that the date actually conflicted with some plans that have been on my calendar for awhile, and I cried.

Okay. So maybe I didn’t cry actual tears. But I was bummed nonetheless.

Anyway, I am SO TICKLED that I’ll still be able to watch the concert live online tonight. Some of my very favorite artists in the whole wide world are performing (you may have heard me mention how much I love Dave Barnes’ music once or sixty times), and they’re performing to raise money for Compassion International. Compassion has been working in Haiti for longer than I’ve been alive, and the money raised through tonight’s concert will “lay bricks, feed, educate, clothe, heal and rebuild Haiti in Jesus’ name for many months to come.”

Now come on. That’s a mighty fine thing indeed.

You can still buy tickets for the show in Nashville, or you can watch online at 7:30pm central. I cannot wait.

See y’all there!

Help Haiti February 27th – HelpHaitiLive.com from Compassion International on Vimeo.

Feel Free To Join Me In Singing A Little Peaches & Herb

A couple of weeks ago David put a new stereo in my car. He pulled off the dashboard, took out the old stereo, cut and soldered some wires, installed the new stereo and reattached the dashboard. He did all of this in our driveway, thankyouverymuch, which means that for a few hours one Saturday afternoon the area in front of our house looked so much like the “Dukes of Hazzard” parts shop that I LONGED for someone from the homeowners’ association to stop by. Mainly because I was dying to blare some Hank Williams, Jr. music from the garage and then introduce my husband as Cooter.

IT WOULD HAVE MADE ME SO HAPPY.

In all seriousness, D is unbelievably patient and detail-oriented when it comes to assembling stuff, so I knew that he’d do a great job with the stereo installation. And he did. My old stereo had this iPod connector thingie that ran behind the dashboard and had quit working completely, and since it was going to cost the same amount of money to buy a new behind-the-dash iPod connector thingie or buy a new stereo, Gadget Man opted for the new stereo. But I’m guessing you already figured that out since that little detail was pretty much the gist of my first paragraph. I am nothing if not annoyingly repetitive.

ANYWAY, once the new stereo was installed, D began the daunting task of trying to teach me how to use it. I like for electronics to be simple, and one of the great frustrations in my life is that I cannot watch TV in our den with the push of only one button. Remember, I am a child of the UHF era. I guess it’s a wonder that I’m actually able to operate a DVR, but my sheer determination to stay up-to-date with reality television keeps me motivated. I give all credit to Chris Harrison and Jeff Probst. They’re the wind beneath my DVR wings.

So D tried to show me how to use the stereo, but the buttons were very tiny, and they were marked with phrases like SRC and FN and RND. I still don’t know what they mean. I did like the fact that my iPod plugged into the front of the stereo, but whenever I tried to change playlists on the iPod via my stereo controls, I’d end up with some thumping bass or no sound at all in my front speakers. I never did figure out how to scroll through my lists of albums and artists, so when I finally hit a combination of buttons that landed me on the “Shuffle All” setting, I just left it there. And when Alex would request a specific song, all I knew to say was, “MAMA DOESN’T KNOW HOW TO DO THAT. WE’LL JUST LISTEN TO WHAT’S NEXT.”

The new stereo also came equipped with a remote, and at first I thought it would be a handy feature. But as it turns out, do you know what you do not need in a moving vehicle? A REMOTE CONTROL. I only used it a couple of times, and both times all I could manage to do was to switch the radio from FM to AM to FM to AM. At one point I couldn’t get any response at all from the remote, and I worried that I was trapped in an episode of “MacGruber” and unintentionally blowing up farmland in some rural area of Kentucky.

It was either that or I was turning people’s TVs off and on while I was waiting at red lights near their homes.

This morning was the breaking point with the fancy stereo and me. I couldn’t seem to make my iPod play, I couldn’t figure out how to scroll through radio stations, and every single time I’d try to find my preset stations I activated some sort of treble boost. To my credit I did not rip the stereo from the dashboard, but I’m pretty sure that I called it some names.

D looked at the stereo this afternoon to see if maybe I had messed up some settings (ENTIRELY POSSIBLE, THAT OPTION), but of course he was able to get it to work with absolutely no problem at all. And even though I’ve tried to be a good sport about the new stereo, and even though I’ve tried to put on a happy face about the fact that it’s way too complicated for me, I finally caved and told D that I didn’t think the new stereo and I were going to be able to work out our issues. We tried. We really did. But we’re just not compatible.

And after about five minutes of D asking, “Are you sure? Really? You don’t like it?” he said the magic words: “Do you want me to return the new stereo and install your old one?”

I nearly wept with relief. My old stereo. The one with the big buttons that say things like POWER and CD and EJECT.

And this time around I’m completely foregoing the iPod connector thingie that ran behind the dash. It was a lovely feature, but if it broke once, it’ll probably break again. I’m just going to use an iPod cassette adapter. And I will be so very happy with it because while it might not be the most cutting-edge technology, I can guarantee you that it will not beep at me.

As you can imagine, I am beside myself with joy.

American Idol – Top 12 Guys

So I’m a little late getting started with the watching of the Idol, but rest assured that my tardiness has not diminished my enthusiasm, oh no it has not.

In the immortal words of Dr. Phil, “let’s do this.”

Todrick Hall – “Since You Been Gone” – Oh, I am such a fan of an inventive cover. But there was one primary problem with this cover: he took one of the best pop songs of all time ever and re-worked it in a way that wasn’t really recognizable. That being said, I love his originality, love the way he moved around on the stage – but I didn’t think his vocals were that strong. It was a little more talk-y than sing-y, and yes, those are absolutely the technical terms.

Aaron Kelly – “Here Comes Goodbye” – I think was probably a good song choice for him, but it sounded a little bit like he was doing his Rascal Flatts imitation. Plus, his voice didn’t really do him any favors on the chorus. However, he has a decided advantage in that he’s sort of a 2010 David Archuleta, isn’t he? The tween girls are gonna vote for him like crazy.

Jermaine Sellers – “Get Here” – This song is one of my all-time favorites. I didn’t really care for the overly complicated R&B arrangement, mainly because the beauty of this song is its simple, sweet melody. It felt a little bit like he was pushing too hard – trying to have a moment, maybe? His voice got lost in all the busy-ness.

Tim Urban – “Apologize” – Since he was a last-minute addition to the top 24, I was really rooting for him, but it seemed like he never really got control of the song. The high notes made me wince a little bit – but I did like this song choice for him, and I think he did enough to stay around for another week.

Joe Munoz – “You And I Both Know” – He surprised me. The tone of his voice is really pretty, and he was so much more comfortable on stage that I anticipated (based on what we saw during the auditions). That being said, the chorus was a hot mess in parts – but when it was all said and done, I thought, “Yep. He’ll be back next week.”

Tyler Grady – “American Woman” – I’m not entirely sure what I just saw. It was all very poser-ish and rock star-ish – didn’t feel very authentic – and so I’m left wondering what his voice really sounds like when he’s not putting on a 70s show. I think that if he makes it through to next week, he needs to simmer down and sit on a stool and sing. Just my two cents, of course.

Lee Dewyze – “Snow Patrol Chasing Cars” – I actually enjoyed his guitar-playing more than I enjoyed his singing tonight, which was surprising because I love his voice. Interesting song choice for sure – but lots of trouble hitting the big notes in the chorus. He seemed very nervous, so I’m curious to see what kind of performer he’ll be once he settles down a little bit. Hope he gets to stick around.

John Park – “God Bless The Child” – This was the wrong song for him by a million miles. And listening him try to do all those runs made me want to hide in my closet until it was over. I do think that the second half of the song was better than the first half. That’s all I know to say about that.

Michael Lynche – “This Love” – Oh my goodness. Such a great song choice. HOWEVER, it felt at times like he was on the stage at a wedding reception, singing his heart out while people walked in front of him so they could get a second piece of groom’s cake. It was okay, but it was nothing special. I expect bigger and better from him next week.

Alex Lambert – “A Wonderful World” – I barely remember him from the auditions, so I was pleasantly surprised when I heard him sing. Very, very cool voice, and I love that he doesn’t sound like anybody else. The main drawback tonight was that he didn’t seem even a little bit comfortable on stage, but I imagine that will come with time. He just seemed terrified – but I can’t really fault him for that because, hello, MILLIONS OF PEOPLE WATCHING.

Casey James – “Heaven” – I hereby renounce any comment I’ve ever made about not singing a ballad the first week of the competition. Because that worked. Yes ma’am. Totally worked. The end.

Andrew Garcia – “Sugar We’re Goin’ Down” – This performance was a little more straightforward than the stuff he did during the auditions, and I found myself wishing he had done something a little more upbeat and quirky. That being said, he’s not going anywhere, and I’m willing to bet that he rebounds big time next week.

What did y’all think about tonight’s show? I have no idea who’ll be voted out tomorrow night, but I feel fairly certain that the last four guys who performed aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

If you want to add your Idol post to the Linky, please add the specific URL for your post (not just your general blog address) below.

American Idol – Top 12 Girls

I don’t want to overstate my excitement about the new season or anything, but I’m pretty sure I just felt shivers all the way down my spine when Ryan Seacrest said, “THIS. IS AMERICAN IDOL.”

Of course, considering that we’ve been subjected to approximately 471 rounds of audition shows, it’s no wonder that I’m experiencing a slight degree of anticipation. After all, it’s always fun to get to your destination after you’ve been in the car for SIX SOLID WEEKS.

Paige Miles – “It’s All Right Now” – At the beginning she sounded a little sharp (or flat? or just off?), but she seemed to get more comfortable after the first verse. She can definitely sing – but I think maybe a different, less karaoke-ish song would have been better. She’s one of the contestants we didn’t see very much during the audition shows, and I appreciate that she went for a little bit of a rock-ish vibe. I like her.

Ashley Rodriguez – “Happy” – I always feel like a ballad is a bad call on the first show. It’s like being at a wedding where there’s a really long solo during the lighting of the unity candle and everybody ends up shifting uncomfortably in their seats while the bride and groom stare at each other. Good times. So while I think Ashley can sing, I think she needs to sing something that shows off her personality next week. Not that anyone cares what I think, of course.

Janell Wheeler – “What About Love” – I’m seriously not trying to be a Nellie Negativity, but I think Heart songs are tricky for this early in the show – it’s a whole lot of earnest for this early in our “Idol” relationship. Plus, Janell always struck me as sort of quirky and eclectic during auditions, and this song was a completely different direction. Good voice, though.

Lilly Scott – “Fixing A Hole” – I’ve never heard this song in my life, and I think it’s a little weird, but I don’t mind it so much because I really like her voice. It was a little rough at the beginning, but I feel like she stuck with the music she loves, and it totally worked for her. The weirdness of the song was just a little bit off-putting – but in the most charming way.

Katelyn Epperly – “Oh, Darlin'” – Confession: I rolled my eyes a little bit when Ryan announced her song. I worried a little bit that it was going to sound like something from a high school talent show. But she absolutely surprised me. She took command of the stage, and she has a big voice. Definitely one to watch.

Haeley Vaughn – “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” – She reminds me so much of Sarah Jessica Parker in “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” that I CANT STAND IT. Cute as a button. I thought she started off strong, but the problem was that she didn’t have anywhere to go after the first verse – she’d sort of maxed out volume-wise – which led to a very shrill-y chorus and second verse. She’s so infectious, and I loved the arrangement – but I thought the vocals were lacking a little bit.

Lacey Brown – “Landslide” – I adore this song and am tempted to make an exception to my no-ballad-on-the-first-show rule for it. HOWEVER, I thought this performance was odd. It felt like she was about a half a beat behind the music the whole way through. I just never felt any real connection between her and the song. Her voice is normally so lovely and unique, but on this particular song it just sounded shaky. Bless her heart.

Michelle Delamor – “Falling” – Songs like this one are a little bit of a trap – because it’s one of those songs that’s so associated with the person who recorded it that you almost have to completely re-do the arrangement to avoid the karaoke label. And sadly, I think karaoke applies here a little bit. She has a good voice, but it felt like she was singing like Alicia Keyes instead of singing like Michelle. If that makes any sense at all. Which it probably doesn’t. But at least I understand myself. Sort of.

Didi Benami – “The Way I Am” – This performance was weird for me, because as much as I love her voice, her performance made me nervous because I felt like she didn’t know what to do behind the microphone. Maybe a guitar would’ve made her feel more comfortable? I really like her whole vibe – I just felt like she needed a hug.

Siobhan Magnus – “Wicked Game” – Her voice was absolutely beautiful on the chorus, but I thought it was one of the strangest song choices of all time. It’s not exactly a crowd-pleasing song, but it definitely showed her range and how well she can control her voice. I’m intrigued.

Crystal Bowersox – “Hand In My Pocket” – I think she’s something special. And I would listen to her sing just about anything. The end.

Katie Stevens – “Feelin’ Good” – She has a good voice, but she never really found her place during the last half of this song. It felt a little over-rehearsed and pageant-y to me – much more like the talent portion of Miss America than something a teenager would sing on “American Idol.” (Hey! Simon just used the word pageant-y, too! WHAT ARE THE ODDS?)

What did y’all think? Who were your favorites tonight? I really liked Lilly, Katelyn and Crystal the best in this round – but in fairness I have to say that I think it’s an unusually strong group of girls.

(And if anyone’s interested in linking to your own post about tonight’s Idol, let me know in the comments and I’ll add a Mr. Linky to this post ASAP.)

Cereal Offender

I can’t remember what started it, exactly, but a few days ago I found myself in the middle of a very entertaining conversation about cereal.

And just in case you’re thinking that the last part of that sentence is clearly an oxymoron, I will explain.

I’m a fan of cereal, but I don’t buy it all that often because I have a husband who prefers hot food and a son who doesn’t like the same cereals that I do. So whatever cereal I buy usually ends up going stale before we can finish it, and if I’m going to shell out the big bucks for a box of high fructose corn syrup, then you’d better believe I want to get my money’s worth.

And don’t worry – I really do try to avoid the cereals with high fructose corn syrup. We much prefer the ones that are smothered in melted butter and then dipped in milk chocolate.

ANYWAY, somehow a couple of friends and I got on the subject of cereal last Friday, and since David was going to be out of town for a couple of days (which means I wasn’t even going to glance in the direction of my stove, much less turn on a burner), I thought cereal sounded like the perfect food for the weekend. My friends started telling me about a few of their favorite kinds, and I was so inspired by their suggestions that I actually made a list of cereals I’d like to try.

LIVING ON THE EDGE, I AM.

But first, some critical background information.

I grew up eating Frosted Flakes, and it remained my favorite until my sister introduced me to Golden Grahams when I was around eleven or twelve. Golden Grahams and Frosted Mini-Wheats were at the top of my list until I went to college, at which point I fell head over heels in love with Cracklin’ Oat Bran. At some point along the way I decided that it had too many fat grams or calories or something, so I put the COB on the shelf and moved onto less tasty cereal pastures.

I’ve chosen to block all those less tasty cereals from memory. Since they tasted like cardboard and all.

When I was pregnant I was completely addicted to Smart Start, and after Alex was born I returned to my Golden Graham heritage. A few years ago D and I discovered Kashi Go Lean Crunch, and it’s remained a solid favorite, along with the Kashi Oat Flakes and Blueberry Clusters.

By the way, this information is riveting, isn’t it? Almost as riveting as if I were to write a post entitled “Reflections On Soaps I Have Enjoyed Through The Years.”

ANYWAY, this past Friday afternoon Alex and I went to the grocery store, and in light of my goal to not turn on the stove, I couldn’t wait to try a couple of the cereals on my list. I bought these two boxes.

I would now like to report my findings.

(And please know that nobody asked me to talk about these cereals. I only do review stuff through BlogHer, and when I do a review through them, it goes on a separate page on my blog. Just so we’re clear. Aren’t disclaimers fun?)

(SO fun.)

Okay. The cereals.

Cheerios Crunch – Delightful. Not too sweet. Bits of granola, which are always a plus. Not nearly as sugary as a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios, but way more flavorful than a bowl of regular Cheerios. Will definitely buy these again. A. liked them, too. This would be a really good dessert cereal, and if you’re unfamiliar with occasionally eating cereal for dessert, then clearly I have overshared.

Blueberry Muffin Frosted Mini Wheats – Enjoyable. Blueberry flavor smells a little artificial (because, well, it’s artificial), but it tastes a whole lot like the blueberries in blueberry muffin mix. Very filling and not nearly as sweet as you think it would be (which is a plus). Will definitely buy again – but only when we’re having company, because I’m the only person in our house who liked these.

So. All that being said – what are your cereal favorites right now? Any recommendations you’d like to share? Any hidden treasures on the cereal aisle?

I’ll just be sitting here making a list of my favorite soaps while I read your comments.

Help Haiti Live – February 27th

Help Haiti February 27th – HelpHaitiLive.com from Compassion International on Vimeo.

Buy tickets to the LA show.

Buy tickets to the Nashville show.

Edited to add: here’s the line-up of artists for both events.