People Underestimate the Value of a Good Ramble

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Casey Abrams, You Put A Spell On Me

Sadly, I'm once again watching American Idol as it airs, so I can't fast forward. I'm not sure why I do this to myself.

OK, please explain to me why the American Idols are going to the British Consulate to celebrate this royal wedding thing. Why do they care about it? Why does anyone care?

Now on to the group Carole King medley. Remember the good old days, like two seasons ago, when this was all pre-recorded? At least then everyone was almost on tune and they did special stuff to make it sound like their voices blended. We didn't have any of that tonight. I'd like to forget all about what I just saw and heard. Please.

Crystal Bowersox. I always liked her. I'm not sure I was thrilled with that song, but I still like her.

After some random and totally unnecessary questions from fans, we get to the elimination part of the elimination show.

Ryan calls them up one at a time.  Haley Reinhart is first. She may be safe this week, but talking back to Jimmy may make her not do so well next ....oh, no, wait, no one cares what you say to Jimmy.

Scotty McCreery is called up next and Ryan doesn't give him his result. Instead he calls up Lauren Alaina. As much as it makes me a bad person to pick on a child, I'd be happy to  have her in the B3, just this once. OK?   She is also asked to take a seat while Ryan continues.  The fourth person called up is Casey Abrams and he has to wait, too.

After the break, we get to re-live what James Durbin sang last night and what the judges said.  He's safe......but wait, this means either Lauren or Scotty  is in the B3. Right? Right??

Last, we have Jacob Lusk and he is joined by Scotty, Lauren and Casey.  And Lauren is safe. What? I can't believe that Scotty is actually in the B3.

Bruno Mars sang. I don't know who he is, but every time I hear his name, I think of Bruce Willis and The Return of Bruno.

Jacob is safe so clearly, Casey is gone. And he is.

I'm not sure I want to watch this show anymore. I stopped watching the year Constantine was voted out at sixth place, too. I may do that this year, cause I honestly don't care about any of these other people.

At all.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Will We Still Love Them Tomorrow?

I don't have to try to remember the kids names tonight on American Idol. Ryan just lined them all up (hopefully in singing order) and named them off for me. Thanks, Ry. Although, to be honest, I probably would have been able to name them myself since there are only six left and I've been watching them sing since January.

OK, now I'm confused, this week is Carole King and Babyface week? How does that work? And why?

So now, on to the singing.....

Jacob Lusk: Oh No, Not My Baby - I don't think I know this song and I've been alive for a long time. How does Jacob know this song? I said I was going to try to pay more attention to what else was happening on the show tonight, and not just listen. But then I took a look at Jacob's outfit. Now I remember why I don't pay attention. I found it all so distracting, the yellow shirt and the blue vest and the purple bow tie and the plaid jacket and what all, that I have no idea what he sounded like. I don't think I liked it.

Lauren Alaina: Where You Lead - Is anyone else getting the feeling that we're being had? I don't buy that all the sudden Lauren doesn't know she can sing. One of the things I've hated the most about her is her insufferable precociousness and ego. She's not unsure of herself, they're just trying to get us to like her better. Maybe they just want me to like her better. It's not happening.

This show is getting so completely staged, it's hard to figure out if anything that happens is actually real anymore. For instance, if they didn't want Jimmy Iovine to say that Alaina was a stronger singer than Miley Cyrus, they would have edited it out. They showed it, therefore, they wanted it in there. How stupid do they think we are??

We have a new category this evening: duets. Clearly, they have to use up this hour and half in some way.

Duet No. 1 - Casey Abrams and Haley Reinhart: I Feel The Earth Move - Moanin' was better. But this wasn't terrible. The harmonies were a little weak and the dancing was...well, it just was. I kinda get the feeling that Haley is getting better and Casey is getting worse.

Scotty McCreery: You've Got a Friend - He just proved last week on elimination night that he could sing without the country twang. But this week, he delivers lyrics like "don't you let'em." Sigh. I'm sure his fans will love that, but I still don't get country.

Did JLo just say "for me for you?" I'm sorry, but that's Randy's trademark. You'll have to pay him to use that.

James Durbin: Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow - Um. I kinda sorta think that James just had a moment there. Probably one of the only real moments we've had all of this season. For the very first time, ever, I liked James. If I was making the choices, I'd have had him dial back a little on some of the screams, but I  guess those are what make it his own, which is the whole point.

Duet No. 2 - Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina: Up On The Roof - Seriously, these two singing together? I never would have thought of that, but now that you pointed it out, they seem to go well together. Can they please sing a country song??  Maybe they could be in the Top 2. OK, that was just seriously dull. I think I actually fell asleep.

Casey Abrams: Hi De Ho - OK, Casey does not have the strongest vocals. I think we can all agree on that. But he seriously has something. He's a show man; he just makes it fun and interesting. He entertains. I might even pay to see him. Maybe.

Haley Reinhart: Beautiful - The arrangement of this song was a little weird for me. If I've heard it before, I didn't recognize it from that rendition. Haley was much stronger on the chorus than she was on the verses, and she was better on the duet song than this song, but even so this was still one of the best of the night.

Duet No. 3 - Jacob Lusk and James Durbin: I'm Into Something Good - Sadly for Jacob and James, they are the two left over and are now forced to sing together. That was almost cute. I guess they did take it to church.

My bottom three is Jacob, Alaina and Scotty. I doubt America agrees with me.  But they should.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Why Do You Watch Idol?

It's occurred to me, from reading other reviews, that I really don't talk too much about all the little details of American Idol. See, there's a reason for that. I really don't pay too much attention while watching American Idol.  To be honest, I don't pay that much attention to anything I watch. I'm almost always trying to do more than one thing at a time. Almost always. I'm one of those people that can't just sit. If I'd been alive 100 years ago, I'd be embroidering or something.

Since I'm alive now, I mess around on Twitter or play games on my phone. Or in the case of Idol, I try to write a blog post while the show is happening. I generally post them without too much revision afterwards, too. (And if you read them, you are probably well aware of that fact, due to the amount of errors and the lack of their making any actual sense.)

Anyway, I was feeling guilty that other people take good notes and really comment on everything. What people are wearing, how they fixed their hair, what the judges say. You know, all the irrelevant crap. I don't care about any of that. I never notice what people are wearing unless it's just really terrible, like that weird diapery jump suit that Pia wore that one time cause Gwen Stefani made her. I noticed that.

But, and I know this is crazy talk, I always thought American Idol was supposed to be a singing contest. So I really just try to listen to how they sound, regardless of how bad they look dancing, or how they hold the mike or what insane outfit they've decided to wear.

I can guarantee you I'm not gonna be seeing any of these people in concert (well, except for the one lapse I make each year of going to the Idol concert) but there is a slight, slight chance I might buy a CD or at least download a song or two.

Therefore, I only care about how they sound. I don't even care that much.

Speaking of buying music, I've bought very little Idol music over the years and I've never spent any money on music from any of the winners.

Monday, April 25, 2011

To Speak English or Not to Speak English

I read an article about a little girl who was stuck in Guatemala for several weeks because she was denied admission into the US to be with her parents.

But that's not exactly what happened.  Apparently, her parents are illegal immigrants and their 4 yr old child had been visiting with her grandparents for a few months.  When her grandfather tried to bring her back to her parents he was stopped (at Dulles, I believe) for some 20 year old issue with his visa. This is where it gets sticky.

Officials say they contacted the parents and gave them some options. They could come get their child, they could send someone else to come get the child, the child could be placed into some sort of social services care until they got her or she could go back to Guatemala with her grandfather.

According to the parents of the child, their daughter could either go back with the grandfather or she would be placed in foster care.

Part of the problem here is that the man - although he has been in this country (illegally, I might add) since 1996 - doesn't speak English well enough to understand what choices he was being offered.  His attorney feels it was the government official's responsibility to provide someone who could interpret for them. Presumably at the cost of the government (and for that phrase, you should always read "At the taxpayers expense") but I think if your child is at stake, you should find your own interpreter.

Look, I'm no fan of the government, but in this instance, I don't think they did the wrong thing.  They didn't want to let the man into the country and they have every right to keep him out. The only issue was what to do with a 4 yr old, who could clearly not be left on her own. They asked the parents and were told to send her back to Guatemala.

The part of this story that most upsets me, though, is the fact that these parents, who have been living here since 1996 - that's 15 years! - still couldn't speak enough English to have a pretty straight forward conversation with a government official.

I went to France once, about 10 years ago. I was only there for 5 days, but I took the time to learn some rudimentary French before I went. I got a CD and spent about two weeks learning phrases. I'm no language expert, but I think I did pretty well. I was our official interpreter for the trip. Seriously.  I certainly wasn't fluent or anything, but I could hold a basic conversation. After studying only two weeks at maybe 1/2 hour a day. If I had 15 years of living in France, I'd be fluent. Very, very fluent.

And don't try to say that if you're younger, it's easier to learn. I was not that young. (I was in my late 30's actually, but if you tell anyone, I'll have to hurt you.) Also, I had never taken any French in school or anything like that, unless you count that one day (I think it was in 7th or 8th grade) when my friend and I were so bored with a study hall period, we convinced the French teacher to let us sit in on a class cause we were thinking of changing over from Spanish. But honestly, can you really count anything that happened back in the 70s?

People, I have no problem if you want to live in the United States. It's an amazing place and I'm happy to live here myself. I even understand why some people come here illegally. I wish they didn't, but I understand.  All that being said, once you get here, you should try to do whatever you need to do to become legal.

Or at least to learn the language.

Of course, another issue raised is the fact that the parents could have faced deportation themselves if they went to pick up their child. So maybe they understood just fine.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter isn't Easter without Pastia

Pastia is a dish we make every Easter. I always thought my grandma made it up, but just this year I found another pastia recipe that was similar (although it was more of a dessert, sort of a pasta custard).

This is a side dish, but we make huge pans of it because everyone wants to take some home after dinner.

It's also a big mess to make, because you mix it with your hands.  I have to get everything all set up beforehand, because your hands and arms get all covered in goo and you can't touch anything else.

Even though this is full of raw eggs, I still taste it as I go along, but you really don't have to if you aren't comfortable with eating the raw egg. But really, it's got so much cheese and butter, you don't even notice the egg.

We slice it and eat it hot or cold. It's awesome right out of the oven, all warm and cheesy. But it's just as good later, right out of the fridge.

So here goes.....

(we pronounce this Ba-STEE-ya)

6 lbs pasta (I generally use some combination of Rigatoni, Penne, Fettucine, 
                  Bucatini or Perciatelli or Maccheroncelli, and Spaghettoni)

9 sticks butter
3 dozen eggs
24 oz of grated parmesan cheese
8 oz of grated romano cheese
Salt and pepper

Cook the pasta according to package directions for al dente pasta.  Be sure to salt the water well.  You can also put a small amount of oil into the water to keep the pasta from sticking.

Once the pasta is cooked, place all of it into a large pan or bowl on a table where you can reach down into the pan/bowl. (I actually use two pans because I don't have one big enough for the whole thing. I just put some of each pasta into each bowl.) Add 1 1/2 sticks of butter to each pound of pasta and mix through with a large utensil. Pasta will be very hot!

Allow the pasta to cook slightly and then add eggs a few at a time (about 6 eggs per pound of pasta). Just break them into the pasta bowl and mix with your hands. Add cheese (a little at a time) and continue mixing.

You are looking for a certain consistency, not too dry (which means too much cheese) or too wet (too many eggs).  Add salt and pepper as you go. It should seem like it's a little over seasoned for it to have enough taste once it's done.

Place the thoroughly mixed pasta into large lasagna pans (butter them first).  This recipe makes two lasagna pans full.

Sprinkle more grated parmesan and some grated black pepper on top.

Bake 375 for about an hour to 75 mins, til solid through and golden brown on top.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The (Un)Surprising Elimination of Stefano Langone

To be honest, I didn't really watch American Idol tonight.

Well, I mean to say, I watched it, but I wasn't watching. I had a lot to do and I just didn't have time to focus on the show and take notes like I usually do. But I think we can all agree that it's not necessary to watch every moment of the elimination show anyway.

So let's just chat about the important parts.

There were a  couple of uncomfortable group numbers, the first was Hey Soul Sister with Jacob Lusk, Stefano Langone, Haley Reinhart and Lauren Alaina.  This was just as bad as I thought it would be.

Then we had Casey Abrams, Scotty McCreery and James Durbin singing Coldplay's Viva la Vida.  When I first heard that these three would be singing together, I couldn't quite imagine how that would work out. But, actually, they sounded better together than I thought they would. Also, it appears Scotty doesn't have to twang. HE JUST DOES THAT ON PURPOSE. Why would anyone do that on purpose? Sigh.

So then we have the eliminations. The B3 was Jacob, Stefano and Haley.

To the surprise of absolutely no one, Stefano is heading home tonight. And really, wasn't it about time he was put out of his misery?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Casey Abrams, A Little More Equal Than Other Men

Songs of the 21st century. American Idol's way of making me detest this season even more than I thought possible. I also heard that the mentor is Bruce Springsteen. Well, that makes a kind of sense that's NOT. Of course, when you stop to think about it, this whole season has made little to no sense, starting with the judges, who have made themselves completely irrelevant. Don't even get me started about Jimmy Iovine.

It actually makes me wonder, if they just left the stand in judges in place for the live show, would anyone even notice?

Um....someone please tell me, what's the point of forcing us to watch all these people that we already voted off the show singing? I mean, we've basically said we don't like them, right? Oh, Idol, why do you insist on wasting my time each and every week with all this silly randomness.  If you want us to see a performance we'd enjoy, why not get Aerosmith? Not only are they more relevant to the 21st century than Bruce Springsteen, they're also actual rock stars.

OK, on to the singing competition part of this singing competition.....

Scotty McCreery: Swingin', Leann Rimes - Oh, look Scotty singing a country song. That's the way to change it up, buddy. No one can get complacent about you now. I just can't say anything about this. I hate it, like I hate all country music and have now come to hate little Scotty.

On a positive note, for the first time this season, I remembered everyone's name without having to look them up.

James Durbin: Uprising, Muse - I had to rewind and listen to his package about five times to figure out what song he was singing. I just kept missing it cause I'm dog sitting for a friend and Missy wanted my attention for some reason. Maybe she doesn't like James either. So, he was energetic, but just because you can scream in a high pitch, that doesn't mean you're a good singer. James does not have good vocals and no amount of screaming will make it so.

Just for comparison, I watched some vids of Aerosmith singing Dream On, from the 70's through 2005. It was always awesome and the screams were interestingly on key.

Haley Reinhart: Rolling in the Deep, Adele - How come Casey didn't give his opinion of Haley, I wonder. As I could have predicted, I haven't recognized one song yet. (I've never even heard of Adele, but don't tell anyone.) That's not always an issue, if the songs are good and they do a good job with them. But to be honest, I'm not sure what I thought of that. It was a little boring.

Oh, sorry, according to JLo, everybody is supposed to know all these songs really well. I guess I'm nobody.

Jacob Lusk: Dance With My Father, Luther Vandross - Jacob kinda lucked out that Luther had a hit in this century, especially one that allowed him to call on the dear Lord. But since I'm being so honest tonight, I just wasn't feeling that. Plus, it didn't make Randy jump up and down, but I would have thought that was a good thing.

Uh....there was a problem with the track? This isn't live music? What am I missing here?

Casey Abrams: Harder to Breathe, Maroon 5 - Casey has flames tonight, so the Idol PTB clearly like him. But so do I. I do like him, too. Another plus, I recognized the song.  But Casey took it to a Casey place, which is exactly what should be happening to every song every week. I'm not saying he has the strongest vocals, cause he clearly doesn't, but he has something else. He makes the songs over into his own version, plus he's interesting and you just don't know what he's going to do next.

But someone please tell me, why does this show always go so completely off the rails whenever Casey sings? Even Ryan seems to have lost his mind.

Of course, suddenly it hits me as to why there's been so much bleeping out of inappropriate language this year. Steven Tyler. I don't know why that didn't occur to me sooner.

Stefano Langone: Closer, Ne-Yo - I  have heard this song before, so that makes three in a row that I actually knew. Sort of. The thing is, there were more background vocals than lead vocal. That's not really a good thing. And when he did sing, it sounded a little nasally to me. As usual, the judges are telling him how amazing he sounded. Why can't they see that when they tell everyone that they sound awesome, it makes no one awesome? Sigh.

Lauren Alaina: Born to Fly, Sara Evans - Once again, she hits all the notes and she's definitely adequate. But I don't get all the hype. Maybe she'll surprise me one week, but I'm not holding my breath.

Before giving my opinion, can I just say that I actually listed these kids in the order they sang. I did! I listed them and they sang in the order I had them listed. How does that even happen?

My B3 is everyone who isn't Casey. But that probably won't happen.

It's probably going to be Stefano, Jacob and Haley. Although I do worry about Casey.

Especially cause I think Vote for the Worst may have chosen Jacob now that Paul McDonald is out of the running. That could skew the vote this week in a bad way.

But seriously if I was picking, Lauren, James and Scotty would be in there, too.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Casey Abrams is on Twitter...And So Are Those Other People

I just started thinking about popularity and how it relates to Twitter. 

So last night, after American Idol, I went to look at the twitter pages of the top 8.  But what I found out is that the amount of followers an Idol has on Twitter has nothing to do with how many votes they get. 


Here's the list of the Top 8 in order of followers:

Scotty McCreery - @SMcCreeryAI10  86,346 Followers
Casey Abrams - @CAbramsAI10 79,792 Followers
Paul McDonald - @PMcDonaldAI10  71,846 Followers
Lauren Alaina - @LAlainaAI10 68,527 Followers
James Durbin - @JDurbinAI10 58,898 Followers
Stefano Langone - @SLangoneAI10 53,300 Followers
Haley Reinhart - @HReinhartAI10   43,222 Followers
Jacob Lusk - @JLuskAI10 32,981 Followers

I also checked my blog stats last night and found out that other than my posts about bats and rabies, the ones with Casey's name in the title got the most page views.  Hence the post title.

Hey....maybe my next blog title should be "Casey Abrams Doesn't Have Rabies."

Best Thing I Saw This Week

Created by Josh Eckert.  
OK, this is just super cool.

And I actually turned even more geeky as I uttered those words.

The very best part is my sign....I'm Undead!!  Well, duh.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Leaving Idol With No Rose Colored Suits

So they're doing the group song as group songs again this week on American Idol.  And surprise, surprise Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina are together again. I wonder if they already have the winner song written for them as the Top 2?

The zombie thing is fun. I'm a fan of vampires and zombies. Hmmm, so two weeks ago they got fitted for the zombie makeup? How did they know who would still be on the show?

The next group is Casey Abrams and Haley Reinhart. That was awesome (and in case no one else is keeping score, Casey just got two standing Os in two days). These two were so much more amazing that the first two, how can anyone not like them and like Scotty and Lauren better?

Straight from that to eliminations.  First up are Casey, Haley, Scotty and Lauren. Sadly, I think only Casey or Haley will be in the B3 from this group. And it's Haley. But at least Casey is safe.

Even though I started late tonight, there's been very little fast forwarding. For one thing, I had to watch the Rob Reiner thing, cause, you know, Meathead!!  But then, my husband is watching with me and it's almost like he cares more than I do. So we also watch the Kelly Clarkson/Jason Aldean thing. It was OK.

Now, all the rest of the guys (Jacob Lusk, James Durbin, Paul McDonald, Stefano Langone) get to sing a song together. I was unimpressed. My husband has decided that "the two guys sitting" are in the B3. And he's probably right. It's possible that Stefano and Jacob will be joining Haley on the silver stools. And if that's the line up, I almost think that it will be Jacob leaving. But I could be totally wrong.

Well, I guess I am.  Paul is in the B3 and not Jacob.  This makes me a little worried about Paul.

Because he doesn't know who she is, my husband is forcing me to watch Rhianna as well.  Please remind me to never watch the results show with him again. I can usually get through the entire hour in under 15 mins, but this week it's taken 35 mins already.

So, finally, we get to the point. The person leaving Idol tonight is....Paul. That's sad, but at this point, I'm OK with anyone going home who isn't Casey.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Heavy Metal Idol?

I finally figured out why American Idol has no exciting weekly guest mentors this year. I did stop to consider that most reputable artists just refused to have their names sullied, but then I realized that they never really dealt with people who had too much credibility to begin with.  In any case, I solved this mystery when I came to the conclusion that they've been blowing their budget on whatever drugs they're slipping into Steven Tyler's Coke cup.

Seriously, what happened to him? Before the live shows, he actually gave interesting and on spot critiques. Since the live shows, he's basically just been acting like one of those trained seals; you know, the ones who clap their flippers together and then someone throws them a fish.

I'd like it to stop, please.

On to the singing.

Paul McDonald: Old Time Rock and Roll, Bob Seeger - Maybe Paul should have taken the advice about wearing his underwear and sliding in onto the stage. Cause, that suit, it was just wrong. Seriously, seriously wrong.  I didn't think he was bad vocally, but he was totally upstaged by the sax player and his dancing is sorta distracting.  He was high energy though and it looked like he was having fun. I think he may be safe after that.

Lauren Alaina: The Climb, Miley Cyrus - She says "I picked this song because it's about a young girl struggling to reach her dreams by a young girl with a country twang like me and I think I can do a better job." Or at least that's what she meant. The only worrisome part for Ms. Alaina is that they put her in the second place forgettable spot. At least this song is more age appropriate for her and you can't fault her vocals, they are always adequate and enthused. I just don't like her.

I kept an Excel spreadsheet one year, marking out where each person sang and when they were cut from the competition.  Statistically, people who sing in the first half, but after first place, were more likely to be voted off that particular week, with second and third place being the worst spots. Until the final three when the first place person is usually the one to go. I don't have that info anymore, so I can't prove it. But I remember it.

Also, JLo? It's not stealing votes if Pia is no longer competing.

Stefano Langone: End of the Road, Boyz II Men - He should have been singing like this all along. Sure, he got lost behind all the background singers once or twice, but he definitely had his moment there. Maybe boy band is his m├ętier and he should stick with it from this point forward. He's probably gonna milk another week out of that performance.

Scotty McCreery: I Cross My Heart, George Strait - So Scotty picked the country song over the not so country song, which he somehow still managed to make sound like a country song. He was better last week, even if it was more hokey. This was just boring. I don't say he's gonna get voted off or anything, but that wasn't his best for sure.

Casey Abrams: Nature Boy, Nat King Cole - Casey really cleaned up his hair and beard this week. Wow, he looks so much better.  And, wow, Jimmy, way to throw Casey under the bus. But, fortunately for  him, Jimmy was wrong, cause that was really great.  Casey is cool and he had a moment there. He's almost making me want to vote for him.

Haley Reinhart: Call Me, Blondie - This song is my ring tone. I also work out to it. I like it. So I may be a little biased. I thought Haley did a mostly good job and she kept the growling to a minimum, but she missed a couple of spots where she could have really hit it and she didn't. Haley is adorable and if more guys were voting, she might actually stay in this thing until Top  5. But I don't think that's gonna happen.

Jacob Lusk: Bridge Over Troubled Water, Simon & Garfunkel - Every week when I start my review, I type all the names in and every week, there's always at least one person who I can't remember. This week, it was Jacob.  Maybe I just blocked him out because I was too busy looking in the mirror. Whatever. I was glad to hear Jimmy slap him around for that, but then I immediately felt bad, cause he's just a kid and he probably didn't mean it the way it sounded. That was a solid gospel sounding performance from Jacob and the ending was just spot on. I'd like to think that makes him safe, but I'm not so sure. It may be too little, too late.

James Durbin: Heavy Metal, Sammy Hagar - It makes me a little unhappy to think that this annoying Adam Lambert wannabe is probably gonna make it to the Top 3. He's not only annoying, he's smug and he thinks he's better than he is. Look, I'm a Sammy Hagar fan, but I wasn't impressed with that screaming mess. That guitar player was amazing, can I vote for him?

Being honest, the girls were truly the weakest tonight. But I can't really decide who else should be in the B3, cause if it was my call it would be Scotty or James, but I think they are both way too popular. So it will probably going to be Jacob or Stefano. Maybe Paul.

OK, I have no idea.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Being Sorta Human

Contrary to my original plan, I started watching Syfy's version of Being Human. Then I kept watching it. I didn't really like it, but I wasn't quite able to put my finger on why. Well, that's not exactly true either, cause I read this blog post after the first couple of eps at Rob Will Review (@robwillb)....this post..... and it basically said what I was feeling.

But let me explain a little more first.

I love, love, love the British version of Being Human. I love it. I even remember where I first heard about it, on SciFiMafia. (And let me just add right here that the reason I've found these two great sites and met some awesome people, like SciFiMafia's managing editor, Lillian @zenbitch Standefer, is cause of Twitter. Just saying.) Being Human is an amazing show. So when Syfy said they were making their own version, my question was why? We already have this great show, why make it over again? Additionally, I'm not generally a fan of American re-makes of British shows. I think they lose something in the translation.

Case in point, The Office. I know, I know. Every other person in the world thinks the American version is hilarious. I don't. I just find it embarrassing and uncomfortable. I can't even stay in the room when it's on. Seriously. But I've seen episodes of the British version and I think it's funny. It's like we take the humor (or should I say humour) out and just make it . . . wrong.

So, back to Syfy's Being Human. I saw the first couple of eps and decided I wasn't interested. I almost stopped watching. But I follow Craig Engler (@Syfy) on Twitter, too, and he was so excited by the show, I felt like a traitor. I watched another ep. I began to see how they were following the same basic script as the first season (although they also had the second and third season's scripts to look at, too) and just varied it a little, but increasingly more. At one point, as the changes increased. I began to think that if they just stopped trying to make it the same and made it completely different, maybe I could like it. It would be a different show that just happened to have the same title and premise.

In other words, if the story lines were new, not rehashed and slightly changed for some reason (to make it more American maybe? whatever that means), I might not hate it.

Since I felt like I didn't want to keep watching and I felt guilty not watching, I did the next best thing, I DVR'd the eps, but didn't watch them. I didn't erase them either, although I came close a couple of times, when I needed the space. So there they sat.

Finally, I realized I needed to either watch or delete (or, you know, both). So I did it. I started watching again. I still didn't like it. Even ignoring all the bits that they changed, and not for the better, there's the fact that they are taking almost three times as long to say half as much. The Brit first season had 6 nearly complete hours of well-written, tightly packed episodes. The American has 13 episodes that are loose and sloppy and overly dramatic, with way too much whining. (Much like Americans themselves, sadly.)

The changes they made aren't huge, but they are just enough to take away what makes the British show so awesome. Look, if you've never seen the BBC version, this one is probably OK for you.

But let me give you an example (with SPOILERS FOR BOTH SERIES).

In the Brit version, Mitchell (the vampire) befriends a neighbor boy who is being bullied by some other kids. He lets the boy borrow some DVDs and the child mistakenly takes a DVD that was sent to Mitchell of a vampire murdering someone during sex. (Of course, in the Brit version, the vamp doesn't show up on the screen, so it looks like something else.) The mother finds it and calls him some names, the neighbors all jump on it and think that he and George are pedophiles. The boy then gets hit by a car and becomes critically injured. Now Mitchell has to make a choice. He can save the boy's life by turning him, doing a good thing although with some consequences (and even though the mother and the other humans treated him badly) or he can let the boy die, doing a good thing by not making him into what Mitchell himself is, an immortal killer, haunted by his sins of the past.

In the end, to save the mother pain, Mitchell turns the boy and sends the mother and son off together, after teaching them what they need to know for the boy to not make Mitchell's mistakes. lovely and sweet and human is that?

The Syfy version starts out the same, but just goes to a bad place. The sex DVD that Aidan (this version's vamp) is sent shows the female vamp. She is having sex with a guy in a motel room, then she is killing him, covered in blood, gross and in your face. The boy doesn't take the DVD by accident, he purposefully removes it from the shelf in Aidan's room. Then the mother gets mad, but she doesn't attack Aidan, just tells him to stay away from her kid.  The kid has the accident, but Aidan doesn't turn him, the woman he killed...the woman in the video...the woman he is supposed to stay away from but isn't. She turns the boy cause she thinks she's helping. But she can't control the boy who kills the two kids that were bullying him before and, eventually, Aidan has to kill the boy.

Do you see what just happened there? Instead of making it touching and moving and about how our choices make us human, it was about blood and death. Basically.

I stuck it out until the end and I watched the entire first season. But I won't be back. I just wish Syfy had left a great show alone and not stomped around in it with their big dirty boots, making it all sullied and gross.

How Many W-2s Can You File With Your Taxes?

I change jobs often. A lot, even.

It's just that I get so bored. That's not to say that I haven't ever been asked to leave once.  Maybe twice.

But seriously, once I reach that stage, the stage where I'm ready to leave, nothing makes it right. I have to leave. Soon.  I try to give every job a fair shot, but nothing holds my interest for too long. And sometimes, it's not even that. Sometimes I just have to get out before bad stuff happens.  I'm not even talking about bad stuff like my killing someone because they need to die. I'm talking about bad stuff happening around me that I want to absolutely stay as far away from as possible.

Maybe I'll even explain that further some day.

Anyway, add in the crummy state of the economy and the fact that we both need to work more than one job at a time, and we tend to pile on the jobs.

My husband and I did a little math and came to the conclusion that for 2011, we already have six W-2's and one 1099 between us. And it's only April.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Book Studies

What is it with novels having study questions at the back these days? Do I just somehow keep grabbing books from the YA section without realizing it?

No seriously, these aren't classics or anything. Just random everyday novels. So what do I care why someone did what they did or how they felt about it?

I just want to read the book and be entertained and move on. I don't want to keep thinking about it afterwards or dissect the whole thing.

Am I right or am I right?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

I Guess People Have to Like You For You To Stay On American Idol

Not feeling too well tonight, so  my American Idol recap will be short and sweet.

I didn't start watching until after 8:30 and about two minutes into the show, my mom calls me and I have to yell into the phone, "Don't say a word about American Idol cause I haven't watched it yet."  "Oh," she says, "I thought you were watching it too. I'm crying." How is that not saying anything??

Fast forwarding through everything up to this point, we get to the eliminations.

First up on stage is Casey Abrams, Lauren Alaina and Stefano Langone. Well, this kills off my idea that Lauren will be in the bottom three with Stefano, cause I doubt two people from the first group will head to the silver stools. My husband is yelling "fast forward" through all the chatter with Stefano, which I want to, cause he's gonna be gone tonight anyway, so why waste my time with his growth issues.

Lauren is safe. Casey is safe.  Stefano heads to his doom.

CONSTANTINE!!!!!  OK, maybe I just squealed a little. It is good to see that Con is continuing his karaoke career. You know, after Idol (a karaoke contest with people singing old songs) he's been doing Rock of Ages (people singing old song) and now he's releasing two singles, Unchained Melody and 25 or 6 to 4 (two old songs).  Although, it doesn't seem like anyone should sing Unchained Melody on Idol now that Simon is gone.

I wasn't going to watch the Gwen Stefani part, but since my husband has already fallen asleep and since I'm seriously interested in how the girls ended up in such horrific outfits last night, I watched. Not sure I still know what happened, other than the fact that apparently there were no mirrors for them to see themselves in.  Or all three girls and Gwen Stefani just have terrible taste in clothing. Possibly both.

Up next for elimination is Paul McDonald, Scotty McCreery and Pia Toscano. Ooh, now here's a twist, cause you know Paul is safe since he went last and Scotty is way too popular (for some completely unknown reason) to be in the bottom 3 yet. So it must be Pia.  Weird. And it is. Paul and Scotty are safe.

Final set of eliminations is with James Durbin, Haley Reinhart and Jacob Lusk. Gotta think it's Jacob, although I guess it could be Haley. I doubt it'll be James. Yes, it's Jacob.

At this point, my sister calls me. Once again I'm holding the phone away from my ear and yelling at it, "Don't say anything, I haven't watched yet and if you say anything, I'll have to kill you. Besides, I already know it's gonna be Stefano."  My sister, "You're gonna die. Just call me when it's over."  How is this not saying anything??? Of course, now I know it must be Pia.

I wanted to fast forward through Iggy Pop, cause his lack of clothing was grossing me out, but my husband woke up and wanted to watch it. (Then he said, "Gross! That's why God created clothes.")  And tell me something, what's with all the bleeped out swearing on Idol this year? I don't remember so much of it in other years.

Now, it's the final elimination....and it's Pia.  OK, that was a surprise. I thought she would sail through to the Top 5 on her good looks alone.  And that's aside from the fact that she's one of the few this season who actually sings every note on key.

I realize that the judges are sad to see her go, but maybe they could have been a little nicer about it so as to not make poor Stefano feel like they wanted him to leave.

Back-to-Back Buffy

I finished my Buffy re-watch on Sunday.  I saw all 144 episodes in 36 days.

I guess it sounds a little crazy, but I'm proud of myself.

Some years my re-watch goes on for months and months and by the time I finish it's time to start again.  You know, for the next year's re-watch.

Yes, I re-watch Buffy every single year.

Yes, I'm not well.

But being goal-oriented is a good thing. Right?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

When a Man Loves an Idol

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame week on American Idol.  Rather than think about the songs that might be sung tonight, I find myself wondering if everyone went to Cleveland or if Steven went there all alone. Cause that's the kinda chick I am. is the mentor?? That's the same guy who couldn't carry a tune to save his life last week, right?

Jacob Lusk: Let's Get It On, Marvin Gaye Man in the Mirror, Michael Jackson - This is not my favorite MJ song. Also, Jacob didn't add anything too great to it, but I do give him props for picking a song that meshed better with his convictions.

Haley Reinhart: Take Another Little Piece of My Heart, Janis Joplin -  I'm torn. Parts of that were amazing, but there's just this little something in her growling sound that turns me off. I can't quite put my finger on it, but it's like a phony accent. It just sounds wrong.

Casey Abrams: Every Little Thing She Does is Magic, The Police Have You Ever Seen the Rain, Creedence Clearwater Revival - So I guess this the week for changing song choices. While The Police song is one of my very favorite of all time, I think CCR was the better choice for Casey. It wasn't anything amazing, but it was solid and he made it sound like his, and that's a good thing.

Lauren Alaina: You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman, Aretha Franklin - Steven Tyler making googly eyes at this little girl makes me feel like a creeped out woman.  I can't really fault her singing, she's competent. But I don't think she's anything amazing. I don't understand why the judges aren't telling her - as in past years - that she's singing songs that are too old for her. Maybe it's cause she doesn't act her age.

James Durbin: While My Guitar Gently Weeps, George Harrison - I'd be a little scared if I was James, just cause I'm not sure his voice can hold up to a song that needs to be sung rather than screamed. I guess I needn't have worried, cause he managed to get a scream in there at the end.

Scotty McCreery: That's Alright, Elvis - This kid is gonna win, isn't he? My friend Sandy has been insisting that since the beginning, not that she likes him, but just cause he's so country and people seem to like country music for some reason. But I got news for Randy, he's still a one trick pony, cause it's not really a stretch for a country singer to sing Elvis music.

Pia Toscano: River Deep, Mountain High, Tina Turner - Where does this chick get her clothes? Everyday Woman, Mom's R Us. She needs some serious fashion advice. And this is coming from someone who wears pjs all day every day. Honestly, I was so caught up in the ugliness of her outfit that I missed what she did. I heard the glory note at the end, though, and as we all know, it's all about the glory note.

Look, Todd Rundgren in the audience. How the mighty have fallen.  Isn't he the one who Liv Tyler thought was her father for years until she found out it was really Steven Tyler?

Stefano Langone: When a Man Loves a Woman, Percy Sledge - I hate to say it, but I think even if the kid nails it this week, his days on this show are numbered. Stefano did a solid job. It won't help him, but he did a solid job.

Paul McDonald:  Folsom Prison Blue, Johnny Cash - Paul is in the pimp spot tonight.  Good for him. I don't he's gonna last long either, though, but I'm pretty sure that no one has ever been voted off when they were in the pimp spot. Plus, he's finally singing something upbeat and fast paced. Double plus, that was actually kinda good.

I think the bottom three will be Stefano, Jacob and Lauren, with Stefano leaving us. But maybe I'm wrong.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Cherry Tree Soaps

You may recall that a few weeks ago I posted about my nieces and their businesses.

At that time, when I posted some pictures of the soaps and lotions my niece Kristine had made, she didn't have her website active yet.  But now she does.  Her business is called Cherry Tree Soaps and the site is now up and running.

Her stuff is awesome, it's all natural and handmade, and it all smells amazing. 

Plus, for the month of April, you can get a 15% discount on all products if you use the coupon code GRANDOPENING so  you should definitely check it out.

You're welcome. 

My Chili Recipe

Just sharing another recipe.  This is a quick go-to meal for me, easy to make, warm and comforting. People seems to like it, too. I taught this one in cooking class and it seems like most of the girls have made it since, more than once.

I will admit that the recipe may be missing some amounts, cause I don't measure anything really and chili is really all so arbitrary. It's all about your taste, so if you want it spicier, add more chili powder, if you want it smokier, more cumin, hotter, more hot sauce, tangier, more brown sugar.

2 lbs ground beef
1 large vidalia onion, chopped
1 large green pepper, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large can diced tomatoes
3 cans tomato soup
1 can chili beans
Chili powder, cumin
2-3 Tbls Brown sugar
Hot sauce
Salt and Pepper
2 tbls Flour
1/2-1 cup beef or chicken broth
  • Brown meat in large pot with a little oil, add onions, green pepper and garlic. Let veggies start to soften.
  • Add salt and pepper, spices, a couple of shots of hot sauce and the brown sugar. 
  • Add flour and allow to cook for a couple of minutes.  Then add broth and stir to thicken. 
  • Add beans, tomatoes and tomato soup, more salt, pepper and chili powder (to taste). 
  • Allow to cook over low heat for at least half an hour, stirring occasionally.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Doctor Who Extended Trailer

The new season of Doctor Who is starting in a few weeks. This new extended trailer just makes me so happy, I have to post it here.

Like so many others, I was afraid when Matt Smith took over last year that I wouldn't love him as much as I loved David Tennant. But I have no idea why I felt that way since I've been watching DW since the late 70's and I loved all the doctors, some more equally than others, but still....

Anyway, there's no real point to this post, I just wanted to share.