May 2004

There Is A Sucker, Born Every Minute.

I swore I wasn’t going to get wrapped up in it, but I did. I’m such a goon. Of course I’m talking about American Idol.

Last year I spewed out all sorts of negativity in my blog about Ruben Studdard winning over Clay Aiken. I stand by that. I thought the poor thing was going to pass out during his performance tonight and he sucked as usual. I don’t know if he’s a nice guy or not, but I really hate his voice. On the flip side, Clay Aiken is a breath of fresh air, and his single “Invisible” is a true pop classic. Earl hates it when it comes on the radio or CD, because I have to crank up “the bridge” and he has to listen to my praise about “classic pop music structure.” See? That year in SUNY Fredonia’s music program taught me something.

Which brings us to this year’s finale. Of course, the whole thing could be condensed to the last two minutes and you wouldn’t miss a thing. The single that was written for the winner, “I Believe” is cheesier than a big block of good old 1979 Welfare Cheese. It makes Diane Warren’s lyrics sound like Shakespeare.

At the beginning of this two hour cheese fest we began with Tamyra Gray, a lovely woman with a beautiful voice, who butchered our National Anthem. Our National Anthem, while patriotic, is not the most beautiful song in the world, and she just made it worse. Cluephone to anyone that sings the National Anthem in the future. It’s written to be sung at a fairly lively tempo and the melody is straight forward. It has been sung roughly a million times. Sliding up and down the scale, all over the medley with startling trills in not going to make the National Anthem “Your Own”. It’s still the National Anthem. And drug-induced Whitney Houston be damned, sing it like it’s written. And I speak with authority, as I have sang the National Anthem locally, in front of a crowd of roughly 3,000 people and I sang it straight forward. Granted, every team I’ve sung for has left town at the end of the season, but that’s just a coincidence.

Then we have the Top 12 doing a really bad “can-can” type number which was a medley of all the hits of the guest judges throughout the season. Imagine a drunk D.J. at a club trying to mix “Heaven Knows” into “Mandy” and you’ll get the jist of that train wreck. I have a hard time believe Matt Rogers is 24, he looks 34 (and kind of hunky admittedly). And he’s suffering from “comb-over”. Dude, stop the charade.

Ruben Studdard made his obligatory performance. Cluephone to Ruben, go see a doctor as I really am afraid for your health. It seemed you could barely squeak out your song without suffering from severe dehydration with all your sweating, and the second line is ringing, your songs still suck.

Then to top it off, we have Diana DeGarmo and Fantasia Burrino. Diana is 16, shows a lot of promise vocally and will have a great career someday. She’s a little wet behind the ears, but she shows promise and I wish her well as runner up.

Fantasia, of course, took the American Idol title, because that’s who the judges wanted to win and that’s who America voted for. Personally I can’t watch her because she bounces around so much I suffer from airsickness, and I can’t listen to her because she makes my throat sore with her screeching. She sounds like a 33 RPM Macy Gray record sped up to 45 RPM. Not my thing, but then again, not much on Top 40 radio is not my thing today. But I wish her luck. The two choices were nowhere near the calibur of Kelly Clarkson or Clay Aiken, but they will do for this year.

Now, I’m not watching next year. I know, I know, yeah right.

Stormy Weather.

I’ve been like a little kid in a candy store. I’ve always been fascinated with severe spring and summer weather. The bigger the downpour, the stronger the wind, the louder the thunder, the more fascinated and excited I become.

On Saturday night, Mother Nature gave us quite a spectacular light show with some thunderstorms that passed through the area. Some rain, a little wind, and a lot of thunder and lightning.

That was just a teaser apparently, because Sunday night we had even stronger thunderstorms, with impressive wind and a brilliant lightning display. Four storms barged through between 9:30 and 5:00 a.m. this morning, and I was awake for all of them. I busied myself watching my weather station do it’s thing, tracking the storms on the computer just enjoying the adrenaline rush of the excitement. The neighbors must wonder why the new guy on the block puts on his rain gear and stands out on the front porch in his underwear and rain gear when the radio is telling everyone to stay inside.

Another storm passed through this afternoon, and I got to observe it from the top floor of our office building. Very impressive. I didn’t have the digital camera though, which was a little disappointing, since we watched what appeared to be a tornado on the horizon (still waiting on confirmation on that). Working for a radio station can be very exciting, especially when you’re coordinating EAS (Emergency Alert System) Alerts with the on-air staff trying to get as much information out to the public as quickly as possible.

In other news, Earl and I made it a Jeep Weekend and traveled in the Finger Lakes on Saturday with the sides off the Jeep. The threat of rain kept us from taking the top completely off, though. We did do a couple of “Jeep Top Drills” on Friday so that we would be well prepared for our trip to Oklahoma and Kansas a week from Friday. I’m really getting excited about our upcoming vacation.

People, people being people.

As I’m going through my daily tasks here at work, I let my mind wander for just a moment. For some reason, I recalled my high school years.

There was a teacher in my school that taught special education. Outside of her regular duties, she also assisted with the drama club and a social studies course, “Ethics Class”. So I got to know her fairly well. Her name was (and probably still is) Karen O’Brien. She was present when I came out to myself, at the age of 16 (though I had known since I was six or seven) during one particularly emotional Ethics Class, but that’s another story for another time.

I always admired Karen for one reason – she had an unstoppable zest for life. In the one yearbook, the teachers were polled for various reasons – interests, dislikes, etc. These were printed under their picture.

Karen wrote this for her interest:

Interests: People – I find them fascinating. I haven’t found one yet that didn’t impress me.

What a wonderful thought. I’m going to make it a point to remember that more often.

My Boyfriend Drives A JEEP.

I discovered something about being materialistic today. There much more joy in giving than buying.

Ever since I met Earl back in late 1995, he’s mentioned from time to time that he wanted a Jeep. Nothing fancy like a Grand Cherokee or a Liberty or anything like that. No, he wanted a basic, “man’s jeep”… a 5-speed Wrangler with a soft top.

Tonight, it happened.

After work, we drove up to the Jeep dealer to pick up his 2004, black, five-speed, six-cylinder, soft-topped Jeep Wrangler X. It’s all black with a gray cloth interior. It’s your basic Jeep – no power windows or locks, no air conditioning, just a plain ol’ Jeep. He hadn’t seen it before tonight, he bargained with the dealer over the phone and bought it sight unseen.

It’s beautiful. But more importantly, I wish I had the words to describe the happiness I saw in Earl’s eyes tonight.

When we first met, he was driving a Mazda 626 that he promptly smashed up. He needed a car quick, so he bought a ’96 Hyundai Elantra. It was a quick purchase, out of necessity rather than pleasure. The Elantra was a great, functional car, and filled the need quite well for a long time. But it wasn’t really us.

When the Elantra ran it’s course, we took the opportunity to buy a new car… a 2001 Impala LS. The Impala was my dream car, and he basically let me pick it out for the family. He enjoys the Impala, but it isn’t really what he would have bought for himself. We still drive it today, and I’m still in love with it (despite the sizeable chunk of change we invested in repairs a couple of months ago).

So when he said he wanted a Jeep (again), I stepped aside and let him get what he wanted. Just between you and me, I’m glad we have a Jeep in the family too, but more importantly, I’m glad he took the opportunity to buy a toy for himself.

We’ve decided to cancel our plane reservations to Kansas for a vacation in June – we’re driving the Jeep instead.

It makes me so proud to scream…

My Boyfriend Drives A JEEP!

Now I would never refer to Earl has my “boyfriend”… I haven’t done that since we shared a pop at the malt shop. It’s just fun to act young. 🙂

Childlike Behavior.

O.k., I’ll come clean. I’ve been getting worked up about American Idol again. It’s Earl’s fault. He loves the show and insists on watching it. When he’s in Ohio, it’s easy to avoid. But he’s been home on “Idol Night” for the past couple of weeks and I’ve become “rehooked”.

I have to say, of the final three, I’m cheering for Fantasia Burrino, with Diana DeGarmo a really close second. While Jasmine Trias looks like a very sweet girl, the poor thing can’t sing her way out of a paper bag. Pitch issues should not be a consideration when you’re in the final 12, let alone the final three.

Of course I just can’t sit back and watch the show, I have to actually go on the American Idol message boards and throw in my two cents, repeatedly, and argue with pre-pubescent kids who are using their parent’s America Online account. I haven’t stooped so low as to start using grotesquely large purple letters, but my comments occasionally fall just short of “neener, neener, neener”.

To rationalize, there is a bright side, I suppose. It’s always good for the soul to let your inner child run free. Even if he’s an annoying brat yelling “neener, neener, neener” on the internet.

A Touch of Spirituality.

I read something today that I’d like to share with you.

“Let the innate beauty of your soul provide a beacon of Light for others in this world of Darkness. Show others how to live; be an example for them. Choose joy, show a zest for life, love others and make your own heaven. Light your lamp for them all to see. You will find it can smooth your path and hasten perfection.”
“Journey of the Soul Series, Book Three: The Nature of Good and Evil”
by Sylvia Browne.

What a wonderful passage. Maybe a lesson learned today.

Sunshine, on my shoulders, makes me happy.

Sing it John Denver! Working for a traditional country radio station can surely test one’s patience, but once in a while you’ll hear a good song that has some actual meaning. Today it was great to get out in the sunshine and enjoy life. You’ll notice the new picture up there in the right hand corner… that’s me, along a creek, in the Ilion Gorge (along Route 51) with Earl taking pictures.

We kicked off the weekend with a visit to the local drive in theatre to see “Troy”. It was an o.k. movie… there were a couple of things I found disappointing. First of all, there’s a wide smattering of English dialects throughout the movie, which I find quite interesting since they’re all suppose to be Greek. At least on Xena, they all spoke with a southern California dialect, why couldn’t everyone speak with the same dialect in the monster movie “Troy”.

Secondly, why do lots of women and some men find Brad Pitt so darn irresistible? I don’t find him attractive at all. I mean, he’s not bad to look at I suppose, if you’re into that sort of thing, but he just seems to pretty for my tastes.

On Saturday I took Earl to a new barber for a much needed haircut. Back when I had enough hair on top to actually get a haircut, I went to a great barber named John who could cut a killer flat top. I haven’t seen John in quite a while (over eight years), and Earl hasn’t been happy with his last couple of haircuts from the local barber so I took him to John’s. John is apparently very popular these days, because we ended up waiting 3 1/2 hours for Earl’s turn. It was great to shoot the bull with the other guys, kidding around, talking sports, computers and cell phones and all the town gossip. Nothing beats a small town barbershop on a Saturday afternoon.

After visiting with John (Earl has a great haircut by the way, we’ll be going often), we headed to Albany for shoe shopping. I have a pair of “Enforcer” boots that are starting to show they’re age. I absolutely love these boots, as they make me feel very, very confident. I know that I shouldn’t base my confidence on boots, but I do. Call me crazy. Anyways, I picked up another pair at Dick’s Sporting Goods. We then went to DSW, where I picked up a pair of black casual business shoes (Sketchers) and black dress-up business shoes (Hush Puppies). I think my feet have shrunk, because I was very comfortable in a size 9, whereas I usually where a 9 1/2. You know what they say about the size of a man’s feet, I hope other appendages have not begun to shrink.

We had dinner at Romano’s Italian Grille… neither had ever been to one and it seemed like a good place to eat. Great, great, great food – boring, boring, boring server. He had no personality whatsoever. Earl and I enjoyed a delicious pitcher of Sangrias so Earl ended up driving home. Someday I’ll be big enough to hold my alcohol respectably.

Then today the weather turned nice so we went for a drive through the Frankfort Gorge then the Ilion Gorge (both of which lead to the Mohawk Valley). The twisty road is always fun to drive with the Impala, and it was nice to pull over and enjoy the babbling brook, the sound of the birds and the sunshine. A nice little meditative moment to prepare for the work week ahead.

A Personal Chuckle

Everyone has their own way of improving their mood. Some people chant. Some people close their eyes and take a deep breath. Others go for a walk.

I think of Kitty Carlisle.

Last Saturday night Earl and I wasted time by watching “Greatest TV show moments III”. It was occasionally humorous, especially a segment of “To Tell The Truth”.

You remember the show. Three contestants try to convince a panel of four celebrities that they are a particular person.

The celebrities included the delightful Peggy Cass, the witty Gene Rayburn, the somewhat dense Bill Cullen and the always proper, regal Kitty Carlisle.

The contestants were claiming to be a bird fancier… the prince of the parakeet set if you will.

Kitty Carlisle placed her vote first, indicating that she believed contestant three was the real mccoy. Of course she used a roman numeral to place her vote.

Next was Bill Cullen, who voted zero. Apparently he had to disqualify himself because he knew who the real contestant was.

“How do you know the real person?”, asks Kitty, seemingly miffed at this disruption from the norm.

“I ran into him in the bathroom.”, replied Bill.

The rest of the panel began talking at once… “How do you know he’s the right guy?”

“He had his bird in his hand.”

Well if you could have seen Kitty Carlisle stand up, hand to her chest with a look of complete indignation and disbelief, then you’d understand why Kitty brings a smile to my face to this day.

Appreciable Laziness

When Earl and I moved to the suburbs, I had one primary concern. Competing with the neighbors. Especially when it when it comes to… the lawn.

I don’t enjoy mowing the lawn. I used to like it, but that lasted for maybe three weeks of the first year in our old house. Now its just a pain. It’s boring.

Apparently our neighbors feel the same. They don’t de-weed. The don’t use lawn sweepers. They do as I do… throw the mower to the lowest setting, and ride just on the edge of “burning rubber”.

I knew I loved this house.


As I’ve mentioned before over the past couple of weeks, I’ve felt a need to go back to the basics. To make life as simple as possible. There’s no time for complicated drama.

For example, Earl and I went out for supper tonight. Because it was the simple thing to do. Earl had a rough day at work and neither of us were in the mood to cook, so we went out to a local restaurant.

It was much simpler to order Chili-Cheese Fries then explain to the waitress how we wanted a healthy appetizer.

That being said, it was much easier to just say no to the dessert than to select something delicious from the wealth of choices we were presented with.

I’ve gone out of my way to make my computer simpler as well. I’m tired of struggling with Linux and Unix, so I’ve embraced Microsoft again. I’m even using MSN Premium! While it’s geared for the technological newbie, I’m finding the simplicity of MSN to be a dream.

I’m thinking of growing a garden this year. To just take it easy and grow my tomatoes and turnips or whatever.

There’s a certain amount of peace that comes with simplicity. As long as I don’t head over to brain dead, we’re good.