Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Almost there...

There is still work to do (proofing, catalog description, cover blurb, amending the acknowledgements), but we're one step closer to the Kindle release of Funeral Food!

Monday, May 30, 2011

I warned you...

That I was going to be doing a bit of reading, rather than posting. Though I'll start with the printed book first.
I love Connie Willis, and I especially love her time-travel books. Blackout is set in Great Britain, in the past and the future, but primarily during WWII. The plot is complex and I won't give any of it away except to say that three historians (read: university time travelers) are stuck in London during The Blitz. The historical background is fascinating, and heroism is an every day occurrance.

I will say, though, that even though I knew that this story and All Clear were arbitrarily divided into two books, rather than being published as one very long volume, I was still not prepared for the abrupt ending of Blackout.

Luckily, I'm coming to this pair late in the game, so I don't have to wait months to find out what happens.

Speaking of being late to the game, I'm only about 14 years late to A Game of Thrones, by George R. R. Martin. This is the first book I purchased with my new Kindle, and by cracky, I chose a good one. We don't have HBO, but the books came to my attention because of that series (though I have always liked George R. R. Martin- his Sandkings remains the most frightening story I've ever read). This is a huge, sprawling epic, set on a world where seasons last years, and as they say in Winterfell, winter is coming. It probably goes without saying that there is family drama, political intrigue, and magic. Oh yeah, and sex. Queen Ceresi said it best: in the game of thrones, you either win, or you die.

There have been four books published in the series, and the fifth is due out in July. I have done pretty much nothing but read since I bought the first book, and I am certain that I'll whip through the rest (though there's no whipping through any book that must have 600 pages... I can't tell on the Kindle because all you see are percentages. But I've been working on this one for maybe 8 hours and I still have 30% of the book left, which tells you how long it is). After that, I'll have to wait five years in between installments, just like everyone else.

During the few moments that I'm not immersed in Winterfell, I noticed that we have some free-range irises blooming. I love irises and I'm so glad that these have survived my neglect.

Okay, back to the book...

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Thursday Tab- Mary Lou's Spring Clothes, April 1932

I can't seem to find who shared some wonderful, wonderful old magazine paper dolls scans, which I plan to upload over the next few weeks. If you recognize these, please let me know so I can credit you properly.

Mary Lou's Spring Clothes appeared in the April 1932 issue of Ontario Farmer. She was beautifully drawn by Lydia Fraser. I think it's fascinating that Mary Lou's Spring wardrobe includes a Bo Peep costume. And that bunny slippers were popular in the '30's.

Thank you, whoever sent these scans to me!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

AI Season 10, Finale, 05-25-11

We fast forward through the entire season. Ryan stands in a tux, in the middle of a bunch of people, in the Nokia Theater. He says that last night, 122 million votes were cast, and 3/4 billion were cast over the length of the season. Ryan says that's 2 votes for every man, woman, and child in America, but really, it's more like 500 votes for every 12 year old girl.

Right about here, I tried to turn the volume up but I grabbed the wrong remote and somehow messed up the channels and it took several minutes and many bad words before we got the TV back in the right place, which means that I missed the judges' entrance. I did not touch the remote for the remainder of the show.

We tune back in just in time for the Top 13 to perform together. They're all dressed in white and silver. Naima has on silver pants, Ashthon has on thigh high silver boots, Pia and Karen are in short dresses, Thia is wearing a tutu. Lauren is wearing very tight pants that do her no favors. I have no idea if Stefano thought that his pants did him any favors, but I had the decency to look away soon as he danced into view. They're singing Born This Way, and they all seem to be having a good time. There's Casey!!!

James gets the first individual performance. With Judas Priest! Goodness, there are a lot of shiny, pokey things on stage. And lots of black leather. I don't know this song (these songs?), but it's a fun performance, and absolutely perfect for James, who looks very happy. I like to see Happy James.

I finally catch sight of the judges- JLo is  in a flesh-toned sparkly jumpsuit. Steven is in a white Tyler Suit. Randy is wearing a white jacket with black piping, a black shirt and black bow tie. Ryan cues a medley of Randy's season-long irrelevance. If I never hear in it to win it again, it will be too soon.

Jacob is singing I Smiled with a Kirk Someone, who is possibly Ru Paul not in drag. Jacob is wearing a gray suit that seems to actually fit him, and a red gingham tie. Oh look- Gladys Knight! And a gospel choir. Everyone but Jacob sounds great. Jacob sounds like Jacob and I still don't like him.

Casey!!! He's wearing a shiny gray suit. Is polished cotton in again? And he's singing Fat Bottom Girls! And there's Jack Black. They're dressed like twins. The Grays Brothers. And yes, we do make the rockin' world go round. Woot! The backup bicyclists have very shiny, though definitely not-fat, bottoms.

Ryan has to wing it for a bit while the Ladies from the Top 13 take the stage. He's not very good off-script. The girls are all in red and black, and they're all onstage except for Lauren. Haley has one garter, and Pia;'s chest is still announcing its presence with authority. They sing Put a Ring on It, and To The Left, which means that I should not be surprised when Beyonce enters in a gynecologically short, sparkly dress. I am, but I should not be.

Next we get a retrospective of Steven Tyler's bloops, bleeps, and cigars. He's wearing a white jacket and a corsage, just like an old lady.

Next up is Haley with Tony Bennett. Haley is wearing a pretty brocade dress with a free-standing bodice. They're singing Steppin' Out With My Baby. Haley sounds good and Tony sounds wonderful. I do wish that Haley would stop squatting, but otherwise, this is a really good performance. Tony Bennett is 85? Wow, he looks fantastic.

JLo's retrospective mostly reminds us that she's beautiful and that Randy was jealous. And that her husband is creepy.

I missed the name of the hip hop guy, but the surviving members of TLC are singing the waterfall song with Karen, Naima, Thia and Ashthon. Pia must have been there with them too, but I didn't write her name down. It's hard to describe all of the black outfits, but very high heels seem to be a common denominator.

Tim McGraw takes the stage next, and for the first time, I notice that Mr. Hill is a fine looking fellow, who works out regularly, it appears. Mighty fine. Scotty comes out, of course, and they sound really good together. Just imagine- a year ago, Scotty was a high school baseball player. Now, he's on national TV, singing with Tim McGraw. What a trip.

It would not be a Finale without a parade of losers- that kid who wanted to be  DJ narrates a thankfully short compilation of the bad signers, gymnastics disasters, crazies, and those who didn't take rejection well.

Ryan announces Marc Anthony, and eagle-eyed Lorah notices that JLo isn't in her judge chair... Mr. Lopez joins the Shiny Suit Brigade to sing his Miami Sound Machine-Alike song, with fan-dancer backups. I'll give him this: he looks more alive when he's singing. And there she is, all smolder and fringe and wiggly butt. The girl can dance, fer shure. Afterward, the reanimated corpse says something to his wife that makes her laugh. It's a nice, human moment.

Now we're treated to a great set of talking heads with James and Casey arguing over who had the most shocking boot. Pia then enters, wearing a tiara and a sash that says "Most Shocking", and shuts their sorry asses down completely. That was a hoot- it almost makes me like Pia (as a person. I still don't love her voice).

Now the Top 13 Guys are singing. They're all wearing black this time, which is not nearly so transparent, thank goodness, so I can look at Stefano again. At least as much as I ever want to look at Stefano. He's singing some Prince song, and Lorah and I look at each other knowingly. But then Paul sings something by Tom Jones. And then James does What's New Pussycat. And Casey sings Delilah. The guys are having a great deal of fun with this, and we are now surprised that onlyTom Jones comes out (wouldn't it have been awesome if he AND Prince were both there. Doing a duet?). Mr. Jones has had less *work* done than other stars of his vintage, and I like it that he looks a little grizzled. His voice sounds the same. My mom had a minor crush on Tom Jones, and she had most of his records, so I know all of these songs. Yeah, I really am that old.

The last Fordmercial is a retrospective of all of this season's Fordmercials. I guess they didn't have time to film a new one this week. We see Lauren and Scotty inviting their favorite teachers to the Idol Finale. The Top 2 traditionally get brand new Ford vehicles, but since Lauren likely does not have a drivers licence, and Scotty may not either, they both give their cars to their teachers, who are stunned. And then Ryan says that they get cars too, and Lauren and Scotty are stunned.

And now we're stuck with Lady Gaga, who is dressed like Princess Amidala, at least until she takes off the cape and weird headgear. Now she looks like a biker chick in a leather bikini, and metal face decorations. Her choreography consists of being molested by a male dancer, and peeing doggy-style on the piano. Is that Clarence Clemmons on the sax?

It's Lauren's turn for the stage now. She's wearing a really unflattering skin-tight black dress over black leggings, and she sings the opening lines of Before He Cheats. Her vocal strain is front and center, and highlighted even more when Carrie Underwood joins her. Man, Carrie is wasting away- girl, eat a hamburger or three. Please.

Well, The Interwebz were wrong- there's Lee DeWyze, right behind some guy with crazy hair that Ryan is standing next to. Ryan, however, does not introduce Lee as the Reigning American Idol. Ryan pretends that Lee does not exist. Bad form, show. Bad form.

We get another fantastic set of Talking Heads, with all of Top 10 complaining about the ages of The Finalists. Best line: Naima commenting that their breath smells of Similac.

Oh good, more Beyonce. Sigh. The stage is filled with red smoke, and even in silhouette, it's obvious that Sasha Fierce needs a hot oil treatment. Her hair people should talk to JLo's hair people. Or even Lauren's hair people. This song is overwrought and extremely dull so we have lots of time to take bets on whether or not Beyonce will beyounce right out of her low-cut, ugly prom dress.

Ryan walks through the audience some more. I keep thinking that I should recognize the people he passes by, but no, I don't know any of them.

Hmmmm... Bono and The Edge must be desperate to prove that their Spiderman Broadway show is not the fiasco that everyone thinks it is. I cringe every time the stunt guy soars over the audience, but his safety lines hold. My guess is that in exchange for several minutes on the show that is watched by more people than The Superbowl, Bono will have to mentor the kids next year. Or at least release the U2 catalog for slaughter.

It is 8:54, so surely it's time to get on with the reason for the show- not just this episode, but for the whole shebang. But no, Ryan is sitting with JLo and Randy, which means that Steven is onstage.

Yup- there he is, dressed in white, playing the piano, wailing Dream On. I have snarked aplenty on Mr. Tyler this year, but the man is a legend. And he can still perform. I figure that all of the finalists will join him up there, but no. It's just Steven. He was a bit pitchy dawg, but he was surely in it to win it.

Okay, NOW, AT 8:59, and tipping into overtime (something that Ryan promised would not happen), we're finally going to find out who's crappy single will be released first (and by first, I mean 10 minutes before the other one). Scotty is wearing a shiny gray (it's the new black, y'all) pin-striped suit, and Lauren is in a yellow Loretta Lynn dress. Both of them look ill, and Lauren especially looks like she might collapse any minute. I worry about Lauren- I'm not sure she'll survive not winning, because surely she is not going to win.

aaannnndddddd..... Scotty McCreery is the new American Idol, and amazing of all amazings- Lauren looks like the weight of the world has just lifted off of her shoulders. She's genuinely smiling, and congratulating Scotty, who looks a little peaky. He sings his crappy song to his weepy mom and his dad, and he hugs all of his relatives, and all of the finalists one by one, and my hard heart melts just a bit. Then Scotty sits down on the floor and has himself a nice little cry as the others gather around.

So, we've survived another season, you and I. Every year, I think that maybe I'll just skip watching. Or if I watch, maybe I'll skip recapping. But I'm not even fooling myself- we all know that I'll be back, same time next year. Thanks for hanging in there with this stupid little obsession of mine.

We now return you to your regular programming. Seacrest out.

Display at The Depot during June

Assorted projects from my knitting books will be on display at The Depot in Redfield, during June. This article appeared in this week's Redfield Press. You have to subscribe in order to read it online, so I scanned it to post here.

I suppose I should start thinking about what to take up there, and how to arrange it all... I'll take pics once it's all in place. The Depot is pretty cool all by itself, not the least because The Hub and The Son did all of the restoration work there.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

AI Season 10- Finale Performance, 05-24-11

Well, here we are- months and months of singing and snark, and we're finally down to two kids. We get clips of Carrie at age eight, and then winning. And then David Cook as a kid, and then winning. I'm ready to see Ruben, Fantasia, Kelly, Kris, Lee, Jordin, and Taylor's old home movies too, but no such luck. Then we see clips of Lauren and Scotty as adorable kids.

Randy is in a gold and black houndstooth jacket with extremely wide black satin lapels. Steven is in a lizardy jacket and hair feathers,- in other words, same old same old. JLo is playing ice princess in a green sequined dress with filmy sleeves.

Ryan is natty in a tux. He explains just how young Lauren and Scotty are, as if we've had even one minute to forget that. He also calls a doctor out to explain that Lauren blew a vocal chord in rehearsal. Her voice may be iffy tonight, not that it isn't iffy every night.

Tonight they're singing three rounds, and doing it in the space of an hour. It took them all year to figure out how to fit everything into 60 minutes, I guess. Scotty won the coin toss, and like a gentleman, he let Lauren choose the singing order. Lauren is not a gentleman- she's going last.

Round 1 is songs they've performed already.

#1. Scotty is singing Gone. He's wearing a gray print tee shirt and a black leather jacket. He's mumbling a bit. Actually, he's mumbling a lot- I can't understand any of the lyrics. He's trying, but every once in awhile, that other hand goes to the mike. He sounds exactly the way he always does, and the crowd goes wild.

#2. Lauren is singing Flat on the Floor. She's in all black and silver- a sparkly silver jacket with wide lapels, sparkly striped skirt, and black leggings, and a huge butterfly ring. Her voice is holding up, and she's performing confidently, though she bobbled on the staircase.

Round 2 is songs chosen by the kids' Idols.

#3. Scotty's song was chosen by George Strait, though I did not catch the title. Scotty is in red plaid. Again. And he's playing the guitar. I note that when his hands are both occupied, his eyebrows go crazy. The song is fine and the audience goes wild. Again.

#4. Carrie Underwood chose Lauren's song, which has something to do with Memphis. Lauren is wearing a strapless, gold dress with a bubble overskirt and a tulle underskirt, cowboy boots, and a necklace that consists of boots and bows. Her performance is confident and she's looking good, but the song is a non-entity.

Ryan asks for the judges' opinions. Randy babbles forever and says nothing. JLo tries to compliment every moment of every performance. Steven makes no sense whatsoever. None of them understand that judge is not just a noun.

Evidently there was a song that everyone got to help write. And it's going to be sung by some guy named Taio Cruise (and I must thank Bee Girl for the name and the spelling- I've never heard of this guy)(is anyone surprised?). Taio wears big sunglasses and he has robotic drummers who use lighted sticks. The song is called Positive, so I assume that the community-written lyrics are uplifting, but I can't understand a word. It's probably for the best.

Camryn Mannheim is in the audience. Have I ever mentioned that once upon a time, for a teeny tiny little moment, Camryn Mannheim sort of considered the Tory books as a TV series. Nothing came of it, but it was fun to dream. David Archuletta is in the audience too, and he hasn't aged a day since his season.

Round 3 consists of the Coronation Singles, the first song that The Winner will release (don't kid yourself, both of these songs will be inflicted on the public). I hope that just once the singles will be something other than climb the mountain/beat adversity/chase the rainbow/love the puppydogs dreck that the coronation songs always are. What are the chances of that happening, do you think?

#5. Jimmy Iovine chose the songs, and he waxes poetic about Scotty's big song for his big voice. The song, lord help me, is I Love You This Big. No, I'm not kidding. Scotty is wearing a nice gray suit jacket, and clips of his AI Journey play on the screen as he sings this horrible song. Remember in the movie Dave, when Kevin Kline  runs the robotic arms and says something about once catching a fish that was this big? That's what Scotty does at the end of this song- he extends his arms and loves us all, this big. His Mama cries, and Randy says that Jimmy was finally right, whatever the hell that means.

#6. Lauren is wearing a white prom dress with a floral border. There are more movies on the screen as she sings. Man, this song is even worse than Scotty's. I think it's called Like My Mother, and cross my heart- I could not make this up: it's all about how wonderful mothers are. Seriously. Lauren's mama is falling apart, JLo is falling apart, Lauren is falling apart, and Randy is more annoying and incoherent than ever.

The judges do their best to convince us that Lauren is ahead tonight, and that this is a real contest. They're working really really hard at it, and they may have almost sort of convinced themselves. The only one who isn't faking it is Steven- though his preference for Lauren likely has nothing to do with her singing ability.

For a minute, I think that we're actually coming in under time, but no- David Cook is playing them off. He's singing Don't You Forget About Me to clips of the good, the bad, and the batshit crazy from Season 10. All three categories are overflowing.

They've done everything they can to convince us that this is a real contest, but I still think that Scotty is going to walk away with the crown. We'll know tomorrow night.

Question of the Day

What is the purpose of yarn bombing?

I'm serious here- I honestly don't get it.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Final doesn't mean what we think it means...

Curt is still tinkering with the cover of Funeral Food. The Kindle version of this book (and of Sex and Salmonella, and The Hotel South Dakota) will be ready for release soon, which means that pretty soon, *final* will actually BE final.
Once again, the changes are small, but wonderful. The artist is a genius. Read about the changes and take a peek at the Sex and Salmonella cover work in progress here.

Cool, no? I can't wait to see what Curt puts inside the frame.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Saturday shopping and Sunday spring

Yesterday, we went to Sioux Falls (185 miles one way) to look for a Mother of the Beach Groom dress. The Hub deserves a medal for waiting, mostly patiently, while we visited a dozen stores, and I looked at and rejected 12 bazillion dresses (not so much for style, as color- it's a wedding and I'm the mother of the groom, color coordination matters), and tried on at least 40 before finding one, at the very last store, that will do, though I'll need a different jacket since there is just a tad too much black in the outfit for a joyous wedding (and it'll be a joyous celebration). Here's a rant for another day when I have the ambition to tackle it: every single dress that I tried on was theoretically the same size. Some were so small that I could not get them zipped, some could have doubled as a tent, others were cut so weirdly that I cannot imagine the figure that would be flattered. And here's the biggest puzzle: the number size was the same, but in some stores that was a Medium, and in others, it was a Plus. Gah!

 On the drive down, I finished one sock. I bought this yarn at Great Yarns in Everett, WA. It's lovely stuff, but I only got two balls. I had to use some stash leftover yarn for the toe. Are you surprised that I had leftover yarn that matches? You shouldn't be. This is a basic mitered-square sock: worsted weight yarn, size 5 needles, 3 rows of 5 squares, the rest worked on 48 sts.
 I worked a little more this morning, but I did finish the heel of the mate on the way home yesterday. These will not be identical socks, but they'll match closely enough.
 We drove through some interesting weather on the way home- hail, and ominous clouds. The clouds followed us, and I snapped this shot of a downdraft from our back deck.
 We decided that 6 hours of being on our feet yesterday qualified as exercise, and so we skipped the walk this morning (the iffy weather made that decision a little easier). Instead, we drove around and snapped a few flower pics. Last year,  this crab apple tree had about four blossoms. It may be overcompensating this season.
 Beautiful, beautiful overcompensation.
The lilacs are beginning to bloom

also the flowering crabs.

Such beauty. 
Maybe next week, we'll have some blooming irises.

 The water level in Turtle Creek has dropped (the high water mark is the green line on the peninsula), but it's still very high (it's still at least 15' above the normal level). Turtle Creek flows into the James River, which flows into the Missouri, which joins the Mississippi, along with every swollen creek and river in the entire Midwest. I am not surprised that they're readying for flooding down south. I put on my lawn-mowing shoes and braved the mosquitoes and wet grass to get that last shot for you this morning...

...unfortunately, I forgot to put on my lawn-mowing pants.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

AI Season 10- Top 3 Elimination, 05-19-11

Clips, clips, clips. Captions: Sometimes it's good to go home... but not tonight. Iovine opines that Scotty will survive tonight. The only thing I'm absolutely sure of is that there is a guy in contention right now. I still think Scotty is going to win, but I also thought Durbin would be in the running, and Haley would be long gone, so that shows you what I know.

Randy is wearing an oddly shaped plaid vest, or maybe it's a shawl, I can't tell. I have no idea what Steven wore because we didn't see him much tonight. JLo is in tan pleated shorts and a black transparent top over a strapless black bodice, impossibly tall heels, and very very straight hair.

Ryan says that 95 million votes were cast, the most for any non-finale show in the history of the franchise. Yay, I guess. He then brings out the Top 3, and I think that Haley is wearing a tiara.

We see a clip that must have been filmed a couple of weeks ago, because the Top 4 (including James) all get to meet J.J. Abrams. He shows them bits from his new movie, Super 8, which appears to be The Goonies for the '10s. (Don't let the snark fool you- I want very much to see this movie in the theater.) Abrams gives all 4 Super 8 cameras (Q: do they even make Super 8 film any more? I have a very precious DVD of movies that my parents shot of my sisters and I between the years '63-'70 that was originally on Super 8 film. I'm pretty sure that the camera is obsolete now). I will be curious to see the movies they make.

Karen! Naima! That one girl! Pia! Elle Fanning! Elle babbles long enough to make Ryan really nervous, before she finally spits out a giggly declaration that her six year old cousin loves Scotty.

Haley gets the first Home Town Visit footage. I note that lately, every shot of Haley includes cleavage. Haley and her low cut shirt go to her home town of Wheeling, Ill. It's raining. A lot. But they manage to gather a couple hundred people to cheer for her. Haley sees her Mom and Dad, and then she wears rain gear in a parade which ends at her high school. Evidently Wheeling calls her Goldilocks. They then go to a racetrack, which has sort of full stands. She and her dad give a concert in the rain (everyone is wearing heavy jackets). Haley's bodyguard is a hoot.

After the break, a squeaky little girl intros the Fordmercial. The kids are at the beach, and since I've been to SoCal a few times in the past year, I mostly look at the scenery, hoping to recognize the landscape. I don't.

Guest Group #1 is Il Volo. Il Volo consists of three goofy looking young men, singing O Sole Mio soulfully in Italian. The guy with the spiky hair and red glasses lounges up the joint. The heavy dude with the Beiber hair has a huge voice. The middle guy has the Frankie Avalon vibe down pat. This is maybe the weirdest performance I've ever seen on the show, and I watched the Sanjaya season.

Next Home Town Trip sends Scotty to Garner, North Carolina. Scotty's crowds are a lot bigger than Haley's, and there are many weeping, wailing, screaming girls in the audience. Back at his school, Scotty plays baseball with his buds. He's momentarily overwhelmed by the hometown support. In fact, Scotty is showing more emotion than we've ever seen on stage. During one of his concert numbers, he's joined on stage by Josh Turner, who is the other low-voiced, young country singer. Scotty is blown away.

Guest Group #2 is Nichole Scherzinger and 50 Cent. Nichole starts out in silhouette behind a backlit sheet, and then she shimmys around the barrier. This chick looks a lot like Pia, if Pia was dressed in straps and feathers (and let's face it- if Pia had lasted long enough on the show, she would have worn them eventually). Nichole has Shakira hips, and a bunch of backup dancers. It is even more obvious than usual that she is not actually singing. 50 Cent does whatever it is that he does. My goodness... what passes for dancing these days... sigh...

Lauren's Home Town Visit was saved for last. She's genuinely excited to go home to Rossville, and I am officially tired of looking at her mother. Oh, tornado damage... right. I don't doubt the sincerity of Lauren's emotion at seeing the devastation for the first time, but I have to wonder just how much mileage the show wants to get out of weepy Lauren and the storm damage. I know the voting is done this week already, but next week's votes are even more important. I think they really really really want Lauren to win. Or they at least want to make an actual contest out of this dog and pony show.

Hmmmm. There are 10 minutes left and Ryan says it's time to get busy... after the break. Lauren is wearing a tight, teal suede bomber jacket over a black top, which she continually pulls down over her hips. Also the white boots that she had on last night (unless she has multiple pairs, and since this is Lauren, I shouldn't make assumptions on that point). Scotty is in tan leather and plaid (I got a chuckle out of my own original impression of Scotty, which mentioned a lack of plaid. He has since remedied that situation). Haley is weairng an odd shirt that consists of dangly ruffles. And she really is wearing a tiara. It's not a pointy-crown kind of tiara, but it's a tiara just the same.

The lights are dimmed, and after 95 million votes... Scotty is headed for the finale. Even though I prepared myself for a Shock Boot, there's no real surprise in Scotty being Top 2.

And then Haley sports a major bitch face as Lauren goes to the finale. Haley does not manage to smile during the montage either, though she did fake a little good grace at the end. And for her singout she chooses.... B-B-B-Benny and the Jetzzzzzzzzzzz, which harks back to the Haley performance that I hated the most.

I do think that Haley improved steadily over the season, but I simply did not like her much. I don't have a clue where she'll fit into the music industry, and I'm not sure she knows either.

So, it's Lauren and Scotty, which means that Scotty is going to win because I highly doubt that Haley's votes will go to Lauren. But we'll see. At least we get some Casey next week.

AI Season 10- A look back at my original impressions

While we wait for tonight's elimination episode (whereby the cast is whittled down to just 2: Scotty McCreery and some girl), I thought it might be fun to look back at my original impressions of a few of the kids. These are excerpts taken directly from my recaps. I'm not editing them, so in some cases, the names are spelled wrong. We'll see if I eventually changed my mind on any of them, and how well I came to calling the finale...

Jan 26 Milwaukee Auditions:

Auditioner #1 is Scotty McCreery, from North Carolina. He's 16, and has a sort of Aiken-y face and a very deep speaking voice. He dares to sing real country music, with an extremely mature and pleasant voice, despite the fact that he isn't wearing a cowboy hat or a plaid shirt. This kid has a future in radio if he decides that music isn't right for him (though I hope he doesn't decide that, since his singing is really very good). Okay, Tyler- you should not have to be told not to say *that* word to a 16 year old. Sheesh.

#4 is Naima Adedapo, who accessorizes with dreds, flowers, hoop earrings, sunshiny bright colors, red lipstick, and unshaven armpits. She's a maintenance worker at an auditorium, and she has a big and beautiful voice that is totally up to Donnie Hathaway.

#6-Thia Megia is 15. She sings with a very mature voice, with great depth and a beautiful tone.Unfortunately, we're going to be overrun with 15 year-olds this year, and it's all Justin Beiber's fault. Or rather, it's the fault of all the 12 year olds who buy multiple copies of the Beiber oeuvre. I have enjoyed the auditions so far, but if the show really does turn into Beiberanistan, I will check out.

#1 Hayley Reinhart, from Chicago auditioned last year but didn't make it. She's trying again, and Randy pretends that he remembers her. She's singing Oh Darling, and her bluesy voice is quite nice. She makes it this time.

Jan 27- Nashville Auditions:

And as per the Season 10 custom, the last auditioner of the night, gets the full Magilla. #8 is 15 year old Lauren Alaina. Lauren is a very tall, solid girl, with great big, multi-shade hair that is kind of ratty. Her sob story is that she's very close to her cousin, who had a brain tumor. In general, the combo of being 15 and the almost-terminal-disease hook would annoy me, but for some reason, I'm liking Lauren. She's wearing a print bubble dress with a cute little black shrug, over black leggings. She has a Big Voice, but really, she needs to go home and wait another year, and get a little more experience under her belt before jumping into the meat grinder. But the judges unanimously love love love her. They call her family in, and Lauren and Tyler sing Aerosmith together. Steven manages not to leer at Lauren in front of her really young-looking Daddy, which is a good thing.

Feb 2- Austin Auditions:

#5. The last auditioner for this hour-long episode, is Casey Abrams, who has a lot of beard for a 19-year old. He definitely has that schlubby Rogen/Galifinakis air about him, and he's carrying a mouth-blown keyboard called a melodica. I assume this will be downright painful, and then Casey does something totally weird and wonderful that is part scat, part blues, part wail. It's not exactly singing, and it's not exactly a song, but it's mesmerizing. He gets a unanimous nod, and I will be curious to hear what he does with a melody.

Feb 9 San Francisco Auditions:

#2, is the owner of the aforementioned scarred arms. Stefano Langoe was in a terrible accident, which is a relief because I thought those scars looked like a suicide attempt. Stefano had to learn to walk all over again, and he had a very long recovery. He sings Grapevine, and I am not impressed (there were a lot of missed notes), but the Judges like him a lot.

#8 is our last auditioner, and there are over 10 minutes left, so that means we're going to get tons of back story. On top of that, they've been hinting all through the show, how amazing this guy is going to be. I'm skeptical, but I'm skeptical of anyone with a fauxhawke, a black studded vest, lime green t-shirt, and a long scarf tucked into a waistband. James Durbin is weepy, he also has Tourette's and Asberger's Syndromes, and a wife (or a girlfriend- either way, she's very supportive) and a small child. They're also very poor. So anyway, James sings, and he has a pure, bluesy voice. He ends his song with an Adam Lambert shriek. The judges are stunned by his range and power. Weepy Jame asks if he can sing some Aerosmith, and once again, the judges are mightily impressed. We're told that we will love James, and I have a feeling that he'll be in the Top 10.

Feb 16- Hollywood Week, Night #2:

Note: Evidently we didn't get to see Pia's original audition, or she made such a small impression that I didn't write about her. The first mention I could find in my recaps was during Hollywood Week.

Group #1: Pia Tascano, Allesandra Guercio, and Brielle Van Huegel- all in heels and exceptionally long legs. I don't know they song they're singing, but each of them pronounces "you" as: yauh. They don't impress me, but the judges send all three on.

Note: I thought for sure that we saw Jacob's original audition, but I couldn't find it. Here' are both the first and second mentions that I uncovered:

Group #13: Da'Quela Payne, Matthew Noss, Naima Aedopo, and Jacob Lusk sing the same song as above, also a Capella. All of them make it.

Feb 17 Hollywood Week Night #3:

Jacob Lusk sings God Bless the Child. He has a great voice, but he's Gimmicking up every single note- throwing in voices and sound effects, and for all I know, animal noises. It's exhausting. The Judges give him a Standing O. Jacob leaves the room and collapses into the arms of his Mama and Nana. I suspect that Jacob is given to dramatic overreaction.

Thursday Tab- PomPon Penny from The Golden Magazine, Nov 1965

This is the last of Paperdoll Friend Lorie's scans. Thank you so much Lorie, you've made Thursdays even more fun!

This is PomPon Penny (side note: I have always called them PomPoms... hmmmm), and she appeared in The Golden Magazine in November 1965.
The artist is Neva Schultz, who drew many paper dolls, including Ballet and Slumber Party.

Again, thank you Lorie, for sharing all of these wonderful paper dolls!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

AI Season 10 Top 3 Performance, 05/18/11

Two hours tonight? Seriously? This is going to be excruciating.

We open with Randy, back at audition time, talking to Lauren. And then to Haley, and Scotty. Oh, that's right- it's Hometown Visit Week. They'll be able to fill up a bunch of minutes with that.

Randy is dressed like a physics teacher, in a blue cardigan, white shirt, and yellow and blue plaid tie. I just noticed Randy's pitiful little mustache. Was that always there?

JLo is in a dark spangly sheath with tattered, filmy, short sleeves. Her hair is wound in one of those hair-tumor updos.

Steven is dressed in a Steven outfit, nothing different, or interesting there.

Ryan has his hair parted on the other side tonight. He tells us that next week's Finale shows will be on Tuesday and Wednesday. I hope that they go back to Tue/Wed next year (and of course there will be a next year. The show never went lower then #3 in the ratings all season). Oh, that's nice: James got a Home Visit too.

I'm pretty sure that the guy in the dog suit, sitting next to Elijah Wood, is there to shill for a new show, though Ryan does not confirm that. Nor does he mention that Priscilla Presley is in the house.

The kids are singing 3 songs tonight. And we're all stuck with Beyonce. yeesh.

#1. Scotty chooses to sing something by Lone Star. Beyonce is mentoring, and for the first time, I notice how much she looks like Miley Cyrus-it's something about how she holds her mouth, I think. Or maybe it's the annoying speaking voice. She's wearing a tan shorts outfit,. Her blonde hair is lank, and it doesn't compliment her skin tone at all. Anyway, Scotty is wearing a red plaid shirt and a denim jacket. He's leaning on the piano, which at least gives him a reason to tilt. However, he is keeping one hand off the microphone. He starts out low, and then he reaches for some high(er) notes. This is nice, as always.

#2. Lauren has chosen Faith Hill. She's wearing a red and white handkerchief top, jeans tucked into white boots, and huge daisy earrings. The Hub wonders who is dressing that child. I assume that she's dressing herself, which is the problem. This song has something to do with a Wild One, who may or may not be Lauren herself. Lauren is strutting, and singing to the guitarist, and slapping her hip playfully. There were a couple of wonky notes in there, but overall, the performance was just fine.

#3. Haley and Beyonce have a Shorts-Off, and neither wins. I'm glad that she changed for the performance. Haley begins by hanging over a door that has been set at the top of the big center staircase. She then sings and walks down the stairs in heels , and she does not fall though I catch my breath a little with every step. Haley's dad is playing backup guitar, which is a first for the show. She's wearing a short, black dress with flapper fringes, which she twirls as she heads off the stage, and down and around the judges. Oh shit- she just tripped and fell going back up the two steps to center stage. But she recovered seamlessly- I don't think she missed a single note. I give her props for that. Actually, I give her props all the way around. I don't know this song (is it Janis?), but she did it well. I do wonder about Haley's propensity to select songs that 90% of the audience does not know, though I guess it has worked for her so far.

Round #1 goes to Haley, mostly for recovering from her fall so gracefully.

Round #2 has songs that Jimmy Iovine chose for the kids. The camera pans across Elijah Wood, who looks like he wishes he was somewhere, anywhere, else.

#4. I had forgotten that Scotty had very short hair for his audition. Oh yeah, that was Steven's Duck and the Word That Rhymes With Duck moment. A high point, fer shure. Jimmy chooses some song that I do not know. Scotty is in a blue plaid shirt, and he's playing a guitar, and is musically wondering if the girls are going to kiss him tonight (answer: if they get the chance, you damn betcha). Scotty needs to anchor those eyebrows- they're out of control: up and down, up and down. I will be very surprised if Scotty does not win this thing, and though I'm not much of a country fan, I might buy his CD. Oh no, Jennifer- please don't ask him to shave his head again.

#5. Lauren is getting her legs made up because her pantyhose tore. Ryan pretends that he wants to help. Oh Ryan, you're not fooling anyone. In Lauren's audition, we see that she always dressed terribly, though I'm glad that she discovered shampoo in the interim. On stage, she's wearing perhaps the cutest thing I've seen her in yet- a party dress with a white satin, full skirt with a black tulle underskirt, and a black sparkly bodice. It flatters Lauren's figure, and she looks totally adorable. Iovine chooses If I Die Young, and of course, I do not know it. But she sounds really good. Why does Lauren's mother have a microphone? Oh- so Ryan can ask her inane questions.

#6. Haley's audition reminds us that she tried out last season and did not make it. She had too much growl back then too. Tonight, she's wearing a drapey, floaty dress made of pewter silk. It has a braided tie belt, and a scarf hanging from her shoulder. Iovine chooses Rhiannon, and I fall over in surprise that  someone has chosen a song that I know (unless there's another Rhiannon out there, one by Katy Perry and Lady Gaga with a video where they fight aliens by shooting them with their assorted body parts). Nope, Haley is doing Stevie Nicks, only instead of the goat vibrato, we get growling. This is okay, but not amazing. Her stationary performance consists pretty much of swiveling her hips and squatting, neither of which appeals to me.

Round 2 Winner: Lauren

And now we "get" to see Beyonce's new video: Run the World, Girls, which is set somewhere on the road to the Thunderdome, with Beyonce playing every character. For one costume, she's wearing a leotard and a shortie fur shrug. She does this shoulder shaking thing that I think is supposed to be dancing, but mostly it looks like she's being electrocuted. I laugh out loud. Literally. It is followed by even more ridiculous "dance moves". As far as I can tell, the message is that pelvis-thrusting girls in bustiers and garters are very powerful. Or something like that. I would comment on the singing, but I don't think there was any.

For Round 3, the kids are given their Judge's Choice during their Hometown Visits (which we'll see in detail tomorrow night, I assume).

#7. Scotty is in Garner, NC, at the store where he used to work. The Judges have chosen She Believes in Me. He's wearing a printed tee and a blue blazer that looks like it's too small. Scotty sounds uncharacteristically strained on this Kenny Rogers chestnut, as though he's pushing too hard. I think the entire song is off-key. Ryan goads Scotty's dad into singing a couple of bars of something, so we now know where that voice comes from.

You know what? All subway commercials are insulting and stupid, and they always have been. But I really really really hate that one where ordinary-size people fall through the floor, pop pool floaties, tear hammocks, and break chairs because they're not eating Subway sandwiches. Hate.

#8. Lauren gets word in Roscoe, GA, that they've chosen I Hope You Dance for her. She's wearing a sparkly seafoam green prom dress. This dress is pretty, but it's not as flattering as the last one- I think the waist is too long for her. This song is not interesting in the least, but Lauren sings the hell out of it.

#9. Maybe Haley didn't have an audience. She gets word about her song while she's alone, in a limo. Oh no... they've saddled her with You Ought to Know, which is not a TV appropriate song. Haley's wearing black leggings and a blue lace undershirt, and she asks her hypothetical lout of a boyfriend "will she go out with you to the theater?" Interesting lyric change there, show. Haley is singing an Alanis song very Alanissy. But since I can go my whole life happily without listening to any of the Morissette Oeuvre, and I've never loved Haley, I suspect that everyone else will like this a lot more than I do.

Round 3 winner: Lauren

I've ranked the rounds as Haley, Lauren, and Lauren, but since I still think that Scotty is going to win, my guess is that Haley is going home tomorrow. On the other hand, I've said that every Wednesday for the last 8 or 9 weeks. She may end up with the crown after all, just to spite me.

Cassy's Wedding Shawl, Part 1- The Edging

After a lot of thought and swatching, I decided to go with a simple design for my wonderful Future Daughter In Law's wedding shawl. We consulted on yarns- she really liked the Knit Picks Bare Merino, not only for the softness (it's Merino-duh), but the off-white blends well with her dress, and she likes the fact that it'll be warmer than a very light lace yarn. She and Matt are getting married on the beach (all together now: aaaawwwww), but it's a beach in Northern Oregon, and Northern Oregon beaches are cold, even in the summer time. A lacy shawl that also provides a bit of protection against the wind is the perfect solution.

I finished one edge, and will cast on the other (probably not until Friday- daytimes are for working on MG V3.0, and the next two evenings are for American Idol). The body will have the lattice design running up both edges as a border, but I have not decided on the main lace motif yet, or if it will be a single design, or a combo of several. I'll have to come to a decision about that soon.

All sections will have some beading, which will not only give the shawl some sparkle, but will add a bit of heft which will help it to stay put in the ocean breeze.

This is one finished border- this is not an official blocking, and it's not at all even or straight. I just pinned out the dry edging to see what it looks like and to get a rough notion of the measurements (22" x 5" stretched, and once it's wet, it'll stretch out a bit more). I'll knit both edgings and then pick up the body stitches along the straight side.

Here's a closeup, showing the beads.

And if you want to knit along- here's the edging chart. On the purl rows, after the stitches with the double YOs, drop one of the loops and only purl one. That makes a nice stretchy edge for the scallops. (On all of the other YO sts, which are single, purl the YO as a st). The red numbers on the left side of the chart are the stitch counts.

I think it's going to be beautiful!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Writers Guild, and a lovely gesture

My old friend, Bev Letsche (not that she's old- she's younger than I am, but we've known each other for 35 years or so- we worked together in the OT department at the State School) is a member of a writers guild in Miller. I've had an open invitation to attend meetings for a long time, but it wasn't until yesterday that our schedules meshed properly. I totally misjudged the mileage between here and Miller, which means that I arrived a half hour late, but the guild members were forgiving.

I don't get to sit with people who do what I do very often- it was wonderful to spend an afternoon with fellow writers.

They let me give the first chapter of MG V3.0 a test run, and I got to hear some wonderful short story excerpts, and poetry. And, as Tory Bauer always knew, the pie in small cafes is wonderful. I don't know if I'll be able to go to the meeting next month, but I'm going to try.

Blog reader and Raveler, Anne, has knit a pair of wristers from my pattern, for a young woman who was severely and permanently injured in a distracted driving accident. Aren't they lovely? And isn't that a wonderful gesture? Thanks for sharing, Anne.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Final(ish) Cover for the e-book version of Funeral Food

I wanted to post this link  yesterday, on the evolution of the Funeral Food e-book cover, but Blogger was down for almost 24 hours. We're back in business now-so please take a moment and go look the path this notion took to becoming perfect for the book. I didn't give Curt any hints or suggestions for the style or theme- I let his brain take over. And I love the results.
The changes from the last version are minor, but wowsers, do they ever make a difference.

Now, he just has to do it 5 more times...

Friday, May 13, 2011

AI Season 10, Top 4 Elimination, 05-12-11

(Blogger was down most of yesterday and a lot of today. But I can finally post my recap from last night).

We had company and I missed the first minute or so of the intro tonight. The first thing I notice is that Steven Tyler is wearing a matching black and white print twinset, and that JLo has on a green Ice Princess top. I forget to notice what Randy is wearing.

Ryan says that 72 million votes were cast, which is a new record for a non-finale. We get a long recap of what happened last night. Lauren’s Saloon Girl outfit is still awful, Haley still has the bitch face, and Scotty still bored me with his Lee Greenwood imitation.

James and Scotty sing a country duet, which does James no favors at all. It’s also only duet in that both of them are singing the same song at roughly the same time. It’s really two soloists occupying the same stage. These kids just can’t sing together. However, James’s guitar has a target painted on it, and a raccoon tail, which makes up for just about everything.

Then Haley and Lauren sing another country song. They’re sassy and confident and they sound marginally better together, in that they’re at least trying to harmonize.

Evidently, Microsoft is now an AI sponsor, because we get a segment of the kids using Windows Live Messenger to talk to their family, as though they’ve been held prisoner by monsters in horrible LA, and they’ve never video chatted before. James screen smooch of his son is adorable though.

There are three golden stools on the stage. These are most definitely not the Stools of Despair. Tonight, Lauren is wearing perhaps the only flattering outfit she has ever worn on this show. Individually, the pieces are just as odd as always: tight, with more fringe than any human being should wear. But the fact that they’re all black makes them blend. And there are no inappropriate body parts hanging out, so Lauren looks especially good, which is nice, because she’s in the Final Three. Lauren is shocked and giddy. Haley congratulates her as she mentally prepares herself for what is coming.

Now we get to watch the kids uncomfortably watching Gaga on TV, and then we segue to Gaga on stage, though it’s obviously not a live performance, which is just as well. It’s probably illegal for a grown woman to play a cinder block and hot glue piano in her studded leather undies in front of minors.

Special Guest Star #2, Enrique Iglesias is 36 years old. Why the hell is he dressed like Justin Beiber? I know this song is actually about someone who is a Dirty Dirty Dancer, but it honestly sounds to me like he’s summoning a Hurdy Gurdy Dancer, which would be so much more interesting than this pro-tooled mess. Also, there are balloons. Big ones. Have I ever mentioned that balloons give me the willies?

The Fordmercial has the kids playing with lights and photography, and it’s boring. Then we’re back to the couch, where James and Scotty are embracing large balloons. Ick.

Special Guest Star #3 is Jordin Sparks. She is singing I Am Woman, and I assume that we are neither going to hear her roar, nor watch her bring home the bacon. She enters in a silver raincoat that is surely going to be removed very soon. Yep, here’s the striptease. Our little Jordin is all grown up, and wearing a Tina Turner dress. She’s writhing and grinding all over the stage. Evidently, in order to be a pop star, one must synthesize a perfectly lovely voice out of existence. Good to know.

I guess that Steven Tyler is not really Special Guest #4, but we “get” to see his new video, which is just Steven Tyler unencumbered by Aerosmith. We start out black and white, and… okay… I never, ever, want to see anyone’s finger inside Steven Tyler’s nostril again. Ever. Now the video goes to color, and here’s a perfect juxtaposition: Old Rocker Dude being watched avidly by a buzzard. And of course, he’s flirting with, and leering at, a very young girl who is leering even more creepily back at the camera. That said, I would rather listen to this song than Jordin or Enrique. Or JLo, for that matter. But only if I cover my eyes. I will never unsee him playing patty cake on some girl’s ass.

And finally, we’re getting to the important stuff. Well the stuff that matters to the show, anyway. Haley, in hot pants and a gauzy orange top under which she is definitely wearing a push-up bra, braces herself for the news that… she is in the Top 3.

Oh my. No one, least of all Haley, expected that. But Lauren is happy. And so is Haley. Shocked, but happy.

Also shocked? James and Scotty. Both are a little pale, and Scotty looks a little less smug than usual. Here we go… aaaannnndddd… James is out.

I didn’t see that one coming. Neither did James, though he babbles on for awhile about it. James’s video journey traces the evolution of his hair, which looks ever so much better flat, and with highlights. He sings Maybe I’m Amazed to his tearful wife, and he holds it together fairly well. Remember Daughtry, James. All will be well.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Thursday Tab- Lowe School Children #2742, 1963

Paper Doll Friend Lorie is sharing this great Lowe book. School Children #2742 was published in 1963. The dolls in this set are very familiar- I think we may have had this one, though I don't recognize any of the clothes. Since all paper doll publishers recycled both dolls and clothes, it's entirely possible that I had a reprint of this one as a kid. The perforations on the scans look like the whole book was printed on card stock. The fact that there are 5 pages of clothes seems to confirm that- the final page would have been the back cover of the book.

Thanks once again, Lorie!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

AI Season 10, Top 4 Performance, 05-11-11

Clips: Clay! Carrie! Gokey! Elliott! Kris! Cook! Bo! Gokey again! Carrie again! Jordin! Taylor!!! Archuletta! Lauren! James! Haley! Scotty! Contrary to the voice-over, these kids are popular, but they are not Heroes. Next week, the remaining 3 get the Hometown Visits, though when it comes down to it, all 4 of them will be going home next week. One of them will be staying there, for one week anyway.

Randy is wearing a wrinkly gray jacket. And when I say wrinkly, I mean that it looks like someone took the jacket out of the washer, rolled it up in a ball, let it dry, shook it out, and then put it on Randy.
JLo is wearing a one-shouldered, tight, denim dress with a chest ruffle that goes over one shoulder and under the other arm. Her hair is pulled up into a topknot-ponytail, and her eyelashes look like she glued tarantulas to them.
Steven is in a tan jacket and brown pants. He almost looks like a real human being, if you ignore the face, and hair, and earrings, and jewelry, and feathers.

Ryan reminds us that in two more weeks, we'll all be released from our bondage. The kids come out, and I usually wait until the individual performances to talk about clothes, but I will briefly mention that Miss Kitty is in the house.

We're doing two rounds tonight: Inspirational songs, and the music of Lieber and Stoller. This will be interesting.

#1 James: James is doing Journey's Don't Stop Believin', and just in case we didn't remember that the song was done originally by Journey (and as though Randy won't remind us a dozen times in about 3 minutes), James is wearing a Journey tee under his tux jacket with the 3/4 sleeves. James starts on the stairs, and from the first moment, he takes command of the stage and the performance. He sounds absolutely fantastic. Wow! He nailed that song. Randy finally has a legitimate reason to name-drop. The judges are blown away, and James works the fish-lips while Ryan gives his numbers.

#2 Haley: Haley is doing some sort of Michael Jackson inspirational song, which I assume is not about overnighters with small boys. She's wearing a sparkly lizzard-skinish top with a jaggedy hem, leggings and heels, with her hair in a curly up-do. Somehow, she manages to look like Aunt Cleo on her way to the casino for a night with the slots. Haley is center stage, and a gospel choir takes the stairs. I don't know about this. There is lots of shouting and stomping and growling, and pretty much everything that I do not love about Haley. Oh, there's Casey in the audience! Hi Casey! I think Haley might be suffering more from coming right after James, than anything else, but I definitely did not enjoy the song. Randy and JLo are not impressed, and Haley is not impressed with them. Oh Haley, sweetie, no. Hush. Back talk only  hurts you. Also: try not to have that look on your face while The Judges are tearing apart your performance.

#3. Scotty: Scotty is in a black leather jacket and he's singing Alan Jackson. He takes the stool with his guitar, accompanied by a fiddle player. Man, that's a big guitar. I don't know this song, but there is God and Jesus and Iraq and Iran, and the sort of Lee Greenwood flag-saluting that makes me squirmy. It's a usual Scotty performance, very well sung, and pretty much indistinguishable from anything else he has ever sung on the show. I can't help wishing he'd stretch. Just a bit.

#4 Lauren: Oh my. Lauren is wearing a burgundy satin abomination- it's short in the front, long and bustled in the back, ruched and draped all over. She'd fit right in at the Long Branch Saloon. Before she starts singing, Ryan has Casey and Paul shill for the tour. Lauren is singing something by Martina McBride. I've been worried about Lauren. Her age and lack of confidence have steadily affected her performance skills, which have eroded. She's obviously fragile, and though I like her personally more than I like Haley, she's absolutely not ready for this. I'm not certain that staying won't damage her more than being eliminated. I wish she could just go home and be a small town cheerleader again, without feeling like a failure. The judges loved her performance unanimously, but I thought she was off key throughout.

Round 1- James was the winner. Randy threw Haley under the bus by saying flat-out that the others were all better (which is arguable- I'd say that Lauren was equally bad).

So, who better to mentor the kids on Leiber and Stoller songs than Lady Gaga. Am I right? I'll try to describe her outfit, but I doubt I can do it justice. She is wearing a white and black page-boy wig, with black bangs, and a black spray-painted horizontal stripe right at about ear level. She has very dark and spiky eye liner drawn over her eyes. And then the same motif, flipped and drawn about a half inch under her eyes as well. She has bright red lips and a black beauty mark the size of a quarter on her cheek, which looks like it was drawn with a Sharpie. She's wearing a black leather-look onesie, with long sleeves and built-in gloves dangling from the ends. The high neckline is studded with metallic spangles. And her shoes are those weird heels that have 12" platforms. It goes without saying that she is not wearing pants. The woman is a Space Alien. Either that, or she's suffering from a deep and desperate need for attention at any price. An Attention Deprived Space Alien.

#5 Haley. Haley is singing I Who Have Nothing. Somehow, Gaga gets Haley to understand exactly what she needs to do on this song. Haley has changed into a charcoal sparkly dress that is a shorter, bustle-free sister to Lauren's Saloon garb. She has a small string orchestra backing her up... and... okay, this is a thousand percent better than her earlier performance. It's subtle and controlled, and really, really good. Haley is the polar opposite of Lauren- there is a core of steel in her, and I think this performance was a big 'ol FU to the judges. Haley could, however use a math lesson. She probably meant to say that she had 540 degree turnaround...

#6 Scotty: Gaga tells Scotty to treat the microphone like it's a girl who wants his tongue down her throat. Scotty is, understandably given that he's only 17, a little uncomfortable with this advice. But once again, Gaga gets him to do what he needs to do in his performance. I don't know this song, but Scotty is loose and goofy, and singing in his upper range. This was still nothing outside of Scotty's box, and if this was a level playing field, I would wonder if it was a good enough performance (and song selection) for this stage of the competition. But word is that Scotty is the vote leader, and I doubt that his fan base will abandon him now.

#7 Lauren has changed into bronze sparkles and 80's shoulder pads. Her hair is studded with rhinestones. Gaga gets to the heart of things by telling Lauren that she (Gaga) was a weird teenager, and would never have gotten on Idol. She convinces Lauren that pretending convincingly to be *evil* is not the same as actually being evil. Lauren struts out on stage, and it's like she's an entirely different person. Her range is limited, and she still hits a couple of wonky notes, but this performance is also a thousand percent better than her first one. I do not, for one minute, believe that Lauren is Evil. I doubt she can even manage naughty, but I do believe that she can grow as a performer, which is better for her in the long run.

#8 James is singing Love Potion #9. Both Gaga and I have our doubts about this choice. And James's first arrangement is well beyond cheesy. Gaga tells him to put some swivel into the song, demoing the hip moves from behind, which makes James a bit jumpy. James enters from the stairs, and proves that he is the only one of this bunch who can walk down stairs and sing at the same time. This song is wild- he changed his original arrangement, thank goodness, and maybe added just a tinch too much Lambert, but the crowd is on its feet. James has them exactly where he wants them.

Winner Round 2: Haley

I groaned when I heard that Lady Gaga was going to mentor, but she gave every one of the kids excellent advice. And even more amazing- all four listened to her, and incorporated her suggestions into their performance. Go figure.

My Rankings for the songs:
1. James #1
2. Haley #2
3. James #2
4. Lauren #2
5. Scotty #1
6. Scotty #2
7. Lauren #1
8. Haley #1

Based on my entire ranking, Scotty is actually at the bottom. But I don't want him to go home, and I doubt that he will. My guess is that it's going to be bye-bye Haley tomorrow night.

The e-book cover for Funeral Food

Most of you know that before I started writing knitting books, I wrote six mysteries in the Tory Bauer series. The books were published as paperback originals by Avon (I shared an editor with Dennis Lehane and Laura Lippman, which is some pretty amazing company). The books have been out of print for quite awhile, but the first three are being readied for release in the Kindle format (with the Nook version to follow shortly thereafter). My son, Curtis Taylor,  is designing the covers for the e-books. He has two blogs, Curtis Taylor, Artist and Illustrator, where he details his journey as a new writer (and sells his own original artwork and note cards), and Hop Head Said, a beer-blog that he writes for Ventura County. I love his work, and one of the pleasures of releasing these books in a new format, is that I got to choose the cover artist. I did not hesitate.

We expect Funeral Food, Sex and Salmonella, and The Hotel South Dakota (which is the correct reading order- ignore their original publication order) to be available next month. If you're completely unfamiliar with the series, the Amazon reviews will give you a notion of what to expect (hint: bad words, and no knitting).

Curt has been working on the covers for a few months, and yesterday, he sent me an almost-final draft of the cover for Funeral Food. There may be some minor tweaks, but this one is pretty well finished.
I don't know about you, but I love it!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Scooter Manual- Part 3

Work on the book is progressing and I don't want to interrupt myself. To hold you over, and for your amusement, here are some more Scooter Manual pages.

Draw the rear braking bar urgently.

...please puts down the horn...

Please exhaust air in the good condition of air because the exhausting air is poisonous.

...confirm you seat right.

When resolve the rear wheel lock, the throttle doesn't add up oil, if else will happen danger.

From innter to outer: the speed will become fast.

Monday, May 9, 2011

More Random

Or maybe not so much *random*, as non-existant. I've been working today on MG V.3.0 (woohoo!), so there isn't a lot to show except:
I finished the Good Health socks. They really are exactly the same size- the difference is an optical illusion.

And the creek is un-rising. See the dark ground on the penninsula? The water level has dropped that much in the last two days.

And the leaves are finally showing up. Woohoo!

I should finish a chapter today, and I should have more to write about tomorrow. I promise.