Monday, February 28, 2011

This 'n That

I only saw one movie last year, and that was Inception (I was there alone- not alone, as in not having a movie date, I mean that I was the only person in the entire theater. It was a mildly unsettling experience). When it comes down to it, I rarely see any of the nominated movies until they come out on DVD (a result of living a long way from a first-run theater, and a disinclination go go anywhere at night). But I always watch the Oscar telecast, just to see the dresses.

Mostly last night, the dresses were stunning (and I don't say that lightly). Mila Kunis managed to look nearly naked and yet fully covered, and totally amazing. Hailee Steinfeld was perfectly adorable and age-appropriate.  Helen Mirren was Helen Mirren was jaw-dropping. I liked most of Anne Hathaway's dresses.

Even the intermediate ones weren't bad. A bit of sparkle around the neck would have kept Jennifer Lawrence's dress from looking like a formal version of Farrah Fawcett's swimsuit. A little less foof would have helped Halle Berry's dress. Nicole Kidman would have looked fine, minus the hip-wrap.

There were only a couple of real disasters: Annette Benning's dress did absolutely nothing for her (and was Warren Beatty drunk on the Red Carpet?). Cate Blanchet's dress looked like a mold encrusted picture frame, featuring her torso. And the less said about Scarlett Johansson's hair, the better.

All in all, an entertaining show, if you mostly ignored the hosts (who weren't as awful as many are saying, they just weren't very good). And there's no such thing as too much Colin Firth. Since The Oscars aren't American Idol, I could knit instead of taking notes.

I took a short break from plain and mitered leftover hats to knit Mary's Winter Garden Hat. The pattern is available from her blog, and on Ravelry.

I love love love the swirly decreases.

This lovely hat is a quick knit- I started it around supper time, and finished before the end of The Oscars. The yarn is Rowan Colourscape Chunky, colorway: Autumn, which I bought at Athena Fibers, before we left for California. It's beautiful yarn, and I thought I was going to make a mitered hat with it, but the repeats are too long. Turns out, that was a good thing- it's perfect for Mary's hat pattern. And best of all- one skein has enough yarn to knit two hats, and since the color changes are long, and the shades change throughout, Hat #2 is not going to be identical to Hat #1, except for the stitch pattern.
The Opal Dumbledore socks are coming along. For a colorway/repeat this chaotic, it's matching up perfectly! Go figure.

And finally, things are back to normal on Amazon, with Fearless Fair Isle Knitting doing just fine, thank you. But for one brief moment on Saturday, there was some major excitement in my neck of the woods!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Drum roll...

It's obnoxious as hell, but this has never happened to me before:

And it will likely only last an hour, so I figured I'd better document it. I'm chilling the champagne as I type!

Bits 'n Pieces

It's been a long time since I wrote a post just about the knitting I've been doing. It's nice to get back to the  normal routine, which won't last, since I'm leaving again, in a week, for the Pacific Northwest this time.

But in the meantime,
 I finished this leftover hat on the way to Sioux Falls, before we left for California. It's all Noro and  Boku, with a little bit of the Noro/Angora blend in there, so it's fuzzy. These hats are so quick-to-knit, and they fit so well into my Stash Busting Routine.
 I finished the Araucania boot socks, knitted from the yarn I bought (woohoo for appearances- the only time I can buy yarn!) at Loop & Leaf in Santa Barbara. I worked a very easy waffle texture, which plays off the tweedy colorway very well.
 I'm keeping these for myself- a souvenir of my trip! (and the wonderful folks at Loop & Leaf)
 This yarn isn't leftover, though it is from the stash. It's Opal Harry Potter themed yarn, which is no longer being produced. I bought it at Expressions in Watertown, SD, when I was doing a signing for I Heart Felt. This colorway is called Dumbledore, though I can't imagine why. Nothing about the combination of colors suggests Dumbledore to me- I would have expected blacks, browns, greys, and maybe some electric yellow, though I can't tell you why I think that. In any case, it's lovely yarn, and these are going in the BToKT for Christmas (I know who's getting them already).

In the Very Cool Section: reader Chris knitted this felted bear (from Knit One, Felt Too) for a friend who has a new baby on the way! Thanks for sharing, Chris!

And in the Blatant Self Promotion Section, look what I found on Amazon this morning!

And cooler yet? The #1  book on the Fashion list is 101 Sock Yarn Wonders. I'm in that one too!!!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

AI Season 10, 02-24-11, Thursday, Top 24 Eliminations

To recap the recap- Naima, Paul, Hayley, Clint, and Ashthon are already in the Top 24. And we're in LA, not Las Vegas, in some warehouse tricked out like an alien storage facility from The X-Files. JLo is having a hard time with the ejection of Chris Medina, complete with real crying, and cast-iron mascara. She gets it together eventually (as though there was any doubt- the woman survived Gigli, American Idol cannot break her). So we continue on.

Karen Rodriguez, shown from an earlier performance in high waisted black pants and a strapless top, sings in Spanish and sounds nice. She walks the long mile in a black, scoop-neck tee, a short floofy skirt, heels, and a top-knot. She's in.

Ryan says something about the Top 12 Girls. Hmmm. I thought they weren't going to divide them out by gender this year.

Robbie Rosen sings a breathy final solo on the stool of seriousness. He hears the verdict in a leather jacket with pushed up sleeves. He's in.

For some reason, I suddenly notice the Judging Footwear. Randy is wearing black and white hounds tooth shoes, but that's nothing compared to Steven Tyler's tan Mary Janes. And I swear that they have bows.

Tatynisa floundered in polkadots, and then did better in a one-shouldered, tight, red dress. She walks the mile, solidly packed into a gray knit dress. Tatynisia babbles for quite awhile before getting the nod.

Brittany and Jimmy get no's, but we don't know either one, so we don't care.

Ah, now I remember Tim Halperin. He accompanies his original final solo on the piano, and he's in.

Julie Zorilla is wearing a full skirted, strapless concoction that reminds me of Julie Lawry from The Stand. she doesn't do it for me at all, but she gets a Yes. In her excitement, she picks Ryan up, and they both fall over.

Ryan joshes with the cowboys, and they're all adorable.

Scotty McCreery will never live *nuts of wonder* down, but he makes up for it with his solo. I really love his deep deep voice. I'm not much into Country, but I could listen to his CD. He's in.

Unfortunately, that means that pretty pretty John Wayne Schulz isn't in. However, he has a pleasant voice, and have I mentioned how pretty he is? I suspect he'll find his way to Nashville, and success. Soon.

Jovany, of the egregious abs, is in. I am not excited about this.

Well, that's 12 of the Top 24, and so far, we have 6 Gals and 6 Guys. So much for no gender equality.

Lauren Turner is a maid. Did we know that? Did we know Lauren at all? She's wearing a black leather jacket, and a short sparkly skirt. She has a big voice, and big hair. She's in, and her friend pretends to fall down in a dead faint and makes Ryan nervous.

Aaron, and a girl we've never seen before (with gorgeous eyes, and a bit of an attitude) are sent home.

Rachel Zevita is in some sort of 40's costume as dreamed up by someone who knows nothing about the 40's. She's a repeat auditioner, and former opera student. Her personal style (which tries way too hard to be Quirky, and only succeeds in being Exhausting), and her singing style (which tries way to hard to be cutting edge, and mostly succeeds in being ear-shattering) will get old very quickly. I'll have time to find out, since she's in.

Kendra Chantelle does not a thing for me. She's in, but I suspect she's cannon fodder.

Though I would be delighted if Jordan Dorsey went home, I am pretty sure that he's not going anywhere. I find him arrogant and generally unpleasant, and I'm right. He's in.

Okay, we're up to 16- 9 Gals and 7 Guys.

Good Heavens- someone please remind Lauren Alaina that she's only 15. She has several decades during which she can dress like a 32 year old on her way to the Barfly Prom.  Right now, I think she should cover up a bit. And of course, she's in.

Stefano Langone, with all the scars, is more cannon fodder.

Jackie Wilson wants to know why she is being sent home, which is never a good idea. But her old old boyfriend comforts her.

I can't possibly be lucky enough to get rid of Jacob Lusk, and his 12 or 13 voices. The more I hear and see of him, the less I like him. And I disagree with Randy absolutely- Jacob's God Bless the Child was an overwrought mess- a very long way from the best performance in the history of the show. And nope, I am not lucky.

Pia Toscano has a generic voice and style. She's in.

Simple math, and the sneak peek at the final 3 guys vying for the last spot (and the fact that Casey isn't among them), tells me that James Durbin is in. I'm glad about that, and I hope that the stylists convince him to ditch the butt scarf.

You may have heard the news that Casey Abrams was taken to the hospital yesterday, with stomach pains. As far as I know, he's still in the hospital, and his diagnosis has not been announced. All of the news reports also gave away the fact that he is part of the Top 24, which was already pretty obvious, so it wasn't much of a spoiler. However, he won't stay in the Top 24, or on the show at all, if he isn't released in time to tape the episode tomorrow. I hope he feels better, because I want more from him.

There are just two girls left, and only one will get the nod. I am not particularly impressed with either Thia or Jessica, but based on previous air time, I assume Thia is sticking around. They're definitely a contrast, with Thia in a little girl pink party dress, and Jessica in tight, black leather. This is Jessica's 7th try for AI Fame and Fortune, and any residual good feeling I might have about her evaporates with her rant about how she should be the one staying, and how this mean and terrible show ruined her 25th birthday. I hope she just insured that there will be no 8th opportunity.

There are 3 guys left, none of whom can count. Brett Lowenstern sang a fairly terrible original song for his final solo. Jacee Badeaux had a nice solo, but he's still not ready for this. Colton Dixon, with the long-lost sister, actually sounds pretty good. Brett gets the nod, to no one's surprise. This is the absolute best thing that could have happened to Jacee- give him a couple of years and a voice change, and he can come back and knock our socks off.

So- the Top 12 Guys are: Brett, Jovany, Jacob, Paul, Clint, Robbie, Stefano, Jordan, Tim, James, Casey, and Scotty. The Top 12 Gals are: Naima, Julie, Karen, Lauren, Kendra, Ashthon, Rachel, Hailey, Thia, Lauren, Pia, and Tatynisa.

Next week- three episodes, and audience voting. Let the fun begin!

Thursday Tab- Whitman #1962 Ballet Cut-Outs, 1964

Paper Doll Friend Lorie has come through again, with a wonderful ballet set from Whitman, that I'd never seen before. Ballet Cut-Outs, from 1964, has 5 dolls, and outfits for 5 ballets, as well as other clothes. They're all wonderfully drawn, and I would have loved this set, even though I was officially *too old* for paper dolls by the time it was published (luckily, I now know that there is no such thing).

Eagle-eyed long-timers will recognize the Anne doll in this set, as Wendy from Wendy's Wardrobe, which I posted way back in '08. I did have Wendy's Wardrobe. In fact, I had multiple copies of WW because I loved making the clothes so very much.

Thanks again for sharing, Lorie!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

AI Season 10, 02-23-11, Vegas Eliminations

I'm not sure if tonight was a single episode that was two hours long, or if it was two episodes that were an hour long apiece (since they played the whole opening bit twice), but I'm going to treat it as one episode.

Tonight, we're in Las Vegas, performing The Beatles at The Mirage where Cirque du Soleil does their Beatles themed show, Love. I will resist the urge to link to an explanation of who The Beatles are, since I assume you already know (as opposed to many of the AI kids... sigh...)

The chosen 50 (or 61) are barely given enough time to celebrate, before being told that they're hopping a bus for Vegas, and new group performances in less than 24 hours. I am dismayed at how many of them have never heard a Beatles song (though what I assume is that they don't know they've been hearing Beatles music their entire lives, since The Fab 4 are pretty impossible to escape).

We're treated to a sneak peek at the rehearsals from hell, with a drill-sergeant coach, and a less than receptiveThia Megia, who has perfected the dead-eyed, serial killer look. Lauren also gets the full brunt of the coaching disapproval for using a cheat sheet for the lyrics. This is going to be really interesting.

JLo looks like the hottest secretary in the history of secretaries in a prim white blouse and very red lipstick. Steven Tyler is wearing a print shirt, with a vest and a scarf. Randy is in a black leather jacket.

James Durbin and Stefano sing Get Back. James is wearing his usual bandanna and butt scarf. He's okay, but this is nothing out of the ordinary. Stefano sounds pretty blah.

Pia and Karen sing Can't Buy Me Love, and neither sounds good.

Jacob Lusk, Hayley, and Naima sing Long and Winding Road, and only Naima sounds good. Send Jacob directly to Broadway, do not pass Go.

Rachel and someone else sing Elinor Rigby, and both sound awful.

Laruen Turner is OK on Let it Be.

Tim Halperin (who?) and Julie both play keyboard on Something, and both sound okay.

Unfortunately, Lakeisha Lewis, heretofore unheard, sounds pretty blah, along with Jerome Bell, on I Saw Her Standing There. Only Tatynisia, wearing a spandex jumpsuit with a leather bodice, sounds okay on this.

Some guy named Paul, with a very quiet voice, sings Blackbird with some girl named Kendra. This is strange, and it's totally the wrong song for Kendra. Paul is okay at best, though his constant smile is a bit unnerving.

Clint, with less round glasses than usual, sounds fine on Help. John Wayne Shultz sounds okay as well.

Oh my, unstable Ashley is getting married. For real. This cannot end well. Bridegroom David: run while you have the chance. RUN!!!

Day 2- JLo is in sparkly silver spangles, Steven Tyler is in a floaty red print shirt. Randy is in a red cardigan.

We see Thia and Melinda sing Here Comes the Sun, and it's about as bad as the coach predicted it would be.

Ashley (with a new last name and wearing the same outfit that she got married in) and Sophia sing We Can Work it Out. The Good: Ashley didn't have a psychotic break on stage. The Bad: everything else.

Lauren, Denise, and Scotty sing Hello Goodbye. It's tough for Lauren to sing something other than Aerosmith. Scotty sounds all right. The others, not so much.

Carson and Caleb sing something, but it's so horrible that I forget to write down the title.

Casey Abrams and Chris Medina take a big risk by singing while bouncing on a bed. Seriously. I think this was a big mistake.

The last performing group- Robbie, Aaron (who?), and Jordan (of the Diva behavior in Hollywood), sing Got To Get You Into My Life. Robbie and Aaron sound good. I'm meh on Jordan. I know that the props all around the stage are left from the Cirque du Soleil show, but I'm at a loss as to where a lighted cross fits into any of The Beatles music. It's distracting.

Okay, so we're down to the first set of eliminations- winnowing the 61 to 40. For sure, Thia, Scotty, Jordan, Ashthon, Robbie, and Lauren are safe. It's confusing as to whether the others with them onstage are going home or not, though it's made clear that Carson, Caleb, Denise, Melinda and newly married Ashley are done for.

As for the rest of the Top 40, your guess is as good as mine.

So, instead of segueing into the second hour of the show, we get the opening credits all over again, so this may actually be a new episode, playing directly after the first. Whatever.

Though we're in Las Vegas, we're still going to get the Walk of Terror to The Chair. This time, we're set up in a warehouse, with a very long, lighted walk to the judges for the Top 24 Eliminations. JLo is wearing a green, one-shouldered concoction. She has Jessica Rabbit hair. Steven Tyler is wearing a transparent, leopard print shirt, and he either has a long earring, or he has beads in his hair. Randy is in all black.

First up is Naima. She's wearing a blue spangly prom dress, and has a big flower in her new extensions. We get a clip of her final solo, that let your hair down song. She's in the Top 24.

Hollie Cavanaugh, in very very high heels, gets a No, though JLo has a really hard time telling her so.

Lakeisha Lewis, the big girl we never got to hear (until tonight) gets a no. So do Alex and Ryan, neither of whom we've seen, so we don't care.

Clint Jun Gamboa annoys me, and his overblown Georgia shows just what a genius Casey is, gets a yes.

Hayley Reinhart, of the growly God Bless the Child, and another growly, incomprehensible solo, gets a yes.

Young D'Andre, with the great hair and the Stage Mama, gets a No.

Paul McDonald is the one with the quiet voice. He wore a white suit splattered with glitter roses (on the jacket AND the pants) for his last solo, and gets a yes.

Ashthon Jones has a huge voice. She's wearing a one-shouldered tunic and very high heels. She gets a yes.

Chris Medina is up next. I assume that he's going to make it from all of the air-time he and his critically injured fiance have gotten. But JLo looks very sad, and ... oh... it's a no. And while Chris takes it very well, JLo is crying, and she's crying seriously, with the snurfly nose and puffy eyes and everything. And, what the hell? I'm crying too. What has this show done to me?

From dreading this season, I'm not only invested in the kids, I actually like the judges, and I'm sad that beautiful Jennifer Lopez is sad. As for the rest of the Top 24- we'll find that out tomorrow night. I can't wait.

There is no hope for me.

Fog + Cold + No Wind = Fairyland

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

AI Season 10- Casey Abrams, Georgia

For the three of you who read the AI recaps but do not watch the show, here's Casey's Georgia. Yes, I know that he wobbles a note or two, but man... he's good. Good enough to turn Jennifer Lopez into Joe Cocker, anyway.

...and yes, I do have a *type*...

Monday, February 21, 2011

AI Season 10- Thursday 02-17-11, Hollywood Week #3

You know what- 4 hours of American Idol (and the accompanying recapping) in one day, is a lot of American Idol. On the other hand, I am caught up again, and looking forward to Wednesday's episode.

But back to the Feb. 16 episode- it's Solo Night, and Ryan promises more drama. Oh boy!

JLo is wearing a lime green, long-sleeved, knit top, and black sparkly shorts. Her hair a combo of upswept and down, and it looks the kind of messy-good that costs a whole lot of money to achieve.
Tyler is wearing a black and white print shirt, and Randy is wearing a black and white harlequin-diamond sweater.

First up is Hayley Reinhart. She's blonde, and is wearing a cute little black dress. She's singing God Bless the Child with perhaps a tinch too much growl, but it's still good.

Ashthon Jones has elevated the bosoms in a really great, slinky red dress. She's singing And I Am Telling You, and she definitely has the voice for it.

Thia Megia is 15, and she's wearing a cool, colorful sweater (intarsia, I think). She's singing Wonderful World. I have never much liked her voice, and I still don't.

Adrian Michael, Caleb Johnson, and Frances Coontz sing in quick succession, and only Frances makes an impression. A really bad impression.

Clint Jun Gamboa sings Georgia skillfully, but with way too much embroidery. Then a whole string of girls also sing Georgia, and I like all of their versions much better than Clint's.

Carson Dixon and Chris Medina both sing My Prerogative. Carson does it Bobby Brown-ly, and Chris gives it a folky/accoustic turn. The audience likes Carson's version better.

Julie Zorilla sings that Write You a Love Song song, at the keyboard. Caleb Hawley plays a guitar. Colton Dixon and Robbie Rosen both play the keyboard. Brett Lowenstern plays guitar. I didn't write down anything about the songs they sang, but they were all at least okay.

Casey Abrams comes out with a bass, and since he does something completely different every time he performs, I am excited to see what he's going to do. He starts out strumming the bass, and then segues into Georgia. But it's not just Georgia, it's the best, most amazing version of Georgia that I've ever heard (and that includes Ray Charles and Taylor Hicks). This is flat out fantastic! He gets a Standing O from the audience, and I rewind the DVR and listen to it again.

Jacqueline Dunford, she of the ever-smiling, eliminated boyfriend, withdraws from the competition for health reasons, which disturbs Chelsee Oaks (whose name I have misspelled consistently throughout). Chelsee is upset that Jacqueline is gone, and declares that J is her best friend, which I find a little confusing. Chelsea starts out weakly, but she builds as she sings, though there are lots of bad notes.

Lauren Alaina continues her habit of shamelessly playing to Steven Tyler. It's getting old.

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.

Pretty pretty cowboy, John Wayne Schultz sings a pretty pretty country song with his pretty pretty country voice and his guitar.

Ashley Sullivan is manic- excited to sing some Michael Buble song a Capella for her boyfriend. She starts out shaky but sounding okay, and then, with no warning at all, she disintegrates. It's just as well that she does this now, because she is obviously not stable enough to survive the AI wringer.

Stefano Langone skips all over the stage to Stevie Wonder's All Over. Jovany Baretto sings something a Capella. Jacee Badeaux sings- he's a sweet kid, but he's not ready for this. Give him a couple of years (and a voice change) and let him try again.

Scotty McCreery forgets his lyrics, and actually sings the words *nuts of wonder*, but he's pragmatic about the screwup. Tatynisa Wilson also messes up her words, but she isn't nearly as calm about it.

So, the 100 have performed, and now they're being divided into four rooms.

Room 1 has Ashley, Jacee, Brett, Lauren and Junebug. Based on them alone, I would say that this room was heading home. But it also has Chris Medina, Robbie, James Durbin and Casey Abrams. They're moving on. I'm not happy that the show is putting Ashley through more of this.

Room 2 is filled with people I don't recognize. Randy gives them a very nice pep talk before they're sent packing.

Room 3 has Chelsee, Other Guitierrez Brother, and Frances Coontz. They're also gone.

Which leaves Room 4, including Theia, Julie, Carson, Jovany, Scotty, John Wayne Schultz, and a Big Girl we've caught glimpses of but have heard nary a note of singing. I hope we get to hear her soon.

Speaking of which- next week is Las Vegas, and The Beatles, and winnowing the group to the Top 24. Woohoo!

AI Season 10- Wednesday 02-16-11, Hollywood Week #2

Well, the advantage to writing a recap from the DVR is that I can fast forward through the commercials. I cut about 26 minutes that way. Who knew?

Anyway, this episode is two hours of Group Night, which is always entertaining, what with the breakdowns, and angst, and tears, and occasional singing worth listening to.

Evening 1: At 8:30pm on Day 2 of Hollywood (which is really Pasadena), all of the survivors are gathered together in the auditorium. The Day 1 kids thought they were ahead of the game by breaking into groups and rehearsing a full day ahead of the Day 2's, but such an unfair advantage is not to be- not only must all of the kids form groups (of 3 or more), but the groups MUST be comprised of survivors from both days. So kids- consider this a warning: the house always wins.

There is a mad, and increasingly desperate, scramble to regroup and integrate the proper composition of singers. Horrible Tiffany Rios cooked her own goose by announcing to one and all that she was better than the rest, and now no one wants her in their group. And I mean: no one. Most of the groups won't listen to her sing- they even avoid eye-contact with her. She approaches Scotty McCreedy, and tries to flirt him into acceptance. Skeptical Scotty asks for an audition, which Tiffany can hardly believe. But she does sing, kneeling in front of him suggestively, which skeeves poor (and might I add, young) Scotty totally. He can't get away from her fast enough.

Ryan promised drama, and for a change, he wasn't kidding. I'm not going to recap the many mini-dramas, except to say that unstable and weepy Ashley Sullivan is weepy and unstable. She declares an intention to quit and leave her group in the lurch. Oh, and Clint Junbug is a jerk- he arbitrarily cut Jacee (the chubby 15 year old, with the angelic, unchanged, voice) for no reason that I can discern. Poor Jacee wanders around for a long time, before he's absorbed into another group.

The kids practice all night. They sing, they fight, they weep, they have power struggles, they complain about Stage Mamas, they find out who can and who can't dance, and eventually, they collapse.

Day 2: JLo is wearing a gold top with 80's spangles and shoulder pads, and light colored satin harem pants, Steven Tyler is in a metallic gold shirt, and Randy is in a very busy red jacket.

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.

Group #2- 4 +1: Jordan Dorsey, who was majorly annoying the night before, and a real Diva, Robbie Rosen, and 3 unnamed members all get the okay.

Group #3- 440, Adrian Michael, Lauren Turner, Erica and Shane (no last names for them), all make it.

Group #4: Horrible Tiffany Rios and the only person she could poach to sing with her, a Jessica Something. They had to get a special dispensation to do a duet, since no one else would sing with them. Tiffany is wearing unfortunate animal print shorts. They sing that to-the-left song, starting out on the floor and then clumsily standing up. They're so awful that Randy laughs out loud. He stops them mid-song and tells them no. Not surprisingly, Tiffany simply cannot believe that anyone can deny the awesomeness of Tiffany.

Group #5 Spanglish has a bit of drama. One guy simply forgets to show up for the performance. The camera crew knocks on the door, which has a do-not-disturb hanger, and wakes him up. He seems confused about the existence of cameras, and the reason he's there to begin with (and I suspect he was not alone in the motel room). The judges graciously wait for him to get his shit together. Kevin Campos (the slacker), Jorge Gabriel, Karen Rodriguez and Jovany Baretto, perform. Jovany and Karen move on. Kevin probably goes back to bed.

Group #6: Omigod- some girl is pulling a noodle out of her nose, a trick I refuse to watch, much less describe.  She and her purposely skanky group pull Steven up on stage, where they cleverly sing directly to his groin, which he enjoys hugely. Unfortunately, only Lauren Alaino goes through.

Group #7- Nashville Stars has Colton Dixon and backwoods feller Matt Dillard, and some other people. Matt is bad, Colton is good, and the judges react accordingly.

Next up is a long list of awful, including Paris Tassin (she of the special-needs child). Unfortunately, Emily Anne Reed and Aaron Gutierrez are also cut, though the other Gutierrez Brother makes it.

Group #8- The Hits: four girls, including Ashley, who didn't quit, though she looks like she's going to shatter. Keeira Lynn Ford, Ashley Sullivan, Ashthon Jones and someone else, all sound fantastic together. If this isn't a Beyonce song, then it should be. All of them make it, including the one without a name.

Group #9- The Minors, with their really obnoxious Stage Mamas: Keonna Evans, Jalen Harris, Sariana-Joi Crowe, and Deandre B-something. Frankly, I didn't love this, but the judges did, and so we'll be stuck with their mothers for awhile.

Group #10 Deep D's: sing the same Queen song as the Minors. James Durbin, Emma Henry, Danny Pate, Caleb Johnson, and John Someone sing, and man, this is bad. Only Caleb and James make it through.

Group #11- The only thing my notes say about this group are the names Corey Levoy and Hollie Cavanaugh, and the word *bad*. But I think Corey and Hollie made it through anyway.

Group #12 Night Owls: Casey Abrams, Dan Noguchi, Lara Johnston, Julie Zarillo, and Melissa Lucas sing an a Capella Get Ready. Casey and Julie go through.

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.

Group #14- 4 Non-Blondes and That Guy : Caleb Hawley, Chris Medina, Devyn Rush, Erin Something, and Carson Higgins (who is That Guy). All make it through except Devyn, who falls apart.

Group #15- Sugar Mama & The Babies: Denise Jackson, Stevie Cain, Natalie Hansen (Sugar Mamas), Bret Lowenstern, and Jacee Badeaux (the Babies). Oh my, Jacee sounds pretty terrible, but he is very lucky to have had a recent sob story (being cut from his group), and he gets to go through with all of the rest.

Group #16- The Guaps: Clint Jun Gamboa is the one who cut Jacee. The judges give them grief about this, and Scotty McCreedy apologizes. Monique De Los Santos, Frances Coontz and the guys sing Get Ready, arranged around Scotty's bass. WOW!!! This may be the best group sing in the history of the show. they all go through, of course.

Group #17- Three's Company: Jacqueline without Nick, Rob and Chelsea, who have all had a rough night. Rob basically gave up, and his performance showed it. Rob was cut, but truly, all three were bad. The girls were just plain lucky.

So, the next episode is Solo night, where the 100 remaining are cut to 50. It should be interesting.

AI Season 10- Thursday 2/10/11, Hollywood Round 1

(recapped from the DVR)

I guess we've always flown in to or out of LAX from another direction, because I saw the Hollywood sign from the air for the first time, last week. I love Hollywood week- that's where the real competition starts. Randy, as always, assures us that this year has The Best Talent Evah!

Day 1- JLo is wearing a tight, white, short dress, with cutout shoulders, and a slicked back ponytail. Randy is in a patchwork knit cardi, and Steven is in his usual outfit. With a scarf.

Of the 327 (!) kids who made it through, 160 will sing today, in groups of 10, a Capella, with no feedback from the judges. This is a make-or-break chance for all of them.

First up is Brett Lowenstern, Carrot-Top's Mini-Me. I remember his sob-story, which consisted of having a high voice and perhaps being *otherwise oriented*. He sings Let It Be in a gravelly voice. We didn't hear any of the other 9 in the group, but Brett and someone named Cynthia make the cut.

We hear small clips of Rachael Zevita (good), Casey Abrams (jazzy good- the Seth Rogenish guy), and Thia Megia (not good at all), who all get through.

The annoying Victoria Huggins is still annoying in her purple wrap dress and matching suede boots. Unfortunately, she can still sing. But surprise, surprise- she gets cut. She and her eleven suitcases are sent home.

James Durbin, with the unfortunate bandanna, faux-hawk, and tail scarf, not to mention Tourette's and Asberger's, but fortunately a great voice, gets the go-ahead. As does Paris Tassin, whose special-needs-child-sob-story (literally, Paris did all of the sobbing) annoyed me during the auditions. Former Miss Teen USA Stormi Henly, and Lauren Alaina, with the nice big voice, sing next. Stormi goes home.

Chris Medina, with the critically injured fiance, sings, and oooh my, it sounds awful. But the judges send him through anyway.

Holly Cavanaugh still sounds good. Jacee Badeaux, 15 and yet to reach puberty, makes it. So does Robbie Rosen, with the nice boy-band voice and great falsetto.

Steve Beghun, the large accountant, sounds wobbly to me. The judges agree, and he seems to be the only one of his group not to make it.

Awwww- Sarah Sellers didn't make it. Darn. I'm not quite as sad that belly dancer Heidi Kazam was cut.

Day 2: JLo is wearing a strappy black Paula-type dress. Randy is in a red sweater with white piping at the seams. Steven is wearing a black short-sleeved jacket over a purple leopard print shirt that appears to be made of silk.

We start out with a bunch of awful. Then Ex-Couple Chelsea Oaks and Rob Bolin sing. This time, I think Chelsea sounds better, and Rob's voice has no power, but both go through. After them, horrible current couple, Jacqueline Dunford and Nick Fink are up. Jacqueline is wearing a big fabric flower in her hair, and Nick still sports the Archuletta Grin. It looks like only Nick is rejected from the group. Oh, Nick. Oh honey, no. Don't beg. And please, don't stand halfway up the aisle and start to sing again. Yikes. It's telling that girlfriend Jacqueline abandoned Nick during this pitiful performance, walking ahead (and away) alone.

Scott McCreery is still Clay Aikenish, if Clay was a bass. He sings with a good growl, though I think he missed a note or twelve. Jackie Wilson, one of the rare Biggish Girls this season, still sounds great. Jerome Bell still needlessly embroiders Marvin Gaye. All three make the cut.

Tiffany Rios, formerly with the Shiny Cut-Out Boob Stars, is wearing an outfit that is too short, too tight, too transparent, and just too too. She's also sporting major attitude, telling the judges that she's tired of listening to others try to do what she can already do. She sings, but I dislike her so much that I don't know if she's bad, or if  I just wish she was. I like formerly homeless Travis Orlando, but there's no doubt that he sounds awful. He looks pretty bad too, prancing back and forth across the stage. Travis goes home, and unfortunately, Tiffany does not.

Another group of vaguely familiar faces flash by, most of them making it to the next round, including Junebug Clint, and that girl who cried  her way to Hollywood.

In fact, 168 kids made the cut, which means that we saw and heard but a small portion of them. In fact, I don't think we heard a single unfamiliar voice in this episode. I'm happy to note that Betty Boopish Emily Anne Reed made it. Woohoo!

Next episode- Groups! Drama! Surprises! Tears! Sounds like business as usual.

Speaking for Everyone, Everywhere...

Whatever we did to piss off Mother Nature,  I heartily apologize.

Remember this?
That's what the ground looked like as we flew home on Friday. Still some snow, yes, but lots of bare ground as well.

This is what we woke up to this morning:

16" of new snow, highly  mobile.

And it's still coming down.

Please, make it stop.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


It's interesting- the trip through security at LAX on Friday was quick and painless- no full-body scanners, no invasive touching, no random body searches- just the usual x-rays, all performed faster than usual. We were through in less than 5 minutes after getting in line, as opposed to last Friday departing from Sioux Falls where I was pulled out of the line for a modified pat-down. Since I was the only one treated to the special scrutiny, I have to assume that Grey Haired Grammas have been deemed particularly dangerous of late.
When we flew out, most of the country was pure white- at least until Las Vegas or so. The weather in SD was mild last week, so a lot of the snow had melted in the interim. This shot was taken as we approached Sioux Falls. Since we're in the middle of another storm right now (with 12" of new snow predicted), I suspect it looks a little whiter from the air again. If there are any planes flying.
While we were in SoCal, the Grands finished assembling a little over half of the Papertoy Monsters. We all had great fun with them, and I'm excited to tackle the book with the SoDak contingent. Again, my only caveat with this book is to forget glue, and use tape instead. I can't imagine trying to glue all those teeny tabs (some of the *advanced* monsters have upwards of 70 tabs).

While we were in CA, I finished reading The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. I enjoyed the book without loving it- 11 year old Flavia is just a bit frightening, and her family is pretty much universally awful. But the book was entertaining, and I'll read the rest in paperback.

On the flight home, I read Laura  Lippman's The Girl in the Green Raincoat. I can recommend this novella without reservation. It first appeared in serial form in the New York Times, and is now available in paperback. It's a Tess Monaghan installment, and it's every bit as wonderful as all of Laura's other stories. And it's the perfect length to finish on a 2 hour 15 minute flight.

When we got home, I mostly collapsed, though I have done a little knitting, as you can see above. These are the Araucania socks, made with the yarn I bought at Loop & Leaf in Santa Barbara (the yarn buying moratorium is lifted only at appearances- it's the least I can do to thank a store for hosting me).

And since I am still sneezing and dripping and coughing, two days after our return, I must reluctantly admit that my cold has, indeed, come back, since there is no pollen floating around out there in the blizzard. Sigh. I am leaving again in a little over two weeks, and therefore I have put myself on notice: get well, or else.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

SoCal Days 6-7: The Song Was Wrong

It does too rain in Southern California. And when it does, it pours.

But that worked out okay- I needed a down day after the lovely, but hectic Tuesday, so a quiet Wednesday was perfect. Something in the air here has played hell with my allergies since we arrived, so I've been snurfed up the whole time (the date palms are blooming, maybe that's it). By yesterday morning, my voice was nothing more than a squeak, so a rainy day was exactly what I needed (this isn't a cold- though the difference is nil, I'm still sneezing and coughing... sigh). This is the first time this has happened (in 3 visits here) and I have not let it interfere with the wonder of SoCal, and the enormous pleasure of kids and Grands, but still... bleh.

 I did a little knitting (I'm past the heel on the Araucania sock, yarn from Loop & Leaf), and some reading. I finished Joe Hill's 20th Century Ghosts, which is a short-story compilation. I liked it a lot, and 2 of the stories, I really really liked ( Best New Horror, which is the most unsettling story I've read in a long time, and the title story, which is just plain wonderful). Young and talented Mr. Hill does not make an issue of his parentage, so I won't either. And I started The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, which I like, but do not love. The characters are fun, but none of them (including main character, 11 year old Flavia) are particularly likable. I'll probably finish the book on the plane tomorrow.

Since we're 40 minutes from LAX, and our flight takes off at 8:00am tomorrow, we'll be on the road at 0:darkthirty, and I will likely not post in the morning, so here are a few last pics from our wonderful wonderful (clogged sinuses notwithstanding) visit.
 Channel Islands Harbor.
 Eucalyptus trees from the butterfly preserve.
 The daytime moon, framed by an arch at Meditation Mount.
Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara, on a cloudy and humid day.

Oh, tomorrow is also our 40th Anniversary. Not bad for a pair of 18 year olds in their stocking feet in a double-wide trailer, with a Justice of the Peace. And they said it would never last... We fooled them!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Very Busy Tuesday- SoCal Day 5

 We started out the day here, at Element Coffee, for the best coffee I've had in my entire life. Granted, I know almost nothing about coffee, but even I could tell that this was good stuff.
 From there, we went to the train depot. These are the 5 Camarillo Stallions, which decorate the interior of the loading docks. We took the Amtrack Surfliner, from Camarillo to Santa Barbara.
 The train was quiet and comfy, and the seats had a lot more room than your average airline seats.
 I tried to take pictures of the surf on the way to Santa Barbara, but none turned out. We rode right along the shorline for about half of the hour-long trip, and the scenery was gorgeous!
 We got to Santa Barbara with plenty of time for a walking tour of Stearns Wharf.
 Note the hair- it was extremely humid (that's definitely my Summer Frizzies).
 It was gorgeous anyway.
 You can check out any time you like, yadda yadda. We ate lunch at the Santa Barbara Brewing Company, which was excellent (I had fish and chips).
 Then it was time to wander to Loop & Leaf  for my signing/ workshopettes.
Loop & Leaf is a lovely, small shop. I arrived about 15 minutes before the books did, but I would have enjoyed my 3 hours there, even with no books. Celeste and her staff are wonderful, and the knitters there are even moreso. I had a fantastic time, and I intend to take them up on their offer to come back and teach a full class!

 Oh yeah- yarn. I bought yarn (the moratorium is off for appearances). This is Araucania Miloden, and it's going to be heavy socks with a waffle pattern.
While I'm showing yarns off, I bought this Rowan Colourscape Chunky at Athena Fibers in Sioux Falls. It'll eventually be a mitered square hat. Lovely stuff, both yarns.

After the classes were over, we had several hours to kill before the return train, so we wandered some more, and did a beer tasting at Union Ale Brewing. I was especially taken with the Honey Blonde (that might not be exactly the right name- but it did have honey in the title).

After that we wandered a bit more, than hopped on the train for the hour-long trip back to Camarillo. It was a wonderful, exhausting day.

Today? It's raining. We're planning a quiet day, which suits me just fine.