Saturday, January 28, 2012

We got us some South Dakota Style Wind going on here

I'll grant you that Ive only been to SoCal 5 times, but I've never heard it blow like this before. Not that it's howling or anything, in fact, it's sort of like our normal South Dakota wind, but it surely is whooping around more than I've ever seen it here. Feels sorta normal to me.

 Wind or no, it's sunny and warm (I'm wearing capris and sandals... whoohoo!). And, as always, the flora fascinates me. I have no idea if the above cactus is just about to bloom, or if it just finished, but either way, it's beautiful.
And I will never get tired of seeing citrus fruits growing in pots on porches.
I've already bought the obligatory hoodie, though The Hub seems to have appropriated this one, so I may have to go shopping again. Darn.

Yesterday was a quiet day- trip to Trader Joes, and lots of napping. I slept 9 hours last night (nothing short of amazing, given that I've entered the Insomnia Years). Today, we've already taken a 3 mile walk, and we're going to go to a Chinese New Year Celebration in town, and then to an Italian Restaurant for supper.
The good food started before we even left Sioux Falls. This is a spinach and artichoke dip/shrimp/tomato flat bread pizza from Granite City. It was even better than it looks. Yesterday for lunch, we picked up little individual loaves of bread with jalapeƱos, cream cheese, and ham baked inside. I ate mine too quickly to take a picture, but trust me, it was amazing. For dessert, we had cinnamon and sugar fried tortilla tubes with cream filling (sort of like a cannoli).

I think I'd better start walking 6 miles every morning.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Checking in, and a note to an e-mail questioner

I'm here in Camarillo after a very long day yesterday- our flight wasn't scheduled to leave until 9:10pm, but the incoming flight was an hour late, and then we sat on the tarmac for another hour, waiting for the deicer to work properly. The flight itself was great- smooth and as fast as it can be, but we didn't land at LAX until well after midnight (Pacific time), and we didn't  get to bed until 2:00am. As I said, a long day.

But we're here, and it's 65 degrees and we walked in shirtsleeves for 2 miles, and we saw the palm trees, and smelled the rosemary hedges, and are just lazing around today. I'm sure I'll have pics and commentary later, after I take a nap.

After we landed last night, I checked my e-mail on my phone, and I accidentally deleted a question from a Blog poster, who asked about the Button Band Hat instructions printing out too small to read. I get these questions once in awhile, about the freebie patterns, and the solution is always the same- click on the pattern page and the instructions will open in another window, full sized. Save the jpg on your computer, and then open the file in any graphics program and print it. You'll get a full size page. If you just try to print from the blog page, all you get is the thumbnail, which is too small to be of use. I'm sorry I can't answer the questioner directly (I was pretty foggy-brained last night- not only did I accidentally delete the question, I can't find it in my trash this morning). I hope she sees this post.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Thursday Tab- Whitman Debbie Reynolds, 1957

I won't have my paper doll files in SoCal, so this will be the last Thursday Tab until I get back. I hope these scans, provided by a Paper Doll Friend, will tide you over.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

AI Season 11, 01-25-12, Aspen Auditions

We start with actual old home movies (not new contestant films) which leads into vacations, which ties into Colorado, which segues into auditions in Aspen. AI should have ponied up for John Denver- that would have saved precious minutes in setting the scene. The leaves are very pretty, though. So are the mountains.

Randy is wearing the blue and white version of Waldo's tee shirt. Steven is wearing a vest over a blue print shirt (btw- the complaints about his performance of the Star Spangled Banner at the football game are pure silliness- if they didn't want an Aerosmith version of the National Anthem, they should have invited someone else to sing it). JLo is in black sparkles and yet ANOTHER pair of pleated shorts. My God Woman, give it a rest.

First up tonight is Jenny Schick, who is hyper, and hyper annoying. She teaches *kinnergarden*. She spends a lot of time talking about getting a free pass to cheat with Steven. I'm sure her students will be fascinated, and her students' parents even moreso. She's wearing a short, tight skirt, and thigh high boots, and seems just a tad skanky for an elementary school role model. Can she sing? Not at all,  but the judges disagree with me.

Now we see some auditioner home movies, including a bunch of kids who don't want to get up early. Boo hoo.

Curtis Gray, 28, was one of the sleepy-heads. He says he's from Florida, but I hear Maine in his voice. I didn't recognize his song, but Chessa, who is here watching with me, knew it. Thanks Chessa. Curtis is annoying (though nowhere near as annoying as Jenny) and calls himself a young buck. But he has a nice enough voice.

Quickie Clips: Richie Law is this year's Scotty McCreery, Devan Jones is a soprano, Mathene Trecko massacres Hey Jude. All three went through.

Talena Hedgespeth is 19. She has a twin sister who is The Pretty One, and also The Talented One. She wears a yellow shortie jumpsuit, and her nose studs look like shiny boogers hanging from her nose.  Talena has decided that AI is her chance to break free from being The Other Twin. I suspect this will do the trick. She will now be The Twin Who Sucked on American Idol.

Haley Smith is 18, and she lives in a cabin, which does not surprise me in the least.  She sings Chaka Kahn and... hmmm... her voice is raw, but there's something in there. I want to hear more from her, and I should get that chance in Hollywood. Haley will benefit from the dental services that usually accompany the Idol makeovers.

Waitress Alina Snare is 22 but she looks 40. Her bar serves Rocky Mountain Oysters, a delicacy unfamiliar to Randy. She sings Jolene, turning a marginally awful song into something truly horrible.

Shelby Tweten, from Mankato, MN, is Bi-Polar. She says that American Idol has given her a reason to take her meds. I want her to go home and hunker down- this show is no place for someone that emotionally fragile. The meat grinder is going to chew her up and spit her out. But she has a pleasant voice, so the judges do the wrong thing and move her forward.

We now see brief clips of more bad singers (as opposed to the several much longer clips we've suffered through already).

Jairon Jackson, 19, is a rather beefy young man. He's wearing a white tee shirt and long shorts that need to be pulled up. He has a perfectly serviceable boy-band voice. Unfortunately, he chooses to sing an original song, and even more unfortunately, he acts it out. But his voice is okay, so he gets a Golden Ticket. Jairon celebrates by repeatedly grabbing his nether regions, almost losing his shorts entirely, and breaking a ceiling tile with an enthusiastic jump.

25 year old Angie Zeiderman wants to be Lady Gaga. She has purple hair, lots of facial bling, and a very very short purple print dress (hair and dress are matchy-matchy... a fashion no-no). She sings some horrible song in a Betty Boop voice and a German accent. She writhes and squats, and in general, acts like an idiot. We come very close to knowing for sure, whether or not Angie is also wearing purple panties. But then she pulls her dress down and sings an interesting version of Blue Bayou. It's not interesting enough to make up for all of the nonsense, but she gets the nod.

Last up, we are introduced to Magic Cyclops, a ridiculous guy who is probably in his mid-thirties. He's wearing sunglasses, long lanky hair, and sunglasses. He says he's from Davenport, IA. He says this in an English accent. He offers to sing "James Buffay or Crackling Rose from Neil Diamond." It really doesn't matter which song he sings, this guy is not crazy enough to warrant this audition slot- he's irritating and exhausting, and he ends his performance with an exploding confetti fart. Seriously. The judges walk out. I sincerely hope that means that we've seen the last of Magic Cyclops, but I've watched this show for too many years to bank on that.

We spent more time with bad auditions tonight than in the other three episodes put together. I would much rather have seen more of the 31 Aspen auditioners who are going on to Hollywood. Tomorrow night, they go to Texas (Houston?). I can pretty much guarantee that I won't see the show (unless it's on in the airport), and I probably won't get to the recap on Friday either. I'll catch up with the shows as I can- thanks in advance for your patience.

A needle here, a needle there

I'm leaving tomorrow. For a change, our flight isn't until later in the evening, so though we're departing from Sioux Falls (185 miles away), we still don't have to hit the road until noonish, which means that I might actually sleep the night before flying for a change- it's not fear of flying that keeps me up, it's fear of missing my flight. Evidently, my subconscious assumes that if I stay awake all night, I won't oversleep... It doesn't care if I drift off while driving to the airport, I guess. Anyway, today is an organizing and packing day (with American Idol tonight- btw, I'll recap as I can in SoCal, but I'll also set the DVR here, so if I don't have time to check the performances/auditions online there, I can watch them and recap when I get back home).

In the meantime, I've done some knitting.
 This leftover hat is made from yarn that I bought at Yarnia in Portland, during the '09 Sock Summit. Both yarns have some cotton content, and both are made up of multiple strands (some of which did not get caught in every stitch, as you can see in the scan).This one knit up on size 5 needles. Both of the yarns have a metallic strand, which also doesn't show well in the scan. Not a sparkly masculine colorway, this.
 I always do the exercises along with the class when I teach the Fair Isle design workshops. Above are the worksheets, preliminary charts, and the colored chart for the stocking I designed during the Winter Retreat last week in Asheville. I don't always like my class designs well enough to come home and knit them, but this one turned out rather well.
Don't you think?
This amazing knitted set is one of Malfrid Gausel's American Girl Doll designs (the photo is from her pattern). Yes, you're seeing correctly, the pattern has instructions not only for the wonderful Nordic Sweater and hat, but a pleated skirt, tights, shoes and a collar. Since the upcoming trip is mostly vacation (with one day of teaching in the middle), and all appearances to the contrary, I cannot read all day every day, I am suddenly taken with the notion of knitting this ensemble. I'm using dark green, gold, and white yarn (which means I'll be combining colors in the sweater and hat), all leftovers of course.

I've cast on the dark green skirt (all 270 stitches!) and have already been reminded that it is impossible for me to memorize even a 2-row repeat. But since the inside pleat folds are purls on every row, and the outside pleat folds are alternating slip stitches, it doesn't really matter if I get off a row or not (it's a doll skirt, for crying out loud, and it's not going to be entered anywhere). I figured if I started with the skirt, the rest of the set would be gravy. I'll post progress pics. If there is any progress.

Oh, just in case you want to tackle this one yourself, the Kristen in February pattern is available for purchase and download as a PDF file. The Fair Isle seems straightforward enough, though be warned- the English instructions read like they were printed directly from a translation engine. You'll have to do a fair amount of figuring out what it all means.
I'm not the only one who has been knitting lately. Susan, who completed her very first Fair Isle project in class in Asheville, went home and designed this cool Skulls and Hearts hat. Way to go, Susan!

I'll be back tonight with the AI recap, and I'll probably check in tomorrow before we leave. If not, I'll catch all y'all from Sunny SoCal!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Hanging out in 1963, by the Pampas Grass

in my dirndl...
... I would do it now too, if I had a dirndl. And some pampas grass...

AI Season 11- San Diego Auditions

I had absolutely no intention of staying up late to take American Idol notes (what doofus decided to air an episode on Sunday in the first place, and then not until AFTER a big football game??? sheesh), so I set the DVR. Unfortunately, our DVR records what the schedule says, so I got an hour of football, and then I tried to manually set it later, and got pretty much nothing. Luckily, AI posts the important stuff online, so I watched the auditions that they considered worthy this morning (a procedure I'll have to follow while I'm in SoCal, since a certain older son does not have network TV at his house). So this won't be my usual recap- it'll be shorter, without any of the show filler. Or without much of it anyway.

The first video I clicked on turned out to be the intro, where Ryan mentions breathlessly that they're on the aircraft carrier, the USS Midway, which may not be the best venue for listening to a capella singers, what with all the airplanes, and wind, and sailors, and sirens in the background. It also has low ceilings, which may not be the best venue for tall jumpers. Steven is in a white jacket with an open shirt, JLo is in a flowered something (I only saw the top) with long, slit sleeves, and a side pony tail, and Randy is in plaid (which is his new black). I quickly stopped this video and went directly to the individual singer clips.

Ali Shields is 19 and from Lodi. She's relentlessly perky, and was once on the Ellen show, which was the highlight of her life. From that experience, she figured she might as well try out for American Idol, as we all do. She's evidently never been kissed, or at least not until Mike Posner and Usher did the honors for her on some red carpet (where she was, courtesy of Ellen). Anyway, she's wearing a pink shrug and a white floofy skirt. Oh lordy, she's rapping... or she thinks she's rapping... now she's singing, and that isn't great either. Her voice is thin and reedy. JLo damns her with faint praise (You CAN sing a little)(exact quote). For some reason, all three judges put Ali through.

Ashley Robles is a single mom with an adorable kid, who blows bubbles in the car. Said daughter expresses the desire to be her mom's backup dancer. Ashley is highly rouged, and is wearing very tight jeans and a white tank. She sings Whitney. Sigh. But the judges like her.

Aubree Dieckmeyer is 20. She's wearing a tight, white crop top and either a long flowing skirt, or harem pants (I couldn't tell). In her pre-interview, she says that she's ready to be America's Next Top Model. They give her another chance to remember which show this is. She blows it. She blows it about 10 times in a row. In front of the judges, she begins an icky flirtation (all simpering and giggles and and fluttering eyelashes- I'm not kidding). GAH, I dislike this girl (I'm currently watching the final season of The Tudors, and she reminds me exactly of Katherine Howard...). But her voice is fine, and she goes through.

Jayrah Gibson is 26 and he has no Plan B, which means Plan A damn well better work for him. At least he knows which show he's auditioning for. He sings an original song for JLo, and then sings another. He has a pleasant voice, remarkable mostly for the lack of embroidery (which I applaud).

Jane Carrey is a mom and a waitress, and she has a rather famous father with the same last name. She looks like an ordinary, nice person. She sings Bonnie Raitt, and does her justice. I'm glad that she has actual talent because this show would never be able to resist the lure of having Ace Ventura in the audience.

Jennifer Diley has wrapped her pneumatic breasts in a red striped tube top, and is wearing teeny tiny little itty bitty Daisy Dukes (which may be a swimsuit bottom), from which her butt tries valiantly to escape. Jennifer looks into the camera and says flatly that she wants to impress the male judges, that JLo is fine, but the men are the ones who count. Good to know where you stand, Jennifer. In the judging arena, Steven and Randy react predictably. Also JLo (also me). Honest to God, Jennifer sings a Jessica Simpson song, and amazing of all amazings, the guys see beyond the boobs, saying that if she's going to wear an outfit like that, she needs to really bring it, and it was most assuredly not brung. The say no! Hallelujah!

Kyle Crews is 19, and a frat boy at USC Berkley. They tell us that he's a ladies' man, but I rather doubt it. He has very pink cheeks and is wearing a blue plaid shirt. He doesn't have the kind of voice that interests me, but the judges are blown away. And then they're astonished that a less than gorgeous guy can sing. They've never watched that American Idol show, I guess.

The last audition of the night is Wolf Harmin. He's a 24 year old mechanic who looks forty, but I don't care.  I love me some burly, bearded, mechanics. He carries a Git-Fiddle (translation: guitar) that his recently deceased father built for him. Wolf sings Midnight Special, and... yep... I like this guy (do I have a type, or what?). He segues into Folsom Prison Blues with his G-Fiddle, and the judges are all delighted.

So, that's it... it took me 25 minutes to watch the important videos from an hour long show... I may do this more often.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The calm between the flights

I've pretty much re-acclimated from my week in Asheville (though the fact that winter arrived while I was gone is still something of a shock), and I'm sort of unpacked. I have some paperwork to do (entering receipts and expenses... that sort of tedium), but in general, I'm just relaxing before we leave again on Thursday. The upcoming jaunt is almost entirely vacation (with one class at Loop and Leaf on Feb.1, in Santa Barbara, which will be great fun), so resting up for a trip that is mostly going to consist of resting up, seems silly. But, as you all know, I am nothing if not silly.

 Before I left for the Winter Retreat, I finished this hat. I wanted to add to the very small pile of *masculine friendly* colorways in the Big Tub 'o Knitted Things, but I suspect that the girls will love it too.
When I teach the Fair Isle design classes (half-day hat design, and half-day Christmas stocking design), I always do the exercises right along with the class. Sometimes, I'm not happy enough with  my design to come home and knit it. This time, I was pleased with both designs. I'm excited to see how the stocking is coming along. I imagine I'll finish it before we leave for SoCal. I may even cast on the hat.

In the meantime, the Obsessive Long-Term Weather Forecast Watch has begun- it only needs to be calm (not even warm, just calm) at 9:10pm on Thursday so we can take off on time (and I suppose, it needs to be nice at LAX, but it's nearly always nice at LAX). It can be nasty right up until that moment (as it is right now- below zero air temps, well below zero wind chills, new powdery snow blowing around). So far, the forecast looks good (we're using Allegiant, which flies out to LAX from FSD twice a week. Period. If one flight is cancelled, you're SOL, so though all this worry is selfish, it's also reasonable). I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

AI Season 11, Pittsburgh Auditions, Jan. 19, 2012

We open with Ryan standing on a rusty bridge that I'm sure I'm supposed to recognize. This is the first time that auditions have been held in Pittsburgh, so my guess is that it's some bridge in the area (I used to write mysteries- I'm good at deductions...).

Randy is wearing a blue plaid flannel shirt that appears to be paint-spattered. JLo is in a short green, black, and white dress that looks like it was designed after butterfly wings. Steven is in teal leather and feathers.

First up is Heejun Han, who is so busy second guessing himself that by the time he finishes his pre-show interview, he almost talks himself out of auditioning. Of course, we expect him to be awful, but surprise, surprise- he has a nice Bolton-ish voice. Maybe the show has finally found the Asian guy they look for every single season. His large family is very happy for him.

Reed Grimm is 26. He's wearing sloppy plaid shorts and a ratty tee shirt. He does a sort of scat version of the theme song of Family Matters. It's possible that he has a good voice in there somewhere, but he's far too gimmicky for me.

We get a quick montage of other Yellow Tickets: Aaron Marcus sings way too many notes, Chase Likens has an annoying country voice, and then a bunch of nameless happy people flash by, including one who may or may not be Bette Middler.

Next up is Samantha, accompanied by Patricia Bell, her sister. Samantha is wearing a blah brown strapless sun dress. Patricia is in jeans and a tee. Samantha sings marginally well. Patricia planks. And then the rest of her fairly large family planks too. They're Planking Fools.

We get some home-made footage of a performance artist wearing bunny ears in New York City. Now he's in Pittsburgh, without the ears, but wearing a shirt with the sleeves cut off, capris, and boots. He looks to be about 40, and he sings an original song about the judges that he wrote on the bus ride to the auditions. Nope, I don't like this guy, but we're going to be stuck with him for awhile. Unfortunately, even though he has the judges eating out of his hand, he still doesn't know enough to shut up. Also unfortunately, I didn't catch his name. I'm sure I'll have ample opportunity to learn it in Hollywood.

More home movies. Eben Frankowitz is 15 going on 12. He seems like a nice, ordinary kid, with his nice, ordinary family, driving from Ohio. I think to myself, Nice Kid, go back home and have a nice ordinary life before you humiliate yourself on national TV. But, he has a really nice voice.

17 year old Travis Orlando auditioned last year. The show dug up old footage of him, his father, his mother, and his twin brother. Between then and now, Travis's mother abandoned her family, he dropped out of high school, his father's health deteriorated, and they lost their home. This is the King of Sob Stories. I hate Sob Stories. I am also not fond of his voice, which is totally untrained, with absolutely no breath control. The judges try to let him down gently, but Ol' Travis trots out the tears. He begs pitifully, and they relent.

Commercial Break: Drew Barrymore looks good as a redhead, and Special K continues to feature already-thin women who want to lose weight. That new show Touch sounds interesting.

Day 2: Randy is wearing a mohair cardigan with wide blue, purple, and black stripes. Steven is in a Janis Joplin costume. JLo is in a very tight, black leather crop top, and yet another pair of pleated shorts.

Erica VanPelt is a Mobile DJ/Wedding Singer. She's wearing a plaid shirt and black jeans. She sings Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow, adding 3x the notes that Carole King thought the song needed. I would probably like her voice if she would just sing the damn melody.

Steven Tyler loves his little electronic noise maker. Evidently he's a really old, creepy, 12 year old.

Shane Bruce is a 19 year old coal miner with a lot of earrings. He says that his *Pap* was also a miner. We get some footage (not home-shot) of him singing Do-Wop to the other miners underground. He actually sounds pretty good, which is too bad, because he chooses to sing a sub-standard rendition of Hallelujah (which he refers to as That Song from Shrek) for the judges. They let him down gently, and he takes the rejection well. Maybe with some training, he can come back next year (or maybe in another city this year).

Once again, we've gotten hints throughout the show about the last auditioner. Hallie Day is 24 and blonde. She's wearing a red and black striped tank, a short black skirt, and black leggings. Hallie is another Sob Story- she dropped out of high school, joined a girl band, became an addict, and was homeless and suicidal. Then she met her large, supportive husband, and clawed her way back. She sings I Will Survive in the most affected way possible. I don't love this at all, but of course, she's going through.

That's it for tonight- we only heard one reject sing, and saw not a single crazy (unless you count Bunny Ears), which I think is a first in the entire run of this show. The next episode airs on Sunday, though I didn't hear which city they invaded.

AI Season 11- Savannah Auditions, Jan. 18, 2012

Well, my little hot buttered buttermilk biscuits, here we are again. Season 11 of American Idol. We open with a recap of previous winners, where they almost, accidentally, say Taylor Hicks's name. We're told that many of this year's auditioners have watched the show for most of their lives, and it looks like a fair portion of them took home movies of themselves doing just that. Sigh. I realized however, after a season of The X-Factor, that I really missed AI. I even missed Randy Jackson.

We start with bits and bobs and clips. Whoa, someone just joyfully punched Ryan Seacrest in the jaw. Speaking of the Wee Sea, my guess is that he has a very old-looking portrait of himself locked up in an attic somewhere.

Oh my, not only are we going to see old home movies of the auditioners, we're also going to have to watch current films of Their Journeys. I can tell already exactly how this is going to go.

The judges arrive. Randy is in a white shirt and Sally Jessy Raphael glasses. JLo is wearing coral pleated shorts (I repeat: coral pleated shorts... words that should never be in the same sentence), and a glittery, floaty, crop top. Her hair is in a ponytail, and she's wearing lots of bling. Steven is dressed like a Red Hat Hippie.

David Evans Jr. is 17 but he looks 12 at the most. He's annoying and arrogant, and could use a bit of time with an orthodontist. He beat last year's winner, Scotty McCreery, in a talent contest, so he must have *something*. He's singing Remember the Rain- oh, he's a Bieber Wannabe. Or maybe Wayne Newton. The judges love him, but he makes me tired already.

Gabi Caruba is 16 and shaky. Very very shaky. She's also a champion tap dancer, who says she knows what's in Steven's head when he closes his eyes. Trust me, we don't wanna know. Gabi starts to sing, and Steven makes that face. Cabi's voice is okay, thin but not unpleasant. She gets three yesses.

We get clips of a few more who make it: Brian Faulk, Neco Starr (who is wearing suspenders to hold his low-riders up, while his tee-shirt is tucked into his undies. I'm not kidding), Molly Hunt (whose voice makes my ears bleed), and Elise Testone (Janis Joplin Lite).

The list was obviously stacked, since the entire morning roster was sent on to Hollywood. It's time, I guess, for the first basket case. Unhappily for her, it's 19 year old Jessica Whitley, whose voice has to be heard to be believed. I'd rather be an unbeliever.

26 year old Sean Kraisman thinks that he looks like Ryan. Sean is wrong. He does have the spoken inflections down, but the singing voice is barely so-so (which is how I imagine Ryan's singing voice). He takes the rejection well.

Shannon McGrane is 15 and very tall. She is also self-conscious about her big feet since she makes a point of mentioning her shoe size (Honey, don't worry about it-it's not a big deal). Her dad is (or was) a Major League pitcher and she has lots of sisters, who are all invited in to meet the judges. Steven utters the season's first inappropriate comment about an underage girl (Papa is not amused). Shannon's voice is bluesy and good, but she's upstaged by Mama singing and emoting behind her. Shannon is young, which means that we're going to be stuck with Stage Mom for awhile.

Next up, a streak of terrible singers. SOP.

Amy Brunfield, 24, of Gatlinburg, TN, lives in a tent in the woods, and frankly, looks like she lives in a tent in the woods. She has some  of those terrible Juliette Lewis corn rows, a slinky black sparkly dress, and a rhinestone necklace. Aieee, they light their tent with a tall candle- Fire Hazard! Amy's voice is obviously untrained, but there is potential. I'll be curious to see what happens with her.

Joshua Chavis is 23 and wears his hat backwards. He's a rather excitable young man. He is also clumsy. He is also not exactly a singer. Oh my, he is also a weeper. And a shouter. And a bird flipper.

15 year old Stephanie Renee is all pink and sparkles and a bit too much cleavage. She's singing Carrie Underwood much better than most of them sing Carrie Underwood. Her singing voice is much more listenable than her speaking voice.

I just noticed Taylor's picture behind Randy. Maybe they're going to acknowledge his existence this season.

Skyler Dixon, 16, auditioned with her brother last year, and she's going it alone this year. Or rather, she wants to go it alone, but when the judges find out that Brother Colton Dixon is outside as part of her support team, they bring him in and put him on the spot. Skyler is visibly underwhelmed with this development. Skyler sings first and sounds okay, though her style is not my style. Then Colton sings, and he sings better than his sister, though it's still not my style. The camera cuts to Skyler, who is shooting death rays with her eyes. Both of them make it to Hollywood. Skyler pretends to be happy to be competing with Big Brother again.

Lots of rejectees, and crying crying crying crying crying.

Lauren Mink is 25. She's a perky activity director who works with disabled adults. She needs to stand up straight. Her voice does not appeal to me, but I suspect she'll make it. Yep- JLo gets *goosies*. As Lauren dances around with her identical mother, her short dress gets rucked up. Mother firmly tugs it back down.

Savannah Day 2: Guess what? It's hot in Savannah. Who knew?

JLo is in more pleated shorts (is she trying to make this a thing?)- this time red and deep pink. The pink is a long sleeved secretary blouse with a floppy bow at the neck. Randy is in black, with red glasses. Steven is once again dressed like an old lady.

Mauwena Kodjo is from West Africa. It's apparent early on that he is deluded as to the extent of his talent. This is going to be a disaster. He tries to sing Rascal Flatts, and it's even worse than I expected. Okay, this is what I hate about this show that I love: Randy sends this incredibly untalented young man out  in the streets to sing for strangers. He brings back a sort of confused Grandpa (who thinks Mauwena is from Kenya, because he asked him if he was a runner), and four adorable little girls. All of them are tone-deaf. Mauwena is rejected again, so we wasted time with this poor man, humiliating him unnecessarily (yeah, he started it by auditioning, but this was cruel), when we could have seen more good singers. Like I said, the thing I hate most about this show that I love.

Ashley Altise has multi color braids and is either wearing a hair net, or she has her own hair braided intricately to look like a hairnet. She has on camo leggings, mismatched stilettos, and a leather vest. She's obviously unhinged. She sings Come Together and it's a complete and total mess. And... omigod... all three judges say yes. Yikes!

W.T. Thomson is blond and beefy and looks to be about 35. He is also an expectant father who quit his job to audition. Too bad he did that, because he's not good enough to make it past the Hollywood Week, at which time he and his poor wife, and maybe their new baby, could be homeless. In a bit of flashback/flashforward nonsense, we find out that W.T. goes through. W.T. should gather up his young family and go back home.

Erika Novak says that Steven Tyler is her future ex-husband. She laughs with her demented laugh, and stares with her crazy eyes, and I think maybe Steven should think about hiring more bodyguards because this chick has Stalker written all over her. At least the judges tell her no, though she takes the opportunity to hug Steven and then grab his ass. Randy, who cannot bear to be left out, begs for an ass grabbing as well, which Erika provides.

I did not catch Birtney's last name, but she's an NBA Cheerleader. She's all boobs, legs, heels, and blonde hair, all of which are on (I suspect) permanent display. Her voice is good enough to move on, though Steven Tyler actually gives her constructive criticism. JLo says no, but the guys say yes. I say: give me a break.

They've been hinting at the final guy all night and it's finally time to see if he lives up to the hype.

Phillip Phillips Jr (which means that there is a Phillip Phillips Sr) is 20 and nice looking. He works in his dad's pawn shop. He comes in wearing a plaid shirt with the top couple of buttons undone (showing a surprisingly hairy chest), and carrying a guitar, which he lays down at the edge of the stage. He sings Superstition... hmmm... I don't love this, but it's the first time I've heard someone do something completely different with that song. Then he picks up his guitar and starts to play- oh man, this guy can play. Then he sings, and it's much better than before. It takes awhile before I realize that he's singing Thriller. I don't think this is our winner, but I'll be interested to see what he does next.

That wraps up Savannah- there were lots of Golden Tickets. Tonight (since I'm writing this recap on Friday morning) we're in Pittsburgh.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


I'm home, and it's wonderful. American Idol starts tonight, which would generally be reason for much whooping and hollering, but I'm pretty fuzzy-brained, so I set the DVR. I may watch  it tonight, but I'm not even going to try to write a recap until tomorrow. My Snark has jet-lag.

I'll catch y'all after a night in my own bed.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Last full day in Asheville

Oh yeah- five days of teaching in a row... something millions (or at least many many thousands) of teachers do every single week... it was wonderful, seeing the Lightbulb Moment for so many of my students, learning as much from them as I hope they learned from me, laughing and talking, and knitting...but five days... man, I'm tired.

 I wandered the mall for a bit before my last class began this morning. I'm pretty sure that the above is frah-gee-lay.

 As far as I can tell, the palm trees growing inside the mall are real. And in need of a trim.
I feel the need to duck as I say this, but Chick-Fil-A was a disappointment. The sandwiches weren't bad, but they sure weren't exciting. And the nuggets weren't any better than McDonald's.

On the other hand, this is the *light* serving of Salt and Pepper Catfish fillets (with hush puppies, fries, and 1,000 calorie cake, which has a cheesecake filling) from Harbor Inn. Gotta love North Carolina takeout. And just in case you wondered, I was only able to eat about half of the fish, and about 1/3 of the cake.
Remember Michelle from yesterday's Hat Design class? She went home and knitted her hat last night. This was not only her first original design, it was her very first stranded project! Go Michelle!

Michelle took today's Nordic Stocking class today. Didn't she do wonderfully? And don't be fooled by how much Linda got done- she hadn't knitted in the round for years, and had never done any stranded work. By the end of the class, she was knitting on her own, following the chart, and finding and correcting her own mistakes. She was thrilled and I was thrilled for her.
Sandy didn't want her picture taken again, but she got a lot done on her stocking, especially considering that she was working in the shop, and trying to teach her own students, while taking my class. That's some kind of multitasking (I think she deserves a Major Award!).
The stocking on the left is a class sample, the one on the right is the one I knit during class, and the one in the front is the Object Lesson to be more careful in choosing yarns.

I've had an absolutely wonderful week here in Asheville. Lisa Mackey, of Friends and Fiberworks organized an amazing retreat, and has been great and gracious hostess. Vickie Clontz was a super roommate. Kim Gough did everything she could to drum up interest in my classes. Sandy took classes and steered people my way, and Nancie McCraw dropped in to catch up as often as she could. My students were cheerful and willing, and they all were Well Above Average!

I have my suitcases organized and I'm as ready as I can be for a 4AM  wakeup call. I'll be flying out early, and hopefully getting home in the afternoon. I'll check in as I can.

Oh, tomorrow night is the American Idol Season Premiere- I have no idea whether I'll actually be home on time, and if I am, if I'll have the oomph to watch, much less recap. I'll try to record it and get a recap up as soon as I can.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Too pooped to post

Hoo boy, I'm tired. It's a good tired, it's 4 days of teaching excellent students in a town that I love to visit, but still... tired. So tonight's post is going to be mostly pictures...
Pretty red leaves...

Future azaleas (rhododendrons?)

No shots of the Blue Ridge Mountains because I can only sorta see them in the distance from my motel (or on the walk to the mall).
Hat Designer Michelle.
Stocking Designers Kim and Sandy. Sandy kept saying how bad her design was. Sandy needs new glasses.

One more class tomorrow- an all day Nordic Stocking class, and then I pack up for home. It's been a wonderful week (and I'm not kidding about the Genius Students), but I will say that I'm relieved that I won't be teaching 5 straight days again for awhile...