Tuesday, March 31, 2009

American Idol: 9

This week the song choices are wide open. The kids can choose anything from the popular downloads on iTunes.

Anoop Desai - Caught Up
Anoop is wearing a next generation Michael Jackson suit. And his performance is not that great. He brought back some energy, but the vocals weren't very good. It was Usher karaoke. 2.

Megan Corkrey - Turn Your Lights Down Low
I'm a little confused as to who keeps voting for this chick. She wasn't even in the bottom three last week. Is it 'cause she's cute? I mean, maybe she is, I'm just not diggin' the tattoo. And her voice is kind of not that great. A little Nelly Furtadoish. Except not successful. 2.

Danny Gokey - What Hurts the Most
I think this was a really good song choice and a really good performance. At times it seemed a little like he was yelling the lyrics. But overall he did a great job. There was a lot of emotion in the song and Danny nailed it down. It's almost worth rewinding and listening to it again. 5.

Allison Iraheta - Don't Speak
Starting out she sounded all right. Then she got to the chorus and it kind of fell apart. She's all over the place pitch wise. Not her best performance. 3.

Scott McIntyre - Just the Way You Are
He said he wants to strip the song down. That's what he's done every week. Here's the thing with Scott, he's got a good voice and he's a talented pianist, but he's boring. He's done the same style of song just about every week. Last week there was a little more energy but it was still boring. 3.

Matt Giraud - You Found Me
I'm not sure what it is about him tonight. It's almost like he doesn't have a lot of confidence backing up his performance. It just didn't sound all that good tonight. 3.

Lil Rounds - I Surrender
Not the best of the night, but she did a really good job. It was kind of an old soul kind of song. Vocally she did pretty well. 4.

Adam Lambert - Play That Funky Music
And tonight his hair looks like something out of I Was A Teenage Werewolf. And this sounds nothing like the original. I think this risk will pay off for him. It's actually really good. I'm kind of impressed. 5.

Kris Allen - Ain't No Sunshine
Instead of the guitar, he's behind a keyboard tonight. In his video intro, he said he was trying to create one of those "moments" where he becomes memorable. I don't think you can necessarily create those moments, they just sort of happen. Nice touch with the string quartet behind him. It was really good though. He's another one that's growing on me as the weeks progress. 4.

My bottom three are Megan, Anoop, and Scott. Anoop could be the one going home, he did perform first. That's kind of the forgotten position. We'll find out tomorrow night.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Legends of the Bank Teller - Episode XLVIII

I lied.

Today my now former manager told me they'd miss me. I said I'd miss them too. HA!

My last day in the branch that resurrected my banking career was actually not that bad. But that certainly did not mean that I was sad about leaving this afternoon at the end of the day.

At 8:30 on Wednesday morning I'll report to my new branch where I'll be introduced to new co-workers, new customers, and new lunchtime possibilities. Apparently there is a whole mess of places at which to eat in that area.

I wonder how long it will take me to get sick of the 45 minute daily drive to work each morning. It's full-time though. Gotta be worth it.

Sunday, March 29, 2009


I've made it clear that I don't want to age. I turned 29 a few weeks ago and have continually joked about how it would be my final birthday. I think that our attitude towards aging is a product of the culture and society that we've been brought up in.

As children, we can't wait to grow up. We watch our parents and their friends having a swell time and taking part in conversations that we so desperately wish we could be a part of. Then we finally achieve adulthood and we pray for the aging process to stop. Many cultures revere their elderly. Americans, for the most part, view the elderly as a burden. I believe I'm guilty of that as well.

You hear about, witness, and possibly even take part in crazy attempts to make yourself younger. Businesses that promise to make us look younger make billions of dollars each year, and we see the ads on TV: Botox, lasers to remove hair, lasers to correct far-sightedness, lasers to do whatever they do to gross veins that pop out of people's legs.

In Star Trek: Generations, the villain of the story describes time as a predator, "a fire in which we burn." In the end, Captain Picard alternatively describes time as a companion that reminds us to cherish the moments we have.

I'd be lying if I said I look forward to turning 30 in eleven months. I suppose I'm one of those people who wishes to remain perpetually in his twenties. But that's not going to happen. And I'd like to say I optimistically view time as a companion, but I don't. I've seen what the ravages of time have done to my elderly family members. With time comes a loss of senses, a greater risk for diseases, strokes, heart failures, dementia and memory loss. To think about getting old can be depressing.

But there are some blessings that come along with aging as well. We get to watch history unfold before our eyes. We get to see things change, and while these changes aren't always for the better, it can be thrilling to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. We get to watch the children that come after us and see their potential and what they can accomplish with their lives.

Growing up has its share of trials, but looking back, would you really want to go through it all over again?

Saturday, March 28, 2009


Knowing isn't what you'd call a "feel good" kind of movie. On one level, it is a typical disaster film. On a deeper level, it's a story that can challenge one's faith and allows the viewer to think about what they will do with the time they have left.

Spoiler alert: it's the end of the world as we know it.

Nicholas Cage plays John Koestler, a professor at MIT who has recently lost his wife to a tragic hotel fire. Along with losing her, he lost his faith. This added a great deal of strain to his familial relationships, particularly with his father, a pastor. His relationship with his son, Caleb, however, seems to have been strengthened. It seems that they only have each other to hold onto.

Caleb's school pulls a time capsule out of the ground that had been buried for 50 years. The metal tube was filled with images of the future, drawn by the students of 1959. The odd thing is that Caleb doesn't receive a picture of a spaceship or a robot. His envelope contains pages full of seemingly random numbers. Enter Professor Koestler's keen analytical mind and we discover that there is a pattern to the numbers, representing the location, date, and number of victims involved in every major disaster over the past 50 years.

Three dates remain following the opening of the time capsule, the final being October 19, 2009. When John witnesses the first upcoming disaster firsthand, he becomes a believer, regaining a fraction of the faith he once had. He attempts to do some good in light of the second disaster by putting himself in the thick of it. He discovers that what is slated to happen cannot be avoided.

Unlike all the previous dates, October 19 is not followed by a number of victims, nor is it followed by coordinates for a location. Instead, there are two backwards Es. It's determined that EE is short for Everyone Else. John knows that a final disaster is on its way and there's no way to properly prepare for it.

Meanwhile, Caleb encounters beings known as "whisper people." These men grew increasingly creepy as the film progressed. These whispers were responsible for the numbers being written in 1959, and proved to be a quiet voice of warning and preparation for humanity.

Some might view these whisperers as aliens, while others may view them as angels. There are clear connections made to the book of Ezekiel, where the prophet saw visions of angelic chariots and a wheel within a wheel. The whisper people in the film brought with them transports that resembled wheels within wheels. They gathered those who were chosen, those who heard the call. Caleb was one of those chosen.

In the face of total destruction, John is forced to believe that his son would be going to a better place. John returns to a place where he is able to once again believe in the concept of forever and that somewhere, someone is in control of our universe. Someone has a plan and our lives are not just random sequences of events. On that final day, John is able to repair his relationship with his father, and spends the end in the arms of his family.

The whisperers are seen leaving the planet with many spaceships in tow, and we are left to assume that each ship has people on board. The Earth is incinerated by an extremely powerful solar flare, while Caleb and all those who were chosen are deposited on another Earth-like world as a means to continue life.

Knowing is a very intense movie. While it is a movie worth seeing, you may want to leave the kids at home for this one. The whisper people are incredibly creepy throughout the film. Also, there's a lot of violent imagery during the disasters and in one of Caleb's prophetic visions.

The film presents an interesting challenge. What do we do with today? We don't know when our last day will be. It could be tomorrow, it could be 50 years from tomorrow. But why should we wait until all hope is lost to remind ourselves of what we have? We shouldn't hesitate to let our loved ones know that they are our loved ones. Often, when we are faced with the end, we're given a sense of clarity about what's really important. That's a clarity that John eventually receives in his last hours. What will you do with the time you have left?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Question of the Week: Future

You have the power to go any distance into the future and, after one year, return to the present with any knowledge you have gained from your experience but with no physical objects. Would you make the journey if it carried a 50 percent risk of death?

I wouldn't do it. Did we learn nothing from Back to the Future? One mustn't tamper with time travel. The consequences could be disastrous. Though, I guess it would be nice to go into the future and find out which companies are going to be the big money makers. Then I could come back and buy stock now while the prices are low. It would be like those people who just happened to buy stock in Microsoft when it was just starting out. My luck, I'd end up at a point in the future after all civilization as we know it has collapsed and all that are left are roaches and rats. And I'd be stuck there for a year. So forget about the 50% chance of death. I just don't think it'd be worth it to go someplace and have only the rats to talk with for 12 months.

*Question of the Week comes from The Book of Questions by Gregory Stock, Ph.D.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

American Idol: 10 becomes 9

Another mind-numbing hour filled with pointless rhetoric and ridiculous attempts at suspense. As is the case each week, we're treated to the good and bad of last night. After this, the group sing-along is a medley of Motown hits. Anyone else catch that this performance was obviously not live?

Before we get to any results, we get to see another stupid Ford commercial, followed by season 2 winner, Ruben Studdard. Here come the bottom three: Matt (kinda shocked by that), Michael (not a surprise), and... then we have to wait until after Smokey Robinson and Joss Stone perform a duet.

The third person to be in the bottom tonight is Scott (didn't see that coming, but whatever). But Scott is sent right back over to the couch, he's safe.

We have a third performance tonight, from Stevie Wonder. We're back to Michael and Matt as the bottom two. Michael is the one with the lowest number of votes. Will the judges save him? I would say no. After a bunch of deliberation and pointless time wasting, Simon decides to send him home. I say Simon because no one else wanted to make the call. Good for you, Cowell. Good for you.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

American Idol: 10

It's Motown night on American Idol. Will the kids make the right song choices? In celebration of Motown's 50th anniversary, the contestants are flown to Detroit to meet Motown's founder, Barry Gordy, and their mentor for the week, Smokey Robinson.

Matt Giraud - Let's Get It On
Matt's starting out this Marvin Gaye classic behind the piano. After the first few lines, he gets up and moves around a bit. This guy is really growing on me. I don't think he's the best of the top ten, but I do like him and his voice more this week than I have in weeks past. Overall I think he did a pretty good job with the song. 4.

Kris Allen - How Sweet It Is
Kris does something impressive to start off. He begins a capella, then brings in his guitar and the rest of the band. I thought it was pretty good, but there's something about it that sounded like a guy singing in a talent show or an open mic night somewhere. I'm not saying that's necessarily a bad thing. 3.

Scott McIntyre - You Can't Hurry Love
Smokey had nothing negative to say about Scott's version of this song. At first it sounds like it's gonna be slow and boring, but then he kicks it into gear and speeds up the tempo. It seems like he's having some fun with it. It sounds like there are a couple of pitch issues, but he more than makes up for it with an awesome ending. 3.

Megan Corkrey - For Once In My Life
Ten bucks says she does that same shimmy kind of dance behind the mic stand that she's done for the last few weeks. Looking at the way she's dressed and hearing her sing, I'm thinking she should take Kathy Lee's place on the Carnival cruise ships. This is definitely not one of her better performances. In fact, this is actually a pretty bad one. 1.

Anoop Desai - Ooh, Baby Baby
He's singing one of Smokey's own songs, and Smokey thinks he did a great job in the rehearsal. In the beginning it sounded like there was a note or two that was a shade off. But for the most part, I'd say he does a pretty good. There's a lot of falsetto in here that I didn't realize Anoop could hit. 3.

Michael Sarver - Ain't Too Proud to Beg
In my mind, this song is one that needs to start off really strong, and Michael just didn't bring it at the start. He picks up some steam during the song, but I don't think it's enough to save the performance. And to borrow a word from Simon, the ending was just atrocious. I just didn't like it. 1.

Lil Rounds - Heat Wave
Her dress and her hair is kind of retro. She does all right with the song. Once again she shows just how much power she has behind her voice. And again tonight, there seemed to be a few off notes for her too. 3.

Adam Lambert - Tracks of My Tears
This is a vast improvement from last week. Vast. The look is different for him. Almost like he's channeling Elvis Presley. But the voice definitely isn't Elvis. His interpretation of the song is very good. He's able to take Smokey Robinson's song and make it his own. The whole song is consistently great. 5.

Danny Gokey - Get Ready
I like the little move with the back up singers that Danny threw in there. Two songs in a row that are consistently excellent. Danny's still got my vote to win this whole thing. Another 5.

Allison Iraheta - Papa Was a Rolling Stone
I'm not a big Allison fan for the same reason I wasn't a big Amanda Overmeyer fan last year. I'm not a big fan of this type of voice. This isn't an album that I'm gonna rush out and buy. I think she did a pretty good job with the song and nailed the ending. 4. But I'm just not a fan.

Bottom three are Michael, Megan, and Scott. Who's going home? I'd say it's a toss up between Michael and Megan. I was wrong last week though. Could be wrong again this week. We'll find out tomorrow night.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Tonight's episode of American Idol has been preempted by President Obama. Therefore, tonight's regularly scheduled American Idol blog post has also been preempted.

Mrs. Greene has been sick for the last few days. I, apparently, have not been very helpful. Today I made a pizza at home and when she caught wind of this information, she wanted some. Unfortunately, pig that I am, I ate it all. There was none left to share.

So I'm trying to think of a good way to cheer up a sick friend. I sent her some flair on Facebook. I've sent funny text messages from the next room. But none of this is epically funny enough to substantially cheer someone up. So maybe I'm coming at this all wrong. Maybe I shouldn't go with funny.

A few days ago, I came over to the Greenehouse to watch a movie that Nicole had been eagerly anticipating for several months. Saturday arrived and she was able to get Kevin to go out and buy it. The movie in question? Twilight.

That afternoon she was wanting me to write a review of the film adaptation of what could be her current favorite book. It's possible she likes one of the sequel novels more than the original, but that's not the point. The point is that I wasn't sure I wanted to review this movie knowing just how obsessive people are over it. What if I said something wrong? What if I offended one of those crazy vampire lovers? Wait... that was probably offensive, wasn't it?

If you want to know what I thought of the book, go here.

The movie itself was pretty good. As with any movie based on a novel, it was difficult to watch it without trying to pick out the differences between the two versions. It would be nice to be able to just watch something and take it for what it is. It's just too tempting to scrutinize every detail. I realize it's nearly impossible to translate a novel to film without making a few cuts here and there. Otherwise we'd have six hour long epics that no one will have the patience to sit through. Though in Twilight's case, I'm sure you'd find a few exceptions.

I can say that a lot of the places and people were just as I had pictured them in my mind. Honestly, I had seen movie posters before I read the book, so the actors playing the main characters of Edward and Bella were already in my head as I read the book. What I hadn't been prepared for was the nauseating stare downs that went on between Edward and Bella throughout 75% of the movie. I put up with that sort of behavior from a lot of couples in college. It's almost sickening. Don't they realize that there's a whole world going on around them that doesn't take place within their significant other's eyes. Both the book and the film make a big deal about how much of a klutz Bella is. She should take her eyes off her pasty boyfriend before she trips over her own feet again.

Another problem I had was the climactic fight scene at the end. While it was great to see what was described in such detail in the book put into action on the screen, it just seemed to go by way too fast. The most intense part of the book takes place over several chapters. But when that intensity becomes an action scene in a movie, it moves very quickly and is condensed to roughly ten or fifteen minutes.

I'm making it sound like I didn't like it. I did. Am I going to rush out and buy my own copy? No. But would I complain if I sat through it again? No. I will say this, it somewhat inspired me to go back home to get back into the sequel, New Moon. I've had that book sitting on my coffee table for over a month and had been stuck on chapter three. I just couldn't get into it. Now I'm curious as to what happens next. So it was a pretty good movie, definitely worth seeing. Happy viewing.

Nicole is probably watching it again while she's lying sick in bed. Get well soon.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Jerk

I'll be honest. It's late and I'm tired tonight. I'm sure if I wanted to really stretch my imagination I could come up with something to write about. But I don't want to. Because it's late and I'm tired tonight.

Did you ever see the old Steve Martin movie The Jerk? It was kind of a dumb movie before we had Dumb & Dumber to numb our minds. Anyway, I'm not writing this to critique the movie or describe how funny I think it is. I'm posting a video that I saw on YouTube. It's a couple performing the same song performed by Steve Martin and Bernadette Peters as they walked along the beach in The Jerk.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

March Madness

Andy, Brandon, and Mark take college hoops to a new level. A lower level. 10 points to the first person to successfully identify the movie from which the background music comes.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Legends of the Bank Teller - Episode XLVII

Three in one week. Wow. A lot going on at the old bank these days.

For a while now, I've noticed one particular customer that frequents the drive through. I may be overstating things, but she might just be the most attractive woman I've seen in person. Seriously, all kinds of hot.

Now, this may be revealing that I do not do my job as thoroughly as the powers that be would like, but I'm gonna throw it out there anyway. You'll get it by the end.

On Saturdays, we do not open the drive through window. Thus, anyone who normally sits in their car for a transaction is forced to walk through our lobby and make actual eye contact with us. Today, the most attractive woman I've seen came inside. And she came to my window.

At first I was nervous. I mean, it's me we're talking about, so it's not as if I would have worked up the nerve to say anything to her that didn't have to do with the business at hand. Then I noticed the business on her hand.

The left hand in particular. That's right. Wedding band.

If it had been a scene in a movie, my eyes would have grown noticeably larger, and the camera would have zoomed in three times, each time accompanied by a loud booming sound. Very dramatic.

It really wasn't that dramatic. I just felt a twinge of guilt for still thinking she's hot. But do you get now why the powers that be may be disappointed with the thoroughness of my job performance? If I had been diligently looking at her account whenever she made deposits, I would have been noticing this whole time that she was a part of a joint account. With her husband. Yeah.

Just because I don't always see that important jewelry when she's sitting in her car doesn't mean I can't figure out that she's already married. Context clues, Peck!

I feel dirty. Like I've been hitting on some guy's wife. But it'll be okay. In a few weeks, I'll have forgotten she ever existed. 'Cause I'm going to a different branch. One that is frequented by NC State girls. That are single. Yeah.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Question of the Week: Poison

Someone very close to you is in pain, paralyzed, and will die within a month. He begs you to give him poison so that he can die. Would you? What if it were your father?

I'd have a hard time doing something like that. I mean, I don't want to see someone I care about suffer for their last month of life. But I just don't think I could be the one to take their life away. What if, despite the pain, God had a plan for their final month on earth? Who am I to decide what's best?

*Question of the Week comes from The Book of Questions by Gregory Stock, Ph.D.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Legends of the Bank Teller - Episode XLVI

It's funny how some people tend to over react whenever the powers that be show their faces. At the beginning of the week, my manager informed everyone in the branch that the area manager, and apparently his boss, would be paying us a visit on Wednesday.

So for the first half of the week, she was freaking out and had all of her employees walking on eggshells in preparation for a visit from a couple people who would only be in the building for ten minutes.

All morning Wednesday, we kept getting an update from the manager. "They're on their way, unless they stop somewhere else first." Glad she was able to make that as vague as possible.

My lunch hour finally rolled around at noon. I was pulling out of the parking lot as those powers that be were walking into the branch. As I drove away I couldn't help but laugh. All that prepping and I wouldn't have to deal with my boss' bosses.

After lunch, I returned to find out that those folks were, in fact, only there for ten minutes. They never spoke to the tellers about any of the things our manager prepared us for. They never even approached the teller line at all. What a waste of time and energy.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

American Idol: 11 becomes 10

I usually get fed up with the results shows each week. I don't know how many different ways to say that in this blog. Most of the hour is pointless filler. On the plus side, Carrie Underwood is gonna be on the show tonight. I think that makes it bearable.

After another pointless recap of last night's performance, the eleven sing Trouble. Pretty sure they were lip-syncing that one. I guess I could be wrong, but it seemed pretty obvious to me that was the case.

Have you ever wondered what happens after the elimination show? Neither have I. But the producers decided that it would be a good way to kill some time tonight. Not sure why, they've got two more performances happening tonight with Brad Paisley and then a duet with Randy Travis and Carrie Underwood.

Now we begin pulling out the bottom 3. Danny is first to stand up. He is safe. Lil is up next. She is also safe. I know I said last night that she would be bottom three, but I really didn't mean it. I knew she would have enough votes to keep her safe. Anoop stands and is safe as well. His performance last night was hugely redemptive. Allison and Michael stand together. My guess is one of them is safe, the other is in the bottom. I'm thinking it's Michael. Ha! It's both of 'em. Didn't see that coming.

Before we continue with the results, we get to hear from Brad Paisley. After another break we find out that Scott is safe. Megan is safe. Matt is safe. Kris is safe. All these that are safe are in the top ten and are therefore going on tour this summer. Alexis and Adam both stand. Alexis is the one who's in the bottom. I find that hard to believe. I mean, did you even see Adam's performance last night? Creepy doesn't even begin to describe it. Right away, they send Allison back to the couch as the safe one.

Before we get the final reveal, Carrie Underwood will sing. Oh, and Randy Travis is with her. I'm pretty sure I could marry that girl. Pretty sure. I can't make this as suspenseful as they do on TV. Believe it or not, Michael is safe. Alexis sings the same song all over again. That might be worse than last night. And this is what's supposed to convince the judges to save her. And it wasn't good enough for the save. Next week the top ten will perform.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

American Idol: 11

It's Grand Ole Opry week. This is gonna be rough. Of the remaining eleven contestants, there really aren't any who seem to be strongly suited for country music. Randy Travis is the Idols' mentor, it will be interesting to see how well he can shape them.

Michael Sarver - Ain't Goin' Down 'Til the Sun Comes Up
This is a hard song to sing. It's got a whole lot of words in a really short amount of time. After the first verse, I'm impressed. Not only did he manage to nail all the lyrics, he's able to walk around and shake hands while doing it. My only complaint is that he's not opening his mouth a whole lot on those longer notes. Nicole thinks it looks like he's got dip in his mouth. Overall I think he did a good job with the song, technically, but there was some kind of spark missing. I'll go with a 3.

Allison Iraheta - Blame It On Your Heart
Maybe it's the lighting, but I really think her hair matches her jacket. I'm sure I've said before that Allison has a very distinctive voice and one wouldn't think it would translate very well into country. She actually did a really good job with this song. 4.

Kris Allen - To Make You Feel My Love
While he had practiced with Randy Travis with his guitar, he's performing tonight without. What's good about this is that he's not just copying Garth's style singing this song. It's a song that was written by Bob Dylan and later covered by Billy Joel, Garth Brooks, and a number of others. Kris was able to put his own signature on it and came out really well. 4.

Lil Rounds - Independence Day
Randy tells Lil that it's a big song, and he's right. At least one of the girls does this every time we hit country week. She's slowed it down a bit, and the verses come out kind of boring. The chorus really doesn't get much better. And she sounds a little flat when she gets there. She's just not connecting with the song. 2.

Adam Lambert - Ring of Fire
Randy Travis does not like this arrangement of the Johnny Cash classic. I'm sorry. I have to agree with Randy. This is kind of awful. He's still got a good voice, but listening to that was almost painful. Simon warns Adam not to go to Nashville anytime soon. I agree. I think the good people of Nashville will probably beat him with a sack of doorknobs. I really didn't like it. At all. But I can't give him a one because his voice is still, technically, pretty good. 2.

Scott McIntyre - Wild Angels
Scott's back behind the piano, a place where we know he is truly comfortable because he is a truly talented musician. I'm not sure he's good enough to win in the end, but win or lose, I have a feeling he'll go far after this competition is over. He picks up the tempo on the chorus, following Randy Travis' suggestion. He takes this Martina McBride song and makes it his own. Very good. 4.

Alexis Grace - Jolene
There's nothing that really stands out about this performance. I mean, it's not bad but not great. I'm calling it average. 3.

Danny Gokey - Jesus Take the Wheel
Seeing his practice sessions is not encouraging. Maybe he was just nervous singing in front of Randy Travis. His actual performance is much better, but his song choice may have hurt him. I think he did a really good job, especially toward the end. The verses were a little boring, but the chorus kicked it off. 4.

Anoop Desai - You Were Always On My Mind
Starting off is a little rough I think. However, this is a huge improvement over last week's performance. I'm not saying it was a perfect performance, but definitely an improvement. 3.

Megan Corkrey - I Go Walking After Midnight
She still has absolutely no stage presence whatsoever. Standing behind the mic stand looking terrified. She may not actually be terrified, but she's like a freakin' robot up there. It really takes away from her performance. She's got a decent voice, but the overall performance wasn't great. 3.

Matt Giraud - So Small
I'm actually liking this. I was a little hesitant when this was announced as the song he'd be singing. He's comfortable behind the piano. 4.

There were really no stand-out performances tonight. If they decide to do a bottom three tomorrow night, I think we'll see Michael, Adam, and Lil. I know that prediction is wrong. But based on what I saw tonight, those are the ones who should lose some ground.

New Job

In honor of finding a full-time position, I give you this instantly classic Super Bowl commercial from CareerBuilder.com. Enjoy!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Legends of the Bank Teller - Episode XLV

It's been awhile since I've done one of these. You work in a place long enough, a lot of your stories tend to start sounding the same.

Well here's a new one for you: I'm leaving my current job.

For several months, I've been seeking a full-time position. For over a year, I've been working as a part-time teller. Part-time just doesn't cut it anymore. All that extra money I've had in savings is just about gone. It's been going to feed my addiction to food.

Last week I found out about a full-time position that had opened up at a branch near NC State. The manager at said branch was once the assistant manager at my current branch. In fact, he's the one who initially hired me to work for the bank.

I interviewed with him last week, but since he knows me and we just went through all of this last year, he decided that we would be pretty informal with this. He basically gave me a rundown of how things work at that branch and let me know that hot girls from the college are in there on a pretty regular basis. As if just getting away from my current manager wasn't reason enough to go for this job.

He told me I was at the top of the list, so that was encouraging. Today I received a phone call from human resources with the official offer for the full-time position. So for the first time in my life, I've been hired twice by the same man.

I'm pretty psyched about this. I get to work for forty hours a week, I may be getting a raise in the near future, and I'll be getting away from an overbearing boss and will no longer be forced to work on Saturdays. What a glorious day today has been.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


Okay, I'm back from Bluefield. Did you miss me?

First of all, I want to say a quick thank you to Nicole for taking over the Question of the Week on Friday and for posting something so nice yesterday. I appreciate the thought and effort she put into those posts. And I know, I need to go back and answer the question. I'll post it in a comment later. For now, I'm gonna spend some time talking about my extended weekend in the old college town.

I managed to take a vacation day on Friday, and since I don't work Thursdays, I embraced the opportunity to drive up to Bluefield a day early. Andy was able to do the same, so we met up at Mark's new house on Thursday evening.

I actually arrived a few hours before Andy, so I was treated to a tour of The Hipes Bungalow. I was very impressed. The last time I saw his house wasn't long after he initially bought the property. At the time, the place had been completely gutted. Mark bought the place for a tidy sum of $21,000, so needless to say, it was a fixer-upper. The finished product is a vast improvement.

Okay, not completely finished. He described some of the other things he wanted to do to the place (finish the basement, add on a deck) but the main floor was incredible. It's a nice little 2-bedroom, 1-bath home that will be perfect for a young married couple someday, should Mark decide to sell it for a profit.

Thursday evening, Mark and I had some dinner at the local Pizza Hut while we waited for Andy to arrive. We were also treated to a great deal of snow. Snow is a common sight in the Bluefield area. It was beautiful and sort of made me miss living there. Mark, however, said that's all they've had for the last four months. I think he was a little sick of the white stuff.

When Andy got to Bluefield, we headed over to the college campus to play some basketball in the Dome (Bluefield College's gym). We were there 'til about 1am or so, then headed back to the house where we stayed up to watch Role Models. Bedtime on Thursday night: 4:30am.

Friday morning we slept in a bit and then drove out to the Mercer Mall to have lunch at the Lotus Garden Chinese Buffet. You may remember the Lotus Garden as the birthplace of Carp Dime. The food itself was actually not very good at all. In fact, it was downright nasty. To be fair, it was nearly 2pm by the time we got there to pick whatever we could from the bar. The big news is that our waitress was, in fact, the same crazy old lady that coined the phrase, carp dime, nearly seven years ago. We didn't get any sage wisdom from her this time.

Back at the house we played some video games, killing time until Brandon was able to get there from Roanoke. He was able to get off work early on Friday and arrived around 4 that afternoon. Again, we went over to the school and played some basketball. Well, they played, I mostly watched. I'm not what you call athletic.

After shooting around, we headed back out to the mall to have dinner at Macado's. In college, we had a tendency to eat there multiple times each week. Every time I eat at Macado's, whether it's in Bluefield or Roanoke, it's always as good as I remembered. I love that place.

Friday night, we just hung out at the house, played video games, watched some TV. Bedtime: 3:30AM.

Saturday, Mark took us over to the campus once again, but this time for a tour. This brought back a ton of memories. We walked through the dorm we all used to live in (which is now a girls' dorm). Thankfully, the kids were on Spring Break, so we didn't have to compete for space with any students. We walked the halls and visited all our old rooms. We didn't go inside the rooms, obviously, because now other people live there.

We also got a look at the long-term plans for the development of the college. We saw the images of what buildings will be appearing over the next five, ten, and twenty years. Currently being built is a new dorm. Coming soon will be a new athletic center/activities center. It was exciting to see how things are developing for our alma mater. It will be an impressive thing to see as all this unfolds over the next twenty years.

For dinner yesterday, we ate at the local Applebee's, where we met up with our last remaining roommate, Dereck. He had to work Saturday morning, so he drove down from Charleston as soon as he got off. None of us had seen Dereck since 2005, and I had even lost touch with him for the last couple years. During college we were all very close friends. It was great to have all of us back together, however briefly. After dinner, Andy had to head back to Charlotte to be home for church this morning.

Mark, Brandon, Dereck, and myself, comprise the Four Fathers. At least that's what we like to call ourselves. This stems from the year when the four of us lived in a suite in Rish Hall where we decided to move all the beds into one of the rooms while turning the other room into a living room. It was a great idea and a great place to live.

This entire weekend was a reminder of all of the best times we had in college. Friends come into and go out of our lives like the seasons of the year. But these guys are the ones that I never let go of. As I said, we hadn't seen Dereck in several years. The rest of them, we tend not to see each other for months at a time. But when we're able to get together, it's just like old times. We're able to talk and laugh and have fun as if no time has passed by.

It was a great weekend and a great reminder of why we've all remained friends for as long as we have. Hopefully it won't take us so many years to get back together like this.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Greenehouse pays tribute to Aaron

For those wondering where Aaron disappeared to and why he left me in charge of his beloved blog, the answer is simple: Aaron took a trip to Bluefield this weekend and has no internet. This meant a call late Thursday night from a certain someone begging me to take his blog for two days until he returned. This was a huge request being that I have five kids and am so extremely busy but because I knew that he would do the same for me if ever I needed help, I accepted.

Today I decided that you, his readers, needed to hear from the Greenehouse our feelings about Aaron as he has spent much time incorporating us into many of his blog posts.

Over the past year, Aaron has spent countless hours as well as many a weekend hanging out with us and learning the ways of the Greene's. Enough time has been spent that he has officially become part of our family and truthfully when he is not around it is as if a part of our family is missing.

When Aaron is not doing laundry at our house (which he does about every two weeks unless he is visiting someone else with a laundry facility), you can often find him playing cards (Texas Hold Em, Rummy or Go Fish), Monopoly (in which he has been beaten by Makenaa) or watching one of our favorite shows with us. He doesn't just spend time hanging out with the "big" Greene's but helps to entertain the younger ones as well.

On more than one occasion, Aaron has tried to convince us that he does have friends other than the Greene's by faking a phone call. We know the truth(it's usually his mom) but play along anyway because we love him so much and don't want to hurt his feelings.
Family does that for one another!

Gabby LOVES Aaron and I am pretty certain that he is a bit partial to her as well. Pretty much like the rest of us, he gives her what she wants. We all are having to learn to tell her no but it's a process. She's so darn cute! Truly, could you resist that face?

There is never a dull moment when Aaron is around. Though the kids can annoy him at times, he has this way of bringing out the fun side of their personalities. Aaron doesn't take life TOO seriously and in his time with us, he has taught us all to relax just a little.

Anyone who knows Aaron knows that he loves Superman but not nearly as much as he loves us.
True Story!! (one of the many Aaronisms that has invaded our home)

In all honesty, we love Aaron as much as he loves us and he has become a part of our family. He happened to mention to us that he might move away and truly, the very thoughts left us wondering exactly what we would do without Aaron.
Life just wouldn't be the same.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Question of the week

When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?
Well, because I love to sing this question is quite simple to answer and will not need much of an explanation. I was singing just last night to myself in the shower. I do that quite often to provide entertainment to the ladybugs who reside in our over sized bathroom. In response to the next part of the question, I sang to my sweet baby girl just this morning while I changed her diaper. Now for those who may be asking, "When did Aaron inherit a sweet baby girl?” the answer to that question would be that he has not. Aaron is out of town and requested me, Mrs. Greene from the Greenehouse, to fill in while he is away. For all you faithful readers, he will make his return appearance on Sunday. Until then, you are stuck with me.

*Question of the Week comes from The Book of Questions by Gregory Stock, Ph.D.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Phone Calls

Over the last few days, I've received a couple of interesting phone calls.

The first occurred while I was at the Greenehouse watching The Amazing Race. The call came from a number that my phone did not recognize. But it was from the 540 area code (where the home town is located), so I answered, thinking it may be someone I know calling from an odd number.

Me: Hello?
Her: Is this Zack?
Me: Uh, no, it's not.
Her: Is this Beth's phone.
Me: No, you've got the wrong number.
Her: Oh, sorry...

I need to say something about this mystery caller. She sounded audibly hot. Now, there's a good chance that she's not hot at all. I have come across some radio personalities in my day that sound very attractive on the radio but then end up looking like a mule in real life. It happens. Anyway, the girl looking for Beth sounded hot.

The very next night, I was driving over to the Greenehouse to join them in viewing 24. This is another of our weekly rituals. As I pulled into the driveway, my phone rang and displayed yet another strange 540 number. To be honest, I'm not sure if it was the same number or not. I'm spoiled by the programmable phone book in my cell phone. I don't remember seven-digit numbers anymore.

Me: Hello?
Her: Is Beth there?
Me: I'm sorry, you have the wrong number.
Her: Oh, sorry...

That's twice. It may have been the same girl twice, but I'm not sure. In any case, the second call sounded audibly hot as well. I'm thinking if I get a third call I'm going to strike up a conversation with her. I don't know if I'll come right out and tell her I think she sounds hot. In fact, I probably won't say anything witty at all.

I have been thinking though, what if Beth gave this chick a fake number. What if this girl thinks that she and Beth are better friends than they really are? And who's this Zack character? I feel like I'm involved in these people's lives now. I'm concerned about the hot girl's voice and her friendship with Beth. Or lack thereof.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

American Idol: 13 becomes 11

It's a double elimination round and there's some new twist that I missed at the end of last night's episode. Since it ran over, my DVR didn't catch it all. I hope the producers had a talk with the judges about keeping their comments to a minimum. That's what makes the show go over time. And what was the deal with Paula last night? Someone should tell her wait 'til about 2 hours before bedtime to take the Ambien.

The new rule is the judges' save. Up until the top five, the judges can save one contestant from elimination just once. The decision must be unanimous among the judges. If the judges use the save in one week, no one will be eliminated, but the next week, two people will be eliminated. The save can be used only once during the season.

We caught a glimpse of where the Idols are staying. Nice place. I think I'll get a summer place like that someday. We are then treated the top 13 singing the Jackson 5's I Want You Back. After that, we have the recap from last night. Again, kind of pointless, but we do need to fill an hour here.

Ford commercial is as lame as ever. We'll get to see ten more of those. Can't wait. Now let's get to the results. Up first is Michael Sarver. He's the first one who's safe. Alison Iraheta stands up. She is also safe. Jasmine Murray is asked to walk down to the center of the stage. She's the first of the bottom. I didn't see that coming.

Matt Giraud stands up and seems eager to get to center stage. Instead he's asked to sit back down. He's safe. Kris Allen is asked to keep standing while Megan is asked to stand next to him. Kris is safe, Megan is in the bottom as well. Of these two, one is safe, the other is eliminated (unless the judges do that save thing). Megan is asked to sit back down. Jasmine sings I'll Be There once more as a way to convince the judges to save her. After she sings, the judges decide that America made the right choice and she'll be going home.

I skipped the Kanye West performance. After that we get back to some of the results. Scott is safe. Alexis is safe. Danny is safe. Duh. Anoop walks to the stage. Adam is safe. Jorge and Lil both stand up. Jorge is the one going to the center of the stage to stand with Anoop. Duh. After the break, we'll find out which one is going home (barring a save from the judges).

Kelly Clarkson comes out and has a conversation with Ryan, then sings her new song. Nicole wants me to mention that her wardrobe is horrendous. She also doesn't like the song, which is titled My Life Would Suck Without You. Back to Anoop and Jorge. Anoop is safe. Jorge sings again, and sounds worse than he did last night. The judges decide not to use the save on him either.

I was way off this week. I thought for sure it would be Anoop. I'm gonna have to pay better attention next week.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

American Idol: 13

So there was an unseen announcer to introduce the judges and Ryan. In the past, the judges were just sitting a the table. Now they walked to the table as their names were called out. Anyone else think that was weird?

Tonight the top 13 perform the songs of Michael Jackson. Randy just made the claim that any one of the thirteen could win this thing. Yeah, I don't think so. There are a few that are really good. But for the most part, this season has been pretty dull.

Lil Rounds - The Way You Make Me Feel
For the most part Lil does a good job. There are a couple spots where she seems to be a bit off key, but it's definitely not enough to take her out of the competition. A lot of the time, the person to sing first is easily forgettable. That won't happen in Lil's case. I think she has enough of a following that it doesn't matter what place she sings in, she'll still be around next week. 4.

Scott McIntyre - Keep the Faith
Scott is behind the piano tonight, a place where he is obvious comfortable. During the key change, there was a pretty impressive note that he hit. The end seemed just a little sketchy, but overall it was pretty good. 4.

Danny Gokey - PYT
Outstanding. Dude blew it out of the water. I agree with Simon, the vocals were phenomenal, but the dancing was a mess. But I can't judge the guy on the dancing. He's got more rhythm than I've got. Anyway, the whole song was great. 5.

Michael Sarver - You Are Not Alone
Michael is the kind of guy that's got a great personality and a good voice. Something about this song isn't clicking for him. At least, that's the way I see it. It was okay, not great. 3.

Jasmine Murray - I'll Be There
I know I've said before that this kid has a powerful voice. She's a very good singer, but it seems like this song choice was a safe pick. Considering some of Michael Jackson's songs, this one seems a little easier. Don't get me wrong, I think she did a really good job with it. I just think she could have cut loose a little more. 4.

Kris Allen - Remember the Time
Kris is someone that we haven't seen much of during this season. I think that gives him something of a disadvantage. Most of the other contestants gained a lot of exposure during the auditions and Hollywood Week. The first time we really saw Kris was during his first live TV performance. He's accompanying himself on guitar and doing a pretty good job. Some of the song seems a little awkward. Toward the end, some of it turns sort of so-so. 3.

Allison Iraheta - Give In to Me
At first it seems a little too low for her range. She's able to pick up some steam on the chorus. She has a very distinctive sound and style. I thought she did pretty good with it, not great though. 3.

Anoop Desai - Beat It
I think Anoop has a really good voice, but I'm not sure that Beat It is the song to show off his vocal ability. Yeah, it shows that he knows how to inject some energy into his performance, but it's not showing off his actual strength there. I mean, I'd like to see Anoop go further in the competition, and that could just be because he's a local. 2.

Jorge Nunez - Never Can Say Good-Bye
A couple weeks ago, he turned out to be the one to beat in his group of 12. I'm not sure if it's the song choice tonight or what, but it just doesn't seem as memorable as his last performance. What was it he sang? I can't remember. Anyway, there are a couple spots that seem a little off pitch-wise, but it's not a bad performance overall. 3.

Megan Joy Corkrey - Rockin' Robin
At first I thought she was gonna do like her last two performances and just stand behind the mic stand and look awkward. Her motions aren't much better when she takes the mic out and moves away though. She did say that her first time really singing on a stage was with American Idol. I guess the whole stage presence thing hasn't kicked in yet. She did a really good job with the song though. Vocally, I mean. 3.

Adam Lambert - Black and White
I think he'll be okay with this song as long as he doesn't end it with the hardcore vandalism of a car. A lot of the song was good, but there were a couple parts that were just bad. Like he lost some of the control. There was a lot more good than bad though. It'll be interesting to see what he can do with something from Aerosmith. 4.

Matt Giraud - Human Nature
Matt's another of our contestants that is clearly very comfortable behind a piano. The vocals aren't stellar and honestly, the song is kind of boring. He doesn't have as great a control over his falsetto as Adam did. It was okay. 3.

Alexis Grace - Dirty Diana
I had no idea that this girl had a voice as powerful as she does. I was pleasantly surprised. 4.

For me, best of the night was Danny. My picks for bottom three are Anoop, Michael, and Kris. Sadly, I think Anoop will be going home this week.

Monday, March 09, 2009

The Smell

I like to drive home for lunch on these inconvenient days when I have to work. I still haven't decided if I save money by eating at home for free or by not wasting gas on the drive home by doing the fast food thing. I'm sure there's some sort of mathematical equation that I could work to figure out where the money's going, but I'm trying to stick with that whole "When am I ever gonna use this?" argument for not caring about math all through high school.

Anyway, I came home to have some lunch and noticed a rather large van blocking the road around to the parking lot in front of my building. At first this really annoyed me, 'cause I had to drive the long way around. Strike one, strange van guy.

The half hour I spent in my apartment eating my sandwich went by without a hitch. The time went by pretty quickly, as lunchtimes tend to do. As I walked into the hallway I noticed a very long hose and a very long extension cord stretched along the hallway. When I got to the exit, I noticed the carpet was wet. I also noticed some strange van guy spraying it down with something. I asked if it was okay for me to walk that way or if I should find stairs somewhere else. He said it was fine, so I walked. Whatever he was spraying was pretty slick. I nearly fell when I was in the lobby. Strike two strange, carpet spraying van guy.

By the time I got home from work, the carpet cleaning experiment was finished. I made my way back up to my home on the second floor and noticed an odd smell. At first sight, the hallway carpet looked much cleaner. But the odor it gave off said something different. I'm not sure how to describe it without causing nauseating feelings in you, the reader, but here's my try. The hallway now smells how I imagine regurgitated cotton candy would smell like. Strike three strange, carpet spraying, cotton candy vomiting van guy.

Think I'll start packing my lunch.

Tribute to Star Wars and John Williams

I posted a link to this video on Facebook awhile back. When the video was originally posted on YouTube, it was removed for legal reasons. But now it's back where it belongs, and that means that now I can post it on my blog, so that even more people can view the awesomeness of this video. Chances are, you've seen it before, in one form or another. But I just wanted to make sure you had the option to watch.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Spring Forward

I knew it. All week I knew. In the back of my mind, I kept reminding myself, "This weekend, spring forward."

And then this weekend came and I neglected to set my clocks an hour forward.

I'm spoiled by a few clocks in my home that automatically change themselves. Okay, it's really only two, but they're the two I use the most: the cable box and my phone. The other two clocks in the apartment (the microwave and a clock/radio) are old school and require a manual push forward.

This morning I awoke and looked at the clock in the bedroom. It read 8:30, so in my mind, I told myself that I didn't even have to start getting ready for church for another hour and a half. So I threw my head back down on the pillow and drifted back into sleep.

The reality of the situation was that it was 9:30 when I woke up that first time. That 90 minutes of extra time was actually 30, but I paid no heed to this "reality." So I got up at 11, thinking it was 10. I walked into the living room to open the laptop and check the old e-mail machine. To my surprise, it was an hour later than I believed it to be.


So I overslept and missed church. It's not the first time this has happened and I'm sure I'm not the only person in the world that managed to pull this off today.

Can anyone really explain what this Daylight Savings Time is all about anyway? What's the point? Except to rob most people of an hour every spring. Sure, theoretically we get that hour back in the fall, but it's a long time before November rolls back around.

I said most people, 'cause I don't feel like I was cheated out of anything this time. I slept right through the time change. Did not lose a minute of sleep.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

The Last Birthday

I turned 29 yesterday. Most of the day was just a typical Friday. I went to work, I got frustrated, I got fed up, and then six o'clock arrived.

I was picked up in the bank parking lot by the Greenes and our friends Jonathan and Angela. They then drove me out to my first experience at P.F. Chang's. I've heard from a number of people that this restaurant was really good. I disagree. It was kind of awesome.

I'm not the biggest fan of Chinese food, but there are a few dishes that I really do like. I usually stick with a sweet and sour chicken kind of thing, and since it's familiar, that's what I went with. I was impressed. Since it was my birthday, I was treated to one of those shot glass deserts, of the strawberry cheesecake variety. It had a candle in it. Good times.

Our original plan for the night was to see Watchmen after dinner. That plan fell through. Instead we went back to the Greenehouse and had a late night viewing of The Dark Knight. It's actually a good thing we didn't pay to see a movie. Jonathan and Angela ended up leaving halfway through the movie, and I nearly fell asleep during the rest of it. I may have actually dozed off once or thrice. I was probably snoring too. I'm told I do that.

All in all, it was a good night. It needed to be since it's the last time I'll celebrate my birthday. I'm 29 now. I'm thinking I'll have a hard time with 30 next year. I might surprise myself and be okay with it. But right now, hitting 30 feels like the point of no return. Adulthood or bust. At least right now, I feel like I can still get away with being mildly immature.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Question of the Week: Risk

You are offered $1,000,000 for the following act: Before you are ten pistols--only one of which is loaded. You must pick up one of the pistols, point it at your forehead, and pull the trigger. If you can walk away you do so a millionaire. Would you accept the risk?

You know what? Times are tough right now. The economy is in the crapper. I'm only working a part-time job and having a difficult time finding a full-time one. I'm even having difficulty getting a second part-time job. So yeah, why not. That's a 90% chance that I'm gonna walk away a millionaire. What kind of pistols are they? Now, I don't know much about guns, but if they're the six-shooter/revolver type, then I guess I could just look and see which gun had bullets in the chambers. Pretty sure that's the gun I'd avoid.

*Question of the Week comes from The Book of Questions by Gregory Stock, Ph.D.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

American Idol - Wild Card Round

So, I had been thinking that the Wild Card folks would have their own week to perform and get the vote from the public. But apparently, the public didn't want them the first time around, so the public doesn't get to choose this time. Tonight, the eight Wild Card contestants will each sing their last chance song. Then the judges will decide the three best performers of the night, rounding out the Top 12.

Jesse Langseth - Tell Me Something Good
This is her last ditch effort and this is what she pulls out? Seriously? Two lines into it, I'm thinking the judges would have done a lot better bringing back Sanjaya Malakar. No, wait... pretend I didn't say that. That was atrocious. 1.

Matt Giraud - Who's Lovin' You
The dueling pianist took the judges' advice to heart and is sticking to something with a real bluesy kind of feel to it. It's actually really good. Compared to his last performance, when he sang Coldplay's Viva La Vida, he's doing surprisingly well. 4.

Megan Corkrey - Black Horse and a Cherry Tree
Again, this is much better than her previous performance and a better song choice. She sings it well and it seems to fit her. However, once again, her stand still choreography is kind of rough. That last note was kind of rough too. 3.

Von Smith - Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word
I know this has nothing to do with his singing ability, but he kind of creeps me out. When he stares into the camera, it's like trying to stare down Dwight Shrute. Except he's not funny. The song itself isn't bad, but isn't good. It's just... eh... It didn't start out very well. It got pretty decent in the middle. But then it didn't end very well. 2.

Jasmine Murray - Reflection
It's usually a pretty gutsy move to pick a Christina Aguilera song. Of those pop princesses of the early 21st century, Christina's definitely the most talented. She's a tough chick to measure up to. Despite her age, Jasmine has proven that she has a very powerful voice. And that wasn't her problem last time, the problem was her choice of song. This time she picked the right song. I don't know if I'd call this a perfect performance, but it's definitely very good. 4.

Ricky Braddy - Superstitious
Right away, he seems a little flat. There's a moment where the song just gets too low for his range. He hits his falsetto notes pretty well. Overall I'm not that impressed. 3.

Tatiana Del Toro - Saving All My Love For You
Every time her name is mentioned, my eyes do an automatic roll. Every time she speaks, I just want to scream SHUT UP at the TV over and over again. Another gutsy decision, pulling out the Whitney. Gutsier that this is the same song that she did when she wasn't voted through the first time. It makes me sick that can actually sing. And I mean that literally. Physically ill. She had me until the end. 4. SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP! I think I'm getting a migraine.

Anoop Desai - My Prerogative
Did he do this during Hollywood Week? I can't remember. I think he did. If it wasn't him, it was somebody. If it's a repeat song, that could hurt him in the judges' eyes. But, despite the rerun, he is doing a very good job with it. Again, not a perfect performance, but very good nonetheless. 4.

Now, before the judges make their final decisions, I'm going to pick the three that I think have the talent and ability to do well in the top 12. I scored 4s for 4 different people. But I can't, on principle, make Tatiana one of my picks. So I'm gonna say Matt Giraud, Jasmine Murray, and Anoop Desai.

After a break, during which the judges made their picks, Jasmine is brought to the stage. She is in the top 12. Ricky is up next, but doesn't get the same good news. Megan and Tatiana are brought up together. That tells me that one of them is probably safe. I'm nervous about this. I'm nervous and a little nauseated. The nausea is now gone, Megan is going on to the 12. That was far too close... uh... awkward... is Tatiana praying at the American Idol judges' table?

Okay... this is embarrassing. My DVR shut off during that last commercial. I wasn't home to watch the show live, so I'm guessing that the show ran past 9:00. I don't know who the final finalist is.

According to this Yahoo! article, Matt Giraud was picked as number 12. Then Simon announced that they decided there should be a 13th contestant. Lucky number 13 went to Chapel Hill's own Anoop Desai. So I guess all three of my choices went through, in kind of a roundabout way. And I'm pretty sure I got last night's winners right too. I had a pretty good week. Now that Tatiana is gone for good, I'm actually looking forward to the real competition next week.


I've been thinking of deleting my MySpace account. I never get on there to check up on people anymore, I use Facebook for that. But there was a time when the only blog I kept was on MySpace. So the other day, I was exploring my MySpace page and came across an old blog I posted. It was a lot like that "25 Random Things About Me" thing that invaded Facebook notes last month, except that when I did it back then, it was only 10 things.

At the bottom of that list, I said that before I turn 30, I want to go on a cross country road trip. Tomorrow, I turn 29. That tells me that I really need to get moving on this cross country road trip.

Thus, I started the planning process. I figure the first thing that should be done is to plot out the route to take. Now, there are two things that I want to see above all else on this trip: Mount Rushmore and the Grand Canyon. Okay, three things... Hoover Dam also. So here's what I've got so far...

-Of course I begin in Wake Forest, since that's where I live right now. Day One would consist of driving for the better portion of the day, then coming to the first stop in Metropolis, Illinois. There's a huge Superman festival there every year, maybe I could coordinate the trip to hit that at the same time, but it's not essential. I would spend the night there, then spend a few hours getting pictures in town before moving on to the second leg of the trip.
-Day Two would take me north, to Wheaton, Illinois, where I would (if they let me) stay with my cousin Lindsay and her husband John. I know it would be a short visit. But the way I figure, I could get there in time for dinner on Day Two, then head out after breakfast the next day.
-Day Three would be spent only driving. The destination from here is Mt. Rushmore National Park in South Dakota, but that's too far to go in one day. I figure that, soon after crossing the South Dakota border, I could stay a night in Sioux Falls.
-Day Four would take me the rest of the way to Mt. Rushmore, where I could get some photos and then spend one more night.
-Day Five would have me heading back south toward Colorado Springs, Colorado to visit my college friend Brandy. She's the one who shoved me into a twelve foot snow drift freshman year. Shut up, that's how I remember it! Anyway, I'd hang out there for awhile and maybe see some snow in the summer time. Probably not, but you never know.
-Day Six, I'll drive toward Salt Lake City. Not so much for a big tourist stop, but as a pit stop between Colorado and San Francisco.
-Day Seven, of course, will be the day I arrive in the city by the bay. Not sure if I'll really do anything like drive across the Golden Gate Bridge or visit Candlestick Park, but I will stay there for an evening.
-On Day Eight, I'll head to Southern California to say hey to Jen.
-Day Nine will be a pretty full day. I'll drive over to Vegas to get a look at the Hoover Dam (they shot Transformers there). Then I'll head to the Grand Canyon. That night I'll stay somewhere close to the Canyon. I'm sure I can find something.
-Day Ten, I'll drive toward Oklahoma City, but will wind up stopping somewhere along the way.
-Day Eleven, I'll finally arrive in Oklahoma and stay a night.
-Day Twelve, I'll head toward Savannah, Georgia, but again, I'll wind up stopping somewhere along the way.
-Day Thirteen, I'll stay a night in Savannah. You may be asking, why would I go down to Savannah? Isn't that out of my way? Why yes, it is. But his way I could say that I saw both oceans on this trip, and I've never been to Savannah. Two birds, my friend. Two birds.
-On Day Fourteen, I would finally head back home to Wake Forest. Ending a very long, two week road trip. And if I've planned it correctly, I'd still have the weekend to recover.

That's the plan. It's a grand total of 7084.94 miles and over 106 hours of total drive time.

But you know what I haven't planned yet? The budget.

Okay, I have a certain amount of faith in my car. But I just don't think Jade would be up for that kind of trip. While yes, she still runs pretty good, she's not as young as she used to be. So I'm thinking I would need to rent a car for this trip.

So I did some checking with my good friends at Enterprise Rent-A-Car. For a two week period of time, the rate for renting a car is over $400. Also, Enterprise has a mileage cap of 3000. That leaves me with nearly 4085 miles that would go over the cap. You know how much it costs per mile after that 3000? 30 cents. That doesn't sound like a lot right? Well, multiply that by 4000. That's an extra $1200. Suddenly driving the Escort doesn't sound so bad.

Since we've established I can't afford to rent a car, let's think about putting gas in the car I already have. On the highway, the Escort gets roughly 30 miles to the gallon, which is pretty good considering her age. That being the case, I estimate roughly 25 fill-ups throughout the two week trip. It's hard to say what gas prices will be like in the summertime, but it can be assumed that they'll be back up to 2.50 or higher. But let's go with 2.50 a gallon. That would probably run me over $650 in gasoline.

And then there's the cost of approximately eleven hotel stays. I haven't stayed in a hotel in a very long time. I have no idea the average cost of a decent hotel room. Am I incorrect in guessing those eleven stays would probably total more than another $650?

So, it turns out this is gonna be a really expensive trip if I go alone. So I'm gonna put it out there. Anyone wanna go with? I should probably take that off my "before 30" list and add it to my "bucket list."

I'll probably need to save some money for a very long time. Or sell that ever elusive novel.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

American Idol - Top 36, Part III Results

Once again, we have an hour long show to do something that requires about five minutes to do. Tell three people they've made it, tell nine that their dreams have just been shattered.

Instead, we start out with the stuff we've already seen. How did this group of 12 get to where they are now? Oh, right, a rerun montage. I'm glad they're showing us this, 'cause I sure haven't been paying attention to this stuff for the last eight weeks.

After the montage, we get the group sing-along: Katy Perry's Hot and Cold. I sure hope the top 12 are able to gel better than these top 36 groups have done. I wonder if it was a challenge to choreograph something involving a blind guy. There is an awful lot of sitting down going on.

Now we get another recap. What happened last night? This isn't going to change my mind about any of them. The ones I thought were good were still good. The ones I thought were bad were still bad. So Ryan then asks a few of the contestants how they feel about last night; how they feel tonight.

Lil is asked to stand and is the first to be sent to the stools tonight. After she sings once more, the results continue. Arianna, Taylor, Alex, Kendall, and Scott are all asked to stand. As a teaser, Ryan says that one of them is in the top 12 before sending us to commercial.

Back from the break, Seacrest begins with Arianna. She's asked to sit back down. Next up is Taylor. And she's next down. Then Alex receives the bad news. Kendall and Scott are both asked to stand. Scott is the one that's going through to the top 12.

After Scott sings and another break, Nathaniel and Kristen are asked to stand in place. Both are quickly asked to sit back down. Von and Felicia stand up next, then they're back down. Finally we come down to Ju'not and Jorge. Jorge is the one that's through. As if there was any doubt.

So at this point, we have nine of the twelve. Now we come to the wild card round. Each of the four judges will choose two of the eliminated contestants. There will be eight to perform next week for another chance.

Randy's first choice is Von Smith. Kara's first pick is Jasmine Murray. Paula goes with Ricky Braddy. Simon chooses Megan Corkery. The final four choices are Tatiana (that's totally messed up), Matt Giraud, Jesse Langseth, and Anoop Desai.

Okay, you can't possibly tell me that the judges actually chose Tatiana to come back for the Wild Card round. Seriously? Randy's the one that announced that call. You can't tell me that Randy chose her, out of the other, much more talented people that they could've picked. The producers made that call, I have no doubt. The judges made that decision because the producers think she makes good TV. The producers think she is overdramatic and will make a spectacle of herself. The producers are the ones that sign the judges' paychecks. We do what the producers want.

I may have to write my contact at the N&O and let her know that if Tatiana makes the top 12, I'm not gonna be able to write for their blog anymore because I won't be watching the show anymore. Blurg.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

American Idol - Top 36, Week III

I love Tuesdays and Wednesdays during this time of the year. I don't have to be incredibly creative, I just have to watch American Idol and I have my blog for the day. And this week, I get three posts out of it. I love the extra episode! Actually, I'll probably complain about spending an hour watching the judges give another look at the contestants that weren't good enough to get the public votes. In the meantime, we get the last group of 12 that will perform before the wild card choices.

For the most part, I don't have a lot of hope for this group as a whole. I only say that because the first two groups were, for the most part, a disappointment. Is it possible that the people at American Idol, after eight years of searching for the perfect pop stars, have exhausted America of its talented people?

Von Smith - You're All I Need to Get By
Here's another one that I couldn't believe made it to the top 36. Throughout the song, it sounds like he's not quite in tune. His mom and sister are jumping up and down like he's Elvis. He's not Elvis. I thought the song was a little too big for him. The judges don't agree with me. They liked his performance. I'll agree with one thing, he did better than Hollywood week. Maybe it sounded different in person than it did on TV. 2.

Taylor Vaifanua - If I Ain't Got You
I think she's done a pretty good job with this song. She's got a great voice and I think it's very good. The judges don't seem to like it. I didn't realize that she performed this song during Hollywood week, we really didn't see her during those shows. I think the judges and I are hearing different things tonight. 3.

Alex Wagner-Trugman - I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues
Right away they make mention of the fact that he's been on the internet reading about how people are calling him a dork. I don't know about how much of a dork he is, but he does remind me a lot of Ross from Friends. I don't think this performance is awful, but it's not great either. When he's got it in control, it's pretty good. But he goes over the top a lot. And the key change was really shaky. 3.

Arianna Afsar - The Winner Takes It All
Vocally, this girl is very talented. But I'm pretty sure the judges are going to give her a hard time about this song being too old fashioned for her age. They probably want her to come out and do something younger and peppier. I mean, she seriously has a powerful voice, but it is pretty boring. 3. BTW, Paula did call it old fashioned. I called it.

Ju'not Joyner - Hey There, Delilah
I really like this song, but I was disappointed with the way a lot of contestants did it during Hollywood week. I'm not sure I like this arrangement, bringing it down, making it way too mellow. And what's with the handcuffs hanging off the belt? I'm not sure I get it. I'm sorry, but this song just doesn't work like this. 2.

Kristen McNamara - Give Me One Reason
Personally, I'm not much of a fan of this song. As soon as the band started playing, it sounded like the beginning of something you'd hear in a karaoke bar. Fitting since this girl works as a karaoke hostess. She's not doing a bad job, but it is a very karaoke-like performance. 3.

Nathaniel Marshall - I Would Do Anything For Love
Another karaoke performance. I wonder if it's hard for him to eat with the staples in his bottom lip. I didn't like the performance. Uh... 2.

Felicia Barton - No One
She's a replacement player who has been given a second chance at this thing. On top of some pitch issues, her voice cracks once or twice. She was cut before. I think she'll be cut again. 2.

More than halfway through the show I have to ask, what the heck is up with the judges? Are they on crack tonight? It's like their judgments are just completely off. Seriously, are they even listening to the same people that I am?

Scott McIntyre - Mandolin Rain
I've been curious how this would play out for him. I've wondered how a blind guy would do on a live stage in front of a live audience. He's done a really good job. I actually think it's the best so far tonight. I don't know if it's a 5, but it's a solid 4.

Kendall Beard - This One's For the Girls
This song definitely fits her personality, but she's just not doing it very well. I think there are some definite pitch issues going on here. And the ending almost sounds like she's not sure what to do with it. She kind of gives off a Kristen Chenoweth kind of vibe. Except without the same vocal talent. 2.

Jorge Nunez - Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me
In his interview he said that he is now very aware of his accent as he sings. That's obviously something that he's worked very hard on in rehearsal, because there isn't even the hint of a Puerto Rican accent in this song. For the first time tonight, we have a great voice and a great song to go with it. Everything about this performance was right. I gots to go with a 5.

Lil Rounds - Be Without You
Lil definitely has a great voice and has a huge personality. Without a doubt, she is very comfortable on this stage. She delivers one of the best performances of the night and I'm pretty sure she'll sail through to the top 12. 5.

I'm fairly certain that we'll have two girls going through this week because of the fact that, so far, the guys really outnumber the girls in the top 12. Despite that logic, I'm hoping the votes will still be based on actual talent. So the ones that I think will be the top three will be Lil, Jorge, and Scott.

Monday, March 02, 2009


Yesterday was an Applebee's kind of day. After going to church, I hopped in the Big Greene Machine (I was gonna go with Greenemobile, but it doesn't have the same ring) and headed to lunch with them. The meal itself was somewhat uneventful, it was the after dinner show that got a little out of hand.

Gabby, who is quickly closing in on the terrible twos, found the window blinds at the next table to be a fascinating curiosity. As she was pulling on the blinds, she nearly knocked over some of our Applebee's neighbors' condiments. So I quickly, but gently, grabbed her and pulled her away, saying some derivation of the word no at the same time.

Sidebar: Being the youngest of five children, Gabby just isn't used to being told no. Her older siblings tend to spoil her. Okay, everyone tends to spoil her, but she's just so darn cute.

So then she gave me a look of total shock. How could I have possibly said something so cruel to someone so adorable? Not only that, but I pulled her away from her object of desire. And then, out popped that lower lip. Then right on cue, the tears flowed. The toturous screams began. It was as if, when I pulled her away from the window, I had torn off one of her appendages.

Despite the wailing and the water works, I felt no twinge of guilt. I knew that she was just fine. I knew that in her mind, she would eventually be just fine. But she was not alone in this Academy Award worthy performance.

Soon after, Braedon got in on the act. I wasn't really paying attention to what he was doing (I was being deafened by Gabby at the time), but whatever it was, it was enough to get the attention of Mommy. Mommy must not have liked this behavior and repeatedly told him to stop. Braedon, however, had other plans. Thus, Mommy got the attention of Daddy, who in turn dropped the hammer. Okay, really the hammer dropping was just telling Braedon that he would be going directly to his room upon returning home. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200.

Obviously that's not something Braedon wanted to hear. Since Gabby was faking a good cry, why shouldn't he? So then he started into it.

So then I wanted to see if I could do it too. I mean, if these two very small children could whip up some gut-wrenching tears at the drop of a hat, then why couldn't I?

I desperately tried to reach deep down into my very soul to find something to squeeze out the tears. I guess my soul's not as deep as I thought it was. I just couldn't find anything to make me cry. Then I tried biting my tongue. That didn't work either.

Maybe it's as I've said for years, my tear ducts, if in fact they do exist, must be all dried out.

Sitting there at the table, Nicole claimed that she has seen me cry. I was apalled. When had such a thing ever taken place, I wonder. Was it during a movie? Were we watching My Girl? I don't remember ever seeing that with the Greenes. She said it happened once when I was talking about Dad. I guess I can go along with that.

I just can't let that get too far out there. So if you're reading this now, you've been sworn to secrecy. We can't have anyone out there to start believing I have actual feelings and emotions.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Can't Stop Laughing

I dare you not to laugh while watching this video. Nay, I triple dog dare you.