Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Elementary, My Dear

I had planned to see “Avatar” in 3-D IMAX when I arrived at the AMC, but the show time was already sold out. So I bought a ticket for the next show, and had plenty of time to see another movie while waiting. I chose “Sherlock Holmes”, which I had been eager to see since I first saw the trailer.

  • I love me the RDJ. He’s maturing well, becoming more distinguished in his face. The lines of his face add a nice character to his appearance. It’s just unfair that men get to look better as they age. Well, at least *this* one does. ;)

  • I really liked the cerebral aspect to Sherlock Holmes, and RDJ plays this well. I haven’t read any of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s literature, but if it’s anything like what RDJ delivered in this sense, then I think that I’d enjoy it.

  • The parts of the action sequences that I enjoyed was the way he would figure out how to disable his opponent methodically. It makes me wonder if that’s how professional boxers do it.

  • Jude Law, not yet having those lines on his face, looks a little bit young to be Holmes’ best friend, but I did like him as the oft put-upon Watson.

  • The relationship between Holmes and Watson amused me. I liked that Holmes was worried that he’d lose his best friend to a woman, and made sure that Watson knew of her past. Not that I’d want that to happen to me, but it was just sweet to see that Holmes was afraid of being alone.

  • I liked that Mary was such a fan of the detective work that she would talk about other cases. I think that this probably warmed Holmes to her, because it reassured him that Watson wouldn’t be going anywhere far.

  • I wasn’t sure whether or not I liked Rachel McAdams in her role. I don’t know if it was the character or the actress herself, though. I did like that she and Holmes had a past and that she was the beautiful bad girl, but I don’t know why I didn’t really buy into her all that much. I guess it’s because I couldn’t figure out if I was supposed to like her or not.

  • The story itself wasn’t as interesting to me as the little flashbacks on how certain things were accomplished, such as how Holmes got all the way down to the coach where Irene was meeting with Moriarty.

  • I liked the score for this film, and it's no wonder. It's Hans Zimmer, of course!

  • The ending has us set up for a possible sequel, which makes sense. Holmes needs to have more cases to solve, right?

I enjoyed this movie, although probably not as much as I hoped to. I would be interested in seeing a sequel if there is one. Or maybe I should just pick up a book or two. ;)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Frog Went A Courtin'

Linda and I went shopping for a few hours last week, and had some time before our scheduled dinner with friends, so we saw “The Princess and The Frog”.

  • It’s very nice to see Disney back in the hand-drawn animation department. The artwork was beautifully done.
  • After the 1st 5 minutes, Linda turned to me and said, “Are you crying yet?” No, not until about 10 minutes later.
  • I was already familiar with some of the songs, since I had heard them during Princess Tiana’s Showboat Revue at Disneyland. That was a cool show: I was humming tunes and wanting some of the props with the fleur-de-lis on them. I also enjoyed them in the film, including the ones that I had not already heard. Princess Tiana’s voice is my favorite.
  • The villain kinda creeped me out on a personal level, because he reminds me of someone I know that also creeps me out.
  • The movie made me want to go to New Orleans. It also made me want gumbo and beignets. Perhaps I should just go to Disneyland and have all of that there. But I do want to visit the real NO some day. I know that it’s been hurt a lot by Hurricane Katrina, but I’m sure that there is still a lot of Bourbon Street that I would enjoy.
  • I really liked the twist on the old fairy tale, and that Tiana was familiar with the original tale before kissing the frog.
  • The whole mucus thing now cracks me up, because I had a “frog in my throat” the other day and realized that the colloquialism must have come from the fact that frogs have mucus on them. I thought to myself, “that’s not slime, that’s mucus!” OK, so that was gross, but it makes me giggle now.
  • So the gator goes and looks for a stick to help out the frogs, and then those guys are froggin'. Of course, I say to myself, "Gig 'em, Aggies!"...because I'm insane like that. *
  • I didn’t know that stars could hold hands.
  • I want to eat at Tiana’s restaurant! Looks swanky, with yummy food.

I look forward to watching this over and over again with my niece when it comes out on DVD.

* I can't believe that I never posted this on my original trip report to Texas A&M, so here goes. Liz, Angela and I were in the Texas A&M Bookstore, and we saw this picture on a t-shirt. Since I like to learn about local customs, I decided to ask one of the student workers there what, exactly, "Gig 'Em, Aggies" meant. Here is the exchange.

Sherry: What does "Gig 'Em" mean?

Student: Well, you know when you go froggin'?

Sherry (incredulously): No.

Student: When you go froggin', you hold a pointed stick in your hand and make a fist to hold it, and you stab the frog with the stick. That's called "gigging".

Sherry (trying to keep a straight face): Oh, OK. Thanks!

I then explained this to Liz and Angela. Liz was mortified. Angela said, "Oh, I was going to get that shirt because I thought that it was a 'thumbs up' sign. I don't want it now." (Angela likes frogs). None of us ended up getting the bull beanie with its longhorns sawed off, either. That chant is "Saw 'em off!" directed at their rivals, U of Texas (the Longhorns). Texans are violent. That was a great trip.

Anyway, sorry to add frog death to this post, but I needed to remind y'all of that for posterity. :)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Sing-Off: Finale

The finale of "The Sing-Off" aired live on Monday, December 21, 2009. I'm posting this a few days later, and only know of one of the groups that didn't win. I'm watching this as I type (as I did the other shows in this series), and here are my reactions.

Opening Number: "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" (U2) -- sung by the 3 finalists, Beelzebubs, Nota and Voices of Lee. The leads were in the middle of the stage, with their groups behind them. Nicely done. The 2 guys were a little bit under pitch at the beginning, probably due to nerves, but they all recovered nicely.

Voices of Lee were shown to make an appearance at Big Brothers/Big Sisters. I wonder if the other groups got to do appearances, too. They showed the stage to some of the kids.

The theme for this segment is "Songs of Hope"

"Stand By Me" -- Voices of Lee
I have far too much emotional attachment to this song. A couple of the chords did not agree with my ear, especially the ones at the intro and the ones with the high soprano. Otherwise, the lead was very good. Why is Jack Black there in the audience? OK, Ben, go talking about tri-tones. Hey, maybe those are the harmonies that I didn't like during the song. Tri-tones aren't what I expect to hear in that song, more like in a piece with, I don't know, sadness, which this was not about. Nicole, "Your warm sweet blend of harmonies and sounds"?! I don't know why that bugs me so much.

Beelzebubs visited Hollenbeck Palms, a senior center. That one guy was cute when shown singing with the guys. Aw, they serenaded that woman -- sweet!

"Where is the Love" -- Beelzebubs
Some harmonies a little bit off, but it was nice. I don't really like rap during a cappella stuff, because I feel like, "Dude, if you can sing well, why don't you just SING it?!" Nicole just doesn't have anything to say, but I guess since all of the votes are in, it doesn't matter. "Bubtastic", huh? Ben is pimping out daughters across America to them. Yes, thanks, Tufts, for letting them come out for the show. Maybe that's why the other college groups (the ones that I'm aware of and that I think also deserve to be on this show) didn't come.

Nota visited Someone Cares Kitchen and Tutoring. That's cool that they helped serve food.

"Lean on Me" -- Nota
What is it about this group that makes me just dislike their harmonies? Maybe it's just the opening ones this time. Oh, there's that guy, singing flat again. OK, it got better. Like hearing the vocal drumline, wish it could have gone on longer. Shawn says that they've got a flavor unlike anybody in this competition. Sigh. Yeah, because they're FLAT all of the time! Down, Sherry. Calm down. Nicole, all of the groups showcase what the voice, as an instrument, is capable of. It's not just Nota. Why, Ben, are you saying that you could drop any of them and the groove would go on? OK, I'm just sensitive about people leaving groups right now. I'll shut up.

Ooh, Voices of Lee gets to sing with Natasha Bedingfield? She's awesome.

"Pocketful of Sunshine" -- NB & VoL
I like the acoustic feel of this song when it's done a cappella. OK, but Natasha, you should keep up with your own song! ;) Nice recovery, though.

Beelzebubs were cute with the lovin' of Nicole.

"You Don't Own Me" -- NS & The Bubs
Is it possible for Nicole to sing a song without it being sexy? Seriously. OK, I get it. When she's not being as sexy, she's not on the pitch. This is a Girl Power song to me in its original incarnation, so this was an interesting touch.

Uh-oh. The group that I don't like, Nota, is singing with someone I'm not fond of: Smokey Robinson. I know he's a legend. I 've just never been fond of him. So are they only going to concentrate on the moves and not the actual music?

"Tracks of My Tears" -- SR & Nota
Smokey is used to singing with The Miracles, so this group is a good fit for him. Since that guy's not singing the lead, they didn't sound flat to me, either. Perhaps they should just add Smokey to their group, and Ben can have his way by getting rid of somebody. Oh, that's right. I said I'd shut up about that.

"Christmas" -- all finalists, joined by Nick Lachey
I'm just crazy. Everytime someone from Nota was featured, I didn't like it. That's cool that Nick is singing with all of them. That Voices of Lee gal is going to be a star, she's so pretty, and has a great voice. OK, there's too much snow now.

Medley by BoyzIIMen
*Someone* needs to tell me why there are only 3 of them now. Some of the harmonies of their old songs just seem wrong without their bass.

Bobby McFerrin doing improv with the finalists = Yay!

Results for Top 2: Beelzebubs and Nota
Aw, disappointed that Voices of Lee wasn't in 2nd place. (I did know before today that they didn't win). Oh, that girl needs braces before she becomes a star (I told you that I was mean).

Swan Song by Voices of Lee: "So Long, Farewell"
Hmmm...not sure that key change was planned. :

"Why Can't We Be Friends" -- Ben Folds with Nota and Beelzebubs
So if Voices of Lee had made it to the top 2, they'd be the ones singing with Ben instead of whomever? Um, Ben is not that great of a singer, I'm just telling you right now, so he has no business judging an a cappella competition if he's not vocally trained. He should have been the Paula, too. Yeah, I know, he's still a musician with a musician's ear, but ... oh, whatever.

Closing Remarks from Judges:

Shawn is crying because he remembers when the Boyz first got their deal. How totally sweet! I'd be crying along with him if I hadn't cried myself out earlier this week.

Ben tells them not to change.

I have no idea why Nicole is near tears, except perhaps because Shawn is still crying.

Winner is Nota. Congratulations.

Of course. I TOLD you they'd torture me with this group until the end.

That's one less CD I have to buy.

Thanks to all of the participants for bringing the world of a cappella to the nation. Nick is saying "What a run!" as if the show took 6 months long. Um, Nick, it was 4 shows. FOUR.

Swan Song by Beelzebubs: "We've Gotta Get Out of This Place" -- I'm going to chalk those bad notes to their grief in not being named champions.

Didn't he already announce that Nota won the grand prize? He's just wacky.

Nota: "Down" -- Torture for me throughout the show, as predicted. I need to go lay down now.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

DLR LotD 12/18/09

Disneyland Resort
Line of the Day

Friday, December 18, 2009

"Spamen!" -- Cindy and Sherry, simultaneously, at Catal

Thursday, December 17, 2009

SYTYCD Finale -- Season 6

Last night, the finale for Season 6 of "So You Think You Can Dance" aired.

The usual 3 judges (Nigel, Mary and Adam) were joined by judges from the early rounds (Debbie Allen, Tice D'Orio and Little C). The dancers did a favorite routine from each judge. It was nice to see that these dances included others from the top 20, and not just the finalists. Unfortunately, Russell injured himself during the 1st dance, so they had to show clips of him with whomever.

In order of cast-off:

6th place: Ryan
5th place: Ashleigh
4th place: Ellenore

3rd place: Kathryn -- top girl! Yay!

The top 2 for the season was my choice for top 2, so I would have been happy with either one winning. Both of them had made me cry at points, so it's not like I would have been disappointed. I was nervous for them, though.

2nd place: Jakob -- The most beautiful dancing that I have ever seen came from numbers with Jakob. His lines are gorgeous, his jetes are to die for, and his quiet personality is just cuteness.

1st place: Russell -- YAY, Russell! Even with his injury, he jumped up and down on his other foot. I cried happy tears for the Krumper that could dance any style that was thrown at him. He was actually my favorite when I first saw him at the taping that I attended (my first-ever viewing of an entire SYTYCD episode), because of that African Jazz Frog Dance. That was amazing. He's just grown leaps and bounds since his first audition. I also just finished watching the SYTYCD marathon that I had recorded, and was surprised that Russell was in the bottom 4 during the Top 20 show. Whoa. He really has come a long way.

Congratulations, Russell! I'm now wondering if I'm going to see the tour. Because I don't have enough to be crazy about. ;)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Sing-Off Ep. 3

The Sing-Off
"Superstar Medley, Judges' Challenge & Songs of Hope"
Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Group Performance: "Mr. Blue Sky" by ELO
What a fun, happy song! I'm glad that they all had each other for support. It keeps everyone in tune when there are more people to tune to....which is why I admire the smaller groups than the bigger ones. The happy feeling reminded me of "Glee", and now I'm remembering that I have to wait until, like FOREVER until we get a new show of that.

Round 1: Superstar Medleys -- groups sing hits from one of the superstar groups of all time.

Nota: songs by The Jackson 5
Could use a little more bass in that intro to "I Want You Back". I've decided that it's the lead singer for that song that keeps making them flat. I liked the harmonies in "I'll Be There". Maybe they worked because someone else was Jermaine, so he didn't bring their notes to flatness. Except for the first song in this medley, I actually liked Nota this time. Shawn, it's not "this is no music". It's "this is with no instruments". Sigh. No, Ben. David's falsetto is *not* smooth. ACK!

Beelzebubs: songs by The Who
OK, I know I'm crazy, because when I hear the first few lines "No one knows what it's like to be the bad man..." I picture Giles in BtVS. Nice opening song. Rockin' the "Who Are You?"! Great job all around!

Maxx Factor: songs by The Beach Boys
Close, tight harmonies, indeed! A couple of intonation problems, though. That gal Valerie who sings Bass is awesome. Classic Barbershop ending. Love that. So Shawn says, "We have a bass guy in our group,.." and I said to the TV, "His name is George." I'm wacky.

SoCals: songs by Journey
Let me just say that it's hard for anyone to sing Steve Perry's stuff (except for maybe Arnel Pineda). Harmonies not really creative. Would have liked some original chords, you know? Do the SoCals just want to be compared to "Glee" for this entire show, or what? You go, David, hitting on Nicole! :)

Voices of Lee: songs by The Beatles
Some intonation missteps, and the 1st 2 songs were unrecognizable to me, for some reason. But they were well done.

Judges have deliberated on who will not be singing in the 2nd half. "The end of the road", Nick? That's a BoyzIIMen song! :)

Not a surprise that Maxx Factor was voted off, since the judges have been stupid about them since Day 1. Swan Song "Leaving On A Jet Plane". Nice.

Round 2: Judges' Request

Nota: "Sledgehammer" by Peter Gabriel
That was pretty good, actually! Are you all just keeling over that I'm being positive about Nota today? Because I'm surprised, too. Some of the harmonies did not do it for me, but I was fine with it.

Beelzebubs: "Sweet Caroline" by Neil Diamond
Ba Ba Baaaa! Wow, more "Glee". Anyway, that was enjoyable. Nice roses!

SoCals: "Hazy Shade of Winter"
Judges picked this song because they have no idea that SoCals already have an arrangement of this on hand from their college group. I wouldn't have know that if Aura hadn't tweeted about it, but I checked the SoCal Vocals website to make sure. Ben, most people don't know what this song is about no matter who sings it. Just saying.

Voices of Lee: "Man in the Mirror"
Like the twist on the intro. Nice way to attack the key change! Agree with Shawn about not feeling the MJ intensity. Don't agree with Ben. Good music is *not* "just a song".

Judges voted off another group.

Guaranteed spots for finale:
Beelzebubs, Nota and Voices of Lee

Sorry, SoCals. Swan Song: "Here I Go Again" -- great job.

I think y'all know who I'm *not* rooting for, Perhaps I should vote so they don't win. Can't watch it live on Monday, but that's OK.

I guess I'm back to being Simon/Nigel.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Sing-Off Ep. 2

The Sing-Off
"Big Hits and Guilty Pleasures"
Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Still on a high after watching SYTYCD, I had to start this show over because I was blogging about dancing.

Oh, Nick Lachey was in 98 degrees. My bad. I knew that N'Sync comment was wrong, but didn't know why. DUH! Reminds me of when Mark Kriski of KTLA Morning News called Rockapella "98 degrees" and I was mad at him for, like, a year.

1st Round: Put a twist on a hit from the last 2 years

Beelzebubs: "Right Round"
OK, I'm old because I remember when this was originally done in the 80s, way before the current hip-hop artist, Flo-Rida. Fun stuff, 'Bubs! Would have liked more harmony, though. Shawn, really. It's not *that* unheard of to dance to a cappella music. Sigh.

Noteworthy: "Viva La Vida"
It's Brady's song! Intonation, ladies. You're making me want to hear Coldplay's piano, in order to get you back in tune. Shawn was not wrong about that, audience-who-clearly-isn't-packed-with-musicians. OK, that was snarky. Sorry.

Voices of Lee: "No One"
Did Alicia Keys some justice! Some harmony notes need some fine-tuning, but still nice.

Nota: "Down"
Did not enjoy those opening chords at all. Are they supposed to be singing flat? Because that's what I hear. Not sure Mr. Shaw would like this. Sorry, guys, I just don't have the love for you. Well, of course, it's effortless, Shawn. Flat = lazy singing to me. I know, I'm harsh. Seriously, though, why do the judges like them so much? I don't get it. Perhaps I should give them all pitch pipes for Christmas.

OMG, I'm realizing that I would be the Simon or Nigel of this show!

SoCals: "Already Gone"
Hey! She looks a little bit like Kelly Clarkson! Very nicely done! A little bit of trouble when they modulated to the other key, but they recovered. I agree with Shawn, would have liked a little more bass.

Maxx Factor: "Love Story"
Great job, ladies! I like how they were all worried about it in rehearsal, because it's not their genre. I loved their style, though, and agree with Ben about them not losing their own style. I also agree with Nicole about them sounding like one voice.

2nd round: Guilty Pleasures -- songs you secretly love but would only sing in the shower. Insults already flying through my brain, and I haven't heard anything yet. I really am a bitch.

Beelzebubs: "Come Sail Away"
Right now I'm thinking of Cartman singing one of my favorite Styx songs. :) Anyway, that was fun! Nice job, boys.

Noteworthy: "Hold On"
All-female a cappella group singing a Wilson Phillips song. Obvious, or easy choice? Either way, they did a good job with it, but I would have liked to see them do something a little bit out of their element.

Voices of Lee: "Freedom 90"
First of all, I would sing this song in OR out of the shower. I guess I don't feel guilty about what I sing. ;) Nice job! I like them a lot better today than I did yesterday. Nice harmonies at the end.

Nota: "Stayin' Alive"
Oh, geez. They're going to mess with the Bee Gees? Sigh. Do they know that the Brothers Gibb sing *high* and *not* flat? OK, it wasn't so bad during this song. I didn't like some of the harmonies, though. These stupid judges are going to keep this group all the way to the end, aren't they? AUGH. Ben thinks they're going sharp now. I think Ben's ears are flat.

SoCals: "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now"
OK, you don't really have to hit the word "stop" that harshly, people. Key change made the song a little too high for the voices, but they still did a good job.

BTW, why are the backstage comments from the bands just really a recap of what the judges just said? Talk about something else, please. We JUST heard the judges, and can probably rewind on the DVR if we really needed to hear Nicole's babbling about Jazzercise Cool Down again. In the word of my friend Stacey, "Oy."

Maxx Factor: "Rehab"
I love it. Maxx singing an Amy Winehouse song! Love that bass. You can tell that this group has been together for awhile because their blend and balance are just spot on. I like how they kinda sounded like a train. Nicole, letting loose during the vocals would ruin the barbershop-tightness of their brand of harmony. Learn something.


Good God, I'm right, aren't I? Nota? Ugh. I fail to understand why Maxx Factor is one of the last groups on the stage 2 nights in a row. Lame-ass judges. At least they're still going to be there tomorrow.

Sorry, Noteworthy. Nice Swan Song! Your "No Happy Ending" was much better than both groups' Swan Songs last night.

Oh, we actual people get to start voting tomorrow.

SYTYCD Final Competition Night

OK, I just watched the final competitive performances from "So You Think You Can Dance", and I can't decide who should get my vote.

All 6 performers danced with each member of the opposite gender. I really liked seeing the chemistry between each couple.

I mean, Russell. He made me cry with that beautiful contemporary routine with Ashleigh. A crumper doing contemporary AND Paso Doble AND hip-hop? Amazing.

Jakob and those jetes! But nothing hit me as much as that gorgeous dance to "At This Moment" with Kathryn. I was all, like, "WOW".

Then there was the beautiful dance between married couple Ryan and Ashleigh. I cried right along with them, especially when Ashleigh, when asked how it felt, said, "It's perfect." What a joy to see them both in the finals, dancing together!

Kathryn, OMG with all the different dancing styles, especially getting down with Russell during the hip-hop routine! My goodness!

Ellenore. Is she just a pose-able doll or what? Every movement in that routine with Ryan was meticulous and well-placed.

Good luck to all of the finalists! Good luck to me trying to choose someone. I don't think it's going to happen in time for the phone polls, though.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Sing-Off Ep. 1

The Sing-Off

I know that in a recent post, I wrote that I can't watch American Idol because of lots of reasons. Well, I had a different view of The Sing-Off when I saw its previews. A cappella competitions? On TV? Oh, yeah, that's my kind of stuff!

Truth be told, it kind of makes me anxious. What if everybody hates it? What if everybody then thinks that a cappella is just stupid, and doesn't love it for the reasons I do? What if it's just a lame show? Eh, whatever. I'm just going to watch it and see how I feel about it, I guess.

So the show starts with host Nick Lachey of boy band N'SYNC. OK, he knows harmony. Judge Ben Folds. Whatever. Judge Nicole Scherzinger. What harmonies does she know? She sings lead all of the time. Apologies to my soprano friends out there, but if you sing lead all of the time, and with instruments, does that really qualify you to understand harmonies? And she's not as pretty as I thought she was. I guess she was always just sexed up with those non-clothes she wears with the Pussycat Dolls. Judge Shawn Stockman of BoyzIIMen. Yes, he knows harmony, and quite well. Heck, I think he knows Rockapella's George. So he should know stuff, right? I've heard him sing some a cappella, so OK.

Then they say that they searched all over the country for these groups. Really? I only saw ads for it on the internet. Did you actually search yourselves, NBC?

So, let's give it a shot.

I liked how they opened up with everyone singing together, kind of like the dance competition shows.

Nota, from Puerto Rico
They sang "I'm Yours" by Jason Mraz. I honestly don't know what the judges see in these guys. I didn't really like their harmonies. Interesting arrangement with the rhythm, but I heard a lot of dissonance that I didn't like.

...and I've already decided that Nicole is the Paula of this show.

Voices of Lee from Tennessee
"Unwritten" by Natasha Bedingfield. I LOVE this song, so you could do a lot of wrong to ruin it for me. I did agree that the lead was overpowered a little bit by the background, so they should work on the balance. But you see, this is the problem with bigger vocal groups. You have a soloist against all of those other people in the background, so they get kind of lost if they're not strong enough.

Face from Colorado
"Livin' On A Prayer" -- Bon Jovi I have heard of this group from a/c competitions, but hadn't actually heard them before. They rocked! I can't believe that Shawn Stockman has never heard an a/c group rock like that before. Good God, the man needs to get out more! So George goes to Rockapella, and you can't give them a damn listen? What?! I was not surprised that the other judges weren't familiar with this a cappella style, but Stockman? Sigh. Anyway, I felt that the judges were too harsh on them. There are only 6 of them, making that sound. The other groups (save Maxx Factor) have more bodies in their groups and can't rock this hard. Of COURSE they didn't have enough support in the top! There are only 6 guys, dude. If the judges could only hear Thacher (not to mention the rest of my boys), they'd keel over. Seriously.

Noteworthy from Utah
"Think" -- Aretha Franklin I've heard of this group, too, but not heard them before. I agree that it was a little bit screechy at the top, which is my usual issue with all-female a cappella groups. Heck, I had the issue when I was part of a women's choir, so it's not a catty thing.

The first group to be eliminated from these 4: Face. I was surprised about that.

Beelzebubs from Massachusetts
"Magical Mystery Tour" -- The Beatles Entertaining. Love how the judges said that they would go out of tune during the funny parts in the choreography, like "Oops. Hey! Look over there!"

Maxx Factor from Maryland
"Dancing Queen" -- ABBA Another group that I had heard of, but not heard. They were awesome! Not screechy, probably helped by the true altos. Nice sound from just 4 women singing barbershop harmonies. I really enjoyed this.

The SoCals from (duh), So Cal (alums from So Cal Vocals of USC)
"Somebody to Love" -- Queen I liked their energy. They did have a couple of intonation problems, but I still liked them. No, they're not the Glee kids, but Glee, as much as I love it, does not do a cappella, is way produced, and gets to do more than one take.

Solo from Nebraska
"Watcha Say" -- Jason Darullo Sorry, I really didn't like this group at all. Good voices, but I didn't really like the blend, such as it was.

Eliminated from this group: Solo.

I'm not really crazy about this show yet, but I'm still giving it a chance. It's only 8 episodes, so I can probably stick with the whole thing.

Here's my frustration so far: Sony is going to give a *recording contract* to one of these groups, but they pass on groups like Rockapella, The House Jacks, Tonic Sol-Fa and the like? AUGH. Of course, this is the same industry that promotes Britney Spears, so I should just shut up about actual talent, right?


Yes, I believe these groups are talented, don't get me wrong. It's just that their level, save maybe Maxx Factor, is not really up to snuff. Maybe they can groom them like Fox did with the AI contestants? Maybe? Please?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

T-Day with D'Saints 2009

This Thanksgiving, I flew out to Bro's place for the festivities. V is not really in any condition to go on a 5-hour drive and back, so Mom & Dad drove to their place earlier in the week, and I joined them all on T-Day.

What had started out as a "Let's just go easy and order from Claim Jumper" day turned into "Well, we're cooking yams anyway, so we might as well cook other stuff." If you know my Thanksgiving tradition, I do not consider it to be actually Thanksgiving if I don't have my mom's Candied Yams. Even when we order food for dinner, we still need to have the yams. The one year we didn't, we decided that it would never happen again. Dad looked at the Sweet Potato Casserole that came with the dinner, and said, "That's ugly." It was just all WRONG.

So, anyway, Bro picked me up from PHX and we arrived at the house. Mom & Dad had ordered a Honeybaked Ham and Turkey Breast, and Mom was going to make that Green Bean Casserole that was a tradition for a lot of American families, but for us it was the 1st time with this particular recipe. Mom, V and I made the yams. V was having a hard time cutting the yams until she found the right knife, and then she was jamming away on those yams. The ham and turkey came with a special cranberry sauce and a kind of chutney, and they were both tasty. Originally, I had told my parents that since they don't like pumpkin pie, they should order both pumpkin and apple from Claim Jumper. However, since they didn't get CJ at all, they decided to get a pie while they were at Costco. Have you seen the size of their pies? They are HUGIGANT. It says that they feed 20, but it looks like it could feed 50. It took up a whole shelf in Bro's fridge. So they didn't get an apple pie in addition to it. I don't know why they didn't just order from someplace like Marie Callendar's or whatever, but I wasn't about to argue. After all, they were nice enough to get the pie that V and I liked.

Dinner was yummy and pretty low-key, except for Brady being too hyper to take the family picture properly. He was actually hyper the whole time I was there. He's really missed my parents and wants to show off as much as possible.

The rest of the time that I was there, Brady schooled my parents in Bejeweled Twist on, as Bro schooled his Ate on the same game. I was determined to get to a certain level by the time I went to sleep, and I say to you that yes, it was accomplished. Fruit me, baby! On Friday, Brady wanted to play golf, as he did on Thursday. Bro wasn't feeling well, though, V was just being way pregnant and tired, and we needed to distract the boy, so I went out to play the game that I hate the most (I have issues). "Golf" for Brady is this: you place the ball on the ground, Brady hits it, then you go get it from wherever he hit it. Then you don't just hand it to the boy. You have to place it down on the ground. Even on the occasions where he gets the ball himself and drops it, you still have to pick it up and place it on the ground for him, I guess like a caddy. Yeah, it's pretty much a game of "Fetch". This would be OK if he didn't keep hitting it into some bushes. At one point, I went to get the ball, and scraped my knee on one of the bushes, which wasn't so much a bush but just the little trunk. It is still unattractive and bruised today. How long ago was Thanksgiving? But nobody came to my rescue, and I still had to keep playing with the boy. You know that I must love my nephew if I'm playing the dreaded golf, even while injured. We moved the game to the other side of the yard, and I limped for the rest of the weekend. Bro called me "Limpy". He loves me, yes he does.

Unfortunately, I couldn't stay the whole weekend because I had Mass on Saturday night, so I left on Saturday morning. I had been staying in the baby's room, and as I was getting ready to go, I thought to myself, "The next time I'm here, there's going to be a baby sleeping in that crib. Awwww...."

Until then, here's Brady, rockin' to some Old School jams. Enjoy.

Dance, Baby!

Last month, Liz was able to get tickets as seat fillers for "So You Think You Can Dance".  We went to the CBS lot, and didn't get into the show, but we were given Priority Seats for the next show that we could get to.  We ended up going to a delicious supper at Micelli's, and enjoyed hearing our server sing.  

We tried again the next week, and this time got in.  At first, we were going to be part of the crowd that was standing the whole time, but we were then moved up to the VIP seats, which are situated behind/above the judges.  Eventually, Liz was moved back down to the standing section as one of the actual ticket holders showed up.  I, however, got to sit there for the whole thing, and, since I was  in the front, was on camera A LOT whenever they showed the judges in a wide shot.  So much so that now Brady asks "Where's Tita Sherry?" whenever he sees an audience on TV.

I hadn't actually seen much of SYTYCD before, and the experience was quite interesting.  When the dancers perform, that's all they get is the one take.  Really.  The only second takes are from the judges and host Cat Deeley.  Oh, there was also a second take as they all danced as a group, but none of the actual competitions were done more than once.  The dancers are amazing.  

As many of my friends know, I can't bring myself to watch "American Idol", except for the finale.  I just don't like all of the negativity when it comes to my art, and it hurts me to see dreams crushed like that for vocalists.  I also tend to cringe a lot when I hear bad singing, and AI has plenty of that.  Since I'm not a dancer, a lack of technique doesn't affect me that much (although I know when I like someone's dancing), and the SYTYCD judges are much more constructive than the ones I've seen on AI.  I mean, at least the judges are actually *dancers*, so they can give good tips to the dancers.

So now I'm sucked in.  I've been watching every show since the taping that I went to, and I get sad with each person that leaves.  At the moment, I'm watching the earlier shows from this season on Fox Reality Channel, and I get to see the people that I'm familiar with from their first SYTYCD audition.  I also get sad when I see the ones that have been eliminated, because they really are all very good.  

I haven't voted at all, because I can't decide between the top 6, although I do favor Jakob and Russell.  I guess I could vote more than once, but I'm not motivated enough, I guess.  Maybe I will this week.

Good luck to all of the dancers.  I love qualities in all of the finalists, so this is going to be a tough decision for the fans.

So You Think You Can Dance?  Not really.  But I think I can sing. :)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Fanueil Day

Day 2
October 4, 2009

We woke up with no actual plans for the day, but figured that we'd take the Metro around town, in order to avoid parking and Helen woes. After checking out of the hotel, we placed our belongings in the car, looked for my umbrella at Rustic Kitchen (they didn't have it -- it must have been left in the cab), and asked the concierge for directions to the Metro station. We had a map, too, but somehow we still had a little bit of trouble trying to find it. Once we finally found the station, we made our way to the North End and Little Italy, where we could see the Old North Church.  This trip, of course, even sans Helen, was not without its own drama.  At one stop, we had to get off of the train because it was going out of service.  Then it seemed that ALL of the trains were going out of service at that one stop. We wondered if we'd ever get on a train to our destination.  We finally did, but it took a while.

Paul Revere and the Old North Church

The Old North Church is the site of "One if by land, two if by sea". We took pictures of Paul Revere on a horse, and listened to the tour guide talk about the church, which still holds regular church services. I liked that the pews were still in boxes, and that they had Hymnal 1982. This hymnal is what I used to sing out of when I sang with the Episcopal church several years ago. It's nice to see that some things don't change.

We visited the gift shop and I bought a rifle pen for someone as well as a book with Longfellow's "Paul Revere's Ride", and Cindy bought not one, but two containers of tea. One of them was made by the same company that made the tea that was dumped into the harbor during the Boston Tea Party. For some reason, the merchants felt the need to tell Cindy that it wasn't the ACTUAL tea that was dumped. Because that would be really old and Eeeeeewwww. How stupid did they think we were? Whatever.

While walking about town, we passed by Paul Revere's house. We would have gone inside if 1) it didn't cost anything and 2) we had time for an actual tour and 3) they would let us take pictures. Well, maybe we would have paid if they'd let us take pictures, but no, so we just took pictures of the outside. We were hungry, and looked for a place that would serve brunch, but in Little Italy, most of the restaurants were, you guessed it, ITALIAN, and they didn't seem to have brunch-y stuff on the menu.

But then we found Vinoteca di Monica.   The menu posted indicated that they had brunch items, and I wondered if they'd have French Toast, even though they were an Italian restaurant.  Well, lo and behold, they did, but when I asked the server what he recommended between my choices, he, the man with the very Italian accent, of course, chose the Italian dish, Bruschetta con Uovo e Prosciutto.  Cindy chose the Uovo Qualsiasi Stile, which was like a regular breakfast, except for the Rustic Bread that we kept finding this weekend.  Whatever.  We very much enjoyed our meals, and were able to sit by the open window and watch people go by.  That was very pleasant.

Sher at Vinoteca di Monica

Now nice and full, we ventured out again and made our way to Faneuil Hall, where many orators spoke about the British, which led to the colonies' independence.  I told Cindy that the name of the baseball stadium is called "Fenway Park" because the Bostonians just couldn't spell "Faneuil" correctly, so they simplified it.  Yeah, I made that up.  It's wrong, according to Wiki, but I like my explanation better. :)   We also did the touristy marketplace, where Cindy somehow refrained from buying a plush lobster. I didn't find anything pewter that I really wanted & could afford, which was my shopping goal there.  Oh, well.

Inside Faneuil Hall

We walked to the harbor, and it was just a really nice day to walk around and plan our next trips to Boston. :)  Cindy talked about riding the Salem to Ferry, but I think she was confused at the moment.  Perhaps the next time I come to Boston, I can have more time to do that, because I'm really interested in that part of history, too.  Boston is just a really cool place to learn about our nation's history.  If only it wasn't so far away and cold a lot of the time, I'd visit more often. That and the fact that I won't want to go during Lakers season.  Yeah, that's what I call it.  At least in Boston I do.

Pretty Day in Boston

We walked around a lot before finding the metro station where we could catch our train back to the hotel.  Luckily for us, Helen was in a good mood from her 24-hour rest, and she led us back to Logan despite a ton of road closures.  We would have been completely lost if we had followed a regular map.  So Helen ended up redeeming herself in a big, big way, and we were on time to board our flight, even having some time to get some pizza from Wolfgang Puck's to eat on the plane. 

For Cindy's view of the day, go here

Our flight home was a pleasant one.  I tried to sleep a little bit, since I needed to wake up early the next morning for yet another flight to Sacramento for business.  Cindy happily watched football on the way home.

Thanks, Cindy, for accompanying me on this trip, and for our great weekend together.  

Da Boyz in Boston, and Other Yumminess

Rockapella in Boston -- Day 1
Berklee Performance Center
Saturday, October 3, 2009

"The Faintest Ink is Mightier than the Strongest Memory"

I can't remember where on this trip I got the above quote, but isn't it lovely? It's especially poignant today as I write this trip report more than 2 months after the event actually happened.

I woke up from my comfortable bed and took my time getting ready. Cindy had kindly scheduled her flight to arrive in the afternoon at Logan, which allowed me plenty of time to drive back to Boston. I checked Cindy's flight status ( a good idea, as she was going to land earlier than originally scheduled) and pre-programmed Helen so as to minimize the screaming fits in the car. I looked outside at my not-really-beautiful view of the city of Hartford, and saw that it was raining, as per the forecast. It was a light rain, though, and I didn't have that bad of a drive back to Boston.

I stopped at a rest area for a few minutes for a pit stop and to make sure that Helen was still talking to me. She was, and once the rain calmed down a bit, I got back on the road. At one of the toll plazas, I went to the EZ Pass line, and the light said "Low Bal" for my transponder, so I didn't go through those lines again, for fear that I'd get stopped and would have to go to traffic court in Massachusetts. Helen wanted me to take some weird way that looked on the map to go straight into the bay. I decided to follow my printed instructions instead and she continued to yell at me. I got there just fine without her, thankyouverymuch. I parked in the cell phone lot and waited for Cindy's call. When she called, the two of us were confused about where she was actually standing, as I drove over to Terminal A and couldn't find her. She was APPARENTLY at a different section of the Terminal A pickup spaces. They really need to do something about that. When I finally found Cindy, I introduced her to Helen, and we made our way to the hotel. At the toll gate, the guy there happened to see Cindy's Genesis shirt and made a comment. The exchange was completely hilarious to me, not because I agree with either one of them, but because we never asked for his opinion, and Cindy was clearly miffed. It was the curse of Helen, I'm sure. You're just not allowed to be completely happy when she's in the car.

Since I had a real live navigator in the car, I wanted to stop listening to Helen, and preferred to listen to Cindy instead. She, however, had directions to the Best Western, where we originally had our reservations, and not the Radisson, where we were actually staying. Luckily for the two of us, I had the printed directions and Helen to help us. We parked the car and took our luggage in for check-in. Boston must be one of those old places that doesn't need to worry about ADA laws, because there were a couple of stairs to take to get to the front desk. No ramp. Kind of a pain, people, when we have luggage. Anyway, I realized that I hadn't brought in my ticket for the parking structure, and was advised to just bring it in later, and they gave me a pass that was good until 6pm of our check-out day. We went up to our room, and I placed my toiletries on the right side of the sink, telling Cindy that it would be my side. She was confused because she's not used to staying with people who claim sides. I just figured it was polite so that people wouldn't be all over each other's stuff. She's been married too long and shares everything with hubby, I guess. While Cindy took a shower, I decided to deal with the parking pass, since I had also left my phone in the car. I went to the structure, got to the car, and realized that I didn't have my damn car key. I mean, how did I expect to get the ticket out of the car? DUH! So I went back to the room to get the car key and properly dealt with the situation. The whole thing took about 10 minutes because it was check-in time and the elevators were full,and the parking structure elevator wasn't exactly quick. Cindy came out of the shower and wondered why it sounded like I left twice. Well, because I did. Craziness. I got in touch with Pamela, and she agreed to meet us for dinner. I had seen a sign in my multiple times to the parking elevator that advertised for Rustic Kitchen, so I figured I could offer that as a dining option. *Some* good had to come from all of that exercise to the car!

We got ready for the show and went downstairs and across the driveway to Rustic Kitchen for dinner. I had been wanting some Clam Chowder because we were in Boston, and didn't think that I'd be able to get it there since it was an Italian restaurant. They did have it on special, though, and I ordered some of that, which came with bread sticks that looked like chopsticks. I also ordered a Red Wine Sangria and a Strawberry Salad with Goat Cheese and Shrimp. All of it was quite tasty. Cindy enjoyed her Swordfish with Lobster Mashed Potatoes and Broccolini, and Pamela enjoyed her Caesar salad in Parmesan Shell with Steak. They also had the Clam Chowder, and we all agreed that it was delicious and clammy. The restaurant itself had an alcove that is the site of "The Cooking Show" that airs in Boston. We could see the kitchen and chairs for the set, and I wished that I could watch it actually happen, so I could taste the food. Cindy has a review of the restaurant here.

Cindy & Sher at Rustic Kitchen

We took a taxi to the Berklee Performance Center, and got there in time, thanks to the driver's knowledge of the city. Cindy & I were seated in the first row of seats after the break in the Orchestra section. It was really dark where we were seated, so my notes from that evening might be lost in translation, but here goes...

Tonight: Scott said that he was a player from the Red Sox. Since I don't follow baseball, I didn't know who he was talking about. There was a really long pause before the final "Tonight".

4U4Now4Life: My notes say something about a "party in (something)". Kevin went to get some water during the song. There is a new Vocal Percussion section before the "gunpowder" verse.

Scott said that the Red Sox are in the playoffs down the street, and he likes coming to Boston because of the weather. Jeff's first Rockapella concert was on the Berklee stage, and he is an alumnus of Berklee, so Jeff knew that night 15 years ago that he was doing the right thing. Awww, cool!

Scott said that JT is the Rumble Neath Fenway, as they did the roll-up for Zip. There was a little bit of extra George in there when Kevin kind of lost one of his words. That's our Kevin!

Got to Get You Into My Life: There's Ross, running around the theater, taking pictures! Hi, Ross!

Stand By Me

Use Me: Scott was hanging the microphone above him. We got the Beat in Beantown! I don't know why, but Scott hit John on the head.

Kevin then said that at this time of year, there are a lot of people from the Boston area in Florida, due to the weather. He told his story about going to Hooters on the way to the family reunion. Then he said that at the family reunion, there are people thy don't know all that well. They were talking about the trip. Kevin went to get a drink, and the girls said, "We went to Hooters!" Kevin came back to the table and the women were like, "Hooters, huh?" So it was a good trip, they had good chicken wings. Kevin said then that "at the beach, all the New England men can wear their, you know, their trousers." Trousers?! He's so funny.

Under the Boardwalk: "You can smell the Hooter's Wings and French Fries they sell..." Oh, Kevin, I'm going to miss your stories, as well as this: "You in your Speedo, oh yes, I remember it well."

Tell Me What You Want
Scott sarcastically talked about the Bostonians spending time at Berklee, the inexpensive public school..

California Sad-Eyed Girl
Scott said that they found Kevin "when he was playing Jesus, Joseph, the Baby Mary, and Tiny Tim. Did I leave anything out?"
Kevin: "Annie"
Scott: "Isn't that what you're leaving us for?"
Kevin: "They're doing the 50th anniversary with Annie."
Scott: "Broadway is nice, but with Rockapella, Hooters whenever you want. No questions asked."

Kevin said that Scott's been in Rockapella for "17? 18 years?"
Scott: "Seventy."
Kevin: "Seventy. Since the 40s."

Paper Doll: Scott said that this is "what we sounded like when we first started in the 30s."
I love the way that JT and Geo look at each other during their wicked part. Their rhythm section is like no other.

Rock the Boat: John was ON FIRE! JT, too.

Prior to becoming this original legendary a cappella group that we've become...
Jingle Medley: For Al the Weatherman, Scott blew on his pitch pipe twice...pause..."How does this song go?"

John asked us, "Do you want to hear some more music?" He asked again. "No? Good night."

My Girl: Jessica
Kevin regarding Scott: "Did he just make you touch his nipple?" (Sherry screams inside..or was that aloud?). He then riffed on Jessica's boyfriend, who was taking video. "You let him film you after 6 months?!" We don't meet people everywhere who really like Penn State, which is why we don't do this song that much."
"Oh, Jessica, smile you're on YouTube. Oh, Jessica, Jessica, Penn State Woman. That's it." -- I'm going to miss Kevin's songs.

Ain't Too Proud to Beg
Jessica patted John on the head, and then hit Scott accidentally.

Have Faith
Yay! I love that extended jam session, and hearing Kevin sing my line one last time: "You ain't makin' music when you know what note is next." (sniff!)

Geo said that he was Whitney Houston's stunt double.
Papa Was A Rolling Stone
Seriously, John was on FIRE! Even on the VP!

Where in the World is Carmen SanDiego?

Scott: "Kevin is wanted in Florida for Under Age Hooters. He's opening a Hooter's dance hall."

Zombie Jamboree
Kevin stopped as usual, and Scott was still grunting: "Grrr...grrr...grrr". He was behind Kevin at the time and asked Kev, "What's wrong, ZombieKev?"
Kevin: "Please don't make that sound when you're in back of me."
Scott: "I have so few opportunities left, I feel the truth can be said."
HILARIOUS. Even the "Back to Back" was just hysterical because of that. Probably one of the funniest Zombies EVER.

Up On The Roof/What A Wonderful World -- off mic
Scott does a great woodblock sound.

After the show, I talked to MJ and Ross, and asked him for the pics from my evening as Pretty Woman for a little project I want to do for Kevin. Does it surprise you that I could supply him with the actual date? Pamela saw my shoes, and loved them, and this is why she's my new best friend. We took some pictures of each other in the upstairs lobby while we waited for the line to diminish a bit.

Pamela lovin' my shoes

While in the line for Meet and Greet, we met Robin from Northern CA, and told her we'd see her in Malibu. Ross saw that I was taking video of Cindy requesting that Kevin sign the book that he "wrote", and took my camera from me, so that he could capture the moment for me. If you've never heard me babbling through a Meet & Greet, here's your opportunity.

Interpretation: Cindy gave Kevin the Ron Jeremy book to sign, and he remembered a little bit. Jeff was like, "You soo have to sign that!" I retold the story so they'd remember. Jeff asked me if it was worth the long trip. I said, "Of course, especially to see you on YOUR stage!" and he gave me a big hug. I then told John that he was on fire.

We somehow hailed a cab after some difficulty, and went back to the hotel. We were still too wired to sleep, so we asked the doorman for some advice on where to go. Pamela ended up having a crush on the Bostonian Russian Doorman, whom told us to try Finale, as it was only 2 blocks away.

Well, that was the best dang advice we took on this trip! Finale is appropriately open for the late hours, and we had a little time to wait and get more hungry. I ordered a 2008 Michele Chieclo Moscato D'Asti "Nivole" from Piedmont, Italy. I love Moscato, and this one was a sparkling one, which I had never tried before. It was delicious. It being a dessert wine, it went perfect with our Retro Chocolate Plate. The Milk Chocolate Banana Pyramid with cinnamon-spiced banana cream was my favorite. The Sensational S'more with Finale Graham Crackers made me not want another regular s'more again. The Peanut Butter & Jelly Truffles and Chocolate Pretzels were delightful. Then there was the Chocolate Florentine with the Malted Milk Ball Gelato: yum! We enjoyed the Mini-Whoopie Pies, which are a Bostonian thang. The Molten Chocolate Cake was, for Pamela, "orgasmic". We had also added a Boston Cream with Vanilla Gelato, which Cindy loved. I decided that I wanted to lick the Banana Chocolate Pyramid thing off of someone. Cindy guessed exactly who I was thinking of. (Well, at least one of them). :) "A good friend is one who knows who you're licking stuff off of," according to Pamela. All of the innuendo took Pamela and me into a conversation about watching Rockapella's ... pants, which took Cindy by surprise, but she didn't object to the conversation or anything. A party of 4 people sat next to us, and I tried to tell them what we ordered so that they'd stop staring, but they just kept staring. Um, lady. I'm trying to be friendly here. Cindy's review of Finale can be found here.

Anyway, we had a marvelous time. Pamela's doorman wasn't there when we returned, unfortunately. We walked her to her car and she showed us where she had changed her clothes for the evening, and bid her a safe drive home.

Finale was a perfect end to a wonderful day. Thank you to Cindy, Pamela and Rockapella for the great time. Especially for the Zombies that only y'all can be.