Wednesday, July 30, 2008
I believe there's strength in numbers, and I'm happy to be a part of Lakeland Local, which features three other writers besides me. It's flattering to be part of a talented group of writers.
So I hope you'll cruise on over to Lakeland Local and not only continue to read my posts, but those posts by Billy, Darby and Chuck as well.
Monday, July 28, 2008
Thursday, July 24, 2008
The event is slated for Friday, July 25th when gates open at 5:30 p.m. with the game starting at 7:05 p.m. at George M. Steinbrenner Field, 1 Steinbrenner Way in Tampa.
Admission to the game between the Tampa Yankees and the Dunedin Blue Jays is free to Bright House Networks customers who present their cable statement at the ticket office for admittance.
There will be lots of games and giveaways, with the grand prize being a trip to Chicago and Wrigley Field courtesy. Second prize is a $1,500 Romance Getaway Travel Voucher.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Grass Root is a vegan/raw food restaurant that started in Tampa.
Check out their Web site for more information, which I'm sure will be coming in the next couple of weeks: http://www.thegrassrootlife.com/.
Update: – I just learned that Grass Root will be in the old Petals florist building at the corner of Belmar and S. Florida Ave.
I'm sure the Dixieland neighborhood is happy at the prospect of having another restaurant, especially a trendy one like this! I think it will be a good fit.
Update to THAT update: Petals isn't going anywhere. The restaurant is going in BESIDE the Petals Florist building.
Monday, July 21, 2008
The discolored plexiglass windows in front were replaced, which makes a huge difference as you drive by. Inside, they replaced the carpet, added new two-tier display racks along a wall, replaced lighting and moved all of the clothing and children's bicycles into the back room.
The result is a more spacious floor plan.
On a side note, we see the price of everything going up these days- gasoline, food, electric bills, etc. Well, add bicycles to the list of products that are increasing in price. It could be the increased price of materials, increased demand for alternative transportation, or a combination of the two, but some bikes are increasing by about $50 as the new model years hit the sales floor.
So if you've been contemplating whether to buy a bicycle for your errand-running or workday commute, you'd better act soon if you don't want the purchase to hit your checkbook harder.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
I do not use anonymous sources, so unless you can give me your full name and age, there's no need to reply.
Here are the stories:
Cougars and Kittens
There’s a lot of it in Hollywood- younger guys with older women. Think Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher; Jennifer Anniston and John Mayer; Linda Hogan and her 19-year-old boy toy.
There's also a lot of younger women with older men. It seems that it used to be more socially acceptable for the guy to be the older of the two, but not anymore. I'm looking for those Polk County Cougars! Do you have a younger man in your life? Do you get mistaken for the grandmother or mother of your younger man? How do you deal with that? What’s the psychology behind seeking and keeping younger mates? Is it really just about the money, which is what's often assumed?
And you younger guys, I want to talk to you, too. What attracted you to your Cougar?
Guys who play video games
Are adult men who play video games long after they have wives and children total losers, or is it OK to play them? How much is too much? Is 3-4 hours a day perfectly acceptable? What do you wives think about your husbands playing video games?
I know there are women out there who refuse to even date a man who admits to playing video games. Is that a deal breaker in a relationship?
Guys: why do you play video games as adults? What are the pros/cons to it?
Younger and younger women are getting boob jobs. I need to find at least one teenager who has had a breast enhancement or an adult who had a breast enhancement as a teenager.
Also, I'd like to talk to women who've had breast augmentation in their 20s, 30s, 40s.
You better call the Polk County Extension Service now, because there's a possibility the valuable organizations and information available through the Exension Service won't survive the County Commission's budget-cutting ax. Tampa Bay's 10 has a post on their Web site about what's going on.
The Polk County Farm Bureau also has posted information on the proposal.
If the Extension Service goes away, it will take 4-H clubs, Florida Yards & Neighborhoods and Master Gardener programs with it.
I don't mean to make the BOCC out to be the bad guys here. We're in a lean budget year and the passage of Amendment One means changes have to take place. It's not good for any programs to be cut, because they're all worthy. But as a former 4-H member and a lover of the Florida Yards & Neighborhoods programs, it saddens me to know that they may go away.
If you have an opinion on these proposed budget cuts, I urge you to call and/or email your county commissioners. They need to know how the public feels about these programs.
Commissioner Bob English
Commissioner Sam Johnson
Commissioner Jack Myers
Commissioner Jean Reed
Commissioner Randy Wilkinson
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
If Floridians thought we were the only ones suffering from CSX trying to shove liability down our throats for this commuter rail project, fret no more. They're doing it in Massachusetts, too.
Downtown Lakeland Partnership Executive Director Julie Townsend recently was interviewed by the Worcester Business Journal for an article on the topic. You can read the article here.
Monday, June 23, 2008
The Publix in Ocala where my mom shopped when I was a child had one of these murals. I always associated Publix with the murals- and the S&H Green Stamp store next door.
Recently I rode my bike over to the Lakeland Wabash Publix and took pictures of the mural there. That is (obviously) where these photos came from. I decided I'd better get it done, because it dawned on me that the store had been vacant for so long, and some day, a new tenant might come along and remove the mural. While photographing various portions of the mural, I found the artist's information:
I spoke to Pati today by phone and she informed me that she glazed and fired about 200 murals for Publix stores throughout a 25-year period. Pretty amazing.
What are your thoughts on the murals? Are they a part of your childhood memories, too? Do you think they should be salvaged when Publix stores undergo remodeling or the stores get sold to other businesses?
Sunday, June 8, 2008
I won't waste a lot of words in this post. Instead, I'll just tell you that we paddled so far I thought my arms would fall off, but seeing as how I'm typing this, you can guess the arms remain intact. And I'll tell you that you would be hard pressed to find a more beautiful place to kayak in Central Florida than this pristine river. Just look at the color of the water:
These beautiful red flowers, which I believe are in the salvia family, are growing everywhere.
And of course, it wouldn't be Florida without a gator. This one's hiding pretty well:
Hopefully Tom Palmer will comment and tell us what kind of bird this is:
One of our rest stops was at the Silver River State Park canoe launch. There are THOUSANDS of minnows that hang around here. My guess is that they stay because they are fed by visitors. These minnows make beautiful shapes while swimming in schools. Below, part of the school broke off and formed a tornado of sorts:
Here's some good information if you ever decide to kayak the Silver River. I recommend parking at the Ray Wayside Park on S.R. 40, just east of the Silver Springs attraction. I'm an Ocala native, and we always called this place "the Boat Basin." So if you're in the area and get lost, you better ask for directions to the Boat Basin because a) no one will know where Ray Wayside Park is and b) why give away the fact that you're not from around here?
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
But I digress...
So Mike and I spent Saturday and Sunday at Gandy Pool, swimming laps and getting some sun. It was meant to be calming...relaxing. Instead, I left the pool Sunday with this overwhelming desire to get my tubes tied.
I heard more squalling, screaming, whining and fit-pitching- and that was just the parents. Nah, not really.
One little girl, she couldn't have been more than 3 or 4 years old- practically set off car alarms in the parking lot with her shriek. She did something wrong and her dad was holding her by the arm and walking her back to where she was supposed to be while she screamed as though she were being scalped and howled, "LET ME GO!!!"
"LET MEEEEEE GOOOOOOOOOOO!!!"
"LLLLLLLLET MEEEEEE GOOOOOO!!!"
All the while, I'm thinking, "For the love of God, let her go!"
No, actually, I was thinking, "Beat her a--!"
Is that too harsh? Well, I come from a family where if I was squalling like that for no good reason, my mama would offer to provide said reason.
Actually, I think the parents were doing a fairly decent job with this child. She was wanting to have her way, and they weren't letting her. It was a battle of the wills and the parents were determined to win. For that, I applaud them.
I also want to point out that if a stranger ever tries to grab that child, he/she will rue the day, because Little Girl had some LUNGS on her. Plus, she's got the whole "Let me GO!" routine down pretty good.
Another child, a little boy of about the same age, was standing by his family's chairs and towels, yelling, "Mommy!"
Over. And over. And over again.
Finally, in an attempt to stifle him, I asked, what's wrong?
Immediately he started crying and said, "Mommy won't come here!"
Wow. That's demanding. Did I mention I want to get my tubes tied?
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Lorrie: I prepared myself all day to watch 120 minutes of TV to get to what took all of 7 seconds to learn- David Cook is this year's American Idol.
I know, I know...I could've turned on the TV at 9:57 p.m. and seen all I needed to see, but I would've missed Jason Castro's rendition of Hallejuah again. I would've missed Amanda Overmyer singing as though she had a Rottweiler stuck in her throat. I would've missed Donna Summer's bad weave.
I will take this opportunity to explain Randy's wardrobe: he actually was running late from the Off-Broadway production of "I'm Gonna Get You, Sucka!" and didn't have time to change out of his costume before he hit the AI theater.
Chuck: I predict this column will be much shorter than that Love Guru
Lorrie: Somehow, we haven't been very successful at paring this down as the weeks progressed. Why start now?
Chuck: Jason Castro sang again. Well, it went like this, the fourth, the fifth, a minor fall, a major lift, and it was over. Hallelujah.
They spent two minutes on Ford commercial outtakes. And we thought the commercials were bad.
The final six women sang Donna Summer. We learned two things: Nothing in the American Idol contract could force Amanda Overmeyer into a dress and Brooke White dances like a prom queen whose punch has been spiked.
Donna Summer proved she works not so hard for her money by giving her mic to sYESha.
Coke spared no expense and ran a two year old commercial 17 times.
Jimmy Kimmel needs to go back to Sarah Silverman and beg her to write him new material.
David Archuleta's father wouldn't let him sing “Summer of 69.” For obvious reasons.
Lorrie: Why did they let David Hernandez, the not-so-secret-gay-male-stripper, sing the verse about "Jody got married?" He wasn't believable, BTW.
Chuck: Wow, new songs by Bryan Adams, Donna Summer, and George Michael. That's why I listen to those oldies...you know, for the new stuff.
Lorrie: I felt embarrased when the Davids sang Heaven and the David2008 sang "Now nothing can take me away from you." Dude, he totally sounded like he was singing that to DC.
A brief side-note- All these years, I've never realized that Bryan Adams had the Madonna-Gap in his teeth.
Chuck: The best moment with David Cook and ZZ Top was when Cook started the famous ZZ Top knee swing. The guys didn't join in. It's easy to break a hip at that age.
Lorrie: DC did an awesome job with the ZZ Top song. That, by far was my favorite performance of the night. I don't care that they sing some of the most sexist songs ever written, I love 'em!
Chuck: Couldn't you just picture Crosby, Stills, Nash, & White? I want to hear her sing “Tin soldiers and Nixon's coming...”
Did we really need to learn Cook prefers briefs and Archuleta boxers? I hope those Guitar Hero commercials never run again.
Lorrie: I think Daddy Dearest prefers boxers and therefore, the David2008 prefers boxers.
Chuck: Seeing the Jonas Brothers made me long for the days of Hanson. Mmmm- Bop.
Lorrie: Allow me to reveal how un-hip my husband and I are. We couldn't translate what all those screaming girls her saying when they introduced that boy band. My husband asked, "Is that Menudo?" And for a split second, I thought it might be.
Chuck: The USC Trojan Marching Band's rendition of “I Am Your Brother” is their best work since they joined Fleetwood Mac on “Tusk.”
Lorrie: I concur. Now about the fact that the producers allowed this weird little man to perform in front of this huge audience: don't they realize that when they let people like this come on the results show, and they give them a freaking marching band to back them up, they only encourage others who are straight-up, bitch-kittens crazy to show up for the auditions next year?! Oh wait. That's intentional. I get it now.
Chuck: The band you thought was Maroon 5 singing with Archuleta was actually One Republic. After it was over, it really was too late to apologize.
When they cut to Archuleta's grandfather I thought he was going to say, “Suck it Osmonds. Here we come.”
The less said about Jordin Spark's dress the better.
Lorrie: Oh, no you don't. I won't be denied my remark. Jordin went to the ugly side of her closet to get dressed tonight. Gold lamet? Puh-lease...
Chuck: Do you want to know they had that Gladys Knight and “the Pips” skit? Tropic Thunder
Lorrie: I loved that skit. Jack Black can just stand there and blink his eyes and have me howling.
Chuck: When did sweet farm girl Carrie Underwood become Tammy Wynette?
Lorrie: Few of you viewers know this, but Carrie Underwood actually was going to dive off the balcony with that parachute that was attached to her sleeves, but she chickened out at the last minute. On another note, did that girl sport some rockin' legs last night, or what?!
Chuck: While the women sang “Faith” all their microphones cut out except for one. I think it was a backup singer. Amanda didn't even bother holding the mic to her mouth.
Lorrie: Amanda Overmyer's voice sticks out as horribly as her hair in this crowd of finalists. They should have just given her some money to stay home from the tour. Everyone else just makes her sound like utter garbage.
Chuck: Paula cried while George Michael sang. She remembered when they used to be popular.
OK, it's time to announce I was shocked, shocked! For weeks Lorrie pushes for the David2008 robot and at the last minute votes for David Cook? It had to be millions of people like her switching at the last minute that made the difference.
Lorrie: I feel kind of bad about my sudden presto-switcho-chango. Now poor Li'l David is gonna be on restriction when he goes home for losing. I can hear Daddy Dearest now: "Second place is the first loser!"
Chuck: I loved how Cook's tears barely contained his muttering, “They own me. They own me!”
I've really enjoyed writing these columns with Lorrie. Still, I'm looking forward to simply watching true talent on TV: So You Thing You Can Dance? starts next week!
Lorrie: Well, Chuck, I'm shocked at the results and bordering on weepy, because we've come all this way and now our dueling blogging has come to an end. What say we blog about Wheel of Fortune next week, for old time's sake?
In my opinion, there are few people outside of government officials who appear to be as well-versed on this issue as Julie. If you have any opinion on the CSX issue, you owe it to yourself to read her post, titled CSX Q&A in The Ledger.
Remember, the CSX project is not a done deal. Right now, we all have a bit of breathing room in which additional informaton can be gathered and perhaps Lakeland's voice can finally be heard on the same level as the voices in Orlando and Winter Haven.
A consistent, solid, middle of the road performer doesn't embody “American Idol.”
David Cook also should not win American Idol. He took a dive. A smart dive.
What's a poor public to do?
I can tell you what will happen. David Archuleta will win and his first album will sell well, and in three years he'll sing at the end of an AI finale while behind him the producers show video of that season's losers.
Lorrie: Don't forget the part where David Archuleta eventually will rival Britney Spears with his nervous breakdown. The only thing that will keep him from stealing her Crazy Crown will be the fact that he refuses to marry K-Fed.
Chuck: David Cook will have a solid, though not high-profile, career as a singer.
Let's get ready to.....grumble....
Lorrie: I would like to let the readers know that I concur with Chuck's prediction that David Archuleta will win, despite the fact that for the first time this season, I voted. For David Cook. 117 times.
Ryan started off the evening as star of The Captain Obvious Show by asking Randy, "What's it gonna take to win this competition?"
Uhhhhh, duh, Ryan...more votes than the other guy.
• Round One or Clive Davis Picks Songs to Make You Wince
Chuck: The first good news for the David2008...four hours of voting. His fans have much more stamina.
The first bad news for the David2008? His comment that “I'll keep on doing what I've been doing.” Duh. You're Johnny One-Note. What else can you do?
Simon's advice is to hate your opponent. Both Davids immediately ignore Simon's advice.
Lorrie: That's an understatement. Did you notice how the Davids did everything short of having a smoochfest on stage?
Chuck: David Cook led with “I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For.” The bad news..he wasn't as good as Bono. The good news? He wasn't as bad as Sonny Bono.
Lorrie: U2's Joshua Tree was among the first albums I bought as a teenager, so I've always liked this song. I loved what DC did with this song. You still knew what he was singing, but if you're familiar with it, you could pick out the areas where he changed things up a bit.
This guy has got IT. A Class A performance.
Chuck: Randy Jackson thinks it is 2007.
Lorrie: I'm glad you caught that, too. I thought I was going crazy.
Chuck: Paula thinks it is 1987. Simon thought it was phenomenal.
Lorrie: Someone needs to tell Paula that her writer is NOT on her side. First performance of the evening, and Paula was off to the races with her cheesy-ass comments, telling DC, "You may not have found what you're looking for, but we have."
Hee haw. That's good stuff.
Chuck: David Archuleta sang “Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me.” He was more animated than ever this season. He took the song down gospel lane. He still couldn't leave his eyes open.
Lorrie: A great choice for Li'l David. Heavy-breathing, lip-licking DA did a good job on this song tonight. This is certainly his style of music. And Chuck, DA can't help that he has squinty little eyes!
Chuck: Randy thought it was flawless. Paula was never heard as Randy kept muttering “Crazy” as she spoke. Simon told him it was the best he'd done so far.
Lorrie: Actually, Paula was heard muttering her lame one-liner: "The sun is never gonna go down on you, David."
Come on! You couldn't see these things coming any better if there was an air traffic controller onstage guiding them into the microphone.
Did you get a load of DA mouthing "Oh My Gosh.." after Simon's comments? He wasn't surprised by Simon's comment. As the camera panned away, there was relief on his face as he whispered "Daddy's not gonna beat me tonight!"
Finally, can I just ask you, Chuck? What's up with the boxing references? I'm going to have to declare a personal moratorium on use of the word LAME in this post.
• The New Song Contest Contestant Choice or “All the songs sucked and we didn't want to pick one.”
Chuck: David Cook picked Dream Big, a song that uses his voice, wasn't repetitive, and had a rocker vibe. In other words, a stupid song choice.
With the New Song all that matters is that it repeats the chorus five times and sounds upbeat.
Lorrie: The New Song also has to be hokey as all get-out. Don't forget that requirement!
Chuck: Randy thought Cook sang his face off. Paula started talking and I drifted off.
Lorrie: Allow me to fill you in on Paula's comment. Paula started to say, "David, I hope your dreaming big because..." Then she was interrupted by Simon, who wrapped his fingers around her neck in an attempt to choke her to sleep and end my misery.
Chuck: Simon said the song was a lightweight. It was. That's why David Cook picked it. Winning AI would be poison for his career. He had a choice: win and be stuck in a contract that would strangle him, or get second and have the freedom to make the album he wants to make.
David Archuleta sang “In This Moment” As he sang I wrote, “In this moment I need five shots of tequila.” I fear it wouldn't have been enough.
Lorrie: That's funny, Paula said the same thing!
Chuck: But it was the perfect song for the show. It was repetitive. He sang the same thing over and over. If you missed it, he sang it again. In other words, he sang exactly what an audience wants out of the new song.
Randy loved it. He worked with Journey. Need I write more? Paula said something. I saw her lips move. Simon loved the egotistical lyric.
Lorrie: My only note from this song was that to me, poor, poor Li'l David looked simply dazed...stunned...bordering on paralysis.
Chuck: Round two was to David2008. He obviously was, as Randy loved to say, “In it to win it.”
• the Final Round or When David Cook Guaranteed He'd Lose.
Chuck: David Cook didn't pick a song he knew the audience had loved. He spent two minutes displaying the kind of music fans can expect to see on his album. Please note that people who vote on AI rarely buy the albums.
In case you wondered about the lyrics for Cook's song, I'll sum it up: a disillusioned man considers suicide. Known in film circles as “The Feel Good Hit of the Year!!' Known on AI as Second Place.
At the end David Cook cried. Paula cried. People who had bet on Cook cried.
Simon suggested David should have sung “Billy Jean” or “Hello.” Cook responded, “Why? To win and get stuck with that oppressive contract? You're crazy.”
Really. He said that. Check your DVR.
Lorrie: I've enjoyed how DC continued to push himself and take chances, while DA lames out with a stunning- but repeat- performance of Imagine.
Paula, the bouncy bobble-headed doll, jumped out of her seat at the end of the song. Surprise.
DC tried to lasso in a few more votes by shedding a couple of tears.
Paula told DC, "You're standing in your truth." Paula! WTF!!!
After Simon's suggestion that he should have sung Billie Jean or Hello, DC stood up for himself and said for him, this season has been about progression...why should he do a song he's already done?
Kudos to DC, but I hope he was watching his back after the show, because Daddy Dearest Archuleta probably tried to jump him for that comment.
Chuck: David Archuleta sang “Imagine.” Now, I love Imagine. My license plate says “Dreamer.” And John Lennon never wrote “Take my hand and join us.” I closed my eyes and imagined I'd never again have to hear Archuleta sing.
Randy crowned David2008 as the winner. Paula was thankfully left speechless, and Simon called it a “knockout.”
I'd have to agree. But it was a Technical Knock Out as Cook threw in the towel. Since the audience will vote on the performances of the finale, and not the whole season, they'll vote David Archuleta as the winner.
Even David Cook wanted that. Check the tape. When Ryan mentions tuning in Wednesday night to see who won, Cook stands back and points to Archuleta.
Lorrie: Tune in tonight for the results show!
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Lorrie: Well, let me share this, then- sYESha is at the courthouse today changing her name to...you see this one coming...sNOsha. I wish we could take pride in our accurate prediction, but this was like shooting fish in a barrel, y'all.
Chuck: Seriously, after all these weeks it's down to two.
Tuesday's show almost put me to sleep. Then I had to spend an hour Wednesday watching the same scenes three times: contestant goes to home town, politician tries to get camera time, contestant sees lots of kids at mall and cries.
I cry myself when I see that many people at Brandon mall. Of course, Christmas always makes me emotional.
Let's see....Fantasia sang. Well, whatever it is she does.
Lorrie: Again- shooting fish in a barrel- but what the heck was up with Fantasia? First of all, she looked like a match stick (a thick matchstick) with that day-glow red hair.
Then there was the dancing...I swear, she looked like an African tribeswoman with some of those moves. And, she had Black Gilligan up in the balcony accompanying her. I expected to see Reuben Studdard walk out at any second dressed like The Skipper.
Chuck: Then we had to watch the "you're going home" tape for each contestant.
Did you notice that the tape of David Cook showed him in line with his brother? In line, Cook has normal hair, but by the time he gets to sing for the judges he has some red dye on his forelock.
Lorrie: I missed that. I must've been knee-deep in a yawn at that point.
Chuck: I love how sYESha dropped her smile and happy attitude like a guillotine when Ryan said she was going home.
Lorrie: That's because she was fuming over how her dad tried to steal the spotlight while she was home by telling America about how his baby girl's voice keeps him from going back to drugs and alcohol.
Chuck: Next week it's David and David. Welcome to the Boomtown.
Points if you get that reference.
Lorrie: Dang it. No points for me.
Chuck: I'm going to spend this weekend watching Marx Brothers movies to get my funny back.
You can't fool me. There's no such thing as sanity clause.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Last night we learned that Randy is a belt and suspenders kind of guy. Paula's new writer doesn't really care for anyone, and Simon is, wait for it, the only person on the show who believes in its premise.
Lorrie: Remember earlier in the season, when we were happy and carefree...cracking jokes and getting a cheap laugh here and there? Well, gentle readers, after last night, I feel like I'm just ready for this ride to be over.
Here we are in Top Three Land and I wasn't blown away by any performances last night. To be sure, I agree with Simon that David Cook won the evening. I still think he will win the show.
Ho hum...on with the review:
• The Judges Pick
Chuck: We learned retired major league baseball star Rollie Fingers is the mayor of Who Really Cares, Utah, David A's hometown. He's the only contestant not to get his judge-picked song by text message. I'm assuming his father won't let him read.
Lorrie: Chuck, only good boys get cell phones with texting capability. Little David has not been a good boy lately, according to Daddy Dearest.
Chuck: Paula picked Billy Joel's least remembered song. Appropriately enough, I don't remember David A's performance. My notes simply say, “He bends over in pain and the audience mistakes that for emotion. They clap.”
Lorrie: Be happy, Chuck...I will say, for the first time this season, I thought this performance was B-O-R-I-N-G. And as usual, Simon was the only one to speak any truth into the situation with his comment that the performance was "predictable," "good," but not "great."
Chuck: Randy Jackson also said David A's performance was predictable.
Speaking of predictable, Jackson picked If I Ain't Got You by Alicia Keys for sYESha. In a bold move, sYESha played a tape of Key's singing the song and lip synced. Jackson said it was HAWT!
Lorrie: I agree. There was not one element to this song to differentiate it from Alicia Keys' version- accept that it was performed by a lesser vocalist than Alicia. Here's the deal: I get it- sYESha is a very good singer, and apparently a decent actress. But once again, if you're gonna try to out-Alicia Alicia, you better brang it. And, once again, sYESha just couldn't deliver that tall order.
Chuck: It's difficult to do a song that's so identifiable with the artist, Paula said. Simon was right that she didn't change it up enough to make it different.
David Cook was thrown a curveball when Simon picked “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” by Roberta Flack for the rocker to sing. At least Cowell was trying to get his singer to show the range of his talent.
Lorrie: This is an amazing song and I agree with Simon that it is one of the great songs of all-time. So why does Simon give David Cook an old standard like this, yet dog on sYESha for choosing to sing another old standard- "Fever?" (We'll discuss this later, Y'all. Hang tight)
The answer is simple. David Cook is capable of taking a song that many, many people know and love, and making it fresh. Different. Shiny. New. He can show some originality.
Note to the other contestants- you can't show what you don't have.
Chuck: Simon was right..Cook was the best of that round.
Lorrie: I didn't write Randy's snide comment to David in my notes. However, I wrote this: Randy, shut up. A-hole.
• The Contestants' Pick
Chuck: Since David A.'s father wasn't allowed backstage Archuleta the Younger was forced to read smoke signals his father sent from a burning car on the LA Freeway. Unfortunately, the smoke signal was partially lost in the haze and the young son only caught part of the title “I Only Want to be With You.” Instead of Dusty Springfield, Archuleta sang Chris Brown's “With You.”
I wasn't with him. David One Note will be in the final...and the 14-year-old girls might even vote him the American Idol. If so and he hits the road with his dad, he'll have a life of Amy Winehouse proportion. Not a career. A life.
I won't say he sounded like an Osmond singing Snoop Dogg, but David A learned he should run away from any song that includes the lyric “I need you, Boo.”
Lorrie: There's just something that makes me want to guffaw when I hear David sing anything about "my boo" in a song. He's the whitest white boy around.
Speaking of racist stereotyping, what up, Randy?! He said hearing David sing about "my boo" wasn't believable. How so? David could have a "boo." If his daddy said it was OK, he most certainly could have a "boo."
Chuck: In order to prove she is a hip contestant, sYESha picked Fever by Peggy Lee – a song familiar only to those who need a hip replacement.
Lorrie: Easy... I knew that song.
Chuck: My wife's sole comment on the night: Why couldn't she find a bra that fit that dress?
Lorrie: Here's my sole comment for this performance. What is with sYESha's faux southern accent prior to performing?? It was irritating the crap outta me. And giving me the vapors.
Randy didn't like the performance. Paula was surprised she picked this song and wasn't sure it showed "who sYESha is as an artist." Simon thought she would later regret the choice, because she chose not to prove she's a contemporary artist.
I have news, judges. It doesn't matter what song she chose, Ol' Girl is headed home tonight.
Chuck: David C. sang Switchfoot's song “Dare You to Move.” I dare you to remember the lyrics to that song.
Lorrie: He sounded like he was screaming through parts of this song.
Chuck: This round proved that none of the final three should be allowed to pick their own songs.
• The Producers Pick
Chuck: This is always the segment where the producers attempt to sabotage all except their chosen Idol.
David A. is forced at gunpoint to sing Dan Fogelberg's Longer. I'm just glad Fogelberg didn't live long enough to hear a child sing “Though the binding cracks and the pages start to yellow.” The kid hasn't been alive long enough for Cheetos to spoil, let alone to see pages yellow.
Lorrie: I lost my fascination in Li'l David tonight. I predict this boy is going to have a complete meltdown before he's 21.
Chuck: It's obvious where the producers believe sYESha's talent lies. They gave her a song used in a Wheat Thins commercial. She would have been better off singing Fever again. After all, her hip replacement fans would have forgotten she had already screeched her way through the song.
Lorrie: Eh. It was a'ight.
More surprising than the song was glassy-eyed Paula telling sYESha she doesn't know if it was going to be good enough to get into the finals. Paula isn't supposed to speak the truth! She's supposed to tell contestants what a great job the Glam Squad did with the contestants' hair and makeup each night!
Chuck: David C. sang “I Don't Want to Miss A Thing.” Penned by Diane Warren originally for Celine Dion, and made popular by Aerosmith as the feel good hit from the soundtrack for Armageddon.
At least he tried to mix it up a little.
Lorrie: I thought it was good, but I wasn't blown away. Diane Warren wasn't wretching while he sang it, so I consider that a ringing endorsement.
Who's going home?
Chuck: sYESha and it has nothing to do with talent. She just didn't come across as “warm” when she needed to be.
Lorrie: sYESha, pack those bags!
Friday, May 9, 2008
While riding bikes with my husband Saturday afternoon, I had one of my moments. At Lake Hollingsworth. Where, like, 75,368 people walk, jog, skate, drive, etc. per day. Only this day, I'm sure that number was even larger, because I tend to command quite the audience when I mess up.
We were headed downhill on one of those streets between Lake Morton and Lake Hollingsworth. On the downhill headed to Lake Hollingsworth, I realize (too late) that I'm going too fast to make the sharp left-hand turn to get on the bike path.
I hit both my brakes to get things under control again. That did NOT "get things under control." It made my back tire come off the ground and for a nanosecond, I was balancing on my front tire.
Suddenly, my bike had this apparent flash of reality. If bikes could think, I imagine mine was thinking, "Hold up! I'm not a unicycle!"
And at that point, it decided to fling itself onto its side.
I determined I wasn't going down without a fight. I had this Carey Hart moment, where I thought I could ride this thing out. You know, take second, lean back, get the back tire to love Mother Earth once again.
Instead, I went all Cirque de Soleil on the situation- minus the graceful landing. After some weird contortions, I realized there was no getting out of a complete wipe-out. So I surrendered the handle bars, threw out my hands and landed on my hands and knees- all while remaining precariously wrapped around my bike in pretzel fashion. I lost a shoe, scraped my pride and bruised myself pretty darn good. One bruise is shaped like a baby's foot, minus the toes:
Thursday, May 8, 2008
I need another rinse to get off the soap.
• Paula made sYESha cry by being in tune with her feelings. How saccharin.
• In his short review segment David A again proved the A doesn't stand for Articulate. Lorrie, why don't they end the farce and just let him wear a headset so dad can tell him what to say?
• Listening to the final four sing "Reelin' In the Years" it was painfully obvious David Cook was the best singer of the bunch.
• And that sYESha was second best.
• And that David A has only one dance "move."
• And Jason has none.
• Iron Man is a pretty good movie.
• We learned that a million votes separated first from second, and another million between second and third. That means David Cook had only two million more votes that sYESha. That will make next week's vote very important for David A.
• I fear his dad will rush the stage when David A is voted off.
• Jason was disinterested in performing his swan song. Even the director let it peter out.
• Bo Bice looked back in form after his illness. I'm guessing he did. I had forgotten what he sounded like. Wait, come to think of it. I have already forgotten again.
• Unfortunately, I remember the questions were stupid. No, first kiss questions for Simon. Could we have them line up whoever gave Paula her first drink, and Randy his first opportunity to say "When I worked with...." I am so sure those questions would be interesting.
• Maroon Five is still around?
• Next week they sing three songs each. sYESha will sing "Tomorrow," "Bye, Bye, Birdie" and "The Worst Pies In London." David A is going to sing "Midnight in the Oasis," "Escape (the Pina Colada Song), and "Sexual Healing." David C is going to do a bluegrass version of "Purple Haze," "Black Hole Sun" on kazoo, and an acid rock version of "Puff the Magic Dragon."
See you there.
Lorrie: Wow...no way could I break up those bullets. Great stuff! So here's my two cents tacked onto the end.
I really dislike the choreography the singers have to do on results night. I'll just say a big "ditto" to all of Chuck's related bullets above.
As cute and sweet as David Archuletta is, the whole "Golly, gee, shucks, Ma'am" routine is gettin' on my last nerve. And why is it that when I hear him speak, Kermit the Frog comes to mind?
"Hi ho...David Archuleta here..."
Even my mama, who doesn't watch American Idol, could have predicted that both the Davids would be safe.
Now, can we please talk about the Ford music videos? Let's say it all together, boys and girls:
The Ring of Fire was the worst yet. Why is this fiasco necessary each week?
During lame question time, Jason Castro finally 'fessed up to the dope use- his biggest challenge to overcome was his "brain being dead."
And now we get to guest performances...Maroon 5, it was a'ight.
Bo Bice- here's a little lesson in rock-n-roll, boys and girls. Any time you see one musician in front of two mics...fear the vocoder. Unless it's Peter Frampton in front of said mics. Then, thou shalt rejoice for the vocoder.
Twice in one season with the vocoder. First from a contestant, now from a former contestant. I ask y'all again: could this season get any stranger?!
The most un-shocking revelation of the night. Jason goes home.
Yeehaw! See ya next week!
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
In the opening tease Ryan Seacrest informed everyone that at some point in the competition three of the remaining four had received the most votes. I'll go out on a limb and claim sYESha is the one never to accomplish that feat.
After last night, one of the contestants may be the first in Idol history to get a negative number of votes, as people called in to ask for their previous votes back.
Never so late in the competition has the Idol audience witnessed such a horrible performance as they did last night. It's almost as though someone tanked on purpose.
Ladies and Gentlemen, it's American...Conspiracy Theory!
If you watched last night, you know exactly who I mean. And if you didn't...stay with me a minute. Let's look at the final four and their performances. First off, the robot...
• David A: Stand By Me and Love Me Tender
Come on. If anyone at this point doesn't think that poor kid is programmed, you're not watching with your eyes. We all love little lost puppies, but this is ridiculous. I challenge you to watch a tape of David singing Stand By Me with the sound off. Watch the same robot moves, the same facial expressions, as he has given in almost every performance. With the sound on you'll hear the same earnest delivery, the same vocal gymnastics as he gives every week. David A can sing one kind of song, one kind of way. With 500 songs to choose from, he performed the same one twice last night. He just changed the lyrics.
Lorrie: Chuck, say what you will about David, but I don't see him as the "Johnny One Note" you make him out to be. There are lots of singers out there who have a singular style and continue to be popular. Don't believe me? Allow me to provide examples. John Secada. Michael Bolton. Enrique Iglesias.
This boy has carved out a distinct style. There's something about the way he sings that is identifiable. I'm convinced we could hear him on the radio and right away, we'd know it was him singing.
Now...don't take this the wrong way, but if you don't stop putting down my sweet little David...I'm going to punch you in the nose.
• David C: Hungry Like the Wolf and Baba O'Riley
Chuck: Last night David Cook gave me one of my favorite moments in any Idol season ever. But first I have to ask, "Hungry Like the Wolf? WTF?"
Hearing David pace the stage singing "Do, do, do, do, do, to, do, to, do do" was cringe-worthy at best. Bruce Campbell did a better job with the song.
Lorrie: Good song- when Duran Duran does it- but I didn't hear anything particularly special in it tonight. David's "I-just-swallowed-barbed-wire" rasp in his voice didn't work with this song.
But even though this wasn't an Idol-worthy performance, I have to give David props for evoking the cheeseball comment of the night from- shocker- Paula.
"Your hungry like the wolf rendition leaves me with a big appetite."
Uh, that was my first WTF moment of the night.
Chuck: It was David C's second performance that gave me my favorite Idol moment. In his pre-performance tape he announced he was going to sing the Who's Baba O'Riley.
As the camera went to him live the audience sat in stunned silence. You could practically hear 5,000 minds thinking, "The Who's What???"
Then he sang "Out Here in the Fields" and the cool members of the audience went "Oh!!! That one!" But the majority of the audience still didn't get what song he was singing until the lyric "It's only teenage wasteland!"
That stunned silence was priceless.
Lorrie: It's a beautiful thing when, five words into this song, I had goose bumps and I knew this performance would be great. What an awesome version of a classic rock song.
And thanks again to David, for ushering in the second WTF moment of the night, again with a Paula comment:
"I'm really humbled to sit here and watch your soul."
• sYESha – Proud Mary and A Change is Gonna Come
Chuck: Each week the judges dun contestants for giving copy-cat performances. You'd get the impression it was worse than flubbing a line. Except last night when Randy and Paula ignored that sYESha had just given a poor Tina Turner impersonation. Simon called it a "bad shrieky"
impersonation. I have to agree with Simon.
Lorrie: sYESha has fallen victim to taking the judges' comments too literally. Since she has been told about how sexy she loooks and how she could be on Broadway, she has become intentional in her song selection by choosing songs that practically require some acting and choreography. Now she's looking for a dramatic flare to everything.
But let me tell you sister- if you're gonna attempt to out-Tina Tina, you had better brang it. And you didn't.
BTW y'all, I did not even have to look at the TV to know that Paula would be out of her seat on this performance. She's like the trusty bobble-head doll. Give her a little tap, and she's bobbin' and weavin' like a drunkard. Wait, I think she is a drunkard...did I just type that out loud?!
Chuck: In her follow up, sYESha went for her Fantasia "Summertime" moment. That's the point in American Idol where Paula is so overcome with emotion that she can't speak and merely stands and claps. She made it, but failed to convince Randy.
Lorrie: I like this song, and I think sYESha has a decent voice, but it just seems that when she sings soulful songs such as this, something's missing. I think it's conviction.
On another note, that girl's lipgloss was poppin' last night.
Paula's comment brought sYESha to tears. Could this show get any stranger? Don't be sad, sYESha. Her comments brings me to tears weekly.
Chuck: Any other week, that would have meant a bot for sYESha, but not when you take into account the "song stylings" of Jason Castro.
• Jason: I Shot the Sherrif and Mr. Tambourine Man
I'll start right out and claim Jason's two performances last night were two of the worst for this season of American Idol. There is only one reason he did that poorly. Jason took a dive. You could see his face as he performed the first song, "This is where I do Howdy Doody sings Bob Marley." And he nailed it.
Lorrie: Oh. My. Lord. That was a funny comment. This performance was painful to watch. First of all, could we be anymore predictable? I get it...Jason Castro...dreads...Bob Marley...dreads. Simon was spot-on when he said the only similarity was the hair.
Chuck: He took all the criticism with a smile as if he was thinking, "I'm four spots past where I should have been. I have a ton on money on my going out this week. This is where Daughtry left. Ah, hell, I just don't care dude."
Then, in his final performance, he forgot one of the easiest Bob Dylan lines to remember. I'll remind you: "In the jingle, jangle morning, I'll come following you." You could see the wheels turning, "That'll seal the deal. I am so out of here!"
Lorrie: I realize this may end our friendship, Chuck, but I hate -HATE- Mr. Tambourine Man. It's hokey and corny and for those two reasons alone, I rejoiced at the idea of Jason Castro singing this song. I wondered, "could this be his ticket home? Finally?!" And yes! My hunch was correct!
Chuck: It seems I've agreed more often than not with Simon this year. I'm going to again. When Simon told Jason to pack his bags, you could almost hear Castro think, "Mission Accomplished."
Lorrie: I think you give Jason the Burn-Out way too much credit for being that methodical in his thinking.
I predict Jason's next performance will be in his own living room. He's outta there. And sYESha, you're next, Sweetie!
Thursday, May 1, 2008
Pretty amazing grace is what you showed me
Pretty amazing grace is who you are
I was an empty vessel
You filled me up inside
And with amazing grace
Restored my pride.
Pretty amazing grace is how you saved me
And with amazing grace, reclaimed my heart
Love in the midst of chaos
Calm in the heat of war
Showed with amazing grace
What love was for.
You forgave my insensitivity
And my attempt to then mislead you
You stood beside a wretch like me
And pretty amazing grace was all I needed.
Stumbled inside the doorway of your chapel
Humbled and awed by everything I found
Beauty and love surround me
Freed me from what I feared
Asked for amazing grace
And you a appeared.
You overcame my loss of hope and faith
Gave me a truth I could believe in
You led me to a higher place
Showed your amazing grace
When grace was what I needed.
Look in a mirror I see your refection
Open a book you live on every page
I fall and you're there to lift me
You share every road I climb
And with amazing grace
You ease my mind.
I came to you with empty pockets first
When I returned I was a rich man
Didn't believe love could quench my thirst
But with amazing grace, you showed me that it can.
In your amazing grace I had a vision
From that amazing place, I came to be
Into the night I wandered, wandering aimlessly
Found your amazing grace to comfort me.
You overcame my loss of hope and faith
Gave me a truth I could believe in
You led me to that higher place
Showed me that love, and truth, and hope, and grace
Were all I needed.
• Seven million extra votes. Neil Diamond has that many fans awake that late?
• Cracklin' Rose with Jason Castro. Dude, alcohol is a depressant.
• Brooke and sYESha sing Song Blue. Well, sYESha forgot to come in.
• Both Davids sing Brother Love better than they did their songs last night.
• My wife: "Jason is cracking up again. Who gave that boy drugs?"
Lorrie: It appeared the group performance of the night had the choreographers pulling from the pages of The Brady Bunch's "Keep On Dancin'" routine. Fo' shizzle! Other than that, the group songs sounded like a (CSX) train wreck tonight. It was gruesome to watch. Yet I did it anyway.
Back to Chuck and his bullets:
• In a break from tradition, the recap doesn't show a mishap - Paula's this time.
• Ryan mentions it and adds, "The rumors are not true, she is part of our family and we love her."
• Jason didn't know any of the songs he sang. I'm shocked!
• Brooke says she reached her happy mode last night. That's code for she broke into Jason's stash.
• Natasha Bedingfield performed. I have an urge to listen to Dusty Springfield.
• Questions again?! At least we get a question that trips up Simon.
• The Ford video is "Green-inspired." Boring. My wife: "low energy indeed."
• Neil Diamond sings "Pretty Amazing Grace." You'll never hear that one on bagpipes.
Lorrie: Or on kazoo.
Back to you and the bullets, Chuck!
• No one sits close the David 2000. Robot haters.
• Brooke starts crying before Ryan reads the results. She gets the results and proceeds to butcher I Am I Said. This whole last song thing is silly.
• Next week is Rock and Roll night. sYESha will sing a Broadway tune, David C will sing a rock version of "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot."
The David 2000 performs Mr. Roboto, and Jason will "change up" the Muppet Show theme into a funeral dirge.
Lorrie: I think Jason resembles Janice from the Muppets. You decide.
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
The Earth began to cool,
The autotrophs began to drool,
Neanderthals developed tools,
We built a wall (we built the pyramids), Math, science, history, unravelling the mysteries, That all started with the big bang!
I get the first word, and my first word is....watch The Big Bang Theory. Thirty minutes of finely crafted, intelligent humor in the Dick van Dyke Show vein.
That said, I'd like to congratulate Lorrie for accurately predicting that sYESha would sing Thank the Lord for the Night Time. And she also predicted three other of the 10 songs sung. Blue, I mixed up David A. & Brooke, who switched the songs I predicted for them.
I figure you've watched the episode or you wouldn't suffer through my half of the column. So, I won't recap the whole hour. Instead, I'll simply ask:
Paula was critiquing songs that hadn't been sung. I'm not saying that in the manner of "Wow, she was so out of it she heard that song differently than I did."
No, I mean she was offering her opinion on songs yet to be performed.
Lorrie: Thank you for saying it first, Chuck! Paula poked her drowsy head out of the pill bottle long enough last night to confirm that she is, in fact smoking, snorting, shooting up whatever she can get her hands on.
Chuck: And later she called sYESha "Brooke."
Cut to the pictures:
Yeah, I can see how Paula Livingston Seagull messed that up.
Next week on American Idol: Intervention!
Lorrie: Or, Celebrity Rehab!
Chuck: Let's look at the final five:
Jason- "Forever in Blue Jeans" and "September Morn"
Simon hated them both, and for good reason. Castro brought nothing new to the table. As Gertrude Stein once wrote, "There is no there there."
He's pleasant enough, but he's lost his way. That said, "Forever in Blue Jeans" was better than "September Borin'"
Lorrie: It makes me feel physcally ill to say this, but I think thought "Forever in Blue Jeans" was a very good song for him.
But "September Morn?" Not so much. Very "Bill-Murray-In-The-Airport-Lounge" on SNL.
Chuck: David C: "I'm Alive" and "All I Really Need is You"
Yet again the smartest performer of the night, Cook sang a pair of songs you've never heard.
When Diamond heard Cook practice them, the Solitary Man said to the producers, "I thought they had to sing one of my songs?"
Cook had to prove to Diamond that he'd written the song by pulling out a copy of Heartlight.
Diamond called his manager and was heard to say, "I ordered all those albums burned! BURNED!"
Lorrie: Both songs were very "Our Lade Peace." Which works for him. Clearly.
Chuck: Brooke "I'm a Believer" and "I Am I Said"
Well, I am not a believer. I would leave her. Oh I've tried, because I thought final three was more or less a given thing. But the more she sang, the less I got. What's the use of continuing, all she'll get is pain. She was sunshine. Now all she is is rain.
There's not a trace of doubt in my mind, she's bottom two.
Bottom two I said. Is no one there? No one at all?
Lorrie: I love how Brooke pulled out her "Juice Newton sings Neil Diamond's song that was done best by The Monkees." Seriously, people...could she have looked any more like Juice last night? It's uncanny!
I seriously did not like this performance. It was like a "Kumbaya" version of this song.
A flash of redemption came with her second performance, but sadly, I must agree with Chuck that she is bringing up the rear on the results show tonight.
Chuck: David A. " Sweet Caroline" and "America "
Not even a chair could hold audience members when they heard the AIBot 2000 sing "Sweet Caroline." Evidently, they were all Red Sox fans.
Editor's note: For the non-baseball fans, the Boston Red Sox play Sweet Caroline during the seventh inning stretch. For comedy fans: it's a bad sign when you explain your jokes. For editor's note fans: you're welcome.
On the boats, and on the planes. That's where I wish I'd been when David sang America. The song was a Cheese Fest in the Mall of America when it was in The Jazz Singer. Years later it's still less beautiful than noise.
Lorrie: Wow...you'd think that my sweet little David A. peed in your cereal bowl. The attacks are getting harsher, you know. And Stage Daddy doesn't like when people dis his little cash cow. You better watch your back, Chuck.
With that said, I'll now take this moment to throw my husband under the bus with you and print his comment regarding David A. last night: "It would just tear me up to have to sit and listen to a whole CD of his songs."
I think David pulled out the Kristie Lee patriot card on his performance of "America." And the stunt didn't go unnoticed by Simon.
Chuck: sYESha -- "Hello Again" and "Thank the Lord for the Night Time"
Maybe I'm crazy. I'm sure I'll get some blame. But I'm putting my heart above my head and I'm calling just to let you know, sYESha was the best of the night. It's time to groove on the way she projects a song she loves. But I fear you won't bring me flowers when I predict she'll be Bottom Two.
Lorrie: sYESha put her Madonna hair on tonight! That gurl has 'stensions, and if I'm lyin' I'm dyin.
On another note, I think there's a secret AI rulebook somewhere that says every singer must perform a song barefoot at some point during the season. Last night was sYESha's turn.
"Hello Again" sounded very "Disney movie soundtrack" to me.
I actually thought she would do a better job of the second song, because it seemed right up her alley. Unfortunately, I think she fell flat.
Chuck: Wow, wait a minute. Maybe Cracklin Paula isn't crazy. If you know what I mean. She mixed up Brooke and sYESha almost as if she knew they'd end up in the Bottom Two. Brooke & sYESha, SYESha and Brooke. Who goes? Let's ask Neil....
As I stood by my window
And I looked out on those
Neil says Brooke hitting the road. Love's on the rocks for poor Brooke.
Her next stop is Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show.
Pack up the babies, and grab the old ladies. I'm headed for the future.
See you next week.
Lorrie: Just to be different, I'm going to go with Jason "Hairball" Castro and Brooke "The Juice" White in the Bottom Two tonight.
Monday, April 28, 2008
Sunday, April 27, 2008
It was pretty rewarding to survey the area we had cleaned afterward and see it trash-free.
I always like to see the types of people who come out for cleanups. It was refreshing to see that one volunteer, Shaun Caruthers, brought his two daughters, Bailey and Georgia, to participate in the cleanup. What better way to teach your children about taking care of the environment than leading by example? As you can see by the pictures, little Georgia really got into the cleanup. She is muddy because she kept getting out of the canoe to pick up trash along the riverbank.
Heather Allerheiligen and Valerie Lebeau, who live in Winter Haven, volunteered even though they didn't have a canoe or kayak. Heather's e-mail to me expressing her interest in participating said this: "We do not have a boat to contribute but will be willing to help along the banks or onshore, which ever place you need us most. Please let me know if there is anything we can bring or do to help YOU out."
She meant it, too. These two young women picked up every piece of trash they could reach along the banks and in the parking area at the canoe launch. They stacked the filled bags of trash that we collected. They signed in volunteers who showed up after we hit the river. They kept a tally of everything we collected. The event simply wouldn't have run as smoothly as it did if not for them.
Everyone had a great time and indicated an interest in participating in Keep Polk County Beautiful's next Peace River cleanup scheduled for June. KPCB will provide kayaks and canoes for this cleanup, but volunteers who have their own always are encouraged to bring them. That way, we can accommodate more volunteers who want to help, but don't have a kayak or canoe.
I'll share more information on the June cleanup as I get it. Until then, please remember to do your part to keep Polk County beautiful by:
- Not littering
- Not throwing cigarette butts out your vehicle window
- If you see a piece of trash on the ground, pick it up
- Recycle what you can
- Become a KPCB volunteer
For more information on getting involved with Keep Polk County Beautiful, visit the organization's Web site or call 676-7019
Saturday, April 26, 2008
Here's an abbreviated version of their press release on the announcement:
Southeastern has acquired a new facility in West Jerusalem. This dormitory/study center will house the university's new International Studies Program in Jerusalem with classes beginning fall 2008.
The International Studies Program in Jerusalem will build upon Southeastern's solid tradition of Christian education and will emphasize the important role of servant leadership for global influence.
"Our objective is to provide a life-altering experience that will enrich the educational, cultural and spiritual development of our students," said Southeastern President Mark Rutland. "Exposing our students and faculty to such a marvelous opportunity takes them beyond the Lakeland classroom, and into the history of the world and the world conflicts of today. Having our facility, especially such a new, upscale facility, is a dream come true."
Concluding a two-year search to provide the most stimulating opportunity for students to explore and experience the historical background of Christianity, Southeastern will host students at the inaugural semester beginning fall 2008.
The program will be led by Robert W. Houlihan, dean of Southeastern's College of Christian Ministries and Religion. The intrinsic value for the students will be the addition of new courses and components of current courses devoted to ministerial studies, history, archeology, and current events as well as expanded travel opportunities for Southeastern students and faculty to visit the Holy Land for on-site course work, research, and scholarly collaboration with peers.
Friday, April 25, 2008
- I have interviewed Gov. Jeb Bush
- I can take an M-16 apart and put it back together again.
- I learned soft-shoe as a child.
- I have wrecked a car by driving it through a concrete wall.
- My favorite coffee drink is a caramel macchiato.
Leave a comment telling me which one you think is a lie. I'll reveal the answer on Monday.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
The AI voters failed to step up for Carly Smithson who left the show after one of her strongest performances. Meanwhile, Jason Castro gave one of the weakest performances of the season. Not just his songs, but all of the singers. He stayed. Maybe the audience really wanted to hear him sing "Cracklin' Rosie."
Lorrie: Cracklin' Rosie. You're a hoot, Chuck.
Chuck: The audience also forgave Brooke White for forgetting the lyrics. Something they've not done in past seasons. This year, both David A. and Brooke have survived flubs. Brooke's screw-up came much later in the season. Her fan base must be strong.
Lorrie: Ryan, in true a-hole fashion, just looooves to point out contestants' flaws. Poor, sweet David A. (Note to Chuck- quit calling him "The David 2000") flubbed his lyrics and had to watch it played back for two weeks. Now Brooke is having her start-and-stop-and-start again routine rubbed in her face. And clearly, she does not like the taste of it.
On to the topic of Leona Lewis briefly: why does she have to stand pigeon-toed when she sings?
And now to the Bottom Two: sYESha and Brooke. All I can say is "Holy twists and turns, Batman!" Who would have thought that America would say NO to sYESha after what likely was her best performance of the season?
Parents, please listen to me closely: It is time to take away the cell phones from your tweenage daughters until they can assure you they will stop voting for Jason. Seriously. My patience with that kid is waning, to say the least.
Chuck: I think it is time that AI change the voting procedure. I have a couple of possibilities. 1) At the end of an episode the judges nominate the Bottom Three. Viewers then vote only for those three and the lowest vote-getter goes home. 2) The opposite approach. The voters vote as usual, but the judges decide who goes home from the Bottom Three.
The best part of last night's show was the elimination of the silly question segment.
Chuck: Next week Neil Diamond comes to AI. Here's what I predict each will sing:
David A.: I Am I Said
David C. : Solitary Man
sYESha: You Don't Bring Me Flowers
Brooke: Sweet Caroline
Jason: Heartlight (And he'll claim he's never heard of ET) Kidding, he'll sing Song Sung Blue
Lorrie: Ooooh, predicting what they'll sing. This sounds fun. First of all, I predict the silly Ford video or one of the group singalongs will be "America."
David A.: a non-robotic, nicely done version of Hello Again
David C.: a Goo Goo Dolls version of Forever in Bluejeans
sYESha: a gospel version of Thank the Lord for the Night Time
Brooke: a stripped-down, piano-only September Morn
Jason: Crunchy Granola Suite (not because he knows anything about the song, but because he has the munchies from smoking...well...you know...)
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Southeastern could become an active member as soon Fall 2008.
"This is the next logical step in the life of a great university," said Southeastern President Mark Rutland. "As we say around here, 'A rising tide lifts all the boats,' and Southeastern University's athletics boat is definitely rising."
The Southeastern Athletics Department made the announcement during a press conference today at the school's campus.
"This is a historic day for Southeastern," said Southeastern University Athletics Director Duane Aagaard. "The NAIA core values and Champions of Character fit our mission statement as a university very well."
Southeastern has been a non-scholarship athletics program since athletics began at the university back in the early 1950s.
The Fire is an active member of the National Christian College Athletic Association, and it will continue to be a member as Southeastern will have a dual affiliation with the NAIA and the NCCAA.
With its acceptance into the NAIA, Southeastern targets the fall of 2009 as the year the university will begin to give athletic aid to student athletes.
This is yet another feather in Southeastern's cap. Enrollment reached an estimated 3,050 students for the 2007-08 academic year, which set a record for the ninth straight year.
Southeastern is a four-year, coeducational, Christian liberal arts university, accredited to award bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Located in Lakeland, Florida, the university offers 43 undergraduate majors and four graduate programs, and has captured national attention for its rapid growth in enrollment and facilities in recent years.
Lorrie: I must confess that I'm in the same black mood as you, Chuck. In fact, I was running late getting home from an event last night, so I missed the first two performances. After seeing the rest, I was glad to have missed the first two.
Chuck: I'm going to jump out of order and just present the singers in two groups.
The Bottom Three: Jason, Brooke and David A
Yes, Lorrie. David A. The Bottom Three.
Jason was simply out of his element and didn't have the sense to change a song to fit his personality. In the parley of television criticism, Jason had a "bad trip." My wife felt his song totally missed reminding viewers of Cats, "He could have at least coughed up a hairball." That'll happen when Ryan tells Jason he's going home.
Lorrie: I came in on the judge's comments of this performance and while Paula was prattling on, I could actually feel Simon's disgust toward her through the television.
Chuck: Brooke's fragile waif persona. Wait. Let me start again. Brooke's feet of clay shtick is wearing thin. We get it. You're an amateur. Sally Field can play your mom in your CW series, The Singing Nanny.
She sang "You Must Love Me." I didn't. I liked how upset Paula was that Brooke dared start over when she flubbed the song.
Lorrie: Yeah, Paula was not happy. And that, my friends, made ME happy! This song stunk and sadly, I say Brooke earned her Bottom Three spot this week.
Chuck: The David A. 2000 turned in another flawless, but still, performance. If he was 23 and lived above a dry cleaner, would you love him as much? Can anyone remember what he sang without consulting their notes? Hearing Sir Webber tell David to open his eyes did give me a Penelope Cruz flashback. Speaking of flashbacks, did anyone else think David A's pupils looked like saucers?
The Top Three: sYESha, Carly, and David C.
This could be my new final three choice.
My wife tells me that David C's song was nice. Yeah. If you insist. It was another snooze-fest, but a well-sung snooze fest.
Lorrie: Well, it's a good thing your wife is smart. That WAS a nice song.
Note to readers: Until tonight, it was a little known fact that David C. is a bullfighter in his spare time. He was running late getting to the A.I. show and forgot to remove his sash last night.
Chuck: Then there was Carly. I believe she never planned anything other than Jesus Christ Superstar. She is covering her tattoos and wearing dresses.
Carly has learned a lesson about presentation. The T-shirt she had saved was cute. I wonder if there was a different shirt if Simon didn't like her song?
That leaves us with sYESha. By far she put on the best performance of the night. She does have a personality after all! She owned the stage and the audience. I'd never heard of "One Rock and Roll Too Many," but her acting sold the song.
There you have it. AI's final six sans humor.
Lorrie: Sadly, I must agree with your Bottom Three choices, Chuck. My hope is that Jason Castro goes home tonight.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
- I live inside the Lakeland city limits, where recycling is almost too easy. Here's what goes in my recycling bin each week: glass (clear and colored), steel cans, plastic bottles with a #1 or #2 on them, newspaper, office paper, empty cereal boxes, magazines, basically any fiber that I can tear. I also learned this morning that the 40-pound bags my chicken feed comes in can go in the recycling bins because there's no plastic lining inside them.
- I recycle the aluminum on my own because the recycling center is nearby and I get cash for it!
- I have a compost bin. All of my non-meat food scraps go in there, as well as shredded paper, leaves and grass clippings, tea bags, coffee grounds and paper towels. Placing these items in a compost bin instead of the garbage greatly reduces the amount of trash I dispose of every week.
- I recently attended a Florida Yards & Neighborhoods rain barrel workshop and purchased two rain barrels. Now I can collect up to 110 gallons of water when it rains and use that to wash my car, water my plants, hose off garden tools, and rinse off my dirty feet before I go inside.
- I use cloth napkins with meals to cut down on my use of paper towels and napkins.
- I cut up old socks and use them as dish rags.
- Old T-shirts go into the rag bucket in the workshop.
- I hold a little contest with myself every year to see how long I can go without turning on the air in the spring, and how long I can go without turning on the heat in the winter. I open all my windows and as the sun crosses the sky, I close the windows and curtains where the sun will beat in and heat up the house, and vice versa in the fall/winter.
- I turn off ceiling fans when I'm not in the room. Fans cool people, not rooms.
- I ride my bicycle to run errands as often as I can, so I don't have to use my car. The less I use it, the less harmful stuff I'm putting into the air, and the farther I can stretch my diesel. At $4.11 per gallon, I'm doing this to save money as much as to do right by the environment.
- Ziploc bags that I've used and rinsed out are donated to the SPCA, where they can use them to bag dog food and dog treats for foster parents.
- Old cell phones, rechargeable batteries and used ink jet cartridges are donated to Keep Polk County Beautiful for recycling. The cell phones and ink cartridges actually generate a bit of income for the organization.
- I use canvas or other reusable bags for shopping, rather than plastic bags.
- If I buy just a couple of items from a store, I tell the clerk I don't need a bag.
- I recycle egg cartons, styrofoam food trays and plastic bags at Publix. This includes the plastic bags The Ledger is delivered in, as well as bread bags, fruit bags, empty cereal bags, etc.
- I've replaced about half the light bulbs in my home with Energy Star bulbs that last longer and use less electricity. I'm working on replacing all of them.
- I buy some groceries in bulk, and I try not to purchase items that contain excessive packaging. Some food packaging that is particularly irksome to me and I avoid at all costs are the little individual pudding, fruit and jello cups, Lunchables, and anything packaged in microwavable/discardable containers, like chili, soup, mashed potatoes, etc.
- I recycle Christmas cards by cutting out the pictures and making new cards with them.
- I make my own glass and all-purpose cleaners using more Earth-friendly incredients, such as vinegar, baking soda and ammonia.
- When the weather is nice, I hang my clothes on the line to dry, instead of throwing them in the dryer.
Other tips I've learned about that I'm considering implementing:
- Place a brick or a half-gallon jug of water in your toilet's tank. This will reduce the amount of water used by the toilet.
- When taking a shower, turn off the water while shaving, soaping up or shampooing hair.
Now it's your turn. What are some things you do to be kinder to the environment? Let's share, and maybe we'll all pick up a few new tips.
Happy Earth Day!
Monday, April 21, 2008
Seriously, have you ever been in Downtown Lakeland in the middle of the day and not heard a train roll through? Well, you should've been among the 250-300 protestors at the rally today, because you would have heard a glorious sound- no train whistles.
I guess CSX prefers backroom deals to face time on the evening news and in the morning papers, rolling through the background of a rally, giving obnoxiously noisy sound bites as evidence to why the protestors are there in the first place.
I'm going to jump around a bit, but stay with me; there was a lot that was discussed today:
NOT A DONE DEAL
Downtown Lakeland Partnership Executive Director Julie Townsend reminded all in attendance that this CSX deal is not a "done deal." As I mentioned in a previous post, Sen. Paula Dockery reported on Friday that the bill was dead in the Senate. However, there are two more crucial weeks in the session and she must continue to fight until the bitter end to ensure this bill goes nowhere.
What can you do to help her? Write your state elected officials. Let them know that you oppose this deal.
John Gaige, who is with the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen union, spoke today about jobs that likely will be lost if this deal becomes a reality. Winter Haven officials have thrown out big numbers on job growth in the area that will result from the CSX hub they want built in their city. But what about existing jobs that will be cut andor given to other people as a result of this deal for CSX?The BRS is made up of workers who operate and maintain the critical rail switching systems in Florida. A memo written after a meeting between FDOT and CSX officials mentions that "the FDOT proposal would provide the freedom to undertake the operations and maintenance of the corridor using non-union, contract labor, which would be the most cost-effective and efficient approach."
If that happens, safety surely will suffer, said Gaige, who works on the South Florida Rail corridor. This is highly safety-sensitive work.
"In the name of creating jobs, they're gutting the union jobs of professionals with experience in upholding federal safety standards," he said in a television interview at the rally.
WHO DOES FDOT WORK FOR?
Very powerful lobbyists for CSX are working on state elected officials every day. When Townsend went to Tallahassee recently to speak on the CSX issue, who were Florida Department of Transportation officials sitting with? CSX representatives.
Townsend said it is time to remind FDOT who they work for- taxpayers, not CSX. They are supposed to be considering what's in the best interest of the taxpayers, not CSX.
Here's what happens if this deal goes through:
CSX continues to run freight and collect revenue, while turning over to the state the responsibility of building up the tracks to accommodate increased freight traffic and performing all the maintenance. Oh- and assuming all of the liability, even when CSX is at fault.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
I'm one of those bloggers who just hasn't wanted to get involved in this topic. Chuck over at Lakeland Local , Josh at Empirical Polk and Billy Townsend at the Tampa Tribune have done a superb job at covering the controversial topic and they seemed to know and understand far more about it than I perhaps cared to know. But to be honest, the more I read of their blogs, the more irritated I got at the fact that this project may very well happen, whether the citizens like it or not. So it was great to get a crash course of sorts on the CSX project yesterday.
Throw in Sen. Paula Dockery's comments at the end, and I was sold on what a railroad job (pun intended) this has turned out to be.
Here are some myths that were busted- again- yesterday:
Myth #1- Train traffic will increase by just 2-4 trains daily.
Currently, 20 trains go through Downtown daily. Improvements to the S Line will make it possible to increase that to 54 trains daily. Sen. Dockery and Studiale both said CSX officials have indicated a desire to put as many trains as possible on that track.
Currently, the trains that roll through Downtown are 1,000 feet long. If the CSX deal goes through, future trains will be as much as two miles long.
Myth #2- Lakeland is opposed to commuter rail.
The city built the Downtown train station with future commuter rail in mind. They certainly didn't sink all of that money into building a nice train station for the four Amtrak trains that used to stop in Lakeland, which has dwindled to two stops today.
Myth #3- The CSX project will bring $40 million per year in taxes to the county.
Railroads have special taxing. This project actually will generate about $437,000 in tax revenue.
The good news, according to Dockery, is that as of Friday, this deal is dead in the Senate. The bad news is that there are two weeks left in the session.
This is not a commuter rail project, Dockery said, adding, "This is a freight project to get a subsidy into CSX's pocket."
Dockery's argument is that if they want to do that, they can do it with their own money, not taxpayer dollars. And there's no reason why they shouldn't- CSX is a company whose revenue has risen 12 percent to a record $2.7 billion.
Regarding the infamous liability issue where CSX wants the state to assume all liability for accidents that occur on the tracks- even those caused by CSX- Dockery mentioned that the state would be taking on a company "with a very bad safety record."
Here are some additional facts presented yesterday that I feel are worth repeating:
- Lakeland's urban area includes about 255,000 people. Those in favor of this project have drawn a picture of a sleepy little town full of NIMBYs who don't want progress. In fact, Lakeland is the largest city in inland Florida, after Orlando.
- Lakeland has managed growth with a Downtown bias. Downtown truly is the heart of the city. Years of work by the CRA has resulted in a thriving downtown community that until recently, only lacked a residential element. Today, renting and owning housing Downtown is a reality. Increased freight traffic will make additional residential opportunities more difficult.
- In other cities, Lakeland is heralded for its inner city growth and comprehensive plan. The city recently purchased 16 acres behind the Lakeland Police Department- a severely drug- and prostitution- infested, blighted area- and has plans to bring 500 units to the area. This will not be low-income housing.
- Lakeland's Citrus Connection bus system increases in ridership every year. Last year, it increased by 36 percent. Because of the bus station's location near the S Line, increased train traffic will make it impossible for buses to remain on time. This will jeopardize ridership, because people will not use the buses to get to work or appointments if it's going to take an inordinate amount of time to get from Point A to Point B, or if they can't be reasonably assured that the bus will arrive on time.
As a voter and a resident of Lakeland, I don't want this raw deal to be spoon-fed to Lakeland residents. On Monday, April 21, the Downtown Lakeland Partnership will hold the Anti-CSX Rally in Munn Park. People will begin gathering at noon and speakers will take the stage at 12:30 p.m.
For more information, contact DLP Executive Director Julie Townsend: 863-513-3669.