Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Chuck & Lorrie Show- American Idol Top 5

Chuck: Our whole universe was in a hot dense state, Then nearly 14 billion years ago expansion started. Wait...

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 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:

WTF Paula?!!!!

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:
and sYESha.

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:'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
Brooklyn roads
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

Four Truths and One Lie Meme- The Answer

On Friday, I gave you four true facts about me and one false one. Today, I give you the answer:

The lie was #3- I never learned the ol' soft shoe.

Thanks for playing!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Getting Trashy on the Peace River

Below: Georgia Caruthers stands in front of bags of trash collected during the Peace River Cleanup.
Below: Shaun, Georgia and Bailey Caruthers relax for a minute during the cleanup.

Steve Partain picks up trash out of the river.

With the help of Keep Polk County Beautiful, we organized a cleanup at the Peace River on Saturday and it was a great success. We had 12 volunteers collect 21 bags of trash from the river and the canoe launch area at S.R. 60 in Bartow, as well as one tire and three chairs.

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

Southeastern Obtains New Facility for International Studies Program in Jerusalem

Some schools like to set up satellite campuses in nearby cities, such as Tampa, Orlando and Ocala. Southeastern University has gone big-time and waaaaay out with their satellite campus. It's in Jerusalem, baby!

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

The Four Truths and One Lie Meme

Okey dokey, here's the deal: I totally am stealing this from another cool blog I stumbled across. I loved it, and now it's mine. Below are five statements. Can you guess which one is a lie? Mom- you cannot play this game.

  1. I have interviewed Gov. Jeb Bush

  2. I can take an M-16 apart and put it back together again.

  3. I learned soft-shoe as a child.

  4. I have wrecked a car by driving it through a concrete wall.

  5. 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

American Idol Top Six Results Show Recap

Chuck: I hope this was the zenith of this American Idol season. If you need any more proof that AI voters pay less attention to performance than personality, then look to last night's result.

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.

Lorrie: Amen.

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 know...)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Southeastern University Accepted Into the NAIA

Southeastern University was officially approved for admission into the National Athletic Intercollegiate Association by the NAIA Council of Presidents during the NAIA National Convention on April 13 in Louisville, Ky.

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.

The Chuck & Lorrie Show- American Idol Top 6

Chuck: This was easily an hour of pain for me. I'm just not a fan of Andrew Lloyd Webber. I was so bored. I'm not in a humorous mood. That was an hour of my life I'll never get back. Good thing I was multi-tasking.

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

Make Every Day Earth Day

I know the title is rather cliche, but perhaps if it keeps getting repeated, we'll all eventually take it to heart. In honor of Earth Day, I'm sharing some of the things I do to make every day Earth Day.

  • 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

Anti-CSX Rally in Munn Park Well-Attended

I left today's Anti-CSX Rally with one question lingering in my mind: what kind of PR machine does CSX have, that they would basically shut down the trains in the area during the rally?

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:

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.

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

CSX Information Presented at Downtown Lakeland Kiwanis Meeting

Lakeland Director of Community Development Jim Studiale spoke on the CSX project at the Kiwanis meeting yesterday, and I'm glad I was there to hear it.

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.

Senator Dockery

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.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

American Idol Top Seven Results Show Recap

Chuck: This is Lorrie's week. For my part, I'm going to try to make sure the column isn't longer than the results show. So, I'm going to go all Sgt.
Joe Friday on y'all....

Lorrie: OK...first it was your mention of the vapors and now it's "y'all." If you can use "fixin'" properly in a sentence, I'm going to make you an honorary southerner.

Now back to Chuck's Dragnet version of the results:

• Was that Courtney Love or Tori Spelling in the audience?

• Carly has performance anxiety. She always sounds better on the results show.

• Simon believes Carly is potentially great. If she doesn't fall apart, that is.

• With the commercial this week Ford clues everyone in to the robotic David A.

• The AI producers continue the annual "three to a side...which side is safe?" game. It is as boring this year as before. But looks better when compared to the idiotic questions segment.

• David A. sits down rather than pick a side that is safe. Bo Bice did that first. Maybe that's a sign David A. will last as far as Bice did?

• No matter how much Ryan tried to coax David A. over to the safe side he refused to listen. Worse, Ryan had to specifically tell Carly she was safe before she understood. No album entitled "E=MC2" for that woman.

• Simon gives Kristy Lee a wink just before she sings.

• the stories you've just read are true. Only my name has been changed to protect the innocent.

I'm tacking my comments on to the bottom because A) I didn't want to ruin Chuck's Joe Friday routine and B) I'm a babbling brook. There's NO WAY I could be that succinct.

First of all, I wish I had written this last week, because I would look like a genious at this point: I knew that tonight would be the night where AI contestants were split into groups. I knew the seventh person would be told to go stand with the group they think they should be in. Secondly, I knew whoever that was, they would go all Bo Bice on the place and not follow instructions.

True to form, the audience of trained seals begins clapping loudly when Jason Castro is told to stand at a point on the stage. Meanwhile, I scream at the TV, "You don't even know whether that's going to be the group of Top Three or Bottom Three contestants!!!"

I get nervous in the beginning when Ryan sends Kristy Lee Cook to stand beside David Cook. Oh. My. God. Is she safe again?!

In case you doubted the coolness that is David Cook, let me remind everyone that Elliot Yamin took a page from David's cool book by writing on his hand "We miss you Mom."

If that's not a sign that David C. might win this thing...well...I don't know what is.

sYESha has Sanjaya hair tonight.

Meghan, one of the most annoying callers is this train wreck part of the results show, spends her question time sending shouts out to all of her friends. People, have we not learned yet that this is NOT WORKING?

OMG...David Cook says he's single. Chuck, I may not be able to blog next week, as I will be planning my stalker attack on David.

Mariah Carey takes the stage to promote her "E=MC2" album. I honestly don't think Mariah could sing if her hands were tied behind her back. I almost wonder if she's doing sign language to David Cook: "Meet me backstage after the show. I want to sing 'Always Be My Baby' to you while I brush your hair back with my fingers and uncover that bald patch."

David Archuleta, who is wearing his Michael Jackson leather jacket, breaks into a moon walk while singing "Beat It" instead of honoring Ryan's request to pick which group he should be in.

In an effort to drag this out even longer than he needs to, Ryan plays a round of Red Rover and has the Bottom Three send David Cook on over.

Well, well, well...Kristy Lee is in the Bottom Three. Color me surprised! Thank you, America!!! Kristy Lee is FINALLY outta there!!!

See y'all next week.

P.S. Y'all have no idea how much restraint I used in not gloating that I picked the Bottom Three spot on last night!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Chuck & Lorrie Show- American Idol Top 7

Chuck: I sit here Wednesday morning, writing a column I usually find so easy, and now so difficult. I knew there was going to be trouble when I heard the mentor this week was Mariah Carey. How could these music fledglings cover the genius that is Carey?

After the show I realized only technology, and the blithe human spirit could guide members of the AI 7 to the stratosphere. Yeah. They didn't make it for the most part.

Lorrie: I love how Ryan took the opportunity at the beginning of the show to remind America that Michael Johns was made an example of to encourage tweenie-boppers to text and phone in their votes this week. It's an unofficial rule that American Idol contestants must receive more votes than presidential candidates.

I'm with you on the whole Mariah Carey thing, Chuck. Funny how contestants get flack for picking the Mariah and Whitney songs each, yet they make it Mariah Carey week on the Idol. Can you say "set 'em up for failure?"

Chuck: My first thought on seeing the AI7 come on stage was that they were all dressed for a mandatory corporate dinner party. They wore every shade of grey in the rainbow.

My second thought on last night's show, "I wonder what Lorrie thinks of the choke collar MC has on her dog?"

Speaking of David Archuleta, he went into sYESha territory this week and took a song made by Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey. He was correct when he stated he wasn't worthy to sing "When You Believe." But, thank God, few are.

Lorrie: David must've sassed his (stage) dad tonight. I can hear it now: "No, Dad! I will wear those black leather pants tonight! I want to wear grown-up rock star clothes!"

Chuck: He put in the performance he has every week since his flub. I've checked the tapes of each episode, and if you look closely, each week he makes the same movements and his lips form the same words no matter what sounds we hear. David Archuleta is a robot!

When he blows a gasket and attacks Ryan Seacrest like a rabid dog, remember you read it here first.

He's not going anywhere this week. The phone system recognizes a fellow electronic being and has fallen in love with him. Half the calls for Jason Castro are being directed to David A. by the love-mad system.

By the way, David A's announcement that he ate was merely to throw you off catching him replacing circuit boards. Robot. Remember. Here first.

Now on to Carly "Don't Call Me Mariah" Smithson, singing "Without You."

Chuck: Carly peaked Week Two. Her nerves are frayed and the dress with sleeves isn't going to save her from certain elimination. Yes, after that lackluster performance of the "classic" Without You, even the "Voting for a Foreigner" fans freed by Michael Johns' departure didn't vote for her. Bottom Three performance.

Lorrie: She has the kind of maturity in her voice that can carry off a song like this, but I still found myself biting my nails during this performance because I was so worried she might F it up. She didn't suck. That's all I can say.

sYESha "The Python" Mercado- "Vanishing"

Chuck: Did anyone notice that of all the AI 7, Mariah Carey failed to hug sYESha? The AI singer gave us more vocal gymnastics than feeling with Vanishing. But, I will tell you she played to the camera better than anyone this week.

Lorrie: I'll say. I expected her jaw to become unhinged at any moment, she was opening her mouth so big.

On a side note, I get so sick of hearing her say "Oh Lawd" all the time. It was cute the first time. Now I want to snatch a fistful of her hair out when she says it.

Brooke "Glitter" White- "Hero."

Chuck: Brooke White, upset she was unable to create a lifesize cardboard cutout of herself, decided to punish America with "Hero." Paula liked it. At least I think that was what she was showing by rocking like a child who needs to pee and can't get the teacher's attention.

Brooke again gets the Miss Congeniality award as she thanks the judges for every comment, and personally writes a thank-you note to each audience member who clapped after her song.

Lorrie: I think Brooke was channeling Mariah's movie that bombed when she chose her outfit tonight. Let's hope the song is better than Glitter was.

I liked this version. I think she made it distinct to her voice. I love how often she sings with just her piano accompanying her. Oh, I had to type it. As soon as I said that, she missed a note on her piano and it tripped her up a bit with her singing.

Kristy Lee "Sorry Lorrie, I'm Still Here" Cook- "Forever."

Chuck: Kristy Lee Cook sang Forever, and, wait for it, keep waiting, wait just a bit more, it seemed like her song took forever to finish. (Saw that coming didn't you?) I was more impressed by the glitter she put in the corners of her eyes to make it appear she was crying.

This morning I can't remember her performance. Even so, that's better than the bad performance Carly gave us.

Lorrie: She looked like she was wearing a Barbie wig tonight. Those low notes barely registered. When I hear this song, I think this must be what 1950s proms must've sounded like.

Here we go again with Paula- "uh-eh-ih-oh-uh-uh-uh..." Please! Shut! Up!

David Cook- "Always Be My Baby"

Chuck: David Cook proved he was the smartest singer on the show by making "Always Be My Baby" his own. Pretty and haunting it was easily the best performance of the night. He'll get teen girl votes after he cried like an emo cutting onions in August.

Lorrie: That. Was funny.

Chuck: Randy gave David C. a standing ovation. That lost the AI singer 100 votes right there.

Lorrie: David has a real talent at taking the most bubblegum song in the world and giving it an edgy, grunge sound. This definitely did not suck. It reminded me of a Goo Goo Dolls song for a movie soundtrack.

I think if there was an award for the contestant who makes the songs their own the best, David would win it.

Jason Castro- "I Don't Want to Cry."

Chuck: Finally, Jason Castro's Caribbean take on "I Don't Want to Cry" provided a nice follow-up to David "I'll Cry for Votes" Cook. The song had, surprise, a nice laid back feel. Not the best of the night, but certainly above the women and robots of the show.

Lorrie: I like the different sound of this song. He did a lot of singing out of the side of his mouth tonight.

What?! Simon loved the song? I'm amazed.

Chuck's Top Three: David Cook, Jason Castro, and a robot to be named later.

Lorrie's Top Three: David Cook, Brooke White and....let's see....I'll go with the Robot, too.

Chuck's Bottom Three: sYESha, Brooke, and Carly. I'm again predicting that Carly goes home.

Lorrie's Bottom Three: Kristy Lee Cook, Carly Smithson and sYESha. I'm again- AGAIN- predicting that Kristy Lee goes home. Don't let me down, America.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Here's A Reason to Get Out of the House Thursday Night

I just learned this week that Southeastern University is hosting a benefit concert for Keep Polk County Beautiful at its campus this Thursday at 7 p.m.

The great working relationship between KPCB and Southeastern University goes back for years. Southeastern, which focuses on teaching its students the value of servant leadership, holds a week of events each fall for incoming freshmen. During that week, one day is dedicated to putting the concept of servant leadership into action. Historically, event organizers have looked to KPCB to assist in pulling off this massive volunteer event that involves more than 600 students descending upon a community and picking up litter, painting, helping the elderly with yardwork, or whatever else needs to be done.

It's awesome that Southeastern is interested in doing something for KPCB in the way of a fundraiser so that this worthy organization can continue its good work.

Tickets to the show featuring Relo and Josh Varnadore are $5 at entry and proceeds will be donated to Keep Polk County Beautiful.

This concert, which will be held next to the school’s baseball field, is open to the public.

Southeastern University is located at 1000 Longfellow Blvd. For more information, call 863-667-5000.

Here's some information about Keep Polk County Beautiful: It is a 501c3 non-profit organization, and is an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, Inc.

Created in 1994 and certified by Keep America Beautiful, Inc. in 1996, this organization works with civic, business, government, educational and community groups across the county to improve the aesthetic and ecological value of our communities through litter control and prevention, beautification, waste reduction, recycling and proper handling and disposal of solid waste.

Its mission is to empower individuals to take greater responsibility for enhancing their community environment.

Join Us for the Peace River Cleanup April 26

Great news! Since posting about our recent experience on the Peace River, I've been successful in putting together an impromptu cleanup on Saturday, April 26, 2008, from 9 a.m. until Noon. We will meet at the canoe launch on S.R. 60 in Bartow at 9 a.m.

Keep Polk County Beautiful will provide the trash bags, gloves, litter grabbers and water for the volunteers.

Daryl Stewart with the City of Bartow has agreed to provide a dumpster at the location so we can properly dispose of all the trash we collect.

The Polk County Sheriff's Office Environmental Crimes Unit will be on the river in their Go Devil to provide a safety briefing and to assist in getting collected trash up-river to the dumpster.

Finally and most importantly, I've already received e-mails from about six people who want to volunteer that morning.

To quote a line from Almost Famous, "It's all happening!"

If you have a jon boat, canoe or kayak and would like to help clean what we can of the Peace River on the 26th, please e-mail me by 5 p.m. on Monday, April 21: I will pick up the supplies on April 22.

Thank you to everyone who's agreed to volunteer so far, and thank you to KPCB, the Sheriff's Office and the City of Bartow for helping make this happen.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Declaring War on the Peace River

It's time that war was declared on the Peace River. War against littering, that is. Mike and I took our kayaks to the Peace on Saturday and put in at the S.R. 60 launch in Bartow. The river is surprisingly high right now, but unfortunately, along with the increased water, the recent rains brought an excessive amount of litter with it. Both sides of the river around the S.R. 60 overpass are clogged with this (click on photos for enlarged images):

And this:
We kayaked south and within 5 minutes of paddling, we encountered this:

And this:
This mass of weeds and trash spanned the entire width of the river and made navigating through it impossible. Among the many items floating in the river was a cooler with the lid missing. I picked it out of the water and filled it with as much trash as it would hold. Sadly, I made hardly a dent in the trash pile. But Mike and I have determined to return to the Peace and do what we can to help clean up this hideous sight.
We can't do it alone, though. This trash will be no match for just two people. So I'm asking my greenies, my bunny-hugging, environment-loving readers, to join us in a clean-up on April 26.

I have not the first detail yet, but I will spend the next week planning this and making it happen. If you have a jon boat, a canoe or kayaks, we need you! If you don't have any of these, but are willing to pick up trash along the river banks, we need you! If you can't assist in a clean-up, but would like to come serve water and snacks to the volunteers, we need you! If you can't do any of the above on April 26, but want to help do what you can to make the ENTIRE Peace River look like this:

Please consider a tax-deductible donation to Keep Polk County Beautiful, which has been working to educate children and adults on the importance of litter prevention, waste reduction and recycling for more than 12 years. Additionally, they still mobilize volunteers for good, old-fashioned clean-ups. Your donations can help pay for clean-up supplies, as well as water and snacks for the volunteers.

Another way you can help in the litter-prevention effort is to do your part to put litter in its place each and every day. Teach your children and the children in your neighborhoods not to litter. If you see a piece of litter, pick it up! Every piece of litter that gets properly disposed of is a piece of litter that won't end up in our beautiful lakes and rivers. Please don't make me break into "This Land is Your Land." But, if it'll get you to join us in the clean-up, I might be persuaded to sing a verse of it or two!

So here's the deal: if you want to help, please e-mail me at I'll be in touch with more details later this week.

Friday, April 11, 2008

American Idol Results- And Then There Were Seven

Chuck: It's 1 a.m. and I'm sitting here on the veranda, sipping a sweet tea*, still in shock America voted off such a fine Southern boy as Michael Johns. And don't try to tell me Michael isn't Southern. If Australia isn't the Super Deep South then hounds don't hunt penguins South of Sydney.**

This show was a roller coaster from that first inspirational song by Up With People! to Ryan's final gut wrenching, knife-twisting, comment.

Lorrie: I found it pleasantly refreshing that the A.I. group sang Shout to the Lord not once, but twice this week. I felt like I was sitting front and center in Family Worship Center. It's like they're tryin' to have a revival up in there! Is this an A.I. first?

Chuck: Lorrie, I have four questions. Who were the C- celebrities in that silly video? Why couldn't Kobe Bryant skip wearing a band aid for the video shoot? Why did Mr. Clean threaten to knock down my door if I didn't contribute to Idol Gives Back? Who writes John McCain's comedy bits and would he or she polish up these columns?

Lorrie: My answers are as follows: I have no clue, because he's emulating Nelly, because he thinks you're a wussy, and I've been told it's Congressman Adam Putnam and he recently graciously agreed to polish up these columns for a small donation to the Republican Party. (Lorrie pauses while Chuck gets out his checkbook)

Chuck: As I predicted, Carly and sYESha were in the bottom three. We don't know who was second-to-last since AI didn't mention anything other than Michael was last.

Carly did acknowledge my prediction she'd be bumped off the show. She held her hand up when Ryan asked who would have the lowest vote total. Her "Nooooo" when Michael was announced was loud enough to pull that sound tech back on stage for a refit.

Lorrie: Chuck, for the last time, Carly is not communicating with you through the television, you silly goose. And for crying out loud, wash off that magic marker half-sleeve. No one is buying that you have a tattoo.

I conducted extensive research and learned why Kristy Lee is eeking by week after agonizing week: is encouraging the rednecks to vote for her.

Regarding the Chris Brown/Jordin Sparks performance...who is Jordin Sparks again? I'm sorry. That's mean. It's just that I fear she will be out of a record deal soon. That seems to be the trend for more than half of the American Idols.

Regarding Ryan's comments to Jordin after the performance: he just acts like a straight-up dork sometimes. And that makes me want to kick him in the shin.

Chuck: The highlight of the show was Ryan teasing Michael Johns with a pardon before pulling the switch. He mentioned last year that on Idol Gives Back week no one was eliminated. Then he smiled and added, "Tonight we're going to say goodbye to Michael."

Even after being voted off Michael wanted to argue with Simon that his song choice was correct. Southern boys never give up the fight.

My only hope is next week we'll continue seeing people voted off who had never previously made the bottom three. Y'all hear that David Archuleta?

Lorrie: You hush up about Li'l Cutie before I kick you in the shin!

I think Michael was the sacrificial lamb of the show this week. My theory is the A.I. producers pull a stunt like this on purpose as a wake-up call to the fans. Next week, I predict there will be yet another record set with the number of votes.

As his last hoorah, Michael "Shields and Yarnell" Johns' final pantomime performance will be his being-dragged-offstage-by-a-hook routine while mouthing the words "The South's Gonna Rise Again!"

Y'all come back next week, when hilarity and mayhem ensue!

* -- Don't question my Southern heritage.
** -- If you don't understand a Southern homily, don't embarrass
yourself by asking.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Chuck & Lorrie Show- American Idol Top Eight

Chuck would like to thank his mother. Without her inspiration he wouldn't be here today. From what he's heard, his father also had a bit to do with it.

On that inspiring note...this is your....

Chuck and Lorrie Show.

• Michael "Shields & Yarnell" Johns- Dream On


Sing with me, sing for the year Sing for the laughter, sing for the tears Sing with me, if it's just for today Maybe tomorrow, the good lord will take you away

Not this week Michael. You'll live on for another day even though you sounded like Screech once or twice.

Lorrie: Michael Johns is up first tonight and judging by his outfit, he will be performing pantomime during the commercial break.

I always have liked Dream On by Aerosmith. Michael did a respectable job, but those high notes are reminiscent, once again, of someone's private parts being caught in a vice.

Chuck: The Faint Praise Award of the week goes to Paula for suggesting her dogs would like Michael's performance.

Lorrie: Speaking of Paula, her breasts look as though they are struggling for air in that dress. And, I haven't mentioned this before, but Paula's voice reminds me of someone who just sucked on a helium balloon.

Chuck: Michael spends precious time explaining why he picked the song. The AI singers evidently have been told to talk back to the judges. Except for David A. who has been taught never to talk back.

Lorrie: We cut to a commercial as Michael begins his "stuck in a box" routine.

• sYESha "Call Me Whitney" Mercado - I Believe

Chuck: In an effort to soften sYESha we learn the only person to "get her" was Ramiele. I don't thing hitching your star to last week's news is a good idea. But what do I know? I think sYESha should have done this version of I Will Always Love You

Lorrie: Oh. My. Gosh. That is the best version of I Will Always Love You I've ever heard. Ever.

Chuck: This week sYESha sang a song written for American Idol. Literally. Fantasia
Barrino's "I Believe"
. It has that AI Kick &copy . Start slow and kick up the volume and tempo to make the audience react.

Lorrie: Be right water glass just broke when she hit that high note.

Chuck: Since SYESha doesn't seem to connect with the audience she relies on proving her skill. This time with a "Is it Live or Is it Memorex" moment. Paula's dogs are now traumatized.

I can see it in the stars across the sky Dreamt a hundred thousand dreams before Now I finally realize You see I've waited all my life for this moment to arrive And finally yeah

This is not sYESha's moment. Bottom Three performance.

Lorrie: Here's a shocker, I find myself disagreeing with Paula tonight. I don't think sYESha made this song her own. Well, unless "making it your own" means singing a substandard version of the original.

• Jason "Ukelele" Castro- Over the Rainbow

Chuck: Jason learned from David Cook's mistake and immediately made sure everyone knew he was doing Israel Kamakawiwo'ole' version of Over the Rainbow

No stoner jokes tonight. Jason lit up the audience. The kid left Paula dazed. Randy was trippin! Simon was, well, dazed.

Top Three Performance

Lorrie: Chuck, you're an idiot.

Just kidding. I've wanted to say that all season, since you can't type back. hee hee

But seriously, did you get into Jason's stash during the commercial break?! This performance had me working hard not to laugh. Ukeleles make me giggle. There's just something about an adult playing such a tiny instrument that I find funny.

As for the overall performance, it was just a'ight fuh me, dawg. I think the judges are getting kickbacks from I can't believe that they liked Jason as much as they did.

Chuck: • Meat Loaf admits his career is over with his Go Phone commercial

Lorrie: I liked that commercial.

• Kristy Lee "Kung Fu" Cook- Anyway

Chuck: If you're reading this column while running on your treadmill, or while driving, please stop. Thanks.

Kristy Lee turned in a performance that doesn't deserve her expected position in the bottom three.

You can pour your soul out singin' A song you believe in That tomorrow they'll forget you ever sang Sing it anyway Yeah sing it anyway

Yes, she pandered by singing Martina McBride's Anyway just to sing that stanza. However, she returned to her fighting stance to put in a middle of the pack performance.

Lorrie: Ah, the fighting stance...

Singing a Martina song is, in the country music genre, like singing a Whitney or Celine song in the pop music genre. You better bring- or brang- it, or you're gonna fall waaay short of the original. I think Kristy Lee did not a brang it.

• David "Pompous" Cook - Innocent

Chuck: Look, we know he's hip. He listens to music you and I don't. A song by Our Lady Peace?

And while he wishes he could escape this But it all seems so contagious Not to be yourself and faceless And a song that has no soul
Lorrie: Shoot...I really didn't like this performance. The low notes had me furrowing my brow.

Chuck: David was quite the showman tonight. Pointing to the sky like Blake Lewis used to do and writing "Give Back" on his hand. (Which was Simon's favorite part of a performance he found "pompous.")

David C. had an off night but he'll survive.

Lorrie: Nice touch with the "give back" on his palm. That will earn him the "cool" vote tonight.

I agree with Randy this wasn't his strongest night. Simon didn't like it either. He thinks it's a "teensy" bit pompous. Again, it's so funny to hear those words coming from Simon's mouth.

Overall, not my favorite performance, but I really think David Cook might win this whole thing, y'all. Love, love, love the jacket!

• Carly "Shamrock" Smithson - Show Must Go On

Chuck: When she mentioned this was her song I hoped she was going to sing Three Dog Night's song, not the one by Queen.

I'll top the bill!
I'll overkill!
I have to find the will to carry on!
On with the,
On with the show!
As I watched Carly sing I thought "Why must inspiration be so damn depressing?" Since her Spanxs night she has been faltering. I wondered if having Luke Menard in her "family and friends" is an "occurrence of dire portent."

Bottom Three Performance

Lorrie: Going into this performance, I was thinking, "That's a tall song, Little Missy. I hope you can stick it!"

I think she did a good job, even on a song that is not one of my personal favorites. She has the voice to tackle a big song like this.

Here's my Paula moment: Carly looks great tonight! I like that shirt.

Randy "Pitchy" Jackson. Again with the pitchy.

The judges don't feel connected tonight. I think Simon brought up a good point that the song was a bit of an angry performance.

• David "Li'l Cutie"Archuleta - Angels

Chuck: Tell me the AI directors don't try to manipulate the audience. They show him before the commercial with every 14-year-old girl they could find in the crowd.

Lorrie: It's funny how, when David hit the high note, all the girls in the front row looked like seals flapping their flippers in unison. Hey, wait a minute- they're A.I. trained seals! They are trained to wave their hands and clap on command! I get it!

Chuck: This isn't the first time David A. has performed Angels. In his intro he mentioned "the light at the end of the tunnel."

wherever it may take me
I know that life wont break me
when I come to call she wont forsake me
I’m loving angels instead

I know Lorrie likes this guy, but he is Johnny One-Note for me. Every week we have the earnest inspirational power ballad. Where is the variety? However, he'll go on. After all, 14 million teen girls can't be wrong.

(Davy Jones, David Cassidy, Bobby Sherman, Leif Garrett , Shaun Cassidy)

Lorrie: Excuse me while I take a moment to swoon at the thought of Shaun Cassidy.

Chuck: Paula seemed concerned that David A. wasn't getting enough sleep. The creepy moment of the night was when the director cut to an eight year-old girl holding a sign that read "Lick Those Lips."

Lorrie: Chuck! That sign creeped me out! Just what did that mean, anyway?!

I liked this performance. I think it was my favorite.

• Brooke "Vapors" White- You've Got a Friend

Chuck: Man did she seem fragile tonight. From the moment she took the stage she seemed on the verge of getting the vapors.

You just call out my name
And you know wherever I am
I'll come running to see you again
Lorrie: LOL at the vapors. Chuck, are you sure you aren't southern?

Brooke tried bringin' the flower power tonight, but I'm with you, Chuck, she looked like she lost her little puppy through the whole performance.

Chuck's Bottom Three: SYESha and Carly belong in the Bottom Three tonight. They'll be joined by Kristy Lee though she doesn't deserve the honor. And in a surprise to those left reading, I predict Carly will go home Thursday night.

Lorrie's Bottom Three: sYESsha, Kristy Lee and Brooke. And I'm not apologizing for picking Kristy Lee again. After all, she has her own sign for her Bottom Three chair. Plus, I am putting her there for all of her past trangressions. Not very Christian of me, but I'll deal with that.

sYESha will go home.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Hazel Haley Dead at 91

It's a sad day in Lakeland, folks. The Ledger has reported that Hazel Haley, beloved English teacher to thousands of Lakeland High School students, died Monday.

This dynamo taught school for 69 years, a record that I can't imagine will ever be broken.

You can read all the specifics of her life and death at the linked Ledger article above, but I have a fond memory of Ms. Haley that I want to share.

I was a reporter at The Ledger and was assigned a reaction story on Barbara Walters' Monica Lewinsky interview- her first since the world had learned of her trysts with President Bill Clinton. I was asked to contact several people in the community. One of the editors suggested I call Hazel Haley.

I called her and asked if she would watch the interview that evening and I would call her afterward for comments. She told me no. I don't remember the direct quote, but it went something like this:

"There's a special on PBS tonight about castles in England, so I'll be watching that. I can always see Monica Lewinsky on TV, but it's not every day you get to see a show about English castles."

I burst into laughter. It was the best denial for an interview I've ever received.
Ms. Haley loved to travel, especially to England.

The last time I saw Ms. Haley was last year at a Lakeland High School football game. I didn't speak to her- I just admired her from a distance.

I'm not from Lakeland originally and didn't have Ms. Haley as a teacher, but her reputation reached far beyond the LHS walls. Although it was just once, I'm grateful for the chance to have spoken to such a legend.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Are Southeastern University and Florida Southern College One and the Same?

I'm confused. This morning's Ledger features a prominent photo of Mark and Alison Rutland on the front of the Local section. On the surface, I'm happy because I know that Southeastern University often has felt as though they didn't get the same media attention from The Ledger as the more popular Florida Southern College.

A closer look, and I see that Florida Southern has dedicated a new butterfly garden. And I remark to my husband, "Boy, I bet Ann Kerr is hoppin' mad that her school's butterfly garden dedication is marked with a huge photo of Southeastern's president and his wife."

I read on, and suddenly I recognize this butterfly garden. It's at Southeastern, not Florida Southern.

What the heck happened here?! Someone at The Ledger got it COMPLETELY wrong today. This butterfly garden dedication was at Southeastern University. Mark Rutland is the president of Southeastern University, not Florida Southern. How embarrassing. And frustrating.

Then I look at the article at the top of the page. Prominently displayed is news of a Southeastern student suing the school. It's got to be aggravating for Southeastern to see The Ledger get the name right when it's bad news being reported, and then when it comes to good news, it's erroneously attributed to Florida Southern.

I'm sure that tomorrow will bring a tiny correction in the Local section about the mess-up. Something tells me that will be small consolation for Southeastern University.

Update: As predicted, the correction ran on Sunday.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Keep Polk County Beautiful Wants Your Tires- And Your Dollar Bills

Chuck over at Lakeland Local published a post this week about the county's upcoming Hazardous Waste recycling event that will be held tomorrow, April 5 from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. in Lakeland.

I'm adding some juicy information. Now keep in mind that blogging is simply gossip, according to esteemed City of Winter Haven Spokeswoman Joy "The Rumor Stops Here" Townsend, but this information is accurate:

In conjunction with the Hazardous Waste collection event, Keep Polk County Beautiful is hosting a tire recycling event at the same location: 3241 Lakeland Hills Boulevard in Lakeland.

Residents- read: NOT TIRE BUSINESSES- are invited to dispose of up to 10 regular-sized vehicle tires that are off the rims. By regular sized, I mean something that comes off of the average car, truck, wheelbarrow, lawn mower, bicycle, etc. Do not bring your bulldozer tires, your semi-truck tires or your monster mudders. These tires fill up the containers quickly.

Also, feel free to bring old cell phones and computer ink cartridges for KPCB to recycle.

Finally, this is a personal request: if you plan to dispose of any items during this free event, I ask that you bring a $1 bill to donate to Keep Polk County Beautiful.

This organization nearly had its county funding cut this year, due to necessary budget adjustments. The funding came through at the last minute, but as a member of the KPCB board of directors, I know it is a strong reality that the county may not be able to fund this worthwhile organization next fiscal year.

Keep Polk County Beautiful comes into contact with more than 100,000 volunteers and program participants each year. If each person would donate just $1, KPCB would not need county funding to continue the excellent work it does each day.

Let me put this into perspective: if you were to pay to dispose of your own tires at the Polk County landfill, you would be required to pay a fee PER TIRE. I'm just suggesting that you pay $1. Period.

I hope Polk County residents will come out and participate in this event on Saturday. Don't forget your dollar bill!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

American Idol- Results

Work is getting in the way of my A.I. blogging today. Sorry! -Lorrie

Chuck: The worst part of the results show is the AI producers dragging out who was voted off.


There. That's out of the way.

• Everly, Rightous, Hudson, Joyce, Jonas, Johnson, and now the Clark.

What are Brothers?

They weren't too bad if you like Christian Speed Metal.

• Dolly Parton is older than my Great Aunt Daisy was when I was my
daughter's age. Forget singing, I'm amazed she can still stand up for
three minutes.

At this point, Lorrie just thought "I was always amazed she could stand up."

• I'm calling to ask a question next week. Can you see it up on the
big screen behind Ryan.

Chuck, 29, Lakeland Florida
with a question for the American Idol producers

"Other than this question segment, what was the dumbest idea you've had
for American Idol?"

• Next week when she is in the Bottom Three, Kristy Lee with get
searched by an American Idol flunkie to make sure the "entertainer"
doesn't bring any props on stage.

• I predict that Michael Johns will be in the next Bottom Three.
No, I don't need to see the songs. I swear the falsely endangered person
is not the one with the third lowest votes. They are simply in the
Bottom Three to get face time and fans worried. That spot is reserved
for an AI producer's favorite.

• During the car commercial I am surprised they didn't take the
obvious joke and have Ramiele dunk.

• Every week the person voted off sings their farewell song much
better the night before. The solution: Seconds before each performance
have an AI flunkie whisper an appropriate announcement of doom to each
singer. What would they whisper?

Kristy Lee: We've discovered video of you and Brittney Spears at a club.
Spears acts like the sober one. Good Luck.

sYESha: Whitney Houston says if you sing one more of her songs she'll
cut you like she did Bobby. She's in the audience. Good Luck.

Jason: Ryan's a narc. Good Luck, Dude.

David A. : Your dad's not happy with his seat. Good Luck

Carley: The man in the dark suit wants to talk to you about your work
visa. Good Luck.

Brooke: Think of the poor children in Africa. Good Luck.

Michael Johns: Your wife is leaving you for Bob Geldof. Here's a belt.
Good Luck.

David Cook: (Reader participation moment. What do you
think they would say to David?)

• That's all I've got. See you next week when Kristy Lee finally

Lorrie: Ditto, ditto, and here here!

Ramiele is outta there. Finally! I called it right for a week!

CSX= Raw Deal for Florida Taxpayers

It's just downright frustrating how this CSX deal continues to smell like rotting flesh, yet Gov. Charlie Crist and every Orlando lawmaker continue to feed it to Florida taxpayers in heaping spoonfuls like it's chocolate cake.

Chuck over at Lakeland Local - AKA The Local- compiled some editorials on this issue the other day that I urge you to take a look at. Newspaper editorial writers from all over the state smell this rat, but the stench hasn't reached Tallahassee, apparently.

I'll probably write my elected officicials on this one. But at the risk of sounding like Debbie Downer, I fear it won't do any good.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Chuck & Lorrie Show- American Idol Top Nine

Pre-Show Banter

Lorrie: I almost missed the beginning of American Idol tonight, due to breaking news issues. For those of you not in "the know," Lakeland Local was purchased today by The Ledger. Well, this afternoon, I learned that Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd was preparing an eleventh-hour counter-offer to purchase the newly renamed "The Local" to create a second, online cyber-station.

As of press time, I was unable to confirm whether Chuck would be required to undergo a physical fitness test. In a phone interview this afternoon, Chuck said he would propose his own weapons qualification with his Cross pen. When I was like, "huh?" He said, "The pen is mightier than the malfunctioning Glock and bullets." Stay tuned...

Now on to the Idol...I predict that David Archulleta will dress up like a cowgirl and sing "9 to 5."

Stay with us, people. It's baseball season and we're lucky Chuck's even watching the Idol.

Brooke White- Joleen.

Chuck: Baseball season started yesterday, and it is "free baseball preview week" on cable so I had to switch around a lot tonight. First up for the AI Nine was Brooke "Fordy" White. Good hit, average power, not a time tested talent. But she's sure to get on base every week. That's why she's batting in the leadoff spot tonight.

She takes a fat pitch named Jolene and bangs out a double. Nice tone, pleasant delivery, gives a serious look at the end.

At second she calls time to confer with the coaches: Randy "The Straw that Stirs the Drink" Jackson tells her she's a nice girl. Paula "Spaceman" Abdul gets existensional with "You are who you are." likes some 21^st Century "I am who I am." Third base coach Simon "Spikes High"
Cowell's advice is lost in the crowd noise. Cameras catch White answering each coach with the same tone she uses off-season as a nanny.

Lorrie: This is one of my all-time favorites from Dolly Parton. I liked the version, but didn't love it. Dolly's version has a beautiful, eery quality to it that I adore.

Paula, AKA "Captain Obvious" was on par this evening with this comment: "You. Are. Brooke. White." "Wha.....?"

David Cook- Little Sparrow.

Chuck: Up second is catcher David "Pudge" Cook. Shaking off the coach's signal to bunt, he turns his own arrangement of Little Sparrow into a sharp single to third. The third baseman holds Brooke at Second, but can't get Cook out at First. Jackson, Abdul, and Cowell do that old baseball stand by "See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Say Some Evil" while the audience waits for the number three hitter.

Lorrie: I cringed slightly when I learned he would do his own arrangement. He's been so fortunate finding great rock versions of his past songs. Can he do it on his own? Why yes, kind A.I. fan, he can! I really liked this performance.

Ramielle Malubay- Do I Cross Your Mind?

Chuck: In a shocking turn of events, the solid singing Chikieze, is pulled for pinch-hitter Ramiele "Say Hey" Malubay. The little shortstop seems out of place singing "Do I Ever Cross Your Mind" in the important number three spot. Three pitches, and three strikes. She's out. She never got
the bat off her shoulder. The next mind we think she'll cross is the coach for the Single-A Miramar Sashimi.

Lorrie: Do I cross your mind? Um, less and less with each passing week, Girlie. She sounded a little shaky tonight, Dawg.

Jason Castro- Travelin' Through.

Chuck: The crowd takes a smoke break as clean up hitter Jason Castro comes to the plate. A lot people don't know Castro had a try out with the Washington Senators as a pitcher * . Obviously, he's out in left field these days. In a surprise move Castro bunts "Travelin' Thru" for a single. Jackson and Abdul give Castro a high five. Cowell glares over from third. The man doesn't like when the players miss signals.

Lorrie: My fingers want to curl up as I type this, but I have to say that this was a good song for him to sing. He'll sail on through tonight. My husband just said Jason is a hemp-snake Medusa.

Carly Smithson- Here You Come Again.

Chuck: Carly "Irish" Smithson steps up to the plate. Carly looks a little ragged tonight -- like a poor girl's Cher. She hits a note with "Here You Come Again" deeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep into right for a sliding triple. Jackson and Abdul respond with a minute of "Who's On First." We
never get tired of that. Cowell fines Carly for wearing her pants out of her stirrups.

Lorrie: I liked this slowed down, stripped down version. That's all I've got for this one.

David Archuleta- Smoky Mountain Memories.

Chuck: Because of his slump, fan favorite David Archuleta has dropped down to the sixth spot. Looking to get his swing back he steps up to the left side of the plate to sing Imagine. No wait, he steps over the plate to belt out "Smoky Mountain Memories" for a sliding double. It's an old
favorite of the coaches and they're pleased with the young phenom. However, the visiting coach notices the boy swings only at off-speed stuff. If he doesn't learn to hit the curve they may have to drop him down to AAA for some seasoning.

Lorrie: Ok, so my 9 to 5 prediction was wrong. Oh well. I think Simon will accuse him of singing songs too old for him again. And if he does, I will agree. But still, he has an amazing voice and he blew this song away.

Well, I was wrong. Again. And that's why I'm blogging here in the minor league and not for the big boys.

Kristy Lee Cook- Coat of Many Colors.

Chuck: Weak hitting "Shoeless" Kristy Lee Cooke tries to get some mojo back by borrowing team owner Dolly Parton's "Coat of Many Colors." The uniform doesn't help as she dribbles one to second base and is out by five feet. As she runs off she throws a kiss to third base coach Cowell. Is there love in the air?

Lorrie: Boring. When will she go HOME?!

SYESsha Mercado- I Will Always Love You.

Chuck: Batting eighth is utility infielder sYESha Mercado. Predictably she tries to carry a too-big Witney Houston model bat for her slap-hitting swing. She does hit one deeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep into left field, but it is foul. It's almost like Smithson and Mercado had a bet who could hit one farther. sYESha is called out on a third strike, but
reaches base when the catcher drops the ball. She serenades the catcher with her rendition of "I will always love you."

Lorrie: Well, well, well. I couldn't see THIS one coming from 17 miles away. Y'all, I don't like her hair tonight. If you're not Dolly or Whitney, you need to never sing this song. Ever. It seems that she bordered on nasally at the end. This is my favorite comment from my husband tonight, said as he looked over his newspaper long enough to take notice of sYESha's wardrobe selection: "That yellow and red just don't work. Makes her look like a fertilized egg." If you knew poultry like we know poultry, you'd be chuckling right now.

Dolly Parton is rumored to have said this about I Will Always Love You: "When I wrote that song, I opened up a bank account. When Whitney Houston performed it, I bought the bank."

Unless your voice enables Dolly to buy controlling ownership of Berkshire Hathaway, stay away from it, singers!

Michael Johns- "It's All Wrong, But It's All Right."

Chuck: That leaves pitcher Michael "Vegamite" Johns as the last AI batter of the night. A big fan of owner Parton, Michael puts on baseball's first ascot, and sings the blues with "It's All Wrong, But It's All Right." He makes it to first on a Fielder's Choice, when sYESha limps into second.

Lorrie: He to' this song UP! Lordy, was that good.

Chuck's Top Three: Carly, Brooke and David Cook score.

Lorrie's Top Three: Michael Johns, David Cook and Carly Smithson

Chuck's Bottom Three- Ramiele, sYESha, and Kristy Lee make the night's three outs. I predict we'll hear Ramiele is sent down to the minors tonight.

Lorrie's Bottom Three- Ramielle, Kristy Lee and sYESsha. Goodbye Ramielle.