Thursday, January 29, 2009

Idol auditions: San Juan and New York

I'm not going to blog Idol tonight. I'm just too tired. And I find that the longer these go on, the less I care.

So instead, I'm going to tell you about our winter storm adventure. It started late Monday night when there was a little bit of snow. On Tuesday, we went to work and got sent home early with instructions that on Wednesday, the office wouldn't be opening until 9:00. That's when the trouble started.

We live on a hill where there's one way up and one way down. There's also this nasty little S-curve that tends to freeze as water runs over it and the temperature drops. So at about 11:00 on Tuesday, we're heading home and each time we try to get up the hill, someone else is coming down, we lose our momentum and we have to stop.

After two tries, we gave up and walked the half-mile back to the house. The snow continued to fall until there was about two or three inches on the ground. At about 5:00, one of our neighbours told us that a couple of guys with a 4-wheeler and a snowplow had cleared a lane so I went to get the car.

Tuesday night was snowy, but we knew that the snow was going to switch over to freezing rain and then it was going to snow some more.

On Wednesday morning, we got up at 8:00, then were getting ready to drive off the hill. We called the same neighbour up the street and he told us that some trees had fallen and were blocking the road. Hoping to avoid being late, I called the weather update line at work and found out that the office was being closed.

According to the old-timers who've worked there forever, the office never closes.

So we waited a little while and then called our neighbour back. He and some friends had gotten out their chainsaws and had cleared a path down the hill. Even though we didn't have to go to work, we decided to check up on Mrs. High Lord's mother, who wasn't answering her phone.

When we got there, we found her about to start a fire in her fireplace. The same fireplace she has never used before in the 10 years she's been in her condo. Her power was out and two of her phones are cordless (and don't work when there's no power). She has another phone, but it's in a back room and she wasn't wearing her hearing aid so she couldn't hear us calling.

Mrs. High Lord and I packed my MIL and her damn dog in the car and took her to our house. Along the way, my stepson called and said that his girlfriend had to be at work and didn't want to drive herself. They also needed someone to watch their kid. So on top of my MIL, her damn dog, we had a 10 month old baby.

That was fun. Not.

After we got everyone home (did I mention that after all this we had to take my MIL home, take my stepson's girlfriend and the baby home and and we had to pick him up at work, then we hit some black ice and spun out along the way), we watched Idol and I stayed up for a little while playing a city-building game on the computer.

At about 11:30, the power flickered a couple of times and then went out. I figured that they were working on a power line somewhere because the people on the other end of the hill were without power. I went to bed, figuring that the electricity would come back sometime in the middle of the night.

When our cell phone alarms went off at 6:15, the power was still out. Mrs. High Lord got up and was lighting candles when I called the weather line at work. We were told not to report until 9:00. So an hour later, the power is still out and we had to go to work. I brushed out my hair, skipped the shower (we had hot water, but the rest of the bathroom was all of 55°), then went to work.

All day long at work, we didn't have any power, so we were plotting to go to my MIL's for the night, but while we were at dinner, thankfully the power came back on. So that's what we've been doing for the past two days.

I know it's not as dramatic as the people in Oklahoma and Kentucky who may be without power until the middle of February, but not having electricity sucks. Having to bum internet access of stranger sucks, too.

So if you're freezing tonight, please find some place warm to go (not that you're reading my blog) and don't sleep too close to a propane heater that gives off way too much carbon monoxide.

I've got some pix to post, including a couple of my car encased in snow and ice, that will be coming later.

Idol is on the TV next to my computer and the chunky girl who was in 700 or so contests deserved to get whacked and the wannabe-naked chick was actually pretty good. Note that if she survives Hollywood, WNC just earned the first of this year's High Lord Honourifics.

High Lord. Out.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Idol auditions: Winter Weather Alert edition

Tonight the Idol auditions are in Salt Lake City. Unfortunately, because of the storm that has been running through the midwest, my access to the Interweb has been up and down like a basketball. At this moment, it's working but I'm not counting on it all night.

So I'm going to watch Idol and hope this episode is better than the trip to Jax last night, but I'm not going to blog beyond this.

If you were caught in the storm, I hope you got through it. If you avoided the storm, you got lucky.

High Lord. Out.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Idol auditions: Jacksonville

Howdy, folks.

I know I've been kind of a slacker of late, but rest assured, I'm working on my vacation diary for my latest cruise and I promise that there will be lots of food porn on the way.

Tonight Idol is in my second home, the beautiful city of Jacksonville, Florida. I lived there for six years ('91-97) and if I hadn't moved to the great state of West Virginia, I'd probably still be there. The last time I was there was on the 4the of July when I picked up my new car in Lakeland and then drove it home. I stopped by and visited with my old college roommate, Bryan, who still lives in Orange Park.

I can't believe how much the place has changed. I almost didn't recognise the place. I drove by my old apartment off Old St. Augustine Road then stopped in at UNF for a trip around the loop road. So to everyone in Jax, hello and if Mrs. High Lord ever leaves me, I'll be coming home!

The auditions have been ponderous for me this year. Thankfully, there are fewer trainwrecks on TV this season, and the "inspirational" stories are of the obligatory sob type. I wonder how many of the people are actually going to make the top 36 who will actually get to sing for votes. It seems they're handing votes to some of them, but then again, I can't complain about the emphasis on people other than the bad, self-aware singers.

It seems that they're in Amelia Island, not Jax. I've got a funny story about a girl I knew from Amelia Island: Her name was Kristen and she didn't get out much. She was one of those stereotypical, rich girls from a sheltered family (the same vibe I got from the girl who brought her dog to the audition) who lived in an insular little world. We lived in the same dorm at UNF and took a class on city/urban management. As part of this class, we took a tour of the then-new city jail. Kristen got her first glimpse of marijuana, crack cocaine and a street-modified assault weapon. Also as part of the tour, we passed an area where men were being held while awaiting arraignment.

"Hey, that guy in the yellow shirt is kind of cute," Kristen says. The jaws on everyone else in the class dropped.

The professor had to say something like, "I know we live in a country where people are presumed innocent until proven guilty, but if a guy is in jail waiting to see a judge, you might not want to go out with him."

I'm also unhappy with my beloved Jacksonville Jaguars this season. I know every team has good years and bad years, but I was really expecting more from them this year. Injuries will kill a team, huh?

I consider myself an "original" Jaguars fan. In fact, when Jax got the team, I drove down to JC Penny's at The Avenues and was the 7th person in line for one of the brand spanking new Jaguars t-shirts. I still have it and it has the "old" design, the one Jaguar (the car make) sued them over. In fact, WJXT was there and they showed me buying the shirt on TV. I wanted to buy season tickets when they were first offered (this was before you had to pay a "personal seat license" for the "right" to buy tickets), but they wanted a three year commitment, and I didn't know if I was going to be there that long.

After coming back from the first break, the next few singers are awful. Julissa (Miss Latina USA) violates Rule #1 of American Idol: Thou shalt not sing Whitney, Mariah or Celine unless thou are actually Whitney, Mariah or Celine, and still she gets through. She'll be gone in the first cuts.

So who's going to see the new Star Trek Movie? That would be me. And you, too. You know you're going.

In other commentary, how about Ellen Tigh being the 5th cylon. So what does that make Starbuck? Is she a cylon? Or something else? i.e.--The Harbinger of Death. And how about Dualla shooting herself unexpectedly? I didn't see that one coming. Nor did I see them making the 13th tribe being cylons. Of course, that means that really wasn't Earth, right? There are only four episodes left; how's this show going to end?

And what's going to happen on Idol now that Kara is feeling Seacrest up? We're thirty-five minutes into the show and I'm not moved by anyone who has gone so far.

The thing that has made me happiest tonight is finding out that Donnie Osmond is going to be on DWTS. Hey, Donnie, I will vote for you if I can make out with your sister!

Where is there a gator farm in Jacksonville? I can't remember there being one. But then again, I was there for six years and only went to the beach twice. I did spend a lot of time at Adventure Landing, though (drinking and then driving the go-karts) and at Yoshi's on Baymeadows Road putting sushi away.

The physics student from FSU worries me. I know people who were in that physics program. At FSU, near the physics building there's a girl's dorm. Between the two buildings, there's a little patch of grass that is used for sunbathing in the spring and summer. It's a nice spot to lay out, especially since it's very visible from West Tennessee Street. What the cute co-eds don't seem to know is that beneath the lawn is a particle accelerator. The people in the physics department call it "Nuclear Beach: Where you get tanned from the inside out." His audition doesn't surprise me.

What did surprise me is that they didn't immediately put Ann Marie though. Instead, Simon made her go change. WTF?!?!? They put through little dog girl with her so-so voice and made this one come back? That's not right!!!! Ann Marie has a good voice and is pretty; what else do they want?

The whiney 18 year-old guitar player needs to be smacked around.

Ann Marie gets some make-up done and loses her jacket then comes back for more. She's going last which means that she's going to Hollywood.

I'm still underwhelmed by the audition episodes. I am sooooooo ready for Hollywood. It can't come soon enough.

And then we get our first shot of The Arch. I threw up just a little bit in my mouth. I think I may call into work sick tomorrow (unless they close the office again due to inclement weather).

High Lord. Out.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Idol auditions: Louisville

Quick: How do you pronounce the capitol of Kentucky? Is it LOO-E-ville or LOO-iss-ville?

Got the answer yet?


Last night, I was underwhelmed by the auditions. I'm hoping there is more to the fourth episode of auditions.

Before the show really starts, I'd like to take a quick moment to mention a very dear friend of the family. Karen Andriot, who lived with her husband and sons in Louisville, died this past Friday. She was a good friend of Mrs. High Lord's and she had been living with Huntington's Disease all of her life.

Huntington's Disease is a degenerative neurological disorder that mixes the worst of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. To learn more, visit the Huntington's Disease Society of America. Karen, we're going to miss you.

Now back to the Idol.

The first girl has the personality of a pancake and the voice of a meerkat. Blech. I guess it's good they started with her; things can only get better.

It's good that Jennifer is blogging again. All is right with the world.

The same cannot be said of the auditions so far. Yawn.

I'm about to ditch the show and watch last week's Battlestar Galactica so I can find out who the fifth of the Final Five cylons are.

While I'm waiting for the redneck in the blue shirt to stop taking up space on my TV, I'd like to point everyone to the Top 10 Star Wars-Sports Crossovers and the Top 10 Celebrities in Star Wars Clothing or Costumes. I can't believe Jennifer Anniston dressed as Slave Girl Leia wasn't #1.

The next guy is also aiiiiiight, although Simon goes out of way to torture him.

Meanwhile, check out this hi-freakin'-larious banned condom commercial. Don't start the video if you're at work or your kids are around.

Now it's time for the inevitable montage of craptastic singers and they are truly horrific. What I think is the worst part of the audition shows are the self-aware bad singers. The whole "the auditions are the best part because everyone is so bad" used to be funny because the people were apparently oblivious to how bad they actually were. Now, people go on knowing that they can't sing, but they just want to be on TV and that is what has ruined the audition rounds.

Is anyone out there actually giving the Cards seven points? I think they have about a one in three chance of winning the game outright because their offense is scary-good and their newly-resurgent defense is opportunistic and flying completely under the radar. I think the Steelers are rightly the favourite, but you shouldn't be surprised if the Cards are in the game or even ahead going into the final two-minute drill.

As much as I complain about how the "inspirational" sob stories are like handing people votes, I will say that we are seeing fewer of the wackos this year. I only hope they level the playing field once the Hollywood and voting rounds start.

Earlier today, I was wondering who this years Archuleta was going to be. You know, the one singer they over-hype and manipulate the legions of preteens into voting for based on face time and obviously-biased judges comments. Anyone got any bets on who that person is this season? The follow-up question is, of course, who will this year's Dadchuleta be?

There are five minutes in the show and I'm already done for the night. I just don't care at this point. I hope Hollywood and the Wild Card gets me back into the show.

High Lord. Out.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Idol auditions: San Francisco

Howdy, ya'll!

I hope everyone has had a good off-season. My DVR recorded the first two episodes, but since I generally hate this stage of the "competition", I haven't watched them yet.

The cruise was great; it sucks being back in the great state of West Virginia. Last week this time, I was on a ship in 80° weather; it wasn't 16° outside like it is tonight. Not only did I manage to not gain any weight, but I got a tan, too. The bad news is that my sunglasses are at the bottom of the bay in Phillipsburg, St. Maarten. I'll tell you about that later.

So what have I missed? Supposedly, they're focusing more on the inspirational singers than the trainwrecks in the auditions; is that happening this year? I've also heard that the new judge, Kara, is a positive addition to the show. Is that right?

As this show opens, the goofy giggling girl is trying too hard. I wouldn't put her through, but apparently the outfit got her to the next round (or maybe it was the "naughty" photo). Damn, her laugh is annoying. Maybe even more annoying than The Arch.

What I don't understand about the show is the need for the fourth judge. They can't come in under time with three people running their yaps. So what gives? Are they going to limit the "you're gay, no you're gay" banter between Seacrest and Simon? Or are they going to cut down on the 90 seconds each of the singers get to be on stage?

In other news, how 'bout them Steelers? And those Cards?!?!?!?! Who saw this Super Bowl matchup about six weeks ago? You there, in the back, sit down. If Arizona's defense goes on a tear and the offense jumps out to a quick lead, I don't see Ben Roethlisberger being able to dig out of a big hole.

The guy bringing his kids in to the audition was kind of a cheap ploy for points. I don't see him surviving the first cuts in Hollywood.

I had to work today and you'd think that the federal government would have the inauguration on in its buildings, but no, we practically had to beg to have it shown in the break rooms. Does anyone know what "Cardiac" Dick Cheney was doing in a wheelchair? Did that guy he shot take his revenge? And what about Chief Justice John Roberts screwing up the Oath of Office?

In other news, it's good to be starting a new era in the US. No I don't mean having the first black president (although it will be good to see whitey taken down a notch). No, I mean an end to the reign of terror that has been perpetrated by Dubya and is ideological cronies over the past eight years.

Hey, Barack, can we get our civil rights back now?

Despite all the rhetoric about this being historic, the fact of the matter is that Obama is facing perhaps the most difficult job facing a president in close to thirty years. The President of the United States, regardless of his skin colour, religion, sexual orientation or anything else, has two jobs: peace and money.

Dubya has failed us on both fronts. He's invaded two countries, one under false pretenses (Iraq) and mismanaged the other (Afghanistan). His de-regulatory, favour-the-rich attitude towards the economy has left it in shambles. Any hopes for moderate economic policy were dashed with the collapse of the stock market. In the wake of the Enron fiasco, the sub-prime mortgage mess and stock market that is down almost 40%, we will now swing wildly towards over-regulation, rather than taking a sensible--and more prudent--middle course that would benefit everyone in the long-term.

I hope Obama can deliver on even half of his promise. He is a remarkable individual; more people are engaged in the process than any time that I can remember. The trick for him will be to turn his back on the divisive partisan politics of Dubya and go back to the consensus-building tactics of Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan.

If our new president can get us out of a bad war and ensure our security and return the economy to health by the end of his first term, he'll be fine. If not, we'll be looking for a new guy in 2012.

I have been underwhelmed by the folks I've seen tonight. There are still too many trainwrecks. The sob stories are obvious vote-getting ploys. Kara fits in nicely at the table, although I still think they've got one too many seats. I think either Paula or Randy will be gone next year.

That's it for me tonight. Tomorrow we're in Louisville (that's pronounced LOO-vul, for you yankees), so check back with us then.

High Lord. Out.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

It's that time of year again!

I know everyone is excited about the new season of my favourite guilty pleasure: American Idol.

There are apparently lots of changes this year, most notably the departure of Nigel Lythgoe and the addition of a fourth judge at the table, but also some minor ones, like an emphasis on the "inspirational" singers in the audition rounds rather than the trainwrecks.

In case you've been checking back over the past six months or so, you'll notice that my countdown ticker on the right side of this page has almost come up.

Yes, friends, next week, Mrs. High Lord and I are going on a Caribbean cruise. Have no fear, I'm only missing the first week of the auditions rounds and my trusty DVR will record those episodes (along with The Big Bang Theory and the last half-season of Battlestar Galactica).

When I get back, I'll be sure to regale you with tales of my vacation, pictures of food and all the Idol you can stomach from now until May. Plus DWTS when it returns in March.

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and that this year's Idol will bring back everything that was good about the show, incorporate everything that makes Rock Star a better competition and jettison all of the garbage (viewer phone calls: I'm talking to you).

Check back around MLK Day!