May 31

Celebrity Chef/Author Maria Liberati Coming to BlogTopix.Net!

Maria LiberatiFormer international model turned celebrity chef and author, Maria Liberati will be leaving her mark on the World Wide Web with the upcoming launch of her virtual book tour for her bestseller, The Basic Art of Italian Cooking, beginning on June 4, 2007 and concluding on June 28, 2007.

This month long virtual tour will venture through eight Internet sites maintained by writers and bloggers throughout the world. Web savvy fans can look forward to exclusive interviews and blogs with Ms. Liberati, as she virtually devotes one day to each stop on her tour. She will be sharing everything about her writing experiences from recommendations on vegetarian Italian cooking to the influence of Italian cinema, and even tips for writing about food.

Join Maria and I at BlogTopix.Net on June 28th, 2007.

If you have any questions you’d like to ask about writing, publishing, cooking, Italian food or cinema, or anything else you’re curious about be sure to contact me, or leave a comment. I’ll make sure she gets your questions.

Here’s the best part:

Portions of the proceeds of the book sales raised through the book tour will benefit Gilda’s Club, www.gildasclubnyc.org, a worldwide nonprofit organization that provides support to cancer victims.

For more information on the virtual tour, contact primamedia12@yahoo.com or call 1-800-581-9020 x.100. You can also drop me a note.

Visit Maria on the web at www.marialiberati.com or view her virtual calendar at www.myspace.com/marialiberati.

May 29

Memorial Day Boating Incident

How was our Memorial Day at the lake?

I think it can best be summed up by reading Othurme’s post about it.

He makes it sound worse than it was. I’m sunburned and sore, the gig went fine, and save for the last ten minutes that we performed (which were spent shivering in a fierce wind) the weather was perfect!

Things will return back to normal tomorrow, hopefully.

May 29

I Love Dorks

I had to watch Craig’s newest video entitled, The C-Team three times because I was laughing so hard that I kept missing parts of it.

If I were single and 10 years younger…

Who am I kidding? From the looks of him, I’d snap him like a twig.

May 25

Memorial Day Weekend

Look, it’s the Friday of a three day weekend.

Those of you who are actually at work today know that you’re not going to get anything accomplished, right?

So in honor of spending the day pretending to do some work, I’m going to give you a game to play for the afternoon. I know it’s kinda silly, but it’s addictive. You needed something to do anyway.

I may take the weekend off from all of the blogging, writing, web design, etc work I have been doing. I’ve got a gig at the lake tomorrow and may be going boating with Othurme on our boat beforehand. So if you don’t hear anything out of me, don’t be concerned.

Have a great holiday!

[Update: I removed the embedded game so that it won’t continue talking to you for the rest of the week. You can play the game by clicking this link: COLORBURST.]

May 24

Fun with Anagrams

I was Stumbling around tonight and found a cool site called the “Internet Anagram Server.”

The idea is you pick a word or phrase hit “go” and it will spit out a list of all the possible words and phrases that can be made from your entry.

I tried my full name and got these gems*:

  • ANAL HAIR UPROARS
  • ANAL HAIR ROARS UP

I think I have a new favorite phrase, “Don’t get your anal hair in an uproar!”

  • ANAL HARP AIR SOUR

This music really stinks.

  • NASAL HAIR UPROAR

Apparently the nose is upset, too.

  • AROUSAL HARP RAIN

Can anyone spare a kleenex? A tube sock?

  • AURAL ORPHAN SARI

Nothing cuter than singing Indian orphans. Or is that a lonely magic Sari that sings?

  • AURAL AIR RASP HON

What several singers on American Idol seemed to be afflicted with last night.

  • AURORAS HAIR PLAN

What do you think, ponytail? Up do? French braid? Hmm…

  • AURORAS HARP NAIL

They used to call that a “coke nail” but whatever you say…

  • AH! URINAL OAR SPAR

I’ve heard of a “urinal cake” but I’ve never heard of a “urinal oar.” Could this be the next Olympic sport?

And finally what is probably the freakiest and most appropriate of all of them… I swear I’m not making this up… :

  • A PARIAH RURAL SON

Does your name make anything fun?

* I can only imagine the havoc this post is going to have on my google search results.

May 23

The American Idol Finale

American IdolSo we’re finally here, after all the craziness that was this season. After all the Antonella Barba scandals, the Sanjaya Malakar hair and vocal disasters, we’re going to crown the American Idol tonight. And I think I’m not alone in my assessment that regardless of who wins tonight, the person who deserves the title most, Melinda Doolittle, isn’t getting it.

Jordin has been projected as tonight’s winner.

The show kicks off with a duet of the Beatles’ “I Saw Her Standing There.” I just can’t buy Blake Lewis falling in love with Jordin Sparks, so the song is a little weird for me. The performance was ok, though.

Gwen Stefani is joining the program via satellite to perform her new single, “All I Know.” Oh how I wish No Doubt would get back together so we could stop being subjected to this weird alien that the solo Gwen has become. What is this weird dress she is wearing with all the bows and tassels on the back and black leggings. Just weird all around.

Kelly Clarkson is making her second appearance of the season on the American Idol stage. She’s performing her new single, “Never Again.” What exactly has happened to Kelly? She’s beginning to look less like a pop star and more like a Texas soccer mom. She’s got the poofy banged ponytail, double chin and rocking an ass that is considerably larger than it was just a few short months ago. This song is trying very hard to channel rocker-chick groups like Heart. She is not in the best voice tonight, either, sounding pretty raspy on the money notes. Girl needs to get her act together soon if she’s going to have the strength to tour with her new CD.

Richard Gere and Jodie Foster in SommersbyThey instituted the Golden Idol awards last year and have carried it over to this year. The award for “Best Presentation” went to Margaret Fowler, the giant Tweedy Bird. She literally kissed Ryan to the floor and did a booty shake. I haven’t seen a kiss that uncomfortable since Richard Gere and Jodie Foster in “Sommersby.” She shared a poem.

I think it’s quite appropriate that Jerry Springer is in the audience for that bit.

The top 6 guys are out to perform with an arrangement by Take 6 of Smokey Robinson’s “Ooh Baby Baby.” I miss Brandon Rogers. This is a reunion of everyone who got screwed by Sanjaya. Oh look here, it’s Smokey himself, or at least a waxy facsimile of him. Seriously, the line of acceptable plastic surgery has been crossed when your eyebrows now reside in the space previously occupied by your hairline. They’re doing a medley of Robinson hits, “Being With You,” and “Tears of a Clown.” The vocals during this number were great. The choreography was sharp, and even the presence of Phil Stacey and the lisper Chris Sligh couldn’t ruin it. Phil should not wear white. I know that

Doug E Fresh and Blake are out to perform a “Beat Box Celebration.” I’m certainly not a fan of rap/hip hop music. I just never have gotten into it. This is extremely entertaining however. I don’t know how they make those sounds with their mouths. I suspect witchcraft.

Golden Idol time with the “Most Original Vocal” award… the winner is Sholandric Stallworth who graced us originally with “If Ever You’re In My Arms Again.” He projected an odd version of “Silent Night” sans microphone to the back of the Kodak Theater.

The top 6 girls are up next with Gladys Knight’s “I Heard it Through The Grapevine.” It’s a bit weak. Gladys of course came out on stage to join them in a medley. I don’t miss Haley Scarnato, Stephanie Edwards, or Lakesha Jones at all. It’s good to see Gina Glocksen again, though. It’s heartbreaking to see Melinda up there knowing that she should have won. “Midnight Train to Georgia” ended up being a very good vocal performance.

Tony Bennett was able to make it tonight. It’s good to see him up and about, since he was sick the night he was supposed to perform earlier in the season. He’s performing “For Once In My Life.” Tony is really the last of his kind. When he dies we will have lost all of our great vocalists of the 20th century. He sounds amazing for being a man well into his 80’s.

Golden Idol time with the “Best Buddies” award. Jonathan and Kenneth won this one.. you’ll remember the “Bush Baby” and the rotund overgrown baby. American Idol sponsored a bush baby on his behalf, at the Milwaukee Zoo named Simon.

Melinda Doolittle is back to sing with BeBe and CeCe Winans, with whom she used to sing background. Melinda should have no problems believing that she is no longer a backing vocalist after this experience. She is out singing the Winans which is no small feat.

Jordin and Blake just received Ford Mustangs. Who’s the sponsor of this show again?

Carrie Underwood is up next to reprise her performance of “I’ll Stand By You” which she debuted on the Idol Gives Back program. I really wanted Bo Bice to win the year he was up against Carrie. I have grown to really like her though. She has made smart decisions about her music and career and she has become a very good performer.

Clive Davis is making his first appearance of the season. Usually he shows up for the top 3. He’s here to give a state of the Idol address. Chris Daughtry is the biggest selling artist of the year. He has sold over 2.5 million albums. He’s giving a special toast for “songwriters who make the hits.” And he’s now honoring Carrie Underwood with an award to commemorate 6 million album sales of her debut album.

The African Children’s Choir is back. Don’t ask me what they are singing. My best guess is “Ay Ee Oh That’s My Ma,” complete with a frantic pant inducing choreography that would leave me on the stage blue in the face and gasping.

And now a tribute to Sanjaya Malakar. Did they just compare him to Albert Einstein and Ghandi? He’s here to perform “You Really Got Me” with Joe Perry from Aerosmith. The only thing these two have in common is a love for their hair. What kind of a world is this where we can reward shiteous singing by letting him sing with one of the great guitar gods? Christ I’m glad that is over.

Green Day is onstage to perform “Working Class Hero” from the new John Lennon tribute album, Instant Karma. The proceeds from the sale of this album are going to Darfur-related charities. You can find more information on the album and the charity at the Instant Karma website. Great performance from Green Day.

Taylor Hicks is back on the Idol stage. He’s performing a song from his album, “Heaven Knows.” It’s got a real cool soul groove including a Ray Charles sample. I really like Taylor’s album. It’s a shame that he’s not getting the radio airplay that he deserves. He looks even more comfortable on stage now than he did last year. Amazing what a year can do for you.

Jordin Sparks and Ruben Studdard are singing a duet of “You’re All I Need to Get By” from Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell. I forget how good Ruben’s voice is because his albums were steaming heaping piles of crap. What was up with that “Sorry 2004” song? Seriously? This is a great performance from the two of them. Very nice.

Bette Midler is on the AI stage performing “Wind Beneath My Wings.” Big surprise here, but I’m a huge Bette Midler fan. I love her movies, her music, her stage show… she’s just amazing. Bette’s not in very good voice tonight, either that or the sound system is a bit funky cause she’s a little off key. Paula and Randy did a little dance number.

My aunt asked me if I saw that Bette is looking more like Meryl Streep every year. I said they must have the same surgeon.

And now a tribute to “Sgt Pepper’s.” (Hey! Didn’t I talk about this last night with Randy’s ugly jacket?) Kelly Clarkson is out with Joe Perry doing the title song. She is channeling Janis Joplin. Taylor Hicks is out to perform, “A Day in the Life” and is doing a fantastic job. There was not a guy singer this year that could even touch Taylor.

Carrie Underwood sings “She’s Leaving Home” with backing vocals from the top 6 girls. Simply beautiful.

Ruben Studdard came out to sing “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.” He’s got the top 12 backing him up.

Now the top 12 are singing “With a Little Help from My Friends.”

I wonder how many people watching this show have any idea that these are all Beatles songs? Or if they have any idea what Sgt Peppers is all about? Here’s the wikipedia entry: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Alright, the moment of truth has arrived to crown Jordin the American Idol. 74 million votes came in.

Congratulations Jordin Sparks!

I really hate this song, “This Is My Now.” Awful. Sappy. Syrupy. Oh well, I can still look forward to Blake Lewis and Melinda Doolittle putting out albums.

Jordin Sparks

May 23

The Final 2

American IdolWe’re on the big stage at the Kodak Theater tonight. We’re down to the final 2. My girl Melinda went home last week, which means this week is going to be hard to get through without her. Luckily I’ve got Blake to keep me entertained this week.

Randy Jackson is wearing something straight out of Sgt Pepper’s. Weird.

I’m loving the Seattle montage. Both Jordin and Blake auditioned there, which as you may recall was the worst audition city ever.

Blake won the coin toss last week, so he will get to sing first.

Blake Lewis first performance is a reprise of “You Give Love a Bad Name” from Bon Jovi week. This was an incredible break out performance for him several weeks ago. It was the first song that he completely retooled and it paid off big. The performance tonight was just as cool and exciting. He incorporated a bit more beat boxing and changed it up even more. Simon summed it up with this, “You’re not the best singer in the competition, but you are the best performer.”

Jordin Sparks is next with “Fighter” from Christina Aguilera. I’m of the opinion that there are very few performers who should attempt to sing a Christina Aguilera song. I’m afraid that Jordin is not one of them. It felt like she struggled through the whole performance. She was having trouble keeping up with the band. Randy thought she sounded amazing. Simon thought it was a bit shrieky.

Blake’s second performance is doing Maroon 5’s “She Will Be Loved.” I completely love him doing M5 songs. And very smart of him to do it the same day that their new album dropped. This performance is proving to me what kind of artist he could be. He fits in to everything I like in pop music. Jason Mraz, M5, Keane, even Coldplay… he’s going to fit into that group quite nicely. Simon thought the song was a bad choice. He said it was too safe.

Anyone else find it strange that Marlee Matlin is the audience tonight?

Jordin is back to perform “Broken Wing” from Martina McBride. She performed this for Country Week. I remember her version was a bit shaky the first time. Simon predicted then that she could win American Idol with her performance. Tonight’s version was better than the last time. It wasn’t as rough and shaky in the opening. There’s no question that Jordin is a good vocalist, but at this stage of the competition, it is just as much about performance and entertainment as it is about singing.

“This Is My Now” is the winning number in the songwriting competition. Both Blake and Jordin have to perform it.

Blake is first.

This song is not really a “Blake” song obviously. I think this is a fundamental problem with picking one song and making the artist conform to it. It’s not a good representation of what he can do. It was an awful performance. The song is dreadful, schlocky and syrupy. Nothing about that makes me think of Blake. I can only hope that voters understand that… and I’m sure that this is exactly the type of song that Jordin is going to nail.

Let’s see.

Exactly what I thought. This song could have been written for Jordin. It may have been, in fact. There’s no question that she nailed this song. She even cried at the end. Simon said she “wiped the floor with Blake on that song.” And he’s absolutely right.

So it’s going to come down to entertainment value and artistry versus stronger vocals.

My problem with Jordin is that I don’t think she has anything really “special” about her voice. She’s a good singer, despite some shaky pitch issues all along. She is only going to get better as she ages. However, I don’t think there’s anything about her that stands out and excites me.

Blake on the other hand is already an artist. His voice is unique. His style is unique. When you hear him you know it’s him. He’s confident and solid in his genre.

That being said, I think it’s entirely possible that Jordin will win.

My votes went to Blake.

Christ Daughtry apparently performed, however since the show ran long my Tivo didn’t get his performance. I’m going to have to go to YouTube to find it. I’m sure it was hot, though. His album is incredible.

Tomorrow night is a 2 hour spectacular. Last year it included some AMAZING performances from Mary J Blige, Al Jarreau, Toni Braxton, Meatloaf, Live, Burt Bacharach, Dionne Warwick, Carrie Underwood, Clay Aiken and Prince.

I can’t wait to see who they have this year.

May 22

Maroon 5 Album Released Today

Just in case you didn’t get enough music in my last post, jump over to my review of the new Maroon 5 album, It Won’t Be Soon Before Long on N2Notes.com.

It’s hard to write a review when you’re dancing in your seat and trying very hard (quite unsuccessfully) to avoid sounding like a drooling and crying 13 year old.

Shut up. Back me up here, Bianca!

May 22

Groovy Tunes for Tuesday

Thought I’d share a few tunes with you today just to give you some midweek pleasure.

Heh. Heh. Midweek pleasure.

I picked these for the head-bop-inducing grooves that are perfect for dancing around your living room (alone of course). Don’t hold me responsible if you fall and break a hip.

MaxwellFirst up is an artist that I have discovered most people know nothing about… and I just don’t understand why he didn’t catch on. I heard this song, “Ascension” at Faces in Sacramento several years ago. The video is sex on celluloid. And Maxwell could not be hotter.

[audio:Ascension.mp3]

Next up is a Canadian group, soulDecision. They had some moderate success about six years ago. They also had a really hot video with the song “Faded”.

[audio:Faded.mp3]

This song, “Mama’s Room” by Under the Influence of Giants came out last year. I included this album on my Top Picks of 2006. I can’t sit still while this song is on.

[audio:MamasRoom.mp3]

Here’s a great older song that I’m lobbying hard for Total Eclipse to cover. “Smoke from a Distant Fire” by the Sanford Townsend Band.

[audio:SmokefromaDistantFire.mp3]

Does anyone remember Maxi Priest? I absolutely loved his song from the 80’s called “Close to You.” He came out with an album called The Man With The Fun around 1995 that had a Top 40 hit, “That Girl” on it. This is my favorite track from that album, “Watching the World Go By.”

[audio:WatchingTheWorldGoBy.mp3]

Oh and hey…. if you’re thinking about downloading any of these songs or albums from iTunes or buying from Amazon, how about using my affiliate links (it doesn’t cost you anything!)?

Apple iTunes

May 21

Yahoo!

Nearly six years ago I got an email in my Yahoo personals inbox. It was a short introduction and lots of talk about music and performing. I didn’t get the feeling that he was really interested in meeting or anything like that. We corresponded for a period of several weeks. He was a California native, but was writing from Reno. He was trying to get out a bad (abusive) long-term relationship and was temporarily staying with his sisters.

We briefly discussed meeting, but the distance was an issue at the time.

One day the emails stopped. There was no reason for it, no disagreement or sense that he was no longer interested. Just nothing.

I soon forgot all about him. I went on about my life, dated a few losers and a couple of guys that I was really into who ended up being complete flakes. I moved from a house I shared with my aunt and Swampie in Fairfield to my very own apartment in Berkeley.

Since I was no longer commuting 45 miles one way, I discovered that I had a lot of time on my hands. And since I was living by myself I discovered that I was really really bored. I found myself digging through my Yahoo email account and watching the progression of losers who had answered my personal ad.

There was the guy who conveniently “forgot” his wallet and stuck me with a 150 dollar bar tab. Oh, look, there’s the guy who showed up wearing more makeup than any man should ever be seen in. Oooh! There’s the guy who on our first date asked me how long he would have to wait before I bought him an expensive gift. He’s still waiting….

And then there were the emails from LUVRMIKE. Once I started rereading them I suddenly remembered the details of our conversations and wondered where on earth he had disappeared. On a whim, I dropped him a quick email asking if he remembered me and hoping that he was alright. More than nine or ten months had passed since we had last talked.

I was pleasantly surprised when I received a response the next day. It turns out that LUVRMIKE had ended up going back to his boyfriend and stopped emailing me because he was trying to make things work. They didn’t work out and he had finally ended the 7 year relationship three or four months prior to my email. He was back to living in California.

I wrote him back and asked him out on a date. He wrote back almost immediately. He was online, so I sent him an instant message. Less than two hours later I was walking to the BART (our subway) station to meet him. I had no idea what he looked like, as he didn’t have a picture online. He had seen mine.

I’m always a bit leery of meeting people without seeing a picture first. I don’t want to be rude if there’s no physical attraction at all, and I have met more than my fair share of liars and for lack of a better word, uglies. He described the shirt he would be wearing and was going to wait for me at the station.

As I approached the station I didn’t see anyone who fit the description I had in my head. And frankly, saying, “I’ll have on a grey striped shirt” isn’t nearly as specific as you might think. The train had just emptied out and the mass of people was clearing out when I noticed that there was a really good looking guy standing by himself aimlessly looking around. His shirt was grey with a single white stripe on the chest.

I stood still for a bit, just watching and waiting for the ugly guy that I was going to have a date with to arrive. As the last of the people cleared out it was just me and the hot guy standing around. He still hadn’t looked in my direction. I had either been stood up, or this guy had obviously confused my photo with someone hot.

I called the name “Michael” out sort of loudly, in that I’m-just-seeing-if-you’re-listening-for-your-name kind of way. The hot guy turned and saw me, smiled and walked over.

After dinner we went back to my apartment and watched Moulin Rouge. I only had one chair in my living room, so roughed in on the floor. He was totally engrossed in the movie and by the end he was crying. We started talking about all the music in the movie and our favorites. I took him into my computer and played several songs by artists he had never heard of. When we next looked at the clock it was nearly 1:30 am and the last train had left over an hour before. He was stranded.

So of course I offered to let him stay over. *innocent smile*

Five days later, he came back to my place for our second date.

He never left.

Happy Fifth Anniversary, Michael. I love you.

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