Thursday, May 21, 2009

Allow Me to Present...

The newest American Idol...


So I didn't pick Kris from the beginning (indeed, I'm pretty sure they didn't even show his audition the first time around, though I could be wrong), but toward the start of the top 13 I could tell he was a genuine talent and a sincere guy. I was proud to have been able to watch a two-plus hour finale in under an hour (honestly, this show makes me more grateful than ever for DVR), and even though Julie was sure Kris would pull the upset, I was just worried that Adam had way too many fans. Turns out she was right! My jaw literally dropped open, I was just that amazed. The finale itself was overlong and vexing in its drama, but I guess it could have been worse. There was an impressive collection of musical guests, even though I skipped past most of them. Kris and Adam have both recorded the new single and both versions are already available on iTunes, and even though I think it's a lame song (nice work, Kara), Kris cleans up really nicely on a studio recording. I've always felt Adam was really talented, I really loved his audition and his path to the top 13 actually, but I've been over his gimmick for several weeks now (Keep that tongue in your mouth, man! And enough with the dramatics already!), and thought he was hardly the kind of guy we want to put up in front of our kids as the American Idol. I'm quite certain Adam will still have a successful music career, but it's nice when at least for the structure of the show, someone upstanding and wholesome wins the title. The kid is so unassuming and unaffected, he was just happy to be there. Plus, word on the street is he's about to be a dad.

Incidentally, my prediction was thankfully way off, but my wishlist wasn't actually too far from what happened! Just a random misplacement of Adam.

I guess I'm just really surprised that America has now voted for the right man for two whole seasons in a row. Ever since the Ruben and Taylor fiascos, I've just been paranoid I guess. Yay, all my shows are over until the fall. It's always kind of nice to have the break.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I Think I'm in Love

... in the way a man can be in love with an upcoming Disney movie.

Fall similarly for yourselves:

Monday, May 18, 2009

Trek Westward

It's high time I gave a little report on the events of the last many days. So much has happened, I think it's best to resort to my bullet-list method, so here we go, this time organized by location:

Salt Lake City, UT:
  • Thursday, 7 May 2009, I was awake at 5:15 am to make it to my 7:30 flight.
  • I barely made the flight (I was ready to throw a fit if they didn't give me my boarding pass while the plane was still on the ground), and had a fairly uneventful journey of about 90 minutes.
  • A two-hour layover in Denver gave me plenty of time to read (A Separate Peace), but I was way too antsy to even think of trying to get some sleep.
  • An under two-hour flight and a somewhat bumpy but safe landing and I was in Indianapolis.
Indianapolis, IN:
  • I was greeted by Julie, in pink, a sight for sore eyes at the end of the walkway. The night before we had bid an unemotional adieu to the webcam and MSN forever (at least as a primary method of communication). The countdowns are finally over.
  • We visited the elaborate and exciting children's museum in Indianapolis with Julie's sister and her two kids, and Julie's mom. Dinosaurs! Mini dioramas! Politically-correct displays! Water toys!
These are some of the more photo-appropriate sentences we put together...

  • A short drive later we were in Bloomington.

Bloomington, IN:
  • We were in Bloomington from Thursday night to Sunday afternoon.
  • I spent nights at Julie's roommate's boyfriend's apartment. Thanks again!
  • Friday morning Marci, Julie and I went for a great run up and down the rolling Bloomington streets.
  • We ran some errands and went shopping, picked up some graduation regalia and had a fairly relaxing evening.
  • On Saturday morning I brought Julie some breakfast and helped her get ready for the big event.
  • Julie's family came back from Indianapolis, where they picked up her dad who came in on a later flight, and we all headed to Cascades park for a walk before heading to graduation.

Too bad that small child was in the way! Although I guess this contraption is actually intended for small children...

I hardly even spun in this thing before I already started to feel woozy...

And then all in the family joined in the fun.
  • That afternoon we headed to the top of the balcony to be seated in time for commencement. There we watched as probably a thousand graduates filed into the stadium and wondered if they were going to call every one by name (and admittedly glanced at our watches once or twice). In the end, they asked each group of graduates to stand according to their major, but only called the Ph.D. recipients by name. Swine flu paranoia was in full swing as they had instructed graduates not to shake hands with the faculty as they passed, but just "doff their hats." It was quite the game of Where's Waldo, but we were able to find Julie and her roommate Marcie sitting among the sea of black caps and gowns. I can't help but mention the speech given by the guest speaker and honorary degree recipient, Australian High Court Justice Michael Kirby. Things were just fine until he started spouting some of the most unfounded and outright propaganda I've ever heard delivered to a body of young adults. I should have expected this a little more, I guess, since IU is the alma mater of Alfred Kinsey (even though his work has elsewhere been discounted and debunked in the world of psychology). Julie's family and I just listened in amazement at such an irrelevant rant that was met largely with applause, but some weren't quite as enthusiastic. Anyway, other than that, it was a really nice ceremony. We took abundant photos and had a glorious celebratory dinner at Olive Garden.
  • Julie and I went to see X-Men Origins: Wolverine and were both sorely disappointed. She was mostly upset that they strayed so much from the origin story, but as for me, unfamiliar as I am with the backstory, I was just frustrated with how bad a film it was. Too many and underdeveloped characters (mutants for the sake of mutants, largely), flimsy plot, rotten script, poor Wolverine seemed out of character the entire time, and the effects were surprisingly quite bad. His blades were floating around his knuckles at some points! Epic disappointment.
  • On Sunday morning we headed to church at the Bloomington singles' branch and it was nice to get to meet so many of the branchies I'd heard so much about. It's so funny to visit a singles' ward with your girlfriend, you suddenly become super-interesting.
  • We finished loading up the cars with Julie's entire collection of material belongings and after a tearful goodbye to roommate Ann, we headed westward for the first leg of our roadtrip: Bloomington, IN to Rolla, MO, 339.24 miles, approximately 5 hours, 50 minutes.

Rolla, MO:
  • After deservedly catching up on some sleep, we began the several-day process of sifting through Julie's stuff to decide what was necessary to bring with her right away for her move to Utah so we could fit as much as possible into one car.
  • We helped out around the house and yard in anticipation of the promised thunder-storms and tornado warnings (there did end up being one pretty good rainstorm, but it was in the middle of the night anyway, boo).
  • We had many plans of seeing Star Trek (its reviews were much more favorable than Wolverine's), but they never quite materialized.
  • We of course had the local cuisine: Imo's Pizza, "A Slice of Pie," Kyoto sushi.
  • We took several walks, including a nice footpath to a park that the kids liked, and a visit to the Maramec Springs fish hatchery (ew, sooo many fish, they were like little slugs slithering all over each other in the water).
  • We watched the LOST season finale and (OMG) were blown away. Maybe Marci and Julie weren't quite as emotionally affected as I was (Juliet!!!). I'm a little annoyed with how much people, even fans, are complaining about LOST. First people were getting bothered by how LOST never gave any answers and things were too spread out, but when they start actually answering questions and giving us a non-stop season without hiatus, people start to complain that it's going too fast and isn't as fun. Come on, people. It's still the best on TV. Ever.
There's no LOST without gummi bears!
  • We were quite diligent in getting plenty of rest so we would be ready for the final, longest part of our major roadtrip.
  • Early Friday morning we were up and loaded in the car by 6:30 am and headed out of Rolla. Easily the longest period of time I've ever spent behind the wheel in one day, we crossed from Missouri to Kansas by mid-morning, were through to Colorado by late-afternoon, and finally rolled over the Utah border just before midnight. We stopped a couple times for gas and food (no fast food chains for us--we stopped at local eateries, such as Salina, KS's Brayard's Cafe, and New Castle, CO's New Castle Diner). The company was great and the conversation was always pleasant. We took turns choosing music and enjoyed seeing the sights along the way. I even did the state-crossing and time-zone shift rituals, reminiscent of my roadtrip from Utah to Maryland with Jake several years ago. The time even seemed to pass fairly quickly, until the last couple hours, which seemed relatively laborious (those Colorado mountains are a beast when it gets dark). Wedgewood Drive was never as welcome a sight as it was at around 2 am local time when we finally rolled into the driveway at home. Rolla, MO to Pleasant Grove, UT: 1323.89 miles, approximately 20 hours, 30 minutes.

Pleasant Grove, UT:
  • Slept.
LDR conquered.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Twin Mommies

I promise a roadtrip update is on the way, but on this lovely Sabbath morning, I had to post this while it's still fresh news.

I have two younger sisters who are twins. They are best friends. Melody has been married for about four years, and Emily about three. They both have big, exciting news this year.

Melody and Jonny welcomed Gabriel Jonathan Rejholec into the world yesterday at just after 7 am. He was a big boy at 8 lbs. 12 oz. and 19.5 inches. I wasn't around for Melody's last pregnancy (Julia was already almost a year old when I came home from Wisconsin), so it was fun to be here for this one and see her quite large baby belly and look forward to the Little Bother's imminent arrival. Melody was really looking forward to the baby coming already, so she was really excited when he came on his own and didn't need to be induced. Both mommy and baby are healthy and happy, and I look forward to seeing them when they're up for visitors at home, hopefully later this afternoon. This evens up the nephews/nieces count to an even 5/5.

Next on the horizon, and what will surely tip the scales in the nephew/niece ratio:

Emily!!! Pregnant! Showing a tummy! This is really big news also, for reasons most of you probably already know. (Interestingly, I almost gave this news away over a month ago when I didn't realize it wasn't quite public knowledge yet.) Emily and KC have been trying for months and years to have a baby and later decided they had to try other options, including IVF or adoption. They were having so much trouble with the fertilization techniques that they were trying for adoption, which turns out to be quite expensive and also rather involved a process. So after being approved for the adoption agency, and yet again playing the waiting game, they decided to give IVF a fourth and final try, and Emily finally received the news that she was expecting. And not only that, but expecting three. That's right, triplets! When it rains, it pours, I guess! The ridiculous doctors are suggesting some hideous idea of selective reduction (read: abortion), but Emily is dead-set against that. These three are definitely the work of God, and she's determined to let them enter the world. She and KC are going to have their hands full with three all at once, but they have certainly waited long enough for them! Miracles happen! Emily, I always knew this would happen for you, I just had this feeling, I can even remember when and where it came to me, it felt so real.

My little sisters are mommies! Woot!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Midwest Update 2

I'm in Missouri! It's awesome! Details to follow.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Midwest Update

I'm in Indiana! It's awesome! Details to follow.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

American Idol Update

Could this be a first? An American Idol top 4 that actually contains four really talented people?!? It's a Christmas miracle! I think these four are definitely the best of the season, and I'm glad this year has made AI actually worth watching toward the end. I'm going to give a little rundown of the final four (L-R from the artfully Photoshopped photo above), and then tell you how I wish the elimination order would go, and then I think it actually will.

  • Danny: I think he's pretty talented (though I cringed and grimaced through his Rock week selection), but I think he's not quite the best one up there. Gotta love my boy from Milwaukee, and I'm glad he's made it this far. He had a heartbreaking story from the very beginning, so I'm pretty sure a lot of people are just voting him through each week due to the sympathy factor, plus I guess he has a pretty strong Christian music fans following. I didn't like him at first, but he's grown on me, but while I think he'll be in the finale, I don't think he'll win. I do believe he's the only finalist that has never appeared in the weekly bottom three.
  • Adam: I liked his audition a lot. I thought he was original and genuine. Every week I see him I like him less. I certainly can't deny that he really is quite talented (though to be honest, I think he has an unfair advantage having had a lot of stage/performance experience), but his whole look and gimmick is really starting to grate on me actually. His style is SO whack, his hair is awful (except when he actually combs it) and his make-up is really distracting (I hardly ever even see girls with that much eye make-up, for heaven's sake). I have concluded that he has exactly two styles: Ultra-sensitive, subdued, rife with falsetto ballad, and over-the-top, extreme, tongue-wagging screaming. This has made him extremely predictable (Whaaaa? You're going to put a ROCK EDGE on a country song?!? You just blow me away, Adam!). The judges raving about him and putting him on a somewhat unwarranted pedastal is getting a little old, and besides, there are online reports going around about him that lead me to believe he is not what he appears to be, and that he is a very poor role model for the young demographic at which this show is largely aimed. I used to like him a lot. Now I'm so over him. Plus, he has a huge head.
  • Allison: I think she's quite talented, and definitely the best girl there was in the top 10, so I'm glad she's still around. Having said that, I think she's Kelly 2.0 (though younger and not as good) and that she doesn't have quite what it takes for the win. She's cute and quirky, so I like to see her, even though hers isn't my favorite style of music. I'm afraid if she doesn't win, her poor mom is just going to collapse into a heap of tears, but it's going to happen. The girl won't win, but she's done fine for herself so far. Go back to high school, Allison.
  • Kris: I think he's the best for several reasons. First, he's likeable. He has a real sort of approachable, friendly sensibility that seems totally unassuming and genuine. Second, he's totally talented. He has a sort of unique-to-the-show Mrazian vibe about him, he's killer on the guitar, and he's an artist (and yes, I kind of like how he sticks out his jaw when he sings, it's a little bit endearing somehow). Third, he's an excellent role model. Family man, church-going, and there aren't discomfitting, creepy photos of him doing unseemly things floating about the internet. Unlike some of the other finalists, he's not a tabloid cover story waiting to happen. Finally, he seems totally unaware of just how talented he is. He responds respectfully and humbly to whatever the judges say and whatever the vote is (unlike some people whose responses to the gushing judges seem totally fake, you know, those whose mouth says, "Thank you," but whose eyes say, "Of course they love me, I was awesome!" You know who I mean. Blah). To wit, he's the man.
My Wishlist:

4th: Adam Lambert
3rd: Allison Iraheta
2nd: Danny Gokey
1st: Kris Allen
My Prediction:

4th: Kris Allen
3rd: Allison Iraheta
2nd: Adam Lambert
1st: Danny Gokey

I am back and forth with the final two in my prediction... I just have this weird feeling that Adam won't win after all, even though the show is totally fabricating a winner out of him and all obvious signs point to him taking home the title. I guess I'm going to stand by it and chance the consequences! We'll see if either of those come to pass. In a world of total American Idol justice, someone like Kris would win and help restore hope in humanity, but alas, I'm afraid that the world isn't quite to that point yet. We're all about the flash and the glam, regardless of the overall package. There's a lot to be said for the occasional display of subtlety.

I was actually quite pleased with last season's finale, even though neither of the top two were my favorites. I wasn't really into that season anyway. Now that I am, let's see if I leave it disappointed. Curse this show and its addictive properties!

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Penultimate Peril

In celebration of the penultimate episode of LOST season 5, I decided to post my new LOST Club drawing. I'm rather pleased with how it turned out!

Can you guess who is who? And which character they represent?

What an awesome season this has been! And leading on up to next year's awesome final series of episodes. It will be a sad day indeed.

Friday, May 1, 2009

In Less than a Week...

... this will no longer be necessary... ever again.

It's May! Indy, here I come!