Monday, May 28, 2007

Fun weekend

Today, we hosted a barbeque for the bloggers of GBNYC4 as a send-off for the long weekend. It was a very warm day today, not the weather of many Memorial Days past. It was a LOT of fun, and if you haven't come to the party before, you should think about coming next year. The barbeque was more lightly attended than in prior years, but I think the whole event was more lightly attended than in prior years.

One of the most fun things of the weekend was the GBNYC4 meet-up at Marie's Crisis Cafe, just off Sheridan Square in the West Village. Marie's is usually a fun spot for a Saturday night, but this Saturday was particularly busy. I am assuming it was the holiday weekend that brought people, gay and straight, in droves to this funky, divey little piano bar in the basement of a small building which also houses a tiny cafe upstairs. It's a dumpy little place, and you wouldn't think it would be much of anything. But on weekend nights, it brings in a crowd to sing Broadway showtunes with the pianist. There have usually been about three dozen people (or less, and mostly gay) in the place on the nights we have been there. We discovered Marie's through Byrne, who happened to organize Saturday night's fun. We were anxious to go, because it's always fun.

On this night, however, there were nearly 100 people crammed into the bar, which had to have all its tables removed to make room for more people. It was crazy busy. Crazy. Within an hour of our arrival (9:30), you could barely move, and by 11:00 p.m. people were coming down the stairs and then leaving because the place was literally so packed there wasn't room for another person. Showtune songsets from Cabaret, The Sound of Music, West Side Story, and a number of other shows I can't even remember at this point, were sung by a very merry crowd and sounded terrific. It was such a great time.

Today's barbeque was a lot of fun, too, and I was a busy bartender. My new favorite concoction, which was developed by my friend Jeff, is a Key West Cherry Limeade Martini, and several of the guests and I enjoyed those.

We enjoyed the company of Mark, his partner Brian, and their friend Steven from Dallas; Patrick; Byrne; Deirdre; David; Jase and his partner Brian; and Patrick and his partner Greg.

We had not met Jase's Brian or David before today; both were fun and enjoyable people whom we would have back again. Mark and Brian's friend Steven, whom we met for the first time this weekend, was even more adorable in person than in the pictures on Mark's blog. Sometimes pictures just do not do justice to people.

At any rate, I made some delicious brownies (from pinknest's blog - you should check her out if you haven't!) along with a host of other food, but the brownies received most raves, I think. I have used a very similar recipe in the past, which uses the same ingredients except unsweetened chocolate and plain sugar instead of Muscovado sugar. It made a nice difference in them and they were being devoured two, three, and four at a time. We had a can of whipped cream that was being used to top them. Decadent. Fudgy. Outrageous. Delicious. Thanks, Anita!

Have a great short week at work, everyone.

We have a poacher

There's a homeless man who roams the streets here collecting salvageable recyclables. Beer bottles, soda bottles, and soda cans are all money for him. We don't go to the can and bottle centers at the supermarkets, but we do recycle, so those items go into our recycling containers on Monday night, and overnight, the bins get picked over gently and quietly as Mr. Homeless Man works to remove them from the containers without waking anyone.

This weekend must be Mr. Homeless Man's big weekend of the year. As I took the recyclables to the curb tonight, I wondered if there were a lot more people like me in East Meadow who had a lot of people over this weekend, and served a lot of soda and beer. From my block, I see that there were a few who must have.

We didn't know that this "poaching" was taking place until after we had been in this house for several months, but now that we do, it makes it a little nicer to know that someone beside the recycling company is getting to take advantage of the can and bottle reclamation money...someone who needs it.

I hope you had a very relaxing and memorable Memorial Day, but I hope you also remembered the many men and women who have sacrificed their lives for the freedoms we enjoy in this country. One of those, freedom of speech, is particularly valuable to those of us who write (and read) blogs.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Busy, busy...

OMG, it is a busy day today. This house has got to be clean for GBNYC4 on Monday, and it isn't even close right now. I have 24 lbs of brisket roasting right now (no, it's not all for Monday, part of it will be frozen for a birthday barbeque the following weekend at the in-laws) and am contemplating where in the hell I am going to put it all when it is done. Don't panic: 24 lbs. of brisket will cook down to about 14-15 lbs. or maybe even a little less. But still! Twenty-four lbs.! Crazy. I so desperately need a second refrigerator for these big events.

I have many garden pictures to show you when I have the patience and time to post them. Everything's growing fabulously right now, and the warm weather is really going to accelerate things.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Oh no, I didn't...

No, I did not watch it. And I won't next season. I am done with it.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


American Idol isn't a singing's a popularity contest. Melinda Doolittle was robbed, quite simply. Neither Blake Lewis nor Jordin Sparks are worthy to have beaten Melinda into the showdown...and I, for one, will not be watching that finale. I am done with American Idol.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Idol showdown

Well, this week was definitely more interesting this week than in prior weeks. And tomorrow is going to be interesting as to who's gonna go.

Blake's first performance, Roxanne, was very well-suited to his voice and I liked it. His second performance, Maroon 5's This Love was his best, though; he breezed through it effortlessly and, as opposed to most of his other performances, he seemed like he was actually having a good time. He almost always looks as though singing is all work and no play. I thought it was his best performance of the entire season, and at this point, it should be. His third performance was less impressive, a cover of Thicke's When I Get You Alone. Very good, but more like the first; not as good as his second number.

Jordin's first performance, Wishing on a Star, was not my favorite. The second performance, She Works Hard for the Money, was okay. I wasn't bowled over. Her last performance, I Who Have Nothing, while strong, was a number she did in a prior show. And while it's a great number, it's an old number, and she should have chosen something she hadn't done before. Save the re-runs for the final show.

Melinda's first number, I Believe in You and Me, was very good, but I was longing for something less sweet. She's done a lot of sweet. Her second performance, Nutbush City Limits, was electric and gritty, true to the original. Her third performance, I'm a Woman, didn't make me shiver, though. It was a solid performance, but she has so much more ability than that.

In the end, I'd say that based on only tonight's performances, Blake should be in the final two; but if you take into account the entire repertoire of Blake and Jordin, from the beginning of the season until now, Jordin should be in the final two.

Regardless of either, Melinda has far more talent than either of them. It's her show. She damn well better win it.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Mixed bag

Tonight's Idol was the music of Barry Gibb.

First Course:
I was shocked that Melinda chose Inside and Out because I was not thinking of that as a song that would be a fabulous performance, but she made it really terrific. The judges didn't like it that much, but I actually enjoyed it. It was very Gladys Knight-ish and very growly. I grew up with this music and loved about everything the Bee Gees, specifically Barry. This was a song I always liked in the falsetto, but Melinda changed it up and made it very original. Funny that last week, they thought Blake was the golden boy for changing up Bon Jovi when he couldn't sing it as written, even though the performance was not that terrific, but when Melinda does it and hits it dead on, they pan her. I don't get it.

Blake fouled right off the bat with a flat pitch and then remained somewhat off through his whole falsetto of You Should Be Dancing. His falsetto was nowhere near up for the task. He dragged behind the music. The beatbox didn't do anything but ruin the song. Note that he sang the lyric, "my baby takes me higher, my baby keeps me warm," when the actual lyric is "my woman takes me higher, my woman keeps me warm." Jess caught this and noted that he thinks Blake sang it that way for a reason, something we have speculated about for a few weeks, and something that was actually pretty transparent in last week's show when he and Chris were chumming it up as the choice was made between them as to who went home. Those are two boys in love...which is nice...I just wish they both had better voices. Yay for Simon, who hated it. It was a trainwreck.

Barry's 61 year-old falsetto sounded better than LaKisha's voice on tonight's performance of Stayin' Alive. That's a song that's far bigger than she is. She went miserably flat on the high power note near the end of the performance. She made strange tempo changes and just killed it. It was a yawner, and didn't do it.

Jordin was the clear winner in the first round with To Love Somebody, which was positively stunning. This was the performance. Her hair was terrific, but that outfit needed to lose the pants.

Second Course:
Melinda's performance of How Can You Mend a Broken Heart was strong, but didn't do it for me. I didn't particularly like the ending flourish, which I felt was just staging. Randy liked the ending, curiously. I don't get it. Paula called her "a throwback to Stephanie Mills," and I would actually LOVE to see her do Stephanie Mills' Lean on Me, from the 80s, which she could tear up and knock right out of the park.

Blake's performance of The Danger Zone was quite good in showcasing his vocal style, but he couldn't stay up with music and he had some flat moments, which is just ridiculous at this level of the competition! But Paula said he sang the whole thing "spot-on tune" which just tells me that she can't hear. This song was a flop for the Bee Gees, but Blake could actually make something of it if he could learn to keep up with the music and be on key. Simon said he hated it, which was harsh. I didn't hate it, I just didn't love it.

LaKisha's performance of Run to Me was another surprise, if a bad one. I loved the way she started it, very soulful, but she didn't sustain that even through the first stanza. Jess' comment was "she's better than this!" And she is. And that cracking voice at the last...dear God. It was not good. She's definitely in trouble this week.

Jordin's second performance was even more daring than the first. A Woman in Love was pretty good. It was, of course, much different than the Barbra version, which is one of my all-time favorites, so I was a little more discriminating about this performance than her first. It was okay.

Final analysis: Blake and LaKisha, you should be packing. One of you is leaving.

I was sorely disappointed by the overall choices of the evening. There are so many terrific Barry Gibb songs that could have been used tonight. Emotion, an old 70s number performed by Samantha Sang and backed by the Bee Gees, would have been terrific for Melinda or Jordin, and so would If I Can't Have You. Or Melinda could have sung Nights on Broadway and done a great job with it. Tragedy and Words would have made great choices for LaKisha, Blake could have used his beatbox very well on Jive Talkin', or You Stepped Into My Life; and Love So Right would have been a nicer match for his vocal range. Jordin could have been outstanding with Love Me. All in all, a mixed bag of less-than-stellar choices.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Well, it had to happen...

...yes, it had to. Phil had to be voted off. And he went very gracefully. Again, hard to watch, but he sounded great. But the other vote was very interesting...Blake and Chris in the bottom three?! Yes! America is finally coming to its senses. And Chris' departure does not upset or surprise me in the least. Go 'head on, boy...even your sing-out was off-pitch.

As much as I love Jon Bon Jovi, I wasn't crazy about his little ballad tonight. It was okay. Very safe. But he looks as great as ever - as if he hasn't aged. Yum.

Was it me, or did Seacrest's eyes look as if he had smoked a doobie before the show?

So now we are left with LaKisha, Jordin, Melinda, and Blake. Good luck, LaKisha and Blake. You better work, 'cause it looks like you'll be next.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Follow-up to Mac the Knife

Well, wouldn't you know it...this past weekend, I was working in the kitchen with the Mac knife and sliced of the end of my thumb, along with part of the nail. And I was doing so well...

Speaking of this past weekend, Jeff was out, which is always fun, and he mixed up some killer Key West martinis that I just loved. On one batch, he got particularly inventive, throwing in some Monin cherry syrup to make a cherry limeade martini that was probably the best drink I have ever had. I could have drunk a pitcher of them.

At any rate, I did some gardening. I planted my five EarthBoxes with peas, three kinds of tomatoes, bell peppers, cilantro, basil, and rosemary. One of the boxes already has three stands of chives in it that are eight years old, which are blooming now.

And I am looking forward to getting some peaches this year from my elberta peach tree that I planted last year.

Bon Jovi week

Well, this week, we had the Idols singing Bon Jovi songs. Not an easy task. JBJ has a very unique sound that is raw yet perfect. My first thought was, "there is no way any of them can do him justice."

Idol-cum-cadaver Phil was first up. He actually kicked ass on Blaze of Glory. I thought it was his most outstanding performance. I didn't watch, I listened...'cause I don't like that face...but he was terrific. Simon was wrong.

I thought Jordin, on the other hand, was just atrocious with Livin' on a Prayer. She should pray her performance doesn't get her booted off this week. Simon was perfectly right, it was a mess. A trainwreck. It was completely out of her range and her league. She should have chosen a ballad, something like Never Say Goodbye would have worked very well for her.

LaKisha sang one of his lesser-known tracks, This Ain't a Love Song, that I didn't particularly like. She was just okay. The start was really rough, definitely not top three quality. The judges loved it. Eh.

This week was Blake's Mistake. His beatbox/ABC-esque reworked version of Shot Through the Heart positively sucked. The judges thought it was great!? What?! Vote him off, America, vote for everyone else! DO it!

Chris wasn't terrific either. His Wanted Dead or Alive was delivered with an attempt to match Bon Jovi's sound, but he came up wanting. It was okay, and definitely better than Blake and Jordin, but it wasn't blazing.

The star of the evening was, of course, Melinda. She cut loose with a sizzling performance of Have a Nice Day that burned up the stage. She was the only contestant who really captured the spirit and attitude of JBJ and tore. it. up. There is, and has been, no question that she stands alone as the winner of this competition.

So vote, vote, vote...but not for Blake.

with apologies to Cincy...

So two will be voted off this votes are Blake and