Sunday, September 30, 2007

American Idol................ Now What?

I am a huge fan of the show American Idol, and I always wonder what happens to the contestants on the show once the so called 15 minutes of fame is up. One night when I was interning at WCVB TV Channel 5 for my co-op program at college I started researching past American Idol contestants. I used the net to see whether ot not contestants had their own websites. This is part one of a series which I titled "American Idol............. Now What?"

Of course some names will be more obvious than others like Kelly Clarkson, Chris Daughtry, Jennifer Hudson, and Carrie Underwood just to name a few; others are not quite so obvious like Jasmine Trias, Ryan Starr, Joshua Gracin, and Bucky Covington.

So here it goes:

Season 1 (2002)

Winner: Kelly Clarkson- , has released three albums: Thankful, Breakaway, and My December. She currently has two Grammy Awards, four American Music Awards, three MTV Video Music Awards, and eleven Billboard Music Awards. Ms. Clarkson will be going out on tour this fall to promote her most personal album to date, My December.

Runner Up: Justin Guarini- , has released two albums. Justin has two movies slated for release: Fast Girl and Frankie the Squirrel.

3rd: Nikki McKibbin- , her debut album, Unleashed was released this past May.

4th: Tamyra Gray- , released her debut album, The Dreamer, in 2004. Ms. Gray acted in Boston Public in 2003, and currently has a role on Broadway as Mimi Marquez in "Rent" which she will hold through November of this year. She is in the process of recording a new album which she calls more "hip hop based" and finding a new record label.

5th: R.J. Helton- , released his debut album, Real Life, in 2004. He is focusing more on Christian oriented music.

6th: Christina Christian- , has yet to release her debut album, but you can listen to her new single on her website. She also is playing the young Celia Cruz in a documentary, Celia: The Queen slated to be released this year or in 2008.

7th: Ryan Starr- , has done everything from releasing singles to being a member of a rock band to modeling (check out her personal myspace page ).

8th: A.J. Gil- and , the youngest Season 1 finalist has released a few singles and is currently at work on a new album.

9th: Ejay Day- the last I heard Mr. Day was performing on cruise ships.

10th Jim Verraros- , released his debut album, You Make it Better, in 2005.

Red Sox Win! Part II

He had his injuries this year, but never count Manny Ramirez out. Ramirez continued to be a presence on the field for the Sox, and he is once again a finalist for the Aaron Award (he has already won the honor three times). Manny had a slow start but battled back, had an oblique injury, and battled back again. Teammate Coco Crisp said of Manny, "He's incredible. He's one of the greatest, pretty much of all time. And he's still in the game and still fairly young. You come to expcet those things of him" ........ like winning League Player of the Week honors this year, his overall 15th time, more than any other active player.

The Kid (a.k.a Dustin Pedroia) has certainly made fans in Boston his rookie year. He makes exciting, dazzling plays at second base and is no slouch offensively either. He has blossomed these past two months proving that he can play with the big boys. My favorite Pedroia moment this year came late in the season on September 1st when he made a diving play to keep Clay Bucholz's no hitter a "no hitter". Bucholz said, "When I jumped up and missed the ball, I was thinking, well it's over. And then Pedroia comes out of nowhere." This kid should definitely be a contended for a Gold Glove this year.

And not to be forgotten,

There's Curt Schilling, a leader who may not have had the best season, but is a prominent member of the Sox. Jason Varitek (Tek), the team captain, a natural born leader and arguably the most underrated catcher in the game. Tim Wakefield (Wake), the Red Sox veteran, is a man who has played his entire major league career with the Sox. The reliable knuckleballer continues to impress. Kevin Youkilis (Youk) is one of those players who excels offensively and defensively and thrives off the fact that he possesses a true love for playing the game. Daisuke Matsuzaka was the newbie this year, not just to baseball, but to America; the effort he put forth on more than one level did not let Sox fans down. J.D. Drew, according to most is, "heating up at the right time," the right fielder may at times get frustrated but he never gives up. Jonathan Papelbon is the go to guy when it comes to closing a game for the Sox, he is the first pitcher in Sox history to have 2 seasons with 30 or more saves.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Red Sox Win!

Well, we (members of Red Sox nation) knew they could do it, it was just a matter of time. The Boston Red Sox won the American League East for the first time since 1995 after winning 5-2 against the Minnesota Twins, and after the New York Yankees lost 10-9 to the Baltimore Orioles; the Sox have held first place in their division since April 18.

The Yanks-Orioles game was on the jumbotron in Fenway Park while thousands of fans watched as their beloved Sox became champs while the Yanks squandered more than one opportunity losing their game in extra innings.

Most will agree that this season was a team effort with players that just seemed to gel; allow me to mention just a few:

Mike Lowell (who some call Mr. M.V.P.) has had an amazing season at third base, what can't he do? Coach Tito Francona said of Lowell, "He plays every day and his production has been so consistent". Lowell broke a record this season becoming the third baseman with the most RBI's in a season, 118 and still counting over Butch Hobson's impressive 112 in the 1977 season.

Arguably the leading candidate for the AL Cy Young Award, Josh Beckett has enjoyed a breakout season as the starting pitcher with a record of 20-7. Mike Lowell said of his teammate, "I think this year, on more than a couple of times, he's been able to bear down and give us quality starts and just be the guy. ............. He's been our guy the whole year."

Big Papi (a.k.a. David Ortiz) doesn't disappoint, and this season was no exception; Papi proves that he always comes through when it matters. He led the Sox in homeruns this season with 35, and in batting average, batting .333. Of Ortiz, Francona simply said, "David knows how to play the game."

More players to come .....................

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Kindness of Others: Day 1

It's not often that I meet a customer at my full time job at a high end retail store that acts the way all customers, all people for that matter, should act. I was having an ok day; I had some nasty, rather uncivil customers who were not nice by any means to me as well as my coworkers, but I wasn't allowing them to get into my head and bother me. I was successfully ignoring their lame attempts to make me their indentured servant.
And then, as I was about to lose all hope of making some sales and salvaging the night, she appeared, a customer who restored my hope that people (strangers) can be kind and good at heart. I will refer to her as Ms. J.; she came in looking for bedding and everything that goes along with it for her daughter's dorm room at a prestigious Boston university. Initially, she was only looking for a bedskirt, and I was eager to help her. She seemed slightly stressed, and my job as a salesperson is to make the customer's shopping experience a positive one. This mom had a real desire to make her daughter's room a warm, vibrant, comfortable place, and decided that she didn't just need a new bedskirt, but a new lifestyle. She wanted a mix of warm and cool cozy colors, browns, reds, blushes, pinks, aquas, and crisp whites. Her finishing touch was a red cashmere throw for her daughter to toss over an armchair. Throughout this process, even though she was stressed out and unfamiliar with the Boston area, Ms. J. was pleasant and never overly demanding.
After she made her purchase, a coworker and I helped Ms. J. to prepare everything in advance for her daughter's room by throwing away all packaging, zipping pillow protectors onto pillows, putting the duvet on the comforter, etc. She was conscientious and respectful of our jobs and our service towards her. As we helped her to walk her bags to her taxi that was waiting outside we all had a real conversation. She asked us what we studied at school, and told us not to stay in retail forever, that it is a thankless, brutal occupation with long, late hours. When we finally made it outside we put her bags in the front of her taxi, and we thanked her, and she thanked us and began looking through her handbag. She handed each of us a $20 tip; we both told her that we weren't really supposed to accept tips, and she said you don't understand, you both helped me, and went so above and beyond your job description, and this is my way of thanking both of you. My coworker and I both hesitated, and she said please take it; I promise I will disappear into the night, I won't tell anyone and we'll all probably never see each other again. People like my coworker who helped me when he didn't have to and my customer who turned my night around by acting extraordinarily positive reminds me of the kindess of others.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Does the punishment really fit the crime?

This whole New England Patriots spying controversy is definitely out of hand, and as a result I have decided I can no longer stay quiet and so I will throw in my two cents.

For those who haven't heard the story, here is a brief but not detailed recap..... NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell found the Patriots guilty of videotaping the New York Jets' signals (I believe defensive signals) during the September 9th game. The punishment was as follows: Coach Bill Belichick must pay, out of his own pocket, $500,000 and the team has to pay $250,000. In addition, Tte Patriots also have to give up their first round draft pick if they reach the playoffs and their second and third round draft picks if they do not reach the playoffs.

The fine was the biggest ever for a coach in the history of the NFL, and never has a team ever had to surrender their first round draft pick as a penalty.

Goodell said concerning the punishment, "I have determined not to do so (impose a suspension), largely because I believe that the discipline I am imposing of a maximum fine and forfeiture of a first round draft choice, or multiple draft choices, is in fact more significant and long lasting, and therefore more effective, than a suspension." And "this episode represents a calculated and a deliberate attempt to avoid longstanding rules designed to encourage fair play and promote honest competition on the playing field".

Bill Belichick responded by saying, "I apologize to the Kraft family and every person directly or indirectly associated with the New England Patriots for the embarassment, distraction and penalty my mistake caused."

Ok, first off for all those saying that they are "disappointed", who are you "disappointed" in? To be "disappointed" in Bill Belichick or the person who recorded this is justified; I will admit that I am "disappointed" in him also. But to be "disappointed" in the New England Patriots meaning the team or the organization is just wrong, really wrong because on the whole, and for the most part, this is a solid group of guys who work hard and never think that another team couldn't possibly be better than them. Owner, Robert Kraft bought the Patriots when they were just about scraping the bottom of the barrel; he turned this franchise around and does not in any way deserve disrespect. The players and Mr. Kraft did not know what was going on as far as "spygate" is concerned. Feel angry folks, but direct your anger to the right place.

For all those players and coaches from other teams who feel justified in going around and talking crap, just remember, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." If you haven't done wrong, go ahead, talk, but I highly doubt that many people in the NFL can say that honestly. In no way am I trying to say what happened is right. And for all those being self righteous, ugly always comes back to you. Mr. Tiki Barber brings up a very good point and I will say it in my own words, other coaches do this, and one prominent coach happened to get caught. If you, Roger Goodell are going to punish one team and are vowing to clean up the NFL, let's go back and view all videotapes and do a league wide investigation; leave no stone unturned! All teams who have done this in the past and all teams who do anything remotely like it in the future should be punished. Because for all those who feel like their role in life is "policeing" (for example Cris Collinsworth of Sunday Night Football on NBC and San Diego Chargers player LaDainian Tomlinson) the NFL or the Patriots; we wouldn't want to be unfair by any extent of the mind now would we? By the way, LaDainian, you should know better than to run your mouth, you've make tons of mistakes yourself. I could sit here all night and cite examples, but I won't act ugly like that.

For those who believe Bill Belichick did this because he won't be here next year, so he did not care, you're wrong because he is signed through next season. Supposedly, he may now be signed through the 2013 season. It is also important to note that the camera was seized before the first quarter finished, and therefore this could not possibly impact the outcome of the game. Secondly, Goodell issued a statement saying that he truly believed Robert Kraft was unaware the actions of Bill Belichick.

Mr. Kraft and his organization created in the New England Patriots, not only a dynasty, but a group of players and a team that its fans are truly proud of. They are fans that stuck with this team through many hard times, and I do not doubt that they will continue to do that now.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

UPDATE: My Emmy Ballot '07

This is an Emmy prediction update, upon further viewing of the past years performances I would like to change my Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series prediction--- Jeremy Piven has been overlooked for way too long and I think this is his year. Look for Gold to go for the gold and take home this year's Emmy!

My Emmy Ballot '07

*Lead Actress Drama Series
Patricia Arquette Medium
Minnie Driver The Riches
Edie Falco The Sopranos
Sally Field Brothers & Sisters
Mariska Hargitay Law & Order: SVU
Kyra Sedgwick The Closer

Will win: Mariska Hargitay, Should win: Sally Field or Mariska Hargitay
Mariska Hargitay's character, Detective Olivia Benson remained as fiery and strong willed as ever this past season. Benson reteamed with her partner Stabler this season after a shoot-out, and also found her brother who was being sought by police for sex crimes. Her emotions, much like that of a roller coaster give Hargitay a good acting workout and should give her the Emmy. As Nora Walker on Brothers & Sisters, we like Sally Field, we really really like her, and if Hargitay doesn't win, she definitely should.

*Lead Actor Drama Series
James Gandolfini The Sopranos
Hugh Laurie House
Denis Leary Rescue Me
James Spader Boston Legal
Kiefer Sutherland 24

Will win & Should win: James Gandolfini
Me: Hey Tony! You almost died but you pulled through, you protected your family, you're living the American Dream, and you're gonna win an Emmy!
Tony: "I told you my feelings, every day is a gift...It's just - does it have to be," an Emmy?

*Drama Series
Boston Legal
Grey's Anatomy
The Sopranos

Will win & Should win: The Sopranos
An era is over but The Sopranos will win this award for the last time and deservedly so, it is probably one of the best American dramas. It definitely makes me feel proud to be an Italian American.

Friday, September 14, 2007

My Emmy Ballot '07

*Comedy Series
The Office
30 Rock
Two and a Half Men
Ugly Betty

Will win: Ugly Betty, Should win: 30 Rock
Let's face, Ugly Betty is really the stereotypical Emmy darling. Initially deemed the "little show that could", look for the series to be the winner on Emmy night in more than one category, but especially this one. Tina Fey's 30 Rock is brilliantly written, the ex Saturday Night Live comedy mastermind also recruited Tracey Morgan to make the jump with her. Alec Baldwin is also a genius of perfect comedic timing.

*Supporting Actress Drama Series
Lorraine Bracco The Sopranos
Rachel Griffiths Brothers & Sisters
Katherine Heigl Grey's Anatomy
Sandra Oh Grey's Anatomy
Aida Turturro The Sopranos
Chandra Wilson Grey's Anatomy

Will win: Sandra Oh, Should win: Katherine Heigl
Most people would think that the three Grey's Anatomy actresses would cancel each other out, but not this year. Sandra Oh makes every TV show and every movie that she is in, better because she's in it and Grey's is no exception to the rule. This season Burke left her at the altar and broke her faith in true love. She is quiet yet so powerful, and I cannot wait to see what she does this season. Katherine Heigl's Isobel in the aftermath of her fiance Denny's death was moving and at times heart-breakingly sad to watch, the viewers felt her pain and wanted to give her a big hug. Heigl was also a standout in the two episodes during sweeps "Walk on Water" and "Drowning on Dry Land"; I was so busy watching her that I didn't notice that Meredith fell into the water.

*Supporting Actor Drama Series
Michael Emerson Lost
Michael Imperioli The Sopranos
T.R. Knight Grey's Anatomy
Terry O'Quinn Lost
Masi Oka Heroes
William Shatner Boston Legal

Will win: Michael Imperioli, Should win: Terry O'Quinn
Imperioli's role as Christopher will be rewarded for being a major part of arguably one of the greatest TV series of all time. Was it just me or was the dark Locke really strange and darker this year, switching sides, living and breathing with the others, and then switching back again. He suffered a near death experience, and continued to do what he does best which is march to his own beat. I wish he was marching up to get his Emmy on Sunday.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Birthday Cards

I was out with some friends, and the conversation suddenly came up........ what do you do with your old birthday cards? I had never thought of it before, even though when I did begin to think about it, I figured out that I have a definite system when it comes to dealing with birthday cards from birthday's past. Whenever I am cleaning my room which is about once every month, I come upon those cards and I read them over. So what do you ask makes me keep a birthday card and what makes me throw one away. If the card has a particularly pretty picture I may decide to have to framed so I keep it like the one with the colorful butterflies that my cousin gave me for my graduation. If the card says something particularly touching by the person who gave me the card I keep it like when my uncle wrote "I am thanking you for the words of comfort in your previous letter". Some cards have something printed on the inside, like a quote, and then I keep the card, and write it in my quote book . This is just one example, it's a quote from Giancarlo DiGratsi, "To embrace the wealth of the spirit, to revel in the wonders of life, to think, to remember, to dream- this is to know happiness". On the contrary, if the person who wrote out the card clearly did not put any thought into what he/she wrote (i.e. "Happy Birthday, -John"), I throw it away; sorry John but couldn't you have thought of something nice to say about me or wished me a happy, healthy year? Some of my friends admitted that they feel guilty about throwing away a birthday card that someone gave them for their birthday. Why? Are your friends or family going to come over and look through your personal things and see which birthday cards you still have and which ones you threw away? I mean can you picture your Aunt Dot coming to visit you and saying to herself, "Wow, she has my birthday card from her 15th birthday, 27th birthday, and 21st birthday; where did all the other years ago? I should have bought a different card". One of my friends admitted that he opens the card, reads it, if there is money in it, he takes out the money, and after his party or get together is over he throws the cards away. I wondered, does that mean he lacks sentimental values? I also wondered, does that mean I am a sap or a sentimental fool for keeping my birthday cards? No, and I am putting my stack of birthday cards back into my box, and reading them next month.

My Emmy Ballot '07

*Lead Actress Comedy
America Ferrera Ugly Betty
Tina Fey 30 Rock
Felicity Huffman Desperate Housewives
Julia Louis Dreyfus The New Adventures of Old Christine
Mary-Louise Parker Weeds

Gosh, two women should win this award! America Ferrera is absolutely fabulous as Daniel Meade's assistant, Betty Suarez. She is funny, intelligent, and awkward looking but her inner beauty shines through, and that makes her so endearing. The best thing about Betty is that the viewers are laughing with her, not at her. Ms. Felicity Huffman's portrayal of Lynette Scavo gets better every year. This year Lynette fought through a lot and maintained her vivacious sense of humor. She accepted her husband's daughter with another woman who tried to break up their marriage, dealt with her husband fulfilling his dream of opening a pizza parlor, was shot in a supermarket hostage crisis, wrestled with feelings for Rick, the cook at her husband's pizza place, and discovered that she has lymphoma. Sounds like she could use some good news. Will win, it's a toss up between these two versatile actresses.

*Lead Actor Comedy
Alec Baldwin 30 Rock
Steve Carell The Office
Ricky Gervais Extras
Tony Shalhoub Monk
Charlie Sheen Two and a Half Men

Will Win: Steve Carell, Should Win: Alec Baldwin
These are two actors who have had major comedic success on both the movie screen as well as the TV screen. Steve Carell may win purely because he has had more exposure this past year; his summer box office success with Evan Almighty and Knocked Up really put his name out there for Emmy voters. Alec Baldwin deserves this award though; he is scandalously hilarious as Jack Donaghy the network executive. The things that come out of his mouth are so wrong, and yet, so right, cause viewers are laughing instead of shaking their heads.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

My Emmy Ballot '07

I am definitely not the first person to do Emmy predictions, but here is my take on who will take an Emmy home on September 16th (Hopefully these winners will put their award in a better place than their respective bathrooms). Please note!: The Emmy predictions will be posted in segments.

*Supporting Actress Comedy Series:
Conchata Ferrell Two and a Half Men
Jenna Fischer The Office
Elizabeth Perkins Weeds
Jaime Pressly My Name is Earl
Holland Taylor Two and a Half Men
Vanessa Williams Ugly Betty

Should Win and Will Win: Vanessa Williams, her role as the deliciously evil magazine creative director Wilhelmina Slater is sure to make Emmy voters check her name off purely because of what they think will happen to them if they don't.

*Supporting Actor Comedy Series:
Jon Cryer Two and a Half Men
Kevin Dillon Entourage
Neil Patrick Harris How I Met Your Mother
Jeremy Piven Entourage
Rainn Wilson The Office

Should Win and Will Win: Neil Patrick Harris. I wrestled with this one for a while and I will explain later. The suit wearing, womanizing, blogger is due to take home an Emmy if not for all those things, for "lemon law". Just his name alone, Barney Stinson, makes me laugh. Jeremy Piven did awesome work this past year as the aggressive agent with a heart of "gold". Ari Gold is rough around the edges and always a force to be reckoned with (meaning Piven is the only one who could steal this award from Neil!).

Why Am I Doing This?

Last night, I was talking to a friend of mine online. We talked, well, actually, I talked, about my frustrations of not being able to find a writing job. (Backstory: I graduated in '06 from Northeastern University with a degree in Journalism, and since then I have searched relentlessly for a job, had a supposed "professional" redo my resume and write me a cover letter which as a "writer" I probably could have written myself). My friend asked me what I had written lately and I said, "what do you mean?". And he said, "well, you want to be a writer, what have you written lately?". I said, "I have written some. I have been working on a screenplay, written some poems, and have been working on some ideas for a tv series". Ok, the truth is everyone, I have not touched the screenplay since last summer. The poems were written when I was going through some tough times with my last boyfriend, and the tv series has been thought about, but not touched since last winter. However, I really do want to be a writer, it's one thing in my life that I am passionate about, and thankfully my friend recognized that and suggested that I start a blog. I had absolutely no idea what a blog really was; I thought it was a personal journal which my friend informed me was not true. He told me all I had to do was pick a name for my blog and decide what I wanted to write about. I know I can write about anything under the sun so I decided to write about everything. I wanted a catchy name, asked my friends, and then came up with the name "miss v's voice" on my own, and here I am.......... that's why I am doing this.