Saturday, December 29, 2007

If there were an award for..............

Master Collaborator of the Year the award would go to: T-Pain

Born Faheem Najm on June 30, 1985 in Tallahassee, Florida, T-Pain began composing his own music at the young age of 10. Akon signed him to his record label Konvict Records in 2002. T-Pain says that he got tired of turning on the radio and hearing the same sound over and over again; his goal was to do something a little different, and different he did. The singer uses an acoustic guitar and a vocoder which gives him a creativity and sound all his own. He has enjoyed the most success of his career in 2007 with collaborations with the top artists in R&B, rap, and pop.

T-Pain is also nominated for four Grammy Awards:

Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group: "Bartender"- T-Pain feat. Akon
Best Rap Song: "Good Life"- Kanye West feat. T-Pain
Best Rap/Sung Collaboration: "Good Life" Kanye West feat. T-Pain
Best Rap/Sung Collaboration: "Kiss Kiss" Chris Brown feat. T-Pain

Here is a listing of just some of his collaborations:

From T-Pain's Solo Album Epiphany:

"Buy U a Drank (Shawty Snappin)"- T-Pain feat. Young Joc
"Bartender"- T-Pain feat. Akon

Singles Featuring T-Pain:

"I'm a Flirt (Remix)"- R.Kelly feat. T.I. and T-Pain from R.Kelly's album Double Up
"Outta My System"- Bow Wow feat. T-Pain from Bow Wow's album The Price of Fame
"Shawty"- Plies feat. T-Pain from Plies album The Real Testament
"Baby Don't Go"- Fabolous feat. T-Pain from Fabolous's album From Nothin' to Somethin'
"Cyclone"- Baby Bash feat. T-Pain from Baby Bash's album Cyclone
"Kiss Kiss"- Chris Brown feat. T-Pain from Chris Brown's album Exclusive
"Good Life"- Kanye West feat. T-Pain from Kanye West's album Graduation

If all of this isn't enough proof that T-Pain is Master Collaborator of the Year for 2007, then I do not know what is. Good luck to him at the Grammy's!

The Top 10 Singles of 2007

(Grammy Nominations mentioned reflect those for the 50th Annual Awards show airing in February of 2008)

1. "Like You'll Never See Me Again"- Alicia Keys from the album As I Am. Ms. Keys has done it again, if this song doesn't tug at the heart strings then I don't know what will. People are comparing the style and sound of the song to Prince's "Purple Rain", something about the song's chord progression. Look for the song to be nominated for a lot of Grammy's next year.

Charts: (the number following the particular chart is the peak position of the song)
U.S. Billboard Hot 100: 13
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Airplay: 8
U.S. Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs: 1
U.S. Billboard Pop 100: 53

2. "Umbrella"- Rihanna feat. Jay Z from the album Good Girl Gone Bad. Mary J. Blige and Britney Spears supposedly passed on this song, but their loss was Rihanna's gain, and she certainly did the song justice with her island laced voice. The song was also recently nominated for Song of the Year, Record of the Year, and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for the 50th Annual Grammy Awards (airing in Feb. 2008). It is officially the biggest song on the charts in the United States for 2007 and with good reason.

U.S. Billboard Hot 100: 1
U.S. Billboard Pop 100: 1
U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Club Play: 1
U.S. Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs: 4

3. "Radio Nowhere"- Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band from the album Magic. This song is special for a lot of reasons, it references old classic Springsteen songs like "Downbound Train" and "Dancing in the Dark" and socially it takes a stand concerning the war. At the MTV Europe Music Awards 2007, when asked by Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl which song he wished he had written, R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe said "Radio Nowhere".

US Hot 100: 102

4. "Stronger"- Kanye West from the album Graduation. It wouldn't be classic Kanye if it didn't contain a sample, and "Stronger" contains a sample from the song "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger" from the French group Daft Punk. Although many critics have called Graduation West's weakest album to date, all the singles off the album have not failed to impress. The song is currently nominated for Best Rap Solo Performance for the Grammy's.

U.S. Billboard Hot 100: 1
U.S. Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs:30
U.S. Billboard Hot Rap Tracks: 3

U.S. Billboard Pop 100: 1

5. "What Goes Around...Comes Around" and "LoveStoned/ I Think That She Knows"- Justin Timberlake from the album Future Sex Love Sounds. The first has been described by critics as "Cry Me a River" part II, although this song is not about Britney Spears. The song was written by Timberlake and Timbaland (who also produced), and features a two minute interlude by JT's new best friend (Timbaland). music critic Bill Lamb stated that the song "is one of the most gorgeous pop melodies of the year." It is nominated for Record of the Year and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance at the Grammy's.

U.S. Billboard Hot 100: 1
U.S. Billboard Pop 100: 1

The second song was co-written and produced by Timberlake, Timbaland, and Danja (responsible for Britney Spears "Gimme More"). The song quickly became a dance club favorite throughout the world. It is nominated for Best Dance Recording at the Grammy's.

U.S. Billboard Hot 100: 17
U.S. Billboard Pop 100: 8
U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Club Play: 1

6. "Over You"- Daughtry from the album Daughtry. "Over You" is definitely the break up song of 2007. Lead singer Chris Daughtry said the song is about "the difficulties of getting over someone until the day you finally do". "The day I thought I’d never get through I got over you…" Amen to that. The Group is nominated for four Grammy's proving that they are the real deal.

U.S. Billboard Hot 100: 18
U.S. Billboard Pop 100: 14
U.S. Billboard Pop 100 Airplay: 9
U.S. Billboard Adult Top 40: 3

7. "Before He Cheats"- Carrie Underwood from the album Some Hearts. This song honestly makes me so happy every time I hear it because it is about a woman showing no mercy and taking revenge when her boyfriend cheats on her. The song was named the 2007 single of the year by the Country Music Association, and is Underwood's most successful song to date. It also earned three Grammy Nominations including Song of the Year, Country Song of the Year, and Best Country Vocal Performance.

U.S. Billboard Hot 100: 8
U.S. Billboard Pop 100: 9
U.S. Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks: 6
U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs: 1

8. "Irreplaceable"- Beyonce from the album B Day. Beyonce's celebration break up song features the catchy "to the left to the left" phrase and a great chorus. The song was co written by Beyonce and Neyo who said "With a woman, it (the song) comes across as empowering like, ‘I’m a strong woman’". Critics responded well to the song called it "radio friendly" and "unlike anything Beyonce has done before". The song was nominated for a Record of the Year Grammy.

U.S. Billboard Hot 100: 1
U.S. Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs: 1
U.S. Billboard Pop 100: 1
U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Club Play: 1

9. "Say it Right"- Nelly Furtado from the album Loose. Furtado co wrote "Say it Right" with Timbaland and Danja (Nate Hills), and says the Eurythmics' song "Here Comes the Rain" was an influence but explains that she is not quite sure what the song is about, "but it always takes me away to another place, and I love it", she said. She said that she does not really know what "Say It Right" is about, "but it captures the feeling I had when I wrote it, and it taps into this other sphere." The song is actually the second most successful single of 2007, and it also earned Furtado a Grammy nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.

U.S. Billboard Hot 100: 1
U.S. Billboard Pop 100: 1
U.S. Billboard Hot Adult Top 40 Tracks: 2
U.S. Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks: 19
U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Club Play: 1

10. "Clumsy"- Fergie from the album The Dutchess. The song is the fifth single off Fergie's white-hot debut solo album and was co written by Fergie,, and Bobby Troup. The song brilliantly samples Little Richard's song "The Girl Can't Help It", and I cannot help but love the song. Fergie is nominated for one Grammy.

U.S. Billboard Hot 100: 5
U.S. Billboard Pop 100: 4

Honorable Mentions:

"Waiting on the World to Change"- John Mayer, Continuum
"Promise"- Ciara, The Evolution
"I Hate That I Love You"- Rihanna feat. Neyo, Good Girl Gone Bad
"Gimme More" and "Piece of Me"- Britney Spears, Blackout
"Window in the Skies"- U2, U218 Singles
"Good Life"- Kanye West feat. T-Pain, Graduation
"Give it To Me"- Timbaland feat. Nelly Furtado and Justin Timberlake, Timbaland Presents: Shockvalue

A True Story

December 13, 2005 was a cold night in Boston, about 17 degrees outside, but it was cold for more than one reason. Police called the quadruple murders the cities "deadliest shooting in a decade", the prosecuting attorney called the murders "cold-blooded execution", and a friend of the victims said "it's like a movie". Jason "J" Bachiller, Edwin "EJ" Ducan, Chris Viera (all members of the local Boston rap group Graveside), and their friend Jihad Chankhour were all murdered on that fateful night, and worst of all was that they were murdered by a so-called friend.

It all started, presumably, at about 7:30 p.m. (December 13, 2005), Chris Viera, 19, picked up his friend Jihad Chankhour, 22 in Wakefield; they planned to meet Jason Bachiller, 21 and Edwin Duncan, 21 at Duncan's parents house in the basement music studio of EJ Duncan at 43 Bourneside Avenue in Dorchester. No one really knows what happened between 7:30 p.m. that night and the time shortly before 10 p.m. when police were called to the scene.

All four men were found in a basement family room that also contained recording equipment, the scene was described by a law enforcement official as "very bloody". According to the Boston Globe from December 15, 2005, "one was inside the doorway, two others lay next to each other about five feet away, and the fourth was at the far end of the room, sitting near the equipment, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because no permission had been given to speak publicly. There were no obvious signs of struggle, nor visible signs that the victims tried to escape. ''It looks like [the killer] shot where he found them," the official said. ''It was very, very fast.""

Police asked for help in finding the car that was used by the killer(s) for the getaway, a 1998 black Ford Escort with tinted windows belonging to one of the victims Chris Viera. Five days later on the 18th of December, the car was found on a quiet street near the Ashmont MBTA Station.

Three months following the murders, two teens were called into focus by the police; one of them knew all the victims socially and the other had a lengthy arrest record. Police also discovered that there was no evidence of a forced entry which means the victims opened the door to the killer(s), not expecting that their lives would be taken.

Finally on the 19th of May 2006, just more than five months after the murders, two arrests were made by Boston Police who wanted to build an airtight case against the killers. Police arrested 19 year old Calvin L. Carnes Jr. of Dorchester in Wareham in a car and Robert B. Turner also 19 and also of Dorchester in Dorchester. Carnes was charged with stealing a 9mm Glock pistol , an AK-47, and a shotgun from the victims. He was also charged with stealing Chris Viera's 1998 Ford Escort. Both suspects were charged with unlawful possession of a firearm, possession of an assault weapon, and possession of a shotgun.

Both men pleaded not guilty to all charges as prosecutors detailed the happenings of that fateful night on December 13th. Bachiller was shot seven times (incl. in the head and neck), Viera and Duncan were shot multiple times (also incl. the head), and Chankhour was shot once through the heart as he tried desperately to escape. The 9mm Glock pistol belonged to Viera and the AK-47 and shotgun were kept in the basement apartment of Duncan, intended for protection, not for use and to impress others in the local Boston rap music scene.

According to the Boston Globe, The Assistant District Attorney David Meier said investigators have a lot of evidence implicating the two killers:

Carnes's fingerprint in Vieira's Ford Escort, stolen from the scene of the crime.

Blood from one victim in the driver's seat area of the Escort.

Witnesses who saw a man matching Carnes's physical description leaving the scene of the crime.

Witnesses who saw Carnes and Turner in possession of Vieira's ``distinctive looking" handgun in the months after the murder.

Witnesses who say the defendants tried to fabricate an alibi by enlisting their help.

Cellphone records placing Carnes and Turner near the crime scene the night of the killings.

Witnesses who say the defendants tried to sell them the stolen guns

The sad part is that these were good kids who died. These were not kids who were into drugs or guns; they were into their music and the same thing that all guys their age are into --- girls. Duncan was president of the youth group and the drummer for the church choir at the Eliot Congregational Church in Roxbury. He started the group Graveside when he was 12 years old with his best friend, Jelani Haynes. The three surviving members of the group, Haynes, Quentin Walford, and Duncan's cousin Dion Grant were pallbearers at his funeral. Viera, also known as fat boy, was said to be the funny one. Another strange fact is that three months before his death Viera was stopped by police who found he was wearing a bulletproof vest. Bachiller was said to be the handsome one of the group, he lost both his parents when he was 6 years old and was raised by his aunt and uncle whom he attended church with every Sunday. He was interning as a producer at a Boston recording studio. Irony of all ironies, a friend of the victims said Bachiller was the godfather to Carne's 15 month old child. Chankhour was there that night as a close friend of Viera's who had gone to help the members with a music video and to fix some recording equipment; he had hoped to be a computer technician one day.

Perhaps the biggest but most simple question of all that remains to be is why. Why were these murders committed? Are the friends and family of the victims right? Was it jealously? Graveside was clearly going places, Peter Parker of 97.7 WILD-FM (station does not exist as this anymore) was promoting the band locally and helped them by producing their breakout mix CD--- "Official Basement Files, Volume 1". In 2002, the group opened for Talib Kweli at Karma on Landsdowne St. and in 2004 they opened for Jagged Edge at Lido's in Revere. Parker believed that in another year, year and a half, Graveside would have had a record deal.

''They were searching for a manager," said Alveta Haynes (mother of Jelani Haynes). ''They were worried about finding someone credible who could help them. They didn't want to be taken advantage of." Many said over and over again that all these kids wanted to do was make music.

Alveta Haynes also said, ''Graveside didn't represent death, an obsession with the grave, or putting people in graves. Graveside was interested in things that were going on in their community." It's almost like in a lot of ways, they were trying to make people aware of a very harsh reality. Violence is present, and unless we do something to stop it others are bound for the same fate that these young men suffered.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Presidential Candidates at-a-glance Series........ continues with some MORE Republicans

JOHN MCCAIN: date of birth- 8.29.36; married to Cindy Hensley McCain, seven children- Sydney, Doug Shepp, Andy Shepp, Meghan, John IV, James, and Bridget; Episcopal; United States Naval Academy and National War College; Military Officer and Senator from Arizona

JOHN’S ISSUES and what stood out:
* McCain believes taxes should be “low, simple, and fair”
Cut taxes for the middle class- an average of $2,700 a year, make it harder to raise taxes by making it require a 3 to 5 majority vote in Congress, lower medicare taxes, and eliminate wasteful spending.
* Health care will be made better and more affordable by putting families and individuals in charge of their own health care dollars and giving them “more control over their care by improving the quality of care and lowering costs by promoting competition”.
* Pro-Life- in favor of overturning Roe v. Wade and wants to promote adoption.
*The following pinpoints McCain’s strategy for a victory in Iraq- bolster troops on the ground, implement new counterinsurgency strategy, strengthen the armed forces and police of Iraq, security in Iraq is necessary for progress and stability, create a secure environment so that political and economic reconstruction can take place, keep senior officers in place in Iraq and Washington D.C., put international pressure on Syria and Iran, and win on the home front.
* Border security and immigration reform can be strengthened by building strong allies in Mexico and Latin America, recognize the importance of pro growth policies ( i.e. keep government spending in check, keep taxes low, and cut unnecessary regulatory burdens -- so American employers can hire and pay the best). Assimilate immigrants and teach them the value of learning English and respecting the values of a democratic society.
* Wants to improve Veteran’s health care by funding it, expanding access to it and providing better services, and providing health care for retired veterans.

MITT ROMNEY: date of birth- 3.12.47; married to Anne Romney, five children- Tagg, Matt, Josh, Ben, and Craig; Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints; Brigham Young University, Harvard Law School, and Harvard Business School; Businessman

MITT’S ISSUES and what stood out:
* Keep Americans safe at home and abroad by strengthening our military and increasing its size by 100,000
* To combat nuclear terrorism, Romney believes we must do the following:
Tighten economic sanctions against Iran
Isolate Iran diplomatically
Arab states should join efforts to help prevent a nuclear Iran
* Make the Latin American countries our allies, rebuild our relationship of respect and trust with them
* End our dependence on foreign suppliers of oil ---- "The United States must become energy independent. This does not mean no longer importing or using oil. It means making sure that our nation's future will always be in our hands. Our decisions and destiny cannot be bound to the whims of oil-producing states." We should increase our domestic production of oil.
* Stop the overspending- Romney says we should establish strict spending limits, reform entitlement spending, and institute the line item veto,
* Stop illegal immigration- secure the border, implement an enforceable employer verification system, reject amnesty, punish sanctuary cities, make stiffer fines and penalties for companies that continue to hire illegal immigrants, and encourage legal immigration.
* To make our health care system a higher quality, more affordable, and more available Romney believes we should--
“ Deregulate State Markets. Encourage states to eliminate the cumbersome insurance regulations that drive costs up and providers out of the market.
Fix The Tax Code. Level the playing field by making all health care expenses tax deductible, eliminating the special treatment afforded employer-provided health plans.
Stop The Free-Riders. Use some of the money currently spent on providing expensive "free care" for the uninsured at emergency rooms to instead help the truly needy buy private insurance.
Reform The Medical Liability System. Institute federal caps on non-economic and punitive damage awards to eliminate frivolous lawsuits and bring an end to the practice of defensive medicine.
Promote Innovation In Medicaid. Give states flexibility to spend their Medicaid dollars in whatever way they find most efficient and effective.
Bring Health Care Into The 21st Century. Improve quality and enhance transparency by introducing the same competitive forces that drive innovation in other sectors of the economy.”
* Pro-Life
*Supports traditional marriage
* Has a record for excellence in education while he was governor of the state of Massachusetts
wants to expand opportunities for higher education and offer the best education they can so they can excel in jobs in the community.

Presidential Candidates at-a-glance Series........ continues with some Republicans

Republican Candidates:

RUDY GIULIANI: date of birth- 5.28.44; married to Judith Nathan, three children- Andrew, Caroline, and Whitney; Roman Catholic; Manhattan College and New York University School of Law; Lawyer, Businessman, Consultant, and former Mayor of New York City.

RUDY’S ISSUES and what stood out:
* Rudy has something called the 12 Commitments which is really quite innovative- (The 12 Points are taken from his website)
1. I will keep America on offense in the Terrorists’ War on Us.
2. I will end illegal immigration, secure our borders, and identify every non-citizen in our nation.
3. I will restore fiscal discipline and cut wasteful Washington spending.
4. I will cut taxes and reform the tax code.
5. I will impose accountability on Washington.
6. I will lead America towards energy independence.
7. I will give Americans more control over and access to health care with affordable and portable free-market solutions.
8. I will increase adoptions, decrease abortions, and protect the quality of life for our children.
9. I will reform the legal system and appoint strict constructionist judges.
10. I will ensure that every community in America is prepared for terrorist attacks and natural disasters.
11. I will provide access to a quality education to every child in America by giving real school choice to parents.
12. I will expand America’s involvement in the global economy and strengthen our reputation around the world.
* The 12 Commitments are further explained on his website, and in depth and detail.

MIKE HUCKABEE: date of birth- 8.24.55; married to Janet Huckabee, three children- John Mark, David, and Sarah; Baptist; Ouachita Baptist University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; Businessman and Baptist Minister.

MIKE’S ISSUES and what stood out:
* Mike has a 9 point plan for immigration and border enforcement-
1. Build the fence
2. Increase the border control
3. Prevent amnesty
4. Enforce the law on employers
5. Establish an economic border
6. Empower local authorities
7. Ensure document security
8. Discourage dual citizenship
9. Modernize the process of legal immigration
* Pro-Life- is also against partial birth abortion and embryonic cell research
* Huckabee believes that music and arts are not extra curricular activities in school and every child should be provided with music and arts classes in school
* Huckabee wants to give people more control over their health care and more options. He believes “jobs do not need health care, people do”. Health care should not be “employer based but rather, consumer based”.
* Believes in free trade but fair trade
* Americans are not “overtaxed”, the government “overspends”.
* Marriage is a union between one man and one woman
* Does not believe a timetable should be set for the withdrawal of the troops. Huckabee is more focused on winning the war rather than withdrawing from it.
* Will expand the army and increase the defense budget
* Supports being an ally to Israel and supports a free and democratic Cuba

Thursday, December 20, 2007

American Idol Update and other stuff

Oh baby! Say it ain't so. Rumor has it, and is reporting that former American Idol contestant Jessica Sierra is pregnant. The supposed father is a rap star, I wonder who? I will keep everyone posted with more information on this story as soon as I receive it.

And totally unrelated to American Idol. ................ who else is pregnant? Britney Spears little sister Jamie Lynn Spears. The 16 year old star of Nickelodeon's "Zoey 101" is reportedly three or four months along. The supposed father to be is 19 year old Casey Aldridge, Jamie Lynn's boyfriend. According to many state laws, Aldridge could be arrested for statutory rape if Spears parents want to press charges. Aldridge reportedly told his uncle that he wants to get married to Jamie Lynn as soon as possible.

Grammy Nominations are out and Carrie Underwood is nominated in two categories----
Best Female Country Vocal Performance for “Before He Cheats”
and Best Country Collaboration for “Oh Love” with Brad Paisley

Carrie will also perform this year on Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve and so will .......
Miley Cyrus, Jonas Brothers, Fergie, Akon, Natasha Bedingfield, Sean Kingston, OneRepublic, Plain White T's, Taylor Swift, and

Chris Daughtry and his band Daughtry picked up four Grammy Nominations! ----
Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals: "Home"
Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals: "It's Not Over"
Best Rock Song: "It's Not Over"
Best Rock Album: DAUGHTRY

(Just as a side note.... The 50th Annual Grammy Awards will air on February 10, 2008 on CBS. I will definitely have more on this. I promise.)

Presidential Candidates at-a-glance Series .... continued

BARACK OBAMA: date of birth- 8.4.61; married to Michelle Obama, two children- Malia and Sasha; United Church of Christ; Harvard Law School, Occidental College, Columbia University; Lawyer and Senator from Illinois.

BARACK’S ISSUES and what stood out:
* Plans to begin to withdrawing troops immediately those engaged in combat will be withdrawn at a pace of one or two brigades every month, to be completed by the end of next year.
* Has a detailed health care plan --- will save a typical American family up to $2,500 every year on premiums by:
Providing affordable, comprehensive and portable health coverage for every American;
Modernizing the U.S. health care system to contain spiraling health care costs and improve the quality of patient care; and
Promoting prevention and strengthening public health to prevent disease and protect against natural and man-made disasters.
* Obama plans to cover the uninsured and employers will be required to contribute a percentage of payroll toward the costs of the national plan. It will be mandatory that all children have health coverage and Medicaid and SCHIP will be expanded.
* Wants to ensure that all working people have the right to unionize, an estimated 60 million Americans would join a union if given the chance. Too many companies (including the one I work for) deny their employees the right to organize a union.
* In education, Obama plans to increase funding for Head Start, put high quality teachers in low income classrooms, give more summer school opportunities to low income students, and make college more affordable (wants to increase Pell Grant’s maximum amount to $5,100.
* Believes there needs to be a focus on both urban and rural poverty, and still believes there are things that need to be done in New Orleans for Katrina victims.
* Obama believes we should be taking better care of our veterans.
1. Shelter and rehabilitate homeless veterans
2. Fight for Illinois veterans fair share of disability benefits
3. Feeding recovering wounded veterans
4. Treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury
5. Ease the transition of veterans into society when they come back from war

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Presidential Candidates at-a-glance Series

Last time we had a presidential election I was uninterested and I have decided that for the presidential election of 2008 that knowledge is power. I have put together an “At-A-Glance” Guide of the candidates, and I have included their websites so that if you are interested in learning more about someone you can do so. Happy voting, and remember that no matter what, every vote does make a difference.
Information comes from Washington Post website ( ) and Presidential Candidate Websites.

Democratic Candidates:

JOE BIDEN: date of birth- 11.20.42; married to Neila Hunter (died in 1972 in a car accident) , now married to Jill Tracy Jacobs, four children- Joseph III, Robert, Amy (d. in 1972), and Ashley (with Jill); Catholic; attended college at Univ. of Delaware and Syracuse Univ. of Law; currently a lawyer and Senator of Delaware.

JOE’S ISSUES and what stood out:
* Wants to create a college ACCESS plan that will help middle class families cover the cost of tuition by creating a single $3,000 refundable tax credit. However, this plan will raise taxes.
* 5 Point plan for Iraq- 1. Establish one Iraq with three regions
2. Share oil revenues
3.Convene international conference, enforce regional non-aggression act
4. Responsibly draw down U.S. Troops
5. Increase reconstruction assistance and create a jobs program
*Pro-Choice (even though he is Catholic)
* Supports Title X- a family planning program that provides information, services, support, and research for family planning
* Wants to stop the violence in Darfur by deploying an international peacekeeping force, ensure access for humanitarian workers, and negotiate a political settlement.
* Health care: CARE plan proposes four steps toward universal health care:
1. Cover all Children
2. Access for Adults
3. Reinsurance For Catastrophic Cases
4. Encouraging Prevention and Modernization

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: date of birth- 10.26.47; married to Bill Clinton and one daughter Chelsea; United Methodist; attended Wellesley College and Yale Law School; lawyer and Junior Senator of New York.

HILLARY’S ISSUES and what stood out:
* Wants to make health care affordable and accessible to every American- if you lose your job or change your job, you keep your health care; no discriminating, insurance companies will not be able to deny you coverage if you have a pre-existing condition.
* Wants to reduce energy costs
* Increase minimum age and a paycheck fairness act (so women will earn the same amount as men for the same job). The Paycheck Fairness Act includes having the right to know what other people make, strengthening the penalties associated with wage discrimination, and the federal government setting higher standards.
* Ending the War in Iraq (and acting immediately)
1. Bring the troops home
2. Work to bring stability to the region
3. Replace military force with a new diplomatic initiative to engage countries around the world in securing Iraq’s future.
* Pro-Choice (“Women’s right are human rights”)
* Supports the DREAM Act
* Solutions to the Immigration Crisis- strengthen our borders, better cooperation with neighboring countries, stricter penalties for those who exploit undocumented workers, steps for an earned legal status for those already here, work hard, pay taxes, respect the laws, and learn English.

CHRIS DODD: date of birth- 5.24.44; married to Jackie Dodd, two daughters- Grace and Christina; Roman Catholic; attended Providence College and University of Louisville Law; Lawyer and Senator of Connecticut; U.S. Army 1969-1975 and Peace Corps Volunteer in the Dominican Republic 1966-1968.

CHRIS’S ISSUES and what stood out:
* His plan to end the War- “Iraq must assume the responsibility of policing and governing itself. There isn’t an army big enough or a Treasury deep enough if Iraqis aren’t willing to fight for that for themselves”. He has an Amendment in the Senate with Senators Reid and Feingold which says -
1. Begin safely deploying U.S. combat troops out of Iraq within 120 days.
2. Provide every penny necessary for safe redeployment of our troops
3. Complete redeployment by April 30, 2008
* His health care plan ensures that everyone will have health by the end of his first term. The Dodd plan will create a health insurance marketplace called “Universal HealthMart” (it is very similar to The Federal Employee Health Benefits Plan), Americans will have the same health plan members of Congress have. This also means that coverage will be portable, so regardless of if you have a job or switch jobs you will have the same health care. Insurance companies will not be able to discriminate if you have a pre-existing condition.
* Dodd cosponsored the Paycheck Fairness Act which strengthened the Equal Pay Act
* Pro-Choice- will ensure that all women have access to contraceptive services and equity in prescription drug coverage.
* Dodd cosponsored the SAFE Act which ensures that victims of domestic violence are allowed 30 days (unpaid) away from work to take necessary precautions without being fired or demoted.
*Wants to help renew rural America
-Ensuring that family farmers and ranchers get a fair price and have access to a strong safety net -Opening new markets to American agricultural products, enforcing existing trade agreements and ensuring that new trade agreements are fair and balanced
-Creating new opportunities for homegrown, renewable energy so that our future energy sources come from the Midwest and not the Middle East
-Incentivizing American businesses to bring new jobs to rural communities
-Ending the rural digital divide through a national rural broadband initiative

JOHN EDWARDS: date of birth- 6.10.53; married to Elizabeth Edwards, five children- Wade (died 1996), Cate, Emma, Claire, and Jack; Methodist; North Carolina State University, University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill; Trial Lawyer, Director of the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity, Former Senator.

JOHN’S ISSUES and what stood out:
*Under Edward’s plan families without coverage will receive coverage at an affordable price, families with insurance will pay less and have more choices, and businesses will be able to offer better coverage to it’s employees for less money and with ease.
He plans to achieve universal coverage by-
Requiring businesses and other employers to either cover their employees or help finance their health insurance.
Making insurance affordable by creating new tax credits, expanding Medicaid and SCHIP, reforming insurance laws, and taking innovative steps to contain health care costs.
Creating regional "Health Care Markets" to let every American share the bargaining power to purchase an affordable, high-quality health plan, increase choices among insurance plans, and cut costs for businesses offering insurance.
* Has a proposal that may end poverty by 2036
* Will help rural America with REACH- Rural Economic Advancement Challenge Fund to bring capital and management expertise. He will help family farmers by strictly enforcing laws against anticompetitive mergers, unfair pricing, and country-of-origins laws.
* 5 point plan to end the War in Iraq-
1. Stop escalation and start the drawdown of combat troops
2. Prohibit funding for new troops that do not meet readiness standards
3. Clarify the lack of legal foundation for the war
4. Withdraw combat troops within 9 to 10 months
5. Take additional steps to stabilize Iraq
* Edward’s plan against terrorism-
Lead a new global compact against terrorism, improve human intelligence, bolster support for foreign counterterrorism, shut down WMD transfers, escalate efforts against extremism at home, domestic agencies need to be effective, and achieve energy independence.
* Proposes a “college for everyone” initiative that would be national- Under Edward’s plan public college tuition fees, and books would be paid for 2 million students. Students would be required to work part time in college, take college prep curriculum in high school, and stay out of trouble.
* FAFSA (Federal Application for Student Aid) would be simplified with two thirds of the questions being eliminated
* Pro-Choice- defends the woman’s right to choose

Monday, December 3, 2007

"Breaking News": American Idol Update

It seems that a former top ten contestant of American Idol is in deep trouble with the law. Season 5 contestant Jessica Sierra was arrested over the weekend, and I was waiting for more details; the most detailed account so far comes from and so I give you the link --- check it out for yourself: .

The Smoking Gun website also has detailed accounts by police officers of what happened, and believe me, it's not pretty by any means, here is that link -- .

Let's all hope that she is able to overcome her addiction.

American Idol Update

Blake Lewis will release his debut album "Audio Day Dream" (A.D.D) on December 4th; the first single off that album is "Break Anotha" which was co-written by Lewis and One Republic's Ryan Tedder and Sam Watters.
He will appear on Regis and Kelly on December 7.

Season 1 Winner Kelly Clarkson will be touring for about one month on a "limited engagement tour" with her mentor Reba McEntire. The tour will begin on January 17 and end on February 16. Check Kelly ( ) or Reba's website ( ) for details.

Season 5 Winner Carrie Underwood walked away with three American Music Awards last month, and is now going on tour.

Chris Daughtry and his group Daughtry also took home three American Music Awards last month. He has also announced that Daughtry will be touring with Bon Jovi from February to April 2008. Daughtry is also nominated for two People's Choice Awards and everyone can vote at !

Sunday, December 2, 2007

The Top 10 Shows I Couldn’t Live Without in 2007

1. Lost - Season three started with Jack, Sawyer, and Kate being held hostage by the “Others”, and ended with Charlie dead, and Locke and Ben (on the same side) believing that the castaways have made a mistake by radioing for help. The season truly was a rollercoaster ride from start to finish: there were love triangles- Jack, Sawyer, Kate and Jack, Kate, Juliet; death- Colleen (“Other”), Eko, Pickett (Other), Nikki, Paulo, Naomi, and Charlie; and as always, lots of questions. What really killed Eko and what is a smoke monster? Has Locke gone crazy and whose side is he really on? Who is Jacob? What is it with the “Others” and pregnant women? Did Penny get Charlie’s message and will she and Desmond be reunited? Why isn’t Mikhail dead? Why didn’t Jack kill Ben when he had the chance? Flash-forwards are introduced for the first time and Jack looks terrible, yet Kate looks luminous. Whose funeral does Jack ask Kate to go to? Who does Kate have to get home to? So many questions, so little time- I cannot wait to have some of them answered. (Wed. on ABC)

2.Friday Night Lights - I already wrote about this show and called it “fantastic”. What more can I say? Friday Night Lights is one of the best written drama series ever, it is a critic’s darling, and has one of the best ensemble casts currently on television. I think viewers are enamored by Friday Night Lights simply because it’s real; the show brings today’s issues to the table and shows us just how people deal with those issues. It’s a show that makes us jump up and cheer during the good times and cry in defeat in the bad times, and although we sometimes cry; we still want to watch. (Fri. at 9 on NBC)

3. Ugly Betty - says the premise of Ugly Betty is “an ordinary girl from Queens tries to fit into the world of high fashion”. However, Betty Suarez is anything but ordinary, she is extraordinary and America Ferrera and the rest of the cast make up the best dramedy cast on television. Ugly Betty is much like a telenovela, the storylines are serialized centering Betty as she attempts to balance her social, family, and work life. Her social life lacks big time- she has broken up with her boyfriend Walter who cheated on her with neighborhood hussy Gina Gambarro. Betty kind of likes accountant Henry Grubstick but complications stand in the way of a relationship. Her family life consists of her immigrant father Ignacio, older hairstylist sister Hilda, and nephew turned intern at MODE Justin. Work isn’t always great, thank goodness for her MODE friends- Christina, Henry, and Daniel. Betty has to constantly be on her toes for boss Daniel Meade who often throws her a curve ball, but they appreciate each other’s friendship. Betty also has quite a few enemies, number one being Wilhelmina Slater and her henchman Mark, and receptionist Amanda Tanen who try to embarrass Betty at every chance they receive. The show is smart, witty, and a joy to watch; Ugly Betty is by no means ugly. (Wed. at 8 on ABC)

4. Law & Order SVU - As Detective Benson and Detective Stabler, Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni may be the most dynamic duo on TV; they certainly are two of the most highly paid, reportedly making $350,000 per episode. The beginning of every episode begins with the same lines- "In the criminal justice system, sexually based offenses are considered especially heinous. In New York City, the dedicated detectives who investigate these vicious felonies are members of an elite squad known as the Special Victims Unit. These are their stories." The plots typically revolve around both high profile and real life cases and sometimes famous fictional works. Some of my favorites included- a “he said, she said” rape case involving a divorced husband and wife involved in a child custody battle (Michael Michele and Blair Underwood played the couple), a lawyer is attacked and his wife is murdered but his daughter who was supposedly at the scene of the crime recalls nothing as a result of a drunken night of partying (Emily Van Camp of former WB show “Everwood” plays the daughter), Laura Leighton (of Melrose Place fame) guest starred as a mom who supplied alcohol to her daughter’s friends for parties and slept with those friends as well, and a high school teacher (played by Melissa Joan Hart) is suspected of raping her student with whom she is having a relationship but she claims he raped her. Here’s to Benson and Stabler becoming more seasoned detectives and all of us watching. (Tues. at 10 on NBC)

5. Desperate Housewives - The housewives are back in full force this season, but it wouldn’t have been this good unless the end of season three set it up to be that way. In a previous entry I already talked about what happened at the end of season three, so instead I would prefer to talk about what is going to happen. This season has been centered around new, but not so new, neighbor Catherine Mayfair moving back onto Wisteria Lane. Viewers have since discovered that Catherine is harsh and has a mean streak in her, she slapped her daughter Dylan and ordered her not to see Julie anymore, accused her husband of having a wandering eye, and is keeping a deep dark secret that the other housewives are trying to figure out. Lynette’s cancer is in remission and she has both her parents back in her life (she also discovers that the reason her parents broke up is because her father discovered that he was gay). Susan starts off on the wrong foot with the new gay couple next door (Bob and Lee). Mike confesses to Susan that his father is still alive and in prison, and Susan later discovers that Mike is taking drugs. She orders him to stop for the sake of their family, but discovers there are more hidden in his car prescribed by Orson Hodge. Bree swears Adam to secrecy as he delivers Danielle’s baby boy Benjamin who Bree will raise as her child with Orson. Gabi continues her affair with Carlos while at the same time trying to end her marriage to Victor. Victor threatens to expose Gabi for attempted murder when he regains his memory in the hospital. He remembers that Gabi knocked him over the head while they were on their honeymoon on his yacht in the middle of nowhere. Carlos, who was a stowaway onboard, helped Gabi dump an unconscious and supposedly dead Victor off the yacht. Edie vows revenge on Carlos and Gabi for their affair. A tornado and its aftermath will strike Wisteria Lane and some will wind up dead and others will learn not to take each other for granted. There will be more deaths to follow this season and then hopefully the writer’s strike will be over so we can continue with the best season in two years! (Sun. at 9 on ABC)

6. Brothers & Sisters - Let’s admit it, there is no show on TV that can boast a famous and powerhouse cast like Brothers & Sisters; there is Oscar Winner Sally Field, Golden Globe Winner Calista Flockhart, Emmy and Oscar Nominee Rachel Griffiths, Tony Winner Ron Rifkin, Emmy and Golden Globe Nominee Rob Lowe ,Emmy Winner Patricia Wettig and a bunch of people who despite being in tons of series and films before this are having their breakout roles on this show. For example there is, Dave Annable who was on Reunion, Balthazar Getty who was on Alias, Emily VanCamp who was on Everwood, Welsh actor Matthew Rhys, and Sarah Morris who was on Felicity. The series is about the upper class Walker family and their lives in L.A., sounds glitzy right? No! Their lives are a legitimate mess. Nora’s (Sally Field) husband William, who died in the first episode, had an affair and she is now in search of a new companion, Justin (Dave Annable) is a drug addict and soldier trying to recover (or is he?), Rebecca (Emily VanCamp) is William’s illegitimate child, Sarah’s (Rachel Griffith) marriage is over and she is in a child custody battle, Kitty (Calista Flockhart) is married to a Senator (Rob Lowe) and figuring out life in the spotlight, and Saul (Ron Rifkin) still struggles with his sexuality. Oh the drama! And oh how we love to watch! (Sun. at 10 on ABC)

7. - Gossip Girl - Fergie’s song “Glamorous” is used in the majority of the TV campaigns for Gossip Girl and it is obvious why; the show centers around formal and informal social events taking place in New York’s Upper East Side. Some of the series characters are comfortable and rise to the occasion, whatever it may be, and others struggle to find their way and be accepted by the in-crowd, others don’t care to be a part of the in-crowd. Super-couple Serena and Dan couldn’t be from more different worlds, and supposed friends and definite enemies are trying to tear them apart. Serena’s sometimes best friend Blair doesn’t always want Serena to be happy, Blair’s boyfriend Nate has a thing for Serena and wants her for himself, and resident bad boy Chuck doesn’t like Dan (because Dan punched him out when he was trying to score with Dan’s little sister Jenny) or Serena for that matter (because she isn’t interested in him. Serena’s mom (Lili) would rather than Serena and Dan weren’t together because Lili has a history with Dan’s father Rufus. Dan’s best friend (who now wants to be his girlfriend) Vanessa is back and she wants Dan all to herself. Who knew that so much could center around two people? I for one think Serena and Dan are the perfect couple, let’s hope they end up better off than Romeo and Juliet. (Wed. at 9:00 on the CW)

8. Grey’s Anatomy - I must admit that I started to get bored with Grey’s and I happened to tune in for the season finale last spring and, just like that, I was hooked again. Brief recap that hooked me again: Dr. Burke left Cristina at the altar (I always thought Cristina would leave him being that she was a commitment freak), the Callie, George, Izzie triangle was left unresolved, Meredith and McDreamy’s relationship was also left unresolved (absolutely no surprise there; Meredith is a flake, she cannot help it), George failed his intern exam, and Addison decided to move to L.A. (she got her own series Private Practice). The fourth season has been anything but disappointing- Meredith is still confused, yet everyone still likes her, and the hottest gossip at Seattle Grace is still who’s sleeping with who. Some things never change. (Thurs. at 9 on ABC)

9. ER- In it’s twilight year, ER is like a fine wine; it only gets better with age. County General has been revitalized in the past few years with new and interesting characters. The intelligent writers and producers at the show realized that there was no replacing characters like George Clooney’s, Dr. Doug Ross (and just to mention a few more Dr. Mark Greene [Anthony Edwards], Nurse Carol Hathaway [Julianne Margulies], Dr. Peter Benton [Eriq La Salle], Dr. John Carter [Noah Wyle], Dr. Jeanie Boulet [Gloria Reuben], Dr. Susan Lewis [Sherry Stringfield], and click onto this site to see the best of the rest ) and so they didn’t- they created brand new characters that their viewers would embrace and love just the same. Just like the viewer routed for Carol and Doug they are routing for Abby (Maura Tierney) and Luka (Goran Visnjic). Dr Gregg Pratt (Mekhi Pfifer) takes chances in the same way that Dr. Ross did, Dr. Neela Rosgotra (Parminder Nagra) is a spitfire the same way Dr. Elizabeth Corday (Alex Kingston) was, and Nurse Sam Taggart (Linda Cardellini) is looking for true love and struggling to make ends meet just like Nurse Hathaway. With a winning formula like this viewers wish ER would live forever. (Thurs. at 10 on NBC)

10. Samantha Who? - Emerging as the highest rated new comedy series of the season., Samantha Who, is the newest series on my list. The cast is great, and lead by Emmy Award Winner (for a guest starring role as Rachel’s sister on Friends) Christina Applegate of Married with Children fame; Jennifer Esposito, Barry Watson, and Jean Smart round out the cast. Esposito plays Sam’s best friend Andrea, Watson is her ex boyfriend Todd, and Smart plays Sam’s mom Regina. For all those who have never watched and are now going to start watching, the comedy is about a 30 year old real estate lawyer who develops amnesia after becoming the victim of a hit and run accident. Samantha Newly (Applegate) must rediscover her life, love, and relationships with friends, family, and strangers. By the end of this season, I hope most will no longer be saying what is Samantha Who? (Mon. at 9 on ABC)