Saturday, January 29, 2011

Giving To Others

Well, my favorite singer, David Archuleta,  is in India right now visiting with and learning about the people that are served by one of his favorite charities, Rising Star Outreach. RSO is an organization that serves people with Leprosy and there families.  You see, in India, people suffering from this horrible disease are not helped by the government, but instead are forced to live an isolated life in colonies far from the bustling cities. Instead of receiving help, they are forced to beg on the street for what they can get.

David has told us, his fans, that this is not acceptable and we can do something to help these people. David was introduced to this problem through his dentist, who has gone to India with a medical team to provide these people their first dental help. When David's fans heard that money was needed for equipment for this cause, they quickly stepped up to help.  Most recently, RSO built a school for the children of this colony. David's fans have raised money for this school and for a beautiful walkway which was built to join the school and other buildings on the property.  Earlier this week, I read that David's fans alone had raised over $40,000 for RSO's school, and money is still coming in. Fans are joining forces to purchase personalized bricks for the Pathway of Hope. And all of this has happened without David having ever visited these people until now.

Today is World Leprosy Day, a day set side to remind the rest of us that this terrible disease still exists, but it can be treated. We all need to be aware of this disease and hopefully one day it can be prevented.

I don't know of any activities planned for here in Austin to draw awareness to this cause.  Maybe I should have done something, but I only found out about this a few days ago. Maybe in the future I can help with this here at home.

At least David would be proud to know that I am going out to do community service for another cause today.  My church has dedicated six Saturday's a year as "Go and Do" Saturdays, where we as a church, volunteer at 6 to 8 different organizations around Austin. Some go to the Food Bank, some go to a Habitat for Humanity house build, some to a halfway house, and a variety of other places to help them.  Today my daughter and I are going to a new organization, The South Austin Pregnancy Resource Center.  I'm not totally sure what we will be working on there but I do know that the organization is important in this community.  I'll finish this when we get back.

Fast morning but I feel good about the work that we did.  Six of us organized, sorted ,and cleaned at the South Austin Pregnancy Resource Center.  It was very interesting as only one person in our group has worked there before.  The organization is a Christian group that has counseling services and materials for any girl or woman who is pregnant. All of the services are free for the clients. The center provides monograms for the women, maternity clothes, diapers, and baby clothes and supplies.  I was really impressed to learn that everything in the center, from the monogram machine to the furniture to the clothing, all are donated by different churches and businesses.  And each client is also offered prayers and introduced to the Gospel.  This center is a positive alternative to the Planned Parenthood centers that are pro-abortion and offers these women  the option of keeping their babies even if they don't think they can afford them. They can also refer clients to Christian adoption agencies if they would prefer this route.

Amanda and I felt good about the work that we did today.  It wasn't difficult, but it was work that needed to be done. We are even talking about going back to volunteer at the center in the future.

Friday, January 28, 2011

American Idol 10: Auditions week #2

January 26 - Milwaukee auditions

Even though the show named 12 contestants that were sent through to Hollywood and referred to 3 additional 15 yr olds that they sent through also, I didn't think that all of these should advance.  I am only going to talk about the ones I liked.

Scotty McCreery-16-  Fabulous country singer.  Incredible low register and my daughter thinks he's easy to look at too. Will appeal to many people- All-American boy, very clean-cut, wearing a cross, plays baseball in high school, country but not dressed overly country.  Best of the competition so far for me.

Naima Adedapo- 25- reggae girl- Powerful voice, different look that might hold some people back from voting for her, but I liked her singing.

Molly DeWolf Swensen- 22- Harvard grad working as intern at White House. Wonderful low register and very confident - Sang, Sittin on the Dock of the Bay.

Scott Dangerfield- 22- Student teacher- Very soulful- Nice voice- Jennifer Lopez said "He felt the music in his body."

Alyson Jados- 26- Looks like she could be Steven Tyler's daughter- Sang, Come Together  - great job- definitely a rocker chick.

Chris Medina- 26- Sad story of the night- caregiver for his fiance who was in a wreck right before wedding day and has traumatic head injury.  Sang, Breakeven.  Very emotional song for him but he did an excellent job

January 27- Nashville auditions

In my opinion, AI spotlighted too many "NO'S" tonight. Showing a few is ok but don't drowned us in them.

Chelsee Oaks and Rob Bolin- both 23- Nashville- ex's that still duet together.  Sang duet first and sounded awesome. Blended perfectly, great harmony.  Separately, Chelsee has a sweet voice, Rob didn't thrill me- soulful but not fantastic.  Not sure if they can make it separately but won't go far on AI as duo.

Adrianne Beasley- 23- Farm girl, literally, lives on a farm- African-American but adopted but older white couple when she was two.  Powerful, awesome voice- Sang, American Honey.  Steven said she has a special quality to her voice. I liked her a lot. Hope she goes far.

Matt Dillard- 27- inspirational story of the day- Total farm boy look: overalls, tank top, straw cowboy hat. "I can pretty up too."
Family has raised 700 foster kids many with special needs.  Sang, You Raise Me Up.  Started a little high but did a nice job. Randy concerned show might swallow him up, I agree.  Not my favorite but nice voice and nice guy. We'll see what happens.

Lauren Alaina- now 16- sad story of the day- cousin Holly (like sister) had a brain tumor. Holly encouraged Lauren to try out. Awesome voice and personality. Getting too much hype from judges though which has usually spelled doom in past seasons.   Sang second song with Steven Tyler, her parents song, Steven's Sweet Surrender. Steven joined in.  Lauren sounded great but got too much praise.

I live in Austin, TX and am looking forward to next Wednesday's auditions from here.  My kids' both know people who tried out but we haven't heard how they did. Previews make Austin look like a bunch of hot-heads but I hope some great singers are found here too.  We have plenty of them.  In the mean time: Keep Austin Weird.

Monday, January 24, 2011

American Idol Returns for 10th Season

Well, it is official.  The new season of American Idol has begun.  I wasn't sure if I wanted to watch it this year or not.  It is just a silly reality show. Nothing important ever happens on reality show, does it?  There hasn't ever been any real talent discovered on this show, has there?

Okay, so I am addicted to the silly show. I love to see if they can find any real talent that is willing to give up their lives to take part in this show.  I love to see if there are actually people in this world who can be given a remarkable opportunity to reach millions of people and not blow their chance to positively impact those millions.

I haven't always watched American Idol, in fact I avoided it for a number of years.  I use to only watch the audition rounds of the show.  I started watching season 6 about half way through the season. My daughter  (then 15) and I were pulling for Jordin Sparks.  I didn't actually watch an entire season until season 7.  That was the year that we became totally hooked on the show.  We didn't miss a show.  We even started to vote for the contestants that we liked that year.  Season 7 had the most talented  group of people that I had ever seen on a talent show. And of course, the most talented of them all, David Archuleta, quickly became our favorite. Oh, we voted for others (Jason Castro) also but not like we voted for David. (No, I don't call him Archie. It's just not right.)  We were sad when he lost to David Cook, but I truly believe that it was Divine intervention that he lost. David wasn't ready to have that much thrown at him at that point in his life.

My daughter and I watched most of season 8 and season 9, even though they couldn't hold a candle to season 7.  We had our favorites, none of whom won, or even came in close to winning.  I guess we have different taste in performers than the rest of America.

That being sad, I am going to write about my favorite performances each week for this season and see how I do on choosing the winner this year. So here it goes, starting with the audition rounds, where a few acts are featured and we don't see good acts who didn't get their songs cleared for the show.

First, so far, I love the new judges.  Steven Tyler is funny and knowledgeable and Jennifer Lopez is beautiful and has great taste in music.  I'm sure it will get easier for her tell acts that they aren't good, just give her time. I do wish that they had replaced Randy Jackson.  He is boring to me, except when he is totally surprised by something and then he looks like his eyes are going to pop out of his head. I think that it is the new glasses that do it. Otherwise, he is still just Randy.

I am only commenting on good acts not negative things. If they don't have a good voice don't show them in the show. I don't like when they humiliate people, like the young man who talked about being a Boy Scout. Do they have any idea how difficult it is to become an Eagle Scout? I doubt any of them could do it. It involves years of countless service to others and work on both the boy's part and usually his family too. Yes, I have a son about to become an Eagle. And by the way, they certainly are not all Geeks either. My son plays football, runs track, works out constantly, works hard in school, and plans to join the military in the future. If that is a Geek, than so be it. (Rant over)

Jan. 19, 2011 New York / New Jersey auditions

Rachel Zevita- 22- she has a good voice but I thought she was too emotional. Needs to be able to hold it together for this long competition.  I didn't like her song choice of Hallelujah.

Caleb Hawley- 25-  he was way too rough-looking for me. Needs a stylist big time. Can't wait to see what they do to him before they next round. Voice was ok for me. Rocker?

Robbie Rosen- 16- young but a good voice. Loved his song choice, Yesterday. Just right combo for me. Hated the fact that they had to overly highlight the wheelchair time as a youth. Just win on singing.

Victoria Huggins- 16- "sugary sweet"- cute. Good voice, I liked Midnight Train To Georgia as the song choice.

Melinda Ademi- 16- another sad story, refugee family from Kosovo?. Pretty girl and sweet voice.

Travis Orlando- 16- Family had been homeless.  I liked him the best for these auditions.

Jan. 20, 2011 New Orleans auditions

Jordan Dorsey- 21- Sang Somewhere Over The Rainbow. Nice vocals, obviously more experience and confidence that the young teens.  Musician, and piano and voice teacher for neighborhood kids. One of my favorites

Sarah Sellers- 28- Nice voice but not as good as the judges said.  Lots of personality. Older (28) and experienced in the working world, so she knows how to carry herself. Needs a stylist in my opinion.

Brett Loewenstern- 16- Nice voice. Very different young man, outcast in school. Only 16 and might have a hard time with all of the pressure on this show.

Jacee Badeaux-15- Really nice voice for so young.  Loved his song choice, Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay.  Concern, voice may not have changed and could run into problems with this in competition. One of my favorites of the night.

Paris Tassin- 23- Sad story here again.  Daughter is a special-needs child. Sang Temporary Home.  Nice voice, not sure if she could handle the pressure of being away from her daughter for long.  Made    J LO cry but not me.

Well, there it is.  The first of my critiques for AI 10.  We'll see how this goes through the auditions and if I keep writing or not.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Task of the Day

David Archuleta has taken to twitter lately to give his loyal followers different tasks to occupy there time while we wait for a tour. These tasks started in November and have been met with enthusium by the fan-world.

Below are my responses to the tasks.

November 24, 2010: Challenge for the day: Visit a neighbor you haven't spoken to for a while or haven't met yet. A quick hello might be what they need today.  
I spoke to my neighbor as she was walking by my house on the way to the mailbox. The neighbor is older and my kids think that she is mean (She did yell at them for no reason when they were younger) but I think she is just lonely. She always seems happy if we say hello.

December 6, 2010: Here's a task for the day: call a grandparent, great aunt/uncle, etc. and ask them how they're doing or if they have a cool story.  
Since I no longer have grandparents, or parents for that matter, I spoke to my mother in law. She is great at telling stories about the past even if you didn't ask for one. :)

December 14, 2010: Task for the week: write a letter to someone. Don't text or email, actually write it! It shows the effort you made to reach out. 
Well, imagine my surprise when this tweet came in and I was already in the process of writing a letter to David. Totally floored me. :)

On December 22, 2010: Task for the day: write down something that you either were thinking about or excited about this week. Make sure you put the date.
Not excited about this but definitely thinking about the fact that my father in law will be stuck in a rehab center for Christmas because he fell and broke his hip on Dec. 15.

On December 31, 2010 Daivd instructed us : Task for today: think of a new year's resolution and to it next year!  If you already have a resolution, try to think of another one that will challenge you to stick with it the whole entire year.
David, I hate to tell you this but I refuse to make New Years Resolutions and I especially don't write them down. But just for you here is what I decided on for this year. This is my contribution to the Golden Archies Resolutions thread:
I never make New Year's resolutions and it drives my husband crazy. He used to always try to get me to write something down on Jan 1 when he forced the kids to write their resolutions but I think that they are silly. He is always resolving to loose weight/exercise regularly (which he doesn't) or pay off all of our bills (which isn't easy if I can't find a job and he doesn't want to change his) or totally organize the house (which doesn't go well with his ADD). Why write stuff down if you know that it won't happen?

All this said, I will NOT make resolutions but will say this:
I WILL continue to look for a job this year and, hopefully, find one;
I WILL think about a plan to loose weight and, if I am fortunate enough, I will follow through with this plan without injuring myself this time;
I WILL continue writing the young adult fiction book that I started a couple of months ago, until it is complete;
I WILL pursue the possibility of publishing this book, if anyone in the world is interested in reading it, besides me;
I WILL continue to support David Archuleta in all ways that are possible for me to do;
I WILL continue to aimlessly ramble on and blog about David and other stuff that strikes my fancy; and
I WILL find a way to get together with all of my new friends here at GA and attend more concerts by the one and only, David Archuleta.

Happy New Year's Everyone

On January 3, 2011 David told us : Task for the week: Eat a type of food you've never tried before that's of a different nationality.
This is my favorite task to date: This is the entry I sent in the
In honor of David's "try an ethnic food" tweet, my daughter (who is preparing to start culinary school) and I tried our hands at some German food that we had never made before.  My maternal Grandmother's family were part of the founding families of Fredericksburg, Texas.  They arrived there in 1846 from Germany. The recipes  that we used for our dinner are part of a cookbook honoring the 150th anniversary of Fredericksburg.  This book was first printed in 1916 and is now on its 13th edition. The recipes that we chose are handed down from the founding families.  

We made Kohlrouladen (Stuff cabbage rolls) and Kartoffelpuffer mit Zwiebel (Potato Pancakes with Onions).  Everyone really liked the cabbage rolls but we decided that the potato pancakes are basically hashbrowns. 

We decided to try this ethnic food night again next week. Of course, Mexican food can't count here in Central Texas since we make that all the time.

Today, January 22, 2011 David instructed us again: Task for the day: Draw something. Doesn't have to be fancy because I sure can't draw either haha. It can be simple. 

In response to @ task of the day to draw something. Dreaming of an Austin, TX concert soon.

Obviously, freehand drawing is not my forte, but it was fun anyway.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

My Plea For a Tour Stop in Austin

David Archuleta has been telling us, his fans, that plans are in the works for a tour. We all are anxiously awaiting the details, hoping that our cities, or at least some that are near us, are included on the itinerary. We all want to see David in our home towns but obviously that can't happen. He can't be everywhere. There are many fans who have been fortunate enough and financially able to travel all over the country, and some all over the world, to be able to see David perform live. Unfortunately, there are many, many more fans who are not able to travel anywhere outside of their own cities, who would love to see David perform live.  I have been blessed with the opportunity to see David perform live 4 times now, all in the state of Texas, but never in my home, Austin. I traveled to San Antonio to see him in March 2009, on his first tour,

 and then to Houston, to see him open for Demi in July 2009. 

Then there was a terrible drought in Texas, both meteorologically and  "Archieologically" (Oh, I made up a new word!) and I didn't see David in an actual performance until this past Dec. 2010, in Dallas at the Children's Hospital benefit

and then a few days later in San Antonio, again, this time with Kaleidoscope, but performing only two songs.  

I need to see and hear a full concert from this incredible young man, soon.  
Since everyone is talking about where the tour stops should be, I thought I would put in a plug for my favorite possibility:
I would like to nominate Austin, TX as a great tour stop for David. David has never appeared here.  We are the capital of Texas and are centrally located for easy access. (Or at least as easy as it gets in a state this big. An eight hour drive is not that long for David’s fans, right?)
We are a very music-oriented city. We are known as “The Live Music Capital of the World” with over 200 live music venues in our city. 
We are the home of the legendary PBS program “Austin City Limits” which began in 1976. We are the home of the “ACL Music Festival”, an outdoor fest celebrating 10 yrs this Sept., which this past fall hosted 125 acts on 8 stages over 3 days and had approximately 80,000 attendees.
Austin also hosts the South by Southwest (SXSW) music fest and conference. The fest, which is held in March, began in 1987 and has grown to include over 2,000 acts from all over the world playing in over 90 venues in downtown Austin. The music industry conference, which is held at the same time, had over 13,000 industry reps attending last year.
This city lives and breaths music. On any given night you can find acts performing any kind of music you want to hear; jazz, rock, hip hop, country, tejano, indie, rap, pop, etc.; basically, anything you like.
It is my dream to actually hear David perform here in our fair city. He can perform in any size venue that he likes, from tiny clubs to a stadium that holds 100,000+. We have some wonderful outdoor venues built specifically for music, including one that overlooks the Texas Hill Country, that David would love.
I hope to actually see and hear David perform live in Austin sometime in my lifetime.