Country Music Award Time!!!

Posted in music on November 11th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

It’s time for the CMAs, and I’m making just a quick little post to share my guesses –  we’ll see how I do at the end of the night.  I know, I know I whined and cried about missing the show this year, but my family came down with H1N1 and we’re under a self-imposed quarantine.  I think the kids need to get to bed early – for their health, of course 😉 –  and I get to watch the show live after all!  Believe me, I would so much rather be at youth group tonight, despite all my whining, I swear!  This is an awful sickness, and I would so much rather not have anyone in my family have to have it…  but I don’t want to dwell on that now –  we’ve been living this illness since Friday night, so it’s time to break from that now a little bit –  CMA time!!!!!

My picks – I’ll try to update throughout the night to see how I did.  Correct in green, wrong in red.

TOTAL:  4/11

Entertainer of the Year:
Taylor Swift
, winner
Kenny Chesney

Female Vocalist:
Taylor Swift
, winner
Carrie Underwood

Male Vocalist:
Brad Paisley

Vocal Duo:
Sugarland
, winner
Brooks and Dunn

Vocal Group:
Lady Antebellum, winner

Rascal Flatts

New Artist:
Darius Rucker, winner

Jake Owen

Album:
Taylor Swift’s Fearless

Single:
I Run To You – Lady Antebellum

Song:
In Color – Jamey Johnson, winner

I Told You So – Randy Travis

Event:
Start a Band

I Told You So

Music Video:
Taylor Swift

NOTES:  Awesome show so far –  great performances, and I love the hosting duo of Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood.  Their little duets are entertaining, funny, and even pleasant music to listen to!  I especially  appreciate the ditty about the swine flu – priceless, and it really hits home right now!  Carrie Underwood has an amazing voice!  Thank you American Idol for gifting her to country music!
I love the infusion of the classic country: Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys and especially the Zac Brown Band’s rendition of Devil Went Down to Georgia (on speed!) was EXCELLENT!!
Brooks and Dunn’s final CMA performance (retiring) with ZZ Top is a highlight!
Still enjoying the show, but what the heck happened to the awesome hosting duo of Paisley and Underwood?  Seems like they haven’t been onstage together for a while.  And when they do reappear together, let’s can the jokes about Brad checking out Carrie’s looks behind the back of his wife, Kimberly Williams-Paisley – there’s just been too many of those jokes, and they’re stale.

What could be better than Martina McBride singing When Country Wasn’t Cool with Charlie McCoy on harmonica as a tribute to Barbara Mandrell to welcome her into the Country Music Hall of Fame?!?  That was GREAT!  That reminds me of an addition I must make to a fellow tangents.org blog about my favorite Christmas special – The Mandrell Sisters Christmas!
Oh man…  the show started out the best CMA awards show EVER!  But then it slowly went downhill…  until the final award – Taylor Swift?!?  You’ve got to be kidding.  She is very talented and has done a wonder for attracting teen and tween girls to the country music genre, but…  What about the rest of us!?!  Let’s face it, she did have a heck of a time hitting some of those high notes…  Well, I’m not going to act like Kanye West.  Taylor Swift deserves her time in the spotlight, even if it did ruin the entire flow of the CMAs…

Oh, and judging by my total guesses correct, it’s obvious how much I’m allowed to listen to country music radio these days…  For me, it’s mostly KidsSongs and videos from the library (lately Shelley Duvall’s Fairy Tale Theater) in the car.  Whatever – no one could have seen that Taylor Swift Entertainer of the Year coming no matter what you spend your day listening to.  I don’t care if she IS the youngest CMA nominee for Entertainer of the Year ever – in my opinion, she should have had a lot more ground to cover before she won an award like that!  The show started out great, but I have to say, I am left disappointed, and not only by my terrible score 🙁

In The Eleventh Hour, Evil Intentions In The Basement Of The Dead

Posted in Travel on October 25th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

As you may have read in my previous post, we took a trip to Illinois to visit with  family and also tour the area’s haunted houses.  Well, I’m done whining about my painful mouth, so  here’s a run-down of the fun parts:

Got to visit with lots of family in the short time we were there.  We had nice visits with one of my husband’s father’s only living blood relatives, his niece Lilly.  Lilly is a really sweet person who  has been going through a few tough life experiences lately.  We don’t get to see her often, so it was great to see her on  Saturday.  We hope to be able to get her out to Ohio for a visit soon!  We stopped by my mother-in-law’s house where we also got to see my husband’s sister and her family.  Our kids had a ball playing with each other; there are 7 of them altogether!  After that, we also got to see where my Grandpa moved; it’s a very nice place with a cute little main street area for visiting, complete with ice cream shop.  We discussed the Chicago Bears (no comment as of the game’s unfortunate status right now in the 2nd quarter – poor hubby!) with my grandpa and told my grandparents of things like the kids’ awesome grades at school.  Afterward, we had a really great 40th wedding anniversary for my parents at my sister’s house.  The kids had such a great time that they  refused to leave – literally.  My sister’s family had to literally lock out my kids, which was slightly embarrassing, but mostly just a humorous result of their incredible come down from their awesomely fun weekend – also known as a fun-down.

The family stuff was Saturday, so Friday night we were lucky enough to be joined by 4 friends (3 all the way from Ohio!) for some haunted house fun!  We went all over the ‘burbs, with a goal to complete a huge square if you plotted our stops on a map.  Because of an hour-long line in a cramped basement tunnel in Elgin, we did not make it to the Aurora stop, but we cajoled my mom (even though it was her anniversary party) into watching all 6 kids on Saturday so we (along with fellow tangenteer derek who made the drive south for the second consecutive night) could go to the haunted house with my sister and her husband, who hadn’t been to a haunted house in probably about a decade – FUN!  Here is a run-down / rating of the Illinois haunted houses –  haven’t made it to any Ohio ones this year, don’t know that there will be time for that!

Haunted Mansion and Asylum 13 – Bolingbrook IL – Saving the best for last would mean the worst is first, right?  This haunted house was definitely the worst of the lot.  It had lots of actors, not much else.  Average costumes, not much scenery, blasting music not relevant to the theme of the haunted house…  the only noteworthy and the most enjoyable part of the entire thing were the live chickens in the ‘crazy hicks’ scene.  Seeing Drew Peterson’s house in Bolingbrook might have been creepier.  Grade: C-

Eleventh Hour – Elk Grove Village IL – This haunted house is located at Berthold’s, a family-owned plant nursery and is actually  4 attractions in one.  The corn maze is small but succeeded in losing us, even if for a short time.  The haunted house was actually a string of 3, but it wasn’t really clear when one ended and another began.  Eleventh Hour had some really cool haunted house concepts, along with the obligatory chainsaw guy and spinning tunnel to walk through.  The scenery was REALLY cool, complete with (SPOILER ALERT!!!) moving staircase and refrigerator door that both actually became passages to walk through!  And, they had a live zombie band performing in a separate room while we viewed them through little windows –  now that is something I haven’t seen in a haunted house before.  A very cool haunted house, and without all the same old tiresome gore.  Prize moment when an extremely creepy little girl made my husband scream like a…  well, that seems like a mean thing to say about a guy who’s been doing nothing but wonderful things to help out during my illness.  It was hilarious, that’s all I’m going to say.  Grade: B+

Evil Intentions – Elgin IL – This one also had a few very unique fright concepts, but they really need to work on the wait time –  we waiting in a dingy narrow basement hallway for over an hour!  After that, they separated our group of 3 guys and 3 girls into individuals and put us each into a casket!  Mary and I  lucked out and got to share one since there were 6 in our group and only 5 caskets, but it was still terrifying knowing that they were probably going to do something sudden and scary to us in the casket.  SPOILER ALERT!  They pretended to show us a movie on a screen in the casket, but the screen went to colored bars and made the high-pitched beeping noise, which was creepy, but that’s all that happened.  They really should have lengthened the movie or banged on the casket or something, anything.  This, like a few of the other concepts in this haunted house, really needs to be better developed in order to heighten the fear factor.    You take a bunch of people and put them in a haunted house with only 5 caskets for them to queue thru, and of course you’re going to have a huge long wait to get in.  The makeup in here was average, there seemed to be a relatively low number of actors (all of whom seemed to have the same mannerism of getting right up in your face – how many times can that be scary?), and I would consider the scenery downright bare – they definitely could have highlighted the building’s casket company history in the scenery as well as they did in their marketing.  The guide ghouls are particularly fond of separating the groups of patrons, especially isolating the women from their men, a concept I sort of hated and also really enjoyed at the same time – it was weird.  If I factor in the wait time for this one, you don’t want to know the rating, so we’ll just pretend I’m rating this as if I walked right in like I did in the previous two rated houses.  Grade (not including wait time): C+/B- (hard to forget that awful wait time!)

Basement of the Dead – Aurora IL – Because we had to wait an hour for Elgin on Friday night, this one had closed and we didn’t make it.  But as I said earlier, my mom, dad, and uncle graciously agreed to watch the little ones so  that us sisters, hubbies, and a friend could venture to downtown Aurora – a frightening experience in itself, haha.  Seeing the line outside was daunting, and one character said the wait would be at least an hour.  We were about to leave since my brother-in-law had just come off a double work shift and hadn’t slept in 36 hours, when intrigued by the totally awesome looking makeup on the characters wandering outside, my husband inquired about the wait time at the ticket window.  We took the gamble, and it paid off when we were admitted after only about 15 minutes.  During our stay in line, we were entertained by a few of the haunted house escapees; including a super-tall, slow moving dude who had a habit of very creepily and slowly inhaling the scents of patrons of his choosing.  The guy’s build kind of reminded me of an Ohio friend, but I won’t mention who, even though I know he’s not a reader of my blog.  There was a KISS rocker meets clown guy who succeeded at making his makeup and mannerisms really creepy also, and a blank face guy (a nylon stocking on his face, I would guess?), and a guy who moved quickly through the bushes on all fours, kind of like an ape.  When it was our turn to go in, the scary clown slob manning the door burped and blew it in my face which was not scary, just stupid and rude, and if I get his H1N1, I will consider a lawsuit.  Kidding, but it was still gross.  He made me go first into the haunted house.  Whatever, I would just let my husband ahead of me when we got in the door anyway, except that when I got in the haunted house, they shut the door on me and someone came running up and told me to go through it alone.  I flat out refused – I’m not going to PAY to do something I don’t want to do, and they reluctantly let in the rest of our group.  Sorry I foiled their plan, but I would not enjoy the experience alone; that’s not really my thing.  It was fun to see my sister and her husband in the haunted house since they hadn’t been in one in years, but we quickly lost them in the dark mazes and didn’t bother trying to find them.  We figured they wanted to hang back and enjoy the startles they would get if they weren’t so close to us.  When  we got back outside, we waited and waited, but two groups emerged before the rest of our group, and when they came out, my sister was white as a ghost.  Hilarious, and I  think they had fun – most people can benefit from venturing into a haunted house once in awhile, especially parents who can go without their kids – it’s nice to just have only yourself to worry about for a little bit 🙂  The makeup in this one was stellar, best I’ve ever seen.  Scenery was good, if a little dark for my taste since it was difficult to see some of the blood and guts.  Also a few good animatronics and lots of blood and gore, which was actually a a change of pace from the others we’ve seen this year.  Grade: A

Outbreak

Posted in Everyday Life, Travel on October 25th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The flu season is upon us, and it’s obvious.  In our family, we are teetering between two outbreaks of illness.  Last week, it was hand, foot, and mouth disease (not to be confused with its fear-provoking counterpart, foot and mouth disease, which is only found in animals).  The kids had little bumps on their hands, and a general feeling of being unwell, known as malaise as I learned on the internet.  This is an extremely common (in children anyway) viral illness that usually runs its course in most kids.  When my mouth erupted in sores last week (it’s like having 10-20 large canker sores at the same time), I was shocked because it’s supposed to be very rare in adults.  We contacted 3 different health professionals to make sure that our trip to Illinois could go on as scheduled, and they all assured us that if there was no fever, we were not contagious.  We ventured across the state of Indiana, and I don’t know if I was more fearful of what we were bringing with us or what we were going to take home, what with the many recent flus reported in Illinois and elsewhere, H1N1 and otherwise.

More on the really great parts of the trip in the next blog post – I need to get this out of my system so to speak, haha – a sick post and a fun post.  So for the sick part…

My husband woke up today feeling awful – the flu.  My morning started pretty much like the past 2 or 3 mornings now  – tremendous pain in my mouth, worse than the day before.  One of my favorite things about visiting the Chicago area is the food – despite the city’s drawbacks: the aggravating traffic, the inflated prices, CROWDS; Chicagoans do have a talent for their intolerance of crappy Sysco food – ie, Chicago food is fantastic!  Last week, anticipating our upcoming trip, I remember thinking that it was only Wednesday, surely my mouth would heal by Friday so I could indulge in some of my favorite Chicago treats.  But alas, Thursday’s pain was worse than Wednesday’s, and Friday’s was worse than Thursday’s.  Actually, as I said before, it’s gotten worse every day since it started.  Somehow, I was miraculously able to enjoy my Italian beef sandwich Friday night, but pain-wise things just went downhill from there.  We had a wonderful  breakfast at the Uptown Cafe in Arlington Heights, quite possibly the best breakfast restaurant in the country.  They have the best eggs benedict I’ve ever had, but unfortunately I came very close to sinfully wasting my eggs benedict when I  could not eat them (let alone carry on a conversation with relatives) without my eyes watering from  the pain in my mouth.  My little boy saved me from wasting half my order ( I knew I should have gotten soup or at least a half order of eggs benedict, but I literally could not resist – we get to this place less than once a year!) – but my toddler ate half my eggs benedict – he is his father’s son!

The weekend ended with my sister making us wonderful homemade lasagna, of which I had about 5 small very painful bites.  I did not try any of the appetizers, the steamed vegetables, the salad, the garlic bread, or any of the desserts 🙁
I also did not get my usual crave case of White Castle cheeseburgers to bring back to Ohio, although generous relatives supplied us with some Chicago beef for sandwiches, homemade soup and Grammy’s out-of-this-world homemade spaghetti sauce, all frozen and ready to be thawed as soon  as I’m better!  Talk about something to look forward to!!!

We ventured home at 2 am this morning, and arrived safely, however painful (and tiresome for my husband) the ride home.  And a special thank you to Officer Friendly of the Ohio State Patrol, who did not issue even a warning for my husband’s “hovering around 60 in a 55.”  I’m glad he seemed to take the 4 sleeping kids and the grumpy wife in the passenger seat into consideration – this police stop was completed very quickly and only blocks from our house.

This morning I awoke in a lot of pain, and it’s gotten worse throughout the day.  I think if it continues its trend and gets even worse tomorrow, I’m going to have my husband call the doctor to make an appointment.  I am so thankful that my kids seem to be over it, and as horrible as it’s been for me, I’m still happy I got the most of it in the family.  I  pray for my husband, and I’m really nervous about swine flu, but he seems to be feeling better, unless he’s just putting on a braver face than I.  This illness for me has been characterized by bouts of severe pain sandwiched between constant regular pain.  In the past hour, twice that I’ve talked brought on  the most severe bouts of pain and was enough to make me start typing on the computer and making my husband read it in order to communicate.  Whatever works, it’s amazing how easily the threat of tremendous pain can train a person to keep her mouth closed (like Pavlov’s dog).  My husband joked that it’s the “shut-up disease”.  That brought a smile; it doesn’t hurt to smile – just the talking, eating, drinking, and sleeping.  And that reminds me, being in constant pain has made me an insomniac.  I couldn’t sleep in Illinois at our hotel and ended up listening to an hour-long Larry King interview with Suzanne Somers – even that did not put me to sleep.  Did you know that Suzanne Somers never actually had cancer even though 4 different doctors told her to get her affairs in order because they had mis-diagnosed her?  That’s a tangent that doesn’t need to be taken…

Well, anyway, that’s enough from me for now.  Sorry about the rambling, but this really sucks, and typing is my voice right now.  Hubby is watching the Bears game, so it’d just be rude of me to constantly interrupt by making him read my ramblings.  I wish I could take care of my husband while he’s sick, but for now we’re helping each other.  Let’s really hope this gets better – if I have to go to the doctor, I can’t tell them what’s wrong with me because I can’t talk, and I don’t really want to bring my family with me to the doctor’s – who knows what else we could get?!?  I guess I’d have to write a note, but I feel kind of silly…

A real Halloween horror treat tonight would be for us to watch the movie Outbreak –  now that’s just TOO scary!!!

At least we have a good part of a week to whip these things and get ready for fun Halloween activities abound next weekend!  Super-fun blog post about the awesome parts of the  Illinois trip – including haunted house ratings! –  to follow this depressing post, I promise!

Legitimate School Interruption or Propaganda?

Posted in Current Events on September 4th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , ,

Because I have two kids in the local city school system at the same time, I receive double the school memos.  So while Friday’s after-school-folder-clean-out yielded the usual classwork, homework and doodles, there were also some notices clearly indicative of these times in which we’re living: a list of swine flu H1N1 symptoms and (what I thought at the time anyway)  to be a routine parental notice with optional exclusion form.  You know the type –  I would not like my son / daughter to participate in the following school activity (fill in the blank, field trip, sex ed, open lunch, etc.), signed (parent’s name). This time the form was in reference to an address by Barrack Obama, the President of the United States, to the students of the country.  When I  received the memo, I was all in favor.  I would not be one of the parents who declined my child the opportunity to be involved with current events and history in the making.  I thought it was great that the President was making an unprecedented, concentrated effort to make a positive influence on America’s youth.  But then I read CNN.com and the other news outlets, and I saw that some people seemed to be using this as a political soundboard, and I think it’s just sad that some people use everything our President does as a reason to bring up racial tension.

I would like to steer my blog from most politics, however, I am a parent of two kids who are in American public schools, so this is an issue that hits close to home.  So whether you watch the Obama student address or not, whether you approve of the President and/or his message to students, consider the significance of the Presidential address taking place this Tuesday, September 8, 2009 for what it is – history in the making.

You Have Now Entered… THE TWILIGHT ZONE!

Posted in Current Events on April 29th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , ,

It’s unusual for me to blog twice in one day, but hey, today itself has been unusual.  First, the swine flu has officially spread to Chicago.  Why does that affect me?  Because we were planning a trip there this weekend for my nephew’s first birthday party.  We were up in the air about going for financial reasons, but we decided to go ahead and do it because we really wanted to.  Plus, my grandparents live there, and they are elderly and housebound, so going to Illinois is the only way I can see them and the only way they can see my kids.  I hated leaving everyone up in the air until the last minute about our visit (we were waiting to hear about my husband’s business deal – no word yet!), so we just decided to bite the bullet and commit to going.  So I called my Grandma and my sister yesterday, and I told my daughter and emailed my mom this morning, and everyone is ecstatic.  But now I see that this dreaded swine flu has hit Illinois – especially the counties where we are going to be visiting.  I don’t know how big of a deal this is – I mean, it seems as if it will be here in NW Ohio in no time as well, but I don’t know that I want to be the family that brings it!  Ok, I shouldn’t joke about it.  But with 4 little kids, it is an issue that makes me reconsider our decision.  I guess all we can do is wait and see where things with this are on Friday or Saturday when we plan to leave.  Darn swine flu!

There were a few other weird things that happened today (surprise 99¢ / gallon milk at Walgreens, for one!), but they are just little things, too many and too little to mention.  Add them all up, and that’s why I’m making a second post of the day.  The other major weird event is this – I got a mysterious letter in the mail today, and I have to say, it scared me.  I think I’ve been watching too many stalker movies (blogging about that tomorrow).  But this letter had my name on it – just my name, not my husband’s name or The _____ Family or anything – just MY name.  And it seems to be typewritten, not even printed on a computer – typewritten.  Seeing a letter in a security envelope with your name and address typewritten on it without a return address is enough to give anyone pause, I think – but I am also a paranoid person.  If I had gotten this letter in 2001 during the Anthrax attacks (someone was sending the deadly material Anthrax through the mail, and people were killed), I  definitely wouldn’t have opened it.  So anyway, I opened the mysterious letter I got today, and guess what was inside?  A thick green piece of paper that turned out to be blank – weird.  Even more strange was that there was a Meijer gift card wrapped in the green  paper.  An activated gift card – the TO and FROM are blank.

So who sent this?  Is it a joke?  An anonymous good deed?  A scary stalker?  I just don’t know…  I do appreciate it, if the generous gifter is reading this, I want you to know that I’m thankful, but I’m also a little bit freaked out.  It’s just a very strange thing to happen, and I hope to get to the bottom of it, at least so the person can get their deserved “thanks!”.  If you or someone you know sent it, maybe drop me a hint…  I am thoroughly confused!

This Swine Flu Business

Posted in Current Events on April 27th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , ,

I’ve been a bit of a hypochondriac for as long as I can remember.  My parents had a big thick medical book at their house when I was growing up – that’s where I learned about a condition called Black Hairy Tongue, and the book had a photo of it, it’s self-explanatory.  I would always look through this medical book, mostly to use the self-diagnosis charts.  As a kid, I diagnosed myself with everything from thrombosis to cancer.  So it really shouldn’t come as a surprise that I’m pondering the illness I had last week as a case of the “it” illness of the moment – the swine flu.  Never mind that no cases have been reported in my state yet; I think I may have had the swine flu.  I’ve never had a stomach illness that lasted 6 days before last week (those are usually 24-48 hour deals), and it was accompanied by a sore throat, runny nose, body aches and a scratchy voice (though I did enjoy singing with my scratchy voice – it gave me a whole new sound).  I thought I got hit with two viruses at the same time, but maybe it was all one nasty thing.  I’m half-joking here, I don’t really think I had the swine flu – but it did cross my mind.  I don’t understand though why it’s been all over the media lately.  What makes this flu any different or worse than the others?  I do know that it’s spreading at a rapid rate – this morning there were 20 confirmed cases in the United States, and now we’re at 40 as I write this.  But then again, can’t it be said that most cases of the flu are extremely contagious?  The media is treating this swine flu as if it’s the next Bubonic Plague.  Remember the bird flu and SARS?  Those are two illnesses that were expected to be pandemics, but I don’t think either one was nearly as bad as the media was making them out to be.

Whatever it was that I had last week, I’m happy to report that I’m over it, and I think I got the worst of it pertaining to my other family members.  My stomach hurt so bad; I couldn’t imagine my poor little babies dealing with that!  And hey, if it was the swine flu I had, then that means that I am now immune to it since I’ve already had it, right?