Weight Loss Update – Week 14

This week’s weigh-in: 196.2 lbs
Weight change since last week: +1.2 lbs
Total weight change: -2.2 lbs
Remaining weight loss: 31.2 lbs
Remaining time: 7 months, 3 weeks

The weekend was my downfall. Easter dinner was a part of my gain this pas week, but it didn’t help that I gorged myself on potato sticks on Saturday. They may be made from natural ingredients, but half a bag is still half a bag.

On the flip side, I began exercising last week. I am using three exercise plans I found on the web: 100 push-ups, 200 sit-ups, and 200 squats. I’ve already reached 100 sit-ups and am improving with each session of doing squat exercises. My push-ups, however, actually went down with each session. I may have to repeat the first week of that program and see if I do better this week. Keep watch on my Twitter and Facebook accounts as I’ll post my totals for each exercise session in both places.

2010 American Idol – Top 10

This week’s mentor is Usher, which, while I’m not a big fan of his music, is still miles ahead of Miley Cyrus from last week.  Our Top 10 is set, which means that I’ll have another opportunity to ignore the American Idol tour this summer.  Soul/R&B is the theme tonight. Let’s hope that the contestants have some soul when they perform, since God knows most of them haven’t had any in the past two weeks.

Siobhan Magnus, performing “Through the Fire” – Uh, oh, Siobhan must have pissed somebody off to get stuck with the Graveyard Spot. A lot of singing through the nose to start, plus I’m not sure I like the key she’s in. I would have arranged it higher.  Siobhan sounds tight and, when she hits the upper register, she did not open up her throat, totally missing the first few notes.  This performance is way off for Siobhan, although it’s par for the course for the majority of contestants this season. Overall, it’s either too laid back or too forced, neither of which helps.  Siobhan, I’m worried you might be in trouble.

Casey James, performing “Hold On, I’m Coming” – Good start to the performance. Helps to have the backup singers on the chorus. I could use more soul in his performance, being that this is a Soul song. Coming after Siobhan helps, too, since the bar was set low to start. We get an honest to God guitar solo, too, so Casey gets to show his instrumental chops. Overall, a good song choice and a good performance.  The audience and Usher approve.

Michael Lynche, performing “Ready For Love” – I like Michael going solo with the guitar. I’m finding his voice a little thin, though, but not so much. Overall, I think the performance was good, but love ballads like this one rarely do well on Idol due to the lack of a power moment. I also like where Michael performed on the platform behind the judges. Sounds like the judges really liked the performance.  I would say that Michael was better than Casey.

Didi Benadi, performing “What Becomes Of the Broken Hearted?” – I only heard a few notes from the rehearsal footage and I’m already hating (again) Didi’s performance. I am not disappointed. Pitch is anywhere but in the center. She’s pushing too hard and missing all over the place. She also sounds like a bad attempt to cover Eva Cassidy covering Jimmy Ruffin. Didi may have just saved Siobhan from elimination. I hope she did because I’m tired of this hack. That was a definite train wreck. In fact, it was so bad that Randy actually identified which way the pitch was off (sharp).

Tim Urban, performing “Sweet Love” – Tim is putting the whitest spin on an Anita Baker song. No soul, no R&B, no good.  Tim doesn’t have a bad voice, but this is a voice that still hasn’t left the high school talent show/karaoke realm. This is two painful performances in a row. We may already have our bottom three for the night, in fact.

Andrew Garcia, performing “Forever” – Sorry, Andrew, you picked a song written by an asshole who beat his girlfriend. I don’t care how good it is or how good you are, I refuse to even comment further than that.

Katie Stevens, performing “Chain of Fools” – Katie is no Aretha.  Then again, who is? This performance isn’t hurting me so far, although that’s partly due to the mediocrity of the other performers. I’m waiting for Katie to let go, though.  She’s staying in her lower register too much for my taste. It was a good performance, but I wanted more.

Lee DeWyze, performing “Treat Her Like a Lady” – Lee has a very solid voice, and one well suited to this song.  Lee is into this song, which is a gift this season. I could even see myself downloading this performance. Lee just shot up to the front of the line and announced himself as a contender.

Crystal Bowersox, performing “Midnight Train to Georgia” – Well, she put down the guitar like Kara asked, BUT she’s behind another instrument, so, really, this doesn’t solve anything regarding connecting with the audience. Crystal this week is channeling Gladys Knight in her voice. I’m liking the laid back start to the song, but she can bring the power when she wants to.  Ahh, got up from the piano to sing once the band came in. I think we’ve had back to back home runs with Lee and Crystal, although Crystal’s been more consistent so far this season.

Aaron Kelly, performing “Ain’t No Sunshine” – Aaron’s got the Pimp Spot. Can he fill it?  Not if he sounds that nervous through the whole song. He’s pushing sharp because of the nerves, and I think the combination of Lee/Crystal before him with performing last is taking it’s toll.  Aaron also didn’t do anything with the “I know” lyrics, even though Usher specifically worked with him on it. The crowd isn’t reacting to this performance at all.  Aaron’s safe, but he just didn’t bring it like he should have.

Top performers:
Crystal Bowersox
Lee DeWyze
Michael Lynche

Bottom three:
Didi Benadi
Siobhan Magnus
Tim Urban

American Idol 2010 – Top 11

You do NOT know how close I am to turning off the TV.  MILEY CYRUS???  AS A MENTOR???  If anybody had any doubts about this show, they should be erased now. I’m just going to get into the reviews.

Lee Dewyze, performing “The Letter” – Wow, that is a TERRIBLE arrangement of this song! I do like the horns on the stage. I can’t help but hear the Joe Cocker cover of this song, which was covered by Eva Cassidy. This Tin Pan Alley arrangement is a joke. Lee, I don’t care how well you sang, and, from what I’m hearing at the end, you didn’t, you are in my personal Bottom 3.

Paige Miles, performing “Against All Odds” – Sharp right out of the gate and her soft voice has no power. Paige sounds nervous and, to be honest, like a high school talent show performance. Paige also seems to think that every word starts with the letter H. A long letter hhhhhH.  This wasn’t the right song to perform for somebody who’s still most likely recovering from laryngitis. Randy can’t even sugarcoat the fact it was terrible.  What’s more, the audience doesn’t even boo him for it.

Tim Urban, performing “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” – Well, the rehearsal footage sounds like high school show choir, so I’m already settling in for the carnage.  The voice is better than anything before him, which isn’t saying much, but the song has no, well, jive or personality. Freddie Mercury could perform the HELL out of this song.  Tim cannot. He may be safe, but he’s forgettable enough to be lost in the voting shuffle, so be prepared for a possible Bottom 3 appearance.  Thanks to Paige, though, Tim’s staying another week.

Aaron Kelly, performing “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” – Aaron has laryngitis AND tonsillitis. How can I rip on him? Well, based on the song title, I’m afraid he’s going to miss EVERYTHING. So far so good, though. Aaron’s not pushing his voice too hard, which is too bad, but is probably a good thing in this case as he’s gonna make it through the song with a pretty good performance.  This is the first not bad performance of the night.

Crystal Bowersox, performing “Me And Bobby McGee” – Crystal has a Janice Joplin vibe about her, so I expect good things from this song. Her biggest mistake with this song would be to hold back. Janice did NOT hold back, but Crystal has had a problem doing just that up to this point. I’m really liking what I’m hearing so far, but need her to let loose. She does in the 2nd half of the song, and actually loses herself in the performance, which is why she is a definite front runner this season. It’s going to be hard to top that performance.

Michael Lynche, performing “When a Man Loves a Woman” – If he can bring the soul of this song, this is going to be a very good performance. I really like the start of the song with just piano, strings, and Michael. We might have two strong performances in a row here.  Nice job holding out the big note, too. This is right in Michael’s wheelhouse and he’s taking it out of the park. Great falsetto at the end, too.  Heck, I might even want to buy that performance.

Andrew Garcia, performing “Heard It Through the Grapevine” – I hope Andrew sings this song in a higher key because it’s literally too low key from the rehearsal performance.  I’m just not feeling this performance. It’s pitched too low for his voice and he’s just singing it, not much expression in the performance. We’re back to performances that we just wait to end, it seems.  It was another forgettable performance which could get lost and get him off the show.

Katie Stevens, performing “Big Girls Don’t Cry” – No, not The Four Seasons, although I would have expected that tonight. This is a Fergie song, which doesn’t bode well in my book. She’s going sharp early on and, when Katie gets to what sounds like the big moment of the song, it’s flat from an energy standpoint. This is a boring performance and, again, I’m waiting for the song to end. I love how Randy glosses over her pitch problems, but wasn’t afraid to point out this is a “singing competition” earlier in the show. No wonder your last CD tanked, dawg.  I’m not getting what the judges hear overall, in fact.

Casey James, performing “The Power of Love” – Yes, Huey Lewis and the News have made Idol. I’m not sure Casey has enough of a blues voice to carry this song. Actually, this is a strange song choice as it’s just too corny, much as I like my Huey. Heard a rare horn frack from the upper stage, too. This is a very vanilla performance and, dare I say it, almost a Las Vegas performance of this song. I don’t see the judges liking this performance. Judges in general think the vocals are good, but the song was wrong, except Simon calls the performance what it is – Not Good.

DiDi Benami , performing “You’re No Good” – Pitchy, dawg, pitchy, yo. Baby, you’re no good…at this song. I’m enjoying the bass player’s performance more than DiDi’s, although she’s finding her pitch better now. I’m just not sold on this arrangement. I don’t see DiDi leaving the show, but I’m not getting championship performance out of her, either. Judges aren’t fans at all. DiDi, I’d be worried about now.

Siobhan Magnus, performing “Superstition” – C’mon, girl, they’ve put you in the pimp spot, and I think this song could be exactly what you need to make everybody forget the second hour of tonight’s show. I don’t know how they got her that Pink look, which is nothing like what she looks like in normal life. She is nailing this song so far, and, again, I love the horns on the stage with her. I’m waiting her to kick this into overdrive, though. We’re getting close to the end of the song, which she does, in a very Adam Lambert style, at the very end.  Great performance, but I wish she had done more for the first 90% of the song.

Clear Winners:
Crystal Bowersox
Michael Lynche
Siobhan Magnus

Bottom Three:
Paige Miles
Andrew Garcia
Lee Dewyze or Didi Benami

Mom Corps

I recently became friends with Michael and Kimberly Symonds. Kim has a very interesting and exciting venture she is starting here in the Akron/Canton area as a career placement professional for Mom Corps. I’ll let Kim explain about it:

Kevin

I hope this email finds you well. As you may have heard, I recently launched a new venture as the Regional Owner of Mom Corps in the Akron/Canton area. Mom Corps is a national staffing firm that places experienced, top-tier professionals into contract and flexible positions. I will work with companies in the greater Akron/Canton area to supply them with experienced professionals “on demand”, allowing them to effectively address their staffing needs in today’s dynamic business environment. In turn, we will offer local candidates more alternatives in finding challenging, flexible work arrangements that allow them to maintain their ideal life/work balance.

I am really excited about this new opportunity. Mom Corps is an established and awarded company which was founded by a Harvard MBA and mother of two and which has partnered with some of the nation’s most prestigious corporations, including KPMG, Home Depot, Wachovia, and General Electric. The company has also been featured in a variety of national media outlets including NBC’s Today Show, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, and Entrepreneur.

I am writing to ask for your help in spreading the word about Mom Corps in the greater Akron/Canton area. Please send this email to any of your friends, colleagues, co-workers, or professional contacts whom you believe would be interested in Mom Corps’ services as either a candidate or potential client. Follow me on Facebook and LinkedIn- and please spread the word!

Registering as a candidate with Mom Corps is easy. Simply click here and fill out our candidate profile to let us know about your experience, skills, and needs for flexibility, and then upload your resume. Your resume then will be considered by an employer posting an open position and/or a Mom Corps recruiter performing a search on behalf of one of our clients.

Are you aware of any local companies who may be interested in Mom Corps’ services? If so, please let me know or encourage managers to contact me at the phone number below.

I’m also very interested in learning about any speaking opportunities to local professional or women’s groups where I can tell the Mom Corps story or share with companies the benefits of flexible work arrangements.

I’ve attached the recent press release announcing the launch of the Akron/Canton franchise. Please also visit www.momcorps.com to learn more.

Thank you for your support!

Kimberly

——————————————————-
Kimberly F. Symonds
Mom Corps
Regional Owner – Greater Akron/Canton Area
ksymonds@momcorps.com
p 888-438-8122 x 222
c 330-606-3849
f 330-409-0261
www.momcorps.com
Good for Corporations. Good for Working Moms

As Kim mentioned, she also has Facebook and LinkedIn profiles, so feel free to follow her on both networks. Make sure you let Kim know you found out about her and Mom Corps from me and my site.

LinkedIn

Facebook

2010 American Cancer Society Relay For Life

I’d like to share with you a very touching picture:

This is a picture of my mother-in-law, Jane Martin, and my wife, Rachel. As you probably guessed, my wife is the baby. They both look very happy, as I’m sure you’ll agree. I’m also sure you’ll agree that moments like these are very special and should be treasured.

Unfortunately, I won’t get to have any moments with my mother-in-law. She died of cancer.

In fact, Jane Martin died THE DAY I WAS DRIVING DOWN TO MEET RACHEL’S FAMILY. I remember the day very clearly because I had stopped for dinner only a half hour away from Charleston, where my wife grew up, when I got the call from Rachel.

Now, this wasn’t a surprise to anybody. My mother-in-law had suffered through cancer for five years.  She actually beat her doctors’ predictions of how long she’d last by two years. You have to love that kind of stubborn determination. Still, I was so close to meeting a very important part of my wife’s life, somebody who had a major hand in shaping the woman I live into, well, the woman I love. I think you can understand why I might be just a TINY bit bitter that cancer robbed Rachel of her mom and myself of my mother-in-law.

This isn’t the only time that cancer has struck my family.  My grandfather, somebody who had a major hand and shaping ME, was taken by cancer when I was 11. That same year, cancer also took one of my aunts. Heck, cancer even took my DOG that year! The scoreboard in 1985 was Cancer 3, Kevin 0.

It’s time to strike back.

During the weekend of June 12-13, Rachel and I are taking part in the 2010 American Cancer Society Relay For Life of Medina, Ohio. Here’s a description of the event:

The American Cancer Society Relay For Life is a life-changing event that gives everyone in communities across the globe a chance to celebrate the lives of people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and fight back against the disease. At Relay, teams of people camp out at a local high school, park, or fairground and take turns walking or running around a track or path. Each team is asked to have a representative on the track at all times during the event. Because cancer never sleeps, Relays are overnight events up to 24 hours in length.

At least one member of our team will be walking that track all weekend. We’re doing this to bring awareness that the fight against cancer can be won. We want you to be a part of this fight.

At the bottom of this post is a link to my wife’s Relay page. Please take the time to go to that page and make a donation in honor of Jane Martin, my grandfather, and everybody you know who has been touched by cancer. Let cancer know that you’ve had enough and you’re joining the fight to kick cancer’s ass.

Thank you.

http://main.acsevents.org/site/TR/RelayForLife/RFLFY10National?px=14421909&pg=personal&fr_id=23589

American Idol 2010 – Top 12

Well, here we go.  Yet another season of American Idol. From what I’ve heard, this year is nothing to write home about. I’ve only seen a few auditions and a couple early Hollywood Week episodes so I have no idea who the Top 12 are, nor how good/bad they are.  One thing I do know is that I hate, Hate, HATE The Rolling Stones! I never understood their appeal, think they’ve sounded like total crap from day one, and totally despise the “people” who make up the band.  As you can probably guess, I’m not going to have much positive to say tonight.

1. Michael Lynche, performing “Miss You”.  I do like his soulful voice.  He’s started out strong, doing a funk version of this song. Strong upper register, too. Haven’t heard anything wrong with this performance. Actually, it’s a strong start to the night. Not bad for being in the Graveyard slot. Not sure what Simon’s issues are with the performance, but major points to Ryan for coming at Simon and staring him down at the judges’ desk.

2. Didi Benami, performing “Playing With Fire”. Pitch problems right from the start, sounds too much like Nelly Furtado. Too shouty for this song, too. She seems to think scrunching her face and “emoting” is being “musical”.  Ouch, way off on the big notes! By the way, the pronunciation is not “fi-yera”. She’s in my bottom three so far. Randy proves yet again that he’s a musical idiot, while Ellen offers nothing useful. Kara doesn’t say Didi does well, but doesn’t say she’s bad, either. Simon “thought she was going to lose it 30 seconds in”, not realizing she DID lose it.

3. Casey Jones, performing “It’s All Over Now”. I don’t know the song at all and am not a fan of country, which is how Casey’s singing the song. There’s nothing special about his voice. If he didn’t drawl, there’d be nothing worth mentioning about his voice at all. I just realized I’m waiting for the song to end. My wife Rachel feels that Casey sounds like the opening act for a concert in Branson, Missouri. Where’s Captain and Tenille? Of course, since he didn’t suck, the judges are going to fawn all over Casey, trying to make us think this was good music. Points to Simon for calling Casey on his performance while the other judges fawn all over him.

4. Lacey Brown, performing “Ruby Tuesday”. Wow, waaaay off key to start.  Like the fact the arrangement uses strings, but apparently, standing next to strings kills Lacey’s ear training. She also has goat vibrato, which bothers me. The audience is NOT into this performance whatsoever. Pitch is still all over the place. Welcome to the bottom three, Lacey. Randy’s become the new Paula by refusing to criticize.  Ellen feels that the song was “sleepy”. Kara uses the phrase “right up clear”, which makes no sense. Simon accuses Lacy of “overthinking” the performance.

5. Andrew Garcia, performing “Give Me Shelter”. He sounds a little sharp to me. I could use more inflection in his voice and less Hearts of Space synth in the arrangement. Andrew’s not lighting the world on fire, but he’s also not sucking the air out of the theater. I think he’ll be safe for this week. I like the sound of Andrew’s voice, but wish he could sing better in tune. What blows me away is that Randy has only called out Andrew for  being “pitchy”, yet most of the previous singers had even worse issues that Randy let slide. Ellen loved it. Kara wanted more intensity to the performance, which I actually agree with, but Simon thinks she’s “overthinking” it. Simon is against thinking. Simon also says that Andrew may have done better during rehearsal. I can relate to that.

6. Katie Stevens, performing “Wild Horses”. Now I want to listen to the ’07 Carolina Crown arrangement and she hasn’t even sung a note yet. She’s singing the song too low for her register, but once she gets into the meat of the song, she’s all right pitch wise. On the other hand, she’s singing this song like it’s a country ballad. I doubt that’s what the Stones had in mind when they wrote this song. The song was all right, but I’m not impressed by Katie’s performance. Judges like it but nobody’s gushing over it.

I need to hear the Carolina Crown version now. BRB.

7. Tim Urban, performing “Under My Thumb”. Last time I heard this song was in a Wierd Al polka medley. Tim decided to approach it like he’s Bob Marley. Not a good idea, my friend. You’re just too white. This makes karaoke sound good, which is NOT good. This is probably the straightest, most wooden, most white bread performance of ANY reggae song and it’s not even a reggae song! Will the judges rip Tim apart? Randy does. Ellen does, but funnier. Kara takes the Paula route and gives him props for “doing something different”, never mind that he did it totally wrong. Simon flat out tells it like it is. Tim, you’re bottom three material this week.

8. Siobhan Magnus, performing “Paint It Black”. This is one of the few Stones songs I know. Interesting take on the song, switching it to a waltz feel for the start, then going into the standard arrangement. The problem is that Siobhan sounds like Sheena Easton for most of the song before becoming Adam Lambert on the last note. She’s got pipes, though, which nobody before has shown me. Siobhan is definitely a front runner this season. The judges agree.

9. Lee DeWyze, performing “Beast of Burden”. Way too much singing through the nose, combined with  a John Mayer sound. He’s good, though, and sings on key, which appears to be a precious commodity this season.  Actually, he had a David Cook moment there, which is a good thing. I don’t see him winning this season, but he should go deep. Judges were pretty happy with the performance, but no gushing. Like, not love.

10. Paige Miles , performing “Honky Tonk Woman”. Singing sharp to start the song, then goes shouty in the chorus. This would be great karaoke, but this is not the performance of a pop star. It’s safe though, so, unless she’s totally forgotten during the voting, she’s safe. I can sum up the performance like this – she’s trying too hard.  Even the last note’s sharp. Crowd likes the energy, though. Ellen mentioned that Paige is struggling with her voice, so that may explain some of the problems. In fact, it turns out that Paige’s problem is laryngitis, so I guess kudos are in order.

11. Aaron Kelly, performing “Angie”. Decent start to the song, although I already hate the song itself. Aaron has a “pretty” voice, but I’d like to hear him belt something out, just to know he has some power in the pipes. Aaron kind of does so about 2/3 of the way through the song, but then brings it right back down. This song did not do Aaron any favors.  He sounds nice, but forgettable. He’ll be safe.

12. Crystal Bowersox, performing “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”. The y gave her the pimp spot of the night and I’m getting a good vibe from her so far. This is a great song and a great arrangement for Crystal’s voice. She’s got the power and the inflection and she’s working the song and the performance. She’s having the time of her life on stage, too. That’s a definite walk off home run to end the show. Not sure what problems Randy heard because she nailed it.

My favorites of the night:
Siobhan Magnus and Crystal Bowersox

My Bottom Three:
Lacey Brown, Tim Urban, and Didi Benani/Casey Jones/Katie Stevens

Weight Loss Update – Week 11

I figured I’d better track my weight loss on my blog. It’s easier to remember my progress that way, plus I’m not limited to 140 characters.

This week’s weigh-in: 193.6 pounds
Weight gained since last week: 1.2 pounds
Remaining weight loss: 28.6 pounds
Time left to reach goal:

Put simply, I ate a lot last week. Chinese, Outback, Sonic…it all tasted great. Now I need to get back on the weight loss train. I’d love to get below 190 by the end of March.