Wednesday, December 23, 2009

MERRY CHRISTMAS from "Sean's Space!"

My traditional, two-week Christmas vacation began just hours ago, so I thought I'd share this year's Christmas card with my loyal "Sean's Space" readers.

He knows if you've been bad or good ... trust me!

It's been quite a 2009 for "Sean's Space," including meeting singers like"American Idol" champ David Cook , '80s super-group Air Supply, local sensations Voices of Glory and most recently, former Hootie and the Blowfish front man-turned-country music star Darius Rucker.

We started the year by meeting former "Saturday Night Live" star Jimmy Fallon (and we even made an unexpected cameo on his "Late Night" show — well, kinda — in the spring) and got to hang out with "Hannah Montana" co-star Moises Arias.

Among other "Sean's Space" highlights in 2009, I got to see my favorite group of all-time once more in concert, and even made a trip to the West Coast which included a week in La-La Land.

So thanks to everyone who's stopped by the "Space" in '09, and I look forward to sharing more memories with ya in 2010. In the meantime, feel free to check out my Twitter page and have a Happy New Year. But until then...


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I'm "berry" intrigued by this

Speaking of being a fan of a particular singer, for example...

I've never tried this beverage, and I always stand there with a quizzical look on my face: It's put out by the Jones Soda Co., and it's called Strawberry Manilow, an obvious homage to the best singer of this or any other generation, Mr. Barry Manilow. Now, over the years, I've spent hundreds of dollars, if not more, for tickets to the 10 (count 'em, 10!) Barry Manilow concerts I've seen in four states. Still, I'm not willing to plunk down a buck or two for the soda named after my fav singer. I've never been a fan of strawberry-flavored beverages (I can't even fathom chugging that Quik strawberry milk), let alone blackberry or raspberry, so I'm pretty sure I'll never be trying this stuff.

I'll still enjoy Barry's music, including his upcoming CD, but this soda ... not so much.

Monday, December 14, 2009

It's finally "Coming Home" to my home

Everybody's a fan of someone — an actor, a singer, an athlete — and everyone's got a story about freaking out as a result of our fan-dom. Here's mine...

See this? This is the new "Coming Home" DVD from my favorite group of all-time, New Kids On The Block. The New Kids tweeted about the DVD (with special, limited-edition bonuses) going on sale last Wednesday and the website taking advance orders crashed. All day! Now, I'd thought I was one of the lucky ones who was able to order: I'd created an online account early, submitted my payment but never received any confirmation — not an e-mail, not on the Web site — nor the link to the download of the guys' new, unreleased song. So, freaking out, I proceeded to call the company marketing the DVD and taking orders several times over a span of several days, worrying Am I in the system to get the bonuses? and Should I cancel my order and buy another to be assured I'll get the bonuses? only to be reassured by customer service reps on the other end of the line.

Turns out, they were right: My fears were for naught.

Less than two days after my final frantic phone call, I got a confirmation for my order, making my Christmas a little less hectic.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Now you can stuff a Sith

A giver by nature, I love this time of year. Come Christmastime, I'm a shopping machine.

So I couldn't help but find these "Star Wars"-themed bears from Build-A-Bear Workshop some of the most adorable presents waiting to end up under the Christmas tree. Admittedly, the "Star Wars" geek in me shined through, too, when I saw them. (For more info on these bears and more, click here.) I mean, c'mon! They're cute lil' bears, filled with fluff, complete with amazing "Star Wars" costumes ... who could want more? (Yeah, being a giver by nature, I've created a few bears at the Workshop in my time. I'm a fan of that place.) If nothing else, they'd make a great way to get young kids (like, really young kids) into the 32-year-old pop culture phenomenon known as "Star Wars." Start with a bear, move on to action figures and then work up the actual movies ... starting with the original 1977 "A New Hope," of course.

But, what's that you say? You're not a big fan of the Dark Side? Not a problem.

The good folks at the Workshop also have Jedi customes for your favorite bear. Honestly, I've always found the lure of Darth Vader and the Dark Side much more appealing than the likes of Obi-Wan Kenobi here — maybe it's because of the awesome red lightsabers, as opposed to the blue or green lightsabers ... I don't know — but to each his own. Luckily, the people at the Workshop have both sides covered, no matter who eventually wins the battle for ultimate supremacy of the galaxy!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Saving big bucks "Step By Step"

I collect autographed memorabilia. I like to save money on autographed memorabilia. The New Kids On The Block are my favorite group of all-time. Where am I going with this?

Well, take a look at this: It's an authentic platinum record of the New Kids' break-through 1998 release, "Hangin' Tough." It commemorates the guys selling 1 million+ copies of the album. It's comes framed and signed by all five of the New Kids (that's Danny Wood, Donnie Wahlberg, Jonathan Knight, Joe McIntyre and Jordan Knight), and is limited to just 100. You can buy it (or a similar signed platinum record of the guys' self-titled, 1986 album) by clicking here. The price: $625.

Don't get me wrong, if I had the discretionary income, I'd cough up the dough. But ... I don't have to!That's because I've already got all five of the New Kids' autographs on this 8x10 photo the guys signed for me when I met the group back in May '08. And here's the best part: I got the autographs for free when I met the New Kids!

And ... other than a signed baseball with all five New Kids' autographs that's been listed on eBay for $247.49 (originally $449.00), I can't even find another item online with each of the guys signatures, which makes my free autographed picture (which is now framed and hanging in my living room) even more valuable in my book!

Friday, December 4, 2009

This certainly is cheesy

No matter how hard you might try, there's no escaping "Hannah Montana!"

Now, in the past, I've written about finding Hannah in the cereal aisle and also in the refridgerated section of my local grocery store, but this one blew me away: Yes, that is "Hannah Montana"-branded macarconi and cheese! While the scrumptuous stuff doesn't come in the shape of Hannah's/Miley's face, it does come in the shape of a microphone (which Hannah uses to belt our her hits), a musical note (duh!), a guitar (which she strums on occasion) and a star ('cause ... well, c'mon! It's Hannah!). At first, I thought it this was a version of my beloved Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, but nope — the Disney folks are now delving into the mac-and-cheese biz! And apparently (I get this info from reading the front of the box here), it's a good source of iron and contains no preservatives.

Oh, but it gets even better than that...

As if eating "Hannah"-themed mac-and-cheese wasn't enough, if you flip the box over, you can cut out a collectible "Hannah Montana" trading card. Clip 'em! Save 'em! Trade 'em with your friends! Add 'em to the collection of "Hannah Montana" merchandise you already have! (Of course, it's probably a wise idea to cut out the card after you eat the mac-and-cheese, so neither the "mac" nor the "cheese" spills out.) Makes ya wanna boil up some water, grab a wooden spoon and start making some mac-and-cheese, doesn't it?!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Hootie — the Blowfish + me

This is either the worst or most hilarious photo I've ever taken, depending on your point of view. I opt for hilarity! Yes, that's me and former Hootie and the Blowfish frontman Darius Rucker after his show here at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center in Poughkeepsie. And the picture is the result of my GF doing her best with the red-eye reduction feature I'd inadvertently turned on.

Still, it's a unique memento from a fun night out, where we heard some of my favorite songs from college mixed in with some of the songs that made Darius the CMA's New Artist of the Year just a few weeks earlier.

Now, avid readers of the "Space" here might remember I've got a few rules about listening to country music, but for the exception of two or three songs, I didn't really feel like we were at a country show. Instead, it was just like listening to "Hootie" (and, c'mon, who didn't just call Darius "Hootie" back in the day?!) singing some cool songs. It was the same voice doing some new songs, many of the ones that drew a pretty diverse crowd with fans of all ages ... some of them even wore cowboy hats, there weren't as many cowboys hats as at last year's Gretchen Wilson show here. (For the record, I did not wear a cowboy hat.)

Even though we'd only heard a few of his country hits, we weren't disappointed, as Darius sang a few of the tunes that made him famous some 15 years ago.
Now, I'm not old, but I felt it when, in the days leading up to the show, I'd learned two people I know — one a sophomore in college, the other a senior in high school — had never heard of Hootie and the Blowfish, let alone their hits like "Hold My Hand," "Let Her Cry" and "Only Wanna Be With You," all of which Darius played and all of which we loved.

As you can see from the ticket he signed for me (not to mention that amazingly horrible/hilarious picture he posed for), Darius was extremely fan friendly. Toward the end of his final encore — he played "Purple Rain" by Prince by the way ... how cool is that?! — the guy even traded his mic for a Sharpie to sign autographs for fans in the front row. A good friend of Tiger Woods' and an avid golfer himself, Darius finished his show by taking off the Tiger Woods hat he wore all show long, signing it and tossing it into the crowd in my direction; sadly, being a Tiger Woods fan, I wasn't lucky enough to catch it. But don't worry about me; it's all good.

'Cause nobody snagged a better picture with Darius than me after the show!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

New Kids do "The Right Stuff" for tots

Since I'm mentioning the New Kids On The Block's recent charitable acitivities, here's another:
My favorite group of all-time are holding a one-night-only show at Boston's House of Blues to raise money and collect toys for Toys for Tots. The $60 tickets for the event sold out in 2 minutes when they went on sale.

Sadly, work commitments preclude me from going, though I'm sure fans will post video of the show online shortly after.

That being said, don't think I've forgotten about the tots! Toys for Tots has long been one of my favorite charities: "The tots need toys," as I often say, and it's important for all kids to have a happy holiday. You can click here for more information on the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Rachael's "stoup"-pendous recipe

Don't ask me why, more than two years after we attended a "Rachael Ray" show taping, I just thought of this now, but here goes...

When we were in the audience, Rachael made a "Cacciatore Stoup with Turkey Sausage Meatballs" — a "stoup," she told us, is "thicker than a soup, but not as thick as a stew." When we got home, my GF made it and it was de-lish! (That's a Rachele term, btw.) Anyway ... I stumbled across the recipe and thought I'd share it, 'cause it was some good eating. Just click here for the recipe, and you can be making some food that's definitely yum-o! (And yes, yum-o is another Rachael-ism.)

Picky eater that I am, I just went through the recipe myself and crossed off about half the ingredients that I won't eat, thus making the recipe even simpler!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Fight against cancer just got "Stronger"

Of all the hundreds of compact discs I've amassed since I got my first CD player, this one might rank as my favorite. Yes, that is a new CD hand-signed by Danny Wood, a member of my favorite group of all-time, the New Kids On The Block! I got it directly from Danny's company, with the proceeds going to a great charity.

Just in case you (like my best friend) doubt the authenticity of the autograph, here's the short story behind it:

Here is the regular, unsigned "Stronger: Remember Betty" CD, released earlier this month. Notice it is not signed in silver Sharpie. The CD is a tribute to Danny's mom, Betty (seen on the cover here), who lost her battle with breast cancer a decade ago. The proceeds of the CD benefit Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the work they do to battle the disease. Each of the songs is both an homage to his mom, as well as great therapy for anyone who's lost a loved one. At $15 (plus $3 s/h), it's a great purchase, even unsigned.

But ... Danny was cool enough to sign 300 copies of his new CD and then send this tweet, letting us know we could buy them at no extra cost! Mine arrived in less than a week.

This cause has long been an important one to Danny and the rest of the New Kids as I wrote last year, when the guys sold special tanktops with this logo at their reunion tour with the proceeds again going to the folks at Komen. Additionally, fellow New Kid Donnie Wahlberg recently released his new single, and announced he'd give money from the sales of "I Got It" to the Komen cause.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Lemme tell ya sumthin’, brother...

As I've stated here on "Sean's Space" before, I'm a reformed Hulkamaniac. Used to be. Long time ago. Can't stress that enough.

Sure, I gave up on pro wrestling when I started high school, but I've still got a soft spot for the Hulkster. I remember trainin', sayin' my prayers and eatin' my vitamins, just like Hulk Hogan implored us to do as lil' kids. Add to that to my growing collection of signed books, and you can see why this latest treasure is certainly a prized possession. Yes, that is a hand-signed copy of Hulk's new memoir, "My Life Outside the Ring," which the grappling legend autographed early Tuesday afternoon at a book signing in New York City to celebrate the tome's release.

Sadly, I just missed the end of the Hulkster's actual signing by mere minutes, yet I was still able to walk away from the Barnes & Noble on 5th Avenue with a signed copy!

Rushing several blocks to reach the book superstore, I had one thought in mind: I'm going to meet the Hulkster! This was the same larger-than-life superstar I'd been lucky to see once in person when I used to watch the then-World Wrestling Federation's TV tapings as an elementary school kid in the mid-80s here in Poughkeepsie. And here he was in New York City, the same metropolis where I found myself this very same day! So when I arrived at B&N, hurriedly opened the door and asked the security guard, "Where's the Hulk Hogan book signing?" sounding like (admittedly) such a geek, you can imagine how crestfallen I was when he said, "Oh, you just missed it."

Luckily, I wasn't down for the three count just yet...

Turns out, Hulk was in the back offices at B&N, signing a few extra copies of the book for them to sell after he left. Waiting patiently, I only stood around for about five minutes before a small cart of 20 or so of the Hulkster's books made its way to the cashier counter. Oh, they looked like the very same unsigned books on the shelves — they even ran up for the same price as ones without Hulk's John Hancock — but they had this lil' green sticker affixed to the lower, right-hand corner, telling the world: Yes, Hulk Hogan had indeed signed the title page!

Sure, I'd missed out on meeting Hulk, but I was still as happy as a fifth-grader sitting ringside at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center in 1985.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

No DVR? No VCR? No problem!

When you're forgetful (or just plain lazy), you learn to have a newfound appreciation for your computer.
Case in point: When I forget to set the timer to record my favorite TV shows, I can watch full episodes of "The Office" (seen here) or many more online through each of the networks' respective Web sites.

By clicking here, for example, I can watch any episodes of "The Office" I might miss for free. When new episodes air on Thursday night, they're available online the next day! My other must-see TV show, "Family Guy," can similarly be seen for free by clicking here.

Sure, sometimes you have to sit through a commercial or two between segments to watch, but that's a small "price" to pay for watching the first-run shows for free, as opposed to plucking down good money to download them to your portable device, let alone buying a DVR. It's just good economics!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

What’choo talkin’ ‘bout, radio?

Obviously a longtime fan of television, I've recently become enamored with a more primitive medium: talk radio. (No, not “Talk Radio,” the Broadway show we saw in 2007.)
Be it in my travels as a sports reporter or even on the way to and from a pair of recent get-aways, I've found comfort in listening to other blab on the AM dial while I drive. ('Cause, really, how many New Kids On The Block or Britney Spears CDs can you listen to in one sitting?!)

For example, your problems never seems so bad when you listen to the people who call in and seek advice from Dr. Laura Schlessinger. Even the all-news radio (the audio equivalent of, say, CNN or MSNBC) helps keep ya awake and alert on long drives.

All of those, however, rank behind sports talk radio, which I grew up on while listening to New York's No. 1 sports talk station, WFAN. That said, ESPN Radio is also starting to gain popularity in my car, especially when "The Michael Kay Show" hits the air from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. most days. From midnight to noon then back to midnight, sports nuts can listen to (and even take part in) the discussion around the clock.

Still, given all the time I'm surrounded by sports (work, etc.), Dr. Laura and her fellow radio shows — be they nationally syndicated or local — are a nice alternative, too.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

You can actually taste Adam's apple

So I've already mentioned passing by a few Disney-themed cereals in the supermarket aisles, but these are just as cool!

Bringing my love of both snacks and one of my favorite childhood board games, the good folks at Kellogg's have come out with "Operation" fruit snacks. I couldn't help but snap a pic of them when I saw them one of the grocery aisles the other day. Yes, the game we all loved at kids — the one that taught us how to carefully remove such ailments as water on the knee, the bread basket and (my favorite) writer's cramp — has now been immortalized in a handy, yummy, fruity snack that lets you eat what used to be little, white, hard-plastic game pieces. I haven't tried them, but I'm pretty sure they taste better than their plastic predecessors.

What's next? Maybe "Hungry, Hungy Hippos" hummis? "Connect Four" fortune cookies, perhaps? Ah, the possiblities boggle the mind (no "Boggle" pun intended)!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Donnie's new single? Yup, I got it!

A few months after the New Kids On The Block wrapped up their "Full Service" summer tour, one of the New Kids has satiated fans' thirst for new music.

That's 'cause Donnie Wahlberg released his new single yesterday, "I Got It," which features former Danity Kane singer Aubrey O'Day. Toronto radio station CHUM FM world-premiered "I Got It" yesterday morning; and soon after that, Donnie tweeted his fans (like me) on how to purchase the song for download. Of course I bought it, not only 'cause it's a fun song but because some of the proceeds go to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a foundation with which the New Kids have worked in the past.

As for the song itself (not to mention "Rise N Grind," the other single that came with "I Got It" for just $1.99), it's great to hear Donnie striking out on his own, making some super music. It's a nice way to transition into what might be a long time before the New Kids get back in the studio again.

The Wahlberg/O'Day pairing also works very well, and for me, it's a neat mixture, considering I saw both of them on the same bill last spring. At Z100's Zootopia 2008 (at which I actually met Donnie and the rest of my favorite group), the New Kids made their first actual concert appearance after Danity Kane, the product of MTV's "Making the Band 3," took the stage to perform their hit at the time, "Damaged." In the year-plus since, Aubrey (seen here with Donnie at the premiere of his film, "A Righteous Kill," last September) has left Danity Kane, while the New Kids put together a pair of successful tours — their 2008 reunion tour, followed up by "Full Service."

To download "I Got It" (with part of the money going to charity), and tell people you got it, click here.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Even a Jedi can't answer 'em all

Regular readers of "Sean's Space" already know of my my ever-growing collection of signed books as well as my affinity for everything "Star Wars." I've recently found (almost) the best of both.
This, "Obsessed with 'Star Wars,' " is the most amazing book ever, even though it's not even signed on the inside. As the cover says, it contains 2,500 questions cover all six "episodes" of the "Star Wars" saga — from "The Phantom Menace" to "Return of the Jedi" — as well as an electronic scorekeeper that randomly picks questions for you to answer!

I just gave myself this book as a birthday present, and let me tell ya: I've spent countless hours trying to answer some of these questions, questions like what was the name of the manufacturer that produced the Rebels' speeders?

Seriously?! Yoda, himself, couldn't get some of these correct. Still, it's fun trying.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

"You ... are ... a ... TOY!!!"

There is literally nothing in the world that should keep anyone away from a movie theater for the next week.

That's because everyone should go and see Woody and Buzz Lightyear (seen here in a publicity shot from the good folks at Disney) in the "Toy Story"/"Toy Story 2" 3-D double feature that's playing in a limited engagement; the movies opened together last Friday and will be in theaters for just a two-week run. My GF and I caught the double feature over the weekend, and loved every minute of it. Even at $13 apiece for the evening show, the ticket prices were well worth the money we paid.

Now, we'd each seen the original "Toy Story," but not the sequel. Seeing it on the big screen, let alone in 3-D, was a whole new experience, though. In between films, there's a 10-minute intermission in which "Toy Story" trivia questions and behind-the-scenes vignettes are shown on the screen. "Toy Story 2" was just as incredible in 3-D, and again, seeing it in 3-D makes you ask: Why aren't ALL movies in 3-D?!

Even for a Disney World veteran who's seen countless 3-D flicks at the various WDW parks, I was thoroughly impressed with the new "Toy Story" presentation, and I can't recommend it highly enough!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

It's like Christmas in September

Santa Claus visited me early this year, and he brought Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, Chewbacca and Bea Arther (yes, Bea Arthur!) with him...

That's because almost 31 years after its one and only airing, the "Star Wars Holiday Special" has now found a home in my DVD collection! Sure, it hasn't been officially released by George Lucas or anyone else associated with either "Star Wars" or CBS, the network which broadcast it on Nov. 17, 1978 — probably 'cause everyone involved has tried their best to forget it — but that couldn't stop a true "Star Wars" geek fan like me. Make no mistake: This hastily produced "Star Wars" tie-in, made to capitalize on the success of the then-recent release of the movie that started it all, was horrible from the onset — the story stinks, there's no flow to the plot and the first 8 minutes of the thing are just Chewbacca's wife, son and father talking to each other ... in their own Wookiee language, not English! (Yup, just 8 minutes of grunting and growling.) Still, having heard how bad it is, I had to see for myself.

Don't get me wrong, the DVD was the best $11 (including s/h) I've ever spent, if for no other reason that I now possess a piece of "Star Wars" lore that many people don't even know about, let alone own.Another reason this was such a great buy: The only thing I love more than "Star Wars" is Christmas, and while this "holiday special" centers around Life Day, who are we kidding(?), they're talking about Christmas.

There are, however, some redeeming gems found (deeply) within this almost-31-year-old, once-aired, two-hour holiday special. It includes, for example, a 9-minute cartoon which introduces us to bounty hunter Boba Fett ... a full two years before the rest of the world met Boba Fett (seen here in the animated short) in the second film of the "Star Wars" saga, "The Empire Strikes Back." This first appearance almost makes up for the rest of the terrible content contained within. (Well, not really.)

Oh, and the cameos! The "Star Wars Holiday Special" guest-stars "Honeymooners" veteran Art Carney, comedic actor Harvey Korman (playing a trio of horrific characters) and a singing Bea Arthur. Yup, Dorothy Zbornak of "Golden Girls" fame belts out a tune in between tending bar at the Mos Eisley Cantina. Does it get any better than this?!

Yes, it does, as the whole thing ends in style with Princess Leia Organa sings a delightfully off-tune diddy commemorating the Life Day celebration. (Needless to say, I wouldn't invite her to go carolling with me.) It's a fitting finale to what are, for better or worse, two hours of "Star Wars" history that whoever watches them will never be able to forget. Anyone with two hours to kill (and a strong stomach) can scour the Internet and find the "Star Wars Holiday Special," in bits and pieces.

If you've got the guts to watch if, may The Force be with you.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

May The Force be with collectors

Strolling the aisles of a local toy department earlier today, I couldn't help but do a double-take when I came across this.

Seriously, how could I not take notice of this ugly mug?! Yes, that's Darth Maul, the fearsome foe of the Jedi Knights during the first of the "Star Wars" pre-quels, "Episode I: The Phantom Menace," but more important is the deal his face represents. This logo was on specially marked "Star Wars" action figures, plugging the latest chase for rare figures which are only available through a mail-in promotion from manufacturer Hasbro.

In short, if you buy five "Star Wars" action figures, send in the UPC codes and $6.99, you get two figures (a Jedi Master and the animal he rides around on) that you can't get anywhere else. While not interested in this promotion in the least, I did take part in what I believe was the best such mail-in offer they've ever had.

Three years ago, Hasbro had its "Ultimate Galactic Hunt," in which you had to buy five specific "Star Wars" figures and similarly send in the UPC codes. The catch here: I couldn't find all five figures in the same store! No, instead I had to spend an entire Saturday covering about 40 miles, round-trip, to find and buy the five figures at three different stores: Two at one store, two more at another and the last one at yet another store.

Seems like a lot of work, right? (Particularly for a guy in his early 30s.) Yes, but it was soooo worth it!

That's 'cause for all my hard work, I received what I believe to be the most amazing "Star Wars" action figure ever produced: Yes, that is "Star Wars" creator George Lucas himself, immortalized as a 3.75-inch action figure, disguised as an Imperial Stormtrooper just like Luke Skywalker and Han Solo when they escaped from the Millenium Falcon inside the Death Star in the original "Star Wars" film, "Episode IV: A New Hope." (Yes, I do know how geeky I sound, thanks.) Seriously, how do you top that?! Such a payoff was more than worth a day's worth of traveling from mall to mall, following by snipping UPC codes and mailing them in.

To this day, I cherish this collectible: It's still in the box in which Hasbro mailed it to me, and it only comes out once or twice a year, when I glance at it (still in its protective plastic case) only for a minute or two until I return it to its dark, cool hiding place.

Friday, September 4, 2009

It's been a Glory-ous summer

I just got to talk with two-thirds of Voices of Glory, less than two weeks before they compete for the "America's Got Talent" title.After singing the national anthem at tonight's Highland H.S. football game, I chatted with Avery (left) and Michael Cole (right) for a few moments — lil' sister Nadia was at home — about their summer on the show.

"It has been really exciting, just going this far," Avery said. "We're looking forward to the rest of the show."

The singing Coles have become a national phenomenon, reaching the talent competition's finals, which will be televised live on NBC on Sept. 14th. Michael, Avery and Nadia are headed back to Los Angeles on Tuesday to prepare for the championship round. They're not sure what their final song will be yet because "there's a lot of collaboration" between the acts and the show's producers, said Michael, a senior at Highland H.S.

If you know about the Coles' back-story, you can't help but root for them to win. They've been inspiring millions of viewers since this fourth season of the show debuted earlier this summer.
Michael said it's been great to hear so many encouraging words, especially when they come from those close to home in Highland.

"It's been really heart-warming to come home to a nice environment, such as Highland," he said, "and be able to see a lot of familiar faces who are supportive of you."

I'll be writing a full story about Michael, Avery and Nadia next week in the Poughkeepsie Journal, so be sure to check out our Web site.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Jon — Kate + me (and 18,000 others)

And this is Twitter is the most amazing thing on the face of the planet:

Just moments ago, I became a Twitter follower of Jon Gosselin — yes, the oft-maligned father of eight and soon to be ex-husband of Kate is now updating the world on his comings and goings! Jon's hosting a pool party in Las Vegas? Now I'll know about it. He's in Newburgh, hanging out with the Teutels of "American Chopper" fame? I'll read all about it first. Which cheesy Ed Hardy T-shirt is Jon wearing today? I'll know before anyone else. Ah, technology! Ain't it great?! My only regret: More than 18,000 Twitter users beat me to it and became a follower of Jon's before me (though I did sign up as soon as I learned he had set up his Twitter page.

I've always been a member of Team Jon (see poll at right), even before he and Kate separated earlier this summer. To see the way Kate would bicker at him, you couldn't help but feel sorry for the guy.

Sure, Jon's made some questionable decisions since separating from Kate (including his 22-year-old "girlfriend"), but he really seems like a better parent than his wife. Just look at this tweet: goodies from the Sugar Factory ... what kid wouldn't want that?!

Now, whatever happens to Jon post-Kate, his Twitter followers like me will be the first to hear about it!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Chairman, schmairman

On her Twitter page just hours ago, Lacey Schwimmer posted this picture.

It's a publicity shot of the "Dancing With The Stars" hottie (formerly a "So You Think You Can Dance" hottie) posing with her newest "DWTS" partner, Mark Dacascos; you might know him as "the chairman" on the Food Network's wildly popular "Iron Chef." I don't wanna say that Lacey's just going through the motions when she's dancing with this guy, but seriously: Look at the look on her face. Does she look the least bit excited to be dancing with him? I think not. Heck, she even looked happier last autumn when she got teamed up with former *NSync-er Lance Bass. (Although, really, I think she was faking it there, too.)

But if ya want to see Lacey at her hottest, check out this pic from a couple years back:
Seriously ... how happy was Lacey to have met me after her first show on the "SYTYCD" tour? (Quite honestly, I just look for any occasion to show off this picture!) But c'mon, who makes a better pair: Lacey and me, or Lacey and "the chairman?" Exactly!

So good luck, Mark. Not only in the competition, but also in trying to make a better-looking pair than me and Lacey!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A fair supply of Air Supply

Any of my friends, or even anyone who's ever visited "Sean's Space" already knows this: I'm a sucker for a sappy love song.

So it should come as no surprise that not only did I drag my GF to the Dutchess County Fair to see Air Supply (they of such hits as "All Out Of Love," "Even The Nights Are Better," "Lost In Love" and the like) on Tuesday, but that we had a fun at the concert and even met the band after the show. After years of listening to the Australian duo on the radio, it was great to hear Graham Russell and Russell Hitchcock live, playing all the hits I've grown to love.

The Aussies played 'em all: "Every Woman In The World," "Even The Nights Are Better," "Two Less Lonely People In The World" and more, for 90 minutes straight! (Not bad for free seats in the bleachers.) They both sounded just as good live as they do on their "Greatest Hits" CD, though there was no lip-synching here.
The pair even walked through the crowd (including the grandstand) for a song, making more of a personal connection with the fans. Moments after the finale, my GF and I got to meet Russell (seen here) and Graham, and added two more to our series of bad pictures snapped following concerts at the fair.

Even after decades of shows — not to mention leaving Dallas at 4 a.m. Tuesday morning and a long day of travel to reach Rhinebeck — the singers were extremely gracious, autographs for my GF, who even snagged a guitar pick from the group's manager.
With many of the fair's acts each summer being country musicians, it was nice to take advantage of one of this year's pop acts, especially one whose songs I've enjoyed for years.

For a group that's had countless hits and that's been making hit music for decades now, it was great to see the Air Supply guys didn't see playing a county fair in upstate New York beneath them. On the contrary, Graham and Russell embraced the Dutchess County Fair crowd, calling such county gatherings around America what makes our country great.

For at least two fair-goers, this night was better for having spent a few hours at the fair!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Yeah, that's the (free) ticket!

Just while I'm reminiscing about the New Kids On The Block's summer tour (seen previous post), I thought I'd share one last tale...
See this ticket to the New Kids' June 16th show in Saratoga? Know how much it cost me? Get this: nothing! In fact, I got it directly (well, almost) from New Kid Donnie Wahlberg himself!

Throughout the tour, Donnie used his Twitter page to message us fans and tell us where we could score free tickets the day of the New Kids' shows. Donnie would give us a time and place to meet, and he'd send one of the guys' managers armed with stacks of free tickets.

For that June 16th show, Donnie sent out this tweet, telling us 200 free tickets would be up for grabs at the Wilton Mall, just across town from the concert venue. A loyal fan with time on my hands, I drove to the mall (even though I'd already bought a great seat near the stage) where I eventually ran into four or five more New Kids supporters. At the appointed time, Donnie's rep showed up with fistfuls of tickets, giving us as many as we needed. I only asked for one, as a souvenir of the scavenger hunt.

Sure, the tickets were probably unsold and it was an easy way to get more people in the building and buy concessions, etc. Still, it was some pretty cool interaction with our favorite group and a great story to share!