Tuesday, May 26, 2009

"Plus 8" was 2 sad 4 words

One word came to mind when watching last night's season premiere of TLC's hit show, "Jon & Kate Plus 8" ... heart-breaking.

Our usual Monday night treat (watching those cute lil' Gosselin kids) was turned into just a sad spectacle for just more than 60 minutes last night. Weeks of anticipation, including TLC's "marathon of memories" all weekend, built up to a Season 5 opener that was just painful to watch, mostly because we've all become so attached to the eight little kids caught in the middle of parents who seem headed down different paths — call it Team Jon vs. Team Kate. While reading tabloid headlines about Jon and Kate (seen here in this TLC publicity shot) over the past few months has become seemingly routine, last night we all took a step back and saw the two people behind the allegations ... not to mention their adorable kids who have no idea about the dirty details being published about their folks.

Jon put it perfectly last night: "Someday, my kids are going to Google me." (For the record, and for what it's worth: I believe Jon when he says he didn't cheat. He seems like too upstanding of a guy to do that.)

It would be easy to use this "Space" to blame one or the other parent, but that doesn't help anyone. Sure, I've got my own personal feelings on who's to blame, I'll leave the airing of opinions to other people. (If you want to read others' opinions on the Jon-Kate struggle, click here.) Honestly, if you watch just one or two previous episodes, it's pretty easy to form your own opinion about each parent and take a side.

In the end, though, there's just one side I'm concerned about: the kids' side.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

I've licked the habit

So after lamenting in an earlier post about giving up soda, I've found a couple easy solutions to curb my cravings.
These Dr Pepper freezer pops are amazing! Less than 40 calories each, they're non-carbonated and they've got the soda flavor in 'em. One of these pops first thing in the morning quells my urge for the real thing for most of the day.

And of all the places in the world, I found these pops at the dollar store! (Who knew?!) When these aren't enough, though, I call in the reinforcements...

Having lived in rural Vermont for 15 months, there were three things I really missed: Denny's, malls and Slurpees. Well, all our local Denny's have closed; malls close at 9:30 at night ... but you can get a Slurpee 24/7. (Thank you, 7-Eleven!) And an even bigger thanks for their Coke-flavored Slurpee. I re-discovered this frozen delicacy three days ago, and I've had one a day since. But that's it ... for a while, at least.

Sure, it's been hard at times to rid my life of soda, but if I made it through 14 hours at Disneyland without it back in March, I'm pretty sure I can do it!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

David Cook's "Permanent" tribute

Season 7's "American Idol" has added something else to his great music: a great cause.

After an emotional performance of his song "Permanent" on last night's "Idol" finale, David has released that live performance on iTunes to help raise funds for cancer research. Two weeks ago, David's older brother Adam, lost a 10-year battle with brain cancer. Monies raised from the iTunes purchases of "Permanent" will be donated to Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure, which is looking to eradicate brain cancer.

On the radio this afternoon, David told Ryan Seacrest he wasn't sure if he could hold himself together during last night's performance. That emotion translates into an amazing live recording.

Having just downloaded "Permanent" and listened to it, I can tell that while three Kris Allen songs and another by Adam Lambert might populate iTunes' top 10 "top songs" right now, I think David's tribute (and the cause it supports) is a more worthwhile way to spend your 99 cents!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Underdog story: Kris Allen is new "Idol"

Seriously ... who saw this one coming???

Despite what seemingly everyone thought coming into tonight's "American Idol" finale, Kris Allen beat odds-on favorite Adam Lambert to become the Season 8 champion! From everything you hear about Kris, he's a good guy who seemed just as shocked as the rest of us that Ryan Seacrest announced his name after two-plus hours of the show. You almost got the feeling that Kris had read all the predictions claiming Adam would easily walk away with the "Idol" crown and become the next superstar created by the show. It was really cool to see the amazement on Kris' face when he got the news.

Already acting like a champion — say, a Super Bowl champ — Kris spent his first few moments following his victory filming a Walt Disney World commercial, seen here.And though I led off by asking Who knew?, there were almost 750 people who did know!

Over the past month, more than 3,200 "Idol" fans came to "Sean's Space" to vote for who they thought would win tonight's championship. While Adam took a quick lead he never relinquished, 745 fans of Kris had faith and voted for him in the poll. With die-hard fans like them — not to mention fans of the show itself — it would be easy to predict post-"Idol" success for Kris in the coming months.

Readers: Adam Lambert wins "Idol"

Readers of "Sean's Space" — more than 3,300 of you! — have voted and it's pretty clear you think Adam Lambert will win Season 8 of "American Idol" tonight.

About a month ago, when there were still five finalists left in contention, I posted a poll (here to the right) asking readers to vote and predict who they thought would be crowned this year's "Idol" champ. Adam took a quick and commanding lead in the voting, though Kris Allen gained a little ground in the last week when Danny Gokey was kicked off the show, leaving Kris and Adam (seen here in these publicity shots released by Fox) to battle it out for the top prize. At times, Adam has held as much as a 4-to-1 lead over Kris, who inched closer over the past few days to slightly narrow the gap.

Needless to say, the voting was very heated, with each singer's supporters fans showing their support.
The final poll results: Adam received 2,278 votes, compared to the 745 votes that Kris garnered.

Should the "Sean's Space" readers' predictons be correct and Adam is indeed victorious (we'll find out around 10 p.m. Eastern), that doesn't necessarily spell doom for Kris.

If we've learned nothing else from "Idol" seasons past, not winning the championship isn't a career ender. Most notably, Clay Aiken fell just short of beating out Ruben Studdard for the championship in Season 2, and he's gone on to become more successful than most of the winners, including Ruben himself. Chris Daughtry didn't even make it to the final two — he finished fourth in Season 5 — and he's also gone on to become a big star. Hear that, Danny? You can do it, too!

Recent history, though, suggests Lambert will walk away from Los Angeles' Nokia Theatre as the newest Idol.

As you can see here in last season's poll, "Sean's Space" readers were right on the money when, by more than a 3-to-2 margin, they voted for David Cook as the Season 7 "American Idol" champ. Since then, Cook's been touring the country, including his show here in Poughkeepsie back in March. Last year's vote, though, was much closer than this season's, as many have picked Adam as the Season 8 front-runner for weeks.

But what are you doing reading this?! Tune in to Fox now and see if/when Adam wins. And if he is new "Idol," remember where you read it first!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Couldn't stand idle on "Idol" cards

What can I say? I got caught up in the "American Idol" hysteria earlier today. (Have you voted in the Season 8 poll to the right yet?!)

Following two horrible days of which I won't even speak, I broke down today during an spur-of-the-moment trip to the mall and bought a few packs of these 2009 Upper Deck "American Idol" trading cards; think of it as my reward. They weren't very expensive — you only get 5 cards in a pack, though — and having started collecting baseball cards when I was in the first grade, I've been hooked on trading cards ever since. For a couple bucks, I thought I'd take a chance on the new product.

For me, the lure was those four words right on the front of the foil package: Look for AUTOGRAPHED CARDS! I'm a sucker for autographed memorabilia of all kinds (even trading cards), so that was the hook that lured me in.

Adam Lambert. Kris Allen. Hey, even a Willliam Hung signature would have made me happy. And even though I knew the odds were against me, I was still bummed when no autograph was found. For some of the autographs I could have pulled, click here.
Still, they're pretty sweet cards for being a non-sports item. The glossy photos made "Idol" cuties like Season 1 winner Kelly Clarkson (she's always been my favorite!) and Katharine McPhee, not to mention Season 8 wannabe "Bikini Girl," jump off the card.

Though I only got 15 cards on the day, I did get a few of familiar faces who I've already interviewed here at "Sean's Space" ... or as I sometimes refer to it now, the "Space!"

Here, for example, was Season 5 champion Taylor Hicks, who was my first "Idol" interview all the way back in August 2007. In case you're new to the "Space" and missed that Q&A, you can click here to check it out and click here to read my full story about Taylor's Poughkeepsie show. He was the first of two "Idol" champs, I've met and interviewed; David Cook, of course, is the other. We chatted just two months ago when he came to town. Good guy.

To quote pitch man Billy Mays, he of Awesome Auger and OxiClean fame: But wait ... there's more!

This card of Clay Aiken, the runner-up from Season 2, found its way into one of my packs, reminding me of when I spoke with Clay back in December of that same year, a few days before catching his Christmas concert at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center here in town. I also pulled a card of Blake Lewis, the Season 6 runner-up who I spoke to last summer in anticipation of his KFEST performance.

So yeah, I didn't get any autographs (bummer!), but that's OK. I still got to reminisce down "Idol" Avenue, and I've got some great cards and even better stories to share.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Feelin' like a land lubber

Having met my favorite group of all-time 52 weeks ago this very day, this seemed appropriate...
That favorite group of mine, the New Kids On The Block, set sail on a three-day Caribbean cruise with fans yesterday. I didn't think it was that big of a deal until I saw the Associated Press ran this picture and this story.

Sadly, while about 1,000 NKOTB fans are soakin' in the sun and fun of the Bahamas, I'm stuck here in Dutchess County, which is just lovely in mid-May. (Note the sarcasm there.)

It's all good, though. With four-digit price tags for the rooms — not to mention airfare to Miami — there was no way I could afford to go, let alone take time off for work, especially when my best friend's wedding looms in two weeks. Plus, admittedly being in the minority of New Kids fans, I'm sure I would have been one of the few — if any — guys on the ship, and I don't think I'd want to meet any of the others.

But it's OK, it's OK. I've got my seat close to the stage for one of the guys' "Full Service" summer tour shows, and I may be adding to my summer itinerary...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Ah, tweet relief!

I don't smoke. I rarely drink, never to excess.
I do, however, have a vice — a newly formed habit: I tweet!

For the past two months or so, Twitter has become by addiction. I can't get away from it. Sure, I add my 2¢ on my own Twitter page; but it's just as much fun to follow other people's Twitter pages, namely folks I'm interested in — be they singers or actors or even my favorite TV shows.

Among the 60 or so Twitter pages I'm following are that of comedian Jimmy Fallon (@jimmyfallon), as opposed to the official Twitter page of "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" (@latenightjimmy). I list shows like "Dr. Phil" (@DrPhil) and "The Office" (@theofficenbc) among my favorites, not to mention two of my ol' "Saved By The Bell" buddies: "Mr. Belding" himself, Dennis Haskins (@b4444), and Dustin Diamond (@dustindiamond), who played the lovable "Screech." Oh! And Mr. Belding and Screech are actually following me! Sweet!
I recently installed TweetDeck (seen here) on my laptop so I can organize all my incoming tweets. With the TweetDeck, you can read as many as 28 tweets on the same screen, organizing them in different categories. It's so addictive!

TweetDeck gives you a little blip noise when you get a new tweet from someone; I live for that blip noise now! Blip. Is that Britney Spears (@britneyspears) updating us on her tour? I think to myself. Perhaps it's any one of the New Kids On The Block (@donniewahlberg, @joeymcintyre, @jonathanrknight, @dannywood, @jordanknight, @nkotb) sending us fans updates from the road. What is Oprah (@oprah) up to?

This is life: Waiting, hoping to hear that Blip. (Kinda sad, right?)

While I have only about 60 pages I follow, I've seen some people who have hundreds, even thousands! I don't have much of a life ... but I've got enough that I can't keep up with a thousand people, most of whom I'll never meet!

Twitter: latest fad or amazing, interactive, social network? You decide.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Talk about being bowled over

Anyone who's ever visited "Sean's Space" knows it doesn't take a lot make me happy — a nice cold Orange Julius, an episode of "Saved By the Bell," watching kids on leashes.

So, after a long and hectic night at work, the only thing I wanted when I departed the office last night was a nice, easy dinner ... prepared by someone else! I'd been seeing commercials for these bread bowl pastas by Domino's, the folks whose pizza I've scarfed down since I was a kid. Warm, convenient comfort food ... what more could a guy ask for?!

Again, it doesn't take a lot to impress me, but I loved this stuff! It was more than I'd hoped for! The chicken, the pasta, the alfredo sauce ... it was just the thing to hit the spot on a dreary, rainy night when I was feeling way too lazy to cook for myself.

Seriously, just look at this stuff, and tell me you don't want to gobble it all down, bread bowl and all.
Having given up fast food in the new year, this stuff is perfect for helping me stick to my resolution: Just like Quiznos and Subway, it's not fast food ... it's good food served quickly!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Wouldn't you like to be a Pepper, too?

Since I recently wrote about deconstructing one of my favorite childhood drinks, I thought I'd share this little tale about another.Dr Pepper has long been one of my favorite — if not the favorite — of all the soft drinks I've ever sipped. (Notice that A. There is no period after the "Dr" in the name; and B. I haven't had any soda since December, hence these are not my cans/bottle.)

Still, knowing my affection for the doctor's 23 flavors — I even have a Dr Pepper T-shirt! — my GF passed along this story about the what might be the origins quite possibly the oddest, if not the tastiest, soft drink ever to pass these lips.

Ironically, this is the kind of story I'd like to read with a tall, cold glass of soda — say, Dr Pepper — sitting next to me, ready to quench my thirst. Sigh!