A year ago

Kates and I were just reminiscing about one year ago tonight ...

Fun times.


Winding down

Please join me in a moment of silence for the Rocky Mountain News.

Here's Howard Kurtz's take.

* * *

About Wednesday night's "American Idol," I wrote ...

"Ah, who am I kidding. Matt's more likely to make it than Megan."
I should've wrote ...

"Ah, who am I kidding. Adam Lambert's more likely to make it than Megan or Matt."
Despite my disdain for Adam's performance, he got through last night. And I disliked his encore just as much ... Allison and Kris's encore performances, for the record, again sent chills down my spine...

And Brooke White made an appearance! Oh, sweet Brooke ... I didn' think her new single was as great and poppy as she made it sound in her introduction. But I did like it, and I'm anxious to download her album.

* * *

Also, for the record, I'm not and never plan to be a Taylor Swift fan ...

But her "Love Story" is everywhere ... And it's growing on me.

This morning I caught the first half of it on the radio before I had to turn off my car and get to work ... Then, when I returned to my car to leave work tonight, I turned on the radio and caught the song picking up right where I'd left it.


Idol chatter

Sorry, I’m not feeling very inspired after last night’s second helping of “American Idol” finalists …

The contestants that really intrigued us during the audition rounds stumbled, and barely half of last night’s performers stand a chance at making it through to the next round …

Jasmine Murray had been one of our faves -- I’d say a No. 4 behind Alexis Grace, Danny Gokey and Megan Corkrey -- but her version of “Love Song” was so off-key. She’s done …

I couldn’t have cared less about Kai Kalama (“What Becomes of A Broken Heart”), Jeanine Vailes (“This Love”), Matt Breitzke (“If You Could Only See”) … By the time Jesse Langseth sang “Bette Davis Eyes” I was bored and officially watching the minutes tick off our DVR so we could watch “Lost.”

I so wasn’t into Mishavonna Henson’s “Drops of Jupiter” and I was rolling my eyes at the judges gushing over Adam Lambert‘s “Satisfaction.” That’s one of those songs you shouldn’t touch, and I didn’t think Lambert did it justice. An Adam Lambert concert!? Whatever, Paula.

Nick/Norman? I’m praying my brains out that he doesn’t make it through to the next round. The guy does not belong on “American Idol.”

So that leaves us with …

Allison Iraheta who sang Heart‘s “Alone” by Heart … She gave the hands-down performance of the night. She looked good. Her stage presence was great. She picked an excellent song and blew it out of the studio … Kates and I were talking about the Kelly Clarkson vibe just as the judges said the same.

The top guy has got to be Kris Allen for his take on Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” … He picked one of my all-time favorites, and initially Kates and were thinking Noooo! There’s no way he’s going to pull that off! ... But he did. And we were left bursting into giggles at the chills running down our spines. … When Kara came out saying he should’ve sung a soul song, I thought Aw geez, they’re going to go all Giraud on him (see below). But the other judges totally disagreed with Kara; that was awesome.

For the third spot -- with some heavy doubt -- I’m picking our all-around favorite Megan Corkrey. She’s pretty, she’s interesting, she’s unique, she’s got a cool personality -- all those things have been said. And unfortunately they weren’t enough to mask her poor vocals on Corrine Bailey Rae’s “Put Your Records On.”

As for her outfit and the dancing, distracting definitely describes it. I’m going to refer to EW on this one

“… you have the face (and eyelashes) that could launch a couple hundred thousand text-message votes, even if you had a singing voice as bunk as Casey Carlson's. Which, thank heavens, you don't. But your dancing — was that for real? Because it kinda sorta brought me back to Sister Clarie's first-grade class, when kids would fail to hit the bathroom before chorus, and then rock back and forth uncomfortably while singing. Combined with the stark white stockings and the white pom-poms on the front of your dress, the whole affair was, from a visual perspective, a wee bit incongruous. And an awful lot distracting.”
Here’s hoping Megan’s got enough fans to get her through to the next round, ‘cause we think she’s got potential and we’d love to hear more from her …

So, my condolences to Matt Giraud who, for my viewing time, gave a worthy rendition on Coldplay‘s “Viva La Vida.” Truthfully, I was pleasantly surprised, and I completely disagreed with the judges and their scolding of Giraud for not singing a blues song. … Let the dude sing what he wants to sing! Hearing all four judges rip on him for not singing a blues song drove me nuts …

Ah, who am I kidding. Matt's more likely to make it than Megan.


Just another day

So I was granted a day off from work yesterday …

It was great. I got to stay home with Phoebe … Took her to a doctor’s appointment in the morning (She’s up to 21 lbs. Doctor says her heart, lungs and stomach sound really good, but we’re still trying to clear up her ears …) Then Pheebs slept all afternoon, which helped me get a lot of stuff done …

Watched the Jayhawks pull off the upset of Oklahoma last night, and got a good night’s sleep. It was great.

Today, I woke up and started preparing myself to return to work …

I picked up the paper and scanned the front page …

Boyfriend charged in knife attack

Man found dead in park

$500,000 bond continued in killing of half brother

Police pursue leads in teacher’s death, encourage others to call


I wanted another day off.

First song on my iPod this morning: “Just Another Day.”


Sunday reading

It been a good, quiet weekend. How 'bout you?

The three of us spent this afternoon watching "A Series of Unfortunate Events." ... Good flick, but not nearly as good as I'd expected. I give it a three out of five stars.

Afterward, we sprawled out on the couches for naps. Good times.

Tonight, we'll watch the Oscars. Even though I don't have the slightest interest in the awards show and we haven't seen any of the movies ...

Here's some of the reads that grabbed my attention during the last week ...

Sports ...
a He really must change his tune
a A-Rod Takes Us Out for a Spin
a Rodriguez Bracing for Worst, but Hoping for the Best
a In the age of baseball parity, pitching health rules ... If this story doesn't get you excited for the prospects of a new season ...
a The Final Goodbye: Shea Rests in Pieces
a Soriano OK with moving out of leadoff spot
a Soto has tough act to follow, his own
a Closer adjusts to life with Crew

Politics ...
a The legend of FDR's first 100 days in office
a Paterson Had Staff Deny Kennedy Was Top Choice

Entertainment ...
a Chris Brown, Rihanna and the image problem
a Entertainment merger isn't music to consumers' ears ... Don't even get me started on how wrong Ticketmaster's "convenience" fees are.
a Tamer ‘Rent’ Is Too Wild for Some Schools
a The greater reality of minorities on TV

Media & the Internet ...
a Didn't you know? Facebook is forever ... A great read from my friend Raechel. I thought the hubbub last week over Facebook's user rights was way overblown for exactly the reasons outlined in this story.
a Facebook Won't Let You Remove Dead Relative's Page, Per "Policy" ... On the other hand, a family's request to have a deceased person's page removed is a request that should be honored.
a Facebook Made Me Do It ... Ok. No. 1: I'll admit I did the whole trying-to-get-more-friends-than-my-nemesis thing at first. Then I noticed how fast Nemesis was adding friends and knew for certain that Nemesis barely knew, if at all, the people Nemesis was adding. I realized how sad and pitiful that was and quickly put an end to the whole competing thing. If I haven't had/currently have a meaningful relationship with you, I'm not adding you as my friend on Facebook ... No. 4: Yeah, who hasn't done that? ... No. 5: I'm sooooo not over Facebook. I think it's a great tool and I'll promote its use to anyone willing to listen.
a You Can’t Friend Me, I Quit! ... Now this is amusing.
a The Facebooker Who Friended Obama ... In all the Facebook hoopla last week, I stumbled on this one in a "related links" section.
a How Low Will Newspapers' Ad Revenues Go?

The Onion ...
a Nation's Blacks Creeped Out By All The People Smiling At Them
a Turns Out Craig Counsell Was Actually Best Baseball Player Of Steroid Era ... This story, which came from my friend Matt, could actually be true.

Life & other stuff ...
a Who Says Stress Is Bad For You? ... Well, this is good news for me.
a GM, Chrysler don't get it ... Makes me want to scream.
a His wife died, his love didn't ... Great read, another one from my friend Matt.
a How Humans Lock Lips Holds the Key to Our Hearts ... Very interesting.


Conan's send-off

Kates and I just watched our recording of Conan O’Brien’s final show last night before he takes over The Tonight Show spot …

Great stuff … Mostly what made it worthwhile for me was seeing some of the old clips again -- the 1864 baseball bit was ha-larious! It was great seeing Andy Richter come by for the final show (Andy as Conan’s sidekick marked the glory years of the show as far as I’m concerned) … And I applauded Conan’s wonderful nod to David Letterman.

As I’ve said before, I discovered and became a huge fan of Conan in my college days -- back when being wide-awake at midnight was routine. But in my later years, his college humor was lost on me and I’ve rarely watched him the last few years …

EW offered up five memorable moments from 'Late Night.' Their No. 2 definitely ranks as one my favorite Conan shows ...

Still, some of what I’ll remember most are the classic bits he did with Andy, his “satellite” interviews with caricatures of Bill Clinton and Rudy Giuliani, Triumph the Comic dog (most memorable bit: his interviews with people gathered for the Michael Jackson trial), Ben Folds Five's multiple appearances and, of course, Amy Poehler’s early appearances as Andy’s sister.

Saturday morning

Sitting here watching the snow fall outside … And the VH1 countdown. What more could you want on a Saturday morning …

I caught the Plain White T’s video for “1,2,3,4” for the first time this morning … I wasn’t fond of the song at first -- the chords sound way too much like “Hey, There Delilah.” But it’s really grown on me the last couple weeks … And the video gets major props from me because it was filmed in Chicago and has some great scenery in it …

I can hardly get enough of Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” video … Not because I’m a Beyonce fan, but because I’m so mesmerized by the dancing in it … It is a pretty cool song, too … (And don't forget SNL's funny take on it starring Beyonce AND Justin Timberlake.)

Good to see Kelly Clarkson back on top again, too. After the controversey of “My December” -- I listened to that album once and it hasn’t seen my CD player since … “My Live Would Suck Without You” is officially the song stuck in my head this weekend …


Joys of life

So Phoebe appears to be coming down with yet another cold, and Kates got a flat tire on her drive to work this morning. Pretty sure she’s not having a good day …

Meanwhile, I spent the bulk of my day in a courtroom watching the sentencing hearings for a drunken driver, who -- while mourning his fiancee’s death in a car wreck a few months earlier -- fell asleep behind the steering wheel, and a guy who pulled out a knife in a crowd. And then a hearing to decide whether two boys who beat a woman to death last fall should be tried as juveniles or adults.

This week I’ve also written about a fire that broke out in a 10-unit apartment building when someone threw a cigarette butt in a trash can, a woman in her 40s who died of a medical condition while she was driving and crashed her car into a fence, and another woman who lost control of her car on a patch of ice and ended up waste deep in cold river water. She survived and I got the privilege of hearing her panicked call to 911 dispatchers …

The joys of my work.

And Cubs tickets went on sale today. But for the first time in several years, I didn’t take a vacation day from work to secure my spots … Couldn’t afford it this year. And for the first time in about seven years my chances of seeing a Cubs game at Wrigley this season might be in jeopardy … I know. Woe is me, right? Some people go a lifetime without setting foot inside Wrigley’s hallowed ground.

* * *

But then there’s Phoebe.

She’s past 10 months now. And she’s officially mobile.

For weeks she’s been walking with Kates and I, her little hands gripping our fingers … Sit her on the floor in front of us and she’ll stretch for our hands so she can pull herself to her feet. If we don’t respond to her stretching, she grunts and screams and roars until we do. Then, she’ll pull herself up again and burst into smiles and giggles and bounce uncontrollably. Adorable.

She had become so good at pulling herself up and walking with our help that Kates and I were sure she’d be walking before she could crawl. For weeks she’s been rolling all over our floor like it’s a steep hill. Rolling was clearly more fun for her than trying to crawl.

But last weekend -- Valentine’s Day morning -- she discovered she could drag herself across the floor. Now if only she could lift her belly and learn how to get her legs in sync with her arms. But it’s progress … Now, for the first time Kates and I are finding ourselves in spots where we absolutely can’t leave her alone. It used to be we could sit her down on the floor with a toy and take a bathroom break or run to the kitchen for some food, knowing she’d be in the exact same spot when we returned.

In other developments …

She still has just two bottom front teeth … But she eats just about anything we put in front of her. We’re talking real foods now, not just the soupy baby stuff. Cut-up pieces of rice, bananas, sweet potatoes, carrots, apples, chicken. Put a pile in front of her and she’ll grab handfuls and fist them into her mouth.

And the babbling. Her favorite ramblings continue to be “ba ba ba” and “ma ma ma.” But she’s added “yi yi yi” and “dye dye dye” to her vocabulary. And I’m still left eagerly awaiting the first “da da da.” … Yet one of my personal favorites is this thing she does where she whispers a single “pa” or “up.”

I also mentioned her roar. She does this mostly when she’s sitting and interacting with us. It’s both cute and creepy … I’ve likened it to Olive’s roar in “Little Miss Sunshine” in the scene where she’s practicing her routine in the hotel room with her grandfather.

She’s constantly clapping. At the TV. In between spoonfuls of vegetables. While she’s rolling on the floor. When she should be taking a nap … And we recently taught her how to give high-fives. Pretty cool.

Speaking of sleeping … She loves stalling her nap time by rolling around her bed. She’s also working at trying to pull herself up on her crib’s bars … When does finally fall to sleep, her positions continue to amaze us. Her “beach” pose – the one where she puts her hands behind her head like she’s tanning herself -- continues to be a favorite of hers and ours. But this week we caught a new one -- sleeping on her belly, but with her butt propped straight up in the air.

As for those breathing treatments I posted about a couple weeks ago -- we’re still doing them, though not as often as we were those first few days. We’ve lowered the treatment from every three or four hours to once in the morning and once at night. At times, the treatment has made Phoebe so relaxed that Kates and I referred to it as her “happy gas.”


Idol chatter

So Kates I just cut through about four hours of TV in two hours. Last night’s two-hour “American Idol,” tonight’s drawn-out elimination affair and then tonight's “Lost” (yowsers!) -- because I couldn’t bare going to bed tonight without seeing it.

God bless the wonders of DVR.

As for "A.I." ... Say what you will about the cheese factor, but I'm a sucker for the group performances. There’s something I love about watching young people performing and having fun, and the gang’s performance of Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours” was sending chills up and down my spine.

Also enjoyed the segment about Idol’s new Disney studio. Pretty cool … Even cooler was seeing all seven Idol winners together, and the clip of Kansas City boy David Cook performing with Carrie Underwood. Nice! … Good to see Carly Smithson and Michael Johns together again, too.

But let’s cut to the chase. Seriously, was there any doubt Alexis and Danny were going to make it through? ... In a season that's given us few people worth getting attached to, Kates and I picked out Alexis and Danny as our favorites in the first moments we saw them. Megan Corkrey, who we'll get to see next week, falls in with them.

Yeah. By the end of tonight's show I was totally watching for a Tatiana breakdown.

Here's the notes I jotted on last night's performances ...

Jackie Tohn started things off doing “Little Less Conversation.” ... Eh. I didn’t know what to think of her. … I kind of agreed with Simon’s description of it being gimmicky. Her bouncing around the stage took away from her vocals.

Alexis Grace sang “Never Loved a Man” by Aretha Franklin. She done worked it out all right. It's worth saying again: I’ve liked her from the beginning, she’s one of the contestants I’m keeping my eyes on and I loved her gutsy, soulful take on Aretha.

Stevie Wright … Awful. I remember really liking her during her audition. But her take on Taylor Swift? An awful train wreck.

Anoop Desai, another guy we were sort of keeping our eyes on. He sang Monica’s “Angel of Mine.” Great song. But so not for Anoop. I wasn't surprised he was ousted. (Every time anyone said his name I broke out into this little song: “Anoop shoop, doop doop do woop. Anoop shoop, doop doop do woop …”)

Casey Carlson sang “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic.” One of my all-time favorite songs … and she absolutely killed it. Plus, her stage presence was scary. Karaoke, atrocious -- the judges nailed every word. (I love it when the performance is so bad, and everybody knows it’s bad, and Randy stumbles over his words trying come up with something to say.) No surprise that she’s gone.

Ann Marie Boskovich sang “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.” Totally disagreed with the judges. For me, sort of a safe, easy song choice. And I really liked it. I thought she was in.

And the moment I was waiting for all night: Tatiana Del Toro. What dramatics would she pull out Tuesday night?. … The moment she said she was singing “Saving All My Love For You,” I said, She’s gone. Whitney Houston songs are a curse on Idol. … All right, it was ok. But I echoed Randy -- she had some moments.

Danny Gokey, of course, sang Mariah Carey’s “Hero.” Not the song choice I expected from him, but then again, there was no doubt in our minds he would nail it. And he did … But as Kates noted, every song he’s performed so far has been a tribute-style song. Sure, the kid’s got a touching back story, but if he keeps singing those types of songs, it’s going to get David-Archuleta-style old.

Ricky Braddy, Brent Keith, Michael Sarver, Stephen Fowler … Um, no. Didn’t make an impression on me. Didn’t care.


Burning time

Sorry for the lack of posts lately, folks. Like I told my mother last night: I haven’t had a whole lot to say lately.

That, and I’ve sort of been overwhelmed with other projects. Mostly a burst of new tools, and initiatives, and programming that no one seemed remotely interested in a few months ago. Now some of the things I’ve envisioned and wanted for so long are finally starting to gain some footing. Exciting, for sure. But some of it’s happening so fast I feel like I’m barely keeping up.

That said, no “American Idol” tonight. I called for a break so I could work on some of my other projects and we’ll try to catch it on our DVR tomorrow night. Some time between dinner and “Lost.” …

Frankly, I’m also going through a phase right now where the last thing I want to do at night when I get home is watch TV. Unless it’s Wednesday night and “Lost” is on … I already quit “Heroes,” and I’m giving some thought to breaking it off with “Grey’s Anatomy,” too … Some days I’m so tired and clogged from listening to people chattering all day at work that the sound of a television could push me to insanity.

So tonight I’ve been listening to my iPod almost since the time I arrived home. And it’s awesome.

Here’s one little story about an interesting segment of my day, though …

It happened around 1:30 this afternoon. I had just returned from an assignment and barely taken my seat when the emergency tones went off. Dispatch was getting multiple calls about a lot of thick smoke in one neighborhood, and it appeared to be a trailer on fire …

I sighed, got back to my feet and headed out the door again … Only, in my haste I misheard the address. I started driving toward 16th Street when I should’ve been heading toward 68th. It wasn’t ’til I got close to 16th and saw no signs of a fire that I called back to my editor and double-checked the address. He had heard 68th Street, and I turned around … Dang.

Halfway there, I was stopped for a red light at one of the city’s major intersections, in the middle of the city. I’m biding my time, listening to the radio when I look up to my left and see one of these. … Oh God, that’s a spot I didn’t know existed. I faced forward and couldn’t turn my head again, half wondering if the people in the car next to me were doing double-takes …

By the time I got to the fire scene, the firefighters were rolling up their hoses. I was met first by a police officer who was on our burglary case. Any time I see any of the guys on that case, they still ask about it …

In the back yard of the home, I found a couple investigators jotting notes and a burly man dressed in flannel and looking befuddled in front of the charred RV … One of the investigators looks at me and says “Space heater,” while pointing to the charred and melted remnants resting on the patio.

As the story went, the man had last been in his RV, which was parked in his tiny back yard -- the rear of it was practically butted against his porch and the front was almost touching the garage -- about two weeks ago. The thing had junk piled to its roof, and the owner left the space heater turned on -- plugged into an old extension chord.

Space heater. Old chord. Lots of junk. Fire.

As I talked to the man, he told me he smelled the smoke but he thought it was from the hamburger he’d just made. Then his neighbor knocked on the door and asked “Do you know your trailer’s on fire?”


Sunday reading


... Did the taxes yesterday. Happy Valentine's Day to us.

... Got my ice skating fix for the winter. And this year I did it with clear vision.

... And we had the family over to celebrates Kates's dad's birthday tonight.

We're exhausted.

Here's some of the reads that caught my eyes this week and were worth sharing ...

Sports ...
a Francona is having the time of his life
a Griffey wants to return to Seattle ... Sweet!
a Confronting A-rod
a A-Rod Dead At 33 ... From The Onion.
a Measuring A-Rod
a A-Rod proves apologies are not easy
a One Name Is Not Enough In This Case
a Steroid stench grows even stronger
a This soap opera is beyond sordid, yet we still watch
a Baseball's Tainted Month
a Hall of Fame needs to get rid of ridiculous character clause ... This is a really tough one for me. I still think the character clause is a valuable factor in determining Hall-worthiness. But I also think guys like Pete Rose, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens put up deserving numbers in their prime, rule-abiding years.
a Juice has sucked fun out of voting ... Another good read about the Hall voting.
a Attendance figures and revenue could decrease as teams are feeling the pressure
a Sox-Yankees: Tranquillity vs. trauma
a Favre: Top 10 All-Time? ... His knack for throwing interceptions and coming undone when games were on the line certainly doesn't help his cause.
a Coach K Never Forgets an 'L'

Music ...
a Scenes from Grammy weekend ... You go Death Cab.
a Grammys on key, but also a bit offbeat
a Wild Thing ... Good stuff about Neko Case.
a Vinyl Takes Another Spin With Music Lovers ... Love it! Except for the stores that charge like 30 bucks for a good vinyl. That's just robbery.

TV ...
a Joaquin Phoenix and late night: What's old is new again ... Phoenix's Letterman appearance is one of the craziest things I've ever seen on television.
a Joaquin Phoenix mystifies David Letterman
a Flight 1549 crew gets laughs on 'Letterman'
a As Conan heads west, where will his humor go? ... I was one of those guys who loved watching Conan in college. Some time after that I realized he's not that funny. I think he's going to have to make some changes to survive Leno's spot.

Politics ...
a Stalled Switch to Digital TV A Classic Tale of Breakdown ... Pretty much. If you're not ready, it's your own fault, I say.
a Even Tiniest Lincoln Relics Command Reverence

Internet & Media ...
a What Newspapers Do, Have Done and Will Do
a Newsweek Plans Makeover to Fit a Smaller Audience
a Boy Photoshops girl: A Flickr love story ... This is my friend Raechel's submission for the week. I found this story both very cool, and kind of creepy.
a TV's Mark Suppelsa connects to 5,000 friends on Facebook
a How Google Decides to Pull the Plug
a Do We Need a New Internet?
a How fast can you add Facebook friends? Faster than Facebook will allow
a How Social Networking Sites Have Changed The Breakup Game
a Twitter? It’s What You Make It

Life & other stuff ...
a Snuggie Pub Crawl coming
a 40 years' worth of thanks ... Great story. If you can, watch the video, too.
a Queens Driver Unknowingly Drags a Body Nearly 20 Miles ... Awful.
a From tech bubble to tech bobbleheads ... I so want one.


Heroes good-bye

Dear “Heroes” --

I’m writing to inform you that you have been terminated from my DVR effective immediately.

I want you to know I appreciate the joy you have brought me during the last three years. Like millions of TV viewers I initially was dazzled by your colorful scenery, gripping story lines and the everyday people with extraordinary abilities. Earlier this season, I also believed in you when your critics were getting more sour.

But after watching the last two weeks’ episodes, I have come to the realization that it’s no longer worth my time to watch you. The most recent episodes were so dull and full of cheesy dialogue that I found myself asking repeatedly: If this were a new show, would I keep up with it? Unfortunately, the answer is a solid no.

I made this tough decision in the interests of making some serious cuts to my TV-watching time, spending more time with my family and freeing up some of my hours to pursue other interests.

Again, thank you for your time during these last three years.




The new alerts started flowing into my inbox at 1:46 this afternoon, and my jaw dropped.

A-Rod admits to using performance-enhancing drugs‏


My immediate reaction was, Well kudos to him for admitting it! ... I felt an oddly-shaped weight lifted off my shoulders -- a far differently shaped weight than the one A-Rod felt, I'm sure.

And tonight when I arrived home, I turned on Sportscenter, sort of by accident -- so many different things had happened since the A-Rod news broke that I’d almost forgotten about it … But there he was deep in his interview with Peter Gammons, followed with ESPN folks analyzing every line of his admission and how it will affect the rest of his career. "I was young, I was stupid, I was naive," Alex said.

Even after soaking in most of the interview, I still say: Kudos to Alex. I don’t for a second condone his use of a banned substance, but I have the utmost respect for the way he sat down with Gammons and laid it all on the table … And my gut says, Hey, if he really, as he claims, has been clean since 2003 and he stays that way, and he continues to put up great numbers -- than yeah, he deserves a spot in the Hall of Fame.

In the 48 hours since the Sports Illustrated story broke, A-Rod gave us more than Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Roger Clemens have given us in years. Even more than Jason Giambi, who apologized but never told us what he was apologizing for.

My hope is that A-Rod’s admission paves the way for the rest of these guys -- especially McGwire, who’s been living in a sad cocoon -- to finally tell us the truth.

Some good reads ...
a The full transcript
a A-Rod Backs Stimulus, Says Economy Needs Shot in Arm
a Why single out A-Rod?
a Apology by a Yankees Star Becomes a Rite of Spring
a Result for Rodriguez Revives Testing Controversy


Live on Grammy night!

It’s 8:20 p.m. … We've just filled our bellies with bowls of Chilli while watching tonight’s “60 Minutes” featuring Katie Couric's interview with Capt. Sullenberger and his crew. (A-maz-ing story …). Now, Kates is putting Phoebe to bed …

And I’m tuning into the Grammys. What else would I possibly be doing tonight? …

I’m starting it an hour and 20 minutes late, but watching it from the beginning thanks to the wonder of DVR …

Taylor Swift’s “Love Story” has been playing all day in my head, and it‘s actually growing on me. Gee, you think she’s going to be appearing anything tonight?

8:23 p.m. … U2 is opening with “Get On Your Boots.” Great stuff, they’re rocking it …

8:24 p.m. … Oh my gosh. Whitney Houston actually looks … healthy! … And she’s showing some leg, too … Acknowledging Clive Davis, blah, blah, blah, get on with it … And Jennifer Hudson gets Best R&B Album. Darn, I was sort of rooting for Boyz II Men. A moving acceptance for Hudson though …

8:29 p.m. … The Rock reciting the lyrics to “I Kissed a Girl.” Ha-larious …

8:33 p.m. … Al Green with Boyz II Men! … Nice … Unfortunately Justin Timberlake is trying to upstage them all. Typical. Step back Justin. … The Boyz are barely doing anything. Is it me or is this dragging already? …

8:38 p.m. … Bring on the Coldplay … Chris Martin going solo on the piano with “Lost.” Beautiful … Oh, and Jay-Z with the rap!! Awesome … And bring in the band for “Viva La Vida.” Now we’re rocking!! … Meanwhile, Kates’s is analyzing how Martin is dressed. I don’t care, honey, I’m just interested in the music.

8:45 p.m. … Carrie Underwood’s on now … I’m not sure I like what she’s wearing … And there’s something going on with the sound. Distorted, maybe? Not liking it. … Carrie’s acting like she doesn’t know what to do with herself surrounded by all of those guitarists.

8:48 p.m. … Sheryl Crow and LeAnne Rimes. Now that’s a good-looking pair. Liking their dresses … They’re presenting Best Country Performance by a Duo/Group: Oh! Lady Antebellum!?! … Doh! It goes to Sugarland. Dang.

8:53 … Song of the Year … This is a doozy! I love them all!!! … Coldplay wins. Aw yeah! I love that album.

8:56 … Kid Rock is on …Ugh. … Ok, he’s playing “Amen.” Decent song. … Now Kid’s doing “All Summer Long.” I hate that it’s a total rip-off of “Werewolves of London” and “Sweet Home Alabama,” and I hate that I like it … Third song, I have no idea what it is …

9:01 p.m. … And here’s Taylor … With Miley Cyrus!?! Aye … Aye … My ears! … Aye! Somebody tell them to go back to singing to the stuffed animals in their bedrooms!!

9:05 p.m. … Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals … For me it’s “No Air,” hands down … Nope, it’s Allison Krauss and Robert Plant. They win every time …

9:07 p.m. … Jennifer Hudson’s performing now … Not interested. I’m checking my e-mail and Facebook.

9:17 p.m. … The Jonas Brothers with Stevie Wonder, huh? … I really, really want to like it, but it’s not working for me. The Jonas’s are too whiny … Ok, here we go!! Stevie’s doing “Superstition.” … I think one of the Jonas boys just messed up the lyrics. Funny! … Remember when I saw Stevie last summer? That was a good time.

9:22 p.m. … Blink 182?! Where did they pull them from? … They’re presenting Best Rock Album. My bet’s on Coldplay, easily … Coldplay! Yes!! Did I mention how much I love that album?

9:26 p.m. … Hey, it’s Craig Ferguson. He’s a funny, funny guy … And bring on Katy Perry for “I Kissed a Girl.” Arguably the most anticipated performance of the night -- And she’s being dropped on the stage in a banana. Not phallic at all. … You know, I could hardly stand this song the first couple times I heard it. Now, I love it. Seeing Katy perform it on New Year’s Eve and again now, I think she’s got some pretty good performing chops.

9:31 p.m. … Kanye and Estelle! Yeah! “American Boy!” … Great, great song! … And whoah, Kanye, going all Miami Vice on us! He also looks like he’s singing into a flashlight with that red microphone.

9:34 p.m. … Best New Artist. Big category, and another doozy! … It’s Adele! Yes!! … I thought for sure it was going to Duffy, which wouldn’t have been bad either. I also would have accepted Lady Antebellum. I would’ve screamed if it was the Jonas Brothers. … Great speech, Adele!

9:37 p.m. … Kenny Chesney’s performing … Checking e-mail again.

9:41 p.m. … Record of the Year. … Please not “Bleeding Love!” … Seriously. Robert Plant and Allison Krauss win everything. Aye.

9:47 p.m. … Now the rappers are on. So not a fan, though I respect the talent that’s on the stage right now -- pregnant M.I.A., Kanye’s ’80s hair and all.

9:51 p.m. … Ah, the charming and beautiful Kate Beckinsale -- entering to, yes, Coldplay. … (She says M.I.A. was due today!? Holy crap.) … Oh, she’s introducing The Beatles tribute! I’m so excited too, Kate!! … HERE WE GO!!! … “Saw Her Standing There,” Great! opener!! … Kates and I were just reminiscing about how we thought this song belonged to Tiffany. Crazy ’80s. … That’s it!?! One song, really!? That was a letdown.

9:58 p.m. … Best Male Pop Vocals … Calling for Jason Mraz!?! … John Mayer’s “Say”!?! What!?! Blah. I think it’s one of the worst songs John Mayer has done.

10:05 p.m. … Sugarland couldn’t finish their performance fast enough. Bring on Adele! … “Chasing Pavements” sounds wonderful as expected. Loving the strings!

10:08 p.m. … There’s Gwenyth! Kates and I were debating whether she was there tonight … Introducing Radiohead, aw yeah. Another one of my favorite albums of the year. … Awesome percussion, sweet guitar, and brass too!! Wow. What a band! … THAT was quite possibly my favorite performance of the night.

10:13 p.m. … Justin Timberlake. Eh ... I’m getting tired and starting to lose interest now.

10:19 p.m. … Why, I had NO IDEA that Barack Obama was a Grammy winner. Sweet!! … A Secretary of the Arts cabinet position sounds like a great idea …

10:22 p.m. … Four Tops tribute with Smokey Robinson, Ne-Yo and Jamie Foxx. Nice … Aw, there’s Jordin Sparks next to Paul McCartney! Lucky girl!!

10:27 p.m. … Josh Groban introducing none other than Neil Diamond … “Sweet Caroline!” Liking it!! … Love that the crowd’s into it!! This is biggest smile I’ve been wearing all night.

10:35 p.m. … REALLY liking the Bo Diddley tribute. John Mayer, B.B. King and a country singer whose name I don’t know (They all look the same to me, but I think this one's Chesney). Another awesome collection of talent.

10:42 p.m. … Liking the New Orleans tribute too. Alan Toussaint is super talented. … But seriously, let’s get to Album of the Year and get out of here …

10:46 p.m. … So happy to see Zooey Deschanel … introducing Robert Plant and Allison Krauss. Ugh.

10:50 p.m. … Ok, really liking Plant and Krauss on “Gone Gone Gone” right now!

10:51 p.m. … Finally! Album of the Year … Better be Coldplay … Or Radiohead … No!!!!!!! It’s Robert Plant and Allison Krauss. Everything! Aye.

Time for bed.

Nope, Kates just reminded me I have to do dishes …

Then, it’s time for bed.

Sunday reading

... So we just returned from a run to Target where we looked at an amusing number of greeting cards that dealt with farting.

All things considered, it's been a good weekend. Temperatures in the 40s. The rain that forecasts were predicting never came, and we had nothing but sun. Almost all of our snow is gone ...

I got out a few times this weekend -- and didn't have to wear a jacket ...

This couldn't have come sooner. I've been suffering from a serious case of cabin fever the last couple weeks.

Here's some of the stuff that caught my attention -- and kept it -- the last couple weeks ...

Sports ...
a Super Bowl XLIII best ever? Let's not get carried away ... My thoughts exactly. Last year's battle was better than this year's, hands down.
a Positive Drug Tests in Bonds Case ... Just send him away already ... Ah, but then came this.
a Verdict on Bonds is already in ... By the way, not surprised by the news about A-Rod.
a Late-blooming slugger Kent definitely deserves spot in Hall ... The above stories do make Kent's case more compelling. But then again, who can you believe these days?
a Who will be the next Rays? ... Pitchers and catchers. Aw yeah.
a Torre’s Pinstripe Tales Lure Readers on Winter Day
a Citgroup considers backing out of $400 million naming-rights deal for the Mets' new stadium ... And people wonder why banks and corporations are in trouble. Because they've been sponsoring stadiums for millions of dollars the last 10 years! Sick.
a At Citi Field, Swinging for the (Higher) Fences
a A Manny-Pedro Reunion? ... Um, awesome.
a More insight into The Yankee Years

Music ...
a Despite iTunes Accord, Music Labels Still Fret
a Adele’s voice belies her age ... I never would've guessed she's only 20.

Entertainment ...
a Rise of Citizen Dave ... Some of the reasons I've enjoyed watching David Letterman more in these later years than ever before. The show he did after 9/11 and his post-jail interview with Paris Hilton are classics.
a Ferrell's Frat-Boy 'Bush' Freshens Broadway Show
a 'Big Bang Theory' has burst into an old-school hit comedy ... Kates and I have been watching this one since the very beginning, and it's become one of our favorites on all of TV.

Politics ...
a In the Spotlight, And Seared By the Glare ... Interesting stuff about the falls of Caroline, Palin and Blago.
a In Attack on Kennedy, Echo of a Spitzer Tactic
a Tough Times at Obama Inc.

Technology ...
a Can the Cellphone Industry Keep Growing?

Media & the Internet ...
a Dumped by Facebook? 10 etiquette rules ... Good stuff sent to me from my friend Raechel ... I don't know if I'll ever understand how some people fail to 'get' these rules.
a What's behind the '25 Random Things About Me' phenomenon? ... Another story about the random facts, this time from the Boston Globe. Obviously not everyone is so keen on the idea ...
a Oh, the Random Things We Do for the Sake of Facebook ... And here's the Washington Post's take.
a How to Friend Mom, Dad, and the Boss on Facebook...Safely
a All a-Twitter: You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll wonder why - all in 140 characters ... I'm delving slowly into Twitter, which I call Facebook on crack.
a Marina City Web site draws board's anger with slate of news, scandal
a Oprah Winfrey, the Chicago Sun-Times' biggest fan, would be its best backer
a Editors and Publishers in a Revolving Door
a Ex-Journalists’ New Jobs Fuel Debate on Favoritism ... With newspapers flat-lining and companies laying off, why wouldn't you go for some of these jobs?
a Why Television Still Shines in a World of Screens

The Onion ...
a Action Figure Fights On Despite Loss Of Dragon Sword

Life & other stuff ...
a Octuplet Mother Also Gives Birth To Ethical Debate


Now I've seen everything

These started appearing last week ...

All we can do is keep breathing

Well this weekend isn’t turning into anything like the way we’d imagined …

See, our household hasn’t been healthy for a month … And it’s starting to get really frustrating …

And poor Phoebe. The girl was the world’s healthiest child for the first eight months of her life …

Then plfffffffft. Ear infections. A good cold …

And this week she’s had a cough that’s sounded more deadly as the week has gone on. Ok, probably more deadly to Kates and I than anyone else …

On Thursday morning, I called in sick after we got up and discovered she had a 100-degree fever. Her cough was sounding worse, and her nose was pouring with snot. Yay. … I will say, though, despite the stressful circumstances of her condition, it was a great day. We sat on the floor and played together almost all day.

On Friday, I wasn’t scheduled to work, but I desperately needed to get some work done on my car … And Phoebe’s coughing fits seemed to be getting worse. So Kates called in sick and took Pheebs to the doctor …

The report when she came back: Phoebe had ear infections in both ears and she’s attracted a virus that is the likely cause of her coughing fits, which at times have been so bad that Kates and I have worried she was having trouble breathing. Needless to say, we haven’t gotten a good night’s sleep in some time …

As an attempt to cure this thing, the doctor sent Kates home with this 500-dollar breathing contraption, aka a nebulizer system. Which sounds like a car engine. Or something like that ... All of this is so new to me. Our daycare provider knew all about it, though.

So, until further notice, we’re filling the thing with a medicine and strapping a breathing mask that blows steam onto Phoebe’s face for 10 minutes every three hours …

Otherwise known to Kates and I as torture … We have to do it every three hours, day and night. And Phoebe has never cried or screamed louder.

Which, somehow, she wasn't doing when we took this picture last night ...

But as soon as it's over, Phoebe's back to her happy, easy-going self. You'd never know anything was wrong. She's a trooper.

The trials of parenthood.


'We're Going to Be in the Hudson'

Kates and I caught this on the news last night. We both sat intently listening to the recording and watching the segment ...

When it was over we both looked at each other and said, in unison, "Crazy."


Idols in Hollywood

Is it just me or was this week’s “Hollywood Week” on “American Idol” a little less dramatic and memorable than years past?

When Ryan Seacrest so blissfully declared near the top of Tuesday night’s show, “The blood bath begins!” I let out a sinister laugh and got comfortable on the couch for an hour of memorable singing and show-stopping breakdowns …

Oh, to hear Simon say once more, “I thought it was inDULgent nonsense.”

But the shows were sort of a let down.

Kates and I are really liking our hometown boys Anoop Desai and Danny Gokey, along with Jasmine Murray and Jamar Rodgers. Meanwhile, the cameras have all but forgotten Megan Corkrey, and some of the other faces we really liked during the audition rounds … The footage of good singing was sorely lacking.


What’s with the judges fascination with Lil!? We thought she was way off on her version of “I Will Always Love You” and couldn't believe the judges passed her.

And who does this Norman/Nick guy think he is?! What, is he auditioning for a sitcom!? Be yourself or get off the stage, dude. The judges never should have sent him through.

At least they had some sense to finally get rid of Katrina Darrell, aka Bikini Girl … Her antics this week came as no surprise to me. The judges never should have let her through, either.

Admittedly, the Wednesday Night Fights were slightly entertaining (Did you see the camera guys in the background when some of those fights broke out? You could almost hear their minds speaking to each other: “Hey, camera guy over by group No. 3, come with me to get a shot of this group over here! We’ve got girls ready to pull hair!”)

The group performances couldn’t come soon enough … But even those were sort of a let down.

Kates and I will forever compare “Hollywood Week” group performances to the legendary Chris Sligh/Blake Lewis/Rudy Cardenas/Thomas Lowe quartet during Season 6…

(Speaking of great “Hollywood Week” moments, check out EW's Top 10 list here ... Yeah, I was totally thinking about Josiah Leming's meltdown last year, too.)

Action Squad made a good attempt at Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop” (one of my all-time favorites), but the more they sang, the more they mangled it.

Our favorite of the night was White Chocolate’s take on the Jackson Five’s “I Want You Back” …

I had “Mercy” in my head the rest of the night thanks to the number of groups that were compelled to do that song.

More random facts

I've got more items to add to the "Random Facts" I posted here last week ...

41. I took piano lessons for three years. Quitting remains one of my biggest regrets in life ... I keep telling myself I'm going to teach myself how to play guitar, too.

42. I've never smoked a cigarette. And I have no tattoos ... I consider both turn-offs.
Meanwhile, back on Facebook, the "25 Random Facts" craze continues. So much that USA Today published a story about it today.

Grease Babies

Phoebe's daycare provider sent this to us recently.

Funny stuff.


Letterman v. Blagojevich

You bet I watch Rod Blagojevich on Letterman last night. Typically I let the DVR do the work and I catch the show later, but last night was worth every bit of it live …

I chuckled just at the site of Blago appearing on the stage. And I chuckled even more when the band played “My Way” as Blago took his seat …

Of course, the former Gov. wasted no time going into his I-did-nothing-wrong schpeal and arguing his case -- all stuff we’ve heard coming out of his mouth for weeks.

But the real fun was seeing Letterman peck and poke at him: “The more you hear a guy say, ‘I’ve done nothing wrong,’ and the more you hear a guy say, ‘I didn’t have a chance to defend myself,’ the more you begin to think, ‘Eh…something wrong here.’ ”

Pretty much.

Watch it all here / Read a review and the transcript here.


Sunday reading

I was on assignment yesterday. And therefore missed most of the Super Bowl. The commercials. Bruce Springsteen’s halftime performance. Just about everything …

Except the fourth quarter. I got home just in time. It turned out that was all I needed to see.

Hopefully I can catch most of the commercials online this week ...

In the meantime, how about that Very Special Episode of The Office!? ... I actually was afraid to watch it after one cold review I read yesterday morning. But then again, as I've always contended, The Office is best viewed as collection of scenes and sketches ...

The opening fire drill sequence was arguably one of the zaniest and most entertaining things I've ever seen on The Office. (I'm laughing about it now, picturing Angela throwing her cat to the ceiling tiles, which Oscar had jumped onto. As it played out, I was laughing so hard I could hardly breathe). And I can hardly stop repeating the words, "Bam! Roasted!" ... Maureen Ryan had a great summary this morning.

Once in a while, "The Office" comes up with an episode that leaves you giggling for days. You may get strange looks, and people may wonder why you're muttering to yourself and then cackling maniacally. But you won't care, because you're still entranced by the hilarity that you witnessed ...

If NBC only broadcast the first five or six minutes of the show, which depicted the chaotic emergency drill that Dwight cooked up, that would have been enough. One insanely funny incident came on top of another, to the point that I could barely catch my breath. In the annals of "Office," history, if there is anything funnier than Angela's cat toss, I can't recall it. That was one of the most dementedly hilarious things I've ever seen in my life.
Good stuff.

Here's a special Monday edition of Sunday Reading ...

The Super Bowl ...
a Big plays define Roethlisberger; Warner is driven by faith
a Sudden Shifts ... I've always been in the camp that thought Kurt Warner was overrated ... But the way he carried the Cardinals might have swayed me. And his post-game interview was as classy as anything I've seen in sports.
a Cardinals’ Super Bowl Trip Has Leinart Studying Again
a Cardinals wander country, spreading NFL mediocrity
a Stable Steelers win by staying the course
a The hard truth: He's gone soft
a John Madden's Missed Tackles

Baseball ...
a Hoffman likes the direction Brewers are heading

Politics ...
a A comedy for some; for us, a horror show ... I could hardly bear to watch anything about Blagojevich last week. Laughing stock of the country ...
a White House Unbuttons Formal Dress Code ... I like it!
a Obama on Thin Ice ... I thought Obama's comment about the D.C. weather was great.
a Elvis Has Left the Mountain
a Obama: a special man for a serious time
a For Obama, getting out and about just got tougher

Movies ...
a America Asks: But Is It Blart ... I was one of the people who made the mental note: Don't go. I also think the "Open Letter to America" is ha-larious ... Funny though, I too had a vision a couple years ago for some kind of mall cop movie. Only problem was I never put it in writing and forwarded it onto Hollywood ...

Music ...
a Amy Who? Now, Adele's the One With the Buzz
a The evolution of the urban bushwhacker
a Music biopics try to keep it real
a Rock fans head to Iowa to recall day music died
a A fan's undying love for Bruce Springsteen is tested by the ultimate outrage ... Not a big fan of Bruce, so I'm not that sad I missed the halftime show. Even so, it would have been nice to see it. ... I couldn't stop reading this tortured fan's take.

TV ...
a Series finales: Going out with a bang
a End to Bush's `Great Moments' on Letterman

Media & the Internet ...
a As Economy Ails, ShamWow And Snuggie Get Big Break ... I'd never heard of the Snuggie until a few weeks ago when I caught one of the commercials. Then, the other day I listened to a group of morning show DJs and callers rave about how it was the gift of the year. Suddenly, it's everywhere ...
a Washington Post’s Book World Goes Out of Print as a Separate Section
a WMAQ-Ch. 5 reinventing itself, tells producers, writers and editors to do the same
a At CBS, Couric's Role and Ratings Show Signs of Looking Up

Life & other stuff ...
a Babies Know: A Little Dirt Is Good for You ... Who knew?
a Michigan Boy Scout earns all 121 merit badges