American Idol S15 The End…Or Not?

9 04 2016

And the winner is…….

I’m just kidding. There are 2+ hours of filler before we find out who wins the very last spot as an American Idol.

President Obama made a speech at the beginning in a pitch to get people to vote and exercise their rights as citizens to vote in elections.

The opening number included Idol contestants from previous seasons. My mind instantly went to one Idol who will there be in spirit, Michael Johns. His death was so sad. The song started with the top 3 of this season and then moved out of to the broader focus that included all the contestants from this season. Then more contestants. I recognized Nick Fradiani, Diana DeGarmo, Katharine McPhee, Jessica Sanchez, Colton Dixon, (was that David Archuletta, too, next to him), Taylor Hicks, Chris Daughtry, Allison Iraheta, Kellie Pickler, Jordin Sparks, Ace Young, James Durbin, Carly Smithson, Jasmine Trias (from season 3 who wore a flower in her hair), Bo Bice, Scotty McCreery, and Caleb Johnson. I am sure there are others I will see and be shocked at how much they’ve changed (like Bo Bice).   Tonight I believe more often than not we will be saying to ourselves, “Oh yeah, whatever happened to” fill in the blank.

Brian Dunkleman, the co-host of season 1, joined as a surprise guest, a nice book-end to the beginning of Idol history. But the jokes he continued making got old and they didn’t get many laughs in the audience. Awkward.

Trent and La’Porsha teamed up to sing “It Takes Two” by Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston with pictures of their journey this season playing behind them.

Season 10 and 11 judge Steven Tyler began a series of retrospectives of their participation in Idol. Later Nicki Minaj shared her wishes. Notably absent was diva Mariah CareyEllen DeGeneres sent a video.

Former seasons 8 and 9 judge Kara DioGuardi performed and I wished she hadn’t. She is a better songwriter than singer.   Also among the people in this medley segment were Colton Dixon from season 11; a duet with season 1’s Justin Guarini and season 6’s Jordin Sparks; season 2’s Kimberley Locke; Tamyra Gray (season 1); Allison Iraheta (season 8); Larry Platt from season 9 (“Pants on the Ground” song fame but was never a contestant); finally ending with Pia Toscano (season 10). Sanjaya was spotted in the audience in a “Where’s Sanjaya” segment.  Glad he didn’t sing.

When Kelly Clarkson was visiting a few weeks back as a mentor, since she was pregnant and it was unlikely she could attend the show, she pre-recorded a montage of all her most popular hits. It showcased why we love her and the show that served as a gateway to all the music she brought to our lives. The medley ended with the song that started it all, “A Moment Like This.

Male Idol rockers did a medley of songs. The members included Bo Bice from season 4 (the biggest physical appearance change I have seen yet this evening); Caleb Johnson from season 13; Constantine Maroulis (season 4); James Durbin (season 10); and Chris Daughtry (season 5).

Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood (season 4) joined forces to sing “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” originally by Stevie Nicks featuring Tom Petty (Tom Petty actually wrote the song). I wish Carrie would have had a crossover rock career. When Carrie sang rock songs on Idol season 4, they were my favorite and had me looking at her like a winner.

Next was a country medley of songs starting off with Diana DeGarmo (season 3); Skylar Laine (season 11) who wasn’t sounding so great; Kree Harrison (season 12) who I loved during her season also sounded not so great either (you were pitchy dawg). They were then joined by the boys are of country Bucky Covington (season 5); Ace Young of season 5 (who is married to Diana DeGarmo); and confusingly Constantine Maroulis (season 4). Constantine filled in for Josh Gracin who declined their invitation because he didn’t want to sing a medley of covers with other contestants (per his report on tasteofcountry.com). Then Lauren Alaina (season 10) and Kellie Pickler (season 5) came on stage. Lastly Scotty McCreery (season 10) came out.

Harry Connick Jr presented a very emotional segment along with his friend, Marley Fletcher, from The Ellis Marsalis Center for Music in the heart of the 9th Ward in New Orleans to sing “What a Wonderful World.”

He then introduced some of the best singers Idol has had on center stage.   Katharine McPhee (season 5) and Casey James (be still my heart from season 9) singing a duet; Carly Smithson (season 7) doing a solo; Clay Aiken (season 2) doing a solo; Ruben Studdard (season 2) and Amber Holcomb (season 12) doing a duet; and finishing up with Jessica Sanchez (season 11) in a solo of ‘The Prayer” where the others joined at the end.

Jennifer Lopez sizzled up the stage with her new song “Ain’t Your Mama.”   I would have loved to see that in person. That was stellar. And she ended with “Let’s Get Loud” to get Idol pumped up, the perfect halftime song. This whole thing left me breathless.

Season 3 ladies Latoya London, Fantasia, and Jennifer Hudson performed a trio “Bridge Over Troubled Water. Jennifer Hudson sang a solo of her song from Empire “Remember the Music.Brandon Rogers (season 6), Clark Beckham (season 14), George Huff (season 3), Danny Gokey (season 8), and Elliott Yamin (season 5) banded together to sing a medley of Motown hits.

Fantasia came back to do some of her song, “Ugly.” Latoya London (season 3) came back on stage with Taylor Hicks (season 5) “Knew You Were Waiting for Me” by Aretha Franklin and George Michael. Season 11 Joshua Ledet took the stage; wow he looks fantastic. He sang “It’s a Man’s World” by James Brown. He rocked that stage!   And more Idol joined in. Candice Glover (season 12) and Melinda Doolittle (season 6) along with a variety of other Idols including many of the season 15 contestants to sing “Joy to the World.” Even Harry Connick Jr was up dancing.

A tribute to David Bowie was done featuring Idol winners Phillip Phillips (season 11), Lee DeWyze (season 9), Nick Fradiani (season 14), David Cook (season 7) and Kris Allen (season 8) which included Bowie’s hits “Starman” from 1972, “Rebel Rebel” from 1974, and “The Jean Genie” from 1972.

Next was a playback of the worst or funniest auditions or moments during the early years with Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell, and Ryan Seacrest including that awful Simon and Paula kiss. Randy and Paula came on stage and of course you were just waiting for Simon to make a “surprise” appearance. Paula and Randy gifted Ryan with the American Idol sign that Ryan will put it on his nightstand. Simon didn’t have a black T-shirt on. He dressed up for the occasion. Fatherhood looks good on him. And just when you thought the surprises were over out pops the non-surprise, William Hung who performed “She Bangs.” He ultimately released an album which sold 200,000 copies and made it to number one on Billboard’s Top Independent Album chart. He now works for the LA Sheriff’s Department as a technical crime analyst. Ryan Seacrest did a little dancing with him on stage.

Contestants throughout the 15 years shared how much they loved doing the Ford video segments. Trent and La’Porsha received keys to their cars for this year.

Season 4 winner Carrie Underwood sang her song “Something in the Water.”   She got tearful when talking to Ryan Seacrest.

Now it is time to learn who is the winner is of the very last American Idol. The winner is TRENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am just as shocked as he was. With everyone chanting La’Porsha’s name in the audience the night before I felt certain the win was hers. He deserves it just as much as she did but I thought it was hers. I thought Trent was going to pass out. Jennifer pointed to Keith as if she was saying, “you called it.” Jennifer looked shocked and Harry looked shocked too and mouthed “wow” to Jennifer. Trent was sweet when he said that La’Porsha pushed him during the competition.

Ryan Seacrest then signs off the show by saying, “We say to you from Hollywood, goodnight America.” The room goes dark and you hear him say “for now.”   For now? What the hell does that mean? Do they think in 10 years from now, they’ll bring back like X-Files for a limited event? Let American Idol die in peace and go out on a high. They weren’t going out on tour for that very reason so what makes them think bring the show back is “going out on a high?”

I heard later on during the Twitterfest that the producers were going to shop the show to another network. If this is true, it is a mistake. American Idol is forever associated with Fox Broadcasting and to try to resurrect it as the same show or anything that has the name American Idol even if it is in a different format, is just a mistake. American Idol had a great run but like all things, they come to an end, and so should this.

Thank you American Idol for the many years of entertainment; you will live on in television legend.  Guess I will need to get back to blogging about other things, too.





The 2011 Bowen Backyard

26 12 2011

The Bowen Backyard 2011

We hope this letter finds you all well and happy. It’s funny how after Halloween things churn into high-gear. This year has been quite eventful for us.

Patrick’s learning accelerated. It is going to be hard for me to share everything so here are the highlights: He now communicates with an IPad. His verbal communication has increased, too, but it is not as predictable. He greets people with “hi.” Recently we’ve heard a phrase that sounds like “go away” which sometimes is appropriate to the situation and sometimes is echolalia. Patrick is now back to playing soccer and by this fall was working well with a teenage buddy. His basketball throw is improving as well; he has gotten the ball in the hoop, too. He is getting better at pressing the right numbers on the microwave after we give him a verbal prompt of what number he needs to press. He attended a concert at Miller Outdoor Theater & passed out flyers about the school afterwards.

How wonderful it is that our community is becoming sensitive to the needs of our kiddos. He’s attended several sensory-friendly movies, like Rio, The Smurfs, etc. He has also had field trips to Chefs-2-B where he created his own pizza. Jeff and I took him to the planetarium and museum. He did not want to sit in a recliner chair, and fortunately, the museum had regular-backed chairs for those differently-abled. He enjoyed the energy exhibit. When we got to the gem/jewelry exhibit, he helped me try to find the exit very quickly–typical male! You can view some Patrick videos on http://www.youtube.com/user/JadeKirra (my Jedi name–no laughing; geeks rule!)

During spring break, he used his IPad independently to say, “Mom, I need help” and then he verbally said, “I need help” right after it. These are always surreal moments to us. He was playing Connect 4 independently with a peer at school, a child who I can say has actually been as close to a friend to Patrick as he has ever had. It’s fun to see him laughing again. He was shown the “ice” button in a Subway store. He kept pushing the ice button and laughing every time ice came out. He reminds us of the beauty of living in the moment. He enjoys using the self check-out areas of the store with the scanner and knows to scan it & put it in the bag. He helps placing items on a conveyor belt from the basket and adores the debit/credit swipe computer, so we got him a gift card that he can use to make his own purchases. In May, he attended his first wedding. We dressed him up in nice pants, a shirt and a tie; he looked so handsome.

Patrick in his first tie, and not a clip-on

He refused to keep his shirt tucked in, and we gave up the struggle. One must pick the battles to be fought.

During the summer, he went sailing for the very first time and enjoyed it. This fall the school has been working on academics and activities that will lead to employment (office work, stacking cans, etc.). He has begun to understand the concept of talking on the phone and is following simple directions given.

Yeah, I really don't like that hat. Get it off.

While things sound all peaches and creams, we do have our trying moments where we really hate autism. As with all parents, we deal with the “teen attitude.” Patrick will be 16 on December 17. Our baby is almost 6 feet tall.

Mom feels like a hobbit here.

The best news for us and for Patrick came in June when I signed the documents. The school district is now paying for Patrick’s private school tuition, the bus drive, and a private agency to do speech therapy with him. He will get OT through a school-provided individual who will go out to the school. WE WON, WE WON, WE WON! Seven long years of battle. When they went to observe him at school, his progress was undeniable. It was done in a simple meeting; no due process; no mediation. The sense I got from that meeting was that this would be permanent for the rest of Patrick’s school career, even though they have to review it year to year. The burden that lifted off our shoulders was immense.

The year has been busy for us as well. I left the science fiction website I was writing for in January and a month later got an extraordinary opportunity to be part of something called Fox VIP, at the recommendation of our local Fox station. I continued to write and promote shows, and now I was getting all these presents. Out of all the things I received, my favorites were a signed “Fringe” script,

The signed Fringe script. Treasured forever.

my “So You Think You Can Dance” shoes,

So You Think You Can Dance Shoes Thanks for FOXVIP

and my “New Girl” Adorkable T-shirt.

My "New Girl" adorkable T-shirt

I also had an opportunity through this association to fly out in May to Los Angeles to the American Idol finale show (airfare, hotel, spending money all covered). Sadly Jeff could not go with me, so my friend Glicel did.

Delays, delays, delays

We met up with my brother-in-law for lunch & dinner with a friend.

Me and my brother in law.

Robert Meyer Burnett, my friend Glicel, and Me at Gordon Ramsey's restaurant in the hotel.

I think I got about 9 hours of sleep during the 3 days involved.

Between Feb and April, I did a lot of work on the school’s Rock Autism benefit.

My semi-rock look. Kids were going to be there so I had to tone it down.

The week after was our Boots and Bling Gala (April 2011) in which 320 people came out to support Patrick’s school at The Woodlands Resort and Conference Center. I was able to help with the event as it approached and afterwards. Being involved with Patrick’s school is deeply gratifying. I would do anything for them. They are the heroes who help hundreds of children.

One half of the people there.

The other side of the room with the dual screens, each for each side.

In October, I went to visit my sister in NC; I had not seen her in at least 5-6 years. Out of all the things we did during the extended weekend, our trip to Cherokee was my favorite. I adore learning about other people’s cultures and history, but most especially their spiritual/religious beliefs.

Oak Grove Inn?

Cherokee, North Carolina

As December beckons, I am in charge of the book fair at InKids and now am the print/promotions chairperson for their Boots & Bling Gala 2012. Being such, I want all my Houston area friends to come. It is so much fun. Save the date: April 14, 2012 at The Woodlands Resort and Conference Center on North Millbend in Grogan’s Mill. In June, I attended my first CD release party of local talent who I became familiar with during my efforts of Rock Autism.

I continue to blog at here, tweet http://twitter.com/pbmom, and you can find me at Facebook here:  http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1535065933.   For as many joys and blessings that have come into my life this year, sadness also visited in the span of 2 months with the tragic death of a friend’s son, the expected death of another friend, Joe, and the unexpected death of my friend and neighbor of 15 years, Lenie.

Jeff and I did manage some time away in January of 2011 to Dallas to the Women of Sci-Fi Convention where we got to speak to Alaina Huffman,

Alaina Huffman

Katee Sackhoff, and Tricia Helfer for a considerable length of time.

Katee Sackhoff

Tricia Helfer

In addition to their Q&A sessions, we also got to see Q&A sessions from Nichelle Nichols (of Star Trek), and Yvonne Craig (the original Batgirl).  Erin Gray (Buck Rogers) was also there as was Morena Baccarin (Stargate SG-1, V, Homeland). Jeff thought it was funny that when he would come back from going to the bathroom, I would surrounded by a group of male geeks chatting with me about what I thought about this show or that show, how I felt about the female additions to Human Target that season, and into more heavy anthropological and cultural advances that have expanded the once exclusive male areas of geek to women, like the expanding roles of lead female characters in video games.  The male-geek-to-female-geek ratio was 10:1 if not higher. We also got to meet up with another Twitter friend who flew in from Vancouver, British Columbia, and met some other people through him. I also had breakfast with one of my high school friends from New York. She hasn’t changed much at all in all these years.

ScoobyKoo from Vancouver and Me at Women of SciFi Convention, Plano, Jan 2011

Jeff has been extremely busy at work, taking on new responsibilities as a member of his company’s safety team. Since he works for a utility company, the emphasis on safety is extremely important. Some of his duties include conducting monthly safety meetings, bringing in industry speakers, CPR training, blood drives, managing the group’s website and content, and preparing his business unit for safety audits. In addition, his work has picked up significantly in his department as the company is building new power plants. He often states to his coworkers that there are not enough hours in the day! Jeff continues to exercise and has brought Patrick along on his two-mile walks of our dog, Maddie. We think that this and other physical fitness activities have helped Patrick improve. In his spare time Jeff continues read his books and play his videogames.

We would like to close with a request. If you find yourself wanting to give to a charity on or before Christmas Day, please consider helping Patrick’s school. They are a not-for-profit, so your donation is tax-deductible. In August, Patrick’s program was able to double in expansion. Even though parents do pay tuition, not all costs are covered. One hundred percent of the money stays in the school and at least 85% or more goes directly to the children. We have been honored already by the response of my friends on Facebook and Twitter, and have raised our goal twice now. You can make a donation by going on-line to: http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/hildabowen/annual-campaign-2011 We wrote a story on there as well (similar to my Rock Autism speech). If you are leery about using Visa/Mastercard, then you can send them a check directly to (just attach a note that it is in honor of Patrick). Allison Boyd, Donor Services, Including Kids, 5364 FM 1960 East, Humble, Texas 77346 Make it payable to Including Kids Thank you for your consideration in this. Even $5 helps.

May we share in the song of the angels, the gladness of the shepherds, and worship of the wise men. Close the door of hate and open the door of love all over the world. Let kindness come with every gift and good desires with every greeting. Teach us to be merry with clear hearts. May Christmas morning make us happy to be Thy children, and Christmas evening bring us to our beds with grateful thoughts, forgiving and forgiven. Peace & blessings are wished to you and your families always.

Happy Holidays!
Hilda, Jeff & Patrick





So You Think You Can Dance — Top 20 Elimination

18 06 2011

As the minutes ticked down on Thursday night on “So You Think You Can Dance,” my nails were getting shorter. I went from disliking Nigel to loving Nigel in a matter of a minute. Was he dragging out the drama of an impossible decision or was it truly too tough to call? I have felt that suspense at the finale but never on decision night after the first week’s competition. I can only imagine what the nerves must have been like for the contestants.

Dancing to Sonya Tayeh’s choreographed routine to the song “XR2” by MIA, the group looked like futuristic military ninjas. Nigel announces that National Dance Day will be July 30, 2011. There will be three levels of dance routines. He encourages everyone to get out there and organize flash mobs for charity to celebrate dance.

Group dance

Group dance

The first group is called to the stage. In this group are Melanie and Marko, Missy and Wadi, and Iveta and Nick. It was pretty safe to say Melanie and Marko were safe after the Travis Wall routine. Would Iveta and Nick break the quickstep curse? All three couples are safe.

Mitchell was cleared to dance his solo later on the show after having an injury prevented him from performing on Wednesday night. I worried for him. If he was sent home, I hoped they would allow him a pass to Vegas next year.

The second group was called to the stage: Ashley and Chris, Jordan and Tadd. I predicted Jordan and Tadd would be in the bottom three couples for the simple fact that they went first, all this amazing choreography followed with other stellar performances. People have short attention spans. In part two of this group were Caitlynn (who danced with Robert Roldan instead of Mitchell), and Jess and Clarice. The next couple in the bottom three was Jess and Clarice. I think the challenge there is that many young people are voting and they don’t understand Broadway or ballroom dancing like the waltz, etc. Contemporary, hip-hop, krump, and dances along those lines sway those crowds.

Time to take a break with a performance of “Lose Control” by Keri Hilson.

Ryan and Ricky, in the next group, are safe, leaving Miranda and Robert, and Sasha and Alexander. The final couple dancing for their lives would be Miranda and Robert, totaling 7 dancers.

The Gopak was attempted in a previous season of SYTYCD with disastrous results. Tonight to perform how it SHOULD look was Gennadi Saveliev, formerly of the Bolshoi Ballet and co-founder of Youth America Grand Prix, the largest scholarship program for ballet dancers. It was beautiful.

Mitchell was up first with his solo. He reminded us who he was as a dancer and why he made it through during Vegas week. It was too soon for him to go home. Up until this season of SYTYCD, it was pretty easy to pick who was the weakest contestant sometimes up to the top 12. Then it was Jordan’s turn, followed by Tadd and Clarice. After a commercial break, Jess, Miranda and finally Robert perform their solos. I found it just as difficult as the judges, but my choices would have to be Clarice and Robert based on the solos only comparing them to the others in the group.

Lady Gaga’s video for “The Edge of Glory” debuted. I kept waiting for something outrageous to occur, but the video was cut off by a commercial. With no accompanying dancers either, I thought the video was the new victim of the economy. The live performance of this song at the American Idol finale was better (at least what I saw as a home viewer).

After coming back, it was announced that Clarence Clemons who played the saxophone in the Lady Gaga’s video suffered a stroke. Clarence was playing the sax at the American Idol finale. Shocking news. The judges asked Mitchell and Robert to dance again. I felt there was hope for Mitchell. Still not being able to make a decision, they call the girls out one-by-one and give them a critique. Then he makes the girls wait. Nigel calls the guys out and gives them a critique. The decision is: NO ONE LEAVES. A first in SYTYCD history. While that is great news for this week, 4 people will leave next week. If trying to pick out 2 to send home, how will it even be possible to pick out 4? Tune in to find out. See if history is made again.





My American Idol Finale Trip — The Final Chapter

3 06 2011

Glicel and I retired to our room after the American Idol finale on Wednesday night. I had already received a phone call from my Twitter buddy, Robert Burnett, who is currently directing episodes of Femme Fatales on Cinemax. Having missed our dinner reservations for LA Market by Kerry Simon (a Gordon Ramsay restaurant, where Nona Sivley was now working, winner of Hell’s Kitchen Season 8), I had booked a reservation for 9 p.m. on May 25th after the Idol finale. Rob would meet us there.

After seeing that the menu did not have a dish with vegetables with nuts, I opted for the bricked organic chicken with organic farro, braised beet greens and citrus jus.

Chicken

My chicken dish.

Glicel had the special-recipe meatloaf with mashed potatoes.

Meatloaf

Secret recipe meatloaf

Rob had grilled beef tenderloin with Yukon au gratin, onion, smoked bacon and red wine jus.

Tenderloin

Beef tenderloin

Ryan was our server. We each gave a little sample of our dish. I was a little disappointed when I took some chicken off the bone and it was a big pile of fat. There was not much of the chicken, but when I did actually get the chicken, it did melt in my mouth. However, after tasting the beef tenderloin, I had wished I had ordered that.

Glicel has a S’mores fettish right now, so we indulged. We reached consensus that there was no beating the original.

Smores

Upscale S'mores

My friend’s son wanted to go into filmmaking (surprise to me because I thought he wanted to be a musician) and she asked Rob a lot of questions. Rob was kind enough to offer his advice. The time went by very quickly; he had an early morning call so we parted ways.

Rob Glicel and me

Rob Burnett, Glicel, and me.

Texas is hotter than Hades right now (reached 100 degrees today). Even with the heat on (yes we turned on the heater in our room), I was still cold so the hotel was kind enough to bring me up a blanket. I went to the business center to find it had closed but they had a few computers outside the actual room. I used the opportunity to post on Twitter and Facebook and to print out our boarding passes for our flight home. On the way back up the elevator, I met two radio station personalities from Houston. I was trying to find a few of these people during the trip, and here they are in my elevator. I took the opportunity to explain who I was and when the Idols came into town, if they were interviewing them, I would love the opportunity to ask them questions or just say hello. They gave me their business cards and told me to contact them. They seemed to know me, or at least know my name, which was odd, but I had done a lot of promotional marketing for our April Rock Autism event benefitting my son’s school, “Including Kids”, so it is possible they remembered it from an email I sent. Hope lives that I will get to meet James Durbin soon.

It was 2-3 a.m. once again before I fell asleep and was up at about 7 a.m. We decided to go back to LA Market for breakfast where we opted for the buffet. We inquired if Nona was working, but we were told she would not be in until the afternoon. After breakfast, I ran down to the business center to post on Twitter and Facebook and mail off some things to home that would exceed the liquid limits on the airplane ride home. I also stopped in the gift shop where my new friend was excited to share her news: She was able to go to the finale herself and she smuggled in a camera. Her pictures were fantastic. We left in our taxi around 10:15 or so for our 12:45 flight home. I expressed my exuberant thanks to the taxi driver for the more peaceful ride to the airport.

Tired campers

A Rob-Burnett-inspired photo

Hallway

I pictured a big wheel and two ghosts.

We went and checked out some areas of the hotel we had no time to explore.

Pool

And it was heated.

Nokia

Nokia from the pool-eye's view.

Marriott

The opposite corner's view

Our flight was just a few minutes late. Although my itinerary said Glicel and I were sitting together, the boarding passes indicated we were not. Instead, I got to sit to this inspiring 20-something-year-old named Donnell. He is a hip-hop music producer who had been in LA for a few months, and was just now returning home to Atlanta. We talked music for awhile and I let him listen to some of Houston’s local talent that I had on my IPod. Our discussions turned more philosophical and I was in awe at his wisdom, an old soul. I don’t think I ever did this in my life with someone I met on the plane, but I gave him my email address and asked him to keep in touch. I have met some wonderful people in my lifetime on a plane, even held the hand of a woman an entire flight who was going to her grandbaby’s funeral. The life stories I have heard have enriched my life. I normally thank them for sharing and wish them a wonderful life, but Donnell was different. He actually emailed me on Sunday and I was tickled. We plan to keep in touch. We had a very bumpy ride into and out of Phoenix, the kind of turbulence that makes your stomach drop. This turbulence was NOTHING compared to a flight from New Orleans to Houston when there were tornado warnings out in the area of the Houston airport. That was the scariest flight I ever took.

The next segment of our flight was both booked solid and late arriving (for us to even board). They asked people who were in loading zones 3, 4, and 5 for boarding to step forward and check their bags so they could get the plane boarded quickly so we could take off as soon as possible. Only five stepped forward. We were rewarded with an upgrade to zone 2 boarding. Because people did not listen to the airline personnel, when they tried to bring their luggage on board, it was packed, so they had to go back out of the plane to check their bags, causing a further delay in the flight. I let out a heavy sigh. If people do not cooperate voluntarily to a direction or suggestion that will ultimately make things better for all, everyone else suffers.

Glicel and I did sit together this flight, but our attention was directed to the young mother flying with her 2-month-old child. The baby was wonderful through the flight. She was on a one-way flight from Phoenix to Houston to live closer to home. As we were close to landing in Houston, she informed us of a family member serving in the armed forces and was stationed in Korea and also had had a baby. She was missing him. I thanked her for his service, noting that the families of those serving in the military deserve our gratitude as well. With Memorial Day around the corner, I shared that my father-in-law, would be turning 90 on that Saturday, had served in World War II on the naval vessel Daniel T. Griffin in the Pacific campaign. My father was in the Navy during the Korean War, but I believe he was stationed in Europe and did not see any actual fighting. Glicel and I helped her get out of her seat and get her baby fastened safely into stroller in the jetway. As we parted, I gave her a big hug. I do hug people all the time. It’s the only way I can let out all of the emotion I feel inside sometimes.

We arrived about an hour late, but Glicel’s husband was there to pick us up at baggage claim. Somebody in that area was having a serious flatus problem; I had to hold my breath until we got outside. When I got home, I realized the only one who missed me was my golden retriever.

What a whirlwind trip it was! We encountered a few hiccups, but overall I had the time of my life. The trip turned out exactly the way the trip was meant to turn out. Los Angeles’ weather was a glorious reprieve from the oppressive Texas heat. We left our sign for James Durbin at Nokia; I can always hope that someone may have given it to him, particularly because of the nature of the sign (with all the autism ribbons on it). The recorded Idol finale will never be erased from my DVR; all I have to do is replay it, and it will take me right there again.

Many thanks to be given: To Fox Broadcasting for not only developing the program, but for offering this as a prize within our group. To my local station, Fox 26 Houston, for the recommendation to be a part of this wonderful VIP program. To the JW Marriott LA Live staff. To Jessica and Scott who helped to make this adventure even more fun. To Rob for coming out to dinner with us even though he was likely tired. To US Airways for getting us from point A to point C in one piece and for the friendliness of their employees. To my friend, Glicel, who accompanied me. To my husband for working it out so I could go. To my sweet Patrick who did not give my husband any trouble while I was gone. To my friends for putting up with me during those weeks between winning and going. And to anybody whose name I did not catch, thank you as well.





American Idol Finale — Day 2, Part B: The Show

1 06 2011

Although the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles seats 7100, the theater seems very intimate with a good view from every chair. This was my ticket:

Ticket

My ticket for American Idol Finale

And I was seated about where I have the dot on the chart:

Nokia

Sat in the blue section, right side, where the dot is.

We entered about 3:45 p.m. The production staff was on stage. I thought maybe Comfort from So You Think You Can Dance might have been one of the choreographers on the stage, too, but we were too far away for me to make a positive identification. I had forgotten binoculars! Those WERE allowed into the theater. Bicycles were practicing behind them, which immediately brought Arcade Fire’s Grammy performance to mind. To my right in the mezzanine section was a sign for one of the contestants with battery-operated lights. I immediately realized the poor choice I made in the color selection of the sign for James. The cameras would never see it. To our left in the LOGE section was a group of young ladies holding up individual-letter balloons that spelled out S C O T T Y. Very creative.

I got to meet some more Fox people who were sitting around us. Everyone was so wonderful. I hope my excitement did not get on their nerves.

Corey is the warm-up guy for American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance. He sounds like Ryan Seacrest. Before the show began, they introduced the judges: Randy Jackson, then Jennifer Lopez who was in a stunning gown, and then Steven Tyler. Then we were live.

Benefitting greatly from on-line voting this year, the vote for Scotty versus Lauren brought in a record 122 million votes. Decked-out in white, reminiscent of the David vs. David year, Lauren and Scotty took the stage. The group performed the Lady Gaga song, “Born This Way” and it sounded great in the theater.

During the commercial break, people were going in and out from the audience. Corey asked everyone to get up on their feet, especially towards the end of a song.

Coming into the theater on the orchestra level was a bald guy with a spiked costume. My friend was yelling to me that was James Durbin, but I was looking at the bald guy saying “no it’s not.” (She was looking in a different place). I had to ask Scott and Jessica with whom James was singing (Judas Priest)

Another thing I noticed when I watched it back on DVR was when they were making note of someone in the audience, like Adam Lambert or David Cook, it would not show up on the screens at Nokia (unless I totally missed it because there was so much going on).

Next up was Jacob Lusk with Gladys Knight and Kirk Franklin of Fort Worth, singing “I Smile.”

Casey Abrams and Jack Black were up next singing “Fat Bottomed Girls.” When they were head-to-head at the end of the song, I really expected Casey to kiss him, like his JLo move earlier in the season, although probably not as soft. What you missed on camera was Casey mauling Jack Black with a giant bear hug. I could see Casey pursuing a career in comedy (I mean that as a compliment).

The girls were up next with a medley of Beyonce songs. It sounded good in the audience; however, after I returned home and listened to it on DVR, it did not sound so wonderful. It gave me some perspective though on why the judges think everything sounds fantastic. Also the crowd was going bonkers, but on TV, the sound of the crowd was sort of muted. It reminded me of the voice-sensitive microphones they use for news broadcasts where you can hear the voice of the reporter, but the background noise is muffled out.

Houston-girl Beyonce looked and sounded fabulous. I remember saying that she must have been glued in tight for that dress and I worried for her for a wardrobe malfunction. Once she took center-stage, she was so awesome she made the girls look like amateurs.  Beyonce is a goddess.  That is all.

At this point, I was very surprised how slowly time was passing which was a good thing for me. I also felt sorry for my seat-neighbors hoping I hadn’t ruptured their eardrums with my high-octave screeching and apologize to anyone sitting behind me about my dancing. I was in the zone.

During the commercial breaks, Ryan or Corey (I really could not tell their voices apart) engaged the audience members, threw them T-shirts, and other things like that.

I was expecting Haley to sing with Lady Gaga, so I was very surprised to see Mr. Tony Bennett. Then TLC was up, but I did not recognize them at first either.

When “Live Like You’re Dying” was announced (misheard for the real song title “Like You Were Dying), I thought, “Cool, Scotty is going to be singing with Kris Allen.” Embarrassing how little country music I know. It was Tim McGraw.

Another commercial and then more bad singing which was then reprieved by Marc Anthony singing “Aguanile” by Hector Lavoe, with Jennifer Lopez dancing and Sheila E in the house. My friend Glicel later explained the song. It was about black magic and calling out the evil spirits, which would explain the JLo booty shaking.  

Another shocking guest star appearance was Tom Jones after a medley of his superhits by the boys.  

After this I had what I’d like to call my Disney-overwhelm moment. To understand, back in the late 1990’s I went on another girls’ trip with a friend, her sister, and her friend to Disney. I had so many years at that point of caregiving and throwing myself into my son’s treatment program. I was working 40-60 hours a week for my employer, working 40-60 hours a week with him and running him to occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech therapy in between. The first night we were at Disneyworld, seeing the fireworks, hearing the music, not believing that I was actually having this fun time that I desperately needed with these wonderful friends, the flood gates to my emotions just opened up and I found myself sobbing. Having gotten only 6 hours of sleep between Monday and Wednesday, being there, hearing the music, getting a break from my son, my eyes began to well up with unexpected tears. Since I was not anticipating having this moment, I did not wear waterproof mascara. The fear of having raccoon eyes quickly quelled my emotional overload.

While the stage was being set up for Lady Gaga, Ford did their tribute with the teachers. Three cheers for them. Our teachers in this nation deserve some recognition. Not only did the school get money, but the teachers got a car. Then we learned Scotty and Lauren could have a Ford car of their choice and consensus around where we were sitting was that Scotty would get a pick-up truck–I’m thinking F-150.

Lady Gaga is a terrific performer, but the simulated sex and jumping off the edge of a cliff with Mark Kanemura (from So You Think You Can Dance) in the song “The Edge of Glory” were not something for young kids’ eyes. Although the age limit was no one under 6 allowed, there were some kids younger than 6 in that crowd. At home, you have the choice as a parent to turn off the television; attending a concert that you trust is family-friendly, she should have had the good sense to modify her act. When Adam Lambert was touring Indonesia, he was asked to tone down the concert and he respectfully did. It goes back to the age-old argument that yes, you have first amendment rights and a right to creative expression, but you have to use that right with responsibility. It was nice to see Clarence Clemmons, however.

Lauren sang a great duet with Carrie Underwood “Before He Cheats” and just like Beyonce, the star shined. However, I give her major props for trying to keep up especially with her vocal cords problem.

After more “youngest contestant” jokes, Beyonce performed yet again. I could never get enough Beyonce.

During the commercial, they emphasized to the audience to make sure the aisles were clear. The Spiderman performance required very precise movements and they wanted to ensure the safety of both the acrobats and the audience. When Bono and the Edge and Reeve Carney (the guy who sings in the play on Broadway) took the stage, I slapped my head and feigned fainting. When I got home and watched the performance on playback, wouldn’t you know that there was some idiot in the audience who thought the rules did not apply to her and tried to touch one of the acrobats when he came down into the audience.

After another commercial break, Steven Tyler came on and performed “Dream On.” It was too short; I was left wanting more.

Coming back from another commercial break, Scotty was named the winner. As he broke down and cried, my heart again welled up with tears. Scotty and Lauren were both very humble and very down-to-earth kids; if James could not win, then either of them would have been the next best thing.

There were congratulations to the band and then the crew with the show signing off. I wanted to stay in the audience as long as possible (until we were kicked out) but Glicel wanted to get t-shirts before they sold out, so out we went.

After obtaining t-shirts, we exited the Nokia and saw a bunch of lights and excitement over at the Fox tent, so we went to investigate. However, too many people were smoking, and I could not tolerate it, so we went back to the hotel.

Next up: The rest of Day 2 and Day 3





American Idol Finale — Day Two, Part A

30 05 2011

I woke up initially at 4:00 a.m. on Wednesday (my body was on Houston time still) but did go back to sleep until 7:15 when I decided to get up and go for a walk to a local Walgreens for supplies (about a half-mile away) to make my sign for James for the American Idol finale. There were not many people out in the morning yet. The temperature was cool and the sky was cloudless. I enjoyed my stroll through downtown LA.

Walkway

Walkway between the hotel that led to Nokia

Sunny day in LA

View from my hotel before my walk

Upon arriving back at the hotel, my friend had already showered. Not to delay breakfast any longer, I decided to just go to breakfast as I was and would shower after we got back.

We went to look for any restaurants open for breakfast other than Starbucks and were surprised at the work that had progressed already on laying out the red carpet for that night’s show at Nokia.

Nokia

Nokia Theater the morning of Idol finale

Red carpet being laid

Red carpet being laid outside of The Nokia Theater

The Farm of Beverly Hills was open. Roberto was our server. I ordered a bowl of fruit and a side order of turkey sausage. Glicel had eggs and the usual accompaniments. I did not want to eat too much as we were going to be meeting my brother-in-law, Peter, for lunch at noon. Just a few bites of my food satisfied the hunger quickly.

Menu

Menu at The Farm of Beverly Hills

Glicel

Glicel being a good sport with all the pictures.

We walked back to the hotel, noting even more progress on the event.

Walkway back to hotel

Walkway back to the hotel.

Progress on the red carpet

Progress on the red carpet

After returning to the hotel, I took a shower. Since Glicel is the creative one, I put her to work on the sign. She did a terrific job.

Signs1

Glicel getting to work on the sign.

Sign2

The final product; in retrospect, black was a bad choice.

Sign3

The second part of the sign.

Having gotten 2 hours of sleep, my butt was dragging and I remember at some point we went down to the lobby’s gift shop and I got some caffeine pills and made a new friend.

Leaving the signs to dry, we walked over to Rock’N Fish to meet my brother-in-law. A fellow Fox VIP person, Phillip Fritts, asked me to take a picture outside the Nokia with a link to his website.

Phillip

Click on this to go to Phillip's website

I saw the doors to the Nokia were open, and I peeked in there. The attendant said I was not allowed in. Since we were not allowed to bring cameras in later, I asked if I could just run in (with her watching me), take a picture of inside, and then come back out. She told me I could take a picture from the door. Nice compromise.

InsideNokia

Inside the Nokia Theater. Ironically, our seats were going to be in LOGE

As we continued to make our way to the restaurant, we saw people taking pictures in front of an American Idol sign and we decided to do the same.

AI sign

This IS American Idol.

We finally arrived at Rock’N Fish. Peter was already waiting at a lovely outside table and had ordered calamari as an appetizer. He looked great. Since this was an adventure, I decided to try the calamari. It was not what I was expecting (a good thing), but I would likely not order it on my own in the future. I wanted to make sure I had room for the crab cake! We chatted about family and work. As our meal progressed, so did the crowds.

Peter

My brother-in-law, Peter.

We took a stroll over to The Staples Center, across the street from Nokia, and got to see a different perspective of the red carpet area being laid out.

Nokia

Across from Nokia, where the stars would arrive.

We also took some pictures in front of Staples. Peter showed me where we would be going to pick up our tickets for tonight’s show about an hour later, and it looked pretty easy to access. We turned around and walked back towards the hotel, noting a Grammy museum on the way that I wished we had had the time to go visit.

MagicJohnson

Magic Johnson at Staples Center

Grammy

One of hundreds of Grammys on the sidewalk.

At the hotel, we went to the business center where I posted on Facebook and Twitter. It was then I found out who was in the lobby the previous night (the ones I just missed). Her daughter was making a sign for the show as well. Then, it was time to freshen up our makeup and put on our outfits. We needed to be at the tent at 3:00 to meet with people from the Fox VIP program, to pick up our tickets and take some pictures. Our instructions said to leave cameras and cell phones at the hotel (if we took them to Nokia, we would have to check them in and getting those after the show would take awhile). I had dinner plans with a friend after the show, so I needed to have quicker access to my cell phone.

When we exited the backside of the hotel, there were signs that said Fox and press with an arrow pointing to the right, which was logically the right way to go. I was surprised how tight everything had gotten in the short time we were gone. When we got to the corner where we would have turned left, it was blocked off completely and we were told to go through the garage. The arrows for Fox and press pointed to an area where there was an American Idol sign, but they had no idea what I was talking about or the names I gave them who worked for Fox. They suggested I walk back past the hotel to the area where the tents were (the area where I had my picture taken before Rock’N Fish). I did not think this was correct, but it was always possible the location was changed. As we are walking back, I passed a previous American Idol contestant walking briskly in the opposite direction, but my mind went blank on his name (24 hours later I remembered it was Kevin Covais). You could hear in the background the sounds of screams and applause as stars made their way onto the red carpet.

Right at the Nokia, but prior to the tent, we got stopped and were informed that we could not get in without a ticket. I told them the story, showed them my Fox VIP badge with my name on it, and that I needed to get to THAT tent to GET my tickets. They were kind enough to let me pass.

Once at that tent, the man did not know what I was talking about. Another man came over and told us where we needed to go (where my brother-in-law Peter showed us earlier). I explained that it was basically cut off to us and asked him to please tell us how to get there as I was from out of town and was not familiar with the area. He told us to cut through in front of Nokia and that would get us on the street and to hang a right. As we approached that area, we were stopped again. Jorge said he had never seen my badge. I told him that was because I was the only one at the entire event that had one and explained what the program was, that I won a contest, needed to get my tickets, and that man over at the tent told us to cut through here to get to that street beyond the theater to get to the Fox tent to get the tickets. If this did not work, I was going to have to go back to the hotel, up to my room and call the contact person to let them know of my difficulties. A few minutes of pleading eventually persuaded him, and I promised him he could watch us as we stayed on the outside, going nowhere near the theater.

Finally seeing the unobstructed path to the tent, I felt relief, but also a sense of embarrassment at being so late. I should have planned for potential obstacles.

After meeting Scott, Jessica came over to say hello. After talking to these people for a long time, it was great to finally meet them in person. We would be sitting with them and I let out a little yelp of happiness that made them chuckle. They were my rock stars at this event. It would give me time to talk with them more and get to know them. Scott refused to come take pictures at first with us, but had a change of heart, which made my heart very happy. I don’t have these pictures yet, but hopefully will post them when I get them. It was now about 3:45 p.m. and we entered the Nokia Theater for the big event that started at 5 p.m.

Next up–The American Idol finale show (yes, it deserves its own entry).





American Idol Finale Trip — Day One

28 05 2011

It was finally the morning of the day we were to leave for the American Idol finale. I had things to do, however. Before crashing at 2:00 a.m., I was about half-packed. It turned out to be a wise choice. I got up at 6:00, 45 minutes before the alarm was set, but the excitement and adrenaline had started to churn. I got up and took some extra time to print off some items I was going to need for my sign for James and to see if I could locate a heart that had the symbolic puzzle-pieces within from the internet.

At 6:45, attention turned to getting Patrick up and ready for school, a process that normally takes 1-1/2 hours each morning. Although 15 years old, because of his autism, he still needs assistance with aspects of his routine, like making his oatmeal for breakfast. Although he can pour in the milk, I still need to measure out the milk. He also has not been able to give himself a bath or shower, something about which I need to have a consult with his school. At 8:10, we left for the 45-minute drive to school (one-way).

I was worried about Patrick. On Monday, he developed these strange tics, the likes of which I had never seen before. They had calmed down a bit on Tuesday, but there were still evident. Someone on Twitter asked me if I was going to cancel my trip and I said, “Hell no.” If the tics were still there when I got back, I’d make an appointment for him the following week to go to the pediatrician.

I have gone away from Patrick many times in the past. I do not miss him while I am gone, most especially on short trips. Maybe it is more appropriate to say I miss him, his smile, his laugh, but I do not miss the caregiving. When I finally do find time to get away every couple of years, it is because I’m desperate for respite. Saying goodbye to him that morning, however, I had to hold back my tears and I got all choked up because I was worried about him and his tics.

On the trip home, I stopped at the bank and CVS. After getting home, I had to still call the medical supply company to place an order (because I knew Jeff would forget as it is normally my responsibility), and I had to contact the physical therapist and occupational therapist about an upcoming evaluation we were pursuing. There would be a long Memorial weekend after I got back and I know some places would close on Friday to extend that weekend. I also had to call TSA to ask them about some of my medications and their quart-bag rules. I had not traveled since the adoption of the quart-bag rule. I take protein injections before I eat twice a day so I needed to know the procedure for the needles going through security. I was a little anxious about the pat-down procedure because of my post-traumatic stress disorder resulting from my assault back in 1988. I made sure I was wearing waterproof mascara so that if this did happen and I was crying hysterically about it, I would not have raccoon eyes.

The time on the clock had me worried that I would have trouble being done on time. If I have learned anything with my time with our local Fox 26 Houston station, you should always be camera-ready. My friend was going to pick me up since she lived further back in The Woodlands and was anticipated to get here at 12:15. I was done at noon, which was quite impressive considering. The usual anxiety of going away on a trip was not here this time. The only missing element to this trip was my husband, Jeff. I always thought it was his fault.

When my friend was not here at 12:15, I was not worried. When 12:30 passed and she had not called yet, I was getting a little worried. I purposefully round-up my numbers when I’m calculating when we need to leave to allow for such possibilities. I decided if she was not here by 12:45, I would call her.

I left a note on our kitchen bulletin board to my family that I loved them and would miss them and left my husband a honey-do list that included picking up thyroid medication for the dog.

My friend, Glicel, pulled up sometime between 12:30-12:45. Her son, John, was kind enough to take a picture of us to begin the chronicle of our journey. We were off!

Me and Glicel getting ready to leave my house

Me and Glicel getting ready to leave my house

Glicel had gotten in touch with her cousin in Los Angeles who was going to pick us up from LAX and take us over to her house for dinner and maybe some sightseeing. I have known Glicel for 19 years; our children have grown up together. Of all the people in Texas who know me, she knows me the best. I took a deep breath and said, “You remember about my problems with smoking, right? She does not smoke?” Glicel didn’t seem to think so, but she had not seen her cousin in more than 20 years. I needed to be sure not only did she not smoke, that no one has smoked in her car, no one smokes at her house, etc., and proceeded to go into my travel experiences when these things have happened. Glicel would call her from Phoenix to find out and we decided if anything was even in question, Glicel would go visit with her cousin, and I would just go to the hotel and relax. I was glad I was with a really good friend at this point who understood.

Terminal A at George W. Bush Airport (previously known as Intercontinental Airport, thus the IAH designation) is the least traveled of all the terminals. The night before I joked with Glicel that I checked the weather and unless there was a mechanical problem with the plane (which fed into her fears), it looked like there should be no delays. I need to stop opening my mouth and saying words like this to the universe.

We got through security pretty quickly and without any problem whatsoever. Big sigh of relief. We arrived at the gate and the plane was to leave at 3:00 to Phoenix and would fly onto Sacramento, with the gate door being closed at 2:50. I took a call from school to let me know that the school had gotten tickets again to an Astros’ game (funny enough it was Astros versus the Dodgers) and if I thought Patrick could go. I called Jeff to make sure he filled out the permission slip to send it back and that it would allow him to stay at work a little longer that day.

When the plane was not boarding at 2:20, I knew something odd was up. Eventually they made the announcement that the plane would be delayed by an hour and anyone having to make a connection needed to step forward. We did. There were 3 lines, but they were not moving. The man holding up our line was at the desk for a half-hour. People were getting very agitated after awhile because they did not have enough help and if the plane was going to be loading up at 4:00, everyone making a connecting flight could not be serviced. We had lovely conversation with several people around us, keeping our spirits high. Even if this got us into Los Angeles late, the finale would not be until the next day so we were okay.

When it was finally our turn with the airline personnel, we asked what was wrong. She said there was a problem with the emergency slide they were trying to fix. Glicel seemed nervous to even get on a plane that had a mechanical problem, but she was okay. The ticket agent said 1) if this plane was fixed before 6:00 p.m., we would be on this original flight, just late or 2) if this plane was cancelled, they would get us on the 6:00 p.m. flight to Phoenix. Either way, we would not make our connecting flight at Phoenix to LA. This is when I wish I had internet access or a Smartphone. For some odd reason she put us on a Delta flight leaving at 8:05 p.m. Phoenix time (10:05 p.m. Houston time). Remember this because it is important information for later in my story. We thanked her for her effort and decided to go grab a little bite to eat.

Waiting in line for 2 hours to be rerouted

Waiting in line for 2 hours to be rerouted

That morning, I had a light breakfast — pistachios and a banana. I chose to eat at McDonald’s, a snack- sized fruit and walnut salad. There were not too many things appealing to a very strict diet at those fast-food stands. Glicel called her cousin to let her know it looked like our plane would not be coming in until 10:30 Los Angeles time. Her cousin said that was too late for her. In the meantime, I called LA Market (Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant) and cancelled our dinner reservations and proceeded to call the hotel to make sure they knew we were still coming and to not give our room away, another precaution and lesson learned from a previous trip in Seattle (but that time, despite telling 5-star hotel we were coming in at midnight and had a credit card to reserve the room, they gave away our room and told us they could send us to a hotel in the suburbs because all the hotels in downtown Seattle were booked).

Sometime between 5:00-5:30, the plane finally boarded. My friend took the middle seat and I took the aisle seat. We snapped a picture to show how excited we were to leave.

On the plane

We've finally boarded!

In Phoenix we got off the plane (maybe it was about 6:30 Phoenix time) and looked at the board to find out what gate Delta’s flight was leaving, but could not find it. However, I saw that the airline on which we were traveling had a flight leaving at 8:00 for LAX and I did not understand why we were not booked on that plane. I shrugged my shoulders and said, “That one must have been full.” I also saw that one was leaving at 6:50, but I figured she did not book us on that because she was afraid we would miss that, especially if we had to leave on the 6:00 Houston flight.

Phoenix from the air

Beautiful view headed into Phoenix

Landing in Phoenix

Phoenix is a beautiful city

I suggested we walk some more and maybe the boards further up would tell us about where to find Delta. In Houston, they have all the flights leaving on the board and what airline and terminal and gate. We stopped at See’s Candy to ask the man there where the heck was Delta. He informed us we would have to leave this terminal, take a bus, and then go through security again. That did not sit well with me. I said, “Seriously? You guys do not have a walkway or a tram that you can just hop that will take you to any of the terminals like we do in Houston? Nope. I then asked a security person that who confirmed the same thing. But then I got to thinking –wait a minute–the airline personnel did not give us boarding passes for Delta so how in the world would we get through security. We decided to go to another US Airways desk. They told us that before going through security, we would have to stand in line at the ticket counter to get our boarding passes. I asked why we could not go on their 8:00 flight. We were told it was full, but…… and they told us to quickly quickly go the customer assistance area two spots down from them. We gave the man the abbreviated version of the story. He said yes the 8:00 flight was full, but the flight FROM THE GATE WE JUST LEFT was going to LAX and why didn’t we stop at the ticket counter THERE to ask. He yelled for an electric cart to speed us away back to that gate (which was pretty far away). The guy had the cart on full throttle.

As we pulled up, there was no one at the ticket counter. The door was shut. I watched a minute later the ramp being pulled away.

By then I was livid. The lack of communication in this airline was astounding. Somewhere between the time we were re-routed on Delta and the time we boarded the plane in Houston, someone decided that the plane we actually were sitting on was no longer going to Sacramento, but rather decided it was going now to LAX. There was absolutely NO announcement on the plane of such a thing happening. We should have never gotten off that flight. I was completely in the dark that there were other flights on the same airline going to LAX until I reached the terminal in Phoenix. In the meantime, my friend was in line at another ticket counter close to this gate and shared the story. Apparently the 8 p.m. flight on this airline was NOT full. We just could not sit together. Book ’em Danno. We did not care we could not sit together. Why did at least 4 other ticket agents not tell us, “The flight is pretty full and I can get you on there, but you just cannot sit together.” I traveled a great deal in my lifetime and when traveling with others, this was always said to us and then the choice could be ours. This sure beats having to leave the terminal, go on a bus, go to another terminal, wait in line at the ticket counter, get a boarding pass, go back through security, etc.

The plane leaves late, but just by another 20 minutes but we were FINALLY in Los Angeles and the weather outside felt beautiful. Since LAX is usually bustling with celebrities at all hours of the day and night going to and fro, I kept a watchful eye out. We decided to take a cab instead of Supershuttle because I did not want to spend another few hours driving around LA taking others to their hotels.

In LA

Waiting for our cab in Los Angeles

As we get in the cab, the man says, “I prefer cash.” I said, “Don’t we all. Do you take American Express?” He again said he preferred cash and I lied and said, “I don’t have any cash, and if that was a problem, he needed to let us out right now.” (My brother-in-law the next day told me he could have gotten into a lot of trouble because there is a city law that they cannot refuse a fare at the airport). Whether he then had an attitude or this was his usual behavior, he proceeded to drive like a maniac. I thought I was going to have to grab Glicel’s hand. It felt like I was back in New York City. We were missing other vehicles by inches.

We were noting at how many people there were at this late hour and all the different names of airlines, some of which we completely foreign to us, trying to distract us from the driving of this cabbie.

Midway to the hotel, I just got a really bad vibe about this cab driver. I leaned over to my friend and told her I was not going to use the gift card for the cab fare but my own Mastercard because I just had a funny feeling. My sixth sense is rarely off. It was the same feeling I got that I was going to win this American Idol finale contest.

At this late hour, the bright side is there was little traffic and once we got clear of the traffic at the airport, we got to the hotel rather quickly.

As we were checking out with the cab driver, I noticed he swiped my card twice, claiming the first one you could not see the numbers. I’m glad I did this. If any weird charges start showing up on my credit card, I’ll know EXACTLY the source. I don’t believe I would have the same protections with my gift card.

The hotel was beautiful. They had us in room 963 (which was oddly the month and year of my friend’s birth). We saw a commotion over in the lounge (it was about 11:30 now) and decided we would put our bags upstairs and then go on a search for something light to eat. Our room was so beautiful. Here are some pictures:

Our hotel room

The bed was VERY comfortable.

The bathroom

The bathroom was very modern

Another viewpoint

Our room from the door's point of view

Our view looked into downtown LA versus the Nokia, which turned out to be a good thing because there were flashing lights and spotlights that we would have to contend with being on the opposite side of the floor while trying to sleep. The bathroom door was very interesting. After playing a game of shadow puppets, we decided that if one of us was using the toilet, the other one would not go near the door (not a pretty picture! LOL).

Transparent bathroom door

The transparent-like bathroom door

Shadow puppets

Playing shadow puppets on the bathroom door

The lounge area had thinned out. The next day, from some people in the business center, I found out that Cat Deeley, the host of So You Think You Can Dance, was there and that James Durbin was there for some part of the night. There were also rumored other people but this particular individual did not see them so considered that to be rumor. I was bummed when I found out. The restaurants were closed, so we headed back to the hotel. It looked like maybe room service was our only option. However, we were told the lounge “The Mixing Room” over in the corner had a small menu from which you could order so we headed in there. We ordered a margherita pizza (personal sized). My friend ordered a glass of wine; I ordered water. I ran back up to the room to take my medicine. The pizza was taking a long time, and the waitress brought us over some popcorn because she knew how starving we were. Once it did arrive, the pizza was delicious. It came from Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant apparently even though it wasn’t officially open (I guess they do room service in the evening). When we got the bill, they had apparently compensated the price of the pizza because of the length of the delay, which I thought was terribly thoughtful but unnecessary, but since it was our first break of the night, I welcomed it with open arms.

Skewed picture

This picture came out weird looking, but I thought it was very interesting.

Lounge

This is the area where the celebrities were at earlier in the evening.

The Mixing Room

The Mixing Room

We headed up to the room, and I ran down to the business center to use the computer for a few minutes, then back to the room where we snuggled in and drifted off somewhere in the 2:00-2:30 range (which my body felt like 4:00-4:30 range). The next day held an enormously busy schedule. We set the alarm for 10 o’clock in case either of us slept solidly so that we would have enough time to shower and meet my brother-in-law for lunch at noon. I had no problem falling asleep that night.

(To be continued — Day 2).