So You Think You Can Dance Season 12 Top 18 Perform, 2 Eliminated

1 08 2015

The opening number is Justin Timberlake’s “Let The Groove Get In.” Edson and Virgil were the ones who caught my eye tonight. I enjoyed that a lot. One of the better openers. It was choreographed by Reina Hidalgo and Asiel Hardison. Cat shared the results from last week’s show. Team Street had 48% of the vote and Team Stage got 52% of the vote.

Alexia and Derek and JaJa were paired with Stacey Tookey to perform a contemporary routine. The story is about bravery and how it takes on different forms. Derek is a war veteran; JaJa is a woman leaving an abusive situation; Alexia is a single mom. The song is “All Waters” by Perfume Genius. OH MY GOD. GOOSEBUMPS!!!! The entire song—goosebumps. I was almost near tears. Each one of them did a wonderful job, but JaJa and Derek affected me the most. Nigel said Alexia did a tremendous job. Seeing Derek relying on the girls and the girls on him was terrific. JaJa said she just started a new show for him—“Guess who is the street krumper”—because he would have never known. He said someone in his life told him to bloom wherever you are planted and that is exactly what she is doing. Paula said it always starts with choreography and she gets it right. She takes 3 separate unique dancers and blend them beautifully. They all danced beautifully tonight. Regarding Derek, she felt he really fell into the character and tonight so far was his best night. Regarding Alexia, she understands the height challenges and she is always going to have to stretch to be seen and she IS being seen. Regarding JaJa, each and every week she is morphing into a very accomplished dancer and because of that she is always going to have them in the palm of their hands rooting for her. Jason thought said it was beautiful. He felt like our country needed to see that. It was more than a competition—they were living up there. He agrees that tonight by far was Derek’s best routine. He felt like it was about the story and they delivered that tonight. The votes, based on last week’s dances: Alexia and JaJa and Derek are all safe.

Megz, Moises and Jim were paired together for a Team Street hip-hop routine choreographed by JaQuel Knight (who choreographed “All The Single Ladies” for Beyoncé). This dancer, however, is about standing up to the haters saying “whatever.” And appropriately the song choice is “Whuteva” by Remy Ma. Megz was the star of this. Moises was probably next best and Jim still struggled with being straight. Overall I enjoyed the routine quite a bit, and I have a feeling this might be my new anthem. I thought, too, it was clever that the song lyrics cued them in on what the choreography should be with the arms. Paula felt the routine they were given wasn’t necessarily technically challenging so the dance really relies on them filling in the spaces, committing to being in character and being over the top with the vibe and feel. She felt Megz did well but could even give more. Moises really needs to drop down into it like tWitch was saying. She felt the same with Jim but he was giving it his all. Jason thought it was cool. He said the first 75% she was giving it to him, but the last 25% she kind of dropped off. The guys were kind of like the brother back-up dancers. He felt this was not the guys’ best number and they struggled. Nigel agrees with Paula that it was more about the attitude than the steps. Nigel said it didn’t work. Megz gave it everything she had. He didn’t think Moises could be mean or cruel if anyone was kicking him about the stage, but he has to find that attitude. He didn’t comment on Jim. Cat shares the results from last week’s show: Jim and Megz are safe; Moises is in danger again this week.

Edson, JJ and Yorelis were next up to do a jazz routine with choreographer Tovaris Wilson. The song is about the push and pull of relationships. The song is “Restart” by Sam Smith. Edson owned the sexiness. The girls had no worries about their sexiness. They did a terrific job. Jason thought it was good and entertaining. Jason demonstrated to Edson what he was looking for—that he could be into the ladies at any time and not worrying about looking at one or the other. He encouraged him to be more free. Nigel said the girls were two of his favorite street kids this year. This was a nice way to bring the street kids into jazz with the groove. Edson needs to start using his sensuality into it now. Jason is right—keep your options open. Paula said this routine was all about the vibe. The two girls are little bright lights but they have to look at their techniques. We have to see pointed toes and arms with intention. Yorelis was more comfortable in this zone than JJ but they are both wonderful to watch. Edson was the dude; he was the stud; nothing more can be said. The results for last week’s dance puts Edson is in danger; Yorelis and JJ are safe.

Asaf and Marissa got together for a club cha-cha with Jean Marc Genereux. This is about the rock star coming into the room and the groupie fan. Twitch jokes with him that this week he doesn’t have to take him outside to talk to him and that is amazing. The song is “+1” by Martin Solveig featuring Sam White. Marissa was fantastic. You could really see Asaf struggling. He could see him thinking in his head about what he had to do and where he had to be to be a good partner that he totally left his hotness in the closet. This is a routine where he could have used his flirty nature to turn up the heat and if he had accomplished that all the little mistakes with arm positioning and many other things would have been overlooked. He had this little firecracker on his arm! Such a shame. I am glad he didn’t complain about the routine, now he needs to stretch himself. I have no idea why the audience gave them a standing ovation. Perhaps it was because of Marissa. Nigel said he didn’t know what club cha-cha was but it didn’t feel much like a cha-cha to him. I have to agree with Nigel. Towards the end there, I was thinking modern-day disco perhaps. He felt Marissa did everything that was required of her but instead of using him throughout the performance, she used the audience and she was supposed to be the “groupie” of Asaf (who he jabbed with that he looks like a rock star but doesn’t dance like one). Nigel complimented Asaf on how hard he did work this week. It is a journey. This was not a good routine for Asaf (comparing him to a caterpillar that will someday bloom into a butterfly). Paula said she could tell him about the cha-cha about not turning his hips in, not to be pigeon-toed with his feet, but forget all that. She looks at where he started and you can’t help but to feel completely changed to where he is now. It didn’t work for her either but he gets an “A” for effort. Regarding Marissa, the selflessness she saw in rehearsal didn’t come through in the final product and she agrees with Nigel. Jason said it is all about the connection. She didn’t have the same connection with him as she did with the audience and him; it came off as being fake. Regarding Asaf, he has to flex his muscles some to get some votes because he is going to have a hard time. Cat told them that Marissa is safe this week and Asaf is in danger this week.

Sean Cheesman choreographs Gaby, Burim and Ariana for an African jazz number that is what Sean calls the “Dance of the Blood Moon.” He says they are mystical creatures, like creepy animals. Indeed they looked like creepy spiders when the dance began to the song “Gorilla” by Lord Kraven. I would say Ariana was the star of that dance followed very closely by Gaby, but props to Burmin who held his own. He was worried about not getting it, but I think he got it. I loved the standing back rolls the ladies did. Did it give me goosebumps? No. But I think so far it was my second favorite dance of the night. Paula said it was a very strong routine. Paula said to Burim “I loved watching your package.” And Nigel interrupted and Paula realized what she said. She said the show is also about overcoming adversity as it is about getting constant praise. She loves to see the struggle and then they get to sit back with a smile on their face and say, “wow, you pulled through.” That’s charming, that’s exciting, and it makes them proud. Regarding the ladies, she said she knew they were strong but seeing them lift each other and throw each other—those two were fierce. The precision of dancing together was very well done. Jason said if Burim can’t find the foot, don’t let it not happen, just look down for it, because the audience doesn’t know that he isn’t supposed to look down. All in all Jason thought it was a really good performance. Conceptually it was one of the best numbers for him. Nigel said it was one of the best numbers for him tonight. Regarding Ariana, she looked comfortable in it. She was great and powerful in it. He can’t believe that Gaby is really a tap dancer. He is so proud of her. Nigel gave him some dancing pointers. Cat said Ariana and Burim are in danger this week and Gaby is safe.

Neptune and Kate teamed up with Justin Giles for a contemporary routine. It’s about a husband and wife saying goodbye not knowing if the husband will return from a dangerous job. The song is “Promise” by Ben Howard. I had such wonderful goosebumps. Kate improved with her emotional connection and Neptune—wow! He really dug deep. That was beautiful. Jason said that piece was beautiful. Choreography these days are a million steps, but this was not and they had to fill in the pieces and they did that beautifully. The chemistry was chilling. He felt like they were item and still feel that (just putting it out there). That was a grade-A performance. He felt Kate really came out of her shell. It was his performance from her. Neptune surprises him every single week. He doesn’t know who his favorite is this week but Neptune is kind of taking that spot. Nigel said he found it interesting and challenging. It was static in its movements but expansive in what it was trying to say as well. I was shocked when Nigel said that 10 years ago he would get complaints about a black person dancing with a white person (WOW—shocking). But he feels that so much was said in that routine and both portrayed it beautifully and complimented Kate on her performance. He has complained about her not releasing but she did this week. Paula said it was such a simple, beautiful concept yet so complex with emotions and both were able to deliver beautifully. Paula told Kate she was worried about Kate letting go and being vulnerable and she was just right. Neptune is one of the favorites. He is really showing the breadth of a dancer that he really is. Cat said that Neptune is safe. Kate is in danger.

Virgil and Hailee take on a hip-hop routine with Pharside and Phoenix number. They are robots from outer space. The song is “Runnin’” by Noahplause. WOW!!!!! I would have said Hailee was on Team Street. The moves were fantastic. I was blown away. Now, it didn’t give my goosebumps, but I think it was my favorite non-goosebumped-song. The judges were on their feet. Nigel said these two were the best two characters they have this year. Their personalities shine out beyond the little lights on their chest. Even though Hailee’s light has gone out she still….and Virgil came in and turned her light back on, still in character. That was a memorable routine. He thinks when they have a season 20 anniversary special, this routine would be on there. Paula said if they represent what aliens are, sign her up—she’ll go there. It was fantastic. It was crazy fun. Jason said he always knew Virgil was crazy, but he didn’t know Hailee was that crazy. If she is this good in street, he is anxious to see how far she will go. He had no idea. Cat tells them both of them are safe.

The group number for Team Stage was choreographed by Jaci Royal and it is about when you need help from people to overcome obstacles. The song chosen was “For My Help” by Hayden Calnin. OH MY GOD!!!! I’m in love. It looked like everything was timed perfectly and at times it took my breath away. I like that new choreographers are on board this year. It has added a different layer of depth to the show. The judges were on their feet.

Team Street is up next. Choreographed by Marty Kudelka (who was a nominee for best choreography in a music video and the 2007 winner VMA for best choreography in Justin Timberlake’s “My Love” video. Twitch said they have to be cooler than a polar bear’s toenails. The song is “Break Ya Neck” by Busta Rhymes. I enjoyed that, but liked Team Stage better.

The Twitter save goes to Ariana from Team Street and Kate from Team Stage. The judges save Asaf from Team Street (that is a mistake—Burim is a much better dancer). From Team Street, the judges save Edson. I think that was the right decision. Moises is a great dancer but Edson is the better of the two.

American Idol Preview

17 12 2013


Live Interactive Q&A Directly Following Screening, Featuring Ryan Seacrest, Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick, Jr., To Stream on and, Starting at 8:30 PM ET/ 5:30 PM PT

Fans Can RSVP to Attend Free Event in their Cities at

Submit Questions for LIVE Q&A Now via Twitter and Facebook using #AskIdol

The fun begins this January as fans in cities across the country are invited to attend an exclusive screening of the new season of AMERICAN IDOL XIII on Tuesday, Jan. 14 at 7:00 PM ET/6:00 PM CT/5:00 PM MT/4:00 PM PT. After the multi-city free screening, there will be an interactive Q&A, featuring iconic AMERICAN IDOL host Ryan Seacrest and superstar judges Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick, Jr.

For IDOL fans at home, the Q&A will be available via a live stream on and This highly anticipated screening event comes one day before the two-night season premiere of AMERICAN IDOL XIII on Wednesday, Jan. 15 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) and Thursday, Jan. 16 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX.

Originating from Royce Hall at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), the premiere episode and LIVE Q&A will be uplinked via television satellite from Los Angeles to venues in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, Boston, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Houston, Detroit, Phoenix, Seattle, Tampa, Minneapolis, Denver, Orlando, Sacramento, St. Louis, Charlotte and Nashville. Space is limited, so hopeful attendees should RSVP now by logging on to and submitting their names and contact information.

Upon conclusion of the free screening, Seacrest will moderate a nationwide interactive LIVE Q&A with the judges. Fans watching the LIVE Q&A at the satellite venues will have the opportunity to submit questions to the panel. For those fans at home, they can submit questions in advance via the AMERICAN IDOL Facebook page ( and via Twitter (@AmericanIdol). Questions also may be submitted the day of the event via Twitter using #AskIdol. The interactive LIVE Q&A will appear in satellite venues, as well as streamed and, beginning at 8:30 PM ET/5:30 PM PT.

The free premiere event will be held as noted below. Fans who would like an opportunity to attend in one of the cities may RSVP now at

Eastern Time

Event begins at 7:00 PM, with the LIVE Q&A starting at 8:30 PM. Doors open at 6:00 PM and all seating is free and first come, first served:

ATLANTA AMC Sugarloaf Mills 18, 5900 Sugarloaf Pkwy., Lawrenceville, GA 30043

BOSTON AMC Framingham 16, 22 Flutie Pass, Framingham, MA 01701

CHARLOTTE AMC Concord Mills 24, 8421 Concord Mills Blvd., Concord, NC 28027

DETROIT AMC Forum 30, 44681 Mound Rd., Sterling Heights, MI 48314

NEW YORK AMC Empire 25, 234 W. 42nd St., New York, NY 10036

ORLANDO AMC Universal Cineplex 20, 6000 Universal Blvd., Orlando, FL 32819

PHILADELPHIA AMC Plymouth 12, 494 Germantown Pike, Plymouth Meeting, PA 19462

TAMPA AMC The Regency 20, 2496 W. Brandon Blvd., Brandon, FL 33511

WASH., D.C. AMC Hoffman Center 22, 206 Swamp Fox Rd., Alexandria, VA 22314

Central Time:

Event begins at 6:00 PM, with the LIVE Q&A starting at 7:30 PM. Doors open at 5:00 PM and all seating is free and first come, first served:

CHICAGO AMC River East 21, 322 E. Illinois St., Chicago, IL 60611

DALLAS AMC Northpark 15, 8687 N. Central Expressway 3000, Dallas, TX 75225

HOUSTON AMC First Colony 24, 3301 Towne Center Blvd. S., Sugarland, TX 77479

MINNEAPOLIS AMC Eden Prairie Mall 18, 8251 Flying Cloud Dr. Eden Prairie, MN 55344

NASHVILLE Theater location to be announced

ST. LOUIS AMC Chesterfield 14, 291 Chesterfield Mall, Chesterfield, MO 63107

Mountain Standard Time:

Event begins at 5:00 PM, with the LIVE Q&A starting at 6:30 PM. Doors open at 4:00 PM and all seating is free and first come, first served:

DENVER AMC Highlands Ranch 24, 103 W. Centennial Blvd., Highlands Ranch, CO 80129

Pacific Time:

Event begins at 4:00 PM, with the LIVE Q&A starting at 5:30 PM. Doors open at 3:00 PM and all seating is free and first come, first served:

LOS ANGELES Royce Hall, UCLA, 340 Royce Dr., Los Angeles, CA 90095

PHOENIX AMC Ahwatukee 24, 4915 East Ray Rd., Phoenix, AZ 85044

SACRAMENTO AMC Showplace Manteca 16, 848 Lifestyle St., Manteca, CA 95337

SEATTLE AMC Pacific Place 11, 600 Pine St., Seattle, WA 98101

Seating at Royce Hall and at all satellite venues is free. Fans will receive an email notification if they have successfully RSVP’d for the event. Fans who have successfully RSVP’d will be added to the guest list and will receive a confirmation email. Please note that seating at the venues is not guaranteed. Availability is on a first-come, first-served basis at each venue, even if you are on the guest list.

(Via Press Release)

So You Think You Can Dance — Salt Lake City auditions

14 06 2012

So You Think You Can Dance, Season 9, Salt Lake Auditions — 2012

Judges Adam Shankman, Mary Murphy and Nigel Lythgoe gave a tutorial about what NOT to do when you are auditioning: No booty shaking; no self-worship (rubbing, touching yourself); and no reaching, with Adam Shankman doing the illustrations. The girls dominated in this city as did ballroom dance, which has been not seen much at all in the other cities.

Who I Liked A LOT

Witney Carson, American Fork, Utah, Cha-Cha/Tango: The girl on FIRE. It was hot and she is only 18 years of age. Her father looked very uncomfortable in the audience as Nigel talked about her sensuality and sexuality within the dance. Mary, for the first time this audition season, put her on the HOT TAMALE TRAIN, and blew out the eardrums of Nigel and Adam. Adam claimed, “I’m a slave for you.” And uses the “F” word in Salt Lake City. She is definitely through to Vegas.

Witney Carson

Gene Lonardo; Las Vegas, Nevada; contemporary: Although I should put him in the Odd-Ball LOT because he came out saying he was going to do the dance of the male praying mantis, it was stunning to watch, and I immediately thought that Sonya Tayeh (choreographer) would love to play the female praying mantis. The routine really made him stand out. He was an average dancer as contemporary styles go, but the fact that he choreographed the dance himself set him apart. Although it did get weird when Gene told Nigel he imagined him as the female praying mantis (because Nigel was fearsome to him). Awkward. He is through to Vegas.

Gene Lonardo, male praying mantis

Lindsay Arnold; Provo, Utah; ballroom Latin: She dances wonderfully. It was a shame her partner was not competing because he deserved a ticket as well). She was through to Vegas.

Lindsay Arnold

Mariah Spears; Phoenix, Arizona; krump: White girls CAN KRUMP! I was not expecting this. When she said she was going to krump, Adam spat out his drink. But she lived up to the hype. She was fabulous. I wished L’il C was in the room judging then. I think she needs to work on the open-mouth look. The anger should come through her movements without the “O” face. She was sent to choreography and then on to Vegas.

Mariah Spears

Murphy Yang; Roy, Utah; contemporary: His family disowned him and moved to California. He was homeless for awhile. I admire him for sticking to his dreams despite his idiot family. He had quite a mixture of styles in his dance. There was a good sense of humor, good musicality. Then he lifted his shirt with “Vegas?” on it and I loved it. He has had no formal training. I bet you if Debbie Allen had been the judge, she would have offered him free lessons at one of her schools. Adam Shankman was on the verge of tears. Murphy was sent to choreography but for this year it was a no to Vegas. Murphy–Keep on refining your technique. You are SO close to getting a ticket to Vegas. Do not give up. I ADMIRE you.

Murphy Yang

Dareian Kujawa; Boulder City, Nevada; contemporary: He, too, had a very rough life. They were very poor and it was a depressing, dark life. He decided to create a roadmap for himself and dancing pulled him out of this dark place. This man is filled with inner strength and it showed in his dance. It was filled with great emotion and great athleticism. He had beautiful lines. Of course he was going to Vegas!

Dareian Kujawa

Leroy Martinez; Sacramento, California; hip-hop. He also has had a rough life, but turning to dance helped him. He is the only one in his family to live a straight life. It was his first audition ever. He works at a doggie day care by day and gives back to the community working with the Peacemakers program, a group who works to establish afterschool programs in the community. There is an article done in a local paper about this group. Please click here to read more about it.  Because of his larger size, one thinks he is going to be unable to do impressive moves. He breaks stereotypes. He was AWESOME. Adam was crying and hesitated to say it, but said it was “fucking awesome.” Of course it was bleeped out. He went on to choreography and it was a no for Vegas, but something inside of me tells me that Adam is going to do something for this young man.

Leroy Martinez

Who I Thought Was Average

Deanna “Dee” Tomasetta; Millbury, MA; contemporary: She was beautiful to watch. I really liked the backbend move she had which showed really excellent control. The one thing that did not match for me was the smile with the song, which then reminded me of Ryan Ramirez. The song she chose was “I Can’t Make You Love Me” by Bonnie Raitt. The song is about unrequited love. But she is smiling the ENTIRE performance. I should have felt angst in there. That is the only reason why she is in the “average” category for me. But the judges loved it and she is through to Vegas.

Deanna “Dee” Tomasetta

Adrian Lee; Los Angeles, California; contemporary: In season 7 he came so close to being in the show, but that was the year they picked the best 10 and had them dance with 10 all-stars. He was not invited. His family became very down on the show after that and he chose not to tell them he was auditioning this time. However, between then and now, season 8 happened–the top 20 best dancers EVER chosen, and his dance looks very amateurish when comparing it to people from last season. He is doing the self-worship moves despite being told that the judges did not want to see that. Mary was crying because the emotion of having to tell him “no” in season 7 came flooding back. He did get a ticket to Vegas and Nigel gave him another ticket for his mother to come along. He has to do better in Vegas or he will be cut.

Adrian Lee

Rachel Applehaus; Denver, Colorado; burlesque jazz: She claims she was shy growing up. She hoped that her dance would make Nigel uncomfortable.  She was hot and sultry but she rolled on the floor too much. Then I started thinking this reminds me of a dancer in a gentleman’s club and I became uncomfortable. There was not enough substance in her routine. Then they said she was doing burlesque jazz (Is that like Anchorman’s jazz flute?) and she is through to choreography and then on to Vegas.

Rachel Applehaus

Odd-Ball LOT

Lynn Gravatt; Portland, Oregon; space dance: The story was being set up as a disaster. She claims that her energy comes from the Pleiades constellation. She has three spirit guides (Divine DeFlame–which is her highest self; they flash Mary Murphy on the frame; then Devil DeFlame (which is her “male” dancer, and of course Nigel is flashed on the screen; the third is Rainbow Light Bright, which is of course Adam). Before Lynn starts, Mary is giggling a lot. Lynn is a former aerospace engineer that has worked on aircraft we will see in 10-15 years. Very intelligent woman. She was not that bad considering she has had no formal training. Being 33, that automatically disqualified her from being part of the show, but the judges were very kind to her.  She left with a wonderful message for people to never give up on their dreams, no matter what their age.

Lynn Gravatt

Johnny Ahn and Whitney Hallam; Orem, Utah; ballroom: This guy is so full of EGO it isn’t funny. And the look on his partner’s face the entire time she is with him is one of contempt. I do not blame her. He should spend less time on watching videos on how to get dates and more time on how to be a good dance partner. There is a 10-year age difference between them. She is unimpressed with his MAN-GO. His ballroom “O” face bothers me. He NEVER looks at his gorgeous partner. The dance is all about him–“Hey look at me–I think I’m hotter than I really am.” They are sent through to choreography but it is a “no” to Vegas for both of them. My advice to Whitney is to get another dance partner quickly and come back next year. I would never pick up the phone and vote for him, so he should just not come back to audition for the show.

If looks could kill….Whitney Hallam and Johnny Ahn

Next week is So You Think You Can Dance Hell Week! I cannot wait.

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 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 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 at The Farm of Beverly Hills


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.


Glicel getting to work on the sign.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Magic Johnson at Staples Center


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.


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.


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).