Sunday, May 25, 2008

See You All In Two Weeks

I should be in bed, I should be resting, but I can't. My luggage is packed and I just have to add a few things. Mi chica is taking me shopping for shoes later on today and a few other last minute things. Maybe a magazine to read while on the plane and something to munch on like peanuts since it has been said that the airline companies are not handing out snacks.

This will be a vacation we would normally wouldn't take, after all my immediate family is all here but my mom's immediate family is all there, and at 75 years old every time she goes to visit she thinks it could be her last time. Thank God she is doing well, her health is fine although she takes a ton of medicine but where she is from is a small town up in the sierras of Guerrero, Mexico and that requires a lot of walking and riding in the worst conditions. I hear that they have made made many improvements and that roads are being built but the last time I went many years ago they didn't exist. From the nearest town to their house it was a 4-hour walk, or three hours on horseback. Walking allowed for us to take the shortcuts while riding the animals had to follow the trails.

Technology as we know it, those things we take for granted such as electricity, refrigerators, even having a bathroom are luxuries. It is still a rough life there. Yet, as poor as they are they seem to survive just fine. What is better to be well off here but full of debt with no way out, or poor there but with peace of mind of not owing to no one although struggling on a day to day basis. Absolutely two different ways of life where either side could envy the other side.

I am indeed excited about this trip, not so much for me but for my mom. I want to try and see what she sees, she is there to see her people, her family, the family that she left so many years ago along with my dad so they could escape the little town and move to the huge city that is Mexico city. Eventually they left Mexico in search of the American dream. Like everything else in life word of mouth lead them to believe that they could give us, their children, a better future if they brought us all here.

Weather it was better or not I'll never know, but without forgetting my origins I have accepted and have learned to love this country as my own and like it here just fine. Thank you very much.

So here I am, I will be going back after 35 years and the excitement is alive. The only drawback in all this is that "mi chica" will not be coming with us. She really wanted to but circumstances didn't permit it and so she will stay behind holding the fort here in Phoenix.

I hope to share as much as I can with you my family and friends that have come to visit and even like this your blog. And I intend to take many, many pictures. You all know how "trigger happy" I can be when it comes to firing the shutter. I am sure that I will find many wonderful places and things to photograph, not to mention people.

So, this is my last post until I come back. Pray that we have a good, safe, and fun trip and I'll see you all in two weeks.

Have a happy and safe Memorial Day weekend.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Mexico Here I Come... Revisited.

And the anticipation mounts. It was 1973 when I left Mexico City, I was only 12 years old and the last one to be brought over here. My parents and my sisters all went back to visit at one time or another but I just never did.

So, comes Monday morning, my mom, my sister, her daughter, and I will be going back to visit some of our friends and relatives. It will be exciting to see aunts and uncles that I haven't seen in almost 35 years.

We were supposed to take this trip last July but due to our passport issue (actually lack of passports is more accurate) we had to cancel the trip even though we had already purchased the plane tickets and all. So here we are, almost a year later, we find ourselves packing the suitcases once again we are ready to go.

Mexico Here I Come -- Last year's post.
Click Here to Read It
.

We couldn't go sooner because my niece was going to school and we needed to wait until she graduated. Well last Thursday she did. She is now officially "Class of 08". No one can take vacation during the month of June where I work but due to the circumstances the are making an exception with me. We leave on Monday and won't be back until Monday June 12. Otherwise I would have lost my tickets.

The air fare turned out to be super expensive. With the cancellation penalties and re booking fees, we have learned a lesson to never book a flight unless we are 100% sure that we'll be able to travel.

As you all know I love to take pictures. Well, I intend to take as many as I possibly can and will be happy to share them with you when I come back. In the meantime don't abandon my blogs, come and visit and even though I won't be posting for two weeks I would still like to see some comments.


Wow, look at how many VW Bug taxis. With gas prices the way they are these days I need one those.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

2008 American Idol


And the winner is...


After an awesome two hour show full of great performances season seven American Idol for 2008 was finally announced. And the big winner by a landslide is:


David Cook

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Grand Finale.

As I expected, last night was a battle of the voices. A showdown that I thought would surpass Ruben vs. Clay but somehow in my humble opinion came up short. The boxing theme with music from "Rocky" fame, Michael Buffer introduction, and Jim Lampley commentaries was innovative. I know some of us liked it while many of you thought of it as "What in the world where they thinking?". Well, I had been predicting a David vs. David showdown and the theme was pretty much appropriate.

What I didn't expect was to hear the "judges" comments to be so one sided. Did David Cook pissed them off before the show? Did they get upset because he wouldn't reprise a song but chose one he had never sang before? How can a song sung by Bono and U2 be a lesser known song. Unless you live under a rock or a deserted island I think it's safe to say we all knew that song. Besides he didn't pick the song, that was Clive's choice for him to sing.

Collective Soul's "The World I know" may be a lesser know song but very popular during the 90's and was perfect for his voice. He would have been stupid to try and change this or U2's song to make them their own. I thought he did just fine and deserved better. It felt like a dejavu of Syesha singing good and being dizzed by the judges.

David A. as expected did good but to me even though I picked him from the beginning to take the whole thing didn't convince me that he can be a powerhouse celebrity and will sell millions of records. His choices were safe and very popular, specially among people my age but if you must know in the end my fingers must have logged over 300 votes for contestant #1.

I asked a lot of different people at work who they think will win tonight and they all agree David Cook will. I predicted a very tight race, I just hope Ryan doesn't mess up like he did when he announced season's 2 winner. I know how I voted, I am really curious to see how the rest of America voted. In the end it's inevitable, David will win.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

David vs David


If the weather in Phoenix is any indication of tonight's show, then it's going to be a HOT ONE tonight!

Well, this is it folks the most anticipated showdown in a while. David vs David, crooner vs rocker. These are two individuals with a super strong fan base each. This should be a tight if not the tightest race in American Idol's history.

Tonight it shouldn't matter who goes first or last, the standard has been previously set by both Davids through out the competition, it has been said that David Archuleta won the coin toss and elected to go second, now historically with the exception of Ruben all the winners have been second but I say this again tonight it won't matter, first or second the winner will be the one that picks the best songs and delivers the best renditions. It will be a duel of voices.

According to idolbloglive.com these are some of the songs that have already been picked for tonight. Remember that tonight should be "Producer's Pick", "Song Reprise", and "Contest winning song". Last week the spoilers were not 100% accurate, so don't hold me to the following:

David Archuleta (2/3)
"Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me" (Clive's Choice)
"Imagine" (David's Pick)

David Cook (1/3)
"I Still Haven't Found What I’m Looking For" (David's Pick)

Any last thoughts, and or comments?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Thalia's "Quinceanera"

Thalia's "Quinceanera" in Pictures



This is my niece Thalia. Doesn't she look beautiful with her "Quinceanera" dress. This is a once in a lifetime celebration for our girls. As the priest put it, it's part of our heritage and part of our Hispanic soul.


This is me and my youngest daughter Nikki in one of those self portrait pictures she is so good at taking.


This is a very special picture as our complete clan is here in this image posing with Thalia.


Four generations -- From left to right: My youngest granddaughter Arielle, my daughter Michelle, my mom, and I


Now tell me this isn't cute. These are my grandkids "Ducky" and Allayna.


The three older grandkids.


My lovely "chica" and I posing with Thalia.


Everyone in this picture is part of my family, except maybe that little girl in green. I could have pointed to the other side and the result would have been the same. We are a huge family.


This is my son and his lovely wife.


My beautiful daughter Nikki and her husband.


My beautiful daughter Michelle and her husband.

CLICK HERE!
For an editorial to this pictorial

Friday, May 16, 2008

Quiceanera

Tonight we leave for the Los Angeles area, West Covina to be more exact. My sister's younger daughter will have her "Quinceanera" celebration this weekend. As always most of the family will make the 5 to 6 hour trip depending on who's driving if you know what I mean.

A "Quinceanera" to us is a very important celebration, only second to a wedding. Lot's of money is thrown into this event (no, nothing like the distorted idea of a party shown in the MTV shows). From the very expensive dresses to the hairdos and limos, we try to make this the most memorable event in a girl's life within reasonable possibilities although sometimes we over do it a bit and get ourselves in debt.

Mi chica and I will be taking my daughter, her husband, and their three kids. The youngest one is only about a month and a half old so it just may be an "interesting" trip. We will be back in Phoenix on Sunday so it's going to be a "flash" trip.

We should have a wonderful time, with all the food and dance our parties are always very enjoyable and fun. Hopefully I'll be able to share some pictures next week.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

AI and Mexico City

Just as I thought, no surprises in the elimination show the David vs. David showdown was inevitable. It's always emotional to see how their hometowns receive them and grant them the key to the city or declare a day in their honor.

If this is not a talent contest but a popularity contest then it will be a tight race, it they decide to turn it into a talent contest it too will be a tight race. I truly believe that both Davids have a huge fan base and the margin will actually be very slim. Nothing like last year's one sided show.

And so we wait for next week's final competition show and grand finale. In the meantime the family and I will be taking our first road trip of the year to California as the last in a bouquet of nieces turns 15 and will be having her "QuinceaƱera" celebration.

Unfortunately it will be a flash trip. We will be leaving Friday night and coming back on Sunday. We won't have a chance to go anywhere but to the Mass and the party. We want to be back in Phoenix early so that we can rest as we all have to work early on Monday.

Hopefully we will get together next Wednesday for the American Idol grand finale. The past two years we had a "cafesito con pan dulce" gathering at my house. That's the one episode of the year that we all try to watch it at together and at the same time, ever since DVR was invented we all watch it at different times.

Some of you my long time friends may remember last year's posts on our trip to Mexico that had to be cancelled and therefore postponed because we didn't have our passports ready. Well here we are a year later, we will try again and I will be leaving on Monday the 26th.

Anyway, more on the trip at a later post or posts sometime next week.

Go Syesha, Go!


This Bellagio style fountains dance up and down to the rhythm of the music. And when it's hot, the over spray fees so good.

Yesterday I saw the last desperate attempt from the judges to manipulate the viewers votes. While Randy sided with David A. and Simon with David C. and even turned it into a feud. Paula was clear to let Syesha know this is the end of the road for her. The funny thing is that I got the most entertainment from watching Syesha perform. David A. just as I predicted was boring, and David C. was not a 100% there.

I don't think we'll get any surprises, but I must admit I am curious to see how things go tonight.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Top Three


Well, it seems the country is pretty much divided. Without counting Syesha out as she has consistently come up from behind and could still surprise us let just for a minute assume that next week it will be a David vs. David showdown.

One half is siding with David Archuleta, with his consistency and his charm. Many of us elected him to be the next American Idol way back during the tryouts. David has a great voice and uses it wisely. He picks songs that fit his voice but not necessarily his age. He probably appeals to both male and female, old and young. His cons have been his age as many think he is just too young to hold the coveted title, and his father, whom somehow has been portrayed as "The Dad From Hell". We really can't hold him accountable for either of those two.

And then there's David Cook. He was not the favorite from the beginning but week after week his performances won many fans. He took huge risks by rearranging known songs to suit his style and what could have been disastrous, turned out to be one hit after another. Many site that it's time that a "Rocker" wins the competition and feel that he will have more success after Idol. He definitely has the "seƱoritas" vote, and possibly the rockers vote, but does he have the male vote? Regardless, he has a huge fan base that will do anything and everything in their power to crown him the next American Idol.

So, tonight should be a nice show. I believe they all go home and then they get to perform three songs. Producers choice, judges choice, and their own choice. Over at Idolblog.com some of the songs had been listed but not all, and they are as follows.

David Cook's Choices 2/3
"First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" by Roberta Flack (Judges Pick - Simon)
"The World I Know" by Collective Soul (His Pick)

Syesha Mercado's Choices 1/3
"If I Ain’t Got You" by Alicia Keys (Judges Pick - Randy)

David Archuleta's Choices 3/3
"So It Goes" By Billy Joel (Judges Pick - Paula)
"Longer" by Dan Fogelberg (Producers Picks)
"With You" by Chris Brown (His Pick)

So, seat back and enjoy the show.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Speed Racer



Mi chica and I took our grandson to watch "Speed Racer". The movie in our eyes was great but then again I was prepared for disappointment. I grew up watching the series when I was a kid so it was obvious that I had a great interest in watching the movie.

It started a little slow as they had to build the story. I believe "Speed Racer" has been playing on and off on some obscure channels so many people are not familiar with it. Some time ago the theme song was revived by some group in "rave format and many people found out about Speed Racer thanks to it."

The races were totally fake as was the violence which made it OK for younger viewers. The cars "drift" through the elevated tracks complete with corkscrews, loops, and ramps all made of metal and just like in the original series the cars have a plethora of offensive and defensive devices.

The movie is mostly computer animation, the backgrounds are awesome and the action is fun to watch. It has a couple of good laughs thanks to Speed's little brother and his inseparable pet.

If you liked the mixture of human acting and computer animation in the old movie "Tron" or even better in "Lawnmower Man" then you'll like this movie. If you are around my age and remember the original series, you may like the movie but if you are lucky enough to have a grandchild or a son to go with you and you see the movie through his/her eyes, then you'll really enjoy the movie.


My grandson cheered and clapped as he pleased throughout the whole movie which was fine with me, grandma on the other hand shhhed him once or twice, but in the end we were all cheering and clapping for Speed to win the race. In the end we even got up from our seats and raised our hands in victory. I know, I know sounds lame but what's a granpa and a grandma to do.

If you think we were loud, you should have seen the Asian lady sitting behind us with her kids, you would have sword the whole thing was real, it was obvious they also enjoyed it. And then there was a teenager in front of us wearing a Speed Racer helmet.


Now, if you don't know who Speed Racer is, or grew up watching the series and find yourself going to watch it, you may be disappointed, and if you take your date with you, then you may even be in trouble.

Mother's Day


Mother's day sure is a nice day to celebrate. To take one day of the year aside and dedicate it to the moms in our lives is great but I believe that everyday of the year should be a mother's day.

Sure us Fathers are also important but I'll be the first to admit that us Fathers are not even close to being in the same league Mothers are. Moms beat us in every sense of the word hands down.

I for one have no idea how my mom, a woman of little schooling and little education has made so much more than we will ever do. You'll figure that a 75 year old woman would now depend a lot on her kids while in reality it's the other way around. My father was great but a lot of his greatness was due to the fact that he had my mom behind him every step of the way.

Again, I don't think I am in the same league my dad and mom were,but with the aid of "mi chica" we are surviving just fine.

So it is with the utmost respect and admiration to the girls in my life that I write this post in hopes that not just today but every day of the year they somehow get the feeling that Mother's Day is an everyday affair. So to my mom, my wife, and two daughters. Along with my four sisters and daughter in law and all of you my friends out there in blogland that are moms I wish you all have a fantastic Mother's Day.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Pizza Time


One of the Account Executives at work wanted to thank us, the support group for all of our help and for all we do for him. He sponsored a pizza lunch for the entire support group all 60 or so of us.

Normally I am not a big pizza eater, actually for a long time I used to hate pizza but eventually I acquired the taste for it. However after only one slice I am done unless... It is pineapple pizza. I can honestly have at least half a full size pizza just for me. If you ask me pineapple pizza is one of the greatest inventions ever.

So, being that it was a company sponsored event, I refrained myself from eating half a pizza and only ate four slices. Oh wait, four slices is half a pizza.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

TV Times


This is Jobing.com Arena, home of the Phoenix Coyotes and site for the first stop on the American Idol tour this year.

It couldn't have been the other way. Next week will only be a formality, a show with nine songs sung by three idols and unless Syesha do something super extraordinary we all know that next week is just a warm up for the season's grand finale David vs. David. Jason was just getting too weird for me but weather I like it or not this guy has a huge following... go figure!

I am hooked on "Hell's Kitchen". This show is funny but scary to think that when you eat at a restaurant the cooks can be anything like what it's been highlighted in the show. The premise of the show is that the guys compete against the girls and each show there's obviously an elimination. Chef Ramsey is the star of the show but the entertainment comes from the chef hopefuls. In Tuesday's episode the guy that got nominated to be taken out of the show by his team mates was safe and asked to be allowed to be a part of the "right team" meaning the girl team. Chef Ramsey granted his wish and the girls are in awe and not happy at all. Should be funny next week.

Last week while at my mom's I was surfing the channels when I came accross "The Ultimate Coyote Ugly Search", what I didn't know is that they were showing the complete season. So out of ten Traveling Coyote hopefuls I was able to watch the last seven. Sometimes it's cool to just catch the whole season in one night.


And on "Can You Duet" they are still in the process of elimination to choose the top ten duos. It is definitely going to be an OK show. I enjoy Country Music so I know I'll like it. Some of the duos are already showing some major talent. I am really looking forward for the real competition to begin.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Good Bye Jason

With such a huge Rock ''n' Roll library I was really disappointed at some of the song choices last night. As I had predicted Jason Castro was a total disaster, I will be really disappointed and not to mention upset if he advances. "I shot the Sheriff and Mr. Tambourine Man" totally wrong for a competition of AI's caliber.

David Cook was good but unfortunately what I thought for sure would be his night got stolen by little David. David Archuleta has been catching a lot of criticism because he is good and he is young. Comments like "He's sings good but he is forgettable" or "He sings good but everything he sings sounds the same" or "He is too young, he won't sound the same as his voice matures" Now what kindda crap is that? He has been consistently good and deserves to win, but I am all for a no holds barred showdown between him and David Cook.

It seem that my wish of Syesha getting the number three spot will be a reality, unless there's a huge vote discrepancy. There is just no way Jason will advance. I knew that no matter what Syesha did she would be dizzed. Last night was no exception, she tried to stay strong and take criticism in good stride but it just proved to be too much.

What would you do if week after week, you are crushed by the judges although saved by the voters? After Randy's crappy comments and Paula's standing ovation followed by Simon's assurance that her performance was good as he sided with Paula, she could no longer hold it all in and her emotions got the best of her. Her crying in my opinion was 100% justified. She deserves better. I don't think she has what it takes to overtake any of the two Davids but a third place is a great place to be. And for the record in my opinion her take on "Change is Gonna Come" was actually pretty awesome.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Westgate and Top Four





I decided to go back to Westgate City Walk a year later. Superbowl is now history but the legacy and the beauty of Westgate remains. Margaritaville is now open for business as are a plethora of restaurants and bars. This place is great, if are ever in the Phoenix/Glendale area this is a must visit place.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


And so tonight music that shaped Rock 'n' Roll. Tonight the top four will have the opportunity to rock as they pick songs from a huge music library. I imagine they'll sing two songs, I wonder if they'll do a fast rock and and slow rock. David Archuleta is more of a crooner than a rocker, I am very interested in hearing what he'll sing. Syesha (my favorite to be "numero tres") is very versatile, I think she'll come up with something good. David Cook will be cookin' as he'll be right at home this week. Jason, I really couldn't care less what he sings. Jason should have been out already and the other three contestants will out sing him.

No matter what, it should be a good week, after all who doesn't like Rock 'n' Roll. My prediction for tonight is that the judges will once again hate Syesha and will label her as forgettable, they will praise Jason even if he sounds crappy, and will heavily lean towards David Cook this week.

Many polls still have David Archuleta as the heavy favorite. But rest assured that the producers and record label moguls want David Cook to be the winner. I am really looking forward to the David vs. David finale.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Country Music

As many of you know by now I love music, any kind of music, but I enjoy certain styles better than others. For quite a while I have been into Country Music. My love for Country Music is not new, it starter back when I was a teenager and groups such as Alabama and The Oakridge Boys were hot tickets or Willie Nelson and The Judds were playing on the radio daily.

Back during the Disco era there was a deviation of music and fashion brought by a movie with John Travolta. "Urban Cowboy" was a well received movie and most of us at the Disco decided dressing up like cowboys with "John Wayne" shirts and baggy pants and wearing cowboy boots and hats was the trend.

To me "Urban Cowboy" brought County Music to those of us that otherwise would have never given it the chance. In Anaheim, California the famous bar "Gilley's" opened up. Unfortunately for me, "Gilley's" was for people 21 years old and over, so I could never go, but I heard it was such a fun place complete with a mechanical bull and nothing but Country Music.

I have listened to many styles of music since then but for the past few years I find myself listening to more Country Music than any other kind, including Spanish Music. And Mickey Gilley's classic songs are among my favorites. Here I am singing on of these classics.


Some time ago I highlighted "I've been watching you" by Rodney Atkins. This is a song that I thought is what parenting is all about. If you missed it, read that post here.
Then a couple of months ago, I highlighted "You Find Out Who Your Friends Are" by Tracy Lawrence. This song is about friendship and finding out who your friends are. If you missed it, read that post here.
So, today I want to highlight yet another song about growing up and parenting too. This is a new song and currently a favorite of mine. It's called "You Gonna Miss This" by Trace Adkins. Let me know what you think about it.


She was staring out the window of that SUV
Complaning, saying "I can't wait to turn 18"
She said "I'll make my own money, and I'll make my own rules"
Mamma put the car in park out there in front of the school
Then she kissed her head and said "I was just like you"

You're gonna miss this
You're gonna want this back
You're gonna wish these days hadn't gone by so fast
These are some good times
So take a good look around
You may not know it now
But you're gonna miss this

Before she knows it she's a brand new bride
In a one-bedroom apartment, and her daddy stops by
He tells her "It's a nice place"
She says "It'll do for now"
Starts talking about babies and buying a house
Daddy shakes his head and says "Baby, just slow down"

Cause you're gonna miss this
You're gonna want this back
You're gonna wish these days hadn't gone by so fast
These are some good times
So take a good look around
You may not know it now
But you're gonna miss this

Five years later there's a plumber workin' on the water heater
Dog's barkin', phone's ringin'
One kid's cryin', one kid's screamin'
She keeps apologizin'
He says "They don't bother me.
I've got 2 babies of my own.
One's 36, one's 23.
Huh, it's hard to believe, but ...

You're gonna miss this
You're gonna want this back
You're gonna wish these days hadn't gone by so fast
These are some good times
So take a good look around
You may not know it now
But you're gonna miss this"

Friday, May 02, 2008

Circus Circus


what is better that any American Idol performance past, present, and future? Well, it you must know it was the First Graders performance of John Jacobsons and John Higgins' "Circus Circus".

Last Saturday when my granddaughters were here for their dad's 30th birthday celebration they told me they would be taking part in the school show and that they wanted me to attend.


Brianna and Tallynna


Last Wednesday as I was taking my mom to the market my phone rings and it was my granddaughter Brianna, she was calling me to remind me that the show would be the next day and to make sure that I be there by 6:00 p.m. Even though the show wouldn't start until 6:30 p.m. she just wanted us to have front row seats, and we did.

Well, Brianna and Tallynna gave the performance of their lives. I was amazed at how well they learned their lines and how well they acted their parts in the musical. First they kids sang "When The Circus Comes To Town" then a series of ring announcers said their lines. Tallynna happened to be announcer #6.



Tallynna was announcer #6

Then another fun song "Who Wants to Be the Ring Master" was sung by the whole class, followed by "The Mane Event". Then came announcer #14 better known to me as Brianna.



The funny thing is that I told "mi chica" Brianna is announcer #14. She kept saying these names I didn't know so I looked and I say "Here see, she is... Oh wait she is not announcer #14, but another announcer #14. Why in the heck didn't they just said she was announcer #15... Teachers!


Three more songs followed "Clowning Around, Sad Clown, and to close the show When the Circus Comes to Town".

To me there's nothing better than to go see my grand kids take part in such an event. I don't need a Randy, Paula, or Simon to tell me these kids have potential and that to them the sky is the limit.

And to end this post here's a treat from my granddaugher Brianna, she can sing "Bad Day" pretty good, but I doubt she has many of those herself. Please forgive the picture of me on the bike, I couldn't change it.

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