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The Steve WenPetren Project, Parts 7 and 8

For those who missed it, check out Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5 and Part 6 of my series on how to stop being a terrible golfer.

So where has my golf blog been the past two weeks? I can ask the same thing about my golf game, which decided to abandon a couple of weekends ago as I shot a crowd-pleasing 117 which included at least a dozen penalty strokes and a few missing sleeves of golf balls. The one positive to that 117, and really when you shoot a 117, it’s important to find that silver lining, was that I didn’t have a single three-putt until the 18th and final hole.

And that in essence is part of the true beauty of the game, it’s unpredictability. They say in football, any team can win on any given Sunday, but in golf, you can shoot a 117 on any given Sunday (or Saturday in this case). Heck, on any given Sunday, a cigar smoking, over-40 Irishman can win the British Open for his first major championship. But I could just as easily shoot a 97 the next time I play that course, as easily as I shot that terrible triple-digit score. So while it was easily the worst scoring round I’ve had since starting lessons, it was also the best putting round I’ve had since starting lessons. Ironically, putting hasn’t been covered yet in my lessons, so I’m self-taught for the time being.

But thank you to readers Kevin Low and John Sheeler for inviting me out for a fun time, even if I did a fantastic job of embarrassing myself. I will have a much better showing next time out, I can guarantee that since it couldn’t get any worse.

LESSON #7 – IF THE CLUB DON’T FIT, YOU MUST ACQUIT

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The Steve WenPetren Project, Part 6

For those who missed it, check out Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5 of my series on how to stop being a terrible golfer.

Before delving into last week’s lesson, let me enlighten you with a story.  Hours before my lesson, I left work early to play 18 holes of golf at Herndon Centennial with a co-worker.  It’s not the most challenging of courses, but when you’ve got a “work-in-progress” golf game, these courses are appreciated.  After opening with a devastating triple-bogey, I hit a nice 3-iron off the 2nd tee, a short par-4, right into the middle of the fairway, about 145 yards away.

At this point, there was a foursome ahead of us on the green, which consisted of a guy so old he might have been around when golf was invented, and a teenager who obviously had studied my original tapes on how to swing a golf club prior to my lessons.  They signaled for me and my buddy to play thru, so we took them up on that.  Knowing that all four of them were watching added a little extra pressure to the shot.  If I flubbed it, which I’m still prone to doing occasionally, will they re-think letting us play through?  Will the old man beat me over the head with his putter and call me a whippersnapper?  Long story short, I hit a perfect 7-iron to within four feet of the hole!  From there it was a matter of making a knee-knocker of a putt, which felt like it took forever to go from off my putter to the hole, but sure enough it made it then and into the cup for my first birdie in over three years!!!

It was my only birdie of the day (although I did lip out for birdie on the next hole, a par-5), but it didn’t matter, because I felt alive on the course the rest of the day and knew that Steve’s lessons were really doing the trick.  Thankfully I didn’t get too arrogant and think I was ready to turn pro and showed up for my lesson later that day with Steve.

LESSON #6 – ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT

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SAS Movie Review – Bad Teacher

SAS = Short Attention Span – basically if you’re like me, you don’t want to read a 3 page review of a movie that’s filled with dictionary look-up words and talks in-depth about the subtle nuances and how they correlate to post-modern, neo-classical, Machiavellian, or whatever random crap that was probably taught to me in school years ago, but has since been replaced with useless knowledge about things that would only help me in a People magazine crossword puzzle.

The point is, I will only write a simple review, nothing more than a page, and nothing that will ruin any aspect of the movie (I hope). So enjoy.

BAD TEACHER

I’m not a fan of Cameron Diaz, in fact it’s very hard to look at her stretched out, over-tanned face over the course of 90+ minutes.  That being said, this was easily her most enjoyable role in well over a decade.  Seriously, not since Y2K did she have any roles where she contributed to a good movie she was in (I’ll argue all day that she was not the best option in Vanilla Sky or Gangs of New York).  But Bad Teacher was simply put, a funny script, solid acting and the first time I didn’t mind that old face of hers since Any Given Sunday (1999).

On the heels of Bridesmaids, which I have been singled out as the only person in America that didn’t think the movie was funny, this was a refreshing comedy that didn’t necessarily rely on toilet humor to get the laughs across.  A good comedy doesn’t go for the home run of over-the-top or gross out jokes and then sits back the rest of the film and get sappy, but instead should keep you laughing throughout, even if it’s not Ben Stiller zippering his beans above the franks.  And that’s what you’ll get for 90+ minutes with Bad Teacher, solid laughs throughout.

Although Diaz did a stellar job in keeping the movie together throughout, the supporting cast might have been the true stars.  Jason Segel surprisingly continues his run of being a funny leading man (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, I Love You Man) and I wouldn’t be shocked if he is this decade’s Vince Vaughn, although I’m not sure if that’s a compliment or not.  Justin Timberlake’s sensitive character was just goofy enough where it was believable verging on ridiculous and with his previous roles in Alpha Dog and The Social Network, he’s proving that he could possibly challenge Will Smith for best singer/actor of our generation.  And little unknown Lucy Punch (terrible stage name), holds her own as the “good teacher” to Cameron Diaz’ title character.

The movie is funny, but this face, isn't.

Throw in a couple of short funny cameos from Eric Stonestreet (Cameron from Modern Family) and Thomas Lennon (Lt. Dangle from Reno 911) and Bad Teacher becomes a well-rounded comedy that may not ultimately have the same appeal as Bridesmaids or The Hangover, but isn’t a bad way to spend a night out at the movies.

GRADE: B+

Special thanks to AMC Theaters for sponsoring this review. If you’re going to the movies, I recommend AMC Theaters, they serve beer there. Just kidding, they don’t, but they’re still a pretty cool and comfortable place to watch a movie.  Actually some theaters do sell beer now, so go to those first, but if you don’t have any in your area, a regular AMC will do just fine.

The Steve WenPetren Project, Part 5

For those who missed it, check out Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4 of my series on how to stop being a terrible golfer.

As we reach the halfway point of my lessons, I think there’s two essential things that I’ve taken from this whole process.  First and most important, is my new-found love of this game.  Prior to my lessons with Steve, golf was an expensive recreational activity that I played sparingly whenever I had some free time and the weather was nice.  But now, my mentality is to get out whenever possible, wherever possible, for however much possible, and in whatever weather conditions.  I’m proud to call myself, at the very least, a weekend golfer now (and the occasional mid-week golfer).

The second essential thing I’ve noticed is how I can actually (finally) become frustrated with this game.  Again, prior to lessons, golf was purely recreational and I was just happy to be swinging a club as opposed to doing yard work or sitting through some terrible chick flick (ok, who am I kidding, I love terrible chick flicks).   Now though I actually have some sort of expectation when at the driving range or on the course.  It’s no longer only about “just happy to be here” syndrome, now it’s about that AND trying to improve on every swing.  Interesting dilemma, curious to see how my mental approach to the game progresses, but just in case, I have a slew of f-, s- and c- words in my arsenal waiting to be yelled.

LESSON #5 – HIPS DON’T LIE

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The Steve WenPetren Project, Part 4

For those who missed it, check out Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of my series on how to stop being a terrible golfer.

After the third lesson, I felt discouraged. Nothing to do with Steve’s teachings, but just the mental block I had given myself and my inability to hit a ball straight again. Thanks to a few visits to the driving range and a round of golf, I felt a little more confident going into the fourth lesson. But since all the confidence in the world isn’t necessarily going to give me the physical ability to hit a golf ball correctly, now I was slightly apprehensive yet anxious to show Steve if practice really does make perfect (or at least something better than awful).

Sure enough, it does! My hands were turning over, ball was going straight, and my 7-iron was going a solid 150 on most shots. Even my pitching wedge, a club I have ever rarely swung at full, as I’ve always chose to use it as more of a short half-swing wedge, I was hitting a clean 110 yards on most swings. Steve was so impressed that he suggested I try to qualify for the U.S. Open this week, ok, he wasn’t that impressed as this is what I should have been doing during last week’s debacle of a lesson, but because I had improved greatly from the previous week, he left it up to me what I wanted to learn next.

LESSON #4 – ENTER SANDMAN

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The Steve WenPetren Project, Part 3

For those who missed it, check out Part 1 and Part 2 of my series on how to stop being a terrible golfer.

After last week’s somewhat successful lesson (I finally turned my hands over!), I was very anxious to see what this next lesson would have in store.  Especially since I was starting to get the swagger of Chi ChiRodriguez in my game.  Actually that’s not entirely true, but I did spend part of the week practicing Chi Chi’s legendary club/sword swing.

Wrong type of golf swing to be working on.

Unfortunately, although it was my homework, I was only able to get out to the driving range once in between lessons.  Had mixed results, the first ball was beautifully struck, just as I left off from last week’s lesson.  After that, the next 44 balls were pretty much inconsistently all over the place, including one that may have landed behind me somehow.  Hopefully this wouldn’t cause any roadblocks in my (slow but steadily) improving golf swing…

LESSON #3 – ????

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American Idol Recap – Finals

Hope you like country, because that’s all you’re getting tonight. Unless you count some random performance by Taio Cruz mixed in between the finalist’s performances. That was strange.

ROUND ONE (Finalist Choice)

Scotty McCreery – (“Gone” by Montgomery Gentry) – liked it the first time he performed, liked it again tonight.  Showed a natural stage presence here, bodes well for touring.   GRADE:  A-

Lauren Alaina – (“Flat On the Floor” by Carrie Underwood) – kind of an unfair sympathy advantage that they pointed out before the show that Lauren blew out one of her vocal chords.  Even if that’s true, kudos to her for being able to get thru this tough song and showing very little side effects of it.  GRADE:  A-

ROUND TWO (Idol’s Idols Choice – George Strait picks for Scotty, Carrie Underwood picks for Lauren)

Scotty – (“Check Yes Or No” by George Strait) – kind of a wimpy song choice for a finale, didn’t really make me want to reach for the phone and vote.  Then again, I rarely vote and opt only to criticize.  GRADE:  B-

Lauren – (“Maybe It Was Memphis” by Pam Tillis) – see Scotty’s review.  This was just a little too much for Lauren and came across as very breathy.  GRADE:  C+

ROUND THREE (Original Song)

Scotty – (“I Love You This Big” by Scotty McCreery) – not too shabby especially considering how awful the original songs have been over the years (Taylor Hicks’ “Do I Make You Proud”, Kris Allen’s “No Boundaries”, Jordin Sparks’ “This Is My Now” etc).  GRADE:  B

Lauen – (“Like My Mother Does” by Lauren Alaina) – very corny lyrics, but probably a perfect fit for Lauren and her journey since her mom has been by her side the whole time.  Nice touch with her going into the crowd to hug her while singing, between that and the blown vocal chords, the deck has been stacked in her favor tonight.  GRADE:  B+

OVERALL THOUGHTS

Way too close to call, as these two have been practically neck and neck all season.  Going into tonight I would have guessed that Scotty takes the title since a male country artist has yet to win, but after seeing how much Idol producers favored Lauren tonight and that there’s been three straight male winners (David Cook, Kris Allen, Lee “who?” DeWyze), I’m making one final prediction for this season.

PREDICTED WINNER: PIA TOSCANO!!!!!   Just kidding – Lauren Alaina (but I think Scotty has the better career)