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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)


The Steve WenPetren Project, Part 2

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

Last week, I showed tremendous consistency in not being able to hit a single ball far or straight, so the good news is, there’s no where else for me to go but up as I prepare for my second lesson with Steve. In between the first two lessons, I did play 18 holes of golf at Reston National, not well, but at least I showed up. More importantly, I spent the week trying to grasp my practice grip (now named “Black Magic”) to the point where it felt comfortable and natural. I’ve already told Steve he’s not getting “Black Magic” back for a while, as I plan on traveling with it and taking pictures with it as we’ve formed a special bond.

I was very eager for lesson #2, as not having ever taken lessons before I was curious to see how the transition would go from what was learned last week into this week. Steve told me to warm up and hit some balls, and then after me taking at least a full minute in between swings, Steve told me that it’s only an hour-long lesson and that I should just hit balls to get loosened up and not as if I was trying to win the Masters on every shot.

So I got loose by hitting everything to the left as usual, which segued nicely into this week’s lesson…

LESSON #2 – Release Some Tension

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American Idol Recap – Top 3

Quick feedback tonight….

ROUND ONE

Scotty McCreery – (“Amazed” by Lonestar) – solid opener, good to see Scotty push his vocal limits some.  GRADE:  B+

Lauren Alaina – (“Wild One” by Faith Hill) – kind of a boring choice, really wasn’t anything we haven’t already seen from her before.  GRADE:  C+

Haley Reinhart – (“What Is and What Should Never Be” by Led Zeppelin) – hands down my favorite performance of the entire season, and not just b/c she fell during it, this was perfect and even a sweet moment having with her getting to sing while her dad played guitar on-stage.  GRADE:  A+

ROUND TWO

Scotty – (“Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not ” by Thompson Square) – is Thompson Square like a modern day Thompson Twins?  What ever happened to Leah Thompson?  I miss Howard the Duck.  Anyway, this was alright, probably sounds better as a duet, good to see Scotty have fun up there.   GRADE:  B-

Lauren – (“If I Die Young” by The Band Perry) – nothing special, nothing terrible.  Forgettable is probably the best way to describe it, especially since I’ve forgotten how this went.   GRADE:  C+

Haley – (“Rhiannon” by Fleetwood Mac) – love classic rock, but not a Fleetwood Mac fan.  Really enjoyed the soft beginning but it turned sour once the beat picked up, and just didn’t work on an Idol stage.  Plus the wind and smoke machine was a bit distracting.   GRADE:  C

ROUND THREE

Scotty – (“She Believes In Me” by Kenny Rogers) – used to love listening to this on my The Gambler cassette tape.  One of Scotty’s best of the season, always a sucker for a song with an orchestra playing in the background.  GRADE:  A-

Lauren – (“I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack) – Lauren’s best moment since her first moment when she sang with Steven Tyler during her auditions.  Watching her sing, made me root for her to be the eventual winner as she’s really what this competition is about.  GRADE:  A

Haley – (“You Oughta Know” by Alanis Morissette) – cool song choice, but tough for this competition, and probably need to go back and watch again to get the full feel for it.  Funny to hear her have to change the lyric from “will she go down on you in a theater” to “will she go with you to the theater.”  GRADE:  B

PREDICTION:  As much as I believe Haley had not only the best performance of the night, and the season, I think the finals are best suited for a Scotty/Lauren country showdown.  Lauren’s final song definitely put her into the finals and since there’s only been one all-girl final (Season 3’s boring Fantasia vs. Diana DiGarmo showdown), I think Scotty is in as well.

The Steve WenPetren Project

I suck at golf. That could very well be the title of my memoirs, but the actuality is that I’m taking the first step and admitting I have a problem in hopes of eventually not being the worst golfer on the course whenever I’m playing.

I do have some moments of glory on a golf course, and I still subscribe to the belief that you need just one good shot on the first nine and second nine holes to have a successful day, but when it’s one good shot, mixed in with 60 bad shots, it can become frustrating after a while. And while being outdoors in nice weather, driving a golf cart, having a few adult beverages (is it ok to drink and drive on a golf course?) and the occasional cigar is a great way to spend a few hours, it’s time for me to expand my skill set, or in this case, have a skill set.

Sadly, I think Charles Barkley has a better golf swing than me at this point.

Thankfully that’s where my buddy Steve WenPetren comes in. Steve is the new Director of Instruction at Woody’s Golf Range in Herndon, VA, and prior to that he spent over six years as the head golf pro at Sterling Golf Club. He’s also a way better golfer than I’ll ever be, but together, we’re going to attempt to work some magic and make me a respectable golfer. For ten weeks, once a week, I’ll be taking lessons from Steve and writing about the results here, and hopefully come 10 weeks from now, I’ll be a positive success story thanks to Steve’s tutelage.

LESSON #1 – Grip It But Don’t Rip It

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American Idol Recap – Final Four

Sorry for the disappearing act the past couple of weeks, but let’s chalk it up to me protesting writing about Idol while Jacob Lusk was still being voted for.  Seriously, I can not recall a worse contestant to have made the final five in the history of this show, unless you want to count Justin Guarini, Treynce, George Huff, Blake Lewis and Lee Dewyze.

But outside of Pia not being here (ahhh Pia), it’s safe to say that America has done a solid job of voting this year.  I even had no problem with the Casey elimination as really his act wore thin.

Tonight each contestant get two songs, the first being a “song of inspiration” which probably rules out anything by the Spice Girls or Chumbawumba.  Nice little video montage to show the importance of making the Top 3 and the chance to go home, although to be fair whoever gets eliminated this week also gets to go home, but it won’t be as warm a reception.

James Durbin – (“Don’t Stop Believin” by Journey) – no more Jacob on this show and a contestant singing a song from my all-time favorite band.  Unfortunately James is no Steve Perry, and this comes off as little bit too High School Musical for me, which I don’t really know what that means since I’ve never seen HSM, but I imagine it would sound like this.  Sadly for James, I’m not believin’ in his chances to win this competition although the judges have already determined him the winner.

GRADE:  C+

Haley Reinhart – (“Earth Song” by Michael Jackson) – am I a bad American if I don’t know this song?  I like the lyrics and the message, but unfortunately I didn’t like Haley singing it.  She’s has been more on fire than Andre Rison’ house the past month, but this was a major step backwards and brought back all her growling/screaming that I didn’t like at the beginning of this season.  Judges continue their love for James by telling Haley she wasn’t as good as him.  And Steven Tyler continues to be useless as he refuses to give anyone negative feedback.

GRADE:  C-

Scotty McCreery – (“Where Were You” by Alan Jackson) – I’m not sure how I feel about Scotty doing a song about 9/11 considering he was probably in diapers back then.  But considering the current events of a certain someone’s death, this was a very shrewd song choice.  The only thing missing was a giant flag dropping down behind him at the end of the song and a USA chant, which could have easily been fixed if Hacksaw Jim Duggan was an Idol contestant.  All in all, perfect song choice, and perfect execution for Scotty, who is easily the contestant most likely to have post-Idol career success.

GRADE:  A

Lauren Alaina – (“Anyway” by Martina McBride) – I’m still kind of annoyed at her for not going for the big note at the end of “Unchained Melody” last week.  I mean, I had the pottery wheel all set up and she ruined my “Ghost” moment.  Strong comeback this week as she showed some passion in her performance and of course as I’m typing this Maggie throws in a “I think she’s next to go home” comment.  Opposites attract, ladies and gentlemen.

GRADE:  B+

Round 2 and the contestants get to be mentored by Lady Gaga, which will come in handy if they’re required to stuff a live chicken down their pants and shaving half their head with a cheese grater.  What does that mean? I don’t know, I’m a little rusty here.

Haley Reinhart – (“I Who Have Nothing” by The Moody Blues) – Much much much better than her first song tonight and probably even deserving of the standing ovation she got from the judges.  She took all the anger she had after the judges comments from her first song and used that as motivation here to knock this one out of the park.  One thing though that I did take from this, is that Haley probably will be better suited for a more Broadway type of career.

GRADE:  A

Scotty McCreery – (“Young Blood” by The Coasters) –  Lady Gaga meets Scotty McCreery, how strange.  Speaking of strange, this performance was the very definition of strange.  Not sure why Scotty felt the need to bug his eyes out the whole time as if he was on crystal meth.  I mean I guess it was good he did something a little different than a straight country song, but regardless he’s a lock for the Top 3.

GRADE:  B-

Lauren Alaina – (“Trouble” by Elvis Presley) – this song says it all and maybe Maggie was foreshadowing her doom as I thought this didn’t suit Lauren whatsoever and might have her in trouble and on the verge of elimination this week.  Got nothing else to add here as this really was just bland.

GRADE:  C+

James Durbin – (“Love Potion Number Nine ” by The Clovers) – what a great bad movie Love Potion No. 9 was, back when we cared about Tate Donovan (for dating Jennifer Aniston) and Sandra Bullock’s original nose.  As for this song, now this was a James who could win Idol, as he absolutely had the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand (figuratively, not literally, as that would be a lot of people to feed).

GRADE:  A

Much better show tonight than the past few weeks, but that’s probably because there was no Jacob, but it’s going to be sad to see one of these four have to go home.

PREDICTION TO GO HOME:  Lauren Alaina – I’ve learned not to go against Maggie’s instincts.