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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.

American Idol Recap – Top 7 Perform

Tonight’s theme, songs of the 21st century, which I’m sure will include at least one song that was remade by someone this century but originally written in another one.

An Idol first tonight, as they have the six already booted contestants (Ashton Jones, Karen Rodriguez, Naima Adedapo, Thia Megia, Paul McDonald and the lovely Pia Toscano) come out and do a version of Pink’s “So What” which was probably best suited for a local Six Flags engagement.  But anything that puts Pia on my TV for a few minutes is all right by me.  Nice quick shot of her potential boyfiend/my #1 enemy Mark Ballas in the audience.

Scotty McCreery (“Swingin’ by Leann Rimes) – I feel like this qualifies as an older song that was re-made, but that’s just a guess.  Best part of this was all the other contestants making fun of Scotty for the way he holds the mic like a flute when he sings.  Performance wasn’t too shabby, but it’s starting to feel redundant with him, he needs to step out of his comfort zone and change it up a little for one week.

GRADE:  B

James Durbin (“Uprising” by The Muse) – sweet song choice and James absolutely kills it.  Having several drummers marching behind him was a sweet touch too.  Tonight might have been the first time I actually believed James could win Idol.  Hopefully he can build on this and keep up the high quality of his performances down the stretch since he’ll be safe for a few weeks.

GRADE:  A

Haley Reinhart (“Rolling In The Deep” by Adele) – ok, great song choice since this is probably my favorite current new song and one of the coolest songs that has a strong build like Led Zeppelin’s “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” (my all-time favorite).  So I’m not sure if it’s because of the song, but as much as I’ve been Haley’s #1 anti-fan, I really enjoyed this and her performance, and this is two straight weeks (and 3 straight performances if you count her duet with Casey last week) that I’ve really dug.  Maybe I underestimated her, but I think she’s found her groove and might have some life remaining in this race.

GRADE:  A-

Jacob Lusk (“Dance With My Father” by Luther Vandross) – wow, now that’s a terrible song choice.  It’s so bad, that Jacob butchers the song by forgetting the second line of it, but thankfully half of America might have been asleep already.  As much as Stefano doesn’t belong here and should have been voted off for weeks, I think it’s Jacob’s time to go.  Actually it’s similar to Paul’s elimination last week.  It’s gotten to the point where we’ve already seen the best Jacob has to offer and he’s just trending downward now and it’s probably best for his career to go home now and save face.

GRADE:  D

Casey Abrams (“Harder To Breathe” by Maroon 5) – this is like the exact opposite of Haley’s performance, here’s a terrible song that instantly sours me on the performance.  But this was at least a lot more upbeat and alive than last week’s snooze fest.  I feel like saying any more would give too much credibility to Maroon 5, so I’ll stop here.

GRADE:  B-

Stefano Langone (“Closer” by Ne-Yo) – what the hell is a ne-yo?  I’m just going to give Stefano a C for every performance he has remaining in this competition since he sings the exact same way every time and never really does anything to stand out and doesn’t really do anything to crap the bed either.

GRADE:  C

Lauren Alaina (“Born To Fly” by Sara Evans) – Maggie said it best, “that was boring for her.”  Yep, agreed.  You have the pimp spot with only 7 people left, you gotta do something that makes you stand out like James did tonight.  Very disappointed.

GRADE:  C+

BOTTOM THREE PREDICTION:  Stefano, Jacob and Casey (only because I can’t stand Maroon 5)

GOING HOME PREDICTION: Jacob

American Idol Recap – The Non-Pias Perform

Yes I’m bitter.  Yes I’m angry.  Yes I’m thoroughly annoyed with the American voting people for eliminating my Pia last week.  Yes I didn’t vote, but that’s besides the point.  With Pia no longer on the show, I reserve the right to be angry for at least one week of this blog (although I’m thinking of extending it to two weeks if the rumors are true that she’s hooking up with Mark Ballas of Dancing With The Stars now). 

So you’re psuedo-top 8 performed last night (I refuse to call them a regular Top 8, b/c this is not the eight best for this season), and the theme was songs from movies.  Any chance someone covers Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer” from the movie Se7en?

Since I’m angry and bitter, I’m doing this in twenty words or less for each contestant and I will probably not say anything nice about anyone this week and hope they all get voted off.

Paul McDonald (“Old Time Rock and Roll” by Bob Seger from the movie Risky Business) – his schtick has grown tiresome, he sings every song the same way and now it’s boring me.

GRADE:  D+

Lauren Alaina (“The Climb” by Miley Montana Hannah Cyrus from some stupid Miley Cyrus movie I reckon) – this was good, so instead I’ll just be negative towards Miley Cyrus who should stop having a career since everyone acts and sings better than her.

GRADE: A

Stefano Langone (“End of the Road” by Boyz II Men from the movie Boomerang) – a fitting song title for Stefanoe.  Also could have sung “Hit the Road Jack” from the movie The Dream Team

GRADE:  D

Scotty McCreery (“Everybody’s Talkin” by George Strait from Midnight Cowboy) – wow another country song, awesome, haven’t heard that before from Scotty.  I flipped over to the Rangers/Caps game during this

GRADE:  INC

Casey Abrams (“Nature Boy” by Nat King Cole from I have no clue what movie nor do I care) – judges loved it and gave a standing ovation, I thought it was incredibly boring and I hope he gets voted off.

GRADE:  F

Haley Reinhart (“Call Me” by Blondie from American Gigolo) – amazingly, in all my negativity, this might have been the first Haley performance I didn’t mind.   But she’s still not Idol material.

GRADE:  B-

Jacob Lusk (“Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon & Garfunkel from The Pursuit of Happyness) – still can’t believe Maggie has never heard of this song before.  Jacob still sucks and I flipped back to the hockey game.

GRADE:  D

James Durbin (“Heavy Metal” by Sammy Hagar from not sure what movie) – best James performance so far, thanks to Zakk Wylde (Ozzy’s guitarist) accompanying him (who also hung around uncomfortably too long post-performance)

GRADE:  A-

BOTTOM THREE – Stefano, Paul and Haley

GOING HOME – Stefano…it’s the end of the road….

American Idol Recap – Top 9 Perform

Sure it’s been about 20 hours since Idol aired, but never too late for a quick recap.  Last night’s theme – “Rock and Roll Hall of Fame” which you’ll soon learn does not require rock songs to be song.

 Here’s the 10 words or less breakdown of each performer and my pick of the week to be eliminated.

Jacob Lusk (“Man In The Mirror” by Michael Jackson – not a rock song #1) – less whiny than most weeks, didn’t mind this
GRADE:  B-

Haley Reinhart – (“Piece of My Heart” by Janis Joplin) – is there room next to Janis’ grave for Haley?
GRADE:  D-

Casey Abrams  – (“Have You Ever Seen The Rain” by CCR) – nice use of the stand up bass, solid performance.
GRADE:  B

Lauren Alaina – (“You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman” by Aretha Franklin – not a rock song #2) – good commanding performance, needs to stop giggling during singing
GRADE:  B

James Durbin – (“While My Guitar Gently Weeps” by the Beatles) – odd the resident rocker didn’t choose a real rock song 
GRADE:  C+

Scotty McCreery – (“That’s All Right Mama by Elvis Presley – not a rock song #3) – girls running up on stage after equals super cheesy
GRADE:  C+

Pia Toscano – (“River Deep Mountain High” by Tina Turner) – finally not a ballad, loved this
GRADE:  A

Stefano Langone – (‘When A Man Loves a Woman” by Percy Sledge or Michael Bolton if that’s your taste – not a rock song #4) – forgettable, boring, and forgettably boring.
GRADE:  D+

Paul McDonald – (“Folsom Prison Blues” by Johnny Cash – not a rock song #5) – in pimp spot because bottom 3 last week, fun performance
GRADE:  B

PREDICTION FOR BOTTOM 3
Haley Reinhart, Stefano Langone and Jacob Lusk

GOING HOME
Stefano Langone