According to this Access Hollywood article (here), a top FOX source told them that the results were not even close. Kris Allen won the American Idol finale by a large margin. Imagine that. The previous week, only 1 million votes separated the Adam and Kris. I guess the majority of Danny Gokey’s fans voted for Kris Allen. And why wouldn’t they? Kris is married and he served as a worship leader at his church. Sound familiar? It should because that is pretty much Danny’s bio as well. And once again, Simon Cowell had it all wrong. Last year he proclaimed David Archuleta the winner, but David Cook won. This year he did the same, proclaiming Adam Lambert the winner, but Kris Allen won.
Why do I even know so much about this stuff? I only watched a few episodes at the beginning of the season. I like that part of the season because it’s like stopping to watch cars about to wreck. But it’s really not cars. It’s people who are failing at life. Well, American Idol, you did it again. Whatever it is that you do. See you next year. Good luck to Kris and Adam.
Here’s a pic of Kara DioGuardi in a bikini from the American Idol Season Finale 2009:
If you have not heard, a fire broke out in the Gallery Furniture warehouse in Houston, TX tonight around 8:45pm. The showroom and warehouse are located on I-45 between Tidwell and Parker. Traffic on I-45 was backed up for a good ways, and flames could be seen from several miles away. My prayers go out to Jim McIngvale (aka Mattress Mack) and the Gallery Furniture family. Mattress Mack is an icon of goodwill in Houston, and if we know him well enough, he’ll still honor his promise to get furniture the day you buy it. Maybe not tonight. But probably by Monday. He’ll be back on track in no time.
Here’s a shot of the fire at the Gallery Furniture warehouse. That is a 100,000 sq ft warehouse:
Bro hymn for a longtime landmark of Houston, TX. They are down but not out. According to Mattress Mack, their store on Post Oak and Westheimer will be open tomorrow at 9:00am. Business as usual for that store. However, the main showroom off of I-45 – that may not be open tomorrow. But like I said, give Jim some time. He’ll be back up and running in no time at all.
Gallery Furniture has been in Houston at the same address since 1981, and it’s funny how I still remember the Gallery Furniture commercials on 20Vision. Here’s a video for old time’s sake:
Even Chuck Norris enjoyed the recliners at Gallery Furniture:
After seeing that video and reading a couple of news articles (here, here) about President Obama visiting Notre Dame, I am not at all surprised. For the better part of President Bush’s second term in office, there were numerous speeches where hardcore liberals confronted President Bush, often trying to sabotage his press conferences and public addresses. Several movies were made to criticize President Bush. I guess now it’s time for the hardcore conservatives to interrupt President Obama when he is speaking at public events. I think it totally sucks, but welcome to America. I guess.
This, however, really upsets my soul:
WTF is this guy thinking? I don’t have a political party preference, but no matter how much my opinions may vary from those of our current President, you will never catch me constructing a couple of posters that declare our President to be wicked. Oh, and as if that was not enough, he wishes AIDS & HELL on gay people. Nice. It reminds me of that time in the Bible when Jesus comes down and makes posters and then camps outside his friends’ homes. Oh wait. That didn’t happen. He befriended them, no matter their opinions or sexual preference.
What’s wrong with people these days? If you step back and look at all the issues that divide us our country into red state and blue state, you might notice that very few of the issues actually have any impact on our daily lives. For example, there are millions of people losing their jobs right now. This guy could be helping, but he’s making posters. There are millions of homeless people in America who do not have a place to sleep or a next meal. You know how this guy is helping? He’s making posters. There are disabled vets returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, and their health care is running out. What’s this guy doing? He’s making posters. Ideologically, our country is splitting in half. President Obama and the priests at Notre Dame are trying to unite people. What’s this guy doing? He’s making posters that continue to drive people apart.
Roughly 40 people got arrested while protesting Obama’s commencement address at Notre Dame today. It’s their choice. It’s free speech. But I sincerely hope people in America begin to find more ways to come together and unite with one another. Because this whole 50/50 red state blue state thing is not making anything any better.
And that’s probably one of the only times you’ll see me write about politics.
Have you ever seen this hotel? It’s gigantic. It looks like a sail on the sea, and that is no accident. The Burj Al Arab hotel was designed to look like an Arabian vessel called a dhow. This hotel is an iconic symbol of Dubai. It’s the only 7-star hotel in the entire world, and it’s the 2nd tallest hotel in the world. Rates for suites start at $1,000 USD and go up to $28,000 USD per night. The most expensive suite is the Royal Suite. For $28k, I hope it’s everything you could ever dream of. BTW, just look at the hotel’s atrium:
And even though the entire world is in an economic meltdown of sorts, the Burj Al Arab hotel in UAE continues to book rooms at standard rates (details). Typically after reading an article like that, I would probably go into some economics rant, relating price to demand and supply and such. But really, who cares? This hotel has to be one of the most beautiful and magnificent structures ever built. Here are some pictures of the Burj Al Arab hotel:
This is the sun. It looks like a typical photograph of the sun…until you look a little closer. Astrophotographer Thierry Legault took one of the most amazing pictures I have ever seen. In the lower left quadrant you can see a black spot. That black spot is actually the Space Shuttle Atlantis. If you zoom in, you can actually see two black spots:
Apparently, Legault snapped this photograph as the Atlantis was just minutes away from catching up with the Hubble Space Telescope. This picture is the first of its kind. Because this is the final space shuttle mission to the Hubble telescope, this was the last opportunity to even attempt to capture this image. Zooming in even further, and the image looks even more grainy and stunning:
I hope you all have been watching LOST for the past 5 years. It’ll likely go down as one of my favorite TV shows of all time. JJ Abrams is awesome. The show is awesome. The season finales are awesome. Every season finale ends with something or someone being blown up!
I have so many questions, and LOST always leaves me wanting more. Some people really bag on this show because there are so many unanswered questions and because there is so much weird stuff going on, but I believe those things make this show so good. Seriously, who built the four-toed statue? I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent over the past 5 years talking about LOST with friends, trying to decipher every last clue. I think that is part of the experience of the show.
JJ Abrams wants people out there discussing the show, arguing about it, questioning everything, and then throwing our hands up and raising the white flag because we simply don’t know. I enjoy that aspect of this show. It reminds me of one of my favorite albums. I can’t just listen to one song. I’ve got to listen to the entire album from beginning to end to get the full experience. LOST is a lot like that. The only difference is that it’s taking 6 years of my life (and a lot of patience) to listen to the LOST album. Oh well. I’ll be waiting with excitement for the next 8 months until Season 6 begins. I can’t wait to see if Flight 815 lands in LA as scheduled.
On a side note: I have not had cable for the past 2 years. I never imagined that I could go on without cable. I think I’ve had cable since I was 7-years-old. Living without it has not been as difficult as I thought it would be. In fact, I have been very impressed with the shows that ABC, NBC, and Fox roll out every night. Not so much CBS though (except for Wheel of Fortune – one of my all times favorites). Nice work, major networks. Nice work. Overall I give you all an A. You have definitely made my post-cable TV years worthwhile.
Wow. Gosh. Goodness. Oprah’s rich. She’s extremely wealthy. Even more, she’s extremely wealthy in a time when the unemployment rate is nearing double digits in many of America’s cities and towns. She’s extremely wealthy in a time when a lot of people are losing their jobs and their homes. Now, what does a wealthy person do in a time when the economy is lying there dead on the ground, when people are hoping that things will get better? I tell you what a wealthy person does – they go to graduation commencement at a major university and scoreboard everyone there (details). And ironically, she did it all in front of an actual scoreboard.
From Oprah’s commencement address:
“It’s great to have a nice home. It’s great to have nice homes! It’s great to have a nice home that just escaped the fire in Santa Barbara,” she said. “It’s great to have a private jet. Anyone that tells you that having your own private jet isn’t great is lying to you. You may achieve great things, but you haven’t completed the circle of success until you help someone else move to a higher ground and get to a better place.”
She kinda saved herself in the end, but her first few statements really showcased her vast riches. Glad you have a nice home? Glad you have nice homes? Is it really great to have a private jet? Oooh, tell us more about the most lushest of lifestyles. I think in another life, Oprah must have been One-Eyed Willy. She probably has a ship from the 1600’s locked away in some mountain that she bought on eBay. I bet her ship is called the Inferno II, and it’s probably full of gold bullion, jewels, and other priceless treasure.
I don’t really ever want to be rich or even have a ton of money. Life’s already too rough, and I’m already a bit of a jerk at times. But the last thing I’d want to do is go to a graduation commencement during an economic downturn, when unemployment is near 10% in America, look at thousands of college grads who don’t have jobs, and then tell them how awesome it is to have a great life, a great job, a few fabulous homes and a custom-built private jet. Yeah. I hope I don’t ever have the chance to do that. Because that would be rude.
To be fair, Oprah did give some very wise advice at the commencement:
She then launched into a laundry list of what is required for a truly successful life.
“If you can find a way to give back, you will be a huge success…
“If you can summon courage in the face of hardships, I know for sure that you will be a huge success…
“If you can see the possibilities of what you can become and not just what you are, you will be a huge success…
“If you can go through life with humility, you will be a huge success…
“If you can stand in your own shoes, you will be a huge success…
“If you can be generous enough to say kind, affirming words to those that long to hear them, you will be a huge success.”
I guess the lesson is: give back. (And maybe then you can get a private jet.)
Ah yes. The Hubble telescope. It’s 19-years-old. It orbits the planet every 97 minutes. It’s sent back over 600,000 images, many of which have forced the re-writing of astronomy textbooks. You could argue that it is one of the most significant scientific devices of our lifetime. But alas, the Hubble Space Telescope is in need of repair, and NASA just sent 7 astronauts on the space shuttle Atlantis (at a cost of $1.4B) to repair the 19-year-old telescope. The Atlantis mission’s goal is to repair the HST and extend its life to 2014, at which point Hubble’s replacement will take over. [Note: The Hubble will be replaced by the James Webb Space Telescope. That’s a post for another day.]
NASA has called it the “most dangerous space shuttle mission yet,” and the reason it’s so dangerous: potential collision with space junk. That’s right. Not only are humans extremely wasteful on earth, but apparently we’ve gotten a head start at polluting space. We don’t even live up there yet, and there is already a ton of junk and debris orbiting the planet (Why wasn’t that a presidential election issue for 2008?).
What kind of junk is orbiting the planet? Oh nothing too serious. Just broken satellites and dead rockets. In orbit, the space shuttle and HST will be traveling at 17,500 mph. I guess if you get hit by a rocket in space, it might leave a bruise. And to make matters worse, the Hubble Space telescope is 350 miles above earth’s surface. Typical space shuttle missions only run about 250 miles up because that’s the orbit of the International Space Station. This perilous mission to fix the Hubble is 100 miles above the space station! Good. Lord.
Oh, and it gets even more dangerous because the crew is supposed to meet up with the Hubble in an area of space that is much more full of clutter than normal areas of space. It’s kind of ironic that the most important space telescope ever launched looks like a trashcan. Quite fittingly, it’s surrounded by space junk. But seriously, it’s no laughing matter. This mission was canceled once before because NASA thought it was too dangerous. I hope these guys and gals feel lucky because they have their work cut out for them. If something bad does happen to them up there, we will basically have 7 astronauts stranded 350 miles above the Earth. If that happens, I hope Tom Hanks and Kevin Bacon have some time open in their schedules – because we’ll need the most amazing space rescue mission ever. Or we’ll need a miracle. Or both.
On a related note: I bet most of you did not know this, but NASA is set to retire the Space Shuttle Program in 2010. In July 2008, NASA announced that there would only be 10 more space shuttle missions (details). Say what you want about NASA and the Space Program, but I’m going to miss the space shuttle. I can’t wait to see what they replace it with. Again, that’s a post for another day.
Did you know that the price of a US postage stamp was increasing tomorrow? May 11, 2009 is the start of the 44-cent United States postage stamp. The price increase will mark the third year in a row that the price of a stamp has increased $0.02. If you’re still with me or if you find this subject fascinating, you can find a lot of really interesting factoids about the US Postage Stamp here. Here are some of the postage stamp facts that I found interesting:
Today’s two-cent increase is the 23rd change in the price of a first-class stamp since the 1-ounce standard for postage was adopted in 1885. The price of a stamp has gone up 10 times since 1988.
The Postal Service is an independent federal agency and covers its expenses not with tax money but with the sale of stamps, postage and postal services.
The best-selling postage stamp of all time? More than 900 million breast cancer research stamps have been sold since the stamp was unveiled in 1998. A distant second is the Elvis Presley stamp (517 million), unveiled in 1993 and no longer available.
Even as first-class mail has dwindled, philatelists, or stamp collectors, have watched their market thrive, thanks, in part, to the Internet and auction sites such as eBay. The stamp-collecting market reached a record $1.18 billion in sales in 2007.
If it the Postal Service were a private sector company, it would rank 26th on the 2008 Fortune 500 list, just behind UnitedHealth Group and just ahead of Kroger and Boeing.
For the fifth year in a row, Americans recently ranked the Postal Service as the “most trusted government agency,” according to a survey by the Ponemon Institute. The Postal Service was labeled trustworthy by more than 87 percent of the public. The least-trusted agency? In recent years, that distinction has gone to Customs and Border Protection and the National Security Agency.
Is Kerry spending all this time on stamp talk? Yes. I know. It’s odd. But I find it interesting that the USPS lost $2.8 billion last year. The economic downturn has really hurt the post office. Moreover, email has caused massive drops in the use of snail mail since the late 1990’s. Furthermore, online bill payment systems have also caused a massive decrease in mail sent via the Postal Service.
Isn’t the USPS a federally-owned company? When was the last time the government created an efficient, cost-effective company? These are well-known criticisms of the USPS, but in the end, the USPS can send a letter from your house to anywhere else in the country within a few days for $0.44. That’s a pretty good deal if you ask me. And beware of criticizing the USPS. In the Seinfeld episode entitled “Junk Mail,” Cosmo Kramer thought the Postal Service was obsolete, but that landed him in real trouble with the Postmaster General:
Postmaster General: “Kramer, I’ve been, uh, reading some of your material here. I gotta be honest with you: you make a pretty strong case. I mean, just imagine. An army of men in wool pants running through the neighborhood handing out pottery catalogs, door to door.”
Kramer: “Yeah! Ha ha.”
Postmaster General: “Well, it’s my job. And I’m pretty damn serious about it. In addition to being a postmaster, I’m a general. And we both know, it’s the job of a general to, by God, get things done. So maybe you can understand why I get a little irritated when someone calls me away from my golf.”
Kramer: “I’m very, very sorry.”
Postmaster General: “Sure, you’re sorry. I think we got a stack of mail out at the desk that belongs to you. Now, you want that mail, don’t you Mr. Kramer?”
Kramer: “Sure do!”
The lesson: Don’t mess with the Post Office. They will bring Wilford Brimley to confront you in a cold, damp room with poor lighting. And he will intimidate you with his awesome mustache and his fancy title.
In all seriousness, 2007 was a decent year for the USPS. They processed 212 billions pieces of mail, but they believe that 2009 will be down about 17% from 2008. And after losing $2.8 billion in 2008, the 2009 forecast does not look very good. Postmaster General John Potter is calling for Congress to cut back mail delivery from 6 days a week to 5 days a week. They also plan to reduce the employee positions by about 15%, and there is currently a hiring freeze. They are not going to fill any positions at this time. Awesome. That’ll help me get through the post office lines more quickly. Pause. Not!
I guess increasing the price of stamps and cutting costs will help them get back in the black. Good luck and godspeed, USPS. I’m thinking you’re gonna need it.
Ho. Ly. Crap. Go see this movie. Like yesterday. The Star Trek movie is entertaining from start to finish. I never looked at my watch during the entire 2 hours and 6 minutes. I don’t even remember glancing away from the screen. Not even once. Here’s why I thought Star Trek was awesome with a capital A:
The plot was fantastic.
The flow of the movie kept me engaged and enthralled.
The bad guy was fierce, cruel and detestable.
The good guy was a total rebel badass who gets his ass kicked all over the place.
The movie was perfectly cast.
Deadly creatures on other planets!
Time travel and black holes are part of the storyline.
In true Star Trek form, an inept redshirt dies.
StarFleet Academy girls wear short skirts.
J.J. Abrams makes everything awesome.
So there. That’s why the Star Trek movie is awesome.
On a side note, I need to warn you about the Wolverine movie. Apparently it’s terrible. Steve’s review of the movie makes me sick to my stomach. I hate that they ruined a movie that could have been awesome. It seems that a popular trend of the 2000’s decade has been making movies focused on comic book super heroes (Batman, Superman, Iron Man, X-men, Wolverine, Incredible Hulk) and cartoon action figures from the 1980s (Transformers, G.I. Joe).
I think we can all agree that many of these movies have been awesome, but we should also realize that movie studios are going to produce some duds. I feel badly for Steve that Wolverine turned out to be a terrible movie for him (though I have spoken with some people who enjoyed the movie). Steve probably could have written a better screenplay for that film. He won’t even go see the G.I. Joe movie coming out this year, and I don’t blame him. A blond Baroness? Are you kidding me?
As for me, I’m hoping that the second Transformers movie blows away the first one because I wasn’t too impressed with the first Transformers movie. I’m not sure if it’s Michael Bay’s fault. Because I grew up worshipping G1 Transformers, it’s honestly hard for me to see them in a form other than cartoon. But I’m giving it my best shot. And I did like the first one. I’m just looking forward to the extended cast of Transformers in Revenge of the Fallen. Arcee! Devastator! I can’t wait!