April 21, 2009

American Idol - Top 7, part deux

Oh, the drama of DISCO NIGHT.  I'm just going to go ahead and say up front that if there is any week of this show that has the potential to be trainwreckian, it is this week.  Disco.  People could crash and burn.  This is a very narrow genre regarding the realm of greatness.  And for the love, can Lil please sing some Donna Summer?   

01 Lil Rounds - "I'm Every Woman" Okay, Chaka Kahn is the next best thing to Donna Summer.  Remember when Mandisa sang this?  That was fun.  I'm glad to see that Lil has some of her sass back this week.  I still don't think it was pitch-perfect, which is unfortunate.  She did have fun but it didn't rock for me...I agree with the judges, though, she's been all over the place.  I AM sad about it, for what it's worth. 

02 Kris Allen - "She Works Hard For The Money" Y.I.K.E.S.  I'm scared for my little boyfriend... And immediately, I am on board.  Number one, I can finally say for certain that he is playing the guitar.  Number two, THANK YOU KRIS for giving us something unexpected with your arrangement.  Once again, I love him.  

A lot of women are known to shop in the men's department, but not many men are willing to shop in the women's.  What the?!  Further proof, ladies and gentlemen, that I should be fast forwarding through everything Paula says. 

03 Danny Gokey - "September" I love this song, first of all.  Nothing new with the arrangement, and it's exactly what I would have expected of the Gokey.  I really loved the bridge, but that was mostly the backup singers' fault.  (:  Y'all, he is one of the best vocalists.  Ever.  KARA!  FINALLY MAKING THE NOTE THAT HIS PITCH IS ALWAYS RIGHT.  It is, people.  It IS.  I do agree with Simon - at "this stage of the competition," he'll have to do something surprising soon.

04 Allison Iraheta - "Hot Stuff" NICE hook at the beginning.  I had to remember what song this was at first.  I like that she gave this a rock anthem vibe.  I think it was pretty great.  It totally made me laugh at the end when the band didn't cut off on her cue.  It feels like me in church band practice, because I am always doing that and no one ever pays attention to me.  (:   

05 Adam Lambert - "If I Can't Have You" I do enjoy the low-key Adam.  Maybe I just love a faux-hawk.  I think he made a good choice, as I actually do believe that he is emotionally connected to the song.  I think it was great, as it always is.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE that I never know what to expect from him.  It felt a little reminiscent of a Steve Perry/Journey ballad - just me?  (I love Journey)

06 Matt Giraud - "Stayin' Alive" How apropos.  I'm actually having fun with him this week!  I think he did exactly what he wanted to do. I'm not super-crazy about the end, but I think for the most part he hit his notes!  It was pretty decent.  

07 Anoop Desai - "Dim All The Lights"  I like the beginning, since I think Anoop is at his best when he doesn't over-work things.  I really like how he sang it.  Even the second half, bringing back the disco beat, I think it was really smooth.  I'm not sure that it was exciting enough to keep him out of the bottom three, but I liked it.  

For my money (which would be exactly $0.02) I still think Matt and Lil are (and should be) going home.  I will also renege and say that these kids did a lot better with the disco than I expected.  Good times!

April 14, 2009

American Idol - Top 7

Songs of the cinema, tonight?  This sounds like a fun theme.  It's interesting, at least!  Quentin Tarantino? - Hi, weird movies...I'm skeptical of you as a mentor.   
What have you got for us, kids?:

01 Allison Iraheta - "I Don't Wanna Miss A Thing"  from Armageddon.  This feels like a perfect song choice for her.  A ballad, but edgy nonetheless.  I think it started off well, but for me it got really funky in the middle.  And when I say "funky, " I mean "she didn't hit her notes."  That's certainly out of character for her.  It felt disjointed and a little low?  It never quite got there for me.  Wasn't my favorite, but Paula and Simon love it?  She is FOR SURE the girls' best hope, but I just wasn't feelin it.  Maybe it sounded different through the TV.  That's always my fallback.  

02 Anoop Desai - "Everything I Do" from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.  Another ballad...I think Anoop's figured it out?  I also think Quentin was quite right; Anoop's gotta make it a little dirty.  I think this is such a pretty song.  I think he sang it very well.  Same ol' Anoop, I guess.  It's nothing I'll want to download later, but it's pretty.  

Is it just me, or does Randy look a little reminiscent of Charlie Brown with that sweater?  Just in blue...  (:  I bet it drives Simon CRAZY to not get to talk after each one.  I'm glad I still have Kara.

03 Adam Lambert - "Born to be Wild" from Easy Rider.  Oh, the guyliner is back en force.  I seriously don't see how anyone can beat him at this point.  He's not necessarily someone that I would like to listen to all the time (I sometimes grow weary of The Scream), but he is surely a brilliant vocalist.  My favorite quote ever: "You dare to dance in the path of greatness." -Paula  WHAT?  

04 Matt Giraud - "Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman" This is such a pretty song.  I like that he's getting back to the piano and putting his brilliant soul vibe back in there.  I think he totally lost it vocally in the big part of the song.  I prefer his easy falsetto.  It was a mixed bag for me.  

05 Danny Gokey - "Endless Love" I love his voice.  And I'm totally digging the harp on stage (that was for my mom).  I think I heard the first iffy note from him...but I quickly forgot it.  I really liked it.  I think it was really emotional for him and I do NOT know how he sang it.  I would love to see him bust out a totally unexpected arrangement soon.  Just once, at least.  

06 Kris Allen - "Falling Slowly" from Once.  I don't know this movie or this song.  But I know that I have a crush on Kris.  I think it started a little rough.  To me it feels sorta choppy.  It is really nice for me when he sings higher.  I think it was pretty good, but maybe too obscure of a song choice. 

07 Lil Rounds - "The Rose" OhmygoshIcan'twaittohearhergogospel.  I have been waiting for this moment for all my life.  I like that she kept it pretty at the beginning.  I think there are some really wonderful moments, but some of it felt just a touch off to me.  That hurts my feelings just a little bit.  Simon is right, though, it's not the Lil we came to love.  Lil's right, too, though...she did what she thought they wanted her to do.  

I do not want Lil to go home, but I think she was the weakest link.  I also think Matt and Anoop could be in danger.  I think Quentin actually added some nice constructive criticism for the singers.  


April 13, 2009

Girl George antics

I will unabashedly tell you that I think my dog, George, is the prettiest dog ever.  I can also say for certain that she's perfect for me.  1/2 Golden Retriever and 1/2 Yellow Lab is pretty much my favorite combo ever.  You'd think, however, that a dog who is that particular half-breed would love being in the water.  She never has.  Her one exception is that she'll chase after any water that moves.  She doesn't like a bath but loves drinking from the hose.  I recently caught some of her particular brand of crazy on video at my parents' house and their pool.  I don't know why this makes me laugh so much...but it does. 

April 9, 2009

This Friday is better than all the others

I'm so thankful for Good Friday.  I'm thankful for my church that leaves our sanctuary open all day for a time of quiet reflection.  I'm thankful that they make me remember.  I'm thankful that I get to pause without being sidetracked for at least a few moments on one afternoon.  I'm thankful that it's tradition to have lunch with my best girl friends and take the afternoon off of work so we can participate and reflect and talk amongst ourselves together.  I'm thankful for my friends who love me more than I deserve.  And mostly I'm thankful for a Savior who goes to indescribable lengths in pursuit of me.  And you.  Thank you, Jesus, for this Good Friday.  



April 7, 2009

American Idol - Top 8

I have always loved the songs-from-the-year-you-were-born theme. Usually it's some sweet 80s song that I know and love. I hope these people work it out!

01 Danny Gokey (1980) - "Stand By Me" This arrangement to me started a little weird. At first I thought it was getting a little too boring, but when it kicked into a little bit more of the groove, I liked it. I sure do love it when he hits those high notes. Boy can sing.

02 Kris Allen (1985 a June baby, yeah!) - "All She Wants To Do Is Dance" I love the funk vibe. I would go dancing with Mr. Allen. And I don't even dance well. I thought it was a lot of fun.

03 Lil Rounds (1984) - "What's Love Got To Do With It" Finally, a powerhouse song! And shoot, it feels a little weak to me. A little pitchy, and a little boring. She can SING! Where is the Lil that made all these people look like children?

04 Anoop Desai (1986) - "True Colors" Hm. Cyndi Lauper? I do like the acoustic, sort-of R&B arrangement, and I think he's singing it well. I really do like Anoop a lot (hello, such a nice guy). This feels right for him, finally. I wouldn't have expected it, but I really liked it!

05 Scott MacIntyre (1985 another June baby!) - "The Search Is Over" I love this Survivor song. Who knew he could also play the guitar - what?! That's awesome. But goodness, in my humble opinion, he's vocally just not hitting this song. And by "not hitting," I mean, "I can't take it."

06 Allison Iraheta (1992) - Good grief, that girl is a BABY!! "I Can't Make You Love Me" I LOVE this song. I think Bonnie Raitt is a great choice for her (though I also think she can sing just about anything). I think most of the emotion of this song is lost on her, but I didn't hear a bad note, that's for sure. I don't think heartbreaking ballads are the best for her rocker self, but I give her credit for trying to take it down a notch.

07 Matt Giraud (1985) - "Part Time Lovers" This is seriously one of my favorite Stevie Songs. I think it's a good groove for Matt. I really like what he did with it, and I really like it when he hits those high notes!

08 Adam Lambert DANGIT!!!!! MY DVR DIDN'T RECORD ADAM!!!!
And my life feels as though it's hanging in the balance. I. Must. Know.
**UPDATE** Here's the YouTube video. I don't think it warranted the famed Simon-Standing-O, but see for yourself:

April 3, 2009

Always be victorious

"Victory is mine, victory is mine! Great day in the morning, victory is mine! I drink from the keg of glory...Bring me the finest muffins and bagels in all the land!"
(A frillion Shrute bucks to anyone who can name both the authors of the quote in the title of this post and the one above.)

I wrote this response to Home Depot's form letter at approximately 11:15AM EST:

I feel as though you responded very poorly to my concerns, but I did want to send a follow-up letter to address these unfortunate circumstances. Frankly, I don't think you “carefully reviewed” anything I've said. I am once again disappointed that a company to whom I have been very loyal feels that I should wait an additional 3-5 business days for a resolution to a situation that has been ongoing for 8 weeks. This is unacceptable. My concerns are valid and after your lack of due diligence, I assure you that I will be taking my patience and my patronage elsewhere in the future. At the very least I would expect a phone call before the close of business today.

By 1:30PM I had received a call from the installers, who will be at my house with my new garage door on Monday morning. By 2:45PM I received a call from Brittany in Home Depot's Customer Care Department. She verified that I had an installation scheduled, apologized for their oversight, and will be sending me a HD gift card for my troubles. Thank you, Brittany in Customer Care, for taking care of your business today. I hope we never speak again. (:

This says it all

Epic battles ensue...

My letter to the Customer Care department at Home Depot yesterday at approximately 11:30AM EST:

To whom it may concern:

I ordered (and paid for) a custom garage door from your website on February 4th and received a confirmation e-mail saying that someone would be out to take measurements within a few days. The measurements were taken on February 11th. I was told that it would be 2-4 weeks before installation, and that if any additional work was required I would be told shortly.

I waited the full 4 weeks but I never received a call. I called my local Home Depot store on March 11th and spoke to one of the expediters there. Apparently the manufacturer had not received the measurements (taken on 2/11) until the previous day. I was not informed until that time that I needed to pay an additional $100 for a header that was needed. I paid over the phone and I was told that it would take 7-10 days before the installation would be scheduled.

I once again waited until March 23rd and never received a call. I once again called my local Home Depot expediter, who informed me that my [standard sized] garage door was not in stock on the 11th, but it was to ship on a rush order on Friday, March 27th. I was then told that the installer had put me on a “priority” list and would call me to schedule the installation time by Monday, March 30th.

As of this moment on April 2nd, I have not received another call. I have called and left several messages once again with the local Home Depot offices this week and have not even been given the courtesy of a return phone call.

I believe I have been extremely patient but my patience has reached its end. I have been almost two months without a functional garage door and I feel that the customer service I have received has been very poor. I would like this situation rectified as soon as possible.

Thank you,

The response I received from the "Customer Care" department of the Home Depot at approximately 2:00AM EST:

Dear E,

Thank you for contacting The Home Depot Customer Care.

We apologize for your experience with our company. We have carefully reviewed your concern and found it necessary to escalate it to our Resolution Team.

However, before we can escalate this issue, please provide your telephone number including the area code.

Once we receive this information, we will forward it to the Resolution Team. They will then contact you within 3-5 business days.

Your record number with Customer Care is 533xxxx.

We greatly appreciate your patience and patronage. Again, our apologies for the circumstances you encountered as a customer of Home Depot.

If you do not hear from us within 3-5 business days or would like to speak with a Customer Care professional, please call us at 1-800-HOMEDEPOT (1-800-466-3337, Prompts: 3 then 6). We would be happy to assist you.

Customer Care

Now, I would like someone to tell me what part of my [very polite] letter makes them think that I would be thrilled to learn that my concerns had been escalated to the Resolution Team? I'll receive a call back within 3-5 business days?! -Delightful!

They CLEARLY did not "carefully review" anything. And they can forget both my patience and my patronage.

And that is all I have to say about that until I leave the tunnel of fury.

Lord, please help me.

April 2, 2009

Customer service and street gangs

I would like to preface this entire post by saying that I like to talk the talk...but if you know anything at all about me, it is that I am very non-confrontational. But with THAT out of the way...

I don't know if you are aware, but there has been an absolute epidemic around here of customer NON-service. Within the last couple of weeks, I have encountered not one but three separate people who have experienced what we'll call customer service "nightmares" with three different companies. It all started with my pal Lea and the absolute TRAVESTY of customer service she and her eldest daughter experienced at Forever21. She is much better with all the words than I am, and you can read about it on Lea's blog in parts 1, 2, 3, with resolution in part 4. In response to the first episode, my friend and I decided that we would form a street gang to deal with people who have no concept of customer service (this was before we got all convicted in part 4). She even let it slip that she has a SCARF with SKULLS on it - because nothing says tough like a scarf. Don't we look awesome with our prison tats?
Nothing says tough like glitter, dresses, high heels, and an art show. Any applications for membership can be sent to me with the subject line "forNEVER."

So I'm telling you, the timing couldn't be better. The ink hadn't even dried on our charter when I encountered my very own customer service issues. Suffice it to say that I ordered a new garage door from Home Depot...two months ago. And I paid for it...two months ago. I was told it would take 2-4 weeks for installation. I gave it the full four weeks until calling my local HD. At first I encountered a very nice man who returned my phone calls and seemed to be helping. However, that appears to be all in vain because several of the deadlines he gave me have also been blown to smithereens, and now no one will return my calls. I left several messages at my local store I wrote a very clear letter to the HD Customer Care office this morning...all to no avail as of yet. We're getting ready to build a new deck out back. I'll be getting my lumber at Lowe's.

Anyway, at an emergency forNEVER lunch meeting this afternoon, I discovered that Meg's been having another run-around from a small company from which she was placing a very LARGE order for FSU! I mean, to everyone out there, if it's going to be 11 weeks, don't tell me it'll be 2 weeks and then keep upping the ante.

As part of our meeting, Meghan and I also established forNEVER's responsibility to shout good customer service from the rooftops. As the first: J.Crew, J.Crew, J.Crew. They have GREAT customer service. I shopped there twice the last time I was in Jacksonville, and I had a personal shopper who even remembered my name the second time I came in the store. They bent over backwards to make sure that I was taken care of. They get our recommendation from two highly stylish ladies. (: