Saturday, June 28, 2008

Dodgers get no-hit but WIN!

It was definitely one of the most bizarre major league baseball games I've ever witnessed. Game two of this weekend's three game interleague freeway series between the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Los Angeles Dodgers took place at Chavez Ravine tonight. Not surprisingly, it was your classic pitcher's duel... what was surprising was the result of the game and how it all came about.

Jeff Weaver of the Angels was unhittable in his six innings of work, allowing only three walks to the Dodgers. However, Weaver made one crucial error, botching a little dribbler by the speedy Matt Kemp in the bottom of the fifth inning. Kemp attempted to steal second a couple of pitches later, and Angels catcher Jeff Mathis' attempt to catch him was way off, sailing into center field for another error to put Kemp on third. A fly ball to right field by Blake DeWitt was far enough to score Kemp and give the Dodgers a 1-0 lead. Reliever Jose Arredondo pitched a perfect 7th and 8th inning to preserve Weaver's no-hitter. The Angels could do nothing though with the Dodgers pitching either. Chad Billingsley only allowed three hits and three walks while striking out seven in his seven innings of work.

Jonathan Broxton held the lead while giving up a harmless single in the eighth. Takeshi Saito got two quick outs before allowing a double to Howie Kendrick and a walk to Mike Napoli to make things interesting. Saito then closed the door, striking out pinch hitter Reggie Willits to end the game. The box score for the Dodgers: ONE RUN, NO HITS, TWO ERRORS... How bizarre! Not even legendary announcer Vin Scully could remember seeing such a feat. What a game!


Monday, June 23, 2008

Leona Bleeds Into Rare Air: 10 Weeks at # 1!!!

The legend of Leona Lewis and her first hit "Bleeding Love" continues to grow here in America and all around the world. The smash hit has reached #1 in some 30 countries to date. Yesterday, it accomplished a VERY rare feat here on the U.S. Pop airplay charts, spending it's 10th consecutive week at #1! It's the first song to have double-digit weeks at the summit since Mariah Carey's comeback hit "We Belong Together" spent 11 weeks there in 2005. A quick look at the top 4 of the official chart which will be in Tuesday's edition of USA Today:

lw TW Artist Title TW lw Move Aud
1 1 LEONA LEWIS Bleeding Love 9837 10276 -439 62.359
2 2 RIHANNA Take A Bow 9628 9251 377 59.888
6 3 JESSE MCCARTNEY Leavin' 7538 6808 730 44.306
3 4 RAY J/YUNG BERG Sexy Can I 7202 7526 -324 46.575

Sadly, it doesn't look like "Bleeding Love" will have a chance to match Mariah or tie the all-time record of 12 weeks at #1 held by the 1995 Donna Lewis hit "I Love You Always Forever." It should fall below Rihanna's "Take A Bow" tomorrow on the charts. Still, for a debut song which got off to a fairly slow start to do this well, not to mention set the all-time weekly records for pop spins (10,993 on 5/4/08) and largest estimated listening audience (74,527,000 on 5/7/08) is some pretty big news and something to be VERY proud of!

"Bleeding Love" also spends it's fifth straight week on top of the Hot AC chart, with an even 4,000 spins. It also remains at #2 behind Sara Bareilles' "Love Song" on the Adult Contemporary chart.

So what's next for Leona here in the U.S.??? Well, her second single, "Better In Time" is due to go to pop radio for adds on July 15th. The buzz is already starting to grow on this song, as three weeks prior to the adds date it's already cracked the top 75 of the pop chart! Congratulations to Leona on her continued success here in America and all around the world!


Saturday, June 21, 2008

DC and Nashville Pics/Blogs

As I get them posted, I'll continue to link them here... sorry for the very long delay:

6/2/08: Miss DC Pageant (5/31/08)

6/2/08: Arriving in Nashville

6/3/08: Carrie Underwood Fanclub Party

6/3/08: Tuesday Night Opry with Carrie Underwood, Montgomery Gentry, the Oak Ridge Boys & Luke Bryan

6/4/08: City Of Hope Celebrity Softball Game

6/5/08: Tour of Country Music and Musicians Hall Of Fames

6/6/08: Grand Ole Opry Hall of Fame and backstage tour

6/6/08: CMA Music Fest featuring Carrie Underwood, Faith Hill and surprise guest Keith Urban!

6/7/08: Leaving Nashville

Monday, June 16, 2008

Tiger Goes 91 for 14th Major!

While many golf fans yesterday were thrilled with the thought of an 18 hole Monday playoff to determine the 2008 U.S. Open Champion, many of us who watched as Tiger Woods birdie effort on 18 curled in the right edge of the cup to force today's playoff with Rocco Mediate knew that we weren't going to have the opportunity to see much of it. Yes, Monday is a workday for most of us Americans, and getting a vacation day on a Monday with zero notice is pretty much next to impossible for many (me included). And "calling in sick" of course was never an option.

My morning break from 10:45-11:00 and my 12:30-1:30 lunch would be my only opportunities to see Tiger continue to chase Jack Nicklaus and his 18 majors, and Rocco try to make some history of his own. As I did some quick calculations, this meant I'd probably get to see them play the 8th or 9th hole on my break, and the 17th and 18th holes during the first half of my lunch hour. Little did I know that having that extra half hour in my lunch hour would turn out to be VERY important.

The first nine holes of the playoff were to be televised from 9-11am on ESPN, the final nine on NBC from 11am-1pm. I figured I'd bring my little portable TV into work to try to catch the NBC's coverage. Well, that turned out to be an exercise in futility as the computers in my office all but kill any VHF reception. Thankfully, I had my cellphone. With ESPN offering a constantly updated blog, I was able to keep up with the tournament almost minute to minute on my cellphone even while working.

Perhaps it was nerves, but Rocco had rough first hole, bogeying to fall one down. Both players would par the second hole. The tide turned on the par-3 third, as Tiger bogeyed and Rocco nearly holed out his tee shot, making a short birdie putt to take a one stroke lead. Both players parred the fourth hole.

Then came a remarkable stretch of 11 holes where at least one of the players made either a birdie or bogey. Rocco bogeyed the fifth to make it all square. Tiger then birdied the sixth and seventh to lead by two strokes. Tiger stumbled again on another par-3 - the 8th hole, with a bogey to lose a stroke off his lead. Rocco bogeyed the par-5 9th and the 10th holes to suddenly find himself three strokes back. It appeared to be all but over at that point.

Tiger Woods doesn't give up three stroke leads with eight holes to play very often. Rocco Mediate though was like the prize fighter who would go down, but you could never knock out. The 11th through 15th holes must have been something to see. Bogeys by Tiger on the 11th and 12th cut his lead to one. Both players birdied the par-5 13th hole. Rocco then birdied 14 to tie Tiger and then did it again on 15 to take a one stroke lead. Was this really happening? Was Tiger going to lose?

As my lunch started right at 12:30pm, I saw the players putting out on 16 for their pars. Rocco was at even par for the day, Tiger was at +1. Both players missed long birdie putts on 17 and tapped in for pars. The par-5 18th hole would again prove to be pivotal. Rocco hit first and pulled his shot into a bunker to the left of the fairway. Tiger striped his drive some 350 yards into the middle of the fairway. Rocco laid up with his approach shot, while Tiger's approach found the green about 45 feet away. Rocco's third shot is true, landing only about 15 feet away. Tiger's eagle putt was never online and ended up just under five feet from the hole. Rocco's birdie putt for the championship was left all along, rolling three feet past the hole. Tiger prowled around for seemingly forever before draining his birdie putt to tie Rocco for the lead. Rocco sank his 3-footer and with that, they were off to the 7th hole to begin a sudden death playoff. Both players had played the course in even par, 71 strokes. Yes, we were going to 91 holes and beyond!

Tiger's tee shot on the 91st hole just found the right edge of the fairway. Rocco's drive on his nemesis hole found a left fairway bunker. Rocco's second shot was hooked badly, just missing going into the bleachers. Tiger then stuck his approach a little less than 25 feet away from the pin on the right side of the green. Rocco takes a drop from his bad lie, and I mentioned to a co-worker that "it was sad that he had to lose this way"... Rocco's approach shot was about 20 feet beyond the hole. In order for the playoff to go on, either Rocco was going to have drain that putt, or Tiger would have to three-putt. It seemed that finally the 2008 Open U.S. was going to be decided. Tiger hit his putt firmly and perfectly online, but it stopped just a few inches short of the hole. He tapped in for his par, and then watched as Rocco lined up his putt to extend the match to a 92nd hole. The putt was hit firm, but read with too much break. It slid by on the high side, and with that, at 1:28 pm Pacific Time, Tiger Woods had won his 14th major. Rocco Mediate had won the hearts of millions all around the world... Seriously, how can anyone not like that guy? Three minutes later, I was back at my desk working. Blessed? You bet I was!!!... it could not have worked out more perfectly! I got to see some more history made, and boy was it amazing!!!

Congratulations to Tiger on his win, and congratulations to Rocco on such a truly inspiring performance... it wasn't too long ago that Rocco was contemplating retirement thanks to a bad back. We're all pretty thankful he didn't retire aren't we? GREAT job, Rocco! In defeat, you truly were victorious this week.

For an even more detailed breakdown of what happened today, go to the terrific website and this "blow by blow" account of Tiger vs Rocco...


Saturday, June 14, 2008

Tiger = Terrific!

Yes, it can sometimes be boring to watch a tournament in which Tiger Woods is competing as he seemingly always wins. Truth of the matter is though that he doesn't always win - he came in second in the Masters this year and due to injury he didn't play in the Players Championship or Memorial tournaments. Playing with an obvious hobble and wretching in pain with every shot hit with his driver, just him being out and playing at the U.S. Open was a remarkable accomplishment. After shooting a 30 on his final nine holes yesterday, he was only a shot off the lead at 2-under par at the midway point.

Today, Tiger struggled mightily all day to get the ball in the fairway, double-bogeying the first hole for the second time in three days. Through 12 holes, he was three strokes over par for round, and 1-over par for the tournament. With six holes left to play, he was five strokes behind Rocco Mediate who had gotten to 4-under par. And then came the Tiger Show: Part 74...

On the par-5 13th hole, another wayward drive somehow found a good lie on the rough that had been trampled down by the gallery. His second shot found the back fringe of the green some 65 feet away. Tiger rolled the long, right-to-left curling putt with a deft touch... as it approached the hole, it looked to have a chance. Sure enough it found the bottom of the cup. A bogey by Mediate on the same hole minutes later trimmed the margin to two strokes. A wayward drive by Tiger on 14 led to a bogey, to put him back down three. Mediate would stumble again on 15, with a double bogey that would cost him the lead. At one under par, he now was a stroke behind the steady Lee Westwood who made two birdies, a bogey and 15 pars in his round. With these developments, Tiger was still two strokes back. Mediate would bogey 16 to drop to even par. Suddenly, Westwood was the only player left in the field who was under par.

Tiger parred both 15 and 16, and then hit his tee shot into the left rough on 17. His approach to the green was well short, leaving him a tricky pitch from an awkward lie. Tiger hit his shot, and it looked right away like he hit it too hard. The ball landed only a few feet from the hole, bounced in the air and then on it's way down glanced off the flagstick and into to the cup for an improbable birdie. Westwood was being interviewed by NBC at the time, and the interviewer told him he was the only player under par and started to ask him about what it would be like to be the leader going into the final round of a major. The interviewer had to correct himself as word reached him that Tiger had birdied 17 to get to 1-under.

On the par-5 18th, Tiger was simply trying to do one thing: hit the fairway. Since he had been slicing his shots most of the day, he figured he would just play the slice with both his tee and approach shots. He grimaced in pain after hitting both shots, but as his approach stopped some 35 feet above the cup, you almost knew what was going to happen. Tiger hit the put well left of where announcer Johnny Miller seemed to think it should be hit. Nonetheless, the ball started tracking towards the hole... and once again found the bottom for another eagle! Tiger was finally in familiar territory: in the lead going into the final round of a major! If you didn't see it happening for yourself, you probably have believed it. Then again, with Tiger we've come to expect the unexpected. Three of the most amazing shots that I've EVER seen in the space of six holes. WOW!


Friday, June 13, 2008

R.I.P. Tim Russert

As I found out about Tim Russert's passing earlier today, I was both saddened and shocked. At times he almost seemed bigger than life when he covered politics, but it was just Tim being Tim. There was no one in the news business who worked harder, or had the passion for politics as he did. A man of great fairness and integrity, a family man, a true gentleman. In this age of media bias, he was someone that you could truly trust. Someone who was universally loved no matter what your political leanings are. He was a role model for everyone. No one did it better, and I doubt I will see anyone again in my lifetime who ever cover politics the way did. Rest in peace, Tim. You are already missed!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

You Be Illin'...

I guess it was appropriate that I had a cold while the Lakers blew a 24 POINT LEAD tonight in game 4 of the NBA Finals at Staples Center against the soon-to-be World Champion Boston Celtics. I be illin'... the other Lakers fans be illin'... the whole city of L.A. be illin'... and no, the officials didn't have anything to do with it... it was Christmas in June here tonight. :(


Under the Weather...

Yes, I've somehow managed to catch a cold. :( My throat was a little on the scratchy side yesterday, but I went through the whole denial thing anyways even going to the gym after work and doing a full workout. I got through my full workout (my first one in 16 days) with no problems other than slightly tweaking my right calf doing leg curls... Anyways, hopefully this cold will be a short-lived one.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

It's Good To Be King...

... Yes, I seem to be stuck in Tom Petty's Playback mode at the moment when it comes to blog titles, but once again his song title fits the bill for what's on my mind...

My two favorite songs out at the moment are doing quite well. One (Leona Lewis' "Bleeding Love" is ruling the Pop and Hot AC charts, while the other (Carrie Underwood's "Last Name") is on top of the Country chart... Yes, my two favorite songs at the moment are king (or could it be queen) on THREE of the major music charts at the moment! And heck even my Lakers managed to win by an 87-81 score despite being at a 3-man disadvantage again last night against the Celtics. After my utter frustration with the officiating of the first two games of the series, I decided I wasn't going to watch the game, and I held pretty true to my little boycott, as I only watched the last two minutes or so... instead, I split time between watching the Cubs/Braves, Angels/Devil Rays and Dodgers/Padres baseball games. The highlight of the night for me? Geovany Soto smashing a three-run homer for the Cubs in their victory... yes, I was rooting for the Braves, but when push comes to shove I just have to root for my fantasy players. Since Soto is on three of my five most important teams, I was STOKED when the ball cleared the fence in the bottom of the 8th inning at Wrigley Field, pumping my fist and yelling "YES!" at the T.V. set. FYI, the Cubs won the game 10-5.


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

From The Donaghy Files...

"The Celtics/Lakers series is like a hockey game where one team is on a power play the entire duration of the game!!!"


Carrie Scores 7th Straight #1!

It was a week ago today that I was at the Grand Ole Opry getting ready for Carrie Underwood's fanclub party. Well, this morning there is more cause for celebration in "Carrie World" as her latest single, "Last Name" has ascended to the #1 spot on the Mediabase Country chart as of this morning. Assuming she can hang onto the top spot until Sunday afternoon when the charts become official, it will be her seventh straight number one hit. Congratulations to Carrie on yet another amazing achievement! Here are the actual numbers:

lw TW Artist Title TW lw Move Est Aud
3 1 CARRIE UNDERWOOD Last Name 4509 4180 329 34.629
1 2 BRAD PAISLEY I'm Still A Guy 4552 4925 -373 34.954
2 3 RASCAL FLATTS Every Day 4462 4396 66 34.220
5 4 KENNY CHESNEY Better As A Memory 4260 4081 179 31.802
7 5 BLAKE SHELTON Home 4050 3707 343 29.459


Monday, June 9, 2008

Free Fallin'...

... and no, that isn't the sound of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers playing his huge classic on my PC... rather, that is what has happened to my fantasy baseball teams over the past couple of weeks. Before I went on my little vacation to Washington D.C. and Nashville, four of my five CBS Sportsline teams were in the top four positions, with a couple of them being in second place... With free internet access at both the Best Western hotel I stayed in while in our nation's capital and at the fabulous Radisson Opryland hotel I stayed in while in Nashville, I figured I wouldn't have much trouble managing my teams. And actually, I did quite the nice job with my roster moves, most especially reacquiring Derek Lowe of the Dodgers in four of my five leagues and riding his two wins last week and also getting Jonathan Sanchez of the Giants and getting his two wins in a couple of leagues.

Unfortunately for me, the Lowe and Sanchez pickups were the only things that seemed to go right in my leagues while I was away from California. "Big Papi" went on the DL on June 3rd with an injured wrist. He could be gone for the season. As is, he's out for at least a month... I have him on two of my teams. The next night, Carlos Pena broke his finger. He's out for six weeks. I had him on three of my teams. The following night Rick Ankiel is mysteriously missing from my lineups for a second consecutive day... he's now missed a full week. Ankiel was on three of my teams as well. For the week, the three combined to play in two games, getting two hits in six at bats, with a home run, three RBI's a run and a steal. When you figure your average player is going to get you 25 at bats a week, you can see just how much of a hole this put me in for the week... I also got Ryan Zimmerman's goose egg in a league last week. Taken as a sum, I was missing nearly 14% of my offense combined in those four leagues.

Now you probably know the reason for the "Free Fallin'" title... as I type this at 7:00 PM on 6/9/08, I have NO TEAMS in the top four positions!!! Since these are all money leagues that I'm talking about, this is pretty disheartening. If you win the league, you get the big cash prize. You get nothing for coming in second. Just two weeks ago, my teams were tracking very nicely. Today, I am scrambling to replace injured players and make something of my teams that are suddenly resembling M*A*S*H units! Perhaps the Beatles classic "HELP!" may me the next song title I use in describing the plight of my fantasy baseball teams... though I'd prefer to keep on "Running Down A Dream" of winning at least one of these leagues...


Leona Spends Week #8 on Top!

It's been almost six months now since I happened to stumble upon the song "Bleeding Love" by Leona Lewis on a MySpace page... hooked from the first listen, I knew the song was destined for some big things here in America... About three months ago, I made a bold prediction that the song would spend seven weeks on top of the pop airplay charts. Well, it appears that my prediction wasn't bold enough as "Bleeding Love" just spent it's eighth consecutive week on top of the pop chart!!! With a lead of nearly 2,000 spins over the next song, it appears Leona's a safe bet for at least one more week at the top, though I'd really LOVE to see her get to double digits... The latest numbers courtesy of Mediabase:

T L ARTIST Title Spins TW LW +/- Est. Audience
1 1 LEONA LEWIS Bleeding Love 10664 10672 -8 71.321
4 2 RIHANNA Take A Bow 8738 7623 1115 55.244
2 3 RAY J/YUNG BERG Sexy Can I 7784 8134 -350 47.637
3 4 USHER Love In This Club f/... 7494 8050 -556 48.501
7 5 LIL WAYNE Lollipop f/Static Ma... 6960 6573 387 43.376
5 6 JORDIN SPARKS No Air f/Chris Brown 6806 7428 -622 43.864
8 7 DANITY KANE Damaged 6481 6169 312 51.132
9 8 JESSE MCCARTNEY Leavin' 6254 5562 692 36.002
6 9 MADONNA 4 Minutes 6020 6757 -737 37.580
10 10 NATASHA BEDINGFIELD Pocketful Of S... 5919 5199 720 33.407


Sunday, June 8, 2008

Celtics 38, Lakers 10...

... and no, that wasn't the final score of Game 2 of the NBA Finals tonight in Boston, that was the free-throw disparity. Despite being perhaps the worst officiated game I've ever witnessed, the Los Angeles Lakers almost pulled it out tonight, trimming a 24 point deficit down to just two points at 104-102 with 38 seconds to play. The Celtics would score the final four points of the game to win 108-102 and take a commanding two games to none lead over the Lakers in the best-of-seven series. The Lakers made all ten of their foul shots on the night, while the Celtics made 27 of their 38 attempts. How does one team shoot 28 MORE FREE THROWS than the other? How many officials were betting on tonights game? I wonder...

I really don't have much else to say other than I am more convinced than ever now that Tim Donaghy was only the tip of the iceberg in the NBA Gambling Scandal and that NBA Commissioner David Stern needs to be replaced ASAP!


On a happier note, I've got all of my pictures from my Nashville and DC trips loaded into my DC and I'll start posting them tomorrow...


Back From Nashville

Well, I am finally back from my almost week-long trip to Nashville and let me tell you I had a BLAST! Lots of pictures and blogs to come detailing my daily adventures as time permits.


Wednesday, June 4, 2008

City of Hope Celebrity Softball Game

Tuesday in Nashville indeed was quite the highlight. Wednesday was definitely going to be a highlight in it's own right I went to see the 18th annual City of Hope Celebrity Softball Challenge. The main attraction for us Carrie fans of course was Miss Underwood, but there were many other great acts and celebrities there. Carrie's teammates on the "Opry Live" team included Vince Gill, Phil Vassar, Danielle Peck, Luke Bryan, Chris Cagle and the Tennessee Titans kicker Rob Bironas - he of the NFL record EIGHT field goals in one game and also owner of a game winning 60-yard field goal to beat the Indianapolis Colts two seasons ago. The opposing team representing After Midnite with Blair Garner included Montgomery Gentry, Sara Evans, James Otto, Keith Anderson, Jake Owen, Chuck Wicks, Joe Nichols, Jamey Johnson and ace pitcher Jo Dee Messina. The game was played in the most sweltering conditions I had experienced yet in Nashville 95 degrees and very high humidity. It was a good thing I bought a 12 ounce container of ice to go with my 20 ounce Pepsi!

The game got off to a rocky start for the After Midnite team as Messina walked Carrie on four pitches to lead off the game. From there though, things ALL went their way though as they romped to a 7-0 lead, before settling for a 7-1 victory.

Opry pitcher Vince Gill was pounded by the After Midnite team, and the Opry offense could never mount a serious offense against Messina's baffling array of pitches.

Of course there was a lot of fun & banter throughout the game. And while she did get on base a couple of times, the funniest moment involving Carrie was when she took a super soaker and cooled off Jake Owen on the opposing team! :)

Carrie boasted of having an "illegal bat" which she was going to use to inflict some damage. And she did use that "Louisville Slugger" of hers to good effect in this at bat, standing proudly on first after rapping a clean single!

A fun time was definitely had by all of those who braved the heat and humidity and attended! After sweltering in the heat, most of us headed back to Opryland and/or our hotels - whereever there was some nice AC!


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Tuesday Night Opry featuring Carrie Underwood

I got back to the Radisson from lunch with my friends a little after 3:15 in the afternoon, and took the time to just relax. And I mean RELAX! First I took a dip in the pool and then got into the hot sauna. I spent about about a half hour in the sauna and let me tell you it felt sooooo good! Did I mention I was very well taken care of at the Radisson?

Anyways, the Grand Ole Opry again was the place to be. The 7 p.m. hour featured the legendary Jimmie Dickens and Bill Anderson along with Elizabeth Cook and John Conlee. While the first hour of Tuesday Night Opry was indeed very good, most of the people were there for the 8 p.m. hour which featured Carrie Underwood, Montgomery Gentry, the Oak Ridge Boys and Luke Bryan.

At 8 o'clock sharp, Carrie (above) took the stage and launched into "Flat On The Floor" from her current album. Then came Montgomery Gentry (right). They're a group I've wanted to see for sometime in concert, but up until that moment never had. They started off with their anthem and one of my personal favorites, the rebellious "What Do Ya Think About That." Then came the legendary group the Oak Ridge Boys (left). Of course, the sell-out crowd of 4,400 went wild when they played their huge crossover hit "Elvira" and then "The Baptism of Jesse Taylor." Believe it or not, their first hit was over 30 years ago. My how time flies.

Montgomery Gentry made a second appearence and played their huge #1 Country hit "Lucky Man" and another of their hits. Yes, I was TOTALLY bummed when the Bengals lost too!

Carrie made her second appearance, singing a two song set of "I Know You Won't" and and yet another rousing rendition of her current hit single "Last Name." It's definitely looking like the appeal of this song is very much like "Before He Cheats" off the Some Hearts album. Up and coming star Luke Bryan (below) came next and did his top 5 hit single, "All My Friends Say" and the title track of his "I'll Stay Me" album.

Carrie came out a third time and closed the hour out with "The More Boys I Meet." And with that the show was over, but what a bunch of great music we all heard and enjoyed! Believe it or not, there was a second Tuesday Night Opry show happening due to overwhelming demand that night... featuring all of the above acts sans the Oak Ridge Boys but adding Jack Greene. No, I didn't go. I needed to rest up for another event happening the next day - the City of Hope celebrity softball game.

Carrie Underwood Fanclub Party!

To presumably no one's surprise, I did not get a good night's sleep the night before Carrie Underwood's second annual fanclub party. A little before 6 a.m. I was wide awake, so I was up and out of bed. After using the hotel computers to post the latest chart information on Carrie's official site, I was off to the Grand Ole Opry at 7:45 a.m. where the party was being held. I met up with my friends Jen (at left with me), Val and others from the fanclub as I arrived a little before 8:15 a.m. The party wasn't scheduled to start until 10 a.m., so we had a lot of time to wait. All of us had a good time just hanging out and waiting for the doors to open.

Things ran a little behind schedule, and we made the mad dash for the best seats available when the doors to the Opry opened a little after 10:30 a.m. Jen, Val and the rest of the group managed to get third row seats just to the left of the center...
We waited another hour or so for her to come out. Of course, the 600 or so of us that were there went wild she made her first appearance! Carrie led off things with "Twisted" and "Get Out Of This Town" off her Carnival Ride album. Then she gave us a treat as she sang "The Night Before (Life Goes On)" from her first CD. Carrie was very animated as she sang "The More Boys I Meet." She then broke into her second number one hit "Don't Forget To Remember Me." She reached the midway point of the set with a terrific cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Go Your Own Way."

Carrie then launched into her first number one hit, "Jesus, Take The Wheel." "You Won't Find This" and "Crazy Dreams" off her current album were next. Following was her great cover of George Michael's "Praying For Time" which she first sang on the American Idol Gives Back show. Carrie closed out things with her future #1 hit "Last Name." She gave us 11 songs total - six more than last year!

About an hour into the party, Carrie brought her wonderful Mom Carole (pictured left) up on stage. They bantered for several minutes, giving all of us some good laughs. One thing Carrie also brought up a lot was the weather. She said that they always seemed to run into bad weather when shooting her videos. We all got a good kick out of that especially given how hot and humid it was there in Nashville.

Carrie and Matt (pictured at right) closed things out by having a raffle of different prizes including autographed CD's, shirts, fanclub memberships and even iPod's! I was one of the lucky winners, getting a free year membership in the fanclub. My friend Jen did even better, winning one of the iPod's filled with all of Carrie's songs! One lucky winner even won an all-expense paid trip to see Carrie in concert in New Orleans!

After the raffle was finished, the party pretty much was over. Carrie stayed on the stage for a few more minutes, giving everyone a chance to get some real nice close-ups!

The party ended a little after 1:15 p.m. and after picking up our dated new fanclub t-shirts (brown for men, pink for women) which said "I partied with Carrie at the Opry House," 14 of us got together and had a nice lunch over at the Rainforest Cafe. The amazing thing about our group was that everyone was from a different state. From California to Massachusetts and Maine and everywhere in between, it was truly a diverse group! After lunch, we all went our separate ways, knowing we'd be in Carrie's and each other's presence again later that night as Carrie took the stage at the Grand Ole Opry. The party once again was a truly incredibly fun and happy experience for everyone in attendance, and I hope to get to go again next year!


Monday, June 2, 2008

Arriving In Nashville

I awoke early (5:30 am) today during the last morning of my stay in Washington D.C. and packed my bags for my trip to Nashville. After checking out of my hotel at 7 a.m., I took care of posting the latest chart information on Carrie Underwood's "Last Name" on the official fanclub site a little before 7:20 a.m. I then took the half-mile or so walk to the Navy Yard Metro Station where I took the Metro to Ronald Reagan International Airport.

My flight out of Reagan was good, and after another short stay in Detroit's Wayne County International Airport, I was off to Nashville. My plane arrived in Nashville right on time a little before 12:40 pm... After grabbing a quick bite to eat (a whole slice of pizza and water), I called the Radisson Opryland Hotel where I was staying to check on shuttle rates. In the absolute crazy-busyness in the week which led up to my trip I simply didn't have time to book a shuttle or look into rates. And I wasn't going to rent a car... Did I mention I had all of TWO HOURS to pack for my trip??? Anyways, The $28 one-way fare they were charging was a little pricey for me, so I decided to check into other modes of transport and found I could get a roundtrip ticket through SuperShuttle for only $25. So I booked my shuttle, and a little after 1:45 pm I was at the hotel.

Hotel check-in was not until 3 p.m., but from the moment I stepped in the door at the Radisson I felt very welcome. I was greeted with a smile, and was even allowed to check into my room over an hour early! What really made my day though was that they had free internet there. So, I'd be able to keep in touch with family and friends and manage my fantasy baseball teams just as I did in D.C. Yes, I was set and VERY happy with my accomodations in Nashville! Did I mention I was going to have a Carrie Underwood encounter (or two) the next day???!!!


2008 Miss DC Pageant

I attended the Miss DC pageant on Saturday night at the historic Lincoln Theater. A great time was had by all, and the attendance at this year's pageant definitely dwarfed last year's. The winners (for those of you who didn't attend the pageant) were Kate Marie Grinold (yes, another Kate) in the Miss portion and Jasmine Alexis in the Teen portion. Jasmine also won the teen portion of last year's 2007 Miss DC USA pageant. Congratulations to Kate and Jasmine on their wins!

Lynn Keegan of HGTV's Design To Sell was the main host of the pageant, but he got help from several other former Miss DC's including 1997 Miss DC Sonya Gavankar, 2004 Miss DC Therese Lizardo, 2005 Miss DC Shannon Schambeau-Patterson, and my friend 2006 Miss DC, Kate Michael.

Before, during and after the pageant, I spent some time with several friends and acquaintances I had previously met at last year's pageant and also at last year's 2007 Miss DC USA pageant. I spent some time during the intermission with Kate Michael who did a very nice rundown of the pageant on her K Street Kate blog. I also got to talk to "Sabbatical Sonya" a bit during the intermission about her blog - I had to confess I hadn't read it in a while due to my own busyness - but Sonya, I'm now playing catch up! I also spent some time with the 2007 DC National Sweetheart representative Michelle Crosby before and after the pageant. I had previously met Michelle last year at the 2007 Miss DC USA pageant. After the pageant I ran into the 2007 Miss Teen D.C., LaTonya "L.A." Abrams who I first met last year at the 2007 Miss DC day at the Nationals.

I also spent a good deal of time after the pageant with two of the people behind the scenes at the Miss District of Columbia organization who do some remarkable work in organizing the pageant each year and who make sure everything flows smoothly. Teri Galvez, the executive director of the Miss DC board and 1988 Miss DC, Tricia Morrin-Lloyd who is the President of the Miss DC organization's board. Both Teri and Tricia are tireless in their efforts to help promote the pageant and to help it create women that are truly great representatives of the district. I definitely enjoyed my time there and having the chance to talk to some of the most outstanding women in the Washington DC community!

One last shot here, post pageant... Miss DC runner-up Jennifer Corey as she leaves the Lincoln Theatre. Didn't she look absolutely STUNNING in her dress???!!! I was really thinking she was going to win, but she lost what had to be an extremely close race with Kate as the two of them pretty much swept the individual awards, and even tied for two of them! I do think though that 2009 just might be her year!