Sunday, May 30, 2010

Parisian Palace: Sans cracks

In the home-improvement issue of Mankato Magazine a few months ago, I wrote an essay about my first-time homeownership experience. I talked about being single, without any handyman skills, and taking on the upgrades of a 130-year-old home in Old Town.

Mostly, I had success stories: putting in my own sod, landscaping, refinishing floors, renovating a bathroom, putting up a tile backsplash, etc. But the story in my essay that seemed to stick out the most for people was when I wrote about my master bedroom. I moved into a room with wood-paneled walls, no molding along the floor, and old carpeting with stuck-on tiles underneath, not to mention the golf clubs for curtain rods. Anyhow, all went well in the renovations, clear to the floor. But one thing did not go well. I plastered over the wood paneling, hoping to find an inexpensive way to refinish the walls without putting up drywall. However, I did not realize that any time you plaster over a wood product, the plaster will crack. The wood contracts and expands with the humidity and temperature, resulting in floor to ceiling cracks around my bedroom, making it appear like a circus tent, cut up into strips.

Anyway, I got e-mails and calls and even people I bumped into asking me how it turned out. Did I solve the crack mystery after trying so many times to patch it with caulk and joint compound, all to no avail?

Well, as a matter of fact, I think I did. I am in no way endorsing this method for people who want to do home improvement the right way. But in desperation for anything to work, I used double-stick Scotch tape along the length of each crack and plastered over it one more time, hoping the crack underneath would expand and retract as needed behind the tape and not on the surface. And you know what? That seems to be what's happening. For a few months now, I've had absolutely no cracks, and I've been so confident they won't come back, that I repainted the room. I think this is it, folks.

I've posted pictures of what I now deemed to be my FINALLY FINISHED bedroom. Only took 18 months to solve, but it's over. I call it my Parisian Palace, sans cracks.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

"Sex" in the desert is DISGUSTING

Well, I went to "Sex and the City 2" as promised, and I actually felt sorry for the four women on the screen who I had once admired. Insulting to women, abhorrently insensitive to Muslims and just plain silly and boring throughout.

Musical numbers with Liza Minnelli and the girls singing a karaoke version of "I am Woman"? Carrie's former boyfriend Aiden shows up halfway around the world, just where she is, so he can add to the Big problem? (Yes, ANOTHER Big problem.) I think, worst of all, was the film's view on Middle Easterners. There's a scene where a group of women remove their burkas to reveal New York designer fashion underneath, because clearly the modesty of their culture must be a myth and that all women MUST be as shallow and wealthy as they are to care about such things. Although rivaling this moment for "worst of all," was Samantha's insistance on insulting the Abu Dhabi people by dressing scantily and engaging in blatantly sexual conduct in public. This movie made a joke of a major reason people in this area of the world hate us: Because Americans think we can go anywhere, do anything and say anything we want and nobody can touch us. We are the supreme beings, and everyone with different world views should watch and learn. ...Makes me sick.

I'm honestly disgusted. I hate that such a piece of trash could sour the series a bit for me. If there's a third film, and I honestly hope there is not, consider me "dead inside," as Lauren Graham said. I won't be there.

Here's a good review that sums up what I was thinking the entire time.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Another "Idol" letdown; I'm out

"American Idol" season finale: Bloated, ridiculous, WRONG.
What the ... ? If anyone was convinced otherwise, it's clear that singing and performance ability don't have a whole lot to do with how people vote. Lee sang three songs Tuesday that were sub-par, and the judges told him as much. Crystal sang three songs that blew him away, and the judges told her as much. And then, Wednesday night we wade through two hours of silly guest stars (OK, Janet was pretty cool), doing collaborations with kicked-off "Idol" contestants, only to learn that YET AGAIN America chose POORLY.

Remember last year? Everybody had Adam Lambert pegged early on as the winner? And then this quiet nobody takes top prize? Do you even remember his name? He has had one hit, but it's nothing I'm going to be thinking about for very long.

Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, I'm done. DONE, DONE, DONE. I'm not watching next year. I'm boycotting this ridiculous show!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Another Meet the Band baby has been born

Curious which band is the latest to join The Free Press Meet the Band series? Does it keep you up at night with anticipation? If you have to wait even one more second, are you sure your held will explode? The wait is over. Click here and read all about it.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Perfect storm for reality TV

It was the perfect television storm tonight (Tuesday): "Biggest Loser" finale, "Dancing With the Stars" finale, and the final performances of "American Idol" contestants Crystal and Lee. I had to do some serious flipping to make sure I didn't miss big moments.

Mike, once 526 pounds, shed 264 pounds to become "The Biggest Loser." But the two main events for me were "Idol" and "DWTS." My Erin Andrews didn't win, sadly. She came in third. The front-runner all season ended up winning: Nicole from the Pussycat Dolls. She beat out Evan Lysacek for the coveted mirrorball trophy.

And if people vote by performance alone, then the front-runner all season for "Idol" will definitely be the big winner Wednesday night. Crystal Bowersox absolutely blew away Lee Dewyze during the finals tonight. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: If Mama Sox doesn't take it home, I'm boycotting next season. You better bring it, America. Mama Sox or bust.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Tonight's the night: The freestyle is on

You haven't been watching the 10th season of "Dancing With the Stars"? Really? So you're the one ... Well, you've missed quite a season. Finally, FINALLY, we've had stars, actual stars on the show. Pam Anderson, Kate Gosselin, the CURRENT "Bachelor," not one from several seasons ago who nobody cares about anymore.

However, it's the somewhat lesser known of the group who have made it to the end, having wowed us the whole way.

Tonight (Monday, 5/24), Nicole Scherzinger and Derek Hough, Erin Andrews and Maksim Chmerkovskiy, and Evan Lysacek and Anna Trebunskaya will dance their final two dances for the judges and America's votes to go on to win the coveted mirror ball trophy Tuesday night.

Even if you haven't been following the season, there's no reason you can't tune into this most exciting of "DWTS" nights. It's when the couples have the chance to go completely off the grid and dance the freestyle, combining any style of dance to any style of music and using any number of lifts and jumps and maneuvers that normally would be illegal in ballroom. As many winning couples of seasons past can attest, the freestyle is what wins it or loses it.

Tonight. 7 p.m. ABC. Be there.

P.S. My vote is for Erin Andrews.

"Sex" in the desert? Doesn't sound fun to me.

A couple of weeks ago I was watching NBC's "Parenthood" (mostly because I'm not willing to let Lauren Graham slip out of my life just yet) and the subject of the new "Sex and the City" movie came up, with someone asking Graham's character if she was going. "Well, of course, I'm not dead inside," she said.

Hilarious, and oh-so true. "Sex" was a beloved Sunday night EVENT for many, many women, and when it was gone, it was the end of an era -- an end to millions of women's relationships with four women we grew to love. When the movie came out, I was pretty excited. ...

Then I saw the movie. It wasn't the same. Sure, it was the girls. But the script was awful. Did we really need another fight with Big? Really? We're talking about recycling six seasons YET AGAIN to make that script. There was nothing new or groundbreaking. I was disappointed.

This time around, I'm actually afraid for the opposite reason. I might just get what I want, and now I'm not sure I want it. The girls are taking a trip to the Middle East. ...Why? Good question. It seems Samantha got an all-expense paid trip for the group. It just seems so very silly and not very likely at all for them to spend an entire movie there. I'd much rather see my girls in New York and have the writers earn their paychecks by coming up with something new and different to happen to them on their home turf.

Of course, none of this will stop me from being there on opening day. Like Lauren said, I'm not dead inside.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Casey's gone, sniff sniff

I was a big Casey fan for the past few weeks on "American Idol." I always appreciate it when the contestants are really great musicians on top of being good singers. He's got a soulful way about him and is nothing like the kind of "Idol" contestant I absolutely can't stand: pop teens. David Archu-whatever is an example.

So I was sad to see Casey go. Wasn't it sweet when he picked up that little girl and sang with her on his lap? Awwwww. Any other year, I think he easily could have made it to the finals. But the competition was incredible this year. I still remain firm on one thing: If Mama Sox doesn't win, I'm boycotting next season. She's dominated all year.

Lee is definitely "most improved" of the season. He was forgettable and just kind of OK for a long time. But the last couple of weeks, when it's really counted, he's stepped up his game. Tuesday's "Hallelujah" was pretty incredible. Although, I think that song makes ANYONE sound pretty damn good, because it's an incredible song.

Until next week! Go Mama Sox!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Check out the latest Meet the Band member

The Five Count House Band is the latest group to join The Free Press Meet the Band family. The trio started by performing music on their KMSU Radio show "The Five Count" and are now looking to branch out to actual gigs with actual audiences. Dun, dun, dunnnn.

Read all about 'em at ...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Trump's hairline revealed!

Leave it to Ryan Seacrest, the man who doesn't sleep in the entertainment world, to get to the bottom of the great Donald Trump hair mystery. Seriously, don't try and tell me you haven't spent minutes of your life pondering what's under that hairsprayed combover.

For me, I assumed he had a huge bald spot caused by a deep receding hairline and that the flop of red hair on top of his head was from a very long piece folded over from the back of his head. Not so. I SAW the hairline, and it was where it's supposed to be -- just above the forehead. I know, unbelievable. Here's proof:

"Twilight" kids on Oprah

The countdown to "Eclipse" is underway. I never thought I'd see "Twilight" on Oprah, but I guess I was wrong on that. For all you Twihards, here are a few clips from the interview.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Kill Switch calls it quits

When you think of Mankato bands, there are a core group that come to mind. They’re the ones who have been plugging away at this music thing, playing any bar or club that will have them, to satisfy a core fan base that has grown over the years, but also to continue to grow as musicians and attract new listeners.

These hard-working musicians definitely have to love what they do. And, certainly, metal band Kill Switch — which has been at the helm of Mankato’s metal scene since 1998 — has loved it for the past 12 years.

“We have been holding down the heavy side of things in this town for about 10 years,” said Dan Wiechert of the band. “We’ve had the pleasure of playing an arena show — not very many bands of our stature can say that.”

But, there comes a time for every band when it’s time to move on. Kill Switch will perform its last gig Saturday night (5/8) at Midtown Tavern. And if you’ve never been to a show, now’s definitely the time to see what you’ve been missing. For those of you who have taken in a Kill Switch show, now’s the time to be reminded of what you will miss.

Guitarist Mark Bassett and drummer Jeremy Bode formed the band in 1998 after playing in a series of cover bands. Bassist Ben Jacobson was added in 1999, rhythm guitarist Mark Holman joined in 2000 and vocalist Danny Wiechert joined in 2005.

Kill Switch has prided itself on playing “skull-crushing, riff-oriented, groove-induced power-metal” over the years and call themselves “pure metalists” when describing their music.

Recordings have included demo CDs “Beta 1.0” and “Beta 2.0,” as well as 2004’s “What Doesn’t Kill Us ... ” and 2008’s “The Disaster Image.” They’ve opened for Drowning Pool, Saliva and American Head Charge.

Truly, a Mankato music scene success story.

Revilwen, Avado, The Hot Rod Heaters (featuring Bassett of Kill Switch) and Angry Waters (featuring Wiechert of Kill Switch) will also perform Saturday at Midtown.

Do right by mom this Mother's Day

I think we all can agree, "Mom" is a special lady. So let's do right by her this Sunday. Some guys are notorious for rotten Mother's Day gifts. So if you don't have a significant other to shop for you, read this article for things to avoid doing. I found myself nodding my head the whole time reading.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

We want your pet stories

Pets on Parade, a blog dedicated to your funny and cutesy pet stories, just went live. Check it out at and be sure to submit your pet pics and stories.