Thursday, February 28, 2008

American Idol: Top 10 Men!

Troy and I didn't blog about the top 12 women last week, because we were so meh about their performances, we couldn't drum up enough energy to lift our listless heads off our couch cushions and snark. So, we'll have a brief interlude about the women's performances last week to start off, and then we'll launch into the men's performances from Tuesday night.

Troy, how sucktastic was the women's night last week? I think I accidentally slipped into a coma after the biker nurse.

TROY: The women weren’t as bad as they were just…BORING (save for Amy Davis who seemed to be having an allergic reaction to hitting right notes). There are two or three that stood out, but other than that…yeesh.

TRACY: I'm just glad that they're done with the 60s now, so maybe that theme will not come back. Ever. Because obviously these 20-somethings are too young to know that decade's oeuvre (Excellent word alert!) well enough to cherry-pick decent songs.

TROY: I normally don’t mind the 60s theme, but you’re right: these contestants siz-ucked at song choice. Pick Ray Charles! The Beatles! ANYTHING better than “Where the Boys Are” and “Groovy Kind of Love.” ZzzZzzzzZ…

TRACY: Here's who I loved: I ADORE Amanda Overmeyer, aka "the biker nurse." First of all, I would KILL to have a raspy, Joplin-esque voice like hers. (I would not, however, smoke the pack a day it probably requires to sound like that, given that I find cigarettes aggravating in every way.)

I'm awfully glad SHE does, though, because her voice is FUN, and she killed with "Baby, Please Don't Go." For a moment, I forgot I was on my couch watching TV and was momentarily transported to a smoke-filled dive bar in Baton Rouge. (Most likely fending off all the leprechauns that truddled over to hit on me because I was the only woman shorter than they are in the place. Let's just take a moment enjoy the fact that I haven't done the bar scene in years.)

Girlfriend can SING, and I'm not ready to pronounce her a one-note wonder yet, like some of the haters out there. I bet she would still rule with a slower-tempo song like "Landslide" or "Mercedes Benz."

TROY: I like Amanda, but I hate how “over it” she acts. Listen lady, you’re on “American Idol.” If you think you’re better than it, then you should go audition for “Rock Star” or –ha- “Rock of Love.” Until then, plaster on that fake smile, wave your spirit fingers, and pretend you really REALLY enjoy singing “C’Mon Get Happy” with the rest of the AI lot.

That said, she has a really unique voice and is definitely refreshing compared to the Pollyannas in this competition. I get a little worried about the Exorcist-eque trance she goes into during her performances and about the giant dead skunk needs to be removed from her head. Still, she’s my favorite female in the competition (probably because I tend to gravitate toward the crazy ones in reality shows--I’m looking at you Omarosa and The Bachelor’s Trish).

TRACY: My other favorite was Alexandrea Lushington. Sure, she had a few missed notes, and you could hear a definite break where her head voice ran out and her falsetto began. But how cute was she in her suspenders? She picked a good song, she has a nice voice, and she's a great performer.

TROY: I thought Alexandrea was okay, dawg. Nothing really stood out as “favorite” material to me, but she has a nice voice and a sunny disposition. I’d put her in the next category.

TRACY: In my personal good-but-not-yet-great category were A'siah (Asi'ah? Asia'h? Where the hell does that apostrophe go?) Epperson and Syesha Mercado.

Syesha seems sweet, but her Tobacco Road suffered in comparison with Phil Stacey. PHIL STACEY, people. Syesha, you're talented, but pick something original next time.

TROY: You remember a Phil Stacey performance? Wow…

TRACY: I KNOW! As for Asia'h ... I've been listening to Janis Joplin's music since I was a wee lass. I love Janis Joplin. Janis Joplin is a rock goddess the likes of which we will never hear again. You, madam, are NO Janis Joplin. Never, ever, EVER put a pop princess spin on a Joplin classic again, unless you want me to find every biker nurse I can and march on Hollywood to protest your egregious defilement of one of the greatest singers EVAH. I do like Asi'ah's unique voice but ... Janis?! Really?!?!

TROY: I can’t really appreciate A’siah’s “Piece of my Heart” either. Only singers like Pink and Melissa Etheridge have the raw voice to cover Janis. As’iah’s version reminded me of something I’d hear on a Kidz Bop CD. Meh.

TRACY: Here's something so snarky, I'm not sure I should type it. But since it came from my husband Jose, here goes: I know the poor thing just lost her dad, and I am glad to see that she managed to come into the competition anyway. We all have different ways of coping with loss, and immersing yourself in something you love is probably a healthy way. But she's a LOT more bubbly than I could imagine being in her shoes. (Good thing our parents are immortal, Troy.)

TROY: (Seriously. They are. Thank God. )

TRACY: When she was talking after her performance--or, more accurately, squeaking and giggling--Jose looked over at me and said in his best approximation of a perky cheerleader staccato, "Hi! My dad's dead! Yay!"

TROY: Hate mail can be sent to: TracyMontoya at

I kid, I kid.

TRACY: I told you it was snarky.

I also find it tacky when Seacrest and the producers try to parlay her dad's loss into votes on her behalf. I do feel bad for her, and I know that no matter how happy she looks on the outside, she's traveling a rough road right now. But it's time to stop the whole Oliver Freaking Twist thing already and let her sink or swim on the merit of her voice, OK, Nigel Lythgoe?

TROY: I’m almost sensing shades of Kellie Pickler here. Remember the mommy and daddy issues that allowed the judges to look past her thin, whispy version of “Since U Been Gone” at the auditions? Remember how you, my sister, CRIED at her story and couldn’t wait for her to move onto the Hollywood round. People love a sob story that turns into success. I think Idol is thinking this is rating’s gold (which it’s not).

TRACY: I did NOT cry. I just got a little farklempt during her audition. I quickly got over it.

Oh, I also liked Ramiele Mabulay, too, although I thought her song choice made her seem old and dull. But she's got a great voice! Jose calls her Ramiele-'Bot--in a good way because she never misses a note.

TROY: Aw, I like Ramiele. She reminds me of Tila Tequila with about 100% less dirrty. She really doesn’t have much of a personality yet, but I really like her voice. I’m hoping she’ll pick some better songs and continue to showcase her voice, which I think could turn out to be a powerhouse.

TRACY: Everyone else, I was just meh about. Last week, I rightly predicted Joanne Borghella and Amy Davis would go home, with Kristy Lee "I-AM-BUGGING-OUT-MY-EYES-AT-YOU-BE-AFRAID" Cook as a possible alternate. But I think the country obviously felt too sorry for her poor, abandoned horse to vote her out just yet.

TROY: Joanne was horrifyingly bad. How do some of these people make it past Hollywood? She wasn’t even good TV! Bring back Nikki McKibbin!

TRACY: Fun Fact: You can't tell Kristy "Screw you and the horse you rode in on," because she SOLD IT.

TROY: Ha. I really do not like Kristy, but I can’t hate on her for selling her horse. Sometimes … you just have to …sell … your … horse (I don’t know where I’m going with that)? Kristy is a one-trick pony (no pun intended) and I’m hoping America sends her packing soon.

TRACY: That was very Paula-esque. So anyway, the men.

Do you like DAVID ARCHULETA yet? He took a big risk doing John Lennon's iconic "Imagine," but I thought he knocked it out of the park. And I loved it when he told Randy why he sang the third verse instead of the first. So! Cute! I! Could! Just! Squeeze! Him!

I think David is the one to beat, at the moment.

TROY: First off … am I going to hell for being reduced to tears of laughter during the YouTube clip of him singing “And I am Telling You” to the first round of AI contestants?

TRACY: No, there was definitely some EZ-Cheez in that video.

TROY: Okay … I really like David. The cynical part of me still thinks the Melinda Doolittle act is fake, but I can’t deny his contagious enthusiasm. He has a tremendous talent, and despite being 16, hasn’t annoyed the hell out of me (I’m looking at you Diana “C’mon ya’ll! Snellville!” DiGarmo). He’s the frontrunner, for sure.

TRACY: Onto my personal favorite, DAVID HERNANDEZ. When the band launched into the waka-waka-waka intro beat of his song, I turned to Jose in horror and wondered aloud if the boy was actually going to perform "Shaft." (!!!!) But fortunately, he'd merely chosen to kick some major ass with "Papa Was a Rolling Stone." Although I love the Temptations, I'm not crazy about that song in general, but David was five kinds of awesome (one for each Temptation). I thought it allowed him to show off the range and power of his voice quite nicely. Now THAT was the way to end a song. Viva la raza! Mi amigo con queso!

TROY: The DAVIDs this year remind me of the EJay, RJ, and AJ debacle of season one. Bleh.

Anyway, unlike you, I lurve “Papa Was a Rolling Stone.” I thought David was fantastic this week. He went from “meh” in my book to “a-meh-zing” (that was terrible--I apologize).

TRACY: :::mental forehead smack:::

TROY: Here’s hoping he can continue the upswing and represent La Raza in better ways than other media figures-- Jessica “Don’t Call me Latina” Alba.

TRACY: Word. Which brings us to the third David, DAVID COOK, whom I also love. I thought David did a fab job with "All Right Now," and I can't wait to see what else he comes up with throughout the competition. It strikes me as hilarious that even with his short hair, doofus sweater vests, and now-public declaration that he's a "word nerd," David can still come off as a "real rocker" and Robbie Carrico cannot.

That's because if you want to sing rock, you need the vocal bombast David Cook has. You need that sandpaper grit in your voice. You need his light and shade. You do not need the lilting tenor of a terrified third-grader with a cold singing "Kumbaya" solo in the church choir.

Do you HEAR THAT, ROBBIE "I'm-a-rocker-no-really!" CARRICO?

TROY: I’m disappointed in you. You didn’t address David Cook’s horrifyingly smug encounter with Simon this week. AWFUL. David went from one of my favorites to someone I hope gets kicked off SOON. I’d almost say it was as bad as Jacuzzi’s meltdown last week in terms of how creepy David was. He glared Simon down as if lasers were going to shoot from his eyes and strike the Brit dead.

My biggest pet peeve is when any contestant talks back to the judges and they are immediately downgraded in my eyes. David-- you’re dead to me.

TRACY: I didn't think he was THAT bad, but yes, he needs to stop it. Now.

Anyhoo, when ::finger-quotes::: "rocker" Robbie launched into "Hot-Blooded," I told Jose that I would only respect him if he took it up an octave and broke into the Foreigner falsetto at the end. He did not, hence, zero respect. Skunky hair, leather cuffs, and terrible kerchiefs do not a rocker make.

"Hot-Blooded" is one of those rockin', feel-good songs that make you want to drop to your knees and air guitar whenever you hear it. All I wanted to do during Robbie's version was swipe my daughter's toy "Wiggles" guitar and drown him out with snippets of "Fruit Salad" and "Play Your Guitar with Murray."

Son, I'm begging you Robbie, for the LOVE of HUMANITY, your voice just won't do the David Covington/Joe Elliott/Axel Rose thing. Give it up, and go sing some Barry Manilow or something. Because this is just starting to become uncomfortable.



I don’t have the seething hatred that you seem to have for Robbie, but, at the same time, ditto? I do think Robbie is a total wannabe desperate to free himself from his no-hit-wonder pop star past. It didn’t work for Ashley Angel, and I’m hoping it won’t work for this faux rocker. His version of “Hot-Blooded” was less than and incredibly monotonous. I’m not getting the appeal at all.

TRACY: I thought DANNY NORIEGA redeemed himself after that awful tantrum he pitched last week. I'm guessing his mother charged backstage, grabbed him by the ear, and gave him a taste of what-for for completely losing his sh*t and embarrassing every Noriega who ever lived, because he was almost sweet last night. Actually, I'll admit, he was totally sweet. (Loved the "ish" dialogue with Simon!)

I do think he has an amazing voice, but he picked the wrong song and we only heard traces of that powerful range last night. Number one, Ruben Studdard blew my hair off with his version of "Superstar," and I swear, you could be Sting himself and you'd suffer in comparison. So, once again, I'm wishing that a contestant would pick something original next show. In fact, DANNY'S the one I would have loved to see do "Hot-Blooded." He would've worked the Foreigner falsetto--or better yet, just sang that higher octave in his chest voice like the badass he is.

TROY: I really didn’t think his “meltdown” last week was that bad, especially compared to Jacuzzi’s Tourette's and David’s smug face this week. However, while Danny has a fantastic voice, his ego is becoming overinflated. He’s definitely one of my favorites (mostly because he is so ridiculous), but I’m hoping he curbs the attitude a little bit and has a little more of that humble pie.

TRACY: You know, I rather liked JASON CASTRO's take on "I Just Wanna Be Your Everything." There aren't many people who can not only modernize an Andy Gibb song, but who make you want to get up and dance to it without jabbing your Saturday-Night-Fever finger all over creation. I think he got shafted by the judges.

TROY: I really liked Jason Castro last week, but I was left a bit cold this time. While I liked the modernization of this song, there were a few too many pitch problems. Jason’s social awkwardness about interviews was funny, but outside of that, he doesn’t seem to have much of a personality.

TRACY: MICHAEL JOHNS sucked. "Go Your Own Way" is an excellent song (and Stevie Nicks is the other goddess of the Church of Rock), but only if the singer doesn't sound like he's giving himself a hernia trying to hit the high notes on the chorus. Poor, poor Lindsay Buckingham probably wanted to shoot himself after that mess--or at least gloat that he's not in any danger of losing his job.

No wonder the back-up singers sounded like they were practically screaming to drown Michael out. But alas, the Dude from Down Under needed more help than even those three uber-talented women could give.

TROY: I was honestly worried for Michael Johns. That boy looked like he was in pain with the veinage in his neck and the red face.

TRACY: Perhaps he just needed some fiber.

TROY: I LOVE that song as well and I’m glad the judges stopped sipping on the Michael Johns sauce long enough to know this was HORRIBLE. It won’t result in him being eliminated this week, but I think there will be some love lost for the Aussie.

TRacY: CHIKEZIE started off amazing. His video was sweet (although who would change the pronunciation of his name just because a few idiots couldn't manage it? Have some pride, man!), and he proved to the world that he belonged in the competition with "I Believe to my Soul." But once again ... the snippy little comments to the judges. He didn't go completely off his nut like he did in his first outing with the top 24, but I still saw traces of last week's Ted Bundy moment there. Maybe he should borrow Danny Noriega's mom and get a grip, if he sticks around.

TRACY: Jacuzzi (No, I don’t want to know your name, sir.) really had an impressive performance this week. However, as mentioned before, after you go off on the judges, you’re dead to me. His Tourette's from last week seems to have calmed a bit, as his comments were more in jest than anger. Still, I’m hoping he goes this week.

TRACY: But the horror show moment of the night goes to *sob* JASON YEAGER, aka The White Tommy. (Last night, Jose decided that if you combined my brother Tommy's DNA with Val Kilmer's, you'd end up with Jason Y.) I thought his "Long Train Running" was kind of sweet, but I guess "kind of sweet" doesn't really cut it when you're up against the likes of David-Cubed. And yeah, that little head-down-elbows-up thing looked a bit ... odd--the only place you need to be practicing that move is at the gym while doing pec flies.

BUT HE LOOKS LIKE OUR BROTHER! (So I voted for him again.)

TROY: STOP. You’re only encouraging him (I am not seeing the Tommy resemblance at all, btw).

TRACY: Jose does. I think you're just being contrary.

TROY: Jason seems like a really nice guy, but this competition is not about being “nice.” He simply does not have a strong enough voice or personality to carry him any further. Jason needs to do something big that will set him apart, and unfortunately the little blonde streak in the front of his hair is not enough (and about 5 years too late).

TRACY: Why, dear God, WHY, after he received a critical drubbing from the judges, did Ryan Seacrest insist on beating his poor, downtrodden pony ad nauseum, ad infinitum? He just wouldn't STOP asking the poor boy uncomfortable questions, and then Jason fell victim to another one of Simon's zingers when it wasn't really his fault that that awful conversation went on and on. That was horrifying judgment on Seacrest's part, and I really wanted to reach through my TV and smack him. (Shut UP already, Seacrest!)

TROY: I did feel bad for him. Jason looked like a wounded puppy and Seacrest kept kicking him. Guess we know who TPTB want to go this week…

TRACY: Forgot LUKE MENARD again. He really sucked.

TROY: He improved upon last week’s Menard Massacre. Is it just me or did the acapella group he is in SUCK? Ick.

TRACY: On the basis of the short snippet they showed, it sucked.

On Thursday, I predict that Jason Yeager will go--although he could drum up a sympathy vote. Luke Menard should go as well, although I wonder if there might be a surprise elimination. If pity for Jason and Luke's hair saves one of them, then perhaps Robbie Carrico will get the boot.

TROY: Jason Yeager is a goner. I think we’ll have one more round of Menard Massacre to go, as he is getting the Antonella Barba vote (pretty people!). My other prediction is Jacuzzi/David Snaps-A-Lot. Talking back to the judges = instant karma boomerang.

TRACY: We all know the top ten is the place to be, and I'm hoping we see the Davids Hernandez, Cook, and Archuleta there, as well as Danny Noriega and Jason Castro. But Michael Johns could either coast in on his looks or genuinely give one of those five some competition if he steps it up, as could Chikezie if he gets a much-needed attitude adjustment.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


There's a tree outside that throws an eerily male-intruder-shaped shadow on my second story office window shade. How creepy is that?

Monday, February 25, 2008

Top Pick!

I was having a grumpy day today--monster headache, house that won't sell, stress on the job, first sighting of a giant, hairy spider inside said house over the weekend, deadline for idiotically proposed freelance article looming. I guess Somebody Up There must've known I needed a boost today, because I got my RT Book Reviews magazine ridiculously early and ... I got a 4 1/2-star Top Pick!

For the uninitiated, RT BookReviews is THE magazine for romance and women's fiction reviews, with a selection of book reviews from other genres like young adult and mainstream suspense/mystery. Some indie bookstores use RT's Top Picks to stock their shelves, but like most review sources, RT's opinions probably mean jack to most readers. That said, 4 1/2 Top Picks are their second-highest rating (beneath the very, VERY rare 5-star review), so it's awfully lovely to get their stamp of approval.

And here I was, holding my breath as I flipped through the magazine and just hoping they hadn't given me a two-star. Heh.

Here's the text:

****1/2 Top Pick! Tracy Montoya presents the perfect blend of romance, horror, and suspense in this tightly plotted, character-driven study of a young woman terrorized by a monster and the cop who vows to protect her. Yoga instructor Addy Torres is being stalked by a man the police thought was dead--the man who murdered her cop fiance' years before and has turned her life into a horrifying online game. [TRACY SAYS: Actually, that's an open question in the book--whether it's really the Surgeon returned from 2004's Maximum Security, or a copycat. But I'm not complaining here.] Detective Daniel Cardenas' protective detail becomes personal when he falls hard for the woman who's still grieving for the man she loved and who's afraid to love again. Don't read I'll Be Watching You after dark.


Blogging Elsewhere Today

I'm over at the Intrigue Authors blog today, talking about Oscar, fame whores, and Javier Bardem:

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Random Worry #2

So I've told you all before that I'm a worst-case-scenario kind of thinker, which is why stories about yellow-sack spider invasions, jellyfish catastrophes, and people-eating sand hole epidemics give me the heebies in a big, bad way. Well, here's another one for the GAH! files:

USA Today reported this week that giant Burmese pythons are colonizing Florida, because certain asshats in the state bought them as pets when they were not-so-giant Burmese pythons, and then released them into the wild after they grew too big to handle, instead of taking them to a zoo or a reptile sanctuary or Fish and Wildlife or SOMETHING that made the remotest bit of sense, particularly in contrast to the bright idea of tossing them in someone's backyard.

Recently, reports USA Today, when scientists looked at both the number of giant Burmese pythons on a footless march across Florida in the context of global warming models, they started to realize that the weather is going to warm up enough across the country, that by 2100, giant Burmese pythons very well may have colonized a third of the country, from San Francisco to Virginia. Why? Because the weather in the lower third of the US will be warm enough year-round for them to be quite cozy.

Apparently, this realization came as part of a study of NINE invasive snake species that currently reside in Florida. I am too skeeved out to want to find out what the other eight were.

"We were surprised by the map. It was bigger than we thought it was going to be," Gordon Rodda, zoologist and lead project researcher, told USA Today. "They are moving northward, there's no question."

Allegedly, according to this rag, "the giant Burmese python is not poisonous and not considered a danger to humans."

Hello, did you get the GIANT part? GIANT Burmese pythons eat GIANT things, as stated in the article, such as, and I quote, "bobcats, alligators, and deer."


Roight. Remember the story of that dude in Brazil who had to beat an anaconda off his grandson for half an hour before it uncoiled its death grip and stopped eyeing the kid as a tasty mid-afternoon snack? The anaconda generally eats caiman, deer, etc.--similar to the bobcats, alligators, deer, etc. that giant Burmese pythons are fond of consuming. Ergo, it's not such a big leap to imagine them coiling around and squishing a tasty-looking 5'3" romantic suspense writer or one of her tiny and much-beloved children.

Here's my solution--it's time for us to take proactive action and stop this insanity before it spreads and we are overcome by yellow-sack spiders, invasive jellyfish, people-eating sand holes, and giant Burmese pythons....

Florida: Saw it off. Watch it float away. Immediately stop worrying about impending giant Burmese python invasion.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

It's American Idol!

It's that time of year again ... for American Idol! And as always, my youngest brother Troy and I start recapping and snarking once the top 24 hit the small screen. No one really pays attention to us, but we have fun. Enjoy! And if there is anyone out there, please comment! Troy's here--he loves comments!

TRACY: Well, after seeing some spectacular auditions, I was spectacularly underwhelmed by the top 12 men tonight. What is UP with the theme nights in the semi-finals, Nigel Lythgoe? Part of what I loved about the semi-finals was that the contestants got to pick their own songs, from any genre, and really showcase their strengths. Remember Chris Daughtry slam-dunking Fuel's "Hemorrhage?" That so wouldn't have happened on 60s night, Nigel, so get in there and fix this travesty before it's too late!

What'd you think, Troy?

TROY: I absolutely agree. The semi-finals are supposed to be about the contestants expressing themselves, not singing 60s songs that they have never even heard of. Hopefully they’ll realize what a trainwreck (and it WAS a trainwreck, just not of epic proportions) tonight was and go theme-less until the top 12.

TRACY: So first up we had DAVID HERNANDEZ, who I am loving because his name is so close to my husband's last name--FERNANDEZ. Of course, our family has had it's share of being mistaken for Hernandezes (or the more elegant plural "Hernandae"), so perhaps I should be a little more bitter against David's clan.

But love him I do. I think he has an amazing voice at the purest, simplest, most non-drama-queen level, and I like listening to him. Yeah, he's not all flash and circumstance yet, but fast forward to fellow Latino Daniel Noriega's simpering and prancing later in the evening, and good ol' David starts feeling like a breath of fresh, unaffected air. I wasn't off my head about his version of "In the Midnight Hour" the way I was about Chris Daughtry's "Hemorrhage" or Ruben Studdard's "Superstar" back in the day, but I really enjoyed it and think he's only going to get better. Going first sucks, and I hope he gets the chance to come back and prove that he's not the second coming of Rudy Cardenas.

TROY: David seems like a nice guy, but there was no sort of flash or urgency to him. He has a nice voice, but for the life of me, I cannot even remember his singing that well. I really don’t have much to say about him, but I hope he starts to get interesting and picks songs that give him some sort of personality. He’s a nice guy, but I wasn’t inspired.

TRACY: Come on? Where’s your support for la raza?

And then we have CHIKEZIE EZE, who decided to pull a Trenyce and drop his last name. Note to current and future contestants: The whole single-monikered thing is obnoxious when you choose it rather than earn it. Cher? Totally earned it after years on the road with Sonny. Madonna? Got a major record deal after a ton of hard work and therefore earned it. Fabio? As much as I hate to admit it, he earned it by becoming the embodiment of society's cliched view of romance novels or, really, the gross trivialization of any literature written primarily by women and for a predominantly female audience. But I digress....

TROY: The underrated Treynce deserved to be single-monikered – she was ROBBED second season. Please reference: Anyway….

TRACY: You know, I would totally agree. She was massively robbed.

Now I loved Chikezie in the audition rounds. He has the nicest smile and a smooth-as-silk voice that harkens back to the glory days of Motown, or to what life would be like in an alternative universe where Barry White was a tenor. But that cover of "More Today Than Yesterday" shoved me involuntarily aboard the last train to Dullsville. I had to rewind Tivo to watch him again because I got distracted by something shiny and went mentally bye-bye for the second half of his song. YAWN.

TROY: You found the effort to rewind Tivo? Jacuzzi was the equivalent of listening to a Hoover. I was left wish I could flip the channel to see what I was missing on a rerun of “Murder She Wrote.” I thought he was just painful with how dull his performance was.

TRACY: The only thing interesting was his can-o-tomato-soup suit. But I don't mean that in a good way, since I kept asking myself questions like: Who bought him that suit? Why would he wear such a thing? Is this what young, hip, 20-somethings are wearing now? Would I really be that surprised since the return of the bubble skirt and the leggings-with-big-shirts ensembles we sartorially beat to death back in the 80s? Will my head explode if people start parading around town in blinding suits that appear to have been hand-dyed in a stretch of space radiation?

TROY: Remember the last contestant to wear a truly awful outfit? That tinfoiled spacesuit wearer won an Oscar… (I can’t seem to find a picture online of it, but it was BAD). Not that I’m defending his outfit choice. My retinas are still fried.

TRACY: Hmmm. I’m thinking we’re not going to have a repeat Oscar winner here.

I felt vindicated when Simon pronounced the suit "horrible." And once Chikezie started talking more smack than Justin Guarini back in season one, my love for him died, right then and there. Pssssssssyyyyychoooooooo. Next time, if there is a next time, perhaps a slice of humble pie before you go on would make you likable again?


TRACY: You always scare me a little when you go all Tyra on me.


My biggest IDOL pet peeve is when a contestant talks back to the judges. It’s unnecessary and you come off looking bratty and egotistical. Take your advice, smile, and hold up your fingers to remind America that, YES, you are IDOLS-02. Hate.

TRACY: That brings us to DAVID COOK, whom I love. He keeps getting shafted by Simon, but I like his voice a lot, and I thought he did a nice job with "Happy Together." What I love about this guy is that he's not afraid to mix it up with the original arrangements, and he makes everything he sings unique. Take note, Robbie Carrico: HERE'S a real rocker, albeit one who owns way too many sweater vests. Is that some kind of demented Emo thing, Troy? I don't get Emo rockers. I just don't. But I like David C.

TROY: David could be the new Diana DiGarmo in terms of “Loud is the new ‘Good.’” I thought he shouted most of the song and it too closely resembled the arrangement of “Happy Together” done by Simple Plan (which can be found on the “Freaky Friday” soundtrack – shut up). That’s why I didn’t find him to be too original. He’s good, but is still not even near the league of Bo Bice or Daughry.

TRACY: Give him time, grasshopper. Although let me just say, that ... that hair. What is up with that slicked down, Snidely-Whiplash-with-a-side-part combover that looks like he just dunked his head in an oil slick? I didn't like the fauxhawk. Didn't really care for the red streak. But I could live with them. This, THIS ... no. Just ... no. Idol stylists, do something with this guy, stat. Before America votes him off in an effort to make him lay off the product.

TROY: I think he needs to have a pervy mustache to twirl and complete his look. It’s bad (and he would have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for those meddling kids and their dog).

TRACY: Heh. I felt sad when JASON YEAGER chose "Moon River," because it just isn't a wow kind of song, and unless he could pull off a brand-new interpretation fresh from the Fantasia vault, I knew there was no hope for him. But I like the guy--I thought he had a sweet smile, was lovely with his son (did his presumably former partner have the kid when Jason was 12?!), and he reminds me a lot of our brother Tommy before he started working for the Man and got all bitter and cranky on us--particularly when Tommy sang "When I Fall in Love" at Jose's and my wedding. So, in the spirit of nostalgia and brotherly love, I voted for Jason. I hope he stays and gets a chance to show us what he's got.

TROY: I don’t believe for a second that you actually voted.

TRACY: I did! Pinky swear! Like Jose (my husband) said, he was like a white Tommy.

TROY: Honestly not one of these guys truly inspired me to get my phone out and vote. I thought they were OK, but not much else. I like “Moon River,” but it was kind of a Debbie Downer of a choice. Very slow tempo and it kind of stopped the show’s momentum (not that that was lightning paced anyway). I think he’s good enough to make it to next week, but, like so many of these guys, I hope he truly starts to develop a personality and work a little harder to engage America.

TRACY: I'm not sure why the AI recap guy on loved ROBBIE "Hey, I'm a Rocker! No, Really!" CARRICO so much, but as soon as he launched into Three Dog Night's "One," my dog Scarlet started howling, and it wasn't too far into the song that I shoved my head under one of the couch cushions and joined her. GAH! What a thin, nasal, horrid, horrid interpretation. And what was that on his head? He looks like he belongs on a syrup bottle, not on a stage doing his faux hardcore thing.

I'm sure he's going to stick around for awhile, being from the Constantine Maroulis school of rock, but I'm not sure my ears can take any more. Go back to the boy/girl band from whence you came, and stop assaulting my sense of pitch and rhythm.

TROY: You pretty much summed up Bob Carrico in a nutshell. Isn’t he the same one who massacred “Hemorrhage” in the audition process? Makes you miss Daughtry that much more. In fact, Robbie stole Daughtry’s wallet chain, Bo Bice’s hair, and Constantine Marouils’ creeptasticness. I don’t get it. It was a horrifying performance, which made Fall Out Boy look like the second coming of The Clash.

TRACY: Do you even know who The Clash is, Mr. Born in 1985?

By all accounts, I should hate DAVID ARCHULETA. He's been performing since he was straight out ' the womb, judging by the stories and YouTube videos that have popped up on the Internet since he broke the top 24. And no matter how driven the kid, I'm always a little leery of children being paraded around like performing monkeys, so their parents can preen and clap and feel smug about their genes along the sidelines and most likely earn a few extra bucks off Junior's talent. But like, I'm guessing, much of America, I found myself loving David. The dichotomy of his being so comfortable and confident on stage and not acting like an asshat offstage is interesting and refreshing. He's another one with a great smile, and I tend to find myself grinning back at my TV set whenever he does. Plus, I like the unique rasp in his voice. I didn't think his choice of "Shop Around" or his voice disappearing into the low notes added up to his best performance. But he did a solid job with a difficult song, and he's definitely talented enough to be one of the frontrunners.

And yes, he's so adorable, I just wanted to squeeze him. After still feeling the pain of AJ Tabaldo's untimely demise last year, I'm happy to have a happy, bouncy little replacement in David A.

TROY: I can hate a little on David Archuleta. I think his “Who, me???” act is just that – an act. It’s minus the genuine. This is a kid who has been on “Star Search” and countless other performances. He knows he is good, but is taking a page from the “Melinda Doolittle School of Humble.” That said, I loved his “Waiting on the World to Change” from earlier auditions and liked him well enough here. He has a really unaffected, pure voice. However, you’re no Melinda Doolittle, kid. Drop the act and sing.

TRACY: I am not so cynical about David A. yet, but we shall see…. OK, so JASON CASTRO. Generally, white guys with dreadlocks annoy me. After all, aren’t dreadlocks supposed to symbolize the refusal by black men and women to conform to Anglo ideals of beauty, so they let their hair dreadlock as a political statement AND probably because it looks cool? (There's also some religious symbolism behind some people's dreadlocks, but I'm not well-versed enough to know exactly what it is.) On a presumably white guy like Jason, the only political statement you're making is, "Hey, I refuse to bathe!" Cultural appropriation + refusal to wash = yuck.

(Yes, I know people who wear dreadlocks do wash them. But when you don't have the curly hair that you need for them to form naturally, you gotta wonder what the heck makes stick-straight hair dread. Whatever unholy combination of chemical perms, molding mud and back-combing it takes, I just have to take a moment to go eeeuuuw.)

TROY: How quickly you forget Jordis Unga. She rocked her dreads (but I think that unlike Jason Castro, she showers).

TRACY: Actually, Jordis is black, probably mixed race—and “American and Tongan” according to her website. My rant stands. Although if I am wrong and Jason turns out to be a person of color (person of a little bit of color?), I will retract.

Anyway, with that admitted bias, I was all set to hate Jason C. But as Randy is so fond of saying, he worked it out with his spare and quite lovely version of "What a Day for a Daydream." For someone who doesn't have a lot of experience on a stage, he looked comfortable and dare-I-say sweet up there, and he made his song current and fun. I've been absentmindedly singing it all day, and I never was a huge fan of the original. So, props to Jason.

Now go shave your head.

TROY: I actually really liked Jason! Sure, he was like one of the “Save the World” hippies that was parked out underneath a tree on campus, smelling a bit too much like marijuana as he strummed along on his guitar, singing about “love, peace, and corn flakes.” It was a little granola, but I enjoyed it. It was a happy-go-lucky performance that may have been my favorite of the night. He stood out from the blahness the rest of the guys conveyed.

TRACY: Excuse me. Strictly speaking, your sister is a little granola, given that I write “save the world” articles for my day job. I do bathe, just for the record.

How much can an American Idol contestant suck? Let me count the ways ....


UGH! to the Leif Garrett hair! UGH! to the horrible song choice--Neil Sedaka needs to stay in the early 60s where he belongs! UGH! to the anemic, slightly wasted singing! UGH! to the brainless, frightened mugging for the camera. I am sick, SICK that this guy beat out Kyle the Future Politician, who does Josh Groban better than Josh Groban (and minus the egotudinous ick factor). GAH!

TROY: Kyle the Future Politician was such a creepster though. The Return of Leif Garrett seems nice enough. I mean, he’s only 17 and has quite possibly the dopiest grin I have ever seen so I can’t take him seriously enough to hate too much. That said, hopefully Sanjaya 2008 won’t stay around to make it to the top 12.

TRACY: In the spirit of ughing all over the place, let's also discuss DANNY NORIEGA. I thought his outfit was terrific--he really knows how to rock the tapered pants. And I really love how I'm constantly surprised at that powerful voice coming out of that thin body. I thought Simon was a little too hard on him, vocally speaking.

But the preening! The mincing and snapping! The sassy little snark nuggets he tossed at Simon. Oh, and the pouting. Dear God, the pouting.

There just are no words.

OK, there are some words. Danny came across like a spoiled, campy version of a Bratz doll come to life, and it wasn't fun to watch. Note to Señorita Noriega: If you're going to put on an act that's "all swagger and attitude," at least TRY to be marginally warm and likeable, too. Because I mean, dude. I don't agree with Simon that the performance was grotesque, and I totally do not think being yourself is grotesque ... but that ego was.

Something about the attitude :::finger snap in a Z pattern::: didn't feel genuine to me, but perhaps it's because I really want to believe that, deep down inside, Danny Noriega has some manners.

TROY: I couldn’t hate on Danny too much (maybe because he reminded me of Christian from “Project Runway,” minus the fierceness). I really do like his voice, but he just wound up picking a horrible song (I actually love the song, but it was a poor choice for him). I didn’t think his snippiness was as obnoxious as Jacuzzi Banana, inching just below Guarini proportions. The pouting has GOT to go though. I’ll give him another week.

TRACY: Jacuzzi Banana? Is your writer still on strike or something? (I kid!)

I have to say, it takes a considerable lack of ego for a guy to compare himself in the looks department to Ellen Degeneres. (She's pretty, but not so much on a dude.) So, good for COLTON BERRY for being an ego-free contrast to Danny Noriega and funny at the same time. And how adorable was it that he sings the Teletubbies theme song when he's nervous? (How likely is it that he knows exactly how adorable it is? Inquiring minds want to know.)

Now you know I loves me some "Suspicious Minds," but I love the song so much, and I found Colton so likeable, that I can't really judge it on the merits of his singing. Teletubbies and my overwhelming adoration of that most excellent piece of music just get in the way. So, I'm punting. Take it away, Troy!

TROY: This is hard for me as well since “Suspicious Minds” is one of my favorite songs of all time. However, I remember when Daughtry annihilated it season four during Elvis week, so that takes away from my bias. I think Colton did a decent job. He didn’t bring anything particularly memorable to the song (unlike No Doubt, who made this song their own -, but I like him. A good attitude and nice personality will hopefully take him far.

TRACY: Yeah, I think you’re right. But the Teletubbies! So cute!

So MICHAEL JOHNS decided to play it safe and rehash The Doors "Light My Fire" from Hollywood week, just so we could all ooh and ahh over how he is obviously the second-coming of the late, great Jim Morrison with a dash of Michael Hutchence thrown in there.

Yes, the man can definitely sing, and yes, he practically hits you over the head with his considerable I-can-just-stand-here-and-you’ll-love-me charisma. But sometimes, I just feel like he should be fronting a band. I don't know why, but at times, he looks lonely and weird alone on stage to me.

I guess I liked him enough, but ... bored now. Also, doesn't he seem just a little OLD to you?

TROY: SO old. It’s like he’s 30 or something.

TRACY: Shut it!

TROY: I kid, I kid.

I think Michael Johns could have gone up on stage wasted out of his mind and started singing the Animaniacs theme song and still be met with praise from the judges. They’re in love with this guy, but I don’t quite get it. And since he played it safe, he loses 5 Fonzie cool points from me.

Wow. I just went back through and counted, and I realized I totally left off LUKE MENARD. Which pretty much sums up his performance for me.

TROY: ………..

Sorry, just removing the gauze from my ears. Seriously…Luke was horrifying. Listening to his performance, I keep wanting him to go a half step higher, then lower, and dude could never pull it together. At times, his voice was so thin, I’m surprised it was audible to humans. Luke’s performance wins the “Hot Mess of the Night” award.

TRACY: Hmmm. I still might give my Hot Mess award to Danny Noriega’s ego. But we all know he’s going to stay—and with his pipes, he probably deserves to at least another week.

So, who do you predict will be voted off, Troy? Because I'm in denial about David Yeager's dismal chances, I'm guessing Garrett Haley, for being a non-entity during the audition and Hollywood rounds and for not doing a blessed thing to help himself break out of the invisible box. And perhaps Chikezie, for an awful rant coupled with an awful suit. Dishonorable mention to Luke Menard for being entirely forgettable, though I'm guessing he'll get the "gee-he's-cute-and-has-Patrick-Dempsey-hair" vote from tween and teen girls.

TROY: My ears cannot take another week of Luke Menard. Dude, there is a reason you didn’t make it last year. Additionally, I really want Jacuzzi to go home. Being a total ass does not an Idol make (unless you’re on the frickin’ SOUL PATROL, I guess).


TROY: I hate when contestants talk back to the judges and I hope it results in Jacuzzi packing his bags and getting off my TV screen.

I miss the old format of this show. Split everyone up into three groups and bring back the wild card


The lovely PR people at Harlequin responded lightning-fast to my request for the cover blurb for I'll Be Watching You, soooo :::drum roll::: here it is!


It might have been four years since Detective Daniel Cardenas had last seen Addy Torres, but she’d never been far from his thoughts...or his fantasies. Then, as a vicious stalker’s latest target, the stunning recluse needed the relentless protection only Daniel could provide. But the more Addy turned to his strong arms seeking safety, the more he wanted to ease her pain and give her the release they’d both craved for far too long. As he watched and waited for a killer to make his next move, Daniel fought every urge and kept his hands to himself. Until one fateful night changed everything…

My first impression is that HQ wasn't kidding when they said they were trying to sex up Intrigue a little more. "Give her the release they'd both craved for far too long?" Dude.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

New Cover!

I just found the cover for my April Intrigue, I'll Be Watching You, up on Amazon, so I thought I'd share it here. It's always such a shock to get these things, because the people never look like they do in my head. Never in my wildest dreams was my hero so ... shiny.

The shiny hero in question would be Daniel Cardenas, a Monterey, CA, police detective and computer genius who is investigating the possible return of the Surgeon, the presumed-dead serial killer from my 2004 Intrigue, Maximum Security. If anyone out there remembers that long-ago book, this is, finally, Adriana Torres's story. I meant to do it ages ago, but I got sidetracked when my editors asked for an unrelated three-book series (the Mission: Family series), and then I went and did two stand-alone spin-offs after that.

Anyway, I requested a sunset, because I LOVE sunset covers. But Danny Boy really never tears his shirt off while he's investigating anything in the book. Maybe I should consider having my heroes do that more often, though....

What do you all think? I'm just counting my blessings that he doesn't look like one of the Village People....

Saturday, February 16, 2008

File This One Under WTF

So my good friend and Silhouette Romantic Suspense author extraordinaire Sharron McClellan hopped a plane the other week for a last-minute visit to chez moi. Which was way fun, except for the fact that I was still mostly an invalid after attempting to poison myself and nearly dying of barfness. We went out to lunch her first day in FL and I was all, "You know, I'd give you some options for stuff to do, but I think I just need to go sit down somewhere and look pale and wan."

Fortunately, Sharron is low-maintenance, so this was perfectly OK with her.

On her last night in town, we filled up our wine glasses, sat on the couch, and started absently flipping TV channels while chatting. When lo and behold, what did we see on the Tivo guide but a show called Pants Off Dance Off.

Well, of COURSE we were wicked curious, so we turned it on. (Hey, it sounded more interesting than "101 Fish that Look Like Rocks" on the Discovery Channel.) And found that it's probably the most accurately named show on television. Basically, people take their pants and everything else off, and they dance.

And that's it.

I think there's some cursory voting on the Internet, but I didn't really see any evidence that said people win prizes or anything. Apparently, they go on the show for the sheer joy of shaking their naked groove thing in a crappy little studio in front of what you KNOW has to be the sleaziest camera dude EVAH. As one fiercely intelligent young woman said as she commenced dancing and pantsing, "This show is SOOOOOO me!"

So yeah, that's all they do: They dance to some horrid music, strip down to their underwear, and then their show goes strictly to the Internet where they strip off even those little scraps of material to get jiggly with it online. Sharron and I watched in horror, but for some unfathomable reason, we did NOT CHANGE THE CHANNEL. For two hours (Yes, two. Shut up.) it was just one naked, gelatinous train wreck after another, and we could take our stupefied eyes off it. Here's what my living room sounded like that evening:

"Oh, no he did NOT just do that!"

"OHHHHH! I SO did not need to see that?"

"AUUGGGHHHH! The TV GUIDE! Hit the TV guide button so you can hide some of that!"

"Please, please be wearing boxers---OHHHH! He's not wearing boxers!"

"NOOOOOOO! Not a clown!"

Yes, dear readers, there was, indeed, a clown. A brightly painted, happy little circus clown with a rainbow 'fro, striped tights, a puffy shirt, and balloon pants. And yes, she stripped. Right down to her garishly striped garter belt and polka dot bikini underwear. I didn't check the Internet, but Sharron did and reported that (oh, God, I can barely type this) the clown got naked.

Fortunately, Sharron's retinas are still intact because Pants Off Dance Off blurs out the naughty bits even online. But the clown debacle served to affirm my steadfast pledge to never, ever have a clown at one of my kids' birthdays. Clowns scare me anyway, but that .... that was just sick and wrong. I'm still having garishly striped nightmares.

Was it hot? In most cases, no. There was one guy who was fairly cute, but then he opened his mouth to speak and spoiled it. ("I like to dance. I dance good.") I think what kept us watching was sheer amazement that this creepalicious show seemed to have absolutely no problem finding people who wanted to take their pants off and dance naked on television for no apparent reason other than that "this show is SOOOOO me!" Oh, yes, it provided much snark fodder, too.

People are weird.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Blogging Elsewhere

I'm blogging over at the Intrigue Authors site today, and of course, I ended up trashing the topic I'd worked on this week in favor of mental spew about how Totally! Freaking! Awesome! Indiana Jones is. I'm such a dork.

Come visit:

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Geek Joy

Would you believe I actually teared up a little when I watched this?

And to all the haters out there who think Harrison Ford is too old to play Indy, if he decides at age 105 to make Indiana Jones and the Bedpan of Destruction, I am SO there. No one, and I mean NO ONE should play Indiana Jones but Harrison Ford. EVAH!

That is all. Now watch the excellent trailer and just try not to get all farklempt when he puts the hat on.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Tell It, Sister

So I got FLATTENED last week by the nastiest case of food poisoning ever. It was my first time poisoning myself, and I'll be so glad not to ever do that again. Just as a public service announcement: if you ever buy a box of mushrooms and some of them look a little iffy, do NOT just take out the iffy ones and assume the rest will be OK because the box is new....

In honor of Valentine's Day approaching, let me just take a moment to give a shout-out to my husband Jose, who cleaned the bathroom after I spent an entire night dying of barfness. Some women get flowers--I know my husband loves me because he cleaned that vomit crime scene of a mess so I wouldn't have to wake up to it. If that's not love, I don't know what is.

I've been avoiding my blog lately, because I'm a political junkie, and it's REALLY HARD for me not to start spewing my opinion on the primaries all over this blog. And since this blog is intended for romance readers, that's probably the last thing I should be doing. But a friend recently sent me a wonderful essay by Robin Morgan, and it's too good to ignore.

Let me preface this little excerpt from Robin's blog by saying that my husband and I are political opposites--sort of. He's been drifting in my general direction lately, but there are some issues on which he remains steadfastly ... OTHER than where I am. But we have some interesting and illuminating discussions, and I find that we agree more often than I would have thought possible. When two people aren't extremists of any kind and are willing to listen to each other and contribute ideas, interesting things happen. Which is a long-winded way of saying that whatever your political POV is, I respect it and figure I could probably learn from it, too. As long as you aren't a bigoted extremist wingnut, that is.

So anyway, Robin Morgan posted a blog at the Women's Media Center about why she's voting for Hillary Clinton. I KNOW, half of you just started getting your inner Edvard Munsch on. Get over it ... I'm not going to start proselytizing for the Senator from New York. But what I have found interesting ever since I watched Pat Schroeder run for president (and crash spectacularly in a flood of tears) is how the media treat women candidates as opposed to male candidates. Whatever you think of Hillary, her politics, her family, her track record, none of us should stand for the kind of flagrant sexism I'm seeing today--all to reminiscient of what I saw during Pat Schroeder's brief run. Post-feminism my big Latin booty--we need to kick it old-school and raise our voice whenever a woman candidate, be she a Clinton or a Rice, a Dole or a Schroeder, has to stand for sign-wavers who tell her she should iron their shirt.

Robin Morgan writes:

Goodbye to the toxic viciousness . . .

Carl Bernstein's disgust at Hillary’s “thick ankles.” Nixon-trickster Roger Stone’s new Hillary-hating 527 group, “Citizens United Not Timid” (check the capital letters). John McCain answering “How do we beat the bitch?" with “Excellent question!” Would he have dared reply similarly to “How do we beat the black bastard?” For shame.

Goodbye to the HRC nutcracker with metal spikes between splayed thighs. If it was a tap-dancing blackface doll, we would be righteously outraged—and they would not be selling it in airports. Shame.

Goodbye to the most intimately violent T-shirts in election history, including one with the murderous slogan “If Only Hillary had married O.J. Instead!” Shame.

Goodbye to Comedy Central’s “Southpark” featuring a storyline in which terrorists secrete a bomb in HRC’s vagina. I refuse to wrench my brain down into the gutter far enough to find a race-based comparison. For shame.

Goodbye to the sick, malicious idea that this is funny. This is not “Clinton hating,” not “Hillary hating.” This is sociopathic woman-hating. If it were about Jews, we would recognize it instantly as anti-Semitic propaganda; if about race, as KKK poison. Hell, PETA would go ballistic if such vomitous spew were directed at animals. Where is our sense of outrage—as citizens, voters, Americans?

I feel safe posting this here, because none of us should base our vote on gender. Vote for the person whose stances and plans best reflect the America you would like to see. But don't let anyone put us down because we're women, either--any of us. Our daughters are counting on us to stand together against of this kind of sociopathic behavior now, so the road is free and clear for them to run for President when they are older, should they so choose.

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Tracy Montoya writes romantic suspense for Harlequin Intrigue.

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