Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Talent Quest Nationals 2009: All the Usual Suspects

All the usual suspects are here. We hear them every year and know there will be new suspects added to the list from this year. [I can hear you all now, "Why would she talk about contestants who might see her blog?!?".....BUT, it's not what you think!]

Every year there are a few songs that make multiple appearances. We make our picks before the contest starts and to the winner goes the spoils of victory: a year of bragging rights for picking the correct song.

Usually it's a new song that has been a big hit, but sometimes we're thrown a curve ball and an old song comes out of left field and takes the prize. Last year we were ALL blindsided by a song that's at least ten years old. We've been keeping track this year and it's a tight race. Instead of telling you which songs are in the lead this year, I'll just list some of the annual "favorites".

Unchained Melody
Broken Wing
Before He Cheats
I Am Changing
Like We Never Loved At All
My Heart Will Go On
On My Own
Lady Marmalade (the atrocious Moulin Rouge version)

I'm keeping busy tabulating the scores as they roll in so I haven't been able to edit and post the videos which are calling my name, but I will try to get some of them up before the finals. Please keep checking in if I'm posting videos from someone you're supporting.

It has been a great week so far and I'm hoping my next post will be full of some amazing news about the production crew that's here from Harpo Studios! [ read that correctly!]

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Talent Quest Nationals 2009: Life-long Friendships

I've been fortunate enough to have been a part of Talent Quest for the last 5 years. There are many contestants we see year after year and registration begins to look like an annual family reunion of sorts.

I have such great memories from my first year at Nationals. Being able to come out with my best friend, Jessica for her last eligible year of competition. It was a strange year, to say the least, but she and I had a great time living it up and having some great girl-friend time (which is hard to come by when your bestie has 2 kids).

Because I'm at the information table for more than half of the week's competition, I'm able to see and talk to almost all the contestants. It's virtually impossible not to form bonds of friendship with many of them. One of the things I find so gratifying about the competition is seeing the bonds of friendship between the contestants.

Plastered all over the casino and the elevators are these posters:

[I'll add the photo later....I had some technical issues]

The "Three Amigos" are contestants from Oklahoma, Wisconsin and New York who met 3 years ago when comepeting against one another. The bonds of music and a respect for one another's talent created a lasting bond of friendship. These men talk and scheme all year for the week they will all be together to wreak havoc on the unsuspecting casino guests and fellow contestants. :)

As staff, we have no influence on the judging but we do our best to remain neutral, but it's just not possible for us to look forward to and count the days until we see our friends, Gregg and Michelle. They have travelled to Oklahoma more than once to visit all of us and sing some karaoke. They are just some of the nicest people one could ever meet and we all consider ourselves lucky to call them friends.

In addition to the old friends, there are always "new" friends- those who are first or second time competitors. It's just so nice to be among people who share a love for music and a dream to perform which creates these bonds! It's AMAZING!

So, please enjoy a few videos from some friendly performances.

The Three Amigos:
[video to come.....more technical issues]

Raydog, one of my annual faves:

Jimmy, a new friend (he made Top 5 last year):

Gregg and Michelle:

[video to come......not recorded yet :)]

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Talent Quest Nationals 2009: Check in and Registration

After a non-stop flight to Vegas, sitting next to Ms. Rebecca, who had never flown before (she was GREAT!), I checked into my comfortable room (which I probably won't see as much as I would like).

In years past, I would arrive on Sunday in just enough time to throw my bags into my room and rush down to registration, but this year.......ahhhhhh! I arrived on Saturday and had the whole day to do whatever I was fantastic!
Tomorrow morning I will "orientate" the judges at 9am and the competition begins at 11:00 am! I will be trying to record and post videos of some of the contestants, but that will depend on how busy I am with questions from contestants :D
On a personal note: tonight there was "open karaoke" in the pavilion theater, which is the big auditorium where the contest is held. For those who know me, you know I'm NOT a performer. I'm most happy to sing back up harmony, but there's NO NEED for me to be in the spotlight. I get plenty of attention through my wit and written need to put myself on a stage. BUT.....tonight, I was strong-armed into singing on that stage. TALK ABOUT HINEY PUCKER! I have SUCH admiration for all the performers who are so willing to take the spotlight so I don't have to do that!
But......if you need a back up singer who does killer harmony, I'm your girl. Call me and we'll work it OUT!
I'm headed to bed (maybe)!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Leaving on a Jet Plane!

Tomorrow I fly from Oklahoma City to Vegas (non-stop, baby!) for another year of Talent Quest Nationals! There's lots on my mind as I prepare for my 9 days immersed in music, but at the forefront of them all is what a difference a year makes.

When I was preparing to leave last year, I was happy with my job and had just started talking to this really great guy. The job and the guy are no longer, but I'm not unhappy about any of it, although I find I'm growing a bit nostalgic over the boy since so much was happening with him this time last year. I'm anxious to go and replace last years memories with new ones.........and I'm hopeful the last little bit of ache I feel when I think of him will subside.

I'm also looking forward to hearing lots of great singers (I'll try to blog and post some videos throughout the week if I have the time), seeing old friends and meeting new ones! Overall, Talent Quest has been the most rewarding volunteer gig I've ever had!

If you're interested in learning more about Talent Quest, click HERE

I'll be posting more next week as the contest gets into full's gonna be a blast!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

It's That Time of Year Again!

Birthday frivolity will ensue!

Given my current lack of cash flow I wasn't sure I would actually go ahead with the traditional "schedule of events" but it seems to have become a tradition. I normally send out my invitations a couple of weeks in advance and really didn't think anyone would notice I hadn't sent anything out.

I was wrong.

Over the past few days I have received so many e-mails and messages from friends asking about the schedule of events for the weekend. What started as a joke 9 years ago in an attempt to deal with so many different friend's schedules has become something I really look forward to every year.

There's nothing better than good times with great friends, no matter what the reason for coming together. I'm so blessed to have so many wonderful friends to whom I can turn to in times of stress or on whom I can depend. I feel every one's birthday is a special's the celebration of the reason you're on the planet and I feel it's meant to be shared, no matter what the circumstance in life.

So.......thank you my friends! You make me so happy to be ALIVE! Come celebrate with me if you can!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Facebook: A Love/Hate Relationship

I joined facebook several years ago....long before many my age, because of the prompting of a younger co-worker (shout out to J-Ho!). Back then it wasn't as user-friendly to the older generation, but I persevered because I'm not a quitter (usually).

Because my 20 year high school reunion is coming up, there has been a veritable flood of people my age joining the facebook ranks and I've enjoyed getting back in touch with old friends and forging new found friendships with acquaintances.

But, facebook can be a double-edged sword. Social networking and the internet in general has really diminished the distance and boundaries of generations past and I find many of the reasons I love facebook are also the reasons I hate facebook.

I LOVE the convenience of being able to keep up with many people from a central location.
I HATE the narrowness of my internet use since I can keep up with so many people from a central location.

I LOVE that I can control who sees what I post to my profile.
I HATE that I can't control what people see of my posts to friend's profiles

I LOVE to discover friends from another friend's list.
I HATE that others can discover friend's from my friend list.

I LOVE when the facebook IM function works and I can contact people instantly.
I HATE when the facebook IM function doesn't work.

You can see where I'm going with this and I could go on and on........I really do LOVE how accessible people are, but tonight, there's something I HATE more than ANYthing facebook has given me. More than once, in the past 2 weeks, facebook has been the vehicle which has dropped drama right on my virtual doorstep......and if you know me, you know I have absolutely NO tolerance for drama. Seriously........I'm almost 40 years old and I think it's asinine to have one of my relatives call me because they have been contacted by a girl telling them they think I might like their man.

What??? Are we in the 3rd grade? Chances are, if I accepted someone as a friend on facebook, it's safe to assume I like said person. But......if my "man" were on facebook, and I thought someone was putting the moves on him, I would talk to HIM about that......not the other girl's relative. But....again, I'm almost 40, have no use for drama and believe direct communication is the best approach when in a relationship (whether it's a romantic relationship or a friendship).....unlike the drama llama who is trying to disturb my groove when I just want a peaceful existence.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A New Sun Rising

I am unemployed again.

But that's not a bad thing.

But I don't want to write about that, really. I want to focus on the opportunities ahead of me! I've been blogging for 3 years now, and in that time, there are some common themes that pop up fairly regularly. One of them is my eternal optimism. I don't know if I was born with it, or if it was something my parents instilled in me, or both. But whatever the reason, I'm so grateful it comes easy for me......especially in times such as this.

So, now that I'm loosed from the bonds of a job I hated, I am faced with endless possibilities. I've had a yen lately to sell almost everything I own and travel......what's to keep me from doing that now? I'm not quite sure I'm ready to do that yet, but it would be much easier to do now than it would have a month or even a year ago!

I've said it many times before and I'll probably say it many times in the years to come: It doesn't matter how bad life gets......because even on my worst day, I'm so glad to be alive. NO ONE is guaranteed a tomorrow so I want to live everyday in the moment. And, hopefully, when I come to end of my journey, I'll have no regrets about how I lived my life.

I've known many pessimists in my life and it always makes me want to try and reason with them......don't they understand? By constantly complaining about circumstances, they're wasting the time they have to go out and change those things.....time for living life to the fullest!

So, I look forward to the future! No day but today!