David Cook Gives Another Outstanding Performance on American Idol

I was very interested to know how David Cook would do on Andrew Lloyd Webber night. I was interested in how all of the performances would turn out. I was thinking, is it going to sound like I’m at an opera. Also I was thinking how they were going to do with making these well known songs their own. Andrew Lloyd Webber is the guy who is famous for writing songs for Cats and The Phantom of the Opera. I know that there is a lot of talent left on American Idol so I figured that most of the performances would be good.

David Cook came up and I was excited to see what he would do with the song he picked. He picked the song, “Music of the Night” and I know that was a powerful song. I was very interested in how he was going to sing. I think that David Cook did an outstanding job singing that song. He was really good. I think that David Cook was the best one on American Idol Tuesday night. David Archuletta and Jason Castro were not far behind though. They were all excellent. They are stepping it up week after week. David Cook has a lot of talent but I already knew that from the beginning, as you probably knew also. He is doing a great job of keeping his uniqueness on American Idol.

I don’t need to say that David Cook needs to step it up because he really doesn’t need to. I think that he is doing exactly what he should be doing. Keep in mind that he is doing all of this with a very sick brother at home. He has a lot to deal with. David Cook has the talent to go far and I know he will. I think that the final two are going to be David Cook versus Jason Castro. What do you all think?…

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Top 10 Philharmonic Orchestras Worldwide

Definitively ranking philharmonic orchestras (or any other type of musical group, for that matter) is an impossible task. Each and every listener will have a unique experience while listening to a particular performance from any given philharmonic orchestra, and therefore each listener will have a different opinion. Personal musical and aesthetic taste also plays a role. However, there are certainly some philharmonic orchestras that stand out from the pack, whose excellence no one can deny. Here are ten, in no particular order, that are more than worth listening to.

NY Philharmonic – This orchestra has been wowing audiences for the past 6 years under the baton of Lorin Maazel. This is my hometown philharmonic, and they seem to get better every time I hear them. Alan Gilbert takes the reins in 2009 – will the orchestra continue to impress?

Cleveland Orchestra – George Szell brought this orchestra to the forefront during his 24 year tenure (1946-1970). Though Cleveland is not one of the biggest cities in the US, the orchestra attracts some of the finest players and conductors from all over the world.

Berliner Philharmoniker – This award winning philharmonic orchestra was led by the legendary Herbert von Karajan for an astonishing 35 years, from 1954-1989. The current conductor, Sir Simon Rattle, is also held in high regard. However, the orchestra will be replacing Artistic Director Pamela Rosenberg in 2010.

Wiener Philharmoniker – Since 1933, this philharmonic orchestra has relied solely on guest conductors rather than employing a single chief conductor, which makes its consistent high quality all the more remarkable. It has often been cited as Europe’s finest.

National Symphony Orchestra, Washington DC – Though this orchestra may not make anyone else’s top 10 list, it’s a personal favorite, due largely to conductor Leonard Slatkin. I’ve never seen anyone fire up an orchestra the way he can. He will be sorely missed when he retires at the end of this year.

Boston Symphony Orchestra – Another personal favorite, although Boston is widely regarded as one of the finest symphonies in the world. It was led by the incredible Seiji Ozawa until 2002, at which time the incomparable James Levine took over – who could ask for anything more?

Philadelphia Orchestra – This American powerhouse is well known for recordings and has always managed to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to technology. Charles Dutoit will be taking over in 2008.

Israel Philharmonic – With legends like Leonard Bernstein and Zubin Mehta at the helm, how could this NOT be one of the great philharmonic orchestras of the world?

Chicago Symphony – Recordings by the Chicago Symphony have won 58 Grammy awards – need I say more?

Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Amsterdam – Since its inception in 1888, this philharmonic orchestra has had only 6 chief conductors, which contributes to its consistent, distinctive sound.…

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Six Christian-Themed Writing Projects for Kids

If you’re looking to add a creative project to your Sunday school or homeschooling lessons, or want to give the kids something faith-related and fun to do on a rainy afternoon, consider a Christian-themed creative writing project. Simply put, these are writing projects which allow kids a chance to express their ideas and feelings about their faith. Writing projects can ask kids to explain bible stories, apply their faith to certain situations, or express how they feel about the Lord. At the same time, writing projects help kids hone important skills which they will need in school.

To help make these writing projects more fun and special, give your kids colored pens or markers and special stationary or notebooks to use as they write. Keeping these special writing items in sync with the Christian theme of the projects (think Veggie Tales) can help kids get into the spirit and realize that writing about church, the bible, or lessons from Jesus can be a fun and joy-filled experience, not just a boring lesson or drill.

Here are some Christian-themed writing project prompts you may want to use to get your kids started.

Writing Project #1: Being Like Jesus 
Ask your child to consider which trait of Jesus he or she wishes she could have. Why would they want that trait? What would they do if they had it? Some kids may say they wish they could be kinder and more loving and forgiving while others may focus on how Jesus had the power to heal people and perform miracles that helped people. This is a good project for helping kids to think about all the different aspects of Jesus and see ways they can try to be more like Him in everyday life.

Writing Project #2: Jesus At School 
Ask your child to write about a situation they might see at school (or another setting where they’re with their peers) where something unChristian is happening – maybe a kid is picking on another kid, or a fight is about to break out, or someone is considering cheating. After they describe the situation, ask your child to put Jesus in the mix to resolve it. This project encourages kids to consider “What would Jesus do” in the context of a situation they would really encounter. Older kids can be encouraged to use bible verse in their writing, or to write the story as a play with different characters speaking dialogue.

Writing Project #3: A Question For God 
Part of being a Christian is learning to talk to God. Sometimes, both kids and adults have questions they’d like God to answer. Ask your child to write a letter to God asking him something they wonder about. Whether it’s serious, like why a bad thing happens to a good person, or silly, like why He created something like the duck-billed platypus, your child’s question can reveal a lot about what’s on his or her mind and may encourage him or her to be comfortable asking the Lord for help in understanding things which seem confusing. An alternative to writing a letter would be to have a child pretend he or she is walking or sharing a meal with Jesus and posing the question to Him face to face. Encourage your kids to not try to answer the question in their writing, but rather encourage them to be open to getting an answer from God in His own way and time.

Writing Project #4: A Prayer 
There are as many ways to pray as there are people. Writing a prayer down instead of speaking it out loud can be a very powerful way to speak to God. Ask your child, young or old, to write a prayer from the heart. It could be a prayer for a special intention, a grace for a family dinner, or something else your child would like to address. Encourage them to think of all sorts of prayers in the bible and in church including psalms, song lyrics, formal prayers, rhyme, and informal, conversational prayers, and then use any style they like. They may want to begin with thinking about what they want to pray about and then coming up …

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David Cook First, David Archuleta Second: American Idol Top Five

In a season of American Idol known for pulling out all the punches, the contestants have now been whittled down to five. While it might not be the five that the American Idol viewing audience expected, it is a diverse group that will be vying for the top spot. Still, even with strong competitors, it is obvious that some contestants are more deserving of the title of “American Idol” than others.

It is going to be a tight race for the top five on American Idol. There will be a lot of clawing for the top spot, but in the end, it will be David Cook that is victorious. He has star quality and is actually a real musician instead of merely a singer. Out of all of the American Idols, David Cook is the one to look forward to week after week. With each performance, David Cook infuses his own personality and gives the audience something that hasn’t been played time and time again on the radio. It is that uniqueness that will bring David Cook to the front of the top five on American Idol. Last week, David Cook managed to cement his position even further by giving American Idol viewers the biggest surprise of the season. His performance of Music of the Night was straightforward, sang as written, and showcased his voice. That was a smart move for David Cook. It allowed the American Idol audience to see that not only can he mix things up, but he has a wonderful vocal range.

David Cook has taken a lot of heat throughout the season. It has come out that his musical arrangements have not always been his. They have been lesser known arrangements that can be found online. Still, one must give the guy credit. By not singing popular radio songs, a risk is being taken. The key to American Idol is to not allow the songs to come across as singing karaoke. Whether you love or hate David Cook, you have to admit that his music is not the type that would be heard in a karaoke bar. It is not all that relevant who came up with the arrangements. Many musicians do not write their own music, and it is certainly not a prerequisite for being a star on American Idol. What is important is that David Cook has managed to step outside of the American Idol box. He truly is different, even if the arrangements are not his. He is contemporary. David Cook is not lost in 1988 like many American Idol contestants are.

Many will not agree with this, but David Archuleta is going to finish in second place on American Idol. Honestly, his gimmick is wearing thin. The doe eyed seventeen year old has secured a huge fan base, but in a head to head competition with David Cook, Archuleta will lose. While he put originality in Andrew Lloyd Webber night last week, it will probably be one of the few times when David Archuleta crosses the boundary between “singer” and “musician.” He is definitely talented enough of a singer to make it to the top two on American Idol, but his lack of originally will keep him from getting the coveted number one spot. David Archuleta has a lot of growing up and maturing as an artist to do before he can be considered the best. He is incredibly good, but he is not the best. He is not contemporary. David Archuleta is more of an easy listening, song playing in the elevator, type of performer.

The American Idol audience is buying into what the judges say about him. Week after week, David Archuleta can do almost no wrong when it comes to Randy, Paula and Simon. He is incredibly over praised by the judges and fans alike. It is as if people are afraid to give David Archuleta a real critique. He seems to be a sweet, passionate guy, and his personality is derailing his critics. People need to look past his sweet nature and truly critique his performances. When David Archuleta forgets the words to a song, it needs to be mentioned. Forgetting the words to songs does not …

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Fun Things to Do with Your Kids in Boston

Living only 2 hours from Boston I can honestly say that there is no other city so close to central NH that offers so much for kids and their families. You could stay in Boston for years and never see it all. I have gone there once or twice a year for my entire 36 years of life and I still haven’t seen everything as of yet. As a matter of fact, today, I was searching the web for open times and pricing for this article when I came upon an interesting website, http://www.gobostoncard.com/ . This website not only tells you all about the 70 or so partner locations around Boston that are perfect for children but it also offers you a discount card that will get you into those locations!! These cards start at only $54.99 for adults and $34.99 for kids 12 & under. A bargain since you can use it at any of their partner sites for 1, 2, 3, 5 & 7 day increments. Since almost all of my top choices for children are found at their site I would recommend starting there first when planning your getaway. Now for my top choices for children in no particular order.

Liberty Fleet Tall Ship Adventures Where else can your kids actually sail a tall ship? I didn’t think you could answer that one and that is why I included this fun cruise on my list. I haven’t tried this yet but as an avid boater I can tell you I will be on the next boat out!! They allow adults and kids alike to set sails, take the wheel and throw tea into the harbor. They are located at 67 Long Wharf, Boston. For more information call 617-742-0333 or go to www.libertyfleet.com .

New England Aquarium No introduction required on this fun classic. If you live in or near Boston you have probably been here a million times or more. I know I have!! Unlike when I was a child, they now have Imax!! I truly enjoyed my Imax trip under the ocean on my last visit. However, my daughter thought it was boring so I will leave the Imax portion of this trip to your discretion. No one disagreed on the fun we had watching the various fish and playing with the assortment of hands on activities. They are located at Central Wharf, Boston. For more information call 617-973-5200 or go to www.newenglandaquarium.org .

The Mary Baker Eddy Library/Mapparium This fun little museum is a new find for me but it sounds like a must see. According to Go Card you can walk across a bridge that spans the interior of a three story stained glass world globe!! So why not bring your kids to the center of the earth while teaching them a thing or two about world geography!! They are located at 200 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston. For more information call 617-450-7000 or go to www.marybakereddylibrary.org

Franklin Park Zoo This one is yet another classic. Bring your picnic lunch and make a day of watching all the exotic animals, 160 different species to be exact. Best yet, if you are from the city, you can get a taste of life on the farm at the petting zoo. They are located at One Franklin Park Road, Boston. For more information call 617-541-LION (617-541-5466) or go to www.zoonewengland.org

New England Sports Museum Some people find this exciting but I find it a huge bore. If you are a big sports fan like my husband and kids then you wont want to miss this one. They are located at TD Banknorth Garden, Causeway St, Boston and their admission desk is located at the Box Office. They can be reached by phone at 617-624-1235 or on the web at www.sportsmuseum.org .

Fenway Park My kids and husband love this one so here it is for all of you Red Sox fans. According to the Go Card website you can get a tour of Fenway Park by visiting 4 Yawkey Way, Boston or by calling 617-226-6666. They also have a website of www.redsox.com/tours.

Tomb by 5 WITS My daughter and I read about this fun locations interactive special effects and …

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