Tuesday, November 20, 2007

NOVEMBER 20, 2007

In the oft-repeated word of judge Len Goldman, last night's semi-final performances on Dancing With the Stars were "fantastic." Five of the eight received perfect 30 scores, leaving Helio Castroneves and Mel B in a 60-60 tie. Despite effusive praise from all three judges, Marie Osmond wound up at the back of the pack with a score of 56, trailing Jennie Garth who was awarded a total of 58 points.

As usual, the songs were often at odds with the rhythms of their dances, which the contestants were allowed to choose. Crossing national boundaries with aplomb, Mel B did a Vienesse waltz to Queen's "Somebody to Love," which judge Carrie Ann Inaba called "all that and then some." In the Latin round, wearing a skintight purple catsuit that made her chest look like a bolster, she and Maksim Chmerkovskiy did the pasa doble to The Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction." Both dances delighted the judges and brought the duo a pair of perfect scores.

Helio and Julianne Hough, both dressed in green, did the foxtrot to Dean Martin's "Ain't That a Kick in the Head" and then closed the show -- in red this time -- with a kitschy cha cha cha to the tune of The Ohio Players' "Lover Rollercoaster." They also received 30s for both turns on the floor.

Marie Osmond got a standing ovation for her show-opening quickstep and giddy praise for her clothes-shedding mambo, but her scores toted up to a less-than-perfect 56. And while Jennie Garth got 30 from the judges for a cha cha cha to the tune of Wilson Pickett's "Mustang Sally," her tango earlier in the show got only a 28.

Tonight's show will reveal which of the couples will be sent packing to leave the final three who will compete in the finals. Scheduled guests on tonight's show are rocker Avril Lavigne and "Lord of the Dance" Michael Flatley.

Dancing With The Stars Leaderboard
Helio Castroneves and Julianne Hough- 60
Mel B and Maksim Chmerkovskiy- 60
Jennie Garth and Derek Hough- 58
Marie Osmond and Jonathan Roberts- 56 (our elimination prediction)

10 Things You Should Never Say To a Car Salesman

If you want that seductive new sedan at a good price, you're probably going to need to know what to say — and more importantly, what not to say.

Ready, Set, Go!
1. "I'm ready to buy now."
This is an admission of weakness and an invitation for the dealer to throw out a price that's slightly below the manufacturer's suggested retail price to see if you'll take the bait. It shows that you're too eager and willing to consider an offer, and it also gives salespeople the advantage by allowing them to talk you up as opposed to you talking them down. But by adding some very precise parameters, you'll sound confident and strong from the start.

Monthly Payment
2. "I can afford this much per month."
Don't tell the dealer what you're willing to pay per month. If the dealer can get a number out of you, a common trick is to ask if you can squeeze out a slightly higher monthly payment, then raise the bottom-line price accordingly by hundreds or even thousands. Avoid this by insisting that you focus only on the purchase price. Walk away if the salesperson only wants to talk in monthly payments.

3. "Yes, I have a trade-in."
Don't tell salespeople you have a trade-in until a final transaction price is set. If you do and the deal hasn't been made yet, they may try to distract you with the "great" deal they're giving you on your trade-in as they skimp on the real deal. And if you catch that, they may try writing your trade-up for less.

Cash-Only Please
4. "I'm only buying the car with cash."
Car dealers make a significant chunk of added profit when they sell you financing. If you don't at least leave the dealer with the possibility that he or she might sell you financing, you simply won't be getting the best deal. Say something like "I haven't really thought that through yet. Maybe we'll see what you have after we agree on a price."

Still Debating
5. "I'm not sure…which model do you think I need?"
If you're this undecided, you may end up driving away in a vehicle you neither wanted nor needed. Do the research in advance. If your uncertainty is apparent, you may end up buying the model with the most add-on equipment, the highest sticker price and, of course, the most profit for the dealer.

My Dream Car
6. "Oh, I've wanted one of these all my life."
As soon as you've lost yourself in the dreamy vision of that gleaming convertible, the salesperson has you hooked, and your chances of getting a great deal are over. Don't get caught heavy breathing. Certainly don't admit to your spouse — with the salesman listening in the backseat — that you're in love with the car.

What Everyone Wants
7. "I'll take whatever the popular options are."
Don't ever ask for the "popular options" especially on a luxury model that already comes loaded. It's an open invitation for overpriced dealer add-ons like interior protection, window etching or undercoating.

Lowest You Can Go
8. "What's the lowest price you can give me?"
Most likely, this question won't be taken seriously, and you will be met with a predictable performance. The salesperson will wince, maybe talk to the manager, fiddle with numbers and eventually come back with a price that probably isn't a very good deal for you. To avoid this, make an informed and reasonable low offer, then wait for a counteroffer. Don't be afraid of silence. Conversely, don't be surprised if there's even a little drama.

Doing The Math
9. "Sure, I'll look at the numbers with you."
Perhaps quite early in your visit, the salesperson will most likely make an offer to "just go look at the numbers." Dealers do this when they sense you're undecided, but they want to be in the position of control. Getting you in the office makes it harder for you to back out. Wait until you can call the shots of what you want at what price.

The Haggle Factor
10. "I think you can do a lot better than that."
Never scold or accuse the salespeople. Be polite. Compliment them, and show respect. You'll never get the best price if you talk down to them. At least for the moment, you want them to be your friends. Let the scene play out, but leave when the deal's not good enough by quietly suggesting that the competition across town might be more willing to work with you.

I'm not trying to be overdramatic here, but if you're flying somewhere this year for Thanksgiving, maybe you should think about getting to the airport 22 hours early.

According to the Air Transport Association... which is a trade group for all of the major U.S. airlines... 27 MILLION Americans are going to be flying somewhere this Thanksgiving.

That's NINE PERCENT of the people in this country flying somewhere... The planes should be about 90% full on average... except on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday and Monday after it, when they're all pretty much packed to capacity. Each of those days will have 2.5 million fliers alone.

About 4% more people are flying this Thanksgiving than last Thanksgiving.

And that's a bad sign, since this has been the WORST YEAR in airline industry history for on-time flights... WITHOUT all of these extra people flooding into the airport like they will over the next two weeks.

More than 24% of domestic flights this year were late, as of the end of September.

When you're packing to leave town tonight or tomorrow, the TSA is asking you to keep them in mind and do them a favor: PACK NEATLY.

Yesterday, the TSA launched a new campaign asking us to try to pack our carry-ons neatly, and in layers.

By layers, they mean: Put in a layer of neatly folded clothes. Then a layer of electronics. Then another neat layer of clothes. Then a layer of cords, tightly wrapped. And possibly one final neat layer of clothes.

According to Ellen Howe, the TSA spokeswoman, quote, "If you eliminate clutter, it helps us get a cleaner look at the contents of a bag [on an X-ray]."

She says that if you don't do that, it could add three minutes to the security line. So, if lots of people are keeping their bags messy, the lines could be way, way longer than they need to be.

Throughout the history of the world, millions and millions of people have died for their right to vote. So it's UNBELIEVABLY disappointing to hear that the future leaders of this country would be willing to trade their right to vote for an IPOD.

In a new survey of students at New York University (which is a really respectable school by the way) 20% said they'd be willing to exchange their right to vote in the next presidential election for the new iPod Touch.

66% would give up their right to vote in the 2008 presidential election for a full scholarship to NYU... which, for four years, including tuition and room and board, runs around $180,000.

50% say they would give up their right to vote FOREVER for $1 MILLION.

BUT... at the same time, almost everyone in the survey turned around and said the politically correct thing: Voting is important. 90% of the people who'd give up the right permanently for $1 MILLION say voting is very important or somewhat important.

70.5% of the students overall said they believe one vote can make a difference... including 70% of the students who would trade their vote in 2008 for tuition.

"Who would be the toughest daughter-in-law/girlfriend to bring home for the holidays?"
Amy Winehouse - 41.2%
Britney Spears - 34%
Paris Hilton 8.6%
Victoria 'Posh Spice' Beckham - 6.1%
Madonna - 4.7%
Jennifer Lopez - 3.4%
Nicole Richie - 1.4%
Demi Moore - 0.7%

"Who would be the easiest daughter-in-law/girlfriend to bring home for the holidays?"
Jennifer Garner - 37.6%
Jennifer Aniston - 25.6%
Reese Witherspoon - 14.7%
Hilary Duff - 5.1%
Katie Holmes - 4.7%
Beyonce 2.7%
Heidi Klum - 2.7%
Natalie Portman - 2.7%
Katherine Heigl - 2.0%
Sarah Jessica Parker - 1.6%
Courteney Cox - 0.7%

A review of Oprah's Favorite Things
Trans Siberian Orchestra Tickets
Who was voted off DWTS?
Willie Waffle's Movie Reviews