Wednesday, November 21, 2007

NOVEMBER 21, 2007

Does Marie Osmond have some kind of immunity idol I don't know about?

If this season's Dancing With the Stars has proven one thing, it's that the fans have the final word. And Marie Osmond will be the first to say that the fans are the reason she is in the finals, along with Mel B and Helio Castroneves. It was Jennie Garth, not fighting back tears, who took a final spin on the dance floor with partner Derek Hough to Bon Jovi's "Blaze of Glory" after being dropped from the competition.

The night wasn't all about tears and good-byes though. Dancing With the Stars welcomed back sixth-week eliminated couple Sabrina Bryan and her partner (and beau) Mark Ballas, who danced to a live performance by Avril Lavigne of her hit "Complicated." "Lord of the Dance" Michael Flatley also brought his ensemble to the floor and the audience to their feet with his signature brand of fancy footwork. Dancing alum Kenny Maynes may have struck comedic gold tonight when he visited with last season's Laila Ali, season two's Lisa Rinna and season three's Harry Hamlin and Tucker Carlson -- all serving a stint in "Dancing Re-hab."

The drama will continue to unfold next week when the remaining three couples will dance a judge's choice and the long awaited freestyle number leading up to the season finale.
Drama of another sort is taking place away from the T-V screen -- on the computer screen -- as thousands who visit the show's online message boards have resorted to slanderous remarks against the competitors, their families, their fans and even their faith. Less than savory language and content run rampant at this point in the competition, as do repeated accusations of a "fixed" result.

For those of you who can't cook but would like to contribute to the Thanksgiving feast, offer to help cleanup! Although it isn't an appealing chore, cleaning up is the EASIEST part of the meal. But there's an art, believe it or not, to cleaning up ..

Don't start the second the meal ends. If you start picking up plates while a few slow eaters are still chewing it will make them feel rushed. Even though you'd like to get cleaning up over with, you're better off waiting until the table has cleared of people before starting the clean-up process. Let people linger at the table, without hovering over them, picking up gravy boats and wine glasses. Let people have a chance to take a breath and enjoy the entire meal from the beginning, middle, to the bitter end.

So you prepared and cooked an awesome Thanksgiving turkey, but you're not hosting everyone at your house. How do you get the turkey from your oven to someone else's table successfully?
According to, you should pack the turkey and stuffing in an insulated cooler with ice or frozen gel paks for travel. When you get to your destination, re-heat the turkey and stuffing at 325 degrees or in a microwave. You want to make sure the food reaches an internal temp of 165 degrees.

Throw away any food that gets above refrigerator temp (about 40 degrees). If food gets too warm, bacteria grows quickly. Food poisoning is no picnic, especially on a holiday!

Here are a few important Thanksgiving "don'ts":

NEVER partially cook a turkey at your house and then try to finish cooking it later.

NEVER put a turkey in the oven at a low temp the night before and try to carry it, fully cooked, to your destination. It must be roasted at 325 degrees.

NEVER stuff or dress a raw bird and transport it for cooking later. Instead, make the stuffing, chill it, carry it to your destination in a cooler, then bake it as soon as you can.

They don't call the day after Thanksgiving "Black Friday" for nothing. It's all about launching the megastores “into the black” – into profitability. They profit not by offering goods at a loss, but by using ultra-low prices to lure you into their stores, where they can employ dirty tricks to make money. But with these secrets, and some smart planning, you can make “Black Friday” profitable for yourself, not the store.

1: Most Black Friday deals are leaked early online.
Check sites that post leaked Black Friday ads and info, and give yourself an advantage over the masses. The four best sites are:,,, and of these sites will optionally send you an e-mail whenever they post a new ad or new information. (So will Wal-mart's "Secret Section.") Some have cell phone versions of the site for referring while in-store.

2: Many Black Friday deals are bait-and-switch scams.
They may sell you a very cheap product with a very expensive warranty, or use a given price, but add software, accessories or other over-priced add-ons as a required but unadvertised part of the purchase. You’ll find out about this only at the register. If the price at the register is significantly higher than advertised for any reason, ask to speak to a supervisor and insist on the advertised price. If they still refuse, threaten to write a letter to the attorney general.

3: Get the best price by knowing price-match and return policies.
Many stores offer price-match guarantees (if a competitor offers a lower price, they'll match it). Increasingly, Black Friday sales are exempt from all this. Others have a return policy that, in effect, is a price-match guarantee for the store itself (if they drop the price, the difference is later refunded to you if you ask for it). If you know which product you want to buy, and can find a store with a price-match guarantee that honors Black Friday prices, buy it! When Black Friday rolls around, you can go looking for the best price, and not have to worry about whether the store is out of stock. If a store is willing to refund the difference between its own normal price and its Black Friday price, buy it early for the same reason.

4: Beat the system by shopping in teams.
Stores rely on a long list of tricks, from limited sale hours to low inventories in order to lure you into the stores without giving you the time to comparison shop for the product you want at the best possible price. Have one team member in each store when it opens, each with a list of what everyone wants to buy.Use to set up broadcast SMS. Each team member finds every product on the list, then broadcasts pricing. The person at the store with the lowest price for each item buys it.

5: Use your cell phone to surf the web.
You can also use standard sites like, and to check just how good prices are. Sometimes Black Friday prices can be beat online anytime.

6: Some Black Friday promos are designed to unload loser products.
Products that are obsolete, unpopular, damaged or returned are prime candidates for Black Friday sales. Make sure you narrow your list of products, so you don't end up buying something you don’t really want.

7: Shop early. Very early.
Many stores will open at midnight this year. Many open as early as 5 am. Find out in advance what time each store opens, so you can plan accordingly.

8: Some of the best deals are advertised only on Thanksgiving.
Make sure you get all the local newspaper on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday.

9: Some Black Friday deals are actually buyable online.
Others are buyable only online, or have prices that actually beat in-store prices. Start checking prices on Thanksgiving. Check Web sites again very early Black Friday morning, and shop there first -- then go to the stores only if you have to. Still other stores let you order items online the day before, and pick them up on Black Friday.

10: Plan ahead to think clearly.
Bring food, wear comfortable shoes, and leave the kids at home (kids can influence impulse buying or convince you to leave early). Stay focused, and don’t let yourself be caught up in the frenzy. Black Friday is a zero-sum game. Either the store wins, or you do. Use these tips to beat the stores at their own game.

A watchdog group called World Against Toys Causing Harm (WATCH) just put out its 35th annual list of the 10 WORST toys for Christmas, which features toys that can be potentially dangerous... or even DEADLY... for kids.

Number one this year? The Go Diego Go Animal Rescue boat by Fisher Price. The reason: It's made in China . . . and, naturally, they covered it in LEAD PAINT. It was recalled, but some are still out there.That's the only thing on the list because of a China connection, though... all of the other toys are dangerous because they could cause physical harm... like a toy called the Rubber Band Shooter that's just begging to take someone's eye out.

For a complete list, click here.

More than half of us will do this before the end of Thanksgiving weekend. What is it?

Put up a Christmas tree.