Saturday, April 05, 2008

This Is What Procrastination Looks Like

I have run away from home to finish some projects that are due in the next couple of days and that NOBODY I live with is interested in seeing me finish. My nicely equipped home office has, in the past 24 hours, become a Barbie compound, so I left. Just like that. And I landed at one of my favorite bookstores, which just happens to serve coffee and food and is WAY too popular on a Saturday morning.
Oh, this is an ADD sufferer's NIGHTMARE! I am sitting under a speaker that is playing some pretty catchy jazz and am surrounded by some of the most interesting and talkative people in the Southeast. (Some are just talkative, others are just unattractive. Few are both. All are distracting.)

In only 20 minutes of observing, I have come up with several story ideas that I will pitch to magazines:
"100 Ways to Wear a Scarf"
"Just Because It's Saturday Doesn't Mean You Shouldn't Care"
"Velveeta Cheese Did What?"

Any takers?

OK. Pretend I am whispering the following to you on a cell phone ...

* Right now, I have a bird's eye view of a young lady's butt crack because her pants are cut too low and her shirt was clearly washed in hot water and dried on "high heat." (Uh-oh! Someone has been to the tanning bed!)

* Meanwhile, the older man and woman RIGHT NEXT TO ME are engaged in one of the most BORING conversations I have ever heard. (And I have heard a LOT of boring conversations in my time.) They are apparently cousins who don't see each other very often, recently returned from Miami and who delight in breaking down their ENTIRE family tree, which just happens to include (and you won't believe this) ... Elvis. The woman seems disinterested in the topic at hand and can't get a word in edgewise, and I think she is about to drink poison.

* Another man and woman are sitting at the table directly in front of me. The woman needs a hairbrush and is polishing off a beer that she is enjoying with her chicken and dumplings--a food-and-beverage combination I wouldn't have thought of, but kudos to her. And whoa! Her male companion just burped like a drunken sailor! What is this? Happy hour at the bookstore? And as I typed those words, the woman just turned around and looked at me, then laughed out loud. "I wondered what that clicking noise was! And it was YOU!" Yep, that was me, documenting your behavior.

OK, enough with the blogging. Back to work ...

I am certain you'll find lots of other ADD sufferers over at ...

Friday, April 04, 2008

Relatives, Cheerleaders and Pregnant Men, Oh, My! (Friday Roundup)

This is such a tiny little world we live in ... Imagine my joy to find a long-lost relative through this blog. I received this comment on my Family Reunion post last week from Jami, who, I believe, lives in Texas: WE ARE RELATED!! I'm a direct descendant of Robert E. Lee, too - or so I've been told. Of course, that may have just been my grandmother trying to explain away her beard, too. (Yeah, I know we're ALL related somewhere/somehow but only having to go back 150 years is almost can't-marry-'em cousins territory.)

Where's the integrity? ...
In journalism classes and in writing for newspapers and magazines, you learn a lot of things. Like when you should identify a person's gender or race. "The escaped convict is a black man, stands about 6 feet tall and is considered armed and dangerous." Or, "The missing Korean woman was last seen outside her trailer late Wednesday afternoon and was wearing a tube top and jeans with 'Juicy' across the rear." These are vital identifying factors. But I would bet that nowhere, I mean NOWHERE, has a journalism professor ever said, "You should always identify a cheerleader as a cheerleader." Why, then, does the media insist on doing this? (No knocks against cheerleaders, by the way.) The fact that a teenager, who died on the operating table, was a cheerleader, I will tell you, is not the lead. (The lead is that a high school student was having breast augmentation surgery and died.) Matt Lauer, however, will tell you otherwise. "A cheerleader dies during breast surgery. What went wrong? Hear her family's story in the next half-hour." I fully expect Mr. Outdoors to respond to this question of journalistic integrity.

I can't let this one slip by ... I do not watch Oprah. I am not a fan of Oprah. I firmly believe that as she nears death, she will sit on a hospital bed, cloaked in radiant fabrics as Maya Angelou recites poetry in the corner and Dr. Phil counsels the grieving friends in the waiting room, while reporters and her Best Friend Gayle stand vigil at her bedside, hold her hands and ask, "Please? Just a few more words of wisdom? Please, Oprah, don't leave us just STANDING here!" Anyway, word is she had the Pregnant Man on her show yesterday. I don't have anything to add to that. Except this: I convinced my husband to go to a spinning class with me last night. He left after only 20 minutes. Draw your own conclusions.

If you've been working for the weekend, as EVERYBODY does, you'll be glad to know it's here. Enjoy ...

Get other perspectives on more current events over at

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

On the Road Again (& Cooking With Amy)

I have deadlines for PAYING jobs, so I'll make this one quick.

(Editor's Note: This is a continuation of College Road Trip: 20 Years Later.) These photos were taken before digital photography. Before 35 mm was commonplace. And sometime after the Brownie. If you guessed the Kodak 110, you're a winner! What you are seeing are photos of the photos, but I assure you that this second-generation processing did not sacrifice the quality of the originals. Even Photoshop couldn't save these prints. I'm sorry I cannot provide special glasses for your viewing pleasure.

1. This is at a gas station on the Alabama-Tennessee line. My only regret with this picture is that I don't have an interior shot of the LeBaron to show you that the ceiling liner was held up by one lone seam, somewhere around the dome light. It was like riding in Ali Baba's tent.
2. This is a sign posted inside yet another truck stop. I thought $1.00 for a shower with your fuel purchase was a pretty good deal. The added security of the fuel clerk holding the key would put any trucker at ease.
3. On centerstage at the Ryman, where Patsy Cline would have stood. Lisa looks gorgeous. She and Don went on to marry and have two boys, despite those hideous jeans he's wearing (third from left).

And it being Wednesday, the day that I provide cooking tips and recipes, I am turning my thoughts to backyard barbecues. The reasons are twofold: 1) It's springtime in Alabama and pollen or no pollen, most cooking is done outdoors; and 2) The Nashville trip holds one especially warm and fuzzy memory that involved a backyard barbecue.
The bullet points:
* We learned the name and address of a music producer who lived somewhere near Franklin.
* We went to his house.
* He was having a barbecue in his backyard.
* Not knowing what else to do, he invited us to join him and his guests.
* We brought our cassette player.
* We played our song in the backyard while he pretended to listen.
* Don fell out of the aluminum lawn chair and spilled beans on his pants.
* The music producer didn't give us glowing reviews.
* The food was EXCELLENT.

I personally don't use our gas grill because it scares me, especially after the small fire of 2004, but I certainly appreciate the food that someone else cooks on my grill.

Gas Grill Safety Tips
(from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission)
Each year about 30 people are injured as a result of gas grill fires and explosions. (Don't I know it!) Many of these fires and explosions occur when consumers first use a grill that has been left idle for a period of time or just after refilling and reattaching the grill's gas container. (Or if they buy a cheap model from Big Lots for about $70.) To reduce the risk of fire or explosion, consumers should routinely perform the following safety checks:
* Check grill hoses for cracking, brittleness, holes and leaks. Make sure there are no sharp bends in the hose or tubing. (Someone should have told me about this.)
* Move gas hoses as far away as possible from hot surfaces and dripping hot grease. If you can't move the hoses, install a heat shield to protect them. (What's a heat shield?)
* Never use a grill indoors. Use the grill at least 10 feet away from your house or any building. Do not use the grill in a garage, breezeway, carport, porch or under a surface that can catch fire.
* Always follow the manufacturer's instructions that accompany the grill. (Our instruction booklet was written in Korean, which I began to speak fluently as I pulled charred steaks from the flames and the fire truck stopped in front of my house.)

Back to work ...

Read about other unfortunate events at

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

So Much Crap, So Little Time

Editor's Note: I'll continue College Road Trip: 20 Years Later tomorrow, or the next day. I promise to make it worth your while, as I'm counting on the former "band members" to continue adding their two cents' worth. (Lisa! Where ARE you???) But we have a more pressing matter to address.

I'm three months into blogging, and I have but one thing to say: So Much Crap, So Little Time. As with everything else in this life, YOU HAVE TO CHOOSE YOUR FRIENDS CAREFULLY. I visit my favorite blogs DAILY and occasionally browse through comments in search of talented friends-in-law. Whoa, Nellie! Frightening people are ALL around us!

Just this morning, one friend-in-law seemed promising -- I read one of his comments on one of my favorite blogs, saw that his blog title was clever, found his comments dead-on hysterical. But THEN, I paid a little visit to his blog, and quickly exited and went to Confession. And I'm not even Catholic. Then I gouged out my eyes.

Blogging in this decade is what desktop publishing was to the '90s. Ten or 15 years ago, EVERYbody was an overnight graphic designer because they had PageMaker and a computer. (Those with deeper pockets bought Quark.) Now, free and easy access to blog sites has revealed either the writer or the PERVERT in WAY too many people.

I have a power drill and a miter saw in my garage, but I've never used either. If you own a computer, you don't HAVE to use it. Does that make me a snob? You bet your boots it does! I am a Blog Snob. Everyone, including myself, has off days, when the words don't flow, the ideas crumble. I'm not talking about writer's block. I'm talking about straight-up rule-breaking.

When bloggers should walk away from the computer:
• when their kids have diarrhea
• when they feel inclined to use four-letter words in EVERY SINGLE SENTENCE
• when they don't have much to say
• when they're feeling unlucky in love and have a few dirty pictures on hand

I'm not STUPID. I know how to filter out the obviously bad stuff and how to avoid most of the crap. It's the surprises that tick me off. If I go searching for a funny or enlightening post to start or end my day, I don't want to be blindsided by pornography or creative pairings of dirty words. Or worse, BAD WRITING.

Years ago, my grandfather and his wife went to the theater to see "Something About Mary." (I know -- funny movie.) Fifteen minutes into the movie, he left his seat, went to the lobby and asked for the manager, who was about 12. He told him that he would like his money back. The manager asked what the problem was. And here's what my grandfather said, "Son, if the good Lord came back and found me watching this, I just don't know what I would tell Him."

He got his money back.

Monday, March 31, 2008

College Road Trip: 20 Years Later

On my relatively short list of regrets, among them is this: not being a country singer. Had God gifted me with a singing voice of any quality, I know I would have made an excellent Nashville star. Or, at least, a competitive karaoke performer.

Instead, I have surrounded myself with very talented friends who are kind enough to let me tag along and experience the lifestyle of people who do have musical and theatrical skills. Today, I will share with you the tale of an ill-planned trip to Nashville, where country music careers were certain to take off for a group of 20something-year-old college students with a dream, a Chrysler LeBaron and a stack of sheet music.

Classical piano, covered. Superb vocals, covered. Stage presence, WAY covered. But nobody -- I mean, NOBODY -- in the LeBaron knew how to play a guitar. But we had a cassette recording of the music (whose origin I can't recall), so you know the quality was good. Don and David wrote the song, Joey sang, Lisa cracked jokes, and I practiced my publicity skills, as my job would be to write the press releases and teach the group how to handle the media as they skyrocketed to fame. Because at 20, I knew ALL about these things.

In honor of the 20th anniversary of this trip, here's your press release. Sort of. For the next couple of posts, I will share some interesting tidbits from our pilgrimage to Nashville.

We had but one song under our belt, but we figured that's all Garth Brooks (see photo) had at the beginning, too, and things were starting to work out fairly well for HIM. And our song was SO GOOD that it didn't need a Side B.

Ladies and gentlemen, as a timely nod to the looming April 15 tax deadline, I give you the lyrics to ...

"Another Bill To Pay"
(Verse 1)
The Nova needs a set of tires
my wallet needs a rest
by the time I think I'm just caught up
here comes the IRS
the TV set needs some tubes
and the Tide's about to play
but the mailman just made a drop
and it's another bill to pay...

It's another bill to pay
another penny spent
by the time I get my paycheck
it has done come and went
the kids need shoes, the wife a stove
but that's for another day
'cause the mailman just made a drop
and it's another bill to pay

(Verse 2)
The preacher just passed the plate around
the house note just came due
it's time for a trip to the A&P
the coupons have all been used
the six-pack's now down to one
but it'll have to last the day
'cause the mailman just made a drop and it's another bill to pay

You got your certified deposits
your IRAs and special savings accounts
but the only finances I know of
are the kind you write and bounce

It's another bill to pay
another penny spent
by the time I get my paycheck
it has done come and went
the kids need shoes, the wife a stove,
but that's for another day
'cause the mailman just made a drop
and it's another bill to pay ...

I'm sure you can find more recollections and fond memories over at