Friday, May 09, 2008

I, the Jury; Obama-Clinton?; Meredith's Wardrobe (Friday Roundup)

I've done my time, I'm coming home ... Jury duty began and ended Monday morning. I learned a great deal about our county's judicial system, the difference between a district and a circuit court and that the Great State of Alabama is still under the assumption that $.05/mile is sufficient mileage reimbursement. This figure was arrived at sometime during the 1890s and remains on the state's constitution. It's a good thing that inflation hasn't affected gas prices, so I feel adequately compensated for my mileage.

The daily pay for jury work in this state is $10, which doesn't seem commensurate with the amount of time that a juror spends away from home, work and, perhaps, the mall. But for someone who was there for a little more than an hour, it wasn't quite so bad.

It was neither a felony nor a mental illness that led to my early dismissal. Just a lean docket already filled with seated juries and no need for the 150 people who reported Monday morning. It appears that everyone around here must be on good behavior and is staying clean and out of court. Except for the woman in front of me who was wearing slacks (not jeans or pants, even; they were "slacks") and a very present turquoise thong that became increasingly painful to keep track of. If she were on trial, I would have found her guilty of bad taste and offending everyone on the bench behind her. And then I would have slapped her with a fine for trying to worm out of jury duty, which she did when she and her thong approached the bench and asked to be excused. The judge promptly ordered her and her thong to return to their seat. This is a COURT OF LAW, not a NIGHT CLUB.

Within three days, I received a check for $11.80 and an invitation to be a poll worker, a position that pays exactly $11.80 LESS than being a juror. Poll workers always appear to be drinking bottomless cups of coffee and having a grand time sharpening pencils and handing out stickers before they break for lunch at Cracker Barrel. But I probably wouldn't make a very effective poll worker. I would ask the voter's name, pretend to scan the list, look the voter up and down and say things like, "Let me guess -- straight Democratic ticket, right?" Or, "THAT'S funny. You don't LOOK like a Republican. Boy, you sure had me fooled!" This is why political science and I never meshed.


Obama-Clinton in '08? That's the ticket! ... Pundits who have nothing else to say after Tuesday's returns in North Carolina and Indiana are now mumbling about a possible Obama-Clinton ticket that, they theorize, would bring order and cohesion to the Democratic Party. As I've admitted, I'm no political scientist, but wouldn't that be like Montague-Capulet? Sharks-Jets? Crips-Bloods? Tyson-Holyfield?

If I had Photoshop on this computer, I would superimpose Obama's and Clinton's heads on the bodies of Tyson and Holyfield. And you would be laughing right now. I don't know which head would go on which body. I'll let you make that decision.


I've gone almost all week without mentioning The Today Show, but I need to share with you a very urgent phone call I received at 7:15 a.m. Thursday. "I know you're busy getting everyone out the door, but you have GOT to see what Meredith is wearing today."

So I glanced at the TV just in time to see Meredith wearing a jacket that Matt had apparently just taken off and put on Meredith's cold shoulders as he departed for the train tracks beneath the Waldorf-Astoria in Midtown. WHY OH WHY is the lovely and once-trendy Meredith wearing my great-grandmother's clothes? Who gave her the stash of Simplicity patterns and told her to make her own suits? She used to be so much more hip than this. She fell into fashion peril about the same time Kathie Lee Gifford joined the crew. Draw your own conclusions, but I'm guessing Kathie Lee Gifford has stolen the key to the wardrobe department or taken all of the cute clothes as her own. And it's wrong.


Some 33 years ago, Dennis Rosser in my third-grade class drew an asymmetrical orange basketball on a Corel plate as a gift for his mother on Mother's Day. Beneath his drawing were these words: Bounce Your Way to Mother's Day.

Have a delightful weekend, and whether you are a mother, have a mother or know a mother, may you bounce your way to Mother's Day...

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Why I've Been Asked Not to Shop at Costco...

Because this is the type of thing I bring home...

It's a crappy picture, but the Net Wt. reads: 65 oz.

It doesn't fit in the cabinet.

So it sits on the countertop.

Next to the enormous bag of chips that came with a shoulder strap and a keg of cooking oil that nobody can lift.

"Why do you buy these things?" I don't know.

"Then don't shop there." I can't help it.

I have no plans for the artichoke hearts, but they sure look tempting, don't they? That's how they landed in my cart. But don't let their appearance fool you. (Read more here.)

Monday, May 05, 2008

Meeting the Stars ... and a Side of Meat Loaf Substitute

Today we'll talk about being starstruck--the kind of starstruckness that you may experience when you see a famous person. I'm not talking about seeing a famous person where it makes sense, like at a concert, or a book signing. I'm talking about the starstruckness you experience when you see a famous person when you don't expect it. Like in a restaurant. Or mall. Or hotel lobby. Or grocery store.

The following tale comes from my field reporter in the Nashville area. She is my very pregnant cousin Lori who is suffering gestational diabetes, a condition that apparently is not affected by a high cannoli intake. Read on:

This past week I was placing my order for some cannoli at the local Publix bakery. I suddenly noticed a well-built African American man to my left who was wearing what appeared to be the most awesome pair of designer jeans I have ever spotted on a man. Well, you can imagine my astonishment when this strapping gentleman caught me staring at his lower half, and I looked up to see that it was none other than Mr. Aaron Neville. (Background info: The Nevilles apparently moved to Brentwood from New Orleans right after Hurricane Katrina.) I immediately readjusted my gaze to a key lime pie and began texting Brantley (editor's note: her husband) to tell him. His response was, "Wow. I don't care." Somewhat angered by his flippant response, I decided to embellish a bit, so I told him that he was just jealous because he missed hearing Aaron Neville sing a song to my belly. I don't know why, but he bought it momentarily. I did, however, end my visit to the Publix bakery with somewhat of a singsong comment to the lady behind the counter just to see what kind of response it would get. "I don't know much...but I know I love cannoli." Aaron Neville didn't seem to notice (I guess I wasn't a dead ringer for Linda Ronstadt), and there ended my star sighting for the week.

You must admit that there's something about Aaron Neville's stage presence.

This is Aaron Neville in a pair of jeans, perhaps not unlike the jeans he was wearing at the Publix bakery where the gestationally diabetic Lori was purchasing cannoli. You be the judge.

I love stories like this. Average American minds his/her own business and WHAM! Face-to-face with a major celebrity.

My friend David once worked in the men's department of a major retail store at the mall. Frankie Valli was in town and was in sudden need of a new suit, so he headed to that very mall. David waited on him, helped him choose a suit, then rang up the sale. The entire floor was abuzz with the Most Famous Customer of the Day. So David, caught up in the excitement of his brush with greatness, called me. He spoke in a giddy but hushed tone.

"Amy, you're not going to believe who just came in here and bought a suit from me."
I named a long list of celebrities and politicians.
"Nope, it was Frankie Valli."
"Oh, cool!"
"Amy, who is Frankie Valli?"

My husband (only he wasn't my husband yet) and I were having dinner at a restaurant in Underground Atlanta, when Richard Pryor and his entourage walked right by our table, up a small flight of outdoor steps and into their horse-drawn carriage.

This is the late Richard Pryor. He had a notorious potty mouth, but was known by many as a comedic genius. At our house, we will always remember him best for his swagger as he walked past our table at Buck's in Underground Atlanta. Buck's probably doesn't exist anymore, but we certainly enjoyed it while it lasted.

In Cleveland, Ohio, we once chased down who we THOUGHT was Meat Loaf because it made sense to us that Meat Loaf would be in the lobby of a Cleveland hotel because The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame had opened two weeks earlier. I don't think Meat Loaf had been inducted, but he certainly should have been.

"Paradise by the Dashboard Light"?

"I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)"?

"Two Out of Three Ain't Bad"????

Oh, HECK yeah, I'd chase him down. But it's like when a dog chases a car. What if he catches it? Then what? That's what I was thinking as I was walking briskly through the hallways of this hotel, trying to track down who turned out NOT to be Meat Loaf.

"Excuse me, sir? Mr. Meat Loaf?"
"Yes, I am Meat Loaf."
"Well, OK then..."

If you saw someone who looked like this in a Cleveland, Ohio hotel lobby, you would also mistake him for Marvin (or Michael) Lee Aday, a.k.a. Meat Loaf.

I once stood in a buffet line behind Joe from Blue's Clues. Without his Blue's Clues garb, he is slightly hot, so I nudged my then-5-year-old and used her as bait to engage Joe (Donovan Patton) in a conversation as we prepared our plates. I wonder if he remembers it as vividly as I do.

Olympic gold medalist Vonetta Flowers (bobsledding, 2002, Salt Lake City) used to live near by, but I was still surprised to see her in the produce section of the local Winn Dixie. She was equally surprised when I grabbed a couple of my kids by their arms and said, "Kids, this is Vonetta Flowers" and nodded my head a lot, hoping they wouldn't say, "So? We don't know who she is." But she was ever so gracious and Olympic-like as I explained to them that she is an internationally acclaimed athlete.

We recently saw American Idol winner Ruben Studdard (season two, 2003) in the lobby of the local movie theater. I purposely and loudly said, "Oh, look, there's Ruben Studdard," thinking he would perhaps wave or at least NOD in our direction. He just kept walking. That's right, Ruben -- just keep walking. We only cheered you on EVERY SINGLE EPISODE OF SEASON TWO, when we could have been cheering for Clay Aiken ... or watching something else. Being dissed by an American Idol is not cool.

But I'll tell you what IS cool: Seeing a living civil rights activist. Just last weekend at a downtown art show, while standing in line for frozen lemonade (NOT the Frito pie), we saw civil rights activist Fred Shuttlesworth, who continues to recover from a stroke and is in a wheelchair. You would think from that brief description that we would know him when we saw him. But I will confess here that I was momentarily tongue-tied (read: starstruck) and tugged at my husband's shirt and whispered, "Look, there's Abraham Woods."

"No, it's not."
"Yes, it is."
"Well, my GOSH, I think I know a living civil rights activist when I see one."
"But you don't know that one." He was right, I was wrong; it was Fred Shuttlesworth.

Had I gone shopping at a Wal-Mart that is only 35 minutes from my home this weekend, I would have run smack into American Idol runner-up Bo Bice (season four), who was scheduled to sign autographs beneath the "Save Money, Live Better" sign. I would have been surprised and a little starstruck because I would not have expected him to be there. Then again, he probably didn't expect to be there either.