Sunday, May 31, 2009


[Edited to add: I generally dislike myself in photographs (it's a trait I share with Suzannes everywhere as I understand it), but events diva Mary Thorsby has managed to capture some surprisingly non-nauseating shots with her ever-ready Nikon of late. Thank you Mary!]

I met some friends this afternoon at Max's Courtyard for wine and cheese tasting and pairings. If there's a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon in Paducah, I don't know what it would be.

We sampled nine cheeses, four artisan breads, and four wines at three stations. The stations were arranged so one began with the lighter cheeses and (white) wines and progressed to richer cheeses and (red) wines including a pino and port by station number three. The cheeses: Butterkase (German), Manchego (sheep's milk cheese aged 6-9 months), St. Andre (triple cream brie) Aged Gouda, Piave (Italian cow's milk cheese aged 9 mos. to a year), Talleggio, Five Year Aged Cheddar, Red Dragon (from England, cow's milk cheese infused w/mustard seeds and soaked in ale), Cabrales (a seriously earthy bleu cheese). There were also cashews spiced with rosemary and cayenne. Just...yum. I'm not sure exactly who was responsible for what deliciousness, but I know it involved Kirchhoff's and Laura Duff. I can only hope they decide to make this a regular event.

After a relaxing sampling experience and some great conversation (don't ask me what it was), we stumbled en masse over to the MAC to see The Great Buck Howard, John Malkovich's latest offering. The film chronicles the adventures of (guess who?) Buck Howard, an aging "mentalist" (as opposed to magician) on the road in an endless road tour to nowheresville. Buck, played by Malkovich, is a smarmy, larger than life character in an obvious toupee who springs from limo's at aging venues in every second city from Akron to Bakersfield exclaiming, arms outstretched toward the sky, "I LOVE THIS TOWN!" Buck also shakes hands in a trademark arm-pumping style so enthusiastic it threatens to unhinge the shoulders of all who find themselves on the receiving end of it.

We learn at the end of the film that the character of Buck is actually based on The Amazing Kreskin, a performer my readers of a certain age will remember from the glory days of the Carson show. While the movie isn't going to make history, we all enjoyed it for the most part. Malkovich, as usual, managed to pull off an other difficult character and ultimately make "Buck" both laughable and sympathetic, not necessarily an easy line to walk.

My love for John Malkovich that began with Dangerous Liasons (Best quote: I have provided him with a wife trained by me to perform, quite naturally, services one would hesitate to request from a professional.) is still going strong. There are a few people out there who have the ability to inspire slavish devotion in me. John Malkovich is one of them. I was never quite the same after he sashayed onto the screen-- exhibiting equal parts nelliness and virility--as the Vicomte Sebastian de Valmont in 1988. (schwing!)

Malkovich is hardly a sex symbol despite his unique ability to smolder both ways, but I think his acting skill is obvious. He's one of those people that makes (me at least) breathe a sigh of relief when he appears on screen. Whatever the role? He's going to pull it off regardless of the idiocy that might be going on around him. John Malkovich is a little island of thespian competence. Blind depression era boarder (Places in the Heart)? Check. Brilliant, psycho presidential assassin (In the Line of Fire)? Done. Sensitive, conflicted southern boy (Glass Menagerie)? Not a problem. Sympathetic, mentally incompetent murdering itinerant farm worker (Of Mice and Men)? All in a day's work. Cool enough to have an entire feature film based around himself playing himself (Being John Malkovich)? Yawn (examine cuticles). He even manages to host SNL without looking like a jackass.

In his off time, Malkovich has created his own clothing line, Uncle Kimono. The actor has been married twice: first to actress Glenne Headly ('82-'88) and then to director (The Sheltering Sky, The Last Emporer) Nicoletta Peyran ('89-present) with whom he has two children: Lowry (born '92) and Amandine (born '90). An affair with DL co-star Michelle Pfeiffer ended his marriage to Headly. [Apparently, it really WAS beyond his control.]

While his marriage to Peyran may legally continue, it rumored that his latest paramour is French-Brazilian actress Cristiana Reali. It is said that Malkovich broke up Reali's marriage to Frenchman Francis Huster (he's apparently somebody and I'd tell you who if I could read French). The photo below of the pair with Mr. Unidentified between them does not of course constitute evidence of an affair, but I think it's a pretty safe bet. I can only imagine when JM fixes you with that strangely hypnotic, slightly off-kilter stare and then says something like,

"Cristiana? You will now. Leave your husband. And come. With me, "

in that carefully enunciated way of speaking he has, the only possible response would be something like,

"Can I bring my cat?" (dog/goldfish/whatever).

I was already pretty much gone on Malkovich when I learned that the object of so much of my cinematic affection actually sprang (if you can imagine) from the cornfields of southern Illinois, in a little town called Benton, a mere forty-five minutes up the road from our little berg. The great Malkovich strode the same high school hallways as my own father, albeit twelve years later. That would mean that, during those summer weeks I spent at Grandma's as a kid, I very likey came close to rubbing elbows with the man himself. Stranger still? Malkovich later attended Illinois State University in the town I also grew up in. During the same years I was growing up there. Saints preserve us.

I'm not sure how a character as worldly and sophisticated as JM rises from such beige surroundings. But there you have it. He comes from a family of journalists, his parents owned and ran the local newspaper in Benton and he is quoted as saying this about that, "But no one has thinner skins than journalists, in my experience, and I come from a family of them... They can dish it out but they can't take it."

Malkovich left ISU in 1976 at twenty-three, after the brilliante head of the theater dept. there told him he'd never make it as an actor. He moved to Chicago where he joined buddy Gary Sinise's (Lieutenant Dan) Steppenwolf Theater. Seven years later, he would win an Obie for his performance in Sam Shepherd's play "True West" and the rest is history.

Otherwise, Malkovich has lived in France for the better part of the twelve years, but now lives outside of Boston if IMDB is to be believed. He's politically significantly to the right of me (but who isn't) a fact that I uncovered researching this piece.

John will no doubt be relieved to know that I'm not holding it against him.

I'm guessing it's beyond his control.

Time to Fly

When I opened the back deck door this morning to let Tallulah and Isabelle out for their morning potties, my attention was immediately drawn to the verbena pot, now home to two baby robins and their mommy. The mommy robin was perched on the edge of the ornamental pot when I opened the door. I saw her fly away to a nearby tree where she quickly landed and proceeded to bird bitch at us loudly from a safe distance. The reason for her distress you see above (click for a giant version): one of her babies is out of the nest and I can only assume about to take flight.

We are a house full of dogs here: a Golden Retriever, West Highland Terrier and, next door, Dudley the Dachshund. All the dogs regularly traverse the giant back deck where this baby bird is now precariously perched. I shudder to think of what this baby's fate might be if either of the smaller dogs gets wind of the situation. I don't think Isabelle would eat the baby, she is a gentle giant, but either Tallulah or Dudley would likely not be so kind (though it wouldn't be personal--just business).

When I opened the door this morning Tallulah shot out, making a beeline for the pot in question. She began sniffing the deck just below where the baby bird is sitting, comically almost, a mere foot or so above her head. I had a heart stopping moment when I just knew Tallulah would look up, see the baby, stand up on her hind legs (as she does when curious), and snatch the bird from the rim with her teeth. Thankfully, I managed to distract her to the other end of the deck, get her to potty and back in the house. She kept trying to veer back off toward the bird, though. She senses something over there.

Once in the house, Tallulah wedged her head between the long blind and the door glass and spent some time staring outside in the general direction of the bird. Her Westie senses are no doubt tingling.

I'm fighting the impulse to look out the door myself every five minutes. I can't fix the situation, I can only hope for the best. It's is a feeling with which I'm all too familiar parenting, as I do, a grown son.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Jon & Kate: The Sh!t Storm Continues

Just when you thought it couldn't look any bleaker for the Gosselin clan, People, Entertainment Weekly, and everybody else on the interweb is reporting the Jon & Kate TLC show is now under investigation in regard to child labor laws. As I wrote earlier this month in my "Beyond the Spotlight" post, this particular facet of the brilliant-cut Gosselin controversy has been brewing online since at least last year (and probably longer).

Get the scoop from People right here.


I knew something was going on a few weeks ago when, each time I'd water the verbena growing in a pot on the back deck, a robin would flap angrily up out of the larger ornamental container the verbena pot was resting in. I suspected a nest-- had in fact lifted the verbena and checked for one. I'd seen what I thought was the edge of a nest, but didn't want to disturb anything by investigating.

Today, while watering I checked again, only this time, when I lifted the verbena pot, I was met by the babies:

They really blend well with their surroundings, don't they? Strangely, it actually made for a worse shot when they both looked into the lens:

I replaced the verbena as quickly as I could after snapping these shots (only five in all). Good luck, babies.

Friday, May 29, 2009


At some point, Nikki became my cruise director for the weekend. This is a very good thing since apparently being Nikki means waltzing around every night from house to house eating delicious food and drinking wine. Occasionally? She doodles on her car. Also? As of a few hours ago, sports the fabulous new flaming 'do pictured at left courtesy of Karson Kelley. I'm taking partial credit for the hair since I told her to do something bold and red. You should totally see a larger version of that photo, but something is wrong with my skillz, and I can only make it work at that inadequate size. Sorry.

Fortunately, I am able to present this close-up I snapped tonight of the rather more risque turn Nikki's car project has taken since its beginning at the Lowertown Art & Music Festival:

Oo, la la! Rumor has it that I'm going to get my own Nikkidoodled gas cap. It might have been the wine talking, but I'm holding her to it anyway.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Tapas at Paul and Monica's

Lessons learned over at least six courses of tapas at Paul and Monica's tonight:
  1. It's not a party unless there are at least two Jessicas in attendance

  2. I should bring my camera and memorialize each tapas course as it happens (Because my Blackberry camera sux...damn!).

  3. That Robert Downey, Jr rumor? Not true.

  4. On the other hand, something else might have happened with somebody from Chicago.

Chloe and friend show off their henna tattoos by Rachel Biel Taibi.

A close-up (such as is possible w/the Blackberry).

Monica's WASPy Henna Lite.

Jessica gets her henna on.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Jon and Kate: A heartbreaking premiere

It's taken me a whole 24 hours and two viewings of the season premiere of "Jon and Kate Plus 8" to figure out what I thought about it.

The premiere is an hour-long episode that centers around the sextuplet's fifth birthday party. While the Gosselins in seasons past were always interviewed together on a love seat, this episode (as shown in the trailers) featured the Gosselins in separate interviews that were surprisingly raw and at times emotional (mostly on Kate's part). Much media criticism has been heaped on the couple since the show aired for their failure to address directly the allegations of infidelity against Jon (with a third grade teacher) and Kate (with her bodyguard). There is at least an acknowledgement on Jon's part that "something" happened, he again apologizes for "not thinking clearly enough". At one point he goes so far as to say that he "did not cheat on Kate". He also says he would "like to apologize to my family for my actions".

My overall impression based on Jon's demeanor and tone is that he is a man who wants nothing so much as to run like hell away from Kate, his family, and The Situation (Kate says Jon feels this way during her interview). "I did not sign up for public scrutiny of everything and neither did Kate", Jon says. Though I'm not sure what he thinks it means to star in a reality show based on his life? Is that not the very definition of signing up for that?

For her part, Kate sums it up with "I have a lot of anger" and, "Jon has made some very poor decisions and we all have to live with them." She indirectly denies an affair with the bodyguard by saying she necessarily must travel for "her job" (promoting her book) and heatedly states, "I'll be darned if they're going to take me down with that." My overall impression of Kate is that she is hurt, sorry for the situation, pissed off as hell, but willing to work on it for the sake of the family.

Meanwhile, as a disembodied voice off camera states, Kate must plan for the sextuplets birthday party. And with that the episode kicks off. Kate pointedly explains that Jon "needed the weekend off" and so she is, alone, dealing with the planning and organizing of the party. We follow Kate as she takes all eight children to the store to pick up party supplies (quite an ordeal on a good day). There the group, to Kate's dismay, is photographed in the parking lot by the waiting paparazzi (another first: TLC actually showing the paparazzi in action). The party supplies gotten, Kate returns home, unloads the eight kids, returns to the van to retrieve the sacks of party goodies, walks back to the house, arms loaded, to find...the front door locked.

And right then? My heart started to break for Kate a little. Because as a woman who spent many years as a single parent (with only one child) I could so feel and see that freight train of lonely responsibility chugging, almost inevitably, toward Kate. Say what you will, it's almost always the mother left "holding the bag" one way or another. And here the metaphor happens before our very eyes. Only Kate? Has eight kids. Eight.

On to the birthday party, held at an outdoor park complete with, again, paparazzi that TLC films lurking in the distance. The sextuplets, delightful pixies in matching outfits, enjoy jumping in rented giant "jumpy things" (what are those called? moon bounces?) whacking away at pinatas, playing with friends, eating birthday cake (a snarky Jon remarks he had to go back to the house to retrieve the cakes and Kate's cell phone because Kate forgot them.) It is evident during the party that Jon and Kate are estranged though both parents try with varying degrees of success to focus on the event.

The most poignant moment of the episode happens when sextuplet Alexis shares a moment alone with her father. The two hug and Alexis says, "I love you." Jon asks, "Do you miss me?" and Alexis says, "Daddy, I don't want you to leave any more." An emotional (but trying his best to shrug it off) Jon halfheartedly replies, "Sometimes Daddy's gotta do work."

The party culminates with Jon and Kate posing with the children (him on one end, her on the other) for a family photograph. In the wrap-up interview, Kate tearfully wonders if it will be the the group's last family picture. The "opposite end" theme was one that carried over to the only interview when Jon and Kate finally did end up on the couch together albeit briefly. As each seemed to actually press their bodies away from each other and against their respective end of the (ironically) "love" seat Kate says,

"I can only speak for myself. I'm here. I'm here every minute that working does not require me to be away."

Jon adds a blunt (and to my mind pointed),

"I'm here for my kids."

While both Jon and Kate repeatedly reiterate that they are both there "for the kids" the unspoken truth hangs like a pall over everything: the best thing Jon and Kate can do for their kids is to continue to be a couple and a family. But, like so many of us, they just don't seem to be able to to that anymore. Sad for them, yes, but saddest of all for the eight innocent products of their broken union.

What did I think about it? I think I'm not sure I want to see how it ends (though I doubt I'll be able to look away). I think it makes my stomach hurt. I think I'm surprised at what they did share in the episode--apologies to the media--but it's way more than I expected. Painful as divorce is, I cannot imagine how they're going through it with a thousand cameras pointed at them and their eight kids, even if they did ask for it.

One thing is for sure: this is unprecedented reality television. I'll stay tuned.

But I think it's going to hurt.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Progress (finally)

After all my 2008 enthusiasm for my office project, I've only now, a full seven months later, finally found the time to return to it. (I love three-day weekends!) The room, once painted, through the months became a dumping ground and occasionally a (very messy) guest room. A place it was easy to close the door and neglect while school, work, disastrous weather, and various other life dramas occupied the better part of my time.

It's still not finished, but the big news is the !CURTAINS! now hanging on a rod I installed myself with the help of my trusty Bosch 10.8 Volt Litheon I-Driver. I got around to unpacking at least four boxes of books that have been languishing in the garage since the move (fully 1.5 years in the past now). The overall clutter factor in the office has been reduced by at least two-thirds. I can now traverse the space without risking injury.

Next up: hanging art and moving in the chair (still in lay-away) I picked up at Feagan's. Let's hope it's not another seven months before I get around to that, but it wouldn't surprise me any.

Jon and Kate Season premiere: Tonight

KATE: (through her gritted teeth): Keep...smiling....keep...

JON: (through his gritted teeth): I. Hate. You.

KATE: Just a few more minutes...

JON: My face hurts...

KATE: Say it with me:

JON: FYI. I'm going out tonight.

KATE: Still petting the teacher, I presume?

JON: At least I'm not porkin' the hired help. Bitch.
Season premiere tonight, 8pm on TLC

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Separate Couches

A link to a teaser trailer of the season premiere of Jon and Kate Plus 8 (Monday, May 25 8pm). You'll have to endure a short commercial, but I think the video is worth it.

Christa's Bubblicious Photos

BubbleShare: Share photos - Find great Clip Art Images.

My thanks to Christa for not only bringing her camera, but also having the presence of mind to actually use it (unlike some other people). My apologies in advance for a) wearing my sunglasses all night and b) featuring my drink far too prominantly in the photos. I would normally consider anyone else that did this kind of a tool. Ahem. Again, I'm blaming the bubbly.

As always, you can click the photos for larger versions at (God help us) Bubbleshare.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Bubble Q: The Recap [Now Updated with: The Police]

Please enjoy the above photo of Bill and Charlene Beasley (Charlene has apparently drank from the fountain of youth or, like Merlin, is aging backward--she looks younger every time I see her) whooping it up at the Bubble Q. You'll note that the background, unlike the subjects, is the only thing actually in focus. This amateurish effort represents the sum total of the photographs I got at the event despite lugging my camera around with me all night. Except for that time I abandoned it on a random table at one point. The camera was still there, unnoticed, when I returned. A good example of what happens when champagne and I mix.

And then I think it would be a really good idea to have another glass of the stuff.

This then leads to me staggering from table to table making inappropriate comments to various people, remarking repeatedly on "my situation" whilst tugging my dress down and teetering dangerously atop my FM pumps which I, for some reason, thought it would be a good idea to wear to an outdoor event. Several times, I stood next to Laura K (there may be tragic photographic evidence of this) a situation I always promise myself never to get in as she is fully a head taller than and seriously one-fourth the width of myself. When I throw my arm about her waist it actually meets me on the other side. Quickly.

And then there was that whole ill-advised conversation with Patience Renzulli during which I may have made a slight confession about a few abandoned doggie poops. Um, yah, not a good idea. For a minute there, I thought she was going to beat me to death with my own shoe. And I thought that mainly because she told me she was going to beat me to death with my own shoe. Luckily, I managed to stagger away and back to...

...the champagne tray. Tra la!

Around this time, Christa convinced me it was time for dinner (empty stomach and all that). On my way to the buffet spread, I spotted a policeman acting as security.

I should pause here and tell you that I have an illness inherited from my mother. And that illness is: put a few drinks in me and get me anywhere near an officer of the law and I immediately become convinced it would be the FUNNIEST THING THAT EVER HAPPENED to have my picture made with said officer. I have been photographed under the influence with officers of the New Orleans PD, the San Antonio PD; my mother has similar photos with the Detroit PD and, in an incredibly lucky coup, a London bobby. We think these photos are hysterically funny. It's a little weird. But that never stops us! No, indeed!

Meanwhile, back at the Bubble Q, I simply must, of course, have my photo taken with the policeman. Strangely, any time I ask the police if I can take a photo with them they're all, "Why, sure!" and this officer was no exception. We linked arms...stared into the camera..."Cheese!" just as a helpful voice called out from across the event,

"Hey! Did you know she was arrested last month?!"

Yah. Good times (MONICA).

The policeman actually drew back in horror. I mean, one minute he's cheezin' it up with a semi-respectable fundraiser attendee and the next staring into God knows what camera lens all pressed up against God knows who. The poor guy was traumatized, I tell you...traumatized!

And you know just how sorry I felt for him.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Everything You Didn't Want to Know about Marcia Brady

So, to save you from reading “Here’s the Story” by Maureen McCormick (because, trust me, you don't want to) here are the (relatively) fast facts about Marcia, Marcia, Marcia:

- ALMOST slept with Greg Brady (but didn’t).

- Hung out at Florence Henderson’s pool at which Florence went around topless. Marcia says Carol Brady had fabulous (real) boobs. (I’m sayin', Go Florence!)

- Regularly wished she was Susan Dey (Partridge Family).

- Had a bad home life...blah, blah, boo-hoo blah, etc.

- Reports Bob Reed who played Mike Brady regularly argued with producers about the show's "unrealistic" content. (Earth to Mike Brady: "Brady" and "realistic", by nature, are not words often [if ever] found in the same sentence, that was kinda the point.)

- Reports Eve Plumb, aka Jan Brady, liked to romp around the dressing room stark naked and fart (apologies to all you Jan lovers for that mental picture).

- Had crushes on the following: Greg Brady, Mike Brady (she was the last to learn Mike was gay), Jack Klugman, Tony Randall, Davy Jones, Peter Tork.

- Got her first period whole shooting a Brady Bunch scene wearing white pants.

- ALMOST fell pray to the casting couch (but didn’t).

- Terminated several pregnancies in her younger days (but well after the Brady Bunch stint).

- Got hooked on cocaine. Bad hooked. Traded sex for cocaine sometimes.

- Had a serious relationship with actor Gregory Harrison (of Trapper John, M.D. fame) that ended because of her drug habit.

- Had a date with Steve Martin. They kissed, she was high, that was it. (By the way, Steve Martin is apparently obsessed with ethereal blondes: Bernadette Peters, Victoria Tenent, etc.)

- Deflected the romantic advances of her “Brady Brides” co-star Jerry Houser, but ultimately accompanied him to the new-age church he attended, found The Lord there, then strength to begin to kick the coke habit, then met her husband at this same church.

- She relapsed on the coke many times.

- Her husband (above) is hunky. Marcia didn’t sleep with said hunky hubby until after the wedding ceremony (?!). They have one daughter, Natalie, born in 1985.

- She does not have more children because her husband thought she was basically too unstable. Which leads me to…

- Marcia's kinda nutty. Drama queen, control freak, given to hysterics. The usual.

So, there you go. I hope you guys are satisfied. I can't keep reading and cherry-picking fun facts from these crappy books for you people. Honestly, I should be doing Quality Reading while I'm not in school (for three whole weeks) rather than feeding your insatiable need for behind-the-scenes Hollywood dish.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The New Sunday Tradition...

...french fries and Bloody Marys at Doe's.

Also important, the proper notebook in which to record the brilliant thoughts that result from the combination:

On a mostly unrelated note, I recently had a dream (keep reading I have a point) in which I give birth to twins and then, while in the hospital afterwards, I spend time nonchalantly wondering if I should go on a planned vacation to the outer banks or go home with my twins to my sextuplets. If there's a clearer subconscious indication that there's too much Jon and Kate going on around here, I don't know what it would be. As a co-partaker of Bloody Marys/fries put it when I related this dream,

"Stop writing about Jon and Kate. It's boring."

Subtlety is not her strong suit. Unfortunately, I can't make any promises. Obsessed is obsessed.

Lastly, I learned today a new (to me) quote from Albert Einstein. How I've never heard this up to now is beyond me. Because it may be the greatest quote ever:

"The difference between genius and stupidity is; genius has its limits." — Albert Einstein

I'll leave you with that.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Mary Pecan

I was very sad when I heard the news that the ex-man's mother, Mary, died a few weeks ago.

Divorce can be a terrible thing, especially at times like these. If you still have any affection for the ex (and wanting to slowly, painfully choke the life out of them doesn't necessarily mean you don't care about them, let's be clear) it's difficult because you can't really be there for them. Not in the way you used to be. At the same time, one still feels the phantom responsibility and obligation and desire to do it anyway.

Same goes for natural disasters. I never wrote about it here, but during the dark days of the ice storm, the ex-man was hugely concerned about me. I received text messages that somehow got through that long first night when cracking, falling branches sounded like gunshots and cell service was spotty at best. His acute, long distance concern finally culminated in him purchasing me a generator, the Husky that provided life-giving light, warmth, and television during the almost two weeks of darkness we endured (I was not working at the time). At a family gathering that happened soon after, each cousin, uncle, and aunt, would greet me and the next sentence out of their mouths would be, "We heard Tom bought you a generator." It was a refrain repeated an incredible number of times (I have a big family). I know the Husky was expensive, but honestly, as I told the ex-man later, the PR alone would have been well worth it at twice the price.

It is for this reason and others, that I've come to think of the ex-man little less like Satan and a little more like Joe DiMaggio. This because while Joe's marriage to Marilyn Monroe didn't work out, that didn't stop him from rescuing her from various precarious life situations that followed their divorce, most notably that time he busted her out of the insane asylum after she was committed. Joe also stepped in and made all of Marilyn's funeral arrangements after her untimely death and, thereafter, made sure roses were delivered to her grave 3 times a week for the next twenty years.

While I don't expect to be committed, or to die an untimely death that would require such post-mortem lengths, I do nonetheless want to do something special for my own Joe when his mother dies. I thought about it for a while, and ultimately sent him something meaningful.

Of course, because it's us you're talking about, the situation would have to turn a little strange. The conversation went like this:

My cell phone rings...


So...what's in the box?

The box?

You sent me a box, right?

OH! The BOX! It's not just a box. Is it from Mississippi?

Um...yes, it's from Mississippi. But I don't know what's in there...

Look. It's not an exploding box. At least not this time. MWAAAhahahaa...

Look, I know there's a tree in there...

Dude. Open the box.

It's six feet tall.

It's WHAT?

At least. It's taller than I am.


It's a very tall box.

It's in your office, right?

No, it's out front. It was so big that...

So, it's like where everybody can see it?


So...let's're out there where people are walking by standing next to a freakishly tall suspicious looking box?

Yes, that is correct.


Look, they usually ship these things with dirt and roots and it could be...

Hello? I did NOT send you a giant tree with a naked root ball. It's in a pot! I checked! But it shouldn't be six feet tall. It should be three to four feet tall. And cute. They assured me it would be cute. With leaves and branches and everything.

You realize tree roots are often as tall as the tree itself...

Well, no...

So, it could be a three foot tall tree in a three foot pot.

So, are you going to open the box or what?

(I hear rustling and cutting and...)
It's a tree!
I know!

It's a PECAN tree!

Your favorite!

It...smells like a pecan tree!

It should!

That's just...kind of amazing.

Is it cute?

Actually, it is cute.

Does it have branches and leaves and is it in a pot?

As a matter of fact it is all those things.

I'm so glad!

I'll call it "Mary".

You totally should.

(more rustling)
I'm going to move Mary into my office.

How does Mary look in there?

Like we'll have to cut a hole in the ceiling to accommodate her soon.


That is...unbelievable. A pecan tree. Wow.

Well, you know...

Not sure what I'd ever send you that would top this...

No need.

A monkey maybe?

Can you make it a chimp? Chimps have personality. Monkeys have those big red back butts and stuff...


Following our conversation, I looked back on the website I'd ordered from and, indeed, there is a sample picture of a 3-4 foot tree:
Unless that woman is only two feet tall, I perhaps should have known that the entire package of a 3-4 foot pecan would be well over six feet tall. Of course, I had pictured a tidy 3-4 foot box. Still, how cute is that pecan tree? The variety is "candy" pecan, one that is hardy enough to grow in nearly all zones.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Best. Auction. Ever.

Sneak a peek at but a few of the fabulous auction items that will be up for bids at the Bubble Q Friday night, the pre-tune party prior to the Lowertown Art & Music Festival. Bubble Q is an annual fundraising event now in its third year. Proceeds benefit the Paducah Renaissance Alliance an organization dedicated to the promotion and development of downtown, Lowertown, and the Riverfront areas of Paducah. This year's event will feature live art performance (Nikki May!), special items available from exclusive Lowertown galleries, sparkling wine, delicious barbecue by Laura Duff's A Pampered Palate, and a live auction. Here are the particulars:

Friday, May 22nd
Corner of 7th & Madison Street, Festival Stage Area (across from the Texaco)
VIP Preview Party 6:00-7:30PM
Bubbly and Eats 7:00PM


[And you know I'm lusting after this package, right?]
Pampered Pet Package
Silly for Spot? Know someone who is? Don’t worry, you’re in good company. Pamper that particular pooch with nothing but the best Paducah has to offer. Paducah’s own dog whisperer, author, and NPR correspondent, Patience Renzulli provides four one-on-one obedience/trick lessons a cool, one-of-a-kind designer collar, some much-needed doggie toys plus a signed copy of her book, “Mama Pajama Tells a Story” for you. Lowertown artist Karen Utz of Philosophy Gallery will immortalize your newly adorned and educated canine in her unique, exclusive whimsical style with a pooch portrait you’ll treasure forever.

Be a Barista
Embarrassed about your espresso? Clueless about cappuccino? Is your latte listless? Your macchiato monotonous? (Do you poop out at parties?) Fret no more! You and two friends spend a day with uber-Barista, Jean Rhodes, at Etcetera Coffeehouse in Lowertown. Learn how to brew a cup o’ Joe any way the right way (and sample the delicious results).

Consultants in a Box (To get you out of yours…)
Take a fresh 360 degree look at your business and strategize solutions to your biggest challenges. The most successful consultants in the region team up to provide you with three hours of TLC and undivided attention. Package includes proven expertise in marketing, web promotion, graphic design, executive coaching, communications, and strategic planning.

Kristin Reese Williams, KRW Strategies
Mary Thorsby, iList Paducah
Nathan Brown, Horizon Media Group
Terry Reeves, EntrePaducah
Donna-Maria Walker, Donna-Maria Walker Strategic Communications


More items will preview here (one featuring yours truly) shortly; still more will be featured here. Get your tickets now.

Call 270-444-8649 for tickets $50/ea or
VIP tables $750/6 tickets

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Mother's Day Card

Inside: I think you're to blame for that.

Jon Minus Kate Plus 8?

Thanks to alert reader, Jill, for a link to a breaking story from People magazine. Looks like the Gosselins may be splitting according to the latest issue that will hit the newsstands on Friday. Read all about it here.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


A message to my fellow Oblivians who also live on planet Really, When Did That Happen?:

Stamps cost 44 cents now. And, despite my making a trip to the post office yesterday, on the actual date the rate changed, where there were likely several large, honking signs in my face announcing the increase, I failed to notice them. I went about my business waiting in line for a year musing about peanut butter and my attraction for patent leather and tulips and then, finally, actually mailing a package. I did briefly notice several people ahead of me in line buying two cent stamps. I idly wondered, "Dude, who buys two cent stamps? Get a life."

Yah. The joke's on me and my whole entire purse full of now outdated postage.

I was finally clued to the situation by a Paducah Sun story this morning. I have to admit, those cool Bart Simpson stamps really do pretty much eliminate the sting of the increase.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Elizabeth Gilbert's TED Talk

YES, it's a twenty minute video and YES, that sort of flies in the face of the "short-n-sweet" generally accepted notion of blog posting, but this talk (like so many TED talks) is so, so worth it. If you're creative at all, and you've ever experienced being "in the zone" or the feeling that your work (when it's good) is coming from somewhere outside yourself, or felt a little afraid of that wacky thing we refer to as "the creative process", you have to see this.

(Elizabeth Gilbert wrote Eat Pray Love)

The Abandoned Maltese: An Accidental Update

Because many of you have asked...

You may remember when I posted about an abandoned Maltese that was found dirty, scared, and alone near a busy street in Paducah. I was sent the photo and the notification about the situation by a friend of a friend of the gentleman who found the dog. At that time, he was looking to find the dog a good home, and following my blog post, I was surprised at how many inquiries I got from my readers. Although, really, that is some serious cuteness.

At the time, I followed up by contacting the friend who'd sent me the original notification, who put me in touch with yet another friend of the guy with the dog. According to this friend, who I spoke with on the phone, the guy who found the Maltese had recently lost his long-term pet, a dog, and wasn't ready to adopt again, or at least that's what he thought at the time. I located the gentleman on Facebook and friended him, though we never communicated. And I never heard back following my inquiry.

Which is a really long lead-in to say that yesterday, on my way home from work, as I turned onto Pecan off of Highway 60, there sat, in a truck, stopped at a stop sign, waiting to turn onto Hwy 60, what was unmistakably the face of the little Maltese looking pretty much exactly as he does in the photo peeping serenely out the window. He was sitting in the lap of the driver, also unmistakably the original "finder" of the dog, I recognized him from his facebook photo.

I was so thrilled to see them together, so obviously a happy pet and master that, as I made the turn I could not stop staring, and inadvertently crashed into the curb, and jumped it with two wheels. Fortunately, I then managed to swerve back onto the road before something really awful happened. Good thing I drive a Subaru.

And that's the rest of the story.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

J&K Update: Kate Gosselin responds to the rumors

A subdued and largely unsmiling Kate Gosselin appeared on the Today show this morning. The interview was, ostensibly, to promote her new book, "Eight Little Faces", but Meredith Viera wasted no time addressing what she called "The elephant in the room," asking Gosselin how the couple is coping with "a tough couple of weeks" in light of the most recent reports of Jon Gosselin's purported possible infidelity.

Kate responded by saying she is "hesitant to believe" the rumors and that such tabloid reporting "goes with the territory" of a reality show followed by a firm declaration that she and Jon are handling the matter "privately". Meredith then read aloud a statement from Jon Gosselin that started with alot of stuff about how, once again, his recent actions might not have been wise, but ended with this emphatic, "The bottom line is I did not cheat on Kate."

See a video of the interview here.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Coming Memorial Day Weekend

May 23 & 24. Can you really afford to miss Yo Mama's Big Fat Booty Band? I don't think so.
More information on the bands here and a full schedule of events right here.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Jon and Kate: Beyond the Spotlight

[At the risk of too much J&K, I'm posting the entry below that I wrote back in early March. It is, well, exhaustive. And, yes, there's too much J&K on this blog already, so I figure we might as well wallow. I'm not quite sure why I didn't post this entry at the time I wrote it. I tend to write a lot of stuff that I don't post. Mostly, that's because I tend to overshare and then think better of it later. In the case of this post...I don't know. Maybe I thought I was unqualified to have an opinion? Ridiculous, I know, I have a pulse, am a regular viewer of the show, and, as such, by today's standards, am perhaps over qualified. So, anyway, here it is. I'm too busy to write anything else right now.]

First: background. In case you haven't heard, the show Jon and Kate Plus 8 is a reality show produced by TLC that documents the adventures of a suburban Reading, Pennsylvania family headed by Jon and Kate Gosselin. The couple has (guess what) eight children: a set of twin girls born in 2001 and sextuplets--three boys and three girls--born May of 2004. At the time of the sextuplet's birth there were only 138 total cases of sextuplets worldwide. Amazingly, all six babies were born relatively healthy and joined their three-year-old sisters at home in fairly short order.

This meant Jon and Kate, in their late twenties at the time and an IT professional and RN respectively, had two three-year-olds and six newborns on their hands. Not, mind you, that they meant to. The couple, unable to conceive on their own, had the first set of twins courtesy of IVF fertilization and had hoped to conceive one more child the same way the second time around. When they learned a full six fetuses had begun to develop, the Gosselins made the choice not to selectively reduce. Kate lived through an unimaginably arduous pregnancy, managing to carry the babies to 30 weeks gestation.

Kate quit her job as a nurse to stay home with her mega-brood and the couple received a great deal of support from their church in the form of hands-on help as well as some financial assistance. Jon continued for a time in his IT job.

The Gosselin clan made their debut on the TLC Channel not too long after that as one of several featured families on a documentary special about couples coping with multiple births. Photogenic, articulate, and remarkably open about both how difficult the struggle as well as how great the rewards inherent in raising two sets of multiples, the Gosselins received an avalanche of fan mail, questions, and some additional support. It didn't hurt that their children: Cara, Mady, Alexis, Aaden, Leah, Joel, Hannah and Collin are all cute as bugs ears, as they say. It wasn't too long before TLC realized the potential, and thus a new reality show was (dare I saw it?) born.

The show, now it its I believe fourth season, is just plain addictive. And, for me at least, in a sort of train-wreckish sort of way. Especially in the beginning. I watched the daily nightmare of the care and feeding of eight sticky, whiny, cute, sick, poopy-pantsed, loving, darling, screaming kids with a sort of thank-god-that-isn't-me fascination. Every show is basically a day-in-the-life--sometimes a day at home, sometimes a day at the zoo, sometimes it's Christmas, etc. Sometimes the Gosselins are happy, quite often the Gosselins are annoyed but, holy crap, I shudder to think how annoyed I'd personally be in that situation. A lot of the time? Jon and Kate are just obviously really, really tired.

In the wake of the recent rumors about Jon Gosselin's supposed questionable activities in bars and on the campus of a college near the couple's Huntingdon, PA home I've done a fair amount of Google-ing the couple of late. Specifically, I knew with the press the story has been receiving, that a statement from Jon Gosselin likely wouldn't be too far behind. And, indeed, it wasn't. I think it's interesting to note that Gosselin doesn't specifically deny any of the allegations put forth in the story in his statement. But, be that as it may, it isn't the subject of this post.

What I did turn up was a great deal of controversy surrounding the Gosselin family and the continuing production of the show. This isn't surprising considering the Gosselin's level of popularity (pretty huge by now) and the fact that the internet lends itself very easily to detractors, naysayers, and downright haters. For every rise to stardom, there is an equal and opposite reaction of online (and real life) backlash. Heck, there's a whole website dedicated to hating Rachel Ray, for heaven's sake. Near as I can figure, Rachel is a cute Italian girl who likes to cook. What's not to like?

What's different about the backlash associated with the Gosselins is, in some cases, who is involved and the nature of the controversy. Specifically, Truth Breeds Hatred is a blog written by the sister of one, "Aunt Jodi" who, in the early seasons of J&K+8 made regular guest appearances as someone who would occassionally babysit some or all of the Gosselin children. Aunt Jodi is married to Jon Gosselin's brother.

Apparently, friction arose between Jon and Kate and Aunt Jodi when it was suggested that Aunt Jodi, like the rest of the Gosselins, might be entitled to a slice of the financial pie seeing as to how she was, at that point, a regular guest star. As the story goes, this spelled the end of Aunt Jodi in the television show. According to the (now removed) blog post, "No More Aunt Jodi" that you can still read here, Kate's reaction to Jodi's possible remuneration was, "NO WAY, no one gets paid but us."

You can watch a short video of the erstwhile Aunt Jodi giving a tearful thank-you to everyone for their support here.

Beyond that, TBH is of the opinion that J&K+8 is a near criminal exploitation of the Gosselin children. That, because the Gosselin children have no say in their being filmed and because Pennsylvania, unlike California, has no laws governing the extent to which children can be filmed and how, that the Gosselin children are being taken extreme advantage of by their parents. According to the site, neither of the Gosselin parents are employed other than as stars of the reality show.

Also wading into the fray is Paul Peterson, child advocate and originator of the watchdog organization A Minor Consideration. Peterson, himself a child star who began his career as a Mouseketeer in the 1950's at age 8, went on to star in the Donna Reed Show as Reed's son and morph into something of a teen heartthrob of the time. Like so many child actors, (Danny Bonnaducci, anyone?) Peterson would eventually become obsolete with the advent of the 60's counter culture and ultimately be forced to (brace yourselves) get a real job. Because of his experiences, Peterson founded AMC as a means to help former child performers dealing with substance abuse and other issues often inherent in falling from grace in The Business, as well as work to protect the rights of children currently facing "exploitation". In Peterson's opinion, the Gosselin children fall squarely into that category.

According to Peterson and Truth Breeds Hatred and a whole slew of other people, the Gosselin children are the equivalent of trained monkeys, human beings exploited for the financial gain of their parents who have gone a bridge too far with this whole reality TV thing.

[Insert my conclusion here.]

The trouble is? I'm not sure I have a conclusion.

Here's the thing. It's not like the Gosselin children are expected to break into a choreographed rendition of "So Long, Farewell", VonTrapp like, in every episode. Quite the opposite in fact. The kids are frequently seen screaming, playing, jumping, sitting in time-out, whacking the crap out of each other. Jon and Kate are frequently seen tired, pissed off, annoyed, happy. J&K+8 sure looks like a regular family (albeit one with an unnaturally clean house for one with so many kids in it) with cameras pointed at it.

Granted, the show has made a slew of money, granted the show is supporting the Gosselin family--is this a sin? Like it or not, the Gosselins are an anomale. They are going to be stared at. Their situation, by its very nature, presents HUGE unnatural challenges. Given the financial burden that having and rearing 8 children constitutes (for an RN and an IT professional), should the Gosselins absolutely be expected to forgo the possibility of a million dollar income and financial security in the interest of privacy? Is it really not preferable that the income generated from the show support both parents being hands-on with their children the majority of the time as opposed to the Gosselins struggling for every last Lego set and stocking stuffer? Is that not worth something?

On the other hand, yes, all children need and deserve some privacy. I mean, where are we headed here to the "Mady and Cara Get their Period" episode? At some point enough is enough. But are we really there? Have the Gosselins been there all along?

My gut says no. At the risk of having to read Cara and Mady's tell-all book, "Our Childhoods were Hell and TV Ruined our Lives and, damn you, Suzanne, and that Blog Post that Three People in Paducah Read you Insensitive Twit" in twenty years, I don't think the Gosselins are there yet. Ultimately, like it or not, all children are dependent on their parents to make decisions and choices that will change their lives forever one way or the other. It happens all the time every day. It just doesn't always happen on TV. The Gosselins are an unusual family in an unusual situation. Will this impact their children? Most definitely. Are they making mistakes? For sure, all parents do.

Will these children suffer as a result of their upbringing? Yep. They will also reap likely reap amazing rewards.

They already are.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Derby Day

The betting board outside our local window. It's high-tech because this is Kentucky, home of the derby. We're festive like that. Lots of bets were down, but very few were on the winner, #8 Mine that Bird (showing as "Wire that Bird" on our ghetto list), a horse with 50/1 odds as of 1PM.

Feel My Pain as well as that of Jon and Kate

Things just haven't been coming together for me lately in terms of a post of any substance.

First, I tossed off a venomous post about Swine Flu. It was acerbic and sarcastic and all about making fun of (what I consider to be) another bout of inappropriately intense, over-the-top news coverage on the situation by the US media. Specifically the post focused on CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta and his roving coverage and updates from Mexico. The piece culminated with an imagined interview by Sanjay of the actual specific Mexican swine (Wilbur) that originated the whole virus. You can imagine, I'm sure.

And then I considered my past history with The Universe. I decided the minute I hit "publish" on that sucker, I'd likely wake up sneezing and feverish, eventually find myself hospitalized, and then, of course, I'd eventually DIE of the virus myself--ha ha! Ultimately, I decided it wise not to tempt the Universe with yet another pitch slow and over the plate.

Soon after that, I ran across a list I'd made a few years ago of my favorite documentary films. I thought it over, added a few more, and decided (in light of my recent "Dear Zachary" viewing)that I'd publish the list as a post. Because, of course, everyone is desperate to know which documentaries are my favorites! I'd make each film title in the list a link to the trailer at YouTube (yah! that's it!). I worked for hours on the post. I viewed and got lost in a ton of trailers and clips and carefully selected only the best pieces to link to. By the time I was finished, I had a good list of probably fifteen films.

It was a Thing of Beauty.

And then, I had another inspiration! At the top of the post, I'd embed the trailer of a movie called "The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Editing". It's a great little documentary that wonderfully illustrates, through both clips and interviews, just how essential the editing process is to the final product. (Same with writing, in my opinion. But I digress.) I chased down the best clip (the film apparently doesn't have a trailer. Ironic, isn't it?). I go to embed the thing and for some reason? The code just deletes the whole damn post.

Gone (and autosaved)! Just like that!

[Insert blood-curdling scream here.]

I know you fellow bloggers can sympathize.

Otherwise, just for you guys, because I know you are such vultures when in comes to Jon and Kate Gosselin, I stopped in at the magazine rack at Kroger and mooched the whole US article that broke the latest scandal. The piece reiterates what the internet rumor mill has been saying for months: that Jon and Kate are essentially separated but keeping up appearances for the sake of the family and the show.

The latest photo scandal happened outside yet another bar near the couple's home in Pennsylvania. Jon was seen emerging in the wee hours with an unidentified woman. When he realized the cameras were about, he shouted to the woman to hurry and get in the car. Jon said something like, "Give me my coat, babe." I suppose her name could actually be "Babe", but I'm doubting it, aren't you? Jon's official story is that the woman is simply a friend who wanted to test-drive his new car.


The article goes on to claim, again like the internet rumors, that Kate is a complete and total bitch, so heinous that she is estranged from virtually everyone in her life, her own family included. That despite Kate's protests to the contrary, she has a great deal of hired help with the kids and that said hired help and Jon do the majority of the kid-wrangling whilst Kate...well, I don't know. Sits around and is bitchy, I guess.

Saddest of all, the article paints a sorry picture of Jon Gosselin. The piece claims US has interviewed many residents of the community where the Gosselins live who regularly spot him wandering the mall alone or sitting around in dark parking lots of bars (on the hood of his new car) clearly just out wasting time and trying desperately to avoid the press. It states Jon is living separately in an apartment above the couple's garage.

Of course, Kate catches little slack. The press and the public can't seem to forgive her for having morphed into a perfectly coiffed, fit, bronzed, bitchy beauty. While I grant you that, yes, she is frequently bitchy to Jon, sometimes inordinantly so, what woman with eight kids wouldn't be bitchy? Please. Whose life could stand up in the midst of such a ridiculously huge amount of pressure and child rearing and scrutiny? It's like it would all be okay if Kate looked frumpy and unkempt, but all that and looking good? Oh, hell no. What Jon does or doesn't look like isn't an issue, of course.

While all this information could be inaccurate speculation about the Gosselins, I'm afraid it has the ring of truth at least for me. What would you do if you were Jon Gosselin, head of the most popular, cutest family in show business and your marriage fell apart? Leave? I don't think so. The show is clearly the couple's main source of income at this point. You would be trapped and desperate to get away and be anonymous every chance you got. Meanwhile, Kate is left with no options whatsoever, including leaving the house (unless she's on a publicity junket talking about how wonderful her life is) and, PS, she probably shouldn't be looking good either.

The next season of "Jon & Kate Plus 8" premieres on TLC May 25. I have no choice but to be there, still hoping it all somehow, against all odds and evidence to the contrary, works out for the Gosselins. Because you, my readers, insist on it.

Honestly, the things I do for this blog.
[Edited to add: Holy crap! I forgot the most important tidbit about Jon Gosselin. Despite Kate's all organic policy, Jon has been spotted going through drive-thru at Wendy's. Shocking.]