Bay's Travel Blog

I don't travel much any more. Resist!

Monday, July 31, 2006

This life for sale

After much soul-searching and worrying, I'm going to be selling a lot of my stamps and scrapbooking stuff on eBay in the coming months. I never thought I would be at this point... but here I am.

I figured now is a good time because I'll be selling some family heirlooms and treasures for my sisters and me. Mama was a great and grand collector. She amassed so much stuff that Amy and I went away with it, and it still comes to such a massive amount of treasures that we just cannot keep it all.

Rest assured, we've gone through the many mementos and collectibles so many times and questioned ourselves repeatedly about whether we're ready to really sell this stuff. We are. We must be. We've tried many times in the past to cull the mountains of collectibles into small enough portions to maintain, but... Mama really was a collector.

Anyway, my Club Scrap stuff doesn't come from Mama, but I think my propensity for hording it might demonstrate her influence on my life. I have loved some of this stuff so much that -- if I used a piece of paper, I ordered another three to replace it -- just in case.

Now I have so many wood-mounted and un-mounted stamps that I simply must divest myself of some of the stash. Not to mention the stacks of gorgeous, limited edition, retired papers and goodies that came from Club Scrap in the last wonderful four years.

I can only hope that these little things will bring as much joy to another scrapbooker as they brought me.

Fingers crossed.

But to the photo above -- the word stamp there -- "Let's Hang Out" -- that reminds me of Grits to Glitz, the podcast that Amy and I are doing now. We're getting some lovely feedback from listeners, and it means so much!

If you want to hear our third episode, just go to our website and click on the links to the episodes. You wouldn't believe the wonderful artwork I received from a fellow scrapbooker! And of course, Amy and I had so much fun planning and recording the podcast. Our motto is, "Please don't let this stink too much!" We're getting toward non-stinkiness, I swear we are!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Project Runway, Season 3, Ep 3

For those of you surfing here in search of spoilers for who gets kicked off prematurely this season, I don't know. I don't even know why my blog appears high in the search engines -- except, of course, I am totally fabulous and everyone should read my blog, anyway. Snort.

But wow, it's nice to see those numbers on my hit counter, so thank you for stopping by. I do have a very ugly theory based on the promos that they showed during tonight's episode, but I hope it's just creative and misleading editing on Bravo's part. Because I would die -- DIE! -- if Kayne were kicked off prematurely. I refuse to believe Kayne did anything dastardly. He's too fabulous to be sneaky!

My thoughts on tonight's episode? I honestly couldn't pick a winner. There was no stand-out design on the runway tonight, and I think it's because it was dog-centric. Uli (oo wah wah, wah WAH wah wah) made a great dress. I didn't like the dog coat that much.

I was outraged beyond all comprehension that Jeffrey chose the Welsh corgi. The only dogs I've ever owned were corgis, and although I don't own one now, if I were to get a dog, it would be a corgi. And Jeffrey's dress was incomprensibly ridiculous for a corgi owner, and the outlandishly floppy, messy, biker jacket costume he put on that dog was just an insult to the breed. I don't think Jeffrey should have been auf'd. I think he should have been SHOT. Not mortally. Just ... y'know, badly.

Katherine, the little poopsiekins, learned what happens to designers who throw darling Malan under the bus so swiftly. Good riddance. She should have listened to Tim Gunn!

Bradley -- ROFL! I'm sorry, I can't be much more coherent than that. That outfit was a mess, and the fact that the judges all loved it was just hilarious. Ooo, a note about the judges: How nice to see Ivanka out of the boardroom! That girl is just too smart!

Michael was robbed again. Did anyone look at the *back* of his dress? Magnifique!

Please let Keith be the one to get kicked off... please let Keith get the boot... PLEASE let Keith go away next week! I am definitely on pins and needles for August 2nd's episode!!!!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Not very entertaining

I'm sorry I haven't posted lately. It's hard to blog when you're exhausted.

We got a lot done on Amy's house here in the South, and we went to the Waffle House three times, and then Amy left again. I feel like a bad hostess. Amy and I always do such exciting things when I visit her in Las Vegas, but when she comes here, do I take her to Dollywood? No. Do I hike the Smoky Mountains with her? No. Do I even make her chew tobacco, shoot at the Stop signs, or eat hog jowls? Heck, no! I am a very bad hostess, indeed!

I swear, next time she comes South, I'll at least make her help me make moonshine. I mean, c'mon, we gotta do something remotely homey, right?

[Note to self: Find out how to make moonshine. There's gotta be a link on the Internet somewhere.... ]

In other news, I dined at a new local Mexican restaurant tonight. I had been sort of worried that it would be as bad as all the other local restaurants. (Our local "Chinese" restaurant serves a dish that they call "moo goo gai pan" which tastes an awful lot like boiled chicken in chicken gravy with carrots and broccoli. Not kidding. I refuse to eat there.) Fortunately, I was totally wrong about our new Mexican restaurant. It was fabulous. I'll definitely go there again!

And I ... guess I'll dig up something more interesting for the next blog post.

Fingers crossed!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Three o'clock in the mornin'

Wow. It's 3:00 and I'm awake. I have no idea why or how or anything like that, but considering my [apparent] decision that somnambulism (a.k.a., "sleepwalking") is cool, maybe I should be awake now. Just to forebear any ramblings around the house.

Amy held her big moving sale Saturday. OMG, y'all, what a madhouse! And I wasn't even there for the early hours, when the serious yard sale junkies were lined up at the door waiting to get their chance at my sister's old stuff. We had hidden everything she wanted to keep (well, *almost* everything) in her [former] bedroom, and she put a sign on the closed door that said, "Not for sale. Keep out."

Otherwise, the sign on her front door was the most applicable and clever: "Almost everything is for sale -- including the house -- ASK! You could get it!"

She sold antiques and modern entertainment centers and tons and tons of stuff. She sold a car. She sold Christmas novelties like a plastic Santa figurine that played electronic carols and blew bubbles -- from a *bathtub*. I mean -- this was one serious moving sale!

We collected a bunch of favorite stories of moving sale customers, like Stove Guy. Stove Guy was just determined to talk Amy down from the posted price on her stove. And of all the things in the house, that was the one thing she wasn't going to come down on, because that stove was so new and pretty that if it didn't sell for the posted price, it would just make the house *look* better by sitting there, being pretty and new. When Amy went to lunch and I was there by myself, I had to call her many, many times to ask her, "How much for the Victrola? How much for the martini glasses?" And other such things. She would answer the phone, "The stove is 200 dollars!" Which cracked both of us up totally -- many, many times.

Heck, the martini glasses were a good story. They are Waterford martini glasses in pastel colors with pretty little dots carved out on the side. Very mod. I love 'em. I have a set of knock-offs that Amy gave me because I liked her Waterford glasses so much. This young woman found the real ones and asked me how much. I called Amy, and after giggling about the price of the stove, she set a price with a caveat, "They're five bucks unless you want them. If you want them, you should keep them."

Trying to be fair (*I* didn't find the Waterford glasses before, after all), I told the potential buyer the price. And the silly girl decided not to buy them. She put the box down.

Not two minutes later, another woman came in and asked me, "How much for the Waterford martini glasses?"

I took a breath, choked a little, and then I said, "TEN bucks."

And I glowered at her. As soon as she put the box of martini glasses down, I snagged it and ran off to hide it away from the rabid moving sale buyers.

Amy gets a kick out of *that* story. I was greedy! I wanted those glasses for meeeeeeeeee!

See? I am not a good person, really.

But the thing is -- it's so good to have Amy home again, even briefly. I was worn out from the moving sale within two hours, and I wasn't good company, so I came home and took a three-hour nap before going back to Athens to hang out with Amy and her husband Paul for dinner. Then Amy and I went to Walmart to shop for stuff that I've been meaning to buy for two weeks. (And man, the cat was grumpy about the lack of totally fresh kitty litter, too, let me tell you!)

So I should be asleep now. I *should*. But Sunday is a day of rest, and I'm going to sleep late and hope that Amy comes to my house to wash some laundry and hang out with me here. I'll make red beans and rice if that's what she wants. I'll make black-eyed peas and cornbread, if that would keep her near. Heck, I would even make pineapple-upside-down-cake if that would do the trick! I just like having her around, and I know that our days are numbered.

If you have a sister -- a best friend or a sister -- who lives near you, be sure to take a few minutes to really appreciate her proximity. You never know when she's going to move across the country.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Project Runway, Season 3, Ep. 2

Forgive my tardiness, but right after I watched Project Runway with my sister last night, I took her to her motel and a freak storm zoomed through my neighborhood and took out a transformer and a bunch of trees. We're all OK. There's a mess to clean up, and with the power out, I didn't get any sleep. (Too hot!) But nothing was damaged that would cost moolah, thank heaven.

So -- I'm trying to gather my thoughts. So much happened last night, and so little of it was *good* except for the part about how Amy was here to watch it with me!

In general, I now officially totally resent four designers who haven't been kicked off yet even though they should be just on general principle, and sweet people keep getting kicked off before they have a chance to show what they can *really* do, and I honestly think of Heidi's kiss goodbye as a Judas kiss at this point.

::: deep breath! :::


OK, Tim Gunn: Not enough of him in this episode. More Tim, more Tim, more Tim! In fact, let's get rid of the judge chat and just let Tim talk during the last ten minutes of the show.

The judges: Thank heaven Michael Kors took a break! It was nice to do without him for a change! Vera Wang -- again, the guest judges this season are waaaayyyyyyy better than guest judges in previous seasons. Cool!

The Designers -- by Pairs
Laura and Michael -- Were totally ROBBED. This makes two challenges in which Michael was totally robbed. Their dress was by far the most glorious and elegant and it really made me sit up and say, "WOW!" I think the only reason they didn't win was because the color -- if it wasn't outright white, it was too close to white, and the Miss USA chick had specifically said, "No white." Silly girl! Everyone knows the girl in white wins the pageant! And Laura and Michael have steady personalities and worked together well. I hope they both make it to the Final Three. Seriously.

[Note after reading Tim Gunn's blog -- The fabric was supposed to be "nude." Ummm... OK, whatEV. Very close to white.]

Uli & Bonnie -- Uli -- I can't hear her name without thinking of the line from The Producers (the B'way recording), "ULLA! OO WAH WAH, WAH WAH WAHWAH!" To be honest, I think Uli's talented. She's made two pretty dresses so far, and she and Bonnie didn't start stabbing each other with scissors. I just can't get passionate about either of them. I loved it when Bonnie commented that she wanted to see some fights, because that sort of action was not far behind!

Keith & Bradley -- Um... I can't remember the dress. It was chiffon or organza or something, and it came up to a weird point in the front of the skirt, and it didn't stink, but it wasn't great. I just have issues with Bradley and Keith. For one, Keith is a design-stealing sack o' conceited crap. (At least, according to the rumors on the Internet.) I've crossed my fingers and toes that he's the one who eventually gets kicked off the show for cheating. Bradley is a different problem. I can't *remember* him. Every time I see that scruffy little guy, I think, "Who is that?" Then I look up his bio on the Project Runway site, and I am *still* stumped. Who the heck is Bradley and why does he keep cropping up? He *was* very funny with the bodice of the dress. And Keith gave him a "drop dead" look. That was mildly fun. Die, Keith, die!!!!!

[Also -- was anyone else totally creeped out when Keith put his hands all over Miss USA? Ewwwwwwww!!!!!]

Jeffrey & Allison -- Someone please kick Jeffrey off the show. Not for breaking rules, but for making absolutely awful dresses. And for the neck tattoo, which is just distracting. I cannot believe he's made it through two challenges without getting the boot. I felt sorry for little Allison. Who really is too pretty to be a designer. And their dress was a complete disaster. Can anyone say, "Santino Reborn"?

Kayne & Robert -- Oh! What a match made in heaven! They were adorable together, and such a joy to watch. I totally understood the controversial fabric choice. What I didn't understand was the inexplicable poodle poof at the bottom of the dress. It screamed "Barbie" all over the place! I was shocked when it won the challenge, but I'm happy that Kayne and Robert will both be around for another week. Those guys rock!!!

Vincent & Angela -- I defended Vincent last week on the D*S blog. Not any more. He's a trainwreck of a human being. I'm just waiting for him to be evicted from the competition because of a nervous breakdown. Angela, on the other hand, was very badly behaved when she wasted her half-hour of sketching time to try to butter up Kayne. I don't know how long she can last if she doesn't have evening gown skills at all. The dress -- entirely Vincent's creation -- was absolutely hideous. Hideous. Even Jeffrey's hot mess of a wrinkled satin gunnysack was better than Vincent's elf shoes on the shoulders. I'm shocked that no one defended Angela and told the judges what really went on in the work room!

And that leaves...
Malan & Katharine -- Wow, Katharine, can you throw your partner under the bus any faster? And Malan... Well, as far as I can tell, I am the only Malan fan in the world. Last week the message boards were full of rants against his "pretentious accent." I didn't find it pretentious at all. It was an accent, period. What I thought about Malan was that he was an insecure, sweet, sad little boy looking for reassurance. He was the first to compliment a competitor's design -- and he sincerely meant it. He was the first to confess to some insecurity during the first runway show. And he was the first to take the blame, the entire blame, for the poor design of his evening gown. I cried when sweet Malan got auf'd before that termagant Vincent. (Yes, I know "termagant" is usually reserved for humans of the female gender. And I know Vincent's married.) I just wanted to see more of Malan and let him have another chance. They gave second chances to so many undeserving designers before -- why couldn't they do the same for sweet Malan? His first dress (and wrap and *bag*) in the first challenge was gorgeous. Just because the evening dress was ill-conceived -- I mean, c'mon, the brown dress was not worse than Vincent's.

So, all in all, I'm disappointed that Malan's gone. I'm happy that Michael is still in the running. I can't wait to see what Kayne and Robert do in the upcoming episodes. And I *still* want to know who's going to get kicked off!!!!!

What did y'all think of this week's episode? And I hope you got to watch it with someone half as fun as my sister!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Re-writing Blue's Clues

Remember "We Just Got A Letter"? Here are my lyrics:

Amy's coming home today!
Amy's coming home today!
Amy's coming home today!
I'll have her for a week!

I like my sister. Just a smidge. ;)


I know this isn't entirely new to the Internet, but I was reminded of it tonight via Evil Editor's blog.

I'm not saying you should read *my* blog in Gizoogle, but if you put your blog -- or any website already online -- into the search feature at Gizoogle, you get the jive translation. It's hilarious!! Check it out!

And I listened to Episode 2 of Grits to Glitz tonight, and it really stands the test of time -- for me. Obviously we'll just get better with time, but ... that doesn't totally stink! Cool! It's nice to not totally stink.

Monday, July 17, 2006

She's Got Betty Rubble Giggles

You know how Betty Rubble (of the Flintstones) giggles? I was so amazed when Rosie O'Donnell was cast in the movie and could do that exact same giggle. Gosh, I thought, what a neat trick!


Turns out I giggle just like Betty Rubble, and I never even knew it!

So -- Amy might kill me for dropping the news early -- but I can't stand it any more. I have waited and waited and waited. (Like someone at the DMV. I -- seriously -- waited.) I've tried to be patient. I don't have much in the way of patience, but dang, I really exerted myself a great deal to pretend that I have patience. I'm collapsing from exhaustion under the weight of this great and terrible secret!

We have recorded and published two episodes of our podcast, entitled Grits to Glitz. It's available on Podshow; it's available on iTunes; and it's available on our website, which is . If you have an iPod, then you know the drill -- if you don't, then I'll post directions below.

Please, whatever you do, don't download the first episode. Everyone warned us that the first few episodes would suck. They weren't kidding. We still aren't perfect -- far from it -- but if you *do* listen to the second episode, take a few minutes to let us know how we can make the show better.

And *please* enter our contest or leave us a voice mail! Even if all you say is, "Bay giggles just like Betty Rubble and she desperately needs a new vocabulary of superlatives." (I say "wow" a lot. Apparently. ROFL!!!)

How To Listen To A Podcast Without an iPod.
1. Get a computer with a sound system.
2. Go to the link
3. Very Important: Ignore the link to the first episode.
4. If you have a fabulous cable modem or high-speed connection, you can just left-click on the episode link, and the show will automatically stream into your computer and out of your speakers. No fuss, no muss!
5. If you don't have the speediest connection, but you are DYING to hear our glorious music selections, you should RIGHT CLICK on the episode link, choose "Save As," and put the file in a folder where you can find it. You get to pick your own folder. I am not so mean as to dictate your filing system.
6. Once the episode has finished downloading, you can find it in your folder (don't forget where you put it!), and double-click the file to start listening to it on your computer.
7. Feel free to hit the "delete" button after you've listened. Or, really, any time you want, but the contest is *not* in the first few minutes of the podcast, I'm just sayin', is all.

Again -- please let us know how we can improve! I fear we'll never be as polished as the guys on The Strip or, oh, the guilty pleasure that is Nobody Likes Onions. (Warning: NLO is "explicit." It's also hilarious.)

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Oodles of reviews

Donning my critic's hat -- because I feel critical tonight --

1. Diet Wrecker of the Week
Limited Edition Fudge Reese's Peanut Butter Bar -- Fabulous. Decadent. Incredible. Yummy! Run, do not walk, and get one for yourself, because there is not a chance in hayull that I'll share mine.

2. DVD Rental of the Week
"Nanny McPhee" -- Best movie I've seen in ages. I laughed out loud; I cried buckets. Stunning cast. Phenomenal writing. Gorgeous art direction. Good special effects. It's on DVD. Rent it yesterday. And I mean the grown-ups. If you have kids, well, better go ahead and buy it.

3. Shoes of the Week -- no, Shoes of the Decade
Crocs -- Best shoes on earth. Not as decorative as Jimmy Choos, but definitely easy on the feet. I just love mine more and more with every passing day.

4. Diet-Friendly Treat of the Week
Tropicana Sugar-Free Lemonade -- Practically a dessert all by itself! Highly, highly recommended.

5. CD of the Week
Snow Patrol "Eyes Open" -- Love it, love it, love it. Buy two copies. Listen to "Chasing Cars" 24 hours a day. OK, no, scratch that last recommendation. You have to listen to the other tracks, too. It's just a gorgeous album.

6. Techno Bay's Gadget of the Week
Skype Internet phone -- Amazing sound quality, VERY cool ringtone. Highly recommended.

7. Lunch of the Week
Bologna & tomato sandwich -- *Excellent* summer fare, especially when one uses one's own tomatoes. Mmmmmmmmmmm!

8. TV Program of the Week
"Project Runway" -- If you can only find one hour to spend watching television this week, watch the premiere of Project Runway Season 3. I am absolutely dying to find out who gets kicked off for breaking the rules, why, and when. There have already been some absolutely gorgeous designs on the runway -- for just one challenge! The coffee-filter dress by Michael Knight is my favorite. (I've watched the show two and a half times now, and those beautiful, fluttery "wings" on the dress are just too cool for design school.) I just cannot wait for the next episode!

9. Podcast of the Week
Tim's Take -- Tim Gunn dishes the dirt behind the whole Project Runway premiere and tells what he was really thinking while Vincent ranted and raved about his crazy basket hat. Best of all, he gives us a clue about the rule-breaker! Tune in for the details!!!

10. Movie of the Month (so far)
"The Devil Wears Prada" -- It's taken me days to sort out all my thoughts. First, I was somehow disappointed in the changes in the plot that happened between the book and the film, yet I liked the Miranda character so much more in the movie. It finally occurred to me what was bothering me in the final analysis, and I really need to see the movie again to see if I'm right or wrong. (I'm usually wrong.) Here's the problem: Varying from the book, main character Andy suddenly actually understands the value and purpose of her job as Miranda's assistant, and being a smart girl with a brain and an education, she determines to succeed at this enviable job. Also different from the book is the fact that Andy does, in fact, begin to succeed. Her friends begin to act like petulant, whiny, self-absorbed, irresponsible high school kids -- which, again, is a bit different from the story as it was in the book. Then -- for no really good reason at all -- movie Andy decides to return to the plot as it was in the book, and she quits her job and apologizes to her friends for being so awful as to want to succeed and make something of herself.

The bra-burning feminist within me rails against this travesty of a plot device. There have been movies about career women discovering the value of leaving the Rat Race -- remember that darling old comedy "Baby Boom"? It is possible to write films about women who make difficult choices. Unfortunately, "The Devil Wears Prada" failed to sell me that bill of goods. It just seems wrong, somehow.

And yet, I liked the movie and want to see it again. Mostly for the clothes.

There. Now that you know how many lovely things I've encountered this week, I've no reason to bore you with the icky stuff.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Wow! Project Runway links

Oooo, I need to talk about TV more often -- this post generated a *lot* of email!

OK, some links for folks who also love dishing about the new season and the opinions of Bravo's decision to coin the word "auf'd" for Heidi's signature goodbye phrase to the week's loser....

- Design*Sponge -- This blog/podcast/website is full of yummy design commentary and photos. Truly inspirational! And there's a bit of a chat going on about the Season 3 premiere to sweeten the pot.

- Television Without Pity -- So many people love this website. It can be a little contentious for me, but hey, if I get some spoilers and some gossip from the Project Runway forums, I'm cool with snarky.

- Blogging Project Runway -- Several readers wrote to point me in this direction. There's so much info here that it can be a little overwhelming, so you may want to hit it in small bites. Yummy!

- Dan Renzi's blog -- An old friend steered me to this blog, written by a former Real World/Road Rules (?) cast member. His recaps of Project Runway are hilarious!

I'm so lucky to have found so many people who will help me dish about this show. Thank you, everyone! You own the bombness! Now, all of us need to channel hate waves toward Jeffrey.... who really irritates me with his tattoo'ed neck. Tattoos, I love. On the neck? OW!!!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

It's a whole new season

Santino didn't win Season 2 - and I'm not sure he would have survived the first task of Season 3 -- but Project Runway is back with a whole new batch of designers, and oh! My! Goodness! What a fabulous show. I'm so mad that all the previews have shown Tim Gunn kicking someone off (for breaking a rule), but that won't happen until some later point in the season. Augh! How am I supposed to wait?

Biggest thrill of the first episode: Kate Spade as the Guest Judge. WOW!!!!! She was so elegant, intelligent, lovely, perceptive, and best of all, nice. Kate Spade was nice! That makes me feel so much better about the state of the world, to find out that someone so creative and revered in the world of fashion is actually capable of being a sweetheart judge.

(Unlike regular judge Michael Kors, who puts "meow" in "Meowchiavellian." He's mean. Just mean. Not even Simon Cowell honest-mean -- Michael Kors is just catty and jealous mean.)

If you're addicted to Project Runway, drop me a note, tell me what you thought. I don't have anyone with whom to dish about it, and it's killing me not to gossip!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Anticipay-yay-tion, makin me wait


The waiting is killing me. We're so close, and yet we're still so far from publishing our first podcast episode.

In the meantime, I made the little chainstitch book from the Club Scrap Collections kit that arrived last month. It was an intense effort to make something -- to create something -- again, after all these months of just writing.

My stitches are horribly uneven and imperfect. That's why I only scanned the cover.

In any case, I hope to be able to announce the real podcast sometime soon. Fingers crossed!

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Skype me!

Man, I'm getting so techno-savvy, it's positively frightening. I have Skype! I have headphones and a microphone! Amy walked me through getting everything I needed to get it set up, and then we talked a little last night -- over the Internet -- and the sound is utterly amazing. It's as if she's in the same room as me.

A little note if you're not accustomed to the better quality of a microphone and a headset like this -- I apparently deafened poor Yamy by trying to eat a Dorito. OK, note to self: Can't eat Doritos while podcasting....

... When we start podcasting, that is......

(If you have Skype and ya wanna give me a holler, send me an email to warn me, OK? I'm listening to the new Snow Patrol CD "Eyes Open" on the headphones because the sound quality raaawwwwwks!)

Thursday, July 06, 2006


I only have a moment to compose this post, but I cannot let some other unsuspecting cinema goer to make the mistake that I made. If I can save one person from walking into certain pain and misery, then it might be worth my loss of two hours and $5.50 this afternoon.


Don't. Just don't go there. To call that waste of film a putrid and rotting bag of stinky fish pus is a kindness. It reminds me of "Chained Heat," only worse. Did anyone see that? It was 1983 or so, and poor Linda Blair was trying to make an adult comeback, and someone put her in a women's prison movie. Until this afternoon, I really thought *that* was the worst film ever. I was wrong. "Roadhouse" is a better movie than "A Prairie Home Companion." In point of fact, I am fairly certain that the third Porky's movie is better.

(At least I went to see "Chained Heat" by accident. This afternoon's film was ... all I can think is that it was a total lapse of my better judgment.)

I already knew that I didn't like Garrison Keillor. Wesley is a big fan of his and of PHC, and of course Pat Donohue is a complete genius. In fact, the entire regular cast of the radio program are wonderful. Sadly, they were not utilized at all to their potential in this wretched excuse for a film. The mega-famous movie stars were equally as wasted and abused by a complete nightmare of a script (penned by the aforementioned Keillor, curse him). The -- completely asinine plot device of an "angel" was so painful as to prompt my gag reflex into overkill every time she appeared on the screen.

The dialogue was painful. The characters were awful. The plot was nonexistent.

Let me try to make this clear: This movie stank from the very beginning to the very last frame.

I feel so sorry for director Robert Altman. I feel so badly for Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin and, oh, oh, poor Kevin Kline. They're all going to have to forget this travesty, this smear on their resumes.

There was one bright spot -- a single song about bad jokes by the singing cowboys, played by Woody Harrelson and John C. Reilly. I only wish the two men hadn't also been required to mouth insipid lines in scenes before and after that song.

I often say that you can wait until a movie comes out on DVD. This time, I'm going to beg you to please ignore the DVD. If it comes on HBO, change the channel. I would have walked out of that movie within the first eight minutes, but I was there with Wesley, who for some completely unknown reason liked the movie all right. I don't mean he liked it liked it -- but he didn't hate it. However, Wesley has been known to watch three Westerns in a row -- *and* -- he married *me*. So his taste is already suspect.

Save yourselves. It's too late for me. Save yourselves and do not watch "A Prairie Home Companion." A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Ode to the Random Guy

There once was a Random Guy
Who stopped as he walked by --
Our fireworks he liked
(His dog nearly piked)
But Random just watched the sparks fly.

OK, that was a weird occasion.

We did our fireworks for Independence Day unusually late because of Wesley's work schedule -- it was nearly 10:30 before we started setting things off. There were oodles of other pyrotechnics going off all around town. I swear this place sounds like a war zone on the Fourth of July. (So does Las Vegas, if I'm to judge by the background noise when Amy called me -- and they're only s'posed to have "Safe & Sane" fireworks -- which means really dull pyrotechnics, of course. Apparently Las Vegans have found other sources of things that explode in the night.)

Everything was going just fine -- there were no mishaps, and some of the fireworks were really pretty. We used the classical music medley from the *old* Illuminations display that you used to be able to see at Epcot. Our neighbors were out in lawn chairs, watching the festivities, and I was quite surprised (and gratified) to see that Pam's granddaughter was delighted with the noise. The child is about 18 months old; my kids screamed like we were drowning them at that age over fireworks. (That behavior used to put quite a damper in *my* festivities, let me tell you!)

And out of nowhere, this Random Guy walked up out of the darkness and just joined Wesley on the strip of land where we set off our fabulous and incredibly well-organized display. Like we knew him! Like he had been doing it for years! Like he were part of the party! Just... out of the BLUE, there... he... was!!!

And the thing is -- he brought his dog with him, and that dog was terrified of the noise. Geeez!!!!

I mean -- I mean -- of course I want people to enjoy our fireworks display. Of course I do! I loved it that Pam and her family were clapping and ooh'ing and ah'ing from their side of the yard! But... I have never seen anyone just walk right up to the stuff with gunpowder and start *chatting* with Wesley before. This was surreal! Who was this Random Guy? Where did he come from? Did he even notice that his little dog was cowering under Wesley's truck as if she were going to die from the noise? Had it occurred to him that he was encroaching on Wesley's manly display of pyrotechnics ability? Noooooooo! No! Not at all!!!

It was a very strange night, let me tell you. I had to go to Knoxville in the middle of the night to bring Emily home. I stopped at Bimbo's for a Diet Sprite, and discovered my favorite cashier from the grocery store has quit that job and is now a night clerk for Bimbo's convenience store.

Yep. Weird Independence Day, any way you look at it. But I think I will always remember this as the year that Random Guy showed up and hung out with us for ten minutes or so.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Out of the woods

Woodrow wanted to take a walk in "the country" yesterday. He has a tiny pair of binoculars that fascinate him right now. So I drove out to a place with hiking trail, and we hiked up a ridge to the top so Woodrow could look at stuff through his binoculars.

Something about the way he's out of the cool darkness of the woods and happily traipsing to the top of the ridge -- breaks my heart.

Loose ends

Blogger wouldn't let me upload this pic earlier today -- this is the pyrotechnics booty for 2006. Hubba, hubba! OK, actually, it looks pretty small in the spacious trunk of my beloved Prius. But I swear it's a massive haul!

And I can't wait to set them off on Independence Day!

Most of our neighbors had their fireworks festivities tonight. I don't know why the powers that be have declared July 1st an adequate substitute for the real thing, but even the big fireworks display in Lenoir City was tonight. We missed it. Emily was boating with her boyfriend, and Woodrow and I set out chairs to watch our neighbors' fireworks instead.

Ugh. OMG. It was *painful*!!!!!!! People don't do fireworks right. They never prepare. They'll get out ONE firework and find the fuse -- in the dark -- and try to light it with a punk -- and those things NEVER stay lit -- and then they mess with a lighter -- and then they stand back and watch that ONE firework go off.... And then they start all over again.

Organization, people! Find those fuses *first*, while it's still light out, and get organized!!!!

Also, and, plus, too! They light the *best* fireworks first and then when they've gone through all the multi-shots and shells, *then* they're stuck with sparklers and firecrackers for a finale.


All it takes is a modicum of organization and taste. Find the fuses. *Release* the fuses from the cellophane wrappers before it gets dark. Have *several* lighters on hand, because they *will* stop working after four or five flicks of your Bic. Arrange the weakest, most boring fireworks for the early part of the program, and save the most expensive, big stuff for last. If you can do that little bit at least, instead of two hours of one boom every 9 minutes, you could have a solid 18 minutes of BOOM BOOM SIZZLE BOOM SPARKLE BOOM BOOMS and BOOM!

(The musical soundtrack -- which at my house is usually Disney fireworks music -- is optional. But at least the fireworks themselves should be solid and reliable.)

OK, really, there's more to it -- like having safety measures in place and two separate platforms for the fireworks so that you're not lighting a mortar right next to a multi-shot at any given time -- but really, it just takes organization!

I really should have been a pyrotechnics professional, shouldn't I? ;)

Gah, I love the Fourth of July!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Fabulous fireworky Friday

It's Saturday as I compose this entry -- I was distracted last night. I'm re-reading "The Stand" by Stephen King, which is something I do every few years.

Don't sneeze. I'll jump, I swear I will.

Anyway, yesterday was a better-than-average Friday, because it was fireworks shopping day for the Pyrotechnics-lovin' Loftises. The kids and I picked up Wesley after work and drove to Bimbo's in Lenoir City for our annual fireworks pilgrimage.

Independence Day is my favorite holiday. I love it, and I've written about how much I love it here on this blog. To recap, mostly I love it because:
1. It's a holiday that doesn't require I go to Athens and hang out with extended family.
2. It occurs in summer, when the weather is more pleasant than in winter.
3. Homegrown tomatoes and other fresh produce generally play a big part in the menu.
4. Fireworks.

We always shop at Bimbo's for our fireworks. We've been shopping there for *years*. Ed knows me, he knows my taste, and he knows I'm going to buy a boatload of fireworks.

There's a secret to fireworks -- You can buy those $100, $150, or $200 mix-in-a-box collections, but I'm telling you, those things are *not* a bargain. You're going to waste 75% of your budget on dinky bottle rockets and boring firecrackers if you buy one of those boxes. Worse! Oh, worse, you'll get snakes and roman candles!

No, no -- here's what you should get: Multi-shot units and a couple of boxes of mortars. Don't let the salesman talk you into the double- or triple-shot mortars. Get the single-shot mortars. The double and triples have exactly the same amount of gunpowder in them as the singles, but the gunpowder has been divided out, so each consecutive pop is progressively smaller. Better to explode all the gunpowder in one big POW -- trust me on this. The singles go higher and spread bigger. Seriously.

So we went to Bimbo's, and the place was crammed full of people, and as I fought my way through the crowd, I couldn't find *any* of my traditional favorites. Oh, the fireworks have the *best* worst names!!!! They're all named by Chinese people who try to appeal to American patriotism, but they miss the mark and can't spell English. Like "Spirit of Misouri" instead of "Spirit of St. Louis." Or one of my old favorites, "Colourfull Wirld Wind." Snort!

But I couldn't find any of those old favorites. And I looked at Wesley, and I really thought, Wow, he needs food. (He's got diabetes, y'know.)

So I hustled the family out of Bimbo's and down the road to Quizno's. Woo hoo! Quizno's!!!! Y'all know my favorite sandwich is the Smoked Turkey. I've been getting the Smoked Turkey on Rosemary parmesan bread for *years*. I never get anything different. But I wanted something different this time, and... I couldn't pick an alternate! The whole family ordered sandwiches and they ran through the little toasting machine while I stood there and tried to pick something that *wasn't* Smoked Turkey.

I asked the guy behind the counter what he recommended, and he asked me what I *usually* got. I said Smoked Turkey, and he said with a crease of concern, "Oh, hey, that's a really good one..."

Wesley started reading the ENTIRE MENU ALOUD.

I agonized.

Fortunately, there was no one waiting in line behind me.

I finally ordered the Cabo Chicken, based on the fact that it had guacamole and something called "mild chipotle sauce."

Exactly when did the word "chipotle" become a standard vocabulary word in American cuisine? I don't even know what it is, but it's mentioned on every other fast food commercial these days. Is it salsa? Is it ketchup? Is it ... a vegetable? Just what the heck is "chipotle"?

Well, if my experience is worth anything, it's just damn hot, is what it is!!!!

The Cabo Chicken sandwich was faaaaaaaaaabulous. I loved it. It was the messiest sandwich at our table, dripping big globs of guacamole everywhere. We all sat there, laughing over how messy my sandwich was, and just generally enjoying dinner. My tongue was on fire from whatever was so dang hot in the sandwich, but that certainly wasn't going to stop me from eating.

As we left Quizno's and headed back toward Bimbo's, the heavens opened with a crash and rumble and then a strange plinking sound... HAIL. Pattering all around my beloved Prius!!! Oh, no!!!! Quick, like a little bunny, I pulled in at a bank -- long closed for the evening -- and took refuge under the drive-in window, alongside a very large Ford F-something truck. (He rolled his window down and asked me if I get good mileage from the hybrid.... pardon me whilst I guffaw... No, seriously, he just looked longingly at the Prius. I'm accustomed to that from drivers of very large vehicles.)

When the hail stopped and it turned to plain rain, we drove to Bimbo's... and just as I parked, hail came back. We stayed in the car until it passed -- it was smaller this time -- and then we made our way to the big fireworks tent, which the walls had been pulled down on. All the water was sloughing off the parking lot and through the tent, but that deterred me not one whit from my task -- after all, this was the least crowded the tent was going to be for the remainder of the holiday weekend, unless we got another rainstorm, which, these days, we can't count on.

(For instance, that monstrous storm never made it to little Philadelphia, which was dry as a bone when we got home later.)

So -- we trooped into the tent with its sodden and flooding floors, and I snagged someone in a Bimbo's Fireworks shirt and asked for Ed's assistance. She said Ed was busy, but she would get JohnJohn to help me.

Let's just get this out there -- The only place in the world where grown men can go by names like JohnJohn and Bimbo and Bubba and Pinkie *must* be the South.

I liked JohnJohn the first time I saw him. He looked solid and steady and reliable, with greying red hair and a beer belly that said, "I know how to relax." We shook hands, and I assessed his fireworks knowledge by telling him upfront, "I'm not spending more than $150, and I only like multi-shots and mortars."

The first two things he pointed out were monstrous and would have used up two-thirds of my budget in one fell swoop. I said no immediately to the mortar collection he recommended -- more than half of the mortars in the box were double-shot mortars. His eyebrows raised, and I explained my objection to splitting up the gunpowder.

An expression of respect crossed JohnJohn's face, and he moved on to smaller multi-shots. Less than a minute later, he picked up "Computer Bug," which was originally released in 1999 as "Milenium Bug." It has gone through three name changes, but it is my single favorite multi-shot firework. It shoots 100 spectacular little shells into the sky, popping and spinning and fizzing and emitting all kinds of colors and effects.

It ain't the Fourth of July if you ain't got Milenium Bug in your fireworks display.

My own opinion of JohnJohn's taste soared as he said, "This 'un's mah fav-ert."

JohnJohn! My own true love!

After that, pretty much anything JohnJohn picked up, I put in my basket. I was very worried about the budget as the buggy filled up and Wesley tried to maneuver it over the floodwaters swirling around our toes. None of us had a calculator, but JohnJohn got a piece of scratch paper and started doing the math. We grabbed a couple more multi-shots, and then made our way to the cash register, where Ed had *finally* shown up.

You should have seen the look on Ed's face when he realized that I had done my shopping and hadn't even waited for him to help me. He exclaimed to JohnJohn, "Hey! She's MY customer! What are you doing with MY customer? You BETTER NOT have done her wrong!"

I held up the newly-renamed Computer Bug and told Ed, "Don't worry, Ed, the minute this landed in my buggy, I knew I could trust JohnJohn." We all laughed.

Now, I didn't get the usual handful of poppers as freebies, but I did get an extra spark fountain. That'll be a nice change of pace in this year's display.

And I have a new fireworks expert with whom to discuss the merits of swimmy fish vs. buzzing bees, should the occasion arise.

The upshot and the lowdown:
- Try the Cabo Chicken if you want a change of pace at Quizno's; it's tasty.
- Buy your fireworks at Bimbo's in Lenoir City.
- Never judge a redneck by his accent or his funny name.

An *excellent* evening, any way you look at it!