Re-launched, but still slightly under construction. :-)

Monday, April 28, 2008

Ci non è mai l'ostilità tra il cuoco ed il maggiordomo

Me: "If you were a sad Italian clown, what would you eat?"
A.C.: "What?"

I'm trying to think of a way to connect our Bite This feature with the Augusta Opera's upcoming production of Pagliacci. So I need food items themed along the lines of the tragic story of a love-sick clown.

We ponder it, tossing out ideas like popcorn and Circus Peanuts. But I doubt there are actual restaurant dishes that incorporate those ingredients.

Me: "Ice cream?"
A.C.: "Gelato... but I don't know what flavor."
A.W.: "Sad clowns don't believe in flavor."
Me: "J.C., if you were a sad Italian clown, what would you eat?"
J.C.: "Hmm... you could go to Rolypoly-acci."

Har.

The Saga of Mellow Mushroom

AUGUSTA, GA. - So we ordered from Mellow Mushroom last week. It was a disaster. $75 worth of food, $30 worth of WRONG ORDERS. I returned to get the right items a second time.

Every Monday, somehow, I'm in charge of ordering dinner. T.G. just assigned it to me one day, probably because he looked at my butt and thought, "Oh, yeah. She knows where to find food." That's fine. I'll admit it's one of my few skills. I'm fab with the hunting and gathering. Ugh. Me kill pizza, drag back to office.

Anyway, every week, there's big drama with the dinner order. Forever, we had three choices: Papa Johns, Chick-fil-A or the Hot Dog Man. J.W. was a great salesman, but not so much with the creative cooking. Now we can pretty much order from anywhere, so long as we're reasonable. We're not ordering Takosushi for the whole office, for example. But every week there is a chorus of negations before we even order. It's hell to keep up with, kind of like those logic puzzles from middle school.

Posit: IF:
1. There are two vegetarians in the office.
2. One person does not like Mexican.
3. One person likes Mexican, but only fish tacos, and that always makes me laugh.
4. One person will not eat Boll Weevil because this person worked there for 12 years.
5. One person never wants Chinese food.
6. One person always wants Chinese food.
7. One person thinks Roly Poly, while they deliver and have FIFTY-TWO sandwich choices, does not bring enough food.
8. No one wants a certain downtown bar and grill.
9. One person is a smartass and vetoed Island Seafood on Lumpkin Road.
10. One person, ME, doesn't give a shit let's just order already.
11. Pizza Joint won't take the company card over the phone.
12. Many restaurants are closed on Monday nights.
13. No one minds Firehouse Subs, but they are boring.
Q: Who will be eating leftovers from the freezer this week?
A: Everyone and I don't care.

So we're back to Mellow Mushroom, which EVERYONE vetoed because they NEVER get the order right (like last week), or there is big drama in getting them to take the correct order in the first place (like this lovely episode). With a sigh and severe reservations, I picked up the phone and dialed.

Voice on Phone: "Mellow Mushroom. This is Caitlin. How may I help you?"
Me: "Hi, this is Stacey Hudson from the Metro Spirit. May we place a dinner order?"
Caitlin: "Sure. Can I get a name?"
Me: (sigh) "Yeah. Stacey. Hudson. from the Metro. Spirit."
A.W.: "And so it begins..."

Turkeys Get Bolder

So apparently this turkey thing is getting to be a bigger problem than I realized. According to the Boston Herald, they've begun taking over the sidewalks in Cambridge and Brookline.

I read this story and laughed: "A.C., listen: July 20. Caller reports 18 turkeys in her backyard."
A.C. laughs: "One of them is wearing blue face paint and appears to be addressing the troops!"

Another Great Story I Couldn't Possibly Have Written

A.C.: "So you guys get this: Apparently near my mom's house, there is this crazy turkey. She said she was pulling up in her car and saw this turkey running across a field. She watched it for a while and it kept running and then she realized, 'Oh, my god, I think that turkey is running right for my car!' And it was."

Apparently the turkey is very territorial and has been known to attack things - even inanimate things like cars - as they go by.

A.C.: "I was like, are you sure maybe somebody doesn't need to shoot it? Maybe it has rabies?"

That is how I want to go out in life! If I could choose some horrible death for myself, I would want to be mauled by a rabid turkey. Because there can be no better way to make sure that the people who know me keep laughing.

My obit: "Stacey McGowen-Hudson, 34, entered into rest on April 28, 2008, after an attack by a rabid turkey. Memorial services will be held at Blanchard Amphitheater on the Augusta State University campus. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Laughter Heals Foundation, whose goal is to promote the potent therapeutic value on humor and laughter in the healing process."

Our Freelancers Are Far More Conscientious Than I Ever Realized

Monday, April 28, 2008 By No comments

Stacey, Sorry it took me a little longer to get this back to you than I expected, this past week got a bit crazier than I expected. This was a really strange album, and it was kind of hard to review, but also kind of fun. Let me know if you need anything else out of this. Thanks, B.H.

B.H. -

Are you seriously apologizing to me for not getting a HARMONICA ALBUM review back faster? I mean, yes, we've been under siege from rabid pan flute enthusiasts who seem to have never stopped mourning the passing of Zamfir, and have no other performer to turn to in their time of grief... but a nice set of earplugs has blocked out most of the girlish wailing from the men. The women's voices ululate at a frequency only dogs can hear.

I just took a bite of my cereal, and I think there's COCONUT in it. Who puts coconut in breakfast cereal? Frankly, this issue is more pressing that the timeliness of your review. I have a Jamaican consulate to notify of alleged acts of cereal terrorism.

Stacey


Cerealsy, check this guy out. He's looking at his solo diatonic harmonica like, "Come vis me to ze Cazbar, unt ve shall make beautiful music togezzer." It's a love story: A man. A harmonica. A missed note. A farewell glance. Then, a chance meeting years later. Can it be? It is! And they live together in perfect harmony all the rest of their days.

Ah, le amour. Veuillez m'excuser un moment mais passer cette fois avec vous m'a fait se rend compte combien de temps il a été depuis que j'ai eu un poo vraiment grand.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Stupid Headline of the Day

Sunday, April 27, 2008 By No comments

Poor suffer most in new economics of hunger

New economics, old economics, hey Washington Post, the poor ALWAYS suffer most... although inside the Beltway, I'm sure you only see them when you drive past public housing and try not to look.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Dying for Lack of Insurance (That's Me, Riding by on My High Horse)

I know that everyone won't agree with me, and that's okay. We're all allowed our opinions. And, generally speaking, I am conservative when it comes to government intervention. It makes me feel like someone else controls too much of my life, so I tend to vote against more state or federal controls, as opposed to against it.

But that's not the case with health care. I know it terrifies doctors and others who have learned how to work within the current system of insurance company collusion and come out ahead.

But the rest of us - those who make less than a doctor or a lawyer - are being priced out of health care. Heck, I HAVE insurance, and my company's policy is very generous (Thanks, Portico!) and I still keep my visits to the bare minimum.

Stories like this one remind me as to why I feel so passionately that health care is an exception to my rather nebulous and generalized libertarianism. I know one person I work with in particular won't agree. That's great with me, because I respect her and she's a smart and caring woman with well-reasoned opinions. Her arguments against my position only make me think more critically about the issue. That has a value worth more than any dollar amount.

But while I believe strongly that everyone is responsible for his or her own fate, and that government has no place in determining that (hello, public schools! I'm talking to you!), I also believe that it's our responsibility to other humans to strive for a level playing field.

If you look at two issues that separate lifelong criminals from law-abiding citizens (and if I'm remembering correctly), access to education and health care are the things that differ among the two populations. Educated, healthy people are less likely to commit crimes. Oh, don't say Enron to me. There are always exceptions to the rule.

I believe that health care is a basic human right - not just a need. It's something no one should ever have to struggle to get. And long gone are the days when a country doctor could support his or her family with the kind of elaborate bartering systems that used to develop. It's rare to be able to pay with chickens or potatoes or home repairs (or journalism?) anymore. There are rules, regulations and lawyers overseeing it all.

And private insurance is horribly bureaucratic and unreliable. According to The Commonwealth Fund, elderly Medicare beneficiaries are more likely than enrollees in employer-sponsored plans to rate their health insurance as excellent (32% vs. 20%) and less likely to report negative experiences with their insurance plans (43% vs. 61%). Medicare beneficiaries are also less likely than those with private insurance to go without needed care owing to costs (18% vs. 22%). The survey also finds that elderly Medicare beneficiaries are more likely to report being very satisfied with the care they received compared with those with private insurance (62% vs. 51%). (click here for more)

But it's not just about customer satisfaction. It's also about efficiency and cost-effectiveness. Doctors' salaries and prescription drug costs are less than 30 percent of total health care expenses in the country, according to

Something has to change. Maybe universal health care isn't the answer. I'd be happy to hear alternatives that knock out racial and ethnic disparities as well as government programs do.

Only an estimated 84.2% of citizens have some form of health insurance coverage. The number of uninsured increased from 44.8 million to 47.0 million from 2005 to 2006. One study estimates that about 25% of the country's uninsured, or roughly another 11 million people, are eligible for government health care programs but unenrolled. However, assuring adequate financing to cover those who are eligible remains a challenge.

Of course, the American Medical Association (AMA) believes that even if administrative expenditures were indisputably lower in a universal (aka "single-payer") system, that monetary benefit still would be offset by inefficiencies, longer wait times, restricted individual choice, reduced quality and decreased incentives for medical innovation. Those are valid concerns that should be taken into consideration. For the most part, I trust the judgment of the AMA.

But the bottom line for me - can you find it after all that rambling preachiness? - is that people die without insurance. Children, parents, brothers and sisters. Without a universal health care system, not only are we handicapping the needy children in our country from being able to get a fair shake in later life, but innocent people suffer and die. Their families are fully conscious of the disparity. It undermines their faith in the American Dream, and therefore in the nation. Over time, it could erode the country.

I just want to keep our priorities straight. I want to err on the side of life. I want to put more money into health care and education than we do into war. It sounds simple, but I know there are complicated issues and deep-seated fears that must be worked through. I hope that smarter people than me will find a solution soon.

Friday, April 25, 2008

A Start Wars Clip... For Me to Poop On

Small World

AUGUSTA, GA. - I did a story on Sieglinde Boykin, a German immigrant who owns the Coffee Break Cafe in downtown Augusta. Yesterday I got an e-mail in German. I thought it was spam until I recognized a word: Sieglinde. Hmm, I thought, and did my best to translate the German in my head. I mean, plenty of cognates exist between language, I thought, that I can get the gist of it.

Here's what they wrote:
Hallo Sieglinde, Bin gerade bei Brigitte und habe übers Internet deine E-mail gefunden. Habe mich sehr über die Einladung von Christopher und Amber gefreut ,nehme die Einladung natürlich an. Du mußt mir unbedieng mailen an welchen Flughafen ich kommen muß. Ankunftflughafen wo ich dann abgeholt werden kann.Brauche genaue Daten. Ich habe vor 2 Tagen einen Brief geschrieben und komme alleine. Bitte maile zurück.Ich hoffe ihr könnt mich dann abholen wenn wir die genauen Daten kennen.Viele liebe Grüße Bene ,Renate,Brigitte Sepp und Kinder

Here's what I could understand:

Hello, Sieglinde.

Bin gerade bei Brigitte AND HAVE OVER INTERNET deine E-MAIL gefunden. HAVE mich sehr OVER THE Einladung von CHRISTOPHER AND AMBER gefreut, nehme THE Einladung naturlich an. YOU mußt mir unbedieng mailen an welchen Flughafen ich COME muß. Ankunftflughafen wo ich dann abgeholt werden kann.Brauche genaue Daten. I HAVE FOR TWO tagen einen Brief gescheriben AND COME SOON. PLEASE maile zurück. I hoffee irh könnt mich dann abholen wenn wir die genauen Daten kennen. WITH LOVE Grüße Bene ,Renate,Brigitte Sepp AND CHILDREN.


Well, that didn't work. I just called over to the cafe and offered to forward the e-mail to her.

Life Lessons at the Metro Spirit

AUGUSTA, GA. - A.W. is working on her crime story, laughing about the incident reports: "When are people going to learn that you never take a person back to your hotel room when you don't know their name?!"

M.F.:
"One thing I've learned from watching 'COPS -"
(A.C. and I crack up laughing)
Me: "Because it's so educational?"
M.F.: "It is! Watch it for a few minutes and you'll realize there are many life lessons to learn. Rule number one is, if a hooker steals your money, don't call the cops to get it back."
(laughter)
M.F.: "Oh, and every time there's a fight-"
A.W.: "One of 'em isn't wearing a shirt?"
M.F.: "You know what kills me about COPS, is that no one ever says, 'Get that f-ing camera out of my face!'"

Happy Birthday A.C.!

It's A.C.'s birthday!

Me: "Oh, that's right." How ignorant of me.
A.C.: "Shut up."
Me: "What did Jim give you?"
A.W.: "Yeah, was it something good, or was his leaving for Nashville your gift?"

Stupid Headline of the Day

Friday, April 25, 2008 By No comments

World's Oldest Oil Paintings Found in Caves

Doesn't everybody know that? Isn't that where it kind of all began?

Thanks, Alice!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Snore

A.W.: Ooh, Kenny G is going to be at Chastain Amphitheater.
Me: Great! I need a nap!

Hee!

I like sheep.

I Smell AWESOME Today


And my skin is very soft. And I'm not even getting paid to say that.

Possibly the Greatest Story Ever Told (Including that Bible Thing, Too)

Whoopee is a blog I check almost every day. Really good writing from an interesting Englishwoman. She just kicked my ass for posting - kicked EVERYONE'S ass - with this post. I bow to her.

Peter Pan Syndrome

AUGUSTA, GA. - There comes an alarming time in every woman's life when you leave childish things behind and become a grown-up.

I have hit the snooze button on that particular alarm.

Let me give you an example. A.W. and I were driving across town to the drugstore, when we pulled up beside R.B. in her car, at a stoplight, with the window rolled down. We made faces, honked the horn, and generally made our mothers very proud - but because she is more mature than we are, R.B. never even looked over.

Unacceptable!

We started up Calhoun Expressway, when I had a brilliant idea: "Get Emerson's (clean) panties out of the back seat!"
"What?!"
"Chuck 'em in her window!"
A.W. frantically searched and located the Dora underwear, and we pulled up beside R.B., laughing our asses off.
"THROW THEM!" I shrieked.

She did.

They flew straight back.
I mean, they got NOWHERE near her window.
What's worse, R.B. didn't even notice it.

Obviously we should have paid attention in physics class. But it was much funnier our way. And then, when A.W. went to pick up sushi for dinner last night, what did she see on the side of Calhoun Expressway?

Yes. Emmie's underwear.
"Did you stop and get it?" I asked.
"No. But I thought about it."

She thought about it. I thought about going back to get them. But you know what else I thought about? I thought, maybe if one of us should have thought about Newton's First Law, we wouldn't be in this idiotic position.

And Emmie would have a clean pair of panties.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Stupid Headline of the Day

Wednesday, April 23, 2008 By No comments

Nicole Kidman urges global fight to end violence

Well, they do say to fire with fire...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Help!

AUGUSTA, GA. - This is how they were towing cars downtown in advance of the Tour de Georgia coming through. Yikes!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Going into Labor

Me: "Do you have any feedback for me on that story, besides the crappy ending?"
A.C.: "I didn't say it was a crappy ending."
Me: "It was a crappy ending... (silence) "You're playing Tetrus over there, aren't you?
A.W.: "She's playing Minesweeper."
A.C.: "I am not! I'm reading your story!"
Me: "Whatever. ... I guess I'll write another story since I ain't done that enough today."
"What? I have some stuff you can do!" T.G. interjects.
Me: "Uh, okay."
A.W.: "What were you going to write?"
Me: "A book review for this book I read," I held up "A Hollywood Ending." Hey, it was a free book that came directly to me in the mail. If it has words, I'll read it.
T.G.: "Oh.. okay..." he sounded nonplussed.
Me: "I mean, I'm sorry I only wrote 10 stories for you this week. I'll try not to slack off so much next week," I retort with dripping sarcasm.
A.W.: "You know T.G.'s not happy unless you're bleeding from the ears!"

Emmie's First Symphony Performance

You know why she's so happy? Because I plied her with popcorn and M&Ms so she'd keep still and quiet. Of course, when the M&Ms took effect, we had to leave. But I got to see four or five songs from Big Bad Voodoo Daddy before that. She lasted almost two hours.

Friday, April 18, 2008

LOL-ipop

humorous pictures
see more crazy cat pics

Desperado... Why Don't You Come to Your Senses?

AUGUSTA, GA. - It was all over. El hombre malo was dead. Antonio Banderas (circa “Desperado”) folded me in his arms and leaned in for passionate kiss.

Then the air was filled with the crash of breaking glass. Shards pricked my feet and legs. I screamed a long and keening shriek of fright.

By the door, two dark shapes loomed over the bed. Oh, my god: a break-in! Can I barrel through them, grab the baby and get out before we get hurt?

“It’s okay, honey!” my husband said, as he shot up in bed.
What? Where’s Antonio?
The dark human forms by the doorway disappeared.
“It’s okay,” he soothed.
Uh, no it’s not. Antonio’s missing. And what the hell is going on?

I sat up halfway, while he rubbed my shoulder.
“What happened?” I asked, shaking with fear… and disappointment. Dangit, Antonio!
“The glass bulb from the ceiling fan fell out and shattered,” he answered. “Are you okay?”
“Uh, I think so,” I said, sitting up shakily.
“Don’t move.”

He picked up one of his grandfather’s antique golf clubs and banged on the ceiling.
“What are you doing? Trying to bring down the rest of the fan?”
“No. Our neighbors…” he trailed off.
“What?”
“They were having sex.”

Our neighbor is a great lady. But she and her boyfriend are quite the enthusiastic lovers. Usually it wakes me up. This time, I had some action of my own going on. But Scott, alone while I gallivanted through rural Mexico with El Mariachi, had been wide awake when the sky fell at 3 a.m.

I started to laugh, the shakes wearing off.
“That or bowling while moving furniture,” Scott grinned.

We stripped the blankets off the bed and swept up the glass before crawling back into bed.

“Good night, honey,” Scott said.
Buenos Noches, mi amor,” I grinned, and drifted back to sleep.

Can't Fool an Old Fooler

Ed Turner calls, teasing me about Duran Duran.
"I heard you were a huge fan," he said.
"No," I answered. Never understood the appeal.
"Uh... maybe it was A.C.?" he asks.
"Yeah, probably."
"They sent me to the wrong person! Well, what's going on with you anyway?" he laughs.
"Nothing much, but let me get you to A.C. before her head explodes," I laugh.
"Okay. Tease her about Duran Duran for me, though," he says before I put him on hold.
"Hey, A.C.? Simon Le Bon on line one," I say.
She claps her hands and grins.
A.W. laughs: "After all these years!"
A.C. picks up her phone: "Hey, Ed."

Dang.

Dollars and Sense

AUGUSTA, GA. - Walking out of the Bell Auditorium during the Big Bad Voodoo Daddy show, Emmie babbled happily about going to the store. She's three, so that she made it nearly two hours into the concert was good enough for me.

"We go to da store an' get badderees for da cam-rah," she said, excited. "I gon' tate a picher of you, mama!"
SMASH! Down she went, tripping over a raised concrete segment of the sidewalk, skinning both knees and the palms of her hands. Wow, she was not happy.

A guy on a bike heard her crying as I cradled her and walked slowly toward the car: "Is she okay?" he asked.
Emmie looked up and forgot her pain for a moment: "Huh!" she gasped. "You godda bicycle!"
He laughed. "Yeah! Do you have a bicycle?"
"Noooo," Emmie said, still hiccuping from her crying jag. "Iss too big for me."
"Oh, I see. Your mama got a bicycle?"
"No. Mommy godda car," Emmie answered brightly.

The guy rode in wide circles around us, making Emmie laugh and me nervous. He was obviously homeless, but I wanted him to be harmless, too.
"What's going on at the Bell tonight?" he asked.
"A symphony performance," I answered.
"Is it over?"
"Not yet. She was just getting restless," I said.
"We see da moosic!" Emmie told him brightly.
"I like music," he answered, and started to pedal away. Suddenly he veered back towards us.

"Hey, ma'am, I'm sorry to bug you, but you got a dollar you can spare?"
Hell no. If I didn't get free tickets, I couldn't have afforded to go to the show.
"Mama!" Emmie said, excitedly. "You got dollars in your pocket!"
(sigh)
I reached into my back pocket, pulled out $7.

"What?!" Scott said, when I told him that. "You don't feed the panhandlers!"
"Hey, I'm telling a story here. Thanks so much for listening."
"Oh, sorry, sorry. Go on with your story."

"So, I gave him the cash, and - "

"I still can't believe you did that."

"Not done here!"
"Okay, okay..."
(glare)

"Here you go, sir," I said.
"Thank you! Thank you very much!" he said, looking at the folded bills in his hand.
"You welcome!" Emmie said, happily. "Now you got dollars, too!"

Scott harrumphs.
Shut it!


"Yes, I do!" he cackled. "I'm gon' get me some good liquor with this tonight!"

"Uh!" Scott exclaims. "See?!"

"Yes, I see!"
"I would have poked a stick in his bicycle spokes and knocked him over," he said.
"Look, I was rising above, honey! Okay? Rising. Above."
"Whatever."

"I know how that feels," I tell the guy. I really don't, but I have to respect his honesty.

"You mean his audacity," Scott interrupts.

Shut your piehole!

"Let me make sure you get in your car safely," he said. "There's crazy people down here."
I laughed. Really? I hadn't noticed... Oh, wait: Rising above... rising above...
"Make sure you buckle your little girl in safely," he called from a respectful distance on the sidewalk. "You got it?"
"Yes, sir. Thank you for your concern," I said, without a touch of sarcasm. It was kind of nice of him, even though I know I paid him $7 for the few moments of protection.
"You be careful, now, okay?" he said, as I shut Emmie's door and walked around the front of my car to get in.
"Yes, sir. Thank you. What's your name?"
"Ronnie," he said, and we shook hands.
"I'm Stacey."
"Nice to meet you."
"Same here. You have a nice evening, sir."
"You, too. I'll see you around."

"I'll bet," Scott said.
"Hey! He was being nice!" I protested.
"You be nice, dada!" Emmie said, pointing her finger at him.
He held up his hands in mock resignation: "I guess I'm outvoted."

Hope you managed to get a sandwich to go with that bottle, Ronnie.
And maybe some teeth with which to chew it.

Grrrrr..zzzzzz

A.C.: "The forces of the universe just really don't want you to get any sleep do they?"
Me: "Nope. Because at midnight last night I was awakened by 'DON'T GO FOR SECOND BEST, BABY, PUT YOUR LOVE TO THE TEST YOU KNOW YOU KNOW YOU'VE GOT TO MAKE HIM EXPRESS HOW HE FEELS AND MAYBE THEN YOU'LL KNOW YOUR LOVE IS REEEEEEEAAAALL!'"
A.W.: "What? Why? Were you in a gay bar?"
Me: "In 1990? NO. Just my husband watching old videos on YouTube."

Madonna - "Express Yourself"

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Rhyme Time

AUGUSTA, GA. - I swig a huge gulp of my Diet Coke. Ahhhhh...

"I'm going to write an Ode to Diet Coke," I announce, with grandiosity.
(Did you even know that word? No. You did not. Learn it.)
"You should," A.C. remarks, rather dryly. They tire of my two obsessions: zombies and Diet Coke. Oh, but for a way to combine the two!
"What rhymes with Coke?" I muse. "Toke. Choke. Croak."
"Smoke!" A.C. chimes in.
"Ah! Toke, choke, croak, smoke... the beginning of a genius poem."

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Chicken Poop

AUGUSTA, GA. - My mom has a chicken obsession, and has just about everything she could want that is chicken themed... except a live one that actually says "Bok." I love the word "Bok." Bok. Bok. Bok. Bok. Bok. Bok. Bok. Bok. Bok. Bok. Really, it should be the language of diplomacy.

"I'm dying to get my mom a chicken - like, a real one," I say.

"That would be cool... I'd love to see how you get it to Conyers," A.W. replies.

I die laughing: "That would be horrible! Thank you for knocking some sense into me."

"It might be funny though," she continues. "Give you plenty of blog fodder... you know, after it's pecked everybody's eyes out, going down I-20."

Overheard in the Office

"I can't get him to answer the phone."
"Oh, well... he's very busy and important."
"Busy taking my foot out of his ass soon."

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Day of the Dead

AUGUSTA, GA. - So I know that graveyards aren't supposed to be funny... Wait. Let me try again.

So I know that graveyards aren't funny. But if we superimpose my psyche upon the beauty of Magnolia Cemetery, we get both a disturbing portrait of a woman (me) who seems to take nothing seriously and we get things to laugh about.

I don't really laugh at everything. On the contrary: I was so upset at seeing all the tiny babies' graves (stupid yellow fever!) that my eyes began to water. Some people think that all I do is find ways to joke about things. Maybe that's true. But given a choice between laughter and tears, I'll take laughter any day.

Okay, so the first one is rather disappointing.
I thought this was just pretty.

Not so much with the funny.


This may be the world's largest crepe myrtle tree. Did I ever tell you why I hate crepe myrtle trees? First, because you cannot climb them. That puts them in the Not a Tree category. But also because they remind me of my hometown, Conyers, Ga. It claims to be the "Crepe Myrtle Capital of the World." That because I planted them all while I was in Campfire Girls & Boys. Every time something happened - someone died, a library branch opened, Arbor Day came around, or we passed a blade of grass - my mom, who was our troupe leader, would run over to Pike Nurseries and pick up a friggin' tree. Out came the shovel and I knew I was digging a hole somewhere. I wonder if some little girl in Augusta's Girl Scout troupes had an experience like that, and perhaps that little girl has a blinding hatred of gardening, too.

"A one-room efficiency," Henry Wynn Sr. joked. He was showing us his favorite spots in the cemetery. It seems he used to bring his two kids to the cemetery for picnics and Easter Egg hunting. I think that's what's wrong with them today!


We looked at the epitaph on this headstone.
"That's kind of weird," A.C. remarked.
"And it's missing a comma," I said.

Someone liked corn so much in their life that they wanted to be surrounded by it in their death.

Our guide, Henry Wynn, Sr. He used to muck around in the fill dirt that they kept against the wall. Sometimes he found bones and once, a coffin handle. He kept creeping me out by examining the ground for more crap like that. "You never know! Sometimes you might just see a toe peeking out of the ground," he said. "And then I would run screaming out of this cemetery," I replied.

Okay, then, we hold the world ransom for... One... Hundred... BILLION DOLLARS!

Heh heh. Bones... This must be their yard.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Talk about tears...

AUGUSTA, GA. - "You guys, what does Blood Sweat & Tears even sing?" I ask.
"Spinning Wheeeeel!" A.W. shrieks. "That's all I know."
I've never heard it. So I get to googling.
"Oh my god is this it?" I turn up my speakers. A.C. makes a confused face at the repeated trumpet blasts.
A.W.: "I don't think so..."
"You make meeee soooo very happyyyyyyyyyyyyy," the voice sings.
"Oh. Yeah. That's them." A.W. says.
We listen for a while.
"Man, this is lame!" I exclaim, and they laugh. I click on a slightly more poetic song title, "Sometimes in Winter."
The lameness continues. Doo-doo-doooooooooooo the trumpets blare.
"Laughing slightly you would run... Trees alone would shield us in the meadow," the voice sings.
We burst out laughing.
"Trees alone would shield us in the meadow?" I laugh. Visions of the 70s Diet Coke commercials dancing in my head. "What were they smoking?"
"I can't tell you," A.W. laughs. "But I bet there was a lot of it."
T.G.: "Hey. You guys are making fun of my favorite childhood band."
Me: "Really?"
T.G.: "No."
Me: "Thank god."
T.G.: "But I probably did have a Blood, Sweat & Tears album."
Me: "Why?"
T.G.: "It was the 70s!"
Me: "So? I grew up in the 80s but I never had an Air Supply album!"
A.W.: "Yes, you did!"
A.C.: "Busted!"
Me (laughing... did I have one?): "No! I also never had a - hey, who sang 'Sailing?'"
A.W.: "Kris Kristopherson."
Me: "I never had that, either."
But it sounds like A.W. did.

A.W. just read my blog and corrected my memory: "Actually, it was Kristopher Kross, not Kris Kristopherson."
"You're just making it worse for yourself," I said.
"Yeah, I know."

Stupid Headline of the Day

Monday, April 14, 2008 By No comments

Study: Boomers to Flood Medical System

Gee, what'd they have to do to figure that out? Add?

I Hear the Secrets That You Keep... When You're Talking in Your Sleep

"Good lord!" Scott says loudly, shocking me out of a dead sleep. I glance at the clock. It's 4:15 a.m. on a Sunday.
"What?!" I exclaim, alarmed.
"I... (sigh)," his eyes are closed. Is he still asleep?
"What?!" I demand, impatiently. He'd better not say "nothing."
"Nothing." he heaves, punching his pillow back into place.
"Really? 'Cause you woke me up so you better tell me," I warn, thoroughly irritated.
"Look, you have to understand," he pauses for about 15 seconds. I consider smacking him in the arm. "Under the covers, there is a news story..." he pauses again.
Is he trying to get all sexy with me? Because at this point I will punch him in the nuts.
"What are you talking about?" I demand.
He opens his eyes and glares at me.
"What?" I ask.
"What are you doing?" he asks. He glances at the clock. "It is 4:18 in the morning."
I stare at him: "Are you serious?"
"What do you want?" he demands. "I was asleep!"
"Wha-?! Are you- I- Gah!" I flop over with my back to him and glare at the alarm clock. 4:19 a.m... on what may very well be the last day of my husband's life.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

What? A Member of the National Press with a Sense of Humor?

AUGUSTA, GA. - Jim Litke is a sports columnist for the Associated Press. Despite his status as a member of the ain't-from-'round-these-parts population (which I, having lived in Augusta almost 10 years, was accused of just yesterday by a Richmond County Sheriff's Deputy), Litke has great perspective on the Masters Tournament... and a sense of humor to boot. He wrote a great column about stuffing the suggestion boxes at the tournament. Read it here.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Lo, in the West, it is The Bearded One

AUGUSTA, GA. - A.W. gasps.
"What?" I ask.
"George Michael is playing Atlanta," she says.
"Ooh, I think my friend Penny and I should go," I say.
"If you go, I wanna go!" she says.
"Cool! Let's get passes!"

Inside, I was dying. How can I tell A.W. that I don't really want to go see George Michael the same way she wants? I don't have some hipster irony at work here.

Without revealing too many unfortunate things about my psyche, I really like "Father Figure." And "Faith." And... Okay, not to much "Wake Me Up (before you go go)," but that's okay.

Look! He's wearing a COSBY SWEATER!

Because it was before G.M.'s solo career. Wham! really was just, like, his Campbell's soup commercial before the big film debut, you know? Anyway. I really, really like "Freedom."

In fact, I saw Georgia Michael once before in Atlanta, at the old Atlanta Stadium before it was blown up. We had seats up in the nosebleeds, and George Michael was this big. It was tragic for a 13-year-old. But I still bought a T-shirt.

And while I wouldn't buy a T-shirt at this show - unless, you know, it was a REALLY COOL T-shirt, I would still sing along with the lyrics. At least, the ones I can remember.

Walking the course

AUGUSTA, GA. - Everything seems uphill at the Masters. It’s almost as if the area was built by magic where it would most inconvenience both guests and residents.

Walking uphill from my editor’s house in National Hills to the tournament gates, a memory comes back.

“Hey, in my hometown, that guy would have given us a ride on his hood,” I point out a burgundy early 80s model Monte Carlo passing us on the road.

“What?” A.C. asks, incredulous.

“You know. You’re walking up a hill, and someone drives up and says, ‘Hop on!’ And they take you to the top of the hill and then you hop off,” I answer. “Is that weird?”

“Uh, yeah…” she says.

Rock CHOKE!

Me, in e-mail to bosses: You guys should pitch a marketing plan to one of the car dealerships that’s called “Carmageddon.” I think that would be awesome.

A.C., via Blackberry: Okaaayy....

Me: I'm just working my creative energy for you. My AWARD-WINING creative energy.

A.C.: And I love you for all of your AWARD WINNING creative energy. Speaking of Award Winning and energy. Hows about given me some “Okay, so Kansas kids do know how to play some ball." Boo-yah. ROCK CHALK!

Me: Yes. I bow to your superior knowledge of playing with balls.

Masters Tournament Mishap

AUGUSTA, GA. - I wasn't all speedy-like with the camera, so I didn't get the fashion faux pas on film, but let's just say that the following combination, on men, are hereby banned from the course (we'll add more as they come in):
  • Pink Izod golf shirts and blue-and-white striped seersuckers pants
  • Navy blue Gilligan hat and giant white sunglasses
  • Unless you are actually a previous winner of the tournament, you may not wear a green blazer onto the course. It makes you look like a stalker. It's like you're the guy at a concert wearing the t-shirt for the band that's playing. Just... no.
  • What did work, although we hated to admit it: a pink and white floral strapless sundress and white and tan saddle-shoe style golf cleats. "Good god," A.C. said as we passed the tan young bottle blond who made the combo look both comfortable AND classy. "Yeah. But she looks cute, I don't care what anybody says," I answered. "Yeah... but she's trying too hard." Well, whatever. She's succeeding. And we hate her for it.

Another Pit Bull

AUGUSTA, GA. - "Why are you so smiley, M.F.?" A.W. asks as he trots into the office.

"I think I just confronted the CEO of Exxon-Mobile about the high price of gasoline," M.F. gloats.

"Wow, really? How do you know it was him?" she asks. "Was he lighting his cigar with hundred dollar bills?"

Shaun Piazza Band Movin' on up

AUGUSTA, GA. - Someone from FOX watched the Shaun Piazza Band show at the Soul Bar Wednesday night. The network may use one of Piazza's songs for their network. It's about time somebody noticed the band.

"What are you still doing here, man?" the exec asked Piazza. "I bet you manage a restaurant."
"Shut up!" Piazza replied.

He manages Nacho Mamas.

Now He's Just Picking a Fight

AUGUSTA, GA. - Frankly, the Tim McDonald at WorldGolf.com stuff didn't bother me that much. Of course McDonald was offended. No one likes to have their mistakes pointed out to them in a public forum. But Scott... well, he just can't let things go. He's like a pit bull. He locks his jaws until he either overpowers his opponent or they just give up. I told him to cease fire, but Scott e-mailed McDonald back, trying to pacify him and offering to show him around the next time he was in town.

"Honestly dude, we can laugh about this... it is no big deal. You made a mistake and learned a lesson we all learn in the business," Scott wrote.

"Uh, honey, he's not going to take that as well as you'd like," I warned him skeptically.
"Why not? It's no big deal!" he said, and clicked send. Oh, god.

McDonald didn't take it well: "I'll tell you what's funny -- a "booster" from a podunk, small-time station, married to a phony con artist from a two-bit rag telling me about journalism lessons."

Scott explained to him that he doesn't work for a podunk, small-time station, that in fact WGAC has won Station of the Year for the last six years in the state of Georgia. And then he laughed at me: "But you do work for a two-bit rag." Ha ha, Scott.

Scott called me this morning to tell me that they're now exchanging curse words via e-mail. 'Tards. Soon they'll be IM'ing all their friend to let them know not to talk to the other at the spring formal.

"Honey, why are you engaging him?!" I exclaim.
"Because he's wrong!"
"So? Let it go!"
"Well, he shouldn't have attacked you."
"I can take it," I laughed. Ooooh. E-mail words. Big friggin' deal.
"I know you can," he said. "But you know how I am."

Yes. I do know. Despite three years of badgering, he has never once wavered from tossing his boxers in the middle of the hall floor. My husband could survive torture techniques that haven't even been invented yet. John McCain's got nothing on him.

So, undeterred, Scott responded again. "Tell your story to the Associated Press when I am accepting my award this year which I won by practicing what we call JOURNALISM." (Note: but obviously not for his use of good grammar.)

(sigh)

"Look, he did get it wrong," A.C. soothed me as I wrung my hands and gnashed my teeth.
"I know."
"And you can't control what your husband does."
"Yes, I can. I can tighten the leash."
"No, you can't. You know how he is."

Yes. I know.

A Little off the Subject... but ICK

AUGUSTA, GA. - A new MTV reality TV show, entitled "Rock The Cradle," is centered around a competition that will pit the children of eight famous musicians against one another for a chance at stardom. In addition to Lara, the show will feature:

* Jesse Money, daughter of Eddie Money (a plastic surgery addict, judging by her photos)

* Jesse “Blaze” Snider, son of Dee Snider of Twisted Sister (might actually be interesting)

* A’keiba Burrell-Hammer, M.C. Hammer’s daughter (definitely will be interesting)

* Landon Brown, son of Bobby Brown (train wreck!)

* Lil Al B Sure, R&B singer Al B Sure’s son (uh... hmm...)

* Crosby Loggins, Kenny Loggin’s son (Crosby? Can we guess Loggins' influences?)

* Chloe Rose Lattanzi, Olivia Newton John’s daughter (pretty name, probably a pretty voice like her mother's)

* Lucy Walsh, daughter of the Eagles‘ Joe Walsh (definitely will be interesting)

* Lara Johnston, daughter of the Doobie Brothers' Tim Johnston (hmm... oh, wait. I fell asleep there for a second)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

New Toll Road in Augusta



Video by Murfee Faulk.

MMM. Hungry.

Of course, my husband had to weigh in to Tim McDonald's response

Tim,

I do not think you intentionally misrepresented our city, and your column certainly did not have the tone of others that have appalled me. However, we in Augusta do have a problem with the national media not bothering to check one fact about our city before going to print. You listed phone numbers for restaurants that do not exist!

Had you simply accessed the Chronicle, Metro Spirit, or WGAC.COM you would have learned the removal of those statues and millions of dollars lost by the GGHF were a major scandal here. As I told your editor, each year the national media makes themselves look like nimwits in reporting on our city. Sorry, but it was you that got caught this year. In the past, our local media has simply said 'oh well.' Not anymore, you might let your colleagues in the national press know that Augusta is not the asphalt laden strip club hill billy town that once a year hosts a tournament. When you report on our city, take the time and get your facts straight. I do not think that is too much to ask.

Scott Hudson
WGAC News

[Dude! Talk about a "homer!"]

I'm not the only one writing about you, dude.

AUGUSTA, GA. -
From:
Tim McDonald [mailto:tim@worldgolf.com]
Sent: Thursday, April 10, 2008 1:42 PM
To: Stacey Hudson
Subject: Re: Story on Augusta

Feeling pretty good about yourself, aren't you? [Nope. Sent along the link to the story because it wouldn't have been fair for him to find it when he randomly googled himself.]

I wonder why the snide tone in your column wasn't there when you were talking to me. You sounded like you wanted to be my best friend. [I'm just friendly like that] Could you be a bigger phony? [Yeah. I could make up shit for WorldGolf.com] I've had to do this sort of thing occasionally and never once did I suck up to the person who made the mistakes. [Since when does polite equal sucking up?]

Mistakes are often made in daily journalism. It happens. [Yes. It does. But you said this column was written a week ago, and it didn't post until today. How 'daily' is that?] Usually when this happens, people who catch them pick up the phone or e-mail and point them out. We change them. [Please do. But three hours later, the wrong version is still up.]

You people in Augusta must be unusually touchy, preferring the ambush technique. [Meh. Perhaps. It's also possible that we people in Augusta don't like lazy people who lie.]

Did you ever think about just being honest with me and upfront about why you were calling? Pointing out these mistakes so they could be corrected? [Yes. I pointed them all out to you... all dozen or so. Your response was - and I quote - "bummer."]

I guess not. You wanted fodder for your silly column, which was by the way about as "homer" as you can get (If you're a journalist you know the term). ["homer": a term used to describe someone who is so biased for the home that he can't see the other side. Used almost exclusively by sports journalists. Does it apply here? Maybe... if by "home team" he means "correct" and if by "other side" he means "incorrect."]

Well, you got it. For the 10 or 20 people who must read it. Thanks. [Actually, our online circulation is about 15,000 a week. But I guess that must pale in comparison to "world" golf.]

Masters Tournament Coverage

AUGUSTA, GA. - I e-mailed my husband, Scott, the story I wrote on Msnbc.com screwing up their "guide" to Augusta. He called me quickly: "Please give me that idiot's information," he begged. When it comes to objectivity, journalists rarely reserve it for their own kind when the target has so egregiously ignored the basic rules of journalism.

"It just seems like every year the national press puts out something on Augusta and it’s wholly inaccurate," Scott said.

He spoke with Tim McDonald's editor, Mark Nessmith. Nessmith didn't care to comment before talking to McDonald. One imagines they'd have discussed the story briefly before it was posted to their site and picked up through their partnership with the Msnbc.com people.

"When was the last time he was in Augusta?" Scott asked. Nessmith was unsure.

"But, he’s a journalist, right?" Scott persisted. Yes, the editor ventured carefully.

"We kind of do this little thing called check facts. Does he do that?" Scott nitpicked. Nessmith asked what the inconsistencies in his story were. When Scott described them, he still refused to comment.

He said he'd call Scott back after a conversation with McDonald, but I wouldn't count on it. Neither is Scott.

"I'm still going to put out a story," Scott said. "[His actions] make y'all look like nitwits."

Listen to News/Talk 580 WGAC this afternoon for his take on the situation.

MSNBC swings and misses on Masters recommendations

AUGUSTA, GA. - MSNBC recommended this week that visitors to the Masters Tournament enjoy the life-size bronze statues at the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame’s Botanical Gardens.

Oops.

If WorldGolf.com contributor Tim McDonald had actually been in town on Monday for the Mayor’s Masters Reception, he’d have known that the board of the gardens removed the statues months ago, “for safekeeping,” to an undisclosed warehouse location.

“Well, why’d they do that?!” McDonald exclaimed in a phone interview, obviously surprised. McDonald was equally surprised to learn that three of his restaurant choices publicized on MSNBC — Chow, D. Timm’s Jazz Café and Café du Teau, have all been closed for years. If McDonald, WorldGolf.com or MSNBC had even called the numbers he listed in the story on April 10, he might have known that.

As we learned, when WorldGolf.com’s McDonald researches a story, it’s likely he doesn’t even pick up the phone, much less his feet. That’s because his recent “guide” to Augusta for Masters Tournament visitors was so woefully outdated as to be laughable.

Rush Limbaugh has it all wrong. The “drive-by” media is no more. These days, beware the “click-through” media.

McDonald said that he wrote the story last week from personal experiences that he’d enjoyed while last covering the Masters Tournament.

“It was several years ago, I can’t remember the exact date,” he said. “Then I was in Augusta, itself — was it last year I was in Augusta? I spent about a week there.”

While here he said he played all the courses he mentioned, plus five or six more, except for the Augusta National, of course. He also claims to have eaten at most of the restaurants mentioned.

From his home in northern Florida, near Tallahassee, he said, “I did have a martini at the French Market Grille.”

Perhaps.

It’s more likely that McDonald just googled terms like “Augusta, Ga. nightlife” before slapping together a shambles of a story on what there is to do in Augusta besides go to the tournament. Because had he taken a moment to fact-check, he’d have found out quickly that a number of the places he mentioned were closed.

McDonald boasts the title National Golf Editor, but even he answers to others.

“I turn it in to the editor,” he said.

The editor, however, isn’t in the office. “He’s overseas,” the office said when I called. McDonald shed more light on the situation.

“We’re a global organization. We all telecommute. The managing editor is in Prague,” he said. It must make it difficult for the organization to have a fact-checker in Prague. International calling must be fairly expensive, running up World Golf’s editorial costs.

“It is,” McDonald said.

So that puts it back on the writer to get their facts straight the first time. And did he actually call the places he listed?

“No, I did not,” McDonald said.

Obviously.

For shopping, he ignores the upscale Surrey Center, which boasts such adorable boutiques as Village, Soho and Swank, for such out-of-the-way places as The Boardroom and mall stores like Macy’s. He does a good job tossing in Summerville Rags in the revitalizing Central Ave. district, but then inexplicably lists Tuscany Spa.

He should have mentioned our galleries, like Pastel on Central, Gallery on the Row, Art on Broad and Broadstrokes Gallery. He could have tossed in our hip indie stores, like Midtown Threds, Blue Magnolia and Vintage 965. But he didn’t, because he doesn’t know a darn thing he’s talking about.

For massage? He recommends the members-only Health Central Wellness Center. He also mentions Tuscany (again), but leaves out Hand Over Stress, Serenity Day Spa and Rainforest Retreat.

He does get it right in just two instances in dining when he lists Bistro 491 and La Maison. For best martini, he lists French Market Grill. Now, we can think of no reason to denigrate the fine cuisine of the Creole/Cajun eatery. But they’re not known for martinis. The Bee’s Knees, on the other hand, has some fabulous martinis. Try the sake-tini with pomegranate. We realize at that point that it’s not actually a “martini,” but darned if it isn’t one of the best drinks you could ever put in your mouth.

He also leaves out favorite restaurants like Takosushi and the newly opened Broad Street Market. He ignores the fine dining in downtown Aiken, like cuiZine, Amanda’s, Malia’s and Linda’s Bistro. He shuns the famous Sconyers Barbecue, the quirky Old McDonald’s Fish Camp, the funky New Moon Café and the never-wrong Nacho Mama’s.

This man has obviously never eaten anywhere in Augusta that his guidebook doesn’t mention — or perhaps his taste buds were injured in a tragic coffee-tasting accident. Whatever the reason for his ignorance, no one with half a tongue should take his dining advice.

When it comes to attractions, the only thing he gets all right is in recommending the Morris Museum, the Augusta Canal National Heritage Area, the Ezekiel Harris House Museum and the boyhood home of Woodrow Wilson. But had he taken a few more minutes to call around, he’d have been able to recommend to the readers that they purchase a Gallery Pass at the Augusta Museum of History, which gets them into all of these sites at half-off. And he should have mentioned the Augusta Canal’s music cruises. There’s not a more relaxing and beautiful experience to be had in town.

For celebrity-spotting, we actually like McDonald’s suggestion of Robbie’s Sports Bar for guys like John Daly — and favorite local characters like Blaine Prescott. But for a real look at some celebrities, check out the Soul Bar, Luigi’s and (haha) the James Brown statue.

In the future, perhaps McDonald could make the trek to Augusta to find out the real information that people want. He thinks he might be covering the Masters next year. Maybe then he can update his information. Barring that, he could pick up the phone and make sure the places he lists are open.

Masters Tournament Coverage

So we're chatting with Steven Uhles from the Augusta Chronicle while waiting to interview Colbie Caillat and Josh Kelley before the Drive Fore! Show Rock Fore! Dough concert.

"Are you covering the tournament?" T.G. asks.
"Yeah, I'm mainly in the clubhouse," Uhles answers.
"What are you doing in the clubhouse?" T.G. asks.
"Celeb spotting!" I chime in, because besides drinking and avoiding the weather, there's really no reason to hang out there.
"Yeah, basically," he says. "I've already had a Tiger spotting."
"Oh, yeah?" T.G. asks. "What happened?"
"Nothing. He just walked into the clubhouse," Uhles said.
"Oh."
"He was very focused. There were people shoving cameras in his face and he just marched straight through the crowd. Totally focused," Uhles said. "Maybe he was late."
"Maybe he had to pee," I joked.
"Maybe. I know I'm focused when I have to pee."

Masters Tournament Traffic Report

Dateline: 8:30 a.m.

AUGUSTA, GA. - Fog delays the start of the tournament by an hour or so, which means that there's no real traffic delays. It's seven minutes down Washington Road to the tournament parking, which is about how long it takes to drive that leg on a normal day.

But on Furys Ferry Road: DRAMA.

A pickup truck pulling a trailer of pine straw bales lost some of its cargo. Two guys pull their truck into the former Loco's at the corner of Baston and Furys Ferry. A Columbia County Sheriff's Deputy blocks off traffic and the two lug one pine straw bale apiece across four lanes of traffic and a median until they get them all back in their truck.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Help! I've Lost Grey's Anatomy!

Yeah, that's the best headline I could come up with. Sorry.

It's time for poll results, and please note the new poll posted to the right of this page:

Which show are you most looking forward to returning, now that the writer's strike is over?
  • It's a tie between Lost and Grey's Anatomy, which each received 30 percent of the vote. Really? Whiny old Meredith rates as high as a shirtless Sawyer? I'm sorry, but you folks have to get your priorities straight.
  • A three-way tie for second place rounds out my complete inability to do math with 23 percent apiece: Desperate Housewives, Women's Murder Club and Law & Order (any of them).
  • In last place, another three-way tie: Friday Night Lights, Samantha Who? and Ugly Betty, all with not even one pity vote amongst them.

Interview with Colbie Caillat at the Masters Tournament



AUGUSTA, GA - Colbie Caillat seems more like your sister than a singing sensation. The sunny, down-to-earth demeanor reflected in her music shines through the phone line across the Atlantic.

For Caillat, she says hasn’t really experienced the “celebrity” aspect of musicianship, and fame is still relatively new to her.

“I’m not used to it, for the most part.” And, like any true artist, she is dedicated to her craft and doesn’t concern herself with the spotlight. “I’m always touring.”

Caillat and her band have just wrapped up a tour of Asia — Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines — and Europe.

“I’m still new over here,” she said of the European audiences. “So the audiences have been small; [I play] bigger shows back home. But [in Asia] the fans were singing along with all of the songs.”

Caillat is one of the artists that has chosen the Internet route in getting her music heard by the masses and that has certainly proven successful.

“A friend put my song on MySpace,” Caillat said from her hotel in Copenhagen, Denmark, where she was braving the cold. And “within six or seven months,” she had become the No. 1 unsigned artist on the site. All due to, for those who don’t know, her hit “Bubbly.”

Not too bad for someone from Southern Cali, whose father, Ken Caillat, co-produced one of the greatest albums of all time: Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumors.”

He also acted as producer on Caillat’s debut album “Coco,” the title coming from her childhood nickname.

He gave her a good piece of advice: “He was the one who encouraged me to become a songwriter rather than just a singer.”

Singer-songwriters often garner more credibility and have more prolonged careers than the usual pop star du jour making headlines.

When on tour, in her downtime, Caillat hangs out with the guys in her band, musician friends of hers from LA, and manages to squeeze in some sightseeing. But she’s also caught a few shows, including Coldplay, Amy Winehouse and John Mayer. “He’s been the best so far,” she says. “He was amazing.”

Caillat didn’t take to performing naturally and, despite extensive touring, performing live has been the most difficult obstacle for her to overcome. “I’m getting over that fear,” she said.
She enjoys recording in the studio, though, and uses GarageBand to write her music. And these days she’s been listening to everything from Sean Kingston to Jack Johnson.

When she’s at home in LA, you can find her hanging out with her family, friends and her three dogs, doing what comes naturally to Southern Californians: barbecues, lounging by the pool and going to the beach. But she only had a few days off after returning from Europe before she hit the road for a college tour, which includes Augusta.

While Rock Fore! Dough may mark her first trip to Augusta, Caillat had been through the South before, making some “real quick stops.”

“I like the South a lot,” she said. “I like the warm weather, people are so sweet and the accents are the cutest.”

She also knew of Augusta’s golfing Mecca status: her father and her manager are both golfers.

Caillat herself doesn’t hit the links, but she does do some photography and perhaps would like to something with that in the future. She also has taken an interest in the merchandise end of the biz. “I like picking out the merch and having a say about what you sell.”

After she takes the stage at First Tee, you can guarantee that concertgoers will snap up every T-shirt laid out on the table, considering her popularity.

Other projects she has include a duet with Jason Mraz, “Lucky,” that will be featured on his upcoming album, “We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things.”

“[Mraz] e-mailed me in the fall and said he liked my music and he’d like to collaborate with me.” They both ended up in London and she recorded with him. “I’m really excited about it,” she said.

You can bet her fans will be excited, too.

Interview with Josh Kelley at the Masters Tournament



AUGUSTA, GA. — Metro Spirit just got done interviewing Augusta native Josh Kelley, who will play the Drive Fore! Show Rock Fore! Dough concert tonight, before Colbie Callait and Hootie & the Blowfish takes the stage.

We got the feeling that Kelley didn’t even our camera or microphone there to get him talking. In fact, later tonight, you will probably find him conversing with a brick wall. He was visibly excited to be at the show, revved up after playing nine holes with some of the kids at First Tee of Augusta (Kelley attended the University of Mississippi on a golf scholarship) and excited about his life, in general.

Kelley’s new album, “Special Company,” has exceeded his new company’s expectations, he said, especially since it’s his first release from Modern Day, his own company, which is probably a very special… company… okay, moving on.

In its seventh week, it currently sits at No. 46 on the Billboard charts, but it has been as high as No. 7. We blame Mariah Carey’s new release for its drop in popularity after the release of just one single, “Two Cups of Coffee.” Perhaps it will rise again when he releases his second single from the album, “My Kind,” in the coming weeks.

Kelley is a strong, smart musician, but he also calls himself “a businessman; I like doing business.” The company has set new, loftier goals for itself, and hopes to reach them before the end of this year.

His new bride, Katherine Heigl, did not make the trip to his hometown with him. She’s currently filming “Grey’s Anatomy” and another film. If imdb.com is any help, it’s a film called “The Ugly Truth, a rom-com about a relationship-challenged television producer and her chauvinistic correspondent. It also stars Gerard Butler, of “300” fame, and Cheryl Hines, best known for her role on “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

But Augustans may yet get the chance to rub elbows in Surrey Center with Hollywood. Kelley says his plans are to return to Augusta three times a year. Surely “the missus” will make the trip once or twice.

Kelley gave us an inside look at his upcoming music, an as-yet-unnamed album for which he’s already written all of the music — the best he’s ever written, he said.

At the Clubhouse at the Augusta National, during the Masters Tournament

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AUGUSTA, GA. - Kelley New, of Kelley New Interiors in Augusta, Ga., tells us: In 1983, I was living in Augusta for a short time. I had a close friend that worked deliveries for Leonard’s Florist, and he happened to mention that he delivered flowers to the clubhouse at the Masters.

I couldn’t believe I knew someone that had even been in the clubhouse. I asked if there was a possibility that I could go with him on a delivery, just to see the clubhouse. He said all the deliveries had been made.

I guess he saw how disappointed I was and said, “Oh, hell.” He grabbed a vase and threw some flowers in it. “Come on. I’ll show you the Masters clubhouse.”

The guard waved us in because he recognized my friend’s old ratty VW bus. We parked at the front, passed the security and the lady at the desk said, “More flowers, huh? Just put them wherever you think is best.”

We sat the flowers down somewhere randomly and he said, “Let’s go out under the big oak tree.”

It’s so elegant out there under the tree with the white tablecloths. And, of course, you can’t pay for anything when you’re under that area. That’s strictly for club members.

A man came and asked what we would like to drink, so we ordered two mint juleps. By now I am telling my friend that we need to get the hell out of here before we get locked up. But he said, “No. They wouldn’t dare say anything to us now that we’ve gotten this far.”

They enjoyed a second drink, decided that was enough adventure for one day and left. Wonderful memories, for sure.

Monkeying around at the Masters Tournament



AUGUSTA, GA. - Scott Hudson, reporter with WGAC, tells this story: "In 1992 I was working for Oldies 93.9 and our mascot was this giant inflatable gorilla. Some idiot had the bright idea to inflate the gorilla on the roof of the jewelry shop in National Hills.

"So I am up on the roof trying to get the thing tied down when a gust of wind came along and snapped one of the lines. The gorilla went airborne and took me with it.

"Luckily, a cross wind knocked it in the opposite direction and I landed back on the roof. So our Masters guests nearly had the opportunity to see me ride a giant gorilla down Washington Road."

If you have memorable stories or pictures about this year's Masters, or about Masters' past, send them to spirit@metrospirit.com.

Gary Player at the Masters Tournament - 51 years of competition this year


AUGUSTA, GA. - John McGowen, a Bellsouth retiree from Conyers, Ga., said that in the mid-80s he visited the tournament on a number of occasions. The most memorable thing that happened was a lesson he learned from watching one of the best golfers at the time, Gary Player.

"There was a time when Nicklaus, Palmer and Player were the best there was," he said. "They were the ones to beat."

On one side of the clubhouse is a practice green. It mimics the greens of tournament play. McGowen watched Gary Player putt around the green for more than an hour.
"I was like, 'What is he doing?'" he said.

As it turns out, there's more to the short game than stance and swing. Speed of the green is always a variable factor. Golf courses are typically watered in the evening, which means they're slower in the morning, and faster in the afternoon. How the grass is cut makes a difference: putting with the grain means a faster ball, and putting against slows it down. The length of grass affects the speed, too: the shorter it is, the faster it moves. If the grass is wet, it will move more slowly. If the growth is tight, as opposed to sparse, it will move faster.

These variable are what Player was testing, from every angle, while he practiced. He moved methodically in a circle around the hole, trying the green out. It allowed him to gauge the speed of the green as well as to adjust his own stroke and stance to allow for variables in his body. Maybe his back ached. Maybe his shoulders were tired. All of these factors mean that the best golfers make minute adjustments to their method of play - not just every tournament, but every day... and sometimes, as is the case with the volatile spring weather that stalks every Masters tournament, on every hole.

Player was taking no chances. He tested the course like a technician. If 50 percent of the game is putting, Player was halfway to a better finish with just this hour of experimentation - and thus halfway to a bigger payout.

"He was doing his job," I remarked.
McGowen nodded: "He was doing his job."

If you have memorable stories or pictures about this year's Masters, or about Masters' past, send them to spirit@metrospirit.com.

Jim Belushi's got soul - at the Masters Tournament



AUGUSTA, GA. - Courtney Prouty, an account executive at Mass Media Marketing in Augusta, Ga., said that she was one of the lucky few to be at the Soul Bar the Wednesday night of Masters Week 2003.

"Everyone was thrilled to be there; the bar had been closed down for several weeks because of fire damage, and this was the re-opening night."

Things got heated with actor/musician Jim Belushi arrived.

"He came in for a few drinks and even ended up getting onstage with the band to do a few numbers; afterwards, he hung out for a bit with a lady friend. He seemed personable; if you said 'hello' to him, he'd say 'hello' back," Prouty said.

Some rumors swirled around the community that Belushi was involved in a brief altercation with a heckler of some kind at the bar. Stories range from a brief verbal exchange to broken bottles and threats. Soul Bar co-owner Jayson Rubio denied it ever happened. But some people claim to have been eye-witnesses.

Inside sources - like the guy who was actually tending bar that night - said that a bar patron bought Jim Belushi a beer, but the actor said he'd had enough to drink. When he gave it to another patron, the buyer got angry. A verbal confrontation ensued. The source claims that was the extent of the incident.

Masters Tournament Betting Odds

Bet on it: The odds are in Tiger's favor, but that's no guarantee

AUGUSTA, GA. - Because golf is a betting sport, Jimmy Shapiro helped us by providing these odds for the 2008 Masters, courtesy of bodoglife.com.

Odds to win the Masters
Tiger Woods 1/1
Phil Mickleson 8/1
Ernie Els 22/1
Vijay Singh 22/1
Padraig Harrington 28/1
Retief Goosen 28/1
Geoff Ogilvy 33/1
Adam Scott 33/1
Jim Furyk 33/1
K.J. Choi 33/1
Sergio Garcia 40/1
Justin Rose 40/1
Luke Donald 40/1
Henrik Stenson 40/1
Zach Johnson 40/1
Rory Sabbatini 40/1
Stewart Cink 50/1
Stuart Appleby 66/1
Tim Clark 66/1
Paul Casey 80/1
Angel Cabrera 80/1
David Toms 80/1
Chris Dimarco 80/1
Charles Howell III 80/1
Davis Love III 100/1
Jose Maria Olazabal 100/1
Trevor Immelman 100/1
The Field 5/2

A summary of easily overlooked Masters happenings

AUGUSTA, GA. - Women’s Restroom, Augusta National, 1:50 p.m.

The woman sitting outside the ladies room with an employee badge says her job is simple. She is there to prevent drunken men from accidentally entering.

Every now and then, however, one gets through. The Standard Operating Procedure? Let them finished their business quietly and make sure they leave without embarrassment. They've paid too much money for a public shaming.

A secondary responsibility of the ladies room attendants is politely persuading women not to wash their shoes in the sink because it clogs them. "Women understandably want to look their best," said the attendant. "But it clogs up the pipes."

Corner of Eisenhower and Washington, 2:43 p.m.

Security was on full alert at the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry Tuesday.

You'd think the Masons would be too busy running the world to sell parking spaces at the Masters. But the sign on the front of the lodge says, "Hospitality Center."

It turned out to be quite an inhospitable place.

"Who are you?" asked an elderly man pulling security on a golf cart. He seemed a little on edge. He begrudgingly gave his name as "Joe."

Two attractive young women in their twenties left by the back door, from which a tall stack of what looked like ritual artifacts was visible.

When he saw my media badge, he became even more menacing. "Don't go anywhere near the building," he growled. "In fact, if you don't leave now, I'll have you removed."

Arby’s on Washington Road, 3:32 p.m.

A manger at the Arby's on National Road tells Metro Spirit she got an eyeful Monday when she noticed two elderly men stripping down to full nudity in the parking lot to change their clothes.

"The worst part, they were kind of men who made you lose your appetite," said the manager. Could be bad for the fast-food company's business.

She described them as both having gray hair and one with a pot belly. Most stripping during Masters week gets underway a little later. The Arby's incident occurred at about 10 a.m.

She added that Arby's is usually empty during Masters despite the crowded sidewalks outside. People would rather wait in line for hours at the French Market Grille.

Madison on the Green Apartment Complex, 4:24 p.m.

Like an illegal Iraqi checkpoint, four people were collecting tolls yesterday to cross the Madison on the Green property off Washington Road. Crossing the property allows drivers from National Hills to bypass Washington Road and get to Alexander Drive.

"You can go down this way to Alexander Drive for five bucks, or you can turn around for free and go back to Washington Road where the traffic is much worse," said the attendant. Three men with money aprons stood guarding the vaunted shortcut.

To bad she was dealing with a Metro Spirit reporter, Murfee Faulk, in his hot-rod Hyundai.

The motor revved, tires squealed and gravel flew. Hot-rod Hyundai sounded like a pig being slaughtered during an airplane during take-off.

The wide-eyed money changers scattered like cockroaches, cursing and trying to get the license plate number.

Jesus Loves Golf... No word if his balls walk on water hazards


AUGUSTA, GA. - Every year, the Master’s Golf Tournament attracts a wide variety of celebrities. This year marks the first appearance of the Golfing Jesus Doll™. The seven-foot version, a creation of Lana Long, known as the Jesus Doll Lady, has exchanged the regal white robe for the Master’s green one and holds a golf club. One press on the heart and the song “Jesus Loves Me” is heard.

Lana Long, originally from Denver, Colorado where she attended school, has made Augusta home since she was twelve. The inspiration for the Jesus Dolls came in 1983 when she was looking for a way to raise money to buy toys for abused and needy children. Today she owns 30 copyrights and produces multiple sizes of Jesus Dolls that she gives away and sells at thejesusdolls.net.

“What a perfect place for the Master,” Lana said. “Right here at the golf tournament.”

Her display is located at 2737 Washington Road, walking distance from the tournament gates, where they’ll be from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day of the tournament.

The Jesus Dolls Co., Inc., is dedicated to teaching everyone that they are loved by God and Jesus, regardless of their circumstances or lot in life. We share this message with the world by making handcrafted Jesus dolls and providing spiritual guidance for those in need. Lana was the originator of the Jesus doll and was the first to make it available for the public.