Thursday, November 20, 2003

Buddy Jewel

After my comment about Buddy Jewel in my CMA recap, I heard his newest release on the radio yesterday afternoon while driving home from work. It's called "Sweet Southern Comfort" and I loved it! I only heard the end and I still loved it. I think it has all the makings of a hit song, so I take back my comment about becoming a one-hit wonder.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003


Since I can't think of anything interesting to write about, here's a gratuitous photo of Hayley from our trip to Luray. This is one of my most favorite pictures of her to date.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Goal Accomplished

By finishing Judgment Calls by Alafair Burke last night, I accomplished one of my goals for this year, sort of a New Year's resolution I made. My goal was to read atleast 52 books in 2003, averaging out to a book a week. And I finished with seven weeks to spare! Here's the list of what I read, in alphabetical order by author. I didn't link to or comment on all of them. And one day I should write an entry about all of the series I read - you'll see some info about them here.

2003 Reading List
1. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott*
2. Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson*
3. Grizzly by Christine Andreae
4. Smoke Eaters by Christine Andreae
5. The Miss America Family by Julianna Baggott
6. Flashback by Nevada Barr - Part of the Anna Pigeon series that I absolutely love. Fuels my unfulfilled dream of becoming a park ranger.
7. Judgment Calls by Alafair Burke - First in a new series by the daughter of James Lee Burke.
8. Four Blondes by Candace Bushnell - I've previously written how much I hated this book.
9. Tell No One by Harlan Coben
10. Gone for Good by Harlan Coben
11. Every Dead Thing by John Connolly
12. Amanda Bright @ Home by Danielle Crittenden
13. Speaking in Tongues by Jeffrey Deaver - A non-Lincoln Rhyme novel that was pretty good.
14. The Bone Vault by Linda Fairstein - Another series I read, this one from the original "Law & Order: SVU." Linda Fairstein was the real head of this dept. for NYC. I often see her on NBC as a legal consultant for such topics as the Laci Peterson case.
15. Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason by Helen Fielding - I've previously written how much I loved this book! Anxiously awaiting the movie.
16. The Zygote Chronicles by Suzanne Finnamore
17. Swimming Sweet Arrow by Maureen Gibbon - Not in my usual genre and a little too offbeat for me.
18. The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman*
19. Cold Hunter's Moon by K.C. Greenlief - First in a series. A little quirky, but interesting.
20. The King of Torts by John Grisham
21. Motherhood and Hollywood by Patricia Heaton - cute collection of stories from the star of "Everybody Loves Raymond."
22. Beneath the Ashes by Sue Henry - Another series I read, and one of the few I've read out of order. Availability at the library is to blame for that.
23. Daisy Miller by Henry James*
24. Why I'm Like This by Cynthia Kaplan - a fabulous collection of short stories, ranging from summer camp to motherhood. I can't remember how I heard about this one, but I would definitely recommend it to others.
25. A Perfect Evil by Alex Kava
26. Purgatory Ridge by William Kent Krueger
27. Every Secret Thing by Laura Lippman - see previous entry
28. Ghost Riders by Sharyn McCrumb
29. The Nannie Diaries by Emma McLaughlin
30. Apocalipstick by Sue Margolis - Brit Chick lit with a great title!
31. Slow Dollar by Margaret Maron - most recent in the Deborah Knott series, a terrific series set in North Carolina. A family tree is provided at the front of each book to help keep track of Deborah's huge family.
32. Last Lessons of Summer by Margaret Maron - a stand-alone by Margaret Maron
33. Sphere of Influence by Kyle Mills
34. Angel Fire by Lisa Miscione
35. The Darkness Gathers by Lisa Miscione - the mistake-laden book (see previous entry)
36. Unfit to Practice by Perri O'Shaughnessy
37. Presumption of Death by Perri O'Shaughnessy - Another one of my favorite series. We almost went to Lake Tahoe on our honeymoon because of these books (but we chose Sedona, Arizona instead).
38. Suspicion of Madness by Barbara Parker - Yet another favorite series. Very sexy mysteries set in Miami.
39. Four Blind Mice by James Patterson - part of the Alex Cross series
40. The Beach House by James Patterson - wasn't as crazy about this stand-alone Patterson book. I think I could tell that he didn't really write it.
41. I Don't Know How She Does It by Allison Pearson - Quite frankly, I found this and The Nannie Diaries to have a depressing side. No more "Mommie Chick Lit" for me - I have enough to feel guilty about.
42. The Whole Truth by Nancy Pickard
43. Grave Secrets by Kathy Reichs
44. Bare Bones by Kathy Reichs - Still another favorite series. Grave Secrets I didn't like as much, but Bare Bones was back on track.
45. Blindsighted by Karin Slaughter
46. Birdbrained by Jessica Speart
47. Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe*
48. Dead Clever by Scarlett Thomas - Thoroughly enjoyed this mystery originally published in 1998 in the UK. Chick lit with a mystery twist. First in a series and I'm looking forward to the others.
49. The Appearance of Impropriety by Walter Walker*
50. Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner
51. In Her Shoes by Jennifer Weiner - I can't say enough how much I love Jennifer Weiner's books and her blog.
52. The Devil Riding by Valerie Wilson Wesley.

The books marked with a (*) are from my "Required Reading" list. I should probably write a whole entry about this, too, but the short version is that I have a book called What to Read that I use as a personal guide to read books I normally wouldn't read or should have read somewhere along the way. I'm embarrassed to admit that I cannot remember reading Little Women in its entirety as a girl. And I don't think I would have appreciated it as much as I do as an adult and a mother. I loved the following quote from Marmee:
"I want my daughters to be beautiful, accomplished, and good. To be admired, loved, and respected. To have a happy youth, to be well and wisely married, and to lead useful, pleasant lives, with as little care and sorrow to try them as God sees fit to send."

So I'm off to read book #53 (as soon as I leave work, of course). Keep checking the sidebar for my current title.

Monday, November 10, 2003

Happy Movies

It's amazing the little things that will make me happy. I ventured into the world of today based on a recommendation from my dad the shopaholic and went a little crazy buying cheap movies. I almost screamed, and did let out a little "Yeah!" when I found a VHS copy of Shag. I love this movie! We watched it atleast once a week in college and just about had the whole thing memorized. And now I have a copy of my very own! Don't ask me when I never bought it before now.

Then I found copies of North Shore, another high school/college favorite. For some reason, my sister and I were obsessed with this movie in high school. It ran repeatedly on cable and we even had a dubbed copy at one point. Back when I was on maternity leave, I was up with Hayley at 3am on a Saturday night/Sunday morning and North Shore was actually on. It was all I could do not to call my sister.

These cheap purchases just made my Monday a little brighter.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

CMA Recap

It seems that a lot of journalers like to recap the big award shows on their sites – Emmys, Grammys, MTV music and video awards, etc. I don’t think I’ve seen/read anyone who’s recapped the Country Music Association awards (CMAs), so I thought I would. I’ve been a die-hard country music fan since 1993 and a somewhat fan for years before that. The first real concert I ever saw was Alabama, Juice Newton, Johnny Lee and Mickey Gilley. This was during the Urban Cowboy craze and Alabama was the opening act, if you can imagine. We’ve all come a long way since then, so here’s my take on the 37th annual CMA awards.

The show opened with the first of many musical performances – Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffett singing “Five O’Clock Somewhere.” An upbeat way to start the show. The audience acted like it was a big surprise that Jimmy Buffett showed up, but the second microphone set up next to AJ was a giveaway.

Vince Gill came on as the host for the twelfth consecutive year. Has it really been that long? He made a bunch of jokes about his weight, which has fluctuated over the years, but I thought he looked pretty trim this year. It was, however, an unintended segue for introducing Wynonna to present the first award of the night.

Wy made some greeting/joke that was so flat she had to repeat it. I still didn’t get it the second time around. Let’s just announce the winner for Video of the Year. My pick was Brad Paisley’s “Celebrity,” a fun video, but Johnny Cash’s “Hurt” won instead. A legitimate pick, since CMT did actually play this video. Cash’s son and daughter accepted the award.

Then there were two back-to-back performances – Toby Keith with his new single, “I Love This Bar” and Brad Paisley singing “Celebrity,” introduced by Bachelorette Trista and William Shatner, both of whom were in the video. Leading up to the show, Keith was predicted to be the big winner of the night, since he has the most nominations and is long overdue for a big night.

The next award presented was for Vocal Event, which is always one of my favorites. I wanted Sheryl Crow and Kid Rock to win for “Picture,” but I thought Toby and Willie Nelson would win for “Beer for My Horses.” I was wrong on both counts – AJ and Jimmy Buffett won instead. Jimmy Buffett looks like the actor Peter Michael Goetz (father-in-law Mr. MacKenzie in Father of the Bride).

Then Martina McBride sang her new single, “In My Daughter’s Eyes.” I heard her sing this live back in August and was just blown away. As a new mother of a daughter, it brought tears to my eyes. She is also one of the best live performers I’ve ever heard and she didn’t disappoint.

Brooks & Dunn quickly followed with another performance, their latest single “You Can’t Take the Honky Tonk Out of the Girl.” Other than the title being too long, I have a love/hate feeling for this song. I think the chorus is great, very catchy. But the ABCB rhyme scheme of the verses just doesn’t work for me. At the end of their performance, Vince Gill brought out their award for Vocal Duo of the Year, which wasn’t going to be presented during the program. Why, I don’t know. Is it because they’ve won every year but one since 1992? Montgomery Gentry is the only legitimate competitor in an otherwise lame category. There’s been some talk that this category will be absorbed into a combined Duo/Group of the Year award in the near future.

A quick shot of Brad Paisley in the audience shows he is not with new wife Kimberly Williams. Could she not get from L.A. to Nashville for the show? It would have been nice to see them together.

Then the award for Single of the Year is presented, which goes to the artist. Johnny Cash wins again for “Hurt.” Artistic value aside, I don’t think this song should have won. I listen to five different country music stations in our region and not a single one of them has ever played this song, to the best of my knowledge. The same thing happened a few years ago with “Man of Constant Sorrow” from the move O Brother, Where Art Thou? The “major market” station in our area wouldn’t touch that song with a ten-foot pole, but after it won a few CMAs, they hypocritically played it all the time. They certainly did not contribute to any of the success it had achieved. It will be interesting to see if I hear “Hurt” on the radio this week. Toby Keith has now lost three awards already. Will he stay through the end of the show?

CBS is airing a lot of holiday commercials already. Does this just seem way too early or am I in complete denial that Christmas is less than two months away?

After the commercial break, Tim McGraw sings “Red Rag Top.” I don’t know why he chose this song from earlier in the year, especially since it was controversial when it was released since it alludes to the issue of abortion. An audience shot of Faith Hill at the end of his performance reveals Anthony Clark sitting in between Toby Keith and Faith. How did he luck out and get that prime seat?

Next award is Song of the Year, which goes to the songwriter instead of the artist. Another surprise winner, Randy Travis’ “Three Wooden Crosses.” Even though it was considered a gospel song, radio stations around here did play it a lot throughout the summer.

I’d like to know where they film the commercials for Walmart? Our Walmart is a SuperCenter and it doesn’t look anything like the stores featured in these commercials. Aisles and aisles of DVDs and video games? I think there’s one aisle for these products in our Walmart.

It’s now 9pm, so I’m going to have to switch back and forth between the awards and West Wing. Norah Jones and Dolly Parton came on to perform, so I’m not missing anything. I’ll admit I don’t know anything about Norah Jones, other than she’s the daughter of Ravi Shankar and I get her confused with Michelle Branch.

George Strait performs next, a new song. He is the reigning king of country music. I could listen to him sing the phone book. And the new song, “Honk if You Honky Tonk” is fun.

More back-to-back performances by Terri Clark, who I’ve always liked, and Rascal Flatts. I’m surprised the CMA showed their “controversial” video in the background while they performed. I don’t find any of the three of them particularly attractive and they all have strange hair-dos, especially for country music. And what’s with the ugly fringe shirt/vest the lead singer is wearing?

Finally, an award is presented, this one for Album of the Year. Joe Nichols is my long-shot favorite, but I’m just glad he was nominated. Johnny Cash wins again. I think Toby Keith is getting shafted by the sympathy vote. He probably would have won in the three categories Johnny Cash has taken, but I guess it’s just not meant to be for him this year.

Then Kenny Chesney sings his new single. Is he wearing the same pants as Tim McGraw? Followed by Patty Loveless – I’m glad she’s back and performing on the show. I’ve always like her, too.

The Male Vocalist award is presented next. I think everyone was surprised that Alan Jackson won again. He won 5 awards last year, including this one. He ranks right up there with George Strait and I have all of his albums, so I for one am not disappointed that he won over Toby Keith.

Vince Gill is making fun of his weight again. Had he really gotten that bad? I don’t recall what he looked like at last year’s show.

Now they’re cramming in all the Horizon Award nominees, along with some others. Joe Nichols, a new favorite of mine, although I thought he looked nervous while he was performing. Allison Krauss – I was never a big fan of hers for not particular reason, other than I think she’s really goofy. Blake Shelton, another Horizon Award nominee. This category is really between him and Joe Nichols, who have had the most commercial success in the past year.

Then Vince Gill introduces Shania Twain and makes a funny joke about bellybuttons and she performs her latest single in really ugly shoes/boots. We won’t even get into a discussion of Shania here, but I’ve never really cared for her and never will.

Another Horizon Award nominee, Gary Allen. I don’t like him either, so it’s back over to WW for a couple of minutes. I flip back – did I miss an award? It seems like they haven’t given one out in awhile. Vince is introducing this year’s Hall of Fame inductees, who were way before my time. Plus, Hayley is crying and I have to run upstairs and check on her.

Dierks Bentley takes the show into a commercial break and when they come back, the other two Horizon Award nominees, Darryl Worley and Buddy Jewel, perform. Darryl Worley looks like my brother-in-law, but would someone please tell him that the George-Michael-late-‘80s-two-day-growth beard is way over? Tell Kurt Warner, too, while you’re at it. And I was pleased to see Buddy Jewel get a nomination. I thought Nashville might think he was something of a joke since he’s the one who won the “Nashville Star” competition. But he does need to release another song or else he’s just a one-hit wonder waiting to happen.

Mike O’Malley and Anthony Clark from the CBS show “Yes, Dear” give out the award for Vocal Group of the Year. Why is Mike O’Malley wearing a beret? Is that his dress hat since he couldn’t wear a baseball hat to cover his bald head? Lonestar should have won in this category, considering the number of hits they had this year, but Rascal Flatts wins instead. I really don’t understand their success. Personally, I think they’re a mediocre group. But it was a nice touch that they wanted to “give” their award to Alabama, since this is their last year to be nominated before retiring.

Faith Hill looks very classy as she presents the award for Female Vocalist, which must also be awkward since she’s not nominated this year. But Martina McBride wins for the second year in a row and is very humble. She recognizes each of the other nominees, even goofy Allison Krauss. Then Vince Gill gets his turn to perform, bringing out his daughter to join him on background vocals.

The Horizon Award is presented and the winner is Joe Nichols! I’m so happy I actually let out a little cheer. But then there’s a technical mistake as they flash Blake Shelton’s name on the screen while Joe is giving his speech.

The Radio Stations of the Year for each market are briefly recognized. No one seems to mind that a station in Nashville wins every year for Large Market. Wouldn’t you think they have an unfair advantage?

It’s 10:45 and I’m starting to think this isn’t going to be over by 11pm. They finally do the big “Johnny Cash Tribute.” Why did they wait so late in the show to do this? I’m barely awake. It should have been planted right in the middle for all to see instead of squeezing it in at the end.

Entertainer of the Year is the last award, so maybe we are going to wrap things up by 11pm. George Jones comes out to present. Why they have given this job to him, I do not know. He’s not a smooth presenter and true to form, jumps right into announcing the winner. Was he supposed to read the names of the nominees first? But the winner is Alan Jackson! I think most people are shocked. I won’t argue as to whether or not he deserved this award this year. I love him! Oh, there’s a quick shot of Toby Keith in the audience. So he did stick around – good sport!

Vince Gill comes out to close the show and actually has to stretch it. I think George Jones was supposed to read the names of the nominees and now they’re a couple of minutes short. Not a very smooth ending to the night.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Book Review

It's been awhile since I've read a book that I couldn't put down. But I just finished Every Secret Thing by Laura Lippman and it was one of those books. What a great thriller! She does a fabulous job of unfolding two parallel stories - one from present day and one that took place seven years ago. I couldn't wait to find out what happened! As someone who more often than not can figure out whodunit, I was surprised by several revelations in this book.

Every Secret Thing is a stand-alone from Lippman's "Tess Monaghan" series, which I'm embarrassed to admit I have not read. But I'm getting ready to log onto the library catalog and reserve the first book in the series and get started right away. Why haven't I read these books? Especially since they take place in Baltimore. It was great to read about all the neighborhood references in Every Secret Thing. I'm jumping on the Laura Lippman bandwagon.

PS - Yes, I lied about posting the pictures from Halloween. First, I didn't log on at home because I was too busy reading. And second, I forgot what a huge mess the computer area is. We bought a new filing cabinet to put next to the computer to also serve as a table for the scanner and printer, but we encountered some space issues and temporarily gave up on doing anything. So I can barely get to the keyboard and the seat of the desk chair is stacked high with magazines that were on the old table. But it's on the to-do list for this weekend, so I'll try to get caught up.

PPS - The Internet filter at work won't let me view Is it getting hung up on "lipp" with two p's as an indicator of porn? Hmmm...

Monday, November 03, 2003

Halloween and the Rest of the Weekend

Halloween was a blast! I think I had more fun than Hayley did. She looked a little overwhelmed most of the time. But she looked adorable in her bumblebee costume. We went to my parents' neighborhood to trick-or-treat. That way, I could see my nieces and it's just easier to get around than in our neighborhood. My friend Wendy brought her daughter Meghan (the piggie on the left), who's two and a half, and we trick-or-treated for about an hour or so. Then I was exhausted from pulling the wagon around! Hayley hardly had to do anything at all. (Edited 11/8/03 to add photo.)

On Saturday, we just enjoyed the absolutely beatiful weather we have been having - 80 degrees in November! I wish it had been like this last year when I was on maternity leave. Instead, I think it rained every day last fall, then we had snow before Thanksgiving. I let Hayley crawl all around the yard and explore. She loved watching the leaves fall out of the sky. However, I didn't realize how wet the ground was and she was a bit muddy when we were done. Mark and I watched The Hunted with Tommy Lee Jones and Benicio Del Toro, which I thought was pretty awful. The story was very rushed and wholly unbelievable. Like we're supposed to believe Benicio Del Toro is from West Virginia? And every time he spoke, which wasn't often, it sounded like a struggle to disguise his accent. This was the first time we had rented a movie since the new TV season had started, so we're very behind in our movie watching.

On Sunday, we went to a birthday party for Mark's great-niece (I always say "Mark's" because I am definitely not old enough to have a great-niece), who was turning three. We stayed for a couple of hours and had a good time. It was actually pretty relaxing. Mark's one sister couldn't make it because they were moving this weekend - right into our neighborhood. We did have a 30-mile buffer zone from all relatives, but now Mark's sister, husband and two kids are about five minutes from us. I drive by their house every day on my way from picking up Hayley. We tried to stop in Saturday night when we went to rent the movie and pick up subs, but no one was there. They must have been inbetween loads. I'll have to try and stop by one day this week.

But I've saved the best news for last, if you've made it this far through this rambling post! As of yesterday evening, Hayley is officially walking!! She'd been getting closer and closer, and had been taking some steps with Mark and me coaching her. But last night, we were in the family room and I was sitting in the chair and she had pulled up on the TV tray next to me. Then she just walked away - about 6 or 7 steps. She did it all on her own! I was so excited, I started screaming. Mark wasn't home yet - he was on his way. She did it a few more times for the video camera and again when Mark got home. The look on her face was priceless - she's so proud of herself and all the accompanying cheering and clapping. And I can't tell you how happy I was that she did it at home instead of at daycare. One of my biggest fears since she was born and I haven't been able to find part-time work or a way to stay at home is that all of her firsts would happen and I wouldn't be around. This, of course, is second only to the monkey fear.
Morning Headline

I saw this headline on Yahoo! this morning when I logged in at work. This is my worst nightmare come true! I have a thing about monkeys.