Thursday, April 30, 2009

Isn't the Internetwebosphere a $#!@! Cool Place?

So I totally stole the title from Rude Cactus who is one of the most awesome bloggers ever and who is now a blog buddy...and a a quasi-adopted relative. And I will say this in answer to the question: YES. The internetwebosphere is totally, totally, totally a fucking cool place! There are multiple examples to reference, but I will focus on one because otherwise this post would go on forever. If I remember, I will make this a series (kind of like My Favorite Things only maybe I will do a better job...)

I first met Sarah Marie 100 years ago at my friend Karen's art opening in Lincolnton. Sarah was then (and is still now) a reporter for the Lincoln Times News and Karen introduced us because she thought my story (NYC Jewish Shopaholic Gets Transplanted to Farm in Rural NC with Goats) was interesting and newsworthy (or at least, profile-worthy) and Sarah agreed because a few weeks later, I got my 15 minutes.

I don't think I saw Sarah Marie again until about a year later - this time at a small Art Crawl in Lincolnton where over cheap wine in giant plastic cups we began to bond over our shared love of Audrey Hepburn and I totally told her about the monologue from Breakfast at Tiffany's I did for my drama class senior year at Duke and how I tried to be all dainty and Audrey-like and how it wasn't working so the teacher suggested I go in the complete opposite direction and how the final version involved me clunking around mad as Hell hurling f-bombs and in general lacing the monologue with other un-Audrey like language. Sarah Marie loved it and so a thin, frail bond was formed.

Fast forward 2 months to the ever-incredible Art Stroll in Downtown Lincolnton where I once again, ran into Sarah Marie. We talked briefly, she snapped some photos of me and my glittery gold eyeshadow, and then we parted ways. Oh - but not before vowing to become friends on Facebook. Yes - this was right around the time I discovered Facebook crack.

About a week or so later, Sarah Marie posted the photos on her Facebook page and I was HORRIFIED. The one photo of me was ok, but the other, which was meant to capture the awesomeness and sparkliness of my eyeshadow, also made my nose look rather...well, let's just say I did not think it was flattering. And I love my nose. I really do.

This lead to a giant exchange on Facebook about unflattering photos (including multiple chins and blowfish cheeks), another mutual love - this time of Dolly Parton, and a what I referred to as a "Tuesday morning overshare." The thin, frail bond grew stronger. Rapidly.

And then came the ultimate pre-Valentine's Day date at Monster Truck Jam. Again, a Facebook thing. I think I had recently confessed to my love of NASCAR and country music and Sarah Marie wrote back randomly (and probably totally facetiously) that she wanted to go to a Monster Truck Jam with me. That afternoon I heard on Kat Kountry that Monster Truck Jam was coming to Charlotte. It felt like destiny. It was destiny. And after MTJ (and late night karaoke where we totally killed Madonna and totally butchered David Allen Coe), our fate as friends (on FB and in real life) was evident.

Since MTJ we have gone roller skating, hung with Isaac, gone to yet another opening (again for my amazing friend Karen), had a Saved By The Bell Party, overshared plenty, and this Sunday Sarah came over at 2pm and we split a bottle of wine and had some much needed girl time. We are planning on a Shag and Showgirls party, a Priscilla Queen of the Desert and Rocky Horror Picture Show party (homage to drag queens clearly), and an Audrey Hepburn marathon (Roman Holiday, Breakfast at Tiffany's and Two For the Road - as Sarah Marie put it, we are watching in order of Audrey's disillusionment.) We are also having a Mad-Libs and Martini night with Karen next week...yet again because of a random and slightly facetious comment on Facebook that wound up taking on a life of its own (so for the record, Karen is another amazing Internetwebosphere friend who found me through this blog after Googling Willow Creek Inn.).

So yes. No doubt. The internetwebosphere is a fucking cool ass place and I am so happy to reside here.

The other day I wrote the following on Sarah Marie's Facebook wall:

How much do I love you and our shared love of Audrey, wine, art, Dolly and trucks which brought us together?


And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...

PS For the record, I was going to put my vanity aside and I wa totally going to post the "unflattering photo" but Sarah Marie has (graciously) removed it from her Facebook so I don't have a copy!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

More Than A Minor Meltdown: The Conclusion

So I thought that after yesterday's rant (and yes - I went back and re-read what I wrote and it totally qualified as a rant) that perhaps some of you might actually be concerned about my mental state, my ability to continue with this blog and/or interested in the ultimate outcome of my a/c-less situation.

First things first. Marty and I were in total agreement that Griffin Brothers sounded like a rip-off. So instead, we got up this morning and dropped the Blazer off at Wallace's. Wallace is retired (from what I have no idea) but he is clearly a mechanic (or at least mechanically inclined) and even though he's retired he still does work on cars - at least for those lucky enough to know him. And because he's not a dealer or a fancy schmancy repair shop and because he doesn't have a lot of overhead, he's completely reasonable in the price department.

Let me tell you about Wallace. Wallace lives in a shack off the side of the road. There are chickens running around the yard and a sign that says: Beware of Dog. There is also a dog. Sometimes more than one. Wallace has a small child who runs around barefoot in the dirt yard. There are assorted cars and car parts and car related things around and about. If you are familiar with the David Allen Coe song "If That Ain't Country" - Wallace sort of personifies some of that song. And I say all this not to be mean or judgemental - because that's not how I mean it. I am just painting a picture. Wallace is a wonderful and sweet man and he completely saved my ass. But this blog is called "If That Ain't Country" and Wallace is so "If That Ain't Country" that I felt compelled to share.

So I tell Wallace that "we" think it's the compressor. I don't really think this but Marty does because when I started the car in the garage he heard a noise and he immediately identified it as the compressor. He seemed shocked that I couldn't hear it too and suggested I turn the volume on my radio down about 18 notches. I didn't want to state the obvious which was that I grew up in NYC and have no knowledge or skills where cars are concerned and that turning my radio down wasn't going to help. The only way I know something isn't right is if a light appears on my dashboard. Or it's totally obvious - like the air coming out of the vent when I have the a/c on is no longer cold.

Wallace starts the car, listens for less than a millisecond and concurs - it's the compressor. My first reaction? FUCK. Because really, a shot of freon is so much more manageable than a whole compressor issue. Me being me (and totally neurotic) I ask Wallace if there is something I could have done to cause this. He assures me that no, this is "NOT MY FAULT." Compressors sometimes die. Or fry. Or both. Given that my car is 10 years old and that I have put probably close to 70,000 miles on it in the near 18 months that I have owned it, needing a new compressor doesn't seem so far-fetched. Phew.

Wallace says that he is going to try and patch the clutch first. That's the easy solution. And the cheap one. Otherwise, I will need a whole new compressor. I start alternate nostril breathing immediately.

I'll spare you the rest of the dramatic details...Actually there are no more dramatic details. Long story short? I needed a new compressor. Wallace found one, bought it, and installed it and I picked up my car before 6pm. When I started it, the air blowing out of the vents was cold. Ice cold.

God love whoever invented freon. And God love Wallace because as I said, he totally, totally, totally saved my ass.

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

More Than a Minor Meltdown

I had a more than minor meltdown yesterday and it was not pretty. For those of you who like pretty with your morning cup of blog, go back and look at the pictures of me and Isaac because that was pretty. Oh so pretty. For the rest of you...

So I am en route to Charlotte yesterday when I notice that my a/c is not exactly cold. This is troubling because a) it's been working fine the last few weeks and b) it's HOT. And I don't mean it's in the high 70s and kind of warm and springy. I mean it's in the low 90s and HOT and I have no idea when the heat wave is going to break but not any time soon. By the time I am about 10 minutes into my drive and about to get on I-85, the a/c is clearly not working at all. Blowing air yes - but cooling no.

I start to panic. Why? Well 1) Again, the whole HOT thing. 2) I have an extremely narrow window in which to get the a/c fixed - today. And not even all of today because Marty and I have to drive up to Granite Falls to pick up the Volvo in the morning and then I have to hang out at home from 1 - 5 to wait for the inspector to come and inspect it before we turn it back in. Tomorrow I am at Quail Hollow for the tournament all day, and then getting an MRI for my knee Wednesday night at 7pm in Gastonia and then I leave Thursday early for Charleston/Sullivan's Island which is a serious, serious drive. 3) I believe it's going to continue to be 90 degrees all week....Mental meltdown begins.

I call Marty to see who in Lincolnton I should bring it to. He suggests Griffin Brothers. During the HOT drive to Charlotte I pray that I only need freon and no major repairs. As soon as I get to Charlotte I call Griffin Bros. to see if I can stop by @ 4:30 when I get back and get a shot of freon. They tell me that it's not quite so simple and not enough time. Apparently, even if I only need freon, you can't add a quart like you can windshield wiper fluid. There are diagnostics and tests and dye and the whole thing...the whole thing even if I ONLY need freon, is going to cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $180. Not that price is an issue - I mean, given how much I drive (we figured I logged close to 50,000 miles in my car last year) not having a/c is not an option. But still, $180 seems high for no major repairs. I wonder if this is because I am a woman or because it's HOT or because it's really $180.

With my meeting over, I get back in my car. The physical meltdown begins because it's freaking HOT. I tell myself that my reward will be a stop at Steak and Shake in Gastonia for a milkshake (I've had a crazy milkshake hankering as of late that has yet to be satisfied). The drive back on I-85 is tolerable (mainly because I am fantasizing about the milkshake - it's like an oasis in the desert) but the rolled down windows mess with my hair. I get to Gastonia and turn the wrong way on Franklin. $~#$%&!. That's twice in 5 days I have been "lost" in Gastonia. I hate Gastonia. I really do.

So now I have to wait until I get to Lincolnton and go to Cookout for my shake. Plus I still have to drive through Gastonia and Dallas. During rush hour. Torture. Agony. Mental meltdown now in full force and physical meltdown not far behind.

I finally arrive in Lincolnton and high tail it to Cookout. It feels like it takes them forever to make my mint Oreo shake but I finally get it, put the straw in, drive off....The shake is SOOOOO thick there ain't no way I am drinking it with a straw. I guess that's why they gave me a spoon too. But I am driving and can't manage the spoon situation so I suck and suck on the straw with all of my might, giving my cheeks a full on work-out and willing little bits of shake into my mouth. What minuscule tastes I can muster are good but it's not enough and I spiral further downward into meltdown madness.

I get home and tear open the spoon and start inhaling my shake at lightning speed while still parked in the garage. It's good - mostly shake, very little milk, cold, creamy, sweet and totally hits the spot. I slurp it up at a warp pace that would horrify all of you.

Then I had to go feed the animals and Elvis was disruptive as all get out (what would he be like if we HADN'T castrated him and is it possible to castrate him more because I am not sure it too the first time?) so much so that I had to beat the ever loving shit out of him.

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...

Monday, April 27, 2009

Hello NASCAR. I Am Back. Did You Miss Me?

Confession time. I have not been the world’s greatest racing fan this season despite my best intention. As soon as the 2009 schedule was posted, I dutifully put all of the races in my calendar –determined to watch as many as possible and determined to continue my NASCAR education. And I got off to an OK start. I watched the Budweiser Shoot-Out on February 7th and got my first real taste of the craziness that is Daytona…so much so that I watched my first Daytona 500 the following week. And I think I watched part or most of the next few races. But here’s the problem. February, March – also prime college basketball season. And there were trips to NYC and Saturday night plans that just didn't involved TVs and racing.

I missed Jimmie’s first victory of the season. I missed Jeff Gordon’s grand comeback. I even missed the Subway Fresh Fit 500 which had been my inaugural race last year and which I wanted to watch if for nothing more, at least because I am somewhat sentimental. Suddenly – it was almost like I was totally out of the NASCAR loop.

And then I found myself at Lowe’s Motor Speedway this past Friday. It was my first time visiting ever and I have to say, I found it kind of inspiring and majestic. This huge structure of metal and blue glass rising up into the sky. Flags blowing in the breeze. I was kind awe-struck. Now – I doubt I ever would have gotten my act together and headed up to Lowe’s on my own. But our local Rotary Group was hosting an exchange team from Chile and one of the activities they had on the itinerary was a tour of the Speedway and I was more than happy to volunteer to be part of the group that went up there. As it turned out, most of the Chileans were more interested in shopping and so they headed off to Concord Mills (OK – so did you know that Concord Mills is the #1 attraction in the entire state of North Carolina? Can you imagine? All of the amazing and wonderful things we have in this ENTIRE state and people flock to a giant freaking mall? I mean really…it's rather upsetting and disturbing on so many levels – and this coming from someone who loves to shop!) but a handful of us stayed at the Speedway and waited for the 3:30 tour.

So I forgot my camera. Me. Who treats every experience as either something for this blog or something to be plastered all over Facebook…yes, I forgot my camera. So there are no pictures to show you, but while we waited, we walked up the ramp out into the stands and watched what was going on at the track. There were cars on the track, and as it turns out, it was the Richard Petty Driving Experience – but for a minute I really wondered if I was watching Jimmie practice. Anyways, it was all sort of exhilarating and exciting and made me wish I was going to the race in a few weeks and made me wonder why I wasn't going to the race in a few weeks (Oh yeah- traffic. After a really bad experience at Verizon Wireless Ampitheater when we first moved down here I have made it my mission to avoid similar situations and I feel like the Speedway on Race Day would be one of said situations.).

The tour involves getting into a 15 passenger van and they drive you around and into the Speedway and through the go-cart track, and around the infield, and they point out all the different levels of seats and boxes and condos and how much they all cost. And then they bring you over to Victory Circle where you can have your picture taken, and you can get out and stand along Pit Road and watch the driving school action. And then they take you out on the actual track (in the van) and bring you up on Turn 2 (I think) and it’s 24 degrees which may not seem steep, but totally is. And then they tell you how steep Talladega is (33 degrees) and Bristol (36 degrees) and you can't even begin to imagine what it must feel like to be in a tiny car going 175 – 180mph around these steep curves. And then the van is off and you take a lap at ~ 70mph and suddenly you want to drop $109 for the Richard Petty Driving Experience. Only not today. Because today is too hot. But you vow to return in the fall when it's cooler and take your 3 laps in a car just like Jimmie drives. At least – you think all of this if you were me this past Friday.

And by the time the tour was done (and it was, for the record, totally lots of fun and worth it and the Speedway is so nice when it's not crowded), I was Facebooking my girl Saej to see about getting tickets for Bristol in August. I am back NASCAR. So back. Did you miss me?

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your…

PS Who watched Talladega yesterday? I mean was that shit not AWESOME? That my friends, is why I love racing.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

My Week In Tweets: 4/19 - 4/25

thinking I am lucky I didn't amputate my toe!
7:28 AM Apr 19th from web

McDonalds....yeah I'm lovin' it!
3:41 PM Apr 19th from web

monday. ugh.
7:12 AM Apr 20th from web

Thinking heels were a REALLY bad idea in light of my gashed toe....walking? Not so easy....
10:11 AM Apr 20th from TwitterBerry

Thinking of getting in touch with my inner Rita Hayworth....
12:19 PM Apr 20th from TwitterBerry

Has a gorgeous new 'do - thank you Miss Holly!!!!
6:58 PM Apr 20th from TwitterBerry

Raindrops keep falling on my freshly coiffed head....FUCK!
8:54 PM Apr 20th from TwitterBerry

Can't believe the crap that's advertised on TV at 5am...
5:03 AM Apr 21st from TwitterBerry

remembering what it is that makes me so fabulous in the first place...and not going to forget it again!
2:54 PM Apr 21st from web

Watching Shag, drinking wine, baking cookies - life is not that bad....
7:14 PM Apr 21st from TwitterBerry

is mother effing pissed off that her Tivo effing flaked and she missed Idol ONCE a freaking again....FUCK! (sorry - is that rude?)
9:36 PM Apr 21st from web

and trying to get out of bed. But it's a struggle.
7:50 AM Apr 22nd from web

really hates it when people use up all of the packing tape and don't tell you so that when you go to tape up a box there's no fucking tape
10:29 AM Apr 22nd from web

Realizing my white sneakers are so dirty, they no longer qualify as white...
11:51 AM Apr 22nd from TwitterBerry

drinking a kick-ass wine from Uruguay...who knew?!
8:09 PM Apr 22nd from web

Wandering around wachovia complex - madness...utter madness...
10:18 AM Apr 23rd from TwitterBerry

Thinking creative media evangalist is like, the coolest title ever....
12:27 PM Apr 23rd from TwitterBerry

Thinking whoever came up with gravy in a can has a sick and twisted mine...
2:14 PM Apr 23rd from TwitterBerry

Whoops - mind. See what eating canned gravy does to a girl? It messes with her minD...
2:14 PM Apr 23rd from TwitterBerry

really wanting to wear my new silver skirt...too much for random thursday karaoke at the local sports bar? or not enough?
6:32 PM Apr 23rd from web

I am snappy in strapless seersucker. That's right. SNAPPY!!!
7:38 AM Apr 24th from TwitterBerry

trying to take my own advice and learn to wallow in happiness like a luxurious cashmere blanket...
11:45 AM Apr 24th from web

At Lowes Motor Speedway - it's fuc...wait - told dad I'd de-salt my language. It's neat! Really neat! (Can't believe I forgot my camera!)
3:04 PM Apr 24th from TwitterBerry

Just learned what Baby Guinness was...."Irish" whiskey for Jews - though not whiskey (and not Irish) at all....and FYI retardedly good!
8:26 PM Apr 24th from TwitterBerry

Trying to catch up on over a month's worth of CLT Biz Journal (could be better), while getting a suntan on my deck (could be worse)...
1:15 PM Apr 25th from TwitterBerry

Seriously wondering about the strange man with the digital belt buckle....is he trying to advertise something?
9:31 PM Apr 25th from TwitterBerry

Now seriously wondering about the odd fellow in the denim manpris....clearly need to avoid TWs on Saturdays....can you say fashion faux pas?
9:40 PM Apr 25th from TwitterBerry

Belt buckle still freaking me out...
10:05 PM Apr 25th from TwitterBerry

Eugene - he of the digital belt buckle - is quite aggressive when it comes to the Cuban Shuffle. SCARY!!!
11:35 PM Apr 25th from TwitterBerry

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...

Friday, April 24, 2009

Pop Princess

About 3 weeks ago, it was one of those gorgeous, sunny, spring-like days - in fact I think it was the first such day we'd had all season (and it was following like, 2 weeks of non-stop grayness, gloominess and rain so it was especially welcome). And I was stuck in my car driving to Durham and I realized that I didn't have a whole lot of "Happy Music" on my iPod.

So my love of country music has been well documented and I still love it, but there are only so many "my-husband-left-me-my-job-sucks-I-drink-too-much-cuz-my-heart-is-breaking-and-oh-yeah-my-dog-got-run-over" songs a girl can listen to and when the sun is shining and the sky is blue and you are cruising down the freeway doing 70mph you want "Happy Music." At least I do. So that day, the happiest music I could find on my iPod was the soundtrack to Mamma Mia and it hit the spot because really, what's happier than ABBA? (Although for the record, my favorite song is The Winner Takes It All which is like, totally one of the most depressing and heart-wrenching songs EVER. I don't know why but I like listening to people sing about their pain. What does this say about me?)

So when I returned home, and was prepping for my next long drive (this one the following week to Atlanta) I decided to get out of my country comfort zone and explore the world of pop music.

The first song I downloaded was So What, by Pink, on the recommendation of my friend Dr. Diva. Not necessarily happy in terms of sentiment, but a total rock-on-with-your-bad-self-because-you-are-a-rockstar kind of song with a really upbeat tempo that makes you feel like dancing while you are driving.

Next came Beyonce. Sorry. Sasha Fierce. I had heard Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It) at the roller rink and it definitely seemed to be Happy.

But then after those 2 songs I struggled. I couldn't quite bring myself to download Lady Gaga (who at the time was on the top of the pop charts on iTunes) after seeing her crazy performance on Idol the other week and there was no way in Hell - no way - I was going to download Britney Spears. And then it came to me. In some sort of random moment of divine intervention. Katy Perry.

I heard a Katy Perry song once on the radio last summer, randomly driving in the car from the Newburgh airport to see my parents (the same weekend we saw Neil Diamond) and didn't think much of it. I think I know Katy more from her frequent appearances on Go Fug Yourself. And yet - her name came to me in a moment of inspiration and the next thing you know I had downloaded the entire album, One of The Boys.

So how much fun is Katy Perry? She is so much fun. She is makes-me-want-to-go-dancing fun. She is sing-out-loud-at-the-top-of-my-lungs fun. She is kind of bubblegum pop, kind of edgy, kind of real and totally a girl. And so I entered into the world of Pop Princesses.

Kelly Clarkson came next. I can't claim divine intervention for this. More like, I kept searching on iTunes to see what other artists people who had downloaded Katy had downloaded and Kelly's name came up and once again, despite knowing little about her, her music or the new album, I downloaded the entire album All I Ever Wanted. Here's what I have to say about my girl Kelly: My Life Would Suck With U too Kelly!

Ok - so not 100% Happy Music - but definitely another rock-on-with-your-bad-self-girlfriend kind of album and just oodles of fun to listen to (and dance to. I now dance while I drive. It must be highly entertaining for the other drivers).

Still...I can't quite get away from my Country Girl roots. The last song I downloaded - and by the far the MOST AWESOME HAPPY SONG EVER: It Happens by Sugarland. Seriously - I could be having the worst day ever and I listen to that song and I am instantly lifted. But I have already told you that I think Jennifer Nettles is a badass.

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...

ps Now taking suggestions on other Pop Princesses to add to my iPod...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Twenty Things You Didn’t Know About Us

When I was originally asked to participate in the Flipping Out blog tour, I didn't quite know what to do. You see, I think that the primary reason I was asked had nothing to do with the nature or content of my blog. It had nothing to do with my readers being fans of mystery novels. And it had nothing to do with how much traffic crossed my site on a daily basis. It had to do with the fact that I am the author’s daughter.

Don't get me wrong. I don't view the invitation to participate as nepotism (my blog, for the record, is pretty kick-ass). However, If That Ain't Country, which chronicles my fish-out-of-water experiences as a city girl transplanted to rural North Carolina, hardly has anything to do with mystery novels and the types of folks who enjoy them. The only connection between me and Flipping Out is genetics.

So I struggled with what to do. Especially given my time slot – April 21st. Did I want to be the 21st person to review Flipping Out? Did I want to be the 21st person to interview Marshall Karp, big time mystery author? Leave it up to my brilliant blogging consigliere to plant the seed and tell me that “it might be fun to take advantage of your unique position and write something a little more personal.” And so I decided to be the first blogger to take advantage of her position as Marshall’s daughter and to give you a one-of-a-kind and possibly unexpected stop on the Flipping Out blog tour. And maybe somewhere in there, you’ll see that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

The Top 10 Things You Didn't Know About Sarah

1. The best hug I have ever received was from my father on September 12th, 2001.

2. I wish that life would offer us more occasions to wear feather boas and large hats.

3. I am deathly afraid of raw chicken, losing my parents, being buried alive and heights.

4. I am a rougeneck….which translates to a goat mama who loves NASCAR and country music but still wears Dolce & Gabanna and carries a Louis Vuitton Alma.

5. I secretly watch Saved by the Bell in the morning when I should be watching the news.

6. I love Grease but I love Grease 2 more.

7. I can still remember all the lyrics and most of the choreography to my Heaven Hop routine from when I played in Bonnie in our 8th grade production of Anything Goes.

8. I cannot, under any circumstances, watch the scene in Trading Places where Dan Akroyd is on the bus drunk after trying to bust up the Duke & Duke Christmas party. His beard and wig are grey and dirty and he’s all slurry and mean. And then he pulls the smoked salmon out of his jacket and it gets all tangled in his dirty beard and then he eats it. Seriously – I close my eyes every time.

9. There is only one way to load the dishwasher: MY WAY. And it involves organizing the silverware. Cluttered dishwashers give me a headache.

10. I don't think you can try to be a writer. Or wish to be a writer. I think you either are a writer or you aren't. To me, writing is who you are, not what you do. I am a writer.

The Top 10 Things You Didn't Know About Marshall

1. The best hug I have ever received was from my daughter. Sarah was at the base of Tower One when the first plane hit on 9/11. It took 90 minutes until I knew she was alive and 36 hours before I finally got to hug her. It was the best, and most anticipated hug of my life.

2. I wish that life would offer us more occasions to undo. When one of my characters gets it wrong in a book, I have time to rewrite it before anyone sees it. When I screw up, I can apologize, but there’s no delete button.

3. I am deathly afraid of drowning. A third time. Having been rescued twice, I think I've gotten more than my share of gifts from God.

4. I am a total, glass-filled-to-the-rim, blithering, babbling, diehard optimist.

5. I secretly watch people. In airports, on the street, in stores. I catalogue real people’s behavior. You’d be amazed how the smallest quirks can work their way into one of my characters.

6. I love being with people, but I love being alone more.

7. I can still remember sitting on my father’s lap when I was two or three and watching him dunk his hard roll into his coffee. I can still smell it.

8. I cannot, under any circumstances, watch a horror movie or a medical show and not close my eyes.

9. There is only one way to never get caught lying.

10. Athletes, supermodels, cops, surgeons, belly dancers — they all have one thing in common. Sooner or later they have to call it quits, and move on to something else. Being a writer means the thing that I love to do the most is something I can keep on doing. There’s a clock ticking for me, but not for my career.

I am hoping that both ITAC readers and Marshall Karp fans alike found this enlightening. If not, I learned it from my dad…

If that ain't country, I’ll kiss your…

Monday, April 20, 2009

And The Winner Is...

Ok...a BIG mea culpa on my part. Clearly I need to learn how to run a contest better. I had a suspicion it was a little complicated and my blogging consigliere said that while it wasn't complicated, it was a little time consuming. All I was trying to do was to get folks to take a little time to read some of dad's writing...and mine. Maybe It was a little too much. However, a few folks did play along...and did rather well and as such, will be duly rewarded.

First, the questions and answers.

MWK QUESTIONS

Q:In Bloodthirsty, where is the first body found?
A: In trash can in The Hollywood Hills.

Q: In Flipping Out, according to Lomax, who is the 8th circle of Hell reserved for?
A: "The eighth circle is for those who knowingly commit evil deeds. That includes panderers, false prophets, sowers of discord, and the way I see it, building contractors who take your money, don’t do the work, and never return your phone calls."

Q: In The Rabbit Factory, how does Terry Biggs meet his 4th wife, Marilyn?
A: When she shows up in the parking lot of Ralph’s on Robertson and treats the broken ankle he received while foiling a robbery...and then proceeds to accidentally dump him out of the back of the ambulance.

Q: What annual tradition did Dad begin when he was 16 years old?
A: Writing an annual letter to himself on New Years Eve.

Q: What did Dad want to become when he began studying at Rutgers?
A: A Dentist.

SRP QUESTIONS

Q: What did I wear to Monster Truck Jam?
A: Denim, Dolces and Diamonds

Q: Name 3 songs downloaded to my iPod since I began my love affair with country music.
A: Before He Cheats (Carrie Underwood), Better As a Memory Than As Your Man (Kenny Chesney), As Good As I Once Was (Toby Keith) among 100 others.

Q:Where was I when Nugget was born in April 2007?
A: Olde Time Pottery, Myrtle Beach

Q: During my first month in Lincolnton, I had a hard time finding what?
A: Iced decaf.

Q: What was I drinking the other week when Duke beat Texas?
A: 2005 Gundlach Bundschu Rhinefarm Vineyard Pinot Noir

As for the winners, Jody Dixon is the latest person to win a free copy of Flipping Out on the Blog Tour. And for everyone else who played, cookies will be coming your way! Your efforts alone warrant a lot more than a "Best of The Dollar Store Gift Basket." Really.

Now stay tuned tomorrow for a very special dual post from me and dad where you will get to know us both alot better. Although truthfully, don't you feel like you know me pretty darn well after reading about my involvement castrating Buster and Prisey?

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...

Sunday, April 19, 2009

My Day With Isaac: In Pictures

































And if that ain't just UTTERLY FABULOUS, I'll kiss your...

My Week In Tweets: 4/12 - 4/18

I am obsessed with Twitter. Really. Seriously. Truly. I know there is some debate out there...some believe Twitter is numbing our moral fiber while others argue for its powers of good. I love it. I really do. And when people ask me why, I tell them this: I have 14,000 random thoughts that pop into my head on a daily basis. With Twitter, I get to share, like, 8 - 10 of them daily.

It's a snapshot of my genius - or so I'd like to think.

So starting today, I am implementing a new ITAC weekly post called My Week In Tweets where I go back through the week and share a handful of my Tweets...

thinking "we were happy in the bathtub In the abacus of the rains" might be the most genius song lyric ever. EVER.
10:22 AM Apr 12th from web

painting my toes a pretty shade of pink and watching the oh so genius end to Little Miss Sunshine...
11:04 AM Apr 12th from web

fuck - the car wash is closed and I need my car washed...desperately.....
3:45 PM Apr 12th from web

ACK! @StephenTColbert is following me...ME...on Twitter. Me and 10,724 others.
5:09 PM Apr 12th from web

wondering how much pressure Michelle Duggar's daughter in law feels to reproduce Duggar style?
8:20 AM Apr 13th from web

Oh Kelly Clarkson - my life would suck without u!
7:37 PM Apr 13th from TwitterBerry

...........PRIMAL SCREAM...........ok.....feel better......
9:41 PM Apr 13th from TwitterBerry

Hello alarm clock.....I hear you.....
6:33 AM Apr 14th from TwitterBerry

About to begin the epic journey to Greenville...in a really dirty car....
7:53 AM Apr 14th from TwitterBerry

So um yeah....pencil skirt? Bad wardrobe choice for 4+ hours driving....
10:38 AM Apr 14th from TwitterBerry

How good are twizzlers? Soooooo good!
2:54 PM Apr 14th from TwitterBerry

Debbie Harry rocks, raps AND sings in French....how bad ass is that? Totally bad ass. Totally.
3:48 PM Apr 14th from TwitterBerry

ridiculously happy to be seeing @Mrs_Westwick tomorrow for a very, very glam lunch...if chick-fil-a @ the hospital can count as glam...
8:01 AM Apr 15th from web

At the ECU - NC State baseball game. Why is it 10 degrees colder here than anywhere else in Greenville? And why is it so windy?
4:56 PM Apr 15th from TwitterBerry

Thinking Doritos and a brownie don't really qualify as a nutritious meal...in fact - they don't really qualify as a meal at all...
6:15 PM Apr 15th from TwitterBerry

Fascinated by the Country Doctor Museum. A whole museum to/for/about country doctors? Really? I don't quite know what to make of this...
9:14 AM Apr 16th from TwitterBerry

Totally bummed that @Mrs_Westwick had to take out a spleen...totally
11:42 AM Apr 16th from TwitterBerry

Didn't know there were men in the south who didn't hold the door open for a lady....
10:24 PM Apr 16th from TwitterBerry

Fucking hate driving in hickory - hate it!!!!!
11:32 AM Apr 17th from TwitterBerry

Loving the awesome folks at GunBun - LOVING!!! And thinking I'd like some GunBun as well....
1:46 PM Apr 17th from TwitterBerry

I am suddenly craving a giant chocolate milk shake....
4:30 PM Apr 17th from TwitterBerry

Post office...car wash (!)...Mad Libs...orzo...Duplin pink (not for me) - seems like a rather strange to do list for a Friday night...
7:05 PM Apr 17th from TwitterBerry

Suddenly wishing I had more diamonds....because you know....diamonds are a girl's best friend...
8:35 AM Apr 18th from TwitterBerry

Just got a kiss and a wave from isaac - oh yes I did....
10:36 AM Apr 18th from TwitterBerry

What's the perfect follow-up to Isaac? Why Dolly! Of course!!!!
4:57 PM Apr 18th from TwitterBerry

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...

Saturday, April 18, 2009

My Day With Isaac: In Words

So today started out auspiciously when my usually-slightly-late friend Sarah Marie arrived at my house 5 minutes early for our scheduled 9am departure. You see, there was an Isaac Mizrahi for Liz Claiborne fashion show being held at Belk in South Park, and the man himself, Isaac Mizrahi, was going to be there. Damned if we weren't going to get there early, get our front row seats and hope to see a glimpse of the genius himself.

Doors to Belk and registration opened at 10am. The show was at 1pm. Sarah and I arrived at Belk at 9:48am with a lot of giddiness and lots of silly items to keep us busy while we sat patiently for the next 3 hours.

I will digress to say that we showed up: DRESSED. I was wearing the watercolor floral dirndl skirt from the current collection along with a big black hat and giant sunglasses. Sarah arrived in a flowing cream skirt and kick-ass red heels.

So when the doors opened at 10 we were the first ones in the store and the first ones at the registration table where we were given our pretty teal colored wrist bands and told that if we spent $150 in the department, we would be given a FREE copy of Isaac's book, How To Have Style, AND he would personally autograph it for us.

So - about 3 weeks ago, I had received a phone call from someone at Liz Claiborne telling me that there was the chance to meet Isaac in person, but I had to pre-spend $150 at Liz Claiborne and put it on a Belk credit card (which wasn't an issue seeing as I had just opened an account). I was kind of pissed about the whole thing because I had just spent well over $150 at Liz Claiborne not one week earlier. I asked if my earlier spending could somehow be applied retroactively. I was told no. So after discussing with Sarah Marie, we both decided that we did not need to spend the money and we would get our Isaac fix some other way.

However, dressed up the morning of, nearly high with anticipation, and seeing as there had clearly been a change in the rules, we decided to browse. And try things on. We both tried on the strech pique sweetheart dress in pink. It was really cute (and really pink) but it didn't fit so well on top which was kind of a disappointment. Then I tried on an awesome silver skirt that even though it is silver, I will wear it ever day. Really - it is just that fabulous. It wasn't enough to get me to $150 but combined with the super cute belted seersucker dress I tried on it was. And I do have a weekend coming up in Sullivan's Island and that dress is so perfect...

Meanwhile, Sarah Marie became smitten with a stunning navy eyelet dress with a dramatic shawl color. So much so, that she bought it and had her very own wardrobe change!

While she was changing, I was browsing over in shoes (they still don't have the yellow heels I want) and just as I was making my way back over to Liz Claiborne to grab Sarah, who did I see shuffling toward me with his entourage? Isaac freaking Mizrahi. The man himself. And he was all bundled up with a scarf around his neck and he had his sunglasses on and he saw me standing there in my full on glamour and he gave me a little wave, and then blew me a little kiss, and then I near about fell over and said something really awesome like: You just totally made my life. I don't know - it was all a fabulous, Isaac blur...

So after that moment, and having picked up our neon green bracelets to assure us a chance to meet Isaac in person after the show, we decided we did not need to get seats now and so instead we headed to Chick Fil A for breakfast and then we browsed a little bit. But by 11:20am we had our seats (front row, center - right at the end of the cat walk) and an hour and forty minutes to kill.

We read Isaac's book. We played Totally 80s Trivia In a Can. We made up stories about the various people who were starting to trickle in and take their seats. There was one woman we were fascinated with - she and her companion had gone to Chick Fil A also but while her companion had eaten a sandwich, this woman was using a fork at first and then a spoon to eat mysterious items that just didn't seem very Chick Fil Aish. The fork kept disappearing into what appeared to be a french fry bag but I only saw little slivers of something come out - no fries. And then the spoon kept disappearing into a cup and emerging with some sort of white concoction on it that looked like mayonnaise but couldn't have been mayonnaise - could it have been? And she kept taking a few dainty bites and then putting it away and then bringing it out again and then putting it away and it was just fascinating. I still want to know what on earth she was eating.

By the time 1pm rolled around - the place was PACKED. And I was so glad that we had gotten there early, gotten our shopping done, gotten our neon green bracelets and the chance to meet Isaac, and gotten our seats.

We started with a video clip of Isaac being Isaac i.e. just totally fabulous and warm and funny and amazing and then the man himself emerged. He was seated on a white sofa at the top of the runway (which a whole crew of 8 people had set up for him) along with the top Trend Buyer for Belk, Andrea, and they would dialogue a little bit and then some models would come out and show off the clothes. And then Isaac and Andrea would gab some more. And then more clothes. And then there was one more gab fest and one more round of clothes and then it was Q&A time.

The best part came during the Q&A when a woman asked if heavier, plus sized women (such as herself) should stay away from certain styles or colors. Isaac gave an emphatic NO and then added this. Look, for every 4 people who think you look fabulous, there is always going to be 1 who doesn't...And we HATE her anyways. It was Isaac. It was genius. We love him.

Then it was a mad dash back downstairs and everyone was trying to turn in their surveys to get their free gift (a rather lovely but not so exciting white LC notebook) and then there was chaos as women ripped clothes off racks, lined up to try items one, and backed up 3 deep at the register so they could get their neon green bracelets. We already had ours. We got in line (we were about 5th) and waited calmly for our chance to meet Isaac.

I wasn't quite sure what I would say when I met him. I thought about some clever quip about his performance in For Love Or Money but in the end, I talked about having Seder with his mother. So when Isaac asks me my name, I tell him it's Sarah with an H. And he says that Sarah with an H is also his mother's name. And then I said: I'd like to have Seder with Sarah Mizrahi (for the record, he had talked about Seder during the show) and I think he kind of looked at me a little oddly but it didn't matter because I was conversing with Isaac Mizrahi. And the whole reason why we were conversing was because before he signed my book, he sketched me in my fabulous hat and so we had some time to chat. Really. And then Sarah Marie took my picture with him and I took one of her and we left the madness and had limontinis and hummus on the patio of M5.

It was fabulous. It really was. And then we came back home and watched the Dolly Parton segment from 60 Minutes a few weeks ago because Sarah hadn't seen it and because really, how else do you follow-up Isaac? Dolly was perfect.

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...

(ps A separate post with pix to follow because Sarah Marie has all the good ones!)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Gettin' My 'Cue On...

God love my friend Paul. Not only does Paul know that I LOVE to eat...but he knows that I am always looking for ITAC-worthy experiences to blog about. So what does he do when we get together for lunch on Monday? He takes me to Mac's Speed Shop on South Boulevard in Charlotte.

Now I confess. I knew we were going to Mac's well over a week ago...and I went online and perused the menu. Well, perused is kind of a light word. Devoured is more like it. I devoured the menu. And I knew exactly what I was getting too:

The Combo Platter (Can't Decide? We'll Make It Easy For Ya...) which included:

* Hand Pulled BBQ Pork (slowly cooked in our smoker all night and lightly tossed with Dan Boone's Already Famous BBQ Sauce)

* Beer Can Chicken (slow cooked and and finished on the grill, served naked or with your choice of wing sauce)

* St. Louis Style Ribs (dry rubbed and slow smoked for 6 hours and finished on the grill with Po Po's red ribs sauce)

* Kansas City Beef Ribs (dry rubbed and slow smoked for 6 hours and finished on the grill with Po Po's red ribs sauce)

* Texas Beef Brisket (dry rubbed for 24 hours and slow cooked for 12 hours and finished on the grill with Po Po's red ribs sauce)

Because I mean really...how do you choose among all those choices? What on there do you NOT want to eat? Now that said - I figured I'd be a lady and order "A Little Bit of It All" versus the manly "A Whole Lot of It." And that wasn't even including the 2 sides that came with the platter (french fries, hush puppies, fresh slaw made daily, mac 'n cheese - while it lasts, onion rings and so on...)

Well Monday came. And I was all set to order the combo platter and make a complete pig of myself. Until Paul told me I'd be taking 2/3 of even "A Little Bit of It All" home with me. That just seemed...too self-indulgent. So I settled for a "small" BBQ plate with really good fries and even better slaw. And I am proud to say, I did a pretty decent job of polishing most of it off. And I was so happy to have a really good BBQ fix because it's been ages...

Fast forward to Wednesday. I am in Greenville, NC and last minute, the lunch I had scheduled with the health nut attorney gets cancelled and so I ask my co-worker in our Greenville office if we can have lunch at B's Barbecue which he's told me about 1000 times and which I am desperate to go to (click on the link - really. I mean - does it get any more ITAC than that??). I am told "No" - it's already after 12pm and they often run out of food and shut down early. So instead, we head to Uncle Yammy's Rib Shack.

Uncle Yammy's? Not yummy. In fact, Uncle Yammy's kind of sucked.

First of all - despite the country sounding name and the country style menu (BBQ, brisket, ribs, chicken, etc.), Uncle Yammy's is very new, very shiny, very sterile, and very clean. Ambiance is lacking. Again - I direct you to check out the above-posted link to B's. Tell me that place is not FULL of ambiance??

So yes. The menu sounds good. It feels like it should be good. Only it's not.

Let's not even mention the fact that our waitress brought me the wrong thing...twice. The 3rd time she got it right: Yammy's chicken (dark meat) and BBQ with sweet potato fries and slaw.

Where do I start? I could not put enough salt on the chicken. Simply not enough. Although it was quite tender (fall off the bone tender) and the sauce they cooked it in was ok...The fries? Sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. Sorry - just because they are SWEET potatoes doesn't mean they must be SWEET. I ate 1 or 2 to be polite. The slaw was inedible. Way too much sugar. And I love slaw. I can be very forgiving of slaw. But not this slaw. The BBQ was ok...Uncle Yammy's sauce is a lot of vinegar and not much else. I kept adding more. It didn't help.

So it was kind of a bust. And I appreciate my co-worker wanting to help me get my BBQ fix...but I had already gotten my BBQ fix this week and what I really wanted was a B's fix...

So one week. Two BBQ plates. Two very different experiences. I guess it's a good thing I live closer to Charlotte than Greenville because I assure you, I will be back at Mac's. Soon.

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

HOW TO WIN SOMETHING FREE!!!

Right? Kind of gets your attention and all doesn't it...the "FREE" part does I mean. Because who doesn't like FREE. We all like FREE. We love FREE.

So - to refresh your memories...

My big-time-mystery-writer-author father just released a new book, Flipping Out. And my wee little blog, If That Ain't Country, has been awarded a stop on the Flipping Out Blog Tour. And lil, wee old me has been given an autographed copy of Flipping Out to give away FREE to one lucky reader...

So how to decide who gets the book? Well - my first thought (and I stuck with it) is that about half of you are my readers...i.e. you know me (kinda sorta maybe). And half of you are possibly/probably/maybe Dad's readers who are diligently following the Blog Tour.

So....

Here's the deal. How well do you know us? How well do you know me? How well do you know Dad? Me? My life is pretty much an open book...or rather, an open blog...at least it has been since July 2006. As for Dad, his website and his blog fill in many of the missing blanks.

But were you paying attention?

Ten questions follow. Five about me and five about Dad and/or his books and/or characters. Here's what you need to answer to win:

** Answer 3 questions about Dad and 1 question about me - you are now entered in a drawing to win a FREE AUTOGRAPHED copy of Flipping Out!

** Answer 3 questions about me and 1 question about dad - you are now entered in a drawing for me to send you 1 dozen homemade QUATTRO CHIP COOKIES. These are insanely good. I swear. Best cookies you will ever eat. Move over Mrs. Fields/Famous Amos/Chips Ahoy Dude...

** Answer any 4 questions total (me, dad, whatever) and you are entered in a drawing to win a "Best of What The Dollar Store Has To Offer" recession-themed gift basket.

** Answer more than any of the above, you are entered to win it all!

SEND YOUR ANSWERS TO itacillkissyour@yahoo.com. Obviously don't post in comment form because then everyone will see!!!

Complicated? Maybe. But I don't know any other way. Answers to all questions can be found on my Blog or Dad's site . When it comes to Dad, read his blog for sure, but also read the sample chapters from each book. Read them because that's where the answers are but also because: THEY ARE THAT EFFING GOOD. Really. I mean it.

You have until midnight Saturday(4/18). Winners will be announced on Monday, April 20th. Then, Dad will make a VERY SPECIAL APPEARANCE on If That Ain't Country on Tuesday, April 21st.

Now...What you have been waiting for...

Dad Questions

1. In Bloodthirsty, where is the first body found?
2. In Flipping Out, according to Lomax, who is the 8th circle of Hell reserved for?
3. In The Rabbit Factory, how does Terry Biggs meet his 4th wife, Marilyn?
4. What annual tradition did Dad begin when he was 16 years old?
5. What did Dad want to become when he began studying at Rutgers?

Me Questions

1. What did I wear to Monster Truck Jam?
2. Name 3 songs downloaded to my iPod since I began my love affair w/ country music.
3. Where was I when Nugget was born in April 2007?
4. During my first month in Lincolnton, I had a hard time finding what?
5. What was I drinking the other week when Duke beat Texas?

And if that ain't country (and oh so complicated), I'll kiss your...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Under Pressure

I am feeling pressure to blog and this is new. There was a time when I would go a week - maybe more - without blogging. While I never quite felt okay about it, the lack of posts was either due to

a) my crazy, busy, hectic, out-of-control life and/or schedule

or

b) I simply had nothing interesting/worthy/"country enough" to write about.

But now...well...now I have readers. Readers who aren't related to me by blood. Readers in NC. SC. CA. NY. The Phillipines. Singapore. VA. IN. KS. MI. Australia. The list goes on. And with readers, comes responsibility. Hence why I am feeling pressure.

So I am sitting here, icing my throbbing left knee (ok - so I know I shouldn't have gone jogging yesterday but it was just SOOOOO glorious outside), watching Spider-Man on TNT (wow - these special effects aren't so special and could Kirsten Dunst scream any more in this movie and be any more annoying), and wondering what the Hell I can write about.

To further confuse things, I now think in 140-165 character increments i.e. I am so used to constantly Tweeting and/or updating my status on Facebook that I have almost - almost - forgotten what it is like to write in complete sentences.

Do you want to hear about my new obsession with Katy Perry? I doubt it...and it's kind of not "country." Actually - it's really not country at all but I suppose that's ok.

Do you want to hear how I gave Lucky a big hug yesterday and let her nuzzle on my neck and then found out about 2 hours later (when it was too late to do anything about it) that she had just been grazing in a giant patch of poison ivy?

Do you want to hear how me and my gal-pal Sarah Marie (who had some personal drama when she locked herself out of her apartment AND her roommate was out of town AND she was finally forced to meet her neighbors even though she's lived in the complex for 2 years) drove to Charlotte on Friday night in a monsoon but it was totally worth it because my friend Karen's show at Cosmos totally, totally rocks? (FYI - it's up all month so you locals - go check it out!)

Actually, I think I want to write about the completely awesome banana-chocolate-chip muffins I baked last night. For the record, what made them completely awesome was that I had 2 really overripe, mushy bananas leftover from when Marty made Bananas Foster the other week and they have been sitting on the counter just STARING at me. Practically DARING me to either throw them out or get my Betty Crocker on. So I got my Betty Crocker on and showed those bananas just who was in charge.

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...

Friday, April 10, 2009

Still Recovering...

Still Recovering From...

...the lunch stop from Hell at the barely-opened-and-not-fully-functional McDonald's off of Exit 92 near Gaffney on Wednesday.

...the Atlanta Aquarium during Spring Break (6 counties were off this week and I think they were all at the Aquarium yesterday).

...getting stuck on Clairmont Road during rush hour yesterday and having more-than-a-minor-melt-down when it took us 45 minutes to go 2.5 miles.

...2 EPIC seders in 2 back-to-back EPIC nights.

As such, I don't have the strength, will or emotional fortitude right now to blog. I will however acknowledge that our first Southern Seder featured sweet tea, sweet potatoes and peach kugel.

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

A Few of My Favorite Things II

So it's been a while since I have blogged about my favorite things. Over 2 months in fact. Part of it has to do with the fact, that frankly, nothing in particular has been so inspiring as to qualify as one of "My Favorite Things." I mean - really, how can you top the big cup at Bojangles?

But recently, I have developed fondness...dare I say love...for something else that actually warrants its own post.

I am going to backtrack by saying that I once had the dubious distinction of appearing in an infomercial. It was after college, and in an attempt to shed those pesky beer-and-pizza-and-Doritos-and-Tootsie pop-pounds that had accumulated senior year, I joined Exude, a fitness program in NYC that I read about in some magazine and that seemed to make sense.

And it did (make sense that is). I probably lost 10 or so pounds and more importantly than pounds, I shed inches. My body was transformed. So when Exude asked me to be one of the testimonials in their first infomercial,I said yes.

Sadly - I don't remember much about the experience - only what I wore - and the fact that I kind of danced around in a circle for a moment to show off my toned, svelte, figure. And I also remember people actually seeing me on TV at like, 3 in the morning. The weirdest was a shoe salesman at a very small and yet very prestigious shoe "boutique" whom I would see once a year when I would go in to make my annual purchase. That year, he told me had seen me on TV at an odd hour after having drunk several beers and the whole thing was rather peculiar.

So, infomercials. Yeah. I love them. Well - some of them. Aside from my own personal infomercial experience, I am a huge fan of Ron Popeil and his larger-than-life personality and all of his genius inventions. I have probably purchased at least 3 Showtime Rotisseries (they are the greatest indoor rotisserie ever) and I have always wanted to buy a chop-o-matic as well as one of those food dehydrators...

So the other night I found myself awake at 4am...tossing and turning. And so I flipped on the TV. It was one infomercial after another and all sucky ones at that. They all had to do with exercise or making money off the Internet or how males might enlarge a certain part of their body with the help of "real science." And while most of today's infomercials do suck, there is one out there that changed my life. Or at least my hair.

The InStyler. Marty and I watched the infomercial for the first time back in January and we immediately ordered two. Just watch the video: women with kinky/curly/frizzy/crazy-out-of-control hair use this device and instantaneously their locks are transformed into sleek, smooth coiffures. They can be straight, curled, flipped, flopped...this one little device does it all. Or so the video would have you believe.

It took me a while to get used to the InStyler. I struggled with whether or not to put the brush on the top or on the bottom? Did I flip under, or flip out? But with my latest haircut, courtesy of the one and only Miss Holly Perkins of Lincolnton, I find that the InStyler is doing wonders for my hair (one trick: go slowly in order to achieve the shiny, sleek look promoted on the infomercial).

So in a roundabout sort of way, I am adding the InStyler to the list of a Few of My Favorite Things.

What can I say - I style my hair with something sold on TV at 4 in the morning.

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...

Monday, April 06, 2009

In Celebration of Chrispy

I feel compelled to take a break from my regular blogging duties to celebrate the life of an extraordinary woman, Chris Mathna a.k.a Chrispy.

Chrispy was one of those people who simply radiated. She radiated light. She radiated warmth. She radiated goodness. She radiated strength. She was soulful and compassionate and tough and nurturing and bright and quirky and smart and intuitive and colorful and inspiring. You might think it's impossible for one woman to be so many things...but Chrispy - well Chrispy was all of those things and more.

For me personally, she was a friend and a summertime mom and a mentor. She touched me profoundly at a complicated time in my life (read: adolescence) when I needed guidance, when I needed encouragement, when I needed hope.

Although I hadn't spoken to Chrispy in years, I never forgot her, I never forgot the impact she had on my life, and I never, ever stopped loving her. She holds a special place in my heart to this day...and always will.

And I am not the only one. For a small glimpse into how she impacted lives, read her online Legacy Guest Book.

I thought about starting out this post talking about loss, but then I realized that wasn't Chrispy's style. So rather than mourn, I choose to celebrate the life of an amazing soul and a wonderful woman.

Here's to you Chrispy. Here's to you...

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Live-Blogging the Academy of Country Music Awards

Pre-Show:

I can’t believe I am actually going to live-blog an awards show and frankly, I am glad I had a chance to live-blog Idol earlier this week because I now feel slightly better prepared. Truth be told, live-blogging takes energy and focus and is not for the faint of heart. You are trying to simultaneously pay attention to what’s going on real-time while still write whatever genius/random/brilliant/hysterical thought has just popped into your head and formulate the next one. And if you’re me, you are doing all of this and trying not to get too distracted by Facebook or Twitter or email or your cat who insists on coming in and out of the house every 10 minutes.

At least as for this live-blog, I am clearly much more prepared and organized than Idol. I have been semi- situated since 7pm, watching Dolly Parton on 60 Minutes and gearing up for my first ever live-blog of an awards show. I am also, for the record, in costume. I don’t know why (since none of you can see me) but I felt compelled to bust out my pink cowboy hat and it’s now perched jauntily atop my head. Marty will tell you it’s not a real cowboy hat and to some extent he’s right. It’s by Eugenia Kim and was purchased at a very trendy boutique on the Lower East Side of Manhattan back in 1999 (probably when SJP was donning cowboy hats on SATC) and it’s not the sort of hat you’d see an actual Cowboy or Cowgirl wear (although I have one of those too except it’s gathering dust in someone’s attic in Houston). However, it feels appropriately festive for the occasion and so I am wearing it.

Now…onto the Academy of Country Music Awards…

8:00pm Live...from Las Vegas? Not exactly "Country" but I suppose it makes sense given the spangle quotient.

8:02pm I don't know whether to give Taylor Swift props for not lip synching a la Ashley Simpson or to bemoan the fact that she really does not have a good voice. She probably wouldn't make it into the Top 24 on Idol. That said, I still love her and I love Fearless. She really does sound better produced.

8:04pm I suspect the Fug Girls will have a field day with Carrie's opening number outfit which is sadly unfortunate...And I am realizing at this pace that 3 hours of live-blogging is going to get very long, very quick.

8:06pm Is Matthew McConaughey trying to be the Jack Nicholson of the ACMs...because really, there is only ONE JACK and I guarantee you he's not in Las Vegas tonight.

8:14pm Kenny Chesney has won Entertainer of the Year 4 years in a row? Seriously? My cousin Kelly sings better than him...and I am not just saying that because he's my cousin!

8:28pm: Rascal Flatts just won the Vocal Group of the year ACM award. No shocker. I have recently come to a new conclusion about Rascal Flatts, a band who up until now, I have not really cared for and who have utterly baffled me. So hypothetically speaking, let’s say that lead singer Gary LeVox were to commit some sort of crime (other than his singing) and find himself in prison. And let’s say that we become Facebook friends during his incarceration. And then let’s say that a month before his release from his Seattle-based prison, he asks me, his new FBBFF, to meet him at the train station upon his release so I can finally bring him home. And then, continuing with this hypothetical train of thought, let’s say that I get drunk the day that Gary gets out of prison. And I go to pick him up in the rain (because after all, it is Seattle). But before I can get to the station in my pick-up truck…he gets run over by a damned old train. And then let’s say that Rascal Flatts hires Danny Gokey to be their new lead vocalist. I think that while I would likely mourn the loss of my good friend Gary, I would probably start listening to Rascal Flatts.

8:35pm I am trying not to hate Toby Keith for being a complete and utter sexist pig because I LOVE this song.

8:49pm Jamie Foxx is delivering a much needed humor quotient. And he is getting ready to introduce (I think) the GOD of country music.

8:50pm I am all vklempt. Jamie and George are BFF? Are they FB-BFF? And how handsome is George? And how good does he sound? So many of these singers only sound good "produced." George sounds good au natural. He just is...perfection. He is...heaven. Heaven on this night. I heart George.

8:52pm Carrie Underwood has changed. Into what- I can not tell.

8:54pm Julianne Hough just won best new artist? Now I get why people can't stand what's played on today's country radio. Then again, this was a fan vote. Explains a lot. Have you seen Zac Brown Band??

9:02pm David Copperfield's "introduction" of Taylor Swift wins the cheesiest moment of the night award. However, Taylor actually sounds good. This song might actually be in her range. Maybe.

9:17pm Best vocal performance of the night goes (sorry George) to Lee Ann Womack. Bar none.

9:19pm What is Kaley Kuoco doing on this show? And WTF is she wearing?

9:21pm Love Jennifer Nettles. She just said "We ain't never thanked them before" in reference to someone. Ain't never. Thanks for keeping it country Jen.

9:25pm Keith Urban - please explain to me: how do you go from Australia to Nashville? I must know. And for the record, why don't I have any Keith on my iPod? I think this must be changed...ASAP.

9:37pm LeAnn Rimes is definitely working the micro-mini. Who knew a humanitarian could be so hot!

9:47pm Billy Ray is so glad he exploited his daughter into stardom so he could have a second career. Sorry - a 3rd. Anyone remember Doc on Pax?

9:48pm For the record, Miley IS lip-synching. Totally.

9:52pm Miley's performance tops David Copperfield's intro of Taylor Swift as cheesiest moment of the night. It might have been the Xanadu leggings. I just don't know.

10:00pm Carrie Underwood needs a stylist. And a sandwich. I think her dress must outweigh her 3 to 1.

10:12pm So for the recored - Reba McEntire has been an awesome host thus far. And she can sing. And she's got good comedic timing. And she can rock skin tight leather pants like no one else!!

10:17pm I love Carrie Underwood...and I love her for giving props to God and American Idol and the Fans all in one breath. All while looking like Disco Barbie.

10:32pm Ok - I am totally downloading Sugarland's What I'd Give. And for the record, I want to be Jennifer Nettles. She kicks ass. And can sing. And says "ain't" on public television.

10:36pm Trace Adkins - I love that you're an idiot too. You're Gonna Miss This is a fabulous song. No matter where you are in the parenthood cycle.

10:43pm Yes Reba - I agree. Blake Shelton is sexy. And he sounds pretty damn good too.

10:46pm Taylor Swift just beat out George Strait AND Carrie Underwood (among others) for album of the year. I don't know what to say. I really don't.

10:47pm Torture. The Danny Gokey-less Rascal Flatts is performing.

10:51pm Still being tortured.

10:59pm And the ACM Entertainer of the Year is...CARRIE UNDERWOOD. WOO-HOO.

I'm beat. It's been a helluva night.

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Where Art and Technology Meet

So here's the thing - this post is simply not coming together in my head the way I need it to. I am trying to be clever and witty and weave in some tidbits from childhood that you might find interesting but to be honest, it ain't happening. I suppose my choices are as follows:

1) Noodle on this post a little longer and hope that the cogs in my brain finally unstick and I can express myself in the most genius fashion ever.

2) Spell it out in plain English.

I am opting for choice #2 because even though my calendar is "empty" today, I have a shitload to do and feel like I need to push forward with my day.

So, most importantly, what I wanted to do today, was to do some more shameless promoting of a loved-one. This time, for Karen Banker, who is a dear friend, my own personal consigliere in most life-related matters, and one helluva an artist.

Karen currently has a one-woman show, Thought For Food, at the Microcosom Art Gallery located in Cosmos Cafe in Uptown Charlotte on the corner of 6th & College Streets. The exhibit runs from April 1 - April 30 and this coming Friday, April 10th, there will be a reception from 6 - 10 featuring complimentary food and wine. I highly encourage all of you to go check out the show. Karen is extremely talented and I promise, you won't be disappointed.

Speaking of artistic abilities, I thought that I had some. I really did. I have always been a creative person and as a kid my hands were permanently stained with ink or dye or paint because I was always, always, always doing something arts & crafts related. Most kids went Christmas shopping at Toys R Us. Mom took me to Lee's, a professional art supply store on West 57th, where I would stock up on every kind of marker, paint, pastel and pencil available.

As for the quality of my work...well, I was a child and I personally believe that you never, ever, ever squash a child's dream and I suppose my parents did too because I was always told that I was good. Talented. Artsy.

But now...well, now I am feeling rather frustrated. And I don't know if it's due to my own lack of artistic abilities, or the fact that I feel severely hamstrung by my lack of technological knowledge.

I am trying to redesign my blog. I know it won't happen in a day. And I know it won't happen within the confines of Blogger (which is great but also somewhat limiting in terms of color choices, font choices, design elements, etc.). But every time I visit a "professional blog" (see my new blogroll for some of my favorites - professional and otherwise) I get an itch to kick ITAC up about 100 notches in the look and feel department.

So I started out small this morning, by trying to fool with the template and some of the color and font choices (again - so limited). I only meant to spend a wee bit of time...but it's now after 12pm and I have been at this since 10am. And I am still not satisfied.

After several frustrating hours, I left it at the point where the blog felt readable and unoffensive aesthetically. But as I said, using a Blogger template sort of limits you in the layout department (Why must my 800 labels appear in one long column? Why can't I change this? And why can't I have 2 separate sidebars? And how do I add borders? ARGH!), unless you can manipulate the code, and I don't know code. Clearly. Hence - where Art and Technology meet.

So bear with me as ITAC continues to undergo a redesign. And in the meantime, as I said, if you really want to see some awesome art, check out Karen's show in Charlotte.

Now I have to go tend to my farm.

And if that ain't country. I'll kiss your...

Thursday, April 02, 2009

If You Tweet, They Will Follow

Meet Twitter - my newest obsession in the social networking landscape.

It all started back in January when I got on Facebook. Now I'll admit, Facebook started out as a way to reconnect with long lost friends - people I had gone to nursery school with, people I had spent the summer with, even people who I had gone to high school with. Early days were sent messaging friends with updates on where I was (a farm in rural NC) and how I got here (long, long story).

But then my involvement with Facebook began to grow. For starters, there was the "status update" feature. On the original Facebook (and for you non-FB users it has recently been changed) there was a place to type no more than 165 characters (I think) that answered the question: What are you doing right now? The answer would then be published as John Jack Smith is....fill in the blank.

FB users are probably rolling their eyes at me right now...but to clue you non-FB users in - here are some of my original "status updates" (as I remember them - scrolling back that far through all of my FB activity would take eons...)

Sarah is wondering what is the difference between English Breakfast and Irish Breakfast?

Sarah hates going out the pasture in the morning and having to crack through frozen water troughs.

Sarah is wondering if John Thain and Dennis Koslowski used the same decorator?

Sarah is cranky.

Sarah is running.

Sarah is running late.

So you get the point. Status updates are random at best and to me, at least, were (and still are) a way to share those random thoughts that pop into your head as they actually pop into your head. There's no limit on how often you can post updates or how many a updates you can post a day...

...that is...

unless someone you know and love tells you otherwise.

Ok, so perhaps I was a little "status update happy" during my early FB days. It was new and I was sort of on a FB high (kind of like a shoppers high in the sheer mania of it all) and every time something occurred to me, I would share it.

But after feeling slightly judged on FB (which is crazy - because in truth there is such a wide range of status updaters on FB that there is no normal), I turned to Twitter. After all, wasn't Twitter essentially the FB status update stripped down? Remove all the other crap about FB (and I love all that other crap for the record), isolate the brief (in Twitter's case 140 characters) what's on your mind/what are you doing premise and allow you to send out these brief messages all day, every day to anyone who would listen?

Ah. Who is listening? There's the trick with Twitter. So I signed up for Twitter but didn't do anything with it because...while on FB you have friends, on Twitter you have followers. And while I knew how to make friends on FB, I had no idea how to amass followers on Twitter. It's a much more anonymous network. And if I Tweeted on Twitter without followers - what would it mean? Sort of like - if a tree falls in the forest but no one is around, does it make a sound?

But then one day I was meeting with a very respectable attorney in Charlotte and he told me he was on Twitter. For work of course (he studies social networking from a legal perspective - among other things) but still...he was on Twitter. I told him my fears about Tweeting without followers.

If you Tweet, they will follow.

That was what he told me.

And so I started Tweeting.

I currently have 19 followers. I know most of them, but not all of them. I don't know how many of them actually follow "me" (one of my followers follows 1,986 Tweeters - I can't imagine he reads every Tweet) but I have been Tweeting on a regular basis since around 11pm on Friday night. I love it. Frankly, I am obsessed.

So, for an even further glimpse into the strange and sometimes genius workings of my mind, check out my Twitter profile and sign up to follow me. You can also click on the link from the ITAC home page.

I go by the name rougeneck, and my brief bio describes me as "Goat mama who loves NASCAR & country music but still wears Dolce & Gabanna."

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...