30 May 2006

We Lost One of the Great Ones Today

Bopper Edge-Taylor passed away at 11 a.m. today. He was a friend of mine for 18 years, since I first met the then-frisky kitten at Renae’s apartment in Madison, Wisconsin. Bopper had more personality and intelligence than most people I know, and Bridgeport’s going to be a little gray without him. Renae, Greg, and Molly, my heart goes out to you.

Bopper, March 2005
Playing with the ribbon curtains that inspired
Renae’s photo series

We’ve lost a lot of great ones in the last year, so today’s post also is dedicated to you and your cats or dogs.

And I haven’t given up hope that Sammy’s coming home.

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29 May 2006

Musings on a Memorable Memorial Day Weekend

There’s nothing better for the overworked soul than a three-day weekend … except for that clutch in the stomach around 5 p.m. Monday when you realize it’s nearly time to head back to your desk. (I really need to pursue my lottery retirement plan.)

I had a glorious weekend, although it was a bit too hot for me. Among the highlights:
… damn good sushi with my niece …
… watching my nephew master his hacky sack …
… cocktails and lounging with my out-of-towner …
… a Beatles tribute band, with a bit too much wine and beer …
… a fun afternoon tea at a friend’s — mimosas, girlie sandwiches and gooey sweets, rambling and entertaining conversation …
… a drunken cry about OM with my brother (we both needed it) …
… coffee with condo negotiations …
… mediocre yet entertaining movies …
… family dinner at Red Lobster. I don’t even know the last time I ate at a Red Lobster, but it was good …

Hope your holiday weekend was wonderful, too. At least we’re going back to a short work week.

Speaking of going back to work, GOOD LUCK to Paige on her first day at her new job, as ministry asssistant for the new Home Life minister at our church. I know she’ll bring a lot to the position. It will be interesting to see where this path takes her.

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27 May 2006

Best TV Moment of the Year

... and I nearly missed it. Thank God the "American Idol" finale is a news story big enough to be covered during the first 30 minutes of "Today" (a rant for another day) which ran the clip of David Hasselhoff crying as the winner was announced:

It's moments like this that make me glad I pay too much for cable.

Have a wonderful, decadent, lazy Memorial Day weekend!

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26 May 2006

Happy birthday, Ruth!

It sucks when one of your favorite hanging buddies moves to another city. Ruth left Atlanta about 10 years ago for the D.C. area. Life in our nation’s capital has been an adventure for her, but I miss having her here. At least I get to see her in D.C. every year or two.

Ruth and me, New Year’s Eve 1989, at Mary and Sidell’s place*
Yes, it was the eighties — when fashion was fabulous!
Check out my earrings (still have 'em)! Look at that eye shadow!
Why didn't anyone tell me to put down the wand?

It's Ruth’s birthday today. We had some great birthday celebrations during her Atlanta tenure; I hope her D.C. friends throw a big one for her this weekend. I’m sure she’ll spend the day turning heads and breaking hearts. Wish I could be there with her to toast her — but I’ll hoist one (or four) in Atlanta in her honor.

Happy birthday, Ruth! I love you and miss you … I hope your MBA is now clutched firmly in your hand … and I pray that this year is the start of a great phase in your life. Now, get out there tonight and scandalize me!

* RUTH: This is the only photo I have of you, except for one with you and Brad. I have plenty of photos of Walter, “Power of Attorney” displays, Bob Keegan, Julie Hayden, Brad by himself — but just two of you. We need to remedy that next time I’m in D.C.

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25 May 2006

Grammar Grrrl Hits the Big O

I taught another new class yesterday — a grammar review and a how-to on writing business e-mail — and the results from the pilot were amazing, surpassing April’s technical writing class. My evaluation score? On a 10-point scale, my class rated me a 9.86. Even got a standing ovation from them. I have to admit, I was on fire. I was funny, I was in the zone, I had them eating out of the palm of my hand — and on one hour of sleep, no less.

I hate to bare my geeky side to the world, but grammar turns me on. My grammar porn excites me. I subscribe to two word-a-day blasts. I eagerly await the arrival of my weekly grammar newsgroup bulletin. My red pen and well-worn AP Stylebook are always within reach, ready to play. A heated discussion on a misused quotation mark, and I can go all night, deeper and longer than you ever dreamed was punctuationally possible. I’m getting flushed just thinking about it.

So, to be in front of a group of people, talking about the comma … the difference between “that,” “which, and “who” … trimming the fat from a sentence … well, I became a bit of an exhibitionist. I flirted. I teased. I spilled deep, dark grammar secrets (yes, sometimes I do edit the wannabeau’s e-mails when I reply). And I nailed it. It was a lot of work developing the course — I’m a copywriter, not a trainer — but damn, it was fun. I even slipped in R.E.M. and Elvis references.

Off to smoke a ciggie and enjoy the afterglow of a great grammar session …

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24 May 2006

Happy birthday, Randy!

Today is the birthday of my dear friend Randy, another auspicious member of the Campbell High School Class of ’77.

Randy and I have been friends since we met in Mr. Diffley’s homeroom at Nash Junior High. He was the coolest boy in the class, and I was shy and in awe of that wild boy — and, I must brag, the only girl in our homeroom who admitted getting the joke in Pussy Galore’s name. I sat behind him in Mrs. Sellers' science class, where we became buddies.

But we actually met years earlier. Randy and I went to kindergarten together at Kiddie Dude Ranch — the coolest-named school on the East Coast. (And somewhere, Randy, I have our group graduation photo; I’ll have it ready for next year’s birthday post. Holly, he looks so cute in his little suit!)

Randy was one of my favorite people in high school. I spent four years in homeroom with him and David (the tall guy in the courtyard photo; we need to find him). Early in our freshman year, Randy cracked a slightly dirty joke (probably his Pledge of Allegiance “stance”) … I blushed … and after that those two spent every homeroom trying to embarrass me. Well, within a couple of months, my sailor mouth was popping back with the filthies — and a deep, lifelong friendship was born. If I were a cruel person, I’d spill the “Baretta” and Fonzie beans … but I’ll take the high road since I'd hate to tarnish his level of cool.

On the senior courtyard (June 1977).
Randy's sitting in the center, with me on his right. The ever-laughing Janice is standing at the other end, with David behind her.

Randy helped me master the Southern art of holding your beer — in his very cool Datsun 240Z, no less — and introduced me to Lou Reed. To this day, whenever I hear “Walk on the Wild Side,” I think of cruising in that cool white sports car, sucking down a can of beer, and laughing with Randy.

He also had the coolest parents around. Parties at his house were always fun, and I always felt comfortable if I just stopped by.

The summer before our senior year, he developed a crush on Holly, who’s been my friend since the fourth grade. I had a very light hand in getting them together (and back together). I was proud to sit with his parents at Holly and Randy’s wedding in 1983. A very small affair, it was one of the most romantic, beautiful weddings I’ve ever attended. They have a great, happy marriage, and they still glow when they're together. I love hanging out with them; it’s so convenient when your friends marry.

Holly and Randy at Renae and Greg's wedding (Feb. 1991)

Randy and I shared classes, test answers, and lots of beer at Georgia State … many a drunken night at The Launching Pad … and numerous dramas throughout my single life. He and Holly now live on a lake, and they're taking life easier these days. Who wouldn't, with a fabulous house on the lake?

When OM died last August, Holly and Randy were among the first friends to come by. Always a smart businessman, he mailed that day’s Wall Street Journal to my mom, so that she’d have the latest stock and financial info on hand once she started working on my dad’s estate. He had lost his dad a few years earlier, and knew what we’d need. It was one of the sweetest things anyone did for us during that rough time.

With his nephew at that fabulous lake house

Randy, we’ll never agree on politics, but I’ll always dearly love you (and your dirty martinis). I look forward to growing old with you and Holly and Renae and Greg.

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23 May 2006

Fox Family Film Festival

My favorite alliterated festival recently announced its 2006 summer film schedule. The Fabulous Fox has added wine tastings at 5:30 — and it’s just not summer in Atlanta without the MIGHTY "MO" organ concert and sing-a-long.

I want to see these movies; let me know if you'd like to go with me:

The Chronicles of Narnia: June 26 @ 8 p.m.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: July 17 @ 8 p.m.

V for Vendetta: July 31 @ 8 p.m.

Maltese Falcon and Key Largo: August 3 @ 8 p.m.

Pride and Prejudice: August 6 @ 7 p.m.

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22 May 2006

Art and Culture in the ’burbs

I spent Saturday in Roswell, spending scads of money and soaking up The Bard. We started at the arts festival on the square, spending much of the afternoon strolling through booths and enriching the local arts community. It was one of the best festivals I’ve been to in ages. There were several good artists showing great work. I found one beautiful, dramatic piece I’m considering in case I turn my reading room back into a dining room. Jayne bought three pieces, and each one looks beautiful on her walls. And the baubles! We both went nuts. I bought two fabulous necklaces, two great pairs of earrings, and a funky bracelet. Now I need new outfits to showcase them. I even got some sun ... but my hint of a tan has already faded.

That evening, we saw Love’s Labour's Lost, performed by the North Fulton Drama Club on the back lawn of Barrington Hall, across the street from the Roswell square. If I’m not mistaken, the North Fulton Drama Club is new, and this was their first production. They did a great job. The cast was really into it, and their enthusiasm and spirit of fun spilled into the audience. I thoroughly enjoyed the performance. I thought Scrivener, playing Holofernes, stole the show (sorry I forgot to yell “crab”) — or maybe that’s because he’s the only one I (virtually) knew in the cast. The production was set in 1963, which added a fun twist (and great music) to the farce. It was cool sitting in lawn chairs, enjoying the spring evening, and watching a Shakespeare play. A perfect end to a beautiful spring day.

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19 May 2006

The Before-I-die Top 10 List

My cousin Marni recently asked me what 10 things I want to do before I die. It’s a good question. I answered her with some could-happens and some in-your-dreams. But I’ve been thinking about that question since she asked. So, dear readers, here’s my list:

1. Fall madly in love at least one more time

2. Write a novel and have it published

3. Learn how to play the guitar

4. Support myself solely on freelance work

5. Drive across the country, without a planned itinerary

6. Visit Australia, New Zealand, Asia, Africa, South America, and Latin America (OK: the world)

7. Live in Manhattan for a year

8. Get in shape — and stay in shape

9. Read all the books I own

10. Become friends with Michael Stipe and/or Peter Buck (OK, so this is an in-your-dreams … but a girl needs her fantasies in order to stay young, right?)

I’m interested to know what things you most want to do in your life. Drop a note in the comment box or send me an e-mail.

BTW: I’m about to start working with my own life coach on work/life balance, so I may be able to start checking off some of these in the next year.

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17 May 2006

Craigslist Connects

The coolest thing happened today. I went on craigslist last night to look for some sold-out concert tickets. Saw the price I wanted, sent the e-mail, and waited. First thing this morning, I get an e-mail: sold. Damn. I then noticed from his e-mail address that he works in my industry. Ours is a little-known industry in the area; you almost have to work in it to know we exist. So I replied and told him where I work. We e-mailed back and forth today, talking about our industry (we’re both professional anomalies in our companies), music, where we grew up, things like that. And then I mentioned the great love of my life — which, dear readers, you know is R.E.M. — and damn if he doesn’t know someone who works for them! He sent me this photo as proof (I cropped out most of his face for this post):

Notice the engraving on the Grammy … the MTV Moon Man award in the background … the framed CDs … he’s in their freakin’ office, holding their Best Alternative Album Grammy for Out of Time!!!! So damn cool; he's my new hero. I may have to milk New Industry Buddy for all he’s worth so that he can help me fulfill my life’s dream to be Peter Buck’s best friend.

He seems like a pretty interesting guy. And you know I can never have too many male buddies for e-mail chatting (although you'll always be #1, Paulie).

Anyway, it was a great distraction on a crappy day. Damn, I love the Internet.

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Be Careful Who You Google

Insomnia stretches through another night. There’s not much to do at 3 a.m. I’m too restless to watch a movie, too restless to read a book. Hell, I’m too restless to read Entertainment Weekly. So, to pass the early-morning hours, I go to Google — that great friend of insomniacs the world over — and look up old beaux, long-lost friends, people I just kind of know. Deep down, I must have known what I was looking for. But it still stopped my heart cold. Someone I thought I knew … someone I adored and confided in and leaned on … someone I trusted completely … so not the person I thought. Lies. Bald-face lies. Just a common, mediocre, selfish, not-so-special person.

I’ve always been too naïve and trusting. I know that. But I thought I’d grown smart, that my intuitions were dead-on, when it came to those who get close. Dumb girl, once again. I put too many people on pedestals.

Don’t worry; I won’t go all can’t-trust-anyone on you. And this is not something I want to talk about; in fact, I turned off the comments option for this post. I need to deal with this on my own.

But you've been warned: Don't Google 'em unless you really want to know.

16 May 2006

Brilliant minds think alike

Hope you noticed my SAVE THE INTERNET banner to the right. Intrigued? Click the banner to learn more.

Anyway, I surfed over to REMHQ.com, and my boys are just as concerned:

R.E.M. has joined a growing coalition of Artists and Musicians for Internet Freedom who have signed the SavetheInternet.com Coalition’s petition to Congress. The petition is being circulated in response to a large telecommunications bill Congress will soon vote on, one part of which would gut Network Neutrality — the Internet’s First Amendment and the key to Internet freedom.

Net Neutrality is the long-held principle that all online speech is treated equally. It levels the Internet playing field, ensuring that small music blogs and independent news sites open just as easily on your computer as large corporate sites. It allows every voice to be heard by thousands, even millions, of people (Click here to read an article by Robert Reich in American Prospect for background).

This freedom is currently under threat. The nation’s largest phone and cable companies are spending millions pressuring Congress to let them decide which Web sites work best on your computer based on which corporations pay them the most! If Congress caves, consumer choice will be limited, the free flow of information will be choked off, and the free and open Internet will become a private toll road managed by these large companies.

With a vote in Congress coming soon, your support in favor of Net Neutrality is crucial. Please take a minute to watch this enlightening video, which clearly explains the Net Neutrality issue. Then, join over 650,000 others in fighting back.

Please urge Congress to preserve a free and open Internet. Call or email your Congressman to vote for enforceable network neutrality and keep tollbooths, gatekeepers, and discrimination off the Internet.

If you feel strongly about this issue or want to find out more, click the banner to see what you can do.

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15 May 2006

Concert Review: Elvis Costello with the ASO

We saw Elvis Costello with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Saturday night at the Fox. It was a great, cool, different show. The show began with the ASO playing selections from Il Sogno, which Elvis composed for an Italian ballet company’s performance of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” I’m not a classical music expert, so I can’t really say if Il Sogno is brilliant or mediocre. I enjoy listening to the album, and I thought the ASO did a great job.

A tuxedoed Elvis Costello bound onstage after that, kicking off the show with a great acoustic version of “Veronica” — accompanied by the ASO and Elvis’ longtime friend and pianist, Steve Nieve.

Elvis Costello performs on the Fox stage. That's Steve Nieve on piano.

Actually, his entire set was great. Fantastic versions of “Almost Blue,” “God Give Me Strength,” “Watching the Detectives,” “Almost Blue,” “My Flame Burns Blue” and “She,” among others. My favorite was “Alison,” an arrangement that weaves in bits of “The Tracks of My Tears.” We heard him perform this version at the Masquerade concert last spring, but it was a different song with the ASO.

Elvis seemed to have a great time, too. He has the jazz-singer moves down pat, and was so f’ing cool and funny and charming. We sat fourth row center, so we got to enjoy him up close; Diana Krall is the lucky one in that pairing.

As at all concerts, Interpretive Dance Chick was on the first row; however, she sat in her seat, so the interpretive dance lost a bit of its impact in her drunken translation; it was really just weird arm-waving. Added to the ambience, though.

One thing I love about seeing Elvis Costello is every show is different. He’s all over the map musically these days, and each show leaves you feeling like you just saw another facet of his personality. I'm lucky to have seen his show at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium during his "Almost Blue" country tour in 1982 or 1983, and I've missed very few of his Atlanta appearances since then. Elvis said he’ll be back in mid-July, appearing at Chastain with Allen Touissaint. I’ll be there.

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Mama, Elvis, and unexpected sunshine

Wasn’t it a great spring weekend? The weather was better than expected, and everyone everywhere seemed to be in a great mood.

We celebrated Mother’s Day on Friday night since Mama and Lauren were headed to Italy the next day. It was one of our best family get-togethers in a while. Paige and Richard have the perfect house for casual entertaining, and they’re great hosts. They set up the patio with bistro tables, beautifully decorated with springtime plates and fresh tulips. We had barbecue, my first corn on the cob of the season, Buck’s homemade sangria — yum! Paige tuned her satellite radio to the 1960s station, and they played three hours of great music — I even got Matthew to dance with me for part of a song. Maybe it was the flowing sangria and lemonade with citron vodka, but everyone had a good time.

Karen and I saw Elvis Costello with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra at the Fox Theater on Saturday night. Review to come later this evening — but I will tell you it was a great concert. Elvis never lets me down. After the show, I got to do one of my favorite springtime-in-Atlanta things: drive from one end of Peachtree to the other, with my sunroof open and the music blasting. And got home in time to catch the late-night showing of “Bridget Jones’s Diary”!

I spent the rest of the weekend on my deck — reading, relaxing, ruminating about different things going on. Hope your weekend was as good as mine!

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13 May 2006

Big date tonight

I'm spending this evening with Elvis Costello, who's performing with the Atlanta Symphony orchestra at the Fox Theater. They'll perform his symphony Il Sogno, a score he composed for an Italian ballet company's performance of Shakespeare's A Midsummer's Night Dream. He'll then perform some of his hits and favorite tunes. And we have seats on the fourth row! This will be the third time in a year that Karen and I have seen Elvis Costello. Every show is different, and he has a great onstage personality. And his music ain't bad, either. I can't wait for 8 p.m.!

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Mama and Lauren leave today for 10 days in Italy. I know they'll have a great time — Mama's the best Italian tour guide there is, and you can't have a boring day with Lauren. Just wish I could go with them!

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12 May 2006

Doesn't this scare you?

From today's Democracy Now broadcast:

Three Major Telecom Companies Help U.S. Government Spy on Millions of Americans

USA Today has revealed the National Security Agency is secretly collecting the phone call records of millions of Americans with the help of AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth. For the customers of these companies, it means that the government has detailed records of calls they made to family members, co-workers, business contacts and others. One source told the paper that the NSA is attempting to create the world's largest database — big enough to include every call ever made within the nation's borders.

USA Today has revealed the National Security Agency is secretly collecting the phone call records of millions of Americans with the help of AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth. For the customers of these companies, it means that the government has detailed records of calls they made to family members, co-workers, business contacts and others. One source told the paper that the NSA is attempting to create the world’s largest database — big enough to include every call ever made within the nation’s borders.

This spy program is far more expansive than what the White House has acknowledged. Last year, President Bush admitted he had authorized the NSA to eavesdrop — without warrants — on calls and e-mails of people suspected of having links to terrorists.

On Thursday, President Bush discussed the NSA’s spy operations but did not directly address the report in USA Today that the NSA was creating a database of phone call records.

President Bush: Today there are new claims about other ways we are tracking down al Qaeda to prevent attacks on America. I want to make some important points about what the government is doing, and what the government is not doing. First, our intelligence activities strictly target al Qaeda and their known affiliates. Al Qaeda is our enemy, and we want to know their plans. Second, the government does not listen to domestic phone calls without court approval. Third, the intelligence activities I authorized are lawful and have been briefed to appropriate members of congress, both Republican and Democrat. Fourth, the privacy of ordinary Americans is fiercely protected in all our activities. We're not mining or trolling through the personal lives of millions of innocent Americans.

On Capitol Hill, Pennsylvania Republican Arlen Specter — Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee — announced he would call officials from AT&T, Verizon and Bell South to appear before the panel for questioning. Meanwhile there have been a number of other developments about the NSA's spy program.

On Wednesday the Justice Department announced it had to close an investigation into the NSA's domestic spy program because the NSA had refused to grant investigators security clearances.

On Monday, President Bush nominated General Michael Hayden to become the next director of the CIA. Hayden was the head of the NSA in 2001 when President Bush ordered the agency to begin warrant-less spying of Americans.

General Hayden spoke with reporters yesterday about the NSA spying program.

Michael Hayden: Everything that NSA done is lawful and carefully done and the appropriate members of congress, the house and senate are briefed on all NSA activities and I will just leave it at that.

But the NSA spy program is even being criticized by former top NSA officials. On Monday the agency's former Director Bobby Ray Inman said “this activity is not authorized.”

To purchase an audio or video copy of this entire program, click here for Democracy Now’s online ordering or call 1 (888) 999-3877.

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11 May 2006

Still kicking myself

I April-fooled myself about six weeks ago, not trusting my instincts to go see The Minute 5 in Athens and thus missing the R.E.M. reunion.

It helps a wee bit, though, to watch this video of Michael Stipe, Peter Buck, Mike Mills, and Bill Berry performing "Country Feedback."

Enjoy it, if you love the boys like I do.

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09 May 2006

What a finale!

I love Gilmore Girls.* It’s one of three or four shows I never miss. I like the snappy dialog and pop-culture references. I like the characters, the story lines, the music. I want to live in Stars Hollow. One of town’s biggest selling points is the town’s troubadour, played by the wonderful Grant-Lee Phillips; I need to live in a town that has a troubadour performing in the town square. Grant-Lee’s troubadourness played a role in tonight’s season finale. If you love music, I hope you caught the show.

The back story: Neil Young’s road manager heard the town’s troubadour playing, so he hired him to open on Neil’s tour. That news brought troubadours far and wide to Stars Hollow to play and get noticed — and they were played by some of the greats. Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon, with daughter Coco (Pitchfork has photos)! Sam Phillips (who performs a lot of the show’s tunes)! Yo La Tengo! Joe Pernice! There were more musicians, but these are the artists I recognized from my playlists.

Oh, yeah, and things aren't going well with Lorelai and Luke, and she may have slept with Christopher.

I’ll miss my Tuesday night TV-fest for the next few months — but what a great way to end the season.

*And Yo La Tengo's James McNew agrees with me.

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Food, wine, and friendship

Had dinner last night at one of my favorite places with one of my favorite people: on the front porch at Rice (the original Roswell location) with Holly. I had a wonderful panang with pork … we shared a bottle of a good Spanish white wine … we laughed and cried … we talked about deep topics and silly things. I love nothing more than going out to lunch or dinner with a friend; it’s a great way to connect and relax. I’ve been under a lot of stress and had a bit of the blues lately, and I left Holly feeling better than I have in weeks. ----------------------
Holly’s shadow — I love this photo!

Holly is one of my dearest friends in the world. She doesn’t allow me to use the tagline “one of my oldest friends” … so I’ll just say that we’ve been friends since the fourth grade. Holly’s married to another of my favorite people — Randy — the coolest, wildest boy in the seventh grade. Who would have guessed that he’d turn out to be the best husband in our graduating class?

Holly, me and Randy at Vinocity on my birthday.
Doesn't the scarf looks good?

I’m very lucky to still be close to the friends I grew up with, and I value our times together. Thanks for a great evening, Holly! Next time, I’ll come up to the lake.

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08 May 2006

Come back to me!

What the heck has Style Network done with "Isaac"? I like to come home and cook dinner while watching the 7 p.m. showing of Isaac Mizrahi's talk show. It has everything a woman needs after a rough day at work: fashion and accessories, lightweight interviews, a wonderfully gay man who makes me laugh. Just shallow enough to be relaxing, just interesting enough to keep me watching. I especially miss Sketches & Answers. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it's because Isaac hasn't filmed any new episodes. Please don't let me down, Style! Bring back my 7 p.m. "Isaac"!

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07 May 2006

The great love of my life

I’m a single woman. Never married, never had children. But I haven’t regretted not having children because I’ve been blessed with the greatest niece and nephew (my brother’s kids). We’ve been close since they were born, and they have more than filled that gap.

Today’s is Lauren’s 19th birthday, so today’s post is all about her (Matthew, we’ll get to you later this summer).

Lauren has grown to be an amazing woman. She’s very smart, strong, opinionated, and funny. She has no fear, and lives her life to the fullest. Life will never be easy for her because she’s always going to take the harder road. And I think that’s one of the cool things about Lauren. Her life is going to be one big adventure.

Music plays as large a part of Lauren’s life, as it does in my life. Like me, she’s interested in all types of music — and, like me, she has a brain filled with music trivia that she feels she must share with everyone. We’ve seen some great concerts in the last few years — Prince, with Morris Day & The Time … David Bowie, with Stereophonics … Rilo Kiley, with The Brunettes. We’re going to see Beck next month.

Her friends are as important to her as her family, and she has a great group of friends.

Anna, Lauren and Hannah, at today's birthday celebration

Lauren and I have always had great times together, ever since she was a toddler. We share a lot of interests — music, art, movies, great earrings. I'm lucky that I get to spend a lot of time with her.

Our first trip to the Woodruff Arts Center (1988)

She’s become one of my favorite people to tour the High with. We first took her to the museum when she was in grammar school, to see the Matisse exhibit. We try to go about once a year these days. She has great insights about the art, and I love hearing her thoughts about the work.

At my desk during Bring Your Daughter to Work Day (1998)

My 40th birthday celebration, with Lauren, Matt and my Elvis cake

Lauren’s a great travel companion. We went to London, Paris and southwest France in 2001. Lauren and I were roomies in London and Paris, and had fun wandering the streets and taking in the sites.

On top of Arc du Triomph, in Paris (June 2001)

With Mom and OM in Mimizan, France (June 2001)

With Matthew in Biarritz, France (June 2001)

We went to Savannah for Mom’s birthday in January — Paige, Lauren, Mom and me. It was a great weekend, and we’re lucky that the grandmother, granddaughter and two aunts can spend a girls’ weekend together.

During Mom’s birthday trip to Savannah (January 2006)

Lauren is a beautiful, amazing woman. She’ll always be interesting, and I can’t wait to see where life takes her.

With Mom and OM at her baccalaureate service (May 2005)

Lauren and Mom are headed to Italy on Saturday. Can't wait to hear about those adventures!

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He's OK!

No brain surgery for Stones star

Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards does not need brain surgery after suffering a head injury.

Some reports speculated that the rock star would need blood to be drained from his brain after the accident on holiday in Fiji last week.

But spokeswoman Fran Curtis said: "He's feeling good and in good spirits."

Richards, 62, was flown to hospital in New Zealand after reportedly falling out of a tree. He was officially said to have suffered "mild concussion."

The band are due to start the European leg of their world tour in Barcelona on 27 May.


Ms Curtis said the concert would go ahead as planned but did not know when Richards would leave New Zealand.

The guitarist reportedly fell out of a coconut tree while staying at an exclusive resort in Fiji, although this has not been confirmed.

He was airlifted to Auckland's Ascot Hospital for observation last weekend, where he had a brain scan before being released earlier this week.

Richards, known for his hedonistic lifestyle, was voted rock's top hellraiser in a poll last year.

The Rolling Stones have already played in Japan, China, Australia and New Zealand as part of their A Bigger Bang world tour.

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06 May 2006

Clap for her!

As you read in a recent post, Renae had this piece accepted in the prestigious 57th Annual Art of the Northeast juried show:

Untitled (Ribbons 50605152)

The opening was last night — and her photograph won the Silvermine Community Association Award!

I wish I could express in a blog how proud I am of Renae. Two years ago, she was ending another year as department chair at her college, deciding at the last minute to let the chairmanship (and stress) go and serve just as a professor. This time last year, she began the ribbon series of photographs — and, 12 months later, has had a one-woman show and a piece in a juried exhibition. Isn't that amazing and inspiring?

Renae was born creative, artistic and talented. The difference is, now she now believes in herself, puts herself out there, and balances her work/art priorities. She’s taking risks and reaping the benefits she deserves. She’s a true inspiration — and one heck of a talented artist.

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04 May 2006

Nearly blind with jealousy

My eye doctor informed me last week that I’m not a candidate for LASIK eye surgery because I’m too darn farsighted. (To quote my eye doctor during my first visit with him: “Damn, you can’t see anything without glasses, can you?”) So, my life will remain encumbered with a contact case, eye drops and a pair of glasses, wherever I go.

To add salt to the eye-pride wound: My favorite man in D.C., French, had LASIK surgery on Tuesday. His eyes are about as bad as mine, but he’s nearsighted. French gave me the gory, step-by-step surgical details last night (hearing about the smell of a burning eyeball burning was a bit much, yet pretty cool); he’d probably love to tell you, too, if you’re interested.

That’s the handsome, 20/20 devil to the right, at Monticello in July 2004. A little before I took this photo, he shot that lovely picture of me at the top of the page.

Happy healing, French! Hope you’re reading the phone book by the weekend.

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Pray for his Lutheran soul

BREAKING NEWS: Keith Richards, the Rolling Stones guitarist, is facing an operation after suffering a brain hemorrhage in a fall, it was reported last night.

The 62-year-old musician has been told by doctors he needs to have blood drained from his skull after banging his head last week.

Richards was originally diagnosed with mild concussion after the accident at the Wakaya Club resort in Fiji.

But after he continued suffering dull headaches, doctors carried out further tests and it was revealed there was a small haemorrhage. It is understood that Richards has been told he will make a full recovery once the blood has been removed.

Mystery still surrounds exactly how Richards hurt his head. A spokeswoman has said only that he suffered a concussion. But it was widely reported that he fell out of a tree while climbing for coconuts with bandmate Ronnie Wood at the island resort.

Richards was treated in a Fiji hospital before being flown 1,500 miles to Ascot Hospital in Auckland, New Zealand, with his wife Patti for tests.

The Stones are due to start the European leg of their A Bigger Bang world tour in Barcelona on May 27.

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03 May 2006

I love Keith Richards

Always have. Not as much as Peter Buck or Michael Stipe, but Keith is high on the list. He’s cool, he’s rock ‘n’ roll, he’d be fun to hang with. And maybe you'll find this a bit gross, but I think he’s kind of cute; he definitely has his own style. And, damn, is he cool! Even Johnny Depp recognizes it, modeling his Jack Sparrow character after him.

Some of you have given me grief about yesterday’s post … so I thought I’d list some of my favorite things about Keith Richards and see if you come around:

His guitar work in “Jumping Jack Flash”; you really hear the Chuck Berry influence.

His solos with the Stones, especially “Happy” and “Little T&A.”

His quote about wife Patti Hansen in a Vanity Fair interview: "I just love the bitch." Coming from Keith, it’s a wonderfully romantic line; coming from the rest of you, not so much.

His Spanish guitar in “Almost Hear You Sigh” (and he looks cool in the video).

“Make No Mistake,” with Sarah Dash on backing vocals, from his solo album “Talk Is Cheap.” (That's Sarah Dash on "Gimme Shelter"; she was also a member of Labelle.)

The guitar in “She’s so Cold”; something about the way he plays the strings makes me think naughty thoughts that I'd best not mention here.

His friendship with Gram Parsons, and the music that came from it.

His not holding back on giving Mick shit for his tomcat ways and trying to be young.

The fact that he’s 61 years old and climbed a palm tree, fell out of the tree, then jumped on a jet ski. And, while he was in the hospital, he had three guitars brought in. Talk about your joie de vivre!

I saw this on a Rolling Stone board, I believe it’s from Christopher Sandford’s “Keith Richards: Satisfaction.”

Richards married for the first and only time on his 40th birthday in 1983, and it probably saved his life. His bride was the 27-year-old Patti Hansen, a home-town girl from Staten Island, New York, and a devout Lutheran. His in-laws gave a startling interview in which they portrayed Keith as an ‘enthusiastic disciple of Christ’ and that he ‘embraced Christ as a way of life’. Under Patti’s influence, Richards cut back on drugs, attended church from time to time and even started a gentle exercise regime. ‘She’s a wonderful girl; I ain’t letting the bitch go!’ he confirmed in a speech at his wedding reception. Keith may have written ‘Sympathy For The Devil’ back when, but these days much of his life is spent with a woman who attends a weekly Bible study group and who won’t stand for swearing around the house.
Yep, I love Keith Richards.

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02 May 2006

I Can Sleep Peacefully Tonight

I love Keef madly, so show some respect and pray for his speedy recovery ...

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Keith Richards has been released from a New Zealand hospital where the Rolling Stones guitarist was admitted with a head injury after he reportedly fell out of a palm tree.

Richards, 62, suffered a mild concussion while on vacation in Fiji Thursday. Several Australian and New Zealand media outlets reported the fall from the tree.

New Zealand's Sunday Star-Times also reported that Richards got on a Jet Ski after the fall and had another accident.

Richards was treated in a Fiji hospital before being airlifted to Auckland's Ascot Hospital for observation. It was not immediately clear exactly when he was released or where he went afterward.

"I can categorically confirm Mr. Richards ... is no longer a patient in this hospital," hospital duty manager Geoff Sparks told The Associated Press on Tuesday. "He has been discharged."

Band spokeswoman Fran Curtis has said only that Richards was injured earlier this week and flown to New Zealand with his wife, Patti, for observation. Her statement Saturday did not comment on Richards' condition or how he was injured.

Richards and his wife were staying at the exclusive Wakaya Club resort on a small Fijian island when he was injured.

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01 May 2006

In Case You Missed It

Stephen Colbert did a brilliant job at the White House Correspondents Dinner on Saturday. In case you have yet to see the footage:

Link to video here.

Link to transcript here.

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Five Days off the Radar

I took off several days to recupe and refresh from the long hours I’ve been working since the first of the year. And it was great. Other than an eye-doctor appointment on Thursday, I had no real plans, other than to be self-indulgent. I spent every possible moment outside … saw a great movie (“Thank You for Smoking”) with my favorite ex … enjoyed lunches and dinners in midtown and East Atlanta with friends and family … helped my sister with a yard sale, buying many can’t-live-withouts … and thought about what I want to do with my life. And now I have the blues because I’ll be back at my desk in nine hours.

A Perfect Moment
Driving around Thursday afternoon … beautiful weather … the sunroof open … singing along with “Finest Worksong” … and looking damn cool in those plastic shades from my eye doctor.

Movie Marathon
Did one of my favorite things Sunday night, staying up all night long, watching movies until 5 a.m. I haven’t had a movie marathon in months. Highlights were “A History of Violence,” “Junebug” and “The Squid and the Whale” … “The Ice Harvest” was pretty good … and “Just Like Heaven” was OK (but her San Francisco apartment was fabulous!).

The Next Chapter
I’m seriously considering making a major change in my life — maybe next month, maybe next year. There are a lot of things I have to consider and work out, but hopefully things will come together and I can move to my next life chapter. Sorry to be vague, but I don’t want to mess up by saying too much too soon.

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