Life in Clayton

I haven't blogged in forever! Sorry about that. I've been busy....relaxing my brain.

: )

I thought this was a great little story with which to kick things off again. From the hometown newspaper, The Clayton News Star.

”Donald Lee Avery Jr. is facing a truckload of charges following a high-speed chase by Clayton police Saturday.

But he didn’t leave for jail thirsty.

“He was in the process of lying on the ground after exiting the vehicle – but he reached back in and had one last big drag [of beer],” said Clayton Police Lt. Wayne Bridges.”

Clayton News Star

One for the road!


The Lion King Roars in Raleigh


The Gazelle touring company of the hit Broadway musical, The Lion King, recently departed Raleigh after a highly successful six weeks of shows. I was fortunate to have scored fourth row seats to final show only about a month ago! (Why can't I ever get those good seats for a Clay Aiken concert?)

The Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Raleigh, is a beautiful venue in the midst of an area undergoing chaotic construction. But the parking was close by, and considering the show was sold out, it was easy getting in and out of the facility.

I took my Mom to the show. It was the first full on Broadway musical for both of us. We've attended plays, but never a musical with big production numbers, fantastical costumes, ingenious sets, and beautiful music. The actors were all amazing, down to and including the ensemble players. The talent was inspiring, as every single member of the cast not only sang and danced, but acted and operated the very realistic puppets that often made you forget there was a human behind the mask. The portrayal of the "animals" ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous - from a bird on a stick to giant complicated costumes which required more than one person to operate.

I was already familiar with much of the music. Elton John and Tim Rice's score is at once sentimental and trimphant. The actor who played Rafiki, Phindile Mkhize, had an unbelievable voice, and actually, all the main cast was vocally gifted. Zazu, the bird, was played by Mark Cameron Pow, and his veddy British accent added much to his portrayal. Pumbaa and Timon were a riot, and strangely enough, they sounded just like their animated counterparts! The weakest link was probably the adult Simba, who was very adept at showing the lackadaisical side of Simba, but less convincing at portraying the courageous battle against Scar.

The story itself is classic; a tale of family, betrayal, and ultimately, love.

It was a magical production, from the first wailing note and march of the animals through the audience, to the triumphant victory of good over evil.

And they all lived happily ever after. Well, except for Scar. I'm hooked!


We Love Clay's CD A Thousand Different Ways


Clay Aiken's new release, A Thousand Different Ways, showcases some of the highest charting love songs from the 70s, 80s and 90s. Included in the mix are four new original songs in addition to the ten classic covers. There are also two bonus tracks available - a free download with a CD purchase from KMart (the Motown gem If You Dont Know Me By Now,) and an original song, written by Clay, called Lover All Alone, free with a download of the CD from iTunes. The staff of Claymaniacs.com is a diverse group, so we thought we would each share our favorite two songs. Why two? Well, you know we couldn’t pick just one!

One of the new songs, Lonely No More, earns Clay his first official co-writing credit. Right now, it’s a personal favorite. A slight melancholy tone graces the lone piano at the beginning, but not for long. The lyrics, graceful with yearning yet rich with possibility as well, carry us to the bridge, which swells to an almost passion filled challenge, and finally evolves to a sweet conclusion. One that makes me wonder if the singer may be ...lonely no more.

Take me in, take me home, I cant stand to be alone
Help me paint the picture of my life, dont you disappear and leave me here tonight…

Now, let’s hear from woodstock854 about her favorites!

"Choosing a favorite is ALWAYS hard, because Clay is SO good, but my favorite song on this CD is Without You. Clay has an AMAZING voice. We all know that. And some songs showcase it better than others. I truly believe this song showcases the VOX that we all love. There are soft, tender notes, vibrato, and GLORY notes that EVERY Clay fan loves. When I hear this song, I FEEL Clay around me. This song showcases his incredible range, and beautiful style. When he open ups and belts the notes out, I could just and never get up!!! And to do that with this amount of confidence, gives me a new respect for Clay and his wonderful singing ability.

I listen to this song EVERY day multiple times. I cant get enough of this beautiful voice. And I hope I never will. Please keep it up, Clay!!! We love you!!!"

Oh, I cant forget this evening, or your face as you were leaving
But I guess thats just the way the story goes…..

"My second favorite song on the CD is A Thousand Days. This song has grown on me since it was previewed. I have listened to it over and over. Not only does Clay sound GREAT (of course) but I think it is one of the "catchiest" songs on the CD. It is one of those that you find yourself humming over and over again. It is upbeat, but the lyrics are so meaningful. "Come with me, and I will never let you down." (I am on my way, Clay.) I BELIEVE him when I hear the lyrics. WOW!!! That makes a song great for me. And it contains a Glory note!!! I am a goner. It shows how strong Clays voice is. And this song translates well to a live performance, as we saw on GMA. I thought that performance was SUPERB!!! He was able to change up the song enough to make it sound very fresh. And everyone was singing along!!! It is easy to remember the words. I think this song is a real winner, and will be one of the most popular ones when he tours again. I LOVE IT!!!"

Read the rest of the Claymaniacs' staff member reviews at Claymaniacs.com!


Top Hits of the 80s: A Musical Flashback

According to About.com, these were the top hits of the 1980s.

1) The Police-"Every Breath You Take"
2) Survivor-"Eye of the Tiger"
3) Foreigner-"I Want to Know What Love Is"
4) Van Halen-"Jump"
5) U2-"With or Without You"
6) Guns N' Roses-"Sweet Child o' Mine"
7) Whitney Houston-"So Emotional"
8) Bonnie Tyler-"Total Eclipse of the Heart"
9) Lionel Richie & Diana Ross-"Endless Love"
10) J. Geils Band-"Centerfold"

Hey, where's the punk rock, new wave, glam rock selections? It matters not, as they would not be appropropriate for this exercise anyway. Unless you have a vivid imagination.

Of these selections, Clay will be dueting with Suzie O'Neil (Rock Star: INXS)on I Want to Know What Love Is on his upcoming release A Thousand Different Ways. Should be nice vox combo. But hey, wouldn't it be fun to imagine how Clay would cover some of these other tunes?

I love Sting, and the Police. Saw them in concert back in the real 80s. Every Breath You Take is, believe it or not, a love song; a classic, well constructed tune about obsessive love, laid down over a sweetly hypnotic melody that belies the dark overtones of the lyrics. If Clay sang this song, he would drive the Claymate masses mad with longing. Wouldn't it be ironic if his first two radio hits were songs having to do with obsessive attraction (see Invisible)? Considering the obsessive nature of some of his own fans, it would be a delicious irony.

Eye of the Tiger, forget about it. Clay would never sing a song about... a cat!

Jump would not be a good choice for Clay, as the song is mostly about the instrumentation and not the lyrical interpretation. But, I do admit I wouldn't mind seeing him do the David Lee Roth *jump!* In fact, I might buy a ticket for that.

Now we get down to business. U2 is a long time favorite; one I've yet to score tickets to see live. Came close when they were in Charlotte last year, but there was a matter of a little "joyful" holiday tour I was attending, in Camden NJ and Washington DC, that fell on the day before and the day after U2 was in Charlotte. Nothing like a kick in the butt by Karma.

Clay opened his solo tour with a rousing version of U2's Where the Streets Have No Name. However, With or Without You is a song made for Clay. According to Wikipedia, not only is it U2's most covered song, but also one of their most overtly emotional ones. A song of love, and loss, pain, and pleasure, the lyrics are simple but the melody builds until it rips your heart out, flings it around a couple of times, then slams it on the ground.

My hands are tied
My body bruised, she's got me with
Nothing to win and
Nothing left to lose

And you give yourself away
And you give yourself away
And you give
And you give
And you give yourself away

With or without you
With or without you
I can't live
With or without you

Insecurity, anxiety, angst - all the requirements for a song of passion. Should Clay ever decide to sing this song, he would have a bunch of wrung out fangirls on his hands.

It wouldn't be the first time.

Next up, the bottom five!


Art Deepens The Mystery

"The job of the artist is always to deepen the mystery."
Francis Bacon

My husband is a sculptor, working with metal, mostly copper. At left, one of our cats (originally named "Miss Kitty") sees the mystery in a solid copper gecko.

His inspiration comes mostly from nature, and his work encompasses everything from the classical to the whimsical. (In this picture, the gecko is real!)

Here's my favorite piece though. He made just for me. I love it beyond all reason; it's cute, don't you think? It's called "Superstar."

I have no idea why.


Check him out. He's good. Metalfusion.com.


...Sail forward now, all balls out


Sharing an essay, written by Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Ph.D.

Letter To A Young Activist During Troubled Times

Mis estimados:
Do not lose heart. We were made for these times.
I have heard from so many recently who are deeply and properly bewildered. They are concerned about the state of affairs in our world right now. It is true, one has to have strong cojones and ovarios to withstand much of what passes for "good" in our culture today. Abject disregard of what the soul finds most precious and irreplaceable and the corruption of principled ideals have become, in some large societal arenas, "the new normal," the grotesquerie of the week. It is hard to say which one of the current egregious matters has rocked people's worlds and beliefs more. Ours is a time of almost daily jaw-dropping astonishment and often righteous rage over the latest degradations of what matters most to civilized, visionary people.

...You are right in your assessments. The lustre and hubris some have aspired to while endorsing acts so heinous against children, elders, everyday people, the poor, the unguarded, the helpless, is breathtaking. Yet ... I urge you, ask you, gentle you, to please not spend your spirit dry by bewailing these difficult times. Especially do not lose hope. Most particularly because, the fact is — we were made for these times. Yes. For years, we have been learning, practicing, been in training for and just waiting to meet on this exact plain of engagement. I cannot tell you often enough that we are definitely the leaders we have been waiting for, and that we have been raised since childhood for this time precisely.

Read the rest of this essay at Dr. Estes.


A Thousand Different Memories

Last week, on August 3, while I was vacationing in Florida, the long awaited press release about Clay’s much anticipated third album was issued. A Thousand Different Ways will drop on September 19.

As is tradition in the Clay Nation, there were those who were immediately disappointed – What? No Back for More? What? Ten cover songs? What? Dolly Parton?!?

On some boards, those who expressed discontent were immediately looked upon with scorn and derision for some reason, as if their comments might infect others like a plague. Then you have the uber-fangirly fans who would buy Clay singing "the phone book” or a Chinese menu or whatever; which causes some to roll glazed over eyes so far back in their head as to see behind them. And then there were those who were somewhat stoic, allowing they would wait until they actually heard the CD, then make a fully informed decision.

Then we have the “insiders,” with their affirmations dispensed by some mysterious entities somewhere in the “industry.” Hey, I think it's great, sprinkling their good news like so much fairy dust over the heads of the worried and the anxious. Some people seem to resent those “in the know;” but we do have choices; we can soak it all up like sunshine or just scroll on by. It’s all good to me.

Some 15 months after reports of a conclave of 50 songwriters (aggregated by Jaymes Foster on behalf of Clay) met in Nashville to hash out some good new songs for him, some fans are disappointed to see only four new songs on the CD track listing. It does lead one to wonder what type of communication took place, that none of those outstanding writers could create an album’s worth of songs with which Clay could connect. Or maybe they did, and we'll hear those results another time.

On the other hand, I would much rather hear Clay sing good covers than mediocre new songs. Not that the all the covers on the new CD would be on my own top ten favorite cover song list for Clay to interpret. That list would be more likely to contain such songs as If You Really Love Me by Stevie Wonder, She's Gone by Hall & Oates, Best of My Love by the Eagles, or More than Words by Extreme. He could still sing them in concert...I wouldn't mind a JBT Ver2.0 - except all 70s and 80s and some of those new songs thrown in for good measure.

In speaking to the concept that there are all kinds of love, songs like Heaven is 10 Zillion Light Years Away by Stevie Wonder, and When the Children Cry by White Lion would have worked as well.

I have always loved Without You, and own both the Badfinger as well as the superior Harry Nilsson version. On vinyl no less. In fact, it could have been my theme song for a few years. That song was made for Clay, and his somewhat restrained and subtle rendering (with those low notes!) is a thing of beauty.

I also find interesting Clay’s statement about the songs on the CD reflecting “all different kinds of love.” It’s endearing to me that he made the effort to create a work that all his fans could appreciate, enjoy and relate to. A (real) twelve year old hasn’t experienced romantic love, and some adult fans have surely moved on into cynical romantic territory.

Clay had a hand in choosing the songs, as well as even earning a writing credit on one of them (Lonely No More.) From his past statements regarding songwriting, I assume he actually helped write the song. I hope that was an enlightening experience for him. It's not always easy to lay bare your soul to the world.

Based on his own words in interviews past, this album is not what he started out wanting. Whatever happened to change that, which is not my business as a fan, it is now a CD of big power pop ballads from the 70s and 80s, and if the trend doesn’t burn out in six weeks, it should ride the retro wave to success, if not radio play. The fans may control the success, but RCA controls radio play.

The songs on the CD are fine by me. In fact, they all bring back so many memories! I am very intrigued by some of the choices, such as Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word, and Broken Wings. Clay said he wanted a more "upbeat" tone to this album, but a little angst thrown into the mix is more realistic.

In my teen years, I was all about the angst, and many of these songs remind me of that time in my life. Don't get me wrong - it was wonderful - the passion, the agony - every little thing that happened then was a major upheaval in my life. I miss that, sort of.

What I am most looking forward to, is how these songs fit into the soundtrack of my life right now, as opposed to how they fit when they were first released. Will it all come rushing back? Friendship, first love, passion, unrequited love, heartbreak, pain, loss…. Is it all still inside me?

I’ll soon find out. And I'm right here waiting.


Clay Nation Takes Action

On Thursday, July 27, in his capacity as a UNICEF ambassador for the world's children, Clay Aiken posted a message on his official fan club site titled "UNICEF Needs Your Help!" In it, he painted a desperate picture of the need for UNICEF to provide aid and relief to the hundreds of thousands of innocent children who are being harmed or left homeless due to the conflict currently underway in the Middle East.

UNICEF estimates that 350,000 children have been displaced from their homes, just within Lebanon. Emergency supplies have already begun flowing, with the first shipments arriving last weekend.

Items sent to the area include water purification tablets, soap and other hygiene products, as well as medicinal supplies for the injured. UNICEF is a non partisan relief agency, and as it is their policy to focus on children's needs in developing countries, the aid is being directed to the children of Lebanon.

Information is power. As a result of Clay's call to action, his fans contributed over $47,000 by the next day, and more people are continuing to donate as they are made aware of the need.

Rosie O'Donnell has matched that total, stating on her own blog that she will also contribute $47,000 to the cause. At times when children of any nation are in crisis, it's outstanding that so many people find it in their hearts to help make a difference.

If you would like to help, please visit the contribution page at UNICEF.

Charity sees only the need, not the cause. Please help if you are able.

Thank you.

Tall Ships: America's Sail

A few weeks ago, I was fortunate to visit the NC coast for the Pepsi America's Sail event, featuring the Tall Ships. More than 150,000 people descended on the small towns of Morehead City and Beaufort NC, whose normal populations together barely total 13,000.

So yeah, it was crowded, and yeah, there was traffic, and man, was it hot! But, it was also a unique experience, and so beautiful to see the majestic tall ships sailing off the coast, their sails to the wind.

With such adventurous names as the Meka, the Compass Rose and the Cisne Branco, the sailors all prayed for wind as they set out early that Saturday morning to race through the channel, down the coast and back.

The Independence Day celebration included a parade that included the local high school marching band, military personnel and sailors from the Brazilian tall ship, the Cisne Branco. There were artists from all over the country, and concerts featuring Delbert Clinton, Train and Anna Nalick.

And, there were pirates! Argh!

It was a wonderful vacation, made even better by the fact that we got to enjoy our dog Scruffy's first trip to the beach. Everywhere we went, we were asked, "what kind of dog is that?!?"

A cute one!


Consider This A Warning

Clay Aiken montage created by Ms Mia.

For more, visit Ms Mia's website, Shades of Clay. Trust me, it's time well spent!



Fans of Clay Aiken have been mostly patient over the past year, as they have awaited some relevent information about his next CD.

Patience. Some think it's a virtue. It's surely a state of mind, a quality of self awareness.

For the self-actualized human, patience is power; control of will, suffering with fortitude, a state of uncomplaining endurance over evil and insult, over unending time…. Patience is power over eternity.

Patience is an act. An act of forbearance, of waiting, calmly, yet with passion still. Waiting for something due, something expected, something hoped for.

Patience is perseverance. It’s persistence. It is a constancy of attitude that will carry you through the stages of expectance – from eager anticipation, to contented relief upon it’s close.

Patience, resignation. It's a quiet, self possessed spirit of submission to the will of another, or to outside forces, over which you, nor anyone else really, has any control.

But now, we finally have some information. We have a title. We know he is proud of it and that the songs he chose will reflect the intensity of his live performances. We know his executive producer, Jaymes Foster, believes Clay's vocal talents rival some of the great artists of our time. But still, we clamor for more.

Patience. We need it now!


Happy US Independence Day 2006!!

Clay Aiken performs "God Bless the USA" on PBS' "A Capitol Fourth," aired in 2004.

Thanks to papergirl for the video!


There Was A Man


There was a man, a lonely man,
Who lost his love through his indifference. . .
A heart that cared, that went unshared,
Until it died in his silence. . .

So go the lyrics to an old song Clay Aiken introduced to a new generation of young fans, and breathed new life into for some older music lovers as well. Clay’s powerful and haunting voice brings both the agony and the beauty of the lyrics to life as if they’re something tangible; as if you could wrap yourself up in the melancholy and the surrealism like a warm blanket and wallow in it.

That is due, in part, to the fact he is a gifted singer with a talent for belting out power ballads. But it’s also due to a particular resonance those lyrics may hold for the singer who says he still is and always will be a special education teacher at heart.

Clay shared his feelings about Solitaire and other painful moments from his life in his book, Learning to Sing; and as he did, he explained how each one helped him grow and evolve, and how he tried to use what he learned to be a better man. A better human being. A better humanitarian.

Clay has always had a heart for helping children. For example, in 2004, he participated in the "Arthur: Stories for Heroes” audio book, the proceeds of which benefited the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation and other children’s charities.

Also in 2004, Clay performed with Heather Headley at the Children & Families Initiative of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids event in New York City. There was recently a poster from that event, autographed by Clay and other participants, for sale on eBay in continued support.

A shirt and tie worn by Clay during his Summer 2004 Solo Tour was auctioned in December 2004 in support of YouthAIDS, an action-based global initiative working in over sixty countries to educate and protect young people from HIV/AIDS. It brought over $2,400.

In support of the 2004 Give a Hand program, benefiting Ronald McDonald House Charities, Clay's handprints in cement were auctioned for $15,099.

Clay is a national ambassador and spokesman for UNICEF, which advocates and places a high priority on AIDS education and protection of children’s health around the world.

In 2005, his participation in Kenneth Cole’s “Clothes Off Our Back” charity raised over $27,000 in support of UNICEF and other charities.

Early in 2006, Clay joined Susan Sarandon, Julianne Moore, Dustin Hoffman and other stars on "NBC for Tsunami Relief." The benefit raised more than $10 million nationally.

In addition, he served as 2005 national spokesperson for UNICEF's Trick or Treat campaign, 2004 national spokesperson for the Toys For Tots campaign, and supported Youth Service America, the Make A Wish Foundation, Best Buddies, and more.

In 2003, Clay formed his own foundation. The Bubel/Aiken Foundation was created in order to bring awareness to issues of inclusion. Their mission is to “provide services and financial assistance to facilitate the full integration of children with disabilities into the life environment of those without.” His heart was bound to the issue of inclusion when, while working at the YMCA, he learned there were no means to allow children with special needs into the camp programs.

Clay meets with special needs children and fans at every opportunity. But that’s not what makes him so extraordinary.

The real gift Clay gives these extra special fans is inclusion. He treats them like everybody else. He sees past the disability to the person. And the gift Clay gives to the world is that he inspires by example and teaches others to do the same.

His legions of fans have taken their cues from Clay, and many of them have become involved in these causes in one way or another. In the process they’ve learned the amazing extent and endurance of the human spirit, and of their own hearts. Clay helps others find the humanitarian within themselves.

What greater message can any celebrity pass on to his fans than the mindset that Everybody is Somebody?

Clay knew the pain of exclusion, of being different. He knew the pain of cruelty and apathy. He could’ve, one might suppose, become the man he sings about in Solitaire. He could’ve built a wall around himself, allowed his heart to become battle-scarred and hard until it silently died of indifference.

Instead, he did the opposite. Clay Aiken found he had a voice as a celebrity, and he’s using it. When this man became a star, he shined his light in places that had been dark for too long, and as his star grows brighter he continues to light the way for children that much of the world has ignored. He fights for them to be seen, to be heard. He takes that amazing voice and sings to the world, “Include them!”

He’s succeeding, because the world is listening. Clay Aiken’s mantra seems to be “Use your voice.”

We hear Clay's voice, and what we hear is amazing.

Written by the Staff of Claymaniacs.com

© 2006 Claymaniacs.com


A Thousand Million

Like most people, I get lots of email. Some of it is about Clay Aiken and some of it is not. My favorite email of today is not about Clay, unless he is a billionaire already. I don't normally discuss politics because no good usually comes of it. But this, I like.

"The next time you hear a politician use the word "billion" casually, think about whether you want that politician spending your tax dollars.

A billion is a difficult number to comprehend, but one advertising agency did a good job of putting that figure into perspective:

A billion seconds ago, it was 1975.

A billion minutes ago, Jesus was alive.

A billion hours ago, our ancestors were living in the Stone Age.

A billion dollars ago was only 8 hours and 20 minutes, at the rate Washington spends it."

Not one to believe much (if any) of what I get in my email, or even read on the Internet, I often do a little research myself. So in this case, I visited Snopes to get the scoop. Yep, pretty close on all counts.

Except worse.

According to Snopes, Washington is actually spending twice as much as this email states, which would mean a billion dollars ago was only 4 hours and 10 minutes.

Just thought you would want to know!


Through the Years, Musically

Email of the day.

It was fun being a baby boomer, until now. Some of the artists of the'60's are revising their hits with new lyrics to again accommodate the Babyboomers.

They include:

Herman's Hermits----Mrs. Brown, You've Got a Lovely Walker
The Bee Gees----How Can You Mend a Broken Hip
Bobby Darin---Splish, Splash, I was Having a Flash
Ringo Starr---I Get by With a Little Help From Depends
Roberta Flack---The First Time Ever I Forgot Your Face
Johnny Nash----I Can't See Clearly Now
Paul Simon---Fifty Ways to Lose Your Liver
The Commodores----Once, Twice, Three Times to the Bathroom
Marvin Gaye----Heard it Through the Grape Nuts
Procol Harem---A Whiter Shade of Hair
Leo Sayer---You Make Me Feel like Napping
Tony Orlando---Knock 3 Times on the Ceiling If you Want Me, Twice on the Pipes, If You Hear Me Fall
Helen Reddy---I Am Woman, Hear Me Snore

Yeah, that's funny. Except maybe not. The very first group I ever saw in concert was Herman's Hermits. Whaaaat? The second groups I saw were Badfinger and Argent! No Matter What You Do! Hold Your Head Up!

I decided to dig out my cache of concert ticket stubs, and have a little musical flashback. So, in no particular order, some of my fave concerts.

Sting - Santana - Coldplay - David Bowie - 10,000 Maniacs - The Eagles - Doc Watson - The Who - Rolling Stones - Paul McCartney - Bonnie Raitt - Kim Locke - Kiss - Tony Trischka - Bela Fleck - Stevie Ray Vaughan - Living Color - Doobie Brothers - Dan Fogelburg - Bo Bice - Neil Young - Foghat - Bob Dylan - ZZTop - Indigo Girls - Booker T and the MGs - Jane's Addiction - Lollapalooza - Paul Simon - Clay Aiken - Crosby, Stills and Nash - Trace Adkins - Joe Nichols - Bruce Springsteen - The Police - Nine Inch Nails - The Clash - Grateful Dead - Josh Gracin - Wynnona Judd - Pink Floyd - Ice T - Jason and the Scorchers - Henry Rollins - Josh Groban - Pure Prairie League - Karl Wallinger and World Party - Red Hot Chili Peppers

So much fun I can barely even remember it all. Live music is the BEST! But... it gets tougher when you are an, um, adult. So, I agree with comedian Greg Behrendt; there should be rock concerts for adults! They start at 7 and you're home by 10.

Yeah, that's the ticket.


Color Quiz

ColorQuiz.comWednesdays+Child took the free ColorQuiz.com personality test!

"Her need to feel more causative and to have a wide..."

Click here to read the rest of the results.

Well, you could say the same about most people, right? Right? RIGHT?


Daddy's Girl


Happy Father's Day!

Thanks for waiting up for me all those nights.

Thanks for teaching me to like sci-fi.

Thanks for thinking I write well. (Hee!)

Thanks for washing my car.

Thanks for saying "yes" when Mom said "no."

Thanks for making good oatmeal, banana splits, milkshakes, holes in one. And I don't mean in golf, although you did that too.

Thanks for being laid back and sometimes goofy.

Thanks for letting me stand on your feet when we danced.

Thanks for being organized.

Thanks for being content to sit and watch TV when you come visit me.

Thanks for liking Clay, Dolly, the Dixie Chicks, and Mario Lanza.

I'm a Daddy's girl - and proud of it!


Suthern Tawlk

Clay once said, "I have family who wouldn't spit in my mouth if my teeth were on fire."

I recently received this email, which made me recall some of the more colorful phrases my grandmothers and aunts used to use during their homilies.

These aren't exclusive to the south, although we do seem to have more than our fair share!

Disclaimer: No offense to bankers or lawyers. Nor pigs or skunks.

*Keep skunks, bankers and lawyers at a distance.
*Life is simpler when you plow *around* the stump.
*A bumble bee is considerably faster than a John Deere tractor.
*Words that soak into your ears are whispered, not yelled.
*Meanness don't just happen overnight.
*There is no cure for stupid.
*Forgive your enemies. It messes up their heads.
*Never corner something that you know is meaner than you.
*It don't take a very strong person to carry a grudge.
*You cannot unsay a cruel word.
*Every path has a few puddles.
*When you wallow with pigs, expect to get dirty.
*The best sermons are lived, not preached.
*Most of the stuff people worry about isn't never going happen anyway.
*Don't judge folks by their relatives.
*Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
*Don't interfere with something that isn't bothering you none.
*Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance.
*If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging.
*Sometimes you get, and sometimes you get got.
*The biggest troublemaker you'll probably ever have to deal with, watches you from the mirror every morning.
*Always drink upstream from the herd.
*Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.
*Letting the cat out of the bag is a whole lot easier than putting it back in.
*If you get to thinking you're a person of some influence, try ordering somebody else's dog around.

I love those. Words of wisdom you would never learn in an institution of higher learning! Even ones found in the South.

I used to beg for things when I was a child, like most children do. Have you ever been told, "you need that like a hog needs a saddle!" or "you need that like a rooster needs a wheelbarrow!" I usually got confuzzled and forgot about whatever I was begging for.

My grandmother used to always describe people by their physical attributes. "She's been hit in the face with the ugly stick!" or "she looks like she's been rode hard and put up wet," or "he's meaner than a snake!"

I'm sure we all know someone who "don't have a lick of sense," or who is "dumb as a box of rocks." And have you ever been "drunker than Cootie Brown?"

My boss was always "busier than a one armed paper hanger," but I think he didn't know "doodley squat" about being busy.

Well, I'ma hafta carry myownself upstairs and get me a showah now, 'cause I'm afixin to go out tonight!

Thanks for readin'. I preeshate it!


Rockin the Red Hats

I just returned from a glorious nine day vacation in the mountains of East Tennessee and Western North Carolina. Being there is like being in another country almost; low key, laid back and teeming with nature's bounty. Almost heaven.

It was great seeing my parents, visiting old friends, going junking, hearing some good music and soaking up nature. But more about all that later. First, one of the things I was enlightened to - a "society" known as the Red Hats. Yes, my Mom rocks the Red Hats, and she is having a stone cold blast too.

The Red Hat Society is a social organization where there is fun after fifty (and before) for women of all walks of life.

This is a direct quote from their website. It's also true; I have witnessed it with my own eyes, recorded for posterity on a DVD!

Take for example, the Bonnett Belles of Blountville, TN. These ladies know how to party. They threw a big shindig a while back, with a "Roaring 20s" theme, complete with speakeasys, flappers, lots of fringe and feathers, song and dance, good food and even a liquor raid (for entertainment purposes only of course!) at the conclusion of the evening.

I just can't tell you how happy it made me to see my Mom right in the midst of it all, in her fringy red dress and sequined headband, sleek cigarette holder in one hand and liquor bottle in the other. No, really; I'm serious! I've never seen such a bunch of happy women, all dressed up, singing, smiling, dancing; laughing like nothing else on this earth mattered much at all. It was a glorious thing to behold.

Wait...yes I have. I have seen such a thing. I've seen it quite often actually; at every single Clay Aiken concert I've ever attended.

There are no age restrictions on fun, last time I checked.

As I become older, the media bias toward men and women, mostly women, of a "certain age" becomes more and more evident in any discussion of our "youth-oriented" culture. It's a curious thing, and a phenomenon that is, in my opinion, worth investigating. And I will. But first, I'm going to have some fun.

Because really, what is the purpose of life, if not to find pleasure in all that we do? Whether it's at a Red Hat Society party or a hockey game, on the golf course or at a concert. Whether it's while we are helping others, working, studying or playing - we should strive to not only find purpose and meaning in our life, but also, pleasure and passion.

Life's too short for anything else.


CRS (Can't Remember Shii...Stuff)

Favorite email of the week.


My forgetter's getting better
But my rememberer is broke;
To you that may seem funny
But to me that is no joke.

For when I'm "here" I'm wondering
If I really should be "there;"
And when I try to think it through,
I haven't got a prayer.

Oft times I walk into a room,
And say "what am I here for?"
I wrack my brain, but all in vain,
A zero, is my score.

At times I put something away
Where it is safe, but Gee!
The person it is safest from
Is, generally, me!

When shopping I may see someone,
Say "Hi" and have a chat;
Then when the person walks away
I think "who the heck was that?"

Yes, my forgetter's getting better
While my rememberer is broke,
And it's driving me plumb crazy
And that isn't any joke.

I love that. Too bad I can't remember who sent it to me.

Tips for having a simpler life.

Tip #1 – Keep a couple of get well cards on your mantle or a shelf in your living room. That way, if someone drops in unexpectedly, they will assume you have been too sick to clean.

Tip #2 - Have an easel with a couple of artist brushes on it standing in your living room, kitchen or wherever. If your house is messy and unexpected guests arrive, they will think that since you are an artist, you can't always be bothered with housework and such. People are usually patient regarding their artistic friends.

Actually, my husband is an artist. Hmmmm.

More about Art next time.


Hollyweird and Raleighwood

Tales from Hollyweird, found at First Amendment Center.org.

"They lurk in bushes, camp out in cars and hover in helicopters. Some are brazen enough to openly brandish their cameras, like old Western gunslingers. (snip) ....a new California law went into effect (1/1/06) that increases penalties against overly aggressive photographers — dubbed "stalkerazzi" — who forcefully thrust their cameras into famous faces or crash their car into a celebrity's vehicle. They'll now be liable for three times the damages they inflict, plus lose any payments their published photos might earn. Publishers can also be held liable. (snip) The business is driven by money," Elterman said. "The guys who take the pictures don't care how they get the photo because they have nothing to lose."”

Famous celebrities are now hiring people to protect them from over-zealous stalkerazzi who invade their privacy, trespass, endanger their safety, and then are rewarded monetarily for doing so.

Hmmm. Now this, from Raleigh's News & Observer.

“North Carolina has put the future of its new lottery in the hands of a former head of the New Mexico Lottery who has helped launch lotteries in three other states.”

That’s right; North Carolina is finally getting an education lottery. Yes, that’s what they are calling it.

So, Hollyweird and Raleigh actually do have something in common.


In Hollyweird, you gamble with your life. In Raleigh, you can gamble for education.

No wonder Clay wanted to come back!


An Ode

Spikey, flat, au naturale,
Sometimes there is no rationale;
Red or brown or blondish tips,
It sticks out or up it flips;
Sometimes short, sometimes too long,
Either way you can’t go wrong;
The hair's amazing, that’s the clincher,
Every day is a new adventure.

OK I'm done. Bring on the music!


Hair Today....Songs Tomorrow

What's that sound I hear? Sounds like a buzz.

Clay's new look is all the rage today, but tomorrow (figuratively speaking) we'll all be talking about the songs!

One of Clay's greatest strengths, besides his ebullient and expressive voice, is that he seems to be able to change while remaining true to himself. Let's face it, his looks have changed twenty times over since his AI audition over three years ago.

But his focus has never wavered. Clay once said he wanted to win influence, not fame. His influence has done nothing but grown, from his ability to create awareness of issues, to raise money for UNICEF and other causes, as well as to bring media interest every time he turns around. With everything he has experienced during his career, his priorities have not changed. He still has a heart for children, a passion for inclusion, and a need to share his message. He still finds great joy in singing, and performing.

He remains true to his statements early in his career, that he will not discuss his private life, he will not do things or sing songs he is not comfortable with, and he will define his own type of pop star.

Why does Clay create such interest in the media, both good and bad? Perhaps because he is an agent of change. Some people do resent and fear change, however, I don't think he's out to change the music industry, or the nature of pop culture in general. I do believe he is adamant about offering music fans an alternative; popular music sung beautifully, without bowing to trends or going with the flow. He is not,and will never be, your normal pop star. His voice remains clear, and true and strong.

In an interview just after season two of American Idol, he was asked by Billboard's Chuck Taylor what he thinks about the critics who say he "doesn't look like a pop star." Clay replied, "I'm gonna define my own pop star." And he is.

Congratulations to Taylor Hicks, the new American Idol! Make it work for you buddy.

Here's a little flashback. Enjoy!

[clay aiken]


He's Baaaack!


Clay is back - With a Bang!

©Kevork Djansezian/AP


Having a Ball

This weekend, I'm doing something I haven't done in quite a while.

What I'm doing can be done all alone, but I'm doing it with some friends. It's cheap too. One dollar. I fully expect to be be a little sore afterwards, but it will be worth it. In fact, it will be a ball.

A bowling ball! I love bowling, it's so elemental.

A ball. Ten pins. A wooden lane. Organic!

Bowling alleys are loud, smelly places. They smell like feet and beer. But still, the environment is appealing somehow. The last time I went bowling, the counter guy said "Do you want to be near the bar, the bathroom, or the NASCAR race (on TV)?" Now really, what other activity offers such a hospitable welcome?

And, it's cheap. On Sundays before 5 pm anyway. One dollar per game. One dollar! I wasn't aware you could have that kind of fun for one dollar. I made a note of it.

Afterward, I will feel a little achy in odd places. Butt cheeks, wrists, shins. But it will be worth it.

I saw someone once with a T shirt that said "I don't know whether to go bowling or jab my eyes out!" Heck, that's an easy one - I'm going bowling.