Taking Paternity Leave Makes You a Hipster?

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By Stefan-Xp (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Stefan-Xp (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

This morning, as I was driving to work, a radio deejay mentioned that it seemed like all of his coworkers were on vacation and he never took vacation. Then he said something like, “That’s okay. I’m saving all my vacation for paternity leave.” And this as though realizing he’d said too much, he added, “That probably makes me a hipster.”

Seriously? Why was this man embarrassed to admit that he was taking paternity leave? Only hipsters can admit to having a caring side?

My mind immediately turned to a situation from last week when golfer Hunter Mahan withdrew from a tournament he was leading because his wife went into labor with their first child. Oh, and did I mention she went into labor a month early, turning a stressful situation into an even more stressful situation? And, oh, I forgot to say she was in another state.

But apparently, despite all these facts, it was big, shocking, unbelievable news that Mahan withdrew from the tournament even though he was looking at a big payday. There were news articles and radio and TV segments devoted to his decision.

Ooh, just thinking about both these situations makes me mad.

Why are men questioned for wanting to be there for their wives who have carried their child for nine months and is now going through painful, scary process of giving birth to this child? Why do some men feel the need to apologize for wanting to be there?

The wife didn’t get pregnant on her own.

It doesn’t make the husband less of a man for wanting to be there for the birth of his child. It doesn’t make the husband less of a man for wanting to take care of the person he helped create.

Real men take care of their responsibilities. Real men embrace taking care of their responsibilities.

What year is this again?

Remembering Kidd Kraddick

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By Kyledean84 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Kyledean84 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

A week ago tonight around 10 p.m., I saw the following tweet.

My heart stopped for a second. I read it several times praying that I’d misread it. I hadn’t. I went searching for more info. It became evident that this wasn’t a sick joke. Local news outlets had been holding back reporting the deejay’s death until they were 100% sure it was true, but one by one they began reporting it, especially after KISS-FM released a statement.

I was heartbroken. Still am, if I want to be truly honest.

I remember the first time I listened to Kidd Kraddick in the Morning. It was late July/early August 1998. I’d grown up listening to Tom Joyner and Skip Murphy, the morning deejays for K104 here in Dallas.

But one summer morning, I got up a lot earlier than I needed to in order to listen to KKITM. Why? Because they were going to announce the headliner for KISS-FM’s first End of Summer Bash, and I needed to know immediately who that act was.

You see, during that summer, I’d become a huge *NSYNC fan. I certainly hadn’t planned it. But KISS had held a concert at the beginning of the summer and Mariah Carey was the featured guest. She was my favorite singer, so I had to see her.

I went and saw her. *NSYNC was also there, and they blew me away. They were so good. And when I like something whether it’s an author or a movie or TV show or a music group, I tend to go ALL OUT.

Anyway, that day I became an *NSYNC fan. A month later, so did a ton of other people because of their Disney Concert Special, which Disney only ran a million kajillion times (and can be found on Youtube in its entirety – lol).

In late July/early August, KISS started running a commercial promoting the End of Summer Bash and the mystery headliner ending the commercial with “And you won’t believe who it is!”

In my gut, I knew it was *NSYNC. I didn’t have any secret intel. I just knew. Finally, one Friday, the spots said Kidd Kraddick would announce the act Monday morning.

So Monday morning, I dragged myself out of bed and went downstairs to listen because my mom listened (loudly) to K104 while she got ready for work.

What I remember is that within 30 seconds of listening to KKITM, I was rolling with laughter. I’d never listened before, didn’t know who the cast members were, but they were cracking me up.

They got around to announcing the concert headliner and sure enough it was *NSYNC. They promised to give away tickets throughout the show, so I had to keep listening.

I’ve listened for the last 15 years.

I was so happy when KISS started streaming live on the Internet (remember those dark days when this was unusual?), because I was away at college and could listen to the show.

Why was I so devoted to the show, to Kidd? Because he and the other cast members invited me into their lives and made me laugh (and sometimes cry) while doing it.

When I saw that Kidd had died, my first immediate thought was for his daughter, Caroline. He loved and doted on her so much.

Although I didn’t know Kidd, I felt like I did.

I knew that his favorite movie was Somewhere in Time.

I knew that his mom, Rosie, was a terrible cook.

I knew that he was Catholic, but hadn’t been born into the faith. He’d chosen it because he felt most at home there.

I even knew that his first name was David, although that was a closely guarded secret (for privacy reasons, I believe). I suppose anyone who did a little rudimentary Internet research knew, but he never mentioned it on the show. I only knew because there had been 1 or 2 slipups on the air over the years.

What I admired most about Kidd as a professional was his storytelling prowess. I’m a terrible verbal storyteller, but Kidd was so good at it. He’d keep me enthralled, knowing when to amp up the tension, how to set up the punchline, when to hold back. Even for stories I’d heard before, I’d listen like it was the first time.

I also admired how quick and brilliant he truly was. I don’t know how many times the cast would be talking/joking about something and kind of paint Kidd into a corner. He’d sigh and say “We’ll be back with the story of how Kellie and Al became lost in the amusement park.” (Yes, that’s a really bad example, but you get the point).

After the commercial break, he’d come back with a full script that was both coherent and funny.

Did I admire everything about Kidd? No. Many times, he would quickly get bored with discussions and make everyone move on even if the audience (i.e. me) and the other cast members were enjoying it. He was also easily distracted. He’d promise that they would talk about the newest celebrity scandal next, but come back from commercial break talking about buying a new iPad. And he was so impatient. I told him to chill more than once through the radio.

But his flaws and strengths made him real. He didn’t try to hide who he was. He wanted his listeners to know him. He let me into his life and I’ll be forever thankful.

RIP, Kidd. Your legacy will live on.

Jam of the Week

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I’d heard Radioactive by Imagine Dragons before, but it really became imbedded in my head during the NBA playoffs when the below LeBron James/Beats commercial ran approximately every ten seconds.

It’s a testament to how much I like the song that I never got tired of it. I’m going to link to the video against my better judgment because I like the song that much. The video is, um, interesting. If you ever wondered what happened to Lou Diamond Phillips, now you know. o_0

As for the song, I love the slow build to the chorus and its thumping beat. The “Whoa, oh, oh” part gets me every time! lol. Enjoy!

Massive Thank You’s All Around

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By Flickr user vistamommy [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

A few days ago, I blogged about signing my first book deal for my novel, Tell Me Something Good. Yes, I’m still grinning ear to ear about this.

In that post, I promised a follow-up post that gives thanks to those who’ve helped and encouraged me on this journey.

As it so happens, yesterday, I decided to participate in the #31WriteNow Blog Post Challenge Luvvie blogged about. I wanted to challenge myself and to see if I could improve my discipline (something I’m not always good at).

And I thought what better way to kick it off than a massive thank you to the people who helped me get there.

In my last post, I thanked my friend and fellow writer, Dawn Alexander, for critiquing my book. But really there isn’t enough thanks for me to give her. My novel was strengthened immensely by her input.

My editor, Gwen Hayes, who plucked my book out of the slush pile. For a while now, I’ve been saying that I was hoping to find an editor who “got” me, someone who was willing to take a chance on me. Gwen was the one, and I’ll be eternally grateful.

My pal, Roni Loren. In January 2010, I went to my first North Texas RWA meeting with a plan. I would (hopefully) find someone who looked to be my age and was alone because we might have something in common and she’d be happy to talk to someone. I stepped into the room and spotted Roni. I was right on both counts. She’s 3 months older than I am and she knew no one. We’ve been friends ever since. She listens to me whine and we talk about writing and books and pop culture and whatever else comes up.

The lovely and supportive members of the North Texas RWA. Angi Morgan rescued me at my first RWA Conference when I looked lost and introduced me to Farrah Rochon.

Farrah Rochon has always been there for me to pester with questions. A few months ago, I wrote this post about being upset about being upset about my lack of progress. On the day I was feeling down, she sent me a DM on Twitter that was just what I needed to hear.

Phyllis Bourne. A few years ago, on the day of the entry deadline for the Golden Heart contest, I tweeted asking if I should enter. Almost immediately, she replied and said, “Yes.” It was the encouragement I needed and I entered. I didn’t final, but I did get a couple of high scores that boosted my confidence in my writing and my desire to enter the next year. I finaled the next year.

The 2012 Golden Heart finalists, the Firebirds. They are all great writers, but even more incredible women. I am honored to be a member of this group.

My coworkers in the “Blue Room” (my old job), who often looked over my shoulder and asked me what I was working on. It was the first time I’d ever talked about my writing with people who weren’t in the industry.

The writers, published and unpublished, and the moderators who post at the Submission Care thread on the Harlequin message board. I’ve spent many hours reading the thread and its archives to soak up any and all information I could.

Piper Huguley. We met on the Harlequin boards and she keeps me laughing with her emails and is always available to listen to me vent.

Twitter people. Nicole Helm. Maisey Yates. Christine Bell, who critiqued Tell Me, before I entered the Golden Heart. Many, many more.

Anyone who has ever critiqued my stuff. Cia Paul. My first critique group http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Rom-Critters/ – who saw my stuff before it was ready to be seen. *cringes*

The biggest thanks, though, is reserved for my mom. When I told her I sold my book, she said, “How much are they paying you?” That’s my mama! Seriously though when I was a kid, she never said no when I asked to go to the library or the bookstore no matter how often I asked. And trust me, it was often. When I figured out The Babysitters Club books were published once a month, she’d take me to the bookstore on the first of the month and on the occasions when it was warranted ask the salesperson why the new book wasn’t on the shelves yet. She’s the best, and I’m lucky to have her.

I’m leaving people out, I know, and I apologize. It’s not intentional. My memory just ain’t what it used to be.

But believe me, I’m so grateful.

Thank you all.

P.S. My Thursday posts will be updates on my writing. I’m hoping this will encourage me to get a move on all the things on my plate. I don’t want to embarrass myself with my lack of progress that will be PUBLISHED ON THE INTERNET for EVERYONE to read.

Finally, It’s Happened To Me! I Sold A Book!

I’ve dreamed about writing this blog post for years. Literally. And now that the moment is here, I’m not sure where to start or what to include.

So let’s get the important stuff out of the way first…

I sold my manuscript, TELL ME SOMETHING GOOD, to the Entangled Publishing Indulgence line!!

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As you can see, I am beyond thrilled. I love this manuscript (almost as much as I love Reese’s peanut butter cups) and as someone who has “stalked” Entangled for awhile and knows what they have accomplished, I’m happy to put it in their capable hands.

*needle scratching on the record* or *tape rewinding in the VCR* (Take your pick, although I fear both references date me).

Anywho…REWIND! Back to the beginning…

I decided to get serious about writing romance in the summer of 2009. I was unemployed and knew this was the time if I was ever going to do it. I’d actually started my first manuscript in 2002 after I graduated from college when I *sigh* found myself unemployed. But I didn’t know what I was doing and I got halfway through the manuscript and realized I had no idea what happened next. I found a job and put it aside.

But I never forgot about it and whenever I got a new computer, I made sure I transferred the file.

In 2009, I figured out how to end the book. And I was off. I read blogs on writing, posts on message boards, and attended RWA  meetings and conferences. And I wrote with the goal of becoming a better writer every day.

To make this long story a little shorter, let’s skip ahead, shall we?

In March 2012, I received the completely unexpected honor of being named a RWA Golden Heart® finalist. My first thought was, “Oh, my God. I don’t suck!”

I started querying agents because I was having trouble getting a response from a publisher I’d submitted to and I thought having an agent on my side would help. A solid plan, but one that didn’t work because the agents, one by one, rejected Tell Me.

They were nice about it, saying complimentary things about my writing and often offering feedback, but a rejection is a rejection is a rejection.

Anyway, even without an agent, I eventually heard back from said publisher and it was a “no.” I was disappointed, of course, but I knew it wasn’t the end of the world.

I submitted the MS to another publisher because they offered a quick turnaround with guaranteed feedback. They were true to their word. Again, it was a “no.” This rejection, however, sent me into a bit of a tailspin because of the editor’s promised feedback. She said I did something in the story that I would never intentionally do in a million years. I was appalled/embarrassed and immediately thought of what I needed to do to rip my book apart and start over.

Then I calmed down. I thought back to the feedback I’d received from agents, critique partners, and the other editor. No one had ever menioned this, and I realized that editor just didn’t “get” my book (which is fine, BTW. Not everyone will and I’m okay with that. This really is a subjective business). It didn’t make sense to make wholesale changes for someone who’d already rejected the manuscript. (And no, I don’t want to be more specific about the feedback because I didn’t change my MS based on what she said and I don’t want to unduly influence anyone who might read the book in question in the future. And no, the feedback wasn’t mean. It just happened to hit a nerve).

Okay, so I wasn’t going to change my MS based on this editor’s opinion. But I needed to do something. There was something holding agents and editors back from agreeing to represent/buy it. I set Tell Me aside and worked on other manuscripts while I let possible changes percolate in the back of my mind.

At the start of this year, I decided this was going to be my year. I was tired of writing and not being published. I was going to do everything in my power to make my dream come to reality. But you can’t get published (with a publishing house anyway) unless you submit, and I wasn’t out on submission anywhere.

So I needed to get cracking.

Although I’d been working on other manuscripts, I always intended to return to Tell Me because I adored the story and the characters and I had the confidence Golden Heart final had given me to fall back on (there’s no way I would have finaled in the contest if it truly sucked). Also, don’t tell anyone, but I’m kind of stubborn.

I went back to the first editor’s feedback. She mentioned a lack of character development. I didn’t agree with that assessment because I knew exactly how the characters changed and grew throughout the book, but I also knew there was a distinct possibility that what I knew happened might not have made it on to the page. Maybe I was being too subtle.

Game plan time!

I knew that some writers swear by story fixer Michael Hauge. I went Internet searching and found this blog post describing Hauge’s method of creating inner conflict in characters. I applied his methods to my hero and heroine, Tate and Noelle. Seeing their histories/fears/desires on paper really crystallized who they were as people to me, and I went back into the manuscript and added all this stuff where I saw fit. At times, I felt like like I was being too heavy handed. But no one who’s read it since I made the changes has commented on it.

Lesson learned: Screw subtlety. Also, my additions probably aren’t that heavy handed, but I was being too subtle.

The other area that needed improving based on agent feedback: Pacing. I could work with this, so I  moved some things around and deleted some others to speed up the action.

When I thought the manuscript was worthy of being seen by outside eyes, I sent it to my friend and fellow writer, Dawn Alexander, who’d generously offered to critique it for me. She did an amazing job, pointing out my weak spots. I made (most of) her changes. Then I read it a million times because I am a perfectionist and I really, really wanted this to be my year.

When I was so sick of Noelle and Tate (though I love them dearly) that I couldn’t bear reading about them any more, I submitted the manuscript to Entangled Publishing on June 17. On June 22, I received an email from editor Gwen Hayes saying she was interested in publishing Tell Me.

grease

From the tumblr Grease is the Word

But the book still had to go to acquisitions, so there was a chance that it could still be rejected. I was hoping to get everything wrapped up by RWA Nationals, so I could shout out it from the rooftops, but that didn’t happen. I talked to Entangled authors, Nicole Helm and Jackie Ashenden, who talked me down from the ledge and told me acquisitions wasn’t a scary place to be.

Still! I was so freaking close to that Reese’s peanut butter cup I could almost taste that perfect mixture of chocolate and peanut butter, but it was just out of my reach.

Finally, late last week, I saw this Gwen Hayes tweet.

gwennew2

I raced to my email and there was the golden ticket email. The acquisitions board said YES!

*press play for Cece Peniston’s Finally* (Yes, I’m aging myself again, but I don’t care!)

Lessons learned
1. Dream.

2. Do the work to make the dream come true.

3. Strive to be better every day.

4. Trust yourself. Consider ALL the feedback you receive, incorporate the parts that resonate, and discard the rest. YOU know your story best, but others can see things that you are blind to.

By the way, the story really hasn’t changed much. I tweaked and improved some things, but the story is the same story I came up with way back when.

Oh, the story, you say. What’s it about? It’s funny and sexy and sweet and modern. IMHO. And totally me. Here’s the (unofficial) blurb for TELL ME SOMETHING GOOD (to be published in 2014).

Tate
Dr. Noelle Butler, the host of the radio show Noelle Knows, is an uptight psychologist who needs to chill out. She knows nothing about sports, but she’s talking about them anyway. So what if I called in to her show to set her straight?

Noelle
Sports radio talk show host Tate Grayson is a playboy trust fund baby who wouldn’t know hard work if it bit him in the butt. So what if I phoned in and told him to stick to sports and to leave the relationship advice to me?

Here’s what. The station’s listeners loved our “discussions” and now we’ve been tasked to do a show together. Unbelievable.

But, hey, it’s only for a few weeks. What’s the worst that could happen? Besides killing each other? How about falling for each other?

The end. Almost. There are A LOT of people I need to thank, but this post is already obnoxiously long, so I’ll save that for another post. Probably tomorrow.

Right now, I’m off to celebrate!

P.S. How many pop culture references can you spot in this post?

Pink: A Sorta Kinda Review

Last Friday, I saw Pink in concert. I was beyond excited. In 2010, on my old blog, I wrote about how upset I was in 2009 that I couldn’t see Pink or Kelly Clarkson in concert because I was unemployed and broke.

But three and half years make a difference, and I’m in a much better financial position, so I was able to shell out the money to see Pink, who I’ve been a fan of since her first CD way back when.

Here are some random thoughts…

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1. Her abs are ridiculous. Actually, she’s in amazing shape period. But her abs…OMG. I was sitting close enough to the stage that I could make out the delineation with my eyes and didn’t need the screen to point it out.

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Just noticed the guy behind her, who looks like he’s pointing at her butt. LOL. He was the emcee of the show, for lack of a better term.

As the above picture shows, when she came over to my side of the stage, I was close enough to touch her, but I thought that would be kinda creepy, so I didn’t. Instead, I did my best to blind her with the flash of my camera. Good Times.

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2. She did A LOT of acrobatics during the show, but I was like, “I’ve seen this before.” In my head, she’d done a lot of this in the 2009 concert, so it wasn’t fresh. Been there, done that. However, as luck would have it, Palladia (a TV show I adore and blogged about) aired that 2009 concert Saturday, so I was able to compare. Woo hoo! She did a little bit of flying back then, but she amped it up big time this time around. I guess she was testing the waters back then. I saw her do the acrobatic stuff on a couple of award shows and wrongly assumed that was her old show, but it wasn’t.

So I was being a little harder than I should have been. Acrobatic, flying around stuff was supercool while singing and sounding great at the same time. Thumbs up!

3. I laughed in the middle of the show when they played a video about how she won a talent contest when she was 13 and released her first CD in 2000 back when she was pop/R&B Pink instead of the pop/Rock Pink we all know and love today. It was a big flashing light that “these next songs are going to be weird and different from my recent stuff.” She performed a melody of the singles from that CD, including “There You Go.” I was obsessed with this song when I was in college. I don’t know why, but I was.

I was glad she did them, especially when I watched the 2009 tour and she did not.

4. I don’t like looking up setlists before going to shows. I like it to be a surprise. Which is why as the concert neared its end, I kept thinking, “Surely she’s not going to do this concert and not perform True Love, my favorite song on her latest CD.”

But that’s exactly what she did. I never even contemplated that she wouldn’t do the song because she’s performed it before. She did it during her VH-1 Storytellers (which I saw on Palladia – told ya I love that channel!). I was going to link to a Youtube video of the video, but it appears not to exist – lol. Luckily, I found the entire Storytellers episode on VH1’s website. I thought it was a really good episode and highly recommend it. It was way better than someone else’s episode. I won’t names, but she felt the need to go into character for each song. *cue eyeroll*

Anyway, back to the point. Here’s the video of True Love if you don’t want to watch the entire episode for some crazy, ridiculous reason. I love this song because it’s sweet and funny and true. So upset she didn’t do it during the concert.

Oh, wait. She did show a video at the end of the concert of some behind the scenes stuff that used True Love as the background music, but that didn’t count! If I wanted to hear a recorded version of the song, I could have popped in my CD.

Overall thoughts – Pink put on a fun, funny, sometimes risque, entertaining show. She sounded great. It’s always fun to be in the company of thousands who enjoy the same thing you do. Glad I went. Thumbs up.

Up next: Kelly Clarkson this Friday. Can’t wait.

All play and no work? Hey, I was at Disney World!

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This photo cracks me up. Hey, Boo!

This photo cracks me up. Hey, Boo!

A few weeks ago, I went to a work conference being held at WALT DISNEY WORLD. SCORE! #winning! And any other cool terms I can’t think of right now or just don’t know because I’m not cool.

So yeah, I adore Walt Disney World and will look for any excuse I can think of to go there. The last time I was there was in 2010 for the Romance Writers of America conference. However, as I  I wandered through the parks on this last trip, I remembered that I only spent half a day at the Magic Kingdom during the RWA trip, so really it had been since December 2008 that I spent any quality time in the parks.

I was shocked by this. Where did the time go?

Most things were the same at the World, but a few had changed, which is as it should be. It keeps things fresh and interesting for me. A few highlights of the trip…

A view of the Grand Floridian from the monorail

A view of the Grand Floridian from the monorail

1. OMG, the hotel! The Grand Floridian is Disney’s flagship hotel and I got to stay there! My employer paid for my hotel during the conference. The official conference hotel was the Contemporary, but it sold out and the Disney rep asked if I minded staying at the overflow hotel, the GF. Um, yeah, I think that will be okay. I’ve always wanted to stay at one of Disney’s deluxe hotels, but I’m way too cheap to pay the asking price. But if someone else is footing the bill? Heck, yeah. Sign me up.

The hotel was beautiful, of course, but another benefit of staying at the GF was that I got to ride the monorail a lot because the conference was at the Contemporary. And now I’m officially in love. I’ve heard other Disneyphiles rhapsodizing about the monorail’s convenience and now I fully understand why. The monorail only stops at a few of Disney’s hotels. I never waited long for one and most of the time I had a seat. Granted, it was late January, not the middle of July, but still…

2. You want some mayo with those fries? On my Hollywood Studios day, I was eating dinner at a table outside when two teenagers plopped down at my table, which was cool. It was crowded and I was taking up a big table by myself because I couldn’t find a small table. Anywho, they started talking and I tried to figure out where they were from. England? No, I didn’t think so because the girl said something and I had no idea what she said although she was only a few feet away. South Africa, maybe? Since it wasn’t really any of my business, I didn’t ask.

Not even when the boy poured ketchup and mayo all over his fries. But when the girl asked him for a packet of mayo and poured it all over her fries, I couldn’t hold it back anymore. I asked where they were from. New Zealand. Aww, so close. I asked if it was common for New Zealanders to put mayo on their fries. After a few seconds, they said yes, although they’d never thought about it before. They were working at Disney in the college program and had been in the States for two weeks.

3. You’re going to want to sleep in this ride. So when I rode Hollywood Tower of Terror, a dad sat in the row in front of me with his daughter. She couldn’t have been older than 4 or 5. He was really psyching her up. “You’re going to love this! You’re going to want to sleep in this ride!” In my head, I’m going, “No, she’s not. She’s going to hate it.” In case you don’t know, Tower of Terror is a sudden, elevator drop ride. It’s not as crazy as similar rides at Six Flags and other amusement parks, but it’s still pretty intense. So, anyway, we rode the ride. I clutched the handrail as hard as I can and yelled the whole way. As the ride ends, I hear this little voice in front of me. “Again, again, again!” I guess Daddy knew best.

4. Are you from the United States? While at the Magic Kingdom, my phone battery started to die. I found an electrical outlet outside of a building. Better yet, there was a bench next to the outlet, so I plopped down and went to charging. The bench was also across the way from a restroom. So an old man sat next to me while his family used the facilities. I smiled and nodded at him and went back to reading Twitter on the phone. All of a sudden I hear, “Are you from the United States?” Yes, old man was talking to me.

I understand why he asked. One of the coolest things about Disney World is the sheer amount of languages and accents you hear just walking through the parks. It was funny. He probably could have phrased the question in a more polite way, but it was cool. After I told him yes, he asked about my cool Crocs because he was from Colorado near the Crocs headquarters.

The American Idol Experience

The American Idol Experience

5. Fake American Idol makes me just as mad as real American Idol. I love American Idol, so I was really excited to try out the American Idol Experience, in which park guests audition and participate in an American Idol-like show. They sing, they get critiqued by 3 judges, and there’s a Ryan Seacrest wannabe judge, and the audience votes on the winner. They have about 4 of these shows throughout the day and then have a show at night with all of the winners and one grand prize winner is announced. The grand prize winner gets a “head of the line” pass for the real American Idol auditions. They don’t have to camp out with the masses.

I went to a morning session and loved it, so I had to go to the evening session to see if my girl won. And she didn’t! I was so mad. I’m fully convinced that they gave it to the teenager because she was the right age and my girl was “over the hill” because she was in her 30s. Hmmph.

suitcase

6. And one bad thing. Yep, that’s my suitcase. Sometime between when I checked in my bag at the airport and when it was delivered to my hotel room, it lost a wheel. Sigh. I’ve wanted new luggage for a while. Now, I have the perfect excuse to get some. #silverlining – But if that was the worst thing to happen, then it was a fabulous trip.

Okay, this post is really long, so I’ll stop now. Enjoy a few photos from the trip with some witty, insightful, HI-LARIOUS captions.

And, oh, yeah, I can’t wait to go back!

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Dear RGIII

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rg3

Oh, Robert Griffin III. I like you, even though you play for the hated Washington Redskins. You’re articulate and a fellow Texan. I feel pride seeing a black quarterback succeed in the NFL when that opportunity was blocked for so many decades because of the implicit and often explicit belief that black men weren’t smart enough to play the position or lead a team.

However, after watching yesterday’s playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks and listening to some of your postgame comments, I want to smack you upside the head.

I understand. Professional athletes are ultracompetitive. They have to be to in order to rise to the professional ranks. That competitiveness is their greatest asset, but it’s also their greatest weakness. They have such a myopic view of the world. They feel that if they don’t play in this ONE game, then the world is going to collapse around them. They don’t think about the repercussions their decisions can have on their lives long after their playing days are over.

When I was in graduate school, I took Sociology of Sport. While what we studied could often be classified as common sense, it was still eye-opening for me. At that point, I’d been a huge sports fan for over fifteen years and had been fully immersed in that culture and accepting of the cultural norms. The biggest cultural norm being hypermasculinity. If you listen to sports broadcasters during games or on Sportscenter, they’ll often call athletes who play through pain “real” men and ideal teammates, i.e. people we should aspire to be like. That attitude is so pervasive hardly anyone contradicts it, least of all the athletes who are putting themselves in harm’s way.

“You respect authority, and I respect Coach Shanahan,” you said after the game. “But at the same time, you have to step up and be a man, sometimes. There was no way I was coming out of that game.”

Oh, RGIII.

I know. You didn’t want to let down your team. An admirable quality, but knowing your limits and accepting them doesn’t make you less of a man. Being a man has nothing to do with playing a sport.

Here’s the thing. You just completed your first season. You have many more games to play and, if you’re lucky, championships to win. This one game was not going to put you in the Hall of Fame, but it had the potential to destroy any chance of that ever happening if your knee never fully recovers.

You weren’t giving your team the best chance to win playing on that bum knee (but since even your coach refused to acknowledge this fact, maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on you). And it was bum. It wasn’t something you could just walk off.

You are a man, even if you never step foot on a football field again. It’s time to make smart decisions that will benefit you and your team for years to come, not for one game or one season.

Real men understand the journey is long.

Steel Magnolias Remake: Yay?!

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If anyone mentions Dirty Dancing or Steel Magnolias, I always say it’s my favorite movie. They’re like 1a and 1b for me. I’ve seen them both a million times, and enjoy each like it’s the first time every time I watch.

When I was a kid, I would watch Steel Magnolias every day. My mom would ask why I was watching it again. It’s so sad, she would say. It is, but it’s also hilarious was always my response.

I love Steel Magnolias so much that I read the play it’s adapted from. No, I didn’t see the play. I read the play. That’s love.

Last week, Lifetime released the trailer for its all-black remake of Steel Magnolias. I knew they were making it. I just wasn’t sure what my reaction should be. And I’m still not.

As a general rule, I don’t see the point in remakes, especially when the remake adheres so strictly to the original. But then I think of a remake that I do enjoy and I wonder if I’m being too harsh.

I saw the original Parent Trap with Hayley Mills as a kid because it was mentioned several times in The Babysitters Club. Then Lindsay Lohan’s version was released, and I enjoy it almost as much as the original. They changed just enough the story to make it seem fresh, but still remain faithful and respectful to the original.

But then we have the Footloose remake. I haven’t seen it, but I did see the trailer, and it didn’t look like they had changed anything beyond the choreography, which begged the question – what was the point? I haven’t felt compelled to watch it. Perhaps I’m being too harsh, but from the outside looking in, that’s how it looked.

So when I saw the link on Twitter for the Steel Magnolias trailer, I hesitated for a few seconds and then clicked. What would I get? Similar, but different enough or the same thing?

Have I mentioned that I’ve seen Steel Magnolias a million times? There are only a handful of movies for which I can recite most of the dialogue.

So, yeah, that trailer? At least 95% of the dialogue is the same, which begs the question – what’s different from the original version that made a remake a necessity?

Yeah, they changed the characters to be black, but is that really enough of a difference to justify a new movie? I guess I should reserve judgment until I see it. Maybe they will surprise me.

And I will be watching if only to see what they did to my favorite movie. I won’t be able to help myself.

Sigh.

Which I guess is the reason Lifetime made the movie in the first place.

Dallas: Back to the Future

Last year, when I heard that TNT was rebooting the iconic TV series, Dallas, I got excited. Although I don’t remember a lot of details, I do remember watching it when I was a kid. I always love a good soap opera. And I’m from Dallas.

I finally got to watch it, and I wasn’t disappointed. I squeed a little at the opening montage with the familiar theme song and the even more familiar city landmarks. The show itself more than lived up to its promise of soapy goodness. I’ll definitely be watching again.


And yet…the show is called Dallas. It’s not called Rich People Backstabbing Each Other. Although that would be an apropos title, as well. So because it is called Dallas, the city is another character that is showcased. I appreciated that the producers want the show to be as authentic as possible. If for no other reason, shooting here puts money into the local economy yada yada yada.

But I did scratch my head a few times, notably in a few scenes with John Ross, JR’s son. John Ross had a few clandestine meetings, one in the middle of Cowboys Stadium. Yeah, that’s not the place I’d have a clandestine meeting. Maybe in the parking lot, but they’re not just going to waltz on to the field. The stadium isn’t open to any old body, not even the filthy rich. And if you do want to go in, someone is going to ask why.

The second secret meeting took place on some tram thing, and I was really confused. I was thinking that they must have shot that scene in LA, and then I saw the ferris wheel in the background, and I knew where they were – the fairgrounds. But the fair is only here for a month. Maybe the tram is in use other times, but I doubt it. The fairgrounds probably are a good clandestine meeting place, but the tram? Um, OK.

Now, I’m sure I only noticed these things because I’m a Dallasite, and that if the show took place elsewhere, I never would have noticed the odd location choices.

But I chuckled. And scratched my head.

I can’t wait for the next episode and see what other local hotspots I notice.

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