A Thin Line

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July 2010 - Posts

Parasols and dinner on the grounds...it's the Southern way
There are certain things that only happen in the South...things that just make life here better than anywhere else.

For example, in the South, you will find Southern Belles. A Belle dresses like a lady, not a lady of the night; keeps a smile on her face that could melt the heart of an IRS agent; is always ready to share the news, but knows how to keep family secrets; keeps everything ship-shape, including penmanship, fellowship and stewardship; and lets a gentleman be a gentleman by allowing him to open the door for her.

Southern Belles are defined as females from the Southern U.S., that possesses beauty, charm, style, strength, intelligence and wit. Some call them pampered and spoiled, but a more trained eye will see that a Belle simply uses her God-given talents in order to charm those around her into seeing things her way.

Want to be a Belle? Here's how:

1) Offer a Mint Julep or sweet iced tea to everyone who visits your house.
2) Eat grits every day, but do not put sugar or milk on them. Butter, salt and pepper are allowed.
3) Refer to your house as "the plantation" no matter how small your house may be.
4) Refer to all men as your gentlemen callers or beaux.
5) When you have more than one date in a night, claim to be "expired" and excuse yourself for a nap until he leaves.
6) Whenever you are asked to exert yourself, wave one or both of your hands toward your body and claim to have the "vapors."
7) Refer to every party you attend as "the cotillion."
8) Try to sprinkle your words with endearments like darlin', sugar or precious.
9) Sit under magnolia trees with a parasol, and fan yourself often. Passers-by will take notice of your belle-ness.
10) Never be seen without your makeup and girdle.

Another great Southern tradition is dinner on the grounds (in some areas, it's referred to as a covered dish dinner). In the South, people get up on Sunday mornings and go to church. And as soon as the final "amen" is uttered – usually at the latest, 12:15, as any respectable Southern preacher knows – lunch is served.

This type of lunch is a wondrous thing. You can find fried chicken, biscuits, all kinds of fresh veggies, chicken and dumplings, macaroni and cheese (homemade, of course), congealed salad, potato salad...the list goes on. You can also count on there being loads of sweet iced tea and tons of homemade pies and cakes. If you're lucky, some sweet grandma will have made one of those homemade cakes with about 20 very thin layers and homemade icing. Yum!

All of the food is set up on long tables, covered in white paper. Sometimes the tables are set up in the fellowship hall, and other times, if it's not too hot, you'll find them set up outside. Everybody lines up, letting the older folks and Mamas getting plates for the young'uns, go first.

People heap their plates with the wondrous culinary delights, and find a front step, a picnic table, a table inside a Sunday School room or a shady spot on the grass, and settle down to eat.

After everyone's eaten their fill, and you feel just about like you're going to pop, they start bringing out the churns of homemade ice cream. During the summer time, the ice cream is particularly choice. That's when there's lots of fresh fruit – strawberries, peaches, watermelon – and it all gets added to those churns.

No matter how much you've eaten, you hoist yourself up, and waddle over to the table where all the ice cream is lined up. You can't say no and you don't want to hurt anybody's feelings, so even though you might have a favorite, you get a cup or bowl and get a spoonful of each flavor. It's the Southern way.

After the ice cream, all the ladies start collecting their platters, bowls and serving dishes, and everyone heads home to nap.

Southern Belles and dinner on the grounds...it doesn't get any better than this, precious.
Posted: Jul 27 2010, 05:13 PM by Red On The Head | with no comments
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The punk that stole childhood
What happened to our sweet little Cindy Lou Who?

The cherub-faced, adorable little blonde 7-year-old has become a not-so-sweet 16-year-old who loves black eyeliner, swears, is an underage smoker, wears stripper heels, and sports underwear as outer wear.

Taylor Momsen, who will turn 17 July 26, stole our hearts as little Cindy Lou in "How The Grinch Stole Christmas." She began acting at 6 years old, and starred in a national commercial for Shake & Bake. She now plays Jenny Humphrey on "Gossip Girl," and fronts her own band, The Pretty Reckless. Momsen sings, writes music and plays guitar for the group, whose lyrics speak of drug abuse and underage sex. The band gets fairly good reviews, and Momsen can actually sing, but she's trying too hard to sell herself as a punker. Her penchant for wearing garters and thigh-highs, along with lingerie on stage is something she says she does to be herself, but she's become a carbon copy of Cherie Currie, who dressed similarly as a member of the Runaways.

St. Louis native Momsen has garnered attention for her acting chops. She auditioned for the part of Disney's "Hannah Montana," but was beat out by Miley Cyrus, who became famous because of the role. She has also modeled, and has been named the new face of Madonna's first clothing line, Material Girl, a collaborative project with Madonna's daughter, Lourdes.

Momsen says she's no role model. She admits her behavior is a bit extreme, but shrugs off the negative attention it brings. She doesn't like to be compared to other celebrities her age, and bristled in particular at a comparison to Cyrus.

But the most recent comparison is to now-jailed Lindsay Lohan, and many wonder if Momsen is headed down a similar path. She has no DUIs or drug use under her belt yet, but her outlandish behavior and way-too-entitled attitude are similar to Lohan's behavior in recent years. And it's a sobering thought, considering where Lohan has wound up.

In fact, there are lots of stories about childhood stars who found it difficult to segue into adulthood. Many of them ended in tragedy. Who could forget Dana Plato, Todd Bridges and Gary Coleman, all of "Different Strokes" fame? Then there's Corey Haim, Danny Bonaduce, Jodie Sweetin, Dustin Diamond...the list goes on.

But why do these young people struggle so?

Perhaps it's because, like Momsen's "Gossip Girl" character, they just never really find a place to fit in, and are doomed to wander, trying to fill that empty space with whatever might work.

Perhaps it's because the Hollywood machine treats them like little adults when they're still toddlers, and they grow up way too fast. These little kids have fame, fortune and all that comes with it thrust into their pockets early on, but no one teaches them how to deal with it.

Maybe it's because they are surrounded, from an early age, with people who tell them what they want to hear and they get away with such bad behavior because they aren't held accountable at all. No matter what they do, it seems to be okay, as long as they keep "performing."

What happened to our sweet little Cindy Lou?

...And the child, with her black eyeliner applied just so,
Stood puzzling and puzzling; "How could it be so?"
It came despite attitude! It came despite fame!
It came despite lights, cameras and paps calling my name!
And she puzzled for hours, 'til her puzzler was sore.
Then the child thought of something she hadn't before.
"Maybe childhood," she thought, "doesn't mean I'm a bore.
"Maybe childhood...perhaps...should mean a bit more!"
And what happened then...?
Well..in Whoville they say
That the child's maturity
Grew three sizes that day.
And the minute she realized a great woman she could be,
Was the day the child learned to be who she is truly.

Posted: Jul 23 2010, 11:49 AM by Red On The Head | with no comments
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If it's as big as your head, don't eat it
Really, Carl Jr.? Really...?

Carl's Jr., also known as Hardee's, is testing the waters on a new product. A foot-long hamburger. Really. No. I'm serious. A foot-long burger.

The heart-attack-on-a-bun features three meat patties, three slices of cheese and all the fixin's, all on a bun. It costs $4 without lettuce and tomatoes, and $4.50 with. Ironic, huh? The only healthy thing on the sandwich rates a 50-cent price hike. The new sandwich (es???) will be featured at 50 restaurants in Southern California and 50 restaurants in Indiana. Guess they have stronger constitutions there. Perhaps more demanding palates? They'll certainly have bigger posteriors at the end of this test run – the thing has 1,400 calories.

This isn't the restaurant chain's first foray into high fat offerings. They were the guys who offered the 1,400-calorie Monster Burger, and the Monster Breakfast Sandwich, which packed a whopping 47 grams of fat.

And they're not even the first to provide higher-fat, size-does-matter offerings. Mulligan's in Decatur, Ga., offers up the Luther burger, named for singer Luther Vandross. This concoction features a burger, cheese and bacon on, wait for it...a Krispy Kreme doughnut. This bad boy has 45 grams of fat and 1,000 calories. Then there's the bunless Double Down offered by Kentucky Fried Chicken. This bun-less wonder contains 31 grams of fat and 590 calories. Sonic offers a foot-long, quarter-pound chili cheese dog, called a "Coney," which packs 810 calories and 53 grams of fat. There's even a restaurant in Champaign, Ill. that boasts a "burrito as big as your head."

What is this world coming to? Why is it that we can no longer be satisfied with a normal hamburger? Isn't a regular hot dog enough? When will you people ever be satisfied?

If you've traveled to other countries, you know that super-sizing portions is most definitely an American thing. People in other countries just don't seem to be as greedy as we are. But why do we demand super-sized portions anyway?

Some think it's because we believe we deserve it. We work hard. We provide for our families. We do the right thing. So we deserve a bigger burger. It's a reward of sorts. But is it really?

A 2004 study proved that Americans are eating more. Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention evaluated the caloric consumption of average Americans between 1971 and 2000, and found that men were eating about 200 more calories a day, and women were eating about 335 calories a day, than they did at the beginning of the study. Portion size in both food and drinks has increased drastically, particularly in salty snacks, hamburgers, french fries and Mexican food. The greatest increases in portion size happened at, you guessed it, fast food restaurants.

As a result, obesity has become a pandemic, and incidents of heart disease, diabetes and stroke are up. We have higher levels of bad cholesterol, while we have lower levels of the good cholesterol. We have high blood pressure. And we have a higher risk of cancer, depression and social isolation.

So what do we do? Learn what portion sizes are correct. If you are confused as to what this is, here are some easy ways to visualize what a true portion size looks like.

• A woman's fist or baseball is a serving size of vegetables or fruit.
• A rounded handful is about one half cup of cooked or raw vegetables or cut fruit, or 1/2 a cup of cooked rice or pasta. It's also a good size for a snack of chips or pretzels.
• A deck of cards or the palm of your hand is about the right size for a serving of meat or poultry.
• Golf ball or a large egg – that's the right size for a quarter cup of dried fruit or nuts.
• A tennis ball is about one half cup of ice cream.
• A baked potato, single serving, should be about the size of a computer mouse.
• A compact disc is the size of one serving of pancake or small waffle.
• The tip of your thumb is about one teaspoon of peanut butter, a single serving.
• Six dice represent one serving of cheese.
• Your checkbook is about the size of a single serving of fish.

So the next time you're tempted to say, "super size it" when placing an order, stop and think about what it really means. And don't eat the burrito as big as your head.

Posted: Jul 16 2010, 10:15 AM by Red On The Head | with no comments
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Baptist sweet tea, Methodist gin and some really ripe tomatoes...that's summertime
Southern women do not sweat. We glisten. We shimmer. We glow. We get the "va-puhs." But we do not sweat. But somehow, we still manage to deal with the heat and humidity of summer. It's like we are just born with this knowledge.

I lived in the Northwest for a couple of years, and while there, I discovered that what I had suspected all along was true. Non-southern women know nothing about heat.

I was amazed that when it was above 80 degrees in Oregon, people began to clamor, "I just can't take this heat!" They began to don skin-baring clothing, search for fans or air conditioning, and kick off their shoes. I was amazed. Those of us from the South know that 80 degrees isn't hot. It's spring.

Back in the day, Southerners with the means left town when it became hot. That's how the resorts in North Carolina's mountains became resorts. A lot of folks just stayed home and sat out on the veranda (that's porch to you folks from the North) and sipped iced drinks. If you were Baptist, you drank iced sweet tea. If you were of any other denomination, you sipped gin that had been kept in the freezer. Some folks drank Mint Juleps. By the way, drinking alcohol doesn't make you cooler, it just makes you happier about not being cooler. That's what I've been told.

Southerners are criticized for moving and talking slowly. It would appear to some that this is a sign of slowness of mind or body. This just isn't true. We move more slowly in when it's hot because it's just the smart thing to do. There's simply no need to be brisk if you don't want to come down with a heat stroke.

A lot of Southern folk lose their appetites in the summertime. That is, until the tomatoes start to come in. Once those are in, you're set...tomato sandwiches all around. Tomato sandwiches make you feel better no matter how hot it gets.

I have it on good authority that the best way to make a tomato sandwich is this: get a really ripe tomato, two slices of good toast, some Duke's mayonnaise (this is important...it must be Duke's) and butter. Yes. Butter. You'll also need some salt, freshly-ground black pepper and some sugar. Yep. Sugar.

Slice the tomato nice and thick. Butter the toast, then put some mayonnaise on each slice of bread. Then lay on two or three slices of tomato and sprinkle on the desired amount of salt and pepper, and just a pinch of sugar.

Roll up your sleeves, lean over the sink and take your first bite. You'll taste all the ingredients, along with the summer heat, without which there would be no big, juicy tomatoes.

And yes, you should let the juice run down your arms.
Posted: Jul 09 2010, 11:55 AM by Red On The Head | with no comments
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Spin DC, spin – and bring back Wonder Woman's costume
Okay...there are some things that just shouldn't change. The way ice cream has that little pointy peak on it when you get it in a cone....the way wind through the trees sounds...how sparkly a diamond is in the sunlight...how vigorously a dog wags his tail when you come home...no one should mess with those things.

And they should have left Wonder Woman's costume alone.

It was announced in late June that Wonder Woman would have a "bold new look" for the 21st century. Her new getup features long pants (gasp!) and a jacket. She's still got her bracelets and tiara, along with her magic lasso of truth.

For years, feminists targeted the comic book staple for her revealing costume. If you've been under a rock for the past 70 years, you might not know that she previously sported a strapless swimsuit number, bearing the stars and stripes...kind of like a very patriotic one-piece swimsuit. It was thought, by those who opposed the costume, that it was demeaning to women and reduced a would-be hero to, well, boobs and booty.

I just wondered how she managed to keep all of her wobbly bits in place when she was kicking butt.

When I was a kid, my friends and I used to take tin foil and make WW bracelets and tiaras, and we'd fight crime together. We didn't care that WW was wearing essentially a swimsuit that barely covered her, um, assets. We just knew she kicked butt. And we wanted to be just like her.

I have to say, I've spun in circles, round and round, and "magically" donned the bracelets and tiara. And I've yelled, "Pe-yu, pe-yu!" as my bracelets deflected bullets, just like Wonder Woman's did.

I grew up with brothers, and while they idolized Bat Man, Super Man and even that wuss, Aqua Man, I was ecstatic to find Wonder Woman and know there was an awesome female heroine I could emulate other than the wannabes, Bat Girl and Super Girl. Humph. Cheap knock-offs.

This new look? Well...I've seen a photo of it and I am unimpressed. She no longer looks the part of an Amazonian princess come to save us all. She looks like any chick on the street with some wacky shoulder pads and over-the-top accessories.

Bring back her old costume, DC Comics. Don't make me get my magic lasso.
Posted: Jul 02 2010, 02:01 PM by Red On The Head | with no comments
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