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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Seven stages of sinus sufferance

It's part of my job to let people know where to go and what to do in Shreveport. Eat here, see this movie, drink this drink, hear this band, etc. But today, I'm going to take a different approach and tell you guys about a few things you don't want to do in town.

These places are recent discoveries of mine and date back just a few months to the kickoff of 2007, when my once-a-year sinus condition became a full-blown, 12-month epidemic. Here's my list of no-gos:

1. Ear, Nose and Throat Doctor: After three visits to an un-named doctor's office, I realized how much fun I was not having. You're surrounded by people coughing, breathing heavily (and at times wheezing), sneezing and irritable because of their symptoms. I found myself sitting here every two weeks because inevitably when my prescription would end, my symptoms returned. While waiting, you can't even enjoy the Newsweek sitting on the waiting room coffee table unless you're willing to risk possibly catching the bubonic plague. Cough, cough, turn the page, get a life-threatening disease ... I don't think so.

2. CT Scan Wearing Unattractive Sinus Surgery Headgear: After an x-ray determined there was a cyst in my right sinus, my doctor prepped me for surgery, which required a CT scan of my head. A white plastic apparatus was plugged in my ears and nose and wrapped around my head. For nearly 20 minutes, the device squeezed my head like a grape. I was told to keep to the device because I'd need it for surgery, or if I ever wanted a starring role in a "Saw" flick or needed a good Halloween costume.

3. The Other Ear, Nose and Throat Doctor: When dealing with surgery, a second opinion is always a good idea, or at least that's what my parents said. So, I went to The Other Doctor and sat with the same grouchy people, reading the same infected magazines. This doctor was convinced he could rid me of the cyst without surgery, a technique he referred to as "a sinus wash." Sounds lovely right? Perhaps it would be similar to some exotic spa treatment. Instead, I choose to call this procedure "absolute hell." He rammed as many foreign things into my sinus to rid me of my cyst. Nothing happened and my problem remained.

4. 61 Pokes in the Arm: The Other Doctor recommended allergy testing before resorting to surgery. So, I spent two hours with a lady named Charlotte, chatting about weather and pets as she injected 61 needles in my arm, creating an interesting pattern probably never to be used by a tattoo artist. The good news is this was the only time I've gotten to sit in a recliner at the doctor's office and I had some gnarly evidence that I really was sick.

5. Results Are In: Charlotte sits me down a week later to break the bad news to me. I'm allergic to it all: wine, beer, cheese, my dog, bermuda grass, anything people consider fun. Life as I know it has ended, as well as my lovely run with two down pillows and a down mattress pad, which I'm also allergic to.

6. An Appointment with Charlotte for the Next Three Years: Now, once a week I visit Charlotte. I'm in and out with no time to sit in the recliner. She alternates which arm she pricks each week and the good news is surgery has been avoided. I'm supposed to wait for 15 minutes after my shot to make sure I don't have some bizarre reaction to my meds. Don't tell Charlotte, but I always sneak out early.

7. What Remains of My Allergies Remains in My Trunk: The revelation of exactly what I'm allergic to has kept me feeling better along with whatever goods Charlotte puts in my arm each week. But evidence of my four-month struggle can be seen simply be peering into the back window of my SUV. There you will find a sinus headset, down mattress pad and two fluffy down pillows.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Musical mysteries unfold

My music-loving friends and I sometimes debate what makes music good. Is good music made by lyrics or the music itself? I always argue for the words. I'm a journalist, of course this is the side I choose. While, my band friends think the words just give the music a story.
In my opinion, lyrics are the heart of a song. Sometimes you can listen to a song and the words relate to something in your life and it sticks with you. If good music was just about stringing together chords, then catchy songs like Britney Spears' "Hit Me Baby One More Time" would be described as our favorites still today. The music only lasts so long, but the stories give us sentimental attachment and establish or lifelong favorites.
My far-away friend Matt (who is also responsible for 70 percent of the interesting content on this blog) sent me this list compiled by Rolling Stone. The list features 25 Songs with A Secret, some of which I find laughable.
So, whatever your take on the subject, even if you think the music makes the song, take some time to appreciate the words.

  1. “Louie Louie” – The Kingsmen: Though the song was originally written by Richard Berry, the Kingsmen’s version was a huge hit and inspired an equally huge controversy when rumors spread the virtually inaudible lyrics were super dirty. The FBI even investigated the potentially un-American nastiness of the song’s message (their theories on what they lyrics say are hysterical) but ultimately it was concluded that the song was not bound to defile an entire generation of young minds.
  2. “Lola” – The Kinks: Thought to be about a beautiful woman, actually inspired by an incident in which Kinks’ manager Robert Wace spent a drunken night dancing with a transvestite he mistook for a woman.
  3. “Born in the USA” – Bruce Springsteen: Misperceived as a nationalistic anthem, is really a dark portrait of post-Vietnam life.
  4. “One” – U2: Depending on who you ask, this song is about everything from a young man trying to tell his father about his HIV-positive status, to buffaloes, but the track is widely believed to have been inspired by Bono’s relationship with his own father.
  5. “Rainy Day Women #12 & #35” – Bob Dylan: With its lyrical proclamation, “everybody must get stoned” the song was embraced as a stoner’s anthem, but the song is actually about the literal throwing of stones.
  6. “Please Please Me” – The Beatles: Thought to be a cute little teenage love song, is actually about oral sex.
  7. “Alison” – Elvis Costello: Yeah, it’s a song about betrayal and misery directed at a member of the opposite sex, but it's not about murder, as many have speculated.
  8. “One I Love” – R.E.M.: Thought to be about the one he loves, is actually meant to be ironic.
  9. “Edge of Seventeen”- Stevie Nicks: Thought to be about teen angst and or drug addiction, is actually about the deaths of John Lennon and Nicks’ uncle.
  10. “Pictures of Lily” – The Who: Thought to be a sweet love song, is actually about a young boy’s obsession with a porn star.
  11. “Polly” – Nirvana: Misunderstood by frat boys to glorify rape, was actually inspired by a true story in which a rape victim escaped from her captor.
  12. “She Bop” – Cyndi Lauper: Thought to be a charming and innocent song about a girl dancing around, is actually about masturbation.
  13. “Hey Jude” – The Beatles: Some suspect the song is about taking heroin, it was actually written by Paul McCartney for John’s son Julian.
  14. “Pretzel Logic” – Steely Dan: Mistakenly thought to be about Adolf Hitler.
  15. “Crystal Blue Persuasion” – Tommy James & The Shondells: The song was misunderstood to be about making crystal meth, when the actual inspiration was a description of Heaven in “The Book of Revelation.”
  16. “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” – The Beatles: Though this song is widely assumed to be about LSD, the official statement is that the song was inspired by Julian Lennon’s drawing … which John Lennon was looking at while high on LSD. Just kidding. The song has nothing to do with drugs (officially). Seriously. Drawings. Not drugs. Got it?
  17. “Harder to Breathe” – Maroon 5: Originally this song was thought to be about a troubled romance and or stalker-like-tendencies of a particularly pissed off lover, but Levine says it was inspired by record company pressure to write more singles.
  18. “Pennyroyal Tea” – Nirvana: Thought to be inspired by many things, including a tea Kurt drank to ease his stomach pain, was actually inspired by an herbal remedy meant to cause an abortion.
  19. “In the Air Tonight” – Phil Collins: Widely thought to be about a drowning incident, is actually about divorce.
  20. “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)”– Green Day: Misperceived as a love song, is really about a bitterness-filled breakup.
  21. “Take Me Out” – Franz Ferdinand: Fans have speculated that the song is about a troubled couple who just can’t get their adolescent hearts together, it’s actually inspired by the assassination of Austria-Hungarian Archduke Franz Ferdinand.
  22. “Some Candy Talking” – Jesus and Mary Chain: Though every other Jesus and Mary Chain song ever written seems to have a trippy theme and or feel, the band insists this song is not, as many believe, about heroin. Not. About. Drugs. Officially.
  23. “Girl” – Beck: Thought to be a love song, is actually about nefarious seduction that ends in murder.
  24. “Drain You” – Nirvana: Thought to be just another song about heroin, is actually about a case in which one twin baby stole the nutrients from its twin while in the womb, resulting in one stillbirth.
  25. “Dier Eir von Satan” – Tool: Thought to be about something to do with Satan, the lyrics, which are all in German, actually consist entirely of a repeating recipe for hashish cookies.

Friday, April 20, 2007

I wear my sunglasses at the airport too

My friend Kate and I were at a movie recently when the preview for "Oceans Thirteen" rolled across the screen. The above image was included in the preview and had us laughing instantly.

In September, I took a trip to Las Vegas with two of my best friends Kate and Sass. After a long week on the strip, we sat in the Vegas airport exhausted, in what looks like the very same seats pictured above, doing the exact same thing for about an hour, wearing the same dark-tinted sunglasses. As I told Kate, naturally, I'm the George Clooney of the group. A little older, sophisticated, not a hair out of place, right?

I don't know if she agreed with my theory, but the uncanny resemblence had us in stitches. Except our sunglasses are a little bigger. Don't you agree?

Have a good weekend.

Spider-Man spins new web with jazz hands

My friend LJ and I were talking about U2 the other day. Not an unusual conversation considering the biggest band on earth is also my favorite band on earth. We were talking about songs like "With or Without You" and "Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" and the emotion these songs carry.

We decided that some songs have a time and place. These U2 favorites were meant for night listening. Preferably in a car, with the windows rolled down on a country road.

While we enjoy our "Joshua Tree," Bono and his band mates are up to something we haven't seen from them before -- a musical. Bono has agreed to write the music and lyrics for "Spider-Man" on Broadway.

If anyone believes in Bono, it's me. What other musician can try to save the world and write hit songs simultaneously? Let's just hope Spider-Man is a good tap dancer.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The loss of our good friend

The Times newsroom suffered a major blow yesterday with the loss of our good friend Tim Greening.

He was a quiet person, but his quick dry wit could always make you laugh. On late nights at the office, when dinner breaks were out of the question, Tim would be on hand with a menu and a few bucks if needed. He was generous and an instant friend to everyone.

When I was comfortable designing pages on the copy desk, Tim was the first person to encourage me to write. He coaxed me into writing Dinner Dates and offered encouragement and advice each step of the way. Of course, it was easy advice to take from someone who made it look so easy. Tim's columns make you laugh out loud. He was a treasure and will be missed.

Here's one of my favorites, "Get out your decoder ring for the dark con of movies" on Dec. 23, 2006.

I knew I was in trouble just a few minutes into the movie "The Da Vinci Code," which I watched earlier this week, when a character said something along the lines of "Ah, yes, the Fibbanucci numbers."
"Not the Fibbunacci numbers!!" I exclaimed.
And then "the Priory of Scion." And "Opus Dei."
Of course, I had no idea what the Fibbanucci numbers are, and, frankly, I still don't. But I was worried that it's not enough for me to have to figure out a Da Vinci Code, now I have to decipher the Fibbanucci numbers and scion priories and opus deis?
And then I think I fell asleep. Because "The Da Vinci Code" is DULL. Dull, dull, dull. Secret societies mean nothing of you don't give a flip.
Not exaggerating: It took me three days to get 36 minutes into the movie, an average of 12 minutes a day, and a fourth day to finally finish it. (Maybe those are the Fibbanucci numbers.)
There's so much talent involved, as I watched, it made me think "Look how much money and talent it takes to bore me."
Yet, it is the current biggest box-office hit in the world for 2006. I can only credit its success to the fact that moviegoers worldwide love a scene where a French actor looks into the camera and asks, "Quoi?" (It means "Why?" I agreed. "Why did I rent this? Why didn't someone warn me?")
The cast includes one of my favorite actors, Sir Ian McKellen, and two of the most popular actors in the world, Sir Tom Hanks and Sir Jean Reno (speaker of the "Quoi?") It also features one of the most beautiful actresses in the world, Sir Audrey Tatou, and was directed by one of Hollywood's most successful directors, Ron Howard, a.k.a. Sir Opie Cunningham.
To the film's credit, it has a few things going for it: Tatou, in my opinion, is truly among the most gorgeous women ever to appear on film "” I think she has a certain Ingrid Bergman quality. That carried me for a while.
And Tom Hanks' horrendous haircut is a thing of beauty, if only because it makes me feel good about my own bad haircut.
And Howard's direction makes it the most successful film about world religion ever directed by a cast member from "The Andy Griffith Show." (A close second is the little-known production of Don Knotts' "Barabbas.")
I also liked that so many clues were found behind fleurs de lis, which means Da Vinci was a New Orleans Saints fan. That's cool!
But still, how did this "Da Vinci" book sell seven billion copies, and how did this movie make $7 billion?
My main problem: The premise of "The Da Vinci Code" is that some of the greatest philosophical and religious mysteries in human existence boil down to the Hanks character being able to solve a centuries-old Jumble anagram. One that no one was able to solve before.
Mmmmm. Yeah. My own mother does 12 crossword puzzles a day, but all these centuries, no one could rearrange the Da Vinci anagrams? What's the sequel going to be like "” more mysteries of the universe come down to who can finish a Soduku puzzle?
So all I remember from the movie is that Sir Hanks and Sir Tatou run all over the place "” in a car the size of a skateboard "” to escape some self-flagellating albino monk who has sworn to give his life to protecting the big Jumble answer. (Silly monk "” the answer always runs with the next day's puzzle!)
Somewhere along the line, they come across the super-sized version of the Little Orphan Annie decoder ring from "A Christmas Story" which they also have to protect from the self-flagellating albino.
Which holds the secrets of the universe.
Why? Or should I say, "Quoi?"

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Back on my feet and out of my mind

Hey guys, sorry for the few days of no blogs. I came down with a fierce headache (a migraine, I believe) on Sunday, missed work Monday and my head has been enduring a long, slow, sore recovery for the past two days. But I'm feeling nearly 100 percent today, so that's good.

Kudos to my brother, Chris, who came to my rescue. When Little Sis is down he always comes through. This is a surprise to most who've heard the stories of how he threatened my life regularly when we were kids.

Yesterday, Chris called to check on my status. Apparently, I had some funny things to say soon after my Lortab kicked in. Before leaving my house, Chris came up to my room to make sure I was OK. I told him, "Just give me two and two, like Chuck Woolery, and I'll be great." According to Chris, I did the hand signal as well.

I have no idea where the Love Connection reference came from, but my only guess is when I got sick as a child I was always taken to my grandparent's house, the only place I ever watched Love Connection.

I had a cold washcloth over my head that night too. I still haven't found it. Oh, the mysteries of a migraine.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Can Indy do it again?

Growing up, it didn't get much better than Indiana Jones. Here was this normal guy. Deep in the jungle. He's an archaeologist who gets in over his head and knows exactly what to do. He battles bugs and gets the girl. Of course, to get the girl you've got to be able to battle the bugs (that's 30 percent of why us gals like you guys).

I'll never forget Indy walking through a crunchy tunnel of bugs in "Raiders of the Lost Ark." I think even today I'd have to cover my eyes through parts of that scene. Indiana Jones was never fearless, he was just an ordinary guy who managed to survive runaway mine carts, floods and collapsing rope bridges. And that's why we loved him. For the most part, he was just hanging on for dear life.

On May 22, 2008, the latest Indiana Jones adventure is set to hit theatres. But Harrison Ford is not the Indy he once was. Can a man in his 60s pull of the same stunts he did more than 20 years ago? Of course with stunt doubles anything is possible, but would it be believable?

As much as I love Indiana Jones, maybe it would be best to remember him 20 years younger.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Single doesn't always mean you're ready to mingle

I was getting a manicure in Columbia, S.C., on Monday while I waited for my flight to Shreveport. Trying to make conversation with my friend and I, the first question the lady asked was, "Are you single?"

My friend answered no and explained that she had a boyfriend. Then the woman looked at me, and I declared my singlehood. The woman gave a polite smile that made me feel mildly pathetic. As I sat there, waiting on my nails to dry, I thought to myself, "Why do I have to explain my singleness? Why is it viewed as pathetic to be almost 26 and to have no prospects for a mate? Why is it never viewed as a choice to be single instead of a miserable waiting game I'm being forced to play?"

Most of my college friends married just after graduation. Either they have children or they are expecting. When we reunite, they check my left ring finger to see if anything has changed. When my bare finger is exposed, I'm then grilled about who I'm dating. When I say, "nada," then comes the set-up, "I have the perfect guy for you to meet." No matter how content I may feel, my singleness is never viewed as a positive thing. Instead, it's looked at as a problem that someone must fix.

After reading today's Life section in USA Today, I notice I'm not the only one dealing with the pressure. The story suggest that now is the best time to be single, despite the stigma that still exists. Here's some tidbits from today's article.
  • "It's probably the best moment for singles in our history ... because of the attitudes of popular support and the numbers." -- Pat Palmieri, a social historian at Teachers College at Columbia University, who is writing a history of singles in America since 1870.
  • Young adults are delaying marriage and have a longer life expectancy, experts say.
  • "Most people who are single seem to want to eventually be married. But they're putting it off. In the past, there just weren't that many single, young adults supporting themselves. It's a new phenomenon, post-1960, and getting stronger every day."

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

I spy something ...

In a sea of thousands and thousands of people, I wondered if I would ever be spotted by those watching from their recliners at home.
My friend and Masters partner LJ said her boyfriend could make us out because he knew what we were wearing. My bright green sweater and white pants could glow in the dark, why wouldn't they be easily spotted on television?

But, perhaps the greatest spotting of all comes from my friend Matt, a fellow Gannett employee, who sent me this picture he supposedly found while searching the wire. I told you guys I had great seats!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Sprinkle my ashes in Augusta

My legs, back and feet are no longer sore. My face is still a little pink from a day full of sun. But my heart has yet to recover.

Just two days ago, I walked Augusta National Golf Club. I stood 15 feet from the pin on 18 green and watched the greatest golfers finish the most beautiful and challenging course in the world.
My view was just as good as the one pictured above. At that moment, I didn't realize the magnitude of where I was and what I was witnessing. I just knew I was having fun, watching some amazing golf and snacking on a $1 turkey sandwich.
After Johnson's finish, we anticipated what Tiger Woods would do. With a few more holes to play, could Tiger possibly pull out his fifth Masters victory? As we waited on 18, few roars echoed from the course. Woods moved closer and closer to 18 and his score continued to post on the leader board at three over par. Hopes of seeing a phenomenal takeover by Woods seemed less and less likely.
I don't usually pull for Woods. I like to see the unexpected victor pull through. But considering the odds of returning to Augusta are not likely, I was hoping to see Woods comeback for a dramatic finish.

However, greater than all the players could be the course itself. It is more beautiful than you can imagine or your television screen can display. My favorite holes were 6 and 16. Also know as Juniper and Redbud. They are both short par 3s lined by azaleas.

Today, the magnitude of my experience is sinking in. Perhaps the hardest thing to accept is this was likely the first and last time I'll witness Sunday at the Masters from the fringe of 18 green.

(ABOVE: Zach Johnson waves after finishing the 18th hole during the final round of the 2007 Masters golf tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga., on Sunday. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip))

Thursday, April 05, 2007

"Please, please, please don't forget, try to remember"

Hey gang, don't forget about Tyler Read tonight at LSUS. The show starts at 8 p.m. with Meriwether opening. The concert will be held in the University Center Theater in the center of campus.

Admission is $10 for the general public and $2 for LSUS students. The doors will open at 7 p.m. and the first 200 people will get a free CD.

Tyler Read will make its national debut April 17 with "Only Rock 'n' Roll Can Save Us Now." You can check out the band before the show at

In other news, this will be my last post until Tuesday. I'm leaving town for what will always live as the most glorious day of my life: The Sunday I Went to The Masters. I haven't even left Shreveport yet, and I already know this. I'm from a golf family, so this is big. For years, Masters Sunday has been something to plan around. We eat lunch in time to be done before the golf starts. We don't talk during play, only during commercial breaks. We don't need signs to prompt us to be quiet. We were taught golf etiquette before we even learned table manners. Of our clan, I'm the least likely candidate to go on this trip considering I have the highest handicap.

Of course, this event required me to buy new shoes and clothes. I will not put the shoes on my feet until I've reached Augusta National. So now, my new navy tennis shoes will always be The Masters Shoes. I may even get them dipped in bronze upon my return. Expect plenty of pictures (if my camera is allowed) and a full summary of the experience.

See you next week.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

All the good songs are going to the gimmicks

I've never been a huge Applebees fan, but now I'm declaring war.

The restaurant's recent promotion has left me wondering, is there anything sacred anymore?

OK, perhaps I'm being a tad dramatic. But, has anyone else noticed Better Than Ezra's "Juicy" is the eatery's new theme song? The song, originally written about someone's sordid entanglement, starts off, "I got with somebody's date." But just because the song uses the word "Juicy" it plays during a commercial featuring a steak being smothered in mushrooms and cheese. It's just not right, much like ordering a steak at Applebees. BTE probably received a fat sum of money for the rights to the song, but it also cost them something. To me, the song is no longer catchy, funky and original. Now, it's just a sizzling, mushroom-covered piece of Angus.

Other recent disappointments: The Postal Service lending "Such Great Heights" to UPS, as ironic as that is, and Ben Lee's "Catch My Disease" being used by Dell.

Does this bother anyone else?

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The Sims and Louisiana Tech

I must start today by dedicating this post to my college roommates. You see, my junior year at Louisiana Tech, my roommates and I were consumed by The Sims. I probably should have been studying, but it was always more fun to watch SimStephanie study than to actually crack a book myself.

The four of us created our community, built homes and instead of conversing in real life, we'd hang out in the fictional world of The Sims. People would visit our dorm room just to create a character and play along. Pretty soon, you could find someone logged into the game round the clock.

Last night, as I was reading my new pop-culture fascination, "Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs," I was 23 pages into the book and about 3 pages into chapter two when Chuck Klosterman started talking about The Sims. Come to find out, Will Wright, the game's creator, spent two years studying at Louisiana Tech. While he never earned a degree from Tech, the fact that he went to school there makes me proud. Little did Wright know that 20 years later he'd be entertaining students on Tech campus.

In true Sims fashion, the scene pictured above borders on the reality of what took place in our Dudley dorm room that year:
  1. One of my roommates always had a boy, although she was kind enough to never mug down in front of the rest of us.
  2. Another roommate (Kate this is you), spent most of her time on the computer, chatting on Instant Messenger.
  3. My third roommate was asleep most of the time, although I never saw her sleeping upright. But she was messy. Just like the sleeping Sim above. She could sleep easily even with a pile of trash on the floor next to her. This is why our living situation never worked out. She was always making messes and I was always cleaning them up.
  4. That leaves me as the one in the corner working on a science project. It took me two tries to pass Biology, but I did conduct an scientific experiement by trying to grow a bonsai tree in our dorm room. Much like my biology grade, the seed never sprouted.