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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Dano is my hero

After losing my coin purse Saturday night, I found myself stranded. Considering my coin purse holds my identity (ID, debit and credit cards) rather than just coins, I was sad to see my small Louis Vuitton purse go.

I'd checked every crevice of my vehicle with a flashlight and the help of two friends and it didn't take long to realize my little purse was gone. After driving around town, retracing my steps, I threw in the towel and cancelled my cards before any damage could be done.

One of my friends instructed me to be optimistic, saying it would turn up or some kind soul would return the bag. I didn't believe it even though I knew having my coin purse wasn't going to benefit anyone else.

Since a few business cards were stashed in the purse, I was hopeful I'd received an e-mail from someone who'd found it over the weekend. No such luck and with that I gave up and just a few hours later, my work phone rang.

"Stephanie? Hey, this is Dano Anderson. Sweetie, I found your wallet."

Now, I could have cared less that he called it a wallet -- Dano was walking down Market Street, saw my purse, picked it up and ACTUALLY made the effort to return it. When Dano dropped off my purse yesterday, I rushed out to the lobby to shake his hand and say thanks. I joked with him about how I must have been swinging my purse around my neck and didn't realize my coin bag flew out.

Dano, who moved here to work in the film industry, just wrapped filming for "The Better Man." And this week, at least in my book, he was the best man of them all.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Coyote stands out among local nightlife

Last night a group of my friends gathered for game night. Apparently I'm the half-answer queen. When the girls team would try to guess what movie involved a love triangle between a man, woman and rabbit, I added "Who Framed" to the already guessed "Roger Rabbit."

As we debated over where Batman kept the bad guys he captured, all I could come up with was "an asylum." Unfortunately, when you're playing against a group of competitive males, half answers don't count. So, after four or so hours of Trivial Pursuit, I was ready for something new.

Sarah and I met up with some movie-making friends at Coyote, a bar I've never been to before. You'll find Coyote just after the split of Market and Youree and there's a lot of other things you'll find there too. An interior wallpapered by crude and tacky bumper stickers, people drinking from plungers (although the bartender swears this isn't a regular thing), bikers attired in leather and even one guy wearing an eye patch. Bras and panties hang from the ceiling just like Coyote Ugly, except at Coyote they hang from the deer mounted on the walls.

After a while, our group thought it may be wise to return to more familiar ground such as the Cub. In fact, we would not have stayed at Coyote as long as we did if "American Gladiators" had not been on television. But, it's always interesting to check out a new place in Shreveport and much can be said for that.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

All Bettes are off

The votes are in. With a record number of 70 million people casting their votes, Bette Midler has been named America's Fallen Idol.
Ok, these statistics actually come from the consensus of the three people I watched the "American Idol" finale with last night, but the facts are the facts. Sanjaya's performance gave Midler a run for the bottom prize, however he had Joe Perry backing him, which offered him some redemption. Plus, we haven't taken Sanjaya seriously since he entered the "Idol" contest.
Midler on the other hand struggled just to keep up with the back-up track to "Wind Beneath My Wings."
Midler is an old pro and after performing "Wind Beneath My Wings" for about a decade too long, she should be able to hit these notes in her sleep. And the saddest part -- I've heard it performed better at high school graduations.

After a few awkward stage moves (a shimmy in her leather skirt and the constant flailing of her left hand), I have a feeling Bette's blood alcohol level could have rivaled the record number of votes cast for the finale show. OK, that may be harsh, but something was going on with her. She couldn't keep up with the music and she couldn't hit a note.

With her show opening soon in Las Vegas, I'm sure the performance on "Idol" was a promotional sort of thing. But I'm sorry to say if that's what a $100 ticket will buy me, I'd rather see the Thunder From Down Under.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Saying goodbye to my 'Girls'

Last night was an emotional night for me. After seven years, my favorite show ended our Tuesday night relationship.
I've been a devote follower of "Gilmore Girls." I hung in there, through the past two seasons when plot lines and witty conversations got a little dry. I'm sure most of the guys reading this are already air-gagging themselves, but I loved this show.

My love stemmed from obscure pop-culture references and how naturally Lauren Graham fit the character of Lorelai Gilmore. It was well written, thanks to creator Amy Sherman-Palladino, who left the show after its sixth season and took most of the humor and originality with her.

This show made me believe in a lot of things I wouldn't normally take stock in.

First, I could be a small-town girl. Under normal circumstances, I know I'd go crazy living in any town with a "square," unless it is Times Square. But Stars Hollow is different. This small town has charm and not to mention a handsome diner owner.

Second, mother-daughter relationships are easy. The relationship between Lorelai and Rory is worry free. They are best friends, hardly get mad at each other and talk about everything. My stepmom and I are good friends, but when things get rocky she's still got her parent card and is willing to use it.

Third, getting a journalism job right out of college is a breeze. Rory had her choice between the newspaper industry's heavy hitters: Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Washington Post, etc. Yeah right ... and I don't care if she was the editor of the Yale Daily News. It just ain't that easy.

So, it's with a heavy heart I say goodbye to my show and all the unrealistic beliefs that came with it. I guess now I have no choice but to join the rest of the world and watch "Dancing With the Stars."

Monday, May 14, 2007

All mom really wants is a little time

Although many refer to Mother's Day as a conspiracy by Hallmark to sell more cards, I figure any chance you've got to say thank you to your mom is a good thing.

Each year my older brother, Chris, and I scheme to come up with the perfect gift for our stepmom, Amy, on Mother's Day. Unless he has a brilliant idea, he tells me to buy something and send him a bill. So, as usual, I did just that and we gave our stepmom a gift she truly loved.

In normal tradition, we congregated at my grandparents' house on Sunday with the rest of our family over ribs and strawberry shortcake. We exchanged cards and hugs and gratitude for the unconditional love we've been shown over the years (and I know that's not easy).

After lunch, my brothers and I took my stepmom fishing off the pier at my grandparents' house. For hours we sat in lawn chairs waiting patiently to see if our corks would go under. Even though our corks rarely, or in my case never, did go under, we had the best time catching up and laughing with our mom. Once an afternoon shower hit, we decided to return to our house and do some more fishing there. Thirty fish later, we called it a day.

I know my stepmom sincerely loved her gift, but when she said, "This was the best Mother's Day I've ever had," I knew it had very little to do with the gift. What a mom really wants on Mother's Day is for you simply to sit and chit-chat, share a few laughs and show her she's loved.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

People are what make birthdays happy

Yesterday was my birthday. I didn't tell many people, however through the wonders of Myspace and Facebook word got out. I'd been at work for about 30 minutes when my phone rang. I answered with the usual, "The Times, this is Stephanie" and that's when the singing began. I listened as Kate sang through the birthday song in her deepest, most sultry voice. About an hour later, my friend Sass called and did the exact same thing. Are they trying to tell me something?

While no Masters tickets were hidden in any cards this year. My friends did surprise me with some rather interesting gifts:
  • Sammy spent endless hours making me the beautiful artwork displayed above. The little bursts are fireworks. I asked because originally I thought they were spiders.

  • Matt, who lives in Illinois, sent a package that included my second Chuck Klosterman read, "Killing Yourself to Live," a "collector's edition" TV Guide with N'SYNC on the cover and 3 CDs filled with MP3s of about 30 albums.

  • LJ took me shoe shopping. Knowing I'm a shoe addict, she hit the nail on the head with this gift. I got to peruse a room full of shoes, pick out the perfect pair and take them home. I ended up with a black and white stripped pair with a black bow on top. They're a little crazy, however my only real problem is finding a place to put them. My closet is at capacity when it comes to shoes.

  • Dan, a Times friend, took me to lunch and arrived with a slew of surprises -- oversized party hats, bubbles, margarita-shaped sunglasses and pom poms. When the waitress asked what we were celebrating, Dan offered me the greatest gift of the day. He responded, "We're celebrating Wednesday," and I was spared the embarrassing birthday song and "stand in your chair and shake everything but the salt and pepper shakers" dance.

  • Missy, my roommate, gave me a bottle of wine. I know any real wine drinker will cringe at my words, but it's the cutest bottle called "Little Black Dress." You have to admit, that's pretty cute.

  • My parents cooked dinner for me last night and gave me a discount on our summer vacation. Dad's always the practical thinker and gift giver or maybe someone forgot to put the money in the card.

  • My older brother Chris offered me the gift of his love.

As I embark on 26, I want to say thanks to these people for making my birthday special.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Guitar Hero is a worthy way to rock out

For weeks, my friends have been going on and on about Guitar Hero, a video game where you compete battle-of-the-bands style with other players.

Anytime we've been riding in the car and a song featured on the game came on the radio someone would say, "I can rock this song on Guitar Hero." In fact, air Guitar Hero has replaced the out-dated air guitar.
This past weekend, my younger brother, Taylor, got the game and sent me a text message challenging me to a guitar duel. Because I took a guitar course in college, once played in a group called Lilies of the Field and love rock music, I thought I was going to take the official title of Guitar Hero. Boy was I wrong.
After stopping by my parents' house for dinner last night, I learned this video game has very little to do with actual guitar ability. But after three tutorials and a couple practice rounds, I was hooked. Taylor and I played the game for nearly two hours. By the night's end I'd even been able to work the occasional head bang into my routine. Now, I'm wondering when I can play again.
(Photo: Carie Cotter and Kate Warren face off during a night of Guitar Hero.)

Friday, May 04, 2007

Mike Epps turns photographer into punchline

Today, a story I wrote on Mike Epps ran in the Living section. The comedian is here filming "The Better Man" and took some time away from the set to entertain locals at the Funny Bone.

Photographer Val Horvath and I attended the Friday night show to see Epps perform and for an interview afterwords. Val sat with me at a table in the back for a while. She snapped some good photos but was hesitant to walk up to the front to get some other shots.
I urged Val to move toward the stage. It was pay back for the time she told me to dance with a drunk cowboy for the sake of a good story. Worried that Epps was going to make fun of her, Val didn't want to go anywhere near the front. But she knew she had to do it and what happened next was exactly what Val didn't want.

Soon after Val reached the stage and started taking photos, Epps turned his attention to her. He called the audience's attention to her and teased her about taking photos to get child support. Epps did an impression, "See, my man is workin'."

Val laughed and kept taking pictures. A few minutes later, Val returned to our table in the back. The only thing she said, "I told you so." Val's hard work paid off. It was a fun night and ended up being a fun story.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Mike and the Mechanics may have saved your life

When I'm driving around town, I've usually got one finger on the "next song" arrows on my iPod. I probably shouldn't confess this considering in just over ten years of driving I've had nearly as many wrecks.

Over the years, I've put my three cars through a lot -- striking a parked car, then a deer, falling victim to two hit and runs (one in the church parking lot), being rear ended twice leaving the City of Byrd, rear ending a mini van while trying to get an eyelash out of my eye. You name it and clearly I've done it and should know to keep my hands at 10 and 2. But I don't.

So, back to me fiddling with my iPod. When I'm driving around, listening to music, I'm always searching for the perfect song that fits what I'm feeling at that moment. Sometimes that could be the rush of a really good Red Hot Chili Peppers song, and at other times it's the sorrow of Ryan Adams or Ray LaMontagne. But there is one song that gets my hands back on the wheel, exactly where they should be, every time without fail.

"Living Years," by Mike and the Mechanics. Truthfully, it's a horrible song with no value in the big scope of good music. But, what draws me to this song is the memories it always brings back.

When my brother, Chris, and I were in elementary school, this boy tried to kiss me on the bus and I refused to ride the school bus from then on. So, my dad would take us to school and every morning we would listen to "Living Years." My dad would always take the lead, or I suppose the role of Mike, and Chris and I would have to pick up the part of the Mechanics, singing the background vocals. If we didn't sing, we started the song over.

At the time, it was absolute torture but now I can't NOT listen to the song. And I can't sing anything but the background vocals. Now, nearly 20 years later, I can't escape the memories of that song and as terrible as the song may be, I don't think I want to escape it.

Do you have a song like this? Something that automatically brings your hands back to the steering wheel? Something you can't help but listen to, even if it's really no good at all?

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

What's age got to do with it?

I walked in to the office this morning, took a sip of my coffee, opened my e-mail and started my day off on the wrong foot.

Someone sent me an e-mail about a restaurant review I'd written more than two months ago. I gave the restaurant a negative review and one reader is still dissatisfied with my opinion. One of the first things this person mentions is my age, calling me a "worldly 26 year old." And while "worldly" is a term that could be considered complementary, in this reference I wasn't flattered.

In actuality, I'm still a week shy of being 26, but the comment made me think. What is the cut off age to having a valid opinion? When I turn 30, will people stop being shocked that my arguments have a leg to stand on?

I've never claimed to know it all and being 26 certainly lacks some life experience. But, it seems to me being young is the first weapon used against me when someone disagrees with what I have to say.

When someone disagrees with what an older reporter writes, I'm sure their age and experience never come into question. So whether or not I liked the shrimp I ate more than two months ago, what's age got to do with it? And more importantly, what can I do about it?