Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Show Me Your Market Share

Well, this just sucks the mean weenie! Son-in-law Simon got comments from the Harper Collins editors who praised his work, Evil Unltd., then explained why they weren't interested. It won't sell. According to them, sci-fi readers don't want humor and humor readers won't read sci-fi. Tell that to Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett. Simon has two more books up on http://www.authonomy.com/ -- Kip Doodle and the Armchair of Lost Dreams for young readers and Tortenschloss. So if you get tired of watching football this weekend, please check in and give him a bit of a read. I like them both but think maybe there's a better chance of Kip Doodle getting published. Don't know how it will do on authonomy -- though it's in the top 20 -- because I don't know how many people check out young adult fiction.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Maintaining Scrapbook Silence

Sorry about the quiet week, but I've had my scrapbooking stuff all over the dining room table for a couple of months -- trying to catch up. Well, I'm having Thanksgiving dinner here next Thursday, so it's crunch time. I have spent the last four days hunched over my photos and have managed to get through 2006! I'm calling it quits now. It will take me another day or two to get all my papers, stickers, cutters, etc. put away but I will succeed!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Getting Wicked in the Wichitas

Weight Watchers was a disaster this morning -- and I know why! Jack, my brother-in-law Dick and I took a road trip to Medicine Park yesterday to check out the Winery of the Wichitas and their wonderful Buffalo Bistro. Wine isn't really my thing -- my first drinks were Mogen David mixed with 7 Up and my palate hasn't progressed much from there -- but food is, and this place is a doozy! Executive chef Anna Banda (a graduate of Chef Kurt Fleishfresser's apprentice program) has taken old favorites and given them a new twist -- meat loaf sliders with caramelized onions, grilled cheese sandwiches made with Gruyere, Swiss and Cheddar. And what she has done to the peanut butter sandwich elevates her to the heights of gourmet goodiness! The dessert, pictured above, called the Vinny (after her husband, who loves it), features peanut butter on walnut-raisin bread, toasted, and topped with honey and caramelized bananas. I thought that sounded awful but, oh my goodness, just a sample bite wouldn't do -- I did real damage! Of course, there are much more figure-friendly items on the menu but as a working journalist, I felt compelled to try the specialties. So, reading public, this pound's for you!

Thursday, November 13, 2008


I just got home from a choir rehearsal -- Oklahoma Choral Artists has invited the choir from Oklahoma City Centennial High School to join us for one of our Christmas concerts. The kids will be singing "Break Forth O Beauteous Heavenly Light," and "And the Glory" and "Hallelujah Chorus" from "The Messiah" with us. I would be willing to bet that few of these kids had ever heard "The Messiah" let alone sung any of it. We had a joint rehearsal tonight and they're doing a great job learning this difficult music. As we were leaving I watched one of the high school altos skipping down the hall singing bits of the "Hallelujah Chorus." Hallelujah! The concert will be held at First Presbyterian Church at 25th and Western in OKC, Sunday, December 7 at 4 p.m. Tickets are $5 (available at the door) will proceeds going to Infant Crisis Services -- a worthy cause any time of year, but particularly appropriate for a season celebrating a wondrous birth.
I hope you'll put this on your calendar.

Et Tu, Tuva

Big doin's at the library this morning. As part of their "Our World" series, the Metropolitan Library System presented a concert by Huun Huur Tu Tuvan Throat Singers. Tuva is a small republic squashed between Mongolia and Siberia. Throat singing is an ancient art -- its origins lie in prehistoric religious rituals and communication with spirits. The five singers/instrumentalists sang ancient songs and more contemporary compositions. They began the concert with plucked notes on a stringed instrument. The singing began with a primal growl -- kind of a cross between wind blowing through a great cave and a giant tiger's purr. Throat singers are able to sing two or three tones simultaneously. Above a ground bass-like growl, flute like warblings are produced -- an amazing sound. The musicians were dressed in robes of rich fabric, three in brown tones, two in shades of rose and mauve. One was a rich mahogany with medallians of embroidered gold thread. Over 200 people showed up for the concert -- a number of them had to stand outside the doors. Who says we ain't got culture in Oklahoma?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Missing Period

I just finished a story about Frisco, Texas, and included a paragraph about their cool Dr Pepper Ball Park. I called the team (Frisco RoughRiders) public relations department for some information and not only got what I needed but an offer to check what I'd written for accuracy. Dane Brugler, their p.r. person, gave me an A+ for the paragraph but pointed out that there is no period after Dr in Dr Pepper. Curiosity piqued, I went in search of the missing period. Here's a little history. Dr. Pepper was invented in 1885 by pharmicist Charles Alderton, working in Waco, Texas. I found two stories about the name. The company site, in classic corporate butt-coverage style, prefaces their version with "legend has it..." and says that the drug store owner, a Mr. Morrison, named the drink after the father of a girl he had once loved. The other version also credits Morrison but leaves out the romantic embellishments. Popular in Waco, the soda gained wider acceptance after its appearance at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair. In the 1950s, the period was dropped "to improve legibility on bottles." And the admonition to drink it at 10, 2 and 4 came after a 1920 study that stated that a person's blood pressure was lowest at 10:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m., and 4:30 p.m. All you really need to know about Dr Pepper is that it RULES!!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Cat's Meow

We've been so lucky with the weather on this press trip! It was cloudy yesterday and we were expecting rain and a cool front. Both graciously arrived while we slept and were out of town before the sun came up. It was bright, cool and clear when we arrived at the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, just outside Eureka Springs. This is the largest, open-to-the-public, big cat refuge in the world. Strictly professional, it is one of the very few USDA licensed facilities for large carnivores in the U.S.

One of our first greeters was a very small cat -- an 11-week-old leopard named Spike. Actually, he didn't greet us but let us watch as he explored the front lawn of the facility. We were then introduced to some of the over 100 big cats -- lions, tigers, leopards, mountain lions and bobcats -- who have been rescued by the center. Each has a special story but most of them involve stupid people who think having a tiger (or other big cat) as a pet would be fun. Did you know that there are more big cats in private homes than in the wild? Dumb de dumb dumb! Several of the animals suffer from improper declawing they received as babies; others have other disabilities exacerbated by ignorance. Here, all the animals receive excellent care and even animals who have suffered from their early keeping now live good lives.

You can stay on the property in several different types of accommodations. In two of the rooms, you can look into tiger cages. A tree house provides a cosy room for two with sleeping in a loft. My favorite rooms were tent-like structures in the Safari Camp. Built on a deck, around a fire pit, the five "cabins" are decorated with original artwork and each feature a private deck in back. There's also a large hot tub available. Though farther from the cats, the Safari Camp is often visited by local wildlife -- deer, sometimes coyotes. And all the rooms are serenaded at night by "caroling" lions.

This is a great destination and a great cause. Please check their web site: www.tiger.tc

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Journalist's Idea of Hell

We were told yesterday that there would be no TV available last night!!!!! I was already having withdrawal -- no TV at my B and B and I hadn't watched CNN or read a paper since Sunday morning. Most travel writers on press trips are good sports and go with the flow. Not yesterday. The troops were definitely testy. We arrived last night at the Buffalo Outdoor Center in Ponca, Arkansas. The cabins had TV, but all but one were only working with VHS and DVD. One of the cabins was able to get PBS through a blizzard of snow on the screen. After dinner, some of us gathered in that cabin to watch the little TV with a picture so bad we couldn't read any of the graphics. But it was live; it was happening and we were able to savor history being made. A little after 10 we shared a bottle of champagne. I couldn't imagine living through the long months of the presidential campaign and not watching the election returns come in. It would have been like reading a 1000 page novel only to find the last page torn out!

I woke this morning and walked out on the front porch of my cabin. The sun was just coming up and I could see for miles across the valley and hills. What a great day!

Monday, November 03, 2008

I'm in Love with Charles Banks Wilson

Charles Banks Wilson with a reproduction of a portrait he painted of Will Rogers -- Wilson was 14 at the time.

Fayetteville, Arkansas -- today we visited Charles Banks Wilson at his home/studio. What a lovely, gracious and talented man! He let a gaggle of travel writers invade his space and offered to answer any questions we asked. We asked, he answered -- with great wit and patience. I wish I'd had my tape recorder -- pearls were dripping from his lips and I could only grab a few. My favorite -- advice to parents -- "give your children what they need, then get out of their way." This was in answer to a question about how his parents felt about his wanting to become and artist. He felt that they had done just that. I'll never look at the paintings in the Oklahoma State Capitol the same way -- I have touched the hand that held the brush. And it was really special.

"Suzanna and the Elders" painted by Wilson in 1978. "I drove over a hill and there was this woman bathing in a stock tank. She waved at me and I waved back. I think the Herefords look like lecherous old men."

Sunday, November 02, 2008


Wow! What a wild and busy week! Two articles due -- done and delivered -- campaign phone calls to make, rehearsals for last night's Brahm's to Broadway concert -- it went great -- Cal's birthday -- lunch one day and "W" the next afternoon -- and watching Simon's book on http://www.authonomy.com/. And yes, Evil Unltd. finished in the top five. Hurray! It's promised a read by a real live book editor! He has a new book up on authonomy now -- a children's book, Kip Doodle and the Armchair of Lost Dreams. As with all his writing, this one is brilliant -- so if you get a chance, please check it out and "Back this Book." I'm wondering if being a children's book will make it harder to make it into the top five. As for now, I'm off to the airport. Teddy Bear (the SATW travelin' Teddy) and I are headed for northwest Arkansas and, hopefully, some beautiful fall foliage. Teddy's got a full schedule in the next month. He's been invited to visit Mary Hendron in St. Louis -- and go with her to Ireland for Thanksgiving! You go, Teddy. Come to think of it, why isn't Mary taking me?