Monday, November 23, 2015

New Mindset, New Location

Dear Friends,

I thank you all for following this little bit of scribbling over the past few years.  After much consideration and self-discovery, I realize that the word 'elegant' can have a negative connotation from time to time.  Some associate it with snobbery, as some have associated me with snobbery.  I'm no longer the one to point out the error of our ways.  I just want to write, and if you're interested, my latest efforts can be found here:

https://texasprairiechicken.wordpress.com/


I thank you for your time, and wish you peace, love, and prosperity.  Cheers, Sweeties!

Yours,
Beth

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Seeing Stars

On the rare occasion I reach for Star magazine, I take perverse pleasure in not recognizing about 75% of the so-called celebrities featured in it.  I’m downright smug in my lack of current pop-culture knowledge, and full-blown snotty when it comes to the darn kids and what’s passing as their music these days.


Perhaps I’m suffering from early onset Grouchy Old Lady Syndrome.  Perhaps I just can’t relate to the here and now.  Perhaps I really just don’t care and can’t think of anything else to write about today.  All I know is this:  I can still sing every cut in order from Rick Springfield’s Working Class Dog album but I cannot tell you the title of one Katy Perry hit.

In my day, our only connection to our favored famous came monthly through Tiger Beat magazine.  We prayed each week that a certain special someone could take time from his busy General Hospital schedule in order make an appearance on Solid Gold.  We bought albums, posters, and t-shirts en masse. It’s different today, however, thanks to social media.  With just a simple ‘like’ we can now connect on a supposedly deeper level with them.  Heck, even people famous for doing absolutely nothing have millions of Instagram followers.  It’s instant celebrity, and we the sheeple sop it up with a biscuit.  And then, in about 15 minutes, we turn our gaze elsewhere.


This lack of loyalty saddens me, but what really keeps me up at night (not really, I’m merely going for effect here) is the lack of attention.  It’s not our fault.  Those 15 minutes seem to be much shorter than they used to be.  The Man and his Machine are pumping out two-a-penny pop tarts and pretty-boy lip synchers at an alarming rate these days. Of course the kids dig it - it’s all they know.  It’s getting harder and harder to find something organic. We alleged-grownups  must be vigilant in exposing them to more.  It is with great pride that I report to you that my two fabulous nieces (ages 8 and 5) count Dolly Parton and Pat Benatar among their favorites. The credit goes, of course, to my ever-conscientious sister and her quest to provide her children with something not on the current menu.


We like what we like and we needn’t try to explain our preferences to others.  Nothing irks me more than snobbery, which is what I appear to be guilty of at this very moment.  Hear me out:  honing talent takes time, and the kids aren’t understanding this concept thanks to televised contests and viral videos. Insta-fame. Our fast-food mindset has permeated darn near everything in our lives.  We consume without thought, and yet remain hungry.


With that being said, I’d like to note that there are a few exceptions who come to us through the ‘drive-through window’ that certainly deserve a nod. Kelly Clarkson, winner of the first American Idol, has an amazing voice, I think, and I’m glad she’s etching a career for herself in country music.  The Spice Girls had some catchy tunes, and to this day when I feel ‘Girl-Powery’ I can’t help but chant ‘Well I tell ya what I want..what I really really want…’  And my hand to Goddess, if you make one disparaging remark against the Monkees in my presence, I will smack you in the gob. Especially if that Monkee is Peter Tork (I’m looking at you, Mr. Newman).

From 2001, older and STILL playing their own instruments. RIP Davy Jones.


(Side note:  I was part of the MTV revival of Monkee-mania in the mid-80’s;  I was not alive during the first go-around.  Just clearing that up…)


I guess if there is a point to my ramblings this morning it’s this:  there’s more out there - we merely need to seek it, remember it, and share it. We've got to let the kids know that they’re being bamboozled and getting short-changed in the music department.  If your daughter says she wants to 'make music', please direct her to the genius of Stevie Nicks.   Let her know that there’s more to it than the glitter, the gloss, and the marketing machine. Let her experience first-hand something real.  Let her draw her own conclusions, and then leave her alone.

                     Can I sail through the changing ocean tides?
                     Can I handle the seasons of my life?

 I don't know, Ms. Nicks, but I am trying.







Sunday, June 28, 2015

Over the Rainbow

It’s a rare occasion in which I’ll call someone out on his or her ignorance, yet I had no choice but to do so twice this week.


Scenario 1:  Enlightening Mr. Newman to the fact that Shirley Jones is, in fact, David Cassidy’s stepmother, but portrayed his real mother on The Partridge Family.  She is the actual mother of Shaun Cassidy, thus making David and Shaun half-brothers, not full-brothers.  (Side note:  The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries is streaming on Netflix.  It’s bad seventies TV at it’s finest, so I naturally endorse it).


Scenario 2:  Late Friday evening,  I received a personal message on Facebook from someone I hardly know inquiring as to why I had not rainbow-alized my profile picture or, at the very least, remarked publicly about Friday’s ruling regarding gay marriage. At first I felt honored; not many people give  two hoots and holler about my opinion on anything, so after the euphoria of that wore off, I simply said,  “I didn’t think I needed to.”    I went on to explain that my closest of gay friends (ie:  people I know and love in the ‘real world’) had already received a congratulatory message from me via call, email, or text. “Plus,” I continued, “I look horrible in pastel colors and horizontal stripes.”


Thinking the matter concluded, surprise met me yesterday morning:  another message from this person, informing me that she found my flippancy offensive.


I did not respond.


Until now.


Lady, you don’t know me, you’re not gay, and suddenly jumping on the Straighty Support Bandwagon does not make you any more special than anyone else.  You’re part of the ‘look at me, not the cause’ syndrome that’s hurling our society even further down to hell in a hand basket.  Real support means you’ve a long history in some fashion with any given cause, you’ve embraced it, you’ve actually cried with those affected by it, and you sincerely rejoice in its victories without drawing attention to yourself.


I could go into my own personal history regarding this cause, but I won’t.  All I’ll say is that it’s one that’s near and dear to me:  from standing up for the ‘sissy’’ on the school playground to kissing several young men right out of the closet during my college days to holding the hand of someone who lost his partner of 30 years to a horrible illness….what a long, glorious trip it’s been.


Don’t talk to me about the rainbow...I’ve been over it more than once.  Oh, and by the way, my remark about pastels and horizontal stripes came from my dear friend, Gay Barry - not me.


Whew, now that that’s over, I’d like to address the so-called Christians in the room:  judge not, lest ye be judged.  Jesus taught tolerance, acceptance, and love.  The hate-filled venom some of you are spewing opposes those ideals.  Honestly, I’ve known atheists who are more Christ-like than you.  Think about it.


No matter our faith, the best witness we can bear is through our deeds, not our words.  We are on this particular plane to learn and to love, and as four incredibly wise men once put it:  all you need is love.  


Let’s get over ourselves, shall we?  Let’s educate ourselves.  Let’s live and let live.  Let’s walk the walk rather than talk the talk.  Let’s stop speaking in cliches or, worse, utilizing them as a literary device, Beth Newman


Do as you will, as long as it harms none.  

Love is all you need.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Do Something


First off,  big thanks to all who turned out to the Imperial Farmers Market in Sugar Land, TX yesterday.  Yours truly reserved a table in order to peddle a few wares:
                      
If you couldn't make it out, both books are available through Amazon.

What a great day it turned out to be.  Nothing soothes the soul more than being surrounded by creativity and farm fresh eggs.  Community involvement - I normally shy away from it, but yesterday's event took me back to my own small-town upbringing.  Every event from the stock shows to the senior proms were held in the Dimmitt Expo building -never in conjunction, but sometimes awfully close.  There's nothing quite like slow dancing to Wham's Careless Whisper while inhaling the unmistakable  aroma of cattle manure.

Now don't get me wrong, boys and girls - I do love where I currently reside.  It's a safe, clean, convenient suburb outside of Houston, TX.  One that has experienced a lot of growth over the last ten years (see safe, clean, convenient).  That growth keeps the community well above water economically - a good thing until you Google Sugar Land Podiatrists and over 500 names pop up.  Honestly, where to you even start?

But back to the Market and a chance to make a little cha-ching.  It's a nice feeling when others spend their green American dollars on something you've created.  I've written a great deal about creativity recently.  I believe we all have a creative streak, and I think we owe it to ourselves t0 take the time to channel that creativity.  Even if you've no intention of making a buck -especially if you've no intention of making a buck.

To create simply for the sake of creating.  To not even consider garnering a green American dollar for it.  Working with one's hands, one's imagination, with precious little concern about looking a fool.

Therein lies the rub - some folks simply don't want to be the weirdo who makes stuff.  I'm finally at the stage in my life where I'm willing to let my inner weirdo shine. Are you?  You're taking the time to read this, so that tells me right there you're probably  a dime short, so you may as well embrace that urge and just go for it. (Side note:  those who know me personally assumed I'd come out of the weird closet a long time ago.  Trust me, Sally - you ain't seen nothing yet.)
Perhaps if we turn off the telly, shut down the screen, and cut back the hours, we could get a full-blown grass root creative society going. Grow our own food, sew our own clothes, design our own decor, sing our own songs.   Everyone's welcome, provided they don't force us to really listen to the lyrics (I'm looking at you, hipster-musician.  You're bringing the party to a crashing halt with your pretentiousness.  Plus, you reek of artisan beer and clove cigarettes.  Clean up, straighten up, and stop taking yourself so seriously).

I have a dear folk-singing, french-speaking friend who told her young children that they could have anything they wanted for Christmas provided they didn't see it advertised on TV.  As a result, she raised a fine group of artists, musicians, seamstresses, and one convicted meth-maker. (Hey, at least he learned to create something and he even made a fine living from it for a
while...)

The older I get, the more I get that life is incredibly precious and short.  None of us has any guarantees, so we may as well get over ourselves, scratch that creative itch, and see just how much we can accomplish before exiting this plane.  Good luck, and may the creative force be with you.



ps...feel free to share your creative efforts in the comments section.  A chance to inspire and get inspired.  Let's do this thing!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Disciplinary Action (aka: My Simple Summer Journal)


Due to the nature of my vocation, summertime means downtime and I couldn't be more pleased.  I've enough to keep me busy and financially sound throughout the season without grind grind grinding at that grindstone. I've time to relax, enjoy, and partake of hobbies (henceforth known as 'disciplines' simply because it sounds fancier and more efficient).  I've also got time to think, which isn't necessarily a good thing.  In order to keep track of myself and to determine if I'm actually accomplishing anything, I've decided to set up a journal.  I gladly share it with you in the hopes that you, too, will take time to work on your disciplines, to ponder, or to simply sit and be this season.

Monday:  Spent most of the day at the sewing machine, my new favorite discipline.  My master plan for 'custom' (ie: homemade) summer wear is actually coming to fruition.  It's quite enjoyable and fulfilling.  Not so fulfilling is the constant media coverage and peanut gallery comments involving the arrival of Caitlyn Jenner.  She's here, she's happy, she will serve as an inspiration and good role model for the transgender community, and quite frankly unless our last name is Jenner or Kardashian, we've no business mulling it over at the rate in which we're doing it.  Move along, people...

Tuesday:  Custom summer wardrobe complete.  Have also officially converted all jars into simple and friendly-looking storage containers.  Nothing fancy.  I repeat - simple.  I yearn for simplicity and have made the decision to distance myself even further from the clutter of 'the virtual world' in order to co-create something a little bit more meaningful.  Something that will cause Mother Earth to smile and my husband to mock.  Ingrate.  I'm saving him a fortune on canisters and have freed up quite a bit of space in the pantry.  That should and will count for something at some point. Mark my words.
        Make your counter space a simple work of usable art.  I've entitled this Why the Hell Did I Buy Mung Beans?   No need to buy Mason jars.  Just save the ones your mayo, spaghetti sauce, etc. come in. Once you've eaten the contents, wash thoroughly.   Place goods inside jars.  Viola!

Wednesday:  A brief scan of the headlines and catch an item about an egg shortage.  Seriously considering how I can raise chickens on the patio of my humble townhouse without the homeowners association on my case when it occurs to me that thanks to heavy petitioning and emotional board meetings, the evil regime has officially been overthrown and we can all breath a bit easier.  Let our plants grow the way God intended them to grow. Maybe place a cute doo-dad atop our brick fences. I double-check the association guidelines and nowhere does it state that chickens aren't allowed.  Now we're getting somewhere.

Thursday:  The previous night's viewing of The Last Waltz'on Netflix has me musically inspired and has also provided within me a new found appreciation of The Band.  I partake in another favorite discipline, the ukulele, and am happy to report that I've almost got Evangeline and The Weight down.  Well, maybe not down, but passable.  You can probably figure out what I'm attempting to do after a few bars. 
video
Am determined to actually write a song.  A love song:  Your Kisses are Better than the Empanada (But Not as Good as the Rice and Beans).  I got the idea from tonight's dining experience.  See, inspiration surrounds us; we merely need to remain alert.

Friday:  I feel incredibly simple (read into that what you will).  It occurs to me just how little time I've devoted to 'the virtual world' this week.  I, like so many others, have been guilty of scrolling in order to pass the time.  It feels good to work with one's hands (not just the index finger, or the middle finger depending on what's happening in your neck of the woods).  I make a conscious decision to plug in only a couple of times a day, if that much.   Too much mind clutter is not good for the soul.  Trying to create something is, I believe, and even if we're not good at it (see ukulele playing), it never hurts to try.  Perseverance, friends.  Perseverance.

Saturday:  My fabulous sister-in-law is downsizing, and brings me a cornucopia of goodies, including this:
I've dabbled in yarn disciplines, and am delighted to give it another go.  Thanks bunches, CK!  I sort through the tub while watching a documentary about The Eagles.  While there's no denying the impact of their monstrously catchy tunes, I've come to the conclusion that Glenn Fry is a complete and utter jackass.  That's another one of my disciplines:  passing judgement on art-eests who take themselves much too seriously, and it's one I've mastered beyond measure.  I'm so put off I throw a ream of yarn at the telly, and vow to myself that if I ever meet Mr. Fry, I will throw a ream of yarn in his face.  (Note to self:  keep yarn in purse just in case).  I pour myself a glass of wine (another favorite discipline), humming along to Take it Easy.  

And take it easy, I shall, Mr. Fry and company...indeed I shall.


Sunday, May 31, 2015

Let Her Speak


I'm beyond the point of allowing 'the news' to get the better of me these days; however, one hot item that hit the press this week really fired me up:

Country Music Consultant Says Female Artists are Merely Tomatoes in the Country Music Salad.

In a nutshell, this man claims that female artists don't get as much airplay because, according to 'research',  they simply don't 'sell'.

I suppose this hit a nerve because back in my radio days/daze (late 1980's through mid-90's), a corporate program director for a country music station for which I worked essentially said the same thing:  'We don't play female artists back to back, and we usually don't play more than three female artists per hour.'

As a twenty-something with very little sense of self, I thought it was kind of dumb.  As a forty-something with perhaps an overly-inflated sense of self, I think it's  complete and utter hogwash.  

As a young child, I harbored what may have been a strange fascination with radio - who were these people, and how did they have access to all the tunes?  There was an element of mystery that appealed to my young soul.  Add to it my love affair with the TV show WKRP in Cincinnati and it's no wonder that I chose radio as my profession (for a while).  But real life was not WKRP (no program director I ever had wore his pants as tight as Andy Travis, and since none of them looked like Andy Travis, that was a very good thing.  That's a good example of me being sexist in radio, a fair turn-the-tables, if you will).  

By the time I hit the seen in a mid-size market, The Corporate Machine was already rearing it's ugly head.  We jocks didn't pick the music - a computer program did, and it typically generated a most generic, depressing, overly watered-down sound.  Throw in misogynistic managers and you've got yourself one troublesome situation.

Bah to that, says I.  I changed professions.  Teaching.  I did it for twelve years in a private school before The Corporate Machine bought it.  We teachers didn't pick our lesson plans - someone who'd never been in a classroom did, and it typically generated a most generic, depressing, and overly watered-down curriculum.  Throw in misogynistic managers and you've got yourself one troublesome situation.

Bah to that, says I.

Bah to all of it, says I.

I don't know about you, Sisters and Brothers, but I'm tired of Men in Suits telling us what to do, what to listen to, what to watch, what to eat, what to feel, and how to present ourselves.

I could go off a full-blown rant, but my focus today is that of radio and the nonsense spewed forth by this consultant.  Let me preface it by saying I don't listen to much country radio these days.  I like my country organic, which means no pitch-correction, no special collaboration with rappers, and no canned music. So with that being said, what might happen if:

Someone had the sense to switch to an all-female format.  All women, all the time.  The artists featured would preferably be singers/songwriters who play an instrument.  Vocalists are welcome provided they have never depended on electronic slight of hand when recording an album or performing live.  Artists who are also positive and empowering role models for young women.  All ages and ethnicities welcome.

And it wouldn't strictly have to be a music format.  Include current, women-centered events and inspiring women-centered stories.  Feature a Women in Business (with no corporate affiliation) segment.  In short, a venue for women to speak, to express, and to support one another, run by women for women.

Good Goddess Almighty - when did I become a feminist?

The F word has been bandied about much in recent years, and I still don't really understand its true definition or the tangents it has taken.  Equal pay for equal work?  Yes.  Equal radio air-play for all?  Yes.  An opportunity to prance around half-naked and express one's sexuality in front of a stadium full of strangers?  I don't think so.


All I know is this:  I'm officially sick of male domination (there, I said it).  Sisters, we owe it to ourselves and to our daughters to cry 'No Mas! We don't want what you're selling because we're smart enough to seek and think for ourselves.'

Now that I'm on a roll, I'd really like to get back into radio - on my terms (see 'all female format').  It must be commercial-free and a safe place for women to express themselves.  As much as I hate Go Fund Me, I'd take it just to get such a station on the air.  I wouldn't need anything fancy - a few watts of power, a couple of old-school turntables (because that's how I learned to run a board) and a microphone. KLHS (K (because all stations begin their call letters with a K down here) Let Her Speak).  I like it.




I'm too shy to start it myself, but I'm certainly not too proud to have someone else kick start it for me.  I'll do the all the grunt work gladly for those willing to pony up a few shekels.

And with that, Dear Hearts, I leave you with a number by Elizabeth Cook, who never gets any airplay on regular radio but hosts a dandy of a show on Sirius FM's Outlaw Country.  Something to think about....





Monday, May 25, 2015

Summertime Saviours

Nothing steals our elegance more, Dear Hearts, than poorly groomed, perspiration-infused attempts at looking and feeling chic.  With the unofficial start of summer upon us, I'd like to offer you my personal jack-pot, tried and true ways to stay cool - both literally and figuratively:

1.  Stay indoors

2.  Make moist towelettes your best friend.  Keep a few in your handbag, back pocket, or hidden away in your socks (which I hope to Heaven you're not wearing with your sandals).  Utilize them only in the most private of venues (powder room - yes, cafeteria - no)

3.  Some so-called experts suggest we go with a lighter touch when it comes to applying our make-up.  I disagree, especially if you're skin, like mine,  is not as vibrant as it used to be.  If you can get away with nothing more than a tinted moisturizer and a bit of lip gloss, I salute you.

4.  Lightly spray your feet with antiperspirant. Sure, aerosol cans full of harsh chemicals aren't good for the environment, but neither is foot odor.  Think about it.

5.  Forgo your heavier perfume for a body spray or lotion.  I bought this as a room spray, but the back of the label says it can be used on the body plus it's all about attracting good mojo and I'll take all the help I can get.

(Note:  not all room deodorizers double as a a body spray.  Most men aren't aroused by the smell of Lysol.  Don't ask me how I know this - I just do).

Now let's talk fashion:
-Remain super-mindful of the length of your shorts and skirts.  Use leg makeup for unsightly veins and blemishes.

-No cleavage at work, and double-check with HR to determine just how much arm you're allowed to reveal.  Ditto for open-toed shoes - some companies do not allow them.

-Don't spend a small fortune on basic t-shirts; most craft stores sell them for around $2 - $5.

-You can incorporate fall and winter accessories cleverly this time of year.  Watch this:


video

Remember, soaring temperatures do not mean we get a pass on looking our best.  Stay fabulous, Sweeties!