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. 
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:



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





Sunday, April 26, 2015

A Sensitive Issue

Feelings....nothing more than feelings....

I think the worst thing anyone could say to another human being is, "You shouldn't feel that way."  "You shouldn't act that way," "you shouldn't dress that way," and "you should get out of my way" are acceptable suggestions when the appropriate opportunity strikes; however, feelings are highly personal, and I think when you encourage someone to put the kibosh on hers, you could very well be contributing to her emotional downfall.  

It boils down to sensitivity - something our society seems to lack these days.

Think about it:  when we ask, "how are you?" we don't really expect a response. On the rare occasion we get one, we're caught off guard.  Personally, I never tell anyone how I'm really doing, mainly because I so seldom get the chance to do so, and besides I'm not one to open up too much.  They don't call me "Close to the Vest Newman" for nothing (nobody calls me that - I'm just making stuff up at this point).

Anyhow, I think the vast majority of us could do with some serious sensitivity training - all the 'do unto others' ideals we were taught in Sunday School yet have forgotten over time.  If we really paused before speaking and attempted to place ourselves in another's position, we'd a) avoid hurting someone, and b) avoid making a complete and utter ass out of ourselves.  Of course, with that being said, I think many of us have become highly sensitive to things that simply don't matter in the grand scheme of things.  They include but are not limited to:

-politics
-religion
-money
-celebrities
-sports
-music

As far as sensitivity goes, the only things we should be sensitive about are:
-family
-children in need
-the ill and the old
-animals
-insuring everyone gets an equal chance no matter his race, culture, gender, or sexual orientation

Put yourself in someone else's shoes, Brother - you've no idea what they may be going through.  Think before you speak.  Listen more than you speak.  And if you're one of the quiet, sensitive ones who feels as if you may absolutely lose your shit at some point, do it and do it in a big way. Get it out. Make it one of the epic events of your life.  Make it so that generations to follow will tell stories of 'The time Aunt Sheila lost it and went off on everyone at Christmas'. I personally can't wait to reach the point in which I'll actually throw a drink in someone's face.  
All kidding aside, if you are one of the highly sensitive in a world of blundering oblivions, seek an outlet. I recommend some sort of spiritual counseling because it helps cover all the bases (at least it does for me). Go with what works best for you, though, and remember - what goes around comes around. The meek shall inherit the earth.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

One of the Worst

I won't say she's the worst person I've ever met, but she definitely falls into my Top Three.

It was through my brief stint working in retail several years ago that we met.  Hired as a manager for the store, I naturally assumed she knew what she was doing.  If thievery and stirring up trouble were prerequisites for the job, it's no surprise the Powers That Be saw something special in her.

At first, I simply found her annoying:  she wouldn't stop talking.  I'm not much for chit chat, but her stories of her alleged past as a salon owner, security officer, and being the ex-wife of an NFL player she refused to name intrigued me.  I'm pretty good at spotting BS; little did I know the S would get even deeper.

Her sneaky S snuck up on us initially in the form of bullying.  A colleague with some serious personal issues was having difficulty doing her job effectively.  Rather than reach out, contact HR, cut her a little slack (you know, the things  managers are supposed to do) our subject opted to report this woman as 'completely incompetent' and drove her point home by keying the woman's car.

I S you not.

She mocked a wheel-chair bound customer behind said customer's back. She flirted with every man who entered the shop, except the gay ones.  She didn't like homosexuals, and made no secret of it.  She told a Muslim woman to 'take the curtain' off her head.   She forced junior associates to buy her sodas and never paid them back. She parked in front of a neighboring store and threatened legal action when they asked her to stop.   She was a horrible speller, and her grammar was no picnic, either. 

You can't make this S up, Gentle Reader.

Then merchandise went missing.  Small things at first - earrings, stuff like that. And the gossip!  She went out of her way to tell any and all about insults from other employees (supposedly) hurled against each of us. Needless to say, morale hit bottom.   Some of us were asked by the Powers That Be to keep an eye on her and report back any suspicious or unprofessional behavior.  That's not my style, but I did as I was told.  My only offering was a report of her spending three hours on the phone with her cable company when she should have been on the sales floor.  We were the only two employees working at the time, so she easily figure out that I was the rat.  She accused me of being a lying, racist, anti-Christan goody-two-shoes, and promised to make my life miserable. That night I went home, typed up my letter of resignation, and plotted all the different places I could park my car within a two-mile radius of the store.  I didn't resign immediately, but I kept the letter in my purse, just in case.  After all that, the worst she did was ignore me - a welcome respite from her constant chatter, to be honest.

We then began receiving surprise visits from the Head of Security for this particular store.  Big chain stores have those, you know, and they've got all this groovy equipment to not only track inventory but to track transactions as well.  I'd heard things about questionable sales and returns while under our subject's watch, but didn't think much about it until the day she broke her vow of silence against me.

"WHAT DID YOU TELL THEM THIS TIME, BETH?"  Typed in all caps because she yelled at me as the Security Head and another manager escorted her to the back room.  

They were in there for hours, and no one wanted to leave at the end of her shift. Too caught up in the drama, we made excuses to stick around.  

Finally, she emerged from the back, purse in hand, and yelling (again).  "I WILL OWN THIS COMPANY!  I'M CALLING MY LAWYER WHEN I GET HOME!  YOU ALL ARE TRYING TO CRUCIFY ME!  JUST BECAUSE I'M A WOMAN!" (that one didn't make any sense; the store was predominately female.) And with that, she left.

My shift was long over, so I went to the back to gather my things.  The Security Head asked me how to get to the nearest police department.  I told him, and he ran out the back door, violating store policy. No one was to enter or exit the back door. I'd learned my lesson about being a tattle-tale, though,  and I figured as Security Head he could come and go as he pleased.

We never heard nor saw from her again.  

I left the store a couple of months after the incident - nothing to do with her and everything to do with me not being cut out for retail.  God bless those who are.  It's a tough, thankless gig, and I admire anyone who can stick it out for longer than a few months.

Although it's been years since the incident, she still crosses my mind.  Curious, I did a little detective work recently and discovered that she had been punished accordingly for her misdeeds against the store. It's all a matter of public record.  Thank you, Internet, for showing me yet again that karma is real.



Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Trip Back



1987 called and he wants his look back.

Now don't get me wrong:  I adore vintage, but a fine line exists between retro and wrong-tro.  Every decade gone by has brought her fair share of glorious fashions, from the Roaring 20's Flapper to the New Look of the late 1950's/early 1960's (my personal favorite) to the fun frivolity of the 1970's (think Studio 54 and Halston, NOT the Brady Bunch).  The Great Gatsby, Mad Men, and even Downton Abbey with its own fabric line, prove that period pieces still turn heads and inspire trends.  Yet as far as the 1980's go, the jury's still out.  

A number of teens, I've noticed, have adopted the skinny pant and neon colors I wore in my youth, but I don't see many adults following their lead.  There's a reason for it:  some of those styles, in hindsight, were downright hideous, and what works for youngsters does not translate well for those of us old enough remember Magnum PI and Alexis Carrington.

The inspiration for this little musing stems from a recent reception I attended in which another reveler, approximately my age, sported a full-blown Miami Vice tribute, complete with whisker stubble and sockless shoes.  I'll give him credit, though - the lavender t-shirt he wore under his cobalt blue suit worked nicely.  Had we been at my senior prom (class of 88), I would have stood in a corner using my Jedi mind-trick powers willing him to dance with me (side note:  that never worked on straight boys back in my day, but I didn't care - the best boyfriends were the ones more interested in my wardrobe than in a love connection.  The fun we had devouring Seventeen Magazine each month!). Anyhow, I spent the evening wondering what in God's name possessed him to go for it in such a rad and totally tubular way.
Over time, I've lightened up in my role as judge, jury, and executioner when it comes to fashion. From what I've seen in restaurants, airports, and grocery stores, only a handful of people were listening to me anyway. Ye
t occasions such as running smack dab into Crockett and/or Tubbs in 2015 have me falling back into my old stylish snarkiness. So indulge me, Gentle Reader, for offering the following Gentle Reminders: 1. If you are old enough to have worn a trend when it was trendy, don't wear it now. Opt for modernized nods to your era of choice.  

2.  You can get away with an era that is older than you, but again, modernization is the key.


3.  If your children are wearing it, you really really really shouldn't.


4.  If you've never left a particular era, it's time.  Cyndi Lauper and Boy George have transitioned nicely into the modern age, and you can, too, Sweetie.




Fashion is a fabulous venue for self-expression.  If it feels good, do it, but proceed with caution when it comes to wearing vintage.  There's a difference between 'Hello, Darling!' to 'Hell No, Dummy!" so be careful.  Seek style gurus that resonate with YOU (loads of them on the Internet), and follow their lead.

And if you have specific questions (limit two per person, please, for I'm very busy and don't have much of an attention span these days), feel free to submit them via the comment box.  Cheers, Sweeties!




Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Comfort Zone


Had the groom told us beforehand that the dress code was 'sky clad', the guests, along with the bride and the members of the wedding party, most likely wouldn't have shown up.  To be honest, I didn't know the couple that well;  I'm merely a friend of a friend of a friend. I only went because I'd never been to a Pagan wedding before.  Little did I know at the time that lesbian Universal Life ministers would become a trend, so I totally wasted my time with this one.

Anyway, we thought he made the request in jest, but when he disrobed and threatened to call the police if others didn't follow suit (pun totally intended), we knew he meant business.  The bride cried while her father threatened to punch his new son-in-law in the mouth.  If I've said it once, I've said it a hundred times:  hard core Pagans and free-flowing champagne are never a good combination. 


I'm not comfortable with public nudity; I am, however, comfortable with free cake, so once I helped myself to a slice, I hightailed it out of there.

Now you understand why I rarely leave the house. There's always going to be some element of large gatherings that makes me uneasy. Whether it's nudity or just the noise, I can't handle being part of a big group.  I play a good game for a while, though, and can find tools to help me cope (see: free cake), but generally speaking, I'd prefer spending time with a small segment of fully-clothed, like-minded individuals.

My friends and I gladly own our introvert status, and we've finally reached the age in which we're comfortable telling one another, "It's 8:00, and I need to leave."  We, unlike those pesky extroverts, would never insist that you stay for just one more. 



We understand and embrace the comfort zone concept - we're only equipped with what we have and we try to make the best of it.  No amount of goading or badgering shall change us, so don't bother trying.  

I guess the point of today's story, boys and girls, is that we've no right to infringe our own way of life upon one another.  Your insistence upon nudity is someone else's worst nightmare (for more reasons than one.  Have you ever noticed that those who practice nudity are never really the ones you want to see naked?). You've no right to request that everyone get on board with it.  I'm not enforcing my fabulous clothes upon you, Streaking Stanley, so leave me alone.

Live and let live, friends. That's the elegant way.







Sunday, March 15, 2015

Our Cause in Review

On-the-job travels have kept me away for a couple of weeks, so I welcome myself back to this little musing with open arms.

Unfortunately, Gentle Reader, I have no specific topic in mind, but since we're here to celebrate elegance, let's reconnoiter.  We cannot make strides toward world domination if we don't take pause to review what, specifically, we're here to do.  

Elegant Musings Mission Statement:  to enhance our lives with lovely and loving people, places, and things.  To ignore and/or mock those who refuse to measure up to our high standards.  To dress appropriately for every occasion and to use the proper fork. To display good will for all except those who don't deserve it (which includes but is not limited to bigots, hate-mongers, narcissists, oblivions, and your basic run-of-the-mill idiots).

Requirements for Acceptance:  a good sense of humor and a desire to make the world a kinder, more compassionate and spiffier place.

Things We Won't Tolerate:  whiners, loud-mouths, stinkpots, cat-haters, know-it-alls, and lactose.

Things We Will Tolerate:  humor, irony, spiritual exploration, art, five-dollar words, and bottles of red wine.

How You Can Help:  laugh at this blog when appropriate, share this blog if you'd like, and take this and any other advice-offering forum with a grain of salt.  Only you know what's best for you.  Don't give me that, of course you do - turn off the TV, sit in silence for a minute (or day...or week...) and try to figure yourself out, for crying out loud.

Any Other Business?:  why, yes, thanks for asking. The only way we can make the world a more elegant place is by doing the best job we can while on this plane. No fighting, demonstrating, petition-signing is going to do it.  Pick a couple of causes that resonate with you (in addition to this one), and contribute what you can peacefully.  

Turn off all gadgets while at the dinner table.  

Eat good food.  Real food.  Fresh food.  

Shop locally if you can, and do visit second-hand and thrift stores often.

Limit the amount of stuff in your home.

Clean your home, for Heavens' sake.

Adopt as many cats and dogs as you can.

Limit your attention to Western medicine; seek alternatives when you're ill (if you're gravely ill, see a doctor, though - don't be stupid).

Get together with friends on a regular basis.

I could go on, but I've got Pineapple Pork (yes, local and organic, Wise Guy) in the crock pot and I must take my leave of you, dear hearts, in order to check on it.  If I haven't told you before, let me tell you now:  I appreciate you so much for reading my little scribblings, and although we may not change the world, it's nice to know I'm in good company in our efforts.














Sunday, February 22, 2015

And the Award Goes To....

It's Oscar-time, Sweeties, and I can't think of anything more glamorous or self-congratulatory, can you?

Come on.  How many other professions take an entire season, culminated in a 15-hour televised broadcast, in order to pat themselves on the back? Think about it.  There are no trophies for Best Supporting Nurse.  No one gets a Lifetime Achievement Award for Outstanding Bathtub Scrubbing.  And Best Score by Your Cranky Band Director?  Not going to happen.  But just suppose....

Ladies and gentleman, welcome to the 45th Annual Proctologists Awards!  Tonight, we honor Dr. Harvey Finkelstein for his gripping work in How Did That Get in There?

It's all just so silly, but be that as it may, I'd like to offer my (not so) much researched insights as to who should win.  Have I seen every movie nominated?  No; in fact, I've only seen one of them, but that certainly won't keep me from chiming in.  Do I want to see every movie nominated?  No.  Do I care anymore what anyone is wearing now that I no longer have Joan Rivers and her fabulous running commentary? Absolutely not. Nonetheless, here it goes:

American Sniper - Clint Eastwood is a brilliant filmmaker, but I probably won't see this.  It has absolutely nothing to do with politics and everything to do with 'too much realness'.  When I plop down in front of a screen with a tray full of snacks, the last thing I want is reality, which is highly overrated.

Birdman -  I watched it last night (better late than never, right?).  Good. Interesting.  Creative.   Was it the best movie I've ever seen?  No, but I enjoyed it nonetheless, and I've adored Michael Keaton ever since Night Shift  and he will remain the only Batman I shall ever want or need, so I'm hopeful he'll get a nod in the Best Actor category - his performance, just like everything else he's ever done, was stellar.  Same goes for his co-star, Edward Norton.  Two fine actors who deserve all the success and recognition they can get.

Boyhood - Twelve years in the life of a boy. Something tells me it might take twelve years for me just to get through it.

Grand Budapest Hotel - The title alone suggests I should check into a hotel and nap through this one.  Next.

Imitation Game - 'A group of English mathematicians'....and I'm done.

Selma - I have nothing but the utmost respect for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and I will most likely see this at some point.  The one thing holding me back from doing so now:  Oprah.  I'm sorry.  Let's move on.

The Theory of Everything - I'm a bit resistant when it comes to biographical movies. I'd prefer to read a well-researched book about someone's life or hit up Wikipedia in a pinch.  If Stephen Hawking ever gets a cover story in Star Magazine, I'll gladly check it out.

Whiplash - A young musical prodigy and his tough-as-nails teacher.  I saw this in '80's.  It was called Fame.

In a nutshell, based on my own viewing experience and powerful process of elimination, Birdman should win them all. 

Now, let's talk about the ceremony itself.  It's too long, and there's always one yahoo who takes the stage, receives his trophy and then proclaims, 'This is a movie that had to be made."  Give me a break. We have diseases to eradicate and hungry children to feed, and your little 3 1/2 hour piece of warped propaganda gets the green light?  Pu-lease.

Today's Oscars ceremony also lacks the elegance of days gone by, when you could count on Bob Hope to keep it light, bright, and moving along.  You could count on the winners to keep their speeches brief and sincere.  Everyone dressed appropriately and behaved appropriately, too.

Perhaps our never-ceasing thirst for entertainment has contributed to the outlandishness of awards these days. Whatever. Good work is good work, whether you're an actor, a teacher, or a carpet salesmen.  It's nice to receive recognition, but it's not as nice as knowing deep down that at the end of the day, you did the best you could.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

That's Entertainment

Mesmerized by 'Old Hollywood', I simply can't get enough information about the stars of yesteryear. One recurring theme that runs throughout many of the books I've read centers on private parties, hosted by everyone from Bogie to Bing, Judy to Joan.  How glamorous it all seemed....

Think about it:  everyone shows up gussied up, and once the drinks and dinner have been served and somewhat digested, it's time for a little entertainment, usually provided by the guests.

I love that idea - exploiting people in the name of a good time.  

On the rare occasion that Mr. Newman and I host a 'do, I mention how fabulous it would be to insist that our guests perform something.  It could be a song, a dramatic reading, fire-juggling - heck, I don't care.  I'm easily entertained.  He entertains for a living, as do many of our friends, so they always put the kibosh on my big idea.  Pretty rotten, don't you think?  

I mean, come on - with the amount of talented people we know, we have all the makings of A SHOW.  Sadly, though, it will never come to pass. We'll continue to just stand around my living room like a bunch of a-holes eating cheese balls and sipping cheap wine.

I've even threatened family with 'performance pieces'.  Rather than gift-giving, why not give us a 'number'?  I think it's brilliant, and just imagine the money we'd all save.

Well, Sweeties, I made good on the threat yesterday, in honor of my sister's birthday.  
In two parts, because you simply can't contain this amount of talent into one video...
As I watch this, I now understand why my family and friends are hesitant about entertaining just for grins.  A Duran Duran tribute performed by a middle-aged woman, her cat, and her ukulele might look good on paper, but when the rubber hits the road, it falls short.  Way short....

But at least I tried, and knowing me, I'll try it again.  You have been warned.






Sunday, February 8, 2015

Dough for My Bread


It occurs every Saturday morning.

As I stand before my open fridge, tossing out non-eaten and soon-to-be expired perishables accumulated during the week, I can't help but calculate the money I'm literally throwing away. We've two humans and three cats living in this house, so it's not like I have to buy an exorbitant amount of groceries each week.  Nonetheless, my tendency to graze and Mr. Newman's tendency to do whatever the hell he wants food-wise results in a sad sack full of wilted vegetables and dodgy meats and cheeses.  It vexes me greatly, and the Mr. laughs at me, which vexes me even more.  Yet I never complain, until it's time to come up with a topic for my little scribblings.

Yes, I am frugal.  Yes, I realize others who are less fortunate would gladly come over and partake each week of the leftovers, but I don't want a bunch of strangers in my house, so I don't issue any invitations.  Frugal with money, frugal with generosity - that pretty much sums up my current existence.

I find, too, that the older I get, the more this frugality rears it's cheap ugly head.  I pride myself on never paying full price for clothing, books, and household items.  I readily admit to removing a beautiful plant stand a neighbor placed beside my dumpster because I needed one for the patio.  And sure, I'll even confess to hoarding pennies in an old Folgers coffee can in the event that our whole system shuts down due to the zombie apocalypse or total government mismanagement (which could very likely be one and the same).

I will not, however, dumpster dive. Taking something beside the dumpster is one thing; actually going into the dumpster is quite another.  I watched a documentary about people who get their groceries straight from the bin.  These people looked unhealthy.  And dirty.  And weird.  I'm weird enough - I don't need to egg it on even more.
I also refuse to buy in bulk.  I don't have the space to store five years worth of diapers.  I also don't have a baby.  This brings me to the extreme couponers:  if you're not going to use it, why purchase it?  I know a bald extreme couponer who has a hundred bottles of shampoo sitting atop a shelf in his garage.  His sole companion is a hairless cat.  'I had a coupon,' remains his only explanation for it.

I will, however, own the fact that I don't know everything (just most things):  the super-jumbo package of croissants Mr. Newman brought home the other day did not go to waste as I'd predicted. If I had a dime for every croissant I've thrown away recently, I'd have several dimes.  He assured me they would not wind up in the garbage, and just to make sure they wouldn't I ate the last one this morning.  Don't tell him.

I will also acknowledge that sometimes trash really is trash.  Unlike some people I know, I won't attempt to fashion bracelets out of toilet tissue cardboard nor will I wear a lampshade as a hat. 


I actually did wear a lampshade once in my early twenties, but it had nothing to do with frugality and everything to do with an outrageous party thrown by a friend of a friend.

Come to think of it, it really was a cute lampshade. It totally brought out my eyes.

But I digress....

In my opinion, waste is wrong.  Wasted food, wasted time, wasted talent, wasted youth - if we utilize the ingredients we already have, perhaps we'd all be a bit richer, and not necessarily in monetary terms.