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Friday, May 26, 2006

Peace Out, Nashville!

In less than 24 hours, Queen MAB will be wiggling her toes in the sand, listening to the sound of the turquoise ocean crashing against the shore, and basking in the warm glow of the Florida sun. That's right, I'm headed to the beach... Seagrove Beach, FL, to be exact. I'll spend hot days on the Emerald Coast and even hotter nights shakin' my highly-fashionable derrière with Amanda, Emily, Rhonda, Lana, Mandy, Sarah and Lisa. You can pretty much guarantee shenanigans will abound and I'll have my handy-dandy notebook on hand in anticipation of a post-Florida blog. Until then, have a glorious and safe Memorial Day!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Taking the Long, Boring, Self-Indulgent Way

I received the new Dixie Chick's CD, Taking the Long Way, from Amazon.com yesterday and listened to it all the way to work this morning, as well as right now. And quite frankly, I'm a little disappointed.

Most of you know, I am not a huge country music fan. However, I am a big fan of bluegrass and vintage country-folk. I got sucked into the world of the Dixie Chicks in the late nineties, enjoying their first album of pop-country-with-a-side-of-twang, Wide Open Spaces.

It was upon the release of their second album, Fly, when I really became a true Dixie Chicks fan. In addition to mainstream pop hits, the Chicks began to experiment with more of a bluegrass sound, on tracks like Hello Mr. Heartache and Sin Wagon, where the Chicks add a little flavor with a Jews' harp. My freshman/sophomore roommate in college, Missy, also loved the Chicks, and even bought a Jews' harp to learn how to play. I have a happy memory of us jamming to Goodbye Earl on the ride back to Hendersonville, while driving on Highway 109 ("So the girls bought some land and a roadside stand, out on Highway 109. They sell Tennessee ham and strawberry jam and they don't lose any sleep at night.")

My favorite Dixie Chicks album is their third album, Home. This album is markedly different than the previous two albums, breaking from a pop sound in favor of acoustic bluegrass. I don't think there's a bad song on this album. The title-track, Home, reminds me of what I love so much about Nashville. The Stevie Nicks cover of Landslide is absolutely beautiful. White Trash Wedding is characteristic sassy Chicks. Lil' Jack Slade is a fun bluegrass instrumental. Godspeed and Top of the World close the album sentimentally.

Rachel, Amy, Ginny and I bought tickets for the 2000 Fly Tour, but because of conflicts with sorority recruitment, we weren't able to go. We bought tickets for the 2003 Top of the World Tour and were incredibly excited about it until Natalie Maines made some controversial comments at a concert overseas. While it definitely dampened our spirits for the concert, we still had a really great time. The set was breathtaking, featuring a large tree anchoring the stage, surrounded by an LED-lit cicular catwalk. The Chicks introduced Truth No. 2 (written by the legendary Patty Griffin) with some references made to the current political climate and their experiences with the backlash of their actions, and it was surprisingly very heartfelt.

Before the show, we ate at the Bound'ry, and our waitress told us that the Chicks had eaten there just an hour before we arrived! We thought we were so cool....

Anyway, I was very excited to receive the new Chicks CD in the mail yesterday. And after listening to it several times through, I'm not incredibly impressed. First of all, it's missing a key Chicks component---cheekiness. While the album is full of chutzpah, there's not a single track that makes me want to crank it on a summer night and slap my knee. The one attempt at a fast, upbeat track, Lubbock or Leave It, is hard to enjoy because of its subject matter.

The best song on the album is by far is the politically charged Not Ready to Make Nice. Other tracks that stand out are Long Way Around, Easy Silence, Bitter End and Silent House. The album has very personal themes, with every single track co-written by the Chicks. It's persistently mellow, at times a bit whiny and self-indulgent, and the endless ballads begin to bore me halfway through. Overall, the CD is mediocre and disappointing.

Maybe the Chicks will get everything off their chest with this album, so they can return to their banjo-pickin', steel guitar twangin' ways the next time around. Too bad I'll have to wait another three years to find out...

Friday, May 19, 2006

Cat vs. Dog: Round One

I think it's safe to say that Jack the Cat isn't exactly entertained by Stella the Puppa's antics...

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Who needs the Pennant when you already have the hottie?

Obviously, the Cubbies haven't been playing stellar so far this season, but what else is new?

Matt Murton is what's new.

Murton is the current Cubs left-fielder and slugger, making the move from the BoSox to the Cubbies in the Nomar Garciaparra deal of 04. His credentials include playing AAA ball with the Iowa Cubs and AA ball with the West Tennnessee Diamond Jaxx.

Murton is also a devout Christian.

I've decided we are a perfect match for each other.

See, he's smiling. He likes that idea too.

That's Derrek Lee congratulating Murton on snagging a cool chica like yours truly.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

What is the "real world" anyway???

I'm going to rant today.

Why does achieving marriage and children equal adulthood???

TWICE in the past week, has an "adult" said to me, "things are different when you get married and have children." One of them told me that I don't even live in the "real world" because I'm not married and I don't have children.

What happens if I NEVER GET MARRIED!?!? Am I destined to be treated like a child who doesn't know "real world responsibility" forever??? Geez, I feel like a teenager again!

Do these "adults" realize how condescending or hurtful they are by making these comments?

I just made a visit to Amazon.com where I promptly ordered Boundaries and the Boundaries Workbook. I've been putting this off for way too long...

Friday, May 12, 2006

Diamonds Over Baghdad

My friend Christa sent me a HILARIOUS email that contained the following story and photo. It was written by a Greek fraternity member from ASU, c/o 98. He's a Marine Corps Officer, currently deployed overseas in Iraq. He is part of a small team that is attached to an Iraqi battalion, training and operating on one of the Iraqi borders.

I have attached a little humor for you from Iraq. One of my responsibilities out here with the Iraqi battalion is overseeing construction projects in support of the unit. I am having a fort built for one of my Iraqi companies and have a local construction contractor working for me.

I was out at the construction site a couple weeks ago and saw one of the workers wearing an odd article of clothing that looked familiar. I called him over (which is a task when no translator is handy) and saw that he was wearing a sorority sweatshirt!! I about lost it. I yelled for my translator, then made him explain the sweatshirt and its meaning to the worker. Needless to say, he was not pleased to be wearing a "girl shirt." I explained that it meant he was part of a club (easier to explain club than "sorority") of a LOT of beautiful women, knowing first hand, since I dated a few in my day, but he was still not pleased. So please, pass this on to the appropriate sorority sisters you know, and tell them that their rush efforts in Iraq are seriously slipping. This isn't the caliber I remember of their sorority at ASU.

Capt Joe Moye
Logistics Officer
Border Transition Team Three
5th Battalion, 3rd Iraqi Border Brigade

Thursday, May 11, 2006


Last Saturday, Mom calls me and says, "I've got something to tell you that will bribe you to come home this evening." Of course, I'm intrigued, and she tells me that she and my Dad are on their way to get a new puppy!

It's been almost seven months since the Brown household featured a dog. We lost Molly, our faithful Golden Retriever of ten years, in October to cancer. We were very sad to see her go because she was such a good dog. Mom and Dad wanted to wait awhile before we got a new puppy, but the more time went by, I started to wonder if we'd ever get another one. Then Friday, our "farm" cat, Jill, was run over by a car and Mom was sad, so they decided to give in and get a new puppy.

I went home on Saturday evening to meet her and instantly fell in love. She's so cute and playful and smart!

Our last Golden, Molly, weighed about 50 pounds full grown. This puppy's mom is 68 pounds at three years old, so we think she's gonna be a big girl! Look at the size of those paws!

She wore out fast chasing us and running around in the grass.

The breeder gave her puppy calming drugs before she brought her in from Carthage, so the little puppa was very docile and sleepy.

We had a bit of trouble agreeing on the name. Mom wanted "Daisy." Dad and I vetoed that really fast. We then decided on "Seven," a really funny reference to a Seinfeld episode, where George wants to name his firstborn this and Susan's cousin takes the name for her own child. We had a good laugh at the name and I left the house that evening thinking it stuck.

Sunday morning, Mom calls me and says that the puppy is not a "Seven" and that she's decided on "Winnie." Over my dead body that dog is gonna be called "Winnie." That afternoon, Mom calls me back and says, the dog's name is "Gabby." Again, no thank you. So I'm on the phone with Mom and I'm scrolling through dog names and I see it: "Stella!"

It's perfect. It's a cute name, but not too sugary-cute. It's funny and has a Seinfeld reference. Elaine sleeps on Jerry's parents fold-out couch and the bar is in her back all night long. She wakes up with incredible back pain and takes a bunch of muscle relaxants before a banquet at the retirement center that evening. Elaine overdoses and can barely stand-up, when she meets Jerry's Aunt Stella, and her reply is "Stellllllllllllla! Stellllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllluuuuuhhh!"

So anyway, the puppa finally has a name. I get to see her this weekend when the fam goes to Jackson for Mother's Day. I'm so excited!

Tuesday, May 9, 2006

Vegas in 2,000 words or less

I could apologize for my delinquency in posting about my Las Vegas trip, but since I am the Queen of my blog, I make no apologies.

Having said that, here's the recap. Be sure to buckle-up.

I board the plane for Vegas early Friday afternoon and settle in for the four hour-long trip. Here's a tip to remember the next time you fly to Vegas: always sit on the right side of the plane, preferably at the window. The landscape from Tennessee to Nevada is absolutely beautiful and evolves from rolling hills to flat plains to deep canyons to mountains. The crop circles of Oklahoma are amazing, pieced together in square plots of land forming one very large quilt. The bird's eye view of the Grand Canyon is something to write home about (or maybe to blog about) as well.

I love the climate in Las Vegas. It's arid and dry, which takes some time to get used to, but is overall quite pleasant. It's warm, but cool at the same time, as if that's possible.

My plane arrived late Friday afternoon in Vegas, and after checking into the hotel and running some errands, my co-worker Traci and I decided to eat dinner. We headed over to Bahama Breeze (which I so wish would make its way out to TN) and sat down on a couch in the lobby to await our table. While we're waiting, I look up and notice something strange out of the corner of my eye. I look over and see two very tall and bulky men walking past, wearing women's clothing, high heels and all. Then out walks a few more cross-dressing men, just as decked out in their wigs, makeup and jewelry as the ones before. All in all, about 20 additional cross-dressers mill around the lobby and exit the building. But oh yes, it gets better. Out of the same back room where the previous wo-men had exited, walks out a girl, about mid-twenties, in a huge princess-style wedding gown, complete with a veil. Following her are four cross-dressing men in bridesmaid dresses. Following the bridal party is another person in a similar princess-style wedding gown, except this time, it's a middle-aged man.

I'd like to say that it was an isolated incident, a freakish occurrence only to be forgotten about the next day, but afterall, it is Vegas. TAR moments were bountiful throughout the trip, but past a certain point, you begin to regard the abominations as normal, just part of the scenery.

After working for a bit during the morning on Saturday, Traci and I finally found the time to make it out to the pool. The weather on Saturday was fabulous and warm. The sun blazed down overhead, but a cool desert breeze blew, so similar to an ocean breeze that I felt like I was in Destin. For five hours I baked on a float in the pool, catching up on my reading, and managing to tan slightly without a burn. I'm really proud of myself for the concern I've shown for my epidermis so far this year.

That evening, we went to eat at the Rio Hotel & Casino, to the Carnival World Buffet. Normally, I'm not a huge fan of buffets because I find them to be overly germy. But this buffet is not your typical buffet. First of all, it is consistently recognized as the best buffet in Vegas. It's a huge restaurant and boasts all sorts of cuisine, from Italian to Asian to Southern Homestyle. And the best part is the dessert buffet, rather, the dessert continent. I've never seen so many handmade tartlets, mini fudge pies, fruit compotes, bon-bons, eclairs, and a variety of pastries and cakes.

Unfortunately, I worked on Sunday morning, making final touches to the booth. The majority of our sales staff met with customers on Sunday night, so I had the time free to shop. I headed over to Caesar's Palace at the Forum Shoppes, my favorite shopping destination in Vegas. I normally am unable to afford any of the couture goods found within Caesar's shops, but I am of the rare variety of gal that enjoys to window shop. After browsing through Coach, Fendi, Juicy Couture, D&G, Kate Spade, Marc Jacobs and Roberto Cavalli, I ended up in Dior, wishing I could buy the $1400 Gaucho Saddle Bag mocking me on it's stand. I got to touch it, anyway.

I ate dinner at Ferrara's Cafe on Caesar's third-floor veranda, and was able to people-watch while I consumed my Caprese salad, Minestra di Pasta e Fagioli, and fruit tart. At the conclusion of my lovely dinner, I headed to Anthropologie to purchase some gifts for family and friends.

Monday was the first official day of the show and it was a typical busy day of meet-and-greet with press and customers. From time-to-time, we have visitors to the booth peddling their own goods and services. This one gentleman (whose name has been blurred to protect the not-so-innocent) stops by our booth, hands me his card, and walks off. Here tis:

Do you notice anything odd about the above business card? This gentleman is the CEO of a business that obviously specializes in logo creation. But where, might I ask, is the logo for his own business??? I still find this rather funny.

Monday evening, we ate at the Hofbrauhaus, a raucous german restaurant that happens to be my favorite restaurant in Vegas. The food isn't fabulous, but a live German band and saucy atmopshere make up for where the food falls short.

Tuesday was more of the same at the trade show. My destination in the evening was the Fashion Show Mall, where fashion shows are held on a runway in the center of the mall, periodically throughout the day. Traci and I ate at RA Sushi on the patio, enjoying a pleasant evening outdoors. We had a limited amount of time to shop though, and had to forego stops at Bloomingdales, Macy's, Neiman-Marcus, Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue. My main goal was to shop at the Sanrio, and while I accomplished the goal, I was left a bit disappointed. The Sanrio store was smaller than Hello Kitty herself and the selection of kitschy goods was lacking.

Wednesday yielded day three of the trade show, but by this time things are beginning to slow down a bit. Our company dinner was held at Tsunami Asian Grill at the Venetian, always one of my Vegas favorites. After dinner, Marlina and I window shopped through the Grand Canal Shoppes, admiring the beautiful architecture and design of the hotel. The Venetian's ceilings are painted to resemble clouds, and they look surprisingly lifelike. The shops are decorative high-rise store fronts, placed on cobblestone streets, with a canal running through the middle. The canal even has gondola rides for tourists! I've visited the Venetian many times, but the place never seems to stop taking my breath away.

Marlina and I did some cheap souvenir shopping at Citta Delle Luci and then shopped for sassy & cartoony gifts at David & Goliath. On our way out, I stopped at a Venetian street vendor selling authentic Gelato and marveled at the beautiful display of frozen delights.

The trade show culminated on Thursday, and that evening, Marlina and I traveled to Sephora at the Venetian, the larger of the two stores in Vegas. You can't actually see Sephora from the main balcony of the Venetian, and you are required to walk this lengthy stretch of moving sidewalk in order to reach your destination. Cresting the hill of the moving sidewalk is always a surreal experience. Once I actually lay eyes on Sephora, everything begins to move in slow motion. It's like a scene in a romantic comedy---they could film me cresting the moving sidewalk hill with a look of euphoric emotion on my face. Like I've finally seen a long-lost lover or something...

Large is not an appropriate term to describe the size of this store. Huge is more like it, but who's complaining? I don't really understand why cosmetics excite me so. I love the colors, the packaging, the promise and potential they offer.

So, here's what I bought:

Cargo Bronzing Powder in Medium: This is the bronzer that I've used for a couple of years for now and I needed a replacement. It's the perfect consistency and shade. And it lasts forever. I'm just now finishing up the tin I bought last June.

Bare Escentuals Mineral Veil: Amanda gave me a B.E. makeover one night before we went to Tootsie's and I loved the way this mineral-based makeup felt. I didn't want the full foundational coverage offered by purchasing the entire starter kit, but I did want flawless, finished results with a foundation. My skin is incredibly oily and any type of liquid, cream or heavy foundations have always pooled and muddied my face. But I wasn't able to go without any type of foundation at all, so for years, I've used your run-of-the-mill pressed powder. And it's always worked fine until about 3 p.m. and the afternoon greasies still seem to re-surface. I'm hoping this product will provide a bit more coverage than my pressed powder. We'll see. I have yet to use it because I want to buy a kabuki brush, yet couldn't bring myself to justify the pricetag. I'm on the lookout!

LORAC Eyeliner in Paparazzi: I love this purchase! It's a soft, crayony pencil with silver glitter. My standard everday eyeliner is a brown pencil, so this one definitely adds some excitement to my life.

Sephora Iridescent Cream Shadow in Brown: This clickable eye shadow-dispensing pen delivers a wonderfully creamy, yet slightly sparkly, neutral, perfect for everyday wear. And it's long-lasting, too. Cream eyeshadows tend to crease and gather, but this one stays put.

NARS Blush in Orgasm: I had to see what all the hype was about--and the critics are right--this blush is amazing. It's pinky-peach shimmer is incredibly natural and perfect for everyday wear.

Juice Beauty Blemish Clearing Serum: The coolest thing about the Juice Beauty product line are its organic properties. I am all about natural ingredients. In the ongoing blemish war, this serum is proving to be a valuable tool. The biggest difference I've noticed is how it heals my blemishes, in addition to making them disappear. My complexion is fair and after blemishes disappear, their red, bumpy remains stick around for months. This serum is healing those little red splotches and scars, but is not overly medicated or drying. The only negative--after I spread a thin layer of this on my face at night, my face smells like fermented apple or orange juice.

Juice Beauty Redness Reducing Serum: I'm obviously fascinated by the Juice Beauty concept of organic-infused cosmetics, because I also purchased this serum to combat redness. Again, my fair skin tone creates a conducive environment for redness to foster along my cheeks. It's not quite rosacea, but it's enough redness to look blotchy at times. I've been spreading a light layer of this on my face at night before bed, but not on a consistent basis. I can tell that my stress level right now is making my face revolt, so if I can just get in the habit of using this product on a regular basis, I'm confident I will see results.

In making this list, I just realized that I entered, shopped and left a Sephora without purchasing any lipgloss!!! After browsing for two hours, I finally left Sephora and headed back to the hotel to pack for my flight out on Friday morning.

My flight was delayed on Friday morning several hours, but we made up time on the way home. Gotta love that jetstream! Each time I fly out of Vegas, I wonder, if it's my last trip to the magical city of lights, so I take a mental photograph of the beautiful strip of hotels, and burn the sight on my brain so I don't forget.

I always really love the return trip from Vegas. You can tell when the plane is rapidly approaching Tennessee. All of a sudden, the landscape becomes green and lush. As the plane descends, you can literally feel the Tennessee humidity soaking back into your skin and bones. It's a really nice feeling.

I'm for sure glad to be back in town. But despite the craziness that is the city of Vegas, the magic of Las Vegas never disappears!

Tuesday, May 2, 2006

"Let's play fire Satan!"

While a Vegas re-cap is coming soon, I had to take a moment to share with you all, a highly entertaining conversation shared by myself and Emily today at lunch. We stuffed ourselves on some dang tortillas from Fiesta Azteca and began to discuss what the Lord was doing in our lives.

Em made a comment about how she was reading Genesis chapter three this morning and how after Adam sinned, he was ashamed. God then made clothing for Adam and Eve to cover themselves. At first glance, this Bible story is a staple in the knowledge base of the average Christian (and average human being for that matter). But Em was insightful this morning (rather, the Lord revealed to her), that even though Adam and Eve sinned and had to accept the consequences of their sin, God created provisions for each of them.

Anyway, Em's telling me all of this and she assumes the voices of God and Adam, saying, "Adam, why are you hiding from me" and "I don't know, Lord." This prompts me to personify Adam as "Stuart Larkin" of MadTV, saying, "I don't wanna say!" Emily and I bust out laughing and the joke carries on even further:

Stuart (Adam): "Stttttooooooooppppp!"

Doreen Larkin, Stuart's Mother (God): "Stuart, you're not having the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil for dinner!"

Stuart: "Momma are there ho-ho's in Heaven?"

Doreen: "Stuart, what does Momma say about playing with snakes?!"

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