Sunday, August 29, 2010


There's nothing to writing.
All you do is sit down at a typewriter
 and open a vein.

~Walter Wellesley Smith~

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Angelina: An Unauthorized Biography

I just finished Andrew Morton's latest book, Angelina: An Unauthorized Biography, a birthday gift from my sister, Mary Ellen.  It was entertaining.  And very shocking.
According to Morton, the award-winning actress has had more lovers than you can shake a stick at, including actors Jeff Goldblum and Timothy Hutten, Rolling Stoner Mick Jagger, and Calvin Klein model, Jenny Shimizu.  
She has taken every drug you can imagine; loves participating in threesomes, and keeps an array of knives, toys and whips to enhance her sexual enjoyment.  
She once hired a hit man.  To kill her.  She is fascinated with blood (often cutting herself) and has tattoos all over her body.  "I love getting tattooed," she says, "The heavy rattle of the needle turns me on."
When she wed British actor Jonny Lee Miller in 1996, she wore a pair of black rubber pants and a white shirt, on which she had written the groom's name in her blood.  They divorced a couple of years later.  (She ate him alive, friends say.) 
After taking a shine to Billy Bob Thornton, she had his name tattooed below her bikini line before they became lovers (talk about self confidence!), and then she took off after him like a hound dog chasing a coon, suffering a nervous breakdown in the process. 
After recovering, she swooped in and snapped up Sling Blade before he knew what hit him.  Although he was engaged to actress Laura Dern and planned to have children with her, he left with Jolie and never looked back.  (Leaving Dern a howling, devastated mess, friends say.)

The couple got married in 2000 and were soon wearing vials of each other's blood around their necks and bragging about their wild sexual shenanigans.

"Sex for us is almost too much," Billy Bob said, "I almost got killed last night.  You know when you love someone so much you can almost kill them?  Well, I was looking at her sleep and I had to restrain myself from literally squeezing her to death!"  (Sounds like her craziness rubbed off on Billy Bob!) 

When Jolie set her sights on Brad Pitt (while co-starring with him in Mr. and Mrs. Smith), the boyish Missouri-born actor dropped wife Jennifer Aniston like a hot potato and followed Jolie all over the globe.  Jennifer had been trying to convince Brad to start a family, but he refused. However, as soon as he and Jolie got together, they adopted two more orphans (she already had one) and had three biological children. (What a betrayal!)

Although her father, Jon Voight, tried to be a positive influence in her life, Jolie blames him for all of her problems.  But she thought her mother, Marcheline Bertrand, hung the moon. 

According to the book, most of her problems were caused by her mother.  The couple split up when Jolie was only a few months old; after that, Marcheline couldn't stand to look at her.  ("Because she looks so much like him!" she said.) 

So how did Marcheline deal with the situation?  She installed the baby and her nanny in an apartment two floors above the apartment in which she lived with her other child, three-year-old James.  Jolie and her nanny lived there for about two years, Marcheline popping in to visit about once a week.  (Can you imagine?)

Despite all of the above, Jolie has still managed to become a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations and the "most powerful celebrity in the world." 

If you like books about celebrities, this one will knock your socks off.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Remembering Laketon

Wilson Family Hike
 Fall, 2006
 (Photo:  Tim Walker)

It has been so hot lately that I'm already looking forward to crisp fall weather.  And our annual family hike.

We hike in late October or early November in the Mississippi River Bottoms near Laketon each year.  We feel like kids again, joking, making puns and laughing as we roam those familiar hills and hollows, looking for lucky rocks and reminiscing about the place we love so well.  Sometimes we tramp deep into the woods, braving snakes and other critters, searching for the tree on which our young Uncle Doyce carved his initials over eighty years ago.  It takes a while, but we always find it.

Later, as the sun sets and the weather turns cool, we gather around a big bonfire for a wiener roast.

We call the whole area Laketon.  But the little town is no longer there; it disappeared years before we were born.  As we were growing up, though, everyone acted as if it were:  "The pears are ripe," Maw Maw Wilson says, "We'll go down to Laketon today and get some." "Where is such-and-such?" someone says.  "On the other side of Laketon," says Daddy.

I hope the next generation of Wilsons keeps up the tradition of family hikes.  And I hope they will always remember Laketon.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Being Dead Is No Excuse

One of several birthday gifts I received from my lovely daughter was a very entertaining book: Being Dead Is No Excuse, by Gayden Metcalfe and Charlotte Hays. I read it cover to cover last night and chuckled all the way through.

Subtitled The Official Southern Ladies Guide to Hosting the Perfect Funeral, the book gives you a look at the rituals and food surrounding a Southern funeral: the appropriate flowers, the proper language in the obituary (glossing over the not-so-nice things the deceased did during his/her lifetime), and making sure you spend eternity among your relatives in the family graveyard after being glowingly eulogized at a well-attended funeral.

The stories are hilarious. One dowager wanted to be laid out on her dining-room table; one minister fell head-first into the grave; one family got three sheets to the wind and ate the entire feast the night before the funeral.  And although old Mrs. Gilbertson's daughter hacked her to death with a pair of garden shears, relatives threw her a lovely funeral. 

Southern women are very serious about the preparation of their special dishes to take to the bereaved family. (Sometimes they start preparing their dishes before the poor person has died.) Aside from the tongue-in-cheek humor, which the authors swear is more truth than fiction, there are delicious Southern dishes that must be served.

"The deceased cannot be expected to leave this earth," says Metcalfe, "without that Southern comfort food!"

Each chapter includes delicious recipes, many of which are found at funeral receptions in the Mississippi Delta. They include tomato aspic (with homemade mayonnaise), fried chicken, butter beans (with crumpled bacon on top), tomato pie, pimiento cheese (the paste that holds the South together, say the authors), fried walnuts, Liketa Died Potatoes, pickled figs, Can't-Die-Without-It Caramel Cake, Aunt Hebe's Coconut Cake. 

And those are only a few of the recipes. (I can't wait to make fried walnuts, hot pimiento cheese with bacon, and those Liketa Died Potatoes!)

The food is divided up by religion.  Methodists are known for their casseroles with the cook's name taped to the bottom of the Pyrex dish. "Nothing whispers sympathy quite like a frozen-pea casserole," Metcalfe says, "And the Baptists have tiny marshmallows in their salads.  The Episcopalians?  "We spend our lives making cheese straws."

Some of the names in the book have been changed to protect both the innocent and the guilty, although Metcalfe and Hays agree it would take townsfolk "about two seconds" to figure out who's who. "If you make a beautiful coconut cake, we used your name," Metcalfe says. "But if you hacked your mother to death, we changed the name."

Southern women always want to look their best, even if they happen to be dead. "Bubba" Boone is the local undertaker, who, Metcalfe says, "could make you look better than a plastic surgeon, though, unfortunately, you do have to be dead to avail yourself of his ministrations."

Bubba did such a good job on Sue Dell Potter, a waitress over at Jim's Cafe, one matron couldn't believe it when she went to call. "Never in a million years would I have thought it was her, bless her heart."

As for the cemetery, some Greenville women already have their names etched in stone, just to assure their place. And your place within the cemetery is important. One "uppity" Greenville matron had boxwood planted around her grave to block out the neighbors. And each time one Greenville native, who now lives in New York, returns home, she goes to her plot and stretches out, to ensure that nobody has encroached. (Her big fear is ending up in the new part of the cemetery where, she says, she doesn't know a soul.)

If you want a lot of laughs and some wonderful Southern recipes, I think you will enjoy this book.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Regulars

There was a time when I loved to shop.

Many Saturdays, Suzanne and I could be found at Eastland Mall in Bloomington, Illinois, strolling through all the stores, checking out the latest styles, trying on clothes, buying clothes, having lunch, looking at more clothes, buying more clothes.

Now, I hate to shop.  And it's no wonder.
Most women's clothes of today are designed for six-feet-tall teenagers weighing a hundred pounds or less:  dresses and blouses splattered with bright blues, oranges, purples, not to mention those horrible zebra stripes; very short, odd-looking skirts with belts dangling on the hips; suits with jackets ending just below the bust line (which make a normal woman's hips look wider than Oprah's!), and those five-inch heels, with toes sharp enough to smash cockroaches in the corner.

A few weeks ago, I traipsed all over Kentucky Oaks Mall searching for a nice dress or suit to wear to my nephew's wedding.  But when I entered Dillard's, I knew I was in trouble.  They were having a sale, and The Regulars were out in full-force.

The Regulars are women who shop til they drop.  All the time.  And when a sale is going on, they go crazy, traveling in packs, rushing here and there, huffing and puffing, giggling and squealing:

"Ooooh, look at this, Maxine, this would look SO cute on you!"  

"Oh, no, Joyce," Maxine says, mopping her brow with an embroidered handkerchief, "It would look a whole lot cuter on you!" 

I was in a bad mood (as I usually am when I shop), so I moved as far away from them as possible.  The other side of the store, actually.  But as soon as they spotted me, they rushed over and start pawing through clothes on the very rack  was looking through.  When I moved to another rack, they moved right along with me:

"Oooh, look at that CUTE zebra-stripe dress!" says Joyce, her moist breath on my neck, "Do you think they have it in size twenty?"

"I dunno," says Maxine, turning to me:  "Do you see a twenty over there?"

I grit my teeth and try to arrange my face in a pleasant look:  "No, these are all eights and tens."

A sudden blast of music almost knocks me flat:  Johnny Cash and June Carter's "Ring of Fire."

It is Joyce's cell phone.  She lets it ring a while (to make sure every customer in Dillard's hears it, I suppose), and then she answers.  In my EAR:  

"WHAT!" she barks,"No!  We ain't through yet!"

"Husbands!" she says, dropping the phone in her gigantic gold purse and rolling her eyes at me.

I leave the store without buying a thing.

I know I'm sounding like a bitch, and I guess I am.  When it comes to The Regulars.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Life Without Love

Life without love is like a tree without blossoms or fruit.
~Khalil Gibran~
All words and pictures © 2008 Brenda G. Wooley