Saturday, June 28, 2008

A Night in Clarksdale-Madidi

So, I'm back from a great dinner out with great friends last night.Madidi is a restaurant in Clarksdale Mississippi owned by Morgan Freeman, the actor, and Bill Luckett, a local attorney.It's located in downtown Clarksdale, which shows signs of wear and tear from the "high cotton" days it used to enjoy.Friends Sam,Joellen and Rosie joined me for dinner. There is a great wine list and the waiter made knowledgable suggestions for each course. I stuck with my Michelob Ultra. I love to play "against type". HA!Anyway, here's what we ate: bread salad with tomatoes,fresh mozzarella and vinaigrette dressing. Here was the disappointment: the bread part was like these croutons you buy in the store. Joellen and I discussed how we usually make ours with chunks of french bread...more bread than salad. The balance at Madidi was more salad than bread. Perhaps this wouldn't have been such a downer if I hadn't been realllly holding back on my bread carbs this month. I was ready for some chunks of bread, I'm tellin' ya! So, on to the entrees. I had: a 16oz in the bone ribeye with, at first, the house steak sauce...which tasted like A-1(which I hate) so I sent for bearnaise sauce instead. Rich, so a little went a long way. My dish was accompanied with steamed baby green beans and HUGE stalks of asparagus in lemon butter. Sam had:the largest pork chop I've ever seen. It was breaded and stuffed with cheese. His side was collard greens. Joellen had:the 8 oz filet with asparagus and not sure what else. Rosie had:pepper crusted yellow fin tuna with stir fried rice, steamed vegetables and the three medallions of tuna were presented on a bed of greens. Joellen and Sam had dessert. Sam had: a chocolate thing with ice cream on it...(okay, I am NO restaurant reviewer...just a normal person trying her best to remember what we ate). Joellen had Grand Marnier Creme Brulee. I finished my Michelob Ultra for dessert because I had hoped we would end the night at Morgan Freeman's blues club down the street. However, conversation was so good, so interesting,so much fun...we talked instead going to hear the blues. Hopefully, another night, we'll return for the blues portion of the evening.No Morgan Freeman sighting last night though his partner, Bill Luckett, ate at the table next to us. Save your pennies, it's expensive, but if you do it right you can have a great meal for around $50.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Coming soon! A review of Morgan Freeman's Restaurant "Madidi" in Clarksdale MS!

Heading to Clarksdale tonight for much anticipated dinner at "Madidi", Morgan Freeman's restaurant venture in Clarksdale MS. Details soon!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Crazy in Alabama by Mark Childress-A Review

I am almost embarassed by my review of Childress' "One Mississippi". It was such a shallow review. I only talked about what struck me deeply, the main character. There were many storylines that I neglected to talk about. I didn't realize I had done that until I read "Crazy in Alabama", also by Childress. Maybe it's because he addressed the racial conflicts so much more thoroughly in "Crazy", but I got his messages loud and clear this time around! The two main voices in the book, Aunt Lucille and Peejoe, could have represented two entirely different books. I'm not sure why he superimposed them together other than the fact that what happened in Industry, Alabama was so intensely violent, sad and regretful that to keep from plunging into a depression everytime yet another black person was senselessly murdered, you could focus on the surreal life of Aunt Lucille. I believe Childress is a skilled writer. This storyline in the hands of a lightweight could have been disastrous! What happened, instead, was that I came away from the book with a much clearer understanding of what happened all those years ago in Alabama during the days of Martin Luther King and protest marches and segregated swimming pools and restaurants. Childress made it seem like yesterday, but in a good way, in that he presented a subject we've all studied and discussed and observed in a fresh light, a new angle, perhaps a more thorough and personal view of an age old conflict.I am interested to hear the impressions of others who have read this book. I wonder if I am dead on or I missed the boat. Anybody?

Friday, June 20, 2008

One Mississippi by Mark Childress-A Review

Well, all you have to do is take one look at my music list on my blog to know I would LOVE this book! First, it's set in the era of my high school years. Pop culture references abound and lull you into a real comfort zone. His writing reminds me of a cross between Ferrol Sams(one of my faves) and Willie Morris(another fave) with a little Pat Conroy(a la The Great Santini) thrown in. There is something about familiarity with a location that moves you faster into a story. I recognized a lot of the street names he mentioned in the book and lived in a couple of the same towns he featured.The hilarious storyline dealing with the original Christian musical written by the baptist music leader of the local church was truer than I wanted to admit. A surreal part of the book, for sure. Childress is a great storyteller. I started the book around lunchtime yesterday and finished up before supper. How's that for southern bookends to a reading afternoon? So grateful that teaching affords such a vast luxury of time in the summers.I thought he dealt with his characters in a pretty thorough way, especially the main character. The ending (after the jarring, surprising "pre" ending)left you wanting to know more about this family. If you like the style of the writers I listed above, you will enjoy this book. A perfect way to spend a lazy summer afternoon in the air-conditioning.Going to the library tomorrow to grab the rest of the books he's written.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Sex and the City is not a southern book

I am finding that I blog all sorts of things here. Especially helpful was the You Tube blogging instructional I watched on Maggie Reads. This week I have seen the movie "Sex and the City" two times in a row. I mean I went to see it Monday and went back to see it yesterday. Now, here's the thing. Don't let the title or reputation of the series keep you away. Also don't let the nudity and gratuitous sex keep you away. I mean, nudity isn't a bad thing, but it was overkill I thought. And that's about the only negative thing I have to say about it. If you've ever had a bad ending to a relationship, (and if you haven't you are in denial or are very, very young), you need to see this movie.What kept me wanting more of the movie was the stark reaction the characters had to being badly treated by a man. It was very realistic, yet it wasn't cynical. The movie acknowledged that, yes, a woman does need and want to be loved by a man. No, it is not any fun to be without a man your entire life. Yes, men can improve the quality of your daily life. No, you do not have to be attached at the hip.Yes, you need to be wise but you also need to forgiving, able to self-entertain and not depend on them for your all the time happiness. It also really stressed the necessity of forgiveness when they have behaved badly. We put men on a prince charming pedestal. They are human just like we are. I think women put blinders on about their own flaws sometimes and just focus on the flaws of their men. I love this: "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." Sometimes women have such defense systems built up within them to keep from getting hurt. Well, life is just gonna hurt you sometimes. No one is immune. I have always heard that whatever gets on your nerves in someone else, is quite possibly one of your character flaws,too. It's a good thing to keep in mind. I think if we just remember that men are not the be all end all key to happiness. They are meant to be our friends, supporters and lovers. We are in charge of our happiness.I am a work in progress on this front, but this movie helped crystalize some of my thoughts. What do ya'll think?

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Summer getting in the way of reading.

Here I sit with two books burning in my hands to read. I am dying to read them, to curl up on my soft green couch with the air conditioner full blast and lose myself in them, to savor them. Instead, what have I been doing? Cleaning out closets, taking an embarrasing amount of junk to Salvation Army. Readying myself and my place for a little "storm damage renovation".I hate it when things lure me from my books. I'm the one that does it to myself, can't blame anyone else.When I started this blog thing, I was such a purist! I think I checked out like 20 books the first week. Of course, I never got through all of them. Son gone to scout camp this week,clutter going down by the day, so this may be the week, ya'll! When I get back on track! Now, I'm going to the movies Monday, working at school the next two days...sooo, Thursday it is! Thursday is the marathon, savor it while you read it day.
Ecology of a Cracker Childhood, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek(half way through already). I am scheduling a reading the summer! Ridiculous, but hope I'm not alone in this struggle. Look for a "cracker"jack review next weekend!:)

Monday, June 9, 2008

Munching on southern pecans reviewing a pair of books I read this weekend

Sitting here on a Monday morning munching on pecans I won in the weekly blog drawing. Thanks Maggie! I did a marathon read yesterday and finished up both "Run" by Ann Patchett and "The Secret Life of Bees" by Sue Monk Kidd. Eyes are still bloodshot from late night of finishing these two books. I was reticent while reading "Run" for a long while. I don't know why. I guess I was put off by the large print version I was reading. I found it distracting, but it was the first available copy.I liked the book "okay". I don't know why I never really allowed myself to open up to the characters. I remember reading "Bel Canto" when it came out a few years ago. I had a similar reaction to the writing style then, though I enjoyed "BC" more than "Run". I guess I just wasn't in the mood to read about yet another privileged east coast family suffering in their mansions with loads of cash. There! I said it! Perhaps it's the middle class in me that chafes me when the "old Bostonian money folks do something noble with their lives" storyline emerges. I just never mustered up much sympathy or interest in any of them. The most interesting character, of which the writer spent the least time on, was Sullivan, the black sheep(and only white child)of the family.
"The Secret Life of Bees" was polar opposite in setting and writing style. I grew up reading Sue Monk Kidd's contributions to "Guidepost" magazines.In ways, this was a hindrance to reading the book. I kept waiting for a traditional Christian take on the life of Lily. It never came, which caused me to have to go back and rethink my preconceived notions of how it all would turn out. I LOVED the beekeeping sisters! What wonderful people! I wish they were real! I loved everything about the bees. Made me want to invest in a hive or two. It was interesting the way Lily's parents were so flawed...that they remained flawed to the end, that Lily's peace was found in spite of no changes in her parents. When the absent mother was finally humanized, she wasn't spic and span clean. Kidd left her flaws and that was interesting to me and opened me up to thinking of resolutions to life that don't deliver perfection.We are spoiling ourselves if we only read the "happy ending" stuff. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE a happy ending, but it's good to step out of that and open yourself to alternatives. It's a good transfer to our real lives.

Friday, June 6, 2008

The Mercy of Thin Air-haiku

Here's my haiku for "The Mercy of Thin Air"
New Orleans ghost girl
Livin' twixt heaven and earth
Released from limbo.

The Mercy Of Thin Air-my review

I finished reading "The Mercy of Thin Air" by Domningue Ronlyn a couple of weeks ago. Due to my challenged technology brain, I am now attempting a brief review,hoping it will actually land on Mr Linky, whatever the heck that is! So, first of all, I am a sucker for all things New Orleans. Memories from childhood walking down Bourbon Street with my head as far down as I could get it watching my feet walk down the street so as not to see what I discovered when I was older walking down Bourbon Street with my head lifted up!My parents were looking for "The Chaplain of Bourbon Street" at the time. Yes, he was a real person and that's how this southern baptist family ended up on Bourbon Street. Probably not the childhood memory my parents hoped I'd remember, but such is life.
Anyway, I digress...sorry! Loved this book for many reasons. A compelling love story with all the elements...passion,tragedy,wealth,family love,set in 1920's New Orleans bridging over to present time New Orleans. Her descriptions of fragrances and tastes and architecture and a time long gone kept me drawn to the story to the very end. It was easy to fall into her book. Once you settle what's present and what's past that she's writing about, you can follow the storyline. If you love New Orleans half as much as I do the beignets and coffee and street cars and street music and shopping and watching the painters at Jackson Square and the poboys at hole in the wall places and mimosas at jazz brunch at Court of Two Sisters and the sound the horses drawing carriages make clip clopping on the brick streets and the glimpses into private courtyards as you walk down side streets...well, you get the'll love this book!

Do Diet Books Count?

And now we come to the "lit" I am truly interested in....the ultimate weight loss diet book.Through the years there have been many. They've placed first in the pageant of elusive skinniness I pursue but always...always, they let me down(I don't let myself down, it's the diet book's fault).My first diet was Weight Watchers in the 8th grade. Looking at my pics from that year I realize NOW that I wasn't fat! Yikes!It jumpstarted years of yo-yo-ness in my eating and weight habits. I was always motivated by a "cute boy" from high school on but now, as I approach 50 and have weathered a divorce...hmmmm...I'm having a hard time using that as motivation any longer..HA!So I tried the "love yourself just as you are" route...which is healthy emotionally but I REALLY wanted to see my feet again when I stood up. I miss seeing my feet. My ankles are actually two of the skinniest things about me!
So, I'm an apple. In case you are wondering and you were raised under a rock, women now categorize their size by a fruit:pears carry it low, apples carry it in the middle, celery...first of all, that's a veggie and second of all, who is going to have sympathy for someone lean and skinny but without curves...sounds like a whiner to me!Actually, my goal is to be a celery! So, being the consummate googler that I am, one night I googled "people who want to lose a fat belly" and up comes "The Flat Belly Diet" by Prevention magazine. Of course, one of my more astute friends asked "Ummm, aren't ALL diets lose belly fat diets?" She is a skinny bitch, but I love her. For some reason, it kicked in...okay, kicked in this past Monday. I know, I's still too early to tell. Here's the bottom line: I lost 2 inches in my waist and 5 and 1/2 pounds since Monday! That's FOUR DAYS! I walked 1.2 miles a day in my new "tennie shoes". I am loving the food. You eat four 400 calorie meals a day and it is satisfying. It's based on a Mediterranean diet...olive oil, nuts,avocados,lots of fresh vegetables and fruits,fish, chicken,feta and goat cheese.You drink this stuff called "sassy water" and it's SO good! Here's how you make it(thanks to the Flat Belly Diet book people):
Sassy Water:
to a pitcher of water add:
1 cucumber peeled and thinly sliced
1 lemon thinly sliced
tsp of grated ginger(I'm not a good grater so I just thinly slice some ginger root)
fresh mint
Let it steep overnight and drink in place of, here's the rub, everything else you've been drinking(this includes the Michelob Ultra I've acquired a summer taste for)
Actually, I don't even have a hard copy of the diet book, yet. I have this Prevention magazine "special" I got checking out at Wal-Mart on Sunday. In keeping with the blogging theme of the summer, you can even sign up with them online and track your inches and weight loss on a grid. It tells you % of weight loss and body fat loss...tells your BMI(that tells you how REALLY REALLY fat you are, be strong before you take that on, is all I'm saying!)
Women in search of a flat belly(or a relatively flat belly in my case)unite!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Take a break from thinking kind of reading

Okay, after knocking out two of my three southern reads(Mudbound and The Mercy of Thin Air) I decided to lighten up so I read my first Iris Johannsen(sic?) book. Loved it. Read most of it floating around in a swimming pool with 70spf sunscreen. So glad to find pool lit, ya know? Simultaneously, I am reading "Run" by Ann Patchett. It's a little pretentious, so far, but what can I expect after reading a suspense novel, huh? Ah well, it takes all kinds. I'm so glad I'm past the age of reading something just to "drop the name of it". I read for almost complete enjoyment now(outside of work, that is) and it is a relief! I used to read books simply because they were on the NY Times bestseller list. Granted, there are some great books to be read from that list,but it should be the book, not the prestige or "it's the latest thing/fad" that causes me to read.