Saturday, December 13, 2014

Cooter makes a confession

One never knows when inspiration will strike.

Recently, I began watching the new series Crowd Control on the National Geographic Channel.  This show, hosted by behavioral expert Daniel Pink, explores how human behavior can be manipulated.  One example that has aired uses plastic bags with embarrasing personal statements in an attempt to get supermarket shoppers to change from those bags to reusable ones.  This is an effort to save the environment and is being adopted by certain governments; in fact, California will ban them statewide as of mid-2015.

Of the several available statements, one caught my eye right away, and that's the one on the T-shirt Jesse Travis "Cooter" Barefoot (middle).  Cooter is a minor character in the Barefoot family; a third cousin of Buddy Wayne's, he is part of the cast of one of my character's spinoff TV series.  What the Buck? chronicles Hambone in her second job, which is as the owner and publicity director of Camp Paradise in Stricklands Crossroads, NC.  While Cooter and his three brothers teach hunting, fishing, and survival skills, Hambone answers the phones, arranges the group visits, and organizes activities after classes.

Like members of a boy band, each brother has special characteristics.  Bear is the brains of the operation, Lil' Jack is ambitious and headstrong, and Boo Boo is quiet and workmanlike.  Oh, and Cooter?  He's the comic relief, an illiterate daredevil who never takes himself seriously.  Just look at what he's wearing:

For what's on the shirt, I took a still from the episode I saw last Monday, then used another layer to isolate the word "BOOGERS" and change the color to black; this was followed by adding a stroke.  I placed it on a plain gray T-shirt.   Cooter's face was cut from the What the Buck? promotional material I made, then added the pants, arms, and legs from the sources I always use.  Finally, the background is the briar patch I picked up from an online forum picture.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

My book has changed again; Ralph "weighs in" on local controversy

I originally had no plans to post this weekend, but two things have come up that I want to bring to your attention:
  • The book has gone through yet another revision.  This time, the montage of Brenda and B.W. I created and mentioned last week is now included on page 17, one of the Down Home magazine covers has moved to page 29, and a duplicate picture of Belinda has been eliminated.  In addition, a caption of the Hambone montage with "BLOW ME a big, wet kiss" on page 54 has been changed to the following: "(Next page) It only looks dirty...until one reads the (very) fine print below."   The ordering information hasn't changed, though; just click on the cover on the page.
  • In my reading of The Daily Record (Dunn, NC), I came across an article about a girl from Angier - a town in Johnston County maybe 10 miles north of the farm - who complained about an act of censorship by the Walt Disney Company that attracted the attention of Fox News Channel, and also of self-professed language expert Ralph.  First, here's the article:

Angier Child Takes On Disney Over God
Of The Record Staff

An Angier girl found herself in the national spotlight this week after she says the Disney Channel discriminated against her because of her Christian faith.

Lilly Anderson, the 10-year-old daughter of Julie and Jeremy Anderson, was featured on the “Fox and Friends” program Tuesday morning after an encounter with the Disney Channel. Lilly responded to a question on the Disney website during the Thanksgiving holiday asking what she was thankful for.

She responded that she was thankful for “God, my family, my church and my friends.”

The only response Lilly got from the Disney site was an acceptance denial and the words “Please be nice!” which appeared in large red print when she attempted to submit her answer.

After consulting with her mother, Lilly realized that if the word God was left out of the answer it was immediately approved as a response.

Mrs. Anderson answered the question several times and each time God was mentioned the red lettered response appeared.

“We worked together and we were able to figure out that the word ‘God’ was the problem,” Mrs. Anderson said...

She does not understand Disney’s policies.

“My whole thing is if it is OK to be thankful for things, why does Disney think it is not OK to recognize where those things come from,” Mrs. Anderson said. “Lilly is smart enough to realize her things come from God, they do not come from Walmart.”

Mrs. Anderson was also not happy with the wording.

“It is a slap in the face to Christians when you refer to God ‘as not nice,’” Mrs. Anderson said. “It tells children it is wrong to share the love of God.”...

Disney released a statement on the issue saying the incident happened because of “filtering technology to prevent profanity from appearing on our websites. Unfortunately, because so many people attempt to abuse the system and use the word ‘God’ in conjunction with profanity, in an abundance of caution our system is forced to catch and prevent any use of the word on our websites.”

The statement then said the company “would have been happy to explain our filtering technology to the inquiring family had they contacted us.”

Ralph, the church pastor whose "it only looks dirty" T-shirt with alternate definitions of certain words and phrases also used in a sexual vein is pictured (I created the shirt on the CustomInk website, then brought it into Photoshop), would have weighed in with, "How Disney explained why Lily Anderson's thoughts could not be published is unfortunate.  It's sad that so many people take the name of God in vain, and that it has ended up offending a true family of faith."

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Another view of mother and son

It's been two weeks since I posted here, as I was merely waiting for the right opportunity to dive back in.

I dusted off my Photoshop CC program about a week ago.  I had hoped to chain the Barefoot Moms' Club quilting photograph (first one below) to one more closely resembling the original picture it came from (second one below).  Although the result - by way of "makeup" layers - gave them a more realistic look that the exaggerated effect of using their original pictures (Jennifer's look is especially cartoonish), it unfortunately does not address how different my characters are compared to those depicted originally.  So I had to abandon the work without saving it.

Then I thought back to my book, and one photo I wish was there.  Specifically, I would have removed the full-page photo of the person who was the basis of Belinda and put it in its place another that featured Brenda.  The only thing I could think of to do in just a few minutes' time - which I did early this morning - was to take a picture of her with her son and best friend, Buddy Wayne.  The setting is beautiful and the overall look is, well, barefoot innocence.

Backdrop: Steve Caplin, How to Cheat in Photoshop 6; female body picture: In Wonderland with Alice; male body picture: either Jethro or Homer (probably Homer), a bluegrass duo from a record, Barefoot Ballads, they made in the 1970s; female face, Kim Blitchington; male face, Bubba Britton.  Hue and saturation adjustments matched the faces with the bodies.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Start of new class schedule

ABC Adult School has started its second quarter of the 2014-15 school year, so that means new classes for me. 

I started line dancing classes on Monday and Wednesday afternoons; given the rural Southern nature of my characters, it's all the more appropriate.  The teacher is Jessie Shepherd, who despite her name is actually of Chinese heritage.  She is a versatile instructor, with a full week of classes that also includes Zumba, Pilates, and yoga.  Her complete schedule is part of a larger list you can access here.

I am continuing with ballroom dancing on Tuesday and Thursday with Linda Yao.

Also, I did minor revisions of One Family Together Forever and, while I was at it, used the option on to remind my Facebook and Twitter friends that my book is still for sale.  I have no sales yet, even after three months, but I am still optimistic!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Encore: Patricia Driscoll's time on BMN Superfan

In the wake of disturbing allegations of domestic violence against NASCAR driver Kurt Busch by former girlfriend Patricia Driscoll - and the investigation revealed on Friday - I once again post the episode on which she would have been eliminated, as originally posted in November 2013.  I called her "Pam" since I heard that was her first name.  - D.H.

A unique challenge begins this episode: The eight remaining cast members are divided evenly and play four-handed games of bunco, a dice game preferred by many older members of the Barefoot household.  The winners of each game will have an advantage in the next team challenge.  Deb [Holmes] defeats Casey [Atwood], Pam, and Bobbington [Brandt] in the first match, while Tim bests ButtaFly [Kimberly Wimberly], Adam [Brister], and Meredith [MacBills] in the second.  The opponents then become teammates for the main challenge, with the bunco winners becoming team captains.

The task for them is to make a pitch for a TV show that would fit on the BMN schedule.  Deb's idea is "Fast Times," about a race-car driver who uses the DNA of various stars of the past to gain an advantage.  Casey is the driver, Pam his wife, Deb the driver's publicist, and Bobbington a security guard.  Tim has a show concept called "Hayride Rescue," in which struggling farms and ranches are turned around based on historic themes.  Tim is the mastermind, Adam and Meredith the curators, and ButtaFly the publicist.  The winning team gets a five-minute program on the BMN website and a one-hour special on the main network.

The pitches are heard not only by regular judges Brandon McLamb and Brian Warner, but also by BMN advisor Steve Beverly.  Both pitches are looked at with a very critical eye.  Deb's team was praised for having a "cool retro idea that somehow, in a strange way, fits well with this network" (McLamb) but Warner and McLamb debated about whether the show would use too much modern technology.  "It may be too much of a shock to the system for some viewers," Warner argues.  As for "Hayride Rescue," McLamb and Beverly love the idea of celebrating rural culture through renovation, but Warner is opposed, saying there are simply too many shows on TV like that one.  Beverly has the last word: "Once you have a winning idea, you want to spread it to as many places as possible."

Beverly must have been very persuasive, as "Hayride Rescue" wins.  Then Shandi Finnessey announces a surprise: the second double-elimination of the season, which will leave only six competitors.  When Pam is told that she is the biggest target in the house, she replies that "only you can vote me out, and I have faith that you won't because I have played a great game so far."  McLamb responds that "I just don't have that faith anymore, not after the big risk you took.  Looking back, 'Fast Times' is not what BMN wants; it's just too modern.  We always look to the future by reviving our past.  Maybe the past is there on this show, but it's pretty hard to see.  Pam is the first contestant sent home; seconds later, Deb is eliminated for endorsing the concept and "letting Pam walk all over her."

At the end of the show, celebrations go on inside the room, and a cloth doll representing Pam is buried in one of the garbage carts.

Buddy Wayne, who was the show's executive producer and who would have known her from working on various projects to help military families, would have issued this statement: "Although the police investigation is still unfolding, it's apparent that either Kurt Busch committed a horrible crime of disrespect or Patricia Driscoll committed a blatant lie.  In any event, it is bad news and a major setback in the efforts to help the brave men and women who have served our country.  I pray for a swift and favorable resolution, healing on both sides, and for those affected by these alleged events through no fault of their own."

Saturday, November 1, 2014

What the Barefoot family sounds like

Last week, I teased the existence of this post, only to cancel it at the last minute when it was revealed that the doppleganger of the real-life teacher I used to portray Brenda's face, Kim Blitchington, was dating a child molester and as a result had her show kicked off TLC.  (By the way, June Shannon's oldest daughter, Anna Cardwell a/k/a Chickadee, has since admitted to having oral sex with Mark McDaniel; this was when Anna was just eight years old.)

Now it's time to further develop my characters by giving them voice characteristics.  As stated last week, this is done as a baseline in case my Gone Barefoot story ever reached film or TV; actors and actresses cast for the roles can fine-tune their own voices to match what I have in mind.  (Video clips are available for illustration if they are available.)

As always, I'll start with Buddy Wayne.  Since I made John "Bubba" Britton's face into his own, it's only fair that his voice would be based the same way.  I found a voice sample on this tape, which is a sizzle reel for an upcoming episode of Beg, Borrow & Deal, the sports/travel competition show ESPN aired twice.  Britton appeared and was part of the winning team in the first season, 2002.  (By the way, that season was the last time Rich Eisen would host a show on ESPN; he moved to NFL Network just months later.  Today, Eisen not only hosts pregame shows on Thursday nights and Sunday mornings on the channel, he also has launched a daily talk show on Audience Network and Root Sports.)  This is the video link.

Bobby Ray will have the voice of Bo Granthum, wife of Anna "Lil' Bit" Granthum.  They are the co-owners of Mountain Creek Mud Bog, featured on the Animal Planet series Mud Lovin' Rednecks; I have written before that the show is one of my guilty pleasures.  Anna provides the "voice" of Hambone because the high pitch in Anna's voice is a good match to 'Bone's personality.  MLR is also the source of Bunky's "voice," actually that of a friend and co-worker named Kyle.

I stumbled onto Bryson's voice on an episode of the TLC series Extreme Cheapskates.  That show features Jeni Cox, a woman from somewhere in the South who uses swimming pool to clean her clothes and uses bubble wrap as a pool filter.  One of Cox's three children, whose faces were blurred by the network to protect their identities, had a great Southern boy voice when he joked that the techniques were just like those of the 19th century.

For Belinda, the "voice" is that of Addison, a subject of a pageant makeover on an episode of the Lifetime series Kim of Queens.  Addison goes from a mud-loving redneck to a beauty pageant winner with the help of former Miss Georgia - and now a famous coach in pageant circles - Kim Gravel.  (No clips exist from the episode I'm describing, but Addison does turn up again a few times in season 2, for which video is available.)

Belinda's wife Jennifer sounds like a mixture of Michelle Duggar (19 Kids and Counting; many clips from that site) and one of the Duck Dynasty wives, Korie Robertson (again, many clips).  Annie would have the voice of Brenda Cantrell, also from Extreme Cheapskates; she's on the episode in which two penny-pinchers go on to have a wedding in a store that sells unclaimed baggage from various airlines.  (Yes, such a place does exist!)  As for Brenda, of course it isn't the now-disgraced June Shannon.  Instead, I would try to mix up "Miss Kay" Robertson from Duck Dynasty and Susan Boyle, former star of Britain's Got Talent.

Ralph shares the voice of Kelly Barefoot, owner of Custom Lures Unlimited, as seen on this episode of Carolina Outdoors Live, a web-only show.  Harvey's voice is the same as that of a young Bubby Brister, known as "Bubba" on this clip; Bubby would go on to play 15 seasons in the NFL and win two Super Bowl rings with the Denver Broncos backing up John Elway.  (Yes, he was part of the inspiration for the singer I contrived, named Bubba Brister; at first it was because I hated the "Bubby" nickname and wished he was a "Bubba."  The existence of a Bubba Brister Band which had Adam Brister as lead singer clinched it for me.)  Bubby Brister appears about six minutes in, his voice about a minute later.

Since Brandy is based on Amanda Barefoot, who is also a beauty queen and featured in a Wall Street Journal clip, you would think Amanda would also be her "voice."  Wrong!  That honor goes to the late Elizabeth "beththeamazing" Barefoot, killed in a car crash in 2012.  In this clip, her voice isn't heard until the very end, but I love the character and tone more than I did Amanda's, as I want to portray a bubbly side to Brandy's personality.  The video is linked here; Beth's voice isn't heard until near the very end, so play close attention.

Popeye's sound would combine the mature timbre of Tom Hatten, host of a children's series I remember watching as a kid on KTLA (ironically, he played a lot of Popeye the Sailor Man clips on that show) and the Dixie accent of Jeffrey Thomas, host of Carolina Outdoors Live.

I know that's a lot to absorb, but hopefully you get the picture.  And for whoever ends up in these roles on TV or in Hollywood, break a leg!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Brenda isn't dating a child molester! Honest.

When I did a brainstorm for this week's topic, I originally thought of further character developments.  Those who have seen my character bios (click on "2012," then "September," then the posts that begin with "Meet the Barefoot Family") know that I have given you an idea as to what they look like.  Originally, my plan for this blog posting was to introduce what some of them would sound like.  This would be useful in the event (one in a million chance, but still possible) of further adaptation of my stories for use in movies or on television.

However, something has happened in the last two days that I see is a pressing need to bring up right now.  It centers on Buddy Wayne's beloved mother, Brenda.

Years ago, I began collecting photographs of people who have certain last names.  Many were named Barefoot, but a few others were also included.  One of the other surnames is Blitchington, which is very rare and has family roots among the Savannah River, which forms most of the border between Georgia and South Carolina.  It intrigues me because it sounds like an odd cross between upper-class Southern plantation and lower-class redneck.

One of the pictures is that of Kim Blitchington, who as of the time I put it in my hard drive in 2011 was a teacher at the Montessori School in Columbus, OH.  Sometime in 2013, she left the school and I don't know what has happened to her since.  I felt that her modest face would be great to represent the down-on-her-luck but persistent mom that Brenda is, as well as someone who thought more of other people than herself.  As a reminder, here's what Kim/Brenda looks like:

One year after I assigned Blitchington's face to Brenda Barefoot - but just after the post that confirmed their shared identity - Here Comes Honey Boo Boo premiered on TLC, and I began watching that show for the first time.  Boo Boo - real name Alana Thompson - had debuted a year earlier on that network's Toddlers & Tiaras, in which contestants as young as four years old compete in so-called "glitz" beauty pageants.  That sounds creepy enough, but apparently Boo Boo was such a sensation on her segment that TLC gave her a spinoff show, which also featured her family.  Among those was her mother, June Shannon.  As you can guess at this point, Shannon bears more than a slight facial resemblance to Kim Blitchington - and would-be Brenda.  I watched their adventures in spite of myself, largely because I was drawn to the bucolic rural Georgia scenes that was the backdrop of the show.  Oh, and their thick Southern accents that the network felt required subtitles, like an entire foreign language.

The show had been on for three seasons and a fourth was wrapped up, awaiting an on-air schedule.  Then, it happened: TMZ struck again!  Hollywood's most infamous "gotcha" site - the one that brought down Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling and showed the Ray Rice elevator tapes - shared a picture of what it claimed to be Shannon in bed, literally, with a child molester.  TMZ added that the two are now dating each other.

Mark McDaniel, 53, was released just last month from a prison in Georgia after a 10-year sentence and is now a registered sex offender.  McDaniel had been convicted of trying to force oral sex on an 8-year-old who is related to Shannon, and who Shannon still has contact with.  You can see the picture and article here; however, it should be noted that both one of Boo Boo's sisters and McDaniel's brother think the photo was somehow manipulated.

Nonetheless, TLC took the story seriously enough to have the show canceled officially on Friday.  The statement reads in part, "TLC has canceled the series...and ended all activities around the series, effective immediately...Supporting the health and welfare of these remarkable children is our only priority. TLC is faithfully committed to the children's ongoing comfort and well-being." (Source: The Hollywood Reporter via Newser, a wire service of sorts that is linked to my ISP's home page.  Here is the Newser link.)

Clearly, it's a shame that the woman my character now resembles that has made an incredible lapse in judgment, one that has cost her, her youngest daughter, and the rest of her family a TV show they probably enjoyed very much doing.  However, my faith in Brenda - and the rest of "the 13" I lovingly made up and still maintain - has never been shaken.  I'm just glad that this "off-the-grid" family most certainly has no idea about this coincidence and hopefully will be ready to explain it away if someone from the outside world ever asks.

I promise you, I'll reveal the Barefoots' voices next time.