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.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Reviewing "Lil' Mama's" funeral

So I reported last week about the death of the author's maternal grandmother, Sallie Mae McMillon a/k/a "Lil' Mama."  Well, the funeral service (or as the evangelical black community insists on calling it, a "homegoing service") took place today here in southern California.  The sites were as follows:

Although the Barefoot family consists of fictional characters and McMillon was very real - when I passed her body, it hit me that I won't be able to see or speak to her again, at least in this life - I see some similarities and influences between them.

As mentioned in the introduction to my photo book, I built the self-sufficient country lifestyles of the Barefoots after visiting land the McMillon family once owned in Keatchie in DeSoto Parish, LA.  (The village is about 60 miles south of Shreveport in the northwest corner of the state.)  I remember having to climb over a barbed-wire fence to get there, which was very painful.  But when I was able to visit the land, it was all worth it.  The visit revealed a life that I longed for and did not realize it - one in which everyone can fulfill basic needs through hard work, dedication, and taking advantage of what they have.  As Phil Robertson, the "Duck Commander," wrote in Happy, Happy, Happy: "...Even when times were the hardest, I never heard my parents, brothers, or sisters utter the words, 'Boy, we're dirt poor.'"  By the way, chapter 1 of that book is a good description of the same lives the Barefoots would live if they existed, just as much as some of the blog entries I have written.  (To see those, click on "2012," then "September," then four posts near the top with that theme.)

Then there are these:
  • Alonzo "Popeye" Barefoot has 10 siblings, five brothers and five sisters; Sallie McMillon had 10 children, four sons and six daughters (and all but one daughter is still alive today).  
  • In real life, my brother Tommy was born in 1979, as is Buddy Wayne.
  • B.W. was born on March 14, the day between my own birthday on the 13th and my mother's on the 15th.  (I changed it from the original Apr. 7, which I picked, believe it or not, for a no-hitter thrown that day in Major League Baseball.  It was by Ken Forsch for the Houston Astros against the Atlanta Braves.)
  • Lil' Mama died exactly 358 days after my niece Havana was born.  In my world, B.W.'s daughter Blanton Elizabeth (Lizzie) is just a year old.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Deb Holmes wins another one of my contests

The Philadelphia Eagles' primary color is green, also associated in Western culture with luck.  Somehow, it's all fitting for Deb Holmes.

A little more than a year after winning season 2 of BMN Superfan, Holmes is the winner of the contest called Super Bowl Scramble: The Road to ArizonaSBS was a survivor pool contest based on the results of actual NFL games.  As explained a few posts ago, I assigned B.W. himself and 31 other people with varying associations with him to every team in the league; as long as those teams kept winning, they were still in the running, but if their team lost, they were also gone.

Week 4 brought a twist of the remaining players having to switch teams due to open dates for some teams that were still undefeated.  Two of those left won with their new teams, while the others did not.

Those two remaining contestants - Holmes (Eagles) and chiropractor Billie Barefoot (Cardinals) - were given their old teams back last Sunday.  The Eagles defeated the Rams, 24-13, and then hours later the Cards fell to the Broncos, 41-20.  Those results gave Holmes the grand prize, a package from NFL On Location that includes:
  • Four tickets to Super Bowl XLIX in Glendale, AZ, on Feb. 1, 2015
  • Hotel accommodations for the three nights before the game
  • Tickets to the National Football League Honors at the Dodge Theater in Phoenix on Jan. 31; also, Holmes will help present one of the awards
  • Four tickets to NFL Experience or another public event related to the game (I would like for them to go to the league's theme park, but it was not held before the last game and I don't know if it will return for the next one)
  • A series of appearances on radio and TV shows at the Super Bowl Media Center on Jan. 30
  • A copy of the official Taste of the NFL cookbook (held at the same time as Honors, the food-sampling event raises money for food banks and other related organizations)
  • Special edition merchandise from the league
The total estimated value is over $3,500.

For the record, here's the complete list of eliminations:
  • Wayne VandenLangenberg - eliminated Sep. 4 (Packers lost, 16-36, to Seahawks)
  • Shandi Finnessey - eliminated Sep. 7 (Rams lost, 6-34, to Vikings)
  • Alonzo "Popeye" Barefoot - eliminated Sep. 7 (Redskins lost, 6-14, to Texans)
  • Bobbington Brandt - eliminated Sep. 7 (Raiders lost, 14-19, to Jets)
  • Harvey Barefoot - eliminated Sep. 7 (Chiefs lost, 10-26, to Titans)
  • Brooke Liptrap - eliminated Sep. 7 (Ravens lost, 15-21, to Bengals)
  • Barbie Blank - eliminated Sep. 7 (Jaguars lost, 17-34, to Eagles)
  • Dylan Bryan-Brown - eliminated Sep. 7 (Patriots lost, 23-33, to Dolphins)
  • Bunky Barefoot - eliminated Sep. 7 (Bears lost, 20-23, to Bills in overtime)
  • Rob Ritchie - eliminated Sep. 7 (Browns lost, 27-30, to Steelers)
  • Krista Bamburg - eliminated Sep. 7 (Saints lost, 34-37, to Falcons in overtime)
  • Hylton Tripp - eliminated Sep. 7 (Buccaneers lost, 6-20, to Panthers)
  • Billy Bob Ribble - eliminated Sep. 7 (Cowboys lost, 13-28, to 49ers)
  • Beanblossom twins - eliminated Sep. 7 (Colts lost, 24-31, to Broncos)
  • Melanie MacMelville - eliminated Sep. 8 (Giants lost, 14-35, to Lions)
  • Blinky Blink - eliminated Sep. 8 (Chargers lost, 17-18, to Cardinals)
  • Josh LoMonico - eliminated Sep. 11 (Steelers lost, 6-26, to Ravens)
  • Bubba Brister - eliminated Sep. 14 (Titans lost, 10-26, to Cowboys)
  • Luke Muellerleile - eliminated Sep. 14 (Vikings lost, 7-30, to Patriots)
  • Brittany Ramos - eliminated Sep. 14 (Dolphins lost, 10-29, to Bills)
  • Ralph Barefoot - eliminated Sep. 14 (Lions lost, 7-24, to Panthers)
  • Lyman Bowling, Jr. - eliminated Sep. 14 (Falcons lost, 10-24, to Bengals)
  • Brian Warner - eliminated Sep. 14 (Seahawks lost, 21-30, to Chargers)
  • Beth Barefoot - eliminated Sep. 14 (Jets lost, 24-31, to Packers)
  • MacMoose brothers -eliminated Sep. 14 (49ers lost, 20-28, to Bears)
  • Brandon McLamb - eliminated Sep. 21 (Bills lost, 10-22, to Chargers)
  • LaBundrick "Bam Bam" Plumpkin - eliminated Sep. 21 (Texans lost, 10-31, to Giants)
  • Buddy Wayne Barefoot - eliminated Sep. 21 (Broncos lost, 20-26, to Seahawks in overtime)
  • Bobby Ray Barefoot - eliminated Sep. 21 (Panthers lost, 19-37, to Steelers)
  • Brittany Raylene - eliminated Sep. 28 (Saints lost, 14-31, to Cowboys after being switched from Bengals)
  • Billie Barefoot - eliminated Oct. 5 (Cardinals lost, 20-41, to Broncos after win with Chargers the prior week)
  • Deb Holmes - winner (Eagles won three times, then Chiefs won, then Eagles won again)

Farewell, "Lil' Mama" "Egg Pie"

A lot of things happened early this week, in both my worlds.

Here, I would like to acknowledge the death of my maternal grandmother, Sallie Mae Pipkins McMillon.  She was known by both the nicknames you see in the title, though "Lil' Mama" was by far the most commonly used.  She died on Monday at a hospice in Lynwood, CA - the same city at which I was born - after a period of declining health; she was 104 years old.

All of us in the extended and immediate families are grateful for all the years she lived and all the lives she touched.  We will miss her everyday.

Below is a photograph submitted by one of my cousins, Felicia L. Young.  Taken sometime in the last year, McMillon is shown holding a great-great-grandson, Britin (last name not available).

Funeral arrangements have still not been completed.


Sunday, October 5, 2014

NFL survivor league could end today

Play in week 4 of the National Football League season reduced the field in the battle for the all-expense-paid trip to Super Bowl XLIX by one.

Brittany Raylene was the only one whose "new" team lost, as the Saints lost, 21-38, to the Cowboys.  Billie Barefoot switched to the Chargers, who beat the Jaguars; and Deb Holmes switched to the Chiefs, which routed the Patriots.

As a result, modified sudden death rules now apply.  In other words, to win the prize, one of the teams must win and the other team must lose in the same weekend; otherwise, the competition continues.  Billie and Deb get their old teams back today, as the Cardinals (Billie) take on the Broncos in Denver and the Eagles (Deb) host the Rams in Philadelphia.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Pitches and another wedding photo

Today, I began to publicize my new picture book in earnest.

This morning, I went to Brady Poirier's Photoshop class at ABC Adult School for the first time since the spring of 2013.  I had a presentation of about 15 minutes in which I summarized the book and tied it to what I learned in Photoshop.  As in the introduction to the book, I explained the reason I signed up for the class was to use the program to bring the characters I created to life.

Coming in, my biggest concern was how the students would react to the cover price of $54.95, of which I will get $1.60 per copy sold as a royalty.  When I went to my current location at Cabrillo Lane and asked an office worker who I thought might be interested in the book, the worker told me that she had no discretionary income to pay for it, in part because the office was closed in the entire month of August and she was not paid as a result.  Thankfully, no one raised a public objection to the price, and I hope this is a good sign for what's to come, as well as the fact that everyone seemed to enjoy the presentation.  (I didn't explain it to them, but they can also look at a free sample download before they commit to buying it; that's available on the sales site at Lulu.)

Up next, I tried to get the local libraries in my area - George Nye and Iacoboni - to post flyers with sales information.  However, I was told that Los Angeles County policy prohibits book sales for personal gain on their property.  I was bitterly disappointed to hear that, because library patrons would make great customers for obvious reasons.  But there is a Friends of Lakewood Libraries program at Iacoboni which sells books and magazines to help pay the expenses the county won't, and I will contact it to see if it will work with me somehow.

This weekend, I will post at The Way Christian Fellowship in Lakewood, the church I attend, and then on Tuesday I will present a conference call to an online forum about sports and sports media for which I have been involved for years.

I will end the post with a "followup" to one of the pictures on page 13.  That shows B.W. and Brittany's first wedding photo.  However, as I have written before, that marriage was not what they wanted since it had to be so hastily arranged.  What I have below is their re-commitment ceremony, which I set last year, or three years into their marriage.  It was a real ceremony in North Carolina, with Ralph being the officiant and a full reception afterwards in which the traditional first dance was replaced by their duet "When the Bough Breaks," which was inspired by their relationship.  (I've made up the title and hope someday to write lyrics, though that's not guaranteed.)  The wedding photo is the cover of the 2014 bridal guide in The Daily Record (Dunn, NC), the bridge is from Raven Rock State Park from the same newspaper, the water comes from a lake put into the teacher files by Brady Poirier, and the font for the wedding announcement is Monterey BT, which is a great cursive font.  To create the "different strokes," I had to duplicate three rasterized layers with the same type and erase unwanted strokes from each of them.


NFL "survivor" league, part 4

This is part one of my blog "doubleheader" for the week.  It is a continuation of the 32-person contest among my favorite people, real and imagined, in a made-up contest for a VIP trip to Super Bowl XLIX in Glendale, Arizona, courtesy of NFL On Location.

After the games of the third week, the field is down to three contestants, all of whom have been given a twist worthy of reality television.  Here's the explanation: At the start of the season, contestants were assigned a team to follow for the entire season and they advanced if those teams continued to win.  It has worked well to this point, but now the open dates begin (and will continue right until Thanksgiving).  Two of the three remaining "survivors" - Brittany Raylene (Bengals) and Billie Barefoot (Cardinals) - have teams that are not playing this week.  To ensure competitive integrity, they will be asked to continue play with another team that has been eliminated.  And to be completely fair, Deb Holmes (Eagles) also must change teams.

So what new teams did they choose?  Each arrived with new teams in three very different ways:
  • Holmes chose the Chiefs because current head coach Andy Reid was the Eagles' head coach from 1998 to 2012.  Reid has more victories than any other coach in Eagles' history and has one of their two Super Bowl appearances.  The Chiefs will host the Patriots this coming Monday night.
  • Brittany originally wanted the Broncos (husband's team), but the Broncos have a bye too.  In desperation, she turned to Facebook and held an option among her friends.  They were asked to pick among the 25 other available teams and bid for Brittany's use of that team with the highest bidder winning.  Krista Bamburg Ribble won with a bid of $35,000; she selected the Saints, which was her team at the start of the contest.  So that will be Brittany's team this week as they travel to Arlington, TX to take on the Cowboys. (Ironically, Britney Spears, the fallen pop star who caused me to create the Brittany Raylene [Spears] character in response, grew up in Kentwood, LA, about a hour's drive from the Saints' home field in New Orleans.)
  • After a brief flirtation with the Cowboys (he went to graduate school in Dallas), Billie the chiropractor decided to go with the Chargers.  Why?  He had narrowed his choices down to the three teams the Cards have beaten this season - Chargers, Giants, and 49ers in that order.  For advice, he then called a talk show and spoke to co-host Ron Wolfley, who also analyzes Cards games on the radio.  Wolfley wanted Billie to pick San Diego since Wolfley thought that was the best chance to win among the three.  Billie accepted, so now he will root for the Chargers this coming Sunday in their home game against the Jaguars.
There are plenty of scenarios this weekend.  Consider those involving Holmes:
  • If the Chiefs win, Holmes is guaranteed no worse than advancing to week 5.  With both Chargers and Saints losses, Holmes is off to Arizona.  If one of them also wins but not the other, Holmes and the other winner move on for one more week; they would then have to choose between their old teams and their new ones.
  • If the Chiefs lose, Holmes is out unless both other teams lose; in that case, the contest resets and continues into week 5, and all three players get their old teams back.  If only one of the Chargers and Saints win as well, Billie or Brittany are Arizona-bound.  With both wins and a Chiefs loss, Billie and Brittany continue in the game with the same option as above.
Finally, here are the latest eliminations, all on Sep. 21:
  • Brandon McLamb (Bills lost, 10-22, to Chargers)
  • Bam Bam (Texans lost, 10-31, to Giants)
  • Buddy Wayne (Broncos lost, 20-26, to Seahawks in overtime)
  • Bobby Ray (Panthers lost, 19-37, to Steelers)