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.

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 is the NFL's survivor

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 finishing as runner-up in 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.