Grammys

I know next to nothing about music. My radios are all tuned to NPR stations and my CD/iPod collections lean heavily on the classics — as in Fleetwood Mac and the Beatles. That’s why I rely on the annual Grammy Awards to cue me in on what’s hot and what’s not. Luckily, 23-year-old Younger Daughter watched along with me on Sunday night and we made a great team: She explained what the Blackeyed Peas were singing about and I told her who Alice Cooper and Stevie Nicks are. But what a show!  I was moved to tears, moved to laughter and then at times simply moved to leave the room until my ears (and eyes) stopped bleeding. Here are some highlights, and if you want more go to http://www.ew.com/ew for complete coverage:

As somebody tweeted on Sunday night during the broadcast, “Where’s Kanye when you need him?” Even folks as musically challenged as I am could tell that teen-country-diva Taylor Swift mangled her live performance, but apparently that’s normal for her. And I wasn’t sure if I should be proud of Stevie Nicks for going along or embarrassed for her part in the debacle. It’s so hard to tell with Living Legends! And truthfully I do not understand how Swift has slipped into super-star status. I mean, she’s cute and perky and nice — is that all you need nowadays?

I loved Pink’s rock-‘n’-roll-meets-haute-couture red-carpet gown, which contrasted directly with her performance ensemble of a white sheet covering criss-crossed white bandages. And were the folks sitting below her high-rise swing act issued umbrellas and ponchos?

Multi-winner Beyonce was strong, confident and powerful in her performance. But what’s with the headache-inducing hair tossing and the weird techno-military backup dancers? I mean, when do gimmicks for gimmicks’ sake cross the line from entertaining to annoying? Or maybe being annoying is part of the entertainment. Now my head aches.

If you listen to Lady Gaga’s music, you do not picture a drag queen-like constellation-wearing pale skinny girl. I say congrats to anyone who can work their way up, create an instantly recognizable image and construct such an enormous fan base as she has. If you’re a friend of Elton John, that’s good enough for me.

All I have to say about Lil Wayne, Eminem and the other hip-hop/rappers is, “Could you please pull your pants up? Thank you.”

But I’m not all you-damn-kids-get-outta-my-yard old-lady-grumpy here. I loved the performances by Dave Matthews Band, Zac Brown Band, Slash and Green Day. And the Andrea Bocelli and Mary J. Blige duet was so lovely. Now, that’s music.

Magazines

I love food. I love magazines. And food magazines? Cannot resist. That’s why I’m still mourning the loss of Conde Nast’s Gourmet. But there are a bunch of other magazines that entice with gorgeous photos, informative articles and innovative recipes. But how to know which ones are worth your hard-earned dollars? Chicago Tribune food writer Judy Hevrdejs has written a fun and helpful story comparing seven of the top-selling food magazines. She looks at such variables as average number of recipes per issue, usability, typical reader and her gut reaction. Your local paper might have printed it. If not, read it online at http://www.twincities.com/food/ci_14229780?source=rss. My favorites are Cook’s for intriguing reads, Food & Wine for inspiration and Everyday Food for how-to guides.

And while you’re online, stop by the TimesDaily Web site and read my column at http://www.timesdaily.com/article/20100129/ARTICLES/1295001. This week I wrote about an experience I had this past week, while Younger Daughter and I were babysitting 22-month-old grandson and nephew Capt. Adorable.  The Captain was overdosing on TV and the results were not pretty. I had two choices: 1) Fall back on my old parenting habits and be too lenient and indulgent or 2) employ the good parenting techniques I’d seen Older Daughter — the Captain’s mom — put into play. Read and find out what happened.

Golden Globes

One of the best things about blogging — and, c’mon, everybody should try it!  — is that you get to comment on just about anything. So, because much of the blogosphere is abuzz this morning with Golden Globes chatter, I’m going to add my .02. Mainly I’m just excited because this year I’ve seen or at least know about most of the various award-show nominees — makes the shows much more fun when I actually recognize who these folks are. So here are my best/worst of the Golden Globes. See if you agree.

In the “This Isn’t High School, People!” category, were actresses such as Sandra Bullock, Jennifer Garner and Toni Collette confused about where they were? I loved Bullock in Blind Side and think she’s great, but her shiny and sheer purple gown looked like it belonged on a 17-year-old who just got named prom queen (except for the sheer part, that is). And I’ve seen Garner’s and Collete’s shiny and sparkly choices on more pageant stages than I can count. Woman up, ladies, and be grownups.

In the “Why Do Their Stylists Hate Them?” category, Kate Hudson’s weird white gown looked like a reject from an origami class, with edges sharp enough to do some serious damage and a crumb-catcher neckline so big she probably couldn’t see anything below her chin. Cameron Diaz’s red satin looked like a backwards vintage nightgown, and I’m not really sure who Zoe Saldana is but she should have cut about half the ruffles off her overwhelmingly embellished, beribboned and ruched dress.

In the ever popular “Why, Oh Why?” category, I’m putting Mad Men’s January Jones for her severe and, let’s face it, ugly black dress-and-headband combo; quirky Chloe Sevigny for her big ruffled mess that somebody must have paid her escort to rip when she went onstage; and oh-so-cute Ginnifer Goodwin for her ill-fitting and chest-flattening draped blue cocktail dress.

In the “Cheap-Looking Shiny Upholstery Fabric Can Be Used in Dresses, Too!” category, put Patricia Arquette and Rita Wilson. I’m giving a prize to the person who comes up with the matching bedspreads.

In the “Right Dress but Wrong Place/Time” category, I’m nominating Julia Roberts for her super-cool and sleek knee-length black dress with hippie-chic statement necklace (too casual); Glee cast member Lea Michele for her gorgeously black full-skirted ballgown (too formal); and adorable Anna Kendrick for her elegant white and silvery one-shoulder choice (too old and too much).

And in the “Perfect!” category, I’m putting nominees who went with sophistication and restrained elegance, such as Gabourey Sidibe, Courtney Cox, Jennifer Anniston and Fergie. I loved Emily Blunt’s soft and tattered layers, Glee’s Jayma Mays’ black and white spider-web effect and Jane Lynch (who said she was at her first awards show ever) for the green halter dress that was totally her.

And in non-fashion highlights — I guess there were these award things handed out? — I loved Paul McCartney’s explanation of why adults like animation, (most of) host Ricky Gervais’s patter, Robert Downey Jr. “speechless” honesty and the class acts of Meryl Streep, Monique and Jeff Bridges.

Next up, the Screen Actors Guild awards on Jan. 23. Then the Grammys on Jan. 31 and the Oscars in March. The Emmys? In August. (I had to look that up.)

Alabama

It’s almost like the whole state of Alabama has shut down today, due to 1) snow and 2) the University of Alabama playing for the national college-football championship tonight. So far, at least in my northwest corner of the state, the snow is not impressing and doesn’t seem to warrant all the school-closings and grocery-store frenzies that went on yesterday. Here’s hoping that Alabama’s football showing tonight is better. Now, normally I am not an Alabama fan — you know it’s a rule here that you have to choose between Alabama and Auburn and I’ve just sort of gravitated toward Auburn as the usual underdog (plus I like the campus better because it’s prettier and smaller) — but tonight I feel as if the honor of SEC football is at stake in front of the whole country and Alabama Must Win. Younger Daughter, on the other hand, is bitterly anti-Alabama and already has declared that we’re a house divided tonight if I’m going to jump ship like this. And it does pain me, it really does — but it’s vital we in the SEC show everyone that we deserve to be represented in the national championship, at least by one team if we can’t have both. So — and you won’t often hear me say this — “Roll, Tide!” Tonight we’ll all be like 21-month-old grandson Capt. Adorable — lounging in our easy chairs with eyes glued to the screens and snacks nearby.

Music

Steve Martin CDMy new favorite CD is “The Crow: New Songs for the Five-String Banjo” by Steve Martin. Yes — that Steve Martin. We all remember him strumming on the banjo as part of his stand-up comedy act, but turns out he’s a serious and seriously talented banjo composer and player. On the surface, the tracks here — Martin wrote 14 of the 15 — are foot-stompin’ bluegrass at its best. Even our 16-month-old grandson, Capt. Adorable, dances along when the strummin’ and the fiddlin’ start! But “The Crow” is so much more than a banjo homage —  it’s a celebration of life and love and friends and family. Martin’s songs tap into such authentic emotion that you’ll wonder how the “wild and crazy guy” from Saturday Night Live could write such a sweet song as “Pretty Flowers” or such a heart-pulling melody as “Words Unspoken.” I’m telling you, you’ve got to buy this CD. And I’m talking the real actual CD here. Oh, sure, you could be all cool and modern and download it for your laptop or MP3 player, but then you’d miss out on the delightful CD book that explains the background for each song and honors Martin’s friends — such as music greats Dolly Parton, Earl Scruggs and Vince Gill — who help out on the album. “The Crow” is a must-have winner. Go listen. Now.

Fashion

Scarlett O'HaraWhat do Stevie Nicks, Scarlett O’Hara and Della Street have in Stevie Nickscommon? Besides being awesomely fabulous females, of course. Give up? They were my fashion icons when I was growing up — well, Scarlett’s Southern Victorian diva and Della’s sexy smart secretary were, and then Stevie’s flowy boho hippie came along when I was old enough to make my own style mistakes buy my own clothes. Today, I’d like to think I’m sort of a combination of all three, with some Michelle Obama thrown in. Farrah Fawcett hair(But maybe I’m flattering myself — that’s what I’d like to look like, at least!) I wrote more about how TV, movies and music influence what we wear in my quarterly fashion column for the TimesDaily’s Shoals Woman magazine, in Florence, Alabama, at http://www.timesdaily.com/article/20090624/SW/906239986/1085. On a day when two fashion inspirations have left us — Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson — I’m thinking about how much influence entertainers have over the way we want to see ourselves. And remembering one gold-star day in college when my wings turned out perfectly — my hair has never looked as good as it did that day more than 30 years ago when Farrah gazed back at me from the tiny dorm-room mirror. Sigh.

TV

Kate Gosselin Dear Kate Gosselin,

Listen, girlfriend, I know we cannot get enough of you lately, but, seriously, you are taking up way too prime celebrity space and I would like you to stop it. Please? Like, immediately? I cannot pick up any gossip magazine without you being on it and frankly it’s starting to bug me. I mean, I’m spending good money because I want to read about Jennifer’s attempts to get Brad back or Angelina’s attempts to get Brad back or how Elizabeth Banks really is not very nice or how Sandra Bullock really is. I don’t want to read about you. And let’s be clear: I’m not being critical of you. In fact, I’m sort of envious. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be a famous multi-millionaire with nannies, bodyguards and Emeril  as a personal chef? Sign me up, and I’ll take the hair stylist, personal trainer and free tummy tuck, too. I do not begrudge you fame and fortune. I say good for you. It shows initiative and determination on your part and really, if I’d known having eight children was a key to success I’d have rethought stopping at two. The thing is, however, you are not a celebrity. You are just a regular person who yells at her husband and yells at her kids and makes bad choices. You are, sad to say, just like us. We don’t want our celebrities to be just like us. Oh, it’s true we want our celebrities to pretend they’re just like us. We want to see them buying toliet paper at Costco and slurping down frapps at Starbucks and playing with their kids at the park, but we know and they know and they know we know that they aren’t like us at all. You, however, are just like us but you don’t know it. You are — and I say this with all due respect — sort of boring. We don’t care about your free trips and your free vacations and the TV “stars” who keep popping up in your driveway to install solar panels or take you on motorcycle rides. It’s just … oh, I don’t know … uninteresting. And this whole marriage breakup thing? Please! I can get five women together at a moment’s notice who have marriage-breakup stories that would curl … uh, straighten … your hair. I’m sorry you have problems, but put your big-girl panties on and deal with it. In private, please. I look forward to the day when — just like the rest of us — the only connection you have to gossip magazines is picking one up at the grocery and reading it in the express lane while the person in front of you has 37 items and doesn’t know how to use the debit-card machine. Thank you.

Survivor

Jeff ProbstI mean, if somebody really needs me tonight between 7 and 10, I’d probably maybe possibly pick up the phone. Perhaps. And if the house catches fire, I’d consider at least making sure the cats get out OK. But otherwise, you cannot pry me away from the TV because it is Survivor Finale Night and we get three hours of Jeff Probst and backstabbing, lies, blindsides, tears and Jeff Probst. And this season we even got a Dragon-Slayer/Coach who entertained us with stories of escaping little Amazonian cannibals while on a solo kayak trip yet never once demonstrated fire-making ability. Interesting. We also had two Alabama folks — one of whom, young cattle rancher J.T., is still in it right now and if my younger daughter did not already have a perfectly nice boyfriend I would so get them together. The other Alabamian, Debbie, a middle-school principal from Auburn, is on the jury. There’s also Taj, from Nashville, Tennessee, a former pop star whose husband is former NFL player Eddie George and who is also one of the four finalists. So I feel well represented tonight. The other finalists are Stephen, J.T.’s silent partner in crime, and Erinn, who has no chance whatsoever of winning the million dollars. But I’ve been wrong before, so we’ll see. The sad part is that this means “Survivor” is over for the season, but we get at least two more seasons. And that also means that one of my other favorite reality-competition shows, “So You Think You Can Dance,” will start soon. I’ve never gotten into “Dancing with the Stars” — I really don’t care if Lil’ Kim can do a tango or not — but SYTYCD has talented young dancers who just want a chance to prove themselves and some of the edgiest and most creative choreography you can see on TV.  And I can watch SYTYCD in the summer secure in the knowledge that Jeff Probst is out in a wilderness somewhere, keeping the “Survivor” torches glowing until it’s time for fall and season No. 19.

Books, Movies and TV

Lisa Kudrow in The ComebackHere are two intelligent and talented women I’ve been spending Home by Julie Andrewssome time with this week (other than female friends and family members, of course!): Lisa Kudrow and Julie Andrews.  I scored this DVD of Kudrow’s late and great HBO series “The Comeback” at the TJ Maxx checkout counter for $5. I loved this show and so did most critics. It was sharp and subtle, poignant and witty. Kudrow stars a former TV star who’s the subject of a reality show filmed as she makes a hoped-for comeback in a standardly trite sitcom. It’s a treasure that’s even worth the $30 price the DVD normally retails for. And then there’s “Home, A Memoir of My Early Years” by Julie Andrews. Who among us who grew up with “Mary Poppins” and “The Sound of Music” does not love Julie Andrews? I always thought of her as elegant upper-crust British nobility. Surprise! She is none of those things — she actually came from a dysfunctional alcoholic/philandering family and got her start in the dying days of pre- and post-World War II vaudeville. Her autobiography has gotten well-deserved rave reviews. It’s a spare yet richly-layered look at a childhood that will horrify modern parents and leave you amazed and inspired by Andrews’ tenacity.

Note: I got this book because my mom gave me an autographed copy. Autographed by Julie Andrews herself! My mother is like Mrs. Super School Board (actually — chairwoman of her local school board) and attended the National School Board Association meeting in San Diego a couple weeks ago. Julie Andrews was one of the speakers and autographed books — two each — for 150 people. My mom stood in line for over an hour with her books but was thrilled to meet Miss Andrews, who was so nice and pleasant, my mom said, and complimented my mother on her jacket. A definite class act. Both of them.

Basketball

Getting ready to watch the NCAA men’s basketball championship game tonight? Read my husband’s column in the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal today, “Wild Times in SEC Hoops” at http://nems360.com/pages/news_sports, so that during commercial breaks and timeouts you can intelligently discuss 1) the state of Southeastern Confernce basketball, 2) why “strength of schedule” is important and 3) what Kentucky’s new hire means for next season. Or you can get up to get more beer. Your choice.