Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Halloween Question . . .

     . . . if you looked like this:

     Would you choose this for your Halloween costume?

     Heidi Klum has gone to costume extremes before, but this may be her most bizarre choice. Lady Gaga's meat dress rivals it, though she was not attending a Halloween party when she donned it. Maybe it's just me, but when I look at a human body, I don't want to think "meat".

     Of course, Miss Klum/Mrs.Seal has made it known that she loves October 31st and all its fun dress-up possibilities for eons. Here are two of her more reasonable outfits:

The Hindu Goddess Kali

The Serpent and The Apple

     I think Heidi is at her best when a sense of fun is involved.

     Maybe it will re-emerge in 2012.

     Other celebrities seem more rational when it comes to Halloween.

     Nicole Richie chose to dress as J Lo this year. She's the one on the left.

Alyson Hannigan and family as Babes in Toyland

Brooke Burke as Catwoman

Gwen Stefani as a princess

Katie Couric as Donald Trump

Kim Kardashian as Poison Ivy

Lisa Rinna as Lucille Ball

Mariah Carey as a mermaid

Snoop Dogg as [a stoned-looking] Count from Sesame Street

     And, okay . . . maybe this is perfectly rational for Snooki. She was The Pickle Queen last year.

      Whether you are attending a party as my amazing friends Melinda and Dave did . . . 

Beth and Dog Bounty Hunter

     . . . or sitting at home handing out treats, I hope your Halloween is a very happy one.

Love from Delta.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Slim Pickings

My home state is in trouble again. We are running out of people to pick our crops and tackle difficult construction work. We have adopted a stance against illegal immigration that seems to be irritating the more liberal folks out there.

Alabama drew a hard line in the red clay (one that I heartily applaud, by the way), and is getting kicked around for it. This is why:


Section 1. 
This act shall be known and may be cited as the Beason-Hammon Alabama Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act.

Section 2. 
The State of Alabama finds that illegal immigration is causing economic hardship and lawlessness in this state and that illegal immigration is encouraged when public agencies within this state provide public benefits without verifying immigration status. Because the costs incurred by school districts for the public elementary and secondary education of children who are aliens not lawfully present in the United States can adversely affect the availability of public education resources to students who are United States citizens or are aliens lawfully present in the United States, the State of Alabama determines that there is a compelling need for the State Board of Education to accurately measure and assess the population of students who are aliens not lawfully present in the United States, in order to forecast and plan for any impact that the presence such population may have on publicly funded education in this state. The State of Alabama further finds that certain practices currently allowed in this state impede and obstruct the enforcement of federal immigration law, undermine the security of our borders, and impermissibly restrict the privileges and immunities of the citizens of Alabama. Therefore, the people of the State of Alabama declare that it is a compelling public interest to discourage illegal immigration by requiring all agencies within this state to fully cooperate with federal immigration authorities in the enforcement of federal immigration laws. The State of Alabama also finds that other measures are necessary to ensure the integrity of various governmental programs and services.

Sounds reasonable to me.

There has been a curious backlash. People who are living here perfectly legally are packing their things up and relocating, claiming that they no longer feel welcome. I find this absurd.

Crops are withering on the vine, and no one is around to do the messy stuff. One Alabama farmer said, "I've had people calling me wanting to work. I haven't turned any of them down, but they're not any good. It's hard work, they just don't work like the Hispanics with experience."

Hmmm. Does this mean that every state requiring documentation of the legal status of its citizens will suffer economically? Are we being held hostage by Mexican workers? Are Americans just too darn lazy? Is the current system the modern-day equivalent of slavery? Will there be a revolt? Will the last Hispanic departing the State of Alabama please leave the American flag in place?

My opinions on this issue veer far off the politically correct path. I don't want to press 1 for English. I don't want to wait with a loved one in an emergency room, insurance card in hand, while people who have no legal residence here are treated first. For free. With my tax dollars.

If illegal workers are this vital to our economy, it is time for some new ways of doing business; some thinking out of the tomato box.

I challenge other states to follow Alabama's lead. It is the first step toward reason.

For those who want the full text of HB56:

Relating to illegal immigration; to define terms; to require the Attorney General to attempt to negotiate a Memorandum of Agreement under certain conditions; to require a person to present proof of citizenship and residency before voting; to preclude any state or local government or official from refusing to assist the federal government in the enforcement of federal immigration laws; to prohibit an alien unlawfully present in the United States from receiving any state or local public benefits; to prohibit a person not lawfully present from being eligible on the basis of residence for education benefits; to require business entities or employers seeking economic incentives to verify the employment eligibility of their employees and to provide penalties; to require an illegal alien to possess certain documents already required by federal law and to provide penalties; to prohibit an unauthorized alien from seeking employment in this state and to provide penalties; to require the verification of the legal status of persons by law enforcement officers under certain circumstances; to criminalize certain behavior relating to concealing, harboring, shielding, or attempting to conceal, harbor, or shield unauthorized aliens and to provide penalties; to create the crime of dealing in false identification documents and the crime of vital records identity fraud and to provide penalties; to prohibit a business entity, employer, or public employer from knowingly employing an unauthorized alien and to provide penalties; to prohibit certain deductible business expenses; to make it a discriminatory practice for a business entity or employer to fail to hire a legally present job applicant or discharge an employee while retaining an employee who is an unauthorized alien under certain conditions; to require the verification of legal status of every alien charged with a crime for which bail is required; to amend Section 32-6-9 of the Code of Alabama 1975, relating to driver’s licenses; to require law enforcement to detain any alien whose lawful immigration status cannot be verified under certain conditions; to require notification of the United States Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Alabama Department of Homeland Security when an unlawfully present alien is convicted of state law; to provide for a stay of the provisions of this act when an alien unlawfully present is a victim or critical witness of a crime under certain conditions; to authorize the Alabama Department of Homeland Security to hire state police officers and give the department enforcement power under certain conditions; to provide penalties for solicitation, attempt, or conspiracy to violate this act; to require the Alabama Department of Homeland Security to file a quarterly report with the Legislature under certain conditions; to require the Alabama Department of Homeland Security to establish and maintain an E-Verify employer agent service under certain conditions; to prohibit the enforcement of certain contracts under certain conditions; to require public schools to determine the citizenship and immigration status of students enrolling; to require school districts to compile certain data and submit reports to the State Board of Education; to require the State Board of Education to submit an annual report to the Legislature; to further provide for eligibility and requirements for voter registration; to establish a state election board; to provide duties of the board; to provide that a person may obtain a certified copy of a birth certificate from the Department of Public Health free of charge under certain conditions; to prohibit an alien not lawfully present from entering into a business transaction under certain conditions and provide penalties; to prohibit a landlord from knowingly entering into a rental agreement to harbor an illegal alien and provide penalties; and in connection therewith would have as its purpose or effect the requirement of a new or increased expenditure of local funds within the meaning of Amendment 621 of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, now appearing as Section 111.05 of the Official Recompilation of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, as amended.

What do you think?

Love from Delta.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

How Patriotic Is Your Favorite Restaurant? Do You Care?


     Enough, already. I am a wee bit embarrassed that the town next to my hometown in Alabama . . . Oxford . . . is making national news over a flag fracas. The little suburb of Anniston (that is going to get me into big trouble) has a lovely Olive Garden restaurant. My husband and I frequent it, and are always happy with the food, atmosphere and service. It's a typical Darden restaurant, run with efficiency and respect for its patrons. 

     It is currently under attack along with all other Olive Gardens for this appalling reason (my tongue is firmly in my lasagna-lovin' cheek): a local Kiwanis club booked the place for a meeting, and they were told (gasp!) that because there is no private meeting room, the facility was unable to accommodate their request to display an American flag.

     Double-gasp. The enraged meeting planner raised all kinds of fuss over this, and now the corporate vice president of OG has to come to Alabama and make a formal apology.

     Really, folks?

     Online commentary on this story has run the gamut from, "Boycott Darben (sic) restaurants!" to "Olive Garden is anti-American!" to "My dad (brother, uncle) served in the Army and I will never darken their door again."

    Calm down, please. Untwist your knickers for a moment and answer these simple questions:
  • Do you want to walk into Olive Garden for lunch and see a Nazi flag? A banner for the thing that offends you the most deeply? A sign denouncing your particular ethnicity?
  • Do you think it is unreasonable to fail to check in advance on a meeting venue's rules of display, and then denounce them for failing to honor your demand upon arrival?
  • Is there a graceful way to say, "I understand, and we will book our future Kiwanis meetings elsewhere—keep your breadsticks."?

         In one of the more amusing offerings I saw after the story broke, a woman accused Olive Garden of failing to offer Southern hospitality. She must feel it is incumbent upon every public restaurant south of the Mason-Dixon line to bow to the every whim of its patrons, y'all. Maybe serve complimentary sweet tea and hush puppies to the neo-Nazi group that dropped in last Thursday.

         All of this reflects badly on a local establishment that bends over backwards to please its customers. (I am one, and I have witnessed it.) It reflects badly on my beloved home state and its vociferous citizens. It reflects badly on those who fail to understand that this is, after all, America—we love our flag, but it doesn't have to be displayed everywhere (men's room?), nor should it be.

         I have arranged a number of meetings in my day. One thing I always did was inquire in advance about full accommodation of my group's needs. One person's failure to do so does not give anyone the right to demonize Olive Garden.

         If you will excuse me, I have some spectacular leftover Lasagna Rollata al Forno waiting in the kitchen. From the doorman's greeting through the nice conversation with an employee on the way out the door last night, I had a perfectly wonderful meal at the Oxford Olive Garden. In fact, I noticed several employees wearing American flag lapel pins as they usually do.

    Love from Delta.

    Monday, October 10, 2011

    Miss Representation

    Dear Friends,

         Regardless of political persuasion, religious affiliation, feminist or non-feminist orientation, age, color or creed . . . I implore you to take two minutes out of your busy schedule and watch the trailer for a powerful documentary called Miss Representation. After viewing it, I urge you to drag your spouse or significant other or best friend over to watch it. Use force if necessary.

         Then discuss. Please. Your views are welcome here, as always.

    Love from Delta.

    Friday, October 7, 2011

    A Word From MacBeth

         Once upon a time, long long ago, I had a friend at work who bought a newfangled personal computer. It was an Apple MacIntosh, and Bill could not work it to save his life. His cries for my assistance became so incessant, I told him to start screaming "MacBeth!" instead of "Beth!" so I could identify it as a computer emergency.

         MacBeth fell in love with desktop computers then and there. It would be a while before Bill Gates stole Steve Jobs' "windows" system, and I would get an affordable PC of my own.

         I have grown weary of people disparaging Mr. Jobs and his contributions to society. As far as I am concerned, he made a lasting impact on all of our lives, and did it with class and style.

         Here's to a classic American entrepreneur.

    May he rest in peace, with love from MacBeth.

    Wednesday, October 5, 2011

    On Tiny, Magnificent Cakes . . .

         Recently, a vegan friend (yes, omnivores and vegans can be fond of one another) sent me a darling little book called Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. I have never attempted to bake without my precious Diablo and Poseidon eggs (and Publix eggs before them), but I may well do so after reading some of these mouth-watering recipes. The margarita cupcakes look especially interesting . . . one is forced to purchase tequila to create them. One is probably expected to have a margarita or two while stirring, as well. I'm just sayin'.

         There are some terrific tips in this book, and even I—Queen of 300,000 Baking Sessions—learned a thing or two. According to the authors, a surefire way to get people to look at your blog is by posting pictures of cupcakes.

       Okay. Here are a few of my cupcake babies . . .

      New Year's Eve Cupcakes
      Vanilla Snow
      Auburn National Championship
      Chocolate Buttercream
      Deep Chocolate Madness
      Milk Chocolate with Strawberry Buttercream and Chocolate Ganache
      Chocolate Cherry Fudge
      French Vanilla with Chocolate Buttercream
      Milk Chocolate Minis with Vanilla Icing and Cocoa Sprinkles
      Chocolate with Mint Cream and Ganache
      Fresh Strawberry with Strawberry Buttercream and Chocolate Ganache
      French Vanilla with Chocolate Ganache and Vanilla Buttercream
      Vanilla Snowball Cupcakes
      S'Mores Cupcake
      Vanilla with Vanilla Buttercream
      Triple Chocolate
      Marshmallow Dream
      Chocolate with Chocolate Buttercream and Deep Chocolate Drizzle
      Banana Chunky Monkey
      Triple Chocolate in a box
      Strawberry with Strawberry Buttercream
      Strawberry with Fresh Strawberries, Strawberry Buttercream and Chocolate Drizzle
      Valentine's Day Collection

           I admit it: I am somewhat ovo-dependent . . . but I am going to try Lisa's cupcake book, because I love the way it is written.

           Here are some tips from the book:
      • "Baked stuff cools quicker and more evenly when set on a cooling rack. And without them the bottoms of cooling cupcakes can get soggy—so sad." Yup.
      • For decorating, get a small metal frosting spatula (also referred to as a palette knife). Great for spreading thick frostings into a smooth, swooping finish.
      • "Use an ice cream scooper with a release mechanism for easy pouring and filling."
      • "Spray your batter pouring implement with cooking spray before dipping it in the batter."
      • "Make sure that the cupcakes are fully cooled before filling or icing, unless otherwise indicated in a recipe. Spreading icing onto a still-warm cupcake is the work of fools."
      • Cute toppers: Cinnamon sticks, vegan gummies, gel fruit slices, colorful, fun-shaped kid's vegan breakfast cereals (I use the regular, sugary, evil kind.), chocolate-covered pretzels, edible flowers, Scrabble pieces, small plastic farm animals, fake flowers
           I love this: "The world is enraptured with this tiny cake—maybe it's our selfishness, knowing that the cake is 'Mine! All mine!' Maybe it's our obsession with beauty; cupcakes, like flowers, seem to have the perfect proportions to capture our eye. Maybe they speak to the child in all of us, our yearning for a simpler time, where a little something sweet was a reminder that there was something to celebrate."

           I have baked them with love for countless people, and I know this much: cupcakes make folks smile.

           I like that.

           Lisa might just find a little vegan sumpin'-sumpin' in her mailbox someday.

      Love from Delta.

      Sunday, October 2, 2011

      Nope, Not Good Enough.

      Harvey Updyke oozed his way back into the public eye four days ago. He called radio host Paul Finebaum's show and declared on-air that he had been told to "make a living will and get right with God" due to persistent health problems.

      Making a living will and getting right with God might be suggested after poisoning the beautiful, treasured, historic, magnificent oak trees on Auburn University's campus, anyway.

      I'm just saying.

      "This is not a publicity stunt," he said. "The way things have been going, I just need to do it. I may live to be 100, but I may not live to the rest of this week."

      Hmm. Go on, Harvey.

      "I just want to tell the Auburn people that I'm truly sorry for all the damage I've done," he said. "I'm not asking for sympathy. All I'm asking is forgiveness . . . I want the people that's Christians to understand I've done a lot of good in my life. I've never intentionally hurt anybody . . . until this."

      The people that's Christians. I am so happy to point out that this guy is from Texas, not Alabama.

      "Until poisoning the trees?" Finebaum suggested.

      "Paul, you know I can't say that," Updyke replied.

      Of course he can't say that. The entire world knows that Harvey dumped massive amounts of Spike 80DF  into the soil at Toomer's Corner in February of this year. But dendricidal maniacs have to be discreet and charming.

      Updyke ended the conversation with Finebaum abruptly, saying, "I guess I've said enough. I guess I've done enough damage."

      You got that right.

      What you did was beyond ugly, Harvey. 

      I don't even have a Bless Your Heart for you.

      You were indicted in May on two counts of criminal mischief, two counts of desecrating a venerable object and two counts of a state law that includes making it unlawful to damage, vandalize or steal any property on or from an animal or crop facility.

      I hope they throw the book at you. In any event, your prison term in the State of Alabama will prove to be very unpleasant. May you be deprived of college football access. May you have no window where you might spot a single green leaf in the world outside.

      Love from Delta.