Maria's Good Time Fun Blog-o-Rama and Petting Zoo

I'm a Georgia-born, Mississippi-bred, Southern Belle living in sunny Los Angeles, California. I'm just trying to make life in the City of Angels truly feel like a little piece of heaven. Welcome to my blog of humorous anecdotes, mindless ramblings, witty invectives, random observations, and just general thinking out loud. Thanks for stopping by! Ya'll come back now, ya hear?!!!

Monday, July 14, 2008

No visit from the Green Fairy

I had my first taste of absinthe the other night. My husband and I had dinner with my sister and brother-in-law, and after dinner, my brother-in-law brought out a French absinthe set:

He explained that absinthe, as of July 1st, was now legal in the US. We all felt very bohemian and artsy-fartsy, as according to Wikipedia, "it is better known for its popularity as an alcoholic drink in late 19th- and early 20th-century France, particularly among Parisian artists and writers. Due in part to its association with bohemian culture, absinthe was opposed by social conservatives and prohibitionists. Charles Baudelaire, Paul Verlaine, Arthur Rimbaud, Vincent van Gogh, Oscar Wilde, and Aleister Crowley were all notorious "bad men" of that day who were (or were thought to be) devotees of the Green Fairy."

After tasting the drink, my opposition to the beverage is not because of its sometime illegal nature, or supposed risk of hallucinations and wild behavior, or its association with counter-culturalists and "creative types." I now abhor the stuff because it tastes like black licorice. Nasty, crappy, poor-excuse-for-a-candy black licorice in liquid form. And that, my friends, is truly criminal.

Today, after some research online, I learned that the absinthe that is legal in the US is so because it doesn't contain what makes true absinthe absinthe: wormwood. The FDA prohibits the use of wormwood in products meant for human consumption because of its toxic nature.

So no visit for us from the Green Fairy. But I still felt tres chic!

Has it been that long?!

Wow, it's been about ten months since I last posted here. I took time off to plan a wedding, get married, honeymoon, move into a new apartment with my new husband, unpack and put away and make the place cute, perform in two shows, travel, build a new website, model in a few photo shoots, start writing pieces for a one-woman show, and about a million other things that pulled me away from blog-land.

Our wedding in Hawaii was amazing and magical, and more than I could have hoped for. I never imaged I would have a "destination wedding," and looking back, I can't imagine doing anything else. We had a lovely, worshipful, romantic, simple ceremony on the beautiful grounds of our hotel, right next to the beach, with the sacred site of Black Rock in the distance. We had twelve family members and friends in attendance, and it was so nice to all be in Hawaii together to celebrate our union.

Before we chose to get married in Hawaii, I heard so many of my married friends who had bigger weddings say how little they remembered about their weddings. They said that half of the people who were at their wedding, they only knew were there because they saw them in pictures later, how they never got to eat any of the food they had paid for, and that the whole thing was one big blur. By doing what we did, we got to spend time with our guests in a relaxed setting, and I remember every single moment.

I would say it was the happiest day of my life, but each day with my new husband is better than the last. But it was definitely ONE of the happiest days of my life. And I feel so blessed because as amazing as my wedding day was, with my husband William, I know that the best is yet to come!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Welcome, Fall!

We've had our version of a cold spell here in Southern California, which means it's been in the low 80's, and with it, a hint of the holiday season that is nearly upon us. This is by far my favorite time of the year, and I have taken a cue from the stores and already put out my Halloween decorations. I put them out about a week and a half ago as a matter a fact. As soon as the mercury dipped into the 70's, I had my pumpkin scented candles burning and was shopping for gourds at Ralph's! 10 for $10!!! Such a deal!

This weekend my lovely fiancee and I kicked off the beginning of fall with a trip to Solvang, CA for Danish Days. Solvang is a little town about two hours north of LA that was settled by Danish immigrants in the early 20th century, and it looks like it's right out of a Hans Christen Andersen fairy tale. Imagine if they had a Danish Pavilion at EPCOT, and you get the picture. Except this is an entire town. The movie SIDEWAYS was filmed in the area. In fact, William and I stayed in the same Days Inn with the big windmill from the movie where the guys stayed, and ate at the Hitching Post where Maya worked. Delicious steaks, and the Santa Maria Pinot was particulary good. So I was told. I know squat about wine. I just know I don't like most of it because it takes like vinegar to me and I feel like I should be pouring it on my Long John Silver's instead of drinking it. But I liked the Santa Maria Pinot. Very mild.

Anyway, the entire town is decked out for the weekend with parades, bands, artisans, Viking camp reenactments, Danish dancers in traditional garb, aebleskiver and sausage breakfasts, and all the wine and beer you can drink. We ate, drank, made merry, and took many photos. It was a wonderful way to get the holidays underway, and we can't wait to go back next year!

So I'm ready for the holidays to begin. Bring on the Halloween parties and the hayrides! The apple-picking and the hot cocoa! The Secret Santas and the sweet potato pie! It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown marathons and the Toys for Tots drives! Welcome Fall, and all!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

It's a blessed year for my family in the baby department. There are no less than THREE, count 'em, THREE babies entering the world this year. And here are all the handsome devils.

Meet Riley Hall, Landon Courtemanche, and as yet to have his named shared Baby Lay. That's right, all boys! Look out, ladies! These three little future heart breakers have already stolen MY heart, and I'm sure mine is the first of many.

My older sister Julie and husband Glen's son Riley seems like he's going to be really sweet, kind of serious, and introspective. Landon, my oldest sister Lisa and husband Keith's son I think is going to be very strong and athletic. And my younger brother Christopher and wife Jill's baby is, well, very photogenic and a great swimmer.

Welcome to the world, guys! I look forward to getting to know you.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Daaaaaa dum. Daaaaaaa dum. Daaaa dum. Da dum, da dum, da dum, da dum, da dum!!!

In honor of the wildly popular "Shark Week," on the Discovery Channel, here are 20 reasons why sharks are such bad-ass mutha-f@#$ers (besides the fact that they can bite your head off):

20 Ways Sharks Help Humans
Provided by the Discovery Channel

1. As the oldest-living vertebrates, sharks may provide information on the origin and evolution of all vertebrate species, including humans.

2. Sharks affect shellfish-population counts, since many consume skates, rays, and other predators of scallops, crabs, lobsters, and more. When sharks decline, shellfish that many humans like to eat start to disappear, too.

3. Sharks rigged with cameras have provided important data on dangerous underwater sites, such as a Pacific Ocean nuclear-test site where sharks were deployed in 2003.
4. Sharks possess a highly developed immune system, with few species suffering from cancer and other disorders. If researchers can unlock its key processes, sharks may one day lead to preventative treatments, or even cures, for some of our most deadly diseases.

5. Shark fins and hammerhead shark noses have inspired high-tech adaptations to airline wings and jet bodies. The Langley Research Center has extensively studied sharks, along with whales and seagulls, for their potential design applications.

6. Certain sharks, such as the basking shark, are filter feeders that consume large quantities of zooplankton, such as copepods and krill. Some experts believe this helps to “clean” the water and may prevent red tide and other harmful algal blooms.
7. Shark blood contains special anticlotting compounds that scientists are studying for possible human heart-disease applications.

8. Sharks have the greatest electrical sensitivity of any creature on Earth. Since detection of magnetic fields can help with orientation and navigation, future research on shark electroreceptor organs may one day lead to better navigation systems in cars, planes, and ships.

9. Analysis of sharks, particularly the dogfish, has taught many researchers and students about fish biology.
10. Ecotourism, with sharks serving as a primary attraction, has improved local economies in many places throughout the world, such as in parts of the Philippines and Belize.

11. Sharks and humans once shared a common ancestor, so our tissues are not all that dissimilar. Optometric researchers are investigating the shark cornea, which may one day be used for human transplants.

12. In 2005, Mercedes-Benz modeled a “bionic car” after a tropical fish called the boxfish and other fish, including sharks. Its streamlined shape made the car one of the most aerodynamically efficient vehicles for its size.
13. Sharks always draw a crowd when they are safely contained in aquarium exhibits. While such displays remain controversial, they have earned millions of dollars, with some of the monies going to shark-conservation projects.

14. Many sharks are scavengers that consume dead and dying animals and plants. They help to rid the oceans of rotting carcasses and related waste materials.

15. Squalamine, a chemical extracted from dogfish, appears to kill bacterial microbes and removes potential tumor cells. This natural compound may one day be incorporated into treatments for human infections and disease.
16. Shark teeth, with their variety of different shapes, sizes, and cutting surfaces, are a marvel of nature. They may have inspired early human tools, some of which incorporated actual shark teeth, skin or both into the objects.

17. Sharks possess remarkable senses that enable many species to see in near darkness, smell from long distances, feel distant vibrations and more. Analysis of these abilities may one day give humans similar abilities through devices modeled after shark senses.

18. Recent studies indicate that sharks are highly intelligent, with advanced problem-solving skills, social complexity, and a natural sense of curiosity. Using neuronal activity-detecting devices, scientists have developed rudimentary ways of reading animal thoughts and feelings. In the future, we may better understand ourselves by learning how other intelligent creatures view us.
19. Some sharks, such as the spiny dogfish, never seem to go into a full sleep, since they can continue to swim while “sleeping.” Researchers continue to study sharks in hopes of learning more about what occurs in the brain during sleep modes, which may lead to treatments for human sleep disorders.

20. Researchers are experimenting with a new boat-surface coating based on shark scales. Due to their base shape, size, and bristles, scales help to prevent algae and other things from sticking to sharks, a quality designers hope to impart to ships.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Loosen Up My Buttons, Baby!

I have a non-sexual crush on the lead singer of the Pussycat Dolls. She's yummy. I think she's really pretty and a really good singer and a really good dancer, and as this sentence reflects, she makes me feel like a twelve year old girl (or at least write like one). Maybe that's why I dig her. She reminds me of all those Prince chicks back in the eighties that I liked as a kid. Screw Madonna! Give me Vanity and Apollonia! Being a BIG Prince fan (my first tingling "down there," was at a slumber party viewing of Purple Rain during the infamous "reach around" love scene between Prince and Apollonia), any chick His Purple Highness let hang out with him was alright with me.

I was also probably more drawn to them because, with their dark hair and dark eyes and exotic looks, I could relate to them more. Being the only brown-eyed brunette in my family, my siblings would joke with me that I was adopted since I didn't look like any of them. I WAS the ONLY one who had brown hair and eyes like BOTH my parents, but WHATEV!

Anyway, Miss Scherzinger is HOT, and is one of the main reasons for my current obsession with the "PCDs." Granted, they all run around stage in their underwear and are really just a bunch of glorified strippers, but I don't care! They're really pretty and they sing really good and they dance really good and Nicole is my FAVORITE! Can I look through your purse?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Look at me! Look at me!

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Yee haw! Gettin' hitched!

Well, my lovely boyfriend is no longer my boyfriend, because now he's my fiance!!! I'm getting married! William and I went away to Santa Barbara in May 2007 for Memorial Day weekend. We were in great need of some rest, relaxation, and quality time together. Little did I know what else William had planned for the trip!

Saturday night we went out for a nice dinner at a little off-the-beaten-path Spanish restaurant. Sitting at a quiet, dimly lit table in the corner, we spent the evening enjoying a great meal and each other's company, talking about our journey together and all of our plans and dreams for the future. Marriage had been a topic of conversation many times before, and we both knew we wanted to get married, so it wasn't unusual for us to be talking about it.

At one point in the conversation, I was imagining our wedding. I closed my eyes and said, "You know, just the image of me coming down the aisle on our wedding day and looking down at the end of the aisle and seeing you standing there looking at me and waiting for me is just...," and upon opening my eyes mid-sentence, I saw that William was holding an open box with a beautiful diamond ring in it. For being completely clueless that I was about to be proposed to, I couldn't have set him up better! William said, "It's time." I burst into tears, he popped the question, I said yes, and lots of hugs and kisses ensued!

Walking up to the table at that moment, the surprised waitress saw the open ring box on the table, me wiping away tears, and the sparkler on my finger and said, "Oh, um, um, oh my gosh! Congratulations!" She made a hasty retreat from the table, leaving us alone to enjoy the moment. Soon the Maitre D' arrived at the table with a bottle of Champagne for us to enjoy a toast on our big night.

We've decided to get married in Maui in January, and have a small wedding with family and friends. For our honeymoon, we'll stay on in Maui for a few more days, then hop over to Molokai for four days.

I'm so excited, and I can't wait to be married to be married to my best friend and love of my life. I can't wait to be Mrs. William Hanford Lee, Jr.!!!

Monday, April 23, 2007

I sang with the stars!

A while back, I lent my singing talents as part of a chorus on a star-studded recording of the single “Come Together Now,” co-written by Sharon Stone, Denise Rich, Mark Feist, and Damon Sharpe. The song was released after the Katrina Disaster in New Orleans, and proceeds from the sales of the single and the video of the song went to benefit victims of the disaster. The single was recorded at Capitol Records in the legendary Studio B. Celebrities participating in the collaboration included Celine Dion, Natalie Cole, and Patti LaBelle, among others. "Come Together Now," was the first major all-star collaboration for charity since "We Are The World."

The only thing is, "Come Together Now," wasn't recorded AFTER the Katrina disaster. It wasn't even recorded FOR the Katrina disaster. It was recorded quite a bit before, as a matter of fact. It was actually written and recorded for the Tsunami disaster in Thailand in December of 2004, but I guess the project wasn't finished in a timely enough fashion for the disaster to still be a "hot" enough story to garner any interest in it when it was ready for release.
But low and behold, as fate would have it, along came Katrina, and with a little re-editing, the latest and greatest disaster news story became the perfect subject for this project.

It was an honor to be a part of the project and to have my voice included among such top vocal talent. Toward the end of the video, you can catch a few glimpses of me in the studio belting out the chorus with the other session singers on the gig.

Here's the video:

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Long time, no blog

It's been about a month and a half since my last post. It's not that there hasn't been anything to write about. There's been plenty. It's the inspiration and motivation to comment, muse, ramble, observe, reflect, and commisurate that has been lacking. And I don't feel particularly inspired today. However, the guilt over the neglect of my non-readers has gotten the best of me, and I feel compelled to write SOMETHING, just to show I made an effort.

The update on me at the moment in a nutshell is I'm doing a show that closes in a week, and I'm about to start rehearsing for another one. I'm addicted to YOU TUBE. I have a cold sore on my lip due to lack of sleep and an inherited virus that runs in my family. I think my boyfriend is the s*#t (for anyone not familiar with that expression, it's a good thing). I have a new nephew and two more on the way (one will be a nephew, the other we don't know yet). There are two parrots I see every morning who fly around my neighborhood that I assume escaped from a pet store, zoo, or their owner, that I've named Toucan and Sam. I love the new Miss USA, and I'm sick of Sanjaya. I can't get enough Antiques Roadshow and have learned more about "patinas" than one person ever needs to. I won $100 and a key that could have started a 2007 Range Rover Sport off a radio station I listen to (my key didn't start it). I still haven't organized my pictures from my five months in Europe, and I can't believe that this time last year I was about to cross the Atlantic for said five months in Europe.

And like that life-changing, once-in-a-lifetime experience in Europe, there is something big coming, I can smell it. Can you smell it? It's there, in the air. It's coming. I don't know what. I don't know when. I don't know how. But it's coming. And I'm ready for it. Cue the song and dance number...

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Now that I call Southern California home, it's interesting to note all the little quirks that are specific to the Golden State, and particularly Los Angeles. Movies set in LA are so much more fun to watch now when I recognize some of the locales and understand the inside jokes (see "Clueless," or "Swingers"). In the same spirit of one of my previous posts about being from Mississippi, I'd like to share this list that was passed on to me about my adopted home state:

You know you live in California when:

You drive next to a Porsche and don't notice.

You don't know anyone's phone number unless you check your cell phone.

You speak Spanish, but you're not Mexican.

You begin to "lie" to your friends about how close you are when you know that it'll take you at least an hour to get there.

You drive to your neighborhood block party.

In the winter you can go to the beach and ski at Big Bear on the same day.

You can mow your lawn in your shorts on New Years Day, and get sunburned.

You eat a different ethnic food for every meal.

Calling your neighbors requires knowing their area code.

You don't stop at a STOP sign, you do a California Roll.

You've partied in Tijuana at least 3 times and you don't remember at least 1 of them.

You go to a tanning salon before going to the beach.

You eat pineapple on pizza.

You think that Venice is a beach.

You classify new people you meet by their Area Code. An "818" would never date a "562" and anyone from "323" or "213" is ghetto. Best area code: "949/714”.

Nobody likes anyone from the "909/951" because it stinks there.

You call 911 and they put you on hold.

The gym is packed at 3 pm...on a workday.

You know that if you drive two miles in any direction you will find a McDonald's or a Starbucks.

You know what "Sigalert", "PCH", and “The Five" mean.

You know the meaning behind the name of the 405 freeway.... because it takes 4 hours to get one way, and 5 hours to get back.

It's barely sprinkling rain and there's a report on every news station: "STORM WATCH".

Your monthly house payments exceed your annual income.

The Terminator is your governor.