Celebrity Cafe

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Watching A Train Wreck - Reality Shows

Cable stations have reeled me in with TV reality shows with their marathon runnings. I don't tend to remember to watch a TV show on regular airing. However on a weekend, with the remote glued to my hand, I get sucked into TV reality stew pot. Here are a few with my couch potato editorials:

Bobby and Whitney - see, I can't even remember the title. This show brings out all kinds of emotions, including embarrassment. And why should I be embarrassed? Those two and the family aren't embarrassed or else why do a show where all your business is displayed. Am I embarrassed because people will think that black america lives this way or this is a prototype of our family? Not sure. Most of the times, I want to hit Bobby on the back of his head and tell him to put down that drink. My advice to Whitney? - I don't know. Really I'm not surprised by the behavior, although many considered her the sweet girl next door - this show didn't help the illusion. But the episode that had me laughing in horror was the camping trip. The episode that had me feeling sorry for Bobby was his Mother's Day breakfast plan. When Bobby sang on the evening show, I saw the talent that had catapulted him. But it was also a stark reminder to the effects of a raging ego, alcoholism, . . . did I say raging ego?

The Gotti Family - Again, I have a warped fascination for this one. There is a quote - It doesn't matter who my father was, it matters who I remember he was - Anne Sexton. This is the backbone principle of this show. At first, whenever Victoria spoke of her father in a loving way, my mind rehashed all his ill deeds. Now after a couple seasons (don't know how many) and the boys growing up, I figured - okay, in her world her father loved her, cared for her, provided for her. She is proudly carrying the family's name and drills it home into her sons' brains. And I suppose people must be thinking well, he only went after "bad" people. I did get tired of them screaming at each other and listening to her tell these spoiled brats to go to their rooms. But her sidekick Luigi cracks me up and I'm all for him pulling the stunts that he does. If she wants to pay a lunatic and have him hang around her house, so be it.

Sweet 16 - This one I could only stand two or three episodes. My main issue landed squarely at the parents' feet. I'm not the type of person to hold a grudge against a millionaire giving his daughter a Sweet 16 birthday bash. But when you teach your child to be nice to you or listen to you or do what you want because you're waving cash in her face, then I have to wonder if this constitutes some form of child abuse. What I see from that action, is a father teaching his daughter to be an emotional cripple. As for the girls who get mad over frivolous stuff, throw their butts into a helicopter with a day's ration and drop their whining behinds in some poor country. I shudder to think that these people and their generation will be the capitalists in power when I'm old.

Celebrity Fit Challenge or Club - Again, titles don't stick with me. This is mildly funny. Not the work out sessions, but the hurdles that some celebrities have to overcome to get their acts together. I do hope that their successes will continue even after the cameras have turned off and they are left to their own devices. Growing up in a family with overweight issues, I've seen the highs and lows.

Kathy Gifford - I like watching this. I have no idea why. It's not funny. I don't think she's funny or that my humor and her jokes coincide - for those who want political correctness. Yet, I like watching her transform with her makeovers to go on stage. I just remembered, I do laugh and that's when her parents are on. Her father is so darn funny. He says these one line zingers and doesn't laugh at all. I do feel sorry for her assistant Jessica many times and I hope that she's getting paid well.

I used to watch Real World. But some days, their issues and behavior were so immature and trivial that I refused to invest my attention to their cause.

Never got into the Big Brother, Survivor, or Amazing Race. Mainly I'd miss one episode and lose track and lose interest.

Now I was a diehard of Ozzie. Again - my horrified feelings drew me in. And what a train wreck that family is living - one thing after another with addictions galore.

Michelle Monkou

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Career Aspirations - From a Wee Girl to Now

I reflected on all the careers and job titles that I aspired to achieve from the time that I was a small girl. When I wrote them, I was amused at where my head was and sometimes, where my heart still is. I wanted to share them with you:

Flight Attendant, specifically for British Airways
Fashion Designer
Modern Dancer
Jazz Dancer
Runway Model
Hair Design Model
Speech Pathologist
Reading Specialist
Special Education Teacher
Neonatal Nurse
Import/Export Consultant
Movie Director

(As you can see, I never aspired to be a writer, although my school friends claimed that I did write stories all the time - I probably didn't see it as a career)

What were some of your dreams?

Michelle Monkou

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Katrina Donations to Habitat For Humanity

Bestselling author, Nora Roberts, through her adwoff.com fansite, has issued a challenge that she will match any donations that they raise for Habitat for Humanity from September 6 through 20. Based on Nora's challenge and her giving spirit, I think that she'll be donating much more than whatever is raised. I know the staff at Turn The Page and feel comfortable with using them for this fundraising effort. Turn The Page is owned by Bruce Wilder (Nora's husband). If you'd like to see the daily tally that has been donated, go to www.adwoff.com.

Remember that these survivors will need homes, not just loans (even if it is low interest).

If you want to send a check, make it out to Habitat for Humanity.

Send it to: Turn the Page Bookstore Cafe
c/o Jeannie King
Boonsboro, MD 21713

If you want to make your contribution online, ADWOFF have set-up a PayPal account.
Here's how it works. Go to http://www.paypal.com/ , sign in, and then use the e-mail address of adwoffcares@verizon.net to send your contribution.

Thank you.

Michelle Monkou

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Dirty Little Secret

The Storm
It took me a while to wrap my head around the horrendous images that befell the good citizens of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. I heard the warning to get out of the area on Sunday and knew that not everyone would or could. Having friends there I began calling to check on their safety. As the storm grew in size and strength I knew it was already too late. I turned on CNN as the storm hit on Monday, (I’ve never watched CNN for more than a few minutes) and watched glued to the set for the next five days. I finally turned away Friday evening. As the water poured in and terror began I watched helpless like the rest of America as Katrina did her worst. Three states hit by what looked like the wrath of God sent me to my knees.

The people
The shock and awe of watching the tragic event play itself out over the next few days was nothing less than heartbreaking. I can’t even begin to express my heartfelt grief for the survivors and my stunned silence for those who didn’t. In as much, I can’t even begin to imagine what they went through. Seeing the faces, hearing the stories and reading the reports stunned us all. Without food, without water, without supplies and without hope their courage and bravery stood out as unlikely heroes stepped up even as outrage within a nation and across the globe began. Our families, friends and fellows citizens had been betrayed.

The Outrage
I, like most, am appalled by my government and its response or rather lack of response to the Gulf Coast. Yes, world this is not shocking to most African Americans. We know our government well. Over a century of slavery, Jim Crow, segregation and continued disdain have prepared us and instilled in us the reality of the truth. We are a people who have learned to survive and endure and once again, against all odd, we did and we will.

The Shame of Blame
We, the strongest, richest most powerful country in the world have inadvertently let out the dirty little secret that’s been kept hidden for centuries. We stand in judgment of China and other tyrannical nations without looking into our own closets. Days, weeks and months of committee meetings and congressional hearing will surely be played out for the public. Sound bites, photo ops and news conferences filled with self-righteous anger and outrage will be viewed but in the end the question will always remain, why?

At Last
It’s too late for possibly thousands. You can’t change the past but you can learn from it and do better for those who survived. Your thoughts?


Friday, August 26, 2005

Get Your Kicks on Route 66

Since I was a very young child, I’ve had a fantasy of driving a fast car on Route 66, a twenty-four hundred mile stretch of road beginning in Chicago and ending in Los Angeles. It predated the superhighways and would meander through towns, cities, and hamlets allowing a driver to see the country as they passed through it.

I used to watch an old television series with Martin Milner and George Maharis called Route 66. They drove a red Corvette in the age when the price of color television was only beginning to reach affordability for the common man. We had a black and white model. Every week one blonde and one dark-haired man would set off in a convertible with only adventure awaiting them. They’d stop and work to get enough money for repairs, gas, food, and the essentials of a life on the road. They had no attachments, nothing to keep them tied to any one place. The world was their highway and there were magical escapades at every stop.

What freedom. What escape, I thought. This was a wonderful way to live. And I wanted to do it. However, I was a girl with many years ahead of me before I was even old enough to drive, much less learn the constraints put on women and the added bonds that held black women back during that time. Yet that sense of freedom to comb the road, stopping along the way for the pure sense of adventure or just to find out where the road leads, never left me. Today I will drive down a road with the sole intention of finding out where it goes. Dead-ends, grassy knolls, babbling brooks, farm country, the center of town, warehouse districts, or suburbs, all have something to say. They feed that sense of freedom, of being uninhibited. Many of these drives have fueled my own stories or provided me with fresh ideas for current or future projects.

My sense of adventure has never been satisfied, although I have explored places since that black and white television program ended, the sixties happens and I learned to drive. Oftentimes, I’ve foregone the fastest route, and taken the secondary, more scenic roads that wind through towns and slow down to twenty-five miles an hour. I believe keeping adventure alive is a plus and it will never end for me. There is so much to see, so many people to talk to and discover the uniqueness of their lives.

While I’d like to upgrade that Corvette to a Porsche, it isn’t the need for speed that calls me, but that all important freedom that can be obtained with only a car and the open road. Most of Route 66 survives today, but not in its original, well-maintained form. The road is cracked, overgrown, and hard to find in places where only a Jeep, not a Porsche, can traverse. My dream of taking that adventure and finding out where the road leads remains alive and well and as Route 66 beckons to me, there are interesting lives down every roadway.

Where is yours?

Shirley Hailstock, 39 Celebrity Circle


Commuting today -- Friday -- brought out the worse in me because I didn’t want to leave my home, more specifically my bed this morning. I have a 40-50 min commute from Maryland to D.C. on the Metro rail. Here’s my commuter rant that isn’t designed to be politically correct or fair. I don’t care. I want to rant.


I merged onto the street for the metro parking lot and yielded for the oncoming traffic. The driver who had the right-of-way slammed on her brakes to let me go – cell phone in hand, as if she was using the speaker phone feature. I motioned for her to go. I wanted her in front of me where I could see the silly woman. She motioned for me to go. I sucked my teeth and hit the gas. She decided to hit her gas too. I braked. She braked. Meanwhile she’s still talking on the cell phone. She finally went on her way and turned into the parking lot. The next trick this yahoo tried was to park her car while holding the phone. I left her aisle and went to another because I could see that she would have plucked my nerve enough for me to tell her to invest in a hands free device. If you can afford your car, your hair do, your nails, your clothes, then you can afford a hands free device. Stop being trifling. Stop being a menace. Stop being a yahoo.


Escalators are the devices that take you from one level to another. People Movers are the flat belts, like an assembly line device, that moves you along a path. Why is it that commuters who don’t want to exert any kind of energy get onto the escalators, ride it up or down. When they reach the final point, they just stand there. They don’t move their feet. Well guess what I’m coming up behind you. You can’t slowly move off the escalator. The forward motion has stopped. It’s time for you to swing those legs and get them moving. Otherwise I and others will be smashed against each other rear ends. And I’d rather not.

P.S. People/ Tourists/ Occasional Commuters – The right side is where you stand. The left side is for walking up the escalator. Don’t confuse the two. And don’t you and your friend take up both sides. You’re liable to get a disgusted “excuse me” and the dagger stare when I go past you.


Once a upon a time, I was a size 3, 4, 5. Well you get the point. It’s going in the wrong direction. And I know that I can’t fit in every space. I’m not in denial. I don’t go to kiddie rides and squeeze my widening hips into a rollercoaster car while my kid folds herself into an accordion to deal with my overlap.

Then please, why can’t commuters with wide hips know that they shouldn’t cut off people’s circulation or air supply to get a seat. In my older age, I have no qualms in getting up after a huge behind eclipses the sun as it descends next to me. Widening girths don’t happen overnight. So it’s not a surprise to know that you overlap the dividing line between seats. Stop the madness.


This one amuses me when I’m in a good mood. It annoys me, otherwise. As Americans we love to tout our rights. I guess the right to wear low rider pants is up there with liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In case you didn’t know the view point of others, let me tell you. I realize that I don’t have to look at you. But sitting in a train there’s not much to look at, until the next set of commuters board the train.

Low riders are for flat behinds and flat stomachs. This is not for the woman curved in the back and front who is going through some type of image crisis to feel whole and feminine because she was able to button her pants waist. Why on earth do you want pants that close under the belly making your belly look like the ice-cream on a cone. Then you wear a crop top that shows the belly and stretch marks? Or when you bend over I get to see the style, make and model of the panty and in one case, the butt crack. Don’t get mad at me, I call it like I see it.


Isn’t it wonderful to wiggle your toes and not have it hemmed up in shoes? But can we get a pedicure. This doesn’t mean an expensive feet make over. Simple cutting of the nails, lotion on the feet, using a pumice stone for those ragged heels would suffice. Feet should not hang off the back of your shoe. People, this means the shoe is too small. Pinky toes should be securely fastened, if they like to stray to the side. Otherwise, it’s like a runaway nub. Bunions are also like runaway pinky toes, an obstruction. Unless you’re scared of the knife or have medical issues, it is a treatable condition. Plus it doesn’t get better with age.

So now you see why I should have stayed home. TGIF.

Michelle Monkou

Friday, August 19, 2005


I have always wanted a tattoo since my early twenties. I like the artistry displayed on the human canvass. My problem has been deciding on what to get. I’ve thought about getting symbols that have Zen-like meanings. Or selecting a Chinese character that carries a profound meaning. I have sought my power animal based on Native American traditions as another option. Then I would have to spend time explaining what the symbol meant. Nope, don’t want to be forced to be chatty about my body decoration.

Then I examined other people’s tattoos. Some were crisply done. Others looked smudged because the ink bled. Do I want color or simple outlines? Lighter skin shows off the colors more vividly. The outlined ones look more like jail house rock.

The History channel had a documentary on the history of the tattoo, along with the techniques. I know that I won’t be going for any of the ancient methods, which looks like sheer torture. They pound sharp points into the skin. The manual vs electronic technique is what gets to me. Then they showed the elaborate tattooing of the Pacific Islanders which I thought were pretty, but I had no desire to have such a significant portion of my limbs or torso covered. I knew that for sure.

On the train, I’ve seen tattoos on arms, ankles, shoulder blades, chests, and necks. Body placement has also been an obstacle for getting the tattoo. I don’t want it on a place that will sag. I’m really tickled when I see a young girl with a tattoo, like a pretty symmetrical heart, on her stomach. Silly rabbit! The top of the breast is another sticky spot especially if you’re heavy chested. Once gravity hits where exactly will that tattoo end up, unless they plan to invest in Victoria’s ‘shove em up’ bras. My ankle, my forearm, and my thigh were all places that I have chosen for this display. Now ten years later, I’m narrowing it down to the ankle. The skin hasn’t sagged – hmm, do ankle skin sag. Would my tattoo end up at the bottom of my feet when I’m pushing my walker.

Finally I saw a woman a few days ago with 69 tattooed on the inside of her ankle. She looked to be in her twenties going to work. I know the sexual connotation of 69. Figured she did too. So was she wearing the 69 to say, yes I’m in that club? Is it like a fraternity brand to help other members identify you? Is it an ad to a man or woman that you go for 69? I had fun pondering the possibilities of why someone would tattoo that on her ankle. When she is in her eighties, would it then become a badge of honor?

I may not ever get a tattoo, but I’m enjoying pondering the why’s and why not’s.

Michelle Monkou

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Spurts of Energy

Do you have days or periods of time when you produce a great amount of product, whatever your product is? Maybe you clean the house, empty out closets and reorganize them, do your kitchen cabinets with that spray cleaner that polishes them and no one knows it but you. Well I had one of those periods. It didn't result in a cleaner house.

I have a lot of energy anyway, but when a friend pointed out that I had been so productive since I lost my job, I looked back to see what I had done. I was reorganized out of my position in February of this year. I lost no time in trying to find another position. I need the security of a group insurance and a steady paycheck. And still I spend 20-30 hours a week in my search. It's not going that well, but that would be the subject of a different blog.

Even without a real day job, I have a three-year-old at home, a college-age son who's working this summer, but can't find the time to make his own lunch in the morning, e-mail, a blog, maintenance of my own website (http://www.geocities.com/shailstock), romance articles for newsletters and magazines, romance conference materials to send to the conference chairs, donated books to send out, promotional items to design and order, contracted books to complete, fan mail to answer and proposals to write and mail. I'm a little busy.

I'd already paid for several writer's conferences so I went to them, and picked up some new contacts and information about opportunities to sell projects. I have the hope of selling enough manuscripts to write full-time and support myself in the style to which I would like to become accustomed. And I think big. I didn't expect it to happen overnight. I'm willing to let it bill, but in two years I should getting up there, right? We'll see. So far the publishing world and I haven't aligned to my expectations. But I live in hope.

Writer's conferences always inspire me. After attending them, I come home and go to my computer, or even before I get home I write on the plane or train. Beginning last Janaury I had written or updated and sent out eight different proposals and a fully completed manuscript. It appeared nothing was happening for six months, then in June things began to heat up (no pun intended). At this writing, I've had one rejection, three sales, and found an agent to sell my mainstream.

While the money won't keep me in the style.. yadayadyaada...I'm going to be very busy in the next year getting those books written. I'm glad I have a lot of energy and I love writing. I love the proposals that sold. I love them all whether they sell or not.

So my ktichen cabinets will have to remain in their current state, although I'll be forced to clean the sticky floor (why are kitchen floors always sticky). Who knows, maybe I'll have a heroine who likes to clean and I'll have to do research...I don't think so.

Wherever your energy takes you, look back at what you've done over a period of time and see how productive you have been. You might be surprised.

Shirley Hailstock