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Archive for February, 2010

Follow Friday Friend Pretty Annoyed

Friday, February 26th, 2010

Who knew?  Who knew when fellow Twitter user @CrystalDempsey suggested I do my Follow Friday Friend interview with @PrettyAnnoyed that it would create such a buzz.

This is what my Twitter feed looked like Thursday afternoon. 

Just chatted w/ @prettyannoyed for my blog post tomorrow. U don’t wanna miss it. She’s a riot! 

@briandfrancis @susantran You had an actual convo with @prettyannoyed ? Wow, you know how to tease a blog post!

@susanjspaulding @susantran Glad ur well!! :) I see that you interviewed @prettyannoyed < WOW!!!

@KenBuck @briandfrancis @susantran @prettyannoyed Imagine talking to a bot!

@KenBuck - a bot?

@KenBuck @susantran it’s a running joke I have with her about not being real.

@staceysimms @susantran I hope @prettyannoyed never tells! (At least not until the book deal and movie rights)

I had no idea there was such a mystery behind this Charlotte Twitterer.  But I love it!  (Mainly, because I know who she is and she was a riot to chat with!)  What I can tell you is @PrettyAnnoyed works for corporate America, doing something in communications.  She’s a single female who lives in Charlotte and just needed a place to vent. 

Here are some of @PrettyAnnoyed’s latest rants, um, I mean tweets.

@prettyannoyed :

 How about all of you do me a solid: change your passwords now so I’ll stop getting “I’m sexually excited” DMs due to phishing attacks? Thx

Hey, guess how I feel about sitting in a conference room all day SATURDAY w/ a bunch of tools blowing hot air? Yep, that’s right. Annoyed.  

Saw a license plate on a car that reads “Chew More.” Gee, thanks for that suggestion. Like most old crows, I usually swallow my prey whole.

Tip for my fellow agnostics: today is Ash Wednesday. So quit going around the office telling people “You have something on your face.”

To further confirm my weirdness: I’m flipping channels and really, the old bald guy on Lost is kind of hot. I may need professional help.

Gave up being annoyed for Lent. Ha, just kidding. I mean, I’m not even Catholic and hell, it’s physiologically impossible. 

 

Brevin Knight

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

Brevin Knight played in the NBA for 12 years.  Three of which were here for the Charlotte Bobcats.  He’s a Stanford University grad who readily attests to a solid foundation he says his mother helped him build.  One where he was not merely a force on the courts but a formidable student in school.

(Thank you to Ms. Leslie at KIPP Charlotte for sharing the video.)

I recently asked him to speak at KIPP Charlotte, a public charter middle school, where I’m a volunteer and board member.  The student body is 99% minority.  70% of the students qualify for free and reduced lunch.  It’s a school where two-thirds of the students are boys, and if asked, often say they aspire to be pro ball players.  The majority of the students live in the neighborhood destined to attend Garinger High School, a place where the graduation rate is a mere 40%.  But at KIPP Charlotte the goal is not only to graduate high school but to be college bound.  And nationally, 85% of KIPP alumni go onto college

I wanted KIPP Charlotte students to hear Brevin’s story; one of perseverance, dreams and smarts.  Where a Stanford scout happened to catch him playing basketball for Seton Hall Prep only because the game he was hoping to see was cancelled.  Brevin’s high school coach was able to not only praise Brevin’s athletic agility but academic strengths.  The rest, as they say, is history.

Improv Class

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Ladies and gentleman, I’ve been taking improv classes for 6 weeks (it’s only an 8 week class) and while I think I’ve learned some cool skills, I’m sad to report, I’m still not funny.  But I’m starting to think the deck was stacked against me from the beginning.  Take Chris for instance – a pro who waltzed into a class that had amateurs like me.

Then there are folks like Becca who are naturally hilarious.  Seriously, you should hear some of the things that she says without hesitation!  Including this deadpan answer she gave when I asked for a review of my performance thus far.

The thing is the entire class is filled with funny people with personality, wit, and phenomenal timing.  I spend more time laughing then being the jester.  There are folks like Alfred who are working towards being a comic and Tim who performs 4 nights a week at Howl at the Moon.  They have uproarious – down!

For me, I think I’m chalking up improv class as 8 fun Tuesday nights.  Next stop: stand-up class.  People, I’m serious about this funny bit!

Susan Sings

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

I started watching American Idol about 6 years ago when I started working at Fox Boston.  I didn’t want to like it but I ended up loving it!

The show suits me.  I’m an amazing singer in the shower and car!  I was in middle school choir and I did community musicals as an adult.  I’ve secretly harbored this deep desire to sing the National Anthem in front of a gigantic crowd.  (Let it be known that the National Anthem is my favorite song and one of the most difficult songs to sing!)  I almost got the chance when I was working as a TV news anchor in Utica.

Hubby was friends with the owner of the now-defunct Mohawk Valley Prowlers, a UHL team.  I was set to sing on “Boy Scout” night which apparently was a big crowd.  I practiced.  I met with a music director (I should really find him and get an honest assessment of what he thought of my abilities).  And fortunately for all involved, I never did take the stage.  (The team closed down shop before my big night!)

I eventually left Utica to work in Boston and started watching American Idol.  I remember watching in horror when I realized all those people who thought they could sing were awful.  And right then and there I decided – I could have been one of those folks.  I actually believed my car/shower singing prowess translated into superstar material.  That’s when I swore off karaoke (though it was never really my thing) and reduced my public singing to the occasional “Happy Birthday” tune.  Even when the video game “Guitar Hero” and “Rock Band” became popular with my niece and nephew – I always relegated myself to an instrument.

For Christmas this year my niece, Elyssa, got “Band Hero.”  She was super excited and really, really wanted me to play.  (And I love her dearly!)  Since my other nieces, Sarah and Grace, had already taken the drum and guitar, I was left with the microphone.

Apparently I was so loud, so horrendous, my nephew, LJ, came down to the basement with my camera to document the assault I was conducting on their auricular nerves.

(Friends, watch with cautions, it’s bad!)

The Need for Speed

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

This is what happened at the end of my Richard Petty Driving Experience (RPDE) where I got to drive a real stock car around Lowe’s Motor Speedway for eight laps – I wrecked!  (Besure to watch last video in this post… the commentary by my friend Mike is hilarious!)

But I think you need to know the back story before you can really appreciate what happened here.

I have a huge crush on NASCAR.  It started when we moved to Charlotte more than three years ago. (I rooted for Casey Mears for three years but switched to Danica Patrick this year!)  I can’t say I love it like a real fan but I’m definitely fascinated by everything NASCAR – the racing, drivers, and just the fanfare and experience surrounding the sport.  So when hubby got me the RPDE for Christmas, it’s fair to say my crush went into overdrive.

On Sunday, my friend Julie (she got the RPDE as a wedding gift) and I arrived at Lowe’s Motor Speedway and we were pumped!  Within 45 minutes, the crew had suited us up (in what I called our costumes), told us everything we needed to know in order to drive these high performance stock cars, how to escape in case of an emergency, what not to do, what to do, how to drive fast, and of course to be sure and have fun!

Julie was more subdued at the start.  She stalled but rest assured the minute she got out of pit row, she kicked it into overdrive, leaving everyone in the dust.  Her top speed was 140 miles per hour.  Let’s just say, don’t mess with Julie, she can drive!

I whole-heartedly believed I would excel.  I had visions of grandeur!  But in reality I was more like granny behind the wheel.  My driving instructor flashed his green light for me the entire ride – urging me to pick up the pace.  My knuckles were white and my usual jubilant self was silenced by how crazy it was that I was flying around the track.

Don’t get me wrong, I had a ton of fun and my top speed was 119 miles per hour.  But I did crash.  When everyone asked me what happened all I could say was, “I don’t know!  I was really overwhelmed!”  (BTW – I walked away unharmed!)

In retrospect, the Richard Petty Driving Experience was AWESOME!  It has also given me an even bigger crush on NASCAR!  I now think the drivers and pit crew are basically gods!

Follow Friday Friend

Friday, February 19th, 2010

Follow Friday is a modern social media vernacular for suggesting a person for other Twitter users to follow.  You follow?  One of my favorite Twitterers is Bill Voth.  We worked together at WSOC-TV where he’s the weekend sports anchor.  Bill’s originally from Cleveland, went to school at Syracuse University and loves to play football and basketball.  (I know, it sounds like a he’s a dating show contestant but ladies, he’s taken!)  The coolest part about Bill right now, he just got back from a sportsman’s dream, the Olympics in Vancouver. 

Bill spent 6 days in Western Canada where he did some “new media” reporting. Let me give you some background so you can appreciate how cool Bill is then I’ll let Bill share how he accomplished this feat in Vancouver. 

For the most part, a TV news crew consists of a reporter and a photographer.  Smaller stations have reporters shooting their own video while network folks (think Jake Tapper or Andrea Mitchell) usually come with a photographer, live truck operator, audio person and producer.  (If the big guns roll out, think Brian Williams or Katie Couric, they have the aforementioned crew along with staging, tons of gear and advance people.)  Anyway back to Bill. (And you have to watch until the end for his run in with Tom Brokaw!)

Here’s a look at one of six reports Bill filed from Vancouver — all by using his iPhone.

What Bill did in Vancouver is a testament to how news is changing.  We, consumers of news, want to hear the information now (with platforms like Twitter), have confirmation from a trusted source (with local, evening, or cable news), and then we want to get more information on the topics that interested us the most (with the internet). 

And Bill is kind of doing it all.  So on this Follow Friday, lookout for Bill.  He’ll have interesting sports tidbits on Twitter followed by more details on his evening sportscast.    As for me, hopefully my blog can be a fun part of this new media diagram.  A place to get that slice of life that might make you laugh, smile, or think – Hmm, I didn’t know that.

Swearing off Swearing for Lent

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

This year for Lent, I’m giving up swearing.  If you know me, you know this will be a challenging 40 days.  If you don’t, I submit for you Exhibit #1: Hubby.

Exhibit #2: Twitter

@SusanTran – It came to me – finally! For Lent I’m giving up swearing. If you know me well, you know this will be an interesting 40 days!

@TiffanyMWright @susantran I wish you luck- but unfortunately it’s part of your daily vocabulary. But best of luck!

I’m giving up cursing for two reasons.  First, we have some little people who are on the cusp of learning to talk.  I’m around my friends’ children, Gianna and Ashton, quite often.  I think it would be frowned upon if their first words were “beep” and “bleep beep!”

The second reason, I always give up something for Lent.  Well since 2001, I’ve been forgoing something I enjoy.  It started that spring when I went to visit hubby’s (then-fiance) grandmother.  Mema was 93.   She didn’t care if you were black, white, or purple, so long as you were Catholic.  Born and raised Buddhist, I sensed a problem.  I really wanted Mema to like and accept me.  It was during the Lenten season when I first met her and my opening line was, “Guess what I’m giving up for Lent?  Shopping.”  Problem solved.  I didn’t lie, she didn’t question and I’ve been giving up something for Lent ever since. 

I plan on being successful at this endeavor.  So I’ve thought about some replacement words:  Fudgesicle! Poop! Darn! Gee whiz! Pumpkin! Almadinger! Bunkle! Potstick! Shazam! Costume! Cotton! Sugar muffin! Golly! Fluffer gizzard! Pickle! Stinker! And an oldie but goody – Gosh willikers!!!  I wanted to feel more comfortable about having more options, so I visited my friends at Paper Skyscraper and Uptown Magazine for ideas.

Listen, it’s 40 days and nights.  So if you could do me a solid and leave me a comment or tweet me some more replacement words, I’d love you for it!

Funny is as Funny Does!

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

You should know this about me: I am not funny.  I have a good sense of humor.  I love to laugh.  I’m great as an audience member because I guffaw easily and with great gusto.  But sadly, all that does not make me funny.

I am surrounded by funny people.  Hubby is quick witted and funny.  My four close guy friends: Eric, Mike, Brian, and Chad (I know, they sound like a boy band) are hilarious.  They often all try to top each other in group emails and I’m in awe of their humor.  I want to compete, to be at the same comedic level, so I enrolled myself in an improv class.

So far in class we’ve learned various improv games, character and object work, how to connect with scene partners, and the giving gifts of information.  I honestly thought I’d be really good at improv.  I’m outgoing, not easily embarrassed, self-deprecating, and a goofball.  But here’s another admission: I kinda suck at it.  No, I actually do suck at it.  This is what my improv teacher, Keli Semelsberger at Charlotte Comedy Theater, wrote me when I asked for ‘extra-help,’ “The brain is a muscle and you are using it in a new way, so it will take time to develop that skill.  You’ll get it.”  It drives me nuts because I’m usually a quick study, an overachiever used to getting good grades.  But in this class, I’m squeaking by!  I know the problem, I think too much into it.  I’m not freeing my mind!  I desperately want to be funny, so I analyze, probe, and ponder ways in which I can be.

Class wraps up in a couple of weeks.  If I’m still not funny by then, I’m considering a stand-up class.  I’m going to be funny, damn it!

Mustaches are Magical

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

If you think mustaches are somehow creepy, old fashioned or just for men with fire trucks or police cars – think again!  Mustaches are sexy (well at least in this case they are)!  And the men I’ve met through Mustaches for Kids are hip, handsome, fun, and young professionals.

Mustaches for Kids started three years ago.  Our friend Katie is the east region’s “head-honcha” of DonorsChoose.org, an online platform where teachers post much needed classroom projects and regular folks help fund them.  Katie needed a fundraiser for DonorsChoose.org and thought mustaches would be fun!  Our core group of 10 jumped on board, some begrudgingly.  We thought we’d get a few friends to grow and we’d raise some money.  That first year, the “few friends” became 70 young men.  And “some money” turned into $55,000.  What was most amazing – we tapped into a new, otherwise unengaged group of young men and introduced them to philanthropy.  The majority of the men were in their early 20’s to 30’s, unmarried and without children.  In all likelihood, they would not have started giving back to their community, least of all to the public school system, for another 10 years. 

The first year, we enticed guys to grow with the prizes.  The best and worst ‘staches win free beer for a year.  This year, Dan Black, who won for best ‘stache didn’t even know there was a prize.  In year three, we’ve found the men who are part of Mustaches for Kids did it for the camaraderie (we get together at a local bar every Thursday for four weeks), for the kids, and I guess because it’s silly.  And thanks to our guys, they got 1,092 people to donate, raising more than $58,000 to help more than 26,000 Charlotte-Mecklenburg students in high-need classrooms.  (And the money and matching funds are still coming in!)

(you can see more pictures from ‘Stache Bash 2010 here!)

Through this experience, I’ve learned there are really two types of men out there: those who will look a bit foolish and grow a mustache to raise money for a charitable endeavor and those who won’t.  I like hanging out with the guys who will.  They’re more fun and they’re conscientious enough to care about others a little bit more than caring about their appearance.

Valentine’s Day 2010

Monday, February 15th, 2010

I like Valentine’s Day.  I always have.  It’s mainly because I really like a day dedicated to romance and I love being the recipient of flowers.  Not roses!  I love gerbera daisies and tulips.

In high school, all the clubs would sell $1 carnations with notes attached and they’d deliver them in 1st period.  I loved hearing my named called.  Most were from my girlfriends.  We liked to send flowers to each other.  But sometimes it was from a boy I was dating and sometimes it was from an anonymous boy, which was all the more fun as it provided my girlfriends and me endless chatter during lunch.

In college, I loved seeing bouquets of flowers at the guard shack awaiting delivery.  Because I’ve always been a pretty outspoken, blunt person I made it clear to boys I was dating that I liked flowers on Valentine’s Day.  So I often had flowers awaiting me.

The best thing nowadays is to have flowers delivered to the office.  My husband thinks it’s silly (though he sends me gorgeous arrangements every year) and some women think it’s frivolous.  But I love the smell of fresh cut flowers sitting on my drab desk.  It takes the stale air of a newsroom and transforms it into fragrant, decedent office.

But this year, Valentine’s Day was a Sunday and hubby had a BIG plan!  A bit of pretext first.  One, we have a core group of 5 couple friends.  We all love Panther game tailgates, charitable endeavors, eating, and drinking.  Two, my hubby loves to cook.  Three, we do not like going out to eat on Valentine’s Day.  So for the third year in a row we had a dinner for ten at our house.  And right after we finished our delicious meal of grilled flank steak with a red wine reduction, cauliflower steaks drizzled with caper vinaigrette, and Israeli couscous – a barbershop quartet walked into our home, with roses in hand, and started to sing.  It sent five grown women into a tizzy of squeals.


It’s fair to say, I love fresh cut flowers, but live music trumps fresh flowers.  Happy Valentine’s Day!