RIP January 2017! Did anyone else have a pretty good first month of the year, state-of-the-country aside? I am most proud of the blog relaunch this month (am I allowed to call it that), and have set up some social meeds for supplemental engagement:
If you’re into Twitter, can we please set up a video conference to go over what Twitter is good for besides public transit updates, keeping tabs on celebrity fights, and seeing what The Donald has to say about SNL? I’m afraid to tweet because that’s always how they pin the murder on the perp in Dateline episodes, and who wants to leave a trail like that?
I know the title of this post says “round-up” but since I only had four posts in January there isn’t much to actually…round up. So instead, let’s look back at five things that happened on January 31st throughout history:
Jan 31, 1949: first soap opera airs, titled These Are My Children. The program was marketed to moms and sponsored by soap giants like Proctor & Gamble, and so the term “soap opera” was born (that explains soap but not really opera?). As this was most likely the foundation for my own, personal soaps (Real Housewives of Anywhere), I am grateful to 1949.
Jan 31, 1961: a chimp named Ham is successfully retrieved from space after being sent there to see if humans could survive space travel. Not sure why they didn’t include a cat on this important mission, but three cheers for Ham.
Jan 31, 1971: Apollo 14 is launched. I’m only including this because Apollo 13 is in my top five favorite movies of all time, and it’s a good reminder of the five reasons we should all re-watch this pillar of film: Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Bill Paxton, Ed Harris and Gary Sinise (<–dream space team. I wonder if Ham was lucky enough to have a similar crew).
Jan 31, 2014: Oldest flamingo named “Greater” dies at age 83 in Australia. Bummer!
Jan 31, 2017: my printer is officially broken and OfficeMax doesn’t care.
See you in February when the sun will hopefully reacquaint itself with Naperville.
We’re going to flash back to last Friday today, when I had the privilege of joining the Tiesta Tea team at their 2nd Annual Spread the Warmth event in Chicago. A dear friend of mine works at Tiesta Tea (the fastest growing specialty tea company in the U.S.) and she is a daily inspiration to me, as well as the master organizer of Spread the Warmth. Check out her video bio here.
Some Tiesta background: the company specializes in natural loose leaf tea that comes in 45 flavors and five “functions,” – energizer, slenderizer, immunity, relaxer and eternity (anti-aging). Yes please to all of those, right? You can drink it, you can bake with it, it’s great. Two super nice Midwestern guys began the start-up in 2010 and are making waves in the tea industry. Fun story: Tiesta Tea recently started selling their product in bulk at retailers like Jewel. Luckily, I have an insider at Jewel and am pleased to be able to relay the following drama:
Tiesta Tea calls Jewel to see if they need another palette of tea (they do not). A young, apathetic worker in the grocery department who most likely doesn’t know what Tiesta Tea is, answers the phone. In order to end the call he has foolishly answered, he says yes, sure, they do need another palette, whatevs, send it over, kthxbye. A few days later, a huge shipment of Tiesta Tea arrives at the Jewel dock. It is received by the head of the grocery department who immediately becomes furious that he now has to deal with an extra shipment of tea. Without investigation, he decides Tiesta Tea is to blame and gives my good friend a call on the horn to let her know badly she has messed up. He then calls my Jewel insider to let him know the situation is “handled,” and my insider patiently informs him that the Tiesta girl is none other than his sister-in-law*. My Tiesta friend then gets an apology call from the grocery manager and the world begins to spin again.
But back to Spread the Warmth. Spread the Warmth is an event that gives back to the Chicago community; it sends volunteers out to various locations around the city with thermoses of Tiesta Tea, piles of donated coats, and hundreds of warmth kits. We were sent to women’s shelters, soup kitchens, underpasses, and churches. I’m not sure who left warmer – the people at my location with new coats and socks, or me with a full heart (<–this cheese is dairy free). Check out the following items that were distributed this year:
+ 250 coats
+ 835 water bottles –> donated in part by Jewel-Osco
+ 1230 granola snacks –> donated in part by Jewel-Osco
+ 350 beef jerky packets
+ 392 gloves
+ 450 pairs of socks
+ 200 Sandwiches –> donated in part by Jewel-Osco
+ 200 hygiene kits
+ 300 flashlights
+ 250 hats, scarves & blankets
+ 2,000 cups of tea + 350 total warmth kits
Because of Tiesta Tea, thousands of people in Chicago had a better and warmer Friday night last week, and now will have a warmer winter. It was such a moving experience for me; I need to add more volunteering to my 2017 goals list! I’ve already signed up for Spread the Warmth 2018, and if you’re in Chicago and free on January 19th next year, sign up here to join me!
Do we have any other Kathy Griffin fans in the house? I understand she can be polarizing, so no hard feelings if you’re on the other end of “fan.” At her book signing in 2009 she told me I looked “very Stella McCartney,” which I now believe is not true (unless she was referring to my Forever 21 blazer?) but I was speechless with joy nonetheless. Fast forward to January 2017 and I am reading Kathy’s second book, which is an index of all the celebrities she’s got juice on. Highs: Cher uses excessive emojis and Jack Nicholson is just as weird as you think he is. Lows: Jon Hamm is a douche and Demi Lovato instigates cat fights.
I, too, have celebrity juice, so I figured it would be fun to create my own personal celebrity index. Let’s get started:
Crooner, Canadian, knows how to light a concert
I saw Michael’s show a while ago, and does that man knows how to put on a performance or what. The stage lighting! The song selections! That tailored suit! I was going to let everyone in on the fact that Michael is super tall (he appeared thusly on stage), but I just googled it and he’s a regular 5’10 so never mind.
Comic, redhead, thinks I’m Stella McCartney
A picture is worth 1,000 words.
Line, Florida Georgia
Confused country band
Another celebrity run-in via concert. When I saw FGL I was expecting some stellar American heartland tunes sung by dudes in flannel. I should have done more research! These bros have Vidal Sassoon hair and ripped their tank tops off as the finale! I’mmmm pretty sure Garth never did that. I know these guys had a collab with Nelly and everything, but that “street cred” didn’t translate to a bunch of people drinking Keystone Light. However, if given free tickets I’d see them again. They have some real hits.
Miss Bliss, Donna Murphy in The King and I
Hayley Mills was the female lead in The King and I when my parents took me to see the show in ’97. All I remember is Hayley had on the biggest hoop skirt I have ever seen or even knew existed, and I loved her. That dress shaped all my future dreams about having a wedding dress that was made entirely of ruffles and would not accommodate a groom while walking down the aisle.
Actual clipping of the wedding dress of my dreams, preserved from childhood. You can see I rated it a 5.9 on an unknown scale.
Donny Osmond is and will always be the best thing to happen to Joseph and his technicolor dreamcoat. Dreamboat, ifyouwill. I saw Donny twice (thank you mom and dad) and then years later saw Ace Young take on the biblical hero. Ace (former American Idol contestant and second best Joseph) was fine, but there is Only One Donny.
O’Malley, George (T.R. Knight)
Actor, bus victim, nice guy
Closest celebrity contact I’ve had to-date. I served George O’Malley a Guinness while cocktail waitressing at the Kingston Mines. He was with his sister and they were drunkenly celebrating his birthday with a little Chicago jazz. He had a Guinness, who cares what she had, and I had zero clue who George O’Malley was. Another server asked me if I could believe he was there and I was like, “yeah I know, I can’t believe anyone is here,” and she was like, “No! That’s GEORGE O’MALLEY from GREY’S ANATOMY!!!!” and I played it cool like I knew what that TV show was about. (It’s about doctors, and O’Malley is/was a fan favorite who SPOILER gets killed by a bus in season six). This run-in happened halfway through season three when I still thought T.R. Knight was an R&B singer. I don’t remember the tip so it must have been normal.
T.R. Knight as George O’Malley
Kingston Mines in Chicago. Open from 8PM – 4AM.
Actress, in a play I can’t remember anything about
The ‘rents took us to see a play in NYC during a family trip and Amanda Peet was the star. I don’t remember anything about the play except that Amanda was in it and the cast asked for donations to a good cause afterward. I must have asked dad for a fiver, because I waited in line for Amanda’s charity bucket and when I put my cash in I said, “Hi! GREAT JOB!!!” and she looked me right in the eyes and said in the most sincere, border-line too-serious-way, “Thank you.” I exited without incident.
Spears, Britney…..’s backup dancer
I saw Britney in concert in 2008 and it was incredible. I was so nervous about this once-in-a-lifetime event that I left my flip-phone at home, worried I would get kicked out for taking illicit photos of the troubled Princess of Pop. This was the period in B’s life when she was no longer dancing, just walk-strutting around the stage, too medicated to do all the fancy hand choreography she does today. In the two hour performance, she executed exactly one real dance move, a stationary leg lift, and it brought.down.the.house. Her mere presence, let alone in leg-lift mode, was almost too much for my brain. Show highlight: all the male backup dancers got down in holes in the stage for one number, each peeking out of their little hole, and Britney skipped around with a hammer bopping them all on the head like the arcade game Whac-A-Mole. Signs of a lost and misguided superstar, or brilliant dance routine? After the show I got to meet one of the male back-up dancers. He told me he was going to “catch dinner with Brit” and then they were on to the next city. My life has been complete since.
Comic, Vegas visitor
While in Vegas for a friend’s wedding, we were eagle-eyed for celebrities walking around the casino floor. Just when I was getting worried we would leave Sin City sans celebrity run-in, we heard a distinct voice over by the baccarat. Guys, Wanda Sykes sounds exactly like Wanda Sykes in real life. She’s tiny (5’2) and appeared to be rolling deep, because I don’t recall getting a good long glimpse of her as she walked out of the casino. It was exciting to see/hear a celebrity at close range, but nothing beat the high that trip of the digital roulette machine.
Here ends the index. Has anyone else had a celebrity run-in?