Friday, May 28, 2010

Just Warming Up

The Fiesta de San Fermin is fast approaching -- July 6-14, along with the fabled "Running of the Bulls". (You can read my previous post on this subject here.)

Just to get you in the mood for this traditional Spanish sport, here are scenes from a bullfight in Madrid earlier this week, featuring the great matador, Julio Arpicio.

The matador.

The Bull.

The dance.

The slip.

The contact.

The follow-through.

(Yes, the bull's horn has pierced Arpicio's chin
and is protruding through his mouth.)

Arpicio lives to fight another day.

(The bull doesn't.)

And now you see why people love this sport!

Monday, May 24, 2010


I am not a tennis fan. Never have been. Never will be!

But I know Venus Williams when I see her.

And this weekend, it seems we saw A LOT of Venus!

Okay, Venus, I get it. You're playing at the French Open.

Give a little nod to French Culture...

Moulin Rouge...

Toulouse Lautrec...

Can Can dancers...

I get it.

All in great fun!

And I get it that you want to be known as a cutting edge fashion designer as well as being the #2 women's tennis player in the world. You've shown us that before.

Like earlier this year in Miami with this little boudoir number.

Or did you just wake up late and didn't have time to change?

Frankly, I don't care what you wear on the court since, as I said, I am not a tennis fan. I think tennis is boring.

Yes, even when played in lingerie.

But here are a couple words of unsolicited advice to you that I think you should hear:

First, be original. The can-can thing has been done. Let's move on.

Available at any adult costume shop.

Or so I've been told.

And second, as any fashion designer will tell you -- and as the following pictures demonstrates...

... the proper undergarments make the dress.

Even the appearance of undergarments would help!

(To my more prudish readers, let me assure you that Ms. Williams is wearing flesh-colored underwear in this photo.)

What? No garter?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

AVP News

Wait a minute... is it still news if it's 8 months late?

Man, I feel like such a bad fan!

Just the other night I realized I haven’t heard much from Kerri Walsh recently. I've been busy with other things -- Notre Dame fired Charlie Weiss, the New Orleans Saints won the Super Bowl, Jimmy Buffett played Nashville -- and I just haven't checked in on my favorite beach volleyball player.

Have I mentioned I met her in Long Beach a couple years ago?

(We ARE standing on level ground. Shaddup!)

In fact, the last I saw of Kerri was on that failed television travesty, “Shaq Vs.”, in which Kerri and partner, Misty May Treanor, played beach volleyball against Shaquille O’Neal and Todd Rogers. The women won, 11-6, 11-8.

It was obvious however, that, although Kerri got her body back pretty quickly after the birth of her first child, Joey, she was not yet in fighting form. Her AVP outings last year were not up to par. She played in six tournaments, took only one second place and one third place, and ended the year ranked 41st. (The previous seven years she finished as the #1 ranked female beach volleyball player of the AVP.)

Without Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor heating up the sand, things grew quiet out on the beach. I assumed Kerri was taking time off to be a mommy.

And deservedly so.

Kerri, you know I'd be your friend on Facebook... if I was on Facebook!

But I did a Google search and discovered that Kerri and hubby, Casey Jennings, have been busy off the sand, creating Little Bundle of Joy #2. In fact, Kerri is scheduled to deliver at the end of this month!

Holy Cow! Talk about out-of-the-loop!

And you call yourself a fan!

Stay tuned for more information as this story unfolds!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Any Press Is Good Press

On Sunday night, NBC aired the annual “Miss USA” pageant.


I thought this year’s pageant would pass without much ado – I mean, really, who watches these things anymore? The whole “Miss USA” concept – originally just a bikini contest in Long Beach, CA – almost dried up and blew away before Donald Trump got involved and infused the pageant with a new gust of PR.

Perhaps learning from all the attention devoted to racy pics of last year’s “Miss California”, the “Miss USA” pageant cranked up the PR machine and published “glam shots” of the 51 contestants in advance of the pageant.

By the way, the glam shots are available for purchase from the Miss USA pageant website – wallet-size, 8X10, or even a life-size cardboard cut-out!

And since those shots are on the internet now, they will follow around these 51 women (winners AND losers) for the rest of their lives!

As you might imagine, the pics started a buzz.

“The “Miss USA” pageant is starting to look like a Victoria’s Secret catalogue.”

“Fox News” did a segment; “Good Morning America” did a segment. A few bloggers weighed in.

But that was not enough for “the Donald”. So, on Sunday night in Las Vegas, Nevada, Rima Fakih was crowned “Miss USA.”

Not to disparage Rima at all – because she is gorgeous! – but something smells funny here. This looks like an attempt at artificially-created controversy in order to generate more press for the pageant and for “the Donald”.

Where’s the controversy? To begin with, we already have photos of Rima winning a (fully clothed) pole-dance contest in 2007.

But that’s been done before. So what’s the controversy?

Rima Fakih is a 24-year-old Lebanese immigrant who moved to America with her family when she was a child.

And isn’t it interesting that in 2010, as America continues to (wrongly) send troops to fight against Muslim extremists in the Middle East, as many continue to (wrongly) equate the word "Muslim" with "terrorist", and as the President of the United States is regularly (but wrongly) derided as a "closet Muslim", the “Miss USA” pageant would crown a Muslim woman?

Well, not your typical Muslim woman.

Good little Muslim girls don’t parade around on television dressed like this!

Come to think of it, good little Christian girls shouldn’t either!

Okay, who remembers last year's First Runner Up? 

Our new “Miss USA” doesn’t try to hide her heritage – how could she, with a name like Rima Fakih? She reports receiving her education at Catholic schools, and that her family celebrates both Muslim and Christian holidays.

So we have our first Lebanese-American, Christian/Muslim “Miss USA”.

I love America!

Well, “the Donald” got the response he was hoping for: outrage.

Blogger Daniel Pipes called it “an odd form of affirmative action.”

Gretchen Carlson, co-anchor of “Fox and Friends” and former Miss America, declared with her usual inflammatory innocence, “A lot of people are going to parse this today and ask did [Miss Oklahoma] lose and become first runner up because she supported the Arizona immigration law and did the Muslim American win because of the PC society that we find ourselves in.”

'I'm just sayin'...'

Debbie Schlussel, a conservative blogger, frequent cable news guest, and friend of Rush Limbaugh, claims (with no proof necessary) that “at least three of Fakih’s relatives are currently top officials in Hezbollah and that at least eight Fakih family members were Hezbollah terrorists.”

Okay, tell me, Ms. Schlussel: Just where do you think Rima is going to hide a bomb?

But the pageant has served its purpose. It has given Donald Trump and pageant officials the PR they so desperately crave.

And it has given me the opportunity to post more photos of scantily-clad women here at “Banana Winds” for your enjoyment.

Thank you.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


(Cue the scary music.)

Karen came home from work last week and said a rumor was going around that the Piranha from The Aquarium Restaurant at Opry Mills had escaped during the recent flooding in Nashville.

According to the story, the aquarium burst and the fish escaped.

Obviously, they go on to report, the salt water fish (sharks, etc.) died, but the piranha are fresh-water fish and are now swimming around in the 2 feet of murky water inside the mall.

Workers beware!

My immediate response was, "C'mon! Nobody believes that!"

Karen came home yesterday saying that some of her co-workers are still talking about the piranhas at Opry Mills.

So I did a little research.

Thanks, Internet!

It seems that a report broadcast on WKRN in Nashville did, in fact, announce that the aquarium burst and the piranhas escaped. This information was supposedly taken from a police report.

I still say, "Hogwash!" (Actually, I say something else, but I thought I should clean it up a little for the more gentle readers out there.)

I have been to the Aquarium Restaurant at Opry Mills.

"I know Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. You, sir, are no Jack Kennedy."

Oops. Sorry. Time Warp.

The Aquarium is was a pretty amazing place, with a large, curved aquarium right in the middle of the restaurant. DIners can could sit and watch sharks swim past as they eat ate their meals.

Unfortunately, due to the curve of the glass and the lighting in the room, the time we ate there I became nauseous (sea sick?) and never returned.

But the glass of the aquarium is so thick, I still seriously doubt that the tank would burst. Two feet of water is relatively insignificant in that sense.

Futhermore, even if piranhas did escape (from a smaller, freshwater tank), the cold Cumberland River water would most likely kill them.

I know some species of Piranha have been found in Wisconsin... strange, but true... but they die when the weather turns cold.

And, despite what Hollywood would have you believe, if by some chance they did survive, clean-up workers who might encounter a couple of these fish would be in relatively little danger.

So I kept searching and found the definitive answer from Nashville's "The Tennessean" newspaper. Landry's, the parent company of The Aquarium Restaurant, reports that their aquariums are fine; they did lose some fish as the pumps failed when the power failed. But experts have been on the scene since Monday of last week tending to the remaining fish.

I know it is hard to correct misinformation coming from the media. It is even harder to squash the story once it has become an urban legend -- especially one that has made it to the internet -- but, OMG!, let's try to use some common sense out there, okay?

Monday, May 10, 2010


The great Lena Horne passed away yesterday at the age of 92. It was our loss.

Truth is, I didn't know who Lena Horne was until she appeared on an episode of "Sanford and Sons" back in 1973. I will always remember Fred Sanford meeting her for the first time, clutching his heart, and shouting, "The Horne!"

I became a fan pretty quickly. I even made Karen sit down and watch "Stormy Weather" (1943) with me. I loved the wedding scene. But we were already married so I couldn't insist on recreating it for our big day!

Sadly, in her early days with MGM studios, Lena was given mostly inconsequential roles that could easily be removed when shown in the segregated south."Stormy Weather" was unique in it's day in that the plot revolved around two black entertainers in love, rather than placing them in subservient roles (ie. butlers and maids).

It also provided a showcase for great talents like "Fats" Waller and Cab Calloway.

I so want a suit like that!

Lena's last big-screen appearance was in the movie-musical "The Wiz" (1978) with Michael Jackson, et al.

That may be why she left Hollywood!

In whatever setting, she was captivating. I caught her on "The Muppet Show" and "Sesame Street" (1976), and the Cosby Show (1985). 

But Lena Horne was more than just an entertainer. She was a trail-blazer. As part of the USO during WWII, she refused to perform for segregated gatherings of troops. The Army's answer was to allow white German POWs to join with the black soldiers for her shows. So she left the USO.

In 1963, she joined with Martin Luther King Jr. in the March on Washington. And she met President John F. Kennedy in the White House just two days before his assassination.

In her later years, she could be found in nightclubs, on television, on Broadway, and in recording studios. So while she will be missed, her memory will live on in so many ways!

A funny side note: in 2003, ABC announced plans for a biography of Lena Horne, with Janet Jackson in the starring role. But after Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" at the 2004 Super Bowl, Lena put an end to the project.

In Memory
Lena Mary Calhoun Horne
June 30, 1917 - May 9, 2010

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

...And It Rained...

“And it rained, It was nothing really new;
And it blew, we've seen all that before;
And it poured, the Earth began to strain,
Pontchartrain leaking through the door, tides at war.”

Jimmy Buffett sang these words on his album "Take the Weather with You", describing the city of New Orleans during the 2005 Hurricane Katrina.

After Saturday night in Nashville, I am expecting a new song! It wasn’t a hurricane, but… OMG!

Karen and I traveled to Nashville on Saturday to meet up with some friends to see Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefers in concert at the Bridgestone Arena.

“And it rained…”

We were awakened at 4 a.m. Saturday morning in Memphis by the blare of tornado warning sirens. Storms were coming. So much for a good night’s sleep before making a 4-hour trip.

“It was nothing really new…”

The Memphis weather forecast threatened 3”-9” of rain. That seemed preposterous, even if it was the weekend for the Memphis in May Music Festival. So, although the radar looked ominous and the rain was heavy (an understatement), we headed east. We had to bypass one portion of I-40 near Brownsville; the floods were coming.

“And it blew…”

In Jackson, TN, the sirens were again wailing.

“We’ve seen all that before…”

Jackson has a history of tornadoes:
-January 1999
-November 2002
-May 2003
-February 2008

In fact, I don’t know why anyone would still choose to live there. We certainly didn’t linger. Karen navigated as I drove, our IPhone providing ongoing radar shots. We drove through some more warning areas with an eye to the sky.

Yes, I know, you can’t always see the tornado for the storm.

“And it poured…”

As we neared Nashville, I noted the westbound lane of I-40 was flooded. I made a mental note to check on that before returning.

With white knuckles and new indentations made on the steering wheel, we made it safely to our destination, and to the concert.

“The Earth began to strain…”

As planned, we stayed overnight. After what we had driven through to get to Nashville, I wasn’t about to attempt driving back through it after a couple Margaritas.

That, too, is an understatement.

As we awoke on Sunday morning, news reports indicated I-40 was still flooded at two points; we would not get through. Not knowing the condition of other roads – better to be stuck in Nashville than in Bucksnort – and with the rain still falling, we made the decision to extend our visit to Music City USA and try again on Monday.

From our vantage point on the 17th floor of the downtown Sheraton, we watched local news reports all day long. The water was rising all around the city. The Cumberland River crested on Monday at 52 feet, 12 feet above flood stage – the highest mark since the Great Flood of 1937.

Lower Broadway was flooded. The bars were closed. LP Field, home of the Tennessee Titans, was flooded. Opryland Hotel was evacuated and stood in 10 feet of water. Even Bridgestone Arena, where the concert had been held, flooded on Sunday.

Worst mis-information given by newscasters filling air-time: On Sunday, a newscast showed aerial shots of the General Jackson, the famous steamboat docked near the Opryland Hotel. From their vantage point in the studio, the newscasters pronounced, “It looks like the General Jackson has broken free from its moorings.” Meaning, the grand showboat was adrift on the Cumberland River! This announcement was repeated a couple times over the next hour. Of course, it was not true, and they had to correct their error later that afternoon.

Sunday morning, the Sheriff asked the hotel to do what they could to encourage people to stay. Appeals were repeatedly made for people to stay off the roads unless absolutely necessary.

Of course, many found it “absolutely necessary” to get out, and they got stuck when they drove into deep water. More than 20 people lost their lives as a result of the storms. Hundreds of other stupid people tied up rescue crews all weekend as they wandered out to see the flooding.

And yes, some obviously just wanted to get on TV. Sigh.

Sunday afternoon, the hotel shut off the hot water, most likely to discourage water use; the city’s sewage treatment plants couldn’t handle the flood waters. On Monday morning, the governor issued an appeal to use water only to brush teeth and cook – the last water treatment plant was in danger of flooding.

Biggest understatement made by a newscaster filling air-time: “This is not the good kind of rain.”

We decided to leave on Monday morning, getting out however possible. I-40 was still closed. It did not re-open until Monday afternoon, and then only partially.

Side note: The Memphis Redbirds were supposed to play in Nashville on Saturday and Sunday. The games were rained out. The team managed to find its way home in time for Monday night’s game.

So we took the only other route available to us – I-24 to Paducah. We had a nice lunch with my mom there, then headed south on Hwy. 45E.

At Greenfield, TN, we were stopped; water covered the highway. Again relying on our IPhone mapping system, we tried a back-road to connect with Hwy. 45W. Flooded. We tried another road. Flooded.

I thought I could hear banjo music…

A “local” told us to take 124 to 79. What with his bib overalls and showing no signs of teeth, we assumed he knew his way around the area. But we found Hwy. 79 flooded at Atwood. Fortunately, a FedEx delivery van was behind us. The driver told us to follow her and she would get us to Milan, TN.

“When you absolutely, positively have to get there overnight.”

And we did. Ten hours after we left Nashville, we arrived home. Dorothy was right: There is no place like home!

Addendum: In early hours of Tuesday morning, the power grid failed in the downtown area, including the AT&T ("Batman") building, Ryman Auditorium, Bridgestone Arena, and yes, the Sheraton Hotel! Power is not expected to be restored until the end of the week!

And the concert? It was great! I think the weather dampened the usual pre-concert tail-gate parties, so the crowd was a little more sober; I only encountered one person who didn’t have “the spirit of Aloha”. He seemed to have had too much to drink, and couldn't get his next drink fast enough.

Although, in his defense, the Bridgestone Arena did not seem prepared for the descent of the Parrotheads. While "Landshark Lager" was readily available, Margaritas were only served at the full-service bars, which were staffed by only two bartenders at a time. 

The concert didn’t seem to have a theme, Jimmy wasn’t hawking a new album or anything like that – it was just a giant sing-a-long, which was a lot of fun!

So would we do it again? Absolutely. As Jimmy Buffett sings,
“If a hurricane doesn't leave you dead
It will make you strong;
Don't try to explain it just nod your head,
Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On.”

[For pictures and links to pictures of the flooding situation in Nashville, check out Hula Girl's blog over at "Growing Older But Not Up". She was also at the concert and has done an excellent job of recounting Saturday night.]