Sitting beside him on the park bench, she tore off a little piece of bread and tossed it.  A dozen mallards feverishly raced to the floating meal.  The water rippled with the sound of quacks and splashing.

“Can I tell you something?”  he asked innocently. 

She looked around and waited for him to continue.

“You’re a much more aggressive kisser than I expected. At first I was a little taken aback, but then it got to be quite a turn on.”

She’d heard this critique before.  “Well now you know.  You might wanna brace yourself next time,” she advised.

“I’ll try to remember that!” he laughed.  “Your lips should come with a warning label.”  He gently brushed back her hair and planted a soft kiss on her neck, just below the ear. 

This time she couldn’t help but blush.  Her eyes closed as she savored the warmth of his tongue.  If only he knew.

There She Is . . .

Hmmm.  I’m thinking of a yearly event. 

Here are some clues.  It’s a winter tradition, which spreads joy across the land, and brings smiles to the faces of little children.  On this one occasion, we are reminded that dreams can come true.  And, it’s just around the corner. 

No, not Christmas.  The Miss America pageant!

You may be wondering why I am so pumped up.  After all, I am a guy.  Guys don’t watch Miss America, right?  Wrong!!

I cannot vouch for my fellow brethren, but this guy understands that the M.A.P. has it all.  Beautiful women?  Check.  Fierce competition?  Check.  Excitement?  Check.  Geography?  Culture?  Controversy?  Check, check, and check.  Good theme music?  Sometimes. 

But, to truly appreciate Miss America, you must get to know the ladies in advance.  That’s the best part.  Each one has unique ambitions, personality, and background.  Like a star football player is a symbol of masculinity, each Miss America contestant is a feminine icon.  And, their positive energy and ability to inspire others is just as worthy of respect as a football player’s ability to evade tacklers and score touchdowns.

The problem is, it is difficult to measure the qualities that make a Miss America.  With football, that’s easy.  You just add up the points at the end of the game, and you see who wins.  But, picking a Miss America is not so simple.  You usually don’t know the score until it’s over.  That’s why it is important to know the contestants before the night of the pageant.  It is a lot more fun to root for the ones you think should win, rather than just stare blankly at the TV as contestants are eliminated.  Otherwise, you might as well be watching a dog show.

Unfortunately, the pageant usually sneaks up on me, and I don’t get a chance to do my homework.  But not this year.  This year, I have familiarized myself with each of the lovely ladies by watching a video clip featuring them expressing their individuality, and by reviewing their profiles on the competition website.  Based on this information, I have narrowed the field of 53 contestants down to 20 who I think should do well in the pageant.  Then, after the pre-competition interviews (which count for 25% of the contestant’s score) are released, I will narrow my list to 15, and rank them.

First, I’ll give you the breakdown.  To ensure I was not unfairly favoring some parts of the country over others, I have made sure that at least ten of the sixteen regions of the United States (see November 1st weblog) are represented.  Accordingly, my top 20 is divided into ten regional representatives and ten “wildcard” candidates.  (You can assume that I was more impressed by a region’s representative than any wild card contestants from that region.  Other than that, they are listed in no particular order.)  Finally, I group most of the remaining contestants into categories, just for fun.

So here they are.  Click the title of the contestant to view her video.



Alaska:  Miss Alaska.  Charming, confident, and blizzard-proof.  My kind of contestant.

The Northeast:  Miss Deleware.  What a heartwarming story.  This young lady had been bald since a young age, but you would never guess that by the gleam in her eye and her uplifting attitude.  She usually competes with a wig, but has also been known to compete (and win) without it.  She is definitely worth rooting for.

The South:  Miss Mississippi.  Great message, great delivery.  A true Southern lady!  I find myself mesmerized by the accent and the smile.  What Southern guy wouldn’t be?

Hawaii:  Miss Hawaii.  The smile, the song, the cute choreography . . . come on, even old man Scrooge is bound to crack a smile.  I want a bobble-head doll of her for my dashboard. 

The Upper Midwest:  Miss Wisconsin.  The All-American Girl.  Batter up!

The Psuedo South:  Miss Virginia.  Very effective use of demonstrative aids.  She cultivated sympathy, but exuded confidence.  A polished presentation!

Big Sky:  Miss South Dakota.  Wow.  Really makes you think.  Another good one to root for.

The West:  Miss Wyoming.  She’s cheerful, and she’s a nurse.  Works for me.

The Rust Belt:  Miss Pennsylvania.  The violin is a nice touch!  The speech was a little sappy, but there’s nothing wrong with that.  This young lady seems like the one who best fits the traditional mold of a Miss America.  It was tough to choose a representative from this region, but her smile won the day.

The Northwest:  Miss Washington.  Another young lady who really captivated my emotions with her openness and sincerity.  When she used one of my favorite words – perseverance – I knew I had just found my Northwest rep.



Miss Arkansas.  Yeah, so maybe I’m a little biased.  But I really like the routine.

Miss New Jersey.  Outstanding!  Original!  I think this was the most effective presentation of all.  A routine baked to perfection, with whip cream and cherry (or more accurately, a balloon crown) on top.

Miss West Virginia.  Okay, what can I say.  I’m a sucker for the slides.  The enthusiasm didn’t hurt, either.  (Although the “Rawwr, baby like animal!!” was maybe a bit much.)

Miss Virgin Islands.  She said it herself: a fabulous floral beauty.  A confident and robust personality, with cultural pride to boot.  

Miss Georgia.  Elegant and laced with smooth Southern culture. This charming routine leaves you with a good taste in your mouth.

Miss Michigan.  Just the right mix of pride and sincerity. The State of Michigan rarely disappoints.

Miss New Hampshire.  At first, the childhood video seemed like somewhat of a cop out.  But she really sold it!  Of course, it didn’t hurt that she was adorable when she was a little girl, or that the video was perfect for the occasion.  She gets the benefit of the doubt on this one.

Miss Colorado.  Do not invite her over for dinner.  She will make you look pathetic in front of your family. 

Miss Ohio.  Articulate and easy on the eyes.  When the costume dropped, so did my jaw.  If only she could stand in front of the camera.

Miss Tennessee.  Somewhere there is a construction worker missing his princess hat.


Now for some other noteworthy contestants . . . .



Miss Texas.  Numbers are on her side.  Can you say, first one to the roulette table?

Miss Oklahoma.  She knows who Tony Romo is . . . . and she might steal his job one day.

Miss Nebraska.  She’s only seventeen!  I know just the perfect theme song for her.  Well, on second thought . . . .

Miss Utah.  Thumbs up for originality!

Miss New Mexico.  Just as relevant, huh?  I’ve got some bad news for her.  The term “Rosie the Riveter” was first used in 1942.

Miss Alabama.  Okay, okay!  I’ll say it.  You’re a phenomenal woman.  Now please let go of my arm.

Miss North Carolina.  Hoo-rah!

Miss Massachusetts.  She graduated from Harvard.  She won two national figure skating titles.  She attends medical school.  She loves children.  She majored in poetry.  And, she can throw down some wicked rhymes.  Sesame Street style.



Miss Montana.  Genius! 

Miss Puerto Rico.  When all else fails, blow kisses.

Miss Kentucky.  When all else fails, tell them you love cheesecake.

Miss District of Columbia.  Nurse?  Nurse??  Help!!

Miss Nevada.  Lord have mercy on the contestant behind her.

Miss Kansas.  Wizard of Oz, Vegas Edition:  Dorthy hits the slots, loses big.  Pawns red slippers for food.  Toto hitches ride home.

Miss Arizona.  Should you watch your children around water?  Always, always, always.

Miss Louisiana.  Didn’t see that coming, did ya?



Miss Minnesota.  If you live in Minnesota, and you see people in your neighborhood wearing crowns, you know why.

Miss North Dakota.  You heard that right.  She got her start as a janitor.  Talk about moving up life’s ladder.

Miss Indiana.  She’s movin’ on up, too.

Miss Vermont.  She’s a believer.



Miss California.  Could be the first to win Miss America and American Idol in the same year.

Miss Idaho.  For the last time, yes, she really talks like that.  Her conversations are like musicals.

Miss Florida.  She knows her ABC’s.  And words that begin with them.

Miss Connecticut.  Clever.

Miss Rhode Island.  The good news?  She can spell Miss America with her fingers.  The bad news?  It’s a Sharpie. 



Miss Oregon.  Don’t feel bad for P.J., Shondrea, or Cassie.  They all got their shot.

Miss New York.  Be real.  Be nerdy.

Miss South Carolina.  She has one foot on each side of the Mason-Dixon.



Miss Maine.  I like the pictures.

Miss Illinois.  In case you couldn’t tell, she’s from southern Illinois.  That’s a compliment.

Miss Missouri.  Spunky and fun-loving.

Miss Maryland.  Right thought, wrong show.



Miss Missouri 2008, Candice Crawford.  Say what you want about his skills on the field, but Tony’s taste in women is unassailable.  First, Jessica Simpson.  Then, Carrie Underwood.  Now?  A former Miss America contestant.  What a sly dog!  Hopefully he’s finally found his kennel.


Okay, so now that you know the contestants, who is your favorite?  I have done my best to pick the ones I thought put their best feet forward in their intro videos.  But, the truth is that they are all winners – literally – with awesome personalities to match.  I hope you had as much fun watching the videos as I had posting them.   ;  ) 



*  Tony Romo is the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys.  You know, the guy who takes the football from between the big guy’s legs, and then tries to throw it to other guys who are wearing the same jersey?  Oh, forget it.  I tried.

My Playlist: A Comeback

Lately I have found myself spending more time on other sites than on my own.  It’s hard to imagine that there are people on Xanga who are even cooler than me, but it’s true.

Well, cool people aside, it’s time for a comeback.  I’m talking about music.

Little do you know, I am a listener of music.  (I know, I am coming out of the closet here.)  Some of you may have suspected this from the autoplay songs that rip through your speakers every time you click on my site.  But, you couldn’t be sure.  Well, I have something I need to tell you.  Your premonitions were right all along.    :  o

Indeed, I have been compiling playlists of songs for years, usually in the dark of night.  *exhales slowly*  It feels so good to finally get this off my chest!

Having made that announcement, I have another one I would like to share with you.  On request from a reader, I have compiled a playlist of songs, my first of 2010.  (And probably my last, judging from the calendar.)  I have arranged the songs in a specific order.  The playlist begins with songs that I consider to be gloomy, or at least reflective.  Then, in the middle of the playlist, the music makes a “comeback,” if you will.  The songs turn more upbeat.  My playlists generally have a purpose, or at least some type of subtle design.

Before you get your hopes up, I must temper your expectations by conceding that most of the list is made up of fairly recent pop songs.  There is nothing earth-shattering here, and probably not much you haven’t already heard.  That said, the beauty is in the selection and sequencing.  So, if you want to truly appreciate the list, it is important to play the songs in order.



1.  Impossible – Shontelle

          My opinion: Best song of 2010.  I get chills from the emotion the artist puts into the song.  A first-class gem.

2.  Just A Dream – Nelly

          Another emotion-packed song.  Good flow.

3.  The Life – Hinder

          This song just came out yesterday.  I always like to put at least one very recent song on my lists, sorta like a date stamp.

4.  Alejandro – Lady Gaga

          Come on.  Lady Gaga?  Easy call.

5.  The Letdown – The White Tie Affair

          This one by my site’s namesake is certain to please.

6.  Don’t You Wanna Stay – Jason Aldean & Kelly Clarkson

           Okay, I gotta sneak at least one country(esque?) song on here.  Plus, it’s a duet with two of my favorite artists of the past decade.

7.  Des Moines – The Drams

          This song has grown on me!  A charming little indy ditty that takes my mind to a place my body has never been.

8.  We R Who We R – Ke$ha

          A modern anthem for youth.  The lyrics seem care-free on paper, but not to the ear; the vibes are down to business. 

9.  OMG – Usher

          Another song that has grown on me over time.  The “pivot song” of the list – it separates the mellow from the upbeat. 

10.  Heartbeat Song – The Futureheads

          The first upbeat song, stolen from another playlist.  (You know who you are.)   &nbsp This heartbeat song is more than just good — it’s the one. ; )

11.  All I Do Is Win – DJ Khaled, et al.

          That’s all he do.

12.  Cooler Than Me – Mike Posner

          Have you heard this one lately??   :  P    (note to future readers: this will not make sense a week from now)

13.  Still Feels So Good – Twista

          While listening to Kamikaze recently, I was dumbstruck that in seven years I had never put this song on a playlist.   That needed to change.

14.  Son’s Gonna Rise – Citizen Cope

          A smooth, infectious tune.

15.  Tiffany Blews – Fall Out Boy

          Like many Fall Out Boy creations, this song is a gem of the finest cut.  Patrick Stump’s solo album drops in February.

16.  Sing – My Chemical Romance

          I love the defiance of this song. 

17.  Allow Me To Introduce Myself (Mr. Right) – The White Tie Affair

          The first song on this site, the last song on this list.  We’ve come right back to where we started.


So there you have it, my little masterpiece. 

Now I’m gonna burn this on a CD and see how long it takes me to wear it out!    :  )