He led her onto the dancefloor, with the fox’s dainty hand cupped in the wolf’s paw.  They took their place among the rows of assembling guests.

“I have no idea what I’m doing!”  she hissed nervously.  Her palms were starting to sweat.

“Don’t worry,” he laughed.

Facing each other, he took her left hand and raised it just above shoulder height, so that their arms formed an upside down “V”.  Her right hand rested on his shoulder, while his circled around her waist and nestled against the small of her back.  The couples around them took the same position.

The owl tapped her glass and drew the attention of the ladies and gentlemen.  For a moment, the hall was silent and still.  Then the music began.

The fox felt herself being guided by an invisible force that knew exactly what she needed to do.  A force that could be resisted, but ought not to be.  Each step was perfection.  Every twist and turn was a thing of beauty.   Her back was straight, her chin was up.  A smile lit up her face.  Her eyes stayed on his.

She and the wolf glided amongst the patrons as though they had performed the dance a thousand times.  By the end of the song, the fox had become queen of the tango.

“Shall we try another one?” asked the wolf.

“Of course,” she said.

There She Is . . . (2012 Edition)

It is almost time for one of my favorite events of the year.  And I’m not talking about the holidays.

On January 14th, fifty-three sensational contestants will take the stage in Las Vegas to compete for the most coveted title in American pageantry: Miss America.  And like always, I will be paying homage to this most elegant winter tradition.

As I explained last year, the best part of the Miss America competition is getting to know the ladies in advance.  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.  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.

Once again, I have taken the time to familiarize myself with each of the lovely ladies by watching two video clips released by the pageant, one explaining why they should win and the other recounting their favorite Miss America moment, and also 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, the night before the pageant, I will narrow my list to 15, and rank them.

Take my predictions with a grain of salt.  Last year, I managed to overlook the eventual winner, Teresa Scanlan, in selecting my field of 20.  To be fair, Teresa was an unlikely champion.  At 17 years old, she is the youngest Miss America since 1937, the only contestant from Nebraska to ever win a major national pageant, and the first pianist in 20 years to take home the crown.  With all that said, Teresa has by all accounts been an exemplary Miss America and there is simply no excuse for me leaving her off my list.  I vow that I will not make that mistake again this year.

On the brighter side, each of my three highest ranked contestants found their way into the top 10 last year, including two of the top four.  So that gives me a little momentum going into this year.

Here is the breakdown.  To ensure I am 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 are represented.  Accordingly, my top 20 is divided into twelve regional representatives and eight “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 the remaining contestants into categories, just for fun.

Click the title of the contestant to view her introduction video and click on the second link to view her Miss America 90th anniversary tribute video.



The Psuedo South:  Miss North Carolina.  If I had to compare her to anything, it would be a button.  Cute, polished, and well-rounded.  Tribute Video.

The Northwest:  Miss Oregon.  Genius!  Five stars for this one.  If Miss America doesn’t pan out, she has a bright future at Geico.  Tribute Video.

Central Florida:  Miss Florida.  Something tells me she has a BIG closet.  Tribute Video.

The West: Miss Colorado.  She is the lovely daughter of Miss America 1974, Rebecca Ann King, making her the first daughter of a former winner to compete for the crown.  Pageantry runs in her blood, and it shows.  Tribute Video.

The Northeast:  Miss New York.  I thought the Liberty Bell was in Philadelphia?  Now I’m confused.  Tribute Video.

The South:  Miss Tennessee.  Hailing from a state famous for producing blonde vocalists (eight of the past eleven years), this year’s version is ready to carry the mantle.  Tribute Video.

Lower Midwest:  Miss Missouri.  She certainly knows how to lighten the mood!  Very entertaining.  Tribute Video

Upper Midwest:  Miss Wisconsin.  The kind of girl every mother hopes her son would marry.  The “W” in Wisconsin also stands for “well done.”  Tribute Video.

The Rust Belt:  Miss Michigan.  The touching story of a girl who won her battle against rheumatoid arthritis and her state’s pageant.  Contrary to her doctor’s dire predictions, not only can she walk and dance — she can tumbleTribute Video.

Southern California:  Miss California.  You have to give her credit for the creative use of the iPad (and for keeping her composure despite the glitch).  Now there’s a girl who thinks outside the box.  Tribute Video.

Big Sky:  Miss North Dakota.  She has a very genuine, down-to-earth quality about her.  This girl is sure to sandbag her way into America’s heart.  Video Tribute.

Hawaii:  Miss Hawaii.  Yes, yes.  I am a sucker for the flower.  Tribute Video



Miss Arkansas.  Arkansas is tied with California for the longest streak of top 15 finalists (four years and counting).  Here’s to hoping our luck continues with this sweetheart from Stuttgart.  Tribute Video.

Miss Idaho.  You have to tip your hat to a girl who can pull off the potato-sack look.  Tribute Video.

Miss Alabama.  A sweet Southern belle, and the most senior contestant in the field at age 25.  She recently became the only Auburn graduate to ever be filmed shaking a crimson pom-pom in public.  Tribute Video.

Miss Virgin Islands.  Never have I heard a crock-pot make such a sweet sound.  (No Tribute Video available.)

Miss Mississippi.  Hey, she’s wearing my Galveston beach towel!  I will need that back after the competition, ma’am.  Tribute Video.

Miss Iowa.  I appreciate how she speaks in clear and measured tones.  It makes it easier for slow people like me to follow along.  Tribute Video.

Miss Oklahoma.  What she lacks in size, she easily makes up for in confidence and dairy consumption.  Tribute Video.

Miss Minnesota.  Did an excellent job of communicating the platform and the picture really enhanced her presentation.  This girl is competing with a purpose.  Tribute Video.


Now for some other noteworthy contestants . . . .



Miss Pennsylvania.  She is ready to tackle any challenge.  Tribute Video.

Miss Massachusetts.  No seriously, hasn’t Boston won enough already?  Tribute Video.

Miss Indiana.  It’s a bird, it’s a plane . . . it’s a . . . Hoosier?  Tribute Video.

Miss Texas.  Impersonating a weatherman is not exactly the best way to gain America’s trust.  Tribute Video.

Miss District of Columbia.  What does a pageant queen do when told she can’t wear her beloved Washington Capitals baseball hat?  She “mans up.”  Tribute Video.

Miss MarylandActually, there is at least one person in America who had never heard of a show called “Toddlers and Tiaras.”  (No Tribute Video available.)



Miss Virginia.  Whoa.  How many buckets does she have?  Tribute Video.

Miss Vermont.  Fifty-two contestants are eager to answer her rhetorical question.  Good luck!  Tribute Video.

Miss Utah.  Her talent is trivia.  Tribute Video.

Miss Delaware.  It would be fair to call her a long shot.  Tribute Video.



Miss Arizona.  Whoever said a person can only live a second without hope has never met a Cubs fan.  Tribute Video.

Miss Washington.  When I hear the word poverty, I think about commercials with African babies.  Tribute Video.

Miss South Carolina.  She is 112 lbs. closer to becoming the first Cher impersonator to ever win the pageant.  Tribute Video.

Miss Kansas.  Here’s an idea: maybe she should join forces with Miss South Carolina to encourage all the obese kids to share their food with the starving kids.  Problem solved.  Tribute Video.

Miss Louisiana.  I prefer to think of the Super Bowl as the “Miss America for men.”  Tribute Video.

Miss West Virginia.  The man obviously has a voice, what he needs is a kidney.  Tribute Video.

Miss South Dakota.  Never have I seen a girl get so fired up about knitting.  Tribute Video.



Miss Connecticut.  If she doesn’t win, everyone gets audited.  Tribute Video.

Miss Wyoming.  After 24 years of baking, that cake better taste goodTribute Video.

Miss Ohio.  The anchor of this year’s field.  Tribute Video.

Miss Alaska.  Resolved.  There shall be no more resolutions until the pageant is over.  Tribute Video.



Miss Montana.  Only her neighbors can tell you how many times she sang that song in the shower — and every time, it sounded just like thatTribute Video.

Miss New Jersey.  She’s not joking about her Uncle Tony.  Tribute Video.

Miss Rhode Island.  She has a bigger personality than Snookie’s poof.  (Her words, not mine.)  (No Tribute Video available.)

Miss Nebraska.  What is it about wearing sweatpants to class that just screams “Miss America”?  Tribute Video.



Miss Illinois.  Not sure the witchcraft background is a plus, but she does have nice footwork.  Tribute Video.

Miss New Hampshire.  She’s got the rhythm, she’s got the rhyme.  Tribute Video.

Miss Nevada.  She’s got the rhyme.  Still working on the rhythm.  Tribute Video.

Miss Puerto Rico.  Don’t be fooled by the accent.  She let’s her feet do most of the talking.  Tribute Video.



Miss Georgia.  Sometimes things just don’t go as planned.  (No Tribute Video available.)

Miss New Mexico.  On the bright side, at least New Mexico is a state.  That’s more than Miss Puerto Rico and Miss Virgin Islands can say.  Tribute Video.

Miss Kentucky.  Hmmm.   Tribute Video.


Okay, so now that you know the contestants, who is your favorite?  I hope you had as much fun watching the videos as I had posting them.   ;  )

My Dad’s First Text Message

December 11th, 2011.  A day that will live in technological infamy.

In a surprise attack more shocking than Pearl Harbor, my phone was suddenly and unexpectedly bombarded by a most unlikely aggressor.  After regaining my composure, I could not believe what I saw.

Unidentified Person using my Dad’s phone: Muchos tacos whatcha doin

Me: Please tell me this is mom

Unidentified Person: it aint mom im hi tech now

Me: Mom I know that’s you

UP: Its your duck partner

Me: Whoever has stolen this phone please return it immediately

UP: No theft my bell slough amigo


UP: Are u up off the floor yet

Yes, it seems my father has officially joined the technological revolution.  This is the dawn of a new era for mankind.

What transpired yesterday is not the only evidence I have.  When I was home for my mom’s birthday this weekend, I observed — with my own eyes — my dad using a computer.  He has even learned what “websites” are, although he has difficulty getting to them.  He has trouble finding the browser button, doesn’t know how to scroll, and types slower than moss grows on trees.  But while it may be just a small leap for man, it’s one giant leap for my dad.

Then I asked him to burn me a copy of my Mom’s Adele CD.  And he did.  On his ancient 90s-eque CD burner in the attic.

Maybe all is not lost.