All posts filed under: CLARION-LEDGER

Entertaining angels: Mississippi man donates kidney to man he met while hunting

The hunter spent his spare time chasing deer in Mississippi when he wasn’t chasing fires. Starkville firefighter Rob Robinson, 44, had been stalking bucks in his home state for years, but when he learned that Kansas, the state where his sister resided, was one of the best places to turkey hunt, Robinson made several trips there throughout the years until he scored a record-breaking kill in 2007 that ranked seventh in the world. Motivated by success, Robinson decided to go for the “Grand Slam of Turkeys” in 2008, and wandered upon 1,600 acres of farmland owned by Gillan Alexander in Nicodemus, Kan. He had no idea that when he knocked on Alexander’s door, he would eventually save his life. The chance meeting later led Robinson to donate a kidney to Alexander. This weekend, the two will hold a fundraiser for an organization they have created called Forever Outdoors. It will be held at 10 a.m. Aug. 17 at Starkville’s Tractor Supply at 1301 Greta Lane. The organization will take wounded veterans on hunting excursions, help …

Mississippi ‘Mad Men’: Ridgeland ad agency exec offers insider’s take on show

The term “Mad Men” refers refers to the advertising executives who work on Madison Avenue in New York City. Madison County has its own group of “Mad Men” – a Ridgeland advertising firm called Mad Genius. We asked its creative director Eric Hughes his thoughts on the show and how it has influenced pop culture. To better set the stage for his answers, Mad Genius held a “Mad Menius” party in which the entire office dressed like characters from the show. Q: When did you become a fan? A: First show, first season. Right off the bat, I was sucked in by the amazing title sequence and then immediately drawn into how Don Draper captured the specific feeling of doom everyone in this business gets at some point – the anguish of watching the hours tick away as a major pitch approaches, and you grasp for the merest shred of a good idea. Then boom! You have it. And I loved the off-the-cuff statements like “C’mon, it’s not like there’s some magical machine that copies …

‘Mad Men’ Madness

Jackson residents Michael Busbin and Brian Kendrick have gone mad for “Mad Men.”Tonight is the season finale of AMC’s hit show about love, life and business at a Manhattan advertising firm. Currently set in the 1960s, “Mad Men” premiered in 2007 and is in its fifth season. It has become a pop culture sensation, influencing everything from hairstyles and fashion to cooking, decor and entertaining. Because of “Mad Men,” Busbin and Kendrick bought a retro home in northeast Jackson. “It has the grass cloth wall paper and all the cool retro vibes of the ’60s when it was built, kind of like Don Draper’s new apartment now,” Busbin said. “We have updated some of the features of the house that make it more fashionable, but we still have some of the features that are ’60s-inspired, such as the rock garden in the living room. We love Eames molded chairs, scoop chairs, Panton chairs, and anything with that ‘Mad Men’ vibe. That is how we like to live in our home – cool and relaxed with …

How to party like ‘Mad Men’

Los Angeles-based Natasha Feldman and Julianna Strickland host a web-based cooking show about food and movies called “Cinema & Spice.” They are big “Mad Men” fans, and recently taped a segment about how to throw a “Mad Men” party. Q: How did you become fans of the show? A: Julianna: Natasha’s mom was a media manager in the advertising industry for many years and worked for New York agencies mentioned in the show, so she was familiar with that world from childhood on. When a show came out focusing on the intrigues and adventures of advertising executives, she was curious about it and wanted to see what challenges women in the ’60s faced vs. the opportunities they have now. Q: Who are your favorite characters? A: Natasha: We both love Peggy and Joan. They are both strong, intelligent women, who are always growing and evolving in a challenging environment. They both defy the traditional roles that women were forced into for lack of guts and opportunity. We love how talented Peggy is and how she …

‘True Blood’s’ Mississippi ties

A popular HBO show with Mississippi ties returns tonight. “True Blood” enters its fifth season at 9 p.m., and Jackson resident Jamie Shows, who has watched every episode, can’t wait to sink her teeth into it. “I have several friends that watch it as well and most of our Sunday nights of ‘True Blood’ consist of texting back and forth ‘OMGs’ throughout the show,” she said. “And the fact that Season 5 kicks off on June 10, which is my 34th birthday, is ‘blood red’ icing on the cake. The return of the Vampire King of Mississippi is going to be epic.” Mixing romance, suspense, mystery and humor, ‘True Blood’ is set in Louisiana. And, in this setting, there is no need for coffins or human blood. Vampires can co-exist with humans, thanks to the invention of mass-produced synthetic blood. The show is based on the bestselling Sookie Stackhouse series of books written by Tunica native Charlaine Harris. They were later adapted into a series by Oscar winner Alan Ball, creator of HBOs “Six Feet …

Mississippians get a reality check

From Brandon native Skylar Laine on “American Idol” to Tupelo resident Brooks Ayers on “The Housewives of Orange County,” this year’s crop of Mississippi reality stars is as abundant as ever. Here’s a look at who we’ve been watching and who we’re keeping an eye on. •The Bachelorette – Tune to ABC Monday at 7 p.m. to watch Clarion-Ledger advertising representative Travis Pope vie for “The Bachelorette’s” heart. Will he become North Carolina resident Emily Maynard’s new beau? Pope, who has been described by colleagues as a “Southern charmer,” is a 30-year-old Mississippi State grad and Madison resident who has worked at The Clarion-Ledger the past three years. •The Housewives of Orange County – Tupelo resident Brooks Ayers has been spending a lot of time in California. He’s been featured on the Bravo! series this year as housewife Vicki Gunvalson’s boyfriend. The show airs at 8 p.m. on Tuesdays. Ayers, who has become the subject of entertainment gossip blogs, is a businessman who met Gunvalson through work. You can find the Mississippi State graduate’s bio …

Will they become more famous than Honey Boo Boo Child?

Raymond resident Hope Campbell and Vicksburg native Michelle Cole have been involved in pageants many years. Cole began competing when she was 3, and Campbell, when she was 16. Today, both are Mrs. Mississippis in different pageant circuits. Campbell is the reining Mrs. Mississippi United States of America 2012, and Cole won the Mrs. Mississippi America title in 2011. On Wednesday at 9 p.m., you can watch their daughters compete on the TLC documentary series Toddlers & Tiaras. “It’s not new for us,” Cole said. “McKenzie has been in a lot of pageants, and I used to own a pageant store in Vicksburg. My little girl just loved to perform for all the girls coming in and out of the store.” Cole submitted a video of McKenzie, 5, and TLC contacted her a few weeks later. They came to her home Feb. 15 and filmed a segment for Toddlers & Tiaras, a show not without controversy, that sometimes features stage moms intent on making their child a star, and children who seem less interested in …

The Band Perry needs your vote

In The Band Perry’s song “All Your Life,” lead singer Kimberly Perry asks her man to show his devotion by meeting some lofty requests. Then, she explains, she doesn’t need all that – she just wants to be the only girl “you love all your life.” In the video, Mississippi natives Kimberly, Neil and Reid Perry are fictional members of a vintage sideshow – free spirits who wander from town to town performing. That’s not much of a stretch because they are currently touring with Brad Paisley who will be in Southaven Aug. 17 at the Snowden Amphitheatre. Until then, you can vote for the band’s “All Your Life” video up for CMT Music Award’s Group Video of the Year. The show airs live June 6. “‘All Your Life’ is a hopeful romantics’ song,” said Reid Perry by phone. “We meet up with some of our friends who are performers. One is a snake charmer. One is a medicine man. It’s a neat video of all of us coming together and sharing an experience. We …

Alcorn grad, NFL standout Driver wins ‘DWTS’

Touchdown! Alcorn State University graduate and Green Bay Packers all-time leading receiver Donald Driver took home the Mirror Ball trophy Tuesday night on the season finale of “Dancing with the Stars.” “Amazing,” he said, when asked how he felt about his victory. Driver and partner Peta Murgatroyd were one of the two remaining couples vying for the trophy. He beat Mark Ballas and Katherine Jenkins, who is known as the world’s most prolific classical crossover artist. A shirtless 37-year-old Driver danced the final dance of the night and earned his second perfect score from all three judges for the season. “I really couldn’t have asked for anyone better in the whole competition,” Murgatroyd said. “He has the best personality I could have hoped for in a celebrity. He’s kind. He’s dedicated. He’s amazing.” Driver said he will “miss the memories that me and Peta shared here in the studio … It’s been more than what I expected.” On Monday night, Driver cowboy’d up with a memorable freestyle performance that earned him his first perfect 10 …

Getting back on the horse

Near the end of the school year at Brandon’s University Christian School, the art teacher gave his first period students large canvases, leftover paint and the freedom to go at them Jackson Pollack-style. Danielle Parkman, 14, dipped her hands in color and splattered it against the white – tossing pink, blue and red across the rectangle. Then she threw it on her friends, who laughed and retaliated until, pretty soon, everyone was engaged in a colorful, carefree mess of creativity. It is her most vibrant memory of the day her life went black, canvas wiped clean. On that day, May 12, 2009, her mother, Julie Parkman, a wife and mother of three, had a lot on her mind. In two days, her eldest son, Mitchell, would graduate from UCS. He was away on a mission trip with his father, Louie, but they would return that evening. On May 14, the family would leave for the Bahamas, and she couldn’t forget about Danielle’s upcoming horse show. After work, she drove to register her daughter for the …

Cuckoo for tutus

Raymond resident, Hope Campbell, is the reigning Mrs. Mississippi United States of America. Her 3-year-old daughter Emma Addison also digs the glitz and glam of the pageant circuit. The little beauty queen will appear on the TLC show Toddlers & Tiaras at 9 p.m. May 30. Winning a sparkly, rhinestone crown isn’t Emma’s only motivation. She loves fancy, frilly costumes, whether she’s competing or not. “Emma is a fan of wearing tutus around the house,” said Campbell, a mother of three and Mississippi College graduate student. While the classic ballet tutu has been around since the 1800s, it’s lately become a mainstream fashion must for little girls who want to emulate fairies, ballerinas and princesses. A quick Internet search reveals many companies that specialize in tutu sales, such as Sunny Girl Tutus, Miss Priss Tutus, Little Diva Tutus and Cutie Pa Tutus. Etsy craft sellers are also touting the trend by sewing layers of tulle to make an extra buck. Tutus have also become a favorite for photographers who use them as props. “It’s just …

Apocalypse Now?

Society is obsessed with the apocalypse. Consider zombie movies, the Mayan calendar’s Dec. 21 “end” date, a TV show called Doomsday Preppers and religious figures like Harold Camping making their own predictions. While some find evidence of this in the Bible, a Millsaps religion professor’s new book offers a more hopeful interpretation of “apocalyptic” biblical texts. Revelation, often read as a end-time prophecy, should be read in context, said professor Benjamin Reynolds. He is the author of Between Symbolism and Realism: The Use of Symbolic and Non-Symbolic Language in Ancient Jewish Apocalypses 333-53 B.C.E. “Often when people argue about the Bible, they accuse each other of taking this or that passage out of context,” he said. “My book is all about providing that context. It examines the language of ancient Jewish apocalypses like Daniel and Revelation in painstaking detail.” Christians from the apostle Paul to Martin Luther have believed the apocalypse would take place in their lifetimes. Reynolds said evangelical Christians are not unique in that regard. “But what is unique in modern America is …

Mississippi fashion designer sews for Jennifer Hudson, Tyler Perry, Cee Lo

She was No. 19 in a blended family that included 25 siblings. Stuck between nine older brothers and six younger ones, Maria Harper often found herself fighting to be a girl. “It could have been fun being in a large family if I had sisters right in there with me,” she laughed. “But I was in the middle of all those boys, and they tortured me.” Her father also failed to recognize Harper as a young lady. At Christmas, he bought her cap guns and Army men. “I would cry every Christmas and say, ‘But, Daddy, I’m a girl.’ He would say, ‘Be grateful. Kids in Africa don’t have anything,’ and I would be like, ‘Really?’ My mother was like, ‘Baby, we’ll make you some clothes.’” Sewing is how the former Mississippi girl stopped being one of the boys and, in the process, made a name for herself with the Atlanta fashion business Maria Harper Designs. The 53-year-old has worked with celebrity clients like Tyler Perry, Cee Lo Green, Jennifer Hudson and Fantasia. Harper and …

Repurpose driven life, continued.

I recently wrote an article for The Clarion-Ledger about the repurpose trend that is being fueled by Pinterest.com. Here’s a couple of additional shots I took at a local flea market in a booth owned by Nicole Nelson, who is featured in the story. I love the colors of her weathered door. She’s the one who had transformed a claw-foot bathtub into a love seat, reminiscent of the one Audrey Hepburn had in her New York apartment in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I just bought an old door myself that I want to transform like this, if I can ever find enough time to strip off its paint. Mine, I discovered, has glass window panes underneath the paint. And check out this chandelier. It’s old mattress springs with Christmas lights weaved in them. This is the view I had lying underneath it looking up. Very creative. Got a comment? E-mail me at endyanna@earthlink.com or Tweet me at @lareecarucker. Save

Repurpose driven life

Fueled by the economy, environmental awareness, and a creative desire to be innovative, repurposing is gaining popularity. The décor style, which appears to be a modern day take on California designer Rachel Ashwell’s Shabby Chic brand (trademarked in 1989) has been updated and propelled by the popularity of Pinterest.com. Log on, and you’ll see pin after pin that are leading Mississippians to flea markets and thrift stores to salvage remnants of the past that they can transform and incorporate into their décor. It’s about turning trash into treasure, finding new appreciation for obsolete items that some would send to the landfill. If your antique dresser is worn and weathered, don’t stress — distress. Paint it a bright color and embrace it’s wear and tear. Some think the trend represents a generational shift sparked by the desire to save fading 20th century items — a sharp contrast with the recent mod décor revival that began in the new millennium. Mary Katherine McKelroy is trying to capitalize on the repurposing trend. She is taking over The Green …

Kala Harvey’s story

Kala Harvey spent Nov. 24, 2008, attending Northwest Community College, where the former high school valedictorian was one day away from finishing her first semester. Around noon, she and sister, Candace, took their brother out for his birthday lunch, and around 6 p.m., the girls reconnected to take their usual fitness walk. Within moments, Candace heard the sound of a speeding vehicle approaching from behind. She turned, and saw it coming toward her on the wrong side of the road. Candace reached for Kala to pull her out its path, but missed by a hair. The car struck, knocking the teenager upon the windshield, then tossing her against the hard pavement. “They had been gone about 20 minutes when I received the call,” said mom Alma Harvey. “Candace was screaming and crying. I went to where they were and found Kala in critical condition. I didn’t really recognize her, but I recognized what she was wearing.” A helicopter airlifted Kala, 18, to The MED in Memphis. Doctors were not encouraging. They could find no sign …

The vow

Megan Robinson, 24, and Peter Huwe, 25, met in a Mississippi College chemistry class and, eventually, discovered some chemistry of their own. On June 30, the couple will tie the knot in Gulfport, and they hope to be $25,000 richer thanks to the E! Online Say Your Vows Wedding Contest – a promotion for the movie The Vow that opens this weekend. “A couple of weeks ago, I was watching E!, and I saw a commercial for the contest,” Robinson said. “It said write the vow that you would say to your fiance on your wedding day. The next Thursday, I got an email saying that we are one of the finalists out of thousands of entries.” Peter and Megan are one of five couples vying for cash, a wedding gown, bridesmaid dresses, wedding bands, registry gifts and a honeymoon in Los Cabos. Huwe, who is quadriplegic, broke his neck in 2005 in a diving accident. Megan’s vow reads in part: “I have always said, what you lack physically, you make up for 100 times …

Mud painter works from the ground up

He pulled the clay — white, gray, yellow, brown, purple and dark blue — from the gravel pits of Copiah County. He found shades of green in Columbia’s Red Bluff and reds in Copiah County creeks. Such colors make up the palette of a Mississippi artist who is gaining a reputation for his mud paintings, inspired by those of slaves. Hazlehurst resident Charles Jenkins, 63, began “mud painting” after a tour of plantations in St. Francisville, La. “One of the guys who was narrating everything said these are mud paintings done by slaves,” he said. “They couldn’t tell me anything about it, so I came back and started doing research on it. “The Smithsonian didn’t have anything on it, although the last mud painter of any significance was a fellow by the name of Jimmy Lee Sudduth in Alabama.” Sudduth, 1910-2007, began making folk art as a child and later created finger paintings with natural elements like clay and plants on refuse wood. “He died at 95 and was still doing mud paintings,” Jenkins said. …

Educational road trip

(Photo by Joe Ellis/The Clarion-Ledger) When Sara Zittlow returned from an inspirational trip to Israel, she decided to begin spending more time with her growing family away from life’s distractions. So she devised a plan, talked it over with her husband and set out on a nine-month journey from Green Bay, Wis. On Sept. 13, the Zittlow family left home in their VW Jetta wagon with a $15,000 budget and plans to visit every state in the nation. This past week, they were in Mississippi. Zittlow, who is homeschooling her children this year, thought they’d learn more by visiting the 50 states than reading about them, and her husband agreed. To cut costs, they’ve found host families in each of the states. “We have had wonderful experiences staying with the locals because we can ask them questions,” she said. “Sometimes, we can’t see all the highlights, but we can break bread with them and learn what it’s like living somewhere and what they want to tell us about.” At every stop, Andrew, 11, Megan, 9, …

Mr. Henry

Since my story that ran in The Clarion-Ledger today was chopped for space, here is the full version. Blogs allow me as much space as I want: On cold mornings, Mr. Henry would come to work early and crank all the vehicles so they would be warm inside when the other bus drivers arrived. He kept a list of all the children on his bus route, recording their names addresses and birthdays so he and his wife could send them birthday cards and small surprises throughout the years. And when he battled cancer and underwent chemotherapy, Mr. Henry continued to ride the bus with “his children” on the days he felt well enough, even when another driver was behind the wheel. Henry Wiltcher, a man who told others his mission was to be of service to the world, did it by driving a bus. He passed away Thursday after spending more than a decade as a Rankin County School District driver, and he is being mourned by teachers, students and colleagues — many of whom …

More Mississippi made products

Still looking for Mississippi made products that will help spice up your life or present dishes in a unique way? Here are a few more that you can find in gourmet food stores across the state. Fat Mama’s Knock-You-Naked Margarita Mix – the name pretty much says it all, but here’s its history. In the 1980s, Natchez residents Jimmy and Britton Gammill spent many hours perfecting a tamale recipe and began selling them from their house. Their children, David and Poppy, often joked that if their parents didn’t perfect it soon, Britton would be a “fat mama from eating all the mistakes.” And that’s how Fat Mama’s Tamales was born. The couple opened the tamale restaurant in 1989, serving only tamales at first, but the menu later expanded to include beer, cold drinks, chili and Knock-You-Naked Margaritas. In 2008, they relocated to 303 S. Canal St. into a larger building and added chicken taco salad, taco soup, Mexican cornbread, homemade salsa and draft beer. Son David Gammill, who now owns the business, said Fat Mama’s …

The Mississippi Mass Choir

Jackson resident Mosie Burks, 77, thought she’d live a quiet existence after retirement and travel the country with her husband, but 15 years ago, she embarked on a journey that gave new spiritual meaning to the term “the golden years.” At the suggestion of Mississippi Mass Choir Music Minister Jerry Smith, Burks auditioned for a spot as a singer. “I just really went for the heck of it,” she said. “I had no notion they would choose me. I told them I felt I was of age, and I wanted young people to have the privilege of being a part of it instead.” But Burks soon began to rethink things. Shortly after being selected, she performed a song called When I Rose This Morning that topped the charts, affirming that she’d found her new calling. The lyrics are about waking up with faith that God will take care of you. Today, some consider Burks the face of the Mississippi Mass Choir. The group released its ninth album this week called Then Sings My Soul. It …

The Challenger disaster – 25 years later

Where were you when the Challenger disaster happened? For many members of Generation X, the event could be compared to the Kennedy assassination as the defining tragedy of their youth. I recently did a story about the event’s Mississippi connections that I have posted below: Jane Merchant grew up in Huntsville, Ala., where her father worked for NASA as an Ordnance Guided Missile School instructor. Those early childhood experiences led her to shoot for the stars in an attempt to become the first teacher in space. Merchant, a ninth-grade social studies teacher at West Point Junior High School in 1986, applied for the position that was later awarded to Christa McAuliffe. It’s been 25 years since McAuliffe and six astronauts died during the Challenger disaster. Mississippians still live with the tragedy. On Jan. 28, 1986, Merchant was teaching when she heard a knock on her classroom door. It was the school secretary. “She had tears in her eyes and said the Challenger had exploded,” she said. Despite tragedy, Merchant, now 63, said she is proud she …

Made in The ‘Sip

All across Mississippi, you’ll find entrepreneurs who are creating unique dining products. We recently asked Marlana Walters, owner of The Everyday Gourmet in Jackson, about Mississippi dining trends and what products — from pottery to food — seem to be selling well. From Yazoo City’s Mississippi Cheese Straws and Starkville’s Dix Fried Green Tomato Salsa to Knock-You-Naked Margarita Mix made in Natchez — you’ll find a variety of Mississippi-made items that some people can’t live without. “Some people can’t travel out of town without a box of cheese straws,” Walters said. “The most important thing to me is that we don’t sell anything that we haven’t tried, tasted and think is really good, because just because you have a recipe doesn’t always mean that everyone is going to like it. “We’re very interested in beautiful things, whether it’s selling the plate or what you put on it.” Got a comment? E-mail me at endyanna@earthlink.com or Tweet me at @lareecarucker. Save

Clark Griswold would approve

Remember Christmas Vacation (1989) when Clark Griswold stapled 25,000 imported Italian twinkle lights to his roof in a display so brilliantly tacky it could only be appreciated by the most obsessive holiday lover? Fast-forward 20 years, and Christmas sweaters from that era with Santastic faces and Rudolphulous décor seem like something Griswold helped design using little (s)elf-control. Enter the Tacky Sweater Christmas Party, a growing fad that requires participants to search mom’s closet, thrift stores and eBay for gawdy holiday fashions with the most awesomely bad designs. It may have started as an ironic hipster statement, but tacky/ugly Christmas sweater parties have gone mainstream. Type the word “sweater” into eBay’s search field and “ugly Christmas sweater” tops the list. You’ll find thousands for sale, including one labeled “Ugly Horrible Tacky Santa Pepsi Christmas Sweater” that was up to $149 last week. Missouri resident Jason Granda, 27, operates STL (St. Louis) Vintage with his brother, Jared Granda, 21, and Mark Antle, 28. Granda began to notice the tacky sweater trend two years ago while searching eBay. …