Tuesday

Fascinating Character--Anita Renfroe

“Laughter breaks down walls. It disarms people. It allows extraordinary truth to be communicated in unexpected ways,” ~Anita Renfroe

A regular commentator on Good Morning America, a Women of Faith speaker, and an all-round great gal, Anita Renfroe is an American Christian comedian.

She performs stand up, writes and sings parody (see All the Wrinkled Ladies, below), and also writes books. When she's not doing that, she's home taking care of three children and her hubby, who is a Baptist minister.



People went crazy after she posted The Mom Song on YouTube, which she wrote and performed, and that's when her career skyrocketed.

According to Christian Books website, "Anita Renfroe has the spiritual gift of saying what most women think but are afraid to say out loud."

I've seen her perform, and she does have a gift for mixing spiritual truth with comedy. She not only made me LOL, but she touched my heart, which is why she is on my list of favorite comedians.



Anita has a Wiki Page; and Amazon has books by and about her.

Monday

Fascinating Character--Phyllis Diller

"Housework won't kill you, but why take a chance?" ~Phyllis Diller

Phyllis Diller was born in 1917 and, God bless her, died at the age of 95 in 2012. She passed at her Brentwood home with her family surrounding her. They told reporters she died with a smile on her face. 

Phyllis was considered a  pioneer because she was a unique female entertainer and was part of a group of comedians called New Wave comics. The New Wave comedians became famous after WWII and were unconnected to vaudeville. 

"Phyllis Diller Allan Warren" by Allan Warren
Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

Phyllis, who was a housewife for many years, designed her stand up routines around housewifery. Although she'd done work in entertainment for a few years before she devised her act, she didn't perform stand up until 1955. 

She had six children from her first marriage to Sherwood Diller, which may be what gave her the wild hair she was famous for. She says her fictitious husband, Fang, present in all her routines, was not inspired by either of her husbands. 

It's a good thing, because Fang was sloooow in the brain. 

She credited her success to three things: Bob Hope discovering her (she made three films with him, including Sorry, Wrong Number) the metaphysical book The Magic of Believing (Phyllis did not believe in God or an afterlife), and very hard work and persistence.

Diller was known for her self-deprecating jokes, unusual laugh, and her plastic surgery. She was unashamed and outspoken about her delight in plastic surgery!

You'll get to experience two of these things and hear her talk about one in this Jenny Jone's interview from 1991. Enjoy!



And here's a BONUS video of Bob Hope on a USO tour that included Phyllis, something she did with him often. She comes in at counter 41:53. So funny!



Phyllis has a Wiki Page, and here are books about and by her on Amazon, including her autobiography Like a Lampshade in a Whorehouse (I can't help it, that's the title!) and The Magic of Believing by Claude M. Bristol. 



Friday

Theme of the Month--April is National Humor Month

"Behind every great man is a woman rolling her eyes." ~Jim Carrey


photo credit: Fun already! via photopin (license)

Larry Wilde founded National Humor Month in 1976 "to heighten public awareness on how the joy and therapeutic value of laughter can improve health, boost morale, increase communication skills and enrich the quality of one's life." (Quote is taken from their website.)

And there you have it.

To celebrate, I will be blogging this month about my top five favorite comedians:

  • Anita Renfro
  • Ellen DeGeneres
  • Lucille Ball
  • Phyllis Diller
  • Tim Hawkins

Some things you can do to celebrate--

  • Read Comedian Biographies (see Amazon link below)
  • Read Joke books to people you love or hate
  • Play practical jokes on your friends and family (nothing mean, keep it friendly)
  • Make a point to laugh every day--it's good for you to be silly.


Because Martians are so funny...
I put the joke book thing on the list because when I was a child, eons ago, my parents and I used to sit around the table and read this stupid ethnic joke book. I won't say what ethnicity it was, so let's just say it was a Martian joke book.

Anyhow, we must have read it cover-to-cover several times, way back in the insensitive '70s, and laughed our guts out. The Martians never knew, so no one was hurt. And now that we know how Neanderthal it is to read rude joke books about foreigners, I'm not recommending your joke book be ethnic, you clod. Just funny.

But bodily functions are okay. Tim Hawkins thinks so, anyway. Here is his parody of Kansas' "Dust in the Wind."






National Humor Month has it's own site; Here are biographies of comedians on Amazon; and joke books on Amazon.

Source Articles--Holiday Insights; National Humor Month website; Brainy Quote, Funny Quotes; YouTube: Tim Hawkins--A Whiff of Kansas.

For further reading-- "National Humor Month: Laughing Matters" (Huffington Post, lists the health benefits of laughter.)

Wednesday

Fascinating Character--Davy Crockett: American Pioneer

"Be always sure you are right - then go ahead." ~Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier


March 26th is the  60th anniversary of the day "The Ballad of Davy Crockett" rose to number one on the US charts.

         "David Crockett" by Chester Harding (1792 - 1866) - cliff1066.
                                                             Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons -                                                     http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:David_Crockett.jpg#/media/File:David_Crockett.jpg


Davy Crockett was an American who was born in 1786 and was known for... well, let's see what the song says about him:
  • Born in  the mountains of Tennessee
  • Grew up in a forest
  • Killed a bear (bar) at the age of three
  • Went to Congress
  • Patched up the Liberty Bell
  • Fought against the Creek Indians
  • Went off to conquer the West
Born in the mountains of Tennessee, and grew up in a forest
Yes, accurate. He was born in East Tennessee. He had a ma and pa and most probably played with Tennessee forest trolls, which, as you know, are particularly ferocious.

It was probably the forest trolls which caused him to run away from home at the age of 14. Hmmmm...independent child.

Killed a bear when he was only three

Oh. Come. On! Reeeeeeally? Nah. No historian believes this, but it is part of his legend. He supposedly wrestled alligators too! It is most probable that he was an excellent bear hunter, as described in his book A Narrative of the Life of Davy Crockett of the State of Tennessee. He knew how to wrestle dem bars!

Went to Congress
The song has the chronology backwards. He participated in the Creek War first (see below) in 1813, but he went to the Tennessee Assembly in 1817, then to the House of Representatives in 1827 (where he stayed until 1835).

Patched up the Liberty Bell
I've seen the Liberty Bell--it's still broken. So folks, this is metaphor. The rest of the verse talks about him fixin' Congress and the Government, so, patching the Liberty Bell is a metaphor for fixing our "liberties."

Nowadays, in modern times, people don't just go around fixin' things. If they do, they're called codependent. :D

Fought against the Creek Indians
NOT! Whew. I really like Davy, so I was set to be disappointed when I'd heard he fought in the Creek War, but that didn't happen--neither his fighting nor my disappointment. According to Wikipedia, Crockett enlisted as a scout in 1813 under Francis Jones and Colonel John Coffee, and, "Crockett often hunted wild game for the soldiers, and felt better suited to that role than the killing of Creek warriors and families."

His aversion to killing Indians in this war makes total sense when combined with the fact Crockett could not stand Andrew Jackson's anti-Indian policies and fought against them vehemently. But it is amazing once you know that Creek Indians killed Davy's grandparents!

(BTW, some references say he fought in "the War of 1812." This is confusing. The Creek War dovetailed into the War of 1812, but it was only the Creek War that Davy "fought.")

Went off to conquer the West (Crockett died at the Battle of the Alamo)
Yeah, the song skips his Alamo death in 1836...leaving him alive and still guzzling coffee in his pajamas on Saturday mornings with his rifle by his side (however, the full version of the song mentions the Alamo). But, the army sent him to help defend the Alamo Mission in what they called "the Texas Revolution," and well, the U.S. army lost....

According to Wikipedia, his youngest child, Matilda, described her father the last time she saw him: "'He was dressed in his hunting suit, wearing a coonskin cap, and carried a fine rifle presented to him by friends in Philadelphia ... He seemed very confident the morning he went away that he would soon have us all to join him in Texas.'"

Robert Jenkins Onderdonk shows Crockett using his rifle as a
club in Onderdonk's 1903 painting The Fall of the Alamo.

Why such a legend?
Crockett's mythological status started growing while in Congress, and it was a two-fold process. First, he published his autobiography, and then, James Kirke Paulding wrote a play called "The Lion of the West" that parodied Davy. It showed him as an uncouth-but-funny Tennessee backwoodsmen named Nimrod Wildfire. This play became popular, and so did Crockett as a result.

So, writers, let this be a lesson to  you. Write a book about your crazy antics, pay someone to parody you, and then tell everyone to go see the play (or buy the DVD, or click onto the YouTube link...) and read your book. You will be famous!

His myth kept growing until well after his death and hit its height in the mid-20th Century with a Disney mini-series starring Fess Parker, which created a merchandising frenzy for everything "Crockett," including coonskin caps! So, it's logical that the song, "The Ballad of Davy Crockett," the miniseries' theme song, was #1 on the US pop charts on March 26th, 1955!

And here is the Disney version.




Davy has a Wiki Page. Here are some books by him and about him on Amazon, including Narrative of the Life of David Crockett of the State of Tennessee.

Source Articles: Wikipedia: Davy Crockett ; Brainy Quote: Davy Crockett; When Did Myths and Legends about Davy Crockett Start?; The Battle of the Alamo (Wikipedia); The Creek War (Wikipedia)

More on Davy, (that's "Mr. Crockett" to you!): Various versions of "The Ballad of Davy Crockett" onYouTube; Crockett's Bio (with video that details his death at the Alamo); Funny account of the PR that caused Davy to become a legend-- David Crockett, celebrity pioneer, went from wrestling bears to wrestling with his image;

Bear Hunting in Tennessee: Davy Crockett Tells Tales, 1834; Davy Crockett (mini-series); "The Ballad of Davy Crockett" (Wikipedia);

Friday

Fascinating Recipe-- Black-Bean Vegetarian Tacos

My sister-in-law came for a visit this last week, and all we did for over two days was watch movies, talk, laugh, and eat. She's a vegetarian, so when she visits, my challenge is to adapt my meat recipes to non-meat versions. This week, I "de-meatified" my taco recipe, and it turned out delicious. Here it is, and it's simple!


For the filling:
Ingredients--
2 15-ounce cans black beans (or pinto beans). Rinse and drain only one of the cans
1 T. lime juice (we buy the reconstituted kind in a small squeeze bottle)
1 t. salt (adjust to taste)
1T. red chili powder
2 t. cumin
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T. diced white or yellow onion

Directions--

  1. Take one of the cans and empty it into a colander or strainer (make sure the holes are smaller than the beans!). Rinse and let drain.
  2. Pour out the other can with all its juice into a saucepan, then empty the colander beans into the same saucepan. Now all the beans are together and happy.
  3. Throw all the other ingredients into the saucepan with the beans. Stir and blend well. Now we're having FUN! Bean fun!
  4. Put a lid on the saucepan and warm on medium heat until the beans get juicy and you can see the liquid get bubbly. (If you don't have a clear-glass lid like I do, then you'll have to keep peeking under the lid.)
  5. After you see the beans get bubbly, turn down the heat to low and barely simmer with lid on for about 3 minutes. Don't boil! In fact, if you have one of those mini burners in the back of your stove, use that.
  6. After the 3-minute simmer, turn the heat off. Stir gently, then put the lid back on to keep them warm. Don't overcook the beans.



For the shell: We use white-corn tortillas and fry them, but many people warm the tortillas over the burner and double them up for an oil-free taste. For us, it needs to taste like "fry" or just just isn't a taco. :D

Toppings: Good toppings are things such as chopped onions, chopped tomato, cheddar or feta cheese, salsa or pico de gallo, diced green chilies or jalapenos, shredded lettuce or cabbage, cilantro, sour cream, and guacamole. I used feta cheese on mine instead of the traditional cheddar. It was delicious!

Tacos have their own Wikipedia Page. Vegetarianism also has it's own Wikipedia Page

I found two vegan taco cook books: Vegan Tacos by Jason Wyrick and Vegan Tacos Recipes by Brittany Davis

Here are some other Vege Taco recipes: 15 Healthy Vegan Tacos;  Roasted Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos; Black Bean Tacos with Avocado Salsa; Sweet Potato and "Un-fried" Bean Tacos; Crispy Black-Bean Tacos with Feta and Cabbage Slaw; Black Bean Tacos with Zucchini Salsa; Quinoa Black Bean and Corn Tacos