Wednesday, May 28, 2008

THURSDAY THIRTEEN #21 . . . 13 CUSS-WORTHY MOMENTS I'm sorry, the footage of the female news anchor dropping the "F" bomb still cracks me up. Check her out HERE, (from Pop Culture Dish, Presented by Malcolm) if you dare. Okay, I'm not saying it's the RIGHT thing to do or the most INTELLIGENT or the most CREATIVE even, but at some point most of us have totally lost it and let fly with a choice word or two or three, or hell, even a whole slew of those bad boys. The following are some of the times, moments and occasions I've deemed particularly cuss-worthy . . .

1) When you stub your pinkie toe

2) When you owe the IRS

3) When you are giving birth, particularly if the baby is over 9 lbs and/or has a head as big as a three month old (**yes, I do know about this from experience**)

4) When some idiot driver does something that nearly causes you or someone else bodily harm or death

5) When you accidentally run upon a bad ass dog or even worse, a whole pack of those jokers

6) When you miss winning the lottery by one number

7) When someone is REALLY hitting your spot (don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about, LOL)

8) When you see another war widow, parent or loved one being passed an American flag

9) When your computer crashes

10) When you're suffering from a monster of a backache or a toothache

11) When someone you despise has outdone him/herself in being a royal pain in the a$$

12) When you can't stop dry heaving

13) When you're standing naked and alone in front of a full length mirror

Well, what the !&@$ are you waiting for? If you have something to add, by all means, be my guest (smile).

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here! The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others' comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Monday, May 26, 2008

WHAT ARE YOU READING? (A Lori Johnson Q & A)

Q: What was the last book you read?
A: A memoir by Melissa J. Delbridge entitled Family Bible.

Q: Is Delbridge an African American author?
A: No, she's a middle-aged White woman who grew up in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and who currently resides in North Carolina.

Q: What made you want to read her work?
A: I read an excerpt from her memoir in Poets & Writers magazine. Her voice and her sense of humor jumped out at me. I like "southern" authors with unapologetically "southern" voices, like Rick Bragg, Ernest Gaines, Flannery O'Connor and Eudora Welty.

Q: Did you enjoy Family Bible?
A: Very much so. It was honest, funny, thought-provoking. The type of book you don't want to put down. I'd read her again in a heart-beat.

Q: So what's next on your reading list?
A: I just started Savoring The Salt, a collection of essays, reflections and writings on the legacy of Toni Cade Bambara, edited by Linda Janet Holmes and Cheryl A. Wall.

Q: Are you an admirer of Bambara's work?
A: Yes, but that's an understatement. I'm in awe of her work. Her collection of short stories, Gorilla, My Love is a literary masterpiece, in my humble opinion. I'd go as far as to say it ought to be required reading, particularly for African American adolescents. As a matter of fact, I plan on introducing my own son to some of the stories in Gorilla, My Love over the summer.

Q: What do you like most about the stories in Gorilla, My Love?

A: Again, first and foremost, it's all about the "voice." In Gorilla, Bambara captures the rhythms and the nuances of the African Amercian urban vernacular in a way that is almost magical. She breathes life into these characters by granting them the freedom to tell their own stories in their own voices.

Also, I love how the characters in Gorilla, My Love, most of them young Black girls and women, are cast as defiant, non-conforming and fearless, sheroes, rather than somebody's long-suffering victim. Rather than running from or being overcome by life's challenges, they confront them. And the truth spoken by these characters is most often delivered straight with no chaser, like, for instance, in "Raymond's Run," when the little girl known as Hazel observes that "girls never really smile at each other because they don't know how and don't want to know how and there's probably no one to teach us how, cause grown-up girls don't know either."

Q: So, what was the last fiction title you read?
A: You really want to know? A Diary of A Wimpy Kid: Roderick Rules by Jeff Kinney.

Q: Isn't that a kid's book? Why would you read something like that?
A: Why not? (LOL) Actually, I bought it for my son. But on thumbing through it, I recognized it as the kind of book I would have enjoyed as a youngster. It was a fun, light-hearted, entertaining read. I guess you could say it spoke to my inner child. To be honest, I wouldn't mind writing something like that myself, one day (smile).

So tell me, if you feel like sharing, what are you reading? What have you read? What do you plan to read next?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Aretha Franklin is another one of those artists who has produced so many great songs over the years, you hardly know where to start. The following are SOME of my favorite Queen of Soul songs. Feel free to add one or two of your own Aretha favorites in the comments, but try to mention something other than "Respect" (LOL).

1) A Natural Woman (You Make Me Feel Like) / 1967

2) Make It With You / 1971 live at Filmore West version

3) Day Dreaming / 1972

4) Dr. Feelgood / 1967

5) Chain of Fools / 1967

6) Rock Steady / 1971

7) Call Me / 1970

8) I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You) / 1967

9) Do Right Woman-Do Right Man / 1967

10) Don't Play That Song / 1971 Live at Filmore West version

11) Spirit In The Dark / 1971 duet with Ray Charles that appeared on the "Aretha: Live at Filmore West" album/CD

12) Drown In My Own Tears / 1967

13) Baby, Baby, Baby / 1967

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here! The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others' comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Saturday, May 17, 2008


Are you ready for another lesson in Southern Ebonics? (If you missed it, here's a peek at the previous lesson). How many of the following words look familiar? If you think you know the definition of one or more of these words, let me see you use it/them in a sentence. Any takers? Any additions?

1) et

2) illy-formed

3) sweet milk

4) touched

5) coat or court

6) jack-leg

7) sap-sucker

8) pecker-wood

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


My debut novel, After The Dance, is set in Memphis, TN and contains a number of musical references. Even though most of the acts I reference in the book aren't Memphis-based ones, I thought it might be fun to compile a list groups, singers and musicians with ties to the Memphis area. Let me know which ones you already knew and which ones you didn't.

1) Al Green (Has long made Memphis his home and also pastors a church there.)

2) Aretha Franklin (Was born in Memphis. Her father, the late Reverand C.L. Franklin, earned his degree from an institution I once attended and where I met my hubby, LeMoyne-Owen College.)

3) The Bar-Kays (Started at Memphis' Porter Jr. High School and rose to fame on the old Stax recording label.)

4) B.B. King (Got his start performing on Beale Street and was once a DJ at Memphis' own WDIA.)

5) Bobby Blue Bland (Last I heard, he lived in Germantown, a suburb of Memphis.)

6) Earth, Wind and Fire (Group leader, Maurice White once called Memphis home and if I'm not mistaken, honed his musical chops at Memphis' Booker T. Washington High School.)

7) Elvis Presley (Lived and Recorded in Memphis. His South Memphis "Graceland" home is one of the city's biggest tourist attractions.)

8) Isaac Hayes (Long made Memphis his home and once performed on the old Stax label.)

9) Kirk Whalum (Grew up in Memphis and recently moved back to the city.)

10) Otis Redding (Performed on the old Stax label, a Memphis-based record company.)

11) Rufus Thomas (Long called Memphis home, recorded for Stax and was a DJ for Memphis' WDIA.)

12) Three 6 Mafia (As much as I hate to say it, this group is a Memphis product)

13) The Sylvers (All of the big afro-wearing members of this group were born in Memphis and got their start there before they moved to Cali.)

Did you find any surprises on this list? Can you name any other musical artists with ties to Memphis, TN?

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others' comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Nana & Baby Boy
from Lori's
Picture Collection

Give somebody's mama a big hug, why dontcha?!

Thursday, May 08, 2008


The American Masters documentary on Marvin Gaye, which aired on PBS the other night, reminded me of an article I'd read and saved from the Charlotte Observer, a couple of Sunday's ago (4-27-08). The article, written by Mark Price, wasn't about Marvin, per se, but about the man responsible for the stunning, "What's Going On" album cover, Curtis McNair.

Mr. McNair designed most of Motown's covers between 1968 and 1972. His work includes the cover for Stevie Wonder's "Signed, Sealed, Delivered," Smokey Robinson's, "Tears of A Clown," Diana Ross and the Supremes' "Love Child" and "Some Day We'll Be Together," and The Temptation's, "Puzzle People" (one of my personal favorites).

But when it comes to the album cover in which Mr. McNair takes the most pride, it is, of course, Gaye's "What's Going On." Released in 1971, the album is considered a musical masterpiece by many. The lyrics and music penned, produced and song by Gaye, dealt with drug abuse, poverty, the ecology, spirituality, racism and the war in Vietnam.

The photo on the album cover, which was taken in Gaye's backyard, only adds to the beauty and the impact of the work. It's a headshot of Marvin with the collar of his black, leather coat raised and flecks of water and sleet dotting his face and hair.

Interestingly enough, the executive in charge of McNair's department, expressed an intense dislike of the photo. The executive's reaction is even more interesting in light of Motown head, Berry Gordy's own initial refusal to release, "What's Going On" as a single, because he saw it as too political and uncommercial. From what I gathered from watching the American Masters documentary, Gordy wasn't keen on Marvin making a serious, political record period.

Isn't it fascinating how often in their quest to reel in those extra dollars or in their blind certainty about "what works and what doesn't" the gate-keepers in the business world sometimes totally miss both the beauty and the "bigger picture?" (LOL)

If you'd like to learn more about Curtis McNair, check out the April 27, 2008 Charlotte Observer article by Mark Price, "Designed, sealed, delivered."

Monday, May 05, 2008


One of my favorite essays about "writing" was penned by the Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist, Regina Brett. If you're "thinking" about writing, but you aren't sure how to start, I'd advise you to read her essay "Words are free. Write. No excuses" and really take it to heart. More than likely, you will see one or more of the excuses you've used or continue to use as a convenient cop-out. Deep down, you probably already know this--but you're really not fooling or hurting anyone, besides yourself (smile).

Want a short course on how not to write? The following are some of my favorite bits and pieces from Brett's essay . . .

**Watch hours of mindless TV.

**Visit a chat room of writers.

**Answer the phone everytime it rings.

**Fret over whether it's who or whom, lie or lay, its or it's . . .

**Agonize over whether to use colons or semi-colons.

**Recall every bad writing grade you ever got.

**Replay scenes in your head of every teacher who ever criticized your work.

**Get your doctorate in creative writing first.

**Find the right writers group.

**Wait until you get over your fear of rejection or fear of success.

**Complain that it's too hot, too cold, too muggy or too nice outside to write.

**Analyze every idea before you write the first sentence.

**Use only big words to impress people.

**Sign up for another writer's conference instead of actually writing.

**Look for affirmation from everyone around you.

**Waste time envying other writers who have it so easy.

**Edit as you go. Check the rules of grammer and punctuation before you finish every paragraph.

**Talk about your ideas so much that even you lose interest.

**Wait until you have children.

**Wait until your children stop teething, finish soccer season, go off to college.

**Wait until you go on vacation.

**Wait until you retire.

**Wait until you find your muse.

**Wait until you feel inspired . . .

You get the point? Like I said, read the entire piece; it's more than worth your while. Besides, aren't you in need of yet another excuse not to write anyway? (LOL) If any of these sound familiar, feel free to comment.

Friday, May 02, 2008


Have you noticed any of the changes around here? In the past few days and weeks, I've made a few additions, adjustments and tweaks here and there.

My capable and extremely patient web designer, SheliaRenee of N'Digo Design, recently added a bonus short story to my official website. The story, "Put On Some Marvin" is one that first appeared in the Emrys Journal several years ago. I ran an excerpt of it in the Old School Mix, but the full text is HERE. Would you like to know what folks have been saying about After The Dance? If so, go to my web site and check out the new list of blurbs and reviews SheliaRenee (N'Digo Design) put together for me.

On the sidebar (to your right), here at the OSM, I've added a few new items as well. If you're interested in knowing more about me, you might want to take a peek at some of my recent interviews under the "Author Q & A" header. If you want to know where you might meet me and/or pick up a signed copy of After The Dance, the list beneath the "Upcoming Appearances & Signings" header is a good place to start.