Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Tuesday Randomness: Insider Louisville highlights, the Big Four and Shakespeare

From the Big Four at night
I love my job. I can't imagine what I could possibly enjoy more than talking to inspiring people and then writing about those conversations.

Yes, at times, we at Insider Louisville refer to ourselves as "the Band of Misfit Toys." We're an odd bunch, but when you combine having the stomach to survive a startup AND being journalists, it isn't a big surprise that people willing to do both are a bit... off.

And lately– not to jinx myself or anything– things have just seemed to gel. Today when I finished an interview I, as always, thanked the subjects for sharing their stories with me. And one of the subjects responded, "I can't think of anyone better to go to with this." When I tried to postpone another interview until next week, the subject told me that the news was happening this week, and he said, "And I wanted to make sure you had first crack at the story." (Obviously, I canceled the reschedule.)

I've gotten emails from moms and dads thanking me for stories about their kids. I've gotten emails from moms (no dads yet) admonishing me for not writing about their kids (I'm working on it!). A subject's grandma wanted a "paper version" of a story I wrote (I had to say, "just print it out.")

Thank you, innovators and entrepreneurs and artists of Louisville for sharing your stories with me. I'm so lucky, and I am learning so much from you.

Some of my favorite recent stories:

YPAS and Walden Theatre alumn cast as second principal role in Broadway's ONCE... I haven't gotten to interview Adam Brown yet, but I'm working on it. Thanks to Walden's Isaac Spradlin for putting this news in my email inbox.

Roobiq reps Louisville in Silicon Valley... Adam Fish, who relocated his business, Roobiq, from Louisville to San Francisco came back for a visit and sat down with me and co-founder John Receveur to talk about his time at an accelerator and how the Valley was treating him.

Custom Rubber Composites: Lean manufacturing in Louisville... It's a dry business– manufacturing parts for heavy-duty conveyor belts– but fascinating to see a local manufacturer employing Lean Startup principals to their business. I also taught two of the co-founder's daughters, so it was nice to talk shop with a family I like.

GE announces new appliance line for Millennials by Millennials... This was the most popular post on the week it came out. I have to believe that it was because I chose to focus on the "this line was designed by a former intern" angle. All other local news focused on the appliances themselves.

Forest Giant puts teachers through a "mini-hackathon"... How could I not love this story? It brought me back together with Dave Durand, founder of Forest Giant and the big brain behind the startup team, City Anchor, that I won Startup Weekend with back in September. Dave remains a hero of mine.

To browse through more of my stories, visit my Contributor page for Insider Louisville.

Other cool stuff I've been doing:

The Big Four bridge is everything everyone says it is. It's a perfect 1.5 mile round trip walk almost to Indiana. The BF and I went late one night. I'll have to check it out during the day. I'm ashamed it took me so long, but I will be a regular.

I'm ambivalent about TWELFTH NIGHT at Shakespeare in the Park. It was long (we left at intermission around 10p) and kind of full of pomp. And non-Louisville actors? Unfortunate. But I am not ambivalent about the experience. There are few things nicer than watching theatre outdoors on a lovely summer evening. Bring snacks and non-alcoholic beverages. You can buy alcohol there. Don't believe the website when it says there's pre-show entertainment; there wasn't when we went.

On the same night I went to Shakespeare, I went to Burger Boy Diner. Yes, it's a greasy-spoon diner, but yes, it was also fantastic. Fabulous service, a reasonably well-appointed jukebox. I got a burger and fries for under $6 and couldn't have been happier with the experience.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Happy blogaversary to me! Loueyville turns 6 years old.

It's been six years since I started blogging in Louisville (May 29 was the official blogaversary).

My first post were about the Bats, BirdZirk! and the opening day of the Creation Museum outside of Cincy (the latter remains one of my favorite posts despite the epic levels of snark involved).

It's been four years since the birth of my logo. John Wurth at Hatch Creative made it. I told him I wanted something retro-y, happy, with an acorn and a fleur de lis.

My tag line is: "Neither here, nor there" because I am from the North and spent most of my adult life in the South and Louisville is... neither here, nor there.

The acorn? There are all kinds of reasons behind that.

My last name is Chipman, frequently, lovingly bastardized to Chipmunk. Chipmunks eat?

I lived in New England and New Orleans and oak trees are ubiquitous throughout.

And when I was a wee lass, I discovered that the Vanderbilts had a special affinity for the saying "Great Oaks from Tiny Acorns grow." I, myself, am not a particularly big person. I come from humble means. The aspirational message behind that aphorism felt particularly meaningful to me.

I don't "do" analytics, and I have never tried to sell ads. I've never been compensated for or charged for posts.

This has always been a labor of love.

That doesn't mean that it's not without significant rewards.

In 2011, I gave a speech at the Louisville Free Public Library called "Social Media Is Social" and it outlined just what blogging and tweeting had brought to my life.

90% of my friends in Louisville met me through the blog or twitter. Media passes afforded to me because of my blog have allowed me to do probably thousands of dollars worth of activities. I got my first Louisville print media job with The Louisville Paper because of my blog. And I am now employed full time as an online journalist at Insider Louisville, in part because of the work that I did with Loueyville.

There are close to 750 posts on this blog. Thank you to every single one of you who's read even one of these posts. You've changed my life.

I know things have slowed to a trickle here since I started working at Insider Louisville. I hope you've followed me there– 80% of the stories I cover for IL are stories I would have covered for Loueyville. It's a dream to be paid for what I've been doing for six years for free. And I am grateful for all the Insider folks for this opportunity.

I'll continue to do my best to fill in the cracks in my reporting for IL here.

Happy sixth anniversary to Loueyville! And thank you for your continued support.


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Ohio Valley Wrestling: the most fun you can have on a Wednesday for $5

Did you see Chad Deity? Jamin Olivencia was part of the cast. 
Ohio Valley Wrestling is probably the most fun you can have for five bucks on a Wednesday night.

I'm a fan of anything that could be considered "spectacle." But I wouldn't have thought that could extend to wrestling if it hadn't been for Actors Theatre's production of The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity last season. That play, which is easily the best play I've seen in Louisville– perhaps even anywhere, humanized the sport and reminded us how much of an "art" it really is.

The thing with wrestling is that you really need to go with a guide. I'm sure after a couple of consecutive visits, you'd pick up on the mythology, but if you go and don't have someone to fill you in on the soap opera, I think it wouldn't be anywhere near as fun.

I was lucky enough to tag along with Louisville actress Leah Roberts, who has been a bunch of times and who knows some of the OV wrestlers. Without her Cliff's Notes version of the rivalries and stereotypes, I would have floundered.

While I could now provide the Cliff's Notes of the Cliff's Notes for a companion, I'm still way fuzzy on the details.

The super duper good guy seems to be a veteran with a prosthetic leg (who is actually a veteran with a prosthetic leg– that's not his character). He's just partnered with a long-haired Mohamed Ali, who is Middle Eastern/Latino and

There's a bad guy named Paradise who is a flamboyant gay character (but in real life is a straight guy named Billy).

There's a syndicate of militia-types called "The Coalition" who, despite their flag-waving, hawkish, U-S-A personas are still the bad syndicate.

From the website:
Thanks for visiting the online home of Ohio Valley Wrestling, the official developmental territory for TNA Impact Wrestling! This is a place where the newest rookies of pro wrestling, other top talent from across the country, and future TNA Superstars come to "learn the ropes" of the squared circle before heading to the world stage! You can have a chance to see the stars before they're stars!

OVW Owner Danny Davis has had a hand in the training of Mr. Anderson, Matt Morgan, TNA Knock Outs ODB, Tara and Mickie James, CM Punk, John Cena, and Randy Orton just to name a few! Danny Davis is also well known as a former professional wrestler himself having wrestled as "The Nightmare" in USWA and NWA. He was also once a manager for Jerry "The King" Lawler.

OVW is excited that the stars training here have an opportunity to be featured on OVW TV and live events, making this the only full-time training facility in the country also providing weekly broadcast TV.

Admission is $5– bring cash; there's a $1 surcharge for card payments. And the concessions offerings are similar to a movie theater, but way, way cheaper. I had a perfectly serviceable cheese hot dog and a can of Diet Coke for $3. Popcorn is just $1.

Shows are at Davis Arena: 4400 Shepherdsville Road. Doors at 630pm and start at 7pm. The arena is deep in the heart of a warehouse/office complex. So have sharp eyes and follow the signs.

Monday, May 27, 2013

If you want to sing out, sing out: Le Petomane performs their Greatest Hits in concert

I am so lucky that the people I love are so genuinely talented. It makes endorsing their events so guilt-free.

A little less than two years ago, I was assigned to write an article for The Paper about Le Petomane Theatre Ensemble's show "5 Things." I'd heard of Le Petomane, heard amazing things in fact, but had never seen them.

For the article, I went to a brainstorming rehearsal, observed their process, met Greg and Abigail Bailey Maupin and Kyle Ware... and fell in love. With all three of them. And their process. And the production. And the Le Petomane concept.

And soon thereafter, I fell in love with Kyle Ware for real.

Le Petomane is one of the best-regarded theatre companies in Louisville. Except for their occasional adaptation of Shakespeare, all of their plays are ensemble-written from the ground up, including the songs. The original music has often been the highlight of their productions-- think They Might Be Giants style smartness with a theatrical bent.

So for the final show of their 9th season, they are reprising their greatest musical hits for a two-night concert next weekend. I'm told they'll be wearing custom-made jumpsuits a la The Brady Bunch or the Partridge Family.

They've chosen the best of the best songs from their productions-- songs that can stand on their own with little context. So don't worry about being a Le Petomane newbie; you'll still "get" it.

The six-person ensemble will be joined by the musical stylings of Brian Lilienthal and the ubiquitous Scott Anthony.

From their press release:

By popular demand, Le Petomane closes its ninth season with a one-weekend-only event: a live concert evening featuring a ridiculous number of original songs from the ensemble’s past shows.  

Le Petomane Theatre Ensemble drew upon songs from nine seasons of original, new work to create an evening of audience favorites. Le Petomane's Concert-ed Effort will feature live music by Le Petomane Theatre Ensemble members Heather Burns, Tony Dingman, Abigail Bailey Maupin, Gregory Maupin, Kristie Rolape and Kyle Ware, along with special guest ringers Professor Scott Anthony and Dr. Brian J. Lilienthal. 

Le Petomane Theatre Ensemble was named Best Theater Troupe in the 2010 and 2011 LEO Weekly Readers’ Choice Awards, and has been described by The Courier-Journal as "simultaneously...hysterical, physical and thought provoking." 

Performances at The Bard's TownMay 31 at 7:30 p.m.June 1 at 7:30 p.m.Tickets$8 – 20 at our cheap and reliable sliding scale*
Contact Us@LePetomane.org or 502-609-2520 for show reservations or more information, or find them on Facebook. For pre-show dinner reservations, please contact The Bard’s Town directly at 502-749-5275.

* a word or two about the sliding scale: one pays what one a) thinks fair and b) can afford; we make a reasonable amount either way. The low end is no higher than the price of a movie ticket; the high end is not such an issue - as a non-profit we will gleefully accept any amount above $20 one cares to give, and will cheerfully provide a receipt of said donation for tax purposes.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

My IL Digest: Our Local Box, Happy Birthday Park, brilliant kids, the Churchill Downs bugler and more

Gabe Bullard in the deserted infield at Churchill
There's so much to love about my job with Insider Louisville

Sure there are drawbacks to every job. 

This one's pretty high-stress at times. Sometimes I find myself climbing the stairs to my office in the morning thinking, "Okay, you're not trying to cure cancer. Things shouldn't have you this worked up."

And as we all know, the comments-section of online journalism is where simple human decency goes to die. We're lucky at IL to not have too, too many trolls, but I assure you, my email in-box is a much thornier place than the comments section. (Really, we all can't agree that a childrens' museum might be a nice thing for the city? You disagree so heartily you have to get ugly about it? Think of the children!)

One of the things that bums me out about my job– and I'm sure all journalists, online, print and otherwise, feel the same way– is how ephemeral it is. I'll pour time and research and effort and care into a story. And at best it booms for a couple of days and gets passed around social media. At worst, it gets some reads and the quietly sinks down the homepage into the archives.

And that's sad. I guess it's a little bit about ego, sure. But it's more about the fact that these people that I report on are doing such remarkable things that I wish these pieces had a little more staying power. 

(Note: all links lead to the full article)

Like Dan Campbell and Jason Lee Menard of Our Local Box, a startup subscription box that is delivering a package full of Kentucky-made goodness to doorsteps across the country every month. I met them at Tony Boombozz, where the idea for their venture first germinated and listened to them wax passionately about ecommerce and buying local. 

Like Marsha Weinstein, who may be one of my new favorite Louisvillagers, who founded the effort to get a Happy Birthday Park installed on Fourth Street to honor the composers and educators Peggy and Mildred Hill. It had been a while since I last chatted with someone who shared my passion for US Women's History. And she brought some pretty serious deficits to my attention. 
According to Marsha Weinstein, there are over 2,400 historical markers in the state of Kentucky. Sixty of them commemorate the lives and accomplishments of women. A quick search of the database of historical markers in the state finds that Weinstein was probably being generous in her estimate. Of all the public memorials and artwork in downtown Louisville, none are dedicated to women.
I eventually confirmed this last fact with the department of Public Art. We have art designed by women (very little) but nothing honoring women. Weinstein is a powerhouse and a passionate advocate for women and girls. It was an honor to spend an hour picking her brain. 
Like Anthony Perry and Susana Almaguer Martinez, whom I didn't speak with but wrote about. These two Louisville high school seniors have 4.0 averages and a remarkable resume of acheievments. They've both been accepted by the Gates Foundation to receive Gates Millenium Scholarships– full rides to the schools of their choice. Perry, from St. Francis, will go to UPenn. Martinez, who has only been in the US for 2 years and attends Seneca, will be going to USF. 
Like Steve Buttleman, the official bugler of Churchill Downs, whom Linda and I interviewed on Louisville, Not Kentucky. The story about our behind-the-scenes adventures at Churchill Downs' Opening Night is one of my all-time favorite stories, I think.
Sometimes, of course, it is all about me. Right? Even though I was sick and cranky, I think my recap of who's going to be performing at the State Fair is still pretty dead-on. Again, pissy comments, but not not fun. Likewise, my rundown of what wasn't allowed at Churchill Downs during the Derby. Jeffrey Lee Puckett of the CJ did it better (video!) later, but I did it first. 
Those articles are just from the past 10 days and represent only a quarter of what I wrote during those days for IL.
I was also interviewed by the fabulous Erin Keane for WFPL's news special on the Great Gatsby and Louisville. The two of us went in search of Daisy Fay's house in the Cherokee Triangle. It was a lovely way to spend a lovely spring morning. You can listen to the story at the link. (you can pick up my part at around 10:00, but if you're into Gatsby at all, don't miss the whole special from the start). Spoiler alert: We didn't find it. We don't think anyone can. That wasn't a journalism-thing. It was a former-English-teacher-thing. But still, part of a good couple of weeks.
Thanks to all of you who bring me great stories or who ARE great stories. You make my life and job so much better.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Man's humanity to man: Boston is in my blood and in my heart

As many of my loyal readers know, the Chipfolk hail from Boston. Mama Lou and her very small family (numbering two) live in SE Connecticut, but my father's extended and extensive family live in the North Shore of Boston or in the immediate Boston area itself.

I spent the first 13 years of my life in Saugus, MA, just 14 miles north of Boston.

I am the black sheep of the Chipfolk. I have a second cousin who lives somewhere in Indonesia (it was Borneo last I knew, but now I'm not so sure), but I am the only other Chip-person who has opted not to live within a T-ride of Boston proper.

My Chipfolk live in Boston or work in Boston or play in Boston.

It was hard to not live in the Boston area when my grandmother took ill and slowly passed away last summer. It was hard to not live in the Boston area when the Red Sox won the World Series (both times). Or when my favorite cousin gave birth to each of her three children.

And today it is hard to not live in the Boston area once again.

All Chipfolk are well and accounted for.

Thank goodness.

And thank goodness for social media and text messaging, which allowed me to find this out within hours, not days.

It will be a long time, I suspect, before the news out of Boston coalesces into something resembling sense. Maybe it never will. The murder of an 8-year-old child will likely never make anything like "sense."

I hope the murder of an 8-year-old child, whether on the streets of Boston or the streets of Baghdad, never makes anything like sense.

But tonight I am overwhelmed by the Pollyanna need to remind each and every one of you that goodness starts with the individual. Goodness and kindness and a better world starts in the heart of one person, multiplied out.

Gosh, this makes me sound like a crazy hippy, and anyone who knows me knows that I am not a crazy hippy (or not much of one– put down the hula hoop, people! no one wants to see that shiz at Waterfront Wednesday!). 

But more than today's bombing reminds me of the Big Picture, it reminds me of the Small Picture. The one that begins with one person choosing to say a kind thing (or nothing at all) when the crappy thing to say is easier. That begins with letting someone else's bad behavior play out in its own way, rather than pointing a neon sign to it and then reveling in that person's error or bad judgement.

That begins without judgement of everyone and anyone who has a different way of thinking or doing, letting those folks find their own way even if you're not a fan of where they're going...

We have seen so many examples of man's humanity to man today:

  • Runners, after completing a marathon, going straight on to donate blood. 
  • First responders who, after hearing the explosions, ran toward the devastation, not away. 
  • Ordinary people offering their homes and free transportation and their cell phones and internet connections and food and comfort to people who couldn't get back to their hotels or parties. 
  • A national outpouring of love and grief and support.

Lately things in my teeny-weeny little corner of Louisville have felt kind of toxic and disappointing.

And then something like this happens, and I am so grateful and so in love with the humanity of humans.

My people are safe. The heroes outnumber the villains. And in the face of tragedy and horribleness, we are all united in support and concern.

Today, I was very proud when Insider Louisville decided to hold all of its posts until tomorrow. I wrote this disclaimer and then got the thumbs up from the boss.

In this case the Big Picture's importance outweighed everything else. As it should have.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Loueyville readers and friends (who I hope are also readers) pledge their time to the LPM pledge drive

The "Loueyville Bloggers"
I'm just bubbling over with gratitude today. Last night, 8 friends and blog readers and I volunteered at the LPM pledge drive. Some were old friends and fund drive vets (Linda, Isaac, Ashlee). Some were newer friends or people I don't see all that often (Haley, Steve, Heather). And two were brand new friends I'd never met before (Emily, Sarah) but who had found out about the drive on the blog.

Thank you, good Louisvillagers.

And thank you too to all the people who volunteered but either couldn't make it or that I had to turn away. Your desire to volunteer and your support of Public Radio makes you awesome. It didn't hurt that we all had a rip-roaring good time. It was a little slow, so we filled the hours with laughter, pet pictures, and joshing around with the LPM folks. Thank you too, Louisville Grind, for feeding us in style.

(On air, they kept calling us the "Loueyville bloggers," so I don't think I'm going to be picking up any new traffic for the on-air thanks. That's fine. They've never gotten it right, actually. What do you think I should have them say? Usually I think they say "Loueyville.com," which makes me wonder if people think it's folks from Louisville.com who are volunteering.  I guess it's my fault for picking a rather silly blog name and sticking with it all these years. I should talk to my marketing friends-- does the blog need to be rebranded? Sorry, just thinking "out loud" here.)

I'm tickled-- tickled, I tell you-- that LPM folks and I already decided that next pledge drive, we'll either take 2 slots or the Friday busiest slot. I don't like turning people away, and I definitely love the heck out of volunteering.

The pledge drive continues through Saturday. If you haven't renewed your membership or become a member this time around, please do so. The number is 502-815-6565. Or you can donate online at www.WFPL.org.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Dishcrawl Louisville Giveaway: Win a $20 gift certificate toward the Derby Crawl

Ever since Dishcrawl made the Louisville scene, I've been wanting to check it out. And I am so excited to have been asked to participate this month in one of two NuLu-based crawls. The first event sold out (but some tickets have recently come available again) in a jiffy, so Dishcrawl added a second night. The two NuLu crawls are on April 16 and 17 and are $45 each.

If you don't know what a Dishcrawl is, it's a progressive dinner event, where you dine at a number of restaurants, usually within walking distance, eating one course at each stop. The starting place and the itinerary remain a mystery to you, so you sign up to participate in a Crawl of a particular neighborhood, pay one price and enjoy whatever the organizers throw at you. It's a great chance to try new places and to hobknob with fellow food enthusiasts (oy, I hate the term "foodie").

It's a food event, a neighborhood event and a social event all rolled into one.

And Allison from Dishcrawl has offered a giveaway to Loueyville readers. After the NuLu events, the next event is a Derby Crawl. Dishcrawl is offering a $20 gift certificate to the Derby Crawl to one of our readers. The event will take place on 4th street on May 1 at 7 p.m.

From the Dishcrawl website:
What better way to spend the least productive work week in Louisville but on a Derby Dishcrawl? Grab your gang for a tour of the 4th Street Area of Town with Derby Inspired items, and be prepared to meet some new friends along the way. You'd better act fast though! These tickets are just like the Derby, they don't hang around long!  It's a guessing game! We’re keeping the names of the restaurants we will be visiting a secret for now, but here and there we’ll give you some hints.  Follow us on Twitter @dishcrawllou and be the first to know! 
How do you win the gift certificate? Go "like" Louisville Dishcrawl on Facebook and follow them on Twitter @dishcrawlLou. Then tell me you've done all that in the comments or email me at lou (at) loueyville.com. And you're entered! If you've already "liked" and followed them, you're still eligible– just make sure you comment or email. We'll pick a winner on April 20 and notify you pronto.

Thanks so much to Dishcrawl Louisville for offering this prize to Loueyville readers. Stay tuned to the blog and my Twitter (@loueyville)  to hear more about my NuLu Crawl experience.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

UPDATED: Public radio plea: Volunteer during the pledge drive and we'll feed you well with GRIND

UPDATE: By 4 p.m. today, 10 people had signed up to volunteer. That's more than we actually need. But the more the merrier, right? Thank you so much for being so totally awesome, folks. I can't accept any more volunteers, but I encourage you to pledge online or call 502-814-6565 and pledge starting next Monday. It would be especially awesome if you called on Thursday, April 11 between 6-9 p.m. to make your pledge with one of our wonderful volunteers! Be well... Melissa

It's public radio pledge time again. And once again, I've secured a block of time for Loueyville readers and friends to answer phones and sign up new pledges with WFPL.  This is our fourth time manning the phones; every time has been more fun than the last. Again, rather than reinventing the wheel, I'm posting an old plea for contributors:

It's that time again, Louisvillagers.

Louisville Public Media is gearing up for their fund drive in a couple of weeks. During the past few fund drives, online personalities have repeatedly said, "Give what you can. Give what Louisville Public Media is worth to you."

[Several fund drives ago],  I realized I really can't afford to give what WFPL and WFPK are worth to me. They are the only radio stations I listen to. WFPL is the source of all my non-online news (and the source of much of my online news as well through their blog). I live in a very NPR world. I probably should pledge 10 times what I actually do in order to really "pay back" what WFPL and WFPK give to my life. 
But I can't. 
So last [3 fund drives ago], I volunteered. Gave a little human capital to the pledge drive. And it was a ton of fun. And it would have been more fun if I'd been with friends.
So this fund drive I'm putting a little group of Readers of Loueyville together to volunteer to answer phones at the fund drive. If you're interested in joining us, please drop me an email at Lou (at) Loueyville.com. 
If you're reading this blog, you probably listen to one of our public radio stations. So I hope you consider giving back. If you can't join us, volunteer to answer phones on your own. Email: kwilkinson@louisvillepublicmedia.org for details. You can also pledge in advance and be eligible for a drawing for a 13" MacBook Air. Just click the link or call 502-814-6565.

We'll be manning the phones on Apr. 11 from 6 p.m until 9 p.m. The free dinner supplier that night is the Grind Burger truck. Yes, I planned our volunteering block with the food source in mind.  

Would you like to join us? Email lou@loueyville.com.

Loueyville: back on the blogging wagon (I hope)


My goodness.

(Did I ever tell you that my pledge name for my college fraternity was “Oh My Goodness”? I guess I said that a lot in college. My actual pledge name was “Hawaii Volcano National Park,” but that didn’t catch on as much. I think it was a reference to my enormous bosoms. I never asked.)

(And yes, I said “fraternity.” I am a proud alum of the literary fraternity Alpha Delta Phi, a fraternity that splintered in the 80’s when several colleges decided that the fraternity should accept women. My chapter at Columbia opted to go co-ed but retain the “fraternity” moniker. Others went with “society.” Women at ADP had the option of being called “brothers” or “sisters.” I went with “brother,” because, you know… tom boy. Are any of you ADP-ers? If so, Xaipe!)

But yes. My goodness.

Oh my goodness. I knew this was going to happen. I didn’t want to believe it, but deep in my heart, I knew.

When I accepted the position of Deputy Director of Content at Insider Louisville, a 30-hour a week position that basically just meant “fancy reporter,” I suspected that days filled with writing about Louisville might mean nights not filled with writing about Louisville.

But I hoped that wouldn’t be the case.

It was.

And in March-ish, I took the position of Assignments Editor at Insider Louisville (ie. “fancy reporter with organizational responsibilities”) full time, and things just got worse.

But my beloved companion reminded me recently that my blog and my blog readers were the start of it all. And that perhaps going back to blogging– however gently– might bring me some joy.

It’s the whole “dance with the one that brung you” sort of thing.

Y’all are the reason I have my current job. Y’all are the reason that I even thought that such a career might exist.

I know a lot of you continue to follow me on Twitter, and some of you may have even followed me to Insider Louisville (I hope ALL of you do BOTH, if you haven’t already). 

But I still owe you and this blog.

So I am committing myself to at least one post a week– one post that’s wholly for the blog and not a rehash of my work for IL.

Speaking of… I am pretty much madly in love with my day job. There’s been very little “looking back” for me. It’s not without its trials, but I still find myself freaking out sometimes when I get in my car in the morning, drive to our NuLu office, and know that I am going to work at an organization where I am being paid to write about this city that I love so damned much. 

I think I’ve done good work at Insider Louisville.

I’ve certainly grown a LOT as a writer. And most of the time, my bosses are very liberal with their gratitude.  And some of the time our readers are grateful too.

Online journalism can be utterly, bleakly demoralizing. I actually have a work email folder labeled “nice things” where I save lovely emails that I receive from readers. It’s a huge help when the maelstrom of crapola hits, and I’m suddenly an anonymous punching bag.

It doesn’t happen often. But it happens enough.

(A reminder to IL readers, if you like an article, comment or at least hit the Facebook “like” button. That shiz actually means something on this end. If you don’t like it, still comment if you feel the need, but remember that there’s a human soul at the other end, reading your vitriol.)

Anyway, I think I am back on the Loueyville horse.

This blog has meant so much to me over the years. I don’t want it to lay by the wayside and die. This blog represents 6 years of my life… more than 750 posts.  And the entry point to my (so far) success as an internet journalist.

So, hopefully, you will see new content here at least once a week. I’m not going to count this post as my post for the week; I have good news in the hopper that I will post very soon.

I will probably also use the blog to reflect back on stories on Insider Louisville– whether or not I have written them– that make me proud.  We’re building a stable of awesome writers, and I want to celebrate them too. But I will add wholly new content to the blog as often as I can.  

I write anywhere from 2-5 stories a day at Insider Louisville, depending on my editing load. That means anywhere from 10-20 posts a week. I promise you, even though I have been hired by a company that has its own (mostly great) agenda, I don’t write about anything I don’t believe in or endorse.

That's important to me. And I will stick to my guns about that.

You can also get these stories by signing up on the Insider Louisville website for the newsletter. All the good stuff will land in your mailbox every morning.  You can pick and choose what you read.

Thanks for your patience with me. Everyone who reads this blog played a part in landing me a job where I do this for a living.

I'm excited to reinvigorate my old audience and to build a new one. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Louisville: My Funny Town

"They are also unimpressed by the Golden Globes."
@usernamelesser
It's January, so over at Consuming Louisville, the lovely and talented Ms. Michelle Jones is featuring her annual column "One Thing I Love About Louisville." I participated a bunch of years ago back when I was still blogging anonymously and before I ever knew anyone here in town; it was actually how I ended up meeting Michelle, who has since become a dear friend and who helped to change my Louisville life.

I've always wanted to participate again, but I'm always flummoxed. How do I come up with ONE thing I love about this city that I love SO MUCH.

Inevitably, after the deadline to volunteer passes, I think of something. And of course, I've thought of that something this year.

One thing I love about Louisville: Louisville is full of funny people.

Google the "funniest actor in Louisville." The top search result leads to my boyfriend. (Who, in my humble opinion, also deserves the title "best laugh in Louisville" and maybe even "most unsung altruist in Louisville.") Sometimes, when I mention that to someone – "you know, my boyfriend's been called the 'funniest actor in Louisville'– people will respond: "Well, IS he?"

And the answer, I think, is yes. He also happens to be a very funny person when not in character. It's what drew me to him in the first place. And it's one of the many things that keeps me psyched about loving him on a day-to-day basis.

I gravitate toward funny people. I like to think that I'm a funny person myself. But the people I love most in the world– and in this city–  are the people who make me laugh hardest and longest.

And it's not just the "expected" people; I spend a lot of time with actors and performers and writers and "public figures," and it's not surprising that they're quick with a quip.

It's my friend who graffitis her Twitter pictures with images of cats.

It's the fact sometimes I will lose whole hours at work because my co-workers (all of whom are my "superiors" at work, so I feel justified in playing along) get on a roll with funny stories.

It's my favorite mom and our friends rewriting the rulebook for the Montessori school her daughter attends.

But no joke, the funniest thing I've seen all year is local twitter humorist "Brokey McPoverty" (best handle ever!) and her #RespectableHipHop meme.

I have to admit, I follow then unfollow Brokey all the time. She's a prolific tweeter, and sometimes when she's on a roll, it is pure gold. And sometimes I'm so busy that her prolificness is just too much for my feed, and I pull the plug.

But after this most recent "roll," I may never pull the plug again.

Genius.

From her blog:

Last night, much of Twitter united to reclaim and rewrite our favorite less-than-progressive rap and hip hop lyrics.  It was a beautiful thing.
It all started when I was listening to 2 Chainz, which I do when there’s no one around to judge me for it, and I thought about the line “She got a big booty, so I call her big booty.”  I thought to myself, really?  You can’t find a more inventive nickname than that?  This is what’s passing for a rap lyric these days?  Then I thought to myself–how fucking rude.  You strip her of her name–her entire identity–and refer to her by her ass??  Inappropriate, 2 Chainz.  Not cool at all.  So, I revised it for him.
respectablehiphop
Then figured, why not help out some other misguided hippety hop rappers, too.  Thankfully, Twitter joined in on the campaign and what we got was a few of the most hilarious hours of tweets I’ve seen in awhile.  Not putting all of them here was tough, but here are some of the best.



I laughed so hard I hurt myself. That's the best kind of ouch in the world.

We have a lot of "professionally funny" people here in Louisville. We're lucky to have the Comedy Caravan and The Bard's Town. I'm not too broken up about the loss of The Improv on 4th Street Live! because we have these two homegrown venues. We have the Louisville Improvisors and Le Petomane Theatre Ensemble.  Hunter S. Thompson was funny. Muhammad Ali was and is hilarious at times.

There's Kentucky for Kentucky and Lebowski Fest. And we're about to host Pee Wee Over Louisville.

Joseph Ley's, Why Louisville, even the recently-departed and WAY-controversial Lynn's Paradise Cafe: funny stuff.

We're a funny town. We're a smart town. And I love that so often I will meet a new person and think: "Wow, that's the funniest conversation I've had in...."

In what? A week? Maybe? At most?

I love that Louisvillagers makes me laugh. For all the right reasons. Y'all are funny, funny people. Thank you for entertaining me.

Friday, December 28, 2012

High highs and low lows: 2012

When, in January of this year, I decided not to renew my contract at the Louisville Collegiate School where I had been teaching for six years, I never imagined that the leap I was taking would propel me this far.

I never imagined that starting in the fall, I would wake up in the morning, throw on some clothes, – jeans are work clothes for the first time in a dozen years! –  get in my car, drive to Nulu, go to an office where I have a big fancy desk, and spend my work day being paid to write about all of the amazing things that are happening in Louisville.

520 East Brands Holiday Lunch
I never imagined I would work for people and for a company that values me and my voice. I never imagined that my bosses would praise my work on a near-daily basis (or that I would butt heads with them, uglylike, on occasion). Or that I would be paid to tweet on behalf of local businesses that I love.

I never imagined that my blogging and Tweeting habits (or addictions) would be what eventually earned me a living.

I never imagined that clients would seek me out. That I would be, at one point, so overloaded that I had to turn down work.

I thought that I would end up working for The Man, at least for a little while until I could distinguish myself and work my way up some ladder or another. I thought I would end up on the payroll of Brown-Forman or Humana or YUM!, towing a corporate line. Nothing wrong with that, of course. And I wouldn't turn down that opportunity, even now, necessarily.

2012 has been a year of high highs and low lows.

At the turn of the new year last year, I never would have imagined that as I approached 2013 I would be in Love with a capital "L." It's an amazing feeling. I kind of forgot how great it was.

I never imagined that my friend stable would double in size.  That I would know so many of my Twitter friends personally.  That the world will at the same time become bigger and smaller to me in this way.

I never thought I could be this happy professionally. Personally.

My grandmother
I also never anticipated being this sad.

I never imagined that I would face 2013 without my favorite person in the world, my grandmother, Vange.

I still have so much work to do to balance out my personal life and my professional life. I have so much to do to become the person that I want to be in 2013.

But I am so lucky to have so many amazing people rooting for me. I'm so lucky that when I wake up in the morning and crankily scrape the frost from my car windows, I am going to a job I love at a business I believe in.

I get to cheerlead for Louisville for a living. There's no job better suited to me than that.


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Cats & Musicals & Angels for No Kill Louisville

Editor's note: Because I have been working so hard at Insider Louisville, it's been a while since I let my freak flag fly on my own blog (not that I don't let my freak flag fly at IL-- bless their hearts for employing me anyway). So you get an extra helping of Lou here in this post. If you're only interested in the facts, skip down to the italicized bits. Lo siento mucho. I'll try to do better with moderation. -- Lou

Sometimes you just have to own your shortcomings.

Here's one that I'm willing to own: Sometimes (*cough* too often), I make up my mind about something based on what will later prove to be less-than-sufficient evidence. And I can be... well, a little recalcitrant about my opinions.

Exhibit A: musicals.

Ever since high school I have claimed to hate musicals. In retrospect, this may have been a case of sour grapes. I can't sing worth a damn. It's so bad, in fact, that Mama Lou would sometimes shush me when I was singing in the car (unless I was doing my spot-on imitation of Willie Nelson. Or Julio Iglesias. No joke, I can do both parts of "To All The Girls I've Loved Before," and you'd think that Willie and Julio were right there in the room with you... I never said I wasn't talented.).

I could dance, though. So I was always cast in the musicals in the silent dancing role. But I never got to sing unless I was deep, deep in the chorus.

(Oh goodness, sudden childhood trauma flashback: practicing for my first communion, I was asked by one of my classmates to just mouth the words of the hymn because I was throwing her off!)

But thanks to the good people at Broadway Across America here in Louisville, I've gotten over my "I hate musicals" prejudice. Sure, some of them still grate (I'm looking at you, WICKED), but I have been utterly delighted by the most surprising of musicals. LEGALLY BLONDE? So charming! JERSEY BOYS (now through Dec 2 at the Kentucky Center)? I'm not even keen on Frankie Valli's music and I loved it!

Opinion changed. You live, you learn.

Exhibit B: cats

This is a lighthearted post, so I'm not going to trace this back to very dark roots. Suffice to say that I have experienced two cat deaths that shook me so deeply that I convinced myself that I didn't like cats at all.

But I've been dating a cat person (actually an animal person, in general) for a little more than a year. And I've gotten to know his two beloved felines. And after months of practiced indifference I find myself deep in the thrall of kitty love. I talk to them all of the time-- even when The Guy isn't around. I am comforted when they cuddle with me at night. I am, I admit, a bit jealous when we both call for the cats and they inevitable choose to jump up on his side of the couch.

Do I love cats? I don't know. But I love these cats.

Opinion changed. You live, you learn.

Sorry to be Chatty Cathy there... sometimes I just get on a tangent.

Anyway, off to the point of the post:

No Kill Louisville is organizing it's 3rd annual Pet Angel Tree. 17 area businesses are hosting trees and serving as drop-off spots for donations for 17 area pet shelters. Each tree is decorated with tags representing wish-list items for the shelter. Take a tag, purchase something for the shelter, and drop off the gift where you picked up the tag.

It's so simple to do, and the needs, too, are very basic.

From the NLK news release:


Pet lovers can find a listing of the businesses taking part at nokill-louisville.com. Wish lists for each of the 17 area shelters and rescues in the program are also located on the site.  This year-end effort seeks to help thousands of abandoned and abused animals by providing needed supplies to area shelters and rescues. During our first year, No Kill Louisville’s Pet Angel Tree project collected more than $15,000 in food, equipment and other materials - all for local rescues and shelters.
Items needed for the upcoming year include but are not limited to cat or dog treats, paper towels, bleach, Ziploc bags, pens, peanut butter, dish soap, dog or cat food, gently used sheets and blankets, dog or cat collars, leashes, and much more.  For a full wish list, go to nokill-louisville.com/pet-angel-trees

Those who want to help can also choose to pick up a tag from a Pet Angel Tree at one of the following locations which also serve as the donation drop-off points (also listed in our website at the above address):

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Some things are important: Slant Culture Theatre Festival

Some things are just important.

The Slant Culture Theatre Festival is one of those things.

It's important because we are a theater-loving, arts-supporting community, and we deserve something like this.

It's important because we're the home of the Humana Festival, and we should have a home-grown equivalent.

Side note: the Humana Festival 2013 schedule was announced today. Check out Erin Keane's coverage here. The exciting news is that, except for an anthology performance, all the playwrights featured are new to the Fest.

I'm not going to reinvent the wheel in this post. I already covered the Slant Culture Fest in an article for the Louisville Paper. Check it out here.

But it is important. We should support it. We want it to come back next year and for many years to come. It features five of the best and most exciting local theatre companies in rep, including my beloved Le Petomane performing my favorite play of theirs, 5 THINGS. (Also, check out Le Petomane's snazzy new website!)

I went to the launch and heard the fabulous Joel Henderson and the 40 Gallon Baptist and the sublime Cheyenne Marie Mize. I saw 5 THINGS and BUY THE BOOK last night.

There's still a full week left. Get a day pass, a weekend pass, or a pass for the whole shebang. You'll want to check out more than just one thing.

But, go. Support. Enjoy. We deserve this.

Friday, November 9, 2012

NPOTM: Hand in Hand Ministries

One of the many things I love about Louisvillagers is their willingness to come together and share ideas. The idea for Non-Profit of the Month sprang from a conversation I had during a lunch with the lovely and talented Robyn Sekula in late May. So next time you see her, thank her.

Each month for the foreseeable future, My Loueyville will feature an ad and promoted content from a non-profit that I believe in and want to celebrate. On the website, you'll see a prominent ad and throughout the month, the blog will feature guest posts, contests, and/or special posts related to that non-profit.


When Robyn Sekula approached me with an idea for a new Non-Profit of the Month, I pretty much had to say "yes." This whole thing was her idea, after all.


But bless her for "getting" me and this blog and the kinds of stuff that I am happy to throw my support into. In fact, her initial email about this group included this disclaimer: "This is a NON-PROSTHELYIZING organization. They send teams of college students and adults to these countries, and it’s amazing the stories they bring back to us."


Well, alright then. That's good enough for me.


Here's how Robyn explains Hand in Hand Ministries:

Hand in Hand Ministries is a Louisville, Ky.-based international service organization that works to share life’s essentials, including shelter, medical care and educational opportunities, with the world’s poor. We do this by leading groups of volunteers living in the United States and Canada on immersion trips to Appalachia, Belize and Nicaragua. Immersion trip teams are made up of individual volunteers, or groups from universities, high schools, or churches. Most groups work side by side with local people to build or repair homes. Others provide medical, or educational assistance, depending on the skills of those on the trip. An important part of each trip is to immerse the volunteers in the culture of each region and to encourage year-round support of our educational and medical programs. It is our hope that our volunteers will return home and become better for the experience while working to build a more just world. In all that we do, we seek to build community.

Next week is one of Hand in Hand's biggest events. The Legacy Breakfast is on Nov. 13 at 7:30 a.m. (registration at 7 a.m.) at the Olmstead. This is the ninth annual event and it is free and open to the public and up to 400 people are expected.


Here's how the news release describes the Legacy Breakfast: "The event will feature two speakers. An 11-year-old boy named Mauro from Nicaragua will speak, along with two young men from Appalachia who plan to further their education after volunteers helped them with their home this past summer."


Unfortunately, I dropped the ball a bit, what with being so busy lately... you have to RSVP TODAY to attend the event. 


To make a reservation, call Hand in Hand at (502) 459-9930 or visit the web site, www.myhandinhand.org, and make a reservation through the link on the home page.

Do it. Go and learn more about this incredible program. 

Thanks to Robyn for bringing this to my attention. And my apologies for not getting this information out there soon enough.