Unbelievable though it may seem — I, Ellen, am the owner of a pair of  ridiculous, platform sandals. They are red. They are, as I mentioned, ridiculous and I, of course, love them.

And I paid only one dollar.

Indeed, how it all went down was a little unbelievable and, of course, it happened at Shoe Carnival, home of the ridiculous when it comes purchasing shoes.

To quote someone I worked with long ago, if I only wore them to take out the trash, I’d be getting my money’s worth. But of course, I wouldn’t be doing that. I’ve got other shoes reserved for trash-taking duty.

So there I was at Shoe Carnival buying my son Tras some shoes, and to get to the children’s department, you have to pass Ladies Shoes. Well, to get anywhere you have to pass Ladies Shoes, seeing as it takes up fully the middle two-thirds of the store. On this particular day, there was a sale table and I won’t lie, I did stop to see if there was anything there I had to have.

Ta-da!I found these.

Just $10! Marked down from $39.99. Pretty sweet deal. And though I woudn’t be wearing them, as Audrey suggested, to convey rubbish to the curb, if I traipsed about in them two or three times in the coming summer it would totally be worth it. So I tried them on, posed a bit in the mirror —

And, pronouncing  them fabulous, tucked them under my arm and we continued our journey to Children’s.

But lo, what is that I hear, blistering my ears over the loudspeaker? It’s the Shoe Carnival Barker, announcing a that all pink-tag shoes, for the next 10 minutes would be marked HALF OFF. Just bring it to a carnie, and they’ll mark it down.

Back to the sale table I went, and my shoes were duly marked down to $5.

Can I get an AMEN?

We resumed our trek for Trassie’s shoes, selected them in short order, and were drifting cash-registerward when again, the loudspeaker doth proclaim —

“Contest! All women wearing sandals come forward!” So, since I was wearing sandals, come forward I did and took my place in a quickly forming line.

“We’re having a pedicure contest!” brayed the carnie – and immediately, two women bolted.

The rest of us laughed; I a bit more jovially than most because, owing to the fact that my sister Leah had recently gotten married, I sported only the second pedicure I’d ever had in my life.

I stood there glorying in my French-manicured toes, confident that I could be A CONTENDER.

So maybe you can guess the rest. One of the carnies looked over our tootsies  and narrowed the field down to another lady and me. Being (as I believe I have mentioned before) ridiculous, I did a little pirouette, and the other woman, whose toes were every bit as nice as mine, said, “Give it to her!” And so I won, and so I spun, and was handed a coupon for $4 off my purchase. My $5 purchase.

Loud and proud

This wasn’t the only time Shoe Carnival has made me dance for my coupon. Well, what I’ve done in the past is sing. Once it was “I’m a Little Teapot” which earned me a $5-off coupon. Another day, anyone who knew all the words to the theme song to Spongebob Squarepants was invited up to caterwaul for those assembled.

My children have gone from being oblivious to my antics, to being embarrassed by them, and now have muscled their way through the gag reflect and are merely tolerant when I sing or dance in public, which thankfully (even to me) I do only rarely.

Although it makes you kind of wonder, doesn’t it, what I could get away with if I went searching for my old tap shoes and really cut loose.


Kangaroos, mate

I do a blog for work, about the programs we air. Today, I posted a series of adorable kangaroo photos from the BBC series Kangaroo Dundee, which begins tomorrow, June 3 on KET. If you’re not in Kentucky, check local listings to see if your public television station is airing it.

As I said, the photos are extremely cute.

I can’t stand it!

Click below to see them all, and learn more about the program Kangaroo Dundee. Enjoy!

This needs wider recognition

If you know anything about American country and folk music, you know the name John Prine.

He’s famous for, among other things, penning the lyrics to his early song “Paradise,” which I always sing when traveling to the western part of the beautiful state of Kentucky and across the Green River —

And daddy won’t you take me back to Muhlenberg County
Down by the Green River where Paradise lay
Well, I’m sorry my son, but you’re too late in asking
Mister Peabody’s coal train has hauled it away

You may not have heard this song, entitled “In Spite of Ourselves,” which he sings below with Iris DeMent. I hadn’t. As you’ll hear in Prine’s remarks, the song appears in the end-credits in the 2001 movie in which he co-starred with Billy Bob Thornton, Daddy & Them.

Fun fact about Mr. Prine: Along with Ed Wood, of “worst director in Hollywood” fame, he and I share the same birthday, October 10. Mark your calendars, now — and celebrate for a month of Sundays.

Lather, rinse, repeat

There are a few things in my exciting daily life that, with repetition, have worn me down. I’ve gone from puzzlement to perplexity, to what is now full-on minor annoyance.

Let me explain.

Take shampooing hair. The labels ubiquitously contain directions which nobody needs; that is, “lather, rinse, repeat.” This is something, I feel confident in saying, that most people could manage without taking the time to read up on it first. (The “repeat,” of course, is a separate issue; many people maintain it’s there just to sell more shampoo.)

Similarly, I am confronted daily by two completely superfluous painted arrows, imparting glaringly unneeded directions, in the parking lot of my son’s school. The first arrow points the driver to drive along the brick circular road behind the building, where the driver is currently driving.

Go here. You’re already here? Good.

This arrow appears on a new driveway, installed just a couple years ago when the school was remodeled. There are so many cars in the pick-up and drop-off lane now that they needed more space to line up all the cars. So behind the school we go, and then back out to the front, pick up our kids, and leave.

(The traffic jam caused by two other schools directly next door and across the street is, again, a separate issue that makes me want to slap 1950s Lexington city land-use permit granters.)

The second painted arrow is halfway around the circular drive. It clearly encourages the driver to continue driving around the circle.

You know what? There’s nowhere else to drive. You either go around the circle or you take off cross-country through the park behind the school.

“Oh gosh! Where do I go? Do I continue turning the wheel left? Or do I go across the grass and drive straight into Southland Pool? Oh, help!!! What do I do?? Don’t panic, don’t panic. Breathe.”

(Sees arrow.)

“O thank heavens. There’s an arrow. I keep turning. WHEW.”

Said nobody ever.

So there’s that. Arrows painted on what otherwise would be an unmarred, attractive, unexpected little feature of elementary-school design: a brick paved driveway solely for the enjoyment of the parents taking their kids to school.

Situation #2: Communion Crowd Control

At a parish I used to belong to, the ushers were very hands-on. I don’t know about Protestant churches, but many Catholic churches have ushers, whose main duty is to use baskets on poles to whack people when it’s time for the offertory shake-down … no, that’s not true.

They slide the baskets down in front of people sitting in the pews for them to place their offering in. Or, they supervise baskets that are just passed from hand to hand. Either way, this is a job that, sort of, requires personnel.

What churches don’t need, in my opinion, is ushers who do communion line crowd-control.

Communion is pretty simple process. Get up, get in line, receive the Body of Christ. Kneel down, pray. The end.

But no. In some places, the ushers think standing up and getting in line is too complex a task for your average Cradle Catholic who’s been doing it since the age of 7. They stand guard at the front pew, blocking the exit like a border collie to keep eager-receivers from storming the altar like sheep on steroids.

Then, when THEY deem it the appropriate time, they take a step backward to permit everyone in that pew ONLY to get up and get in line. After these sheep exit the pew, another step backward, and Pew Two is good to go.

And so it goes through the whole church. Don’t anyone get too frisky, now, and muscle your way out early. There’s that usher, making sure you keep to the line.

And to ensure that everything goes smoothly, they’ve got walkie-talkies to relay information to one another about the more suspicious communicants.

Well, maybe not actual walkie-talkies. But they look capable of it.

Mercifully, my current parish has deemed us trustworthy enough to get up and go to communion our own, and as yet, there have been no incidents. I just hope the ushers don’t start feeling useless and implement draconian changes.

But if they do, we could start something a childhood friend once daydreamed about — an Usher Olympics where we’d clock them on how fast they can race though the pews with their offertory baskets.

I volunteer to paint the arrows in the aisles so that they know which way to go.