Features, Lifestyle, Arts, Culture and Entertainment Reporting


These are a few of the stories I have written over the years on these topics.


The Year of the Living Dead

This year, Brandi LaShay Wesley was named Zombie Queen of the Mississippi International Film festival Zombie Ball. The Ridgeland resident and Madison hairstylist is quite the zombie fan. "I dress as a zombie all year," she said. "Me and some of my friends will do it just for fun and take picture and post them on social networks.

From 'Weeds' to 'Suburgatory': Tupelo native Allie Grant shines

When Allie Grant was in the third grade at Church Street Elementary School in Tupelo, she became obessed with the film "Rain Man." "I came to school as Rain Man," she said, which prompted her teacher to call her mother out of concern.

Vintage Aprons: Mississippians can't cut those apron strings

As one of only two women employed full-time for the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office, Brookhaven deputy Krysten Butler carries a gun and badge, and with versatility, works an array of cases, from narcotics investigations to child abuse and sexual assualt crimes.

Babalu for Tapas, Tacos: 'I Love Lucy'-themed restaurant opens in Fondren

ILove Lucy fans are familiar with the word "Babalu." Ricky Ricardo frequently belted out his signature song, a Cuban standard, at his club before it was renamed Club Babalu.

Games people play: Today's electronics astonish industry's pioneer players

Like an ancient artifact recovered from a forgotten crypt revealing a story of past civilizations, Ridgeland siblings, Keely and Keaton Kennedy, 13 and 10, could not identify the peculiar object in their grandparents' Louisville living room. "They have this thing that my dad used to play with," Keely said, describing the relic. "I don't really know what it is. It's like really old. You move a thing around, and it hits a ball with a paddle on the screen. It's like a controller attached to the TV."

Totes: A stylish way to go green

Many college students are familiar with the acronym BYOB, but it has an entirely different meaning for Kimberly Ragsdale, 19. Nope, we're not talking about booze or beer. Today BYOB also means Bring Your Own Bag, a campaign sparked by the environmentally conscious followers of the "going green" movement that encourages citizens to bring a cloth bag while shopping to carry purchases instead of using paper or plastic bags offered at most stores.

Beauty and the Bargain: Looking good doesn't have to cost a fortune

Edwards resident Sabrina Cagle once bought a house because it was near the mall and spent $800 a month on clothing, but that went out of style when she discovered how much money she could save shopping at discount thrift shops, consignment boutiques and garage sales. Bargain hunting has become a passion for Cagle and friends Brenda Allred and Cathy Ambrose, who spend their weekends scavenger hunting for fashion finds.

Southern Belle: Refinement redefined

Karlyn Ritchie, the new manager of the antebellum home Rosalie in Natchez, will become a Southern belle this fall, wearing a replica gown identical to the one worn in photographs by Anne Eliza Wilson, the home's former owner.Polished plaid cotton, bell-shaped sleeves, an angular waist line, a full hoop skirt and a constricting corset helped define Wilson as a Natchez belle of the 1850s. Like many Mississippi towns that lure tourists with historic architecture, belles in hoop skirts will show their hospitality in September when the Natchez Fall Pilgrimage Tour begins.


Fresh faces, old places: Celeb makeup artist Billy Brasfield gives Mississippi hometown a makeover

Billy Brasfield felt like a colorful outsider growing up in monochrome Aberdeen. So after graduating high school in 1981, he planned his escape to New York City, where he has since painted the town as one of the world's top makeup artists. Today, Brasfield, 44, has a different perspective. He is renovating 17 homes in Aberdeen, and has purchased and sold 20 others, investing more than $500,000 in the town he was so eager to leave more than 20 years ago. 

Blueberries: State's research efforts bear fruit

The Fourth of July is a month away, but Mississippi is already going red, white and blueberry. July has been designated National Blueberry Month, but two Mississippi festivals will honor the fruit this month. Along with Concord grapes and cranberries, blueberries are the only fruits native to North America, according to the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council. But blueberries weren't commercially grown in Mississippi until the 1970s.

Bottled-up emotions: Bottle tree may be symbol of the new South

As a kid, Rick Griffin often saw bottle trees while traveling between Ocean Springs and Vicksburg to visit his grandparents. Fascinated by them, he later erected a 10-foot bottle tree in his yard. "It's about being a nonconformist," said Griffin, a landscape architect who owns the Jackson furniture and design store Latitudes. "When you want to be a little different, and you like to loosen up and have fun things, you have a bottle tree."

Born (again) to be wild: Motorcycle ministries

Terry Woody Osborn spent many years as a church leader before drifting away. It took a motorcycle gang to bring him back. The Clinton dentist said he rebuilt his relationship with God while constructing a custom-built bike dubbed "Armageddon." Representing the dual nature of man - light and dark - the bike is covered with scripture and dark imagery. For the past three years, Osborn has ridden his bike with Ridgeland's LifeBridge Church biker ministry, one of hundreds now in the U.S.

Her boyfriend's back: Teenage sweethearts reunited in nursing home

The scent of pine dilutes the smell of sterility and humanity that hovers about the nursing home. Patients ease their way down the corridor in wheelchairs, but one sits in her room, content and covered in red. Nails painted red, class ring with a ruby stone, crimson heart hanging above her bed. Her boyfriend gave it to her.

Ride a horse; save cowboy

Dean Cook spent two years leading a Kentucky church before he rode back into town to create a church for horse enthusiasts. Last month, the Baptist preacher took the reins of His Brand: Cowboy Church in the Dirt, a Brandon nondenominational ministry. It's one of at least 200 U.S. cowboy churches with the objective: Ride a horse; save a cowboy.

Writer's memory honored: Welty recalled as fascinating person

She had a unique inside view of Eudora Welty's world. Daryl Howard was the personal caretaker of the Pulitzer Prize-winning author for the last 10 years of her life, and she held the 92-year-old writer's hand the day she passed away in July 2001 at Baptist Medical Center in Jackson. The two had met there a decade earlier.

What's Bugging You?: Love Bugs

Ah, love is in the air ... love bugs, that is. You've probably seen them drifting about, swatted them, or cleaned them off your car, but you may not have looked closely enough to realize that the numerous flies floating about are bug couples locked in a love embrace so passionate it will result in their demise in a matter of days.

Feline fashion conscious: Will the trend have nine lives?

Every once and a while, a trend comes along that you may not be able to sink your claws into. Maybe it's a style inspired by an Asian motif or the popular Internet meme Grumpy Cat, but like it or not, feline fashion is currently the cat's meow.

A spirited pastime: A guide to wine

Leslie McHardy worked as a bartender at Bayona, a well-known New Orleans restaurant in the heart of the French Quarter, before moving to Jackson. When Bravo! Italian Restaurant & Bar opened in Highland Village in 1994, she became the bartender and, three years later, she took over the restaurant's wine program as the sommelier.

Beth Nielsen Chapman shares stage with Alabama troupe

She co-wrote the 1998 hit "This Kiss," a song made popular by Mississippi native Faith Hill that became the soundtrack for the movie "Practical Magic." It was nominated for a Grammy and was the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers' 1999 Song Of The Year.

Fight Club: Sermon series teaches couples how to stabalize a rocky marriage

The boxing referee enticed the crowd and introduced the robed fighters. In one corner of the ring was Steve Theim, a former Army sergeant. In the other corner - Rachel Theim, a fitness instructor. And standing between the married couple was Pastor Phillip Thurman, who used the fictional match to creatively introduce a new sermon series called "Ultimate Fight Club."

Charlie Mars: Native to perform in Oxford, Jackson

In the song off Mississippi native Charlie Mars' latest album, "Blackberry Light" (Rockingham Records/Thirty Tigers), he conveys the uncertainty of life for the young and the restless who ramble around trying to find their place in the world. "One minute I want to pick up and move on," he sings. "The next minute I want to pack up and move home." Home is Oxford, where Mars has lived since 2000 (minus a three-year stint in New York City) while building a career and fan base.

The Little Preacher: Samuel Green is a 7-year-old spiritual sensation

At age 5, he stood in the pulpit at Birmingham's Ephesus Seventh-day Adventist Church wearing a pinstriped vest and tie while a woman sitting beside him wiped her eyes and waved her hands as he preached his first sermon called “Double For Your Trouble." It was about Job, a man who lost everything, continued to have faith in God despite his trials and was eventually given more than he lost by God as a reward for his devotion.

Bringing India to Mississippi

Mississippi's Hindu population has increased since Dr. Sampat Shivangi immigrated to the state in 1978, just as the population nationally has done. The Hindu population of America has grown from 1,700 in 1900 to 2.29 million in 2008. When Shivangi moved to Mississippi, only a handful of Indian families were living in the state. Today, "I would (estimate that there are) close to 1,000," said Shivangi, chairman of the Hindu Temple Society of Mississippi's Public Relations Committee.

'The Man I am Today': Mississippi native recounts pain, hope; prepares for local concert

Byram resident Wanda Adams met country music star Ty Herndon in 1995 through his tour manager. She forged a friendship with the artist that has spanned more than a decade, and because of that relationship, Herndon has granted Adams' request to perform at her Byram church. He will sing music from his new Christian CD Journey On at 7 p.m. July 24 at the First Baptist Church of Byram.

Recipe for success: Cooking shows inspire new generation of Mississippi chefs

Fulton native David Leathers, 28, grew up helping his father, Rick, run the family restaurant, Rick's Barbecue. "There were no ifs, ands or buts," he said. "You had to help the family business thrive." Today, he is one of many young Mississippians pursuing a career in the culinary arts, a field that may be growing in part because of television chefs like Emeril Lagasse, Jackson native Cat Cora and Bobby Flay, who appeared at Mistletoe Marketplace last week.

Crazy yard art

Deep in the concrete jungles of Ridgeland, right off Old Canton Road in an urban shopping center, is a foliage-filled sanctuary of wild animals so brightly colored that passersby can't help but turn their heads, startled by giant giraffes, zebras and butterflies. You may hear a monkey squeal, a frog ribbit, birds caw and sheep bleat if your imagination runs as wild as the yard art on display at Freshway Produce. Like other stores in the Jackson metro area, Freshway has become a colorful place where shoppers looking for unique and eye-catching art can purchase something "cra-zazy" that's guaranteed to make your garden ferocious and fierce while your neighbors' is tame.

Jackson Jewish Film Festival: Terrorism explored in several contemporary productions

Islam is at a crossroads in America. That is the theme of a conference this weekend at Jackson's International Museum of Muslim Cultures. The event marks the museum's eighth anniversary. Okolo Rashid, co-founder and IMMC executive director, said world-renowned scholars are speaking at the Jackson Convention Complex. The conference, which began Friday and continues through Sunday, is designed to open an international dialogue about American/Muslim relationships.

Curious college collections: Famous manuscripts, artwork and music boost profile of Mississippi's college campuses

In file cabinets and boxes, manila folders and vaults at Mississippi colleges, you'll find well-known folks tucked away for safe keeping, like John Grisham and B.B. King, Salvador Dali, and even Curious George, who has been monkeying around the University of Southern Mississippi since 1996. They are part of college collections, some of which contain rare, irreplaceable, priceless materials that attract visitors from all over the world.


Don't Call Me Grandma: Young at heart picking out hipper labels

Envision the traditional grandma, and you may see a demure, gray-haired lady with spectacles and ball-pinned hair, who bakes cookies from scratch and knits in an antique rocker. She was probably called "grandmother," "granny" or maybe even "mamaw," a moniker 51-year-old Molly Chandler of Jackson just couldn't imagine adopting.

Dorm decor: Students use color schemes for top-of-the-class living quarters

Shelbi Bobo said goodbye to Clinton High School in May and will start anew Aug. 27 at Mississippi College as a chemical and medical science major. There will be books to buy and a new college wardrobe, but right now, Bobo is focused on decorating her dorm - a place where she'll learn independence.


Cloaks of many causes: 'Little green dress' makes a statement

Jackson native Meredith Walker Sullivan, 28, earned a degree in marketing from Mississippi State University and later enrolled in New York City's Fashion Institute of Technology. She studied fashion merchandising and management, eventually meeting Stephanie Doucette, one of the lead designers behind the Doucette Duvall clothing line.


Selah Sees Faith Tested: Christian group to perform in Jackson

Headed to her first piano lesson, 4-year-old Amy Perry insisted she wanted to sing instead. My mother told the piano teacher that she didn't know if I was going to participate, but the teacher also taught voice lessons," Perry said. "I went in with her, and about five minutes later, she came out and told my mom: 'She's not a piano player. She's a singer.'"

Down with 'Downton Abbey': Mississippi fans never disappointed with MPB show

In the first season of "Downton Abbey," it was clear that times were changing. The year was 1914, and the aristocratic Crawley family had just received news that someone they knew had drowned in the RMS Titanic disaster. An inheritance crises threatened the family and their estate, but perhaps the most shocking scene of the season was when the youngest daughter — the liberal and politically-minded, Lady Sybil, who was eight years away from seeing women get the right to vote — confidently descended the staircase wearing a custom-made garment with a flowing split skirt or (or dare we say — pants) symbolizing a change in society mores of the early 20th century.

Trashing the dress: Brides leaving veil of tradition take the plunge into latest photography trend

Newly wed Kimberly Brook Hubler of Brandon stands on the edge of a fountain perched over the swimming pool at Jackson's Camp, a popular Ridgeland wedding site. Wrapped in a satin bustier with ruffles of tulle, she gathers the layers, pulling them above her knees so she won't trip. Then she holds her breath and takes the plunge. The wedding dress muffles the sound of the splash. A cloud of white fabric surrounds her underwater. Then, she momentarily emerges with wet hair and makeup intact. "Do you want your veil on?" asks her mother, Jan Winter.

Faith, family and ducks: Mississippians identify with Duck Dynasty's moral message

Daniel Jones, a student minister at Corinth's Tate Baptist Church, recently went to a worship service wearing a long, fake beard while dressed as Uncle Si Robertson from the popular A&E reality television series "Duck Dynasty." "I did have to take it off when I preached because it was a distraction," said Jones, whose church recently held a "Duck Dynasty"-themed party for its youth group.

Naturally fashionable: Trendsetters take their cue from Mother Nature

Inspired by a growing "green" movement, designers in the world of fashion and art are branching out, making trees and birds, two of the most popular motifs of the moment. The use of recycled materials and environmentally-friendly fabrics is also coming into its own. Emily Hassell, manager of the Jackson store Turkoyz, said the boutique carries many tree and bird items. "We have lots of things with trees that say 'protect,'" Hassell said. "We have several stretchy, wooden, beaded bracelets that we can't keep in stock. They also feature trees. And we have a lot of tree earrings and natural-looking jewelry."

Married to Tradition: Henna Night offers glimpse into Turkish culture

The conservatively dressed women rushed to get in line when asked if they wanted a free tattoo. One by one, they sat and watched an artist adorn their hands and arms with intricate designs that some call fooffys, humps, wibbleleafs, ziggyzoggys, fishbones, mummies and sprouts. While Gloria Borders asked for a small flower that wouldn't be distracting during Sunday morning choir service at Fannin United Methodist Church, Elise Morse-Gagne, a Tougaloo English professor, let them cover the back of her hand with a web of lines. And she didn't object when daughter Katie, 13, did the same.

Dogs rule catwalk: Pet clothing sales soar

Petey McLean knows he's the man, with an extensive wardrobe and confident swagger reminscent of John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. Yes, you can tell by the way he uses his walk, he's a woman's dog, no time to talk. And like Travolta, he's no stranger to disco. Confident in his manhood, he once donned a sequined gown to become song diva Petey LaBelle for a '70s-themed costume contest. "He even has a Sweet Potato Queen outfit that I made with a red wig and a crown," said owner Julie McLean of Jackson. In February, the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association reported that pet spending had exceeded industry projections for 2007.

Spy Games: Santa's new spies are latest holiday craze

It's an age-old fact that Santa Claus makes a list and checks it twice to find out who is naughty or nice. But around 2005, it was discovered that he was being assisted by toy-making elves who make their own moral judgments about children and report back to the boss. We may never know why The Elf on the Shelf was deemed a necessity by Santa, but we are now aware that they help him divide up his most important lists. Here's how the process works: Santa sends scout elves to Elf Adoption Centers. Families adopt them. Elves hibernate until parents read the book "The Elf on the Shelf," name the elf and register its adoption online.

Customized guitars strum up business: Peavey plugs into latest trend

So you're a wannabe rock star who wants a guitar that's in harmony with your unique personal style? Don't fret. In a day and age of personalized popularity - when you can buy anything from bobbleheads created in your own image to artwork made from your own DNA - you can also go to Peaveycustomshop.com and order a customized guitar featuring anything from family photographs to pictures of your faithful golden lab. "The whole front of the guitar was a picture of his dog," said Gypsy Carns, the man who runs the Meridian-based Peavey Electronics Custom Shop, describing a guitar he created for a customer.

Freaking out: Halloween returns with new costumes

Wearing ballet slippers covered in pink glitter and coat hangers bent into fairy wings, Jill Newell fluttered and floated through the neighborhood collecting candy as Tinkerbell. "The wings were covered with pink, shimmery, see-through material and outlined with pink sequins," said Newell, who won a costume contest that year. "I wore a pink leotard and pink stockings."

Old is new again: 'The Great Gatsby' inspiring fashion

On Saturday nights, all the cool girls slip on their drop-waisted dresses to head out to the speakeasy, where they listen to jazz music and dance the Charleston, swishing and swaying strands of pearls and fringe late into the night. It's 1922, and America is roaring. Fast forward 91 years, and it's fun to be a flapper again.


Ghost hunters: Interest in the paranormal raises profile of Mississippi groups

Travis Romberger spent the summer of 1993 on his uncle's Kentucky farm, and every morning, he and his cousin, Tim, lifted weights inside a rickety old house where gym equipment was stored. One night, Romberger went alone to the house, walking over the dirt floor and creaky steps to the weight room.


Ghosts in the House:

Mississippi is filled with legends, and some involve the supernatural. Ghosts are rumored to inhabit several of the state's historic homes, some toured annually by Halloween thrill-seekers. While no one can prove the existence of ghosts, these tales are often designed to convey lessons about morality, despair, danger and undying love. Here are a few: 

We love Lucy: Mom celebrates 30th birthday with fundraiser
for orphans in Ethiopia

Before they even began dating, Tupelo residents Anna and Russ Polsgrove talked about their desire to adopt. In 2008, several years after they wed, conversation turned to action. After reading blogs from families who had adopted children from Ethiopia, Anna Polsgrove felt a sense of urgency.

Endangered list: Evolving technology redefining landscape

You can pretty much do anything with a cell phone these days - make a call, send an e-mail, take a picture, listen to music and view a website. Who knows, in a few years, you may even be able to use one to spray mace, analyze DNA or freeze someone in time. And because the cell phone has become the Swiss Army knife of gadgets, it's played a huge role in the potential extinction of some products.

Stop Hazing Now: Desire to fit in can prove life-threatening

In the spring of 1966, Buddy Wagner was a freshman at Mississippi College who wanted to join a popular athletic organization. So he humbled himself to the upperclassmen. "We had to do all kinds of silly things," Wagner said. Some included walking past a line of students who slapped them with belts, running a quarter of a mile around a track while chewing a laxative, and being covered in molasses, flour and paint.

Fashion forward for fall: Earthy, muted tones make an entrance

In the summer of 1886, Vincent van Gogh created "Coleus Plant in a Flowerpot in Paris," an oil painting of a simple potted plant with amber-colored leaves. The painting and a visit to Amsterdam, where the Van Gogh Museum is located, helped inspire the fall and winter fashion collections of New York designer Hilton Hollis, 33.

Hat trick outfits Indy: Mississippi hatter creates fedora for Indiana Jones film

Sometimes he dreamed of adventure. Columbus native Steve Delk grew up raising cotton, soybeans and livestock on the family farm, but after graduating from New Hope High School in 1970, he decided to study anthropology and archaeology at Mississippi State University. Intrigued by Mesoamerican cultures, Delk imagined he'd some day search for artifacts and study ancient civilizations, such as the Inca, Aztec and Mayan Indians. But after discovering he'd have to earn a doctorate to make a decent living in the field, he changed his major to business.

The dawning of a new age: Women embrace the big '50'

It's popular these days to taken an age, subtract a decade or so and say something like, "50 is the new 40." But what exactly does that mean? It means one minute Madonna is "Like a Virgin" and the next she celebrates her 50th birthday looking, arguably, better than she did in her 20s and 30s. It means Kim Cattrall, who is 52, is one of four iconic sex symbols in Sex & the City. And it means men no longer have the monopoly on growing older gracefully. Being 50 today is different than it once was, and we asked four Mississippi women to define the age. Just what does it mean to be 50 and fabulous?

It's fox hunting season: Chula Homa Fox Hunt returns

Like a living portrait of regal English aristocracy, riders in scarlet coats and black hats atop horses with braided mane elegantly jump an obstacle and disappear into the wooded fall acreage of Gulf Haven Farms with their hounds. Moments prior to their departure, they are blessed by the Rev. Bill Martin. “As horse and hounds are friends of man, may they be treated with kindness and love,” he said. “As they have learned to obey the call of the huntsman, so may we learn to obey the call of our Divine Master." Then the 23rd annual Chula Homa Fox Hunt began.

Giraffe prints reach new heights: Safari look roams urban landscape

It sounds wild, but giraffes have literally been spotted all over Jackson. On Wednesday, one leisurely lunged under a shade tree on Pearl Street, shielding itself from the sun, while another swiftly strolled down Capitol and a third grazed a meal from a Congress Street deli. Take your own urban safari across the state, and you're bound to eye the Mississippi trend of the moment. Giraffe prints are on the loose, and fashion merchandising experts say there may be a little more to the animal print craze than meets the eye.

One of a kind: From necklaces to rings, expressing individuality is a beautiful thing

Betsy Liles, a self-described "typical middle child," spent the summers of her youth in the Yazoo City pool with her seven siblings. But when she dove into the water, she was as atypical as they come - a beautiful mermaid searching for a treasure chest of jewels hidden somewhere at the bottom of the ocean.

Average Joes: Voters share basic concerns

They've painted themselves as regular citizens to appeal to the common voter. Barack Obama isn't an Ivy League elitist; he's just a guy from Chicago's South Side. John McCain's not a Fortunate Son; he's just your everyday maverick bent on holding Washington insiders accountable for the little people. Forget that pricey wardrobe. Sarah Palin's just a lady from Wasilla Main Street who shops at consignment stores. 

A party for Cash, a pardon for fans: Starkville turns jail stay into a 'Flower Pickin' Festival' 42 years later

Because her daddy owned the local radio station, Sarah Matthews was privileged to have a backstage pass to all Starkville concerts. So on May 10, 1965, the 26-year-old felt confident walking back inside Mississippi State University's Animal Husbandry building, the only structure large enough to house the crowd that came to see Johnny Cash perform.


Miss Mississippi contestant fought for her life against Stevens Johnson Syndrome

When Kennitra Thompson was 6, she told her mother she wanted to become Miss America. The determined little girl convinced Patricia Thompson to purchase a few blank VHS tapes to record the annual pageant, and she repeatedly watched the videos, studying the winners and learning to emulate Miss America like Heather Whitestone (1995), Angela Perez Baraquio (2000) and Erika Dunlap (2004).

Kermit speaks, we listen: Muppets and Mississippi, the magical connection

It's difficult to imagine a world without Muppets. Sesame Street premiered in 1969. That means just about everyone 45 or younger has had the opportunity to make a magical Muppet connection. That's the idea behind Jim Henson's Fantastic World, a new exhibition from the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service and The Jim Henson Legacy. It offers a rare peek into Henson's creative genius.

Express your inner nerd with Kilobyte Couture: MSU grad's chic jewelry line leads to book deal

In the 1980s, it was lame, even downright bogus, to be a nerd. Nerds and geeks were a persecuted segment of society who sought revenge in a popular movie of the day, but thankfully times have changed. Now, a quarter of a century later, the intelligently elite, traditionally known for having more brain than brawn, have emraced their nerdiness, and it's chic to be geek.

Sauce Boss: Madison man markets bottled-up dream

Say you've found a new cookin' sauce with a rootin' tootin' kick that may just have the absolute most bodacious flavor you've ever tasted in your whole, entire, little ole bitty, Mississippi-livin life? Madison resident David Wilson will tell you that's just plain HogWash.You could ask his one-armed uncle Fig Newton (yes, that was his name) about it ... if he weren't dearly departed.

Freezing a moment: Canton attorney creates unique artform

Bodies hang on the walls in the back room of attorney Bentley Conner's Center Street law office. Twisting trunks, arching waists, snakelike spines and curling chests bend with the classical contour of the female physique revealing the outer shell of life. Tiny feet, praying hands and sometimes round bellies bulging with life are replicated in an immortalization process called life-casting.

PBS 'Between the Lions' spotlights literacy in Mississippi

In a room full of camera operators and production assistants, the lion emerges from his den wearing a chef's hat. He pauses between takes as the crew prepares for the next kitchen scene inside Mississippi Public Broadcasting studios, and in a deep voice, the cat shares his impressions of Mississippi. "The people are so friendly," said Theo, one of the star puppets of Between the Lions, an award-winning PBS show filmed in Mississippi since 2004.

'True Blood' vampires right at home in Mississippi: HBO show features scenes of Natchez' Longwood

Russell Edgington, a red-haired antiques dealer with a thick Southern accent, is a notable figure in Mississippi politics. It's uncertain whether he's crossed political paths with Gov. Haley Barbour during his reign as the vampire king of Mississippi, but it would make sense. If you've lived 2,800 years on Earth, chances are you'd probably have connections with most movers and shakers, particularly those in your home state.

'It's a mad, mad world': 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.

Looking for love: Marks native to appear on 'Millionaire Matchmaker'

When Mississippi native Angela McArthur Lutin became a divorced mother of a 13-year-old son at 34, she thought it would be a snap getting back into the dating game. "I thought I was a hot mama who was going to do good on the dating scene, and I didn't know anything," she said. That led the Boca Raton resident to begin chronicling her experience as a divorcee, mom and dater on a blog called Essentially Angela, and by exposing all of the places her heart has taken her on the journey to find love, Lutin is making a name for herself in the world of reality television.

The M Files: Mississippians recount unidentified, unexplained objects

The X-Files: I Want to Believe, a film based on the popular television series about two FBI agents who investigate paranormal cases, lands in movie theatres today. And while agents Scully and Mulder explore the X-Files, we decided to take a look at the M-Files - some of Mississippi's unexplained sightings.

Long live the mini: Look made popular in the 1960s returns

When Jimmie Hartfield left Lousiville in 1996 and moved to Jackson to attend Tougaloo College, she became a student amidst a fashion revolution, and when it came to style, she followed the crowd. At home, she didn't dare wear the A-line minidresses that helped define the era. Her conservative parents did not approve of short hemlines.

A model collector: From miniature cars, to the real deal, he's got it all

With rising gas prices, American consumers and automakers have begun to shift their focus from the large, gas-guzzling SUV to the smaller car, and small cars are something Brandon resident Robert Jackman knows a thing or two about. He owns 4,000 and estimates his collection of die-cast and handmade models is worth more than $400,000.

Locals share Oscar predictions: Who will take home the awards?

The 85th annual Academy Awards will be held Sunday. Will you be hosting an Oscar party to watch the winners? We asked a mix of theater and film professors, as well as working writers, actors and producers about their Oscar predictions.

Peace offering: 50-year-old symbol finds new audience

Amanda Winkler, 16, drives a hot pink Volkswagen Beetle with a peace sign hanging from her rearview mirror. She's not an authentic flower child with tie-dyed cothing, Birkenstocks and patchouli oil, but this Byram neo-hippie frequently rocks the peace sign at Terry High School in a far out, modern way. There's a ton of people wearing them," she said. "I think it started slowly this summer, but now that everyone's in school and seeing what everyone else is wearing, everyone has peace signs, even the guys." 

Getting personal: Products toting individuality appeal to the masses

Ole Miss graduate Rima Chaddha and her fiance, Steve Mycynek, are fans of the NBC television show "The Office" and the show's quirky characters, Dwight and Angela. "One year for Valentine's Day, Angela gets Dwight the perfect gift - a mini-bobblehead of himself," said Chaddha, who did the same as a first dating anniversary gift for Steve.

Pelicans Rescued From Gulf: Jackson Zoo holding rescued pelicans

Huddled in a corner of the shed, the birds moved in fearful unison while watching the man outside the cell. Cautiously shifting from right to left in opposition to Dave Wetzel's motions, the 20 American white pelicans have not adapted to their temporary home - a large wire holding cage with two kiddie pools that has become their sanctuary since the Gulf Coast oil spill damaged their habitat and forced their removal.

Paradise for pets: Volunteers create a fetching pet cemetery

Raymond resident Gary Wagley has never had to look for a new pet; they always find him, perhaps sensing that he will keep them safe. Gypsy Doll discovered him in the garage. She was playing with a shoe beside his Corvette. Wagley rescued Lucky from the parking lot of a hardware store; and Taylor, a yellow lab, decided to live with him instead of the neighbor to whom he originally belonged.

Dream dresses: Prom season punctuated with color

It's that time of year again, when young girls are on a quest for the perfect prom dress, and we've spoken to several experts who can give teens and moms the heads-up on what will be trendy for Prom 2013. Susan Nash, owner of Susan's Shoppe Formals in Brookhaven, Madison, Hattiesburg and Mobile, said expect high-low dresses, jersey styles with cut-outs and volcano stone embellishments.

Purple drank: Perscription cough syrup key in drug abuse trend

Mississippi authorities say a drug commonly known as "purple drank," "lean," or "sippin' syrup" is becoming more visible in the state. The main ingredient of the drink is prescription-strength cough syrup that contains promethazine and codeine. Abusers mix it with another liquid such as a soda and hard candy.

Joy and jewelry: Push presents commemorate new mothers

Jackson native Ben Derrick met his wife, Cammie, on a cruise to the Caymen Islands their senior year of high school. The Jackson Academy students and Baton Rouge native exchanged contact information, kept in touch, and eventually decided to attend Mississippi College. They married their senior year of Mississippi College in November 2001, carrying with them all the hopes and dreams a young couple typically has, with one exception - the Derricks weren't sure they'd ever have children of their own.

Put a ring on it: Mississippi couples share engaging stories for Valentine's Day

If done creatively, it can result in a romantic story for the generations. Seeking unique proposal stories this Valentine's Day, we asked Mississippians how they "put a ring on it," and here were some of their responses.

Creative cars:

When a person reaches a certain status in society, the Joneses (who we all must keep up with) and marketing executives often convince them that they must have an automobile that accurately represents their bank account and sexual prowess. Some choose to subtly boast with classic paint jobs and hood ornaments that demand respect. Others opt for something loud and vibrant that can’t be ignored. That’s how the big boyz roll in their pimped-out rides, and even some of the "girlz" these days.

In the monkey business

Anoble West Point graduate and a Curious George book led Union County native Tim Lepard into the dog-riding monkey business. And the world will get the opportunity to witness his primate/canine rodeo entertainment act May 10 at 10:35 p.m. on NBC when Lepard performs on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno."

Here's the good news: Fox anchor Shepard Smith talks about his homestate Mississippi

Fox News anchor Shepard Smith knows he probably shouldn't be gushing about Oxford. He's aware of what could happen if he divulges all of its secrets to the general public. Nevertheless, Smith brought a camera crew there this week to give the world a glimpse of what it has to offer.

Silly Bandz, serious fans: Kids collect bracelets with open arms

If someone had told you two years ago rubber bands shaped like animals would be the biggest fad since Beanie Babies, you might have said, "That's just silly." And you'd have been right. Kids are nuts about Silly Bandz.



Owl have one: Who dat? Popular motif reemerging

Whooooooo's back in stye? The owl. From the land of discarded motifs, the owl has reemerged, and many Mississippians are joining the craze. Olive Branch resident Kyra McEnany, 32, sells original owl clutches made of multiple colors of silk under the Etsy name kichikimani.etsy.com.

The evolution of the sock monkey: New generation of kids discovering the toy

Their populations have evolved over the course of genrations through a process of natural selection and creativity. There are about 260 known living species of monkey, and one is called sock.

Sela Ward hosts benefit for her Mississippi charity Hope Village

Many Americans first met Sela Ward through her breakout, Emmy-award winning performance as Teddy Reed on the television series "Sisters," that ran from 1991 to 1996. Then, there was that “little” role as Harrison Ford's wife in “The Fugitive.”

Sex & the City: Fans get into character

They were fabulously single in the city - four intelligent, profesional women living life and looking for love in New York. Viewers tuned into the HBO series weekly to follow eclectic Carrie, sexy Samantha, career-driven Miranda and sweet Charlotte's taste in men, martinis and Manolos.


Fountain of youth: Spa visits among teens rising

Jackson Academy student Lindsay Guild, 16, has no shame in treating herself to a manicure, pedicure and facial every now and then. With hectic schedules that include schoolwork, extracurricular activities, jobs, friends and the day-to-day challenges of 21st-century life, Guild says some teens view going to a spa a necessity rather than a luxury. "It's just kind of relaxing, and it gives you a break from stress and everything," Guild says.

Spring Fashion

While floral prints and bright colors have always been a staple, local experts say there are a few style surprises that have taken root this season. Look out for lace and anything feminine, but spring 2013 is also about geometric lines, sculptural shapes, tribal-inspired clothing and photorealistic prints. Beth Griffith, 62, has owned the Jackson store Fashion Post the past 33 years. "Trending for spring this year are peplums on tops and dresses, lace details, and color blocking," said the Reservoir resident. "Popular colors are tangerine, emerald and hot pink. Fabrics are chiffon and lace."

'Star Trek' doctor sang 'Hotty Toddy'?: As new movie opens, Mississippi Trekkies have something to tout

Live long and prosper. It's a "Star Trek" greeting and a physician's goal for patients. But that famous hand symbol may hold even deeper meaning for University of Mississippi Medical Center faculty who know that one of the series' main characters went to school at UMMC before boarding the USS Enterprise.

Stay Tooned: Drawing on a dream: Fan turns passion into publication

In cartoons, a light bulb sometimes appears above someone's head when he or she has a bright idea. That's what happened to Madison resident John Read, 51, last May while reading articles that originally appeared in a cartoonist magazine. While reading an autobiographical piece written by Marcus Hamilton, who was hired at age 50 by retiring Dennis the Menace creator Hank Ketcham, the bulb appeared.

Never Too Late: Instructor helps adults face fears, learn to swim

Talmieka Brice, 27, wept in March when her husband, Sgt. Charles Brice, was deployed to Afghanistan with the Army National Guard. She misses him terribly, but she isn't just sitting around waiting for his return. Both husband and wife made a vow they would reunite in better shape than before his departure.


Suit up for summer

Barbara Kellett, in celebrating her 40th birthday in December, realized she needed to start living life. "I wouldn't call it a mid-life crisis," said the Rankin County resident, "but I decided I wasn't going to wake up at 80 and realize there were things I wanted to do, but never did." So in January, she and three friends booked a cruise to Cozumel.

Everyone's cup of tea: Sales expected to exceed $10B in 2010

The practice of drinking tea started about 5,000 years ago in China, but today, it's a defining characteristic of the American South. There's nothing like a tall, sweet, iced glass of tea on a warm day.



Transformers rides robotic popularity to new heights

Devoted Transformers fans who grew up in the 1980s know the summer blockbuster that just hit the big screen will be more than meets the eye. That was the slogan of the 1984 cartoon series about futuristic robots from the world Cybertron who could transform themselves into cars, planes and animals while fighting the battle of good versus evil, or Autobots versus Decepticons.

Mississippi biting: Character on HBO's True Blood may make trip to Jackson

Aberdeen auctioneer John Dwight Stevens acquired a number of items last October from the estate of a deceased Natchez antique dealer. Among them: a wooden box containing a cross, Bibles, wooden stakes, a gun with silver bullets and garlic. The vampire killing kit believed to have originated in 1840s New Orleans sold for $14,500. "I don't particularly believe in vampires, but I guess some people did," said Stevens, who has sold antiques for a quarter of a century. "To me, it's just a myth."

A 'Twist' of fate: After 20 years, musical comes alive

When she was 10, Waynesboro native Teena Clark made a bet with her sisters. "I bet you $10 that I'm going to be famous in the music business one day." Eventually, they had to pay up. "When I had my first hit, I called them up and said, 'Is that $10 in the
mail?'" Clark, an award-winning songwriter/producer, has written music for Patti LaBelle, Aretha Franklin, Natalie Cole, Chaka Khan, Gladys Knight and Olivia Newton-John.

Vowing to be different: Personalized themes latest icing on the cake

Always a bridesmaid, never a bride with 27 dresses to prove it. Grey's Anatomy star Katherine Heigl plays that character in the latest film "27 Dresses" that opens in theaters Friday. But in real life, Heigl is a newlywed who recently married former University of Mississippi student Josh Kelley, a nationally recognized singer-songwriter, whose new album Special Company will be released in February. The couple tied the knot Dec. 23 during a Christmas-themed wedding in Utah.

Mississippi native's film 'Big Sur' premieres at Sundance Film Festival

Thirty years ago, director Ridley Scott's film "Blade Runner" presented a dystopian vision of the future in which genetically engineered robots that look like humans are hunted by police. It was the first film that made a significant impression on Mississippi native Orian Williams, 47, putting him "On the Road" to Hollywood, where he is currently in Park City, Utah, at the Sundance Film Festival promoting his latest project.

Lions, skunks and owls ... Oh my: Crocheted hats make babies picture perfect

Photographer Jennifer Sparrow doesn't have to leave the state of Mississippi to find wildlife and interesting creatures to digitally capture. So far, she's photographed lions, skunks, owls, frogs, caterpillars, giraffes, reindeer and even a mermaid. The stay-at-home mother of three, who operates Simply Newborn Photography, said photographing babies in crocheted character hats has become a popular photography trend in the past two years.

Ed Said: Mississippi Public Broadcasting introduces new puppet

He's a 9-year-old boy with purple hair, an orange hoodie and a tiny pair of Chuck Taylor Converse kicks who has a rep on the playground for being a hardcore fruit and veggie rapper. When he's not chillin' with his friends at lunch, he will old-school battle-rap any kid on the playground about potatoes or freestyle about fruits. Yeah, he's a B-Boy, if the "B" stands for bananas, beets or beans.

An email from heaven: Widow receives message from late husband

To the outside world, their relationships sounds like a fairytale. Brandon resident Missy Parker, a teacher at Northwest Rankin Middle School, and Clinton native Ross Parker, a Mississippi College grad who had worked for Southern Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance Co. more than 20 years, met four years ago while serving in Pinelake church's singles ministry. They dated two years and were married Oct. 16, 2010, becoming a blended family with four children.

Mississippi native grateful for 'Gunther' role on 'Friends': Winona native James Michael Tyler talks coffee

It seems hard to believe, but Sept. 22, 2014, will mark the 20th anniversary of "Friends," a show that aired 10 years ago on NBC featuring characters we grew to love. There was Rachel, Ross, Monica, Chandler, Joe, Phoebe and let's not forget Gunther, the guy who owned the coffee shop where the friends hung out. What you may not realize is that James Michael Tyler, the guy who played Gunther, is a Mississippi native.

'Hillbilly Handfishin' lures Mississippi native to Oklahoma: Reality show casts city slickers into unfamiliar waters

Gulfport native and Jackson State University graduate Daniel James is a tie- and argyle sweater-wearing flight attendant, funeral home worker and member of the Mississippi Mass Choir, but he's not a fisherman. Not until recently. Pretty soon, you'll get a chance to see James explore the world of "Hillbilly Handfishin'" on cable TV's Animal Planet.

Cool gifts for Hip Dads

His triplets were born on March 3, 2003. Yep. That's right. Three on 3-3-03. That means Jackson resident Josh Huff, 34, is three times cooler than your average dad, and as an urban hipster, this is how he rolls. Sometimes he cruises the suburbs in a Toyota Sienna minivan. Other times, it's in his four-door Ford truck, with Abby, Caroline and Logan belted in booster seats. When it comes to Father's Day gifts, dads like Huff aren't really into tube socks and traditional ties. Today's young, hip dad is a gadget geek who embraces technology and isn't afraid to express his individuality.

Hotel Hell's Gordon Ramsay visits Starkville's Hotel Chester

Sometimes running a business is hell. It certainly will be Wednesday through Sunday when Starkville's Hotel Chester welcomes Fox reality star and chef Gordon Ramsay, who will be filming an episode of "Hotel Hell" at the establishment. Can owner David Mollendor handle the wrath of Ramsay, who typically tries to offer salvation to some of America's most horrendous hotels, troubled inns and struggling resorts?

From b-ball to blues, Jarekus Singleton can't lose

When Jarekus Singleton was 12, he played for a basketball team called the Jackson Panthers, and spent most of his time on the bench, despite the fact that he knew he could play ball. When he left the Panthers for the Jackson Tigers, his perpective began to change. “My coaches saw something in me that I guess the Jackson Panthers didn't,” said Singleton, 28. “My first year playing, I won the Newcomer of the Year Award. We went to nationals, and I was one of the top 10 scorers. Nothing had changed. I was the same guy. I was the same player."

Keep your eye on rising star Katherine Bailess: a Mississippi girl who has 'Hit the Floor' on VH1

You may remember Katherine Bailess, 33, from the first “American Idol” movie “From Justin to Kelly” in 2003 when she played the singing, dancing vixen Alexa. Or maybe you've seen her in that recent viral video “$@!# Southern Women Say” that's circulated the Web. But come Memorial Day, the Mississippi native will “Hit the Floor” as one of the stars of VH1's new one-hour scripted series about the drama and comedy of a fictional professional dance team called the Los Angeles Devil Girls. The first of 10 episodes aired Monday.

Ole Miss grad's handbags sought-after totes: Katie Kalsi's products now sold in more than 69 Belk stores

University of Mississippi art graduate Katie Kalsi, 34, is making a name for herself as a handbag designer. The Memphis native launched a line of 23 hobo-style handbags in 2003 with hand-painted, interchangable straps. Since then, Kalsi said the bags have gotten attention from Taylor Swift and Priscilla Presley, and Belk began carrying them. We caught up with Kalsi to ask her about her life and design work.

'Marriage is a Love Worth Fighting For' coming to Brandon: Former teen star Kirk Cameron to speak at church

If your marriage is experiencing "Growing Pains," a former teen hearthrob turned Christian actor and evangelist has a message: Marriage is a "Love Worth Fighting For." Kirk Cameron, who first gained fame as a 1980s sitcom star, will appear Aug. 18 at Crossgates Baptist Church in Brandon. "The Love Worth Fighting For marriage event is a very special event that came out of the movie 'Fireproof,'' Cameron said by phone.

Jackson native Kit Williamson talks about his 'Mad Men' role

Followers of the AMC show “Mad Men,” a 1960s period drama about competitive New York advertising executives on Madison Avenue in New York City, know that, this season, lead character Don Draper's agency Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce merged with another agency called Cutler Gleason and Chaough. After the merger, the new employees moved into the Draper and company office building, and one of those new faces was Kit Williamson, a Jackson native, who spent his first season as a “Mad Men” cast member.

Creativity at your fingertips: Check out nail art from the Nail Nerd

What do you get when you ditch the traditional French manicure for something more fun, funky and fascinating? If you said nail art, you hit the nail on the head. A new fashion craze has hit the Internet thanks to Pinterest.com. Log on, and you'll see fingers and toes polished in a variety of artful ways. Meghan Jean, a New Orleans-based graphic designer with clients in Mississippi and Louisiana, is known as the Nail Nerd. She began doing nail art a year ago. "I found that having these little pockets of time throughout the day where I was able to be creative on my terms and for only my pleasure were immensely gratifying," she said.

The color of Cuba: Oxford art collector holds Cuban art exhibit as talks of diplomacy begin between the U.S. and Cuba

In 1996, Milly West of Oxford embarked on a quest to Cuba in search of fine art. She found it everywhere she went, from Havana to Santiago de Cuba, and it reminded her, in many ways, of the self-taught artists of the American South.

Digital Faulkner: Digital Yoknapatawpha free resource for scholars, public

More than 50 years after William Faulkner’s last book, educators are creating an online database of William Faulkner’s books and short stories, featuring maps, characters and other information that can be accessed online by scholars and the public. They’re calling it Digital Yoknapatawpha, a play on Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County, a fictional county based on and inspired by Lafayette County. The digital endeavor was one of the topics discussed during the 2015 Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha Conference, “Faulkner and Print Culture,” on the University of Mississippi campus on Tuesday. The conference ends Thursday.

Drone with the wind: Morgan becomes drone commander at Ole Miss

If you're a tech geek or someone who is always first in line to acquire the latest innovative product that hits the market, chances are you’ve considered buying a drone. R.J. Morgan, a journalism instructor and director of the Mississippi Scholastic Press Association, is the University of Mississippi’s “drone commander.” Thanks to a $3,000 donation by The Meek School of Journalism and New Media’s namesake, Ed Meek, the university purchased a drone for journalism experimentation, and Morgan is its pilot. He calls it “Farley,” named after the building that houses the journalism school.

Precious Memories: Graceland Too reopens for visitors; Paul MacLeod's fans pay visit to Elvis' No. 1 fan

It has been said that, in the South, we don’t hide our eccentrics; we show them off. Holly Springs reopened Graceland Too on Tuesday, welcoming visitors to tour the home of the “universe’s, galaxy’s, planet’s, world’s” most devoted Elvis fan. A homemade sign with that self-declaration inspired T-shirts sold during the day-long event “Graceland Too Forever: A Celebration of Paul MacLeod” honoring the super fan, who died July 17 at age 70 of apparent natural causes. He died two days after police said he shot and killed another local man who was trying to force his way into Graceland Too.

The Kidney Chain: Donor gives organ, new chance at life

Getting to know your neighbors can pay off in many ways, sometimes in the form of an organ. When Vikki and Price Johnson, 54, began banking at Community Trust Bank, a small Oxford business managed by one of their friends, they became acquainted with one of the employees, Laura Lee, 36. Each time she was around them, Lee thought about how nice the two were and how easy they were to talk to. And when she learned that the Johnsons were looking for someone to run their farm, Lee nominated her husband, Barry, for the job.

Shrooming: An adventure with the Oxford Mushroom Club; Finding fungi in the forest

The red-topped amanita muscaria mushroom is often featured in storybooks, and many Nintendo players may remember it as an element in Super Mario Brothers that, when collected, helped restore a player’s “health.” Oxford resident Pat Miller had more than 100 magically appear one day in her yard. “We had 118 in one day in our yard,” she said. “That got us interested in learning more about them.” Miller was one of about 20 people who came to the Whirlpool Trails on Monday to learn more about mushrooms during the Oxford Mushroom Club’s first meeting.

Profile: Paul White: Everyone in Oxford knows him simply as 'Paul'

I f you’ve lived in Oxford for very long, chances are you’ve met Paul White. White, 56, is known throughout the Oxford community for his ability to make friends wherever he goes. He often does this by getting a cup of tea, meeting new people, and asking them to sign their name on his cup. White grew up in the Oxford community. He said some of his earliest memories are the cicadas of 1963. As a 4-year-old, he would go outside, pick them up and play with them. They made whirling noises.

Long distance pen pals spend time together in Mississippi

Marianna Och's uncle was in the Navy during World War II when he received a pair of socks from a New Zealand woman. He gave the woman’s contact information to his sister, Tilly, and the two corresponded for years. Twenty years later, in the 1960s, Tilly’s New Zealand pen pal told her she had a friend with a granddaughter who would like to write someone in the United States. Tilly suggested the girl write her niece, Marianna, and that is how Marianna Ochs of Oxford and Pauline Dick of New Zealand became pen pals.

Ron Shapiro: Serendipitious Oxford Bohemian

Ron “Ronzo” Shapiro, a nickname chosen by Shapiro himself because it rhymes with gonzo journalism and sounds a little silly, has just arrived at Bottle Tree Bakery in Oxford. Wearing Big Ben overalls with copper buttons, a yellow button-down shirt over a black T-shirt with a pair of eyeglasses tucked in the pocket, and a gray fisherman’s cap, he parks his bicycle beside the business and retrieves a cup of coffee before finding a seat outside in the warm sun. Ronzo Shapiro is a lucky SOB and, in Oxford, that stands for Serendipitous Oxford Bohemian.

Joel Osteen to visit Jackson: Pastor of America's largest church to bring 'Night of Hope'

Ten years ago, when Laine Lawson Craft was going through a dark period with a failing marriage, financial problems and sick children, she turned on the television and found inspiration. "I came across this little man on TV," she said. "He was preaching about a God that can do the impossible. Our problems were so huge, but Joel made us have seeds of belief that our God was bigger and greater than anything we faced. I am convinced that through Joel, God was able to enlarge our expectations of who God was and is, and we experienced marriage restoration, financial breakthrough, and children healed."

Mississippi native Emily Dees Boulden becomes a 'Pretty Wicked Mom'

One night, Mississippi native Emily Dees Boulden and her husband became engrossed in a conversation about the future. "He asked, 'If you could have anything you want, what would be your biggest dream?'" she said. Boulden, 32, replied that she wanted to turn her Atlanta clothing boutique, Swank, into a fashion powerhouse, and the next day, that dream fell into her lap in the form of a reality show. She received a call from a college friend working in Los Angeles who asked if she wanted to participate in a new show. Now, she's the “queen bee” of Lifetime's new unscripted series “Pretty Wicked Moms” that premieres tonight at 9 p.m.

Local company plans slate of new films: Several films planned to shoot on the Gulf Coast including horror

Check your Netflix selections, and you may run across a 2011 horor movie called "Rites of Spring" with a creepy, vintage-style poster image of a woman dangling from a rope in front of an old farmhouse and the tag line: "Fear has a season." Watch the first few seconds of it, and you'll learn that the movie has a Mississippi connection. Google it, and you'll see it was shot entirely in the Jackson metro area in 2010.

Switchfoot to the rescue: Mississippi concert to help restore foundation's music studio

His life as a civil rights leader and advocate of racial reconciliation inspired a 2009 rock song.Switchfoot - a nationally known, Dove award-winning rock band - released a track called "The Sound" (John M. Perkins Blues) last October on its latest album Hello Hurricane. It is about Perkins, the founder of Jackson's John M. Perkins Foundation, who also appears in the video.

Hey dad, wanna tie one on: From traditional to whimsical, Father's Day staple now a year-round fashion statement

Andy Cook became a dad three years ago. And with the new role of daddy to Isaac and Dylan, 1, came the traditional Father's Day gift - a tie. "I like ties that are kind of bright and metallic looking," said the owner of Ridgeland's The Parker House restaurant. "Gold, silver and blue are the colors I usually wear."

Jackson native produces 'The Way, Way Back'

In fourth grade, Jackson native Tom Rice told his classmates that he wanted to be a film director. "I was a very creative-minded person growing up in a school that was very sports-centered," he said. "If you didn't play sports you were kind of a fish out of water. I tried to fit into the sports scene without playing sports. I was the school mascot. It was a way to fit in and adapt. But I had a family who loved me, an interest in artist endeavors, and I was on my own to find out where I would find that creative satisfaction and find out who I was in the same way Duncan does."

Mississippians plan for storybook weddings


earl natives Skye Johnson and Michael Gray grew up together. "I was one year older than Michael in school," Johnson said. "He always flirted with me in school, but I never gave it much thought, and it seemed like, for the majority of our school career, we were both always in serious relationships, or as serious as you can get in high school." After they graduated, they saw each other every now and then, until one day when everything changed.

Power of mother-daughter bonds

Many mother-daughter pairs share strong physical similarities and personality traits. Some also share memories of beauty and sacrifice. These steel magnolias have survived challenges of birth, death and divorce. And some of life's surprises that initially seemed unbearably painful became miraculous gifts.


Names reflect tradition, creativity

When Madison resident Angel MacDonald chose a name for her baby girl, she wanted to honor her mother and mother-in-law. The name Miriam had been in the family for generations. It first belonged to her great-grandmother, skipped a generation, was given to her mom, skipped another generation (with Angel), then MacDonald decided to revive it, continuing the pattern.


Maud Falkner: The other old lady painter

When Grandma Moses was discovered in 1938, Maud Faukner, mother of Nobel Prize winner William Faulkner, had already been an artist for 30 years and wanted the world to know Grandma Moses "wasn't the only old lady painter in the world."

Fashion makes a political statement


t was an unconventional convention wardrobe. Her handmade dress of patriotic colors attracted the attention of national and international media at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, and as a result, her image was published worldwide. Hernando resident Kelly Jacobs, 49, a Mississippi delegate, supported presidential candidate Barack Obama in the frock that featured a peace sign on front and an Ole Miss Rebel on back. "Because I'm opposed to the war, and I have two sons they are always trying to get to join the military, I decided to make a peace dress," she said.

Roles resonate with actor Jay Younger

As a Clarksdale elementary student, Jay Unger's deep, reverberating voice never went unnoticed. "I used to try to change it to make it lighter because it carried so," the 60-year-old Jackson engineer and actor recalls. He often got in trouble trying to whisper, but when a W.A. Higgins High School drama coach heard the seventh-grader's voice, he enrolled him in a high school speech communication class. He also cast Unger in starring roles, which led to a best actor award in the state theater competition. That voice also connected him with a New York stranger who shared information about his family history. It was a coincidence surreal in nature.

Out of the attic: Whiz kid child star from Mississippi recalls working on the set of 'Flowers in the Attic'

He played Corey, who's locked in the attic of his grandmother's mansion in the gothic film based on the V.C. Andrews novel. But unlike his character, Ganger has not been confined to any specific category in the worlds of entertainment and academia. Raised in Beverly Hills, California, with dad, David, originally of the Hickory Flat area, and mom, Jill, Ganger landed the role of one of four children taken by his mother to live in his grandparents' mansion.

PBS 'Between the Lions' filmed in Mississippi spotlights literacy

In a room full of camera operators and production assistants, the lion emerges from his den wearing a chef's hat. He pauses between takes as the crew prepares for the next kitchen scene inside Mississippi Public Broadcasting studios, and in a deep voice, the cat shares his impressions of Mississippi. "The people are so friendly," said Theo, one of the star puppets of Between the Lions, an award-winning PBS show filmed in Mississippi since 2004. "They hardly look twice when they see a lion buying liver at the grocery store. The food here is terrific. My only complaint is they don't serve enough zebra, wildebeast and antelope."

Israel Broussard: A Mississippi teen in 'The Bling Ring'


n 2000, writer Nancy Jo Sales penned an article for Vanity Fair called The Suspects Wore Louboutins examining the lives of a group of celebrity-worshipping Los Angeles teenagers arrested for breaking, entering and stealing more than $3 million in designer clothing and jewelry in 2008 and 2009 from some of the richest and most famous people in Hollywood, such as Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and Orlando Bloom. E! also aired a reality show called “Pretty Wild” about Alexis Neiers, a member of the group that eventually became known as “The Bling Ring.”

It's All About Soul: Jackson man with Universal Soul Circus dances his way out of poverty and violence

Johnny Burgess Jr. grew up in a poverty-stricken neighborhood in west Jackson impacted by violence at an early age. In 1997, when he was 9, someone broke into his father's apartment and stabbed him to death during a brawl. “I guess they were trying to rob him, and they didn't know he was there,” said Burgess, now 25. “That, alone, changed my mentality. I didn't know how or what way I would get out of the neighborhood, but I just knew that, one day, I would be somebody.”

Jackson native lands film role in major motion picture: Carrie MacLemore is a 'Damsel in Distress'

When Carrie MacLemore was 2, she asked her father for a stage. "She would watch people on television and ask me to let her 'do it, too," said her mother, Dolly MacLemore. "When adult friends came over, she wanted to sing for them. And one time, when she thought their attention was wandering, she said, "Wait! There's more!'" Today, MacLemore, 25, is still getting attention for her performances. After a number of minor television roles, she landed a significant part in her first film, "Damsels in Distress."

Cowboy up: Western gear finds a home on the urban frontier

In many ways, Ridgeland resident Leigh Ann Harvey is your typical suburbanite. The accounting manager for the Ridgeland-based McAlister's Corp. loves power suits, pencil skirts and Blondie frappes from Cups. But when she isn't city dwelling, Harvey, 38, heads to the country about 10 miles east of Canton to ride horses. She broke her first, a wild mustang, at 14 and now owns two that she trained to herd. "I taught myself," Harvey said. "I read books, watched people, went to rodeos and studied what they were doing. I guess there is a big contrast between my country life and city life."

High-tech tots: Toys, activities for tykes quicky take on grown-up porportions


randon resident Jasmine Wilson never leaves home without her laptop and cell phone. She routinely puts both in her backpack and uses them at her convenience. But her cell phone of choice isn't an iPhone. It's a Little Tykes Call of the Wild model with a tiger face. And her laptop isn't a MacBook. It's a V-Tech toy computer she swiped from her 5-year-old brother, Jeremiah. Maybe 20-month-old Jasmine gets it from her daddy, Kwandis Wilson. She's watched the Jackson State University computer science graduate build computers from scratch, and like her father, she has an interest in all things technological.

Murder-mutilation case in Laurel spawns book

ALaurel farmer stumbled upon a discarded package and discovered the mutilated remains of a woman inside. That was Jan. 21, 1935, and the remains later were identified as Daisy Keeton. Authorities followed a trail of evidence that led to the interrogation, arrest and prosecution of her daughter, Ouida Keeton. The comely killer is known today by some as "Mississippi's Lizzie Borden." And the controversial story involves murder, mutilation and prominent citizens.

Pageant highlights backgrounds

Anew Miss Mississippi will be crowned tonight. The contestants are all proud Mississippi girls, selected to represent their respective cities and communities, and each has a unique cultural heritage that helps define America and the state as a melting pot of diversity. Miss West Central Tiffany Boyte's great-grandfather was Cherokee, and her grandmother is a native of Japan. "It makes the holidays so fun because we have sushi at Christmas," Boyte said. "My family is really diverse, and it's made me appreciate all different cultures. I still have family in Japan, and for them to hear that I'm in a pageant like this, it really makes them feel proud."

MTV welcomes Mississippi woman to the 'Real World'

This is the true story of a Mississippi girl ... picked to live in a house with seven strangers ... who work together and have their lives taped ... to find out what happens when people stop being polite ... and start getting real. The Real World on MTV kicks off its 24th season today in post-Katrina New Orleans. Aberdeen native Jemmye Carroll, 21, is the third Mississippian in the show's history selected for the cast. The 2006 Aberdeen High School valedictorian is a senior political science and communications major at Mississippi State University, where she served as president of the MSU Pre-Law Society.