Friday, April 11, 2008

Home Town Boy Makes it Big!

Of course, that is the understatement of the decade but it made you wonder, didn't it?

Greg Ganakas is indeed a hometown boy but for the last 25 or so years he's made a huge name for himself. He's directed at the Goodspeed, won the 2007 Helen Hayes award for Caroline or Change, directed Julie Andrews, is affiliated with Radio City and NYU and so much more. Google him and check out his website for detailed information.

We are privileged to get to see his work, right here in East Lansing, without traveling to New York. Greg is directing the MSU production of Babes in Arms so make reservation NOW and Don't miss it!

Eons ago, I had a blast directing Greg as Snoopy in You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown. Of course, he stole the show. And then there was that road trip to New York City. Hmmmm.

Picking a Winner!

So you want some surefire tips on picking a winner?

Truth be told there is absolutely no "surefire" way to pick a winner. You can scan the pro's picks, read the racing form, check the online sites, talk to people at the track or use a combination of quirky methods.

People bet on horses based on the jockey, the owners, the trainers, they like the color of the silks, or the horses name, some even bet on the horse that has taken a (how to be delicate?) "dump" right before the race.
Others look at the top speed the horse has raced, the number of races won this season, the amount of money the horse has won, whether the horse is Kentucky bred or foreign.

Personally, I look at horse names first. I know, so NOT technical! I've devoured a dozen or more horse books so I'm a little familiar with owners, stables, and jockeys so that's my next criteria. I'm partial to Kentucky horses as opposed to those from Dubai. This time around, I got a number of tips so I began betting based on horse speed, money, and wins.

Random observations:
-wait until about three minutes before the race to bet so you can read the odds and see where the money is.
-don't waste your money on box seats. Most tracks are cheap to get into...$3! General admission gets you on the ground close to the horses. It allows you to wander around, get to the wagering windows quickly to cash in all that money you've won. Personally, I move as close to the rail as possible. I want to hear and feel the pounding of horses as they fly by me.
-all kinds of dress is appropriate jeans, suits, dresses. sneakers, heels. But the little sorority girls in their 4" heels, skimpy sundresses, hats, and sweaters along with the frat boys in pink shirts, madras and seersucker suits seemed a little over the top on this the second day of racing. Save it for the Woodlawn or Coolmore.
-the best bargain of the $3 pretzels, sodas, and popcorn is the soft ice cream sundae. It was enormous and featured a mound of soft ice cream, 3 cherries, hot fudge and nuts. You really do get more than you paid for here.
-wagering is very cheap...usually $2 and in some places just dollar. I gambled this time around and bet trifectas. .10 Superfecta boxed, exactas, and something that looks like this: 2-6, 2-6, under ALL, ALL ALL. I haven't a clue what ALL this means but I did win $15 on this one.

THE BEST TIP OF ALL? Detroit just broke ground this spring on a multimillion dollar race track called Pinnacle scheduled to open for a late July-August opening. I WANT TO WORK THERE!!! No, seriously. So meet me at the track.

A Day at the Races

Race day at Keeneland was spectacular! I lost some, won some but all in all broke even. But along the way I took some real chances, relearned betting lingo, and picked up a few tips from some very nice and patient fans.

Keeneland is one of the most beautiful race tracks in the country thanks to the efforts of Alma Headley Haggin in the late 1930's. She was determined to make Keeneland the most beautiful racetrack. She was most interested about the lives of the race horses once they arrived at Keeneland. She wanted them to have shade so she planted tall Chinese Elms and fast growing maples. She made sure the trees grew upright so horses would not be hurt by low lying limbs. She also wanted the horses to be surrounded by beauty so at the corner of all the stables she panted flowering crab apples, dogwoods, cherry, locust, and magnolias. She also gave instructions to the gardening crew to make sure all horse paths were cleared of fallen fruits or nuts so the horses would not be hurt.

Seventy years later the fruit of her labors is quite evident and spectacular!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

I LOVE a good Musical

It's Girl Scout Cookie Time!

You know it's SPRING when Girl Scout Cookies are in! I started looking for them in February, even checked the web site thinking they'd be perfect for Valentine's Day.
I was ecstatic, when in Ann Arbor several weeks ago, I discovered a store selling the cookies. My plan this time was to stuff the Easter baskets with them.

Of course, one box didn't quite make it home! Yes, I confess, I ate a whole box of thin mints. And it was glorious.

However, I made a monumental discovery- NOT ALL THIN MINTS ARE CREATED EQUAL! These thin mints weren't what I remembered. OK, it was a year ago since my last thin mint and yes, age, mine, may have a tiny bit to do with it BUT these were imposters!

My first clue should have been the wrap. These cookies were enrobed in that wafer thin silver foil that rips at the slightest pressure not the plastic sleeve that allows you to see all the cookies, savor, count and ration them

The next clue was the size! These babies weren't as thin as I remembered. They were slightly cakier, a little too "fat". My thin mints had been overindulging this year.

And then there was the shape. The edge had a slightly larger scallop as opposed to a tiny ruffle.

Were they good? YES Were they great? No

I had heard that several bakeries made GS cookies. Hmmm...maybe a different bakery. Some one at Curves said they were made in Chicago and Cleveland. Ok, I'm closer to Chicago. Ann Arbor, and hour south of us, may be geographically challenged and believe they were closer to Cleveland.

In the process I found the cookies locally. Voila! The cookie of my childhood. They hadn't changed the recipe. It WAS the bakery.
So, I went back to the source....the box...and the good stuff is from Little Brownie Bakers, how punny, in Louisville, Kentucky. Louisville? What?? My favorite state, horse racing (see earlier blog) and the home to the MINT julep. Makes sense to me.

The best news? You don't have to know a GS to find the cookies. They're sold outside every big box store in your town. Go forth, and indulge. Celebrate spring!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Spring Break!!

John and I are going to Asheville, North Carolina for Spring Break. It isn't Costa Rica but it will do.
We head out for Lexington, Kentucky for a day and some horse racing and then meet up with our friend Nora and her son David in Asheville. David is a senior at Warren Wilson College and will be graduating this spring. Nora has been saying for years now that I have to see Asheville. I would love it. So that's the plan. We'll hang out together and see all the great sights, shop in the very artsy town, visit some bead stores (of course) eat at cute little trendy restaurants, do a tour of the college and soak up the wonderful southern hospitality.
I'll post my pictures when I return and update you on our travels