Archives

smorris

M. Scott Morris is an award-winning feature writer and columnist, and has worked at the Mighty Daily Journal since 1996. If you've got a story idea about an interesting person, place or thing, he'd love to hear about it.

Connect with Author

scott.morris@journalinc.com

Stories Written by M. Scott Morris

Thomas Wells | Buy at photos.djournal.com Kelli Karlson and "Roadkill" Bill Hughes have shared a Wizard 106 studio with carpet-covered walls for about six years.

Thomas Wells | Buy at photos.djournal.com
Kelli Karlson and “Roadkill” Bill Hughes have shared a Wizard 106 studio with carpet-covered walls for about six years.

Editor’s note: The writer joins Kelli Karlson and “Roadkill” Bill every Tuesday morning at Wizard 106 for a movie review.

–––––

By M. Scott Morris

Daily Journal

TUPELO – The topic on a recent edition of Wizard 106’s Hometown Mornin’ Show was selfies, the self-portraits that modern phones make so easy to take.

“You’re part of the problem,” said “Roadkill” Bill Hughes.

“I’m not part of the problem,” Kelli Karlson countered.

Their show runs from 5 to 10 a.m. Monday to Friday, and between the latest country music releases and weather reports, the pair snipe at each other in a little square room with carpet-covered walls.

She sits on the left with her microphone, and he’s right across from her with his own microphone, as well as all the dials and knobs one would expect at a radio station.

“Bill handles all the buttons,” Karlson said.

“She talks and takes selfies,” he said.

“I’m really good at it,” she said. “I put them online and we have listeners that actually Photoshop my selfies. It’s really good.”

“Scary is what it is,” Hughes said.

“Some of them make me look great,” she said.

Thomas Wells | Buy at photos.djournal.com "When I first started, I was terrified that people wouldn't actually listen, or I'd have no idea what I was going to say," says Kelli Karlson, who's gotten over those early jitters after more than 15 years in the radio business.

Thomas Wells | Buy at photos.djournal.com
“When I first started, I was terrified that people wouldn’t actually listen, or I’d have no idea what I was going to say,” says Kelli Karlson, who’s gotten over those early jitters after more than 15 years in the radio business.

There are times when Karlson and Hughes genuinely annoy each other, which is bound to happen after meeting every weekday morning in the same square room for six years.

But their working partnership wouldn’t have lasted as long if their back-and-forth wasn’t in good fun.

“We argue a lot but half of that is being stupid,” Hughes said. “We pick on each other because it comes naturally.”

“It just feels right,” said Karlson, then she broke out in a laugh that regular listeners would recognize.

Hughes got his start in radio as a student at Arkansas State, where he worked at the college station and fell in love with sending his voice over the airwaves.

Karlson, which isn’t her real name, is a Starkville native. She was working in retail when a friend introduced her to the broadcast booth. She ended up with a nighttime show, but it was canceled after the station decided to carry Delilah, a nationally syndicated radio personality.

“They fired you to put her on?” Hughes said.

“Yeah,” she said.

“We’ve all been fired,” he said.

“You’re not in radio until you’ve been fired, but the term is ‘laid off’ because it wasn’t anything I did,” she said.

“I’ve been ‘let go,’” Hughes said.

Karlson and Paul Stone spent nine years together in the mornings at Wizard. When Stone went in search of other opportunities, Hughes eventually stepped in.

Stone returned to work for the station, but in the morning, it’s still Kelli and “Roadkill” Bill.

Those mornings can come early, and so can bedtime.

“I got home on Friday night at 15 ‘til 9 and planted face-first on the sofa, and did not wake up until 3 a.m., when I went to my bedroom,” Karlson said. “I can’t stay up past 9. If I do, I embarrass my friends at the movie theater.”

“Snoring?” Hughes said.

“Yep,” she said.

“Been there,” he said.

Thomas Wells | Buy at photos.djournal.com "I got into radio in college. I got a degree in communications at Arkansas State. I started working part time for the station in college and fell in love with it," said "Roadkill" Bill Hughes.

Thomas Wells | Buy at photos.djournal.com
“I got into radio in college. I got a degree in communications at Arkansas State. I started working part time for the station in college and fell in love with it,” said “Roadkill” Bill Hughes.

Hughes said he can last until 10 p.m. before having to call it a day.

“You learn. You adjust,” he said. “I don’t have any trouble getting up anymore, except on Monday mornings.”

Karlson’s day usually ends at noon. Hughes also works as the station’s program director, so he’s around later, and he’s often listening to new music at work, in the car and at home.

Their days can last longer when there are special events, such as country concerts at the BancorpSouth Arena. They give away backstage passes on the air, and one of them sets up the “Prize Wheel” before shows.

“One of us usually goes backstage with the fans to make sure everything goes all right,” Karlson said.

“For the most part, we see performers when the fans see them,” Hughes said.

But there have been special times for each of the DJs. Karlson’s came with Trisha Yearwood in her dressing room after a show.

“We talked about her wardrobe. I loved that,” Karlson said. “She said, ‘What did you think about my wardrobe for the show?’ It was great, and she just kept me there.”

Hughes wouldn’t call himself one of Dierks Bentley’s buddies, but they’ve developed a professional relationship over six or seven concerts.

“Dierks and I stood on the side of the stage and watched The Cadillac Three. It was a cool moment because he was watching as a fan,” Hughes said. “He asked if I was going to stay for his show, but I had to leave because my wife was sick. The next time I saw him, my wife was with me. He said, ‘Hey, how are you doing? He said you weren’t doing well last time.’”

“That’s impressive,” Karlson said.

“Dierks is a good guy,” Hughes said.

It isn’t all hanging out with famous people. One of Karlson’s Christmastime duties is to camp out in a tent at The Mall at Barnes Crossing. She stays until all of the angels have been taken from Salvation Army’s Angel Tree.

“I’m always scared Angel Tree will flop, but it never does,” she said.

She’s gotten it down to a science.

“I take a whole box of baby wipes,” she said. “There was one time when my Uncle Junior picked me up afterwards. He told me to roll down the window. I said, ‘Is it that bad?’ He said, ‘It ain’t good.’ That was a long time without a shower.”

The pair will take part in Radiothon, a 12-hour live broadcast on Sept. 4, when they’ll invite people on the air to tell about their experiences at LeBonheur Children’s Hospital.

“That’s our primary charity,” Hughes said. “Hopefully, we’ll help them raise some money.”

They both said they enjoyed that their jobs give them a chance to help the community.

They also like knowing people are out there listening while they’re talking in their little square room.

“If it’s important to our listeners, it’s important to us,” Hughes said. “That’s the way we look at it.”

They don’t exactly get nervous at their microphones, but there’s always pressure to keep things interesting.

“It takes a lot of preparation,” Karlson said, “or being able to fly by the seat of your pants and hope they don’t come off.”

Hughes said that whatever happens, it’s important never to pretend.

“I’d hate for us to fake this,” he said. “We are just real. We are who we are.”

And for the most part, the good-natured ribbing about selfies or other topics stays good-natured.

“I am important,” Hughes said. “I am in control.”

“As if,” she said. “I let him run my control board.”

“Ha,” he said. “I let her talk every now and then.”

scott.morris@journalinc.com

M. SCOTT MORRIS

M. SCOTT MORRIS

Forgive me, but I’m late for the party, or in this case, the wake. Like many of you, I’ve lost a much-admired celebrity.

My wife came with crying eyes and told me Robin Williams had died. I didn’t react much at the time, and I was puzzled by that.

Where was my celebrity grief?

I’d been a fan since before TV’s “Mork & Mindy,” when Williams appeared as his Mork character for an episode of “Happy Days.”

I’d pulled for him in early, overlooked movies like “Moscow on the Hudson” and “Survivors,” and I enjoyed his success in “Aladdin,” “Good Morning, Vietnam” and “Good Will Hunting.”

But there was only one movie to watch the day he died: “The Fisher King.”

I’ve owned a copy on VHS for nearly two decades, but I’ve been afraid to watch it because the VHS player ate the last tape we tried.

It was Netflix to the rescue. With a few clicks on a screen, I was transported to New York City in June, when greed was so very good.

“The Fisher King” is by far my favorite Williams movie. It’s also my favorite Jeff Bridges movie and my favorite Amanda Plummer movie. I would say it’s my favorite Mercedes Ruehl movie, except it’s the only one I can think of.

I have an overall appreciation for the madness Terry Gilliam made with Monty Python, and I’ve been entertained by his directorial work on “Time Bandits,” “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen” and others, but nothing compares to “The Fisher King.”

Bridges plays Jack, a self-centered, radio “shock jock” who unwittingly badgers a meek guy into unleashing a shooting spree at an upscale eatery. Williams is Parry, who loses his mind and the love of his life in the shooting.

A year later, the bungled and botched pair battle the Red Knight and their own inner demons, while also chasing after the Holy Grail on the Upper East Side.

Sounds gut-wrenching, doesn’t it?

It’s also kind and sweet – lyrical – and it builds to a powerfully redemptive moment that hit me hard the day Williams died.

“The Fisher King” always makes me want to be a better person.

The feeling passes somewhat quickly, because it’s only a movie, after all.

But for a minute or two, I pierce the veil to see the underlying beauty and goodness that are always there, if often obscured by fear and pain.

After watching that night, I ordered a copy of the screenplay. It wasn’t the same as sending flowers to Williams’ family, but they don’t need to be bothered by me anyway.

I also went ahead and bought a DVD copy, just to have it ready for the next time I have to face down a Red Knight, or when someone I know is thirsty and in need of a cool drink.

So long, Robin Williams. Thanks for the metaphors.

M. Scott Morris is a Daily Journal feature writer. Contact him at (662) 678-1589 or scott.morris@journalinc.com.

Mason (Ellar Coltrane) reconnects with his dad (Ethan Hawke) in “Boyhood.” Written and directed by Richard Linklater, the movie was filmed over a 12-year period. (Matt Lankes/IFC Film)

Mason (Ellar Coltrane) reconnects with his dad (Ethan Hawke) in “Boyhood.” Written and directed by Richard Linklater, the movie was filmed over a 12-year period. (Matt Lankes/IFC Film)

By M. Scott Morris

Daily Journal

In my world, the hype for “Boyhood” has been deafening, though I understand some people might not have heard of it.

I was immediately intrigued when I got word of a movie that was filmed over the course of 12 years. I watched an online discussion with stars Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke until I realized, hey, I don’t need any spoilers.

So I was pumped when “Boyhood” came to Tupelo, but I was bothered a little bit, too. Could the movie live up to the expectations?

Ellar Coltrane is the star. He plays Mason from about age 7 until 19, and part of the fun of the movie is looking at the clues to determine when time passes from one year to the next.

Hair helps. Sometimes it’s longer or shorter, and sometimes Mason’s mom (Arquette) and sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater) are the ones with the changing tresses.

But I don’t mean to oversell the hair thing because “Boyhood” is an amazing piece of storytelling, and each scene is compelling, even when it’s just Mason and Samantha spending quiet time with their often absent father (Hawke).

More important than the physical changes are the changes to the characters’ lives.

Mom tries and tries to find stability, but it doesn’t always work out for her or her kids.

Dad’s wild days seem to get further and further behind him as the movie progresses.

Mason and his sister start out as relative innocents, and slowly grow into young adults who manage to be neither cynics nor optimists.

“Boyhood” was conceived by writer and director Richard Linklater, who gave us “Dazed and Confused,” “Bernie” and “School of Rock.”

This guy has an amazingly subtle understanding of how to tell a story. There are dramatic moments in “Boyhood” and they demand the audience’s attention, but no more so than the sweet times or the ordinary times.

Allow me to be crass and say I had to use the restroom for half of the movie, which runs 164 minutes. I suffered in my seat because I didn’t want to miss anything, and I feel oddly rewarded for that suffering because, really, there was nothing I didn’t want to see.

I don’t know you. Even so, there are movies that I would have no problem recommending to you. “Guardians of the Galaxy” would be one. It’s good, summertime fun.

But “Boyhood” is special. You have to self-select for it, and I can see how the underage drug and alcohol use would set off warning signals for some.

This is the kind of thing cinema fans are going to watch simply because it’s a fresh and new way of telling a story on the big screen.

I’d argue there’s also plenty for people who simply like good movies.

If you want to go, better hurry. There’s no telling how long it’ll be at the theater.

I give “Boyhood” an A plus.

It’s showing at Malcos in Tupelo and Oxford.

Look for movie reviews in Scene on Thursdays, and listen each Tuesday morning on Wizard 106.7 between 8:30 and 8:45 a.m.

Thomas Wells | Buy at photos.djournal.com Dalton Healy, owner of Spring Street Cigars in Tupelo, stocks his humidor with cigars on Tuesday.

Thomas Wells | Buy at photos.djournal.com
Dalton Healy, owner of Spring Street Cigars in Tupelo, stocks his humidor with cigars on Tuesday.

By M. Scott Morris

Daily Journal

TUPELO – The Tupelo City Council voted to drastically curtail the use of e-cigarettes, and relaxed restrictions on tobacco.

In a 5-1 vote on Tuesday, the council banned the use of e-cigarettes at most restaurants and businesses.

“It’s not a ban like something is declared illegal,” Mayor Jason Shelton said before the vote. “It’s a ban on using the product in public.”

The vote was an amendment to Tupelo’s existing smoking ordinance.

It will allow people to use e-cigarettes in retail stores that make 50 percent or more of their money from the sale of e-cigarette products.

That compromise wasn’t allowed in an earlier version of the amendment. The compromise also affects tobacco products.

The vote allows people to smoke in tobacco shops that make 50 percent or more of their money from the sale of tobacco products. Tobacco smokers will not be allowed to smoke in e-cigarette shops.

The new rules will go into effect 30 days after Shelton signs the amendment. He indicated that he would sign off on the new rules.

“I think it’s a pretty fair compromise,” Shelton said.

Nettie Davis, Ward 4 councilwoman, voted against the ban.

“I want citizens to have freedom to be selective of what they choose to do or not to do,” Davis said.

Before the vote, it was acknowledged by those for and against the ban that the effects of secondhand vapor have not been proven to be harmful by the Food and Drug Administration.

Teri Wolfenbarger of Tupelo said there has been misinformation about propylene glycol, one of the ingredients of e-cigarettes. She said it is used in antifreeze, but it’s there to make it less toxic.

“Other uses for (propylene glycol) include baby wipes, asthma inhalers, theatrical fog machines, cake mixes, salad dressings, room deodorizers, and as a base for fragrance oils just to name a few,” she said.

Alison Farris, co-owner of Druthers Vape Shoppe in Tupelo, said she appreciated the compromise to allow people to use e-cigarettes at her store, but she thought the public ban would put the health of e-cigarette users in jeopardy.

Many users are former smokers, and the ban requires them to use e-cigarettes at sites approved for smokers.

“That would be forcing us back into harm,” she said.

Stephanie Collier with the Mississippi Tobacco-Free Coalition of Chickasaw and Lee counties, said the public ban would help discourage young people from using e-cigarettes. She also had concerns about the compromise.

“Are we going to let people come into liquor stores and test their products?” Collier said.

scott.morris@journalinc.com

Adam Robison | Buy at photos.djournal.com Tupelo resident Barbara Hamilton has a two-bedroom home, but one bedroom was turned into a sewing room.

Adam Robison | Buy at photos.djournal.com
Tupelo resident Barbara Hamilton has a two-bedroom home, but one bedroom was turned into a sewing room.

By M. Scott Morris

Daily Journal

TUPELO – Barbara Hamilton does good in the world with needles, thread, patterns and batches of fabric.

She was born in Memphis, and her family moved to Tupelo when she was 13. About a year before that, her mother showed her a thing or two.

“I started making my own clothes when I was 12,” Hamilton, 74, said. “My mother was a seamstress, so I got that from her. My father was a tool and die maker, so I got all that stuff from him.”

The stuff from her father came into play when she and her first husband were living in Hawaii. She studied fashion merchandising and pattern making at the University of Hawaii, and later applied those skills as a single woman at Hang Ten, a surf apparel company in California.

“I was hired to cut samples, but before long I was making patterns,” she said.

Working in the clothing manufacturing business brought her in contact with Don Hamilton, an Englishman who came to the states in 1962.

“When he would go back home, they thought he sounded American, but here, everyone thought he was English,” she said.

Don Hamilton loved a challenge, so he traveled from one opportunity to another, setting up manufacturing facilities for clothing companies, and his wife went with him.

In Bangladesh, they enjoyed the black-tie social season with embassy personnel.

In Panama, Hamilton got used to seeing young men with AK-47s at the supermarket and everywhere else.

In England, they spent their free time turning a big place into an intimate one.

“We lived in London, and we would walk all over the city,” she said. “It got to the point that it seemed like a small town because we knew so many parts of it.”

Don Hamilton eventually went into business for himself, opening clothing plants in Guatemala and Jamaica. His wife stayed at their Naples, Florida, home, where she turned to sewing as a pastime.

Adam Robison | Buy at photos.djournal.com When Hamilton makes clothing for kids in Africa, she chooses bright fabrics because she believes the children need color in their lives.

Adam Robison | Buy at photos.djournal.com
When Hamilton makes clothing for kids in Africa, she chooses bright fabrics because she believes the children need color in their lives.

“But I didn’t need too many clothes. I would sew for my husband, too, but he didn’t need that many. I said, ‘Well, I love to sew. I might as well do it for somebody who needs it,’” she said. “I took the finished pieces to the abused children’s thrift store. They said, ‘We’ll take these right to the shelter.’”

The Hamiltons moved to Tupelo after Don Hamilton had a stroke. She continued her sewing and made quilts for her grand-nieces and stepgrandchildren.

“After that, I didn’t have anyone to give the quilts to,” she said. “Don said, ‘Who is that quilt for?’ I said, ‘I don’t know. I just have to keep making them.’”

She’s still making quilts and they go to S.A.F.E. Inc. in Tupelo for kids who’ve had to leave their possessions behind to escape domestic violence situations.

“I don’t want the quilts to be put away,” Hamilton said. “They’re for the kids to cuddle with and play with. If they want to run around, dragging them on the floor and having fun, that’s what they’re for.”

Don Hamilton died about five years ago, and Hamilton eventually moved into a two-bedroom house in west Tupelo. One of those bedrooms became a sewing room, where she makes clothes and quilts.

She makes dresses, shirts and pants for children in Africa. She was inspired after reading a story in the Daily Journal about teens sewing for Little Dresses for Africa, a nonprofit.

“You see the kids on TV wearing rags, so they need clothes,” Hamilton said. “I try to make them in bright colors. I make small, medium, large and extra large dresses. They’re all the same width. I just make them different lengths because the kids are so undernourished.”

She has no idea how many dresses, shirts, shorts and quilts she’s made and didn’t seem to care what that number might be.

Hamilton knows she’s one of the lucky ones, and she wouldn’t trade away those exciting days traveling the world at her husband’s side.

She’s also lucky, now, to have her sewing room and a way to make lives brighter for young people she’ll never meet.

“It’s something I can do,” she said, “and I’ll keep doing it as long as I can.”

scott.morris@journalinc.com

Lauren Wood | Buy at photos.djournal.com Photographer Milly West of Oxford is one of 15 artists selected for Mississippi Museum of Art's 2014 Mississippi Invitational in Jackson.

Lauren Wood | Buy at photos.djournal.com
Photographer Milly West of Oxford is one of 15 artists selected for Mississippi Museum of Art’s 2014 Mississippi Invitational in Jackson.

By M. Scott Morris

Daily Journal

OXFORD – A skilled photographer can capture stunning, moving images while maintaining a sense of artistic distance behind the camera.

But photography is more about attachment than detachment for Milly West. The Oxford resident connects with people and places, and she gets excited by the results.

“It’s so much fun to come home and pop my memory card in the computer and see how they look on a big screen,” West, 65, said. “Sometimes, that feeling goes away. Sometimes, it turns your stomach with joy, then a little later, there’s a problem over here, and what’s that over there? It’s not quite right.”

Her advice to new photographers is to take “bunches of pictures. Practice. Practice. Practice. It’s going to work out.”

That approach worked for West. Her photos are in collections at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C.; the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans; and the Brooks Gallery in Memphis, among others.

In addition to posing for this photo, Ignacio of Santiago, Cuba, has opened his home for West during her many travels to his country. (Courtesy photo by Milly West)

In addition to posing for this photo, Ignacio of Santiago, Cuba, has opened his home for West during her many travels to his country. (Courtesy photo by Milly West)

West received the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award in Photography twice, and she was recently selected as one of 15 artists to be included in Mississippi Museum of Art’s 2014 Mississippi Invitational exhibition.

For the Invitational, which will run Nov. 1 to Jan. 25, the judge saw West’s submissions then visited her studio, a converted garage on Bramlett Boulevard.

“She chose five photographs for the exhibit,” West said. “I’m so excited.”

West isn’t exactly sure where her passion for photography originated, but she has a working theory.

One clue comes from a snapshot of her mother, who’s holding a fishing pole in one hand and an old Brownie box camera in the other.

“I remember her teaching me how to put the film in and how to take pictures,” West said.

She did some photography in journalism classes at the University of Mississippi, but her work remained in the snapshot realm for years as she raised children and watched many episodes of “Sesame Street.”

A casual event that looms large occurred in 1982, when a neighbor wanted to attend Delta State. West agreed to show her around the campus and the Delta.

“We went through Clarksdale just because I was showing her around, and I said, ‘How do you feel about stopping, taking some pictures and walking around?’” West said. “She was fine with it.”

West was captivated by the flowers in the yards, the kids playing ball and the women in their colorful clothes.

“A few weeks later, I drove back, and I found something truly exciting around every corner,” she said. “It was very poor but incredibly full of life. I couldn’t stop. I was so enthusiastic. I would talk to people. They would relate to me, and I would relate to them. They were very welcoming. When I went back the next time, they were so happy to see me because I brought back pictures.”

History

Those visits opened something in West. She attached herself to the Delta, a place she and her camera still visit.

“I think a lot of my work is image-driven, and part of what I love about Clarksdale and the Delta in general is the color of the clothes and the color of the houses against the sometimes drab backdrop, the old buildings, the gravel or whatever it is,” she said. “You never know when somebody’s going to walk down the street in green pants.”

Mississippi history also draws her. In recent weeks, she’s photographed the Glendora building where Emmett Till was taken the night he was murdered at age 14 for flirting with a white woman.

“You have this forgotten place, but it was where he was killed, so it’s important,” she said.

That image hasn’t circulated widely, but another she took in the 1980s has become part of permanent collections.

In Clarksdale, she walked into a drug store that belonged to Aaron Henry. She saw three larger-than-life posters on the wall of James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, who were murdered while trying to register blacks to vote.

“Aaron Henry said, ‘I keep the pictures there to help the kids remember. I don’t want them to be forgotten,’” she said.

Over the course of five or six years, West took multiple images of those posters in the store. One of her shots is part of the Icons of Freedom exhibit at the Mississippi Museum of Art.

Southside

But that’s getting ahead of things because her photographs were mostly a private pleasure to be shared with friends until she and her husband at the time opened Southside Gallery on the Oxford Square in 1993.

"Paulette at Her Mirror" was taken in 1983 in Clarksdale. (Courtesy photo by Milly West)

“Paulette at Her Mirror” was taken in 1983 in Clarksdale. (Courtesy photo by Milly West)

Unexpected visitors saw her photos on display and included them in an exhibit at the Corcoran Gallery.

“After the show, they wrote me and said they really wanted to keep them for the permanent collection. They had no money but would I donate them? Of course, I said, ‘Yes.’” she said. “I didn’t go to the show. That’s a regret I have, but you can’t do everything.”

In addition to the Delta, West regularly turns her lens on her town.

“I have so many thousands of photographs documenting Oxford history, and also documenting Oxford’s people and iconic places,” she said.

Southside Gallery put her in touch with artists and art lovers, and it also helped open a whole new country for exploration.

Artist Bill Dunlap walked in one day, and West told him what was on her mind.

“I said, ‘Bill, I really want to go to Cuba,’” she said.

He gave her the name of a gallery owner who was scheduling a trip. That was 18 years and more than 30 trips to Cuba ago.

“It was just a spark of an idea because it was mysterious and nobody went there,” she said. “Somehow it happened.”

She knows exactly what led her to Cuba: Ricky Ricardo (Desi Arnaz) and his band at the Tropicana in the “I Love Lucy” show.

During her visits to Cuba, her childhood fantasies were replaced with concrete images. She’s made friends with everyday people, whose embrace of color reminds her of the Delta. She’s also filled her home with sculptures and paintings by ingenius Cuban artists.

“It’s such a fascinating place and such great art,” she said. “I can’t not go there.”

Her Mississippi photos have been exhibited in Havana and Santiago, and her Cuba photos will be displayed in the Mississippi Invitational.

Lauren Wood | Buy at photos.djournal.com “Cuba for Keeps,” West’s book of photos from Cuba, is available at Square Books and her website, millywestart.com. It costs $35 and proceeds benefit victims of Hurricane Sandy in Santiago, Cuba.

Lauren Wood | Buy at photos.djournal.com
“Cuba for Keeps,” West’s book of photos from Cuba, is available at Square Books and her website, millywestart.com. It costs $35 and proceeds benefit victims of Hurricane Sandy in Santiago, Cuba.

She also compiled her work in “Cuba for Keeps,” a book that retails for $35 at Square Books and her website, millywestart.com. Proceeds benefit Hurricane Sandy victims in Santiago.

“Part of what I enjoyed doing with the book was getting to write about my images,” said West, who sold the gallery and went on to teach at Ole Miss’ Department of Writing and Rhetoric.

She’s retired now and thinking about getting ready for the Mississippi Museum of Art Show in Jackson.

Before that, she has to prepare for a show at Greg Thompson Fine Arts in Little Rock, Arkansas, that opens Sept. 25.

Further along the horizon, she and David Ray Morris, the son of Willie Morris, will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the day they spent taking photographs in Clarksdale. That exhibit will be January in Clarksdale.

Taking bunches of pictures, plus plenty of practice, practice, practice, has worked for West, and no doubt her zeal for the work and her subjects has contributed to her success.

“Really, I get excited looking through old photos, finding something and going, ‘Hey, I remember that,’” she said. “It reminds you of what you loved about them. Not all of them, of course – there are some duds – but, yeah, it just comes back to you. It’s fun.”

scott.morris@journalinc.com

I said nasty words in the office on Wednesday, moments after learning Tupelo’s Bruce Smith was killed in a car accident.

Ever since getting the sad news, I’ve pictured Bruce’s smiling face and remembered that I owe him something.

I had a great time interviewing him for a 2009 story. He was genuinely entertained by life, and he was a gentleman well-versed in making others feel comfortable, welcome and important.

When the story ran, an editor had changed the headline to identify him as the leader of Tupelo Symphony Orchestra.

With his years on the symphony’s board of directors, a case could be made that he was “a” TSO leader, though he didn’t appreciate being called “the” leader.

But he laughed it off when I called to apologize, and he was highly complimentary of the story.

I sometimes find it difficult to take compliments, but Bruce had an effusive, heartfelt quality. He could lift people up, even if they weren’t sure they wanted to be lifted up.

The Bruce I knew was always a good guy, and by always, I mean every time I saw him over the past 15 or so years.

Wait.

There was that one incident.

He used to write reviews of symphony concerts for the Mighty Daily Journal. An editor trimmed a review and Bruce wasn’t happy about it.

It’s easy to give him a pass because I’ve dealt with plenty of editors, and they’re a bunch of CONTENT DELETED.

About four months ago, Bruce stepped in and took my side after I’d gotten hammered by people online.

Thomas Wells and I were on the streets during the April tornado. I caught video of the swirling mass as it ripped through town, and later wrote about what it was like to witness a real, live twister.

I mentioned that we’d hid under a bridge, and a few people got angry, saying that’s exactly where you shouldn’t hide. One wrote, “I’d like to hit them in the mouth.”

Bruce was my only online defender:

“This is a wonderful piece of writing – vivid, gripping, even poetic in the presence of a great cataclysm of Nature. If Scott Morris and Thomas Wells had to shelter under a bridge for Scott to produce this stirring account, it was worth it.”

I don’t know if I agree with him. In hindsight, what we did seems awfully stupid.

But I’ve been carrying a “Thank You” for Bruce that I’d meant to deliver the next time we met.

Now I have a picture of his smiling face popping into my mind. It happens again and again, too many times to count, and it’s always followed by a lingering “Thank You.”

I hate that Bruce died. I hate it for his family. I hate it for his many friends.

But I like the idea of spending my days with a pocketful of gratitude for a good man.

M. SCOTT MORRIS is a Daily Journal feature writer. Contact him at or (662) 678-1589 scott.morris@journalinc.com.

AP Photo/DreamWorks, Francois Duhamel Gifted chef Hassan (Manish Dayal, center) finds himself caught in the middle of a battle between his Papa (Om Puri) and Madam Mallory (Helen Mirren), the owner of a classic French restaurant, in “The Hundred-Foot Journey.”

AP Photo/DreamWorks, Francois Duhamel
Gifted chef Hassan (Manish Dayal, center) finds himself caught in the middle of a battle between his Papa (Om Puri) and Madam Mallory (Helen Mirren), the owner of a classic French restaurant, in “The Hundred-Foot Journey.”

By M. Scott Morris

Daily Journal

Food isn’t only about bodily needs. For some, it’s a combination of flavors to be savored, and eating is an event to be experienced.

“The Hundred-Foot Journey” is a love letter to and about people who form emotional connections with the food they prepare and/or eat.

Hassan (Manish Dayal) and his family are fleeing hard times and bad memories from their native India, and end up in a picturesque French town because that’s where their van breaks down.

Hassan has a gift for blending spices and flavors, and the town proves to be the perfect place to explore his passion.

There’s a potential love interest who’s happy to share cookbooks and advice. Marguerite (Charlotte Le Bon) and Hassan have an easy camaraderie that hints at deeper things to come, as long as neither one blows it.

The hundred-foot journey in the movie’s title refers to the distance between the Indian restaurant that Hassan’s family opens and the classic French restaurant across the street owned by Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren).

The battles between Madame Mallory and Hassan’s Papa (Om Puri) are often amusing until they threaten to get out of control. Throughout the drama, Hassan keeps developing his skills by adding Indian touches to classical French cuisine for tasty effect.

“The Hundred-Foot Journey” is a sumptuous movie that’s cooked slowly over low heat, though there are a few moments when action spices things up.

I left the movie knowing a little bit more about the high-pressure world of modern cuisine. I also devoted some time to daydreaming about packing up my word processor and moving to a French village.

I wouldn’t say “The Hundred-Foot Journey” filled me up the way a great movie can, but I was pleasantly entertained, if not hungry for more.

I give “The Hundred-Foot Journey” a B plus.

It’s showing at Malcos in Tupelo, Oxford, Corinth and Columbus, as well as Hollywood Premier Cinemas in Starkville.

Look for movie reviews in Scene on Thursdays, and listen each Tuesday morning on Wizard 106.7 between 8:30 and 8:45 a.m.

Lauren Wood | Buy at photos.djournal.com Rob Lesley of Romie's Grocery Catering wheels a cart of food for breakfast the next day into the Furniture Market Building VI  Wednesday afternoon.

Lauren Wood | Buy at photos.djournal.com
Rob Lesley of Romie’s Grocery Catering wheels a cart of food for breakfast the next day into the Furniture Market Building VI Wednesday afternoon.

By M. Scott Morris

Daily Journal

TUPELO – “Radical hospitality” is the order of the day for Rob and Leeann Lesley at the Tupelo Furniture Market this week.

The pair own Romie’s Grocery, which has fed buyers and sellers at the market for about four years. The Romie’s team expands to about 15 people, depending on the needs, and they’ll feed thousands of folks over the next few days.

“We’ve tweaked it over the years,” Leeann Lesley said. “Now, we’ve got a really good system together.”

Her husband said one of those changes was to realize that people have their own ideas about when to eat.

“We’ve learned to roll breakfast over into lunch and to roll lunch over into dinner,” Rob Lesley said. “We just keep it going.”

Mornings start at about 4:30, and work days generally run until 9 p.m. Different sponsors pay for breakfast and dinner, while lunch is when Romie’s Grocery charges individual customers at a stand in Building VI.

The team also travels to different buildings to cater parties, such as the Sparkle and Spirits events scheduled for Friday and Saturday.

“We like a challenge,” Leeann Lesley said. “We feed people all the time.”

But the market requires special planning.

“I’ve got an 18-wheeler in the parking lot filled with food,” Rob Lesley said.

To feed hungry business people from Wednesday to Sunday, he ordered about 7,000 pounds of food. The grocery company provided a refrigerated truck with the order.

“They just dropped it off for us and left it,” Leeann Lesley said. “When you order that many groceries, they will do that for us.”

In addition, Rob Lesley estimated his team brought about 3,000 pounds of food from the restaurant on Jackson Street.

There’s a food preparation room at the market that includes coolers and food warmers, as well as tables.

But it’s not a professional kitchen, so most of the cooking takes place in the parking lot at the catering trailers.

“We’re used to this,” Rob Lesley said. “We cooked for 10,000 people at Ashley Furniture’s company picnic.”

Menus for the next few days will include fried chicken, barbecue, fried catfish, cornbread, country vegetables and all kinds of breakfast fare.

The lunch operation reflects Romie’s Grocery’s usual offerings, country cooking, sandwiches and salads.

They’ll pack up Sunday, and sometime between then and the next market, the pair will think about possible tweaks to their system.

“We keep good notes,” Rob Lesley said, but he said it in a sarcastic way, then admitted, “She keeps good notes.”

“He uses crayons or anything to write with. Sometimes, he’ll rip off a piece of a food box and write a note on that,” Leeann Lesley said. “I keep good notes, but I can’t cook, so it works out.”

But reflection comes later. Until Sunday, the focus is on keeping market-goers well fed.

“We try to be hospitable to people from out of town. You want them to come back,” Leeann Lesley said. “We show a little radical hospitality.”

scott.morris@journalinc.com

THOMAS WELLS | BUY AT PHOTOS.DJOURNAL.COM Morgan Fisher, 9, learns how to milk a cow during the Lee County Extension Service Centennial Celebration at the Lee County Agri-Center on Tuesday.

THOMAS WELLS | BUY AT PHOTOS.DJOURNAL.COM
Morgan Fisher, 9, learns how to milk a cow during the Lee County Extension Service Centennial Celebration at the Lee County Agri-Center on Tuesday.

By M. Scott Morris

Daily Journal

VERONA – Molly Ray helped open Lee County Extension Service’s Centennial Celebration at the Lee County Agri-Center on Tuesday.

The 15-year-old Tupelo resident has been playing violin for 10 years. There’s not a 4-H club for violin, but she said her archery club comes in handy when she plays “Amazing Grace.”

“I pull the bow with my left hand,” Molly said. “With the fiddle, I finger the strings with my left hand. Archery makes the notes easier to hit because your hand is stronger.”

The reason behind Tuesday’s event was to mark the 100th anniversary of the federal Smith-Level Act, which created the extension service.

But the true purpose was to highlight how individual lives like Molly’s have been impacted over the years.

Vickie Lindsey, 65, of the Brewer community, is a 4-H leader, but she was playing the part of a grandmother while examining some of the exhibits.

Shelby Lindsey, 13, and her 11-year-old brother, Jacob, were in Australia, but they still won ribbons with help from their grandmother.

“They sent me all kinds of photos from Australia for me to enter,” she said.

Jacob snagged a shot of a koala, while Shelby had numerous photos of the Australian coast.

“Jacob said his sister only let him have the camera when their daddy made her,” Lindsey said.

Shelby also entered her bug collection, which claimed a grand prize, as well as the admiration of Marie Owens, 8, of Verona.

“I like the bugs the best,” Marie said, “and the cupcakes, chips and hot-dogs.”

Outside, there was a goat, bunnies, ponies and chickens. Kingston Blanchard, 5, of Okolona, seemed to enjoy the ponies.

“He is a Clover Bud this year,” said his mother, Lakeisha Ivy, who grew up in 4-H. “He’s just getting started.”

Inside the Magnolia Building, Kendall Young, 15, of Okolona, was a grand prize winner for her painting of a guitar.

“My mom said, ‘What if somebody offers you money for it?’ I said, ‘Well, I guess they can have it,’” Kendall said.

As predicted, a man offered her $100 for the painting at Tuesday’s event, and Kendall accepted.

“He said I could keep the ribbon,” she said, “so that was good.”

Joshua Collum, 10, and his sister, 6-year-old Lauren, recently moved back to Tupelo, and their parents enrolled them in 4-H.

Joshua won five blue ribbons and two red ribbons for his trouble.

Lauren was busy, too.

“I did a bracelet, a picture frame, a snowflake, a magnet, a flower…

“A vase,” her mother, Ashley Collum, said.

“A vase,” Lauren said.

Neil Monaghan, 53, of Mooreville, and his 12-year-old daughter, Charity, were recruiting possible members for the 4-H robotics team.

The current team, which includes seven guys and Charity, took first place at the Mississippi State Fair in Jackson last year.

“You could make animal robots, so we put fur on them and everything,” Charity said. “Ours was Yogi Bear. He went down a zip-line and picked up a picnic basket.”

“It wasn’t a picnic basket. It was a pic-a-nic basket,” her dad said, though it might’ve been better if he’d used a Yogi Bear voice.

scott.morris@journalinc.com